Wednesday, 29 February 2012

word cloud

All I had to do in order to get this, which does appear to be based on my last couple of posts rather than many  more, was:

  • start up computer
  • load site 
  • install java
  • install plug in
  • give permission to run plug in. 

which took a little over an hour. But still.

Thank you wordle.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Purple blues

I'm developing a slight aversion to pink because everything baby girl related is pink. I dress E each day in a varying array of pink and it's getting nauseous.

Blue doesn't look quite right though for a baby girl, due mostly to the explosion of baby blue everything at the non pink end of the baby aisle. It doesn't unduly upset me to have blue around my girl, I don't share the preoccupation with gender stereotypes that sees poor wee girls with hideous bows attached to their heads. She has two older brothers after all and so has a fair bit of blue. She hasn't changed gender yet.

Our footmuff is blue as it was inherited from a baby boy. It is lovely and fine, but I thought I would dye it purple as a more feminine sort of colour, and because I'm kind of obsessed with purple.

Machine dye: inexpensive and easy to use.

Easy peasy.

I now have a purple washing machine and a blue footmuff. Not a purply blue, noooo, exactly the same blue as before. After the initial dye cycle it was a lovely lilac but that was swiftly washed out by the second "to rinse" cycle.

Washing machine remains purple of door and trim even after a restorative empty wash. Although this final cycle was commenced off my watch and so was done at 100 without a de-purpling wipedown first.

I am unpopular, out of pocket to the tune of £7 and right back where I started.

Still, the quest for an all-purple life (except that which is burgundy) is just a little less distant.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Blind in the face of celebrity


I just completed a vote for Bounty on celebrity guilty crushes. Now, I realise that the whole point is to admit to lusting after those that aren't conventionally fanciable, but some of these were taking that too far.

Mr Tumble for example. Justin Fletcher is lovely, talented, kind, funny and all manner of positive things. He is not sexy. At all. And as Mr Tumble, he is positively asexual.

Simon Cowell is oft mentioned as a celebrity crush. Don't get that one, nor Andrew Marr or Heston Blumenthal, both of whom also appear on such lists more often than is fathomable.

James Corden, standing at #2 in the vote, is vile and not even funny. No, he isn't. If you want sexy because they're funny: try David Mitchell or Charlie Brooker. Or sexy and funny: Rhod Gilbert.

So, for people involved in the list of guilty crushes: Mr Bloom. My own personal happy to admit to crush. Because Ben Faulks is obviously fit in his spare time. I gave him 10/10.

James May, also asexual, was on the list and Jeremy Clarkson wasn't. Just me then. I'm sure Clarkson used to be on these lists, he must have gotten too old. Or maybe it's the national sense of humour failure over his rants. Who knows. He's still practically my perfect man and I know. I so know. I have flimsy principles.

Phillip Schofield was winning, probably because he's nice looking and doesn't qualify as a guilty secret.

I fear I'm showing my age here. I'm 78 you know.

There were others that I feel meh about. And the one that disturbs me, the man who my brain persists on acknowledging as nice looking: David Cameron. If you like toffs, he's handsome enough. Still a loathsome toad, but fairly nice looking. Nick Clegg used to be very nice looking then he sold his soul and now just looks sad. That's the Cameron effect and allows me my favourite tag. Huzzah.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Mind changing

I remember a time when I used to make my mind up and stay with it.

Not so any more. Decisions are difficult, I have enough difficulty sticking with a menu choice between ordering and eating. Big life decisions are even harder. What if? What if? What if?

So, the decision. As I have now shared this information with my boss, I can divulge unexcitingly that I have decided not to return to work. Which would be in direct contrast to the recent decision to return. Saying as how we're so rich that we don't need help with childcare, I would be working for next to nothing and I'm not going to do that.

By next to nothing, I mean it. I would earn considerably less per week (after childcare) than the amount given as Jobseekers Allowance. I can probably shave that off the shopping bill.

And, contrary to what our esteemed leader believes, we are not a rich family and we will need to do that shaving of the budget.

As to my diet, I don't appear to know. I had some salmon for lunch. Scottish sustainable salmon, but the first fish I've had in a long while.

In four years I have gone from omnivore to vegetarian to pollotarian and now it appears pescetarian. Maybe pescepollotarian, red meat is BAD, but chicken is not. Chicken can make me gag though so I may seek my protein from soy and sustainable fish.

Until I change my beliefs/tastes/mind again.

I don't seem to have changed my political mind however. I still have, according to online quizzes, 100% concurrence with Liberal Democrat policies. Except that one that they actually adhere to, the one where they sit back and let the Tories implement Tory policy.


Friday, 24 February 2012

How to eat fish

Yes, more fish. And this time a change of opinion.

I've been investigating dietary ways to reduce blood pressure. Mine is perpetually raised and I'm hugely concerned.

High potassium foods have been proven to lower blood pressure, and bananas (über food) certainly have an effect on my readings, more than the stupid drug I've finally been taken off.

Some other high potassium foods are marvellous foods from a taste perspective, my favourites include:

Sweet potatoes
Ice cream
Chocolate (more pure cocoa than dairy milk, but still, woo)

And fish. Of course. The health food that is fish. Also good for potassium. Typically.

I've been concerned for a while about the health benefits I don't get by not eating fish. Omega-3 is the healthiest thing on the block it seems. It is shown to be beneficial in a number of manners, including as a protection against cancer and cardiac disease - which is obviously what I'm concerned about with blood pressure issues. And where do you get Omega-3 from? Oily fish. Also high in potassium. Super.

Option one would be to take Omega-3 supplements. Upset stomach and fish breath? Er, no thanks.

Can I eat fish? I don't actually like a lot of it and have zero intention of ever ordering it in a restaurant. Except maybe mussels. Hmm. Or scallops. I like them. Salmon? Trout?

Ok. Chill.

Thanks to an iPhone app called the Good Fish Guide, I have now a list of fish that are super duper both from a being-high-in-potassium-and-Omega-3 point of view, and which are super sustainable.

By which I mean, they are not threatened with extinction, the fishing of them does not cause peril to other species and is well managed while minimising any environmental impact.

The news is good.

Mussels are green for go.
So are Rainbow Trout and Alaskan Salmon (Atlantic Salmon is bad and evil and must be avoided).
Skipjack Tuna and Lemon Sole are also green for sustainable, as well as other fish I wouldn't eat or haven't heard of. The green list of consists of:

Rainbow Trout
Alaskan Salmon
Skipjack Tuna
Lemon Sole
Halibut (but only from the Pacific or farmed from the Atlantic)
Pouting or Bib
Red Mullet
Turbot (only if farmed, not sea caught)

The fish that are red for evil and which should not be consumed by anyone with a conscience are:

Black scabbardfish
Crimson Snapper
Greater Forkbeard
Halibut from Greenland or sea caught from the Atlantic
Lesser spotted dogfish
Bluefin Tuna
Northern Prawns
Orange Roughy
Parrot fish
sea caught Prawns
Rabbit fish
Ray (any type)
Red Snapper or Snapper
Rough Head Grenadier
Shark (any type)
Silver Scabbardfish
Skate (any type)
Starry Smoothhound
Sturgeon (or caviar)

No, me neither.

The many, many types of seafood that are missing from either list are classed as yellow which means "think". They may be vulnerable and/or subject to overfishing so "think" and mostly opt for a better fish.

This includes cod, haddock, whiting and sea bass. And scallops.

I've not eaten fish yet, I still maintain my principles. But my health does take priority over my principles and so we'll see. I went back to meat by having sustainable meats, so I exert my right to have my mind changed.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Fine dining

Masterchef is nearly done and the cooking is vairy vairy posh.

I do wonder what you are to do if you have a limited diet in any way and go to a fine dining occasion where set menus are presented, complete with fish, meat and any manner of offal, feet or shells as garnish. Last night's Masterchef had 238 legal top boffins and it seemed all 238 were served a fish starter and steak main.

Yes, vegetarianism again. Shoot me.

In my limited experience of fine dining it does seem to be that the finer the food, the more the food consists of whole creatures. Seafood particularly is served in its entirety: legs, shells, eggs sometimes. Even in my voracious omnivore days I couldn't eat something that looked like it did when it was alive. Prawns I liked, assuming they came as little curls of meat, not with their entire being attached. Nor could I eat a fish with its head and eyes on my plate. Fish appears more as the menu gets more refined, and the finest is plucked from the sea and plonked more or less directly onto the plate.

Pork also, tasty food, but why serve the trotters and ears? The posher one is, the rawer the beef and lamb are served. Masterchef often criticises contestants for serving meat cooked to what I would describe as edible. Not well done, just cooked. They call it overdone. I've cooked a lot of meat in my time and I have never served it either dry or half raw.

I have on two occasions had genuinely fine dining. Once at a quite marvellous wedding, and once at a Michelin starred restaurant. On both occasions I had vegetarian meals as I was fully vegetarian at the time. On both occasions I was served sublime food that was equal in perfection to any meat dishes. At the restaurant I had the vegetarian taster menu and seriously, if you can get food like that without meat, why would you ever eat meat?

On both the aforementioned occasions however, I was made to feel slightly freakish. I get that most people aren't vegetarian, but there's a sense that eating everything is sophisticated and turning the pigs ears down is crass. More than that, I get the impression that vegetarianism is considered to be the premise of teenagers and tree huggers and anyone else is kind of immature or simply uncultured.

I find as I get older and, one would assume, maturer of mind, that I care more about the planet and the life upon it as a whole. I don't like being made to feel stupid and unworldly for doing so.

Gluten-free is smart and clever; vegetarianism is silly. Unless of course you know anything about nutrition.

I do eat some meat, for now and not for long. I make meat for my children. I like to choose vegetarian dishes when eating out though and I'd like to be able to do so without pasta or mockery.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

How to lose friends and intimidate people

I read a lovely lot of ranting today, I nodded along and agreed and enjoyed a good rant by another.

However, I do feel I need to clarify my position on fish and so I'm going to take the easy approach and link to a previous blog that kind of covers it.


Or you could click the tag "fish" on this one.

While I like to rant on, I worry about offending people. I have my opinions and as this is my blog, I voice them. That doesn't mean I expect everyone to share them. Which would be nice, obviously, but possibly a little dull.

For example, if I was to say "cable knit leggings look awful on anyone over the age of 8", that isn't to mock those of a greater age who have them. Except, don't wear them out of the house. They don't look good. Really. I'm only saying it for your own good.

I can't help it. I offend people all the time and I'm not intentionally nasty. Just intolerant and sarcastic, which are lovely attributes.

I do apologise excessively, it all balances out. I think. People still talk to me, and that's probably not just for my wit and repartee.

Incidentally, if Boris Johnson or David Cameron read this, which they obviously will, then I do mean to offend you. Hugely.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


I don't know why I look at stats. The number of views-by-bots just demotivates me.

Aim for the next occasion when I make promises to myself:
increase volume of traffic to blog to sufficient levels to rid me of the auto views by flaming bots.

Interesting imagery conjured up by the last two words of the last sentence. Sorry about that.

I have made a decision, I can't tell anyone what it is yet. Which is KILLING ME.

Most other thoughts are somewhat depressing today, I'm not sure why. I blame David Cameron, because I can.

Monday, 20 February 2012

The wonder of our government

I'm sorry, this may be political, or my version thereof.

Today we received a letter from HMRC informing us that we will not be receiving Child Tax Credits any more because we earn over £26,000 as a household income.
Which naturally makes us rich, right?

A worker on the minimum wage would earn £12k full time. So if you earned £60 a month over the minimum wage and your partner earned similar, then you earn too much to get tax credits.

Rich, rich, rich you'd be too. Rich. Beyond your wildest dreams, as long as you dreamt of a very small flat and not a lot in the way of nice stuff.

As we currently receive a little over £1 a day in tax credits, maybe as much as £1.50, this isn't a huge tragedy. But what is galling:

a) in what universe is £26k a good single salary, never mind a joint salary?

b) no child tax credits means no childcare element. So no help with that then. Thanks, just as I need it too.

So I moan, and get reminded it was Labour that got us into debt, of course. Not a global financial crisis, oh no: Labour. So the valiant Tories have to sort it out for us, so that they can afford the Royal Yacht and other Important Things.

Unless I am mistaken, Labour weren't all for taking our money from us for nothing. They did allow "us" to spend all of our money and get into personal debt, which is another matter, but they didn't simply take our money. Like the Tories do, which isn't surprising as that's what Tories do, and this is one of many reasons why we don't vote for them. Or do, in the case of an alarmingly large number of people, even if it wasn't enough to vote them in without turncoat sell-out Liberals.

I realise that many/most people think I am naive, and even stupid, for not blaming Labour for the global financial crisis and for not thinking that the Tories are a better alternative. But I find it incomprehensible that anyone can know what the Tories stand for - immigration anyone? - and vote for them.

I would like to point out that I am
not a Labour supporter. Prior to the Nick Clegg betrayal debacle, I would have called myself Liberal but I definitely don't support them now. Currently I guess I'm SNP, because they have done many positive things for Scotland. In a general election I think I'd have to vote Green.

I used to be ambivalent about independence, but it now has a huge incentive: no Cameron.

And back to my mate Dave. He has offered Scotland "increased powers" if we have a single question on independence and we vote No. SNP propose two questions so that we can vote for increased devolved powers instead of independence if that's how we see fit. One would assume that we'd specify which powers, something that is notably lacking from David Cameron's offer. That's something to be revealed after we've voted.

Details, schmetails, why would we want to know WHAT additional powers you propose? And by "additional obviously we're looking for "less".

Dontcha just love the UK government?

Friday, 17 February 2012

Boys will be boys

Oh the joy of school holidays, in this case "half term", which for us thankfully is three days and not 6 like most other regions.

Pro of holidays: no school run.

Con of school holidays: the children are home all day.

Due to being particularly skint, I thought it would be a good idea to invite a friend of the boys to play on Wednesday, which meant I spent two days frantically shit-shifting to make the house look presentable and the boys' room accessible without climbing gear.

The house now looks normally untidy. This is a result, but not a great one.

So on Wednesday afternoon, friend number one appears, best buddy of twin one. This friend is relatively calm and plays quite nicely. Twin two was rather marginalised though and a bit miffed, so in my befuddled state I thought it was an idea to invite twin two's best friend today.
Friend number two is here now and I am going demented. Twin two is high pitched and hyper with an attention span of a few seconds. Every time they get something out, he moves onto the next thing. His poor friend has started 56 games and actually played none.

Twin one is not marginalised, he simply shouts louder for attention. The noise levels are deafening and so I have escaped to my bedroom while the baby inexplicably manages to nap.
Just over an hour to go and then I think a nice quiet stare at the tv is required.

Lego now. I've just put away the last Lego game. Exhausting.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

As February goes by...

It's not very far on in the year and this here bloggage isn't happening on a daily basis at all.

Ah well. Such is the way of all (my) intentions.

Naturally I have had a fulfilling and active time in my absence and haven't spent all the time playing with my 3DS at all. Not one bit.

Ok, maybe.

In my head I am writing a novel to win the Good Housekeeping competition to win your book in print. I have formulated an excellent back story, but am failing to get the main story or anything actually written. 5000 words and synopsis to be submitted by 31 March. Is this likely? It is not.

I am also mentally composing my Masters dissertation which I need to make a decision about really soon.

I have however actually made the decision to return to work. Having done a handful of "keep in touch" days, I feel this is a marvellous idea when I am in the office, and feel it is a terrible idea when I am at home. To be pondered at length at a later time possibly on another blog.

So. That is where my head is. Mostly with Mario.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Mums online

So today started off badly at bedtime last night, the mood is not good. Badly organised bedtime = bad sleep and hectic morning.

During baby's nap this morning, I elected to sit down with a coffee and The Wright Stuff. To find them chortling about the much maligned Mumsnet.

I have reservations about Mumsnet; google lists results from there highly on searches (and indeed other forums) and instead of a sensible answer to your query, you find the opinions of the general public. Who invariably lack specialist knowledge and may write utter drivel. As is the way with forums, you also get incensed arguments from every viewpoint on just about any topic. Idiots are free to post and their opinions are recorded for posterity as long as they adhere to the rules. The rules and etiquette don't allow you to say "you are an imbecile and your opinions are potentially dangerous" so there they are, popping up in your search results. Annoying.

But still. Leave us mums alone. A pet hate of mine is the smugness of those with their interesting media lives mocking those who spend a lot of time online. No, we still don't have anything better to do.

Mumsnet is often targeted: why do mums whine about having so much to do then spend all that time online?

Because of course, when you have a baby you have simply millions of people to speak to... If it is your first baby, you may not know other mothers, you might find your old friends turn a bit glaikit when you bore on about baby and you also are likely to have a million "is this normal??!!!" questions. So you venture online. You find people in the same position. You chat to them. Next time you need to chat, you chat again. It's reassuring. It's companionship.

Later, when you may be feeling aaaaaaaaargh! and at that all-I-do-is-change-nappies stage, you can impart your own knowledge and feel a little bit useful. Never underestimate feeling useful at that stage, it doesn't happen often.

This morning one woman quipped about the women on Mumsnet never leaving the house unless maybe to go to Waitrose.

Welcome to life with a baby. That's what happens. Ho ho, such mirth.

Yes, some über mothers have a full and marvellous life with endless coffee mornings and baby sessions and being out there generally doing things that aren't free to do. But they are not looking for company online, are they? They're at Starbucks with their Real Friends.

I do sort of understand the query as to why mums complain about having no time and then spend time online. But seriously, if you spend hours entertaining, feeding, comforting and generally caring for a baby, and that baby has a nap, are you seriously expected to crack on immediately with chores and not have a spot of feet up time? Should we be being domestic 24/7?

Do people, who are busy with things that aren't children and who complain about having no time, genuinely never watch tv or phone a friend or have a bath, or go to the pub or out for a meal? Never? We all need time out somehow.

You also need to talk to someone, babies aren't the best conversationalists.

Don't get me wrong, I don't LIKE Mumsnet (on account of the idiots, sorry) but please, criticise them for the right reasons instead of insulting all mums.

I need to go now, I'm off out for coffee with a mum friend. The joy of a second baby is that you do know mums now. Huzzah.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Happy birthday Mr Dickens

Charles Dickens was born on 8th February 1812, which makes this the 200th anniversary of his birth.

You will of course know this due to attending all the Dickens Dinners and the general celebration of all things Dickens. What, you haven't?

I was reminded that it was the bicentenary - of the arrival of an infant Dickens - by an email from Lovereading. Why wasn't I bombarded with this? He was one of the greatest writers of all time, if not the greatest, and provided us with much of our view of Victorian England. What would have been his 200th birthday should be a cause for celebration, should it not? Google acknowledged it, as they do, but there was little said elsewhere.

Living in a country which goes potty over Burns, who wrote poetry, I fail to understand why the English/British don't remember their great writers, namely Dickens and Shakespeare. Admittedly they don't know for sure what Shakespeare's date of birth was, but they do know he was baptised on 26 April so that'd be a good day to celebrate him. And as for Dickens, they do know when he was born; today was the 200th anniversary. Significant, no? Just me?

I think it is maybe a measure of the Scots and our fiercely patriotic tendencies, but we dedicate a day (and gain yet another excuse to don a kilt and get drunk) to our most famous writer. Who wasn't as talented or prolific as either Dickens or Shakespeare. I categorically dismiss claims that Burns was Scotland's answer to Shakespeare.

28 April shall become Ian Rankin day sometime. Honestly it will. Maybe just in Fife, but it will

Come on England, remember your famous sons!

I raise a cup of coffee to Mr Dickens, thank him for his legacy and renew my vow to get on with reading his works...

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Perfect skin

It's about make up. I am, after all, a girl. Yes, girl. Ok. I am a woman. Grr.

Due to my ongoing preoccupation with my face and the fact that it is unhidden by tresses, I have been forced to investigate the wearing of make up.

Not that I am unfamiliar with the wearing of it, I adore make up and own many many different types (mostly lipsticks, a woman can never have too many). But I rarely get made up, I don't take the time. On nights out and when I need to look "done", I do like to look pretty and all, but on a day to day basis, nah. To be honest, being clean and having my hair brushed is as good as it gets, and in this brilliantly cold weather, the latter gets eschewed in favour of donning a hat and forgetting about it.

Which goes awry if I end up going somewhere where I have to take the hat off, as the hat-hair that emerges is a bad hair day's bad hair day.

But, back to the neglected face. It looks a bit, well, like I need a spot of make up. I have discovered a new product. It calls itself a miracle: Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector. It is "based" on BB (Blemish Balm) creams, which seem to be the new black for faces, but for £9.99 I'll go with "based on", over £30 "actually".
I like. It is essentially a tinted moisturiser, it goes on like a moisturiser (so takes seconds) and looks like it's not there. Except my skin looks nice.

And then, if I'm feeling extra generous with my time, I can add on the beautifully overpriced Yves St Laurent blusher (now apparently just called blush) and mascara I spent all my birthday money on, and one of the 56,000 lipsticks or glosses that I own, et voila! A face to be seen in.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Ageing disgracefully

Periodically I catch sight of myself and am surprised to see a middle aged person looking back at me out of the mirror. The short hair and specs add to this; I look and feel kind of old. As do my peers, I'm sorry to say. We ain't young no more.

My children add to this feeling of decrepitude by talking about my youth as "the past" and asking what I did before television was invented. Incidentally, I don't go there with computers and phones, they can't comprehend it.


I don't care. I wouldn't want to be younger again. I would have less confidence, more insecurities and less of the things that bring me joy now.

I don't worry about things that worried me even just five years ago, but I care more about the world as a whole, about our future and the existence that lies ahead for my children. I am interested in more and more as I get older, and that's great. I want to know about what's going on, I guess I want to be a part of it, albeit a very quiet part.

I hope I have more than half my life still to lead, so I'm not really very old. But I do think I finally feel like a grown up. And I like it.
Even if I do play too much Mario.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

February is here

Hmm. It seems to be the 5th of February. Oops.

Which does mean that I forgot the birthday yesterday of someone who used to be very important. Which is a bit sad. Not that it was their birthday, but that it doesn't matter that I forgot, because they couldn't care less.

I've got another to-be-forgotten birthday next week but I have more self respect than to spend another moment thinking about that one.

The date also means I haven't blogged for a while.

What have I been doing?
Playing with my 3DS mostly.

I have Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, which is a turn by turn strategy game. I like it a lot. I'm spectacularly bad at first person shooters, so lining my men up and telling them to shoot is far better. This game also shows the 3D effect off splendidly.

Mario 3D is defeating me. There is no invincibility cheat in the Special World, so the tricky levels are tricky. Although to be fair, the tricky levels normally involve Luigi falling off things rather than being stung by an enemy. I am Luigi still, who doesn't seem to have a purpose. Nobody to defeat, nobody to rescue. He is fun, especially when he wins a level and way heys in the most camp manner imaginable.

But behold the greatest game ever. Mariokart 7. Now mine.
Everything you'd expect from a Mariokart title. Except no challenges like the previous DS title had. Boo. 4 new cups and 4 retro ones. New features include customisable karts, a parachute to float down from heights, a flower item to shoot flames at opponents, all seven items as one item pick up and probably other things I have either not found yet or have forgotten.

In other news, I've been on my annual jolly to Glasgow, which was, as usual, ace and should be more often than annually.

I have had my hair cut properly short. Possibly an error, I lack the prettiness of face required to carry off the Face On Display thing.

Blogging excuse: not been very well with infected finger and a cold. Poor old me.