Gandalf enjoys the sun

and supervises the attempt at catnip regeneration.

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Random Musings #59 – Gandalf the Undecided Arriving

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Happy Lughnassadh/Lammas/1st Harvest/Lupercalia/Valentines or whichever celebration you enjoyed recently!  Mr U and I did very little for Lughnassadh beyond gathering some of the plums from the tree in the yard and reflecting on what’s ‘harvested’ or near to it in our lives as we enjoyed the juicy sweetness.

FredGandalf

For Lupercalia however, we decided to give some love away…to our newly adopted kitteh, Gandalf.  We bring him home from the Cats Protection League shelter this Friday.  His name at the shelter is Fred, and whilst the concept of calling him Freddie (as in Mercury) was considered, we decided that since he’s a combination of grey and white, that Gandalf (The Undecided?!) fits better.  He’s an absolute charmer, has buckets of personality (which is a good thing in this household or he’d get lost in the shuffle!) and he’s almost as vocal as a cat with considerable amounts of Asiatic pedigree.  He’s also a big, boofy 2-year old, so he’s sturdy enough to cope with 2 visually-challenged people and one heffalump with a cane.

The next few weeks are shaping up to be busy ones socially for me/us, and keeping a rambunctious kitteh amused for the 5-6 weeks he needs to be under house arrest for his vaccinations to be effective is going to be interesting!

That time that the house needs to be closed up however, will give me plenty of time to finally set up my scrapbooking/paper fun space.  Mother has kindly given me desk-space and now I really need to make some kind of order of it so it’s usable. An added bonus to that is the chance of another storage box being freed up so we can store a few items not staying in the house neatly and safely in the garage.
We’ll probably still have to invest in at least 2 more wheeled storage boxes for the as-yet-still-unpacked shipping cartons in the garage (I know what’s in ’em, I just need to motivate to empty ’em!), but that’s all in the plans.  Besides, we are looking to set up a workspace for Mr U in there, so having things cleaned up and packed up neatly will make it easier.

So, plans ahoy, and life moving forward at speed! Which is really nice.  Things are falling into place so well that it’s making us laugh. Which is a good way to greet life!

 

Random Musings #58 – Move, Work, Meow?!?

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Hello from the other side of an ocean to where we were a little over a month ago! Yes, I do sound chipper, thank you.  🙂  The move, whilst stressful in it’s own ways, has been very good for us.

Mr U has got a full time job (finally!), that started exactly on the date he wanted it to.  He had a lovely 4 weeks off that let him hit the ground at the new facility smiling and ready for the new challenge of being a senior assistant/team leader. He’s enjoying the job, rapt about the improvement in uniform, working conditions and so on.  Onward to his continuing advancement as planned!

Me, looking for work, but happy to continue puttering about, working around the house until my health improves to a point that I am not a hindrance rather than a useful employee.  And if no work eventuates, I’m considering finding out at the local primary school the requirements to help out in their reading recovery programme or similar.  It won’t be paid work, but I’ll be doing something that has value to someone as well as gets me out of the house for a time.  And the school is close enough for me to puff and wheeze my way there on a bicycle.

2014 has begun, and it’s looking pretty good for us so far.  🙂

With regard to the various blog prompts and themed things I was taking part in last year; I’ll call it a good dash done on them.  Things got on top of me then, and this is now.  If I come across something that isn’t the Pagan Blog Project (sorry folks, there’s enough people rehashing the same topics repeatedly), I’ll consider taking part, but for now, I’m going to go back to my Random Musings (Rantings?) posts with occasional belief-themed stuff in the mix.  The format worked, I liked it, and to be frank, it was easy to blog like that.  Whilst life continues settling in, that’s what I need.  I’ve missed blogging, and I’m looking forward to renewing my enjoyment of it.  And if things go to plan, this little animation will give a clue as to some of my future subject matter!

Random Musings #57 – Dude, where’s my stuff?!

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movingdayOur house looks like the pic.  Yes, almost down to the labels on the cartons too!  (We have a photo of a carton from our last move to prove that I do ascribe to this kind of labelling process!)

However, there has also been a massive amount of stuff that’s either gone to new homes or made it’s way to landfill.  For a shining example; the local council has “hard rubbish day” a couple of times per year.  You can put anything that doesn’t fit in the big wheelie bins, old furniture, lawnmowers, fridges etc out, and they’ll have their hardworking garbos sling it into the truck and haul it away for you, for free.  However, if your stuff is someone else’s treasure, you get situations like we had…

A mild day, but rain seems to be pending based on the humidity and the vaguely grey skies.  It’s 4 days out from hard rubbish day, but we’re desperate for somewhere to put packed cartons and it’s Mr U’s day off work.  (Very helpful concept that, rostered days off, particularly when the two days prior to hard rubbish day are rostered on.)  Having borrowed the outlaws’ sack barrow, it’s full steam ahead to putting out the assorted furniture items and other shit stuff that we aren’t taking with us or have deemed excess to requirement.  First on the trip down the driveway is the BBQ, sans full gas bottle.  (Safety was on our minds with it being storm season.  A 20kg, full bottle will leave an impressive crater if hit by lightning!)  Mr U returns, we load the first bookshelf, and it’s off down the drive.  Total time elapsed, 3 minutes.  He comes back to the garage with an incredulous expression.
“The BBQ’s gone.  Totally gone.  Wish I’d seen who took it, I’d offer them the gas bottle too.”  We still have the gas bottle (probably going to be donated to the outlaw’s motor-home supplies now) if you’re the person with our BBQ!

Fast forward to last week, and the lady from across the road is being shown around Wits End as a potential new tenant.
“Thanks for the bookshelves!” she grins.
Good to know where they disappeared to so rapidly too.  Still wondering who had use for the metal pipe of the old vacuum cleaner, and what precisely the ratted out purple suitcase was intended for, but maybe it’s best not to extrapolate to murder weapons and body hiding?!

So here we are, 3 days out from international uplift of our stuff, and I’m having knicker-fits due to the kitchen stuff still being in the kitchen.  It’s only the stuff I was intending to have packed by now so we could spend the last couple of days double checking we’d packed everything, filling out customs declaration forms etc.  *SIGH*  Procrastination I am the queen of.  It shall get done today, so help me Goddess.  TODAY!  That way I can deal to the forms and paperwork tomorrow in time to go to the village and print them out for Tuesday.   That’s the plan and I intend to stick to it damnit!

It will be hard to be without internet from mid-next week when we head to the outlaws for our last few days in the country.  I think I’ll go nuts, and certainly won’t do so quietly.  Must download a few e-books before then.  And send out the ‘new address’ emails.  OMG.  Another ‘To Do’ list!!!

See you all when we get back on deck!

Door to the future  for 13 Dec

Leaving on a Jet Plane…

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Well, after several years of thought, consideration and some dialogue, Mr U and I have reached a point of decision.  4 years ago I packed my things, kissed my Mum goodbye and got on a plane to Australia, supposedly “the lucky country”.  I had hopes of a new start and even higher hopes that the people I was about to join as their latest family member wouldn’t be hostile.
4 years later, my hopes are very much in a deep hole in the ground.  But, there’s been some good in other areas that I do appreciate – the loving husband, the few dear friends, finally realising I had depression and getting help for it, and the chance to admire the rainbow-hued birds of this country.

Thought, dialogue, consideration… have led Mr U and I to the decision that we’re going to migrate. He’s coming home with me, to Christchurch, New Zealand on 14th December this year.  I admire his courage in doing so, given that 2 years ago the city pretty much fell down in a series of earthquakes that claimed a number of lives. It can’t be easy having that in the back of the mind as we prepare to pack up, sell up and wind up our lives here.

So, I’m packing up my gangly Gandalf and we’re heading back to Middle Earth!

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Kitchen Kaos at Wits End 15th August 2013

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A loud clatter and a cry of “Ow!” came from Mr U, who was in the kitchen, serving our homemade pizza dinner.

“What’s happened darling?”  I raise my head from the computer to ask.

“Did you know that opening the oven door with the oven mitt on one hand and then reaching for the hot baking tray with the other, bare hand isn’t really a good idea?”

“I learn something new from you every day darling…”  as I bow my head to the screen once more.

 

12-Month Challenge – Culinary Wizard

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Culinary Wizard – get in the kitchen and create a magical recipe

Blog 6 of the Challenge (at last!).  My reason for the delay has been explained a few blogs back; and I also noted that the culinary wizard in the house was likely to be the wizard of the house, so here it is!

Inept Kitchen Witch Truffles, Two Ways (guaranteed easy and foolproof!) [and 80 proof if you use the right stuff!!]

Christmas trufflesWay the First:

  • Approximately 300 gms of rich fruit cake (left over Christmas cake works well)
  • A goodly slosh of preferred spirit – brandy, whiskey etc. (Booze free option – a splash of orange juice/dark grape juice or a little pouring cream if you want it richer)
  • Glace cherries
  • Cooking chocolate – dark and white – for dipping and decorating
  • Any other kind of decoration you might like (we used royal icing Christmas themed doodads) eg: cachous, pieces of candy cane, home-made icing holly etc.
  1. Crumble the cake in a large bowl – this is easy by hand – getting the mixture as fine as possible but not being overly concerned about the fruit/peel that’s in most fruitcake.
  2. Add the goodly slosh of liquid refreshment and work it into the crumb.
  3. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to firm up the mixture a little.
  4. Take large pinches/small handfuls of the mix and work it so that you can pop a glace cherry in the centre before rolling the mix around the cherry, covering it.  Do this with all the mix, lining the truffles up on kitchen paper.
  5. Set up the dark cooking chocolate in a double boiler to melt, taking care not to get water into the chocolate.
  6. Dip each truffle into the chocolate, allow excess to drip back into the bowl/pot and then put the truffle on kitchen paper to set.  Dunk ’em all and give them about 15-20 minutes to set – pop them in the fridge again if it’s warm.  Do a taste test.  😉
  7. Melt a little of the white chocolate over the double boiler in a clean bowl/pot.  Using a teaspoon, dribble a little on top of each truffle freehand, making it look like the topping on a Christmas Pudding.  Add any decorations you like before the white chocolate sets. Do another taste test. 😉
  8. These truffles will keep for up to a week if kept in an airtight container and cool.

 

Marachino trufflesWay the Second:

  • Bake a plain chocolate cake – packet cakes work fine too if you’re short on time or inexperienced in the kitchen.  Allow the cake to cool completely.
  • A goodly slosh of preferred spirit – brandy, whiskey etc. (Booze free option – a splash of orange juice/dark grape juice or a little pouring cream if you want it richer)
  • Maraschino cherries, leave the stems on.
  • Small handful of shredded coconut.
  • Cooking chocolate – dark – for dipping and decorating.
  • Cocoa powder for rolling.
  1. Same process to create the truffle “dough” as for Way the First, mixing in the shredded coconut as well.
  2. Same process to encase the Maraschino cherries, leaving the stems sticking out.
  3. Use some of the mix to make plain truffles (no cherries), simply rolling small balls.
  4. Same process to dunk in chocolate for the cherried and some of the plain truffles, putting them on kitchen paper to set.  Taste test time!  🙂
  5. Cocoa trufflesThe remainder of the truffles can be rolled in a light coating of cocoa powder to finish.  Yeah, you guessed it, taste test!  🙂
  6. These too will keep for about a week in an airtight container in a cool place.

Kitchen Kaos at Wits End, 21 July 2013

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Kitchen Kaos, Part Deux:
Mr U is preparing part of tonight’s dinner (he’s on an evening, so we send him off with a good dinner in his bag) in the kitchen. I hear a definite ‘clunk’ noise, followed by an annoyed “OW!”

“What’s happened sweetheart?” I ask in concern.

“Did you know we have a rangehood above the stove?” Mr U responds.

“I’m laughing with you dear, not at you…” as I valiantly attempt to smother the giggles.

Kitchen Kaos at Wits End, 20th July 2013

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Kitchen Kaos on Saturday night… Mr U is roasting a chicken for our dinner, and enthusiastically prepared vegetables to go with it. Vege went into the oven successfully. He goes back to check on the progress of the meal and I hear several colourful curses from his Gollum-esque position in front of the oven. “No! No, no, that has to come out. Right now is good…”

The sound (and yummy scent!) of the oven opening, a scramble for oven mitts and then the tap running.

“What’s happened? What part of yourself have you burned?” I ask.

“Nothing happened. I’m not burned. The big kitchen knife however shouldn’t be handled for a while. We now know our kitchen knives can go in the oven. For whatever reason we might want to bake a knife…”

Uh huh. Roast knife to go with our chicken and veges…. Only at Wits End!