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October 2023
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Final bank holiday before Christmas

And the last chance for meaningful DIY.

For once, I am going beyond the standard painting, weeding, and cleaning.  I’m looking at something a bit different.  Over the past year, we’ve been doing some of the final projects in the house; so it’s the way we want it.  Part of that has been rearranging rooms having learnt how we want to make use of the space.

We also “long term borrowed” some key pieces from my parents many moons ago, and with her house move, some of that is making its way back to the right owner.  That’s allowed some significant moves and the move towards a dream hobby space for me.

There are a couple of issues: the desk I’ve inherited is too big and very damaged.

So that’s my task next weekend.  Replace the damage top so it fits the space better and make something that will allow me to sew without snagging any fabrics.

Boring, why are you making this much fuss!

Well, the table is big – I am making it smaller but I am replacing a skinned frame with solid MDF.  At 1260x800x36mm, this piece will be heavy man!

Because the initial table was relatively light, it had a back brace too.  I’d like to keep this for strength, so that will need to be cut down.  But in many respects, this should be: measure what was there and replicate it.

I’ve measured everything three times and finally bought the replacement top.  It should arrive by Thursday next week.  I’ve already bought the paint for the top – at the thickness I’m looking at, it is difficult to get preveenered MDF and I’m definitely not brave enough for doing that myself!


Alright now.  Apologies, this is my first project of this type and a bit of a fore runner if it is successful.

When we had our bed room fitted, there had been a drawer unit inside a siding door cupboard – we kept the runners and the drawers and these would make a great unit for my hobby room.

That’s my project for spring…

R and R

Yes, it is a Monday and yet I am catching up on my blog.


Well, at a moment’s notice, I took a week’s leave, and because it was such short notice, I felt quite bad about killing my incrediably busy Monday last week.

I was pretty tired, and having had a big holiday in February, we hadn’t really planned anything for this summer. But leave is there for a reason – it’s to allow you time to not work and take some time to smell the roses.

Trouble is, I am a proud home owner, and staying at home in my case meant some tackling some of my long term to-do list. I serviced my sewing machine and fixed the cushions I made a while ago. Re-joining a split seam and adding poppers to stop that happening to the rest.

I’ve cooked, from scratch, all week. My husband suggested meeting our son for lunch one day, which I did by cycling over to see him. I’ve pottered. I’ve relaxed. I’ve enjoyed not commuting.

I’m going to make a desk over the August bank holiday and I’ve learnt exactly how to do that!

I’ve finally cooked a microwave roast chicken my son couldn’t fault. I went to my motorcycling group’s club night on a motorcycle. I’ve not got up when the alarm has rung in the morning. I travelled up to see my mum. I’ve seen a couple of films at the cinema. I’ve read a book. I’ve had fewer hypos, I have weighed most of my food.

I’m back to work tomorrow. It’s going to be so restful by comparison!

Little fixes

I am of an age where I would watch Blue Peter on a Tuesday and Thursday afternoon and wonder at the “projects” – the making of a Sindy hair salon (yes, really, I’m British, so it was Sindy not Barbie) to a Thunderbirds island.

Now, as a kid, these were really impressive but involved having equipment like “double sided sticky tape” and “sticky backed plastic”. Which as I didn’t get any pocket money until I was 12, was a tall order.

Joy of joys though, I’m now a grown-up and can easily afford such things, but likewise, I can afford to buy pre-made things too.

So, why am I writing this down today?

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should…

Actually, I’m agreeing with you. I have done odd things round the house: made cushion covers out of trimmed down curtain fabric, bought spare fabric so we can have coordinated rooms. Little things, quick and easy.

A few years ago, I saw Kirstie Allsop making Christmas Crackers and thought I’d give it a go. Kirstie suggested a hot glue gun, and I thought, if I have one, there are a few odd jobs round the house I can do with it too.


Got the glue gun yesterday (I did try this with just “the gun” but that looked a bit odd, so please forgive the extra word). Oh joy. You can see my proto-cracker (though a little naked) here.

A naked cracker with blank moto inside and the snap in place

It’s a little bit of a reuse story – the tubes are indeed empty toilet roll holders. The moto paper are the trimmings from train ticket printouts (as they don’t require power).

Could I just take a moment to say I am VERY tempted to insert the motos before adding the last toilet roll tube as putting it in afterwards is VERy fiddly but then that is the point of a prototype, to work out the best way to do things.

Now, ever since I was a child, I have listened to peoples’ reactions to the contents of crackers, which is why I am doing this.

My son hates the jokes, and has volunteered to make some material for the paper.

I hate the prizes, so I am working on that.

My mum hates the hats, so I’ve asked about alternatives.

It’s July, which should mean I get the time to fine tune all the pieces. We can have a perfect Cracker set for Christmas Day – and hopefully, no waste.

Not quite the end of the story…

Oh yeah?

Yeah! A long while a go I learnt some upholstery skills to re-cover some dinning chair pads but learnt the principles of doing a settee or a comfy chair on the day.

Now, after 28 or so years, our favourite two seater we use in the kitchen (anything bigger just won’t fit in the space) is looking in need of such tender loving care. But one thing I can’t do is fix broken foam.

I had a bright idea to trying washing the arm pads which were in a very sorry state. Being wadding, you have the option to wash them. So I did, and then tumble dried them (energy intensive but hopefully better for the planet than throwing them out and buying new).

They came up beautifully and are just as comfy as they now look. Result 🙂

Really should get on and make the new loose covers and main body…

Shh, but there are things you wouldn’t believe I can do. But I shouldn’t have to do that.

I hate to say this, but I have a feeling this might turn into a whinge

Shock, horror, no?

Hey, I try not to moan. Life is on the whole pretty amazing. Great job, really interesting and despite being the wrong side of 50 now, I’m still learning some really cool things.

After four beloved years with my old phone, I have made the upgrade to the latest shiny offering. Like many, I used the switch my mobile app to make this easier – though guys, really, nearly 4 hours?

Any, shh, but I do do a reasonably technical set of things for a career and on a good day, I do a quick and tidy job of it. so moving to a new phone shouldn’t cause too many issues.

Of course, being type 1 diabetic means my phone is doing some quite involved stuff. Which is also fun, when it finally all comes together and works. Which is rarely, if ever, first time.

I use Dexcom G6 – a continuous glucose monitor to help keep my glycated hemoglobin (the amount of blood sugar that has stuck to my red blood cells) as low as I can without being hypo – while I am old, hypos are still not pleasant or particularly safe if you are on the road (as either a pedestrian, cyclist, motorbiker, or car driver. The alarms give me enough warning to stop these or highs (remember that pesky glucose sticking to my blood cells, that causes all sorts of issues) from being too big.

It means my chances of being a spy or thief have disappeared completely, nothing like sneaking around silently have completely evapourated…

Back to the chase, please!

Thanks, that could have gone anywhere… So, such devices really impress the non-diabetics out there, while providing a source of comfort and despair for those who need them. One thing you can do with the Dexcom is get the reading on your watch. My kit is all geared up to allow this but, it not being an apple device, I have to jump over some hurdles to get there. The new phone meant this all had to be done again.

Step 1: Pairing watch to new phone has completely reset the watch. Groovy, all the side loaded (yes, that’s really the term) applications to give me my blood glucose on my watch have disappeared.
So, reset all the things on my watch while waiting for the phone to get back to where it should be.

Step 2: Phone has lost ALL setting for Dexcom, so restart the sensor on the phone (which worked better than I thought it might) and get that all going.

Step 3: side load the app. Now, to say this is convaluted is not really explaining how hit or miss this feels. I think I was a little unlucky in the fact that the watch had a softwear upgrade during the faffing. But six time worked a charm. Thank you “wear installer 2”.

I am sitting here have contorted my mind round the whole, it’s still not working, and able to view my blood glucose – if you’re struggling, powering down and removing the Dexcom G6 app from the phone and watch does give you a clean slate from which to build. Must remember that for next time 😉 Happy weekend.

Not what you say, but what you do

It is Sunday afternoon, and I am watching a download of James Martin’s Saturday Morning which I really enjoy but rarely find something there that I can have – it’s definitely treat food not everyday food.

I love food, I love tastes and textures. Combinations of ingredients, some contrasting and some complimentary. Herbs and spices, and tasty food items.

This weekend, while the sun has been shining, I have been cooking.

Yesterday evening, I made a ratouille with a garlic bread from the frozen half of my pizza dough. It was my turn to cook on Sunday, so I did a roast chicken and used that to make some stock and the left overs (with the stock) will make risotto tomorrow. I am just waiting for some dough to be ready to shape into rolls. Again, a chicken and stuffing roll will be made from these left overs for me and my husband. Four meals out of a roast chicken – one for three people, two for two people each. That one chicken is feeding seven adults.

Which sounds terribly domesticated. It’s more than that. How we used to eat made the most of not just the food (and potential left-overs) but residual heat from ovens. I should have started the rolls while the oven was still hot, but I am doing a crumble later and that will be after cooking the rolls. Making the most of the remaining heat.

This time of year, we’re starting to make the switch to heating our water with electricity from the solar cells. It will mean we get a little less from our export rates (less electricity going into the grid) but much better in terms of burning gas. It’s now warm enough to just need to wear jumpers in the evening once the sun sets.

Looking forward to the upcoming week, hope yours is good too.

Going mainstream to make the most of the space

When I first read the details for our house, the master bedroom having a walk-in wardrobe was tantalising. A real wow factor. The reality was a bit disappointing – the door for the room hit the main bedroom door and because of sloped ceilings, there was no real room.

I took out the single hanging rack and put in a wheeled dual rack which gave easy access to the back which allowed the depth of the space to be accessible. Ironically, when we started having people in to fit the whole room, they all said to take the walls out and build in cupboards.

Crazy idea, but that is indeed what we did. Opening up the space made room for a bench opposite the cupboards. The double wardrobes are extra deep, allowing plenty of storage for shoes, bags and hats, behind full length hanging. I have a ball gown in there without effort.

Losing the wall meant the tight corridor we had is now a light filled area. We made use of the electrics for the walk-in to provide LED lighting in the cupboards and a light for the walk way. An oak mirror and the bench means you have somewhere to sit and remove your shoes and air them without causing a trip hazzard.

I love it, who’d have thought going more mainstream would improve life and storage options so much?

So, is it better to cook yourself or by in ready made?

When my mum started earning decent money by returning to work full time, my childhood home saw more ready meals coming into the house. “Bung ’em in the oven”s, delicious meals you simply heat through.

My son was much younger than us when I returned to work, and like my mum, we had three or four meals a week for the whole family that were simply reheated, either in the conventional oven or in the microwave. Often, we bought a meal for two adults and boiled up rice or pasta with some vegetables to bulk it out. As my son got older, we added more starch and/or dishes. It has to be said a young child doesn’t need an adults portion.

We had some staples we added to it: spaghetti bolognese was often home cooked or risotto or stir fry. Roast dinners came on the menu as soon as our son was old enough to enjoy them – we bought small joints and didn’t do left overs.

Sounds either like neglectful parenting or perfectly reasonable. Your point?

So much has changed since he’s moved back home as a young adult. We all cook, we don’t always all clean up. My husband is less tolerant of a mess, so during the week, he ends up doing the majority of it. We’re much more, you make the mess, you clean it up during the weekend.

We also do so much more. I tried making my own pizza today – something I’d had no ambition to do before this year. For a type 1 diabetic, pizza isn’t the easiest thing I eat: if I do get the bolus right though, it is a wonderful food, tasty, filling, healthy with vegetables and diary, and a great blood glucose curve.

I am not keen on sweets and desserts in general, but home prepped ones are much easier to consume with consistent results to your blood glucose.

It’s the time it all takes. Not just putting the ingredients together: they all have to be bought and measured out. Then there’s the washing up. I cook lean, producing as little washing up as possible, which means a bit more running around. So, I not only get the calories at the end of the meal but often the little booster I need during the cooking process all adds up in the end 🙁

Then there’s the rubbish. For every success go after several tries, there are often many failures. For all the mess, sourcing of ingredients, jogging up the kitchen or spreading out from the original worktop, success is never guaranteed on go one.

If the taste is just disappointing, we all help out, and make helpful, if not welcome, suggestions. I had mixed results with the pizza today – very nice but a bit thicker than usual.

Of course, it doesn’t stop with reading the recipes in the books in your kitchen. There’s a whole internet out there with blogs, pages, videos, and more.

I’m well and truly down this rabbit hole. Happy eating 🙂

It shouldn’t work, but it does

Our kitchen is wrong on so many different levels. Yes, it has a great area, but being L shaped, means it shouldn’t work at all.

There are blind spots, it miles to walk anywhere, and the original units did not consider any of this. It also did not consider anyone would want an American style fridge – we not only wanted one, we had one to accommodate.

The first week of lockdown, I realised how to not only fit everything into the living space – big table, big fridge, fixed units – but how to make the room work.

It’s all about zoning the space – we have a “living end” which has two, not quite facing each other, doors to other parts of the house. It also has patio doors out to the “back garden” (we kind of have two). This living space is narrower than the kitchen but squarer.

Then, there is the kitchen end, which has two windows out on to the front of the house. It’s long and reasonably wide.

We had a floating dinning table and floating American style fridge.

Instead of having the table float between the kitchen and living space, we twisted it round so it separates the kitchen from the seating area. The seating area has a pair of coffee tables, a comfy chair and two seater sofa. The table now naturally sits 6 but can be moved away and up to allow 8 people to sit very comfortably. We have a four seater table that can also be brought in – a kids table and grown-ups one.

For now, this has great flow and every party ends up in here. Longer term, we’re going to remodel, build the fridge in and the microwave, freeing up a huge amount of floor space and worktop too. Much more storage (though not something we’re short of now). Space to allow more than one person to cook (remember flow, the kitchen has choke points even though it is a big room – how does that happen?).

So, I’m sitting here, building kitchens in the air.

All change

It’s strange how lives evolve. I got my bread maker in 2006 as a Christmas present. My husband was not convinced this was a good present but our son didn’t like bread and we’d been throwing out part eaten loaves because we couldn’t get one small enough for when we could eat it. Commercial bread is designed to be good when you buy it but has an unbelievably short shelf life as a result.

Being a busy working family, we both worked and our son was in school, life was hectic and this gave us a means to enjoy bread. The Queen of France may have asked, why don’t they eat brioche, but I love English bread and French loaves. White, brown, mixed grains: it’s all good to me. Initially, I cheated, I used mixes. I still do, very simple, and guaranteed results in 1 hour 55 minutes.

With lock down, mixes were not available, so I started with flour, oil, sugar, salt, water, and yeast. I started to seek out alternatives. My baguettes are lovely with home made soup (a different proposition).

Now, my mum thinks it’s lazy to have the bread maker, but it means I can set it off to mix a dough and all I need to do if not making a cooked loaf is shape, finally prove, and bake. For the working family, this is luxury – the Christmas gift that keeps on giving.

Today, we’re having tea cakes for lunch. 2 hours 20 minutes to get the dough ready for cooking. 15 minutes final proving, then baked for 20 minutes. It’s a meal, not pud. While still warm, we spread butter on and eat.

Yesterday, after a busy couple of days in the capital, I had a fresh baked roll with brie for lunch. 8 minutes baking from the freezer and heaven on a plate. Not 100% healthy but soothed my soul and filled me up. Kept my levels where I needed them too. Home-made bread works so much better than commercial loaves.

I’m pottering about the house, contemplating making some pasta for use over the next month – freezing before shaping means this is perfectly fresh and takes moments to cook.

One day, my bread maker will die. My husband says if that happens and I am also toast, he’s not replacing it.

Even if he’s not around, I am no longer convinced life would be worthwhile without my bread. (Oh my days, I’m an addict!)

To B or not to B, that is the question

You’ve spelt be wrong!

Not I haven’t, the B is not the infinitive of the verb but whether or not it is nobler in the mind to bolus before food is estimated to arrive.


The B is for bolus and ideally, I should take the dose I need to cover “basic food”, things like rice and pasta, vegetables, etc, with non-fatty sauces, 15 minutes before I start eating. Such foods are quickly metabolised, releasing their payload of glucose quickly and pretty predictably.

Where-as my current insulin, novorapid (or aspart) takes 15 minutes to start working. Hence the pre-cognition skills type 1s using such insulins need to have to ensure they meet the food about to come… As Douglas Adams pointed out in the Hitch Hiker’s series, talking about time travel is a bitch, please see one-of-the-major-problems-encountered-in-time-travel-is .

Time travel?? Pre-cog?? Are you hypo?!

Grrr, no I’m not. Not even within a margin of error.

I am talking about analogue insulins which are way better than the older animal and “human” insulins in terms of on-set of action, but still no where close to being perfect, especially when delivered subcutaneously.

I have another few days before I can return to my beloved fiasp. Like aspart, fiasp is based on a simple insulin molecule but has the addition of L-arginine and niacinamide to the molecule. L-arginine is an amino acid used to build protein in the human body and niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3. The two additions allow the body to absorb the insulin through the subcutaneous layer much more quickly and importanly reliably.

Instead of the 15 minutes before the insulin starts working, the wait is a mere 5 minutes. Given I’m middle aged, that means injecting when I eat should give me great results.

So why write this article, well, while I’m waiting for the days to pass, I have an opportunity. We’re getting take-out, which has a definite ETA and the chance to do just that… Of course, that would assume that the time is guaranteed, traffic delays, someone taking the order to the wrong house, don’t happen…

Let’s just say that I’m counting the days to get back where I was this time two years ago.