Archive | July 2012

Cleaning the oven


That’s a strange title for a post, you might be thinking, but since it takes up almost 1/3rd of a day, I thought it was worth writing about it.

I cleaned my oven on Tuesday morning. It’s a weekly task! I was brought up in the 1950’s when things were very different, but are they any better now? I doubt it, to be honest. My mum was a stay-at-home mum and naturally I benefited from that.  Now before all you 30 somethings start hollering, I know things are different now, but are they really? I wonder.

If you could, would you stay at home to look after your house and your children? Would you enjoy it or would you be bored?

I brought up my boys in the 1970’s and yes, I stayed at home to do it. I considered it a full-time job. They tell me now that they had a brilliant upbringing and a very happy childhood. I didn’t so perhaps I was making sure that they did. That’s another story.

When the youngest one was five year’s old, I went out to work, part-time. The first thing I bought with my wages was a vacuum cleaner! Are you laughing?

Along with the child rearing, I considered that looking after the house was my responsibility first and foremost. It was up to me to keep it clean and make the meals ready. My husband had different jobs to do. We had one car and it was up to him to take care of that. To this day I have never put petrol in it!

I take a pride in looking after the house and the garden, although I draw the line at grass cutting.

So I clean the oven once a week. That way it stays reasonably clean. I chose a brown oven so it doesn’t show the bits I missed!

On the other hand, it will always be brown, not white. My choice.

It has an eye level grill. I like that for making toast and for keeping the plates warm while I’m cooking. That has to be cleaned too.

I doubt if I’ll even be able to get a cooker with an eye level grill next time I need one!

They are out of fashion nowadays because most people use toasters. I don’t like toasters because they take up too much room on the worktop as I only have a small kitchen.

Cleaning product of choice!

If I could afford it, I would have an expensive Aga and a bigger kitchen to put it in, but I don’t think about that very often.

I like my little old cooker.  I’m used to it and it does what I ask of it.

So how about you? Is this a job you ignore? or one you take pride in?

Sunday is Gardening Day – July 15th 2012


During last week we have had far too much rain in the cottage garden. The climbing roses have been doing their best to hang on, but today I cut them back. With luck and if the weather is kind, we may see another flush in August.

The geraniums (pelargoniums) have also taken a battering but now, at last, I see some flowers.

The vegetables have suffered even more. The next picture shows the runner beans this time last year. Notice there are lots of flowers!

Now compare this year’s photograph… too much rain, not enough flying insects to pollinate the flowers.  Flowers? What flowers. We are still waiting.

Geraniums

Ivy on the balcony.

Feverfew is abundant just now.  It has a lovely, musty smell.

The daisies are hardy and seem to take whatever comes.  This year because of the wet conditions, they have grown very leggy.

Have a great week fellow bloggers.

Fingerprints


As a writer, it is necessary to do a lot of research. For my latest book, which is a murder story, I have been researching ‘Police Procedures’ and fingerprinting and clue finding in particular.  I am currently reading an excellent book by Lee Lofland, called ‘Howdunnit, Book of Police Procedures’.  Here is an excerpt from it on the subject of fingerprinting:

‘Fingerprinting is a valuable tool for law enforcement because no two people in the world have identical prints.  Even though identical twins have identical DNA, they have markedly different fingerprints.  The basics of fingerprinting are taught to all police officers, but a fingerprint technician practises her craft daily.  It take a delicate touch and a keen eye to be the best and a good fingerprint technician can sometimes make or break a criminal case.

A Brief History of Fingerprinting

The ridges that cover the surface of fingertips and palms first caught the eye of University of Bologna professor Marcello Malpighi in the late 1600’s.  The worth of those looping crests was of no importance to him at the time, however, so he conducted no further research and more than one hundred years passed before the subject of finger ridge patterns was addressed.

In the mid 1800’s, Sir William James Herschel served as a British chief administrative officer in Bengal, India.  His method of fingerprinting for the purpose of invoking honesty among the Indian natives, would eventually spark  the idea of using fingerprints for the purpose of identification.  Herschel thought that requiring someone to place a fingerprint beside his signature, would  reduce a person’s inclination for deceitfulness because of the intimacy associated with touching the paper.

Three years after Herschel began his quest to standardize a fingerprint honour system, Dr. Henry Faulds of Tokyo, Japan, realized the importance of using fingerprints, not only for identification purposes, but as a means of solving crimes.  He also introduced the use of printer’s ink as an excellent medium for transferring prints from fingers to paper.

The late 1800’s was a busy time for those who studied fingerprinting.  Mark Twain wrote of identifying a murderer by his fingerprints and Charles Darwin’s cousin, Sir Francis Galton, wrote the book ‘Finger Prints’ in 1892.  Also in 1892, Argentina claimed the first use of a fingerprint to identify a murderer.  In 1893, Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson thrilled readers with its accounts of murder, court trials and the use of fingerprint identification.

England and Wales began the first fingerprinting for criminal identification in the early 1900’s.  Shortly afterward, the New York Civil Service Commission adopted the fingerprinting process as a means of identification for job applicants.

Around the same time, the New York state prison system began using fingerprints for the identification of criminals and they officially adopted the first fingerprint system in 1903.  A year later, the U.S. penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, established its own fingerprint bureau.  The penitentiary in Leavenworth also began to exchange  fingerprint information with other law enforcement agencies and police officers.

Prior to 1903, the Leavenworth prison used an identification system designed by french anthropologist Alphonse Bertillon.  Bertillon’s system measured the bony parts of the body, inserted the measurements into a formula and calculated the results, which supposedly applied only to one person.’

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The picture in this post is my mother’s fingerprint, on the card she used during World War II when she was part of the Dutch Resistance Movement.

In the current book I am writing, the murder victim’s car has been found at the bottom of a cliff in Cornwall, England and is currently being searched and dusted for clues. It is a sequel to ‘Murder in the School’, which is available for purchase in the Kindle Store at Amazon. I wrote it under my pseudonym, Amanda Marigold.

Dylan (My grandson) update – in the garden with Oma.


Dylan just loves to help out in the garden, especially on a sunny day!  Well we haven’t had many of those lately, so we have to make the most of the ones that we do have.

He loves to plant seeds and water flowers. Here he is watering my Sweet Peas:

He’s a busy little fella, isn’t he.

I especially wanted to show you how he has been learning where his food comes from. Click on this link:    to watch a short video of how he learned to shell peas last Friday.

It’s great being an Oma and sharing in the learning process.

Star

Date and Banana Cake


This cake has always been very popular in my cottage and because it’s got bananas and dates in it, it’s one of the more healthy cakes on the list.  It is very moist so it keeps for a week, if you don’t eat it up first. I just keep it on its plate with some cling film over it.

Ingredients as follows:

8 ozs of self raising flour

pinch of salt

4 ozs of soft margarine or softened butter

4 ozs of caster sugar

4ozs of dried dates, chopped

1 large banana, sliced thinly

1 egg

4 tablespoons of milk

Method:

Weigh out the ingredients ready to start.

Oops, forgot the banana!

I start with the flour and the margarine, rubbing the margarine into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Then add the sugar, dates, banana, pinch of salt, egg and milk and amalgamate together. Don’t overdo it or the banana will turn to mush.

Put the mixture into a lined cake tin. I use a loaf tin. Sprinkle a handful of flaked almonds or walnuts on top. If you want, you can also sprinkle some demerara over but I think this makes the cake too sweet. Remember you have banana and dates in there already.

Cook in the centre of your oven for one hour 15 minutes at Gas Mark 4 or equivalent. After that time, test the cake to see if it’s done. It should be brown on the top and a skewer should come out clean if you prick the middle of the cake.

Take the cake out of the tin and put it on a pretty plate. You can remove the paper if you have guests coming or leave it on to keep the cake fresh if there is just the two of you.

Serve with a nice cup of tea and a couple of hot buttered crumpets.

Let’s have a closer look at those.  Delicious!

Roses – How did my rose bushes do?


Last year I bought four new rose bushes. I thought you might like to see how they did in their first year.  I bought the roses in a sale at the end of the summer and kept the tags. I knew I would forget what they were called otherwise!

The first one is the Scorpio Rose. It is a real scarlet rose, very romantic. The bush was healthy and survived our cold, wet winter very well.

You can see it in the next picture, but don’t take notice of the colour of it. I used my smallest camera and red always comes out orangey red when I use it to photograph. As you can see there are plenty of blooms to such a small bush.

You can see the true colour of the Scorpio rose much better in the next picture, which I took with a better camera.

Now for the next one, which is called  My Mum. The picture shows a multi-layered rose with two colours:

This is what it looks like this week. The bush is tiny and needed quite a bit of nurturing, but given we had a very poor early summer, I’ll forgive it because the rose itself is beautiful. It’s quite small but very pretty. This is one of three roses on the bush.

They are all different and they all hang down as if they are ashamed and don’t want to show their pretty faces.

The next picture shows the darker one in more detail:

The next rose bush is called Golden Memories and it has been a surprise. It has grown fast and has lots of roses on it but …

…they shatter very quickly. It could be all the rain we’ve had. I’m not sure. Certainly is prolific though.

The last of the four bushes is called Apricot Abundance and it definitely doesn’t like the rain.

The roses are still in bud (see top of picture).  They haven’t even come out yet. When they do I shall be there with the camera.

I hope you enjoyed sharing the development with me today. I’m always curious to see if the plants and seeds I buy turn out like they are supposed to, as on the packet. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.

I’ll leave you with the best one, which this year is the Scorpio Rose.

Cheese and Onion Casserole


This dish is one of my favourites and will serve four hungry people.

For the ingredients you will need:

4 medium sized potatoes, peeled, washed and sliced (not too thickly sliced).

2 medium sized onions

8 ozs of mature Cheddar Cheese

salt and pepper (you won’t need much salt because there is plenty in the cheese). Just sprinkle a little over the potato layer.

1 pint of full fat milk (I never use anything that says ‘light’ on it)

2 dessert spoons full of Bird’s Custard Powder (available from English stores in America. I go to World Market when I am there).

Method:

Butter an oval shaped dish generously.

Layer the potatoes in an oval shaped dish with the sliced onions and cheese.  It is better to slice the onions and the cheese thinly. I start with potatoes, then onions, then cheese, then potatoes again, onions and cheese.  That does it.

Keep back some of the cheese, e.g. 2 ozs, for grating and putting on the top.

Make up the custard powder as explained on the side of the box. If you can’t get Birds Custard Powder, you could use cornflour but then it will be white, not yellow.  I like yellow. It looks more authentic. It also tastes delicious. Whatever you do, DON’T add any sugar.  This is a savoury dish. Most of the time custard is used for pouring over cherry pies or such like. This is different.


See, it’s a nice yellow colour.

Pour the custard mixture slowly over the potatoes, onions and cheese and sprinkle the remainder of the grated cheese over the top.

Bake in a medium oven on the middle shelf for 2 hours. Eat with salad.  Delicious.

I can guarantee you will come back for more.

Afterwards, wash up the dishes whilst gazing out of the window…

Why didn’t we recycle in our day?



Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older
woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags
weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing
back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today.
Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future
generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to
the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and
sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and
over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we
reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags,
was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks.
This was to ensure that public property, (the books
provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our
scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown
paper bags.

But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every
store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t
climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two
blocks.

But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the
throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling
machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry
our clothes back in our early days.
Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters,
not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every
room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief
(remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In
the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have
electric machines to do everything for us.
When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail,
we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it,
not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then,
we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn.
We used a push mower that ran on human power.
We exercised by working so we didn’t need to
go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup
or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled
writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the
razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just
because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their
bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour
taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire
bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a
computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites
23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old
folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a
lesson in conservation from aknow-it-all young person…

We don’t like being old in the first place,
so it doesn’t take much to piss us off.

This was sent to me by a dear ‘old’ friend (smile)

Star

Roses galore!


Sunday is gardening day and today was a good day to wander among the roses. This yellow climbing rose has waited patiently throughout the rainy weather at the start of the month and is now in full bloom.

Come, walk around the garden with me on this lovely July day 🙂

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