Category Archives: Prettiness

Time to melt t’interwebs

So, the big hutch Spring clean had to happen yesterday when Raisin (guinea pig) came home from the vets with his bits chopped off.

It all began when we rescued some Guinea Pigs a couple of years ago and I came home from a little holiday to find a tiny guinea pig looking at me.

Diesel

A few weeks later, her aunt had made two little cousins.  One of those was Raisin.  Unfortunately, Raisin turned out to be a boy.  He had been so special because despite being unable to see, he was a big adventurer so we decided to keep him.

Then, just before Christmas, one of our dearest friends rescued 2 little rabbits from being turned into dog food and gave them to us as an early Christmas gift.  Beautiful though they were, the lack of appropriate housing was a massive worry.  They couldn’t be housed with any of the other rabbits as the males would fight (both of our previously rescued boys had been in scraps before we got them) and we didn’t have a spare hutch.

We put them into the “hospital hutch” as a temporary measure whilst we worked out what we were going to do with them.  It is a single occupancy, plastic and wire construction indoor hutch.  We have been wracking our brains to work out how to home them properly: Do we have enough wood in the shed to make a new hutch (that we don’t have the space for)?  Should we  re-home them?  Can they go in with the Guinea Girls?

We realised that the best possible option was to have Raisin “done” and put him back with his family.

We began by cleaning the top two floors of Chinchilla Towers (which really is as grand as it sounds!) and we moved the Girls back in.  Then we cleaned their house (an old chicken coop designed for up to 4 hens – with a little service modification) and put Dice and Domino – the two Christmas bunnies – into it.  Then we started to deep clean the hospital hutch so that Raisin could convalesce in peace, indoors.  The correx board protection was removed, bowls washed, the wire roof lifted off and the little tunnel/step taken out and put into the bath to be disinfected and Mr PinQ was ready to scoop out the old, dirty bedding ready to give me the base for cleaning.

Just before he put the shovel in, he looked and shouted to me.  The bedding was moving in one corner!  We investigated and found six tiny kits!  We’d already moved Dice and Domino and if they stayed in the temporary home, the babies would have died for sure because when it rains, the bottom of the quarantine hutch gets wet and the bedding has to be changed – as the quarantine hutch, it is normally kept indoors for good reason!  We had to move the nest into the new hutch so we picked up three each in one hand and found out that they are really wriggly, even though they are only a few days old!

I woke up early (before 05:00) but for once, not because of a kitten or a baby.  I woke up because it started chucking it down outside and I snapped awake, worried about the baby rabbits.  I threw some clothes on, legged it downstairs and went to check the hutch.  All was well.

Hours later, Mr PinQ found three of the kits out of the nest.  All three were extremely cold, one in rigor, one that didn’t appear to be alive and one that was barely moving.  I snuggled the latter two in my ample cleavage and within minutes, they were starting to wriggle.  Using a dropper bottle, we fed them a little kitten formula until they were warm and happy.  He microwaved one of the pet warming plates, wrapped it in a fleecy blankie and putting it into the nest.

We’ve been on Kit watch constantly since and I am pleased to report that all is well.

20160409-English Rose Kits_5 days old  (15)

We named the little casualty “Napkin” after I bathed him, dried him and gently wrapped him in a little face cloth ready to go to his final rest.  I’d only known him for a few hours but I was heartbroken at losing him.  He was such a beautiful tiny baby.

Raisin is doing well, happily munching kale, carrots, hay and guinea pig biskwits and snuffling around his temporary home.

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It’s week 6…

…and I still haven’t completely recovered from the last couple of years!

Those of you that know me well will no doubt mutter something about the fact that I don’t rest but although I have been doing lots of things, I have also been resting.

Of course, a fair chunk of my time is spent searching for jobs, attending interviews and the Job Centre.  It’s so strange because what I really want is to just do something part-time (preferably mornings) so that I can spend the rest of my time focusing on my studies, Magical Maths and other things that I want to do but of course, in order to get my stamp paid, I have to apply for EVERYTHING.

Anyway, job searches aside, I have done a variety of good stuff too.

Most importantly, I have spent time with old friends who I haven’t had quality time with in ages despite living only a few miles away!

I’ve done 60 workouts in 55.06 hours: covering 168.39 miles (cycling and walking), 12 hours of ice-skating, 4 hours of ballet and burned 35,618 calories.  In part, because I only drive if I absolutely have to now.

I’ve started knitting a sweater for Mr PinQ and begun lessons in crochet from my panto-mummy who taught me how to make raggy quilts.  I unpicked my first & second attempts because they were too wobbly but my third was one of the white squares.  I was determined to master the double crochet before my next lesson and learning my next stitch so I have continued with my squares most evenings with a view to making a blankie.

20151008-Crochet Beginnings

The house is cleaned more frequently than it was when we were both working and the kitchen had its deepest clean in the four and a half years that we’ve lived here!  I also decimated the front garden, it was horribly overgrown and although I haven’t removed all of the little weed that blankets the gravel, it looks so much better.  There are much larger jobs needed, the “bit of decorating” that I had planned has turned out to be more – the bathroom, for example, needs the tiles and floor replacing, not just the papering and painting that I had initially thought and of course, if the tiling and floor are being done, the toilet and basin need to be replaced *sigh* but no matter, one thing at a time.

I’ve been cooking and baking beyond just what is necessary.  I’ve made several kilos of raspberry jam (because it is so easy), which has led to Mr PinQ getting a couple of little cream teas in his packed lunches for work:

20151001-Raspberry Jam 3 20151006-Packed Lunch Cream Tea

I sterilised the jars and lids just by popping them in the oven on 150°C for about 20 minutes to kill off any bacteria.  Then for the jam, I used: 2 kilos of raspberries, 1.5 kilos of preserving sugar and the juice of 2 lemons; pushed half of the fruit through a sieve to remove some of the seeds (raspberry jam wouldn’t be raspberry jam without seeds getting stuck in your teeth!) and then boiling it, continually stirring until it began to set.  I don’t have a jam thermometer, jam funnel or any sexy equipment but the old plate test works a treat.  Put a plate in the fridge before you start and when you think that it might be ready, put a teaspoonful on the plate, leave it for 5 minutes and give it a little push, if it wrinkles up, it is ready to pour into the jars.

I have also made ice cream, vanilla, raspberry ripple and a new flavour – coffee cream swirl:

20150924-Vanilla 20150924-Raspberry Ripple 20150924-Coffee Cream Swirl

Now, this is the very old ice cream recipe that a friend recently posted online – a 397ml can of condensed milk and 800ml of double cream whisked until soft peaks are formed then I fold in the flavour and turn it out into a plastic storage tub and pop it in the freezer.  Tips: 1. I don’t measure the cream anymore so you might want to experiment with the quantities. 2. This makes up a lot of ice cream so have two flavours ready – a small punnet of raspberries pushed through a sieve for half of the mixture and a little vanilla essence for the other half or whatever you fancy, again, experiment!  I’m going to try making chocolate ice cream next so I’ll let you know how that goes!

I’ve been baby-sitting two lovely dogs, sadly not at the same time because they love playing together when their stays overlap and spending more time with my animals.  Hyacinth, our beautiful little house-chicken, passed away on Monday.  It is the first time since Agatha and Beatrix that I have grieved one of the chooks.  Several of the birds from the more recently rescued batches from the Battery Hen Welfare Trust died before I had the chance to really bond with them but Hyacinth was very special.

Singing in the finals for a competition on Saturday, I’m down to 10 choices for the “movies” theme:

1. The Time Warp (The Cast)- Rocky Horror Picture Show
2. Wishing Well (Free) – Almost Famous
3. Everything About You (Ugly Kid Joe) – Wayne’s World
4. I Saw Her Standing There (The Beatles) – Rainman
5. Mrs Robinson (Lemonheads version) – The Graduate
6. Ironic (Alanis Morrisette) – The Internship
7. Mustang Sally (Wilson Pickett) – The Commitments
8. House of the Rising Sun (The Animals) – in lots of films
9. Rockin’ in the Free World (Neil Young) – Fahrenheit 9/11
10. Stuck in the Middle (Stealers Wheel) – Reservoir Dogs

Because I can’t learn Happy (Pharrel Williams) – Despicable Me 2 in time!

I dressed to cycle today but decided on a lazy day instead.  I have a hot bubble bath waiting for me so I must go, then it’s Panto rehearsals this evening – Oh no it isn’t! ;o)

Ta ta for now lovely readers,

PinQ

Out of Work

I’m now in my third week of being out of work and this is my journey so far…

Week one was like having a week off:

Mr PinQ had won tickets to go and watch the premier show of Strictly being filmed.

Strictly logo

We decided to drive to Elstree Studios because the joining instructions state that the dress code is “glamorous” and I didn’t fancy an hour or so on the train followed by getting the tube or a bus – especially as it was likely to be a late night.

I decided to wear my pretty yellow Monsoon dress:

Yellow Monsoon Dress

I’ve only worn it twice, the first time when my little exhibition opened and then for a friend’s wedding so it was a great excuse to get it out of the wardrobe.  As before, I teamed it with jade green satin Karen Millen shoes and bag – similar to these but without the ruffle on the side:

Karen Millen Green Satin Shoes

It took a couple of hours to get there and there was a car park just off the roundabout exit directly opposite the studio which was free in the evening so I only had to pay to park for the afternoon.  We joined the queue, validated the tickets and waited to be allowed in.  We didn’t take our mobile phones because they have to be checked in as you enter the canteen/bar area where you spend the next hour.  There is seating for a couple of hundred or so of the 500 audience members and two ladies toilets but it made the experience quite chummy because strangers had something to chuckle about.

The audience were called in batches of 50 and we all walked to the Strictly stage.  As we passed the George Lucas stage, we saw a man in a butler’s costume peeling a banana – I made him laugh (and choke a little on his banana) because he heard me say to Mr PinQ: “He’s not in Star Wars!”

I made a request to be seated at the end of a row because I knew that I made need to move because of my back so we were seated in the production area at the edge of the dancefloor.  The thing that strikes you first about the set is how very small it is.  I believe that the ceiling height gives the illusion of a huge dancefloor because of the ability to show it with a bird’s-eye-view.

Whilst people were still being seated, I nipped out to the ladies and bumped into Cassidy Little.  I stopped him to say that we had been to watch The Two Worlds of Charlie F and that it was the best and most moving piece of theatre that I had ever seen.  He asked where we’d seen it and chatted a while and at the end of our conversation, he thanked me for being so kind and gave me a big hug! That made my day, everything else paled into insignificance.

The Two Worlds of Charlie F

Brendan, Anton, Aljaž, Pasha, Natalie, Janette, Darcey, Bruno and Craig and Caroline all came over and chatted with us.  Len kept his distance but I heard him talking to one of the production team about the fact that he was suffering from a cold.

The singers did their spots first and embarrassingly, too many of the audience were unable to clap in time and had to be told not to clap as it was off-putting for the artists!  We watched the entrance from the Strictly Express the introductory dance of Oti, Giovanni and Gleb, the group dance and Caroline and Pasha’s dance as reigning champions.  It was really entertaining but really tiring because there were several takes of some of the songs and dances and filming didn’t end until about 23:30 but we had a great adventure so it was worth every minute!

Week two of my new life was far more eventful but far less glamorous:

I set myself two fitness goals of cycling 50 miles and doing 10 workouts.  I cycled 52.85 miles and completed 16 workouts.  I started my NISA Bronze Passport training (old passport because I did the old NISA levels 1 – 10) and had an impromptu skating lesson from a Hockey Coach on Thursday afternoon – he really put me through my paces and spent a great deal of time helping me to get rid of my fear of going backwards by teaching me a new way to go backwards, pushing me to keep going, making do back crossovers on the corners and all the while, chatting about random subjects so that I would notice what I was doing.  It was great! I use those tactics sometimes when I’m teaching other people but it was so nice to have someone doing that for me for a change.  He also taught me a new way to lace my boots so that I didn’t get “lace bite” and what a relief that was – I can at last skate in comfort without having to keep getting off the ice to re-lace my boots.  It was also the first week of ballet for the new academic year and I finally managed to do the dance that has eluded me for 6 months.

I did the housework without tiring myself out because I wasn’t trying to squeeze it into a weekend along with shopping, socialising and exercise which meant that I have had plenty of rest.  It will be a while yet before I’m totally rested and fit again so I won’t try to push myself too much – I would like to enjoy my time out of work.

I felted the roof of the new rabbit hutch that we made a few months ago and tidied the shed so that back garden looks a little less like the Clampetts have moved in and Florence (the chicken in quarantine – chicken post to follow soon) now has a much better shelter on her temporary home.  It couldn’t have been timed better, the temporary covers that we’d put on Rocky and Drizzle’s hutch and Florence’s quarantine cage wouldn’t have protected them from the dreadful rain that we’ve had over the last few days.

I had a successful interview to run Magic Maths.  It’s an after school club teaching and supporting Key Stage 1 & 2 mathematics.  Schools are approached and if they are interested, the lady who runs the program goes in to do a school assembly, if the school then want the program, a register is set up and a night agreed and then this is where I would come in.  Magical Maths is a 6 week program and each week has a theme, so week 1 is “Maths Detectives” and my character would be Stately Holmes, there are 5 themes and the children get to choose their favourite for week 6.  I have started my DBS application but hit a wall when the electronic form refused to work and I will be attending training on 3 Oct 15.

I also took deliver of my new laptop and PC from Dell.  Joy!

Much as I would have liked a brand new, sexy inspiron, I was able to get both a laptop and desktop from the Dell Outlet store for the price of the one sparkly new one so I’m really pleased, it’s been difficult being without a working laptop for the last 3 and a half months!

We made new friends and spent time with old friends at a wine-tasting, had a lovely evening at dinner with two of our best friends in their new home, I had a great leaving do and we’ve had friends over for dinner so we’ve had more of a social life than we usually have the time or energy for so it’s all good.

I’ve tried out some of the fabulous new art supplies given to me as part of my leaving present from work but I’m still not feeling brave enough to apply water to the watercolour pencil sketch that I did of one of the chooks.

Week three (now):

Sunday was great, we took a trepidatious but excited young lady to Uni, spending an hour or so to help get her unpacked and settled more quickly, leaving her with only her clothes and bedding to sort out before the Fresher’s Ball and Mr PinQ collected a few bits and bobs from friends on his way home.  All was well.

Then came my first experience of the Job Centre for many years.  It didn’t start well.

Having applied online for Jobseeker’s allowance (after all, what else have I been paying National Insurance and taxes for?) I’d had a text from DWP (Department for Work & Pensions) telling me that I had an appointment at 08:50 on 14 Sep 15.  I duly arrived a couple of minutes early and when I tried to get into the building, discovered that it doesn’t open until 09:00.

I was not a happy bunny.

I then sat through all of the questions and was told that I could have interview training and assistance in writing my CV from my Coach.  I pointed out that I could probably teach my Coach a few things on that score.  The lady dealing with was oozing false empathy and that just made my back go up all the more.  Anyway, I left with an an “agreement” which was a list of things that I will do to find employment.  There was no agreement.  She told me what I would be doing.

I cycled for about 8 miles to work out the anger and was left feeling totally demoralised.

It’s been such a long time…

…since I had a pretty new outfit.

Those of you that know me well and have known me for over 10 years will remember my shoe collection that peaked at 90-something beautiful pairs.  I still have some of the loveliest but rarely get the chance to wear them.

Well, for the first time in an age, I spoiled myself this weekend and bought these beauties:

20140802-Faith Shoes

I was devastated when Faith shut its shops, as much as when the same fate befell Ravel Shoes.  Thanks to Debenhams (for Faith) and the internet (for both), neither brand truly died but it has been such a long time since I was able to really treat myself that these were more than just a pair of pretty shoes.  I still insist on comfort and refused a rather pretty pair in T-Reds because they didn’t have my size, despite the assistant trying to convince me to try a size too small and then I found these and they feel like slippers on.

The display shoe was dirty from dirty bare feet so I asked for an unsullied pair – well, for that price, I wasn’t willing to put up with someone else’s dirt!