janewilliams20: (Default)
Yesterday was full of them!

Browsing the Lego site and online shop, I discovered that if you have the product code of any kit, the area for "there's a part missing" will list every part in that kit, with their code numbers. What's more, I discovered how much it costs to get a replacement part (nothing), how much they charge for postage (nothing), and how much proof they require that you really did buy a kit with a part missing (none). I'm going to assume they have mechanisms in place to stop this being abused, but I was impressed.

More browsing found me the "pick a brick" area, which was much more use once I'd figured out how to get those codes. Once you've found something vaguely like what you're after, you can look for the same thing in all colours, or everything else in that colour. Prices are usually a few pence per brick, and the postage is lower than most Ebay lego. OK, you can only get things that are currently being made (hardly surprising), so I won't get getting my Romans or Spartans here, but it's still an excellent service.

We'd decided to have a day out in Milton Keynes, and visit the Lego store there. They have a pick'n'mix wall that's potentially quite useful if the random assortment of items there matches what you want. They also have another area for making your own minifig - and on asking, no, it doesn't have to be one each of head, body, legs, headgear, accessory. The price for one minifig means five bits - any bits. If there's something you're after and can't find, they'll go and search the stockroom for you. So, my Lunar army is now fully equipped with red cloaks, the Vingans all have auburn hair, and there are scimitars and flagpoles, plus arrows and quivers for when I decide that Shooters would be a good idea.

T.G.I. Fridays for lunch. Starter was surprisingly delicious as well as virtuous, and something I may try to reproduce. Wedge Salad:
"Crisp iceberg wedge with Bleu cheese dressing, diced tomatoes, crispy bacon pieces and Bleu cheese crumbles", to quote their menu.
Mains: note for future reference, their ribs are wonderful! Loads of meat that falls off the bone.

On the way home, dropped into a farm shop I hadn't visited for ages: Summerhill, in Cardington. The plan was to investigate what they did in the way of turkeys, but we were picking up meat before we got that far. No, their list did not include a stuffed turkey leg, which is what we wanted: but they could do one, no problem. Discussion of number of people to be fed, and suitable sizes, followed. What we're after is four people, but more than just the turkey as a roast: beef and gammon as well. Did they do beef? The butcher started listed the breeds of cattle he could supply. I think I know where we're going for our Xmas meat - and from the look of what was there, also the veg.

I "need" to go back, anyway - if you have a recipe for sausage (who, me?) they'll give it a try, and if it works, you not only get a discount on buying some, you get some sort of claim to fame when it becomes a regular product. I'll have to look back to that sausage-making frenzy of a few years ago, it sounds as if some of my low-fat chicken ideas will be new to them.
 
After all that walking, today has consisted mostly of sitting down with my feet up, assembling and basing two Lego HOTT armies. There's a few minor details still to sort out, two of which are in the post from Ebay, but I very nearly have a Gloranthan matched pair ready to go.

janewilliams20: (food)
I was asked for the recipe, so I may as well make it fully public to all my friends, not just John

Here's the link:
http://keepingweightoff.co.uk/love-mince-pies-then-make-your-own/

What I did was based on that, but with quantities more like "what I have got left?", ending up as
350g Cox apples after the waste was chopped off (I didn't skin them), chopped in my mini food processor
A 500g bag of dried mixed fruit, a variety with no peel.
2 tsp Sainsburys mixed spice (mixes vary a lot from shop to shop)
420 ml of an extremely dry cider
1 1/2 tbsp brandy

No added sugar.

As it says:

1. Grate the apple and put into a pan with the mixed dried fruit. Add the mixed spice and cider and stir well.

2. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the liquid has almost gone and the mixture is soft and pulpy.

3. Stir in the brandy, whisky or rum and leave to cool.

That made enough to fill about 1 3/4 jam jars.

janewilliams20: (Default)
This isn't so much an "I want" or "I need" as an attempt to help those people who for some reason feel an obligation to get me Xmas presents.
First point is that as far as I'm concerned, no such obligation exists.

Second, since I don't need anything I don't already have, and a lot of other people do, getting one of those cards that says "a goat has been delivered to some people who really needed a goat" would make me (and them) very happy. Choice of charities? Nothing based on any religion, and nothing that gives priority to cuteness. I don't give to "Save the Children", because I see no reason to give them priority over adults - the other way round if anything. Save an adult, then they can go out and save several children.

If you still want to give something to me, there's usually the Amazon list. But over the last year or so, I've been moving over to getting as much as possible in e-format, probably Kindle. There's only about one book on there that I've requested as hard-copy (the final Robert Jordan, since I've already got the rest of the series as hard-copy), and I think there's a CD or two.

What else? After that, we get generic, and so I can't sensibly put it on the Amazon list even with their ability to add links to other sites.

Cooking bits
(that are either hard to find or treat-expensive)
Saffron. Pricey, even if bought in bulk.
"Doenjang". That's a "fermented soybean paste", apparently used in Korean cookery, and use by me as a nice thing to spread on a wrap before filling it with houmous and salad. I got some from a car-boot sale a while back, and am about to run out. I have no idea where to find more.

Card-making bits
I actually have rather a lot of these, but...
I have a Big Shot die-cutting machine. I have more than enough cutting dies of the sort that make frames, and a few that make "pretties", but none at all that do letters, and nothing recently out in the way of motifs and other pretty bits. If you spot something you think I'd like, it would be appreciated, but be warned that these things aren't cheap (and also that if you buy it, I'll assume you like it yourself, and will probably use it in a card for your next birthday).
For the same machine - embossing folders. I've got one that does flower background, one that does star background, and that's about it.
Don't get me stamps. I have stamps. I also have a total inability (so far) to colour them in (though the set of pens Santa acquired at half-price in Hobbycraft may help with that).
I do have a heat-gun, should that help with choosing other bits to buy. I don't have an electric die-cutting thingie (yet - it's making its way from France) so cartridges for one of them wouldn't be of any use.

Wargaming bits
I do NOT need additions to the collection of unpainted lead/plastic. Please, no.
What I could use is "stronghold" items: generic fantasy/medieval castles, or other bits of scenery that a fantasy army of any sort might want to defend (taverns are good). The sort of model sold in tourist shops, or to go in goldfish bowls, only without the snow globe, plastic monkey, pen holder, or whatever other attachment may disfigure it. (If I can get it off with a knife, fine). Ready-painted, so I just have to drop it on a base, and use it. The maximum base size for a 15mm army stronghold is 6" square, and smaller is better. Just be warned that this will be looked at by the sort of people who paint the whites of the eyes on a figure 15mm high, so detail is good, crudeness is not.

Bears
Dave says I do not need any more bears. The Hug disagree.

Chocolate and other nibbles
I'm supposed to be trying to lose weight!
(sigh)
OK, so we aim at things that favour quality over quantity, and things that come in individually wrapped small portions, so I can take ONE to work and not have to use will-power to stop. I like chocolate (milk or moderately dark, not white), I like savoury nibbly things, with spice levels up to about wasabi peas.
I still have problems with cream/milk, so fillings that say "cream" are probably a bad idea - I'd have to be very careful, and go for small quantities.

Alcohol
Yes, I like it (malts, some sweet liqueurs, dry cider, Belgian beer). But we have so much in stock already that the spare crates are still out in the garage.

I hope that helps? Honestly, I'll be perfectly happy just catching up on all the books I was given last Xmas....
janewilliams20: (Default)
Took the Clio for service, and retrieved it with no unexpected expenditure.

Did a bit of shopping for tomorrow's feasting and mead-tasting.

Cold has become a headache with added sniffles, but a decent night's sleep and some tablets have helped, as has a long period of Doing Nothing and reading "Dodger".
That's a very good book, BTW. Pratchett does Dickensian London, though if it hadn't been clearly labelled you could have been forgiven for thinking you were in Ankh Morpork - no, not implying that he gets London wrong in the slightest, more that it's now even more clear where A-M got a lot of its inspiration.

So far I've only managed two of the required Birds for the day - I've boned and skinned a chicken and a guineafowl, ready to be assembled tomorrow. I think I'd better do the goose tonight as well, otherwise it'll never go in the fridge overnight, and even then, I'd better retrieve all the stock bits and get them going in the slow cooker overnight, simply because they won't go in the fridge. If I also do one of the quails, that's my four birds, though I hope they don't start "calling".
janewilliams20: (Default)
Not that there's a lot to say. There should have been, but my "this cannot be a cold, I do not have time for a cold" has turned into, surprise, surprise, a cold. So I've been doping out, eating leftovers of turkey and gammon and so on, doing fairly mindless things and trying to sleep - usual problem of lying down making breathing difficult, but our lovely new reclining armchairs provide a a nice half-way option for dozing.

Read one of the pile of new books - "The Hobbit". I'd been amazed and horrified to discover just before Xmas that I didn't have a copy, so slapped it on the Amazon wishlist, and it duly appeared.

Haven't played with the new card-making toys as yet, but I have sorted things out a bit, so all the Xmas-related bits are in one box ready for next year and I can find the table.

Tried to carry on with the knitting I'd been doing, but while the four DPNs the piece was on are right there in the bag, the fifth one I need to knit on to isn't :(. Just been on Ebay, and after looking at prices, ordered a circular in the same size. I'd been playing with thick yarn and huge needles, after seeing something made from three DK yarns knitted together at a craft show, and the result knits up fast enough that I get a result before I get bored.

TV - seen a bit of Marple, and some Judge John Deed that Dave had recorded for some reason. Added a belt-loop to some trousers that were starting to fall down while watching (had planned on doing knitting..)

Diet is being ignored. Weight is being measured so I know how far up it's gone - I added another 2kg in Brussels, and about the same over Xmas so far. Oddly enough, size is staying about the same.

Haven't yet unpacked the new Wii, much less installed or used it - the cold de-incentivises these things.

Have hugged the new Bears. Wilson, the Sightsaver Bear, turns out to be a smaller brother to Harpur, the hospital bear. The stowaway who came with him is a rather quiet and shy little bear, whose name is probably "Noel".

Cooking - after the massive cook-fest on Xmas Day, not a lot has happened. The turkey carcass was stripped and turned into stock, I made an omelette this morning, and that's been about it. Preparations are starting for the Saturday bash, when I throw "tradtional" and "conventional" out of the window, and go for "I bet you can't...", "that looks like fun" and so on. It's a mead-tasting, but my nephew was quite keen on having medieval food (and possibly costume?) to go with the mead, so I'll be playing.
The goose, guineafowl and quail are defrosting, and tomorrow I'll acquire a chicken between the goose and guineafowl in size, bone the lot, and do a quadruple Bird. I'd been considering going up to five, but may just use stuffing to fill any gaps. Then there will be "something with chicken and fruit" by request from my niece, who doesn't care for multiply-stuffed things - I have ideas there, and I get to play with a toy that doesn't get used often enough, and the C13 Andalusian Cookbook - my notes for Djej Mquali look good. Just need to sort out some veg that isn't boring (maybe Buran from the same source?), and decide which of the many possible starters and desserts I fancy doing. Oh, and the chutneys and sauces - I have quinces, and am not afraid to use them.
A rather complex medieval chutney designed for roast meats
Sauce Madame, to go with the goose, though in this case I won't be cooking the ingredients inside the goose, as it'll be full of other birds. l
Since I have goose grease, I'll probably roast spuds in it - not medieval, but why not?
I quite fancy doing Crustade Lumbard for dessert, but practicality may dictate using up the pumpkin pie, Xmas cake and mince pies that didn't go at Xmas dinner. Or I could buy a lot of exotic fruit and do a fruit salad.
Days of Xmas - I did indeed get my figurative turtle doves yesterday, on the second day of Xmas. I hadn't realised, my parents had never had Xmas alone together since they'd been married, so that's what they'd done on Xmas day. Aww. My dad phoned me up and "purred" at me afterwards, not having read the LJ echo of the blog post till too late.
Today, third day of Xmas, should involve three French hens. Well, it involved chicken liver pate that had French wine in it, and defrosting some (possibly French? who knows?) chicken from the freezer.
Tomorrow is the Four Colly (or Calling) birds. I will have at least four birds present, but I doubt if they'll be "colly" (black), nor Calling.
Saturday, five gold rings... hmm.... will have to think about that. Something in the table decorations, perhaps.

Anyway, time to go and reheat some turkey, gravy, assorted veg and so on.

janewilliams20: (Default)
 I must have been good, because there was a stocking full of chocolate and card-making toys.
There was a light but delicious breakfast.
There were more pressies, and there was Cooking.
There was feeding of in-laws, and the Overcaterers Anonymous membership remains valid.
There was silliness involving bagpipes.
There was clearing up, stripping of turkey carcass, and a clean, tidy, peaceful house.

Tomorrow, I expect to entertain figurative turtle doves - parents will be round, after deciding to spend yesterday having a quiet Christmas with just the two of them together. Apparently I am not allowed to feed them more than a cup of tea and a "nibble". We'll see.

Now, time for a gentle read before bedtime. I have two new bears to keep me company, I have Latin fairy stories, I have poetry books, I have interesting SF, I have new Pratchett. What shall it be?
Christmas is a time for tradition, and reliving of childhood. "In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit."
Good night.
 




janewilliams20: (Default)
 I was reminded earlier today that I haven't been posting much. That's mainly because I haven't had the time or mental energy to post anything that requires the space of a proper blog entry, so I've just been doing one-liners on Facebook: if you'd been following there, you'd have had a blow-by-blow account of what music I was listening to while cooking various things today.

Well, cooking is done (or will be once the gammon is out of the oven), and now I just have to wrap presents, sit down, and try this "relax" thing. Might even get to bed before the reindeer arrive.

Tomorrow is Xmas dinner for Dave's side of the family, so that's turkey and trimmings for seven. Starter, Turkey, Pigs in blankets. I think it's eight veg, I may have forgotten one. Cranberyy sauce, gravy. Two stuffings apart from the one in the turkey, Two desserts from us, MiL is bringing the pudding. Cheese & biccies (and quince marmalade). Enough? Maybe....
still, come tea-time, apart from turkey and gammon sandwiches, I've just done a chicken liver pate, and the mince pies happened yesterday. I don't think anyone's going to starve?

So, happy Xmas, Yule,. Beowulf Day, or whatever else you're celebrating. I'll try to post here more often in the New Year.
janewilliams20: (Default)
I'm trying to work out how to have Christmas not be a complete dietary disaster. Today was the turn of the Mince Pie Experiment.
I'd got a recipe I found online
I made up half quantities of that, noting that it produced about 840g of mincemeat, and feeling glad I'd only done half.
I used the mini muffin tray I'd got in Ampthill yesterday, and double-layer filo pastry, sprayed with FryLite.
I made 24 of them, using about 210g of the mincemeat and 4 sheets of filo.

Commercial normal mince pie - about 7 points
Commercial mini mince pie - 2-3 points
These - you get two of them for one point!

I've put the rest of the mincemeat in the fridge, and the next experiment will involve low-fat Jusrol shortcrust.
janewilliams20: (Default)
 You may remember that last year, I wittered on about how wonderful the works carol service had been
http://janewilliams20.dreamwidth.org/240571.html
This year, the same sort of thing will be happening again, but with a couple of differences.
1) No party afterwards, just the mulled wine and mince pies. The party's a week later at a different venue.
2) No Dave, he's working.
I'm allowed a guest or two - and yes, for me, the mulled wine reception is more or less compulsory. Polite conversation with people in suits, and so on.
Would anyone be interested coming along as my guest? If you're into very traditional church Xmas music, this is a treat - if not, it's probably extremely boring.
"This year's IET Carol Service will be held on Friday 14 December, starting at 6pm in The Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, and followed by a mulled wine reception at IET London: Savoy Place." says the intranet - and now you know as much as I do about timings. I expect I'll have to be there at 5:30 since I'm reading, for rehearsals.

I was thinking of making the most of being in London by hitting somewhere interesting to eat afterwards, if that helps decision-making at all. 
janewilliams20: (Default)
Please accept, with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress , non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious / secular persuasions and / or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all .

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2012, but not without due respect for the calendar of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great ( not to imply that the United Kingdom is necessarily greater than any other country ) and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee .

By accepting this greeting, please be advised that you are accepting these terms :

This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable on the proviso that there is no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her / him or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. The wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher .

Best Regards ( without prejudice )

Name withheld ( Privacy Act )
janewilliams20: (Default)
Sorry about that. Happy Xmas, anyway, and my apologies to those of you to whom I'd intended to send e-cards.

Random thought, as the brain wakes up gently - cream cheese with black pepper in it. Why? It makes about as much sense as cucumber curry.

reasons I've been out of it under here )
Good bits - quite a lot. Parents came round yesterday to exchange pressies. And today - Santa brought me a netbook! This netbook! I can get online better than via the phone, and without having to go upstairs! Squee!!

Xmas dinner

Jan. 2nd, 2010 06:27 pm
janewilliams20: (Default)
Well, a report on the bit of it I did, because it was rather fun.

Copying the description of the Flickr photo over here...

Dinner with the MiL, and she'd asked us to do the starter. Spec: something light, pre-prepared as there won't be any space in the kitchen. So I did bite-size versions of every traditional starter I could come up with, begging the use of the microwave for 30 sec to heat the soup.

Prawn cocktail: one king prawn, blob of seafood sauce, shredded iceberg lettuce, in a "croustade"
Tomato and basil soup in shot glasses.
Smoked salmon on mini blinis, with creme fraiche and dill.
Julienne-cut melon (green and orange) wrapped in parma ham
Chicken liver pate on "toast" (Ryvita Minis), topped with red pepper
Mushrooms stuffed with cream cheese and herbs
Smoked oysters with mature Cheddar on sticks.
Olives on sticks (there was space left on the serving tray)

Xmas dinner - miniature starters

Yes, naturally, that's soup that starts with tomatoes not a can, pate I made myself (using sherry instead of brandy is the latest variant, and it was nice), the herbs in the cream cheese were from my garden...

It was a good thing that I'd kept it light, because the MiL then produced roast turkey with trimmings and "a few" veg. When doing traditional food, she is an excellent cook, and her status in Overcaterers Anonymous puts mine to shame. I generally stop putting more types of veg on the table when there's no more room (assuming an eight-seater table and five people). She lets us serve the first "round" of veg, then removes the dishes and replaces with a new lot from the hostess trolley. I don't know how many types we had, I ran out of fingers.
janewilliams20: (Default)
Having heard that this song and words were originally together, I went looking on YouTube.

Dear Santa

Dec. 10th, 2009 03:16 pm
janewilliams20: (Default)
Should there be people reading who feel the need to give me stuff to celebrate whatever name they give to the mid-winter festival (and since this feeds through to Facebook, there may be more than are on my LJ FL): please don't.
I still have a pile of books and gadgets left from last Christmas that I haven't found time to enjoy. Quite possibly some from the Xmas before, too. I've been saying for a few years now that what I really like about Xmas is having a few days off to simply relax and enjoy some hobbies - and this year, I got it! I got made redundant! Whee! Still, even with all that free time, I have far more Stuff than I can find a use for even if I stay unemployed for most of the coming year (which is not the plan).

What I'd suggest is picking some suitable charity. Nothing religion-based, please, and nothing that gives money to children as if they're somehow more important than adults. Cuteness is not a measure of how deserving a cause is. Some of these "send a cow" type schemes look good, though I haven't been through and investigated in detail. Breadline Africa sponsors small, practical projects that make communities better able to help themselves.
janewilliams20: (Default)
So I must be misunderstanding something.
Presents wrapped, cards gone, everything I need for nice breakfast tomorrow ready (Dave requested eggs benedict). New bed installed in guest room. All pigs watered and ready to fly :)

Xmas dinner is over with John and Steph tomorrow (we're requested to bring our own chairs).

Then nothing much planned until the 29th, when we start to head north: Mike's funeral is on the 30th, in Dundee. For those who hadn't heard, that's my uncle Mike, the second husband of my dad's little sister, who was a really nice guy with a wicked sense of humour. Once that's over, and any associated family socialising done, we hope to get over to [livejournal.com profile] grahamrobinson's New Years Eve party: since we're unexpectedly 400 miles closer than usual, we can make the most of it. And then home, via somewhere or other nice. Edinburgh is a possible one-day drive, yes, we've done it before, but it's not a fun concept.

At some point when at home, there is a gammon, and there is a rather large carp that Dave acquired for some ludicrously low sum in Morrisons. It seems that no-one was buying them because only the Poles had the foggiest idea what to do with one. Dave decided that I would - and after a bit of Googling, he was right. I think we'll have a trad. Polish Xmas Eve meal at some time in the New Year.
janewilliams20: (Default)
The Cystic Fibrosis Shop have a Useful Thing.

Extreme Gift Sack
Details: For those hard to wrap presents. Comes with matching tag.
Pack of 1: £2.99
Dimensions: 100x195cm

The picture shows it being used to wrap a bicycle.
http://www.cftrust.org.uk/categories/giftwrapandtags/products/extremegiftsack
janewilliams20: (Default)
Seven swans a-swimming.
http://www.jane-williams.me.uk/12daysofstories/storyday7.cfm
I'm glad I'm doing this challenge, it's improving my writing and my knowledge of mythology a LOT. I now know a lot more about swan maidens than I used to, and I've used it. There's the Swan Lake story, and a bunch of earlier ones, all of which work along the same lines: young man sees beautiful woman, wants to possess it, steals its swan robe and holds it to ransom in exchange for sexual favours and servitude (he may *call* it marriage, but...)
The swan maiden always has a magically powerful father/guardian, whose identity is unexplained.
In many versions, she escapes early, and he has to win her again, either by fighting monsters, or by correctly identifying her from her sisters or from an imposter. This last is where the "Swan lake" hero fails.
But then, a concept that starts to explain some of this. Swan maidens are another name for Valkyries. Their father/guardian is Odin. And the heroine and her double in Swan Lake are called Odette and Odile - coincidence? I think not!

Now, to write my own version and to fit it into Glorantha. Odin does not fit, but Humakt is the closest match we get. I've left the father's identity unknown, but he has one eye (Odin), he takes oaths very seriously (Humakt), and he doesn't need any help from human heroes in killing monsters (both). I've also added a link to the North Wind (Humakt), and a reference to the daughters bringing heroes to the father's hall (Odin).

And my own version... well, that was easy. Tell it from the swan's POV, not the man's, to start with. I didn't bother with the Valkyrie/warrior aspect, it wasn't needed. The battle for "not all women are useless, mindless, passive zombies" has been over for decades (well, except in the minds of a few idiots, but I'm not writing for them). The battle for "not all men are power-hungry jerks" is still going on. Meet a man who isn't a power-hungry jerk, and still wins - in fact, wins a much greater victory than any of his predecessors.
janewilliams20: (Default)
So far so good... the code that switches on the right line of the verse, and the right link, at midnight, is working fine. And I've got the stories out on time - just! So far no Kallyr stories, no Vingans, and no Humakti. The first one is a Trickster tale, the second has Healer heroes. I doubt if this restraint will last.
Here's the link again:
http://www.jane-williams.me.uk/
janewilliams20: (Default)
And this year's present to my FL and especially the Gloranthan element of it: stories. Or possibly twelve of them. One story for each of the days of Xmas, to be found here:
http://www.jane-williams.me.uk/
This being Day One, the first story is out. Whether I manage all 12 is an interesting question.

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