Mini Marimo Me’s!

About 4 years ago I bought a Marino moss ball for my fish tank. It did really well and, well… By accident I managed to break it and turn one ball into two! *rolls eyes*

 

Fast forward to today and I seem to have found that my two Marimo balls have now had kids… I’m not sure this is how it’s supposed to happen in moss ball procreation, but I’m not going to argue… B-)

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Everyone, say hello to Kael’Thas. That’s my daughters Red-tailed Shark that managed to photo bombed me on just about all the shots that came out roughly in focus. B-)

I’m considering taking the two smaller ones out of the tank and putting them in special bowls just for them and treat them like house plants, which is closer to what they actually are, rather than tank ornaments and filters.

Marimo make great pets too. Kinda. You move them around, talk to them… You can even take them outside and teach them to play catch! Or maybe you can play catch with them? Either way fun can be had with them.

Imagine a softer, wetter pet rock… except these grow over time while pet rocks don’t. B-)

Carpet brushes?

For a long time I have been getting annoyed by the fact that I can’t ever really get the sheddings from a certain member of our household out of the carpets. I do, of course, mean exhibit A…

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She is a long haired Turkish Van… She despises being brushed so she sheds everywhere. Our normal vacuum cleaner tries it’s best but it simply can’t get all the cat hair up. So a couple of weeks ago I bought a carpet brush. Honestly I didn’t think it would work.

The day I bought it I gave it a try. I’m not going to lie… It was good but not as good as I had hoped. As it turns out I had been using it wrong… Colour me surprised!

The brush I bought is only a carpet brush, not a carpet rake… I have been looking up carpet rakes for how to use it. *le sigh*

So yesterday I had another go with it with the new technique, to see how it went… SO MUCH BETTER!!!

After giving it a vacuum I then used the brush.

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You can see the line of fur that the vacuum just didn’t get up. The worst thing is that I can’t tell the difference between the brushed and the as-of-yet brushed bit!
And yet so much came out… It also managed to get out a couple of bits of walked in crud too. Very happy with that.

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In the end, after a single run I got this lot out. Not only that but it feels a lot fluffier underfoot. It’s only a short fibre rug but it has really made a difference!

This was only a cheaper brush. It’s this, if you were wondering… I’m going to try it on a few of the actual carpets in the house, see if it does as well on those as the rug.

Because this did so well I may upgrade to an actual carpet rake in time, maybe when this one wears out. Well… It’s better than shaving the cat! B-)

Baking French Baguettes

Today I decided to make some French bread, or Baguettes as they are often known. I also thought I would document it because I am a masochist, but mainly because I have no idea what else to do today. B-)

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Ingredients

  • 1 Cup of warm water
  • 2 1/2 Cups of flour (Bread flour is better but I use plain or general use flour)
  • 1 tbsp white sugar (I used Caster)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast or  1 pkt quick yeast
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp water

Method

Place the warm water, sugar and yeast into a large bowl, gently mix and leave for about 10 mins. When you return the yeast should have started to activate and will have frothed up a little. If it hasn’t frothed after 10 mins your yeast is likely dead and your bread won’t rise.

Once it is frothed up you can add in the flour and bring it all together into a dough. Once you have a dough tip it out onto a lightly floured top and kneed for about 10 mins until it springs back into shape when pulled.

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Add a half teaspoon of oil to the bowl you just used and coat the sides. You really won’t need much oil here! Put the dough back into the bowl and roll the dough ball around to coat the outside, place a damp towel over the top and move to a warm area to rise for about an hour or when it has doubled in size.

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Tip the dough out into a surface. If the oil has worked you shouldn’t need to flour it in order to do the next bit. If the dough is sticking then you may want to use a little flour.
Beat down the dough to knock out any air pockets and to loosen it up. This should only take a couple of minutes.

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Roll out the dough into a 16 x 12 inch square. A hint for you. Many rolling pins are roughly 16 inches in length… You can use that as a rough guide if you don’t have anything else.

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Make a cut laterally to give you two 8 x 12 inch pieces. Then roll up the dough from the longest side. Make the roll tight as you don’t want to catch any air pockets in here. When you are done it should look something like this.

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Now place the batons on your baking sheets. You may want to make sure that the rolled edge in on the bottom so you keep a nicer edge to the baton. My problem here is that my sheets are not as big as the batons so I have to use 2 sheets and place them corner to corner! >.<

Once they are on the sheets you want to make a series of diagonal slashes along the batons. Then cover them with your cloth again and leave in a warm place to bulk up again for an hour. When they are done they will look like the pic below left.

 

Preheat your oven to 190C (375F)
Next you want to mix your egg yolk in a cup with a tablespoon of water and baste the whole of your batons. Don’t be shy with the egg, just get it all covered! B-)

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Place them in the oven and bake for about 20 mins or until they are nicely golden.

I’m not going to lie. I have no real idea how long these will keep. For us they rarely make it to the end of the day! Case in point, somebody has already eaten half of one in the time I typed this. B-)
If I were to make a guess I would say no more than 3 days if kept in an air tight container. *shrug*

This recipe can be altered slightly to make them cinnamon bread just by adding a teaspoon of cinnamon to the dough when knocking it back after allowing it to rise for the first time. Adding cinnamon makes a nice bread REALLY nice!

If you want to make these for soup you only have to cut the 2 batons into 3rds before leaving to rise. Bare in mind that smaller rolls will cook quicker than batons.

 

 

 

Simple Veggie Bake

This is one of my fall back recipes I found a long time ago. It’s rather simple to put together and needs no super special ingredients and yet another of meals that can be messed around with to fit peoples tastes.

Serves 6 (or 4 Good servings)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 A good size Butternut Squash
  • One red sweet pepper (Capsicum)
  • Half a bunch of Spring Onions (4 or 5 stalks)
  • 100g Sweetcorn (Defrost fully if using Frozen)
  • 6 Eggs (Lightly beaten)
  • 1/2 (118 ml) Cup of Oil
  • 1 Cup (125 grams) plain flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to top

Method

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F)

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Cut off the skin and then dice your squash into about 1/2 inch cubes and place them into an oven proof dish.

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Measure out, defrost and generally prepare the rest of the ingredients. The spring onions and pepper can be roughly chopped. no finesse needed here!

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Place the now defrosted sweetcorn, red pepper and spring onions into the bowl with the Squash and then add the oil. Mix and coat well.

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Add in the lightly beaten eggs and then the salt and pepper to taste, I personally go for less salt and more pepper but you are free to suit yourself. Then add in the flour and carefully mix all the ingredients together to ensure they are all well coated and that there are no pockets of dry flour anywhere.

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Once it has been mixed sprinkle with Cayenne pepper. If Cayenne is too much, or not enough of a bite, feel free to substitute for something more to your own taste. Ghost chillies are a thing, BTW!

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Put the dish, uncovered, into the preheated oven for an hour. Once the hour is up it will need 5 minutes resting time out of the oven before serving… This is important!

Serve with home-made potato wedges like we usually do or perhaps a salad?

The meal will keep after cooking but will need to be kept in an airtight box in the fridge for no more than 3 days.

This recipe goes very well with the addition of bacon. But if you do add any meat it will need to be at least partially cooked before adding to the mix. Not only that but you may need to adjust the amount of oil as some meats are naturally oily.

 

And It Goes On… And On

I swear I should rename this account to ‘Shit that goes down at work’…

So… Today’s fiasco? Well…. Go grab a cup of tea, kids. Sit yourselves down and let Uncle Kal tell you the grand story of the latest shit-show. >.>

This Friday evening, and I go to my first shift of the week, check my email and find out that our department head, who we oh-so-rarely see, has forwarded us all an email from HR telling us that we need to take our holiday entitlement or we will lose them.

You see, we are currently on short, fixed term contracts as this is only a pilot scheme. Ok… Fair enough. But nobody mentioned that we need to have taken our holidays before each fixed term was done. So now we all have to take our holidays, although we can carry over a small amount at our managers discretion, which he has allowed. >.>

So now, for the next 3 weeks till the end of September, which is when this contract finishes, ALL the staff have to use up their holidays. So I am off next weekend… Whether I like it or not. *sigh*
So we have to fit in all those holidays, even though we are short staffed and can’t really afford to have people off…

The worse part? Yes, there is a worse part…

There is overtime available to cover the holidays.
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

O…M…F…G…

 

 

Her name isn’t Rio…

…But she may well dance upon the sands. B-)

Morning, folks! As I sit here typing this, it is 5:26am on a dark, slightly soggy, Friday morning and I have just come back from dropping the wife off at Leeds/Bradford airport so she can catch a flight to Rio… And I couldn’t be more proud. B-)

You see, she is off to the Paralympics. No, not as an athlete or a spectator, although she will no doubt be watching a fair amount of it too, but as a media person. How awesome is that?! She will be a part of the media team, those peeps that do the twitter, instagram, facebook, yada, yada, yada… All those. She is one of the unsung heroes that keeps everyone else up to date on what is going on.

For those of you that don’t know what the Paralympics are…. Read this!!!

My family is a big supporter of para-sports. For a while the wife was the manager of a sledge hockey team here in the UK and our daughter is a part of a local wheelchair basketball team. No, she isn’t an actual wheelchair user, she just plays it for fun. Although, side note, she knows a couple of the athletes heading to the paralympics. Another awesome thing! B-)

Not going to lie though. I don’t join in. I’m a supporter of the paralympics in as much as it is a thing… And it should be a thing, but I have no love for sports at all. I just don’t get it. And that’s fine. I don’t have to share the joy of sports to be proud of those that do enjoy it and actively help others enjoy it.

Anyway… This is really just a fluff piece to tell my wife that I love her and I’m oh so very proud of her. B-)

If you are interested and would like to know the schedule for the paralympics… Click here!

Oh, and Go Team GB!
(Other teams exist but GB is the best, so there!)

Oh dear…

Today we had a random visit from a couple of guys from the local council. In true council randomness they had been sent out to ‘Paint Garden Gates’… Not the fence or anything like that. Just the gates. Only the gates.

It’s not even as though they were given a list of houses that belonged to the council. No… They had to knock on all the doors and ask if the houses were council or not and then ask if they could paint the gates.

Yeah… Random. A bit of history for you. About 4 years ago we got a new gate because of the round of upgrades that were being done to renovate older houses. Fair enough. I can see that being a thing. They did our roof, kitchen and bathroom… Why not a new gate? So, today, they came around to paint it. Wonderful.

So already we have a fail. Then the workers left this… I shit you not I just had to sigh and shake my head. B-(

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Yep… That has to stay on the floor until the paint dries.

I… Can’t… Even. >.>

I’m not even going to bother hiding this one behind a link. Here… I’m off for a cup of tea.