25 August 2012

Birthday and cake…

Yet another birthday for J – and as usual another cake from that old favourite book Death by Chocolate.  This year he wanted a simple chocolate cake and picked this one as it was rather simple to make and we had most of the ingredients in the house already.

It was a pretty simple cake batter to make and other than a bit odd in it’s preparation it went well and cake came out really great from the oven.  The frosting however, was beyond bad.  I’m not a ‘big’ icing fan and will usually scrape it off the cake before I even eat it.  It was a simple icing sugar/butter with cocoa powder.  I’m not a fan of chocolate at the best of times (I know this is hard to believe but it really isn’t my favourite thing!) but the icing was bad.  I cannot fault the recipe it just wasn’t a great pairing with the cake.

So a disappointment that all my friends got to enjoy – so they are happy I’m sure.    I think I’d try something different but exactly what I am not sure as it really was a very light cake and closely resembled Angel Food in that lightness kind of way.  Oh well, live and learn but never this icing again!

17 August 2012

Rather disgusting I think....

I am always following links of links and looking at various news sites and such - never one to commit to a single source I am constantly travelling around reading.  I know this habit never dies!  Anyway, I found this article about What half a billion in campaign spending would have bought.  Here's the link to the article but the main impact is this:

  • Food for 9.2 million malnourished children for 50 days
  • Immunizations for 29 million children for life
  • Clean water for 500 million children for 40 days
  • 166 million anti-malarial mosquito bed nets 
It really makes you sick the amount of money being spent on this ONE campaign.  While I still vote back in the US this just about makes me lose my cookies.  What will really do it is whoever gets in as they both are nothing to write home about much less run a country.  So sad and so wasteful....  I usually end with Enjoy but this time I'll end with CHANGE!

12 August 2012

Making a small difference....

I recently saw the movie Food, Inc.   
Yes, it was made in 2008 and we are now in 2012 but hey this is what happens in the UK when movies are made – libraries are slow but do eventually get them! 
Anyway, I won’t make a big song and dance because there isn’t a need for one in this house.  I am the converted. 
I buy in season, local as much as possible or is available, organic/free-range for my meat and eggs and just about everything else.  I also buy fair trade so that people are paid a fair amount for their goods.  I try to do this in every facet of life – not just my eating but clothes, furniture, etc.  Yes, it is more expensive.  Yes, you do have to sometimes wait for that lovely bed (see posting below) but it sure was worth it! 
I kept someone in a job, someone had pride in their skill and I get to sleep in it EVERY night!  If it came from China I’d worry about the person who had to sweat to put it together, etc.  I wouldn’t even mind paying the same amount for a Chinese good – but why pay that and know the person who really got the wage was paid less than what you and I would spend on a cup of coffee for the WHOLE day? 
Enough said – enjoy the movie and THINK!  This is what our brains were made for!

4 August 2012

Goldilocks and her 3 beds for real!

OK this is not about cooking or what I got reduced at the store – I document that quite a bit but thought I’d relay some of the recent horrors we’ve had in attempting to get a new bed.  Yes, we really needed a new bed frame and mattress.  So we’ve been looking for over 2 years at the stuff in the stores putting it off because nothing really ‘sang’ to me or J.
Then last Christmas when we could put it off no longer we saw a frame/mattress at a local company – I’ll call them Bad Demons.  We enquired where was the bed made and told European and the mattress was UK made.  However, when bed arrived (mind you we had to move everything out of the room for this) the box clearly said our not so favourite slogan ‘Made in China’.  When we wanted to return it we weren’t sure if we were going to keep the mattress or not but this ended up from being made in the UK to somehow coming from Ireland.  With all the will in the world that’s not the UK.  We were in doubt.  So back that went and refund dutifully made.
Second place – now this time we took time to find what we thought would be our ‘bed’.  It was handmade in the UK with FSC wood – and the mattress was also made in the UK.  Can you see a pattern here?  Yes, we are trying to keep UK businesses in business.  I’ll call them Wanker Beds.  We even went down to the store in London to see the bed ourselves, measure things, feel the mattress, etc.  We learned from Bad Demons or thought we had.  
So second bed ordered and about a month later it comes.  All wrapped in blankets so as not to use cardboard or other materials.  Great care taken to get it into the flat and again our old bed goes out into the hall temporarily.  The delivery men put the bed together first wrong – it’s not in properly so have to unscrew the screws now and do it again.  This leaves us with severely chipped wood and looks a sight.  Upon closer inspection the slats are warped and some so split we’re sure they won’t last a month much less a lifetime as we anticipated for this bed.  They are screwed in – something we didn’t think to check but think this is not a sound idea.
Meantime in the hallway of our flats our old bed has now walked off with a new owner so we have no bed whatsoever.  The mattress also isn’t right – one half of it looks to be filled less and is at an incline, one roll and you’re off the bed.  We are not pleased.  Wanker beds have to come back and take this away – we are devastated.  
All we want is a bed – made in the UK that will last us more than a year as we know flat pack furniture is not for us.  I love all things old – it’s stood the test of time – nothing new ever lasts.  Now we are up against a wall.  Our ‘new’ bed goes in a month and our ‘old’ bed has walked off.  We’ll be on the floor sleeping because we cannot find anyone who makes something so simple in this country.
Again I turn to the great Internet.  We decide that we’ll have to put more money into the frame because it looks like bespoke will be about our only option.  But wait – I do a search for reclaimed wood bed and what do I find?!  Yes, a company called EatSleepLive.  I found others and in fact we narrowed it down to three companies.  I e-mailed each company with a list of things we were interested in knowing – how is the bed put together, who delivers the item, prices, etc.  
We figured those that did answer would be serious.  It was a test – sorry but as you can see from the above by now we are prepared for disaster.  So two out of the three we emailed initially reply – I guess the third company couldn’t be bothered even to reply.  But we kept this up as more questions came to us, we asked and replies were received.  Both companies were very patient and kind in responding.  We eventually put everything into a grid with a Pro/Con comments.  Both companies were in the running but what made EatSleepLive the final winner?  It was really the loads of pictures we saw on the site and my gut.  J was in favour of the other company but I stood my ground – nope this was the one I wanted.  Something inside me said just ‘go for it’.  It gave us a modicum of hope that finally we found a company that did things the way we liked/wanted.
So we bit the bullet and put in our order for a bed.  It would be about 12 weeks for it to arrive but we knew it would be worth waiting for.  In the meantime we slept on the floor on just about anything that offered us an inkling of cushion-y effect.
It is surprising how fast 12 weeks can go and suddenly we got the call.  Our bed was nearly ready and we needed to arrange delivery.  Oh my – we were nervous and then had to quickly get our mattress as we didn’t want to have a mattress sitting in the flat until the bed was ready or here.  Furious times I must tell you.

But finally the day came and our new bed ARRIVED!  Oh my, it was better than the pictures on their site.  I just really could not believe it was finally here and that the bed was far superior to my expectations.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking but all I can say is save for this stuff as it’s worth it!  We've now had it just about 2 months and how the memories of sleeping on the floor have left - I shall never take that for granted again!  The wood apparently comes from an old brewery in Peterborough which means no trees died in the making of this bed - it is 100% recycled.
We are now looking at a chest of drawers but that’s going to be a bit but well worth the wait.  I’m not paid by them to say this nor am I in anyway compensated for this praise.  I am just pleased to finally find a company that makes an honest living and provides a service that they can be proud of.  
All the time I am disappointed in companies and every once in a while it is great to find something you can say was done right and well.  I’m also proud to say that I did my part and kept China out of it – can you say the same?  Enough said... 

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