Positive thoughts

Floyd. Day 155/365.

A few days ago I was out of sorts. I hate feeling in a funk like that because it’s hard to just snap out of it really quickly which I’d like to do. Instead it usually takes me a day or two to get over those feelings and this time was no different.

I can see how easy it would be to wallow in the feelings of self doubt, pity and all the rest of it and I can’t pinpoint exactly what helps me get out of a funk. Here’s some ideas though:

Time is definitely a factor. If I’m having a bad day then usually the whole day will stay that way and I just have to hope that the next day will be a lot better.

Talking to friends. It’s isolating staying at home by yourself. I know this full well from being a single mum with a young baby. Nearly ten years ago I didn’t have the online network that I have now with blogging, Twitter and Facebook. I only had the phone and if I didn’t speak to an adult on the phone at least once a day I think I would have gone mad. Now that I have the social networking available to me it helps the feelings of isolation but I still need to talk to people.

Getting out and doing something. I’ve got a dog so I need to walk her while she’s still up for it. She’s around 14 years old so I’m dreading the day when she just doesn’t want to go for a walk. I also try to make lunch or coffee dates (although not too many because of the financial situation). But I don’t always have to leave the house because just even keeping busy around the house helps keep my mind off things. I got out the furniture polish to do some polishing yesterday, something I rarely do. I usually just get a dust cloth for the dusting. And I’ve been watching The Love Boat – some good escapism.

Thinking positively. I think this is the hardest to do but probably one of the best things and let me tell you why. I have to constantly remind myself that I am a useful member of society and have something great to offer the paid workforce, whether it’s in a freelance capacity or otherwise. I’ve got some excellent skills and people who’ve seen my Resume recently have commented  on how impressive my skillset is. I had a Facebook message yesterday from a friend who works in wine marketing asking for my help with their Facebook page. I haven’t definitely heard yet whether they will get me to help (but I’m hopeful) and it won’t be a stack of work, but it’s something to start with and I don’t think this opportunity would have presented itself when I was feeling really down the other day.

Now, I do need help with procrastination. I’ve bought myself and started setting up my own website to further my professional branding but have been sitting on it without really adding any content. I find mrketing myself quite hard to do but I’m going to have to swallow my pride to some extent and just do it.

Out of sorts

Staring at the ceiling. Day 160/365.

I’m usually pretty good with my photo of the day but I had a shitful day on Monday so I realised at about 9.30pm that I hadn’t taken one single photo that day.

We’d stayed the night before at The Surfer’s place which means an earlier start to get back here to get JJ ready for school. It’s not ideal but I do like the extra time I get to spend with The Surfer.

It was the first day back of the school term and JJ was out of sorts from the word go and we got into a huge argument about him cleaning his teeth. Upon reflection I probably should have let it go but it wasn’t until after I picked him up from school that afternoon that I realised that JJ was feeling anxious about going back to school.

A kid that started at the school last year that JJ didn’t get along at all well with has been away for the first term at a different place learning English from what I understand, or getting a better grip on it. He came back to JJ’s school and is in his class and a good friend of JJ”s lives next door to this kid so JJ’s kind of been dumped for the returning kid.

JJ’s upset about it and I wish kids were better at being inclusive but mostly they’re not and I think this is why he was out of sorts on Monday. Yesterday was much better and I’m sure they’ll all find their groove.

Also on Monday when I plugged my laptop in it didn’t recognise my internet signal. I spent ALL of Monday trying to sort it out to no avail and a lot of yesterday was wasted too. I tried a system restore, I also even reinstalled all the settings on the modem – all still to no avail.

This morning I changed one setting on the router – the channel setting – and voila it now works. It’s exactly the same setting as I was using Monday morning so goodness knows why it didn’t work then!

Fortunately I’ve got my old laptop so all was not lost with me being able to get online and of course that could still see my modem so I was wired to the outside world.

I’ve also been feeling dejected again about the work front. Everyone keeps saying that I will get back into work but it’s been three months now and not much has happened. If anyone’s got any suggestions about reading I can do to turn my dejectedness and sometimes negativity into something a lot more useful I’m all ears.

Spending some quality time with my boy

In the neighbourhood. Day 147/365.

It’s been school holidays here for the last two weeks and because I’m still out of work, I didn’t have to worry about putting JJ into vacation care.

We’ve been sleeping in, taking the dog for a walk and catching up with friends.

Feeding the chooks. Day 148/365.

We visited some friends up in the hills last week where JJ got to feed the chooks and he came home with a yabby which is now living out in our back yard. Actually we came home with two yabbies but there is only one left. It’s a mystery as to where the other one went.

JJ bought and paid for himself a plastic crate to keep it in and has been the sole caretaker of it – something I insisted on at the start. He’s really into animals, nature and science and would have a zoo living here if he could. We already have a dog, two fish and now one yabby and that’s plenty for me. At least the fish and the yabby are self sufficient if we’re not here for a couple of days at a time which can happen when we spend time at The Surfer’s place.

The photo below was taken at the hardware shop where JJ bought the yabby crate from. The guy JJ’s sitting with happens to be a friend of ours who was working there that day. He’s a clown and he entertains the shoppers while they lose their way around the huge hardware store. It’s a bit of welcome light relief when you’re frustrated at not being able to find what youu want, or not find a person to help you find what you want.

Coupla clowns. Day 153/365.

JJ’s been sleeping in his ‘cubby’ in the spare room. He’s made a makeshift tent of sorts that he’s been sleeping in for the last three nights. It’s great doing these sorts of things when we don’t really have any other commitments like having to go to school or work.

A dog’s day

The Surfer has gone and got himself a puppy. I was a little bit concerned as to how Monty would react to it because she’s way past putting up with puppy shenanigans.

I think these photos pretty well describe their relationship. The two protagonists.

This is Monty when she’s pretty relaxed.

IMG_0699

This is Clay.

Clay

Clay starts chasing Monty around the backyard.  She barks at him and does her darndest to ignore him. He doesn’t care.

Clay hassling Monty

He’s licking his lips while he contemplates what he might do next.

Thinking about what to do next

He thinks that biting Monty’s fur is a pretty good thing to do. Monty, meanwhile, is still not impressed and still barking at him to leave her the heck alone.

Clay biting Monty's fur

A small truce?

Clay and Monty

He’s pretty persistent and doesn’t give up too easily. I guess he can’t figure out why she just won’t play with him.

Monty telling Clay - NO

This will carry on for a little while until he gets sick of it. I’ve been very proud of Monty for not completely losing it with him. The other day though, we think she finally nipped him on the face somewhere because he ran off yelping. He wouldn’t go near her for a while although he really wanted to. He wasn’t injured at all and he’s since forgotten that little incident and is back to his old ways.

It sure exhausts Monty and she sleeps extra well when he’s away behind closed gates.

Domestic goddess goodness

Bought from the Mannum Hospital Auxiliary shop. Day 140/365.

I go through spurts of cooking and I’ve been through an epic one in the last week or so. I’ve made quince paste. I also did a heap of cooking for The Surfer’s 50th birthday party which was held on Saturday night. I whipped up some sausage rolls and helped him make a bunch of pizzas to eat on the night. I also made a birthday cake – my chocolate express one. Luckily I’d done the sausage rolls a week earlier to freeze because by the end of Saturday afternoon I couldn’t stop yawning and wondered how I’d make it through the night but make it through I did.

I also whipped up a chicken/vegetable korma for his birthday dinner the other night with his kids and mine. It was accompanied by baked quinces and yoghurt for dessert.

I even had a go at making chocolate brownies yesterday and they are really delicious, very sugary and quite filling in a very sweet way.

The apron you see above was bought in the Mannum Hospital auxiliary shop. I’ve already got a few aprons but this one was so cute I couldn’t resist, and it only cost $5. Aprons are so handy when cooking because I find I’m always needing to wipe my hands, let alone the things that get spilt when mixing and beating.

This sewing machine is probably older than me. Day 141/365.

Not only have been making good use of my apron, I even got out the sewing machine the other day to sew up a few seams from old clothes that were falling apart. I can’t remember the last time I got it out but I remember exactly how to thread it.

As I setup the sewing machine I did a status update on Facebook saying I was closing down the computer to use the sewing machine and lots of people commented. One commenter said there’s lots of great patterns around at the moment of 50s and 60s clothes. Who knows, maybe I’ll make something. Now I want to head into a sewing shop to see what’s around.

Who’s got time to work, there’s too much else to do.

Making quince paste

It’s quince time of year around these parts and due to a friend in the hills having some quince trees I found myself with a number of them so I thought I’d attempt to make quince paste.

You eat it with soft cheese, like brie, and crackers and its sweetness complements the brie perfectly. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like it.

I found a quince paste recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly and here’s what happened. I’ve italicised my notes below.

Ingredients

2kg quinces (I used slightly more as I had some bruised quinces)
Water
Approx 1.25 kg sugar
Cheese platter and crackers to serve

Method

Wash, peel and core quinces. Chop quince flesh coarsely and place in large saucepan. Tie peel and cores in a small piece of muslin to form a bag. (Only do this bit if you want to. I didn’t have enough room in the saucepan so I didn’t bother). Add to the quinces in the pan.

Add enough water to cover the quinces and boil, covered 30 minutes or until fruit is very soft. Remove muslin bag and push flesh through a fine sieve into a bowl. Alternatively you can process the fruit until very smooth (however, this method is only good if you have been very thorough in removing all skin, parts of the core and seeds from the quinces when preparing them.) Weigh the fruit pulp. You should have about 1.25kg of fruit pulp. Weigh out an equal amount of sugar.

This is what the paste looks like when you first add the sugar to the pan.

Combine sugar and fruit pulp in the same cleaned saucepan. Cook, stirring over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Continue to cook, stirring every 5-10 minutes, until the quince paste is very thick and a deep ruby colour. At this stage a wooden spoon drawn through the paste will leave a very distinct trail across the bottom of the pan. This will take approx 1½ hours.

This is what it looked like towards the end. I had to stir it fairly constantly so it didn’t burn to the bottom of the pan. Next time I will try it in the slow cooker as I think that will do a great job.

Transfer cooked paste to a lightly greased and lined 20cm x 30cm lamington pan. Spread paste flat.

Place in fan-forced oven with only the fan working (no temperature set) overnight or for several hours to dry out. Alternatively you can dry the paste in a very low oven (90°C) for several hours, or you could use a traditional method for drying the paste: in the sunshine if you have constant sunshine, in an airing cupboard, in a gas oven with the pilot light on, or as Stephanie Alexander mentions in her book – the cook’s companion, one of her reader’s wrote in to tell her she had successfully dried it on the back shelf of her car under the rear window!

Whichever way you dry it, wrap it in baking paper and foil and then place in an airtight container. It should keep indefinitely. It’s a great accompaniment to cheese, or can be melted down and used in fruit tarts and pies. It should be cut into small wedges or squares to serve.

I was very pleased with how it turned out and I have quite a bit to keep me going. Some of my friends tried it and we all loved it. The difference between this and the bought quince paste is how fruity it is. Even though it is a bit time consuming to make I thoroughly recommend giving it a go. It’s absolutely delicious.

Need more information upfront

Commuter train. Day 134/365.

In the last post I wrote that I’d been for a couple of job interviews.

I was made a job offer but I turned it down. I can’t quite believe I did that but I did and mainly because the salary offer was far too low for what I’m willing to settle for.

I’d been asked what I would like to earn and without hesitation I gave a figure. I know it was a bit high but I thought it’s something to work with and I was willing to negotiate.

They then made me an offer that was significantly lower than what I asked for so I declined.

So job advertisers, why don’t you state at the beginning what figures you’re willing to pay someone right at the start? I’d been for two interviews with this organisation and this took up my time and their time. This time could have been better spent by them speaking to someone who’d be willing to work for this amount. I could have better spent this time looking for other work.

The thing is I’ve just applied for two other jobs where the salary also wasn’t mentioned.

Maybe I was spoiled working in recent jobs that paid quite well but surely it’s not too much to expect to be paid reasonably when you’re being asked to plan and setup digital strategies, implement and coordinate them. And surely it’s not too much to expect to be paid reasonably well when you’ve got the experience, I stress the real-world work experience that they’re seeking. Surely!