Sunday Music: Earworm

Sometimes my brain is not a place that’s comfortable to live in. Last week during the PMT insomnia, I managed to acquire an earworm, that earworm was ‘Champion the Wonder Horse’ I have no idea. It’s something I used to watch with my dad when I was very small and every now and again, it comes back to haunt me. So I’m passing it on to you!

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Recommendations: Dr Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser

A couple of weeks ago, I recommended Angus Castus to deal with PMT, because my PMT has been getting worse with peri-menopause. Well this week I’m back with the other side the annoying peri-menopausal coin. Spots.

I’ve been very lucky in that my skin has never been very blemish prone but when I get them, I get them on my chin, usually before a period. Recently that’s been spots on my chin all the time and also around my nose. It’s not a good look and while I’m not at the cystic acne stage, they are sore and look horrible.  I’ve been experimenting with skincare to help resolve the issue and it was helping but this was the final piece.  I found it via this year’s M&S Advent Calendar and my skin was clearer after the 1st day I used it.

I’m never going to solve the problem completely (not until the hormones stop) but spots I do get don’t last as long and aren’t as sore. Overall, my skin is clearer, less dry and seems to take face cream and SPF better.

I’m all about taking care of my skin without breaking the bank and this cleanser is the most expensive part of my skin care regime, coming in at £40 for 200ml. Yep I was pretty horrified too but it should last about 6 months and it makes a huge difference to my face. There may be other, cheaper stuff that works on my chin spots but I haven’t found it yet so right now it’s worth it.

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Friday Links:

Happy Friday! I had a lot to read and say about it this week!

The wealth gap: How changing fortunes tear close friends apart Interesting

How ultra-processed food took over your shopping basket

Fighting the tyranny of ‘niceness’: why we need difficult women

Building ‘resilience’ won’t stop traumatised social workers quitting. Social services suffers from a severe lack of joined up thinking generally, but as the funding gets less, it’s going to get worse. Some parents are just horrible and social services can help. They can talk to you about parenting and if you really care, you’ll listen. The problem is what if you’re not a horrible parent? What is you’re just if you’re just highly stressed because you’re in rubbish housing and having to use foodbanks because work doesn’t pay enough and you’re struggling for childcare anyway. Or your husband is a drinker and hits you and you’d like to move back to your mum’s but she’s given up her 3 bedroom council flat because of the bedroom tax and there is nowhere to go except temporary housing so a converted office block or a rubbish B&B which is over an hour away from your kids schools. Or you’ve lost respite care for your severely disabled child and the other kids are clambouring for attention that you can’t give so are acting out and you don’t have any money and your marriage is failing because you never get time together because you’re working opposite shifts because there aren’t enough carers.  Some of what I’m describing is my childhood, some is what I know is happening to people right now, one of the people I see on the bus in Ealing during term time is taking her kids to school in Fulham (my old primary school to be exact!) because they placed her in a B&B in Perivale when she fled domestic abuse and if the kids don’t go to school in Fulham, she doesn’t have any connection to the borough and loses her place on Hammersmith and Fulham’s housing list and she won’t get on Ealing’s because she’s not been in the borough long enough. Navigating this stuff is a bureaucratic minefield and what can a social worker do to help you with any of this? Almost nothing. Welcome to the Britain that was just re-elected because we’re taking back control…..

Flooding in the UK isn’t an act of God, it’s an act of government. I will confess that it did occur to me that all the flooding was happening in areas that voted leave, but co-incidence is not causation, however, how Johnson has your vote, you’re about to find out how much contempt he holds you in. No COBRA, no visits, and very little money. We all told you, you didn’t listen and now, well lets see how long it takes for you to get help with repairing your homes.

The people who matchmake their own parents: ‘Looking back, it was a rash thing to do’. I’m fairly sure that Ma doesn’t want a new life partner but even if she did, I would be staying well out of the way…

Ghost ship washes ashore in Ireland after more than a year at sea

The war between boomers and millennials benefits neither side

A cheery and helpful guide: How to be happy

This about vegetables for a bit – the are AMAZING! How can vegetables help you today?-How can you help vegetables? The road to happiness runs through a veggie patch. 

Why do we only care about incels when they are men? Because men make their problems, everyone’s problem and women aren’t encouraged to do that. Here’s an interesting thing. When Ma read through mine and my brother’s school reports about 20 years after we’d finished school, she was struck by how similar they were. The difference, when I wasn’t interested in something, I just quietly didn’t do it, when Ben wasn’t interested in something, he was disruptive. That right there is most of the difference between woman and men. I also think it’s why the rates of female to male transition is so high but the focus on trans issues seems always to be about male to female transition. Why are trans men not kicking off about being allowed in men’s only spaces. Partly men aren’t as threatened as women but no one seems to want to have a serious conversation about why women might be concerned about it the other way around. Trans women are women but they don’t have the same experience of being ignored and not listened to as CIS women, they can’t seem to get their heads around the idea that their freedom might or should be limited by other women’s rights or freedoms or fears. At the base of male incels rage is anger that they are ‘denied’ something they want. And the solution is to blame women rather than look at their behaviour or just lump it because that solution is only ever taught to women.

Whitehall’s take on Johnson’s reshuffle: this prime minister is insecure. I could have told you that!

The Long History of the Hand-Washing Gender Gap Interesting

Bloomberg Is the Crisis, Not the Cure. Because the answer to a millionaire riding roughshod over the US constitution is a billionaire riding roughshod over the Constitution in a more demure manner…

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Rainy Day Baking

Last weekend, with the rain pouring and the storm storming, I stayed inside and baked.

I made some bread rolls. I make these all the time, (usually halving the recipe because 24 is more rolls than one woman needs, using oil instead of butter and after I’ve mixed the ingredients together to form the dough, I don’t knead them, I try to avoid kneading at all costs!), this time I made them with honey instead of sugar and as a batch instead of separately. I like them this way, they are soft and seem to stay soft longer.

I also made up the batter for gingerbread but added 5 peeled on the edge of being over ripe pears and made 18 muffins instead of one loaf. They are really good, very moist but lovely and not as fiery and my usual gingerbread.

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Allotment Adventures: Storm Dennis

I need to start this week’s update on the plot with a tiny rant. On the 23 Jan, I ordered lots of raised beds from Primrose, three for me and seven for Dionne, they had a 2 to 4 days delivery window. On the 11 Feb, after 3 phone calls, on email and two promises of delivery in the next week, I cancelled the order because Primrose could not tell me when they would be delivered, just that they were having problems with the warehouse, caused by a move. They are still accepting orders for goods they know they can’t deliver. The refund will take up to 5 working days. So it may be in my bank account by the time you read this.Ma and I have decided that we will take that money and build the beds ourselves. But it’s really frustrating because I could have done that four weeks ago and then I’d be done with the beds and all I’d have to do was the pond and the compost.However, with this news and a visit on Wednesday, when Ma almost finished the last bit of weeding and I cut some kale, filled up the bird feeders and pulled up some grass (I was only there for an hour before I had to go back to work, Ma spent the afternoon) and the impending arrival of Storm Dennis, Ma and decided that a weekend off was the way forward.We are no further on with the list but it does need some adjustment. I’m still hopeful that I’ll be done with most of this list (we are not going to get around to the compost buying this month) but the end of the month. We have two more working weekends until March!

  • Build two new fruit beds and four new beds.
  • Transplant the roses
  • Move the boysenberry
  • Split the autumn raspberry bed into two.
  • Sow some more broad beans and cover the bed with netting
  • Pull up the chard and cover that bed
  • Set up the cloche
  • Sow sweet peas
  • Sow leeks
  • Buy seed potatoes (we couldn’t get nicola’s so went for charlottes)
  • Paint the shed
  • Split and trim the verbena bonariensis and move the stuff next to the rhubarb
  • Trim the rosemary and sage
  • Sow the first batch of peas
  • Weed everything!
  • Buy compost and start filling some beds
  • Turn the compost bins
  • Have another bonfire
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Soil, God and Lent

Last week the email about Grace Lent activities came around. My Grace attendance has been terrible for the last couple of years for lots of reasons I’m not going into but the Lent activities are all based on the themes of Soul, Soil and Society. I was looking at the list of planned activities and one of them is sowing potatoes and other seeds on an allotment that a couple of Grace members share. I thought looking at the list that I probably have the soil element of the theme covered but it did make me reflect on the way that soil and cultivation of it prepares you for a relationship with God. I have written before about how the plot helped me re-find my sense of relationship with God that went missing for a bit. I think that caring for land or a plot is, in its very nature an act of optimism and that is never more evident than in Lent. There’s a reason that the Church shifted the celebration of Lent and Easter to spring.

Before the plot, I always understood Lent as the preparation for Easter. “Prepare ye the way for the Lord” is a massive part of what we are trying to do during Lent, to make ourselves better Christians, to shape ourselves into the people that God means us to be. Lent’s focus on fasting or as my Grandad would have it ‘self denial’ fits really well into the idea of changing our sinful nature and living in a fallen world, which is still a massive part of much Christian theology. I’m not a huge believer in original sin or a fallen world (I know that I fall short but because I’m as human as God made me not because I’m inherently bad and I can’t believe in a loving God, who would punish us for being who He made us).  But it also made a virtue out of there not being much growing that you can eat, of being towards the end of your winter stores so our idea of Lent is really shaped by Northern European agrarian life, fasting when the body has no other choice.I knew that but what I also understand now is Lent as a season of hope, as a time of preparation for joy. Because this time of year on the plot is rough. Not much is growing and I’ve spent a lot of time on preparation, more so this year with the new half, but this time of year is all about getting the plot ready for growing. It all looks bleak but I’m trying to create the right conditions for growth without any guarantee that anything will work. You can’t harvest in summer, if you don’t plant in spring but the act of planting, guarantees nothing. It could be too dry, or too wet or a cold snap might kill all the newly emerged shoots, or the seeds might be duds, or the birds and might might eat them, or there could be an aphid attack, or the fox could use your plants as cushions, the list of things that could go wrong is long and scary.There is no choice if I want food except to try, to prepare the soil, to sow the seeds, to hope that it works. So during Lent, I can use the plot as mediation for my spiritual life. To see Jesus’ journey to the Cross in the same light. He’s sowing seeds, preparing the way, doing all this work and sacrifice, with no guarantee it’ll work and He’ll change us, that we’ll see more, do better, be God’s hands and help others.Lent makes more sense to me, because I can understand how God feels about me because it’s what I’m trying to do to the plot.

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Monday Miscellany: Wind and Rain

Happy Monday!

Storm Dennis is over but most of Wales seems to be under water, the pictures are grim but please don’t tell me climate change isn’t real…

Eventually the sun came out but the weekend has been pretty grim. The week that came before it was ok, work was busy as everyone geared up for time off because of half term, which means that this week should be less busy and I can start to get some longer term things off my list.

It’s light at 7:30am in the mornings which makes me so happy!

This week I’m all about trying to get enough sleep, my sleep has got really erratic recently. I’m also struggling for motivation to do anything at the moment so I need to sort myself out.

I’m going to the theatre on Thursday afternoon and to the cinema in the evening, and yes I will be working from home on Friday!

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