365 days of gratitude


If I had to choose just one of the appliances that makes my life so much easier than it was for people – usually women –  of previous generations it would be the washing machine.

Doing the laundry is no longer the long and arduous task it used to be when it had to be done by hand or in earlier machines like the one my mother had when I was a child, with a wringer.

Modern machines are automatic, do the washing in a fraction of the time and leave the clothes dry enough not to drip.

When working properly they also do their work without wetting anything else but Mine developed a leak that left a puddle after every wash.

Neither my farmer nor I could work out the source of the leak.

We called a plumber who called in, checked the machine, said it wasn’t plumbing and recommended an appliance specialist.

We called him, he called in, checked the machine and said there was nothing wrong with it.

Next time I did the washing another large puddle appeared under the machine.

I mopped it up and re-summoned the specialist who came again and again said there was nothing wrong.

Next time I did the washing an even larger puddle appeared.

I mopped it up. It was too late to call anyone but later still I was getting something from the cupboard under the sink beside the washing machine when I noticed water in a vase and bucket.

That indicated the water was coming from a higher place. I looked up and noticed water dripping on the hose that connected the tap to the washing machine.

I called the plumber again. He called again, replaced the hose and solved the problem.

Today I’m grateful my washing machine is working as it should and not washing the clothes without washing the floor.

Just wondering . .


. . . why a recipe that stipulates unsalted butter includes salt as an ingredient.

Is there something in the chemistry that makes salted butter different from unsalted butter plus salt?

What’s a key pocket?


They needed some help. I’d cooked dinner, cleaned up and promised to be back to make lunch next day.

They gave me a set of keys so I could get in should they be out when I got to their house.

I put the keys carefully in my pocket and went home for the night.

Next morning I put on my jeans, felt in the pocket and my heart sank. No keys. I patted all my pockets. No keys. I put my hand in each pocket. Still no keys.

I looked on the floor, I shook out all the bed-clothes, I took everything out of my handbag and found a set of keys for another house. I looked under the bed, I took every item of clothes out of an overnight bag beside the bed and shook them, I got down on my hands and knees with a torch and scoured the floor again.

No keys.

I went out to the car, felt down the back and sides of the driver’s seat and found some small change but no keys.

I told myself a key ring with two keys can’t disappear into thin air, put my hand into my pocket again and found only a tissue.

I looked everywhere I’d already looked again and still no keys.

I gave up, gathered the makings for lunch, drove to the house of the people I was helping and let myself in with another spare key.

The home owner arrived home soon after and I confessed to losing the keys.

“I saw you put them in your pocket last night,” he said. “Are you sure they’re not in the key pocket?”

“Key pocket?” I thought, “What’s a key pocket?”

I put my hand into my pocket and as I did my thumb slid into a wee opening on the right hand side of the main one and felt something metal – the keys.

A key pocket is a good idea, but the key to its working properly is for the wearer of the jeans to know it’s there.


366 days of gratitude


One of the Domestic Goddess’s rules of relativity states that the length of the vacuum cleaner cord will always, but always, be fractionally shorter than the length required to clean a given space.

Enter the extension cord which allows me to clean the whole living room and part of the hall without the need to unplug, find another socket and re-plug the cleaner.

For this simple solution to a domestic irritant, I’m grateful.

366 days of gratitude


A group of USA farmers on tour called on us.

They had lots of questions about farming matters and one had a domestic query.

“Do you have a clothesline?” he said.

I replied in the affirmative and asked if he had wet clothes he wanted to dry.

He said no, but wondered if I had a clothes dryer too.

Again I replied in the affirmative and he responded by saying he’d noticed dryers and lines at all the homes he’d visited and wondered why we needed both.

I said the dryer was used in wet weather or when we needed something dry in a hurry and the line was used the rest of the time.

“Why not just use the dryer?” he asked.

I said there was both economic and environmental rationale  for using the line more than the dryer.

A Presbyterian upbringing taught me not to use power when there was an alternative and the line was also the small g greener option.

But apart from that, line-dried clothes smell better.

Today I’m grateful for the scent of freshly washed, line-dried bed linen that smells of sunshine.


For stubborn lids


J Bloggs has been offering suggestions in the Friday’s answers post for tools to open jars with stubborn lids, neither of which are like the one I have.

I don’t know how to get a photo in a comment so here’s what I mean:


When you squeeze the bottom arm it allows you to adjust the size of the grip.

For someone who has everything . . .


A tubemaster from Brix.

It’s a simple idea and it works, not just to get the most out of a tube but also to save arguments about who squeezes it how.

blix 2

blix 3


blix 1

It does not, however, solve the problem of people not putting the lid back on.

That will have to wait for another clever invention.

A pricey cut


On Sunday evening I stabbed myself with a carving knife.

I was taking a metal ring off a wine bottle at the time, the knife slipped and went into the gap between my thumb and forefinger. *

It bled a lot but I didn’t think it needed a stitch.

However, I couldn’t remember the last time I had a tetanus injection so phoned my doctor’s surgery next morning for an appointment.

The nurse, agreed the wound didn’t need a stitch but I did need a tetanus injection – the last one I’d had was in 1996.

She gave me the option of a double vaccine against tetanus and diphtheria or the triple vaccine one which also protected against whooping cough.

I opted for that – and a bill of $65 for the vaccine plus $30 for the consultation.

That made it a pricey cut but the protection will be worth the cost.

* This wasn’t an alcohol related accident. I hadn’t drunk any of the wine.

We’d bought it when in Argentina at least five years ago because we liked the painted bottle.

Our hosts warned us the wine wasn’t very good. When I came across it in the process of decluttering its colour indicated it hadn’t improved with age so I opened it and tipped the contents down the sink.

The smell as I did so confirmed that it wasn’t a good wine but the bottle will serve well for holding water to accompany meals.

If there’s a good time to lose power . . .


. . .it’s not when there’s three builders, a plumber, electrician and floor layer who all require it.

And when you have a bath full of sheets and pillow cases to be washed because there’s been mice in the linen cupboard.

And when you’re in the middle of baking for the Rotary auction tonight.

And when you have a media release to write which requires files on your computer.

Things I’ve learned #1


Sun bleaches scorch marks out of carpet.

In a fit of domestic rearrangement the mat which had been in front of the fire found a new home beside a French door. It’s basked there in sunlight all summer and the scorch marks have faded away.

I wasn’t responsible for the scorching nor even at home when it happened but I have grounds to suspect impatience during fire lighting and a bottle of maths meths were involved.

Plus ça change


A new study shows young people don’t become less of a burden on their parents domestically as they get older:

. . . The study from the University of NSW shows young adults are riding the gravy train at their parents’ homes and relying heavily on their mothers to do the housework.

Associate Professor Lyn Craig and Dr Abigail Powell used data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to compare the domestic work done by 5512 people aged between 15 and 34 living at home with that of their parents.

It found 97 per cent of mothers did daily housework, compared with 81 per cent of fathers.

Young women, at 74 per cent, contributed far more than young males, with only 54 per cent of them helping out with household chores.

Young men did seem to start pulling a bit more of their weight once they turned 25.  . .

Plus ça change . . .

Although one difference with this generation of young people is that they are staying at home longer.

But the story doesn’t say whether the parents are working outside the home when doing the domestic work for an adult family would be far more demanding than if they weren’t.

Nor does it say whether the parents are willingly looking after their offspring while they study and get established in their careers or if they feel imposed upon.

However, for their own sakes and that of their offspring and the people they might live with in the future, parents have a responsibility to ensure their children are house trained.

The younger that starts the easier it is for everyone.

Letters and germs


Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical mass today was sparked by:

Letters to the Editor of the Telegrpah which didn’t get published.

I especially enjoyed:

SIR – One is, of course, delighted to hear that the Greek economy is to be saved –once again.

On a recent visit to Crete I asked for the recipe for a Greek salad. There came the not entirely ironic reply: “First, you borrow some feta…”

Christopher Rodda

Boscastle, Cornwall


SIR – My family home, Compton Castle, built in the 14th Century, is open to the public.

For the convenience of the visitors, my father had a sign saying “Lavatory” placed on a door. One day, my mother overheard a young man say to his companion, “What’s a lavatory, dear?” To which she replied, “That’s medieval for toilet.”

His Honour Judge Francis Gilbert, Q.C.

Bovey Tracey, Devon

The other link was hygiene hotspots wich shows how clean your house is – or more likely isn’t.

Hat tip for the latter to: Monday Micro at Infectious Thoughts which will lead you to is the toilet seat really the dirtiest place in the house.

Better to clean spouting before it rains


I was just thinking that if you’re got to have a rainy afternoon, Sunday isn’t a bad time to be having it when I heard my farmer say bother (or word to similar affect with a little more force).

I looked where he was looking and saw water pouring down the inside of the window.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had a reminder that it’s better to clear the spouting before it rains and fortunately someone has already been home when it’s happened.

Water woes


“We’ve got no water.”

I woke up to hear my farmer giving me that bad news this morning.

It used to be a regular occurrence when we had a really hard frost but that hasn’t happened since our water supply system was upgraded a few years ago.

This morning’s fault was not weather related but human – someone had turned off the line to the tank which feeds the house to solve a temporary problem with low pressure somewhere else and forgot to turn it back on.

That’s been sorted.

Water’s flowing through our taps again and I’m full of appreciation for something I normally take for granted.

Which whiteware?


Another kitchen renovation question: which whiteware do you recommend?

We’ve had a Fisher and Paykel double dishdrawer for years.

It’s good when there’s just the two of us because it gets full before we run out of dishes but it does take a long time to do a cycle.

It’s had a couple of malfunctions and is at an age where it probably isn’t worth repairing if it breaks down again.

Kitchen renovations which are in the planning stage could be an excuse for a replacement.

The question is, if we go for a new dishwasher do we go for a dishdrawer again or another make and/or model?

The oven is 21 years old, its seal is sagging and both it and the cook top will be replaced.

Everyone tells me to stick to electricity for the oven, but do I go for gas or stick with electricity for the cook top and if it’s the latter is conventional or convection better and which brand?

50 things to know and beating procrastination


Websites discussed on Critical Mass with Jim Mora today:

50 things everybody should know how to do


Kick procrastination’s ass: run a dash which I found via Barking Up the Wrong Tree where there’s a far-too-familiar procrastination loop.

Why change what works?


A survey found that 40% of people only ever use one cycle on their machine, no matter what’s being washed.

I’m surprised that number isn’t higher.

There’s little change to what gets put in our dishwasher and therefore very rarely a need to change its cycle when it works.

But ours is just used to wash dishes unlike some others:

Gen Ys are more likely than all other age groups to not understand dishwasher cycle options and are also less likely to be able to perform basic maintenance on their machines.

“They are also more likely to use their dishwasher to clean things other than dishes and cutlery; washing pans, baking trays, sponges and even toothbrushes or sports shoes,” says Bonnar.

Toothbrushes and sports shoes?

That raises a whole lot of questions but I’m not sure I want to know the answers.

How many is enough?


If I remember correctly, the kitchen in the house I grew up in had only four three-pin power points.

There was one for the fridge, another for the radio and two on the oven where the kettle, toaster, vitamiser (a predecessor of the food processor) and mixer were plugged in as needed.

This had to be done with care because a design fault left cords at risk of connecting with the elements.

My kitchen has at least 10 power points – for the fridge, microwave, two phones, radio, toaster, bread maker, food processor, mixer and dish washer.

There are occasions all are in use and there’s a need for more.

Plans for kitchen renovations are still on the drawing board and given the occasional shortage I’m wondering how many power points is enough and where to put them.

Half way down the wall behind the fridge isn’t a good place if you need to defrost the freezer without pulling the whole appliance right out.

I’m also wondering when the people who make power sockets will catch up with the fact that plugs for some appliances are too big to fit side by side in double sockets. They need to come up with a new design with more space between the holes.

Top idea


How’s this for a top idea?

It came via email from a friend:

Seal Plastic Bags with Old Bottle Caps

Cut up a disposable water bottle and keep the neck and top, as in photo.

Insert the plastic bag through the neck and screw the top to seal.

The bag is made air-tight, water will not leak, it is easy to open and the top and screw cap can be used over again.

On mice and moths


When we got home after five days away on Sunday I checked the mouse traps.

The ones in the laundry, kitchen and living room were empty but the three in the hall cupboard had all done what they’re designed to do.

I disposed of the bodies, reset the traps and within an hour had caught another mice.

Since then the traps have been untouched and there’s been no fresh signs of mice.

My war against unwanted visitors has opened on a new front though – I’ve discovered holes in a couple of woollen garments which point to the presence of moths in my wardrobe.

They seem to have a taste for merino and have chewed through in places it will be difficult to repair.

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