Category Archives: Uncategorized

I bought a hand blender lately

I’m going to spare you an ode to the iron I bought; I haven’t yet unpacked it. 

But I bought a handblender yet. You don’t need to know any details about it except it has a metal blade attachment, came with a cutter tool that resembles a baby food processor, and it also came with a jug type thing. That jug type thing, and the metal blade attachment were my selection criteria, that and not costing 120E while not being a supermarket own brand that I have never heard of. 

I wanted to make my own smoothies. I wanted to do this because most smoothies I buy seem to have added sugar in them. I don’t want or need this. I have a basic recipe and it goes like this. 

You will need the following stuff

  • a hand blender
  • something to blend the stuff in
  • a citrus squeezer of some description. 
  • a knife. 
  • a dessert spoon
  • a banana or some papaya
  • strawberries or blueberries or mango
  • some no-sugar added natural yogurt. I use a set yogurt with very low sugar content
  • some orange juice
  • some ground ginger, 
  • a lime

Here is how you do it:

  • Chop some (say, four) strawberries/some mango, some blueberries) into your something to blend the stuff into. 
  • Chop the banana/papaya into that something
  • Add the juice of one lime, or half a lime if you are a wimp
  • Add “some” ground ginger. Err on the side of caution (I like a lot, but that should be no reflection on you. 
  • Add two dessert spoonfuls of yogurt
  • Top up with orange juice. I generally advise against the stuff with pulp as cleaning that out is a hassle, particularly by hand. 
  • Use the blender to liquidise everything. 
  • Remove and rinse the blender attachment immediately. Dried on smoothie is a bitch to clean off. 
  • Decant some smoothie into a glass. Enjoy. 

I bought a sewing machine lately

On Good Friday, 2019, to be precise. I had been angling for one for around 10 years but had never quite….got there. Until now. 

Sewing

I had a conversation with a friend lately on the question of clothing; we both focus on the comfort of clothing, in my case, because I am so damn glad to find clothes that fit me that the colour matching is completely a secondary concern. I am Between Sizes. I have always been Between Sizes because I have DD cup breasts. It doesn’t matter what size I am, I am between sizes. 

I live with it. 

The problem is when you find clothing styles you like and the vendor discontinues them. I have serious issues sourcing nightwear at the moment, and swimsuits are a hassle too, causing a decision to quit Speedo after nearly 25 years of loyalty to the brand. And it occurred to me that in theory (note those two words as they may come back to haunt later) it should be possible to dismember clothes I like but which are no longer respectable to wear in company (that would be those two purple/lilac coloured tops, there, which I bought at least 7 years ago but refuse to give up because I like how they fit) and use them to creat basic patterns, particularly the non-stretchy fabric (that would be that last remaining shortish satin nightdress that I need to fix the dart on and really should throw out as I can’t even begin to remember when it was bought but we’re probably talking ca 10 years ago). 

One of my friend bought an overlocker. No, I didn’t know what one of those was either but she made a skirt using it, and it did not appear to have been a particularly high mountain to climb. I am a logical person sometimes. I reason, this works like computer stuff and knitting patterns. There are instructions, you follow them, and 10 years later or so, when you get around to finishing stuff, you have a wearable. 

I kind of need a shorter timeline than ten years would be helpful but recent experience of finishing two doilies started ten years ago gives me a fresh view of my motivation sometimes. Anyway. I went looking at the three sewing machine shops and found one with staff I liked/found friendly/found helpful, and agreed to buy a Brother A16 sewing machine. It cost 30E more than its older brother, the A15. The A15 was a beautiful looking machine. The A16 was a bit boxier looking. I asked what the difference was and was told that the needle threading mechanism was easier to work on the A16 to the A15. As I expect to have the machine for at least 10 years, I ignored the more esthetically pleasing A15 and bought the miracle of engineering that was the A16. The fact that the single most common complaint about the A15 in amazon reviews related to the needle threading and my lack of patience with that may have contributed. The shop sales staff trained me in threading the needle and the bobbin, several times, and away I went. 

I’m nothing if not ambitious. I bought a whole pile of fat quarters and plan to make some napkins for my house and for my sister’s house. I can’t wear these of course, but I need to get the hang of basic stuff like a) sewing in a straight line and b) putting enough thread on the bobbin so as not to run out in the middle of something. I also need to read the manual. 

Sewing

But on Good Friday, I felt it would be a good idea to unpack it and try and figure out how I was going to fit it into my desk area. I have no other options – the desk where I paint and write blog entries is also where I will be sewing and cutting. So I also decided that sewing would be useful. 

Sewing

So yeah I had a go at sewing, and trying to style photographs of me sewing. 
Sewing

That was about my fourth attempt. I put up a hem and tried parallel lines too. Then I looked up YouTube videos and tried to figure out how I would make some napkins. It turned out the answer was “buy more fat quarters”. So I went back and did that. 

Then I discovered you had to wash and iron fabric before you sewed it. So I have about a dozen and a half fat quarters drying on the clothes horse and a deep desire to iron stuff so that I can start making napkins, either later today, or tomorrow. 

The washing them…was interesting. I’m starting to wonder if I should like, tack them before hand given that the edge threads are prone to rip. Some one of the blog instructions I read stated that you could do like 8 napkins in 2 hours but she didn’t include washing, drying or ironing in that time, as far as I can see. 

In general though, I have found the sewing world remarkably honest. You need stuff when you are starting off. It’s not a case of “just buy yourself some needles and away you go”. No. 

Buy the following items. 

  • sewing machine
  • scissors
  • needles for your sewing machine
  • pins
  • probably a pin cushion
  • chalk marking pencil
  • iron
  • ironing board

Where the scissors are concerned, issue death threats should someone be dumb enough to use your new and recommendedly the best you can afford to buy fabric scissors for anything other than fabric. I have no potential victims so I think I will be okay. But it’s refreshing that they recognise that you need to invest a certain amount of money up front. I had to buy an iron and ironing board for example. And I need to find homes for all these things. 

Brexit et al

There was a time I used to comment on political and day to day stuff but at some point, it got far too tedious, around the time the UK voted for Brexit and the US voted for Trump. 

As long as I live, I will never understand why. 

However, apparently there is an upside to Brexit. It will put up the cost of Lyons Tea in Ireland. Apparently a load of people in Ireland, many of them Dubs, believe Lyons Tea is Irish. Well it isn’t, any more. 

If you want true Irish Tea, Barrys is where it is at. Never without it. 

Planners and organisers – work

I bought another Filofax during the week, another Finsbury. It’s my second and I feel a bit bad about that as they are not cheap, they are self indulgent and there are cheaper solutions around but…But I operated on a single notebook for a long time and that wasn’t cutting it any more.

I have two Metropolitan Filofaxes somewhere in storage and I needed to solve immediate problems which is why I didn’t wait until I could go looking for them. During the year I bought a Filofax to try and be able to organise my personal life and cross reference it at least with work commitments. This was all fine for 2 or 3 months – work was generally organised using a notebook with a stripped down version of the bullet journaling system. Essentially at work I did the following:

  • basic agenda
  • to do lists
  • meeting notes

It wasn’t complicated and mostly it worked in chronological order. I occasionally cross referenced stuff using the page numbers but it would have been easier if I could move pages. It worked until I went on holidays in September, and then when I came back, my workload increased such that managing things on a day by day basis became borderline impossible. I needed something a bit more flexible and able to cope with sudden increases in workload. I toyed with multiple notebooks, looked at my digital options, and eventually decided what I wanted was rearrangeable pages. But I didn’t want that to be A4 sized as it is a hassle to lug folders around the place. In the end, I decided that work probably merited a filofax of its own so I ordered one during the week and used up some amazon vouchers.

Both Filofaxes which I bought this year are FInsburys. I chose them because I could get the Aqua colour which I liked locally, and the texture of the cover is very pleasing. I bought a Raspberry coloured one for work. The storage areas in the leather cover are handy but not deal breakers at the end of the day.

One of the things I noticed the minute I bought the work one was that what I needed from it was a lot more flexibility and a lot more bits. I have a section for filofax admin until the habits I need are built up. For example, I use colour as an organisational tool and in the notebooks that was generally off different coloured pens. Filofax comes with assorted colours of paper and I use blue for to do lists and yellow for meeting notes, for example. Remembering things like that are habits that need to be built. The plus side though is that I just use blue pens now and there is one blue and one black pen attached to the organiser.

But now I can break down work in terms of categories, be those categories projects, departments or assorted tasks within business as usual. This is extremely handy because it means that – for example – meeting notes or work notes are stored by category rather than date. They are easier to find.

Being a social media child, I went on pinterest and instagram to look at other people’s filofaxes and what strikes me is that there is a major focus on appearances there. Lots of headers in brush script, lots of washi tape. Even where they deal with trying to organise work, it has no relationship to the kind of work I am trying to do.

I work in IT management. A pretty day page that has a to do list with space for 8 items is unworkable for me. My daily to do list regularly runs to 20 or 30 items. There is no real coverage of the business of actually having a job, but plenty to the business of running a social media site.

I want my planner to look beautiful – I’m of an artistic leaning my self – but I also need it to be professionally useful. The key issue with Filofax over the years – and why I have failed with them in the past – is that their paper has been pretty dire in the future. This is something they appear to have fixed.

Starting an organiser in November is…interesting though. I’m not a huge fan of the vertical week on two pages for work – I have historically used a month on two pages and then transferred meetings into the daily lists. But one of the reasons I wanted to move away from the notebook is that I really didn’t have the time ot be drawing up the agenda pages myself any more so for the remaining 2 months of this year, I’ll use the planner that came in the filofax and sort things out differently for next year.

After that, what I need are lots of unmarked dividers. Both filofaxes came with numbered dividers 1-6 and I wish that Filofax would reconsider this. So one of my first purchases to feed the filofax habit has always been unmarked dividers that I could mark myself.  The other main thing is to ensure that you have an adequate supply of the paper you use. I haven’t tended to use the filofax to do list preprinted for my personal stuff but I am finding them useful for my work filofax for use as a master to do list. This basically is all the stuff that I have to do but not stuff I necessarily have to do today. To be honest, trying to manage this wrecked my head with the notebook solution so movable pages is dead handy here.

In the meantime, I continue to look at planners and filofaxes on Pinterest and Instagram for ideas about organising the paper, whatever about the content. I struggle with writing around the rings – this is something I will just have to get used to. Mostly, I’m really only interested in things like printed dividiers, how people organise dashboards.

For me, I’d say that the following items are required:

  • some sort of calendar agenda
  • blank paper of your choice, be it lines, grid, blank, dotgrid
  • at least 1 book mark and probably 2
  • Page markers
  • Dividers.
  • some sort of hole punch. I use the cheaper plastic one that fits i the planner itself.

After that… your options are fairly unlimited. Basic point is, you can find stuff so put effort into ensuring that you understand why things wind up in separate sections.

My primary sections at work are:

  • calendar
  • daily to do list
  • master to do list
  • meeting notes
    • these get moved to the relevant project when complete – this is to ensure I always have meeting note paper
  • projects
    • subdivided as required
  • work journal.
  • careers planning

I tend to think it’s important to review each day, and note any important stuff on an ongoing basis and review those notes from time to time to ensure that you are aware of what is going on and how different people are reacting.

 

St Nicolas is coming.

I arrived in Luxembourg at the start of December and got side tracked by the Christmas markets. This means I missed the Christmas section in Auchan where I do about half my grocery shopping. Also I was living in Bonnevoie at the time and did all my shopping in the Cactus over there. No recollection at all of whether they had much chocolate at all but then I was dealing with sleepless nights caused by endless drum and base from one of my then housemates.

As Halloween is gone, the supermarkets have decided The Time Has Come. I walked into Chocolate Wonderland today.

I have never seen ANYthing like it. I didn’t know Lindt had so many product lines. I cannot tell you how many different brands of marron glacées are to be acquired. There are selection boxes the like of which would put our paltry options to shame.

The only thing they really didn’t have was a tin of Roses.

Snowflakes don’t want to live with their parents (and rightly so)

I don’t live in Ireland at the moment but Bank of Ireland got into a bit of trouble over the last day or two over some advertising campaign whereby they had Orla moving in with her parents so she and the other half could save money for a deposit. There was war and rumours of war. The ad got pulled.

There seems to be broadly two trains of thought: a) this should not be normalised and b) this is normal and what’s the problem.

I’m of the (a) school of thought. For the most part, if I were ever to move in with my parents, I’d expect to be paying rent and upkeep. Fair is fair. I’m an adult. The model in the ad looked like she was in her 30s. I haven’t lived with my parents since I was 17. I think if I’d had to move in at the age of 32 it would have been extremely culturally difficult for all of us. And it certainly would not have been free gratis either.

The property market in Dublin is utterly crazy at the moment. There are a lot of reasons for this: the numbers of units which have moved from the residental market to the commercial short term let market via AirBnB is one contributor, the lack of building over the last 10 years won’t have helped either. The fact that there have been very high profile failures of regulation for property built in the time period 2000 – 2007 also won’t be helping.

But.

Normalising adults still living with their parents is socially a very bad idea. Doing it for money even more so. Parents should be able to expect their off spring to fend for themselves by the time they hit 21. Neither the offspring nor the parents should be having their style cramped by living with their parents.

This is the problem I have with the ad – that it normalises something which is probably not a great thing from a social point of view. That being said, it’s one of only a myriad of problems that are not great from a social point of view. The accommodation problems in Dublin have wider ramifications in terms of quality of life, people commuting from further distances, impacts on spatial planning, people will wind up trapped in negative equity again, and there will be problems again. I got out of Dublin because I could afford to neither rent nor buy and this is the reality for a lot of people working in the Dublin area. That’s not sustainable and a few people moving in with their parents to try and stash the guts of more than a year’s gross salary in savings isn’t going to fix that.

The simple problem is this: for property to become affordable, property values are going to have to halve again. And there are a lot of people yowling about the current snowflakes have it too easy and are entitled who are doing that yowling because they own the property and they don’t want to sell it for an affordable price.

Updates to TreasaLynch.com

If you follow my blog about IT and Language stuff at treasalynch.com/blog you might want to update your RSS reader as I moved the blog to www.treasalynch.com today. I also cleaned out a bunch of subsites and killed two of my older sites (so you’ll not see an update from livingforlight or thingsthatstrikeme for a while unless I reuse the domain name).

This site will remain live but most of the language and tech stuff should appear over on treasalynch.com now. All sorts of other random stuff, drawings and photographs will probably wind up here.

Dragon Queen of Horndressers

I was up early this morning and drawing. The end result was this:

 


To be honest, I had done a greyscale version of it with a HB pencil during the week but having finished that, decided that really, probably because it was a dragon it merited the coloured pencil treatment.

The piece took just about 2 hours to complete, start to finish. It was done on Hahnemuller 1584 sketching paper which is 190gsm, so a bit heavier than some of my other drawing paper, and bought as a cheap layout pad for a different project but as it turned out to be really nice paper to draw on it has been a bit repurposed. The coloured pencils are Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils, which I love. The underlying line drawing was done with a Faber Castell sparkly which is my go to for a lot of stuff like this. I have a beautiful Swiss Wood Caran d’Ache too but it is prone to smudge so I tend to use it for watercolour rather than for coloured pencils. Smells beautiful too.

I haven’t been drawing all that much lately – it seems to be a Sunday morning activity at most lately – because I have been playing the piano (Handel is spinning in his grave as is Chopin, to be a bit frank). The last significant bit of work I did was for a Faber Castell competition for a Karlbox which is 2500E worth of drawing gear, mainly Albrecht Durer watercolour pencils, PItt pens which I use a lot and some Polychromos – about half the full range, all neatly tidyable away. If I am really honest, it’s the ability to tidy this stuff is which really attracted me to the competition. I have my Pitt markers in a shoebox for example. Anyway, FC announced during the week they had 1500 entries. My chances are, at best 1/1500+, and then you bear in mind that winning is not completely random either. But I had fun doing it and I appear to have a slight cartoonish quality to my drawing of people. It was a learning process