Very Slow Cooked chicken

Let’s not pull any punches – I’m a monumentally bad cook. There is no recipe that I can’t mess up. No appliance I can’t arc weld food to. No Kitchen is safe in my presence. I am like the Arch Poltergeist of the food world. As a result so many people have recommended getting a slow cooker, they are fool proof I am told. Well let’s see.

It was the usual school morning start. Drop a heavy dumbbell on my foot. Stand barefoot on a Lego figure. Wipe up another cat accident. Try to find the missing school PE sock. Trip over the dog and drop son’s breakfast over floor. Why has the school bag shrunk – currently as full as a parachute backpack. Try to find ingredients for Food Technology (son so helpfully informs me 2 minutes before we have to leave). All while convincing son that everything is cool and going strictly to plan.

A slow cooker is purchased, reassuringly I opted for the one which said ‘the easiest way to cook great food’. First recipe – chicken stew- it’s must be a winner. All I have to do is dump the ingredients in (which is fantastic given the morning chaos unfolding around me) and let it cook on the low setting for 6 hours. Leave it to cook while he’s at school and I am out – perfect. Even our son was unusually looking forward to some edible food for the first time in years (excluding pizza deliveries).

More of a rarity, as I pick up our son from school he talks about maybe even dipping some bread in the mouth watering stew. So we both excitedly enter the house waiting to enveloped by the intoxicating aroma of high end cuisine.

Nothing no smell. Must be the really good lid sealing in those mouth watering flavours. I wish….

“Dad it’s stone cold, you did switch it on”. Followed by “What a muppet”.

So that nights fine cuisine was tinned soup and bread. That was actually option 3. Option 2 was microwave risotto – unfortunately somebody forgot to rip a hole in the top of the packet and at 45 seconds it exploded.

So tonight’s fine cuisine will hopefully be cooked and hot sausage casserole. Yes it has been switched on.

Random Acts of Kindness

Thank you MWS R WRITINGS for the Random Acts of Kindness

It’s often the simple acts that can make the biggest difference.

The rules are simple.

1- Tell who you nominate and why.
2= Copy and share the picture that shows the award, posted above.
3- Share a paragraph of something that impacted your own life in the way of receiving kindness or how you extended kindness to someone else.

Bad news, fake news, acts of aggression, intolerance, government incompetence and hatred are splattered all over the newspapers. Little positive to warm the hearts. So if anyone has some uplifting kindness tales, please share, I think we need them.

I was driving in the city on Friday and I was behind a white van. Being the usual English city – we were stuck in a traffic jam, not moving. The van driver suddenly jumped out of the van and walked to the other side of the road. I hadn’t noticed but it looked like a homeless man was sat by a wall. The van driver gave the homeless man what appeared to be his lunch. He then sat down beside him, put an arm round him and they talked. He did that for about 10 minutes until the traffic started to move again. The van driver got up, shock the homeless mans hand and got back into his van. Now that’s what I call a random act of kindness.

I just want to share one more image that for some reason keeps popping into my head today. When I was a child we had a policeman who would put the fear of god into everyone. He was described as an old school bobby. But it’s not that side of him that is my strongest memory of him. What I can remember so vividly is seeing him on a couple of occasions when a funeral procession passed him. He took his helmet off, faced the road, bowed his head and stood perfectly still. He would stay like that until the last funeral vehicle had passed. He would then get down onto one knee and say a prayer. He would then slowly get up and resume putting the fear of god into kids like me. That act of clear human respect still sticks with me all those years later.

Moments

Everyday I find a quiet part of the house or garden and just sit and think. I think about the loved ones who are no longer with us. Just 10 minutes of reflection, but it is so important to me. Just trying to remember some of the key moments we shared. Trying to reconnect. They may not be here physically anymore but in my mind they are still here, still part of my life. Today I remembered a trip to Lauterbrunnen. Holding hands with my partner drinking in the alpine air and watching in awe at the spectacular Staubbach Falls

The reflections are uplifting but are tinged with sadness.

Such a happy memory but oh so brief. Little did we know how few opportunities we would get to visit this wonderful alpine setting together. Sometimes life is hard and painful but I am thankful that I have these memories. Thankful that I had that brief moment in time and also thankful that now, a 1000 miles away Lautterbrunnen is there. The falls are still crashing down given other couples the same opportunity to create their own brief moment in time. So today on this day, this somber day I am sad but oh so thankful.

This Sunday

Just had the Sunday morning walk with the pup, time it to find a quiet spot for 11am. It was a somber walk. Both of us quiet lost in our own remembrance thoughts. What is reassuring is that I don’t have to reinforce the importance of remembrance – he gets it and he is obviously deeply moved by its meaning. This morning seeing how he and countless over kids reflect on the past should give us all hope for future.

Fungi

This little beauty has appeared in a shady corner of the garden. Possibly something to do with it being an area favoured by the pup for his early morning constitutional. I was going to pull it up but …

“Dad don’t kill it. It’s got as much right to be here as us”

Already getting the all so familiar sinking feeling of an argument slipping through my grasp, I tried one feeble counter thrust. An incoherent ramble about weeds.

“What’s a weed?”

That vail of defeat rapidly falling towards me … one last throw of the dice … it’s the wrong type of plant in the wrong place (all those years in the greenhouse with my gardening dad and that’s the best I can dig up!!!!)

Well strictly speaking that’s not a plant , it’s in the separate fungi classification. Also who defines what the wrong type of plant is. Didn’t you tell me that being different is one of life’s blessings”

Total defeat. The weed, sorry no – plant, sorry no – fungi STAYS. Now I have to build him his own little fence to keep the pup away. Deep joy.

Happier Dream World

As Stars Wars would tell you, balance is so important. So to balance out the very dark dream our son had a while back – The Dream, I will touch on a regular happier place his dreams take him. It’s a world world of talking animals who interact fully with the human world. He has memorised virtually ever dream and story to the finest detail – he must have hundreds of these stored up. Each individual dream/story forms an arc which then links into the ongoing overall narrative. Each character has been given a unique character and mainly live in Africa.

Mr Mole – A very wise mole who does not have a bad bone in his body. A legendary baker whose cakes are known world wide. Also happens to be the slowest driver in the world. Possesses a sneeze so powerful it can blow him instantly to different parts of the world.

Mr Cheetah – Loves eating Mr Moles cakes. As a result he is very unfit. Claims to be the fastest thing on the planet. Mr Moles best friend who gets increasingly frustrated with his slow driving.

Mrs Cheetah – Super athletic. Healthy eating guru. Is the fastest land creature in the world. Rumour has it that she is one of the worlds best spies.

Mr Crocodile – Complete coward. Scared of everything. Always forgetting things. A vegetarian. Normally if something has gone wrong the root cause is one of Mr Crocodiles many accidents.

Mrs Crocodile – Lives with Mr Crocodile. Very nice. But gets very cross with Mr Crocodile. Can wield her shopping bag like a samurai.

Mr Lion – Brave but can’t be separated from his beloved teddy bear.

Mr Peregrin – Fastest creature on the planet. One of the worlds superheroes.

Wise Old Owl – She is the worlds greatest mind. Hard to find – usually involves a world quest.

Derick – A Pine Martin. Distinguished thief. Very heroic. Has successfully stolen the U.K. Crown Jewels and replaced them with chocolate replicas – not been discovered yet.

Olive – The legendary Ostrich Opera singer. Always wanting to sing. A voice so powerful that it frequently causes structural damage.

Mr Elephant – Inventor of the number 1 most ecologically friendly mode of world transport. The Elephant catapult. The catapult can launch any creature, any item with unnerving accuracy and safety to any desired location. The only recurring fault is that an occasional miss fire lands something very heavy onto Mr King Cobra.

Mr King Cobra – Tries to be an evil hunter however every time he tries to hunt accidents happen to him. Often it’s a miss firing Elephant catapult dumping either an animal or luggage on top of him.

Mr Honey Badger – Very very bad tempered. Likes to be left alone while watching game shows on the TV.

Oliver and Kevin. An owl and a parrot. Best friends. Very very stupid. Renowned for offering really daft advice. However eventually the advice somehow manages to work out well.

Mr Camel and Mr Dromedary – The most boring creatures in the universe. So boring that they are terrifying. They happen to be best friends who are always at war.

Mr Bulldog – A police officer who can’t catch criminals but is very lovely and believes that everybody is good.

Mrs Zebra – Is the friend to so many famous actors, sports stars and musicians. They often visit for a lovely cup of tea and a chat. One problem her cooking is awful. It’s officially listed as weapons grade.

Mr Zebra – Tries to invent increasingly inventive ways to avoid eating Mrs Zebra’s cooking.

Mr Baboon – Claims to be a world famous wrestler but usually ends up hurting his back if he tries to do any activity so prefers to sit watching telly.

Grandpa Baboon – Oldest creature on the planet. Very fit and a bit of a daredevil.

Arnold the Armoured Chicken – A doomsayer always preparing for war which never comes.

Mr Kangaroo – Owner of the worlds largest pizza empire. Renowned pizza chief. Will only employ individuals who have a bouncy personality. Gordon Ramsay did work for him once but was released for being too much of an introvert.

So many more characters, but I think you get the picture.

Each dream/story arc is different but always has a happy ending and portrays a world full of hope and mysteries. Countries don’t exist just a global community of humans and animals working together. Yes some villains exist but the underlying hope is that good exists in all and just needs to be unlocked. So often the stories are about searching for the ‘keys’ to unlock the underlying goodness. The other key themes for this self contained world are

  • every individual is different. In this world individuality is treasured,
  • everyone experiences friendship
  • no one is without purpose
  • Bad things/sad things happen sometimes but there is always someone there to help or be that friend. Happiness is always just round the corner
  • Everybody is a hero at some stage
  • Good always wins out

Maybe, just maybe it should be our world to.

Warriors

Just a quick post.

This morning our son really didn’t want to go to school today. At one stage he enquired about starting his gap year – now. Facing a science test about cells and he is really worried about having to read or spell words like cytoplasm. But he got on the bus. I remember thinking my little hero.

A couple of hours later I read a great post about another little warrior. Please check it out. Says it so much better than me.

Needless fear

Thespian Advice

First up apologies for yesterday’s school rant. Probably suffering from Toffee Appleitis. It was heart felt but probably did come across as a bit of a winging parent. I suspect it might not be my last moan but I will try to keep a lid on it for the post.

The Toffee Apple update was quite positive. I did manage to find one rather sad looking specimen which apparently was quite tasty. While he was at school I moved away from the high science of Toffee to the more accessible chocolate approach. Chocolate is so much easier than Toffee – it falls within my very limited cooking range.

Chocolate Apple – success. Then the success went to my head – chocolate dipping anything I could find. Grapes, strawberries, banana, pineapple and melon. At one stage we had chocolate spectacles – but that was just an unintentional fumble. With the exception of the glasses – all chocolate covered items happily consumed.

After the chocolate eating fest our son brought up school and in particular drama. Apparently the class had a drama test which consisted of reading a script. No reading help was provided. When I asked how he coped his response was

“I couldn’t read the words but I didn’t panic, I just remembered the advice you gave me about drama”

This worried me on two counts. One I can’t remember any such advice and secondly the only thing I’m worse at than cooking is the performing arts. My only two ventures into the performing arts during my life have hardly been inspiring.

1) At school my class was entered into a singing competition. My signing was so bad that the teacher told me to stand at the back and just mime. I remember how he put it “for gods sake don’t sing or were buggered”.

2) A bit further down my educational journey I “performed” in the year end play. That year it was Julius Caesar. I was given the role of a centurion with one job. Stand on a podium (chair) and shout “hail Caesar”. Unfortunately on the big night I got a tad excited. I managed to let out a bellowing “Haiiiiiiiiiii” as I feel backwards off the chair, pulling most of the back curtain down.

So with trepidation I asked my son exactly what advice I had given him.

“You told me that if I had to do any acting and I didn’t know what to do then you should pretend to be a famous actor. Pretend to be someone like Christopher Lee playing Dracula”. ### he once watched a documentary about Christopher Lee’s career when he was appearing in Lord of the Rings and loved the Dracula bit ####

“So I just pretended to be Dracula stalking round the stage not saying a word. I later found out that it was some romantic stuff I was supposed to read”.

I couldn’t get the image of this vampire like figure stalking round the stage when they were expecting something more akin to Laurence Olivier or Colin Firth. Seconds later we were both in tears of laughter.

So in summary I can’t rule out future blog moans but I can categorically rule out any form of thespian advice.

It is still runny

Over the last couple of days our son has been even more disillusioned with school. School is still not being proactive which any support – he has to ask for help rather than have it incorporated into the teaching program. Some of the kids poke fun at him when he has to out his hand up for help. To make things worse now when he does ask for help the Teaching Assistant now ends the help by saying “now I’ve helped you what do you say”. Every single time our son has to thank the Teaching Assistant. Now I try to stress the importance of being polite but in this case….. From the sound of it the other kids are not asked to say thank you when they put their hand up for help – just our son when he needs some text reading out. Why single out the dyslexic child. Surely the Teaching Assistant can see that the kids poke even more fun when he says thank you.

Maybe it just my tired state anyway…

Last night to try and cheer him up I asked what might help make him happier. The answer – Toffee Apples.

So we set off to the local shop to find they had sold out. Only one option – make them myself – surely it can’t be that difficult. Silly old sausage.

First attempt (following recipe to the letter) would not set.

Next attempt – increase the temperature – even more runny, will not set.

Another attempt – decrease the temperature – annoyingly still as runny, will not set.

Yet another attempt – try a different recipe – same runny result.

Starting to lose patience attempt – increase amount of syrup – no improvement

Really annoyed attempt – increase amount of sugar – no change

The I’ve been doing this for hours now and son has gone to bed attempt – to tired to remember what I tried – this time I arc welded the ingredients to the pan.

*************

So my son set off to school now determined not to ask for any help at all. But at least he has the prospect of toffee apples. I promised him that I was heading to the city and would go round every single shop until I found them.

Thanksgiving Tag

I was given a Thanksgiving Grateful Blessed tag by MOM LIFE WITH CHIARI. THANK YOU. If I remember my school history lesson -Thanksgiving although a North American holiday has links with England and its Reformation times. On a much much less grand scale we have our Harvest Festivals. I’ve now completely exhausted my Thanksgiving schooling. Doesn’t say much for our education system or more likely my day dreaming tendencies during lessons.

Rules:

1. List your thankful ABC.

2. Add one theme clip art to your post.

3. Tag 3 people who’d you hope would participate.

My Tags (only do this if you want to)

Cosmic Observations

JeanLeesWorld

Blog of a useless mother

My thankful ABC

A – Aspergers/Autism… thankful for the light and inspiration they bring to our world

B – Batman …. for providing an endless source of present options

C – Carl … Carl Sagan – his vision his philosophy his humanity

D – Dreams … we can still dream

E – Earth … Still a beautiful planet

F – Family and Friends … thank you

G – Grief … For constantly reminding me what a privilege it was to have such a beautiful partner

H – Hope … Hope provides a light to guide our path

I – Imagination … So thankful for my son’s imagination – the most amazing thing I’ve ever come across.

J – Journey … Thankful to my parents for stressing that life should be seen as a journey not a race

K – Kiss … Still thankful for every single kiss with my partner

L – Love … thankful for the years of love I enjoyed with my partner

M – Music … so important to so many people

N – Natural World … such beauty such diversity such balance – shows us the way

O – Oceans … a constant reminder of how little we know about our planet

P – Pets … the source of so much joy

Q – Questions …. I know I am the luckiest person alive to be asked all those wonderful questions our son fires at me.

R – Rollercoaster … I’m so thankful I got off that last rollercoaster still attached to all my limbs and backside. Sorry to the family sat behind me who learnt so many new words.

S – Son … my life

T – Trampoline … the Trampoline never fails to bring a smile to our son’s face

U – Umbrellas … Living in Yorkshire I am eternally thankful to the person who invented umbrellas

V – Vegetables … Thankful for vegetables for making my diet much more healthy

W – Wrestling … Wrestling was the only thing which consistently provided an escape to our son during those darkest days

X – x … thankful for the inclusion of x in the alphabet, essential for people like me when buying clothes …. X Large.

Y – Yogi … thankful to Yogi Bear, I loved that bear when I was a toddler

Z – Zoo … I am thankful for every Zoo trip which have so much joy to our son.