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Archive for September, 2008

Breadmaking starts again!

Posted by --- on Monday 29 September, 2008

After my mishap earlier this month, I have been looking to get another breadmaker. I haven’t tried lots of different machines but was quite happy with the resuts of my last one (morphy richards 41210). Being concerened that trying a new brand would leave me disappointed, I continued to look at morphy richards models. My only problem with my last one (until I cooked it that is!) was it’s size. It was quite a long machine so I wanted something a little smaller.  I continued looking on ebay and was considering buying a 48280 when a 48285 was listed with a buy it now. I’m not sure what the difference is between the two models but it was within travelling distance, around the going price and looked in good condition so I bought it on Saturday.

The lady was lovely and DSK and I fetched in Sunday morning. DSK was bouncing up and down it DFS’s van he was so pleased we’d got another! By tea time we’d eaten the first loaf and I must say it was cracking! I really missed the smell of baking bread. I used the recipe from the Bread Improver packet using Asda’s own flour and yeast and it turned out great. I made another as soon as the machine had cooled using a hovis bread mix and was just as happy with that.  It’s lovely to have a bread machine back again! I can only compare the mod

els I’ve used which have all been morphy richards and I’m not what you’d call a baker but I’m pleased with the results and so are the family. My two problems are slicing it (I’ve bought a cheap electric knife which is tons easier than trying to slice it with an ordinary bread knife) and the size. The bread is gone after doing us all a sandwich! I also find it annoying that the kneading blade gets stuck either in the bread or in the pan. I’m wondering if I can watch the cycle and see if there is a stage I can remove it at before it cooks – I dont think so but will try it when I’ve made a few loaves.

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Breadmaking disaster…..

Posted by --- on Saturday 20 September, 2008

Ok this is embarrassing. My breadmaking escapades have hit a small snag. Well, not quite that small. I will explain.

After having made another successful loaf using my latest recipe, I left the breadmaker on top of the cooker to cool (yes, some of you are ahead of me…). I thought I’d put a pan of water on to boil for the runner beans I was picking from the garden. I turned on the halogen hob and continued preparing the dinner, not quite registering what the strange smell was. When the smell eventually filtered through from my nostrils to my brain I assumed there was something burning off the ring (happens occasionally). Then I realised my mistake. I’d turned on the wrong ring, the one under the breadmaker! Like an idiot, I picked up the breadmaker which only made things worse as huge thick trails of melted plastic poured from the bottom of the machine over the cooker. Most of the smoke was inside the closed machine.  I turned off the cooker, opened all the windows and turned the extractor on to full. As I opened the back door to let out the smoke that was now escaping out of the opened lid, Lexie shot outside scraping her nose with her paws – can you blame her?

Once it had cooled sufficiently, I tipped the machine on its side and plonked it in the garden.  There was a massive hole in the bottom of it. It took me hours to alternatley scrape and scrub the hob clean. Even after it looked clean it took a few days for the smell to go. Not only that but I have no breadmaker! DSK is most upset that I can no longer make his bread!

Am I a dipstick or what?!

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Dog walking and socialising progress… I hope

Posted by --- on Tuesday 2 September, 2008

I had to get out of the house today and so did DDJ so we took Lexie out for a test. She was better, (maybe it’s just evenings?). As she is pulling I put a halti on her and decided to take the plunge and walk to our local supermarket – if she behaved too badly I decided I was going to walk straight past it!

In our street, she barked at a couple of people that passed us, barked at a dog in it’s garden and set half the local dogs off barking! Then a friend spotted me and was walking the same way so walked with us. We walked to the supermarket and she barked at a couple of people but was irritated by her halti so didn’t know what to focus on first. She was watching people and throwing her head about, trying to pull backwards, trying to take it off with her front paws and occasionally spotting someone but it was all done mainly without barking. My friend was walking up to town and seeing as we were now in a really busy carpark without her barking or lunging I decided to go too. We went to the busy town centre and on to the main bus station. A few people were commenting on the “pretty puppy” which I was pleased with as I was expecting the devil dog stares. One lady asked if she could stroke her so I asked the dog to sit and she happily accepted being stroked. Then a man with a dog came up. I knew she’d bark and was half explaining it to him as she spotted the dog and barked but it was definitely play. I was pleased and told him how nervous she normally was and he said his dog was very good with other animals. So I let my dog approach to sniff and as she stretched her head forward slowly the other dog lunged and grabbed at her face. Lexie was fast enough to move but she still got bit on the mouth and yelped and hid behind me and DDJ. Then the guy said he’d only had this dog for 3 days from a rescue centre so didn’t know it would do that ( I wonder why he said it was good…) Lexie recovered quickly though and after a minute or two, kept looking at the other dog but the other dog stood curling her lips at her.

We continued our walk and she was good. She had a few more strokes – she rolled over on her back for a lady in a wheelchair – and all but one asked her to sit first. The one guy stroked her and I didn’t see it coming. One minute he was walking past, the next he was crouching by her. It startled me but she handled it well.

On the return journey, she walked quite well. It’s difficult with the halti as she was trying to get it off a lot of the time but she was less interested in people. I was a bag of nerves as we stood at the traffic lights waiting to cross back towards the supermarket as there were people both sides of us but she just sat. I was impressed and some people passed us in their cars pointing at her and smiling; I felt so proud! It started to rain on the way back so we got a bit wet and I’m not sure if it was because she was getting wet but she wasn’t so feisty with the halti on the way home and as we came into our street she didn’t try to take it off once, nor did she pull! I’m so glad because the last thing I needed today was her playing up I am emotional as it is.

It was at 2pm when we got home, she went to the toilet when we got back and since then all she’s wanted to do is sleep. It wasn’t that long a walk, maybe 3 miles there and back. I’ve had to drag her outside to go to the toilet ever since but she’s only been once and gone back to sleep in the kitchen. She’s very quiet and I don’t know if it’s the walk, or if she picking up on the emotions in the house or maybe she is missing Pepsi. I know she was looking for him all morning and when I’ve taken her out she looks for him and waits looking at the top of the fence for him to come over as he normally would.

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My cat was killed

Posted by --- on Tuesday 2 September, 2008

It was awful. I took DSK to school, DSJ starts tomorrow, DSL was in bed and DFS was waiting to go to his motorbike tuition. The door went and DSJ said that neighbour C wanted DFS. He went out and within minutes rang me to tell me Pepsi had been fataly hit by a car and to bring a blanket to carry him. I was in tears as I looked for something to wrap him in but we have no old blankets anymore and all my old towels have been used for Lexie. I walked to the end of the road towards DFS with neighbours curtains twitching. I was breathing fast not wanting to see what was lying on the path but having to look to make sure it was really him. It was. He was lying on his side and as I walked, DFS said not to look too closely at him due to the amount of facial damage – his eyes were hanging out and his rear end had been driven over. There was more but I didn’t want to hear it.
DFS wrapped him in the only thing I could find – one of my fleecy jackets – and sobbing, I asked to carry him home. I walked up the road with tears streaming down my face, trying to avoid eye contact with neighbours who were now outside. I took him home and held him for a while down the bottom of the garden on my own. He felt heavy which is odd as he didn’t feel like that when he was purring on my lap. Despite his weight I didn’t want to put him down but knew I had to. DDJ came down the garden breaking her heart as DFS had told her what had happened. So I had to pull myself together.

We placed him in the greenhouse until DSK could be at home to help bury him if he wanted to. I dug the grave between the newly planted elder and the hydrangea he liked to lie under so that when it all grows, he will be lying underneath them both. I covered it over to protect it from the rain. Most neighbours have come to tell me how sorry they are. Most of them have fed him at some point! He was such a scrounger; you’d think he’d never been fed! He was also the most skilled hunter I’ve ever seen and even though I hated it (he wore a big bell that didn’t work), it didn’t stop him trying and I’ve seen acrobatic feats perfomed off the garage roof to catch a pigeon in mid-flight and also seen him climb over 60 ft up a tree to try to sneak up on a pigeon – that had watched him climb, probably in amazement.

I can’t see how he was hit. He had crossed the main road for some unusual reason but he was coming back when he was hit, you can tell by what side the impact is and the marks on him. That means that whoever hit him, wasn’t paying attention, was going really fast (not likely with the crossings etc), or didn’t care because I’m sure that you would have noticed him crossing the opposite lane first. I know I would. This is me speculating and trying to make sense of what happened. I suppose it’s possible the he just ran out from behind a parked car and wasn’t hit on the side I think.

I just can’t believe he’s gone.

Edited at 22:51: We buried him tonight. The kids wanted to help but couldn’t do much before they broke down. I held them while DFS finished burying him. We left a space because the kids want to make him something. I’ve found out tonight that the driver could have avoided him. A neighbour saw it all. It was a white van. He could have swerved or braked to avoid him but he didn’t even slow down. Nor did he stop when he’d hit him nor as he went over him but left him in the road for other cars to run over him too. Another neighbour also saw and unsure who’s cat it was, took him off the road and laid him against the wall so he wasn’t further damaged. The poor kids walking to school this morning on their first day back (or even first day ever) must have walked past him and seen him in that state. How can people be so cruel? What right had that driver to take his life like that? I know cats aren’t universally loved but he didn’t need to do that. Pepsi could still be here tonight. We would still have our cat. I wouldn’t have had to listen to my kids sobbing when they went to bed. Half of me wants karma to do its job but I’m not that cruel. I don’t want it to happen to his family. I wouldn’t wish this on his kids.

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one problem after another… barking at people now!

Posted by --- on Tuesday 2 September, 2008

I’ve just come back from her walk and she was awful. Her new “trick” is to bark agressively at anyone walking. I’m not sure what she’d do if they get close as she sounds quite nasty and most people don’t get close. In fact two men crossed the road to avoid her. It’s embarrassing. I don’t know why she’s started doing it. She barked at our neighbours as we left the house but as we share a drive, we had to walk past them, neighbour C was ok, he just walked up and stroked her (she jumped up him) but his partner and two small children walked as far as possible away and she just kept barking at them. The little boy looked terrified. I said he could come and say hello to her, as did his dad but he wouldn’t and can you blame him? I was getting dirty looks off people she was barking at and I’m not surprised. I made her sit, I stood in front of her facing her to block her view and was saying “enough” in a deep gruff voice but she just tries to look around my legs and continues to bark with her hackles rising. She was pulling me all over too. I kept stopping and she is learning a little. The last 15 or so times I stopped she came back to my side (or around the back of me). It was hard though because the cats follow! DFS followed and bought Pepsi back but Whisper just ran away from him and appeared out of a driveway further along our walk. I keep trying to chase them off but they only run a few paces and are back but it drives Lexie crazy!
Back to barking, I know I need to socialise her more but I don’t know how or where. Where can I go where people wont mind a jumping, barking German Shepherd? I’m sure our local Asda wouldn’t appreciate me sitting outside scaring customers! Plus, I’m so rmbarrassed when she barks at people or dogs. I’ve read on forums where people say things like “it needs stopping now” or “I wouldn’t let him/her get away with that” etc but how do you stop it? I know it needs to be nipped in the bud right now, I just need to know how to do it!

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Lexie update

Posted by --- on Monday 1 September, 2008

Things aren’t going too badly at the moment. Yes I’ve had days’ when I’m pulling my hair out but others have been good. Housetraining is the same. I get up to mess though to be fair, it’s getting less and I’m better organised. The gloves are by the door, the mop is set up the night before with clean water etc, and the air freshener is next to the gloves!  Day times are the same in that I’m up and down all the time – 27 times in just over an hour and a half I counted one day – but I don’t get a mess when I’m home! It also depends on the cats. Today the cat has been in the house asleep so Lexie has only asked to go out 4 or 5 times in 7 hours and been every time. Other family members say they have real problems and that the take her out, she stands there and then toilets on the kitchen floor when they come back in – I don’t know what they’re doing different.

I’ve tried the heel work a few times and with better rewards (the liver treats) she is a bit better. I don’t know how well I’m doing though as I’m as new to this as she is. I’m keeping up the sits, downs, examining etc but I struggle with stand. She can’t stay off her backside!

She’s also developing her guarding insticts. I tried to take her for a walk – my new frustration! Trying to get her to walk next to me is a real battle. I do stand still if she pulls but she just stands at the end of the lead too, she doesn’t slacken it in the slightest, she’s not interested in treats at all when we’re out and she always barks at other dogs. I’ve tried walking backwards when she pulls, which works for about 20 seconds, I’ve tried going in the opposite direction and then turning the way I want to go after a few steps (never the same amount) but she is wise to that and just goes around me! I don’t really want to use a halti yet as I really want to walk her without one. I also had to contend with the cats that had decided to follow us on our walk if we walk from home (which I wanted to do as she is scared of the car and I don’t meet people with dogs off lead). This wouldn’t be half so bad if it didn’t drive the dog crazy trying to get to them – I no longer existed for her. So I gave up and bought her back. DFS tried another night and again, the cats followed and are too much for her. Now she’s started barking at people. I don’t know why. It’s happened twice but we haven’t been out much. I suspect (no idea what Im talking about here!) that it’s fear barking? as once was when we had a pair of joggers come up behind us and the other night it was two men walking behind us in the dark. SHe also barked at my nephew who was banging on the glass lounge door (and I know I shouldn’t say it but its easier if he stays away from her as he’s a nightmare and will not do as you ask -which includes not hitting my kids…)

On Friday night it was the first night of the L&DTC classes and I really liked it. I took DSL and DDJ with me expecting it to be on for an hour and it went for more like 3! I thought DFS was at home with Lexie so when others left to get back to their pups I thought I was ok – he was out. Poor girl was on her own all that time and missed toileting and her evening meal as I didn’t get in till gone 10. Back to the club; it seems really good. There were several classes enrolling that evening so there were a lot of people though half of them won’t be in our class. I’d also gone to the wrong venue (!) so when I got to the right one I was late and was a little confused with who was who and what was happening but we caught up. We will be starting with the puppy class this friday aiming for our Kennel club good citizen pet handlers award , then puppy award, leading to bronze, silver and gold. The club also offers classes in agility, flyball, competetive obedience, and heelwork to music. I’m excited but nervous. I asked about going to the obedience show they put on this weekend, I felt a little cheeky as it was my first night and I probably looked over eager but they were great. I went both satyrday and sunday. I wanted to be there early saturday but we had other things to do but DDJ and I went from 3 till 6 and on  sunday i only went to buy a few things. DFS came with me which was nice but had to get back to take DSL back to lancaster (he’s decided to stay home which I’m pleased about as long as he gets motivated!). Watching the comptetition made me more eager to learn to train Lexie but I don’t think I’ll ever be that good. they were there qualifying for crufts – can you imagine me at crufts? lol! I think I’ll stick with going to wednesdays at EGSC but will keep to show training and ask the trainer about other things I can do instead of obedience –  I think doing two obedience classes at the same time will be confusing with different paces and different methods.

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Breadmaking experiments 2

Posted by --- on Monday 1 September, 2008

Quantities as before but added in this order with some changes:

Tepid water (200ml warm, 100ml cold)
half the flour added on top but spread about not domed up (flour at room temp, not experimenting with faulty microwave!),
added the salt now to avoid contact with yeast (spread about on surface),
added 3 tsp bread improver,
Extra added 1 tsp dried milk powder (to combat paleness?),
Added vit C tablet
added remainder of flour
Added 1 1/2 tps Asda Yeast in a small indentation in the top of the flour.

Used setting 2 (2lb loaf)

This one worked out tons better! Not perfect but it was nice and didn’t last very long. The family have said they’d like it to take to work/school so we’re definitely getting somewhere. I’ve been breadmaking for ages but only recently experimenting to see what improvements I can make and also keeping a (b)log. I’ve had lots of successes before but until now, I didn’t remember exactly what I’d done!

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