Thursday 30 July 2015

Adding pictures and links to your blog, menu update and welcome

First of all, welcome to Tania from Australia via here. I have updated our menu page from last week. Didn't use any meat at all!

Where has summer gone? Tonight and tomorrow night are going to be chilly enough to warrant me putting some fleece on my tomatoes.

Anyhow, back to this tutorial. I know that for some of you, this is teaching you how to suck eggs. People new to blogland though, can struggle with it all.

First, if you have the capability to do so, use a photographic programme such as Elements to resize your pictures. 15cm x 10cm at 72 pixels gives very good results on your blog and also helps keep down the space used on your Google Photo account (which is part of your blog).

It used to be Picasa (probably still is) but when you now save pictures, as part of downloading your blog for safety, it refers to them as Google Photo's!

Once/if you have been able to do the above to your photographs, I then keep them on my desktop, as for me, I find it easier to locate them.

Okay, here we go.

When you come to the part on your post where you want to insert a picture, put your flashing cursor in the right place. Then click on the icon above (second from the left on the below picture):
It will bring you to this screen: - again, this is a screen shot hence the blurring but you can see what you need to!
Upload is usually in bold as most of the time, you are uploading from your computer. Click on the Choose files. Mine then goes to my desktop where I select what to upload. Click on the picture you want to upload and the screen will now look like this:
Click on the picture (to highlight it in blue) then press Add selected and it should appear where you want it.

Okay - now to add a link with a short name!

Again, you are writing your post, but this time, you want to add a Link such as a web page you might be referring to in your post. Or you might want to refer to another blog but don't know how to keep the link small. Make sure you have that web page or blog page on another tab otherwise if you make a mistake in copying it you will have to go look for it again!

Firstly, copy the address part of the page, right at the top of the page you are interested in:

Get to the part of your post where you want to insert a link. Click on the Link bit above, which looks like this:

You will get a screen like this:
Where it says Which URL should this link go to?, paste the address of the web/blog page in the box beneath it:
Now, in the box that says Text to display, you will notice it is a long link. Highlight this link:
Then type in whatever you wish. It could be here or link or the name of the blog you are referring to. Here I have linked to BBC Weather for London. I don't however want all that in my post. I have highlighted it and changed it to here:
I always test the link. Click on Test this link in blue. It will open up a new window to show where you are linking it to. If it doesn't work properly, you might have missed a bit of the address off when copying it from the web site. Don't worry, just start again. When it is working properly, close the test window.

Now, back to your screen above, press OK on your screen at the bottom and the link should appear in your post where you want it. I have left this link live so you can check it works!

BBC Weather London - here

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Living our simple spanner life

Trying to put your finger on what simple and or frugal living means is very difficult as it means different things to different people. I checked what such a simple statement means before starting this post, most of which is not how we live. Instead, I will try to explain our simple life, well, as much as we understand it ourselves and how most of the time, we avoid/deal with the spanners that life throws at us!

Living on one persons' wage or in our case, pension, determines how we live. Some have said it is boring, monotonous, 'going without' and words to that effect. We don't subscribe to any of that nonsense!

Often life will throw one (or several) spanners into the works. You can either deal with them or be an ostrich and ignore them. Ignoring is not a real option but many people seem to do just that.

As I have said before in a post, it is about mind set. All our married life we have lived reasonably simply. This was our first house although these photographs are from its sale 2 years ago (we left it nearly 32 years ago - what a change, especially the back:
The back:
The undercover bit on the left is where DB below is making his piece of furniture. What an awful difference this is. When we left it had a nice shed, a 10' x 8' Cedar greenhouse, was full of plants:(
We didn't 'go without' as we were both working. We didn't overspend either. We saved (although looking back, not as much as we should have). DB was often to be found making us furniture from scratch in the early days:
He was making this piece of furniture to house his music equipment - hi fi systems which were huge in those days, plus his records (vinyl).

I cooked from scratch although I hadn't learnt how to make bread at that stage. We started our first vegetable garden in the back quarter of the lawn, despite neighbours telling us the soil wouldn't support it - very sandy and dry - say what!:

I think we were only there a couple of years before we got moved, a shame as we loved that house!

We bought only what we determined we needed and no more. Married to someone whose job moved them around the country and Europe isn't always easy. You don't feel completely settled, never knowing how long you will have your job etc. Also living in a foreign country can be quite alienating.

Becoming internalized and ignoring it all, staying in, letting your fears get a grip of your life takes hard work to overcome but we did it. I even tried a few jobs which was difficult as they on the whole didn't speak English and I didn't speak their language but we somehow managed.

Anyhow we adjusted like you do. When life threw a spanner at us, for the most part, we caught it, spit in its eye, adjusted and carried on. I wish the internet had been around then, how much easier it would have been to just go on-line and read up how to do things, chat to people, find help etc.

It will now be quite a few years before I get my pension as they have moved the goal posts. I have also found out that despite being fully paid up with National Insurance contributions, I now have to find the money to pay another 5 years worth if I wish to get my full pension. That my friends, is a spanner and a half:)

I can't go back to work (nor do I wish to), as I had to stop in the first place with a serious stress-related illness that would have become dire if I had carried on.

So we laid that particular spanner to rest and now we cook, bake, garden, make adjustments and savings in all areas of our life. Where it is practical, healthier and cheaper to do so, I will make household, toiletry and soon hopefully, skincare products etc. We are careful with our money, fuel, water. We have savings because we are so careful.

However, that does not mean we are constantly going without. Team Dc. adjusts, manages, copes, after all, what is the alternative?

We have managed, for now, to bring our entire food and toiletry monthly spending down from £160 to £120 per month for the two of us. Our spending for this month is £114.72.

Do we feel we are going without? Not one jot. Do we panic about the future? No, as we don't yet know what spanners are coming our way. Anyway, just because a spanner is heading in your direction doesn't mean to say it will hit you. If it does, it might just bruise rather than kill you.

Then again, it might just miss altogether, how wonderful would that be!

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Simple Liquid Soap

Welcome to Jules via here. Also Annie as I can't remember if I welcomed you!

Now that I have tried and settled on some pure natural shampoo and conditioner. I have turned my attention to liquid soap. I love bar soap but dirt quickly settles in cracks and it just looks horrible.

I already make my own liquid laundry product, so how hard can it be?

I don't make my own soap at the moment, it might be something I get into eventually but for now, I have nearly run out of bathroom liquid soap. You can of course use any soap but I am going for SLS free. I also use separate graters, jugs, spoons and pans for soap, don't fancy any soap tasting meals. Anyhow, here goes.

Make sure you have tested your chosen soap the day before, to check if you are okay to use it on your skin, especially if you are going to use it on your face!

Grate your soap until you have a loose (not packed) amount, measuring1 cup:

Put the soap into a glass jug and top up to 3/4 pint with boiling water. Pour into a small saucepan:
Gently heat, stirring to melt this if you see any:
Not sure what it is, probably glycerine but I prefer to melt and mix it in. Once melted, pour through a sieve into your chosen temporarycontainer and leave to solidify - usually 1 - 2 hours or so:
If it fails to solidify, give it a good stir and leave again. Use a stick blender to turn it into a thick liquid:

A little thick so I added another 1/2 - 3/4 cup of water and blended it in and it felt correct. Don't leave it too thick as it may continue thickening and bung up your pump tube:
It should be the consistency of silky, slightly runny mucus (sorry, no other way to describe it).

It is at this stage that you can add aromatherapy oil should you wish. I prefer not to add it to the soap but rather the container (5 - 10 drops should do).  That way, when you refill, you can add a different oil! AGAIN, TEST YOUR SKIN FOR ANY OILS YOU ARE USING.

Use a funnel to pour it into your chosen pump action container:
You now have liquid soap:
So then, how does it compare to other liquid soap. Not so foamy for a start but then we learnt to wash our hands and faces differently. Try starting dry hands. Pump 2 - 3 squirts onto your hands. Rub around, add a smidgen of water if you need to, put on your face if using for that as well as your hands, then rinse thoroughly. If you wet your hands first, and you have made it too thin, it has a tendency to run off before you can use it:)

However, it does vary from batch to batch. This second lot has not been made so runny and stays on the hands better!

Price difference, well that rather depends on the cost of your soap to begin with. First time making, we used a bar of soap priced at £2.99 and we had enough per 1/2 bar session for 2 x 250 ml bottles, so 1 litre of hand wash from one bar of soap, making it 75p per bottle.

Obviously you can get liquid soap for less than that but what is in it? I am re-using a hand wash that originally retailed at £4.50 (a Christmas gift). These are the ingredients it had in it:
The soap I used had a lot less rubbish but still a few potentially 'harmful' ingredients so I shall not use that brand again. Instead I shall buy from a pure soap company where I know what I am getting!

Ignorance is such bliss until you realise your mistake. You live and learn my friends, you live and learn!

 Don't make up too much at a time as there are no preservatives in it.

Monday 27 July 2015

Holkham Hall Country Fair and a troll rant!

First of all, welcome to Jennifer and Greg Matthews via Bloglovin.

Before I chat about the above, can I just mention the ne'er do wells (trolls) who frequent certain social media sites namely those that begin with F and T!

I was shocked and disgusted to recently read that Andy Murray was berated (mainly by males) for daring to cry with relief and exhaustion, after winning his match in the Davis Cup. The outcome of which helped GB beat France and get us into the semi-finals. What sort of parents are bringing up these so called men?

We brought our son up to believe crying wasn't for sissy's. He rarely cries but should the need arise, he knows he can. Well done DS and Andy, for showing your emotions, more power to your collective elbows!

Rant over, back to Holkham, which we visited last Saturday. Herewith some photographs:
A whole row of Series I Land Rovers, the front one was a hearse!
It was blowing a gale so I took a photograph of this lovely herb place which we will visit in comfort.
Older cars
Ponies and their racers from various counties of England (not the UK before anyone comments!)

Norfolk triumphed in the end!
Above and below was a fantastic German Salami stall, who were selling 7 different salami for the grand price of £10 (normal retail price would be £24.50!) They have now been divided and frozen as informed.

I love watching dogs scurry, most of whom had no idea what they were doing but were enjoying themselves none the less. The young Fox Red Labrador below had some idea.
The Norfolk/Suffolk Police were there with their horses and various cars and vans.
Below is what we bought - the salami:
 Some very hot cheese - I didn't taste it but DB did and said it was good:)
Finally some cheese for a local friend's birthday.
It was difficult to decide which day to visit as Friday night into Saturday morning was very wet and windy. As you can see by the photographs though, the sun did come out. Sunday was only going to be dry in the morning so Saturday it was. We took a packed lunch and drinks but treated ourselves to some hot coffee as it was initially so cold.

Friday 24 July 2015

Saving your blog posts, comments and pictures

Welcome to Sharon Deasy via Bloglovin.

I thought I would do a new tutorial on how to back up your blog, comments and all pictures you have put on it. I do check my tutorials and noticed that my how to was out of date!

You really do need to know how to do this as some blogger's have lost years of their journey through life by someone either stealing their blog domain name (non-blogger blog's I believe)  or some major blip where it has just disappeared, never to be seen again. I try to do this every month just in case. That way, I have only lost the last month of it.

Go to your blog home page - the one that shows the links to blog's you read, where your followers appear etc. At the top right, you will find your name and/or picture such as this:
Click on the little downward facing arrow where this screen will appear:
Yours will show your blog email,  I have painted mine out! Press Account, you will arrive here:

 In the middle column, press Account overview, you will arrive at Account overview so scroll down slightly where you should find this bit:
Click on the bit that says Create Archive. The next screen should look like this:
This is a screen shot so some is missing from the bottom and accounts for its fuzziness! Anyhow, note the green tick boxes. At the top of those where it says select none, press on that. The screen will now look empty so click on Blogger and Google Photo's - like this:

Note before doing so you can also save other Google content but the more you select to save the longer it takes to download.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Next. You should see this screen which states you have selected 2 products:
Press the Create archive button at the bottom:
It will initially look like the above but once it starts to create the archive will look like this:
Wait until it finishes. When it has created the archive, this screen will appear:
Press the Download button on the right (NOT THE MANAGE ARCHIVE ONE IN BLUE). You will come to this screen:
Click OK.

Now, you need to know where your computer stores downloads. Double click on the downloads folder once you find it, look for this take out image or name (on Mac it will be at the top):

If you then click it twice (slowly else it opens), it becomes highlighted, then rename it so you know what it is:
Now, you can either leave it in there or do as I prefer and copy it into another folder for safe keeping. Once copied, you can delete the version in your downloads. It is up to you.

Hope you find this useful. Have a lovely weekend everyone.