Kitchen Wars: GSM vs the Rebel Appliance

Once, in a kitchen not so far far away:

“I think I’ll get a new fridge at the weekend,” Teflon Man announced last weekend.

In fairness, our fridge has become increasingly broken for about 5 years. First the water filter stopped working, then the ice cubes, then the freezer and then the top two shelves of the fridge. The freezer has now started to smell of death! 

Needless to say, TM hasn’t bought a new anything. He hasn’t even been anywhere near Curry’s website. 

As ever I’m disappointed, but not surprised.

The other appliances, however, have clearly overheard the conversation and are standing firm alongside their about-to-be-abandoned comrade and have formed the Rebel Appliance!

First the dishwasher went on strike. We’ve only had it about a month, inherited from my mother-in-law in exchange for buying her a house last year. A month is just long enough to get used to having it; to marvel at the joy of not having a sink perpertually full of dirty dishes and the way the glassware glistens. Except then the dishwasher decided that pumping water at any sort of pressure was a job too far for it now we’re back to washing things by hand.

Dishwasher, you’re an arsehole.

The trouble with hand washing is complicated by the fact that the sink is also blocked somewhere and takes an eternity to drain, thus leaving a gradation of grease around the sink after a session with the pans. This is not due to any solidarity with the fridge though. This has always been the case (either due a bodge of a plumbing job on installation, or possibly a ghost baby).

Sink, though, you are an even bigger arsehole.

The cooker is also on the fridge’s side and has started the long slow road to non-function by degrees. This week the smallest hob stopped working. With no reasoning behind it, it just decided to stop. 

The cooker was also inherited from mother-in-law’s house move, replacing one so old it had guess marks rather gas marks and pans had to be balanced so precisely due to the worn away pan stands they could have joined Cirque de Soleil. 

I loved having a new cooker so much! The ability to know that things are being cooked at the right temperature and with oven doors that actually click shut! (The old ones had to be held closed with a briefcase of bricks!)

At least my old cooker used to ignite! New cooker, you too are an arsehole!

The microwave will also spontaneously set itself on a timer loop, the digital display going crazy of its own accord. At least I can unplug it until it’s needed. But it’s still being an arsehole.

I fear it’s also only a matter of time before the toaster and iron join the ranks of the Rebel Appliance. 

Just as long as the washing machine doesn’t defect I think I can cope though. Although don’t let the appliance alliance know my weak spot, otherwise I’ll be wringing out pants in the bathroom sink by the end of the week and nobody wants that!

I thought household appliances were meant to make life easier. Ours are just further additions to The Shit I Have To Put Up With. 

There are some upsides to a broken fridge though. If the wine won’t stay chilled you just have to drink it all in one go. Is “the fridge made me do it,” an acceptable excuse for alcoholism though?

But never mind, Pixar will hopefully be hot on my heels for a future animation where kitchen appliances get feelings and fight together against being sent to the dump. I hereby claim copyright in the hope that they’ll pay me enough for me to afford a new kitchen with non-rebellious appliances. Which, after all, is probably more likely to happen than TM finally getting round to buying a new fridge!

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Til Death Do Us Part

Teflon Man and I celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary last weekend. Twelve years. It was a beautiful day, but I do often regret not choosing a new kitchen instead.

  
But we wouldn’t have celebrated the installation of a new kitchen with a fancy, child-free trip to London, so there’s that. Flash hotel with petal-scattered bed and free champagne. We downed the champers and swept the petals aside…to watch the Olympics (Tom Daley in teeny speedos is all I’m saying). Then a sublime meal in a posh restaurant followed by cocktails in the fancy-pants hotel bar…then a sleepless night due to indigestion! Ah, the romance!

 

After 12 years marriage, the dark is definitely our friend!
 
Sunday morning, our anniversary proper, we exchanged gifts amid the marshmallow-plump duvet. We’ve only ever done cursory gifts for our anniversary mostly in line with the traditional gift list made up by who-knows-who, but which at least offers desperate partners some sort of direction and reminds others that a gift is to be expected!!! (Apart from our third anniversary where the combination of a 9-day-old Boo and a lack of breastfeeding facilities In town meant that I returned home in tears and without a present for TM. But I had just created his child in my body, so I got away with it.)

Some years are harder than others (Year 4: Fruit – a tip: go for a nice, expensive bottle of wine rather than, say, a bunch of bananas) and with the purchase of a bread tin followed by a kitchen knife possibly TM is incrementally buying me the kitchen I could’ve had all those years ago. But this year was easy: silk. I gave TM a tie (which, it turned out, looked suspiciously similar to the ones worn by the waiters at the posh restaurant. I promise I bought it in advance and didn’t haggle with the maitre’d whilst TM was in the gents.) Luckily for TM, I didn’t present it à la Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

 
TM meanwhile bypassed the option of lingerie (always a good move as he’d only be bound to get the size wrong, which would only lead to upset whether too big – ‘he thinks I’m fat’ – or too small – ‘I am fat and he wishes I was thinner. Or he was too busy eyeing up the sales girl when he bought it.’) Instead he chose a Hermes style silk scarf. The sort that sophisticated, mostly French women pull off effortlessly, whilst the rest of us mortals struggle with complicated Pinterest instructions to have even a clue what to do with it.

  
I don’t even know how to fold it into the required shape before tying it. But it least it was impossible to get the size wrong.

Back home though I had a bit of a panic. Optimistically assuming that we’ll still be together for our 13th anniversary, I realised that we had now ticked off the major fallback gifts for men: cotton, leather, wool, and silk – hankies, wallet, socks and tie. Only cuff links remain (seeing shaving cream and aftershave isn’t an option on the list) and silver isn’t for another thirteen years!!!

Next year is lace. It’s going to be a struggle. The gift-giving sector of the market is struggling here. I did a Google search and it isn’t pretty. My retinas are still recovering!!! Don’t even go there!

  
  

But it gets worse. Either the list-makers knew they were scraping the bottom of the barrel when lacy g-strings for men became a thing (seriously DON’T look!) or by 15 years of marriage we’re meant to know our other halves well enough to go it alone. I know my other half well enough to know this is a recipe for disaster!

(Exhibit A: remember this?)

  
From 2020 (after lace, ivory and crystal) my anniversary presents are doomed!

And then it struck me. Marriage can be murder, only with a longer sentence for a single decision and we’ve essentially chosen our cellmate (even if sometimes we wonder what the hell we were thinking!). 

  
In which case, the natural filler for those gift blanks are surely the murder weapons from Cluedo.

  
What woman wouldn’t be pleased to receive a spanner after say, sixteen years of marriage. It seems appropriate if you’ve come to think of your husband as a bit of a tool. Some seem like appropriate gifts already – the candlestick more so than the lead piping perhaps. 

  
And could it be an incentive to treat your partner with more respect than a second/third decade of marriage might engender naturally? ‘Perhaps I won’t call him a “cockwomble” out loud in case he stabs me with the anniversary dagger.’  (But then I don’t live somewhere where handguns are kept in bedside tables as standard, and actually, in those places where they are, altercations still happen but tend not to end well, so maybe not.)

But it’s at least a direction for suggestions until someone decides ‘luxury kitchen upgrade’ deserves to be on the list (which it totally does!). Traditionally anniversary gifts can already be appropriated as murder weapons…and surely it’s not just coincidence that I have Cell Block Tango on perma-loop in my head when TM is around. Isn’t it then a natural progression of gift ideas?

One warning though: once you’ve collected your full set of household items/murder weapons (plus some fine-bone china as we stick with tradition for 20 years of wedded bliss) just beware of any invitations to stately homes to celebrate. Or grab your candlestick and head to the library – all’s fair in love, war and anniversary gifts after all.

  

A Night Off

Teflon Man had a night out last night. (Is it still dignified to go to a warehouse party as you approach 50? Mind you, is it ever dignified to attend a warehouse party?) Then football today. Needless to say, he was feeling a little worse for wear.

  

But tonight was my turn to go out. So, instead of cooking like some short-order chef to the faddy requirements of the brood, I got myself brushed up (complete with swishy new lob haircut).

Me to TM: So, what are you getting everyone for tea then?

TM (lying on the bed looking morose at the thought of having to do anything more than breathe): What have we got in?

Me: Nothing. I didn’t know what you wanted.

TM: But I’ve just been to Sainsbury’s. [For last-minute Easter eggs. Like they haven’t been in the shops since January. Nope, obviously they have to be bought as the supermarket staff clear the shelves ready for the next seasonal promotion.]

And he collapsed on the bed to snooze (despite Noodles bouncing in close proximity to his head whilst loudly singing the ABC song).

  

Forty minutes later, it’s 7pm and I’m ready to go out. Teflon Man has got as far as surveying the family for meal preferences to be met with resounding ambivalence. (My daily experience then. Not easy second-guessing the unexpressed desires of other people, is it, TM?) This had him back upstairs to do some more lying on the bed.

Meanwhile, downstairs, no one takes the initiative to feed themselves.

  

My friend knocks at the door just as Teflon Man manages to drag his sorry carcass downstairs and out the door for cheap and easy pizzas. Never mind that Boo and Noodles refuse to eat pizza. I turn the oven on for him to preheat so that everyone might get fed before midnight.

  

I’ve no idea how the pizzas turned out. But my meal was delicious

Porcine Body Parts

Is it possible to make a pig’s ear out of a pig’s leg? In Teflon Man’s case, absolutely!

  

Now rumour has it, some people have immaculate, sparkly kitchens with work tops void of anything but tasteful-yet-essential utensils. (Or is that just on Pinterest?) 

  

Not my kitchen.

  

No, not mine either.

  

*Sigh*

Generally speaking though, there still tends to be room for me to cook and plate up amongst the tubs of peanut butter and tins of lunchbox goodies. There is still room for me to do my thing.

Or at least there was.

And then Teflon Man decided he needed to buy a leg of Serrano ham. Lidl was doing a special deal on them and who doesn’t like Serrano ham?

Yes, I like a nice slice of dry-cured ham… But when it comes in pre-sliced packets that fit so neatly in the fridge. Not when it’s a whole pig’s leg – complete with trotter – sat on the worktop in my kitchen!

  

‘Seriously, what are we going to do with that?!’ I asked, not unreasonably, I feel.

‘We can hang it up and slice bits off. It’ll last for ages,’ TM replied.

Those of you who’ve read my blog for a bit can imagine my overjoyed response to the prospect of having a porcine joint hanging in my kitchen for several months. 

My kitchen is NOT some domestic version of Jamie’s Italian! What look great in a traditional charceuterie does NOT translate to the home.

  

Also not my kitchen.

I was even less thrilled when he told me how we only needed to wipe any bits of mould off and keep on eating it.

Considering how long the Independence Day mango hung around our kitchen before being binned I was increasingly concerned.

By the time he was showing me slicing methods on YouTube I was also pretty much convinced that there would be at least one trip to A&E in our future, quite possibly with severed fingers on ice.

  

‘It’s ok. My mum’s got a spare holder and knife for Serrano ham at home,’ he said. So, I put up with the damn leg on my worktop for a fortnight before the logistics could be sorted for its delivery. She delivered it on Saturday and Teflon Man set about its construction.

  

Experience has taught me to stay out of the way when Teflon Man is doing anything practical. There was a lot of banging at one point…and quite a few expletives.

Once it had all quietened down I ventured into the kitchen. There was no guarantee that Teflon Man would still be breathing, after all. 

‘How’s it going?’ I tentatively asked as he wrestled with a screw and the main board. 

He’d clearly not got very far.

‘Fucking piece of shit. It keeps splitting and there’s no instructions and this fucking screw doesn’t fit…’

He demonstrated how the screw was clearly too long for the thickness of the board so that the holder for the ham would never fix tightly. Plus the hole drilled for the screw wasn’t deep enough and had been done on the skwink.

It was making IKEA flat pack look like the king of all product design.

‘And the banging?’

‘Well, there’s a drawer and I didn’t know which way it went up, so I tried it this way [patently upside down] and it got stuck. So I had to hammer it out. And it split.’

‘But what made you think you had to put it in upside down. It’s obviously a drawer for holding knives. If you put it in upside down incredibly sharp knives are going to fall out, which doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.’

Seriously, this man has a degree. He has a job that requires a substantial amount of intelligence. And yet…

I took Boo to dancing and went shopping.

When I got back the ham was still sat on the kitchen worktop, rather than in its holster.

‘The board’s in the bin,’ Teflon Man dead panned.

And thus the ham is still sat on the worktop. The packaging had been opened slightly however as Teflon Man attempted to use the knife. I sliced a bit off.

It tasted disgusting!

And thus Teflon Man has indeed managed to make a pig’s ear out of its leg. 

How long I’ll have to put up with the porcine disaster for is anyone’s guess too. *Sigh*

A Tale of Two Colds

I woke up on Saturday morning feeling bleugh. A fuzzy taste in my mouth, a nose of acidic snot and eyes weighed down against the world. Like I said, bleugh.



Noodles had had a streaming cold for the past few days too mind, so it was hardly surprising. Not that it had stopped him. He’d still been as Tigger-esque as ever, bouncing on any available flat springy surface and also my sadly not flat but definitely springy stomach. And when I’d whispered to Boo that I was going to let him have a day off from nursery he sat bolt upright in bed and then attached himself like my shadow wailing at the thought of missing out until I had very definitely taken him to nursery. (And to think they suggested he might not be able to hear so well because he has a propensity for waxy ears! No. More like he has the early onset of man-hearing whereby he only hears what he wants to. His poor future wife.)

But, anyway, funnily enough, cuddling up to and wiping down a child covered in contagious bodily fluids had rendered me poorly too. I had very definitely lost any urge to bounce however and was relieved when Boo’s dance classes were cancelled. Instead I cleaned the house and then cleaned myself and had a friend and her kids round for a play date.

The only concession I made for my cold was bailing out of a birthday party. I so badly wanted to go, but my body just wasn’t up for it.



Unfortunately, around the same time I also got a text from Teflon Man. He’d been out on a football jaunt all day, but was feeling less than brilliant himself:



Hmm. Today was clearly going to be interesting: Man cold vs Mum cold.

It seems that kids have no respect for either. First thing Boo had us up for a game of Treasure Hunt. I’m not sure what was harder, chasing around the house trying to fathom the cryptic clues of a 7-year-old’s mind or making them up myself. Still, Teflon Man was dragged into it too and was clearly suffering. So it didn’t really please him when the game had mostly blown over by the time he came up with his own clues.

From then on he pretty much took to bed. Facebook browsing was obviously less taxing than spending time with the kids or visiting his mum.

Meanwhile, I did three rounds of washing and went into town to run errands (ok, I got some refunds on some clothes I’d bought in haste and instantly regretted, got a FREE t-shirt in Monsoon and a fiver off my mascara in Debenhams – you’ve got to love a reward card!) and did the food shop. I prepped all the bags for the week (work, school, swimming kit, PE kit, Brownie uniform) and packed Boo’s lunch for the morning. I cooked a roast dinner, albeit a parred down one because TM wasn’t up for a big meal, poor love. I oversaw Boo’s homework and got her bathed. (I had less luck with Noodles who refused to get clean, but I didn’t have the energy to negotiate/cajole/fight tonight). I got them to clean their teeth and eventually settle down (after a mass of fidgets and flailing from Noodles).

All day I flicked mental v-signs at Teflon Man for getting away with sitting on his backside suffering.

‘Oh, I feel rubbish,’ he wailed at one point. ‘But you don’t seem as bad as me.’

‘No, that’s because I popped a Sudofed and slathered myself in Vicks last night.’

(And because I had no choice but to just crack on. It’s a cold, after all – it’s not Ebola.)



At which point he pinched one of my Sudofed…and then went back to bed. Which seemed unfair. If you’re going to pinch my drugs then at least also get off your arse. Surely it’s just rude to have your cake and eat it?

Heaven only knows how he’ll fare tomorrow. I’m going to put my money on a late get-up and minimal input. So I guess I’ll be going the school run, putting in a full day at work, going to Boo’s parents evening and sorting out the evening meal.

And to think it’s International Women’s Day! How far we’ve come: so women can now work  BOTH in the home AND out of it…which just seems to let the men off the hook. I’m not quite sure that that was the plan.

Still, at least we now have the opportunity to earn the cash to buy the Sudofed. I suppose it’s progress of sorts.

Lightbulb!

Teflon Man had a lightbulb moment earlier, after yet another game of call centre tennis. In a move to cut off the TalkTalk muppets he decided to sign up to BT instead. Hopefully a wise move. BT said he needed a code. TalkTalk said they had no record of him so couldn’t give one to him. I feared we’d never have Internet again. BT said the code they needed seemed to be held by AOL (who we switched from to TalkTalk). They did indeed have our code. Hoorah! We should have it within five days! (I swear Peter Jackson has made trilogies out of less!)

And then it struck Teflon Man! If AOL have our code they also have our account and it must still be active! One old router dug out and BINGO!

Possibly the happiest the Gluestick family has been en masse ever!

I anticipate the handover will ultimately go disastrously wrong and we could be cut off again at any time.

But at least it means we can stop having to participate in family fun, such as…

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…invading castles…

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…taking chilly walks out to sea…

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…jumping up and down in muddy puddles…

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…and Gruffalo hunting.

Which is probably just as well because Noodles managed to trash every single pair of footwear he owned!

Now we can do it on our terms. Well, at least until BT messes up too.

Worst. Valentine’s. Ever.

So, how’s your Valentine’s Day going? Surrounded by roses and chocolates? Breakfast in bed? Dinner plans and the kids staying at Grandma’s?

Or do you just want to punch all the gooey-eyed couples out there in the mouth with all their hand-holding and canoodling and general getting-in-the-way-ness?

Can you guess which side of the fence the Gluestick family falls on?

Put it this way: football is more important than togetherness (even with Boo away at her first Brownie sleepover) and thus Teflon Man is currently watching his home team lose at Bolton. And I’m guessing my sister’s managed to not get a Valentine’s Day proposal again as her boyfriend is with Teflon Man.

I really should get today’s paper to check out romance’s obituary.

But this is not the worst Valentine’s Day ever. Not even close. Nor were the ones where I felt like the only person not to get a card. Or the one where I did but my secret admirer was truly grim.

Nope the worst Valentine’s took place 20 years ago. I’d had the twins the day before. I was facing life as a single mum.

I felt as though my entire world was about to fall out of my hoo-ha, had a stomach made of blamange…with a damn great black lie down the middle of it (WTF is that about?!)…and a bazillion hormones taking me on the greatest emotional roller coaster of my life. My pyjama bottoms were blood-stained, I’d spilt tea down my only jumper. I looked a hot mess and felt like one too.

Meanwhile, on the communal maternity ward I was surrounded not just by happy couples sharing their loved-up joy, but by happy new über loved-up families. They all gazed at each other with utter adoration. (And, to be honest, fair enough; those first new baby/new family days are precious. And besides, you can bet your arse a few nights later, once the sleep deprivation had kicked in and the parental experience had become all too real a fair share of them would have been squabbling over nappies and crying in the dark.) But on that day, with cubicles of goo-goo parents and red roses on top of baby congratulations flowers, it was your usual Valentine’s hell squared!

Meanwhile, several corridors and two flights of stairs away, the twins lay in the Neonatal unit, with tubes up their teeny tiny noses, connected to breathing monitors that would be set off when they pooed, tiny-size baby nappies that still reached their armpits and with Indy laid out under a UV lamp to help her jaundice. I didn’t even have my babies at hand to a) distract from the happy families and b) help get my head around the life-shift that had just happened to me.

I think I cried a river that day. And I couldn’t even escape to the store for the self-pity indulgence of ice cream and trashy magazines. (Because nothing puts things in perspective more than the failings of the rich, beautiful and famous.) Hospital food and Bounty pack pamphlets on cot death just didn’t cut it the same way.

So, yeah, crappy Valentine’s Days don’t even come close. Give me a day of ‘meh’ any February 14th. Personally I’m looking forward to ordering a pizza to devour entirely by myself later and then reading the last half of my book with no one complaining about the glow from the Kindle at 2am.

The only downside about Teflon Man being away today is that there was no reason to buy him the absolutely MOST PERFECT Valentine’s card for him:

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I’m sure he still knows the sentiment.

Can you bring me out of my Valentine fug and share your Day of Love stories? Or does company line misery; do you have a worst Valentine tale you’d like to share?