Shortbread really shouldn’t be this difficult

In preparation for the momentous party that my sister is throwing today (throwing? Like, is she throwing it out the window? Off a cliff?) she has requisitioned approximately 5 billion tonnes of food. The fridge has never been so full, and that’s no exaggeration. I’d have shoved a load of it into the freezer but that’s so full the door barely closes now.

Yesterday I had to fend off a wave of blinis. I barely escaped with my life.

Today, however, the blinis have been vanquished by the simple method of putting them in the oven. Kills everything, that does. So I was left with the task of creating certain dessert options such as lemon shortbread.

FYI: Anything involving butter is tricky when the butter is literally melting in the bowl. At least creaming the butter and sugar was really really easy, I guess. The tricky part was when I wanted to shape the dough-batter into biscuits. Because it’s so …. gooey, it didn’t really want to let go of the surface I tried to roll it on, and no amount of sprinkled flour would make it let go. My neat rectangles became deformed polygons.

My predicament was obvious. The solution? Well, I came up with a solution both ingenious and slightly mad: roll the datter into a cylinder, and then slice the cylinder to make discs.

The snag, of course, was that the bough was so sticky that it just sort of flattened on one side. End result: failure.

It’s in the fridge now. Hopefully by the time I come to actually cut the damn thing it’ll be more willing to listen to reason.

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Momentous Discoveries from the Month of July

This month has been a whirlwind of discovery. I have learnt a great many things, some of which have been very interesting, and some of which have been less so. Tl;dr: I learnt stuff.

1. Attics attract extreme temperatures of air

Basically, a loft bedroom is absolutely brilliant except for about one month of the year. Well, three, I guess. That time of year is summer. Because in the merry old time of year that is summer the temperature in your loft bedroom will reach just under boiling and then rest there, gently, like a leaf floating in the breeze. It will remain at that temperature until you realise that the glass of water you brought upstairs is simmering away. You will give up and go downstairs and it’ll be like walking into a fridge, only obviously you probably shouldn’t do that because fridges are really small. And of course the temperature in your room probably won’t change significantly as a result of you leaving it, but unless you’ve left a thermometer up there it’ll be impossible to say, really.

Heaven help you if there’s an ensuite bathroom and you have a shower. Just give up. Don’t bother. Steam is not your friend, friend. It’s not your friend at all.

2. You actually don’t really need shampoo. Basically.

The basically is there because if you don’t use shampoo you need to scrub your hair a lot because there’s always a really small patch of hair that just goes “but I like being unclean. Your hair will not feel squeaky clean, but it will feel soft and fluffy. If you dry it with a hair dryer (although if you’re going no ‘poo I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if you forwent the hair dryer) BRUSH YOUR HAIR. Seriously, it might get ideas and stick up like a porcupine. But if you brush it before you dry it it stays in the style you brushed it in when it was wet. If you see what I mean. Unless you’re hair wizard, that isn’t going to be what you wanted. I guess?

But, if that doesn’t appeal you can kind of wash it with conditioner and then it’s mostly clean and also conditioned. But you might not even need to?

Er, if you use hair gel I don’t think this will really work for you. Unless you use water-soluble hair gel, I suppose. Does that even exist? Find out for me, internet elves.

3. The same mostly goes for shower gel

I’ve never really liked shower gel, actually. It can never really be persuaded to lather and then you’re just kind of smearing gel onto yourself. It’s not really something that appeals to me, tbh. And of course then you end up smelling like a berry burst or whatever, and then you might as well just give up. Let’s face it, nobody wants to smell like a citrus burst. I would choose to smell of the perfume I spray on myself, not the shower gel that I accidentally got in my eye. God, that really hurts.

Fun fact: Water doesn’t hurt when it goes in your eye. Unless it’s secretly acid, and then you have another problem on your hands. Someone’s replaced your water pipe with an acid pipe. This is a problem.

4. Cooked noodles don’t really work in the fridge.

5. Cold rice and chicken are really really dry, and you’ll probably be more tempted by the barbecue than you were by the packed lunch you made.

Apparently though, there’s always the option of putting mayonnaise in it to make it less dry. I wonder what people do with bento boxes? The internet has been mysteriously silent on the subject, but then my laptop has been muted all day.

You’ll probably still want the burger though. Something about burgers just appeals more than rice.

6. The American medical system is really weird.

I don’t just mean the whole paying for your medical care thing. I mean the thing where they have tv programmes about weird post-mortems. What’s with THAT? It’s kind of like someone went “what’s dramatic? Murder mysteries! What’s more dramatic than tv? Real life! What do you get when you combine the two?” And then nobody stopped it. There is a real legit doctor who gets paid to do post mortems on tv and that’s apparently fine?

??????

7. Your MP3 player will always run out of charge approximately 4/5ths of the way through your journey

That isn’t affected by how long you charge it up for.

Well, that’s it for this month’s fun facts. I hope you learnt something, but if you didn’t that’s probably to be expected. Good luck with your lives.

The Human Condition

I like cleaning. Not because I’m a masochist, but because it means I get half an hour or so of uninterrupted monologuing time. Obviously I try not to do this out loud, because then people would interrupt me to reply, but if I do it in my head I can pretend the perfect person is standing next to me replying with all the right things so I can sound clever. I’m always more coherent in my head.

One of the things I’ve been musing on is the death penalty. First of all, it’s a good thing to think about when you don’t have to do anything complicated like ascend stairs. Secondly, it’s great if you’ve got a really boring thing like glass to clean. Glass is a bit of a wanker to clean.

I digressed again, and I’m sorry.

But the death penalty is something I really don’t understand. I mean, what they’re basically saying is this: Murder is wrong, unless it’s me doing it. The law against killing is really important, unless someone else breaks it first. It’s very much hypocritical, I think.

Not to say that a murderer doesn’t deserve to be punished. I’m not saying we ought to get them all into a big room and throw them a party. But even locking them up has a certain futility to it. “You killed someone? Great! Have a stay in a high-security facility free of charge for the next twenty years! We’ll even throw in a tv.” But then again, I don’t think I could justify locking people up in squalid conditions. Scratch that, I definitely couldn’t justify that.

Obviously it would be better if we could prevent murder. Something like in Minority Report, where you can predict murders and then go at them with a crack team of police officers who’ve got the righteous power of three imprisoned orphans on their side. (Watch the film, it’s great) Except that doesn’t work. So maybe something more along the lines of teaching people that killing is wrong? “Don’t do crime, kids. You lose all your friends, it’s rubbish”. I don’t think all humans are inherently evil, particularly. They’re all just a bit apathetic. Make it more effort to do evil things than it is to do not-evil things, and I bet people will do not-evil things. Or just not do evil things, either works.

The philosophy of Charli, in a nutshell: Humans are lazy as fuck, and probably not evil.

The Perils of Not Eating Enough (apparently)

I would be the first person to admit that sometimes I don’t eat enough. You know how it is, you’re sleeping in late and then you have a shower and by the time you get round to ‘breakfast’ it’s about 2 in the afternoon. Obviously that’s mostly a holiday habit, but it’s astonishingly easy to do. And if you’re doing that in the morning you probably won’t be tired until the next morning so that really messes up the schedule. But generally when I do that everything’s fine and dandy, apart from judgemental looks from people who managed to get up in the morning and went to bed before it became morning. They tend to be more judgemental the more tired you look, so make sure to look as fresh as a spring daisy, or at least as though you might be about to do something more active than fall on the sofa.

I digress.

Recently though I’ve been having problems with my blood sugar despite a) getting up at 10 and b) eating three round meals a day. I don’t know what it is, but at the gentle hour of 5pm most days this week I’ve experienced what can only be described as a crash. Apparently I go very pale, although obviously I could only corroborate that if I’d seen myself in a mirror. Oddly enough, if you haven’t got the energy to do anything other than sway vaguely you’re not massively fussed about looking at mirrors. Other fun symptoms include: paranoia! fatigue! irritability! not realising eating food would be a good idea! apathy! headache! achey neck! I mean, who wouldn’t want it?

I’m a little stumped as to what the solution is though, unless I just go around with a box of snacks and a little sign saying “if I look tired force-feed me chocolate”

Also, on a slightly unrelated note, I’ve just realised my logitech keyboard for my ipad is an American keyboard. Nothing wrong with that particularly, except they’ve got the speech marks and the @ symbol the wrong way round and I keep getting which one I want wrong. c’est la vie, I suppose.

A standard issue train journey, with a twist

So, as I so often do, I had the delight of a train journey to York on Monday. To make a change from my usual starting point of Egham, I ended up going from High Wycombe instead. (I briefly debated going from Marlow and then decided that the tedium would be too much for 8:00 on a Monday morning. There’s no need to make it awful AND boring, is there?) Despite our best efforts, the Handy Cross traffic ensured that we only arrived at the station 40 minutes before the train was due at the station. I was gutted, let me tell you. The stress, the trauma, will I make it? Will I be forced to get the next train, and still make it to the station on time anyway? THE DRAMA. THE TENSION.

I even went so far as to walk from Marylebone to Baker Street, something I’ve never actually done before. Handy hint: it’s about as long as the tube journey, just with a bit more walking and probably less falling over. Unless you have an inner ear problem, in which case you’ll be falling over however you go so you might as well walk and save £1.60. Yeah, I had to use my Oyster card, because my ticket was glitching in all the ticket barriers and I just wanted to make sure I actually got to King’s Cross sometime before Christmas. My suspicion is that there was some problem with the computers on the Underground, because it worked fine for the last ticket barrier at King’s Cross. Weirdly, they had them open for half an hour before they closed them again. ?? There is no sense to this madness.

The train journey started as they so often do, although I was delighted to discover that the seats that had been booked around me weren’t due to be used until York, so I didn’t have to sit next to anyone. Dead chuffed, I was. Well, until I suddenly gained a headache and nausea. Then I was just sort of… moderately pleased. (Turns out I was just thirsty. Who’d have guessed on such a warm summer’s day when I’d spent the morning on stuffy trains?) And of course, that was when something unexpected happened.

An American couple, who I discovered were there after they had been to a wedding in London and were now taking a ‘vacation’ to York, sat down in the seats opposite me. I guess they couldn’t get seats further down the train or something, but they broke the first rule of trains: they talked to me. I managed to scare them off by answering with short sentences and looking generally fatigued, so they went back to looking at the countryside (which looks like America), and comparing our windmills to theirs (ours are shorter, apparently). Still, at least they were happy. Not like the four people sitting across the aisle who never spoke to each other despite being in a big group.

So now, here I am. Yorkshire. It’s actually cold, sort of, except for when it’s being kind of warm. Suffice to say I have no idea how to combat this with clothes so I’m just going to keep both sunscreen and a raincoat handy and hope for the best.