Friday 30 March 2007

bad day

Well, I'm having a delightful morning so far. Absolutely wonderful.

I suppose, I should have prefaced that with a sarcasm alert. I've tried to match off a receipt on the project bank account. Despite me originally asking for the bank account to be set up in accounts receivable, accounts payable and the general ledger on 12th February - and a boffin telling me it had been done - the bank account isn't set up in AR! This is after discovering last week that it hadn't been set up in AP and someone sorting that out. It would have been nice if, in the interest of customer service, the same systems boffin had checked the rest of the items requested. ARRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!

Oh, and add to that a wasted 20 minutes trying to find a form so that I can request the ability to match of payments to suppliers in AP….. It isn't on the intranet. If it is on the network, then I can't access it. You can't gain access without filling in the form and getting it approved (fair enough - I'd expect that). However, you can't fill in the form because there is no way to access it and no guidance about where it is/which form/how to fill it in.

I hope your morning is better than mine!

- Pam

Thursday 29 March 2007

Fighting the Urge

Tomorrow is payday and we've just received our payslips for the month. So I'm fighting down the urge to reconcile my bank account and set up my cheque book for next month (I use the cheque register pages at the front as a cash book). Roll on lunchtime, when I can do both on my own time. I love payday! That's when I work out where all the money goes.

On the plus side, I've made my first contribution to the pension scheme* so now know what my take home pay will be going forwards. I contribute 4.5%; the company pays 6%.

- Pam

* For my American readers, it's a defined contribution scheme similar to a 401k, paid out of gross salary.

Wednesday 28 March 2007

Schadenfreude revisted

In the comments to my Schadenfreude post, John wrote:-

For the record: I'm not the slimmest person in the world either, but I'm working on it. My wife has struggled with her weight all her life, although she's dropped something close to 150 lbs in the past couple of years.

In some of our efforts to lose weight, I've noticed a few things: the more extreme the diet, the more apt I was to rebel against it and secretly scarf down a Krispy Kreme or two on the way home. The more it felt like work the less I was able to put myself into it. You have to find things that fit you so you'll actually do them.

But when you're as big as this woman is, in my mind, about the only thing you can consider is something like gastric bypass surgery to give the person a fighting chance to be able to use sensible diet and exercise to maintain a healthy weight.

If you're so big that you can't leave the house, you could shift to a low calorie, low fat diet with natural foods and whole grains, follow it faithfully, and still be so far behind that you're still pretty much going to die.

I agree whole-heartily with what you've said, John. One of the things I like about Weight Watchers is that it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle. I can eat whatever I want, so long as I balance it out and stay within my points limit for the day. And, from your photos, both you and DW are doing wonderfully well in your battle to beat the bulge. We're all warriors in that fight.

What I'm trying to get my head around is the vehemence of my emotional response to this woman's plight. I feel angry. And I don't understand why. Some of the anger is directed at her husband, but the rest is directed at her.

I don't feel that way when I read about the 34 stone teenager, who features in a BBC documentary. (34 stone = 476lb = 216kg) I feel pity; I feel sorry for her. Ditto the two young men who featured in last night's Real Story on the BBC (sorry no link available yet). All three have undergone gastic surgery (the two guys had gastric bands fitted in the US). If there is a common factor in their obesity, it's that they'd lost the ability to register feeling full. I don't feel angry at them or at their parents.

Nor do I feel angry at a friend who ballooned out to 35 stone (490lb/223kg) when he was stationed overseas places where life revolved around the pub/officers' mess and alcohol. In his case, I can understand the "how". I also applaud his efforts at turning it all around (he's lost over 10 stone so far - that's 140lb).

I guess the reason I'm so angry at that woman is that she's been given life-changing offers of help and either refused them or not taken advantage of them. She spent several months in a very expensive private psychiatric hospital undergoing counselling, a diet and exercise program. OK, the money ran out, but she's refused offers of the same type of care in a public psychiatric hospital. Sure the local psych hospital isn't as glamorous as The Priory, but IT'S THE SAME TYPE OF CARE. What she isn't acknowledging is that she has an eating disorder and (guess what?) eating disorders are psychiatric disorders.

I've run out of time to write any more. Now to quickly post this.

- Pam

Tuesday 27 March 2007

A Show Was Attended

Saturday, my best friend, “A”, and I went to the “Stitch & Craft Show” at Olympia for a girly day out. We had a fantastic time. The show is dedicated to the embroidery arts: most of the stalls sold cross-stitch, crewel work and needlepoint kits/charts. There was little for the knitter.

First up was a goldwork class taught by Sue Hinde. Sue is a mastercraftswoman and a very good teacher. She leads the Rhuddlan Goldwork Group, who exhibited at the show. You can see Sue’s work at, a web-store run by her daughter. We learned several basic techniques: couching gilt wire with “jap” thread on a silk background; stitching wire beads (sorry I’ve forgotten the correct name) to the surface of our work; and outlining using fine “gold” wire thread. I’d show you what I made, but I decided to use it as an insert in my wedding anniversary card in September. So you’ll just have to wait! :o)

Then we wandered over to Jane Waller’s stall. I met Jane at the Knit & Stitch Show at Alexandra Palace last year, when she was promoting her book Knitting Fashions of the 1940’s. At the time, the publishing company was running late with her book so she only had some proofs to show. The book came out in late November and I purchased it at Christmas. If you’re into vintage knitting patterns like me, then it is a fascinating resource.

Jane had decorated her stall with garments from the book and was busy signing copies. She also had a couple of copies of her first book, A Stitch in Time, which was published in the 1970s and contains facsimiles of knitting patterns from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. We got chatting and she told me that, due to a warehouse fire at her publishers, they couldn’t reproduce/reprint A Stitch in Time. The films had burnt in the fire. There were three remaining unsold copies, two of which were decorating her stall. Somehow, and I’m not sure who sold the idea to whom, Jane managed to sell me a copy for £50! It’s wonderful and was worth every penny. Jane’s website is

“A” and I had a good wander around, looked at all the stalls, and both felt drawn to cross-stitch designs by Michael Powell (see Michael was manning his stall, so we chatted to him about how he got into cross stitch. Turns out that he’s a painter. During an exhibition of his paintings, someone mentioned that they’d make great cross-stitch designs, and the rest is history. I purchased the “Mini Greek Island”, but I’m also drawn to his “Greek Window” design. “A” chose the "Pots of Love" design.

An entire gallery was dedicated to the work of the late Jo Verso. Jo was a cross-stitch designer par-excellence, who died in a car accident in 2002. “A” had owned one of Jo’s books, which disappeared in a move. Jo’s publishers, David & Charles, are preparing a 20th anniversary special edition of her first book, Picture It in Cross Stitch. It’s getting added to my wish list.

Our final class was Linen Band Sampler which was presented by the Cross Stitch Guild (I didn’t catch the teacher’s name and it isn’t listed in the program). Again, a well delivered and fun class. Also a much needed sit down. If I ever get around to finishing it, the Sampler will become a bookmark.

Finally, two very happy but footsore stitchers went home.

- Pam

Friday 23 March 2007


Did you happen to catch the news item a couple of weeks ago about the 42 stone / 588lb / 267kg woman? (See:

I read the article and watched the TV coverage with a mixture of emotions: pity, because I do feel sorry for her; anger at her husband, who claims that he isn’t enabling her (but he must be because she’s immobile, so how else is she getting fed?); and frustration that instead of taking responsibility for her condition and doing something to help herself, she’s busy blaming everyone-else. I am trying not to be judgemental and failing badly.

Before I go on, let me state once and for all that I KNOW HOW DIFFICULT IT CAN BE TO LOSE WEIGHT and what it is like to be the fat person in the room. I have been overweight most of my life, not massively obese as an adult, but 30-40lb more than I should be. (As a child, I probably was borderline obese.) However, throughout my adult life, I have accepted responsibility for my weight. Nobody else is responsible for the food I put into my mouth – they don’t put it there. I am also aware that some illnesses can make you fat: hypothyroidism (which I suffer from) and Cushing’s Syndrome to name two.

However, having said all that, at some fundamental level within me I do not understand why this woman has got as fat as she has. Yes, she has been depressed; but there are some very effective anti-depressants on the market which will elevate your mood sufficiently that you can deal with the real cause. And I can’t get my head around her “real cause”. What compels her to eat so much and so often?

She is overeating. She has to be taking in a huge number of calories, just to maintain her current weight. Using a “rule of thumb” calculation for basal metabolic rate of 2 kilocalories* per kilogram of body weight per hour, she must be consuming 12,816 kilocalories per day!

And that’s just to lie still and breathe. Even if you discount her caloric requirements by half to account for a “slow metabolism”, she must still be consuming more than twice the calories of the average male! That is a huge amount of food.

I also do not believe that her husband isn’t her enabler. This is a woman who is too fat to get out of bed without assistance. Her mobility is compromised. If he isn’t her primary carer, then who is? Someone must be feeding her. She can barely move, let alone shop and cook for herself (or go to the bank for cash for the takeaway). My guess is that he’s feeding her a lot of sugar-laden drinks; biscuits/cookies “to keep up your strength” every time she has a cup of tea; fried fish and chips “from the chippie”; takeaway curries glossy with ghee; and packaged ready meals. The typical British pub-grub diet.

He has the key to her losing weight. It’s what he choses to feed her. He could so easily put her on a diet and she would be unable to do anything about it.

- Pam

*That’s right, kilocalories, usually referred to as “Calories” with a capital C.

Thursday 22 March 2007

Office Bureaucracy

Sometimes the efficiency of the drones* at work is really questionable. This morning, as I drove in, I noticed a car in the car park with it's lights on. So I take down it's registration number and hand it to the security guard manning reception. An email has just gone out - "Car reg: AnnnAAA - Lights on". Only 45 minutes after I spoke to reception!

I just hope their battery isn't flat.

- Pam (don't get me started about the IT department!)

* Not everyone is a drone. That title goes to support functions whose jobs are never ending and never changing (switchboard, reception, the post room).

Sunday 11 March 2007

Clothes snobbery

My current two favourite t-shirts are both charity shop finds – one cost £5, the other £2.50. They’re the same beautiful shade of blue; I can’t choose between them. My favourite dressy top is another £5 charity shop bargain; it came complete with a tag showing that it had originally been marked down to £35 in whichever store the previous owner had purchased it. The denim dress that always gets compliments came from a charity shop, so did the sheepskin coat that I wear to the football, my Levi 501s, and my green fleece. Around here, charity shops are a good source of casual clothes; work clothes are more difficult to find.

Most of my work clothes come from joining the 5am queue for the opening of the NEXT sale on December 27th each year. This year’s haul included 4 suits, a velvet jacket, 3 pairs of jeans and two pairs of shoes, all for less than £200. I went a bit shoe mad this year – I picked up three more pairs in Marks & Spencer’s sale for £30.

Amongst my girlfriends, there are very few who know about my charity shop finds and only one who has ever been on a trawl through the shops with me. I have the impression that most wouldn’t understand, so I don’t talk about it. Maybe I’m second guessing them. Why is it my “guilty secret”? It’s the echo of the shame that is attached to charity shop shopping: feeling ashamed because you’re so poor that all you can afford is second-hand clothing.

And yet, as long as it fits me properly, suits my style and is in good condition, I don’t care whether my clothing is pre-loved or brand new. I do care about how much it cost me but only because I don’t have a bottomless money-pit. I’ve never been a label slave; finding something that suits me is far more important. I’m short waisted, big busted and carry most of my excess weight on my abdomen – if I was addicted to, say, Donna Karan, I’d never find anything to wear!

- Pam (currently wearing £3 jeans from Tesco, a £5 charity shop t-shirt, AUD$15 outlet-shop trainers, and her favourite US$30 Old Navy-outlet cardigan)

Friday 9 March 2007

How long does it last?

If you have a look at the products in my bathroom, you’ll notice one constant – everything I use has a date written on it in permanent pen. It’s part of a project I have going to a) discover how long everything lasts and b) make the products last longer the next time.

I started doing this 2 or 3 years ago, when I noticed that my shampoo lasted longer once I’d transferred it to a bottle with a pump top (my solution to too many mornings of dropping a 500ml bottle of shampoo on my foot in the shower as I struggled to remove/replace the lid). But how much longer? So I put a date on the new bottle and waited to find out. The answer was at least twice as long.

The other half of the equation is probably just as important: using dispensers to give a measured dose of product each time. As well as shampoo, I transfer hair conditioner and body lotion to pump top bottles. My cleanser and my make-up base already came that way. If these things last longer, that’s money I can use elsewhere. Here are some results:-

Shampoo – 500ml bottles – 4 months
Hair conditioner – 500ml bottles – 6 months
Body lotion – 400ml bottles – 6 months
Body wash – 500ml bottles – 9 months
Cleanser – 150ml bottles – 3 months at 2 x washes a day
Make-up base – 60ml bottles – 10 months

So how long does your stuff last?

- Pam

NOTE - I water the hair conditioner down by about 40% because it works better that way on my hair, but I don’t doctor the other products.

Thursday 8 March 2007

Of bad days....

Yesterday was my Weight Watchers’ day, so I thought “Great! I’ll go to my meeting, then go home and write up my Blog. It’ll be a good time to reflect on the WonderWoman Project.” How wrong I was.

By the time I got home, I was fighting back tears. Weigh-in was a disaster – between Tuesday morning and my weigh in I put on 2.5lb! I can’t blame the scales at the meeting, either. I’d weighed myself yesterday morning after my shower and I was at least 2lb up. At the time, I put it down to having wet hair and having recently drunk a pint of water (I normally weigh myself before my shower and before I drink anything). Instead, I’m officially up 0.5lb.

It felt like my body was delivering a kick in the teeth. I’d tried so hard. I even worked in ways to accommodate whole milk into my diet. I’ve been tracking my points religiously and working out almost every morning.

I was too dejected to cook dinner. DH was out for the evening, so there was no incentive and no external conscience to chivvy me back into line. Instead, I pigged out on a couple of sausages left over from the morning’s welcome-back-breakfast, had a hot chocolate and a bag of WW cookie bites. My mini-binge put me a grand total of 8.5 points over my allowance.

This morning, I picked myself up; dusted myself off and started all over again. I refuse to let one bad day beat me. I am writing off the deficit one day at a time – it’ll be gone by Sunday.

- Pam

(Note – This morning, the weight had all disappeared again! I have no explanation except possibly salt intake. Dinner on Tuesday contained soy sauce.)

Wednesday 7 March 2007


Almost-BIL arrived back in the UK this morning after an 18 month deployment in Africa. DH picked him up at the airport. To welcome him back, I cooked breakfast and made "proper" coffee (any excuse, really). There was enough for me to bring a flask to work this morning.

Imagine my disappointment when I poured out my cup of longed-for coffee, only to discover that the milk had curdled!

- Pam

Tuesday 6 March 2007

Random Ramblings

I’ve had the lurgy since Sunday: fever, swollen glands, headache, tonsils that feel as if they’re growing barbed wire…..

I took yesterday off and spent most of it asleep. When I was awake, I was too knackered to knit. And it was an effort to read. Felt well enough this morning to go to work. I’ve only been there 6 weeks; felt as if I had to make the effort when, in a job I’d been at longer, I might have taken the extra day off.


The WonderWoman Project has suffered a bit of blow because of my illness. Until Sunday, I’d exercised every day, washed off my makeup and ensured that there were no dirty dishes lurking waiting for me to come home. About the only thing that has made it through the last few days is my diet; with the exception of Saturday night, I’ve stayed within my WW points total.

Staying within my points is a bigger achievement than it sounds; we’ve swapped from our regular skimmed milk to whole milk. My usual half-pint a day has quadrupled in points from 1 to 4. I’m not sure I can cope with it. Swapping yoghurts was OK – some how that’s only increased the points by 1 – but 4 points is a fifth of my basic daily allowance! I have to ask myself whether an experiment based on empirical evidence from the Nurses Health Study is worth the extra stress. How much do I really want to lose weight? How much do I want to get pregnant? Have the researchers discounted everything else that may have affected those women’s hormone levels?


Saturday night, met up with some girlfriends for dinner. We went to Village East in Bermondsey Street, SE1. The place was packed and justifiably so. It’s styled on many of the bars/restaurants I’ve seen in Australia and America, but never here: a proper bar area with a separate restaurant attached. The food was lovely; the menu was a mix of simply prepared seafood dishes and steak. And they do amazing cocktails.

- Pam

Saturday 3 March 2007

Inner Dialogue

Even though it’s Saturday, I couldn’t sleep in this morning. I eventually got out of bed half an hour after my usual time. Staggered to the kitchen. Put proper coffee on to brew (instead of the mid-week instant stuff). And then I spent 10 minutes arguing with myself about whether I should work out this morning.

Goal-driven Self: “You’re up early; you’ve got plenty of time so work out now.”

Lazy Self: “But I want to work on my blog!”

Goal-driven Self: “You can do that after you exercise. It’ll only take 15 minutes.”

Lazy Self: “But it’s Saturday morning!” <> “That’s my lazy time.”

Goal-driven Self: “You committed yourself to weight training on Saturday mornings.”

Lazy Self: <> “Damn conscience.” <>

The workout took about as long as the argument. :o)

- Pam

Friday 2 March 2007

Low-fat Milk Makes Women Less Fertile

This was on the BBC Breakfast new on Wednesday morning:-

For a woman trying to conceive, the best prescription could be eating ice cream every day.
It might play havoc with her diet but it could help her get pregnant, according to a study.
Researchers have found that women who drink whole milk and eat full fat dairy products such as ice cream are more fertile than those who stick to low fat products.

My first thought was, “so where does this leave me?? I don’t even like full-cream milk!”

For those readers who don’t know, I have primary infertility. DH (“dear husband”) and I’ve been trying to conceive for over 4 years; we’ve been through the full barrage of tests, tried several courses of Clomid and the only option left to us is to pay for IVF. I’m 41, so that means we aren’t eligible to even one course of IVF on the NHS. (Of course, developing hypothyroidism in the middle of it all didn’t help.)

BEFORE anyone starts: DH has had the all clear. The problem is with me and it’s probably inherited. My mum tried for 6 heart breaking years to get pregnant before she conceived my eldest sister when she was 43. She thought she was going through the menopause when she discovered she was pregnant with me, 4.5 years later. Instead, she was 4 months pregnant. I was born a couple of months shy of her 48th birthday.

Until a year ago, it never occurred to me that mum had had a problem conceiving – I’d always assumed that, because I knew she’d had a couple of miscarriages between me and Eldest, the problem was maintaining a pregnancy. It wasn’t until I hit my lowest point on the Clomid merry-go-round and cried on the phone to BigSis that I learned otherwise. (NB: BigSis is my foster sister. I’ve known her almost my entire life and claim her as my own. Eldest is actually 6 weeks younger than BigSis.)

So where does this leave me? As I said, I don’t like full-cream milk. And I’m on Weight Watchers and would rather spend the points somewhere-else (on chocolate for example). We use skimmed milk – always have. Also, for part of each month we rely on UHT skimmed milk instead of popping out for a few pints of the fresh stuff; it tastes almost the same. But, I’m not willing to turn my back that might help me conceive.

My solution? Full-fat yoghurt. At 3 points a portion, this is double the “cost” of my usual fat-free variety. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find something nice that isn’t packed full of sugar. Wish me luck!

- Pam

Thursday 1 March 2007


Why is this blog called “Tales from PipneyJane’s Kitchen”? Because I’m a foodie, a damn good cook and because most of it will be written at my kitchen table. To me, the kitchen really is the heart of the home. Our current kitchen is 12 ft by 10 ft (or thereabouts) and in desperate need of renovation, but it’s the focal point of most of the pottering about I do at home. I get some of my best ideas for writing or creating whilst I’m cooking.

Why blog? I’ve always liked to write – I wrote manuals and training documentation for a living for four years – and instead of writing content for someone-else for once, I want to write for myself. Also, blogging appeals to me as a way to enable my friends to keep up with me and my life; I used to write long emails to everyone but now I don’t have the time.

What am I interested in? I’m a knitter; I sew sometimes, crochet occasionally. I love to read, but I commute by cars these days so I don’t read as much. I garden (badly) – I’m good at plant murder. :o) Did I mention food and cooking? And I’m interested in frugal living and investing.

Where did my internet handle come from? “PipneyJane is the pet name I had when I was a child. “PipneyJane from out of Spain.” I think my sister would say.

- Pam