Archive for June 2012

Love

Normally I never ever say anything about my work and the people who I care for. But when this happened, I couldn’t help but want to share it.

Yesterday I was with this couple. He can hardly stand, never mind walk. She suffers from Dementia. She is his arms and legs. He tells her what to do and she does it. Many times she hasn’t got a clue what butter, milk, tea, an electric razor or anything he asks for is, but eventually they’ll get there.

Well, yesterday was his birthday. She, of course, had no idea. With the first round, at 7.30 AM, I checked on them both and congratulated him. I came back to help them get washed and dressed around 9. When both were dressed, i got him into his wheelchair and rolled him into the livingroom. I went back to the bathroom to clean up the mess. As I walked past her in the kitchen I whispered in her ear “It’s your husband’s birthday, you should congratulate him.” The last bit is necessary, as otherwise she wouldn’t have a clue what to do with the info I just gave her. She smiled, went over to him and grabbed his hand. I disapeared into the bathroom, and watched what happened. I saw the most beautiful thing happening.

“Congratulations on your birthday, sweetheart.” She said. He looked up, surprise and happiness sweeped across his face. “Thanks.” He replied. She gave him a big kiss and they hugged several minutes while I disappeared, with tears in my eyes, and cleaned up the bathroom. When I came out, she was in the kitchen and I don’t think she remembered what had happened.

He called me and asked “Did you tell her it’s my birthday?” When I said yes, he grabbed my hand and said “Thank you, that was the best birthday gift I’ve ever had.”

 

Our garden project

Last year, in september we got the keys to our new house. When we came to view it, three times in fact, we knew the garden was overgrown and it hadn’t had much attention over the years. But little did we know what we’d find once we began to clear it…

This is how the garden was when we first came to view the house:

Note the two conifers and the hydrangea on the right. On the left the bushes in the garden of our neighbours are also really overgrown. This picture is from the estate agents.

In February of this year we began to clear to right side of the garden:

 

The hydrangea was a little bit harder to get out, but we managed to do it relatively quickly. It was then that we found 6 tree stumps in the garden. 5 at the far end and one near the fence on the left. At first we thought it would be relatively easy to get them out. Jay worked tirelessly for 3 weeks before he got the first one out:

We then realised it would take ages to get all of them out. But Jay worked on and uncovered the second stump:

A few weeks ago I asked my dad to come over and mow the lawn, as the grass was really, really high and I felt uncomfortable when I saw the neighbours looking at our garden. It was a big mess. My dad came and promised to bring a chainsaw and other tools to help and get the tree stumps out as well. This was how our garden looked before my dad came to help:

The first saturday the mower had decided it needed a vacation and quickly after that the chainsaw decided to follow the mower’s example. So my dad went home and got back the next week:

Jay and my dad even got the railway sleepers out that were hiding under the huge amount of grass:

Notice the strawberry plants on the right and the flowers and berry bushes on the left. I got those from my stepmom.

They took the railway sleepers and the stump that Jay managed to get out to the recycling station and that was about it for that day. The next week, this was last weekend, i had to work. My dad came here early and Jay and he set to work on the remaining 4 stumps (somewhere in the beginning of the year we did get another one out, but it was tiny):

I came home to this, at about 1 pm. After lunch they got out the final stump:

Finally! All stumps removed. The only thing that was left to do was to get all the stuff to the recycling station. Jay and my dad did this yesterday, in the pouring rain. So, now we are left with a huge hole in the back of the garden. The one on the left side (which you can see just above here) is already filled in. There’s only a bit of grass to remove before we can sow new grass. Then Jay’s going to get the tiles that are in 2 neat rown in the middle of the garden and place them as a border at the back. I’ll put the plants I got from my stepmom at the back, so that will be my vegetable patch.

And when we’re ready for it I want to tile the whole grassy area, so we’ll have a great seating area. With lots of pots and hanging baskets and other stuff I’ve seen. I’ll post an update when I’m going to do the vegetable plot.

Oh, and here’s a picture of all those plants I got from my stepmom:

 

Butcher’s Goulash

Yesterday I cooked up my infamous goulash and I posted a pic on Twitter. Today I figured I’d post the recipe for those that are interested in how to make this dish. Note that this isn’t the original recipe, but one I learned when I worked in a butchery, hence the name. This recipe serves 4 people.

Ingredients:

  • 800 grams of pork meat; use what you like, but I love to use pork shoulder for this, as that’s very tender when cooked for quite some time.
  • 3 bell peppers; I tend to use one red, one yellow and one green to get a bit of colour in.
  • 2 big onions.
  • 2 tomatoes
  • chili seasoning mix; in the Netherlands it’s called “stroganoff seasoning” but it’s hard to come by.
  • Butter

Directions:

  • Cut the meat in cubes; about half an inch each.
  • Mix the meat with the seasoning and let it rest for at least 4 hours; the longer the better. I usually season the meat the day before.
  • Put a large deep pan on the stove; I like to use a casserole pan or dutch oven for this, but a deep frying pan with a lid will do just fine.
  • Put the butter in the pan and let it melt til it’s just turning golden.
  • Put the meat into the pan and stir it regularly til it’s brown on all sides.
  • Chop the onion and the bell peppers and place them in a bowl to one side. Do the same with the tomatoes.
  • Put the lid on the pan and stir every 5 minutes or so for the next hour.
  • Then, put in the onion and bell peppers; depending on how you like them you can do this earlier or later. Stir it every once in a while for the next 1 to 2 hours.
  • Half an hour before finishing the dish, put in the tomatoes.
  • Again, keep stirring every few minutes.

If you’re lucky, you won’t have to put in extra stock or anything. If it looks too dry and it’s sticking to the pan, put in a bit of stock. If it’s too watery, you can thicken it with some flour or cornstarch. Note that cornstarch can change the flavour a bit.

Serve with cooked potatoes or, as I do, with rice and have a great meal!

Please tell me if you liked this recipe, or if you need any help. I’d be happy to give you some advice, but note that I’m not the best cook in the world…