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UK / US Cuts of Beef

Food, cuts of meat

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November 24, 2013 · 7:49 am

13 Steps to a Perfectly Made Bed

I’m not sure I could be bothered will all of this all of the time but it’s good to know as I too love the crisp perfection of hotel beds. It’s also well worth reading the comments after this article for yet more hints from readers.

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Simplifying Life

To my friends here at Gentle Voice / Voix Douce, you can’t have helped but notice that I have been terribly bad at updating and adding new entries here.  Keeping two blogs on the go is not something that I want to continue doing (too much time at the computer = a spreading girth).  So, I’ve decided to call it quits, simplify life and combine everything, once and for all, at the site that I naturally seem inclined to update the most often: AC’s Scrapbook.  This will mean quite a bit of work as I re-do hyperlinks etc., but ultimately I think it will make life very much easier. 

Please take this as a heads up therefore that in the coming days/weeks Gentle Voice, like the Cheshire Cat, will begin to disappear from your screen.  I very much hope that you’ll  stick with me by re-bookmarking me at my main address:  All the goodies (hints, tips, recipes, advice) that should have been happening here will  happen over at AC’s Scrapbook, together with what that site is known for – interesting web finds, photography and my occasional commentary on the world.  I can actually envisage that the Gentle Voice element will happen a whole lot more often, once the pressure to come up with entries at these two sites has been reduced.  Am I making sense? …or just rambling?  (Probably best not to answer that).

Suffice to say – I really hope I’ll see you over at AC’s Scrapbook.  Do say hello when you’re over there, won’t you.

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Holey Laundry?

You may sometimes notice small holes appearing in your newly washed laundry.  If you’re pretty sure that it’s not just that the material is worn and aged anyway then you might like to know the following:

The enzymes in biological washing powders can attack the natural fibres of especially wool and silk, breaking them down.  (There are usually warnings on washing product packaging but they are not always obvious).  For washing these delicate fabrics therefore, use something gentle that you might use for babies’ clothes, like ‘Dreft’.  I personally have found that 100% cotton can be similarly eaten up by the enzymes in biological powders and the solution for me was to change powder (in my case ‘Persil’ biological powder did the damage while other biological powders seemed OK).

Check the instructions of your washing machine for recommended spin speeds.  Too high a spin speed can loosen and damage fibres.   Below is a general chart to show that certain fabrics need certain maximum spin speeds:

             Cottons: 1400 rpm

             Minimum iron: 1200 rpm

             Delicates: 600 rpm

             Woollens: 1200 rpm

             Silks: 400 rpm

             Shirts: 600 rpm

             Denim: 900 rpm

For me, these two are the most obvious culprits but if you’ve tried altering both of the above it is also worth knowing that deodorant has been implicated and may damage clothing – so changing brand again may help.

Then there are also the most obvious reasons – which I’ve left until last here because I assume you’ve already considered them:

Don’t wash delicate fabrics with clothes that have zips, hooks, or wires.  For washing mixed loads where you are concerned about damage in this way, you may find using special laundry bags useful.   These come in a variety of sizes, some large enough to accommodate things like skirts.  Either place the offending article (with the metal fastening) or the delicate articles in a fine mesh laundry bag and this should help to minimise damage.  Under wire bras should, in any case, really be hand washed.

Where is the damage occurring?  If it’s close to the underarms and you wear under wire bras, is it possible that the wire is snagging on the fabric causing wear? 

If it is across the front or back of the material, around waist height, it’s possible that it’s just wear and tear from leaning against kitchen counter tops.   Apparently granite worktops are particularly abrasive to clothing.

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Strong letter to follow


What is wrong with people do you think?  Why do so many ‘Trolls’ exist?  If we met them in the street, would we know that they had some personality disorder?  That they had failed to take their medication that day?  That they were close to a full mental breakdown?  Or do they in fact work in our offices, at the next desk to us?  Fine by day, completely bonkers the moment they get in front of that keyboard at night?  Is it stress, do you think?  The sheer pressure of modern life?  That really they’re apparently normal, coping with life, but inside they’re a seething mass of rage, a maelstrom of mad, disjointed thoughts?  Ready to snap?  Go ‘postal’ if just one more small obstacle gets in their way?  What do you think?…because I’m genuinely intrigued.

I received a series of emails recently via another website that I run – and the person sending them (named ‘Christopher’) screamed and yelled at me in the  !!  LARGEST!  POSSIBLE!   TYPE!  !!  (Yes, it was the usual Troll format – embellished with plenty of emboldening and exclamation marks).  They ‘informed’ me of various inaccuracies in the information on a single page of my site.  Seriously, it was as though I was confronted with a screaming toddler in a terrible tantrum, writhing on my living  room floor.  I toyed with whether to respond at all because if this person is a genuine nutter I really don’t need to be dealing with that right now.  Then I thought that I should afford him the benefit of the doubt and I responded as below (only, as it seemed appropriate, I also did so in the largest possible type):

I acknowledge receipt of your emails.  Do you use some special kind of keyboard that only allows you to type a few words at a time?  I only ask because I wondered why it was necessary to send me a whole series of short notes.

I shall assume that you have some kind of disability or physical impairment and that you are not, in fact, being so rude as to yell at me – hence the very large text of my response here.

If you look again at my site you will see that I clearly state on the ‘Home’ page that it is a hobby site of mine.  It also clearly states that it was last updated in August of 2008.  Maybe I should have put all that in larger type and in capital letters, so that people such as yourself would be able to see and therefore understand that, as a hobby site, I don’t always have the time to keep the information contained therein right up to date.


Yes I did get a response.  Why d’you ask?  I’ve cut and pasted it, ‘as is’  here:

Well, at least you replied, now spend time getting your HOBBY up to date.

Yes I do  have  a disability, thanks you for mocking it!

Angelcel to Christopher:

Christopher  – me too.  Which is why I find it difficult to keep up with my hobby and why I found your emails unnecessarily abrasive in tone.

He’s gone away, for the time being.  Maybe he’s just taking time to re-group and then attack me again.  What I’m hoping, however, is that our little exchange will make him think twice in future before blustering into someone’s home, spitting venom like some kind of Benzedrine puff adder. 

The internet seems to have encouraged this kind of behaviour.  Most of us still don’t resort to yelling and screaming  at one another in the street at the drop of a hat (thank goodness), so the closest equivalent to this is probably nuisance phone calls, which are also, thankfully, a rarity.  Yet the prevalence of  Trolls on the internet seems to be on the increase.  Why?

You’ll have gathered by now that, yes, he annoyed me, but that I’m also a very old-fashioned type of a girl, still fondly holding on to the idea that if we all treat each other as we would like to be treated then the world can and will be a better place.  My husband, on the other hand, who deals with rude numbskulls way too often in everyday business, takes a slightly different approach.  I have to tell you that when I showed him the series of original emails he was quite adamant that if I felt the need to respond at all then the best wording would be: 

Fuck Off.  Strong letter to follow.

His approach does have the merit of simplicity.  Maybe he has a point.

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Here’s an idea

What’s with this weather? What’s with my body? I’m freezing! Where are the curtains I ordered (in September)? I want my curtains so that I can shut out the weather. I want to cocoon myself in a centrally heated, thick (heavily interlined) curtained house. No, hang on. Scratch that. Actually I want to hibernate. Yes, that would be better. Why can’t humans hibernate? Avoid the cold and the damp altogether, avoid S.A.D. syndrome, avoid over-eating starch because it temporarily makes you feel better but leaves you feeling and looking like a little human butterball by the Spring.

Wake me up when it’s Spring, would you?


Photo from the Daily Mail online

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I’m an Honest Scrapper

First of all I really want to say my honest and heartfelt thanks to those people who asked for my password recently, read that post and left words of support. I don’t mind telling you that Mrs Blubber McBlubberton here shed a few tears at your kind words and knowing that I have that support means a great deal to me.

This kind of segues very neatly into the fact that Slamdunks has handed me the Honest Scrap Award, meaning that I should list 10 honest facts about myself:

1. (And relating to what I said above): When I write I tend to ‘speak’ with a free voice. In the real world I’m an introvert who could probably do with extended therapy sessions because when trouble strikes I retreat even further into my shell, instead of doing what I should do – reaching out to others for support.

2. Again relating to my opening paragraph, I cry at the drop of a hat. I can’t help it and I sometimes think it’s almost at the ‘disability’ stage. I cry at the happy and I cry at the sad. The phrase: ‘Stop it or I’ll really give you something to cry about’ was bandied about in my direction more than once in my childhood and could, maybe, go some way to explaining ‘truths’ 1 and 2 here.

3. I’m highly empathic. I can usually tell what people are really feeling, despite their outer veneer, and if they’re troubled and they’re people I care about, I’ll worry. If I really, really care about them I may even end up as described in point 2 above – blubbering again!

4. I’m too concerned with what others think of me. If people don’t like me for some unknown reason, I wish I could say that it’s their tough luck. In reality I worry that I’ve done something wrong and think that maybe I should alter the way I am.

OK let’s get off the psychotherapy session…

5. I found English easy as a subject at school, did well at exams despite sometimes minimal effort and have won prizes for my writing. I once wrote a book – just to prove to myself that I could. Pre stroke I was also a frequent contributor to the ‘Letters’ page of our local paper and gained some notoriety for my punchy text and sharp wit. (Or did I mishear that and they were really saying ‘purely wet’ and ‘sharp twit’).

6. I’ve always been an environmentalist and worked for a period at a conservation trust. Despite this, the modern-day breed of environmentalists (evangelists who have recently converted) tend to irritate me with their single minded and unquestioning thinking that too often translates as demeaning and bullying of those who simply don’t agree with them.

7. I met my husband at school youth club when I was 14 and it was literally a case of ~Wham!~ love at first site. We split for a while after a few years during which time I dated other men, even becoming engaged to another love. I’ve lived with my soul mate for 29 years, been married for 27 and I still adore him. I can’t remember a single argument that we’ve had because I honestly don’t think there have been any. (Schmaltzy, but true).

8. I was never one of those women who swoons at every infant and frequently found OPCs (other people’s children) very annoying. With my own children however, I instantly felt that being a mother was ‘my calling’ and, in truth, I’d die for my girls. My little family means everything to me and I often wish I’d had more children (but bozo here was doing her bit for the planet by only having two).

9. I led a monetarily very privileged childhood but my parents lost it all when I was in my early teens. Having seen and experienced both sides of the coin I know what is truly important in life but I still stand by the phrase that ‘it is easier to be happy and rich than happy and poor.’

10. I have an inquisitive mind and I undoubtedly think too much for my own good. I sometimes think that if I was less aware of the sh*t going on in the world I’d probably be a whole lot happier. On the other hand, people who say they don’t read the news because it depresses them frustrate me. Someone has to be paying attention, and I don’t think it’s either safe or fair to leave that responsibility to ‘someone else’.

Now…handing on the Honest Scrap Award: As in life, I have a relatively small band of internet friends who I’m regularly in touch with and whose blogs are permanent reads, some of whom may already have received this. Forgive me therefore if you’re already an Honest Scrapper and if you’ve done this recently, and yet it seems to have entirely passed me by (because ‘factoid number 11’ would have been that post stroke I have THE most appalling memory).

I’m actually handing this worthy award on to more than 7, ( trusting that fire and brimstone will not rain down on me as a result), because the aforementioned bad memory means that I’m sure at least two of you will have done this already.

In no particular order therefore, I hand the torch to: Carma at CarmaSez, Helen at Feedingfamilyoffiveforfifty, Joanna at FiftyFactor, Natasha at SheLeftOnAMonday, Amanda at Teasingly Diverse, Terri at TerriTerri, Jane at TheyCallMeJane, Unknown Mami and Alicia at YayaStuff Though, seriously…No pressure, no obligation peeps.

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The all singing, all dancing Chattering Monkey

DJ MonkeyWe’re going through our own particular little brand of hell here at home right now and just as I need to rest and recoup at night my brain is fighting me with that ruddy chattering monkey that lives in my head. I’ll get, say, 4 to 5 hours sleep and then my brain pops awake !~ping~! and thoughts, or music, start to tumble around as though I’ve been wide awake and at some social gathering for the last several hours.  Just lately it has been a wholly (or unholy  😉 ) musical awakening.  I’ve abruptly sprung to life for the day to the following:

Monday Night

‘My fingertips are holding onto the cracks in our foundations.  I know that I should let go but I can’t’.   (And repeat).  (And repeat).  (And…    )

Tuesday Night

‘If you like it you should have put a ring on it.  If you like it you should have put a ring on it.  Uh oh oh ohohohoh…  (And repeat).  (And repeat).  (And…    )

Wednesday Night

‘I~i~i~iiii, I need your LSI to give me your love, sex, intelligence, comin’ through with the things you do to me’  (Rinse and repeat).

DJ monkey has a reasonable taste in music,  it’s just that I don’t need to hear it, repeated, over and over, AT 4 IN THE MORNING! 

Why do our brains fight us, when what we need is a little co-operation and a whole load of rest?


Filed under health, Home, modern life, Smile / Humour

Operation Beautiful

Hyer, Martha01Jane at ‘They call me Jane’ today wrote about a wonderful site that I want to share with you here.  It’s called Operation Beautiful and it’s a project that I think every woman should be part of, in fact everyone, and certainly all parents.   The premise is simple: To leave anonymous post-it notes in public places that simply say ‘you are beautiful’ (or very similar) – a personal boost for anyone seeing them, an assurance that they are in fact beautiful despite what they may currently be feeling.  In an extremely brief course of therapy I was told to do something very similar, so according to current thinking this is not a load of hoo-ha, and could actually start to make a difference …and Lord knows, we need to bolster our self -esteem when the messages that constantly surround us in the media seem to do nothing but undermine us.

I have two daughters and maybe because of my own childhood experiences I did everything I could when they were growing up to bolster their feelings of self-worth, to praise them and to tell them how much I love them.  Even so, none of us can help but be influenced by the images of ultra skinny, air brushed models that surround us.

Maybe more insidious are the stories of the perfect women with their perfect lives.  We’ve all come across them (and much though I love Nigella, in many ways, she’s a major culprit in this) – the women who live in some kind of 1950s Utopia where their children are scrubbed clean, well-behaved, fed perfectly nutritious home-prepared dinners, read a story and put to bed (where they stay and not winge at the top of the stairs) at seven o’clock in the evening, before Mummy cooks up something else – something totally spectacular for her and hubby.   Never mind that perfect Mummy has made it her job to make life look  perfectly easy and so is paid a perfectly lovely salary.  And never mind that perfect Mummy may live in a perfectly lovely house, with a husband with perfectly lovely income that can pay for perfectly lovely home help to clear it all up.

No.  Images, TV programmes and magazine articles albound about how easy it all is to look better,  do better, be better.  The fact of the matter is that life is not perfect, we are not perfect and unlike, say 100 years ago, many of us do not have the support of family close by who can take the pressure off us.  We struggle on, doing the best we can, but no doubt constantly feeling that somehow we ‘could do better’.

I also have to say that my experience of other mothers is that we are often our own worst enemies, excellent at psyching each other out.  I once visited a friend’s house and she made it a point to show me her airing cupboard.  (??!)  I soon saw why.  It was filled with perfectly laundered and folded laundry, in perfect little stacks.  I seem to remember that I maybe inappropriately snorted and said that if you were to take a punt on opening my airing cupboard door you’d most certainly be swamped under a stack of tumbling towels and pants.  I subsequently learned that the laundry she was so proud of was farmed out to a professional firm.  Well there you go – It’s easy to be perfect, with help.

Go visit Operation Beautiful ladies.  In fact, I think everyone should visit, because the message is coming through that  boys are increasingly starting to worry about their own body image and I know that despite the good front they put up, grown men also worry that they could do better in our screwed up and over-pressured western society.  I’m sure you guys can come up with your own affirming and appropriate post-it note phrase.

Let’s all fight back against the media.


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Bizarro World

Little girlI feel as though I’ve entered Bizarro World since last Friday.  I ‘retreated to the drawing room’  yesterday (Voix Douce) to post for SIMC because it felt as if the bulk of ‘the house’ had been overrun with rampant beardiness (or at least discussion thereof).  I’m delighted with the attention that my simple question garnered but in truth, the suddenness of it all has also slightly freaked me out.  Our blogs are very much our little space in the ethers and if you’re like me you love welcoming in new visitors, hope that they’ll stay, look forward to getting to know each other, and hopefully become friends and frequent visitors at each other’s ‘houses’.  What happened on Friday was quite overwhelming.  I am, however, reclaiming my space today and if you came here for the party over the weekend and have decided to stay, then welcome, I’m delighted you decided to stick around.  I hope that you’ll introduce yourselves by leaving comments.

So, what else?  Well Friday’s flurry of internet activity also coincided with the dreaded (~duh, duh duuuuhhh~) Medical Matters – which are done and dusted for the time being but this is something that I get myself into a terrible stew about and worry over relentlessly.

Then of course there is the competition thing I’ve been wibbling on about.  Don’t worry, I’m sick of it too.  And therein lies the first of a few lessons.   Firstly, I’m dreadful at self-promotion.  I’m not a natural saleswoman and I don’t feel comfortable at pushing myself into the limelight.  Rather stupidly I suppose, I’d far rather that you magically found me and whatever my product is totally by chance and became instantly enchanted.  I hate that feeling that I’m trying to entice people in, like a peddler in snake-oil.  The whole process has however been a valuable experience.  On the plus side, it’s been interesting for me to see which images have proved popular, and why, but much more than that, I’ve confirmed something about people in my own mind  The vast majority have been kind, helpful and encouraging, and that warms my heart.  A tiny minority however have been slightly odd with me and there is no point in my elucidating any further on that because it focuses too much on what is their problem.  Suffice it to say, I take the attitude that if you don’t much like someone then walk away.  Don’t, for goodness sake, waste valuable energy on false friendship.

(By the way, the results of the comp will be collated today – a fancy way of saying that I’ll write out pieces of paper with all the email and web entries and then pick out the winner)!

Anyway, that’s me.  Elated but also a little tired and punch drunk.  Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.


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