Tag Archives: cheap

How to unblock a toilet…with a mop

Okay, this is not one of my usual how-to posts, but I’m so proud of myself I just had to crow a little. 😀

Yes, the toilet in my late father’s area was blocked, and no, I didn’t invent the mop method. A friendly plumber told me how to fix a simple blockage years ago, but this is the first time I’ve actually had to put the theory to the test…and it works!

Basically what you need is a soft mop like this:

or like one of these:

A bucket and a pair of rubber gloves is also advisable.

Then you shove the head of the mop into the toilet, as far down as you can and kind of…pump it?

When you pull the mop head out, the level of water in the toilet will be much lower than its ‘normal’ level.

Flush, and the water should drain normally again.

I wish I could tell you why this works, but I can’t remember what that very nice plumber told me. If by some weird chance you read this, Mr Nice Plumber, please accept my heartfelt thanks, and that of my purse. 😀

The very small downside to using this method is that you have to sacrifice a mop to the toilet. The one I used is about to go under the house where it will stay until the next blockage. As for me, I’m going to be whistling happily as I go to the supermarket to buy a new mop.

$20 vs $100? No contest.

Cheers from a very happy Meeka. 🙂


$249 3D printer for kids?!?

You know I love tech, and you know I’ve loved the idea of 3D printers for a long time now. In fact, a future-tech version of the 3D printer appeared in one of the Innerscape books [where Miira prints herself a new outfit as part of a ‘disguise’]. But this?

You can find the full article, including a really good video review, here:

https://sv3dprinter.com/2019/06/23/3d-printing-news-alerttoybox-the-3d-printer-just-for-kid/

This shorter video [just over 1 minute] is an advertising trailer:

Honestly? If I had a grand child, I’d be thinking very seriously of buying this for their birthday, just so I could have a play with it! I particularly like the fact that kids can create their own designs instead of simply using the stock models.

As scary as it may seem, this is the future of tech, and it’s coming at the speed of sound.

cheers

Meeks


Canva for ebook covers

Never heard of Canva? Don’t worry, neither had I until this morning. Canva is a [free-ish] online graphics program? facility? that allows us cash-strapped writers to design our own ebook covers. It also allows us to do a lot of other things, but I only needed an ebook cover so that’s what I played with.

After doing the 2 minute tutorial, I spent about an hour playing with the graphics and, I have to say, I am very impressed. The image below is a draft of the cover I came up with for Innerscape:

innerscape cover draft

The cross hatching is part of the watermark [along with the name CANVA in the middle of the image]. The reason for the watermark is that I chose 2 non-free images for the cover – the landscape and the picture frame. Each image costs $1 – yes, that was not a typo, just one solitary dollar – for both personal and commercial use. So all up, my costs would have been $2.

I was very tempted to just pay my money and be done with it, but they have a special deal whereby you can buy 11 images for ten dollars, and I thought ‘oh, parts 3 & 4, and 5 & 6….’.

-cough-

Anyway, a bit about the design. The final, ‘real’ cover will have a different graphic on it, but for the moment I like the idea of mirror images and worlds within worlds and the visual tension of seeing the title as a not-so-subtle price tag. Paradise is only for the rich, after all.

Of course that could all be a bit of BS – there is a reason why I’m a writer not a graphics designer. -sigh-

Once you are ready to download your newly created image/cover, you are given the option of either paying for any non-free images you have used, or downloading a draft. I haven’t tried the paid option but assume it is the same as the draft one – you get to choose between downloading a 70 DPI resolution image or a 300 DPI pdf file.

DPI stands for dots per inch so 70 DPI would give you a reasonable resolution [as in my cover image] but nothing great. The good thing about it is that it doesn’t chew up your bandwidth. My image weighs in at about 75 kb, which is next to nothing. When I downloaded the 300 DPI pdf however, it took quite a while to download and was HUGE. Well over a megabyte of data.

I would use the 300 DPI for actual print covers but not for ebook covers. Finding the right balance for the cover image will require a bit of trial and error so that it looks good but doesn’t take half an hour to download.

Oh and one last thing. I converted the 300 DPI pdf file to a more reasonably sized jpg file but discovered that my version of the software didn’t include the fonts used by CANVA. My app substituted similar fonts but you can see that they do not look quite right. Next time I’ll either use fonts that I know I have, or I won’t mess with the image. 🙂

And for those who might like to play with CANVA themselves, here’s the link to a great Indies Unlimited tutorial on how to use it.

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2015/05/11/canva-for-free-ebook-covers-and-more/

Comments? Please feel free to let rip. I haven’t paid for anything so you’re not going to hurt my feelings or my wallet. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Two pot dinner ready to eat in 45 minutes!

I watched an episode of Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals just recently and I was not impressed. The food looked sensational and I’m sure it tasted wonderful too but 30 minutes? Right. For a master chef with everything prepared and ready to go, yes 30 minutes is doable but for you and me? I think not.  And dare I say it? I’d hate to have to face all the cleaning up as well.

So for this first, quick meal recipe I’m going to give you a two pot meal with minimum preparation, fuss or mess. I know because I just cooked it for dinner.

Now, being a writer and an imaginative kind of person I pictured myself rushing home from work. Are you with me so far? Good. I think we both know that preparing dinner is not what I’m thinking about. I’m tired, my feet hurt, I want a cup of something, or perhaps a glass of something but I know that duty calls. I open the front door, dump my stuff and on the way to the bedroom I spend 2 seconds turning the oven onto about 180 celsius fan-forced [365 F]. Then I get changed, have a drink, talk to the dog and wind down for a bit.

Once I’m ready to cook the oven should be ready as well. I put about 2 tablespoons of peanut or olive oil in a roasting pan and then I add 6 – 8 free-range chicken thick fillets to the pan. Skin on or off doesn’t matter but I really wouldn’t use breast meat as it dries out very quickly. Next I sprinkle the chicken with some ordinary table salt and a little white pepper. To complete my preparations I slice one small onion and a nice red capsicum [bell pepper] and toss them on top of the chicken. The pan goes into the oven and I’m 1/3 of the way done.

Potatoes are next. I like those little potatoes [called chats here] but you can use whatever you’ve got just cut them into quarters or smaller so they cook quickly. The potatoes go into a pot with just enough water to cover. In goes a bit of salt and on goes the lid.

While the potatoes are cooking I wash some lettuce or water cress [I love the flavour of water cress plus it’s full of vitamins and anti-oxidants] and tomatoes [or whatever you have in the fridge and like to eat raw]. While the vegetables drain I make the salad dressing. I pour about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the salad bowl – it helps if the bowl is still empty 😉 –  add about the same quantity of vinegar or lemon juice, a pinch of salt and stir. Voila salad dressing is done. Everything except the lettuce can go in the salad dressing right now. Leave the lettuce until you’re ready to serve.

By now the potatoes should be just cooked. Drain. If you used large potatoes cut into smaller pieces the skin may have come off. Discard the bits of loose skin and throw the potatoes in with the chicken. These potatoes won’t go crunchy. Instead they will soak up the pan juices and be delicious!

At this point I [and you] can relax for a bit with that glass of something I promised. In between watching the news on tv and having that drink I’m going to toss the potatoes in the baking dish to make sure they are well covered in the pan juices.

45 minutes after starting to cook dinner is done. AND… I have just one pot and one pan to clean. Not bad if I do say so myself.

Once a week we get takeaway home delivered. It’s my break from cooking and it keeps me sane but the takeaway costs more than the meal I’ve just cooked, isn’t as fresh and healthy and takes about the same length of time to arrive, sometimes longer if they’re busy. I rest my case.

-hugs-

Meeks

p.s. I’m trying out the scheduling feature!


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