Never Buy Major Appliances When Mercury Is Retrograde

My old Simpron Rivera machineI have this washing machine (see, it’s right over there —>). I bought it not long after I moved out of home, so I was probably in my late teens or early twenties at the time.

This washing machine has worked faithfully for the last 25 years or so. Right up until about a month ago when I noticed a small amount of water on the floor whenever I did a load of washing.

Being the sensible type, I ignored it.

I ignored it that is, until about a fortnight ago when that little bit of water became a deluge.

Thinking that I should maybe do something about it, I pulled the machine out from the wall and checked the hoses. They all seemed fine but there were a lot of black plastic pieces on the floor underneath the machine, which led me to decide that my faithful machine had gone to the great laundry room in the sky.

It was time for me to buy a replacement.

Later in the week, I gleefully trotted off to buy a new washing machine at the EOFY sales.  After dragging a poor salesman back and forward between the top loaders & front loaders for half an hour or so, I finally settled on a lovely looking Hisense 7.5kg front loader.  Best of all, they would deliver AND install it on Sunday! I was in shopping heaven.

The next day my machine arrives and is installed and it looks so sparkly and new that I’m really looking forward to doing the washing on Monday morning.

Until….

Bright and early Monday morning I rush out with a load of sheets, load the machine, throw in some powder and press START.

Nothing happens!

So I get out the instructions, check that everything is working and…. still nothing.

I check the troubleshooting section of the manual which tells me to make sure the powerpoint works – check! Then make sure the transport bolts were all removed – check!

😦 Still no power to my machine. Finally, I ring Hisense to get a warranty call.

The phone rings for a long time and someone comes on saying “operators are all busy, can we take your number and call you back?”  Now that’s great customer service I thought to myself and left my number expecting a call back in the foreseeable future.

About 4 hours later, I decide to try them again as I’d had no return call. After taking all my details, they said that their local contractor would contact me in 2-3 days!  Well, that didn’t impress me, but I really couldn’t see the point in chucking a tanty about it.

THREE business days later, I get a text message advising that my claim had been approved for a replacement. Which quite frankly, seemed to me to be the sort of thing that should have happened on the day of the claim, not 3 days later.

Obviously, it was tanty time…

I rang Hisense and they advised that they were really sorry, but mid-next week I should get a replacement. Being unusually assertive for me, I advised that I really appreciated their sorriness, but it was totally unacceptable as I’d spent my money nearly a week ago and still didn’t have the goods that I’d paid for.  So they decided I could get a store replacement.

My new Hisense machineNow, it was time to ring Good Guys and organise the replacement. By this stage I was fairly cynical that it was all going to work, but I was MAAAAAAD and I wasn’t going to back down.  Fortunately, Good Guys were awesome and after a quick confirming call to Hisense, they promised to deliver a replacement the next day.

So yesterday (Friday) nearly a week after purchasing my brand new machine, a replacement was delivered.  It was a bit late for me to wash then, but I was eagerly anticipating doing a couple of loads on the weekend.

Saturday morning arrives and after dragging myself from the comfort of my bed, I go out and put a load of washing on with no problems.  About 45 minutes later, I wandered outside to see how it was doing only to find the laundry floor awash with soapy water!

Turns out, the pipe that the washing machine emptying tube goes into must have a crack or something. I’ve successfully solved my original water on the floor problem by moving the outlet hose into the laundry tub.

Sooooo if you know anyone who wants a Simpson Riviera washing machine that looks it’s age, but apparently works well (except I broke off one of the feet moving it) – just let me know….

Fortunately, Mercury went direct again on 2nd July.  I’ll be thinking very carefully about any changes I need to make in October though.

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Sharyn Vs The Biscuit Package of Falsities

What the bikkies were supposed to look like

I know, I know, I’m horrified too! The biscuit packet lied to me!

The first mistruth…. 1 Spoon = Basic

Now “Basic” in this sense obviously has some obscure meaning of which I’m not aware.  Possibly it would be “Basic” for anyone with an advanced gastronomic degree.  But it was NOT basic for anyone cookingly challenged.

Firstly the “ingredients”

  • 1 Box of Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies mix – Check
  • 1 Tablespoon (20ml) Water – Check-ish… I don’t know how much was in the Tablespoon and surely they don’t expect you to measure that.   Surely something like a Tablespoon would be standard.  Wouldn’t it?
  • 1 (59g) egg – Well, I have an egg, but all it has is a smiley face on it.  It doesn’t say how much it weighs, and I don’t know if it should be 59g including or excluding the shell and if I open it, and it’s not 59g then what?  Do I keep opening eggs till I find one that is 59g?  Do I use one and a bit eggs?  If so, do I use the yolk or the whites, and in what proportions?   And then what do I do with the leftover bit of an egg?

At this point, I start mentally running through the list of people I could ring for help and trying to decide who would be least likely to laugh/blog/tweet or fb status my predicament…. I came up empty.  Social media sucks sometimes!

Bravely, IMO, I decide an egg is an egg and just use the one I’ve got.  Next ingredient…

  • ¼ Cup (60ml) Vegetable Oil – And of course, I only have peanut or olive, so it’s off to wiki to find out which of peanuts or olives are most vegetableish.  After some research and internal debate, logic demands that as olives are a fruit and peanuts are a legume – and beans are a legume and it was usually beans that my mother was talking about when she said “eat your vegetables or you don’t get dessert”…. I settle for the peanut oil.

Whew!  At last the ingredients are sorted!


Then the Instructions.

With what can only be described as sadistic humour, the packet advises “Follow These Basic Steps

  1. Pre-heat oven for 10 minutes at 180c/350f – OK.  That I can do
  2. STIR Cookie Mix, oil, water and egg in a large bowl until a soft dough forms.   Now this on, MAY have been my fault.  First off, I decide to use my stirry machine thingo… but there’s too much stuff and when I turn the handle, nothing happens.  So… transfer the lot to a largeish bowl – but it fills the bowl.  Obviously a slightly larger bowl is in order.  So I stir, and I stir, and I stir, and I rest for a few minutes to let my arm regain some feeling, and I stir, and stir, and stir and after about 15 minutes I have what looks like a lump of dry soil with chocolate chips.  Realising that maybe the multiple bowls might have somehow osmotically sucked a large portion of the egg, oil and water out of the mix, I decide that I should add more.  But…. More what!     Deciding that woosiness is the better part of valour – I pick water as it was the least difficult ingredient to start with.  I pour a bit in, and stir and stir and stir and pour a bit more water in and stir and stir and stir.  And eventually I end up with something that’s not entirely unlike soft dough.  Whew!
  3. SPOON tablespoons of dough (about 4cm diameter) onto ungreased non-stick baking tray(s), spacing about 5cm apart. (Line trays with baking paper if old or not non-stick).  Flatten cookies slightly. Now IMO, any instruction that requires geometry and a ruler is just too hard.  So I decide to dump some balls of “dough” on a tray and mush them down a bit.  But the dough seems to know what’s about to happen to it, and refuses to leave the spoon!  So I have to wrestle the dough into submission and drag it forcefully off the spoon then mush it down with admittedly, a teensy more force than was entirely necessary.
  4. BAKE one tray at a time for 13-15 minutes* or until just set.  Remove from the oven and cool on trays for 2 minutes. OK.  The thing here is that deceptively innocuous little asterisk.  When I finally track down the corresponding message that relates to the asterisk it says… “Time may vary depending on oven”.    So what you’re trying to tell me biscuit package of falsities is that you SAY cook for 13 to 15 minutes…. But really you mean: “bung it in the oven and sit watching it until it looks almost cooked?”

Oh bikkies, you disappoint me…

Sharyn’s Adventures Down the Toilet

Just after I moved into this house, the flush on the toilet stopped working. Well, actually, it usually just DIDN’T stop working. Every time you pressed the button, the flush would continue until you removed the cistern cover and pushed & prodded things. So, mistakenly assuming that I was a capable, rational human being – I decided that this was something I could handle without any problems at all.

Firstly, there was the trip to the hardware store, where in horror, I found a multitude of different “flushy things” for the toilet. Now this dear friends, is where the embarassment started…

Toilet1Hardware store guy: “Can I help you?”
Me: “I need a flushy thing for my toilet”
Hardware store guy: “A flushy thing?”
Me: “Err…Yes?”
Hardware store guy: “What type of toilet is it for?”
Me (Triumphantly, sounding like I was answering the million dollar question): “A white one!”
Hardware store guy(suddenly realising it was a baaaaaad day): “A white one. Do you happen to know what brand?”
Me: “There’s brands?”
Hardware store guy: “OK, what does it look like?” Leading me over to the toilet display… “Does it look like any of these?”
Me: “Oh, yes, it’s like that one”
Hardware store guy: “Are you sure”
Me: “Ye-e-es”
Hardware store guy: “Really sure”
Me: “Yes, but a bit different – mine has pink bits” (oh my god, did I really just say that)
Hardware store guy: “Okay, I’m pretty sure this is what you need” He hands me a flushy thing
Me: “Okay, but what if it doesn’t fit”
Hardware store guy: “Take the old one out, if they’re not the same, BRING (his emphasis, not mine) the old one in and I’ll know exactly what you need”
Me: “Okay”

I return home in triumph, proudly clutching my new flushy thing. Time to tackle the big job. Firstly, showing an uncommon amount of good sense for me, I turn the tap off, so that water won’t be flooding into the area I’m working on. The toilet bits come apart surprisingly easily, the new flushy thing is exactly the same as the old flushy thing, except a whole lot cleaner. I assemble the flushy thing, insert it into the tank and put everything back together. Easy peasy! So I cleaned up the mess and put everything in the bin. Including a little rubber thingo that with hindsight, did look suspiciously new. But hey, it was working, so there’s no way it could have been an important little rubber thing.

A couple of hours later, walking past the bathroom, I noticed that there was a sound of running water and the carpet was unusually damp. Hmmm, gingerly, I open the door only to be swept down the hall by the gushing water. OK, so that’s an exaggeration, but it does sound good. In reality, there’s about 1cm of water all over the floor and it’s not stopping gushing out the bottom of the cistern. Wading through the mess (ugh – toilet water)! I turn of the water supply to the cistern and pull everything apart and reinstall the flushy thing again. This time, I actually waited for the cistern to fill before I left the room and sure enough, it starts as a little trickle, but pretty soon, water is pouring. Again, off goes the water and I toddle outside to hang upside down over the wheelie bin to try to find the instructions.
*Note: If all else fails, read the instructions.

Ahhhh – it dawns on me that the sealing ring mentioned, looks incredibly like the extraneous little rubber thing. See if they labeled them properly, I’d know! So reassembling the whole thing, using ALL the parts that came in the box, I once again try installing the flushy thing. Woo hoo! All is good in the world, my toilet now stops flushing, the water is only in the places where water should be, and I’ve learnt a few lessons…

* Lesson #1: If something needs replacing and it’s removable, take it to the shop with you.
* Lesson #2: If someone tells you good service no longer exists, get them to go to my hardware store. They have the patience of a saint and don’t make you feel like a total twit, even when you are.
* Lesson #3: A flushy thing is also known as a “flush valve”
* Lesson #4: Just because you don’t know what something is for, doesn’t mean it’s not important.
* Lesson #5: Don’t throw the instructions in the bin until you’re sure everything is OK, unless you’re tall enough to reach the bottom of the bin without having an embarassing accident.

…The end

Sharyn’s Adventures in Plumbing Land

bathroom3aAnyways, I decided that since I have all this time on my hands, now that I’m semi unemployed, I should do a bit of stuff around the house. As pretty much everything in the bathroom vanity was getting mouldy thanks to the water leak going on under there – I decided it would be a quick easy job to change the taps, spout and pipes so that everything would be honky dory and dry.

It all started well enough, it took about half a can of WD40 to loosen the nuts on the pipes enough to undo them. Keeping in mind the tiny space I was working in….well I was pretty much high by the time that was done. Anyway, the sudden outpouring of water once I did get the nuts undone was enough to make me consider turning off the water at the mains. Yep, yet again I thought this through thoroughly before I started.

Of course, the hot water system was much harder to turn off than you’d expect and about an hour later all the water was off, the bathroom was full of water (very little of which was in the usual places, most of which was on the floor) and I was hot, smelly, and pretty damn mad. So I had to have a little sit down while I waited for the water to evaporate….

After a couple of hours, I was brave, I was committed (or should have been) and I wasn’t going to let any stupid little taps get the better of me so back into the breach went I. Using every towel in the house, I soaked up most of the excess water, cleaned up the mess I’d made and decided that maybe I should call a plumber to do this.

So back on went the old taps, everything reassembled nicely and I went out and turned the water back on. Aargh! When I’d undone the old taps originally, a bit (well, a lot) of rusty stuff fell off, obviously nothing important, right? Well guess what the rusty stuff was – yep, sure enough it was whatever stops the water pouring out the pipes. Damn, bolt back outside dripping wet to turn the water off again. At that point, I decided I should ring a friend for a chat, rather than do something I’d regret later. Four hours later, slightly cheered, still VERY smelly and covered in a little oil slick from the WD40 I realised that I couldn’t have a shower without turning the water back on, and of course, couldn’t turn the water back on without flooding the house again. Grrrr! At that point, I gave up and went to bed without any supper.

Next morning, with the worst of the icky transferred to the sheets, I was full of enthusiasm for the task ahead. It had struck me during the night that I couldn’t call a plumber until I was a bit less smelly so I had to get this done… Out came the trusty hacksaw to cut the water pipes down a bit coz the taps were floating waaaaaay above the sink. Unfortunately, I couldn’t use the hacksaw in the frame coz it didn’t fit in the space under the sink, so I took the blade out and used it alone. Because of the shape of the sink, I had to sort of bend the blade to get it around the pipes, so naturally I started with a blade about 30 cm long, which quickly shattered and I was using about 15cm of what was left, until it too gave in under the pressure…. anyway, I’m sure you can guess how this went, by the time I was cutting the second pipe I was down to about 5cm blades (of which I had quite a few). Still, at last it was done – time to put the new setup in.

Oh No! Of course, the new set was too big and needed to be cut down. I was still too smelly and gross to be going out in public to buy new hacksaw blades, so out came my minky blades to carefully saw off a big chunk of pipe. But, it did work!
Note: at this point, I was working on the law of averages that says eventually SOMETHING has to work.

It took ages to get the new set installed, coz I had to fiddle around behind the sink where I couldn’t really see a thing and it was all a bit slippery from the WD40, but at last, I could turn the water back on. It took me about 20 mins before I was brave enough to look under the sink, but the floor was relatively dry, so I was hopeful. At that point, stupid, stupid me decided to turn the taps on. Now up until that point, everything had been working relatively well, so I really did have every reason to be hopeful. The cold tap was great – lovely cold water gushing out (and boy did that remind me that now I could use the toilet) but this is where it all fell down… I still don’t know what I’d done wrong, but when I turned the hot tap on, the whole assembly just fell apart. So not only was my bathroom floor getting yet another wash – it was getting a really HOT wash…..

So back outside to turn the water off for the 5 millionth time this weekend, and pull the whole thing apart again. Well, there really wasn’t a lot of pulling to do, it had pretty much pulled itself apart. Slowly, careful, paying attention and using ALL the bits that came in the set, I reassembled the whole thing. Pretty much just in time to shower for work on Monday.

So being the sensible person I am (well, it only took 3 times before I figured this out) I had a shower, washed up and did some washing and DID NOT even THINK about turning the taps on, just in case… I decided to leave that until Thursday, when I didn’t have to work and could call a plumber without having to pay weekend rates.

Anyways, I now have new taps, a new spout (that you can actually get your hands under!) and a almost leak free bathroom. And it only took 3 days, 2 tantrums and one crying fit. So… got anything at your place that needs fixing?

Oh, and just this weekend, I fixed the car……

Handy hints

So here are some things I’ve learned through trial and error…. mostly they actually ARE useful

  • Put jeans and similar stuff in the clothes dryer & get them out as soon as the cycle finishes and you won’t have to iron them.
  • Spray cooking oil on your freezer after defrosting it and the ice will just leap off next time.
  • If you burn stuff in a saucepan, put some cooking oil in it, & heat it for a while. The burnt on gunk will just fall off!Yep, everything's colourful at Chez Shary</ul> <p>n
  • Bicarb soda will clean almost anything without too much scrubbing. It’s especially great for coffee cups and bathtubs/showers.
  • Vinegar is another good cleaning thing, especially for glass & similar stuff, it just pongs a bit if you don’t rinse it well.
  • Vinegar is also good for getting rid of the gunk in kettles and anything that gets water deposit problems. Just put it in & boil then empty & rinse VERY well.
  • Put foil on your oven trays & you can just change the foil each time you use ’em rather than washing the tray.
  • Your car really doesn’t need a lot of oil!

Cooking tips

These are a few of the tips I have found over several years of being culinary deficient.

  • Chocolate bars are not a good substitute for sugar when making coffee.
  • Neither is icing sugar.
  • NEVER pick up the toaster by the toasting slots until it has cooled down.
  • If you need to test whether the oil is hot, use a piece of meat, or vegetable, not your finger!!
  • Always check that the lumps in the gravy are not the meat.
  • Leave the door of the griller OPEN when toasting bread rolls.
  • If you’re doing the washing up, take the rubber gloves off before getting anything out of the oven. Thanks to Lisa
  • Do not roll out pastry onto newspaper.
  • Do not keep the Domestos bottle next to the washing up detergent bottle. Thanks to Noelene
  • If you use enough chilli, anything tastes good
  • Aloe vera gel, straight from the plant will stop almost ANY burn from scarring (Trust me – I know)
  • Do not boil 2 minute noodles in an electric kettle – They’re VERY hard to get out. (OK, so I didn’t actually do this!)
  • The following is not a good hamburger recipe: 1 bun, 1 hamburger pattie, 1 egg, 1 onion, 1 can mushrooms in butter sauce, 1 slice cheese, a couple of slices of Philly cheese, Dijon mustard, seed mustard, mayonaise, steak sauce.
  • Don’t wash your coffee cup – eventually you won’t need to add coffee the dregs will be enough
  • Don’t squeeze the bottle while you’re opening it

My colourful kitchen