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Recent Entries to this Blog How to Prevent Email Spam
Posted: 04 Oct 2007
What is a Blog?
Posted: 14 Oct 2005
Meet Max
Posted: 16 Jul 2009
When did TV get so bad?
Posted: 16 Jul 2009
Goodbye Jinx
Posted: 13 Jul 2009

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Meet Max

Category: | Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 7:43 pm

Ok time for a happy blog entry :) My parents couldn't wait to get a new dog to have company for Shep after the death of Jinx. So my father went back to the man who originally gave us Jinx and although he didn't have another he did know of someone who had one to offer.

Here's what he arrived home with, say hello to Max:

Max (nickname Mad Max) ( photo / image / picture from Frank's Garden )

He has already been given the nickname Mad Max. My mother says he has a very friendly personality and likes to lick her face. I can't wait to give him a big hug to welcome him.

Last edited: Sat Nov 28, 2009 10:23 am

This blog entry has been viewed 4552 times

When did TV get so bad?

Category: Some Thoughts | Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:02 pm

Earlier I made a bite to eat and decided to sit down in front of the glowing box to see what was on. I have been of the opinion for a while that TV is just terrible nowadays. There was nothing on that interested me in the slightest so I ended up watching a TV infomercial just for pure comedic value. But although I laughed (how could one not) it made me sad to think that there are some people who are capable of sitting in front of this drivel all day long.

I suppose I'm not one to talk though. When I was young I was much more interested in staying indoors watching TV. How much of my time was spent soaking up whatever the box had to tell me? I don't even want to know. Now I'm going to sound like an old grandfather figure here but in my day I believe it was much better. No reality shows, less commercials, less celebrity news. Now it seems a lot of programming is all gloss, fast editing, dramatic music and no substance.

There is not a lot I make time to watch on TV these days. In fact the things I do end up watching are films and sitcoms like Seinfeld. Hardly new programming there.

Maybe I've just been spoiled by the variety and interactivity offered by the Internet. Will I be saying the same thing about it as well in 20 years to come. We'll see.

Rant over. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Last edited: Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:06 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 3719 times

Goodbye Jinx

Category: Some Thoughts | Posted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 11:28 am

Jewell posted earlier about her pet losses this year and I'm afraid I have another one to report. Our 7 year old border collie Jinx (Jinxy) died in a farm accident on Thursday. Needless to say my family and I are very upset about this especially since Jinx was the probably the friendliest, most innocent dog we ever had. Just full of love and playfulness. She was also jealous whenever anyone ever petted our older sheepdog/greyhound mix Shep. Not in an angry way, more in a "look at me I'm cuter" fashion :D It was very endearing. She was also great with the sheep, the best dog my father ever had for this.

We lost a pet and Shep lost a good companion. A terrible thing about living abroad as I do is that news of a family pet's death doesn't sink in until you actually go home and expect them to run to greet you. I'm not looking forward to that feeling when I return next time.

I'll miss you forever Jinx, you were a cheeky one!

My Pal Forever - Jinx ( photo / image / picture from Frank's Garden )

Tree Dog (aka Jinx) wonders when spring will arrive ( photo / image / picture from Frank's Garden )

Sheppy & Jinx watch both directions for intruders ( photo / image / picture from Frank's Garden )

Last edited: Mon Jul 13, 2009 12:14 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 3928 times

Can plants get surprised?

Category: Just Photos | Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:25 am

I had a glance at my Jade Plant this morning and it sure looked surprised to see me...

Surprised Jade Plant ( photo / image / picture from Frank's Garden )

Gosh I didn't think I looked that hideous!

Last edited: Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:26 am

This blog entry has been viewed 2452 times

Using eBay for your Christmas Shopping [Guide]

Category: Tech Stuff | Posted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:56 pm

If you're like me and you hate shopping for Christmas presents in crowded shopping malls then the Internet is a perfect alternative. This is my second Christmas using eBay as my source of gifts. "Hold on" you say, "doesn't eBay just allow you to buy second-hand items? I'm not that desperate!". Well that's where you would be wrong, you can buy completely new, packaged items at lower prices than elsewhere. The selection is also wonderful, you can find items on eBay that you can't find elsewhere online, e.g. Amazon.

Before I continue let me just mention that the easiest way to use eBay is if you have a PayPal account for making payments. Most sellers require that you have one to buy their items. Also it is the most secure way to make payments, I recommend avoiding other types of money transfer. I have a PayPal account that is tied to my credit card so that ordering items on eBay is a breeze..

Ok on to the shopping!

Visit eBay and search for something you are interested in. When I use eBay I like to view items that I can buy straight away without having to go through an auction process ("What, you can do that!" - Yes you can :)). When you perform a search you should see a little "Buy It Now" icon listed beside items you don't have to go through an auction to get. It looks like this:
You can filter your search results to only show "Buy It Now" results by looking for the area "Buying formats" on the left hand side and selecting the "Buy It Now" option.

When you find an item you may like to buy there are a few things to look out for:

- Seller's feedback score. This will tell you what the eBay community thinks of this seller in a useful percentage score. If it says 98% this means that 98% of buyers liked their interaction with this seller. It goes without saying that the higher score the better. Personally I like to look for a score of 97% or higher.

- Detailed feedback for the seller. It makes for interesting reading to peruse the comments left about a seller by the buying community. If I am interested in a seller's item I visit the detailed feedback and search for the item name within these comments (use the "Find" feature of your web browser for this, CTRL+F). That way I can find out exactly what others thought of this exact item from this exact seller (e.g. was the item as described when delivered). Set the number of comments per page to 200 to search faster.

- Read the item's description very carefully. Is it exactly what you are looking for? Are the features described what you are looking for? If it is an electronic item will it work in your country? (e.g. some DVDs only play in certain countries). Contact the seller directly through eBay's messaging system if you are unsure.

- Shipping and handling. Check if the seller ships to your country. If the seller of an item you are interested in buying resides in another country then you will pay higher shipping and handling fees then if they reside in your country. On each item's page there is a Shipping and handling section where you can calculate what the costs will be.

-Return policies. Have a look for the Return policy section on each item's page so that you know what your options are should you be unsatisfied with your purchase.

- Committing to buy. When you decide to buy an item you will be asked to commit to buy. Be aware that this is a legal agreement between you and the seller so in this way it works differently then adding an item to your shopping cart on a site like Amazon.

Using eBay last Christmas was a success. I ordered from 4-5 different sellers with high feedback scores and followed the rest of the tips above. I had all of the item's delivered straight to my family's home in Ireland so that I didn't have to so my shopping here in Sweden and carry it all home in my travel bags/rucksack.

I hope this short guide helps you in some small way. Happy Christmas shopping, wherever you end up doing it!

Last edited: Fri Dec 05, 2008 7:19 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 2818 times

Unshrinking a Wool Sweater, it works!

Category: Some Thoughts | Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:05 pm

Last Xmas I bought myself a very fitting wool sweater (80% lamb's wool). Guess what happened a few months back... you guessed it I washed it in a warm wash. It wasn't so fitting anymore. So I resigned it to the clothes rack and there it stayed until I learned yesterday that you can unshrink a wool item. I scarcely believed it so I thought it was worth a try. It worked! Here's what you do:

1/ Fill a bath with warm water (not boiling hot!)
2/ Add shampoo to the water (about 2 hair washes worth) and mix it in
3/ Soak the wool item in the warm water for 30 minutes
4/ Take the wool item from the water and wring it dry as much as you can
5/ Lay out some newspaper on the floor and then placed the wool item onto it.
6/ Stretch it back to its original shape (you'll have to use your judgement for this, alternatively you could put it on and stretch it while on you but remember it is wet by now :))
7/ While it drys you may just give it a few tugs here and there at 1 hour intervals to make sure it is retaining its new unshrunken shape
8/ When it is dry, cross your fingers and try it on

I'm cannot guarantee that it will work for you but if an item is no longer wearable you have nothing left to lose by trying. Glad to have my wonderful wool sweater back!

Last edited: Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:08 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 10943 times

The Good, the Bad and the Downright Cute

Category: Just Photos | Posted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 1:34 pm

The art of photo taking - sometimes the moons are in alignment and you snap a fantastic photo, other times the moons play a trick on you and you end up with quite an unflattering example. Well both these scenarios both happened to me on my Irish vacation last month. Plus a bonus third scenario that surprised me.

The Good:

The Bad:

The Downright Cute:

Last edited: Thu Jul 03, 2008 1:49 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 2203 times

If It Ain't Broken, Don't Fix It

Category: Some Thoughts | Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 1:37 pm

Now I am by no means a luddite, I love technology in all its shapes and forms. But I have a hard time comprehending why one should switch to something newer just because of the fact that it is indeed newer (not necessarily because it is more useful).

A phone conversation I had yesterday (shortened and edited for simplicity):

*phone rings*
Me: Hello
Phone Seller: Hello Sir, I'm calling from "insert company name here". I see you run your own business. I have an offer that you'll just love!
Me: Ok sure, what is it?
Phone Seller: As well as enjoying our low network rates for just this week when you sign up to our network you'll receive the newest Samsung XG120-blah-blah-#%&D! (ok I made that model name up)
Me: Hmmm not sure I'm interested
Phone Seller: It's the newest model
Me: Ok I'm still not s...
Phone Seller: But Sir you do know that this model hasn't even hit the marketplace yet?
Me: Well I wasn't aware of that but still...
Phone Seller: It has... (begins to list off a raft of features that I wouldn't personally use)
Me: That's cool but...
Phone Seller: May I ask how old your current model is?
Me: Sure, about 3-4 years old I think
Phone Seller: *clears throat* Ok (continues to repeat features)
Me: My phone works out fine for me though, I'm happy with it

Some more sales speak happened after that but I repeated that I was happy with my current model. And the truth is that I really am. Sure it's getting on a bit in years and the technology nut in me would like some new whiz-bang features. But then the pragmatist ultimately shines through and tells me that what I have works just fine for my needs. And I wholeheartedly agree.

This blog entry has been viewed 3258 times

How to Prevent Email Spam

Category: Tech Stuff | Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 12:15 pm

Ever now and then I'll get an email into my inbox saying something like:

"I'm receiving lots of spam all of a sudden and because I signed up with your site then of course YOU are the reason why I'm getting it!!!"

I really hate these mails but rather than get peeved I'm going to share a few tips that everyone can follow to reduce the amount of email spam they receive.


- If you receive a spam/unsolicited email NEVER follow their 'helpful' Unsubscribe instructions at bottom of the mail. What the spammers do is send out millions of emails to random email addresses. If you happen to prove that your email address is alive by Unsubscribing then what you are really doing is subscribing to their spam list indefinitely. I'm tech-savvy but I still fell for this one for a while.

- Related to the previous point, it's a good idea to use an email provider that doesn't display images in emails until you specify to display them. This is because if you open a spam email containing images as soon as the images load the spammers will recognize this and you have proved that your email address is alive. Gmail is one of the email providers that offers this protection.

- Never sign up to any forum/community using your email address as your username. If you do this spammers can read your email address straight from your profile page and when you write posts. You are displaying your email address to them, it's like throwing a little innocent lamb in front of a pack of lions! DINNER TIME!

- If a site asks you to sign up but you don't completely trust what they are going to do with your email address then I would recommend using a temporary email address service like SpamBox. Using this service you can sign up using a temporary email address that you can discard afterwards leaving your original email address untouched. However if you are signing up with a website that you DO trust and that will need to use your email address for sending notifications etc... (like here at GardenStew or sites like Facebook, eBay) then I would not recommend using these services.

- Instead of using a temporary email address you can set up an entirely separate email account just for purposes like signing up to services etc... and use your existing email account for important tasks like emailing friends etc... Divide and conquer!


I'm sure I've missed a few tips, when they come to me I'll share them. But for now these are the most important tips. Have a spam free day!

Last edited: Thu Dec 18, 2014 3:34 pm

This blog entry has been viewed 9108 times

A Beautiful Irish Garden

Category: Garden Tours | Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 6:48 pm

When home in Ireland at the start of September I took the opportunity to take a few photo's of my brother's beautiful garden. The garden is a year old but to walk around it you would scarcely believe it. Here we go.

Note: Click on any of the photos for a larger version.

Overall view of the garden

Down the garden path

Patio area (perfect for barbeques )

Water feature (not switched on in photo)

"Up Galway!" A dahlia displaying the Galway colours

Mixed perennials amongst the turf walled beds

A young upright golden yew Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata Aurea'

Crocosmia arch above nasturtiums and rubus

"Getting there" a shabby wall on its way to being brightened up

Dalia and bee combo

The pink daisy-like Echinacea purpurea

A worse for wear Lavatera x clementii 'Rosea'

Penstemon on its way to seed

A misted Schizostylis Coccinea "Mrs Hegarty"

Here's what the garden looked like last year

As you can see it is an amazing transformation. The birds, bees and butterflies love it also.

Hope you enjoyed this tour of just one beautiful Irish garden!

This blog entry has been viewed 6871 times

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