Sunday, December 30, 2007

Family Ties


I bring you a little photo gallery to give a taste of our life during this Christmas week. Suffice it to say that we have had oodles of delicious food (including three turkey dinners!), fabulous presents and great times with family and friends!

Christmas Eve is always my favourite day - due to our Norwegian roots it is our tradition to open gifts on Christmas Eve after going to a beautiful candlelight service and having a great meal. It was so delightful to be home with the family for these festivities for the first time in five years! I was showered with all kinds of great gifts including several new cookbooks including Barefoot Contessa, Wagamama and a new book of curries (. . . it would seem that I dropped my hints effectively with the help of APYOC!) I am full of new year optimism about trying all kinds of new recipes and carving out time to cook healthy eats in the midst of what can sometimes be hectic lives. Also, I really must give public adoration to the Stu who surprised me big time with a silver ring from Tiffany & Co. I heart that guy, and not just because of the ring!
Yesterday the family fun continued as we went down to Regina for time with our cousins the Rosom's. It was also a treat to see my cousin's lovely kids, including brand new baby Bronson. A highlight of the day was watching some old home videos from about 25 years ago! It was hilarious and heartwarming to see all of us cousins as young kids (video of us playing the piano and singing solos before we discovered our lack of musical talent!) and it was particularly nice to see video of my Grandma and Grandpa Broten who passed away in the '90s. I felt convicted to stop making fun of Ninny and her Handycam as video images are so special to have - especially when you're watching footage a couple of decades later!
Thankfully, between all the visiting and cooking and present wrapping there has been plenty of time to go on snowy walks with the dogs (a requisite in the dog family!), to sleep in and stay in the pj's for far too long while watching nonsense TV on the inappropriately named Learning Channel, to go to the pub for late night drinks and to watch a few cheesy movies. Cheers to that.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Long time no see

It has been a week of blue skies and increasingly cold temps here in Sasky. In addition to a fantastic trip to the Legislature in Regina to see my newly elected brother in action, our first week home has been a fun merry-go-round of visiting with family and old friends. Happy holidays to us with lots of coffees, lunches, dinners, drinks and catching up! It's been really cool to see everyone and find out what's up in people's lives - as much as I do love Stalkerbook (and you know I do!), there's nothing quite like chatting face to face over lattes :)


It's also been great to see some of my friends' offspring at various stages because the young ones change so quickly . . . Yesterday was a special highlight as we had a brief visit with our friends Santosh and Felicia and their lovely children who were in town from Vancouver. My mom got to break out her old elementary school skills by doing some puzzles with Adam.


Last night it was definitely beginning to feel alot like Christmas when we were treated to a special Christmas gig by my very talented sister-in-law Ruth and some of her musician friends. The arrangements of some old favourites were really very lovely and there was a great chilled atmosphere in the venue. My personal favs were Joni Mitchell's River (of course) and Song for a Winter's Night - I have loved Sarah McLachlan's cover of this song for years, and Ruth's rendition was bliss. After the soiree we hung out with Ninny, her beau known affectionately as the MJ, the MJ's fun family known as the Johnson's and our cousin Ole known as, well, Ole :) Christmas good times all around with lots of games. Pass the egg nog!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Hello from Sasky!! I come to you today as one very chilled out blogger - it's great to realise it's Monday morning and I don't have to go to work :)

Here's a few of the good things we have been up to since arriving home last Thursday after (ugh!) twenty hours of travelling . . .

- Getting Stu-dawg (check out his blog - he's updated!) some new warm clothes - even though the weather is thankfully fairly mild (about minus 10) we had to go out the first day and buy the requisite long johns and hiking boots for the Irish guy! I really hope we don't get any of that minus 30 malarky because that's just wrong.

- Going out to my Aunt and Uncle's farm for a scrummy turkey dinner and early Christmas celebration. Great to see family!

- Walking the dogs, Cleo and Oscar, by the river - In our absence, my family has become a bit dog crazy as of late (in a good way!) A highlight of dog walking, I even got to wear the Ninnygoat's fluorescent orange oversized down filled jacket, but my vanity restrains me from posting a pic of that little number! Think pumpkin, think Michelin man.

- Having a little get together to celebrate the arrival of six week old baby Ainsley, beautiful new daughter to our friends Amber and Mike.

Other highlights included a bake-a-thon with Ninny, sitting around by the Christmas tree, seeing old friends, going to the Farmers' Market with my dad and going on dark morning winter walks to Starbucks with Stu (thanks to the jet lag we seem to like getting up very early!) . . . All in all much chilling and so lovely to be with family! This morning there is a bit of Christmas shopping to be done and also Stu and I are going out for breakfast - five years ago today we got engaged here in the Bessborough park. Time flies and you know the rest!






Sunday, December 9, 2007

Where ya been?

It's been a long old while since I've blogged - even after a year of pretty regular entries it's amazing how quickly I found myself getting out of the habit . . . I find myself somewhat worried that I may have lost some of my readership (a risky business when the 'readership' is about seven people!) Anyway, I bet you've been wondering what we've been up to in the past few weeks . . . It's been a busy countdown to our trip home to Sasky (woo hoo!!) Here's an update of the highlights for your APYOC reading pleasure . . .

We had a fantastic weekend trip to Poole in lovely Dorset to visit Stu's sister Ali and family. We had so much fun with our three crazy-fun nieces playing their Nintendo Wii and just hanging out. (Unfortunately due to stock issues I haven't managed to fulfill Stu's newly proclaimed wish of a Wii for Christmas - yes, apparently he's twelve!) Ever-seeking the 'cool auntie and uncle title' we took the girls to the cinema to see Ratatouille which was very clever and fun. All in all the trip was great - wish we could spend more time together more often!

What else have I been meaning to tell you?? Oh - how could I forget . . . Earlier this week we went to see Josh Ritter (yes, again!) and I am officially an uber-fan (as if there was ever any doubt!) It was a great gig as usual. Josh (yes, we're on a first name basis in my head) and his band are so lovely and cool (during concerts he's always smiling - absolutely delighted to be preforming!) During the concert he mentioned that they had flown into Belfast that morning on Ryanair and I found myself genuinely wishing that I'd been on the flight - I think that makes me something of a fanatic but I'm okay with that.

In between the busy-ness, ever-devoted DVD watchers that we are, we've found time to become Lost addicts . . . sexy Dr Jack, cunning Locke, bumbling Hurley, criminal Kate and what about that thing in the forest???? So exciting and spooky. (Yes, I do realise we're about three years late on this but we get there eventually!) Anyway, it's thrilling stuff and we'll be delving into season two in January (I'm hoping this will help ease my post-Christmas blues!)

We had a very happy day today as our godson Joe was baptised at church this morning and there was a lovely lunch and party afterward. Tonight I've enjoyed some mellow-ness, cooking Nigel Slater's mushroom stroganoff recipe from today's Observer magazine and listening to Michael Buble (specifically the song Home - I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed about that!)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

All about the gangster

On my dad's recommendation (film buff extraordinaire) we are just in the door from seeing American Gangster. It's a bit rough, what with all the gangster stuff (i.e. loadza guns and scantily clad women) but the story's oh so clever and interestingly based on a true story. Russel Crowe does his awkward but cool bit to perfection (it's such a shame about him throwing that phone at a hotel bellboy a while back) and Denzel is so bad and so cool. It's actually slightly problematic how much you find yourself liking the criminal.

I had a mixed weekend - Stu was working the whole time so that was more than a bit of a bummer, made exponentially worse in my head by pouring rain all day on Saturday. Thankfully on Saturday night I was greatly cheered by spending time with friends at a birthday par-tay. This afternoon was great because Stu returned from the work world and we spent time hanging out together which meant reading the Sunday newspaper in Starbucks and then going out for dinner at our local burger joint.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A bit of the good stuff

I am just in the door and on a high after seeing Martyn Joseph live in concert! What a great show - I was sitting close enough to be touched by his spittle, but believe me, he's so cool that that's a good thing. (The show was only slightly besmirched by a few what the locals might call 'daft eejets' in the audience but we won't go there.) I hadn't heard much of Martyn before but thanks to the Beard and the Celtic Angel I am now a convert. His new album is called Vegas.

Thankfully as the November darkness starts to close in, some other exciting things have happened recently to bouy my spirits - I am delighted to publicly congratulate my brother Cam who was elected as a new MLA in Saskatchewan yesterday!! I also want to mention the indefatigable Dunny who ran the NYC marathon last Sunday - word up to you, my virtual running buddy!!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Something nice

This afternoon I bring you one of my favourite things about Northern Ireland . . . The Fifteen. A simple blend of good things, a slice is lovely with a cup of tea. I made a batch last week and had one or two as part of my marathon recovery plan!

15 large marshmallows
15 digestive biscuits, crushed
15 red candied cherries, halved
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Cut the marshmallows in halves using scissors (or just use about 45 mini ones), and place in a large bowl. Toss with the digestive biscuits and candied cherries. Gradually stir in the sweetened condensed milk until the mixture becomes a soft, moist dough. It should not be too dry, so you may need to add a bit more of the milk.
Spread a generous layer of coconut out on a clean surface, and place the dough on top of it. Use your hands to form the dough into a long thick sausage, making sure it is well coated with coconut. Wrap in a double layer of plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Unwrap the long piece of dough, and cut into slices to serve. With tea that is.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Keeping it real for 26.2

I'm smiling because it's over. Yes, as promised about four months ago yesterday I ran the Adidas Dublin Marathon - all 26.2 miles of it! I have to say that I found it pretty tough and definitely missed Stu my usual running buddy. As he injured his calf a while back he kindly criss-crossed Dublin for the day as my support team and own personal cheering section. On the bright side the weather was great, the route was lovely (just long - did I mention that?) and the Dubliners were out in droves all along the way to cheer on the 11,000 participants. My favourite part was running through Pheonix Park which is fairly early on in the race. Today I am stiff from head to toe but feeling slightly better after a visit to the hot tub at our gym. The next stop is the couch for a well-deserved dvd watching marathon!

The rest of the weekend was also fairly jam packed and I'd be remiss not to hit the highlights - On Friday evening we went to the Iron and Wine gig as part of the Belfast Festival. As you would expect it was a great concert and Stu and I were also pleasantly surprised by the support act Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit - very good folky tunes. On Saturday morning we met Stu's family (including nephew Dan pictured with Stu) at St George's Market to celebrate Stu's 31st birthday a day early and later on Saturday evening we had a few friends over for dinner as well which was lovely. Then on sunny Sunday morning we journeyed to Dublin where we met up with our friend Dave for some Wagamama. All good.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Keep on blogging in the free world . . .

I've got a couple of flicks to highly recommend. On Saturday night we watched Tell No One which was excellent, edge of your seat stuff. Then on Sunday night we watched The Painted Veil (oh how I love Edward Norton) . . . let's just say there were tears. I don't want to say much about either of these two very different but both atmospheric movies. See for yourself.

I am just in the door this evening from my French night class. Every Tuesday night when I get home after a long day of work and class I look very forward to having a glass of wine and a late dinner. I really enjoy my class (this is my second year of the DELF course) although each week I also think I really should do more homework but nothing much ever really comes of that!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What's new in my world

So much to blog about and so little time! The 21st century dilemma . . . I shall start with a quick run down of our busy weekend in London. Stuart goes often for work but his meetings very rarely fall on a Friday so on this occasion I did my scheming utmost to make a little getaway of it! We stayed with our friend Duncan which was lovely and also got to hook up with Big Chris - always a pleasure. Our flexible itinerary involved walking around, drinking coffee and going to a few specialty shops (okay, that bit was of my choosing!) I got gorgeous black boots and we also visited the Orla Kiely flagship store in Covent Garden (a highlight for Dunc and Stu I'm sure) which gave me the opportunity to fall in love with a bag that costs a month's rent. All in all we had a lovely time.

After work on Monday night the long awaited, much anticipated The Big Knit was a smashing success. Six of us came together for a night of knitting and great craic (as they'd say here!) We stitched some very funky wee smoothie hats, I must say. Believe it or not this was the first sort of 'knitting circle' that I've ever had the pleasure of attending and I had a really lovely time - my friend Alice and I are thinking of re-convening for another knitting evening in about a month's time. The coffee shop Common Grounds was the perfect venue as there was much randomness afoot with a few other groups meeting so we felt like we fit in well there! More pics will be forthcoming . . .

Speaking of both London and knitting, I purchased a beautiful new pattern book during my travels - Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed has several gorgeous chunky sweaters (including a lovely one for men so maybe Stu will finally profit from my wool obsession.) As a woman with still one sleeve remaining on Thermal (yes, I got slightly sidetracked by mini hats for a while there) I am also liking the thought of doing a project on bigger needles! I'm dreaming of doing Kilrean at the moment . . . any colour suggestions?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rufus World

It's been a good week - We went to see Rufus Wainwright on Tuesday night in Belfast. I don't think my description of the evening will do it justice. What a fantastic night! He had a seven piece band and his voice is just absolutely perfect. He played lots of grand piano, guitar and also just sang - he's got very cool moves, some of which are just a little bit Las Vegas (in a good way.) The planned support act didn't happen so the lovely Rufus played for two and a half hours with just a little break. Wonderful! Concert outfits included a white glittery leisure suit and after the break he emerged in lederhosen (pictured above.) For the encore he came out wearing black stilletos etc and his band joined him as backup dancers. I can't describe it without making it sound weird, but believe me, it was cool . . . .

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada - at the risk of sounding too melancholy I have to say that my perpetual habit of missing special occasions at home is really getting a bit old. On the bright side, Stu's mom and dad very kindly hosted an Irish-Canadian celebration with a lovely dinner complete with pumpkin pie. Now as it grows later on Sunday night I find myself wishing that the theme would continue for a wee while longer as tomorrow's a holiday at home and I could use a bit of that . . .

Carrying on with the Thanksgiving theme, I found myself thinking of the film What's Cooking today - from Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham director) the movie is set on Thanksgiving (American that is) and cleverly profiles the experiences of four families from different cultural backgrounds in Los Angeles. It's been ages since we watched it, but I remember really enjoying it.

Life's been busy and good - a sometimes hectic but mostly satisfying mix of work, friends, running (I am officially registered for Dublin so there's no backing out now!) and other adventures . . . There hasn't been much time for TV in the mix but tonight I was delighted to watch the new season premier of Ugly Betty (oh, how I missed her and I'm not even ashamed to admit it . . .) and then we watched Louis Theroux's Under the Knife which featured one of my favourite Brits investigating the phenomenon of plastic surgery in America. He has a knack for finding the strangest people and I love his unobtrusive manner of questioning which only serves to highlight the madness. Good stuff.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Big Knit


I have something random and fun for all you NI knitters out there - Innocent Smoothies is asking knitters across the UK to knit lots of little hats for their smoothie bottles. These behatted bottles will then go into Sainsbury’s in November and for every one sold innocent and Sainsbury’s will give 50p to Age Concern. Almost 25,000 older people died of cold related illnesses last winter, and this is a chance for us knitters to do our bit. Age Concern will use the money raised to provide support to older people in winter including hot meals, blankets and advice on how to keep their houses warm. In 2006 knitters managed to raise £115,000 by knitting 230,000 hats. This year Age Concern and Innocent are dreaming about what £200,000 could do. The goal is to pile up 400,000 hats by 17th October and it is hoped that 16,000 of these will be made in Northern Ireland.

Alice (a friend that I met through APYOC believe it or not!) and I are organising a Belfast Big Knit evening on Monday 15th October at 7pm at Common Grounds Cafe in Botanic. Bring some double knitting yarn (if you have some) and some small needles! Pass the word on to any UK knitters that you might know! Here's the pattern if you'd like to get started now . . .

Beginner Pattern
- Using double knitting yarn and some small needles (3 1/4-4mm) cast on 28 stitches.
- Knit 2 rows. Then starting with a knit row, work in stocking stitch for 12 more rows).
- For the next row, knit 2 together to the end (14 stitches). And for the row after that, purl 2 together to the end (7 stitches).
- When you've finished cut the yarn leaving about 25 cm. Thread the cut end through a sewing needle, then run it through the loops and remove the knitting needles.
- Tighten the yarn and sew the little hat together at the side. Once finished, turn it the right side out so that the seam you've sewn runs up the inside.
- Sew a little bobble onto the top of the hat if you like.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Autumn's Here

I have listened to the song Autumn's Here by Hawksley Workman several times over the past couple of days. It's slightly melancholic but I'm okay with that and hey, autumn's here.

Speaking of melancholy, I just finished another Maggie O'Farrell book called After You'd Gone. I thought it was really good, but achingly sad in its description of love and grief. I made the mistake of reading the latter, saddest section in little chunks which meant that over the past week I've found myself near tears several times in the work cafeteria, on the bus and in a coffee shop. Probably should've just read on through with some Kleenex close by - lesson learned for next time!

We are just back from another lovely morning at St George's Market. We met the family of the Beard and also ran into a few other friends along the way. Randomly, I have come away with some beads to make a new necklace (haven't done any jewelry making for a while so I'm looking forward to that) and some chorizo sausage. I now have great plans to cook all afternoon and keeping with the autumn theme, I'm thinking of soups and stews . . . I'll let you know what I come up with.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Phew!

Yet again too many days have passed since I last blogged! Where does the time go?? I'm going to blog about the weekend and in doing so mentally transport me back to the good old days (er . . . of yesterday!) when things were calm and chilled out. You can probably tell that manic Monday's gotten the better of me tonight!

On Friday night after being out for dinner at Deane's at Queen's we watched Night on Earth, a bizarre but enjoyable movie from 1991 featuring five vignettes of taxi drivers in five countries. My favourite was the one featuring the lovely Roberto Benigni. It came highly recommended by our friend Dave (the legend) McNair and was random but I ask you, who doesn't need a bit of random in their life every now and then?

We met Stu's parents at St George's Market on Saturday morning and had a lovely time. On top of having a good old catch-up with the in-laws, I was delighted to run into several friends from my old work (including Beth and her family complete with two week old Dom - highlight of the day!) Now I know the place to go to bump into people! On Saturday night we had Indian food with friends (the Beard and the Celtic Angel among them - you know who you are!) and then on Sunday morning I did another 18 miler . . . mad props yada yada . . .

And so, I suppose that brings me to tonight. The new job is going well and I have nothing to complain about really, so I won't!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Take the money and run

Somehow I couldn't help but think of the bank run scenes in 'It's a Wonderful Life' when reading the news stories this week about crowds of people queuing up outside Northern Rock bank branches across the UK to withdraw savings. According to the government, the Bank of England will guarantee any funds deposited with the bank it would seem that things are safe enough. That said, I probably would've joined the frenzied queues had I banked there! Northern Rock is one of the first banks to offer 5x salary mortgages (yowsah - that can't be a good idea!) However, I should add that I don't think their lending policy had much to do with the current crisis. The finance guru's would suggest that the problem is due to the fact that the bank depends heavily on sourcing funding from money markets (as opposed to from customer deposits or from other banks) and that this has become significantly more expensive recently due to problems in the American property market. That said, I think the property market here (a favourite rant topic of mine) is going through an upset as well so watch this space for more scintillating analysis of these and other financial issues! (I really don't have a clue.)

I feel like yet again it's been forever since I've blogged! We had a good and busy weekend which included lots of autumn/veggie cooking which I have been loving. We had friends for dinner on both Friday and Saturday night (we don't do that often enough!) and we also spent a good chunk of our weekend at our church. The Micah Centre opened on Saturday and the newly refurbished church (it's beautiful - pics will be forthcoming!) opened with some special services on Sunday. I might also add that I ran 18 miles early on Sunday morning . . . did I mention I did it on my own as Stu's injured and that it was raining?? (A bit of harmless self promotion on the blog, it would seem, never hurt anyone!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I'd rather be canoeing . . .


Indulge with me, if you will, in a bit of vicarious living . . . I have been enjoying looking at my sister's absolutely amazing photos from her recent epic two week canoe trip on the Nahanni River in the Northwest Territories (spot me green with envy!) I can't help but post of her snaps with the hope of being transported there for a moment, if only in spirit!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ginger Power

It's a bit early days to report on the new job so all I have for you tonight is a story about the cutest ginga kid that you ever will see (thanks to new mom of two(!!) Beth for signposting me to this story although me thinks her motives were malicious . . . ) No, this is not my kid, but 'if' I ever have one, I hope she looks like this . . .

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Right Moves

I can hardly express how good the Josh Ritter concert was in Dublin last night! His new album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter was just released in Ireland on Friday (but annoyingly not in Northern Ireland) and the whole evening was absolutely wonderful. I am basically in love with him but I think that's okay because Stu is too. I should also add that the gig was opened by Canadian Jim Bryson who was very funny and very good - he did the True North proud and kept the attention of the crowd which is rare in a support act. Josh (yeah, we're on a first name basis) finished the night with one of my all-time favourite songs 'Me and Jiggs' from the Hello Starling album so I was happy! I can't wait until he comes back to Belfast in December!

We had a quick trip down to Dublin on Saturday afternoon in our brand new car (I sound like the Price is Right announcer!) We unceremoniously said goodbye to the Mazda on Friday morning and fickle folk that we are welcomed a very shiny black Polo into our lives - gotta love that new car smell! Before the concert we hit Wagamama for some noodley goodness and the wandered around soaking up the Dublin vibe on a beautiful warm evening.

The trip to Dublin was a great end to a very busy week. Stu was away in London for most of the week and I worked my last week in my job - I have been overwhelmed by the kindness and goodwill of my friends and co-workers as they wished me goodbye - I feel very fortunate to have met such lovely people!

For anyone who doesn't know, I start a new position in a new workplace tomorrow (email me for specifics since I am slightly paranoid about work blogging.) I've got a bit of that night before the first day of school feeling this evening. Earlier in the week I was speculating with a colleague about what my veal-fattening pen will be like (my old office was very open plan) and then stumbled upon this website featuring all manner of work places through the Globe and Mail's office blog. Forever the optimist, maybe my new office will look like this one - not likely!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Home is where your heart is

Bear with me for a minute - I am going to selfishly use little old APOYC to indulge in a bit of a rant . . . (I mean really, if you can't use your blog to talk yourself off a ledge then what can you do?!)

I had planned a nice and relaxing evening tonight which involved some reading and a bit of computer time. Maybe some browsing of knitting patterns or surfing some foodie websites you ask? No, I foolishly clicked my way to depression by looking on Property News for a selection of astronomically priced first time buyer properties in Belfast.

Long story short, I am now frantically searching the house for a brown paper bag to regulate my breathing. The property market is officially insane here (as seems to be the case everywhere so I'm sure some of you renters out there will sympathise!) All together now - Arghh!!! . . . And don't even get me started about the tiny house we viewed a few months back that had an outdoor toilet (yes, you read that right!) and a hole in the roof but still ended up fetching over the asking price. (Sadist that I am, to add insult to injury I like to translate the prices into Canadian dollars whereby making myself feel even worse.)

Taking a deep breath and moving on, I am now chilling out by drinking Bengal Spice and listening to Sarah Harmer's wonderful album I am a Mountain. You'll be relieved to know I think it's working.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Zee mind boggles!

Just in case you missed this.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Inish Free


This weekend I got a little taste of home. We spent the long weekend at Stuart's uncle's cabin on an island in the middle of Lough Erne, and while County Fermanagh is about as Irish as it comes, a cabin on an island in the middle of a lake in August is about as Canadian as it gets! It was a lovely time filled with sleeping, snacking, reading, bbqing, jigsaw puzzling, card playing and listening to Radio four, punctuated by the occasional 'cowabunga jump' off the end of the dock! I only wished I could've teleported in the family and friends that usually accompany the quintessential cabin experience (hmmmm . . . teleporting - now really that is a good idea . . .)

From our weekend I have a few recommendations - The first day on the island it was just me and a deck chair as I read The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell and really really enjoyed it - I am delighted to see that O'Farrell has a few more titles. I am now three quarters way through The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty (thanks B!) and it is wonderful as well in a heartbreaking sort of way. For the sleuths among us, Stu read Dead Lagoon by Michael Dibdin and gives it mad props. Finally, I really must give Russell Brand's Radio two Saturday evening show a mention - I nearly wet myself listening to his lunacy while knitting a never-ending sleeve by candle light. Who could ask for anything more??

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tile-tastic


The Killers are in Belfast tonight playing at the Vital outdoor festival. I was just biking home from my church this evening and heard When you were young blasting through the darkness of the summer's night. It was a cool moment.

I wished I'd gotten tickets.

I am in a good mood. For one thing, the weather has been lovely here for TWO DAYS IN A ROW!! This is a record for this UK non-summer of rain (actually, Glasgow had its hottest day of the year - lucky them!) For another thing, I spent a pleasant evening working on a mosaic with some friends from church - we have been working on this piece de resistance every Wednesday night all summer long - breaking tiles, sticking tiles, grouting tiles etc etc . . . it's been a long but fun process and tonight we finished grouting and we caught a glimpse of the finished product which was satisfying.

I am slowly but surely discovering my inner crafter - I snagged a bunch of leftover tiles tonight with the great intention of making something for the house (ask me in a year if they're still sitting in a plastic bag in my back yard!) The mosaic will be going up in our church which has been receiving a two-year long makeover. We started going there only after the congregation moved into the church hall to allow for structural repairs that turned out to be pretty extensive. It will be cool to get back into the building and the new adjoining community centre this September!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cook it


The internet is a dangerous thing. I come to my wee blog tonight seeking a diversion as I only just stopped myself from ordering a bunch of cookbooks on Amazon. I only went on to check out the Cook Yourself Thin cookbook (yes, I was watching it tonight and yes, the hosts are more than slightly annoying but Christina from Ugly Betty provides the voice over so it can't be all bad can it?!) Suddenly I had compiled a serious wish list . . . And, oh look, if I spend just that bit more I get free shipping! Sucka!!

You'll be relieved to know that I actually didn't order anything. I thought it more prudent to go into Waterstone's and do a bit of flicking to be sure of what I must have now (in truth probably nothing!) And then there's that klassy little trick of just quickly copying recipes down while in the bookstore (been there, done that) but I seem to have moved up in the world ever so slightly from those good old days. So, what am I craving you ask? The Sugar Club Cookbook by Peter Gordon, some Barefoot Contessa as she's strongly recommended on the Weekly Dish, Nigella Express featuring quick recipes out in September, anything by Madhur Jaffrey and then there's Rachel Allen's new book (I am still an ardent fan despite discovering a group on Facebook devoted to people who hate her! Who knew?) . . . I could go on but I think you're getting the picture . . .

Between cookbooks and online wool stores (stop laughing - there are worse vices I know!) I could click away a significant amount of my hard earned cash so I will stand firm. Probably a good idea, come to think of it, because today we just ordered a shiny new black Volkswagen Polo! Yes friends, sad but true, early last week our mechanic broke the news that the Mazda needs a whole new engine and so soon our old faithful will be going off to that great big scrapyard in the sky. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to my cookbook fund.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Everybody loves a good punch up


I had a foodie post planned for tonight but I think I might shelve that for a later date because I am way too full of adrenaline from watching the new Bourne Ultimatum tonight! Wow. Jason Bourne is truly the ultimate fighting machine and, while I am normally the non-violent sort, one just can't help but love the assassin with a heart! (Oh, and in case you're wondering, I feel the same way about Jack Bauer.) As Bourne kicked butt throughout the movie, I only just managed to stop myself from cheering out loud in the theatre! As one reviewer that Stu read said, when your heart stops pounding then you know the movie's over. A good, fast flick is refreshing after a disappointing cinematic summer - haven't been to anything good for ages (apart from QFT independent films which are usually French and always quality!)

It has been another good weekend (weekends have a funny little habit of being good don't they?) We had Friday off (I am seriously contemplating working part-time - three cheers for the four day week!) On our day off we enjoyed going out for lunch, chilling in town and also doing some errands. In the evening we went over to Stu's parents' (Stu's sister's family who have been over visiting from England for the past week) where our nieces whooped us at domino's and a good time was had by all.

During the rest of the weekend I chilled out quite a lot and enjoyed doing some baking and cooking, watching dvds, knitting, wandering around East Belfast in the drizzling rain (not the highlight), reading, going to a birthday party for a friend and going for a 12 mile run today (see Julie patting herself on the back here!) Our car officially died last week so we also contemplated doing some car shopping but didn't get very far (although I'm generally a dang good shopper this sort is new to me.) Any tips??

When I was cooking Indian food this afternoon (my favourite pick lately) I happened to listen to the show Open Book on BBC Radio Four. The Scottish crime fiction book by Donna Moore Go to Helena in a Handbasket was highly recommended - I have never really gotten into crime fiction (barring an obsession with John Grisham novels when I was about 13 but let's not go there) but I think I am going to give this one a go. Surely my tv obsession with CSI should transfer over to literature? I'll let you know.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Logdriver's Waltz

Do you remember this one?? It was my all time favourite NFB cartoon.

Friday, August 17, 2007

More-ish

I bring you a truly scrumptious recipe - Banana Butterscotch Pudding from Rachel Allen . . .

Serves 4-6
For the pudding:
125g plain flour
3 tsp or 1 tbsp baking powder
125g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 banana, mashed
250 mul milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
85g butter, melted

For the topping:
100g soft brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
150 ml boiling water

To serve:
Softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven 180C/350F. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. add the caster sugar. Mix together the beaten egg, the mashed banana, milk, vanilla extract and melted butter. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir to mix until combined. Pour this wet dough into a 1.25L pie dish and place the dish on a baking tray (a must because it will bubble over!)

To make the topping, put the brown sugar, golden syrup and boiling water into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and then drizzle it all over the pudding. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until it feels slightly firm in the centre. Serve with vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream. If you're not going to serve the pudding immediately, keep it somewhere warm until you are ready - it sits quite happily.

Go on. Make it. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Flick Pick


We watched a great movie last weekend - Bobby tells the story of the assassination of Robert Kennedy and includes a truly all-star cast. I particularly like movies that tell the stories of several characters and then weave them all together. Anybody else seen anything good lately (including TV shows)? I'm always looking for recommendations.

Tonight feels like the first chance I've had to properly blog in ages! We've been out 'doing stuff' for several nights in a row and I have definitely missed the chance to just be home and chill. Speaking of blogging, check out this interesting article from the Globe and Mail about blogging about work. I think the safest bet is to just not go there. I know this isn't overly profound or anything but it's crazy to think how much life has changed recently with technology, particularly in terms of individual privacy. Despite the riskier bits, I can't quite imagine life without things like Ebay, blogging, email and Facebook (but then, maybe I'm just a saddo.) Don't answer that.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bueller . . . Bueller . . .

You might wonder who has time to do this, but I for one am glad they put the effort in. Where would we all be without the internet?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Choice

Just a quick post from me as once again it's late and once again I should be in bed! I wanted to quickly post a link to one of the most interesting radio programmes I have heard in a long time. It was on in the morning on the way to work the other day and Stu had to practically kick me out of the car when we reached my office because I really wanted to hear the end (and, let's face it, I didn't really feel like working, but that's beside the point . . . ) Click here to listen to the August 7th 2007 programme called The Choice on BBC Radio Four (this episode is only available for a week.) The premise of the show is that at some point most of us are faced with a single choice that irrevocably alters our lives. The host Michael Beurk interviews people from all walks of life about that kind of choice and takes them through the whole process of making the choice. The compelling interview was with American soldier Joe Darby, who exposed Iraqi prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. He articulately tells his story and comes across as both humble and heroic.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I've had the time of my life . . .

Truly nobody puts baby in a corner. My favourite bit is when the groom does his solo bit and then his friends join in.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Widgets, among other things . . .


Did you know that there's something called a widget in draft tins of Guinness? I sortof vaguely knew this but didn't really know what it was or what it did. Last night Stu cut open his tin after pouring out a perfect pint and I saw the widget in the flesh (lemme tell you, our Saturday nights really get crazy sometimes!) Click here for the full story on the integral role of the widget. Couldn't help thinking that those folks at Guinness are very very clever.

Okay, perhaps with that last news item I'm taking the concept of blogging about the little things of life a touch too far . . . What else can I report of note? I'm in the homestretch of a three day weekend which was very chilled out for the most part. We did a bit of shopping (I got a new duvet cover for 75% off in the Debenham's sale - I do love a bargain!!) and a bit of hanging out with friends and family.

Speaking of shopping, late last night while listening to Feist's new album (the track 1234 is ace) I got sucked into looking at random stuff on Ebay which is fun every now and then. I ended up ordering Rowan's Felted Collection and I'm very excited about it. No, in case you're wondering, I'm not done Thermal but am delighted to report that I'm about two thirds through sleeve number one (more of an accomplishment than it sounds - believe me!) Who knew the sleeves would take sooo long?? I pretended I didn't hear Stu's admonishment to finish my current project before planning what's next (how boringly sensible!) and ordered the pattern book anyway. The pics look lovely.

This afternoon we got all hardcore and went out for a longish run in the pouring rain on the footpath along the river. Have I mentioned recently that it feels like it's always raining here? Not cool (especially when my family is at the cabin enjoying hot weather on the August long weekend!) Oh well, by the end of the run we were soaked but feeling cool (both literally and metaphorically) so maybe the rain's not all bad.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Blogoliday


A few months back I read a list of what's hot and what's not for summer 2007 in the Observer magazine (our favourite read on a Sunday.) To my dismay, blogging was on the un-hip list! Feeling loyal to my own little space on the world wide web, I resolved to continue posting throughout the warm summer months. Fast forward to August and here I sit, feeling guilty that I've allowed nearly a week to go by without updating APOYC!

Upon reflection, I think a couple of factors have fed into my delinquency. Yes, in some ways I have to give in and agree with the magazine article - I don't think they were really saying that blogging is actually not cool (heaven forbid!) but making the valid point that perhaps as the sun shines and the evenings lengthen maybe, just maybe, there are better things to do than sit at a computer (perish the thought!) I think definitely in my life some summer stuff like holidays, bbqs and being out more in the evening has encouraged my sporadic-ness.

The other factor, though, for me is a bit sad - I've found myself feeling decidedly pedestrian this summer. I spent a significant hunk of July lamenting the fact that we weren't going on our annual pilgrimage home to Saskatchewan for the requisite quota of lake swimming, sunshine and family and friends time. Some nights I've sat down at the Mac and started trying to think of something bloggable and just felt like the usual routine of work and normal life is not especially reportable. Sigh. But that was then and this is August and with it comes the chance to turn over something of a new leaf? Less winging (read whining - I'm semi-professional) and more blogging. Afterall, whether it be my new latest favourite musician (I am digging Ryan Adams lately), a popular You Tube video (did anyone see the video of the Filipino prisoners dancing to 'Thriller'?!) or the curry I cooked tonight, there's always something worth typing about . . .

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A weekend in July


The spirit of my Sunday night posts are always the same - a sort of lament that the weekend is not at least one day longer. Time doing the nice chilled stuff of life always seems to go by too quickly! We did, as usual, enjoy a great weekend.

After a busy week of work and seeing friends, I was delighted to see the weekend arrive. On Friday night we had dinner with friends from Scotland who are over in Northern Ireland for a visit home and it was lovely to catch up. Then bright and early on Saturday morning we met Stu's parents at Central Station to get the Enterprise train to Dublin. Attention all Northern Irelanders out there - there is a super promotion on right now and you can go from Belfast to Dublin return for only a tenner!! I had ambitiously booked the 6.50 am train for us all (except Stu's dad who can go free anytime because he's 65 - lucky!) and had worried that maybe that had been overly enthusiastic but in the end it worked out really well. I think we all felt proud of ourselves arriving in Dublin by 9.00 am in time to go to Bewley's on Grafton Street for a lovely breakfast. I have to note that when we came out onto Grafton Street after breakfast there was a huge line of exceptionally posh Dublin women waiting outside Brown Thomas to get the newly released Dublin and Milan edition of the 'I am not a plastic bag.' I couldn't help but do a bit of smug 'been there, done that, got the t-shirt (er . . . bag)' thinking!

After breaky we took advantage of the (rare!) sunshine and hopped on the open top bus tour and then spent the remainder of the day doing a lot of the usual wandering and window shopping. I love the busy vibe of the city. There happened to be a potter demonstrating throwing clay in the Kilkenny store - it was amazing to see how easy he made it look! We had to remind ourselves that he was a professional with twenty years experience. We rounded out the afternoon by having a late lunch at the Avoca Cafe which was delicious and it was lots of fun to spend the day with Lesley and Derek! Today we slept in, did a longish run on the path by the river (during which I did my usual routine of getting grumpy with the flippin' Sunday walkers with off leash unwieldy dogs who cannot seem to grasp the concept of getting over to one side of the path to let runners and cyclists pass - grrr!), cleaned the house (well, it's about time!) and then went to church. After the service we went out for coffee with friends which was great. Now it's definitely time to hit the hay!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Churchiness

I hope this is not too inappropriate to post but I really just cannot resist.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

hostels, soul music and shock jocks

Friday night after work we hit the road to go up to the north coast and spent one night at our favourite luxury accommodation in NI - the Whitepark Bay Hostel! It's a lovely place with its own private beach, rooms with views of the coast and a spotless kitchen for self catering. It also doesn't hurt that it's relatively cheap. We were even fortunate enough to have dry weather . No, not hot, but this 'summer' (using the term loosely here!) we counted ourselves lucky to have a day without rain!

We came home on Saturday afternoon in time to go to see a gig at the Waterfront - Foy Vance put on a great show and it was a really good night out with our friends. If you can get your hands on Foy Vance's debut album 'Hope' do so (I don't know if he's available yet on Itunes in North America.) Stu and I are liking it! Right this very minute as I blog before bed I am listening to Amy Winehouse's album Back to Black - I know I'm not being very cutting edge here with this announcement but it's good (just bought it yesterday - gotta love the instant buys with Itunes!)

Hmmm . . . What else did I want to chat about tonight after yet another long gap in blogging (blame the 'summer' I say!)? Oh yes, in between work and the other usual stuff of life I am on a mission to find the East Belfast woman who was commissioned to knit a sixteen foot scarf for Tom Hanks new movie City of Ember that is being filmed here in Belfast. Bizarre and cool I say. I have it on good authority (Stuart who heard the interview) that she was interviewed on BBC Radio Ulster's Stephan Nolan show last Friday (for those of you who don't know, Stephen Nolan is Northern Ireland's resident 'shock jock' and for me is like nails on a chalk board or something else decidedly unpleasant!) . . . I know, I know - it should be simple enough to find out more (I'm wondering if she has a EB Stitch 'n' Bitch) but I just can't bear the thought of listening to a whole hour and a half of the show in order to hear her story. Here's where my devotion to the craft of knitting is really put to the test!