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 . . .