Thursday, February 28, 2008


It was a brush with fame for 'wee jul from Belfast' today. Perhaps I should explain . . . This evening after work we were driving home listening to BBC Radio 2's drive time show with the infamous ginga Chris Evans (pictured left). It's a pretty good show, if a bit middle aged just by virtue of being on Radio 2. I often listen when cooking dinner.

Anyway, as a regular feature on the show Mr Evans plays a new single and then listeners text in to vote if it's a hit or miss. Well, whadda ya know but the featured single tonight was from the very great Josh Ritter!! Delighted for the one and only Josh to get such mainstream exposure, I could scarcely contain myself. Ever the groupie, I immediately texted in to express my adoration which is hardly a secret. Anyhoo, to my delight my little old text was read out to the whole of the UK by 'What's in your locker cocker' Jonny! AND I am pleased to report that Josh's single was declared a sizzling hit (as if there were ever any doubt.)

Oh, and while we're on the topic, I should note that Josh Ritter and his band will be playing in none other than Saskatoon tomorrow night - giving me yet another reason to plead homesickness!!

I fear I sound like a bit of a fanatic.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Year of the Dog is a good flick. Stu was out working for the man last night and I was still sick-o so I enjoyed an evening with a DVD of my choice. Usually when I'm on my todd I pick something really syrupy that Stu couldn't bear, but this time I was wishing he'd been home to watch too. I think it's a really clever depiction of human relationships - laugh out loud at points and also poignant. The dog bits made me smile and admittedly think of my dog loving family (they're canine crazy but in a good way.) Molly Shannon (who I love) is in a more serious role than usual - kindof like Will Farrel in Stranger Than Fiction (which I also love.) So that's my pick of the day.

Speaking of movies, I cannot wait for Once to come out on DVD. We meant to go in the cinema but somehow didn't manage it. Since then many friends have Facebooked me to say how much they love it. I (along with a great many others in Ireland and beyond, I would imagine) thought that Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's acceptance speeches at the Oscars were so lovely. Stu bought the soundtrack today and I am enjoying it so.

Things otherwise are good - after much coldy-ness I feel more energetic today than I have in a while. Stu's rents came over for an early dinner prepared by the Stu which was lovely. Haven't seen them in a while and it's always good to catch up. I tried to convince my mother-in-law to join Ravelry - Facebook meets fiber arts is basically my idea of heaven and I am a recent and evangelical convert.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Home comforts

I've been sick since Wednesday. The weekend was a bit unremarkable, considering that since I got home from work on Friday afternoon I only managed to leave the house twice - each time for the requisite 10 minute video store run. In short, there was some quality duvet time. I've been reading Notes from an Exhibition and coercing Stu to watch an unholy amount of LOST. I keep thinking he must find me boring, but he's good like that.

This afternoon I was feeling particularly sorry for myself and thought really there's only one thing for it. My Grandma Broten was the original domestic goddess, expert in the ways of comfort food. One of her many specialties was a massive pot of delicious rice pudding. After a couple of hours of stirring and simmering it was simply perfect (any B's out there in the blogosphere I'm sure you'll agree.) Anyway, I found this Delia recipe which is a baked version that only requires minimal stirring (I was busy, afterall, bonding with the sofa.) Grandma would've approved.

Feel the love

This is a happiness inducing clip. His name is Hero.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Get your thermals on!

Coming in just shy of one year in the making (how sad is that!?) I am delighted to report that Thermal is now a fait accompli - and a pretty cool one at that! The various pieces of the sweater in various stages of completeness have been making me feel guilty for a good while now . . . It's not that I haven't been knitting (not to mention spending way too much time on Ravelry), I just haven't been knitting this.

Anyway, on a particularly warm day a couple of weeks ago I realised that if I didn't get in gear I wouldn't be wearing this cosy little number (or completing my first Knit-a-long for that matter) until next winter. So, over the past few evenings, helped along by season three of LOST, I have been working away and last night did some dreaded sleeve sewing. Job done :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The wheels on the bus . . .

In his speech at our wedding Stuart described me, among many other glowing accolades it should be noted, as patient. I remember my sister later remarking at the humor in this as the groom's depiction of his beloved didn't wholly resonate with my family's experience of their sister and daughter - a few short months into our married life I think Stu would've heartily agreed with the sisterly assessment. While I am often up beat and enthusiastic (I like to think), I lean to the hyper side of life and admittedly am not very patient.

These traits have re-revealed themselves to me recently on my daily commute. Waiting for a bus can cause my blood pressure to spike - a worrying situation since, being license-less and fairly green, I rely heavily on public transport to get around. Generally Belfast's pink buses are my friends, but the dreaded 4a cannot seem to arrive on time EVER which really winds me up!! As I stand waiting (and stewing) I imagine all the things I am going to say to the bus driver to express my righteous disapproval, but basically I'm both polite and chicken sh*$ so I just end up paying for my ticket and saying 'thank you' slightly more quietly than usual.

While we're on the topic of buses I just want to publicly ask why so many twits (there's no other word for them) feel compelled to wear such cheap headphones that basically pump a tinny version of what is no doubt already bad music into the public bus space - especially before 8am!! This morning I was shooting dirty looks right, left and centre but to no avail (again with the blood pressure . . .) Yes, for those of you who didn't know already, I have officially outed myself as a ginger ball of rage . . .

Monday, February 11, 2008

And now for something completely different . . .

Oh, what, oh what did we ever do before the wonders of the internet?? So full of useful and insightful material to sharpen the mind and enrich the soul - such as this Cute Overload website (example pictured above) that my dear friend Sara C (aka the domestic goddess) showed me on the weekend. I mean really.

Well friends, Monday's over and here's hoping you're feeling in top form . . . (That reminds me of a story - A man at work the other day asked me, 'How's the form?' which for all you non-UKers means simply, 'How are you?' Problem being I heard, 'How's the farm?' which didn't really make much sense to me - Let's just say that kind of thing happens to me a lot. I'm sure my new colleagues think I'm very strange) . . . Anyhoo, I for one am happy Monday's down and am in relatively good form thank you very much.

I spent the day in a course on policy development which was very interesting (I'm not kidding.) After work I decided to reacquaint myself with my new gym that I have been neglecting lately. By the way, if you're reading this from somewhere in East Belfast and are feeling the need to flex your pipes, I am strongly recommending Pure Fitness. It's fab. After the gym we had some Moosewood sweet and sour lentils for dinner (very good actually) and soon we're going to watch the latest episode of Damages which Stu and I are very much into. In short, a very good day up until five minutes ago when I realised that I knit an entire beanie in the wrong sized needles. I knew the evil Monday gremlins would get me yet!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Devil Wears Swing Coats?

In my head I have a vision of a sexy, funky new look for the blog. I have been thinking that it's high time for Always Paddle to be treated to a makeover but when I had a go at picking a new template on Blogger tonight (which, thanks to my limited programming skills is just about the height of the sexy, funky new look) nothing jumped out. That is to say, none of the different vibes little Always tried on for size were really her (yes, APYOC is now a she - a blog personified!) Apparently the hot new thing in blogging is Tumblr, and Wordpress comes highly recommended, but I don't really like the idea of changing my address (confusing for the fans you know) and I'm definitely not sophisticated enough to redirect web traffic! Anyway, watch this space and don't be shocked one day if you flick on and find Always Paddle all decked out in fishnets and stilettos (or something.)

Speaking of fashion, bear with me while I go on a fair to middlin' rant about the fickle-ness of this age! Perhaps I should explain. This morning in between breakfast with friends and lunch with family (that's the life), Stu and I grabbed a bit of must-have weekend newspaper time at Starbucks. I, for one, was especially pleased to discover that the supplement magazine this week is Observer Woman. (I'm equally happy when it's Observer Food, somewhat happy when it's Music and non-plussed when it's Sport - who's with me?)

So getting down to my rant, I was merrily reading along sipping my extra hot skinny bevy (as you do) brushing up on the latest handbags and heels (none of which I actually have mind you) when I came to an article detailing what's hot and what's not for spring. Keen to be cutting edge (or at least not officially dorky) in '08, I read on. Annoyingly (and rather unsurprisingly) the article catalogued items that were bang on trend last year that now we're all supposed to chuck out! I mean, I had a pretty good idea that the whole faux-maternity smock thing couldn't last for ever (and to be honest I'm a bit relieved after living in fear for too long of someone offering me inappropriate congratulations) but I for one thought we could get at least one more season out of those adorable swing jackets! Apparently the fashion gods would have otherwise.

Flipancy (somewhat) aside, the article raised my hackles (not to mention my suspicions) as the thought dawned on me that maybe (just maybe) these mag publishers are getting more than a pat on the back for recommending all these to-die-for new products. As I finished my latte, the article left me considering the ills of our consumption culture (oh, and also wondering just what exactly is a tea dress anyway??)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Girl Friday

Yo ho ho - It's Friday!! I have a vivid memory of the not so stellar radio station in my home town playing this song on Friday mornings midst much obnoxious bells and whistles (they probably still do.) Anyway, I kind of felt like that today.

Speaking of radio stations, I was thinking it would be fun to work at one. But actually, I am probably thinking it would be fun to be like Roz on Frasier (one of Stu's favs, btw) and it would be nothing like that in real life. Let's just chalk it up to Friday day dreams.

I note that my good friend Santosh is up to 150 hits a day on his blog! I am going to have to pump up the jam big style on the regular posting. Stu suggested that I style myself as a Canadian Slugger O'Toole (check it out if you want a window into the somewhat warpedness of NI politics and current affairs!) I could feature a collection of random Candian news stories - his suggestion was prompted by me sending him all manner or links throughout the day to good to know news stories like this one.

Switching track completely (forgive me, it's Friday), we christened our slow cooker yesterday. I feel kind of 70's using it. I cooked a marinated Asian chicken recipe from a new book The Gourmet Slow Cooker II and so far I am positive. The chicken was super tender and moist and it was really nice to know that dinner would be ready when we got home from work apart from making rice and stir-frying some greens. I had read some not so positive comments online about minging (read gross) recipes and watery concoctions so that's why I was careful when choosing the cookbook (aren't I always?) If anyone has any tips or winning recipes fire them my way.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Zen and the Art of Doing Absolutely Nothing

Stu and I are recently back from a great few days in County Mayo on Ireland's west coast. The drive was just over four hours (Canuck readers please note that that's long by UK standards!) but it was worth every kilometre when we arrived for a much appreciated dose of relaxation, posh style. The hotel and spa came complete with fuzzy white robes and slippers and if that doesn't say la-tee-da I don't know what does! We really love Westport - it's a lovely town in a stunning setting. Being that it was a mid-week break in February the hotel was super quiet and Stu and I noticed that it was just us and the pensioners enjoying our Irish breakfast each morning but being that we're not exactly party animals, we were okay with that.

It's back to life as usual today, but I'm (unusually) not complaining. Apparently all I need to not be a grumpy stress case is an expensive weekend in a fancy hotel. Who you calling high maintenance?