Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I am fully in love with this One Day Beret Recipe! Finished last night, just in time for some frosty-ish weather here in London. You can use any yarn which is so handy (because, let's face it, we knitters do tend unleash our inner packrats when it comes to wool.) All in all, very easy, quick and rather stylin' if I do say so myself . . .

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Think there's some kind of important game on this weekend?

Booky Wooky

Was thinking back over the past several months and happily realised that I have managed to do enough reading to do a little round-up post for book lovers. In my sleep deprived state (on which I conveniently blame everything these days) I make no promises about the incisiveness of my reviews, but here you go . . .

BB who can always be counted on for great recommendations (book and otherwise) gave me The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney. Historical fiction set in colonial Canada? Yes please! An engaging story so good I read it by the glow of Seb's nightlight in the wee small hours.

Along with stacks of baby gear, I packed a few novels for our trip to Sasky in August. Luckily I included Heartburn (thanks Dwd!) by Nora Ephron, the darkly comedic story of a cookbook author whose husband cheats on her when she's pregnant with her second child (interestingly based on Ephron's real life - poor thing!) Sounds a bit tragic, but it was just the right amount of funny and fluffy for the summer hols. While in Saskatoon I enjoyed seeing Julie & Julia also by Ephron which combined two of my favs - rom coms and cooking! Can't go wrong.

Shortly after moving to the big(ger) smoke, I indulged my yearning for all things Belfast by finally reading Number 5 by Glenn Patterson, local Norn Iron author who we used to spot frequently on our beloved Belmont Road. I really enjoyed this story (ready Selfy's review here) of one house in Belfast spanning five decades and five families. I was particularly impressed how the story spans and touches on the Troubles without being exclusively about them.

Later in the fall I turned to a little bit of crime fiction by devouring Kate Atkinson's mini series of Case Histories and One Good Turn. I must confess here to developing a little crush on super sleuth and all round cool guy with hard luck, Jackson Brodie. Excited to have read something that Stu might actually enjoy, I excitedly passed them on but I think he found them kindof blah.

Not sure what this reveals(!), but lately I seem to have read a few angst ridden, slightly depressing books about marriage including The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller (yes, DwD the ending was weird), The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller (do you think she gets tired of being described as daughter or Arthur and wife of Daniel D-L?) and The Family Tree by Carole Cadwaladr. I think I would describe all three as good but definitely not great.

And that brings me to now, where I am unusually in the midst of reading some non-fiction. Stu enjoyed A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller so much that I had to give it a try. Perhaps best described as a kind of 'spiritual memoir' this book makes you think about the kind of story you're living. Deep stuff man.

Of course, an Always Paddle blog post wouldn't be complete without a food reference (or two!) and so I bring you our cookbook of the autumn, China Modern by Ching-He Huang. I have had it on repeat loan from our local library for several weeks now and have enjoyed several good dishes.

So that's the run down! Now on the hunt for titles for the Christmas season and 2010 - leave me a comment with your top tips . . .

Cool Dude

Big news - I've rediscovered my knitting mojo! I know it's obvious, but my new revelation is that teeny tiny baby knitting is speedy speedy - fun to see a project come together quickly, especially when I only have a bit of time each night to put my feet up with a cuppa and do some stitching (I know, queue new mom sympathy violins here).

So anyway, I now present to you the oh so handsome Sebbie modeling his new Kiddie Cadet! Cool pattern and very easy, save perhaps the wrap and turn which took my sleep deprived brain a while to cotton on to. Now on the needles is the One Day Beret Recipe (ahem, taking me more than one day) which can be done with any yarn so seems like a great way to use up those wayward extra skeins.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We interrupt this programme . . .

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I suddenly realised that it has been the guts of half a year since I've blogged! Crikey . . . I hadn't intended to take a maternity leave from blogging (I guess you could call it that) but somehow computer time has dwindled between giving birth, moving countries, traveling to Canada and just generally learning to be a parent. Oh, and did I mention the several hundred diapers and night feeds?

But anyway, the lull in posts was always meant to be temporary and I'm feeling ready to re-enter the blogosphere, this time accompanied by the amazing Seb who is now just over five months! We'll make more of an effort to find some time to post in between enjoying our days together in London while Stu's out earning our keep. And just in case you haven't seen the gazillion pictures of him on Facebook (I use having grandparents in two countries as an excuse to take ludicrous amounts of photos), here's one of him from this morning, modelling his Child's Placket Sweater which I just finished last night. Toodle pip!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sir Noblee has arrived!!

Seb and Mommy a few hours after his arrival

Family photo before leaving the hospital

Seb just after birth - love the hair!

Seb - 4 days old

Introducing to the blogosphere the gorgeous Sebastian John Noble!! Our Seb was born at 3:42 am on Saturday, 13th June 2009, weighing 6lbs 15oz! We had a water birth which was an amazing experience (will spare you the details!) and I can hardly say enough positive things about our time at the Ulster Hospital's 'Home from Home Suite' and the wonderful mid-wives and other staff who looked after us.

The days have gone by so quickly since Seb's arrival - it is hard to believe that he is already a week old! We have had a couple of sleepless nights (I turned to Stu at 5am the first night home and said, 'So people really weren't joking about the no sleep thing!') but overall the breast feeding, sleeping and diaper changing routine is going really well. Stu's mum and dad are experienced grandparents who have been total angels in providing support - feeding us and ensuring we've gotten extra naps during the day as we are adhering to the 'sleep when Seb sleeps' philosophy at this point! Grandma and Grandpa B land this afternoon in Belfast and the introduction to their grandson is an event that we have all been anticipating for a long time! A friend described their arrival as 'the icing on the happy family cake' which I thought was rather nice :)

We think Seb's a wee star and about a billion times cuter than we ever imagined so we are spending any downtime just having fun gazing at him (I think 'besotted' is a good descriptor of us at this point)! Snap happy Daddy Stu has been giving his camera and our new Flip a good workout and Stalkerbook has been working overtime with all our pics. Should also mention that already in just one short week the main man has acquired some quality nicknames including Seb, Sebbie, Baby Seba (a Spanish feel compliments of his Auntie Ninny), The Sebinator, Sebastiano, Sir Noblee and Baby Seabass (as suggested by rugby fans BB and Rickshaw!)

I am guessing my already neglected blog might become a bit more neglected in the weeks ahead, but will do my best to post again soon (realistically more baby pics!)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Drama drama drama

Who knew parliamentary politics would ever get so exciting!?! My (somewhat fuzzy) poli sci brain has been enjoying ongoing analysis of week upon week of shocking expenses stories. Now in the latest twist the Labour Party is fixing to devour itself with a beleaguered Gordon Brown as the main course. Commentators like the BBC's bespectacled Nick Robinson are busy, busy, busy (and thanks to Stu since being off I have also discovered Simon Mayo's afternoon show which features great political interviews and analysis.)

As if that weren't enough, politics junkies will have more fun tomorrow with local and European elections across the UK - here in NI it's just the EU elections (which don't seem to be about Europe at all) and after managing only just to control my blood pressure while watching the Northern Ireland Politics Show earlier this week, let's just say I know who I won't be supporting!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hello Sunshine

How awesome is this weather? In a shocking turn of events, we have been having a run of gorgeous sunny days in Belfast, with each day improving upon the next! I have to say, after many months of Irish rain and darkness, it's really delightful to see blue sky and feel warmth in the sun's rays.

People get positively giddy when the sun shines here. Was contemplating this earlier, and I think the Northern Ireland reaction to the arrival of warmer weather is slightly different from the reaction of Saskatchewanians emerging from the long months of snow and ice. While Canadians are so filled with relief and joy to come out of the deep freeze, in Northern Ireland there is a special phenomenon where people go absolutely 'buck mad' indulging in summer-ness, knowing (fearing!!) that these meager handful of hot days might actually be the only ones we get. I shouldn't even type that thought, but after two consecutive wet wet wet summers, I consider myself a realist.

Should also mention (at the risk of sounding mocking - all said in love of course!) how fantastically British people do summer - women do well with the rays bringing out lots of lovely summery dresses and skirts that usually only get their airing on hols in Spain or France - but have to say the men take the cake! Around Belfast yesterday we spotted lots of examples of unfortunate tattoos on show (mad props to Stu for the cracking shot!) and also the eternal sin of the dreaded black socks with shorts. Wrong on so many levels!

So anyway, keen to make the most of the balmy climes, we headed to Stu's parents' back garden for a lovely lunch and requisite lounging with the Sunday newspapers.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blog Interrupted

It's been a while huh? Sometime several weeks ago life got in the way of my blogging and then surprisingly, despite the two and a half satisfying years with APYOC, I got a bit shy. Was trying hard to think of something good to re-launch the relationship, and well, the pressure just got too much . . .

So what's the update then? I can hardly claim that I haven't had time, as I am now officially on maternity leave and leading the luxuriant life of a lady of leisure. I think this period would be aptly described as the 'calm before the storm' and, while I know that soon and very soon the (baby) sh*$ will hit the fan (in about two weeks actually) it is lovely every morning not to have that obnoxious alarm clock sounding telling me to get up and att'em. It's been a great mix so far of napping, coffeeing and lunching with friends and nesting (aka organising and cleaning our house, which, let's be honest, was long overdue!) People keep asking me if we're 'ready' for our new arrival - not sure if we ever will be, but the good news is that we now have a place for the little person to sleep, and even some clothes and diapers for him or her to wear. Game on.

There now. That wasn't so hard. Promise to write again soon x

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Night in Belfast


That's Bull

I especially like the shot of the farmer being chased down the aisle!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Credit where credit is due

Had a quality experience at the cinema tonight. Stu and I went to Flash of Genius starring the excellent Greg Kinnear at our beloved QFT. Based on a true story, it tells the tale of Dr Bob Kearns, inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper and his long battle with Ford for proper credit for his creation. It was both sad and inspiring to watch as Kearns' becomes obsessed with seeking justice in his case - sad as his quest became his highest priority eclipsing his family and previously happy life, but inspiring as we felt ourselves rooting for the underdog in this David and Goliath type tale. Kinnear is very good at playing a tortured soul and other strong cast members include Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls fame, an appearance by my favourite, Alan Alda and also Dermot Mulroney who has a nice voice.

While we're on the topic of movies though, I should mention that the pre-movie ads were particularly unpleasant tonight - a hateful (and misogynistic as usual) Lynx ad was sandwiched by two gruesome public service announcements which I think are unique to Northern Ireland (if you've seen any of these, you'll know what I'm talking about . . . queue creepy ghost child voice, 'You forgot the battery Mommy . . . ')

Anyhow, there are a few goodies coming up on the QFT programme that we hope to get to - gotta get in those cinema visits now before Baby's arrival and we are sequestered to the house! In the Loop has gotten good reviews, and I am also keen to see the documentary American Teen. The amazing Waveriders and delightful Son of Rambow are both showing again and we'd be tempted to give them a second look.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

This made me smile :)

Not being a regular Britain's Got Talent watcher, it took me until tonight to watch this - warm fuzzies abound!!

“The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.”

If I had a penny for every time people have advised us in recent weeks to take advantage of every piece of free time for relaxing and enjoying ourselves now, well, I'd have a lot of pennies. Because apparently, after D-Day (which is, ahem, actually approaching quite quickly) life as we have known it for the past six years together, will officially end!! We are bracing ourselves as reading, cinema going, eating out and the extravagant luxury of sleeping are on the list of things that don't really jive with a teeny tiny Baby . . . Oh, and obviously a weekend getaway at a nice hotel.

So when we went trawling on the internet for a little vacay deal, Easter weekend at the Knockranny House Hotel in our beloved Westport (pics compliments of Stu of course) seemed like the perfect solution. And it was. We had a lovely time really chilling out and even were treated to some lovely spring sunshine. The deal also included a spa treatment for the mom to be (yes, I've apparently started referring to myself in the third person) which was an added bonus. By the end of the trip I was so relaxed, I was bordering on comatose! Remind me of this in about three month's time would ya?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mon Mome, I love you

I am generally clueless when it comes to organised sports. I am something of a disappointing Canadian as I don't really know anything beyond the very basics about hockey, football or baseball. And I have to confess to being even more daft when it comes to sports in Ireland and the UK - highly significant events in the annual calendar of football (soccer) and rugby pass me by, and I am even worse when it comes to Gaelic football. I once asked a woman at work who mentioned that her daughters were into camogie if that was a martial art . . . errrrr, that would be no.

So, not being much of a sports fan (or a gambler for that matter) it will come as no surprise then to you that I don't follow horse racing all that closely! However, when the envelope comes around the desks periodically at work with the chance to throw in a pound to draw a horse for the chance to win, I just can't resist. Recently for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, I tried my luck on Barber Shop who was a loser in the end, despite being owned by the Queen! And on Friday for the Grand National, when I drew a horse with odds of 100-1 I was disheartened and thought that once again I had wasted my hard earned pound.

But luck was a lady for me on the weekend and I was delighted when my Mon Mome won me a windfall of £40!! The only annoying thing is that I've always said I'd like to go to one of the seedy betting shops seemingly on every corner around East Belfast to place a bet, just for kicks, and I was sooo wishing I'd gotten a bit crazy and put a bit of dosh on Mon Mome! Baby on the brain, I promptly spent my takings on this lovely changing bag by Pink Lining that I've been eyeing.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Do you trust me?

Last night was girls' night at the movies as edunny and I went to the cinema to see Duplicity. (Stu, being skeptical about the romantic comedy element of the film and otherwise engaged with a meeting anyway, gave it a miss to his detriment.) Both edunny and I being long-time Julia Roberts fans, we were keen to see the starlet's much feted return to the big screen after a few years of momming it. (And I'm not going to lie to you, Clive Owen's dark good looks certainly didn't hurt either - I saw one article where the two romantic leads were referred to as 'on screen eye candy'!) The film also features great contributions from character actors Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti who is most memorable to me from Sideways.

Anyway, all that to say that this slick story of CIA (Roberts) and MI6 (Owen) agents who get involved in intelligence for private companies treated us to a fast moving and entertaining film. It was one of those twisty plots where we didn't really know what was going on for most of the movie, but in a way that kept us paying attention and engaged rather than frustrated. Roberts and Owen's relationship and their difficulties trusting each other which is expressed in almost 1940s style sparring dialogue also plays a big part.

After watching the tale of corporate espionage, we commented to each other that it was pleasingly kindof like a Bourne movie without all the covert killing. I was interested but not surprised then today to read a couple of reviews that identified the director as Tony Gilroy who is responsible for the Bourne Trilogy and Michael Clayton (which I loved and not entirely because of the George Clooney factor!) There is also a definite parallel to be drawn with Oceans 11 in terms of music, tone and pace of dialogue. Is it okay to describe it as a quick, light thriller?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Having a laugh in Dublin town

Yesterday Dublin didn't even know what hit it!! To celebrate the return of edunny to Ireland, we set out bright and early to catch the crack of dawn Enterprise train deal. It was Stu and the ladies as we were joined enroute by downwithdigital (newly christened popomoresara) at the bustling Portadown stop.

Despite a rather windy and wintry feeling day, we managed to stay warm and have a great time eating (any suggestions on how to get BB to forgive us for going to Waga without her greatly appreciated!), drinking (worry not, no Guinness for moi), walking around, snapping lots of photos, laughing very hard, talking quite a lot and just generally soaking up the fair city. We also had the unique pleasure of visiting the National Gallery of Ireland with our own resident art expert dwd!

And the best part?? We still have tomorrow off!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Don't mind me . . . just growing a human!

Fear not and do please keep reading - I'm not going to turn this into a pregnancy blog! But, twenty-eight weeks in (my how time flies when you're having fun) I feel something like an investigative journalist who's eating/breathing/sleeping my topic and I would like to share a couple of observations . . .

One - I can confirm that the pregnant women do indeed need to pee every three minutes. Funny man that he is, Stu recently suggested that I change my Twitter handle to 'AlwaysPiddle'. Hardee har har. At least Dooce knows my pain.

Two - I can confirm that pregnant women do indeed lose their sense of balance. I realised this most recently on the weekend as I bit it big time tripping over a curb while dutifully waiting for a pedestrian walk light. A friendly Belfast cabbie, after enquiring to ensure that I was okay (don't worry, I was!) told me that he usually does this when he's drunk. If only.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top o' the mornin' to you and all that . . .

I, apparently, will go to great lengths for a day off - including moving to a different country!! Today everyone in Northern Ireland (except of course those poor Protestant school children and their teachers) get to enjoy a day off to be green! So far this morning my festivities have hit the dizzying heights of sleeping in, drinking some decaf tea and eating a toasted bagel . . . Stu's doing his utmost to hold me back from the gallons of Guinness :)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tweet Tweet

Well, I've gone and done it! Joined the Twitterverse . . . my identity is (surprise) @alwayspaddle so come and follow me if you dare! Stu has been twitting for ages and, despite my Stalkerbook addiction (don'tcha just love the new format?) I didn't entirely get it. But alas, after my bro recently signed up I decided to take the plunge as I do like to keep track of my peeps!

I'm not going to lie to you - I am well and truly glad it's Friday evening! At the end of a tiring week I made a relatively early exit from work this afternoon which was certainly the way forward. After much discussion about what to do tonight (the world was our oyster!) we ended up hitting Boojum for dins (predictable I know, but I am of the view that if it ain't broke don't fix it!) The intention was to watch the The Lives of Others but instead have ended up half watching Comic Relief, just generally hanging out and spending a good lot of time swapping online sarky comments with friends! I am well and truly wired.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Let me entertain you

It's been a while since I've highlighted any books or movies on APYOC so thought I'd just go big or go home and hit the goodies all in one go.

People have been asking me if I've been knitting for my little Mars bar (who really isn't all that little anymore at about a foot long and just under 2lbs!) Truthfully I haven't done all that much. Even though I'm not dead set on pink or blue, I wonder if perhaps knowing the sex would've spurred me on a bit more when it comes to picking colours and patterns. Anyway, all that's about to change, because when I was home my Auntie A thoughtfully gave me a new knitting pattern book Baby Beanies by Aussie knitter and photographer Amanda Keeys which is full of darling designs! Can't wait to get started (and yes B, book is soon coming your way for some juicy new KD ideas!)

The one positive of all the time spent on planes during the last week was that I was afforded the luxury of some uninterrupted reading time! My top pick (which, come to think of it, I actually read before I left) is a short story collection titled Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. Really amazing - even though I don't usually go for short stories, each one quickly drew me in with empathetic characters and unexpected plot turns. I loved reading Lahiri's The Namesake during my summer hols and don't know why it took me so long to get around to this collection! Mad props to DwD for the recommendation :)

So what did I actually read during my travels? I am nearly finished The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff which is a murder mystery set in a polygamous sect in Utah which skips between the 1800's and the modern day. Although it hasn't exactly rocked my world, it satisfies a weird fascination I have with polygamy (don't take that the wrong way) and while being a fictional account, it details quite a lot of history about early Mormonism. While mooching about in airports, I also picked up The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry which has received rave reviews and Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner because every girl needs a bit of chick lit now and again!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that my travel time included a significant amount of film watching. Good old Air Canada must be upping its game because for the first time I had an individual screen on my long flight and, as you might have guessed, a movie watching binge ensued!! A couple have been on my list for a while but I hadn't managed to drag Stu to the QFT to see them yet. Rachel Getting Married is the story of a recovering drug addict who leaves rehab to attend her sister's wedding - while I think the film in general perhaps went on a bit, Anne Hathaway is fantastic playing this character which is so different from the sparkley and pure personalities of The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada.

I also had a chance to see Il y a longtemps que je t'aime (I've loved you for so long) which earned Kristin Scott Thomas a best actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a woman released from prison after 15 years for the murder of her young son. Both of these films are harrowing, but manage to portray humanity in the midst of their dark subject matter.

So, there you have it - some of my picks! Have you knit, read or watched anything good lately??

Bizkit the Sleep Walking Dog

After a week with my family's fabulous dogs, Oscar and Cleo, I appreciated this clip!! Poor Bizkit :)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dazed and Confused

Well, here I am - back at my Mac in Belfast after a very quick visit home to Sasky. Was told by some of my *fans* (you know who you are Dr Nico) when I was home that I should get back onto blogging so figured there is no time like the present!

Had a wonderful time catching up with family and friends, lunching and coffeeing my way through the week! Time flew - and my suitcase came home a little bit heavier with some gorgeous gifts (including two fabulous handmade blankets - thank you!!!) for Baby BN :) Among many good days at home, other highlights included family dinner at my sister and bro-in-law's new place, visiting my bro in the Leg and celebrating International Women's Day by going for a truly luxurious pedicure with my mom, sister-in-law and sister. It was awful as usual to say goodbye but was somewhat comforted by the thought that my mom and dad are headed this way in June to meet their first grandchild! Some pictures from the week will be forthcoming but I was (*sniff*) without my personal photographer so the collection will be a bit sparser than usual!

Tonight I am waiting for Stu to get home (returning to an empty house was a bit of a bummer) and feeling slightly more human after some sleep and a shower - funny how after travelling for nearly 20 hours it's the little things that make all the difference! On my flight from T dot O dot to London I sat beside a lovely young woman and one of the cutest babies eva who were travelling to Pakistan - I decided I shouldn't complain about the length of my trip and I was also emboldened (sortof) about the not-to-distant future prospect of travelling with our own little one!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nothing says love like banana pancakes

I am not going to lie to you - Rachel Allen's Fruity Pancakes from Rachel's Food for Living makes for a seriously delicious stack. In the spirit of all things lovey dovey, I made them for Stu yesterday morning (an no, I didn't even think to attempt the heart shapes!)

Fruity Pancakes - makes about 12 pancakes

150g plain flour (about 1 cup)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
25-50g caster sugar
2 eggs
125ml buttermilk (I add about 1 tbsp lemon juice to regular milk. I also added a bit of extra milk at the end to get the batter to the right consistency.)
25g butter, melted
fruit of your choice, about 150g in total, or 2 small bananas, mashed
sunflower oil

Step 1: Sift the floour, baking powder and soda together in a bowl. Add the caster sugar and mix.
Step 2: In another bowl whisk the eggs, then add the buttermilk and melted butter. Pour this into the dry ingredients, whisking as you add it in. The batter is ready to use now or may be stored in the fridge overnight.
Step 3: If you are using mashed banana, fold it in just before you want to cook the pancakes.
Step 4: Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and oil it very lightly. Drop large spoonfuls of pancake batter into the hot pan. Leave plenty of space between them as they spread while cooking. If you want to add other fruit, such as berries, do so now. Don't mix it in, just place it on top of the cooking batter.
Step 5: Cook for 1-2 minutes on the frist side until bubbles appear on the upper surface, then use a fish slice or something similar to turn the pancakes over and finish cooking on the second side for another couple of minutes until golden brown. Cook all the pancakes this way. Serve wisth sliced strawberries, maple syrup and bacon!

While we're at it, I would also like to give Rachel (I'm a bit of a fan) mad props for the Mediterranean Pasta Bake in her new book Bake. I made it last week (extra points for getting all the right cheeses and some nice chorizo from Sawers) for dinner one evening and it was very tasty, not to mention super easy.

Mediterranean Pasta Bake - Serves 6

100g chorizo, finely sliced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
500g penne pasta
2 x 400g tinned tomatoes, chopped
175ml boiling water
175ml double cream
50g chopped spring onion
2 tbsp chopped basil
50g capers
100g olives, pitted and chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper
1 tsp caster sugar
75g soft goat's cheese, crumbled
150g Gruyere cheese, grated
75g cheddar cheese, grated

30cm x 23cm oven proof dish

Step 1: Preheat oven 200c
Step 2: In a frying pan set over a high heat, cook the chorizo with the olive oil for 2 minutes and drain.
Step 3: In a large bowl, mix together the dried pasta with the tomatoes, the boiling water and cream. add the chorizo and then the spring onion, basil, capers, olives and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and the sugar.
Step 4: Place the mixture in the ovenproof dish and scatter over the three cheeses, making sure the pasta is completely covered, then bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until the pasta is cooked and the sauce golden and bubbling. Cover with foil after 30 minutes if it begins to dry out.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

'The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.'

BIG NEWS folks . . . it snowed in Northern Ireland last night!!!

I just watched the evening news, and I quote, 'Let's take a look a the blizzard like conditions that turned people's journeys to work into HELL . . . ' At the risk of sounding all Canadian and superior-like when it comes to weather (which I do all the time and drives Stu nuts!) . . . errrrr not so much. Despite my light-hearted mockery, I will 'fess up to joining my colleagues in watching the flakes from our office window throughout the day and this morning I opted for the very late (even more than usual) bus rather than drive to work on the slippery roads (but in truth that's probably more due to the fact that I'm still a bit R-plate shaky!)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Breath Icy

As I type this Stu is watching Ice Road Truckers. He thinks it's a nice way to stay connected with Canada but as you might guess if you've seen it, it's not really my cup of tea. I think it's scary (because of the expanse of the frozen Arctic and the crazy rednecks who star in it.)

I am reading Digging to America by Anne Tyler on the recommendation of a friend from work. So far I am really enjoying it. The only other Anne Tyler I've read is Breathing Lessons a few years ago which I thought was excellent. I think she describes the complexities of family relationships very well.

A few friends have tagged me lately challenging me on Facebook to write 25 interesting things about myself. I wonder if I can come up with that many things that would actually be interesting without sounding poncy. Being extremely nosey I love reading other people's entries so will have to give it a try myself.

I have gone on another cooking spree this afternoon - somebody might have to step in soon as my nesting/domestic streak seems to be in overdrive!! On the bright side our freezer is now well and truly stocked with beef curry, fragrant chicken spinach curry, spinach dahl, two (yes, two) lasagnas and a batch of oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Today wasn't what you'd call a good day for Northern Ireland.

Today we discovered that more than a few mice have moved into our office and I am not loving the idea of a bunch of rodent office workers tap tap tapping on the keyboards a la Ratatouille . . . although it does bring new meaning to the phrase 'stuck in the rat race'.

Today we were privileged to visit another gorgeous baby. My friend N's little imp Oisin is now over a stone and almost three months old!

Today we had hardshell tacos for dinner. 'The baby' loves Mexican food.

I wonder what will happen tomorrow?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

23 hours old

Meet the beautiful Emily - our brand new niece, born yesterday evening to the delight of her grandparents, aunties, uncles, excited cousins and champion older brother! (Less than one day old and Emily thoughtfully bought her brother a new fire engine as an 'I'm here' gift which we thought was very clever of her!) Our house continues to be all abuzz with excitement about all things baby as we had the pleasure of visiting the hospital to meet her tonight and she is just gorgeous! (Meanwhile, Stu and I will try not to freak ourselves out too badly over the thought of having one of our own to care for!) Mom and Dad are doing well too so good news all around :)

Monday, January 26, 2009

My little Mars Bar

I had a great Monday!!! This morning we had our 20 week scan and I am still smiling thinking of the amazing experience. Slightly nervous and very excited, Stu and I looked intently at the computer screen trying to decipher different body parts from the grey and black lines and curves wiggling about on the screen. During the scan the sonographer kindly took lots of time while measuring and checking around to explain different aspects of our baby to us - she pointed out facial features, thigh bones and arm bones and four ventricles in the little heart which was pumping away (but no gender hints which was good with us because we do love a good surprise!)

When I asked how big the baby was, she said, 'about the size of a Mars bar' which struck us both as funny! In addition to a kidney bean, a size 5 shoe and a honey dew melon, we have now added that sweet descriptor to the whole host of great comparisons that have been drawn to describe the baby's size at various stages!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Seventh Day

For all you LemonLyman.com fans out there I thought I would post this story about the inspiration for Josh and the official new White House hottie (as if there was ever any doubt . . . ) Hey, who you callin' shallow? And, in the event that you're not completely Obama'd out after last week (I'm not), check out this fantastic slideshow that Stu found of Obama's people.

Have had an absolutely vunderbar Sunday - truly full of rest. After church we indulged in our usual ritual of coffee, toast and newspapers where upon I carefully purused the Observer Food Monthly, somehow managing to not tear the magazine into tiny pieces after reading this article which for some unquantifiable reason I found intensely annoying (recurring theme with the Guardian, I have to admit, even though it's hands down my favourite paper!) Anyway, I was pleased to find this lovely recipe for White Chilli which I made tonight. Very flavourful (not to mention easy and cheap) - perfect for winter's evening and, I have to say, kindof fun to start a recipe with a bottle of beer!