Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's Fall!

James and I made apple crumble last night (he's an expert crumble maker after a crash course with his aunt:

And then tonight we carved pumpkins. Well, he directed and I carved, since he's cuter with all of his fingers attached.

It's also nearly Halloween, which can only mean one thing - that it's my UK-versary. I moved here 2(!) years ago. Remember when I lived in New York? I wasn't a blogger then - I was just one of the zillions of New Yorkers riding the subway and eating out every night. Just like Stowmarket, right?

Media Roundup

I finished reading Two Caravans - A Novel, the sophomore novel from Marina Lewycka. I read her first one - A Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian - and I'm not going to read any more by her. The stories both focus on Ukrainian immigrants in the UK, and how they fall through the cracks or generally get themselves into trouble. I didn't find any of the characters in Caravan particularly appealing, although the storytelling style was interesting. It jumped from character to character in the first person, including 'Dog' (the dog, my favorite character by far). Not a recommended read, unless you really loved the first one.

I also blasted through a Jodi Picoult paperback, "The Tenth Circle." It broke away from her usual 'courtroom drama,' which I really liked. I thought it was going to fall into the same pattern, about halfway through, and then suddenly veered off in a completely different direction.

I'm on to Water For Elephants, recommended by Kristen. So far so good.

The DVD for My Neighbor Totoro finally came in at the library - they'd lost the original copy and had to get a new one in. We watched it with James - he loved Spirited Away and thought Totoro was pretty good too. The last time I watched it was in Japanese with English subtitles - they were translated by someone with a tenuous grip on English, and were extremely funny. This time, it was dubbed in English (it's a cartoon so it wasn't a big deal), and while it was less funny, it's still a great film.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I need matzoh ball soup

I've caught some kind of plague at work and am feeling generally yucky and run-down. I was home, snoozing, all day today.

However, what I REALLY need is some matzoh ball soup. Preferably Liz's aunt's soup, but Sarge's would do. When I lived in Tudor City and was home sick, I'd either order their matzoh ball soup or a noodle soup from Mee Noodles.

I'm going to try again to find matzoh meal somewhere around here - I may have to resort to mail-order. Suggestions appreciated!

Update: Just found Just Kosher. I see some matzoh in my future!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Slow news

It's been slow news in Stowmarket lately. We bought these (parchment, not brown) curtains for our kitchen door/window, since the nights are really starting to draw in and it's our last bare window in the house. I think the in-laws are going to come over with the big drill this weekend and help us install them. They look better in real life than they do in the picture, I promise.

I'm also running up Linux on my super-old (i.e. purchased for me by good ol' Mom & Dad in 1999 when I was a wide-eyed college freshman) computer. It's been through a lot, and Windows XP was NOT kind to it. The hope is to salvage it and then repurpose it as the small boy's computer. I think it's got some years in it yet. It's just trundling through the Linux install now...the closest thing I can use to describe it is a 747 taking off. At least it's enthusiastic, if nothing else.

Oh, and I'm still on my diet. I'm getting there, and I've made a deal with myself that as soon as I can fit into my all-time-favorite gray wool trousers, I'll buy a pair of pants from Boden. It's surprisingly motivating.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Blanket Update

My brother pulled out all the stops for my birthday this year. He asked what I wanted, so I sent him links to some fluffy socks and a pillow made by Manda.

He responded by sending me a Casio Exilim digital camera (pink!), because I had 'admired his when I was home and he thought I'd like my own.' My jaw hit the floor when it arrived - I had absolutely no idea that he was sending something so awesome. I haven't taken many pictures yet because Amazon is being slow with the memory card, but here are two that I took yesterday on the walk into town.

My 4-year-old Canon digital Elph has served me very well - it's the reason I hadn't upgraded cameras before - despite the postage stamp viewing screen and 4 megapixel-ness, it's always taken fantastic pictures and I've used it so much it's like an extension of my arm. Ed and I were talking yesterday on Skype about it - we both realized that we'd had our own cameras when we were 10. I see a gently used Elph in James' future...

The hot air balloon is from Virgin Balloon flights - they run launches from the big playing field in Stowmarket.

These are from the blanket that I've been knitting for a while. I just finished the red wool yesterday, and started in on the cream. It's going to look great on the brown corduroy backing. All I have to do is knit 23 1/2 more squares and then I'm done!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Keep it together, man!

Phew, what a week. We had a crazy long day on Monday, and then I was out Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. John was a fab hubby last night and cooked paella for dinner, which hit the table about 3 minutes after I rolled in (at 8:30) with the 'Hi honey, I'm home!' It was delicious - the chorizo was spicy and the saffron was meaty and the mushrooms and seafood were really good.

This morning, I went to the optometrist. I've been having mondo headaches and eye strain, and was worried that it was something to do with my eyes. About a year ago, I got new glasses with 'prism' in them, which correct my optical equivalent of duck feet. The optician went through my (rather long) history of glasses/contacts/glasses again, and basically said that I have three options. My eyes, when at rest, point in different directions. Apparently everybody's do, but mine are worse than most. He thinks that I was over-corrected at some point (which has been verified by other eye docs), which exacerbated a previously existing condition. Oh, bother.

1. I can carry on getting glasses with progressively stronger prism, until my eyes are pointing in totally different directions.

2. I can have surgery to correct it.

3. I can do 'exercises' that involve shifting focus on a pen in front of my eyes. Basically I have to keep the pen from splitting into two pens (which happens if things get closer than about 10 inches).

We're going to go with option 3, for obvious reasons, but the exercises crack me up. All I can think of is the line in Monsters Inc., where one of the monsters says in a stoner voice to his partner, "Keep it together, man!" I'm working on it, at least.

The good news in all this is that I get to go back to my previous pair of glasses, which I love. They're the same strength as the ones I've been wearing, but without the prism. My eyes are tired today, though.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

It's Blog Action Day, and the theme this year is 'The Environment'. I've got a recap of the things we've done in the last year that make a difference - none of them are hard!

1. Eat seasonally and eat less meat.
Yeah, I know - I'm always on about cooking. We're getting much better at buying things in season - they're cheaper, tastier, and generally better. Can't lose, really.

2. Be a Nalgenie
I'm a little bit mad about my Nalgene bottles - I have my big 'I'm a college student' one and a dinky little one that's much to carry around. They go in the dishwasher once a week or so and make me v. happy.

3. Hang out the laundry
Ok, this one is mostly because we don't have a dryer. But I haven't had a dryer in 2 years and I don't really miss it. We use eco washing liquid, too - it gets most things clean, although if we're doing a particularly grubby load, I cave and use the Fairy tablets.

4. Get a Mooncup (or a DivaCup).
I've been through this one...check it out!

5. Compost and recycle
We've been doing these for a while - I'm psyched for our happy compost to dig the plants into in the spring.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Famine -> Feast

Remember how I said yesterday that I had no books to read? Well, now I have a zillion.

On my list are...

From the library:
1. The Tenth Circle (Jodi Picoult)
2. Dream Angus (Alexander McCall Smith)
3. The Vegetarian Slow Cooker

From my M-i-L:
4 & 5. Two Maeve Binchy books
6 & 7. Two other books that are downstairs that I'm too lazy to go get.
8. A French cookbook from Shoppi

From the book store (with my book tokens - thanks, M!):
9. Seasonal Cooking
10. Suffolk Walks with Kids

Now my problem has become "What to read first?" I think it'll be the library ones, since they have an expiration date. John's going to watch 'The Mummy Returns" tonight - I'm going to dive in to the books!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Cooking and booking

I made Carrot & Lentil soup for dinner last night - it's not for the faint-hearted. There was NO doubt that the soup consisted entirely of carrots, lentils, veggie stock and spices. It was good, although very orange (to be expected, really).

I haven't had a chance to go to the library in almost 2 weeks, which has led to me being 'between books'. I can't even think of the last time that I wasn't reading something, with something else sitting on my nightstand, pushing me forwards. I feel kind of lost, honestly. I have books that I've reserved at the library but they're not in yet. I've also got some book tokens (birthday present from Michelle!!), which I'm going to hang on to until I find something that I REALLY want. I have a bizarre relationship with books - I almost never buy them. I get nearly everything I read from the library. My theory is that if I buy it and like it (like the most recent McCall Smith), I feel compelled to share it with someone else, who then passes it on to someone else, and I never see it again. If I hate it and/or don't finish it, it sits on my shelf reminding me of my failure as a reader and the fact that I wasted how ever many pounds on it. Hmm...I have issues.

My mom sent me a package this week - my (long-lost) horn mouthpiece, the trousers that I bought for John that were the wrong size, and a really funny little book called "Sky My Husband!" It's a book of French idioms translated directly into English (with the real translation underneath) and it's very funny. She's not sure where she got it, but it kind of has 'Grandma' written all over it. My grandparents lived in France for several years around the time that my mom was born, and she kept up with the language for the rest of her life. It's definitely the kind of thing that she would have had. In the words of the book, "C'est vachement chouette." [It is cow-ly owl]. Translation: "It's very cool." Erm, yeah.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The History of Love

I read Nicole Krauss' The History Of Love after reading about it on Alice's blog. I have to admit, I wasn't sure about it, but I wanted to give it a shot. The reviews that I read of it were almost universally positive, with reviewers praising its genius and the 'heartbreaking' and 'perfect' ending. It's basically a novel-within-a-novel about and old Jewish man and a young girl living in New York.

I finished it this afternoon after reading it over the weekend. And I thought it was the most anti-climactic book, with the possible exception of Atonement (another book that everyone ELSE raves about).

When I initially finished it, my first thought was "Ok, how thick am I that I didn't get that at all?" And then I read this review in the New York Times and felt a bit better. Although the reviewer does seems to at least 'get' it, which I didn't.

The best thing I can say about it? That I'm glad I didn't have to read it for a class - there's no way I'd be able to pass a quiz on it.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Moose goes to London

Went to London for the weekend - I was v. productive. On Saturday morning, I went to Paxman Horns, in Southwark. They're one of the world's major french horn manufacturers - here's their showroom.

I loved it. Especially this room with all of their used horns. It felt like they were all sitting there in anticipation of being discovered by 'their' players. The guy in the store also had a great idea about what to do with my horn and the case that's eating the lacquer. We'll see if it works.

Then it was off to Borough Market for lunch with a friend - we wandered around and admired all the food (and ate greek pitta-lamb things for lunch), and then walked over to Tower Hill for the start of our London Walk. This little guy was SO funny - he was just standing there, squalking at us. He obviously had a lot to say.

While our walk was interesting, it wasn't as good as the other one I went on (the Little Venice walk). The subject was Anglo-Saxon and Medieval London, and it was a little scattered. Granted, it's a huge chunk of time to cover and there's not a whole lot left! These two were near the end of the walk - it's the square where the Mayor basically runs London, and it's been the seat of the city's government, with a virtually unchanged format, for centuries. I loved the juxtaposition of the old and new buildings.

Moose and Tiger made the trek with us (and hubby has decided that he's a Fen Tiger - get it, Dad?). Here they are with their snack on Saturday afternoon. They were feeling a little peckish.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I hit the ripe old age of 26 today - yikes! I've had a really great day - John woke me up this morning with some grapefruit juice and birthday cards and presents. I think this year is my best card year ever.

First, from Mom & Dad, this beachy one:

Then, from C, another of the great Curly Girl Design cards (the Tiara one that I have is framed and ready for my wall at work):

John got me a really funny one:

Inside? "So - you thought one of them was attractive... Happy Birthday!" Hahahaha.