Thursday, December 31, 2009

The curse is broken

The women in my family have a problem. It's Yorkshire puddings. They either come out as pancakes, crumpets, or fail completely.

I, however, with a little help from Good Food, successfully made Toad In The Hole (sausages in Yorkshire pudding for the trans-atlantics in attendance) this evening. And, my yorkshires were pronounced "almost as good as mum's and grandma's" by the resident sm. boy.

I'm going to try not to let the success go to my head. I would, though, like to take this opportunity to pronounce the Hile Yorkshire Pudding Curse broken. James did mention that it might have something to do with the fact that I married into a non-cursed family. We'll have to see.

Before the Y.P. extravaganza, we all went to see Avatar in 3D. I was a little worried about it - I tend to get headaches with 3D (and 3D glasses), but after the first somewhat queasy-making hour, I really enjoyed it. A total popcorn movie (a little romance, a little blowing up, a little moralistic preachyness), and lots of fun.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Wintry Pastimes

[Updated: I misspelled "pastimes" the first time around. UGH.]

I have a little problem. I'm addicted to Ravelry. It doesn't seem to matter whether or not I need whatever project it is that I'm lusting after at that particular moment. Like these really awesome fingerless gloves. Handy, right?


Anyone there?

Harumph. I like them. Even though they don't keep my fingers warm.

I've decided that my next project, since I, um, really need another hat, is to make a hat with a snowflake on it. Colorwork. ACK. Which not only means that I need to buy some more yarn (poor me), but that I need to figure out how the whole thing works. Which led me to watch this video on Continental knitting. I've watched it and rewound several times, but I don't think I'm quite there yet.

It's kind of like when I tried snowboarding on a ski vacation once - I'm a relatively good skier and was really irritated by the fact that I was doing the same thing (i.e. getting down a snowy mountainside), but slowly and mostly on my ass. Not that Continental knitting has anything to do with my ass. Ahem.

I have a somewhat alarming pile of books at the moment (a result of the feast-or-famine whims of the Suffolk Library queuing system). I'm part of the way into Edward Rutherfurd's New York, which I'm finding about the same as London. It's relatively compelling, mostly because it's about a place I know so well (and New Ro has the odd cameo...hooray for the Huguenots!).

I'm going to finish it, but I'm not enjoying it anywhere near as much as "the best book I've read recently," Graceling. That link is actually to the author's blog, where she recommended "The Thief." A mark of how much I liked Graceling: since the Suffolk Libraries didn't own a copy of The Thief, I had to...shudder...BUY a copy on I'll recover, eventually. Although I might hold Kristin Cashore personally responsible if I don't like it.

I also read the latest Chris Bohjalian, The Double Bind. Not as good as Midwives (his most famous Oprah-book), but better than some of his more recent books. I quite liked the tie-in with The Great Gatsby, despite not really enjoying Gatsby all that much when I read it. AND he's one of two famous Vermont author that I've actually met. (The other is Jodi Picoult.) My college boyfriend's parents live near Burlington, VT, and are friendly with his family. When I spent Christmas at their house my senior year, he was invited to a party that they threw and I met him. V. nice but talks like he writes, which was a little startling.

I guess rather than feeling guilty for spending all of my time reading and knitting, I should embrace the fact that it's northern Europe in the winter and it's COLD and DARK outside. WOOT!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day!

I love Boxing Day. It's a whole day designed just to recover from the day before. There's none of the New Year's Day pressure to do something virtuous or productive.

I can take pictures of our Christmas ornaments (the Kate Rusby one and our bicycling married couple one that my aunt gave us a few years ago).

I can also take pictures of the sole muffin left over from this morning's breakfast. Apple muffins, found on the interwebs, here at AllRecipes.

We made Christmas dinner yesterday - we had a farm shop goose, Delia Smith's roast winter veggies with herbs, a somewhat "interpreted" version of Good Food's sausage, sage and onion stuffing (I added mushrooms), roast potatoes, and sprouts with bacon. Mmmmm. We've made goose stock and have various yummy leftovers that will be consumed shortly.

I finished reading The Girl Who Played With Fire this week, and it was as good as the first one. I'm trying to ration myself with the third one (since the author is dead and there won't be any more), but I think the epic library reservations queue that I'm now at the end of should help.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Bury Nice Afternoon

I'm obsessed with Ravelry. Not only can I see all the fab things that everyone else is knitting, I get instant feedback on the stuff I'm knitting. Suddenly, knitting has gone from a solitary endeavour to a team sport. WOOT.

So, I've finished the fleece nugget scarf, I am about to start in on another one as a Christmas present, I'm working on a new sweater, and I've just bought some wool to make fingerless mittens. Because, really, what I need are fingerless mittens.

The wool is Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran and I love the color. It's going to look great with my light brown coat.

While I was having the wool photo-shoot this morning, I decided that my Kate & Doris mug needed a little love. There it is, filled with coffee. MmmmSundaymornings.

Yesterday, John and I went to Bury in the late afternoon, to go for a walk in the Abbey Gardens. The winter light on the trees was really pretty - I hate the really short afternoons but I love the flat light for taking pictures. After sufficient photography, I spent far more time and money than I should have in Wibbling Wools (I think I may just set up a tent in the corner of the shop and live there - nobody would notice me).

Then, we went out to an early dinner at Chez Gerard (which was really tasty), and braved the screaming teenagers to see New Moon. I, embarrassingly, really enjoyed the movie. Not so much.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Reviews: Christmas Music

Having been liberated from a previous colleague's taste in schmaltzy pop Christmas music (Do They Know It's Christmas? How could they miss it? You've played the song 12 times so far today!), my iPod has been keeping things festive in my office. Please note: I'm NOT inflicting this on anyone else.

Kate Rusby: Sweet Bells
The peerless Ms. Rusby (whose songs fit v. nicely within my range) sings traditional Yorkshire folk arrangements of the Christmas carols you know (and some you don't). It always reminds me a little of the Sutton Manor versions of Christmas carols, which must seem very strange to outsiders...

Tori Amos: Midwinter Graces
A bunch of really traditional Christmas songs, Tori-fied. She kicks butt. And pianos. The album does rather over-use chimes to invoke church bells, but I'll forgive her.

Benjamin Britten: Ceremony of Carols
Way funkier than people give him credit for. We're rehearsing this for our concert on the 20th (shameless plug!), and I really love it. We're doing the SATB version with organ or piano (I can't remember which), but the recording I have is of the SSAA version, and I have to say I prefer it. My favorite movement: "This Little Babe". The lyrics start out seemingly harmless, but it's sung in a crazy fugue and comes across as complete chaos.

Sesame Street Christmas
We've been through this. I love it. Everyone else thinks I'm crazy. I'm ok with that.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The best camera... the one you have with you. Apparently I'm not alone in the fact that my Casio camera's battery has given up the ghost. I inadvertently let it run down, and it now refuses to charge. Thankfully, Amazon has a zillion in stock (although I'm going to stay far away from the Casio brand one).

We were in the Abbey Gardens just before dusk, so my iPhone had the luxury of taking this picture.

Cross-genre protagonists

I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a few weeks ago. I was a bit wary - there's been so much hype. It took me about 100 pages to get into it, but once I sorted out who the characters were, I was hooked. It's a little more violent than books I usually read, but it had a great sense of the "whodunnit".

I'm almost finished with Graceling, recommended by C (as part of the awesomeness that is Recommendation Sunday), and I was startled by how similar the protagonists are. Both are very strong young women (who don't think of themselves as strong), who have been ostracised because of they way they are. Neither of them are inclined to trust men (or anyone, really).

Anyway, both books are really good. I'm trying to ration Graceling because I'm almost done and I love it. I've just checked the author's website (linked from the title above) and there's a prequel already published and a sequel in the works. WOOT.

The picture is a gratuitous bell-ringing picture (Cotton, last February)...just because. It's cold and wintry.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

We had Stowmarket Thanksgiving last weekend. It was a definite success - the turkey from the butcher (pre-ordered in August, of course) was v. tasty, and all of the sides were both yummy and hot! I was inspired by the NYT stuffing "muffin" suggestion: I made my mom's (NYT circa 1970s) stuffing recipe, John used the blender to mix it together, then we mashed it into a muffin tin and baked it with the rest of the sides after the turkey came out. They were really tasty - crispy on the outside and mushy in the middle.

Because it's cold outside, the knitting has taken hold. I went to Wibbling Wools yesterday and impulse-bought some Rico Pompon yarn. It's a synthetic yarn: cording puncutated by little nuggets of fleece. And when you follow the pattern on the inside of the ball band, makes a scarf like this:

It's kind of fiddly at first, but the result is SO soft. I'm psyched for the end result.

I also had picked out a pattern a few weeks ago for another sweater, and I decided on some yarn. The original pattern is for a now-discontinued mohair yarn. According to the knitting/pattern guru at the store, I can substitute an aran. So I did. It's kind of hard to tell, but it's a charcoal-grey alpaca cotton blend with little flecks of light grey in it. Going to be v. warm and lovely. Once I finish the fleece-nugget scarf, that is.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I sang in the Bach Choir concert in Bury last night. (Come to our next one! Saturday 19th December, Christmas Music, Lavenham)

Because we live 20 minutes away (not including parking the car in Bury), the logistics of coming home between the afternoon rehearsal and the evening concert tend to be sort of complicated. We stayed in Bury and went out to supper with some friends. FWIW, it's the third time I've been to La Tasca, which is inevitably empty, and the service and food were just as bad as last time (and the time before). Consider yourselves warned.

Anyway, because we didn't go home after the rehearsal, I needed to change into my concert outfit between dinner and the performance. Mostly it involved taking my jeans off and putting a dress on - not too complicated. There's not really anywhere good to change in the Cathedral, so I decided to get dressed in the car. Which was parked in the Angel Hill parking lot in the center of town. It was dark and rainy, so there weren't too many people around, and the back windows of our car are tinted. Totally cool.

Except that right after I'd taken my jeans off, as I was wrestling with the dress to put it on, I sat on the car keys. And somehow hit the "panic" button. Which made the alarm go off. Flashing lights, honking horn, the whole thing. Oops.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Finally, Owls!

It's now officially cold enough to start wearing wool again. It was freezing at bells on Tuesday. I'd forgotten how cold it gets in churches when you're just standing around.

I wanted to wear my Owls sweater last weekend, but when I tried it on, John and I agreed that it smelled a It's untreated wool, so it's not really surprising. I soaked and blocked it, and it's ready to go. Thanks to John for the pictures (and Andrew for the camera).

It's strange - I was looking for the tag when I was putting it on, and then remembered that there isn't one. Mostly because I started out with some wool and ended up with a sweater. WOOT.

It was one of the fastest projects I've done, considering how cool the outcome is. I'm tempted to make the same sweater again in a different color, possibly without the owls. There are some others on Ravelry that are pretty tempting, though.

Now we just have to figure out how to get me to STOP wearing it - it's warm and cosy and I'm obsessed with it.

Other things I'm obsessed with at the moment:

- Cooking with apples. Going to try this recipe with the sm. boy for the inlaws (coming for coffee tomorrow)
- Eragon. I'm on the third one and am gutted that there aren't any more (yet).
- Trying to find a tv cabinet that I don't hate. They're all either ugly, too big, too expensive, or just plain wrong. I've come close with this one, though. I think it might still be a bit big. One day I'll find it.

Lost again

I know it's a busy week when I get behind on my rss feeds. And when it took me nearly a full day to notice that the Yankees had won the World Series.

We rented Lost (season 5) last Sunday, and have been watching it in our spare time, which has been surprisingly infrequent. It's definitely a good way to decompress from work, though. You can't think about the Lost plot and have room in your brain for anything else!

I think it's quite entertaining that when I took an improv class in college, one of the first rules they taught us was "Never put yourself on a desert island. You immediately eliminate most of your dialogue and prop options." Apparently not, if you're JJ Abrams.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, October 25, 2009

New Scarf

I can't remember who pointed me to the link, but I'm really psyched to have started in on the Palindrome scarf by Kristin at Silver's Place. I'm knitting it using the leftover skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca that I bought in Rhode Island two years ago. (I finished the sweater and decided it was too big for me, so my mom has it as a dog-walking sweater.)

I'm still trying to pick a pattern for my next sweater project, and there are a few on Ravelry that are strong contenders, but in the meantime, it's knitting season! I think this is going to be really good on the chilly days at work - it'll look great with a white shirt.

I started it while watching Coraline with the boys last night - it was spooky, a little trippy, and quite close to the book. We all really liked it.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Um, yeah. Since I wasn't busy at work or anything, I caught Swine Flu. Too much time spent licking pigs?

I've never had flu before - it was exceedingly unpleasant. The only upside is that I didn't eat for nearly a week, so my skinny jeans fit. Back to eating now, though, and still feeling pretty tired. I'm thrilled not to have a fever anymore, too.

A few weeks ago, John's brother gave us a new digital camera (Christmas/Birthday presents for the Thanks, Andrew!) This is from the inaugural photo shoot, the night before I got sick. John thinks I look great, I think I look...tired. Nice camera, though! And lots more pictures to come once I leave the house, at some point in the next few days.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Aaand she's back!

Work has been a zoo. All I've wanted to do after getting home every day is collapse in a heap on the couch with a cup if tea and a book.

As a result, I've been doing quite a bit of reading. I finished Wuthering Heights, and while I didn't enjoy it, I'm glad to have read it.

I struggled through The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, a pseudo-biography of a slave boy in revolutionary Boston. It was interesting and well-written, but not my cup of tea.

Next up, The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown's latest caper. It was a birthday present from my brother, and I enjoyed every breathless minute of it. All very silly, though. I think the NYTimes reviewer had it when the said it was hackneyed, mellodramatic, and overwrought, but that she loved every minute.

In other birthday news, John and I have new couches, from SofaSofa. We've had them for about 3 weeks and sofa-sogood. They are beige, which makes the whole living room seem a hundred times lighter. But they were crying out for some color.

As my super awesome parents gave me a new sewing machine for my birthday, I had to get sewing.



Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rrufus' last ball

My parents' dog died two weeks ago - I've been avoiding this post because it wrecks me if I think about it too much.

His favorite things (in order):
1. my parents
2. balls (preferably squeaky)
3. butter
4. walks
5. sleeping on my parents' bed (with his paws in the air, mouth open, snoring)
6. car rides
7. swimming
8. his best buddies Fred (human) and Abigail (canine)
9. my brother and me
10. snow

Rrufus looking dignified:

And slightly less so:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm a Junior Foodie

First foodie credential: Sylvia Schur, who died last week (the link is to her obit in the NYT), lived across the street and gave my parents a high chair when I was born. Her second husband (before they were married) gave me and my brother a set of wind-up sushi toys.

Second foodie credential: I've been 'putting up' food in the last few weeks. Plum jam a few weeks ago and oven-dried tomatoes last week (which we're going to finish eating long before winter). The tomatoes were from the garden and were quite tasty before they were roasted. But after? With some salt and olive oil in the oven at 80 degrees C for 3 1/2 hours? Really awesome.

Third foodie credential: John and I have been watching the Hairy Bikers quite a bit lately, and in one of the recent recipes they made a meat pie. It looked REALLY tasty, and John has been demanding Pork Pie since then. So we asked the Good Food website what to do, and it told us to make Gordon Ramsay's Pork & Ham Pie. From scratch. With pork mince, sausagemeat, ham, sage, eggs, and pastry made with lard. Yes, lard. Gordon's picture:

And our picture:

We don't know what it looks like inside yet (or how it tastes), but it sure smells good. We will be taking it to the choir picnic today and thoroughly tasting it. From this angle, you can't see the decorations on the top very well, but they are an "H", and a pig, made out of pastry. Swoon.

Junior Foodie credentials: complete. Please proceed to next level. Involving foams.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Maybe I'll blog more...

In the hopes of blogging more than once a week, I've downloaded a blogging app for my iPhone. Which I'm still obsessed with, by the way, even though I've had it for almost a year.

Both bells and choir are back in full swing, and the September rush is definitely on at work. As a result my downtime has mostly consisted of watching The Hairy Bikers' Tour of Britain with John on iPlayer, and then going to bed early. The HBs are very entertaining, and our favorite episode so far is Kent. Mostly because of their hilarious antics in the kitchen with an extremely skillful chef. We liked the Suffolk episode, too, of course, but mostly for the "we've been there!" aspect of it. Yum.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I've been cooking again. I made a salmon, dill & potato tart, from BBC Good Food. It was more of a quiche, really, since I mixed the recipe with a quiche one (and added milk and eggs). It was really yummy - John doesn't normally like quiche and even he had some. I'm now trying to convince him that what he wants is for me to make MORE quiche...

I've been ringing lots of bells (and have my very own Buxhall shirt to add to my Trinity shirt). This was Alison's first quarter peal, at Tostock. I nearly lost the plot in the middle, but thankfully Lesley was paying attention and put me back in the right spot. I always feel bad swearing in church...

Oh, and if you haven't already, read the article from this weekend's NYT Arts Section about the bellringers at Trinity Church. I KNOW them!! The Ringing Master (interviewed in the "multimedia slideshow" attached to the article) was the one who kept me right during a course of Bob Minor. WOOT!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sometimes I forget that I don't live in a city

In case I ever forget that I live out in the countryside, things like this bring me right back to earth.

We have some friends who live on a farm - they have a cosy farmhouse, a veg patch that makes me drool, and a zillion chickens. I think I'd miss being able to walk to the library and the station, though.

And when we parked our car in the farm yard across from their house, the combine harvester was sitting there. I'd seen them in the fields and on the road, but never up close. They're enormous!

And, this one was special: I got to stand on it!

In other rural pursuits, we bought some plums last weekend, and I made my first jam. It's not going to win any prizes (and I've come to the conclusion that I don't really like plum jam), but it's a start. I need a better funnel, though - there were a few dribbles of jam that ended up on the counter rather than in the jars.

Oh, and we washed our sheets and discovered a stowaway at the end of the wash. Oops. At least he's clean now. Looking a bit reproachful, though, don't you think?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Adventures on two wheels

I spent a day in London a few weeks ago, where I went on a Fat Tire Bike Tour. I went on the Paris tours (and applied for a job as a tour guide) when I lived there. I think Paris is a slightly more bike-friendly city, since most of the London tour was through Hyde Park/Kensington Park/Green Park.

Lovely parks, all, (and the guides were great), but if I only had a weekend to see London and spent it on the insides of the parks, I might be annoyed. As it is, I know London pretty well and enjoyed the spin through town on the bikes. Especially as it was Sunday so the roads around Buckingham Palace were closed.

The bikes all had names (of people mentioned on the tour). I was being shown the town by a Mr. Eric Clapton. We got along very well.

I learned in Paris that taking a picture from the bike while riding to your health.  So here is the back of 10 Downing Street with the London Eye in the background.

Continuing the bike theme, John and I took our bikes to Cambridge on the train last weekend. In spite of the extortionate ticket prices (and recent railway strikes by overpaid but disgruntled employees), it was actually pretty painless. Bringing your bikes on the train is free (woot!), and there are special racks for them. I could see how the racks might get kind of full on a weekday, but we had plenty of room when we were going.

We met up for the day with some family friends from New Ro, who were enjoying a vacation in Paris/London/Cambridge. We rode our bikes out to Grantchester, where we hit up The Blue Ball Inn for some extremely tasty warm, flat beer of the Adnams variety. YUM. We then wobbled to another pub for more beer and lunch. Tough life. Then we went into Cambridge itself, where we walked through the gardens of Clare College and went into the Kings' chapel.

If you can't make it good, make it RED.

We had a blast of a day - the weather was gorgeous, the company was great, and we have now decided that the ONLY way to get around Cambridge is by bike. It's a long walk from the station to town, and the car situation is a nightmare. There was even a free bike parking garage at the mall. What more could you want?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pictures, soon, I promise!

There are pictures on my camera that I'd like to blog, but they're downstairs and I'm upstairs and it's not going to happen.

While I was in Rhode Island, there was a huge marketing campaign on for "The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane." I definitely thought the book looked interesting, but not so much that I wanted to buy it. Instead, I went to the super awesome magical Stowmarket Library. Apparently in the UK, the book is called "The Lost Book of Salem". And it was a great read. I love magic/witches/historical fiction/romance, and while the end was a little unsatisfying, the book on the whole zipped right along.

It was my father-in-law's birthday a few weeks ago...I made the "Best chocolate cake ever" (according to the website). I have to say, I agree with them. It was pretty darned awesome. I left out the coffee, and put strawberries on top instead of the chocolate curls. Make it - it's yummy!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

New Rochelle Noms

I discovered a new favorite meal while I was in New Ro. My parents sold the Big Yellow House last fall, and have been living in a surprisingly nice (for downtown New Rochelle) apartment near the station.

My first morning in, my mom suggested that I head around the block to the Starlite Diner. My dad is a regular customer (probably more regular than his doctor would like...), and it was the perfect re-entry into NewYawk.

On the front door, there is a sign that says "Breakfast Special: Bacon, Egg & Cheese on a Roll with Coffee: $3.50". Mmmmm. It doesn't actually come with a coffee, it comes with a caaawfeeee. The bacon is super-crispy and entirely un-English, the cheese is solidly American (and gloriously melty), and the roll is one of the quintessentially New York squooshy ones.

Here's a picture my dad took, last week, of Michael, the dispenser of bacon-egg-and-cheese-on-a-roll-with-a-cawfee.

I think it's probably good that I don't live in New Ro any more - the temptation to go every morning would be more than I could resist.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Notes from the garden

I'm not sure what happened with my seeds this year. I meant to plant 2 courgette plants and 2 sunflowers, and somehow ended up with 4 sunflowers and no courgettes. So here is one of the happy sunflowers, living in my vegetable patch. There's a bee on it (we have a very bee-friendly garden), which is good. Not as good as if there were courgettes on it, though.

The rest of the veggies are coming along - we have a ton of tomato plants that are all full of green tomatoes. A little hot weather and they'll be ready. YUM. And yes, those are more sunflowers.

To continue the flower theme, this is my new favorite necklace. I bought it with Andrea at Surya Satya [ed: I got the Yoga words mixed up and the websites look deceptively similar!] down near Christopher Street. It hits at just the right place on my neck and is really pretty.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Between flights, train trips, afternoons by the pool, and the plague that I seem to have picked up on the way home, I've been doing lots of reading.

I'd been recommended Eragon, and it was perfectly absorbing airplane reading. A little Harry Potter, a little LoTR, and some dragons. Surprisingly well-written, especially since the author was in high school at the time. I have it on good authority that the movie is terrible - don't bother with it.

For my book group, I read Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. It took me a little while to get into it, but I loved it. It cracked me up - it's full of really dry and British humor, and the ending was really clever.

I also read the second Matthew Shardlake novel, by C.J. Sansom. Dark Fire takes place in Tudor London and is a somewhat forgettable but entertaining whodunnit.

I'm about half way through Stephene Meyer's The Host. Yes, she's the one who wrote Twilight. I reserved it at the library back when I finished Breaking Dawn, and it finally came in last weekend. So far, so good (but no sparkly vampires...)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Back from NY

Holy moly - it's been a month since I posted. I was in NY for two weeks of it, which is my excuse. Sort of.

I finally managed to connect with the bell ringers at Trinity Church on Wall St in NYC. This picture is of the never-before-seen-by-Kate combination of a bell tower with working bells and an American flag. The bells were amazing, the people were SUPER nice and great ringers, and if/when we move back to the US, I will be putting in more appearances at their tower. Awesome.

I basically spent the two weeks going from meal to meal, and person to person. I missed a few (you know who you are and I apologize), but in the end I ran out of time. I also fit a few days up in RI with my parents, which was really nice. Dels and fried clams and the bike path and the Bristol 4th of July parade. Here I am with my Dad (the fried clams are just off camera).

The award for "most distance travelled," which usually belongs to me, was awarded to my college roommate, Liz. She flew in (not just to see me) from New Zealand. We spent a very fun New York City day together, waving at tourists on open-top buses and pretending to be models in Soho. Wait, normal people don't do that?

And we were both Pinkberry virgins. Not anymore!

Below, the TRUE reason for the trip (yes, Mom and Dad, I love you a lot, but she wins on cuteness): my (other) friend Liz's new baby girl. Her name is Gabi and she's awesome. It was all I could do not to baby-nap her and take her home with me. Liz would have noticed, I think. Isn't the cuteness just overwhelming? Liz took this picture on my last day in the US - I got to feed, burp, stroll(er?), cuddle, and generally hang out with Gabi. And Liz, of course. Well, not the feeding or burping.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I come by it honestly!

Our Evil Fridge of Doom is on the fritz again. We're starting the formal complaints process with the manufacturer. 4 callout-requiring faults in 2 years is too many, we think.

We're also anticipating needing to defrost it (again) some time in the next few weeks. Which means that the culinary delights that are currently in there are being eaten up.

We had some people over for a BBQ last weekend, and had a last minute cancellation which left us with a bit more food than we needed. Mostly peppers (we were going to roast them on the grill). I don't particularly like peppers, unless they're in something. However, on Sunday night, they really did need eating. I found a recipe on the web for stuffed peppers, which basically used rice, a meat of some sort, stock, and some herbs and spices, all together in the oven for 45 minutes. As part of the freezer raid, I found some turkey pieces and some stock (which we think was turkey stock). Followed the instructions, mixed it all together, cooked and ate it.  Reasonably yummy (remember, I don't like peppers to begin with).

Then, John said, "When was this turkey from, by the way?"

"Hmm," I mused, "We last had I think it might be"


When I mentioned it to my parents, though, my mom reassured me that I do, in fact, come by it honestly. My maternal grandmother was a really good cook but as a child of the depression had a reputation for keeping "vintage" meatloaf  (meatloaves?) in her freezer. And the scary part was that she would eventually eat it...

I also have started using Evernote, which I think is going to be a good way to keep track of what's in the freezer. A sort of anti-shopping-list.

Monday, June 8, 2009

An Indigo Girls review, 2 months late

The latest Indigo Girls album, Poseidon and the Bitter Bug, came out at the end of March. However, that was the US release date, and since my iTunes is configured for the UK (so I can use my iPhone), I had to wait. And wait. And wait some more. And then I got distracted.

I finally downloaded the album this weekend, and listened to it all the way through at work today (hooray for having my own office). Amy, Emily and I go WAAY back - my dad first heard them on NPR back in the early 90s, then I spent lots of time sitting around campfires in Vermont singing Closer To Fine, then listened to them all through high school, went to a few concerts (and wrote a few musicology papers) in college, and then have seen them perform in New York (lots of times) and Cambridge (just once). I'm predisposed to enjoy me some Indigos.

I'm still on the fence about this album, though, which I think is partly a result of the way it's presented. I bought the 'deluxe edition' on iTunes, and it features every song in both a "studio" and "acoustic" version. Why? Give me the same number of tracks, once, and YOU as the artist decide if it sounds better as the studio version or the acoustic version. Please? Even I, the hardcore IG fan who can listen to hours and hours of Amy 'n Emily, have trouble listening to the same album twice in a row. And what will become of me if I put the album on "shuffle"? I may suffer the indignity of hearing the same song twice in a row. On MORE than one song!

Taking the album as ONE set of songs, though, the songs are classic Indigo. There were two where I found the music particularly interesting:

First, "Love Of Our Lives" opens with Amy and Emily singing in unison, followed by a section with them singing in octaves - I can't think of any other songs of theirs where they sing together without harmonising for more than a note or two.

Second (although it's earlier on the album), "Sugar Tongue" has Amy singing a very "Emily" song, in a much higher register than she usually sings. It makes her sound completely different - it's almost like a falsetto.

Musicologists, start your engines!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Old Married Couple

John and I had our 3-year anniversary yesterday. I still have moments of "we've been married for HOW long?"

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Burt Reynolds in Suffolk (well, almost)

We rented A Bunch Of Amateurs this weekend. The general premise is that Burt Reynolds plays a washed-up Hollywood actor who ends up coming to "Stratford" in England to perform King Lear. He thinks he's going to Stratford-upon-Avon to perform with the RSC, when in fact he's in the (fictional) village of Stratford St John, performing with the amateur drama society. And where have they put this village supposedly at the end of the earth? Suffolk, baby! They didn't actually FILM it in Suffolk (which is silly, since the style of house-building here is completely different from the houses in the film).

John and I both thought it was pretty funny - Imelda Staunton was really good, and Burt Reynolds was well-cast as the no-longer-leading-man. They were both entirely overshadowed by a supporting role from the Suffolk Mobile Libraries van. Too funny.

I can FINALLY blog about this, since the gift has been given: I made a baby quilt for my friend Liz's new baby, Gabi. Both of Gabi's parents went to the University of Wisconsin, so my initial thought was to knit a red baby sweater with a big W in it.

I think everyone is glad that I abandoned that idea once I found some Wisconsin Badgers fabric on the web. I ordered it, had it shipped to England, matched it up with some polka dots, and started in. I intended to make a small-ish crib quilt for her, and then went a little overboard when I was cutting my squares. Pattern? Me? Naw! It ended up about the size of a twin bed, FAR too big for a newborn (even if she IS tall like her dad). I had some leftover fabric, so I made a stroller blanket as well.

Here she is, modeling it.

There are a few more scraps left (a yard of Wisconsin fabric goes a very long way), so there will be a few more UW items delivered when I'm in NY next month.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My little (BIG) brother

My brother came to visit last week. He has now decided that Suffolk is NOT entirely composed of fields full of sheep. There are some fields with pigs in them.

Here we are with the Bury St Edmunds Cathedral tower:

Me (note: fully airborne) in front of the Norman Tower (12 bells, baby!):

Future beer...mmm. We took the tour at Greene King (yes, beer purists, it's not the best beer, but it's pretty tasty). There were four rules, according to our tour guide: stay with the tour (it's a working factory), don't step in puddles, turn off your phones, and don't touch anything.

We'd all been up to the roof (great view) and back down again, and were standing near the mash tuns when one of the women on the tour (who had been an insufferable know-it-all) started turning a valve on one of the huge pots. Edward and I yelped and ran to the other side of the room, and our tour guide caught her before she caused the whole thing to explode. EEK!

Here's Ed, with some actual beer, at lunch (note, beer AND cider):

We also stopped in at Ickworth, where Ed was treated to the full experience. We arrived at 4:30, knowing that the house was already closed. We were told that the gardens were still open, so paid our £4 each to go see them. When we got to the gardens, there was a sign on the gate saying that last admission had been at 4:30, with the gardens closing at 5. We tried to find a staff member to get our money back, but there were none. Finally, we found someone, who let us out into the garden, where we were then yelled at by the gardener who told us we shouldn't have been there. It was truly mind-boggling. I'm toying with the idea of issuing a proper complaint to the National Trust, but I don't think I have the energy.

We did a running tour of the garden, then walked down to the falling-down church. Don't worry, we didn't go in...

In stark contrast, we went to Framlingham Castle on our way back from Aldeburgh the next day. Competent staff, clear signs, and a very English "if you fall off the 50-foot wall it's your own damn fault" set of fences. We gave it a shot to reenact all of the various potential amusements, listed below:

We had a blast (and I got to visit a whole bunch of things that I only really think to do when I'm playing "tour guide")!