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.