Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It's getting lighter...

For the last few days I've really felt like spring is coming. When I woke up this morning at 6:30 there was light. In the sky. And then today, when we were driving home from work at 5:30, there it was again. the sky.

Exhibit B: the daffodils in the front yard that James and I planted last fall are coming up. No flowers yet, but plenty of leggy looking stems and general excitement.

I even rang St. Simon's "inside" last night at bells, not that it has anything to do with spring. I managed the bobs with a little help from a copilot (who was also ringing so wasn't copiloting all that much). And when I made the mistakes I knew that I'd made them, which is definitely an improvement to stumbling along blindly. Apparently my next task is to "think one pull ahead." Yeah, right.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Coveting: Bike Hod

This was my breakfast last weekend: a bacon and egg sandwich, grapefruit juice, and Eclipse. Heaven. We don't usually have bacon at breakfast, but there was some left over from a Valentine's Edition of Leek and Potato Pie the night before.

We had a v. chill V. Day - I rang bells for two weddings (and earned £30), and then had dinner in. I came across the world's most unfortunate bridesmaid's dress at one of the weddings - it was a strapless number worn by a 4ft x 4ft bridesmaid and there was some overspill at the back. And not just a little. MY EYES! A perfect place to use the only Dutch phrase that our family retained from my Mom's "Learn Dutch On Tape" course in the '90s: "het is geen mooi zicht." (For the non-Dutch speakers in the room: "It is not a pretty sight.)

James and I went to see Bolt today - it was really cute and had some laugh-out-loud moments. Very Pixar, and very well put-together. We inadvertently went to the 3-D version, which was very clever and zoom-y (not a word, but you get the idea). However, both of us were ready for it NOT to be 3-D about 2/3 of the way through - the glasses were a little uncomfortable. Here they are in all their Disnificated glory.

We stopped at Waitrose to pick up some groceries on the way home. This bike was parked in the entrance. It turns out that they're launching a new scheme where you can sign up to borrow one of these to do your shopping. COOL. I'm not 100% clear on how long you can keep it (i.e. do you have to run your shopping home and then bring it right back or are you the temporary owner or what? The press release is here and doesn't really explain. A little googling has found the supplier company: they are called Bike-Hod. WANT. ONE. OF. THOSE. But £275 is steep!

I should start a BikeHod fund and put spare change in it. In the spring/summer/fall we like to do most of our shopping at the farm shop, about 4 miles away, and we've found that we usually have a bit more in the way of groceries than we can sensibly carry on the bikes. This would totally solve the problem.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Popcorn + stove = love

I was craving popcorn the other day - we'd bought some kernels but I hadn't really gotten around to making any. I looked on the web for microwave instructions, which all required a paper bag (didn't have one). So I grumbled briefly and found some instructions for popcorn on the stove.

Um, why did people stop doing it this way? And why did I eat microwave popcorn all through high school? (College, I understand - we didn't have a stove in our dorm room). And why did I eat microwave popcorn in my apartment in NY? And why have I not made it at home before now?

It was SO easy - it took me longer to eat the popcorn than it did to make it and do the washing up. I used our smallest pan, covered the bottom with olive oil, dumped a v. small handful (maybe about 30 kernels) into the pan, and turned the flame up to high. ::pop:: ::pop::  ...  ...  ::pop pop pop pop pop pop::  ...  ::pop::

All done! I shook the pan, dumped the contents into a bowl, put salt on it, and my craving was completely satisfied.

The advantages that I could see:
1. No greasy, gross "I made microwave popcorn" smell
2. No evil chemicals
3. It was FASTER than in the microwave
4. I only made as much as I wanted
5. I didn't feel ill after eating an entire bag of microwave popcorn by myself. Never done that. Nope, not me. Ever. Well, maybe, once or twice...

Anybody want to come over and watch a movie? I'll make the popcorn!

I also 'sperimented with a new recipe - Spiced Vegetable Couscous. I didn't have (and couldn't find) ras-el-hanout, so I used harissa instead. It was super-tasty, and we all felt very virtuous afterwards. If you make it, use the yoghurt - John didn't have any on his and he said that it needed a little zip. I'd never had harissa before - it's really tasty. I have quite a bit of it left, too, so I think some Prawn & Harissa Stew with Couscous might be in our future.

While not messing about with the stove, I've been reading New Moon and Eclipse, the two sequels to Twilight. I had intended to space them out a little bit, and even went as far as starting another (non-vampire) book, but I couldn't fight it. I caved and read them both. I can't figure out what it is that's so compelling - the writing is not particularly stellar; the story is girl loves vampire, vampire loves girl, girl and vampire struggle with teenage angst and impending doom. So why is it so addictive? I have no idea, and I'm not going to worry about it too much. But I AM going to go to a book store at the next opportunity and buy Breaking Dawn. And try not to read it in one sitting. Ahem.

Whatever bug I had back in January doesn't seem to have fully gone away. Either that, or the antibiotics they used caused a related and equally fun set of symptoms. Lovely. I've seen another doctor and we added a few more things to the long list of diseases/conditions/ailments that I don't have. They've sent off for some labwork to be done, and I'm the proud owner of a bottle of probiotic pills. Yummy. I don't particularly want to be told I have some evil (or even non-evil) disease, but I'm tired of my Mystery Ailment. When I first arrived in the UK, I broke out in a rash that the doctors were baffled by - we referred to it as Stowmarket-itis. I think this might be a variant...possibly Stowmarket-algia.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Between Vampire Books...

We went to Ipswich to buy James the next "39 Clues" book. He LOVED the first one and has finished The Graveyard Book (and declared it his favourite). While we were there, I...erm...took advantage of the 3 for 2 offer to buy Twilight and Eclipse (John got a book, too). My friend M. has lent me New Moon, which is sitting at the post office, waiting for me to pick it up (tomorrow morning). Before I can start it, though, I'm in the middle of another Elizabeth Goudge, The White Witch. It's the first of her books that I've seen from the library in an edition printed since 1985. And it's my least favourite so far. It's all English Civil War-y and there's too much HAPPENING for it to be proper Goudge.

In any event, I feel like I need to finish it before I can start on New Moon, and then I have a Diana Gabaldon from the library that's already been reserved by someone else and can't be renewed. It's a hefty tome - I might not have time to finish it by the deadline in any event. I guess I can always return it and re-reserve it if I like the beginning.

While driving the other day, I saw a poster for The Secret of Moonacre, which is an adaptation of The Little White Horse. Supposedly one of J.K. Rowling's favourite books, it's the first Goudge I read, and one of the best. I'm not sure the movie's going to be able to do the book justice - I have to decide if I want to see it or not.

I rang a quarter peal with most of the usual suspects on Saturday morning, and there was something about the tail-end of my bell's rope that gave me an unbelievable blister. It formed during the first 10 minutes of the QP, and then lasted for another 5 or so before things got a little messy. To the next person to ring the treble at Finborough: I'm sorry. And yes, that is blood.

But we got through it. I've been using bandaids like they're going out of style. And thankfully I'm not ringing tomorrow night, so I have until Saturday for it to heal. Folk remedies gladly accepted.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


My dad took a great picture of Rrufus, playing in the snow. So I made it into a LOL Dog. The pic links to the LOLDOGS site. Teehee.

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Friday, February 6, 2009

Builder's Breakfast

It's winter. Which means that it feels like the only things I ever do (and then consequently blog about) are read, watch movies, cook and ring bells. I have been doing some crafting as well, but the end product is a new-baby gift for a friend who reads the blog so I can't post about it until I've given it to her. Which looks like it will be some time in June when I'm in NY (as it's not something I want to trust to the postal system).
I did some secondary crafting as well - I made this hat a few years ago without checking my gauge. Which was dumb. It was HUGE. I then made a second one (on smaller needles with fewer stitches) that fit perfectly. One of the ringers complemented me on it, and said that she had a huge head that never fit hats. I told her that the hat I was wearing had a big brother that she was welcome to. It was too big for her, but she decided to felt it. It's now the perfect size, super warm, and v. cute. Why didn't I think of that?
We've had quite a bit of snow this week, which of course has paralysed the British transportation infrastructure. The newspapers were all shrieking midweek that the Highway Agency was in danger of running out of road salt. Cue the hand-wringing!

Last thing: I snapped this picture at work - Walkers are running a promo to find a new flavo(u)r, and this is one of them. What will they think of next? Strangely enough, some of the flavors in the promo (Onion Bhaji, Hoisin Duck) don't seem all that off-the-wall compared to the other odd-flavored potato chips that Brits eat. Cajun Squirrel takes the cake (but we didn't have a box in the canteen so you'll have to make do with Builder's Breakfast.

Monday, February 2, 2009

OMG I'm a teenager again! LOL.

There's no hope for me now. I finally managed to get to the front of the library queue for Twilight and my copy came in last weekend. I was a little apprehensive - I'd heard some mixed reviews and I was definitely NOT into Buffy in high school.

I shouldn't have worried - within about 20 pages I was completely hooked. It was the most absorbing book I've read in quite some time - I found that vast chunks of time would just slide right by as I was reading. I think the "date in the forest" scene has become my favorite book-date scene - I can't think of any that I like better.

I (along with the rest of the female population of Earth) now have a book-crush on Edward. I think the last literary character that made me want to jump into the book was Lupin (Tonks has the right idea), and before that, Logan from the Babysitters Club. The whole thing made me feel 16 again. I was a huge dork in high school - I knew all the 'cool' kids but never really got to hang out with them. Maybe I should have moved to Forks.

To continue the madness, we saw the movie at the Stowmarket cinema on Saturday night. I don't remember Robert Pattinson being particularly compelling in the Harry Potter movies, but he was completely captivating (and indecently attractive) in Twilight. Granted, Cedric Diggory is one of J.K. Rowling's flatter characters, so he didn't have much to work with in HP. His American accent in Twilight was AWFUL, though - I'm not sure why they didn't just leave him with his normal Brit voice. There were very few replacements of scenes from the books with unrelated 'movie' scenes, which I appreciated. (Do you hear me, directors of His Dark Materials and Harry Potter?).

I also need everyone to acknowledge how hip (and ahead of their time) my parents were: my brother's name is Edward and my middle name is Isabel. After 25 (and 27) years, our names are now cool.

I've joined the seemingly interminable queue for New Moon at the library, although I may just cave and buy the whole series. I think I feel a re-read coming on.