Monday, May 30, 2011

Concert on 11th June: Purcell's King Arthur

HEY EVERYBODY! We're singing Purcell's King Arthur (as far as I can tell, exactly what Monty Python would have been had it been written in the 17th century). We're not doing the whole opera, just the singing parts. It'll be a really enjoyable summer evening concert (it'll still be light out when we finish). You could even visit Mr. Peacock at Kentwell Hall or wander around Melford Hall in the afternoon, and then picnic on the village green before the concert...

Saturday 11 June 2011 at 7.30 pm

Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford

Henry Purcell

King Arthur

Sena Larard soprano
Karina Lucas mezzo-soprano
David Sheppard countertenor
Patrick Mundy tenor
James Gower bass

Bury Bach Choir

Suffolk Baroque Players

Philip Reed conductor

Enter the world of King Arthur in this exuberant portrayal of events long ago. Purcell’s
dramatic opera, with libretto by John Dryden, contains some of the composer’s most lyrical
and evocative music, including the famous Frost Chorus and the patriotic song Fairest Isle. 
The action is pure adventure. It revolves around Arthur’s endeavours to recover his fiancĂ©e,
the blind Cornish princess Emmeline, who has been abducted by his arch-enemy the Saxon
King Oswald of Kent. Does he succeed in rescuing her? Come and enjoy this spine
tingling performance… and discover the answer.

There will be one interval, without refreshments – performance ends 9.20pm

Tickets £16 from Theatre Royal Box Office 01284 769505 or the Theatre Royal website.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Review: A Discovery Of Witches

Alice (La Bibliofille) is a fount of good books. (For those of you who think I come up with my own ideas, think again - it's all Alice!)

She recommended, quite recently, A Discovery Of Witches. After reading her review, I was pretty sure I would like it. I reserved it at the Stowmarket library (new book with not too much buzz = short list!), and carried on reading my other book. Then I got impatient and downloaded a sample chapter on my Kindle, just to see if it was worth lugging the 500+ page tome up the hill from the library. Oh my, was it worth it.

I blasted through the sample chapters, and thankfully the book came in at the library. I, um, kind of abandoned everything. I went to work (but read in my lunchbreak AND at teabreak), read over breakfast, over dinner, on the train home, before dinner, after dinner, when I should have been varnishing, while waiting for other bellringers to show up in the churchyard, when I should have been doing laundry, and a few other non-normal reading times. 

The good news (for the rest of the world): I finished this morning (over breakfast, of course).

The bad news: I finished the book this morning. NOOOO!!

The good news: It's the first in a trilogy and the next one's coming out next year. Write faster, Deborah Harkness, please!

So you will have read Alice's review. Go on, the link is up there.

My review-in-a-nutshell: Intellectual Twilight for Grownups. With Witches. And a fabulously haunted house. LOVED. IT.


Review: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

We rented The Sorcerer's Apprentice the other night. I'd read not-great reviews about it, but Sam at the Stowmarket Blockbuster (who is generally very good with movie recommendations) said that he really liked it.

I find Nicholas Cage to be relatively emotionless - he seems to have a constant expression and I thought it was a bit hard to believe that he was madly in love with a sorceress who'd been trapped in a Russian doll for 1,000 years.  Jay Baruchel's voice (he also voices Hiccup in How To Train Your Dragon) sets my teeth on edge. Oh, and Teresa Palmer is Australian, which is why I found her New York accent totally unconvincing.

Other than that, thought, we did actually enjoy the movie. There was a very clever nod (well, direct repeat) of Mickey Mouse's mad-cleanup scene in the animated Sorcerer's Apprentice. I found myself thinking "how on earth did they get the rights to do this?!?....oh,'s a Disney movie...never mind..."

Fun teenager- and parent-friendly movie with a happily romping plot and Alfred Molina as The Bad Guy. Standard issue.

One more thing. I hereby declare to the world that I will stop being such a dork and FINISH THIS QUILT. It's a present so I can't show you the whole top. Actually, it's a wedding present and we're in danger of hitting their first anniversary before I send it to them. It's going to rock when it's done...I'm just stuck. I now declare myself un-stuck. There. That's better.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Evil Mac Malware

Was merrily reading Teh Interwebs, when the image below popped up. The only way out of it was to force-quit Chrome - I'd read about it in the NYT and knew not to click on it. I wouldn't have gone as far as to install any software, or give them my credit card number, but the website looked alarmingly authentic.

Consider yourselves warned (NYT article below). MAC DEFENDER IS NOT YOUR FRIEND.

Published: May 25, 2011
Apple computer users were targeted by fake antivirus software that hopes to gain access to users' credit cards. Apple said Wednesday that it plans to issue a software update to remove the malware.
If you want a guide to antivirus programs for the mac, Lifehacker has a good one.

Update: John has found this article on about how to remove Mac Defender if you did end up installing it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: The Importance Of Being Seven

I finished the latest instalment of Alexander McCall Smith's The Importance of Being Seven earlier this evening (I was 3 pages from the end after breakfast).

McCall Smith's preface was one of the best I've ever read. He describes how in book signings all over the world, his readers' favourite character from the books is the ever-tormented Bertie Pollock. Bertie is 6, and has an exceedingly overbearing mother. He is fabulously endearing as a character, and is definitely the most compelling character in TIoBS.

Bertie, you will, one day, attain the miracle that is Seven. Until then (and probably afterwards), we will all thoroughly enjoy reading about your (mis)adventures.

(Photo taken in Felixstowe, by me.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Boris Bikes

Check out the Boris Bikes. I submitted it to Things Organized Neatly but they haven't published it yet. It would have been better if I'd had the big camera, but I didn't feel like schlepping it all over London.

And now, to read about The Importance Of Being Seven, under the quilt on the bed. Could be worse.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

We helped out at the Blind National Sailing Championships yesterday at EAST. They had fabulous weather, great wind, and happy volunteers (and extremely happy sailors). 

Since Ms. Kanga still has many weeks of work before she goes in the water (mostly reattaching the assorted fittings that we took off to redo the deck), we thought we'd go down to EAST and at least help out. I ended up taking hundreds of pictures of the sailing (and the volunteers), which we'll bring over on a DVD shortly.

I've been a serial book-abandoner since I finished A Discovery Of Witches - I gave up on Alone In Berlin (too grim), One Day (characters were driving me crazy), The Tiger's Wife (generally meh), and Embers (I couldn't decide where the book was going so I gave up).

Oh dear. I have the newest 44 Scotland Street novel from Alexander McCall Smith, The Importance of Being Seven, which I know I'll love. I also have the third of the Black Magician trilogy, by Trudi Canavan, so I'll be fine. Canavan was at the Bury St Edmunds branch of Waterstones last week and I didn't find out about it until after the fact. FML. I've tried to get on a list for events in local bookshops and there isn't one. I forget to check their website and then miss awesome things like Authors I Love Who Live In Australia And Hardly Ever Go On Book Tours. Bah.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Roomie C sent me this video on Facebook. Not afraid to admit that it made me cry. In a good way through. I've gone on to iTunes to see which album I should buy and I can't seem to find an album's worth of songs that I love. Just this one, for the mo.

Had a funny moment at work today - I went into the canteen to make my coffee with my "chemistry set" (aka Aeropress) and our dinner-lady said, "Oh good, you're here. I have bananas for you."

"Um, what bananas?"

"Oh, I've been trying to give them away to other people all morning and they all said that I should give them to you. Something about banana bread?"

Oh, right. Banana bread. I'll get right on that.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I want to work at Liberty

Ok, have you guys seen these scarf-tying tutorials from Liberty of London? Where have they BEEN all my life?

I went looking for the new Mollie Makes and couldn't find it, even though it's supposed to be available from WH Smith and Sainsbury's and I tried both. Bah...Ipswich.

I did come across issue 1 of Handmade Living, which I liked - it wasn't the Best Magazine Ever but I'd probably buy it again.

I made rhubarb crumble again, with the Rhubarb Pear Crumble recipe from BBC good food (their website is having a grumpy), without the pears this time. We ate it, hot from the oven, with toffee crunch ice cream. BLISS.

And to answer JaneRowena's sneeterdoodle from the Paula Deen Banana Bread post, I kinda just eyeballed the cup of butter. My mom used to smoosh butter into a cup-measure, and then wrestle it out again. Weighing is much better. If I weren't so lazy, I would have converted for y'all.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


My fabric stash was getting a little bit out of control. Embarrassing pictures, below:

Shudder. I couldn't find anything, and any time I wanted to pull fabric out for a project, it made a mess of the rest of the pile.

I asked Pinterest what to do, and found this tutorial from Smashed Peas and Carrots. Having a 13-year-old stepson who loves going to the comic book store has its advantages, apparently!

The newly organised stash includes a green seed-head printed linen from Karlsson Designs that's destined to be napkins and some teatowels, and a long-lost Japanese bicycle print that I'd forgotten I owned. It was still all folded up in the Purl Soho (where I haven't been in at LEAST 2 years) bag. Oops.

C'mon - don't you love that little red bicycle? With those clouds? Sigh. Thanks, Pinterest!

I've started reading Sherlock Holmes on my Kindle - I've found that I can only really read it in short bursts, as the stories seem to be a little repetitive and Sir A.C. Doyle is NOT giving his readers all of the information to solve the puzzle before Sherlock does. Bah. I think it may also be a case of Post-Discovery-Of-Witches trauma. It's tough to follow a star...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Use more butter, y'all!

There was a surplus of bananas at work (they feed us lunch, including a piece of fruit), so I took some home with the promise to make banana bread.

Boy, did I make banana bread!

I rifled through my recipe books, and decided that the Paula Deen "put some more butter in it, y'all" treatment would be appropriate.

It was definitely the best banana bread I've ever had (and I have the emails from my colleagues to prove it - they devoured it and asked for more)! The crust was a little bit chewy and vaguely caramelised, and the inside was moist and crumbly and very banana-y.

Recipe: Banana Bread (from Paula Deen's Kitchen Classics)

1/2 c butter (at room temp; or wrestle with cold butter like I did)
1 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c plain flour
1 tsp baking soda (I used bicarb)
1 tsp baking powder
3 ripe bananas, mashed (I doubled the recipe and used 7 bananas [and 2 loaf tins], but they were small ones)

Grease a loaf tin. Combine butter and sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well (it'll look dry before you put the bananas in). Bake in the loaf tin for 50 mins at 375F, until a skewer comes out clean and your house smells amazing.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cookies & Scones

We couldn't watch Friday's wedding without some Real English Food. So I made Delia's scones (from my new book, naturally). The recipe I used doesn't seem to be on her website. 

Also, it was supposed to make rather more scones than it made. Never mind, they were delicious. We inhaled them as soon as they came out of the oven, so there's no "after" picture! The mat they're on was a present from my mom (thanks, Mom!) - it's one of those non-stick silicone jobbies. Nice.

Who's that, taking a picture of the tv (and assorted clutter around the tv)? Not me! Ok, maybe I did. But it's SO CUTE. That's our Easter tree on the right.

I felt a pressing need to make cookies on Saturday evening, so I grabbed my Paula Deen cookbook. Again with the recipe not on the internet...bah. James announced that oatmeal raisin cookies were YUCKY, so we added some dark chocolate chunks. He made a batch to take home with him and then forgot to bring them when he left. Too bad - more for me! Sorry for not posting the recipe - I'm upstairs and it's downstairs and I'm lazy. So there.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Review: A Fine Balance

One of my book group buddies registered for Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance for World Book Night this year.

It was quite long, but definitely had an immersive feel to it - I found myself surprised when I picked my head up that I wasn't in a slum in India. The interactions between the characters were very well drawn, and I found myself coming back to it to find out what would happen next. There were a few scenes that I wished I hadn't been eating breakfast while reading, so be warned. I'd recommend it, though - I read it nearly 2 months ago and the characters have stayed with me.

When we haven't been reading, we've been sanding and painting and varnishing. Kanga seems to be loving the attention (although she keeps calling attention to bits that need mending...)

We had some bourbon in the house, so I looked on the interwebs and found a recipe where you mix bourbon with ginger ale. John picked up some Fever Tree ginger ale (which I like to drink when I'm under the weather). YUM!