Thursday, 27 December 2012

News from B

I have some news. I am now part of the team writing book reviews for the Sassi Sam website.

I'm excited, so you should be too.

I'll be reviewing books I wouldn't normally pick up myself on a trip to Avid Reader and that's kind of fun. My first book was Zoe's Muster by Barbara Hannay. It was the first totally light and fluffy book I've read in a long time and once I got over the slightly unbelievable starting premise (for me, not for everyone) I enjoyed it.

My second book was Unnatural Habits, a Phryne Fisher Mystery by Kerry Greenwood, which I was bound to enjoy, being a bit of a Miss Fisher fan.

The reviews are slightly less opinionated than the ones I write here, but still when one is posted I'll put the link in here, just in case you're interested.

Right now I'm reading the 30 year anniversary re-release of Lace by Shirley Conran; an international best seller that is a 700 page brick of a book stuffed with sex, glamour and empowering female friendship. It's going to take me a while, this one.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Me, Guillaume and the Jellybean.

I confess. I talk to inanimate objects. Not long in-depth discussions you understand, but I will yell at them, be persuasive with them and I have been known to express a certain love for my couch. 

There are even a few hallowed objects in my life that I have gone so far as to name. The couch not being one of them, that would be weird. It started with my previous car and has spread a little to include my laptop and iPod. The fridge, I think, will forever be left out and the speakers wouldn't appreciate the honour of personalisation.

The 'advantage' of naming one's electronic devices is that when you need to yell at said device in frustration, you can get personal.  My previous car, lovingly named ‘Jellybean’ would be sweet-talked when she was sulking and didn’t want to go up a hill, or congratulated when she took off at the lights like the little pocket-rocket she was. 

The disadvantage of naming inanimate objects is I suspect that when you name items, you risk inadvertently giving them a personality. My iPod, Christophe, I swear sometimes uploads songs that I didn’t request. It’s as if he/it is trying to sway my musical taste.

My current named gadgets are:
  • Previous car: Jellybean. It was a Mazda 121, a ‘bubble’ car so this was a no-brainer.
  • iPod: Christophe. Named after my favourite customer at the cafĂ© I worked at when living in London.
  • Computer: Guillaume. For no reason whatsoever, except that it’s a laptop and if I have something in my lap it might as well by French and male.
  • Car: Madeleine or Tabitha. I really don’t like the name Tabitha, but it popped into my head and I’m struggling to get it out. It’s just such a Tabitha car.   
Is naming inanimate objects too strange? Or do you name your possessions? 

What do you call them and why?

Monday, 17 December 2012

100,000 Stars

Google has done some amazing modelling of the solar system, which shows the closest 100, 000 stars to the sun. (I think.) Anyway, it's AMAZING. You need Google Chrome to run it, I think, but it's totally worth it.

(Make sure you zoom all the way out, it's unbelievable. So huge!) (Also, make sure you click on the individual stars, there's heaps of info and a close-up graphic of what they look like!)

Friday, 14 December 2012

Five for Friday no. 48

Great re-interpretation of '50 Shades of Grey' into '10 sex tips'. Very funny.

Because I know you've always wanted a foldable version of yourself. 

 When you really think about it ... he doesn't normally hang around for a second date.

Year in Review time! YAY!

The Atlantic's The Year in Photos


What I call as my favourite year-in-review- for 2012: the 40 most influential corgis of 2012. You're welcome.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Easiest Christmas Ice Cream Dessert Ever

I mean, come on, I make this. It'd have to be easy, or I'd never bother.

Just a little disclaimer, though, I didn't invent this recipe. I think I was told to make it by my mother, and she possibly got from a Gourmet Traveller or some other kind of food magazine. So, if I'm ripping someone off... Thanks for the awesome dessert recipe? It's delicious!

Now, here are the things you need to make this excellent dessert:

2 loaf pans or bread tins (although I guess you could make a round one if you wanted...)
Baking paper
1 large mixing bowl
A couple of sharp knives and a mixing spoon
A cutting board
A freezer

Now, I've just realised that I never measure any of the ingredients, so here's a vaguely-guessed-at list:
  • 2 x 1L Sara Lee French Vanilla Ice Cream
  • About 300grams Morello Cherries (buy a jar and use as many as you want) (oh my god, do yourself a favour and get the pitted ones, seriously, pitting is a nightmare) 
  • About 200grams of fruit mince (I usually get Robertson's, and you need about half a jar)
  • A handful or two of dry roasted almonds (sorry, it's useless of me, but I can't remember how big the bag is that I usually buy) (maaaaaybe 200grams? Ish?)

First, line your tins with the baking paper - you'll thank me later when you're not trying to excise your dessert from a frozen metal tin.

Assemble your ingredients! Keep one of the tubs of Sara Lee ice cream and stick the other one in the freezer. (If you're in Australia, chances are the tub will be appropriately melty by the time you have to use it, but if not, there's always the microwave.)

Chop up your cherries into small-ish chunks, but not too fine. Put them into the mixing bowl with the whole tub of slightly-melted ice cream, and mix together (just with a spoon, not a mixmaster or anything). 

Pour the ice cream and cherries mixture into the tins, filling only to half-way. (You end up with a lot of ice cream, and I suppose you could halve this whole recipe to make one tin, but I'm usually making it for the whole extended family, so.)

Put the tins into the freezer and get out your second tub of Sara Lee. Wash out your mixing bowl - take as long as you want, to give your second lot of ice cream a bit of time to melt, and the ice cream in the tins more time to set in the freezer.

Chop up the dry roasted almonds - again, not too fine, you want them big enough to crunch. You need enough to distribute nicely through your second lot of ice cream. Mix the nuts and ice cream in the mixing bowl, and add some of the fruit mince. (Essentially, you're adding all of this stuff to taste, so put in as much or as little as you like.)

Get the tins out of the freezer, and pour the nuts-fruit-mince-ice-cream mixture in on top of the cherry mixture, to make a second layer.

Put everything back in the freezer, and tidy up!

You'll probably be making this well before your meal, but just so you know, you need to give the ice cream at least an hour to set properly. If you're leaving it in the freezer over night, make sure to cover it or seal off the tins somehow.

When you're ready for dessert, up-end the tins onto a serving dish and pull off the baking paper. Don't scoop - serve in slices, to make sure everyone gets both flavours. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Things people have said to me when I’m wearing glasses

I have computer glasses, not every-day glasses. Those spectacles the optometrist prescribes because one spends eight hours of the day staring at a computer screen.

When I bought my glasses last year I chose them solely on the basis that the assistant optometrist told me they made me look like a character from Mad Men.

Anyway, because I am only a part-time eyeglass wearer people feel the need to comment on it when they see me with them on. Some of the pearlers I’ve heard in the year or so since I began wearing them are:

“You look like a sexy librarian with your glasses.”
            You mean I don’t look like a sexy librarian all the time?

“You look like a disapproving librarian in your glasses”
            That one was less-nice.

“I never thought of you as the smart, glasses type.”
            Screw you too, Jimmy. 

“You look pretty when you wear your glasses”
            Freakin’ compli-sult if ever I heard one.

“Your glasses match your eyes”
            Note: my glasses are black and white. They match Everyone’s eyes.

“Your glasses match your hair”
            Not sure how that works.

“They make you look like you’re squinting and it’s kind of nice.”

To be continued the next time someone says something stupid about my glasses.

I only wish my glasses gave me the right to hug leopards.

NaNoWriMo: an inglorious end

On midnight 30 November, NaNoWriMo 2012 ended. I wish I could report that I 'won' and wrote the full 50,000 word novella. But I didn't. To be honest, I barely wrote anything in the last week. I got wrapped up in other aspects of my life and dragging myself to the computer to type away had lost every ounce of appeal. Instead of feeling guilty about this, as I usually would, I felt rather calm. It didn't matter that I hadn't succeeded first time. To be honest, it would have been a minor miracle if I had. I had given it a damn good try and most importantly, by trying I had learnt a lot. 

I learnt that to write well I need to be in the mood. And if I think of a good sentence or phrase I should note it down immediately.

I learnt that writing takes a damn long time and you need to force yourself to stay at your desk and think and type.

I learnt what I already suspected – that writing something funny is one of the greatest challenges.

I learnt that I really would like to give this a go and so I am happy to report that I have been slowly typing away at my 'novel' since the month finished and one day I might even reach the mythical 50,000.

So, the end tally.

Number of words I wrote in NaNoWriMo 2012 according to the official counting-wizard: 25,092

I reckon that's pretty good for a first go. Yay me.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Five for Friday no. 47

Bad kids jokes. I have a particular friend in mind, posting this. She should know who she is.

An interesting way to highlight the pay gap.

Images of teenage girls and their bedrooms from all over the world

Blog that reviews celebrity endorsed food products

You better watch out

 A little bit of La Dolce Vita for Friday. Images courtesy of Vogue (above) and unknown (below)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Book review: The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume

On a chilly July evening in Melbourne, someone is murdered in the back of a cab. No one knows who he is or why he was murdered. The only suspect is the man who was in the cab with him for part of the journey home. But this man also has no name, no description, nothing to distinguish him from the throngs of well-to-do gents who are out every night in late nineteenth century Melbourne. So begins The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, best-selling work of Fergus Hume, and a positively ripping yarn it is too.

This baffling case is handed to Detective Samuel Gorby. He and a host of characters traverse the length of Melbourne society as their investigations into who this man was and why he was murdered take them from the drawing rooms of cattle kings to slums presided over by foul-mouthed drudges killing themselves with drink. Even as suspects are thrown into prison to await the gallows, secrets from the past come back to reveal new twists that might save or condemn innocent men.

Before there was Agatha Christie, before there was even Arthur Conan Doyle, there was Fergus Hume. The Mystery of a Hansom Cab was Hume’s first novel. Rejected by publishers, he self-published in 1886 and the risk paid off. Within months of publishing, the book had been read by 20,000 people in Melbourne. Impressive at a time when they cities’ population was less than half a million and literacy levels were significantly lower than they are today. The rights were subsequently bought by an international publishing firm and The Mystery in a Hansom Cab went on to be an international best-seller. It was in fact the best-selling detective story of the 19thCentury, beating out Conan Doyle’s early Sherlock novels such as A Study in Scarlet (1887).

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Suitcase Rummage Success

The Sunday last Jane and I tried our hands at small stall holding. It was the monthly Suitcase Rummage sale. Dozens of stalls took over Reddacliffe Place (opposite the casino) and it seemed that thousands of people drifted through the square over course of the afternoon in search of a new second-hand wardrobe and slightly off-kilter christmas gifts.


The organisers had sent Jane an email with instructions for the day. We were told to be set up by 12noon on the dot. We were at the square with our suitcases and camp chairs for registration at 11:30 and even then the place was swarming with stallholders and bargain-scouts. We were given a space at the far end of the square near the Victoria Bridge. Not prime real estate but we were fortunate to get one of the benches so people didn't have to bend down so far to look at all our amazing offerings.

Our stall in the sun. 

The market was packed with people through the whole afternoon. The intense heat in BCC's poorly designed dark grey square was truly awful but didn't seem to deter buyers from searching for a second hand bargain. Like most of the stall holders we hid beneath our umbrellas and drank copious amounts of iced tea.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Important summer recipes

Ah, summer. Heat and humidity. Swimming pools and sunburn. Christmas and Australia Day. Good times.

I don't know about you, but I'm girding my loins for the upcoming party season. I don't actually plan to host anything, but I'll attend! In honour of my attendance at your parties, I've decided it's time for some more recipes! Here are some delicious things you could make this summer:

Avocado Lime and Coriander Salsa
Avocado, Lime and Coriander Salsa - fresh, delicious, and perfect with tortilla chips and beer.

Spaghetti Caprese - Fresh basil, tomato, mozzarella - simple and classic.

The Best Healthy Tacos - I don't really know why I think of tacos as summery, but they are. Deal with it.

Lemon, Chicken and Parmesan Rissoles - I haven't made these, but they look tasty!

Jamie Oliver's Shell Pasta with Peas and Bacon - Haven't had this in a while, and honestly, it's not really that summery. But it's light and delicious, plus there's bacon. You cannot go wrong with bacon.

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Avocado and Blue Cheese Sauce

Pasta Primavera
Pasta Primavera - Okay, so technically you make this with spring vegetables, but it's not like that really matters in Australia, right?

Grilled Pork Tenderloin Glazed with Bourbon and Molasses - BBQ, anyone?

Fresh Spring Rolls with Chicken and Avocado

Can't have a party without dessert!

Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches

Nectarine, Marscapone and Gingersnap Tart

Banana "Ice Cream" with Toasted Coconut, Almonds and Dark Chocolate

Aaaaand now for the drinks!

Blackberry Gin Fizz
Blackberry Gin Fizz

Honeycrisp Apple Sangria

Pimms Italiano, with Mint, Lemon, Cucumber and Fernet Branca

And beer. Always beer.

If you're all very, very lucky, I might post one of my favourite recipes, for a layered ice-cream cake with cherries, roast almond and fruit mince - perfect for Christmas!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...