Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Food

Busy old weekend

Well, it’s been a fun weekend. Milo continues to delight – even when he is being very naughty. He refuses to walk on a lead. As soon as you attach the lead to his collar, he sits down and refuses to budge. We had a breakthrough of sorts yesterday. Some friends dropped in and we decided that the three of us ought to be able to persuade one small dog to go ‘walkies’. This was the result…

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Milo got about 100 yards from the house walking nicely on his lead, the excitement of us all setting out together overcoming his hesitation. A car passed us and he sat down and refused to move an inch so this is how he continued the walk. I see we are going to have to join puppy school.

I’ve had a very productive weekend. I sorted out my workroom which had become a bit of a disaster area of late. I now have a creative space upstairs for my books and a desk for computer based activities in the kitchen. If I work upstairs, Milo sits at the bottom of the stairs, crying. If I let him come up with me, we have a potential ‘puppy pee/poo’ disaster as although he can climb upstairs , he cannot climb down, so if I become engrossed in what I am doing, I pay for it. So it’s easier to stay in the kitchen with the pooch so he can take himself off into the garden when nature calls.

I also managed to set up my Mac in the kitchen to talk to the printer on the top floor and worked out a very complicated double sided, right way up, back to back, A4 on A3 paper, nightmare of a printer problem. (don’t ask!)  I’m still trying to track down some A3 sized inkjet printer paper which is double sided, about 200gsm (or thereabouts) but which isn’t brilliant white. I want off white or cream even and despite hours faffing about on the internet, I can’t seem to track any down. Any thoughts anyone?

I would be feeling quite pleased with myself had I not made the mistake of weighing myself this morning. Bummer. Literally. So the downside to a promising weekend is that I’m back on a diet. And spending my days working in the kitchen is a real test of my shaky will power. I get on much better when I am two floors away from the kitchen, because then I either forget about snacking altogether or at least running up and down two flights of stairs goes someway to mitigate the damage…

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I daren’t turn on my Wii Fit, it will shout at me…

On the real life sporting front, Andy Murray won the Qatar Open, easily beating Andy Roddick and Manchester United beat Chelsea 3 – 0 which thrilled me no end.

To finish, here are two more things which have entertained me this weekend. First was from my friend Claire, who rightly pointed out how clever this is. In her words

‘This guy traveled all over the world with his recording equipment, recording street musicians playing the same song, and then meshed it into one fantastic and inspiring tune.  Just the feat of getting everyone to play it in the same key, in tune and in the same tempo is mind blowing.  Very nice job.
Music is, indeed, universal.’

and the second was from my friend Sharon. It’s a bit like popping bubble wrap and equally as addictive. Just click on this link, then just run your mouse over the bears. You’ll see what I mean.

So that’s it,  my new week’s resolutions are – train Milo, lose weight, get fit – no problem…

Have a fun week.

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Happy New Year!

Well, I’m back. Christmas and New Year passed off very smoothly and enjoyably – ate too much, drank too much, watched too many movies but I am actually facing the New Year (despite the downbeat news) with optimism and equanimity, I am going to make it a good one. It was great to spend time with my boys and my lovely friends. Santa must have thought I had been a good girl last year, as he was extraordinarily generous and somehow managed to get a new 24″  iMac down my chimney. 

The dog loved having the boys home as much as I did, and he adored having two large creatures willing to roll about on the floor with him and brave the arctic conditions to chase around the garden and take him to the beach. Boy toys as opposed to toy boys, I guess. Now they have returned home, Milo sits looking at me with a tragic look on his face whimpering quietly, wondering why I am such a boring replacement ( answer – because I am playing with my iMac…..)

 I haven’t been blogging (what do you mean you hadn’t noticed?!) but I have been spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook. Yesterday I decided to delete all the outstanding ‘notifications’ (almost 60), so apologies if you sent me ‘Karma’ , a plant for my Lil’ green patch, an invitation to play poker, scrabble or a war game, or just wanted to poke, hug or throw a sheep at me, but there were so many I decided to start afresh. New Year and all that….sorry.

The new year has begun on a very good note. I was very gratified to read that it is a really bad idea to go on a diet at the moment, what with the flu epidemic and the horrid sickness (and worse) lurgy doing the rounds, apparently if you are on a diet,  your body’s ability to fight off the viruses is reduced. Read more here. So that’s one less resolution to have to worry about breaking. 

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More good news is that Andy Murray has just won an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi defeating both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the way. And the BBC are announcing who the new Doctor Who will be in 30 minutes in a special program on BBC 1 – all very exciting.

I’ve also been asked to do several web design projects and a big bookbinding project which I will tell you about in a  few weeks time. Who knows? Maybe my ‘hobbies’ will start to earn me some money – which would be a fine thing indeed.

I found a really funny image which keeps making me laugh…

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So it’s been a really good start to the year. I hope yours has begun as well and I wish you lots of wonderfulness for 2009. The best New Year wishes I read were two both by the great Neil Gaiman

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” 

“…I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be,  be wise, and that you will always be kind.” 

Wonderful. You can’t put it better than that, can you? 

Happy New Year everyone.

Later : Ooh, couldn’t wait so I have seen who new Doctor Who is and thought I would tell you all…it’s ……..Matt Smith. Matt Smith? Who?

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Ooh I’m not sure about this at all. My year might have just gone pear-shaped already…

A bit of a whinge….

I’ve been busy. Yes, me. Holiday Queen. I designed a website for a friend and she mentioned this to her friend who happened to need a website and her brother, who happened to need a website and Lo! and Behold! I have been working. All a bit of a shock to the system really especially to poor Milo who can’t understand why I won’t play with him every minute of the day.

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The other down side is that it has dramatically curtailed my blog visits – sorry! But after a day of coding html and css and wrestling with the vagaries of Internet Explorer (Please, World – buy a Mac!) I haven’t had time to visit or post here either.

I have come up against a very thorny, perennial problem working for friends – and friends of friends – how much to charge for my services. I’m obviously not a professional but I would like to think that I do a good professional job – basic with few ‘bells and whistles’ and that is what a lot of people seem to want. ( Check out Duck House) However, given the time it takes to code a website ‘properly’, if I charged a reasonable amount an hour, the costs would be huge, so I charge a fairly low fixed fee. Compared to a ‘professional’ web designer, I am cheap as chips. So my dilemma is, do I pretend to be a ‘professional’ or admit I am a beginner. I would like to make some money doing this. My #2 son who is a newly graduated graphic designer is going to send me a ‘rate card’ which he has taken to using, having suffered the problem of agreeing a fixed fee and then ending up with the job taking much longer than anticipated. It’s a minefield!

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I am rubbish at negotiating. Or standing up for myself. I have been attempting to sell my books at an art sale in the town where I live. I don’t want to undervalue them yet I don’t want to over charge for them and I would like to sell some. I put them at a lowish price (bearing in mind I’m not in the West End of London) and haven’t sold one. Do I lower my prices even more and almost give them away? They are getting lots of positive comments so I think that it’s just not the right marketplace for them but it is disheartening. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on all this. Sorry this has been such a serious post but it has been bothering me.

So to cheer things up, here is a clip from ‘Outnumbered’ which is quite my favourite thing on TV. The second series is fabulous. Last week Karen, the little girl held a funeral for a mouse caught in a trap in their kitchen. It was priceless.

Her teddy bear stood in for the Pope and she said ‘ Dust to dust. For richer for poorer. In sickness and in health. May the force be with you. Because you’re worth it. Amen and out’.

She also asked why Gordon Ramsey swore so much. ‘Shouldn’t it be people like doctors and soldiers and artists that swear? Not cooks. All they are doing is making salad.’ I love her.

And finally, that time of year which I prefer to ignore is looming fast. It’s a minefield and now the boys are grown up and I’m single, I dread it. I don’t want the boys to feel they have to come home but of course, I hope they do! The first time they both had other plans, I went to stay with friends in Vancouver. I had a great time but it was so weird not being with my boys. Last year they both came home and as I had just broken up with my partner and was not in the best of moods, my ex joined us – which was weird but OK. At least he was a welcome distraction! This year, one son has said he is home, the other is negotiating where to spend Christmas, with his girlfriend and I am waiting to hear his plans. Thankfully, a dear friend has invited us to spend Christmas day with them. #2 son is thrilled as she does cook THE BEST Christmas dinner. Yes, even better than mine….

I’m determined to be organized this year. I’ve already ordered my Christmas tree from Crocus, I am going to buy my cards soon so I don’t end up with the horrible leftovers and if I write and post them early, I won’t be stuck in the horrendous queue in the Post Office for hours on end on the last day of posting and maybe the cards I send overseas might actually arrive before Christmas this year.

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My heroes…

I went to see the new James Bond movie ‘The Quantum of Solace’  on Friday. I loved it. Having read lots of mixed reviews, I was unsure whether I would enjoy it as much as ‘Casino Royale’ but I needn’t have worried – was action packed, full of exciting, jaw dropping stunts (all performed by Daniel Craig himself) and finished off the story started in ‘Casino Royale’ very well. Daniel Craig is impossibly gorgeous and the two girls, Gemma Arterton and (especially) Olga Kurylenko, are stunning and wear the most fabulous clothes. The locations are amazing – the scenes shot at the Palio in Siena and at a performance of ‘Tosca’ in Austria stand out. I highly recommend it (but make sure you watch ‘Casino Royale’ first.)

On Sunday, my friend Claire from Los Angeles came to stay. She was on her  way back from filming her cameo in the movie ‘Plus One’ in Cannes. She had a wonderful time but the weather was very un-South of France like – it poured down (unlike when I was there a couple of weeks ago). If nothing else it has convinced her that she would not want to leave the wonderful Californian sunshine for the freezing rain of Europe! You can read about her efforts to get her book made into a movie (which forms the basis of the movie!) over at her blog Claire Fordham, Diary of a Hollywood Somebody) there is also a link to Amazon where you can buy a copy of the book or you can click here. Claire and I have been friends for about 15 years now. She was the first friend I made when came to Dorset. Here’s a photograph of us both taken at a party – it’s what we do best…

We watched the Brazilian Grand Prix yesterday. I’m not a huge motor racing fan, I vaguely follow it but find the races themselves a little tedious. The battle for the Formula 1 World Championship was to be decided at this, the last race of the season.

Britain’s Lewis Hamilton was leading the table but was only 7 points ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa, and Massa had the advantage of being at his home circuit . It was astonishingly exciting and was only decided during the last lap – Massa won the race and we thought Lewis had lost but as Lewis Hamilton managed to manouvre himself into 5th place right at the end, he secured victory. Claire and I were screaming at the TV in excitement – it was truly heart stopping. Claire’s husband Colin (who is a motoring journalist and avid motor racing fan) was back in LA and as he was watching a recording, he was about 5 laps behind us – Claire was able to phone him up and share the astonishment of the last lap with him.

I was very tempted to re-name Milo ‘Lewis’ in honour of the occasion but decided the poor dog was confused enough by all the screeching.

Today, my #2 son arrived home for a few days. It’s my birthday tomorrow (4th) so he has come to spend the day with me. He arrived home with a birthday cake.

Another hero.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig…

Well, I’m back and I seem to have brought back some sunshine – not as warm as California sunshine but very welcome nontheless. I managed to twist my knee playing tennis on the my last day so the 10 hour journey home in my cramped seat, followed by a 3 hour drive home to Dorset was really uncomfortable and painful. It was a price worth paying though for the wonderful time I spent in Venice, Los Angeles.

It’s hard to pick out a highlight as I have so many happy memories but certainly one great day was spent at the J.Paul Getty Museum where we went to see an exhibition by the Italian sculptor Bernini, but also saw an astonishing exhibition of photographs by a German photographer called August Sander, which I thought was truly magnificent. Here are some photographs which #1 son and I took of the museum and gardens.

I also made a pilgrimage with my very patient friend, Claire, to Paper Source and stocked up on very lovely paper so expect a new burst of bookbinding activity!

I went to a party at the home of the composer Michael Brook and his wife, Julie. Michael writes wonderful music , including the scores for the movies ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and ‘Into the Wild’. He showed me a beautiful book about the work of Pierre Legrain and Rose Adler whose Art Deco bookbindings are absolutely exquisite and very inspiring. I found the book on Amazon and have ordered it, I’ll show you some photographs of these fantastic leather bindings, when it arrives.

Claire and her husband, Colin and I went to a great restaurant in Culver City called ‘Vinoteque‘. We had a great meal which was also a tutored wine tasting, comparing Old World and New World wines. The food was tailored to match each wine and it was so interesting to see how the wines complemented and added to the wonderful food. The wine tasting was followed by the US equivalent of a ‘pub quiz’. Astonishingly, our team, ‘The True Brits’ came second and we won a $10 voucher towards a future visit!

Anyway, I’m back now and I’m trying hard to catch up on the blogging front. I’m starting to get round all the blogs I normally visit but it’s a slow process. What with dodgy knees, unpacking, laundry and jet lag, it’s all been a bit mad. I found today, I had been tagged by Kim over at Laketrees. Actually she was sent three tags by Mariuca@Mariuca’s Perfume Gallery but I’m actually only going to do one today. The easiest one (and I think the most fun one). It’s called the Handbag Tag, and in Kim’s words:

The Handbag Tag is from ECL and here are the rules.
Find a safe quiet place free of significant others, nosey meme makers, priests, nuns, all things religious and men in general. (If you’re a guy just reverse this process to male and tell us about your wallet, tool box, briefcase or metro sexual accessory.)
1. Dump the contents of your handbag in a pile.
2. Take a photo of your handbag and the contents.
3. Be brave and ‘splain to your fellow bloggers what lurks inside the handbag.
4. Tag others who might want to embarrass themselves.
5. Answer these questions:
Describe the contents of your handbag. See my list below.

Purse, iPhone, earphones in wallet, camera, spare battery and memory card and case, sunglasses, reading glasses and spare pair, car keys, my Moo card mini cards and wallet, tin of M&S mints, Japanese wallet full of photographs of my boys and my passport, 3 Moleskine notebooks, 7 pens – various colours, 2 pencils, (1 automatic, 1 with sharpener and eraser), Prada perfume, lip balm, travel tooth brush and paste, mosquito repellant, hairbrush, Glastonbury Festival wrist band, various hair ties and clips.

SO MUCH STUFF! My only excuse is that I haven’t had time to empty out the holiday stuff and I don’t normally carry a lot of those things around. No wonder that one of my shoulders is lower than the other :-)

What’s the most important thing in your handbag? My iPhone
What’s the most embarrassing thing in your handbag? Too many pens, pencils and note books! Too much everything!
What’s the smallest thing in your handbag? Hair tie
Is there anything illegal in your handbag? No, although I notice that the pharmacy no longer sells the brand of mossie repellant I like – I think it probably contains something illegal…

So there you have it, I’m going to tag all my commentators, male and female. Show us your handbags, purses, briefcases, wallets, holdalls whatever.

I dare you!

PS You may notice that the menu at the top of my blog is looking a bit untidy. I have expanded the tutorial page to include a gallery of all my books (130 in the slide show I’m afraid!) as I realised that readers who were coming to my blog following ‘bookbinding’ links were probably hard pressed to actually find any, so I decided to include the gallery. Now just need to sell some of the buggers!