Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Boy, there is sure a lot of moving going on. I am 5/7th the way all moved in the Surbiton flat, and now, I am mooooove blogs.

That's right, time to re-set your readers folks because I have had it with blogger. I'm not sure if it's me or if I'm just plain retarded, but I can't make blogger work as well for me as wordpress. Oh sure, blogger has more layouts and you can customize your themes or whatever easily and add a butt load of widgets, but it still doesn't change the fact that if I want to add a photo it appears at the top of the page and I need to drag it down to where I actually want it. So I'm sacrificing widgets and gizmos and artistic visual licence in favour of ease.

Therefore, if you read this blog and would like to continue reading this blog, head on over to

and let the party continue!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

No, I haven't been neglecting this wee bloggy, but not very much is happening just the noo. Acutally, some might call that a total lie. I've been busy recently with entertaining house guests, moving MORE of my (precious) crap down to the London flat, and job hunting. But none of that is particularily noteworthy stuff.

For anyone intersted, here are what the new digs are like (note, I actually wrote this about two weeks ago. Whoops.)

(Greater) London Calling

I had the great pleasure of sleeping in until 7 on Saturday morning so that I could be dressed, ready, and set to catch a train from Waverly to Birmingham. I played it lazy and caught a bus down to Prince's (or as close as you can get with all the damn tram works gutting up the city) and made sure I had plenty of time to get my favourite roast beef sandwich from M&S for munching on the train.

The train down to Birmingham was 5 hours and some change with nothing eventful in the least to mention. I did manage to do quite a bit of knitting and even had one whole finished mitten to show for it.

Then from Birmingham I had another hour and a half train journey to London. However, I was anxiously awaiting my arrival into the Big Smoke because My Honey was meeting me at the station and taking me to our new home.

Our new home, although marketed as London, is actually about 20 mins (by fastest train) from the Waterloo city centre station in the suburb of Surbiton. And I have to say, it's quite nice! The neighbourhood reminds me of the nice, old areas of Santa Rosa- Like the houses in and around MacDonald Drive, just without the mansions and with the larger homes actually being made up of 3 or 4 flats. Even though we live on a main street, it's so much quieter than our flat in Edinburgh, and that' not just because the pubs close at 10 or 11 instead of 1 or 3 AM. We don't get the constant sirens, the singing drunks, the knock-out brawls, or the sweet lullaby of crashing glass bottles any more. Instead, we are across the street from several Italian restaurants, a French restaurant, a Chinese takeaway, and some smaller shops. We have a nice 10 minute walk through a small residential and forested area, and arrive at Surbiton high street which houses a GIANT Waitrose, a GIANT Sainsbury, and a smallish M&S (no clothes). There's also quite a smattering of cafes, a few pubs, and some good charity shops. I can't wait to explore the bigger supermarkets and the larger cache of ingredients they're sure to wield.

BUT, we are also only a 10 minute bus ride from Kingston, which has some great shopping. A giant John Lewis, some other department store I had never heard of, a Primark, a clothing store that starts with Uni which I really like (Uniqui? UniGlo? UniQuoi?), an Odeon, Argos, basically everything you would need. (EDIT: I just realised that Kingston is only a freaking 1.3 miles away. Totally walkable, especially by the river!)

I've not been into London proper yet, but know that it's only a (relatively) fast train away. Apparently the National Archives are somewhere close around here, so I would ideally like to look for a job there first before looking at places farther away.(EDIT: FUCKING National Archives! Won't hire me due to an antiquated law that FORBIDS anyone NON British/Commonwealth/EU from doing research for hire. Dude, it's not 1776 anymore and we Yanks are NOT trying to sneak into your country and rewrite your precious history!)

Now for the flat: awesome. It's about 2.5x bigger than what we had back in the Burgh. You enter through a communal door and then it's straight up some rather narrow stairs. Then you unlock the door to our flat and there's about a 3x3 space to hang some coats before going straight up some more stairs. At the top is all ours. To the left is a kitchen and bathroom, to the right a hallway which leads to a bedroom and a living room. It's SO NICE to have actual rooms. The old place in Edinburgh was like two rooms. Because our bath room was so small and didn't count. But here, you actually have a separate and isolated kitchen, a separate and isolated bathroom WITH A BATHTUB! And a wonderful living room that totally just makes the flat feel like an actual home. My Honey did a great job pillaging IKEA and we made off with some great things. I love that we now have an ACTUAL couch that can comfortably fit more half a body, room for chairs, and space for bookcases. Plus a bedroom bit enough to actually accommodate a bed AND not one, but two wardrobes! It still doesn't feel like 100% mine yet since I still have quite a lot of things still in Edinburgh, but I can't wait to get this place outfitted with home-like things. I can't wait to actually start using the kitchen, to get baking, to fill the cupboard with spices and pastas and tins. to reorganise the bookshelf alphabetically (nerd, I know), to fill up the air with my incense, and to deck the place out with candles and flowers.

The stairs leading up from our front door to the main door of our flat

Some living room action

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

I am, for the most part, very happy with my body. Yeah, I know I need to lose the stone I put on thanks to dissertation stress/never leaving the computer for 3 months, and yeah, I could also do with losing another stone which I gained after returning to America after my year long study abroad in the UK the first time around. BUT, that aside, for the most part I am not that fussed.

That is until last week. And it's not so much a desire to be thin but because I'm a cheap ass bastard who had a revelation: Skinny chicks spend less money. And spending less money means having more in the bank.

How did this come about? Friction. You see, as I was sitting down on the couch one day, I realised that my thigh friction had caused my jeans to weaken to the point that they started to disintegrate and form holes. This meant I needed to buy another pair of jeans. But hold up, these jeans I was in were not that old. I mean, I purchased them in December of last year- they were only 10 months old. And they were Levis. LEVI JEANS SHOULD LAST LONGER THAN LESS THAN A YEAR!!!!!

Then it hit me- those girls, the ones who fall over when someone sneezes, have 'the gap'- that space between the legs where their thighs don't touch and their crotch is free to feel the breezes, unhindered by any wobbly bits. I have never had this in my life, even when I wore a size 3 in the Juniors section when I was 13. My thighs have always touched. But girls with 'the gap' don't get thigh friction and can probably make a pair of Levis last for years. Heck, they probably don't even need to buy new jeans EVER because nothing on their bodies would ever generate enough friction to cause jeans to disintegrate- except for maybe their spindly kneeds poking through, and even that nowadays in considered trendy.

But it goes beyond frictionless clothes. As a knitter, I am having to always spend just a little bit more to buy those one or two extra skeins of wool to make the medium patterns. Chicks in the XS-S range get to spend less on yarn- and those extra yards can add up to an extra hat or set of mittens!

They take up less space in bed which means they can get by fine in a single bed, and can even share that with a partner because heck- they're so skinny that if they lie sidways, it's like they're not even there. And single beds and all their bed linen accoutrements is significantly cheaper than buying for a double or larger.

Since they're smaller, it also means their clothes are smaller, which in turn means they can pack more clothes into a suitcase. This means it's cheaper for them to fly on those budget airlines which charge for cases/weight.

Overall, this means that skinny chicks should be saving bank, and that just pisses me off because I am Skinty McSkink face over here who had to sacrifice getting a hair cut (it's been 4 months now, the hair is looking bad!) in order to replace the 10 month old jeans thanks to my thunder thighs. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Monday, 21 September 2009

As much as I would like to convince myself otherwise, there are few things in this world that excite me more than food. I once told My Honey that a very under-rated, but downright amazing superpower to have would be to be able to speak the language of whatever native country you're in. He scoffed at this, saying that he would much rather have laser eyes or something, but I replied 'if you could speak the language of the locals, you could find out all the best places to eat!'. He laughed at me and said 'it all comes back to food, doesn't it?'.

Yes, it does.

For the past 5 years, I have been having Vietnamese Pho withdrawal. Vietnamese food in general. Whenever I got the chance to go home, the foods I immediately had to cram down my throat as a welcome ceremony for being back in the States were fish tacos from non-English speaking hole in the walls, and Vietnamese food.

I love how fresh Viennese food is- you literally eat the stuff within seconds of it being made, and only fresh ingredients will make it work. So imagine how happy I was to find out that they sold rice paper wraps at the Asian Mart a block from my flat in Edinburgh. I threw myself into making Vietnamese spring rolls, and for a while, it sated my desire for Vietnamese food. I also expanded and made Vietnamese noodle salads and tried to spread the Vietnamese goodness to anyone who would come to dinner. But my precious Pho was always unattainable.

I've found plenty of recipes for Pho online, but the beef stock in itself would take a day or so to prepare, use 800 spices and ingredients, and honestly, I couldn't be bothered.

Yesterday I had to go shopping for a little dinner party I have having where I planned on serving Vietnamese spring rolls with a peanut sauce as a starter. But I had stupidly forgot to purchase the rice vermicelli at the Asian mart the day before, and sadly, it was closed on Sundays. So I hoped and prayed that the large stop Waitrose would have what I needed. As I walked from Tollcross up and over towards the Morningside area, I passed a Thai mart in Bruntsfield. Obviously I had to go in. Not only did they have my noodles, but they had PHO STOCK! A little brown jar filled with a gelatinous mix of garlic, spices, and chilies. I felt like I had just completed a mission in life. They also had a fresh section that had Thai Basil, Thai coriander, and mint, and beansprouts. It was like Jesus said 'go forth and make Pho'. And I did. I had planned on just having it veggie style, but on the way home, I passed the giant ScotMid and figured I might as well take a look at their meat. Lo and behold, they had a thing of thinly sliced Angus beef slices for sale. Another sign!

I raced home, and even though I had to prepare this big dinner, I had to have my Pho first. I boiled the water, added a spoonful of the Pho stock, and giddly danced around the bubbling pot, unable to contain my excitement as I threw in the noodles. I put 3 strips of the beef in the largest bowl I had (my giant mixing bowl) and poured the hot soup mixture over it. The beef was thin enough that it cooked within seconds. Then I washed and threw in my fresh, precious herbs. I even had some Hoi Son sauce to bung in. The smell coming from my pot was orgasm inducing and the taste....oh my sack, it was like finding the holy grail of deliciousness.

Naturally I found this amazing shop about a month or so before I have to move, but I plan on stock piling the Pho mix in the event that I will never find it again. I know that London does have Vietnamese restaurants, but we will be living quite far from the city center, and cost wise, it might not make sense to dash into London proper for a bowl of food (not that I'm sure it won't happen), but now I know I have the ability to replicate the food I love, and I haven't been able to stop smiling since!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Let's get one thing out there right now. I belive in evolution. Hardcore. I most certainly do not believe that Jesus rode a dinosaur.

I also believe that chemicals and poisioning the earth will result in some fucked up shit. Like this:

Snake that grew a foot out of its body: Snake with foot found in China
Yes. That is a snake. A snake with a CLAW OF DEATH!!

Dean Qiongxiu, 66, said she discovered the reptile clinging to the wall of her bedroom with its talons in the middle of the night.

"I woke up and heard a strange scratching sound. I turned on the light and saw this monster working its way along the wall using his claw," said Mrs Duan of Suining, southwest China.

Working it sway along the wall using his claw. WTF! Now, snakes are alreay scary enough with their silent, slithering-ness and their fanes of venemous death. The last thing we need is to have snakes with claws able to abilsail walls, ceilings, and bite your face off all the while clawing your innerds out.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Naturally, I get a call on Thursday from the Temp Agency asking if I could work an extra week at the Hospital. And since I am desperate for the cash, I eagerly agree. Only to discover on Friday night that that strange tickle in my throat had morphed in to sore, aching, painful to swallow pain in my throat. By Saturday morning, when I had to go into work at the Library, it was def. obvious that I had caught something and was suffering. So I employed my Quick Cure For Sickness technique- drank about 10 cups of tea and went to bed early. Sunday I woke up feeling leaps better. The sore throat had reverted back to it's dull ache, the stuff coming out of my nose was no longer sludge green but back to clear, and the headache that made me want to decapitate myself was reduced to just a aching inconvenience. Do I feel well enough to paint the town red, hike a mountain, or wake up the next day before 6 to go to work? No, but I do fell well enough to spend the day inside, listening to 1920-50s radio, baking, cooking, and knitting. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Being sick like I am, I felt like soup was in order. So I bundled myself up, took a quick trip to the store, and came back prepared for the week. Dinner for tonight (and most likely tomorrow and possible the following night too) will be Leek and Potato Soup with Fresh Baked Bread rolls.

2-3 good Leeks, cut up good
2-3 potatoes, diced
1-2 pints of stock- mine ended up being two parts chicken one part veg thanks to what was in the cupbord
1 garlic clove smushed.

Throw the leeks in the pan with a big knob of butter. Let them sizzle and get wilty while you're peeling and dicing the potatoes. Throw in the spuds, cover with stock, and cover and simmer on low for a few hours. I like to then take a hand blender and churn up the chunks so that the soup is creamy, but a lot of restaurants leave the soup chunky.

The Bread recipe is your standard googled one. Something like 3 cups flour, 2 tbls of yeast, some warm water, and a pinch of salt. Kneed, cover, let raise, bake.

But I still had to deal with lunch. Now, being a Cali girl, I get a big craving for things like artichokes all the time. Which they only sell as artichoke hearts in a jar at Sainsbury. It's also that time of the month when I desperately start craving iron- bloody steaks, or, in this case, spinach. Lots of it. So I'm thinking something like an artichoke spinach dip. Unfort., all the recipes online involve a butt load of mayo and I have cream cheese to use up, so I figured I'd make my own up.

Lunch: Open Faced Bagel Sandwich with fresh artichoke spinach spread and tomatoes.
1 Jar of Sainsbury grilled artichoke hearts
half a bag of spinach
1 clove garlic (two if you're trying to combat illness like moi)
half a tub of low fat cream cheese (gotta feel somewhat healthy)
Parmesan cheese

I threw in the artichokes, letting some of the olive oil it was packed in drip off first in to my mini food processor. Then I wilted the fresh spinach in a bit of kettle boiled water. Dumped that in. Tossed in my garlic, and then threw in about half of my cream cheese. Churned that up good. Done. Then I just spread it on a bagel , topped with fresh tomato, and sprinkled with a dash of Parmesan. Toasted it for about 2 mins under the grill.

And now, nothing left to do but sit back, munch away, and debate which mitten pattern I want to finish.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

It's no secret that August in Edinburgh is Crazy Land. I'm sure Brittney Spears would be absolutely at home here. The streets are PACKED. Not just packed like a busy shopping sale weekend, but packed as in you need to have a torch and whip to beat back the hordes of tourists who like to just stop in the middle of the street to stare at yet another dude dressed in drag.

It takes at least an additional 10 minutes to get from point A to B because of how long it takes to wade through the throngs. And in addition to the billion of tourists visiting the City are the Crazies. These consist of
1) People who think they have talent but really really don't. Be they the most cringing and un-funny 'comedians', people who think others want to see them dressed in chicken costumes miming acts from Post- Modernest French deconstruction theatre, or those who think the public enjoy listening to their renditions of Beatles medleys played on the kazoo.

2) The groupies- the ones who hang out with the 'performers' who think they are the shit because they totally know that guy playing a violin while balancing on stilts.

3) General crazy-ass people who think that since everyone else is ACTING crazy, then they are at liberty to express their inner looney. Most of the time they do this by 'dancing' in ridiculous and downright frightful over expressive movements to the music of other street performers that they meet along their crazy wanderings. Maybe they'll just get a little too involved in others' performances by trying to steal the scene. Or, in my case, they decided to go to the National Library and cause all sorts of a commotion.

Par example, the other day, while minding my own business, we received a complain from one of our more scholarly patrons that an individual was cutting her toenails in the reading room. Now, the reading room consists of 6 24 seater tables, so not at all privet. And, she also left all her clipping right there as well. AND, to add insult to injury, she demanded to see the manager after being told off by him to complain that she didn't see anything wrong with her actions. This caused quite a commotion from another patron who very loudly informed her what an unhygienic prat she was being.

THEN, the same day, while I was manning the security desk, a clearly crazy woman came in. Crazy because her hair looked like Medusa, she was wearing a hot pink bra underneath a see-through black lace lingerie top, and she was eating an apple. In a National Library. She strutted around in front of the desk as she took in the sights while I tried to think of how to politely say she needed to leave. Luckily, before I managed to get a word out, she headed back out towards the doors, but not before turning to me to ask 'Are you happy here? Like, is the vibe really good?' 'Umm, yeah, I quite enjoy it' I manged to stammer out. ' Really? Because I've been fucking miserable for months!' and with that, she left.

THEN, during the same week, we had a guy dressed in a skin tight biker (think Lance Armstrong) suit come in with a megaphone. Which he spoke through, as though riling the troops to give hugs not drugs and peace a chance. He claimed he wanted to come into the Library, but was deaf and needed the security woman to answer through the megaphone. She refused, but even though be claimed to be deaf, it didn't stop HIM from using the megaphone and making US all deaf by default. Finally, after the security lady conveyed that he needed to get a readers ticket before being allowed access, he left, announcing to the library that we 'could now go about [our] business.' I would bet £10 he was just another crazy trying to get away with using a megaphone in a library. Wanker.

Luckily, the Fringe festival is now OVER, the streets have cleared, the billion fliers decorating every flat surface have been binned, and there are no longer people in gimp suits walking nonchalantly around. I have about a week rest before the students descend. Giggidy.


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