Thursday, 27 November 2008

with love from you to me

Birthday and Christmas requests/ suggestions

I would be delighted to receive

Slippers (shoe size 4-4.5)
PJs – prob size 12, depends how baggy they look- maybe size 10
Dressing gown
Teasmade – seriously. Would be too embarrassed to put it on a wedding list though
Hot water bottle
Nigella Lawson Christmas cookbook
Fancy liquid soap
Size 6 ½ gloves to match purple coat – so black probably
Writing paper or notelets
Scented candles- or non-scented ones too!
A nice woollen jumper – again size 10 if it looks baggy, 12 if a neater fit; any autumnal / berry shade would be great, though probably not teal (have big cardi) or purple (trying to knit own cardi). Ideally something decent and moderately classy, though ultimately something warm.

I already have/don’t need/no thank you
Clothes from Mackays – don’t think their stuff fits me too well
Any house related / cooking / bed-linen items – I plan on putting them on our wedding list

Saturday, 22 November 2008

The Ugly Sister's Slipper

I was looking on the Draper of Glastonbury website, a company selling footwear, particularly of the sheepskin variety when I noticed this particularly jazzy shoe. A "colourful quartered design" nonetheless. And guess what DoG have named this slipper? Yes, the design is "Emily".

Why are there no cool things called Emily (other than my good self of course)?

kitchen questions

What do you all (ha - Both!!) think of kitchens from Ikea?

I was looking round the place today, and there are some nice designs.
I do think that a key thing would be to have someone fit it who knows what they are doing, and who has fitted ikea kitchens before.

You see, the kitchen is massive, and it will be highly costly to kit out with cupboards and work surface. To my mind, I thought we should put an adequate kitchen in at the moment, one that will last us a few years, but not our absolutely best ever, wowee kitchen, because we can't afford it. Does that seem sensible enough?

The nexus range is quite nice. Wood veneer cupboards- totally plain. No dust trapping ledges. There are 2 colourways that are options; Patrick likes the more orangey mid-brown oak veneer, I like the darker brown stain. Patrick's option does slightly remind me of the kitchen in Hazelbank, but I shouldn't hold on to that image particularly, as a newly fitted, sleek lined kitchen would be a far cry from what we had in Gala.

Anyhow, your thoughts would be appreciated. There are a lot of decisions to be made regarding the house, and some of it is quite daunting. It will be totally magic when it's done though.

PS - we have gone with your idea, Ali of knocking down the outside shunky. Just need to figure out whether we should move the window on the back wall of the kitchen to enlarge and centralise it, or else it will be tucked in one corner and we will be unable to run cupboards into there. Think I may just have answered my own question, but it involves some propping up of the back of the house to prevent it collapsing when the window is temporarily removed. Yikes!!!

This old house

Well, great news on the home front. Nigel, the viewer who was here the other day has arranged a second viewing!!! I am delighted. His house is under a compulsory purchase order so the council can do something with the land it is on, so he has to buy. Also, you get pretty good money in a sale like that.

He and a pal are coming round on Tuesday to have a second look. I am trying not to be too optimistic, because obviously, as soon as he puts his hand to the side of the fireplace he'll feel the damp and may just run out the door. However Patrick thinks Nigel is gay and so maybe he is just coming back round to see old Pat. Frankly, whatever it takes. I need this house sold!

Incidentally, when I had the builder round the other day he was talking about essential work to do in a house, and mentioned DPC!! I was amazed, I didn't know that the crockery of the deceased was as popular here as it undoubtedly is en Ecosse.

Turns out he was talking about a damp proof course.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Boom Boom!!!

Q. Why do builders have clear plastic lunch boxes?

A. So they can tell whether they are going to work or on their way home.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Time for a Tacky Covers reunion?

check these dudes out!!!!

I fancy getting a covers band, who will do some classic rock and not take themselves too seriously. See their cover of "You're the one that I want" as an example. They are playing tonight in Belfast and so I think I'll see if I can persuade Sharon to go and see them...

and also the lead singer is the infection control nurse in the Ulster Hospital, so it is funny to think of red epaulets by day, rocking (or should that be rockin'?) by night.

DIY dunce

Remember I was so happy and pleased with myself when I mended the drawer in the kitchen?
The top drawer, housing the cutlery is knackered.
I suspect partly through over vigourous drawer closing, and partly because the unit itself is wider than the drawer and so the runners weren't that secure. The problem is I can't pull the drawer right out to mend the hinge on the frame, so the thing is banjaxed.
Any suggestions? Glue? Brute force? Shout at any viewer (Ha! That's the real joke!) who tries to open the drawer to check out the "quality" of the kitchen? Prayer?

Friday, 7 November 2008

Ask and thou shalt receive

So, I am sure we all agree that it is preferable to receive something nice at Christmas time, to open up a present and be pleased with its contents. I truly desire to achieve this with you all, chere famille.

To aid me in this please SEND ME YOUR CHRISTMAS LISTS.

I know already who has been naughty and nice, but I don't have a list to check twice yet, so please help me out. I feel that my Christmas gifts in recent times have missed the mark with a few of you and I want to improve. I want there to be happy faces all round at Christmas 08. On a practical note, I may come home on Boxing day rather than pre-Christmas, so I am actually talking about happy faces on 26/12 rather than on the festive day itself. I hope none of you think that is a bad idea. Nothing finalised yet, just thinking through the practicalities.

And speaking of practicalities... apparently John Lewis get up to 12 complaints a day (during busy Christmas times) from customers about the lack of availability of the Teasmade. Apparently they are going to produce a new version. I would love a teasmade, I really would. I haven't quite figured out the milk issue - though in NI it would be cold enough for it to just sit out on the windowsill over night. I would be far too embarrassed to put a teasmade on a wedding list but would love to own one. I have spoken at length with Pat about it, so maybe best to communicate, lest I get enough Teasmade for one in every bedroom on the new house. Least you'd get a cup of tea in the morning when you come and visit!

Starter for 10

Wedding Menu Suggestions arrived today from the Yellow Door. Here are the starters they have offered...

  • Hot Smoked Irish Salmon with Horseradish Potato Bread, Pea Shoots and Lemon Aioli

  • Gravadlax of Irish Salmon With Horseradish Pannacotta, Baby Salad Leaves, Citrus Oil and Vine Tomato Concasse
  • Roast Irish Seafood on Warm Potato Salad With Kilkeel Lobster Veloute
  • Queen Scallop Nicoise with Fried Chorizo, Lemongrass and Coriander Dressing
  • Parmesan Crusted Baked Irish Cod With Grilled Asparagus, Baby Basil and Lemon Aioli
  • Pan Fried Proper Smoked Haddock Brandade Cakes With Garden Pea Puree, Pea Shoots
Don't they all just sound fantastic?! I am particularly keen on the first one I have to say. Although I think the scallop would be nice, I don't think it would be appropriate for the whole gang and the gravadlax doesn't totally rock my world.

Thoughts people?

Did I mention that I was engaged?

It has been so nice to have seen you all after our recent engagement. I am still very much enjoying wearing my engagement ring, and should you wish to see it again - here is a nice pic I took of it stuffed into a houseplant.

the last days of my 20s

Well, we are well and truly into November now.
I have been lighting the coal fire downstairs (my emphysema is coming along nicely, thank you) and generally planning how to celebrate / commiserate on my turning 30. I think I may have a small house party, with some suitably good natured friends, sparkling wine (Sainsbury's have 25% off at the moment) and some canape type stuff.
If any of you fancy joining in the fun, then rock on over to NI on 29th Nov.
Alternatively, feel free to send large cash gift.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Back on track

After getting in to a bit of a sticky wicket resulting in much embarrassment, I have decided that my future does indeed lie in blog-writing, though perhaps of the more careful variety.

I am hosting an afternoon tea this afternoon (hey, couldn't have guessed the time of day...). It is to raise funds for Marie Curie. What started as a few pals coming round for a cup of tea and a biscuit has now escalated into approx 20 people, plus some small children landing round here for sandwiches, cakes, traybake, scones with cream and jam and other niceties. I am slightly worried about the chair situation. There are really only seats for about 8 people, so musical chairs will be the order of the day.

I will return with pics of cakes to show you in due course. Potentially also a pic of Pat wearing only trousers and a bow tie which he feels is the most appropriate outer wear for a gent on such an oestrogen heavy occasion...

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Driving Miss Daisy

So, Patrick was in The Cut- men only, grrrr, hairdressers the other day when he saw an advert in the Belfast Telegraph, quite possibly the poorest written paper in the UK.

"Elderly couple seeking competent driver
for weekend shopping trips and lunch.
Must have own car or be able to drive an automatic."

Patrick phoned them up and played every one of his toff cards, casually mentioning that he was a solicitor, that he had return to do some further studies and the accent was as cut-glass as I have ever heard it. The old guys were less then excited about clambouring into the back of a Mini so Patrick duly told them that he could drive an automatic and that he had found it to be "fine". Of course he hasn't been anywhere near the driving seat of such a car in all his days.

The interview last night seemed to go well and he has ended up in a fairly flexible situation where these guys are going to give him a call when they fancy an outing. The husband has some sort of dementia possibly, so I am sure it will all be great craic, and I suspect his wife is keen for some sensible company. Not quite sure where Pat fits into this equation!

If anyone knows where I could find a peaked cap, let me know. And thanks to AF for his tips on driving an automatic. A friend in work said it was like driving a go-kart, AF suggested it was like a dodgem. I think Pat should stick with the go-kart analogy.

Well, carry on Jeeves.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

House update

We put in an offer on the house on Friday.
They said no.
But then said what they would consider, which was the sum I had kind of anticipated paying anyway- so maybe not that bad!
I will keep you updated...though I see that my blog view numbers are not exactly sky-rocketing. I will continue to shout into the ether though!

Friday, 25 July 2008

Just remembered

Oh yeah, stuff did happen this week.

I made a new ironing board cover!
As you can see it fits in just grand in my spare room, or maybe it is a bit difficult to spot in said room as the cheery floral pattern blends in with the carpet.

It does look quite like Kath Kidston stuff, but did not set me back 20 notes.

In fact it hardly cost me a bean because I had the fabric lying around anyway. It was the back of an Ikea single duvet cover, the front of which I used to make the Roman blind in the spare room.

Should anyone think they would like one of these items for their Christmas, let me know. I reckon I could also stretch to a peg-bag.

General Friday Chat

Very little has happened this week and certainly nothing has happened that was worth photographing. Therefore, sorry that this entry is not such a hoot as previous. A few points to clarify though.

1. I do acknowledge that the photograph of my "wonderful" pancake actually doesn't look that hot. Or rather, that it had been cooked too hot. 'Well-fired' was one comment I received. I think I have 2 options here

(a) make excuses to my large readership and claim that all the other pancakes were fab and that one was an exception
(b) tell my by now dwindling readership that I don't give a monkeys and if they can make better pancakes then they can post their own photos.

Yay! What an idea! A pancake competition! Realistically, am I ever going to write the next Chocolate and Zuchinni blog? There is no point in trying to make this blog have broad appeal.

I have not yet decided what the prize will be for the lucky winner. Watch this space.

2. I put an offer in on another house. All very nerve wracking. This is the property which was described by a 1st degree relative as massive and ugly and overpriced.

OK, it is not yet perfect- far from it. However I have high hopes regarding its potential and in a few years time (read 10+) I am sure it will be passable. In the meantime I have contacted the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum to see if they would like to come and take away the boiler for one of their exhibits. I hope to hear from the estate agent on Monday. Dad would have been proud of me - I offered 84K less than the asking price. Ballsy no?

That's all folks.
But just to keep you happy, here is a photograph of Patrick rowing.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Speedy Pancakes

I tried out Anne Magill's pancake recipe.
It is ace, I am v pleased with it. I feel as though I have found some sort of baking-enlightenment.

The recipe was passed on to me in the verbal tradition. At Mum's retirement lunch Bron and I were commenting that whoever had made the drop scones had done lovely job, that neither of us could make them, and unfortunately the secret to said DS was probably 50 years of practice. However, I was dispatched by Bronters to find out (a) who made them and (b) to get their recipe. Finding out the answer to A was ok, (A.ok even!!) but I felt a bit of a pillock in the second part because Anne was labourious telling me the recipe whilst the other 7 octogenarians were rushing round her in the kitchen the size of a phone box with hot water and dishes. Undeterred, I got the recipe, and you will be pleased to learn that it is straight forward and 50 years of practice is not required.

So, as it was told to me.

Anne; Take 8oz of self rising flour.
Add to it 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda. And 1/2 tsp of, of, Barbara! What do you put in pancakes?
Barbara -[answer off] I don't make them.
Emily - Salt?
Anne- no, not salt.
Emily - Baking powder?
Anne - (exasperated) No! Margaret- what do you put in pancakes?
Margaret- [knee deep in dishes] What? Pancakes? Mine are like shoe leather. Why is this dishwasher not drying the dishes? This thing is useless.
Anne and Emily exit the kitchen, with a look of great relief and embarrassment upon Emily's face. Anne continues to contemplate raising agents.
Not bicarbonate of soda, not baking powder, not salt - the other one.
Emily (last ditch effort.) Cream of Tartar??
Anne - Yes!! 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar.
Anne and Emily move to centre left of stage, Emily is seen to have aged considerably during this passage
Anne- OK, so are you with me so far? 8oz, flour, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, 1/2 tsp bicarb and 2 spoonfulls of sugar. Mix all that round.
Emily - got it.
Anne - put 2 eggs in a measuring jug and switch them
Emily - (to audience) Friends, switching eggs? What is the meaning of this? Is this some kind of baking mojo? Should I be offering to cast out demons or call social services?
Anne - then make them up to 10 floz with milk. Add the liquid to the flour etc and mix round. When the bubbles start to appear on the surface start cooking.
Barbara- [moving from stage back during last passage unbeknown to Emily] You need a girdle!
Emily - [under breath] One more comment like that and you'll get a sock!! Ok, I had a few egg sandwiches and a slice of fruit cake, but that was all!
Anne- yes, put some butter on your girdle...
Emily - puzzled- wonders when ladies foundation garments became the topic du jour.
Anne -
When it's hot, cook the pancakes, turn them when the bubbles form on the top side.
Barbara - You should get a girdle for your birthday!
Emily [to audience] the Terrific at Thirty mug and a girdle? No way! These oldsters have some cheek. At least I got the recipe....
Curtain falls
Voice Over - Here ends another chapter of "Recipes from the Edge" starring Emily as daring gourmand, recipe hunter extraordinaire, Anne as the gentle cook with 50 years baking experience and holder of Drop Scone of Jura Award 1972 and Barbara as Damart sales rep.


It was hard work. Have to say, I've made it a few times now - only a half quantities, and it is great. One point worth making perhaps is that the mixture is thick enough to point a wall with. Very much a mixture rather than a batter, so don't be tempted to add more milk. The mixture requires a little spreading when it hits the girdle. I made them for mum the other day, and they were pretty much ready by the time the pot of tea was made. So, thanks to Anne and Barbara, genuinely, though my title Speedy Pancakes definitely refers to the time to make them, rather than the time to acquire the instructions.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Teacher's pet

I am currently doing the Saturday morning adolescent diabetes clinic.
However! It is the first Saturday of the hols and it is raining heavily, so I am anticipating not all will turn up.
To brighten the mood I baked brownies last night for my colleagues to enjoy. This is the recipe I followed, but I am not convinced it is that good. Comments and better recipes welcome.

185g butter (I know, metric units. Bring back Imperialism)
275g golden castor sugar (I just used ordinary)
185g dark chocolate - good stuff
3 eggs
85g plain flour
60g (or maybe 40, I am writing this off the top of my head) cocoa powder

In the style of Gordon Ramsey, butter and sugar; beaten. Eggs; added. Chocolate; melted. Cooled chocolate; folded (in). Flour and cocoa; ditto.
Now, I gave it 25 mins in a mod oven (~160 c). The I put another 8 mins on the timer because it looked pretty liquid still. However, I was watching the first ever Starwars film (for the first ever time!) and so I didn't hear the buzzer and it got a bit longer - though no idea how much longer.

The top of it is nice and flaky but it is really damp and squigy inside. I guess I remember the recipe from the Good Housekeeping children's cookbook which was perhaps a more spartan recipe (also made by a 9 yr old) in which it was all quite biscuity apart from a chewy middle.

2 questions
(a) is the current vogue for desert-like brownies universal or did I just muck up the recipe?
(b) do you have a better recipe?

Friday, 4 July 2008

progress report #1

Hello you've reached Knit-Line...

Thank you to Mum and Alison for your help to date with my newest knitting project.

After having packed up so many of my possessions and then moved them to Patrick's parent's house and then realised the unpacking of them will not be for a long time I decided to get me some new wool.

It is 100% merino wool, I am using a Debbie Bliss pattern, all done on 3 3/4 needles (which are small as far as I am concerned) and a cable needle. Having never cabled anything before I am chuffed by the results! This is the back of the "ribbed cardigan" and I thought the detail at the back was lovely. Obviously when worn it will be pulled out a bit, which should perhaps show the pattern off a bit more but I am loathe to pull it for photographic effect as I suspect the picture that would follow would be a picture of Sad Emily, trying to put the dropped stitches back on her 3 3/4 needles.

Further photos will follow.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Chère Famille

Hello All,

When I was in the process of putting the house on the market I was so pleased with all the improvements that I wanted to show you the pictures and give a blow-by-blow account of what I had been up to...hence my well-received power-point presentation "Walking Under the Property Ladder".

As you know, my house is now on the market (as good as) but we have bowed out of the one we were planning to purchase next week due to the fact that the house to the right of it appears to be peri-demolition. I am sure that you are all mighty pleased I have not gone through with the purchase - thus saving much head-melting on my part.

Anyway, I had decided to start a blog to keep you all updated on the house move (exciting pics of the removal van etc). The pictures of packing boxes will obviously have to wait, but I though I may as well embrace the blog-movement as I re-start the house hunting. I eagerly await your feedback!