Monday, 8 November 2010

NaNo Wordle...

...so far.


Wordle: NaNo

I've suddenly realised...

...why 2010 has felt a bit weird.

Nothing has happened.

Well I mean, obviously things have happened, but nothing huge and life-changing.

I mean, let's go back a few years.

  • 1999 - realised that the uni course I'd wanted to do for years, was not for me, so left uni.

  • 2000 - split up with my uni-boyfriend, moved in with a friend who became a boyfriend, got dismissed from my job and had my first acknowledged episode of depression.

  • 2001 - split up with James and moved home.

  • 2002 - met The Yeti and moved 150 miles up to Wolverhampton with him after knowing him 3 months.

  • 2003 - both my grandfather, and the eldest son of one of my mum's oldest friends died. (Granddad was a bit of a shock, George was a hell of a shock, he was only 28. Killed by a drunk driver.) Two days after finding out about Granddad and George, I tripped off a kerb and broke my arm.

  • 2004 - The group of friends that I socialised with was split asunder by someone who we all trusted. While a few of them still see each other, I have hardly seen any of them since. (one of the reasons my social life is work folks, my ex-neighbour Angie, or Twitter folks).

  • 2005 - I had a miscarriage the day before my wedding.

  • 2006 - I have a second miscarriage. A week later, The Yeti left. Two months after that, I met Anthony.

  • 2007 - My father died and I had to take a month off work over Christmas as I couldn't get out of bed.

  • 2008 - Obvious repercussions at work at the beginning of the year. Miscarriage number three at the end of it.

  • 2009 - Mum is told she has breast cancer (grade one, she's had the all-clear barring the 5 years of meds), the Monza trip, we buy a house.


See? There's been at least one huge event a year.

I mean, plenty has happened this year: tweet-ups, book signings, Anthony winning DotY again. But nothing super major life-changing.

I really do hope I'm not tempting fate here...

(unless it's a nice thing!)

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The delightful...

...@kayels has a guest post on her (very quiet (but who am I to criticise)) blog by @SRT40 (or @SRT40_USA as he was for this trip).

Worth reading for a snapshot into one man's crazy seven days in SoCal.

California Dreamin

Sunday, 3 October 2010

A meme about..

...Twitter.

Thank you to the lovely Caron for tagging me with this meme. I especially like her description of me as: "the lovely book loving, F1 loving, Lewis Hamilton loathing Kate"

When did you join Twitter?

On the 4th of March 2007. Yes. I know! Having read back on my old blog for March 2007 it turns out I joined Twitter before I joined Facebook. Now that's just scary.

Why did you join Twitter?

I had a few blogging friends who joined it at the same time, namely Keris, Caroline and Soraya. A couple of others like Jamaila joined a couple of months later. I thought it seemed like an interesting thing. It has become a fascinating thing.

Who is/was your first or oldest follower? Who did you follow first? Tell me all about them.

The first people I followed were/are:
Keris
EmLah
DianeShipley
Sorayaleila
Caroline_S

The first people to follow me were/are:
Keris
EmLah
ClaireAllan
DianeShipley
Caroline_S

(this is what happens when you're an early adopter!)

Do you have any celebrities following you, or have you ever had a DM from a celeb?

I have a couple of celebrity followers. Like a few of the early adopters, I'm followed by Stephen Fry (although I very much doubt he reads my tweets). I'm also followed by Jason Bradbury (from the Gadget Show), Meg Cabot (another early adopter bonus), Katie Fforde (one of my favourite authors), and Phill Jupitus (who sent me a DM saying he loved my use of the word "ditsy" in my Twitter profile and promptly followed me).

As for DM's, I've had a few from the above mentioned fabulous people, plus Suzi Perry has sent me a few (she tends to reply to messages via DM, unlike most other celebs I follow who often reply in the main feed). I also had a couple from Nelson Piquet Jr. after the events of last year.

If you could follow anyone not on Twitter – alive, dead, real or fictional – on Twitter, who would it be?

Hmmm. That's a tough one. There's quite a few fictional characters that I would love to see on Twitter, but to be honest none of them are actually the kind of people that would use Twitter! I do sometimes wonder what my ex Jamie would have made of it all. I suspect he'd have introduced me to it!

Which came first? Twitter or blog?

Oh the blog, the blog. First ever blog post

------------------------

I now apparently have to tag a few other people. I shall go with the usual suspects, Keris, Clover and Caroline. Plus Kayels and Jay to get some Twitter-first people in there too!

It is absolutely...

...persisting it down in Wolverhampton today (as it seems to be across most of the country) and my first thought (well, after the inevitable "who am I? where am I? what time is it?" thoughts) this morning was "yay, a home day!"

A rainy day outside when I can stay indoors with Anthony and we can putter about tidying, decorating or watching TV and playing computer games. (he's playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II as I type)

Then I remembered that last night he said he wanted to go to a local Ford dealership to have a look at some cars.

In the rain. Like we did a few weeks ago. Yuck.

So I got up and dressed and came downstairs to ask what time he wanted to go out.

He looked at me like I was INSANE and said: "What? In this weather?!"

Jeans off, comfy trousers & hair dye on.

Hurrah!

Monday, 20 September 2010

I am a terrible person...

...I really really am.

Two years ago Anthony won his works Driver of the Year competition. The prize was a weekend away anywhere in Europe. We chose Monza.

What I thought I had blogged last year, but didn't (this is why I am so terrible) was that he won it AGAIN. This time they'd changed the prize so we got £500 of Co-Op holiday vouchers instead.

Well guess what...

THREE BACK-TO-BACK WINS!


(his prizes: the wine is all mine as he doesn't drink it; holiday vouchers in the yellow card, the iPhone (8G 3GS) means he may appear on Twitter, the FoleyCat we owned already.)

Last year there were plenty of jokes about him being better than Lewis Hamilton, this year he's better than Fernando Alonso and joins Ayrton Senna with his three titles.

Since we hadn't yet spent last years vouchers, we're now trying to decide if we want a totally free 4* holiday in Malta, or if we want to use some of them towards a long weekend in Valencia.

Monday, 30 August 2010

The other week...

...we both took a weeks holiday and as well as doing some decorating we also popped down to Essex for a few days.

We went to see my dad on his birthday, and I gave him a haircut.














I also went digging through the photo albums to find a picture of myself with longer hair (as I'm kinda trying to grow it out a bit) and came across this beauty.



I can remember this picture being taken. It's the summer of 1997, I was 18 and I'd got engaged maybe two/three weeks before. I'd been at a party at my friend Pami's the night before and then I went into London with my parents to visit some family friends. I was sooooooooo hungover it's untrue.

But oh. my. god. do I look lovely here.

(as you know, pictures of me that I like without reservation are few and far between) (90% of the ones I do like still always have something in that I dislike).

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Right now...

...Anthony and his dad are thumping about in the master bedroom, attempting to hang some lining paper.

Esme is hiding behind the sewing chair, curled up on the bottom shelf of the bookshelf there, wishing all the noise would stop so she could have a relaxing snooze in the chair rather than behind it.

I have been sorting out oodles of paperwork & either putting it in piles for filing, or shredding it (sorry Esme) into cross-cut piles of fluff that I would quite like to just throw into the air.

But I just sat on the sofa to have a five minute rest while the shredder cooled down & FoleyCat appeared from her secret-hiding-from-noise-spot and curled up on my lap seeking fuss.

So I have sat here, fussing a cute kitty, serenading her with "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" (playing from the pc) and known that right here, right now there is no place I'd rather be.

Then Foley bit my finger & vanished again.

But it was worth making a note of. Too many perfect moments get lost or missed. This one didn't.

*Sent from my iPhone*

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Suddenly I'm getting the urge...

...to pull on some worn out jeans and a bashed up pair of DM's and to run my hands through my hair while looking bewildered, sulky & misunderstood all at the same time.

A few of us on Twitter have decided to rewatch My So-Called Life (or in Keris' case watch it for the first time).

This means that every Tuesday is #MSCLRW day on Twitter for us now. Most of them get to watch it at lunchtime, I'm catching up on my episode in the evening.

Diane has summed up my feelings about this show here, and her feelings on today's rewatching here.

It's nice to know that the misunderstood 17 year old is still alive and well as part of my soul. Plus my crush on Jordan Catalano is still as huuuuuuge as ever.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to dig out my red Converse sneakers to wear to work tomorrow...

*Sent from my iPhone*

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Well...

...I've been meaning to try and get back into the swing of blogging again for the past few weeks, I've even had some ideas for posts!

One problem is that I tend to write, then post.
No hours of trying to get a sentence just right for me. I just type away and then press publish. This means that if I don't blog about it right then and there, it usually vanishes into the ether.
Or it gets itself a tweet that is never quite enough to express all that I want to say.

For that reason I've attempted to set up mobile blogging. This way I can ramble my thoughts as I think them, and then at home I can go in and neaten up any formatting issues and add pictures etc.

What do you think oh loyal, patient readers?

And yes I do mean both of you...


*Sent from my iPhone*

Friday, 25 June 2010

This recipe is for...

...the "Northern cupcake fairy".

Oh yes indeed.

Recipe taken straight from the book, notes by me in italics

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream icing from the Primrose Bakery.



Cupcakes

(makes 16 regular/48 mini cupcakes) I can get 20 regular ones out of this usually
  • 115g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 175g soft brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (preferably free-range or organic), separated
  • 185g plain flour, sifted
  • ¾ of a teaspoon of baking powder
  • ¾ of a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 250ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 170°C (fan) / 190°C / 375°F / gas mark 5. Put your cupcake cases into the cupcake tins.

Melt the chocolate. You can either use a microwave (30 secs on medium power, stir then repeat) or melt it in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. I use the water method because I've burnt chocolate far too many times in the microwave.

Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and smooth. This should take about 3-5 minutes with an electric mixer. I actually do this by hand with a trusty wooden spoon as with a mixer I tend to coat the room with bits of mixture.

Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl for several minutes. I use the electric mixer for this instead as you need clean beaters and otherwise I have to stop and wash up!
Slowly add the egg yolks to the creamed mixture and beat well. Then add the melted chocolate and beat well.

Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate and salt in a separate bowl. Put the milk into a jug and add the vanilla extract.
Add a third of the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and beat well. Then add a third of the milk and beat well. Repeat until all combined. This is the point where I call Anthony to come and wash up the bowl that had the flour in it so I can use it for the icing.

In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites until soft peaks start to form. Then carefully fold the egg whites into the batter using a metal spoon.

Fill the cupcake cases about two-thirds full. The batter may be very runny so you may need to put it into a jug to make this easier. I haven't needed to do this, but then I haven't baked for years so the batter didn't seem that runny to me.

Bake for 20-22 minutes (15 minutes for mini-size). Remove from oven and cool in the tins for 10 minutes before putting them on a wire rack or breadboard to finish cooling.

While the cakes are baking, I make the icing!

Icing

(makes enough to ice 15-20 regular or 60 mini cupcakes) Yes, you get more icing than cupcakes but it's all good. Mine goes in a plastic tub in the fridge to eat later ;-)

  • 175g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 250g icing sugar, sifted
Melt the chocolate as before. I just use the same bowl and same simmering saucepan.

Beat together the butter, milk, vanilla and icing sugar until smooth. I use a wooden spoon to start with and then use the electric mixer once all the icing sugar has mixed in. When smooth, add the melted chocolate and beat well.
If the icing looks too runny, just keep beating. Mine is usually thick enough for a spoon to stand upright in it.

Once your cupcakes are cool, ice them!

---------

The cupcakes apparently keep well for three days without icing. I can say with certainty that even with icing they still taste fine after 5 days. Airtight containers required of course.

Chocolate-wise, I've discovered the perfect stuff at Aldi. It comes in a bar of 150g and each bar is split into 6 25g bars. So I buy two and then just use 125g for the cakes. Cuts down on the faffy measuring!

The first time I made these it took me ALL DAY. This is because I was going very slowly and carefully and also because I didn't have enough bowls. I had to keep stopping to wash things up. Now I end up using a cereal bowl for the flour mixture and the separated eggs (and to beat the yolks in), this makes things a bajillion things easier and quicker. When I made the pictured cakes I actually made a double batch and it only took a couple of hours from start to finish (including doing the icing).

I'm sorry for the lack of photographs, but since the man who was supposed to be taking them got distracted by World of Warcraft I'll have to add them in next time I make a batch!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

It's time for...

...a little bit of Maths.

(sorry)

Now I want an iPad. I do. I do. I do.

If I mention this to Anthony he will roll his eyes (nicely) and ask me why. I will then dribble on about blogging from the sofa and not hogging the PC for my random internet ptootlings when he really wants to go and kill some Murlocs.

This won't convince him.

So in an attempt to convince myself that I really can't afford one, I have been working out the costs in alternative currencies.

-------------------------------

The 64GB iPad with just WiFi is currently £599. If you want it with 3G too, then it goes up to £699 (plus £10 a month for 1GB of data).

So in cupcakes (from the Primrose Bakery, like I bought in London) at £1.85 a cupcake:

64GB WiFi iPad = 324 cupcakes.
64GB WiFi+3G iPad = 378 cupcakes (plus another 6 cupcakes a month)

---

In IKEA bookcases (that's a BILLY unit at £55 plus a height extender for £20)

64GB WiFi iPad = 8 bookcases (£1 needed to make it 8 rather than 7 and £74 left over)
64GB WiFi+3G iPad = 9 bookcases (£24 left over towards data costs)

---

The WiFi iPad is only £9 less than the cost of the daybed and chest of drawers (plus two sets of BILLY bookcases) that I want for our spare bedroom. Make it the 3G model and throw in another bookcase and have enough money left over for a take-away pizza (sod the data costs),

---

In £18.99 hardbacks it's 32 or 37 books, 47 or 55 if you take off my discount. 75 or 88 £7.99 paperbacks, 112 or 131 with discount!

---

Basically I could get a hell of a lot of other things I want, plus a lot of things that we actually need.

So why oh why have I still not convinced myself.

Silly brain.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Monday, 22 March 2010

Now I haven't actually...

...been tagged by Caron for this meme but her post made me giggle so I had to do it myself.

Just like her I could also choose Lewis Hamilton (Red means stop you twassock!) or Ashley Cole (I don't even like Cheryl much but Ashley is scum), I could even have chosen the dreadful Katie Price, mainly because I'm fed up with selling books with her face on them.

Instead I've gone for a man who makes my blood pressure rocket. A man who has the job of passing on other peoples whiny comments on a Saturday morning.

(and please bear in mind the torment I went through to find this!)

BBC Newswatch

I'm sure he's a lovely man really, but his voice is like fingernails on a blackboard to me!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Sometimes...

...I really should know better.

I was Googling Arbor Day at Aston-on-Clun (which I went to twice a few years ago) and stumbled across this blogpost from one of them.

Very cool to remember it all again through someone elses eyes, as it meant I remembered all the fun we had that weekend and not all the crap that came out of it. Unfortunately I just couldn't resist the urge to read some of the other posts and that has made me sad.

Sad for the loss of some good friendships, sad for the amount of spite that some people have, sad for the lass that I was back then before the storms that arrived on that Sunday.

Then I went and played some WoW, which made me a little shocked as I remembered how long I've been playing (5 years at the end of this June).

It made me realise just how much I've changed in that time. Partly from the scarlet-haired supremely confident witch, partly from the naive girl who thought that people always spoke what was in their heart.

But some things never really change, this is why I still have a blog, six years after first starting one. This is why my day off has involved laundry, the computer, reading and cross-stitch. This is why I am still really really me.

Now for 15 minutes on the cross trainer with some very loud rock on the iPhone and then some tv & stitching. Oh, and putting a light on cos I just realised I can't actually see the keyboard.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

I really didn't think...

...that men like him existed any more, but they do.

Now don't get me wrong, this colleague of mine is a nice guy, he works hard.

But that fact that he is CONSTANTLY patronising me because I'm female, that is driving me bonkers.

The way he constantly offers to carry/move things for me could be seen as a polite act, if it wasn't for the condescending smile and the "I'll get that love, it's too heavy for you". The fact is I'm actually fitter than he is, the man who is on a constant diet and has to use the lift to go up to the second floor or he's to out of breath to talk.

I also don't know anything about sport because I'm female. My interest in Formula One puzzled him until he discovered that Anthony is also a fan. I'm now a fan because Anthony is, not because I liked it myself beforehand.
The last time he watched a race was when Damon Hill won the championship, yup, back in 1996. Despite this, he is an expert on the sport.

Today he spent a good 20 minutes telling me which drivers and teams he rates this year, told me exactly why the Bahrain GP was so boring "not that I watched it mind, but they mentioned it on the news" and attempted to explain to me how a double diffuser works. Then he said "and I have to tell you, though *whispers* I'm not a queer like, that Schumacher has come back fit for his age. It's like that Lewis lad, he's a fit one too, not that I'm a queer like, I'm just saying"

Oh, Dear. God.

I swear the only reason I didn't call him out for being a homophobic know-it-all was because I was too busy trying not to laugh in his face.

Mind you, if he calls me Katie once more, I swear I'll do to him what I threatened at the Christmas works do - "If you call me Katie one more f**king time, your balls will be dangling from the top of Nelson's f**king Column"