Monday 29 September 2003

we love john lewis

We love John Lewis, oh yes we dooooooo.

We ordered our chairs, we were told that delivery was supposed to be in 14 working days (it took about half that), and John Lewis charge you for your merchandise only when it's dispatched. As an added bonus, the delivery guys happily brought 8 chairs into the dining room for me and were extremely pleasant. Excellent.

This year, I decided, we would be having Thanksgiving dinner at our house. I haven't had a Thanksgiving dinner in years and now that we have a big enough house, we can host all those lavish dinner parties we've dreamed about. Or at least we can stuff relatives and friends with platefuls of turkey and mash, which is considered lavish in some countries, I'm sure.

Friends and relatives all happily accepted our invitation to Thanksgiving dinner, and we went on our merry way planning a menu and purchasing things like gravy boats. Figuring that everyone knew from watching American television what the day would entail (Canadians do pretty much the same thing, but with less football and a month earlier), I was surprised when the questions came. People narrowed their eyes, raised an eyebrow, and said to us "So what happens at these...Thanksgiving...dinners, anyway?", perhaps thinking that it involved some sort of native dance, Maritime sea shanties, and bizarre Canadian food (like poutine). I answered, "Um. Eating turkey, mostly. Turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and stuff like that." How anticlimactic, I know.

I like the idea of keeping up traditions like this; inflicting my wacky Canadian ways on my defenseless British friends and relatives. I went through a phase when I first moved here to try and be as British as possible with the words I used, my pronounciation, and even the things I'd buy in the grocery store (e.g. if I bought chocolate chip cookies, everyone would think I'm American and would pelt me with rocks). Now that I know people will think I'm American no matter how many times I say "jolly good" and wear my England footy shirt (only Americans buy my faux English accent), I've stopped worrying about being foreign. Every Thursday is "garbage day" where "garbage men" come and collect our "garbage", I bake chocolate chip cookies, I eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches at work sometimes, I fill up at the "gas station" (although refer to it as "petrol" most times), and I call it "or-EG-an-o" not "o-reg-AH-no".

Then again, in keeping with our family tradition, I'm making sushi with Thanksgiving dinner. Culturally diverse, me.

Thursday 25 September 2003

such a chicken

So I've got this chicken carcass in my freezer. This isn't the result of some grisly homicide and attempted cover-up, it's the leftovers from the roast chicken lunch Paul made on Sunday. So anyway, I've got this chicken carcass in my freezer and I'd like to make stock. No problem - been there, done that, and it always turns out well. My dilemma is trying to come up with interesting culinary uses for stock. Yes, I'll use it to make soup and risotto, but what else can you do with really good stock?

First person who answers gets to appear at the top of the comments box.

Tuesday 23 September 2003

i bet lassie was the same

If you thought Madge's new kids book was big news, Walter, the Farting Dog is surely as noteworthy. Oh, don't look so shocked. The story about a mole and a blob of poo came out almost ten years ago, and even before that, Canadian-based author Robert Munsch* told us that Good Families Don't.

*(Check out the poem USA, keeping in mind that Munsch is American)

Monday 22 September 2003

better than changing rooms, and with a lot less mdf

More DIY pics can be found here. Whee!
gonna party like it's paul's birthday

What a gloriously busy weekend that was, mostly involving food and drink. On Friday morning, Paul opened his pressies (I got him a titanium Seiko watch and a set of port glasses) and cards (yes, he got one from the dog as well but it was meant to be humorous so shut up). After work, Paul and I went to one of our favourite Chinese restaurants (The Chinese Bridge Restaurant in Godmanchester) and when we got home, cracked open a bottle of Zinfandel we got at Francis Ford Coppolla's vineyard last May and dug into the chocolate cheesecake I made the day before.

On Saturday, I surprised Paul with a visit from Russ, Debs, and Jake the dog (who spent most of the weekend confusing Jasper as he kept trying to shag him). They drove all the way down from Warrington for Paul's birthday, and we all went out to the Old Bridge Hotel for dinner. I truly cannot say enough good things about this restaurant, which was a huge relief as I had booked it without knowing much about it. For a starter, I had grilled squid stuffed with coriander (that's cilantro to my American friends), tomato (that's "tom-ay-to" to my North American friends and myself), ginger (that's...oh no wait, never mind), and garlic, served with a rocket (umm I think that's arrugula to everyone else) salad. My main dish was a perfectly grilled piece of hake (a white fish) served with incredibly fragrant and flavourful potatoes, in an olive, tomato, and green bean sauce. For dessert, I went with an old favourite - sticky toffee pudding. Gorgeous. It's always a good sign when four different people eat four different things (starters, mains, and desserts), and all four agree that it was an excellent meal.

On Sunday, Paul's brother, his wife, and their two girls came over for a roast chicken lunch wonderfully prepared by the birthday boy himself. I made chocolate chip cookies with specially imported Chipits that my Mom had sent me, and niece Polly declared that they were the best chocolate chip cookies she had EVER tasted (which is very cute coming from a 4 year old). The girls absolutely adored Jasper, mostly ignored us (we're getting used to that), but we had an excellent day. Completely knackered, we had soup, cheese, and crackers for dinner and flopped on the sofa for the rest of the night.

This week, we will be mostly eating grilled things and salad.

Friday 19 September 2003

in cyberspace, google hears your screams

Why is it that some of the search strings leading to this site sound like snippets of conversation? Like someone took a random sentence from a chat and pasted it into Google. Take these, for example:

i hate england

i'm painting my kitchen floor

it sucks being a osteopath

she still likes you

when will the virus email attachments quit coming

my new job at convergys sucks

Google - the new way to vent your thoughts and frustrations.
like having a portable set of shelves

If I ever spill food on myself, it invariably ends up on my chest. So a few minutes ago, I looked down and noticed a little blob of food on my shirt. I wiped it with a paper towel, which only spread the food around so I now had several blobs on my shirt. I went to the bathroom and wiped it off with a wet paper towel, and although my shirt was clean, I had a big wet patch on my chest. Holding myself in a limbo-like position, I held my shirt under the hand dryer for a few minutes and managed to get my shirt dry.

There is just no graceful way to explain yourself out of situations like that if someone walks in.
happy friday

Fridays are always the best, but this one's even better - today is my gorgeous boyfriend's birthday.

Happy birthday, Pauly! :) xxxxx

Thursday 18 September 2003

and one more thing

Can someone please tell me if The Darkness are a piss take or not? I always thought that they were a parody band like Spinal Tap, but now I'm not sure.

First person who answers gets a free mention on this web site. No, thank YOU.
it's a girl thing

I was standing in line at the grocery store by the office, and looked over at the till next to me. A couple of blokes were buying hundreds of chocolate bars - bags and bags of multipack Kit Kats, Snickers, etc. that must have been for resale or their office. The woman in front of me said, "That's an interesting purchase" and I said "I could do that, no problem." We gave each other a look and burst out laughing, knowing exactly what the other was feeling.

It's a girl thing.
it's the simple things

Paul hooked up the new tumble dryer last night and the first thing I said was "Wooohoooo! I'm gonna wash every towel and sheet in the house!". No really, I did. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. There is something so wonderful about sheets and towels fresh from the dryer. No more stiff and scratchy linens for us - it'll be nothing but fluffy cottony goodness for us from now on. Our dishwasher arrives later today (although knowing our luck, it'll probably burst into flames as soon as they bring it into the house and we'll have to wait another 2 months for a replacement), and we're both very much looking forward to its arrival. I've never had one, myself. My parents have had one in the house for years, but I've always had to do the washing up using my little delicate hands since I left home. We both love to cook which means that we both generate a lot of dirty dishes. We both hate doing the dishes, which means we have a lot of dirty dishes taking up our precious counter space. There is a distinct possibility that until the novelty of the dishwasher wears off, I will be using extra dishes when I cook just because I can. One spoon to stir, one to taste, one to serve, all chucked into the dishwasher where little jets of water will do all the work for me. Oh yes. Yes yes yes.

Quit looking at me like that. We're NOT getting old and boring.

Wednesday 17 September 2003

you can take this order and cancel it!

So after many phone calls with Marks and Spencer, we told them that their service was abysmal, we will be writing a letter to their head office, and we will be ordering our dining room chairs elsewhere, thank you very much. We found some lovely chairs at John Lewis, and Julian Clary in their order department (it did sound very much like him - we haven't seen him on television much these days) promised me that they had many of these chairs in stock and that we'd receive them in 2 weeks. If we do get our chairs in 2 weeks, I will personally make the journey to John Lewis's call centre and give the first person I see a wet sloppy kiss and a giant bar of Toblerone.

Monday 15 September 2003

shocked and dismayed in cambridgeshire

We're starting to feel cursed. Like years ago, one of us really pissed off some salesperson or delivery man and now the bad karma's come around to haunt us. As new homeowners, we've had to order a lot of stuff. This means having to deal with several companies for various goods, and relying on the service of delivery companies to bring us our goods. Sometimes, things go swimmingly. Take our sofas, for example. They arrived earlier than expected, with bonus cushions we hadn't ordered (and hadn't paid for). This was good. Sometimes, things go tats up. Take our dining room chairs, fridge, tumble dryer, dishwasher, and flooring for example. Dining room chairs: from Marks and Spencers, supposed to take 2 weeks to arrive, and now 7 weeks later, we're being told that it'll be another 2 weeks. Fridge: delivery men broke the levelling foot, an engineer had to come and verify that it was indeed broken (where can I get me one of them jobs?), a new fridge had to be delivered - all this after having waited over a month for it to arrive. Tumble dryer: company says it'll come on Tuesday, Tuesday comes and goes, company says ohhh no sorry it'll come to OUR DEPOT on Tuesday but won't get to you until sometime later in the week, Paul says feck off and you'd better deliver it tomorrow because we took a day off work waiting for you twonks to arrive, dryer finally arrives the next day. Dishwasher: after waiting 2 months, Paul rings the company to see when it's coming, Hotpoint then informs us that they've discontinued the model, Paul says feck off to the company we ordered it from, a new dishwasher from another company should be arriving this week. Flooring: ordered from B&Q, supposed to arrive on Friday, it doesn't but someone will call us on Saturday to let us know when it'll come, they don't, it arrives on Monday (surprise!), courier man asks how I'd like to get the 14 box palette off of his truck, reluctantly helps me haul the boxes into the house after I explain that it's generally not the customer's responsibility to get their goods from the courier's truck inside the house, I make an angry phone call to let B&Q know that making a woman with a bad back and a bad cold lift 8 boxes of laminate flooring is more than just a bit crap.

I wrote an angry letter to B&Q because dammit, we're fed up.

The English and Canadians aren't very good at complaining. We'll moan about how awful the food or service is at a restaurant to each other, but when the waitress comes around and says "How is everything?" we smile and say "Fine! Fine!" nodding enthusiastically. This is why when we do complain, it's usually pitiful ("Erm...terribly sorry to bother you but the lawnmower you sold me yesterday has...erm...exploded and seems to have killed my neighbours. I hate to be a pain, but could I please exchange it for a new one, if it's not too much trouble?") and we get nothing in return.

I admire the Americans for their ability to complain and American companies for being quick to offer some sort of compensation. You may call them a litigious society of moaners, but when you complain about something in the States (or Canada, most times), you get something in return. A free dessert. A week's supply of laundry detergent. All the Kraft products you can eat. My Mom used to write to companies whenever something would go wrong. Once, we got a can of Coke in a pack that was empty. Coke sent us a huge supply of soft drinks. Another time, she tried to make pudding from an instant mix, and it wouldn't set. Jello sent us a hamper full of products. She's received countless free dinners and desserts when restaurant meals have gone awry.

Would you get something in return for a complaint here? Would you, bollix. But being my mother's daughter, I will write letters when things go wrong and maybe, just maybe, I'll get a sympathetic reply and perhaps a free item of some sort.

Wednesday 10 September 2003

behold my powers

My fertility goddess powers have travelled several thousand miles, across a few time zones, and have landed at the doorstep of Lisa in Japan. What good news for a lovely lady with a fabulous name!

Now if I could find the powers of lottery winning that only affects me or Paul, that would be grand.
now we're talkin'

Well yippie and hurrah, my comments are back! I'm all agog. The MT install is on hold until my site server gets over its hissy fit and lets me create new directories. Feh, technology.

We had a whole whack o' people over on Saturday night, which was good fun. The house tours mostly consisted of the following dialogue: "Here's something else I painted", "Ignore that ugly bit of decor over there - we're going to change that soon", "I don't know why he put in a bidet without a toilet", "Yes, he was rather fond of dado rails", and "I've never seen a blue bathroom suite before, either". I made too much food, which is more than a little bit mind boggling. We also had lots of bottles of wine left, and this can only mean one thing - I'm at that age now. All of my friends are either pregnant or have small children, which means more designated drivers and more tired new parents. Gone are the days when we'd Hoover up food faster than piranha on a chicken leg (or whatever it is you feed piranha), when we'd drink enough boxes of wine to build a small raft, and we'd stay up until the wee hours. These are the days when we walk around with baby spew on our shoulders, bags under our eyes, and we get excited (and sing along loudly) when The Smiths or Tainted Love comes on the party music mix CD. We're homeowners, dogowners, and we have 2 cars. As we waved goodbye to Paul's brother Andrew, he said "All you need now are the 2.4 kids".

I'm sure that deep down inside, we're still really cool and not at all boring.

Tuesday 9 September 2003

i'm still alive

My apologies for being so negligent with this blog, as I'm sure you've all been sitting there waiting with bated breath (a couple of Tic Tacs should take care of that) for updates. I've just been too busy with this thing called Real Life and have been away from a computer all weekend. That and the lack of a commenting system has been hacking me off and I haven't been as motivated to write. Without comments, it gets too quiet around here, and that makes me nervous. It can only mean that you people are getting up to no good.

Stay tuned...MT installation now in progress...

Monday 1 September 2003

i wish i was a little bit smarter

...and then I could install MT so I wouldn't have to rely on Blogger and YACCS's cack servers all the time. I read the instructions on how to install Moveable Type and they made me weep. I want something I can run on my server with locally hosted comments, that I can also use to update my blog remotely. Someone come and set this up for me, please. I can provide pizza and beer. In the meantime, I'm sorry that you can't leave comments (they're supposed to be running again tomorrow) and I'll try to sort something out.

A public plea: please stop opening email attachments without a) running a virus scan on them first with your up to date anti-virus software and b) realising that emails saying stuff like "hey check out this cool screen saver" from someone you've never heard of is probably not a good thing. Nor is it likely to contain a cool screen saver. I have been receiving well over 20 emails a day at home and around the same amount at work from infected people who have me in their address books. Quit it quit it quit it.

Pictures of Jasper from last weekend can be found here. We suspected that he's grown a bit in the 2 weeks we've had him, but this photo proved it to us:

The one on the right is from 2 weeks ago, and the one on the left is from Saturday. He'll be the size of a pony in a month, I swear.