Month: October 2010

Started early, took my dog by Kate Atkinson

I completely love it that Kate Atkinson is now a crime writer albeit a ‘literary crime writer’ her version of a crime novel is one where there is no gore but plenty of thought, mulling over of things, and beautifully plotted humorous wonderfulness (I’m  gushing), this is crime for grown-ups of a certain age who like a thinking novel.

This is the fourth in the series which begins with Case Histories where we first met Jackson Brodie (but which I have only just read see this post) and whom we have now come to completely adore as he bumbles his slightly depressed way through life and love and sorts out the odd criminal along the way.  His new life as a private investigator hasn’t gone so swimmingly and he has been ripped off by his most recent wife who has absconded with a sizable chunk of his fortune, he is back into it again though searching for Hope McMaster’s parents.  She was adopted and the family moved to New Zealand and wants to find her roots.  Add to that story Tracy who is a recently retired cop who accidentally ‘buys’ a small child and also Tilly who is an elderly actress whose mind is fracturing.  There are these three separate stories which will ultimately connect, but it is the getting there that is the thing.  She weaves her story and you are completely taken on a journey, it is all so real, so beautifully done and this is a crime novel that doesn’t read like a crime novel.

My favourite thing about her writing is that you feel totally inside the heads of the characters, you understand how they feel and why, even though it may be totally bizarre that they act the way they do, but you get why they are being bizarre.  It should be set reading for everyone in the world!

First harvest of the year

Mustard Greens.  Don’t they just look luscious!  This is my first leafy harvest of the season, and looking like they will provide plenty of delicious extra flavour to leafy salads all spring long.  I grew them last year but they went in too late and then bolted at the first hot spell, I think the trick will be to pick and pick and pick them.

I served them with a bunch of other leaves – not from my garden with some feta cheese over the top to accompany a baked potato and a half chicken breast pan fried with seasonings from the mystery collection in the drawer in my kitchen.  Delicious.  And you really can’t go past the “I grew them myself” moment.

Changing Education Paradigms – great speech from Sir Ken!

Sir Ken Robinson – genius, give his opinionated fabulously wonderful talk wonderfully RSA Animated.  Sit back, fill your glass, listen and watch and chuckle a little cos the jokes are quite amusing too, to the awesomeness, sigh as you go to your happy place.  Want more?  His website is on the links on the sidebar.

Rhododendrons Rockin Dunedin

October is Rhododendron Festival time in Dunedin.  The botanic gardens here are one of the primo sites to go and see them, but all over town they are amazing right now.  So, with this understanding I went out and purchased one for my place.  Her name is Rubicon and she is a brilliant red.  I took her photo but it isn’t showing her in her best light, she has lovely little black dots in the throat of the flowers which look rather fetching.

Below is last years new rhodie.  She is Princess Alice and I bought her because she is scented and I had been so impressed with the smell of the one in my friend’s garden every time I walked past it.  She is white with a pink tinge when in bud.  Lovely stuff. Again the photo is a bit rubbish, will post a better one if I can get one while she is still enveloped in blooms.

Trilliums

I’m rather pleased with the trillium this year.  Especially because I have one that is in full bloom for the first time.  It is the white one.  It has lighter green leaves and the flowers are a creamy white.  The purple one is a stunner and is brilliant every year.  I’m going to divide it when it dies down in the hope of having more.  Trillium are so good, but only lovely for such a short time but so satisfying when they do their special thing.  I saw another one that I am lusting over now which has very pointy white petals and lighter green leaves.  Have added it to the wishlist.

 

 

Purple trillium and geum rivale

Purple trillium and geum rivale

 

 

Creamy white trillium

Creamy white trillium

 

Best Ever Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding

 

 

On my windowsill while I made this dish

 

My Mum thinks this is the best one of it’s kind in the world.  She may well be right.  Chocolate Sludge as it is commonly known in our house is most commonly made from a recipe book that Tessa had when she was in Year 8 at ‘Manual’ or cooking lessons.  This particular recipe is a new one for us, made in the microwave – oooo aaaahh –  and it has a caramelish sauce because it has golden syrup in it.  Try it and see what you think.  We approve.

1 cup Self-raising flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tblsp cocoa, 1/2 tsp salt

In a casserole or small dish mix sifted flour, cocoa, salt and sugar.

Melt 2 Tblsp butter and mix with 1/2 cup milk, 1 tsp vanilla and stir this into the dry ingredients.

Topping:  3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 Tblsp golden syrup, 1 and 1/4 cups hot water.  Pour the topping over the batter.  Cover with waxed paper and cook on high for 8 minutes in the microwave (it took longer in mine).

Banksy does The Simpsons

Update:  We’ll try this version, I suspect this one will disappear too.

Sadly the video has been taken down.  Will leave the post here in case it appears automagically again.

Want to see what people are saying about this clip then you could try this from PopWatch or this from the BBC via PopWatch.

This is really interesting and cool and dark and deep and disturbing.  Lots of clever stuff so watch it a couple of times to see all the cleverness.  Especially note the unicorn, sad and more than a little creepy.  You can think about the outsourcing of the animation work and the spin off industries of the Simpsons while you watch it.

This came to me via A New Hype my latest favourite.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

(I am hiding under a rock and typing this, I’m fairly certain to incur the wrath of the raft of Mockingjay fans out there in the blogisphere, lets hope none of them read this.)

Mockingjay is the third volume in the Hunger Games trilogy.  It has been eagerly awaited by teenagers and readers of young adult fiction and is ‘hot right now’ in New Zealand having only been out since early last month.  I was so excited to get my hands on a copy which one of the darling boys donated to the library after he had knocked it off in a night!  So, with his glowing recommendations and having read a few of the online reviews I was majorly keen to get stuck into it.

I was really disappointed, the book felt disjointed and slightly disconnected from what I remembered from the second book which I’d read earlier this year – see The Book Page – and which I really liked.  Our heroine Katniss Everdeen has been rescued and is rebuilding her strength and mental health after all the trials of the Hunger Games in the two previous books.  She has reconnected with her childhood friend Gale and her family.  She is being nursed back to health within District 13.  The descriptions of 13 are great, the action underground is really gripping, the explorations of new hunting equipment is cool, but I felt that the story faltered with a lot going on but no real threads being bought together until about half way through the book when finally I got hooked in and drawn into the story.

Suzanne Collins is a writer for film by trade and this book almost had the feel of something that would be taking place on a screen rather than a story with all the thinking and breathing parts and the internal stuff going on.  I think for me it was the relationships that weren’t quite right, the characters just didn’t connect with each other anymore.  I thought it was particularly the case with Katniss and her sister and with Gale. I felt that Katniss’s sympathy had been dredged out of her, which I suppose it understandable given the horrific things that have happened to her, but I wanted more of what made her real to me.

There are some great scenes, especially towards the end of the book – the action underground is great, and I was satisfied with the ending but for me this book just didn’t quite hit the mark.  I think the movie of these books which is due out in 2013 is going to be fabulous and I am really looking forward to that.

Kath and Kel on Dancing with the stars

This came to me via the fabulous Emily Duncan’s Facebook feed  (thanks Emily!)

From the Australian version of Dancing With The Stars.  Spend a little time with the fabulous dancing skills of Kath Day Knight and Kel Knight, their skills are unbelievable.  I’ve stopped giggling at it now, so it is your turn.  Enjoy.

“The guest appearance we have ALL been waiting for! One half of the fabulous Foxy Morons and her huuuuuuuuuuuuuge hunk of spunk better half stole the show and in the process bought back the VCB (visible control brief).”

Grover does the Old Spice Ads

“Look at yourself, then back to me, sadly you are not a monster.”  So cute.

Here is a Grover doing his version of the Old Spice ads.  There is certainly something rather fetching about a muppet in a shower scene!  Grover explores the word on in this one, and provides a new version of the old spice ads which have previously been explored on here in their original and library incarnations.

Cream cheese and pink peppercorn spread

 

Cream cheese and peppercorn spread (with cheese puffs)

 

I am having one of those phases where I keep making the same thing over and over.  It is school holidays and that means lots of socialising, and with the newly warmer weather, I am always whipping up a wee thingy to spread on crackers or dip things into.  This is that thing at the moment.  It changes every time I make it.

There isn’t a real recipe it just goes a bit like this:

Take half a pottle of cream cheese and soften in microwave (not too much) and add something like mayonnaise, sour cream, leftover dip or just use more cream cheese, you are after a creamy consistency.  Chop up a bunch of capers and add to the cream cheese, stir them in.  Add some pink peppercorns, stir again. Taste.  Adjust to suit – more is better in my opinion I like lots of bite in it so I add pepperdews if there are some.

There you go, creaminess and bitey pickleyness.  It tastes really good on wholemeal or plain crackers, and particularly good with the Cheese Puff recipe which is coming on here tomorrow (time permitting).

The Trevor Project

The new cause celeb in the states, but this one works for me.  Check out The Trevor Project website.   It’s about anti bullying and anti gay bashing. There is a nice line in one of the vids about being proactive and going and talking to a teenager you think might be having a hard time.  Nice thought, and now my thought:  Show these kids that you can have a normal ordinary and fulfilled life as a grown up gay person!  You don’t have to be troubled and miserable all your life, gay people are just as successful and fabulous as the rest of the population. Be out, and happy with it and happy with who you are and show by good example that life is for living.

The video here is Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame (oh how I love Project Runway) – talking about his experiences with bullying and suicide.  It is moving and very real.

Kathi Griffin says somewhere in the video below, that people don’t remember the Matthew Shepard story any more and I think she is right, and yet at the time of this incident people were so shocked and outraged.  The video below is from the Larry King show and while I’m not usually a fan it is worth investing 10 minutes to watch this one,the whole video isn’t here but you will get the drift and I guess if you want the rest you will find it on YouTube for yourselves.