Month: November 2010

Are you happy?

I found this fabulous graphic on the ALA Learning Round Table blog.  I think it is a doozy!  Showed it to a couple of folks at work and we all agreed this is pretty damn good.  So using the flow chart above:  Am I happy?  Pretty much!  So I have to follow the Yes line.  Better keep doing what I am doing.  Things can change though, and the next time I have to make a big decision, or if I am in the depths of misery I’m going to get out the chart and figure things out using it.  I think often times in an organisation it is possible to get very influenced by those around you.  If your work buddies are a bit flat it can be infectious and you can get dragged into the mire of putting things down and bearing a bit of bitterness and resentment which isn’t actually yours to own.  Next year I am going to be much better at trying not to do this.

I also think that while the chart above is good, there are lots of grey areas.  You can be happyish for instance or miserableish.  Lucky for me mostly the miserableish times are considerably fewer than the others, and wallowing in misery is not my style, I’m far more likely to get shitty and explode and then it will be all over and I’m back to normal again, but it is the situations that drag on for a long time which you can’t do anything about which are the hardest to deal with.  While the chart tells you to change something if you want to be happy this is not as simple as it might seem.  Sometimes the thing that does your head in is something that you cannot change.

I have a situation like this every year at this time of the year when the year is nearly over.  Frankly it is a pain!  It is a small but not insignificant thing, and I can’t change it, because even though it affects me directly I am not consulted, and even if I am, my opinion is not considered.  So, what to do?  I have decided to let it go!  Eventually someone will see that several staff members are adversely affected by the situation, that it costs my employer lots of money because of how it is currently done and that it could be managed much better.  I have grown tired of trying to change the things I cannot change, and battling against forces that are stronger than me.  In the meantime I am doing a something about a situation I can do something about, and which will, when it is sorted, make me much happier at work at this time of year.  Sorting it out!  Making me happier!  OMG I’m finally growing up!

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Rhubarb and date cake

First rhubarb harvest of the season and I have a bumper early crop.  You have to keep on harvesting to keep it cropping.  The first stalks are always the best coloured and such a joy to use.  Rhubarb is so Mumsy and Grandmumsy and while round here the ultimate cool evening treat is a Rhubarb Crumble this cake recipe is great to make because it is easy, requires no concentration and you can eat it on a sunny spring day not just cool wintery nights.

This recipe is a really easy and comes from a fantastic book which was put out last year by Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in Wellington.  My friend Rosalba sent me a copy which has been used and used in my kitchen and is looking rather stained and well loved.  That is really the ultimate compliment for a cookbook, you can judge my good cookbooks by the stains.  I make the recipe slightly differently from the instructions in the book, using my food processor to mix the butter into the flour, but you don’t have to.  It makes a moist cake – pudding style, and is totally delicious.  The standing time is important to firm it up, don’t rush it even though the smell will be tempting you to hurry it along.

I think on a cooler night this would be fantastic with custard or yoghurt, but it is warm at the moment and so I served it just by itself in big generous slices.  It was all gobbled up in about 10 minutes by the four of us.  The ultimate sign of a great cake!

170g self-raising flour, 100g margarine (I always use butter), 120g caster sugar, 250g rhubarb (approx 6), 120g chopped dates, 1 large egg, about 4tblsp milk

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C  and Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.

Sift flour, add margarine (or butter) chopped into small pieces. Rub in until evenly distributed (or blitz in food processor), then stir in the sugar.  Wipe and cut rhubarb into small cubes then add to flour, add the dates with milk together and stir into other ingredients.  Bake for 35 minutes or until the top is golden and gorgeous.  Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool.  Freezes well.

Luis – creepy sinister and mysterious

This is so sad and beautifully sinister.  This movie recently won the big YouTube competition. The film-makers (Luis (2008) by Niles Atallah, Joaquin Cociña, Cristóbal León) are Chilean and this is the second of their films featuring Luis.  Turn your sound up so that you can hear the breathing.

I’ve just read a book called The courage consort where the main character in the book hears screaming nightly from  the forest where the house she is staying in is located, this video was in my mind when I was reading it.

SYNOPSIS: Luis talks about his life in the forest and his relationship with Lucía. He appears in charcoal on the walls of a room filled with broken objects that constantly shift around. Little by little the room clears up as the objects return to their proper places.

Cheese Puffs – the partygoers friend

Cheese Puffs with Cream Cheese and Pink Peppercorn spread

These are easy, yummy and very quick to make.  For those holding their own parties or even those with household members prone to snaffling things straight out of the oven you should double the recipe.

Serve them just by themselves as little pop in your mouth treats or serve them with the Cream Cheese and Pink Peppercorn dip – click here for the recipe.

They are going to get your food processor dirty and sticky but it is worth the horrible washing up procedure because they are just so good.

The original recipe comes from I Hate To Cook by Jill Dupleix which is just the coolest book and somewhat of a mainstay around my kitchen, even though I quite like to cook.

The Recipe

1 cup water, 3 tblsp butter, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup plain flour, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of grated cheese (you can use any sort you like, I’m partial to feta but it really doesn’t matter, stronger tasting is better though), a little mustard is a good addition.

Heat the water, butter and salt until it is boiling and the butter is all melted.  Add all the flour at once and turn down the heat.  Beat like a crazy thing with a wooden spoon until the dough leaves the sides of the pot and forms a ball.  Keep cooking and stirring for a couple of minutes.

Transfer the gluggy mixture to the food processor and process while you count to 15, add the eggs and beat for 45 seconds.  Throw in the cheese and pulse a little until it is all mixed through.

Put teaspoons of this mixture onto a baking tray and bake in an oven of about 200 degrees C.  Don’t undercook or they will be gluggy inside, they should be goldeny delicious.

 

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

In yet another stupendously good talk the combination of Denis Dutton, a professor of philosophy and the editor of Arts and Letters Daily (also stupendously good) with the wonderful artist from RSA Andrew Park, whose work has featured on here more than once.  (Link to the Daniel Pink one I loved so much, and here is the one to the Ken Robinson talk.) There is another one on this blog too, but I have temporarily misplaced it.  Will put in a link when I find it here is a very interesting way to spend 18 minutes.

There is a bit of weirdness in the html code for the video so just ignore this bit down here and head to the video.

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White lilac, it’s white – and it’s lilac

Lilac (which looks weird when you type it) is lovely.  This is a double white one which was given to me.  They sucker madly all over the show so it is fairly easy to snaffle one from someone else.  Last year this one did not have a single solitary flower, this year however it is currently smothered in fluffy scented whiteness.  This is in stark contrast to the lilac lilac which is performing much as this one performed last year.  Maybe they are taking turns about?

I have strategically placed this one (in other words a happy accident) next to rosa Blackberry Nip which  is the most beautiful shade of purpley plummy goodness and smells fab too.  Their flowering times are just slightly off but I am hoping that the  buds on Blackberry Nip will burst forth while the lilac is still in its full flush of whiteness.