Monday, March 29, 2010


We went to Bury yesterday afternoon and John bought me a copy of the April Martha Stewart Living. I'm not sure how it got into WHSmith in Bury - it was by itself, with no other MSL mags around it, and no other American mags to be found. One of life's great mysteries, I guess.

It turns out to be a special "best of" issue, with lots of fun springy Martha-esque ideas in it AND recipes for "the best" brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate cake. Extensive testing will be necessary.

I'm now on the binding phase of the quilt - I've finished all of the quilting. The binding is taking forever, though - it's machine-sewn onto the front of the quilt and then hand-sewn on the back. Maybe the stitches I'm doing are too close together? I can't really tell. And I can't seem to tuck them under the seams, either - they're out there for the whole world to see. My binding fabric is the creamy floral in the middle of the picture below - if I had it to do again I'd probably bind with one of the blues or the orange.
It still looks pretty awesome, though.

When we were in Clare last weekend, I spotted this shop window display. OMG SHEEP! AND LAMBS! I didn't catch the name of the store. It was filled with great stuff, but it was closed (Sunday afternoon). Probably a good thing, in terms of my wallet. The company that makes all the sheep stuff is called The Herdy Company, although I couldn't find the mugs from the display on their website. Sigh. They DO have some really gorgeous wool blankets and throws, made from Herdwick wool. I think the blue and grey throw wants to come and live with us. I can hear it calling my name.

And this sundial was on the wall of the church, above the entrance. I love the message, "Go about your Business." As in, stop standing here and gawping at the sundial, you lazy bum. Heh. Off you go, then!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Boy, reflected

A self-portrait, by James:

And a gloriously old post box, in Clare. It predates Queenie so has to be from at least the 1950s.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bach Choir: St John Passion - THIS WEEKEND!

In case any of you are wondering what I'm up to this weekend (you were waiting to plan your lives around mine, obv.), look no further.

Bach Choir. Bach. Jesus. Philip Salmon. What more do you need?

Saturday 27th March 2010 at 7.30pm (ends approx. 9.45pm)

St Mary's Church, Bury St Edmunds

Stephen Varcoe - Christus
Philip Salmon - Evangelist
Nicki Kennedy - soprano
James Bowman - counter-tenor
Richard Edgar-Wilson - tenor
Gavin Carr - bass

Bury Bach Choir

Suffolk Baroque Players

Philip Reed - conductor

This performance of Bach’s St John Passion comes at the start of Holy Week, the week before Easter.

It tells the story of this extraordinary week – the Last Supper, Jesus’ trial before Pilate, and finally his crucifixion.  Six vocal soloists, together with the choir and orchestra, dramatize these world-changing events with sensitivity, integrity and often, raw emotion.  As the drama unfolds, prepare for rapid contrasts, for a verbal, spiritual, musical and indeed psychological roller coaster as we are dragged step by step towards the ultimate conclusion.

The soloists tonight are second to none, the orchestra pure baroque, and the choir will be at their best.  This will be a performance to remember.  Don’t miss it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Casio's customer service

For my birthday 2 years ago, my brother gave me a really nice camera: a Casio Exilim. I had a few months last fall where the only camera I was using was the SLR, mostly because it's so good at taking pictures like this:

So after a season of neglect, I went to get my Casio out to take with us on an afternoon out. And the battery was dead. Not just dead, but un-chargeable. I consulted Teh Interwebs, who told me that this was the result of a problem with the particular batteries that come with the cameras. OH BOTHER.

I went on Amazon and bought a replacement (non-Casio, as I was feeling skittish) battery. Which I charged, took a few pictures with, and left in the camera for about 6 weeks. When I went to take the camera on the Ladies' Guild outing a few weeks ago, I checked the camera for charge before I left the house. No juice.

I opened the battery cover and flipped the little switch that's supposed to eject the battery. And flipped it again. The battery stayed put. DOUBLE BOTHER. After an intervention with tweezers, a paperclip, and lots of bad words, I got the battery out. It had swollen in the camera and gotten stuck.

I emailed the Amazon e-seller who was extremely gracious and refunded my £ (and I sent back the battery so they could make a claim with their supplier), and then I emailed Casio UK in a last-ditch effort to get a new battery for my camera (as I was going to stay away from the non-branded ones and Casio don't sell the NP-20 batteries on their website). They took my camera's serial number and the battery number, and emailed back within 48 hours with the promise of a new (free!) battery. Which arrived today and is charging happily upstairs.

We'll see how it goes, but I'm (a) impressed with Casio's speedy customer service and battery replacement skills, (b) marginally annoyed that I had to go through the Amazon rigmarole rather than just contacting Casio in the first place, and (c) vaguely irritated that Casio made such a crappy battery for what is otherwise an awesome camera. So if anyone else out there has an Exilim from 2007 with a dead battery, email Casio and they'll hook you up.

A final update, which is long overdue: my dad's now-finished needlepoint (it's not quite done in this picture), made from a photograph he took. I think I will still have to claim this as the Best Christmas Present Idea Ever. And I like the needlepoint even better than the original picture.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Spring is finally here. As demonstrated by our garden: 

And our "Easter tree". The boys think I've lost my marbles. But I love it. This little dude is rockin' his branch.

And, no the front hall table doesn't normally look like that. I cleared all the clutter off first. :)

And, finally, since the rest of the "on the road to spring" quilt-along peeps have finished their quilts, I bit the bullet and did some free motion quilting. Some of the stitches are very small and perfect, some are really teeny and a little bit scrunched, and some are h u g e and rather spread out. Oh well - when you look at it from a distance, it's perfect. I love the crinkly look that it gives the quilt - it makes it look very casual.

I was reading a Sainsbury's Magazine at the in-laws yesterday, and came across a recipe for tomato, olive & spinach quiche with sauteed leeks, in the "quick meals" feature. I got all excited.

Then, I read the recipe.

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 200C.
Step 2: Open a 400g packet of Tomato, Olive & Spinach quiche, and put it in the oven.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

My brain on music

Anna at twelve22 recommended Daniel J. Levitin's This Is Your Brain On Music, about how we hear music in neurological terms. It's riveting. My only problem is that I need to be by myself when I'm reading it, since I'm compelled to read chunks out to whoever's around at the time.

I'm only about 50 pages in, but I can see that it's the kind of book that a Colby music prof would assign as an extra-credit project. I'm actually enjoying reading it just to read it, rather than reading it knowing that I need to write a paper on it or answer questions on it on my next midterm.

(This is a random picture of a clock from one of the church towers we visited last weekend)

In other music news, I seem to have come out from under my rock to find Owl City (warning: music auto-plays). I normally find auto-tune stuff to be really irritating, but for some reason I think it's really catchy. Embarrassingly, I didn't find out about them (him?) on the radio like a normal person. No, I heard about it because someone at work asked if we would be buying in the matching folio. In case you're wondering, the answer is yes.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

When's my movie?

So I'm no longer the only person on the planet who hasn't seen Julie & Julia. It's finally out on DVD in the UK and we rented it this afternoon. And I LOVED it. I was Julie...I was Julia...I was Julie again, then back to Julia. 


There was a lot of criticism that the movie was overly schmaltzy and that Amy Adams was wooden, but I thought she was the perfect combination of neurotic, repellent, and endearing. And of course Meryl was fabulous. John thought her Julia Child accent was annoying, but I thought she nailed it (and I forgot about it after 5 minutes).

And then we saw Frances Sternhagen (who of course stole the scene she was in) and John had his first "HEY that's Frannie and I know her and she's in that movie and she came to our wedding and she's great and isn't that cool??!" moment. I've been having them for years, and yes, it's cool.

Continuing the New Yawk foodie theme, John picked up some Italian spicy sausages at Waitrose last week, so we had penne with sausage, fennel and tomato sauce. It was exceedingly tasty and very New York Italian-tasting. I just needed the glass tumbler of parmesan with the metal lid and the experience would have been complet.

I spent yesterday with the Ladies' Guild (Eastern District) for the annual district meeting and four bell towers. We all thought his spindly rope holder was really cool, and I'm glad this picture came out as well as it did.

This was taken a few minutes before, during the ringing.

So when are the publishers and Hollywood-types coming to make a movie of my blog? Huh?

Monday, March 8, 2010


This week, on the BBC (cue dramatic music): Lambwatch, LIVE! Five, one-hour, (mostly) live programs, direct from a lamb shed in Wales. Honestly. No, really, I'm not kidding.

Where will YOU be at 8pm?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

More Ginger Ale

I wasn't feeling well at all on Friday. Achy, a v. unhappy stomach, and general ickyness. We left work a little bit early, and the ickyness continued. So much so that on Saturday, John brought home a Mr. Men thermometer and some flowers, along with some ginger ale. Which, obviously, made me feel much better.

 Yellow chrystanthemumbles. Very nice. And rather springy.

I finally found our Easter decorations, too. My favorite is this little chap. I mean, c'mon. A bunny, riding on a carrot, with a purple egg for company? What's not to like? Now I just need to snaffle a spring-y twig/stick thing for the front hall table so I can hang all of the decorations on it. Yes, there are more.

In honor of spring, and the fact that I was feeling better, and the glorious sunshine we had today, we went to visit the lambs at Baylham House farm. I always feel a little weird going there without a small child, but nobody seemed to notice. The lambs are several weeks old, so rather than being in the lambing shed, they were out in the fields, springing! Ok, not this guy, but what a face!

James managed to catch this action shot - the little guy in the center of the picture has all four feet in the air. SPRING lamb! I could have stood there for hours, but the boys were getting cold, so we walked back to the car. Which has now been washed and vacuumed. Spring, indeed.