Monday, November 29, 2010

Will, Evan & BORIS!

Phew. What a week. I worked Mon-Thurs last week (yes, they make Americans living in England work on Thanksgiving, as punishment for escaping), then took Friday off to meet up with my cousin (on his way home from study-abroad in Cape Town) and my high school friend (in town for a college buddy's wedding). Then, Saturday, I rang 3 (out of an attempted 4) quarter peals with my bell peeps, and then Sunday we had Stowmarket Thanksgiving. I need a nap.

We visited the Horus in his museum, then went and had very tasty (and warm) dim sum in Chinatown.

I met up with Evan after lunch - we started out at platform 9 3/4 in Kings Cross station, sadly empty of all things Potterish.

We saw some Boris Bikes (I WANT one!)

We walked south through Covent Garden, then went to Trafalgar Square, and warmed up with tea in the crypt of St Martin in the Fields. The fourth plinth has a jumbo ship in a bottle - I thought it was really cool.

After tea, we walked across the river, catching this slightly blurry shot:

We ended up at the Tate Modern, where we saw Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds. SO gorgeous.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: HP7(1), A Separate Peace, Looking for Alaska

Apparently, all media over the last few weeks that I've consumed has been entirely focused on teenagers at boarding schools. Ok, so this is Southwold Church, not Hogwarts, but I thought it looked suitably atmospheric. It was FREEZING when we were there!

First, I read A Separate Peace, which was one of those books that all my friends in AP English were assigned (I was non-AP for mysterious reasons known only to the head of NRHS's English department at the time). Meh, I think. I wouldn't have minded reading it in high school, but I definitely didn't love it.

Second, I read Looking for Alaska, by John Green. Again with the moody teenagers at boarding school (this time in Alabama, though, not New Hampshire). I could see why parents might not want their kids reading it, but I also think it's the kind of book that could lead to engagingr discussions in a high school English classroom.

To finish, John and I saw the new Harry Potter movie (Deathly Hallows, part 1) with what seemed like half of Ipswich on Saturday night. I really enjoyed the movie, and thought that it captured the book perfectly. I'd forgotten quite a few of the plot points, since I've only read the book once, right when it first came out. I'm going to need to jump in to a reread, after I finish my new Kate Morton (the waiting list at the library was 100+ people so I caved and bought it).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

more magical green shoes...and beer

While in Southwold, Ed and I went on the Adnams brewery tour. The last time he came to visit, we went on the Greene King tour, which couldn't have been more different. The size of the breweries, along with the very-old-fashioned GK and super-modern and automated Adnams, meant that we didn't really feel like we were duplicating anything. Obviously, making beer is a fairly standard process, but the two companies do it in entirely different ways.

We soaked up a little of the beer with fish & chips at a pub down near the docks. We'd been sent in search of Mrs T's Fish & Chips, which was closed for the season. Bummer. The food at the pub (The Harbour Inn) was good, but the service was terrible. I wouldn't want to be there on a crowded Saturday in the summer!

After walking all the way back to town (and working off some of the chips and beer), we stopped at DaddyLongLegs because I saw some AWESOME slippers in the window. My felt Keen slippers have died a slow and painful death, but John's Haflingers (bought at the same time) are still going strong. So, the perfect slippers, then: the love child of my Magical Green Shoes and John's Haflinger boiled wool clogs. Swoon.

Spurred on by my new slippers, I finished Wedding Quilt No. 1, the wedding present for the stepson's mum and soon-to-be stepdad. The sm. boy picked out the fabrics and the flickr-inspired design, and helped with laying out the design and the ironing. Success! It is custom-sized to cover all members of the newly created family when they're sitting on the couch, watching TV. (And yes, John is wearing my Crocs in that picture.)

 And the back (v. soft & warm blue flannel):

Saturday, November 20, 2010

whirlwind tour

My brother came to visit - he spent about 48 hours in Suffolk, and we had a blast! We visited Lavenham, Bury, Southwold (and the Adnams brewery!), Dunwich, Woodbridge, and Ipswich. Phew. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Recipe: Baked Apple a la Stowmarkate

I love baked apples. My mom always makes them in the oven, like my grandma did. That seems to take forever, though, and use a lot of energy for one little apple. 

So, my ingredients:

An apple (This one was a Bramley, but any cooker/eater will do. Sharper is better.)
Your handy-dandy microwave

First, wash & core the apple. Don't worry about missing the middle a little bit, as long as you get most of the core out. Put the apple in a microwave-safe bowl (not on a plate...learned the hard way).

Then, fill the hole with raisins. I don't really measure, and it doesn't matter if they're stuck together - they'll be all nice and gooey when you're done.

On top of the raisins, sprinkle some cinnamon and a little bit of sugar. I only add sugar if the apple is a cooking apple - if it's an eater, you should be fine. Then add a small pat of butter on top, smooshing it down with the raisins as much as possible.

Microwave on high for about 2 1/2 minutes, but keep an eye on it. After about a minute and a half, the apple insides should start bubbling out through the top of the apple. I usually try and wait until quite a bit of apple has come out of the top - it stays in the bowl and makes a really yummy sauce mixed with the cinnamon and butter.

See? The raisins get cooked by the applesauce and the cinnamon and sugar get all mixed in as well. Careful, though - it's hot when it comes out of the microwave, and the apple innards stay hot for quite a while. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

dark and light

It's starting to feel properly wintry. I've been wearing my new LLBean down jacket to work, with a hat and gloves (especially on the days when I have to walk to the train station), and today was the Owl Sweater's first outing. Of course, because it's insanely warm, I didn't wear a real jacket with it. Mmmm owl sweater.

It's also now starting to get dark around 3:30. Twilight hits around then, and it's seriously dark a few minutes after 4. This was a picture I took on a bike ride over the summer. All the fields are ploughed and muddy now - the golden wheat has long been harvested.

Here is the sm. boy, with my current quilt-in-progress. It has now been sandwiched and quilted (with blue polka-dotted flannel backing), and the binding has been sewn to the front. I think I need about another 2 1/2 hours of hand-sewing the binding to the back and I'll be all done! Oh, and in case you were wondering, the binding is ORANGE. Like, really, really orange. It all looks rather awesome. You can't see from this picture, but the squares reading as black are actually brown with orange and blue swirls on them. A few Amy Butlers, an Ikea (the green critters), the last scrap of the sheep print from PurlSoho, a tiny piece of leftover Liberty, and some really fun Michael Miller Groovy Guitars.

I also have a small announcement to make: I think I might be a yarn snob. I stumbled upon a new yarn store today, which shall remain nameless to protect the guilty. I eagerly hopped into the store, to discover that it was ALL acrylic. No, wait, there was one very small rack of exceedingly scratchy 100% wool. Who knits with this stuff? And why? When there's so much amazing yarn out there? Shudder.

One more appeal to the interwebs - in last month's Martha Stewart Living they featured several entryway coat racks. I LOVE this one, but it's there and I'm here.

I can't find anything even vaguely similar over here - they're all either really twee or really industrial. Suggestions, Brits?

Monday, November 8, 2010

looking up?

So this is where we've been lately. I'm not sure what exactly Husband is looking at in this picture (neighbor's mast, perhaps), but I like it. I like the flat, cold, English autumn light, too. Kanga is now all tucked in for the winter. There are a few more miscellaneous things that need attending to, but wind, rain, frost, and general weather are now no longer a worry. Phew.

I've had a rather disappointing fit of Being Slow With Books lately - it took me almost a month (a month!) to plough through the second Inkheart book, Inkspell. I enjoyed it, but it just seemed to put me to sleep when I tried to read it in the evenings, and not hold my interest during the day. I'll give it a bit before I read the next one.

I'm in the middle of the second of the Hunger Games books, and really enjoying it. It's zipping along, just like the first one. It's a perfect tucked-under-the-blankets book. I'm having a small bout of wishing I could read and sew/knit at the same time, as I have a quilt to bind (by hand) and I don't really feel like watching TV - I'd rather be reading. Any tips, let me know!