Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Music to recover from non-specific illnesses by

I am slowly getting back to wellness. I can't believe how often I have been sick lately, and how long the subsequent recovery takes. Truly pathetic. Body, if you were a car, I would so trade you in. Or at least replace the lungs with some proper, functioning bellows. According to various sources, the poor state of my health can be attributed to: my advancing years; the pollution in London; my chocolate-laden diet; vengeance from God for being such a brazen internet-dating hussy; and/or not breathing deeply enough.

As my friend Andrea would write (in her endearingly phonic way): enuff!

At least the downtime gave me some time to sit down and listen to some albums I have been neglecting - namely the brilliant In Rainbows by a ragtag bunch you may have heard of who go by the name of Radiohead; The Reminder by Canadian songstress Feist* (which had me dancing frenetically around the lounge room with the unfeasibly boppy Sea Lion) and My Dancing Heart by a bearded anti-folkster who calls himself Blabbermouth. Oh god, it's all about the facial hair lately. I don't think we need to go into my stalker-eque obsession with the Flight of the Conchords boys at this juncture.

Go forth and listen, yea verily! Ah, the joy of Myspace.

*You will know Feist from the latest MacBook Air and iPod touch ads. Yes, that's right, the girl whose CD I have been trying to get you to listen to since 2004. Yes, she is good. Yes, those Apple CEO's sure know how to pick a good one. Yes, I will lend you the CD. Just promise that you'll listen to me next time.

Friday, March 21, 2008

New York, New York, it's a hell of a town

I am heading off to New York in 3 short weeks!

*hyperventilates with fear*

What on earth made me think that applying for a three-month secondment in a big, bad city full of strangers was a good idea? Me, who likes the quiet life. She who embodies the term "young codger". The girl who doesn't cope with change and spent her first few months in London a depressive wreck, cowering under the covers and jumping at squirrels (those creepy squirrels! If you have spent any time watching one, you know they are inherently evil, with their beady eyes, twitchy little paws and suspiciously bulging cheeks).

All I know is, when I got the phone call to tell me I got it, I don't think I have ever been quite so excited. It takes a lot to get a reaction out of me - I have a few theories as to why I tend to suppress any outward displays of enthusiasm - but after I put the phone down, I screamed. Out loud, not just in my head . Then I rang my mum and dad, whose reaction was "we presumed you already had it." Grateful for the faith, oh parents of mine, but geez! Do I have to get pregnant before you guys get excited for me?! Don't answer that. I know. Hopefully it will happen in your lifetime guys. Hell, hopefully it will happen in my lifetime. They might have to clone me in the future.

Anyhoo, New York! Woody Allen, Broadway, the Empire State, cheesecake, Lady Liberty, Seinfeld, Central Park, Central Perk, Sex and the City, bagels! So now it's all looming scarily close to reality, and I am careening wildly between crazy-excited and crazy-scared.

Either way, it's going to be an adventure.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

London city moment

It's a quiet weekend and I am cycling into the city to meet some friends for Dim Sum. The route has become familiar to me over the past few months, so that I ease into every turn automatically, flying through intersections that are Sunday-quiet. It is chilly but when the sun breaks through the clouds, my eyes crinkle with the bright light and welcome warmth.

As I come up to a small bridge over Regent's canal, I come across one of those vignettes that you sometimes happen across; so perfect, it could never be reproduced to the same effect; all the more magical for being unexpected. Three mallard ducks fly over the bridge in formation, wings flapping to keep their barrel-chested bodies airborne. The light catches the metallic green of their neat, round heads and the teal strip on their wings as they make their way to the other side of the canal. In a minute, they are gone.

I cycle on, a little slower, my heart lifted.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The third rule of online dating is: don't confuse your candidates

In particular (and you'd think this would go without saying, really) don't send someone a message starting "Hi [wrong name here]!". It results in red faces for all parties concerned, and most likely the premature termination of any futher contact.

Luckily, in my stupid case, the bloke concerned had a sense of humour about it and messaged me back, making a joke about the conveyor-belt feel of the dating site we are both navigating.

It is so easy to slip up in this strange online world where you can go "cyber-shopping" for a match, scrolling through page after page of eligible men, adding some to your favourites (ie. the trolley) and being added to other people's favourites, all the while trying to manage the varied messages that come your way. A few blokes have sent me one essay-length message after another, back and forth, back and forth until I find my heart sinking at another "ping" in my inbox. Let's meet up already, dudes! There is no point wasting good Facebook time if we meet up and the chemistry is off.

Speaking of which, it makes sense to bone up on your potential candidate (and I do mean "bone up on", not just "bone" - the devil is in the detail) before you meet them, in order to avoid this kind of embarrassing pratfall. Otherwise, just refer to the first rule, and stick to safe topics like global warming, the upcoming Mayoral election, and Conchords vs. Boosh.

It's a potential minefield for the chronically vague. I only hope someone out there will one day benefit from my mistakes.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Better-Than-Borough-Market Brownies

375 g unsalted butter
375 g dark chocolate
6 large eggs (count 'em!)
1 tbs vanilla extract
500 g caster sugar (I only used 350gm)
225 g plain flour
1 tsp salt
300 g chopped walnuts

Nicked from Nigella's How To Be a Domestic Goddess.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large saucepan over a low heat. In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla.
When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar mixture. Add the nuts, flour, and salt. Mix it up and then scrape out of the saucepan into a lined baking dish. It will be incredibly gooey, dark, lumpy and insanely delicious at this point.

Bake for about 25 minutes at 180 degrees.

When its's ready, the top should be dried to a paler brown speckle, but the middle still dense and oozy. Be careful not to overcook if you like your brownies gooey in the middle, and remember that they will continue to cook as they cool.
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