Fifteen singers

January 31, 2011

This was originally posted on Facebook in response to a request, but I thought it was interesting enough to repost here:

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen singers you've heard that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

1. Isabel Monteiro from Drugstore
2. Thom Yorke from Radiohead
3. Patrick Duff from Strangelove
4. Karen Carpenter from the Carpenters
5. Jim Morrison from the Doors
6. Robert Smith from The Cure
7. Gordon Gano from The Violent Femmes
8. Morrissey
9. Mickey from Scorpio Rising
10. Adam Duritz from Counting Crows
11. Suzanne Vega
12. Jarvis Cocker from Pulp
13. Courtney Love from Hole
14. Jake Shillingford from My Life Story
15. Liz Phair
16. Brandon Flowers from The Killers
17. Kate Nash
18. Eminem
19. Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy
20. Stephen Jones from Babybird
21. Alex Turner from Artic Monkeys
22. Aimee Mann

I'm not sure if this isn't just a list of "Music which has influenced my life", although I have tried to pick out distinctive singers (no Lily Allen or Lady Gaga on this list, even though I love them both).
Also, it is more than 15 people. Oh well.

I got up to #11 on my own before resorting to iTunes to see who I'd forgotten!
I think I may have to make up a playlist...


After posting the above, I made the playlist. I always try to choose obscure tracks for my playlists as I'm severely prone to overlistening favourite tracks and ruining them forever. The resulting playlist is eclectic to say the least. I've been listening to it at the gym/walking the dog for the last couple of days and it's been great hearing some of my greatest musical influences again. Some, like Scorpio Rising, I had to fish out ancient CDs and burn them. Others, like The Doors and The Carpenters, I had only ever owned on vinyl. I no longer own a record player so I had to resort to buying tracks off iTunes. It's been a long time since I've listened to the live version of Gloria.

I did have to delete Eminem from the playlist after discovering I can no longer bear to listen to him. He's so full of bitterness and hate... I don't need that in my life. I used to like listening to Eminem when I was pregnant in the car with the windows down outside Waitrose. I think I thought I was challenging social perceptions, man. As I've got older, I've discovered that social perceptions are only as important as you think they are. And the older I get, the less I care.

Gah. I'm pretty sure it's a slippery slope from having that sort of attitude to being the kind of OAP who flashes their purple knickers on the bus.

Is it weird to cook from scratch and not watch telly? Don't answer that.

January 29, 2011

Sorry I haven't posted for a while. I've been busy.
I got invested as a Cub Scout leader...

I went to London to eat, look at art, drink wine (and sit on a fake Vespa)...

I won a competition to make sushi with a Michelin-starred chef...

and I finally found spiritual meaning. But that's another post!

Yesterday I went to Leatherhead to do some more food testing. I never know what I'm going to be tasting until I get there, but yesterday was the best ever because I was mostly testing steak and chocolate cake. YUM!

I also tested some chicken and mushroom tagliatelle, and it asked how often I ate ready meals. I answered (truthfully) that it was very rarely, perhaps a couple of times a year. The lab technician came over to grill me about it.

Lab technician: You've put you only eat ready meals a couple of times a year? That invalidates your response. What about pizzas? Oven chips? Pies? Frozen vegetables?
Me: (looking dubious) Erm, I use frozen peas?
Lab technician: Quiches? How about frozen pasta or noodle dishes?
Me: I don't eat any of those things... Ooh! What about Innocent veg pots, do they count? They're more of a lunch...
Lab technician: Yes that counts.
Me: (Dubiously) Maybe once a month then, if you include veg pots and frozen peas...
Lab technician: OK, change it on your form then.
[I cross out 'once a year' and tick 'once a month']
Lab technician: Thanks. Have you got kids?
Me: (brightly) Yes!
Lab technician: (pityingly) And you never eat oven chips?
Me: (apologetically) No... Um.. I don't really like them...
[Lab technician looks at me disbelievingly and then leaves]

Am I really such a freak? I cannot recall having ever purchased a packet of frozen oven chips. Surely they must take at least 20 minutes to cook from frozen, and you can make your own from (shock horror!) potatoes in 30 minutes. And they'll be much nicer. How can anyone be so busy they can't spare 10 extra minutes? *shakes head*

I also don't really watch television. When Mattgreen met me, I lived alone and didn't have a TV. I would still quite cheerfully get rid of ours - I probably watch less than an hour a week. But Izzy will be a teenager soon enough, and my mum refusing to let me watch Grange Hill scarred me for life, so I wouldn't do that to her. But really, people who leave it on in the background all the time... WHY? What's wrong with silence, or listening to music, or going out for a walk instead? I find droning TV in the background incredibly annoying. Even Izzy presses mute when adverts come on because she can't bear them shouting in the background so I've trained her well!

So far, so bad.

January 13, 2011

I've just been looking at my Life List - a list of things I want to do in my lifetime which is so crazily "out there" that I've never posted it to my blog.

Lots of the things I want to do require finance, to the point where I'm looking at my list and sighing and thinking, I can't do ANY of this. And then I remembered that this week I have bought both a set of martini glasses and a new pair of heels.

Considering I only posted my resolutions a few days ago, and #1 was to be better with money, that's pretty rubbish really. The shoes are beautiful and I really will wear them, and actually I bought two pairs but am sending one back so that counts as being frugal right? No? Oh, crapholes.

I am also on the internet RIGHT NOW and it is the evening (bad), I have not done any mindfulness practice at all yet this year (bad), I have only crocheted one square and disposed of one magazine (bad) and on Tuesday I tried a new route to work using a map, got hideously lost and ended up 20 minutes late and thoroughly frustrated (bad).

Bloody hell, that really is crap. I need to try harder.
But first, I think I need a martini....

New Year's Resolutions 2011

January 09, 2011

Sorry for the extended delay. I don't know what's wrong with me at the moment. I feel like I'm on the cusp of a great discovery, but I don't know quite what it is yet. I've got a lot going on at the moment and for some reason I've been resisting posting my resolutions. Usually I'm quite clear about them but this year it's been really tough to choose.

1. Be better with money - shop less, spend less, think more before making purchases. Like most people, we're having to be a bit more careful. Also, my parents are downsizing and have been gradually getting rid of a lifetime's worth of possessions they no longer have room for. (Many of which have ended up in our house - argh!) As part of my mindfulness project, I want to stop having loads of clutter in my house. It's a terrible waste of the earth's resources to buy loads of plastic crap and then later throw it away. So I am going to be really strict with myself on this one.

Lucky I didn't post my resolutions until today, as yesterday I randomly bought an orange silicone stirring stick for the kitchen, which qualifies as a piece of plastic crap I don't really need... *sigh*

2. Stop reading the internet in the evenings. At least for a couple of hours.

My internet habit is terrible and it isn't doing my back any good hunching over computers all the time. Also, why do I want to spend all day at work on the computer and then come home and click round and round the same old websites, to see if anything new has happened? I've got to stop it and do something more useful. Perhaps 4, 5 and 6 below ;)

3. Mindfulness project. Be mindful. Spend at least five minutes a day doing mindfulness practice and try to incorporate it into daily life. There's lots more to this - I've got a journal and several books, and I'm trying to get my head round it, but it's complicated and I don't want to talk about it on here until I have.

4. Crochet two squares a day. I started crocheting a blanket when we lived in Stourbridge, probably at least three years ago. It's not even 50% done. If I do two squares a day, by June I'll have enough to sew it together. Ideally I'd like to have finished it by Christmas 2011, but that may be too lofty a goal. I'd settle for having a gigantic pile of squares.

5. Get rid of my stack of food magazines. Easier said than done:

6. Learn to read maps properly.

Death to all Jeremys

January 07, 2011

Mattgreen was telling me that he walked into the lab at work today, and Jeremy Vine was on the radio. He was talking about some new police initiative to take down the number plates of kerb-crawlers in red light areas. A caller had rung in to say that he thought that was really unfair as it unfairly and maliciously persecuted people who were lost. Mattgreen added incredulously, "People who were lost in RED LIGHT AREAS! Who needed to STOP AND ASK DIRECTIONS FROM WHORES".

So then I told him my story about how I'd been watching Jeremy Kyle today (at the gym, because there was nothing else on) and there was a woman on there who was married to some guy from Sudan. She wanted him to get a lie detector test because he'd said he shagged her friend (along with several other women!), and her friend said she hadn't shagged him. The deal was the wife was going to divorce him if he HADN'T shagged her friend, for lying, but she would stay with him if he HAD shagged her friend.

(In case you're wondering, he had shagged her friend, and up to 12 other women, but the lie detector couldn't verify that as he couldn't remember how many exactly. Nice!)

Mattgreen said, "Everyone called Jeremy should be ritually assassinated".
So there you have it. Architects beware!!!

Official photographer

January 06, 2011

Izzy brought home a letter from the school yesterday detailing their latest fundraising idea. Apparently they are having a professional photographer come into school on a weekend to take 'relaxed beautiful and contemporary portraits at a fraction of high street prices'.

I hate professional photographers with a passion. Izzy has never been to one except for her school pictures, which I often refuse to buy because she looks so forced. For our wedding day, I insisted we had a photographer who wouldn't make me pose in a horrible way. As a result we failed to get any proper pictures of my sisters-in-law, my mum's family or various other groups. Oops...

ANYWAY, the letter from school says, "Whether it's a family group, just the kids, grandparents... free your imagination!"

So I said to Mattgreen, "Do you think they'd let us take the dog in?"
Mattgreen looked at me incredulously.
I continued, "I was thinking, I could wear my bikini and ride the dog and tell them that I'd freed my imagination?"
Mattgreen laughed and said, "That role-playing we did has really affected you hasn't it? You've just described your character, all you need is a big sword".
"Oooh yes," I squeaked, "a fuck-off massive sword, actually I do need one of those!"

Artist's impression:

P.S. Perhaps my new year's resolution should be to work on my mad Photoshop skillz ;)

New Year's Resolutions 2010 : The Results

January 01, 2011

Two posts in one day! Oh my, dear reader, I am spoiling you! Ha ha.

Without further ado, here's how I got on with my 2010 ones:

1. Be less busy

Overall, I would say I was slightly less busy in 2010 than in 2009. I'd guess we reduced our weekend commitments by 15% or so. I tried really hard to avoid filling every possible second of my free time. I managed to keep occasional free weekends between going away and having visitors. They usually got consumed with cleaning/washing/chores rather than reading the paper and putting my feet up; nevertheless this was an improvement. We also did not move house in 2010 (thankfully - we'd moved the last three years in a row) which helped. So I think I'll count that as a success.

2. Learn to put on eye makeup properly

I watched a few YouTube tutorials and spent lots of money on make-up. Does that count?

3. Make every recipe in Phil Vickery's 'A Passion For Puddings'

I made all but two of the recipes, because they sounded horrible (Rice pudding and Ginger sponge with orange syrup). The discipline of having to keep a resolution for the whole year, rather than losing heart after a few months, was definitely a challenge! The below photo is in date order and you can see it larger by clicking on it:

(L-R) Top row: Champagne and raisin syllabub; Citrus drizzle pancakes; Lemon drench cake; Cherry & ginger fudge; Hot chocolate fondant puddings; Blueberry mallow rocky road; Banana fudge and cinnamon ice cream; Yorkshire rhubarb fool.

Second row: Mango and banana trifles with mint; Lime & bitter chocolate cheesecake; Chocolate banoffee pie; Cherry berry fruit bars; Banana, rum & walnut tea loaf; Vanilla blancmange with saffron syrup; Coffee creme brulee; Caramel cakes.

Third row: Summer strawberry, mascarpone & coconut cheesecake; Pecan pie; Tropical meringue with lemon cream; Rose petal Eton mess; Peach custard tart with hazelnut brittle; Sticky toffee & raisin rice squares; Strawberry & coconut pancakes; Highland raspberries and yoghurt pots.

Bottom row: Warm raspberries with Savoy sponge fingers; Bitter chocolate & orange truffles; Decadent chocolate & raspberry torte; Caramel parfait; Fudgy chocolate croissant pudding; Marzipan creams; Hazelnut & chocolate crunch cookies; Christmas cake and brandy parfait.

NB: I also made the Lemon & blackberry custards but to my great annoyance, forgot to photograph them. Nevermind. It wouldn't have fitted into my beautiful collage!

I can highly recommend the book and I view this resolution as a success, even if I did fall slightly short (again!)

4. Regularly take photos on my favourite dog walk

I totally nailed this one. I took over 700 pictures this year. Here's my favourites (click to see larger):

I also chose my favourite pics from each month and had them made into a calendar:

5. Get my two new Wizard101 characters (balance and death schools) to level 50

Done. I abandoned the Death character early on and made a Storm character instead, but all three of my characters made it to 50 this year:

I'm now completely bored with Wizard101 (although the same can't be said for the rest of the family)!

So, all in all, a pretty good year for the old resolutions. I'd say I got at least 4 out of 5, not bad. Next year's are looking like they might be slightly more challenging however!


I love New Year's Eve. Loads of people hate it but as far as I'm concerned the trick is never go out. Have good friends round, play games, have a nice meal and drink lots. It will be fun and relaxed and whatever happens you're never disappointed.

I'm not sure I can ever go back to going to rammed pubs and bars full of pissed people or parties full of idiots.

Last night was pretty much identical to last year, much fun was had by all, and we finished the best part of two bottles of Amaretto and stayed up until 3am playing games.

My new year's resolutions are coming, but they are taking a bit of extra thought this year. Watch this space :)

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