Saturday, April 03, 2010

All out of hot sauce

A little over two years ago, Sinéad did some editing for a non-English speaking student from Mexico and, in order to demonstrate her immense gratitude, this student sent us a box of chili sauce (as well as myriad tamarind sweeties). It cost us about thirty quid in customs and we sat looking at this mad box of about twenty chili sauces (two of each!) and thought... 'we don't like chili sauce'.

And so began the process of redistributing the wealth. We kept one of each type, gifted a bottle here and there, and eventually off loaded about six of them on some other Mexican friends who thought they had died and gone to chili sauce heaven. The tamarind sweeties quickly disappeared at work, generally accompanied by the sounds of spitting and shouts for a napkin. And so we began the arduous task of trying out all the chilis. We put chili in and on everything.... chili, eggs, toast, pizza, lentil soup, stew... you name it and Sinéad's probably tried it. I was a little less tenacious.

When we moved to the north, the chili came with us. I mean, hey, we had a van to fill, why not bring it all (especially given that we had to make two trips). And so the legacy of the chili continued. A damn good thing that it doesn't go off.

And now it's gone. We used the last of the chili on some homemade pizza last night. It's the end of an era and I'm a little lost. I've come to expect to spice up any potentially compatible meal with chili. It's a habit now to parade an array of various chilis on the table when we have guests for fajitas or nachos. How proud a hostess have I been to boast an authentic chili SELECTION?

I feel a tad bereft and quite hard done by that now I've developed a taste for chili, it's Tabasco or nothing. Alas.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Official permission to be excited!

December 1st... at last, at last! The lights have been up in Leeds for the last two weeks, the Christmas tree greets me every morning in front of the train station with baubles and energy efficient sparkle, and the buskers have all changed their tunes; Deck the Halls assaults me every time I leave the office at lunch. But through all this Sinéad has insisted there is no reason to be excited, Christmas being ages and ages away. I had to promise most solemnly to withhold general bouncing about and bedecking of doors with wreaths until we were at least the month of December.

And here we are!!!! Less than a month till Christmas and so much excitement to catch up on! Our first Christmas in Yorkshire, in our little 19th century cottage, in our little Dickensian town! There will be no travelling this year. We're going to spend the holidays cuddled up in front of the turf fire, watching the tree and the turtles. Dog on the hearth, stocking on the mantle. And before all this snuggly together time we have torchlit walks in Haworth, friends over for mulled wine and biscuits, baking days and present wrapping days, Christmas markets, office parties, and, best of all, I have an advent calendar to take me day-by-day to Christmas.

Every year Sinéad makes me an advent calendar. The first year, she hand-sewed little bits of silk into pouches, painted numbers on them with glitter pen, filled them with little presents, and hung them on a little metal tree. The second year I was in Bangladesh and we couldn't be together: she made me a little photo album with a card covering each photo, so every day I revealed another picture of something we've shared. The next year she stuck little vouchers to a calendar and every day I got something exciting, like coffee in bed or ten minutes of dread working.

This year I have a waterfall of stars... each one with a present inside (which I have on good authority need to stay away from the radiators as there may be chocolate involved).

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Settling Down

Today I'm feeling like I wouldn't give up my little piece of West Yorkshire for the world. And I'm having more and more of those days. Not just when it's sunny, fresh, dancing with rainbows... no. Even the days when I'm hunkered down against the wind, lashings of rain in my face, and my new shoes stained with muck from the rising water on the roads. Even those days if I pause (inside out of the wet and cold) and think about where I am and where I want to be, it's where I am. This is all new to me. I'm not used to being static. I'm less used to liking it.

I'm always happy where I am, but I've always been ready to move on, see the next bit of the world, try a different lifestyle with different people, and change who I am in the process. I've always seen coffee as the only constant, though it's been okay dragging the pets and a wife along on new adventures and new lives.

But the itchy feet are still. And not itching. It feels like a loss rather than a change; to scratch that itch is sheer self-indulgence? And if I'm going to stay put, what other kind of change can I effect in my life to keep myself interested?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ups and Downs; Swings and Roundabouts

Last day of my birthday holidays and I sit here on the computer, project managing the laundry in the machine and on the line and moving dirty dishes down my strategic priorities list to somewhere after "go for a bike ride" and "give Sinéad a cuddle".

Two weeks of friends visiting and visiting friends, rain, sun, sunny rain, driving rain, and all variety of swings and roundabouts and I'm knackered and feeling (almost) like it's about time to get back to work.

Megan arrived on a Monday (exactly one day after I went to pick her up at the airport) and in the subsequent ten days we managed to visit York, Haworth, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Isles of Mull and Iona, Bradford, Leeds, and an unscheduled swing through Lockerbie when the car broke down just outside of Gretna. By the end, it very much felt like, "If it's Tuesday, it must be Staffa" (except, of course, the day we scheduled Staffa was too stormy and the ferry was cancelled).

All the adventures culminated in a cream tea at Harvey Nics, on the terrace, under the blazing sun, overlooking the rooftops and unemployed shoppers of Leeds on Wednesday. I hope that while all the culture and the Culture of the north of England and Scotland were exciting enough to warrant Meg's trip across the ocean, what she takes home with her is that feeling of utter contentment of putting one's face to the sun and one's feet up next to a big bag of slab chocolate recently purchased from Hotel Chocolat.

Related Links:
We learned about "night out" options in Lockerbie

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pasta for One

It's official. Somehow in the last for years I have become incapable of living on my own. I'm wracking my brain and trying to think... did I used to cook myself meals? did I sit alone and stare at my toes for hours on end? who did the ironing?

and then it comes to me!

I used to have smoothies for dinner and the occasional splurge on Mac n' Cheese. I used to go to kickboxing every night and then pop down to DC and hang out with Rachel. I didn't own an iron.

There's a lesson in there somewhere, but I can't quite put my finger on it. I think it involves wrinkly clothes.

But no time to ponder, I'm off to eat my dinner which doesn't quite fit on the plate.

I really just don't know how to cook for one

(or how to use tupperware, apparently)


Monday, April 13, 2009

Long weekend

At peace with myself at the end of a four day weekend because I've managed to do so many of the things I've been meaning to do...

I've been meaning to...
...explore Shipley Glen and Baildon Moor

...go to the National Media Museum in Bradford

...wash the dog

...hang the washing on the line, rather than throw it in the dryer Centro de Brasil

...finish that bottle of white that's been sitting in the fridge

...stuff my face full of peanut butter eggs

...get the Wednesday Letters out of my house

...spend time with my lady

Still so many things on my list and it's back to work and back to making ends meet. But I can sleep well tonight cause I managed to do so many of the things I've been meaning to do.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On the job training

Time is marching on... but seriously MARCHing on. How can it be nearly time to change the clocks back? How does life just slip away so fast? I WANT AN ANSWER! THIS IS NOT A RHETORICAL QUESTION! (Well, really, it is. But it's so cliché that I felt the need to step away from tradition).
Over two months in my job and so am settling in. I've gotten on the bandwagon with organising happy hours and like the company of the girl who is attached to my desk, so that's lucky. Career-wise, I would say that the most environmentally related thing I've learned in the past couple weeks is that the Northeast of England is third highest for percent of salmon rod catch. All other learning is wedding etiquette. Most important things to note:
1) It is the _groom's_ responsibility to buy gifts for the bridesmaids;
2) the Mother-of-the-groom only gets to choose her dress after the mother-of-the-bride has chosen hers, the dresses cannot be the same color, and they most certainly should not be cream, ivory, ecru, or anything nearing the color reserved for the bride;
3) If the mother-of-the-bride wears a hat, all the ladies at the wedding have to wear a hat AND they're not allowed to remove their hats until the mother-of-the-bride does!
Every moment spent not learning is spent observing my colleagues, mostly because they're fun to watch. The two Richards always go together to get their drinks. I don't know why, but it's like watching girls going to the bathroom together... I can almost see them in high heels, with their elbows linked as they furtively whisper about work gossip. In actuality, they trudge a bit, exchange a Tim Allen grunt or two, and come back bearing cups of tea.

There is, of course, life outside the office. It goes on much as before.
I hurt my back on the trampoline and have been advised not to bounce for two whole weeks. I've taken this advice to mean something akin to "sit around on the couch, watch crappy quiz shows, and shove potato chips into your face whilst waiting for your wife to come home from the gym". It's really not doing much for my figure. It does amazing things for Sinéad though, since I'm eating up all the chips.

The Thing that most annoyed me in the news today (goodness it's hard to just pick one!)

What's really getting on my tits lately is the hoopla over Jade. Americans might have no idea who this is? Correct me if I'm wrong. It's a woman who was on Big Brother and was an annoying chav. She then became famous for being annoying and did a turn on Celebrity Big Brother (neither of which I have seen, by the way). While on the second TV she was thrown off for being racist, caused a big hoopla, and everyone in the UK and in the press hated her. And then she got cancer and she is the nation's darling. Which is weird, but somewhat understandable, but what annoys me is the minute-by-minute updates of her health that the news people give. This morning I got dressed to hear all about how she's gone blind in one eye.

It's all well and good to be sympathetic but everything this woman is going through is publicized. She has an agent to manage her cancer publicity. There's a debate about whether she's planning on publicizing the moment of death. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!

Related Links:
Jade goes blind
Wedding Etiquette

of the stalking kind