Sunday, January 31, 2016


Came across this in the acknowledgements of a book I read this weekend (Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson in case you were wondering, a lovely book that I enjoyed quite a lot).

"Thank you to my Brooklyn writing community, including write Katherine Mosby, who first taught me to appreciate the beauty of the sentence."

"The beauty of the sentence" - I like that. I think it struck me because I had a conversation with someone last week about writing and he was asking me if I'd go to a writing group with him. When we first met a few months ago he did mention to me that he had written a novel when he was a student (never published and he now claims that it's rubbish) and I, in turn and laughingly told him about my attempt at doing the 3-day-novel contest a few years ago. I had forgotten that conversation. Having been thinking over the last few months about perhaps trying my hand at writing a romance novel or two as a way to generate a bit of passive income, it seemed somehow apt that I happened to bump into him again and that he had obviously remember our previous chat about writing.

All I need is an idea or two. Since he chickened out of sending me the first chapter of his novel (I'd offered to read it for him but in the sober light of Monday morning he decided he couldn't bear the thought of it), I thought perhaps seeing my attempts might encourage him. So, without thinking too much about it I found the file of my 3-day-novel attempt and read through it quickly. And then sent it to him before I could chicken out.

I actually started two different novels that weekend. Got about two chapters done of each of them but since I had no plan at all and no idea of where I really wanted the stories to go, that was about as far as I got. And I haven't looked at them since. But I haven't deleted them either, which tells me a lot. It was interesting to read back over them. And actually, the first one wasn't too bad. Slightly whacky but really not too bad, I don't think. The other was okay as well but is a bit more on the trite side. Perhaps one day I'll go back to them.

What I found most surprising is that really, what little I did manage to come up with was quite creative really. And creativity is always the thing that I feel I'm most lacking in. The seminar on stress that I did over the last while was interesting in that it touched on the effects of long-term stress on cortisol levels and the brain. I think life in general and then, maybe, life living with depression and high levels of stress can really have an impact on creativity. I don't remember ever being particularly creative as a child but I think now that perhaps I had a tendency to conflate "creative" and "artistic" and, just because I wasn't any good at drawing or painting, it meant I wasn't creative. Need to get past that. I found myself reacting quite strongly to Jane's creativity bootcamp (see That Curious Love of Green for details) idea in lots of ways when I first read about it. Perhaps it's slowly becoming time for me to really pay attention to that part of myself. I'm not sure what that will look like but a number of things seems to be coming together to suggest that writing will definitely play a part. I'm (sort of!) looking forward to the ride.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Matching plates and bowls up

I few months after I moved here, I bought a set of second-hand dishes (you can see a picture on this old post). I still love these dishes but unfortunately a collapsing shelf when the cupboard door was open a few years ago means that I have almost none of the red plates or saucers left. I think I have one plate intact and four saucers (one which has a tiny chip out of it). The bigger sideplates have the pattern on them and I have plenty of them so I just use them and only occasionally think about how nice it would be if I had some of the red. I've toyed with the idea of going to one of those paint-your-own-ceramics places and seeing if I could re-create the colour but, well, that's one of those things you think about but almost never actually do.

On the spur of the moment last night, I called into a shop down the road from me. Not a pound shop, but not a million miles off either. They sell lots of cheapo stuff and then a few more expensive things. But if you need to grab a photoframe or a plastic box for under the bed, it's the place to go. I was thinking to myself as I headed out that maybe I should buy a small bowl in an effort to encourage myself to eat more salad. I'm not a huge fan of it in winter but a small side-salad with my dinner wouldn't be too hard to incorporate into my day. Perhaps if I had a nice bowl just for the purpose? I do have the soup bowls from my dinner service but they're not a great shape and a bit too big for what I was thinking of. The few small bowls they had along the lines of what I was thinking weren't really calling to me though and none was even close to matching any of the colours I have. I used to love having a mishmash of stuff but since I got this set I do make a bit of an effort to have matching things - not sure if that's something that happens as you get older anyway. I think perhaps wanting matched or non-matching stuff is one of those things that comes and goes in phases.

And then, just as I had decided to leave rather than spending money on something that wasn't really right, I passed the nice pottery section, where they have colourful hand-painted tagines and that kind of thing. Including, this week, a 2 for 3 special offer on the tapas dishes. I have to admit I normally walk right past this bit because gorgeous as the colours are, it's too tempting. But the big yellow signs caught my eye and then I spied some red stuff. Including some small bowls. And look: not a bad match at all, is it? It's not quite the same but close enough and, most importantly, it doesn't clash.

I grabbed the two small bowls that were there, added an olive dish type thing as my freebie and am happy out now. I wasn't really planning on spending money, don't have any to spare but this was totally worth it. I've been wandering in and out of the kitchen all day admiring them. More expensive than I might usually buy but for ten euro, not a reach-for-the-credit-card moment either. And although at first I hesitated because they might be too small, they're a bit deceptive so just the right size for a decent, but still small, portion of salad. And yes, I have tried it out already.

Colours are a bit strange in this photo but you can see the size of it beside the saucer, really not big at all. But big enough and I think it'll be a big help for February when I start paying closer attention to portion control.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Meal planning

Marisa over at foodinjars put up a post yesterday about how she approaches weekly meal planning. I thought I had written about how I do it before but can't find anything now and since I tend to go through phases of using slightly different methods it seemed like a not entirely terrible idea to make a note of what's working now. It might not work forever but it has been pretty successful so far.

Edited to add: Ha! I knew I'd written something about this before and today I randomly found it. Not a full post but just as part of a longer post on a productive evening last August.

Because I get my organic veg box delivered on a Thursday, it meant having to change up how I approached the week completely. Since you get your delivery on the day everyone else in the same area gets theirs so I can't change it. When I was still working, I used to check the order every Monday morning, make any changes (it's an excellent system and I can make substitutions online up to a couple of days beforehand) and then print out the order. These days, and not having a working printer at home at the moment, I've decided to wait and just use the delivery docket. I'm more flexible on time anyway so I can pick up anything else I need on the same day so it's not such a big deal to not have my plan ready in advance.

So here's this week's:
Might not be the prettiest but I find doing it by hand works better for me.
As well as the list of what I'm getting, I add the main things I already have in the fridge.
Then, I list the days, with two lines going from each: one for lunch, one for dinner. Even though my meal plan week really starts on Friday, I still always start this list with Monday.

This week I got lamb's lettuce, a pouch of red cabbage with apple, onions, leeks, potatoes and apples. I also run through my calendar to try and make appropriate choices for days where I might have a lot on. Being at home almost all days at the moment certainly makes this task a lot easier, though. I do prefer to eat a hot meal in the middle of the day and I can do that without having to think about flasks and heating stuff up in the morning.

Sidenote: Pru, if you're reading, my food flask is a brand called Emsa - I tried to leave a reply on Elaine's post but it wouldn't go through. Tried commenting on your blog last week, too and that didn't work either (that was a link to Dr. Doom's post on investment policy statements, which I thought you might find interesting - also links on that website to the jlcollinsnh stock series, which I've heard lots of praise for).

Where was I? Ah yes, the joys of not going to work every day. Anyway, once I have my meal plan set out, I make a list on the other side of the page with any items I might need to buy in. My store cupboard is looking fairly well-stocked at the moment so it's not much. And I picked most of this up while I was out and about this morning. I had an unexpectedly productive day, actually. I only went out for half-an-hour and ended up spending more like three hours going all over the place and getting seven or eight niggly little things done and dusted. All I'm missing now is ground cumin - I might try and make it to one of the Turkish or Indian supermarkets tomorrow. I crossed thyme off the list in the end because I remembered that I have a big jar of herbes de provence and that'll do instead. I keep a memo on the first screen of my phone with a note of anything I've noticed that I need to stock up on, too, so between that and my meal plan list, I'm all sorted.

My final step for meal planning these days is to enter what I've handwritten into another memo in my phone. No excuses if I'm not home to say, "Well, I have nothing to cook at home, I'll eat out/get chips on the way home". Not having to make a decision and not even needing to remember what I had on the list makes life just so much easier.

The main thing is to always remain flexible. So long as you're not running the risk of something going off, switching meals around or bumping them to next week is fine. Today, for example, I ended up out of the house for much longer than planned and was really hungry by the time I got home. I'd already put two slices of bread into the toaster before I'd even taken my coat off. There was no way I was going to wait for as long as it would take curry and rice to cook, no matter how much of a very quick recipe it was. I knew I still had a few slices of bread left though and tea and toast hit the spot very nicely.

I made the curry (bhuna recipe from mortgagefreeinthree except that I used beef) this evening and have just polished off a huge plate of it. And a smaller plate of lamb's lettuce, 'cos I really need some green stuff in me at the moment. It was fantastic, even if I do say so myself. I made a double portion (so it should have been four servings) but ended up eating nearly half. I'm giving myself until the end of January to get back to cooking properly all the time and then I'll concentrate on portion control a bit. I've used up the last of my curry-in-a-hurry paste though, so need to make more soon. I cooked the white beans I'll need for the Turkish bean salad this morning so they're in the fridge and ready to go. While the curry was cooking I washed the lamb's lettuce so it's easy to just grab a couple of handfuls of that for the next couple of days to go with whatever else I'm eating. And I think tomorrow morning I'll get the leek and potato soup going in the slow cooker before heading out for a walk. That way, it's done and will be also just be sitting in the fridge waiting to be used. And with that, my cooking for the week will be more or less done.

Forgot to mention that Marisa also posted a link to a page she has of recipes she likes and uses - definitely something I want to do so I'm going to add a page to my (not-used for a long, long time) food tracking blog and start making a list there.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Thoughts full of someone else

A while before christmas I found out that a very special friend of mine has lymphoma. He'd already had an orchiectomy (and recovered from it) when he told me about it but didn't seem to think that anything else would come from the tests they were doing. I think that was partly a typical male "don't talk about it" attitude and partly his natural positivity.

A few weeks later I got a message from a mutual friend letting me know that it was lymphoma - he wasn't sure if I'd heard and just wanted to make sure I knew. Of course, that made me fear the worst, why wouldn't he have just told me himself? At any rate when I contacted him he just said he'd been waiting to get the full picture before talking to me about it. And this was on the eve of his first chemo session. Still, obviously he has a lot to be dealing with and he has family and lots of friends who live a whole lot closer than I do (not hard, what with us living in different countries and all). Because of that and just because of the type of person he is, it feels like the less fussing I do, the better.

He did phone me and gave me an overview of what the treatment plan is but unfortunately it was one of those whatsapp calls that kept cutting out so I wasn't entirely sure of some aspects. I think he'll be having six lots of chemo at three-week intervals and I know he's spoken to a radiologist about starting radiology as soon as chemo has finished. So, not quite as "not serious" as he was implying.

I did get to see him over the holiday but only for an hour or so, most of which was spent in a crowded cafe, which wasn't specially conducive to deep conversation. He was a bit skittish anyway, not quite babbling but not far off it - talking about his holiday celebrations so far and that kind of thing. In the end we were a bit rushed so I didn't even get to find out any more details really. Sigh. I deal with things so much better when I have the full facts and don't have any leeway to be extrapolating from just a small amount of information. But, of course, this is his illness and he's in the centre of it, not me. At least I have this space to come and let loose some of the more selfish aspects of my character. It's a good release.

In the final analysis I just have to trust that his positivity (and the medical science, obviously) will get him through this. If he's sure he's going to get better then, well, to be honest, no better man. He is definitely the type to kick its ass rather than the other way round. But, yeah, fuck cancer - I have lost too many people to it already and I'm clinging to the hope generated by one of my best friends who battled it and won!

Had a completely different point in mind when I started writing this but can't remember now what it was. Oh well. This all needed to come out anyway. And I have no problem coming back again and again to write about him. One of the most wonderful men I've ever known. Actually, I think I might even try and do a whole series on some of my best friends and the wonderful people they are. That's an idea for a longer-term project that might help me deal with some of the things that have been occupying my mind for a while now.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Bread and burgers

I didn't make it out for a walk yesterday and although it got very late today, I did manage to finally leave my apartment and get moving for a while. One thing I did accomplish yesterday, however, was to make the 30-minute bread rolls I read about last year on mortgagefreeinthree. Wasn't planned for yesterday really but since I hadn't managed to go out and really fancied having some bread...

Actually, when I was binge-reading the MFin3 archives last summer I ended up ordering some strong flour and some yeast online so I had everything on hand and it was time to see if the 30 minutes was realistic or not. Excuse the not-great photos - it was nearly dark outside when I was doing this. Also, need to replace one bulb in the kitchen, really should remember to do that some time.

This much took just over five minute. Boiled the kettle to get hot water then mixed half boiled water with half cold water to get the tepid temp which is needed for the yeast (excellent tip from an old Mary Berry book I have). So, flour measured and salt added to it. Yeast, sugar and water mixed in jug. Oil and egg mixed. That jug is way too small though - as soon as I'd taken the photo, I had to tip it into a bigger bowl.

After waiting the ten minutes for the yeast to activate I mixed it all up. It felt like it was going to be a far too dry mixture and I had started wondering if I'd measured the flour wrong or somehow landed on a particularly small egg before the dough actually came together. Still only took a couple of minutes though. And then I kneaded for nearly five minutes ('cos, you know, that part's fun).

And then I cut the dough into six pieces and formed rolls. And realised I should have been cutting it into twelve so had to divide each giant roll again.

 There they are. I only dusted a few of them with flour as I'm not much of a fan of that. They did turn out slightly better than the non-dusted ones, though, so perhaps next time I'll make sure to have sesame seeds on hand, which might be nice. I left them to rise for five minutes while I did the washing up, as suggested and then started on the prep for making bean burgers. They did bake in ten minutes in my oven although I need to remember that it only take my oven ten minutes to heat to the right temperature so don't really need to turn it on until I've made the dough next time.

As fast and easy as promised. And they're tasty enough, too. I'll probably adjust to make these mostly wholemeal next time round. But that won't be for a while.

I ate these for my late lunch and also for dinner yesterday and kept a couple for today (had them toasted) and tomorrow but the rest have been sliced in half and put in the freezer.

Which I thought was very restrained of me. It's probably not a bad thing that I was in the middle of cooking the burgers as it meant they had cooled down by the time I got to eating my first two rolls. So the butter only melted a little bit. Hmmm, melty butter on hot bread.

Freezer is nearly full again now. 12 burgers gone in, as well as the 5 remaining bread rolls. I'm thinking the two combined would work very well. Next time I try these rolls I might make more from the quanity of dough, as they're quite substantial, perhaps 15 instead of 12 or something like that.

And that was that. Not my most productive day ever but baking bread made it feel like I really accomplished something. :)

Monday, January 04, 2016

This and that

Cleared out my gmail account a bit today (it's the one I mostly use for newsletters and signing up for anything that might lead to spam). I don't like using gmail so apart from keeping an eye on what's coming in using the app on my phone, I only log in every few weeks to delete stuff. I'm slowly unsubscribing to lots of things, too. I get a newsletter from a local drugstore type shop every week. Similar to Aldi or Lidl, they sell a small range of non-grocery items that changes every week and I do find it handy to keep an eye on what they have. There's a branch just across the road from me but getting the newsletter means I don't succumb to the temptation to just pop in and see what's on offer. Today, I was planning on going over there anyway as I've spent the last few days collecting old photos onto an SD card so that I can finally get them printed out. Mostly christmas photos as I've now had my christmas book for ten years but only have photos from one year in it. Typical. I started it in 2005 and in 2006 I got a digital camera. So that explains that.

In this week's newsletter, however, they had a special offer for ordering photos online for online 5c per 10x15cm print. Since I have 44 photos I want to get printed (there will be more but that's a start) I clicked through to see the terms and conditions. And was promptly offered the option to participate in a survey on their online photo services. So I did, it took all of three or four minutes and I'll be entered into a draw to win a €50 voucher or a mini iPad. And then the bit I had missed when I started the survey - just for completing the survey, I received a €5 voucher for their photo service. Yay. Together with the special offer, I was able to order my prints, arrange for them to be delivered to the branch near me for collection and I still have nearly €2 of credit left. What a great start to the new year, thanks Rossmann!

I should head out now for a walk but I think I'm going to do another round of knitting on the shawl I'm doing (sister's birthday present - for last October!) first. My feet are all snug in my felt slippers and I don't really want to move just yet.

I got these nearly a year ago and they're still going strong. And best of all, it's so easy to throw them into the washing machine to wash. I did that on Friday (everywhere I stayed over the holidays was a house with cats and/or dogs and they were covered in animal hairs) and since they take a couple of days to dry out, am only getting them 'back' today. Happy me.

On the schedule for the rest of the day apart from walking is finishing filling out the form to get my information sent from the Irish social welfare office and making some more carrot, cumin and kidney bean burgers for the freezer. A fairly gentle start to the week, just what I need.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Bureaucratic bullshit

Have just spent the last hour and a half trudging through the Arbeitsagentur (job centre/dole office) websites. Admittedly, I should have done much of what I've just done as soon as I finished work and I wouldn't have even bothered now if I hadn't received a letter that I have an appointment there next week. Hate how, even though I don't intend to take any money from them ('cos honestly, I can't afford to be out of work for the three months I'm excluded from getting money (because I quit rather than being fired) from them), I still have to fill out all of this shit. Soooo frustrating.

Normally I'm a big fan of doing things by the book and making sure everything is in place but I have to admit that I got a terrible advisor and so, after my initial meeting with her, I was already so annoyed and frustrated that I just pushed it all to one side and forgot about it. For the first month of not working I was very busy trying to sort things out for my side-business with the tax office, trying to do my tax return, sorting things out with the health insurance place, trying to get my website up and running, as well as actually working on translating. All while trying to get over my old job (working nearly 150 hours in the last two weeks really did a number on me).

In December, things were a bit better but still very busy with translating work due to a one-off huge project that landed on my doorstep. Lucky me. That project (if he ever pays the invoices) will give me enough money to not have to worry too much in January. I really did think I'd have a temp job from the beginning of December or, at the very latest, from the beginning of January. Turns out putting all my trust in this one (really very reputable, excellent agency) might not have been the best idea. On the other hand, part of it really is to do with the time of year so I might end up getting five phone calls for different jobs next week. At any rate, I do need to now get my ass in gear and start being very pro-active about looking for a new job. I do have two posssibilities, both of which would start mid-January, neither of which I have yet interviewed for and neither of which are really what I'm looking for. But we'll see. Anything is better than nothing.

The first website I went onto was the job-centre section. They've sent me about five suggestions for positions, only one of which was in any way suitable (and I missed the deadline on that one as I was still working when it came in and just didn't get to it). So now I've cleared those at least, although I'm bound to get in trouble for not applying to any of them. I'm planning on spending time tomorrow and Tuesday sending off at least that many applications so that by my meeting at the end of the week, I can truthfully state that I've sent off more than the threeI have done until now. Actually, if I include the two prospects I've also got for this month then I'm up to five, which isn't bad, according to Arbeitsagentur guidelines. I think I'm supposed to do at least six a month or something.

Anyway, then I went and filled out my application to receive the dole. Not sure they'll accept it though. I really should have done that as soon as I left my old job. But since I don't really plan on having to receive any money from them I'm not too worried. I'll still have to go back to my former employer though and get them to fill out one form. And contact the Department of Social Welfare in Ireland to get them to send me another form (hooray for the EU but at the same time, stupid EU bureaucracy!).

Could think of better things to be doing with a Sunday morning to be honest. You have to answer so many completely irrelevant questions on these forms. I comforted myself with the knowledge that for somebody, somewhere, those questions probably aren't irrelevant.

So anyway, that was all a bit of a meanginless rant but better out than in, as they say. I should be going to the opera this afternoon but after the last performance, when I spent ages looking for my tickets, I put them away somewhere safe. And now I have no idea where they are. So it looks like there'll be no Offenbach for me today. A pity, but I can't bring myself to care too much. Just enough to look in one more place.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

2015 year in books - the stats

A summary of what I read last year - see the same thing for 2014 here, 2013 here2012 here and 2011 here.

  • Books by male authors:31
  • Books by female authors:41
  • Fiction: 63
  • Non-fiction: 9
  • English books: 72
  • German books: 0
  • Books re-read:29
  • Book club books: 0

Friday, January 01, 2016

2015 - the year in books

Another year, another list of books. I'm so very glad that I started doing this - even in a year like 2015 which was, to be honest, quite a forgettable one for books. I looked at my list sometime around September and thought to myself that there really wasn't anything much on the list that I could even add to a list of "best books you've read this year" - couldn't even really force myself to try and see if there were any that wouldn't be out of place on a list with the word "best" in it. Still, it is good to look back and see the list and realise that books I thought I'd read ages ago were in fact only a couple of months ago and remind myself of some of the interesting stuff I have read this year.

I find myself wondering why I find that it was a lacklustre reading year really. I'm not sure if it's just me or if it was my choice of books. A combination I suppose. It seems that a lot of the books on my I-want-to-read list, especially classics, are just not the books for me. Again I seemed to struggle with finishing quite a lot of books. There are a few of those not on the list - perhaps I'll go back to them this year and finish up. I did manage to complete a few this year that I couldn't get through last year. At any rate, disappointment after disappointment led me to a lot of re-reading this year simply because I couldn't take it any more and was almost afraid of being put off reading entirely. 

More than half of what I read this year I read in November and December. Lots of re-reading, lots of shorter books and more time than usual to read as I wasn't working a normal full-time job. And lots of romance novels in that time, too, partly as a fun trip down memory lane, partly as research - I realised last year that even if I don't have a great work of literature in me, I might yet manage to produce a romance or two. And the year was somewhat saved by the fact that in December I realised that Robin Hobb has written another Farseer trilogy. Have to wait for the third part to be published but I really enjoyed the first two. In fact, re-reading the original trilogy might be something nice to do this year.
I'm going to attempt to get book club started again this year so that should mean at least eight or ten books that should be interesting to read, even if I don't necessarily like them. And I think I do need to challenge myself again to read some German books. There isn't a single one on this year's list. And very few non-fiction either.

If you're interested in seeing lists for previous years, click 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 or 2010. If you're posting a list of books that you've read this year, or about your favourite book or similar, click on over to bookpunks to find others in clickclackgorilla's annual bloghop and add a link to your post in the comments.

(BC) = Book club books (none this year)
(RR) = something I've re-read - there are some books, such as by Georgette Heyer, that I invariably read every year when the escapism of new fiction isn't enough and I want to escape into familiar stories that always make me laugh or cry.

  1. Moab is my washpot - Stephen Fry
  2. Bring on the apocalypse - George Monbiot
  3. We need to talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
  4. 'Tis - Frank McCourt
  5. The Weathermonger - Peter Dickinson
  6. Teacher Man - Frank McCourt
  7. Opening Acts- Suki Cunningham
  8. The life-changing magic of tidying up - Marie Kondo
  9. Real food has curves - Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarborough
  10. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking- Susan Cain (the standout book of this year, I think, I really, really liked this book)
  11. Game for Anything - Lyn Wood
  12. Friday's Child - Georgette Heyer (RR)
  13. Sprig Muslin - Georgette Heyer (RR)
  14. The Black Moth - Georgette Heyer (RR)
  15. Sylvester - Georgette Heyer (RR)
  16. The Diamond Throne - David Eddings (RR)
  17. The Ruby Knight - David Eddings (RR)
  18. The Sapphire Rose - David Eddings (RR)
  19. Domes of Fire - David Eddings (RR)
  20. The Shining Ones - David Eddings (RR)
  21. The Hidden City - David Eddings (RR)
  22. These Old Shades - Georgette Heyer (RR)
  23. Venetia - Georgette Heyer (RR)
  24. The Grand Sophy - Georgette Heyer (RR)
  25. Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination - Helen Fielding
  26. Mistborn - Brandon Sanderson
  27. Well of Ascension - Brandon Sanderson
  28. Hero of Ages - Brandon Sanderson
  29. Dune - Frank Herbert
  30. Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
  31. A Civil Contract - Georgette Heyer (RR)
  32. Nice Work - David Lodge
  33. Dearly Devoted Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
  34. Dexter in the Dark - Jeff Lindsay
  35. Dexter by Design - Jeff Lindsay
  36. Dexter is Delicious - Jeff Lindsay
  37. Double Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
  38. Heart of Gold - Ali Olson
  39. Dexter's Final Cut - Jeff Lindsay
  40. Dexter is Dead - Jeff Lindsay
  41. Seaswept - Nora Roberts (RR)
  42. Rising Tide - Nora Roberts (RR)
  43. Inner Harbor - Nora Roberts (RR)
  44. Serendipity - Judith McWilliams (RR)
  45. Witchcraft - Jayne Ann Krentz (RR)
  46. A Hero At Heart - JoAnn Ross (RR)
  47. The Fix-It Man - Vicki Lewis Thompson
  48. The Mistress of his Manor - Catherine George
  49. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling (RR)
  50. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling (RR)
  51. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling (RR)
  52. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling (RR)
  53. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling (RR)
  54. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling (RR)
  55. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling (RR)
  56. The Unknown Ajax - Georgette Heyer (RR)
  57. Fool's Assasisn - Robin Hobb
  58. Frugal Stuff That Works - Elaine Colliar
  59. Chesapeake Blue - Nora Roberts (RR)
  60. Memories of Gold - Ali Olson
  61. Fool's Quest - Robin Hobb
  62. The Martian - Andy Weir
  63. Dragon Keeper - Robin Hobb
  64. Dragon Haven - Robin Hobb
  65. Becoming your real self - Dr. Eddie Murphy
  66. City of Dragons - Robin Hobb
  67. The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
  68. The Next Always - Nora Roberts
  69. The Last Boyfriend - Nora Roberts
  70. The Perfect Hope - Nora Roberts
  71. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
  72. Fear and loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson (still have a couple of chapters to go on this but closer to being finished than not so I'm including it in 2015).

Start the new year off right

Having had a late night on 30th (but a fantastic one, catching up with most of my old group from school and laughing till we cried for hours on end), during which I may also have drunk way more wine than is good for you, I flew back home yesterday evening and more or less collapsed into bed. Stopping only to let the friends who had invited me to their new year's eve celebration know that I wasn't going to make it.

I've had a very easy day today as well, reading and catching up on sleep whenver I felt my eyes closing. About an hour ago I started thinking about food and what to cook for dinner. There are frozen chips in the freezer but I kind of wanted to eat something healthy after all the indulgence over the holidays. So I thought of the curry paste I also have in the freezer and thought maybe with a tin of chickpeas, that would do the trick. I was still thinking it'd be a bit bland though, with no vegetable or meat component. And then I looked in the freezer (actually, I had gone as far as opening the freezer to get out the chips after all) and remembered I had two small containers of cabbage. Sorted. Then I remember there was also a bag of green beans in there. Even better. And then my eye caught on the two sweet potatoes that have been languishing in my kitchen since some time in October. And so a curry is born.
I've added tumeric to the rice (tumeric is supposed to be good for your liver, isn't it? I need that after the past few days). And I sauteed the sweet potatoes in cubes before adding the curry paste discs. Of course then it all went a bit pear-shape because I came into the sitting room to start my laptop and for some reason began to look at photos on an old memory card. I was looking for the cable to attach my phone to the computer to get the photos off and saw the card in the box and the next thing you know... ... ...

So this became a bit burnt before I got back to it. Oh well. I've added some water, the chickpeas and cabbage - don't think it was so badly burnt that it'll be inedible. Smells good actually. Beans will go in in a minute and hey presto, a healthy dinner to start the year off right. Might not have managed a walk today (yet) but at least one aspect is covered.

Year in Books 2015 is still to come. And I never posted about my Sealed Pot opening either. I'm half thinking of trying to post every day in January so might see how that goes. For now, I wish you all a very happy, peaceful and joyous new year, something I'm planning on doing my best to have for myself as well.