Thursday, May 30, 2013


What a lovely evening.  The conversation never flagged once and given that it's after half-three and I just got home, that's a lot of conversation over the course of, well, six or seven hours.  Topics ranging from opera and composers' lives to the chemical composition of lysine, from nutrition and diet to books and authors, from old-fashioned comedy to lists of things it's better never to order in a restaurant once you've learned to make them yourself, from the outrage caused here a couple of weeks ago by a performance of Tannhauser which was staged in the nazi period to sharing stories of student life and from gun control laws to how many different ways there are in English to pronounce words ending in "ough" (eight, in case you're wondering).  And that's just the stuff I can remember off the top of my head.  I haven't laughed so much for a long time, nor felt so in awe of how much some people know about so many different subjects.

I went straight from work and had gnocchi (in a tomato sauce with mozzarella and basil) to eat.  Had a cup of peppermint tea after dinner and very late in the evening a shot of Killepitsch, a local liquor. Otherwise I stuck to drinking water the whole night.  Can't quite believe that I wasn't even really all that tired when I left the others.  They were going to try and get one last drink while waiting the 20 minutes for a taxi-driver friend to get there.  I was just so hungry though that I knew if I stayed in town that long I'd end up going for a pizza or a kebab or something similar so I left them and headed off to get a taxi directly home (I only live about five minutes drive from town anyway) so that I could have a slightly healthier couple of slices of bread. My hunger isn't sated properly but hopefully now I'll be able to sleep without waking up too ravenous.  I'm glad I didn't let the horrible rain today put me off going out after all.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Detoxing day 3

Apart from drinking the makes-you-pee tea every day I'm not so much detoxing as I am just eating healthily. Crucially, however, I am not snacking and this has definitely been facilitated by having to leave work early for doctors appointments the last two days.  So I will need to be careful tomorrow when I'm not only going to be working a full day, but will very likely end up doing an hour or two of overtime to catch up as well.  Choir has been cancelled but people are going to meet for drinks at a restaurant and I'm in two minds whether to go or not.  On the one hand, it'd be nice to go out and not be thinking about leaving as soon as I arrive because I know I have to work the next day (it's a bank holiday on Thursday).  On the other, it's money I would be better advised to not spend.  When I was first thinking about this I thought it was typical that the one time I can sleep in the next morning and so not worry about having a bit too much to drink, I'm trying to do a mini-detox.  Then I realised that although I do kind of fancy getting pissed, I still don't have any problem going out with a bunch of people and drinking fizzy water or herbal teas while they're quaffing beer. I'll probably just see how tomorrow goes and decide spontaneously whether to go or not.

As for day 3 of my mini-detox, while I have felt hungry during the day I haven't really had a headache, except for an hour or two towards the end of work and that was most likely caused by stress.  I did develop a coldsore overnight though, which is very annoying.  The second one I've ever had.  I wonder if it was going to happen anyway or if this detox is stressing my body physically more than I think.  For lunch I had some of the carrot and ginger soup that I made on Sunday.  To bulk it up a little I handed a small amount of small alphabet pasta shapes.  It filled me up quite well alright but I didn't really like the pasta so I think I'll just stick to soup next time or maybe add some lentils or barley.

I had two slices of bread with cheese and dried tomatoes when I arrived home at around six o'clock and didn't eat dinner until nearly nine.  That was a small salad with oak leaf lettuce, some more dried tomatoes (they're the type that come in herby oil, just in case anyone is mistakenly thinking that I'm being really, really virtuous) and a simple vinaigrette dressing.  I also had three more small slices of bread (that's the problem with round-shaped bread, not all slices are equal) with a bit less than two teaspoons of the wild garlic pesto I made yesterday.  Delicious.  Really, really delicious in the I-want-to-eat-it-all-now-but-that-small-amount-was-more-than-satisfying kind of way.  I can't believe it has taken me this long to get around to making my own pesto.  It's certainly something I have intended to do several times.  Actually, I've intended to make hummus multiple times as well and never have.  I think I'm going to go and put some chickpeas on to steep.  After all, I'll have a bit of time on Thursday to think about cooking them.  I've been wanting to try Smitten Kitchen's recipe for ethereally smooth hummus and am pretty sure I still have tahini in the cupboard since the last time I intended to try making it and never got around to it.  

Tomorrow will be porridge for breakfast, soup for lunch, apples for snacks and I think it will be a good idea to bring a small sandwich to eat at around five or so, especially since I'll probably end up working past six.  I'm going to try and make it to the market before work in the morning and try and get my hands on some strawberries, too.  Haven't had any yet as the weather still hasn't been great and they're probably not too sweet yet but the last two days have been sunny so I might get lucky.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Detoxing day 2

While I did a fairly proper eat only fruit and veg day 1 detox, I knew that wouldn't be terribly realistic during the working week.  To get me off to a good start this morning though, I left some porridge oats steeping in milk last night and this morning at around half-seven had a cup of hot water with lemon juice, followed by a bowl of porridge with one teaspoon of sugar.  I woke up with a slight low-level headache and I hoped that kind of a substantial breakfast, along with just a little sugar, would help me to get over that.  It did help and luckily I had a very busy morning, unusually having to spend quite a bit of time away from my desk and running all over the building so I made it through the morning without any serious cravings.  By the time twelve o'clock came around though, I was properly hungry.  Since I wasn't having a proper lunch break today and just eating at my desk (because of leaving early) I didn't wait until my normal time of one o'clock and just dug into my salad there and then.  Oak leaf lettuce with some dried tomatoes and wild garlic and a simple vinaigrette.  I was terribly proud of myself for not stopping to get a bread roll to have with it, too.

My hunger wasn't quite sated but they do say you should only eat until you're about 80% full (or is it two-thirds? They say so many things!) so I just ate my apple and left it at that.  I also drank two cups of detox tea while I was in work, although I've decided to rename it makes-you-pee tea.  I was up three times during the night!  So while I do want to keep drinking the tea and avoiding junk for the rest of the week (that'll finish the box), I drank the third cup this evening shortly after seven in the hopes of getting a less disturbed night tonight.  Despite the headache I did wake up feeling pretty energetic so that's a positive anyway.

I think if I hadn't been leaving work at four o'clock I would have really struggled to stay away from the vending machine. I did eat three tictacs I had left in work, as well as a cough sweet as the headache returned an hour or so after lunch.  It's tricky finding the balance between getting through that initial period without going backwards or sabotaging yourself by forcing yourself to be miserable.   I headed off to the doctor and had my laser treatment.  It only lasts ten minutes so I was out of there just after five.  That's a whole hour earlier than I could even begin to think about leaving work at.  I made the best of it by stopping to pick up some pine nuts (5.99 for 60g - I remember why I never buy them!) and pecorino cheese so that I could make pesto with the rest of the wild garlic I had.  I found a recipe which didn't rely on exact quantities but gave measurements that were more useful to me.  And after a short break when I got home, during which I had two slices of bread, I got up and started doing stuff.  Hoovered and washed all the floors, cleaned the bathroom, pureed the soup, did all the washing up and made pesto.  Not bad for someone who suspected when she got home that her headache might stop her getting anything done.  I have a wash on the go and have just finished a portion of the Indian spices potato and veg soup that I made yesterday.

I think I'll definitely be trying this pesto recipe with some basil soon as well.  When the pine nuts are gone though I'll be trying variations with other less expensive nut options.  I wasn't well organised enough to have sterilised jars ready or patient enough to put it into ice-cube trays so have just put it in Tupperware in the fridge and will use it up in the next week or so.  Here's the basic recipe:

1 amount of wild garlic
Half that amount (in weight) of pine nuts
Match the weight of wild garlic and pine nuts with pecorino cheese (i.e. if you have 100g of wild garlic, it's 50g of pine nuts and then 150g of cheese).

I've heard before that the easiest way to make pesto is just to whizz it all up in a food processor but I have to agree with one commenter on the website I found the recipe on (which I cannot find again now) that the garlic won't be properly chopped in the food processor.  It'd be worth cutting the garlic separately and just pulsing it and the cheese shortly, together with the already chopped nuts.  I added in enough olive oil to get it going in the processor and then put it in Tupperware and added enough olive oil to cover.  I just had a taste of what got spilt on my fingers and it was delicious.  And the colour is fabulous, somehow far more green than the wild garlic was by itself.  I'm looking forward to using it soon.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday night chit-chat

What are you:
Bed book: Princess Bride (William Goldman) - more than halfway through now
Tram book: Arguably (Christopher Hitchens) - I should read more collections of essays and short stories.  Food for thought and I can often start one during the short tram journey to work and finish it at lunchtime.
Kitchen book: Candide (Voltaire) - started this in March but someone spilt something near it and it got a bit wet so now I'm finally getting back to it.  Another one of those books I've had on my to-read shelf for years.

Going to settle down to watch either Iron Man 2 or Music and Lyrics.  I want to go to see Iron Man 3 while it's still on in English but can't remember much of the second film so it would be good to re-watch it.  On the other hand, I think I'm more in the mood for a rom-com.  Went to see Star Trek: Into Darkness yesterday which means yesterday was a bit of a Star Trek feast as I watched the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek film in the afternoon.  Now I want to watch the original series again. :)

Listening to
Just the sound of the soup bubbling away in the kitchen at the moment.  Trying to get at some podcasts on iTunes but that bloody program just does not like me.  One of these days I'll figure it out, I'm sure.

It has been a weekend of soup with me trying to do a mini-detox.  One large pot of vegetable soup made yesterday, one of carrot and ginger soup this afternoon and there's another one on at the moment so that I could use up the rest of the cabbage and chard.  I added potatoes to this one as well as some wild garlic and the sweet potato that has been lying untouched for months and lots of 'Indian' spices.  Have had one small and two very large portions of soup today, have some in the fridge for tomorrow, nine servings in the freezer and still the last pot to puree and deal with.  I also still have a big bunch of rhubarb to use up and will probably just stew most of that tomorrow and use the rest to make a mini crumble.

Happy you accomplished this week
Posted off my niece's birthday present (and it arrived).  Got a few odd bits of decluttering done, including the kitchen windowsill and also managed to cook and use up just about all the food I had waiting to be used, including my massive haul of veg from the market yesterday.  And I sorted out the few games I have and put them all together in a box, which looks much tidier on the shelf.

Looking forward to next week
Not sure I'm really looking forward to it but I have my first two of five laser treatments tomorrow and Tuesday.  I'm not really looking forward to it and it's a pain that I have to pay for it out of pocket but if it finally releases some of the giant knot in my left shoulder/neck area...well, less pain I could definitely look forward to.  Added advantage to these appointments is that I will need to leave work early to get to them but it will be too late once they're finished to go back to work so I will actually be at home at a decent hour, too.  And we have the last of our multiple May bank holidays on Thursday.  Also, registration for the community college opens this week so I will be registering for the preparation course for the proofreader's exam I want to do next year.

Thankful for today
That I can eat just soup all day for no reason other than I want to try and eat healthily and not because it's all I have.  While looking for a recipe for carrot and ginger soup I also found a recipe for carrot-stuffed onions which I can't wait to try.  And longer and longer evenings.  They'll never match the long evenings in Dublin but still, bright until after eight and still not quite dark by twenty to ten is pretty good.

Bonus question: what chore around the house do you dislike doing the most?
Dusting!  It was this realisation which helped to curb my habit of buying cute little ornaments.  I now have very little other than photos and candles out on display.  The candles I use all the time and dusting the photos isn't quite as cumbersome a chore since it's always nice looking at photos of family and friends and good times.

If you'd like to join in with Sunday night chit-chat, post away and then head over to Half-Dozen Daily to link up.

Detox vegetable soup

As so often happen, the weekend did not quite go the way I had planned.  I slept later than I thought I would and woke up famished.  That rarely happens but when it does I know better than to force myself to wait a long time to eat.  Then I realised I still had one slice of quiche still left in the fridge so I ate that, telling myself that I'd go to the market then and start my mini-detox in the afternoon.  But I had also forgotten that I took what I thought was bean and veg soup out of the freezer on Thursday evening to have on Friday evening.  On Friday evening though I used up loads of leftovers and wasn't hungry enough to eat soup as well.  And then when I opened the Tupperware (someday I'll go back through this blog and add the trademark symbol to every mention of Tupperware but until then Tupperware, please forgive me and be at least happy with the fact that when I say Tupperware I really do mean Tupperware and not just any plastic box) I realised it was actually the last portion of the rustic turkey and orange pot that I made at the end of January.  Beans would have been slightly stretching the idea of eating only fruit and veg this weekend but meat was definitely going way off course.  It was still delicious though.  Must make that again some time soon.  Since I was so off course anyway I also ate the three small Mars bars yesterday, had an apple in the afternoon and finished the day with a medium bag of salted popcorn at the cinema.  I say medium but I had the feeling that I ate through the entire film and I still had some left when I got home.  Nice that German cinemas are starting to sometimes offer salted popcorn as well as sweet. though.

So the detox yesterday was a bit of a bust.  I did, however, go to the market and spent nearly fifteen euro buying all of this lovely lot:

White cabbage, kohrabi, chard, wild garlic, rhubarb, apples, lettuce, carrots

I did use a small amount of butter for sauteeing the onions but otherwise the soup I made was all veg with just a small amount of stock powder.  I used:

2 smallish onions
2 leeks
6 carrots
Half a bunch of wild garlic
1 kohlrabi, including stems and leaves
Handful of chard
Half a head of white cabbage
Teaspoon of tumeric
Rest of the jar of passata that I had opened earlier in the week

All of that went in to a big pot, was brought to the boil and then I turned the heat down and just left it simmering away for about an hour with the lid on.   This morning I pureed it in batches and put a small amount into a small pot to heat up for lunch.  I sipped on a cup of hot water mixed with the juice of half a lemon while I did that and then got carried away with clearing off and cleaning down the windowsill in the kitchen.  Something I don't think I've done for about three years.

There was a piece of wool lying there that I had knit and felted and never gotten around to making anything out of - I had left it lying there in the sun to dry as it was fairly thick, I think.  That was what started me cleaning actually as I noticed a moth not far from it and when I moved it slightly there was a lot of what looks like dust and is mostly moth eggs and then when I turned it over there were pupae and larva, too.  Nothing moving at least so it all went straight into the bin and then I cleared off the long-neglected plants and washed down the windowsill very well.  I also dumped the rest of the little bits and pieces that always seem to accumulate on spare surfaces and threw out the used soapnuts that were in a container.  I've been saving the soapnuts I use for washing once they're used up as I read that even when they seem to be spent, you can boil them up and use that liquid for cleaning, too.  The first time I tried to save my used ones I put them in a sealed container and obviously they weren't quite dry when I did because they eventually got mouldy.  So then I started keeping them in an open container.  But I've never gotten around to doing anything with them and if they must have been at least as dusty as the windowsill was, which is probably not really what you want from your cleaning products, so out they went.  I hate to just throw stuff out but I need to be a bit ruthless at this stage.  I can already feel the difference this relatively simple task has made to the place - every time I walk into the kitchen it feels so much nicer (the windowsill is directly opposite the door, so it's the first thing you see when you walk in).

I've just spent an hour and a half on the phone to one of my sisters so I'm a bit behind now.  Things I'd still like to get done today: (edited with updates in brackets at around ten o'clock)

  1. Sweep and clean floors
  2. Give bathroom quick going over
  3. Iron and put away everything that's been washed this week (have done trousers and a shirt for work tomorrow but that's it)
  4. Make more soup (I bought loads of carrots on purpose so that I could try my hand at carrot and ginger soup, still have half a head of cabbage to use up and a pile of chard that has been slowly wilting on the countertop since yesterday) (done - just need to puree the last batch but it's just finished cooking so I'll leave it till tomorrow because I can't face another round of washing-up this evening)
  5. Wash lettuce to have salad ready for lunch tomorrow and Tuesday (done)
Not a huge list but quite a lot to do all the same.  So far I've only had one bowl of soup but I didn't plan on spending a long time on the phone today so now I'm kind of hungry again.  I'm having an apple and will go and make carrot soup when I've finished and then eat some of that.   Going to make myself a cup of detox tea, too.  I had some yesterday and while it might not become my favourite it's quite nice to drink and at least it's warming.  It's cold here again today.  Where did spring go?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Things I've been up to

Trying to get back in the habit of drinking herbal teas.  I'm not sure if it was something I ate or the fact that I was wearing trousers with a belt but I have been horribly bloated and had indigestion every day this week - I've kept it just about under control though by opening my last box of "flat tummy" tea, which is a digestive mix that my sister's local supermarket in France does.  I stock up when I visit here, every time promising myself that I will go to the tea shop here and buy the individual herbs to mix up my own batch.  It's great stuff, though and between that and peppermint tea, I've managed to keep the indigestion from really hurting.

There was no big decision to get back to eating properly and bringing lunch every day but this week has worked out in such a way that I only ate lunch out once (and that was on Wednesday, when I go straight to choir from work and I did bring a snack with me for after work, instead of stopping to get takeaway).  I even took some soup out of the freezer yesterday and heat that up before work this morning.  It's a bit depressing that heading into the last week of May it has been cold enough to appreciate a flask of warm soup for lunch, but it was lovely soup at least (the last of the spicy carrot and lentil soup).  I've also used up almost all of the leftovers I've had in the fridge this week, with just the rest of the jar of passata from Monday still to go.   And I only made one trip to the vending machine in work this week, too.

Tomorrow I plan to head to the market and buy enough veg to make a huge pot of soup.  To try and get my digestion system properly over whatever it is that's been going on this week, I've going to just eat that soup and maybe a bit of fruit over the weekend.  Maybe I'll finally get around to drinking that detox tea I bought in January (and just realised that I still have one of the two sweet potatoes I bought that day as well, might end up throwing that into the soup tomorrow, too).

I got the bill for participating in the Happy Birthday Handel performance of the Messiah next year so have paid that plus the deposit for the accommodation that weekend.  I had that amount saved in my new holiday fund already but to make things easier from a banking perspective I have just transferred a smaller amount to my annual expenses fund and used the rest to pay those bills. Whenever I get a chance to go into the bank I'll transfer the money from the holiday fund into the annual expenses fund (can only do transactions from those accounts in-branch) to even things up again.  But it was so nice to have that bit of money already put aside when the bills arrived.

For no particular reason this week I also started to clear up some of my email inboxes.  I've gotten back into the habit over the last few months of opening and deleting or filing most of what I get as soon as I get it but during the couple of years where I was badly depressed an awful lot of stuff built up.  Still have quite a way to go but it feels good to have made a start.

And finally, here are two amusing little youtube tidbits for a Friday evening (I'm going to see my first Wagner opera in a few weeks so this was particularly apt):

And I may be going to see the new Star Trek film tomorrow (that came up after I decided to do my mini-detox this weekend but I can survive one film without popcorn), which reminded me again of this ad:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Using up leftovers - French bread pizzas

Many, many moons ago Suze from Simply Seeking Serenity commented on a post I did about food waste, asking if I would post some of the things I do with leftovers.  I don't think I ever did get around to doing a proper post on that but in a new effort to also make sure to cook and use up everything, I've decided to post  details every time I do this for the next while.  

After eating leftover pasta salad from the barbeque on Friday all weekend, I still also needed to use up the baguette that I was left with.  A few things came together to give me a flash of inspiration on this one and French bread pizzas it was.

I sliced the baguette in half and then again into lengths a bit longer than my hand.  I opened a jar of passata that I made last summer, feeling smug all the while about having lovely home-bottled summery goodness on hand.  My brother scored dozens of garlic bulbs in the reduced section of the supermarket a while back and when I was in Ireland a few weeks ago he gave me some.  I cut one large clove of garlic in half and rubbed the cut side all over the bread.  Then I spooned some passata onto each slice.  You can see in this photo, particularly the slice at the front, how quickly it gets absorbed as I had done half of them before I thought to go and get the camera and just in the time it took me to walk into the other room, a good bit had soaked into the bread.  So I added a second helping of passata to each slice.

Next up I finely sliced half an onion and added it to the top of half of them.  Then I took the grated cheese out of the fridge.  I bought a large block of cheese several weeks ago and never got around to using it.  I checked it on Friday and had to cut a fair amount away to get rid of the mould that had started and the rest of it was not terribly nice in texture anymore.  I prefer my cheese more on the creamy rather than the crumbly side of things.  So, I decided to grate it all, thinking that I would make a quiche on Saturday.  Only I never actually went shopping so have no eggs and therefore didn't make quiche (the impetus to use up that cheese helped decide me on making these French bread pizzas in the first place).  I added plenty of cheese to each slice and topped a few of them with chopped dried tomatoes.  I've been buying these quite a lot recently and plan to use however many jars I get through by the time tomato season comes around to give me an indication of how many I should be drying myself to see me through the winter.  

And that was it.  I remembered to sprinkle some oregano on at the last minute and they went into a pre-heated oven at about 150 while I did the washing-up and hung up the washing, so about twenty-five minutes I think.  Could have been less but I wanted to get that stuff finished before I sat down again. Et voila. 

The finished product - delicious, if I do say so myself

I planned to only eat half but was hungrier than I realised and ended up eating four of these.  The other two will be for lunch tomorrow.

Miscellaneous links

I've started sometimes bookmarking stuff that I think it might be interesting to share.  Not all of this stuff is necessarily relevant for me but I often find myself thinking, "Oooh, people will be interested in that, it should be linked to from all over."  And some of it is very relevant and I want to have a link posted here that I can come back and find.  Because no matter how hard I try, I have lost many, many bookmarks over the years.  And/or go back to a site and have no idea why I wanted to go back to it.  Part of the reason I now use pinterest to bookmark things, really, being able to write notes to go with the pin.  So, in no particular order:

Juggling Motherhood - using questionnaires to capture moments in time - really liked this idea.  I love my christmas yearbook and this is a similar idea, especially great to do if you have kids, I'd say.   It reminds me of someone posting once at halloween that they sit with their family discussing what they want and plan for the winter season.

Interesting post on ordinariness - The outrageous lie about ordinary

Good post on why the way you approach blogging and online interaction is not necessarily the way everyone does and why that's not a bad thing - Mistranslation-what you hear isn't what's being said

This post about depression resonated so deeply with me, and judging by the number of appreciative comments with a huge number of others.  It's very hard to articulate a lot of this stuff and I am always glad to find something, be it a longer piece like this or just a short sentence, to help me put some of what I go through into words - Hyperbole and a half - depression part two (haven't read part one yet)

This has some information on a somewhat disturbing new EU law which aims to restrict what seeds can be saved (over-simplistic explanation) - - I need to find time to find out more about this because it's the kind of issue that might get little attention until it's too late to change anything about it

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday night chit-chat

This is the bike I went to see at the Big Bike Show last weekend

And this is another bike that was in some kind of weird and wonderful section of the competition - I still can't figure out how it's supposed to work or what the keg is for

What are you:
I read The Silver Linings Playbook yesterday, after having finish Strumpet City during the week.  I feel like I'm on a roll.  I've got Christopher Hitchens' Arguably on the go on the kindel and today I picked up the Princess Bride again, too.  That's another one of the many books I started earlier in the year and never finished.

Not much.  Have been enjoying The Big C recently but have caught up now so just waiting for new episodes to air.

Listening to
Around my grave sing songs of joy, a Battenkill Ramblers album that I downloaded recently.  Lead singer is the amazingly talented Nicolette from clickclackgorilla, who not only sounds even better live than she does on cd but also built/refurbished her own house out of an old building wagon.  I should be practicing for choir but just haven't been able to get enthusiastic about our current program.  I think it's safe to say that I'm not a huge fan of Bach motets.

I made a giant amount of pasta salad for our annual barbeque in the building I live in on Friday night but although the rain stayed away it was fairly cool and not many showed up.  So I've been eating pasta salad all weekend to finish it up.  I wanted to make the chickpea salad which I've made before and always goes down well but when I went to steep the chickpeas on Thursday night, I discovered that I only had a small amount left.  I still left them to steep and added the remains of a packet of white beans as well, which I turned into a tomato and bean/chickpea casserole.  It was a nice break from the pasta salad and I'll finish it off tomorrow.  I just went ahead and made the dressing for that chickpea salad anyway and mixed it with some cooked pasta, dried tomatoes and mozzarella.  It worked pretty well in my opinion although the garlic I used really was very strong.  Delicious nonetheless.

Happy you accomplished this week
Today I swept the floors and did all the washing up.  It might not seem like much but for the week that was in it, it really was.  I also managed to get some filing down in work that wasn't much but made a big mental difference.  Oh, and I finally managed to bring my old mobile phone in to the shop to get it unlocked - I bought a sim card when I was in Ireland so that I could send it to my niece, who will be au-pairing there in June.  It'll be a rush to get it to her on time now because I kept forgetting to look for that old phone and then it didn't work but at least it's working now.

Looking forward to next week
It's a bank holiday tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to having another day off work.  Otherwise I'm looking forward to nothing other than having nothing but choir practice to get to on Wednesday evening - I need some evenings free before heading into a few weeks of being very busy.

Thankful for today
That the pain in my shoulder and neck has let up.  I really didn't like the woozy feeling from the pain drops the doctor gave me so I'm glad it isn't bad enough for me to have felt the need to take them.

Bonus question: do you like your name?  Would you change it if you could?
Never thought much about whether I liked it or not, which I suppose at least means that I don't hate it.  At this stage I'm old enough to have gotten pretty fond of it, I suppose.  Don't think I've ever wanted to change it either although the internet would have taken care of any leanings I had in that direction anyway.  Apart from the couple of made-up usernames I use in various places, there are a few more serious websites where I use an ordinary name, but not mine.

If you fancy joining in with Sunday night chit-chat, post away and then head over to Half-Dozen Daily to link up.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

It must've been a given

Short post just to vent about how very annoying it is becoming to find very obvious, very silly and very well-known grammar mistakes.  I'm not even sure these can be correctly called grammar mistakes but I find it astonishing how often they occur.  Now, I will admit to finding spelling and grammar errors irritating and the prevalence of them on discussion forums and blogs somewhat distressing to be perfectly honest.  However, I also recognise that not everyone cares about that and that what they have to say can be interesting and informative regardless.  So although I prefer to read things that aren't littered with mistakes, I don't dismiss something just because it may be (txtspk is a whole other thing - that's far too annoying to slog through reading in my opinion).  I really do try to keep that aspect of my uptightedness under control.

I'm no grammar expert and can only remember one or two English classes at around age 13 in which we covered some of the basics like what a verb is and what an adjective is.  I do remember being taught the difference between "being" and "been" at some stage, for example.  I still manage to do fairly well at some of the online grammar tests I've seen but I'm definitely not perfect so don't ask me what a dangling participle is.  For the brief period I taught English as a second language I had to spend half-an-hour before each class going through a grammar book to make sure I had enough answers to cover what was going to happen in class.  And although I type well I'm still likely to find many typos when I read back through old posts.  I rarely read back through my posts or do any editing before posting and that's just all part of the way I like to blog.

Okay, this short post is getting long now but that's just how annoying I find this topic.  Bear with me (no, don't bare with me, that's something I only usually do with lovers or when I'm at the sauna) on this.  What has gotten my goat particularly in the past week is not the prevalence of silly mistakes on discussion forums and blogs written by people, like me, who are not professional writers or linguists or anything like that.  It's the same silly mistakes being made by professionals.  And I mean the type of mistakes that just make no sense at all.  Simple lack of knowledge of the English language.

For example, a line that I read in the Irish Times last week (it has since been corrected, it annoyed me so much on the day I actually wrote an email to them and I reckon I probably wasn't the only one): "Giving a choice, most stylish people choose... ..." - it's "given", people.  And saying "giving a choice" in that sentence just makes no sense whatsoever.  But it's not only journalists who are making this mistake.  I've now heard it distinctly on film on two separate occasions.  The first was when I was watching a DVD earlier this year of Life as we Know it, when Josh Duhamel's character is trying to convince the elderly father (grandfather?) of one of his recently deceased friends to take charge of the baby.  I actually rewound that part of the DVD twice because I just couldn't believe my ears.  And then today, watching episode 13 of The Americans, about 24 minutes in, the head FBI agent does the same thing, "I think it's safe to assume that giving the level of security, they'll come... ...".  Whatever about one person making the mistake when writing, do none of the actors, crew or editing staff notice this stuff at all?

The other one is even more well-known, I suppose: replacing the "'ve" abbreviation of "have" with "of".  It's perhaps an easier one to make, they really do sound so alike when speaking.  But do people really not think about or understand what they're saying?  So instead of "would've, could've" people write (and say!) "would of, could of" and it just makes no sense whatsoever.  I read The Silver Linings Playbook today.  I'd heard it was a great film, thought the trailer looked and when I was in Ireland the book was on special offer in the airport so I bought a copy (if there's a book I like to try and read it before seeing the film).  I loved this book and it's an easy read so it only took a few hours to get through it.  But there, on page 92 (yes, I am sad enough to have just skimmed through it again to find the exact place), we have the following line of dialogue, "I must of fallen asleep, and ..."   MAKES.NO.SENSE!  And whatever about an online newspaper article having mistakes in it, given that the turnaround time is probably fairly fast for getting things written, edited and published, there is just no excuse for a book to have that kind of error in it.  How many people are involved in getting a book published?  How many writers probably get friends and family to read their debut novels before sending them off to publishers?  What about the editors, the typesetters, the printers, etc., etc., etc.?  Did not one of them notice this stupid error?

Anyway, I intended this to be a very short post just outlining these places where I have noticed these mistakes recently and it has turned into more of a rant that I meant it to.  I know I'm not the only one to notice things like this though so if you've come across any other instances where you've found this kind of error in professional writing, feel free to leave a comment below to let off steam about it.


Sunday, May 05, 2013

Sunday night chit-chat

Absolutely lacking inspiration to find a photo or quote or anything to start this off with so I'm just going to get straight into the chit-chat.

What are you:
Still need to finish the last bit of Atonement and then Strumpet City is next up.

Have been watching a few episodes of Blue Bloods.  It gets a bit hit you over the head with a hammer moralistic sometimes but I like to watch police dramas from time to time.

Listening to
I'm planning on switching off the computer shortly and putting on some classical music.  Maybe even just my practice CD for the Bach motet we're doing in our next concert.

Not cooking or baking but I will be eating some lovely fresh yoghurt spelt bread with a few dried tomatoes and some mozzarella.  Or maybe just a toasted cheese sandwich.

Happy you accomplished this week
I'm making inroads into getting back on top of the housekeeping and did all the ironing today.  Brought another piece of the day-bed and some empty boxes down to the cellar.  Finally finished unpacking the suitcase and bag I used when I went to Ireland (I've been back for two weeks!).  And I made progress in finding out about the right courses to do to take the translator's exam I want to do next year.  Oh, and myself and a friend were able to firm up some plans to go to the opera in June.  It's always nice when something you mention almost in passing months and months ago becomes actual plans.

Looking forward to next week
My boss is on holidays for a week and the colleague I've been covering for the last couple of weeks will be back.  I will be doing my very best to not need to do any overtime this week at all, helped along by having made an appointment at the chiropodist on Tuesday evening and needing to get to choir early on Wednesday.  And there's a bank holiday on Thursday, too.  We have three bank holidays in May and although I'll spend the rest of the summer wishing they were more spread out when it's time to enjoy them, it really is nice to have so many all together.  And next Saturday I'm going to a motorbike show to see if I can find the bike that was built by a fellow-blogger's hubby.  That'll be something different to do.

Thankful for today
That the weather is getting warm enough that it only takes a few hours for clothes to dry, which means I can get clothes washed and have them dried, maybe even ironed, and put away in a weekend.  Such a nice start to the week when the clothes horse and ironing board aren't still standing in the sitting room.

Bonus question: what are the "Top 3" things on your to-do list for next week?
I try not to sabotage myself too often with to-do lists.  I have a very long list in work and amn't really at the stage where it's helpful for me to make a list at home, too.  The amount I have to do just overwhelms me a bit and a list adds to the pressure sometimes.  But if I had to say something then for this week I'd go with:

  1. Hoovering and washing the floors (have to put this one on there because I actually got up a bit earlier this morning and hoovered before going to work).  Will wash this evening.
  2. Get my tax returns done - stupid to keep leaving this one as I need this money to pay off debt!
  3. Post my sister's birthday present to her as well as a little something to my niece that will be useful to her when she goes au-pairing next month.

If you fancy joining in with the Sunday Night Chit-Chat, just post away and then head over to Half-Dozen Daily to link up.

Friday, May 03, 2013


A few photos for no reason in particular from last week

A bit blurry (I was trying out the nighttime function of my camera) but this is one of the last remaining supports for a short traffic bridge in the middle of town that is being demolished
Sitting looking up through the bare branches of a tree at a lovely blue sky

Same tree but zoomed in a bit to see the green - in a few weeks these trees will be providing probably much-needed shade.  They line long portions of the promenade along the river and are ruthlessly cut back every autumn.  Does anyone know what kind of tree this is?  I'm always forgetting to ask someone who might actually know.

The TV tower through the trees

And the same again.  I was absolutely fascinated by the clouds on Sunday, they were just beautiful.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

What a day

Very long, very busy day in work.  At least it was productive.  However, it also left me feeling so tired that when I was in the supermarket I mistakenly thought I had the energy to step over the basket that was blocking the small aisle in front of the till (rather than at the side of the till, where it should have been).  But it seems like my leg didn't want to be lifted up even that high and I ended up stepping down just the wrong side of the edge of the basket, which was resting in one of those wheeled stands and it, and I, went flying across the floor.  Definitely not my most elegant few seconds.  I'd say I'm going to have two lovely big bruises on my shins tomorrow but hopefully I won't be too sore to walk.  I don't think I have any arnica on hand but I'm sure I have witch hazel so I'll go and search that out in a minute.  Have had my legs up for the 45 minutes or so since I got home and only remembered that I had witch hazel now.  Typically, I had been planning to grab a bottle of milk before actually going to pay (the milk is right beside the tills) and all the fuss with falling made me forget it so now I can't even have a cup of tea.  Sigh.

I had set myself a goal for April of finding out about what exactly would be involved in doing a particular translator's exam.  The one I want to do is run by the IHK (the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce) and it's fairly difficult since you have to translate not only into your native language but also into your second language.  In terms of practical use when working as a translator there are apparently better courses and exams to do but the advantage of this one is that if I pass it I can, as far as I have been able to find out, automatically become an official state translator.  That means I'd have a stamp and seal and would be allowed to translate official documents such as birth and wedding certificates.  If my plans work out to move jobs in the next couple of years I will need a reliable source of side-income so this would be very useful for me.  

I did look up as much as I could during the first week of April never seemed to get around to being able to contact the community college to find out more specifics on the course. Luckily I remembered on Monday evening (still April!) so I made sure to make some phone calls on Tuesday and managed to get passed from pillar to post until I got the name and email address of the correct people to talk to. I got a phonecall back from the woman in charge of German courses on Tuesday evening and this morning a lovely email from the guy in charge of the actual translator prep course. So, I have a test translation from him to do and the course he has recommended for me starts in September. I have to contact them about the German courses when registration opens at the end of the month. And I'll have to wait to hear back from the chamber of commerce about whether the certificates I have will be enough to allow me to sit the exam or if I'll have to sit a test first because that woman in on holidays. It should be okay as the last certificate I did was C1 level but it's so old (1998! agghh, feels like last year!), I have to check. So Tuesday was a bit of a whirlwind but it feels good to have set things in motion. I happened to be able to mention it to my boss as well, which will be useful next year when I need to get time off for the exams.  

Between tiredness and sore legs I haven't actually looked at the test translation this evening.  I want to do it under 'real' conditions though so I'll do it writing by hand and time myself.  He said that this is a sample of what an exam looks like and would be something that should take no more than an hour - but you're allowed to use a standard dictionary.  Mad stuff.  I don't remember ever being allowed to use a dictionary in an exam before.  It's just two paragraphs so it will be interesting to see how I get on.  He paid me a very nice compliment on the written German in my email - even though I know I'm fluent, it's always nice to hear something like that from someone whose job it is to evaluate people's abilities.  

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Zero waste

I've made great progress over the last few years in ditching the disposables and trying to reduce the amount of waste I produce.  And I was doing pretty well in only producing a small bag of rubbish every two or three weeks.  Unfortunately, living in an apartment now I have no possibility of setting up a composter anywhere (no garden, no balcony and don't even know anyone who I've been able to persuade to set one up in their garden), which means that I now have a full small bin full of rubbish every week and sometimes twice or three times a week during the height of canning season.  Funnily enough, I've found that the habits I've built up over the last few years are more difficult to break than the habits they were replacing, which I'd had for much longer.  So even after more than four years it still bothers me every single time I throw something in the bin that I know could be perfectly well added to a compost heap.  I've considered trying to get a small wormery going in the kitchen but I don't really have space for it and there is a clause in my rental contract that states that I am responsible for ensuring there are no infestations of insects or bugs.  I've already managed to acquire moths (of the clothes eating variety) and somehow it seems to me that bringing a whole lot of worms into the building might not go down too well.

Germany was probably one of the first countries to introduce rubbish separation and recycling so we have three bins available to us in our building.  One for paper and carton, one for plastic packaging and one for general waste.  I'm also lucky enough to live just across the road from some glass bottle banks, for those bottles that don't have a deposit to be claimed once you return them to the shop.  Once I've separated out all the stuff for those bins I don't have much left to get rid of except for veg peels etc.  Switching from disposables has certainly made shopping a lot easier, too.  No need to remember to buy sponges or dishmops every couple of months, I just use my own knitted cloths.  No need to remember to buy serviettes, I have cloth ones that I bought nearly fifteen years ago that are still going strong.  No need to remember to buy kitchen roll, I have lots of rags and cloths to soak up any spill.  No need to remember to buy toilet roll except once a year or so, I have an old towel cut up into squares that work so much better than paper.  No need to remember to buy sanitary towels, I have my mooncup and washable pads.  And no need to pay for any of those things anymore makes it all even better.

I don't think I'll ever get to the stage of producing zero waste but it's still a goal worth aiming for I think.  Top of my list for the next place I move to, though, is enough outside space to have a small composter or wormery on the go.  Until then, this post marks the end of the April A to Z challenge.  It's been interesting but I'm not really sorry that it's over.  I may take a few days rest from blogging now.  Or I may be back tomorrow already, since it's a bank holiday here and all.  Can't believe it's May already, time is really flying by.  A sign that I'm getting older, apparently.  I like to tell myself that that's balanced out by my getting more childish, though.  You take what comfort you can get, I suppose. :-)