Tuesday, 30 November 2010

To Catch a Falling Star...

My gemstone arrived! A wee 1.25 carat carved from the Northwest Africa 4502 meteorite. Landed in Algeria, December 2005, this carbonaceous chondrite (CV3) is a remarkable example of it's kind and I'm delighted to have a tiny piece.

CV3type meteorites are rumoured to have been the beginnings of life on earth, as their organic composition could well have brought down the amino chains required to kick things off on our prehistoric planet.

Not only that, but how cool is it to have what is essentially a fallen star? After all, everyone has diamonds in jewellery - but how many people have cut meteorites with the history behind it?!

"NWA 4502 CV3 is a very rare type of meteorite, a Carbonaceous Chondrite, (CV3). It is shock level 1 and weathering level 1. This stuff is going up in price so fast that I can't even keep up with it. It has doubled in price a few times over the past 2 years." - Meteorite collector/seller. (Image: T. Bunch and J. Wittke, NAU, owned by A. Aaronson.)

Though I had to laugh when I found this particular quote: "I know that this meteorite will not be high on some people’s list since they need fusion crust and attractiveness in the shape of the individual; I like that too most of the time. But, sometimes the insides are so fresh or, like with 4502, the chondrules so abundant - I just ignore the outside ugliness and love the beauty within."

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Cookies with a Smile

I adore this time of year. I've just dug out the box with my tree in it (and His Lordship has dropped it), my big box of last year's baubles (to rescue some of the right bits, which He nearly dropped too) and my HUGE bag of wrapping paper.

I know I'm terrible when it comes to wrapping presents. Currently, I have THIRTY TWO rolls of giftwrap and I love it all. I have flock papers in sexy black velvet, glitter papers with delicate tendrils of golden sparkles, glossy thick paper with deep red roses, fine black paper with rainbow stars, silky purple with gaudy metallic baubles, traditional hollies on cream parchment-look, white with silver snowflakes...

This year I'm bringing back the pink and purple of last year, supplementing it with a matching metallic red. I also found some cream paper with pink metallic Victorian style patterns on - and a purple version to go with it!

In the meantime, grab a cocoa and a chuckle.

Friday, 26 November 2010

My Frog Prince

I've always called His Lordship "My Frog Prince". I suppose it originally came about because he makes a funny little croaking noise in the back of his throat from time to time, but it developed into a full blown habit, because he used to grumble that things weren't going well.

I'd kiss him on the nose, laugh and say "I keep kissing you, my lovely Frog Prince, in the hope that one day you'll turn into Prince Charming!" It still makes him laugh today. How odd that it's so fitting. Thank you honey.

The smallest frog in the world is less than a centimeter long and is gripping for all its worth to the tip of a pencil. When adult, they turn bright red with three usually greenish fluorescent stripes - but don't be fooled by the size of this baby ‘poison dart' frog, as its skin is 200 times more toxic than morphine! The frogs, among the most poisonous amphibians on the planet, are found only in the wild on the western slopes of the Andes in Ecuador, South America.

NEWS: The Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth, Hampshire has managed to breed dozens of these pretty (dangerous!) little frogs.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Time to be Worried?

I hopped up to nip to the bathroom, and spotted the bedroom light on - so I stuck my head through the door to switch it off - and discovered His Lordship with his trousers half off, a spatula in one hand, and a packet of tablets in the other. I raised my eyebrows. "It's not what it looks like. I haven't got that kinky yet." Apparently he was changing into house trousers before going to finish dinner... Still, I wish I'd got a picture.

Though that has reminded me - it's got SO cold now that my bed consists of mattress, insulator, lambswool topper, sheets, a poly duvet, a fleece blanket, a feather duvet and a woollen blanket.Oh, and He's buried somewhere in there.

Terry just fell off his leaf and grumbled "BOOP!" I swear, there was the same note and indignity in it as when you trip over a chair and go "Oh crap!" Stupid reptile. How can you fall off something when you actually BECOME part of it on a molecular level?! He's now sat in a corner quietly swearing at this crunchy new floor of dry autumn magnolia leaves I've put in; I can hear him going "Ff ff, Ff ff!" to himself.

Monday, 22 November 2010

So THAT'S Science

The progress that modern science makes has never ceased to amaze me. I look forwards to the future, purely to see what will happen next!

I mean, get this - they've managed to make DRY WATER. No really, they have! Dr Ben Carter, from the University of Liverpool, presented his research at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

He said: "There's nothing else quite like it. Hopefully, we may see dry water making waves in the future."

Mind you, you do have to worry sometimes about scientific progress - there was once a time when they thought tobacco was good for you and applied it in everything. However, if you think that's bad, you clearly didn't know about the radioactive era... Viewed as a new kind of energy and assumed to have healing powers, they made absolutely EVERYTHING with radium in. Even ice cream.

Sometimes I can't work out how the human race has advanced so far with people this stupid. This link HERE is enough to make you feel like you could take the Nobel prize for common sense!

Some inventions occasionally strike me as a bad idea, for example the IPhone range. Whilst I appreciate "Smart Phones", I'm not keen on some of the Apps and company restrictions they put on their software. Apple can lock you out of the phone you've paid for and, in your contract, you never truly own it: it remains property of the Apple company.

Here's a fabulous picture - a mum asked her son to pass her the phone, and on the short trip from table to sofa, he managed to key something by accident. Upon which Apple promptly locked her out of her phone - for over 39 years.

Some of the dodgier apps I've seen released are the stalker app "Recognizr", which allows you to find all kinds of information about a person from the internet by taking a photograph of them. Currently it's restricted to the people that have signed up, but how long until Facebook gets linked in? There's also the voice modifier app, allowing you to change your voice patterns in a phonecall. I can only imagine how much easier this is going to make a ransom call! Way to go! Apple also annoyed the people that build Flash software, meaning that a large portion of the internet is now unavailable to Iphone and Apple users. Google's version will be Flash friendly, and they designed this cute game to make a point of it: http://www.youtube.com/chromefastball

The "Kindle" is another weird one - we've all heard my Ipad rant - but this is even less useful! After all, I can read my book in any light conditions. My book never runs out of batteries. My book won't break if I drop it. I can read my book in the bath. Also, Kindle books currently cost more than actual books. Give yourself a treat - buy the real thing.

Mind you, Windows isn't all squeaky clean. Gotta love that shirt collar...

But if you want true proof of progress, check out Axis of Awesome's research into popular music success systems:

Quote of the Day: "Women. Can't live with 'em, can't successfully refute their hypotheses." - Howard Wolowitz, Big Bang Theory.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Show Your Spots

Your Donation Reference no is : 84898746HF8238634

Come make your donation - I did!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Blissful Butternut

Sorry for not getting back sooner, I've been a bit busy with my latest projects. Firstly we tried making Garth's famous Butternut Squash Soup, which is just fabulous, SO easy to make and very cheap too.

You need a fairish size squash, some old potatoes (about a half-kilo), an onion and a stock cube. Soft fry the onions, then soften the squash and potatoes in the same oily pan with said onions. Throw it all together with about a litre of water and stock and wait until the veg goes biteably soft. Once that's done, whiz it with a hand blender and serve!

It tastes like warm autumn sunshine, especially served up with home made salt and pepper croutons. I love croutons. No really, I utterly ADORE croutons. There's something wonderful about these crunchy cubes of deliciousness and they're just so simple too. Fried cubes of bread with seasonings, thrown into a fresh soup - world class cuisine! Anyway, the butternut soup got the better of me and I went to sleep.

So yes, we had the leftovers today which were even BETTER than the fresh batch (go figure) and in the meantime, I've mastered fingerspelling and all the countries of Africa! And whilst I'm brushing up my new skills, His Lordship is eating a French caramel creme thing. Or rather, chasing it with a spoon as it slides round his bowl. Yuck. It's kind of like creme brulee, if you mixed it with jelly and served it with a bitter burned syrupy water. He says it's like a not so thick blanc mange. Yes, well, I've always regarded foods with "mange" in the name with the greatest of wariness. Mange touts - why would you want to eat unripe peas? Leave them alone for a bit and have PROPER peas.

Hey, there's an idea. I'm going to make pea soup next week.

Monday, 15 November 2010


It's getting distinctly cold. I know, because our bedroom was 14C all night. So yes, the boiler is still broken, and after all that fuss about getting multiple quotes, British Gas is STILL the cheapest.

I'm just concerned that, because it was left for three weeks waiting to get other quotes (which turned out pricier anyway), we're going to be stuck at the end of the waiting list as everyone's upgrading now the ice is hitting. Leaving it a few weeks kind of takes the edge off when you tell them it's "urgent"...

We're spending the evenings in the big upstairs room where the lizard tanks and the electronics boost the temps, but I've given up tidying the house as it's just too damn chilly! Even Tsam's being aloof with me: "No, I'm being snooty. Snoot snoot snoot with my eyes closed." ... "Hey, wait... Is that a raspberry?!"
He's such a sucker for red berries.

Thankfully we've got plenty of duvets and clothes, plus many, many dressing gowns. After all, Mum and I used to live in an old, draughty, leaky Victorian building with no heating other than the oven when I was small. I do miss my hot bricks though.

So no, the temperature isn't unbearable yet - until you sit on the loo! EEK!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Oh No - Christmas is Coming!

I love Christmas shopping. I know, I know, it's all crass commercialism and profiteering, but I adore the art of choosing gifts, stacking up my pretty purchases and just looking at all the nice things. Today I bought some lush glittery baubles for my sparkly gold tree - that's also great fun because they're all spangly and exciting and there's so much choice.

You see, by starting early, I get to pick all the best things; I certainly couldn't leave everything to last minute - imagine fighting through shops with all those eejits that don't bother with anything until the last week. Worse yet are the ones that just get alcohol or chocolate. That's SO boring and there's no thought goes into it. I keep a box of chocolate as an "emergency gift" for someone I've forgotten, but that's it, or maybe as stocking fillers - I love to do stockings, it's always so fun to find all the little things. Mum put a wonderful little Edward Monkton bag in mine last year and I use it nearly every day! (Thank you very much - it's very handy; I carried my baubles home in it!)

Mind you, talking of chocolate, I had a nice chat with the lady in our local Thorntons today. She was grateful for the feedback on the Vodka and Limes (AKA the washing up chocolates, ICK.) and mentioned there had, as I suspected, indeed been a few complaints about the changing of the singles bars. They've gone from a 90g straight bar, to a 50something block - and they just don't seem as satisfying. Yes, the width of them gives them a misleading look of being bigger, but there's only half the chocolate. Great for the idiots doing rush shopping for just chocolate, but pants for someone who really APPRECIATES a good sweetie.

However, I did stop and grab another of the new treats on the servery, a walnut truffle. This has a simple Forastero milk chocolate shell, with a fragment of soft, delicious walnut in, dropped on top of a simple ganache-y base. It reminds me a lot of the ganache centres to be found in the old Origins collections.

I also picked up some more salted caramels to nom on with Himself. I like its weight and density when you pick it up - that heavy, subtle slosh inside that thick dark chocolate shell makes me think of magic eight balls. The almost metallic flavour of the liquid inside makes for a delicious contrast on the bittersweet coating... Mmmmmmm.

Oh yes, and I ordered some new glasses from Specsavers, some for work and some for nice. I'm even more short sighted. Woop.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Anger Management - a story from a friend.

When you occasionally have a really bad day, and you just need to take it out on someone, don't take it out on someone you know; take it out on someone you don't know but you know deserves it.

I was sitting at my desk when I remembered a phone call I'd forgotten to make - I found the number and dialed it and a man answered, saying, 'Hello.' I politely said, 'This is Chris. Could I please speak with Robyn Carter?'

Suddenly a manic voice yelled out in my ear 'Get the right f***ing number!' And the phone was slammed down on me. I couldn't believe that anyone could be so rude.

When I tracked down Robyn's correct number to call her, I found that I had accidentally transposed the last two digits. After hanging up with her, I decided to call the 'wrong' number again. When the same guy answered the phone, I yelled, 'You're an ass!' And hung up.

I wrote his number down with the word 'ass' next to it, and put it in my desk drawer. Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills or had a really bad day, I'd call him up and yell, 'You're an ass!' It always cheered me up.

When Caller ID was introduced, I thought my therapeutic 'ass' calling would have to stop. So, I called his number and said, 'Hi, this is John Smith from the telephone company. I'm calling to see if you're familiar with our Caller ID Program?' He yelled, 'NO!' And slammed down the phone. I quickly called him back and said, 'That's because you're an ass!' And hung up.

One day I was at the store, getting ready to pull into a parking spot when some guy in a black BMW cut me off and pulled into the spot I had patiently waited for. I hit the horn and yelled that I'd been waiting for that spot, but the idiot ignored me. I noticed a 'For Sale ' sign in his back window, so I wrote down his number and couple of days later, right after calling the first ass (I had his number on speed dial) I thought that I'd better call the BMW ass, too.

I said, 'Is this the man with the black BMW for sale?' He said, 'Yes, it is.' I then asked, 'Can you tell me where I can see it?' He said, 'Yes, I live at 34 Oak Tree Blvd., in Fairfax. It's a yellow ranch style house and the car's parked right out in front.' I asked, 'What's your name?'and he said, 'My name is Don Hansen.' I asked, 'When's a good time to catch you, Don?' He said, 'I'm home every evening after five.' I said, 'Listen, Don, can I tell you something?' He said, 'Yes?' ... 'Don, you're an ass!' Then I hung up, and added his number to my speed dial, too.

Now, when I had a problem, I had two asses to call.

Then I came up with an idea... I called ass #1. 'Hello' I said, 'You're an ass!' (But I didn't hang up.) 'Are you still there?' He said. 'Yeah!' 'Stop calling me!'He screamed, I grinned. 'Make me.' He asked, 'Who are you?' I said, 'My name is Don Hansen.' He said, 'Yeah? Where do you live?' I said, 'Ass, I live at 34 Oak Tree Blvd., in Fairfax , a yellow ranch style home and I have a black Beamer parked in front.' He said, 'I'm coming over right now, Don. And you had better start saying your prayers.' I said, 'Yeah, like I'm really scared, ass,' and hung up.

Then I called ass #2. He said, 'Hello?' I said, 'Hello, ass,' He yelled, 'If I ever find out who you are...''You'll what?' I said. He exclaimed, 'I'll kick your ass' I answered, 'Well, ass, here's your chance. I'm coming over right now.'

Then I hung up and immediately called the police, saying that I was on my way over to 34 Oak Tree Blvd, in Fairfax, to kill my gay lover.

Then I called Channel 7 News about the gang war going down in Oak Tree Blvd in Fairfax.

I quickly got into my car and headed over to Fairfax and got there just in time to watch two asses beating the crud out of each other in front of six cop cars, an overhead news helicopter and surrounded by a news crew.

NOW I feel much better. Anger management really does work.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Testing Thorntons...

I'm a bit disappointed, Thorntons servery chocolates are no longer served by weight, but are labelled up as 35p each.

They do have another range out for Christmas, so I picked up a few to see how they've turned out. I started off with a Catalana, simply because it's one of my favourites. All creamy, smooth, chocolatey and buttery with those sensational honeycomb pieces in the shell, who could resist?! I also picked up a salted cara
mel ball, as it's won a very sturdy place in my heart with it's liquidy, satisfying centre.

One of the new ones is a vodka lime, in a spackled, mixed chocolate shell shaped like a cacao pod. It smells like bitter limeskins on the outside. Having bitten and melted the shell, it tastes like a weak, cheap chocolate lime. Not an auspicious start, but we'll see. A larger munch on the shell remains pretty much the same, whilst the supremely smooth centre tastes an awful lot like washing up liquid. Wow, that's NOT good. Who the heck thought this was a good flavour and how DID it get past quality? Consuming the rest in one go - quantity over quality - doesn't help either. It retains a distinct bitter citrus cleaning fluid flavour. Icky. Thank goodness I had a block of powerful 70% dark with sour dried cherries; they banished the flavour perfectly. Pretty, but not nice and certainly doesn't deserve a picture!

Bit of a pinball start there, great to awful, so let's hope the bumper flicks it back the other way with the special toffee something or other with a very long name. I have had special toffee limited edition truffles in previous collections, so I wonder if it's a recycled recipe or a new one... His Lordship thinks it smells like a fresh peice of pinewood, but softer, not such a harsh smell. Not quite sure where he got that from.

The orange crunch comes in a foil wrapper so it doesn't affect the other chocolates on the servery, brighter and lighter orange than the Seville (pictured), and the scent is brighter and lighter too. More orange blossom than orange skins, I'm pleased with the smell. Little difficult to bite into, as the shell is very smooth surfaced and the centre VERY firm. I hate to say it, but it's just a round Seville. No bad thing, but they ought not pass it off as a new Limited Edition. Still, it's very tasty with it's firm bite and delightful crispy crunch embedded in the rich chocolatey orange tastiness.

It has a rich, creamy, clean smell.. The skin is similar to the Catalana, with crunchy toffee flavour specks, but I do like the cheeky coat of dark chocolate inside. Yes, the shell is very good with a burnt sugar and sweet cream finishing note to it. The centre is firm, bordering on fudgelike, but very fine and very sweet with a good, thick flavour of caramel to it. I'm beginning to wonder if the flavour of the centre spread into the chocolate. It's not overpowering, more caramel than burnt sugar, exactly what I expected from this one and a little different to the original versions. Kudos. I like the dark chocolate aftertaste from the shell too.

Though I love Salted Caramel Balls. If anyone is stuck for something to get me as a gift any time, a nice bag of these would do just grand. I really am somewhat partial to these savoury, popping delights. The fine dusting of raw cocoa powder is a treat in itself - a light coating of soft bitter to ease you into the sweeter, exciting, thick chocolate shell. There's no biting tentatively into these bad-boys. I tried that the first time, not realising it's a liquid centre and got it all down me. It's a whole-mouther, allowed to slowly melt. A challenge in itself to swallow without damaging the dissolving shell, drinking the dark chocolate runoff from the liquidizing shell. Slurpy. Ooooh, there it goes! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm........

Monday, 8 November 2010

Another Article Again!

Congratulations! Your entry (Neoseki - Simply Suiseki) has been selected to appear in a future issue of the Neopian Times. A shiny trophy has been added to your user lookup. Thank you for contributing to the Neopian Times!

I know it's complete twaddle, but I LIKE writing complete twaddle, and apparently people like reading it! Though my favourite worst-author has to be Lord Timothy Dexter, Massachusetts 1748. Having little to no education, he became an author, publishing his book with no punctuation and horrible spelling. It immediately became popular and went to the eighth edition printing. His second book included an extra thirteen pages of punctuation with a note saying, “place it as you please.” (Thanks to Listverse)

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Facing up to Fashion

So I'm 6 foot tall. I'm 14 stone, a sturdy 16, undyed brunette (though occasionally with flashes of red or purple added) living with my partner in our own house for three years. I'm happy. But according to the TV and media in general - I'm not beautiful. (Pic is NOT me. Read on.)

So, I want to know, why I should have to wear makeup just to "conform to standards"?

I've tried it. I find that muddy foundation isn't "essential" and sticky, slimy lipgloss certainly isn't a "must have" in my books. I tried eyelash extensions once, finding them fiddly and unmanagable - completely impractical for specs too. It made me think of a moth stuck in a glass lampshade. False nails are similarly impractical - they don't mix well with reptiles or any kind of manual work. So I've kept clear of these things that ruin my skin condition and, funnily enough, it hasn't killed me off yet. I mean, really? People think THIS looks GOOD?! (Thanks EpicLosers)

As to being unfashionably brown haired, going blonde looks awful on me; having pale skin and "the wrong shape face" (round, even when I'm not particularly chubby), it makes me look like I've been put on too high a heat wash and all my colour's run out.

I'm six foot tall dammit, when I finally get a weekend off I don't want to be rushing around makeup shops in high heels or going to the gym to sweat my ass off. I want to have a rest at last and get caught up on the ironing! After all, I already dwarf 70% of men and stand to intimidate them in 4" heels and, as a bigger girl, I look ridiculous in miniskirts. It's just not a good look.

Is it me, or have I not received the women's guide book? After all, what the hell is a Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Pro-Collagen Quartz Facial? I certainly missed that chapter...

Yet thanks to national media, I feel crap about myself. Why the hell should that be, and why should I spend a fortune to "come up to standard" or spend forever justifying myself?

On the other hand, if you've got any tips for an overworked, round faced, chestnut brunette with glasses, grey eyes, a fine chest and long legs, that DON'T involve spending a goddamn fortune or half killing myself - I'd love to know.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Laughin' at Lizards

Tsam's favourite thing is the "yeah, I'm cool" headbob. He scales the almighty sofa... pause... waits for the crowd to acknowledge his success and YEAH. "Bob bob bob - I ROCK."

It's a smug, self satisfied three bobs. You take him out of his tank, let him on the floor - and it's a great acheivement. I tell ya, he must have been Julius Caesar in another life or something. Took a crap... pause... check you're watching... YEAH. *grin and bob bob bob*

He's very sweet, but a bit stupid, especially when he's bobbing as you're trying to hug him, or pick him up, or put his leash on. Bit inconvenient trying to get the loops over a dragon whom is happily nodding away to himself.

More often than not, he goes "STAMP BOB BOB BOB bobbobbobob!" and Kyle goes "Coy bow, tip a wink, nod and WAVE." She's such a hussy too. She does this cute, over the shoulder peep and a looooowwww bow, with a cheeky hoik of the hips. Then she gets knacked off with him, and the end of her tail twitches. It's like a motor being wound - twitch twitch flick flickflick swipe ZOOOOOMMLUNATICLIZARD!!!!

Mind you, you have to watch the bugger, or he'll poop on my clean washing! Last time, I threw all the remaining clean socks at him one by one until he finally gathered enough brains, ran away and hid under his tunnel. Wooly ones make a wonderful "PLAF!" when they smack a thick headed dragon round the back of his skull...

Terry's learned a new move. "Strafe jump". It's the ultimate in stealth move. He looks like he's going to jump forwards but he actually manages to warp SIDEWAYS... Most disconcerting. It makes it very difficult to catch him too - I've nearly dropped him twice because he's "practising".

I've also caught him singing quietly to himself recently too. This is a movie clip of the fabulous Fabio singing himself silly, as Terry is far too quiet to pick up on audio devices yet - but the singing is very similar. Fabio is a flamboyant gecko, with a powerful little voice. His Lordship finally heard Terry today - but only when Terry told him off for trying to wake him up!