Monday, November 28, 2011

Why I Celebrate Thanksgiving

 Albino pumpkin

I warn you, I've gone mental. Mental for PUMPKINS. I've had a Thanksgiving pumpkin-filled weekend. It's been amazing.

Mantle Pumpkin 

I've been celebrating Thanksgiving for a while. It all started at uni when I used to live with an American and she made us all do a Thanksgiving dinner and it was a whole heap of fun. And then I went to actual America, and had ACTUAL Thanksgiving, and I was sold. I mean, a four day weekend where you literally do nothing but eat yummy food? I'll repeat that: Four days. Nothing. Yummy. EAT.

Sign me up.

Pie of Pumpkin 

And so I came to wholeheartedly embrace this quintessentially American holiday to my bosom. I have henceforth always taken that Thursday and Friday off of work and plan to continue doing so. But this year was the first year I decided that I would cook a proper authentic Thanky G feast all by myself like a GROWNUP.

Half-Eaten Pumpkin 

On the menu was a turkey, cranberry and cornbread stuffing, sweet potato with marshmallow topping, maple roasted parsnips, green bean casserole all covered in lovely turkey gravy and finished off with a pumpkin pie. I don't think there was anything on that table that didn't come into contact at some point with either maple syrup or cinnamon or both. Yum.

And I'm really impressed with my friends that they didn't run scared by some of the above (yes, that was sweet potato with MARSHMALLOW - which exploded everywhere but that's another story!), they all gave it a go. It was DEE-licious.

Munchkin Pumpkins

And it was lovely to share the feast with good friends, good wine and a good stretchy pair of pants. 

Oh yes, the pre-Christmas diet started again today. I'm already having syrup withdrawal symptoms. Hold me.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Boom Boom Boom. Even Brighter Than The Moon Moon Moon

Baby you're a firework

I love love love firework night! The bonfires, the wrapping up warm, the hot dogs, the drinking, and the fireworks. Ooh sparklers too, I almost forgot those guys.

Neon pink rain 

I find it really weird that fireworks can provoke such emotion in some people, myself included. When you see a really impressive firework display, it's such a spectacle and so dramatic. Usually a crowd of people is involved and the fireworks are there to mark an occasion so you're all there having this shared experience and it's just bloody lovely. I mean, when they let off a couple of rockets at the end of the Milton Keynes Foo Fighters gig in July I lost my shit and actually started blubbing all over my best friend. Possibly a few randoms too. Which now just seems stupid. But THAT is the power of the humble firework.

Burning leaves

But bonfire night marks the point in the year at which all things autumn are in full swing. The bonfire makes the russet and golden leaves on the trees glow so they too seem aflame. The smell of hot dogs and mulled wine is in the air, and you're all bundled up in your warmest scarves and coats, waving your sparklers (or in my case, spinny glowstick thingy) in the air like you just don't care. And the fireworks are the exclamation point to the whole evening. 

All of the lights all of the lights 

I think it's such a shame that so many of the firework displays in London haven't gone ahead this year because the council's can't afford it. Ally Pally and Clapham were cancelled. I love that we have this event in the British calender so I really hope this is just a sign of the economic times and not of the tradition dying out. I mean the American's have the fourth of July, the French have Bastille day, so this is our thing!! We need to keep it alive! With that in mind, I made my way to the other side of town to Battersea Park and I'm really glad I did, the fireworks were epic. I mean, it was super busy, and there were crazy queues for food, but I managed to snarf some hot dogs JUST before the fireworks started. Boom!

Spinner love 

Whilst the fireworks were really impressive, I thought the bonfire was a bit of a let down but then maybe that's because I seem to compare every bonfire to the EPIC BALL OF FLAME I experienced in Ottery St Mary many moons ago. That was like a 20ft beast of a fire that burnt for days, so I guess it's not really fair to have that as the yardstick. Everything's going to fall short.

 Purple rain

I hope there's more displays to choose from next year. I don't want to live in a world where we've forgotten our god-given right to, once a year, burn our (non-toxic) rubbish and let off some highly dangerous chemical explosions in the sky in an ORGANISED MANNER!! This is our tradition! Long may it reign.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Crazy Stupid Pumpkin Love

Pumpkinny wumpkinny 

Oops. It's been a while since I've written anything here. I guess I haven't been doing anything that noteworthy. Although to be honest if I have to really fully analyse the situation, I could probably chalk up at least a whole two weeks being lost to scouring the internet for photos of Ryan Gosling. If you are that way inclined, may I recommend this website.

I've been to see him in Drive (the soundtrack literally won't leave my ears) and Crazy Stupid Love this month and might be a LITTLE BIT obsessed. Honestly, I have no idea where the time goes. I could literally stare at him for hours. Excellent example of the perfect man. Well done to everybody involved. If I ever met him in the street I think the only appropriate reaction would be to give him a standing ovation. The Ides of March is the next Gosling cinematic offering and I'm already rubbing my legs in anticipation.  And don't even try and pretend you aren't too.

Next of (pump)kin

So ANYWAY. Enough of my lusting after Hollywood celebrities. What a contrast between my last post and this! Last time I was reporting from the front line of the unexpected but fully welcomed and fondly remembered late summer 2011 heatwave (RIP)... and now here we are, clocks gone back and dark evenings closing in, wrapped up warm, central heating on, surrounded by pumpkins and fake blood.

It's no secret, I love Hallowe'en. This was a love that was spurred on all the more from my experience of a full-on American 'We'en during my time in New York. I'm not sure Britain will ever quite reach those heady heights but it doesn't stop me trying year after year!

I have actually purchased a further four pumpkins of varying sizes. True story.

The past five years or so have been spent constructing elaborate costumes and getting very very (very) drunk. This year I've decided to take it easy, by purchasing a whole armful of pumpkins and getting my carve on in front of the umpteenth showing of Ghostbusters. Which to be honest, is probably more fun and with less hangover.

Altogether now: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... MASS HYSTERIA!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Last Days of Summer

Bee-ay-yoo-tiful beach 

But, Mr Weatherman, what have I done to deserve this? An extra week of summer. On my week off. On my week off BY THE SEA. Noone could have planned it better. I think it was the universe's way of making up for my lack of summer holiday this year.

I've spent this week back in Bournemouth with the rental units. And it's been a week of brunch, cinema, dinners, baking, beach and generally lazing around doing very little. I've been uber busy at work over the summer so I really needed this. I'm not really looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, but I think I'll be feeling more refreshed for sure. Which will last approx half an hour, before I'm working out how long til I can next take time off. I swear, someone needs to just pay me for hanging around chatting. I mean, I'm really good at that, you'd get your moneys worth.

 Beach Bird Stalking

I've spent the last couple of days at the beach. It's been the most weird thing to be lying on the beach, surrounded by people in their bikinis in October. OCTOBER! I mean, in mere weeks we'll all be carving pumpkins! Normally, I'm not a fan of unseasonal weather, but I guess I need to add a caveate to that. I'm not a fan, unless the weather is unseasonably WARM. Anything that increases the amount of time I can spend on a beach gets the thumbs up from me.

Cake and lashings of ginger beer 

I took the opportunity of a bit of time on my hands to treat the fam to my baking skillz. I chose the Apple Crumble Hummingbird Cupcakes to have a go at for two reasons. One, autumn = apples. And two, this recipe is EPIC. You have to stew the apples for the apple cake filling, then make up the cake batter as standard, then bake the cakes, then make custard FROM SCRATCH, then leave it to cool, THEN bake crumble for the topping, THEN whip cream to mix with your cooled custard and THHHEEENNN assemble all your toppings. I mean it took all day, I couldn't do this on a normal weekend.

Crumbly in my tumbly

Some people wouldn't have the patience for all the different stages, but I kind of like the luxury of spending all day creating something a bit spesh. Plus, I've never made custard properly before - it's actually surprisingly easy.

The cakes turned out really yummy, the custardy topping was unusual but actually worked really well to give the apple crumble effect.


Indulging in one of these guys with a nice cool glass of ginger beer in the last summer sun of the year in the parental backyard was a real treat.

Now, when's my next holiday?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Run to the Beat of my Biscuits

Maritime Museum, Greenwich 

In case you didn't know.. 

This weekend I watched my best mates boyfriend, J-Man Jizzle* complete an amazing achievement - he ran the Nike Run to the Beat half marathon and we are all very very proud of him.

(*Not actual name. Name that I call him. Largely against his will)

He's training to run the London Marathon next year, and this race signifies the furthest he's ever ran so it's a huge deal.

Cheerleaders (although I think I was better AND I didn't have balloons!) 

Arms outstretched, J-Man at the 11 mile mark, only two to go! 

However, the day was not without its drama. The day was lovely and sunny, but we think the heat got to him because 150m before the end of the race, J started to slow and come to a stop. Even the encouraging screams from two old lady spectators couldn't help him. A random man (we're not sure whether it was a fellow competitor, a marshall or a member of the crowd) came to help him over the final finish line, before poor old J collapsed from heatstroke/exhaustion and had to be taken to the medical tent.

He is now fine, just needs to rest up and get lots of fluids, but it just goes to show what a huge effort it is to complete these things and how amazing it is that he crossed the line. I'm so impressed. Props. Massive props.

Greenwich Observatory, obvs

Love the smell of biscuits in the morning

Other than that dramz at the end of the race, the rest of the morning had been really fun. There's always a great atmosphere at these events - I'm a natural cheerleader of life in general, so I love that it's socially acceptable on such occasions to scream COME ON ALEXXXXX!!! in random stranger's faces. Not that I do that at any other time, OF COURSE.

I'd baked some Apple & Oatmeal cookies for our group to eat whilst we were waiting for J to appear at our vantage point at the foot of Greenwich Park, and they were just the ticket for a sunny autumnal mid-morning snack.


Of course I gave the majority of the cookies to J and his girlfriend (not that he could appreciate them at that point in his poorly state), but I kept a select few back for me. And they were just the ticket to soothe my aching hands (from clapping) and scratchy throat (from aforementioned stranger-face-screaming). I mean, really I worked JUST AS HARD. Right?!

No, I know: not right. I joke.

Well done J-Man Jizzle, Jam Master Jay. SO PROUD.