Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lovesong by Nikki Gemmell

Lovesong Nikki GemmellI finished Lovesong by Nikki Gemmell yesterday. I bought the book for .40p as a withdrawn from stock at my library. It was published in 2002, but from looking at the book it didn't get taken out much and is probably why it was withdrawn. It's not exactly the most exciting cover, I have to say, with it's olive and manila colours. But like I said it was 40 pence.

It's a weird book because it's the private letter to the heroine's unborn baby about her life and how this baby came into being. The story is autobiographical, but then told in third person. Lillie often refers to herself as "That Lillie is now doing this" and so on. It's weird and took a bit of getting used to.

Lillie was raised in a very reclusive mountain town where they don't like strangers. Religion reigns. Toe the line or be scorned. Lillie hates it, even as a child. One day the school is set fire to and Lillie confesses it was she who did it. Her punishment is a total ban from society and to be locked within her home until she turns 21, which suits her fine. Unfortunately, when 21 comes, Lillie finds she still isn't welcome into the community. She isn't free.

She's given a chance to go and stay with her Grandfather in England, Pretty much for her own good because everyone fears she'll go stir crazy or - God forbid - set fire to something in anger as the worry of her pyromania being reignited is always there under the surface of everyone's worry.

She is set free, sort of. She enjoys a new land and a sense of freedom she's not had since she was shut away at the age of thirteen. Romance blooms in her mind and body and grows wild in the fertility of her innocence and naivety. Something we expect in a sweet sixteen, but not so much at twenty-two.

So of course she makes mistakes. Leaves herself vulnerable. But this Lillie Bird is a weird person. She doesn't get emotional very often. She has insight - but then this story is all told in hindsight.

I hated the ending. Hated it. Sure it made me cry but not for any good reason and partially out of frustration. This was not an easy book to read, with it's total lack of quotation marks, ellipses, hell I'm not even sure she used a question mark. She warbles on in purple prose for paragraphs at a time and then I forget where the story was headed, or who was talking and had to backtrack. It commanded a lot of focus which I lack with the whole house here on vacation. Once I got used to the writing style it was fine, I understood the voice. I did flail about for the first thirty pages or so. Here's an example of the writing; where Lillie describes her home:

Tiriel and Rebecca (her parents)
had discovered the wooden building at a time when a horse had found shelter in an empty room and when the wind licked the leaves that had gathered on the floor and danced them through a tunnel from the front doorway to the back. The family mythology was steeped in the sinking shock of arrival, the skull-hole gaps for windows and doors, the walls stiffly flaking with a sunburnt paint-skin and the lace scraps on the main bedroom window speaking of love and some enigmatic loss, industrious euphoria then hasty abandonment. Rubbled around the house were sticks and logs bleached to the colour of bones and inside were depression era blankets that were scratchy chaff bags, news-paper-stuffed, and cow pats and animal remains and ghosts.

The whole books reads like that.

The story id good, I was really enjoying it and wanting to know what happens next. I couldn't really predict but as it's a love story the ending should always be the same. I have faith in that. I choose books because I like a happily ever after. Sadly, Nikki Gemmell didn't agree. She apparently didn't get the memo that love stories should have happy endings, or you annoy your reader. She must have watched the movie Love Story and thought - OH! That's how you do it. Make them cry and rip the HEA away from them at the last minute. Right.

No. Some folks like that, but not me. And it seems Gemmell wrote a another story with the same plot. How disappointing!!

Lillie bird is an interesting character for sure. I felt I was in a weird time warp reading this as if she was plucked right out of the 1930's and dropped into modern London. If Nikki Gemmell can her stories sorted with happy endings and leave a reader with a feeling of hope and mild jealousy then she'll be a fierce romance writer. She must stop with the subdural hematomas.

And the last thing about this to bug me - the last thing, is she's writing this story and saying it'll not be made available for the baby to read until it's eighteen.When everyone will know the truth - And sure I want to tell you the truth but if anyone wants to read the book I'll be giving the whole thing away and I just can't in good conscience. But here's a girl who's gown up under her town's hatred and distrust - permanently branded for a crime committed in childhood. No second chances. They won't believe the truth. None of them. Yet Lillie is so convinced that the truth will win out once she tells it, and I can see it won't make a difference to those people. It'll make everything worse. So there she is, heavy pregnant and ready to give birth any day still so damned naive, I wanted to smack her.

Friday, July 25, 2008


I told the kids last year that I wouldn't put the sprinkler out unless it got to 70 degrees. Last year, it never happened. The kids were miserable and hated me. But today, we hit 70 and they are overjoyed.

It gets hot in Scotland sometimes.It gets hot in Scotland sometimes.It gets hot in Scotland sometimes.

...although, at the moment it's only 64. They're still happy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I don't know where she gets it from...


Sassy presented me with her shop stall. She's got herself in full groove to have this stall set up, to sell her toys. For the move. She's spent a good amount of time getting the "table" level and choosing what's going to sell. Which is everything on the table top. Not a very wide selection. I've talked her out of running outside today. She says she'll have her stall on August 1st. she's even made advertisements.


I had the home improvements guy around last night and listed up what I wanted done: bathroom, closet in bedroom removed, new kitchen. I asked him about the shed in the back yard - whether we could fix it up or should we scrap it. He looked it over, shook it...a lot. He thinks it'd be best scrapped. I agree. that thing was moving quite a bit when he shoved at it. He'll get me an estimate. Kind of bricking that one.

Today I had the garden guy come around. I told him I wanted the shed out, pave it over. He suggested decking would be cheaper. Fine I'm okay with that. He then proceeded to walk around the shed, thinking. Then he began to shove it. A lot. No really he seemed to be having an awful lot of fun shoving this shed back and forth. "Quite a lot of movement in this." you don't say. Stop fucking doing it then! He asked me my budget so I under estimated the budget and he sucked teeth a bit and began to haggle. I'm not very sure I liked him very much so will definitely be looking for another landscaper. At least for competition sake. The guy may be much better with decks and plants than he is with people and sheds. I will admit that after his visit I broke out the gin. There was only so much shed shaking I could cope with.

I also had the representative come around from the international movers to look over a few things. She was nice and I'm certain I'll go ahead with them, regardless of the fact that I've had more competitive quotes. they were the only ones to call me directly and their customer service has been brilliant. Plus they have offices locally and in Melbourne so it feels like a door-to-door service.

Ugh. just called another landscaper from the yellow pages and the number was obviously a home number and the girl who answered the phone was rude. The guy who was the landscaper then took the call but didn't introduce himself just said "yeh-lo?" and I had to initiate the whole damned call. Doesn't bode well! You'd think and landscaping school they'd have done a module on business etiquette. For one don't let your bitchy wee sister answer the phone. Especially without a script. But I didn't lie and say I'd had the wrong number like I damned well wanted to. After saying what I was looking for (shed down replaced with decking) he said we could help each other out as he'd just an order canceled and had a bunch of decking he could use and give us a discount. YES - alarm bells are ringing. I'm not an idiot. But I'll hear him out and meet him. Maybe he's a brilliant landscaper but again; better with plants than people. *heavy sigh*

I'm going to finish moving the lawn and pull the nastiest of weeds - that would be thistles and this awful dandelion/thistle hybrid. I was quite embarrassed by the state of the garden when garden guy came over. fuck fuck fuck. Like I care what he thinks. Shed shover.

Where's the gin dammit?!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

SBD Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas

I got Private Arrangements from JMC in a book-swap back in May, but haven't had the luxury of time to get down to it. In some ways I'm so glad I waited because the book is really good! Then I'm annoyed because I did spend time reading things that I was pretty disappointed with and had gotten to a state of: There's nothing for me to read. Thank god that pity party of flaccid novels is done with and Sherry Thomas has saved the day. I loved this story. I liked it a lot when I finished it on Saturday night, having taken me two days to read it - that may not sound like much but I have constant distraction and finding a half hour to read non-stop is rare and it often takes me four days to finish a book and not because I'm a slow reader, but the interruptions. Now I've been left in its wake and have time for lingering thoughts about it: I love this book. I love it. Present tense because I'm not ready to part with it yet and even have the rare urge to pick it up and read it again. Only other books I have that with is The Stand by Stephen King (which for its size I could never do now - oh how those college days are so far gone now) and P&P (stop gagging Beth *wink*).

The story: (taken without permission from the Sherry Thomas webpages but I'm raving so I hope she won't mind)

To all of London society, Lord and Lady Tremaine had the ideal arrangement: a marriage based on civility, courteousness, freedom—and living on separate continents.

But once upon a time, things were quite different for the Tremaines…When Gigi Rowland first laid eyes on Camden Saybrook, Lord Tremaine, the attraction was immediate and overwhelming: she simply had to have him. But what began in a spark of passion ended in betrayal the morning after their wedding—and Gigi wants to be free to marry again. Now Camden has returned from America with an outrageous demand—an heir—in exchange for Gigi’s freedom.

Gigi’s decision will have consequences she never imagined, as secrets are exposed, desire is rekindled—and one of London’s most admired couples must either fall in love all over again…or let each other go forever.

Endure me a moment while I get a bit boring. This is one of the most professionally written books I've come across in a few years. The voice is friendly, almost as if the story is being told to us by a gossipy best friend that we love to bits for her best stories. Plot is airtight and expertly executed, characters are well rounded and shown in all lights - they are believable people. All be it spoiled hoity-toity people when really, ahhhh! They're not. There are many moments when you think you know them and then - you didn't know about that now did you! No loose ends. Granted the plot was predictable but I wasn't let down by that - I was quite happy to go along with it. It's the difference between Colombo, where you see the murder first and have to watch Colombo figure it all out, and CSI where all the facts are meanly given for suspense throughout the show. I adore Colombo. I know I'm rambling but there's a four year old on my lap and she's annoying me.

Well now I've lost all train of thought in the tantrum over my rejection of huggy-hugs while trying to write - see why I'm not getting a MS done any year soon. Oh! The secondary plot of Gigi's "Stage Mother" Mom is almost more enjoyable. In my head I was casting the roles. Not very well mind, as I ended up with Goldie Hawn and Patrick Stewart.

Anyways, I loved it. Very well written - jealous of how well written. Even more jealous when I found out English isn't Sherry's first language. Actually after learning that I just felt a bit pathetic. On the blurb link if you scroll down you can read an excerpt of the story where you get a sense of the playful narrative that comes with the book.

I'm going to go find Delicious now and become a proper fan girl. Shame I missed out on the freebie on SBTB. Sorry this review isn't better. I blame the kids incessant need for Mommy attention. I hope I get across how happy I was with this book. Thank you JMC! Thank you Sherry Thomas! If you're reading this and haven't read Private Arrangements yet: Go do it now!

Friday, July 18, 2008


I'm trying to watch Dr. Horrible but my fucking server keeps crashing every three minutes. Unfuckingbelieveable! It's insane. Absolute nuts. I just want to watch what everyone's raving on about and Zen keeps crashing and I'm now pissed becaue it's done it again. Sure I could just let it go and wait until tomorrow but I'm into it now.


I think the grown up Doogie Howser is awesome! I love that show "How I Met Your Mother". Does anyone else think He looks a bit like a younger, less angry, less char-pei-ish Gordon Ramsay? Anyone? Just me then. I'm fine with that.

Come back you fucking server already and let me watch another three minute dose.

You Kunts! Two minutes?! Bastards! Bastards! And I just got to the "The Hammer is my penis." line!!


Busy mind

Shorty was coughing at 4:45 this morning, but she settled herself back to sleep. I wasn't so lucky. Wide awake. Thoughts. Thinking. busy busy busy. Starting to talk myself out of being so severe on the cull. I always do that. "Throw it all away!" "Keep it! You can clear it later. You may find you wish you hadn't tossed that out." Bleh. As it stands I'm still firm about tossing most of it. When we got such a reasonable quote for the shipment I started to think that maybe we could take more. What would the whole house cost to move including furniture? Thing is, we're needing to replace most of it anyways. Our sofa is broken and has a saggy bit (kids). The recliner broke and wont recline (Me). Our bed ruins mattresses and hurts my back - it's a slatted base. Not even a super Sealy lasts on it. Dining tables and chairs are cheap...everything is cheap if you have time to buy them. That's the thing - we'll need to buy a lot all at once. Sure we could sleep on inflatable beds on the floor for a while. We can live simply. We're really ok with that. We've done it before. "But why should you? Just take your stuff."

Also was thinking about the full packing service where they catalouge items in each box for faster customs clearance and I thought - maybe I'll post my toy box separately. Can you imagine?

I've been told we won't be able to bring our fossil collection either because they could harbor organisms that could be harmful to Australia's ecosystem. Heavy Sigh! It's a fossil. By definition it's a dead thing. So dead in fact it's become a rock.

Today I'll pull things from our bookshelves that will go for sale. Now that the full packing service is available, I'll just just clear what we're keeping/selling and that will make the packers job all the easier. A manager for the moving company is coming out next week to have a look at Husband's comic book collection and make decisions on the best way to pack and transport them so they aren't ruined. It seems mold and mildew is rife with these. Perhaps a sepearte shipping via airplane would be better. We'll have see. Funny enough, no sentimentality has figured on my part. I guess if I have a strong enough emotional tie to something I'll keep it, but then again I've only been clearing the kitchen so I guess I'm all right in that I don't have emotional bonds with lesser used frying pans. We're also knick-knack haters. Crap - just thought I'll have to pack some of our Christmas tree ornaments.

Have got ten bags for charity all ready. I'm getting more and more listy every hour. Make a list for this, make a list for that. This morning I was making a cup of tea (It was 5:30) and I thinking I should make a list of groceries Husband should have ready for us when we arrive in Melbourne - months from now! For fuck's sake Lyv - chill. Tell me to chill a bit. Reign in. One list/task at a time. Start small, work up. Yadda yadda.

I have to go get ready for the morning now. It's 7:37am.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Just got a quote for a full move service including packing/unpacking and insurance for under £800. That is awesome! The woman was brilliant and even offered to send me links to fun things in Melbourne, estate agents, nice neighborhoods with best schools - you name it. Really nice service - which is rare in Scotland. Feel buoyed!

And so it begins.

Today I'm gutting the kitchen. Putting out all things that aren't needed on a daily basis. It's great that we kept all the boxes from our last move. Scouring. Tossing outdated foodstuffs which won't take too long as I did this in April. Clearing the top of the Fridge.


Four plates
Two mugs,
Cutlery for four,
Four cups,
One fry pan,
Two sauce pans
One cookie sheet


All non essential cooking pans and crockery.


Three tier steamer
Drip coffee machine
Two kettles (We have an extra in the garage)
All this stuff


Microwave (it's got rust in it)

Leave for house sale:

Washing machine

When we get closer to shipping the boxes, I'll pack up the keeps and ask my Mother-in-law to lend me kitchen goods until we move. She has tons. In fact, I may do that anyway and save myself the double packing. I'll decided later.

To Do:

Find cheap built-in kitchen units and counter tops. Budget is £2000-£2500.
Have carpenter fix left side of kitchen and add storage cabinets. Incorporate with units and I'll just hammer out the broken counter myself.
Get plumber to put spigot out to garden from kitchen pipes.


Bubble wrap
Fibered packing tape

After a bit of discussion, port, whiskey and nervous babbling we decided that it would be best to sell this house and not keep for rental. Reasons being the economy is going downhill here. Interest rates rising, house prices dropping. We don't want to end up with a property that'll be too expensive to rent and lies empty for long periods. Paying a GBP mortgage with AUD. We're not planning on returning to this particular house. If we ever did come back to Edinburgh, we'd move into the city and leave the countryside. We miss our urban life. Seaside country is wonderful too, but we liked and miss having the city on our doorstep. At least in Melbourne, we can afford to have both. Melbourne is looking better every minute.

We are practicing saying "Melbun" as opposed to "Mel-burn" because the Scots just love their rrrolling "R"s and rrrelish it. But here, my New England "R" dropping wins out. Another reason to love Melbourne.

Spent a lot of time looking at properties in Melbourne. I'm loving Altona and want to live on the Esplanade. Oh yes! Look at this!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Off and running...

So things went well for Husband today. Very well. We could be moving in as little as 6-8 weeks. And by moving I mean emigrating. But just in case, it's best to be prepared. My new to-do list is:

Call contractors to come and give quotes to fix bathroom shelves, bathtub surround, wall needs stripped (That may be domain of painter/decorator) and ceiling needs re plastered. Bedroom needs mirrored wardrobe removed. We'll need to get a small wardrobe and a set of drawers. Fix shed out back so we don't have to buy a new one. Also get quote for cheap kitchen units and new counter on left side.

Painter decorator - most of the painting I could do myself but would rather leave it for someone else to do because emigrating a family of four on short notice is stressful enough. Sure it would be cheaper for me to do it, but time is of the essence so we'll have to weigh the cans and can'ts

Sassy and Shorty need British passports.

Garden guy to come cut everything back. Need a half ton of pebbles for front part and some of back.

Packing up, thinning down, shoveling a ton of stuff off to charity shops. We are taking the bare minimum and will re-buy once there.

Do we sell our house, or keep it and take an equity release before making it a rental property, using the equity loan to fund emigration? Both have big advantages.

Keep the kids positive, keep us positive, keep the kids excited, keep ourselves from having nervous breakdowns and remember we are Going For It!

Reality: Husband will have to go to Australia and start work, find a rental home for us, set up address and banking (Oh yes, call ANZ and find out T&C's for opening an account) and then I will ferret/ship many small boxes over, then arrange for shipping for larger items. We are taking no furniture, limited appliances (Like our games consoles and DVD player as the OZ ones won't play our region) We will be separated for most of this process. The kids will be many levels of despondent, anxious and maybe rebellious. Well, Sassy in particular. Shorty is young enough to not grasp the fullness of the moving, not until we get there anyways and she figures out Grandma's house isn't a short drive away anymore.

Will spend the evening looking at pictures of Melbourne to inspire myself.

Then again, he may not get the job. But better to have everything ready, just in case.

This was the big secret.

I fucking hope it's all going to be worth it. If we get there and hate it I'll be miffed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Disco Poo

Shorty is 99% toilet trained. I still get called for the poop wiping, just to make sure she's gotten all of it.

Today's poo came with a bit of a surprise. It was covered in glitter.

Me: Have you been eating glitter?

Shorty: *silence*

Me: Have you?

Shorty: Yes.

Me: Don't do that anymore, ok.

Shorty: Ok. Sorry.

And that was the conversation. Kind of boring apart from me trying not to laugh while worrying about her glittery intestines.

Shorty shits glitter.

Why would a kid even try to eat glitter? Or at least that much glitter? Still not as bad as the time I found her with a huge snail in her mouth. Kids are gross.

Small things derail me sometimes.

I've been happily going along with life with all its routine and predictability. No major upsets. No troubles apart from the weird recurring dreams about going back to work in the bank. Then yesterday I saw something that's been poking and stabbing me and making me feel awful. I feel silly because it should just be brushed off, but I can't yet.

I saw a crow attacking a baby song thrush and its parents were making a racket and dive bombing the crow and the baby bird was probably just fledging, and the crow took its chances. When I came along the baby bird was still alive so I chased away the crow thinking that maybe I'd got there in time. The baby was in shock and I just knew it wouldn't make it. What do I do? What could I do? I did nothing. It's nature. It's the wild. It's what happens everyday in the woods when I'm not there to see it. I've done the trying to rescue injured baby birds before and they just die; too fragile, and I didn't want to stretch out the upsetting experience anymore then I had to.

I've felt awful ever since. I couldn't walk that path this morning because I didn't want to see the pulled feathers. Trying to just let it go.

Monday, July 14, 2008

SBD: O'Reilly's O'Sullivans

Several months ago JMC and I did a parcel swap where she sent me four books and some cinnamon sweets. (I don't remember what I sent her (Jennifer Crusie I think), but I know she got turkish delight as a sweet) She sent me the O'Sullivan trilogy (Shaken and Stirred, Sex Straight Up and Nightcap) from Harlequin Blaze that everyone was raving about in early spring. Smart Bitches gave Sex, Straight Up and Shaken and Stirred an A- which is high praise indeed. I finally had some free time to indulge in an afternoon of reading for a few days.

Of course the first thing I did was read them out of sequence. There was nothing to let me know which one came first so I read the middle one first. In the end it didn't matter so long as I got the last one right as it would have had spoilers for the other two but mixing the first two was ok. Now I don't want to go into detailed reviews of all three books, so I'll give impressions.

The first one is Shaken And Stirred featuring Gabe O'Sullivan and Tessa Hart. This book bugged me because I didn't really like Tessa. I found her annoying. She had a constant mantra to remind herself not to repeat mistakes from her younger self, to be reliant on no one but herself - obnoxiously so - and her constant affirmations that she's "The smart one" became tedious when we get to see her making so many mistakes and being intolerably rude. Gabe was a roll with it kind of guy, although he kept saying he wasn't a roll with it kind of guy, he seemed to roll over a lot. I like Him, not because I like guys who roll over, but he was nice, sweet and tolerant because he loved her even though she didn't know she loved him too. I loved it when he gave her the "fuck you" speech (He doesn't actually say fuck you) and told her off for making him pretend to be a stranger so that having sex with him was then acceptable in her blinkered mind. Their romance continues through the three books. The whole jist of this book was "Guy gets girl...kind of."

Book Two is Sex, Straight Up which is a title that doesn't really fit the story. Catherine is an art appraiser person, and Daniel is an accountant. A wounded, broken and very sad accountant who lost his wife in 9/11. Seven years later he's still struggling. These two meet up at the Hamptons where Daniel wants to get away from the noise of the party house he was thrown into by his brother and finds solace in a beach chair at Catherine's place instead. Somehow, these tow figure out between them without having said anything, that they're going to hook up and then never see each other again. A weekender. Fair enough. Except Catherine annoys the Crap out of me with her banal anxiety over being fat. Oh for fuck's sake! When you find someone willing to have a weekend of non committal sex it's a safe bet they don't give a shit about your cellulite. But Cath pulls out the, what I would expect to be, mood killer of "But I'm so fat..." Blah! Daniel ignores this and just has lots of rumpy-pumpy because like I said; in that circumstance men don't care. She is the vessel and he is the tool and no one cares about flab or hairy backs or warts or tattoos of Disney characters or anything. It's all about the grunt and the "O". Sure Catherine doesn't have experience at the one-night-stand. But really. Such a cliche. Apart from that it's really good except the extra quick resolution to the embezzlement thing that left me feeling a bit - what happened? Did they forget a few pages?

The last one is Nightcap which is again a weird title for the book and makes me think it was just there to fill in the whole bar theme that runs through the books. the brothers own a bar together. Anyways, this one is about Sean the slutboy and Cleo the Deputy Mayor who's so hard up and overstressed I'm amazed she doesn't implode. I liked this story the best. Best chemistry, most natural attraction and best plotted. Also I don't think there were any annoying typos or missed words like the other books had and I guess we have to accept with Harlequins seeing as they're so cheap and so mass produced. But if I could see it, why didn't the proofreader? Then again, what a tiring job. I bet my eyes would cross after eight hours, especially if I didn't like what I was reading.

Anyways, not a bad way to spend the afternoons of the weekend. O'Reilly writes great men and annoying women. I'm not regretting the read, but I think in a few weeks they will all be forgotten.

I saved the best looking book from JMC for last, but I can't read that until after I get the library books back which I didn't get to read - I started two of them and thought Ick, so boring. If you can't get my attention in the first ten pages then I'm not bothering. The other one is a serial that, of course, I've come in late on. So I'll go find the earlier works and rread through because I actually liked the writing in that one. It's a Gil Cunningham murder mystery written by Pat McIntosh. I didn't even notice it was all written in western Scotland. I also want to get the Spymaster books as folks all seem to be raving about them and I've read some of Joanna Bourne's blog and find her interesting and fun.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Must Have

Currently number one on my wish list. US3

But you'll probably remember...

This'll become a Sunday morning favourite. We love to torture the kids with our music choices and fancies on Sunday morning. It's revenge for waking us up early.

Friday, July 11, 2008


There's been news. Great news. Exciting news. Pensive - apprehensive with potential to disappoint or make dreams come true kind of news. News I don't want to jinx by talking about it and yet I really want to tell. I'm awful with secrets - in the sense that I love spreading good news. Bad secrets I'll keep, but good ones could kill me - but I want to tell and I just can't because what if it comes to nothing? What if it's just the window opening and not the door to to the new path?

So giddy. So giddy. Must keep level head, though. Poker face. Stop smiling. Chill out. Chiiiillll.

Oh it's just so exciting! The possibilities!! I love possibilities and new roads!




Deep breath in. Not letting it go.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hard choices.

Husband's come back from America a bit shocked. I'm a bit shocked too listening to his observations. He was shocked about the size of cars compared to Europe. He was shocked that an average MPG was below 30. He was shocked that so many people say they won't have a car smaller than a V8. Granted this was Oregon where it's mountainous and snowy. Hearing the panic some people have about the prices of gas (Double that for the UK, folks. Double. Over $8 a US gallon), people filling their tanks and running from the stations.

What struck me was the size of vehicles in the USA today. I can't help it, but I was thinking back to when I was a kid and your average family car was a boat. Land barges we called them. Mobile homes for some if yours had bench seats. My best friend's first car was an 83' Ford Bronco, another had a 78' Malibu, another a 74' Cadillac. My first car was Ford shitbox that died not too long after I got it, but my heart was with the 84' Skylark I got as my second car. I loved that car. I understand how people can love their cars. You form a relationship with it. You know it's noises, tweaks, perks, feel. It becomes an extension of yourself. I was all right with my four cylindars. Sure it shook like mad at 80mph, but then the speed limit was 55 so I shouldn't have been driving at 80. So I'm wondering why so many people need an extension of themselves that, let's be honest - a behemoth! Why must the extension be a tank? Is it to show ostentation? Is it for protection? Has 9/11 sent folks into the tanks and land barges? Is it machismo, and if it is why are so many women driving the behemoths?

I've talked about this briefly with a few American friends and they tell me what the European presses aren't; auto companies can't shift the behemoths anymore even with cash incentives or free gas for a year. People are choosing bikes and using public transport. So how long before the car companies - who've been through an oil crisis before and should've predicted this seven years ago - start to make affordable cars with smaller engines? Will the speed limits drop again, because it's kinder to a four cylindar engine? Using history as a guide, it may be so.

In case you're wondering, we have a 2005 Alfa Romeo 156 with a 1.9 liter diesel engine and gets 42mpg on average. It costs £75 to fill the tank and it'll last nearly two weeks. This is a very perky car with a turbo and it loves to be driven.

So where is the future of automotive going? Well, you choose.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Vegan Fairy Cakes

Fairy Cakes

Shorty's last day of pre-school is tomorrow and they're having a garden party. All the parents were asked to bring something, so I made a batch of vegan fairy cake. There a few kids who, like my daughter, have allergies to either dairy or eggs. These are sweet wee cakes that they can have. I did these in a mini muffin pan.


1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1tbsp vinegar


1/4 cup Vegan margarine
1 cup powdered sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2 drops of food colouring

Preheat oven to 180C. For the cakes sift dry ingredients well, and then add all wet ingredients EXCEPT vinegar. Mix well. Once you are ready to put the batter into the tin, add the vinegar and mix in well. This will react with the baking soda and make the cakes fluffy - so be quick! once the tin is full get it right into the oven. Cook for about 10-12 minutes or until going golden.


Cream together the marg and sugar - add more sugar until you get a nice spreadable texture that's not too fatty looking. Add a couple drops of food colouring and blend.

Double the amounts for a regular muffin-sized cake or cake pan.

Beeeecawwwzze, I want to!

Husband is back and he came with gifts because he is a good Husband and Daddy. He bought me a sweet Chanel travel compact with eye shadow, blusher and lippy. One of those things I've always wanted but couldn't justify the price to myself. So awesome when someone else thinks I'm worth such luxuries. It seems the woman who was helping Husband, her Dad is also from Edinburgh. So the two had talks. At some point she handed Husband over to some guy and she went away to talk some other folks (This was in Saks Fifth Ave.) and came back with a bunch of freebies to add to his bag. How sweet! So tid bits came in the bag? Well there was a sample of Versace perfume which is nice but isn't me, Light Blue by Dolce & Gabana which is definitely not me, a sample of Terre pour Homme by Hermes which is Awesome and Husband will wear, some very nice cream that smells like fruit and ice cream a company called Fresh and...aaaand; a small tub of Creme Ancienne. Nice wee haul really. I'll give the perfumes away but the creams are mine.

So I tried everything, tinkered with the colour palette of the make-up had fun playing grown-up for a wee while. I put some of the Creme Ancienne on: This Stuff Is Awesome! I am in love. I wanted to know more about it. It's made by Monks and takes two days to create and it's full of herbals and essences and stuff. Know what else I found out: 3oz jar costs $250!!! Holy Fuck! I did a guess and figure this sample jar I have must be about $50. So I don't know if I'll be out there trying to score some more anytime soon.

then I was thinking. What the hell are monks doing to make such an expensive cream? Two days isn't so long. I bet I could make a fancy cream just as good as any old monk, anyday. So a-googling I went. Not easy to find but I did find some interesting facts. The big one is: Making your own lotions and creams is fucking easy! And Cheap. Bastard Monks!

Basic recipes
More Recipes
Make your own

So you all know what I'm going to be doing this summer. Kicking some Monk butt and making my own brilliant cream.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Because I want to!

I took the day off from the gym because I have cramps and heavy gushings and the gym is no place for that kind of foolishness. Bad enough having the discomfort without thinking every ten minutes "Am I leaking? Am I bleeding out?" and having to run and check. Most of the time the answer is no - I'm just anxious about such things. But the one time I ignore it though, and I'll be sorry. Most of the time it's just sweat. Hot Summers and sweaty hoo-haas are why I hate cotton underpants. But apart from that, I also have sore joints today. The worst being my second toe on my right foot. Damn that hurts! Feels like it's about to go into a cramp and just won't. My thumb joint is also sore., not to mention the lower back due to the cramps I already mentioned. These little reminders of getting older with sore joints isn't nice.

Gave myself a panic earlier today, after I'd finished my ramen soup lunch, I went upstairs to get dressed to take Shorty to school and I noticed this red ring on my right breast. What the hell is that!? Freaked I immediately began a brest exam to check for lumps - which you're not supposed to do during your period because breasts get lumpy at that time anyway. So I'm padding my fingers around my breasts, nothing unusual - except there kind of an empty space on the bottom of the right one. Not me, I don't find a lump - I find a space. Anyways, I figure I better get in touch with the doctor, begin worrying about the history of breast cancer in my family when I realize - like a light bulb - I had my soup mug resting on my breast while I ate my soup and it's just ed from the bottom of the bowl. Breasts come in handy sometimes! I felt like the relieved dumbass that I am.

It's the last few days of school for the girls. Thursday they get a half day. Shorty's pre-school is having a party and I said I would bring cupcakes. I'll have to make about 50 cupcakes. So they'll be mini ones. With simple frosting. I've also decided that instead of going mad and getting meaningful presents for the five teachers (Shorty has four) I'll just buy them all a bottle of wine. Tesco has a deal on where if you buy six bottles you'll get %25 off. So five for them and one for me. Sounds fair. In the meantime I'm getting the pre-summer holidays anxiety. What The Fuck Will I Do With them All Summer?! It'll pass. I know the six weeks will breeze by and before I know it, it'll be Autumn and I'll be praying for time to rewind back to this day. Preferably after the embarrassing red-tit incident.

I'm hoping there will be thunderstorms tonight. Feels like it could. Maybe not quite hot enough. Weather station only predicts 30% chance of T-storms, but I'd really like some spectacular kabooms and lightning just now. Makes me feel alive and rooted in the moment.