Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Better than marmalade and logarithims combined

The great country of Scotland has brought us many wonderful things: the invention of the television, marmalade, the discovery of logarithms, and now, possibly their greatest invention ever, Franz Ferdinand.

A friend of mine, L., who is rock goddess supreme with her name on every guest list of all the most fabulous after parties of any decent rock show was gracious enough to give me her extra ticket to this night’s concert of Franz Ferdinand at the Ice Arena of Nottingham. Opening for them were The Rakes, and Editors.

I’ll fast forward to the good part. Franz Ferdinand are so solid, such pure rock. Incredible to think that they only have two albums out and yet their show already sounds like a greatest hits tour – every song is fucking brilliant and single worthy. They were non-stop. At one point three of them were all banging away on the drum set at once. My voice is shot, my body is covered in cold sweat, my feet are aching from constantly jumping up and down – all proof of an amazing show.

We unfortunately only heard the end of the last song by The Rakes, who are adorable, and had the entire crowd bouncing up and down like a spasmic snake. Just from that 30-second tease I heard, I already know I’m going to try to get tickets to their next gig. Editors, who although apparently much more hyped up than The Rakes were a disappointment. The musicians were fabulous, fast furious drum driven, solid guitar but the blandest singer you could imagine. It was like seeing a fabulous film with a terrible lead actor.
Here are the Editors, who stole my best photo of the night.

Oh, but Franz, sweet sweet Franz – may you have a long long success. May my progeny one day find my old and dusty MP3s of your first album lying in the attic, and say, “Mom – You listened to the Double F’s? I had no idea you were this cool when you were young. They rock.” Because this little lassie from Chicago sure as hell wants to hear more from you Glaswegian boys.

And if anyone can tell me how to transfer a movie from my Canon A60 to my iBook, you can delight in a little Franz performace for yourselves..

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The ghost of Thanksgiving past

I never used to miss Thanksgiving when I lived in France. Which I think is mainly due to the fact that there was nothing over there to remind me of the holiday. French and American culture are so different, I would usually even forget Thanksgiving existed. But here… America and England are different, but no where near as different as France and America.

England is like Adam, and America the rib taken from him to grow in to a sprawling, massive version of Eve. Both cultures certainly share the same idea of comfort food. So as I walk around my local grocery store, I still see bloated turkey carcasses taking up room in the oversized fridges, there’s even Ocean Spray cranberry sauce in the canned food aisle, and I find myself missing home. Because it’s so close, but not quite.

Last night I got a bit teary eyed talking to Stephane about Thanksgiving. How difficult it was for me to be so far from home at this time. How Thanksgiving is more sacred than Christmas in America.

But then I remembered that my family has such a sporadic, non-traditional, un-warm fuzzy feeling inducing Thanksgivings that there really was nothing to be homesick for.

Here’s a list of some of the Thanksgivings my family has had:

The memorable one with just me, my mom and my little sister. We all had the flu, sick as dogs we were; sitting at a dinning room table so big it just drew more attention to the fact that we were few and we were sad. Food was pushed around plates. I think we eventually gave up and all went to bed.

There were many Thanksgivings were we would go to the Ritz for their hotel feast buffet. This was a dressy affair, surrounded by other families who a) were wealthy enough to be able to eat there b) couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of preparing a home cooked meal and cleaning up afterward. I always enjoyed myself, but it felt hollow and very “un-American”.

Then there is the year when again, my mom, little sister and I found ourselves alone without invitations from anyone else to join them in Thanksgiving festivities. We went to see a double header at the cinema and had popcorn with a bunch of other people who were either foreigners, desperately wanted to see Tim Allen in The Santa Clause, or like us, had no place else better to go.

There is the time we flew to LA to do Thanksgiving with my Uncle. This was a lot of fun, but I still couldn’t get over having a “warm” Turkey Day - it just didn’t seem right to be playing touch football to help digest the massive amount of food my Uncle provided while wearing a short sleeved shirt.

There was also the time we went to a Mexican restaurant with my Mom and her Husbands’ funky wine friends who proceeded to drone on and on about wine the entire dinner. Once my sister and I realised that a full hour had gone by without either of us uttering a word or being spoken to, we ran off to the bathroom to dance in secret for a few minutes before quietly returning to the table. Ok. That was actually Easter, but it fit in with the others.

Anyways, my point is that I don’t have a family Thanksgiving tradition. I never grew up with a “every year for Thanksgiving we go over to Aunt Mabel’s house in Cleveland and she makes too much food, Grandpa falls asleep on the couch before even getting to the table, my mom and her sister get drunk on schnapps in the kitchen pretending to help Grandma with her gravy which no one likes because it is too lumpy but we’re not aloud to tell Grandma that” kind of a Thanksgiving.

I guess my family’s Thanksgiving tradition is simply making the most with what you got. Which is why I will be celebrating Thanksgiving on Sunday, but making a small Turkey, maybe some mashed potatoes and opening a jar of cranberry sauce. Perhaps I’ll rent something like “Home for the Holidays” and my French boyfriend and I will pick at my bird in our little studio in Nottingham in front of the telly. Works for me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Love me. Love my Science.

The other night I found myself in the company of men, and only men. And not just men, but scientists. This often is the case with my soirees in Nottingham. Me and a bunch of scientists drinking beer. While I do occasionally have to silently sit through bouts of conversations discussing archaea and gene transference, I for the most part find this company of men entertaining and witty (and thanks to them I now know words like “archaea” and “gene transference”).

Last night one of the boys was discussing his girlfriend troubles and the fact that she complains that he is too involved with his work.

“That’s not fair,” responded Scientist # 1 who has a tattoo of a DNA strand on his upper arm “Love me. Love my Science”

Stephane then made a lighthearted comment about how I should adhere to this motto, implying that I was not supportive enough of his career.

I looked at him in shock.

I don’t love your Science? You think that I don’t love your Science?

I moved to the middle of nowhere, bumblefuck England for your Science. I left Paris for your Science. I sacrificed my career for your Science. Don’t tell me that I don’t love your Science.

Sweet Victory

We won the pub quiz. And by "we" I of course mean me, stephane and various others who contributed a hell of a lot more than us. And as always if I am ever writing on a Tuesday night, it means I am drunk. So I shall make this short and sweet before I make an ass out of myself. We WON!!! Oh lord, two alcohol related posts in a row. I'm a good girl, really. I'm sober 5 days out of 7. And for an "ex-bartender" living in a pub culture, binge drinking infused country, I say that's pretty damn good.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

You know you have a drinking problem when...

....the Scottish bartendress compliments you by saying "Your a woman that knows how to drink" and that I could "probably drink all these lads under the table".

This post can also be known as The One My Mother Should Ignore.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Winter hat blues

I need a new winter hat. This Sherlock Holmes crap just ain't cutting it now that the wind is biting and the frost is abundant.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dontcha wish your girlfriend made you midnight snacks with love letters like me? Dontcha...

Stephane went out on a pub crawl not too long ago. I stayed home. Before going to bed, I made him a chicken and tomato sandwich with a baggie full of pretzels and left it in the fridge for him with a little note, knowing he would need something to soak up the alcohol when he eventually stumbled home.

Am I not the cutest girlfriend ever?

Monday, November 14, 2005


Roast chicken? Check.

Quiche? Check.

Garlic pesto Pizza? Check.

These are all meals I can now make with my eyes blindfolded, (I know not an extensive list - but I've only just started learning how to cook). However until a week ago, I couldn't for the life of me make a decent sauce.

First try at a cream mushroom sauce ended up like this:

Lets just say I was a little over zealous with the flour for my roux.

Next attempt - a sauce au poivre for a nice rump steak, accompanied with roast potatoes and garlic spinach.

I did however buy some gravy from Marks & Spencer as back-up. The sauce caused some watery eyes as this time it was the pepper corn that felt my zeal. Nothing a little extra cream couldn't fix, and the sauce was a mild success.

Saturday my friend Rohan came over for dinner and then clubbing and I was finally able to make a perfect sauce.

Tuna steaks smothered in a tomato and caper sauce with a white wine cream base. Roasted eggplant, courgettes, and red pepper with plenty of garlic, and boiled new potatoes with rosemary.

Damn I'm good.

But if you want to see a real pro, go visit my friend Stacey's blog Just Braise She is my cooking mentor. From pork stuffed with chorizo to pumpkin cheese cake. You'll never need to buy another cook book again.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Getting the Boot

As my good friend Danielle already touched upon on her blog, it is very difficult for a woman with fuller calves to find a pair of boots that fit. Lord knows there are some sexy ass boots out there at the moment, and frankly I do not think that I should be left out simply because I have womanly, yet muscular calves (it would have been too easy for the gene fairies to have given me my mother's legs that go on forever - instead I get my Father's insanely defined rugby worthy lower half). I became determined to find my perfect pair of this season's latest boots. I started by ducking into swanky shoe stores on weekends, quickly grabbing a pair of boots in my size off the shelf, slipping off my own worn shoe and yanking on a dark knee-high alternative only to feel my face burn bright with embarrassment at the sound of the zipper getting stuck on my protruding calf muscle.

After various self-esteem killing tries over the past few weeks I finally came to the conclusion that my boots are unfortunately not residing in swanky shoe stores. Their half-way house is actually discount department stores, ones that sell Christmas decorations all year round, have an insanely large selection of bed slippers and are never without a plus size section. And so it came that I found myself on a Wednesday night after work basking in the sweltering heat and fluorescent lighting of a T.K. Maxx (for whatever reason, the J has been replaced by a K in the English version - now who's got their annoying theme song stuck in their heads).

I was a woman on a mission.

25 minutes into my shopping experience finds me with sweat trickling down my face into my collar and hobbling around the wide aisles with one shoe on and one shoe off (this was of course my “trying on” foot). Out of the perhaps 20 or so pairs of boots that I tried on, 2 fit. That is one, two. Out of what might have been a billion for all the effort I made. One pair that fit was a frumpy black snow boot. The other was a slouchy brown boot that fit like a glove.

Worth every cent of my Mother’s hard earned money and every bead of sweat shed.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Could you resist me?

My sad pouty face. Who could say no to this?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The beau is out on a pub crawl with his science buddies. I have just made a deliciously simple goat's cheese salad, poured myself a chilled glass of white wine and am settling in front of the telly to watch EastEnders. Pure Bliss.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Is this pomegranate half bad or half good?