Friday, 31 December 2010

"Going down to Rio"

Someone once said something about not having to go very far from your own back ‘yard’ to find something juicy, or something, and today, I concur! The wig and I decided to venture out this afternoon mainly because we are sick to the back teeth of leftovers and needed some other kind of food, but also as we wanted to visit the cinema. Usually, we would go to the Barbican (we love the Barbican) or one of the the Vue’s, but in light of my new found poverty, suddenly the local Cinema 5 minutes trot away seemed like a very exciting prospect - £6.50 each. This is essentially a 2 for 1. Excellent. 

However, on the way to the local Cinema, something dark and interesting caught our attention on the Kingsland Road. A place so cool and mysterious that it doesn’t even require a sign to tell you what it is. As we peered though the window of this strange dimly lit place we spied lots of intense people inside, eating extremely tall burgers held together with sticks and drinking coffee’s from glasses. Intensely. We simply had to go inside and to our delight we discovered we were in the Dalston Supermarket! Hurrah! We had found it! I’d heard tell of this place but since I don’t make a habit of sniffing around Dalston, I had never seen it before. But actually, it was ok. And I think now I will have a lot of spare time on my hands I might be hanging out there quite a bit. Once I have perfected my intense face.

So, after a long burger and a 2nd degree burn to my right hand, we headed off to the Rio Cinema which I think might now be on my new list of favourite places to go in 2011. It was great! Not only was it cheap and close to home, they also sell home made cakes!

Also, you can make friends with it and get more money off. You get a free leaflet delivered (twice a year) and money off a Thai Restaurant in Stoke Newington! Does life get any better? I think not.
The only down side is that there is not as much choice as you would get in a multiplex, what with there only being one screen, however the one film they had on today was brilliant. (I never would have watched it if there had been a choice since it had Colin Twat Farrell in but I was very pleasantly surprised). It’s called ‘The Way Back and is based on a true story about some chaps who escaped from a Siberian Gulag. Amazing, and actually a very good film to watch on the cusp of a new year. It was a very moving story of determination and strength of the human spirit. I think everyone should go and see it. Now I’m off to the pub, Happy New Year!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

The Future is frugal

I don't know if this happens to anyone else over the Christmas break, but I find myself gradually, over time, getting up later each morning and staying up later each night. So by the time January comes I'm positively nocturnal. It happens every year so the New Year always means going back to work with Christmas jet lag. However, not this year. Since I resigned from my job at the start of December I wont have this problem in 2011, although as one problem dissolves, another reappears. 

At present, the main problem of not having a job seems to be the lack of money. No shit. However, rather than see this as a terrifying prospect (which is what I think kept me in a job I hadn't been happy in for a long time), I am trying to view this as nothing more than a slight inconvenience or challenge if you will. Therefore, last night as I struggled to convince myself in the Christmas timezone of Hackney that it was time for bed, I had an idea. While sniffing around my pile of Christmas day booty, I realised I would need some sort of protective sheath for my new iPod Nano (I'm a bit funny about trying not to scratch things and making them look new for as long as possible). But rather than get excited about going shopping for something, I made one! Out of an old blouse I'm to fat to wear, a jewelry pouch and some ribbon from a chocolate box. I figured this would be a useful endeavor on 2 counts; firstly it might be such a dull exercise that I would drop off, and secondly, I might actually end up with something useful. For free! Ha! Stick that in your pipe old job!

So in the spirit of frugality and drug free sleep, may I present to you the Old Blouse Sleeve Nano Sheath! I admit it wont be to everyone’s taste, but as a first project I don’t think it’s too bad (if you don’t look at it too closely). Another good thing about the OBSNS (Trademark . . . .)  is that it has made me remember that actually, you never need as much money as you think. When you are working, particularly in a stressful job, it’s very easy to slip into the bad habit of regular ‘treats’. I was definitely guilty of buying things I didn’t really need as a treat after a hard day at work. So hopefully, now I’m having a bit of a break, with hopefully a more balanced life,  I wont keep needing to rewarding myself with over priced feck and can maybe make things I need. I am hopeful that a happier life will equal a more simple (cheaper) life, so look out friends, you know what’s coming your way on your next birthday! Sorry.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

“Take your pleasures seriously” Charles Eames

I have been trying to work out what to say about Charles and Ray Eames, for anyone reading this who you doesn’t know who they are, but think maybe posting a couple of links will be better:

I am by no means an expert about them, I just think they are the bee’s knees. They were architects, furniture designers, film makers, photographers, fabric designers, they even designed leg splints that were used by the US Navy in WWII. A husband and wife team who believed that you can do whatever you want to in life if you have the vision and motivation to do so.  A very inspirational couple indeed at a time when I need inspiring!

Working from the 1930’s up until the 1980’s, they frequently used new materials, new shapes and new techniques in their designs which were often ground breaking and very ahead of their time. Probably one of the most recognisable pieces of furniture that they created, is the Eiffel Base Shell chair. Designed in 1948 it has a fibre glass seat resembling a turtle shell, with legs inspired by the construction of the Eiffel Tower. I have always loved these chairs and after my father passed away in 2006, I used some money he left me to buy 4 white chairs with walnut bases. I hoped he might approve of me buying something that I can keep forever that is not only useful but looks good too, but equally he could have thought I was wasting my cash! I guess I’ll never know. Anyway, at first I didn’t really want anyone sitting on them (which is silly really) and especially no one over a certain weight, however, now I love that they get used on a regular basis. It means that every time we use them, not only do we get a comfy seat, it also reminds me of my Dad.

Another item which is synonymous with Mr + Mrs Eames is the Eames House Bird.  It is a wooden bird based on an object of American folk Art that the Eames’ had picked up on their travels and kept in their living room for over 50 years. The Wig (after quite a few hints) knew that I wanted one of these birds and very kindly brought me one for Christmas. I love it. I have no idea where it will live since anyone who has been to my flat knows it is rather like a museum with every surface covered by some sort of collection or other, but I’m sure I will find some corner or other for it.  Hopefully, sitting on my Eiffel Chair while being watched by the Eames House Bird will help inspire me for the New Year ahead, you never know, stranger things have happened.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Soupe a l'oignon gratine

It's been a slow day today in the Hare's lair and despite my plans to finally venture outside, I have been housebound all day. It would seem The Wig is contagious with a horrid fever that prevented us from going out for any adventures all day. Anyone that knows me will know that I have the worst bedside manner imaginable, so its been a very long day... poor Wig.

To try and be a better nurse, I decided to make some Onion Soup for the patient using the tip of Onion Mountain (the abundance left over from the Onion Marmalade we made for Christmas presents). I wouldn't advise making and eating Onion Soup at the wooing stage of a relationship, however after 4 years together, The Wig and I are more than used to the powerful after effects of slow cooked Alliums.

I decided to use a recipe from one of my Dads old Delia Smith books which I remember him often using when he used to cook for my brothers and I when we were children. He was a very good cook and as far as I can recall made all our meals from scratch. I don't think a frozen burger or crispy pancake would have made it through the front garden let alone through the front door and into the freezer. I can definitely credit my Dad for my love of cooking along with my passion for Stately Homes, Cigarettes and Monty Python.

So, as with most recipe books I have, I don't stick religiously to the ingredients and instructions but the end product usually turns out ok (apart from the Famous Banana Cake of September 2010, but let us never mention it again).

To make the soup:
I sweated 4 big onions (red + white) in a blob of butter and 1tbs of oil for half an hour, uncovered.
Then I added 3/4 pint of beef stock, 1/4 pint of white wine and brought to the boil.
Next I covered the pan and simmered for 1 hour.
Halfway through the cooking I made large croutons in the oven using granary bread brushed with oil.
Finally, when the soup was ready I seasoned it, put it into bowls, placed the croutons on top and grated some cheese on top, using my new rotary grater. I told you I needed it.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, 27 December 2010


Finally, after much procrastination, here it is, my new blog. I have not been outside for the last 3 days so, I thought I better do something productive inside.

I am having a super Christmas break so far , and after what can only be described as a couple of mensis horribilis's, I am extremely relieved. I spent Christmas Eve at home with my two favorite people, The Wig ( my new fiance) and The Twit ( my oldest friend and partner in crime). We had lots to drink and of course ended the night with an hour or so of Wooden Spoon Kitchen Disco. My favorite type of Disco. Luckily all my neighbours have left the building for a few days so I did not wake up with ABBA guilt the next day. In fact, when I finally awoke on Christmas morning, with the driest tongue in the world, I received some very joyous news indeed. I have been blessed with a brand new niece, so welcome to the world, Betty Willow! I haven't met her yet as she is a little early (and small) but I hope to meet her soon. However I probably won't hold her until she is around 1 year old as new babies scare the crap out of me.

Along with the new niece, I also received some great gifts which included a rotary cheese grater (I really wanted one), an iPod Nano (I really needed one), a rotund Wine Carafe (I am the same shape as one) and most exciting of all, a Vitra Bird (I think I would have killed for one). So, all in all, I did very well and most of my friends got home made edible gifts from me as you can see in the photo. I hope they like Preserved Lemons, Onion Marmalade, Nuts in honey and Dukkah as much as I liked my presents . . . I guess if I never hear from them again, that will be the answer.

I'm not sure what we will be up to for the rest of the break, but I shall write more soon, I think I'll probably spend some time trying to work out how to use this blog. I am really excited about writing again and also very excited about what may be round the corner in the new year. I hope that you will be back for a visit soon. Love from The March Hare x