Thursday, 31 January 2008

The Ting Tings

Oooh, I have a bit of a head this morning. It was the leaving do last night for our departing head of department and, well, two bar!!

We all over indulged a little, there were some stragglers into the office this morning, but quite frankly I don't get many perks with this company, so I'm not about to turn down free alcohol when it's on offer.

On the positive side I'm feeling heaps better than I did a day or two ago, so I think the alcohol may have killed whatever germ was lurking in my system. Yippee!!! I even managed a bit of a chair dance to the The Ting Tings who are being heavily touted as the next big thing. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Unfortunately the image is imprinted on my retina

I’m struggling to post this week. It's only Tuesday, yet I feel the weekend and the work week have already left me battered and bruised. By the time I got home yesterday I could do nothing more than collapse in a heap on the couch. Last night was particularly worrying as I watched the entire State of the Union address and all the commentary and analysis afterwards because I couldn’t summon up the energy to reach for the remote. I’ve also noticed that while at work - listening to the radio of course, to block out the cacophony that is my neighbour Jose on a conference call. Man does he have some decibels – I can’t even manage a bit of chair dancing when a good tune comes on. It’s very disturbing. Usually I’m fairly energetic and full of beans, but not this week. I feel old and I am not in the least bit happy about it. Sigh!!

Perhaps I’m sickening for something. It wouldn’t surprise me; it seems that every other person that sits near me has succumbed to some germ or other, Emma, my other office neighbour, has had flu-like symptoms for over a week now and in the ladies the other day I had the pleasure of hearing someone wretch. Ugh!! Hopefully it was a case of morning sickness and not something viral. Touch wood that other than blocked sinuses which have been giving me headaches these past few days I feel fine, well except for the tiredness of course.

I’m hoping this weekend will be a quiet one; I think I need it, if I recall correctly I’d resolved to lay off the partying in January after the excess of Christmas, but instead I just seem to have continued the festivities into January. Maybe I’ll have better luck in February. All I have planned for this weekend is dinner and drinks with Melissa at
Bar Blanc, a fairly new restaurant in the West Village, so I should have plenty of time for recuperation.

Not so this past weekend, it was the hen party/bridal shower/baby shower extravaganza in Princeton to celebrate Ash’s impending nuptials at the end of March and Val and Sigrun’s – who flew in from Iceland no less - impending Spring babies – a girl for Val who’s due in April and a boy for Sigrun who’s due in May.

These weekends have become something of a tradition of late as one by one the others get engaged and married. There are only two of us left who are single now. We had our usual trip to a spa where we had either facials or massages and then for lunch after which Susan whisked away the bride and moms to be for an hour or two so that Andrea, Steph and I could go back to the house and gussy it up with bridal, baby and phallic themed decorations including a pack of todger balloons I’d bought at a shop on 6th Avenue and W 4th street – I think it was called Fantasy Palace should any of you New Yorkers be in the market for things of that ilk, beware though as these particular balloons were extremely difficult to blow up. Not that I can say I’ve blown up many balloons recently, so it could be that I’ve lost the knack or perhaps the lack of exercise over the last few months has significantly hampered my lung capacity, but these seemed to be much harder to blow up than normal balloons. I managed to fully inflate one, but couldn’t manage to inflate a second any further than the testicles before I ran out of puff, so instead of struggling with the rest of it I knotted it where it was, snipped off the excess and turned it into a heart. Ahh what I lack in the handling of phallic balloons I more than make up for in the arts and crafts department. Andrea fared no better, in fact she was worse than me as she managed to explode the one she was inflating and gave up after that, however Steph was our champion todger balloon blower after managing to inflate three. Yes, THREE. In fact she did it with such ease I suspect she must practise a lot in her spare time.

Anyway the bride and moms were thrilled with the decorations and cakes we’d had made for them and while waiting for our dinner to cook we cracked open the champers – grape juice for the moms to be – and had the bride moms open their gifts. It’s the first time I’ve been to a baby shower, or a bridal shower for that matter. Last time I was living there we didn’t go in for all that shower gubbins in England. In fact as I recall it used to be considered bad luck to buy baby gifts before the baby was actually born, but maybe things have changed. Ditto on the bridal shower, not that it was bad luck, but we didn’t do a separate hen party and bridal shower, we just do the hen party. It costs you a fortune with all the additional parties to pay for over here, but it was fun to watch them opening their gifts. As you can imagine there were oodles of baby clothes for the moms to be as well as lots of nice undies for the bride, plus a few novelty items including a classy set of ‘pecker maracas’ – also available from the Fantasy Palace on 6th Avenue kids – and a set of candy pasties per the photo above. A pair of candy pasties which the bride to be decided would be a good idea to try on after a few too many glasses of champers. She failed dismally on the Mr & Mrs style questionnaire we tested her with scoring a pitiful 6 out of a possible 30 and so was required to take a sip for each of the 24 questions she got wrong, so was understandably quite trollied, still it was a bit of a shock when she streaked into the living room wearing only her knickers and the candy pasties as the rest of us were finishing off our drinks, it was funny though; especially when we showed our hungover bride to be the photos the next morning, although we were nice and let her delete them…well, we did after emailing one to the groom ;-)

Anyway kids I shall leave you with that image in your heads and a word to the wise should you ever be considering your own candy pastie purchase. Apparently they are a bugger to remove…in fact in Ash’s words ‘they almost ripped my nips off’ so be very careful ;-)

Thursday, 24 January 2008

At least I get to listen to the radio at work

I’ve not had much time to post this week, we’re all busy at the office trying to ensure a smooth handover of the client work from the soon to be former head of department to the new head of department who is…drum roll please….my current manager. Yup, they promoted internally.

People keep trying to coerce me into taking on new clients, but I already look after 4 of them and I’m 150% booked which guarantees me having to work a 60hour week, so if I hear “oh but couldn’t you just squeeze this client in?” one more time I won’t be responsible for my actions.

To rub salt in the wound I just passed the elevator bank and there was a pile of people waiting to leave. It’s 5.30pm; I’ll be here at least another couple of hours yet. I wonder what jobs they all have. I wouldn’t mind me one of those.

So yes, my manager – who is admittedly very good – is the new big cheese. He now has a prestigious new role with lots of new responsibilities, some of which I am sure will trickle down to me, and lots more money I am sure, none of which will trickle down to me.

My oh my I just LOVE my job, but not nearly as much as I love this new Hot Chip tune ;-)

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Not the most productive of days

I’d intended to post about my long weekend yesterday, but the day got away from me and I never quite got around to it. I arrived in work to the somewhat surprising news that our head of department had resigned after almost a decade with the company.

I say somewhat surprising because something had definitely been brewing over the last few months and it wasn’t long before speculative emails on whether he’d jumped or whether he was pushed started arriving in my inbox. A certain senior staff member hadn’t been acting too favourably towards him recently, so most people seem to think there was at the very least a nudge towards the door, especially since he’s heading to a competitor that hasn’t been performing too well in the last couple of years, so not somewhere you would necessarily choose given the option, but who knows. We’re all on tenterhooks now waiting to find out what the plan to replace him is.

Then in the afternoon we were again abuzz with the shocking news that 28year old Heath Ledger had been found dead in his apartment downtown.

Unbelievably sad!!

As I mentioned in the title, yesterday was not the most productive of work days.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Dumpsville. Population: Me

So I haven't heard a peep from Tel Aviv in 2weeks. How weird is that? I went away for a fortnight at Christmas, came back at the end of December to an I-think-I'm-falling-for-you-but-do-you-think-you-could-move-to-Israel email, met him, albeit briefly, for a chat about things, exchanged a few emails on the situation and suggested we talk in person. "I'll call you" he said and since then....nada!!


Do you think the whole "I think I'm falling for you, but for us to be together you'd have to move to Israel" thing was a ploy to end things that backfired when I actually said I'd consider it? Who knows, but the fact is I've seen him once, for 30minutes, in the past month. Whichever way you spin it, that's not a good sign.

Oh well. Next!!!

Seriously though, I'm very sad the relationship appears to have fizzled out, I like Tel Aviv a lot, he's a good guy, but I completely understand why he might be having second thoughts about us and if he doesn't want to talk because he doesn't see a future for us then so be it. I'll feel like shite for a while, but I'll survive. Sigh!! Cue Gloria Gaynor.

At least work is keeping my mind off things. Can you believe I've only been back a couple of weeks and I've already put in a few 14hour days. Urgle!! Thankfully it's a three day weekend in the US, so I am very much looking forward catching up on my sleep and getting back into going to the gym. I feel so lumpy at the moment. It's hard to believe that less than 6months ago I used to work out 5 or 6 times a week. No joke!! Recently I've been lucky to get to the gym once a week, but I'm hoping to change all that starting this weekend. I survived cardio kickbox class earlier today and plan to make yoga tomorrow morning and Pilates on Sunday. Wish me luck!!

Other than working out I have a lot of movie going and catching up with friends planned for the weekend. I'm movie mad at the moment, I think it's partially to do with trying to keep my spending down as much as possible until I fully recover from the expense of Christmas and also wanting to catch as many movies as I can before the Oscars on February 24th. Tomorrow my friend Lauren and I are going to see "The Savages" - I love Laura Linney - a movie about a pair of siblings facing "the realities of familial responsibility as they begin to care for their ailing father", that's according to IMDB anyway, and then on Monday I have a ticket for "Taxi To The Dark Side" at the Angelika cinema downtown. I was dithering between that and "No Country For Old Men" which has had rave reviews, I hear Javier Bardem is excellent in it, he's also a one man testament to the power of a good haircut....

Exhibit A M'lud: Eeeeeek. Run away, run away

Exhibit B: A definite improvement, but a bit heavy on the footie player chic a la David Ginola circa 1997

Exhibit C: Whoa, I wouldn’t say no, would you? Phew….fanning self…throw some iced water on me quickly please!! No wonder Penelope Cruz is allegedly smitten.

Case closed!!

Unfortunately I had second thoughts about seeing the film whilst listening to a review by James King on Radio1 today when he described the film as being "punctured by moments of extreme violence." Oo-er!! I think I'm probably of a far too squeamish disposition to sit through it after hearing that, especially after my
Eastern Promises experience, so instead I'm going to see a documentary; a documentary about the death of a civilian Afghan taxi driver at the hands of United States soldiers, a film that also "takes an unflinching and often disturbing look at the Bush administration’s torture policy."

Obviously I'm going for a movie with a feel good factor!!!

I really don't know what I was thinking when I bought the ticket. Something tells me I could be potentially spending a lot of time with my hands over my eyes at the Angelika on Monday. Probably not the wisest movie choice for me, but then again it does me good to have my eyes opened to what's really going on in the world and I thought looked interesting when I saw a trailer for it before the screening of Persepolis (excellent movie) last weekend. Maybe I'll balance things out by catching a showing of 'Enchanted' afterwards ;-)

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

It's got a touch of the Roy Orbison's

No, not new cockney rhyming slang, but a reference to this gorgeous song by Richard Hawley. Wouldn't you agree it's reminiscent of ol' Roy? I love it, it's from the fab Lady's Bridge album!!

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Billy No Mates

I didn’t do much to speak of this weekend. I was supposed to go to another one of Rafael Risemberg’s Chelsea gallery tours on Saturday, but on the way there I had an argument over something and nothing with my friend Sara and we ended up cancelling our plans as we were both really mad at each other. Thankfully we’ve since patched things up.

As a result of the row I ended up spending Saturday night at home kicking myself for my stubborn stupidity and not making up with Sara there and then and admiring Daniel Craig in Layer Cake that I’d recorded from BBC America last weekend. No snuggling on the sofa with Tel Aviv I’m afraid, he’s taking some time to 'think things over' which I sadly feel doesn’t bode so well for us, but……c’est la vie.

At least financially there was a silver lining to my fight with Sara. I always feel a bit skint in January don’t you? It’s all the Christmas shopping and socialising that does it, so it didn’t hurt that instead of spending $15 on the gallery tour; $30ish on dinner with a glass of wine and maybe another $12 on a post dinner drink, I headed home, picking up an $8 bottle of Chilean cabernet sauvignon along the way – Concho y toro’s Casillero Del Diablo cab sauv, not bad for the price. Not as good as their Marques Casa Concha Cab Sauv, but decent enough – and micro-waved half a bag of Trader Joe’s chicken fried rice that I found in the back of the freezer for dinner and spent a cheap evening at home with Mr. Craig.

What do you think to Daniel? Do you like him? Looks wise I don’t think he’s that hot to be honest, but he does have something about him, and he makes a believable Bond, if that’s not an oxymoron. Pierce was always a bit too skinny for my tastes; Connery’s still very hard to beat in my opinion, but Daniel does a good job and he has an amazingly buff bod - Phew!! It’s suddenly quite hot in here eh - although I do have to agree with Jonathon Ross that he does have the look of a young Sid James about him. See above left photo if you didn’t spend your impressionable years watching Carry On films.

As far as today was concerned I ventured out of my apartment to Pilates class – I seriously need to flatten my Christmas belly, my abs are killing me now – and then headed downtown to catch an early showing of
Persepolis at the Angelika theatre on Houston St.

I loved this movie, in fact not even the bobbing head of the woman two seats in front of me who kept partially obscuring the subtitles from my view - the seats are pitched terribly in the Angelika theatres, being petite I tend to have to choose in an aisle seat and lean out to see around the tall person who inevitably sits in front of me. Unfortunately it didn't work out this time as the woman in front of me (who I 'd specifically chosen to sit behind because she was also petite and wouldn't obscure my view) was already leaning out to see around bobbing head directly in front of her - could spoil my enjoyment of this film. It’s been getting deservedly great reviews and I also hear it has some Oscar buzz. It’s adapted from the autobiographical novel of Marjane Satrapi, also the co-director, and is a coming of age story of a forthright Iranian girl which begins during the 1979 Iranian revolution. It’s a fantastic film, funny, heart warming, poignant, I could go on with the superlatives, but just see it okay, you won't regret it. It's also a refreshing 1hour 35minutes long, which I think is a good thing. I'm not a huge fan of the 2+hour movie trend of the last few years. I really don't mind a longer movie if it's warranted, but so many of them seem to have a good 20minutes of unnecessary padding. Fortunately this one was perfect.

After the film I popped into the nearest Ricky’s, took a deep breath and headed confidently into the back goodies room to buy decorative items for a bridal shower I’m going to in a couple of weeks. These were of course phallic decorative items, you know the stuff: penis shaped candles, penis straws, penis tiaras, penis confetti, penis pasta, you name it if it was plastic fashioned into the shape of a penis I bought it. It was a very classy shopping spree. Personally I don't quite see the fascination with giggling over plastic todger shaped items, but to each her own. I suppose it's somewhat traditional. Actually this was another big disadvantage to having a row with Sara on Saturday, as I was kind of hoping to drag her along with me for support during the phallic spending spree, sort of a cultural yin to the art gallery tour’s yang, but instead I had to go it alone. I was like the John Rambo of pervy purchasing!! Weeeeellllll okay, not really like Rambo at all, he was just on my mind as a trailer popped up on the TV for the new movie. I really can’t believe that got made can you? I certainly won't be forking over $11 for the pleasure.

Anyway as I mentioned the purchases are for a bridal shower I'm going to in a couple of weeks, Ash’s bridal shower before her March 28th wedding to her Italian fiance. Seven of us who travel together on occasion are having a weekend celebration at the Princeton home of one of the women. There’s been quite a run on weddings with this group in the last couple of years – in fact Susan and I are the only two that aren’t married and she’s engaged, so I guess she is next in line for the treatment – so I feel like I’ve attended quite a few of these parties, which other than the decorations also include a trip to the spa and making the bride to be squirm with a Mr & Mrs style drinking game. Basically we secretly email the groom a list of 30 or so questions which he answers and sends back to us. Then, at the party, we take turns asking the bride the questions and for each one she gets wrong she has to drink. If she should get the answer right the one asking the questions has to drink. As you can imagine this usually ends up with us all getting completely trollied, especially the bride, but it’s a lot of fun and usually worth the resulting hangover, although it tends to negate the beautification effects of the spa treatments.

Anyway on that note I shall love you and leave you in favour of an early night, I have a hectic work week pending. Sleep well kids. Fish x

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Random Gubbins

I’m ‘it’ apparently – thanks Flowers. I don’t usually do memes, in fact let me rephrase that, I NEVER do memes because half the time they require too much thinking, but what the heck!! This meme is also for Amel who has tagged me regularly and continues to have faith, despite my proven laziness when it comes to these things. Here goes:

1. I have an irrational fear of walking by people who’ve picked up after their dogs in New York. You know the ones; they’re carrying little bags of poop. I always worry they’ll have some sort of full body spasm and throw poop at me and who needs that. I’ve been known to cross the street to avoid them.

2. I walk easily, and quite quickly, in 3+ inch heels. I firmly believe this a genetic trait…nooooo, not from my father, well…not that I’m aware of. Ugh, perish the thought!!

3. I believe I would go insane if I didn’t live within a reasonable proximity to a big city.

4. I HAVE to be coordinated. If I am dressed in brown tones and my watch has a black strap it niggles me. Ditto on wearing non-matching underwear, I don’t know why, but it HAS to match, even if no-one is going to see it. To this end I have a list of outfits that work pinned next to my mirror at home to avoid those ‘Oh f**k what am I going to wear today’ moments. It works kids, make a list and never have a bad outfit day EVER AGAIN!!! Don’t tell people though, they’ll label you anal retentive. B'stards!!

5. Unsurprisingly, given the above point, I’m an ISTJ on those Myers Briggs tests. Apparently list making is a characteristic of being a J. According to some random blurb I read online ISTJ females are one of two most overrepresented female types in a substance abuse program. Hmmmm!!!

6. I can still do a cartwheel, and I’ll be 37 (sob) this year kids. Not bad going I think.

7. At the moment I’m quite addicted to spinach, roasted tomato, feta and egg breakfast wraps from Starbucks, 240 calories of pure deliciousness.

I'm not going to tag anyone, but feel free to do the meme should that be your want :-)

Monday, 7 January 2008

Decisions decisions

I don’t know about you, but when I’m in a fairly new relationship, the first time I spend a significant amount of time away from the guy I’m seeing – say the two weeks over Christmas – I can’t help but wonder what the impact might be on the relationship. Will it be a case of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ or more ‘out of sight, out of mind’? Even when the relationship is seemingly going well I can’t help but wonder, especially when I have too much time on my hands as I did when I was at my parents. I’m my own worst enemy, but I can’t help it, my mind just whirls of its own accord…

Most of the time I'm nagged by the feeling that he might be having second thoughts about us, but once the paranoia starts all sorts of ridiculous things creep in, most likely due to the unpleasant behaviour of some of my ex-boyfriends...could he have fallen for someone else? Or perhaps he’s off comforting Cameron Diaz after her recent break up with um…well, whoever-Cameron-Diaz-is-dating-these-days? Where relationships are concerned I can't help but be a bit 'glass is half empty'. It's probably a self protection thing to prepare myself for the worst.

Interjecting for a moment on my insanity I have to say that Tel Aviv - fine upstanding chap that he is - has NEVER given me any cause for such worries, but I’m not one to let a little thing like reality get in the way of enjoying a ride on the emotional rollercoaster. Oh no, not on your Nelly!! I’m what you’d call a worrier you see; it’s just in my nature, we Geminis, we’re ruled by our nervous system. I worry about everything. I even worry when I've nothing to worry about; I tend to have a nagging feeling that I must have missed something. Oh and I also worry that I’ll get worry lines from the stress of all the worrying!!

Surprisingly there isn't a history of mental illness in the family and despite a few insecure niggles I’m actually a firm believer that there’s no point in worrying but that's easier said than done, and having not seen Tel Aviv for over two weeks over Christmas it was with trepidation that I opened an email from him on New Years Day. An email which began “while you were away I had some time to think about our relationship …”

Uh-oh!! I knew IT. Cameron Diaz has him in her clutches. That witch!!

“…and I think I’m falling for you”

Gosh, really? Wow!! Hurrah!!! I completely forgive the indiscretion with Cameron!!

“…I’m planning at some point to return to Israel. I fought for it and therefore I would like to return and raise my family there and I just don’t want to waste your time if that’s not an option for you”

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!! Fuuuuuuuu………………!!!!!


Talk about mixed emotions!!

Anyway as he said its early days in the relationship, so it’s all contingent on whether we succeed as a couple, but I do appreciate his honesty, there’s never really a good time to mention these things and I can’t say the notion didn’t occur to me when we first started seeing each other, but I like Tel Aviv very much, so recently I’ve been pondering; could I do it, could I live in Israel?


I’m not sure!!

I don’t know!!

I’m not dead set against the idea, I like Tel Aviv enough to continue with this relationship and see where it goes, but it’s a lot to think about, it’s going to take more than a few days to consider, but the obvious difficulties of moving to a foreign country immediately spring to mind, the language barrier for example. I only know four Hebrew words: layla and tov, which put together mean goodnight; nu, which means come on, as in hurry up, at least that’s the context which Tel Aviv uses it with me. When he’s hungry he uses it in triplicate, ‘nu nu nuuuuuuuuu!!!!!!’ and then there’s chutini, which is the Hebrew word for thong, as in the underwear as opposed to the footwear, well actually maybe it applies to both; I’m not sure. My mother was slightly appalled that I knew this. I know, I shouldn’t have mentioned it, but I couldn’t help it, I was drinking cabernet sauvignon and it just sort of came up in conversation.

“Normal people would know the words for ‘hello’ or perhaps ‘my name is so and so’, but not you, oh no, YOU…you know the Hebrew word for g-string, how charming!!”

Well you’ve got to start somewhere when learning a new language eh.

The other concern I’d have is what would I do for a job in Israel? If possible it would probably have to be an English speaking position, because I doubt I’ll be fluent in Hebrew anytime soon. I have terrible trouble rolling my R’s. R’s, I said R’s, not…oh never mind.

Hmmm!! Jobs, jobs, jobs!!

Oooooh…….I know, I’ll sell the movie rights to my blog, naturally for millions, and live a life of luxury by the beach in Tel Aviv. Hey, it’s possible. After all major studios have expressed an interest…

…It’s true!!

Well okay, I’ll admit that technically I haven’t exactly been approached. Not directly, but according to my Google Analytics tracking someone from Twentieth Century Fox spent a whole 2minutes and 3 seconds perusing 2pages of my blog just before Christmas, obviously looking for movie fodder, so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before that knock on my door and there’s Richard Curtis with a big cheque. Yup, my life is just begging to be made into a movie, because not is there only the initial film which will be about………erm………(furrowed brow)………well, whatever, there’s also a follow up which would be called…can you guess???

Go on have a wild stab in the dark?

Yesssss!! That’s right…



Or FOOW as the studio would refer to it during production. FOOW would, of course, chart my - often comedic - attempts to come to terms with life in the Middle East. Kristin Scott Thomas could play me. Actually Kristin’s a bit posh to play me, but I’ve been told by 4 or 5 people – on independent occasions I might add - that I look like her, so who am I to quibble. I don’t see it myself, but if you stand 100yards away and look at me through your eyelashes I’ll admit there might be a passing resemblance.

Phew. Sorted!!

That was easy. I’m good at this; I should be a life coach.

Obviously I'm being silly, but joking aside I have a lot of thinking to do. There’s nothing like a relationship dilemma to kick off the New Year in style is there.

Photo of Jerusalem courtesy of Premasagar via Flickr

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Teddy Picker

I was quite disappointed to learn today that, according to, a 'teddy picker' is 'a machine found at carnivals and fun-fairs, where one moves a robotic arm to pick up toys or in this case, a teddy bear.'

Hmmm, I thought it might have had a more interesting meaning, something to do with Teddy Boys perhaps or, as Deb speculated, something to do with Teddy underwear, but no. Ah well, despite having heard the song about a squillion times on the radio, I still think it sounds brilliant!!

Give the video 40seconds to kick in to the song proper!!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Somewhere Delia Smith is breathing a sigh of relief

Well, it’s back to work for me today; it’s nippy in New York at the moment, it was snowing when I got off the subway to work. I love the snow and I’m so used to the coldness of New York now that I find it fairly easy to deal with. It’s a dry cold, so I find that as long as you wear enough layers you’re fine, unlike the damp cold in England that seeps through all your layers and chills you to the bone. Brrrrrr!!!!

Surprisingly, it was lovely and quiet on the trains this morning. Well, relatively quiet. It wasn't 'find-a-seat' quiet, I still had to stand, but it wasn't so sardine like that my nose was lodged in someone's armpit either, which is always a good thing. I imagine a lot of people must be taking the rest of the week off and returning to work on Monday the 8th. Personally I like returning to work after the festivities when it’s a partial week, I find it less pressurized. No-one expects too much of you on the first day the office is open in the New Year. My boss once told me that he didn’t consider these days as part of the proper working week, which is more than okay by me. In fact everyone seems a bit shell-shocked to be back in the office, so it’s ends up being a fairly easy day of checking emails, shuffling a few papers, drinking coffee and catching up with colleagues to find out if they had a good Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa/New Year, by which time 5pm has rolled around and it’s time to go home. Very few people work late on the first day back if the 5pm crush in the lifts is anything to go by.

The rest of the partial week generally continues at much the same pace, gradually building momentum, so that by the time the weekend passes and the first full week begins things are pretty much back to normal. The people who take the partial week off and return to work for the first full week miss out on the opportunity to ease themselves back into work, it’s in at the deep end for them, and as a result they always seem to have that rabbit caught in the headlights look for their first few days back.

Potentially big changes afoot in the office, the dreaded ‘restructuring’ word has been bandied about more often than I care for. These are covering your arse times and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my so called career recently. I’m still not entirely sure I know what I want to do when I grow up, but there’s a question mark over whether I want to continue working in marketing. I’ll have to ponder it a bit longer.

I certainly won’t be giving up my day job to become a chef that’s for sure. I made the
New Covent Garden carrot and coriander (cilantro in the US) soup sans coriander yesterday as planned and I have to say it was delicious and a very easy recipe too. I was quite surprised by how good it was, because I’m not what you’d call naturally gifted in the kitchen and as a rule I don’t tend to cook, not that I order in all the time either as many people assume is the case if you live in New York. It’s too expensive to do that on a regular basis and I’d much rather put my disposable income towards footwear, no, what I tend to do is assemble meals from ready prepared ingredients purchased from the likes of Wholefoods or Trader Joes. I’d give my eye teeth for an M&S food hall, although since that’s unlikely I’m quite excited by the fact that Tesco has branched out to L.A., hopefully a New York store is on the cards. I’d be happy with a Tesco, I love their ‘Finest’ range, but then UK supermarkets seem to be so much more accomplished at ready meals than the ones I’ve come across in the US. Hmmm. Clearly that doesn’t say a lot for the state of home cooking in Britain.

Funnily enough despite the fact that I don’t cook, I LOVE cookbooks, I have a whole pile of them at my apartment, purchased with the best intentions of actually using them. I never do, but I do enjoy looking at the photos, I don’t see the logic behind a cookbook without photos. I need to be able to drool over glossy photos of perfectly prepared food. Cookbooks are my porn.

“That’s cooking” exclaimed Megan, pastry chef extraordinaire, when I told her of my assembly approach to meals. Bless her heart. I appreciate the support, but I beg to differ that it could be classified as cooking. My method of food preparation is as akin to actual cookery as Ikea is to fine furniture, not the most beautiful or well made, but it gets the job done.

However the carrot sans coriander soup went well and I was actually quite impressed by my efforts. The recipe was actually quite straightforward and I was patting myself on the back at not making too much of a mess in my tiny Manhattan kitchen. Usually when I cook it looks like a food parcel has exploded. I blame it on my limited counter space, and when I say limited I am not exaggerating. My counter is exactly 18 by 24inches. It’s titchy!!! Forget all those movies you see where the characters always have ginormous kitchens in their humungous loft apartments, they’re as close to reality as sugar plum fairies. My entire kitchen is exactly 7ft by 9ft, which actually doesn’t sound THAT tiny, but believe me, there isn’t any room for cat swinging, especially when you factor in the size of American appliances. You should see the size of my fridge and cooker, they’re suitable for feeding a family of 20. Erm…hello New York apartment developers, pay attention, European sized appliances would be so much more appropriate in our tiny apartments!! Sigh!! Oh and God forbid there should be room for a washing machine among my giant appliances – seriously they’re all so big I feel as if I’m in Jack and The Beanstalk sometimes. Actually it’s probably best not to let me get started on the fact that there’s no washer and I have to pigging heft my stuff to the laundrette of a weekend. Pht!!

Anyway, back to the soup. It was all going marvellously; I should have realised things would take a disastrous turn given my history in the kitchen, but I was too busy patting myself on the back for a job well done, pride, fall and all that. I’d gently cooked the finely sliced onion and crushed garlic clove – ready chopped from a jar, life is too short, my knife skills limited and my fingers too precious, for me to be finely slicing garlic – in butter, taking care not to let them brown. I’d added vegetable broth - from a carton of course, the recipe suggested I make my own ha ha ha!! - and chucked in the roughly chopped carrots and a pinch of nutmeg, that was something else I forgot to buy at Agata & Valentina, but I checked the back of the top cupboard and lo and behold I found a sealed jar of them tucked that must have been there at least 2years – the last time I decided to cook. The ones in the middle had a fluffy covering of mould on them that caused me some hesitation, but I thoroughly checked the top one for spores and it looked okay, so I took a risk (hey, it’s penicillin) and grated a bit to add to the mix. It was the piece de resistance in my opinion; a little nutmeg goes a long way

So, all was well until I arrived at the point where the carrots were cooked and I needed to puree the soup prior to returning it to a clean saucepan, adding a touch of seasoning, heavy cream and a handful of grated carrot for ‘texture’ and voila, nutritious homemade soup for one.

I took the soup off the heat, plugged in the hand blender, stuck it into a pan and switched it on.

Big mistake!!

You’d really think they’d mention the high splatter risk on the instructions of the Braun Multiquick hand blender!! Droplets of piping hot soup went EVERYWHERE, including the bare flesh of my arms!!


Not fun.

So what did I get in return for my culinary efforts??? Burns!!! Oh and a few stubborn bits of carrot that are still stuck to my kitchen tiles having resisted my attempts at removal with fresh scented Clorox disinfected wipes. Clearly I need something a bit stronger for removing errant root vegetables.

Nevertheless the soup was delicious (who needs coriander), but I won’t be risking life and limb to make it again. I’m off to Wholefoods tonight.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

I ate all the pies!!

Well, first things first, a Happy New Year to you, and all the best to you and yours for 2008, I hope it turns out to be a good one!! I also hope you had a lovely time over the festive period. I certainly did, although I was a lazy ol’ wench. My arse barely left the sofa over the last 2 weeks. I had such good intentions too, I planned to keep up with my blog; catch up with other bloggers, update my CV – impending redundancies at work and all that – and do some exercise – I took my Pilates DVD home and everything - but pretty much my only achievements of Christmas 2007 were catching up on British telly, reruns of Carry On films largely on UKTV Gold, some of which I hadn’t seen in over 20years - finally I get all the saucy jokes - and that series with Billie Piper, the one that’s based on Belle Du Jour’s blog and books – and eating my own body weight in chocolate. Oh and drinking wine. Lots and lots and lots of wine!! We definitely got in touch with the French aspect of our family’s ancestry this Christmas. Phew!!! Not that we were drunk every night, but we certainly enjoyed a few bottles with dinner. Usually I’m more of a weekly wine drinker, so after 10days quaffing Chilean wine in November and 14 straight days enjoying a cheeky one or two with dinner while in England my poor liver is feeling a bit shrivelled. It deserves a break, so I’ve decided to follow the example of my good friend Nick and give up the booze as my New Year’s resolution. Yup, I’m off the sauce; well, for a month anyway. What? You didn’t think I was giving it up for good did you? Ha, I should cocoa.

Actually, if we’re getting nit picky about the whole thing I’m only giving it up until the 25th January. Not quite a whole month, but better than nothing. Hey, don’t give me that look, I have a good reason for breaking my resolution that day, I have a girls’ get together to celebrate the impending nuptials of Ash, who is having a March wedding to her sexy Italian fiancĂ©, and even though the celebrations will be distinctly more spa day than boozy hen party there is no WAY the girls will let me get away with toasting the bride to be with a sip of San Pellegrino, so what am I to do? I’ll just have to grit my teeth and force a drink down, purely for Ash of course. I’m such a good friend. Ahem ;-)

Anyway it’s good to be back in New York where I can actually afford to eat. England was fun, but EXPENSIVE. My God, I’m practically bankrupt and I didn’t even buy anything to speak of. I’m not a big shopper these days, too much of a good thing as a youngster got shopping out of my system, but that being said I usually enjoy a stroll down Oxford St while I’m over there for a rummage around Top Shop and to stock up on nice knicker sets from M&S – I’m one of those matching sets types, should I ever be hit by a bus, I will never be shamed by non-matching undies - but this year there was no joy to be had in retail therapy, in fact it was downright depressing to find that, even with prices slashed by 50%, everything was still twice as much as I’d pay in New York. Sigh. Even stopping for a sandwich was pricey, I went in this cute little place on Beak St, Fernandez and Wells I think it was called and had a very nice ham sandwich – I’ve completely given up on the vegetarian thing - and a cappuccino and it cost me $14! $14!!!! Fortunately I didn’t spend as much on hitting the town with friends as I usually would since a fair few of them have moved on to the next stage of their lives and are now resplendent in the suburbs with wee ones too look after, so I was out to their places for copious cups of tea to meet the new additions. Although Nick and I did squeeze in a lovely visit to ‘Europe’s longest champagne bar’ (over 90metres, 300feet or thereabouts) at the newly revamped
St Pancras Station – his little one is not due until February - new home of the Eurostar trains to Paris et al and very nice it is too, although I was a bit disappointed to see a Pain Quotidien – a chain of Belgian lunch spots, which are EVERYWHERE in New York – on the lower concourse, since I’m pretty sure that means they’ll soon be as prevalent in London as they are over here. Sigh!! I’m a bit anti-globalisation that way. One of the fun things of visiting another city for me is being able to experience different shops and restaurants, but these days everywhere is starting to look scarily the same. Shops wise the UK and the US already have Reiss, Zara, The Gap, Warehouse, French Connection in common to reel just five off the top of my head, and don’t get me started on Starbucks, although at least in England Starbucks has some competition from the likes of CafĂ© Nero and Costa Coffee. Btw if there are any Americans reading can you believe that a tall latte in Starbucks in Leeds cost me over £3? That’s SIX DOLLARS for the smallest latte they sell, I think it was $8 for a grande!! Scandalous!! Oh and while I’m on the subject I absolutely hated the fact that Starbucks had infiltrated Santiago, although not to the same level as they have the UK and the US, well…not yet anyway. I’m sure they will expand over there soon and I’m am soooooo sick of them and their over priced, over roasted coffee. In fact I think my other New Year’s resolution will be to regularly support my small local latte provider from now on.

Whoo that was a bit of an unexpected rant wasn’t it? Pardon my anti-globalization diatribe; let’s get back to talking about the champagne bar which is lovely, although a bit brass monkeys in December. Brrrrr!!! If I had bollocks they would have surely been frozen off as Nick and I sat and sipped our two glasses of Ruinart Blanc de Blanc NV champers – mmm mmm mmmmm!!!! Deeee-licious!! Yes, it was cold, but not so frigid that I turned down a second glass of champagne. I’m not crazy!! ;-)

Here’s a photo of the champagne bar, its over 300feet long and, as I said, it’s supposedly Europe’s longest – and possibly coldest - and runs right along the platform for the Eurostar. It’s nice right? As usual the photo isn’t my doing but courtesy of nickdillon via Flickr. My camera isn’t working at the moment and even if it was I’d probably forget to take it. I need to be better at remembering to carry it around, when it’s sorted out of course.

So, did you do anything exciting to celebrate New Years Eve? I had marvellous time: I caught up on my DVR, sewed a button on a pair of trousers, unpacked my suitcase and then snuggled up in bed with Kate Atkinson’s ‘One Good Turn’ for half an hour – a cracking good read so far, an absolute page turner. What a night eh? Whoo hoo!! Don’t tell me I don’t know how to live it up as a single girl in one of the world’s most exciting cities ;-)

Besides, I’m not sure whether I’m coming down with a cold or whether it’s just the result of travelling, but I ache all over. My arms, shoulders and lower back are understandably sore from hefting suitcases - a massage would go down a treat right now - but why my inner thighs hurt is a complete mystery….and nooooo, I did not join the mile high club on the flight. Honestly, minds in the gutter, I knew your brains would go there you mucky buggers….nope, it certainly wasn’t that. It must have been the walnuts I was cracking!! Ha ha!!

Still, I did give small pause to trying to sort something out to celebrate the arrival of 2008 while I was in England and texted Tel Aviv to see what he had planned – away with the guys in New Hampshire and not sure he would be back in New York - but then it occurred to me that since I was used to going to bed at 2 or 3am in England, which is only 9-10pm New York time, I probably didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of staying awake until midnight, so I decided not to expend the energy needed to scramble around and find something to do and instead planned to stay home and not drink – I do so enjoy that smug feeling of being hangover free on New Year’s Day as I pass by my pasty looking neighbours clutching bottles of Gatorade ha ha – and nudged my non-drinking resolution forward a few days – I’ve been 100% teetotal since 29th December, what an achievement ;-)

Speaking of bedtime, my mother was none too thrilled about me staying up until the small hours and getting up at 10.30am while I was up at my parents place in Yorkshire. If she’d had her way I’d have been up at 8am every morning, and no doubt on the first train into Leeds clutching a list of groceries she needed me to pick up from Marks & Spencer. For some reason she feels it’s better for me to try and be on local time while I’m there, logic that is completely lost on me given I’m only in England for a couple of weeks and it’s not as if I have to get up and go to work while I’m over there. It feels like a waste of time to fully acclimatize to British time only to have to reacclimatize myself back to New York time 2weeks later. She’d be appalled to hear that sometimes, when I stay over at Tel Aviv’s on weekends, I don’t tumble out of bed until close to 11am.

Not that I ever manage to get a decent night’s sleep while I was at my parents. It’s the snoring you see, it’s unbelievable!! I’d be sat downstairs watching TV in the living room after they’d gone to bed and I’d hear them snoring in the rooms above. They both snore so loudly they can’t sleep in the same room, although they’re optimistic enough that they’ll go to bed in the same room and then half and hour later I’ll hear one of them get up to go and sleep in the spare room, the one that used to be my sister’s room, the one with the thin walls that adjoins the room I sleep in. Aaaaarggggghhhhh!!!! It’s dreadful, I really hope it’s not a hereditary trait*. I can’t sleep for the noise when I’m in the next room, and the only way I can manage to get any sleep is to stay up so late that I’m so exhausted I’m on the verge of insanity and then it’s not so much falling asleep as lapsing into blissful unconsciousness. It’s no wonder I drank so much wine.

Anyway as for today, I’m not planning to do much since the rain is bouncing off the road outside. I was thinking of seeing a film, that Daniel Day Lewis film looks good, but when I met Melissa for a coffee yesterday she told me it’s only showing at one theatre in New York right now, so maybe I’ll just stay home, finish my Kate Atkinson book and whip up some soup or something – I found a recipe for my favourite New Covent Garden soup, carrot and coriander, on the internet recently. Unfortunately you can’t buy their soups over here, and I’ve been craving it, so I went out and braved the scrum of upper east side snots in Agata and Valentina yesterday and bought all the necessary ingredients, except when I got home I realised I’d forgotten the coriander, duh, so it’ll just be carrot soup, but hopefully it will still be tasty. Anyway I’m going to go now, because I’m rambling about soup, but I shall love you and leave you with this lovely photo, courtesy of Drift Words via Flickr, of the gorgeous Victoria Quarter in Leeds getting its Christmas on.

*Tel Aviv has occasionally teased me that I snore, but I believe it only happens if I have a bit of a cold and even then I don’t think it could be anywhere close to the freight train levels that emit from my parents. I really hope not anyway, because having experienced my parents' snoring I can completely understand how someone might resort to murder out of sheer insomnia induced frustration.