food

Magic Tea and Dalek Cupcakes (They’re Awesome!)

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I guess blogging, like with anything, there’s a time to know when to break the rules. Today, I am rambling just like I used to.

For starters, sorry again for the gap. Birthday + nasty cough = letting things slide. Not that the cough and the birthday were at the same time, thank goodness. I had one, then the other. And talking of my birthday, see photo below!

1619359_10201331760431486_336652819_nThe Doctor Who decorations and cake kit were a bit of a surprise from my mother. It certainly added a little something to my party, which consisted of four friends and two brothers coming over and all of us stuffing ourselves with pizza then talking geeky stuff until … uh, quite late. Late in my book, anyway. I’m no night owl.

The cough hasn’t been nice. Usually I can stave off colds with what I call my “magic tea”–it’s not magic, just a Chinese herbal tea called Xiasangju Keli. I just have a cup or two when I start getting the sniffles and it clears up–much better than First Defence, which I’ve never liked. I’ve never got a full-on cold since I began drinking it (the time I forgot to drink it aside), though sore throats seem to be something else. Either that or I just didn’t drink enough. Anyway, I’m just coming out of my lack-of-sleep haze enough to be able to write something coherent and hopefully interesting. I’ve spent most of the last few days watching House of Anubis (series two, second time!) and reading Percy Jackson–finished the first series for the second time, and just finished the first in the second, for the first. The two combined have given me some strange dreams and story ideas. I’m itching to write something with weird puzzles and time travel.

Today, for only the second time ever, I did an entry at 750words.com. It would be a very useful site if I remembered to use it more often. I wish I had the gumption to do it every day, but when I look at the little link in my toolbar I think, I dunno what I would write/I feel dry/my brain’s not up to the task, etc. But I managed to get my fingers moving on the keyboard again and spurt out a load of random stuff, some of which I have just re-written for this paragraph! I’m hoping using it will get me back into blogging, and give me more randomness to offer the world.

I’m changing the subject back to the cupcakes, but only because I didn’t want to put this earlier for formatting purposes:

My copy of You is For University, in which “Nutshell” is published, is in the post! Finally I can see my name in print for the first time. And in my final bit of news, I received an offer for someone to translate some of my Doctor Who fanfiction into Russian! I actually got the request a while ago but I’ve just said yes (I thought I had already for ages). I’ve already had a Harry Potter drabble posted in French … does this make my work trilingual? Okay, probably not, since I’m not doing the translating. But still!

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New Title (Again), Apologies

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Hi everyone. I’m sorry if you think I’ve been messing this blog up recently. I tried following lots of people’s advice to improve it, eg:

  • tailor to target audience
  • ‘give’ the readers something
  • use multi media

I tried all that, and I seem to have lost readers along the way, not gained any. So I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been trying too hard and was doing okay before. So I intend to compromise by keeping my rambles, interspersed with other things but I’m not going to fret over posting lots of reviews or anything like that any more.

Right. New start, new blog title. I was never completely happy with ‘The Notebook’, it was just not interesting enough for me, and I tried using a quote from one of my poems and that didn’t work either. But then @AEMarling Tweeted my tagline:

and I got the bright idea of basing my blog title on it. I recently changed the blog theme as well: which do people prefer, this one or the notebook-style one?

So, onto my rambles. I could ramble about the fact that nobody turned up to my class yesterday and I still can’t work out how they all knew it was a reading week and I didn’t. (I checked every page of my notebook, nothing.) Or I could ramble about the fact that I was woken at 11:45 last night by a wrong number. Unfortunately I was too tired to really be much help–like, being able to tell him my phone number to see if he had dialled wrong or not. (I’m guessing he was given the wrong number, since he called four times.) I feel rather guilty because I unplugged the phone, and then later realised that might not be a good idea, replugged it and found it was too late–he’d left a message, probably thinking he’d got it right this time, and turned his phone off.

(I didn’t listen to the message. I don’t even know how to play them, I haven’t figured my landline out yet. My brother knows how to delete them, which is very helpful.) I left a message telling him he’d got me again and what my number was–nothing else I could really do by that point.

ChocolateAll this on top of a long day in London. After discovering my lesson wasn’t on, and that there was no meeting at church that night either, I found I was free to go somewhere I hadn’t been to since I left London. I go into London regularly, and when I do I try and allow time to visit some of my old haunts. (For Harrow, this means The Chocolate Room. For Camden, this means my favourite Japanese restaurant. I haven’t found a favourite place in Uxbridge yet because I only just started going there, but I like it. I don’t really have a favourite place in Hendon–I only hang around there prior to a lesson or tutorial, I find it too busy.) Once place I don’t have the opportunity to visit is Ealing, though I used to go there when I was still in London. It has the biggest Pret a Manger I’ve ever been to, with an upstairs that doesn’t get too busy except at lunchtimes, and I could easily spend hours there writing or reading. So when I suddenly had the day free, I went back. And as much as I enjoyed myself, it was a long day.

So today’s going to be one of those recovery, don’t get much done days. Which is okay by me, since I just got the second series of House of Anubis in the post. (Parts one AND two–since I have a multi-region DVD player, I was able to get the second volume from Amazon.com. No way I’m waiting months on a cliffhanger.)

My resolution this year–yes, just one–was to do something productive every day. Of course, the definition of productive is flexible–it has to be, considering my health. Productive could just mean sorting out a few emails to stop my inbox from re-cluttering up, or making a connection on Twitter. (I’ve just made my first one with someone I do not personally know, which is quite exciting! I’ve been re-tweeted before, but never actually engaged in conversation–mainly because I do not know what to say to a stranger.) Both will be beneficial in the long run. Heck, even fanfiction will be beneficial in the long run, since a readership there = at least some people reading my original work. I would read my favourite fanfiction authors’ books myself if it weren’t for the fact that one is in Hungarian, and the other I’m not even sure if it exists since I heard about it only by rumour.

When in London …

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I have had a posting gap since I’ve been busy this week–with only days to go till I move, I made a to-do list of all the things I wanted to do while I was still in London. Things have been ticked off, crossed off, added, compromised and shuffled around, and I also read a blog post about how to write a successful blog, the main point being needing to do something for your readers.

So I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list, similar to my own list, of things to do in London, in the hope someone will find it useful.

9271a1. See a West End show

This one is a no-brainer, really. Riding an Underground escalator often gives you an idea of the variety available. The official discount ticket booth is situated in Leicester Square and usually sells for a range of popular shows.

Tip: Do your research before you visit London, and see a show that’s not being performed anywhere else.

2. The Royal Museums, Greenwichmz3

My museum of choice would be the observatory, which has interesting and stunning exhibitions and shows all year round. Though as an amateur astronomy I may be slightly prejudiced on this! The Astronomy Photographer of the Year is always worth checking out, some really beautiful images, and the shows put on are clearly communicated to be intelligible to those of us who aren’t experts (yet). I’m looking forward to seeing the Visions of the Universe exhibition starting soon.

CL1to5-13. The Sherlock Holmes Museum

I’m not actually sure I will get to this one; at the moment it’s being held in reserve if something gets cancelled. Since I haven’t been before I’m afraid I can’t comment on it. I can however point you towards the website. If I get to go, I promise I will add a constructive comment.

4. The Chocolate Room, HarrowPicture1

I would have been going here for two years if it had been around that long. The Choc Room is an Australian company who’ve just in the last few months opened their first UK branch in Harrow. They have something like 23 different flavours of hot chocolate, plus coffee, smoothies, milkshakes, waffles, individual chocolates, cakes, etc. I was a bit wary of the 23 flavours initially, expecting the syrups that get put in coffee, but the flavours are much subtler and more delicate. The prices are not low, but worth a try.

Tip: ordering the hot chocolate trio gets you three different flavours in shot glasses, so you can see which ones you like before ordering a ‘cuddle cup’ or ‘warming mug’.

5. The British Museumdownload

I went for the third time yesterday, revisiting my favourite rooms: the ancient civilisations, Egypt, Greece and Rome, and the development of clocks and watches. There are many other rooms but it’s tricky to get to everything; it’s a good idea to prioritise your visit. Also, it’s worth peeking in the bookshop/gift shops first: when I first visited, I discovered a book “Around the British Museum with the Bible”, but only on my way out. I don’t think it’s the only example either. On a related note, there’s a small (free) exhibition currently running till October called Coins and the Bible, which is easy to miss as it’s one small room–worth checking out. It’s on Level 3.

Tip: The Egyptian rooms are very popular and can get pretty crowded–try and plan your route round so you’re there during quieter hours of the day, i.e. when it’s not packed with school trips.

jellyfish-sfSpan-v26. Try a new flavour

London is packed with restaurants from all different cultures, if you’re just visiting, take the opportunity to try something new. Since moving to London I’ve tasted for the first time Japanese (my new favourite!), Lebanese and Persian cuisine, as well as rarer dishes such as jellyfish and wild boar. (Though I still refuse to try sashimi–raw fish.)

To the left is my Pin of the week!

Jellyfish For Breakfast

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Thought for the day: I really wish chefs, when adding an unexpected strong flavour to a dish, would say so on the menu, so I don’t have to spend half an hour picking parsley and chilli out of my Chinese takeaway. It’s even more frustrating when said menu uses a ‘hot’ symbol–on other dishes! It’s discriminatory against sensitive tongues. Even more annoying when it’s specifically requested to be left out.

Rant over.

What is the correct way to spell chilli anyway, is it chilli or chili? Is one version American, or a case of Standard English vs colloquial, or what?

The jellyfish was otherwise good–my mouth did start burning but I managed to get through most of it before that. The flavour’s not too strong, and I like the squishy texture, though I can understand some people wouldn’t. Funny thing was I thought I was trying jellyfish for the first time, but once I saw it I was sure I’ve had it before and just forgotten. What am I like …

I’m not just writing about food today. Although I like discussing food, and can’t believe I haven’t written more about it before now. I’m also writing about art, another new topic for today’s post. I’ve been itching for a couple of weeks to paint again, which I haven’t been able to do–for various reasons–since my A-levels, and though I was never sure I was much good, I really enjoyed it.

When I move I have plans to buy a proper artist’s stand and start painting on canvas when the mood takes me, but I’m not sure I can wait that long! I haven’t done any art or crafts, save literally a couple of cards, since beginning uni. I’m a visual as well as lexical artist and I miss it, I really do.

I was struck with an idea the other day when I added in some description to my Not Alone story draft:

A few weeks ago, the alignment would have been a backdrop to a sparkling skyline—literally sparkling, the materials that formed the city’s architecture were crystallised, throwing rainbows over every surface come sundown. Once upon a time, their mother had said, tourists came from all over the galaxy to see it. Now, it was a pile of wreckage; the once-centrepiece, a thousand-floor luxury hotel skyscraper topped with a twelve-foot diamond, the instrument which had crushed their home when it fell, among hundreds of others.

All right, it’s exposition too. But that’s not the point–the point is it struck me that I wanted to paint the scene (before, though possibly after as well). I’m not certain I could do justice to it, there is a reason I’m pursuing a career in writing rather than illustration, but I want to try. I was also thinking about trying to paint other landscapes for the ‘verse.

I’ve also had some thoughts on illustrating The Caterpillar That Stood On Its Head. I might post a sample image when I’m happy with one–but since it would be most practical to try and get that one published traditionally, that’s all you’ll get.