Archive for March, 2008

Happy Easter Everyone!

Easter this year is supposed to make up for last Christmas. My brother was sick then, and we couldn’t get the whole family together, because my aunt and uncle were hosting the dinner, and they had the in-laws over from England as well. So we’re hoping to get the whole clan together today. The problem is though, that the weather is atrocious with snow and icy rain and gales predicted, so the family gathering might not happen yet again.

But in case it does happen, I’ve made banana bread and scones… Yum! So I decided to give you my recipe. I use metric, so you may need to convert into imperial, and I’m too lazy this morning to do it.

Banana Bread (please note there’s no added sugar in this recipe… it doesn’t need it)

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 125g butter or margarine
  • 4 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 bespeckled bananas that have been frozen and defrosted (just stick bananas in the freezer when they start going off, then when you have a few, defrost them, see how they’ve gone black and almost liquid, and bake)
  • 3 heaped tbsp quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 1 heaped tbsp crushed flax seed
  • 1 heaped tbsp (wheat)bran
  • 75-100g chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
  • handful of chopped or sliced almonds
  • handful of chopped pecans

Heat oven to 160C. Grease and dust a 10x30cm approx. loaf pan.While oven is heating, mix dry ingredients in a bowl and wet ingredients in another. You can use a mixer to quickly beat the eggs, bananas and butter together to a smooth mix. Then stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones, pour into loaf pan and stick in the oven for 45 mins to 1 hour. Check whether the loaf is done by sticking a toothpick in. If it comes out clean (or just with melted chocolate on it), take it out and leave to cool. Enjoy!

Scones

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 50g butter
  • 25g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • some milk (you add a little as you go)
  • 50g raisins or dried fruit (optional)

Heat oven to 220C. Beat the egg in a cup with a splash of milk. In a bowl, mix flour, salt and sugar. Rub in butter until you have a dry flaky texture. Add the milk and egg mix, and fold it in a little. Add raisins and knead dough to a ball. The ball should be a little sticky. If it’s not, add a splash of milk, and knead some more.

Dust a flat surface with flour, and carefully roll out the ball of dough until you have a sheet around 2cm thick. Punch  out circles of about 5-7 cm in diameter (use a cup or glass) and reshape for maximum yield (I get 6 scones out of this). Dab a little milk on the top of each scone and put them on a cookie tray. They go in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the top goes a nice golden colour. Leave to cool a little and enjoy with some butter, clotted cream and/or jam!

Want, need, get, have, love

About eight months ago, my ipod quit on me, outside warranty. At that time I was getting ready for a 4 month (frequently camping, back to basics) trip to Canada, so I decided against getting a new one right away, since it wasn’t going to do me much good. Instead, I picked up a cheap potable mp3CD-player, and asked my family and friends to fill up a CD with mp3s they like. I have a solar-powered battery charger, so I could pretty much always have music.

When I got back early November, I didn’t have the money to get a new one right away. It didn’t really matter, though, since I was almost too busy to listen to any music. But the last few weeks, I really started to miss my ipod. The compactness, the fact it can carry all my music, and I can play whatever I like and not be dragging around a pack of Cd’s. I am a fan of portable music libraries. So I got to the point of want.

But, being a student not wanting to go too much into debt, I have a system of buying, well, pretty much anything, based on need and want. Basically, it’s a short series of questions I ask myself whenever I pick anything up from a shelf. It goes like this:

  1. Do I want it?
  2. Do I need it?
  3. Do I need it today?

See? Simple. Only if all three questions are answered affirmatively, do I buy the ipod/pack of biscuits/cauliflower/pen/… Now, there are always times You want something and don’t need it, but still really want it, or suddenly find yourself going out to dinner with friends. I set aside some money for these things each month, and this works.

Now, back to the ipod. I was at Want. But an ipod is expensive, in my book at least. It’s about 3 months of  fun money, and I can’t miss out on social activities just because I want to be able to stick headphones on my ears and listen to music as I go about the mundane things in my day. So a long-term want it stayed, even though by now I wanted it bad.

But then I took off for the week and took my portable CD player with me. Two things stood out for me, that should have been obvious to me earlier, but I had been a bit stressed, and missed: Music, especially through earphones, makes me happy; and portable CD players are a hassle.

In short, what I realised was that the ipod is at this point in my life a necessity, because it really keeps my spirits up, and doing that has been a little hard over the last few months. It’s a Need.

Of course, I told myself I didn’t need it right away (money, money, money -it’s not like I don’t have enough to buy the thing, but I always like to save up and then make up my mind about what I spend it on). But then I had a really interesting class (on Philosophy in Psychiatric Treatment, an elective I’m taking), in which we explored our own motives for doing and not doing things, and how we sometimes harm ourselves by not creating the circumstances in which we can work to the very best of our abilities.

Hmm… I’ve been having a hard time staying positive and focused. Music makes me more productive. But I’m not listeningto any, because the CD player is too big to just stick in my pocket. That’s not exactly creating the best circumstances for yourself, is it? So I decided I Needed it Today.

There’s a big electronics store on the way from the medical school back to my house, and last Monday, immediately after said class ended, I went to the store and Got myself a new ipod.

So now I Have an ipod again. And you know what? I’ve had a great week. I’ve read more, felt more relaxed, slept better, and got more things done in generally.

Verdict: Good choice. I Love that I made it.

If I were Queen of the World

In the world of online dating, I got an email from a guy who asked me what 3 actions I would take if I were king of the world. I told him I don’t know, since I would be Queen of the World.

Yah, not that interesting, and I was snippy, I know, but it did get me thinking. What things would make the world a better place for all of us to live in? And would these changes be possible without wars being fought?

One thing I’d like to see is a better distribution of wealth, whether it be monetary, intellectual, in healthcare or otherwise. But how do you get people who have plenty to live with less, without bloodshed? It’s scary to not have what you once had, or it’s at least scary to think about. Once it actually happens, usually we adapt and are just fine after a while. But the prospect is just so damn scary. And wars will be waged over fear, as we can all see in the world today.

Also, I’d like all people to be hopeful, because I think hope inspires and motivates people to create change for the better. I also believe that an active role in change, rather than experiencing it, makes you feel much better about it, and makes the improvement more valuable. Although I’m not at all religious, I do believe in the old adage that prayer should be a lot harder on the soles of your shoes than on your knees. Get involved, people (and by people, I also mean me)! Do something you care about to make the world a better place, even if it’s just a small chat with your next door neighbour.

On the other hand, be sure to let other people do what they feel passionate about. Even if you don’t. Even if you oppose their viewpoint with just as much passion. Different people have different values, and that’s okay, as long as nobody gets hurt because of them. I have to practice this on an almost daily basis with my dad. On the political spectrum, we are pretty much polar opposites: he’s pro-life, and I’m pro-choice. I believe there’s plenty of room for people from all cultures to live together, he believes he shouldn’t be confronted with them every day. He’s right-wing, I’m left-wing. He mainly expects the worst from people, where I expect people at least try to do the best they can. But most of his opinions are not actually hurting anyone, they’re just opinions. And people have different ones. And without all the different opinions, we could never find all the creative solutions for so many problems. But it’s very hard to disagree on some of the core values that matter most, with someone you love.

These are three things I think are important, but there are many, many, many more. I thought I’d limit myself to three for now. Anyone else have things they’d like to see changed in the world?

All the chicks say: we are women

Today is International Womens Day. I’m throwing my mom a surprise belated 50th birthday party/ Amnesty International benefit with around 220 guests.

What are you doing?

Refreshed and Recharged (aka Looooong photo post)

I’ll just describe one of the days I had on the Island Up North by sharing a few pics I took on the 4-hour walk I took. Hope the pics relax you as much as these few days off have relaxed me.

Well, I stepped out the door onto the patio, and this is what I saw: seriously cute hedgehog! Sunbathing! Way to make my day!Sunbathing Hedgehog

Then it was only a few minutes until I was in the middle of this:

Woods

Yay! Woodsyland all around and no-on else in sight or sound! So I wandered around in the wooded area for a while. The last time I was here was two years ago, and the area is still fantastic. Well, it should be, it is a National Park after all.

So after about half an hour of getting myself lost in the woods (not really, I know the area and I had a map with me, just in case), I came to a bit of the woods that I think is really fun: the kids’ hiking trail. They’ve set it up with cool wood carvings in unexpected and sometimes half-hidden places, and it’s up to the kids to find them all. I’ll give you an easy one:

Froggy and Stream

Then I decided that I wanted to see the sea today as well. So off I went, across the fields,

Texel Fields

through the dunes,

Texel Dunes

to the beach. There, the first thing I saw was what resembled a black rock on the soft end of the beach. Upon closer inspection, it seems someone left their shoes. They’re good shoes at that, and they seem to have been there for a while. Here’s the pic.

Abandoned Shoes

Then, along the sea I went a walking…

Just Beachy

And suddenly I found myself all alone:Abandon

So I hurried back up the dune. Why?

And the Storm Rolls In

The storm rolling in, that’s why! So I rushed back to the house and snuggled up in my PJs with a pot of hot tea and my discman (sue me, my ipod is broken). And while sipping my lovely Orange Spice tea, this was the view from the bedroom window:

Hail to the Hail!

And yup, those are hail stones!

So that was my day! Rinse and repeat twice, add in a trip to the swimming pool (with Jacuzzi and waterslides), and you have my beachy trip!

Retraite

I realised yesterday that the next few days are the last days I have off at least until the end of April, so I am heading off to spend them on the coast. The weather may be just as yucky as it is here in the city, but it’s a change of scenery, and it’s a place I love to go especially this time of year, before all the tourists come. I’m staying in a little house with no internets, so I won’t be around here at least until Friday.

What’s not to love about a place right by the sea on one side, the dunes and woods on the other, with hiking and biking trails, and an indoor pool close by to boot?

Anyway, I’m bringing a few books I’ve been meaning to read, and my journal and some good music, to make it even better.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some packing to do.