26 January 2009

Please don't steal this card, it's already stolen

So, things are more or less going well right now. I've been concentrating on getting my readings done, and forming a routine. I've made some new friends as well, so I'm starting to feel gradually more settled.

Saturday I decided to challenge myself and audition for a play. I didn't get the part, but it was a fun experience, and I received some very positive feedback. So I'll keep an eye out for further opportunities and give 'er another shot.

Also went over to my classmate's flat for some Canadian film goodness. She's subletting the funkiest little place right now. Dodgy side of town, but it's in the upstairs of this beautiful old home with big windows and tall ceilings. The decor is very funky with all the rooms painted white with one coloured wall. Lots of art, antique doodads, and crazy furniture - turquoise brocade settee anyone? Gives me lots of ideas of how I'd like to decorate my own home one day.

Oh, and I went grocery shopping at Walmart the other day. Seriously. They have a huge Walmart grocery store that is almost identical to the big Tesco that I used to visit in Glasgow. I went in figuring everything was going to be product of [insert impossibly far away land here] - which is okay for certain things, but not so much for others. Surprisingly, this was not the case. I actually found a lot of closer-to-here produce - Leamington tomatoes even! So, I was suitably impressed. Further investigation is of course required, but this looks like it might be one of my regular haunts.

Finally, I went to make a credit card transaction the other day, and to my surprise my card was declined. Further investigation revealed a whopping $650 charge to some gambling website based out of Dublin... obviously not mine. So, I had to call the credit card company and get that all straightened out. Guess it was only a matter of time... and I'm glad that I make a habit of regularly checking my transactions. Still, not a fun thing to have happen, no matter how painless the procedure is to fix it.

16 January 2009

I have frozen lungsicles!

It is damn cold in London today. The windchill this morning was -32 C. I had to lightly jog (more like shuffle, shuffle, slide) to my bus this afternoon, and I swear my lungs had ice crystals clattering around in them.

I've made it through my first week alright. This is definitely going to be a lot of work (as expected), though some classes are going to be more painful than I thought, and others are going to be less painful than I thought. Either way, there will still be pain... but you know what they say about that.

Pleasant surprise... the whole class appears to be really keen. Usually there are a few you can identify as having to carry... not here. As well, there are a wide variety of backgrounds, so a lot to learn from everybody.

This would appear to be an enriching experience in the making. And I'll re-read that sentence in March when I'm swamped with work, and needing reminded about what possessed me to come back to school. ;)

11 January 2009

"Pack the car and leave this town, who'll notice that I'm not around?"

People from the north country take a masochistic pride in their winter driving abilities. Conditions that would cripple most cities to the south, northerners plough through and call just another day. We complain about the driving conditions, with the full knowledge that we can make it through with very little problem. When it comes down to it... I think we all like winter driving on some level... even if it's just a weird matter of pride.

That said... I liked nothing about the almost 6 hour drive to London on Thursday. It's one thing to drive 20 minutes on a nearly empty country road... it's another to have your destination still hours away, knowing you have some heavy lifting to indulge in, and an empty fridge to thank you in the end.

But, I'm now quite settled, having got through all that big-move angst. I did the whole sleep on the blow up bed until Dad and James brought my furniture down on Saturday. Had some help (by which I mean I held open doors while everyone else moved my stuff) from the boys (individually known as Jason and Tristan) moving it into my little hovel downstairs. Spent the better part of the afternoon hanging out with them until going home with a couple of samosas in hand, and munching on one of those for supper. Tristan was also kind enough to help hook up my cable.

Things are now feeling much more homely. I have my bed made, my furniture arranged. I have a great picture on my dresser of Main Street Minden of olde with cows running by the Sterling Bank. I've even smelled the place up with my scented oil burner. And, on a slightly morbid note, I've even cleaned Jason's blood off my tv... the lesson? Always pack bandaids!! You never know when your friends will incur pesky scrapes and cuts when they help you move. Not only did I not have bandaids... I didn't even have kleenex.

Housekeeping notes: Still trying to pin down this blog's identity. Really, food was just a topic that normally comes up in life for me to write around. But, I'm hardly a food aficionado - I just desire to share little tidbits that I enjoy rather than express my non-existent genius. Really, this is more an online journal... as much for me as anyone else reading it. So, I continue to diversify and expand. You'll notice the Cork'd feed is gone (it crapped out on me, and I wasn't inclined to try and fix it... if indeed it was fixable), and it is now replaced by my Digg feed. These are just interesting net things I've dugg. Twitter feed continues to go strong...

Nice thing about where I'm living, is I'm a 10 minute walk from the grocery store. In fact, it is faster for me to walk, than to rearrange the vehicles in the driveway and then drive. So, I did my first real substantial grocery shopping today. I hate setting up brand new food wise. But I think I've managed to get stuff for a week or two's meals anyhow. And yay for my frozen lentil soup... that's kept me going for these disorganized couple of days.

Oh yeah, and orientation was on Friday, thus far things look promising...

So, on with the motley. Monday classes begin.

02 January 2009

Social Networking and Booze!

My friend, Aaron, put me on to Gary Vaynerchuk on Twitter which through a series of clicks got me onto Cork'd, which in turn has a nifty javascript generator which allows you to put your wine review list on your website. Ta da! How's that for social networking. Look right and down for the wines I've reviewed thus far.

Truth be told, I am not much of a wine taster. I can't taste all the different notes that real wine conesseurs can - my palate is just not that sophisticated. But, I do know what I like, and what I like to enjoy it with. Call my contribution that of the common man... my pleebian tastes.

Speaking of gourmet alcohol, Mom broke out the bottle of Laphroaig last night. Like drinking a campfire built with mossy logs. Great with a big hunk of cheese... smoked gouda or old cheddar please! Definitely needed to add water to it though... not that there is any pride to drinking scotch neat - adding water takes away the fire and lets you taste all those oils. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm also a scotch n00b, but my parents are most definitely not. Perfect that I'm getting my scotch education from them.

And of course, because I do drink responsibly, I am also a very cheap date. ;) Any takers?

01 January 2009

New Year, New Stuff... time for a latte

Goodbye 2008, and good riddance!

So it's a New Year, and you can see I've tidied up the place (can't say the same for my room... but that too will come), and I now have a snazzy new URL! Makes a bit more sense than "erin in scotland", doesn't it? More changes will occur throughout 2009. I'll try and make up some graphics of my own, instead of using the canned ones from blogger.

We had two good ol' birthday celebrations... one for my brother and one for my sister. My brother and I are both sci fi geeks, so I made him a TARDIS gingerbread house. Really... it's 5 pieces of gingerbread mumified by royal icing and sprayed with blue food colour (which creates an ominous haze in your kitchen). But the effect was still carried of with my usual mediocrity. This is actually a sequel to the TARDIS cake I did last year (which I can't seem to find a picture of). Why a TARDIS? Well, besides being a Doctor Who fan... it's a big rectangle. So, either a TARDIS, or the monolith from 2001 *yawn*.

I also made my cousin's hubby zombie gingerbread men. Got the green by using neon green food colour tempered by regular green, yellow, and a touch of blue.



Christmas here was pretty low key. I cooked the turkey and it came out wonderful! I used Alton Brown's method of steeping the aromatics in the microwave before pouring the lot into the bird. I didn't brine the sucker though... that's a lot of work, and we don't have a 5 gallon pail kicking around to brine a 20 lb turkey in. That's an experiment for another time. Mom made her best-in-the-world stuffing, which I ate waaaay too much of.

I did the sugarless cheesecake thing as well. This time I had let the cheese and yoghurt mixture drain for 24 hours... much better texture and flavour... and I cut the splenda in half. Just about everything agreed with Dad's blood sugar.

New Year's eve was spent at That Place in Carnarvon, then at home munching on cheese and grapes. I managed to stay up until midnight... hooray!

This morning I am sipping a homemade latte and watching my cat try and worm his way around the mess on my desk. He is a trained killer, now exiled to the indoors because of the cold and snow.... but back to the homemade latte!

I started drinking cafe latte's in Scotland, namely at Nero's Italian Coffee. Then I came home to Minden where there are precious few places to get them... Gravity House is only sporadically open during the off season, and then there is Heritage House in Haliburton (which is also haunted from what I hear). Both make good lattes, but are hardly at my fingertips like a Second Cup or Timothy's would be in the city. Someday, I would love one of those espresso machines with the foaming wand... but right now I don't have a kitchen to put one in, let alone the money to buy one. So I've devised an uber simple way of making your own latte, without any fancy equipment.

Pour milk into your favourite microwave safe mug, and nuke on high for 2 minutes (or so).
Meanwhile, boil the kettle and in a small cup (if you have an espresso cup, it works very well) mix up a single shot of espresso using instant espresso powder.
Take a whisk to the milk, rotating the whisk between your hands until the milk froths up.
Pour in your espresso as artfully as possible and voila! Almost but not quite instant latte!

Btw... the mug with the blackbird on it is done by local potter, April Gates. She does really cool work!