Dinner saves the day

You know how sometimes, you’ve got this idea that the handful of ingredients you’ve got lying around is something you can turn into this idealistic, thrown-together plate of absolute joy? Because you have SKILLS and WINE and RADIOHEAD playing on your stereo and you are going to BEAT your angsty mood by cooking.

And then you get about halfway through the process and you look at what’s in the pan and think, er, dunno, that may not end as well as I’d hoped. But you keep cooking because what else are you gonna do, and you just hope it turns out fairly ok even if it’s not something you’d serve someone else. So you’re now resigned to a meh dinner that would be a disappointment aside from the fact that it’s food and you’re hungry.

And then in the last five seconds, when you add the final ingredient you were sure was going to REALLY ruin it, some crazy kitchen alchemy brings it all together to be way higher than your self-lowered expectations, and you sort of can’t believe it, but you have renewed faith in your SKILLS and you’ve ended up with the thing that is the reason you started cooking in the first place.

Maybe not exactly what you planned but and as-good or better different.

And then because you are and always will be an English-Major jerkface who can’t let a thought pass without overanalysing the crap out of it, you think, there’s probably a life metaphor in that.

And then, surveying your situation, you hope it holds true.

And then you have seconds even though you probably shouldn’t. Because MAN IT REALLY TURNED OUT GOOD.

If you haven’t watched this already, you really need to. It’s an hour long, but don’t be put off. The fact that our President was willing to sit down with Tumblr and answer these questions blindly is, I think, incredibly impressive.

This came at a coincidentally perfect time for me because I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about the nightmare of paying my loans from abroad once and for all. It needs to get easier, and in considering my options, I have to start paying better attention to the details of what is and isn’t possible via Sallie Mae. That isn’t the easiest task (understatement of the century), but the fact that this public conversation even happened gives me a tiny bit of hope.

I don’t run my mouth on the interwebs about politics all that often, and I have the healthiest of skepticism for any politician, but I really think that Obama has shown a lot of honesty here. There are things I don’t fully agree with, and his answers weren’t always perfect, but I don’t feel like he was ever trying to actively dodge a question or pull the wool over our eyes. I really appreciate that. There were some difficult questions here.

We have a GOOD president, you guys. We really do.

While I don’t intend to live in the US again any time soon, I am still American, and I’m happy to say that. The US has problems but I hold it in equal regard to my current home. My family is in America, as well as many of my friends, and I think it’s a great place to grow up and to live. I’ve been away for a long time, and the beginning of that time was a difficult time to tell people I was American because I always felt ashamed that George W Bush was in charge. I felt like I had to apologise. I know I’m not the only one. Some people may take issue with that, but most of those people haven’t seen the US from outside the US, particularly during that time. America is great, but it’s part of the world, and I feel an awful lot better about being an American out in the world when a guy like this is the one calling the shots.

This video highlights frustration and work to be done. But I think, quite importantly, it highlights a will for taking that work forward. I don’t know who will be the next president, and hopefully it won’t be someone to double back on any progress Obama manages to make, but the scary thing this video also reminds us of is the fact that the US is very big and the population is very split on some pretty fundamental things. It’s hard to see how we’ll get past that. But at least we know someone at the top is listening for now.

Let me explain. If you’ve ever thought that you cannot invite an avid cook to your house for dinner because they will silently judge your efforts, let me dispel this notion: when I’m not the one doing the cooking, everything tastes like the most amazing thing on earth. Maybe it’s tinged with relief that I’m not the one behind the stove for once, maybe it’s because I wholly understand what a big effort cooking can be, or maybe it’s just because you’re an awesome cook whether you believe it or not, but if you bake me a chocolate cake, I want to hug you. I want to run off with the cake.
Deb Perelman so perfectly states what I always try to tell people. And they never believe me. But it’s true! Cook or bake for me and not only will my estimation of you rise higher than it is, but I will love every last bit of what you make, and its existence will make my day.
It’s extremely difficult for people to remake themselves, particularly if they’ve got husbands and wives, jobs, children. It’s very, very difficult to throw everything up and embark on a completely new reappraisal of yourself. But, I think, sooner or later, all of us have to do that. Mostly I think we do it vicariously, by reading novels, by going to films and so on. We allow others to be our deputies in making some kind of radical shift, stealing a million dollars from a bank or whatever it may be. But I think we all feel a powerful need to make this change, to rediscover who we really are and what our real assignment is.
J. G. Ballard, interviewed by John Gray, 2000 (via gregings)

Yes and yes.


Peanut butter spoon(s), a cup of tea, two vine tomatoes, half a (small) Camembert, another tomato.

I was gonna make proper dinner but lost all motivation in the face of peanut butter spoon.


I have just realised that the jar of peanut butter currently residing in my cupboard has been eaten, thus far, entirely straight from the jar with a spoon. Peanut butter spoon has always been a common occurrence around here, but I don’t think I’ve ever got through a whole jar without spreading it on something at least once. Level up in life!


in case you were having a bad day, here’s a picture of Yo-Yo Ma, the famous cellist, on the floor of a bathroom with a wombat

I want to know how something like this even occurs.


in case you were having a bad day, here’s a picture of Yo-Yo Ma, the famous cellist, on the floor of a bathroom with a wombat

I want to know how something like this even occurs.

(via fuckyeahinterspeciesfriendships)


A spoonful of crunchy peanut butter and a pistachio Magnum mini. HEALTHY LUNCH.

The sneaky medical costs of The Big Trip (part 1?)

Protective measures to make sure that, in case of disease, you remain alive to brag about a massive exciting trip long after you get home, are kind of a big deal. I knew this when I decided that for my 30th, Africa was going to be The Trip. And I knew there would be costs. But man. MAN…

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am a lady who plans. A lot. And loves to do so. So I don’t know why I didn’t do more extensive research on the number of immunisations I’d need and their prices. It’s something I would do! It’s something I would probably bizarrely enjoy!

But I didn’t. I just kind of figured that what wasn’t covered by the NHS would be reasonable. I suppose ‘reasonable’ in my brain was ‘under £20 per disease’.

But oh no. Let me tell you.

I have to cover myself on the following:

  • Tetanus
  • Polio
  • Diphtheria
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Yellow Fever
  • Rabies
  • Malaria

Plus a well-stocked personal first-aid kit. Luckily, the NHS covers the Tetanus, Polio, Diphtheria booster, the Typhoid, and the Hep A vaccine.

The rest combined are going to cost somewhere in the region of £250-£350. I had a long weekend in Gothenburg for that much!

Today I found out that I did need the full series of Hep B again along with the rest, because the last time I had it was way too long ago. This started an anxiety-fest, not even because of the money but because of the MILLION appointments I’m going to have over the next month to get all of these things, and the logistics of getting everything in the right place and at the right time and still being at work when I’m supposed to be. Because it’s pretty much impossible to get it condensed sensibly.

OF COURSE all of this is absolutely, 100% worth it. It’s a privilege to take a trip like this, and I want to make sure, as far as I can, that I’m not sitting there worrying about the possibility of being really, really sick (or dead) just because I wanted to go look at rhinos. (Rhinos!)

So I am not cutting corners. Especially after learning that the fatality rate of rabies is 100%. One. Hundred. Percent. THERE IS NO CURE. (Which I learned when listening to this episode of Radiolab, before I even decided to go to Africa.) The vaccine doesn’t even protect you completely, it just gives you more time to get sorted out if you do get a bite. Given those numbers, I would like that time if I should need it. Credit card bill be damned.

I just reeeeally wish I had priced all this properly before charging into it. It’s rare in my life, but: Not enough planning!

Anyway I will report on the final cost when I’ve finished it all, because hopefully it’ll help someone else out.

I’d also be interested to hear what it costs in other countries, particularly the US, to get a similar barrage of jabs. What does insurance cover and not cover? Does Obamacare want to make sure you don’t get Yellow Fever while tromping around viewing zebras? Or are you at the mercy of the free market?

Life, leisure, and the pursuit of tastiness


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What I am actually eating

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