A mum and a wife and sometimes just me

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Dress Code

So it takes nothing like a rainy day here in Glasgow to make me think that I am and always will be a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. I grew up a tomboy and hated dresses! I ran around the streets playing cowboys and Indians with bare feet. I did not understand why girls wanted to wear bikinis because you could not swim properly in them so what was the point! I must have been in my teens before I finally gave in to that one. Even to this day I have to get it out my head that you don't have to be going somewhere special just to wear a dress. Admittedly it has only been in the past few years that I have actually started wearing dresses when I go out.

Nowadays to make matter worse I hate heels and love wearing trainers...I have my favourite black pair which hubby despises and not so secretly wishes he could throw away...but they are so comfortable even if they have holes in the bottom (ok so I was not wearing them today). I mean I guess I should be thankful for ballet slipper type shoes but then you can't wear those with socks...and it's not like summer here rages often...and well if my feet are cold the rest of me are cold! I guess at least my boots are pretty stylish as winter draws closer.

Speaking of winter, I always thought that meant you were allowed to start wearing layers. I cannot comprehend how girls can go out clubbing in there skimpy little dresses here in the UK with their arms crossed like that is going to keep them warm! What I find even more impressive is the layers of make up girls are able to wear not just to go out, not just to go to work but pretty much 24/7. You know when they go camping and wake up every morning to apply the layers before they head to the beach or to go hill walking or to participate in extreme sports. I see them at the gym as well??? I always thought that was the time I could actually get away without having to worry about such things. Nowadays they have extravagant hairstyles to go with the overall style as well...so does that mean they are not allowed to go swimming as well. These are the kind of girls I always wonder if they actually own a t-shirt and a pair of shorts!

So sadly I have never and possibly never will be really all that stylish. I always say to hubby that I need to get me a personal shopper to sort me out.

Come ska with me.........

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Something like a Blumenthal look-alike

So I have tried twice recently to cook chicken soup. The fist time did not turn out so bad considering I did not have half the ingredients but the second time was close to perfection (well perfection for me and hubby anyway) considering I had a few more of the ingredients. I was very pleased with the end result and especially with hubby's responses...'I love when you cook like this'....'I was dreaming of this kind of chicken soup'.

So this fabulous recipe came from the BBC food recipes website and it's by Heston Blumenthal.

Chicken Soup


1kg/2lb 4oz chicken wings 
100g/3½oz unsalted butter
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 large carrots, finely chopped
1 small head of celeriac, finely chopped
250g/9oz button mushrooms, finely sliced
200ml/7fl oz dry white wine
bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf and celery leaves)
4 whole star anise
3 sticks of celery, finely sliced
3 leeks, finely sliced
a small piece of fresh ginger 
salt and freshly ground black pepper 
large bunch of fresh parsley

Put the chicken wings into a casserole, pour over cold water just to cover and bring to the boil on a high heat. As soon as the water boils, skim off any impurities that may have risen to the surface, lift out the wings and cool them under running water. Pat dry. 
On a medium heat, melt the butter, add the chicken wings, onions, garlic, carrots, celeriac and mushrooms, and cook for 15 minutes.
Turn the heat up, pour in the wine, bring to the boil and reduce by half. Pour over cold water to cover by 5cm/2 inches, bring to the boil and skim off any impurities that may have risen to the surface. Add the bouquet garni and star anise, and simmer very gently for 30 minutes.
Add the celery, leeks and ginger and continue simmering very gently for another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat; season if necessary, add the parsley and leave to stand for 20 minutes.
Strain the soup through a fine-meshed sieve and then, if you have some, muslin. It can be eaten straight away, or left to cool and kept in an airtight container in the fridge.
Now it sounds good right! Definitely great considering the weather is changing and we are seeing less and less of Mr Sunshine. I learnt a new Italian word for it as well...uggioso. Of course I love following recipes exactly but sometimes when certain ingredients are missing you have to make do. Especially when it's the ones that you don't use regularly as well. 
Well first adaptation was the fact that I only had chicken thighs...but at least they still had the bone in them  which I think makes it better to form a sort of stock base or for flavour (I'm guessing by the way). Celeriac is also never in my house so that was missing. I used a bit of stock instead of the wine (which is probably cheating when it comes to flavours...oops). Then I had the right herbs just not the fresh ones so dried versions of the thyme had to do so it wasn't a bouquet garni. Ahmmm and I had no star anise either. Now I guess you understand that it was only a look-alike and not exactly the same thing! I never bothered to strain the soup either....hehehe.

Anyway...it still tastes great and a definite recommendation for you to try it!

Saturday 25 September 2010

Prison does not work...

is one of the many things we talked about in class while studying social work. Prison is about punishment and retribution. It also does not seem to hold that threatening fear factor either as many people who serve their sentence end up back in prison yet again which I believe is called recidivism. The idea is sure you lock them up to serve the sentence for their crime but you let them back out into the same environment which was part of the reason for them committing a crime in the first place. So the idea is that you need a more holistic approach when supporting people. Well that is the very simple explanation of it all anyway...

The reasons for these thoughts as well is from watching the UK version of the ever popular TV show 'Law and Order' (yes thinking deeply while watching TV if you can imagine that). It was about a very difficult topic actually, children murdering children. Two young girls who take a little boy away to play and end up killing him. Well one of the girls ends up strangling the little boy while the other watches and is then coerced by her friend to initial the first letter of her name into his belly. For me I don't know what was more disturbing the idea that a little girl only aged 9 or 10 could think of doing this or the fact that the public and high public officials were braying for her head on a platter as justice. Then the mother sells her story to the tabloids (a very true reflection of real life I might add) saying that her daughter was evil from birth. The surprise for all comes when the mother of the dead little boy did not see imprisonment and punishment of the girl as the answer. She did not identify with the general public who were sending her letters of comfort who did not even know anything about her little boy. She wanted the little girl to get help, for the reason to be identified as to why this little girl would do such a terrible thing.

How it all ended for me by then became irrelevant as I watched the woman's tears. I was a bit impressed of the ability to look at this type of scenario from a different angle from a popular TV show. The other day I also heard it said that it is not the drug problem that is a crime, it's an illness, it's what people do to fund it or as a result of it that is the crime. It becomes even more difficult when we think about serious offenders like serial killers and paedophiles. So I guess the question raised for me is not how we punish people for what they have done but how we help them so that they never do it again and well how possible is it?

Wednesday 22 September 2010

A sunny day in Scotland

You know if it wasn't for the weather I think we would really appreciate Scotland even more. We have never tried to deny how beautiful Scotland is and enjoy having guests and being able to show them around. For us it usually means getting out of the city and getting into the 'countryside'. I think hubby survives living in Scotland by being able to go walking and he has certainly bagged his fair share of Munro's. I will quietly admit my fear of heights and scrambling but I do venture out myself on the more less intimidating. The great thing as well is that you don't usually have to travel that far if you don't want to. We had already rented a car for the weekend anyway as we had Sunday plans so we thought we had to go somewhere on Saturday as well.

First thing that morning the sun was not exactly shining :( Yet for some reason we would not be defeated. So hoping for the best we head for Balloch along Loch Lomond for a pub lunch...yes a huge favourite of mine! We had been to a local pub/hotel before for food and it was not bad and it is very close to Balloch Country park so that if the weather cleared we had the benefits of going for a walk so off we headed.

First stop was Balloch House for lunch. It was a rather pleasant experience and the food and service was good. It probably helped that as soon as we arrived the sun came out. So with our bellies full yes with an amazing chocolate brownie for dessert we head along the path for a meander along the shores of Loch Lomond through Balloch Country Park.

I can't help but comment though that it is such a shame they don't use Balloch Castle as the views over the Loch are great and the park is very well maintained. Today for the first time as well we discovered the walled garden. Lots of dog walkers, a bag of tourists and even a few families picnicking as well.

A great way to enjoy a sunny day in Scotland.

Monday 13 September 2010


You know I love my country! Not sure if I should specify here but that country would be Jamaica. It really is beautiful. I especially love when people come to visit so I can show it off as well. The thing is though I always can't help saying that it is better if they visit me personally (well my parents anyway who over the years can now seriously contest your typical travel agents or tour guides and they now need to buy their own clipboards and dress in uniform when people come to visit!) rather than stay in a hotel where they usually get stuck for the whole of their visit so they never really 'see' all of Jamaica's beauty. Beauty not just in the nature but in the history and culture of our island. Actually each time family or friends do come to visit I learn of new and little (well sometimes huge) things of what there is to do and see on my small island. Some of the highlights include a rather interesting (or what my mother might describe as treacherous) drive to Cinchona....

Treasure beach.........

 Black River Safari..........

Appleton Rum Tour

The thing is though that the tour of Jamaica usually involves having to visit or stay for a short time at these hotels to see some of these beauty spots. Even when people on facebook take these beautiful pictures to show of our beautiful country it usually means they were paying a hefty price to stay at one of these hotels. They cut up the beaches so that only their guests have access to the spot and the locals are denied. I'm not going to deny that there are probably a lot of tourists appreciate that but I personally think its a shame. Especially when sometimes it appears to be destroying our island rather than enhancing or developing it's beauty so that everyone can appreciate it.....

My country is beautiful and of course I have nothing against tourism as a way to promote this beauty so that everyone can enjoy it but it seems that the locals in Jamaica are losing out and for me even the tourists themselves. It kind of seems to me that the way Jamaica is 'doing' tourism is the wrong way.
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