07 November 2010

That's all folks

Well, I was quiet on here for a long time because of my course. But it is now nearly a month since I finished my course, and I just haven't had the interest to post. Having a break from blogging has made me realise my heart's just not in it any more, so I'm calling time on this blog.

I might create spin-off blogs in time, with more focussed themes, but at the moment I think I need a break. You can still follow my progress on my Day Zero list if you're interested, and if I do create new blogs I'll post details on here.

So this is bec, signing off. So long and thanks for all the fish.

19 June 2010

Day Zero: Challenge 68

Last night, instead of watching a rubbish England match, I managed to persuade hubby to go out for a meal! I'm very lucky!

Challenge 68 is 'Try a cuisine I've never eaten before'. It was always going to be tricky, as the most commonly available cuisines are ones I've tried before - Italian, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Spanish - and a lot of other cuisines are not so friendly for the veggies. But then I remembered a friend telling me about Bistro Saigon in Ilkley, which is a Vietnamese restaurant. So I thought I'd give it a whirl.

Vietnamese food is a lot like Thai which I really like, but I'm still counting it! I had vegetable spring rolls for starter, and sweet potato curry with sticky jasmine rice for main, both of which were delicious and very filling! The scariest bit was using chopsticks, which I haven't done in years and I never really got the hang of, but after a few drops I got the knack. The atmosphere of the restaurant was lovely, and the staff were very friendly. I would thoroughly recommend it.

As I complete Challenge 68, I add Challenge 86 (go on a RailRover holiday) - how neat is that?! Just 15 more to think of and then my list is complete. As ever, I'm open to ideas!

27 May 2010

Day Zero: Update

Well, I went quiet on here again, but that's not because I've forgotten about my Day Zero list - far from it! Here are some of the challenges I've completed recently:

Challenge 1: Buy something from Etsy - I love this website having only recently discovered it, and I hope to set up a shop over the summer. In the meantime, I bought a gorgeous screenprinted notebook from summersville for my best friend and a cute pencil case from funkydivadesigns for my goddaughter. Anyone who appreciates artistry and handmade items should look at this website. It has also led me to add another challenge - Buy something from Folksy, which is like Etsy's British counterpart.

Challenge 5: Write a letter to a friend - Written to my best friend for her birthday instead of a card. I cannot believe how hard it is to write a letter, I'm so used to e-mails (or worse, status comments on Facebook) that a sustained piece of writing was a real struggle! I must practise this art!

Challenge 14: Have a picnic - This one was completed quite by accident! We visited friends in Oxford at the weekend and as it was such good weather they prepared a lovely picnic for us which we enjoyed by the river. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon ...

Challenge 23: Make something out of Rachel Allen's 'Bake' - I bought this book mainly to just drool over the pictures, but I recently baked the rhubarb and strawberry version of the 30-day muffins (so called because the batter keeps for 30 days). They were absolutely scrummy and conquered my fear of baking muffins!

Challenge 25: Wear a skirt to work - not an easy task when you hate your legs as much as me! But with the mini-heatwave recently, I was forced to bare my pins on Friday and Monday (and over the weekend but I wasn't at work then!) and was shocked that I could hardly fit into one of my 'work skirts' any more. Just goes to show how long it's been since I wore it!!

I've also been making progress on some of the longer-term challenges, but will post about them when they're done. I only have 18 more challenges to think of before my list is complete - and I'm open to ideas!

23 April 2010

Day Zero Challenge 70

Choosing challenges with a set deadline turns out to be a good idea. Challenge 70 - Read the Manifestos of the three major parties before the General Election - is a good example of this. While everything else on my list I can do pretty much any time in the next two and a half years, I was on the clock with this one. And it turned out to be not as easy as I thought.

I don't know why I expected a manifesto to be short but I did. Well I was wrong: Labour's manifesto was 76 pages, Lib Dem's was 57 and Conservative's was 113. That's a lot of reading. But when I've voted in previous years, I've always felt guilty for not knowing what the parties really stood for. Now I've read all three manifestos, I may not understand all the policies but at least I know them.

This challenge hasn't helped me choose who to vote for, I already knew. But it has confirmed that decision. There was one manifesto that stood out as being clear and understandable and that had policies that made me smile. It also happened to be the manifesto with the least backbiting about other parties. I won't say whose it was - you'll have to read them and see if you agree!

02 April 2010

Day Zero

Sometimes serendipity throws good things in your path. The other day I stumbled upon Day Zero, a project whereby you make a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. Recently I've been feeling like I'm not achieving anything fast. Despite doing my OU course (which is giving me a greater sense of achievement in my life) there was still something missing. But this project has captured my imagination, and might well give that sense of purpose I'm looking for. My list is here, and combines study goals with crafty tasks, baking tasks, environmental/ethical tasks and many more. So far I've only got to 62 items, so if anyone has a suggestion do let me know!

I will post on my blog whenever I complete a task from my list, so you can follow my progress. If you want to.

30 March 2010


I told you it would be a while! Nearly two months into my course now and about to submit my second assignment. It's been intense - I've studied 'Pride and Prejudice', 'Frankenstein', 'Great Expectations' and 'Fathers and Sons', and learnt a heck of a lot of literary theory about the Realist Novel too. Sorry, I can almost hear my readers snoring. Except for the fact that I probably don't have any readers.

As you can imagine, I've had very little time for anything else. Knitting etc has ground to a complete halt, except for my occasional attempt to unravel the disaster cardigan so I can put the yarn to better use when I have time. I've been reading lots (obviously) but don't have tme to review what I'm reading any more, plus it's mainly textbooks. As for being green and ethical ... well, I'm trying to keep up with what I was already doing but I'm afraid I've not added much new to my Generous repertoire.

In cat news, Millie had to have an operation recently so we had the joy of listening to her lick the inside of a cone for nearly two weeks while her stitches healed, but she's fine now. Expensive, but fine.

Well, I don't really have any other updates. Next in my course I will be studying Romantic Writings, mainly poetry. Wish me luck!

12 January 2010

Holding page

Sorry I've not blogged much recently, but I'm afraid that's the way it'll stay for a while. I recently enrolled on an Open University course and, despite the fact that it hasn't even started, I'm already drowning in preparatory reading. I'll try to check in every once in a while, but updates will be few and far between!

12 December 2009

200 word review: 'The Complete Polysyllabic Spree' by Nick Hornby

I once saw a picture of a girl wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a girl wearing a t-shirt with … you get the idea. This is the literary equivalent – a review of a book of reviews!

I didn’t enjoy Hornby’s 31 Songs but I don’t hold a grudge (usually) so I thought I’d try The Complete Polysyllabic Spree, and I’ve warmed to Hornby again after reading it. This book is witty, honest and interesting – his breadth of reading is quite impressive (no matter what his self-effacing comments would have you believe). But you don’t need to read any of the books he discusses to enjoy it. There were only one or two I had read, and I doubt I’ll read many others, but he has such an accessible way of writing about books that I didn’t feel excluded. He is honest about his flaws, too – he admits to preferring some genres to others, and struggling with long novels. So many reviewers won’t admit to any bias, it’s refreshing to read somebody who lays his biases on the table.

Lesson of the day: just because you don’t like one book, doesn’t mean you won’t like anything by the author.

29 November 2009

200 word review: 'Four Letter Word: New Love Letters' edited by Rosalind Porter and Joshua Knelman

I borrowed this book from my local library mainly out of shock that they had it –a few months ago, I read an article about it in The Big Issue so I was surprised to see such a current book. It’s a collection of fictional love letters from modern authors, some more famous than others but all with excellent literary credentials.

The problem with collections like this is that there are always bits you love and bits you hate. Some of the letters really caught me – some were endearing in their innocence, others deeply moving, and others simply entertaining. But there were a few that were just a bit, well, smutty for my tastes. Maybe I’m a prude, but a number contained crass references which didn’t seem to have much to do with love.

The variety of letters represents well the depth and diversity of love. There were examples of love for someone (or something) other than a lover. Many letters expressed the pain of love gone wrong. Some were historical, others current (one based on Hurricane Katrina almost had me weeping on a commuter train). Overall, this is a generally enjoyable book which effectively shows all areas of love.

14 November 2009

Generous Journal: Catching up

I've been rubbish at blogging in general, but my Generous Journal has particularly suffered. That's not to say that I haven't been plugging away with my efforts to live more generously and more greenly; here's a few things I've been up to:

Now, I'm really not a 1950's housewife despite what my craft habit would have you believe, but ... I've got into baking recently! It's so satisfying to bake your own cakes and biscuits rather than buying them from the shop, and it means you can ensure the ingredients are ethical. I only use free-range eggs and try to use Fairtrade/organic chocolate and cocoa where possible. I've also found the best way to use up over-ripe bananas - Banana Bread! And not being wasteful with your food is very important, particularly with bananas - if you're going to fly something halfway across the world, it's not very good if half of it ends up in the compost bin. Here's an example of my yummy Banana Bread:

Mmm. Baking is also good for warming up the flat a bit whilst still using the heat for something else. The weather has suddenly become very cold here, so we need as many opportunities to heat up as possible. Now I have to admit we are using our central heating (I know hardened eco-warriors would string us up for that!) but we are trying to find ways to avoid it where possible. When I'm watching TV in the living room, if I get cold I'll cover myself in a throw. I'm layering as much as possible - I've even bought thermal vests!! And we're trying to eat warming meals like soup and casseroles. Our biggest problem is our bedroom though - easily the coldest room in the house, and that's where you really want to feel snug! We might have to rearrange furniture to see if there's any way of maximising the heat, but I don't like change!

Another Generous thing we've done recently is join Freecycle - and I've been waxing lyrical about it since! We've already got rid of a mirror and a cat feeder that were taking up space with minimal effort, and we managed to get a new lid for our compost bin too (the old one blew off in the gales a few weeks back, despite being very difficult to take off - that's how bad the weather is!) It's incredible what people give away on there, I've seen double beds and freezers listed, so check your local one out!

Our veg-growing has now stopped for winter, but hubby has planted cauliflowers for next summer. He's also been reusing stuff creatively in the garden - using our old broken bedframe to create a frame which, with some plastic over it, will keep our caulis warm over winter. He's also been cutting an old pair of fleece pyjamas and stuffing the sleeves with old socks today for use in the garden - don't ask me what they'll be doing, I'll just have to trust him on that!

The next Generous challenge is Christmas - I always try to make it as ethical and eco-friendly as possible, but it can be challenging. I fully intended to make cards but I'm not convinced I'm going to have time. We're cooking our own Christmas dinner this year (eek!) so we can be more conscious of the food we're buying. Other than that, the usual tricks of shopping locally and in charity/ ethical shops for presents, using gift lists so I don't end up buying wasteful, unwanted presents, and making what I can will come into play. Any more ideas for an ethical Christmas?