Sunday, 15 January 2017

Sunday Summary | Do you wanna build a snowmaaaan? ...

Dear FOQ

How are we all? Warm enough? I'll admit that snap of snow threw me reet off; especially since I rocked up at QB Heights Senior Division looking like this on Thursday night:

Good job I didn't walk, right?

I would like to give a shout out at this juncture to my magnificent work mates.

A year ago today I came into the hallowed SP offices for my second interview (in spite of the trains playing silly b*ggers as they also did on my way to my first interview!) ... and they haven't been able to get rid of me.

Train traumas aside, I have had a magnificent near-year, and I've never laughed so much as I have in the last ten months. I suspect nobody outside Team SP will understand the 'bantz' or appreciate the expressions or quotes that have us all roaring or squeaking with laughter:

but it has kept me going when actually getting to and from work has turned me into Queen Grumpy Pants.

Big loads of Feeder Food on Fat Fridays to you all.



This fortnight, I have mostly been ...

Reading πŸ“–

Not my usual reading fare, I'll admit; and I'm slightly embarrassed to say I received this as a gift from friends absolutely years ago, and it's signed by the author. And until I've read everything currently residing on my shelves, I don't feel I can warrant buying new books.

{I'm sort of appalled by the lack of upper-case 'I' in the caption but there we go}

... IKR?

OK, so if I find myself in Foyles I might have to let that resolution slip. When might I possibly find myself in Foyles, eh, Katerina, Eloise, Evie and Clare? πŸ˜πŸ“š

Watching πŸ“ΊπŸ“€

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Kate Hudson is so out-there and quirky in this film that you can almost forgive it a) its soundtrack which has been lifted right off the back of Dawson's Creek (it's very of-its-time), and b) the barely veiled objectification at play in this film. I suppose the clue is in the name. But anyway.

It's still enjoyable though, especially when Andie decides that a caterwauled rendition of 'You're So Vain' is the way to wreak vengeance on Matthew McConnaughey's character.

Kill 'em with song, girl.

I Ought to Be in Pictures

... which I'd been waiting to see since, oh, about 1993, when I learned of its existence through the hallowed tome that is/was Leonard Maltin's brick of a film guide:

over which I pored for hours – HOURS – in order to make up the ultimate list of Other Films That People from Grease Had Been In Ergo I Had to Track Them Down or Else ... (I really didn't get out much; plus, this was in the Days Before IMDB.)

Based on the Neil Simon play, it's about a seemingly spunky teenager, Libby, heading to Hollywood to get into The Pictures (as the old folk say), but also tracking down her absent father Herbert.

Check out Dinah "Marty from Grease" Manoff (whom you might remember from this post) being all adorbs (she won a Tony for her performance in the play):

(Music, incidentally, by Marvin Hamlisch, who makes a cameo in, er, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I don't plan these things.).

Was well worth a 24-year-wait. πŸ˜€

The Fall – Season Three


You know when you watch something that isn't that great and yet, yet, you get drawn in to it to the point whereby it actually infiltrates your dreams? 

(That dream I had where Phil Spector 

... sorry, Paul Spector

was taking out his victims in daylight, in front of Stella Gibson ... with a pair of my b@d@$$ earrings? That was priceless. Well done, my damaged brain.)

Season Three did that. Oh the joys of binge-watching:

{The Box Set Bore | via here}

But tell me one thing, did Gillian Anderson have a particularly voracious strain of laryngitis all the way through the series, or was it a character thing?! 

{"Dr Wallander? It'sh my throat..."}
Had she been strangled at some point at the end of Season Two and I'd just forgotten?!


I watched this quite late last night and in a rare departure for me, I preferred the film to the book.

I know! Shocking!

I have a feeling quite a lot was culled, and a couple of instances of conflict were omitted but this just made for a truly sweet film. Saoirse Ronan is one of those actors who is infinitely watchable (much like Carey Mulligan); and who wouldn't want to marry Tony on the spot? If only for his smart little brother?!

Julie Walters did verge into 'Father Ted'/Mrs Doyle territory at times with her take on the landlady but I rather enjoyed that, and she softened the landlady's edges quite considerably.

Worth a watch.

Walking πŸ‘£

Why yes, FOQ, I have committed to a walking challenge! But this is one with a difference: I won't be pleading for sponsorship (well, not yet anyway) – in the spirit of getting my stumpy self moving again I've pledged to walk 1,000 miles this year. So far I've clocked up ... 20. But we're only on the fifteenth day of the year so there's time yet.

Read more here.

Massive thanks to Natalie for sending me the link (and high-fives to Cousin Jo and to Ellen for joining the scheme as well).

Here's a delightful montage of shots from my Bank Holiday Monday Walk, during which my phone gave out, like a massive loser, though I suspect, given that it's since come back to life and seems to be fine, it was just cold. Well, aren't we all? Suck it up, Samsung.

Cooking from scratch

Check me out, adhering to my first Promise of 2017 already!

I present:

Tagliatelle with Tuna (cooked in the slow cooker for two hours)

{It definitely tasted less grey than it looks. πŸ˜‹}

Closely followed by:

Tomato and lentil soup

I may or may not have bought a second, larger-capacity slow cooker in the Sainso sale which was just as well since I made enough soup for four and it was at risk of not fitting into the original slow cooker. Fortuitous, eh?! Behold, the before and after shots.


Pinterest Pins of the Fortnight πŸ“Œ

{Will you just look at the marquee light? Please? πŸ’“}

Fortnightly Web Finds πŸ•Έ
  • Yoga for Book Lovers | from SfEP {Society for Editors and Proofreaders} on FB via Quirk Books [how apt!] | via Jill W

Well, that's almost that for now ... Stay warm, safe and upright (it's probably icy out there).

Oh but wait! Massive congratulations are due to my amazing friends Fiona and Bianka who are now proud parents of a beautiful baby boy! And will now probably not get any sleep until ... the year 2033.

And finally, I'm sending out massive hugs and lots of love to Cousin Jo this week.

qb xx

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Contemplation LITE: Happy New Year, Happy New Look!

Dear FOQ πŸ’“

So ... what with my already being splendid an' all (πŸ˜‰), and also having no interest whatsoever in 'clean eating' (ugh, the expression just makes me want to fry something), diets and all of the usual 'New Year, New You' propaganda thrust upon us to make us feel as though we are somehow lacking or less than, or that we need to conform to a prescribed and often unrealistic standard of health and beauty, or change key facets of ourselves, I am leaving you with my list of Promises (note: not resolutions) for the year to come:

I do also want to add that I'd like to fit another charity walk into the new year, but we will see how that goes.

Oh and, New Year, New Look for the blog at least. What thinkest thou?

RED, innit?

Happy New Year to you all!

Emphasis on the happy.

qb xx

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Sunday Summary Wednesday Witterings | Bring me flesh and bring me wine. But hold the pine logs thither.

Dear FOQ πŸ’œ

So that was Christmas ... πŸŽ„

and what did you do? πŸ¦ƒ

I'll tell you what I did. In fact, being the generous soul I am, I'll extend this to a report of my entire last two weeks.

Christmas really is all about giving, right? 🎁

This fortnight, I have mostly been:

Watching πŸ“€πŸ“Ί

Home Alone

My face, watching the scene with Kevin and the old chap in the church:

This one particularly Christmassy episode of My So-Called Life ('So-Called Angels'):

Animal Attraction (Someone Like You in the US)

Oh, Hugh Jackman. Why must you be such a beautiful specimen of humankind?

The Coroner

... with thanks to Ma QB for letting me binge-watch this season's episodes on iPlayer. They are a treat. (I do love the scenery...)

{It's HOPE COVE! | via here}

Series Two trailer is here. For interested parties.

Finding Dory

Why yes, I do get slightly moist of eye over animated fish trying to remember to find their parents.


Oddly, I haven't felt the same compulsion this year to insist on watching the usual set of Christmas films: The Snowman, ElfNational Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Santa Claus ... but maybe that's because I haven't needed to evoke the Christmas spirit through film; it has come, this year, quite naturally. 

Especially when I finally had time to decorate QB Heights, with a little help from Perry Como, purveyor of our unofficial office Christmas earworm:

Catching up with this righteous beauty πŸ’–

Ms Charlie, and the marvellous Sir Al, for Toby Carvery goodness (trains and sleep deprivation be damned; it'd been too ruddy long).

We had a right royal catch-up, then ate All the Food (except the desserts, which proved that the struggle to eat All the Things was actually a little bit real), before surrendering to sheer exhaustion and heading on home.

(I have Charlie's magnificent Airbrush app to thank for me looking significantly less haggard than usual, with eyebrows that look on-point not off-duty.)

{Photo by Charlie}
Getting my hair did ✀

Like, really did:

Über-short, the whole snip-snap-shebang:

{Photo – and yes, hair – by freya}
and in spite of reservations dating back 20 years (let me refresh your memory):

I love it. LOVE it.

Some say pixie.

I say, well, look at that face. THE NOSE.

That's no pixie. That's a gnome, my friend.

But I love it. My (now mobile) hairdresser, the amazing Ms Freya, is a hair-stylin' rockstar.

Srsly tho ... where did all of this come from?!

Entering the party spirit

... with not one but two parties! I missed the work shenans due to a calendar conflict, but I made up for it by rocking on down to the annual Ladies of the Parish Christmas dinner at the church hall. Not many photos exist (because I was too busy eating and gas-bagging to take many) but the food was amazing and the company exquisite.

Let's just have a moment for Tryfana's superlative Christmas Tree meringue dessert, which featured a macaron trunk, pomegranate seeds and a little lebkuchen for good measure!

The second such party (which, er, actually happened the night before the Ladies' SoirΓ©e), involved me and Ma QB rocking up in matching 'Prosecc ho ho ho' sweaters, and the assembled company playing carols ... with kazoos.

A small excerpt to whet your whistle:

With many thanks to our marvellous hostess with the mostest (and the missing game card), Jan!

Doing Christmas the QB Way πŸŽ…

{Gift-wrapping, as seen on Pinterest. Nailed it, sort of!}

Do we have time for a video montage?

Oh, I think we do.

This year's most featured quirk: those face beer mats. They're special. So special.

With thanks due to Ma and Pa QB, Sis and Ceri.

It's been fabbo.

Finally ... animating!

'Tis done!

Watch it here. If you haven't already.
And if not ...

... why not?

Pinterest Pins of the Fortnight πŸ“Œ

You know the drill:

Web Find of the Fortnight πŸ–§

(Because sometimes just one is enough.)
  • This little girl singing a child-friendly Christmas version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah has gone viral, and for good reason. What a voice!

Well, that's it, really. But join me in 2017 when I'll probably be getting all philosophical and making resolutions without any clear parameters so I feel no self-imposed obligation to keep them.

Here's to a New Year that proves to be an improvement on this one.

qb xx

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Sunday Summary | So this is Christmas ... and what have you done?

Well, John and Yoko, let me tell you. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

Dear FOQ πŸŽ…πŸŽ„

It's been a festive couple of weeks, and apart from the fact that my Current Mood is This:

I'm beginning to feel a lot like:

although today alone has been spent compartmentalising my time into half-hour slots for housework/blogging/badge-making/wrapping

followed by ... eating our decimated gingerbread house/pouring coffee/forgetting where I put the coffee/finding the coffee/drinking the cold coffee anyway/mulling wine at 5pm because it's 6pm in Sweden ...

It's a struggle that is real but I'm getting there!

So, this fortnight I have mostly been:

Reading πŸ“–

(Re)Watching πŸ“ΌπŸ“€

This masterpiece:

That would be Staying Alive (guilty pleasures abound), with my Lovelies, Jess and Fiona (Glenda was there in spirit! "What, you got emotional problems tonight?" πŸ’“), round Jess' gaff, where there was magnificent company and splendiferous curry.

And much critiquing of the choreography ("oh look, she's leaping again!" "Isn't that the same routine from the last show?"), dialogue ("Everybody uses everybody. Don't they!"), Jackie's stupidity in constantly taking Tony back even though he treated her appallingly; and the exquisite fashions of the film ("seriously, who dances in a beret?!"), which clearly inspired my own styling in later years:

{QB, Christmas 1987}
Hot diggity dog I was cool.
What the heck happened?

[And yes. The trailer features dialogue that definitely wasn't in the film. Trust me. I've seen it too many times. I know.]

Also (re)watching

Les Miserables (festive, no?)

{Life goals: this sort of declaration, please.}
{Ooh, well, Harry, if you're passing Paperchase anyway I will have a box of
random feathery flamingos and maybe a set of fluoro Post-its, thankseverso.}

Love Actually 

Plus a monumentally excellent if deliciously dated episode of Drop the Dead Donkey:

Hosting πŸ›πŸΉ

Ms Caroline who dropped in from faraway Swindon Sweden for a few days. And very gamely came to choir practice with me on Thursday night.

On Friday, I had a day off so Caroline and I braved the train to Croydon and back, for a spot o' shopping. We've got this shopping thing down to a fine art now: we separate, shop (or in my case go into shops, spend twenty frickin' minutes looking for the one thing I actually want, find it, find it's too frickin' small – size four?! I haven't fit a size four since I was four and yes a lovely Primark employee went to see if they had a size ten flamingo jumper but alas ... – cry inside a bit, then leave)

{but it's OK because my megastar workmate Inger found me one in my size in Lakeside, WOOOOOOOHOOOO!}
{Curious book placement, spotted in WHS}
then we meet up, have a fika (coffee and snackage), shop some more, separate, meet up, have another fika ... catch a train home, separate, shop a little more (all the while ogling tempting little nuggets like these):

It's a talent, my friends.

And even though the trains were not that bad (well, we were travelling at non-crucial times), we still decided to reward ourselves that evening for managing to travel from A to B and back again plus all the shop-trogging, with a cosmopolitan mix (which had flown all the way from Gotland), popcorn and the all-essential Everest Spice (which is a necessity when Caroline is in town!).

And Les Miserables. 😭

(Gemma B, if you're reading this, I am still grinning at 'wobble wobble snot snot' in reference to Le Redmayne.)

On Saturday I stayed at home to tackle the bulk of the wrapping (!) while Caroline, er, shopped (she's a professional, I tell you), then after lunch and – you guessed it, more shopping – we shimmied round to the abode of Fiona and Bianka for the Annual Gingerbread Galore-fest! 🍬

Much sugar was inhaled, much mulled wine quaffed (by me ... hence my slightly wibbly attempts at house construction, which Caroline had to take in hand), and we actually made a house that stood up, if not out!

The theme was Alice in Wonderland and there were some delightful – and dark – interpretations happening! Not that I'm not proud of my marshmallow pig-baby, mind.

{Photo by Caroline}

{Photo by Caroline}

Many, many thanks to the hostesses, Fiona and Bianka, who kept us all sugared and mulled up to the eyeballs! You ladies are awesome.

{These last three photos by Bianka}
Massive big-ups also due to Ellen and C for bringing their A-game, and a festive, sugary holler to Jos, Steve, Fern, Amber and Finn!

Caroline and I were craving leaves and savouries by the time we got home so I served up marinated salmon fillets in sweet chilli sauce with very al dente steamed veg (!) and couscous, and we put off the diabetes risk for a few days at least.

Making crumble 🍏

... with some delicious apples

{Crumbled, actually; thanks for asking there, Matt.}
from workmate Maz's garden.

Having not made crumble in ages I was a bit rusty (plus I managed to hack into my finger with the apple peeler so, obligatory kitchen injury of the fortnight: sustained) but it wasn't harf bad.

Go me.

Animating πŸ“Ή

{The question remains, who let the goat in? Who? Who? Who? Who?}

Pinterest Pin of the Fortnight πŸ“Œ 

{Have had no time this fortnight to curate enough pins for the usual double-act so here's one for your enjoyment:)

{Make homemade Irish cream!}

Fortnightly Web Finds πŸ’»
  • She's just bein' Miley | Miley Cyrus brings her country roots to the already amazing a capella 'Jolene' with Dolly Parton and Pentatonix | on The Voice US | via YouTube (with thanks to Emily!) 

  • These siblings (eight of them! Eight! Who has that sort of time?!) put together an amazing Christmas dance every year | on YouTube via HeartEternal | with thanks to Glenda for sharing (Ma QB, check out that moment at 1m53secs where they perform my second-favourite dance step ever!)

Well, the next post I make will be, er, probably not on Christmas Day truth be told, but Boxing Day Monday, if you've been very, very good.

So it remains for me to wish all my readers (all four of you) a very Quirky Christmas!

I hope it's a good one, without any fear.

qb xx