This chocolate sesame butter is quite possibly my new favorite sweet condiment. Rich, chocolatey and nutty, it's delicious on bread, pancakes and french toast, and comes together from 4 ingredients in under 5 minutes.
Item: I have been incredibly impressed by hp-for-business customer support the last couple of days. Not only did the lady sort out the recalcitrant printer that had proved resistant to both mine and Alisdair's best efforts, but she rang me back today to check that things were still OK and it was still working (it was).
Item: I've taken to instagram like a duck to water. I'm pretty active (user name is jennierigg) and I'm mostly posting pictures of my doggies. The accounts I am following fall into four categories: 1, People I actually know; 2, accounts which post pictures of cute doggies; 3, accounts which post pictures of hot guys with beards; and 4, artists I admire - mostly tattoo and comicbook, but not exclusively. Oh, and there's also the amazing collision of 2 and 3 that is Hot Dudes With Dogs.
If you want to be bombarded with pictures of my doggies, occasional gym updates and photos of food, and comments on your photos do feel free to follow me there.
Item: Mental health has been... Not bad but not great. I have been quite low through the end of January, and the nightmares have been about 3 times a week. However, touch wood, things seem to be picking up. I'm slightly anxious about getting a Case Of The Februaries, but also hoping that the Februaries just came early and I got them out of the way in January. I did write up the nightmare I had the other day, and writing it out helped. I then gave it a cheesy happy ending. If there's demand I might post it.
A thing that's helping mental health a LOT is that I'm getting in a reasonable amount of reading time recently. Current OMG WOW SHE'S AMAZING author is Tananarive Due. Thoroughly recced to all of you.
Item: Physical health is pretty good. I'm not doing much cycling because the canal path is still buggered after the floods in late December - although matgb is on about taking me road cycling soon, despite my nerves - but I'm doing really well at the gym and in the pool, and getting some decent walks in every so often. I've got pretty impressive muscles at the mo.
Item: A week today I am going to go for the first appointment for my next tattoo. I has the excite! This has been ages in gestation; Matt has been sending me rough sketches by email, and it's going to be amazing. He's a genuinely awesome artist too. Really exciting. So that's probably going to go on Instagram; it'll also affect my swimming a little bit, because I'll have to not swim for a week after having it done. Boo. Shall have to do treadmill or something equally dreadful for cardio. :(
Hmm. Maybe rowing machine? Rowing machine is not that dreadful...
Item: Daughter continues fabulous. She's really settled in at the old Alma Mater, and has chosen her GCSE options this month
*pauses to pass smelling salts to those who remember her being born and are now feeling faint with age*
Doggies are also great, and very snuggly. And I'm coping OK with having all my boys under one roof, even if it is a bit crowded and a bit rubbish not having my own room any more.
Item: Job continues pretty good - I honestly think if I'd have still been in my old job I would have had a total breakdown two or three times in the last few months. So yeah, I'm really glad of Job. The work itself is fun, the pay is better than any job I have ever had before, and I'm not overburdened. It's pretty cool. I'm still getting used to not having to scrimp for every penny, and trying not to splurge every payday, which is harder than it looks. But I'm getting there...
Item: LibDemmery... I'm not even going there. Everything is hanging on York at the moment. We'll see.
So, yeah, that got longer than I expected. Um. Sorry. But you're all now updated on everything. I think...
Let me know if you'd like to see my nightmare.
The news today makes this a little easier; I have struggled to keep it near 500 words as it is.
I’ve always loved Top Gear; I’m reasonably sure I watched it from birth. Angela Rippon is the first TG presenter I really remember, but I as I grew I developed soft spots for Quentin Willson’s eyebrow and the amazing Vicki Butler-Henderson. When it was reborn under the aegis of the brash-but-funny Clarkson in 2002 I mourned that they’d got rid of the large roster of presenters in favour of just three, but figured I’d give it a go. I didn’t like the initial lineup of the Clarkson series - the guy they’d got to fill Quentin Willson’s role as secondhand car expert really didn’t work, and it was all very stilted. You could see they were trying to up the comedy content, but for whatever reason it wasn’t quite working.
For series two, they brought in James May and the magic happened. Clarkson, Hammond and May are the testosterone-laden equivalent of Maiden, Mother and Crone: Young Risk Addict, Geek, and Middle-Aged Boorish Twat. I don’t like everything they did, I didn’t like all the jokes, especially not the racist/sexist ones, but they always made clear you were supposed to laugh AT the Middle-Aged Boorish Twat, that it was a persona, the real Clarkson ramped up to 11 and with all the safeties off… and thus I felt quite comfortable watching TG and even participating in online fandom because it wasn’t real. Every time Clarkson appeared on QI or HIGNFY, or did his occasional forays into WWII on BBC4, he showed that the Middle-Aged Boorish Twat was merely persona, Sun columns nothwithstanding.
Then he assaulted an underling for not getting him the food he wanted. And I felt a lot less comfortable… I think the beeb did the right thing in sacking him, and every pronouncement he has made since they sacked him (especially about transfolk) has only confirmed me in that view. I am sad that the other two decided to go with him, but not really surprised. They do work as a trio.
As for the new lineup? It does rather look like someone has been ticking boxes. Three middle-aged white guys (one ginger), two foreigners, one black guy, one woman… Plus The Stig, who is Schroedinger’s Diversity tickybox - the pose they hold in the photo of the team released today makes it impossible to even guess at gender, never mind race, sexuality, and so on. I’m glad they’ve confirmed Sabine, and am amused that the best actual driver (bar Stiggy) on the new show is going to be
My ideal lineup?
Vicki Butler-Henderson, Suzi Perry and Sabine treating James May as the Smurfette would suit me.
I've gone slightly over word count at 521 there, but I hope you can forgive me.
First, a definition: as far as I am concerned, blogging does not just mean “writing a blog”. That’s part of it, certainly, but just as vital are reading other people’s blogs, commenting and moderating comments, sharing links to interesting blogs written by other people, etc. If you just write without doing any of the rest of it, you’re Doing It Wrong.
That out of the way, there are several reasons why I blog.
I’ve been doing it for over 15 years, now. I started before the term “blog” was even a thing (yes, of course, on LiveJournal), and I continue now it’s old hat and out of fashion. Very often I get the thought “I must write something about that”, and almost a quarter of the time I actually get around to doing it.
When I got out of the habit of blogging for a while when my depression was really bad, it made things far worse. I lost some of the web of connections which strengthens my feeble grasp on sanity. This was not a good thing. I am glad I have reaquired the habit, if not quite as prolifically as at some points in the past.
2, Mental Health
It helps me, a lot of the time, to get things down. Sometimes just writing it helps, sometimes posting it publicly helps; often it’s the easiest way to tell loved ones what I am thinking. For example: this morning I have been turning the nightmare I had last night into a fic which may or may not get posted publicly later; the nightmare is now less scary because I’ve pinned it down to the screen and made it squirm.
Additionally, like Andy has, I have found that my friends tell me that my blogging helps them; both in understanding where I am coming from and in clearing their own thoughts, or even just so that they know they are not alone in thinking or feeling X or Y. Every time I think I have overshared, someone will post a comment or send me an email or a twitter DM saying “thank you for posting that, it really helped me to deal with a similar thing”, or words to that effect.
If I didn’t blog I wouldn’t have such a strong and diverse friends group full of interesting people. I reckon 90% of the friends that I really value I met through blogging, and a further 5% on top of that are people I met online before ever blogging. My attitude to blogging and it’s component parts is shared by a lot of others, and thus a little overlapping set of communities are formed, and it’s genuinely the biggest, most lifechanging thing I have ever been involved in. I met all my current partners either directly or indirectly as a result of blogging. I joined a political party because of blogging. I can’t overstate the importance of blogging to me, really.
and I think you'll find that's exactly 500 words ;)
I'm going to take a wild guess that if you hadn't read the title of this post, you wouldn't have guessed that there's no butter or chicken in this "Butter Chicken". But thanks to some clever kitchen tricks, this rich, flavorful plant-based curry is meaty and loaded with lip-smacking umami. For thos
There's no need to spend a fortune on expensive "gourmet" chili powders when you can make one thats more fragrant at home for a fraction of the price. This one can be put together in about 10 minutes, so you can always have freshly made chili powder when you need it. #spice #spices #texmex #mexican
It amazes me how much money people spend on “gourmet” chili powders. They often come in some kind of kitschy packaging (like a burlap sack or a cowboy hat), with promises such as “Authentic!”, "World's Best", or “Award Winning!” emblazoned all over them. Inside the impressive packaging, you're likel
Best Novella (between 17,500 and 40,000 words)The categories I have left off are the ones I think I have enough things to nominate in without crowdsourcing stuff I might not have seen, but if there's an novels or short stories you genuinely think I might have missed, do drop those in the comments too. Obvs I might not get chance to check everything out, but I'll do my best.
Best Novelette (between 7,500 and 17,500 words)
Best Related Work
Best Graphic Story
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
Best Fan Writer
Best Fan Artist
The John W. Campbell Award for new writers (1st published 2014 or 2015)
Over to you lot! :)
(to the tune of Jerusalem)If you want to have a go, you can find the details, such as they are, at the bottom of the page detailing the winners of their last competition.
And did the Brits
In Ancient time
Pinch all your country's wealth from you?
And did we pinch
Your words as well
To add to England's language true?
We shall pretend the world is ours
By some divine right or something
But really we're the bestest thieves
You see we even nicked this tune
This month on NHK World, I'm the guest chef on Delicious Japan: the show where we introduce tasty ingredients from all over Japan. The ingredient for this episode? Kanjime Spinach from Hokkaido. By growing the spinach in very cold conditions, the farmers there able to substantially increase the sug