Year: 2008

All of a sudden, I find myself inundated with reading. At first, I seemed to only have a couple of things going, but I realise now I am consuming at least four different things. I find myself less relaxed this holiday season than previous which is understandable with the new setting and responsibilities. My hobbies have suffered, especially reading and I’ve been piling on too much. I was sick last week and I have just returned from four days in Pembrokeshire, Wales for Christmas. Most of the day is already over which is how the winter works. I am glad the solstice is over and now the days can slowly get longer again.

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming is on the go, as is my rereading of Hamlet. The performance is on Tuesday which means I must dash through it. I started A Christmas Carol on the train to Wales, but I barely touched it then and not at all on my trip. I do not know if I should even try and finish it because the festive season is over. I am also listening to Book 3 of the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire mysteries Club Dead on audiobook.

Being in Wales reinvigorated my desire to travel especially in Britain, and I had the notion of going to Hay-on-Wye, Wales in the summer. I’ll have exams during the festival, but the book capital of the isles for a weekend sounds promising. Though, putting myself in a small town of thirty bookshops is also asking for trouble. I’ll definitely consider it even if it seems difficult to get to by public transport. Anyone been and any tips to offer?

The older I get the less time I get to read it seems. I finished most of the reading challenges that I joined, but I can no longer join as many as I would like. I will post another reading challenge update soon and assess/renew those that I can have. Reading is vital in my life, but so is looking for a job and a means to work to live.

This week and for the rest of what is left of today, I will read the aforementioned books. Possibly pick up Paris to the Moon for my reread; I’m heading off to France the 15th. If I do well, I may pick up Atonement at some point in the first days of new year or something light such as The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Have a good last couple days of 2008. Happy New Year!

Literary Links:

Modern Library’s 100 Best Nonfiction.

20 Amazing and Essential Nonfiction Books.

Europeana is up.

Online reading is -surprise- not as good as print reading, but more studies are required about the effects of screen reading.

More free classic e-books.

A list of prize-winning books online.

March 19th, 2012: This entry was an unfinished draft from December 2008. It is mostly complete so I decided to post it anyway just for my own records.

This week in food: fudge, chicken soup with tofu and mushroom, chicken, fishball and chinese vermicelli soup with mushrooms and celery,

Monday, December 15th, 2008

  • Breakfast: Cereal with yogurt
  • I made Fudge.
  • Lunch: Leftover rice and lemony chickpea stir fry
  • Snack/Early Dinner: Flatmate made noodles and stir fried beef with beans and zuchini
  • Dinner: Chicken soup with tofu and mushroom: I boiled and simmered two pieces of dark chicken meat in white pepper, salt, and ginger for about 25 minutes, added mushrooms, then green ions, and then silken tofu. I ate it with rice.

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with honey, raisins. Baked apple slices in the microwave with brown sugar and butter. Banana.
  • Lunch at Noodle Inn: Roasted Duck Ramee
  • Snack: blueberry cheesecake on Regent Street
  • Dinner: I made dinner by baking chicken (rinsed, dried, rubbed in olive oil, salt & pepper, in oven for 400’F for 30 then an additional 10 min at 350 until thigh temperature at 185) and making cauliflower and bean soup.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

  • Breakfast: Leftovers
  • Lunch: Out
  • Dinner: Cafe Opium in Oxford

Thursday, December 18th 2008

  • Snack: Cookie and Cafe Latte from Starbucks
  • Dinner: Rice. Hardboiled egg. Golden

Friday, December 19th 2008

  • Snack:
  • Dinner: Soup with chicken boiled and simmered in ginger, white pepper, and salt, then I added Chinese vermicelli (brean thread), fishballs, mushrooms, celery and green onions

March 19th, 2012: This entry was an unfinished draft from December 2008. It is mostly complete so I decided to post it anyway just for my own records.

Highlights this week: Magic Pudding Cake, Dense Hot Chocolate, and stir fried lemony chickpeas. Continue reading →

Mitered Mittens

My first started and completed project in London, but I don’t think I’ll need them that much even though everyone has been saying this has been an unusually cold December. Then again, I am from Canada. I digress; these mittens are lovely and easy. I went down to 3.75mm thinking these would be too big. They are actually now on the smallish side for mittens, but since I have small hands to begin with, they are more or less the right size. They were knit two at a time with magic loop. The thumb gusset mod is essential to me because I also prefer a gusset. They match my Noro Striped Scarf. The combination makes it very warm for this mildish climate.

Project 270/365 - Mitts

Mitered Mittes, started October 23rd 2008, finished December 7th 2008 Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Mitered Mittens (May) by Elizabeth Zimmermann from Knitter’s Almanac Ravelry Pattern Page
Yarn: Noro Kureyon (50 grams / 110 yards) #159 – less than 2 skeins (I have about 25ish grams in total left)
Needles: #5/3.75mm 40″/100cm Hiya Hiya metal circular with magic loop
Modifications: Grace’s thumb gusset mod.
Tools/Notions: Yarn holders, markers.
Cost of Project: $15 for yarn.
Would I knit it again? Yes, but I probably would make it a shorter cuff and go back up to 6.0mm.

Project 234/365 - Mitered Noro Mittens

This week, I finished book one of Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series and I am about to start book two. I only really need to read it and book three and then I will write a review of the eight books so far. I think I’ve been on the same scene in Hamlet for two weeks, but I did buy JKR’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard last week at Hatchards. I’ve read the first story out of five. It can be easily read in one or two sittings, and I must find the time. I may do it right after this entry actually.

Today, I went for a long walk by the Thames, mostly on the south side from Southwark Bridge to Westminister (and then back to London Bridge). Underneath Waterloo Bridge, there are tables piled with used books by a few booksellers.

Books under Waterloo Bridge

I must admit that I have a severe addiction to buying books, especially used books. I can not resist them especially when I find books I’ve loved or books I really want to read:

Books from Sunday Thames Walk

I am aware that all of these books are by British authors and that two of them are war novels. Three novels for £10.25, not as cheap as back home, but I do really want to read Atonement and Birdsong. Though finding the time for them is another thing. I have accepted that I probably will not get a library card, and that is not a guarantee of getting to read the books I want to read. I am glad I bought these. I never regret book purchases even if it is a vicious addiction. These aren’t the last books I will buy either; I can feel that my book acquirement lust is insatiable. I really will need to ship all my things back when I move out of the country.

I was so cold after I stood for at least 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour browsing books under a bridge that I popped in Foyles afterwards to browse which did not help the addiction. I am glad I went out, but now I must look away from all those tables when I do that walk again.

This week, I will finish Beedle Bard, read more Hamlet, start A Christmas Carol, start a Penguin Ian Flemming anthology that has Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, and Moonraker. That’s enough, but I have own so many books now! I still have a lot to do for school even if classes are over. I am leaving for Wales a week from Tuesday, and I will be bringing a couple of the aforementioned and maybe one of the sad war novels. Nothing like a romantic war novel for Christmas/Boxing Day.

Have a festive week.

Literary Links:

Austenbook – Working off of Hamlet on Facebook, this is wonderful.

Daily Routines – A really interesting blog that features routines of writers, artists and other people of import.

If you have an iPhone, you should read books on it.

15 Dazzling Modern Library Designs.

Not exactly literary, but Wikipedia has a List of Misconceptions.

And some more free online book resources: Book Bot, Bibliomania, and Page by Page.

Highlights include blondies, baked potatoes, and lots more cheese.

Continue reading →

Project 267/365 - Blondies

Lots of lovely dark brown sugar make this baked good. Chocolate chips made this extra gooey. The top skin was lovely. As usual, I cut a lot of sugar and some oil. I used a mix of margarine and sunflower and grapeseed oil because I did not have canola on hand at the time. They were chewy and sweet. Nice and decadent, but not as much as brownies, but the chocolate really adds a great touch. As I am not someone with a sweet tooth (funny since I bake so much), I would definitely cut the sugar down further.

adapted from Simply Recipes

  • 1/3 cup of butter, margarine or oil (melted)
  • 3/4 cup of tightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup of chocolate chips (optional or whatever chips you want to add)

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour an 8X8 pan. Whisk together the melted butter and sugar in a bowl.

2 Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk.

3 Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, mix it all together. Add the butterscotch chips or other mix-ins.

4 Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool. Cut into squares and serve.

Makes 9 blondies.

Highlights this week include roasted new potatoes with red onion, lots of egg fried rice, and homemade tomato sauce.

Continue reading →

Well, this has proved to a fruitful reading weekend. Since Friday night, I’ve read books four to eight of the Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire) Series by Charlaine Harris. I have not read the first three (and was spoiled by a friend) yet, but I will get back to rereading the series. They are quick reads, and I, like many others were attracted to the series by the HBO TV adaptation of it “True Blood”. The series is addictive (hence the reading four novels in less than 48 hours). I can not help compare it to the Stephenie Meyer Twilight series, and the Souhern Vampire series is advantaged in its older themes, but it is a better series all around, no doubt about it. The characterisation is well thought, the plots intriguing, the tone both humorous and dark. I can not wait until the book nine comes out in May.

As I said last week, I have begun rereading Hamlet slowly. I’m still in Act One, taking my merry time on bus rides and whenever I find myself free. This is probably my second rereading of the play. I do like Shakespeare (especially the sonnets); I like being able to read it aloud and hearing the iambic pentameter. I have read more tragedies than comedies though, but I do think Hamlet ranks highly among the ones I’ve read because it has some beautiful soliloquies. I dislike or am indifferent to all the characters except Horatio (only because he seems to be the most decent guy of the bunch). I do like the construction of the play, the use of the Mousetrap and the meta play within the play. Reading has made me more excited that I will be seeing it in a month on stage, and it will be a serious performance by the RSC. Of course, this was why I bought the book in the first place. More observations of the play as I continue to reread it. In the mean time, I bought my a few more books this week.

Project 259/365 - Dickens Book Haul

I did indeed buy A Christmas Carol and other Christmas stories by Charles Dickens. I really need to read up on some Dickens especially considering how English his works are. It’s debatable if I will actually read all these books. Little Dorrit was just adapted on BBC. I bought The Old Curiosity Shop simply because I actually pass buy it weekly when I’m in Holborn; the building looks the same more or less. I much prefer Penguin, Oxford or Everyman classics to Wordsworth, but each of these was only £1.75 eac at Lovejoys on Charring Cross Road. As much as I wanted to go for the 3 for 2 fiction deal at Borders, my frugality won out in the end. But with prices like that, I can get a few more classics there and save up for contemporary books later.

Next week, I will have reread more of Hamlet and maybe go past the first page of Year of Wonders. I want to start A Christmas Carol soon, but I’m starting to think I can wait a few more weeks before starting to. I want to read a lot of it on Christmas Eve to get in the real mood.

Have a good week!

Literary Links

FictionalCities – Recs of books set in Florence, Venice, Berlin, and London.

The New York Times 100 Most Notable Books of 2008 is out.

Schmoop is a new literature student guide. I read the Pride & Prejudice guide, and I liked the informal style of describing the books themes and characters. It made me really want to reread P&P (not that it is difficult to want to reread P&P).

Highlights for this week include mashed sweet potatoes, grilled cheese sandwiches (cheddar and goat cheese versions), spinach, tomato and egg stir fried together.

Continue reading →

Project 252/365 - My Old Place Chinese Restaurant

My Old Place: Authentic Northern Chinese
88 Middlesex Street
London, E1 7EZ
020 7247 2200
Tube: Liverpool Street Station, Aldgate

The Cost & Date: Thursday 20th November 2008 :: £65 for 5.

Food & Drink: We had soup, lamb on skewers, pig’s feet, fried crab, celery- mushroom- shrimp stir fry, this other dish I can’t remember and white rice of course. We had aloe vera for a drink.

Setting: Laid back Chinese style. No place mats, mandarin speaking staff, and 80% of customers were young Chinese. Apparently there’s a big basement with karaoke too. Type of place that is busy most nights with regular customers.

Service: Busy, but food came quick and fast. Card machine was broken. Good to bring cash to restaurants like this which are more on the laid back and unpretentious.

Story: One of my flatmates has been in London for five years and invited me and a few others to this place. She first went to this restaurant’s other location in Bethnal Green, but apparently that place is very small. I like this place, and the portion sizes are bigger than what you would pay for in Chinatown. The grilled lamb on skewers was really good; I definitely recommend it. The pig’s feet weren’t bad, but I’ve had better (at home and in China). We were all stuffed though and it is honestly a very good deal compared to some other places. We had leftovers and it was on the spicy side too which is nice.

Overall: Recommended for Northern Chinese food. Bring cash, and call ahead if you’re more than four any time and probably good to call ahead in general. People often line up for this place.

Last Sunday, my internet was down and I could not do any work so I read and finished Sense and Sensibility, but was unable to post a Salon entry. Today, I am reading for school (of course), but I am going to try and squeeze in the first chapter or so of Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.

Been very busy the last two weeks, but on Friday, I finally managed to take a long bus ride to Marylebone and headed to Daunt Books. Lovely, bookstore with a galleria of books by geographical location.

Project 253/365 - Daunt Books

Today, I also took a walk between the rainy periods to go to the Globe Theatre to buy a very tiny copy of Hamlet.

Mini Hamlet

Yes, my hand is small. It is bound in leather, unabridged, and only £4. I have a normal paperback sized copy back home in Canada, but this is a nice souvenir. It’s so small that I will have to take it with me everywhere. I’ve already read a couple of the first ickle pages, and it will offer some companionship in boring lectures perhaps.

The holidays are fast approaching which means more time to read again, and I think I will be buying copies of JKR’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard and A Christmas Carol. I have always wanted to read more Dickens, and being in England now, I think it’s essential he’s at the top of the TBR pile. Too bad, I left Bleakhouse back in Canada, but I will scour Charring Cross Road and Hatchard’s for some cheap Dickens in the coming months.

Have a good week.

Literary Links:

The Europeana site, Europe’s digital library, had to be shut down after its release this week, but will be coming back mid-December. I’m anticipating it.

Based on the Book – a listing of all books, plays, poes that have been adapted. The site also has some other good booklists.

BBC News had a piece for World Philosophy Day. While not very literary, still very interesting.

A page of other literary links.