Archive | August, 2011

Pippa has arrived!

31 Aug

I’m talking about the bag and not the now famous sister of the Duchess of Cambridge.  I came across the bag after I was poring over a People magazine article about Pippa Middleton’s fashion style.  I saw the bag in a picture of Pippa and her family coming out of the hotel they had booked for THE wedding and I fell in love.  With Pippa.  The bag.  Not the person.

I didn’t know what the bag brand name was until I saw a blog entry in the Bag Hag’s blog.  She said that it was from a British brand called Modalu (thank you Ingrid!!!).  So I quickly googled the brand and fell in love with everything on the website.  And, if I earned more than I really do, I’d have loved to get everything, with matching purses!  But alas, I am only a regular working girl who can, once in a very long while, afford to treat herself.

The bag was unavailable.  Quelle horreur!!!  I think everyone had the same idea as I did.  Although I think they wanted a piece of P-Middy more than they wanted a piece of Modalu.  I’d like to think though, that they saw the brilliant functionality of the bag, so they wanted to have it as well!  I signed up for alerts to be told when the Pippa would be available.

When the e-alert arrived telling me that the bag was again available, I told myself that if I put it off for a couple of days, it would still be there.  Boy was I wrong!  When I logged on, ready with my credit card to buy the bag, the website said the Pippa, in all 5 colours, were out of stock.  AGAIN.

I signed up for alerts again.  This time determined to get the bag.  I’d decided to get the black medium grab Pippa, mostly because black is always such a classic and I felt that it would go with everything I had.  I’d been tempted to get the shark (gray) coloured one and the tan one.  But I already had a brown purse which I adored and I already had a taupe coloured bag as well.  When the e-alert finally arrived telling me that the bag was again available, I pulled out the trusty credit card and placed an order for a medium grab Pippa.

And so began the wait.  There was a bit of  snag though.  But the customer service team at Modalu are amazing!  It took 5 minutes to sort out the dupe charge on my card and the delivery address reroute.  Thank you Chloe!

Apart from the bag being really pretty, I bought the bag because of its many pockets.  It’s my attempt at being organised.  It will have enough compartments to help me in my attempt to stop fishing around my bag for my keyring!

And without further ado, I present, the Pippa Strip tease…again, the BAG and not P-Middy!  Strip tease inspired by the one and only Bag Hag.

Modalu's Pippa Black Medium GrabIt comes in this lovely cloth storage bag.

Modalu's Pippa Black Medium GrabIt’s meant to be a bag that you carry on your arm or “grab” by the 14cm straps

Modalu's Pippa Black Medium GrabIt also comes with a shoulder strap which will make it comfy to carry when you’re on a walkabout!

Modalu's Pippa Black Medium GrabThey always say, posing at a 45° angle was good!

Modalu's Pippa Black Medium GrabThere she is, in all her functional beauty.  I can’t wait to start moving my things into the compartment.  Having a new bag will definitely help going to work feel a bit easier!


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Quotable Adlai Stevenson

30 Aug

“It is not the years in your life
but the life in your years that counts!”
~Adlai E. Stevenson (1835-1914), 23rd US Vice-President

I loved this quote when I saw it.  It was an excellent reminder of my need to prioritise properly.  I think it’s important that I remember that doing the best that I can at my job is always the goal.  But an even more important goal is to have work-life balance.  All work and no play makes Yelly a very dull girl!

I think this quote is very apt for the Tuesday right after the bank holiday Monday when everyone (in the UK anyway) is wondering why they got out of bed this morning.  And the goal is to find balance (a small cynical voice in my head is saying, “Well good luck with that!”)!

Chick pea-chorizo-pork stew

29 Aug

This recipe evolved because I missed the callos dish that my mom prepared for us.  Callos is made with beef tripe and has chorizo and red bell peppers and is served over rice.  When I moved to England, I didn’t know where to buy tripe because there weren’t any butchers that were close by and the bigger supermarkets didn’t have tripe on their shelves.  I had to figure out how to get my callos fix without having to buy tripe.  It was a brainwave when I remembered that oxtail is also used to make kare-kare (which is a peanut-based stew popular in the Philippines).  So I figured, if I used oxtail soup, then it would give me the taste of tripe.

This is an excellent soup for the winter months when you need something hearty and hot.  It can be served on rice or eaten on its own.  If you plan to not have it as a rice topping, I’d suggest adding another can of chick peas or a can of cannellini beans or red kidney beans to make it more substantial.  You can choose to add a spicy kick to it by adding either the cayenne pepper or the tabasco sauce.  I’ve been known to add both though.  It just adds a really comforting heat to the stew during the winter months.

This is a slow-cook recipe but it is definitely worth the wait!

Inspired by a tweet from Daphne Oseña Paez, requesting that I share the recipe, I challenged myself to weigh ingredients and approximate amounts.  So here goes(…nothing?!?)!

Chick pea-chorizo-pork stewIngredients:

  • 1 kilo belly pork cut into cubes
  • 226 grams of chorizo, cut into 1/4 inch disks
  • 2 400g cans of chopped tomato
  • 1 400g can of Heinz Oxtail soup
  • 1 400g can of chickpeas (or 240g of dried chickpeas soaked in water overnight to soften)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 600g potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 large white onions,
  • 3 heaping teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 pork stock cubes
  • 1 litre water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
    or
  • 2 teaspoons tabasco sauce, optional

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a stock pot on medium heat.  Add the chorizo disks and fry until they crips around the edges.  When the chorizo oil turns the bottom of the pan slightly red, add the onions.  Reduce the heat slightly  Once the onions are softened and slightly translucent, add the garlic sautee for 2 minutes (approximately).
  2. Add the pork and sautee for about 15 minutes, until fat in the pork belly cubes have rendered slightly and the flesh has lost its pink colour.  Add chopped tomatoes, oxtail soup, pork stock cubes, 500 ml of the water and spices.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, making sure the pork pieces and chorizo don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Once the stock begins to boil, reduce heat to allow it to simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Increase heat again, to add potatoes and chick peas and remaining water.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  It’s at this point that I add either 1 heaping teaspoon of cayenne pepper or 2 teaspoons of tabasco sauce for a kick.  You don’t have to add both if you don’t want it to be too spicy. Bring to a slow boil and reduce heat and allow to slow cook for a further hour, or until the pork is tender.
  5. This will serve 4-6 greedy people if served as an all-in-one meal or 8-10 if served over a bowl of rice.

Weekend Pudding: Applesauce Cake

28 Aug

I brought applesauce cakes to work on Monday because someone at work had given me cooking apples. Since I got the apples for free, I thought it was only fair for me to share.  I featured the cakes for the first time in my 6-word Story entry.

I’ve been using this recipe for ages so I know it’s fool-proof.  That’s why I feel confident sharing this recipe.  This cake batter can be used as a base for any cake with fruit.  This works well with bananas (you only have to add 3-4 mashed overripe bananas).  You can replace the apples in this recipe with 2 cups of chopped pineapples as well.  To make the recipe more festive (for the holidays), add 2 teaspoons nutmeg to the flour mixture in the cake.

Applesauce Cake, August 2011Ingredients:

Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup full cream milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Applesauce mixture

  • 2-3 medium-sized cooking apples,peeled, cored and diced finely
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.  Grease 2 loaf pans.
  2. To make the applesauce mixture, combine ingredients in a saucepan, making sure everything is well-incorporated.
  3. Over a low heat, bring to a slow boil.  When sauce has thickened, remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Mix flour, baking soda and salt together.  Either sift, if required, or mix using a wire whisk.  Set aside.
  5. Cream butter and sugar together.  Once butter has turned smooth and fluffy, add eggs, one at a time. making sure everything is well-incorporated.  Add the vanilla.
  6. Fold in flour mixture, adding 1/4 of the mixture each time.  Alternate adding the flour mixture with adding the milk, also a 1/4 portions at a time.  Add the applesauce mixture and make sure everything is well-combined.
  7. Pour into pans and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pans and cooling completely on wire racks.
  9. Wrap in cling film and store at room temperature for up to 5 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

First Bus Essex Disappointment

27 Aug

According to the message from the First Group Essex’ regional managing director, Nigel Barrett, “First is proud to be able to provide an unrivalled service to this corner of the country.”  Hmmm.  Nigel Barrett might want to check on the #61/61A bus service from North Station to Wivenhoe for this supposedly “unrivalled service”.  Did he mean unrivalled bad or non-existent service?

I commute to work because I don’t drive.  Yet.  I’m now seriously rethinking this whole commute thing.  It may be cheaper and more convenient for me to drive.  Because the train fares are scheduled to go up again, but mostly because the bus service that I use is very unreliable.  The only reliable thing about the 61/61A bus service from North Station to Wivenhoe is that it is either going to be late or it will not arrive at all.

One horrific experience was waiting for the 61A bus to take me to North Station for over an hour in winter time, in the cold, in the dark.  I was intending to get on either the 16:47 or the 17:07 so I was at the bus stop at 16:42 and waited for my bus.  But at 18:15, I had begun to realise that the bus was never going to get there.  So why did I wait, you ask, erm, because the schedule said that there was going to be a bus.  And I called Traveline, and the person I spoke to said a bus was coming, that it was on schedule.  They lied, on this particular day.  I called a cab company and got a taxi to North Station.

I wrote an email to First Bus by using the form on their website.  I’m still waiting for a reply.  That experience happened in November 2010.

The 61/61A bus is always late or never arrives.  I can say this with absolute certainty because I’ve stood there, at the bus stop on Whitehall Road waiting for the bus.

Two weeks ago, I decided to take the earlier bus because I wanted to get home earlier that evening (I’d gotten to work before 8AM that day!).  So walked to the bus station fully expecting to get on either the 1607 or the 1627 bus.  But the bus arrived after 16:35.  I was irritated but it was a sunny day and I was determined not to let it get to me.

On the 24th of August, I’d decided to go home early again because I’d gotten to work early.  I walked to the bus station with enough time to get on the 16:27 bus.  I’d seen a 61 bus pass by and I felt a certain amount of relief because that usually meant that the bus service was running and the 61A bus to North Station would arrive soon.  A lady was already there waiting at the stop.  16:27 had gone by.  So I thought I’d check the bus schedule posted on the bus station just to make sure that I had it right, that there was going to be a bus at16:27.   It clearly said there would be buses every 20 minutes.  The lady noticed that I was checking the bus times and she said she’d been at the bus station at 10 to four that afternoon and that the bus for 16:07 had not arrived.  Finally, the bus arrives (with another one right behind it!) and the lady who was waiting with me obviously thought it would be a good thing for the bus driver to know that the bus was late.

So she said to the bus driver that the bus was late and she had missed her connection.  What does the bus driver say to her?  “Not my problem!”  And to add insult to injury, while the lady was taking a seat, he shouts to her, “Are you trying to start a fight?”  When the lady doesn’t reply, the driver says, “I didn’t think so.”

I quickly sent a tweet to First Buses East to let them know what had happened.  I didn’t think a paying customer should’ve treated the way this lady was.  The least the bus driver could’ve done was say that the complaint was noted.

The reply tweet I got today, 27 August, was not what I was expecting.  I guess whoever was managing the First Bus Essex Twitter account shared the same sentiments as the driver.  That the passenger shouldn’t complain anymore since she was on the bus already!

Here’s the tweet exchange:

FirstBusEast Tweet

I used to work as a customer service representative.  So I know what customer service is.  This was NOT customer service.

Shame on you First Bus Essex!

Up

26 Aug

Dovercourt Lighthouse, West End Promenade, Harwich 2009Dovercourt Lighthouse, West End Promenade, Harwich 2009

Quotable Audrey Hepburn

25 Aug

Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast At Tiffany's

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, ‘I’m possible’!”
~Audrey Hepburn