Jul 30, 2009

Storms, Storms and More Storms....

Driving back from Jacksonville in my small car was a bit hairy yesterday. This was the sky before I set off...ominous. I was actually jealous of all the 4 x 4 trucks and big SUVs (although I don't want the gas bill thanks!). The weather was atrocious. I managed to get a little video on my Blackberry...and before you tell me 'that's a bit dangerous' I know, but I wanted you to see what it's really like in Florida during the summer...Of course the morning and lunchtimes are beautiful, hot without and cloud in the sky, but come the afternoons the storms normally move in...I think this year its been the worst since I got here (3rd summer), definitely more rain anyway.

So yesterdays drive home was miserable. After I'd got some chores done today I decided to go and catch a few rays, it was a beautiful afternoon and Gary and I were going to go for a swim.

After a few lengths I was lying reading my book on the sunbed when there was the slightest rumble of thunder...uh oh, here we go again...withing 10 mins I was in my pyjamas, Gary was cuddled up on the bed and the heavens had opened up on us... is 5.30pm too early for PJ's?

Loads to do tomorrow. Grass needs cutting, AC man is coming, water is being delivered and to cap it all Gary is being sheared!..I'll post some before and after photos of hairy boy tomorrow..

Jul 29, 2009

Round the world with Gary's Blog...

I was looking at the blog stats today and was amazed that Gary and I have been visited by lots of different countries, the latest being Han Noi, Vietnam...I wondered what they had searched for when they had landed on our blog....could it be Bahama Mama's ? perhaps Han Noi was having a Caribbean party? or maybe it was 'pastry less quiche'...aaah no that's what they were searching for in Sydney...no it was Elizabeth "video et taceo"... apparently they were interested in the odd fact that I was born on the same day as Queen Elizabeth I... how bizarre!

I'm back home tonight...don't get excited it's not the weekend yet!, lawn mowing and pool cleaning to do as we are having a weekend up at the beach this weekend and I might even get a game of golf in...I have some horrible video of my journey home, I'll post tomorrow, but for now night night.

Jul 26, 2009

Love happens in all sorts of places.....

A heartwarming story on the BBC website about a hamster and snake love affair...purely platonic you understand!
A rodent-eating snake and a hamster have developed an unusual bond at a zoo in the Japanese capital, Tokyo.
Their relationship began in October last year, when zookeepers presented the hamster to the snake as a meal.
The rat snake, however, refused to eat the rodent. The two now share a cage, and the hamster sometimes falls asleep sitting on top of his natural foe.
"I have never seen anything like it," a zookeeper at the Mutsugoro Okoku zoo told the Associated Press News agency.
The hamster was initially offered to Aochan, the two-year-old rat snake, because it was refusing to eat frozen mice.
As a joke, the zookeeper said they named the hamster Gohan - the Japanese word for meal.
"I don't think there's any danger. Aochan seems to enjoy Gohan's company very much," said zookeeper Kazuya Yamamoto.
The apparent friendship between the snake and hamster is one of many reported bonds spanning the divide between predator and prey.

Jul 23, 2009

Dirty Dog

Just a quick one as I have been so busy and the last thing you guys want to read about is me slaving away on a lap top!
Just had some cute pics of hairy son to show you...he got his face down into the bowl I'd mixed my sardines up in at lunchtime and was covered in tomato sauce...these are after I've scrubbed his head and he still looked dirty..I should have taken a picture before I cleaned him as he was an interesting shade of orange! Enjoy!

Jul 21, 2009

Birthdays, Beaches, Secret Shopping and Skunks!

Today was a busy day - hubby's birthday and secret shopping...hmmm ' Hubby, I'm taking you out for nice steak dinner.' don't tell him I'm getting reimbursed for it and we will be timing everything ;-) He was supposed to have the whole day off today, but worked from 7 - 1 so got home about 1.30pm...and then told me we had to go to the driving licencing office to replace his licence as it ran out today!...hmmm..how exciting!

We went for a spot of lunch at
Moe's Southwest Grill, which my friend Anne would love has she is 'jalapeno' head and they'll pile them high for you.. and then programmed the Tom Tom to take us to the DL office...big mistake. We had the choice of 3 main offices and the closest one to us was the only one that took non-US citizen license applications...fine for me, but for hubby we did not need to wait 1 1/2 hours in the queue! Fortunately the nice lady on the reception desk pointed is in the direction of the tax collector offices which can also renew licenses. We scanned the page of locations she gave us and saw one was in Neptune Beach ...hmmm, that sound nice we thought lets go there..

Well for anyone needing to renew their licence then this is the office to go to. Clean, welcoming efficient staff, perfect in fact. We were in and out in 7 mins! and then decided as we were nearly by the sea that we'd take a drive from Neptune Beach up the coast a little to see what was there.
Firstly we'll be back to Neptune beach as the little restaurants and boardwalks look super cute,

but today we were in the mood for a nose past all the great beach houses on the coast here.

We drove slowly up the coast towards Atlantic Beach and passed the most gorgeous places (reminder to self ..buy lottery ticket!), lots of the houses covered in cedar shingle on the outsides, making them look old world (most of them are very modern though!) mixed in with more modern designed property. We drove past a house for sale..pretty innocuous from the road side....I thought...hmm that looks nice (daydreaming about living at the beach) so this morning I tracked it down on the Internet! My innocuous little house is actually a mansion and nearly $4.5 million! It seams that the roadside is the 'crappy' part and it goes all the way back to the beach... 6500 sq ft, with a guest house and of course a gorgeous pool...hmmm, lets do the calculations...our house wouldn't even cover the deposit, and then we'd have a $20K mortgage a month...hmmm how the other half live!..but nice to dream!

The road we were on was Beach Avenue - it's beautiful with lots of gorgeous over hanging trees, and beautiful flowers. We saw a parking area with beach access and decided to stop..I'm glad we did as the beach was nearly empty, the sun was blazing down and the sea was super warm.

Beach both ways nearly empty..probably an easy day for the life guards!
We walked along the beach for about a mile...it's long beautifully clean sand and it's great to look at all the expensive houses backing up to the beach...the only time I wouldn't want one of these is during a hurricane, its a fab place to live.
Hubby enjoying the warm water
Hubby getting hit by a big wave!
But all good things must come to an end, we still had secret shopping to do tonight and Gary was at home and he was going to mad at us when he smelt the beach...he loves the beach! (Incidentally he can go to the beach here, we just need a tag for him - I am investigating how to get one now)
We arrived back at the apartment, Gary went crazy of course so I took him for a walk to calm him down...we were just rounding the corner when I spotted a skunk...it was one of those 'wish i had a camera' moments, he also spotted us and slopped off into the undergrowth by the woods..I wondered whether Gary would be able to pick his scent up... well I was very proud of our hairy son..he was on it nearly immediately and with bum in the air and nose to the ground, tail wagging furiously, he took us to all the places the skunk had been ( fortunately not to the skunk itself!)..I had to drag him back to the apartment...at least we know his nose works now!
Then it was off secret shopping...a nice steak restaurant in Jax beach. The food was good, our waitress excellent, the hostess was useless...guess she won't be getting too many Brownie points on my report...!! The best bit, it will be free when I submit my report, which is what I'm off to do now.

Jul 20, 2009

Stone cold lizard killer in the Jacksonville sun...

I thought that I would take you out with me on a walk with Gary today. During the week we live in an apartment in Jacksonville while my husband works on the new courthouse here ..

Pretty cool building huh?

I go home with Gary every weekend to look after our house...but I digress....

Our apartment complex is on a nature preserve and we see all sorts of flora and fauna each day when we walk round. The complex is huge - it's a mile to walk to the reception office! There are trails that allow you to walk through the woods to other sections of the apartments and mini lakes all around. There are swimming pools, gyms and tennis courts, all the good stuff, and although it's a little old it's been well maintained and its a change from our house...and heh, my hubbie has a job, so no complaints from me in this economy!

Gary and I have some nice walks mapped out now, and today we took a camera....

Come on mummy...you are lagging
So we were off and immediately came to a standstill whilst Gary stopped to lick on something in the grass..as I got over I saw that it was a beer bottle...Heineken...well at least Gary is showing his European streak ;-) pulling him away I hurried him along the path around the small lake outside our apartment and onwards..

We were soon stopping again for Gary to chase a lizard. This is not a good omen for the rest of the walk as once he's seen one he is obsessed.

I dragged him onwards and we were soon being barked at by the annoying little pugs that the people living in the apartments across the way leave on their balcony all day. I have a few problems with this..

  1. The balcony is about 12 x 6 ft..on it there is a table and chairs, a plant and the cages for the two pugs...pretty crowded
  2. It's been nearly 100f with the humidity factor, and although they have a fan up there for them I don't think that it's really going to make much difference
  3. The people used to bring them down to 'potty' (note...no baggies ever used to pick up ...nice) but now they are so lazy they don't even bother, so the animals are pottying up on the balcony
  4. They are vicious little f****..they bark and growl at everyone and everything and now they have broken through the screen in an attempt to break out...

Looks cute...trust me he's not
But we got past without a pug committing hari kari on us, and continued on with what was now a full blown lizard hunt.
Every tree had to be investigated and either marked or sniffed or both! no stone or mushroom was left unturned - although as Gary went mooching towards these I pulled him away quickly as I had visions of a hallucinating dog!

The prey....it's pretty hard to get pictures of lizards when your naughty little dog is trying to rip them apart...the lizards normally have a sixth sense that they should be moving...quickly!

AND THEN IT HAPPENED...and it doesn't happen very often as lizards are quick little buggers!...Gary caught and killed a lizard. Now I'm not particularly squeamish, but the picture I took was not really suitable for a blog! Naughty Gary..( that's about number 10 by the way!) I tried to pull him away, but it's like a red haze descends on him...and then it was dead, no longer struggling under the pounding of his paws...and then the haze disappears and he just looks at it...I am disgraced..my dog is a stone cold killer showing no remorse...the strange thing is is that once the murder has been committed he no longer wants to chase and missed 3 or 4 more juicy lizards on the way back home...
Is there counselling for dogs? or maybe it should be who should be me having the counseling as they say dogs take on their owners personalities...

Jul 19, 2009

Giant Jellyfish...

Just a quick one as this caught my eye in the news...

Giant Jellyfish descend on the Sea of Japan, causing untold devastation to coastal villages and leaving a trail of destruction and human misery behind. (CNN)


Ritters, Rain and a fresh smelling dog!

My intention this weekend when we went back to our house was to catch some rays. Last weekend was pretty miserable in the sun department, so I thought I'd top up the tan whilst doing the normal weekend chores of lawn mowing and pool cleaning..and then maybe get my book and lay out for a bit soaking up some sun....

So all was going well, the sun was out while we mowed the lawn and I was getting excited about jumping in the pool to cool off (although with the water at 85f it's not really that refreshing, more warm soup like....) Lawn finished, I went and got my swimming togs on and started brushing the pool...as I looked over the lake behind out house I heard thunder and saw the clouds starting to gather. I thought, no problems, it will be an age before it gets here, still plenty of time to use the cleaner...I started with the spa and then hopped in the pool to push the cleaner around...( we need an automatic one, but they are toooooooo expensive at the moment as we still have to finish paying for the pool!)

As I was finishing up the sun had already passed behind the clouds and it had started to sprinkle...within a minute I was gathering my towel and Gary inside as the heavens opened..I'm starting to think it's someone looking down and disapproving of me in a bikini ;-)

So this was in for the next hour, and where as Anne, my friend in England, was complaining about her 2.5 cm in an hour, we had about 2 inches...proper rain Anne, proper rain!

What to do?...I looked down at my wet dog and decided as he was wet already he may as well have a bath. Gary doesn't particularly like having a bath, but we love it when he's had one as he looks and smells so good...

We have used TropiClean products on him since he arrived from the shelter. They are a green initiative company with great products for your dog..Gary still has the puppy shampoo and conditioner, but next time we may try the Awapuhi White Shampoo for white dogs.... ( on a side note the pet & feed store that sold these products at home has recently closed down, a symptom of this economy and the fact that Petco has recently opened in our home town, sad to see them go as they offered a real personal service so hard to find these days...)

Anyway Gary was freshly bathed ( at which point he has a mad 5 mins running around the house...we think it's his way of drying off! ) and then collapsed on the sofa, super cute as he was cuddling a cushion... of course he soon woke up when I tried to sneak a quick pic of him, and posed for the camera!.. see how nice and fluffy he looks!

Hubbie and I headed out for a spot of late lunch as the weather was still not up for much, a Quizno's tuna sub ( see, I managed to get him fish again!!) and some Ritters Frozen Custard. If you've never had frozen custard I can't recommend highly enough..I don't like ice cream, but I'm always up for some Ritters! They're not everyone around the country, but if you know where one is or are passing one, go - it's creamy, delicious goodness!

Jul 17, 2009

Healthy Eats and Tasty Treats! Pastry-Less Quiche

My hubbie has had a few health problems recently, nothing too bad we think, but it's definitely concentrated the mind to lose some weight and improve his eating habits. I'm trying to get more fish into his diet and we're eating less fat. To try and make it less boring for him I'm cooking his favourite things, but cutting down on the fattening elements...

The other night we had a 'pastry-less' quiche and salad...made with all organic ingredients and I'm going to share as it was delicious.

  • 2 pots of Rachael's Roasted Red Pepper Cottage Cheese
  • 1 large roasted red pepper - sliced
  • 1 small can / jar of marinated artichokes - roughly chopped
  • 4 organic large eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 organic tomato
  • 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan
  • 1/2 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • optional tablespoon of cooked bacon bits
  • 1/2 teaspoon of colive oil
9" glass pie dish

Heat oven to 350F / 175 C

  • Whisk the eggs
  • Gently combine the eggs with all the other ingredients except the tomato and olive oil
  • Grease the pie dish with the olive oil
  • Gently pour mixture into pie dish
  • Slice tomatoes and lay on top of quiche

Cook for approxmately 40 mins, check at 30 mins for quiche to be cooked through.

The best bit for Gary about us having quiche was that he gets to lick the pots - enjoy..he did!

Jul 16, 2009

Childrens Safe Drinking Water - a great cause..

I heard a great cause on the radio today. The Children's Safe Drinking Water program provides clean drinking water to people who really need it.
Every day more than 4,000 children in developing countries die, simply because they don't have clean drinking water.

They need you to donate to provide some more PUR packets to filter this dirty water. It's quite an amazing innovation that is so cheap ($7 dollars provides clean water for one child for one year)

I've included some more info below, but encourage you to make a donation, we have.

Make a donation here...just $7 saves the life of one child per year

The PUR packet is an amazing innovation that quickly turns 10 liters of dirty, potentially deadly water into clean and drinkable water. And, because it is much smaller and easier to ship than plastic water bottles, anyone anywhere in the world can easily use it.
The PUR packet was developed by Procter & Gamble (P&G) in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Created to enable people anywhere in the world to purify dirty water in a simpler, more effordable and convenient way, the PUR packet is based on technology similar to municipal water systems in developed countries.
The PUR packet is a powdered mixture that removes pathogenic microorganisms and suspended matter, making previously contaminated water clean.
PUR packets have been proven to eliminate disease causing microorganisms.
PUR packets result in removal of more than 99.99999% of intestinal bacteria (including those that cause cholera), 99.99% of intestinal viruses (including those that cause hepatitis A) and 99.9% of protozoa.
PUR packets have been proven to reduce diarrheal disease incidence in the developing world by up to 90%.
PUR packets remove dirt and other pollutants.
PUR packets can be used to make clean drinking water for the entire family, including infants, and are considered an effective technology by the World Health Organization.
More than one billion liters of clean drinking water have been provided by global relief organizations using PUR packets including PSI, AmeriCares, CARE, Samaritan's Purse and World Vision.

Cricket, in America...yes you can!

Loving listening to Aggers and Tuffers on TMS...give it a shot...it's funny and the cricket coverage is excellent!

Jul 15, 2009

Massaman Curry

In an effort to get more fish in to my hubbies diet I have to hide it in various sauces...I've just found a fantastic Massaman Curry sauce at Whole foods, but you can buy it online from Curry Simple..I've added prawns (shrimp) and tilapia, sweet potato, green beans and onion and some green chilli for some extra heat. I also added a table spoon of chunky peanut butter (as everytime I've had a Massaman it always had peanuts in it!), a final tablespoon of chopped coriander (cilantro) and I'm serving over fluffy basmati rice...it tastes delicious so I'm happy to recommend! Enjoy

Thunderstorms and Secret Shopping....

Ok, so this is my last free day before the Open starts along with the cricket..I shall be listening to TMS (Test Match Special) on the laptop and watching the golf on the TV...I re-iterated to Gary today that we shall be having short walks tomorrow, he looked at me dolefully ... and then rolled over for a tummy tickle..I'm not sure he understands.

Today, however, I took him for two extra long walks...well that was the plan anyway. The morning walk worked out well, plenty of distanced covered, the sun out and not too hot yet (maybe 80?) Gary finding a new stick to play with and all good with the world...this afternoon was a different matter. We had only gone about 1/2 a mile when there was a large clap of thunder...a bit weird as it appeared to still be sunny...but that is a sign to turn around and make a move back to safety.

Within a shouting distance of the apartment it started to rain, and if you have never been to Florida, it rarely just 'spits', we ran the last few yards and Gary sprinted up the stairs...I'm not much of a sprinter and he dragged me up the last few. Seconds later the world was ending...

This was just a snippet..it actually got worse, and to his credit Gary only lifted his head up once when the power got knocked out for a few seconds and the room went dark... it was pretty miserable for about 30 mins...appearing to be about 9pm instead of mid afternoon. Anyway it's stopped now thankfully and Gary has been lying next to the balcony window waiting for the re-commencement of his walk....

That would have to wait because I was off to the Mall to do some secret shopping. Mystery shopping is a tool used by market research companies to measure quality of retail service or gather specific information about products and services. Mystery shoppers posing as normal customers perform specific tasks—such as purchasing a product, asking questions, registering complaints or behaving in a certain way – and then provide detailed reports about their experiences. I can't tell you who I was shopping today, but it's a national chain...it's quite fun when you know how associates are supposed to behaving..fortunately for today's 'victims' they had been well trained and performed well...kudos to them..

Oh well I'm training some clients online in Australia this evening, so time to sign off, but with an upcoming trip planned down under there should be some interesting opportunities to blog about it in the near future.

Until tomorrow..although if you have no interest in cricket or golf you may want to leave off reading for a few days!!

Jul 14, 2009

Men...check your bits...testicular cancer

In my earlier post I mentioned that the footballer John Hartson, had be diagnosed with cancer. The former Wales, Arsenal and Celtic striker is in a critical condition after emergency surgery on his brain and was also told the cancer had spread to his lungs. He is only 34, and has 3 children. His cancer started in his testes and spread very quickly.
It is a reminder for all men to make sure they check them self for any irregularities 'down there'. Net Doctor says 'Things can go wrong with your testicles slowly, quickly or very fast indeed.' Please check their website to know what you should be doing to look after yourself. It's easy and can save your life. Self-examine

Testicular cancer represents only 1 per cent of all cancers in men, but it is the single biggest cause of cancer-related deaths in men aged 15 to 35 years in the UK and numbers are on the rise.

Jul 13, 2009

Walking dilemma....

Now I love my dog, you may have noticed, but I have a little dilemma building for this week. On Thursday the Open from Turnberry, Scotland starts and also the second test match (cricket) from Lords... when I get up on the East coast Tiger Woods will already be half way through his 1st round and Freddie may already be tearing up the Aussie openers.... What does a English girl abroad do?

If Gary gets his regular hour walk at about 8am I will have missed all of Tiger and half a days play from London....
Tiger practicing yesterday

I have sat him down and explained that Thursday morning we will be walking around the pond outside the apartment, and I still love him and will take him for a proper walk when the 5 hour time difference has worked itself out and everyone has gone home for the day in the UK..

Do you think he'll understand?

Video et taceo.....I see, and I say nothing

I found out today that I was born on the same day as Elizabeth I, Queen of England...obviously I was not born in 1533, but you know what I mean! I wondered if she had been able to write blogs, on what she might have commented...

Her motto was 'video et taceo' - I see, and I say nothing...so maybe her blogs would have been quite empty, however I think under a pseudonym she would have made a world renown blogger and probably a twitter expert. One of the world's most famous virgins, despite being petitioned by Parliament to get married, I'm sure she still had some tales to tell during her 44 years on the throne...

Speaking of Twitter, I noticed that the current English monarchy now has a twitter account...

Whilst you try to imagine Queen Elizabeth II sat on her sofa, cup of tea in one hand and IPhone in other, commenting on the latest Royal gossip, I'm afraid it's just some of the Royal household updating where the Queen and other Royals will be in the coming days, what charities they are supporting and other non salacious information...if you are curious they are @BritishMonarchy ...I've had a look - they have 9473 followers already!....today their Twits included the the annual Swan census. Yes they count the swans in England, and as my American hubby delights in telling people, the Queen, by some historical quirks of royal prerogative, owns all wild 'mute' swans living in open water ... pretty amusing, but a nice tidbit to throw into a 'did you know' conversation!

I have just started a Twitter account...I'll post the details here when I work it out!
update...follow us on Twitter @garyandclare

Get well John Hartson...

Sad news on the BBC website today, John Harston, a ex footballer in the UK is suffering from testicular cancer which has spread to his brain..he is only 34, retiring from football only last year.

I met him in Dublin one weekend when he was with the Coventry city football team on a bonding weekend. I was with my friend Mandy and he was super nice to us, buying us drinks etc... we thought he was a really nice bloke.

Get well soon John x

Bahama Mama

Delicious cocktail recipe that reminded me of my holiday in the Bahamas back in '02 with Sally, one of my best friends...we were there for our friend's wedding, but had a few days on our own to enjoy all the cocktails !

Sally & I in Bahamas with a cocktail!

1/2 fluid ounce rum
1/2 fluid ounce coconut-flavored rum
1/2 fluid ounce grenadine syrup
1 fluid ounce orange juice
1 fluid ounce pineapple juice
1 cup crushed ice

You can blend it all together or have it over ice like we did...very authentic and delicious!

Gary's broken tail....

After a cool party on Saturday, where yours truly had toooo many cocktails (a great recipe for Bahama Mamas follows!) and the pool and hot tub saw the most fun since they were completed at Christmas, I was dead to the world (probably snoring) when my hubby woke me up to tell me Gary was crying. He wasn't in his normal position on the bed and had scooted underneath it where he was whining. I asked hubby if he'd accidentally kicked him off the bed, but he responded that unlike me, he wasn't still inebriated and Gary had gone under on his own...We thought that all the 'treats' Gary had had from our guests had given him an upset stomach, but it quickly became apparent that his tail was hanging and looked 'broken'. If you know Gary his little waggy tail is one of the characteristics that make him look super cute, so he was looking very sad and sorry for himself.

His tail is normally up and wagging!

Well we didn't know what was wrong with him, but we knew that he had been swimming and jumping in the pool constantly for about 6 hours... It turns out that he has something called "Cold water tail," "limber tail syndrome," "broken tail," "dead tail," or "broken wag", which are euphemisms for a relatively common occurrence in sporting dogs ( Gary has pointer terrier in him). A flaccid tail episode appears to be a painful, but relatively benign affliction that can occur after too much swimming...hmmmm so now we know what is wrong with him... poor little Gary.

Gary is a German Pointer & Jack Russell Terrier cross
After a miserable Sunday when he couldn't get comfortable at all, he seems to be getting back to normal and even managed a bit of a wag earlier when I came back from the shops... trying not to get him too excited so that it heals up though, but he's definitely not in pain like he was early Sunday

Get better soon little Gary...we love you xx

Jul 9, 2009

Back home.. Footloose and fancy free...

Ok, so I'm a little turned around this evening, I'm back home but it's only a Thursday..something must be going on...Gary and I normally drive home on a Friday......ahhh I know..that's because this weekend we are having a PARTY..and of course I need an extra day to prepare for the big event!

With Gary strapped into his seat belt we set off about lunchtime for our 3 hour drive home...I only have to wave the harness at him and he knows where we are going. I'd like him to ride in the back, but he has none of it and likes to look out of the front window.
Until he sees me taking a picture, then of course he's posing! do you think he looks like a little bear?

It was a pretty uneventful drive, we were listening to Buckethead on Real Radio 104.1, who, although not my favourite, I find mildly amusing...I was waiting for the Phillips Phile at 3.00pm. I can really recommend a listen to this guy, Jim Phillips, who is intelligent, witty and one of the best talk radio people I've ever listened to...you can listen on the net, or on Sirius I think..I just have regular old radio in my car and in the Orlando area it FM104.1.

Anyway, one of the subjects of today's program was the possible remake of the film Footloose, which starred Kevin Bacon...Ok, so I'm glad I was wearing black as I splurted diet coke all down my top when Jim said the original had been 25 years ago...I mean...surely I'm not that old!???

I looked in the mirror...hmm the grey needs touching up...yes I'm that old, but remember that film like it was yesterday..I loved it when it first came out, the one and only time I've ever enjoyed Kevin Bacon.. I remember singing along (I'm tone deaf by the way!) to 'Lets here it for the boy' by Deniece Williams all of the summer of '84...it was great...so I am a bit disturbed to hear they are remaking it...Jim was saying that Zac Effron had pulled out of the lead, so I googled it up this evening and find that another of the 2008/9 pretty boys, Chace Crawford is now the lead....well at least his eyebrows aren't so teased! and he looks pretty hot in this picture I pulled off the net...

However, I say....leave Footloose alone..it's history, and I don't need reminding how old I am !

Big day tomorrow..loads to do, shopping, cooking and all that, so I'm off to bed!

Mediterranean Couscous

As promised recipe for the couscous that I made last night...

This is one of my favourite, quick and healthy evening meals. I chop all the vegetables up and bang them in the oven; the rest takes 5 minutes to pull together. I normally grill some lemony chicken to go with it, (last night we had salmon) but it’s delicious on its own.

Serves 4 people
Preparation Time 10 mins
Cooking Time 30 mins

1 large red onion – cut in eights
1 red pepper – cut in eights
1 yellow pepper – cut in eights
1 courgette cut in ¼ inch diagonal pieces
Handful chopped coriander
Handful chopped mint
1 ½ teaspoons Ground Cumin
1 ½ teaspoons Ground Coriander
1 ½ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
60 g dried apricots, chopped
1 full garlic bulb
Zest & Juice 1 lemon
Zest & Juice 1 Lime
Zest & Juice 1 Orange
50 g Pine nuts, roasted
250g Couscous
350ml Chicken stock
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Black Pepper

1. In a hot oven put the red onion, peppers, garlic and courgette in an ovenproof dish with a drizzle of olive oil. When roasted remove and place to one side until couscous ready.
2. In a heat proof bowl combine the couscous with cumin, coriander, cinnamon, juice and zests of lemon, lime and orange and hot chicken stock. Cover for 5 minsFluff the couscous with a fork and add the apricots, chopped mint and coriander, pine nuts, roasted vegetables and roasted garlic. Season with salt and pepper and serve


Jul 8, 2009

Dinner guests and too much wine

OK...they say you should never blog whilst drunk...it affects your spelling, your objectiveness and you ability to type anything coherent.

Well I'm going to give it a go, and let spell check help me out!

My husband's boss came for an informal dinner this evening..we had antipasto (olives and cippolini onions etc) and some aged provolone from Whole Foods ( for my English buddies..an upscale Waitrose!) with some crusty rosemary bread...delicious...and then roasted vegetable couscous with marinated salmon steaks...

My intention was to take pictures of the whole meal...well that was until Lou, our guest, arrived early, brandishing a super large bottle of Australian Shiraz...

Sooooooooo , you get a picture of the vegetables before they went into the oven..and I'll post the recipes tomorrow!

I can highly recommend the wine..the food tasted good, but that was an age ago...Lou and my husband managed three glasses between them...what I want to know who drank the rest of the bottle?!

Gary was fed too much salmon from the table and is now flat out at my feet...my husband is fast asleep on the sofa next to me and I'm sort of seeing double....should sleep well tonight...Goodnight!

Badminton, English tea and cricket!

In an effort to get fit again I have started playing badminton again. There is a club at Yate's YMCA in Jacksonville on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays...enough times a week to help me shed a few pounds and take out some frustration smacking a shuttle cock (known as a birdie over here, don't ask me why!) I used to play prior to moving to the States, but it's been about 2 1/2 years and it's a bit of a shock to the system. For the uninitiated, think tennis mixed with racket ball with a goose feather shuttle instead of a ball..it's fast, and the air con not being the best at the YMCA, very sweaty...but very enjoyable. I've played since I was about 7. My brother and I were forced to play because we had to go along with our parents to their badminton nights..basically it was a cheap babysitting service, however we both took to it..I used to play for my county in the UK and my brother was at one point world number one in mixed doubles and won a bronze medal at the Sydney Olympics

I guess you could say that he took it a little more seriously than me! Anyway, I babble...I was going to say after badminton last night I slept like a baby and when my husband got up at 5.45 this morning I stayed up and went and switched my computer on..while it was firing up I made 1st cupper of the day. For my non-English readers a cupper is a hot cup of tea... it's the best thing first thing in the morning. When I first moved here I did get into the whole coffee scene, but gradually I'm back to the hot tea with milk of course...I'm British! Currently I'm drinking PG Tips for my first cup of the day, then after that it's anything in the cupboard...Early Grey, or Earl Grey Green Tea are my favourites..

Anyway, where was I,..ahh yes..tea made I sat down in front of my PC and checked the feeds on my IGoogle page...I have a feed for CNN and BBC for the news, my friends Blog, weather for here, home and my parents and BBC sport...the first link on the BBC sport was Live Ashes coverage....

OMG I had completely forgotten...THE ASHES STARTS TODAY

The Ashes are a cricketing tradition, a competition of 5 test matches (each 5 days long) bi-annually between England and Australia. Normally Australia gives us a complete beating, as they did down under in 2007, however they are not so strong this year and there may be an opportunity for England to repeat their 2005 triumph. For a feel for how exciting cricket can be watch this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpipsMt4c2A&feature=related

The BBC let you follow the action via a revolving text, but when visiting the page I spied a link to 'Live Commentary' (you guessed it no cricket on US t.v.). Normally these links tell you 'sorry, not available in your area' as they contravene agreements between other sports channels who are airing the same commentary...however as no one in the US is bothered about the Ashes, it logged me in straight away and I had the dulcet tones of Geoffrey Boycott wafting through my speakers... Hurrah!!!
I can't drool over KP, , or roar on Freddy as he runs in to bowl...but I can be there in spirit...

I will officially be up early every morning (maybe!) to continue my listening... if it could rain a little every morning in Cardiff then that would suit me too as I would not have to get up so early (there's a 5 hour time difference to here).... please start you rain dances now!

Jul 7, 2009

Dog Days.....

Today was a miserable day in Jacksonville (where we live during the week). It has rained intermittently most of the day, at some times really heavily, at other times just sprinkling....guess when Gary wanted to go walking!

I'm sure he can sense the weather change, and had looked glum since our fun walk this morning, where we saw raccoons at the bin store..you can imagine how excited Gary was, although you can't let your dog tangle with a Raccoon, their claws are razor sharp and they are frequent carriers of rabies. I managed to get a quick pic on my Blackberry...shame they are so vicious cause they are super cute.

Anyway I digress. Gary had spent most of the day on the bed, looking glum. I tried to coax him out with biscuits and ice cubes, but he always returned to the bed. He was even too miserable to play with his ball..so I left him alone and went to do some work on my website..http://www.lovesparkles.com/ which I'm in process of re-writing... it was getting greyer and more miserable outside and there had been a few claps of thunder. Now Gary is not scared of storms, but they do wake him up, and in he toddles and sits by the door to the balcony to look outside.

Unable to resist his little face I offered him a walk, thinking the thunder had ceased for the moment, but not actually looking out of the window at the rain. Well he hadn't looked so happy all day and went to find his lead.

We headed out the front door and it was then I realised that we were going to get very wet....but unable to back out of my promise of 'walkies' had to go...

I've just got changed...soaked to the skin..Gary was loving jumping in and out of the puddles, whilst I encouraged him to 'do his business!!' so we could get back. I guess he could feel my desire to get back in the dry because we were out there nearly 30 minutes and he waited until we were nearly home, with his mummy totally frustrated, to finally do what he was supposed to...it was if he was laughing at me...

They call these the dog days...now I know why!

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