7 Quick Takes #21 x FTSF

— 1 —
Finish the Sentence Friday

The sentence to complete this time around is one I shall thoroughly enjoy:

“I tried to cook…”

I adore cooking. I love trying new recipes but most of all I love the day-to-day cooking which I can do with my eyes closed. Usually I can create a savoury recipe from scratch, from brain, without needing to resort to books or internet ideas. However, my block arrives when I try to concoct something sweet.

For whatever reason, sweet stuff is the thing I struggle with. Pretty much the only failsafe I have is sweet scones. I can make perfectly passable fairy cakes (when I remember to take them out of the oven), I can even make a fancier type-cake if I try really hard and use a recipe, but the time when it will inevitably all go wrong is when my Mother in-Law is due for a visit.

She’s a wonderful lady (truly) and we get on very well (no word of a lie), but because I’m married to the eldest apple of her eye, I like to make a bit of an effort so that she is reassured that I’m not a complete klutz in the kitchen and can keep him in easy enjoyment of all treats. Bless him, Husby rarely gets a home-cooked sweet treat from me.

So the time in question, which I believe was one of the first times she came to visit after we got married, was near Christmas, and I thought I’d try making stollen (which I love, and which my Dad made deliciously and very successfully on a few, treasured occasions in my childhood). For those who don’t know, it’s a sweet German bread thing with mixed fruit through it and a centre of delicious marzipan in a long roll, so that each slice has some. It’s then drenched with icing sugar and is destined to have you licking your fingers and hoping desperately for more. It’s a beautiful thing.

This beautiful thing isn’t my one, but it does look light and delicious.

Unless you try too hard, or try to make the recipe for the first time when someone important’s coming, or leave it in the oven too long. Or something.

The smell of it cooking was incredible, and I’d been so happy making it; even to the point where every one of the 600 kneads I gave it in its 5 minute kneading time (by hand) was a pleasure. The marzipan rolled in the middle was thick and generous and I was really psyched. I took it out of the oven and…

…Hard. As. A. Rock.

I could’ve cried. I sat in silence with tears streaming down my inner face, trying to lightly accept the compliments about the great flavour whilst I could hear their teeth cracking on the crust of it and see the slight (but definite) winces as they powered through the solid dough.

The upside was, my teeth are strong, no-one wanted seconds (ever) so I got a great-tasting stollen all to myself.

— 2 —

I think there’s a double-edged sword to being a favourite Aunty. I’d had a wonderful time with Neff (who’s 5) and was halfway through returning him to his Mother when I mentioned that my Mum would be there, too.

His little face immediately turned thunderous and he growled “I don’t like seeing Grandma after seeing you.”

When we arrived back, my dear Mum was there, helping and chatting to my Sis, and Neff saw her, put on his most grouchy of all cantankerous faces, hunched his shoulders and stormed past her, ignoring her welcomes, threw his coat on the floor and slouched away.

My poor Mum! I do feel bad because she does so much with him and my niece and they have such a wonderful time (and, I might add, such great, warm relationships – Grandma was Neff’s favourite person in the world for a long time) and I seem to swan in with a bit of a novelty factor and ruin it all (fleetingly) for her.

I guess the trick will be to spend more and more time with Neff until he’s bored of me, then he’ll be happy with whomever of us he gets.

— 3 —

From today til about a week before the end of March, Husby and I will be mostly concerned with moving house. We’re very excited about getting an extra room to clutter up expand neatly into and use the extra space to support a hitherto unknown level of organisation. The great thing is our new landlady is a-may-ZING and will let us move in gradually alongside some remedial work being done, so we can drop bits and bobs over here and there, hopefully allowing us to deep-clean our current place gradually and have a reasonably cool, calm and collected final moving day in a few weeks time.

The less frantic and stressful, the better.

— 4 —

A coupla days ago was the designated day to ‘Spread the word to end the word‘ and I posted (what I thought) was a rather splendid, well constructed argument as to why everyone who read the item should sign the pledge and how it could (and should) impact their life. The response I got was absolutely minimal (though positive, for all that). That’s me taken down a peg or six!

It’s not too late, though, so if you’ve a further minute to spare, pop over and find out why I think it’s important to get rid of the hurtful, insulting word ‘retard’ from general lexicon.

— 5 —

I’m beginning to think about what to do once I finish my college course in June, and took a look at a job search engine for vacancies in my city and was gratified to find that amongst the first 650 jobs (of something ridiculous like 37,000) there were rather a lot I thought I’d either really enjoy, would be qualified for or would like to have a crack at, including

  • 3 year training position with the ministry of defense working with munitions and guns
  • Cake baker (sadly, I’d need experience, but WHAT a great job)
  • Home help for a local guy who’s wheelchair bound; doing shopping, cleaning, washing and going out places socialising with him. He specified the need for a good sense of humour, so if he’s a fun guy, I could quite imagine becoming friends and just having a blast. Who knows.
  • Laboratory technician for a small company doing *something* mysterious and science-y
  • Product tester (though they didn’t say what products, but imagine the possibilities!)

I’m quietly confident that with this many (and more) jobs I’d be keen to apply for, come June, I should have no problem finding something suitable.

— 6 —

I sometimes get sense/visualisation crossovers. Usually this happens with flavours (specifically, two brands of Teapigs tea I have) but sometimes with songs (play me the opening few bars of Bach’s Tonet ihr Pauken and I’m immediately transported in front of the Christmas tree. In fact, just imagining it I can already smell pine and see fairy lights) and this week I got the absolute treat of a new song/visualisation.

I don’t know if you ever saw the movie ‘Cool Runnings‘ but it was one of my favourites in the latter part of childhood, and the opening scene where Derice runs through Jamaica has always been one of my favourites, only there was never quite enough beautiful beach with that gorgeous copper-sulphate sea which happens on little reef islands and the bleached-white sand, palm trees and the scent of sun-oil and coconuts.

I now have my visualisation complete in this song (which, ok, I posted yesterday too, but that’s how much I love it at the moment) – thanks Christine for introducing me to it.

So here you are – a moment inside my brain:

You’re walking along a small, friendly road by the beach, with that sea glinting sparkles everywhere. People dressed in bright colours are all around, smiles are warm and friendly and the sea-birds are cruising through a sky speckled with tiny white clouds. The sun is blazing down and it would be far too hot if, at any given moment, you couldn’t just jump in the sea. Picnics are happening, children are laughing, someone has music playing and the trees are waving gently in a tiny breeze. You’ve got that lightness of spirit which only comes when you’re on holiday for at least a fortnight, and the happiness is sinking into your soul as surely as the sun is sinking into your skin and warming it with a tropical spice and splendour only found on tiny islands, which appear like jewels in the middle of the sea.

— 7 —
 I haven’t got a 7th quick take, so let’s make it a reality check moment – if you weren’t on the computer or your phone (I know some of you are far more up-to-date than I am, and have apps and things for that!) right now, what far more productive thing could you be doing?*
Comment below on what you *should* be doing and lets see if it inspires us to collectively do some of the things we keep procrastinating about; then come back and let me know. I could certainly do with the kick up the backside inspiration of seeing loads of follow -up comments saying “I’ve done it now”, just to make me feel I should keep up with y’all.
 *If (and I consider this slightly unlikely, though possible) you are one of those people who only indulges in Getting Lost in the Internet after all the things which you need to do have been done, then I salute you. Feel free to boast.


For more (and, quite likely just as interesting, if not more so) Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

28 thoughts on “7 Quick Takes #21 x FTSF

  1. REALLY! I never knew that! What an angle to have to consider! Well, thanks for the tip off. I wasn't seriously considering it, but I was seriously tempted to consider it.

    Now go pack, you, or you'll get to your wonderful holiday with only an empty bag to wear 😉


  2. Stollen's gorgeous, isn't it.

    I don't know if you've seen the kind of paraphernalia, but there's a series of kitchen-y things (aprons, coasters, chopping boards etc) with one of those 50's stye women on the front with the legend “I love cooking with wine; sometimes I even put it in the food…”

    I might try wine next time 🙂


  3. I did, I'd make great cakes for a concrete bakery, or for one of those period houses where they make the food and preserve it with varnish so it *looks* fab for visitors.

    I double dare you to try it next Christmas. As I recall, it was fairly straightforward (apart from the actual COOKING bit, in my case)


  4. I really should be doing the packing for the holiday but shh… I've got some time…

    On a side note and completely unrelated (sorta) don't go into the MOD if you want to adopt because they'll see it as a negative same with the army or navy (stupid if you ask me) but they say the uncertainy is there…


  5. You made that stollen, does that count for something to get the job as cake baker??? 🙂 My mom LOVES stollen. A friend of mine gave me a recipe once (he makes it every year), but I never got adventurous enough to make it. I'm not sure if my mom ever tried it.


  6. Good to see you again.

    As a vague narcissist (and certainly someone who can identify their patterns of operation better when they're on paper/screen) I've no doubt the eventual job hunt/application/getting process will be documented here. Feel free to peruse for purposes of furthering the Wakefield Doctrine.

    I sense the versatility/eclecticism has me down for jack of all trades (except brickie) and master of none. That approach has its positives though – one being that I'll not get bored easily. And I can make up for lack of qualification with enthusiasm, (a certain amount anyway).


  7. I don't cry – I tend to throw things. Mostly cutlery and *usually* only at the sink, when I get kitchen stress. Baking is SO different, isn't it! I guess perseverance is key!


  8. Well, this is truly my learning – since then I only do new recipes when there's no-one to impress, and stick to tried and tested when MIL comes to visit 🙂

    (there is something very luxurious and decadent about still being in jammies when you're meant to be up by reasonable standards…)


  9. Well sure, but not that many people the world over get to live in the town with the *actual* Hoover factory. It'd be like living in the town with the Ford factory – there's a little glory to be had in sharing in the iconic-ness of it, even if it's only bricks and mortar and a place where people work.

    And well done for getting on with it 🙂


  10. ..actually, I am 'making the rounds' of the blog hop (FTSF)… I go to everyone I know and like first, but make it a point to try to get to everyone on the list…not easy with these more popular blogs like Kate and Stephanie and Janine and Dawn's.

    I like the sense visualization concept you mention, it is amazing how complete the flashback can be

    as a clark. let me say your strength (in your upcoming job venture) is your versatility and eclecticism and your weakness is your versatility and eclecticism. I hope you write about the process as you engage it… in all selfishness, I look for people's encountering of normal life situations as a way to see how the Wakefield Doctrine can/might/should be a useful tool for those so inclined.
    Total good luck on the task.


  11. OK, vaccuuming is done. (For the record, I like Hoovering better. It's easier to spell. Unless I should have put two r's in there.) And, North Canton, Ohio ain't that cool. The Hoover plant was just another factory. Cooler looking, brick-facade factory, but a factory nonetheless.


  12. I should be clearing up or making beds or something useful… I've got a warm heavy cat on my lap though, which is causing can't-be-bothered-itis… maybe after dinner. After all I did collect small person from school and get her fed and in bed within an hour!


  13. I have cried over a failed baking project many a times. I am a pretty good cook, but baking is like completely different territory for me. I could have never attempted that bit of deliciousness you tried. Way to give it the old college try!


  14. I should have had a shower by now. Instead of sitting here with an empty bowl of cereal in front of the computer with my pjs on at 9:29. Thanks for asking. Now I'll going to remedy that. As for your stollen, I am quite the baker but I admire your patience of 600 kneads. I don't do kneads. I never break out a new recipe for company coming 😉


  15. Nice to see you, fellow blog-hopper.

    I was fortunate in that I grew up watching my parents cook from scratch pretty much daily. We might've had a pre-made meal once a month (which puts me at a disadvantage when all my peers start raving about the iconic foods of their childhoods (such as Findus crispy pancakes (now with horse, of course)) and I have nothing to say!)


  16. The fish are in a declining (though fun) industry. I'll get there and have plans which require written groundwork and business plans simultaneous with earning a living at something.

    Wow that's a cool place to grow up. I was always fascinated how the other guy (Spangler, not Hoover) who helped inventing the vacuum cleaner nearly had it called after him instead, so we would all have been doing the Spangling! Hope you get it done, whatever you call it.

    If you forgot about Cool Runnings, take detention and go watch it again 🙂 It's awesome. And I *love* the Bermuda music.


  17. Lol if there's ever a job with fish I'm qualified for, I'll go for it. Otherwise, just need to get some pennies in.

    Husby's going for a far more exciting job than lab tech – he'd be overqualified for the position I was interested in.

    Neff just struggles with big emotions – an unfortunate side effect of what he's been through. He's lovely and I expect as soon as I was gone, he was all over Grandma like the usual huggy, insistent, snugglebug he is.


  18. I am impressed by how skilled you are in the kitchen…I could never make a recipe from memory like you do! That stollen does sound delicious, whether hard or soft! (Visiting from FTSF today)


  19. That is totally how I would have handled it and then would have gained the 10 lbs along with it!! Seriously, you totally get A for effort in my book and trust me I have been there, too. Thanks as always for linking up!! 🙂


  20. First off, I'm with meanderer. As I was reading your list of possible jobs, I was thinking, “Where are the fish? Or at least brick-laying?”
    Why must you make me think about things I should be doing? It's quite difficult to procrastinate when someone is asking such questions. I should be “Hoovering” as you would say. (I've always thought it was funny that you call it hoovering. I grew up in the town where Hoover vaccuum cleaners were made.)
    Cool Runnings is a fantastic movie. I had forgotten about it. Glad my Bermuda music put you into such lovely thoughts.


  21. I should be ……. kicking the mother out of my house and actually getting sorting out downstairs which was the job for the day! Will let you know how it's gone later!


  22. Er, I should probably be doing some uni work. In fact, I really must do some uni work. I surely can't just keep on dipping into the books for what I specifically need to to the essays and keep getting high marks…can I?

    Regards the jobs you listed…(a) aren't you meant to be wanting to work with fish, so why would you then decide to pursue a career in the MOD (make yer flippin' mind up, woman!); (b) bearing in mind Quick Take #1 I think 'cake baker' might not be the best match for you; (c) sounds like a good fit for you; (d) probably better to point Husby in the direction of that job; and (e) DO NOT TOUCH EVEN WITH A BARGE POLE. Those kinds of jobs are usually either ridonkulously poorly-paid and irregular, or total scams, or both.

    Re: Neff – sounds to me like he could do with a clip around the ear and being taught some manners. If either of my kids treated their grandparents with such disrespect I would go nuclear on their asses. Seriously.


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