Monday, 28 February 2011

The Oscars

I've been catching up with the Oscars on the official site (I love you Michelle Williams but really, could you be any more bored during your red carpet interview?). It seems like it was a decent show, I loved the intro (a bit cheesy but you have to cut them some slack, it's the Oscars!). There were some loverly frocks too, more of which later.

So I didn't do too badly with my predictions - I should have had more faith in The King's Speech to fly the British flag though! By my reckoning I got 15 right. Not too shabby.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Oscar predictions

The Academy Awards are finally here! I'll probably spend the next 48 hours alternating between frustration at not being able to watch it (curse you Murdoch, curse you!) and desperate scrabbling on the web and TV for info on the winners and losers (of the awards and in the dress stakes).

This year there should be few surprises for the major awards, so I'm not going out on a limb here, but for form's sake these are my predictions (use the Datablog's handy guide to make yours).

Best actor: Colin Firth (but I'd rather James Franco)
Best actress: Natalie Portman (not seen it but surely deserves it for what she put herself through)

Supporting actor: Christian Bale (can he share it with John Hawkes please?)
Supporting actress: Melissa Leo (brilliant)

Best director: The Social Network (why oh why wasn't 127 Hours nominated?)
Best picture: The Social Network
Animated film: Toy Story 3
Foreign Film: In a Better World

Adapted screenplay: The Social Network
Original screenplay: The King's Speech

Original score: The Social Network (go Trent Reznor!)
Original Song: If I Rise (Randy Newman has too many Oscars already)

Documentary: Inside Job (but I think Banksy would make for better TV)
Documentary short: Strangers No More

Short animation: The Gruffalo
Short live action: God of Love

Art direction: Inception
Cinematography: Inception
Editing: The King's Speech

Costume: The King's Speech
Makeup: The Wolfman (because B-movies deserve credit too)

Sound editing: True Grit
Sound mixing: True Grit
Visual effects: Inception

Year of pleasures #6: The kindness of strangers

I had a run-in with a bus driver a few days ago. I won't go into the gory details but suffice to say he must have been off the day they had their customer service training!

With hindsight, I'm a little bit mortified that I argued back at him, and let him upset me (crying in public, the horror!). I might have started to doubt myself, think I was making a fuss over nothing (which was clearly his opinion), if it hadn't been for the other passengers on the bus.

When he refused to give me his driver number, two elderly ladies pointed out the bus registration number and joked that they'd be in trouble next. When he yelled at me to sit down or get off the bus, a woman seated just behind him called TfL to report him. Another passenger gave me her number in case I needed a witness.

I don't want to get all over-emotional, but they turned a shitty experience into less of one, and gave me the confidence to report him, so this week I salute small acts of kindness.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Pretty little teasets

I popped into Drink Shop & Do yesterday after lunch with Helen and Barry at Camino (great tapas btw). I managed to avoid the cakes for once and followed the 'shop' rule instead.

They have a lovely collection of tea towels, and some quirky little brooches made from retro crockery. But what really caught my eye was a range of cups, saucers and teapots by Ali Miller. Miller takes vintage ceramics and 'upcycles' them, incorporating her own designs to breathe new life into neglected objects.

I like the bug-painted butter dish but my favourite is the butterfly teapot. Beautiful, I wish I'd seen it last month so I could have added it to my birthday wishlist!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Year of pleasures #5: A night out down the pub with your mates

I've been out quite a bit recently, at least more than the previous four or five months! This week it was my wonderous no-longer-colleague Holly's leaving do, at the Queen's Head near Kings Cross.

The beer was good (Redemption Hopspur) and served in a proper pint pot, the pub was impressive (there's a real ale festival there next weekend, lots of whiskies if that's how you roll) and there were loads of friends there, some who I see often and some I hadn't seen for years. There was even a swing/jazz pianist.

If it hadn't been that Holly is abandoning me it would have been the perfect sort of pub night out! A random coming-together of people, ideas and slightly drunken rambling. Lovely.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Fried egg cake anyone?

My lovely bro made me a birthday cake but because it had to travel he didn't decorate it. I think his plan was to sprinkle it with icing sugar but i couldn't resist decorating it with Logan! We were aiming for spots, but I inadvertently discovered how to create icing fried eggs. Oops...

Year of pleasures #4: Birthday treats

I turned 33 this week, a bit of a non-birthday numbers wise but it has a nice ring to it so I'm excited to see what the year of 33 brings. The last four or five years have been pretty significant, what with babies and weddings and the like, so maybe this will be a bit calmer and more settled!

I've had lots of treats this week. We had a Sunday pub lunch at the Maid of Muswell with some good friends (delicious, and the veggie option still includes gravy and Yorkshire pud, result).

Mark took my birthday off and we had a fun morning at home with Logan then dropped him off at nursery and watched The Fighter at the baby club at Screen on the Green (more boxing than I expected, which sounds daft I know, but some brilliant performances and the whole cast were marvellous), followed by a yummy burger at Byron and Ottolenghi cupcakes with Anna and Lucy.

Then I hotfooted it to the SLA Winter Warmers pub quiz with Team Gav. Lots of fun, it's so long since I had a proper night down the pub! The last few rounds were tense but we triumphed in the end, hurrah! I managed to carry the bottle of cava (and the library textbook!) home on the tube without dropping it, too.

Mum and Dad are staying with us so Mark and I had a rare night out last night. We pushed the boat out and had a proper posh dinner at Oxo Tower on the South Bank. What an experience! I think I managed to hide my excitement quite well, but I'm not sure I was quite nonchalant enough to look like I was a regular! I love the atmosphere there, the service and the view of St Paul's. The food was delicious - pumpkin gnocchi with goats cheese, truffle potato blinis with wild mushrooms and watercress and orange salad, and the chocolate plate (four different desserts, all yummy but not sure about the odd caviar-like balls).

Of course we had to have cocktails to start (dark and stormys), a bottle of wine with dinner (Dog Point sauvignon blanc from New Zealand) and port to finish... It would be fair to say I felt a little rough in the taxi on the way home but luckily Ella didn't wake up until 6.30am so I had a chance to recover. It was a really special night and it's a good job because for that price we won't be going out again this year!

We did go for lunch with mum and dad, Aunty Celia and Uncle Nick today though. We don't see Ciss and Nick nearly enough, so it was lovely to catch up with all the family gossip over a long lunch at Souk, in Seven Dials. It's one of my favourite restaurants - the food is really good (couscous, tagines, baklava and sweet mint tea), but it's the atmosphere that I really love, it's so theatrical, just like being in a Moroccan souk (I'd imagine!). And it doesn't cost half a month's salary either (I hate being on maternity pay).

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Year of pleasures #3: Family

I've been thinking a lot about family recently. My Grandpa wrote a kind of memoir about his ancestors and his life many years ago, and I'm in the process of typing it up digitally (it was written in the days before PCs, before word processors too, so he wrote the entire thing using a good old-fashioned typewriter). It's absolutely fascinating - I knew certain anecdotes about my dad's family, knew where people fitted into my family tree, the bare bones of the story, but now it's all coming to life. I feel closer to my ancestors, part of an ongoing narrative.

It's been a sad few weeks as well - Mark's Nanna passed away after months of ill-health, and it's the funeral tomorrow. Everyone grieves in their own way, but for me, as well as sadness, I feel the need to celebrate life too. It's made me think about the nature of family, and want to be close to mine so I can appreciate what they give me.

So this week's pleasure is my family; the family I was born into, the one I married and the one we've made for ourselves.