Deep-Fried Marshmallows

If you’ve ever worked with clients, you’ll probably know what I mean by this short story.

Fish_n_chips“The thing is with clients… they know for sure what they don’t want, but seldom know what they do want.”

“Too right! You’re expected to be part magician/part mind reader.”

“My mind reading skills have failed me of late.”

“Well, the usual trick is to give them the opposite of what they asked for.”

“Mmm, might work. When I gave them what they requested, they hated it.”

“Oh – they really didn’t like the battered, deep-fried marshmallows with ketchup?”

“Not one bit of it.”

“You could try fish, and maybe serve it with some fried potatoes?”

“I’ll give it a shot.”


©Emma Baird 2016

A Notable Woman

A Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey PrattA Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt by Jean Lucey Pratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Notable Woman is an extraordinary book – painful reading at times, but very worthwhile. Simon Garfield has edited the journals of a 20th century woman. Jean Lucey Pratt kept journals for 61 years up until a couple of months before her death and the journals record her daily life, her feelings and what was going on at the time.

There are small details that make it incredibly fascinating – Jean loved cats for example, and there is the question about how you fed cats during the Second World War, and there is also her growing realisation that her cigarette habit is doing serious harm to her health (smoking having been thought of as mostly harmless up until the 1950s).

But most of the book is about Jean’s loneliness. It makes for very painful reading at times and you rather wish a nice man would come along – or rather, that she would stop falling for such awful cads. Her descriptions of people are rather fabulous, if often unflattering, but there’s bravery running through the writing, a kind of unflinching determination to write about herself and what is going on in truthful terms.

The book is a perfect choice for book groups, as it is bound to elicit plenty of discussion. Just a warning though – it’s a whopper (700 plus pages).

View all my reviews

Cute Shoe Alert!

new shoesIf you write a book that features cats and you happen to love them yourself, then a pair of shoes like this are a necessary purchase, wouldn’t you agree?

FYI, they are by Irregular Choice. Apparently Irregular Choice aficionados protect the sole by never wearing the shoe outside or persuading a kind friend to piggy-back them everywhere.

This is not an option for me, so the sole will not be preserved in its beauty for all eternity – although, like most high heeled shoes, these are staggeringly uncomfortable after a while and marching down the street for a long period of time whilst wearing them isn’t an option…

On Writing my first book

A writer colleague of mine has this to say about writing her first book (which is out in January)…

Jane Tulloch

Well I’ve done it now. My first book is released in January 2016. Unbelievable!  Plucking up courage to tell people I’ve written a book wasn’t easy. There tends to be several reactions: either blank astonishment, a curling lip and disbelief, sometimes compliments and pleasure at my having done it at all, or a flurry of questions about the process.

At times it seems to me that half the people I meet are writing or planning to write a book and the other half is asking how do I do it. Where do I get my ideas from? What gets my writing juices flowing? Why?

No easy answers but it did set me thinking. Now I’ve done a bit more writing and am looking to writing in the longer term I’ve been reflecting on this.

The “how” is quite straightforward. Creating a story seems to me to be like creating a painting…

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58. Send in the pussy whisperers

One clever chap I follow has made it his mission to post a flash fiction story EVERY SINGLE DAY. I’m so impressed. I like all of his stories, but this one in particular appealed…

300 stories

Send in the pussy whisperers, the director yelled.

The shot had been attempted a dozen times and he still hadn’t gotten the right close-up. Which was annoying cause the pussy shot was going to be the prime selling point for the movie. It was to feature prominently in the trailer and be the focal point of the poster. Hell, the movie itself was going to be called ‘Taming Pussy’. So without this shot there would not even be a movie. Time to send in the pros.

In came Linda and Vicky, the pair of lesbians whom the tongue-in-cheek crew had called pussy whisperers from day one of the shoot. They kneeled down and worked their magic.

On the sidelines the first grip and sound recorder chatted.

That’s a lot of pussy, the first grip said.

You’d think someone would have noticed, the sound recorder replied.

On set Linda and…

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Goodbye The Bridget Jones Years… It’s Been Fun!

Regular readers may dissent, but my blog was originally wedding-themed – mine specifically – and started last year ahead of the big event which is now in, ooh, today.*

Wedding planning is a little bit fun and a little bit bonkers. There is a fluffy pink rollercoaster of a ride waiting to sweep up the unprepared and gullible bride to be as she sets out in her preparations. “Ooh,” you find yourself nodding along sagely to a saleswoman/man, “y’know that horse-drawn carriage complete with plumed horses and footmen does sound pretty unique and romantic, now you come to mention it.”

Reader dear, I resisted most of it. I batted off people trying to flog me table decorations, I ignored the pleas of wedding stationery retailers and I decided against an on site make-up artist. I also felt an engagement photo shoot was not necessary (can you imagine, you walk into our house to be greeted by a huge portrait of me and my beloved grinning at each other cheesily – it would put you right off your dinner) and we certainly would not need a wedding video.

I had a budget in mind and I stuck to it** so I’ll share with you the wisdom of moi a la the home-made bride:

Red Velvet wedding cake

Red Velvet wedding cake

Make your own cake! No, really decorating it the day before is so soothing, so relaxing so guaranteed to bond you and your beloved together as you saw through half-frozen cakes and argue (gently) over the smoothness of your sugar paste.

On the plus side, the ingredients cost £30, plus I had to splash out on £17 for two cake tins. A quick Google search reveals your average three tier wedding cake costs upwards of £250.

Create your own favours. Now this I write without mockery – this particular endeavour was a great deal of fun. In October last year, we stockpiled local brambles, steeped them in sugar and vodka and left the mix in kilner jars under the stairs for several months. Following a quick pre-wedding quality control check (hic!), the liqueur was pronounced fit for consumption and we ordered bottles and labels online.

Two for tea - and bramble vodka for one

Two for tea – and bramble vodka for one

Favour 2 (for the ladies) was little bits of millionaire’s shortbread cut up into tiny pieces and individually wrapped, then presented in a china tea cup and saucer, obtained from several trips to charity shops. (The ones in the posher parts of Edinburgh yielded the best results).

I even went so far as to make my own chocolates too as prizes for a game. Tempering chocolate isn’t difficult, though it is rather tedious but you get much better-looking results as you can see from this picture. Instructions for tempering chocolate in the microwave (and other ways) are available here.

The difference between tempered and untempered chocs...

The difference between tempered and untempered chocs…

My brother-in-law is a talented graphic designer so he designed the invites and I emailed these out to save on postal costs.

For the beauty stuff I booked in to a beauty counter in John Lewis for a long-lasting make-up lesson. (Bobbi Brown – it’s really informative, but make yourself be firm about just how many products you are going to buy at the end).

And finally the flowers, we bought vases from Ikea (ten of, £1.75 each) and the day before, we went to the local supermarket, bought five cheap bouquets and divided them up amongst the vases for the table.
As you read this, I will be about to say ‘I do’. I will bid a fond farewell to the single/unmarried years (hey, they were fun…) and hello to Mr and Mrs Life. Another chapter of life begins.


*Marvellous modern invention – scheduling so I’m cheating by writing this a day ahead.

**More or less, A few more items of skincare and make-up than were strictly necessary crept into my shopping bag.

I’d Like to Thank My Mum & Dad, My Fiance and My Cat…

Ooh, is there anything nicer than putting up a wee rosette on your blog?!

Ooh, is there anything nicer than putting up a wee rosette on your blog?!

Some time ago, a very nice lady called Jenny let me know she had nominated me for a Liebster award. I read her words, gasped with excitement and said to my hubbie-to-be – “Best we clear space on that awards shelf mister, another bauble is about to join it!”

Reader, I exaggerate. The awards shelf is not full to bulging. It does not, in fact, exist. In timely fashion (not), I am now taking advantage of this lovely opportunity. Jenny asked interesting questions as part of her nomination and I’m answering them below and welcoming you to the world of moi.

The rules of the Liebster award are:

  1. Cope and paste the award on your blog and say muchos gracias to the lovely person who nominated you. Of course you include a link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions from the person who nominated you, list 11 random facts about yourself and come up with 11 questions for your nominees.
  3. Nominate 11 blogs with 200 or less followers who you think deserve attention and leave a comment on their blog letting them know what you’ve done.
  1. If you could be a superhero for just one day, who would it be?Wonderwoman. Even though I’m er… a lady of 35+. That costume…
  2. What are your 5 favourite films?Ooh, it changes from day to day. I did see The Place Beyond The Pines yesterday and enjoyed that.
  3. What food or drink could you not live without?Cheese and red wine. Preferably together and in splendidly large quantities.
  4. Have you ever met anyone famous?Erm, does ‘meet’ include standing gawping at someone who has just passed you on the street in a very obvious and embarrassing way? Me and the rich and famous are not natural partners…
  5. Have you got anything exciting planned for 2013?I’m getting married, hooray!
  6. Where has been your favourite place to visit?I love visiting places in general, but if there is delicious food attached then my excitement levels go slightly out of control.
  7. If you were in charge and you could get anything banned forever, what would it be?Rudeness, which can cover everything. It is rude to assault, kill, invade countries etc.
  8. Are you addicted to social media?Sadly yes. For someone whose attention span is approximately… ooh, status update what’s Julie up to now, whoops, sorry about that, got distracted there… very, very short, social media is ideal!
  9. Do you have any phobias?Not a one. I am fear free.
  10. Did you want to change your name as a child?A multiple syllabled option would have been good, preferably with a French-sounding surname too. Charlotte De Guyseuse, as something rather more exotic sounding than my own humble moniker.
  11. Are we human, or are we dancers?

We’re dancers of course!

Random facts:

  • I twirl my hair obsessively
  • I can get on and off a fast-moving treadmill (so I could audition for a stunt woman in an action film)
  • I eat peanut butter BY THE JAR
  • I was born on St Patrick’s Day
  • I have run a half-marathon
  • I have walked a half-marathon (I preferred the run one, actually)
  • My cat sleeps on my bed
  • I have gone for a run in five different countries
  • I have ridden a camel
  • I have started (but sadly not finished) two books by Russian authors
  • I know an awful lot about the Tudors.

My nominees all get to answer food questions!

  1. If you were a cake, which one would you be?
  2. Butter icing, or sugar frosting?
  3. What is the weirdest food combination you like?
  4. The world is about to run out of crisp flavours and producers will now only make one kind; which will it be?
  5. Have you ever eaten in a Michelin-starred restaurant and if so where?
  6. How many celebrity chef cook books do you own?
  7. What is the most impressive thing you can cook?
  8. What is your fail-safe date menu?
  9. Sweet or savoury?
  10. What % of cocoa solids should good quality plain chocolate have? and

The world of weddings can become a little bit, diva-ish shall we say. Anyway, I blogged about Bridezillas at Russell’s excellent top ten site (for the cat lovers among you, look out for the Caturday posts)…