Posted in Random Utterings

Super-Easy Desk Lunch

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I am so bored of lunches eaten at my desk, another cardboard sandwich from the Co-op hastily stuffed down whilst working on something or other. Last night, I thought about what I really wanted to eat. I love ramen noodle soup and haven’t had any for eons. I could eat it every day. Plain-ish, sure, but tasty and sustaining. And, as it turns out, super-easy to make in the hovel of a kitchen we have at work.

You will need

  • One packet of straight-to-wok noodles (I used Amoy fine noodles)
  • Chicken stock powder (I used Knorr reduced-salt)
  • Two spring onions
  • Cooked chicken (optional)
  • Boiling water

To make…

  • Cut up the spring onion into small slices. Cut on the diagonal if you’re feeling fancy!
  • Add to a large soup bowl.
  • Add the noodles.
  • Add a dessert spoon of chicken powder to the bowl and pour over a cup’s worth of boiling water fresh from the kettle.
  • Tear up some of your chicken and add to the bowl.
  • Add some soy sauce if you have any to hand, or some pepper, or just enjoy as is.

Tasty, quick, hot and fresher than those supermarket sandwiches. You could add chillis or something, if that is your bag, too.  I’m going to keep a stash of noodles in my drawer for lunch all the time! My colleagues were envious.

Posted in Random Utterings

Vote For Pedro

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About 10 years ago, my best friend Jo made herself a cross stitch pattern to stitch up Napoleon Dynamite. It was simpler times, and cross stitch software wasn’t quite as sophisticated as it is now (ho ho). Anyway, it was a labour of love, but about half way through, she put it aside to start something else and it got forgotten.

A few years ago, we randomly got to talking about it and I said I’d take it and finish it. I did a little of it, then our nomadic lifestyle of the past while took over, I put it in a box and I had no idea where it even was for a long time.

It was Jo’s birthday recently and a few weeks before, I came across the abandoned project again and thought it was the perfect time to finish him off. So, I did, and made him into a cushion and presented him to the birthday girl. I’m pleased she loved it, and I think we’re both happy to finally finish this project after 10 whole years!

Posted in Random Utterings

Malmaison, Glasgow

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A few years ago, at a loose end around new year, Lee and I booked into the Malmaison in Glasgow for a treat. We had stayed at the one in Leeds before and it was quite swish and thought as a bit of a luxury night in, we’d book in, eat in the restaurant, relax and just have a fun evening.

Cutting a long story short, it was nothing short of awful. The room was shabby and rundown, and not at all like the one we had experienced in Leeds. The food in the restaurant was terrible – I had a steak so covered in pepper that it was impossible to eat. The staff were all grumpy and rushed, I imagine they had drawn the short straw to work at new year. The room was so noisy that by 8am the next morning, we were checking out and going home for a kip.

Flash forwards to a few months ago, when Briony, head Yelp-er in Glasgow and all-round good egg, was talking about the newly-overhauled Malmaison on Twitter. I let her know about my experience and lo and behold, if the new manager at the Glasgow Mal wasn’t earwigging and asked me to get in touch. So I did, and he asked us to come back on the house and let them show us a good time. Who was I to disagree? So off we toddled last Friday to take up the offer.

>I should point out that they did this without asking me to write a review anywhere, it was pretty much no-strings. I don’t know if they had briefed everyone to be extra-nice to us, but the level of service we received throughout the whole stay was really second to none. Everyone was super-nice and friendly, helpful and welcoming. Already winning over last time!

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We were booked into a Club Room, which we learned had recently been renovated. I loved the decor and it was really nice and spacious.

IMG_3726The facilities were really good within the room – hairdryer, ironing board and iron, mini bar (which wasn’t too extortionate to actually use!), coffee machine, tea, TV, robes, slippers…really nice little touches that made it feel like a special deal.

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Bonus view of the old Strathclyde Police HQ where I used to work when Lee and I first met – awww.

The bathroom was really nice, too – a massive shower cubicle with a fancy shower head and good water pressure. I’m so fussy about showers, so this was a big thumbs-up from me.

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Another nice touch to welcome us was a card from the management team, enclosing some free cocktail vouchers – I’m not sure if everyone gets that, but it was really appreciated!

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The mojito was really delicious. The bar staff were really friendly and you could tell that they took their cocktails seriously. The bar was quite busy for a Friday evening, so it’s obviously a hit with the office workers around there.

And so, to dinner. I was really very impressed. The restaurant has been taken over by fancy-pants Michelin-starred chef Martin Wishart and is called The Honours. Look at his twinkly wee face. He’s a clever clogs.

Again, our dinner was on the house, with us only paying for a very reasonably priced and delicious bottle of vintage Viognier (£18). It was really very refreshing and kept us going whilst we perused this fine menu and nibbled on some homemade bread and butter.

IMG_3740The room itself is much improved from the old dark and imposing room – it’s now light, airy and welcoming, no mean feat in a room with no windows. The table settings are simple but I liked that, as it wasn’t too pretentious, and was unfussy. We were sat at a large horseshoe-shaped booth which was very comfortable and felt private but with still a nice aspect on everything that was going on.

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Our waiter, Robert (I think), was just fantastic – he was extremely knowledgable, friendly and really wanted to make our meal special. We asked him for his recommendations and rather than rhyme off specials, he took the time to explain why he liked the things he suggested, and was just really friendly, but professional throughout.

Lee opted for the scallops with Belotta ham to start, whilst I went for the Honours salad, as I love Comte cheese. I don’t eat seafood at all, but tried the scallops which were really surprisingly delicious – so sweet! The salad was very tasty – I did not have the egg or foie gras with it and found it a perfect portion.
IMG_3742 IMG_3744For mains, we opted for the acorn-fed Iberico pork and the Glenarm shorthorn himalyan salt ribeye. I was initially kind of wary about the ribeye as I have a real bugbear about water bath cooking! But I am so glad I had it as it was literally one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. It melted in the mouth like butter, truly a divine dish.

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The pork was also extremely flavourful, and the accompaniments we had in the buttered spinach and fries were perfect. The only slight let down was the glazed carrots – it doesn’t say on the menu that they are glazed with orange juice – I felt that they were a bit too heavy on the orange and they ended up tasting like canned peaches. That’s the only downside I could find! (Apologies for the terrible photos, we were too eager to get stuck in!)

IMG_3747 IMG_3749For dessert (and let’s face it, who doesn’t have room for dessert?!), we had the chocolate mint souffle and the chocolate parfait. The pear sorbet with the latter was a real hit. Both desserts were again, faultless, and a real high note to end the meal on.

Whilst this was gifted to us by the manager of the hotel, I felt perfectly happy to pay the service charge (and a bit more on top) as the service was really exceptional. The whole experience was truly special and memorable and we would not hesitate to return as paying guests. Neither the restaurant or the hotel asked me to write this review, so this is really my true opinion and I really did love it!

We had a few drinks in the bar after dinner which was quieter and a nice vibe. I really like the industrial decor in there.

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Sleep-wise, the bed was really comfortable, but the pillows were a little bit meagre – the ones in the Premier Inn are better, which is a shocking revelation! I am fairly sure if I had asked at reception they could have offered replacements,but I was so tired that I just wanted to sink into bed. The one downside to the Malmaison is the noise from the street outside – it’s still noisy. Some wiseacre in a souped-up Micra was driving round and round the block for what felt like hours which stopped me dropping off. I always carry ear plugs when I travel though, so popped those in and was asleep in no time. I am a bit of a light sleeper though, this didn’t bother Lee in the slightest.

Next morning, we were up fairly early as I had to go to work, but we still had time for a delicious, hearty breakfast (which I seem to have lost the photo of). Suffice to say, there was a plentiful supply of pastries, cereals, juices and a nice selection of cooked items. We both opted for the full Malmaison breakfast extravaganza and the ingredients were top quality and delicious.

Even our check-out process was quick, smooth and very friendly – the lady on reception was so pleased that we were converts to loving Malmaison again!

All in all, I would recommend that if you have a special occasion coming up, say, your 35th birthday next month (ahem), then dinner at The Honours at Malmaison would be a perfect celebration! And would I stay there again? Absolutely – I would definitely be happy to pay for it, too! I really did enjoy it a lot.

Disclosure: We were guests of Malmaison on this stay. They did not ask me to write this review though, so suck it up, guys.

Posted in Random Utterings

Last Minute Makes

If you’ve suddenly realised you’ve under-gifted this Christmas, there’s still time to whip up a quick handmade gift, you know.

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As well as my own quick and easy cross stitch patterns (and don’t forget, there’s 25% off them before they disappear), there are a few places I’d recommend to hit up, if you’re of the stitchy persuasion:

Satsuma Street

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Really, these are a joy to behold. Jody is a very talented designer and I just love her style. These Christmas ornaments would be a great gift if you’re going to someone’s house for dinner, for example, or for a little extra stocking gift. The chart can be downloaded as a PDF instantly and features 6 different small Christmas themed designs.

Check out her Pretty Little… charts for more elaborate designs, too. Look, here’s the New York one I did, after I was gifted the chart for Christmas last year:

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What Delilah Did

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Sophie’s style and packaging are really appealing to me – kind of Victorian-y, kind of contemporary, kind of awesome. I have bought one of her kits in the past and only just gotten around to starting it recently – a no-sew cushion is really my kind of cushion!

Her charts may not be around for too much longer thanks to the VAT law changes, so check out her collection of patterns before it’s too late. I may have snaffled one to make as a gift for someone in the process of writing this…

Floss & Mischief

Amber_Bee_hoopla_PREVIEWGenevieve, the brains and beauty behind Floss & Mischief has a deep affection for creepy crawlies and taxidermy, reflected in her collection. I love this bee, and also the pastels of her feather range. Really pretty! Her charts are all here – again, not sure how she’ll be tackling the VAT stuff, so buy now to avoid disappointment.

Capes & Crafts

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If geek-stitch is more your thing, Capes & Crafts, another Scottish designer (yay!) have a whole host of TV, sci-fi and geek inspired patterns for you to choose from. I don’t know what half of them mean, but I am sure you will!

Wee Little Stitches

il_570xN.206788626The pixel people cross stitch charts are quite legendary – and also quick to stitch – the perfect last minute gift!

Happy stitchmas!

 

 

 

Posted in Living, Random Utterings

Retirement

Well, that was rather a longer hiatus than I anticipated. The truth is, I’ve been at work for most of the last 2 months, bashing my head metaphorically against a brick wall of despair. Whoever said a career in broadcasting was glamorous was off their tiny rocker.

In the intervening times, I have closed The Bellwether to all but instant-download PDF traffic and also written my last post for Super Cute Kawaii, so I’ve essentially retired from everything but my day job. I should feel liberated and free and have a lot of spare time, but unfortunately, this hasn’t transpired yet, so I’m not really feeling the benefits yet.

Also, I have…

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..finally been to the Gourock Lido for a midnight swim (spoiler – actually is at 10pm). It was fabulous. I’m going again next week. I went with my lovely friend Sarah, who I also saw with her bandmates at…

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..Kelvingrove Bandstand, for their gig as part of the Commonwealth Games Opening h00-ha. It was a perfect evening and such fun. This was on the day I came back from a mini-break in Kos, where we ran into…

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..,my best friend Jo and her boys, Ryan and Harris.We spent a very sunny day by the pool together which was again, such fun. Harris is the best company and I got to hang out in the pool with him lots. Speaking of trips, we also made a road trip to West Linton where I ate…

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..quite the poshest pie, beans and mash I’ve ever had at Tony Singh’s Old Bakehouse. We went for my Mum’s birthday and it was superb. I can’t wait to go back! Soon, I hope. We’ve also had our other social occasion for the year, in the form of my colleague Chris’s wedding, at New Lanark, which was…

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..delightfully quirky and beautiful and romantic and perfect. It was so nice to see him happy after a tough year. I basically drank, cried and danced all day, sometimes all at once. It’s left me very little time for sewing, though I did finish off my Grand Budapest Hotel set, with this…

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..Mendl’s van. It’s so cute. I hope to one day get my shit together and get the remaining charts online to purchase. I’ll still keep my hand in. Just not sure when. Too much busy! But I do have a mere 3 weeks until I have another holiday to jet off on – maybe I’ll get time to catch up then.

 

Posted in Random Utterings

Captioned Music – automated vs human skill

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Here are two fun videos that illustrate two very different results when captioning music.

The first is lyric video for One Direction lyrics as captioned by You Tube’s auto captioning system. (You can also view the results of Taylor Swift’s lyrics)

Machine translation does have a role to play in providing access and despite these funny videos continues to improve but that is for another blog post.

Continuing on, compare the above with the fantastic skill of this stenographer and watch them subtitle Eminem’s Lose Yourself in real-time (music starts at 1:35 in).

Stenography is also used to caption/subtitle live television – see #subtitlefail! TV

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Posted in Random Utterings

Five Lines

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Hello! I’m Claire, I live in a little town near Glasgow, with my husband of 9 years,with this lovely scenery on my doorstep. I’m originally from Ayrshire and have lived in various places, including Guernsey, just about every part of Glasgow and Bangkok.

I work as a Production Manager for a TV company and I also run my handmade interiors and craft kits company, The Bellwether. When I am not doing that, I write at Super Cute Kawaii. Oh, and at Craft Tuts+. And when I’m not doing that, I walk my massive Labrador. I don’t sleep much. I have no formal qualifications in writing, television production or craft and I don’t have a degree. I like to think I am a good example of hard work winning out over fancy intials after your name.

I like to read about many and various topics, including but not limited to Victorian social history, abandoned buildings, the Tudors and how things work. I like to learn new things. I also like to watch TV, not just at work where I’m paid for it – I’m a sucker for a box set.

If I won the lottery, I’d buy an old Victorian painted lady house in San Francisco and open a shop or maybe a hotel. I’d love to live in America. It will happen one day.

The five words that sum me up best are does not suffer fools gladly. I swear too much. I wear glasses for looking at computers. I love ponies and I do not believe for a minute that narwhals are real.

I’m blogging every day in May as part of this, so this is my introduction. Find out more here. 

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Posted in Indie Business, Random Utterings

Lately

Several things to note:

The winner of my embroidery giveaway has not been in touch, so I’ve picked another one. You snooze, you lose.  The second winner is Jules. Drop me a line, I’ll post out your loot.

I’m going to be doing a (birth)day in the life on Monday 11th March. Do join in if you can. Here’s what it’s all about.

And last but not least, I’ve killed off Miso Funky. The Bellwether is where it’s at now. Check me one time.

Enter The Bellwether's Facebook Competition!

As you can see, you can win large with a simple Facebook like. Click to it.

Posted in Random Utterings

This Is a Story About ‘The Fresh Prince’ and subtitles via Google Translate

Oh, man, this cheered me up on a dull, dull day.

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Mashable pointed me to this comedy/creative use of Google translate to see what happened to the lyrics to the TV theme tune for The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. Subtitles are used to display the translation results in the video:

Click here to watch with full English subtitles.

(and just in case you’ve been living under a rock or can’t remember the 1990s click here for the lyrics.)

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