The Soundtrack of My Life...

There are usually three songs in my head. It's not to be helped. That's just the way it is. One is usually just a poppy piece of fluff, playing on rotation because it's catchy - no other reason. The other two usually have relevance to whatever is going on in my life. I've got a constant score underpinning each of my movements; every major event, every mundane train ride.

It also means I have this absolutely ravenous appetite for new music; once I've associated a bit of melody with something in particular, it's ruined for me, it belongs to a certain point in time and I've got to move on, the song is retired from my mental play list - revived only for a nostalgic reprise.

As a result, I'm constantly absorbing new songs to satiate my soundtrack. My consumption of music can be outrightly gluttonous; I'll down entire albums without stopping to breathe - memorizing every lyric and nuanced guitar note as I go along.

So late late last night I opened my mailbox and found a birthday package from my friend Dianne. Contents: Card & two (2!!) CDs. I was ecstatic. I immediately unwrapped and loaded the first, A Fine Frenzy's One Cell in the Sea, into my computer.

Just from the look of the Fine Frenzy girl, I liked her right away. She had fiery red hair of the colour mine had been a few years ago, and her style was that of my ideal-self.

Not far into my first-listen, I paused. Was she saying what I thought she was? Yes. Looking at the liner notes - yes. The words too-perfect. The lyrics too-applicable.

Incredible. Truly. (I swear, Dianne has this uncanny sixth-sense unintentional knack for giving me all-too-appropriate albums to reflect my current circumstances. How does she do it??)

I encourage you all to also check out Ms. Alison Sudol of A Fine Frenzy. Perhaps One Cell in the Sea is nothing like the soundtrack for your life, but it's beautiful and slightly melancholy in a way I think we can all relate.

As for me, I've already committed the whole of the album to memory. It will be playing in my head all week.

Bon Keepsakes

Now that I'm knee-deep in projects and deadlines, and generally lacking in fundage, isn't it nice that I have wonderful friends who adore travel as much as I do - and while roving, sometimes pause to think of bringing me back a memento.

The decorative box of delectable macaroons from Paris' Ladurée (pictured above) was given to me by my friend Rachel who was visiting from New York. Mid-point through her UK-visit she took the quick Eurostar trip through the Chunnel to France where she could gasp at its architecture, and cafe scene, and pastries (Oh! Lucky girl! The pastries!).

Now, never you mind that this particular lavender-embellished gift box of salted caramel (not pictured - they were all eaten!) and raspberry macaroons wasn't actually purchased during her French excursion - rather stumbled upon and procured near Piccadilly Circus here in London - given my overwhelming busyness et al., getting to the Ladurée's Burlington Arcade somewhere off Regent Street is pretty much on par with sojourning to France . . . so it really is the Parisian thought that counts!

After Blowing Out the Birthday Candles...

"I don't want to make money. I just want to be wonderful."

- Marilyn Monroe

Thought Trinkets from Warsaw: Melancholy & Up-and-Coming

My sister Kasey just got back from Warsaw, which she reports as a bit melancholy, overly modern architecturally, yet stirring with an 'underground' evolution towards a sense of 'up-and-coming.'

Most memorable was her visit to the Uprising Museum, which is a commemoration to the people of Poland who 'rose up' against the Axis Powers in 1944, and died rather tragically in doing so.

Apparently, the fact that the people resisted (and that now their efforts are being honored) is somewhat controversial as their actions left many people dead, and essentially led to the desecration of a city that had once been described as 'the Paris of the east' when the Nazis proceeded to systematically annihilate irreplaceable historic structures in retaliation. (And thus - depending on where you stand - making the resistors or the Nazis [or the Communists] the reason for the 'melancholy' and 'overtly modern' city that rose up in its place).

Oh, there's always 20/20 hindsight - isn't there? But sometimes, faced with the future that is believed-to-known... and is unbearable... any and all sacrifice in the present seems more than worth it.

Anyway, moral quandaries aside, Kasey brought with her a few atypical and adorable souvenirs that I absolutely had to share with you. Ahh, she has such an eye... if it had been me in her place I would have come back with a postcard that wouldn't get mailed to anyone for a year. Enjoy!

Wedel's signature chocolate bars wrapped in illustrations that represent some of Poland's best-loved fairy tales.

A stack of animal puzzles to help children learn to spell ...

It rather amazing that in Polish so many animals can be spelled with exactly four letters...

Cute cat playing cards for the likes of Go Fish!

Looks like the cat ate the fish.

Beating Procrastination with Procrastination

This sign is hanging above my fashion-designer-in-the-making friend Corina's dining-turned-work-table. (The girl last seen early this morning frantically constructing an intricate garment with the hope that she would have enough energy left to sprint with her project to class - and maybe even have enough time to take a shower beforehand ...).

Her ADD-riddled motivational poster shouted at me with pitch-perfect timbre... After all, I've got my own tight project deadlines breathing down my neck. (Plus, I thought it an appropriate sort of mantra to hang over the workbench of one's life just in general).

And yet, temptations to fritter time prevail ... as could potentially even be evidenced by this very blog post.

Yeesh! Get on with it Anne Spice! NO TIME! Start! Start! START!

Indian V8

Ha... imagine this in the context of the infamous I Love Lucy episode.

To Wondering Eyes...

When I heard the familiar swish slosh of moving vehicles meeting precipitation outside this morning, I thought I'd woken to just another rainy day in London.

But when I looked outside - behold! It wasn't rain! It was snow... Full-on snow that children were scooping up to form into balls and throw at each other... snow that had actually collected on the car windows and roofs of the no-doubt rattled London drivers. There was enough snow falling, in fact, to qualify as a snowstorm even by my native Rocky Mountain standards. It felt like a white Christmas in April (which is actually my birthday month).

Ah, I get the best presents.

Too-Sour Milk-Griddle Cakes: Did I Do Something Wrong...?

Ever since I read about Edna Lewis's Sour-Milk Griddle Cakes on The Wednesday Chef I've been anxious to make them. Luisa, the blog's author, made them sound irresistible - going so far as to claim that they were her and her honey's new favourite breakfast no less - and her pictures only added to body of convincing evidence that I would soon be blogging similar praises.

But it took me nearly a month to find out this would not be the case as the griddle cake recipe calls for cream of tartar and apparently there's a shortage of the stuff here in London.

For three weeks, I hunted for the slightly obscure cooking acid in every grocery store I entered, but to no avail. (Yet maddeningly, I kept coming across more recipes I wanted to make that required the ingredient, it was beginning to feel like mockery!).

, the other day I came across the last pot of cream of tartar at the Canary Wharf Waitrose - along with a cute bottle of blackcurrant coulis that I thought would make for an appropriate accompaniment (on sale! a mere 75p! - and people wonder why I proselytize about the store...)

Anyway, so I excitedly dashed home, and woke up earlier than I ever normally would the very next morning just to make these griddle cakes...


Utter disappointment! Was my pan too hot? Was my wheat flour to dense? Did I measure something wrong? (Was I even really working with bona fide cream of tartar? Hmmm....) Not only did they not cook properly... the 'sour' taste boasted about in the recipes' title was more off-putting than something to brag about.

Ah well... You win some you lose some... Even though I'm sure I did something wrong, I won't attempt these griddle cakes again just to find out.

Behold... the lone cake that even slightly resembled Luisa's end-product.

Was Tom a Fool?

I live near this little hole-in-the-wall passageway called Tom Thumb's Arch, which doesn't look like it could accommodate someone much taller than my short self, and beckons cheerfully at night with a spectrum of primary colors glowing from inside.

And I smile every time I walk through it, because it makes me feel like a storybook character, or like I'm participating in a nursery rhyme.

Anyway, I just though you should know.

Happy April Fool's Day!