Sunday, October 17, 2010


Chocolate Hazelnut Torte from Sunday lunch today. Got to have the dark chocolate! ;)
Hooray! I was tagged in this meme thing by The Cottage Smallholder. The rule is to tag eight other bloggers and make your own eight questions. 

I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

__..::1* What have you learnt from blogging?
I started blogging when I was an angsty 17 year old. Over the years I've learned that it's a very good idea to just let all the ideas, troubles, annoyances, happiness sprawl on the page. Once they're there it's much easier to be reflective and to work things out. I'm actually looking forward to meeting more bloggers. I'm new to the public blogging thing, really. If anyone has any tips, I'm open to learning!

__..::2* What was your proudest moment and why?
Graduation day at university. I have never worked so hard or suffered so much for anything in my life. It was an incredibly tough course (Music and Drama and Theatre Studies) and I learned so much about the world, people and myself.

__..::3* What is the naughtiest thing that you have ever done?
I picked up all the business cards for a rival soprano, put them in my handbag and replaced them with my own. I feel so guilty to this day. I think I'll put them somewhere else because I can't live with the guilt.

__..::4* Who or what populates your nightmares?
Men with knives coming to stab me. My mother.

__..::5* Do you have “me time”. If so what do you do and why?
I love meeting up with my friends in Cork and Tweeting/Facebook. I find the internet so relaxing. It's better than a bath. I also enjoy tidying....
The whole social thing is good for me. I like socialising and meeting with people and the internet opens up the possibilities of who I might meet. :) It's very useful for keeping in touch with my friends in other countries, which I do every day. I prefer real life contact though, and that's why it's important to me to see my close proximity friends regularly.

__..::6* The one food or ingredient that you fret about running out and why?
Dark chocolate. Things can never go completely wrong when there's good quality dark chocolate in the store cupboard.

__..::7* The best book that you have read in the last five years and why?
OH MY GOD, HARDEST QUESTION EVER!!!!  I'm going to say 'His Dark Materials' which is a trilogy by Philip Pullman. It sucks you right it to its world and almost makes you into a character.

From my LiveJournal:
Jan. 5th, 2005 at 1:16 AM

"I've been reading Northern Lights and thinking about daemons. When I'm reading it/thinking about it I'm like "Wow, thank God no one will ever separate me from my daemon." It's actually surreal to think that I don't have one. I feel like I do."

__..::8* If you could erase a person/experience/mistake from your life who/what would it be and why?
No, never. Nothing. I don't think I'd erase anyone or anything. I've learned from everything.

1. What inspires you to blog?
2. What's the best thing about blogging, for you?
3. What is your favourite book of all time?
4. It's 9pm and for some reason you've been hungry all day, despite the three square meals. What do you rustle up?
5. Who are three of your style icons?
6. What's your current favourite song/piece of music?
7. What's the last book you read?
8. What is your current favourite recipe?
aaand I fail because I need more blogs! I INVITE YOU  TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS! :D

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Making of the Pumpkin Pie

Welcome autumn! It was really fiery and gorgeous for about two days and now it's lashing rain. It's pretty in a different way. Wet or grey weather is never something that I complain about. It's just very Irish, isn't it. It's a different sort of lovely and amazing.
When I was in school I used to imagine that college would be this endless autumn with scarves and coffee. It kind of was, but colder and rainier. There was lots of coffee, anyway.

When it's all moldy and slimy outside, it's makes me feel much more justified in staying indoors and baking. Last week I bought a GIANT pumpkin for six euro in the English Market in Cork. Last year I had my first go of cooking with a pumpkin and was informed after the fact that I was using the wrong sort of pumpkin.

It seems that in Ireland we seem to only use one sort - the big jack-o-lantern kind. Trust me, it tastes amazing. I am so completely unconcerned with it not being a "pie pumpkin."

Last year I scooped out the innards of our actual jack-o-lantern so I had to be quite careful of damaging his beautiful visage. But this year I was free to do whatever was necessary (bwa-ha-ha >:D ).

This pumpkin provided enough for two pumpkin pies, a vat of pumpkin soup, a tray of pumpkin pasties and a lot of purée has gone in the freezer for later.

Have you tried pumpkin? I don't think it's that common in the UK and Ireland. If anyone has any other suggestions for how to use up the rest of the pumpkin, please comment! :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Oh my Jo.

I've paused the interview that J.K. Rowling did with Oprah Winfrey. It's just that I feel quite overwhelmed. At the moment the huge messy ball of my thoughts is not showing any signs of organising itself, but I'd like to at least attempt to convey what it's about.

For over a year I've felt quite distant from the Harry Potter fandom, and from the story and "The Feeling." Without getting into a massive debate about tier systems, I have very much felt that the fandom as I knew it has disappeared and what is left is a community where we have made certain people celebrities. It makes me hugely uncomfortable. I couldn't exactly tell you why. Perhaps some part of me feels that celebrity is not what I signed up for. What drew me to the fandom was the people all over the world, from different families and religions and countries, who were on the same journey that I was. We were all Harry. We were all learning about how important love is, how important loyalty, friends, hard work are.

Me and Martha, queuing for Deathly Hallows. 2007

Listening to Jo Rowling speak about what it was like for her on the other side of the typewriter, about how she had no idea that there were children and adults alike reading the books and becoming involved in such a dramatic and emotional way, rekindled The Feeling for me. Honestly it really has been a long time. And how can I put into words what I've been through with these books, what they've done for me or how I've experienced them?

Let me explain for a moment what The Feeling is. (Although, I know that if you are reading this as a HP fan, I don't really need to.)

When it's an early autumnal  morning, everything's crisp and quiet and there is a mist hovering above the grass, you may experience The Feeling. It's almost as though the world is completely yours and only you know its secrets. That there's some strength or power you get from that. It's very difficult to describe an emotion in the first place. If all your friends and family turned up to surprise you with love and hugs, the feeling you would experience in the middle of the night when they're all asleep and it's quiet is "The Feeling."

It's kind of like "I feel so lucky to be alive that I'm slightly melancholy." Strange, but so am I.

I first read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone when I was twelve years old. I've always felt different to my peers. And adults. And people younger than me. For some reason I've always felt just a little bit out of step. I tend to think of things differently, or imagine things differently. I'm convinced that this is a reason that I can't fathom poetry: it resonates COMPLETELY differently for me. I never saw what everyone in my class at school saw.

Don't get me wrong, I've never been shy or felt that being different was a very bad thing. It's just always been that way. Even something as small as like being the curly-haired girl in a class or straight-haired people. I've just always felt different. I've never seen a reason to be shy. When my school friends avoided raising their voices, I'd be the one shouting or singing or just asking questions.

It's my nature to be that way, definitely. And even though I never felt that I had to seek solace anywhere, I definitely found reinforcement in the Harry Potter books. Hogwarts was a place where EVERYONE was different. No one tried to be the same as anyone else. Each character had their own strengths and each character was on his or her own personal journey. They got through it all because they had individual power and the love of their friends.

I needed to see that. To this day, I'm not sure if a world exists where everyone feels okay being themselves all the time. I am myself all the time and I certainly feel that in some places Amy is frowned upon. But I needed to see that someone else believes that it's okay to think differently, or to be 'strange.' In the Harry Potter books, it's the idiosyncrasies of the characters that makes them so lovable and so memorable.

Jo Rowling didn't know it, but she and I were having a long conversation. She was teaching me how to feel things like loyalty, friendship, strength, love and grief and to understand what they meant.

My mother died when I was 15 years old, a good three years after I had started reading HP. It was sudden and unexpected. One day everything was fine, the next day I was told my mum was dying. Obviously it wasn't as straight forward as "I understood grief because of JK so I was fine," but I was certainly familiar with the concepts and emotions that came next. I recognised what I was going through because I'd been through it already with Harry. During my particularly dark periods, I could relate to Harry. I never felt a hundred percent alone.

The WZRD Staff. Terminus, Chicago, IL August 2008
There is so much I could say. I could talk about Terminus, about how much it meant to me to go and spend time with people who had been on the same journey as me. I could talk about how much I've gained from being the the fandom in terms of work experience and life experience. I could talk about you, my friends, who I'm sure wouldn't be reading if not for J.K. Rowling. Yet, I feel sure that she doesn't understand what she has done for so many people. I know that, simply because she is human, she can't begin to fathom the way she has touched so many people's lives. Maybe she thinks that we read and enjoy and are inspired.

We are.

But it's so much more than that.

Birmingham, UK.  October 2007
New Canaan, CT, USA. January 2008

With Squib Girl. Providence, RI, USA. January 2008

With Camie and Grace at FAO Schwartz, NYC January 2008

LeakyCon, Boston, MA. July 2009

The Snow Ball, Edinburgh, Scotland.
December 2009

Ellie, Laura, me, Cathrin and Lucy. After "The Cork Show"
June 2010

If you can relate or have any thoughts about this, please comment!