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February 28, 2006

Pancakes!


I sincerely hope you all enjoyed your pancakes. We certainly did! And because Mr. PE and I took three years perfecting our vegan pancake recipe, (not continually we did take the odd break every now and then) I thought Iíd share it with the world because it takes about a year to prepare and uses specialist ingredients from all corners of the globe. Start cooking for next Shrove Tuesday guys....
Are you ready for this?

Get a load of flour and mix it with some soya milk until it has a slightly thicker consistency that normal pancake batter. You need it to be just at that stage where it blobs from the fork rather than pours (maybe next time I should take down the measurements) Add a pinch of salt.
Heat through enough sunflower oil to coat your frying pan until it starts to smoke (open your kitchen window so that you can see what you are doing) and then add enough pancake mixture to cover the pan. Flip it over only when the pancake has changed to that translucenty colour in the middle. (Goddamn you. Just give it a go and you will know what Iím talking about) and then cook the other side for the same amount of time. Cover in lemon juice and sugar or maple syrup and scoff contently.

Yes you did read that right. We spent years experimenting with egg replacer and soya flour (as some recipes suggest) and would you believe it we stumbled across this method late one night when we had barely anything in the house. Makes you wonder doesnít it, just how many of these fancy ingredients are absolutely necessary. Itís all in the method methinks

Posted by purple elephant at 06:07 PM |

February 27, 2006

Disturbing My Heart

Iím very rarely beaten by a book. If I donít like the sound of something then I donít read it but once Iíve read the first couple of sentences I feel obliged to give it a chance which usually means I battle it out to the end, if only to be able to define why I find it so bad.

In a charity shop the other day I picked up a Womenís Press book called Delighting the Heart; A Notebook by Women Writers (Susan Sellers ed) The back cover promises that;

íSeventeen women - poets, novelists and playwrights - talk with candour and warmth about how they began to write, how they approach a new piece of work and how they develop it.í

It sounds like a great inspiration/ motivation piece for the 50 hours editing Iím supposed to be putting in over the next month. You see Iím a sucker for all those stories of the Woman Writerís struggle in the face of adversity; Jane Austen hiding her work away as soon as someone came in the room; JK Rowling pacing the baby about in the buggy until it fell asleep and then scribbling away in a cafe, making one cup of coffee last all afternoon. (OK so that one turned out to be a literary myth but I love it all the same) In fact the only thing that gets me out of bed at 6:15 in the morning, is the knowledge that Iím not as dedicated as Sylvia Plath, who got up at 4:30am, so that she could get the work done before the kids woke up.

I was hoping for something similar from Delighting the Heart. Perhaps I would learn that there are other women out there who snatch whatever babysitting time they can, here and there, from whoever is willing enough to charge a pittance, or better still nothing at all. (Yo! Grandparents!) Perhaps I would learn that for other women too, most of the time this means a packet of Starburst and a Disney DVD and the motherly guilt that usually ensues. Maybe I would even acquire a few helpful tips on how to concentrate whilst world war three is kicking off in the room around me, or how to persuade a four year old that surely she can wait for that snack because Jesus Christ she had lunch only half an hour ago.

According to the Women Writers featured in the book so far, I have the following options.
1) Leave the kids with the husband and swan off to that spare flat I keep in London for just such purposes, only coming home at weekends,
2) Divorce my husband and let him have full custody.
3) (And I actually like the sound of this one) Buy a holiday cottage in the middle of nowhere in Cornwall and disappear for week long writing breaks, several times a year. (mmm I wonder how long it would take to save up for a nice cottage if I put a PayPal button on this blog.)
4) Tiredness dulls creativity. I mustnít write when Iím tired. (If I took this one seriously then strictly speaking, I should not have got out of bed at all today.)

Page 20 and already I feel my soul ebbing away. Perhaps I better put this one aside, ready for a better time, when I might find it amusing or something. Right now my heart is not delighted but very much disturbed.

Posted by purple elephant at 10:42 PM |

February 26, 2006

Pyromania or maybe just mania?

Would you be concerned if you lived with this person?

YOU; I need to go on holiday by the sea, for research purposes, of course.
HIM; Maybe weíll go in the summer or something.
YOU; But I know what the seaside looks like in summer. I need to go in winter, like errr NOW!
HIM; (Mumbles) Canít afford it. Canít take Littleone out of school on a whim. Weíve both got too much work at the moment. Blah blah blah.... (in other words every excuse under the sun.)

YOU; Maybe you can help me with something else then. You know those really big static caravan things?
HIM; Indeed. Look is this important? Iím watching Newsnight.
YOU; Yes it is actually. If there was a gas canister stored underneath and someone was to - say- set light to the curtains. How long before the caravan explodes? And how far back would an audience have to stand so as to not get injured.
HIM; (Thinks) Hmmm a hard one that.
YOU; I mean itís not like we can test it out. Itís not like I can walk into a holiday park and ask them if they have any unwanted caravans and then start a fire...
HIM; (Thinks) Hmmmm it may not be as difficult as you think.
YOU; Darling, err Hello, it was a joke.
Silence.

A few minutes later.
HIM; Iíve got it! Right hereís the plan! We set ourselves up in the middle of Midsummer Common and build ourselves a scaled down caravan out of scrap metal, complete with curtains of course. We can place one of my cigarette lighters underneath, which would act as the gas canister and then we get out the matches, wait for it to explode, do a bit of maths and there we have it. Your answer.
YOU; But Darling.....
HIM; It will be great fun, I can get all my friends together, itíll be just like Rough Science. Weíll love it! Oh my God Iím so excited! shall I phone them now? Shall I?
YOU; Oh dear.....

Lock up your matches, there is a Purple Elephant in the house.

Posted by purple elephant at 10:54 AM |

February 23, 2006

Viva La Desperation!

This has got to be a first!
Five episodes in to the new season (once again apologies to all American readers who are probably months ahead of us) and I havenít whittled on about Desperate Housewives, not even once.

To be perfectly honest, now I know who Dana is and why Mike kept pulling those Iím-up-to-something faces every five minutes, so far season two as a whole does not have the same impetus as season one.

Carlos is in prison and so doesnít appear quite as much as he should. The new family havenít yet been built upon adequately enough for me to care why theyíve got a bloke stashed in the cellar. Iíve got the message that Lynette finds it tough going back to work because she misses the kids, boy has that storyline been done to death. Teri Hatcher is only worth her hideous fee in order to set up the irregular but funny exchanges between Susan and Edie and yes, I suppose James Denton is mildly good looking but not enough to warrant putting down a good book for a whole hour.

BUT (and I fear Iíve said this before so IĎll make it brief) Bree Van de Kamp single-handedly makes my TV licence worth paying ten hundred times over. The writers have portrayed a roundness and depth, not afforded to any one else on the show and she has some of the best lines;

GEORGE; ready to get down to it after dinner. Are you sure youíre ready for this? Itís not too soon?

(For those who have better things to be doing with their Wednesday evenings, he is of course referring to her husbandís death. Díuh keep up.)

BREE; Well I was hoping to digest the duck a little longer but what the hell?!

Marcia Cross brings further dimension to the character showing her up as one of the great actresses of our time. In fact I fear for her safety because Iím feeling all nasty and irrational and I might just stalk her because *sob* SHE IS NOT MINE! No I donít want to marry her or anything like that (but then again if she is offering?...) really Iím jealous because I myself did not design Bree Van De Kamp, I did not make her, I DID NOT WRITE HER GODAMMIT!!! And if I didnít write her, then no one else can have her.
*psychotic glance from side to side*

The tragedy of the situation is that in my first attempt at NaNoWriMo way back in - oooooh 2004 (a good few months before I ever saw the first episode of Desperate Housewives) I had a character with a cleaning obsession. I was proud of her at the time but now I loathe her. I want to either kill her off painfully and slowly, or rip all her dull, vile scenes to shreds, or at the very least give her another obsession because Goddamn her SHE WILL NEVER BE BREE! And more to the point I am simply a vile worthless hack who will never write anyone quite so funny, so tragic, so tender, so beautiful as Bree Van De Kamp.

Maybe I should just stick to watching television, it is surely all Iím good for. And so whilst Bree Van De Kamp still resides on Wisteria Lane then Purple Elephant shall at least remain unresponsive to all other stimulus between the hours of 10 and 11pm on a Wednesday.

Long live Bree! And thatís all Iíve got to say about that.

Posted by purple elephant at 09:01 PM |

February 22, 2006

Matchbox Hell.

Jean Paul Sartre could not have had any kids, or if he did it must have been Simone De Beauvoir who had the pleasure of dropping them off at the school every morning. Hell is not other people, other people are just mildly annoying. They simply get in your way in the supermarket, or take up the last seat on the bus with their shopping, or just stagger past your door, swearing at the top of their voice at 11:30pm on a Friday night. Oh no hell is not other people at all, hell is other parents.

Littleoneís class had homework for the half term, they had to decorate a matchbox and fill it with a donation to charity. There will be a prize for most imaginatively decorated matchbox in each year group. So far so glittery carpet AGAIN!

Yet thankfully Littleone forgot about the glitter and decided to make a patchwork matchbox instead. So I admit, I cut out the small squares of fabric with the pinking shears because I feared for her fingers but she did all the gluing herself. She picked the scrap of lace to tie around the middle and struggled to tie a bow. I helped her just a touch but mainly it was her idea and she was proud of the sticky, lopsided result. And so she should have been, remember sheís only four.

The matchboxes had to be handed in today. Most of them resembled my daughterís effort, not because they were made out of scraps of fabric, for there were all sorts of messy ideas there; stickers, screwed up bits of tissue paper, splodges of paint etc, but what they all shared in common was that DIY wonkyness, the vision of a parent hovering over, allowing the childís creativity full reign whilst trying not to sigh at the mess that would have to be cleared up later.

The rest arrived in the arms of the parents who paraded the playground so that us lesser mortals could see the works of art they clutched. In addition they were handed straight to the teacher, heaven forbid that the children should be allowed anywhere near them. One had all sorts of intricately and symmetrically cut additions to make it look like a car. Another was a grand dinosaur complete with cartoon eyes and mouth, not to mention coloured WITHIN the lines and with NO gaps. I could go on but I think you get the picture, either we have a disproportionate number of mini artistic geniuses in this class, or these kids had a little too much help from the parents.

Just a hint of the word Ďprizeí and see what insecurities crawl out of the woodwork. Because letís face it, if these parents thought they were really that clever theyíd be testing their artistic talents against people their own age, not a bunch of four year olds. And if you would stoop so low as to infiltrate a kidsí competition, just so that you can feel good about yourself, then I suggest you spend your hard earned cash on an hourís therapy, rather than the entire craft section of ELC.

Losers every last one of them.

Posted by purple elephant at 05:20 PM |

February 21, 2006

Because you have always wondered ...

Thanks to someone with an intricate knowledge of anatomy, an amazing artistic talent and perhaps little too much time on their hands,(hark at me I'm just jealous) now you know what the skeletal system of Charlie Brown looks like.

Is it just me or does Tweety look like your worst nightmare?

See the rest here.

How long before a stall in Camden starts selling these as skinny fit t-shirts to teenage goths?

Posted by purple elephant at 08:21 PM |

February 20, 2006

Blessed are the (American) Mapmakers

It is cool and the moment to jump on the I-Hate-the-USA bandwagon and yes, I have done my fair share of Bush Bashing but for once I have something pleasant to say about y'all.

Who do you get to design your road maps and can you send them over here please?

I gained my reputation as a so called 'chief navigator' by directing my whole family on a road trip around Virginia, some years ago. No one was more pleasantly surprised than I, that my hidden talent had been discovered at last.

O' how I reigned for many years. Well until this weekend at least, when my mother and I decided to try out the new Ikea at Milton Keynes (digested review; very well designed except for the restaurant which was crap) On the way home we heard that there were major roadworks on the main road between Milton Keynes and Cambridge, so I whipped out a map decided to take us on a little detour; a couple of A roads, one B road and with my navigating we would be home in no time.

Ahem well I blame the map. In the USA you wouldn't get two roads with the same name running parallel to each other (What are there not enough numbers in the world or something?)Nor would a map insist that a road runs under the motorway when really it is a bridge. Nor would there be road signs that direct you to a town and then abandon you in the middle of nowhere.

We arrived back here in the dark, nearly two hours later and my tail was most certainly between my legs.

I wouldn't mind but all I got to show for my fall from grace was a wipe clean tablecloth a twin pack of bendy chopping boards and a squillion nightlights.

Posted by purple elephant at 07:23 PM |

February 17, 2006

I Can See Clearly Now the Knackered Computer Screen Has Gone...

Well I can see everything on the computer screen clearly and that is a start at least.

Yep everyone, after another sustained period of frustrating downtime, we seem to have the PC up and running again. Just as I never say Ďneverí, I also never say Ďalwaysí so letís just say we might be back to posting daily again. Fingers crossed.

As far as everything else is concerned work seems to be piling up from all directions and what with the computer messing us about and the small inconvenience of half-term (for kids but alas not for me) Iím not as far ahead as I would like to be. Littleone has gone to Mumís today which is a great excuse to get everything done except it seems to have taken me the whole day to decide where to start. Anybody else get days like that?

Oh and because I cannot resist a challenge / enjoy running myself to the ground / fear that novel will never get edited otherwise (delete as appropriate) Iíve signed myself up for NaNoEdMo next month. Iíve got to put in 50 hours of editing over the course of March and that is 50 hours writing, unfortunately I understand that reading endless books about Suffragettes just because they got a mention in Chapter 15 doesnít count. Damn.

Posted by purple elephant at 08:30 PM |

February 08, 2006

Spring

I might have mentioned before that January and I do not get along very well. I wouldnít say I had SAD because Iím OK during November and December with the Winter Solstice, Christmas and New Year to focus on. January however seems to drag, the weather is always damp cold and uninspiring and Spring always seem a good couple of months away. Iím afraid I donít care what my new 2006 calendar says, January lasts well into February, in fact January lasts until the first hint of Spring, however subtle that hint may be.
So there I was this morning studying away when I heard a sound, like the voice of an old friend returning. No it wasnít the dawn chorus, the first sign of Spring does not necessarily have anything to do with nature, the sound Iím referring to was the din of a radio, some one elseís radio.
But there was something about that sound that put a smile on my face and a tap in my foot, not that I liked the tune (it was Coldplay in case you wondered) but because the fact that I could hear it meant that the weather had improved so slightly that someone had their window open. Iím not a social animal, I like my own company but every now and then I desire to be reminded that other people exist, without having to converse with them. Thatís what unnerves me about winter, that we leave the house only when we have to, and then we go about our chores at a certain speed and with our heads down, just to get it over with. In Spring we stroll and we linger, often catching a strangerís eye and allowing a smile or a nod to pass our lips. Even when we are at home we hear a muffled tune, or perhaps a burst of laughter and we know that another soul is only a couple of walls away.
So I stood and stretched at the window, trying to decipher where the noise was coming from and just at that moment the sun appeared from behind a cloud and illuminated the window box on the balcony. (That window box that I stopped watering as soon as the weather turned cold, in fact I donít think we have so much as opened the back door since October). Anyway there amongst all the long forgotten, barren sprigs of whatever, stood a solitary sunflower, a diddy sunflower standing at only about ten centimetres tall but a sunflower all the same.
At last, it seems that January has left us.

Posted by purple elephant at 11:25 PM |

February 07, 2006

Isabelle Dinoire

Iím intrigued by this face transplant story on so many levels. From a relatively young age Iíve harboured a fascination with surgery. I remember in GCSE Biology we were sat in front a video of a heart transplant operation and were told that we could leave the room at any point if we couldnít hack it. It was just after lunch and by the end of the lesson there were only three of us left, I for one couldnít take my eyes off the screen, it was better than a soap opera any day. The fact that you could take an organ from one body and make it survive in another was amazing enough but to witness the operation (probably edited somewhat, the lesson was only an hour long after all) well it is not something Iíve forgotten, to say the least.

But that was a heart and this is a nose, lips and some cheeks and how much do I wish I could have stood in that room and watched, if only to understand just Ö how?

But hiding under all these layers of wonder at modern medical advancement lays a human story that I wish I had written. Depressed at the state of her life a woman takes some pills Ďto forgetí but in her state of languor, her dog fears that something is wrong and tries to rouse her. It is not until she comes round and tries to light a cigarette that she finds she has no mouth in which to put it.
Meanwhile, however many miles away, another woman in a similar mental state succeeds in taking her own life. Her family agree that her organs can be used to save anotherís life, or at least make it more bearable.

Yet there is so much on which we can only speculate. What was happening in each womanís life to make her feel so hopeless in the first place? Those of us with our glasses half full and a longing for some sort of closure, would like to think that after travelling to hell and back Isabelle Dinoire has had an epiphany and that the depression has miraculously gone away. The rest of us are left wondering if this is really the case.
But most of all I want to know what happened to the dog?

Isabelle if you ever need a biographer you know where to come.

Posted by purple elephant at 08:51 PM |

February 05, 2006

Still StandingÖ justÖ

At the beginning of the week there was a fight NOT even outside the school gates but outside the classroom door and no this wasnít a bunch of ten year olds getting all uptight about a football match, this was a couple of mothers arguing over 50 quid. They knocked each other to the floor and one father had to step in and stop a buggy being tipped over, shielding the kidís eyes from what her mother was up to.

Naturally by 3.15 the arch enemies were best mates again but unfortunately it was all not so easily forgotten by my daughter, as soon as she got home two of her Sylvanian Families mummies started beating each other up and the baby rabbit had to call the police. There went another small fragment of innocence.

On Thursday we got a letter sent home informing us that the morning before a couple of blokes had tried to snatch some kids from outside the school gates, fortunately the girls knew exactly what to do and ran in to tell a teacher by which time the men had disappeared.
We now have police presence at the school gates, morning and evening. Thankfully Littleone is still innocent enough to think that this is quite cool.

To top it all off, on Monday three kids in the Reception class were sent home with chicken pox by Thursday twenty-six kids in Year one were absent with a stomach bug from hell.
Littleone is lucky enough to have escaped with just a snotty nose. Please let it stay this way.

And there was I thinking that I didnít have enough patience for home schooling.

Posted by purple elephant at 08:21 AM |

Spring

I might have mentioned before that January and I do not get along very well. I wouldnít say I had SAD because Iím OK during November and December with the Winter Solstice, Christmas and New Year to focus on. January however seems to drag, the weather is always damp cold and uninspiring and Spring always seem a good couple of months away. Iím afraid I donít care what my new 2006 calendar says, January lasts well into February, in fact January lasts until the first hint of Spring, however subtle that hint may be.

So there I was this morning studying away when I heard a sound, like the voice of an old friend returning. No it wasnít the dawn chorus, the first sign of Spring does not necessarily have anything to do with nature, the sound Iím referring to was the din of a radio, some one elseís radio.

But there was something about that sound that put a smile on my face and a tap in my foot, not that I liked the tune (it was Coldplay in case you wondered) but because the fact that I could hear it meant that the weather had improved so slightly that someone had their window open.

Iím not a social animal, I like my own company but every now and then I desire to be reminded that other people exist, without having to converse with them. Thatís what unnerves me about winter, that we leave the house only when we have to, and then we go about our chores at a certain speed and with our heads down, just to get it over with. In Spring we stroll and we linger, often catching a strangerís eye, allowing a smile or a nod to pass our lips. Even when we are at home we hear a muffled tune, or perhaps a burst of laughter and we know that another soul is only a couple of walls away.

So I stood and stretched at the window, trying to decipher where the noise was coming from and just at that moment the sun appeared from behind a cloud and illuminated the window box on the balcony. (That window box that I stopped watering as soon as the weather turned cold, in fact I donít think we have so much as opened the back door since October). Anyway there amongst all the long forgotten, barren sprigs of whatever, stood a solitary sunflower, a diddy sunflower standing at only about ten centimetres tall but a sunflower all the same.

At last, it seems that January has left us.

Posted by purple elephant at 08:21 AM |

February 02, 2006

Wheel of the Year...

We are hitting brick walls with the computer at the moment but I have managed to put up January's Wheel of the Year photos. It took a bit of fiddling and switching hard drives left right and centre but I think it worked OK. I say 'think' because I can't actually view graphics very well on the web, so if anything looks a bit wrong then please let me know. January 1st was a very nasty rainy day around Cambridge so they are all rather dark. I've resisted any temptation to fiddle (even cropping) so that the contrast will be obvious when it comes to those bright Summer days. *ahem*

I did manage to take the next batch yesterday and they are in Boots as we speak, hopefully will be ready at the weekend, so should not be as long this month.

If you want to sign up, do so here.

Posted by purple elephant at 01:03 PM |