Recently we discovered Vaughan St. Jazz, a monthly (1st Thursday of the month) event at Mostyn in Llandudno. This month was Matt Owens, performing on double bass along with John Ellis (keyboard), Neil Yates (trumpet), Sam Draper (drums), and Ríoghnach Connolly (vocals and flute). One of my favorite songs of the night was “The Aviators’ Ball,” the title track from Owens’ album:
I also adored Ríoghnach‘s vocals — her voice is captivating, and the last song of the night really caught my attention:
All in all a fabulous show, and I’ll definitely be back to see what other artists Vaughan St. Jazz brings to town.
One of my brilliant coworkers recently taught me how to crochet. I’ve tried in the past and thought it was hopeless, but it turns out I just needed a very patient, careful teacher. Yesterday I finished the first project that she started me on, a dishcloth:
Feeling inspired, I decided to start a new project today. I need a headband or earwarmers to keep me warm as the weather gets chilly — especially since I recently decided to take up running again — so I looked up a good video tutorial. I highly recommend these tutorials if you’re trying to learn:
After dinner I put on a movie, pulled out my crochet hook and yarn, and got to it. By the time the credits were rolling, I was done:
I’m really pleased with the results and with how quickly it came together. I can’t wait to put it to use — and find a new project to work on!
I recently had a free weekend and the sudden urge to make pastry. For the first time. Thanks to Ottolenghi’s cookbook, I had a rough puff pastry recipe and the encouragement that it “isn’t so difficult.” (Thankfully, I hadn’t noticed the slightly less encouraging statement at the start of book: “Cakes and pastries can sometimes go horribly wrong, they are almost impossible to resurrect and they do take time to prepare.”) So I dove in.
Weighing out the dry ingredients
Never thought I’d have a reason to freeze butter! The frozen butter is grated and then mixed gently into a dough.
The dough is rolled out, and more butter is grated to form layers of dough and butter.
The dough is carefully folded around the butter. Still looking pretty rough here.
Final turn! After a series of rolling out, folding, and chilling, the dough is ready for a final rest before being used.
I rolled out half the pastry dough (the other half was saved for other pastries), cut it into strips, and twisted it into straws. They got a sprinkling of cheddar and caraway seeds before going into the oven.
The final product, hot out of the oven and ready to eat!
Nom nom nom, look at those flaky layers!
It was a time-consuming process, but by the end I was thrilled with what I had done. I used half the puff pastry to make Ottolenghi’s cheddar and caraway cheese straws, which were delicious. (The trick is to eat at least half a dozen without contemplating how much butter went into them!) And at the end of the day, I still had the other half of the puff pastry and complete freedom to decide what to do with it. :)
I cut my hair today, on a whim. And by that I mean I was holding the scissors — I didn’t stop by a salon on a whim. :)
My husband thinks I’m crazy for cutting my own hair when there are several salons in our little town. But I like to remind him that haircuts, like so many other fashion things, are so much easier for guys. If a guy knows what lengths he likes on the top and on the sides, it’s almost like ordering a haircut off a menu. But haircuts for women are so different — and can easily go so, so wrong.
I’ve only had one hairdresser who I fully trusted with my hair. When I remind her that I’m no-fuss with my hair (meaning almost always no product, no blow dryer, nothing but brush and air dry) she always gives me a great cut. She knows what works with my fine, fairly thin hair. And she happens to be in my hometown, so every once in a while when I’m in the US visiting family I take a little time to go see her. It’s always worth it.
I’ve had enough hairdressers who didn’t get it — who gave me short cuts that required daily maintenance, or layers that made my hair look even thinner — to make me a bit hesitant to try someone new. Which probably sounds silly when my favorite hairdresser is on another continent. But I also have quite long hair now, with no plans or wishes to change styles dramatically, and so it doesn’t really feel worth the hassle. A trim to take off a few inches can be done in a few minutes in front of the bathroom mirror — it hardly feels worth a whole trip to the salon.
So today I did just that. I took off a few inches, some split ends, and some of the shaping to make my hair fall in a nice blunt line right in the middle of my back. I’m really happy with it, and it took less time to cut it than to write this post about it! The only downside is now I don’t have an excuse to visit my hairdresser during my upcoming trip to the states.
Our town now has an official jester, and I did a double-take when I saw that Dave Pell mentioned it in NextDraft:
+ A Welsh town has appointed its first jester in 700 years. (If he’s successful, he gets promoted to Tweeting.)
Full disclosure: I had no idea it happened until I saw the announcement in our local paper the other day. That said, I guess I’m pretty much required now to go check out his show!