Monday, November 30, 2009

Blogging for social interaction

From the time that blogging started out, it really has come a long, long way. At first it was such a niche format, that one had to constantly explain to people what it was. I remember doing that when I started out blogging in 2004. There were so few blogs and many of them were rather technical and IT related. The interesting changes that have happened to blogging over the years is that they have become mainstream and that has led to a vast variety of blogs being written. The bulk of blogs now are personal blogs, where one can share one's thoughts and feelings.

I came across a site called Thoughts.com that offers users a free blog based on exactly this topic. A place to share thoughts and take part in social conversations, a place to interact with a larger community, and a place where one can automatically be updated on one's friends latest posts. You might say that a lot of other sites offer the same thing, but I think the difference here is that they have a lot more control over what information you want or don't want, which is really the key.

So along with the regular posts, there is also a section for users to post breaking news stories and where one can participate in discussions. It's a bit of a combination of blogging, social media sites and viral videos as well. I found their "one love policy" of being respectful to others very nice, since a lot of people find it a great joy to be rude to others while hiding under the anonymous tag.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

recipe: Chocolate Mud Cake

...and here's the cake

I wanted to make something special for the double celebration of my sister's anniversary and our brother-in-law's birthday. I found this recipe that I had saved in my Word files on my computer...for some reason I didn't write the source, and I just can't recall where I got it from. So, if you're the owner of this recipe, thank you so much.

** Edited to add: Ashwin dug up the source and here it is on Katja and Minna's blog Nestled In. **
Edited to add: Katja and Minna closed their blog, so the link is no longer valid.

I loved making it, it's really super simple, and it comes out really rich and dark, even though we don't get any chocolate labeled just "dark chocolate" as one does in the baking section in the US, just as one finds "semisweet" or "bittersweet" chocolates. Here, they are in cocoa percentages, so I selected a 72% dark chocolate for the cake and a 55% dark chocolate for the frosting. Next time, I think I will go for 60-65% for the cake. It's a rich cake in terms of butter as well...I try to stick to cakes that use about 100gms of butter usually, and this was double.



Chocolate (mud) cake Recipe

Dough:
• 200 grams of butter
• 200 grams of dark chocolate
• 4 eggs
• 2 decilitres of sugar…200ml by volume
• 1.5 decilitres of wheat flour….150ml by volume
• 1 tea-spoon of baking powder
• 4 table-spoons of cacao powder (for baking)

Frosting:
• 150 grams of dark chocolate
• 1 decilitres of cream...100ml by volume
• 1 table-spoon of butter

1. Melt the butter in a pot and add chocolate. Mix until the chocolate has entirely melted.
2. Whip the eggs with sugar.
3. Mix the flour, the baking powder and the cacao powder.
4. Add the melted chocolate into the egg foam and mix carefully.
5. Strain the flour into the dough and mix (still, carefully).
6. Pour the dough into a cake tin (that is greased and dredged).
7. Bake about 45 minutes at 175° Celsius.

After the cake is ready, make the frosting.
1. Heat the cream in a pot (don’t let it boil!).
2. Add the butter and the dark chocolate.
3. Stir until the frosting is even.
4. Let the frosting cool for a while and then spread it on the cake.


And then dig in :-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pls don't call me

Don't you just hate it when some calling list gets hold of your number and you start getting bombarded with calls? It drives me nuts, absolutely nuts. Since yesterday, I've been getting calls for everything from life insurance rates to time share sales to AC repair services, and I'm halfway to the point of just changing my number to stop it all. I know, I know, it shouldn't require such dire measures, I should just be able to ask them to take my number of the list etc etc, but it doesn't seem to work like that here. What list, there is no list, there is no way to be unlisted from their list and so on, and then there's the thing of talking to people who barely understand English and trying to decipher what they're actually saying...Oh well, I needed to rant a bit.....feeling better already!

Monday, November 23, 2009

At the Dubai World Championship

We've had a busy weekend watching the Dubai World Championship golf tournament here in Dubai. We went to see them play two days...Day 1 and Day 3 (thursday and saturday) and it was a wonderful, wonderful event. We walked along with my home town golfer Jeev Milkha Singh on holes 17 and 18 and then followed Sergio Garcia and Robert Allenby on holes 14 and 15, before heading to Costa for a break and then heading back home. Other players we got to see up close were Lee Westwood, who eventually won the championship with a huge margin, Ernie Els, Ian Poulter, Henrick Stenson and many more.


Jeev Milkha Singh sizing up his 3rd shot on the 18th hole in Round 3...should have been his 2nd shot, but he duffed his tee shot to the rough on the left.



Spectators around the 13th green, a short par 4, as Sergio Garcia and Robert Allenby approached in Round 3.



Sergio Garcia getting ready to chip onto the green on the 13th green. Round 3



Spectators around the 13th green. This was on Day 1 of the tournament, so there were few crowds.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

which dvd?

Have you switched to bluray DVD's as yet? We haven't and quite frankly I'm quite sick of figuring out which the right direction to go is. I mean, one could invest in one of these players and later on realize that oh well, this technology is not going to be the one that is going to be around after all. The different brands are just making it too confusing for the average consumer, who is not all that interested in the technical details but just wants to watch a good movie at home. Simple as that!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

and on it goes....

As usual the debate continues on what the best way to lose weight is. The other day I was flipping channels and came across a discussion on the best weight loss supplements. Hmmm, information from first hand users I thought, let's see what they have to say! Well, it really wasn't that exciting or informative. Pretty much everyone seemed to have tried several different products and several had overlapped usage, so there really wasn't a definitive answer on what the best one was. Oh well, so that turned out to be a bit of a time-waster!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

winter or spring? I'm confused!



Sometimes it feels like we live in the Southern Hemisphere! As winter nears, it actually feels more like Spring. We have our windows open during the days, the curtains fluttering in the wind, the birds chirping happily outside. The light coming into the house has changed as well....here it is in this shot in the late afternoon...contrasting with the light of the lamp in the bedroom. I love the warmth of this rug...it's one of our few touches of winter in the midst of a spring like feel.

And we started our bbq season last weekend! Several of our neighbors dropped by the see what we were up to and many got ideas of doing some bbq-ing themselves! I didn't take any shots during the bbq...too busy cooking and eating actually! Maybe next time!

traveling to London?

Traveling overseas can be stressful for a lot of people, especially if you're traveling on business and have a ton of things to take care of while you're away, work related and of course the never ending shopping list from home as well! Well, the one thing that can make your life simpler when you're traveling to London is using a car hire service, such as Harmony Cars that specializes in airport shuttles as well as chauffeur car hires.

As someone who has been using a similar service in Dubai for the past 2+ years, I know just how convenient it is. Most people don't bother to even consider the option of a car rental along with a driver, but if you're in a new city it can really make things a lot simpler. You certainly don't end up wasting time driving around looking for addresses, for sure.

From what I've seen of the reviews, Harmony Cars seems to be of the more professional companies that deal in car hire services. Of course, everyone has different experiences, but overall the average user has recommended this company. For one they seem to have a good range of cars available for all kinds of users, business and leisure, so even if you're traveling with kids, you will be able to find a suitable vehicle. Good luck for your travels, and oh by the way, this was a sponsored post!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

list: what? November already!



It's November,

*time to relish the cool breeze and warm sunshine.
*to enjoy sitting outdoors in the evening with chilled glasses of skanjvi.
*to dig out my barbeque recipes, clean the grill and go shopping for bbq feasts.
*to keep the windows open and let the fresh air in and see the curtains flying in the breeze.
*to finalize plans for the winter vacations.
*to enjoy long walks in the park by the creek and lazy strolls on the beach.
* and so much more

time to call the plumber :-(

Oh dear, nothing as tiresome as plumbing problems is there? My landlord is not going to be happy but then it's his job to get these things fixed. Last week, water leaked from the upstairs bath out onto the lamp on the outer wall, right outside our bath and the maintainance chap just can't figure out what's going on. Since the new people upstairs have moved in, there have been a series of problems. I wonder what all changes they have made up there, like did then install a jacuzzi or walk in tubs or some such thing? I do hope that it gets sorted out and that our bath is left intact.