The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.

One of the basic truths of life that flat tires only happen when you have somewhere to be. And the later you are running, the more likely it is to happen.

Which means that, this morning, as I was running 15 minutes late, I had a flat tire. Not only that, but my father "borrowed" my emergency kit from my car a while back, so I don't have a jack. So I had to call AAA, and am now waiting for them to come change my tire.

On the bright side, I have time to post the pumpkin pasties recipe for Michael et al.

Pumpkin Pasties
1 lb. puff pastry dough, thawed
1 c. pumpkin
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. ginger
dash nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
White sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Mix pumpkin with sugar and spices. Roll out pastry sheets until very thin, and cut into 3" squares. Put a small amount (about 1/2 T.) in center of each square and fold over. Seal edges together, wetting with water or egg if needed. Brush tops of each pasty with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 15 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.

Best eaten while watching or reading "Harry Potter". These are also awesome breakfast pastries. Happy Baking!

Hogwarts and all

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful weekend of turkey and family and all that jazz. Mine was fantastic - I laid around and read and slept a lot. My kind of vacation.

Anyway, I went to see "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" last weekend, and have been wanting to post this since then, so here goes. (By the way, the movie was great, of course!)

Top ten things I want from the world of Harry Potter:
1. A Pensieve.
2. A time-turner.
3. An Invisibility Cloak.
4. Chocolate as medicine.
5. A Goblet of Fire, which I would use to find a good guy to date: I wouldn't have to waste my time figuring out who was worth my time. All the guys could put their names in, and the Goblet would spit out the one who is the best match for me. I could even have an Age Line.
6. The Flying Ford Anglia. So much more practical than a broomstick.
7. The Weasley twins, to make me laugh.
8. The "Alohomora" charm, especially when my hands are full and I'm trying to unlock my apartment door. Except I think I would never feel entirely safe. Maybe I'd have to have a whomping willow to plant outside my house.
9. Robes. How comfortable would that be? You'd never have to worry about a fat day.
10. A house elf. Because, duh.

What would y'all want?

A really good celebrity dream

Okay, so it started off not so great. I was renting a house in England from an older couple. It was falling apart, but they said I could paint it and fix it up. So I moved into the attic, which was a tiny bedroom, while I worked on the rest of the place. The best bedroom, downstairs, was large and had several windows, and the attached bathroom had a large garden tub, although it looked like it had been used to dispose of paint. (By the way, yes, I do tend to remember bad dreams in this sort of detail.)

Anyway, I befriended a neighbor, who turned out to be trying to kill me. No fun. He planted a poisonous snake in my firewood pile, with the hopes that I would get bitten when I made a fire in the fireplace in my room. He also filled a cabinet in my room with honeybees, to which I am deathly allergic.

So in my dream, I opened the cabinets, and the bees started chasing me. I ran outside, and who should be there to help, but Clive Owen! Yummy. He killed all the bees for me, and I invited him to stay for dinner, as I had several friends coming over. He offered to make the fire, and got bitten by the snake. By this time several other people, including my evil neighbor, were there. We put him inside on the sofa while we waited for the ambulance. I unknowingly left evil neighbor to watch over him, and when I came back, he was suffocating Clive with a pillow! Fortunately, it wasn't too late, and Clive survived the attack.

Then he confessed his love for me, of course. So it started off pretty bad, but I liked the dream overall!

Previous dreams

I need a new mop.....

because the one I have has been worn out mopping up my drool.
I went to see the new "Pride and Prejudice" over the weekend. Twice, actually. I never really liked the book (I think I read it when I was too young to appreciate it), but am a big fan of the BBC miniseries, Bridget Jones, and Colin Firth in general. (Pictures are from Chatsworth, by the way, which inspired Pemberly, and is where they filmed scenes for this movie.)

Matthew MacFadyen gives him a run for his money, though. I've been a fan of Matthew's since seeing Enigma in London in 2001. He has great screen presence, and an incredibly sexy voice. Then I discovered him on MI-5 (an English TV show, called Spooks there, that comes on A&E here), and have had a little crush ever since.

Now it's developing into a full-blown obsession.

Oh, and the rest of the movie is really good, too. Keira Knightley is turning out to be quite a good actress, and plays Elizabeth Bennett well. She finds the right balance of wit and sympathy, and manages to look ever-so-slightly-less-attractive than the actress playing Jane, the beauty of the family. Donald Sutherland is so endearing as Mr. Bennett. (I hate that the Harry Potter movies only cast Brits - he really should be playing Dumbledore now.) Judi Dench was born to play Lady Catherine. And on and on and on. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the camera-work is fresh without being too edgy for a period piece. The score is perfect - accenting the emotions playing out onscreen without distracting from it.

True, much of the original story is cut out, for reasons of length. Most of the attempts to "modern up" the telling works, so that Austen's prim style is cut through and the passions of the characters shine through. There are a few moments, however, when 21st-century mores are inserted with a heavy hand. But all in all, it's a fun, engaging movie.

This story resonates with every woman who has ever lived, ever. At least to some degree. As my friend Katie pointed out, all of us make snap judgments about people, and it's nice to find out sometimes that people are better than we think they are. And every girl has had a crush on that unattainable man, who we hope will be able to see in us what no one else can, and fall in love with us for it. Jane Austen found a way to make the fantasy come true, but in a way that acknowledges the challenges of such an occurrence, rather than explaining them away or ignoring them. The creators of this adaptation managed to capture perfectly the alchemy of Austen's story.

It's definitely a chick-flick, although any guy who knows what's good for himself will take his girlfriend/wife to see it. And I challenge any straight woman to walk away from it without falling a little bit in love.

An Elijah Moment

I Kings 19:11-13:
11 "Go out and stand before me on the mountain," the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

Saturday night, at our Singles fall retreat, our church’s spiritual life minister spoke on the spiritual disciplines. (My failure to have much, if any, discipline in my life is a topic for another time.) We spent some time practicing the discipline of silence. Scott led us through a meditative exercise, where we visualized the Spirit entering us as we inhaled, and our negative thoughts, sins, and guilt leaving as we exhaled. It actually was very similar to a relaxation exercise my therapist in California did with me. She eventually taped it for me so I could do it at home. I really wish I knew where that tape is.

Anyway, I just couldn’t get into it. The end of the week had been really hard for me. I had been struggling, yet again, with my job/money situation. I had found out some really disturbing news about a good friend. A couple of other friends had shared with me some hard things going on in their lives. Just a whole lot of negativity piled up in one short time. So Saturday evening, I was worn and tired. I tried to imagine that my whole body was “radiant”, as Scott instructed, but I just didn’t have the energy to even visualize it. I prayed and cried silently, grateful I was in the back corner.

I realized that I still don’t trust God. Which is ridiculous, because of everything He has done for me. I’m afraid that He will leave me to deal with the messes in my life, because I have a hard time seeing where He was with me during some of my recent struggles. I’m afraid of feeling that alone and scared again. And I don’t know how to turn those feelings off or around.

During the worship time, I had been somewhat mesmerized by the icicle-style Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling along the wall in the front of the room. All of the other lights had been turned out, so they were a somewhat natural focal point. As we sang a few final songs, and reflected on what we had just done, I cried again. I was just so tired. I wanted nothing more than to go find a quiet place to hide and bawl and sleep for about a month. (Remember that scene in “Forrest Gump”, where Jenny comes back to Greeneville and sleeps like she hasn’t slept for years?)

Looking at the lights again, I saw a rainbow. Just one, from just one light. I don’t know if it was the angle I was at, or what, because the other lights were all white. But the tears in my eyelashes refracted that one beam into many colors, and I remembered God’s promise to Noah and his family. God will never abandon us to devastation. No matter what I think, no matter how I feel, He will not leave me. It doesn’t mean devastation won’t come, in one form or another, but I don’t need to fear it. He will stay with me through the storm, the flood.

That moment, that sight was His still, small voice calling to me through the earthquakes, fires, and winds in my soul. Earthquakes shake things up; fires consume and purify; winds cleanse. And in the end, when it’s just you and God, and nothing and no one else, you can hear him the most clearly. He won’t shout for our attention, but He will get everything else out of the way so we can hear him whisper. The chaos and pain I fear are nothing. God is using this struggle to clear my life out and make more room for Him. I’m trying to learn how to help Him, and not to fight the process.

I woke up this morning still with the same fears and worries, the same knot in my stomach I have come to know so well. But it’s different. It’s not a confidence that these things will go away, or that I don’t have problems, after all. But it’s a knowledge that I can face them. That bad things still suck, but that God is big and strong enough to withstand them, and to carry me through. I know this is a lesson I’ll learn repeatedly throughout life. After all, you can probably go back through this blog’s archives and see regular posts about this very topic. But every time I revisit it, it becomes a little more complete, a little more full, and I remember it just a little bit better. So thanks for bearing with me, and thanks be to God for his mercy and faithfulness.


Friday morning, we got up early and caught a train into London. Maneuvering Michelle's bags around took some creativity, but we got it done. Upon arriving in London, four of our team members took all of the big bags in cabs to the hotel. While they were on queue, I bought the Tube passes for the day. After a quick photo stop at Platform 9 3/4 (we were at King's Cross/St. Pancras), we took the Underground to Bayswater.

I can't tell you what a great feeling it was to get back to my old neighborhood. Has it really been four years since I lived there? It looked pretty much the same, although, of course, some businesses had closed and new ones opened in their places. It was so comforting to walk down my old streets. We checked into the hotel, took a few minutes to freshen up, and headed out for some sightseeing.

The weather was unbelievable. It was probably 70 degrees, and sunny. We got off the Tube at Victoria, and strolled through St. James Park to Buckingham Palace. The queen's standard flying from the roof, along with the snipers, tipped us off that she was at home. While we were taking pictures, some minor royalty (we were told) rode up in a couple of opulent carriages, and disappeared into the Palace. Eventually, once everyone had pictures of everything, we walked up Pall Mall to Trafalgar Square. It being the 200th anniversary of Admiral Lord Nelson's death, the entire square was being set up for a huge gala honoring the Royal Navy. It was unfortunate, because we couldn't take the pictures we wanted, but it was neat to see what they had planned. We climbed the steps up toward the National Gallery, though, and we all got some great shots down Whitehall to Parliament, Big Ben, and the Thames.

We strolled up Charing Cross Road to Leicester Square, and went to Wagamama for lunch. Chili Chicken Ramen. Sigh. When are they ever going to open in the States?

Angie came to London with us, which was a wonderful treat. However, we had not bought her a ticket for Les Miserables, so after lunch, she and Kasey (who had a student ID) and I walked up to the theatre to get her one, while everyone else enjoyed the Square. Did you know Les Mis has moved? I didn't. It had run in the Palace Theatre pretty much since it opened 20 years ago, so I was shocked to see that the Palace was running "The Woman in White", Andrew Lloyd Webber's new show. Fortunately, Les Mis had just moved two blocks down, so it didn't take long to scoot over to that box office. Coming back, we stopped at Haagen Daas before meeting the rest of the group at the small park in the square center.

We caught the Tube, once again, to go to the Tower of London. We bought everyone tickets, and after a few minutes of listening to the yeoman whose tour had just started, we all split off into groups to explore on our own. I've done the Tower a couple of times before, so after hitting the highlights, I was ready to go. I ran into Tracy, who was also ready to head out, and we went to Covent Garden. I wanted to shower before the show that night, and really, really wanted to use the Lush shampoo I love, so we stopped in there before going back to the hotel.

I showered and changed, and most of the rest of the group came back and did the same. After a couple of false starts, we took off for the theatre, and arrived a few minutes late. But it was quite possibly the best production of Les Mis I have seen. (I've seen it 7 times now.) Incredible. After the show, we went out for a group meal at a fabulous Lebanese restaurant called Maroush. The restaurant was just off of Oxford Street, but was far enough that we decided to take cabs over. While we were flagging down taxis, a rickshaw driver came up and propositioned me and Angie. Well, he asked us if he could take us. He was drunk, but really funny and nice. He said he didn't know where the restaurant is (it's new), but that he could find it.

Well, Angie and I got an extensive hour-long tour of Soho and Regent Street. We went to a couple of the wrong Lebanese restaurants. We finally found someone who knew where another location of the restaurant was, back near our hotel, so the rickshaw driver took us back to Oxford Street so we could take a taxi back over. Of course, the first taxi we flagged down knew exactly where it was, and drove us, oh, about five blocks to the place, where we found the rest of our group halfway through the first course, not too worried about us. It was actually a really funny adventure. I think we finally got back to the hotel around 2:00 a.m. and crashed pretty immediately.

The next morning, Amanda, Melody, Angie, and I got up at 8:00 and went to Portobello Road market. I walked them past 1 Princes Square, where Taleen and I lived in the fall of 2001. We also went by Caffe Nero and got coffee. It's a chain, but makes much better coffee than Starbucks et al. Plus, this location (where I got coffee almost every day for four months, as we didn't have a coffee maker) has a downstairs full of leather sofas and overstuffed chairs, where I spent hours and hours studying. It was a huge part of my London experience last time.

We made it to the market, where we spent several hours buying scarves, jewelry, and clothes, and we even took pictures at the Travel Bookshop where they filmed "Notting Hill" (Hugh Grant was definitely a theme of our trip).

We stopped back by the hotel to drop off our purchases, then took off for Covent Garden again. We shopped our way through the market and surrounding streets, and then headed over to Harrod's, where we met Lara and Amanda (who had left us at Portobello Road) for tea. We sat and chatted for a while, then strolled briefly through the store. I picked up some tea and coffee for myself (and some for gifts), and the other girls looked for gifts for family.

We went back to the hotel one more time, where Angie packed up. We met several other members of our group in the hotel lobby, and went to a pub around the corner for dinner and some just social time. Eventually, Angie had to leave to take the last train back to Loughborough. Melody and I rode over to the train station with her, where we said a really sad goodbye, then we went back to the hotel. We packed up our things, and I wandered back upstairs. I arranged cabs for the next morning through the hotel concierge, then spent some time hanging out with some of my friends who had come back from their various nights out.

Tracy, Bart, and Lesley were telling us about seeing Ewan McGregor in "Guys and Dolls" when one of our girls came in in a rush. She was part of the group we had left at the restaurant. Her purse had been stolen while they were sitting around talking. Fortunately, she didn't have her passport in it, so once she got her credit cards cancelled, she only lost some cash and her camera, monetarily. Unfortunately, she had a digital camera, and so all of her pictures from the entire trip disappeared with it. Then another girl realized her camera (not a digital one) had been taken out of her bag at some point. The first girl took out a police report, so once she left for the police station, I went to bed. I hate, hate, hate that that happened, but in reality, that wasn't a bad problem. Compared with all of the problems we could have had, losing some personal effects is not devastating.

The next morning, very much tired but happy, we loaded up into three cabs and drove out to Heathrow. Michelle's bags, which were very large and full, became the joke of the day. While everyone grumbled some, they did it good-naturedly, and I really appreciated everyone's attitude about it. It meant a lot to her for us to bring them back, saving her several hundred dollars in shipping.

It was a long day getting back, but again, the travels went relatively smoothly. No missed flights or anything, anyway.

Coming back to the dead fridge was by far the worst part of the trip. The week was incredible, and while I'm not quite recovered enough to start getting ready for next year, I am so grateful for our experience, and I'm glad we'll get to go back.

Tonight we're having a reunion, complete with hot tea, biscuits, and "The Lady and the Highwayman". Sunday, we'll debrief the trip for the whole church. I'm looking forward to sharing a taste of our fun with everyone else.

© 2006 The World According to Tiff Sniff | Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.
Learn how to make money online | First Aid and Health Information at Medical Health