Jul 06 2010

Dozing Or Discovering?

Category: Anna's PhotosChrisM @ 1:13 am
Sleeping Or Seeking? You Decide...

Sleeping Or Seeking? You Decide...

Before I carry on with the videos from our Fourth of July (American Independence Day) meal with Walton and Assel, here we have a picture from just over four months ago – March the 2nd was when the photo was taken. I can’t quite tell whether Anna fell asleep during her meal, after a hard morning’s work, or simply dropped her cheese and was trying to relocate it. Hopefully Irina can come along and clarify things? Anyway, I noticed I had one Anna photo post, and one Anna video left in my drafts area for some reason. I’ll try and crack on with the rest of the UK based ones soon. We haven’t been taking as many here in Astana, so it shouldn’t take as long to catch up with them.

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Jun 21 2010

Irina’s First Time Posting

Category: PersonalIrinaM @ 8:49 pm

My name is Irina. For those who do not know me yet, I am Chris’ wife. Chris has been asking me to write a post for his blog for many, many months. All this time I was either not ready, too busy, worried about my writing skills or simply too lazy. Last week, after we bought and tested the new deep fat fryer, Chris asked me AGAIN if I would like to write a post, and maybe review it on his blog. FINALLY, I decide to give it a go, so please try to contain your excitement, dear readers!!!

Let me start by explaining that both of us are not particularly healthy eaters. Being aware of potential health risks we still allow ourselves to enjoy some naughty food, like chips (or “kartoffel free”, as they are known in this part of the world). Our old deep fat fryer has already had it’s fair share of use and we decided to send it into retirement (as it happens, my Mum decided that it can retire at their house with an occasional use), and buy a new one.

When we finally managed to get to the shop (“Sulpack” in Kenesary St.), despite the hit and miss poor customer service, we were faced, to my surprise, with quite a wide selection of deep fat fryers. As usual, Chris and I had completely different selection criteria in mind and again, as usual, we did not agree on them before we were presented with a choice. I was interested in a compact, easy to clean, good-make fryer. As far as I could tell, Chris was purely interested in the capacity – the bigger, the better! After some typical arguments (I guess all couples go though that, when buying household appliances) about which one to choose, Chris spotted a Tefal Family Oleoclean 1.3Kg fryer. So, we decided to investigate exactly what that model had to offer.

Tefal Family Oleoclean Deep Fat Fryer

It turned out that this particular deep fat fryer comes in two separate major parts: the base (which includes all the electric parts) and a “saucepan” part for the oil and chips. The principle is very close to a cordless kettle. The beauty of this configuration, as we already discovered, is that the “saucepan” part can be thoroughly cleaned without the worry that the electric elements will get wet. It can even be cleaned in a dishwasher if you are lucky enough to have one (we do not have enough space in our kitchen for it 🙁 ). This deep fat fryer also comes with a separate lidded bowl for storing the oil in between uses. I know that many fryers come with some sort of container, but this particular one, although quite big and bulky, has the advantage that the “saucepan” part of the fryer is placed directly on top of it (without the need to turn the fryer upside down, to pour the oil out and subsequently make lots of mess on the kitchen surfaces). The filtered oil slowly drains though a cleverly designed valve, leaving all the impurities in the pan, so they can be easily removed later and the pan can be cleaned thoroughly and frequently without the fear that it will take half of your life to scrub off (especially without the ability to use a metal scrubber or any chemicals) all the dried up oil inside and out. That made me very HAPPY! Now I do not have to be embarrassed and annoyed by the oily and smelly monster that used to sit in the corner of our kitchen. I have to say that, apart from being very easy to clean and operate, the deep fat fryer that we purchased does actually make nice and tasty chips (especially when Chris cooks them!)

So, if you were planning to buy a deep fat fryer and indulge yourself in unhealthy, but tasty food with out the hassle of having to intensively look after your fryer, I can highly recommend the Tefal Family Oleoclean deep fat fryer. Here is a short summery of its pros and cons:

Pros: EASY to clean , easy to operate, filters and drains the oil without creating a mess, hopefully not very smelly (though this one still needs to be confirmed), good capacity.
Cons: a little bit bulky, looks a bit cheap and plastic.

I hope you (the reader) will find this post a little bit useful, if not out right interesting and you (Chris) will be a bit happier that I have written something on your blog 🙂

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Jun 14 2010

Backpacker Anna Eating

Category: Anna's PhotosChrisM @ 10:24 pm

Although Anna could already feed herself by the 24th of February, back then she was still a little bit more messy by the end of the meal. We also don’t tend to need to worry about using bibs with arms any more 🙂
Anyway, still working her way through all her lovely Christmas and Birthday presents, Anna, Gwen and I went for a little walk around the garden, and Anna had her backpack on. The dolly that came with it stayed indoors, perhaps she didn’t think it was warm enough?
Gwen performed her Anna guarding duties well, making sure that no harm came to her. Not quite sure what could go wrong in the back garden, but it was really nice to see Gwen acting protective over Anna.

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Jun 12 2010

QBP Videos

Category: Friends,Kazakhstan,VideosChrisM @ 2:41 am

So, as I mentioned in a tweet, Irina and I were invited to the Queen’s Birthday Party (organised by the British Embassy) on the 10th of June at the Radisson Hotel here in Astana. This was the first QBP since the new ambassador here in Kazakhstan took over.

A short summary would be no speeches (apparently the correct tradition for celebrating HRH’s birthday), a good local band that played a wide variety of covers, free good food (fish and chips in cones again, as well as a buffet (curries, beef kebabs, potato wedges 🙂 ) and free drink. I’ll leave the details of my mishap on the way home until another day.

The following videos were supposed to be uploaded on the night, but I was too drunk TBH. They were then supposed to be transferred via Qik, but once again the program got very tempremental. So, I reverted to YouTube.

I’ve not yet had a chance to actually watch all the videos, but I wanted to post these up tonight, as I’m away from the PC tomorrow for half the day, then giving a lesson and running an English Talking club in the afternoon and evening, then hopefully off to watch the England vs. USA football match during the night.
So it was now or at some random point in the future for embedding these clips.

Oh, and Irina took some proper photos with a real camera, so I’ll try ad post those up soon as well.

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May 07 2010

Compilation Of Videos From B-Day Party

Category: Friends,Kazakhstan,VideosChrisM @ 7:25 pm

As all the videos were taking up the whole front page on this blog, and contained a few dud, four second long accidental recordings, I decided to compile them into a couple of posts instead.
It was a family friend’s birthday party at the Attila restaurant in Astana, and there was food, drink, dancers, music and an MC, as usual.
Oh, the titling of Qik videos (on the site) is totally screwed up again, most of the videos have the title from the previous clip, and virtually all of them lost these (wrong) titles when tweeted. Combine that with the jerky 320×240 video, and you can see why I’m still looking for an alternative Windows Mobile based live video streaming app…

Shots from outside the Attila (as in Attila The Hun) restaurant, here in Astana…

Irina’s Dad toasting the Yuri Constantinovich – the birthday boy 🙂

People dancing

Golka! (People chant this at weddings to encourage the bride and groom to kiss, a little bit like when the priest/vicar says “the groom may now kiss the bride” during a wedding ceremony). This was a reference to when Yuri and his wife got married many years ago.

Here we had an example of Korean dancing from some local enthusiasts (Yuri has Korean heritage, Kazakhstan has a wide mix of nationalities making up it’s population)

His Mum toasts Yuri

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May 03 2010

Chocolate – Apparently The Choice Food Of Evil Doers?

Category: In The MediaChrisM @ 10:17 pm

According to a BBC article, Israel could have a(n even more) difficult job justifying their blockade on Gaza.
Whilst keeping ammunition, rocket fuel or night-sight equipment out of the area could easily be defended by most politicians that were keen on minimizing military supplies (or dual purpose items) flowing to Hamas, the list that was presented following legal action (similar to a UK-style FoI request I believe) displayed how normal everyday items were also being stopped from crossing the border. A few examples? Canned fruit, fruit juice, jam, chocolate are/were all banned at some point, although canned meat and tuna, mineral water, sesame paste, tea and coffee are all fine apparently.
The blockade is aimed at weakening Hamas’ grip/influence in the Gaza strip, however this sort of action merely reinforces the image for many people of a government/system in Israel that is happy to make the lives of ordinary, non-violent Palestinians worse, day by day, which some would argue merely serves Hamas’ propaganda needs, rather than really achieving it’s stated aim.

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Apr 27 2010

Anna’s Birthday Cake

Category: Anna's VideosChrisM @ 5:46 pm

Not much to say with this video, as you may have guessed from the title, it features Anna on her birthday, about to taste her first ever birthday cake. The rest of the year, we’re pretty careful about sugar (and salt) levels in the food she eats (a little more difficult here in Kazakhstan, as the selection is narrower), but for that one day, pretty much anything was allowed 🙂
Anyway, here she is, sat in her highchair (this one is a little seat that you can attach to most normal “adult’s” chairs, and worked out pretty well), having already blown out her candles…

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Apr 25 2010

Bigger Belts Because Of A Birthday?

Category: Friends,PersonalChrisM @ 1:57 pm

This week I had my 31st birthday. We (myself, Irina, her Mum and Anna) went out on Tuesday to a TGI Friday, where I thoroughly enjoyed the custom cocktail, fried & bread-crumbed mozerella, a proper bacon cheeseburger with chips and then a delicious chocolate brownie based dessert. Come Friday we had Walton (Assel was away), JohnA and Inessa, DanD and Lara and all the children from the aforementioned families all come over, the idea being that people would be able to relax and drink a little more with a delayed birthday celebration bringing the “morning after” to a Saturday, instead of a work day. Irina went out and bought a couple of kilograms of good meat, and cooked some beautiful home made burgers and other delicious courses. It was good to see everyone, especially in one place.

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Apr 17 2010

These Boots Are(n’t) Made For Eating

Category: Anna's VideosChrisM @ 12:16 am

Alternative title might be “The introduction of Zimmer Framer to the Russian language”…

This clip was shot on the 18th of February 2010, when we had just got back to Britain. Anna was (and to a point, still is) at the stage where most items of interest need to be tasted at least once. When they are new food items, this isn’t a problem. When they are Anna’s own shoes, this can cause a little concern. Anyway check the video to see Anna tottering around in the kitchen, and the soon to be classic phrase (in Russian) of “Anna, where is your zimmer frame?”.

Just to explain quickly, although Anna quickly found herself happily walking and running around Mum and John’s house, she would sometimes find a large (just about) movable object to push or drag around with her on her travels. In this case, it was a stool that she liked to direct around the kitchen when she was walking. The noise wasn’t exactly the most pleasant to encounter, but the look of joy on her face when she found she could reorder the places of furniture was certainly something to behold…

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Apr 17 2010

Gwen Plays Ball With Anna

Category: Anna's VideosChrisM @ 12:07 am

The 17th of February saw Anna completely at ease with Gwen running around the house, and just as importantly, Gwen feeling brave enough to actually play in the same area as Anna. Having heard of the sort of situation Gwen has found herself in when John’s granddaughter had a birthday party with a few friends in the house, I’m amazed Gwen didn’t hide herself away when Anna turned up on the doorstep!
To anyone concerned with small children/unattended dogs in the house, you can literally take the food out of Gwen’s mouth whilst she is eating, without a whine of protest.

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