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Making The Christmas Pudding Part 2

The day finally came to steam my Christmas Pudding, and the truth would be revealed whether I am facing a culinary disaster never experienced before.

I didn’t follow the method of the pudding recipe exactly as there are various ingredients I just don’t like, and the same for the steaming process too. I know, I am taking a risk as I’m not in any way shape or form a chef.

So, I put butter and flour in some plastic basins I had hanging around. Placed the pudding, that had been sitting in the fridge for a week, into the basins, about 3/4 full. I then put a circle of parchment paper on top, then covered with foil and secured with an elastic band.  We have a large steamer we got from the Chinese store so I used that, it fit 3 small basins. I still have more pudding mix remaining so I will have to find more basins from somewhere and repeat this exercise another day.

The recipe says steam for 4 hours, but I slightly reduced that as I spread the pudding mix over 3 small basins.

I was completely gobsmacked when I tried the pudding, it actually tasted very good. I was stunned. I guess my previous experience with Christmas Pudding, being as hard as a brick, frightened me off making any more. Well, now I have tons of Christmas Pudding that will last me months, and I can make it anytime I want. I am very happy.

By |2019-12-07T16:45:45+00:00December 7th, 2019|Christmas Pudding, Food|0 Comments

Making My Christmas Pudding Part 1

It’s not really in my field of expertise to make my own Christmas Pudding, I have only done it once and that turned out to be rock hard. I am quite happy others making it for me as they can do a better job. However, this year I thought I would be brave and do my own.

I chose a recipe that didn’t include the incredients I dislike the most:

  • Dates
  • Peel
  • Large nuts
  • Beer

Actually the recipe I did choose did contain some of those but I put extra dried fruit or alcohol to compensate.

So Stir Up Sunday, this year on 24th November, was the traditional day to make your pudding. This pudding is in two chunks, stir the incredients, leave for a week, then steam the pudding/s.

Unless I made an error the stirring part was actually incredibly easy.  Mix the dry incredients, add the fruit, stir in the wet stuff. I felt drunk just smelling it, did I put in too much alcohol or is there such a thing as too much?

So, I wait until next Sunday to do the steaming. Below are pictures of my first session.

By |2019-11-26T05:52:57+00:00November 26th, 2019|Christmas Pudding, Food|0 Comments

Christmas Pudding News 2 Nov 2019

Part 2 of my special celebrating the Christmas Pudding.

Christmas In Australia
It seems that Christmas Pudding is just as popular in Australia as it is in the UK. The Australia Day Council of South Australia promotes the Christmas Puddings available from Kytons Bakery in Edwardstown, the ingredients of which are sourced mainly from local resources.
[link to article]

Gloria Estefan
This is the unlikely story of a Gloria Estefan fan who explains when he gave her a gift of a Christmas Pudding.
[link to article]

67 Year Old Steamer
Which device do you steam your Christmas Pudding in? Well, many people just buy one and then cook it in a microwave for as little as 50 seconds. However, someone makes their pudding in a 67-year-old steamer passed down to him by his Mother.
[link to article]

Christmas Pudding Bake Sale
This is not the first, and probably not the last, Christmas Pudding bake sale I’ve heard of. This time in Kitchener, Canada where the Pudding Factory is now in its 71st year as it makes Christmas Puddings to raise money for their Church and local charities.
[link to article]

Christmas Advertising Season Has Begun
Yes, it’s the beginning of November which means companies advertise early to attract customers to buy from them, they are reliant on this time of year for the majority of their sales. Allegedly, a Christmas Pudding features in this advert by very.co.uk, you have to be sharp-eyed to see it.
[link to article]

More Christmas Pudding articles coming soon!

By |2019-11-11T05:29:17+00:00November 11th, 2019|Christmas Pudding|0 Comments

When A Snail Falls in Love

We have just finished watching a Chinese television series called “When A Snail Falls in Love” (如果蜗牛有爱情), which we thoroughly recommend. This is my review.

The Story

A Chinese Detective, Ji Bai, played by actor Wang Kai (王凯) has to train new recruit Xu Xu, played by Olivia Wang (王子文). However, she might be excellent at psychology and profiling but doesn’t have the skillset to work in the field. They both become respectful of each other’s abilities and work together to solve a high profile case which takes them to Myanmar.

Review

The story has everything; action, romance, drama and comedy. There are a number of reasons why I believe this series is really good. It tackles the emotional effects of working the police force. Maybe it’s a Chinese cultural thing but the boss always took the blame for any mistakes of the team. The romantic scenes are touching and the action sequences are gripping. The script is complex but it is explained slowly and fits in well with the overall show. The photography is brilliant whether it’s in old fashioned markets, the docks, the countryside, the train going through Myanmar and more romantic locations. The show tackles issues that I’ve never seen in other Asian shows. On the negative side, I believe there are some parts of the story that are “lost in translation”, we didn’t understand some parts of the show which may have been down to the subtitles we saw.  It is often quite difficult to get a direct translation from Mandarin into English.

Snail Cartoon

Where To See The Show

You can watch the show on Viki, but not available in some locations (ie Canada), or the network has uploaded the show to YouTube where you can view various versions there.

By |2019-11-10T05:51:36+00:00November 10th, 2019|Television|0 Comments

Christmas Pudding News 1 Nov 2019

As many people might be aware I used to author a very popular Christmas Pudding website/blog. Moving away from the UK saw the demise of that blog since it became pretty impossible to access my favourite dessert.

From henceforth, I will write some news when I hear it and later in the year will review the ones I have managed to get hold of. I am tempted to make my own, although I am not a good cook. For now, let’s kick off with some latest news I have heard.

Best Christmas Puddings for 2019
There is always much debate about what the best Christmas Pudding for sale in stores is in a certain year.  Many have the favourite they buy each year; some buy ones with new or alternative recipes; some buy those with more, less or different alcohol content; and some buy the whole lot. Price doesn’t always mean better quality, it depends on your taste. The Daily Mirror lists their favourite.
[link to article]

Mulled Wine Christmas Pudding from Tesco
I always remember Tesco producing basic Christmas Pudding’s but seems they have now branched out. According to Entertainment Daily, and note this could be an advertising feature, the Mulled Wine Christmas Pudding from Tesco is going to be a hit. Actually, it sounds pretty interesting.
[link to article]

Chiltern Brewery Christmas Puddings
The Chiltern Brewery is the oldest independent brewery in the Chiltern Hills and Buckinghamshire area, they offer tours should you ever be in their area, last one for 2019 is on 2 November. They have produced their own Christmas Pudding, called “Lord-Lieutenant’s Christmas Pudding” made from their own Lord Lieutenant’s Cream Porter.  A Porter is a dark style of beer from well-hopped beers made from brown malt, it is original from 19th Century London.  The pudding is available from their online shop.
[link to The Bucks Herald article]

Christmas Pudding for a good cause
Quota International is a worldwide charity that empowers those with speech difficulties in local communities around the world. Quota International Gloucester, in New South Wales, Australia, is running it’s annual fundraising event by making Christmas Puddings. Orders are only taken at the Gloucester Health Foods shop in NSW. What an amazing cause.
[link to Gloucester Advocate article]

More news coming soon!

By |2019-11-01T05:16:39+00:00November 1st, 2019|Christmas Pudding|0 Comments

Ultraman from Netflix Review

Ultraman is one of the most significant brands in Japanese entertainment so I was very intrigued to see the Netflix version of the show, and I wasn’t disappointed.  This is my review.

Who is Ultraman?

I can’t describe Ultraman better than what the Ultraman Wiki has so nicely laid out for us, however, he defends the Earth against aliens and monsters who don’t appear to be in short supply. The Ultraman industry, which started in 1966, even though it is thought that the character is actually 20,000 years old, has generated significant income in the billions. This was the first episode that aired back then:

Ultraman 2019

The new series, commissioned by Netflix, appears to take on a slightly different slant. The “new” Ultraman is the son of the original but also we find there is, in fact, other Ultramen. The 2019 version is more elaborate than it’s originals, probably the most technically stunning that has been produced so far, not the usual format this time of genre from Japan.  This new series has 13 episodes in total.

My Review

Story: The series is really engaging not just from a technical perspective but the story is sound too. It actually reminded me of many super-hero comics rather than a classic Ultraman story with a child growing up to discovering he has super abilities. The part where the new Ultraman is facing tough decisions to destroy evil aliens as told to do against what humanity has taught him to bring people to justice rather than kill them is a good story arc.

Look & Feel: Visually the series is absolutely stunning, I was just amazed by the attention of detail to the artwork which was difficult to find fault with. It really puts all other Ultraman series to shame really, however, I am sure they don’t have the budget to produce this high quality work.

Overall: 13 episodes didn’t feel enough but I am pleased a season 2 has been ordered. I would give it an 8.5/10. I think this is higher than other people have given it.

This is the Netflix trailer:

Ultraman Taiga

Started this year is another Ultraman series called Ultraman Taiga. Not as visually stunning as the show on Netflix but might be worth watching if you are a fan.

By |2019-10-21T23:45:25+00:00October 21st, 2019|Television|0 Comments

UPS Failure

WayfairEvery now and again I will write about good and bad customer service issues, today I’m sharing a story about UPS.

I ordered some furniture from Wayfair Canada. My friends rave about them especially those who work in Real Estate as they feel this is a great method of ordering items to prepare a property for sale. Before I get onto my experience with UPS I will start with the positive about Wayfair:

  1. They have a lot of choice on their website, high end and budget items
  2. Ordering was easy, a few clicks and it was done
  3. Unlike other companies, I wasn’t bombarded with emails after the order was complete
  4. Their customer service is pretty amazing

Wayfair uses different courier companies depending on what you are ordering, for the item I ordered, pictured, they used UPS. This is what Wayfair and myself went through with UPS.

  1. Supposed to deliver on Tuesday 15th October
  2. After waiting at home all day UPS pinged me a tracking update to say my address didn’t exist.
  3. I phoned UPS who had all the correct details. They said they didn’t have a name but seconds later contradicted themselves saying they did have it.
  4. They promised they would re-deliver the item on Thursday 17th October
  5. I called Wayfair to provide feedback at this point, they were kind enough to put me on hold while they contacted UPS. UPS also promised Wayfair the package would be delivered on 17th October.
  6. So 17th October came along, I waited in for a good portion of the day and didn’t see any tracking updates so I called them.
  7. After a challenging 45 minutes on the phone, UPS said they had lost the package and had to “open an investigation”, whatever that means.
  8. I called Wayfair again and they were kind enough to offer me a refund, which I accepted.
  9. I sent UPS a message through their website to ask them to return the package to Wayfair should they ever find it.

I looked up the UPS Depot who should have delivered the item which is in Delta, British Columbia. The reviews on the Yellow Pages website are pretty bad which explains the horror story I’ve been through. When I go to a UPS store for printing or other needs, whether it’s been in Washington DC, Denver CO or Vancouver Canada, the experience has been great, so I’m sad they don’t have the same service levels in their delivery branch.

Sorting this out consumed a lot of my time which was quite draining. Wayfair did everything they can to resolve the issue but UPS performance was obviously out of their control. So I will buy an alternative product at one of the local furniture stores here in the lower mainland. I’m sad as I was looking forward to doing business with Wayfair.

By |2019-10-17T23:27:24+00:00October 17th, 2019|Customer Service|0 Comments

Review of Debut

Debut is a Chinese TV Show that was broadcast, in China, between 7 February 2018 and 14 March 2018, I recently saw this show and here is my review.

The original name of the show is 二分之一美少年, which translated actually means, roughly, “One-Half Beauty Boy” or “One Half of the Beautiful Boy”. The show is produced by Horgos Graphical Media Co Ltd. and Beijing Fast-forward Culture & Art Co Ltd. The show is directed by Xin Juzhen.

As I see it there are two distinct story lines in this show:

  • A manufactured boy band is in training but preparing for their debut in front of the world
  • The lead in the band is in an accident, survives but gets split into two separate bodies sharing the same thoughts. Those two people cannot be awake at the same time, when one is awake the other is asleep. One body is slim and other is overweight.

I would say the genre of the TV show could fall into these categories: Youth, Comedy, Drama, Musical, SciFi, Fantasy. It really does have a mix of everything.

Here are my general thoughts on the show:

  • The script could have been tightened up, but I would say just sit back and enjoy it for what it is.
  • It is a very cute, non-stressful, bubbly show where you more or less like every character, even the ones who are possibly considered nasty.
  • There are some very talented actors and actresses in the cast, the support toles often give more amazing performances than the main ones.
  • Maybe fat shaming is prevalent in China so I do like how it handled those issues. However, the guy who was supposed to be overweight didn’t really seem that way to me. I wasn’t keen on how they kept calling him “fatty”, he has a name.
  • It handled some suggestion of gay relationships pretty well too, there was some hint of that in many episodes, maybe some that would never have made it onto US TV. There was one overly camp bisexual character which was badly done, maybe it was comic relief but it didn’t work.
  • The last two episodes were actually really well done, with some unexpected twists and turns. There was one part of the ending that I didn’t like, relating to the supposed overweight character, you may know what I mean when you watch it.
  • The closing song to every episode is very cute and jolly [YouTube Link], something I kept singing in my mind afterwards. The other songs in the show were good too.

You can watch the show on YouTube, just search for “Debut TV Show”, it’s on 3 separate office Chinese Television accounts, English subtitles provided.

If you want to watch something that is not too taxing on the brain, that is cute and bubbly, then this show is for you. I would give it 7/10.

By |2019-10-02T21:02:04+00:00October 2nd, 2019|Television|0 Comments

What Not To Say on Social Media

What you say on social media can lead to ruining your privacy, reputation and brand. It’s always best to engage brain before hitting “Post” on your device, in other words, “planning”.

Most organizations will have a strategy in planning their social media in advance to coincide with their projects, goals and timelines. Most likely they will go into review by other members of staff including those on the senior leadership team and marketing. It’s helpful to keep this in mind for your own individual posts. If you aren’t careful what you say you could either lose followers or the worst case scenario be your own risk to reputation.

We’ll just dive into what I think people should not post.

  1. You dislike your job
  2. You dislike your boss or work colleagues
  3. You dislike your customers or complain about their looks/ethnicity etc
  4. You dislike your life partner or shame him/her over social media
  5. You dislike your family or shame them over social media, even in conversations they are not a party to
  6. Constantly shame other people over social media (being a troll)
  7. Don’t be an emotional vampire
  8. Don’t provide details of when and where you are going on vacation (tells the world that your property will be empty)
  9. Don’t provide details of your daily schedule (again tells the world that your property will be empty)
  10. Don’t say that you are having an affair
  11. Don’t reveal your financial status, whether you are poor or rich, need or have loans, in serious debt
  12. Don’t reveal or give any clues as to what your usernames and passwords are
  13. Scams about how many followers people can make if they listen to you
  14. Photos of you being too familiar with other people than your partner
  15. If you are going through some legal investigation don’t say anything that might jeopardise that for yourself (friends could let slip about something you have mentioned on Facebook)
  16. Your toilet habits
  17. Medical records or photos of your condition
  18. Extreme views about politics or people ie racism, homophobia.
  19. Photos with documents that users can zoom in to in order to find confidential information about yourself or loved ones
  20. Photos of strangers in embarrassing situations, obtain people’s permission before posting
  21. Post too much on yourself, show you are considerate of others too
  22. Death and other threats
  23. Lies
  24. Steel someones work/data and say it’s your own (always cite your source)
  25. Repeat the same message day after day or constantly retweeting yourself. Always come up with new and exciting stories to keep your visitors engaged.
By |2019-10-01T00:52:09+00:00October 1st, 2019|Social Media, Technology|0 Comments

My Customer Service Approach

Customer ServiceEvery year I appear to have more than one trauma dealing with customer service departments of various companies, mainly blue chip in size. Whenever I approach a company it is for fairly basic and reasonable requests, shouldn’t be out of the ordinary, but they do appear to have many issues dealing with them.

Here is how I have handled customer service queries in the past, these are my expecations on how I should be treated.

  1. Thank the customer for reporting the issue
    Often you can learn something from the customer, about a gap in the product or service levels, as they really are your best asset in finding bugs. So, be thankful, show empathy, apologise, and of course professional.
  2. Timescales
    If the issue cannot be dealt with immediately agree a turnaround time with the customer. A customer doesn’t like to be kept in the dark so it’s also important to continue to touch base with them during the process. I find it useful to have an online system where I can look up ongoing isses and their status.
  3. Deal with the issue
    Either deal with the issue or escalate it to a subject matter expert within the organization, but keep an eye on it to ensure it’s not forgotten.
  4. Sign Off
    Get back to the customer to thank them for reporting the issue and let them know it’s resolved BUT ensure they are happy that it has been sorted.
  5. Product or Service Enhancement
    If there is an error in your product or service ensure that it’s added to a roadmap for a fix, if it can’t be fixed immediately. Getting it fixed will limit other customers having to call in and the bug can be marketed to say your company is on top of product development.
  6. CRM and Data
    Personally, I use a CRM (SuiteCRM) to register all issues for which I can pull of useful data ie 1) reports of open/closed issues, 2) current or past bugs, 3) time spent, and so on.

If I can keep to this basic workflow so can other small businesses and especially larger companies, I don’t think I’m asking for too much.

It’s been another bumper year with bad experiences with customer service departments, which I will be reporting on soon.

By |2019-09-27T23:38:24+00:00September 27th, 2019|Customer Service|0 Comments