What have I been up to, you all ask, in desperate need of updates? Well, funny you should ask, because I’ve been keeping on top of the news! And I have no idea what is going on.

Once again (this must be what happens when one only reads political sources; therefore responses to things rather than the originating news story) I have seen reactions to Solyndra, to Fast and Furious (not the movie; I have that much down at least), Liam Fox, the NHS Bill (there was a bill?), and the fact, just generally, that Herman Cain is black. None of what I’ve seen on these topics have struck me as particularly interesting so this is how I have been spending my week:

• iOS 5 Day! Big update! Anyone with an iPhone (or related device) who runs this update can now text anyone else in the world with an iPhone (or related device) who’s also run the update without using an SMS text. This means I can text my cousins in Canada without having to use Facebook as an intermediary. This makes me very happy. There are other exciting things as well, but whatevs. This ain’t no tech blog.

• Cross stitching. Yes, really. I decided I wanted to make something. But I wanted to make something I actually wanted to look at, which pretty much discounts all the options in the embroidery department of any crafts store (Butterflies! Daisies! Quasi-Asian tigers in jungles obviously designed by a very white person in Minnesota who once took an Asian art history course at her community college but feels compellingly drawn to Zen Buddhism!), so I took a picture we took in the Stanford Hills, had Peter take it down to the same resolution as was the blank cross stitch canvas I bought at Joann’s, then get it down to five colours, and then slap a single-pixel grid over it. Voila! I predict this will only take the rest of my life. But so far it’s going gangbusters.

• Skin potions. Last year I started reading Sali Hughes’ beauty column in the Guardian and now I must buy everything she mentions. It’s fun and I have an unnatural attachment to little bottles and jars and things.

• Furniture! Technically this happened last week, but we actually ordered a real, proper, grown-up couch. It is in no way: a) A futon, b) from Ikea, or c) a love seat that was the only thing that would fit in the condo. Besides this thrilling purchase, we’ve ordered a TV bench that is neither: a) from Ikea, or b) there is no b because all our TV benches have always been from Ikea. Truly we have arrived.

• Passport photos. For the first time in my life since I was 14, I have an expired passport. It has taken me since July to get around to getting my photo taken. I am positive it will take less time than that to actually mail the thing off. $110 it costs these days! Plus the $10 for the photos. Honestly.

• Plants. Last week I bought an apple tree with six different types of (semi-dwarf) apples grafted into it and then espaliered laterally. Today after spending entirely too much money on skin potions, I wandered around Stanford Shopping Center taking pictures of the really quite unbelievable floral borders and planters they have, thinking to replicate some of it next to the front door where the hideous juniper once was. I’m quite taken with a large salmon-pink cabbage rose they have, surrounded by zinnias and these little white things I can’t identify (I’m crap at flowers, honestly).

Cooking. I ordered Jamie Oliver’s latest book (30 Minute Meals in the UK, but here, because one of those little pop-chefs on the Food Network wrote a book already called that, it’s been changed to the clunkier Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes. …Honestly. But anyway I love Jamie’s books so I’m excited about this one.

And that’s what’s been occupying my time.