Saturday, December 27, 2008

Family Traditions

Over the holidays, families or friends who get together often have a tradition or two. Whether it is Christmas Eve mass, baking cookies together, turkey for the Christmas meal or watching football - holidays are often rooted in tradition.

In my family - we bowl.

Once again, we took to the lanes to win the coveted family trophy. Here Rachel shows us that she has been practicing while the trophy oversees the action.

Bob tries to get a little bowling mojo from the trophy.

Does it work?

I show them how it is done. Strike ball.

In the end, I prevail - high score goes to me. And no, they didn't let me win because I traveled the furthest. Poor Ken hands over the trophy during the official ceremony.

The group smiling (but only one of us with a trophy)

The prized hardware - just waiting for my name to engraved for 2008. Better luck next year Bob.....
And for everyone else, I hope you had a wonderful holiday filled with new and old traditions. Enjoy the season....

Holiday Cheer 3

So it happened again. I tried to stimulate the economy, I tried to buy a nice gift for my brother, but the credit card company had other plans once again. Why do they have to keep turning off my credit card when I'm actually in the store!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday Cheer 2

Funk defeated! I went out with some co-workers last night for a few holiday beverages.

After buying this cheerful drink (raspberry liqueur, cranberry and champagne) and some crazy dancing, it was easy to remember that I'm officially on holiday now. I'm still looking forward to visits with family and friends but with a lot less mental weight and funk. There is more brightness in my forward movement and in my anticipation of a new and unknown year. Happy holidays everyone...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Cheer

I'll admit it. I'm in a bit of a funk. It could be because of work. Or it could be because it is the holidays and I'm in a new place. It shouldn't be that since I've spent the month of December in new places before (Tampa, Chicago, Austin, California...). Maybe it is the lack of holiday decorations in my flat? Hmm.. I'm not sure but seeing as I recognized that I'm in a funk I decided to do something about it.

First stop, off for some Christmas shopping. I had to take a picture of this sign because it once again reminds me of how different the culture here is. These holiday hours are the extended shopping hours. In the U.S., this is your standard opening and closing times. It's nice to see the Brits being so generous to the poor working people who try to squeeze in all their shopping on a lunch hour.

Since fighting the crowds didn't cheer me up, it was time for some holiday baking. Radhika & Jed brought me a surprise package of chocolate chips so I decided to whip those out. Chocolate chip cookies are a rarity here. There is no massive aisle of Chips Ahoy waiting for you at the store. The chocolate chips they do sell - are meant for melting chocolate. So, I was excited to pull out the chips, I got out the laptop for a recipe (cookies from scratch thank you very much), I immediately spilled flour on the counter (I am a kitchen klutz) and poured myself a glass of wine (a necessity for any endeavor in the kitchen these days).

Halfway through and they are looking pretty good!

Sadly, the did not meet my expectations. Maybe not enough sodium bicarbonate? That's what baking soda is called here. The poor guy at the grocery store gave me a strange look when I asked him where it was when I was standing in front of it the whole time. Why can't they just call it baking soda for crying out loud?

Anyway, the cookies don't look the best but they tasted good. Especially since I traded in the glass of wine for a glass of milk. This definitely helped to brighten my mood but what really helped is opening up some Christmas cards. I have to say I am thankful, flattered, impressed and amazed that some of my friends actually mailed me the cards in the UK. Well, you might not think that is much but since it takes effort to actually go the post office (during the holidays no less) and figure out what it takes to send something across the pond, I was most excited. Yeah!

So there, the funk is lessened. And I'm sure it will be truly gone when I'm on a plane off to enjoy food, fun, family and friends in just under a week. But for now, as I toil through another day, I'll keep the funk at bay by using chocolate chip cookies, cards from friends and an 80lb mutt who keeps building a shoe collection on my couch.....

Monday, December 15, 2008

Batter Up!

When I first arrived in the UK (6 months ago!), the company hosted a summer event to review plans, progress, etc. Part of the team building event was to play a few rounds of baseball. Since we finally got the pictures posted this week - and the fact that the weather is cold and gloomy here - I thought I'd share a little summer sunshine. Please do not be blinded by my lily white arms...

Pretty good form, eh? I'm pleased to announce that I hit a triple thank you very much.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Beggar at the Bar

Sorry dear readers, the work monster has reared it's ugly head and I've been a little swamped. However, I have had some great visitors lately and as soon as I steal their pictures, I'll share a bit more of our touring. In the mean time, search the web for a great Christmas tune by the Wombats (a three piece indie band from Liverpool) and laugh at my dog trying to be subtle in his attempt to see if there is any food on the table at the pub.

He's using his Jedi mind tricks... you will give me a treat... oh yes, this is the treat I am looking for...

Happy December!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


With the new move, I think I might be using my brain more. I'm constantly doing math in my head to convert numbers to something I might actually be able to understand. Until I actually can understand what the temperature feels like, I'm always converting from Celsius to Fahrenheit to figure out the temperature. Who knew that 16 was not a temperature to be feared? I now know that Tucker weighs about 34 kg and I think I weigh around 8 stone. Even though we drive in miles, the cyclists all have computers they say how fast we go in kilometers. Or maybe I should say how slow I go?

I sometimes fail in conversions. For example, if one were to be slightly tipsy and want to call their friends to share all sorts of very important information at say, midnight in Italy - it's not as funny when your friends are at work since it is only 3PM in their time zone. How many people get to say someone drunk dialed them during the work day? (hypothetically of course because I personally would NEVER do that...oh no. Although, I am flattered that some of my California friends called me at 6AM on Saturday morning. Thanks so much...yeah, right)

Time zones are not the only place that I've failed with my conversions. After smuggling some liquid Tide in on my last trip home (what can I say, I miss the smell!), I apparently haven't figured out the measurements for the British washing machine. At least my clothes were extra clean.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Big Fur Hats and Necessary Boots

After hosting a Thanksgiving day meal a few days after Thanksgiving (my British co-workers actually had to work on Thursday), I spent some more time touring with the family.

We saw the changing of the guard this week. As my sister-in-law stated 'it was extremely boring'. Per my brother, it was 'filled with ritual and large, unexplained time delays'. It didn't help that it was raining. I just liked the big bear hats.

Speaking of raining, I've invested in a necessary piece of equipment now that I'm living on the British isles. I just had to share my new Wellington boots. a.ka. Crazy Fish. Yeah! I've already taken the dog for a walk to try them out and I must say - I'm liking the dry feet.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Two More Things Off the List

I've got family in town for Thanksgiving so that gave me an excuse to do some more touring. I've checked two more things off the list.

A vist to the London Eye with beautiful views of the city (better pictures when I get them from my brother's camera)

And a trip to the Royal Opera House. We saw a wonderful opera last night with a world famous tenor.
Happy Turkey Day!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What To Do In Winter

The temperature dropped this week and it is quite cold and dark in England. But what can you do -it's winter. As promised, no more biking photos because I'm spending a bit more time inside.

Good friends Rick and Karena came in town and we ventured to the British Museum for the day. I think the Egyptians stole this copy of the Joe Louis fist. (If you've ever been to Detroit or watched a Red Wings game on TV, you'll know what I am talking about)

Does this remind you of any particular four legged mutt?

I liked this piece from a 500+ year old chess set. The Bishop looks like he is stressed to be a part of the game.

Rick, Karena and I finish off the museum tour at a nearby wine bar. After two nights at the pub we thought we'd mix it up a bit. Thanks again for coming to visit! (and look for more cool photos that I am going to steal from Rick's camera after they finish their European vacation)

Amazingly enough, when I took Tucker for a walk this morning, it started to snow. Good thing the Dogloo is built for these conditions.

Since I'd planned on biking today... and now that it is snowing (which I'm sure will turn into freezing rain) I've decided to embrace my winter conditions and relax by the fire. Well, not really - I'll probably hit the gym, grocery store and clean the flat today in anticipation of my Thanksgiving guests. But a nap by the fire will be mandatory today. Whahoo!

Have a wonderful week everyone and a lovely Thanksgiving. Please don't forget to enjoy life and remember family and friends this week. KKC - my thoughts are with you and your family. I'll be remembering your wonderful mother and thinking of you.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Frankfurt and Amsterdam

Sorry for the delay in adventures - I've been swamped with work and work travel. I'm just working on keeping my head above water for the moment so here's what I did recently, but without fun commentary. Lame!

Two weeks ago I traveled to Frankfurt for work. I stayed in this hotel and ate at a very cool restaurant - both sites that did not turn out well on my camera. So, I had to steal the photo from the web instead. Hopefully next time I'll return with the new camera to show great photos of the castle's interior.

I also went to Amseterdam earlier this week. Canals, windmills, lots of people on bicycles and this sign everywhere. (Again, all the photos were at night and just didn't turn out) Would it be a post from me if it didn't refer to alcohol at least once?
I'll be going back to both cities so look for improvement in the future. Don't you just hate it when work gets in the way of your blogging??

Friday, November 14, 2008

Not a Princess

From an earlier post, you might remember my box spring that wouldn't fit down the stairs. I finally got it taken care of and I'm happy to say that I'm back in my fabulous bed!

Umm... but it's kind of high. I know this picture can't really give you a good idea so I created a picture to help. British mattresses are meant to sit directly on the bed frame (think IKEA beds) or, the box spring - or as they call it, the divan - sits directly on the floor. Well, I wasn't about to give up my wrought iron bed frame.

Think 7 inches off the floor with the bed frame

....Then add the divan (about three times the height of my box spring at 13 inches)

....Then add my oversized mattress (about 12 inches)

....Next comes the mattress pad

... sheets


and down comforter!

The finished product! Again, the scale kind of stinks but if you'll notice the mattress is several inches ABOVE the stacked books on the bedside. Okay, so it is funnier in person and I probably shouldn't be showing pictures of my bed but it really is quite hilarious. I could use a step ladder to get into my own bed. Just picture The Princess and the Pea but without the princess.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I had my first official visitors a couple of weeks ago (this means they got to sleep on the spare bed and not on the air mattress!) and wanted to share the fun. Good friends Jed and Radhika left the twins at home and flew all the way over from Madison, WI.

Look kids, Big Ben.. Parliament!

Amazing architecture

Big Ben

Me and Radhika in front of Big Ben and the London Eye

How to dress up a London city block? Use greenery!

Westminster Abbey

The Westminster Abbey courtyard

Jed and I standing in the streaming sun.

Another photo from our visit to Chelsea's stadium (see earlier post)

Windsor Castle

The big hat must be to keep him warm!

Jed and I in front of Windsor Castle

A self portrait of all of us in front of the castle and the Long Walk

And lastly, just a good photo of the three of us from another time - we have been good friends for so long. I can't imagine a time without you. Thanks again to Jed and Radhika for making the trip across the pond.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fun with Fire

November 5th was Guy Fawkes day here in the UK. It's a holiday of sorts (like Valentine's Day is a holiday but you don't get off work for it) where the British celebrate Guy Fawkes' attempt to blow up Parliament in 1606.

The celebrations center around either

1) Large bonfires (as this picture was supposed to depict - sorry, not my camera phone)
2) Burning dummies in effigy
3) Fireworks

The celebrations have been going on for a week with countless firework displays, bonfires and just plane old fun with fire. It's a good thing it is raining this week, I feel for the poor fire firefighters. On my evening walk with Tucker on Wednesday, I passed at least 3 separate backyard bonfire parties. On Friday night, I ventured to a nearby town for a huge bonfire, cold beers, sparklers and fireworks. It was fun - but nothing like the good old Fourth of July....

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pooch at the Pub

In honor of British Sausage Week, the elections and Champions League play (poor Chelsea), Tucker and I went out to the pub last night.
He was one of three dogs joining their masters for a pint and not surprisingly, the least well behaved. I blame the smell of sausages....

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sunrise and Peace In The Mountains

I connected through Colorado on my way back from a trip to the U.S. As usual, not the best photo but I had to share the sunrise over the valley.

To breathe in the clear, cool air has been wonderful.

I also spent time with my wonderful, courageous, amazing friend Holly. The visit was too short but worth the extra logistics.