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.