24 March 2011

Old friends are the best..? :)

So I had the absolute pleasure last weekend of being on the receiving end of a visit by an old and dear friend, Beth.

When I think of Beth in high school, I can only recall smart-alec comments, laughing at schoolwork, giggling at boys and generally just an all-around, feel-good, warm-and-fuzzy feel that makes me smile.

When I heard that she was coming to London and able to make time to come to our local Tup to watch a rugby game in an English-filled pub, I was delighted -- yet still somewhat...apprehensive? curious? I'm not even sure of the word.

That is, the last time I saw Beth, we were probably 26-ish...and that's a total guess. Even after seeing her this past weekend, neither one of us was really able to discern the year...or even thereabout.

I mentioned Beth's impending arrival to my co-workers earlier last week. 'I have a friend coming from NY this weekend. I'm quite excited to see her, yet strangely nervous. I've not seen her in what? A decade and a half? What if it's awkward with creepy pauses or uncomfortable giggles? What if we've nothing to say past "I'm living in London. This is Steve and...um...yeah..."'

It had been years (!) since our last giggle 'round my parents kitchen table many moons ago. I think, at that time, I must've been either nowhere near married or recently divorced and she was just returning for a time from China for some family time.

None of my silly thoughts held true. Beth was still Beth -- and the Beth that I always knew.

It reminded me of a time when Anne, my first year college (er, 'uni', as they say in England) roommate once said years after we'd left UNCC, 'I know that we can pick up the phone and chat and it's as though not a moment has passed.'

Perhaps that's how we know our true friends..? The ones who always can retain the memories of days gone by (and the inevitable drunk/crazy/serious (pick one) laughs/cries/talks (pick one) yet still discuss what's going on in the here and now -- and actually care.

Move to the present -- please, Andi!

I spoke with my parents today. (I mainly bored them with wedding chat, but that's beside the point...) As I mentioned Beth's visit to them, they were genuinely pleased. 'You have very good friends, Andi', said my Dad. They're always quick to ask about what's going on with the peeps they've met through the years, Susie, Trish, Laura, Sophisticat, Stacey, etc...

I absolutely do have good friends. Wow. I'm completely lucky that I've had the chance to see a few of them (Casey, Beth(s), Lori, Heather) here in London. I'm ecstatic to think they'd take the time -- and money -- to see me. I'm so lucky (and yes, I do realise how sappy I'm sounding right now) to have friends that I will consider oh-so-important-to-my-death friends from NC and NY...and I'm so lucky that I've fallen into such a wonderful circle of friends here, in London, many through Steve.

So to any of you who do read this: Do know how often I think of you, whether you're in the post code just a mile or three away, or 3459.34 miles (my NY family and friends) or 4002 miles (my NC friends). Thoughts of you all come randomly and sometimes without reason. Maybe it's that I saw a difficult word to spell or maybe I saw a cool article on interior design or maybe I just had a fleeting thought about Pops in the Park or saw something on the rainforests.

[Disclaimer: I'm engaged to an accountant/left-brained kinda guy. I should probably note that the milage listed above is simply an estimation rather than a precise distance...sigh...Love you, baby...hehe]

Perhaps in getting married in a few months I'm pure sap/sop. Nonetheless, I do realise--as I again did this weekend--that we are oh-so-lucky to find friends...TRUE friends in this world, who get us, laugh with us, and are likely to always understand us.

(And PS - Thanks, Stace, for the smile about Liz and what would've been the coolest vino/Liz movie marathon ev-ah. Godfather, anyone?)

16 March 2011

I love it here, but....

As it says on the tin, I love it here in England. I absolutely do. I feel as though I've made a pretty good path thus far.


There are times, whilst few and far between times, in fact, where I wonder about what would happen were I to need to return -- immediately. That is, I can recall a time not too long ago, when I was living in Charlotte and received the awful, awful news that my maternal grandmother ('Omi') had passed.

Unlike now, I knew then that I could drive home. I called the airlines and learned that flights were nearly $1k. Yikes. And this was back in 1999? 2000? It was much more than my then $30k salary would allow. I could drive the lil' Honda del Sol home, I figured. Yes, it would make it. It was about six years old, but not many miles. I could be home in 12 hours if I sped...and didn't get caught.

Now it's completely different. I can't drive home, even if I had a car and could actually drive safely in this county with its left-hand side and roundabouts. Yikes. It's a no. I can only fly back.

Then it moves to cost. Sadly, most things in life move to cost. Sigh.

Then I realise that I'm at the mercy of the airlines. Yeesh. After trying to find cheap[ish?] flights for Yanks to take for our upcoming wedding, I recently learned that such high expense costs can hinder travel.

Steve found last minute flights to NYC for under £350. That'd be fab, but one never knows when one might need to go home. I wonder if, like flights to our wedding, we'd not be able to find much below $1200. And (times two) that's more than we have saved in our everyday disposable income with wedding costs. Which leads it to this...

Should one ditch a wedding that's planned in order to cover costs for family stuffs? It seems an obvious argument, methinks. Family always matters more than a party (which can, invariably, be conducted at another time).

Or...does it...just maybe...possibly?...make sense to save, save, save like crazy now, as my father has always taught us, to have not only three months of living expenses in one's pocket ready to go, but also such unexpected costs (e.g., two flights home to NY).

Ahh, how well my parents have always taught me.

21 February 2011

Wedding update -- and Larry the Cat news

Wedding update

Steve and I have been rapidly movin' along on the wedding plans (with muchos gracias to family for their input and help!). Thus far we've:
  • Secured the venue and registrar
  • Created, printed and sent out save-the-date magnets (a newer tradition here in England)
  • Created the wedding website
  • Bought the dress
  • Ordered our wedding cupcakes
  • Chosen our photographer
  • Picked out the beginning parts for the centrepieces
  • Returned our COA (requesting permission to marry from the UK Border Agency -- I'm an immigrant!)
We've done some research and are nearing decisions on:
  • Steve's 'wedding wear/ware'
  • Invitations
  • Favours
  • DJ / music
  • Finalising the centrepieces and other flowers
  • Honeymoon (Maldives, anyone?)

That said...

What in the world are we forgetting? I keep thinking that there will be this horrific surprise -- and not in a good way -- two days before the day that we've forgotten something uber-major. Sigh. Any thoughts, let me know!

I'm shocked

I've been truly shocked by some of the response that we've already gotten, including the Yank folks who've expressed their hope/intentions to come. How incredibly kind they are; we're absolutely overwhelmed.

I do know that it's the one real opportunity we have for both of our families and friends to meet. And I know how much family and friends mean to both of us. Therefore (by syllogism, methinks?) our wedding day will mean a lot to us...That didn't come out quite right. I know it'll be an important day for us, of course! I just didn't want that to come out in such a selfish-sounding way. (winks)

//End wedding rant

On Saturday, Steve and I wandered down to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. Whilst we were considering a friend for Star, I think we'll sadly have to put that thought to rest for awhile. She probably would have loved a doggie or putty brother, though...

I had given Steve pre-warning that I'd start crying at some point during the 'tour' of the animals. I always do, as it breaks my heart to see their sad-and-soulful-yet-still-trusting lil' eyes looking up at me; I just want to take 'em all home. Sigh. Perhaps one day I'll open a place just as good as Tri-County Animal Shelter -- from whence came our lil' StarBar.

Larry the #10 Downing Cat

Onward with the animal talk! For those of you who may not have yet met Larry the cat...

Larry was selected from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home to tackle the rodent problem on Downing Street. It seems during a recent televised report, a big ol' rat scurried past Mr. Prime Minister's front door -- yikes!

Following his arrival at his new home, Larry had the opportunity to meet -- and scratch -- the reporter who'd given the story in which the aforementioned rat ran past the camera's lens.

Even with his little scratchy-scratch, Larry has a heckuva fan club. From multiple Facebook pages, to half-page Whiskas adverts in several newspapers, to even a (really funny) Twitter feed, Larry is the new political mascot over here.

Larry is now even giving weekly political video wrap-ups from the head house. Awesome. This would make me want to watch political news.

11 February 2011

I'm getting married!

Wow. So it's been too long since I've posted (and yes, mon sweet Premier folks, I'm trying to come back! winks)...

Steve and I are getting married on 19th August and I'm going to be oh-so-bridezilla-ish and start writing again to record all of this.


Thus far, since his fab proposal...oh, which must be noted...wait...a few moments back in time, please:
It was his birthday. We went out with his family for dinner and the Tottenham Spurs game. Thankfully, they won and upon returning back to ColliWood, I got the gift: a proposal. (Here I thought he was going to get a pack of crisps...who woulda thunk it? winks). Ah, it was all a girl could've asked for: sweet words, a beautiful ring and the most fabulous of husbands-to-be. Wow. How lucky I am.
Ok, back to now...

Wedding plans

Since then, we've:
Now, with all of that, we're near set-to-go. Wow. This is the happiest I've been in my life...Ever. I get it now; that happiness that everyone always talks about when meeting 'the one'. Who knew?

Crap tv

So now that I'm nearing upon the time where I marry the most wonderful man in the world, I find I get a bit sappy. Kerry-Ann agrees with me on this. They're getting married next week, in fact. When we were out two weeks ago, she mentioned, 'I don't know...I keep getting tear-y on all sorts of things. Greg mentions something sweet or my mom talks about the wedding plans and all of a sudden I start tearing up.'
Yup. I get it. I'm doing the same.
I've learned that when it's the right person, we do get a bit sappy. It took me watching a few crappy episodes of 'Hitched or ditched' to get this.
In this reality show, couples are faced with the wedding of a lifetime, though they have to confront the realities of their relationships first -- whether it's that family/friends don't support them, or there are interracial issues, or...well, whatever may be in the way of it being perfect.
I found myself tearing up over their situations, but moreso, that we don't have any of those situations with which to deal. I'm such a lucky girl.
My family supports us. His family supports us. Our friends have never seen us happier.
I'm truly the luckiest girl in the world.

Next up?

I can only pray that, like the family in 'Hitched or ditched', I get surprised and my family is all there to see this all. I've spent so many tears over it (which my amazing husband-to-be has wiped away). I know that it's my decision to marry far away. I realise that not everyone can be here. I do understand that it's a lot of time and money. I wish I could make it easier on everyone. Sigh. I guess that's what happens when you marry in a different country.
There are so many people in the world that one cares about when something so life-changing occurs. I guess I wish that all of the ones I care about would be here...even if it's far away. Awww...


If any of you Yank folks are going to be here for this (c'mon -- I need a few peeps who tawk like me he-ah!), do know you're welcome to join the wedding festivities. Um...I just need a heads up. (winks)

25 July 2010

Sometimes it takes a weekend of occurrences to make one blog again...

It’s Sunday evening. Steve and I are sitting at his flat, enjoying a glass of rioja. He turns to me and says, ‘It’s been a really enjoyable weekend.’

I agree, though we both make the concession that the weekend started at 6pm on Friday – not a moment before.

Friday morning started out with a bang. I should’ve known that things were going to be a bit...flurried even with the opening events: I awoke feeling a bit fuzzy – and late—after our work celebration do for Mandie’s 40tth (go, girl!) and then upon taking Star out that morning, I accidentally dropped my set of keys in her...morning droppings. Good times. Great way to start. Let’s remember that bad things happen in threes; I’d found two thus far.

I arrived at work where, upon checking my email, I’d received a note from my previous leasing agent who told me to call.

‘Um...Andrea? There are officers breaking into your flat and they’re going to take your dog,’ he said.

Wait...what?!? It seems that dear Star had gotten out onto the ledge again. They had to rescue her. However, I had no idea where they were to take her, nor how I could get her back. My dear CSJ friend, Lewis, said that he’d take over my mobile number to them to call me and let me know.

Frantically, I called Steve. He was fab. He called Metro Police and soon learned that they were likely taking her to Wimbledon Police Station. Freaked out and near-hysterical, I left work and grabbed a train from Waterloo to Wimbledon, where I hoped I’d be able to facilitate the process and get my dear puppy back home. Steve said he’d meet me there as quickly as possible. What an absolute love – and just what I needed.

Arrival at Wimbledon Police Station

This is fun...I arrive at the station and find three chavs in the waiting room. It was obvious that they’d been there before. I await my turn, speak to the receptionist officer and have the following exchange.

(Note: It must be said that my speech may have been slurred by tears running down my face and sniffles.)

Me: I’m here to pick up my dog. Officers broke into my flat and took her out of there. I think they brought her here. (Again, I think my sniffly speech may have been misunderstood here.)
Her: Ok. Was it an arrest? An eviction?
Me: (thinking she’s speaking in cop-talk) Um...I don’t know what you mean. She was on a window ledge and they rescued her. I was told that she was probably here.
Her: Well, she’s probably not here. She’s probably at hospital.
Me: At hospital? But...but why?
Her: Well, if someone is on a ledge about to jump, they would typically take her to hospital for mental health assessment.
Me: But it’s my dog!

Ah, there’s the laugh. Star would likely not pass any mental health assessment.

Long story short[ish] – The sergeant took me home in a cop car. (How humiliating.) He wanted to take his officers back from watching my now-open door. I’d have to wait until RSPCA called me to assess the situation.

Am I a horrid mom...er, mum?

Steve returned and called the number they’d given with the case assignment. He got much further than I ever could, that’s for sure. He was calm, even-voiced and rational – definitely not where I was. Nonetheless, the RSPCA guy called us back and said he’d come by to interview me in the next hour. Steve went back to work, giving me a kiss and telling me to keep him informed of his ‘two favourite girls’.

The RSPCA guy came. He was easy going, considerate and had kind eyes. His final report was that no, there wasn’t anything that I could’ve done to prevent it; it was just an unfortunate accident. He even went above and beyond to offer me a ride back to the police station and called in to advise that they should release Star back to me. It was all going to be ok.

Home sweet home...with a broken leash

Star and I took a much-needed long, long walk back from Wimbledon. After all of that angst, hunger started to rumble in my tummy. I stopped at Burger King, where I tied Star up to a nearby tree. I pulled out cash, waited outside until there was no queue, then sprinted inside to order. I half-threw the cashier my cash and said I’d be outside for a second. All in all, this experience took about 1.67 minutes. However, before I could get back outside to Star, ahh...there she was. She actually pranced into BK, looking for me, having chewed through her leash in two places. She’s baaaaaack.

A breath of air...and good friends

Steve came by after work for just a moment and then had to be down at Mama Rosa’s for a pre-Mel-Jen-and-Chris-wedding usher party. I followed later to meet them, definitely needing a glass of vino after the day I’d had.

I learned very quickly that good friends can always make whatever keys-in-crap day turn ‘round. We had a lovely, lovely time having a few drinks and just having a chance to...breathe. It sounds so cliché, I admit, but I realised as we sat next to the river Wandle in the late sunlight that awesome friends are so hard to find. I’ve been so lucky to find the ones that I’ve found her (ok, albeit through Steve...winks).

I’m an incredibly lucky girl: I’ve gotten to move to one of the best places in the world (thanks to the love and support of my family!); I’ve found the most amazing guy in the world (thanks, honey – you’re the best!) and I’ve gotten to meet some of the biggest-hearted people ever (thanks, guys – you all rock!).

Saturday – the morning of errands

Saturday mornings when I was a kid were always spent accompanying my dad on errands. We’d pick up the dry cleaning, where they always knew him, and run to the drug store or supermarket or whatever. I think I’d always prefer running errands to say...cleaning the toilet. (winks)

Steve went to Bromley for a final ushers’ fitting. (He looks fab in the suit and top hat, may I add.) I found the hair stylist that I can finally call my own. Hooray! Here’s another great exchange from that appointment:

Me: Aww! My hair is so shiny and so straight! I can never get it to do that! (Long, heavy sigh)
Him: Well, if you could do that, I’d be out of a job.


Trusting Star to ‘do the right thing’

We met back up at my flat and then gathered our stuff to go to Steve’s parents’ house. Steve felt strongly that we should bring Star to his parents’ house. Admittedly, I feared. I feared big time.
We gave her a big talking-to, setting the expectations and the scope of the excursion. Yeah, I think she understood.

She was a bit nervous on the bus to Wimbledon. She was quite fine on the train to Clapham Junction. She wasn’t so pleased, however, about waiting on the walkway between platforms at Clapham Junction. One train pulled in, another was soon to pull out. Many, many people were running to make the train. Yeah, it drove Star mad. Hehe...

We arrive in Horley relatively unscathed...even our fellow passengers were, too. Good thing, as there were about 19 people I thought she’d try to bite. She didn’t, though. Good, Star!

Dinner at the rents’

We had a lovely time at Char’s and Greg’s. Star was fine meeting them and felt instantly calm with Char. With Greg, there was one bark or two and she was fine again. It was nice to spend time with them, having not seen them for about a month or so.

We relaxed in the sitting room, chatting with The Incredibles in the background. (Funny how a Pixar movie can pull adults in that much...) It was nice and relaxing and just what I needed with the previous day’s uber-events.

Bill and Debbie came over soon later. I realised that Star needs to meet new people who aren’t too fussed about her. Debbie chatted with Char, Bill with Greg and Steve. Star came in from her spa-retreat backyard and was fine with them. This was going well, I thought.

Greg made a fab dinner for all of us – teriyaki-type noodles with salmon. (Ok, it must be said here that they were so considerate that I didn’t have salmon. Y’know, as I’m so ‘severely handicapped’ and don’t like seafood, they were kind enough to prepare me the tastiest of tasty rare steaks. Two words: yum-mee.)

We had only one real bark that evening. Bill, upon returning from the toilet, did a funny dance at the doorway to the sitting room. Yeah, that tweaked out Star and she barked. Debbie's remark? 'Good thing you went to the bathroom first.' Hehe.

For dessert we had awesome peach cobbler that Char made...er, wait. It’s a ‘pudding’ here, not cobbler...Anywho, it was really yummy and when I told Char that I want to make it again, she showed me the recipe. Rock on: four ingredients and six steps. Recreated here for those of you who want the Waitrose recipe. Seriously yum, and here’s the best part – can be served warm or cold. Love that.

Peach pudding recipe

4 peaches halved and stoned
8 amaretti biscuits crushed
4 tblsp mascarpone
2 tblsp brandy or OJ
200 degree (Celsius – not Fahrenheit!) oven preheated.
  • Arranged halved peaches cut side up in shallow baking dish.
  • Mix biscuits and marscapone.
  • Spoon into cavity of peaches and sprinkle with OJ/brandy.
  • Cook 15-20 minutes until tender.
  • Serve warm or cold with vanilla ice cream.
Voila! Fab-tasty dessert for all. And, unlike zabaglione, doesn’t require mucho prep whilst the guests are there. Definitely one to save.


It’s a bit later on Sunday night. Please, please, please – let’s all cross our fingers and say a prayer for a much quieter week this week, eh? (winks)
But on a good note, I'm teaching Steve 'rainbow eyes' on this side of the pond. During dinner at Nando's tonight, he nearly almost had it...I'll continue the training, though.

06 April 2010

Is she alive or dead? It's been since NYE!

Yup...I've been overtaken by that thing called 'life.'

I'm enjoying my new Londres world so much; I can hardly believe I've been here for (gulp) seven months already. Whew...

Let's see...How can I sum up the past 3-1/2 months in a nutshell?

Steve left for New Zealand in February. The night before his departure we had the most lovely night in the world. He treated me to a fab dinner at Quaglino's and then on to see The 39 Steps at The Criterion, which I'd wanted to see since I'd heard it was here. It was fab...He's an awesome beau!

Steve goes to NZ...

He left the next morning. I was sad. His uber-fun mom, Charmian, invited me to her house that Sunday for a roast dinner and some chat time. We giggled all throughout the afternoon, even forgetting that we'd left the crackling in the oven. Darn -- that's one of the best parts of a roast din (save for my fave Yorkshire puddings, of course!).

At about 3 p.m. that aft, Steve's dad, Greg, came by. It was time to go to celebrate Granny Cust's 88th birthday with tea and cakes at this gorgeous place right near them, Langshott Manor. It was a beautiful, 16th century manor with amazing stained glass windows and the most English of gardens. Wow.

It was so incredibly kind of them to invite me and his cousin, Imogen, even said, 'Are you now replacing Steve at family gatherings? I like that...' hehe...

Nonetheless, it was still very hard to be apart for three weeks and Steve cut his trip short to return back on Valentine's Day...He'd arranged for wine and flowers to be delivered to me at work for the holiday, but he was the best present I could've gotten. Aww.

Valentine's Day

Funny story: Steve had sent me wine and flowers to work. He knows I detest roses (for reasons I won't go into here...suffice it to say, my ol' Premier coworkers sure know why). When the girls yelled for me to come into the hall, I saw a vase filled with a dozen red roses. I was absolutely floored. 'Why the heck would he send me roses? He knows I hate roses!'

A moment later, the flower guy came back with another arrangement of wild flowers with a bottle of wine -- addressed to my coworker, Vicky. 'No, no!' I yelled. 'Those are mine. I'm sure of it! They just mixed up the cards.' hehe...Yup. She did have to check with her hubby, but yup...I was right. (winks)

Anywho, we won't bother with any more about cutting the trip short...

Field trip to Horsham!

On a grey-ish, rainy-ish Saturday (I know, I know -- hard to believe in England) Steve and I hopped the train up to Horsham for a field trip with his mom. Charmian had grown up there and I'd been there once before. It's a really charming town, very English and just...super quaint. At the risk of sounding like a total Yank girl for saying that, it truly was.

We wandered 'round the village, stopping into a kitchen-y/cook shop, a cheapy shop (I love those), a few other places and of course the village pub for a coffee. Some things still just floor me...There was a place I suppose akin to a Home Depot design center only teeny-tiny and selling just pricey stoves. These Aga stoves...er, cookers are 'cast-iron, gas-fueled, enamel-glazed cooking stove that uses non-drying radiant heat to gently cook food.' These guys start at about £5k. Whoa. Seriously? Upon further inspection, it appears one can buy them in the States -- in Charlotte, in fact. Have I been missing out on these all my life?

Steve's aunt and uncle have one in their house. It was the coolest thing to see at Christmastime when I was there. Talk about feeling ol' skool English. All I needed was Tiny Tim in the corner spouting out a 'God bless us, every one!'

Anywho, we had a fab time together. Steve even was able to pick up 'sticks' for the red vase he'd bought for his kitchen. I love that: sticks. I'd say 'decorative twigs' but y'know...que sera, sera...hehe...Steve also picked up a [reallllly heavy-what's-it-made-of-iron?!] bowl to be filled with pinecones and the like.

We three giggled our way around a craft shop, too. Char thought she'd make up some picture frame/art for Steve's place like we'd seen in a mall that day. We started playing with ribbons and wires and could barely keep Steve away from the model airplane section. hehe...

View the Flickr stream.

Maz's birthday

Although I'm going in non-chronological order (ahh, seems the story of my life...hehe), I must include some fun from Maz's birthday celebration 30 January.

Maz had sent 'round an e-mail asking all of us for input on restaurant preferences. We all agreed that an English place, Tryst, sounded nice and was in walking distance of Maz and Jon's house.

Dinner was lovely. They sat us in the front window 'round a large table. As we inspected the menu, a few of us wrinkled our foreheads in confusion. 'Um...hon?' I whispered to Steve, 'Is "monkey gland sauce" an English thing?'

Rest assured, it's neither an English thing nor a monkey thing...heck, nor even a gland thing for that matter. It's a South African curry/spicy barbeque-like sauce for steaks. Whew. Thank goodness!

I learned a few more things that night, as I always tend to do in this country. First, that I'm um...'severely handicapped' for not liking seafood...(giggle -- thanks, Greg! hehe). Second, I learned the phrase 'suffer fools gladly,' which I must admit I've heard before...likely in a novel in my British novels 1870-1920 class in college; I don't think I've ever actually heard someone use the phrase. I like it, though... I think it's one we must bring back to our lil' everyday expressions. I think the same thing about the word 'cepaceous' too, but...

After our scrumptious dinner and vino, we went to the nearby pub to for some later-laughs, pool, and chat. Steve played both of his 'rents in billiards (his mom was thisclose to winning!). It was such a lovely time, and again, I felt so lucky to be invited...Aww. They're too kind!

View the Flickr steam.

My birthday

Aww...So with my Steve back in London with me, I had a fab birthday. He, with the help of Greg, arranged for a fun-fun eve in Tooting at The Tramshed. I have to say: I have some of the most kindest, wonderfulest friends in this town ev-ah.

Kerry-Ann, although ill that night (poor lil' thing!) had sent Greg in with a yummy gift for me -- American cupcakes. Truth be told, I'm not sure what the distinction is exactly, but these were the kind with that cream cheese-y frosting rather than the sugar frosting. They were beautiful and I shared, even though I wanted to eat 'em all for myself! hehe...

Mel-Jen and Chris were there, too. Mel-Jen looked positively model-esque, having had her hair all done that day. Talk about dolled-up. I think Chris hardly blinked all eve. hehe...

Maz and Jon were kind enough to make the long trip to Tooting, even though they'd just arrived home from NZ but a day or so prior...same with Tree and Sean.

Anton and Rob were there, adding to the laughs, too. We even had a few Tup regulars join, just out of coincidence. Interesting times, these are.

In any case, I felt like a lil' princess...Steve had picked up a pink balloon and a super-sweet card. Awww. It was a wonderful, wonderful birthday...until, that is, I came home and found that Star had had her own party --in the garbage. Argh.

View the Flickr stream.

Trip to York

My darling Steve took me to York for my birthday. The pics probably tell the story better than I could...
The pics are posted on Facebook...(giggle -- and thanks, Beth! I'm sure Steve will love that comment that he's hot. hehe...He is, isn't he? Awww... //blushes)

However, I do have to include the YouTube vid that I took. I do love how Steve and I can act like we're absolute boneheads. Whilst walking through the city, there was this awesome street band. With a rather large crowd. All around.

I talked Steve into doing a jig in the middle of the circle. Love it...
Although it's only seconds long (it was on my 2006-era camera), it kills me every time I watch it...
Watch the video.

Chartwell: Winston's home

Steve and I popped on up to hang with Char on another Saturday. She'd planned for us to go to Chartwell, the private home of Winston Churchill. It was a sunny day (albeit a bit muddy!) and the grounds were really nice.

Now here are some things I never knew about Mr. Churchill:
1.) He was Prime Minister not once, but twice. Really? Who knew?
2.) He possessed a keen talent in painting, and took lessons from accomplished artists. It was his way of chillaxin'. Rock on. His canvases were really cool.
3.) That he was part of the Blenheim Palace family. I've been there. Talk about having some scratch...er, pound-a-roonies...

The house was really interesting, filled with books and art of the era. The breakfast room really took my breath away for some reason. It was filled with sunshine and opened up to a lawn. Wow. I'd liked to have dance-dance-danced across the yard after a croquet game in that place. Yeah, I suppose I got a bit carried away with my imagination.

Super funny: There was a guy near us at one point talking about the peculiarities of Americans...specifically, he'd mentioned Texans and NYers. Char and I giggled over that one...hehe...I'll just leave it at that... (winks)

View the Flickr stream.

08 February 2010

Finally! A blog post!

I have been the world's worst at updating here and have been receiving -- ahem! -- nudges to do so...
In order to try to fix my wrongdoings, I will create headers, and you can scan to the areas as you wish. (winks)

New Year's Eve

Ok, I'm going a bit back in time here, but suffice it to say, New Year's was fabulous. Steve and I went to Maz and John's, for a relaxed evening with them and another couple, Tom and Abbey. It was just as I'd wanted.
I'd rushed around a bit the day of, trying to make a breakfast strada (mom's recipe which clearly stated to use at least two layers, lest one risk a soggy morning treat), dyeing my hair (which came out a bit too red than I'd have liked), running the dog (as she'd have to await my return in the hungover morning) and wrapping a last minute hostess gift. Whew. So much to do, so little time.

Nonetheless, the night was positively lovely. Maz and John made a fabulous roast dinner, we giggled all night, even played some Wii -- as everyone ought to on NYE, in accord with those exercise resolutions.

What was so different this year was the fact that instead of watching Dick Clarke's Rockin' New Year, televised from Times Square, with the ball dropping and the drunks galore, was that I was watching a similar site -- um...but minus the Times Square and plus a Big Ben.
Admittedly, there's something oh-so-romantic and fab for an Anglophile like me to hear Big Ben chiming away at midnight. Admittedly, just like Times Square, I'd not want to actually be there, I'd just like to see it on tv, enjoying it in a warm home, with vino and very fun peeps all around me -- just as it was.

Borough Market

Now, it must be said that I love food. I love eating. I love cooking. I love pawing through recipe books 'as though they were novels,' as Mom would say. (Ah, she and I are exactly the same!) I have learned, quite sadly, that my cooking is not like it was back home. That is, I realise full-well that I'm not a chef, but I used to cook reallllly well when at home. I could make any dinner and even a first attempt yielded something not only edible, but actually --gasp! -- tasty!

I'm not sure if it's a measurement thing, a temperature thing, or the fact that everything tastes slightly, if not more, different here (e.g. sour cream, butter, beef -- the staples). I could've been smart and realised, as Steve's mom easily pointed out, 'Are you cooking American recipes or English ones?' Oh. Right.

With one easygoing question, I think I had an epiphany: my States-side recipes aren't going to taste the same here and even more so, I nearly wonder if my palette has changed -- if even slightly -- in the few months since I've arrived. (Ok, ok, I'll always have a palette for 'dirty Mexican' food -- oh, yum!) but I think Charmian is exactly right: I need to expand my culinary horizons, and this adventure is exactly what I needed to do for that.

With that in mind, Steve and I went to my favorite-of-favorite places, Borough Market. It's a foodie's dream. And on a Saturday, one can find millions of like-minded foodies wandering around, trying 'drunk cheese' (that is, aged in wine -- and the red wine one was amazing, by the way), perusing the stalls with plucked geese and local game and being astounded by the squid, seafood and enormous fish, as though we were in Japan.

We tubed on down to Borough one cold Saturday, had a spot of lunch from a Greek stand with grilled halloumi cheese (which smelled like tires -- or tyres) yet amazing lamb burgers. Get on. It was awesome. Eating fab food in the shadow of the historic Southwark

Cathedral? Ah, it doesn't get much better than that...then we wandered into a local stall that sold pork, beef, chicken, eggs...everything from the local counties.

Feeling brave, we decided to pick up a lovely lamb roast. Yum. We asked the guy behind the counter how to cook it, but didn't really understand the response. No matter, Steve said he'd take care of it...and take care of it he did.

We roasted the lamb (ok, he roasted the lamb whilst I relaxed with a glass of wine) to perfection. Add amazing rosemary/olive oil potatoes, some veggies, fab wine, and a cosy night in. That, my friend, is what makes one's toes curl.

My new job!

Before I begin, let me first say thank you to all who have sent their prayers and thoughts to me whilst I was interviewing and looking. It worked!

Next, I must yet again reiterate my belief that I've held true for the past decade or so -- if it doesn't work out, it's not to be. Ain't it the truth? (winks)

It must be said that my first week here, I had interviewed for a job that was quite good: fab salary, rather prestigious, heck, even a relatively easy commute. I didn't get that job... even though I thought the interview went rather well. They'd told the recruiter that I didn't tell them enough about my accomplishments. Aww...I was trying to be not-so-braggy-American! Meh, I knew then that it just wasn't where I was supposed to be. There's always a reason why things do or don't work out, I've found.

When I'd interviewed for this role, Casey was on the last day of her Thanksgiving visit. Her lovely encouragement and support was, just like my family's all along, what I needed to hear as I trekked off to the interview. They did, in fact, hire me. Yay!

I love this place...It's rather familiar like my Premier, filled with uber-ambitious, smart people who are cool, sweet and non-political, though this role has the opportunity for me to actually make a difference and show them something they don't already know. My immediate boss, Katie, is smart-alec-ly, dry-witted (as I adore in the English) and may I even say a bit offbeat in the coolest of ways (she recently wrote a novel and placed in a carry-the-wife-on-the-shoulders competition somewhere in Scandinavia) and my boss's boss, Lucy, is just like my old boss, Stacey: smart, incredibly efficient, and knows everything about the industry in which she works and has a personality with which I just click.

Everyone else in the office? Fun and fab. I feel as though I've landed in a BBC America show (um, not The Office) where everyone is close, a little silly and a lot of awesome. That, my friends, is why I didn't get the role that first week. Had I been hired for that, or any of the other ones, I'd have missed this chance...and I love it here.

I'm in Waterloo, near the North Lambeth tube station, across from the Imperial War Museum. In the evenings, when I walk back to the tube, I can see the London Eye lit up against the night sky and something inside me just smiles.

Across from the Museum is a row of gorgeous townhomes. My English coworker with the perfect posture and the posh accent, Alice, had pointed out that it was likely a square but that in the war most of it had been bombed...hence the 1960s/1970s architecture that surrounds our office. Wow. Hadn't even thought of that...Without getting political, it's so hard to imagine war on one's own home soil and the damage that can be done. Suffice it to say, it was yet another epiphany for me.

Now, if I can just prove to them my abilities...(winks) But the fact that there's a really cute pub catty-corner from the office, The Three Stags, where we're having anti-Valentine's Day drinks is groovy in the meantime, too. hehe...

Ok, it's late...This is long...and I still have many more stories and pics to post. Up next? Maz's birthday, Steve's departure, and a fab Sunday roast and tea/cakes with the family...