28 December 2006

The Last Post of 2006

Once again, I can only say it's been an amazing year. Whenever I stop to reflect on my life, I feel a bit spoiled as I realize how lucky I am to be living the life I always wanted. In January, I plan to do a bit of "The Best of 2006" for you all. Travel, books, music, etc.

Until then, think of me as I spend my New Year holiday here and here. The flight at 6 am tomorrow may just do me in but I think the views will more than make up for it.
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Take Care and Be Safe and I'll talk to you next year!

27 December 2006

The Twelve Christmas Highlights

The presents are opened, the carols have been sung, I have gained my 5 Christmas pounds...it saddens me to say it but the Christmas of 2006 has been put to bed. It was a great Christmas - full of great food, friends and Charlie Brown dancing.

The Twelve Christmas Highlights

  1. Going to St Paul's Cathedral for Christmas Eve Carol Service (free) and getting great seats right under the dome. It was a beautiful service in a pretty magical place and those little boys sing like angels.
  2. Seeing the huge long queue for the butcher on my block as I left the house on Saturday and being thankful that I was not buying a Christmas roast or goose.
  3. Borough Market on Saturday when it wasn't crowded. In fact, NO WHERE in London was crowded (except St Pauls). Christmas is a magical time in London when you can always get a seat on the tube, find a table in a bar, or go to the shops without fighting crowds.
  4. Listening to non-stop Christmas music and dancing like the Charlie Brown characters.
  5. Baking and cooking and cooking and baking. I don't think I have spent that much time in the kitchen the whole time I've lived here. We made roast beef, green beans with roasted tomato salsa, rolls, spinach salad with cranberries and candied almonds, red velvet cocoa cake, candy cane cookies, sugar cookies, black bottom cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, 2 breakfasts of eggs, bacon, and more and EVERYTHING on that list was made from scratch. Jess even candied the almonds herself. I kid you not.
  6. Bubbly and bubbly and bubbly and more bubbly (I won't even tell you the bottle count after 2 days)...which might explain all the kitchen accidents including the small fire, Jess burning and cutting herself, Lauren burning her mouth (on the candied almonds that weren't cool) and me dumping all the flour on the floor (thankfully it was AFTER the last of the baking was done). We knew when we got to three accidents each day we were done...which was good to know that there was an end point.
  7. Being introduced to Low Country Dinner on Christmas Eve. Cook it all in a pot and then throw the food on the table. Eat with your hands. SO FUN and SO RELAXED! New Xmas Eve tradition in my house for sure.
  8. Walking in Hampstead Heath on Christmas Day decked out in St. Claus hats. We were a sight to see as we tramped through the tall grasses to climb Parliament Hill and see London laid out below us.
  9. Boxing Day. One of my new favourite British traditions. You don't work on Christmas or the day after. On top of that, we went to see the Wizard of Oz on Boxing Day at the Everyman Cinema - my favourite movie theatre. It was funny to see it after seeing Wicked. I just kept thinking of all the characters ulterior motives!
  10. Getting my mobile phone back when it got lost. I had it before I went into St Pauls and noticed it was missing on the way home. However, unlike many other places in London, apparently if you lose your phone in a church, you actually can get it back. (Have it back now!)
  11. Calling my dad just as the roast was cooking and realizing that we really had no idea what we were doing when it came to beef. Many thanks for the cooking tips, the wine tips, and not mocking your daughter too much when it came to her ability to roast, Dad! I know now. 17-20 minutes per pound. 120 degrees in the middle!
  12. Realizing that no matter where you are in the world, it's the people you have in your life that make it special. Many many thank yous to the Dobberstein/Schaefer clan for making my holiday so wonderful.
Hope all of your celebrations were as much fun as mine and that you are all well and happy and feeling slightly overfed. Now on to Italy for New Year...

MERRY CHRISTMAS ALL!!

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21 December 2006

Christmas Gift Suggestions

The following requires headphones and mom, you probably shouldn't watch it, but oh how I laughed...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dmVU08zVpA

The steps are the funniest part.
Well done SNL!

Another Reason to Be Glad I am Not Flying...

"It's bedlam. The whole terminal is so packed you can barely walk," said Nicholas Velez, 23, one of about 500 passengers left stranded Wednesday night while trying to return home to Washington, D.C., for the holidays."

Click here for the whole story.

19 December 2006

Party Photos

I'm too cheap to upgrade to a Flickr account with more capacity so if you want to see the photos from the office party, click on over to My First Album and check out the photos of the WaggEd holiday party. The photos on the bus are because we couldn't get a taxi to save our lives. That's right, 20 PR people that have been drinking since 3 pm on a bus.

Now THAT's a party. Whoo-Hoo.

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Top Ten Signs You Know You Had a Great Office Party

  1. You start at 3pm and when you leave at 3am, it's still going.
  2. You win the "Name That Tune" contest and make 3 high-ranking people sing "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls as your prize.
  3. You see photos of yourself and ask, "When did I do that?"
  4. You have 3rd party validation (husband of co-worker) who says, "I think this is one of the best office parties I've been to"
  5. You don't actually remember when the dining area became a dance floor...but OH how you remember the dancing!
  6. The bar staff parties with you
  7. You have a vague memory of telling the dj how he was losing the crowd and a vague memory of him actually changing the music to keep it going.
  8. You get Jeff to sing "Getting Jiggy With It" and he can't remember all the words. You try to help but you can't remember all the words either.
  9. You have a vague memory of giving raspberries (on the cheek - let's keep it clean people!) to most of your male co-workers...and some of the females...and no one holds it against you.
  10. You can never wear that dress again.
Now, if I could just host some video...


18 December 2006

Happy Christmas!

Office party photos are coming (and let me tell you the surprise karoake was a TREAT) but before then, I'd just like to take a moment to wish you all the merriest and happiest of holidays.

I've even recorded a personal message for each of you. You can find it here:

http://www.elfyourself.com/?userid=5754dae9c8490665793a9f0G06121804

15 December 2006

Friday's Top 5: Overheard at the Office Xmas Party*

*Please note, this is an anticipated list. Party begins in 4 hours. Full recap on Monday and photos too.

  1. I can't believe Jeff didn't wear the red shirt again this year!
  2. Are you sure I can't walk around barefoot in this bar? My feet are killing me.
  3. I GOT A Care Bear as my Secret Santa gift?!?
  4. Does Katie know that this isn't a karaoke bar?
  5. Does Jeff know that lady is a dude?

Happy Christmas Everyone! Be safe out there!

14 December 2006

The Office Christmas Party

Tomorrow night is our annual office Christmas party - an event that strikes great anticipation and fear into the hearts of office workers across London. It's a time for the people you see everyday to turn back into teenagers and let those loose lips sink a lot of ships. From what I can tell, the office Christmas Party is the new high-school dance and I fully anticipate a bit of feeling like I am in an episode of Laguna Beach. Who will dance with whom? Who will get drunk and hit on the CFO? Who will just plain embarrass themselves?

Everyone is discussing outfits, Secret Santa gifts (I have a great person this year but can't tell you cause it's a secret!) and drinking strategies: "Ok, from 3pm-6pm you HAVE to have a glass of water every other drink, then after 7 do whatever you want." "I am just going to drink champagne all night. I always do ok if I stick to champagne." The buzz has been slowly growing all week.

So with all this in mind, I offer my Office Christmas Party Survival Rules. Keep these thoughts in mind my friends, no matter how much you consume, and you may come into the office on Monday with nary a gossipy word said about you. THIS IS YOUR MANTRA.
  1. Yes, someone will see me do it.
  2. Yes, they will talk about me. A lot. For a long time.
  3. I am not Bridget Jones. I am not Bridget Jones.

And if at ANYTIME, you find yourself thinking, "Wow. I'm drunk." Then it's definitely time to go home...ALONE.

Best of luck

12 December 2006

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I am really starting to like this Christmas in London thing. I never fully embraced it in year's past because I always knew I would hop on a plane and that Christmas really began after that plane ride. I never thought to buy Nutcracker tickets or take in any Christmas music. I just drank some mulled wine and glanced at the big tree in Covent Garden as I passed. This year, I've changed all that (although you still couldn't pay me to go to Harrod's).
As you all know, Saturday I got a carol service under my belt. Sunday, I bought some Xmas decos and gifts for friends (fighting the crowds on Oxford Street should be enough of a gift but I digress). Last night I went to a friend's house and we ate Christmas cookies - it's all happening people! - however, what I am most looking forward to is Thursday's activity.

On Thursday, I bought tickets to see "The Glory of Christmas" music at St. Martins in the Fields. The concerts at St Martins are world renown and for as long as I have lived in London I have been meaning to see a performance there. I am so excited!

Here's the program for the nerds in the crowd that want to follow along. They're also doing the complete Brandenburg's later this month. I'm tempted but may have some conflicting engagements. Do'h!

Programme:

  • Bach – excerpts from Christmas Oratorio
  • Vivaldi - Winter from Four Seasons
  • Handel - Selection from Messiah including ‘Hallelujah Chorus’
  • Purcell - Christmas Music
  • Readings and poems by Shakespeare, Kipling and Betjeman
  • Carols for Choir and Audience

Following Thursday's performance I have tickets to the Nutcracker on Saturday as well. The English National Ballets performance (this old girl can't justify the cost of the Royal Ballet's tickets).

10 December 2006

Friday's Top Five*: Favourite Christmas Carols

I am spending Christmas in London this year. At 30 years old I am spending my first holiday without any immediate family members present. (sniff sniff) It's kind of odd to not be travelling this time of year but I have to say, there is this lovely relaxed feeling to the season that I am really starting to embrace :-)

So, without a big plane ride to mark the deadline for Christmas shopping, I'm slowly warming to the pending holiday in other ways and spent the weekend shopping for others and attending a gorgeous carol service in London. Hence, the inspiration for the Friday Top 5 list this week.

While I do love a good church carol sing-a-long (although all that virgin and womb talk gets a bit jarring after a while) all of the carols in the list are secular. What can I say? Public school in the USA, you learn the non-religious ones. I pretty much like all versions of these songs but like everyone else, I am partial to a little Bing Crosby this time of year (yet White Christmas didn't make the list - go figure). They should be listened to with little twinkly lights nearby and preferably a roaring fireplace in the vicinity. Hot Cocoa is optional but strongly recommended.

In order of favourites:
  1. Carol of the Bells
  2. I'll Be Home for Christmas
  3. Winter Wonderland
  4. The Christmas Song
  5. Little Drummer Boy

*Yes, I know it's Sunday, not Friday, but better late than never, right?

07 December 2006

Zen Moment of the Day

"Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage"

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Now There's Something You Don't See Everyday

Tornado hits London.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6217514.stm

The tornado struck Kensal Rise shortly after 11h00 GMT. It tore roofs off several houses and demolished sections of walls to send tiles, bricks and furniture flying through the streets. Six people were sent to the hospital with minor injuries.

We heard the thunder and saw the rain at our offices but just thought it was a freak thunderstorm (literally saw the sun and the rain at the same time - was over in a flash). Go figure.

05 December 2006

I (Left My) Heart (in) NYC

Back in London with just the slightest bad attitude today. It's a full-on "wish I was still on holiday" bad attitude. Work is just a bit harder to do. London is not shining as brightly as it used to. New York was lovely - lovely lovely. A sample of the rest of the trip:
  • Friday: The NY Library (gorgeous), Bloomingdales, Central Park, Mesa Grill (You HAVE to try the tuna appetizer) and Hairspray. Loved Hairspray. Loved it. Loved it. Was thrilled to bits to discover Suzanne loved it too. How did I know? Every time I looked over at her she had a big enamored grin on her face as she took in the sights on the stage. Oh, and so happy to see that Tevin Campbell is still able to make a career in music! The American Idol girl was surprisingly good as well. I had no idea that either of them were in the show until I finally looked in the program at intermission after thinking, "who IS that actress?" over and over and over...

  • Saturday: Sex and the City Tour. Totally worth it although apparently I am a big Sex and the City nerd. I need to get out more. Shopping at Union Square Christmas market. Blue Water Grill. A cheeky drink at the Rainbow Room (note to self: AVOID Rockefeller Center at Christmas). Dinner at Tabla (I recommend the Tablatini) with friends and then nightcaps at both the Merc Bar and Balthazar. At Balthazar the hostess managed to knock over a candle and spill wax ALL OVER my new outfit. I mean ALL OVER. Sweater, shirt, trousers. All of it. Yes, they are paying for the cleaning. No, I was not a happy bunny. *sigh* I just hope the wax comes out...Bless Sean for taking care of it for me!

  • Sunday: Brunch at Public (so good!), more shopping in Soho and Union Square area including a good few hours spent at ABC Carpet and Home. Note to self, no matter how wealthy I become, I will never find $15 for tinsel or a tea light candle holder to be reasonable. I can get both of those fairly standard items at Ikea - anywhere in the world - for $2. However, I do enjoy the furniture there. Lovely. Lovely.

And now I am back and I miss it already...I need one of those cheesy t-shirts.

I (Heart) New York. I really do.

30 November 2006

Katie in the NYC

Ah, New York, New York, the city so nice they named it twice...
That's right kids, this week Katie in the UK is Katie in the NYC. I've got the first 24 hours under my belt and the jet lag almost kicked. Last night was spent in Brooklyn with the little brother, today was spent in Manhattan at the MOMA and most of the fine shops lining 5th Avenue in mid-town.

And I must tell you about the new love in my life...it is called the MOMA.
What a fantastic space. Truly truly mesmerizing. I spent almost as much time looking around and out of the building at the vistas the space created as I did looking at the works of art. Truly gorgeous. Top 3 museum list for sure. I also have reaffirmed my love for Seurat and Hopper while simultaneously increasing my appreciation for Picasso, (hit and miss with me), Cezanne, Matisse and cubism. My new favourite artist is Paul Klee and my new favourite painting is: Dynamic Hieroglyphic of the Bal Tabarin. 1912 by Gino Severini.
See it below.

I've seen the tree in Rockefeller Center (big) and the tree in Bryant Park (fancy). I've marvelled at the tall, tall buildings and the similarities and differences to London. I actually got into the taxi last night and was momentarily thrown by the driver being on the left side (transformation complete apparently). And most importantly, I've SCOFFED at the Starbucks that priced the Gingerbread latte at $4.40.

(Yes, I realize with the exchange rate I regularly pay more than $5 for a Starbucks in London but it's still the principle of the thing. FIVE DOLLARS for a latte? A latte they often mess up in making? Come on people, it's just a cup of coffee.)

Disgusted, I went to the nearby deli and bought a $3 bottle of water instead.

By the way, did I mention that it was a balmy 68F (19C) degrees in NYC today? Yes, it IS the last day of November and it was practically t-shirt weather. I quickly lost the sweater, the winter coat and the scarf. I tried to do some shopping for winter clothes but it was hard to get into a sweater buying mindset. Global warming is seriously messing with my head. It's now 10 pm and still 64/18 out there. Ridiculous!

Ok, off to see more of the NYC. Enjoy the Severini!

24 November 2006

40 Things That I'm Thankful For This Year

Inspired by the holiday spirit, and by CherryRide, I offer my list of things that I am thankful for this year (in alphabetical order):
  1. Amalfi coast from the passenger seat
  2. Blogging friends
  3. Bond, James Bond (I can not WAIT to see it)
  4. Britney left K-Fed
  5. Cartwheels
  6. Chamonix
  7. Dangly earrings
  8. Diet Coke
  9. Dogs
  10. Flip Flops
  11. Friends, Friends, Friends
  12. Friends that can make a joke
  13. Friends that can take a joke
  14. Greek salads in Greece
  15. Hockney, David
  16. iTunes
  17. Idina Menzel (Wicked)
  18. Instant Messenger
  19. Joe, my Dad
  20. Jon Stewart and the Daily Show
  21. Kathy, my Mom
  22. KT Tunstall
  23. Mike, my brother
  24. My luck and hard work in getting a job that allows me to live a life I love.
  25. Nine West boots
  26. Olive oil from Italy
  27. Pashminas (this office is DAMN COLD)
  28. Paolo Nutini
  29. Pinot Grigio
  30. Pedicures
  31. Roller coasters
  32. Skinny Gingerbread Lattes with half syrup and light whip cream
  33. Thai food
  34. Snow Patrol
  35. Suzanne's love of theatre
  36. Sushi train restaurants
  37. Veronica Mars
  38. Warren Miller movies
  39. Whistler, even though I won't get to ski/ride it this year
  40. WWTDD.com

23 November 2006

How to Make A Pumpkin Pie in London

Every year we Americans take great pride in bringing a little bit of America's traditions back to our international colleagues in the London office. Last year we brought in pumpkin pie for everyone to try. This year, we went all out and had a Thanksgiving potluck.

Please note: Two American customs are being introduced here: Thanksgiving and the concept of "potluck''

With a little help from a caterer who brought in 2 turkeys with mash and gravy we put on the potluck to end all potlucks. Everyone did really well bringing in yummy food. There was stuffing, green veggies, salad, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie...
The pumpkin pie was made by yours truly.

Now, I say this, and all you 'Merican think - yeah, pumpkin pie - easypeasy. The thing that all you 'Mericans might not realize is that it's not just a simple matter of popping down to the shop to pick up the ingredients for a traditional American meal in London. Most of our grocery shops are pint-sized, catering to city living of eating out most nights and cooking-in only on occasion.

To make a pumpkin pie, or any American 'specialty' food in London, you have to really be COMMITTED to your cause.

My quest began 2 days ago when I had the momentary clarity of thought to ask to borrow 2 pie plates from my fellow Americans in the office. Next stop was the Internet. Everyone said, "THE RECIPE IS ON THE BACK OF THE CAN." Um, yes. But if you aren't 100% sure you will have the can you need to have a back up plan. In London, you are never 100% sure until the can is in your hand.

Even if you go to the same grocery store every night and see the same things on the shelves every night, you can guarantee that the ONE NIGHT you want to buy it, it will be out. That's the beauty of only stocking shelves for a 6-12 hour turnaround.

With two recipes printed out and two pie plates stored in my laptop bag, I headed out early after work last night to the "big" Tesco Metro near my office for the ingredients. I had already planned on trekking up to the deli in Hampstead that sells "American" foods for the canned pumpkin, but figured I should check in the Tesco Metro just in case.

I managed to secure the following at Tesco Metro: Ginger, Cinnamon and evaporated milk. No pie crusts, no canned pumpkin.
One long tube ride and a 10 minute walk later and I was at Rosslyn Deli in Hampstead. This shop is known by Americans all over London for its back room filled with little tastes of home. Here I did manage to secure the LAST TWO cans of Libby's Pumpkin Pie filling. I noted that there wasn't any evaporated milk in the deli. Condensed, yes. Evaporated, no. Good thing I made that purchase earlier. Still no pie crusts.
On my walk down the hill to my house (no buses of course, why would there be a bus when I am carrying 2 grocery bags full of cans and a laptop bag filled with pyrex pie dishes in 3 inch heels?) I passed a Budgens grocery, which is fairly good sized, and decide to check on the extra ingredients that I was still missing.

At Budgens I manage to secure: eggs, sugar (thought I had some but just in case), ground cloves. They had pie crusts but they were small and dodgy. I had a recipe for easy pie crust. Looks like that was the way I was going to have to go.

After another 7 minutes walking (now with an additional bag), I finally climb the stairs to my flat and am ready to make the pies. Immediately, I encounter 2 stumbling blocks:
1) I have only olive oil no vegetable oil for the crusts.
2) The baking directions are all in farenheit and my oven operates in Celsius.

"Can I use olive oil?" I ask Erin who had come over to provide moral support.
"Um, sure. If you want your pies to taste like olives."

Point taken.


Another trip to Tesco downstairs and I manage to find some sunflower oil located on a bottom shelf in the back. Because OF COURSE a Tesco wouldn't bother to have anything as exotic as vegetable oil. Back upstairs a quick perusal of the Joy of Cooking (the bible!) and I learn the exact degree conversion and the baking can begin.

The baking was actually the easiest part. Pies = Done!

I'd tell you about the Tube ride in to the office this morning while carrying 2 pumpkin pies but I don't really have the energy or sanity to repeat it. Suffice to say, there is absolutely NO WAY to ride the Tube without being jostled and run into by other people.

I'd also mention that the first thing I did this morning when I left the house was to trip on the stairs and slam the pies together, but like I said, I don't really have the energy or the sanity to repeat it.

However, in the end, the pies made it to the office in almost one piece and they were a big hit thanks to JBro's spiced whipping cream. The potluck is over, the turkey digesting and the whole of the office is now desperately trying to keep awake after the potluck extravaganza.

In true American style I am already wondering if there are any leftovers in the kitchen...


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

22 November 2006

Meow.

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20 November 2006

How Much Do I Love Thee KT?

Let me count the ways...
Last night Suz and I caught the KT Tunstall show at Union Chapel in Islington. It was an intimate affair, no more than 350 people, packed into an old church for an acoustic set from Ms. Tunstall. We sat 5 rows back from the stage on old wooden pews. In front of us, a stage, a large stone pulpit, and a gigantic stained glass window above it all.

Prior to KT's arrival on the stage we had to sit through two mediocre opening acts. The first, a trio in identity crisis. In what sounded like a sad attempt at Tom Waites via Eastern Europe with some Argentinian influence, Suz and I attempted to not groan audibly. The second, a far too sincere boy on his piano with a violinist and trumpet to back him. When he began rolling on the ground at one point I had to cover my mouth from guffawing out loud.

It was one of those performances that, when it finally ended, all the women in the ladies room were loudly discussing how terrible it was.

Then entre, KT. She was so well worth the wait and we all soon forgot the buffoons who went before her. She played an hour and 15 minute set. Joked with the crowd. Sang like an angel. Played like the devil. At one point she and her fellow female vocalist climbed the pulpit to do an acapella number called, She's The One. "We're not lesbians!" KT clarified. The song was gorgeous and the atmosphere of an old darkened church with just their voices carrying us through was truly amazing. Not an experience soon to forget.

Tomorrow night is Paolo.

If he's anything like KT, it should be a treat...but I think I'll skip his opening acts.
Below is the crappy photo I took from my phone but gives you an idea with the pulpit in the background. Next to it is a live photo from another show but that's really what she looks like!

17 November 2006

Friday's Top Five: Top 5 Irritations of the Day

A quick one for you all today. My top irritations as of 2.27 pm GMT:
  1. Not enough photos of Suri on the Internet
  2. George Bush
  3. No good soup at Eat for lunch.
  4. I can't Orb.
  5. Cranes are crashing into my old office building.

I am off to the Cruise wedding this weekend immediately after work. Got the private jet all gassed up, the Christal is on ice, and I have a few pairs of dark sunglasses to save me from the Paparazzi's glare. I am debating between the Armani and the D&G outfit but I figure I'll know when I get there. It's funny, Katie asked me to be a bridesmaid a few months ago but I politely declined and reminded her, "It's not about this Katie, it's all about you."

Never outshine a bride. Remember that.

15 November 2006

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

With barely a nod to the holiday that is Halloween and no Thanksgiving buffer, Christmas comes pretty early to London town.
  • The lights have been lit on Regent Street and Oxford Street
  • The tree is up in Covent Garden (although, as of 9.00 am this morning the lights were not on)
  • The shops have the Christmas displays up
  • I bought my tickets to the Nutcracker.
  • My mom is calling and asking for my Christmas list.

I am not going home for Christmas this year. At 30 years old I am spending my first Christmas without any of my nuclear family members. It's a bit odd. At the time I made the plans, I was fresh off my summer world tour and could not face the idea of getting on another plane. Literally. The idea of one more second at Heathrow made me a bit crazy.


Now, 3 months later, I have sufficiently recovered from my Heathrow loathing but am still glad I chose not to travel at Christmas. I will still be getting some much needed USA infusion though. We are jetting to NYC on 29 November for a bit of holiday shopping and Christmas fervor. I have always wanted to see New York at the holidays - the lights, the ice skating, the bustle of Christmas shoppers...hmmm. Although, now that I say that, it does sound an awful lot like London. The last time I was in NY was when I got my visa approved for my trip to London. I wonder if it smells the same? I am guessing it does.


So what about the rest of you? Christmas with the fam?

14 November 2006

Random Tidbits

  • I don't like being sick.
  • Whistler is opening early this year. In 4 days to be exact. I never get more homesick than when I hear that Whistler is opening.
  • The Jack the Ripper tour kinda sucked. Our guide was extremely random. She took us to the sites all out of order and then kept messing up the story and the names. She also kept laughing, like the story of Jack the Ripper was so amusing, and then had to keep stopping mid-story and backing up to tell up points she forgot to mention earlier. I left more confused then before I arrived. Nothing is worse than a non-linear storyteller when the story is meant to be told in a linear way.
  • The Lord Mayor Show is a bit of random London life that I am so glad I can now say I have seen. It's good to know that London is not all big city all the time. It reminded me of a small town parade on a big city street. No floats. No fancy presentations. Just a lot of civically minded organizations and a parade route. We saw plumbers, we saw cab drivers, we saw electricians, and ambulance drivers, and workers from an autism school...along with the Lord Mayor and all the military bands you could find. It was random, and laughable, and kinda wonderful in a way that only completely random things can be.
  • While I do like "The Toilet of Venus," I am not a big fan of Velazquez. I am a fan of Hockney. Specifically his photo collages. They are amazing. If you have a chance to get down to the National Portrait Gallery before the exhibit closes, I suggest you go. It's totally worth the £9.
  • I have discovered the band Gomez. Katie likey.
  • I am completely addicted to Veronica Mars. Yes, it's on the CW in the States (I only recently learned what the CW is!) but I now own Seasons 1 & 2 on DVD. If I put one in, I have to watch the whole disc. I can't watch just one episode. It's cause I am in love with the character Logan. In luuuuurve with him (and yes, it's the character, not necessarily the actor)...like I might ffwd just to see his scenes. It's ridiculous. I blame Suzanne. She's the enabler who gave me my first taste.

10 November 2006

Friday's Top Five: Reasons I am Proud to Be an American

With the much sunnier turn to American politics this week, and my pending return to the USA (T-9 months and counting), I find myself reflecting this week on the identity assigned to me by my passport and feeling, for the first time in a long time, a reason to have some national pride.

I give you my Top 5:

1. American Holidays:
The great thing about uniquely American holidays like the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving? They focus on FOOD.
Fourth of July is all about BBQs and fireworks. Thanksgiving is all about turkey, mash, and pumpkin pie. There is no gift giving, there is no holiday guilt, there is no pressure (except against my belt after the meal). I heart American Holidays.


2. American Geography:
I love that we are such a huge country. That stupid statistic that like less than 2 people in the USA have a passport is so ridiculous. Do you know how much USA there is to see?
In London, as soon as I get on a plane I need a passport because I am leaving the country. I can fly for 30 minutes and be in Paris or the Netherlands. In the USA I can fly for SIX HOURS and still be in the USA..and let's be honest, there are parts of the USA that are definitely like visiting another country but at least you don't have to worry about an exchange rate!

3.John Stewart and the Colbert Report.

'Nuff said.


4. American TV and Gossip Rags.
Having spent the last 2.25 years in another country
I have a new appreciation for the fame of the American celebrity. The US Magazines and People Magazines that are so readily purchased and shared with the teams here not only unite us in one culture of celebrity in this office, but they keep me tied in with American friends on a very water-cooler level. I may not know the what's what in American politics these days but I can readily discuss Britney's divorce (Kevin is so screwed)and what a cheat Ryan Philippe is and THAT keeps me grounded. in America.

5. Tex-Mex Food:
It's unique to the USA but I predict that someday, it will rule the world. Nachos. Burritos. Tacos. Salsa Verde. Guacamole. Mouth watering. Yum.

So there you have it. The Top 5 Things I love about Being American. What's on your top 5?

08 November 2006

Keeping it Real

Many thanks to MK for keeping me grounded.

Fist, he's the one who named the blog.
Second, he's the one that flagged the on-line ticket sales for my 2 new music crushes to me yesterday.

As any female with a credit card would do, I went a bit crazy last night and bought tickets to 3 concerts...all happening in about a 1 week timeframe. KT Tunstall, Paolo Nutini, and James Morrison. I have no buyer's remorse but if you want to find me the week of 19 November, chances are I am at the venue in Islington catching the show. Pretty much all of them.

So much for slowing down the spending since I bought that ticket for my Australia tour, eh? It's just a good thing I am independently wealthy and living off the residuals of my last album...oh wait.

Election Day

It was a truly beautiful thing this morning to wake up to my morning news and hear that America is back on track.

1) Britney is finally K-Fed up
2) Americans are finally K-Fed up with Bush (record numbers!)

Believe it or not both of these news items are running in newspapers, radio news and BBC 24 hour with equal air time.

I'll admit, I'm pleased as punch with both results and will sleep well tonight knowing that all is right with the world. I'll admit that I didn't bother to vote this time around - after the last election I was feeling a bit disillusioned - but YOU, the AMERICAN PEOPLE, have given me hope.

And you, Britney Spears, you have also given me hope. My favourite quote about the divorce so far? "When asked why the Earth suddenly feels like it's spinning faster, scientists said it was because Kevin Federline just fell off the face of it."

Ha!

07 November 2006

Why I Love Jeffe Today

"Hey Jeff"
"Yeah"
"I need your help on something - not work related."
"ok"
"What's that song?? From the 90's?? I think?? I think 'playground' is in it but...
I can't remember if it's the song or the name of the ban..."

"Sex and Candy by Marcy Playground?"

Proper

06 November 2006

Ring a Ding Ding

Today I have a constant ringing in my ears.

This morning one ear wouldn't pop and now it is popped but the ringing started. And it's going and going. I feel like I just left a rock concert that I only half listened to.

Oh my god the ringing.
It's making me a bit crazy and giving me a headache.

Being the internet savvy girl that I am I did a little self-diagnosis. Turns out I had a problem with fluid in my Eustachian tube - the tube finally drained at lunch and now I have the ringing. This may or may not be the sign of an ear infection.

I haven't had an ear infection since I was, what?, 4 years old? What grown up gets an ear infection?

Oh, and did I mention the ringing is driving me CRAZY?!?

You Need These Albums

1. Paolo Nutini - These Streets
2. James Morrison - Inspiration

Seriously. I am not kidding. Go buy them now.

You can buy them for like a dollar on allofmp3.com. It's a pain to download the tunes but at $.14 a song, who cares?

03 November 2006

Red Wine: It's not just for breakfast anymore

Looks like the Pinot Grigio is moving down on my ordering list and the Pinot Noir is moving up.

Now THAT is Friday news you can use!

Friday's Top 5

Top 5 Reasons I am not posting a Top 5 this week (oh, the irony):

1. Blogger has decided to take away all my font options (hence this crappy crap plain text)
2. I TRIED to do a Top 5 list twice, but it has TWICE decided to screw it up after I did all the work.
3. I can't compete with CherryRide (seriously, the man is too damn funny.)
4. After this week I can only count to four.

31 October 2006

You Know It's Halloween When...

My diet for the day so far:
  • One grande skinny latte
  • 1 flapjack
  • 2 mini candy bars (Mars and Milky Way)
  • 2 gummi skulls filled with 'blood' syrup
  • 1 set gummi dracula teeth
  • 1 peppermint eye(gum)ball

Happy Halloween!

People are seriously cruel...









30 October 2006

Waltzing ReckenRoll

Today I bought my most expensive plane ticket to date for my furthest trip to date (so far, Cape Town reigns supreme). In March I will be winging my way to Singapore and Perth, Australia for 2 glorious weeks of new experiences and Mel & Leigh's wedding!

I'll admit, it was a bit of an "OMG" moment when I actually hit "purchase' on the web today...there was a big gulp and quite a bit of math...but hey, I've been meaning to cut back on food latley anyway so why not start now?

This will definitely help.

New diet aside, I have always wanted to travel to Asia, any part of Asia, and I think Singapore will be a good first impression. I spend 4 days there, visiting Rob and Shaun, (note to self: email Rob and Shaun) before I spend a week in Perth for the wedding. I expect Shaun will show me all the highlights of his big city, the Hard Rock Cafe, the Irish pub, the Benetton shopping (he tells me Singapore is really different!) and then off to the beautiful Western Australia for a little bit more country and what is sure to be a gorgeous wedding. The new diet should help me fit into any dress I choose!

Oh, and I'll see if I can sneak out any Veggiemite for you CherryRide.

27 October 2006

Random Kate Moment of the Day

Not "KATIE" moment. "Kate" moment. As in my friend Kate who just moved to Seattle.

Hop on over to CherryRide and read about his trauma with Veggiemite...then scroll through the comments until you get to KateR's where she says she brought "decent instant coffee" with her to Seattle.

....

That's like taking your own pasta to Italy or your own beer to Germany. Kate, why would you do that?

Friday's Top Five: My Favourite British TV Shows

In an attempt to not blow my new commitment on the very next day, I dedicate this week's Top 5 to my favourite British TV shows.

For all those who don't live in the UK, let me just begin by saying there is a LOT of American TV to be had. Granted, it's all a season late but we get it eventually and that makes it difficult for me to invest in the UK telly offerings. But what I love, I really love...

How do I even explain this show to Americans? I can't think of anything to compare it to. It's a variety show of sorts, they have a live audience and are always having the most bizarre competitions to help the audience win prizes. They surprise their audience a lot too with things like, opening the curtain and the entire contents of my living room have been removed and placed on the stage and set up again to look like my living room. Stuff like that. People's reactions are high comedy. Em, you would LOVE this show.

They also compete against each other every week (Ant v. Dec) in competitions like being a lumberjack and repelling down a skyscraper in London. As far as I'm concerned, the Jiggy Bank is the best piece of Saturday night television I've ever seen...and if you really want a giggle click here for Little Ant and Dec's highlights. The best part of Ant & Dec is that they are rebroadcast on Sunday afternoon. I'd never have to miss it if it didn't run in such short seasons.

2. Friday Night with Jonathan Ross - Talk Show
I am never too sad to find myself too worn out from the week to have a big night on Friday night. I am actually more than happy to have a quick one after work and then make my way home to my couch with Jonathan, his speech impediment (Jonathan Woss weally), and his line up of British and American stars. How could you not love a show whose house band is called Four Poofs and a Piano? To see the Poofs in action watch until about 45 seconds in on the Ricky Gervaise interview.


3. Extras - Sitcom
Ricky Gervaise new show on BBC2. If you watch the Ricky Gervaise interview above you'll get a good sense for the plot of the show. If you want to see a qucik clip, click here. No one creates humour in awkward situations like Mr. Gervaise. In a word = Funny.

4. SuperNanny - Reality TV
No, not the versions that the US has copied. The original SuperNanny Jo, and the completely mad children and families that she helps out. I won't go into too much detail on this one since you are all familiar. Just suffice to say, I don't do reality TV but I love SuperNanny. It's like watching a car wreck but with a sense of naive superiority. You're able to tsk tsk tsk and say, "I would NEVER drive like that."

5. Relocation Relocation / Saturday Kitchen (tie)
Both of these programmes fill the sad space left in my heart where the Food Network and TLC used to live.
  • Relocation Relocation = A couple wants to sell their current house and buy (usually) a big nice country house somewhere and also a little flat in London or near where they work. The tag team help them do it on their limited budgets and re-negotiate what is actually possible on that budget. Usually runs in marathons on Sunday afternoons.
  • Saturday Kitchen = Exactly what it says it is. 1.5 hours on BBC1 on Saturday morning all about cooking. James Martin hosts this live studio show and they very often bring in famous/semi-famous chefs to teach us about their famous dish and style of cooking. Also get to hear about what wine goes with the foods and why along with classic footage of master chefs. Nothing beats a cup of coffee and settling in for some Saturday Kitchen.
So if you are wondering where to find me on a Saturday afternoon, chances are high I am in front of the telly...absorbing the best of British culture ;-)

26 October 2006

Note to Self: Must Blog More About London

Here I am, an American in London, 2.25 years in and I rarely actually blog about London anymore.

Am I 'over it'?
Well, the flash of irrational and irritated anger I felt no less than 3 times at stupid people on the Tube this morning tells me I am not. ("Seriously, we are all moving here. MOVE OR GET OUT OF THE WAY")

Am I numb to it?
Well, the guy completely opening his trousers in the middle of Covent Garden this morning didn't appall me, just made me annoyed that he was doing that in my public space. I did manage to avert my eyes in time (no one needs to see that before caffeinating) but it made me wonder just how jaded I had become.

Anyway, I aim to fix that here and today:
  • I added some new London blogs to the blogroll on the side there. These people are actually dedicated to talking about London. When I am too lazy to do it, you can always see what they have to say.
  • I am going to start trying to take more trips OUT of London into the rest of the UK. Turns out, there is a WHOLE COUNTRY here that is not London. Go figure. I will report back. Any suggestions on where I should go?
  • I am going to try to focus more on reporting on London things (besides dirty old men having a wank in public). Sometimes I forget that not everyone does what I, and the people around me, do everyday.

Starting tomorrow, things gon' change around here.

25 October 2006

On Repeat This Week

As the winter freeze sets into the area immediately around my desk I find myself turning to some hot tunes and an extra big pashmina to keep warm. The choices are a bit all over the map this week but variety is the spice of life kids.

  • Jump - Madonna (can you believe this Malawi baby thing? I am so over it.)
  • New Shoes - Paolo Nutini (free iTunes download)
  • Sinner Man - Nina Simone
  • Here it Goes Again - O.K. Go (if you haven't seen the treadmill magic, click here)
  • Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol (I am late to liking this one, I know)
  • Steady As She Goes - The Raconteurs
  • 'Ridin - Chamillionaire (cause that's how I roll)

24 October 2006

Crazy Strikes Again

The mad pincher is still on the loose in London. She got Deidre yesterday and Cally today. If you are walking on the Strand and near the bus stop outside Queensland House and female...

WATCH OUT!!

Another One Bites the Dust

And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, Im gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust
- Queen
This last weekend we said goodbye to yet another member of the UK office as Kate hopped on a plane and winged her west to Seattle for 2 years. It was a bit bittersweet and the office will never be the same until she returns.


Who will judge my choice in shoes?
Who will teach me about which London B list celebs I should know in the gossip mags?
Who will go on holiday with me to Italy? Spain? Etc?

Very sadcakes indeed.

Kate and I first met in Vegas over 5 years ago. I was a wide-eyed Account Coordinator - all alone - supporting a client who had no need for me to be there. I was living pay check to pay check and a trip to Vegas for work (to be expensed later) was a strain to say the least. I had roughly $50 to spend on "non-client" meals everyday. If a restaurant didn't take the corporate Amex I was basically not able to eat there.

Entre Kate.

She was senior, she was from the Europe office, she was glamourous, and, lest I get a beating for not mentioning it, she had fabulous shoes. She took pity on poor little me being all alone and said we should go out for dinner the next night. She suggested getting tickets to Tom Jones - but at $80 Vegas tickest prices, I had to politely decline. Instead we went to the Bellagio where I taught Kate about free drinks for those who gamble. The free drinks were all we needed to become lifelong friends.

Kate picked the restaurant for dinner and as I eyed side salads and tap water (Vegas prices) she suggested a fabulous looking chicken dish and a bottle of wine.

"Um, I don't think I can spend that much on my budget," I stammered, embarrassed to be so lame.

Kate took one look at me and laughed in that lovely Kate way and said one of the most beautiful phrases in our modern society, "Oh, I'll expense it."

When I moved to London 2 years ago Kate taught me some of my most valuable London lessons. She taught me that I love champers. She taught me that I loathe shoes without a heel. She assured me that someone on this planet talks faster than I do! In return, I taught her about snow berms.

It's been a beautiful friendship!

I am so sad to see her go but am so happy she'll be back in 6 weeks to visit. Best of luck in the USA Kate! (Not that you need it!) We miss you already!

23 October 2006

The French Woman's Secret to Great Skin

No wonder they look so fresh and youthful...

http://www.voyezleseffetssecondaires.ca/

To get the English translation click on the "Passez au Salon" and when the page refreshes there will be a small button on the left bottom corner that says "English". Just click on that.

Oh, and you might want to have a cigarette ready for when you're done...

20 October 2006

Friday's Top Five: Movies from My Childhood

Welcome to Friday's Top Five. This week we look at the great movies of my childhood.

As a child of the 80's, I was part of one of the first generations to experience movies at home, practically on demand, thanks to that crazy new invention, the VCR. Today, I honour that invention and the movies that helped shape my young view of the world.

How could any childhood be complete without the Goonies? Action! Adventure! Kids as the heroes with the bumbling adults who just don't quite 'get it'...this movie had it all! And let's not forget the fact that it was filmed in Astoria, Oregon which made it even cooler for any kid who had ever spent any time on the Oregon coast. I don't think this one really needs too much explanation so I will just give you the quote and, after a moment of reflection, we can move on:

Chunk: "...But the worst thing I ever done - I mixed a pot of fake puke at home and then I went to this movie theater, hid the puke in my jacket, climbed up to the balcony and then, t-t-then, I made a noise like this: hua-hua-hua-huaaaaaaa - and then I dumped it over the side, all over the people in the audience. And then, this was horrible, all the people started getting sick and throwing up all over each other. I never felt so bad in my entire life."



This was the first movie I actually remember seeing in a movie theatre. I remember I was restless (I was 6 and probably just a bit too young to sit still that long) and then I remember I cried for ET. So sad, so happy, so heartwarming. I still cry when I see that movie and, let's be honest, so do you.

Elliot: "He's a man from outer space and we're taking him to his spaceship."
Greg: "Well, can't he just beam up?"
Elliot: "This is REALITY, Greg"


We'll keep this one quick. Put simply, this movie scared the crap out of me. It still scares the crap out of me. Bette Davis made for a very scary old lady and only years later when I saw "The Shining" did I find a word spelled backward that was more scary than "Nerak". I can't say anymore now. I need to hide under the covers.

If you don't know this one, click here to read more and consider yourself lucky...

Mrs. Aylwood: [to unseen presence in the woods] "She's going to stay here... is that what you wanted?"


Who didn't spend hours watching and re-watching this Disney classic? This is the first one I remember learning the words to the songs so I could sing along. I also loved that the little brother was named Michael...just like my little brother! I mean, come on, that's an important connection.

Let's go fly a kite kids. Let's go right now.


I'd like to take this moment to personally thank the Anchorage School District for making this movie a permanent fixture in my childhood. Every year, on the last day of the school year, you'd have that day where the schoolwork was done, your desk was empty and the classroom walls were stripped bare. The teachers used this time to wrap up and to keep us kiddies occupied they shuffled us all into the music teacher's room or the gym to watch The NeverEnding Story. Once, they mixed it up and showed us Flight of the Navigator...and another time we got the Princess Bride...but standing out in my memory is The NeverEnding Story. It's a classic kids.

Falcor: I like children.
Atreyu:
...for breakfast?

And just because it was a struggle to decide, I've included some Honourable Mentions. It's only a Top 5 List afterall:

  • The Dark Crystal
  • The Muppets Take Manhattan
  • The Princess Bride

And there you have it. These are the movies that helped make me the freak I am today. Agree? Disagree?Am curious to hear the thoughts of the crowd...Either way, have a happy Friday kids!

19 October 2006

Bent

Two plays under the belt for this week. Monday, we saw "Summer and Smoke" a Tennessee Williams exploration of unrequited love and all the pain that goes along with it. Yadda Yadda Yadda. The dialogue was ok, the acting was passable, the sets were functional...it was alright. Nothing wowed. Nothing made me think. Nothing shocked. It didn't suck. It didn't rock.

Overall, I shrug my shoulders and say, "Eh."

Last night was quite a different experience. We went to my favourite performance space , The Trafalgar Studios, to see Alan Cumming in Bent. Focusing on the lives of Berlin's gay (male) community, and their treatment at the hands of the Nazis, it was one of those rare moving theatre experiences that shows like Summer and Smoke just can't deliver.

I'll admit, it was touch and go in Scene 1. I saw Alan Cumming's full moon and another actor's full EVERYTHING and thought it might be a bit more gay man than I could handle. However, it quickly became a very intense and touching story that spoke universally to the bargains we all make with ourselves everyday. As one review I read said, "It has much more to do with the meaning of self, our responsibilities to others, and how we handle impossible situations which put our very existence at risk."

The staging was inventive and the acting was fabulous. Truly truly fabulous. It wasn't just Alan either, the whole cast was extremely impressive...and even more impressive is that they have to go through that emotional rollercoaster every night. I have to watch nothing but Friends re-runs and Disney movies for at least a week to recover, they have to do it all again tonight at 7.30.
If you can handle seeing a full on nekkid man on stage and don't mind a bit of the intense in your theater repetoire, I fully recommend it.

17 October 2006

I Need a Dating Holiday

For those that are curious, I have an update on the dating experiment. Yes, the experiment has continued and I have now come to a conclusion:

Dating is a lot of hard work.

They like me, I don't like them. I like them, they don't like me. And who was it that said a first date is like a job interview with drinks? I couldn't agree more.

To coin one of my favourite phrases, I just really don't know if I can be bothered anymore.

And the stupid thing about it, is that it is making me miss all my ex-boyfriends (well, not ALL my exs, let's be clear, but the good ones at least). It certainly makes me appreciate how easy it was with each of them -- especially in comparison to how not easy it is to start fresh. I never had to work at this so much before. It always just kinda found me.

So where does that leave me? The good ones don't require work but in London, if I don't work at it, I don't find the good ones.

I know where it leaves me.

Needing that holiday.