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...


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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...


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:


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!


  • 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.

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.