Friday, November 28, 2008

Keeping with Non-Tradition

H and A made homemade Quiche Lorraine for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Internet Grocery Shopping Gets the Best of Me...Again

These should really be called "baby" sweet potatoes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

I was doing the grocery shopping online and asked A if she wanted turkey for Thanksgiving and her answer very quickly was “no”. With her in school, our holiday will be non-traditional, which as I think about it, non-traditional has almost become our tradition over the years. Our first Thanksgiving was in Germany where we celebrated with our military friends. I remember calling my mom at what was probably five o’clock in the morning U.S. time to ask her how to make gravy. She didn’t sound pleased. One year we decided to go off to a bed and breakfast that had advertised a gourmet Thanksgiving meal. In reality it was the three of us and the owners sitting over a Publix grocery store Thanksgiving meal, transported back in time when racist and sexist comments seemed to be acceptable. Another year we travelled to South Dakota to be with H’s mom. After a few hours of “roasting”, we realized the oven had gone completely cold and so H stood out on the deck of her house and cooked a turkey on the gas grill in -5F degree weather.

As I listen to A try and convince H in the other room that as an American, she should be able to take the day off of school tomorrow, I gotta smile. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Oui, Nous Poss├ędons une Voiture

With the lease ending on the gigantic car I was driving, we were looking for a car. I would actually be quite happy not having a car and just continuing to take public transport but with two exceptions. First, I would not be able to take A to her friend’s houses like I did last week and I don’t want to be that parent that burdens the others by not driving. And second, the buses are never predictable. While it takes me approximately ten minutes to drive home from work, public transport makes the journey about an hour with the wishing and hoping and waiting that the bus shows up. I have been taking the train home which again is about an hour due to a change I have to make, but at least it’s on schedule. Let me also add for you Americans who take parking for granted, you pretty much have to pay to park everywhere here except your own driveway (and in the end that ain’t free either, right?). Therefore, even when we did have a car, I would walk to as much as possible because it’s in my blood that unless I’m downtown in an American city, I’m not paying for parking!

We found something we liked and made the purchase yesterday. I bought it on my debit card, which was strange and also liberating. I was happy we found an automatic in our price range. I feel the need to explain to my work colleagues when we get into this debate that I CAN drive a manual, but in nothing but stop and go traffic as it is here, I wouldn’t enjoy driving one.

So here’s a pic of our ice-covered Renault. The drive home from London was as horrific as I expected since we got lost. The first thing I need to buy is an ice scraper!

Autumn Sky


This kitten was following me back to the office a few weeks ago. Very affectionate so I was able to look at his name on his tag, Stilton. What a great English name for a cat.

Oxford Street is Ready for Christmas

My buddy R was in town a few weeks ago and I met him after work in London for dinner with some work colleagues. I hadn't realized that it was the same night that Oxford Street turned on their Christmas lights. It was festive and crowded!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Where Did November Go?

I left work on time Wednesday for the first time in a very long time and I realized how much I’ve been consumed with it lately. Walking down the high street there was evidence that life has gone on around me and all the shops are decorated with Christmas splendor, hoping to lure in shoppers when all anyone is hearing about is the “credit crunch”.

I feel lately like I’m caught in the cultural divide at work. I was thinking when I was walking home the other day that if I had to summarize American culture into one word I would say reckless, with all of the good and the bad that comes with that word. If I had to summarize English culture into one word it would be cautious, and all of the good and the bad that comes with that word. I’m talking work here, and so sometimes the two colliding can be frustrating.

I was chatting with my friend M last week and he was asking what our Thanksgiving plans were. I told him that since A had school on Thursday it would probably be minimal. His response was something like “wow, you do live in another country!” Hahaha. I am just happy to be with my family on this holiday since last year we were separated. To be with the people who love you, even when sometimes you’re not so lovable, that’s the greatest gift in the world.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Let's Slumber! Let's Party!

A got an invite to her first slumber party tonight. She was telling me a little bit about the agenda for the evening and I smiled when I learned that Truth or Dare is universal.

Ah, Technology

Last Monday night I had the great privilege of covering a The Killers concert at the Royal Albert Hall. The journalists like to call The Killers the most British band from America. The show was broadcast over BBC radio which made it extra fun because my buddy K could listen to it live with me over the internet as we texted our comments back and forth about each song. It was the night before the big election so as I walked out feeling proud that four Americans from Las Vegas just had a full house on their feet jumping and singing along, I was hoping my American high would last through the next day, and it did.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bus Ride to Leith

This guy was on the bus to Leith. A fell in love with him.

Trip to Leith

If anyone has ever read the book or seen the film Trainspotting, you have heard of Leith. It’s the port of Edinburgh and from everything I have read, it has cleaned up quite a bit from what it was when Irvine Welsh wrote about it. We took a bus ride over and had breakfast. H had the Scottish Breakfast which had venison sausage, haggis, and black pudding. I tried the black pudding and thought it was foul. I settled for my all time favorite breakfast, Eggs Benedict.

Hotel in Edinburgh

Our hotel gave every guest a rubber duck.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dinner at Maison Bleue

Underground Edinburgh

Since it was Halloween when we were in Edinburgh and A was lamenting about missing any kind of celebration, I went in search of something spooky. We chose a tour of the underground vaults in Edinburgh. On this particular tour, the tour guide told us ghost stories, and in the pitch black of the vaults, I must admit, it freaked me out a little. H pointed out afterwards that although the tour guide said that they didn’t resort to such scare tactics as having people jump out and scare us, she didn’t have any problems screaming at the top of her lungs to scare us. At one point early in the tour, she was telling a story that culminated in her blood-curdling scream which caused me (and only me) to scream just as loud, which had A in hysterics afterwards. I was a bit embarrassed. I wanted to stay in the dark and avoid everyone laughing at me for getting so scared. While it was slightly cheesy, it was a lot of fun, and A’s favorite part of our trip. Be sure to check out this Wikipedia link which gives a brief history of the vaults.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Culinary Treats in Edinburgh

Everyone always thinks of haggis when they think of food in Scotland so we had to try it. Both H and I didn’t want to do too much investigating ahead of time to find out exactly what it was but here is a link if you’d like to know more. As you can see from the picture we shared a plate of haggis, neeps (turnips), and tatties (potatoes), and we didn’t hate it. A did though.

Later in the afternoon we stopped at a chip shop so A could get some chips and we shared a battered Mars bar. H thought it ruined everything good about a Mars bar. I didn’t hate it but never need to eat it again.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Samhuinn Fire Festival

On Halloween Night, A and I went back out to watch the Samhuinn Fire Festival procession down from Edinburgh castle. What is Samhuinn? It is a festival at the end of the harvest season. Some were taking it way seriously and some seemed to be enjoying a boozy night out with body paint. It was a a lot of fun to watch, but since the fire torches provided the only light, my pics aren't that great.

The Carpet Doesn't Match the Drapes

So did I mention that it was cold in Edinburgh and also Halloween? I don’t know what got into Pamela Anderson but she was walking down The Royal Mile in just her bathing suit.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Interactions Today

When I left the house this morning my next door number excitedly swung open the door to ask what I thought of the results. She said they had been up most of the night watching the coverage. She said she never thought that there would ever be a black President in the United States. She was elated.

After I got to work I headed to the local newsstand to pick up some newspapers and stopped at the local Starbucks to get a coffee. The barista who knows me from my occasional visits asked me what I thought of the results. While we were both smiling, we got into a bit of an argument which left a line of patrons behind me until I finally said to him, “Hey, I come into an American coffee house, I would at least think I wouldn’t get hassled. Here’s my money, give me my celebratory latte!”

It has really been exciting hearing from my friends in the U.S. what the experience was like voting yesterday. Thank you for sharing!

UK Coverage

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Day of Destiny

The Daily Mail has this for one of its headlines:

America's Day of Destiny: Barack Obama just hours away from becoming first black President

We both voted absentee but I wish we were there today. We have the DVR set to record both the BBC and CNN election coverage that begins at 11:30pm our time tonight.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

More Pics from the National Museum of Scotland

What Will We All Enjoy?

Sometimes I envy those families that seem to think with one mind. In our family there are three opposing viewpoints that sometimes meet up with one another, never all three at the same time. So how would we spend our only full day in Edinburgh on Friday? I believe we were able to find a good mixture. Knowing that A would be bored going on the castle tour, we went up to the Castle Esplanade to take pics and see the beautiful view. We did a little shopping and also visited the National Museum of Scotland. Because it was so cold, we also stopped for the occasional hot beverage which is always served with the most perfect bite-sized piece of shortbread.

At some point, we all ruffle each other’s feathers, and I was feeling bad about that until we sat down for lunch and I saw a mom of two teenaged sons go off on them about their behavior. I had to smile, okay we are normal.

Here’s A rockin her tartan print dress as she takes a picture from the Castle Esplanade. I never feel as much like my mother as when I have to tell A to put some clothes on because it’s too cold for what she’s wearing. She had to wear her new dress despite the jeans, hoodie, and winter coat over it and the turtleneck under it.

Beautiful Edinburgh

It was freezing in Edinburgh this weekend, but also mostly clear. I don’t think my pictures quite capture the beauty of the city though. There are a lot of winding streets, interesting alleyways, and of course, Edinburgh Castle.

Our Journey Begins

Funny, I have been in and out of King’s Cross Station in London a few times and never noticed Platform 9 ¾. It’s very appropriate since we were travelling to Edinburgh, where JK Rowling spent her time in coffee shops writing the first book. We passed a place that proudly states that she spent time there writing. But I hear that many coffee shops claim this.