Monthly Archives: July 2008

Surviving on Leaves and Tree Sap

I think that the Brit’s reputation for bad food is undeserved.

The produce and meat here are AMAZING. Pricey, but fresh, organic, locally grown, and so beautiful. Of course, it has to look PERFECT per EU food standards.

It used to be that any “blemished, knobbly produce” were not allowed to be sold. The recent high food prices have caused this standard to be relaxed, provided the food is going to chopped up and not actually “seen”…

There are so many new things to try that I’ve been inspired to prepare things like pea and cucumber salad with feta and fresh mint, or savory Chicken Fennel Provençal for… you know, LUNCH.

The other day, I went to purchase fresh basil (BAY-sil) and found that for a few pence more, I could have my very own fresh basil plant and have basil for eternity…

Besides, I’ve always wanted to be the kind of cook who adds in stuff from my very own herb garden. Sure, perhaps I’ve maimed, drowned, or dehydrated every plant I’ve ever “nurtured” (even a cactus), but it’s worth a shot… and what better time to start one? New beginnings all around!!

I took my plant to the front of the store and waited my turn at the cashier. The elderly gentleman behind me in line pointed to my purchase and read the label aloud.

“Basil (BAH-zil). Why, that’s me! My name is Basil (BAH-zil)

I smiled sympathetically, the way you would towards any kind, but crazy person.

“So, what does one DO with basil exactly?” he asked as I paid the cashier.*

“The basil (BAY-sil)… I plan to cook with it,” I said.

“Cook with it?!” he asked as if I just admitted to eating puppies and tree bark.

“Uh-huh. I plan to add it into a meatloaf tonight” I said taking my bag and preparing to leave.

He pressed further, asking what a meatloaf was and how it was prepared. Then, he inquired on how I was enjoying living in England and my thoughts on the weather…

Eventually breaking the conversation. I bid him farewell by saying, “Well, it was certainly nice to meet you, Basil (BAH-zil). I hope I see you again and that you have a wonderful day.”

“Enjoy the… what was is again? Meat…loaf…”, he called out after me.

I guess it was a good thing I wasn’t there buying tampons…

————————————————————————————-

*Update: We get asked this quite a bit actually. I sent Mike out for maple syrup and frozen waffles for Avery a few days ago. The idea of freezing waffles seems to strike the locals as absolutely bizarre…

Why not make it from scratch each morning?

Yeeeessss, why don’t I… Because I have nothing else to do but cook, serve, and clean. Where do you think I live? Hampton Court? I’m inspired, but not THAT inspired.

Mike’s request for maple syrup was down right spat upon. “You want to eat… tree sap?” the clerk asked him.

Once Mike clarified that it comes from Canada, clerk seemed to slightly approve. He pointed Mike towards the “International Food” aisle and there it was with the chutneys and soy sauces.

2 Comments

Filed under Foodie, Misconceptions and Mishaps

A (proper) Greeting from London

Hello There!

No, I didn’t head to London and fall off the edge of the Earth. It only feels as if I have…

Sorry to have left you hanging, but we’ve been living without a working phone line or BROADBAND (!!) for the past week and half.

Something about having to run an entirely new phone line since the one already installed in our house is only for BT service and we needed one for Virgin Mobile…

“Arrrg! Whatever! JUST GIVE ME THE INTERNET!”, I kept yelling at them over my crappy cell phone reception… er, I mean MO-bile.

We’ve also been living without a TV, radio, or CD player, so there’s been little more than the IKEA catalog to keep us entertained in the wee, small hours of the morning when Avery thinks it’s time to be awake…

Our trip here was rather uneventful. Considering it was his first plane ride ever, Avery did AWESOME on both flights and the layover. Well, except that he (and therefore I) only slept for about about an hour and forty-five minutes… total. He resisted my every attempt to get him to nap only to doze off just as the plane was about to land. Of course.

When we arrived at London Heathrow, the poor little guy was just spent. By the time, we made it to the baggage claim, he was completely hysterical- crying, kicking, screaming, the whole show. At that point of our journey, I was ready to do the same, but believe it or not being completely overwhelmed with a tantruming toddler in tow does have its privileges…

Even though the line for immigration was about a hundred or so deep, a new line was opened just for us and all because I was pushing a stroller. I walked right up to the officer and proudly presented our official UK documentation.

When asked how long my son and I have been living in London, I said, “about half an hour…give or take”

Avery calmed down the minute we saw Mike waiting for us with open arms and lots of kisses. Come to think of it, I did too. We grabbed a taxi and headed home, where Avery finally got some much needed sleep.

Since then, Avery and I have recovered from our jet lag and we’re ready to resume our adventures as a family. Together again!

6 Comments

Filed under Family, Packing Up and Moving, Travel

The Longest Day… ever

For us, “moving day” has been sprawled over eight (yes, EIGHT) very, very long weeks!

It was “moving day” at the end of May when the furniture from our house in Dallas was put into storage.

The next day, my husband departed for London taking with him as much as he could carry. Meanwhile, my son and I moved in with my parents with the rest of it.

It was “moving day” yet again a month later when I had an address where I could ship the rest of our belonging…

My dad and I filled his Suburban to the brim with boxes and brought them to the shipping company’s warehouse. We watched as workmen compactly sealed it all together with industrial saran wrap (probably NOT its technical name) and sent it along its way. By the end of the week, it would be crated and aboard a ship crossing the ocean.

We hadn’t packed anything that could be deemed “irreplaceable”, but I still prayed that we would see our stuff again one day… like in about 6 to 8 weeks as was promised.

Finally, “moving day” comes once more as my son and I board our one-way flight to our new HOME this morning. Strangely, I’ve never had a one-way ticket anywhere. It just feels so… final.

Wish us luck. It will be his first flight ever, and of course, it’s overseas and about 15 hours long…

It will take a few days for us to get settled and who knows how long to get Internet service, but I’ll be sure to post again as soon as I can!

Home, Sweet Home

10 Comments

Filed under Packing Up and Moving, Room and Board

Wow! I’ve always wanted a Big Brother…

Have you heard the exciting news about the U.S. terrorist watch list? Apparently, it’s surpassed the 1 million mark

…and do you know who cannot get OFF that stupid list?

Umm… Only my husband, my father-in-law, and my son.

Now, tell me. Do these look like the faces of international terrorists?

They may not be perfect, but I can assure you, even if they were to combine their forces, these are definately NOT threats to our national security.

Nevertheless, we still can’t do e-check in and are usually subjected to some sort of search at every other airport. It’s a hassle, but we’ve just come to expect the occasional delays. In fact, it hasn’t even been that bad recently, but I still would not wish this upon anyone else…

And yet I gave my son the exact same name. Oops.

I knew all this before naming him after his father and grandfather. I blame “pregnancy brain” for my obvious lapse in judgment.

Of course, our son goes by his middle name, but it doesn’t matter. The name on his passport is the name on the watch list…

I’ll let you know if anyone attempts to interrogate my two-year-old on our way to London. I’m sure it will be a really effective move in making the world feel safe and cozy… HA!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

2 Comments

Filed under Family, Life In The States, Travel, Undiplomatic Behavior

A Spoonful of Sugar When the RenderFarm* Does Down

Chatting over the phone yesterday, Mike mentioned that he caused some sort of department-wide panic that afternoon…

Something about implementing code that realeased chaos and madness… I don’t know.

Basically, it was BAD, but he fixed it and all was well in the world again.

Mike went on to say that at his office mess-ups of that grandeur are repaid in baked good. As in the offending party bakes a cake (from scratch) for the entire department. Not a bad policy, if you ask me.

I suggested that he should bring apple pies instead of cake to work. I mean, being the newest American on staff, how fitting would that be?

“Wow, Honey! You would really bake homemade pies for me when you get here?” he asked.

“Umm, sure,” I feebly replied…

That means I only have two days to learn how to make a homemade All-American apple pie from scratch…

… and I call myself an American. Pfff.

* RenderFarm- a cluster of.. aw, hell. It’s a crapload of computers doing a crapload of stuff at the same time. It makes movies.

1 Comment

Filed under Marriage

We just moved…

… haha! Fooled you!

This week, change of address cards went out to our family and friends. The problem is, we haven’t actually moved… yet.

You see, those weren’t supposed to go out until after we left. Then, my dad happened upon my stack of addressed envelopes and promptly stamped and mailed them for me. My dad is the best… and scarily, even more efficient than I am.

It was all very innocent, but I’m still feeling like a fraud.

We actually move in next week once the owners of the house leave for their own crazy overseas adventure…

…moving to Australia.

As you can imagine, we’re very understanding of one another’s situation…

Like us, they’re a young family with a toddler and the wife has taken it upon herself to provide with all sorts of helpful information- everything from where to find a good pizza and a great doctor, to getting in good with the local moms’ group.

I only wish I could do the same for her… except I know even shamefully less about Australia than I do about the UK.

5 Comments

Filed under Packing Up and Moving

Great Britian: Permission Slips Required

… and just as we were starting to wear out our welcome at my folks, low and behold…

Our visas for the UK arrived! Hip-Hip-Hooray!

I was contacted by the British Embassy a few more times since the last time I mentioned it here.

Once, it was to ask for twelve more dollars in order to overnight our documents back to us. It was a several hundred to apply for the visas in the first place but, “Yes. Fine. Whatever”.

Another was to request a notarized letter granting my permission to allow my two-year-old son to join my husband (his father!!!) in the UK. Never mind that I will also be joining my husband in the UK as well and will obviously be traveling with our son…. because, again, he’s TWO.

I ask you, who would put a toddler on a nine and a half hour trans-Atlantic flight by himself? WHO?!

Well, apparently enough people that a very specific protocol was developed to handle such a situation.

But seriously… I want names. I want to meet them, so I can know exactly who I’m judging. Hummph!

1 Comment

Filed under Undiplomatic Behavior