Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blog Tag!

Well, color me excited- I've been tagged by none other that Mrs. Patton herself for an exciting game of blog tag. Get ready for probably more than you ever wanted to know about yours-truly.

These are the "rules"... 
1. The first rule is to post these rules. (Check.) 
2. Post a photo of yourself and 11 things about yourself/your life. (Photo on the sidebar, you can live with that, right?) 
3. Answer the questions set for you in the original post. (Check.) 
4. Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them. (I'm breaking this rule. Anyone who I would tag has already been tagged.).

11 Autobiographical Points
1. Even though I wasn't born there, I will always call Texas home.
2. I met my husband on the internet. No, it wasn't on E-Harmony and yes, it freaked my parents out a little.
3. I planned my whole wedding by email with a wedding planner I'd never met.
4. My mom is an insanely gifted seamstress. I wish I made her teach me everything she knows,  but I didn't. I'm guessing she gets a lot of enjoyment from my frantic sewing project emails.
5. Now that I live closer to the Arctic Circle, fewer people ask me if I'm a natural blonde. I am, but I secretly want to be a redhead. 
6. I have a major addiction to Greek yogurt. And Nutella. But not together.
7. My favorite part of BBC programming? The tranquil sound effects they play when there is downtime between shows.
8. It took me a long time to realize that here, pants=underwear. Now I know why the ladies at the dry cleaner always laughed at me when I asked to pick up my husband's pants.
9. We're having our first baby. It will allegedly be here in July. Hooray!

10. The child compels me to eat oranges and lots of foods with tomatoes. He/she hates chicken.
11. I make my own laundry detergent. It's awesome.

And now for Grace's questions:

1. Age: I have been alive for a quarter of a century. 
2. Dream job?: I'm living the dream. I don't get paid in cash-money, but I live in a beautiful place, I get to cook/bake whenever I want for a husband whom I adore, and I have lots of time to read. Though the last part will probably change come July.
3. Favorite blog: tough call! I don't know that I have a favorite, really…but I'm a big fan of the ladies-who-keep-it-real-blog variety.
4. Favorite recipe: mmmm….chicken and biscuits. My mom used to make it when I was growing up and holy cannoli, it's my favorite. It's basically kind of like chicken pot pie, but instead of in a pie shell, you put the chicken mixture in a baking dish and top it with homemade biscuits. Not diet food, at all.
5.  Favorite book: CS Lewis' Space Trilogy. But I guess that's three books...
6. One piece or two piece swimsuit: one piece. always. I'm not comfortable wearing my underwear in public, ergo not comfortable in a two-piece. 
7. Most embarrassing moment: Does all of junior high and high school count?
8. Pet(s) & names?: Caesar. He's a Bichon Frise that now lives with my parents. I miss him so much!!!
I didn't have the heart to ship him as animal cargo. Does that face look like cargo to you?!

9. Specific makeup item I can't live without: I'm really loving Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer. It has more color than a typical tinted moisturizer, but isn't as serious as a foundation and is definitely not as fussy to put on.  And I need mascara recommendations, so bring 'em on!
10. Favorite song of the moment: It's not a new song, but I still love it.

11. Weekend plans: We're moving on Saturday, so I'm unpacking…. and if I finish, we'll go party in the new village. And by party, I of course mean get mediocre take-out and $7.50 pint of Ben and Jerry's and call it a day.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Village Upgrade

Our three hour tour of uber-outer-pretty-much-not-London was almost not worth the 7-ish hours we spent traveling there and back. I say almost because while the Secret Agent was working away,  I spent my three hours eating tasty artisanal bread sandwiches and cake. Lots of cake. And cake and tasty bread are always worth it. Especially when it's bread like this…

I should've photographed the cake, but it was looooooong gone before that even crossed my mind. Sorry, maybe next time.

In other news, we here in the Village have a very busy week ahead of us. The Secret Agent will be busy continuing to defend the Free World and I will be packing up our starter apartment because we are moving to a new village!

Major village upgrade in the works, people. Not only are we moving to a much nicer + prettier village,  but we are also getting this charming little cottage! 

….with a garden!
….and a garage!
….and a functioning hot water heater!
….no dishwasher, but hey, it's the Village. Pick your battles.

Lots of packing for me and more stories, reflections and excellent iPhone photography headed your way.

Friday, March 09, 2012

I Got 99 Problems but Finding a Coffee Shop Ain't One

In our little town, there really aren't many, shall we say, "retail opportunities". It is a village after all, so I guess you wouldn't really expect that. However, I am continually amazed at the plethora of very-particular specialty shops. For example, on the high street (the main road) tucked between the old-lady fashion emporia and charity shops, there is:
  • a hat maker. You know, silly hats for weddings? Fascinators? They've got 'em.
  • a "sheep shop". As far as I can tell, they sell yarn and knitting paraphernalia. 
  • a bicycle shop. But they only sell bikes for kids and uber-fancy Tour-de-France types of bikes that cost many thousands of dollars. Go figure.
  • a traditional Chinese medicine shop. This one really confuses me since the only Asian person I've seen here is the one who runs this shop. I haven't seen any hippies either.

I often wonder how they stay open. Even though we live in a small town in the boonies, it is Britain and that means exorbitant property prices and equally high rents. Somehow they manage, and I guess if I ever take up knitting or silly hat wearing or professional cycle racing, I'll be in good shape. 

Every single other shop in this village is a coffee shop. I'm not joking. There are TONS of coffee shops and they are always packed. I find this especially peculiar since nobody here really likes coffee. As you probably know, this is a tea nation. People will openly tell you that they don't like coffee. Generally speaking, if you ask for coffee at a restaurant, many places will serve you funky instant Nescafe (It's gross. Don't try it.). So why then, are every single one of the coffee shops rammed full of people drinking big cups of coffee and noshing on "American Style Muffins"?

My theory is this: Often times it is cold. It is also often raining. People like to get out of the cold and rain, so into the coffee shops they go. Honestly, the patrons would probably prefer tea but feel ripped off being charged £2 for something they can make for almost free at home, so they order something fancy instead (for £3 or more). 

I think this theory is probably true. I am even more convinced that it's true since I have observed the patrons of said coffee shops almost never ordering real coffee, but hot chocolate or half-strength mochas and cappuccinos instead. It makes much more sense now. However, I am still very curious as to where these people get their money for expensive non-coffee when none of them seem to be gainfully employed, but that's a story for another day.

The Secret Agent informs me that we are traveling to London tomorrow. I was very excited at this prospect since I've been itching for a good wander around town, some museum viewing, and a decent meal out. He then crushed my hopes by telling me that we won't make it to inner London at all, but instead will remain in the suburbs for him to do some work. This means I will get limited wandering and no museums. We'll probably eat sandwiches on the train.

A happy weekend to all!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

I'm Not Walking in the Rain! or, How I Learned to Drive in Britain

It is probably a little unnecessary to begin this post by writing about how much Americans love their cars, but it's true. I love to drive. I love my car. You probably do too! Cars mean freedom and you know how we Americans feel about our freedom.

Before my move, the Secret Agent and I discussed how we would be a one car family. I found this very upsetting. In my defense, it takes a little bit of living here to realize just how eye-wateringly expensive it is to operate a vehicle between the cost of the car (think how much you would pay in dollars, then increase that by 50%, then add 20% sales tax), road tax, insurance, mandatory vehicle testing and inspections and $9.50/gallon gas.

"BUT YOU DRIVE TO WORK!!!!" I would cry. "How will I go places when you are gooooonnnnnnnnneeee??!!!"

I can assure you that these complaints were met with little sympathy and with replies like, "you can walk" or "there's a bus that goes there". When I explained to him just how much it rained in England/how am I supposed to walk, he promptly told me to bring an umbrella. AN UMBRELLA. Heartless man. I kid; he had a point. Needless to say I've gotten every penny's worth of use out of the Kate Spade wellies I invested in before I came.

So in the weeks leading up to our wedding, in an attempt to grant me some of my lost freedom of mobility, the Secret Agent made it his mission to teach me how to drive a stick***.  I learned to drive a manual with my left hand on the wrong side of the road in tiny villages with winding, narrow streets and hills and the world's-tiniest-roundabouts and country lanes lined with hedgerows. It probably would've been a little bit easier if the car we drove wasn't a hand-me-down, French-engineered jalopy whose clutch had to be kicked, stick hand to be manhandled, and occasionally wouldn't reverse, but we got there in the end. 

It got a little more complicated when we tried to add me to the insurance policy and they flat out refused to believe/their computers couldn't compute someone my age who has held a driving license for ten years. 

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, that got sorted, and then I was free to practice and sign up for my not one-but-two driving tests! Because, ya know, I obviously don't know how to operate a vehicle safely if I've been driving for a decade. More on that later.

***I can now attest that taking on a project of such magnitude two weeks pre-wedding is probably not the greatest idea.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Welcome to the Village

I've spent my entire life living in or near major cities. I've never lived more than a ten minute drive from a Target or a mall or more than an hour away from an airport. Never, ever, ever in my life did I ever imagine that I would live in the country- in another country- in England. That all changed when I said "yes" to my then-boyfriend's proposal. Now, we live in a seaside village in the rural north of England.   Before I came here, no one told me that-

  • if you run out of ibuprofen and want to take something for your headache before bed…sorry! The pharmacy closes at 5:30.
  • if traffic made you late, it's probably because you were stuck behind a tractor.
  • if you're getting ready for the day, it probably isn't in the bathroom. There aren't any electrical outlets in there and there's a window where the mirror should be behind the sink. That's a tough one.


  • if you're too lazy to bake your own homemade bread, good news! There's fifth generation baker down the street. She'll hook you up.
  • if you fancy a drink at 11am, that's ok. The pub is open! They might even serve breakfast. No one will bat an eye if you bring your dog, or your baby for that matter.
  • if you really need to get out of town, there's a train station nearby. London is never more than five hours away (except for Scottish Highlands and Isles, Scilly, and the Isle of Man-but that's a typical British exclusion.)

Village life! It's simultaneously charming, quaint, frustrating, and hilarious… and I wouldn't have it any other way. But I wouldn't complain if they built a Target nearby either.