Sunday, November 30, 2008

I become an exhibitor

I have put some of my knowledge from my previous job about tradeshows and exhibitions to work....I have become an exhibitor. A small time, little table top exhibitor, but one at a "show", all the same. 
For the past three weekends, Scott has willingly accompanied me to attend three Christmas Craft Fayres (spelled as they do here), where I have started to sell my "goods" that I have been making. I am currently selling little baby outfits, baby muslins (burp cloths), baby bibs, children's hair bows, tooth fairy cushions (pillows), and Christmas stockings. I have even launched a little website (still under construction) - 
At my first craft fayre, at my "booth."
The first fayre was really my most successful one and the other two were just ok. I enjoy making the gift items so I may try my hand at a few more fayres in the spring, but I hope that I have learned a bit more in what to look for when researching the fayre, audience, etc. I am not sure if I will be able to turn this little hobby into a business here, but at least it is something to keep me occupied at the moment and I enjoy doing it which is important. 
Here are some of the items I have been selling at these fayres:
A little snow girl onesie outfit. 
Baby muslins in packages of two. 
Giraffe baby outfit. 
An elephant baby outfit wrapped up after someone purchased it. 
Tooth Fairy Cushions (door pillows).
Christmas tree baby outfit.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day and pumpkin pies

Today is obviously Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., and we are both are feeling a bit like the day will just pass us by because we have not seen any of the build up here toward the holiday. We celebrated turkey day early last Sunday with the American Club here which was nice so we did get to eat a bit of turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole and pie. Even though we are not celebrating the day with a big thanksgiving feast, I did my fair share of baking for the holiday last night. Two of the other American wives have discovered that I am a baker and both of them are not. So, I made 4 pumpkin pies for one family last night (Her daughter's school is having an american thanksgiving celebration in her honor) and chocolate chip pecan pie bars for the other family who will have a feast tonight.

Like a good wife, I also baked pumpkin pie bars for Scott to bring in to his co-workers today. Many of them have been asking Scott if we will have a big feast tonight and they are most interested in if we will be eating pumpkin pie. Most of them have never had pumpkin pie, and their main knowledge about pumpkin pie comes from seeing it on tv on FRIENDS. (funny) I can't wait to hear the reports on what they think of the pie....

Wishing everyone in the US a Happy Thanksgiving today! Have some turkey and stuffing for both of us! 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Our car was vandalized and broken into a few weeks ago. I was preparing to load up the car to attend my first craft show when I looked up and found the passenger's side window completely bashed in. The burglars went into our glove box and found NOTHING.....
But they left us with a big MESS!!!

On the inside of the car, glass shards were everywhere - notice the pile of glass on the floor of the passenger's side.
Initially, the window was partially smashed in, but rest was about to fall out.  
After I shut the side door, more of the glass fell out of the sounded like someone was walking on candy canes as the glass fell out of the window.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Cars backing in and lining up to deposit their waste at the TIP....
and please note, there is this sign on premise:
Rubbish...something very central to life in England.  The weather is rubbish.   The economy...rubbish.  National Cricket and Rugby teams...yep, rubbish.   The thing about rubbish though that is so striking?  Well, for starters, you put the rubbish in the bin.

There are a few other American families over here with my company who we have gotten to know, one of which who just moved from The Netherlands. Their children attended a British School in Amsterdam and upon moving to the UK, naturally assumed little English accents. After dinner one night, and before drinks, we were cleaning up.  One of the little tikes walked up to me and asked, "Excuse me please, I need to put my rubbish in the bin.  Do you know I could find the bin?"  
Ok...the bin.  Simple differences in language, like the boot or the bonnet.  Fine, then.  We throw our rubbish in the bin...but then what?

Well in our town, there are strict rules, regulations, schedules, rituals, etc regarding rubbish collection....and we still have not figured it out.  There is home collection of rubbish.  One must place his "rubbish which cannot be recycled" in a specially marked plastic bag in front of one's house on the appropriate day.  Our day is Thursday...I think.  So on Wednesday night, or Thursday morning, we take the rubbish from the bin, place it in a plastic bag, and pop it out on the curb....simple right?

We received a letter stating that we are putting out our the rubbish too early.  Please do not do it again, or you will be fined...yikes!  What a place.
Not to worry, though.  In England, you have options to avoid fines for putting out rubbish. Whilst we do put out our rubbish on a weekly basis, attempting to comply with the English rules, we also partake in a weekly English ritual....we visit the TIP.

The TIP might be one of the strangest things we have encountered so far in the UK.  The TIP is the dump....for obvious things like your garbage, recycling plastic and glass (green, clear, brown separate), cardboard, but there's more.  There are places for more exotic items like Televisions, Freezers, Cooking Oils, Batteries, Clothing (clean please) all represented with separate signs, containers, and personnel.  On the weekends, much of our town collects their own rubbish and recycling, along with the contents of their basements, back gardens, and craft rooms, and they load up their cars, and spend a chunk of the afternoon walking from one dumpster to another to recycle these items.  

It was a strange concept to us at first but after many visits to the TIP, we frequently comment about how recycling is much more a part of life here than it ever was for us in the U.S. We hope though, that we are doing our part now, to help the environment a bit more than we were before. 
One family bringing their trailer full of rubbish to deposit at the TIP. 
The bottle bank - separated by glass color.
Scott diligently sorting the glass bottles to make the correct bottle bank deposits.
The massive bins of various types of rubbish.
The electronic and engine oil depository section of the TIP.
The fridge & freezer section of the TIP. 
Two signs posted just beyond the huge bins for rubbish. 17,500 tonnes of waste is a LOT of waste!
A good sign to see to reinforce that even though this process takes time to do, it does help eliminate rubbish for future residents of this earth. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

We'd rather be in Kazakhstan....

Unfortunately I am not able to post a picture (which would explain everything without words) because I believe my cord to connect my camera to my computer was stolen in our recent house robbery.....grrr....

Today I woke up very excited because I exhibited at my first Craft Fayre which was taking place in our town. I was going to have Scott drop me off at the town hall so I could set up my table and then he was going to walk into town and join me later.
When I went to our car this morning (parked out on our street as we always do), I put two bags of items in the back seat and then went to place a bag in the front seat.....but hesitated for a minute because I noticed pieces of glass in the driver's seat. Odd, I thought. I then looked up and realized the entire passenger's side window had been bashed in. There was glass everywhere! Yes, our car has now been broken into and it appears that the robbers were looking for a GPS system......funny, did they not remember that they stole that from our house last week? Luckily, there was nothing to take in our car. Sorry fools.

Scott and I are ready to move to Kazakhstan instead of this "idyllic" English town. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happenings come in 3's?

The saying is that bad things happen in threes, and I surely hope if that is the case because then it means we should be done with our streak of bad luck (for a while let's hope!).

Last week was a bit of a trying one for both of us who are currently separated by the pond in between. The weekend before last, we were in Chicago for the wedding of our friends Chris & Shelley (post to come later I promise!), and we were able to tie in a visit with our grandparents and families in the suburbs while we were there. Scott flew back to England on Monday and I drove back to St. Louis with my mom so I could stay with my parents for a week to visit. Thankfully, I was still back in the US, but sadly, I was back in the Chicago area again because my grandpa died on Thursday of last week. He was a great man and lived a long life (89! see previous post) but was in a lot of pain at the end, so it was a bit of a blessing to not see him suffer anymore.

At the time, little did I know that Scott was facing his own set of troubles in England on Thursday when he woke up as well.....Wednesday night our house in England was broken in to and robbed. Scott LUCKILY slept through the entire incident and the robbers did not come upstairs to take anything or harm him. For the jet-lag he had that made him sleep very soundly, I am extremely thankful. However, the fact that our house was broken in to and robbed has been quite concerning and disturbing. There is a police investigation going on, so I will not go into too many details about the crime, but they stole Scott's work laptop, our GPS navigation system, and our two packed suitcases that Scott had just brought back with him from our trip to the US. While the electronics were worth more, I was of course upset about the two suitcases they stole that were filled with some clothes, but were mostly filled with the american goods of "loot" that we stocked up on at Target, the grocery store, etc. I just hope the robbers were appauled to find the bags of Reese Pieces, boxes of Graham Crackers, Ziploc Bags, Cheez-its, razors, underwear, socks and more when they opened up these two suitcases after they left our house! I am sure they thought they would find some expensive belongings in there and they ended up with lots of American food!

Our landlords in England have been very accomodating and helpful and have outfitted the house with a new security system, motion sensored lights and all new locks, so we feel that the house should be in better shape with these new security measures. The police also think it was an isolated incident, so let's hope all stays calm from here on out...
Of course, just when Scott thought everything was past him with our house, the entire heating system in our England house decided to crap out completely on Thursday afternoon! No hot water or heat, Scott packed a bag and gratefully took up residence for an evening at another American family's house.

It's been a crazy few days on either side of the pond for us, but hopefully this means that things will ONLY get better from here. I am feeling a bit luke warm about returning to England tomorrow due to all of these woes but do miss being away from my husband, so I know I will be fine once I am back there...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bernard Donald Schuster, 1919 - 2008

Yesterday I lost my last remaining grandparent, my grandfather, affectionately known to me as "Gramps." He lived a long, good life to the age of 89 and died in a suburb just outside of Chicago. I was so fortunate to have him around, and live close by to him for as long as I did and was glad to have just visited with him last weekend since I am back in the US for a visit. For the years that I had him in my life, I could not be more grateful for such a gift. My sister, Carrie, my cousin, Cory, and I were all lucky enough to share him as our grandfather and each loved him for different lessons he taught us and stories he shared with us along the way.

Bernie, as he was known to others, had a strong wit and a dry sense of humor about him. He kept his sharp mind until the very end and used it to keep all of his caretakers on their toes in his last few years. He could sniff a faker out from the crowd, including knowing when the care center that he lived in for the last few months had tried to pass off bran cereal with added raisins in it to him as the true raisin bran cereal, instead of the "real" Kellogg's brand Raisin Bran cereal. As soon as he would taste the "fake" cereal, he would surely inform the management of his findings!

In his earlier years, he was an accountant by trade, but a tremendously skilled wood-worker, gardener, active masonic member, and family man at leisure. As a young child, my sister and I befitted from the MANY hand-crafted beautiful gifts he made us, including stunning doll chests and wardrobes, little table and chair sets, wooden games, and even a crib that we slept in as babies. The basement of his house was his wood shop and one that was always impeccably organized and methodically laid out. His organization and skills carried over into his backyard, where each year he would transform the back third of his yard into a fruitful and delicious vegetable garden. Although we lived in St. Louis and he in Indiana, we still benefited from these fresh vegetables that would melt in our mouths upon arrival, the day after he would pick them and then ship them to us via UPS.

Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Bernie entered the army air force after high school and served in World War II as a glider test pilot. His experience in the army air-force actually was one that was of interest to an author in the 1990s and so a book, SILENT ONES, was written about such experiences, and Bernie's troop was featured in it. After the war, he met my grandmother, Martha, via the phone, when she was a receptionist and he was placing a call to order concrete from her company. They married soon after, and were blessed with two daughters, and they built a simple yet rewarding life as a family in a town just outside of Chicago.

Gramps was full of stories, good humor, and more patience than I will ever know. I obviously knew him only in his older years, but loved the stories he would tell me of his experiences at all ages. I watched him age gracefully and his complaints about life were really few and far between. All who knew him, know he was a respectable, caring, witty, yet private man, who lived as long as he was able. I love him dearly and know he is in a much more comfortable place but will surely miss him.

My maternal grandparents (Granny & Gramps) and my parents with me at my baptism.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Halloween Candy...a few days late

Halloween is not as big of a deal in England as it is in the US.  We were actually back in Chicago for Halloween this year, as Scott was in a wedding on November 1st. Before we left for our trip back to the US, I did buy two bags of candy since I seemed to be craving Halloween candy just due to the time of year.

First, the selection of candy in England is not as vast as it is in the US. Choices of the "fun size" candy bars came in 3 varieties at our local grocery - Milky Way, Mars, and Twix. So, I purchased two bags (it was a 2 for one special price): Milky Way and Mars.
 Here is the confusing part - The Milky Way bars are actually what we know in the US as 3 Musketeers....
And MARS bars, are actually what we know as Milky Way Bars......
I just wonder which country has it right? And why can't the candy companies keep the candy bar names consistent throughout the world????