Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Envy

While many of our friends up and down the east coast in the US are being blanketed with snow, we experienced a VERY small snowfall yesterday. The past few days have seen a few minutes here and there of snow in our part of the UK. The area south of London got 5 inches of snow on Friday and caused chaos in their area. The snow, coupled with the Eurostar's shut down over the weekend with 5 trains and hundreds of passengers getting stuck in the chunnel for over 12 hours, has caused complete mayhem for many holiday travelers in the UK.

In comparison, we feel fortunate to only have seen a dusting of snow in our area....
While I do NOT miss any part of the traffic or travel mayhem that comes with a big snow storm (especially about this time of the year), I do have to say I have had a bit of snow envy as I have watched photos pop up of friends and their children frolicking in the snow back in the US. Sometimes there is nothing better than being forced to spend a day at home, with a cup of hot chocolate in hand, and watch the snow pile up around you....

Now, ask me about this feeling once we are back in Chicago and are knee-deep again in snow, trying to dig our cars out from underneath the white stuff ---- and I will probably retract any sentiment about wishing I were in a more snowy place right now....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tis the season for baking...

I spent time this week baking up a holiday sugar high....
Per Scott's request, I made four large trays of cookies for him to bring into his office mates as a holiday sweet treat for all to share. Then, for each of his staff members and other colleagues from his department, I made "goodie bags" filled with bread, hot fudge sauce, and more holiday sweets. I made similar bags of goodies last year for his work colleagues and apparently they were a hit, as Scott's boss asked him a few weeks ago if his "Mrs" would be making the delicious holiday treats again this year? At least I am glad to know people enjoy the goodies! 

It does seem that holiday baking is not as big of a tradition here as it is in the US. In the US I used to receive many homemade goodies from friends and co-workers. Here, however, it seems the holiday card and maybe some liquor is more appropriate. Scott has been coming home with cards from all of his co-workers on a daily basis which have been addressed to both of us, wishing us a Happy Christmas. Additionally, our neighbors have actually walked over cards, rung the doorbell, and hand delivered these Christmas cards to us. In the US, most people would typically just mail their cards. I am not sure if this is a common UK tradition, but it seems more prevalent to us this year, now that we know more local people. 
The chocolate mint cookies as they were cooling with the mint/chocolate frosting.
Snickerdoodle cookies coming straight out of the oven. 
Orange almond poppyseed bread with its orange glaze. 
Two trays of fudge, peanut butter kiss cookies, and toffee bar cookies ready for Scott to take into his office. Funny enough, the peanut butter kiss cookies were the last cookies to be eaten! Must be a cultural difference since they are a favorite American cookie! 
Jars of Hot Fudge sauce ready for goodie bags.
Holiday cookies/sweets for the holiday bags.
The poppyseed bread wrapped up and ready to be put in the holiday bags. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Snap Happy Holiday Decor

As our Christmas gift to one another this year, Scott & I decided to invest in a nice camera this year. So this weekend we purchased our new digital SLR camera and spent most of Sunday reading the user manual and testing the camera out by taking photos of everything and anything around our house. I thought the Christmas decor photos might be the only ones worth sharing on here! Hope your home is decorated for the season as well! 
A few of our new Czech Santa nesting dolls lined up on our windowsill that we purchased last weekend while in Prague. 
Our stockings are hung by our chimney with care. 
Not quite more Christmas decor, but more projects I have been working on lately...Christmas bibs for some little ones. I like these two designs the most. 

Friday, November 27, 2009

Virtual Holidays

Being far away from our family has gotten much easier with modern technology, most importantly with FREE technology, namely Skype. Yesterday while both sides of our family were gathered in different cities, we were able to "see" them all via computer.
Skype is great and we use it often with our parents. Yesterday on Thanksgiving we were able to skype with Scott's Grandmother too and we gave her a virtual tour of our house. My parents were with our dear family friends so we skyped with all of them as they were preparing their dinner. It's always nice to see someone in person, but skype has really made us feel a lot closer to our families while being far away. 
My Mom & Dad, Ray & Claire and Amy, all in the US, skyping with us in the UK. What amazing technology!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

We are Thankful

Even though we are not close to our family and dear friends this Thanksgiving, we are still very thankful for many things. Our health, our family members' health, dear friends, food to eat, shelter, and many more blessings....but we are VERY thankful to be Americans who celebrate Thanksgiving regardless of location!  I know I've probably posted something along these lines before, but having this experience over here has been wonderful in SO many ways and we are grateful for the time here, but overall it makes us very thankful to be Americans and all of the opportunities that come with that privilege

It felt very strange to work today and to have things moving along as business as usual....and knowing that everyone back home was spending the morning either in their pj's watching TV with family members or was up early to get the turkey and fixings ready for company!  
The only turkey I made this season was the one below - a fabric one - attached to a bib for a friend's little girl. We will be celebrating a late Thanksgiving with their family this weekend so I thought she needed a festive bib for the meal! 
This afternoon a British lady asked me what the difference between the Thanksgiving holiday and 4th of July holiday is for Americans? An interesting question I thought since both celebrate American freedoms and beginnings in various ways. I responded with a bit about Independence Day marking the declaration of independence and Thanksgiving celebrating the country's first settler's bountiful harvest. However, when I got home tonight, I did a bit of research (since she peaked my interest in this subject) and I probably should have known more about Thanksgiving as a national holiday but I have to admit I did not pay as close of attention in history class as I should have....

In 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that Thanksgiving should be a national observance. To some degree, this was a way to brighten the spirits of the American people, who were dealing with a great deal of difficulty and deprivation.

It was a nice bit to learn (again) today and it is one holiday that does remind us about all of the blessings in our life! Happy Thanksgiving to all near and far!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sweet Home Chicago...for a few hours!

After Sarah & Jonathan's wedding, we flew to Chicago for a few hours - literally, there were not even days involved....(so apologies now for not seeing anyone while we were there!). We had just enough time to squeeze in a quick visit with Scott's family and then also packed in dentist visits (trying to keep up with our US dentists!). 
Scott's brothers & dad pose for a quick photo while they were all together.
We were also able to visit with Scott's grandma for a nice lunch and so I captured this photo with Scott, his parents and grandma all together. 
After my dentist visit downtown, it was dark outside so the Christmas lights on State Street were already turned on. I just love this sight - State Street at the holidays, with The Chicago Theater sign lit up in the background!
And of course no visit to Chicago would be complete without a stop at a favorite restaurant...oh wait, there wasn't time for that! So, I had our taxi driver make a stop in Lincoln Park while en route to O'Hare airport, so I could pick up sushi take out from one of our favorite places, Sai Cafe. Then, we ordered Jama Juices at the airport and we camped out in front of our boarding gate to eat our sushi and fruit drinks.....a bit crazy, I will admit....but oh my they were DELICIOUS!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wedding Bells

We made a very quick trip to the US last weekend for the wedding celebration of dear friends, Sarah & Jonathan. The wedding ceremony was set outside a beautiful location on the Chesapeake Bay. It was a wonderful weekend and we could not have been MORE excited to share in their wonderful celebration! 
Friday night's rehearsal dinner...
No jitters for the groom & bride at the rehearsal dinner - they were all smiles! 
Scott entertains my sister & my mom at the rehearsal dinner with his charming ways.
The wedding ceremony location over looking the Chesapeake Bay. 
Sarah and her beautiful family members taking wedding photos! 
The Bridesmaids getting ready to walk down the aisle. 
Doesn't this look like a family photo shoot? It was super sweet - niece and nephew (flower girl and ring bearer) with the bride & groom. 
The sunset right after the wedding ceremony as we enjoyed cocktails on the terrace. 
The new Mr. & Mrs. take the dance floor! 
Scott & my dad solve the problems of the world.....
Celebrating with Jonathan & Sarah at the reception. 
A Bonfire on the beach followed the reception - it was warm and cozy, perfect for the crisp fall weather that evening.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sell, sell, sell....

In the past two weeks, I had three sales from people who found my etsy site online. Naturally, I was quite excited so I thought I would post photos of the "sold" custom items! 
If you want to shop online, head to: and you can link to my etsy site from there. 
A personalised first birthday shirt.
A personalised 3rd Birthday shirt, flower themed.
A monogrammed bib and sleeper set for a little baby girl. 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bonfire Night

On Saturday evening, we gathered with some friends to go to Kenilworth Castle to see the bonfire there and to watch their fireworks display/celebration in honor of the annual Bonfire Night. Last year I was back in the US for this UK celebration, and unfortunately it was the night we were robbed, so we were happy to not repeat our history from last year on this night! 

Bonfire night is a night centered around the use of fireworks and the lighting of bonfires to in honor of Guy Fawkes Night. Guy Fawkes Night is an annual celebration on the evening of November 5th (although the bonfire celebration we attended was the following Saturday, the 7th). It marks the downfall of the Gunpowder Plot of the 5th of November 1605, in which a number of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, attempted to destroy the Houses of Parliment, in London. It is a bit funny that this country celebrates someone who tried to blow up their governmental building, right??? 
Regardless, it was a neat celebration to attend and watch...
A bit blurry and difficult to see, but here is the bonfire with the backdrop of the Castle in the distance...
Joe giving his youngest daughter a better view above the crowds! 
And more fireworks! They went on for a good 30 plus minutes...a nice display.
Scott and Johnny....of course Johnny playing tricks on Scott by hiding his view of the fireworks for the evening...and Johnny laughing the entire time!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lots of treats and a few tricks....

Yesterday we celebrated Halloween in a more American fashion than British fashion....
The British do not embrace Halloween like the Americans do. Trick-or-Treating has begun over here really in more recent years, and even at that, it is only a handful of children who find their way around the neighborhoods for candy. The costume selection in the stores is pretty dismal and most costumes here tend to focus around witches, cats, or vampires. The aisles and aisles of candy at the local Target stores do not exist over here, although I understand the selection has grown again in more recent years.
We attended a Halloween party last night at another American family's house, so we did celebrate with a costume party, haunted house (aka a haunted garage), and even Halloween games for the kiddos! 
First the treats started on Friday when we received a wonderfully delicious sugar filled box from my mom in the mail! It was a GREAT surprise and American candy is always a welcome "evil" in our house, most especially since we cannot buy any of these treats over here! Thanks mom for spending the crazy amount of money to ship a box full of candy to us...
More treats for the party we attended on Saturday...I baked my grandmother's "smiley face cookies" and turned them into little jack-o-latern cookies. 
Popeye (aka Scott) downing his can of spinach before we headed out to our Halloween party. Sadly, we forgot to have Popeye take a photo of Olive Oyl so I cannot share my costume with you from last night...
At the party, a bit of the British traditions were followed, as the kids participated in a donut eating contest. The donuts were tied on a string and then the strings was tied onto a pole - the kids stood below and had to eat the donuts off of the string as fast as they could without using their hands! 
Popeye supervised and aided in the crazy donut eating contest....
Hope you had a Happy Halloween too! 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

While shopping.....

Today on my way home from work, I decided to take a different route home and I made a stop at an antique store along the way. I have been to this particular antique store a handful of times before, but hadn't been back in a few months. While I was there, I spotted a BEAUTIFUL antique desk and now I cannot get my mind off of it! We'll see if I am able to convince Scott that we need to make an investment in this antique desk when he gets home....
I can already picture the desk in a corner of our house with a beautiful chair sitting in front of it! 
These photos really do not show how beautiful and detailed the desk is, since they were only taken with my camera phone. The wood is actually black and then there is the red leather padding in the middle. The leather padding is quite worn but I think to replace it might be too sharp for the shabbiness and character of the desk. 
The edges of the desk are then light brown wood which  makes a nice contrast. It is a desk from 1900 and frankly it is in pretty decent shape for being so old! While this desk does cost a bit more than say, our IKEA desk we currently own, I do not think we would be able to purchase such a desk in the US for anything close to this reasonable price. Antiques do seem quite a bit less expensive over here since there are just more of them (given that the country is so much older than the US). 
To add to my "vision" of this desk being in some future house of mine, I think I would have the desk in the same room as this chair I reupholstered last winter since the black theme might carry through......I can envision this rocking chair being in an opposite corner of the room - maybe I feel a living room with a black and crisp tan theme coming on in a future house of ours???
Can you tell that I really would like this desk for my future house???? Let's hope my husband agrees! :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

2 Years!

Yesterday Scott & I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary. How lucky we are to be happily married to each other!  
I made a cookie cake in honor of our anniversary. 
We had a nice dinner at a local restaurant - the food was actually quite delicious! (service was another story but what can we expect???.....)
We exchanged a few gifts. I stuck to the 2nd anniversary theme of china gifts, Scott did not....but lucky me, I received the nice gift he purchased! :) 
And then we lit a candle in our cookie cake and sang a Happy Anniversary song to ourselves....because we are just that silly and are still pretty crazy about each other! 
Our first two years of marriage have gone by really much faster than I imagined they would, but the best part about our time together is that it gets better with each day! I look forward to MANY more years to come. Happy Anniversary Scott! xoxo