Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Even though English is spoken here in England, words and phrases are different. Today was one of those days were I said something at work, and everyone looked at me as if I had five heads.....and I heard things that I didn't understand either! 

The first situation was this morning at work while I was in a meeting discussing a merger. I made the comment of "Let's just move forward with it, so we are not nickel and diming you." After I made this comment, I was faced with a room full of blank stares by my British colleagues. Of course they did not know what I was saying because they don't have nickels and dimes here! I did not spend the time to explain the phrase to them because I wanted the meeting to move along. My interest, however was peaked about the origin of this phrase. I consulted the world wide web, and found this explanation:

nick·el-and-dimed or nick·eled-and-dimednick·el-and-dim·ing or nick·el·ing-and-dim·ing
1. To drain or destroy bit by bit, especially financially: nickel-and-dimed the project to death.

The second situation happened this afternoon when I received the following email at work:
Hi Cassie,
So sorry we are as keen as mustard and I will get on to it first thing tomorrow morning.
Best wishes,

I re-read the email twice and then let out a chuckle. I then asked the girls in my office if they had ever heard such a phrase before? They of course laughed at me, saying "You've never heard the phrase as keen as the mustard?" I responded no and then we all had a chuckle. I asked them if it were positive and they said, "Yes, it's very positive!" 
For more on that phrase, you can read :

There are often phrases we hear over here that are not quite the same English versions of things back in the US. It is really two countries separated by a common language!
I have not done a great job at blogging about these happenings, and to some extent a few of the words and phrases have probably become part of our daily language now. Today's two phrase incidents were blog worthy and I do not think "keen as mustard" will be integrated into my daily conversation anytime soon. 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Springing Forward

We are getting ready to spring forward finally here in Europe, two weeks after the US changed their clocks. While it has been nice to be only 5 hours apart from my parents (CST), it has been confusing to many people here in the business world who were not aware that the US had already sprung forward. I am always thinking that when it is 2pm here, it is 8am back by my parents, so I know I can call them then as they are starting their day, and I am heading into my afternoon. These past two weeks it has been nice to call home a bit earlier, but as of tomorrow, we will be back to the 6 hour time difference. 

Not only are our clocks springing forward, but there are finally signs of spring in England! Everyone here has complained about the TERRIBLE winter we have experienced this year - the worst in nearly 30 years (according to UK standards)! Compared to a US midwestern winter, it has been a treat, but I try to keep those comments to myself when speaking to the locals. As a result of such a terribly cold and harsh winter [said with sarcasm] here, the spring flowers are about 6 weeks behind schedule. It seems we are nearing the blooming season now and there are signs of spring popping up around our town.
Last weekend while Scott was out of town, I met a friend of mine for an afternoon walk around a pretty garden/park near by.  
The sun was shining and it felt like spring was in the air! 
Flowers are starting to bloom....
The crocuses are popping up from the ground. 
Miss Maddy (my friend's daughter) isn't really a sign of spring, but she joined us for our walk around the gardens. Could she be anymore adorable? Her eyes are just beautiful!

The flower beds have been planted and are beginning to take their shape. I cannot wait to see the gardens in another week or two when they are really in full bloom! 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Scott Returns

Scott has come back! He was back in Chicago for a full week (plus) of meetings last week and then stayed through the weekend to visit his family and catch up with some friends....AND watch basketball (the real motive). I think he knew I was particularly sad not to be going back to the US, since my family (minus me) was together this past weekend as well. 
Normally Scott does not travel too often for work but his travel schedule has been increasing lately and of course he knows how much I miss him when he is away. However, he had a VERY thoughtful surprise for me this morning upon his return....
Scott opened his suitcase and pulled out this box for me! 
And then, I opened the box to find: 
These pretty shoes inside!!! 
I have been looking at these shoes for a while now but just have not purchased them because they are difficult to find over here (and because I thought they should be saved for a special treat!).  
So thank you to my wonderful husband for the LOVELY gift....I am SO LUCKY to have you - and so happy you are home safely!! xoxo

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shawna's Visit

My friend Shawna came to visit last week! It was fabulous....except for the part where we both got the flu. Yes, she traveled thousands of miles to see us from Chicago, and then she & I both got sick. Not that I could (really) control it, I still felt AWFUL (literally and figuratively) about it. Luckily the bug was short-lived so we still had plenty of time to shop, explore the English countryside, and to do some crafting! 
Our guest room awaiting Shawna's arrival....
Upon arrival her England, Shawna and I spent the afternoon in Stratford Upon Avon and we toured William Shakespeare's house. The next day we headed to a few of the idyllic towns in the Cotswolds to experience some of the English countryside charm....
This little shop called the Cotswold Cheese Company is really neat but sadly was closed on the day we were in the town. 
Some of the 
A scene in Burton-on-the-Water.
We had fun shopping around for Bits & Bobs at various shops during the week Shawna was here....
Shawna on a bridge in Burton-on-the Water, which is often called the Venice of the Cotswolds.
Moss is everywhere in England. Sometimes it is very pretty. It adds nice color to otherwise gray stones or walls!
Then, during the middle of the week, illness set in.....so our outings consisted of going upstairs to the second floor of our house to work on a project of re-arranging and organising my craft room. I promise I did not ask Shawna to organize my belongings while she was a guest in my house, but rather she proposed the idea. She really did seem to enjoy the project, which is great for both of us since I probably would not have done it on my own....and goodness knows Scott would not have been interested in such an endeavor! 
This photo does not show the entire "project" from start to finish, but basically we re-arranged the room completely and moved my sewing table to the small end of the room and made space to house the many tubs of my fabric along the long side of the room. Additionally we re-organized the sewing table so I now have more space to use part of the table for cutting my patterns, while still having space for both my embroidery machine and my sewing machine. 
After we re-organized the craft room, it was time to do some crafting! We put a darling little "J" applique on this t-shirt for Shawna's daughter so she could have a coordinating spring outfit in purple. We probably could have spent the entire week of Shawna's visit crafting but we did force ourselves to get out and see many of the sights around England as well...

When the weekend arrived, we were both finally feeling much better and so we went with Scott into London for the weekend before Shawna had to leave. We started with a trip to Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guard, or Guard Mounting as it can be called. The Guard which mounts at Buckingham Palace is called The Queen’s Guard and is divided into two Detachments: the Buckingham Palace Detachment (which is responsible for guarding Buckingham Palace), and the St. James’s Palace Detachment, (which guards St. James’s Palace). These guard duties are normally provided by a battalion of the Household Division and occasionally by other infantry battalions or other units.
The handover is accompanied by a Guards band. The music played ranges from traditional military marches to songs from films and musicals and even familiar pop songs. The Guards band marches down The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace.
And we march too....
Getting closer to the Palace entrance....
Watching the ceremony in front of Buckingham Palace.

The guards who have just left their post walk back through by St. James's Palace.
When Guardsmen are on duty, the soldiers are drawn from one of the five regiments of Foot Guards in the British Army: the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards, the Welsh Guards, the Grenadier Guards and the Coldstream Guards. These soldiers were changing guarding duties of St. James's Palace.
After watching all of the guards marching, it was time for a lunch at Harrod's! 
The beautiful cheese plate for lunch at Harrods.... YUM.
Harrods' Food Courts are AMAZING. Shawna inspects the pastry selection in one of their bakery sections. 
Outside of Harrod's after a nice lunch and a bit of shopping there. (Scott, the photographer, somehow managed to cut out the most important bit about this photo - the Harrod's green awning!) 
After dinner in London, we walked from our hotel along the bridge across to the London Eye. Even though this photo is dark, here you can see we had a perfect glimpse of Big Ben and Parliment in the background.
Scott was there too! :)
It was a great treat to have a good friend here for the week and I hope she comes back soon! 

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Day in our Nook of England

On Friday we had visitors and I spent the day in our "nook" of England showing them around a few towns. We had a nice sunny day to do some sightseeing and I enjoyed playing tour guide near our house. 

After I collected Jenn & Erin at the train station, we went straight to William Shakespeare's birthplace and house. We toured the house where we learned about William's father, John, and his mother Mary who were very well-to-do according to standards back in their time. William's father, John, was a glove maker and prepared the animal skins, made the gloves, and sold them to the towns people all from this house in Stratford. Luckily, the house does not smell like it did when such an activity would have taken place. 
The backside of the Shakespeare Home, facing their gardens. 
After a nice lunch in Stratford, we jaunted over to Warwick where we visited Warwick Castle and toured the Castle grounds. 
A gate/entrance area within the castle. 
Inside the state rooms.  It is elegant and beautiful. 
More rooms to see. Sadly, not all of the state rooms were open during our visit. Some are closed right now for renovations. 
The waterfall and water mill on the castle grounds. 
Inside the castle walls. 
A view of the state rooms and green space at the Castle. The tented part is some dungeon exhibit they have going now. 
Heading towards a tower at the castle. 
The view of Warwick's town centre and also of St. Mary's Church, as seen from a tower look out point at the castle. This church was founded in 1123 by an Earl of Warwick. 
After going up, we must go down....more steep stairs to maneuver in a tight space! 
The view from a tower at the castle, looking towards another tower within the castle. 
Jenn at the top of a tower at Warwick Castle (Dionne Warwick Castle as she joked!!). 
We ended the day back at our house and Scott was able to scoot out of work on time to join us for a drink and a quick snack before Jenn & Erin departed back to London that evening. I had a nice time showing the ladies around in our area of England, but I particularly enjoyed hearing Jenn's stories about her new life as an expat in Russia right now. Maybe someday we'll be able to visit Jenn & her husband in Moscow....
Cassie, Jenn, & Erin after a full day of touring.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Hostess

Tomorrow begins my role as the hostess with the mostess!

I am awaiting the arrival of Jenn and her friend Erin who will be visiting us for the day from London. However, Jenn really is coming via Moscow, as seen here: http://damasiuslife.blogspot.com/
I cannot wait to hear all about Jenn's new adventures of navigating through Russia while we tour the English Countryside tomorrow.

Then, on Monday morning, I am headed to Heathrow Airport to collect my dear friend Shawna for her trip to see us! Shawna's husband, Brad, surprised her with a ticket to visit us at Christmas and he has been kind enough to take over kid duty for the next week. Poor Scott has a week ahead of girl talk, cocktail hours daily, crafting, and antique shopping to endure [not that he's invited!]. 

So I'll be busy galavanting around the UK this next week playing hostess and tour guide....and will be loving every minute of it!