Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Puttering around NYC

Had a really refreshing day in the city today- went in for lunch with church-Susan and bonded over burgers, bussed it down to midtown to visit my dad in his office (and meet the entire staff of OK! Magazine), then noodled around the garment district, looking for a tiara for the wedding (yes, I'm getting a tiara; no, we don't want to pay retail for it...), had some Starbucks and talked to John, went down to Chinatown to buy more noodle bowls for my parents, walked up to the Lower East Side to meet Emily for dinner at Katz's (yay for JEW FOOD!!), went back to Em's apartment in the WeVil, and then came back up to Grand Central and took the train home. Phew.

The funeral went very well yesterday- it was a really nice service and lots of people were there. It was comforting to know that Grandma was so loved by all the people she knew.

Two more days in New Yawk and then back to the UK on Wednesday night. There's kind of a lot to do in the next two days, but I didn't think that I was going to be here at all, so things should be fine.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Phone call from Lochearn

Got home on Wednesday night- I had an easy (and not too full) flight. It's good to be home but I miss England. Spent yesterday doing errands and then went in to the city for dinner with Ellice (Saigon Grill- YUM!) and fellowship group. It was great to see everyone and catch up with what they're doing.

I was lounging around this morning, when the phone rang. Turns out it was Laura, the "perpetual camper" (as my mother calls her) from Lochearn. She's organizing a camp reunion in September (which I won't be able to make), and was calling old numbers to see if she could track down some Lochearn Lassies. So not only were my parents not in Florida, but I was here and answered the phone. Crazyness. She initially asked to speak with my mom, since she had assumed that I would have moved out of the house and would be somewhere far away. It was funny...I recognized her voice right away. I think she was as surprised to talk to me as I was to hear from her. We had a rare old chat, anyway. :)

Now I'm officially on the Lochearn Alumnae email list, and she's going to email me with the contact info of one of my old camp buddies who lives in England who I've lost touch with. Yahoo!!

Monday, February 20, 2006

London Olympics

Ok, so it's not 2012 yet. But I spent the whole weekend in London watching the Olympics. Sarah (from Colby) was visiting, and John was working in London, so we all went down on Friday. Went to a museum on Friday afternoon, and felt kind of cruddy on Friday night, but I figured I was just tired. I ended up with a flu-y thing that I still haven't quite shaken, and spent the better part of the weekend in bed in the hotel watching everyone in Turin on TV.

It was pretty entertaining, although watching 2-man bobsledding in a blizzard is like watching paint dry. You can't really see them, they all look the same anyway, and the track is mostly covered by tarp-thingys. Yee haw!

Going home on Wednesday- I'm knackered at the thought of going home, coming back a week later, going home again after 3 more weeks, coming back after 2, and then going home again for the wedding. If anyone figures out how to teleport or travel by Floo powder, please call me.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Grandma Hile

My grandma died last Friday. She had been ill for about 2 ½ years, and by all accounts was ready to go. She died in her sleep, peacefully, and all of my family had seen her during the course of the week (I saw her in mid-January).

I'll be coming home for a week on Wednesday the 22nd...the funeral is on Sunday the 26th in Mamaroneck. If anyone wants the details, email me.

I haven't been blogging because I haven't really wanted to write about it and I didn't want to write about anything else.

My mom's parents were fantastic- Grandpa (who died when I was 11) was SO much fun to play with, and my brother and cousin and I spent hours at the pool and in the back yard with him. My favorite childhood memory of Grandma (who I was lucky to have in my life for much longer) was sitting at the piano, learning the bottom part to "Chopsticks" with her. She also made the most FANTASTIC omelettes. I have no idea how she did it- she'd stand in the kitchen, in her bathrobe and slippers, with her omelette pan and a spatula, and turn out perfectly runny, cheesy omelettes every time. I have tried and tried and can't reproduce them. It must have had something to do with being a grandmother.

My mom was born in Paris, France (my grandparents moved there right after the war), and so when I was living there in 2001, Mom and Grandma came to visit me. My host parents took us out to Garches, just southwest of the city, and we all found the house where my mom was born. There was a guy raking leaves in the driveway, so Daniel went up to him and told him that he was with some Americans who had lived in the house 50 years ago. He invited us in and we all walked through the house, with my Grandma telling stories about what it was like to live there.

I'm really going to miss her, but I'm glad that she's at peace.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Redeemer Sermons

One of the things I miss most about the city is Redeemer, my church for the past 2 ½ years. Granted, the most important thing about the church is the community, and I'm still rebuilding that here. But the sermons are a huge part of the church too. Most churches, if you can't make it to the service, you have to make do with a tape or cd...not Redeemer! I have an mp3 subscription to the sermons, which means that I can log in to the Redeemer website once a week and download the previous week's sermon. I love being able to listen to the same message that I know my HFG is listening to in New York...it really makes me feel connected.

In other news, work has been really busy. After struggling to create an Access database to catalog all our slides, I found out that my colleague is an Access whiz. Poof...a database! Now I only have 1500 more slides to enter and keyword. Lucky me. It's actually really satisfying, although it can be tricky to tell the east wing from the west wing (they're symetrical) when you don't know which way 'round the slide is meant to go.

I'm feeling a lot more relaxed lately...I was spending a lot of time feeling sorry for myself about what I thought I was missing in the US rather than enjoying all the things that are happening here. John called me on it (he always seems to know what I'm thinking)...and I realized that I was unhappy because I was focusing on making myself unhappy. Then I listened to Tim's sermon from few weeks ago where he talked about how self-centeredness destroys all the relationships we have- with God, with ourselves, and with those around us. It was a real eye-opener and I'm feeling a lot better for it.

I know that I've given up a lot in NYC (Saigon Grill, anyone?), but all the things that I've gained here are really adding up. The big things, like John & his family, the National Trust, and John's friends (and my new ones); and the small things, like curry-in-a-jar, endless cups of tea, long walks through the countryside, and Ribena. And if I'd never moved here, I'd never have started blogging. ACK!

BTW, I had my first tea-withdrawal headache the other day...I'd spent a few days drinking a LOT of tea, and then didn't have any at work (it was too cold to leave the office and stand in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil), and my head started pounding. I drank some water and felt better...but I'm hooked. :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

I'm a Geek (but I'm marrying one so it's ok)

Cool discovery this afternoon: the Super Bowl commercials are on Google Video. Since that's the part I mostly watch anyway, I wholeheartedly enjoyed catching them without having to watch any football or dumb halftime shows.

We got a Skype Phone yesterday- it's really nice. As long as the computer is turned on (and we're logged in to Skype), we can call anyone in the US for about a penny a minute. We're also looking in to getting SkypeIn, where we would get a 914 (Westchestah...gotta represent!) number that rings in our flat. Aaaah...the miracles of modern technology.

We had a slight twist on gaming on Monday night...Mark brought Munchkin for us to play, which is basically a send-up of Dungeons and Dragons. And it's VERY funny and extremely entertaining. We were going to play as a warm-up to real gaming, but the Munchkin game lasted almost 3 hours, so we ended the evening by playing 3 rounds of Harry Potter Uno instead.

Book group...watch out. Munchkin's coming.

Paula's Baked Apples A La StowmarKate

This is a baked apple recipe that turned into more of a poached apple recipe- I had some leftover apples that we weren't going to eat, so Iooked for a recipe on Food Network and found one that Paula Deen makes. As is expected with a Paula Deen recipe, there's a LOT of butter and sugar involved. I basically substituted for the things I was missing and out they came. John doesn't like baked apples but he loved these.

Have fun!!

You will need:
Apples (duh) cored...as many as you have/want to use up
Butter (one small pat for each apple)
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Apple Juice (or water...I didn't have any AJ)
A roasting pan

Preheat the oven to 325°F-ish while you're coring the apples. Put the apples in the roasting tin. Mix the sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon (this is enough for about 6 apples), and fill the center of each apple. Put any extra into the tin. Put a pat of butter on top of each apple. Pour about ¾ inch of apple juice (or water) into the pan.

Cover with aluminum foil and cook in the oven for about 45 minutes.

Result: melty appley goodness that even John will eat.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Social Butterflies?

John and I were social butterflies this weekend...we had dinner with Ian and Caroline on Friday night, went to John Lewis to do our wedding registry on Saturday afternoon, went to Freda and Travis' for dinner on Saturday night, and then got home at about 5 this evening.

Friday night was lots of fun...we all met up after work, dropped our stuff at Ian and Caroline's, and then walked into Bury. Had a few drinks at "3" (a bar), and then went across the street to I & C's favorite Indian restaurant (Rose of Bengal). Apparently they go there quite a bit...we were greeted warmly by the staff, who knew exactly what we would all be eating. The food was fantastic...definitely the best curry I've had in ages. I had a small mishap when I accidentally ate three hot chiles at once...I'd never REALLY overdone it on spicyness before and I have no desire to do it again. I recovered, with much encouragement and sympathy from everyone, after about 10 minutes, but I think there may be some residual emotional scars. I definitely want to go back, but I may take it easy on the chiles.

We all had a really great time, though. It was the first time since I've been here where I've really felt like I was just hanging out and laughing with my peers. I love my colleagues, I love John's family, but it was so much fun to just hang out with friends.

Came back home on Saturday morning, had eggs on toast with cups of tea (a good cure for overindulgence if comfort diner isn't available...), and headed out to John Lewis in Norwich to do some wedding registering. One little beepy PDA scanner and 3 hours later, we staggered back to the car. The only (v. small) battle was over the wine glasses (John loves the pattern...I'm not wild about it but it's growing on me). It was funny...the store employees would spot the scanner and make a beeline for us. They were also somewhat timid in their introductions- it seemed like they were expecting us to fight epic battles over every sugar bowl and wisk. There were some very tortured-looking fiances trailing after their future wives, though.

Made a really yummy variation on baked apples for dessert this evening...we had some extra apples that I wanted to use up so I modified a recipe that I found on Food Network. I'll post it tomorrow. :)

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Hey Kate, Are You Busy?

It's COLD here. Not Colby Cold, but v. cold for these parts. (It's about 25°F, or about -4°C.) The problem is that it's a damp cold that gets in everywhere. The car is toasty when I'm driving it, but when I was parked in the parking lot of John's office, within about 3 mins I had to turn the engine back on for a minute so I didn't freeze.

Ickworth is miserable in this weather...going downstairs for a cup of tea is not really worth the warmth you get from the tea, and woe betide you if you need to go to the bathroom. It's about 40°F in our bathroom (which is nearly the size of my Tudor City studio, btw)...it's about the last place in the world where you want to take your pants off.

I spent the whole day doing random tasks...there was a pretty constant stream of, "hey Kate, are you busy?" followed by the delegation of a random task. My first one: creating stencils to label the Recycle Bins. No, Fiona, there's nothing I can think of that I'd like to do more. :) At least Neil hooked me up with a nice sharp craft knife...the blunt scissors I started out with were not cutting it. Haha...cutting it.

John and I have a running thing about the pigs we pass on the way to work...they're just east of Bury, on the left side of the road, and there are zillions of them. The first field has lots of pigs, all milling about and eating their breakfast as we drive by. The second field has sows and piglets. John didn't believe that there were piglets...I'd seen some little ears and tails on a few mornings, but never a whole piglet. This morning, though, THREE piglets were trooping around their little pen. They were SO cute!! No piglets on my Tudor City -> Park Ave South commute...

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

New addiction: BBC Radio

I have a confession to make...I was holding on to NPR and the New York Times as my main radio and news sources.

Today, I broke free. Ok, I still read the Times online every day (with my dad's login...he's a subscriber so I don't have to pay for the Times Select stuff...although I would pay if he didn't subscribe...not that anyone cares), but I've realized that I can get ALL the BBC radio stations with the BBC radio widget on my mac. You can get them, too, at the Beeb's website. (Or download the widget, for all you Tigers out there, at Apple.) It cracks me up that Brits refer to it as the Beeb. Very strange.

It's like having a whole radio's worth of NPR stations...I think I DO like England after all. :)

Stayed home today for the delivery of our new computer desk, which is super-adjustable and tucks nicely into the corner of our flat. Added bonus: we get to reclaim our dining room table. Hooray! I imagine we'll carry on eating dinner on our knees and the table will turn into a place where we put stuff, but it's nice to know that we can use it without unplugging all the computer stuff.

My Mom left for her annual ski trip with the girls this morning- they're off to Utah. V. jealous of all the powder and sun. John doesn't ski, so I'm on the lookout for ski buddies who are interested in a long weekend in the Alps. Not this year (I have NO money and my skis, etc. are at home), but next year. Email me.