Saturday, September 30, 2006

Castles and Baseball Gloves

James unwrapped his birthday presents from Michelle and my parents last night- all were an immediate success. We've already played Cluedo (which he loves now), inpsected comic books, playing cards and baseball cards, and done the only thing an English boy knows what to do with a baseball glove and baseball.

Yup, you saw it here first, folks. He set up the baseball glove as a goal and used Wolfish (the soft toy featured in the photo) to push the ball into the glove. Then Bulldog (another toy who missed out on the photo op) stood in goal while Wolfish took shots on goal.

Tomorrow, we'll take James to Freda & Travis' (they're back from France- yay!) and play catch in the back yard with the mitt and ball.

We took the train to Norwich this morning, since we needed to get James some trousers, as he's grown out of all the ones from last year. We went to Norwich Castle first, which was REALLY well laid out and full of fun things for kids (and grownups) to tinker with. It was how I remember the Science Museum from when I was a kid. Here's James with the castle that we built:

And here's the castle he was modeling it after:

I can't resist adding one of my v. cute hubby...I've found that the only way to get a good picture of him is to make him think you've taken the picture, at which point he relaxes and you snap away. Bingo!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Leek & Potato Pie

It's started to feel really fall-y here - today it was raining and chilly, so I made leek and potato pie for dinner. It was a recipe that I got from a Good Housekeeping Student cooking article - they were v. excited because it only costs 59p per serving. Woohoo, I say! More money for the mortgage. :)

Anyway, you basically saute 1 leek per person, boil and mash a few potatoes, (I added some lactose free milk and nutmeg at this point), then put the leeks on the bottom of an oven-proof dish, cover with the mash, and bake for about 10 mins. I also added a little cheddar cheese to the top of mine at the end. MAN, was it good!

John added extra virgin olive oil and lots of salt and pepper, which improved things as well. Yummy.

I've been tearing out recipes madly (Freda and Sandy have both given me v. tall stacks of back issues of their regular magazines), so I'll be cooking up a storm.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Now I Have A 9 Year Old Stepson!

We went to James' birthday party in Ipswich today- we all played laser tag and then the boys played 'quick cricket' and ate typically groty English birthday party food. The laser tag was really fun (John, Martin and I got to play as well), and then they all seemed to have a really good time with the cricket. Here's James, about to blow out his candles:

Happy Birthday, Kiddo!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Girls' Night In

We had another one of our thank you notes from the wedding returned as undeliverable today- if you gave us a present and haven't gotten a note yet, PLEASE let me know, since they were all sent by mid-August. It's my usual neuroses that I feel guilty when the notes come back...but we've had a few returned (one, after two DIFFERENT attempts at the address...I think their mailman just hates me).

John's out in Bury with the boys tonight...they called earlier in the day to see if we wanted to go out for a curry evening with them, but I wasn't really in the mood so I'm at home listening to the Indigo Girls, Tori, and Sarah McLachlan. I also got out the sewing machine and finished the skirt that I'd started ages ago but lost the zipper for. I bought another zipper when we were in Ipswich today and the skirt's all done. It's navy and just above the knee...I'll post a pic once I've taken one in the daylight tomorrow morning.

Then I got out the shirt that my mom sent me in the package of wedding photos and James' birthday present. It was a baby blue t-shirt that was too small for my dad and not really wearable for anyone else. It's also ripped (and repaired) on the bottom right hand corner, which made it PERFECT for my new favorite project- turning t-shirts into comfy pants. ROCKIN!!! I made some for James a few weeks ago out of one of John's old shirts (he's going to grow out of them in about 10 seconds). So since I had the machine out to finish the skirt, I started the pants. And once I'd started them, I finished them. I'll take pics tomorrow and put them up - they're really cool. They're a little short in the rise and baggy in the waist, but my back started to hurt (the table I sew at isn't quite the right height...), so I'll finish them in the morning.

I ordered Madhur Jaffrey's memoir- she's a great cook and we have a few of her cookbooks. She grew up in Delhi and now lives in NYC, but has spent a lot of time in the UK. So far, it's fairly's all about food (much like Peter Mayle's books). I'm also due to start Wild Swans soon - I've checked it out of the library but it just looks thick and daunting at the moment. Any encouragement would be appreciated. My favorite book in the last few months is still The Red Tent...and before that, the Ya-Yas, the Time Traveller's Wife, and the Dark Materials books. If anybody has any suggestions for good books, based on those, let me know!!

I found this on Real Simple today - we have SO many beautiful dish towels from the wedding. They're going to be making appearances on the table v. soon!

Friday, September 22, 2006

I love News Quiz

While I was waiting for John at the station tonight, I was listening to News Quiz, kind of like NPR's "Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me." It's a weekly roundup of all the news, with various commedians and media people. The people next to me in the parking lot kept looking over to see what I was doing, because I was laughing so hard I had tears running down my face.

John missed most of it so we're going to listen to it again on the BBC should definitely check it out if you get a chance.

Tomorrow is a house day- we're going to go pick out our tiles and countertops and other fun stuff like that. Woohoo!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Settling in at work

John was on a business trip yesterday and today (he got back this afternoon), and so Sandy from Ickworth came over for dinner last night. We had a really good chat and looked at all the wedding photos (thanks, Mom!). Sandy and I had baked apples and ice cream for dessert last night- it was SO good when the cold ice cream hit the melted butter-sugar-cinnamon mixture and made it all cold and crunchy. I'll DEFINITELY be doing that again.

It was funny- I realized that I hadn't spent a night alone in the flat in ages- I was really jumpy and checked the doors a zillion times and slept with the bedroom door shut in case the bogeymen came in. For someone who lived alone in NYC (admittedly with v. awesome doormen) for 2 years, you'd think I'd be able to handle a night alone in a flat. I think it was the fact that it's more than one room (duh) and there are a lot of doors with balconies. Or maybe I'm just getting jumpy.

We had the PDQ Bach work My Bonnie Lass She Smelleth through the Product Info department today. Here are the lyrics (from Peter Schickele's website): (teehee)

My bonnie lass she smelleth,
Making the flowers Jealouth.
Fa la la (etc.)

My bonnie lass dismayeth
Me; all that she doth say ith:
Fa la la (etc.)

My bonnie lass she looketh like a jewel
And soundeth like a mule.
My bonnie lass she walketh like a doe
And talketh like a crow.
Fa la la (etc.)

My bonnie lass liketh to dance a lot;
She’s Guinevere and I’m Sir Lancelot.1
Fa la la (etc.)

My bonnie lass I need not flatter;
What she doth not have doth not matter.
Oo la la (etc.)

My bonnie lass would be nice,
Yea, even at twice the price.
Fa la la (etc.)

It totally made my day. :)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Garden Party!

Note: I've switched to BloggerBeta, so if you're having trouble, refresh the page and it should be fine.

Today was the Bury Bach Choir's annual garden party, so I made Coronation Chicken (basically, curry chicken salad) and John and James and I trundled along. It was a Enid's house in a little village south of Bury- they have a glorious country cottage and a HUGE back garden that backs onto the village hall. The weather was perfect and a good time was had by all.

We had a bit of excitement in the morning- we had to bring something for the tombola (basically a raffle, it's a very British thing to do), and so we were hunting arund to see what we could regift. As we have a flat full of very new and lovely wedding presents, it was slim pickins. But I did find a small espresso set (new in the box) on the top shelf of one of our kitchen cabinets. We don't drink espresso at home, and we've never used the set. "Ah hah," I said to John, "We can take THIS!" John replied, "Yup, that's perfect!" At which point James piped up with, "HEY! I gave you that for your birthday last year! And what's a tombola?"

Oops. I've never actually been caught in the act of regifting by the original giver before... Needless to say, we found someting else. But James did manage to win a bottle of wine in the tombola, which Tibor magically transformed into a little Meccano airplane set. Much better (and it gave James something to do for most of the afternoon). Here he is, building it:

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I need a nap

Thanks for the comments on the house, everyone- we're really excited about it (but feeling like April is a VERY long time from now and not looking forward to spending another winter in our v. drafty flat). At least when we move in it'll be spring and we can eat outside in the back yard and have all the windows open, etc.

I've had a particularly exhausting few days- I went over to Sandy's for dinner and to catch up on Tuesday night but didn't get home until fairly late, then got up early yesterday, worked all day, had Bury Bach Choir practice (Liz, I REALLY love you to be missing this's going to be glorious), came home to John and the D&D boys, went to bed at 11:30, got up at 6 to go to work because the air conditioner went on the fritz and flooded one of the computer rooms, and then had a completely soul-shredding day at work. I'm having trouble enforcing a deadline at work for a report that I do every's somewhat arbitrary but it has to be somewhere, otherwise I find myself staying later and later and getting more and more stressed as people give me more things to put on it 10 minutes after the supposed deadline. ROAR!!

In other news, I've downloaded iTunes 7 and am lusting after the new pods, which is completely rediculous as the one I have is completely functional and totally fine. One day, it'll give up the ghost, though. Not too soon, 'cause we got a mortgage to pay!!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

We Bought A House!

We are the proud new owners of a half-finished 3-bedroom house in the great metropolis of Stowmarket! We put down our initial reservation down-payment-y thing yesterday, so as long as we get our mortgage, survey, and other fun expensive and lawyer-y things done by October 9, it's OURS!!

Here's a map of the area- we're Plot 66. It's one of the last houses to be finished in this build...the same company is starting another build on the other side of the road at the bottom of the map early next spring.

We're due to move in late March, so we're embarking on the dizzying journey of picking all kinds of furniture and carpets and floors and other crazy stuff.

And then EVERYONE can come visit.

Here are the floorplans and the "artist's impression" of the finished house...we've been in a few completed ones and it's basically what they look like. (Sorry they're kind of was the best I could do).

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

A Lactofree Kate is a Happy Kate

My new favorite thing: Lactofree milk. It's got less than 0.05% lactose and I can drink it! YAY!! It's way better than soy milk and lets me conserve my Lactaid pills for yummy stinky cheese. Here's the link, if you care.

Yay for cereal in the morning!!

Had our first Bury Bach Choir rehearsal of the season tonight- it was really good to see everyone and catch up, but I'm feeling v. rusty and tired now. I checked with the treasurer and I've just gotten in under the wire for another year of the under-25 discount (free!). Next year, though, I'm up to the full fare.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

An Almost House

We were thisclose to buying a house today- we'd been looking at it all weekend (it's a new build). We did a little more research today and found that it's RIGHT on top of a 24-hour truck depot (something the builders had neglected to mention). Oh sad.

But while John was finding out about the truck stop, he also found another development of houses further up the hill (away from the trucks), which have some great houses. So we'll go see some more on Saturday. John has fallen in love with a 4-bedroom (!?) that we REALLY can't afford, so we'll check out the 3s that they have (or win the lottery).

John has a computer game called "Rise Of Legends," that both he and James are adddicted to, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I played it for about 20 minutes this evening, and actually kind of enjoyed it. And then REALLY enjoyed the Waitrose magazine that I got yesterday. I think I'm safe. :)

Oh, and I can't remember if I posted about it, but I made James a cute pair of comfy-pants from here. My mom's sending over a package of random wedding stuff and needed some padding, so I think she's included some of my old (huge) t-shirts. Foss Arts comfy pants, here we come!

John and I have made it into this quarter's Colby alumni newsletter...we're the second item in the '03 news (on the web listing, at least). Not the NY Times Style section, but we're getting there.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Ballet Mecanique and Tamagotchi

I found the link to on Lifehacker, and made a seal for the blog (Moose helped):

I'm going to try to figure out how to embed it permanently over on the right...eek! (I'm such a dork).

We've had James for two weeks already, with only 3 more days before he goes back to school (and his mom). It's been a little stressful having him around: he's lost his Tamagotchi (sucks to be him) and his inhaler (sucks to be him AND us) over the last few days. He's fun, though. Apparently Gillian (his mom) has bought a new (bigger) house with her partner, which they will be moving in to shortly. So all James can talk about is houses and rooms and sizes of things and what color his room will be and what his room in our (still undiscovered) house should be. He's been v. sweet about it, though. He and John got haircuts today, so they picked me up at work in the afternoon looking like little boys. Ok, well, one of them ALWAYS looks like a little boy, but they were v. cute.

It was Ryan's last day at work today- he's off to Canada for a year before he starts university. I'm going to miss him- he's got a great sense of humor and is the other classical music geek in the office. We had the Schirmer Ballet Mecanique come through the office yesterday and he and I were gawping at it. The other guys were marginally interested...they're missing out on the pianola goodness.

I'm looking for a good html-viewer (other than Blogger), so I can check my html text as I type in Word. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

I'm also (slowly) uploading wedding photos onto Flickr- the link is over on the right. Feel free to submit any that you have!!