Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

We're off to Ipswich tonight to have dinner with Ian & Caroline...we haven't seen them since the wedding so it will be really nice to catch up. It's not going to be the same as my above-Times Square with alcohol, music, food and bathrooms (and fantastic company!) - thanks Evan! But it should be fun.

Oh, and I can't believe it took me until Christmas to find this (and to today to post it)...the new Harry Potter book's title was released by Jo Rowling on the 21st - it's 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.' I'm hoping that it will be released AFTER Lizzie & Greg's wedding so that I can pick up my books from my parents' house in time to read them all again.

Oh, and the Indigo Girls are coming to Cambridge on Valentine's Day...John and I have tickets - he's the best hubby ever. Although I might have to bring mom, Meade and Emily over for the concert won't be the same without them...

Saturday, December 30, 2006

What side of the road am I on?

Freda made us a Christmas cake this year - it's a fruit cake with marzipan and fondant on top - YUM!! I was a little skeptical (not a huge fan of fondant, or fruitcake, for that matter), but it's really good. Not sure if I'll be able to wait until next year for more. AND we have a Christmas pudding that we haven't polished off yet - it was homemade by one of my friends and I can't wait to try it. Here's F's cake...

I had a 'what side of the road am I on?' moment the other day - thankfully it was with John and James in the car who both yelped and got me back on the correct side in time. It was, exactly as mom and dad had warned, as I was coming out of a network of one-way streets and making a left turn. The cars in front were going straight, and I was a little bit lost - I knew where I was but wasn't sure where I was going to be going next. Basically, all the usual reference points had disappeared and my brain kicked in to autopilot. And oop...over onto the right I went, headed for some (stopped) cars waiting at the light. I think they were as surprised to see me as I was to see them.

When I wasn't having near misses on the roads, I've been refashioning some lampshades for two Ikea lamps that John and I had on our bedside tables. The lamps are fairly lightweight wood frames with circular glass shades inside them. Only problem with them as bedside lamps is that when you're fumbling in the dark to turn the light on (during these glorious English winter mornings when it's dark until 7:15am), the whole thing tips over and shatters. Lovely. After John and I both killed our lamps in quick succession, I decided it was time for something a little more tip-over-proof. Or at least unbreakable. So I bought a set of really cheap pillowcases and made little shades for the lamps. Blogger's picture upload seems to be working again, so I'll add some pics tomorrow when it's light out.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Night At The Museum

James, John and I went to see Night At The Museum today - James saw it yesterday and was raving about it and John and I both wanted to see it, so we went. It's really clever and very funny, and it had a lot of 'New York Movie' moments, which made me love it even more. It was one of those movies where the kids and the adults are laughing in completely different spots... Oh, and it has Dick Van Dyke AND Robin Williams in it - what more could anyone want?

We took John out to dinner last night for his birthday (happy birthday John and Dad!!). We went to Pizza Express in Ipswich - it's a chain with really yummy pizza. Last night they were having kind of an off night, but we still had fun with our party hats and miscellaneous birthday candles...

I realized that I'd been completely neglecting the library - Freda had loaned me a few books and Andrea gave me some for my birthday, which I'd been working my way through. Jodi Picoult's stuff is fairly engrossing, but Andrea's right - you can really only read one before you need to switch to something else. I was interspersing them with Alexander McCall Smith books...they're light and fluffy but very entertaining. I've reserved a few more books from the library...any recommendations would be gladly accepted!!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day

Well, it's my first Boxing Day in a few years...I think the last one I spend in the UK was with the family in 1993. We were at Freda & Travis' yesterday for Christmas Day, after we had Christmas with James here in the morning.

It was really strange - I felt like I was on the 'wrong' side of the morning stocking opening. When Edward and I were little, we were allowed to open our stockings as early as we wanted, and then we had to wait until a predetermined time to go upstairs and wake up Mom and Dad to show them what Santa had brought. Then they'd come downstairs with us and we'd all open presents together.

So yesterday morning John and I were sleeping and James bounced in with our stockings to wake us up. I definitely felt like I should have been bouncing somewhere with my stocking...

We set up the LGB trains (with John's additional christmas track from Mom & Dad) in F&T's living room. I'm not sure if 'set up' is the right was more of a 'takeover'. The boys played with the trains for HOURS...all of the teddies had rides and John and Travis were tinkering with everything and shunting cars around. Then when we got home this afternoon, John set up his new digital Hornby trains...they are REALLY cool but they're going to have to wait for our new house before they get much use...they really need to be nailed to a baseboard and set up more permanently.

Speaking of our new house, we drove by today to wish it Merry looked very cosy and like it's coming along. Our initial walk-through is in January, which is suddenly creeping up on us...

I was going to add some photos to this post - blogger's having issues so you can check them all out on Flickr.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Now We Can Have Christmas!!!

Well, through the magic of the Interweb, I've found it. Nope, not the Holy Grail. I have, however, found what I was looking for regarding making Christmas complete. Yup, you guessed it: an audio file of the original 1975 version of Merry Christmas from Sesame Street!! It's here, as an archived radio program by someone named Christine Moritz (to whom I'm eternally grateful). I downloaded the streamed audio radio program - all 3+ hours of her favorite Christmas music - and then downloaded Audible, cropped and edited the file, turned it into an mp3, and then burned it to a CD. YAY!!! I'm SO excited about it - firstly because I have it and secondly because I have it on CD. And on my computer. And on my iPod. It's not quite the same as my record, but Christine originally ripped the file that she broadcasted from HER record, so it's got all the right scratches and pops. Not in the same places, but it'll do. As she says in her intro (it starts right about the 2 hour mark if you're interested), vinyl records and little kids are a somewhat toxic combination.

And just think, Mom and I can listen to it BY MYSELF in the car and nobody else has to be around. And I can listen to it over and over and over and over again. But only from the beginning, just like the record. Since it's one BIG mp3 file - I didn't have the energy to figure out how to chop it into tracks...maybe one day.

In other Christmas news, we went out to a farm to pick up our reserved Christmas goose, along with two stalks of brussels sprouts that Freda and John swear will be unlike any sprouts I've ever tasted. Hmmm.

John and I watched Seabiscuit last night- I really liked it, although John found it a bit predictable. We were having trouble agreeing on a movie- he likes darker ones and i'm much more of a kid's movie/romantic comedy girl.

There is much Christmas eve TV on tomorrow night...we're going to watch the Kings' College Choir sing carols and then watch Chicken Run. Oh, the excitement. :) Or I may let John and James watch it all while I sit with my headphones and Sesame Street...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

5 Days to Christmas!!

Everyone's still trying to recover from the work Christmas party - the pictures were posted on the intranet today, so everyone's embarrassment was relived. It was v. entertaining.

Continuing in the Christmas party vein, I'm off to the Ickworth staff party tomorrow night. I haven't seen most of the guys in quite a while, so I'm really excited.

Oh, my friend found this on the New York's an article about a Colby alum who I was friends with freshman year - he's 'invented his own scholarly field.' Lucky him! Here's the link. It's required reading for the Colby grads.

Oh, and Andrea's friend Rebeka introduced me to Epicurious - it's a whole world of recipes, waiting to be discovered.

UPDATE: Apparently the permalink is having's the beginning of the article.

Noah Charney hasn’t stolen a major artwork, as far as is known, but he gives it lots of thought. I met him one day last spring in Rome, in a cool, shadowy side chapel of the church of San Francesco a Ripa on the west bank of the Tiber. He stood with his hands clasped reverently before him, gazing at Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s statue of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni. Bernini seems to have caught the pious mystic just as she passes to her great reward; she lies prostrate on a tousled bed of marble and jasper, her back arched, her eyes slitted, her lips parted and her right hand pressed to her breast in an ecstasy of divine transport that, as more than one critic has observed, resembles a far earthier kind of ecstasy. “I’ve spent hundreds of hours here with Ludovica,” Charney said, less to me than to the statue, about which he wrote his master’s thesis in art history in 2003. “We have a special relationship. I want her in my living room!”

Charney, a slender, courtly 27-year-old from New Haven with a back-swept mane of jet black hair, pointed out details in the statue and the ormolu molding around it that suggest an inner meaning few observers have perceived: a pomegranate and a flaming heart, which signify Ludovica’s passionate love of God, and her shoes, which prove that she isn’t on her deathbed, as most people have assumed, but is experiencing the fierce, heart-melting heat of divine rapture. “A lot of art history is detective work,” Charney told me. “Instead of just staring at a piece, you’re studying it and gathering information.”

Then, with the same probing eye, he noted what for him were even more essential qualities of the statue: how it might be stolen and by whom. The nearby window, the old-model motion sensors and the doubtless un-manned surveillance cameras would all facilitate theft. Yet the stature of the Blessed Ludovica herself, a cool ton or so of stone, would give any thief pause. “To get her out of here, you’d really have to be obsessed,” he said. Then again, he reckoned someone who was truly smitten with the work could find a way to pinch it. “And if Ludovica were ever stolen,” he said, “I’d be the first suspect.”

Charney is completing a doctorate at Cambridge University in a field he appears to have invented: the use of art history, combined with the more conventional tools of criminology, psychology and deductive logic, to help solve modern-day art thefts and to prevent future art crimes. The stolen-art trade is now an international industry valued as high as $6 billion per year, the third-largest black market behind drugs and arms trafficking. Yet the solution rate in art crime is reported to be a startlingly low 10 percent. Investigations are hampered by the cult of secrecy within the art world itself — museums sometimes don’t report thefts, fearing to reveal their vulnerability to future crimes and thereby hurt their chances of receiving new donations. “The art trade is the least transparent and least regulated commercial activity in the world,” says Julian Radcliffe, chairman of the Art Loss Register, a London-based company that maintains a leading database of stolen artworks.

Charney wants to cut through this murk by treating art theft as a scholarly discipline, drawing on a wide range of sources in an attempt to reach the first unbiased, statistically based conclusions about the nature of the crime. He has reviewed police files of art crimes in Europe and the United States from the 19th and early 20th centuries, looking for ways that past thefts might illuminate current trends, and he has questioned investigators from the F.B.I., Scotland Yard, the Spanish PolicĂ­a and the Italian Carabinieri about their often distinctive attitudes and crime-solving methods and about the different cultural and bureaucratic barriers that each force encounters. Charney has explored the legal aspects of art ownership, sale and copyright by consulting with lawyers, federal prosecutors and art insurers, seeking to chart the complex currents in the flow of stolen art worldwide and to understand how laws in certain countries smooth the passage of stolen pieces into the legitimate market.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Rhinestones and stockings's been quite a weekend!

Friday night was the office Christmas party, which was REALLY fun. The theme (they're Brits- we have to have a theme!) was Oscar night, so everyone pulled out all the stops. John unexpectedly had to go to London on Friday, which was NOT what we had planned, since the party started at 6:30 and it's an hour and a half home from London plus half an hour to Bury. He missed the 4:30 train by 2 minutes, and then rang me to tell me that he wouldn't be making it to the party. I was completely crestfallen - we'd both been really looking forward to it. He called again a few more times, to tell me that his train was delayed (the next train after the 4:30 was a 5:30...ugh), and that he would be getting to the flat some time around 8 and would see me when I got in.

I had optimistically laid out his shirt (which I'd ironed) and his tux, just in case. He texted me again at about 7, when I was at the cocktail hour, to tell me to have fun. And then I looked outside and there he was, in his tux, beaming at me. He'd taken 5pm train to Ipswich, and lined up a taxi to take him from Ipswich to home, wait while he changed, and then carry on to Bury. Awwwww. I was SO glad to see him. :)

I was at the Christmas party last year, as a 'freelancer' (since I was technically still working for the company via the NY office), and this year was MUCH more fun. I knew a lot more people and it was just a really well-run party. Here I am with my boss:

And here I am in all my blingy glory with Ruth, my choir buddy.

I borrowed ALL the rhinestones from all the women in our family (thanks, Mom, Ruthie, Sandra and Grandma!) and wore them. All of them. And my tiara. I think I would have put some rhinestones on John if he'd stood still. I was even nominated for best dressed!! I didn't win - there were some girls who were truly stunning...but I think the rhinestones helped. :)

Then yesterday I finished off our Christmas shopping, and made these stockings:

I used a Martha Stewart pattern as a springboard and went kind of nuts. They're not the same as the hand needlepoint-ed ones that Mom and Dad made for Edward and me (that are at my parent's house), but I'm still pretty proud of them.

I'm also trying to find a webby recording of the Sesame Street Christmas record that I LOVED when I was little (ok, I still love it). It's got a story about Bert and Ernie selling their favourite things to Mr. Hooper to buy each other's Christmas presents ("A soap dish for Rubber Duckie! But Bert, you shouldn't have!" and "Oh Ernie! A cigar box for my paperclip collection!") and Oscar singing the great unknown Christmas carol, "I HATE Christmas," and I'm having trouble. I can find an updated version on Amazon but not the original. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

All dressed up

It's the work party tomorrow night, so we're going to get all dressed up. I've finally grabbed these pics that Kim took at Liz's wedding (thanks Kim!). It's kind of a before and after. :)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Oh tee hee

The English have a similar thing to the American 'housing projects,' known as council flats. These have been making the rounds on the web as excerpts from letters received by the council from the council house occupants:

Subject: These are genuine clips from council complaint letters.

I wish to report that tiles are missing from the outside toilet roof - I think it was bad wind the other night that blew them off.

I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the wall.

Will you please send someone to mend the garden path. My wife tripped and fell on it yesterday and now she is pregnant.

50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster and 50% are plain filthy.

I am still having problems with smoke in my new drawers.

The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is cleared.

Our lavatory seat is broken in half and is now in three pieces.

Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two children and would like a third so please send someone round to do something about it.

This is to let you know that our lavatory seat is broke and we can't get BBC2.


On a much more serious note, they think there is a serial killer in Suffolk. Five prostitutes have been killed in Ipswich (about 10 miles from us) over the last 2 months, 3 in the last 2 weeks. I was NEVER afraid when I lived in the city but this is freaking me out. It's been the lead story on the BBC for a few days - it's not good. Read more here. Even the NYT have picked it up in their international section...yikes.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

James' Movie

James and I made this today...I think it's hysterical and John's not so sure. It was written and directed by James, starring his hand, The Claw, and various Lego extras. The sheep are my favourite. :) Enjoy!

Christmas update...

Here's our tree after an early Christmas present from Mom and Dad. (The angel...she's gorgeous!)

Saturday, December 9, 2006


I've now officially had my Christmas carol fix...the Bury Bach Choir and I have been rehearsing madly for the concert that we had tonight in the Lavenham church. The church was beautiful (and cold!), and the concert went really well. There were no unscheduled solos, and the readings were somewhat unusual but all very engaging. One of them featured hypothetical thank you notes from the recipient of the gifts featured in The Twelve Days Of Christmas. It got a big laugh from the audience. We had a surprising number of people, as well. The church was packed!

In the break between rehearsal and the concert, I went to the pub across the road with one of the tenors - we were both on our own and so we had a quick din. It turns out that his girlfriend is a horn player and is looking for people to play with. Woohoo! My horn's still in New Ro but it'll come back over with me in April.

We have a few weeks off from choir, which should be nice. I can use the time to get cracking on our Christmas cards and other such things. We put up our tree yesterday - I'll try and post a picture tomorrow.

It was making me a little sad - my parents usually go for a Nutcracker-type tree, and ours is a little fake one that doesn't smell like anything and sits on a table. Oh's better than nothing. We'll have our own ceiling-scraping tree someday. :)

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Keeping John on his toes

When John was getting dressed this morning, I heard a *snap* followed by much swearing and gnashing of teeth. The poor guy broke his toe when he stubbed it on our's all swollen and sore. He's going to work from home tomorrow because it hurts to walk - ugh.

I chipped one of the bones in the side of my foot after a somewhat gnarly skateboarding accident, so I'm v. sympathetic to foot pain.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

One More Test To Go!

Today, I passed my UK driving theory test. I've been studying sort of sporadically since the summer and taking lots of practice tests, so I wasn't too worried about the questions. The beginning of the test freaked me out, though...the first two questions weren't ANYTHING I'd seen in my studying, but I managed to figure them out. I guess driving for 9 years before taking the test helps...

Onward and upward - it's practical test time!!

Saturday, December 2, 2006


I left work early yesterday to pick up James from his after-school club, and then we went to an Advent fair that they were having at his school. He bought a mood ring (remember those?) and then asked me "Kate, what's stressed mean?" as we were leaving the school. :)

We went over to see Gillian and Martin and James' new house...which he'd described as 'like the TARDIS'. For those of you who don't know what a TARDIS is, you can find out here. Basically, it means that it's bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. And it's sort of a chalet-looking house off a busy road (we had an exciting entrance into the driveway from the street), and it's HUGE on the inside. It's got an unconventional layout, with little corridors leading from room to room, but the rooms are really big and bright. The kitchen is easily the size of my NYC apartment. And the kitchen is painted in exactly the same color scheme as my parents' dining room - dark red walls with white trim and dark wood. I really liked it, though. James is THRILLED that his room is downstairs, away from the other bedrooms.

Oh, and he keeps calling me 'Mummy' when he's not paying attention. And people in shops etc. always assume that I'm his mother. I think it's funny when James calls me Mummy (or sometimes Daddy), but I find it weirder when strangers do it. I was 16 (and very far away) when he was born...I guess I'm old enough, but only barely.