Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Travels, Part II

After a fun but exhausting weekend up in Durham, I'm off to NY tomorrow. We did lots of horsey things (riding on the cart, which was AWESOME, watching some cross-country stuff), labrador-y things, and various other stuff. We got home last night, did 3 loads of laundry (thank you, sunny day today), and now I'm all packed for NY.

I'll be there for 10 days - one of my all-time-favourite people is getting married this weekend, and then I'll be in RI for a few days with the 'rents. I'm looking forward to NOT thinking about work, work, or work.

I had two small annoying things today, which put me in a bit of a funk this afternoon. First, our long-awaited dentist appointments arrived (no weekend/late hours, and the practice is near where John used to live, so it's not convenient at ALL). I'd scheduled a cleaning/checkup/handover appointment for both of us. I went up for my appointment, where the doctor made a few notes, asked me a few questions, poked around and counted my teeth, took an x-ray and then said, OK, well if you make yourself another appointment we can sort out giving you a checkup and a cleaning and fitting you for a mouth guard. "Wait a minute," I said, "THIS is my appointment. Please do the cleaning now. I scheduled it during my vacation and arranged flights to NYC around it."

"Oh no, we can't do the cleaning today - you'll need another appointment for that." AAAAAAHHHHHHHH! So John and I have appointments in October (the soonest they could do) and we'll both have to take the day off. Apparently this dentist is an old family friend so I couldn't get annoyed at him. I AM going to mention it to the in-laws, though. NOT cool. We PAY for this shit?

Oh, and my second setback? The long-awaited tomatoes that have been green since April have ripened and turned red. Fabulous, right? NO. They taste like winter tomatoes from the supermarket. You know, all dry and mealy and completely flavorless. Ugh. I don't know what's the matter with them, but there are hundreds that are just about to ripen and if they taste like the ones I had today they're going straight in the compost bin. They're 'bush' tomatoes, rather than the stalky kind, but that shouldn't have made any difference. I've never tasted a home-grown tomato that was anything other than delicious - I don't know what's happened.

OK, rant over. I need a vacation.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Well, it's official - I know have 2 weeks off from work. Eek. I realized that I've never taken two whole weeks at once before - it's always been a week here or a few days there. I'm sure they'll be fine without me - I'm not one of those people who compulsively checks email or leaves rambling auto-responses giving details of their cell phone(s), personal emails, Skype names (!? - I had one of those today), other phones, and a detailed itinerary. Nope. If they need to find me, they will.

My dad has been scanning a lot of slides from his epic collection - here's a picture of me at the piano. Who knew that I'd end up in the music biz? (Well, maybe my parents did...)

We're going to see John's brother for a few days - it's always nice to just get away from stuff and veg at their house. Hopefully the sun will come out for at least part of the time we're there - it's been raining and COLD here for a solid week. Ugh.

John made a gorgeous dinner tonight - fresh cherry tomatoes from his mom's garden, roasted with garlic, onion and a chili, and then he added mushrooms and courgettes and some oregano and paprika. We had it over pasta and it was SO GOOD. I'll miss it when we go back to work and I don't have a full-time chef...

I heard a really funny term on the radio tonight while I was driving home (yes, the car is back!). It refers to someone who is slavishly devoted to their GPS (or Sat-Nav as it's known here), to the exclusion of all rational thought and external stimuli. The term? SatChav. I love it. Travis (my F-i-L) is the poster child SatChav.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My personal chef

The hubby is on vacation this week (I'm off next week and the week after) and he's been cooking every night. We also have the small boy, so John's been making reasonably adventurous stuff but nothing too crazy. Monday night - a glorious chickpea curry from *scratch* - not even the curry paste that I use. He mixed all the spices and started from there. It was SO good. Last night we had roasted veggies with penne, and tonight he made paella. I could get used to having a house-husband! I think tomorrow he's making veggie chili and has planned some extravagant potato-bake thing for Friday. Mmm.

I've been having some transportation adventures this week, as our car was out of commission for a few days (it's back as of this afternoon). As the Brits will know, the weather here has been absolutely appalling - gray, cold and rainy. Ugh. So getting up at 5:30 to walk to the 7:08 train (in the rain) and then walk up-hill for half an hour (still raining) in Bury hasn't exactly been my favourite thing. Then more rainy walks back in the other direction, although at least once I get home I can take a hot shower and put on my fleece pants (YES, in August) and a hoodie. Brrrr. Fred & George (the duck slippers) have been getting a lot of use this summer - they're usually in the closet from May through September.

Woah, I've nearly made it 'til 10pm - I've been in bed at 9 all week. ::yawn:: Ok, I'm not going to be a hero. At least I've only got 2 more days of the train (and house-husband is DRIVING me to the station tomorrow morning - what decadence)!

Saturday, August 18, 2007


It's been an insane week. John left on Sunday afternoon for a business trip and came back on Wednesday. I've been going flat-out at work - 8 to 6 every day with half an hour at lunch to inhale my sandwich. Things are starting to get under control, which is a relief. It's funny...when I started the new job 3 weeks ago, I didn't give myself the same 'new job allowance' - where I expect to be tired all the time, really frustrated at all the new info, etc - because I was still sitting in the same office. Different desk, but the same room. Then it hit me this week - it's still a NEW job, filled with things that I don't know. My mom always maintains that it takes a month to get to the point where you can pretty much do stuff and 6 months to get good at all of it. A month puts me at the end of next week, at which point I'm going on vacation for 2 weeks. Seemed like a good idea when I was planning it - not so much now.

Last Saturday I got a package from Kristen. John and I had helped her with her website (mostly proof-reading and stuff). She's selling really clever wine tags - check them out at She's also the one who made the notebooks that I gave Andrea and my mom for their birthdays. I'd been meaning to order one for myself but I have kind of a notebook fetish and have some unwritten-in-ones that I kept thinking I should use up first. Anyway, she mentioned that she'd send me 'a little something' as a thank-you.

'A little something' included this:

And these (pardon the picture - ick):

And, best of all, my very own mini-Taylor book.

With a starfish clasp:

It's gorgeous. I'm almost done with my current moleskine and then I'm going to transfer all the important stuff over to the new book and carry on. I can't wait - I keep thinking of things that don't really need to go in the moleskine, just so I can finish it and start on the new book.

I'm also obsessed with the wine tags on 'tag-it' - I think they're SO clever and we're always bringing bottles of wine to people. The only problem now is that when I BRING the wine, I'm so excited about the tags that I have to tell everyone about them. Oh, and there were more that were in the original package but I gave a pack to my friend Sandy, who has similar wine-giving requirements. She got all excited...woohoo!

So after the zany, care-package-filled week, we went over to our friends' house for dinner last night and had a bbq. American wife, brit (tech-y) husband. Just like us. It was great to see them and catch up.

And this morning, I was so inspired by how pretty my breakfast looked that I had to take a picture. Lucky you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Baby StowmarKate

My dad has been scanning lots of old photos - here's one he sent me from when I was v. little. We always called these 'swimmies'...most of the kids that I know now call them 'floaties'. I definitely was more in the swimming than the floating camp...

I somehow got myself roped into editing the Bury Bach Choir newsletter and I've been completely avoiding it. I sent out a mass email soliciting submissions and I've had quite a few, which is good news. The bad news is that I'm creating it in Scribus, which is an open-source program for linux. Not only do I not really know how to edit a newsletter, the only designing I've done until now has been in Microsoft Publisher. Lovely. Supposedly Scribus is 'a lot like Quark', which doesn't really help me. I need an open-source publishing app for non-designers like me. Or, I need to stop saying yes to things that I don't really know how to do. Either one would work.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Colliding worlds

My roomie C found this:

Not only is it the HP trio, but Rupert Grint's tshirt is the same as the poster that we have in our living room (still waiting to be hung on the wall, though). ::swooon::

Oh, and this is StowmarKate a la Simpson.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

BBQ fiend

I'm a bbq fiend - I attended not 1 but 2 yesterday. The first one was for the boys, at our house - John's buddies came round for the day and I made them lunch. We fired up the grill with some organic charcoal from the farm shop (it burns really well and has an awesome flavor) and made red curry chicken kebabs. I had some Thai Chili sauce as well - it really improved it. Oh, and I used low-fat coconut milk instead because I can't stand the regular stuff - it's always so gloopy.

Here's the BBC Good Food's pic - ours didn't have the individual grill marks on the piece of chicken - my personal food stylist is on vacation. Otherwise, that was pretty much it.

On to the second bbq, at a friend's house - there were some work-y people and lots (more) fab food. We all sat outside the whole time - it's finally starting to feel like summer.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Google maps

We live out in the country. I'm not disputing that. Suffolk is a v. rural county and is known for sausages and sheep. But really, Google Earth needs to do some updating. Why, you ask?

Well, our house is new. But not THAT new. And we're not the only ones up here. But when you type our postcode into google maps, what image do you get?

Maybe that's why my garden is doing so well...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


The honeysuckle in the backyard (thanks, Mom & Dad!) has been threatening to flower since the weekend, and went I went out after dinner to water the tomatoes (green but getting bigger), I noticed that there were some open flowers. They smell SO good. And there are about 50 more buds on the plant - it's going to smell great this weekend.

Our border plants are also really psyched about life. Here they are the day they were planted:

And here they are now:

Oh, and Freda brought us some lavender from her garden - it's not the best picture but you should be able to imagine how fantastic it smells...

I've been going flat-out at work - one of the women I work with is on vacation and the other has switched departments. My boss is being really supportive, though, and I LOVE having the office to myself. Someone came in yesterday and said I looked lonely, and then said, "But who do you talk to?" Umm...I'm working? And if I really need to talk to someone, I can talk to myself. Besides, there's an office full of people across the hall and my boss is 2 offices down. The days have flown by - I've been super busy and I feel like I'm cramming my brain full of all the new info.