Friday, March 31, 2006

Spring has sprung!!

Oh glorious glory sunshine birds daffodils happy times! Sorry, I got a teensy bit carried away with happy springy words there. But it's true. London has begun it's transformation from dreary cold blah-blah-dee-blah-bleh to gorgeous mild days where you don't even have to wear a scarf or gloves. And just in time for this most beautious of occasions, I have acquired the piece-de-resistance of my spring/fall transition-period outerwear wardrobe. That's right. The forever classic, always stylish, make-you-feel-like-a-million-bucks-no-matter-what cream Burberry trench. Oh my, it's lovely. I'm going to go make googly-eyes at it for a while.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Why do I think people care?

I added some new content to the sidebar and I'm not sure why. Specifically, two sections - one about books and one about music. What I'm currently reading and other books I've enjoyed over the years. Also what my most recent iTunes purchase was and other recent ones. I suppose if there are people out there who actually read this site and my ramblings, maybe there are people out there who actually care what book I'm reading and what music I'm listening to. Okay, now that I've written that out, the less likely I think it is. However, what are blogs really but a huge display of self-indulgence? Me me me!!! And more about me! And just when you think you've had just about enough of me.... more ME!!!! So there. Pbbbbtttttttt. (That's me sticking out my tongue and making a fart-y noise.)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Miss me yet, Dutchies?

Well, my Amsterdam adventure started off with a bang. I walked out of the airport and got myself a cab. When I say cab, I don't mean like a yellow cab or anything like that. Nooooo sir-ee. There was a line of shiny Mercedes Benz's just clamoring to relieve me of €30 or so. I pick out a lovely white one and climb in. Because that's how I roll. High class all the way. The driver is playing and singing along to a Billy Joel CD. We're driving along. It's a lovely sunny afternoon... and all the sudden, a sporty little BMW cuts us off. My driver lays on his horn and when the light turns green, he guns it to cut in front of the BMW and once he's in front of it, ...wait for it... SLAMS on the brakes, opens the door, gets out of the car in the middle of the street and walks up to the BMW and starts banging on the hood and screaming at the driver. Ummmm, I'm still sitting here in the back seat trying to act like nothing's going on and when he finally gets back in the car, he resumes singing along to Billy Joel and asks me if I like "Uptown Girl". (And I do. Who doesn't like Uptown Girl? But that's beside the point.) Only in my world would something that bizzare happen.

Well, I finally make it to the hotel in one piece and decide to go for a stroll in Vondelpark since it was right next to our hotel and I had some time to kill before Jason got in from work. It was so beautiful! Especially on a nice sunny day and with the sun reflecting off all the little ponds and streams. It was then I began to discover that I am either really hot to the Dutchies or I have "Dumb, Approachable American Girl" stamped on my forehead. I'm going for the latter. Either way, I passed by this group of dudes in the park and they started yelling "Hey, pretty lady, come drink with us!" When I didn't acknowledge them, they started walking over to me saying "Caio Bella!". I guess they thought I was Italian? Anyway, once I gave them the polite brush off, I walked a bit further and two guys on bikes hit the brakes right in front of me and said, "Are you all alone this beautiful afternoon?" When I finally made it to Cafe Vertigo to have a coffee and read, another group of guys walked over and asked if I wanted company. What the heck?

Anyway, Friday morning, Jason had to go to work for his closing conference and I spent some time at Waterlooplein - a flea market. Later that afternoon, we went to the Rijksmuseum and then decided to go see the Anne Frank House that evening. We got word to go either really early or late as the queues can be outrageous otherwise. Going at night was the best decision ever. We were able to walk right in, and were two of only about 20 people in the whole place. It made the experience all that much more moving. We were standing in Anne's bedroom, just the two of us, and as we were looking at the pinups of film stars she had decorated her walls with, the bells of Westerkerk (the church next to the annexe) began to ring. These were the very bells she and her family used to hear. It was very moving. I had decided to re-read The Diary of a Young Girl before we came on this trip just to refresh myself with her experience. I'm so glad I did. It made it all the much more meaningful. When we walked around the corner and I stood face-to-face with the bookcase that hid the secret door to the hiding place, I felt like my heart skipped a beat. It really was an undescribable experience...

Saturday, we hit the Van Gogh Museum which was awesome because, as everyone knows, I love Van Gogh. Then we took a canal cruise! With little mini bottles of wine! And that was awesome too! Even though the wine was called "Chardonette"!

That evening, we hit the town. Did she or didn't she? A lady never tells.

Then, it was Sunday Sunday Sunday! And we went to this cute little village called Zaanse Schans. It was so cute! It had windmills, and a cheese farm, and a little wooden clog workshop and loads of other fun stuff. But after all this wholesomeness, we needed to get back to debauchery. So it was off back to Amsterdam and to the Heineken Brewery. Where for €10, you get a fun tour, 3 beers, a Heineken glass, and just enough of a beer buzz to put you right to sleep for the flight home. Not a bad deal!

Here are all the photos.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Holler Amsterdam!

I'm going to Amsterdam and you're not. Hah! So suck it! Y'all tune in next week for pictures now, ya hear?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I swear my cat isn't devil spawn. Really I do!

This morning I got out our fancy schmancy camera and the manual to play around with it and try to actually learn some of the features. Here are a couple of the resulting shots after Elwin got very interested in what I was doing.

I feel like I need to phone a priest or something to exorcise the demons from my otherwise cute cuddly kitten.


Later today, I walked into the living room and discovered this. Finally. Proof my cat really is cute.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

One bottle of wine, two bottle of wine, three bottle of wine... FLOOR!

I've only just now gotten over this hangover enough to write about it. As of last night, the sight of a bottle of wine was still giving me the skeevies. Saturday night, although my foot was still a bit swollen and hurt, I was able to walk on it with a slight limp so we decided that I could manage a quiet night out at a restaurant just around the corner from our flat. I happened to talk to my friend Monique that afternoon so I mentioned our plan to her and they joined us. Over the course of dinner, a few bottles of wine were consumed and when Monique and Murray mentioned walking across the street to a bar, I thought it was a great idea. My inner monologue went something like this: "Well, 'sonly 'cross the lil' ol' street. I can tolly manage that."

Ok, this isn't so bad. We look pretty cute, right?

Oh that Murray... What a jokester.

I love the girl there in the right corner. She's all "Yeah, look how much fun those people are having! Me too! Wheeeee!"

Is it weird that I have no clue who this dude is? Warning girls. This is what happens when your husbands leave you to go to the bar and do shots. Hmmm, also starting to look a little worse for the wear. Love the 1/4-closed eye.

Curses on you Monique. No matter that you've had just as many drinks as me, you still look like it's the beginning of the night. Well, except for the "hen party" banner you ripped off the wall...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Happy *&%$#@*%!@$*# St. Patty's Day

Well. I had a lovely St. Patty's day. We were in Covent Garden trying to meet up with some friends and I turned my ankle on some uneven pavement. When I say turned, I mean TURNED. Could not walk TURNED. Standing in the street crying TURNED. Jason had to carry me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes TURNED. When we finally got back to our flat, we realized that we had to somehow remove my boot. As my luck would have it, I wasn't wearing zip up boots, but my cowboy boots instead. So, imagine, if you will, me sitting in the bathroom howling in agony while Jason tries to pull this thing off my foot. Once he finally gets it off, we discover a swollen black-and-blue mass, roughly the size of a baseball, sticking out of my ankle. It was so ugly, I almost threw up at the sight of it. So I spent my first UK St. Patrick's Day on the couch, crying, with my foot iced, wrapped, and elevated. Yay me.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Since my life is boring this week...

Here's a fun little time waster. You pick an artist/band and answer the questions with song titles/lyrics. If anyone takes the time to do this for yourself, post a comment with your answers. I'd be very interested to see other people's... Here's mine:

1. Name of band/artist: Jason Mraz
2. Are you male or female?: Bella Luna
3. Describe yourself: Geek in the Pink
4. How do you feel about yourself?: I'll Do Anything
5. Describe your ex girlfriend/boyfriend: The Boy's Gone
6. Describe current girlfriend/boyfriend: O. Lover
7. Describe where you want to be: Summer Breeze (he did a cover version, does that count?)
8. Describe how you live: Dreamlife of Rand McNally
9. Describe how you love: Life is Wonderful
10. What would you ask for if you had just one wish?: 1000 Things
11. Share a few words of wisdom: Well you're magic he said, But don't let it all go to your head
12. Now say goodbye: Did I Fool Ya?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Ciiiiiiiiiiiiiiiircle of Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiife...... and "Awwww, you like Comet?"

My top favorite things that happened this weekend (in no specific order):
1. Yummy Thai food
2. American Idol top 12
3. Spontaneous evening at the opera to see the closing night of La Boheme
4. Yummy Italian food
5. Even more spontaneous afternoon at the theatre to see The Lion King

So Jason and I just got back from our day out and about London Town and it was fab-u-lous. We had a late lunch at a pub near Covent Garden and when we walked out, we saw a swarm of people outisde the Lyceum Theatre. Apparently, it was about a half hour before the matinee showing of The Lion King. So Jason says "You wanna see if they have any tickets available?" I thought he was kidding since we had just gone to the opera last night but sure enough, he walks right into the box office and we wind up with two seats pretty near the front! I can't remember the last time I felt like such a little wide-eyed kid. It was the most visually stunning show I have EVER seen. I had cold chills in the opening scene with all the animals. I was teary-eyed during "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?". I mean, I almost cried at a couple of lions falling in love for chrissakes. I wanted to stand up and cheer when Simba decided to go back to Pride Rock and "be King, Simba! Go home and be King!!!" (shout-out to Katie). It was absolutely wonderful. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

Now, backtracking to Saturday night... We had no idea what we wanted to do this weekend. We were tossing about the idea of a little overnighter somewhere, or maybe just hanging around London... So, I go online and realize that La Boheme is on for its final night at Royal Albert Hall. I have always wanted to see this opera. Quel tragedy. So we book the tickets and then decide that we'll go tour the Royal Albert Hall too to get the full experience.

While we're on the tour, we get to see the Queen's box and discover that our box is just two over from the Queen's! Holy moly! Now, while we didn't expect the Queen to be there, we were pretty excited because we figure that means our seats are pretty freaking good. On another note, we also saw the Royal Retiring Room where the Queen and her guests hang out pre and post show and during the interval. More importantly, we went in the Queen's loo. Now, I don't mean we "went" in the Queen's loo. But how cool would that be? Still, cool enough that I was actually in there.

And our seats turned out to be, in fact, very very good. Here we are in our box. It was a really great production. Sung in English, which was interesting. An Italian opera, set in France, sung in English. Again, I got a little moist in the eye area during one of the final scenes with Mimi and Rodolpho. Beautiful.

Ok. I'm going to have to discuss his "photo face" with him. He looks mad.

We then found ourselves once again at Pulcinella, the Italian restaurant we went to the night of Guys and Dolls. Easily the best lasagne in London. Easily.

Friday, Friday Friday!

Ok, that was a total tease. Nothing much really happened on Friday night, except we had a great Thai meal. I'm so shy and demure. (Snort.)

Lastly, Sunday morning, I woke up and decided to watch the American Idol that we recorded on our Sky box Friday night. Now, we can't vote here and they show the whole week's activity in one night, so it's very different but I complain not. I can't tell you how happy I am that I even GET the show. I never would have guessed they'd show it here. Anyway, I am 100% behind Kellie Pickler. I think that girl is about the cutest thing since the pink iPod mini. And every week, she says something that makes me love her even more. Last week, it was "I had a spinach salad here in Hollywood. I thought that thang tasted 'bout like leaves off a bush." This week, her little video clip was about how she misses her dog Comet. Then, after her performance, Randy Jackson is telling her how much he liked her clip because he loves dogs too and she goes "Awwww, you like Comet?!" I love this girl. I wish so badly I coud vote for her. Also, loving this guy:

For obvious reasons. Yummy.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Gah! How did I miss this???

Oh for the love of former popstars who are now married but haven't gained 75% body fat by eating cheeto's day in and day out! (Mmmmmmm-hmmmmmmm. I'm looking at you Britney.) Christina Aguilera was partying near my 'hood Tuesday night! Gawd! (South Kensington is about 5 mins away.) Curses on me for laying around in my Strawberry Shortcake jammies and eating mexican food while watching Felicity DVD's. I could have been hanging with Mr. and Mrs. Aguilera. Oh well. Apparently, my life is one big, fat missed celebrity sighting.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Am I nuts?

I remember when I was in college, hitting that middle-of-the-night breaking point the night before a big exam or before a paper was due, and throwing my head onto the library desk or Jake's Diner table in exhaustion, knowing full well that no matter how much I longed for the dark cave of my winnie-the-pooh comforter and pillow, I had to keep going till sunrise. I remember thinking to myself (or out loud, depending on my study partner), "I can't wait till I'm out of here, making lots of money and I can pay my bills and go to bed whenever I damn well please." On the other hand, I also recall that almost giddy excitement of going out to buy "supplies" for the all-nighter to come. Mtn. Dew, No-Doze, loads of chocolate, Doritos, etc. When everyone was fresh-faced and, in a weird sadistic way, almost excited about spening the whole night together, laughing, studying, eating, drinking. Then, almost worse than the aforementioned "middle-of-the-night breaking point" was the exact moment you would see the first tinges of sunlight. Oh god. I remember it all too well.

So, back to my original question. Recently, I've been watching DVD's of Felicity and finding myself almost wistful during the scenes of everyone cramming for finals. Maybe it's got something to do with the fact that it's all very romanticized on the show. I know this. I know that no one looks all cute and frisky and rosy-cheeked in the middle of an all-nighter. I know that it's impossible for one's fresh, crisp white shirt to still be crisp well into the next day. I won't even mention the lack of "freshness". Maybe it also has something to do with how cutesey Felicity and Ben were at the end of Season 2 when Ben finally got his head out of his nether-regions and realized they should be together. That always reminds me of when Jason and I met and how, every single night, we would sit on the couch in the hall outside my dormroom and talk about anything and everything until the wee hours when the pauses between topics would grow a little longer and we couldn't hold our eyes open any more.

I think I need to switch to Sex and the City episodes for a while.

Monday, March 06, 2006

What I did on my first-weekend-of-March-2006 vacation

I know you've all waited with bated breath to find out what crazy adventures I got into this weekend so without further delay....

Cheese! We went to Borough Market on Saturday morning and walked up just as this guy was cracking into a fresh wheel of parm. It was quite the procedure. Yes, we bought some.

Rugby! Then we saw this sign outside a pub. It cracked me up since it really captures "rugby". From now on, this is how I'm going to describe rugby to anyone who asks. People ask. Oh yes they do.

Art! Then, we decided to go to the Tate Modern Museum. Some modern art, I get. Jackson Pollock fascinates me. Dali scares me - in a good way. A lot of modern art, I don't get. There was one display of different chalk boards, some with sketches, etc. But one of them just had, literally, like four words written on it. I don't remember what the words were and I very much wish I had written them down because it really was just seemingly pointless words. I asked Jason if he ever felt that sometimes artists do stuff like this as a joke and think to themselves, "Oh my God - this will be so funny! I'll write the words cranberry, bowl, sock, and lung on a chalkboard, call it art and see if those idiots are stupid enough to coddle me, tell me it's brilliant, and actually hang it in one of the most respected galleries in the world!! Holy crap it worked! Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!" The photo you see here is in this cool display of mountains and mountains of wax cubes. When I say cool, I mean cool mostly due to the sheer size of it. It was like a maze sort of.

Shop! We braved Camden Market today. Don't let this peaceful picture of the cute little boat and charming little bridge fool you. It was nuts. Loads of London punks and various unsavory folks milling about. In fact, at one point, we were walking along the street and passed a shop that sold pretty much anything you could ever want in black shiny leather and there was a dude standing outside the shop, wearing entirely too many accessories which sported metal spikes, singing along with the blaring devil music coming out of the shop, and right as I walked by him, the lyrics just happened to be "I am your demon". Imagine this sang in a very scary, throaty kind of voice and you can perhaps understand my skittishness. However, I very much enjoyed Camden and got myself a way-cooler-than-I-actually-am Ramones tee.

Beer! For Jason.

Tea! For me.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I don't think you're ready for this jelly

'Cause my body's too Bodeanlicious for you babaaaay. (I officially apologize to Destiny's Child and specifically to one Miss Beyonce Knowles for that.) Last week Jason and I noticed that a Bodean's was opening in our 'hood. It's a small chain of BBQ joints that supposedly cater to expats living in London. We were super excited and went to try it out tonight. Ummm, holy pulled pork, Batman. Let me set the scene for you. We walk in and Dwight Yokam music is playing. They have a few plasma screen tv's on which they show all NASN, all the time. For those of you who don't live on my continent, that's the North American Sports Network. We sit down and order ourselves up some BBQ. A few minutes later, our waitress brings over sundry and assorted sauces. One of them was in a vinegar-shaker type bottle and had no label. "What's this one?" I ask. She replies, "It's our Carolina sau...", at which point I gasp, put my hand over my heart in reverence (which, in retrospect, was possibly a TAD dramatic, but, let's face it - I am a Southern Belle afterall) and ask breathlessly, "You mean it's vinegar based???". Now, anyone reading this who isn't from the great state of Nawth Carahlina may not quite understand the profundity of this discovery. In NC, BBQ sauce is a religion of sorts. Eastern NC sauce versus Western NC sauce is one of the great debates which can easily end in a fist fight. I can't go into specifics because that's a topic for another day entirely. The only thing the two sides seem to agree on is that what Texans call BBQ isn't worth the paper napkin you use to wipe your mouth. Let's just suffice it to say that I was made a very happy gal indeed.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I love being a tourist in my own backyard

Last weekend, although cold, was georgeously sunny here so Jason and I decided to get out and take some photos to enlarge and hang up. Our living room is decorated in all black and white photographs from our travels and from Raleigh (to remind us of home). So we toured the Tower Bridge exhibit and Hampton Court Palace. Educational AND fun! What more can one ask for???

Here are the photos.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I'm all growns up and I'm all growns up and I'm all growns up

Props to anyone who knows the movie the title of this post refers to. If you know, you're my kind of people. If you don't, I'm willing to give you a chance anyway.

Today, Jason invited me to come to his office and have lunch with him. They have a fancy schmancy little restaurant on site there so he booked us a table and dine we did. It was a bit surreal, sitting there with him all dressed up in his "I'm a manager" trousers and crisp shirt and me looking every part the stay-at-home-wife in my dark denim and high heel boots, sipping wine and discussing the charity I'm starting to volunteer for and where we'll holiday next. I suddenly felt the overwhelming urge to start blabbering on about the latest brat featured on "My Super Sweet Sixteen" or who's going to win "American Idol" to counteract the mood with some immaturity. But I didn't. I did, however, start giggling and saying how I felt like this was a very adult thing to be doing and giggled some more. Because I'm mature like that.

Well, gotta scoot. "Somebody Told Me" by The Killers just came on the iPod and that's my favorite song to housework dance to. And the number 211 bus is going to pull up any minute and be waiting for the afternoon showing of my "Dustbustering Jig".