15 March 2011

Make a roast without even trying.....

Seriously you can look like an awesome girlfriend (or a really together with it lady) with very little work....

Ingredients:
Roasting Chicken
Carrots (add parsnips too)
potatoes
olive oil
salt
pepper
chicken stock
white wine
lemon

1) Prep chicken and remove giblets (you can use them to make gravy I typically thicken the juices)
2) Cut all root veggies to be about 1/2 inch thick- try to keep them even for good cooking
3) Place chicken upside down in 9"x13" roasting pan and drizzle olive oil and rub into skin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.* Flip chicken over and place in the middle of the pan. Repeat olive oil and seasoning
4) Scatter cut veggies around chicken and give a light drizzle of olive oil salt and pepper
5) Fill the pan with a 50/50 combo of chicken stock and white wine so the top of the veggies still stick out
6) Cut lemon in half and place inside the cavity of the chicken (keeps it moist and flavors the meat)

If you are good with your knife skills the total prep time should be around 10 minutes

7) Place in oven for 90 minutes at 350F

Get dressed, set the table and light some candles. Look like a rockstar when it comes out.

*If you want to get more creative you can try a cajun spice as well, rosemary or any other seasoning combo
2) Scl

11 March 2011

Dublin Bound!!!

Tomorrow AM the Mr and I get to head to Dublin....

Pics to come

09 March 2011

The wedding Craziness has been moved to a separate blog due to my attempt to be a wedding bee.. you can follow here: http://4weddingsnamove.blogspot.com/

But for today I will make it easy for you-

We are having the big formal wedding in the States and a "fill in adjective" in jolly old England. So before I go into the disaster that was wedding planning we need to define what this England party wedding thing is.

First it needs a name because "English wedding" just ends up confusing a lot of people. So break out the thesaurus:
Main Entry: wedding
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: marriage rite
Synonyms: bells, bridal, espousal, hook, marriage, marriage ceremony, matrimony, nuptial rite, nuptials,spousal, union, wedlock
- none of these seem to clue in on the awesome party we plan on having so how about another word:

Main Entry: party
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: social gathering
Synonyms: affair, amusement, at home, ball, banquet, barbecue, bash*, blowout, carousal, carousing,celebration, cocktails, coffee klatch, coming-out,dinner, diversion*, do*, entertainment, feast,festive occasion, festivity, fete, fun, function,gala, get-together, luncheon, movable feast,orgy, prom, reception, riot, shindig*, social,soiree, splurge, spree*, tea

DO! Its the perfect English word for a party. After all Mr. FMB will be having a stag-do and I will be having a hen-do. So the English wedding is in Sheffield (the steel city and home of The Full Monty). So its official we are having a wedding and the Sheff-Do.

Now that that is settled lets go back to our classic of "A Tale of Two Venues"

THE WEDDING:
After the very romantic proposal (that involves its own post) I immediately had a decision to make. Do I get married at home in upstate NY or at my catholic college in central MA. I browsed the options available to me in both and decided to go for the campus wedding. However it is well known that our college chapel books up 2 years in advance. In fact its rumored that if you are a couple your senior year who may get married in the future you may as well book your date before you graduate. So with Mr. FMB's brother on a trip around the world, we settled on a end of July date and had a backup just in case.

Well I call up the chapel- date, time, open, booked, done. The college has a beautiful ballroom right on campus and the surrounding area has many other venues but are a good drive away. With everyone traveling to the wedding from as far as TX, CA and England (and we shouldn't let those last ones loose on roads with MA drivers) I went to book the ballroom- date, time, open, booked, done. I decided I was done planning the wedding for then (we were 11 months out still). Now before you venue crazed brides out there create a voodoo doll and pull out the pins remember... this is a Tale of TWO venues, so there must be more to come.

THE SHEFF-DO
Now due to round trip flights from England being in excess of $1000 in July many of Mr. FMB's friends are not able to make the trip (Luckily his entire family can though). So in comes the Sheff-Do. Mr. FMB being the diligent groom he is did some research around the same time I was booking the venue stateside. He saw a venue in the cheery English summer and liked it, however he did not want to book it without me seeing it. So several months later I am in England in December and we looked at the venue and WWIII began. Luckily a treaty was signed just as I was heading back to the states for work.

We continued to do some research and discussed what we wanted for the Sheff-Do with the safety barrier of the Atlantic Ocean between us. We picked out three locations: traditional ballroom in hotel outside the city, traditional ballroom in hotel inside the city, the skyline suite at an athletics facility inside the city. So we made appointments last weekend and took a train over to Sheffield. However this time we were armed with a secret weapon, one that allowed us to pick an amazing venue and and still save over 50%....
we changed our date to... a... Friday. This allowed us to book the best venue that we both fell in love with and still be able to afford furniture for the new house (although we may want to steal the hotels chairs). Which one do you think we decided on?

I will reveal pics of both venues tomorrow. What was your venue search like- too easy or did it require a mediator?

08 March 2011

Call it what you want... but call it delicious


Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Máirt Inide, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Fastnacht Day, Tuesday of Carnival, Terça-feira Gorda, Malasada Day, Sprengidagur, Uzgavenes, Pączki Day

Around the world in any language its a celebration we all share. As tomorrow is the first day of lent, a time of sacrifice and reflection in the Christian church, this Tuesday marks the last day of indulgence. Traditionally lent was a time of fasting (we get off easy not eating meat on just Fridays) so on this day all of the rest of the rich ingredients needed to be used up so they would not good bad over the next 40 days. In the anglo world they decided to make pancakes (US translation- Crepes) and top them will all the goodness.

Now for those of you who have not been graced with the magic that is Mr. Crepe there are two ways you can rock this boat.... Savory or Sweet...

For fillings:
Savory- bacon, brie, cheddar, rocket, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, chicken, sausage, peppers, eggs, pesto, salsa, spinach, chorizo, pulled pork, salmon, steak, feta, caprice

Sweet- nutella, lemon, sugar, powered sugar, bananas, ice cream, chocolate sauce, strawberries, blueberries, any berries

As you can see the options are basically endless.... personally I plan on the following:
Dinner- Chicken, brie, spinach, sun-dried tomato
Dessert: Nutella and chocolate

What is your favorite topping combo?

07 March 2011

An empty space... to fill with dreams


That is what my new house is. Since I have been here (3 weeks to date) we have been waiting on notice of our move date. All we can do till then is dream and plan and dream a bit more. One dream we have... a wedgie garden.

Now those of you who don't know a little background: vegetable = wedgetable= wedgie

I already have my awesome to the max waterproof and warm wellies from LLbean. And I have brokered a deal with my male half to build me up a raised bed so we can supplement our clay soil with other. (I also plan on composting for nutrients but that is another story). So in 2-3 months time when we have all that in what do we do.....

Well the man has been promised a chili patch of his own. Surely he will follow the slashfood blogs way to make your own chili sauce on that one. Other than that we need to be reasonable-

Herbs (will be separate and potted in planters for winter)
Tomatoes
Cukes
Zuchinni
Eggplant
Beans (of the green variety)
Squash
Peppers
Pumpkins
Carrots
Garlic
Potatoes
Parsnips

Now I need to do some reading as I will need to start seedlings indoors soon after the move, however some of these I have not grown before. Farmers almanac research to come....

03 March 2011

My father failed me.....


... at least when it comes to driving. You see when I was a young girl of 16 we only had one car on the road, an automatic Toyota Sienna. So I learned to drive start, turn, three point turn, stop in snow and parallel park that large lass (now being able to parallel park my F150 all over Boston and Austin doesn't seem to hard). Just before I took my test my dad put the '95 Accord he had in storage back on the road and I was good to go from them on. When I moved to Texas I left the aging accord to my brother and bought Reba, my beloved F150 which was also an automatic.

Now I life in a place where gasoline is more than twice as much as the states and not only are the cars ridiculously small, they have the steering wheel on the wrong side and they are almost all standard. Basically I am screwed. Essentially I will end up buying a car that I wont be able to drive and will have to completely retake a road test in order to be legal to drive.

So this weekend the boy and I are to set off to Sheffield to plan the big party over there and were going to rent so I can get used to the roads. On our way home we can stop off at my rugby game and it will all be good right? So we check into cars and enterprise has a special on for £65 for a three day rental (ie we can actually function like normal people who own cars and do a few errands too). So we book an automatic only to receive a call an hour later that there are no automatics anywhere in the city of Birmingham to rent. Ugh!

Now logically the easiest would be for Tony to drive right? Well I explain that I booked with them, they cant provide anything but manual, so in exchange I will provide a manual driver if they wave the fee.... this fee is an issue and ridiculous. Now because I am robbing the proverbial cradle, there is an extra charge of £90 for Tony to drive. This more than doubles the rate of the rental. Sadly, Enterprise did not buy my logic. Somehow its a better gamble to let an american who barely knows how to shift a manual or drive on these roads have a car then someone who has been driving here for 9 years. Basically boys under 25 just can not be trusted.

So its back to the train for us... cue up a movie, pop a bottle of wine and poof we will be in Sheffield to have a roast dinner and out with friends.



Introducing the Ford Ka- a great vehicle for a family of 4 in the UK (if you are clowns)

... and eat it too


Unlike many other brides I do not get to taste any of my foods or cake (Atlantic ocean problem). I don't even like cake. Thankfully I have parental units who are willing to sacrifice themselves to go cake tasting for me this weekend (like angels I know....)

Anyone want to weigh in on the selection of choices?

Gènoise

A light airy cake made with fresh orange juice, layered with fresh sliced strawberries and Italian meringue buttercream.

White Cake

A light tender cake with alternating thin layers of raspberry jam and Italian meringue buttercream.

Chocolate Gènoise

Four layers of a chocolate genoise, laced with a hint of raspberry, layered with milk chocolate butter cream and white chocolate buttercream.

Devils Food

A luscious chocolate cake, soaked with rum syrup, layered with a semi-sweet chocolate Italian meringue buttercream.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake

A moist lemon cake, layered with a creamy lemon Italian meringue buttercream.

Opera Cake

A traditional French favorite, a light almond cake, soaked with an espresso syrup, alternately layered with espresso ganache and mocha buttercream.


Don't panic... this is not my cake. Mine shall be much much larger!

02 March 2011

Tasty T- Date night style


Living in a house with 4 boys and their occasional girlfriends is in many words... interesting. Trying to save up money to buy furniture and decorate the new house makes going out a bit harder than it was back in my days of Boston. So what is a girl to do for date night? If we cooked at home it would be just another night in and most likely we would end up cooking for everyone as well (group date!) Luckily 2/3 of my favorite websites have British counterparts which many times end up being tasty.

In the case you have been living under a rock the last year (one company was offered a $6billion buyout from Google and turned it down... so yeah they are kind of a big deal) there was this brilliant revolution in coupons. Ever since the tinternet took off savvy savers have been taking advantage of its price comparisons and coupons. Then the revolution happened.... each day to your doorstep you can have a special deal over 50% off delivered right to your mailbox (or crackberry if you are me). Like it... buy it, print it, use it.... or if not just continue perusing your mail. Buywithme.com operates only stateside but often has more than one deal at a time. However my current lifelines are below (note I subscribe to Birmingham, Sheffield and London deals).

www.groupon.co.uk (US- www.groupon.com)- The host of our date night tonight as we bought a three course Vietnamese meal for two for only £15. Also known to have great places back in Boston like Redbones and many other favorites.

www.livingsocial.co.uk (US- www.livingsocial.com)- has great daily deals but also awesome get aways. We captured an amazing 2 night get away to the white mountains for after the wedding including meals, champagne and chocolate and a cooking class for only $275. Crazy right? Now if only they can have a wedding package deal so I can be done planning....

So go on my deal finding friends... in the comfort of your home, delivered straight to your blackberry.... so you don't have to look like the crazy coupon lady below :)



28 February 2011

Used vs Ikea?




"Like everyone else, I had become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct. If I saw something like clever coffee table sin the shape of a yin and yang, I had to have it. I would flip through catalogs and wonder, "What kind of dining set defines me as a person?" We used to read pornography. Now it was the Horchow Collection. I had it all. Even the glass dishes with tiny bubbles and imperfections, proof they were crafted by the honest, simple, hard-working indigenous peoples of wherever."- Fight Club


Us 20 somethings are definitely the Ikea generation. Cheap, functional, clean cut.... just don't fall into it as it will completely collapse under the weight of a toddler. So what is a young person to do when they need to outfit a house from scratch on the cheap... but they don't want to do the same in another year?

Well the one alternative are websites like craigslist.org or its UK version gumtree.com. If you are patient and have a good eye you can slowly collect the perfect housewares and furniture at less than half the price of even Ikea. Also an advantage is gained if you have your own transport and manpower to haul things away. A fabulous real wood dining set for £50... sure! Leather sofa and chair for £150... Score!

But somethings are just need to be bought new. Example one- a bed- mainly due to the cootie effect. Appliances also are worth the investment as repairs can be very costly. But everything else... gumtree here we come.... (except the 365 dish set, we will hit up Ikea for that... if you can find it in the maze)

I could beat a mugger with this purse!


Well those of you who know my style know I enjoy my large bags and wallets. My shoulder muscles have spent the last few years over-developing to comfortably carry large bags with all my ridiculousness in them. Mock me if you wish but when you need tissues, chapstick, pain killers, antacids, change or an epi-pen I am so your girl. However recently I have been experiencing a weight issue and its not due to my collection of sundries but the damn change I have been collecting.

I am slowly coming round to saying the word pounds instead of dollars but when it comes to pulling the money out of my wallet my thoughts have not changed. I pull out bills.. bills have meaning... bills actually pay for something. Unless you are paying a toll or buying a pack of gum or need to pay parking (save your quarters!!)....change is pretty much useless. So the change just collects. Well I currently have about 10 pounds or gbp in change in my wallet, this also happens to weigh about 10lbs so beware muggers because I will swing and take you down to chinatown. (Translation I have over $16 change in my wallet and it is almost considered a concealed weapon)

In order to save my poor shoulders I will start dumping all change into the "honeymoon" fund. Lets see where that leaves us in September!


24 February 2011

Travel tools of the faithful.....


I will preface by saying I may be biased. I am a fan of two websites to plan most of my travel (although I will stray for discount airlines). These are www.kayak.com and www.hotels.com. Kayak does a great job of fare comparisons of the majors and makes it easy to link and buy. Hotels.com is typically the same price or better than conference rates and you earn a free stay for every 10 (when you travel for work this adds up fast... like two free nights in Dublin :) )

Now I know there are cheaper options when it comes to hotels however I have been burned by both hotwire.com and priceline.com. If you know the city you are traveling to well than these can be great options. However they are businesses out to make money and often their "zones" include sketchy areas outside of what the zone is named. Example- the banned hotel in DC on NY ave that is considered close to the conference center (2 miles close with no transport and amongst strip clubs). So if you are brave go for it... but if you are going on the blind better to be safe.

So this brings me to my next business trip to Germany. There are two conferences back to back in Bonn and Karsruhe. Both of these are local to Frankfurt which is a nice direct cheap flight from the Brum. So the plan is: Thurs- Friday Bonn, Friday- Sunday Frankfurt, Sunday- Tuesday Karlsruhe. Planes, Trains and conferences don't scare me... but where to stay and what to do in Frankfurt (I will be bringing the boy out to join me) I am left clueless.

Over the last couple of years all my travel has been for work or family leaving me no time to think of what I would do if I actually was to take a vacation somewhere. (OK yes we are going to Dublin but I have been there before, they speak some odd form of English and we intend on watching six nations and going to St. James Gate). Master of the web to coordinate travel I am, but I have no clue where to go to get suggestions on sites to see. Over the next week I will be investigating good travel advice sites and report back. Until then... kayak away!

(Doesn't this look like part of a Christmas Village?)

22 February 2011

What does this picture make you think.....



Babies? Bad hair cuts we give out children? Did anyone think rugby? (or did you just think its a funny looking ball)

I am that rare american female that does play rugby and loves it. In fact as the wedding is 150 days away (according to our website http://weddings.theknot.com/pwp/pwp2/view/MemberPage.aspx?coupleid=7559035717474831) I need to be active roughly 13 hours a day to achieve my goal. I have been intending since before I had that ring on my finger to get back into the same shape... honestly I have been intending it for the last 6 years but things keep getting in the way. Like school, work.. work.. work... travel for work

One thing that has been constant for me over the last few years has been rugby. For the majority of the year three times a week I beat my body into shape and accidentally get a few bruises along the way. (Due the the latter fact a one month rugby embargo has been placed for the month before the wedding... however I have a plan).

I am someone who either needs a very strict routine like I did for track in HS and college or I need to be entertained... like I was in grad school with great classes at the gym and joining a dance team. Basically I lack discipline unless I am being told what to do or distracted and don't realize I am working my butt off. I also HATE treadmills, stairmasters, bikes etc... and the weather in my former home of Boston has not been very nice the last few months (despite the constant drizzle in Brum I cant complain about the 40s and 50s we have had already in February). And in the end lets face it... its so much easier to be lazy and so much more comfy to watch a movie with a bottle of wine.

Tonight I attended my first practice with my new team Moseley (MWRFC). They are not as competitive as my old team BWRFC but the girls were warm, welcoming and I cant wait to go back on Thursday and hopefully play this weekend.

Why would I play this ridiculous sport you ask? Well because after we drink adult beverages and have fun (possibly negating health benefits but meh)... but the real reason is despite how shit I feel after a hard practice or a game... the smile that the little girl has on her face is how I feel every time I get on the pitch.


So good, so cheap, faster than take out....

Its a bird, its a plane... its the actually healthy for you pita pizza?

Perfect for that quick snack when its just you or its too hot outside this baby doesn't even require and oven as a small toaster oven will suffice. Also it can be customized to your liking or whatever happens to be in your fridge at the moment. As soon as I get back to the market this is sure to be a staple of my wedding dress diet in the UK.

Ingredients (substitutions)
Pita round (whole wheat, soy etc any kind of pita)
Tomato sauce ( or pesto/olive oil)
Cheese (FF shredded motz, fresh motz, feta, blue anything if you want to get crazy)
Toppings (veggies, meats anything your hearts content)


1) Leave the pita as is with the pocket in tack and place on a tinfoil wrapped sheet (for easy clean up). If you want to make more than one then just use a larger pan and your oven. Heat oven or toaster to 350F

2) Sauce it up

3) Cheese it up

4) Top it up

5) Pop it in the oven for 10-15 min or until cheese looks nicely melted and browned. Easily eaten if cut up with kitchen scissors

6) Enjoy

Personally I enjoy a traditional tomato sauce pizza, fresh motz, feta and spinach topping...

Post your favorite flavor combos as a comment!(or favourite flavour for my UK readers)

Don't unpack your bags yet....

So I have been making a pile of DIY projects for my England wedding (along side the pile of home decorating mags I have changed over to)... However my current living situation in a 4 bedroom 1 bathroom house includes the following occupants: 4 boys, me, cobalt and 2 local girlfriends.... needless to say space to DIY is low.

However we did receive good news on our house (the one I still have not seen the inside of). When we had the full survey done it turned up a few issues that needed to resolved, including the roof. While trying to get builder recommendations to come look at it, coordinating visits etc... the current owners just decided to fix it themselves. Paperwork goes in tomorrow and Tony and I are back on track to move in mid March. Phew!

The longer the wait the longer my piles and lists and the higher my expectations get. Even planning out our veggie garden in the backyard. Keep your fingers crossed!

The Melting Pot

And no I don't mean the overpriced fondue restaurant.....

One of the common things that the US and UK share is that we are both melting pots of culture. The US because we are a country almost entirely made up of immigrants and the UK because once upon a time they conquered the world. Each country has its own traditional foods that they consider theirs. Example:
US- Fish and chips
UK- Apple Pie (wait Chaucer cites an apple pie recipe... ) I mean buffalo wings

Well as seen above both cultures love to claim other cultures foods as their own. The most popular dish in the UK is Chicken Tikka Masala- an Indian dish so anglo-ized it is hardly recognizable. So one would think a trip to the grocery store would be a journey through 1000 lands.

Well going to cook a tasty meal of antipasto and eggplant parm I was regulated to the "international" isle for ingredients. Where 1/2 of what I wanted was not even there... and I had to make random substitutions. Luckily I was cooking for boys in their 20s and they will eat just about anything... and it did turn out alright.

I have already given up my diet coke for "squash" and just about all snack foods that I eat. I guess the US melting pot has a few different flavors than the UKs.

17 February 2011

The law of lists

"When you complete tasks on your list the list will get longer"

At least this is how it feels! We received the US invitations in the mail and they are perfect. We sorted out a lot of the logistics but now there is a longer list of things to do after the logistics are sorted. Will be tackling the list on Sunday. There there is the whole issue of no venue for the UK wedding.

I guess I just added more to the list!

My last means of survival in the UK... The "Bacon Buddy"

First before I go into describing the one thing that will keep me from starving in the UK... lets talk bacon. In the states we have bacon and that weired ham thing called canadian bacon. In the UK there is a thicker less fattier form of bacon, almost enough meat to make you feel less guilty for using it as a sandwich meat, but tasty like our US bacon which is known as "streaky" bacon. When cooked it maintains a ham like texture with the smokiness and sweetness of bacon. That being said...

The Bacon Buddy
Simple, tasty, not exactly healthy, but good substinance when you need it. And also it is rumored to have magical properties after having a few pints.

Needed:
2 slices white bread
2-3 slices bacon, cooked (hot)
HP sauce

Assemble sandwich and devour.....

I promise next week will be healthier... :)

14 February 2011

The "move" is completed....

I will be pleased to announce that I made it through immigrations with little struggle, Cobalt took the trip decently and was out in short time... had a lovely V-day dinner made by the boy including:

Ciabatta bread with olive oil and balsamic
Watercress, spinach, arugula salad topped with sliced grilled pears, prosciutto and goat cheese with a balsamic reduction
Layered Rosti, steak and pate' with a Madeira reduction, grilled mushroom and steamed asparagus
Some form of tiramisu

So now safely in a food coma, cobaly schnoozing away... the main parts of my crazy move are done successfully. The only sad things I left being my dearly beloved Bose and many quilts... but alas I will see them again in May.

Mission Accomplished

12 February 2011

This is not a moment of Zen...



So the last week before the big trip has been manic. Mainly "s" started to hit the fan Thursday at 7:30am (this is a good time to freak out if your parents are educators and you can call them beofre school). So things that contributed to the freak out-

1) I applied for the wrong visa, my application was completely "Mickey Mouse", was denied and completely freaking out that I am going to get detained, some coke smuggler in the detained room will plant drugs on me, I will be deported and never allowed to ever visit England again... Oh and in that application that has been yet to be returned is my passport- no passport no getting on the plane.

2) After 7 months of planning for Cobalt to come with me- at the very last step- All of his original documents get lost in certified mail. Everything. And the UK is bonkers about letting dogs in because of rabies, and he looks like a funny miniature chinese deer now with his haircut, oh and on top of that the snow removal from our roof Thursday morning made him go mental barking for 2 hours straight.

3) I know I will be paying for extra luggage but I get 50lbs out of each bag- however some bags packed to the brim are far less... hmmm (also I am still going through everything again and again and getting rid of more and more).

So after calling my father, the boy practically ready to put me in a nutter hospital and good old Auntie Lisa I needed to stop freaking out and begin to clean the crap up. Within 24 hours a lot had been taken care of. Luckily I have a great job and boss and they understood that I would be off the radar until settled in Brum.

1) Got my passport and Visa back from the consulate via the UPS man in the AM. Along with it is a letter detailing how I have failed to meet any of the requirements for the visa (I agree). Now I will just take this with me, show them how retarded I am, confused I was and show them a letter from my boss and plane tickets to other places- I am here to attend conferences and hop around Europe before I get knocked up. Oh and here is my ticket back to the states so you only have to worry about me for three months. (In all fairness I still freak out about this sometimes but I am better with it- however I have now completely freaked out my father, stepmom and aunt- I believe this has to do with my theory of the "Conservation of Stress"- but alas that is another post)

2) Call the vet and USDA, both are amazing. Take the rare white chinese Cobalt deer to the vet again to fill out the form, rent a car and drive out to Sutton, MA to USDA for certification, pay $50 and explain the urgent situation to the Kansas lab who re-issues his Rabies certification and also notifies Heathrow animal receiving about the issue.

3) Borrow larger suitcases from parents so I can pack my bags inside of bags and game the system. :)

All I can say is thank God that VirginAtlantic has free drinks on board. After getting Cobalt, the bags and myself on the other side of the gate I will need one!
The Elusive Chinese Cobalt Deer

Making friends with the natives...


So Sunday I depart for England for a 3 month tour. I have a few trips to other European countries planned however most of the time I will be in England and staying with the boy. As amazing and wonderful that he is I may kill him if he is the only person I talked to. So I must make nice with the natives and possibly even make friends.

All my stateside friends are excited for me to be in England and like many other people think that I will be living in London proper. I then point out that I will be living in Birmingham- which I then compare to the lovely cities of Lowell and Worcester, MA. (They now see the gravity of the situation). I then go on to explain that the natives of Brum as its known are known for their bad accent as much as any Bostonian in a bad Ben Affleck movie. See here:

Well I may not understand anyone but I can speak one language- rugby. As maybe mentioned before I choose my flight dates based on 6Nations. This is plan one of rugby- get lots of pub time and pints in watching the games. Build bonds through cheering for the English and hissing at the French (even in they are not playing). Impress the (mancrews, bros, gang- not sure what word they use) that I am a yank who actually knows what the frick I am talking about and not just cringing at the hits. Round 1/5 was last weekend and today launches the second. So phase one of rugby will be 3/5 weeks long. But the rest of the time there will be union games too (boo rugby league boo- you are far less fun than even sevens).

While implementing phase rugby one, I will also let go the reins on phase rugby two. Rugby two is a two parter (two squared?). I plan on getting pack on the pitch at and playing with Mosely. This is awesome for everyone. By boy gets a physically healthier girl and a mentally much healthier girl (apparently I am a nicer person when I have an outlet to hit people that will not land me on a deportation list). Secondly- 40 new instant female friends, a plan for most Saturdays and general fun.

And to leave you.... a few of my favorite Rugby drinking songs:
California- BWRFC (My Boston team) Song
Oh, they had a little party down in Newport;
There was Harry, there was Mary, there was Grace.
Oh, they had a little party down in Newport,
And they had to carry Harry from the place.
Oh, they had to carry Harry to the ferry,
And the ferry carried Harry to the shore;
And the reason that they had to carry Harry to the ferry
Was that Harry couldn't carry any more.
For California, for California,
The hills send back the cry,
We're out to do or die,
For California, for California,
We'll win the game or know the reason why. (Stanford Sucks!)
And when the game is over, we will buy a keg of booze,
And drink to California 'till we wobble in our shoes.
So drink, tra la la,
Drink, tra la la,
Drink, drank, drunk last night,
Drunk the night before;
Gonna get drunk tonight
Like I never got drunk before;
For when I'm drunk, I'm as happy as can be
For I am member of the Souse family.
Now the Souse family is the best family
That ever came over from old Germany.
There's the Highland Dutch, and the Lowland Dutch,
The Rotterdam Dutch, and the Irish.
Sing glorious, victorious,
One keg of beer for the four of us.
Sing glory be to God that there are no more of us,
For one of us could drink it all alone. Damn near.
Here's to the Irish, dead drunk. The lucky stiffs....

Jesus Saves

Chorus:

(Often sung while the participants dip their fingers in beer and flick it onto each other, a la the Catholic practice of Asperges.)

Free beer for all the ruggers (or hashers)!
Free beer for all the ruggers!
Free beer for all the ruggers!
Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Verses:

Jesus can't play rugby 'cos:

  • the ball goes through his hands (x3)
  • his dad will fix the game (x3)
  • he's got holes in his hands (x3)
  • the Jew won't pay his dues (x3)
  • the Yanks have bombed his gaff (x3)
  • he wears illegal headgear (x3)
  • he wears illegal spikes (x3)
  • he's only got 12 men (x3)
  • the crossbar gives him flashbacks (x3)
  • he can't support a hooker (x3)
  • his feet are nailed together (x3)
  • he has open wounds (x3)
  • he is fucking dead (x3)
  • his mother won't put out (x3)
  • you can't bind on his robe (x3)
  • shepherds are illegal (x3)
  • he is stuck behind a rock (x3)
  • he is bleeding on the field (x3)
  • the nails will pop the ball (x3)
  • Mel Gibson owns his rights (x3)
  • his body's made of bread (x3)
  • he wears a fucking dress (x3)
  • he's nailed to a cross (x3)
  • his sandals always break (x3)

Variations:

Judas can't play rugby 'cos:

  • he'll cheat for the other side (x3)
  • 'cause he'd always be offsides (x3)

Mary can't play rugby 'cos:

  • she's never touched a ball (x3)

Moses can't play rugby 'cos:

  • he's got a burning bush (x3)
  • he's only got 10 rules (x3)

Noah can't play rugby 'cos:

  • his pitch is always flooded (x3)

At the end of song its common for team to sing (sometimes with heads bowed):

Jesus, we're only kidding,
Jesus, we're only kidding,
Jesus, we're only kidding,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves!

And lastly- Wild Rover

I've been a wild rover for many's the year,
and I spent all me money on whiskey and beer.
And now I'm returning with gold in great store,
and I never will play the wild rover no more.

(Chorus):
And it's no, nay, never! No, nay, never, no more,
will I play the wild rover. No (nay) never no more!

I went to an alehouse I used to frequent,
and I told the landlady me money was spent.
I asked her for credit, she answered me "nay,
such a custom as yours I could have any day".

(Chorus)

I pulled from me pocket a handful of gold,
and on the round table it glittered and rolled.
She said "I have whiskeys and wines of the best,
and the words that I told you were only in jest".

(Chorus)

I'll have none of your whiskeys nor fine Spanish wines,
For your words show you clearly as no friend of mine.
There's others most willing to open a door,
To a man coming home from a far distant shore.

(Chorus)

I'll go home to me parents, confess what I've done,
and I'll ask them to pardon their prodigal son.
And if they forgive me as oft times before,
I never will play the wild rover no more.

(Chorus)

10 February 2011

Travel Anxiety


After 15 business trips and a few pleasure ones last year, living in Texas and long distance relationships you think I would be over the anxiety of travel. (I can get through security in 30seconds or less and pack for 10 days in a carry-on) But this upcoming trip is driving me crazy. First there was mass confusion about the visa, turns out I didn't need one. Cobalt was taken care of... on the last step everything was lost in the mail. CUE THE BEGINNING OF 72 HOURS OF ANXIETY.

Now this trip started as a fun trip. I selected Feb 14th arrival for two reasons- get to spend Vday with the boy and I will be in England for 6Nations rugby (may have to settle for the pub though as tickets seem a bit pricy). I come home in May for my shower and bachelorette giving me a lovely 3 month trip. I have a surprise trip planned in March and will be in Paris in April to visit a friend. In the UK I plan on seeing Stonehenge, York and this festival where they chase a ball of cheese down a hill. Faro, Portugal is on my to do list once I find a good weekend. (Doesn't this all sound like fun)

Now comes the nightmare. I applied and denied the wrong visa... I actually don't need one as I am going to visit and for less than 6 months. So now I am paranoid about entering and having to explain my sheer stupidity. Then first time Cobalts papers are wrong and for Australia. Second time they get lost in certified mail. Now I am taking care of everything again last minute and asking favors of my amazing vet to help me. (FYI because of her amazingness I will be donating to a local animal shelter in her name for everything she has done.) This trip is getting to be much less fun now.

I look forward to the few months before our wedding as being the perfect time to explore UK and Europe together, travel, shop etc. I just have to remember why I decided to go on the 14th anyways ..... (It was for the rugby)


Wedding crazies.....

Blogs and wedding TV shows want every bride to believe that everything must be perfect and the guests must be wowed and surprised. This brings up an issue of editing... do I need a jeweled wow cake.. or a tasty cake... and many more of the like For the HC wedding I had my vision right away:

Open bar, satisfying food... killer dance party.

Anything around that was on the sidelines to me and just a blur during the day. Then I started getting the wedding crazies when I read a few too many blogs and watched too much We network. The wedding magazines and their endless ideas and DIY was not helping either.

With my impending trip I need to streamline and I figure while I am at it why not streamline the wedding down too. Back to... Open bar, satisfying food... killer dance party. Picked out some flowers that I thought were pretty, leave it up to the florist from there. Talk to the DJ give him our songs and ideas and forget about it. Food- really I will not even get to eat it anyways.

Just focus on the important: I am marrying my best friend with all the awesome people I like surrounding- and that's just awesome

08 February 2011

Sunday Tea- The roast


Sunday is always about the roast dinner in England. Since Tone and I will be living alone our service for 12 may require us to ask a few others.
First you need the cookware: Cue All Clad Copper




Then the Recipe:

Mustard-Crusted Pork Roast With Shallots and Wine Sauce

Serves 8| Hands-On Time: 15m | Total Time: 2hr 00m

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400° F. In a large flameproof roasting pan, toss the shallots with 1 tablespoon of the oil and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Push toward the edges.
  2. Place the pork in the center of the roasting pan and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. In a small bowl, combine the mustards, sage, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil; spread over the pork.
  3. Roast until the internal temperature of the pork registers 145° F*, 85 to 95 minutes. Transfer the shallots to a platter. Transfer the pork to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
  4. Place the empty roasting pan over 2 burners over medium-high heat. Add the wine and simmer, scraping up any browned bits, until thickened, 5 to 6 minutes. Whisk in the sour cream and chives. Serve with the pork and shallots.
  5. *Note: This is the temperature preferred by the Real Simple test kitchen, and it is considered safe by many experts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommendation for maximum safety is 15° to 20° F higher.



Now that you cooked the best meal ever (according to men any meal 50% more in meat is amazing) you need to serve it on something amazing. Cue Vera Wang:



Now I may not get the copper.... But I will be getting the Vera :)

07 February 2011

I am not only planning a wedding....

Or two....

but right now I am trying to get legal issues and customs through for myself and Cobalt, help my roomies in making sure my room gets rented in Boston, forming a new position in my job, blah blah blah... and moving...Moving to England...

I did everything that I was supposed to... even selling dear Reba today (my F150) which was my heart and joy and first car I bought myself. I filed the paperwork, payed the fees and had Cobalt start the moving process since July.

However... the British consulate seems to be holding my visa and passport hostage and as polite as they are to "mind the gap" they don't believe in a help line when you are waiting on a visa that was supposed to be completed on Friday. How is a person supposed to pack, sort out their life, plan some weddings, plan for valentines day... when they will not know where they will be in a week.

Life is not good, life is stressful.... at least there is some Dr. House to keep my distracted (and FYI he is British)

On the good note... I will own a house in England in less then a month... so lets get that registry fired up... (hint for the rest of the week)

06 February 2011

Put down the laptop.. and step away from the Etsy

Today I started to "Treasury" on Etsy, see here:
http://www.etsy.com/treasury/4d4f3ff2d20c8eef3a49239d/our-first-home?index=0

Etsy was introduced to me early on in my wedding planning scene. I lost my virginity to Etsy back in November when I ordered a custom dress from Nostalgia (http://www.etsy.com/shop/Nostalgia). Since them I have not been able to keep of the site. In the last two weeks alone I have ordered 4 presents on them and so far they have turned out great.

Now if you know Etsy you must know its evil twin Regretsy, where DIY meets WTF. Some of her points are valid... besides general ugliness there are those trying to take advantage of the system by reselling things with false branding or not actually being handmade at all (unless you count the small children in China who work in the factories).

Should I be nervous about Etsy-ing? Right now I have had great experiences (and will reveal the gifts and vendors next week). However in my new house and homeland in England I will be using Etsy for inspiration as I want to up the DIY in my life. My current list of DIY for England

-bunting for English wedding
-a fascinator, maybe birdcage veil with it
-new curtains
-learn how to sew a dress for myself

I can see our second bedroom becoming a little bit of a crafting haven for me. Should be interesting...

04 February 2011

An English Wedding

Prelude: In England the wedding day works differently. You have two parties in the one day:
Wedding Breakfast- celebrated with a close group of people who came to the church with you. This is a sit down few course formal meal in the mid afternoon.
Reception- Later in the evening all of your guests come to dance, drink and munch on cocktails and a fork buffet.
I have told you this now so you can skip the days and weeks of confusion I suffered

__________________________________________________________________

Tone can't remember the last wedding he went to... and all of mine have been in the states... so really how different can a wedding in England be?

Well having absolutely no knowledge we decided to go to the most reliable source... the movies. Four Weddings and Funeral to be exact (who wouldn't believe every word from Hugh Grants mouth). And here are my take away points (in proper English)
- Everyone will be absolutely pissed on Pims
-Your hat or fascinator must out do the other ladies
-You can rent an entire castle with castle staff on a reasonable budget


Reality:
We went to check out a venue that Tone has seen in the summer and liked a lot. It fit most of our needs in terms of having a few rooms, close to town and size. So we decided while I was in England over Christmas to go check it out... just to set the scene it was raining, slushy and cold (it was Yorkshire in winter). After spending several hours in planes, trains and automobiles I had sufficiently covered the style of weddings in the UK via all their bridal magazines, however I was not prepared for this....

The Venue was down a lovely country road and across the street from the gas station and off license (liquor store). The grounds were..... well it was winter in Yorkshire. The inn has two function rooms, 16 rooms and a pond. We have a wedding guest count close to 150.

Problem 1
I still haven't figured out this wedding breakfast/reception thing (see prelude)... not to mention I am still thinking american breakfast time (breakfast, tea and dinner are very liberally used words in the UK) so my brain is on overdrive with the basic logistics

Problem 2
Both Ballrooms... well 150 people means 15 tables to sit min in my mind.... and lets just say it would have been a logjam in either. The sales lady is trying to tell me how they will move tables around in between the meal and dancing which I just thought would be a large amount of awkwardness.

Problem 3
Everything just looks tired. Very tired. Now I am a girl who loves her Victorian and Edwardian vintage look. But this was like Great Grandma's house with bad banqueting furniture.

Problem 4-infinity
Our american wedding is at my former University in the beautiful large church and banquet hall overlooking the hill. As happy as I am with this choice for nostalgia, convenience and the church being amazing... there are a lot of ideas and pictures I have fallen in love with that just don't work with our venue or scheme. I have taken to imposing all of these other ideas onto the English event.

Needless to say after a few discussions, a few fights and me finally getting the concept of how the day runs along we passed on this venue. We have verbally settled on a wedding breakfast at a hip gastro pub followed by an evening venue with a big dance floor, fork buffet and a real bar (the hubby wants the real bar). This is the plan at least for now...

With my move coming up in one week we will start need to nail down plans... hopefully at least this time I can understand what everyone is talking about!


03 February 2011

Say hello to my little friend.....


As someone who travels often (re: 15 business trips last year alone, plus personal)... I know the wrath the airline industry has brought upon us well. I can not say a bad word about my dear friend JetBlue who treats your luggage right (well at least the first bag). However....

Airlines are charging $50 to over $100 for your luggage to come on the plane with you. An idea first pioneered by the likes of cheap airlines (RyanAir, but what else do you want for a $20 round trip ticket) has now been taken up universally. These fees are just for the bag to be considered to go on the plane... god forbid you.... go... overweight.


With my upcoming big trip (and desire to not spend money stupidly) I have been trying to plan my luggage out craftily (I am flying Virgin Atlantic so I will be playing by their rules)
1) Large suitcase with 50lbs- Free
2) Golf clubs with all my shoes 50lbs- Free
3) Carry on bag 23lbs- Free
4) Large purse with stuff- Free
5)Rugby bag packed to the brim 50lbs- $48
6) Steamer case packed lightly 50lbs- $112

Now you will notice that I have to obey strict weight rules.. or you get slapped with $100 extra fee. Once upon a time I used to stand on a scale, then stand on it holding the bag, then do the math (there is that chemistry degree working!). But then I decided to make a magical $10 investment:

Evil Airlines... Meet my friend... no more will you take advantage of me when I am already at the airport! Your check in people will be amazed at my exactly 50lb bags. And due to the money I save I can have an extra cocktail after waiting in the hour long security lines...


02 February 2011

The inspiration boards and flowers.....


So this weekend I have a busy bee... being constantly snowed in doesn't help. So presenting my....
American Wedding (with flowers)




And for England there is a small sit down dinner first... followed by a bigger party later in the evening.....





Check that.... back to shoveling

01 February 2011

Tequila Tuesdays.....


Well maybe just in my dreams. We are in the middle of the 1/3 snowstorms for the week and I am dreaming of beaches in Mexico. Which I feel requires an adult beverage for beach sitting (its in the rules I swear). So here is an oldie but a goodie from the days back in Austin, which I bet is not under 5' of snow!

Jolly-ritas (aka beer can margaritas, a bad decision)
-1 can of limeade (sometimes hard to find, stock up on a few if you do)
-1 can full of tequila
-1/2 can full of triple sec
-2 cans of light beer


Now it would not be responsible of me to send you off with such a delicious recipe for alcohol without one for food. And as many of you reading are of course on a diet to look fabulous for my wedding and woo a fine British man (or woman) of your own... I will supply my healthy substitutions which are just as delicious.

Just a note before I give away my secret recipe I would like to share how this first came to me, I have no clue. Years ago when my mom was still alive she found it in 1/100 magazines she reads and it was my job to put the taco pie together. 15 years later (or maybe even more) its still my go to for parties and is always enjoyed. So with out further ado...

Kerianne's Famous Taco Pie (note: in bottom to top order of layers
In a standard pie dish:
-1 can of refried beans (sub non fat)
-1lb cooked ground beef (sub 98% lean turkey)
-1 bar cream cheese and 12oz picante, nuked for 45 seconds and mixed (sub fat free cream cheese)
-mixed cheeses grated on top (sub fat free cheeses)
-dice olives, peppers, tomatoes etc and sprinkle on top
Bake for 45 minutes covered at 350, remove for 10 so cheese is bubbling. Serve with sturdy tortilla chips. Can be refrigerated and scooped out for reheating the next day.

Delicioso!