Saturday, 30 April 2011

Word of the Week


Definition:  the symbol that looks like a leaning tic-tac-toe/naughts-and-crosses grid, located above the 3 on most keyboards and to the right of the 0 on 10-keys like a phone
Used in a sentence:  The code to get into the gate at our house is four, two, three, seven, poundhash.*

*Those aren't the real numbers.  I ain't stupid! :)

Friday, 29 April 2011

A Nice Day for a White Wedding!

In honour of the big wedding I'm going to...

Tell you how I get my whites so white!
Are you excited?
I thought so :)

I'll tell you the really exciting part now.  It's without bleach!
That's right a no-bleach method for getting your whites nice and bright.
Now you're excited, right?

It's cheap and easy and it just takes one little thing.

Yep, I just sprinkle a few spoonfuls of bicarbonate of soda/baking soda into the machine.  It works like a charm and is way less harsh and chemically.   I'm still surprised by how well it works.  One of the best things about it is not worrying about things that have color.  See that sock in the right side of the drum?  It has little yellow chicks on it, but I don't have to worry about them fading!   It's also cheaper and more natural than oxi-clean and the like.

You're welcome.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Weird but Tasty Salmon

Seriously, bear with me on this one.
When you read the ingredients you're going to be like, "Is she kidding?"
No.  I am not.
This is pretty tasty and a quick and easy twist on boring old salmon.

First you're going to preheat the oven to 180°C/355°F.
Then you're going to juice one orange and half a lemon.

Please excuse my ghetto nail polish.  I promise I took it off later that night.

Then you're going to put 2 skinless salmon fillets/filets in a ziploc bag.
Add salt and pepper and then pour the juice you just squeezed into it, along with a tablespoon of olive oil.
Seal it up and set it aside for 10 minutes.

Put about 400g of new potatoes (I used baby ones) in a pot to boil.

Cook them until they're soft (about 20 minutes).

Transfer the contents of the bag to a shallow dish and put it in the oven.  Check it at 10 minutes, but it may need more time.

While things are cooking:
Juice the second half of the lemon.

Stir in a tablespoon of olive oil and a nearly a full tablespoon of dijon mustard.

Chop up a tablespoon of capers and add them to the mix as well.

Also chop up a handful of fresh basil leaves.

Once the potatoes are done, drain them, then mash them up.

Then add in the lemon/caper/mustard/olive oil mixture and mash it a bit more.

Add in the chopped basil and give it a final stir.

Plate up your potatoes, then put the salmon on top and pour the juices from the dish over.


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

WFW: In the beginning...

All this royal wedding stuff has me thinking about my own wedding.  About how awesome it was and how much I love my husband.  I didn't blog during the process of our wedding and I now wish I had.  So I'm going to blog if flashback style.  Those of you who are friends with me on facebook will have seen most of this before, so you'll just have to indulge me as I present Wedding Flashback Wednesdays (WFW).

I'm starting out this whole thing with a little background info.  I'll try to tell you briefly how we met.  You can find the super-short version here if you don't like details.

This picture documents our first meeting:

Photo downloaded from FB from Dave P., edited by me

Ross and I were both at a conference in Portland, OR in the summer of 2008.  You see we were both members of an improvisational group that has outposts all over the US and in Manchester, UK.  Each year the group holds a world championship that is a week of workshops and shows.  Ross and I had met in passing, but taken no real notice of each other.  Neither of us actually remembered that we'd both been in the workshop pictured above until we saw the picture later :) 
We finally connected the night before I was leaving to head home.  I don't even know how it really happened... We were at the nightly after-show party and were talking in a group.  Next thing I knew, it was just the 2 of us talking.  Ross went in for a kiss and I got coy.  We walked around downtown Portland for what felt like ages, just talking.  I finally let him kiss me.  We spent most of the night talking and getting to know each other.  
I thought I'd never see him again.  He had other ideas.  He stole my phone number out of my cell phone, all secret agent like.  Then we went and had our "first date" at Starbucks before my ride to the airport came to pick me up.  He handed me a card with his info and we kissed goodbye (somewhat awkwardly as our future Best Man Tom was unknowingly playing third wheel).  
Later when I was waiting for the plane to take off, I got a text message from Ross saying that he'd really enjoyed meeting me and hoped to keep in touch.  The next day he texted again.  We emailed back and forth for about a week.  Then he emailed and said, "I think I should come visit you."  YIKES!  My heart started racing.  Ross later told me that it was probably the bravest/scariest/stupidest/best thing he'd ever done.
A few weeks later, I took a week off work and Ross came to stay with me for a week.  Now that's what I call a second date.  It could have gone really badly.  I had friends convinced he was up to no good.  One even demanded as much identifying info as I had so that, in the event that he killed and dismembered me, she'd be able to hunt him down.  We had an amazing week and it told us what we already knew- we were on to something good.  
By the time he left, we'd promised to see each other again soon.  Ross actually managed the amazing feat of being with me for at least one day in each month since we met until we lived in the same country.  We had a few more visits and a million more emails and then Ross came to spend Christmas with my family and me.

Photo downloaded from FB from Jenn H., edit by me.
More proof of the undeniable initial attraction between Ross and myself.
Note how we are pretending to not even notice each other :)

Next up:  Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Duck Race

When Ross got wind of a Rubber Duck Race taking place in Manchester, we were in.
If you know us at all, you know we've got a thing for rubber ducks.

So on this past Friday, we headed to Spinningfields to partake in the fun.  It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day so we grabbed some lunch at Pret a Manger and settled in to eat it outside.

I love the sweet and salty popcorn from Pret!

After we'd eaten, we headed down to take a look at the first part of the duck race.  Corporate groups could purchase a jumbo duck and decorate it however they liked for the first race.
The ducks getting arranged at the starting line.

 We moved to higher ground for the start of the race.

 There were a few late entries that I felt broke the rules: a Rotary Club duck that was attached to the top portion of 2 umbrellas that had been bound together like a sandwich cookie and a giant platform featuring a duck vignette of The Apprentice.

 We were excited!

And they were off!

At this point, the pace of the race slowed down and we decided to walk towards the finish line (under the bridge in the distance).  

 Here's the view looking back towards the starting line from the bridge over the finish.  Since the corporate ducks were taking so long and people were getting restless, they decided to go ahead and release the family race ducks.  Anyone could buy a little quacker for £1.  Apparently there were 2000.  Doesn't look like much does it?

The big ducks had pretty much come to a standstill due to a weird current, so some helpers in motor boats tried to use their wakes to push the ducks along.  I asked Ross if they wouldn't have thought to test this stretch of river prior to selecting it.  He laughed and explained that I really didn't understand the British way yet.

 The little ducks in the distance started closing on the big ducks.

 Obligatory self portrait.

 Ooh, look how pretty they are all spread out.

 I like to think that the 2 that are tied for second place at this point were ours.

 As they hit this spot in the river (the same spot that troubled the big ducks) it turned into a duck parking lot so the motor boats came back out to play.

One last shot of the beautiful view.

Sadly, we never really heard which ducks won the race as the announcer had appalling microphone skill.  When will people learn that when you shout into a microphone, you can't be understood...  But it was still a fun day!

What better way to cap off a fun day than with cupcakes!
We walked over to a cute little cupcakery called Hey Little Cupcake! (cutest name ever) that we'd heard about, but never visited. 

 The cupcakes came in cute little individual containers, complete with paper lifters for easy access.  Ross's (on the left) was "Lemon Grass", a lemon and vanilla.  Mine (on the right) was "Cherry Blossom" a yummy vanilla and cherry.  There were even chunks of real cherry in it!

What a great day with my honey...
What was the last fun and unusual thing you did?

Monday, 25 April 2011

Funny things Ross Says

Yesterday morning I woke up with the squeakiest remnant of a voice ever.
I'd had a slightly sore throat the day before, but despite the fact that I felt fine all day yesterday I sounded pitiful.
Today it's a bit better, but still a little high pitched.

Ross suggested that there might be a cause.  What was it, you ask?
"Maybe your accent is breaking."
Yep.  Perhaps that's how it works.  You move to a new country and then suddenly after you hit a certain stage, funny things start happening to your body.  Your voice gets squeaky for a while until one day it settles into a new and lovely accent.  I'm hoping it's not a Salford (basically a suburb of Manchester) accent.

I have a more likely theory:

I thought I'd left my arch nemesis and biggest allergy behind when I left Texas.  Nope.  The sky outside our window yesterday was thick with this white fluff of doom.  It looked like it was snowing!  Ross had never heard of something called cottonwood, but didn't know what it was called here.  A little google search tells me that it is probably called Black Poplar here.

Other expats out there- is there anything you thought you were leaving behind only to find it unexpectedly in your new country?