Thursday, 31 March 2011

ABC's of Me

There's a thing making the blog rounds and I thought it would be a good way to let readers know a little more about myself.  So here are the ABC's of me.




A. Age: 32, last month.  That sounds wierd.  I don't feel as old as that sounds.
B. Bed size: Double (AKA Full).  I'd love a bigger one, but British beds don't really come in queen and there's no way a king would fit in our bedroom.  
C. Chore you hate: Dusting.  I forget about it until I suddenly notice a disgustingly thick layer of dust on things.
D. Dogs: We don't have one.  My grandma keeps telling me that she's sure Ross is going to buy me one.  He isn't.  
E. Essential start to your day: Pulling open the curtains in the bedroom, Checking my emails, and a kiss from Ross
F. Favorite color: Orange.  It's the best colour ever.  Strong, bold, cheerful.
G. Gold or silver: Generally silver because yellow tones can make me look jaundiced, but I do rock gold every once in a while.  
H. Height: 5′5.5″ 
I. Instruments you play: I played the clarinet for one year in 6th grade.  I played recorder and handbells at church when I was younger, but the music director traumatized me and now I won't touch them.  
J. Job Title: Wife Supreme and Assistant (I help my hubs with his business.  We're the only employees so I don't really have a title.)
K. Kids: None yet.  Much to my grandma's dismay.  We're workin' on it.
L. Live: Manchester, UK.  Specifically Whitefield.
M. Mom’s name: Mary.  She's pretty cool.
This is my mom & dad at my Aunt Deb and Uncle Bob's wedding.  
I was also in attendance in my mom's belly.  How awesome is her dress?


N. Nicknames: Meg is actually short for Margaret.  My dad generally calls me "Redbird".  Ross comes up with some real gems including "Pigeon Nuckles".  I also had a few college ones that are best left out.
O. Overnight hospital stays: I don't think any- unless I stayed overnight when I had a double hernia repair as an infant.
P. Pet peeve: People who spell "definitely" incorrectly or write "should of" instead of "should have"
Q. Quote from a movie: "Well then I just hate you... and I hate your... ass... FACE!"  -Corky St. Clair
R. Right or left handed: Technically ambidextrous.  Mostly lefty, but I can only cut right-handed.
S. Siblings: One older brother Matt.


Aww. So sweet.

T. Time you wake up: It depends.  I've become stupidly slothful since becoming the wife of an entrepreneur.  I function much better with a set schedule.  Usually around 9:30- or later.

U. Underwear: Thongs or Boyshorts, depending on what's going on top of it.
V. Vegetables you dislike: None really.  I used to be super-picky, but these days I'll eat most things.
W. What makes you run late:  On work days:  The lack of a set schedule.  For non-work-related things: Ross.
X. X-Rays you’ve had: Dental ones, several joint x-rays (elbows, wrists, ankle x 2).  I've never actually broken anything, but I've sprained nearly everything.
Y. Yummy food you make: I'm gonna brag and say I'm a pretty good cook.  This is pretty good.  I asked Ross what I make that's yummy and he said the Pear and Chocolate Cake I make.  I'll post a recipe soon.
Z. Zoo animal: Honestly, I'm not much for zoo animals.  They smell gross and are in sad cages.  If I had to pick I'd say the big cats.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

British Building Designers Hate Storage Part 1

Anybody know what this is?

That's my closet.
What's that you say? "Surely, Meg, you mean your hall closet!"
No.  I do not.  This is the one and only built-in closet in our flat.  Which was built in 2004.

I understand older homes in England not having built in closets, but even brand new construction does not include bedroom closets.  This baffles me.  So this closet serves a multitude of functions.  Badly.

When I moved in to the flat, there wasn't even a clothing rod in it.  There were 4 hooks on each side wall.  Seriously.  Eight hooks- and that's it.  I had Ross fit the bar so we could at least hang our coats.  Come on, Brits!  You live in a climate that requires coat-wearing and then don't provide storage for them.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  There's also an over the door hook thingie for additional coat/hat storage (Shockingly, Ross has more of all of these things than I do!); a plastic drawer unit that holds medications, some painting supplies, camera accoutrements, and various other items; an iron and ironing board; a mop; an airer; and a few other things.

I would love this space to be used better.  That's one benefit of the lack of storage.  It really makes you think about how best to use it.  We're working on it.  Little by little, we're purging excess stuff from the flat and I'm bringing order to it.  I've even introduced Ross to the concept of THROWING THINGS AWAY ;)  He's catching on... I think.

How do you bring order to small spaces?  What would you do if your home only had one closet?

Monday, 28 March 2011

Mo' Money Mo' Problems Part 2: Old Timey Money


Recently, loyal reader Wiley requested an explanation of what exactly "tuppence" is.  Old timey British money always sounds really cool to me: farthing, tuppence, ha'penny, sixpence, shillings, guinea, crowns.  I always imagine Dick VanDyke saying the words in the world's worst "British" accent.

Prior to February 15, 1971 British money was much more dissimilar to American money.  A pound was made up of 240 pence.  This certainly makes the use of a sixpence coin more understandable- as 240 is divisible by 6. A pound was made up of 20 shillings and a shilling was made up of 12 pennies.  A penny was subdivided even further.  A penny was made up of 2 ha'pennies or 4 farthings.  Tuppence specifically applies to a quantity of 2 of these pre-decimal pennies, though some people still use it with current decimal pennies.'

A guinea is an interesting amount of money.  It was 1 pound and 1 shilling.  It was considered a "gentlemanly" amount and was used to pay artisans for their wares.  Sort of like a built in tip or commission.  It's still used today for buying and selling race horses.

Fun/Slightly Weird Fact:
Tuppence and ha'penny are also slang for a young girls private parts.
Old timey mothers and governesses might caution their wards to "Keep your hand on your ha'penny."
This means that they should guard their virtue.  They might find themselves "expensively" involved if they don't...

So does that clear things up?
Any other reader requests?

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series where I'll talk about cockney rhyming slang and money. Fun!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Easy Lemon Cod

This is a super easy fish dish.  I make it pretty often and I thought I'd share it with you!

First, put a bit of plain flour in a shallow dish and season it with some salt and pepper.  (Sometimes I get fancy and add a little Fajita-style seasoning)

Take 2 cod fillets (or filets if you're in the US) and coat them in the flour.

Just 1 lemon.

Pull some flat-leaf parsley of the plant in your window herb garden.  (Or skip this step if you don't have an awesome window herb garden :))

Chop the parsley roughly.

Get 100 grams of butter (just over 7 Tbsp). Divide it in half.

Heat a skillet on fairly high heat and put half of the butter in.

Once the butter has melted and starts to bubble, put in the cod fillets.


Cook for 4-5 minutes, then flip them over.

After about 4 minutes, add the rest of the butter.

Once it's melted and bubbling, pour in the lemon juice.

Let the sauce thicken up a bit while swirling it in the pan.  Then add the parsley.

Keep it on the heat until the sauce is a little sticky and reduced.  Then plate up by putting the fish on the plate and pouring the sauce over the top.  Enjoy!
All personal photos.














Saturday, 26 March 2011

Word of the Week

Pursehandbag


Definition:  the larger thing in which a woman keeps her walletpurse
Used in a sentence:  Ross always seems excessively nervous that someone is going to steal my pursehandbag.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Cultural Smackdown: TV Clip Show Edition

Today is the first of a new series:  CULTURAL SMACKDOWN!

In this series, I'm going to compare and contrast two versions of a similar idea, as executed by each culture.

Today's inaugural edition features the TV Clip Show.  In America, it's called "The Soup".  In England, we call it "Harry Hill's TV Burp".  I hope you'll enjoy this head-to-head comparison of the two.

LET THE SMACKDOWN BEGIN!!!

TV Burp Image & Talk Soup Image (edited slightly by me)

Each takes on a stupid reality show:


vs.


On Soap Operas:


vs.


On Game Shows:


The Soup on Teen Jeopardy

On vapid nationally-known TV hosts:


vs.



In my opinion, they are pretty comparable.  Here's a little bullet point action for you:
-Harry Hill is a bit more cartoon-ish and camp than Joel McHale... and balder...  
-Joel McHale has better hair.
-TV Burp films in front of a studio audience as opposed to staff, family and friends.
-TV Burp airs on Sunday Sunday* Saturday** early evening after the equivalent of America's Funniest Home Videos, meaning it draws a large family audience.  The Soup targets a slightly older audience. 
-TV Burp has long-running jokes (especially about soap operas) leading to the soap writers including things in the script specifically in hopes of Hill picking it up.  The Soup has a long-running joke about E and specifically Ryan Seacrest.
-Both feature recurring characters and bits.


Harry mixes it up a bit with various "Somethings" of the week


So what do you think?  What differences can you see?  


Finally, I leave you TV Burp's most signature bit.  I like The Soup and I like TV Burp.  But which one's best?  There's only one way to find out....



Let the SMACKDOWN begin! To the comments....

*Ross says he told me Saturday when I double checked what day TV Burp airs.... I heard Sunday.
**Ross wants to know why I crossed out Sunday and wrote Sunday... 

Thursday, 24 March 2011

How Ross Amuses Himself

Most people do not enjoy talking to telemarketers.  They avoid the calls, hang up once they realize it's a telemarketing call, or even join the no-call registry.

Not Ross who says,  "What would be the fun in that?"  (Literally. He said that.)

Today, my husband answered the phone and I quickly noticed that gleam in his eye that meant one thing.  A telemarketer was on the line.  It took me months to get used to it.  Here's what I heard of the conversation:

Ross:  Who is it?
<pause>
Oh, is it?  
<pause>
No.  We don't use gas or electricity.
<pause>
No. We're water powered.
<pause>
No.  I said we don't use a gas or electricity provider.  We've got a chap in the back on a bicycle.
<pause>
No, not Scottish Power
<pause>
Alright, thanks.  Yep.  Bye-bye.

So the goal of the exercise is to: a) see how long you can keep them on the line and b) get THEM to hang up.  It's amazing how hard part B is.  Seriously.

Once someone called to sell us new windows in our rental flat.  Ross kept them on the line for ages.  They asked how many windows we had and he said "Let me go count".  He then left the phone of the hook for a bit, checking in intermittently and saying "Just another minute".  Finally, he came back to the phone and said, "What was the question, again?"

It makes him gleeful!  He loves it and hates it all at once.  It's fun to watch.  

Does anyone else out there like to torment telemarketers?  If so, what do you like to do to them?
How about anyone else's husband taking pleasure in a bizarre game of his own devising?


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

British "Fashion" Part 3

Someone alert the media!
A crime wave is spreading throughout Manchester, England- perhaps the world.
It appears that the assailants prey on women- some young (some not-so young).

They are robbing them off appropriate clothing on their lower halves- leaving them with only threadbare leggings, stretched within an inch of their lives.

Help!!!  This is very serious.  I see the victims wandering the streets of Manchester, seemingly unaware of what has happened.  Only this week I saw that the manager at our local coffee shop had been a victim.  She seemed blissfully unaware that the white hearts on her blue underpants were entirely visible.... Heartbreaking.

Personal photo

Just tragic.

But don't worry.  There's something you can do.  You can send me money and I will buy them pants, or skirts, or jeans.  (Of course by that I mean I will buy myself shoes or other pretty things, but still... that's nice too right?)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

That Would Never Happen in America...

The British political system is pretty fascinating.
It's been a pretty interesting year with a coalition of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrat party in control of the country.

But today I'm going to talk about something that has received a little coverage here, but made me think about some of the social standards that differ between England and the US.  I'm going to talk about this man:


Ed Miliband is the leader of the Labour Party.  He was elected to the position after Gordon Brown's departure.  I don't actually know that much about Ed's politics.  I do know that his voice sounds a bit like a petulant teenager when he gets passionate.  

But that's not what I want to talk about.  Ed Miliband would never have been elected to such an important position in America.  Now this isn't because of his political views or his education or ability to perform in his job.  It's because of his personal life.  Ed has two young sons.  Ed is in a relationship with their mother and has been since they met in 2004.  Ed is not married to her.  *Cue the shock and horror!*  

Ed is in the fairly commonplace situation of having a "partner".  Now in America, partner is really only used for gay couples.  In England it is not uncommon for couples to be in committed long-term relationships, often with children, but not to be married.  In America it's pretty much reserved for Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell, Susan Sarandon & Tim Robbins (how did I miss that they broke up!?!) and Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie.

I just can't imagine America going for a political leader who's home life looked like Ed's... Which got me thinking.  What does it really matter?  Does the fact that he isn't married impact how he's going to run the country?  I don't know.  I do know that it does bother me.  Perhaps this makes me old-fashioned.  (Not really a term I would often apply to myself- though I guess in some ways it fits.)  I know for a fact that the aforementioned celebrity relationships bug the crap out of my mom.  Maybe it's rubbed off on me :)

Ed explains why he hasn't married his partner yet:  politics have "gotten in the way" and more recently he's "not ready yet".  Hmmm.  Yeah- it officially bothers me.

Am I alone on this?  Can anybody give me an explanation for this "partner" phenomenon's prevalence (alliteration, baby!) in England?


Monday, 21 March 2011

Mo' Money Mo' Problems Part 1

In this post, I'm going to talk about British money that is currently in circulation.
Elizabeth (and the rest of you curious readers) can hold your breath to hear about old timey money in my next post in this mini-series.

British money is so much prettier than American money.  Fun colors!  Scrolly font!  Tiaras!
I'm just now getting the hang of it.
Ross is always telling me how much easier it is and I can see his point, but it's all about what you're used to, right?

Let's start with the bills:

See how the bills get larger depending on their worth.  It's very handy... and much easier for blind people.   They don't have to rely on the honesty of banks and shopkeepers!  There is also a £50 note, but it is not frequently used.  
Now come the coins:

Top row (L-R): One Pence, Two Pence, Five Pence, Ten Pence
Bottom row (L-R): Twenty Pence, Fifty Pence, One Pound, Two Pound

Pence are commonly referred to as "P".  As in, "Honey, do you have 50p for the parking meter?"

Notice how they're sort of in sets of 2, with one big and one small of each style.  The bigger one is worth more.  The hardest one for me was the 5p, as it's the same size, color, and shape as a US dime.

So that's an overview of British currency.  Do you think it looks easier or harder than American money?




Sunday, 20 March 2011

I've never heard of that... 80's edition

80's music is fun.  Most Americans are familiar with plenty of Brit music from this era, but there are plenty of songs that never quite made it into US conciousness even though they were huge in England.  Seriously, I hear them on the radio frequently here even thought I'd never heard of them prior to my move.
I'd like to share a few of them with you.

First up, we all remember Spandau Ballet for their tune "True".  Notably sung by Steve Buscemi in The Wedding Singer:


But there was another hit here in England.  A peppy song that I've seen Brits gleefully/cheesily/excitedly sing along with many a time.

Next up is a song I was mostly familiar with for it's use in soundtracks- generally to add to a highly emotional scene.  Here's a clip from one of my favourite shows of all time Alias.  Poor Sydney's sad!  But Strong!



The artist, Kate Bush, had a huge hit in the UK and (according to Ross) and iconic video for her song "Wuthering Heights".  In fact, it was recently parodied by a comedian for this year's Let's Dance For Comic Relief.  Prepare your ears:
 

Lastly, no 80s compilation CD is complete without the upbeat violin and scamps in overalls of:


I'd bet most Americans assume that Dexys Midnight Runners were one hit wonders.  Well, they had another #1 hit in the UK.  Their first #1 was this brass-filled ditty:

I hope you've enjoyed this trip to the 80's and learned something new.  Ross is always surprised when we come across a song that was huge here and unheard of in America, so I thought it would be fun to share a few with y'all!

Had you heard of any of my "unknown" songs?  What are your favourite 80s tunes?







Saturday, 19 March 2011

Word of the Week

Walletpurse


Definition:  the thing that a woman uses to hold her money, credit cards, driving license, receipts, and anything else she can manage to stuff in

Used in a sentence:  Babe, would you look in my walletpurse and get out a pound for the hobo?

Friday, 18 March 2011

Say What? Part 2

What do you think when you hear someone described as Asian?

I always pictured something like this:


In England, it means something like this:




This can make things pretty confusing.  Actual conversation:

Ross:  She's Asian.
Meg:  British Asian or American Asian?
Ross: British.

Ross says that he would refer to someone who is American Asian as Oriental- which would sound pretty outdated and possibly racist to Americans.  Apparently, the term Asian keeps people who are from other countries (notably Pakistan) from mistakenly being referred to as Indian.
Or if you are a Royal, you can simply refer to this ethnicity as "slitty eyed".  Yuck!  I guess when you don't introduce enough new genes into the pool...





Thursday, 17 March 2011

Olive and Balsamic Tuna*

This is one of my favourite dishes.
Tuna steaks can be a little expensive, so we don't have it often.  It's a real treat, but still easy to prepare!
This recipe is for 2 since that's what I make, but it could be increased as well.

Make your marinade:

In a small bowl, mix
2 Tbsp. of Olive Oil

2 Tbsp. of Balsamic Vinegar

2 Cloves of peeled garlic, crushed

1/2 Tsp. of Dijon mustard

Put your tuna steaks into a shallow dish.  Season them with a little salt and pepper.


Pour the marinade over the tuna steaks and leave for a while- like 10-15 minutes.

Now take a couple of handfuls of olives and slice them in half.  You can use green or black.  I've used a mix.  I used A LOT of olives because we really like olives.

Now pull some a nice little bunch of leaves off of your fresh basil plant.  If you don't have a fresh basil plant, don't worry.  This step is optional.

Roll the leaves into a little cigar-type roll and slice them into thin-ish pieces.



Once your tuna is done marinating, put a grill pan (or regular pan) on VERY high heat.  Once it is nice and hot, pull the tuna steaks out of the marinade and put them in the pan.  The tuna should sizzle and start to sear. They don't need very long on each side- maybe a couple of minutes (depending on the thickness and personal preference).  

Toss the olives in the dish with the remaining marinade.


Once the tuna is just cooked, pour the marinade/olives on top of the tuna.  

Cook for a just a few more seconds, then add the basil to the top of the whole thing.

Put the tuna on your plate and then pour the olives and sauce over the top of it.

Enjoy!

What are your favourite "special" dinners?

All photos in this post are personal. (Sorry for the crappy lighting, my over-stove light bulb burned out!)


*You can totally make this with pork too.  Use boneless pork loin chops and cook for 4 minutes on each side.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

British "Fashion" Part 2

Today's look is one that the males around town are rockin'.
Have you been looking for a way to achieve the "sag" look, but still keep your waistband at the waist?

It's... um... well....  I'll just show you a picture...


They come in capri length too!

Never fear!  Drop-crotch shorts are here!

Prefer a denim look?


Do you want to try this trend, but you consider your style more classic than trendy?  Don't worry, you can get a "classic" khaki with a drop crotch!


So, what's up with this look?

Is it an homage to MC Hammer?
Is it for the well-endowed man?  The man who didn't make it to the potty in time?

Is it so you can look like an idiot?

If so- mission accomplished, my friend.  Mission accomplished!