Thursday, 30 June 2011

Should I stay or should I go now.

In America, when you go to a restaurant- well, a fast food restaurant or a Starbucks  (Oh!  Or Chipotle. Mmmmmm, Chipotle....) - they ask you if you'd like your food "for here" or "to go".

Here in the UK the standard is "eat in" or "take away".  We don't really eat fast food, but it comes up pretty often at Pret a Manger and Starbucks.

This is one of those changes that I still haven't managed to make and it usually results in confused looks from the people behind the counter.  I don't understand why "to go" doesn't register with them, but it just doesn't.  I guess because it doesn't follow the expected script so their brain is thrown...

I've had a few people comment on "how well I've kept my American accent".  That just sounds weird to me.  i was 31 years old when I moved to England.  I don't imagine that my accent will actually change that much.  I do notice that my word choices have changed already.  In fact, they'd started to change just from all my talks and emails with Ross before I even moved here.

So here's where I stand on adopting British vocabulary as an expat:
I've heard some expats deride those that adopt British words and turns of phrases, claiming that it is pretentious or cheesy or something.  I disagree.  Now, I was under strict orders from my best friend Micah not to adopt a Madonna-style British accent the moment I set foot on UK soil.  That makes sense.  I don't mind making changes to the way I say things.  In fact, I think it's sort of stubborn and rude not to try to use the language that people expect and understand.  If the cultural norm is to say something one way, then people are going to be confused if you say it a different way.  It's certainly pig-headed to say things in a way that people aren't accustomed to and then be irritated that they don't understand you!  So I say, adapt your word choice.  It'll come naturally and eventually you'll be confused when you go back to the States and struggle to find the word that your family will understand.

What words trip you up?
Which ones have you adopted?

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

WFW: One last project

I woke up pretty early on January 2, 2010.  I was excited and ready for the big day!
As I was getting in the shower, I knocked a huge bottle of Advil on the floor.
My dad had already taken a shower, so the floor was a little damp.  By the time I got out of the shower there was a big pile of terracotta colored water and wet white powder.  It was a mess, but I didn't care because I was getting married!!!

Our first stop of the day was the reception venue.   My dad and brother put out a sign to indicate the parking lot the guest should use and a banner which pointed the way from the lot to the venue.  While they were doing that, mom and I were inside checking everything over.  I did a once over and realized that the table cloths hadn't been layered the way we'd discussed.  Luckily they hadn't gotten very far with the set up and was able to get it sorted.  I then went around and put table numbers on the correct tables.  I set up a table with all of the extras I'd made to show the workers how all the tables should be set and they were happy to take it from there.  We then set up the escort card display and gave the coordinator a few other things to set out.  After one last check around, we were ready to head to the church.

It was a gorgeous day, crisp and sunny.  When we arrived at the church we went to the Parlour which would be the girls' base of operations.  The room was perfect for that purpose.  It was light and airy and a familiar place (as I'd spent tons of time there for various church activities).  The sun streamed through the windows.

Then I started to finish the final project of the day- the programs.  Now, my original plan for these involved a cardstock cover with a vellum monogram on it, but a few days before the wedding I said "to heck with it" and simplified.  I knew the stress of putting them together would be more than the pleasure of having fabulous programs.  In the end, they turned out perfectly fine and got the job done.  They were a fine project to keep me busy on the morning of the wedding, but simple enough that I wasn't too stressed.

I folded, punched holes, and tied with ribbon.  Easy peasy... except that it took ages!
Luckily before too long, the cavalry arrived and I had plenty of hands to help.  

If this isn't the world's greatest "before" for a Bridal Before & After, I don't know what is...

We folded and punched and threaded and tied.  But most importantly, we laughed.  We laughed really hard.  It was the perfect way to start the day.  I had something to do, but it was easy and I had help- and I had great company to keep me calm and focused. 

Next up it was time to start getting pretty.

All photos in this post by Shari Hunt

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The greatest word in the history of the world*

I love the word "y'all".  That might sound like an overstatement and perhaps it is.  I mean I'm not a total psycho about it, but come on.  Let's admit it.  It's awesome.  I guess it's my Texas upbringing that gives me such fondness for the word.  It is certainly the best way to indicate that one is speaking to a group of people.  
I've already got Ross using it and I'm not stopping there!  I want to turn y'all into a global phenomenon.

I've heard some southern transplants lament the fact that this gem has crept into their vocabularies.  Why!?  It's a lovely little word.  It get's the point across and it rolls right off the tongue.  Tell me what better word or phrase there is to take it's place?  The midwestern "youse guys"?  I think not.  "Everyone"?  Where's the charm in that?

Now this brings me to one final point about my beloved word.  It is y'all.  Y-apostrophe-A-L-L. It is NOT, under any circumstances "ya'll".  It seriously brings out a case of my crazies when I see it spelled this way.  Just think about it.   It is a contraction of the words "you" and "all".  The apostrophe takes the place of the "O" and "U".  It is pronounced exactly like it looks with the "y" flowing gently into the "all".  If it were "ya'll" it would be a contraction of what exactly?  "Ya" and "all"?  "Ya" isn't even a word.  And it would be pronounced with an awful and halting "ya" sound followed by a guttural "lllll".  Sick and wrong I say!  Sick and wrong!

So, dear readers, please strive to incorporate the word "y'all" into your daily vocabulary.  But only if you spell it correctly ;)

What is your favourite regional word?
My fav in Northern England so far is the use of "Ta" for "Thank you".  It sounds so friendly and sweet.

*Perhaps the slightest bit of an exaggeration.  But y'all don't blame me, right?

Monday, 27 June 2011

I've never heard of that... Cliff Richard

In this series, we previously took a look at 80's Tunes.  This time, we'll take a look at a huge popstar- Cliff Richard.

I settled on this topic because it's Wimbledon time.  Some of you may wonder what the connection is.  Well I'll tell you.  We were watching a show about the history of Wimbledon and it featured as one of the top moments of Wimbledon a little clip featuring Sir Cliff himself.  After we'd watched it, I asked Ross is I didn't know who Cliff was because I'm too American or because I'm too young.  He answered that it was most likely due to my American-ness.  The clip in question?  An impromptu Wimbledon concert:

Though virtually unknown in America, Cliff has a fairly unique distinction of having had a UK number one in every decade from the 1950's to 2000's.  He has also sold more singles than any other artist in the UK.  

I asked Ross about which songs of note I should include in this post.  You should know, he was unable to sing them for me without dancing around.  It's pretty cute.

I'll now leave you with a few choice hits for your enjoyment.

In 1963 a cheesy movie musical was released called Summer Holiday.  This song, from the soundtrack became a huge hit.  It's fairly apropos, as Sir Cliff has never married.

In 1968, Cliff Richard's "Congratulations" took 2nd place at the Eurovision Song Contest- losing by just 1 point!  At least one major restaurant chain uses this to herald patron's birthdays, rather than the traditional Birthday song.

And one final amusing tidbit:
In 1972, he was refused admittance to Singapore because his hair was too long.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Word of the Week


Definition:  a set of episodes of a television programs intended to run in a finite period of time, sometimes with a hiatus in the middle, can vary in number of episodes
Used in a sentence:  I really think the second seasonseries of The US version of The Office is when the show took off and came into it's own.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Cultural Smackdown: The Apprentice Edition

This version of the Smackdown will focus on the main difference between the two versions: the host of the respective versions of The Apprentice.

So let's break this down:

US Version

- Hosted by: Donald Trump
- Known as: "The Donald", though generally shown respect by candidates who refer to him as "Mr. Trump"
- Age: 65
- Signature hand gesture when firing:  the cobra (pictured above)
- How he became wealthy: Family money.. He joined his father's already successful real estate company, he took it to heights of success and some shaky depths.
- How he became famous:  He raised his profile due to his outrageous style, outspoken nature, and penchant for trading in wives.
- Politics:  Aye, aye, aye...  He initially toyed with running for President as a 3rd party candidate in 2000.  He's been making noises (and vaguely racist proclamations about our current president) about running as a Republican in the next election.
- Children: 5 by 3 different wives; Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany & Barron
- Wives: Ivana (1977-1992); Marla Maples (1993-1999); Melania Knauss (2004-present)
- Likes:  gold, golf, calling things "classy", the sound of his own voice, styling his hair in a thoroughly ridiculous manner and refusing to listen to anyone who might suggest that is might look better in another style.
-Estimated to be worth:  $2.7 billion (according to Forbes)

UK Version

- Hosted by: Alan Sugar
- Known as: "Lord Sugar", though his official title is Baron Sugar, of Clapton in the London Borough of Hackney.  Before he was made a Lord he was known as "Sir Alan" as he was knighted in 2000.  
- Age: 64
- Signature hand gesture when firing:  the point (pictured above)
- How he became wealthy: All on his own, baby.  He grew up poor in the East End of London, the son of a tailor.  He began his entrepreneurial empire by selling electronics out of a van as a market seller.  From there he built an electronics company that he sold in 2007 for £125 million.  
- How he became famous:  He came into the public eye when he bought Tottenham Hotspur.  This raised his profile.  Possibly the fact that his business deals with electronics and media, combined with his self-made status, made him a "celebrity" of sorts.
- Politics:  He's a supporter of the Labour party.  There were reports that he'd been approached to stand as the Labour candidate for Mayor of London, which he has dismissed.  He was given the title of Baron so that he could serve with Gordon Brown's government as "Enterprise Champion", a non-political role.
- Children: 3; Simon, Daniel, Louise
- Wives: Ann (1968-present)
- Likes:  Rolls Royces, footballsoccer, travel, getting in Twitter spats, being shot from angle that doesn't make him look quite so short, talking about his roots
- Estimated to be worth: $1.14 billion

So who wins?
In my opinion, Trump has become too much like a caricature.  He's made the show increasingly entertainment-oriented as it progressed from season to season.  Sugar, on the other hand, has exerted more and more control over the show to demand better candidates and more real business-oriented tasks.  It could just be because Sugar is new to me, and hasn't had time to grow as tiresome as I find The Donald, but for my money- Sugar takes it.

Mr. Trump-  You're fired! (Note:  I was going to take a cute picture of myself doing a signature firing hand motion, but I don't feel very photogenic today... so just picture it for yourself, ok?  Ok.)

What do you think?

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Stayin' up late

For the past couple of days we've been watching reruns of

We discovered that the show airs on ITV4 at 6PM weekdays so we've been flashing back.  Yesterday's episode featured Neil Patrick Harris (post-Dougie) as a 1950's frat jerk.  (As a side note, they actually bleeped the word "Spaz" from the episode.  Take that, Anonymous!)  I posted on Facebook about this fact, which prompted as little discussion.

I said that Quantum Leap was the first show my brother Matt and I were allowed to stay up an extra hour past our bedtimes to watch.  I have vivid memories of this.  My brother countered, saying that Moonlighting was actually the first show we stayed up to watch.  I assumed I'd remembered incorrectly.  After all, he's my big brother and must remember better than I!  But then.... but then!  Our mom weighed in with the news that I was right!  Did you hear that?  Such sweet words... I WAS RIGHT!  Victorious dancing and a little long-distance "nannyboobooing" ensued.  Of course, my husband was the only one to witness this as my brother lives in New York. The phrase "I have a mind like a steel trap" definitely came out of my mouth and onto Facebook.

We're so sweet together :)

But then, dear readers, my husband said something that brought my gleeful crowing to a rapid halt.  He said, "I would have sworn that Moonlighting was on before Quantum Leap."  A quick search on IMDB revealed that he was correct.  Quantum Leap aired from 1989 to 1993.  Moonlighting was on from 1985 to 1989.  How can this be?!?  I remember watching Moonlighting too...  but does that mean Matt is right?  It can't be true...  perhaps we watched reruns.  Yeah.  Yeah... reruns.  That's the ticket.  They must have been reruns...

Do you and your siblings have any rivalry?  
Does it take the form of remembering useless trivia?
What was the first show you were allowed to stay up late to watch?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

WFW: Rehearsal Dinner

So once we'd finished rehearsing, it was time to eat!

Like other times during the planning process, I learned that things I took for granted about a wedding were foreign concepts (literally!) to Ross.  Once I explained the concept of a rehearsal dinner to Ross he was on board.  I have to say it was pretty cute.  He was so in to our wedding and being involved.  When I first started planning the wedding I started making decisions without him.  He had to stop me and ask to be more involved!  I believe his exact words were "I only plan to get married once and I'd quite like to see how it works."

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned Ross' parents.  Sadly, they died several years ago.  That meant that Ross and I would be hosting the rehearsal dinner ourselves.  We knew pretty quickly that we'd be having Italian food for the rehearsal.  It's our favourite!  We quickly settled on Buca di Beppo.  (I already wrote a post about how much we love it!)  Ross was especially excited about the prospect of picking a menu that was made entirely of things he could eat- no meat in sight!

First up, we had our invitations.  I showed Ross several options for cute, casual invites.  He wasn't having it.  He wanted something more fancy.  He felt that it would go with the rest of the wedding better.  Awwww.

Anyway, the night of the actual rehearsal, we rushed from the church to the restaurant.  Everyone not involved in the rehearsal was already waiting for us.  So much for my place cards!  I ended up just handing them out to everyone- oh well.

My cousins and their hubbies

One end of the table awaiting our arrival. 

We get there!  See my black and white bag of place cards? :)

The late arrivals get settled.  You can see me handing our place cards in the background.

My Aunt Pam showing off her and my Uncle Mike's place cards.

Our littlest friend was excited about the rubber ducks.

His big brother was too.  They both had pirate ducks.

The restaurant was great.  We had tons of food and the family style serving platters made for a great atmosphere.   We had the whole room to ourselves and were able to mingle and chat and stuff our faces.  We  had a few toasts from people at the end of the meal, and just a few more tears.


Waiting for the food.

Eating and laughing.

The food arrives!

The salad.  Probably the whole reason we had our rehearsal dinner there.
Ross loves this salad.

Yumm-o! Bruschetta!

Pasta with tomato sauce

Cheese ravioli

Celebration cake

By the end of the night, our littlest ring bearer had 
collected most of the ducks and placed them on a plate.

 True story:  Over Christmas, Ross and I spent a good couple of hours assigned people rubber ducks and writing names on them.  All of the bridesmaids, my mom and my grandmothers were fairy princess ducks.  All of the groomsmen were cowboy ducks.  The little boys and their dad were pirates.  Other people were assigned based on personality.  Seriously.  My brother rolled his eyes at our stupidity, but we thoroughly enjoyed the fun.  We debated the merits of different ducks for different people.  Example:  We used one with a hard hat and shovel for my dad because he's an engineer.  (Have I mentioned that we are nerds?)  :)

After a lovely evening it was time to say goodbye.  My parents, brother and I went back to my apartment to finish up some last minute wedding stuff.  Ross and his groomsmen (sans my brother) went out for a drink- I guess we'll count it as his stag do.  By the time they were ready to head back, we were done.  Ross and his best man were staying at my place while I stayed in my parents hotel room.  That's right, I spent my final single night on a hide-a-bed.

We finished up the last of wedding to-dos (the escort cards and seating plan) by about 2AM and I hit the hay.    As excited as I was, I slept really well!

Next up- the morning of the big day!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A Man with a Plan

This weekend was a first (of a sort) in our marriage.

Often times I will inquire of Ross "What's the plan for ______?"  That blank could be any number of things:  tomorrow, dinner, this weekend, etc.
You see I am an agenda maker.
My darling Ross..... is not.

It's taken awhile for us to get used to this fact about each other.  I function much better if I have at least a general plan for the day ahead.  What time do we need to leave?  What tasks do we need to complete?  Do we need to run any errands while were are out?  This helps me collect my thoughts and keeps me from sleeping in until noon.  Ross, on the other hand, will get up at a reasonable time and start doing work.  Yes, there are tasks that need to get done, but he just sort of rolls with it.  He figures out what he feels like working on or what most needs doing and does it.  This works for him.

Neither style is wrong.  In fact, I think they're quite complimentary in many ways.  We end up pushing each other and expanding each other's perspective- a quality that I really value in our marriage.  We're learning to compromise.

Anyway- last Saturday afternoon I asked my husband what the plan for dinner was (usually the easiest of my "plan" queries for him to answer).  He shocked me by stating that he thought we could walk to the grocery store and get food to have a picnic and watch The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe.  FYI- I love a floor picnic.  It seriously makes me ridiculously excited.  That's not weird, right?  I think it dates back to my childhood when my mom was awesome at inventing activities for us to do.  Somedays we'd pack a little picnic and carry it out to eat in our front lawn.  Oh the excitement!

Ross then absolutely baffled me.  He didn't stop.  He went on to state that he thought the next morning we could get up and go to the Whitefield Farmer's Market and then go into town for the Manchester Day Parade.  When the man makes a plan, he makes a plan!

So we followed the plan.

We had a picnic!  (You should know that I'm re-experiencing my picnic-related excitement just by telling you about it.  I know... I'm a freak.)

On the left (top to bottom):  Potato Salad, Egg Salad, Prosciutto, Black Olive Hummus
On the right (top to bottom): 2 kinds of bread, pear, apple, grapes, brie, Cheshire, and Double Gloucester cheeses, olives, cucumber and tomato.  And a glass of Apple and Mint juice.  Delish!

The next morning, we got up and walked to the Whitefield Farmer's Market.  Whitefield is technically the town we live in.  It's sort of like a suburb of Manchester.  Ross had noticed a banner up at a nearby park which proclaimed that the Farmer's Market was back.  We were pretty excited to see if there was anything good.  Some tasty fresh fruit and veg, perhaps?  After about a 5 minute walk we were at the park.  There seemed to be people around.  There was a buzz in the air.  Then I looked down into the park and saw this.

Oh look some tents!

We walked a little closer.  

Wait... make that 10 tents.  10.

Yep it was, in Ross' words, "The World's Most Crap Farmer's Market".  Do you think they'll want the award in the form of a certificate, a plaque, a trophy, or a crystal bowl of some kind?  There were 10 measly stands. Two that were perhaps legitimately from a farm.  The highlights were: the black and white photos that the woman basically told me sucked and I'd be stupid to buy them, the "cute" kids costume-outfit thingies, and the pencils made out of sticks that a guy would engrave with your name.  Yeah.  It was lame.  LAME!!  Oh well.

Stay tuned for part 2 where we go to the parade...

Monday, 20 June 2011

Public Works at it's Finest

Since my dad used to be in the Public Works business I have what you might call a "heightened radar" for issues that I know would catch his eye.  Isn't it funny how our parent's peccadilloes get passed on to us?

We have one such issue on the street where our warehouse is.
What is it, you ask?
Well, I'll tell you.

The street has never really been in tip-top shape.  You can see bits of the original cobblestones in many places.

The stretch of street just outside our warehouse.  The famed cobbles of Manchester peeking through.

A couple of weeks ago, three road barriers showed up.  They were set up to make a little triangle around a small pothole in the middle of the road.  At the time it seemed a bit excessive given that it's a fairly small street.

A felled barrier.

People seemed to continue about their business, largely ignoring the barriers.  It didn't take long before they were knocked over and lay flay in the street.  Eventually, someone dragged them to the side since they were just getting run over.

You can just make out the hole at the right of the first white line.

Today, Ross and I crossed the road to go get lunch and noticed the pothole.  Previously, it had really just been a bit of a dip in the road.

My goodness!  As soon as Ross realized how deep the hole was, he called out for me to not stand so close to it.  (For the record, I was a good 10 feet from the hole and in no danger at all- it was cute though).  The pothole is now about 2.5 feet across and about a foot deep!

A close up.

So now our small street, which gets regular traffic from large lorrytrucks (that's a bonus Ameringlish word for ya!) has a massive gaping hole with no warning or imminent work to be done.

This reminds me of a story I read a while back (I looked for it, but couldn't find... sorry) about an English village that could no longer afford to keep repairing their roads.  They opted to scrape off all of the asphalt and fully uncover the cobblestones that are underneath.  This option, not only saved them money on repairs, but ended up acting as a speed deterrent!

Is there a number like 311 that you can call to report public works issues?
Should we take bets on how long it takes before a truck breaks and axle from a wheel falling in the hole?
Or should we stage an accident where I fall in the hole and we win a lawsuit for millions of pounds from Manchester? ;)