30 January 2007

Afternoon Tea With the Girls

This afternoon, Beth made reservations for Jill, Katy, her, and me to go and enjoy "a fashionista's afternoon tea in the Caramel Room of the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge. We got all dolled up and met in the lobby, and then sat down to enjoy a glass of champagne, caramel-pear tea, gourmet hors d'oeuvres, and "cakes and fancies" decorated in the latest fashions.

"PrĂȘt-a-Portea is a new concept in afternoon tea. It has been designed to add a creative twist to the classic elements of the traditional English afternoon tea, with the cakes and pastries inspired by the latest fashion season’s catwalk designs for the style conscious and with savouries in miniature mouthfuls for the figure conscious."

29 January 2007

My Bloody Finger

Today I had my first experience with the British A&E (for Accident and Emergency). I was slicing cheese for a sandwich and cut the hell out of my pinkie finger. I finally got it to stop bleeding, hopped on a bus to the "chemist" to get some "plasters," and halfway there realized that it had started bleeding again, had bled through the paper towel in which I had wrapped it, and had proceeded to make an actual puddle in my lap, all without my noticing. So I got off at the next stop and ran in the nearest store with a bathroom, hoping to rinse it and a get some more paper towels for it. Well, when I unwrap it in the bathroom (which, by the way, only has hand driers), it's actually squirting blood like an artery all over me, my face, the counter. It's going straight up in the air! Of course, I'm panicking, and a woman turns and sees and goes to get the first aid person on duty at the department store. So this other lady, helps me wrap it up in toilet paper and is holding my arm up in the air for me while putting cold tissues on the back of my neck and making me sit down on the toilet until the first aid lady gets there, about ten minutes later. So she looks at it, bandages it up nice for me and make a sling for me to make sure I hold it upright and sends me off with directions to head to the hospital, saying I need stitches. So I go (after much ado of going to the wrong one first and then having to go back and forth to my house twice), and they put a bandage on it, and send me on my way again. What an ordeal! Now I have this huge thing on my pinkie that hurts!

28 January 2007

Belgo Centraal

As if we didn't get enough of Belgium last weekend, last night we made reservations to head to a Belgian restaurant this weekend! Brad and Jill had been raving about the place, and it was one of the restaurants on their list that they wanted to visit before heading back to the States in February. We had a great time. The restaurant is known for it's mussels, and the wait staff all dress as monks. We again drank some interesting beers, including one called Kwak that comes with a wooden stand to hold it up, since the bottom of the glass is round!

22 January 2007


This weekend we went to Bruges, Belgium, with our friends the Beards and the Noris. Jill Beard basically planned out the whole trip for us (thanks, Jill!), and we stayed a great little hotel called Scandic Brugge just outside the City Centre. The windows in our room had a view of pasture full of sheep:

Andrew was coming straight from Amsterdam, so he arrived at the hotel well before the rest of us, who met at Waterloo station and too the Eurostar to Brussells. It was the first time I had ever been on the Eurostar, and I thought it was great, though I found it very difficult to walk on the train (and to keep my single-serving wine bottle upright)! We arrived in Bruges around 9:30ish, and Andrew had made us reservations at L'Assiette de Nuit Nachtrestaurant, which was open late. Andrew, Brad, and I got the "local" Flemmish stew, and it was wonderful.

When we finished, we walked back to the place where the taxi would pick us up and had a couple more drinks back in the hotel lobby.

Saturday and Sunday we didn't really have a plan; we just decided to play it by ear. We wandered around the city and saw everything we could, including the main cathedral in the square, which has a bell tower with a spiral staircase leading 366 stairs up into the Belgium air. We climbed all 366, and the view was gorgeous.

We took a bus tour around the city, partly so that we could get a feel for the city before getting lost in it, and partly because it was so cold and rainy! If it weren't for the bus tour, we never would have seen the windmills. Actually, Andrew never did, as he slept through that part!

We also went to the Choco-Story, the Chocolate Museum. The mission of the Chocolate Museum is "to make known the story of the transformation of cocoa into chocolate and to promote the health and quality aspects of Belgian chocolate." The museum tells you everything you'd ever want to know about chocolate: the historical, geographical, and botanical aspects of it. It was really interesting, and we got to be tasters at the end!

We stumbled into the Church of Our Lady, where Michelangelo's Madonna and Child sculpture is on display. The sculpture, made in 1504 out of Carrara marble, was the only one of Michelangelo's works to leave Italy in his lifetime and is today one of the few that can be seen outside Italy. It was bought by a Bruges merchant, Jan van Mouskroen, and donated to the church in 1506. In the church, we also saw a painting of the Crucifixion of Christ by Anthony van Dyck; a rococo extravaganza of a pulpit, designed by Bruges artist Jan Antoon Garemijn; and side-by-side bronze tomb sculptures of the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, who died in 1477, and his daughter, Mary of Burgundy, who died at age 25 after falling from her horse in 1482. Through a windowpane under the tombs we could see the 13th- and 14th-century graves of priests.

On Sunday afternoon, the sun finally came out (about 24 hours late, according to Rino's prediction), and I finally was able to talk everyone into taking the boat tour around the city. There are canals that run throughout the city, and we could see people taking the boat tours all weekend, but it was so cold and wet that I was the only one who really wanted to do it. So the sun was out; it was nice, and get on the boat. We had barely gotten away from the dock when the bottom dropped out. It was pouring down rain and continued throughout the entire tour. The boat provided large umbrellas for everyone; the problem was that whoever's umbrell was on the bottom, drenched everyone sitting nearby with the runoff. Most of us were soaked on some part of our bodies by the time the little cruise ended. I have to say, though, that the views from the boat were phenomenal (though they would have been better in sunshine!).

We ate fondu one night:

And what better way to enjoy Belgium than to eat Belgian Chocolate...

Belgian waffels...

and to sample the Belgian beers...

We went to a little place that Beth found called the Brugs Beertje, which served a collection of nearly 500 bottled beers!

We also stopped into this adorable little teapot store, where I purchased one for my collection; it's shaped like a travelling trunk!
(Mr. Sam, the owner of the shop)


The smallest street in Bruges, where the prostitutes used to "hang out."

We got to be experts at taking group shots!

The Market Square:

There are horse-drawn carriages and cobblestone streets everywhere in Bruges.

We ended up having a fabulous time in Bruges, and when our trip was over, Andrew turned to me and said, "Say goodbye to Bruges, Kelly. We'll probably never be back again..."

03 January 2007

New Year's Eve 2006

Every year for New Year's Even, Andrew and I and our friends usually pay $50-75 per head to attend a charity-event party. I'm not sure that any of us ever eveb know what charity what supporting.

This year, however, Andrew's brother Neal and their good friend Ollie decided that we should throw our own party. We would rent a place, hire a band, charge admission; that way instead of there being a small group of us at a big party, it would be only our close friends!

So Neal and Ollie did all the planning and organizing. They gathered about 20 hosts, and each host donated $50. We rented out Nona's II in Vestavia City Center, and hired Odie McCool's band. We made up an e-vite and sent it to all our friends, who in turn sent it their friends, who sent it to their friends. By the end of it, the e-vite had been sent to more than 700 people.

That night, everything looked great. There ended up being a line way out the door, and we actually had to cut people off; there were so many people there! We drank all the alcohol in the restaurant, then cleaned out the restaurant upstairs, then they had to go Rite-Aid and buy more! It was insane, but it was a great time! By the end of it, the owners were asking Andrew when we could throw another party! Here are some pictures.

The pre-party dinner at the Brock's house:

Nona's II, all decorated for the party to start!

This is a list of all the hosts:

Andrew and the cop checking IDs at the door and taking up admission:

Random snapshots from the party: