31 October 2007

28 Is Great!

So this year for my birthday, Andrew took me to my favourite restaurant, The Big Easy. It's an American New Orleans style restaurant (hence the name), where we can get two of my favourite things: margaritas and crab legs. This time, though, Andrew and I split a whole crab,and apparently I made a pirate face at it (no I hadn't yet had too many margaritas).The Triefs joined us for dinner, and Andrew even put a "K" candle in our dessert.
He's such a sweetie. Great birthday, all around.

29 October 2007

The All-American Weekend

So this weekend, Andrew and I celebrated Halloween and had an All-American Weekend. Our annual visitors Kip and Erica Copeland were in Birmingham (England) for training sessions before they head back to Bosnia for their missionary work. Friday night, Andrew and I had really been looking forward to taking it very low-key – renting movies, carving pumpkins, and having dinner delivered – we were happy to hear that the Copelands were quite tired from all their training courses and were happy to do the same. We decided on Chinese and finally found a take-out place with which we’re happy (in the past our Chinese delivery places have been fair at best). Andrew, Erica, and I went to Blockbuster and, finding no movies that we wanted to rent, bought eight off the cheap racks. We bought 13 Going on 30, The Goonies, Billy Madison, Almost Famous, Casino, The Godfather, and Donnie Brasko. That night we watched Monster House while we carved pumpkins and then followed it up with Donnie Brasko because Erica and I had never seen it. We ended the night by finding the giant octopus scene in The Goonies and watching the Cindy Lauper video that went with the movie (“Good Enough”).

Saturday morning we got up and went down to Clapham to a Halloween costume shop there. We were trying to find costumes for the four of us because we were planning on going to the Texas Exes (the University of Texas Alumni Association) Annual Halloween Party later that night. The costume shops were insane, though. There were so many people piled in there that we could hardly find anything. Erica bought a mask, and Kip decided to just wear his Cowboys football jersey and put the black football makeup underneath his eyes. Andrew and I had decided the night before that we would go as Brittany Spears and Kevin Federline. I went as Crazy-Shaved-Headed-Brittany-Bashing-the-SUV-with-an-Umbrella, and Andrew was K-Fed-to-the-Max.Our costumes got some laughs at the party, as you can imagine; we looked ridiculous. We met lots of nice new people and had a great time at the party. It was great actually being around all American accents for a while!

I’m going to pass the buck to Andrew now, and let him tell you about our experiences on Sunday…On Sunday, Andrew had gotten us tickets to the first American NFL game to be played on international soil – the New York Giants battling the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium here in London. Andrew was so excited! We went early to beat the tube traffic there and to “tailgate” with our friends before the game.
(Tailgating here consists of meeting at pub for ciders.) Several of Andrew’s friends from PwC had managed to get tickets, as well, and so we met them at a pub near the stadium.
Our seats were really good as they were in the end zone in the upper deck but on the front row. It was terribly cold and rainy (shocking!) for the game and the players on the field were kicking up huge chunks of sod every time they hit the ground.
England still hasn’t gotten over the damage done to the pitch. The game itself might have been one of the most boring games we have ever watched.The final was 13-10 but it was 13-0 when we left at the conclusion of the third quarter. The highlight of the game was the streaker that acted as though he was about to kick-off the second half with both teams ready to start before settling for push-ups at midfield.In addition we saw John Cusack walking around the field and waiving to fans. I’m a big fan of his so that was pretty cool. As I noted, we left at the end of the third quarter. We decided that we did not want to fight the crowd to get home so we went ahead and made to commute early. We were very glad we did as they were closing the tube station at the moment we entered. I have no idea how so many others got home that evening. I talked to one of my colleagues and he told me it took over an hour and a half to get home. It took us 40 minutes. As soon as we got in we cooked tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. That seemed a perfect way to thaw out from the cold, rainy weather and it was. In all we were really glad we got to experience the event but I hope the NFL sends a better team than the Dolphins next time. The Dolphins are embarrassing to the NFL and an even worse representative of one of our favourite sports.

22 October 2007

The Humphries!

A while back, my dear friend Leah called me to tell me that she and her husband were taking a European vacation with her parents and would be staying in London for several days. Unfortunately, when we figured out the dates they were going to be here, it coincided with the weekend that Andrew and I would be in Florence with my parents, so we decided to meet for dinner on Monday night after we returned, which was also their last night in London before heading on to Paris. Andrew had to leave for Amsterdam Monday morning, so I left work Monday evening to head to Tottenham Court Road to meet them. We wandered around and dipped into a little Japanese restaurant in the area and had a fabulous meal and wine. After dinner I brought them back to our flat where we sat around and chatted for such a long time.

By the way, Leah, my monogrammed tea towel looks so cute hung up in our kitchen – it matches the sepia-toned picture of the trees hanging up on the right when you walk in. Also, I love the cookbook you sent; I haven’t cooked anything out of it, yet, because I’ve been too busy laughing over the anecdotes alongside the recipes! It was so nice to have a bit of home here in London, and I had forgotten how much I missed you both! I hope you had a lovely time in Paris and Rome, and I’ll call you soon to see how it was and whether you were able to go to Da Pietro (Andrew’s and my favourite restaurant in the world).

21 October 2007


This weekend we travelled to Florence, Italy, again, but to meet my parents this time (last time we were there we met Andrew’s parents). Andrew and I took a different approach to Florence this time, and instead of staying in a hotel, Andrew found a flat for us to rent for the weekend. For the same price as it would have been for us to stay in a hotel, we got a small one-bedroom flat with a full living room, little kitchen, bathroom, and even a little balcony. It was a beautiful little place with huge windows that opened up to let in the fresh Florentine air.

We arrived in Florence late Thursday night (we’re talking midnight) and went straight to bed. Friday morning we slept late because Mom and Dad’s schedule had been changed so that they weren’t getting into Florence until Friday afternoon, and then they were supposed to go on an excursion with their group and then to dinner. Andrew and I bummed around Florence and shopped. I got a new pair of leather gloves and two new wool hats, one grey and one red (in preparation for the impending London winter). We also bought birthday presents for my parents.
Later that night we went to dinner at a little place that our tour book said was great, but we were a little overwhelmed at the menu, which was all in Italian. (I had given my Italian dictionary to my parents!) After getting the waitress to point out some entrees that weren’t intestines, stomach or liver, we ended up having a great meal and met some Auburn and Alabama fans who were celebrating their 50-year anniversary! After dinner, we met my parents at the Duomo and dipped into a little restaurant to share a bottle of wine with them.

For our birthdays, my parents had arranged for us to join their tour group for a day trip to Sienna, which Andrew and I had missed during our last visit to Florence. We met them at the crack of dawn at their hotel for breakfast and then piled into the bus for the drive to Sienna. The drive to Sienna (what parts of it we didn’t sleep through!) was beautiful: rows upon rows of olive trees and grapevines line the countryside for a breathtaking view of the wine country. We arrived in Sienna to freezing weather; apparently the temperature had dropped about 10 degrees overnight, and none of us had really come fully prepared for temperatures that low. We went to a cathedral and saw the skull of Saint Catherine of Sienna, which was a little creepy (we saw her thumb, too, but the rest of her is in Rome).
Then we went up to San Gimignano, an adorable little town with lots of towers. We had lunch there, and Andrew picked out and bought me a much-needed black and brown purse so that I never have to change purses again! Later we met back up with the group and went to Tenuta Torciano for a wine tasting with a crazy little man named Pierre Luigi, which was really fun.

After tasting several wines, olive oils, and such, we loaded back onto the bus and headed back to Florence.
It had been a great day in Sienna, and, Mom and Dad, we can’t thank you enough for making that day so special for us.

When we returned to Florence, Andrew and I had made dinner reservations for the six of us – my parents, their friends the Nassettas, and us – at a place called Il Latini, which was such a popular venue that they turn their phones off during peak hours. We were running late getting back from Sienna, so we were rushing to try and get there and couldn’t call to tell them we were running late. We took two taxis, and my parents and Mr. Nassetta ended up getting there first. Apparently, they told my dad and Pete that we were too late, but when Andrew and I walked in with Mrs. Nassetta and saw Mom, the waitress told my mom to follow her to our table. We think the waitress got confused as to who we were and gave us someone else’s table! We followed her, sat down, and were informed that there were no menus. They began bringing out plate after plate and course after course, everything to be passed around and shared. The food was outstanding, and the atmosphere was amazing. By the time we finished several bottles of the house wine and coffees and dessert, we were stuffed!

After such a long day, we all parted ways after dinner, but I have to say that it was so nice seeing my parents even for a single day. I’m so glad that they had such a great time, and I hope that they have as much fun next year when they come visit us in London!

16 October 2007


I just wanted to share with all of you who don't live here how freakishly honest Transport for London (TFL) is about why there are delays on the tube system. I visited the TFL Live Travel News page this evening (as I do every day before leave for work in the morning and home in the evening) and discovered that the Central Line is part suspended due to a person under a train. I kid you not.

The above reads: "CENTRAL LINE: Suspended between Liverpool Street and Marble Arch due to a person under a train at Holborn. Severe delays are occurring on the rest of the line." [Ya think?!]

That's what the website live feed reads right now, and it's probably what they're announcing over the intercoms in the tube stations, as well. Is he alive? Is she dead? Why is he under the train? Did she jump? Did he fall? Was she protesting something? Did someone push him? Don't know! But I tell you, they're probably announcing those details in the stations, as well, or at least on the actual tube trains in the Central Line. They're just that honest!

I just think that's funny because in America they would never tell something like because they wouldn't want to look as though the tube stations are unsafe enough to allow people to get/fall under the tracks, regardless of the fact that they are and everyone knows it. Here, it's like they're so proud that it's actually not their fault this time (for instance, "signal failure at Ealing Broadway" or "backed up queue at Earl's Court", which happens every morning to me).

Also, just so you know, the girls at work just chastised for reading Holborn as "Hol-born". Apparently, like Gloucester is "Gloss-ter" and Leicester is "Lester", Holborn is actually pronounced "Ho-burn". Did you know that they pronounce Worcestershire sauce "Wooster" sauce?!

15 October 2007

Congrats, Cuz!

This weekend I went home for my cousin Laura’s wedding. The wedding was beautiful. They held the ceremony and reception in Laura’s parent’s backyard. There was a pretty arbor where the ceremony took place, a rented tent with paper Chinese lanterns for the dinner reception, a huge new deck for dancing, and everything was decorated with white twinkle lights and fall colors! It was a magical evening, and Laura looked breathtaking and so happy! It was so nice to be home, too, and get to see all my family, although the weekend, I have to say, was so stressful for me! Flying 20 hours for three days at home is a bit much, but it was worth it. I just wish I could have seen more people while I was there! Those of you whom I missed this trip (which was everyone except my family), I’ll catch you at Christmas!