i find the transition period between christmas and new years slightly awkward. its kind of like having to wait around for a running race to start but you're two hours early and you can't even collect your number yet. i'm anxious to forget about this year and have butterflies for what may be in store for me in 2009. i'm keen to try to fix things, well a lot of things in my life actually. i wont lie---this year was freakin' tough. i survived though and i know that every moment i've had in 2008 was a 'lesson' in disguise--perfectly picked out just for me to help shape who i am & pave the way for who i will become.

i've been thinking during this 'transition' period about new years resolutions too--should i? shouldn't i? every year i get sucked in to the pressure of creating huge long lists of what to finish by the end of the year. each dec 30/31 i see the lists of things not crossed off and i get frustrated about how time left me. so, this year i'm making changes and keeping things simple.

i've cut it down to three goals:

1- be positive
2- focus on one day at a time
3- be present in each moment

i figure if i work on these that everything else will fall into place--the weight loss, the job, the relationship, everything.

so, we'll see what happens i guess. i wish i could look into my crystal ball and know what's in store. i'm nervous in a way because i want things to get better than they've been . but, i'm just going to have to trust in the unknown and keep going.

"a journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step" ~ Lao Tzu


my christmas

1. Canada goose, 3. christmas bokeh, 4. christmas at the observatory, 5. greenwich park, 6. our christmas tree, 7. santa in greenwich, 10. holly, 11. winter, 15. doors, 16. tall swan
{all images by me except for two which can be found here}

just a few pics to show what we've been up to this christmas. we've had a glorious holiday--full of good food, quiet, perfect presents and memories.


happy christmas

wishing you all a magical christmas with blessings & joy in the new year.

images from here.


my first christmas pantomime

image from here.

so, we went and did something apparently very english last night---watching a pantomime for the holidays. we saw 'jack & the beanstalk' at greenwich theatre and i have to say it probably one of the weirdest experiences of mine to date. pantomime's have been around a really long time in this country and the only way i could describe what i saw is a mixture of drama/cabaret/slapstick/audience participation/over the top drag queen show. in american terms--i think if you want to picture a bit of saturday night live, the old variety shows from the 40's or bits of the carol burnett show and times all these by 10. but even still its hard to capture the exact feel of these shows in american terms. anything that we might have had/do have like this was originally inspired by the british pantomimes.

usually they consist of some fairytale, with men dressed up as women, pretty dancing girls, interjecting lots of song and dance numbers, audience participation (booing at the villains), singing at the end, a bit of slapstick, bad acting, over the top costumes & wigs and sets (some that even fall apart mid way through like ours did). the audience is full of people of literally all ages and by the end everyone has had a good time.

although i was in shock for most of the time and couldn't stop laughing cause i couldn't believe it was happening---it was good fun and i wouldn't mind going again. i think what was most shocking was seeing an audience of usually well behaved brits do more enthusiasm & show such sheer hyperactivity in a 2 hour show than they do all year. all i can say is---wow.

anyway, if you want to watch a bit of a pantomime here's a snippet off of youtube.


vintage for the holidays

my gosh, i'm loving darling dexter's blog! she mentioned jessica hische today and her illustrations and style are just up my alley. i love the vintage feel of colors, lettering and everything. these two i thought were adorable for the holidays:

this one i love cause its what i'm doing friday in celebration of somehow getting through another year. {minus the schnauzer of course}

all images from here. jessica's blog is here.


i want muppets for christmas

this was on the tele. this weekend and i've now decided i officially want the muppets for christmas. i adore this movie this time of year and how you don't question the fact that vegetables and mice start breaking out in song. i love the london/east end setting, the english christmas culture throughout and the fact that i understand so much more about these things cause of living here.

too bad muppets aren't real though cause i think the world would be so much better if we all broke out into random song and dance every once in a while. this and it would be so much of a hoot sharing the morning commutes on the tube {subway} with talking barnyard animals. i don't know maybe i should start a petition, what do you think?


thoughts on acupuncture

many moons ago it seems that i started acupuncture. for a few weeks now because i've made such improvement i've been able to move to every other week and hopefully in the new year i'll be able to cut down my appointments even more. so...i figured now is a good time to elaborate on what i think of the whole process of alternative healing.

frankly, its been a blessing & i'm hooked. where western medicine hasn't had a clue what to do with me {and still don't}, acupuncture has provided huge relief. i don't understand how something as simple as a few needles can completely change your entire sense of well being, but it has.

i would say that about 60% of my health symptoms have either drastically improved or completely disappeared. i still have quite a few things to deal with in regards to pain and other health ailments but i no longer feel like the plague of death for 3 weeks out of the month. i feel like i'm slowly getting my life back & for me that's a huge thing to smile at.

i now also enjoy the chinese herbs where i once gagged on them. i've embraced them and look forward to my brew of mother nature's goodness. i think its amazing how so many things for healing are right in our own backyard. who knows what cure's are out there already given to us by the universe? {makes me think of the sean connery movie, 'medicine man' and the cure for cancer being destroyed in the rain forests}

on the downside--acupuncture has put a bit of a dent in our wallet. i get anxious about the cost particularly as i'm struggling to find work STILL and james has had so much financial burden on him already. but he assures me that health comes first. i just hope that he feels the same way in a month or so after i have to start seeing a private doctor but can't get insurance to cover things {pre-existing condition/chronic illness}.

acupuncture can hurt too, like really hurt, like feeling like a sharp knife in your nerve kind of hurt. putting in the needles every session initially hurts too, but then its pretty funky what happens after that. after the initial 'hurt/pain'---incredible feelings of well being, relaxation and 'clarity' {if that's the right word for it} come over you. i've also had a few weird side affects--nothing major. after sessions i've had to pee, i've cried uncontrollably and its all because those little simple needles release so much emotion and toxins built up over the years. its just an amazing, cleansing, healing experience.

so.....i would recommend it to anyone who can afford the sessions. it is worth it and works for reasons i can't explain. even if i can't explain it or western medicine still doesn't understand everything about it---i think embracing all ways of healing can be beneficial. some of the most wonderful things in life people can't explain, but its about having faith & trust in the unknown. i'm sold & i would encourage anyone who is interested to embrace complementary healing too. you never know may actually be in for a pleasant 'healing' surprise.

bronte's doll house

funny how i started to read jane eyre just this morning and lo & behold i see this later. charlotte bronte decorated this dollhouse and its up for sale. read more here.

images from here.
thanks to marvelous kiddo for the heads up.

it reminds me a lot of another famous doll house i saw over at windsor castle. {which blows my mind away}. running water, real lights, real teeny books and art commissioned by really famous people. doubt you'd ever find something like this at toys r us.

image from here
click on pic to see detail {pic is of just one side, there's 4!}


twinkly lights & all things nice

who knows, with all these festive goodies across blog land & the internet--this ole grinch may just find herself getting into the holiday spirit this year.

{picture from here}

twinkly lights

christmas card courtesy of dooce.

the perfect tree courtesy of u.o.

{thanks to even*cleveland for the heads up}

stockings from sundance.

with a bit of snow:

little elves from down under


of course contemplation on presents from one of the cutest blogs on the planet: darling dexter

{even still is xmas really only like 2 1/2 wks away, eek!}


covent garden christmas

had a glorious time in covent garden over the weekend.
ate a bit of lunch at carluccios,
bought the rest of our christmas cards

did a bit of window shopping

took in the christmas decorations

did a bit of people watching

and found a new hidden gem: neal's yard.


note to self

dont weigh yourself if you've recently been indulging too much in:

image from Flickr


image from flickr

you may have sudden urges to attack the scale with a sledgehammer.

the holidays and my waistline never mix very well.

i don't know how some girls can have appetites like blokes but when i even look at a freakin' fruit cake i pack on 10 lbs.
i swear they must not be from this planet.

thank goodness god created news years resolutions & the month of january.
a girl needs a bit of time to make a comeback.


staying warm

1. chickadee and the snowman, 2. winter sunset, 3. strip-tease!!!, 4. 17.365 scarves much?
{images from flickr}

it gets cold here, darn cold. but london gets so cold it wont snow that often {if it does it melts really quick}. we get a lot of gray, wet freezing blustery weather.
from the months of like september to the end of april i swear the sun rarely comes out.

the houses aren't built with central heating. most have space heaters attached to the walls that come on at night. we don't get double glazed windows either unless you physically have them put in. see-- most houses are still old victorian ones and double glazing wasn't invented yet and they just transferred this little idea to apartments/flats. its only recently that the government has said put double glazing in new properties cause of environmental concerns.

so every winter i am bundled up like a little eskimo. even with our heaters, i still walk around our flat with blankets and sweaters. this winter seems colder than last years. either that or i'm just getting old. james darn him doesn't feel the cold like i do. maybe its a girly thing.

at least we've stocked up on the hot chocolate.
nothing like dark hot chocolate with marshmallows
on a cold December day.


thanksgiving london style

thanksgiving was lovely yesterday. very quiet, lots of cooking, got to talk to a few family members on the phone. i fed our favorite feathered friends earlier in the day leftover bread. {looked like george & mildred were having a few guests over} when james came home from work we popped the pheasant in {tastes like chicken} , a few christmas tunes on the stereo and shared a lovely 'mini' feast for two. to end the evenings festivities---fred clause on our movie channel with a bit of icecream pie. what more could a girl want for thanksgiving?



i am thankful for:

having james in my life & what he teaches me daily
good healthy food, clean water
a place to live with a roof over my head
what 'george & mildred' & 'kitty' {the neighborhood pets} give back

am thankful that our bills have been paid so far
that we have savings still
that we've had interviews
for the opportunity to learn patience & trust in the universe
for acupuncture & chinese herbs
for free health care
for doctors

am thankful for books
music--all the things that sustain me.
am thankful for service, charity & goodness in the world
for my country
for england--what she's taught me
for a new president coming
for inspiration & the word *hope*

am thankful for family far away
making new friends
re-connecting with old ones

i am thankful for the sun shining outside
for breath
for warm things
for love & compassion
for truth

& for a universe that creates all of this in such effortless perfection.

happy thanksgiving.


strong women

photo by jen
{esteria on the right}

wow, funny how little moments can come into your life to teach you lessons.

i've been really feeling pretty darn low about myself recently, worrying about my life at the moment , my future, money, career, relationship and just generally everything under the sun. well, today i read about 'esteria' from one of the blogs i read by a talented artist--kelly rae and boy it sure put me in my place.

esteria is from rwanda, mother of 11 children (all but 4 have died) and is one of the many genocide survivors from the 90's. one of esterias surviving children is 'odette' who now lives in the states as a refugee. you can read more about these strong women here (had to delete the link I'm afraid).

to me women like this are who i want to be. strong & brave in the midst of such trials but yet are full of such love for everyone they meet. i don't know why women like esteria and odette have to suffer, but i am grateful for their stories and what they can teach to everyone of us.

well, while i am worrying about stupid things--esteria doesn't even have a roof over her head. The roof of her house was blown off during a storm. she lives in a mud house.

so--there's a 'charity movement' online starting to help esteria to get a new roof. i don't have much money at the moment but I donated $10 (£6)---i guarantee i'll never miss this. heck, just in what its given back to me in spirits i've already tripled this amount.

anyway, if you can donate even $5 it will help esteria more than you can imagine. i promise you'll never miss the money either. as an extra bonus- kelly rae is giving away one of her amazing paintings for a prize for those who donate!

go here to help out or go to kelly's webpage {see above links}.


thankful shop

did my thanksgiving 'shop' for next week today.

have i mentioned how much i love borough market recently?

it makes the most mundane task just sheer delight.

more pics here.



so james has been away this week--off to wales to have 'man time', away from us women folk. funny cause we've talked every day on the phone-poor chap i think misses me. well, anyhoo i haven't done much since he's been gone just 'life' things like cleaning, exercise, applying for jobs, homework, more cleaning, catching up on sleep. in between all this and doing boring 'business/efforts in life improvement' on the computer i've found myself drifting into blogland & daydreaming. computer's are great for this--window shopping, reading about others lives to forget about your own--all without having to get dressed or put on makeup. so here's what's caught my eye this week in good old computerland:

an engagement photo by josh goleman

love the idea, just love the photo. wonder how the heck he thought of this?
these books are designed by coralie bickford-smith

These caught my eye cause they are available here in little old U.K., even better at my fav. shop in the whole world. thanks to black*eiffel for the heads up on the cute engagement pic and the books practically on my doorstep. funny how a u.s. based blog can give you the 411 on something in your own backyard. i may just have to pop over and get wuthering heights in greenwich this weekend. never read it yet. i know--i know, why the heck not?

picture from here

i love alex from gypsy girl guide. she's having a sale right now in her delicious shop that makes me want to pack my bags right now. i've been daydreaming recently about visiting india or nepal---oh the colors and the feast for the senses!

darling little vintage book from sweetshorn

thanks to jo for reminding me of sweet memories with my gran this week with this vintage book.

been thinking a lot about the phrase 'just be' this week and how to put it more in my life--especially when i've been getting countless rejection letters recently. maybe i should wear it around my neck so i wont forget? i love liz eatons pendants and necklaces that have done just this {see pic above}. thanks tara for the heads up.

picture from here

found a new blog, courtesy of frolic. its full of great art & doodles. did i mention i've been in a doodling mood this week??

finally a bit of thanksgiving goodness, courtesy of a fellow london expat--gwyneth and her new blog 'goop'. sign up here to get her newsletter. in the mean time here's one of her yummy recipes for the holidays:

pumpkin ice cream pie w/maple whipped cream

recipe/words below by gwyneth paltrow

if you can find pumpkin ice cream, by all means use that. if not, here’s a quick and easy way to make some using vanilla ice cream, good canned pumpkin and lots of wonderful spices. when you first make the mixture the spices might seem strong, but remember that their flavors get a bit muted when they’re ice cold. if you're doing thanksgiving for a large crowd, make two of these. one is good for a small crowd and the ice cream alone is a simple, fun desert for a party of two.

SERVES: 6, very generously
TIME: 20 minutes + at least 3 hours in the freezer
  • 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs (about 1 sleeve, ground in the food processor)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1 can pureed pumpkin (or 1-3/4 cups fresh)
  • 1/4 teaspoon each ground allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
  • Maple Whipped Cream (see recipe below)
preheat the oven to 350ยบ F. combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a pie pan (why bother washing a mixing bowl?). mix together with your fingers and then press evenly to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. it helps to press the mixture with the bottom of a small measuring cup. bake for ten minutes or until light brown. let cool while you prepare the filling.

in a large bowl, beat together the ice cream, pumpkin and spices. spread evenly into the cooled pie shell and stick in the freezer for at least three hours before serving. when ready to serve, spread the top with maple whipped cream.

maple whipped cream

maple syrup is one of the great north american ingredients and is one of the healthiest ways to sweeten things. i put it in nearly everything, including this heavenly whipped cream.

SERVES: enough for one pie
TIME: 5 minutes

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2-3 tablespoons real vermont maple syrup
whip the cream using a standing mixer, handheld mixer or whisk {a bit of a workout!} until stiff peaks form. whisk in maple syrup to taste.



click on me to see larger version

so this is what I spent all afternoon & late into the evening doing. trying to make-up this darn thing for homework for a music class i'm doing through berklee online. about 10 hours, a skipped dinner and pilates class later, it may not be perfectly artistic in every way but its done. thank goodness james hasn't been around to hear me swear at the computer cause it hasn't been pretty. i don't have photoshop and did all of the above in gimp and leave it to the online people to assume that we all know how to convert jpeg to pdf? hello you might as well be speaking japanese! i figured it out though by the grace of god--i don't know how but i figured it out.

anyway, i'm off to bed as its nearly 1 am.

i sure hope i get an A for this.

{the band is only hypothetical but the pics are of a texas group eisley}


a story for the weekend

this is so freakin' cute. everything sounds so much better in french don't you think?

{thanks jo for the heads up}


100 things in the world i love

1. dark chocolate
2. rainy days
3. black cats
4. scottish terriers
5. art supply stores
6. book stores
7. fruit smoothies
8. eurostar rides
9. pretty paper
10. street art
11. hard apples
12. old typewriters
13. mashed potatoes
14. buddha statues
15. crayons
16. jazz
17. old movies
18. anything vintage
19. outdoor markets
20. the smell of bread
21. hooded sweatshirts
22. windows in italy
23. macaroni & cheese
24. plane tickets
25. soft blankets
26. lip gloss
27. polaroids
28. apple-pie
29. kite-flying
30. the smell of farms
31. the sound of french
32. pain au chocolat
33. twinkly lights
34. old toys
35. vinyl records
36. cashmere socks
37. tiny european cars
38. christmas trees
39. incense
40. any photographs
41. tibetan beads
42. old people
43. chocolate cake
44. black gel pens
45. laundry lines
46. long walks
47. lemon verbena
48. colored leaves
49. art museums
50. road trips
51. crazy quilts
52. sunday naps
53. sparklers
54. accordians on the paris underground
55. sunlight
56. cobblestone roads
57. seashells
58. blueberries
59. george & mildred our ducks
60. old bridges
61. rainbows
62. james
63. warm swimming pools
64. lotion
65. old fountains
66. classical music
67. clarinets
68. little diaries
69. fruit cocktails
70. pumpkin pie
71. stuffing
72. snow globes
73. thanksgiving
74. polka dots
75. open fields
76. postcards
77. attic bedrooms
78. striped shirts
79. baguettes in paris
80. baggy pajamas
81. yoga
82. daisies
83. roses
84. fresh herbs
85. honey w/plain yogurt
86. yoga pants
87. breathing
88. candles
89. kids laughing
90. audrey hepburn
91. black clothes
92. ocean waves
93. bubbles
94. gelato
95. moonlight
96. oprah
97. lavender
98. trees
99. oatmeal cookies
100. summer in the city

idea from here


drama queen

i busted up laughing, when i saw these pictures today. james was quite well known in college for following a time honored english tradition of putting blokes in dresses for theatre productions. his hippy-length long hair at school made him a perfect choice for a touch of comedy.

here he is as mrs cratchett in his university production of dickens' 'a christmas carol'. doesn't he look pretty? look at what great legs he's got in the second picture? what a great sport, my guy was.



wow what a fitting way to end this week, with fireworks literally. no, they weren't for obama, they were in celebration for guy fawkes night. its a weird holiday every year in england where everyone has bonfires, bobs for apples, fireworks, drinks too much, etc to mark an unsuccessful plot guy fawkes had long long ago to blow up the houses of parliament. the poor chap was burned at the stake for this treason against the crown, and the english like to celebrate this whole predicament. don't ask me to understand their thinking.

even if it is a weird holiday, i enjoyed seeing the fireworks this year up on blackheath common. it was a perfect end to the last 6 weeks of campaigning and the post election parties. i feel like i've been in a dream and i've got to wake up now and get back to reality. reality though is that i've made some new cherished friends and i've been a part of something wonderful. for these two simple reasons, i feel so blessed for the opportunity that came into my life.


hope wins

i feel at a loss for words today. i was up all night till 6:30 a.m. watching history live. never before in my life have i taken an interest in politics as much as this season {2004 was the first time ever i voted} and i credit it to obama. i think once in a generation someone comes around like this and i feel so grateful that i've been a part of history. although i did less than many, i campaigned for nearly 12-13 hours for him here in london. i feel like this win, i somehow helped bring in a very small way and for that i'll never forget it for the rest of my life.

it really feels like a global win. people across london, europe and the world feel like its their win too. i had british friends call me very early and say they burst into tears like i did and they didn't even vote. globally-- everyone was so tired of the last 8 years and know what the win of the first african american president means to not only our nations history but how it speaks that yes america still is the land of possibilities and democracy.

i know that once the parties die down {heck, i have two to go to just this week!} and reality sets in that obama will face huge challenges. i don't envy the huge wave of expectation on his shoulders. but i feel confident that he will do only his best what he knows is right in his heart. i know also that it will take work on our part and that change will have to come from each one of us too. but i have faith that in the midst of huge obstacles that hope not fear will push us forward.

'yes we can'



image source

vote for the future of our country
vote hope
vote for 'true' change
vote because america deserves better
vote because the last 8 years have been a mess
vote because you have the right
you have a voice
your voice can change the world
vote because you want a better country
not just for small town america, but everyone
vote because you want your children
to have parks, wildlife when they get our age
vote because you want love
of everyone no matter what race, gender, religion or sexual orientation
vote because you're tired of america being hated in the world
because you want it to be the best country
vote against fear, against policies that haven't worked
against VP picks that demoralize women
against the lies spread just to get elected
vote because its about you & your future

vote for change

vote obama.


halloween martha style

image source

in the last few years i've explored martha stewarts website more. i think it comes with getting older and because i'm a girl i feel like i should at least attempt at doing the homemaker thing {even though i'm not a 'wife' still & i'm childless}. martha epitomizes this ideal plus i adore her creativity. i have to admit though i don't know sometimes how people can have the time or the patience to do some of her suggestions.

yes halloween is celebrated here but not on the scale it is in america {although its really growing every year}. for some in mainland europe halloween is merely an excuse to party before the religious holiday 'all saints day'. i remember one halloween i was in florence, italy by myself seeing little italian kids all dressed up trick or treating next to the pont d'vecchio bridge. everything was closed the next day much to my annoyance as it was my only day i was going to see the town of pisa. it was still gloriously fun. in england over the years, i've seen more and more children taking an interest in this holiday having parties and dressing up. treats like bat shaped nacho chips and costumes are turning up in stores too. its been great for me to see because it takes the edge off of my homesickness. believe it or not--i do miss little things like passing out treats to random strangers and gorging on sugar laden candies.

so-----this year we've decided to actually celebrate and throw a little party. sure it will just be a party of 'two', but we're planning on getting the old sia halloween decorations out, renting some classic spooky movies like 'the birds' or 'the creature from the blue lagoon' and enjoying some lovely food with a bit of help from martha. here's what's on the menu for tomorrow night:

chicken enchiladas
corn chips, salsa & guacamole
devilish eggs
hummus topped w/olive oil & cumin & toasted warm pitta bread
toffee popcorn for the movie
evil pumpkin swirl brownies {i'm on a chocolate & brownie craze if you can't tell}

i don't think i'll do the pumpkin carving thing this year as i don't have the patience and i'd much rather keep my pumpkins to 'eat' them. although i admire the artwork that goes into jack-o-lanterns {hello the above picture}, to me it just seems weird playing with your food.

have a very happy & warm day tomorrow.


less than a week

don't listen to the polls
don't get complacent or lazy

with less than a week
don't loose your voice

your opportunity for change

don't forget to vote!


october plenty

the english sure love their traditions. yesterday in the pouring rain we went to 'october plenty' . its an autumn harvest celebration held every year around shakespeare's globe & borough market. its a mixture of ancient seasonal customs & theatre with a contemporary twist and its free to the public. this year it was held in conjunction with borough markets, 'apple day'.

it started off with a processional, featuring peddlers {selling things from the 'harvest'--but they were mostly selling programs and cookies}, musicians, play horses and dancers and people in costumes representing the animals. Here are pictures of the berry man and the corn queen.

we then moved inside shakespeare's globe theatre {which is currently under construction, but still cool anyway}, where they entertained us with singing and a quick taster of one of chaucer's canterbury tales {i've seen his original hard copy at an exhibition}. it was wet and cold, but still a delight:

we then followed the processional to borough market through the streets, where they continued their performances next to the stalls. the stalls had their usual fayre, but most were selling things 'apple' related. there was even apple bobbing:

we managed to warm our spirits at the end with a cup of warm apple cider. To remember our day, we also bought some fresh english apples and a glorious apple pie to take home with us.

that said the apple pie is over half gone already. we bought some free range lamb pot pies from the market too and had them with mash for an early dinner. we had a glorious piece of warm pie for desert with a great big dollop of organic vanilla ice cream on top. a perfect meal for a wet and cold autumn day especially after such a glorious celebration of the harvest season.