Sunday, December 05, 2010

In Which We Go to England: The Stuff Edition

I know, I know, we've been home for a while now (*sigh), but I've been planning on doing this post for months now. My skills of procrastination are mighty indeed of late. ANYway, we came back from England with a lot of stuff. Really cool stuff. And since most of it is, naturally, in our house and you can't all come to our house just to see our new magnets, I will show them to you this-a way.

Like I said, we got new magnets. They are pretty awesome. You can probably guess where we got two of them.
The sheep one we found up in Windermere, where apparently their sheep (and byproducts) are a big deal. It just seemed appropriate to get something cheesy for our wedding anniversary celebration.

We got this delightful Christmas tree ornament at Westminster Abbey. It was the ONLY ornament we found like this in all of our travels--most were felt-y and puffy and big. This one is so charming and wintery and yet also Londony.
We saw lots of shows, as you know, and we got the programs at every one. Aren't they pretty?We also got books. Lots of books. Seriously, a lot of books. But I didn't take any pictures. So just IMAGINE a beautiful pile of books from pretty much every place we went, along with a boxed set of the adult edition Harry Potter paperbacks (you knew that was going to happen). I also got these books.Okay, so I haven't made anything from them, but I WILL. Soon. I also got those measuring things so I wouldn't have to convert all the recipes--I will say that was a stroke of genius. Go me. Oh, and we got these other food-related items--salt and pepper shakers! Aren't they the best? I'm already dreading the day some ruffian child o' mine breaks them. (Yes, those are tiny Pirates of the Caribbean figurines you see in the pictures.)

I love to buy postcards of my favorite things from a museum. We went to a lot of museums so...I got a lot of postcards. These are another thing that I hope to be able to display at SOME point in life. For some reason, they don't look like very many in this pictures but trust me, it's a fat stack.
I also kept all the maps, guides and brochures we picked up along the way. These were the source of my totally awesome magnets, as you may recall.Oh, and we got this cool thing too. The tiniest Stonehenge of them all!In other stuff news, we brought quite a lot with us, and some of them didn't make it through the whole trip unscathed.You might think that we would have left these items there and gained a little extra suitcase room, but no, we brought them all back. We didn't even stop using them. In fact, we didn't even repair them, aside from the glasses (which have since mysteriously disappeared). That's just how we roll. I guess?

Of course we got other things as well, like shirts from Oxford, hats from various shops, scarves and an umbrella. It's always a delight to go through the day and run into these little reminders of our trip. It's so nice that we could not just go, but also have the money to bring back these little mementos. Thanks, work!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In Which I Draw Conclusions

(Originally I was going to try to cram this into a Facebook status.)

Tonight Mr. Graham and I went to see a one-night showing of the recent Les Miserables 25th Anniversary concert. It was three hours and $15 a pop, but it turned out to be well, well worth the cost and time.* During these three hours I compiled the following list of conclusions:
  • It IS possible for "Bring Him Home"--one of my least favorite songs in the world--to sound like it is being sung by a man. Thank you, Alfie Boe, for singing like a man.
  • While I can give Nick Jonas some credit for being involved with something that is not a Disney Channel byproduct, for an event on this scale, he just didn't have the (Marius) goods. That said, he didn't embarrass himself, but he did sound comparatively underwhelming.
  • Lea Salonga as Fantine is just as good as Lea Salonga as Eponine. (She *may* have made someone that is not me cry...)
  • Ramiiiiiiiiiin! It was nice to see him in a show that is good and stuff. His inclusion as Enchiladas ("Enjolras," says Mr. Graham) was 50% of my motivation for seeing it in the first place. I want to turn him into an iPod and put him in my pocket.
  • Oh my, Michael Ball is not as young as he once was, though his hair looks exactly the same.
  • I enjoy Les Mis probably 40-50% more as a concert. Granted, I have seen most of the 10th anniversary concert many times, and on stage only once. However! I think the show itself is kind of fundamentally flawed in its characters and storytelling, but it works better when you can see people's faces well and identify all the characters better. For whatever reason, probably because some minor things are cut, the story seems much more focused in concert versions.
  • I find it frustrating that even though I only really, really like about 1/3 of the songs I still find the whole thing so very spirited and rousing. It puts me at odds with myself. When the original 1985 cast came out at the end I was ready to squeal like a little girl.
  • Why don't they do concerts for any other big shows? How has ALW not been all over this for years?
Anyway, it was a good time, and it was really fun to see a lot of the cast members that we saw live this summer. We even spotted that most dreaded Marius--he who makes Nick Jonas look good, or at least better.

*As a sidenote, we were finishing up our Harry Potter movie-a-night marathon and had to watched the first hour, go to the show and then finish it after. Last night we had to interrupt Order of the Phoenix with a rather lackluster local production of The Scarlet Pimpernel...bad French accents were ever-y-whare.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

In Which Dinner is in a Pumpkin

On Sunday, the very day of Halloween, we had our second dinner in a pumpkin and it turned out great. And this year we had a couple of friends over to help us eat it so now there is slightly less for us to eat as leftovers all week. A lot of people that we have mentioned this dinner to have been kind of perplexed and interested in it so I thought I would explain the process here.

My first dinner in a pumpkin was made by my then roommate, Comrade Cox in 2008. Last year I decided to try it myself since it seemed pretty straight forward. And when I say "seemed" I mean "is." So, here is the process.

You buy yourself a pumpkin. You don't want a gigantic pumpkin because it has to cook and also it has to fit in the oven. I have had good luck with a nice mid-sized pumpkin that is more tall than it is wide. You clean it out all nice, and put the seeds aside for baking later--or for just sitting on the counter, like I'm doing this year.

So then you need to fill it! I follow Comrade Cox's recipe, which is as follows:
-Sausage: one of those Jimmy Dean kinds of sausage that comes in the fat tube.
-6 cups of cooked rice
-1 can of cream of mushroom soup
-1 can of cream of chicken soup
-1/2 cup soy sauce
-1 small onion, all chopped up
-A few stalks of celery, all chopped up. You want about as much celery as you have onion, unless you really like celery. Or onion.

All you do is cook the sausage with the vegetables until it's done, mix in everything else and then put it in the pumpkin! If the pumpkin doesn't quite hold it all (you want some space), everything is cooked so you can just eat it on its own. There is NO waste, Siegfried
!*Put the lid back on the pumpkin, put the whole thing on a baking sheet and stick it in a 375 degree oven for 2 hours.
My pumpkins have not needed quite 2 hours, more like 1 and 45 minutes or so. Anyway, whenever it is done, you get a strong man to get it out of the oven for you.Then you just dish it out, scraping out pumpkin with the other stuff, and you eat, eat, eat until you can eat no more! And when you can't eat anymore, you dig everything out and throw what's left of the pumpkin away. Food doesn't get more seasonal than this!

*That one's for you, Marcue...can you place the reference?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

In Which I Follow Through

We did it! Just like I said we would!
(I call this my KStew face.)

At the trunk or treat only one person knew who we were, but at another party Drew was the biggest hit of the night. Naturally, no one recognized me on my own, hah. Doesn't Mr. Graham just look so great? He totally pulled it off.

In case you're curious about the details, we ordered his shirt off Amazon, found the (Darth Vader) gloves at a Halloween store, the pants at DI and borrowed the boots. My costume was all my own stuff except a $1 shirt from DI and a clip board. By the end of the night I even had two signatures (Billy and Phil)! Naturally, it was more expensive than sticking to our traditional stuff, but it was fun to be something new and unexpected (though we did run as Harry and Hermione in a 5K this morning, as well at work on Friday). Now I'm just trying to think of other occasions to wear them...
(Have you seen it yet?)

Sunday, October 17, 2010


When did I become such a lazy blogger? I have no shortage of things to blog about, but I just never seem to get to doing it these days. Well, today I am doing it. Maybe it is a sign of things to come.

So, I like to go running. It is delicious. It's good for me. It's the perfect way to start the day. But I have this trouble with getting out of bed. In fact, more often than not I just stay in the bed. Yeah, I could run after work, but that involves two showers a day and dinner at 8:00. So morning is the time, but morning is for sleeping! But like I said, I like to go running and I know it's good for me, especially since I sit at a desk all the day long. But how ever am I to motivate myself?

The answer came to me last week: I must treat myself as a small child! When willpower won't work, one must turn to the time-honored system of a reward chart. But I wanted to make a cool chart, and I remembered Elise's magnet project. I am occasionally crafty so I decided to make cool magnets for my chart. I gathered the necessaries and pondered what pictures to use. For a while I thought I would make dumb magnets with different celebrity faces because the only magazines we have are Entertainment Weekly. Maybe if one of the issues had pictures of everyone from Battlestar in it that would work, but I would have had to settle for Miley Cyrus and the cast of Glee. No thanks.

But I had another moment of genius! We happen to have a stack of pamphlets, guides and brochures from London sitting on our floor, and they are bursting with tiny cool pictures. So I got out the duplicates and cut them up and 8 really cool magnets were born. Thanks, brain.

As I mentioned, my chart includes rewards also because nothing motivates me like getting stuff. I didn't want to make it fancy though or involve much money so my list of rewards are things like a pumpkin shake and getting to pick the movie on Friday night. So, week one of my chart plan has passed. Did it work?
Okay, so Mr. Graham still has to drag me out of bed (usually by the ankles), but now I am kind of willing and don't try to dissuade him with sleeping-in snuggles. Hurrah! Yes, I did make a Love Never Dies magnet--it was the perfect size!

On a totally unrelated note: yesterday we went to Walmart where they had this photo spot set up for How to Train Your Dragon. You could even get a free 5x7 print of your picture. Doesn't Mr. Graham make such a great Hiccup? Maybe next year we'll be Hiccup and Astrid for Halloween.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

In Which We Go to England: Part 8

Okay, so this final installment is a little overdue. We came home to a flurry of activity and perhaps I was a little loathe to admit to the end of our glorious trip. There were a lot of emotions involved in this trip but now that all is said and done, mostly I am still just a bit sad that it's all over. But! Let us not dwell on what is passed in a sad way. Instead I will sum up our last week.

Our last weekend, as you may recall, involved a number of museums and had Mr. Graham coming down with a cold. We started out the next week with him getting over his cold (as he always does so speedily), and then with me picking it up a day later. It wasn't the best timing, but if you're going to have a cold, better to have one in London. Right? Something like that. So, the list:
  • Monday was a bank holiday so there was no work for me. Mr. Graham worked the morning away and then we spent the afternoon at St. Paul's Cathedral. Naturally it was extremely large and impressive and beautiful. We also took the stairs up to the Whispering Gallery which was fun, but, despite our best efforts, we were unable to achieve the infamous effect. We then took the stairs up to the Stone Gallery, which provides a pretty great view of London.
  • From the Stone Gallery we continued on up to the Golden Gallery. It had a pretty nice view and luckily, unlike the rest of St. Paul's, you can take all the pictures you want! And even luckier, it was a lovely sunny day. From the top we went all the way down to the crypt to see the famous tombs of Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington, as well as those of JM Turner, William Blake, Joshua Reynolds, Edwin Landseer and so on and so forth. We even found a bust of George Washington tucked away in the corner. On the whole, like so many other pricey spots in London, it was totally worth the time and money, and we were glad we made it there at last.
  • On the way home we did our best to check out the famous Notting Hill Carnival. We got there in time to see a parade, surrounded by massive amounts of people. We didn't get very far--the music was so loud and the crowds were so tights. So we gave up on the unknown potential delights and went home for more ice cream and Cloverfield on tv.
  • The next day as Mr. Graham was feeling so much better, I started feeling so much worse, just in time for our trip to the Globe Theatre to see A Comedy of Errors written by a fellow named Shakespeare. Coworker Caity had a seat but we were in the standing yard for the common folk. Aside from my drippy, snotty nose and general weariness, it was a great time and the show was very creative and well done. Not to mention the accents were ever so authentic.
  • Wednesday was the worst sick day so after a long day at work and then dragging myself back home, I stayed there. Mr. Graham was kind enough to not resent me for keeping us at home on our second to last night, and took care of me instead.
  • Thursday was our last night! Caity and I made a half day of it, and left the Society for the last time. It was sad to leave our English friends behind, including the ninja bunnies in the courtyard. We packed for a while and then all set off for a last night of English larks. We checked out Abbey Road, which was surprisingly close to our previous lodgings, and then found some dinner a traditional English place. We did a lot of fond reminiscing over our delicious English foods (seriously, English food is good. Really good.).
  • Friday morning started early. We finished packing up and took a taxi back to the airport. It was a pretty painless process--aside from the fact that the airline had deleted Mr. Graham's flight reservation. Oops. They got it sorted out in a few minutes and off we went. We looked longingly down at the land as we flew away and got a good look at Ireland as we went. I won't bore you with the details of our less comfortable planes, the mishaps at Chicago security or the poor entertainment choices. In the end we arrived safe, sound and very tired. It was sad to finally part company with Caity, who will forever be our London friend. We took a last picture of our jet-lagged and worn out selves and went our ways.
And that was London. I feel like London and I truly bonded. I sweat buckets on its Tube, I tripped on its sidewalks, I rubbed my bare feet upon its famous tombs. I sneezed and coughed on it, and I even vomited on it. I saw all of its delights that I could and I loved it so.

Now it is over and done with. But never fear, you haven't seen the last of the London posts.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

In Which We Go to America

Just a little note to commemorate our very recent return...

(Also, "Fri"?)

Monday, August 30, 2010

In Which We Go to England: Part 7

We're now starting our final week here! This past weekend was our last, and I have started bidding things farewell as we leave them. Things are winding up, and as such, we have been busily cramming in all that we can before leaving. It will be nice on our next trip here (whenever that is) to not have our sightseeing time limited by a work schedule, but heck, we can't complain. We saw so many things this week! I will describe them to you now with words and pictures and maybe an emoticon or two.
  • We went, at last, to the British Library. Despite its modern facade, there were many impressive old things inside that, naturally, one cannot take pictures of. But we did see many original manuscripts of things like Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Alice in Wonderland and Jane Eyre. We also saw Jane Austen's writing desk, Handel's Messiah and the Magna Carta. All of these things reaffirmed my belief that most penmanship these days is pretty wretched.
  • On Wednesday we made our final foray into the theatre district to see Starlight Express. Unfortunately we were about 8 years late so we saw Wicked instead. There was a brief kerfuffle at the ticket pickup when the (always)* crabby attendant refused to accept Mr. Graham's signature as genuine, despite the fact that he has one of the most consistent signatures I've ever seen. Apparently she just wanted to make extra sure it was really Mr. Graham and not his Wicked-loving evil twin. No, really. That was the reason. ANYway, so we went to the show and it was all spectacular and the cast was good. The show itself has too many girls and too many belty girl songs for me and my ears, but Mr. Graham had a great time. It did make the effects of Phantom and Les Mis look even more dated by comparison.
  • On Thursday all three of us travelers went to the British Museum. Caity hadn't been yet, and it was a much more pleasant experience this time for us. No crowds, no sweltering heat, huzzah! This time we went upstairs and saw the rest of the Egyptian collection as well as the Anglo-Saxon things. We saw the Mildenhall Treasure, which I was pretty excited about since I recently read about it in Roald Dahl's The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More.** I was also excited to see the Sutton Hoo objects. I'm pretty sure I wrote a paper about Sutton Hoo, but for the life of me I cannot remember what it was about. I definitely remember writing a paper about this though: It was a pretty bad paper, but it was also my last and I just wanted to graduate (sorry, Dr. Finlayson, that you had to read it).
  • Friday we made another trip to the National Gallery because it was one of the few places that I really, really wanted to see again. We stayed for a few hours and I bought more postcards. When we got home we watched the last two episodes of the latest IT Crowd season, and one episode was like XD and the other was like o.O
  • Saturday started with a run and the progressed into running about from one place to another. We went to see the Marble Arch at Hyde Park, along with the giant horsehead, before going for lunch at the Orangery. Mr. Graham got the Ploughman, which we understood to be a sandwich, but we were a little bewildered as to how it all went together. We must have been feeling extravagant because we got dessert too. I got the lemon crunch cake because I was imagining candied lemon peel and some delectable frosting. Alas, it was simply pound cake with a sugar sort of topping. Mr. Graham had better luck with the Orangery cake.
  • After the Orangery, we went to Hampstead Heath, which is basically a large, wild sort of park. We tromped up and down hills and wandered through many little woodlands and felt pleasantly isolated. On the way home we stopped at Wagamama for dinner, but both agreed it was overpriced and not particularly amazing. What WAS amazing though was the most recent episode of Project Runway which we watched later. It was possibly the greatest runway judging I have seen on that show.
  • Our Sunday plans were up in the air for a long while because we couldn't decide on going to Yorkshire or not. In the end we decided not to go because the amount of train time and cost required were pretty high for the amount of time we'd be able to spend there. Next time, York, next time. Instead we hit three museums: the science museum, the natural history museum and the Tate Britain. The Science Museum was mostly a snooze, but we did check out the IMAX Deep Sea movie. I was hoping it would be a domed IMAX screen because those are the best, but it was just a bit curved. I told Mr. Graham that we will go to the St. Louis Science Center over Christmas and he will see just how cool a science museum can be (so cool)! We did have fun in the veterinary history exhibit, which was the size of a small bedroom and probably hasn't changed in 15 years.
  • The natural history museum was much more entertaining with its collections of dead creatures. The real winner of the day was the Tate Britain. It was much smaller than the National Gallery, but it was a pleasant smallness. They had a great collection that included some really lovely Pre-Raphaelite paintings, among them one of my least favorite paintings in the world, The Awakening Conscience: Blargh.
And that was our week. It was much more hustle and bustle than usual, but it was very satisfying to cross off so many things on our to-do list. This week will involve packing and sorting, but it will also include standing for Shakespeare in the Globe Theatre and more ice cream. Huzzah!

*I can say always because we have encountered her several times, and she is always sulky and unhelpful (not to mention suspicious of signatures).
**I love to recommend a few stories in this book, though there are several that I am ho-hum about and one that kind of makes me recoil. The non-fiction ones are the best: Lucky Break, A Piece of Cake and The Mildenhall Treasure. Even
(or maybe especially) if you don't like Roald Dahl, you should read those because they're quite fascinating.