10/31/2012

So What Wednesday...Halloween Edition!

So What Wednesday
Happy Halloween
On this spooktacular Wednesday I'm linking up with Shannon to  say a big fat SO WHAT! if...
  • Today is Halloween and I STILL haven't carved my pumpkins. They're sitting neglected by the window sill, perfectly plump, round and albeit beautiful - completely naked of any fancy designed or toothy grins. How very lame.
  • This year, unlike every other year, I've abandoned the Halloween hoopla (which totally makes me sad). I didn't decorate my house (mostly because we've been staying with my in-laws until we land in VT next week), I didn't make my famous 'dirt cake', I didn't watch Hocus Pocus, I haven't purchased or created a Halloween costume and - most shockingly - I haven't even attended let alone hosted a Halloween party this year (friends who know me well know I love to put on a good Halloween Party). I feel like such a big fat Scrooge! 
  • I LOVE (and I mean LOVE) candy corn! More specifically, I LOVE the candy corn pumpkins. And yes, before you candy corn activists get on your soap boxes and preach to me about food coloring's and corn syrup and rotting teeth...I know. I know they're nothing but little balls of chemicals and sugars. But do you think that prevents me from enjoying a big fat handful (or 5) once a year? Hell no it doesn't. Candy corn, I salute you. 
  • As a child I hated when the cute little old ladies opened the door during trick-or-treat time because that always meant you were in for either a popcorn ball or perfectly round apple. Don't they know that kids want the teeth rotting stuff?
  • As soon as my sister and I got home from our trick-or-treating adventures, Dad would scoop up our pumpkins full of candy and dump them on the living room floor. "You can't eat anything until I go through it all and make sure there aren't any needles or wrappers that are already open." he'd say as he rummaged through the massive sugar pile. It never dawned on me until I got older that he was a big fat liar. Dad wasn't checking for needles or open wrappers, he was eating and stashing away all of our Snickers bars and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. What a wise man. I totally intend to do this to my children too. Ha!
  • ...these next four So What's aren't at all related to Halloween, but I need to get them out so let's all pretend they are. Mmk? Mmk.
  • I had every intention of beginning my 5k-10k training this week, but (due to packing and goodbye dates with friends) I haven't run once since Sunday. Gah! I feel fat and lazy. Hopefully I can start my 10k training next week when I'm back in VT. Until then, I'm looking forward to a nice calories-be-gone-long run tomorrow. 
  • After wanting to for years, I finally watched The Bucket List with Carl on Monday evening. It was good. So good that when I ventured to the bathroom mirror after the film I was astonished to see I looked like a prostitute caught in a rain storm. Mascara EVERYWHERE, people. Proof of a good flick. I highly recommend. 
  • My eyes were glued to the screen on Monday evening in an attempt to gauge how badly I should freak out for my friends and family in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Vermont. It was at the very moment of this photo that I lost all respect for CNN and felt I need to document how stupid they are.  I mean come on people. "VE?" What the hell is VE? Did you mean VT, you stupid shits? Because VT is the correct abbreviation for Vermont. MY STATE! Yes, we're small in comparison to Texas, or California, but don't brush us aside with your crappy spelling errors! Get your shit together and learn your state abbreviations you load of numpties! How can you claim to be a credible news channel when you clearly need to revise your Elementary level geography again! 
  • I ranted about the VE thing for a good half an hour to my husband...who just laughed irritatingly and uncontrollably. I then posted it on Facebook where one of my friends suggested I send it to the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Haha! I just may if it's worth a shot to see dance with the one and only Ellen!
  • I have the urge to crank the radio and bust a move to Michael Jackson's Thriller. Only I don't because I can't risk twisting my ankle or breaking my hip.
What are you saying SO WHAT to this fine Halloween day?
Lots of love, love, love,

10/30/2012

Bags coming out of my ears

Yesterday was a day devoted entirely to packing. From the time Carl and I woke up in the morning until the time we sat down for dinner we were consumed in big bags, little bags, garbage bags, zip-lock bags, bubble wrap, styr0foam, packing tape and numerous thoughts along the lines of: "how the hell have we acquired so much shit over the past 4 years?" 
And yes, throughout this whole packing process I've come to the realization that I am in fact one of those girls who owns far too many pairs of shoes (and scarves, and necklaces, and candle holders). But in my pathetic defense, Carl's  CD/record collection was strikingly similar to Macy Grays hair in that it too was out of control. So together, armed with giant garbage bags and totes for charity shops, we purged many of our worldly possessions in order to meet the 7 bag (and 1 guitar case) baggage limit we must comply by for our flights home on Monday. 

And after 7 straight hours of sorting/reminiscing /chucking/and swearing, I am proud to announce that the space underneath our bed is now entirely free of totes, the wardrobe is mostly empty and about 75% of our lives are packed, wrapped and stacked in neat piles or suitcases. Although we still need to put together the massive 7 bag jigsaw puzzle that is a direct result of weight restrictions, we are now in the final stretch of this packing fiasco.  Our T's our crossed, we're just waiting to dot the I's. And for the first time in a week I was able to sleep through the night without waking at ungodly hours to compose OCD fueled packing lists in my mind. It was marvelous.
But as I sit here rambling about shoes and suitcases and packing tape it's finally starting to dawn on me that we have just 5 days left in England. 5 days left with our friends and family. 5 days left to say goodbye and soak in all that we'll miss so much. 5 days left before the next  chapter. Just 5 days. 

The only word I can think of to truly express my feelings?
Bittersweet 
Lots of love, love, love,

10/28/2012

Weekend Wind Down: C25K Completion, Lots of Goodbye's and Scones in Chester

As you can imagine, the past couple of days have been manic. While I spent the majority of last week saying heartfelt goodbye's to good friends (this trend will continue to carry on throughout our last week), I did manage to bake a cake order for a sweet old woman (who turned 105!!), organize a couple of clothes piles ready for Monday morning packing, complete graduate from my C25K program (yay!), watch Mr. Poppers Penguins with Carl, enjoy one last girly day out in Chester with my MIL, eat my final jam and clotted cream scone, purchase (on sale! Boom!) my very own Downton Abbey-Lady-Mary-esque-dress for mine and Carl's homecoming party in a few weeks (pictures to come soon), stalk the Weather Channel's Live Hurricane Sandy Feed and devour not 1, not 2, but 3 bowls of soup. 

All in all, it was productive, enjoyable and g0-g0-go kinda weekend. 

Friday morning Carl, Lynne, Garry and I woke early and headed out the door dressed entirely in black as a sign of respect for Carl's best friend Rob's mum, Gill, who passed away from cancer on the 17th. As I sat in Gill's funeral service I smiled as friends spoke of her love for fancy dress costumes and annual family holiday's to Turkey. I also felt my throat burn as I tried desperately not to cry when the room echoed with Gill's mums uncontrollable sobs for the loss of her daughter. After the service I offered my condolences to Rob in the form of hugs and kisses and couldn't help but feel guilty that Carl and I are leaving at a time when he needs his best friend most. But Rob reassured us all, once again, of his strength and bravery with his ability to smile at such a sad time. It also gives me comfort to know that both Rob's Mum and Dad are together again, no longer suffering and in heaven, looking down proudly on their son. A man who is one of the strongest people I know, and although the sadness and loss he must feel at this time is daunting and overwhelming, he continues to smile and look forward to the future. And while it breaks Carl's heart to know he'll be so far away from his best friend, I have every faith that, regardless of the distance, their friendship will stay as strong as ever. Their idiotic inside jokes that only they understand will continue to thrive. Their love of Battlefield and Radiohead and meat covered pizza's sprinkled with sweet corn will never die. Their childhood stories, like the time Rob passed out after a drunken old guy kicked a football that hit him in the head soon after his operation, will still crop up from time to time and issue endless laughter. Regardless of the Atlantic Ocean, they'll still be two peas in a pod, Bevis and Butthead, Dumb and Dumber...best mates. Bobert already has plans to visit us in Vermont in April, and I'll look forward to seeing him again as the best man (for a second time) at our Vermont wedding next October. 

I spent the remainder of Friday afternoon completing a cake order for a woman who's sister is turning 105. Yes, you read that correctly, 105!! The little old woman was a long-time customer at a local bakery called Satterthwaites where my mother-in-law worked prior to it closing on the 13th of October (after over 100 years of business). She'd always got her cakes from Satterthwaites and was in an awful frenzy worrying about where she'd be able to find a nice cake for her sisters birthday this year. Thankfully I was able to help, and although her requests were simple (just ribbon and piping - no fondant ballet slippers and pearls on this cake!) I did get the opportunity to learn and practice my fondant rose making techniques. For a first attempt, I don't think they turned out too shabby! And more importantly, the customer and her 105 year old sister were very pleased :)
Saturday morning was my big running day - Week 9 Day 3 of my C25K training - the final run before I could officially call myself a "Couch-to-5k graduate." And as I laced up my Nike's that morning I felt good. I was excited, full of energy and oozing enthusiasm. There was no fear as I pulled my hair up into what some might constitute a pony tail (it's approximately 1.5 inches long and because it's so small looks like one of those half-assed lame pony tails found on the heads of butchered Barbies in the homes of scissor happy little girls around the world) and made my way to the coffee table in the living room where my beloved banana's live in a brown wicker basket. It was then that my heart sank and from no where the evil dun dun duuuunnnnn sound boomed.  The Anderson household was banana-less people, and that could only mean one thing - a disastrous cramp-filled run was ahead. After 10 weeks of running I know my body well and I know what it needs in order to produce a stellar run: plenty of fiber in my diet, a good nights sleep, hydration, a kick-ass running playlist, good supportive running shoes, and nothing more than a banana in my tummy prior to my run. If I frig with anything on that list I can guarantee you shit will hit the fan, my friends. So, I'm sure you can imagine my horror when the imperative banana was awol. But as it was my last day, I was stubborn and determined not to let one phallic yellow fruit destroy my C25k happiness.And so on that fateful morning I ventured out the door with all but one 1 tick on my checklist - praying for the best.   

For the first 2.5 miles all of that praying paid off and I was thanking my lucky stars I got away with abandoning my banana. I ran at a 9:27 pace, I wasn't at all winded, my legs were as light as air, and I had Florence and the Machine encouraging me to run fast for my mother, father, children, sister and brothers. It was wonderful and as I turned onto the golden tree lined Victoria Street for the last leg of my run I arrogantly smiled to myself thinking "you got this shit, girl! Let's Forrest Gump the rest of this thing!" But then it all went wrong. The absence of my beloved banana was frantically gobbling up any and all of my confidence and spitting it back out in the form of sudden throbbing pain in my right abdomen. With each step the pain grew stronger and stronger, and within 30 seconds I was doubled over on the sidewalk wondering if one of my lungs had collapsed or if I'd been mysteriously shot by a sniper hiding in the trees. And although I swore like a sailor, cried from frustration and disappointment and walked 75% of the remainder of my run, I still finished. The truth is that it wasn't by any standards a run I'd brag about, I know I'm capable of so much better, the fact of the matter is that I still did it. That bananaless, cramp-ridden run signified a massive personal goal and running achievement of mine. One that for so long I only dreamed of happening. On Saturday I, the big-boobed girl who always hated to run, completed the C25k program - cramps and all - and in doing so discovered a whole new passion. I've become one of those mad bastards you see running down the side of the road in the peeing down rain and wind. I wake up on my weekends and look forward to lacing up my running shoes. I read running magazines and get excited about future races in VT and use my Endomondo App more than my Twitter one. Ladies and gentlemen, I've become a runner. Man, does it feel good.


Monday this chica is starting the 5k-10k training plan.  Bring it on!
Sunday morning Carl had a date with his buddy Loll to go to his final football (soccer) match - a derby between Liverpool FC (boo!) and our boys in blue, Everton (two local Liverpool football clubs). As the boys were out for the day Lynne invited me to accompany her on a final girly day out in Chester. 
Chester is one of my all time favorite places in England and it was wonderful to spend all of yesterday there with Lynne. We window shopped from store to store (stopping in one to buy my previously mentioned Lady Mary-esque dress) until we eventually made our way to Katie's Tea Room (a favorite of ours). Between constant girly chat we enjoyed a nice light lunch (I had broccoli and Stilton soup - it was to DIE FOR!) endless cups of tea and, or course, a massive warm homemade fruit scone each smothered in none other than British butter, raspberry jam and Cornish clotted cream. They were absolutely heavenly (scones are one of my all time favorite things about England) and it was a perfect meal to signify my final visit to Chester. 

On our way back to the train station we quickly popped into Starbucks in order to satisfy our Pumpkin Spice Latte cravings, and discussed how lovely it'll be to visit here again next time Carl and I are in England - hopefully with a little one in tow. It was the perfect end to a busy weekend.

10/24/2012

So What Wednesday #15

So What Wednesday
Happy Wednesday love bugs! On this fine hump day I'm linking up with Shannon to  say a big fat SO WHAT! if...
  • As I type this post I'm watching John Edward: Cross Country and crying my eyes out. I pink puffy heart that show. Someday I'd love to take my Mom.
  • The 'C' button on my keyboard keeps sticking. I don't have patience for that shit and I can't help but frantically poke the crap out of the button (while calling it a piece of shit) until it cooperates again.
  • I have nightmares about my student debt. I despise money and the fact that we all need/ rely on it.
  • I woke up this morning and baked Mrs. Pawul's Ice Cream Cookies for a very special girly coffee date I had with my good friend Sarah. Rather than a banana, or whole wheat toast, or yogurt, I ate one of those cookies for breakfast. How very nutritious.  
  • I have an unbelievably obnoxious habit of cracking my knuckles and I just can't stop. It's physically impossible.
  • I can't eat bacon anymore without drenching it in real maple syrup. I'm obsessed. 
  • I've watched Christmas With The Kranks for 3 weeks in a row now. BOOM! 61 days til Santa comes! 
  • I cried this morning (disclaimer: due to the upcoming big move I'm emotionally unstable - hence the constant crying) when I saw one of my Vermont Facebook pages upload this photo of the snow on Mt. Mansfield. I can't believe that after 4 1/2 years away I'm going home. HOME! In just 12 short days Carl and I will finally be where we belong and can start our next chapter. There truly are no words to express the pure happiness and excitement I feel tingling through my body as I type this. I feel so very blessed to call such a beautiful state my home. A state that I'll be lucky enough to raise my own children in and share with my husband. 
  • Halloween is in a week and I still haven't carved my pumpkins I bought two weeks ago.
  • The thought of eating calamari makes me gag. Who in their right effin mind willingly eats TENTACLES! Dirty dirty dirty.
  • ...while typing the word tentacles on the last bullet point spell check changed it to testicles and I've spent the last 5 minutes laughing hysterically. Can you imagine if I hadn't caught that? "Who in their right effin mind willingly eats TESTICLES? Dirty dirty dirty." Baaaahahaha!
  • I hate all animal print clothes/fabrics/furniture. They remind me of Vivian's prostitute friend Kit in Pretty Woman.
  • I flush public toilets with my foot so that I don't have to touch the germ ridden handle.
  • I'm in my mid 20s yet my favorite movies are still the classics made by Disney.
What are you saying so what to this week?
Lots of love, love, love,


10/22/2012

I don't need extravagance and excitement

Happy Monday, love bugs!
I feel as though this time every week I find myself saying the same thing: "we didn't really do anything very extravagant or exciting this weekend."  I suppose I feel that way because we haven't been doing anything extravagant or exciting. The truth of it is that Carl and I have been experiencing the lull before our frantic and exciting journey across the pond - the calm before the storm so to speak. A time where money is tight - really tight, stress levels are high and I find myself lying in bed bright eyed at 5am composing "packing-to-do" lists in my mind. Nevertheless, we still manage to enjoy fun and laid back weekends. Weekends like this past one, which consist of wine drinking, cookie baking, grocery shopping, PSL sipping and lots of chit-chatting with friends. Regardless of the fact it was laid back and mostly "uneventful," it was pretty glorious.
On Friday night my mother-in-law and I decided it was the prime time to pop open a bottle of bubbly she'd recently been gifted by a friend. With grace and elegance (obviously, we're ladies don't ya know) we sipped away at pint glasses (stay with me here) filled with ginger ale and wine until the clock struck 2am and we realized we'd spent the previous 6 hours consumed in slurred and emotional heart-to-hearts. The God's honest truth is that I only vaguely remember hugging and kissing Lynne goodnight, stumbling into mine and Carl's bedroom where I stubbed my toe on the side of the bed (and swore) and proceeded to confess my undying love to my sober husband who must have momentarily reconsidered his promise to stick by my (drunken) ass through thick and thin. I don't remember getting into my night clothes, or brushing my teeth, or neatly tucking myself into bed because I did none of the above. Instead, Carl informs me that I passed out face down in my pillow somewhere in between my ramblings about babies and white picket fences and the time he spent brushing his teeth. He entered our bedroom again to find me drooling while cuddling my Starbucks teddy bear named Philippe. I remained that way until I awoke late the following morning with the lingering sour taste of wine in my mouth and a banging headache. For two ladies who don't drink very often I'd say Lynne and I did ourselves proud that night.

On Saturday Carl and I ventured into Formby Village for a mooch around a new local super market that has just opened. I'd had my eye on a cute little pumpkin cookie cutter, I needed baking supplies for an upcoming cake order, and Carl was more than happy to stroll beside me with Led Zeppelin blaring out of his headphones. After a short while we returned home where Carl consumed himself in, yet another, English Premiere League football match and I tied my hair up and proceeded to make sugar cookies with the same Betty Crocker recipe my mother used when I was a child.  
All throughout my cookie adventures my best friend Tasha Whatsapped a consistent flow of pictures from one of our best friend, Audrey's, wedding in North Carolina. Audrey, Tasha, Megan, and I are part of a little group of friends who have been best buddies since the end of Middle School. Audj ended up moving down to North Carolina during the final years of High School and stayed to attended college at JWU. It was there that she met Tim...and as you  can imagine the rest is history. Tasha and Megan were bridesmaids in Audrey's wedding on Saturday and although it broke my heart that the dreaded Atlantic Ocean, yet again, prevented me from being with people I love for a special occasion, I cried and smiled and felt genuine happiness for my Audjinater Tater as Tasha continued to send pictures of our beautiful friend who married her soul mate. Although I wasn't there, I could feel the genuine happiness and love all the way in England. 
Audrey and Tim-Tom, I am so unbelievably happy for both of you. Carl and I wish so badly we could have been there for your special day, but we promise to make it up to you next time you're in VT. I love (and miss) you to the moon and back and I wish you the very best of luck in the future. You both deserve nothing but the best, and each other :) Until I can hug and kiss you both in person, these stupid virtual hugs and kisses will just have to do. Haha
xoxo
~
Sunday I woke up and busted out a successful 4 mile run before heading to Southport for the day. My Carl and two of his best friends, Carl R and Loll, had tickets to see the special premier/ limited showing Led Zeppelin film. And while the boys did their thing, Toni (Carl R's wife) and I had a Pumpkin Spice Latte and girly-chit-chat date at Starbucks. For the entire afternoon we sipped our PSL's, ate our slices of pumpkin spice loaf an carrot cake, and discussed everything from Baby Alfie's arrival, to mine and Carl's wedding in VT next year, to our dream of going to NYC together. After 4 hours of non-stop-yapping we still had time to kill before the boys emerged from the theater, so we slowly strolled around Southport and down the pier. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, the weather was cool and comfortable, and as I looked out across the sparkling Irish Sea I tried my very best to savor every last minute of my time with my English best bud. We discussed how close the time was coming to say our final goodbye and once again I began to feel those pings of sadness that show their ugly face from time to time.  I'm going to miss Toni so much and it kills me that Carl and I won't be here for the birth of little Alfie. But I'm not one to dwell on the negative and instead I'm choosing to focus on how stinkin cute little Alfie will be as he holds his tiny ring bearer pillow at our wedding next year. I truly cannot wait. That Ocean ain't got nothin on us!
These past few weekends have really shown me how I don't need my life to be filled with extravagance and excitement in order to enjoy myself and make memories. Give me good company, good food, perhaps some wine, lots of laughs, wedding photo's of best friends, and lazy strolls down a pier and that'll suit this girl just fine. 

Lots of love, love, love,

10/17/2012

So What Wednesday #14

So What Wednesday
On this cold and damp Wednesday I'm complaining linking up with the lovely Shannon and saying a big fat SO WHAT! if...
  • I can't wait to devour an American pizza again. Don't get me wrong, England has it's own selection of glorious foods (crumpets with Cornish clotted cream, toad in the hole, fish and chips and daim bars are a few of my favs) but their pizza's are downright AWFUL! I have never been so excited to eat a big fat slice of pepperoni, pineapple, spinach, onion and green pepper pizza from my childhood favorite Green Peppers Restaurant in Middlebury, Vermont. That slice will be dunked in fresh buttermilk ranch dressing too. You can bet your ass on it.
  • I nearly gag in my mouth when men grab themselves 24/7. Seriously, guys. Seriously?
  • The older I get the less I enjoy eating meat. 
  • As awful as this sounds, there are some people in this world who I cannot stand simply because of their accent. Point in case: Paddy McGuinness. I want to punch him in the FACE!
  • I love that it's finally getting cold enough to wear Ugg boots and fluffy scarves.
  • My last run was truly traumatic. I stepped on a dead frog, I tripped over a curb and I fell flat on my face in front of an old man cleaning his car. In addition to that, as a remembrance gift for the most embarrassing run I've been on yet, I came home with a rock stuck in my hand and bleeding knees. I'm just praying that shit doesn't air in the near future on the latest episode of Candid Camera
  • I spent this afternoon with 78 adorable little Kindergartners while visiting my final placement school one last time today. The entire visit I was dressed up as and portrayed "Gresmeralda The Good Witch." It was unbelievably fun (we had very detailed conversations about how I have a glow in the cat named Puddle and sprinkle magic gold dust on my broom in order to fly).  The truth of the matter is that I would quite happily dress up in a glittery froofroo witch costume on a daily basis if it wouldn't mean I'm a freak.
  • I ate a Krispy Kreme glazed donut tonight. I loved every single calorific, sugar filled bite! 
  • Whenever I step back into the classroom to teach I'm immediately consumed with baby fever. I love children and I seriously can't wait to be a Momma.
  •  After my Limbo post last week I received so many genuinely beautiful emails and messages from friends. Many of which made me cry. I want to say a huge thank you to those of you who took the time out of your busy day to reach out and let me know that I'm not alone. I appreciated those messages more than you know. xoxo
  • The hubby and I have an obsession with eating the hottest, spiciest foods we can lately.
  • I get choked up when I see old people holding hands while walking down the street.
  • I absolutely love the smell of blown out candles. It always reminds me of my childhood birthday parties.
What are you saying so what to this week?

10/15/2012

Lately...

We've been busier than a one legged man at an ass kickin' contest.
Busy booking our flights home...
On November 5th, we fly from Manchester England to Dublin Ireland where we'll enjoy a 5 hour pit stop. From Ireland we head to Boston where my parents will be greeting us. It all feels so real now that we've got a final date and I find myself twitching at the thought of organizing and cramming our lives into 7 suitcases (and 1 guitar case). Nevertheless I'm beyond excited and trying my best to cope with the occasional tears that well up. It genuinely is the most confusing feeling to say goodbye to one home full of friends and family and hello to another.

We've also been busy crapping our pants and scratching our heads while watching David Blaine specials. Specials which have inspired us me to go full on geektastic and learn to perform some (really bad) magic of my own...
video
We've been busy pissing our britches laughing at the HILARIOUS southern sayings they spew out left right and center on Cajun Pawn Stars...
Many of which I've adopted into my own vocabulary - as you'll have noticed by the opening sentence of this post. Sayings that I now fully intend to bust out on a daily basis too. There's a few which weren't on that clip that made me cry from laughing so hard (eg: I'm nuttier than a potra potty at a peanut festival) so if you're looking for a good laugh and haven't yet watched that show you're seriously missing out. 

We've been busy making homemade dulce de leche (thanks to this awesome and super easy boil-a-can-of-carnation-sweetened-condensed- milk-for-3-hours trick I found on Pinterest). It turned out just as delicious as I'd hoped it would and today I dipped slices of apple in it for a yummy Fall snack.
We've been busy picking out the plumpest roundest pumpkins we could find...
Lately, we've been busy enjoying our last days in the UK. Moving slowly, spending as much time with friends and family as possible and soaking in the damp salty English air that we we'll miss so much this time next month. 

What have you been up to lately?

Happy Monday!
Lots of love, love, love,

10/12/2012

Fitness Fridays: Expressing a deep admiration for C25K and healthy pumpkin breakfasts

TGIF, love bugs! The weekend is nearly here!
Today I'm joining my Twinnie Jen, and taking part in the Fitness Fridays
Now, before I go on any food pumpkin related rants, it's imperative that I take a minute to express my deep gratitude and appreciation for the Couch-to-5k running program. And as you can imagine, deep gratitude and appreciation are something, like trust, that must be earned. I don't just throw those emotions out there on a whim. No sir. But the well designed C25K plan, along with my personal C25K app trainer Billie (who I'm almost positive is really the voice of Jillian Michaels) has truly changed my life. It's the God's honest truth, my friends, that without it I would have never ever - not in a million years - been able to do what I did today. And that is run a full 3.80 miles (that's .70 over a 5k!) at a 9:12 pace without even feeling winded once. I nearly cried when I got home from my run and looked down at my phone to see those figures staring back at me. This is such an achievement and I could not be more proud of myself for staying committed and focused. I'm happier than a man sittin' on a feather sack. I am tickled. (I heard this saying on an episode of Cajun Pawn Stars and pretty much pissed my pants. From then on I've adopted it into my vocabulary, so expect to hear it again very soon). 
During my last Fitness Fridays post  I talked about how I'd discovered the significance of regularly incorporating bananas into my diet. I learned (the hard way, after a pitiful and disheartening couple of runs) that, for me personally, banana's (along with a good mental attitude) really boost my energy and give me the fuel I need to run longer and faster runs. I swear by them and I have a banana for breakfast every single day of the week. But over the past two weeks I've also adopted another staple into my diet which I'm really feeling the benefits of. 

I was introduced to yogurt and grape nuts when I was a little girl by my mother. As a High Schooler, Mom used to work in a local Nursing Home and talked about how she used to feed the elderly residents a bowl of vanilla yogurt with grape nuts mixed in every day for a snack. She introduced this healthy concoction to my sister and I one day and we quickly fell in love ( never realizing it was, in fact, good for us). All throughout my childhood/high school days it was a yummy snack I'd crave and enjoy from time to time. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when a random trip to our local grocery store meant that I accidentally stumbled upon Posts Grape Nuts in the cereal aisle. I was shocked more than anything to find that, for once, England actually had a food I'd loved end enjoyed during my childhood back in the states, and immediately scarfed a box off the shelf. Carl and I had recently discovered a coconut and vanilla fat free yogurt we were fans of, so I stocked up on those and hurried home to enjoy a bowl of Mom's famous Nursing Home hit. And a hit it still was. Since then I've had a banana and bowl of vanilla coconut greek yogurt sprinkled with grape nuts almost every morning for breakfast. Sometimes I'll  get fancy and add strawberries, or peaches or raspberries, but most of the time I enjoy it simple and plain, the way Mom used to make it, and it's always just as delicious as I remember. It's my breakfast of choice and I know it can always be trusted to fuel me for the day ahead and help lead me to a successful run. I highly recommend you give it a go too!
Like many people, I always find that this time of year I'm craving Fall inspired flavors and, as a result, I'm forever searching for some new and innovative way to incorporate my beloved pumpkin into my diet. Enter the always reliable Pinterest and it's endless array of pumpkin recipes. The other week, after pouring a piping hot cup of tea and plunking my ass in front of my laptop, I began scouring the deep dark crevasses of Pinterest where, within a measly 5 minutes, I'd effortlessly stumbled upon not one, but two delicious pumpkin recipes. Both of which incorporated my adored, tried and tested Greek Yogurt, and both of which were healthy. Jackpot!

It doesn't matter the time of the year, I always have been and always will be a big smoothie girl. They're delicious, super easy and extremely nutritious (if, of course, you bypass the 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream or Hershey's syrup). This deep seeded love of smoothies meant that I was immediately drawn to this Pumpkin Pie Smoothie recipe I discovered. A recipe that is simply too amazing (containing absolutely no stick to your ass ingredients) to keep to myself. And so, like the good friend that I am, I'm selflessly sharing it with you now.
1/2 frozen banana
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup plain Greek Yogurt
3/4 cup vanilla almond milk (or vanilla soy milk if you have a nut allergy)
a few shakes of pumpkin pie spice
4-5 ice cubes
Blitz in a blender until smooth and enjoy!

And because I'm a Greek Yogurt lovin' kinda girl, I'll be carrying on the pumpkin yogurt theme with this low-fat Pumpkin Yogurt Crunch recipe. It's full of pumpkin, yogurt, pears and walnuts. I drool thinking about how heavenly it must be and I am desperate to try a cup. I mean look at it? It's practically a freakin' pumpkin trifle! 
There's something oddly satisfying about sniffing out and repinning fabulous recipes on Pinterest. Especially pumpkin-filled-won't-make-your-ass-grow ones that you know you'll absolutely adore. I feel like Aladdin when he entered The Cave Of Wonders. In front of me I see perfect glistening cups of pumpkin treasures that I can't wait to create myself and devour. And I would, right now...If only it was as easy to find Pumpkin Puree in England is it was to find Grape Nuts.

10/11/2012

Limbo

I can't help but feel as though I'm stuck in limbo. Teetering between where I want to be in life and where I actually am. Seeing my dreams and hopes and goals within my grasp, yet, still that tiny bit too far to reach. 

It's frustrating. I feel sad and impatient. I feel scared and confused. I feel jealous and envious of those around me who have all of those things. I'm just so very very tired of waiting. But good things come to those who wait, right?

Last night as the hubs and I went out to dinner with two of our best friends who are expecting their first baby I couldn't help but feel slight pings of sadness mixed in with the overwhelming joy as Toni and I discussed birthing plans and nursery ideas. I felt absolutely elated as I rubbed her beautiful growing belly and listened intently as she excitedly screamed oh I wish you could feel this! as the baby performed somersaults inside her. But in all honesty, selfishly, it was hard too. Hard because Carl and I discuss babies on a daily basis and often venture into the realms of "I can't wait until I'm pregnant and you can feel our baby move" or 'I can't wait until our baby is old enough for me to teach them to play football" or "I can't wait til our baby is old enough to bake with me." We often admire the baby names we've already selected and in my mind I imagine how utterly amazing it would feel to be a mother and how there's nothing more in the world that I crave. Nothing that I dream more of. I imagine Carl holding our baby and how he'll be such a wonderful Daddy, or the day I clap and cheer and cry as my little one takes their very first steps. I imagine my heart flooding and overflowing with love in the same way that the movie theater popcorn popper does with puffy popcorn kernels. 

And as I climbed into bed last night, turned off the light and stared into the calm darkness of our bedroom my pillow was soon soggy with tears. Tears of frustration, and wanting and hope. Tears of happiness for all of my sweet friends expecting precious babies of their own. Tears of impatience. Tears because I'm angry with myself for insisting on planning everything. Tears because it's the Atlantic Ocean's fault we can't have a baby just yet. Tears because I can't help but compare my life to my friends. Tears because I feel so torn between doing it right now, or waiting and doing it right.  Tears of guilt for feeling this way when really I should be thankful for what I have instead of longing for something more. 

But thankfully this morning, although my heart still aches for a baby, my mind is a tiny bit clearer and I know that everything happens for a reason. I know that although Carl and I are in limbo - just wrapping up our Liverpool chapter and about to begin the opening paragraph in Vermont - we are doing the right thing in waiting. Of course I know deep down that we're not at the point in our lives that I wish we were. We're not completely settled, we don't have our dream jobs or our dream wedding, or our dream house or our 3 children, but I know that it would be unrealistic to expect otherwise. Our circumstances are trying, our love story is challenging and unique. We're about to fly across the world and attempt to pick up all the pieces and put them back together again when we land. But in the end it's what's best for us. And although right now it feels so overwhelming and scary, I know that eventually we'll swim to the surface, take a deep breath and move forward. We'll rebuild our lives and find our footing. It won't happen overnight, but nothing does.

Before I know it, our life will slot into place and it will be our turn to have the great jobs, the dream wedding, a dream house and sweet precious children. Until then, I'll just keep swimming.

10/10/2012

So WHAT! Wednesday #13

So What Wednesday
On this cold and damp Wednesday I'm linking up with the lovely  Shannon and saying a big fat SO WHAT! if...
  • The antibiotics for my infected wisdom tooth haven't kicked in yet so I'm popping Ibuprofen like it's candy, crabby from my lack of sleep and feeling super sorry for myself. Seriously. What the hell is the point of wisdom teeth? Useless chunks of pain-in-the-ass creeping out of my gums. 
  • At least 4 times a month Carl and I talk about how much we'd love to move to southern CT in the future so that we're closer to NYC. 
  • I'm in my mid 20s and I've got the hots for George Clooney and Sean Connery. So what that they're old enough to by father and grandfather...
  • Yesterday I FINALLY, for the first time this year, got my PSL! My friends, it was absolutely heavenly - just as I knew it would be - and I'm proud to have popped my mother-in-laws Pumpkin Spice Latte cherry as she's officially had her first and in love too. Success.
  • I haven't run once this week (thanks to the above mentioned infected wisdom tooth) and I feel fat and lazy because of it.  
  • I see the little turds from One Direction or Justin Bieber and I want to punch them all square  in the nose. They're officially some of the most aggravating people around and I struggle to understand why there's millions of screaming teenage girls drooling over them. But then I step down off of my high horse and remember my very first Backstreet Boys concert or the time I stood in my bedroom rehearsing the dance moves to N'Syncs Bye Bye Bye.
  • I sometimes wish I could go back to High School for a day.
  • I'm craving Chef Boyardee pizza and those little candy corn pumpkins so bad that I may or may not have had dreams about them.
  • I find the fact that England has an array of meat & seafood flavored chips (roast chicken, steak, prawn cocktail) absolutely disgusting and I nearly puke every time someone cracks opens a bag near me. Gag a maggot. 
  • I give the stink eye to those ignorant people on public transport who blare their shitty music out of their shitty headphones. No, I don't want to hear every word to Dizzy Rascals Bonkers. It's awful and I hope you're someday deafened by your loud shitty music.
  • One of my all time favorite TV shows is America's Funniest Home Videos. I practically pee my pants every single time I watch it.
  • I'm one of those weird nosy people who looks inside other peoples windows as I drive by at night.
  • It's 9am and I'm still sitting in bed, typing this post, wearing my pajamas and giggling at Tom Hanks charming smart ass remarks on You've Got Mail.
  • When I was younger I was positive I'd paint the outside of my house purple when I 'grew up.' 
  • I'm in the mood to compose a blog post that said shit or shitty or ass a total of 5 times. Find the bar of soap, Mom! 
What are you saying SO WHAT! to this week? 
Lots of love, love, love,

10/08/2012

Project Pinterest: Ballet Cake

Happy Monday, love bugs!

For the first time today I'm joining the lovely AP for her super clever Project Pinterest link-up and sharing my latest Pinterest inspired creation.
Many of you will remember from this post that I've recently started my very own little cake business, Caketastic Confections. And you'll be happy to know that things are going swimmingly and I'm like a pig in shit. For cereal. There's something oddly satisfying about spending my afternoons covered in icing sugar, wiping splattered chocolate buttercream off the kitchen walls and swearing at stubborn fondant that insists on sticking to the counter tops. You may think I'm being sarcastic, and I totally am. Nevertheless, the truth is that while I do spend a fair share of my time swearing like a sailor at fondant that won't cooperate, or demented electric mixers, I really do love every minute of my baking experience. And it's genuinely rewarding to put your heart and soul into a cake, and see your customers eyes light up when they come to collect the finished product. There are few things that beat that feeling.

I spent the entirety of last Wednesday/Thursday in the kitchen creating my latest order for a 9 year old girl named Sarah (who just so happened to be my hubby's cousin. Sarah was one of our little helpers at our English Wedding, and I was absolutely tickled pink to be making her 9th birthday cake). Sarah has recently taken up dance and is infatuated (in the same proximity to my younger year Spice Girls infatuation) So, as you can imagine, she requested a dance/ballet inspired girly cake that was covered from head to toe in pink and purple. "No problem! I got this shit!" I thought as my virgin-ballerina-cake-making-self frantically flipped through Pinterest in search for ballet cake ideas to borrow steal. Thankfully, I stumbled upon this ballet cake pin and these two YouTubed fondant tutorials (this one for fondant bows and this for creating ballet shoes). 

Wednesday afternoon I spent baking 3 layers of vanilla cake (I use the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days recipe's for all of my cake and buttercreams) and, once completely cooled, sandwiched/covered the stacked cake in a chocolate ganache buttercream. After smoothing the sugary tower the best to my ability, I quickly got to work coloring my white fondant (I always use the Wilton food colors) a pale girly pink. I dusted my counter tops (liberally, to avoid additional fondant-inspired swearing sessions) with icing sugar, carefully rolled out a circular layer, and practically crapped my pants as I made the transition from the counter top to cake. I knew I had one go at covering that bad boy as it was iced in a dark chocolate buttercream which would certainly ruin my pale pink fondant if shit were to hit the fan. Thankfully, with some 'I don't know what the hell I'm doing, babe' assistance from my husband (he held the cake still so that it didn't make a run for it during the fondant coverage episode) I successfully covered the cake, wiped my damp brow, and set it aside.
I made the decision (inspired by the pin above) to encompass the bottom of the cake in white fondant balls. In order to get a uniform size I used the fat round part of one of my Wilton piping tips and stamped out what felt like 804 million round discs. I then rolled them in my palms before 'gluing' each one to the base of  the cake with some vanilla buttercream. Once I'd gone around the whole circumference of the cake, perfecting any pesky egg shaped intruders, I lightly sprayed each ball with a pearlized spray (I used the Dr Oetker Silver Shimmer Spray which is available in most grocery stores. It's amazing, smells and tastes good, and is also available in gold!) This spray is a God send and I was over the moon with how the pearlized glow transformed the plain white boarder into an edible pearl necklace. It was super cute. 
The following morning I set to finishing my masterpiece. I cut out fondant daisies and hearts and carefully stuck them around the sides. I then piped Happy 9th Birthday Sarah on the front and placed a round purple disc of fondant underneath where I knew I wanted to place my fondant ballet slippers. It was then that I frantically searched through my bookmarks to find the two YouTube tutorials I'd discovered weeks before. And for a moment I doubted whether I'd actually be able to create the same cake I'd envisioned in my head. Nevertheless, I pulled my sleeves up, blared Journey from my computer, and set to work.
First, using this ballet slippers tutorial, I formed the pink fondant ballet slippers and left them to harden slightly while I began, using this tutorial, to work on the ribbons and bows (I knew the 3 pieces of the bow would need time to dry, so I intended to finish the trim on my ballet slippers while they were hardening. Multi-tasking, baby. Multi-tasking). Thankfully, with the help of YouTube, I had, within 20 minutes, created two adorable fondant ballet slippers, complete with bows, and stacked them 'nonchalantly' on top of the purple disk on my cake. At this point I did a small victory dance as the realization that I had actually created two fondant shoes that genuinely resembled ballet slippers. The last step was to effortlessly drop my fondant ribbons over the shoes and the honest truth is that this was the most difficult part for me as my OCD meant that I desperately wanted to re-situate them so that they were perfectly symmetrical. I twitched, people. Thankfully I forced myself to get a grip, resisted fiddling with them, and left them vicariously dangling. Looking back now I'm so glad that I did because they look so much more natural that way. The finishing touch was one final squirt of the glorious Dr. Oetker Shimmer Spray over the entire cake and a flick of edible glitter. This was what I marveled over when I stepped back for a bit of admiration. I may or may not have murmured a 'holy shit, look what I did!" And for my first attempt it ain't too shabby! :)

I am over the moon with how my very first ballet cake turned out, and I can confirm that little miss Sarah was mighty impressed (her Mum said she didn't want to cut or eat them. Ha! Result!) And once again, I have the big red and white P to thank for inspiring me. I seriously don't know how the hell we lived without that site.

If you too have been creating Pinterest gems, please link up with us here and share! :)
Enjoy your Monday!
Lots of love, love, love,

10/07/2012

The Little Things

This weekend was relaxed and, for the most part, rather uneventful. But don't let that fool you, it was still fun and enjoyable. A slower-paced weekend full of quiet contemplation, lazy morning snuggles, foot pounding- thinking-time, Don't Stop Believing singing sessions, brand spankin' new pink running shoes and thermal tops, deep admiration for this wonderful crisp season, steaming gingerbread latte's, bright sunshine, successful first attempts at ballerina cakes, Ugg boots, roast dinners and many, many Vs of honking southward flying geese. 
It was low-key and effortless. Full of the little things. Just the way I like it. 
I hope you too, no matter what adventure you found yourself embarking in, enjoyed your weekend. 

10/05/2012

I'm Comin' Home

"It's okay baby, we've already won our prize. It came on Tuesday morning in a brown envelope with United States of America: Immigration Visa stamped across the front."
My husband is an amazing man who is always my voice of reason, the one who helps to keep me grounded and is always my big strong shoulder to cry on. This is why we work so well ya see, I'm the dreamer and he's the realist. Our compatibility and peanutbutter-jelly-ness is why we've made it through 10 years of on and off long distance, far too many tearful goodbyes than I care to remember, bucket loads of  bullshit and stressful immigration hiccups. And really, the truth of the matter is that I could not possibly feel more blessed to have found him and to know that we're headed for such a wonderful new chapter in our lives. A chapter that starts this very time next month, back in Vermont.

This morning, the news we've been so patiently waiting the last month to hear, ended up being both bittersweet and emotionally charged. Many of you may remember this post when I briefly mentioning  a "new and potentially wonderful revelation" that happened the day after we arrived home from London. I was vague then, but I can be more informative now. 

 Carl's employer  (he's a Civil Servant...for the Queen. How posh does that sound, please?) is currently trying to make cutbacks in his department, and as a result offered a select number of it's civil servants what they called 'voluntary redundancy.'  This basically means you get a big pay off to voluntarily give up your job. The hubs was offered the opportunity to apply for this as his office would be selecting some of it's employees (seriously the timing was impeccable as Carl was going to be submitting his final notice as soon as his visa arrived in the post anyway). 

In the beginning when Carl first told me he'd be able to apply for the redundancy, the large lump sum of money he'd be given if accepted (which would benefit us hugely in terms of getting acclimated again back in Vermont) was of absolutely no interest to me. I cried, I was angry and I was upset. Angry because I knew if he was chosen we'd have to stay in England until at LEAST the end of November (me remaining jobless, homesick, feeling like a big fat lazy bum desperately craving independence, normalcy and, after 4 years without, a Thanksgiving dinner with my family). At that point in time the honest truth is that it was unbelievably hard for me to see through the sadness the anger of having our leaving date pushed back significantly yet again, and I was characteristically ruling my emotions with my heart more than my head. Thankfully, yet again, Carl swooped in with his cape and rescued me with his realist and matter-of-fact attitude.
"Baby this isn't a set back, it's a gift. This could be such a good thing for us. Yes, it'll be longer before we get home. But if we get this redundancy money, our transition will be so much easier and less stressful. Isn't that worth it?" 
And then it clicked. He was right. This would be something good for us and I knew deep down inside that I was capable of drying my eyes and putting on my big-girl-britches for a couple more weeks. I needed no more convincing, I stopped crying and banned all negativity from my mind. The following day Carl submitted his application, along with many others, for voluntary redundancy. Since then, we've spent the previous month with our fingers, toes, and any other body parts we could manage, crossed. Until today, Friday October 5th, when those who hadn't got the redundancy were announced.

This morning we found out that the hubs was one of the unlucky ones who had not been chosen. And as his Immigration Visa arrived on Tuesday, he submitted his months notice. 

The truth is that although I was truly elated to be going home, finally, after 4 and a half long years; tinges of sadness tugged at my insides, I dropped my head into my hands and I cried. I cried because I thought of how that money would help with my astronomical student loan payments, or buying a car, or our wedding, or a house, or a baby. I cried because I know that it's going to be expensive, and hard and difficult to put our life back together again after moving all the way across the world. And mostly I cried because I'm scared. So very scared. But my husband, yet again, with his clear mind, matter of fact attitude and realistic thinking said something which resonated with me through the clouded mind and endless tears.
"The best way to look at this situation is: we can't miss something we never had. Just remember where we were all of those years ago and where we are now."
This, my friends, is why I love that man. There I was, my head in my hands feeling sorry for myself, sobbing about something we never had, when really I should have been appreciating what we do. We have each other. We have a wonderful marriage. We have a life together. We have supportive friends and family who love us. We have our health. And we have a very bright future ahead. Sure, the transition from England to America isn't going to be easy, but nothing in life is. It's going to be expensive, stressful, heartbreaking, exciting, difficult, wonderful and scary. But it's part of our journey and it'll sure as hell be worth it. And years down the road when we're settled and living the life we've worked so hard to make, we'll appreciate all of those hardships, crazy emotions and steep learning curves. Because they'll help shape us. They'll make us better spouses, parents and people.

So bring it on! Cause this chick is finally packin' her  bags for VERMONT!    

Happy Friday love bugs! Enjoy your weekend!
Lots of love, love, love,