Monthly Archives: November 2013

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Greetings from Minnesota where I’ve been laying low for the past week. After running here there and everywhere seeing my nearest and dearest, I have finally found a moment to share my day with you. Enjoy!

8First, and most importantly, let me introduce you to the newest addition to my family: my MacBook Air! Methuselah is getting angry and uncooperative now that she has to share my affection with another, but she’ll enjoy retirement, I think.  She and the Spinning Rainbow Wheel of Doom will have many happy, quiet years together now that they’re empty nesters.  It’ll be cute.

9These Minnesota days have been bright and sunny but also freezing cold. There’s nothing like a warming coffee to get the gears working in the morning.

10Did you have an imaginary friend as a child? I did. His name was Little Fox and he was (you guess it!) a little fox that would follow me around and keep me company.  When my mom saw this  ornament, she immediately thought of Little Fox and got it for me. It actually looks a lot like Little Fox except my LF stood on his hind legs and smoked a pipe, naturally.  Still, I love him! His scarf is adorable.

11What’s great about the US is that there’s a definitive Christmas season and it begins after Thanksgiving. In the UK, it starts getting cold and suddenly you enter a waiting game where we all watch each other trying to guess who will be first to say the ‘C’ word. Here, we all know that it’s not time for tinsel and holly until after the pumpkin pie has been devoured and someone has gotten trampled at a midnight Black Friday opening at a Best Buy or WalMart. We don’t start listening to Christmas music until Thanksgiving day. That’s the rule and it’s a sacred one.

12We call this room in our house The Library.  I didn’t realise that calling it that was pretentious until I went to college and some girl in a writing class called me on it.  Anyway, it’s a super cosy room and I love our little library, which is full of books that include The Atlas of Middle Earth, a set of Encyclopaedias from the 80s, and basically every book written by C.S. Lewis ever. Plus so much more. It’s a magical place and I have many happy memories here.

Also, my new knit scarf! Isn’t it pretty? It’s by The Gold Thread Collective, a group of insanely talented Minnesotans.  Be sure to do some shopping with them in their Etsy store and, if you’re local (in Minnesota, I mean) be sure to visit them at the Holiday Bazaar on December 7th. It looks like it’s going to be a really fun day and I’m super bummed I won’t be there for it!

13You guys, Minnesota is such a magical place.  People who have never been to Minnesota don’t understand this, but Minnesota, and specifically the Twin Cities, are a mecca of talent.  Food! Music! Art! Medicine! Big Thoughts! There. Is. So. Much. Talent. And whoever made this Huevos Rancheros at The Kenwood Restaurant is among the super talented. It was so good!

14After devouring our delicious meal with our dear friends Sarah Vande Kamp (remember her?!) and Joe Whitson (who should totally do a Tuesday With Vous because his life is like a magical hipster history book), we went for a walk around my favourite lake, Lake of the Isles.  The lake had already started to freeze over and our faces were quickly following suit so we abandoned our walk after strolling only a quarter of the way around the lake.  Despite the frigid temperature and wind chill, it was still a beautiful walk.

15To bring some warmth back to our limbs and faces, David and I stopped at French Meadow Bakery & Cafe for some hot chocolate.  Just like the wizards in Harry Potter, I firmly believe that hot chocolate has healing powers.

16Back at home, we watched the sun set and waited for the next part of our day to unfold.

17Sitting on the sink in our powder room, my mom has put together an adorable rock tower with stones she collected at Lake Superior over the summer.  Isn’t it the cutest?

18I can’t even tell you how nice it’s been being home with my family.  It’s nice to take the time to stop and smell the flowers and to eat too much and drink too much, too.

19It’s also been nice to see my family’s neighbours that I don’t often see.  Neighbours I’ve grown up with who used to feed me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches after school and now feed me bourbon. I don’t complain….

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Friends who we kiss goodbye under the mistletoe.

21Every time I visit, I daydream of moving to Minneapolis. And when I do move back, I’m going to move right next door to Bachelor Farmer. This was my favourite dish of the evening, the Beet Carpaccio. The flavours were spectacular, diverse, and surprising in all the right ways.  Everything about the meal was fantastic, in fact– the food, the music, the ambiance, A+ all around! Plus, one of my favourite bars in the city, Marvel Bar, is conveniently located directly beneath. If you go, be sure to have a whiskey sour. It’ll change your life! (Okay, maybe it won’t change your life but it will certainly make your night a little more fabulous.)

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There’s nothing I love more than a hearty meal and great conversation.  Sitting around a table with my love and my parents is one of my all time favourite ways to spend an evening. I’m thankful to have such spectacular people in my life!

23On the way home to the ‘burbs, we drove past the most intricately lit tree in the whole wide world. Every branch is wrapped in white lights and has been standing as a beacon of joy for as long as I can remember.  It’s a sight to behold and you can read all about it right here.

And now, my dears, is Turkey Time.  Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for reading!  KISSES!

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

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I’ve been ordering my produce from a great company called Simply Veg for just over a month now. What I like about Simply Veg is they feel like a CSA in that they bring us a box of ever-changing veg once per week, but I can opt-in and, more importantly, opt-out whenever the service doesn’t suit our needs.  As is the nature of a local food drop-off, sometimes you wind up with an awful lot of one thing and right now that one thing is onions. I have a loads of onions and have been putting them in everything– roasts, eggs, pasta, you name it… ONIONS.  I probably don’t smell very good but my tummy sure is happy!

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To follow Doctor’s orders, David’s been taking it easy at home lately.  Whilst rest and recuperation are very important after last week’s episode, truth be told, I think he was going a little stir crazy so I was thankful he decided to go back to work today. Slobbing on his lonesome is so not David’s style…

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My friends at Kudos have a new issue out! I love their Handmade Christmas feature and really love our latest Artists Unveiled ad being amongst its pages.  Be sure to get your hands on a copy if you live local & love local!

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I have a bunch of twine on my desk for a client project right now.  Frayed and rough, I love the way it feels like the country in my hands.

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An apple or two a day keep the doctor away… except when you smother them with peanut butter like I do!

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I’ve been looking for a new lamp and have come to the conclusion that most lamps are either complete rubbish or totally impracticable. Or a bijillion pounds! Ideally, I’m looking for something classic but forward-thinking.  Something that makes a statement but isn’t obtrusive.  Something that uses bulbs that omit a soft, warm light that doesn’t make my pores look huge.  Essentially, I’m looking for something awesome.  I took Nick and Liam’s recommendation and started looking on eBay but I found the offering rather uninspiring.  I don’t go to eBay to buy second hand Ikea crap, you guys! I want the crazy stuff you find in your grandmother’s basement!  What I’m trying to say is this: I think I need to start antiquing.  (Do you say that in England, ‘antiquing’?  If not, you need to adopt it ASAP ’cause it’s a super great verb!)

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Voila– a peek at a print project for a client. The blue hour is such a magical time of day, no?

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Our office has been doing a series of seminars to give each of us time to educate the others about what we do all day– other than crack jokes and drink too much tea, I mean. Yesterday was my turn.  I wandered down to Create DM, who are gracious enough to host the seminars, and begged them for a little liquid enthusiasm before I started my talk.  Coffee will always be my first love

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The Create DM guys were sooooooOOOooo interested in my talk and asked lots of great questions. Questions like, “Why don’t you comment more on our blog?” and “Can we go now?”

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For some reason, the early darkness of winter seems more extreme and less bearable with each passing year.  When I was a teenager, my mom bought one of those Happy Lights to help her manage her seasonal depression. At the time, I didn’t understand why anyone would need such a thing, but now that I’m older and time seems to go so quickly, I completely understand. It’s quite difficult to feel energised and productive when the world is cold and dark around you…

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But luckily, that’s what alcohol is for! After my riveting presentation, Justin and I walked from the office to our local watering hole to brainstorm some new ideas for this site (yay!) and some other projects I’m working on (YAY!).

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And our spirited conversation about life! work! plans! continued on and on and that was great.

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Until finally, David pulled at my sleeve and asked if we could please leave because he had a heart attack last week and is very tired thank you very much!  Obviously, I obliged. It was cold outside. You could smell the coming frost.

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Once home, we put on our comfy clothes and watched the most recent episode of Downton Abbey.  I know, I know! I can’t believe I still watch it, either. But at least I’m not watching Homeland anymore…

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After the episode finished, David went to bed and I stayed sitting on the sofa, reflecting.

And that, my dear, was my Tuesday. Fascinating, I know, but at least nobody had a heart attack…  Bisous!

ps. If you’re interested in sharing a Tuesday With Vous, check out the details and please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Not to be a total creep, but I’d love to see what you get up to!

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

This post is two days late.  I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

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I’ve been rising at 7:07 lately.  A strangely specific time, perhaps, but I like setting my alarm for odd numbers rather than round ones.  It increases the urgency of waking up for me.

The mornings are dark now and I like sitting in bed with my laptop, a mug of hot coffee, and my twinkle lights whilst the room grows light around me.  I’m still a long way off of being a ‘morning person’ but I’m getting there and I like that.

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The To-Read list grows daily, but tip-top right now is Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer, which I picked up in Boston and have yet to delve into (it’s a little daunting, right?), and the beautiful book A Sky Full of Kindness by Rob Ryan which my dear friend Caro (remember Caro?) gifted me on my birthday. Helena Bonham Carter describes it as “A bedtime story for every age” and that’s an endorsement I can certainly get behind!

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I decided the night before to work from home in the morning and then take the afternoon off to meet a long-lost friend in London for lunch. Every single time I’ve gone to London in the last two months, it’s rained. I’m starting to think I’m cursed, you guys…

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But I’m tough. I can live without sunshine.

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Surprise surprise!, I ended up stopping in the office to work on a project for an hour before jetting off to the station. Here’s the rainy day view of my office neighbours. Hi, guys!

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And here’s me galloping to the train. Hi!

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And here are some pigeons. Hiya, pigeons!

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One of the things I miss most about America is Mexican food.  “We have Mexican food!” my British friends say as they pour cheese sauce over Cool Ranch Doritos, “We love nachos here!” No bueno.

Wahaca is one of the very few and far between  places in the UK where my Mexican-tooth is satisfied.  It’s been so long since I ate authentic(ish) Mexican food that I can’t really 100% tell you if it’s for-real-good or just okay-good, but I’d like to say that it’s pretty damn good. Plus they make delicious margaritas.  My friend, who’s a food snob in the best way, seemed to enjoy it so I think I can definitely recommend you visit one of their locations should you journey to the Big Smoke. Plus the guacamole at Wahaca isn’t puréed, giving it a banner of gold stars in my book! I mean, WTF is with the puréed guac in this country? It’s an outrage!

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After our late lunch, we wandered the streets of Covent Garden.  I wanted to buy an umbrella to fit in The Bag as well as a few surprise gifts for David at Muji, so we window-shopped our way over.

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Though I’d been planning all day (and preparing myself mentally) to take a commuter train home, I chickened out last minute and ran for the 5:01 to Tunbridge Wells.  I knew David would be on that train and felt an almost frantic need to be near him, which is strange as I’m usually the last one to leave the party, even if the party is just two people walking through Covent Garden and catching each other up on the last three years of their lives.

Once on the train, I found David and sat beside him. Turns out the two of us spontaneously bought each other little presents. This book, Creative Confidence, is what he got me.  It’s written by two brothers and the first page alone made me get a little teary. I’m looking forward to properly tucking into it!

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As we bolted under the dark railway bridge right before reaching Tunbridge Wells Station, David and I discussed taking a taxi home from the station. I think it’s silly to take a taxi as it only takes nine minutes to walk, but David wasn’t keen on walking and as we both had lots to carry, I gave in and accepted the ride.

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Back at home, David prepared to go for a swim with his son, Ben.  They were starting on a new fitness kick together, which I was supporting with great enthusiasm.  I sipped tea whilst waving him out the door.

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But then my tea was kind of boring and I felt frantic again.  Felt like I was unraveling, much like this twine, and that I had to do something.  I was supposed to go to see my Tunbridge Wells Writer friends, but last minute decided not to. Instead, I texted Liam asking if he wanted to meet for a last-minute drink at our local pub and, after he replied in the affirmative, I walked out the door.

This is when I break my rules and start using my iPhone to take photos…

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I got a call from Ben around 8:20 saying that David wasn’t feeling well and asking me to come home.  I’m going to be totally honest with you and admit to finishing my entire glass of wine and some most of my cheese plate before entertaining the idea of “rushing” home to check on my man. As someone who felt awful and even puked on the first big (still quite small) runs they went on, I assumed David simply felt unwell because his body wasn’t used to exerting itselfAfter almost twenty minutes had elapsed (I’m the worst), I rolled my eyes, corked the bottle of wine I was sharing with Liam, and headed home.

Much to my dismay, David was legitimately very ill.  He looked pale and complained of a strange sensation in his chest.  Not a pain, per se, but an uncomfortable tightness that braced his chest and brought tension through to his throat.  Ben and I insisted we call the paramedics.  They came just before 9:00.

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Before I continue, I’d just like to note that every experience I’ve had with the NHS since moving to this country has been terrific.  Sure, I’ve heard the horror stories, but I’ve never experienced anything but genuine, good-hearted health care professionals giving me a good service.  I’ve never felt the care here is any worse– or better– than it is in the States.  The only difference, which is pretty radical, is that anyone can get health care here. That’s really powerful, I think. People aren’t ashamed or scared to go to the doctor here. They go because they can, they go because they need to.  It’s just really healthy. >Observation over.<

After running a few tests in our bedroom, the paramedics told us that we’d be taking a trip to the hospital. I didn’t think too much of it until they asked us to pack a bag for David to spend the night. With his bag in tow, we relocated to the back of the ambulance to run more tests.  For some reason, I couldn’t shake the feeling that all of us were just playing pretend.  The paramedics asked us questions about what did for a living and we talked a little about Breaking Bad.  We compared smartphone models whilst they injected David with drugs. It was all very strange but very normal, too.

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But when we got to the hospital, things started to get real.  A nurse pulled the curtains around David’s stretcher and asked him to strip down before escorting me out of the room. They told me they were running more tests and would collect me when they were finished.

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In the meantime, David’s sons, Tom and Ben, joined me.  We were all very thankful for our iPhones in that period of waiting. And I was really thankful they were both there, too. Waiting is so much nicer when you have company. (You, dear reader, should be thankful that I made these photos black and white because the colours in the hospital are OMG awful.  I can’t even describe the colour of these chairs without wanting to vomit. For real. And that clock? Atrocious!)

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Around 12:30, a doctor came to tell us that David was ready to see us. I can’t remember who told us that David had suffered a heart attack, but someone said it and I didn’t believe them. No, that was not a heart attack, I remember thinking.  Heart attacks mean you fall on the floor and are short of breath and feel like you’re being stabbed. I’ve seen movies, I know what a heart attack looks like!  We walked into the cardiac unit and found David on a bed with a naked chest and monitoring devices everywhere.  He was high on morphine and in good spirits but also, starving. A nurse found him a piece of coffee cake (coffee cake?!) and I embarked on a mission to find something more substantial.

The first vending machine I found on my hunt was filled with chocolates and BBQ and steak-flavoured chips. No. I journeyed on to find a vending machine full of frozen sandwiches that could be heated in a designated microwave. I didn’t have enough change to buy the Mediterranean Vegetable Panini so I caved and got him the knock-off egg and sausage mcmuffin.  The only thing I’ve found truly appalling about the hospital (because let’s be real, most hospitals lack aesthetic appeal) is the contents of their vending machines. That food is certainly not suitable for sick people! Heck, I don’t even think that food is suitable for healthy people. So yes, I fed my husband a goddamn sausage & egg muffin sandwich hours after he had a heart attack. I’m not proud of it, people, but my hands were tied.  :(

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The ambulance ride to the hospital didn’t seem to take long but the drive home took ages.  Who knew Ashford was so far away?! Certainly not I.

One thing I’ve realised  in the past few days and is now of the utmost importance in my mind is that I need to learn to drive in the UK. I cannot for one moment handle being reliant on others in moments of great need. My step-sons have been amazingly accommodating and gracious as they take me back and forth to the hospital these days, and I’m thankful for the lifts, but I am so over being a damsel in immobile distress.  I must learn. I will learn.

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Finally, home. Alone. I slept on David’s side of the bed that night, though slept might not be the right way to describe my repose.

Tuesday. You were a beast!

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After visiting David in the hospital on Wednesday, Ben said, “This has been the longest 48 hours.” I agreed. Then it occurred to me that it hadn’t even been 24 hours yet. It’s been a long and challenging week and we’re all tired.

That being said, we’re all okay, too.  We were scared at first, obviously, but David’s doing great and will be released from the hospital later this afternoon. We’re counting our many blessings every chance we get and are so incredibly thankful for our family and friends who have supported us through this– from the uncertain OMG?! phase to the Do you mind if I just ask for a hug and then go home and take a nap? phase, which I’m still in, to be honest. Hugs are the best. They get you through a  lot.

As I write this, David and I are both looking forward to many happy and healthy years ahead. My goal of being more like Lucy Liu and less like Drunk Kate just became a lot more real and we’re excitedly planning a more balanced lifestyle. Who knows, this little hiccup could be the greatest thing that has ever happened to us!  Our minds are firmly planted on the bright side.

Onward and upward! And thank you thank you thank you for reading, my dears. Honestly, it means the world to me. To us.  xox