Thursday, December 24, 2009
Some things we do a little differently to when I was growing up. We leave the stockings downstairs, but Santa always delivers one present upstairs to each of the kids. Breakfast on Christmas morning is cinnamon rolls. (Although this year it may be banana blueberry muffins as they are already made!) Lunch is never turkey, as we have turkey at Thanksgiving and for some reason DH thinks it's too soon only a month later to have another turkey. Not really - we just choose to have something different. As DH had to work until the end of the day this Christmas Eve, he is not making beef Wellington as he did last year. There will still be beef though, and salmon for those of us who don't like beef very much. No Christmas pudding or Christmas cake. After my recent attempt at making mince pies, I'm thinking I should try making a real English Christmas cake next year and am hoping my mother still has the recipe she used when we were little. I do make a 'kid's trifle' - with jelly/jello instead of sherry, but mostly I'm the only one who eats it. (Trifle makes for a yummy breakfast on Boxing Day!) DH surprised me this evening by producing a box of English Christmas crackers - the kind that go bang and have silly paper hats in them.
I got the following via email from friends a couple of days ago:
1st Annual Christmas Day Open House
Friday December 25th, 12:00 noon -10PM
For Kids & Childish Adults ▪ Dress Exceedingly Casual ▪ Light Fare Served All-Day
Leave your present-opening mess at home & come mess up our house, instead!
Although we've always considered Christmas Day a family day, I think we will take them up on their invitation. There's room in the routine for a new tradition!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I'm not sure when the last time was that I made mince pies, if ever. I think I need to practice. The store-bought mincemeat was acceptable, but the pastry left something to be desired. They did look quite nice though:
Maybe if I master making mince pies, another year I'll try making a real Christmas cake.
Friday, December 11, 2009
- almost american blog
- why americans shouldn't travel
- americans should only speak english
- no one is more american than anyone else
- americans only speak english
- my license photo does not look like me, should I get it retaken?
- why americans only speak one language
- why do americans only speak one language?
- how to know what turkey to shoot
- why is there february vacation
- Wednesday in hat
- tornado american hat
- out of office humping-mania
- m&ms vs smarties
- m&ms vs smarties vs skippers
Apparently at least one Russian-speaker was in search of information about Doctor Who:
- доктор кто
- shooting my own thanksgiving turkey in supermarket
I wonder if this one was an American living in the UK:
- britain has too many rules
Monday, December 07, 2009
Of course they all wanted something - our votes, our money . . . I will be glad when both the primary election and the seasonal fund-raising are over!
Saturday, December 05, 2009
When I was a kid in the UK, we had sandwiches (cut into little triangles), jelly in little paper cups with whipped cream on top , and 'fairy cakes':
(Picture from citybumpkin's blog.)
I remember chocolate blancmange rabbits on lime jelly grass too. I don't think they sell blancmage in the US, not that I've ever looked for it. (No Angel Delight either, which I remember we often had for dessert - I loved the butterscotch flavour!) Here's a picture of a blancmange rabbit, though the red jelly looks weird to me - it really should have been green!
(Photo from howarew's photostream at Flickr.)
The actual birthday cake might or might not have been eaten at the party, but guests were usually sent home with a slice wrapped up in a paper serviette. Americans I've mentioned this too all think that is really weird!
What do you remember about the food served at children's birthday parties when you were growing up? Has kids' birthday party food in the UK changed?
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
- "Ooh, Betty!" - Frank Spencer (Michael Crawford) in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em
- "I didn't get where I am today by . . . " - The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin
- "Get down Shep!" - John Noakes on Blue Peter
- "You're gonna like this - not a lot, but you're gonna like it! " - Paul Daniels, magician
- "Good game, good game", "Nice to see you, to see you nice", "Didn't they do well?", and when memory fails say "Cuddly toy!" - Bruce Forsyth on the Generation Game
- "Ooh, you are awful! But I like you!" - Dick Emery
- "Boom boom!" - Basil Brush
- "Rassen-frassen" - Muttley in the cartoon Wacky Races
- "Can you tell what it is yet?" - Rolf Harris
- "What do you think of it so far?" - Morecombe and Wise (I think their answer was always "Rubbish!")
- "You dancin'?" "You askin'?" "I'm askin''" "I'm dancin'" - The Liver Birds
- "And now for something completely different..." "I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!" "This is an ex-parrot!" - Monty Python's Flying Circus
Sunday, November 22, 2009
- "I didn't get where I am today by . . . "
- "Ooh, Betty!"
- "Get down Shep!"
- "You're gonna like this - not a lot, but you're gonna like it! "
- "Good game, good game", "Nice to see you, to see you nice", "Didn't they do well?", and when memory fails say "Cuddly toy!"
- "Ooh, you are awful! But I like you!"
- "Boom boom!"
- "Can you tell what it is yet?"
- "What do you think of it so far?"
- "You dancin'?" "You askin'?" "I'm askin''" "I'm dancin'"
- "And now for something completely different..." "I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!" "This is an ex-parrot!"
Friday, November 20, 2009
- "Stupid boy!" - Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army
- "It's good night from me" " And it's goodnight from him" - The Two Ronnies
- "Que?" ("He's from Barcelona") and "Don't mention the war!" - Fawlty Towers
- ''You've all done very well'' (in a quavery voice), “It’ll ride up with wear”, "Are you free?" "I'm free!" - Are You Being Served?
- "May your God go with you" - Dave Allen
- "I've started so I'll finish" - Magnus Magnussen on Mastermind (Did you know he wasn't British? Lived in Britain most of his life but never took British citizenship.)
- "Evening all!" - Dixon of Dock Green
- "Exterminate!", "It’s bigger on the inside!" - Dr Who
- "Shut that door!" - Larry Grayson
- “Just like that” - Tommy Cooper
- “Gissa job” - Yosser Hughes in Alan Beasdale's Boys from the Black Stuff
- “42″ - is the answer to the ultimate question in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was a radio show before it became a book, computer game, comic book and TV show.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
- "Stupid boy!"
- "It's good night from me" " And it's goodnight from him"
- "Que?" ("He's from Barcelona") and "Don't mention the war!"
- ''You've all done very well'' (in a quavery voice), “It’ll ride up with wear”, "Are you free?" "I'm free!"
- "May your God go with you"
- "I've started so I'll finish"
- "Evening all!"
- "Exterminate!", "It’s bigger on the inside!"
- "Shut that door!"
- “Just like that”
- “Gissa job”
Monday, November 16, 2009
1. "Little weeed!" - Bill and Ben, the flowerpot men (1950's and 60's)
2. The Woodentops and their Spotty Dog. While Daddy Woodentop was busy doing 'men’s work', Mummy Woodentop was busy in the kitchen with assistance from Mrs Scrubbit. (1950's and 60's)
3. This (American) one from the 1960's was in color - but I mostly remember Stingray in black and white.
4. "Hugh, Pugh, Barney, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub!" The firemen in Trumpton.
5. "A house. With a door. One. Two. Three. Four." Playschool.
6. The Clangers. (No soup dragon in this episode though.)
7. "Making good use of the things that we find, things that the everyday folks leave behind." The Wombles - who went big time with a hit record and a movie!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
One of the things about living other than where I grew up is not being able to use catch phrases from TV shows or share memories of the strange shows I grew up with. I remember Listen With Mother ("Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin!") on the radio in the afternoons, and Watch With Mother which was a time slot rather than a specific show on TV.
The Magic Roundabout was on right before the 6 o'clock news. In our house (when I was little at least) as soon as it ended, it was time to go and get ready for bed.
This appears to be an entire episode, except where's Zebedee saying "Goodnight! Time for bed!" Was that not in every show after all? And what is with that awful music?
I can't imagine why as a kid I thought this was interesting. Looking through the videos on YouTube, I'm amazed how bad so many of the the kids' TV shows were! I remember bits and pieces of a few of them.
Can you name the shows that go with these memories?
- "Little weeeeed!"
- Spotty Dog (who walked in a really weird way).
- "Anything can happen in the next half hour!"
- "Hugh, Pugh, Barney, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub!"
- "A house. With a door. One. Two. Three. Four."
- The soup dragon
- "Making good use of the things that we find, things that the everyday folks leave behind."
*My favorite phrase from Mo Willems' Knuffle Bunny is not "aggle flaggle" but "going boneless" to describe a toddler who does not want to be picked up!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I had a summer job here in the US one year where we put new plugs on lamps for college dorm rooms. (The previous year's students having vandalized the lamps.) Each packet with a new plug carried the warning "Only to be installed by a licensed electrician!" It really wasn't that difficult attaching the new plugs!
I recently needed a new plug for my iron. The cord near the plug was getting rather hot, and obviously the wires inside were damaged and a fire hazard. I couldn't simply remove the plug, shorten the wire and reattach the plug because the plug was (by design) fused to the cord. This is common over here. So I needed to buy a new plug, but couldn't find one anywhere. Fortunately, we do have in our town a man who will do small repairs like this. I think it cost me about $8 - far better than replacing my $90 Rowenta iron! Right next door to the electrical repair shop is an actual, honest-to-goodness, cobbler's. The cobbler's is not quite so cheap. $20 to resole a $20 pair of shoes is not worth it to me, though I will happily pay that to get another season out of a $100+ pair of boots. Sadly, both are run by older gentlemen and it looks as though when they finally decide they're ready to retire both will close for good. (The cobbler's store is run by an immigrant from eastern Europe who must now be in his 80's and his son who's in his 60's. The electrician commented that some of the materials he needs for repairs are simply no longer available!)
One of the advantages of the American plugs is that they are a lot smaller than the British ones. Some even only have two prongs instead of three. If you are travelling with a British device that needs to be plugged in, the plug itself is pretty bulky. The plug below is brilliant! I hope they manage to bring it to market!
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Swine flu? That's NOTHING compared to America's seasonal plague of political ads. They infect every TV, radio, billboard, mailbox, lawn and trick-or-treat bag. There's no vaccine. But at least Uncle Jay can explain how to understand them!Elections happen on Tuesday next week and even though there is very little difference between the two candidates for mayor of our town, (other than the fact that one is the incumbent and the other isn't,) I will be voting. Because I can, when for so many years I couldn't. Because it's the right thing to do - even though I think in the long run it probably won't make much difference in this particular local race :-(
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The kids have been looking forward to Halloween for weeks now. The costume planning started back at the beginning of September. We live in a neighborhood that is a great place to go trick-or-treating. There are lots of kids around the same age as ours and they all like to get together and do the rounds of the houses together. This year they have been trying to coordinate their costumes on a theme. It's working, kind of. My two are going to be a hot dog and a bottle of ketchup. (One costume borrowed and the other bought at a tag sale.) The neighbors' kids are going to be containers of popcorn, candy, and 'a movie'.
It will be a two-day celebration this year as we have been invited to a friend's house on Friday for a 'pumpkin carving party'. (We get pumpkins a couple of weeks or more in advance and leave them out on the doorstep, but never carve them until a night or two before as they start to rot if the weather is warm.) Then on Saturday, one of the neighbors is hosting a party for the kids from 4 to 6, before they all go out trick-or-treating at 6.
Although we really enjoy Halloween, we keep it much lower key than many people. No inflatable lawn decorations for example!
Nor do I decorate the the house inside and out the way some people do. This year I did learn about a new tradition, which I'm wishing I'd heard of earlier because it's probably too late to implement it now. Apparently some people have their children leave the Halloween candy in front of the fireplace when they go to bed. Overnight a witch removes the candy and leaves gifts for the children instead. Of course, the witch must end up very fat from eating all the candy, and that would definitely be a bad thing, but I suppose she could take the candy to work to share. Or not.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Iota noted the colours associated with various holidays here in the US:
Valentine’s Day: red and pinkI'd add blue and silver for Hannukah and red, green and black for Kwanzaa and that the holidays each have specific shapes associated with them too:
St Patrick’s Day: green
Easter: yellow (and pastel shades generally)
Memorial Day and Fourth of July: red, white and blue
Hallowe’en: orange, black and purple
Christmas: green and red.
Valentine’s Day: heartsThere are lots of other 'special days' that don't necessarily involve decorations that the kids learn about in school:
St Patrick’s Day: shamrocks
Easter: easter eggs, bunnies and chicks
Memorial Day and Fourth of July: stars and stripes (of course)
Hallowe’en: pumpkins and ghosts
Hannukah: Menorahs and dreidels
Christmas: Christmas trees, holly and candy canes
Kwanzaa: kinara (candelabras)
Winter (if one is decorating for the season but avoiding specific holidays to be politically correct): snowmen and snowflakes
Arbor DayGiven the shortage of school holidays over here, they do help mark the passing of the year, even though most of them are not actually days off school. I would love to have the kids follow a 190 day English school year with regular holidays instead of the 180 days of school with most of the holidays in the summer. DD was horrified to hear that in the UK the kids are still in school till the middle of July or later. I bet she'd love to have a 2 week holiday at Christmas though! This year she'll be in school until 3 p.m. on December 23rd - what do you think of that, Auntie England?
Chinese New Year
Cinco de Mayo
Martin Luther King Day
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
It was a family-friendly establishment with a kids menu, but still definitely a bar-ish kind of place. As we were waiting for our food to arrive, DS commented on how loud the group of people at the bar were. I said, "Well, that's because they're Americans and Americans are loud."
DS: "We're not loud!"
DH and AA: "Oh yes you are!"
DS: "Well mommy's not loud and she's half American."
DD: "Mommy's not American!"
DH: "Right, she's Almost American!"
AA: "Why am I not American?"
DD: "You were born in England."
DS: "But you've been to other countries and speak other languages."
AA: [to DD] "How about you sweetheart? Are you American or British?"
DS: "She's half Chinese."
AA and DH: "Huh?!!!"
DD: "No, I'm not!"
DS: "Yes, you are, you're learning to speak Chinese!"
AA: [to DS] "Well are you half Chinese then, 'cos you're learning Chinese too?"
AA: "So if you speak another language you're not American?"
DS: "That's right!"
AA: "And if you speak English you're American?"
AA: "Well they speak English in England don't they?"
DD: "No they don't. It's a different language. Cookies are biscuits over there."
At bedtime, DS was still insisting that real Americans don't speak other languages. Sadly, how right he is! I had an email conversation this week with someone (who should know better) who commented on my "impressive array of language learning experiences." I had only told her about my French and (not even really minimal) Chinese, and had not mentioned German and Spanish at all! Hmm - I'm thinking maybe the kids need Muzzy for Christmas!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
The trees aren't quite at their peak colour yet, but still pretty.
What are these? Anyone know? Very pretty (but the fruit does make a mess on the ground!)
Lots of good food. The fries were even served with salt and vinegar :-) DH went on to have a kielbasa grinder (hot sandwich) after this.
Fried dough with maple cream - a tradition not to be missed, despite how unhealthy it is! Still, sharing makes it a little less bad for you!
Lots of other food offerings too. It was a bit cold as far as I was concerned for sno-cones or ice cream, but the blueberry cobbler was outstanding!
Reminders that we really were out in the country!
There were lots of wonderful craft stalls. These glass pumpkins are sold at this festival every year and I always think about buying one and then never do. Maybe next year! Without a lot of restraint, it could have been a very expensive day. It was nice to see how many of the crafters were people we know.
As always, it was a good day out.
"Mommy, mommy, it snowed!"
Funny - that wasn't in the forecast! They predicted clear skies overnight, and sunshine today - perfect for going to the Fall Festival! Ah yes, clear skies overnight - our first frost of the season! Not even a heavy frost either! How he mistook this for snow, I have no idea!
Just wishful thinking I suppose.
He's going to be SO excited when we finally DO get snow. He was talking yesterday about how he's really looking forward to it. Not because he wants to go sledding or make a snowman, but because he wants to shovel the driveway!
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I get very little junk email in any of my email inboxes. Really! All of my accounts seem to have pretty good spam filters set up and the occasional spam message that actually makes it through to my inbox is usually very obvious. More of a problem is finding the messages I actually want that get put in the junk mailbox. I have one friend whose messages more often than not end up tagged as spam. Messages from one mailing list occasionally end up there, as do all the messages from one specific business whose mailing list I asked to be added to.
About once every couple of weeks, I go through the junk mail checking to see if there's anything there that I really want before I hit delete. I can usually tell from the sender's address if it's a message I want to keep. This is a good thing, because if I had to rely on the subject line it might not be so easy!
See if you can figure out which of the following email messages in my 'junk' mailbox turned out NOT to be spam!
- Invite to my presentation
- Who called me?
- Apply for your diploma
- Win in Fiesta
- With our watches boring time will go faster
- Do it tomorrow
- Losing wieht [sic] does not have to be tough
- For humping-mania
- Need a diploma? Call us.
- Your social status will grow with a more serious watch
- Book a room and you could WIN a weekend away plus spending money!
- Please think about it
- Did you vomit?
- I'll kill you, I promise
- Nothing can amaze your special person more than a cute watch
Monday, September 14, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Around here there is not just one but several fairs within easy driving distance each year. All of them are held at dedicated fairgrounds that are used for a variety of gatherings over the year. The one we went to last weekend is the traditional end of summer event for our family, and many others, as it is always held the weekend before school starts. It is, of course (this IS America after all!) bigger than the fair in my hometown. Perhaps not so much in the number of rides, but certainly with the sheer quantity of other activities! It's a sort of cross between a funfair, Women's Institute show, and Young Farmer's Club event.
I would have said that there was nothing like our local New England fairs in the UK but I bet if we visited the Cheshire County Show nowadays we would find it very similar to the show we went to last weekend. The Cheshire County Show was in somewhat of a decline when I was growing up and we never went to it but it has changed significantly in the past few years. It's just another reminder to me of how long I've been away from the UK and how careful I have to be when speaking about it. So much has changed over there in the last 24 years! The UK I left does not exist any more.