October 30, 2015

England vs. USA

Every time I go to Europe, I'm amazed (usually pleasantly; sometimes not so much) about the differences between Europe and the United States.  Here are how things differ in a few areas...and a few anecdotes from the trip along the way.

England: You want instant coffee, right?!  Because brewed coffee is found only in select "fine dining" establishments or three (not truly widely available chains - Starbucks, Costa and Pret A Manger) chains.  Forget asking for a size.  Seriously.

United States: Instant is well...frowned up on in this establishment! LOL  You can hit a Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Tim Hortons, Honey Dew and a variety of amazing local chains no matter what direction you throw in, get any kind of drink that you want and just about any size you want.

The second day into my trip I NEEDED coffee and hit the Starbucks in Covent Garden.  After they tried to give me a hot beverage three times, and declaring that they don't have milk, I gave up and drank my coffee black.  For this "iced only" lady, it was extremely disappointing.

England: Wait, I have a horn on this car? Because I'm happy to just merge and keep going! Want to walk in front of my car; no biggie. Of course I'll get you where you're going!

United States: Did you not hear the first three times I honked?!  Merge FASTER. Stay in your lane. Do NOT walk out in front of my car. Um, is this corner close enough?  I don't want to circle the block so it's a safe place for you to exit and get to your destination.

OK...maybe I'm being a little dramatic.  But for all the time I was in London, I heard a car honk its horn three times - and once was to alert others that an ambulance was coming. That just doesn't happen here. Driving is faster, tighter (as in sometimes you are mere centimeters from the car next to you on those old roads) and much more civil there.  I can honesty say that I feel they are better drivers.

England: "Can I bum a cigarette off you"?  Sure.

United States: You SMOKE?!  Really???  Can I help you get into a smoking cessation program?

As an asthmatic, I am very sensitive to cigarette smoke.  So seeing so many smokers on the streets, huddled around doorways and bars was a little disconcerting for me.  If I were the NHS (National Health Service), my campaign for the New Year would be about stopping smoking...  Think of all the money their government could save in medical claims if they had fewer smokers.  (I know, my mind works in weird ways.)

PETS (aka your furrier family members)
England: Dogs WELCOME!!

United States:  Wait.  That is such a violation of the health code....

It's perfectly acceptable to bring your well mannered dog (not just service dog) into bars, many eating establishments, on public transportation, etc.  This is especially true once you get out of London.  If you're following me on Instagram, you got to see just a few of the many, many animals I met in bars, pubs, restaurants, on buses, trains, in castles, cathedrals and a number of other places in my travels over the past few weeks.  My heart was happy that their country has made (recent - as in the past two to three years) huge strides in allowing dogs to be fully integrated into daily life and seen as part of societal norms.  It's another thing that you'd just not see here.  Maybe someday!!

Speaking of pets, they do not have nearly the problem with unwanted animals (dog, cats, etc) that we do here and NO KILL SHELTERS!  Shelters are extremely rare, fully government funded and I hope that never changes.

England: Well, it depends where you are.  In London, you can get wi-fi without an issue at your hotel and in larger shopping areas/eating establishments.  Outside of London - it's a bit like living in the late 90's to early 2000's. Wi-fi is virtually non-existant and they are TOTALLY OK with it.

United States: Let's just say that on an average day, I'm on my cell phone, tablet, both a PC and Mac desktop and a laptop....

I'm a little ashamed to say this, but I was in almost as much tech withdrawal as I was caffeine withdrawal when I got to England.  I don't "unplug" well, so while I had my cell phone and tablet with me, I didn't have internet access often and when I did - I had pictures queued up to post and a few "must see" websites/apps.  In the countryside, getting any type of internet connectivity is a minor miracle and the folks at the timeshare told me they only got wi-fi last year and after a HUGE investment!

England: Um...ice?  You want frozen water?  Isn't regular water good enough?  And you do know that eggs and butter don't need to be refrigerated, right?

United States: "Keep refrigerated at all times".  Ice?!  Have it by the bucket full!!!

I have no problem with tap water, but I really like ice.  I enjoy beverages really cold! When we got to London, we stayed at the Crown Plaza and I was so happy to see an ice machine fairly close to my room.  Until I realized it didn't work...  Turns out they don't always keep them on.  *sigh*  But they got me ice and I was a happy little camper.  I made my own ice at the timeshare. You know six cubes at a time from the tray that came in the mini fridge!  The real problem was when I got back to London and we checked into The Strand Palace.  They have ONE ice machine for the entire hotel - a LARGE hotel of 758 rooms.  Then they add insult to injury and not only charge you money to get ice, you have 20 seconds to get your ice and the "bucket" they give you is a styrofoam quart container.  I have issues with that whole thing...

Have any of you noticed any good (or not so great) differences between the States and Europe?


October 29, 2015

And...I'm Back!

I'm back!  Those two weeks flew by! I'm a bit jet-lagged...so I need to unpack, get a bit of rest, spend some quality time with the pups, and then I'll be sharing an obscene amount of pictures with you and telling you my favorite things about England vs. my favorite things about the USA.  :-)

Stay tuned!


October 20, 2015

Tuesdays at the Table - Zucchini Fritters

Hi everyone!  I hope you all enjoyed your weekend. :-)  I'd tell you what I did...but this is one of my pre-scheduled posts.  However, it's safe to say that I'm enjoying my vacation! I'll be back in a week; well, eight days.

This week I'm re-posting a recipe that I shared back in 2012.  These zucchini fritters are delicious, although slightly less than healthy. Sorry!

Zucchini Fritters

2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
3 eggs
1 Tbs flour (coconut flour for those of you gluten free or on a paleo diet)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil (coconut oil or bacon grease for the paleo diet)

Shred zucchini by hand or in a food processor and set aside (if it is wet, blot it dry with a paper towel).

In a large bowl, beat eggs together. Sift flour into eggs and beat together. (Note: coconut flour often has clumps, hence the sifting.) Add the shredded zucchini, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a large skillet and add your desired oil. 

Spoon the mixture into the pan in desired sized fritters. Cook on each side until each side is browned and tender to the touch. (Prevent breaking by turning as few times as possible.) Serve warm.

What's cooking in your kitchen? 


October 16, 2015

Recent Reads

If you've been a follower for a while, you know that I am a voracious reader.  Most of the time!  (That whole rescue thing seems to be getting in the way recently..ha!)

My list of recent reads is smaller than I'd like...but I'm always looking for good books!

Summary: Nell McNamara has a happy life: her boyfriend Olly adores her, their four-year-old daughter Petal is the center of their world, and Nell has a steady job in the local chip shop. When the chippy needs a makeover, Nell jumps at the chance to unleash the creativity fizzing inside her. Inspired by what she can achieve—and encouraged by the very best friends a girl can have—Nell is determined to try something new. Waving goodbye to the chip shop, she starts up a new business making her own line of must-have handbags, which are soon flying off the shelves. It seems Nell's dreams are finally coming true, but her success doesn't come without a price. Before too long, Nell has to ask herself if it's really possible to have it all.

What I think...  It was a good book.  I can't say that it was in my top 10, or even my top 50...but it was a solid book.  Most people can identify with Nell wanting to explore her talent and grow - but not lose who she is, her friends or family.

Summary: Inside their picture-perfect homes, the residents of this quiet California suburb are not at all what they seem.

Lance is a former weatherman, now a buff yogi, stay-athome dad, and manager of his daughter’s Girl Scout troop’s cookie distribution. Belle is his precocious and quick-witted daughter. Darlene is a classic Type A work-a-holic, she has little time or patience for the needs of her husband and daughter

And just down the street are Alec and Wren. Alec, a womanizing businessman, is also the financial backer—and sometimes more—behind Darlene’s burgeoning empire. Meanwhile, Wren is a doting mother and talented yogi, ready to lay down the mat for a quick session with Lance.

As looming Santa Ana winds threaten to turn brushfires into catastrophe;Playdate proves that relationships are complicated and the bonds between families, spouses and children are never quite what they seem. What happens next door, beyond the hedges, in the romper room and executive office—it’s all as combustible as a quick brushfire on a windy day.

What I think...  While I applaud the author for swapping the gender roles that are stereo-typically seen, I was not a big fan of this book.  It's light and fluffy, making for a decent beach read, but I had issues with how disconnected each family was and the author's approach to inter-marital affairs.

Summary: When widow Cass's mother announces she needs to move in with her - along with sexy toyboy Rocco - Cass is horrified. It might be temporary, but the last time she lived with her mother she was a tearaway teen accustomed to illicit trysts with unsuitable boys. Now the tables have turned and mother Nita is the one behaving badly!

What I think...  This book got off to a slow start.  OK, I had to keep pushing myself through the first 100 pages.  I think if the characters had been developed more, it would have been an easier read at the beginning.  However, by the end, I was fairly invested and did enjoy the ending.

Summary: Lara Madigan has a gift. She can help you find your soulmate—your canine soulmate, that is. As a dog trainer with a soft spot for strays, she’s found perfect homes for sulky Shih Tzus, broken-down Border collies, and diabolical Dalmatians. But while she’ll always make room for one more rescue mutt, she’s not sure she’s ready to commit to another human being. Especially after her live-in boyfriend drops the bomb: He’s not a dog person.

Horrified and temporarily homeless, Lara and her furry pack move in with her mother, a wealthy fashionista who forbids even a single drop of drool. As word gets around the exclusive gated community, Lara is overwhelmed with demands for her services. A model wants personal training for her overweight “flabrador”; an aging socialite preps her pedigreed puppy for dog show domination… If Lara can survive the breakup, the outrageous requests of her high-maintenance clientele, and her dogs’ systematically destruction of her mother’s McMansion, she might finally find the rescue dog who rescues her in return– leading her straight to the guy who could be her perfect match.

What I think...  This isn't my first Beth Kendrick book.  I really enjoy her characters and her style of writing.  It was fun, a quick read and I'm a sucker for any books that have animals in them! While Beth Kendrick's books do technically fall into the "chic lit" silo, she does a great job exploring relationship and in this case, mother/daughter dynamics.

Summary: Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

What I think...  I loved this book.  It does have quite a few characters to keep straight (it gets easier a few chapters in) as the book is structured to have three main characters.  I was shocked at the secret, the stories of how everyone is interconnected and how lives were changed first by the events surrounding the secret and ultimately how their lives progressed because of it.

What should be on my reading list?

Still an Amazon Associate, peeps.  But you all know I won't recommend anything I don't believe in...and you can read from my review that I'm only really recommending two of today's five books.

October 14, 2015

London Calling

At long last, I am taking my first real vacation in a decade!!!  (The few days almost six years ago watching my brother graduate from Army boot camp don't count...right?!)

I have a few posts scheduled for you all.  Next time I'll be more prepared and ask a few fabulous people to do guest posts!  I'll be checking in from time to time...but if I don't answer any comments or emails until my return, I apologize!

I'll "see" you all in two weeks!  I fully expect a synopsis of everything I missed upon my return.  :-)


October 13, 2015

Tuesdays at the Table - Nutella Filled Sugar Cookie Cups

Happy Tuesday!  Or in my case, "OMG, I leave for my first vacation in a decade tomorrow...time to stress"! Seriously. You could all scrape me off the ceiling right now.  You know; after I finish a very long to-do list.

Friday our office celebrated National Desert Day.  I loved seeing (and tasting) all the yummy things my co-workers brought in!  It was all so good.

I made these little bites.  It was my first time making them and I think they were a hit with everyone!

Nutella Filled Sugar Cookie Cups

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease mini muffin pan.
Stir together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually add in dry ingredients.

Roll dough into walnut sized balls and place them in the muffin pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Let cool for one minute then take a tsp measuring spoon and press down making an intention on each cookie.

1/2 cup semi-sweet (or dark) chocolate chips
1/3 cup cream
1/4 cup Nutella

Heat slowly in a small saucepan or microwave safe dish and stir until all ingredients are incorperated and smooth.  Fill each sugar cookie cup with ganache and allow to set before serving.

What's cooking in your kitchen?


October 08, 2015

Dear (Fill in the Blank)...

Sorry, today is going to be a bit random.  Sometimes, we all have to just let out a little steam. ;-)

Dear Costume Companies,
I get that you all want to sell the newest and best costumes; you want to have something that is "you" and cutting edge.  But for the love of God - please stop freaking sexualizing every costume.    In my opinion, you'll sell just as much, if not more with a GOOD costume.  And maybe you'll be part of teaching teenage girls that Halloween doesn't HAVE to be sexy!  Sure, some adult women may want to wear a sexy maid or sexy nurse costume and I don't begrudge them that.

But these are real offering this year.  And I beg you to STOP!  A minion should never be sexy...

With thanks,
Someone who thinks costumes shouldn't mean catching pneumonia


Dear FitBit,
I think you're great! Even if you are pointing out how many steps I'm not taking and how much I'm not sleeping!  But I've got a tiny complaint.  I've linked you with Facebook.  I know I have friends who use FitBit too!  Why are you not finding them?!  Some of your challenges look pretty interesting...but who wants to compete with themselves?

If any of you use FitBit let me know!  I have mine set to a different email address than I blog with.

A girl who really wants to "out walk" someone


Dear Politicians,
We are a YEAR away from electing one of you clowns our next President.  Sadly, I'm already referring to you all as clowns....  If one of you all could get your act together so I feel confident you won't f-up the country, that would be super cool.

In the meantime, I'm already getting PAC robocalls which are annoying me to no end.  Stop it!!

Thanks a bunch,
The lady who really wishes we could elect Josiah Bartlet as our next President (I'll be over here watching West Wing again)


Dear Co-worker,
We work in a small office and it's pretty clear that we all have quirks.  If you could PLEASE stop encouraging certain people's more interesting quirks, as well as stop forcefully shutting your door like a petulant child when people don't have time to talk to you...well, that would be great.

Mucho gusto,
A lady who just wants a few less "what the hell" moments in her day


Dear Marketing Teams,
I'm happy fall is here.  I am!  The cooling weather, leaves changing color, apple picking, Halloween, return of my favorite TV shows...the list could go on and on!  Now, I get that you all think that pumpkin makes a fun fall flavor.  But if you could all STOP making everything pumpkin flavored, I would really appreciate it!  It's not a competition, really!

Can I suggest alternative flavors?  Maybe apple, caramel or just refocusing your existing products with fall packaging?!

With autumnal appreciation,
Someone who very much dislikes pumpkin flavored products


Have anything you want to get off your chest?!


October 06, 2015

Tuesdays at the Table - Italian Meatloaf

Happy Tuesday!! I'm really looking forward to the long weekend - even if it does mean the office is busier than normal as we try to get even more work done in less time. (As a weekly paper with a Monday "press day", we get the paper done on Friday instead of pushing our deadline to Tuesday on long weekends.)

Rumor has it that October is National Dessert Month and that there are two National Dessert Days! We picked this Friday to celebrate at work.  Be on the lookout for some yummy pictures and perhaps a new recipe too!

Italian Meatloaf
  • 1 lb. Hamburger
  • 5-6 slices of provolone cheese
  • 1/4 lb. of sliced pepperoni
  • 1 egg
  • A dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • A pinch each: salt, pepper, oregano, basil
  • Spaghetti sauce to cover
Begin by making a traditional meatloaf - combining hamburger, egg, bread crumbs, salt, pepper. Add in Worcestershire sauce as well as oregano and basil. Get a length of aluminum foil or plastic wrap and spread meatloaf mixture in an even layer - roughly a rectangle the length of your loaf pan. Once spread, put down the layer of cheese followed by your pepperoni. Then roll the meatloaf into a pinwheel or like you would sushi, make sure you do not roll the aluminum foil or plastic wrap into the meatloaf.

Cover in spaghetti sauce and bake at 350 for an hour.

What's cooking in your kitchen?


October 03, 2015

What A Nose...

For the purpose of this post...I'm going to let little miss Paisley tell you about the past few days. Her perspective on this story is much better than mine!


Hi everyone.  Iz Paisley.  Momma says I have to tell you a story...but I don't see da big deal.  She's just a nervous Nelly or something! (For the record, I'm not!)

OK, so I, da Paisley princess like to have an early morning potty run.  Usually between 3 and 4 am is best.  It's dark, I don't have to bark at squirrels and momma usually bribes me to hurry and and go back in the house.  Tuesday morning, I decided to get up for my crack o'dawn potty and stopped for a little sniff of something that smelled good.

Then I started coughing and reverse sneezing.  Just for a few minutes.  Then about an hour later for 5 minutes.  Then I ate breakfast like a champ...or um, daintily, like a good girl. A few more coughs and sneezes and I was fine again.

So momma went to work and glammy (or grammy) kept an eagle eye on me.  About 1 o'clock I kept coughing and glammy got worried and called the momma to make a vet appointment.  She told glammy to take videos of me.  Like I'm some sort of drama queen who won't cough or sneeze when we get to the vet!  The nerve!

Wouldn't you know it...we get to the vet's office and suddenly, I feel magically better!  But that bitch...I mean, my loving momma says we have to stay and get checked out. Da vet says he thinks I sniffed extra hard and have something in my nose.  But then he says to take pills and see if it comes out on it's own!  I mean, I guess that's better than sticking a camera up my nose, right?!

Thursday I had a huge sneezing fit right after momma came home from work and when I looked at her, momma said she saw something green on my nose!  So she pulled it.  Her is soooo brave.  Out came a 6 inch blade of grass!  Now I feel better and can say that I have a super sniffer!

But, um, don't touch my nose for a few days, OK?!


October 01, 2015

Sponsored Post: Glamulet & Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As so many of us know - October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  This cause is near and dear to my heart, and am so proud my mom has beat it!  I'll share more thoughts on mom and her status later in the month.

A lot of people find the easiest way to show support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month is by wearing something pink.  I totally understand that!  Pink looks good on most people and so many awesome organizations donate a portion of their proceeds back to a research fund.  I have such admiration for that!

Glamulet is a company founded in 2014 to allow women to create a mix and match piece of jewelry at a good price point that expresses who they are, celebrate a milestone or just match their favorite ensemble.  I can stand behind that.  :-) It doesn't hurt that their jewelry is really pretty!

This year, Glamulet has a campaign for awareness and has released a limited edition set of charms for Pink October.  Every set of these charms has a 50% donation to charity associated.  I love that!  Breast cancer is the 2nd deadliest disease for women around the world, and I would love to see everyone get a second chance at life with their mom, aunt, grandma, sister, or best friend like I did!

The lovely folks at Glamulet believe that if we act now, we can stop women from dying of breast cancer by 2050.  How awesome would that be?!  If you'll be wearing pink this month in support of this noble cause - I encourage you to head over to Glamulet and look at the pieces you can put together! Don't feel creative?  They offer full bracelets with charms that they think look good together!

Disclosure: I will receive a pink ribbon charm and sterling silver necklace for my participation in sharing this campaign.  I only select products and campaigns I believe in, and all thoughts are my own. 
Blog Design by Creative Girl Media