Friday, September 28

The Spanish Inquisition

What a hectic week this one has been! Hectic and eventful. To start things off Gemma broke her wrist and had to have surgery on Sunday, which put a great start to the week. Poor girl fell off the monkey bars and her wrist quickly swelled to rival a golf ball in the matter of seconds. She is doing much better now, and will soon have a bright pink cast to have everyone sign. Now, because she has so much time on her hands, she has more time to sit and think. This means it's 20 questions every time we get into the car, or she finds me making dinner, or any time she isn't doing something better than asking me questions (which isn't that often). The following are just some of the questions that she has been dishing me.

What is your all time favorite movie?

well, that would have to depend on my mood. I can't pick just one-but I can give you a relatively short list that includes: "What About Bob", "Gladiator", "Step Up", "A Cinderella Story", "Moulin Rouge" and "The Lion King".

What is the funniest movie you have ever seen?
(Again, I make a list) "ELF"(which is probably my favorite comedy movie ever) "The Man Who Knew Too Little", "Liar, Liar", "Bruce Almighty", "Tommy Boy"

you should note that they have never seen "monty python and the holy grail"!

What is the saddest movie you have ever seen? the scariest? the weirdest? the longest? the stupidest? my goodness she wanted to here about the movies I watch, which only opened my mind to how many films I have sat through. If I could have every hour spent on a movie and turn it into an hour of something productive- I would be so much better for it!

She also asked things like: What is the weirdest thing you have ever seen?
I immediately thought of that time when we were looking at those baby bears in the cage and one by one they stared sucking on each other's ears in a line. There were about 10 of them, and that was weird. I mean honestly how often does that happen? Not very.

I have also told the story about how my dad tackled the criminal the police were chasing through the soccer fields, thus assisting in his arrest. Yes, my Dad is a superhero-he is just very good at hiding it. Sorry to blow your secret!

I also have the kids convinced I am dating Zac Efron, from Hairspray. Since he is pretty much the most gorgeous boy I have ever seen it makes sense that we would be dating right? Every time a picture of him pops up on the AOL news or on the disney channel Gemma says "oh there is your boyfriend!" And I just reply with something like "ohhh he looks even better there than he did this morning at breakfast", or "I cant wait to go dancing with him tonight, too bad you kids will be asleep when he comes by to pick me up!" No wonder they like me, they just want to be friends with someone who is dating someone famous! ha ha ha.

In other exciting news I do have some trips coming up soon that I am super pumped about. The first one being a trip to Bath and Stonehenge taking place in a couple weeks! The second, and very anticipated, trip to Costa Del Sol and Seville Spain with the family! The third venture is a horseback riding weekend to Wales! I am so insanely excited for all of these events-I can hardly stand it! Yes yes, I promise to post pictures.

This week I ate a toad in the hole.


Yes, when they told me that was my reaction too. But a toad in the hole is a meal that is actually quite delicious. Since it is rather hard to describe, Check out the link that will take you to a picture and a recipe! Make it for your families at home, they will either love it or think you have gone mad. And If they love it you can feel free to credit me for the recipe. You're Welcome!

Tuesday, September 18

Alpha Mayo and Bw's

First of all, those years of German class have finally paid off. You see, for some reason my blogger account is now completely auf Deutsch. I don't know how, I don't know why, the other day it just went world war II and converted everything to German.
So I am feeling very proud that I can read the words to post yet another blurb about my life. Aren't you all so thrilled? Thank you Frau Carmiol! I always knew German would be useful to me someday.

My last post, however true it is, I thought in hindsight sounded a bit pessimistic. It is wrong of me to give off this attitude, because I absolutely LOVE everything here! So this post is dedicated to the positive, the 10 greatest things about being me and living where I do, with the people I am with. I am one lucky gal!

10) Higher self esteem. According to the kids I am "funny when I am American, funny when I am English, and funny when I'm Irish!" (I was practicing my accents...need I say more?)

9) Indian Food. You know there isn't much fast food here, but there is enough Indian food in one town to keep the entire population of Utah satisfied for a decade. I am not joking, it's all the rage!

8) Driving on the Left-Hand side of the road, where the speed limit is always 60, on roads that are roughly the size of train tracks. Thats right, it tests your driving skills and your reflexes--sometimes I pretend I am James Bond chasing down bad guys twisting and winding through the streets at top speed...then a car passes me to let me know I was going to slow. Ok so maybe I am not 'James Bond' material, but I love driving on these roads!

7) "Loo's". Who doesn't like that word? It's just fun to say, and I thoroughly enjoy myself every time I get to use it.

6) Amazing Views. I go on a walk with the dog (picture coming soon) every morning, and the views never cease to amaze me! The scenery here is very impressive-sometimes I feel like I have jumped into the pages of a picture book. Perhaps I won't feel that way in the winter when I am walking Fraz in the snow, wind, and ice...but for now-its awesome.

5) Jacket potatoes. That's 'baked potato' in American. At home we are SO boring with our potatoes, what do we do...butter them? maybe a little salt and pepper to 'jazz' them up? well not here. Jacket potatoes are big, with healthy amounts of tuna and sweetcorn mounded on top. Or if you are less of a tuna person, there is always the Heinz baked beans and cheese option. Its usually one of the two! Both are very good!

4) Location Location Location. Where I am living is absolutely perfect! Enough of the outdoor, country life to keep the nature-lover in me happy, and close enough to London to keep my inner city-girl satisfied. It is really great.

3) Fine delicacies like chocolate and squash. You haven't had chocolate till you have had chocolate here! Those of you who have tried European chocolate are nodding your heads right now and salivating at the simple memory of it. mmmmmm. It is that good. And what about squash? no no no, not the vegetable-the drink. Squash is like un-concentrated juice. You pour a little bit in your cup then fill it up with water. Comes in all flavors. Delish.

2) The kids are always quoting me when I say things like, "YO!" or "dude" or anything really "Americany". I often get told I speak like the disney channel. Probably because of my constant substitution words like darn, goodness, heck, flip, you name it...I use it. The kids think it's hilarious. They even pick up on things from stories I have told them, for example:
When my parents and I were traveling in europe, we saw big bales of hay that were rolled up into giant balls (they call them rollie-pollies here) and covered in a white sack. Upon glimpsing this wonder my dad pressed his face to the train window and cried "MARSHMALLOWS!!!" -like a kid in a candy shop. Then he took a picture of them. The picture, below, is of those "giant marshmallows".
So now that I have told the kids that story, every time we pass rollie-pollies they holler in unison--"Marshmallows!" (even though they don't have white bags on them)


*Drum roll*

1) The people. The people here are the number one reason it is sooo great! The family I am with is amazing, and we get along really well. The ward I am in is wonderful, and everyone is so nice! I enjoy every minute I spend in the company of the people here. Whether it's a day out with the family, a ward activity, or sitting and observing people in Leicester square, its great!

So despite the high petrol prices, the MSS, and the lack of fast food--life is pretty dang good.

Of course, there are more than 10 things that make living here really great, but if I tried to name every little thing this would be the blog post that never would go on and on my friends! (sing to the tune of lamb-chop)

My car, my cute car, has a cool name. 'Her' name is Bella. Not named by me (although I am rather partial to the name after reading the 'Twilight' series) but named by Gemma. You see I drive a Volkswagen, and the sign for Volkswagen is VW--as you know. Well she thought that it was a BW, and therefor named my car after what seemed to be the first letter of it's, excuse me, her initials. The name of Sarah's car-which is an alfa romeu, sounds somewhat like "Alpha-Mayo" to Gemma... so thats what we call it. Its really cute actually!

The kids and I are currently working on making a music video-of which we are nearly finished. When we are done I will put the final product on here, be prepared to be blown away by the acting skills of these up and coming stars. and I mean prepare yourselves, they are good. I am talkin duct-tape-your-chair-to-the-floor-so-you-don't-tip-over good. Be excited.

We are also making our own radio show. This one might turn out to be more embarrassing than entertaining. If that is the case then it is unlikely it will make it onto the world wide web. But you never know, it just depends on what time of night I decide to update!

I would like to holla a quick shout out to my fam damily who so frequently reads and comments on my blogs! To read about my amazing aunt juggling life with eight crazy kids, check out my Aunt Dona's Blog. You should also check out the blog of an aspiring writer in script, my cousin Samantha's blog, which is full of writing rough drafts that seem like more than rough drafts to me! She is a great writer. There is also my talented Aunt Sarah's Blog, which is always full of funny insights and pictures of everyone. I simply love it!

Tuesday, September 11

Weight a minute!

I think I have an addiction. An addiction to sugar, and carbs...and anything that is not a fruit, vegetable, or good for you. I have been trying, and recently succeeding at overcoming this 'temptation' and drop those extra pounds keeping me from entering the marathon. I happened to be watching the simpsons tonight, and I this episode was on, and if you ask me it is sheer brilliance because this is sooooo me! I feel a newfound blond to this little yellow character we all know and love as the talented, smart, Lisa Simpson. Take a look.

I think I am about to go do some cake diving now. But not before I hit up the "pound saver" menu at the local Micky D's. just kidding. Does anybody else find it ironic that you would call a menu full of items that are guaranteed to make you flab the pound saver menu? First of all if I wanted to save pounds I wouldn't spend it there in the first place. Secondly, eating that fatty deliciousness won't save me pounds, it will either make me gain them or spend more time at the gym. I think that McDonald's needs to rethink their marketing strategy.

One thing interesting about living here is that there are literally no drive throughs-apart from the one at McDonald's. It makes things oh-so-very-inconvenient. You can't find a Wendy's, Arbys, Taco Bell, Blimpie, Sonic, you name it. If you want to get food you actually have to park and get out of your car!! A novel idea in America, and I was surprised at how annoyed I was at first when unable to grab a soda or a bite when I was hungry and on the road. It's not like I used the drive through very often when they were available to me, but now that the option is gone-its really frustrating.

Convenience is something that is not a widely used concept here. There is no such thing as a Wal-Mart, Target, or Super K-Mart. Ok that is sortof a lie because wal-mart baught a chain called ASDA and they DO have everything. But we don't have an ASDA closer than 45 minutes which means I must suffer in the world of multiple stop shopping, or MSS. Now it sounds like a disease, which it should because it really makes life so much more difficult! Not to mention that over here there is no such thing as free parking anywhere. Between that and the petrol expense which is around $8.00/gallon (still complaining about $3?) driving a car has become something I dread and each trip out includes a well drawn out map and a list of places to go. It is something I am fairly used to now though, I don't know what I will do with so many convenient options when I get back! So next time you order at the McDonald's drive through, be glad the words 'pound' and 'saver' aren't staring you in the face to remind you that you really shouldn't be eating there. Next time you fill up with gas remember that no matter how high it is, there are people paying twice that! And the next time you go into your friendly local wal-mart, smile at the old people flashing their dentures at you and let them put that smiley face sticker on your shirt. They like that.

Sunday, September 9

Say Whaaaaa?!

Sometimes I think that learning a new language would be loads of fun, other times-more practical times- I realize that maybe I just wasn't cut out for it. This assessment comes from me trying to learn English. No, I know what you are thinking, "Nicole, you do speak English" but I assure you I do not. I speak American- and it is totally different. There are so many words that aren't used, words that have alternate meanings, and new words I have never heard before in my life. Now you are thinking to yourself, ' I wonder what Nicole has done to embarrass herself this time.' Well let me tell you.

Since school has started, we are on a stricter sleeping schedule which includes early to bed early to rise... (makes me healthy wealthy and wise right? well I am still waiting) So it was getting late and the kids were all wound up. It came to the point where Callum was shirtless with his trousers pulled up to his chest walking around like a crazed monkey looking for a snack. So I decided to give them just that, I handed Gemma her mini piece of chocolate, but Callum would not calm down enough for me to even put a piece in his hands. Finally Isaid in my most serious voice "Callum pull down your pants right and you can have this candy!" I know it sounds a lot worse when I type it on here, but in my head at the time it seemed like an acceptable thing to say. When everyone in the room erupted into laughter I realized my mistake. "Pants" in English means "underwear" in American. Do you see where the laughter was coming from?! I basically said "show me your willie and you will get chocolate"... I wanted to die. Good thing Sarah was in the room to witness this whole event, can you imagine the kids going back to her later and telling what happened? That would have been horrible. I was so embarrassed.

Since then, I have been really trying to keep all these new words at the tip of my mind. Sometimes I am better than others. Take a look at all these words and tell me if you could get them right every time!

advert = commercial
bloke = guy
trousers = pants
knickers = girls underwear
pants = boys underwear
petrol = gas
garage = gas station
car park = parking lot
carriage way = lane (when driving)
cleg = horse fly
crisps = chips
chips = french fries
tea = dinner
pudding = dessert
chocolate pudding = chocolate cake
cream tea = scones with cream and jam
pissed = drunk
garden = back yard
loo = toilet
lorry = truck
mobile = cell phone
nappy = diaper
nutter = crazy person
queue = line
quid = bucks (5 bucks = 5 quid)
rucksack = backpack
snog = kiss
kit = clothes
ta = thank you
sofa = couch
uni = university
washing = laundry
zebra crossing = pedestrian crossing
bin = trash
biscuit = cookie
sweets = candy
boot = trunk (car)
bonnet = hood (car)
braces = suspenders
daddy long-legs = mosquito eater
Courgette = Zucchini

And believe me, there are so many more that I just can't even name. Its amazing how we speak the same language but often times don't understand each other at all.

One good thing about England is that there are no poisonous spiders or snakes here. Thats right they are human friendly and wont kill you. Well thats not entirely true, I am still waiting for the day where a completely harmless spider pops out to say hello and gives me a stroke. But so far, so good. For anybody who does not know about my intense, and really over the top phobia of spiders let me tell you that it is extreme and sometimes quite ridiculous. Any encounters with spiders usually leave me fleeing the room in a panicky sweat waving my arms and screaming. Well I live in the country, so spiders are more than plentiful. The other day I was sitting in the conservatory and a spider came barreling into the room at ramming speed right towards me. Uh yeah, I freaked. I bolted into the other room and one look at my face from Sarah told her that there was a spider where I had just come from. By the time I gained control of myself I realized I was literally 'glowing' (thats what they call it when ladies sweat like pigs) and I had real tears coming out of my eyes. It was that scary. Brave Sarah took care of the spider, and it made me feel better when she told me it was the biggest spider she had ever seen here in England. SEE there WAS a good reason for me to freak out. It took another half hour for my breathing to return to normal.

After hearing that story you will understand my reaction to the next one. Sarah and I were shopping at our local Sainsbury's (grocery store) and just about to check out. We were talking and discussing the items we had in our overflowing cart to make sure we hadn't forgotten anything when I saw something move on her neck... as I came to grip with the fact that there was a little gray tarantula-looking spider trying to eat her for lunch, I tried to spit out the word "spider...shoulder" but nothing came out so I just turned around and ran. Yes, I am a retard I literally ran down the aisle. Behind me I heard a scream from Sarah and it took a good 3 minutes before I could actually come back down. She said that the look on my face was like that of sheer horror, like her worst nightmare was right there, and though she didn't know what was on her, the look I had was enough to make her scream. I guess my facial expressions are pretty darn impressive.

Whew now thats over with, I can tell you about my humiliating antics today! At church as soon as I arrived, one of the bishopric came up and announced to me that we had no chorister- and would I please fill in. OH BOY. If you are wondering if I have ever conducted anything in my life the answer would be no. Though I can count music because of my piano experience and I know what the hand movements look like through many years of daily choir practice- it's still not even close to standing up in front of sacrament meeting and leading the congregation. I have such severe stage fright that no matter what I know, I always second guess myself into doing the wrong thing even though I know I know the right thing. If that even makes any sense at all! So it was only a 4/4 beat measure and I managed to foul it up the first 2 verses. Oh yeah, and somehow it eluded me that when leading music, you are actually supposed to sing. I caught on about verse 3. Someone made the comment after sacrament meeting "I really enjoyed watching you lead the music today." So I must have been more entertaining than useful up there waving my hand like my mother was in the back row. I guess it's good though, hopefully I won't be asked to do that again! See-there is a silver lining in everything.

Maybe I take that back, I was asked to speak next sunday in church and sing a solo in the next few months, date TBA. Grrrrreeeaattt. Oh how I love being new in the ward.

I am thinking about changing the title of this blog to "embarrassing moments and how to laugh at yourself when feeling ridiculous." What do ya think?

Tuesday, September 4

Finally Europe

Ok so I finally finished this little slide show for the Europe trip I took with Mom and Dad. It's not a proper "video" its just a jumble of pictures thrown into my editing program. I will make a real video for it sometime in the future, but this will have to do for now for anyone who wants to see pictures and hasn't had the chance yet! Enjoy.

Saturday, September 1

Smiles all around

Today was the first time I have ever had sparkling water, and yes there is an embarrassing story accompanying this experience. We sat down for dinner tonight up at the country club (fancy shmancy) and for my drink, as always, I ordered water. Well Sarah ordered a pitcher of sparkling water and just pored me a glass without even thinking twice. Now sparkling water is very deceptive- it wants you to think it is regular water so it saves the sparkles and tingles till after you have put it into your mouth. At this point you can either spit it out (which most people won't do) or gulp it down. I gulped. A look of shock inevitably seized control of my face and then... a giant grin. I looked as though I had just found a winning lottery ticket, first surprise, shock, maybe disbelief followed by sheer happiness and uncontrollable teeth flashing. They even felt the need to point out my reaction to the waitress who was probably silently wondering why everyone was laughing. Don't worry, it doesn't end there. This water has an effect on me I never thought possible. Every single time I take a drink, I smile. Now this is no ordinary smile that comes over me. It is a huge grin, eyes squeezed so close together one might wonder how I still see out of them type of grin. And the best part is that I totally and completely 100% cannot help it. It's truly strange. I even tried my best not to smile, but when the sparkling water explodes in my mouth and on my cheeks, they gravitate upwards. Its amazing, I am thinking of entering myself into a science lab to be tested on this, maybe make some extra cash. Anyways I was considering some of the circumstances where this water would be useful.

instance #1-Bad Date
Your out to dinner, your date is a total bore. He keeps making these ridiculous jokes and you don't know how much longer you can keep this absurd smile on your face. The waitress asks you what you are drinking and you are thinking vodka...martini...when sparkling water slips out. By the time the waitress brings you your drinks your cheeks are numb and you know she is in the nick of time because you were about to explode. You grab your glass like it's chocolate cake and take a sip... and what happens next? Tingley amazingness hits your mouth and you smile, for real this time because this water is like a party in your mouth. Wow. You order another one before the waitress can set your date's drink down... at the rate he is going you know you will need at least 4 others before the food arrives, but at least now you are enjoying yourself. Thank you sparkling water!

instance #2-Walking
Did you know sparkling water comes in a bottle? Well, amazingly enough it does. So to brighten your day, and everyone else's by grabing a bottle. Spend that extra pocket change, and you will be glad you did. When you are walking down the street, simply sip the water every minute or so. When the flashy smile bursts onto your face people passing you by will think "there is no way ordinary water can make a person that happy, they must be smiling at me!" and then they will perk up, walk a little taller, and smile back at you. Basically you will get a free smile because you didn't have to try to put yours on. Then that person will think of you the rest of the day as 'that nice woman (or man) that smiled at me.' And who doesn't want to remembered as that. Go on, make a difference in the world, drink sparkling water.

There are many more instances that I thought of, but I think you pretty much get the point.

I have now decided that I should pursue a career in advertising, as I type I am envisioning some killer commercials.

If you can think of a good sparkling water moment or instance in which you can see it being useful, feel free to share. It would make me smile!