Saturday, January 17, 2009

Portion control is not in your control

Chips (or 'crisps' as they are called here) come in multi-packs in the UK, not in one big bag. I suppose the thought behind that is for people to choose just one little bag to eat at one sitting, as opposed to devouring the entire sack. My initial thought was that maybe the powers-that-be here in the UK don't trust the citizens to choose a reasonable portion for themselves...maybe they've seen too many fat Americans and blame the obesity on our unlimited access to Costco-sized bags of potato chips and 500 channels on the tv. Then I tried a few of these UK crisps, and the reason behind multi-packs and single-serving bags quickly became apparent to me: the crisps are f-ing AWESOME. No one should be trusted to not eat their weight in these things...I mean, seriously.

The UK's version of Cheetos (puffs) is Wotsits...and OHMYGOD they are better than the best Cheeto you have ever tasted. There are also these little potato rings called Hula Hoops...they are so tasty, plus they come with suggestions for games to play with them. The last kind I love are called Quavers...they are puffs, too, but different than the Cheetos-esque Wotsits.

And the individual packs? Well, I'm still looking for a way to hide the evidence.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

That's some seriously pasteurized stuff

Just so you know...

In the United Kingdom, the date is written day/month/year. Not month/day/year. Good to know when reading expiration dates on volatile products such as milk, which apparently won't still be fresh come December 1st.

I know, it throws me, too. Just add it to the list of things that confuse me here. Not that I'm keeping such a list, but for those of you playing at home, a list might come in handy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bad Form

It would be considered bad form to keep a list of things I dislike about living in the UK...after all, the country, in general, has been pretty good to me so far. However, if I were to make such a list, it would have to include BT - British Telecom.

But I'm not making such a list.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The freaks come out at night (apparently so do the boobs, cursing and nudity)

British TV is similar to the TV in the states with one big exception. In the US, one either has to pay for a channel like Cinemax (aka: Skinamax) to see gratuitous nudity at 7:00 pm, or have a satellite dish able to view the east coast's HBO (assuming you live on the west coast.) In England, boobs and bad words don't wait for the kiddies to go to bed. Yes, the really bad stuff does wait until later, but "really bad" is just a relative term. "Really bad" is just another way to say, "local girl with cordless phone and internet wants you to call her and watch live on until five a.m." When I say local, I mean that not only have I seen the gals from northwest England, but while in Edinburgh I was also fortunate to catch a few Scottish gals writhing on their beds with a phone. I was tempted to call them and tell them how ridiculous they looked but realized it wasn't my place to do so. Rather, it is my place to mock them on my blog.

My expectations were pretty much met, though. My frame of reference for television shows in England consists of Prisoner Cell Block H (
and The Benny Hill Show ( so what did I expect? My views of the world at large are made of such childhood shows combined with spending the past 15 years listening to NPR.

Keen and insightful, I am.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Where in the world am I?

How many times have you said, “Welcome to my world” or “I’ve been there” with the intention of sharing some empathy? When you say it, it’s usually to someone who has experienced something similar, if not the same, as you. That experience can be an interaction with another person, a situation in public or private – you name it. The essence is still the same: I know how you feel.

Well I'm in someone else's world right now and I don't know whose it is. But I'm pretty sure no one knows how I feel.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Saturday, January 3, 2009

It is with great regret that I must inform you: Dinner, as you know it, has been rendered extinct

After living in a hotel for a week and having to eat most meals out, then moving and getting settled and grabbing food on the go or getting carry-out (or 'take away', as they say here,) I thought that a great way to make our new house feel like a home was to have a home-cooked, easily recognized entrĂ©e that wasn’t the British interpretation of our American fare. I strongly felt the need to create a family meal around which we could all recapture that secure, familiar feeling…you know, the one that has you thinking, “God, I am so fortunate! So blessed! Look at how wonderful my life is!” (And how tasty my food is.)

I was having a difficult time getting the seemingly simple meal put together, though. Here’s a sampling of how it went:

Want some pancakes? Okay, but I have to make the batter from scratch…I can’t find any pancake mix. And the recipe is in metric, and I don’t have a scale. The pan will only cook the middle of the pancake when I do it on this burner. Try a different burner? That one will only cook the outside of the pancake. No matter what, the pancake is gonna stick to the pan, too. It is apparently fake Teflon. The nasty scrapings that might pass as a pancake aren’t going to taste the same in the absence of maple syrup…ANOTHER product I cannot find. (Sigh.) I’ll just make you a PBJ.

Let’s try some grilled cheese sandwiches, or turkey and cheese panini! Oh, yeah…well, we can’t exactly do that easily, either. We first need to melt the butter to spread it on the bread, and we don’t have a microwave, so let’s melt it on the stove in another pan. We also need to warm the turkey and the cheese in yet another pan before we put it on the sandwich. Why? Because it will otherwise be cold in the middle of the sandwich since even the lowest setting is still too high to keep the bread from burning if it is on there for more than seconds at a time. Therefore, our family meal of sandwiches will be served one at a time, over the course of 45 minutes.

How about stir-fry? We have that cool new wok from Ikea. Uh, yes, but we need to buy oil as well as some sort of stir-fry sauce for the veggies and meat. Those kind of things we always had on hand at home, and I took them for granted.

I know…we can have spaghetti! Brown the ground beef, boil the noodles…. ummmm…. wait a minute. Where is the colander?

Bacon…yes, bacon. We are in the LAND of bacon, after all. We’ll have some bacon!

So, with great optimism for the family meal, I went to the butcher shop to get bacon, of which there are like a dozen kinds. There’s the kind that is really just ham (as we Yankees know it.) Then there’s the strip of it that has the oval shaped piece ham still attached. There’s the kind that has about a quarter of the bacon strip alongside the oval shaped piece of ham. It’s not easy to find the kind that’s just the strip. In addition to the multitude of shapes and kinds, they also come smoked, unsmoked, with or without the rind. Yes, the rind – the SKIN. The PIG’S SKIN. Now there’s a lesson learned that won’t soon be forgotten.

Here’s how the whole thing went:

Me: Look, babe! I got the kind of bacon you like, the kind the kids like, and it’s all in ONE PIECE! How cool is that? I gotta tell you, it was kind of stressful standing there in line at the butcher shop. As soon as I start speaking, everyone stares at me. Then, I can hardly understand what the butcher is saying to me as I ask a few questions. Plus there’s this line behind me and I’m feeling like they are all sighing and rolling their eyes because I’m taking too long. But the butcher shows me this stuff and I was all like, “Bonus!” because it has the two kinds of bacon and it costs the same as the other kind!
(I proudly place the wrapped package down on the counter and Husband starts to open it, wondering where things went so horribly wrong that his once cool wife was now capable of bubbling with joy over a few slices bacon.)

Husband: Sweet....we're all starving. I’ll start cooking it.

I walk away to start setting the table. A meal at last!

Husband: Ummmm, hon…can you come over here, please?”

I bounce back into the kitchen, anticipating something great…like I’ve purchased the Cadillac of bacon and Husband is going to show me how perfectly it cooks up.  Or not.

Husband: The skin is still on the bacon.

Me: Whaddyu mean? Bacon doesn't have skin, Husband. (I look at the bacon, searching for something brown, hairy, and gross. He’s out of his mind, I’m thinking. How DARE he stomp on my great bacon buzz?) Where? I don’t see any skin. That’s just fat…trim it off.

Husband: No, that's skin. Feel it…it’s all rough.

Me: Hell no, I’m not feeling it!

Husband: (He points all along the perimeter of my previously perfect purchase) See? It’s the skin. It’s the stuff they use to make pork rinds….you know, like if you trim this off, drop it in a deep fryer, it’ll go like this (he makes a frying-like noise) and then puff up like a Cheeto.

Me: I’ve never eaten a pork rind in my entire life. (As if this princess-like statement was furthering the conversation or solving the problem.)

Husband: (Rolls his eyes) Glad to hear it. (He turns back to the counter, grabbing a knife.) I’ll just trim it off. Next time, ask for rindless bacon. (He starts to cut it.) Man, this shit’s NASTY.

Me: (Agitated) Who the hell wants bacon WITH rinds, anyway? What the f*#* do these people eat around here? (I walk to the family room, where the boys are hungrily and patiently watching TV.) Boys, it’s gonna be about 20 minutes until dinner is ready.


Son 1: Didja burn something again?

Me: No, I did NOT burn anything. It’s just that – (I pause. If I say there’s pigskin in there, they are going to run in and want to see. If they touch it, I’m going to have to make them wash their hands for like 20 minutes.) - it’s just going to take some time to fry up all the delicious bacon, that’s all. (I return to the kitchen to gather the bleach spray and rubber gloves…I don’t know if the trichinosis bacteria survive through the smoking process, but I’m not taking any chances. This place is getting a sanitizing.)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

(Insert sound effect for moaning and whining here)

You'll need to read the prior entry to "get" this one.
So here is the sample of one of my journal entries, written verbatim from the notepad I scratched it on as I was laying on my side on my bed, having cast myself there in as dramatic of a fashion as possible. (Remember the disclaimer that I was overly-tired, overly-hormonal, and just overwhelmed in general.)

So I am giving up at this moment. You could play Abba's Greatest Hits right now and I would just lay here and sigh. You could have Dr. Zhivegas ( ) show up to play a concert just for me and Kristin and I'd still lay here and sigh. I think I'm willing myself to bleed to death via heavy period. Or maybe I just need to change my pad...or my 'towel' as they so yuckily call it here. Anyway. Here's the deal.

I couldn't get the shower to start and Son 2 was standing there, ready to get in. Then, I couldn't get it to drain very well and Son 2 was standing in his dirty shower water and I hoped he didn't have any open wounds on his feet to get infected because we don't have insurance yet. Then the shower head would not stay mounted and I got all wet trying to make it stay up there. Then I couldn't find one of Son 2's slippers but I want him to wear the slippers because I feel like the carpet here isn't clean enough. Then I tried to re-bake the cookies I just baked because they weren't actually done in the middle and instead I just burnt them and all I have to show for the trouble is a mess to clean up from making them. And no dishwasher. Then my feet got cold but I can't wear my slippers because they are too big and I SO want to wear them because they are new and fuzzy and red, but a UK size 8 is NOT the same as a US size 8, but how was Husband supposed to know that???  Then I went downstairs but came right back up because the kitchen is mess AGAIN and I can't deal with it. Then I came into my room to be sad and to pout and my room is dusty and has clothes on the floor to be washed and crap that has no place to go since we unpacked and so much stuff (like my pajamas) that is still missing because so much of our stuff is STILL in the US and can't be shipped because there is no way to pay for it because our bank account in the states is upside down because someone stole Husband's debit card number and charged so much on it that it overdrew our account but we didn't know for over a week because we aren't there in the US. Plus our stuff is imposing on Geoff and Katrina who have already been imposed on enough by my stupidity. Then I saw my reflection in the mirror and it is so f-ing ugly with the bad hair and lack of regular beauty products. Then I think I have to go find Son 2's other slipper so I get up and can't help but notice the dust as I walk down the steps, but to vacuum is such a huge ordeal because the filters and stuff have to be washed afterward because the house is so f-ing old and has so much dust. Then I see my computer and I really want to get online but then I realize I can't because of BT and the overall lack of customer service in this Godforsaken place I am living right now. My poor children, stuck with a mom like this. Ugh.

See...I told you it was dark.