Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Want to Travel...

So someone posted this on facebook and I just had to share it  (apparently it comes from so all credit goes there).  Anyway, I am a huge proponent of the importance of travel.  While part of me is a homebody (meaning I'd rather stay at home with a good book then go out and party), I am also the sort of person to get restless if I stay in one place too long.  As much as I am loving London, I am ready for an excursion to somewhere else, whether it's somewhere as close as Brighton or Bath or as far as Italy or Morocco.  I am getting too used to London--I take it for granted now and don't appreciate it as I should.  The solution?  I need a little diversion!

But rest assured I love living in London.  There as so many great museums, so many fabulous restaurants, and a million and one ways to be entertained.  I'll be the first to admit I haven't taken as much advantage of my stay here so far as I hoped I would.  Studying has always come first, and the cold weather has often stopped me from wanting to venture outside.  What a shame!  Now that spring is approaching, I hope to be out an about far more often.  :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Disney Obsession Reaffirmed

So anyone who knows me knows how I am more than slightly obsessed by Disney.  I love fairy tales, happy endings, and the sweet feeling of nostalgia when I watch a Disney film.  So I bring you a few Walt Disney quotes I stole from Disney's facebook page.  :)

Ah.  Walt Disney.  Thanks for all the good times.

My next post will have pictures I took of Harrod's Disney Princess window display.  Fantastic!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Shakespeare Bollywood Style and Other Unusual Things

So this is kind of a late review, but better late than never I suppose.  On the 11th of October I had the chance to see the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Much Ado About Nothing.  This has long been one of my top 5 favorite Shakespeare plays, so I was really excited to see yet another interpretation.  The last time I saw it performed (in Arizona), it was set in 1930s Argentina.  I thought this change actually worked pretty well and gave the play new meaning.  So what was the requisite added twist here in London to make the play more interesting?  It was set in modern Delhi, India, and the whole cast were, well, Indians.

It was like a Bollywood film had come to life.

Particularly awesome were these 3 scenes: the ball where the Prince woos Hero in the name of Claudio, the 1st [unsuccessful] wedding, and Hero's [supposed] funeral.  The ball and the wedding were full of colorful costumes and Bollywood-style group dances.  Hero's wedding dress was particularly awe-inspiring.  I had never seen a Hindu-style wedding costume in person before, but wow are they the most intricate, pleasingly gaudy confections I have ever seen.  It almost made me wish I had a reason to wear one of those red, sparkly masterpieces one day...

But I digress.  The funeral was also fascinating.  They had an already 'used' but smoldering funeral pyre center stage as is Hindu burial custom, and during the whole scene it rained onstage to exemplify the sorrow and remorse Claudio felt.  The production and cast definitely gave a well-worn script a new life.  I'd definitely recommend this production...but it closes at the end of the month so unless you are in London in the next week, I guess you'll just have to watch the Emma Thompson / Kenneth Branagh version (but I'd highly recommend that as well).  :)

Regressing now to a topic of a past post, I must confess a new favorite chip flavor: 'lime curry pickle.'  It sounds strange but the flavor was pretty much strong hints of lime, chili, and the teeniest bit of curry powder.  I'm not really sure where the pickle came in.  However, it was pure junk food bliss.  I think it's only available at the chain cafe/bakery called Pret-A-Manger.  Hopefully it is not limited edition...I'll have to check because if so, I'll definitely have to stock up.  Honestly, I can't even express how good it is.  You'll just have to try it yourself.

Friday, October 12, 2012

43% Chicken

Ever have one of those moments when you bite into something and it just doesn't taste like you expect it to?


So I'll's hard to cook here.  The main reason is probably due to the fact that my flat doesn't have full refrigerators--we just have a few mini ones in the kitchen to share between 7 people.  There's no real freezer space either.  If I want to buy lots of separate ingredients, there is simply no place to put them.

This means I eat lots of prepackaged meals.  It's not my ideal eating situation, but I manage.


I'm finding that the prepackaged meals with meat to say

For last Sunday I bought a roast beef and Yorkshire pudding meal.  This is the quintessential Sunday dinner in England, and the meal looked pretty good.  Not only did it have roast beef, gravy, and a Yorkshire pudding, but it also had roast potato chunks and peas with carrots.  I decided to try it out.

The vegetables and the Yorkshire pudding were great.  It reminded me very much of the stuff my mother makes for Sunday dinner.  But the 'roast beef'?  It turned out to be rather rubbery and had a rather unpleasant didn't really taste like beef to be honest.  To be fair though, it could have just been that meal, right?

Well, tonight I had some 'southern style chicken sticks' (as the label proclaimed).  I cooked them, and low and behold on my first bite I think, hmm, that isn't precisely bad, but it doesn't really taste like chicken.  What do you know.  I noticed the 'chicken' inside the breading was kind of purplish colored.  Suspicious!

I look on the packaging and discovered the filling was only 43% chicken.  What?!  What was the other stuff?  Apparently flour, mustard powder, onion, potato, and beet root (hence the purple coloring I imagine).

Um.  Okay.  I never really got it why packaging in the U.S. always exclaimed proudly on the front '100% real meat'.  Now I know.

I think I'll cook my own meat from now on.

P.S.--Lindsay, I tried the 'Prawn Cocktail' potato chips.  They were actually surprisingly good.  They didn't really taste like shrimp though--more like cocktail sauce.  They had a nice tang to them.  :)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Subject: Chip flavors

...or should I say, crisp flavours...haha.  

Going to the grocery store in London is always an adventure.  I was pleased to see they stocked Mexican food necessities (like tortillas, taco shells, and guacamole).  I was even more excited at all the Indian food options.  I lo~~~~ve good Indian I'll have to try some recipes to see how good I am at cooking it. :)  My greatest thrill was seeing all the grocery stores around where I live stock peanut butter.  I don't know if it's because of all the American students in London, but I fully appreciate it.  Life will be good.

Now if only they stocked Diet Coke with Lime...

...But I digress from the important subject.  The potato chips here come in the swankiest flavors.  Cream cheese and bacon.  Aged cheddar and red onion.  Vinegar with sea salt and cracked pepper.  And my personal favorite, caramelized onion and balsamic vinegar.  Heck.  Yes.  Good thing the Brits have 4 meals a day including tea.  It gives me more time to try all the crazy cool food.

Intro to Living in London

So.  As the title suggests, I am now living in London.  Crazy, but true.  I begin (tomorrow!) classes for my MA in International Studies & Diplomacy at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).  I'm kind of beyond excited to say the least.

I arrived on September 19th with my excellent mother in tow.  For the past week and a half we've shopped, gone sightseeing, ate great (and not so great) food, and basically enjoyed ourselves immensely.

So far I've visited Buckingham, Windsor, and Kensington palaces; I've also been to the Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and I've admired Big Ben and the Parliament buildings.  I strolled through exhibits at the Royal Academy museum as well as the Victoria & Albert Museum.  I went shopping in Knightsbridge (Harrod's, mostly) and on Oxford street (my favorite stores: Ted Baker and Selfridge's).  I strolled through Hyde Park.  And that's only the beginning really.  I'm here until June 2013 when I graduate.

This is just the introduction.  More substantive blogs (with some humor hopefully) will be added soon.  I'll write about some of the worst meat I've ever tasted.  I'll write about how my university campus is literally right next door to the British Museum.  I'll write about hilarious British slang I hear.  I'll write about my weekend trips around the UK and Europe.  So yes, rest assured, I've got tons of interesting things to write, and the best is yet to come.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The joke's on me!

So I had the wonderful opportunity of being humiliated in front of strangers this month.  Oh, don't worry, the fact that they were strangers was nice, because I'm sure I'll never see any of them again, but still.

The story you ask?


Anyone who knows me knows that I secretly (or not so secretly) believe I am a Disney princess.  I mean, I like to sing, I like fabulous dresses, I like playing with small animals, and I like happy endings.  I mean, come on--what's not to love about a classic Disney movie protagonist?

So when I heard about auditions being held in California that were looking for girls with a height between 5'0"-5'3" to work on the Disney Cruise Lines as a princess character-look alike, I thought that here was finally my chance.  Blessed with my great stature of 5'1", you're saying I could sail around the Caribbean dressed as a fictional royal, and get paid for it?  Um, yes please.

Thus it was--very last minute--my kind mother and I made a decision to take a road trip to CA in order to chase my new-found dream.

I arrive at the audition location and look at all the girls around me.  Heh.  Most of them were over 5'3", and as mean as this sounds, many of them were not very thin or very--um--cute?  Anyway, I silently felt I had already triumphed.  Everyone seemed to be looking at me--probably knowing I looked far more the part than they did.  I was going to be a shoe-in.

After I signed in and was measured by the staff, I noticed lots of people wearing dance shoes and stretching.  I saw people practicing dance steps.  How showy, I thought to myself.  That's not even what they're looking for.  I probably should mention that I currently am recovering from a particularly nasty sprained ankle (long story, but let's say that I can walk fine with my brace on if it's not for long distances).  Anyway, due to this I thought it best to just sit quietly reading a book until the organizers finally announced they were ready to start.

The posting of the audition online said there would be a "movement" involved.  Pssh.  I can 'move' with the best of them.  If they wanted to watch me walk across the room like a princess, I can do that no problem.  If they wanted to watch me smile and giggle and wave to crowds, sure.  If they wanted to see me do some basic choreographed steps, fine, I can handle it.

But dance?


Anyone who knows me knows that I secretly (or not so secretly) am a horrible dancer.  I mean, I guess I can handle some pretty hardcore line dancing at one of those school-sponsored functions (Electric Slide anyone?), but real true dancing?  If you talk about different spins, kicks, and steps in that French terminology and you might as well be speaking Swahili.  I took some ballet classes when I was five and a jazz class when I was probably nine or ten.  And that's it.  I remember nothing.

And guess what?  The organizers of the audition had decided that a simple 'movement' was going to morph into a full-on choreographed dance.  They said it was going to be fairly simple, but that "probably many of you will feel over your heads.  That's fine.  Just smile and have fun with it!"

I started to get really nervous.

And...well, to make a long story short I was one of those in 'way over my head.'  Let's be clear, if I had known this was going to be an audition for dancers I would never have come.  Ever.  This audition was not posted under the list seeking dancers (there was a separate list I will have you know).  I know what my strengths are and dancing is just not one of them.  It's like showing up for a medical exam when you're a law student and expecting to do well.  Since I had driven all the way to SoCal from Arizona, I wasn't going to walk away before trying, but maybe I should have.  I mean, despite my normally poor dance skills, remember that I also have a sprained ankle to deal with.

As for the dance...there were kicks over your head and tons of spins and turns and jumps and complicated footwork...and I could barely keep up.  We practiced it only a few times before we were called up in small groups to perform in front of judges.

Ugh.  I try to block out unpleasant memories, and this is one of them.  Let's just say I bumbled my way--very ungracefully--through the ordeal, and then practically staggered off the dance floor when it was over.  The other people auditioning turned away from me, embarrassed for me.  And I refused to let myself think.  If I thought at all I knew I would want to die then and there.  And as I don't really want a premature death, I focused solely on the time--when will this be over, when will this be over.

Finally, the day was over and I was allowed to leave while those deemed to be professional dancers stayed to continue the audition process.  I called my mother who was at a hotel, and she came and picked me up, and we drove home to AZ.  That was that.  No cruising the Caribbean as a Disney princess for me.

So the moral of the story?  There could be several.

-When auditioning, be aware that 'movement' could very well equal 'professional level dancing.'
-Be brave and do things that might be over your head.  It builds 'character.'  (?)
-Don't dance on a twisted ankle.  My ankle got a whole lot worse and backtracked in its healing process.
-Real Disney princesses probably don't work on cruise ships.  ;)

Have a great day!