September 03, 2011

Weekend Color over Labor Day Weekend

Wahoo, its Saturday! I don't have to work! The weather is gross and rainy, which means I don't have to debate over laying in the sun reading a book and doing things around the apartment or other things that need to be done.

The plans for this wonderful Labor Day Weekend are to accomplish fun things today while Luke is at work, drive to the parents' house tonight when he is done, and relax the rest of the weekend! I think I might call it the "weekend of f's." And no, not for the reasons you might think. Fantasy football draft with family, way too much food, fascination over Luke's baby nephew, fun in the sun and fishing with my family, frolicking on the pavement with just me and my running shoes. Ha. Some of those were a stretch to make it part of the "weekend of f's" but I think it still works. :)

Pardon me, my brain is currently all over the place and for some reason I decided to spew it into text right here for all to see.

One thing I want to do this morning while Luke is at work is gather some materials for small little projects around our place to add some color and spice to our life. Its a bit drab and some color might liven things up and make me feel a little more put together myself. Do you ever feel that way?? Maybe its the piles of things laying around every bit of open wall that make me feel we need to de-clutter and organize a bit...

Moving on. I looked through Pinterest a bit last night and this morning with a specific goal in mind: find pictures of color I have in my head that I want to transfer to real life in the form of a nicely put together living room. I think I did alright. I also looked through some pictures I saved from all over the Internet over the last year or so with the same thought in mind. Fast forward an hour and I created this in Photoshop:

Eeep! Looking at it again after being away from it for five minutes still makes me excited! I think its meant to be. I actually took these colors from a single collage of photos I had found somewhere online. I think it works! Hmm...maybe its a little feminine but we'll make it work for Luke somehow. :) The dark green is the color of the couches and I think that will help keep things a bit less whimsical and feminine for our boy Luke.

I'm off to run some errands and maybe gather some things to start on this huge endeavor I have dreamed of accomplishing. I'm sure I won't get anything even close to these colors. It never works out the way I want it. No worries, I'm still optimistic!

Hope you enjoy this Labor Day Weekend! Here's to hoping the weather perks up for us to enjoy at least a little time in the great outdoors!

August 26, 2011

UK Edition: In the Kitchen Again!

I wrote this post before leaving England and didn't get a chance to post it. Its still interesting to me so you bet I'm sharing it with you too.

You guessed it, another batch of cookies! After my brownies and one batch of cookies I thought I might try a second. This time I made No Bake Cookies because, well, they are no bake! Tasty and easy, that's my cup of tea. Or I guess not really because my cup of tea is my cup of tea, literally. But you know what I mean.

If you have never heard of or made No Bake Cookies I suggest its high time you check out the recipe. You can't go wrong with these babies! Delectable in most every way. :)

You know a sweet treat is going to be worth it when you use chocolate by Cadbury. I sooo wanted to bring this back in my luggage with me but alas, I had no room!

Now we are cooking! The sound of boiling sugar and chocolate and the smell of their melding together is dreamy. Or at least it was for me.

Remember, I'm an imperial girl working in a metric kitchen. I was not sure how this would turn out but it couldn't be too bad considering the simplicity of the ingredients. Things were looking good.

Who said using a small juice glass wouldn't work as a 1 cup measuring cup?! Worked like a charm, though its all relative anyway so maybe it wasn't that difficult in the first place. As much as I wanted to bring these with in my luggage too, I hoped my coworkers in Harrogate would have eated all of them first. I'm glad I made them while I was there and had the craving because they probably wouldn't set up as well in the hot, humid weather of Wisconsin this summer. 

A little chocolate can warm the heart and the warmth is even more welcome when the weather isn't scorching hot.

Dessert is one of my favorite things to eat. Have you noticed? :)

Where Did This Blog Creator Go?!

Hi there. Hello. Hola amigos. Good to see you.

Why yes, yes I am still alive and yes I would still like to say I contribute to this blog. Where have I been, you ask? All over. And it only gets worse (well really its better actually, but worse from a blogging perspective) from here.

Its summer time so my days are full of the usual work, people, sunshine, exercise, food and traveling to see family and friends for fun get-together events. I've been busy doing fun things not involving the Internet so often that I don't think I have even clicked a blog link for the past two weeks. Wonderful, isn't it?! I think so. Except that most of those days it doesn't even cross my mind. Also an alright thing because I am filling my time with things that don't only exist online. No no no, don't get me wrong about blog and things existing online, I'm just saying that my life currently contains a lot of things that take me away from spending time on my computer or the Internet and I'm perfectly ok with that. You see?

I hope to give a quick recap post to show you (and document) what "Rachel's first weeks back in the US" looks like. At the rate I have been going I guess we might not see that until Thanksgiving! Or at least the first snow storm when I'm stuck inside. No worries, I'll share soon.

In some ways I feel bad for not writing often because I like how this is a place I can come back to and see my organized memories and thoughts and work through things. In other ways I don't mind one bit because I'm enjoying myself and keeping my memories in a safe place so that I can write everything down when I get the chance.

One thing I have realized is that its not half as fun or convenient to take pictures of your surroundings when what you are surrounded by is always the same! I have taken a total of maybe forty pictures in the last month since being back in Wisconsin compared to the thousands I took while in England. It makes sense to me though.

I'll leave you with this one. Lets look at it as a disclaimer to remember to drink plenty of water during these hot summer days. Remember to hydrate yourself!

Now for the real explanation: my coworker, his sister and I were on our way to Leeds, England to shop for the day and enjoy the city. While waiting for the train we decided to stop at the train shop to get some snacks and rehydrate after what we like to call a fun night. Similar to needing to rehydrate while exercising, right? I asked them to take a picture of me with my water because I liked how the bottle was square, which I can see now is not very obvious from this picture. Bahh, that doesn't matter to me - its all about the memories! And good ones come flooding back! :)

Hope you are enjoying your summer! See ya 'round, mi amigos.

August 05, 2011

UK Edition: How I Spent my Last Days in Harrogate

I tried soaking in everything I possibly could the last few days I was in Harrogate, England. Food, friends and fun. As. Much. As. Possible. It worked pretty well! Though I think it also made it tougher to leave the city. Here are photos of some of the occurrences of the last few days.

Our last ride to work with our new friend.

Sunday lunch. Fish and chips from a proper fish and chip shop.

Hanging out with all our friends, including a jam session!

Not the world's greatest pictures but that doesn't make them any less important to me. :) What would we do without cameras and photos?!

August 04, 2011

UK Edition: Chocolate Chip Cookies

I couldn't resist. I had to make chocolate chip cookies. Partly for myself, partly to share with coworkers, specifically one who cannot eat nuts (because I wanted to make another type of cookie with peanut butter but didn't want anyone to feel left out - more on this soon).

Have I told you about cooking and baking in a metric-system-filled kitchen?! I had so many computer windows open converting g to ml, kg to c and so many more. Nearly every conversion needed to make chocolate chip cookies!

I bought most of the ingredients myself but borrowed flour and vanilla from a friend because I knew I wouldn't use all of it before leaving. I thought this way it would be a fair trade since said friend would (hopefully) be eating most of the cookies. Sounds great, right? Wrong.

I completely forgot baking soda is used in cookies! Ahhh! What do I do now?! I quickly emailed two friends who were soon to be arriving at our apartment to see if they could bring baking soda with them. Fail. No such luck. I pondered knocking on a neighbors door but chickened out. I thought it would be such a story to share, telling people I borrowed baking ingredients from my neighbor in England! Oh well, the story about not doing it is fun to hear too, right?

Ta da! The cookies turned out just fine without baking soda. I googled like crazy to try and find an alternative to baking soda but was left empty handed. The flavor was still delicious (uh, yeah, because baking soda doesn't really affect the flavor, hello Rachel!) and the texture didn't seem any different than other chocolate chip cookies.

Wait, they were chocolate chocolate chip cookies. Double chocolate! Wahoo! Technically chocolate chocolate, white chocolate chip coconut cookies. But they're still chocolate chip cookies to me. They may look a little different but they were tasty as ever! My coworkers thought so too. Or at least they were polite and ate them without complaints!

July 27, 2011

UK Edition: It Must Come to an End

The time has come. Today is my last day of work. My temporary change of residence is coming to an end. I fly out tomorrow. I'm sad. And happy. All at the same time.

It just doesn't seem like it should be time to leave yet. I'm not sure what it is exactly, I know there are probably many reasons.

Its almost time to say good bye to my newest home...

...and my front door step.

Its just like moving out of your home. This place has become my home. Not just the physical apartment home that I live in but my friends here are part of "home." That's the part I'm going to miss, the home I (and my coworker from the US) have made here. And yes, I cry about it. Multiple times already and probably many more.

Things won't be the same if I don't have to use my key fob to get through the front gate (or sneak through between the gate and the hedges near the grit box) and into my apartment.

Don't get me wrong, I will enjoy being home! I'm just not ready to leave here. :) No worries, I'm going home anyway.

See you soon! Probably on the other side of the world.

July 25, 2011

UK Edition: One Last Shopping Spree

All in a days work. Oops?

No, I don't think so. :)

UK Edition: Curry

Oh, how I love a good curry. It was my new found love before coming to England and now it has grown into an all out, well, I don't know, but I love it even more. If only restaurants in the US had as many curry dishes as they do in the UK. Most every restaurant or pub here has a curry dish of some sort and boy oh boy, they are scrumptious.

Bengal Spice in Harrogate was the first curry dish we had during our stay. In fact, it was on Day 2, not that I was counting or anything.

I have told some people about my new love but to the others - look forward to many more curry dishes to be prepared in our homes. :)

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is!

July 24, 2011

UK Edition: Just Another Walk

My time here is coming to an end and I leave for my real home in Wisconsin in less than five days. It has been such a fun experience in so many ways, I don't know how to put words to it. Its bittersweet knowing I'll be leaving this week but I am excited to see my family and friends when I get home!

The scenery is brilliant, maybe because it is different from the normal back home. I can't stop looking at it and enjoying what I'm seeing. I took pictures of some of the sights on the way home from work the other day. If I lived here forever I would not tire of being surrounded by these sights. Most of these pictures are from Cold Bath Road in Harrogate (you know, in case you want to see them for yourself one day).

Brick buildings, green trees, iron fences, flower gardens. You will be missed but I'm glad to have met you. 

July 19, 2011

UK Edition: Baking with Foreign Appliances

I made brownies! While living in the UK! How many people can say that?! Ok, besides citizens of the United Kingdom. Seriously, I think its incredible.

It took me a few weeks to work up the courage to bake something (other than warm up curry in the microwave) but I finally did it. The temptation to make brownies came after the best dessert (and one of the best meals when you factor in location and conversation) I've ever had - a warm, freshly baked brownie with ice cream from All Bar One in Leeds, England.

My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Sorry, I'll stop now.

Back to my baking experience. I bought this box of Cadbury brand brownie mix partly because Cadbury chocolate is delicious on its own but mostly because the box came with its own baking tray. Hooray! I didn't have to figure out what size pan to use, which turned out to be awesome because I didn't have any pan close to the size it came with.

The recipe was simple. Combine the brownie mix, add water and one egg. Mix well. Prepare the baking tray by folding the corners and inserting the tabs through the slot, ensuring the tabs are on the outside and the shiny side of the cardboard tray is on the inside. Easy enough, right? Yep, no problems there. Honestly, you thought I would mess this up? Guess again. Its fool proof. I make myself out to be a horrible chef but that is definitely not the case. Though this might be debatable after nearly two months out of a "normal" kitchen.

Eighteen minutes later, for a soft, chewy brownie...

...and beep, beep, beep! The timer went off and they were done!

Delicious brownies. Not quite as good as my inspiration brownie but definitely not bad considering they were made of powder, water and an egg. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) no pictures were taken of anyone devouring these. Probably a good thing.

I'm going to attempt to make no bake chocolate drop cookies and chocolate chip coconut cookies in the next couple days. Wish me luck!

July 18, 2011

UK Edition: Edinburgh and Zizzi Ristarante

Our journey in Edinburgh, Scotland (I've shared bits and pieces of our trip - a bit of the countryside, the castle and a view of the sea - but need to share more!) included a delicious lunch at Zizzi Ristarante. It is a stylish restaurant serving delicious Italian delicacies. I photographed our meal (ok, just my meal) because I'm weird like that and food is delicious, so why not capture the moment.

The napkins were a paper-ish material, but they were so thick! I loved that they had a quote written on the bottom. I was "this" close to saving mine (unused, mind you) and taking it home with me but decided I would probably have enough trouble fitting everything in my luggage that I decided to forgo that decision.

Nothing like an ice cold Coke in a chilled glass with lemon.

I dislike green olives but these, my friends, were incredibly scrumptious. I'm now in love with them and can't wait to find my favorite selection back home.

Italian pizza. You haven't had real pizza until you have had it the Italian way. Thin, crispy crust, olive oil, fresh, delicious toppings. Oh my heavens I want some right now (good thing we are going to Casa Romana in Harrogate tonight for tasty pizza!!).

Not the world's greatest picture of the three of us (maybe because I cut out over half of one of us) but I think it does a pretty good job of capturing the moment. Nothing is ever perfect anyway.

Can we please get a Zizzis in the US?? Soon?

July 17, 2011

UK Edition: Arriving at Scafell Pike

Got the boot all packed up, snug as a bug, ready for our big camping trip! We are lucky everything fit!

I'm amazed at the scenery here. Every time we drive to a new place on our next adventure, I can't help but stare out the window at what I see. Jaw dropped. Drooling, just a little. I'm guilty of taking pictures through the window, its that incredible.

First view of a mountain - it means we are getting closer.

The roads became even narrower and surrounded by trees after we got into Keswick and were on our way to the camp site and Scafell Pike. Once again, it means we are getting closer! Kind of trippy, isn't it? Try riding in a car on these roads, whizzing around corners, squeezing past oncoming cars.

We arrived at the site and, great news! I was the first to get my tent set up! Oh yeah, score one for team Rachel.

To be fair, the tent pops up on its own and all you have to do is stake it down. I know, getting my tent set up first doesn't quite mean the same to you now does it. All in a days work.

It was a bit rainy the first night we were there but we coped quite well. Nothing you can't handle while camping. After realizing we just bought tins for dinner (also known as canned food) and forgot to pack the can opener, we asked a neighboring camper if we could borrow his. Once again, thank you to kind people! Though its hard to say no to two people holding cans asking to open them so they can eat a meal in the freezing cold rain. Dinner was meatballs and potatoes, hoops (spaghetti o's) and hot dogs. Yum, it was delicious. We didn't know if it genuinely tasted amazing or if we were cold and hungry. Regardless, it was incredible.

Here we are, ready for the big next day ahead of us. What a crew, wouldn't you agree?! I think we make it look like we camp in the mountains all the time.

Cheers to camping and hiking up mountains! I really am ready for my next hike. :) More pictures to come.