Saturday, 26 December 2009

Gingerbread Castle

We made an enormous Gingerbread Castle this year. I really enjoy making Gingerbread anything, and since I was in Montana . . . and my Dad and Brother-in-Law had built the 2 foot tall catapult in July, I thought . . . Well, it really needs a castle to siege, doesn't it?!? So, the Castle had to be big enough to be fun to destroy. We made it 25x25" wide/long and 23" tall. Told you it was enormous! Here's the finished product (I'm holding the tiny catapult for the photo.)
We finished the castle on the 23rd, so Christmas Eve, we took it down to the Hospital to brighten the patients' holiday. Our original idea was to take it round the Childrens' Ward, but they'd manage to get all but 1 kid (who was about 1 year old, so too young to enjoy it) home for the holidays. So, we took it to Oncology (Cancer) instead. They LOVED it. We'll pick it up next week before I leave (going to Lois' for New Years) and catapult it :D

If you'd like to read the whole story, along with tips and tricks for making your own gingerbread creation, visit my ScrapBlog. If you'd like to download the plans for the castle, they can be found here. You can either leave them as is, or scale them down. The Full Plan has all the pieces, but in small size. They are in scale to themselves, though, so if you want to make a tiny version, you can. If you do make one, please leave me a note? Either here or on the Scrapblog. And a link to a photo would be awesome!

Friday, 25 December 2009

Happy Christmas

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Christmas, and all the best of luck in the New Year.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Dashing Throught the Snow!

Dashing through the snow,
In a 2 horse open sleigh.
Or the fields we go, laughing all the way. (Ha! Ha! Ha!)
Bells on bobtails ring,
Making spirits bright.
What fun it is to ride and sing this sleighing song to night!

Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells!
Jingle All the Way!
Oh, What Fun It Is to Ride
In a 2 Horse Open Sleigh, Hey!
Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells!
Jingle All the Way!
Oh, What Fun It Is to Ride
In a 2 Horse Open Sleigh!

A day or two ago,
My mother booked a ride.
And so we set right out,
My parents by my side.
With friends we rode along,
Across the fields of snow.
Hiding in a groves of trees we saw a little doe!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Santa's Been Delayed

Got sent this photo from my Dad. I was actually sitting in the room when he opened it, and he laughed so hard he couldn't breathe. It's great.

What I wondered, though, is . . . what do you tell your kids? Are they going to end up with nightmares about Santa crashing into an airplane? Will they worry that they won't get their pressies because he's a red smear across the nose of a plane? And . . . what about the reindeer? And, wouldn't smashing into Santa bring the plane down?!? At the very least, it'd put you on the naughty list for the rest of your life!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Driving Home For Christmas

One might well ask, 'How is it possible to drive from England to the Untied States? There's that pesky little bit of water in between.'

The answer, of course, would be, 'Start in Canada.'

Yes. Canada. Why Canada? Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Rather than going to Georgia or Texas and then up, I went from London to Calgary, Alberta. I was supposed to connect to Denver and then to Billings (yes, I know. It's ridiculous.) However, we were an hour late leaving Heathrow, and then we had to circle the airport for half an hour before we could land. I'd nearly missed my connection before I even left the plane! I got through Canadian customs very fast (I ran to be at the front of the queue) but then got stuck waiting for 30 minutes for them to decide to deplane our luggage. Finally got that, walked over to the connecting area, and they said, 'Your plane is gone. You'll have to rebook.' Nice. That was the last plane Stateside for the rest of the day. After quite a long discussion with the airline personnel, we came to the conclusion that they couldn't actually get me to the US for 48 hours. Uh huh. 2 days. Ummm... it's only an 8 hour drive!!!! So, we decided (the reservation woman and I) that it would make most sense for me to cancel the rest of my flight, and drive to Billings. So, I canceled my remaining flight (and got a refund). [color=red]NOTE! DO NOT DO THAT UNTIL AFTER YOU'VE DEFINITELY FOR SURE GOT ALTERNATE BOOKED!!!![/color] Then I went over to the car rental desks and tried (note the word TRIED) to get a car. Umm, turns out you can't rent a car in Canada and return it to the US. Or, you can but it's very difficult and quite expensive. So, there I am, in a foreign country, no way out, jetlagging major time. I didn't actually burst into tears, but it was an effort. I called my folks (again) and just as I was starting to tell my mom the full situation, the manager of National Car Rental comes up and said, 'You'll never believe this. We've just had a US car returned, and we need to get it back across the border. I can give it to you for 1/2 the price of a domestic, turn up on the day rental. That's $150 plus tax.' (Canadian dollars.) Umm... YES! I'll take that! :D So, I drove out of Calgary last night.

Stayed the night in a tiny little . . . I hesitate to say town . . . just north of the Canadian/US border. It was that small. It was a hotel over a bar. The room had a bed, a light, and a sink. That was it. (Everything was very clean, just very spartan.) Smelled faintly of smoke. Didn't care. It was 10.45 pm local (6.45 am London!) and I was tired. Very tired. I was asleep before 11. But, by 5.00 in the morning, the random plink-plink noises the radiator was making got to be too much for me. I got up and hit the road.

And then, the border crossing. For the second time this year I've managed to confuse a US Customs Officer on the US/Canadian border. Last time it was because my answer to 'Purpose for visiting Canada' was 'To get a haircut.' This time it was 'Driving from England to the US.' Ok, so what I actually said was 'In transit from England to the US.' But, I got an equally blank look. (The answer to the previous question - How long were you in Canada? - was, 'Over night.') So, then I had to explain why I was now driving, instead of flying to Montana. Eventually he gave up trying to understand and just sent me on my way. It was funny.

Finally, I got to Billings a little before noon today. Yeay!! I'm home!! We immediately drove up to the airport to return the car, then stopped off at WalMart for necessary supplies (DIET COKE!!!!), and now we're back.

I'm tired!!!!!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Thank You, Vandals!

Today is my last day of teaching for the term. Every Monday I've been heading into London to teach my Language in the USA class at Queen Mary University of London. And I turned up at the train station this morning to catch my train in, only to discover that vandals had stolen the signal box (or something to that effect) up in Wittham, so trains into London were cancelled. All of them. For the whole day. In other words, I ain't gettin into London today! Which, of course, means my class is cancelled. So, I rang the office and told them that I needed someone to put a note on the door and email the students to try and let everyone know. Exciting way to end the term!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

A Little TOO Much Excitement!

This last Monday I came home a bit early from London, intending to get to bed before midnight. Normally on a Monday night I don't get in til gone midnight, so getting home at quarter past 11 was quite good. Unfortunately, the gods were against me. I live on the corner of a street (more or less, it's kind of complicated, because the actual street I'm on is a close, and it's really more of an extended drive than a street. I'm ignoring that for the moment, so you'll have to just sort of go with it). The street my house is on (for the purposes of this essay) comes to a T-Junction, just a couple doors down from me. So, I'm driving up the cross-road (the top of the T) on my way to my road from the Station. At the T, I turn right, onto my road. Up ahead, opposite and a couple houses down from my house, I see an orange glow. And then some sparks. And the top of a flame. And then . . . it blossoms. An enormous housefire. I quickly parked the car and ran up the road to see if anyone had called it in. Someone had, and in fact, the fire brigade was just arriving. We ended up with 6 trucks out there, and they stayed til after 11.00 the next morning. And then came back at 2.00 in the afternoon!

The Fire Photos:

Due to the location (next to an Electrical Relay Station and a Gas Mains) we were unsure if we were going to be evacuated or not, so it seemed a bit pointless to go off to bed if they were just going to come knocking at our door to send us off somewhere! And anyway, who'd want to miss the excitement?

I ended up meeting all these neighbours I didn't know. I only knew the 5 families on my close, and the people I share a back fence with, so there were a lot of unknown neighbours there. Was really quite nice to meet all these lovely people. In fact, I've been bumping into them all week at the Co-Op and the Local (Pub). One of them, Jean, said to me, 'I don't see you for 2 years, and all the sudden, you're around every corner!'

So, it was well after 2 in the morning when I finally got off to bed. Fortunately I didn't have to be up crazy early on Tuesday. However, what I didn't know was there'd been a power cut. Daylight, though, not such a big deal. Except. Except. Except that it's Winter! And winter means Cold! And no electricity means no HEAT! We eventually did get electric back. It wasn't til sometime in the late afternoon, though!

I went round to the house and the owners let me take a bunch of photos. I'd met them the night before. What was tragic about the fire (apart from the fire part, of course!) was that it was the original house to the area. Fortunately the owners had not been living in the house. But, it was sad to see such a piece of Colchester history destroyed. The land has had a house on it since the end of the 13th Century (1200s), and this house since the middle of the 14th Century, with additional bits being added on in the middle of the 17th Century. This whole area was once owned by the author Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe), and his daughter lived in this house.

Here's what it looked like in the cold (wet) light of day:

Sunday, 6 December 2009

T Minus 10

I'm heading to my folks' house in 10 days!! But who's counting? Oh...right, me. And my mom. Possibly my dad, too. It's been a really rough term, and every day's been a bit 'just get through today'. Well, this next week looks like it's going to continue in much the same way. I'm going to be working like a mad woman all week just to keep my head above water. As many of you know, I'm a big holiday decoration fan. I always have up my Christmas Tree (usually sometime in November!) and garlands over the windows and down the banister. A wreath on the door. Yummy smellies throughout the house. Not this year. I didn't even dig out the wreath for the door. Yep, that's how pushed for time I've been.

And speaking of time . . . I'm out. Gotta get back to work.

Monday, 30 November 2009

The 6 Month Curse

I moved to this Ward (church congregation) in September 2006. I got called as the Young Single Adult Sunday School Teacher. 6 months later, I got called as the Primary Song Co-Ordinator (but not released from Sunday School). 6 months after that, released from both Primary and Sunday School, called as Ward Missionary. 6 months after that, released as Ward Missionary, called as 1st Counsellor in the Young Womens. 2 weeks later additional calling as Ward Music Co-Ordinator (Seriously, what's up with the music callings?!? I'm not particularly musically talented, though I enjoy it.) 6 months later (well, ok, 8 months), released from Young Womens (but not Music). Moved to USA for 6 months. Called there to be Humanitarian Co-Chair. Released from that. Moved back to England. Released from Music. Called to be 2nd Counselor in Relief Society Presidency. (Which also means I've now served in every axillary of the church that I'm eligible for, within this one ward!)

It's now nearly 6 months later.
I'm thinking, I'm the 2n Counselor in the RS.
They don't change those positions very often.
I'm safe.

Tuesday, 23rd November.
My phone rings.
'Sister Beck?'
'This is the Stake Executive Secretary.'
(Stake is Regional Church Organisation. 8-12 Wards make up a Stake.)
'The Stake President would like to see you. Tonight. Can you come in?'
*Gulp* 'Yes, sure.' *Gulp*
'Great, 8.00 alright? Sorry about the late notice.'
Who are you kidding?!? THANK you for the late notice. Now I only have one day to sit around wondering why the Stake President wants to see me.

8.00 rolls around. I'm up at the Church, waiting outside the classroom that President is dong interviews in. He's running a few minutes behind. Everyone and their dog is at the chapel. 'Hi Adele. What are you doing here? In to see the Bishop?' 'No, Stake President.' 'Oh, Temple Recommend?' 'Mmmm.....' I leave it trailing off. I'm not really sure how to answer that question. (We're not really supposed to say anything about new callings til the official word is given, in Sacrament meeting on a Sunday.) I finally get to escape into the interview. (Who knew going into an interview would ever be an escape?!?)

'Sister Beck, we'd like to extend to you the call of Stake Relief Society Secretary.'
Umm.... Come again? It must have been interference from my racing heart, but I could have sworn you said Stake Relief Society Secretary. Oh. You did. I see. Umm.... You do know I'm dyslexic, right? You don't care? Oh. Ok. Umm.... Righty then. 'Ok.'

So, now I'm the Stake Relief Society Secretary. Seriously. When I called my family, they laughed at me. Thanks for the support! I'm looking forward to it, but have NO IDEA what a Secretary is supposed to do. Guess I'll be finding out, won't I? Someone up there is having a laugh, that's all I can say.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I truly love Thanksgiving. Partly it's the food. Who wouldn't enjoy a holiday where the main component is eating?!? Other holidays include food (4th of July Picnics, Easter Dinner, Christmas Dinner . . . ) but Thanksgiving is food. However, as much fun as eating all that luscious bounty is, I love more than just that. I actually enjoy the whole week. You start the preparations ages before hand.

Here in England I get to cheat a bit. Since there's no competition for the food at the supermarket, I can do my shop on the Wednesday, which means everything's nice and fresh. (I always try and get a fresh turkey from the Butcher, rather than a frozen one, so I don't have to worry about defrosting. But even on a year when I get it frozen, that's still the only thing I get ahead of time. (*Edit* This year's was horrible! There were simply no juices to use to baste. Not impressed. It wasn't dry, but it wasn't up to my usual standards, either.) In any case, the preparations start at least the day before.

Making the Desserts. This year I went with apple pie and brownies with this yummy (and very easy) moose. It's been ages since I made pie, though, so I was a bit worried about the crust. Had a bit of left overs, which I made into a quiche for dinner. Wow. I needn't have worried. Flaky, buttery and soft. :-)

Oh the lovely smells! One of the best bits about Thanksgiving is all the delightful smells. Many times I enjoy that part more than actually eating anything. Oh so yummy. And none of the drawbacks to actually eating it!

Family. I've been known to be terribly homesick for the whole week of Thanksgiving. It's one of the days that I most wish I were with them. Probably mostly because I know they're all together laughing and having fun without me! I've never liked being out of the loop. Fortunately, we've come up with a few creative solutions. The best bit is Clever Endeavour. That's a board game we've had since I was a teenager. Clues are read out and you have to figure out what the object is. You get more points for getting it sooner, but if you guess wrong, you lose points. Points move you forward (or backwards!) along the board. But the game is really all audible, not visible or activity based. So, I can guess, too! So, we always play that or Double Talk (similar idea, but based on Puns). It's great fun, and one of my favourite traditions.

Friends. Since I can't be with my family, I choose to be with my friends. I invite people I love to come share my Thanksgiving Dinner. I choose different people every year (although there have been a few overlaps!) so that as many people as possible get to find out what Thanksgiving means. This year I had 6 guests, only 2 of whom were Americans.

That's what I love about Thanksgiving (apart from eating the food, which obviously is part of the list). So wonderful. A day dedicated to feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Love it!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Essay Marking Blues

I collected the midterm essays on Monday. If that isn't depressing enough to make someone sing the blues, I don't know what is! I've finally realised the reason I got such good marks as an undergraduate. It had nothing to do with how well I understood the material, and everything to do with the grasp of punctuation usage! The prof was so pleased that s/he could follow the sentence from one end to another that s/he didn't actually care about the content. And I'm not even talking about complicated things like semi-colons and hyphens. I'm talking mastery of the full stop! Don't get me started on comma usage. *shudder* Would you believe that in this set I've actually had a submission which ends nearly every paragraph with . . . ? Yeah! No lie. Talk about a Dot, Dot, Don't.

I'm reminded of these comics from PhD Comics:

Fortunately, there was a remedy for my soul's anguish this week. Saturday was Down Home Blues night over in London. It's my favourite dance night in the month, and not just because I'm a Blues Junkie. It's awfully nice of them to put the venue across the street (literally) from the train station I arrive at! It's awfully nice not to have to travel the hour into London, and then an hour across London! Terribly decent of them to cater to my needs thus.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Found this video on Cute Overload. It's an African Ringneck (probably Blue Mutation) talking to his new 'friend', the stuffed bunny. It's really funny, especially if you like birds, which my family does.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

So You Think You Can Jump?

Thanks to KellieBean for this link....

You've never seen jump rope like this. Seriously. Amazing.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Crazy Busy , Yet Nothing To Report

How is it possible that I can be quite so insanely busy, yet have nothing interesting going on? I've fallen into a routine of PhDing, Christmas Present Creating, Church Duties, Teaching and Dancing. This week I didn't do either the Teaching or the Dancing, because Queen Marys is on Reading Week, and the Dance Class was canceled (room unavailable). If you're interested in the Christmas Present Creating, head on over to the ScrapBlog. For the Church Duties, I'm now responsible for running the Relief Society (our Women's Organisation) Blog, plus I'm frantically getting ready for the monthly activity next Wednesday. It's Christmas Crafts, so I've been running around making sure everyone who's doing a class is sorted, plus getting my supplies for the class I'm teaching all ready. PhDing is same as always. Working away. Every day. Pretty boring to watch. I appear to just be staring at a sheet of paper. Every so often I'll switch to a different sheet of paper. And if you're really lucky, I'll start typing! *phew* Such excitement. *Fanning face after such exertion*

So, that's my week!

Sunday, 8 November 2009


I'm not sure what it is about November that sparks the British Memory. You've got 'Remember Remember the 5th of November', and then, the next week you've got Remembrance Sunday, followed, of course, by Armistice Day on the 11th of November (the end of WWI was officially declared and the peace treaty signed in the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). In any case, today's Remembrance Sunday, roughly equivalent to the American Memorial Day.

During the end of October and up through the 11th of November, Britain is awash with poppies. The 'Poppy Appeal' raises money for the families of service men/women who've died in the line of duty. It was lovely to see so many poppies at church today.

So, to you who serve: Thank you. You put your lives on the line. You protect us. You put everyone in your country over your own needs. That's an incredible act of love. I pray for your continued safety every day.

To you who send your husbands/wives and sons/daughters off: Thank you. You parents have taught your children selflessness. Something that's in an increasingly short supply. You spouses give these men/women the support they need at home to be able to do these dangerous jobs. You're equally deserving of our gratitude. You are also in my prayers.

To you who've lost friends and loved ones: Thank you. I grieve for your loss, but I celebrate the cause. They have not sacrificed for nothing.

As most of you know, I'm a religious person. I very firmly believe that those who have offered the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf are taken into God's arms.

"Greater love hat no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" John 15:13.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Guy Fawkes Night

You gotta love the Brits! They don't have our 4th of July excuse to blow things up, so they came up with their own. It's called 'Guy Fawkes Night', or Bonfire Night. It celebrates the day that the Gunpowder Plot was foiled back in 1605. Guy Fawkes was supposed to have been the lead Catholic conspirator to blow up the Protestant Parliament and King (James I). So, every year on the 5th of November, they have bonfires and burn a Guy in effigy. Yep. Really. Oh, and they set off a load of fireworks, too.

So . . .

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd (or by God's mercy*)
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring. (Holla*)
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
And what should we do with him? Burn him!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Happy Halloween!

Hope everyone's having much more fun this holiday today than I. Nothing exciting planned. England doesn't really 'do' Halloween. I don't even have a costume. :'( Too much else going on in my life to try and plan a Halloween party. Anyway, enjoy! Hope you have a fabulous, slightly spooky day.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Baking Day

One of my very dearest friends in the entire world came to visit me this weekend! Jill lives up North, near Sheffield, where I used to live. We were in the same Ward (church congregation), which is how we met. She had to come down to London for a lecture (to do with her MA). Now, the trains are funny in this country. They stop running at very odd times. In this case, trains stop running from London to Sheffield around 7.00pm. That's a bit early, if you ask me, but they didn't. However, it meant that Jill couldn't get home on the Friday night, because the lecture didn't get out til after 8. Because I live just on the inside of the London commuter zone, trains run to Colchester til nearly 1.00am! So, she came to stay with me. Yeay! Friday evening we just sat and chatted. We don't get to see each other as often as we'd like, but we've got one of those easy friendships that you can pick up again at any point, and it's like you've never been apart. Saturday, when we got up, it was raining. Rainy days, to me, are Baking Days. Cakes and cookies turn out much better when the air's humid. So, we dug out all sorts of ingredients and made: brownies, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and baked bean/cheddar grilled sandwiches (for lunch). I know, the sandwiches sound odd. But they're really amazing! It's something she and I concocted together several years ago one day when I was round her house. They're really yummy, and perfect for a rainy day! It was awesome to see Jill. I really hated to drop her off at the station to go home in the afternoon. I miss hanging out with her every week.

Monday, 26 October 2009

My Scrap Life

I've got a new Blog. Don't worry, I'm not discontinuing this one. I'm just branching out. I also figured I'd try out a new Blog Writer, so it's over on Wordpress. We'll see how I like it.... Figured, it's good to learn new skills. It's a ScrapBlog, though. It's dedicated to my Scrapbooking Habit. If you want to see what I do with my photos after I take them, that's the place to visit!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Mud Puddle Mayhem

Just got sent this video. Not mine (though I'd loved to have seen in in person!), but I had to share it with everyone! It's so cute :) And proves that the allure of mud puddles spans the species gap. (Elk Calf)

Finally Getting Better

I've been fighting this horrible sinus infection since June. I'll start to get better, then come back down with it. It's been so frustrating! Well, this week I went (back) to the doctor (again), and she's now got me on an even stronger antibiotic, and in addition she's given me a steroid nasal spray. I'm not a huge fan of taking medicine . . . as in, I'd rather use peroxide to kill off the buggies, because they won't develop immunity to that! However, there comes a point when you've just got to get well. 24 hours after starting the new regime, I felt worlds better. I hadn't realised how poorly I'd felt! And I'm still not at 100%! Rather shocked me how far away from 'well' I'd been. But, I'm finally on the road to recovery, I think, touch wood. Let's just hope I can stay healthy for a while.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Gravity's Pull

Contrary to everything you've ever been taught in physics class, gravity's strongest pull does not actually emanate from the object with greatest mass. Going down in elevation does not increase the pull of gravity on your body. Gravity actually pulls towards your mattress. And it's very difficult to escape its gravity field! It keeps pulling me back down.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

When Ooops Doesn't Cover It

I think my Grandmother's least favourite word in the English Language was 'Ooops'. I remember as a teenager helping to redo her kitchen, and my Dad told my cousin to say 'oops,' so he did. And Grandma (in the other room) says, 'What?!?' It's one of those moments I'll never forget.

Anyway, I had an 'Ooops' moment today. Except, I'm not sure that 'oooops' quite covers it. I'd made some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and had put the cookie sheet into the sink to soak. I plugged the drain, and turned on the water, and made my mistake: left the room. I was sitting down working on my computer when all the sudden I realised I'd been hearing the sound of water, falling water, and loads of it. I jumped up and ran into the kitchen to turn off the water and assess the damage. Fortunately it was really just a bunch of water on the floor, and it cleaned up in a hurry. But it was an impressive mess!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Back In The Saddle Again

My year doesn't start in January. It starts in September. Kind of funny, I guess, but it's true. The calendar year's never made much of a difference, and I guess since I'm 30 and my whole life has revolved around the academic year since I was 5, that's not much of a surprise. But, yet again, the year has started. I'm back teaching at Queen Mary University of London, and I'm back in the PhD game at Essex, too. Yep, the fun never stops.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Leading Cause of Napping

Haaaaa! It's so true! That's the reason the PhD Offices all have the comfy chairs; for 'reading articles'. Uh huh. Right.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

You Know It's A Terry Pratchett Book When . . .

As many of you are aware, I'm a huge Terry Pratchett . . . excuse me, Sir Terry Pratchett . . . fan. There are several Hallmarks of a Pratchett book. I just started reading the latest Diskworld, Unseen Academicals, and thought:

You know you're reading a Terry Pratchett book when
  1. It takes 4 paragraphs to finish the first sentence.
  2. There's a footnote in the footnote (and occasionally a footnote in the footnote in the footnote!)
And that was just reading the first sentence in the book!

I've also got a few for the 'You know you're a Pratchett Fan when . . .' list:
  1. You can pronounce Capitol Letters.
  2. You swear in Nac Mac Feegle.
  3. You have First Sight and Second Thoughts.
  4. You can translate Orangutan.
If anyone has any additional items for either list, PLEASE add them in the comments!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Good Bye Summer

Well, Autumn has arrived full blown to Essex. It's gone chilly, damp and term has started. I broke out the woolies, hoodies and jumpers, turned on the heat and am headed to campus to register tomorrow. Yep. Summer is definitely over.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

РОССИЯ (Part 2)

Sorry . . . got distracted. Queen Mary's term has started, so I've been kind of busy getting the administration end of the course I teach sorted.

The cruising bit of the trip was fine. I'm not much of a cruiser. I'm more of a hiker/swimmer/doer, if you know what I mean. However, I've been fighting this horrible sinus infection since June, so just sleeping most of the day was kind of nice. The touring bits of the day were, except for the first day, pretty much the same. Get off, go see a church. Go see another church. Go see another church. Go back to the boat. Yep. Loads of churches. And I have to admit, by the end of it, I was pretty churched out. I liked seeing all the spires all over the country side, but every single church had the same story: This church was built 800 (900, 600 pick a year) years ago. The frescos were damaged in a fire 200 years ago, but were restored. The Soviets wanted to knock it down, but turned it into a museum (storage space, office . . . pick the new use) instead. It's been returned to the Russian Orthodox church (or will be within the next 2 years). There's only so many times I want to hear the story, if you know what I mean. But, like I said, I really enjoyed seeing all the onion domes all over the country side. The whole country is peppered with them! And I can only imagine what it would have looked like before the Soviets. They tore down hundreds of churches! It's really quite amazing to think about! (Actually, there is a colour photographic record of Pre-Revolution Russia! See this link to the Library of Congress.)

Moscow was very different from what I imagined. When I think of Soviet architecture, I think of square, cement, austere, grey . . . very much what we saw in St Petersburg. Moscow, though, was nothing like that! And not because the Russian Federation has done anything about it. In fact, most of the coolest buildings were done in Stalin's time! He even had an architectural style named after him: Stalin Gothic. Yep. Crazy, eh? There are these 7 tower buildings (called the 7 sisters) -- originally meant to be 8, and an 8th has been built recently, but is not considered one of the sisters -- with spires and turrets and all sorts. They're gorgeous. They'd fit right in next to the Chrysler building in New York. Stalin commissioned them for the 800th Anniversary of something or other. And even the normal apartment buildings built during that time are pillared and statued and carved. Not at all what I had expected.

Obviously Moscow's St Basil's Cathedral was the most important thing for Grandma and me to see. We'd only been talking about it for 18 years, after all! So, when we (finally! You've never seen traffic like in Moscow!!) got to Red Square ('red', by the way, is a slang term for 'pretty' or 'beautiful'. So the Soviets being 'Red' wasn't because of the colour, but because of the idea that it's a beautiful or cool idea.) we walked across the car park, behind the cathedral, and were crushed to discover that we couldn't get into the Square! Our guide took us around the side, up to the GUM (think Harrods in London or Watertower Place in Chicago. Major, expensive shopping centre.) where there was another entrance to the Square. And it was closed too! So Grandma and I sat down in the shopping centre and enjoyed a piece of cheese cake and a Diet Coke (well, a Coke Light). Eventually our guide took us back out of the GUM, and somehow managed to sweet talk one of the guards on the Square into letting us into the Square. See, this was the confusing thing: the Square itself wasn't closed. Just the 3 entrances we'd tried. However, there was one on the far side of the Square that was open. So, there were loads of people inside. So this guard let us cross the closed bit into the open bit. This meant, Grandma and I got our photo in front of St Basil's Cathedral! Hooray! We found out later that the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitriy Medvedev, had decided he needed to do a bit of shopping in the GUM, so he walked across Red Square from the Kremlin to the GUM. Umm . . . why, then, were we allowed into the GUM, but not Red Square? I'm so confused!

Well, that's most of it. Except . . . if you make it to Russia, I highly recommend seeing the National Russian Folk Dance Show at the Kosmos Hotel. It's about 2 hours of some of the worlds best dancers ever. It was gorgeous, well choreographed, exquisite costumes and some of the most amazingly executed dancing you've ever seen. Anywhere. Brilliant.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

РОССИЯ (Part 1)

I just got home from a fabulous trip to Russia with my grandmother. This was the fulfillment of 18 years of dreaming. When I was 12, Grandma and I went on a tour of the Eastern United States. We started off in New York City, and in our very first hotel (the one right outside the Twin Towers . . . ) there was a convention of some sort for cooks. They'd had a gorgeous display of spun sugar confection buildings. But, we're not talking tiny little things. They were enormous! (Yes, that's me at 12.) So, we've been talking about seeing the real thing for a long time.

Our trip was a Uniworld Cruise from St Petersburg to Moscow on the ship ΛИТВИНОВ (Litvinov). When we got on board, we found our cabin. And Grandma took one look at it and said, 'um . . . no.' It was really tiny, but that wasn't the biggest problem. The beds were foam, but not very good or thick. And because of the lack of space (we couldn't even get our suitcases and ourselves into the room at the same time!) there was no room for a chair. Grandma's arthritis means she needs both a good mattress, and a good chair. So we upgraded to a larger room. She was much happier there, as there was ample room to sit and read, and the chairs were 'adequate' (her word). Now, we'd been warned that the accommodations would not be up to the European standards of luxury. However, we've not been terribly impressed with the standards even taking that into account, considering they were charging European prices! The consensus (between us and several other passengers) was, if you're looking to do a cruise in Russia, don't use Uniworld.

We started off with a tour of St Petersburg, hitting all the major sites. We saw the Church on the Blood, Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Hermitage/Imperial Winter Palace, Peterholf Gardens, St Isaak's Cathedral and all the canals and bridges of the city. However, it was a very fast tour. Just a jump off take a photo and drive on to the next site. we didn't actually go into any of the buildings. Later days we went into the Hermitage Museum (contained in the Winter Palace) and the gardens (didn't go, it was raining pretty hard!) and the cathedrals. I went to see the Church on the Spilt Blood (named for the site where one of the Czars was murdered. Alexander I, I think.) It's completely covered from floor to ceiling, wall to wall, in mosaics. Pretty impressive.

The Hermitage was amazing. It is unmatched in my experience in its opulence and over-the-top decor and everything guilded-ness, and really, it felt obscene and vulgar. I mean, it was beautiful, but the enormous split in quality of living between the Imperial Family/Court and the average person was disturbing. After wandering the halls of both it and the Catherine Palace (also called the Summer Palace), you could really see how Communism got started in Russia. And in fact, that is the reason these palaces have survived. The Soviets used them as propaganda museums. 'Come see how the Imperials trod on your fathers' sort of thing. And when you consider things like the Amber room in Catherine palace, you realise the amount of money and resources that went into this lifestyle. When it was recreated after WWII, they sorted through 6 tons of amber, and used 800 kg (a little less than 1 ton). That's an amazing amount of amber, when you think about how light it is! But possibly my favourite parts of both palaces were the floors. They were gorgeous! And all I could think of was how amazing they'd be to dance on . . . yeah, I'm a geek. A dance geek.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Seizing the Firebird

You may have noticed that I've changed my banner. The new one is a photo of the Black Lacquer Box I bought in Russia. The painting is of the Firebird Myth. The Russians use the Firebird much the same as we use Carpe Diem. So, I thought that it was a fitting banner for my blog. As you'll notice, the prince in the box has already got hold of the bird. He's Seized the Firebird!

P.S. -- I'm home. Or, had you noticed? ;-)

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Got My Travelling Shoes On

Right.... I'm packed and we're off to Russia. No internet (wow! How am I going to survive 14 days without access?!?)

Monday, 31 August 2009


So much fun, aren't they? My gran came in this weekend. She was originally scheduled to land at 10.50 pm, Saturday. She rang Saturday morning to say, my flight's been delayed. Won't be leaving til 4.30 pm. Which put her getting into London Heathrow at 6.15 Sunday morning. Oh the joys. I ended up getting up so early I might as well have not gone to bed! We're more or less recovered (we were both in bed, asleep by 10 last night!) But this weekend we're off and . . . well, flying, not running . . . again. Destination? St Petersburg, Russia! So, I'll be away for a couple of weeks, but watch this space. When I get back, I'll be sure to post some photos. St. Petersburg - Moscow, cruising down the Volga River!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Seizing the Day on Planet Mithi

Visitors!! I love having visitors. And these ones were extra special. Mithi and Drew (whose wedding I attended in July) are 2 of my favourite people, ever. They're very playful, which is right up my alley. I know Mithi from my London dancing days (as in, Living and Dancing in London, not my current, Live in Colchester, Dance in London habits). It was so much fun having them come! For most of Sunday afternoon, we sat around my kitchen and garden, chilling out, Hoola Hooping, having dinner and talking. Drew knows a few Hooping Tricks, so he taught me how to do them. It was really funny. Mithi watched, laughed at me getting it wrong, took photos and dodged runaway Hoops! Then we went up to the Uni and fed the ducks and had a wander through the park-like grounds. We ended up back at mine, swapping music, talking, sharing crazy youtube videos and funny Internet sites til gone 1 in the morning, at which point we decided we really needed to crash. We all toddled off to our respective beds, Drew and Mithi being the first to sleep in my brand-new guest bed (delivered the previous Thursday!) Apparently it passed the test, because they say they slept great.

Monday morning I made cornbread waffely/pancakey things. I have this pan that has 7 little waffle shaped circles (6 around the perimeter, one in the centre) and it creates a waffle pattern on pancakes. It's really cute, and really yummy, too. After breakfast, we puttered around the house, figuring out what we'd need to do a couple of DIY projects. Then we went to every DIY store in Colchester, and found almost none of the bits we needed! I'm going to have to import them from the US (grumble grumble). But we did manage to get 2 mirrors hung. One in the guest bedroom, and one in the stairwell. So, that's two projects off my list. Somewhere in the middle of that we took a break and had gorgeous open-faced sandwiches (suggested by my fabulous sister, Lois). Then Drew took off for home. Yes. Just Drew. Mithi had to be in London today, so she stayed behind, because it's closer to get into London from my house than from hers. So we went down to the local crafty shop and wandered around. Mithi's an artist, so she had fun looking at the random things that are available here in Colchester, as opposed to there in Bristol. And we walked up to the Castle Park, and wandered around there for a bit. Finally, we ended up back near my house, at the local kid's park. It's got a physics jungle gym. We ended up watching the stars come out as we sat on this crazy net/swing. Then we came home and had dinner, and Strawberry Pavlova! With loads of strawberries and silly amounts of whipped double cream. Yum! We tried to get to bed reasonably early, but it was still well past 12 when we made it. Oops. We managed to get up around 6 this morning and get Mithi to the train station for 7.

Thanks to Drew and Mithi for the lovely visit!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Through Your Eyes

Have you ever wondered what you looked like through someone else's eyes? I've often wondered, because it seems like whenever I see myself (either in the mirror or in a photo) whatever my worst feature is at that point (it varies from day to day and month to month) is all I can see. Like, if you've got a spot on your chin, it's all you can see, even though no one else even notices. Well, recently I saw a photo of myself from the summer of 2006, and all the sudden, it was like I was looking at a photo of someone else. I wasn't entirely objective (I don't think you can be, even if you're actually looking at a photo of someone else) but I wasn't nearly so critical as I have been. Maybe it's part of maturing. Or, maybe I was just so much closer to my perfect body weight that summer that I'm jealous now. Funny thing is, at the time, I actually couldn't see it. Gave me new insight into people with eating disorders. I've never been able to understand how someone as thin as various cadaverous Hollywood stars could look at themselves and see fat . . . and yet, I distinctly remember feeling like I wasn't thin that summer. But looking back, I was! I looked really good, not overly thin, just fit and shapely. It was an interesting experience. Hope I can keep that perspective (though considering I still feel like I'd really like to lose 5 pounds, I'm not holding my breath.)

Monday, 10 August 2009

Hooray for Hooping!

At the wedding in Bristol the other week, I saw a bunch of grown people doing something really odd . . . they were Hoola-Hooping! And not just the swinging it round the waist sort of thing you did as a kid. These people were dancing with a hoop for a partner. It was beautiful! And it looked like such fun. So I started asking around and found out some of the details for where to go and what to get to start hooping. I ordered my hoop, and it arrived last week! So, all week long, I've been playing with it. I'm not quite ready for any competitions . . . but I've got the hang of keeping it going for as long as I want. It's brilliant. So much fun. Can't wait til I start getting the hang of moving it up and down my body. If you're interested in seeing some serious hooping, have a look at this. Enjoy!

P.S. - It's brilliant exercise.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Books I Have Read

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

Copy this and bold the ones you have read.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

Total: 9

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

Total so far: 16

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

Total so far: 24

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma-Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Prydaine Cycle - Lloyd Alexander
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hossein
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

Total so far: 30

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

Total so far: 35

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafo
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Total so far: 40

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

Total so far: 44

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

Total so far: 50

80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

Total so far: 55

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 The Eyre Affaire - Jasper Fford
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Grand total – 60 (Don't forget, I did my Undergrad degree in English Literature)

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


I love visitors. It's so fun! One of my students from BYU has been on a study abroad to London. So he emailed me and we met up for dinner one night in London. Then, last week he emailed and said they were going to be leaving for a week of travel before heading off home, and would I mind if he came to visit for the afternoon before they left? I said, of course come and visit! So he and his roommate from the programme came and hung out with me all afternoon. They arrived around 4.00, and we headed up to the castle, where we enjoyed the last hour of the museum. Then we ran back to my house and got stuff for crabbing on Mersea Island. When I suggested it, I figured we'd be there for half an hour, or so. No. We were there for an hour and a half! We had a ball. It was so much fun. There were all these cute kids with their families crabbing along side, and they were so friendly wanting to know how many crabs we'd got, showing us theirs, etc. The boys were very surprised by how much fun crabbing was, and kept saying how much fun they'd had and how pleased they were that they came out, rather than staying in London for their last day.

After crabbing, Jacob wanted to swim in the North Sea, just to say he'd done so, so Garret and I hung out for 5 minutes whilst Jacob had a quick dip. Then we packed up and went back to mine for an Indian take-away. I'd tried to choose things to do/eat that would be truly typically English, as opposed to stereotypically Hollywood myth English. And it sounded like the boys enjoyed! I hope they had as much fun as I did.

Sunday, 2 August 2009


I am such a Harry Potter geek. Seriously. After all, I'm an academic. We're all a little OCD in some ways, and when we find something we enjoy, that compulsion tends to reveal itself. For example, I happen to know that, were Harry real, he'd be a year younger than me. Told you. Geek.

Anyway, the new movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is out (as I'm sure you are all aware). I love it. I've heard some criticism about it, but I love it. Half-Blood Prince is my least favourite of the books, so it's not all that surprising that it would be my least favourite of the movies, as well. (My top picks are #s 3, 7 and 4, in that order. Then, 1 and 5 in whichever order you please, with 2 and 6 bringing up the rear.) However, I understand the narrative reasons for what has been done in this book. Each of the prior 5 books has had a discrete plot and a series plot. That is to say, in book 1, Harry had to defeat Quirel (discrete plot) and learn about Voldemort and the Wizarding World. Each of these discrete plots gets a resolution (defeat of Quirel, defeat of Basilisk and Riddle, saving Serious . . . ) which leaves the reader with a feeling of resolution, even though the larger plot is still open. Book 6 doesn't do that. There is no discrete plot. It's filling in all the blanks left by the previous 5 books (thus all the trips to the pensive) and setting up for book 7. Which means, it moves slower and doesn't have any resolution at the end. Especially since, in order to fulfil the 'coming of age' bit of the quest narrative, he has to be left all alone, without any adult help. That's why his parents, Serious and Dumbledoor all had to die. The Weaslies escape because they don't have any authority over Harry. They're friends, not guardians. Therefore, there is a feeling of tragedy and impending doom, rather than the hopefulness and completion of the previous books. It's the same reason why most people like Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi better than Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. You can't solve the problem if you haven't gotten into trouble first! So, whilst book 5 will never be my favourite of the series, I understand its place and function.

Told you I was a geek!

Monday, 27 July 2009

You Know It's Time. . .

You know it's time to trim the hedge when . . .
. . . you decide to start using the back door!

Sunday, 26 July 2009


Isn't it amazing how the whole world seems just too much to bear when you've got a headache? Well, really, when any one part of your body isn't functioning correctly? I've had sinus problems my whole life. They've actually gotten better since I was a missionary and had surgery (yeah, surgery. In South America.) I used to get infections every 3 weeks. Post surgery it dropped to every 3 months. And then I discovered this amazing stuff called Xlear (said 'Clear'). It was recommended to me by an Ear Nose Throat specialist in Utah. His wife suffers similarly, and she'd been using it for 3 years, and had had 2 infections over that time. Ok. I'm game. And you know what?!? It works! If you have any sort of cold or stuffiness or sinus problems, I highly recommend it! There's only one catch. I actually have to remember to use it. So I went from every 3 weeks to every 3 months to every 6 months, or so, depending on how regularly I remember to use the spray. You'd think that something like that would be important enough to remember. Apparently not. Anyway, for the past week I've been suffering for my laxidazical approach to sinus health. And it's been so difficult to get anything accomplished! With a stuffy head it's all I can do to get out of bed. Breathing seems to be about as much as I can get done! Today the stuffiness is down, but the headache is up.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

I'm Sorry . . . Me?!?

Got a new calling. (Church responsibility. We're asked -- called -- to do a particular assignment. It's all voluntary work. No monetary recompense. And that's true from the very top all the way down to little ol' me.) I've been in a bunch of callings, especially since I've been at this Ward. It's kind of funny, because about every 6 months, I get released or called (or both) to some calling or other. When I was called to be the 1st Counselor in the Young Women's, I kind of thought I'd broken that cycle. Ha. I went out of town for 5 months (to teach at BYU). Kind of got me released from my calling. Ok, it was a little more than 6 months. But it was still closer to 6 months than it was 12! Actually, I was left in as Music Co-Ordinator. But I think that was just for the fun they would have in releasing me from something the moment I got back. Yeah. I got called to a new position. 2nd Counselor in the Ward Relief Society. Ummm.... what?!? ME?!? I'm not old enough to be in the Relief Society Presidency!!!! Aaaaaah!!!!!!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

More Weddings!

I told you that 2009 is the 'Summer of the Wedding'. Seriously. I went to Drew and Mithi's yesterday, over near Bristol. It was one of my very favourite! This was a party I'd been looking forward to since I got the 'she said yes!' text from Drew.

For those of you who don't know them, they are amazing. Both of them are so creative and so talented (not to mention brilliantly intelligent and stunningly handsome/gorgeous!) and have such a collection of interesting friends. They're both swing dancers and travel around to various juggling conventions. So the reception was a real treat, as it incorporated the best bits of tradition, whilst still remaining true to the quirky nature of their personalities, and, of course, making the fullest use of the particular talents of all their friends. There were a few raindrops during the ceremony, but I don't think a single one of us cared, and the rain did let up in the afternoon, allowing us to move outside. There was juggling, and related arts (including hoola-hooping! I've got to get a hoola-hoop!), and not only by the jugglers. I got a very fabulous lesson by an 11 year old young man, Alex, on how to work a diablo. I'd never worked one before, and by the end of it I could get it started and do 2 tricks! It was so fun. Then, there was a traditional English Cream Tea and a full dinner with fabulous cakes after. In fact, that was another of the wonderful things about this wedding. They didn't do a 'wedding cake'. Instead, they invited anyone who wanted to bring a cake to let them know, so they'd know if they had enough. They ended up with 15 different types of cake! I made one, too. I made my spice cake with cream cheese icing. It was really warm, though, when I was making it. So I had this problem: The icing was running all over the place! So I had to come up with an idea for something that would disguise the rather poor icing job. What I ended up doing was drawing a tree with icing (the trunk was Nuttela. You can pipe it!) and 'carving' their initials into the trunk, inside a heart (that's my favourite bit). Then, I put the 'Tweeter' on the top. Tweeter was the little bird they'd sent out with the invite. You cut him out and put him together, so he was 3D. It was really sweet.

Also fun, they didn't have the normal speeches. Yes, the Bride and Grooms fathers spoke, but so did the Bride's mother, uncle, and grandmother. And the Best Man, Best Woman, Best Nic (yeah... that's so Drew and Mithi!) and several guests. Except, not all of them gave 'speeches'. In fact, several of them gave performances! Here's a video of a bit of one of them.

So, Drew and Mithi - thanks for such a lovely day. I hope the whole rest of your lives are as much fun as your wedding day was. And thank you for letting me be a part. I love you!!