Tuesday, April 12, 2016

ABS - always be skiing.

That is not photo editing, that is whiteout fog, which we spent our last two days in.

Everyone has those yearly, winter traditions - things that we do with our loved ones, that create lasting memories and give us something to look forward to every year.

For me these traditions include, but are not limited to: snow fort building; carol singing; ice skating; baking copious amounts of cookies; chatting over cucumber slices, pasta with home-made sauce, and braunschweiger balls; watching (and quoting along to) the film, The Wedding Singer and every year, EVERY YEAR refusing to join my family at the local ski hill.

I say "hill" because we have a distinct lack of altitude in Michigan. Despite this fact, people are so enticed by the ski season thrill that they will fling themselves off of any bump and, ignoring everything they learned in geography, call it a "mountain". 

Every year, I was invited to go skiing and every year I turned it down. At first, I think, I was a little nervous (the people who I would have learned with have a pretty rough-and-tumble, no pain, no gain kind of attitude towards life, which, frankly, I avoided at all costs), but as time went on I sincerely just stopped caring. 

I would go ice skating and sledding and put myself in all manner of precarious positions involving a moderate risk of bodily harm, but for whatever reason skiing never held any interest for me. As I got older, I became busier with other activities and the fact that skiing doesn't come cheap became yet another reason to just not even bother. 

In all of my 27 years of life, I have never been motivated to break with this winterly tradition....until this year. 

I don't know whether it happened because the offer of a ski holiday was extended during our honeymoon travels, when we were free and roving and wanderlust drunk, or simply because the notion of a whole week spent in fabulous company, surrounded by the-hills-are-alive-worthy scenery was just too much to pass up. 

I really don't know what happened, but somehow, someway, someone convinced me that I needed to go on a ski holiday.

And I luuuuurved it! 


It probably helped that I took to the actual skiing bit pretty readily. A few of us chipped in for a personal instructor, which really eased the learning curve. We were doing red runs by the end of our third day, which I could never have even visualized on our first.

I fell down a whole lot too, but weirdly, while I originally thought I would feel embarrassed about it, in the end I didn't mind. It was such a normal and happy feeling to be stacking it in the snow, something that I haven't really had the chance to do since my university days - it reminded me of my childhood. 

Immediately before falling most of the way down a red run. Loving life!

I'm not sure what my favorite part was - learning a new skill, eating Currywurst, or the ridiculous souvenir I took away from a disagreement with t-lift.

Looks not unlike an upside-down pickaxe attached to a stretchy rope.

Look, how easy!
Even a child can do it!


(that's Wills and Kate, by the way)


What actually happened was not that I fell over while riding the t-lift, but that I attempted to retrieve my dropped poles and was hit by a flinging bar as my friend exited the lift. 

Oddly, no one seems to have actually seen what happened, although I can 100% assure you that it did hit me. I have proof. Thank goodness for my sunglasses and helmet (always wear a helmet, people), which took the brunt of the hit and left me with an intact, albeit amusingly bruised cheek bone, which I took great pleasure in documenting for the rest of the trip.

Day 1
Day 2

Day 3
Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Basically a bruise model.

Honestly, it didn't hurt that badly and after a couple of days I sort of forgot that I even had it, and would only remember when people would do a double take or stare just a little too long. I am getting a little bored of it now, though, because it's going through the yellowish phase, leaving me with a look that is a little less badass and a little more sickly. 

My real luck lies in the fact that we have another week until school starts up again, which means plenty of time to chill and get stuff done, but also plenty of time for this thing to heal up a bit more before I have to present myself as a respectable adult in front of a bunch of merciless, image-obsessed teenagers...

Fingers crossed, people. Fingers crossed.

Love and a request for ultra healing vibes.

Monday, March 28, 2016

A dresser development.

After six-and-a-half years of living in the United Kingdom I am beyond thrilled to announce that I am the proud, new owner of....

my own chest of drawers!!!

Muwahahahaha! So. Much. Spaaaaace!

A bit much, you say? Ok. Fine. Maybe, but seriously after so many years of living out of suitcases this feels like a real victory. 

I mean, I was married before I had enough space for all of my stuff. How backward is that progression of events?!

Now I have so much room that I hardly know what to do with it all. In fact, the drawers are almost a bit too empty - even with all of my clothing neatly folded inside - which is something that I suspect would immediately call for a shopping spree for some, but for an organizational freak like me is practically a dream come true.

No, I am pleased with the exaggerated roominess, but now all I can think about is next steps - like all of that beautiful wall space directly above, which is just begging for a little TLC and a big ol' redesign.


To be continued!


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Two weekends and the stuff in between.

Afternoon tea and a good, old fashioned gossip sesh - what better way to end the week? 

Luckily, there is a four day weekend ahead of us, which I think we are all in desperate need of. My poor year 11s have GCSE prep coming out of their ears at this point and while I know it is mainly their own faults for letting themselves get so behind, I can't help but feel sorry for the little things who, in the last few weeks of their school careers, are most likely facing a successive set of gloomy weekends spent indoors and sat in front of their revision books.

Two weeks and counting since my last post. I've been finding it difficult to muster up enough energy to do my laundry in the evenings, so writing down something even semi-interesting or insightful has been pretty much out of the question. 

I am still thinking about it though - every day. Sometimes I imagine an entire post while I am on the way to work or eating lunch. I'll plan it all out, complete with research or photo ideas, but when it comes time to actually execute the plan I suddenly find myself on Netflix, my latest guilty pleasure in full swing on the screen.

Part of the reason for this, I know, is that we have actually been really busy over the last couple of weeks. Two weekends ago, we went camping and trekking with some year 10s for the first part of their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. On Saturday we sat with them during training sessions, where they learned about planning and navigating an expedition. On Sunday we hiked ten miles with them through the Bedfordshire countryside - they with their rucksacks and compasses, we with our morale boosting chat. 

The Monday after was pretty hellish. We were all exhausted from the trip and it felt (as I enjoyed telling anyone who would listen) as if we'd been on a bender all weekend. On the bright side though, most of the students sucked it up and came into school anyway, the hike day weather was perfect and I got to break out all of the campfire songs that I know for an entirely new audience. 

So a win, for me at least.

Last weekend was slightly less outdoorsy, though still quite action packed. We had a few visitors stay with us, including some family from Northern Ireland, which meant that the house was chaotic, with people rushing in and out or congregating in our kitchen. Sunday night the whole clan met for fish and chips, followed by a massive ping pong tournament and game night that lasted until way-too-late-o-clock. 

In addition to that, we had dinner plans on the Saturday, football, Zumba, tutoring (all the normal happenings), plus a DIY project involving some IKEA furniture that wasn't even going in our bedroom, but the assembly of which meant that I would be able to finally stop living out of suitcases for the first time in about six years. 

All of this just meant that by Tuesday night I was exhausted all over again and had finally submitted to the cold that has been running rampant round the year 11s for a while now. I have been finding it especially amusing (when amongst small groups of them) to very loudly and obnoxiously wonder why they are all getting sick at the same time... Also, to remark aloud that I am now also sick, but am still in school, doing my job, working through the pain, etc etc.

Some of them giggle at this: 

Oh Miss! Heeheehee. 

Some of them give me dirty looks. 

Either way they rise to it and I can't decide which reaction pleases me more.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Current Mood.

"It was a gloomy afternoon early in March and only a few degrees about freezing - always more uncomfortable than ten degrees below. Very few people were out on the streets. Rain like gray pencil shavings."

                      From The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

SupPOSedly spring is on it's way, but the last couple of weeks have been very un spring-like. The rainy and predominantly gray weather would be bearable, if it weren't so damn cold, to boot.

In order to trick my brain into remaining upbeat and productive, I have taken to regularly reveling in some of our sunniest holiday photos - like this one of us in the hot springs at Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Really wishing I could go back to the days when I didn't go out without SPF and a pair of sunglasses.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

What I read this week.

Half-term break was this past week for our school and it was ab-so-lute bliss. The Thursday before break my line manager and I were joking that my plans were to lie down all week and that turned out to be a pretty accurate prediction for what was to come. I mean, I wasn't horizontal 100% of the time. We did do some things around the house. We met up with friends we hadn't seen in a while and there was the day we visited the Crime Museum Uncovered exhibition at the Museum of London (highly recommended!), but I did spend a lot of time relaxing, with a cup of coffee in one hand and a good book in the other.


I wish it could never end.

Here's what I read:

Here: Women Writing on Michigan's Upper Peninsula (Ronald Riekki, Ed.) - A lovely collection of book excerpts, short stories, and poetry, which I started reading during our camping trip in the Upper Peninsula last summer. We actually met one of the authors from the book while we were there, when we coincidentally stopped at her diner for breakfast one morning. Talk about small town experiences. A little slice of home.

The Book Thief (Markus Zusak) - I know I am late to the party with this one. I remember people talking about it a few years ago and a film version came out in 2013. I found this edition in a bookstore in Peru. We were nearing the end of our travels and the timing just felt right. The writing is quirky, but the story hits home and despite the fact that so much is revealed at the beginning, the book still manages to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Landmark Visitor's Guide to Iceland (Cathy Harlow) - Planning our next big adventure!!!! This version, an Oxfam Bookshop find, is outdated by a few years, but we can easily supplement it with library rentals and modern technology.

Bonus Blog: Brain Pickings - I discovered this blog a couple of months ago and it has taken me a little while to get into it, but I am OBSESSING over it now. On her blog Maria Popova writes about, well, everything - all aspects of culture: history, literature, sciences, philosophy, music and so much more. Her daily reflections tend to revolve around a specific person or people (alive or deceased) and what we can learn from their words. She seems to have a vast catalogue of interdisciplinary knowledge, almost impossibly so, but interviews with her reveal that the work is actually due to her insatiable desire for reading and research. Her writings are succinct, but meaty; not your typical blogger fare, but perhaps far more inspiring. Recent favorites of mine include her posts on the incredibly touching love story of Anna and Fyodor Dostoyevsky and these recordings of J.R.R. Tolkein reading and singing (!) excerpts from The Lord of the Rings. If you like rare and interesting perspectives, connecting the modern with the historical, and just learning in general, check out this blog!

Tomorrow, I'm afraid, it's back to school. Keep me in your thoughts...


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Things people don't tell you about your wedding: Part 1.

Just trying to get a breeze under that dress.

I have been wanting to write a short series on my wedding and wedding planning for some time now. Anyone who has gone through the process knows that you basically become an expert by the end and I'll bet I'm not the only one who feels like I could write a whole book about my experiences. In reality, I know that it takes a lot more than just planning your own wedding to become a successful and widely regarded wedding professional and I am totally not willing to do any of the work, so you can just have my thoughts... on here... for free. Your welcome.

Wedding Truth #1: You and your partner will probably be the most uncomfortable people at the wedding.

I know that when I am planning on attending a wedding as a guest, I take a lot of things into consideration when choosing my outfit - time of year, weather, venue, potential menu, alcohol factor, likelihood of pulling club-worthy dance moves by the end of the evening, etc. Comfort has always been a priority for me and I like to know that I am going to be able to fully enjoy the experience.

This all tends to go out the window at your own wedding, however, when suddenly what you wear becomes an integral part of the day and, sometimes, comfort gives way to fashion, or theme, or the driving desire that some of us have to look like a motherf*%$ing elven princess (guilty). Even the most comfort-seeking among us are probably going to sacrifice a bit of this for the outfit or the makeup or the hair or the shoes. If I haven't touched upon your "thing" yet, just you wait. I promise. There will be something.

I still think I did pretty well where all of this was concerned. My dress was relatively light and very danceable - anything less would have been a deal breaker for me. I was also VERY lucky that the weather was as beautiful as it was. I had purchased a multi-layered dress with lace and corset, the whole shebang, for a mid-summer, outdoor wedding in the midwest - which is basically just tempting the gods of heat and humidity. On the day, however, the air was mild and breezy, and there was a perfect mixture of sun and shade.

Even with the weather on my side, I still had a few moments of "uhhh" *nervous giggles* "just what exactly is happening here??" One of these was when my mother and bridesmaids were trying to lace up my dress in a hall where there had just been a bustle of activity, warming up the air, and I was suddenly feeling very, very hot. There is a really funny series of photos from this time, where I am obviously trying to think cool thoughts and then my photographer asks us to smile and it's like, Ping!

One of my favorite photos from the whole day also comes from this series and it was a really special moment to me, even as it was happening. The laces on my corset had been done up and then undone again and I was starting to sweat. I remember thinking, "This cannot be happening before the wedding has even started!" and just desperately trying to stay calm. I was standing very still, staring off into the distance, imagining an ice cave and concentrating on steadying my breath when, suddenly, one of my sisters came into view, reached over, adjusted some bits of makeup with her fingers and brushed a strand of hair out of my face.

Sweet angel baby sister.

It was such a sweet and tender moment - one of those times that reminds you how lucky you are to be alive and to be here and to have such wonderful people in your life. That simple action meant so much that it really did help calm me down and I was absolutely delighted to find that it had been captured by our photographer.

Luckily for me that was probably the height of my discomfort. Everything worked out reasonably well and the fact that the best that my hair looked all day was at the hair salon was lost in the grander scheme of things, but it easily could have gone the other way. That moment could have been just the beginning and I would have had no choice but to deal with it.

The reality is that no matter how lucky you get weather-wise and whatever you choose to wear it is highly likely that it won't be the most comfortable thing that has ever caressed your bod and the best that you can do is to get ready for what may come. Some people swear by baby powder and extra strength deodorant. Others will tell you it's all about the undergarments. Whichever way you go and however prepared you are, don't be surprised when discomfort sneaks up on you anyway. Accept the moment and let it pass. Take some deep breaths, have a seat, demand that someone fetch you a cool drink and then move on. No need to let it ruin your day.

'Sup fresh air.