Oh Jesus

Yesterday was my daughter’s school Christmas concert. They did the Nutcracker plus a nativity at the end. It was very sweet. My daughter was a humbug. Like I said, sweet.

Humbug in the middle
I wonder if state schools in the USA are allowed to have nativity plays at Christmas. The thing that I am still getting used to, being American, is that state schools discuss religious subjects. And besides the nativity and Christmas, they sing songs about God and Jesus. Husband and I are not religious. So we find it strange when talking about December birthdays (as we did this past Saturday) and Moozles announces that Jesus’ birthday is in December.  A couple of months ago she told me that God made the sky and the clouds. I tried to explain the Big Bang to my 5-year old but she did not quite grasp what I was saying.

I don’t have any problems with my kids talking about the religious reasons behind Christmas and Easter at school. But what if you do? What if you are a fervent atheist? Or if you’re from a different religion. How do you deal with your child talking about Jesus?

Oh Christmas Tree

Before

It was my daughter’s Christmas concert today, so Husband took a day off. We really needed this extra time to do a few Christmas-related things. Husband bought the Christmas tree, then got all the decorations and lights from the outbuilding. After the concert and after school, we all decorated the tree. I say all, but my 19-month old’s contribution was poking the tree then licking his hand. I let my daughter decorate most of the tree despite my obsessive compulsive tendencies. If it was up to me, there would be colour coordination and even spacing between ornaments. But, I am a mother. And I have a five-year old who could spend all day decorating, so I must chill out.  

For those of you who don’t know much about Americans and Christmas. Americans are not big into tinsel. For those of you not familiar with British people, they seem to love tinsel. Both statements are a bit sweeping, so please be aware that there are exceptions. Anyway, Husband loves tinsel as does all his family. I do not. I think it looks tacky. But I am such a sweet, wonderful wife (what? I am!), that I allow tinsel in my home. And. On. My. Tree.

But even though the house and tree aren’t decorated exactly to my taste, the house feels Christmassy and I wouldn’t change a thing. Okay, fine, I took some of the tinsel off the tree after the kids went to bed. Sue me.

After

Damn Fine Cup of Tea

Okay, you might take umbrage that an American is about to tell you how to make a great cup of tea. But get over it. It’s happening.


I have previously blogged of my love of tea. And with this love, comes many years of practice and study. Although I will often be proper and get loose tea and a teapot out when friends come over, I have no qualms throwing a teabag into a mug, all casual-like.

Mummy Barrow blogged about making ‘the perfect cuppa’ last week. So I thought I would weigh in with my recipe for making a cup of Black/English breakfast tea. I prefer Yorkshire Hard Water, Clipper Organic and PG Tips (in that order). I am sure there are other good ones but I am happy with these.

Damn Fine Cup of Tea
1. Boil water.
2. While water is boiling, place teabag in a mug (preferably a big mug so you have more tea to drink).
3. Once water has boiled, wait 10 seconds then pour water into mug (on the side of the mug, not directly onto teabag as to not damage teabag). 
4. Take a spoon to gently push (and keep) the teabag down, to further infuse the tea. Steep teabag for 2-3 minutes.
5. Add milk, then sugar if needed.

Everyone’s milk preference differs, but I like my tea to be the colour of me. If you aren’t familiar with my skin colour, then this is what I’m talking about:

How do you make a damn fine cup of tea?

Off to the Offy

It doesn’t seem right. I’ve obviously misunderstood. Are you telling me that Asda are restricting people from purchasing alcohol if they are with a child, or someone under 18? So if it looks like you might be buying wine or beer for your 16-year old they won’t let you? And if you are food shopping with your family, which includes a toddler, they won’t let you? And if you’ve popped to the shop after school to pick up some chicken breasts and a bottle of wine, they’ll only sell you the chicken if you are with your 10-year old? What about if you have your groceries delivered? Will they driver not let you have your alcohol if he/she sees that you have children?

I know this blog post is just basically questions, but I am not sure what to say. I feel so confused and I don’t know who will answer my queries. Asda has deemed that they should be judging whether a parent might be buying booze for their underage children (although all supermarkets seem to have this right but Asda are the ones making the headlines). Are they going to stop underage drinking by bothering adults who really need that glass of wine come 8pm? Yes, some parents might buy their under aged children alcohol. Most parents need to take along their children when they do their food shopping, and a lot of us include wine, beer and spirits in our grocery list. I won’t even go into the minefield of buying cigarettes in front of children, or for them. 

I know the health risks associated with alcohol. I just don’t think that supermarkets can make themselves regulators when it comes to parents/family/friends buying for underaged kids. But I’m obviously biased. I love booze and I have kids. Now what am I going to do when I finish this bottle? I suppose I will be sending Husband for late night liquor runs. Aww, like in the days before the kids came along.




Here’s the Daily Mail article. 
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2520495/Asda-stops-parents-buying-alcohol-children-Supermarket-bosses-staff-saying-better-cautious-risk-prosecution-selling-18s.html

Elfy the Elf

Elfy. Yes, this is what my five-year old has named our Elf on the Shelf. I never claimed to have the most creative kid. 

Last week I was lucky enough to win an Elf on the Shelf from Life With Munchers. Elf on the Shelf is gaining in popularity in the UK but it is extremely popular in the USA. For years I have seen pictures on Facebook of these Christmas elves since most of my FB friends are American. I didn’t quite understand what the fuss is about. But now that Moozles is five, she is obsessed with all things Christmas. And she is obsessed with Elfy. How magical is must be to wake up and wonder what Elfy has said to Father Christmas the night before. And to wake up and wonder where you might find Elfy. 

 

Moozles has found Elfy on various shelves, the radiator, our mini Christmas tree and tomorrow she will find Elfy enjoying a hearty bowl of Cheerios. Elf on the Shelf is a bit more work for me, but it’s worth it to see my daughter’s reaction to him.

 

#ElfTakeover

Polly Put the Kettle On

We moved house at the end of February and our new house had the most dilapidated kitchen I’ve ever seen. In fact, it did not have an oven, and the oven delivery/gasman would not install a new oven as he deemed the electrics and wood cladding on all the walls to be a fire hazard. We renovated it in April, making it lovely and modern and safe. And with a new kitchen, I knew we needed a new kettle.

I’ve previously blogged about my tea-drinking addiction (here). We hadn’t had a new kettle in years. And considering the amount of tea I drink, a new kettle was much needed. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am an avid researcher. Whether it is new trainers, coat hooks or a new kettle, I can spend months finding the ‘perfect’ item.


It took about a month, but I found the PERFECT kettle. In. White. It looks modern, and a bit retro, which fits in perfectly with the mid-century modern theme in which we are decorating our house. This bad boy boils water so quickly, you barely have time to get out a mug and a teabag. And it lightly beeps when the water has boiled, which is great as I am always chasing after kids and forgetting that I am trying to make a cup of tea. You can also adjust the temperature so that the water doesn’t have to boil. As you may know, herbal teas require hot rather than boiling water. And I drink a plethora of tea. All this talk of tea, I think I better go put the kettle on.

This blog post is my entry into the Tots100/PartSelect ’Love Your Appliance’ competition.






This appliance gets my seal of approval!

*Due to a few queries, I am updating this post to mention that my kettle is a Bosch Styline Kettle. We bought it from John Lewis as they offer a two-year guarantee with it. It has been reduced to £49.99 (damn). I was wary about noting it before because I did not want it to sound like the fine people at Bosch or John Lewis had secretly paid me for this post. They haven’t. I just really love my kettle. 

Turkey Day

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I have celebrated each Thanksgiving that I have lived in the UK. This will mark my 12th. We normally celebrate at the weekend, with a big (but simple) dinner with family or friends. I cook a turkey, and we go crazy on cornbread, stuffing, green beans and sweet potatoes. And as a homage to my adopted land, and my British Husband, we have parnsips. For pudding we have pumpkin pie and/or apple pie. 

But this year, I am not in the mood. This year, I don’t feel like all the trimmings. It’s the first time we haven’t invited family or friends. It would be nice to have it just the four of us. But I am not sure I can even be bothered for that. It’s been a busy year, especially with the rigmarole associated with buying a new house, moving and doing renovations. 

Thanksgiving is such a nice time to celebrate what we are thankful for, without the added pressures of gift giving. That is one of the reasons I love it. But I think this year I will be thankful while eating pumpkin pie and save the big meal for Christmas. If there is a Scrooge-equivalent for Thanksgiving, then I’m it. Bah hum-turkey. 

I’m an American…Get Me Out of Here

I sometimes dip into ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here’ on ITV. I don’t tend to really get into UK reality shows featuring D-list celebrities because I usually don’t know who the celebrities are. I will watch, however, if there is a well-known American. But I do enjoy watching the trials on ‘I’m a Celebrity’. I find it interesting to see who is looking for a challenge and who is just hoping to revive their career.
 
Last night, some of the cast were bitching about Alfonso Ribeiro, the ‘loud American’. Some of the other members of the cast seem loud (and obnoxious), but the American is the one labelled as loud in a bad way.
 
 
Why is it so easy to label Americans as loud? Is this our most renowned stereotype? But is it true? It is one of the labels I worry about receiving from non-Americans. Why should I care? Would a British person care if they were perpetually described as ‘cold’ or ‘awkward”? Or are Brits celebrated for their stereotypes? British people are known for their sarcasm, politeness and self-deprecation. Those aren’t negative qualities.
 
Is there an inherent conflict between the British and Americans? Are we frenemies? Do Americans (living in the USA) make fun of British? Now that I think of it, many people in the USA think that British people have teeth like Austin Powers. But most Americans don’t have passports so won’t have been to the UK to judge for themselves. Maybe I’m annoyed that some minor British celebrities were casting aspersions on my entire nationality. They should be well-traveled. They should know better.
 
Or are the British still mad at Americans for gaining our independence? All I know is that some British people are loud and obnoxious. And some Americans are quiet and genteel. 

My Other Love

‘In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love’…TEA! 

I imagine Jane Austen turning over in her grave right about now.


It’s true, it’s true. I love tea. I haven’t always loved it like I do now. When I first moved to London in 2002, I would drink a cup of coffee a day and would have the occasional cup of tea. After a couple of months I swapped my morning coffee for tea, and then added another cup and then another cup. After I had my daughter in 2008, I started drinking 4-5 cups of tea. And now, I’m at 5-6 cups per day. I assume this is normal, right?

I start with a normal black tea, and continue but also intersperse Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Lapsang Souchong and/or Green Tea. I end the day with decaf tea. I love tea so much I thought I’d write a poem about it.

Tea, tea, how I love thee
Black, green, white and mint tea
In the morning, I need at least three
To keep me from going doo-lal-ly
Forget coffee or hot choccy,
What I adore is tea,
and I’ve been addicted since 2003