Monday, 28 February 2011

Death by Garlic

I have a serious garlic hangover today. If I could draw a caricature of myself, I would look not unlike a classic Frenchman: striped, Breton top, beret, garlic plait and I would be drifting along in a green, oozy haze of toxic garlic fumes. The only difference between Monsieur le Frenchie et moi being my lack of Citroen 2CV.

It's so bad it's making me feel nauseous and nothing will shift it. I've brushed my teeth with bleach, washed my hair, my clothes, the bedsheets, bath towels, but this bad boy is here to stay I'm afraid. I'm just grateful I don't have to work in an office today or have any important social occasions or else I would probably have to feign illness and stay indoors.

The high garlic toxicity comes on the back of a very enjoyable weekend of food, so I should probably be grateful I don't just exist on bread and water and get over myself.

Skipping over Friday night when I ate cheese and baked bean toasted sandwiches and a bottle of wine, the weekend's gastronomy started well on Saturday. We cruised on over to Greenville as we wanted to go to Williams-Sonoma to buy some trivets (this is sounding like a really boring story, which it is, but don't let that put you off reading it). While we were in the G-Vegas vicinity, we decided to go to Papas & Beers, a Mexican that had been recommended to us. Despite there being about 500 cars in the carpark, we were seated immediately and the food was delicious. James was served a burrito the size of a small baby and I had Baja fish tacos that were light yet filling.

We never made it to the mall as there were about 2 million cars parked there and there's no prospect more dire than a heaving shopping centre on a Saturday. So, we went to Lowes for some extension plugs (I TOLD you this was a boring story) and went home.

On Sunday, we really hit our culinary stride with lunch at a small place we happened upon on our way to Old Navy called the Greek Grille. James loves Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, so this suited him to a tee.

I am not good with new places, if it was up to me we would have gone to Subway or Atlanta Bread Co.; somewhere I can trust and know I will get an OK meal. But, so I wasn't accused of being a boring whinge-bag like I usually am, I trusted him and we went inside. It was similar to a kebab house back in England; very unassuming, basic seating and plastic plates etc...but the food was delicious. I had chicken souvlakis in a soft, fluffy pita bread with salad and James had gyros in pita.

The meal would have been perfect and I would go back again if it wasn't for the Wayne Rooney style overhead kick assault of garlic that smacked me around the head about 30 minutes later. Like a secret assassin, the garlic had been hidden in what I thought was a benign yoghurty-mayonnaise. Why is it always the garlic you DON'T taste that is so lethal?

Maybe not appreciating the dangerous levels of garlic already in our bodies, we proceeded to have steak for dinner with sides of chips and Portabella mushrooms smothered in, you guessed it, garlic butter.

So, this is how I arrived at my garlic hangover this morning. I think it's gonna take about 48 hours to shift this doozie. Keep your distance!


In other news, in case you live under a rock, it was the Oscars last night, that starry evening of film recognition and beautiful gowns.

My favourites were Mila Kunis, who, despite having a name that sounds like a disease, looked incredible in a flouncy, lilac Elie Saab number with lacy embellishments on the decolletage. In the past, she has looked edgy & a little rough around the edges but last night she looked demure and grown-up and dressed appropriately for the occasion. My second favourite was Gwyneth Paltrow, in a fluid, metallic Calvin Klein gown which gave her a mermaid-esque appearance. The dress accentuated her lean, athletic physique perfectly.

My surprise of the night was Celine Dion (she of the back-to-front tuxedo disaster a few years back) who was a knock-out in her close fitting, long-sleeved column dress. Celine is in her early 40s and had twin boys a mere 4 months ago, yet she has the figure of a woman 15 years younger. What an icon. Simple, yet stunning.

My least favourites were Amy Adams in a midnight-blue, sequinned gown, which, although was a beautiful dress, was accompanied by an unnecessary necklace (worth a reported $1.35m!!!!), Melissa Leo who wore a white and gold doilly and gave an awful, immodest speech and Nicole Kidman who wore an ill-fitting, ugly Dior Couture dress. She looked as though she could hardly walk in the monstrosity so I found it ironic when she was being interviewed and said that it was incredibly comfortable. Could have fooled me!

Still, a great night for British film with The King's Speech winning the top awards. Bravo!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Future memories

I have decided that I like living in a place called Walnut Cove. It's not as cool as living in Cabot Cove although I'm thinking it's only cool to live there if you are a friend of Jessica Fletcher and not one of the victims.

The full name of our sub-division is Woodlands at Walnut Cove and it is very aptly named; it is a very wooded area, or was, until it was bulldozed to make way for our homes, oops!

I haven't seen a walnut tree, but must confess I don't actually know what one looks like! However, there is an abundance of lofty pines that gently sway in the breeze (and worryingly flip side to side in storms!) and we have two mighty Oak trees in our front garden.

Two friends of ours came to visit last night for a few drinkies after they had been for a meal in the local vicinity. These friends live on the outskirts of downtown Greenville, so are still committed Urbanites and not country bumpkins like we are fast becoming.

For them, travelling out to see us is akin to an Antarctic expedition; gas tank must be filled, extra food, blankets & flashlights packed in case they are 'gone some time'. We don't actually live THAT far away, but when you are used to living in a city, a 30 minute journey is a bit of a trek.

Anyway, my point is that when we first decided to build on this plot, we were concerned about one of the limbs on the Oak tree that produded quite a long way out and came close to the house. We had decided to ask the builder to lop it off until our Urban friends came to see the place. Obviously a man with some vision, our friend suggested we keep the limb in place & in the future we can put a rope swing on it for Mo.

Well, now all I can think of is the day we can get that rope swing, cos it will be so perfect and I can't wait to watch her swing around on it like the monkey that she is!

When is too soon? Can 7 month olds climb trees?

Easy like a Saturday morning?

My favourite time of the week is right now, early on a Saturday morning (early being around 7am). There is a different feel to a weekend morning compared to a weekday, a sense of peace & tranquility; the world is having a lie-in, I guess?

The morning light diffuses it's rays with a lighter touch, the normally frenetic birds and animals keep their volume down and we are allowed a few hours of calm before the storm of the day.

Right after I am woken by the dulcet tones of a singing baby Mo, it's full steam into Operation Breakfast: Bobble gets up and out for his morning ablutions, then straight back in for his breakfast, Mo plays with her toys while I prepare her breakfast, whilst simultaneously unloading the dishwasher and clearing away James' detritus from the night before. Then it's Mo's feeding time, which this morning was so painful that James had to wrench himself from his pit to shut the bedroom door on her screeching...However, I managed to force a bowl of porridge, pear & blueberry down her piehole, tidy up the bombsite left behind and then finally, FINALLY, sit down for my cup of tea and MY breakfast. I am always the last to eat, is this right? What kind of message is this sending to my pack? Seeing as the dog sees himself higher up the pecking order than me, the message is pretty clear! Mummy eats last cos she is last, bottom of the rung, yet also the ONLY rung in this small ladder.

Believe me, Bob, if I didn't get up and sort you out on demand, you'd be languishing on your bed til mid-morning!

So now, after all that chaos comes the calm before naptime, that precious hour of quiet play I get from Imogen. During this time we do a heap of bonding and interaction, we laugh & share jokes, she will practice her tummy time & crawling skills & I soak up the never-ending wonder and joy of the infant I produced!

Or I could just pop on the laptop for a moment & check facebook?!

I know which one happened, and I'm so grateful for the special time I had to update my status because, as you know, this facebook stage doesn't last forever!


In other news, it's Oscars buzzzzzzz this weekend. I just cannot wait for all the coverage, all the beautiful dresses and more importantly, all the fashion faux-pas. One of the best things about living in the US is I can watch the red carpet LIVE at a reasonable hour instead of having matchsticks propping my eyelids open like I used to in the UK.

Bring on Joan Rivers!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Postpartum mysticism

I watched Christina Applegate on Ellen yesterday, she of Veronica Corningstone fame. She has a new film out, but I won't be going to see it due to the presence of a 7 month old babyand a distinct lack of sitters within 4000 miles (our fault, not theirs!).

Anyway, she has just had a baby. Really just had a baby, as in 3 weeks ago! Crikey! She was talking about the mystical land of 'postpartum' about which no woman ever speaks. This is true; everyone tells you about the pregnancy, about the birth and how to look after your new bundle of joy, but the details about what goes on after the labour can be described as sketchy at best. There was a small section at the back of my pregnancy book, an appendix, I guess, which discussed terms such as episiotomy repair, perineum tenderness, engorgement blah, blah, blah. But when you are focused entirely on labour & delivery, you gloss over these fancy sounding words and think yeah, yeah, that's for another time and anyway, it won't be worse than the labour right?!

WRONG! Ms Applegate was completely right no-one tells you about postpartum, and I think the reason is that if they did, the human race would immediately dry up and become extinct.

In reality, Christina didn't actually have to say anything factual about how gruelling it is, I could see it in her face; the inward wince as she gently lowered herself into the chair and rearranged herself into a 'comfortable' position (ha!).

I think she's amazing for going on national television just 3 weeks after giving birth. I'm sure she felt up to it at the time and she looked fantastic. 3 weeks after having Imogen, I still couldn't shower properly and looking back, that time was pretty much a big blur. My guess is that she will look back in a few months and wonder if she did, actually go on the show at all, or was it a dream?!


This week I am loving Layla Grayce a stylish boutique website for women & children. My favourites are these delicate polka-dot wall letters to spell out a child's name and this cutesy growth chart which can be personalised.

Just need to save my pennies now!

The Cribsies

I LOVE Twitter. The only way I can describe it is it is like the bloom of a rose where the petals keep unfolding & unfolding as you peel them back. Makes sense? Once you start exploring Twitter, more & more fascinating people, articles and websites appear.

If you want to keep on top of news from sport to showbiz, the first place it breaks is Twitter. If you want to discover new websites, Twitter has them all, and the deeper you dig, the better they get.

This is how I discovered The Cribsies. I follow @parenting magazine which is a great site for mums new and old with interesting bloggers. From there I found @StrollerTraffic and @a_listmom, both essential follows for anything kid-like. Both Stroller Traffic & A-list mom are involved in The Cribsies awards, championing the best baby and child websites and gear.

I have voted for my faves and I hope they win, but more importantly, I have found hundreds of new products & websites which I would never have seen without Twitter. Sites like which sells the most beautiful baby gear and numerous others like Plum Organics and Sprout babyfoods.

For this reason, I love Twitter. I'm in deep now and I hope it keeps getting better & better.


I really want to like Kate Middleton, or is it Catherine, I don't know, whatever. Anyway, I want to like her, she seems like a great woman.

I didn't always think this way. When she first burst on to the scene back in the day she wasn't instantly likeable; there was a definite whiff of desperation about her. Maybe it's snobbery, but people don't want to see somebody from ordinary beginnings successfully social climb and break through the class system and into the inner fold of the Royal Family. I mean, how did she do that? She is SO ordinary, so much like me (same age, same start in life), I just can't imagine it being me stood up there getting ready to be the next Queen of England. But it might as well be!

Having followed their courtship through the press, there has undeniably been a big U-turn in the general attitude towards Kate. This is more than likely because she is now untouchable; being betrothed to an heir to the throne wins you more friends than enemies, but the articles are more positive, there are no snide asides about 'doors to manual' mother Carole and on the whole, there is a lot of sycophancy developing.

Like I said at the start, I really want to like Kate too and I feel she has an enormous potential to become a worldwide icon in the mould of Diana, Queen Rania of Jordan, Grace Kelly etc...She has the looks and the intelligence, but I just have a feeling she's going to be a bit of a damp squib, a disappointment.

All my opinions here are, of course, just my opinions and I have never met Kate or anyone to do with her. I glean my opinions from the media, which is a hazardous method, but my only option!

There is no doubt Kate is a lovely woman, kind, funny, intelligent and very good-looking but she needs to take control of this opportunity she has and forge a path for herself that goes beyond opening coffee mornings and looking glamorous at State dinners.

She could be so much more than a consort; a la Queen Rania, she could lead Great Britain into a new, modern age spreading important messages and helping to propel the human unjustices in the world onto a global platform. However, I have concerns over her work ethic & motivation to be a successful Queen. Since she left university, she has been happy to do the bare minimum to scrape by while she waits for Princess-dom. There seems to be scant get-up-and-go, a quality I feel is essential as a potential world icon. It's not enough to just float through life ensconced in Royal privilege, you need to get out there and use your voice to help others.

A lot of the disappointment I feel stems from her fashion. Now I am NO fashion expert at all, but I feel your wardrobe does a great job of reflecting your personality. Kate's clothing choices tell me that she is middle-of-the-road.

As a woman who has the world's leading couturiers literally throwing themselves at her sensible heeled, court-shoed feet, she has the opportunity to become something of a fashion maven, with very little effort required. The media are desperate for her to be fashionable, but the facts are that she just isn't. She is Sloaney, from her tweed coats, through the black knee-high boots to the endless fascinators.

Although it is obviously important to stay true to who you are and feel comfortable in what you are wearing, Kate needs a subtle makeover. She is 29 years old, not 39, or even 49, yet she dresses not unlike women of these ages. She can afford to be bold and she needs to be. There are many years ahead of her to play it safe, now is the time to make an impact. DITCH THE TWEED!!

Having said all this, it is very early days in the evolution of Kate Middleton from Home Counties girl-next-door to new Princess and I'm sure her style & confidence will change & grow over time.

First real test: the wedding dress. We wait with baited breath!

News Day

What the bejeezus is going on with this child's hair? I swear that everytime she goes for a nap, she emerges with a hundred new hairs and they are all vertical in their persuasion! Who knows how this barnet will evolve? When is too young to start using styling products? (joke, obv.)

In other news, my friend from the next street is about to pop with her first child. Literally, pop; he was due to arrive on the 19th, no sign of anything yet, so we are going for a leisurely walk this afternoon with Bobble & baby to see if Mr Gravity can work his magic and get the little boy moving, so she doesn't have to resort to the Pitocin & cervical softening pleasantries like I did.

In further news, just a quick question: how long is too long for a child to stay in the Jumperoo? Is there a maximum limit of hours per day, like the European Working Hours Directive where you have to sign a disclaimer to work over 42 hrs a week? Do Fisher-Price have a disclaimer? Cos, this baby LOVES her Jumperoo more than she loves me. I get her out sporadically, to eat, sleep and to do some 'mat work' so she can learn to crawl before she starts kindergarten, but I know she's just biding her time until she's back jumping herself dizzy.

In even more news, Monsieur le Bob is asleep, still recovering from the mega walk we did yesterday around his old stomping ground downtown. He got so excited when we pulled into the park yesterday he nearly jumped clear out of the window.

Since moving to the Cove of Walnuts, the walks have lessened up A LOT. Mainly because there isn't the park network like downtown and also because we have an acre of land for him to busy himself with. I mean, how much does one dog need? Walks AND an acre of land? Come on! But yesterday, with some inclement weather looming in the next few days and my waistline feeling the effects of a big gooey Fuddruckers brownie from Monday, I felt we needed to pound the parks, and we certainly did! And after all that walking, I was so famished I finished off the Whitmans Samplers I had for Valentines and 2 trail mix granola bars...

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Life as we know it.

Would you just look at that sky? It's February for goodness sake!

This is the view from my front door and I thought I would take advantage of the beautiful day and sit out on the front step for a while.

The dog was bumbling around the garden, sniffing and exploring, happy as Larry and Imogen was on my lap sucking her foot; the birds were twittering all around and the breeze was as gentle & mild as baby's breath.

Many people say they wish they could look in to the future & see what life has in store for them, but I am glad I can't. I'm glad that I had no idea that my life would bring me to this place, with these people. The surprise and disbelief that this is actually my life makes it all the more sweeter.

To just sit and appreciate is a luxury not many of us have any more with increasingly busy & frenetic lives going on (mine included). Surrounded by this perfect calm & tranquility, I realised 'This is life'. Not 'This is THE life', but that This. Is. Life - in it's simplest, purest form.