Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Welcome Home

I’m home! Only for a week, most of which will be spent in Connecticut—but even that has some advantages—as in Mexican food (hey, it’s no LA, but I’ll take what I can get) and sushi. After an exhaustingly long trip (England-Chicago-New York-Hartford… don’t ask), I did have some very nice highlights:

  • Upgrade: yes, folks—all this mileage is coming in handy. International business class is the way to travel. Not only is there lots of free stuff, there’s also great movies. I partook lots of the movies I’ve missed since moving abroad (because movies come out months later and we don’t have TV, so I don’t see advertisements for the new ones): Slumdog Millionaire, Doubt, Vicky Christina Barcelona and Eagle Eye (unfortunately I slept through most of the first).
  • Chicago: customs in Chicago is quick and efficient—and the border control officer always, without fail, says “Welcome Home” while stamping my passport. I can’t tell you how good those words sound, especially when you’ve been gone for a long time.
  • Chicago, Part 2: beeline for the nearest newsstand and rapidly purchase US Weekly, People and In Touch (and Tylenol to quell my raging headache and low-grade fever… no doubt left over from the stomach flu the day before…). What can I say… English celeb rags are rubbish (to borrow a term from my host country); only because they have celebs that I have no knowledge of… who knew crappy celebrity magazines (with celebs you know) could be so addictive.
  • Approach to NYC: somewhat new pattern for American Airlines; flew up from the south over Staten Island and got some breathtaking of my favorite city, starting with the Verrazano Narrows bridge (once the longest suspension bridge in the world); north across Brooklyn with the New York Harbor and Miss Liberty herself just off the left wing of the plane; followed by The Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, and up the East River towards my beloved Queens and views of all the greats: Empire, Chrysler, Central Park... not so bad for a welcome home, I’d say.
  • Good radio: upon getting into the rental car, I immediately reprogrammed the radio to all my old NY favorites… I must admit however, most of the ride was spent singing along to Lite FM. Yes, I am that girl… one of these days I'll be "that mom" that kids are humiliated by because I not only listen to “old people” music but sing very loudly along with it. There was some NPR in the mix (I miss NPR), but once I stumbled across Delilah (oh, come on, I know you’re with me), that was it for the duration of the 2 hour drive.
  • EZPass: there’s been an upgrade to NYC Hertz rentals since I was last here—EZPass installed in all cars—meaning no more lines at the tolls! Okay, so there’s a $2.50 service charge (per day, not per use), but still—that baby saved me probably 30 minutes in travel time.
  • Road work: okay, so I know that’s not something most people would class as “a highlight” but there’s something about something you love (or are nostalgic for) never changing. In this case it is the Van Wyck / Cross Bronx / Whitestone Bridge interchange. This has been going on at least since I moved five years ago. It made me chuckle as I drove past.

Thankfully I’m back to NYC on Friday for a long weekend—whoohoo! I have a long list of things that I want to do (mostly to do with things I want to eat… oh, Papaya King, how I’ve missed you)—but I’m up for the challenge. Hurray to being home!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Haunting in Connecticut

I feel like the release of Haunting of Connecticut is especially well-timed given my trip to Hartford on Sunday. I've spent an inordinate amount of time in Connecticut as it is... do I really need another reason to not want to go?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Paint, Glorious Paint

It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do-- we're on the final stretch of home renovation (I promise to post photos soon...), and there's just one full room to paint (and lots of touch-ups) to go... but it's really pretty impressive what a coat of paint will do. It can transform a room-- brighten, design, all you can imagine-- just with a little color; a refresher. We're sticking to a single color throughout the house (with the exception of chocolate for an accent wall-- in this case, our fireplace)-- it's a small house, so one color made sense... and even though MRN has painted the whole house (magnolia) within the last year, the fresh coat of "Natural Hessian"-- a tan color, has made a world of difference. We figure it's a matter of more expensive paint... so, note to self (or home improvement people everywhere: cheap paint isn't necessarily good; consider the same color throughout the house, with accent colors in select locations; and... I'm sure there's an and... but it's late, and I can't think of one..

Happy painting!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Pink Books for K

Ahhhh, Tesco. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

My dear friend, K, teases me about my love for "pink books."
Translation? Chick-lit. I must admit, this genre is a guilty
pleasure-- a totally brainless read that is entirely satisfying. Two
hours? Check! And longer than US magazine so all the more happiness in
the making (I have, by the way, found one retailer-- a magazine stand
in a train station in Birmingham, that does sell US).

Tesco has a HUGE section of pink books! I think this really is
the magic store. It's no Target, but it's up there.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Paper Snob

I'm not sure from where this love originated, exactly... perhaps it started with stationery because even as a child I loved to write letters... and it then branched out to include every which kind. I have a big box of notecards, paper, cards of every size, color and shape; envelopes, paper and templates to create custom envelope liners... and all the acoutremonts to go with it (fountain pens, ballpoint pens, inky pens, pencils, stamps, and more). I still use a paper planner-- even though I've had a palm pilot and now iPhone, there's something eternally satisfying to putting pen to paper. I have lots of fancy notebooks, which are are a combination of my oldest (miquelrius) and newest (russel+hazel) obsessions.
Russel+Hazel I owe to my sister (or, curse my sister for?). They are "office products for the soul." When I found out I was going to move to working at home full time, I wanted to make my home office an extension of me, not of my work... so beautiful paper and supplies were a must. I'm still getting there, but it's coming along. R+H has a genius binder system that offers the nostalgia of back to school days (yes, I was a nerd who looked forward to back to school-- as much for the friends and books as for the school supplies), but with a chic and sophisticated twist that's certainly not kid-like. The beautiful patterns and mix-and-match paper, dividers, post-it notes and other tools, as well as accessories like file boxes and folders and more give endless choice to make your office effortlessly stylish. I'm still outfitting mine and the biggest disappointment is that R+H doesn't retail in England, and they don't ship internationally either. So I have to covet from afar and when I go to the U.S., have things shipped to my location to hand carry back here. *Sigh.* Even the price of paper keeps going up.

My sis gave me the ultimate R+H planner recently-- their wedding book. I finally broke it out and threw away my ratty old plastic binder for this beautiful gem. It's so pretty I don't want to ruin it by writing in it. Haha-- but I will. Vendors are going to think I'm nuts when I walk in with this thing, but my friends and family won't be too surprised... I'm nothing if not organized-- at least, on the surface! Now I'm prepared to actually start planning the wedding! (it's about time, right??)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Mahalo for removing your shoes-- no hu hu!

Growing up, we had a sign (the title of this post) hanging above our doorbell-- reminding visitors that we were a "no shoe house." It's typical in Hawaiian and Asian households, as well as some Scandinavian countries and in Alaska (who knew?). According the The Daily Om, the custom is born out of both practically and respectfulness-- the former most obviously in keeping dirt from being tracked in the house (and you all know how I feel about dirt); the latter being a way of showing respect by keeping the house clean and maintaining quiet. It also has symbolic roots-- of leaving the world outside. "In removing your shoes, your body lets your mind and spirit know that you are transitioning from work and other concerns to the sanctuary of your home."

Unfortunately I also work at home. Drat.

In any case, we finally finished all the flooring in the house-- months later than expected. But in addition to the wood downstairs, we've added beautiful cushy carpet to the stairs and upstairs landing and bedrooms-- making our house officially a "no shoe house." I've been anxiously awaiting this day and as I told MRN last night, for the first time, I really feel like I'm home. I can't tell you how nice it is to walk around barefoot because the floors are clean enough to stand on (and sit on and lie on) without shoes. I've always preferred sitting on the floor to furniture (an odd quirk, I know)-- and it has been irksome to not be able to do so in my own house because the floor and carpets were so disgusting (despite multiple diverse attempts to clean them) that you quite literally didn't want to walk around without shoes. In fact, I'm sitting on the floor next to the very comfortable new bed, just because. Ahhhh-- bliss!