Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How Come Mine Never Look Like That?

I was perusing an article the other day about how to freshen things up in your back garden. "Oh", I thought, "I could probably learn something from this." (At this time of year in Chicago, everyone's gardens are still dead and we're not supposed to start planting till May 1 because of the risk of frost. It's all a little depressing and hard to remember that, come summer, if you keep up with your watering, everything will be lovely.)

Anyway, this is the article and these are some of the suggestions -

Tea cup bird feeder:

Initially I thought this was quite sweet. I'd imagine you have to glue the cup on to the saucer, or spend a fortune in replacement cups. And then I imagined someone like my mother (who's coming in May) saying "Why do you have a cup and saucer swinging from that tree?". When I try to do these artsy things, they always look sort of, well. stupid. Besides, I don't have a tree.

Chalk Embellishments - 

I love the look of this, but one word (especially in the UK) - RAIN!

Bottle Tree (aka "colorful glass feature") -

I really should try this one because lord knows, I have enough empties to supply the whole street with this "feature". But seriously? Has anyone actually done this? Here's what I do with my empties and I think it actually works.

Candle holder inserted into empty (sadly) bottle of Dom. 

And finally the "Chair Ornament", otherwise known as "rickety old chair".

Again, in theory, this could look quite good in a shabby chic kind of way. Were I to try it however, it would probably just look like I'd left a chair out for too long and then dumped some flowers on it. Or worse, someone would remove the flowers, sit on the chair and fall straight through the middle.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Why I'm Practicing for England

So, I have my flights booked for my annual (except I missed last year) trip to the homeland. In preparation for the inevitable weight gain that comes with not working out for a month and eating and drinking my way around the UK, I plan to lose a few pounds, but that's just the start of my prep list.

Getting used to being hungry. Not that I don't get fed in the UK, - quite the reverse - but meals are so much later than they are here, my stomach sometimes thinks my throat's been cut. Here, we eat lunch at noon, on the dot; when we're in England it can sometimes be 2pm before a morsel is seen. Dinner here is never later than 7pm whereas in England sometimes it's 8pm before it's even mentioned.

Sleeping in the daylight. In the north of England, where I spend most of my time, it's still broad daylight at 10pm and the sun comes back out at a criminal 4am. I like it dark in my bedroom, which tends not to happen in the UK. Must remember to pack one of those sleeping masks and hope I don't wake up with elastic marks on the side of my face.

Recognizing coins. I shall have to go online and make sure I'm up to date with the UK coinage. A few years ago I handed over a 50p and the man behind the counter laughed, gave it back to me and told me it had been out of circulation for about five years. Very embarrassing. Even more embarrassing having to inspect each coin before paying for anything like someone who's just landed from a different planet (which in some respects I have). The fact that I have an English accent makes for some confusion and I can almost hear people wondering why on earth I don't recognize my own legal tender.

Teaching my kids how to eat. Well, sprucing up their table manners so that they don't show me up. Like many Americans, they treat as much food as they can as finger food, use a fork if pressed and rarely touch the knife that I always put out for them. (The triumph of hope over experience.) While I explain to Brits that it's not rude in the US to eat with the fork in the right hand, in reality, it makes for a much easier life if they just eat Brit-style while they're over there.

And while I'm on the subject of manners, I should also remind them to say "Please" about ten times more than they do, and not to say "he" or "she" when the person in question is standing right in front of them, unless they want to give grandma a heart attack!

Have I left anything out I wonder.

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