Favorite New (to me) British Word

One can also be "chuffed to bits" (stoked) and "chuffed to buggery" (proud as hell) - and to make things even more fun 'chuffed' is also an auto-antonym, though I have yet to hear it used in the negative sense.

Even though we have been here over a year, I only heard this first (twice!) this week. This does not surprise me as the English are a modest bunch. Not a lot of 'tooting of one's own horn' going on here. I find this both refreshing and frustrating. Probably because I come from a country that is completely the opposite. It is certainly an endearing quality, just not one I am accustomed to.

It is these subtle differences in culture that make me feel lonely and, quite literally, like an alien sometimes. There is this sense of longing for my people, not because they are preferable as people, but because they are what I know and understand. And because all my life I have yearned to belong, it's even more difficult because the message is 'you don't belong'. I know there is something at work here. I know I am being challenged to grow and find my way through this.

This, for me, has been the essence of the expat life. The balance of getting to experience new and wonderous things with the ever present tension of not belonging. Hang with me as I figure it out, OK.

Art & Artists :: Abigail Brown & A Completely Unrelated Conversation

A huge thank you to one of my BYW Blogging friends, Fay Vowell of Bitten London for introducing me to the work of Abigail Brown. I don't know when I have ever been so enamored with someone's art. These bird sculptures are simply amazing.

I think what I love most about some of these is that I have a personal connection to them. These gorgeous guys are currently living in our courtyard:

These funky little guys used to hang out in the backyard of our house in South Africa:

And, we used to see these colorful beauties in Namibia:

I want all of them.  I could be the crazy bird lady! You can see more of Abigail's work HERE.

My oh my, Will and I have been watching the American TV series Friday Night Lights. Here is the conversation we had before we started watching the show:

Setting: On the couch staring at the TV

Me: What do you want to watch?
Will: I don't know. What is on?
Me: You know I cannot figure out the TV situation. My question is more general - comedy, drama, or reality?
Will: Sports
Me: Not an option. How about a drama?
Will: How about a drama about sports?
Me: That is an oxymoron.
Will: Did you just call me a moron?
Me: There is a drama about high school football. In Texas. Oh dear Lord. Should we watch that? (in my head: please say no)
Will: Sure, whatever.

Two weeks later:

Will: Are you ready to watch Friday Night Lights?
Me: I just need to check my email, give me a minute.
 Will: Ok, but hurry, and maybe we can get in 4 episodes before bedtime.

Yeah, we kind of like it.

Curated Links

I usually do these on the weekend, but whatever. Here's some lovely stuff I have found around the internets this week:

photo via The Daily What
I will never get back the hours I spent on this Flickr feed, but I laughed so hard I cried, so it was totally worth it. Laughing to the point of crying is oh so good for the soul, me thinks.

Do you like delicious things? Then I have 7 words for you. Pretzel Tots with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting. Oh yeah. Frosting idea from here. Tot recipe from here. Yum.

If you have not seen A Blog About Love yet, you are going to thank me. No matter your feelings on marriage, this is a must read. I am already in love with these two people and I'm so glad I started reading their blog in the beginning. Your gonna love it!

And last, but not least, photographer Tom Robinson took photos of his friends and family as he shared the news with them that he was going to be a father. This is priceless. How I love creative people!

Hope you are having a good week!

Inspiration - Forgiveness

As if I needed another reason to love Robert Downey, Jr.

I know a few things about the power of forgiveness. I also know a thing or two about hugging the cactus. If there is someone in your life you need to forgive, find a way to do it and set yourself free. If you feel you are in need of forgiveness from someone, you can ask for it and you may or may not get it, but know that the truth is this - you are already forgiven, so set yourself free.

Too serious? Sorry! To lighten things up a bit, my next post will have a ridiculously shallow focus on what I'm wearing to work tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Barcelona Part One

We were in Barcelona in April. It would be hard to imagine a more beautiful city. My jaw was perpetually dropped and I drove my husband bonkers pointing out every single gorgeous house and building (which is sort of all of them). He was so good about it though - "Yes, that is beautiful.", "Yes, I do see the fresco detail now that you point it out.",  "Mmm, even more beautiful than the last one". He is such a good husband that way - he supports what I'm passionate about by pretending to know what a fresco is. So sweet.

I am not exaggerating when I say, every single house and building looks like this. Street after street, in every part of the city. It is just so beautiful. I dragged my poor family several hundred blocks to see something I have been waiting to see for as long as I can remember. They were getting a bit cranky and at one point Will said, "This better be good". So, when we rounded the corner and came upon this:

Well, it all worked out. (I think he said, Woooah, holy sh#*! or something along those lines) La Sagrada Familia. All it is promised to be and more. I could have sat and looked at it for days. The photograph does not do it justice. It is one massive, detailed, craggy, wonder of a building.

It is a Roman Catholic church designed by Antonio Gaudi and has been under construction since 1882. It is projected to be complete in 2026. In regard to the timeline for the construction of the building, Gaudi is reported to have said, "My client is not in a hurry".

Another beautiful part of the city is the Barri Gothic. It is the ancient part of the city with winding alleys and a massive cathedral.

I'm telling you these European churches are mind blowing. I have seen so many pictures of them, but I was really thankful to be able to stand in one and just be overtaken with awe. I really don't think God likes these churches any more than say, ones made from former home improvement stores, but I cannot deny that I felt the holiness of this place.

The one thing we found difficult about Barcelona was a cultural thing (of course - there is really only ever one problem with leaving one's country and that is the problem of entering another culture). The Spanish have very strange eating times. Honestly, there is one thing you do not mess with and that is my access to food. On our first day, we were all done with site-seeing etc. and we were ready to chow down. It was 6:30 pm. Dinner time right? Not so much. We literally could not find an open restaurant. We walked and walked and were totally bewildered - and SUPER cranky. Finally we just stood outside of one that looked promising and waited. And waited. 8:30 pm and the doors finally opened. Seriously - the entire city (maybe the entire country?) is like this. They eat in the morning and go to work and then they eat a very large LATE lunch - from 2:00-4:00. Then I have no idea what they do - go back to work maybe? Then they eat dinner at what is basically my bedtime. I honestly thought we might have to leave once I realized this. I cannot eat that late - I will not sleep. And sleep is only second to eat on the list of things I really, really like to do. Such is the hazard of traveling to the unfamiliar.  Here is us finally sitting down to dinner that first night. Can you see how hungry we are? We were trying to get the pasta out of that thing in the wall (No, we were not. That would be gross).

It was an Italian restaurant! We had Spanish tapas the next day - yum. But, my favorite meal in Barcelona was sushi. Sushi is my favorite meal anywhere. More Barcelona coming soon. Have a fantastic day/night wherever you are!

Mood Boards :: Simone LeBlanc

As part of the Blogging Your Way course I have been taking we were asked to make mood boards to help us define our blog style. I have done plenty of mood boards in the past for clients and I did one for this blog a few months back. I remembered being inspired by these amazing mood boards from Simone LeBlanc and wanted to share them with you.

Simone runs a creative services company. Her website and blog are a great place to get lost in creative inspiration. I would love to know how she puts these mood boards together.

I hope everyone is having a good week. I worked early this week and now have one long, glorious weekend ahead of me. I will be catching up on my BYW class and possibly running down to London for a day. I'm sure there are some other less pleasant activities that I am currently in denial about as well (hello ironing, supermarket shopping and shower soapscum).

I am having some professional photos taken on Monday for work and it has been a long time since I have done a photo shoot. I'm going to post some pics this weekend of my outfit options, and I need some advice, so please stop by the blog on Sunday and help me!!

She's Back!

My little traveler has returned from Paris. She was too tired to share about her experience last night, but this morning at breakfast I got a little bit out of her.  She mentioned enjoying the Tour Eiffel, but it seems the 'amazing fresh baguettes' were equally impressive. Hmmm . . . massive feat of architecture vs. fresh french bread. That is a tough one.
photo via Abercrombie & Kent
The people working at the markets in Paris have been around long enough to know that British school girls are told they are only allowed to address French people in French, so when the girls would cheat and try to ask for something in English, the person would refuse until they asked in French. They also had to journal about their day in French. She brought us presents including a sweet little print of Paris and a beret for me - I have always wanted a real french beret! I would have shared one of her pictures here, but, not surprisingly, there are many of her and her friends and very few of Paris! That's what it is all about really anyway - making memories with friends. I'm so thankful she had fun, and so thankful to have her home.

Kirtsy Slideshow - Monograms!

I have a new slideshow all about Monograms over at Kirtsy today! Head on over and check it out for some great inspiration and links to do-it-yourself monogram projects. Click HERE.

photo via The Lonny Blog

A big thanks to the team over at Kirtsy for having me!!

Art & Artists - Nama Rococo

There has been some crazy talk around here lately about actually settling down somewhere at some point. It's just talk for now, but it did start me thinking about decorating my own home. I was trying to remember what we have in our storage unit and all I could think about were these french dot wallpaper panels from Nama Rococo, I bought several years ago. I intended to frame them and hang them, but never got around to it (do you guys do that, or am I alone on the Island of Misfit Decorators?). They are really lovely, so I thought I would share the pictures from Nama's website:

This is what I want to do with mine (but I only have 2).

This is what it looks like when applied as actual wallpaper. This would have been my first choice, but I cannot imagine how time consuming and expensive it would be. Isn't it gorgeous?!

This is an individual wallpaper panel. Each one is hand screened and made with different colors. The paper is exquisite and they are quite large (25" x 38"). They really are individual works of art. You can see more of what Nama Rococo offers over and learn more about the process of how they make their wallpapers over at their website .

I can't wait to be re-united with these beauties. I'm sure there is some other good stuff in the storage unit and there will be a lot of fun (and possibly a lot of spiders), when we go through it. Sometimes I have a nightmare that somehow everything got ruined in there, but I'm not sure how that would happen and even if it did, it's all just stuff. Still ... and I hope there are not spiders. I really hate spiders.

Obsessions - Floorplans

I wrote a few months ago about my problem with only having two modes. 1) Utter lack of focus or 2) intense laser focus. These Obsession posts are about the latter. Here is how this usually goes down. I start to wonder about something. In this case, it's the Draper's house in the show Mad Men. As I watched the show, I began to feel the need to know how the house was laid out. How did the rooms relate to one another? Why did Sally and Bobby share a bedroom in what appeared to be such a large house from the outside? Why did it sometimes seem that a doorway led to Don's office, while other times it led to the laundry room? The vague wondering then became an urgent need. I was laying in bed at night wondering about the layout of house that does not even exist. Granted, we were watching Mad Men, like ... well mad men, 3 or 4 episodes a time. It's that kind of show. But still, this is not something that should be keeping me up at night. My only comfort, is that in turning to the Google for answers to these questions, it became apparent, that I am clearly not alone. Behold my magnificent discovery:

from Mambo Deb's Photobucket

I found this in the MadMen Forum. A fan named Mambo Deb took it upon herself to draw up the floorplans, as best as she could figure. God bless her. I love all of her notes making reference to different episodes.

As I began to search deeper, I realized that it isn't just the Draper's house I am curious about. I have been doing this for a long time. Possibly with every TV show I have ever watched. So, when I found the Etsy shop, Fantasy Floorplans, I was pretty stoked. Yes, it's an entire Etsy shop dedicated to the 'fictional floorplans of TV's most popular homes'. If you have ever wondered what Will and Grace's apartment might look like from an architect's point of view, this is the place for you. You can also find Cosmo Kramer's apartment, Carrie Bradshaw's place and the piece de resistance of all TV homes - the Brady Bunch split level! So fun. So, any other floorplan fanatics out there or am I the only one who has completely missed plots, story lines, character development and God knows what else because I couldn't stop thinking about whether the first floor bath is located in a convenient, yet discreet location?

This ...

Is made of LEGOS!

Dude. Wow.

One of Those Days

Sometimes you've just got to push through it . . .

A Quick Question . . .

So, I get the whole boho homeless thing (in an 'appreciate from afar' kind of way) and I am ALL about messy hair, but might Mary Kate (Ashley?) be taking things a bit too far if she is in danger of being mistaken for Ozzy Osbourne?

BTW, this post equals the sum total of the following: utter avoidance of actual things that need to be done + Google image search of completely unrelated topic that somehow looped me around to Mary Kate/Ashley (I secretly believe this happens with all Google searches) + 2 ½ glasses of wine. There you go.