Black Friday Madness!

Come on then, fess up, how much turkey did you manage to eat your way through? Did you survive the food coma? I stuffed my face with bacon wrapped turkey, a huge ham, a mountain of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables and mountains of other food! Oh and that broccoli cheese casserole I had to make – turned out pretty well if you ask me! What do you reckon?

Well, there should have been a picture here but I was so excited I forgot to take one – massive error on my part! But it was creamy, golden brown on top with melted cheese and went down a storm! Yay!

So after Thanksgiving comes Black Friday which basically translates to millions of manic shoppers across America trying to bag the best bargain ever! Shops literally have 60% off everything, including the items that already have a discount!! The thing is though, some people go mad, and by mad I mean they start camping outside stores on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving so that they’re the first in the queue!! Seriously! This is actually happening at our local mall. And it’s freezing outside – like minus temperatures at night (this is a rarity in Georgia!) Who on earth does that?! You’d never ever catch me pitching a tent outside Macy’s ready to be the first in the queue! I’d rather be recovering from that food coma on the sofa!

Black Friday is getting pretty ridiculous over here though if you ask me – many stores are now opening on Thanksgiving Day! Now Thanksgiving doesn’t really have the same relevance to me – being a Brit and all – but I definitely was not heading to the stores on Thanksgiving Day! It’s a holiday – not time to shop! You should be spending it with family and friends, sipping a few drinks, eating waaaay too much food and generally falling into a huge food coma! Some stores opened at 8pm and stayed open all the way through the night – I’ve just seen pictures on the news of people hauling 50″ TV’s over their head through the crowds! Madness!

I will however be shopping today – but I won’t be the first in the queue! I’ve enjoyed a lie in and breakfast and will soon be heading out to brave the crowds that I’m hoping might have calmed down a bit! I hate crowds. I avoid shopping at busy times at all costs but when there’s huge deals on a girl has to give it a try, right?!

So we’ve made a list of the shops we need to visit – we’re planning on getting some Christmas pressies at the same time – and hopefully we’ll survive to tell the tale! I’ll be kitting myself out in my comfy shoes and heading off on my Black Friday mission! Hopefully I won’t have too  many people pushing into me or blocking the way! There’s nothing worse than being bashed into by those serious shoppers who shout at you if you get in the way! I think I might need a big glass of wine by the time I get home!!

The plan is to head home with loads of bags (hopefully the German won’t do his usual man thing and get fed up after one shop!) some major bargains, a completed Christmas shopping list and maybe a couple of treats for ourselves!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving guys!! Or Happy Turkey Day as some say over here! Are you preparing to head into a food coma after eating your own weight in turkey? I definitely am! We’re currently watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (It’s amazing by the way! I so wish I was in New York!!) before heading off to our Thanksgiving celebrations!

So it’s officially turkey time here in Atlanta – these American’s don’t wait around until Christmas like us Brits, oh, no, no! Thanksgiving is where it’s at! So this is the German and I’s first Thanksgiving and we are determined to throw ourselves into it – I mean who wouldn’t want to get involved in turkey and plenty of other food!

So our Thanksgiving celebrations started on Sunday – more on that later! First up, I’m sure the Brits among you are wondering what Thanksgiving actual is apart from another excuse to eat until you fall into a food coma, yes? Well, let me explain – Thanksgiving is traditionally a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and the year ahead. It’s said that the first Thanksgiving dinner took place in Plimoth Colony back in October 1621, when the pilgrims and native Americans came together in order to survive. Nowadays though it is much different!

Our introduction on Sunday saw us heading out into the Georgia countryside following an invitation from our friend Carson to his family dinner! How nice, right? American’s are so friendly and we were very grateful for the invitation. We were so excited to experience our first Thanksgiving meal and we were definitely not disappointed – check out this plate of goodies:

Yum!

Yum!

So the traditional Thanksgiving dinner now consists of turkey, ham and a lot of side dishes! Let me explain this plate to you (complete with red cup, just like the films!!) so there’s turkey cooked three ways – roasted, fried (yes, everything gets fried here in the South!) and one cooked on a Green Egg – it’s a BBQ that is very expensive but cooks the meat really well! (The German would love one but sadly we’re not allowed grills at our apartment unless they’re electric and what is the point in that?!) Then there’s the honey ham, the sweet potatoes, the stuffing, the turkey dressing, the sweet potatoes with pecan nuts on top, the green beans, the mashed potatoes, the creamed corn, the vegetable bake, the broccoli cheese casserole, the fried okra, the mac and cheese, the pineapple casserole (that one kind of took me by surprise! I thought it was potato based!) and the devilled egg, and do you know what the best thing was – every single bit of it was delicious!!! I could eat it again right now!! Yum!

It was then followed by desert, and I’m not just talking one cake, this is America remember! There was an apple butter pumpkin pie, a fig and pecan pie, a chocolate chip pecan pie, a coconut cake, a chocolate sheet cake and some sort of fruit loaf – I tucked into the pumpkin pie, the fig and pecan pie and the chocolate sheet cake – every single one of them was amazing! The German sampled the coconut and the chocolate chip pecan pie – they both got top marks from him!

The downside to all this eating though was the food coma that followed! Slowly, everyone turned sluggish and sleepy as the turkey kicked in! The next stop was home, the sofa and some movies! We had an amazing time and were made to feel so welcome by Carson’s family! Thank you so much!!

After more turkey yesterday with a pot luck Thanksgiving dinner at the German cultural center where I volunteer, there’s even more turkey action today – we’re heading to a Thanksgiving dinner with a difference where 3 Danes, 2 Germans, 1 Brit (me!), 1 Dutch guy and last but by no means least 1 American will be sitting around the table! We all have to take a side dish – I’m making broccoli cheese casserole – I’ll let you know how that one goes! Another food coma is predicted later!

Hope you’re all having a fab Thanksgiving! How are you spending yours? Are you in a turkey coma yet?

Today’s Ramblings #9

Hey peeps! How was your weekend?It’s freezing and raining here today so I’m snuggled up on the sofa with the heating on (I know, I didn’t think I’d need it in Georgia either!) and a throw to keep me warm and toasty! I also have a good old cup of tea now that we’ve finally invested in one of these:

Kettle

A good brew!

Yep, 10 months after landing in this country we’ve got ourselves a kettle! I don’t know how I’ve  managed without it for so long but somehow I have! You see in America these things are practically non-existent! Some people don’t even know what they are!! Let me explain oh lovely American friends of mine! You see a kettle in the UK is a ‘must-have’ in every kitchen, I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t own one! First of all it’s used for that all important cup of tea! A brew fixes everything in the UK, fact. But it also makes cooking easier – you can whip up some broth quickly by boiling the kettle and not needing a pan on the stove, you can get your water boiling quicker when you’re making things like pasta or potatoes and it’s just generally a very useful too to have in the kitchen! It’s definitely a welcome addition to mine! I do have to point out that we did bring one over with us from the UK but thanks to the different voltages over here it didn’t work – booo! Now though I can make as many brews as I like! Yay!!

I plunged even further in to the American life the other day, well that’s maybe exaggerating things a little! I tried this comfort food special:

Delish!

Delish!

Tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich! Apparently this is perfect comfort food out here in the States (along with things like mac and cheese! Yum!) and it definitely hit the spot for lunch on Friday! The melted cheese in the sandwich was amazing (who doesn’t like cheese right?) and when it was dipped into the tomato soup – one word – yummy!! I’ll definitely be delving into that delight again, especially now it’s getting colder! Perfect Sunday afternoon lazing on the sofa food!

Oh and the German had a fire again last night, when I didn’t bank on was hoovering out my washing machine in the process! (You weren’t expecting that one, right?!) Yep, in the process of building his fire he managed to get the wood in the washer! Let me explain, the wood is stored above the washer in the utility closet, and despite me saying ‘close the washer before you get your wood’ the German left the lid open (for you Brits out there it’s a top loader!) and whilst returning the wood he didn’t want back to the shelf we ended up with this:

Washer

The wood fell all over the German, all over the floor and into the washer! Typical boy! So I found myself getting out the hoover (vacuum if you’re American!) and hoovering the bits out of the washer! Ah well, it’s one to tick off the list and the German did produce something pretty so I can’t complain!

Pretty!

Pretty!

Today’s Ramblings #8

Quick post today peeps – I’m volunteering today and need to get ready to go!

So just 2 days ago I wrote a post about Christmas adverts in the UK (If you didn’t read it you can check it out here) and how the UK does them better than anywhere else, mainly because they all make me cry! Since then, uproar has broken out in the US because of this little gem that I need to share with you:

What do you reckon to that then? OK, so it doesn’t have the soppy factor of the John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and Tesco ads but it’s definitely got something! Over here some are disgusted, saying they felt dirty watching it. I personally think it’s fun! It definitely put a smile on my face and beats the other Christmas adverts so far in the States! Never, ever will it beat John Lewis though!

And guess what…the first living people to appear on US postage stamps are…wait for it…Brits!!! Yep, us Brits are taking over the States (again!) and heading onto the postage stamps! And do you  know who it’s gonna be? The stars of Harry Potter! Harry himself (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermoine (Emma Watson), Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), among others, will be appearing on letters making their way across the States and around the world soon! I think I need to get myself some of those! Go the Brits!!

Oh and one more thing…I need to say a big fat HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my big brother!! Yep the old boy has clocked another year on earth today so I thought I’d celebrate with this gem of a photo of him:

Happy Birthday Big Bro!

Happy Birthday Big Bro!

Have a fab day, and don’t let the beer train go on too many infinite loops – it’s a school night after all! I’m sure you’ll make up for it at the weekend though!

Holidays are Coming!

Can we have a moment for this please? YAAAAAAAY HOLIDAYS ARE COMING!! (Can you tell that I’m excited about this prospect?!)
And this means Christmas adverts which I LOVE! The thing is though, over here in America they’re just not the same.  Sad face time 😦

Let me explain…

Back in the UK, probably around the 1st of November, this advert appears on TV:

Seeing this officially means Christmas is on the way (along with the hundreds of Facebook updates from friends which all say ‘Just seen the Coke ad, Holidays are coming!’ or ‘Just seen the Coke ad, it’s officially nearly Christmas!’) however, I haven’t seen it this year. Again, sad face time 😦 I’ve seen the updates on Facebook weeks ago, but I haven’t seen the advert on TV. Living in the city where Coke was created, I find this very sad indeed! I have seen one Coke ad:

But, it’s just not the same as the Coke trucks!!

Now in the UK, the Christmas ads don’t stop at Coca Cola, oh, no, no, no! Every big department store and supermarket has a one and they are a big thing! Each one is like a little film and tells a story, everyone gets excited when they arrive on screen and they’re the talk of the office at work! And thanks to the joys of Facebook and my friends posting all the links I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them all! And because I’m so nice and I don’t want you guys to miss out, I thought I’d post a selection of my favourites so that you can see what I’m talking about!

So, first up is the Marks and Spencer ad. This is one of the most iconic British shops ever, Ma Cook worked there for more than 30 years, my brother and I both worked there during university along with my cousin, so it kind of has a special place in the Cook household! Every year they do something different, and this year it has a Alice in Wonderland theme! I think it’s good, but not the best one of the season! Have a look and see what you think:

Yes, the dog is cute, yes the German’s eyes pricked up when the underwear scenes were on, and yes it’s kind of magical! But it doesn’t beat the next offering, this one by the supermarket Sainsbury’s. Now I’m not going to lie, I cried when watching this one:

Yes, I did just cry again! It’s just such a nice advert and what Christmas is all about – family, food and fun!

Next up is another supermarket advert, Tesco. Now the German saw this one before me and said it was rubbish, I on the other hand had a totally different reaction:

Yes, it made me cry and yes the German thought I was an idiot for crying at an advert! But that advert is again what Christmas is about and reminds me of every Christmas in the Cook household when growing up – we always ran down the stairs but had to wait to see if Santa had been before going into the living room, there’s always a family argument with Ma Cook standing in the kitchen with a glass of wine whilst cooking and of course it’s all about family!

The last one needs to come with a warning – this is my absolute favourite of the season and cannot be beaten! It is amazing, and once again made me cry! Let me introduce to you to the John Lewis Christmas Ad 2013:

Every year this department store comes out with the best advert – last year it focused around a couple of snowmen and yes, there were tears when I watched it! There are no other words for this one apart from AMAZING!

As you can imagine, watching TV during the festive season in the UK is a nightmare! I love the adverts coming on but end up in a blubbering mess all the time! No matter how may times you watch them they always have the same effect! Watching these now though just gets me more and more excited for our trip back to Europe for Christmas and New Year! Yay! We’re spending a week in Germany over Christmas and a week in England for New Year! And never fear lovely blog readers of mine, as German’s don’t do the traditional Christmas dinner (they’re seriously missing out with that one!), Ma Cook is pulling out all the stops and we’re having a second Christmas day on New Years day!! Yay!! The woman is amazing and I am so excited!!

So, what did you think of the ads? Which one was your favourite?

Today’s Ramblings #7

I reckon I can read your mind! Yep you heard that right, I reckon that right now, at this very second that you’re reading this I know exactly what you’re thinking. What you’re wondering right now and you’re desperate to know is…Did the German get to light his fire? Am I right? Yes? No? Well if it was a yes (yay I can read minds!) then you’ll love the next bit of this blog post, if it was a no (boo my mind reading skills ain’t what they cracked up to be!) then tough, because you’re about to find out the answer anyway! And here it is:

Toby's Fire

Yes, the German’s dream finally came true and he got to light a fire! It suddenly turned cold yesterday here in Atlanta, and despite the German saying he was going to the driving range after work, he skipped it, was home before me and the fire was already underway! That’s despite the fact I said wait for me to get home for blog pictures!! Yes ladies and gents, I’m always thinking of you and this blog! The German just couldn’t wait any longer to play man and fire! (What is it with men and fire?! They have some sort of obsession with it don’t they? Or is that just my German and should I be worried about this?) Anyway, the fire was looking pretty and the German was very happy indeed:

Toby's Fire 2

Look at those smiley, happy chops!! The boy is in his element! However, he did use a whole box of firewood and had to be stopped when he went on the hunt to his man cave (also known as the spare closet or dumping ground where the suitcases, bike, golf clubs and the German’s DIY tools live!) for more wood and even then it was still glowing when we went to bed! The German assured me this was ok but I was kind of worried about it! When I got up this morning, however, it was freezing, and I mean FREEZING in the apartment so I went to close the fireplace to keep some cold out, but, the German’s blummin fire was STILL smouldering!! Yep, over 12 hours after he started it there was still smoke coming from it, sadly no heat though! But the first fire in the Me, Myself and Atlanta house has been deemed a success, the house doesn’t smell of smoke (phew!) and the German will no doubt be lighting more of them throughout the winter, well once he’s cleaned up from the last one – his fire, his mess, he cleans it up! My housewife duties don’t stretch that far!

Speaking of the weather and how cold it’s become in these parts over the past couple of days, we got an amazing email from our apartment complex the other day! It was entitled ‘Freeze Warning’ and went along the lines of:

‘Dear Neighbors,

The weather reports say that we will be getting some freezing temperatures for the next few nights. Here are some helpful tips to keep you and your home safe and warm:’

So my first thought was check out the spelling of neighbours (I sometimes forget where I am!), then soon after it was more along the lines of ‘are we really getting this email?’ Yep it seems in America you get warnings about everything, even how to handle the weather! Now I know we Brits like to be prepared for things and as soon as a snowflake hits the ground we bolt out of the office and head home causing traffic jams 10 miles long but emails like this don’t happen back home! Anyway, I’m sure you’re wondering what handy and helpful tips we were handed? Yes? Well here goes:

‘Please remember to let your faucets drip.’  The German’s reply to this was ‘what’s a faucet?’ once the fact it’s the tap was quickly cleared up we moved onto the next one:

‘Set your thermostat to at least 65 degrees (heat – auto)’We were already failing on this one, our heating system isn’t even turned on! However, that is kind of self-explanatory, you’re not gonna have it any lower than that – you’d be sooooo cold!!

‘Leave all your interior doors completely open to ensure proper circulation in your home’Common sense if you ask me!

‘Open the cabinet doors under the kitchen/bathroom sinks to keep the pipes inside the walls from freezing.’Now when we’re talking freezing temperatures in Atlanta, we mean temperatures might reach freezing overnight but will warm up quickly the following morning, not the minus temperatures we see back in England that stick around practically all day and I’ve never kept my cupboard doors open under the sink to stop the  pipes from freezing, I’ve also never had frozen pipes!

And my personal favourite:

‘Please be careful when walking/driving on icy surfaces.’Basically because if they don’t write that and you slip, fall and hurt yourself of your car skids into something they’re probably going to end up being sued for a large amount of money! Got to love the suing culture over here!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not slating the fact they did this – it’s kind of nice that they’re looking out for you and making sure you know what to do/staying safe. However, it’s really just common sense isn’t it? You’ll more than likely take these steps anyway! It just amazes me that companies think they have to do this to cover their own backs if something went wrong and now that we have this email they can always say ‘well, we did warn you about these things!’

Please comment and let me know, is this a common thing in America or just something my apartment complex seems to do? You definitely wouldn’t get it in the UK, that’s for sure!

Today’s Ramblings #6

The German wants to light a fire. Here. In Atlanta.

IMG_6239

Yep, we have a beautiful wood burning fire in our apartment and apparently he’s really excited to get it going since we moved in back in March. The thing is, we live in Atlanta, in the South, where the temperatures rarely dip below 15 degrees celcius, and to me that isn’t cold!! But the German is determined to light a fire at some point! He was so close but yet so far on Saturday – it was kind of chilly for a change, in fact so chilly that I’d retrieved the throw we used to use practically everyday back in Leeds and wrapped myself up in it on the sofa! But sadly for the German we were going out that evening and my exact words were ‘If we weren’t going out tonight, you could have had a fire.’ He wasn’t impressed! But he’s already planning his first fire – he’s checked the weather out and he reckons today could be the day!! If it is I will have one very happy husband! I’ll keep you posted on that one!

Now if there’s one thing you don’t want to see whilst driving in Atlanta (apart from the rows and rows of traffic that are inevitable through the 4 hours that consititute rush hour!) it’s this:

IMG_6233

Yes the delightful school bus! I agree, they look amazing and at first make you feel like you’re in a film (yes American readers, back in the UK we don’t have the yellow buses, we’ve only seen them on the big screen!) but once you’re behind one you may aswell double, or maybe triple, your journey time! These things stop EVERYWHERE, and I mean EVERYWHERE! Unlike in the UK where they stop at the usual bus stops and the kids have to walk the rest of the way home, here in the States they literally stop outside every single house, well as long as a student lives there! I got stuck behind one yesterday, and I kid you not, the bus moved literally 1 hundred yards before stopping again! House, after house, apartment complex after apartment complex, if kids were getting off, it was stopping and they seemed to be getting off at every single one! And it isn’t much easier if you’re heading in the opposite direction either, once the bus stops, both sides of the road must stop too! But at least on the other side once you’re past it, you’re past it, not stuck behind it stopping every 2 seconds!

And get ready for this gem…the Holiday season is in full swing here in America! So much so that even the fast food joints have ‘Holiday’ menus! And when I say fast food I’m talking places like Church’s Chicken (for you Brits back home this is like a KFC!) who are offering a ‘Holiday Bundle’ that gives you 8 pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes and corn on the cob! Seriously?! Yes, because this is America! God Bless it!