Today’s Ramblings #16

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while so I thought it was high time the ramblings returned! Grab a brew…here we go:

Baseball is back people! This is the exciting news of the day here in America-land. Well actually it officially returned last night but today baseball returns for the Atlanta Braves. Their season opener takes place this afternoon and I think the whole city (including the Richter’s) is excited about it. Soon, next week in fact, we’ll be donning our Braves gear and heading back down to Turner Field to watch them in action…it’s been too long people!

Ramblings 13
Let the baseball snacks (more than likely chilli cheese fries and a burger – that’s not going to help the wedding diet!), lazy days drinking beer in the sun at the ball park, singing ‘Take me out to the ball game’ at the start of the bottom of the seven, the peanuts and of course the chopping commence! #FearTheChop

I spotted this guy at the gym earlier. I mean, seriously, who goes to the gym wearing this stuff?

Ramblings 14
He was on a cross trainer, in jeans, and a fleece. He never took the fleece off for the whole, I’d say 30 minutes or so of his time on there. He did have a towel to wipe his sweat away but jeez, he must have been hot. I’m not sure if the woman knows him or is thinking the same as me? Not long after he took his place another guy wearing jeans and a t-shirt got on a cross trainer too. Is this a new trend I don’t know about? Good on him for exercising though!

Summer is finally here! Yes people, I’ve had a pedicure and these have finally been cracked out of the closet:

Ramblings 15
After a long and very cold winter here in Atlanta the temperatures are rising, the sun is out and my sandals are finally back on my feet! That is where they will now be staying for the forseeable future. Oh how I love the summer! I might have to take a walk later to see if the pool is officially open yet…

Oh and in case you were wondering the critter is still making an appearance. More on that in a future blog post. Let’s just say we’re still trying to track that thing down.

Ramblings over, it’s time to go and eat some leftovers from last night’s Mexican for lunch. Yum!

Have a good day y’all!

Advertisements

Happy Mother’s Day!

Don’t worry American readers of mine, you haven’t missed the big day, it’s not happened yet in the States but today is Mother’s Day back in the UK, so here’s a big fat HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to that little lady I call Ma Cook/Minimum/Little One:

Mothers Day 2
This is when life as an expat is a little bit pants. Instead of taking Ma Cook out for Sunday Dinner (a British tradition) or spoiling her with some cheeky afternoon drinking I am 4 thousand miles away, wishing her a Happy Mothers Day via FaceTime. This year I did get the chance to buy her a present in person a couple of weeks ago when I was back in the UK, instead of putting some money in her account and telling her to buy something nice. I also left a card for her to open this morning (along with this blog post, it’s guaranteed to make her cry!) so for once she doesn’t have a pants MoonPig card because I can’t get a Mother’s Day card in the US (no offence MoonPig, you’ve saved my bacon on many an occasion, you just sometimes don’t have the right words) and actually has a shop bought card that I left in the traditional early cards place at home before flying back to Atlanta.

The Little One is missed lots in the Richter house but, thanks to the joys of FaceTime she’s usually popping up on a daily basis, filling me in on the gossip, having a little rant, telling me she misses me, showing me her latest sugarcraft creations or shouting at me for something that I may or may not have done. Even when you’re 4 thousand miles away, your mum can still shout at you…believe me!

So Happy Mother’s Day to the best mum in the world…Ma Cook! Hope you have a lovely day! This won’t make up for me not being there but mum, you’ve got a full blog post dedicated just to you!! Nobody else has had that yet, not even the German!

What have I gotten myself into?

A few weeks ago I thought it would be a good idea to do this:

Peachtree 1

Yep, don my running shoes and do a 10k. Me. The person who hasn’t been running for years, and even when I did go running I wasn’t THAT good at it. My friend used to have to kick my ass to make sure I didn’t give up, and when I’d finished said run (I say run, it was more like a shuffle that could possible pass off as a jog) I was bright red, out of breath and desperate for some water. A bit like a dog on a hot day.

Despite this, I thought it would be a good idea to do the Peachtree Road Race. I still don’t know why.

So, I mentioned this to the German, he was fully against it. I also mentioned it to my Mandy who I go to the gym with. She was also fully against it but she mentioned it to  her fiancé and he was all for it, but only if all four of us signed up. After not much thought and a lot of persuasion, both the German and Mandy agreed to sign up, or at least enter the lottery to attempt to get a place.

Last Saturday, Team Couch Potato was born and we all entered the lottery, literally hours before it was going to close. The German was secretly hoping our team wouldn’t be selected. His fingers were crossed for the next couple of days, until on Tuesday morning, the first word to leave his mouth was ‘shit.’

You guessed it people, we’d received this email:

IMG_8798

We’d only been picked to do this thing! The German wasn’t a happy bunny and when I text Mandy she said she was with him, but Carson was super pumped! I’m actually pretty excited about it too.

It’s something I think I should attempt to do, being an expat in Atlanta and having the chance to participate in something like this is all part of the expat experience – trying out as many things as you can. The Peachtree Road Race is ledendary in these parts, people come from all over America to get involved and I’ve got a place in it, along with 59,999 others! That and the fact I want the t-shirt you get at the end. Actually I think the t-shirt is what I want the most!

So it’s all happening on Independence Day – 4th July, 2014. My only fear is the weather. Even at 9am on 4th July it will probably be about 90 degrees. I do not run well in the heat. I don’t run well period, but give me some slightly higher temperatures and I’m completely rubbish. During my small career as a runner (I really can’t call it that but I’m gonna go with it anyway) I struggled to run in what us Brits call summer, we’re talking 70 degrees. Add another 20 degrees on that and the added humidity and I think I may struggle to survive. Oh and then there are hills. Atlanta is quite a hilly city and this gal is no good at running up hills. When I did run it was in Hull, the flattest city in the UK. But, I’ve signed up now, I have to do it…

Let the attempted training begin:

IMG_8823

Do you know what the worst thing is – this was all my idea! It’s me that’s got us all into this. Me. The non-runner. Oh dear Lord.

But, here goes people, the running shoes are on and I’m heading out into the great unknown that is running. Will I survive? Will I be able to complete this 10k? Only time will tell. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my ups and downs along the way!

Another mysterious mason jar update.

It’s still here.

Whatever it is that is sneaking into our apartment at night and eating our chocolates is still here and still pinching our chocolates. This I do not like.

Last week the German turned the house upside down looking for potential holes (well he told me that, I wasn’t actually here but I did get a couple of pictures where the sofa was in a different place!), the maintenance men came in, also checked for holes and put some bait down in potential hideaway places. The German attempted to film the said intruder but, that night it never showed up. Once the maintenance men had been in the little critter didn’t make an appearance for a couple of days…sorted we thought.

I landed back in Atlanta on Friday, woke up on Saturday morning and saw this:

mason jar 6
Yes, our little friend was back. Just look at those claw prints! How very dare it? The German had left another flour trap near to the heating cupboard after both he and the maintenance men thought that’s where whatever it is could be getting in but that flour wasn’t touched, ruling it out completely.

The following night we left a chocolate out of the jar and by morning it had disappeared again. The next couple of nights it returned so, once again, the German set up his iPad to record it and got up twice in the night to stop and start it again, each time he got up he returned with the words ‘it’s not been,’ blatantly this thing does not like it when you leave a light on! It’s a clever little thing that’s for sure.

So, I made a trip to the leasing office a couple of days ago and talked to them again. Their idea this time – to have the maintenance men put glue traps in the house. Sounds good right? The critter will be captured! But, a glue trap means when it is captured it will be there, looking at me when I get up in the morning. ARGH! I’m not sure I like that idea but at the same time I want this thing out of the house, especially when the German is working away next week and I’m on my own.

Two days later though and the glue traps haven’t showed up, despite me asking nicely for them to do it pretty quickly – would they want a critter stopping by every night?

This morning we got up and yep, you guessed it, the jar had once again been knocked over…the mystery continues.

Exploring: Afternoon Tea at Betty’s, York.

Whilst back in Blighty the other week I indulged in something stereotypically British…a spot of afternoon tea. I don’t think you can get anymore British than this, it is the epitome of British-ness and seems to be making a comeback lately – a lot of my friends back home are posting pictures on Facebook of them having afternoon tea somewhere.

I wanted to get in on the act, so, after less than 24 hours in the country and with the help of Ma Cook, I went to get my fill of it here:

Afternoon Tea 1
Betty’s Café Tea Rooms in York. This is THE place to go for some afternoon tea. It’s a traditional British tea room where you’re transported back in time with old-fashioned shop fittings and employees dressed in long skirts, high collared shirts with a brooch in the middle and an apron. You really do feel like you’re in a special place – people come from all over just to visit these tea rooms and partake in some afternoon tea. There’s always a queue around the block to get into Betty’s but believe me, it is definitely worth the wait!

Afternoon tea was originally popular among the wealthy people in England and eaten between 4pm and 6pm. Nowadays though everyone eats it and at anytime of the day – Ma Cook and I tucked into it at around 2pm, we were hungry! We rocked up to Betty’s, took our seats and ordered our afternoon tea for 2.

First came the tea:

A proper brew!

A proper brew!

Now, we’re not talking any old tea here, oh no, no. This isn’t just dumping a tea bag in some hot water, squeezing it out and sploshing in a glug of milk. Nope. At Betty’s we’re talking actual tea leaves that have to be strained into your cup. Here’s a demonstration from Ma Cook:

afternoon tea 3
Beautifully done there and let me tell you it tasted lovely. A proper brew, with proper tea leaves and even sugar cubes! Who gives you sugar cubes anymore? Then, after a few sips of tea came the main event – the food, and we all know how much this blog seems to revolve around food! Once again I wasn’t disappointed. Afternoon tea is traditionally served on a three tier plate stand and looks a little bit like this:

Fancy

Fancy pants! Our faces lit up when these were placed on the table and we eagerly looked at what was on offer. Sandwiches, a scone, cakes – we were in heaven! When it comes to eating this delight you start at the bottom and make your way to the top, that meant the sandwiches were the first to be demolished. We tucked into ham, chicken, egg and smoked salmon sandwiches and were quickly ready to move onto the next level…a scone. (I need to point out now that I pronounce it sc-own. There’s an argument as to whether it is sc-own like I say or sc-on. I’m sticking with sc-own!) Of course it came with jam and cream and before we know it our scones were piled high and heading into our mouths:

afternoon tea 5
It was one of the nicest scones I’ve ever tasted! By now we were over halfway through our delights and possibly starting to feel a little full but we definitely didn’t have any plans to stop there. The top tier was covered in miniature cakes that, like everything else in the café were handmade and they had our names on them.

afternoon tea 6First I tucked into the raspberry tart in a little pastry case that had custard underneath the fruit – so tasty! Then I moved onto the chocolate cake, it was very rich so the miniature piece was just enough. My taste buds were very happy but they were about to get even happier! I definitely saved the best for last when I sunk my teeth into the lemon macaroon – it was full of flavour and had just the right amount of crunch and chewy-ness (if that’s even a word!) that left me wanting another 10 of them! Sadly though, my three tiers were now empty – I’d polished off the lot, definitely not good for the wedding diet but the best bit of cheating ever!

We finished off our tea and headed out of the store, but before we left we couldn’t resist buying a few of Betty’s famous fat rascals for Pa Cook, and my bro and sister-in-law and of course some more of those tasty macaroons. We ended up with a gift box of 6 which soon disappeared once we got home…whoops!

afternoon tea 7
With our bellies full and feeling very British indeed we waved goodbye to Betty’s and carried on our merry way through the streets of York. Afternoon tea was ticked off the list and I was one very happy lady!78950-traveltueslinkup_zpsd47191b028129g

Cluck cluck…happy hens!!

It happened. That there hen do of mine actually happened and let me just tell you it was amazing!! Those bridesmaids of mine pulled out all the stops and made it fabulous and for that I can’t thank them enough. I am one lucky lady to have friends like mine.

Wedding 2
Now, as you know I had no idea where I was going or what was going to happen – this hen do was a magical mystery tour! I found out on Saturday morning (well Friday night if you take into account the Facebook status of one of my hens that I pretended to ignore that revealed the destination!) that I was going to Manchester – yay! An hour later we rocked up to the Palace Hotel and started the celebrations off in style with some prosecco:

Bestie love

Bestie love

It was so lovely to see everyone – I hadn’t seen some of my hens since before I moved to Atlanta so we had a LOT to catch up on! There was my bestie from school, my friends from working in radio, my housemates from university and of course Ma Cook, my aunty (also known as my second mum!) and my sister-in-law.Perfect!

After that the civilised hen do continued with a lovely lunch at an Italian restaurant, again complete with prosecco:

Cheers!

Cheers!

This is looking like a pretty well behaved hen party so far isn’t it? Well, lets say things didn’t quite follow the same theme later on! So, after lunch we all headed back to the hotel to get ready for a night of fun filled hen do action. I still had no idea what was in store for me…

We were told to be ready by a certain time, we walked through Manchester and ended up at another hotel. The girls told us to stay in the reception area whilst they went to organise things. About 10 minutes later they strolled back, giggling, and said ‘Right, we’re ready!’ and off we trotted through the hotel and into what looked like a conference room. We were greeted by a man named Sam who told us to take a seat and we’d get things underway, right about now I was thinking ‘What are we about to do?!’ Now, this is when things moved from a civilised hen do to a hilarious one! After a few minutes Sam got things underway and a man walked into the room looking like this:

hen do 3
I think I nearly wet my pants laughing!! Yes people, we were about to do a nude art class! We were handed sketchbooks and charcoal and given some tips on how to draw life models (I don’t think any of us took the advice on board!) before I was given the task of taking off his towel. Yep, being the bride to be I had to get this man naked! I did what I was told and the drawing commenced, complete with wine of course! It was the funniest art class I’ve ever been in! We drew a series of poses, with the person who had the best drawing choosing the next. My friend Mark then posed with him before it was my turn as the bride to be! So, I did my duty and sat on his knee whilst the others attempted to draw us! It was kind of weird when he was talking to me and I was looking at the German’s face! I had to look away! Ma Cook’s drawings were like stick men (I think she was the worst in the class and eventually gave up!) my bridesmaid Rose and friend Jen drew some amazing pics, mine were questionable! But it was an amazing start to the hen do and so much fun:

hen do 13
Once Jason the model had done his stuff we ate some cake made by Ma Cook and had some more drinky poos (this was a hen do after all!) and then headed to our next destination. I was told to that as the hen I had to wear the mask of the German and fly the flag at all times:

hen do 5
Yes, that is me walking the streets of Manchester with a mask of the German on and a flag in my hand! It had to be done! After walking for about 5 minutes we ended up at…wait for it…The Bierkeller! I’m marrying a German so where else would we go? We went in, took our seats and settled in with a some sort of shot before ordering our steins of cocktails. Yes you did read that right, our steins of cocktails! I think mine was called a Dirty Helga, it went down very well with Ma Cook and the aunty:

hen do 7
Then came the pretzels, the oompah band and the dancing on the benches…for the next few hours!

hen do 11 hen do 12 hen do 14
After drinking for more than 12 hours and dancing until our feet hurt and our heads were a little bit worse for wear we called it a night and headed back to the hotel. One word sums it up…AMAZING! I loved every minute of it, well except for the slightly fuzzy head the following morning! The hotel breakfast soon sorted that out though.

As for the German, he also didn’t know what was in store for him but just before I left the house I received a message with the words ‘it’s started…’ and this picture:

hen do 9
Prisoner Richter was shackled and put on a train to Düsseldorf with his friends (who became his sheriffs looking after him) where he met with my Big Bro, his Big Bro and Pa Cook (who’d got on a plane for the first time in 14 years! The German was honoured!) and had to complete a series of different tasks to get himself out of the chains. If he failed a task the chains got tighter. Obviously a lot of alcohol was involved in all of this. I think he had to do things like get a choir of girls to sing to him, sweep bottle tops off the town hall steps because he wasn’t married before he was 30 and many others that I don’t think any of them can remember! Eventually though it was mission accomplished:

hen do 10
I think he eventually made it back to his hotel at 4am, along with Pa Cook and the Big Bro who definitely did the Brits proud! I don’t think he was feeling very clever the next morning though!

So that’s it, the hen and stag parties are complete, all that’s left to do now is get married again. And that big day, oh blog readers of mine, isn’t too far away at all!

A mysterious mason jar update.

Remember that post I wrote about the mysterious case of the mason jar? Well, the drama is continuing people and it ain’t pretty! So when we left America a couple of weeks ago I filled the jar on the coffee table and it looked like this:

Mason jar 1
And when the German returned home a couple of days ago it looked like this:

mason jar 2
Yes people, something has been eating our chocolates from our mason jar and is living in our house. Nobody has been in or out of that place for over a week and the chocolates have disappeared.

So, in an effort to find out what the hell it is the German laid a trap, suggested to us by our sister-in-law. He laid out some flour on the floor and placed the mason jar on it like so:

mason jar 3
His camera skills weren’t the greatest there. The plan was to leave it overnight and if whatever is pinching our chocolates came back for more footprints would be left in the flour. The following morning the German sent me this picture:

mason jar 4
ARGH! It’s official. Something is living in our house and eating our chocolates! The only question now is: What the hell is it and where the hell is it hiding out?! There’s no other disturbance in the apartment. We never hear any animal sounds. We never find the empty wrappers anywhere. And we don’t see any droppings around. This thing is an animal, it has to do its business somewhere! We’re thinking it could be a squirrel that got in through the chimney when it was open at Christmas. Here’s a closer look at the prints:

mason jar 5
What do you think it could be?

I’ve told the German this thing needs to be gone and fast, preferably before I return to Atlanta in a couple of days. He’s supposed to be heading to the leasing office and putting in a service request but he’ll be home after the office has closed so I don’t know how he’s planning that one! He says he’s going to set his iPad up to record it tonight and reckons he’ll get up every 3 hours to restart the recording. We’ll see what happens with that one.

It’s a little scary to think we’ve been sharing our home with an uninvited guest since Christmas. Hopefully it won’t be around for too much longer though…