The Grand Re-Opening of The Richter Hotel

Yes, people, it’s happening! After officially closing the doors of The Richter Hotel at the end of August last year after a steady stream of guests, today those doors are being flung open again for the start of the new season!

Richter HotelThe last couple of days have been spent preparing for the arrival of our first guests – cleaning has been done, new cushions bought (including the one in the middle of the picture above which I LOVE) the guest bedroom has been preened to perfection, breakfast goodies have been bought and of course lots of beer and wine because the first guests are:

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My big brother and sister-in-law! The last visitors to be waved out of The Richter Hotel last year and the first visitors of the new season. It’s now their third trip to Atlanta (they obviously love me and the German sooooo much, well either that or they like the free accommodation, or maybe both!) so they know the drill. This time though there’s more excitement on the cards…

There are big plans ahead on this trip! This weekend we’ll be celebrating Becky’s birthday, it’s actually today so she’ll be spending the majority of it on a plane but we’re making up for it on Sunday with a trip to Table & Main (One of my Top 5 Atlanta Restaurants…so far!), we’re heading to the basketball on Tuesday and the baseball on Wednesday – standard trips when they’re in town. On Thursday though things get exciting because, wait for it, we’re all heading too…VEGAS BABY!!!

And man am I excited! The bright lights of the Las Vegas strip will be the place we’ll be calling home for 5 days. We’ll be tripping the light fantastic, checking out all the casinos (no gambling from this lady of leisure though), lounging by the pool and kick-starting that wedding tan, probably tucking into some very unhealthy food, oh and taking a trip to the Grand Canyon. Oh yes people, it’s going to be five days of fun-filled heaven!

So if I disappear off the radar for a few days you know why. There will be some blogging action about the bright lights of Las Vegas after the trip but I may not reveal all because people, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas! Keep an eye on my Instragram and Twitter though for some snaps and updates – they will more than likely include food, or a casino, or possibly even both at the same time…

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What have I gotten myself into?

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

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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:

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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:

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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!

Leaving on a jet plane…

Yes people, it’s that time again! I’m heading back to Europe for a couple of weeks! Woop woop! So depending on what time you read this I will be once again either rushing around the house cleaning it for the burglars and packing my last bits and bobs (no doubt forgetting something, that always happens!) or attempting to pass the 9 hour plane trip!

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But the best thing is what we are heading to Europe for…apart from finishing that all important wedding planning (ugh!) we’re having our hen and stag parties!!! Wooooop! (sorry American friends, by hen and stag parties I mean bachelor and bachelorette parties!) Yes, our bridesmaids and best man have organised them for us (phew! One less thing for us to worry about!) and we have no idea where we are going! All the German knows is that he has to be ready for 9:30am next Saturday and I literally know nothing apart from the fact it is next Saturday in England. Let the magical mystery tour commence!! I’ll keep you posted on what we get up to – well mine anyway, the German will be in another country under the close eye of Pa Cook and my big bro!

Before all that though we’re heading to Germany to make sure everything is sorted for this thing we’re calling a wedding! We need to meet the priest and the organist, head to the florists armed with pictures (that I still need to print off!) and of course to the venue where we get to do the fun stuff of trying the food and choosing the wine! Obviously this is the part I am most looking forward to – you know this girl loves food!!

I can promise you this though – it definitely won’t be a relaxing trip back that’s for sure! We have things planned everyday in Germany, then once I head to England I think my calendar is pretty full! Lots of people to catch up with, babies to cuddle and family to see! I wouldn’t change it for the world though – I am so excited to see everyone!!

Today’s Ramblings #13

Right peeps, it’s time for some more Me, Myself and Atlanta ramblings!

So things are calming down now in the ATL following the disaster that was Snowmageddon 2014! I still can’t believe what happened and how Atlanta turned into one big car park with kids sleeping at schools and people taking shelter in grocery stores and Home Depots! Just madness! Thankfully though, yesterday we were reunited with Mindy – she was patiently waiting in the car park I left her in without any extra bumps or scrapes! Phew! The banana skin I left inside didn’t look too pretty though! Whoops! Oh and when we got into the German’s car to set off on our mission we found this…

Oopsy!

Oopsy!

Yes, that lovely little German of mine had left a can of Coke in his car…that can of Coke then froze in the extreme temperatures and then exploded, all over his car!! It was EVERYWHERE! Obviously in the cup holders, all over both seats, on the mats, around the gear stick, the hand brake, on the windscreen, the visors, the dashboard, the rearview mirror, on the back seats…it definitely exploded well! Thankfully though we found it while the Coke was still ice so it was much easier to clean up! We wondered what the hell it was when we first opened the car – I thought the roof had been leaking, the German thought it was the Starbucks coffee cup but couldn’t work out how until he got closer to the Coke can! Whoops! I don’t think he’ll make that mistake again!

So what else has been happening apart from Snowmageddon? Well, we had a trip to Ikea last weekend (it had been a while, we were definitely due one!) and I got myself a desk! Yep, I now have an area to work in at home which I guess means I now officially work from home! Shame I didn’t take that into account when I ventured out of the house on Tuesday! All would have been better with the world if I’d only worked from home!! Argh! Anyway, here is the lovely little number the German went on to build for me when we got home…

Very professional!

Very professional!

Isn’t it lovely?! I was even allowed a pink seat cover (the German doesn’t like pink things in the house – he’s a boy!) and we got a door mat with a stripe of pink in it too! I did wonder if he was feeling OK but everything was back to normal when he said no to the floral bedding I found! Ah well – I did well with the 2 pink things! So what do you reckon? I officially love it and it definitely makes me more productive than sitting on the sofa! Plus I can have a little look out of the window and people watch! Everyone likes to do that, right?

I bobbed into a craft store the other morning and was greeted with this…

Really?

Really?

So Valentine’s Day is around the corner and the American’s go mad for it…like seriously mad! I think it’s even classed as a ‘holiday’ over here! What? So, as well as the usual cards that maybe some Brits will stretch to (I buy a card for the German, if he’s lucky he might get something tacky as a stupid gift but that’s about it!) you can literally get everything over here! So, today I found heart-shaped cookie cutters, cake moulds, cupcake cases with hearts all over them, heart-shaped doilies and any other heart-shaped object used for cooking or eating that you can think of! Then, in addition to all that, if you really want to you can trim your house up with heart decorations!! Like, really?? There’s tinsel, heart-shaped tinsel, actual Valentine’s Day welcome signs, ribbon, banners, garlands…the list is literally endless! What I want to know is who actually does this stuff? Actually, one of my neighbours – they have some heart-shaped lights outside their door! It’s literally been trimmed up since Halloween with some sort of decoration!! The German doesn’t even agree with taking me out for Valentine’s Day because he says it’s overpriced and would happily take me a day later when prices have dropped again! I admit he has a point but seriously, I’ve married a German version of Pa Cook! That’s exactly what he would say!! Argh! Anyway, I think it’s going a little over the top but it wouldn’t be America if it wasn’t!!

Oh and it’s Superbowl Sunday tomorrow!!! Technically it’s my second one in the States but seen as though I’d only been in the country for 6 days I’m classing this one as the first! The Superbowl is one of the biggest sporting events of the year – this one is Superbowl 48 and the Seattle Seahawks are taking on the Denver Broncos in New Jersey. But it’s not just the football people are looking forward to – I think the half time show (this year with Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) along with the adverts (commercials if you’re American!) during the show and the food (think chips, dips and extremely fatty snacks!) are what people look forward to the most!! Oh and of course the beer! I’ll report back on what happened next week!

Hope y’all are having a good weekend! (Did you see what I did there? I went all Southern on you!!)

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 #6

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

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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:

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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!

Happy Halloween!

Lets face it – America rocks when it comes to Halloween! Like seriously rocks! There’s no half-hearted effort in this country, no sir-ee! They go all out and more! And tonight is the night when it all comes to a head! Yay! Lets take a look at some of the differences between an American Halloween and a UK one…

 

The Decorations

American’s like to decorate their homes for everything! If there’s a celebrating there’s decorations – 4th of July, Easter, Fall, Christmas and of course Halloween! Houses everywhere have pumpkins on their porches, some are carved, some are literally just there to look pretty! Then there’s the Halloween based decorations, they are amazing!! Spider webs are hanging from porches and in bushes, ghosts and skeletons pop up in windows, zombies and witches sit on porch swings, gravestones are placed in gardens and dead looking people lurk at every corner!! Check out my neighbours decorations:

Spooky!

Spooky!

Then there are the people who go one step too far! We spotted this house whilst up in the mountains the other week! Every inch of the garden was covered in some sort of blow up Halloween decoration:

Madness!

Madness!

And the grandma who was driving away from the gym the other day with these beauts hanging out of the boot (or as they say here in the States, trunk) of her car:

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Apparently she tells her grandkids that if they don’t behave they’ll end up in grandma’s trunk too! Oh and we obviously got involved in the Halloween decorations trend:

IMG_6071Yep we have a big fat Happy Halloween banner, pumpkins and lights in the shape of pumpkins!! It’s our first effort – give us some credit!!

The Costumes

American’s go all out with their Halloween costumes! Shops are full of different things to dress up as for weeks before Halloween and they’re not just witches, ghosts, vampires and zombies. Oh no, no, no! People go out dressed as anything on Halloween – clowns, Presidents, doctors, teachers,, celebrities and even random things like sweets and a neighborhood! (My friend told me about this one yesterday – a group of them did it together, he was the church, others were houses, kids, parents, shops etc! Sounds amazing if you ask me!!) There’s no kids whacking on a scream mask, knocking on your door and expecting you to give them money over here! For once I won’t be pretending I’m not home!! I can’t wait to see what characters turn up at my door later!!

 

The Candy

It is everywhere right now and I mean everywhere! You go in the supermarket and there are boxes upon boxes of Halloween based candy and man it is amazing!! For a start there’s Candy Corn (that stuff is addictive!) followed by Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kisses (again addictive!) not forgetting the usual suspects like Reese’s, Hershey’s, Twix, Milky Way and the rest of those chocolate treats we all love! I made the fatal mistake of buying ours early and opening it:

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Let’s just say it doesn’t look like this now and I’m hoping I have enough for the kids that come to the door tonight! Whoops! It turns out they have a Halloween candy top 5 list too (it was just on the TV) and I might pass as a good house to visit! Woo! Number 1 is Reese’s, tick! Number 2 is M&M’s, cross, although I do have some in the cupboard that I could bring out in an emergency! Number 3 is Snickers, tick! Number 4 is Hershey’s, sort of tick – I have the pumpkin spice ones! And Number 5 is Kit Kat, cross! 3 out of 5 ain’t bad!

 

The Rules

Yep there are rules for Halloween over here! We had an email the other day from our apartment complex people asking if we want to get involved and will we be giving out candy to the kids! We obviously replied with yes! (Had we been in England the answer would more than likely have been no!) The kids then get a list of apartments they can go to – a good idea if you ask me! Also you have to leave your porch/outdoor light on indicating to the Trick or Treaters that you’re happy for them to knock on your door! Apparently this rule applies everywhere, no light on, no knocking! Works a treat if you ask me! Good job they sent the email though or I would have been really upset – our porch light is never on and I wouldn’t have known that it needed to be lit so I would have been sitting here with a sad face because nobody had knocked on the door!

 

So my first US Halloween is here and it’s started with my friend sending me a message saying ‘Happy Halloween!’ you don’t get that in England!! Next up is pumpkin carving (the one that the German bought and failed to carve!) and then I’ll be waiting for the knocks on the door later on! I am so excited!! I can’t wait to see the costumes and the cute kids all dressed up shouting ‘Happy Halloween! Trick or Treat!’ I did, however, ask one of my friends how much candy I should give them – I don’t want them to be that lady in apartment 7K who doesn’t give out enough candy!