Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Miami Mummy!

Thank the Lord - we are back in civilisation. We flew yesterday from Raleigh Durham to Miami - there were no problems on the plane or at the airport at all. I'm beginning to think the little fella is a born traveller. However, I won't confirm this until we land safely back on UK soil.

Arriving today at the Ritz was amazing - the guys on reception were expecting us and escorted us straight to the lounge so we could wait for our room. I'm currently sitting nine floors up, looking out over the beach and drinking champagne. It's not a bad life. (Pictures to follow - I'm still struggling with the technology here that seems to be significantly lagging behind ours...)

Which brings me on to the Christmas we just had. It was a lovely family Christmas - although I'm always going to think that you need roast potatoes with Christmas dinner; mashed potatoes simply do not cut it - but it is a simple fact that I cannot cope with four days of no blackberry and no mobile phone. I wasn't even aware that there were still places in the world where a mobile wouldn't work, but let me assure you that there are. It's not fun. Yes, it all sounds very romantic - a break away where people really can't get in touch with you, and that lasts for about five minutes. Then I'm itching to know what is happening in the real world. CNN is no match for the BBC.

I'm off to have some more to drink (praise be that I'm not pregnant this Christmas) and then head out to find the shops. After four days in seclusion I have some making up to do!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas from North Carolina!

Well, we made it. Junior was an absolute superstar on the flight - people sitting three rows back told us at the end of the flight they hadn't even realised there was a baby on the plane (which, surely, is the best possible compliment?) - but American Airlines didn't fare so well. I wasn't aware that there are still planes flying that don't have television screens in the backs of every seat - but after our flight yesterday, I can assure you that there are.

But, we're here and coping with the jet lag as well as can be expected. So, here's to a fantastic Christmas - I hope that you have a very enjoyable one wherever you are :o)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Christmas come early

I am one very lucky lady! As a late birthday present, I've just been given a brand spanking new Samsung netbook - very sexy indeed. It's absolutely amazing - and will really add to my new blogging habit - and best of all, it's not even a Christmas present!! This baby is definitely coming to the US with me - it weighs less than my make up bag. Hurrah for slimline technology.

PS Did anyone else watch The Restaurant? Does anyone else feel that it was an absolute travesty that JJ and James won? Seriously, my nine month old son is a better chef than JJ... Definitely one restaurant I won't be going to...

Monday, 14 December 2009

Domestic Goddess - Christmas style

I finished sewing the advent calendar and stocking this weekend. This is something of a triumph for me, given that a) I'm not a natural seamstress and b) I'm not a natural seamstress. The classes helped (i.e. they gave me the confidence to switch on my sewing machine) and although the finished works don't quite look as shop bought as I'd like, I am very proud of my home projects.

I can't believe how timely this foray into craftsmanship (or at least attempt at it) is. I watched smugly as Kirsty Allsopp made a Christmas Stocking on Kirsty's Homemade Christmas (my stocking was way better). So, inspired by my general brilliance on the sewing machine, I decided to move my skills into the kitchen. Delia Smith I am not, but nevertheless, these are the homemade mince pies - homemade mincemeat and pastry (not that cheating ready made stuff for me - oh no!):

And these are my homemade sausage rolls:

And so, to the obvious question: where are the photos of my stocking and advent calendar? Alas, my domesticity did not stretch to me remembering to charge the battery on my camera. I was quite distraught when I kept snapping and nothing was happening. I might be on my way to being a proper mum, but I'm not there yet. Stay tuned for more photos.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Happy Holidays? It's Christmas, actually...

I love Christmas. I love the cold weather (although I can take or leave the rain), the lights, the hustle and bustle in the shops and the general feeling that lingers in the air. What I cannot stand is the Americanisation (is that a word?) of Christmas in this country.

I fully appreciate and understand that the U.S.A. is secular and that there are various 'holidays' that are encompassed in the generic 'Happy Holidays' slogan that the US adopts. But, the U.K. is a Christian country and we celebrate Christmas.

I work at an American firm, and every year we have the same argument. They refuse to do separate Christmas cards for our European clients - instead we have one global Holiday card. The argument is that a Christmas card isn't fully inclusive and is therefore offensive. Personally, I'm offended that we don't send Christmas cards. Every year, I lose the argument. Fair enough, it's their company, but I think I have a point.

Perhaps I am more sensitive now working at a US firm, but I am increasingly irritated by firms like Coca Cola using a global message for a religious holiday. Yes, it is one of the most recognised symbols in the world - so they are obviously doing something right - but just using a 'one size fits all' strategy for your marketing and branding is lazy in my opinion. Maybe it works because Coke is a simple product that doesn't change no matter which market they are in. If McDonald's operated the same strategy, they'd be out of business. Can you imagine the conversation:

McDonald's person (MP): "It's called a quarter pounder. It's very popular in the US."
French person (FP): "What's a quarter pounder? Is that what it's made of?"
MP: "No - that's the weight of the meat."
FP: "We use metric weight here - the expression quarter pounder will be meaningless."
MP: "But that's what we use in the US. Surely if we just carry on, we can bring everyone round to our way of thinking..."

I think not. I'm not tempted by the McDonald's Festive Pie but I bet it sells well! Now, if I can just convince the management in the US that if it works for the golden arches, it might well work for us... Maybe next year we'll get our Christmas card...

Monday, 7 December 2009

Apologies - it's been quite a while...

Good Lord, I didn't realise it had been so long since my last post. Time has absolutely flown recently - between the illnesses (me and junior - god damn those nurseries), the family disaster, Christmas shopping (I'm done. Praise be) and attempting to see my family before we head state-side, it's just too much. There simply are not enough hours in the day.

The good news is that the advent calendar (yes, I know we're a week in - but quite frankly, he's eight months old and won't know the difference) and his stocking are almost done. The bad news is that I have another three sacks and another stocking still to start. I may have to leave these until next year - and start in about July. I absolutely love sewing and the general whole idea of 'make do and mend' but it's bloody time consuming. (As an aside, I've just found Topshop's Inside-Out blog - definitely worth a read if you've got time.)

It's our office Christmas party (sorry, 'drinks' - the credit crunch has well and truly bitten) on Thursday. I have mixed feelings about this. After the last office social (where I got very drunk to celebrate the fact I was out sans enfant), I need to make sure I maintain some level of dignity this time. But it is Christmas, so I fear the dancing shoes will be making an appearance whether I want them to or not... Either way, it's the attire that is always difficult for me. Tinsel in the hair is a definite no. So are flashing badges (or flashing earrings - in fact anything flashing should be avoided full stop), or any Christmassy headgear. You have to make an effort, but you don't want it to look too much like hard work. Will keep you posted on the final decision...