Wednesday, February 24, 2016

OAP Dreamin' on Such a Winters Day

In Britain, OAP stands for Old Age Pensioners. That's retirees to us Americans. The husband and I are looking towards at least another 10 yrs in the workforce to sock away more money as well as get the girls through college and maybe even married. But let's not put the cart before the horse. At this point, I can hardly wait to get back home so I can return to teaching. Retiring is absolutely not on my radar. 

But when I do end up leaving the profession for good, I absolutely want to take up residence in a lovely little contemporary home near the mountains. And it has to be on a lake. I want stunning vistas and a place to lure the kids with their families to visit us on holidays and in the summer time. I'm thinking along the lines of something like this.

I want lots of glass so I can have picture perfect views of the scenery. Interesting roof lines are a must. Maybe a dock for a boat, but for sure a place to lounge beside the water to watch the sun set. See the leaves change in the fall and the landscape burst with color in the spring. Texas is a great state, but I'm looking forward to finding our little slice of retirement heaven in the southeastern US where we can enjoy all four seasons.

Coming Out Swinging

I shy away from politics on social media because you're always gonna hit a nerve with someone. And some folks get downright rude in defending their candidate/party. It's not as if views will be changed after politically divisive posts are made and barbs exchanged. But I saw this meme and couldn't resist. The way this election looks right now, I may not want to repatriate to the US anytime soon. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Soup's On

It has been a soup sorta week around here. I've whipped up chicken taco, chicken noodle and baked potato soup from scratch. I like making soup because you get a lot of mileage out of it. Plus it just tastes better and better after a few days of hanging out in the fridge. Add a grilled sandwich, and you're all set for a simple meal with the leftovers.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Come again?

After living in the UK for a while, I'm well versed in the differences between American English versus what the Brits use. It's brought home to me in spades when I'm in the car during commute time and hear the traffic report. In England, you give way rather than yield when queueing (lining up) to merge onto the ring road (loop around a city). Don't forget to use your indicator (blinker) when you exit the motorway (interstate) or use a flyover (overpass). Travel is done clockwise or anticlockwise rather than referencing the cardinal directions of north, south, east or west. When finding a spot in the car park (parking lot) to do a bit of grocery shopping, don't forget your reusable shopping bags in the boot (trunk) while you get ready to pay and display. Because seriously, parking most places usually isn't free. I always have several one and two pound coins in the glove box of my car to make sure I don't get a parking ticket for forgetting to pay and display the parking receipt for X number of hours/minutes.

However, not too long ago I embarrassed myself because I forgot the Brit meaning for piddle is different from the way I've always used it in the US. Our car service driver, a very jovial and friendly chap, was driving me to the airport and we were chatting. I mentioned that I had rushed to pack my bags the night before because I was piddling around watching TV instead of gathering up my things during the day. Kevin, the driver, got this goofy grin on his face and reminded me that in Britain the word piddle means to urinate. So yeah, that is NOT what I meant at all.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Iceland Jeep Tour

On our second full day in Iceland, we went on a private jeep tour that took us through a couple of the country's national parks. The vehicle was this really tall 4x4 with no running boards, so I had to grab onto the interior bar and haul myself up into the passenger seat. But at least it afforded us a great view of the countryside.

Our guide was an older gentleman with snowy white hair that had worked in the airline industry until he retired. He was well traveled and I enjoyed chatting with him. Our first stop for the day was a lookout over a large frozen lake. The wind was whipping and the air temp was in the teens, so we hustled out for a look-see and then bundled back into the jeep.

Our next stop was an area with geysers. This was really interesting to me since I've never seen any before. I especially liked the largest one that erupted several times while we were there, Old Faithful's smaller Icelandic cousin.

The one below was actually bubbling like a hot tub, but according to the temp reading it was more appropriate for cooking pasta rather than a nice relaxing soak after a day's hike in the cold.

We crept to within spitting distance of the glacier, but it was camouflaged thanks to the snow. By that point I was tired of the bouncing and jouncing in the jeep since we were on a road that isn't plowed in the winter. It was obvious why we needed a jacked up 4x4 jeep to power through the snow on this excursion. Soon we doubled back to the highway and enjoyed smooth sailing once again. However, on the ride back into town our guide stopped for us to see a couple different waterfalls along the river.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Iceland, February 2016

Last week the American school our teenager attends had February break, so we opted to take a trip to Iceland. Unfortunately, the husband had to cancel since he needed to stay local for a petroleum conference in London. It was a good thing we had let our daughter invite her best friend to travel with us because they entertained each other. If you don't have teenage girls, entertain meant them listening to music and doing a lot of giggling.

We stayed at a local Reykjavik hotel in the old city centre that was very Scandinavian minimalist in decor. The rock-filled gas fireplace in the lobby was a nice touch. But I especially enjoyed the morning music selection in the breakfast room where they were spinning vinyl. We were treated to some oldies, including Elvis and Eddie Rabbitt, while we fueled up for a day of touring.

On our first night in Iceland, the same day we arrived, we took a bus out to Pingvellir National Park to look for the northern lights. After a cloudy start, the skies cleared and we were treated to a great show. Although appearing as white to the naked eye rather than the greens and pinks you often see in time-lapsed pictures, the lights slowly moved across the sky as rivers of light. The girls got tired and cold, in true teenager fashion, so I had to run them off the bus a few times to enjoy the active aurora borealis. Here is a pic of the girls upon arrival at the viewing site, before they got tired and cold and cranky. The other pic most closely resembles some of what I saw. My handy dandy camera phone just wasn't capable of capturing it in a meaningful way.

Our first full day in Iceland, we enjoyed a private walking tour of the city with a local guide. Some of the things we saw included a modern Lutheran church that took 50 yrs to build

and some wonderful vistas from side streets that led down to the harbor.

Along the way we passed a rather foul/fowl smelling place, a mostly frozen pond where the original Viking settlers of Iceland pulled their boats to keep them in fresh water when they weren't in use. Now it seems to be a winter gathering spot for swans, geese and ducks thanks to the running water that keeps it from freezing and tourists like us that bring food offerings to them.

Since our local guide was taking requests, I had him walk us through the old city cemetery. It was quiet and peaceful in there. Our guide told us that plots are bedecked with greenery, ribbons and battery operated candles around Christmas time. He also explained why the markers and old tombstones had husband and wives with different names. It seems that Icelanders at birth are given their father's first name as their last name, though they do add something on the end that means "son of" or "daughter of" to differentiate. And women don't take their husband's last name when they marry because it wouldn't make sense. So I learned that surnames don't exist in Iceland while touring a cemetery.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cold Turkey

My name is Carrie and I'm a diet sodaholic. Have been for years and years. I've finally decided to try and shake the habit by replacing my daily dose of diet soda with some fruit infused water.

I ordered these and hope they inspire me to kick chemical laden sodas to the curb. I know, I know, it's bad for me. The acid and fake sweetener and ingredients I can't even pronounce. But I LOVE the caffeine kick I get from them. And the faux sweet taste  So I'm off to the grocery store tomorrow to get a bag of lemons, limes and tangerines to give it a go. Wish me luck!