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Category Archives: My Fair City

Posts about the city I live in–usually Saint Louis, my “permanent” residence (for now), but sometimes other places like Nashville, Memphis, Reykjavik, Parry Sound, etc.

Flashback to June: On our own, learning the ropes, enjoying each other

I had a hard time believing that, once my mom and sister left, we could possibly manage two children on our own.  Who would hold the baby while one of us bathed Everett and the other finished dinner?  Who would play with Everett while Eric worked and I fed the baby? How could I get both kids ready at the same time to go out, get back in time for dinner, and MAKE dinner all by myself while Eric worked?  HOW DO PEOPLE DO THIS?

Well, we have managed, and pretty well most of the time, if I do say so myself.  We even found time to enjoy each other!  Now, did I also find time to take pictures of it all?  Not really, but here are a few special moments from the relatively calm month of June.

The Festival of the Sea–this wasn’t a great day as we missed the best entertainment and it was crowded and Bryndís kind of lost it part way through, but we did discover this perfect place to throw rocks into the water.

There are no trains in Iceland, except for this old locamotive that’s parked by the harbor. I think there’s also a sign that says not to climb on it, but it’s in Icelandic so I claim ignorance 🙂

Nauthollsvík Beach, a very cool place; closest we’ll get to a real beach this summer.

June 17th, Icelandic Independence Day; Reykjavik got a little crowded as people from all over descended on the city for the celebration. We enjoyed the weather, some live music, and a classic car parade.

A true victory for me–we walked a good distance to Kjarvalstadir, one branch of the Reykjavik Art Museum that houses a lot of work by the artist Kjarval (love his stuff), and since it’s surrounded by a park I managed to time it perfectly so that Everett got to play for an hour, then was tired enough to sit still while I actually went on a TOUR! Then we all ate the lunch we brought in the museum cafe, and walked home in time for naps.  (I love Ev’s expression here, like, “um, Mom, I’m reading here”)

Naps all around, crucial to survival.

 

 

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Dear Tourist. . .

I’m very glad to see you here, enjoying and discovering a country I love dearly, and patronizing all the businesses in this city.  I’m barely more than a tourist myself; I don’t speak the language and I don’t pay taxes, but I feel like the amount I’ve spent here in groceries alone counts for something.  And as a resident, even if temporary, I do feel the need to express a few thought to you, the even more temporary visitor:

  • I completely understand that you wanted to pack light so one pair of comfortable shoes and an all-weather jacket of some kind were necessary, but it’s REALLY obvious that you’re not from here when you walk through the middle of town on a sunny 60 degree day in your North Face parka and bulky hiking boots. (Also, I know it’s a sauna in the U.S. right now, but it’s not THAT cold here)
  • Now, the MATCHING North Face parkas and hats are just plain hilarious
  • It’s weird when you take pictures of the front of my house, even if the view in this part of town is spectacular.
  • It’s even weirder when you take pictures of my KID, especially without asking.  He’s cute, I know, but first of all, he’s not Icelandic, despite his blond hair and blue eyes.  Second of all, if I find those pictures anywhere on the internet besides MY BLOG, you’re in for a world of pain.
  • When walking down the street, keep in mind that some of us are walking because we need to get somewhere, and you’re slow.
  • On a similar note, when meeting with a group of other waterproof jacket, sunhat, hiking boot, and daypack-clad folk in order to enjoy a walking tour or catch a bus (undoubtedly to the Blue Lagoon or Golden Circle), please don’t spread across the entire width of the sidewalk.  Again, some of us walking actually are trying to get somewhere (like home, before children start screaming).
  • I apologize if I end up in your picture, immortalized in your scrapbook forever, making some awful face or picking my nose or something.  But it’s just impossible to avoid all your lenses, they’re everywhere.
  • Americans, I am one of you so I can say this: you’re loud, louder than the French, louder than the Germans.  Just thought you should know.  Also, there are no McDonalds or Starbucks located in this whole country, so enjoy that while you can.
  • You should absolutely buy an Icelandic sweater, because it’s really cool that although a great souvenir, locals wear them too, so you won’t look ridiculous.
  • Do not, however, buy a Viking helmet, or anything with the Icelandic flag on it, and wear it around.  Dead giveaway (especially since real Viking helmets did not have horns. . .I think we have Wagner to thank for that little embellishment, though someone correct me if I’m wrong).
  • Don’t worry about not knowing the language; it’s a tough one and only 320,000 people in the whole world speak it so no one blames you (especially not me), but learning a few pronunciation points will help you ask for directions. . .I won’t attempt to explain, just google it:)

Enjoy your stay!  It makes me feel extra special when one of you asks me directions and I can actually help, so if you see me (I will have one adorable blondheaded kid in a stroller and one screaming baby in a pack on my chest. . .hard to miss), feel free to ask!  (however, I’m moving away on Tuesday, SAD!)

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2012 in My Fair City, Travel, Writings

 

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Belated Mothers’ Day

We’ve been in Oxford all week and have been sort of trying to wrestle with a few little pieces of negative news, feeling rather road weary, and withdrawal from the comforts of Moss Cottage last week, which is the main reason I haven’t posted much.  That said, while Eric worked on some manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, I did have some sweet times with Everett at the Botanic Gardens, a new (to me) cafe called the Vaults and Garden that’s actually in a beautiful old church, and meeting up with my friend Valin from London who came out for the day yesterday.  The last time I was here was in college when I got to live at Lincoln College, part of the University, for six weeks, and it was such a strange experience to be back as a wife and mom, not a lone independent college student!  Hopefully I’ll get to put up some more pics before long.

But all that leads up to today when we had our low-key, belated, mother’s day celebration.  We rented bikes, one with a seat for Everett, and went for a ride along the Thames Path which goes alongside the river (which is very small here compared to what it looks like in London).  It was a beautiful, if quite windy, day and several crews were out practicing which was really fun for me.  We rode to Christ Church Meadows on one end, then back down to Iffley Lock on the other.  Pretty short and sweet and just right for today.  I’ll be honest, I was kind freaked out to have Everett in the seat on the back, so I was thankful not to do anything in traffic!
Pause for a picture!
Iffley Lock with a crew actually using the lock to get from one part of the river to the other.
Iffley Church, finished in 1175 (the art history dork in me noticed the combination of Romanesque and Gothic stylings).  A sweet little church we sort of found by accident, love when that happens!
In the backpack with dad when we stopped at Iffley, such a happy boy!

I should also mention that part of my mother’s day involved getting a long nap this morning and Eric fixing dinner tonight.

Were off to Holland tomorrow and posting will be scarce from here on out as our communal living situation there will not allow such unbridled access to the internet.  But I will be posting my giveaway for May Giveaway Day early tomorrow morning before we jet out of town again, so stay tuned, it’s a good one!

 

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Makeshift Nourishment and (mis)Adventure

Grocery shopping here is a little tricky–things are expensive because of inflation and because most everything is imported.  The first night we were here Eric got some pre-marinated pork chops and I made them and mashed potatoes and steamed frozen veggies, which was actually pretty good (but not pretty, so no pictures:).  The next night we wanted soup and sandwiches, one of our big staples, but the only soup Eric could find at the store was powdered–ick, right?!  But actually, I made do, and mixed in some of the frozen veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots) and the leftover pork chops all diced up, and it actually turned out to be pretty yummy and relatively nutritious, I guess.

Also, Eric made this lovely caprese salad last night, except with local gouda instead of mozzarella, ha! really tasty, actually: he sauteed the tomatoes with garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and the gouda added a nice bite to the overall flavor.

As you can probably tell from my lack of pictures, we haven’t done a whole lot of sight-seeing since we got here–Everett’s been sick and it’s been nice to hang out at this clean airy flat and try to establish a bit of routine with his napping and eating (Wednesday and Thursday we did almost nothing at all).  But we have had a couple adventures: On Monday we went to the mall, Kringlan, to try and find some bathing suits and go to the grocery store there.  On Tuesday it was lovely and sunny, I took Everett down to the Tjorn to feed the ducks and then we met Eric at the pool.  I know you’re thinking, wasn’t it just snowing there?  Yes, it was, and it was still only in the 40’s, but the pool is very heated, and there are several hot tubs of different temperatures, all heated geo-thermally.  I had been thinking this would be so fun to go do with Everett because he loves taking baths!  And he liked it, the pool at least; but the locker room, shower, the air outside of the pool, both before and after, were not so popular.  And neither were we since he screamed his head off the whole time.  No pictures of this–it was all I could do to hold and dress a screaming squirming slippery (and need I remind you, giant) baby, much less a camera.  Ah well, another time maybe.  He did fall asleep on the way home after wearing himself out with all that crying, and here are a couple pictures from that lovely sunny walk:

Looking across the Tjorn towards the harbor and the mountain called Esja (pronounced like "aysha")

 

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Return to the North


Thankfully, the little Mac repair shop in Reykjavik was able to put in a new hard drive for a reasonable price yesterday, so I have a computer, hooray!  We were not prepared, however, to spend the money and possible several days for they guy to see what, if anything, he could recover from the old drive so I am still without all my settings and data from the past year (that’ll teach me, once again, to back up more often!)  But regardless, I’m back on to blogging and I have a wonderful week of hopeful posts planned. Here’s what I’ve got in mind:

1) Our Plans
First of all, here’s an updated itinerary (lots of people have asked me what we’re up to now that we’ve left London, so I thought I’d just put it in one spot):

April 29-May 8 : Reykjavik
May 9-May 15 : Shropshire, England with family friends the Bells
May 15-May 23 : Oxford, England
May 23- July 15 : Dutch L’Abri

2)Sewing
A celebration, i.e. playing catch up, of things I managed to accomplish before saying good-bye to my machine and dedicated sewing space in London (b/c at least one post is all hand-sewn stuff, oh well).

3) Giveaway! 
Yes, a giveaway!  My husband has set himself the challenge of writing 2 letters a week over the summer while we’re in various locations (if you want to receive one, let me know–he’s particularly interested in the challenge of writing to people he doesn’t know very well so don’t let that stop you!), so I’ve set myself a similar challenge.  I’d like to make something and send it to someone each week.  The first one will open up tomorrow with complete rules for the giveaway in that post so stay tuned!!

4) Hanging out in Iceland
We are very excited to be back here (you can see one of my posts from almost 2 years ago here) and to introduce Everett to this place that we both love.  We plan to stay in the city of Reykjavik so Eric can get some research done at the University, so I’ll keep you apprised of what Everett and I find to do around here.  Sadly, however, I think the Naptime Destinations series must come to an end since SOMEBODY has given up sleeping so well while on walks!  We’ve found a lovely flat to rent for the week, so we may see some Teensy Weensy Cafe, playtime on the floor, and crafty type posts in addition to our adventures around town.  To get started, here are some pictures of a walk we took today in the very wet snow.  Yep.  Snow.


 
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Posted by on May 1, 2011 in My Fair City, Travel

 

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Little Discoveries: Week. . .eh, whatever, I lost track

Ok, so once again I’ve fallen off the wagon with the blogging thing, big deal.  Here are a few fun discoveries plus a few unfortunate mishaps I’ve happily given the special edition title of “Little Disasters.”  Enjoy:

Borough Market is right by the London Bridge tube station and absolutely delightful–I am terribly sad I did not have my camera with me as the sights were nearly enough to whet my appetite for all the goodness.  Every type of food imaginable–rabbit, squid, sausage, fresh cheese, beautiful pastries, candy, ice cream, fresh veggies, mulled wine, chocolate, fresh baked bread, and on and on–all displayed beautifully beneath the railroad bridge in a covered (mostly) market with cobbled streets and stone arches, in the shadow of Southwark Cathedral, and accompanied by several pubs and restaurants.  I picked up some wild boar tortellini (more on that later), fresh cheese, and yummy cookies.

Daylight Savings Time kicked in here this past weekend, as opposed to two weeks ago in the States.  I’m not really a fan–it feels weird putting Everett to bed when it’s still SO LIGHT outside, and I’d much rather have that extra light when he wakes me up extra early.

To make sure Everett stayed on track with his immunizations, I had to do a little bit of work to figure out who would see us.  Turns out NHS (National Health Services) will only allow you to register at a surgery (doctors office/group practice) if you have at least a 6 month visa, so we went to a private hospital.  Saw a lovely french doctor who saw us in her office which was also the exam room, and where she did everything from taking our history to weight and measurement (he’s 21.5 lbs!) and administering the shots–didn’t even see a nurse.  Overall, a good experience (excepting the minor fever and crankiness that followed, but we’re all good now)

Hampstead Heath–got just a tiny taste of yet another one of London’s beautiful public parks when we visited my friend Sally last weekend.  She lives nearby so after a lovely lunch with her and her husband and little boy, we went for a brief walk because it was such a lovely day!

Rediscovered the Library across the street.  See this post for a little bit on that, but I also went back this week and came home with a couple books I’ve wanted to read for awhile (Brideshead Revisited and Arabian Nights) as well as Peter Pan, read brilliantly on CD as part of the Puffin Classics series.  I’m ADORING Peter Pan as a replacement for having the television on while I’m cooking or knitting or playing with Everett; the writing so beautifully and honestly characterizes the interior lives of both adults and children and the darker side of imagination that I’m realizing the many film versions could never possibly capture.  My favorite descriptions so far are those of the children’s mother at the very beginning of the book. . .perhaps I’ll have to share and expand on that a little bit in the future.

Realizing that British television is not quite so obsessed with wrapping up every loose end by the end of an episode or neatly finishing out a season of a show with just one cliffhanger, as most standard American programs do.  It’s driving me mad, and I love it.  Furthermore, many dramatic series (called a programmes) only have 6 or so episodes with no guarantee of another season (called a series, confusing, I know).   One of my favorites just wrapped up this week and I’m sick with all the unanswered questions.

Little Disasters
I’ll keep it short and leave a little to your imagination:
6 egg yolks on floor
6 egg whites into some chicken broth
Cold gravy on floor
Tea on wall
Carpet melted
Communion wine all over me, baby, and toy lamb

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in At Home, My Fair City, Travel

 

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Loot

My little reader with his current favorite (to look at and attempt to eat), the classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I love children’s books, especially those with excellent pictures (though I’m growing increasingly picky about text as well–some are really disappointingly lame!), and “children’s” literature.  I’d love to learn more about it and I’ve just scratched the surface by collecting an Annotated Wind in the Willows, the Winnie the Pooh series and Complete Beatrix Potter as shower presents for Everett. I didn’t collect much more than that before moving over here because, well, we were moving over here!  I packed up just the Winnie the Pooh, a to-die-for pop up version of The Little Prince and a few standard board books, and that was all I could justify.  Little did I know, this flat sits right across the street from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Library!!

View of the library from our window

I have not taken full advantage of this, to be sure, mainly b/c the stage where Everett would lie contentedly on the floor or bed and listen to me read changed rapidly into just wanting to chew the pages right around the time we got here.  But I managed to finally get back there yesterday, return several overdue books from a visit many weeks ago, and bring home another stack.  I present you with my loot:

My new library bag, a free gift from a little show at Craft Central here in London

Apparently I was drawn to lions on this trip.

Yeah, so lions; maybe I have them on the brain because of one of my little projects for a tiny new friend that’s in the works on my desk right now.  The two books in the back will probably warrant a post all their own because of how gorgeous they are.

Acclaimed by Stephen Fry--must be good.

The rest of my stack--I'm particularly excited about Paddington.

My mom read to us faithfully when we were small; despite often working herself, my father working loads, having 3 kids to care for, and moving multiple times, she always read to us.  Some nights it was just a couple pages between yawns, but sometimes we could twist her arm into multiple chapters, and the stories included Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz, 5 Children and It, Indian in the Cupboard, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, to name a few.  Sometimes we didn’t ever make it through a whole book (I think the Wizard of Oz fell into that category) but it didn’t matter.  What I remember most is how utterly special and cozy and loved I felt when Nate and I, after Hannah was put to bed (sorry honey, you joined us eventually), would rush to get our teeth brushed and pj’s on and climb onto mom’s bed and curl up on either side of her, and she would read to us in multiple voices, even doing a serviceable English accent for certain characters (she did have a Scottish grandmother after all).  I truly look forward to doing this with Everett and whatever siblings come along, partly because there are SO MANY books I want to read myself that I think will just be more fun with kiddos.  Also, I know I have many many friends out there who already have brilliant collections and are much more well read than I, so I look forward to their suggestions! (hint hint: feel free to comment)

 
 

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