Monday, December 31, 2012

Bring On 2013

I know everyone always says this, but this year went by so fast! It feels like 2012 just started!

It's true what they say... "The days are long but the years are short."

As you might already know, I set a New Year's resolution for 2011 to "become a runner" after years and years of remaining resolutionless.

(Actually, that's a lie. My resolution was always "get a resolution next year". Typical sarcastic pain in the ass. How cute.)

So of course, I had a grand old time setting some resolutions for 2012 and typed them into my trusty iPod touch. Well, the iPod touch died a slow death in July and with it went all my resolutions.

It's okay though; I remember setting a "make homemade sushi" resolution, but I'm just going to say I forgot that one.

I made like 12 different types of salsa in Mexico, no joke. So I'll just count that as the sushi one.... Yes, that makes perfect sense to me.....

Other resolutions, such as "read more often for fun", were successful! I think I read close to 30 books this year for fun. I've always loved reading but I claimed I was too busy with school or work to read as often as I wanted. It was rare in 2012 that I didn't have a book in my hand or carried around in my purse....

So I'm sharing with all of you my resolutions for 2013! Hopefully I won't make any dumb ones this year that I'll regret (homemade sushi...... really, Taylor?!) but now I will never lose them on a silly bit of failed technology!

Sub-30 min 5K - I think I can accomplish this by the end of 2013! I'm consistently in the 31:xx range when I'm on my A-game. And I have an entire year to run faster!

Don't to anything stupid going leading up to your first half marathon - I have some time goals in the back of my mind, but in all honesty I don't want to make those big important goals. My goal should just be finish alive. So I just really want to make it to the start and finish line with an injury free smile on my face!

Smile, Tay! Take some better pics while you're at it!

Learn to cook - I'm a terrible cook and don't really like eating out, either. If I could just snack all day and get rid of meals I probably would. But I'd like to be like my Italian family and just throw together a gourmet meal in my sleep.

Eat more veg - I'm not a vegetable person. AT ALL. I wouldn't willingly eat vegetables if there was another option. But the other day during a post Christmas meal with family, I was eating all the veg on the table and loving it! (I think it's because I was so sick of turkey, so I just went for anything) It was exactly then that I knew I needed to just find healthy options that I genuinely enjoy instead of eating things for the sake of being healthy.

BE HEALTHIER!! This is not healthy, but it's oh so scrumptious! (If you've been to Canada and didn't eat a Beaver Tail, you haven't lived!)

Enjoy my wedding and don't get overwhelmed trying to please everybody - The past couple of weddings I went to, it just seemed like the couple was running around constantly talking with people, meeting and greeting, and trying to keep everyone happy. It's going to be a lot to juggle lots of family and friends from multiple continents, but I need to focus on my special day more than anything.

Get UK drivers license - I got the wheels turning on that already (sorry, pathetic pun intended... I know it was bad...) but next year I'd like to be more skilled. And fully understand all 3 pedals down there. And actually get out on a real road.

Hello passengers seat! I mean UK drivers seat.... I just realized I'm wearing the same cardigan in two photos... I swear I'm not like a cartoon character; I don't wear the same thing everyday...

Happy New Year, everybody!

What are some of your New Year's resolutions?? What are you looking forward to most about 2012??

Friday, December 28, 2012

Inside The Wardrobe: NYE

New Years Eve is great! Most people I've spoken to aren't particularly thrilled for 2013 to come along because of the negative connotation with the number 13. But 13 is my lucky number, so I genuinely cannot wait!

I've had a little ponder about some New Years resolutions and I think 2013 is going to be one hell-of-a year!


I don't really like going out on New Years Eve like normal people. I'd rather stay at home and watch the New York ball drop or Big Ben at midnight depending on which continent I'm on.

But when I saw this dress in store, I couldn't help but think that it was perfect for a  NYE night out! (Even if I'm not partaking in it myself)


(The quote is inspired by my home girl Taylor Swift's song "Starlight". I love it. I want to dance to it all day long and throw sparkles in the air. I asked the Fiance if we can play it at our wedding celebration and he said, "well, it's customary to play songs that people actually KNOW." I'm the bride; I'll dance and throw glitter to whatever songs I want!) 

Normally I'm not this "matchy matchy" with my outfits. But the silver/blue/black just sort of caught my eye. It started with the shoes (if I could only walk in heels.......) and then just worked its way up with other accessories. 

Side note, I've been in love with stackable rings. I think both that and Essie nail polish are my 2012 staples that will continue on in 2013!

What do you do on New Years Eve? Do you go out and party or have a quiet night in? Have you thought about resolutions yet?? 

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Gifted

It's Christmas Eve! 

I can hardly wait for tomorrow. I love watching everyone open their presents more than anything. And I'm especially excited this year because it's my first Christmas where I don't have to be sad about going back to America. (Yes, I live here now. Do I mention that enough??) 

And I think this new "home status" for England is my favorite present of all time. 

It can't be wrapped or put under the tree, but I know it's there!

I say that it's a great present, but I've also had some amazing and thoughtful presents throughout my life. 

The one that stands out in my mind is from when I was 8. (Side note, it was around the time cassette tapes were becoming obsolete and CDs were becoming increasingly popular... I didn't have a CD player yet though...) The first present I opened was 'Nsync's Christmas CD. 

(You know the one I'm talking about...)




Talk about #90sGirlProblems

Anyway, I was so upset. How could Santa not know that we didn't have a CD player?! He knows everything!! What was he doing giving me CDs for?! Clearly, he was losing his touch. 

The last present I opened, however, was a 3 CD disk changer stereo. Well played, Mom. I mean Santa.

That was quite amazing. 

I've also gotten some absolutely dreadful presents, too. 




When I went to England for the first time, it was also the first time I spent Christmas away from home. Maybe my parents were trying to spite me, because when I returned home in January all jet lagged and sad (from leaving the Fiance for 5 long months), I got the worst presents of my life. 

I asked for a Blackberry, but instead got just about every item from Walmart's "As Seen on TV" section. 

I got a Pepto Bismol colored Snuggie, a picture frame, some twist hair clip thing, and.... (I'm not even kidding) Smooth-Aways. If you don't know what Smooth-Aways are, look it up, but don't judge me. (Just because I'm Italian, it doesn't mean I'm an overly hairy individual.)

In the most grateful but curious way I could, I asked WTF they were implying with the Smooth-Aways. They said that I like cosmetic things so they thought I'd want to try it. I wanted to say, "When I say Urban Decay, do you misinterpret that for Smooth Away?!" 

But I didn't.... 

Hope you don't get any Smooth-Aways in your stocking this year! (Seriously, they're worse than coal)




Whether it's an object or something completely intangible, what is the best present you've ever received? Have you ever gotten any really terrible presents??

Friday, December 21, 2012

Inside The Wardrobe: Jolly For Jumpers

I've been wanting an "ugly sweater" for a while now. Finally after the millionth time of me saying "ugly sweater", the Fiance said "it's not an ugly sweater, it's a Christmas jumper!"

Oops! Expat lingo always gets the best of me.


Whether you get them from charity shops, eBay, or the back of your mom/mum's closet/wardrobe, ugly Christmas jumpers are making a comeback in 2012! I can't even count the amount of photos I've seen of friends going to "ugly Christmas sweater" parties or "tacky Christmas jumper" pub crawls!

Clearly, I'm a big fan. I'm definitely rocking a jumper sometime in the next few days for Christmas family celebrations!



Not only are jumpers super warm and cozy, they are comfortable. I'm the youngest in the family (both sets... The Fiance's family and my own) so that means that when we open presents I get relegated to sitting on the floor. Therefore, my Christmas outfit has to withstand many hours of Christmas fun all over the place! Simple but festive outfits like this are perfect for me!

What are you wearing this year for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?? A jumper so ugly that it's cute? Do you dress up a bit more?? 

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fa La La La La La Florida

Before we get to the meaning behind my cheesy post title, I'd like to say a major thank you to Melissa at Smitten by Britain. She allowed me to do a guest post for today!

I've been thinking a lot recently about the differences between Christmas in Florida and Christmas in England. This year will be my fourth Christmas in England, so I decided to write about my 5 favorite things to do during Christmas here in England

So please make your way over here to read it!

I also had a good think about what I liked to do during Christmas in Florida. Instead of focusing on the cultural and weather differences between the two locations, I thought about what I liked to do the most. And while "going to the beach" and "sunbathing" didn't make the cut (but so should have!), I also wrote my 5 favorite things to do during Christmas in Florida!

1. Putting up the tree - In my family, buying the tree and decorating it is a pretty big tradition. We have to find the perfect tree. Decent height, no "bald patches" as my step-mom likes to call it, and a strong smell to fill the house! Then, we spend an entire night decorating, eating, and drinking while listening to Christmas music. My parents fight and threaten to divorce each other while trying to put up the lights while I laugh my ass off and just try to keep the cats in check. The ornaments have to go up in a specific order. It's serious business, but it's such great fun! 

I'm stuck! No, I'm kidding... Gotta love doing the grunt work!!

2. Pretending 50 degrees Fahrenheit (about 10 degrees C) is cold - Oh, yes, Florida's "cold fronts" are kind of a joke. But any excuse to wear a scarf and boots, right?? It's fun to dress up like it's winter, even fully knowing that by next week we'll be back in shorts and t-shirts. My friends and I like to have small bonfires outside and make s'mores! 

3. Driving around and seeing the Christmas lights - When I was little, there was a water tower that had the best Christmas lights display! My mom and I would drive around (sometimes twice at my request) slowly and look at them while listening to Christmas music. Since then, the water tower no longer does their massive displays. But I love going around my neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods to look at the impressive lights. It feels magical!

4. Seeing old friends - Once I reached college, a lot of my friends and I went separate ways. Christmas vacation was always the best time to meet up again to reminisce, talk about our semesters, and of course do lots more eating and drinking. If the weather was nice, we'd have a pool party. Typical Florida December. My favorite thing to do, however, was go painting with my best friends. There's a local place where you can paint your own pre-made pottery. We'd spend hours upon hours there painting potential Christmas presents!

5. The local parade - One of the things I miss most about South Florida is our local parade. I was actually IN that parade for a majority of my life; first with my dance studio and then in high school with marching band. I never really got many chances to spectate it; however, when I did I thought it was absolutely amazing! It's no Macy's Day Parade, but it's still pretty good for a little beach town in Florida.

IT'S CHRISTTTTMASSSSS! I hope you said that like Slade's "Merry Christmas Everybody" song.

As you can see, Christmas in Florida and England are completely different experiences! But they both have the same priorities in mind.... Eat.... Drink... And be merry! 

Where do you normally spend Christmas? What are your favorite things to do there that make it so special and unique?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Half Marathon Training Week 8

Preface: I had a really hard time debating what to write today. I went back and forth about actually going on with my half marathon training week 8 post since I've missed a few of weeks, but I felt really guilty considering what happened on Friday. 

There's so much to say about gun control or lack thereof, especially because of the completely differing opinions on the subject in my old home and my new home. But to be honest, I prefer keeping my opinions to myself. With any tragedy, whether it be personal or global, I tend to stay away from the internet for expressing what's on my mind. I always have. Others have posted beautiful words all over blogs and social media sites, but it really is not my thing. All I know is that words just aren't enough.

My heart goes out to Newtown, CT and everyone affected by the shooting.

That all being said, I had a great week for running but I'll make it quick.






Monday - LRR group run. I believe we covered about 4 miles of just slow circuits around the park. Nothing fancy.

Tuesday - OFF

Wednesday - 6 miles

Thursday - OFF. I had planned to do a short run but my hip had been bothering me for a while. I decided to rest instead so it was okay for Saturday.

Friday - OFF

Saturday - 7 miles in total starting with the park run 5K. I pushed myself a bit but I knew I could have done better. I started getting lazy because I knew after the 5K I'd still have about 4 miles to cover. Nonetheless, I came out with a PB of 31:13 which I was proud of. Still in the 31:XX funk which I've been in for about a month or more... Anyone want to pace me? When I say "pace me" I mean chase after me violently with a stick so I can sub 31:00?? Thanks in advance.

Sunday - OFF

What motivates you to do speed work or go faster during a race?? Do you enjoy going beyond your comfort zone or would you rather stay at your "happy pace"?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Inside The Wardrobe: Serious Sparkle

Sparkles are kind of my best friend. 



Love them on nail polish.

Love them on shoes (glitter Toms for the win).

Love them in any way, shape, or form.

Top . . Trousers . . Necklace . . Clutch . . Flats

What's great about Christmas time is that you can always get away with wearing sparkly outfits. (and naturally, buying more sparkly outfits!)

I fell in love with these shoes because they're a unique twist on the two tone flats that are popular these days. I normally don't go for gold accessories, but I thought it complimented the sparkly top better than any other color!

And of course, a girly play on "keep calm and carry on". Very British, indeed!

Lets talk about sparkles. Only for special occasions (New Years Eve, parties, etc.) or for daily use?

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)

Driving From The Passenger's Seat

I've tackled many challenges in my life. Some fun. Some annoying. All (mostly) worth while.

Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING could have prepared me for this:


Yes, the steering wheel (and, well, me) is on the right side of the car. You know, because that's how they make 'em in England.

And yes, as like most of the cars in England, this one is a manual. Which I have never driven before in my life.

2 challenges in 1? Why the hell not!

But it happened, and I'm here to tell you that it was kind of amazing.

Despite the Fiance saying that I did better than him and his brother on their first times driving (whoop whoop!), I had a few (read: 72983) oopsies along the way. But I'll spare you the novel and just tell you the important ones.

Oopsie #1: The clutch does a hell-of-a lot more than I thought it did. Surprise! I'm used to the car doing all the work, and now all of a sudden my left foot having to do something! I literally thought the clutch was just needed to change gears.... It's not. It's like you're doing a little dance with your feet.

Oopsie #2: Turning the wrong way when reversing. When you reverse in America, you turn your body to the right (to look over your right shoulder). That works really great when you are sat on the left side. Doesn't work so great when you are sat on the right side and find yourself staring at your seat belt and door. Yep, my brain went into car reversing mode and automatically turned right. WRONG.

Oopsie #3: "Driving like an American". There's no other way to describe it. Driving in a "new seat" gives you a completely new perspective. So most of my car depth perception is screwed. Apparently the car was always too left when I was driving and I had loads of extra space on the right side that I should have utilized.

I should also say that I didn't even make it on to a road. (Hence why I'm probably still alive...)

We stayed in an empty lot the entire time while I dealt with my 2 challenges in 1.

Next step is to perfect the whole "not stalling" thing and make my left foot not so lazy before hitting the streets of England. I'll let you know how things progress.

(By the way, I'm in the process of getting my provisional license in England, but I can drive here on my American license for one year. Make sure you check your country's driving laws before you embark on adventures in your car!) 

Has anyone ever tried driving in a country that drives on the opposite side as your own? How did it go? If you've never tried, would you consider it? Why or why not??

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dear Santa... Love, An Expat

Dear Santa,

Merry Christmas! Hope you're not too busy to read my letter. I know, I'm 22. I'm still allowed to do this, right?

I hope you got my address change for this year. I'm in England now... FOR GOOD. You understand my love of cold weather, right? I mean, you live in the North Pole!

Anyway, I've had a pretty good year! I got engaged and had a great summer, I survived my 22nd birthday, my UK visa got approved and I moved to England, I signed up for a half marathon in February, and I'm even done with Christmas shopping before the tree is even up!

More was even added AFTER the picture was taken. Thank you Royal Mail!

I've been very lucky this year, so my list isn't going to be very long.

But now that I'm an expat, there are some new items on the list I'd like to address.

1. Can you bring Target to the UK? Don't get me wrong, stores here are great! But nothing really says "one stop shop to blow your money on things you don't need" like Target. For the sake of humanity, England is really missing out.

TRUTH.

2. I'd really like some subtitles to travel around with. Nothing fancy. But when I talk, sometimes people don't get me. Portable subtitles that people can read would be really helpful when I'm out and about.

Just like this.

3. Can add something to my sisters Christmas list, please? She probably didn't ask for one, but I know she'd like a private jet this year so she can come see me in England whenever she wants. It'll fit in your big bag of presents, right?

4. You know how tiny and crowded English roads are? Well, I'd like a car that was just invisible to damage please. That way when I am driving on these roads no cars (or people) get hurt! Or better yet, the car could be like the Knight Bus from Harry Potter (and the Prisoner of Azkaban), the way it slows down time to squeeze through small spaces and stuff! That would be a life saver (pun intended).

(More on my UK driving later in the week!)

I'm a fantastic driver in America. Look at that concentration! And that steering wheel cover! Priorities...

5. A Mary Poppins Bag. Easy as that. If I had one of those, I wouldn't have thought I packed millions of things that I actually didn't pack (like my favorite Lululemon top.... 2 months later and I'm still bitter).

Work your magic, Santa! I know you can do it!

As per usual, can't go wrong with anything with owls on it or anything Harry Potter related.

Love,

Taylor the expat

Join the fun! Write one thing (or five!), preferably whimsical or crazy, that you would ask Santa for this year!  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Inside The Wardrobe: What Is Plaid?

Whenever I say "plaid" here, I get strange looks.

Apparently, the American "plaid" is the British "check".

Noted.

Personally, when I think of checkered print, I think of a checkered (racing) flag. More of a distinct tessellation, less of an overlapping pattern. (I can't believe I just used the word tessellation. #MathNerd)

But going on the "I'm in England and speak English" thing, I shall use the word checkered. 


I LOVE checkered prints. I secretly wish I had a uniform in school so I could have worn polo shirts, checkered skirts, and knee high socks. Call me crazy.

But nowadays, anytime I wear checkered shirts with my glasses (too lazy for contacts most days), I get called a wannabe hipster. (As opposed to any other day where I just get called Amy Farrah Fowler. PICK A SIDE, PEOPLE! I CAN'T BE BOTH!) For the record, I'm not a wannabe hipster. Just a girl with poor eyesight.

So I'm going to go with a more subtle checkered print.


I really like layers as the weather gets colder. I think check shirts go great under plain jumpers with the collar over the top and the checkered sleeves rolled up over the jumper's sleeves.

(Since the red is a bit of a contrast to the green trousers, I'd definitely keep the check shirt tucked in but leave the jumper out.)

And how cute is that dog necklace??? I know normally I'm an owl fiend, but I couldn't resist this little pup! 

How do you like to style check/plaid prints?? 
And totally off topic, do you have a celebrity look alike? Do people constantly tell you that you look like someone else?? (Like I get, "hey, you look like that girl from The Big Bang Theory!")

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Not-So Home For The Holidays Gift Guide

In my X-Mas For Expats post, I talked about sending care packages to family and friends.

You don't need to spend a fortune to show the ones you love that you're thinking about them from another continent!

My parents are coming to England for the first time for the wedding. More specifically, they are leaving the country for the first time for the wedding. I don't know how they are going to take to the cold, the food, or even the accent. But this Christmas, I'm going to try to prepare them with these lovely gifts for my parents across the pond!


Passport Holders - My parents are getting their very first passports to come see me! Yes, over 40 years on planet Earth and they never got a passport. Passport holders will be perfect for them this Christmas, or any traveler in your family! (Side note, the Fiance hilariously wanted to get them holders that said "My First Passport". The best part was, it had pictures on baby toys on them and were baby blue and pink. I still say we should have done it!)

Amazon Gift Card - I'm 99% sure my step mom is getting a Kindle Fire HD this Christmas, and I'm sure she's not the only one getting on the tablet wagon this year. Gift cards are great (whether they are for Amazon or Apple), that way they can buy different apps and books for when they're on long plane journeys. Just be careful of the currency you buy it in!

Plug Adapters - Obviously a must for anyone going across the pond. Nothing worse than buying some and then finding out your plugs don't fit into the adapter (true story, happened to me many times). So giving them these as an early traveling present will spare them the hassle of buying them once they arrive (or having to buy those "kits" with every plug under the sun). And if their American plugs don't fit, we still have plenty of time to get ones that do fit!

Sweets and Treats - Of course, you have to give them a taste of what they will be enduring when they come to visit. Throw in your favorites and hopefully they will enjoy them, too! (By the way, LOVING Dairy Milk Oreo Flavor these days. Anyone else agree??)

So instead of buying your dad a tie/cufflinks set and your mom some oven mits, try sending them their own personal travel care package! The possibilities are endless (language guides, sightseeing books, a photo album for all their pictures). But these are the things I've found most practical for my family!

And how amazing is this card??

Happy Christmas from Southampton! So cool!!

Such a cute idea (from the Card Factory)! My family should definitely look out of these, too! Cards are so underrated in the States. Nothing made me happier as a kid than getting cards. I completely fell in love with sending cards again once I came to England!

What do you send home for the holidays? Whether you're across the country or across the world, what would you include for the perfect "care package" to your family that's unique and personal?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

You Eat WHAT For Breakfast?!

Take a second to watch this video. (Major kudos to Sam for introducing me to the video in this post!)



Alright, now what did you learn?

"Biscuits and gravy" does not mean McVities and the stuff you pour all over your Sunday roast.

Biscuits and gravy is a southern style breakfast that looks a little something like this:

WTF is in that? Looks like a whole bunch of mush.

When I say "southern style", I mean that it's more common in the southern and stereotypically "country" states.

(Florida is a funny place. North Florida is more "southern" and South Florida is more "northern". Lot's of people move to South Florida from New York, New Jersey, Eastern Canada, and New England, therefore making it more northern. North Florida is closer to Georgia and Alabama, therefore making it more southern. My mom was from New Jersey and my dad/step mom's family is from North Carolina, making me a whole bunch of confused.)

I thought when I moved to England, that would be the end to some of my favorite meals. This one included. But that's definitely not the case!

First things first, we need to define some words for everyone in the UK. Yes, it's your turn to get an English lesson today!

Biscuit - I'd say this is a savory version of a scone. It's not sweet like they are for a cream tea. They're more buttery. Typically if you think of American fast food chains such as KFC or Hardee's, you think of these biscuits.

Before and after pics of the biscuits. Helpful hint: we used the rim of a pint glass to cut out the biscuit from the dough! Talk about getting crafty!

Gravy - There really is no British equivalent to this. Gravy is the result of mixing all the flavors of spiced breakfast sausage (but not the typical links of it like in a fry up), mixing it with milk, and thickening it with flour.

(The sausage we used was found in the frozen food section of Sainsbury's and was without the encasing normally found for sausage links.) 

Sausage made into patties before grinding it up and adding it to the "gravy"

We (and when I say "we", I really mean the Fiance. I'm useless in the kitchen.) based our recipe off of this one and my family's own southern recipe.

It just goes to show that with a little extra effort and some trial and error, "home" cooked food doesn't have to feel thousands of miles away!

(If you want me to do a full post on how to make UK-friendly biscuits and gravy, let me know and I will!)

What meals do you miss when you're not in your home country? Have you ever tried to make something "foreign" and succeeded? Or failed miserably?

Monday, December 3, 2012

X-Mas For Expats

Well, it's December!!

And in case you didn't know, that means everything Christmas is acceptable!!

Unless your name is cranky the cat.

(That's my cat by the way. Bundle of joy, she is!)

I miss my cat. And I miss a lot of things about America. But this will be my fourth consecutive Christmas in England.

I honestly can't remember Christmas anywhere else but England! It's felt so normal since my first Christmas here in 2009. In fact, I'd probably be very confused spending Christmas in Florida.

But this year is different.

The good thing about it is that when the new year rolls around, I won't be getting on a plane and going back to America! The bad thing about it is that when the new year rolls around, I won't be getting on a plane and going back to America.

And I really don't consider it a "bad" thing that I'm not leaving by any means. Seriously, I've stopped calling Florida "home" and there's never a moment where I regret moving. But it also means that everything I miss stays very distant.

I've thought about it, and I made a list of ways to cope with not being in your native country over Christmas.

Send a care package to your family/friends - Nothing too big or expensive, but lots of things that they can't get where they live. Since my parents are coming to England for the wedding (first time EVER leaving the country for them), I'm sending them a box full of the things they will need for their long international journey across the pond.

Hope for a care package for yourself - I know this is the season of giving, but come on, you know you're craving that massive bag of your favorite sweets. It's perfectly acceptable to drop hints at your friends/family members to immediately drive to Target and buy those little things you miss.

Do something incredibly American (or whatever country you're from!) - She's Not From Yorkshire is probably the queen of doing the stereotypical American thing to dodge homesickness. I will officially announce that I will be the Vice Prez of that club. Go and order a Venti of your favorite Starbucks drink. Find a TGIFriday's (like the Fiance and I did on Thanksgiving) and order your favorite appetizers and laugh at their "flair". You'll feel so American that you'll need to get back to reality by watching a Stephen Fry TV show.


And then take a picture of it like a tourist because you're a really really cool person who takes pictures in Starbucks

Don't worry about holiday indulging - You have enough on your plate (no pun intended), the holidays are about spending time with your loved ones, and eating. And then lots of eating with your loved ones. Don't worry about having more Christmas pudding with lots of cream or drinking that extra glass of mulled wine.

Schedule a family Skype date - Hopefully your family knows how to use technology (mine suck at using technology). Plan a group Skype date so you can see everyone at once and it's like you're at a family get together! Dress up, reminisce, hint about the care package that you desire.

Do something new - Go to the zoo, eat at a new restaurant, find the town's local German market, go to a Christmas pantomime. Do something weird that you've never done before! Take pictures and tell your family that you'll take them the next time that they visit you in your new home!

Has anyone been to the London Dungeons?? Do it! It's fun!!

For me, I don't get "home sick" easily. When I was in Florida, I would say I was "England-sick" because I missed it so much (and of course the Fiance). So me being here feels right. But that doesn't mean I don't miss my cranky cat every once in a while. And these things definitely help!!

Where do you normally spend the holidays?? Do you go away? Stay at home? Where would your ideal December be spent?? 
Any other tips for spending the holidays far from your native country?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Inside The Wardrobe: Dress Yourself!

I like clothes. A lot.

What girl doesn't like clothes, really?

I started being a shopaholic at an early age. I have an older sister and our weekends consisted of spending lots of time at the mall. Isn't that what older sisters are for?? (Because shopping with parents was so not cool when I was younger. Now I'd kill to go shopping and not have to worry about spending my own money!)


I'd say that when I dress myself, I dress for comfort more than anything. And now so more than ever; I walk everywhere here in England and I don't want to be walking 20 minutes somewhere wishing I'd worn something more practical.


(2 things about this outfit. First, that cardigan has sequins in it. Love. Second, I actually have that owl necklace. I got it in Mexico, but apparently can be found in England!)

This outfit screams Taylor for 2 reasons: Owls and a cardigan.

I love my cardigan collection. My friends used to call me "Mr. Feeny" (from Boy Meets World) because they said I dressed like him with all my cardigans. Whatever people; everybody loves Mr. Feeny! 

And of course, if I'm home and comfy, there's probably a cuppa tea nearby in my fave owl mug.

(Side note, ohmigod it's the last day of November.... Eeeek!! Whose opening their advent calendars tomorrow morning with excitement?!?! I know I am!!)

What is your personal style? Do you have typical YOU style staples (like my cardigans and owls?) 

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Broadcast Battle: USA vs. UK

I want to talk to you about something very important....... TELEVISION.

Oh yes.... I'm going there. 

There's a question that dates all the way back to the dawn of time (not really)... Which is better, American television or British television?

I've read every fired up argument from every forum that Google would show me. I have to say, people are pretty passionate about their country's telly! So much so that I've literally been incredibly overwhelmed thinking about writing this post.

But I still don't know which is "better"!

I'm going to warn you, I'd say that my taste in American TV is dreadful. But I am fully against Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and that's what's most important.

But seriously, I enjoy shows such as Pretty Little Liars (sue me, it's addicting), Awkward., and The Big Bang Theory. I'm sorry.

Does it help my case if I say I know the entire Big Bang theme by heart? No? Didn't think so....

In all honesty, a lot of the American things I like to watch, Brits hate. Prime example being The Big Bang Theory.

Oops.

So I've made a list (shocker) of what I have deemed as some major differences between television in the UK vs. USA, and you can determine for yourself which is better.

(I'm going to warn you now, it's long. Go make yourself a cuppa tea or grab a bowl of popcorn. Or both!)

(Disclaimer: I am an American living in England (duh) trying to see both sides. This is also from my perspective being in the young adult/emerging adulthood phase of life. Don't hate me for what I have to say.)

Emphasis on Good TV - Does it bring people together?

A known phrase here in England is "when the weather gets bad, the TV gets good!" So a lot of emphasis is put on "good television" to the point where it's a pride factor. It's lighthearted and a communal activity. And the only thing better than good TV is the Christmas Specials of good TV! Nothing brings people together on Christmas more than an episode of "The Royle Family" after your roast.

In America, I don't feel as though it's about "good TV" as much as it is being current and in the know with popular TV. Seriously, I don't even know how many times I've been pressured to watch "Grey's Anatomy". No I don't care how popular it is or how much it made you cry that one time; I'm not interested. (Still have yet to see one episode) It's also not really deemed healthy to have so much emphasis on TV. Although, when people are more interested in watching season after season of shows, I can kind of see why.

Humor - Or technically, humour since I live in England now.

Humor can seriously be split into 87 different subtitles of it's own, so bear with me. 

I'd say the biggest difference on what constitutes good television (that is, if it's not meant to be a drama) is the sense of humor.

American comedy is completely different to British comedy, but also think of the amount of people American sitcoms have to impress. American TV has more obvious humor. And of course, who could miss that fake laugh reel in the background? British comedy, on the other hand, is more quick and witty.  

One thing that England definitely does right (among lots of other things) is something called "wall to wall comedy panel shows." Basically it's two teams of comedians that make fun of, well, anything and everything!



In my opinion, I think this hasn't really caught on the States because of how controversial it can be. (The closest thing I can compare this to is Chelsea Lately. Instead of 2 panels of competing comedians, it's 1 panel of 3 comedians. But if you've read her books, which I have because I have a little girl crush on her, you know how censored it really is) I say that because typically on these shows, BRITISH comedians always end up making fun of BRITISH news, BRITISH people, and BRITISH lifestyle (i.e. dull weather, cuppa tea, Nectar Points... don't even get me started on Nectar Points).

Now if a show like this was aired in America with AMERICAN comedians making fun of AMERICAN news, AMERICAN people, and AMERICAN lifestyle, it wouldn't be funny, it would be unpatriotic. Am I wrong? America prides itself for being strong and united. Now turn that into a mockery, and you've got something unAmerican.

Personally, I don't feel that way. I repeat: I don't feel that way. If you've read my blog for more than 10 seconds you'd know that I think the best thing you can do is laugh at yourself. But not everyone feels the same. You've got to remember, American TV has to impress a population spanning from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and that's just on the national level. You can't please everyone.


Content - How can they say that on national television?! 

The Fiance (remember him? Yes I do have a life outside comparing America and England) told me that as a kid he used to watch the show "Bottom".


I watched it and thought, "OHMIGOD! You watched this as a kid?!" (In case you don't know, it has a lot of rude humor. Hilarious, nonetheless. Watch the Christmas episode right now.)

Well, British kids are exposed to a lot more at an early age, and it's acceptable. Example: football (soccer for the other side of the pond) is just as rude as things seen and heard on TV, and kids are exposed to football extremely often.

As a kid grown up in America, I feel as though we are more sheltered to content. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, I have no idea. But it's just like the controversy over violent video games; do they cause more violence? Does more mature content make kids act or speak differently?

The F-word among other words (I sound like such a wuss, "The F-word", like I'm that goody two shoes girl in the 4th grade covering her ears at the word "crap". For the record, I say the F-word quite often, just not on here.) is also a very common word heard on national television.

"Say what?!!!" says every American.

Yes, basically anything after 9 PM is free range, including the F-bomb.

Now while we are on the subject of content, I want to bring up this point: Kids from America age differently than kids from the UK.

That sounds ridiculous.

Almost as ridiculous as these guys. The Inbetweeners doing their thing at Thorpe Park.

What I mean is, the norms for certain ages are different in the two countries and I think that drastically changes how television content is displayed.

Take drinking for example. Americans drink legally at 21 while people in the UK drink legally at 18. This makes their experiences so different! 

What does that have to do with television? Content and exposure. Exposing television viewers at the adult age (18+ years) to "adult content" (i.e. drinking) is inevitable in both countries. Television shows have to reflect the laws and norms of the audience, making something "normal" in the UK actually "racy" in the States. Lot's of these norms start earlier in the UK. Since the growing up years are more accelerated in the UK, so does the content that is "normal" to show.

Instead of sheltering certain ages, I feel that the UK takes a more "this is real life, this is what happens" approach. America takes more of a "if we don't show it, it doesn't exist" approach. Out of sight out of mind.

So exposure at an early age is not only different in both countries, it's also based on the norms of growing up. 

If we are trying to decide which is better, it all depends on what you're looking for in your television experience (or what you want your children's television experience to be). I personally enjoy not having it so censored in England; it tells it like it is. So British TV wins for me. No faffing about or dilly dallying around the subject matter just to make it "acceptable".

Familiarity - Have you heard of this show?

I honestly think American television is more well known and therefore more universal. But that doesn't mean it's better.

If you ask people in the UK to name some American TV shows, you get things like Friends, Frasier, Glee, etc.

"Could I BE wearing anymore clothes?!"

But if you ask someone in the USA to name British TV shows, most of the time they can't. Maybe you get the occasional person who enjoys Dr. Who or there's that person whose sister's friend of a friend told them to watch The Inbetweeners that one time. Other than that, it's not such common trivia.

There's many reasons why that could be the case, but I think the main reason is simply that most everything in America is well known throughout the world. It's not just the TV, it's the entire industry that Hollywood created, along with brand names for food, drinks, electronics, games, etc. America wants it's name out there, and is pretty successful at that.

At the same time, many American TV shows are based on British TV shows. (View that list here. I'm out of school and have a degree now; so it's acceptable for me to use Wikipedia.) So the familiarity is there, it's just not necessarily giving originality credit in the right place. (There are also many British TV shows that are based on American shows, although it's not as hefty of a list. View that list here, and just look at the types of shows that they are...)

Budget - Bigger isn't necessarily better.

It's no surprise that America does television "over the top". They hire the best writers, the most upcoming actors, and buy the biggest and most elaborate sets. They entertain in the form of aesthetics as well as through the script.

But it's no secret that the UK can't afford the luxuries of Hollywood. At the same time, the scenes don't need to be supernatural, out of this world, or mind blowing for it to be good. I bet British TV would be through the roof amazing if they had a similar budget to the Hollywood budget. (The Fiance says, "Give Ricky Gervais loads of money and see what he can do with it!")

Now with budget comes advertisements in the form of commercials. Because let's be honest, who really is paying for the TV show you're watching. Could it be those 12 Pepsi commercials you saw during the break?

Well what about the BBC? No adverts because it's a public service; they have to be impartial. Obviously, this doesn't give them the budget that Pepsi gives, but it's still well liked (probably an understatement). Because of the no adverts rule, shows are l o n g e r. There's no 8+ minutes of commercial break time to account for. There's no mid-show cliff hanger while they cut away to a kitty litter advert.

More TV to provide for. Less of the money to do so.


Thank you, BBC, for Sherlock Holmes!

The downside to having to please the general public is that you get shows like Bargain Hunters, Houses Under the Hammer, and Flog It. I'm sorry, I have to say a big ol' WTF BBC to that. If I see one more show about antiques or dilapidated houses, I will lose my marbles.

Season size - Quantity or quality?

A typical season in the UK is 6 episodes. 6 episodes?! That seems like nothing!

But think about the amount of filler episodes you've had to go through in a 12+ episode season. Sure, it got a few laughs, but was there anything really substantial happening that was vital to the storyline? Not really.

America definitely favors quantity over quality while the UK favors the opposite. 

Maybe 6 is too little, maybe 12 is too much. Who really knows?

(That Sherlock Holmes from the BBC pictures above has 3 episodes per season. 3 mind blowing episodes.)

(Insert natural pause in my monologue to regroup and sum up key points)

The jist of all this is to say that American television and British television are different. It's like comparing peanut butter and pickles. Both have their flaws and both bring something unique to the table. They both have different standards for "quality". Lots of Brits think American TV is crap. A lot of Americans just wouldn't get British TV.

I think as far as being something globally impressive, American TV wins. You can't compare the special effects and sheer over the top energy that is American TV. It's made to be global and it's made to be known. But impressive doesn't mean better.

I also think that if we are comparing content and natural talent, not simply trying to "please" an audience or make millions, British TV takes the cake. But again, that doesn't deem it generally better, either. However, I do have the confidence to say that the comedy genre is better by far. (But you have to be able to keep up with it. I've been practicing my British comedy watching skills for years now and still sometimes I'm still like "huh??")

It's all a matter of YOUR opinion and what you like to see on the telly! Good TV to you may be bad TV to someone else.

As for me on this side of the pond, I loves me some good comedy: The Inbetweeners, Russell Howard's Good News, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, and A League Of Their Own. I've also been known to like QI, Sherlock Holmes, Fresh Meat, and Skins.

Come on, everyone loves Stephen Fry!

What's YOUR opinion? Is American TV or British TV better and why? What do you like to watch on TV? What's important to your television viewing experience? Something to make you laugh? Something suspenseful?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Half Marathon Training Week 5

Week 5 is now in the books! Despite everything the world and the weather threw at me, I made it!

Last week, if you recall, I had a kind of tough long run. Mentally I was done, and it was taking a toll on me.

But also, if you recall, I PR-ed in Saturday's park run last week. So clearly I had a fire lit under me that my mind just didn't want to deal with.

(Don't let your head give up before your legs give out)
(Pic taken in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico)

I've learned recently that running is a mental game. It's easy to make excuses as to why something didn't go as planned. 

But most of the time it's your mind and that tired voice in the back of your head saying how much easier it would be if you just stopped or slowed down.

Maybe my crappy 7 mile run would have been better if I didn't keep complaining about it in my head. Because at the end of the day, I finished those 7 miles. That's 7 more miles than I was running a few years ago. It's 7 more miles than a lot of people ran that day. And it's 7 more miles of preparation for the half marathon.

So from now on I'm going to try to be more positive! It can't hurt!

Anyways, time to run off all that pumpkin pie I've been eating.......




...and when I say "run off" I really mean "go run and then eat more pumpkin pie"

Side note: This is the first week where I've felt really achy and sore from training. Maybe it was that 7 miler last week. But I'll tell ya, I feel it! 



Monday - LRR group run. I loved every bit of this run, but sadly my stomach did not (TMI?) Seriously, it was really great and I wish I could have done better. We just did a long, consistently paced run (which are my favorite) around the park. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of eating a whole bunch of olives before I went to meet up for the group run. OLIVES?! WTF was I thinking eating olives!!? I pushed through the pains until the last ten minutes and finally decided to walk. It was frustrating, but I felt infinitely better once I stopped jumbling up my stomach even more.

Tuesday - OFF

Wednesday - 4 miles through the rain, mud, and puddles! Other than that, a very good run!

Thursday - 5 incredibly windy miles

Friday - OFF

Saturday - 5 miles (technically just a bit over actually). I did one mile before the park run 5K and one mile after.

During the park run, I was trying to focus on my mentality. Not my pace, not everyone around me, not how ridiculously rainy it was, but my own thoughts.

Here is my thought process throughout the whole 5K:

"Okay, you can do this, Tay. No negative thoughts like last week. You PRed last week and you were a negative ass so just imagine what you can do if you really stay positive. Keep up with these people now and when we get to your little Florida Girl Hills we will slow down and reassess how you feel. 
Just get to the hills. The hills are not your enemy anymore. Don't even call them hills. Call them ant piles. Yes, stupid little ant piles. Think of how hard these hills were a few weeks ago. Now you do them in your sleep. 
Wow it's really raining hard. Rain is good. Oh, I'm over the hills! I mean ant piles. That wasn't so bad! 
Keep it going. There go the fast runners. They're almost done and I'm just getting halfway. No, no negative thoughts. You are a rock star. Oh crap, the fast runners are splashing mud on me. Where did they get all that mud from?? Oh well. Positive thoughts. Thanks so much for the mud; it goes great with my sweat! Goodbye fast runners, I have another loop to do. 
Focus. You're over halfway done. And don't forget, you ran a mile before the park run. You can still do this. Oh here's the mud. There is SO MUCH mud. Ohmigod this sucks. 
Okay no more mud. Back to focusing. When you get back to that road, think about how you want to finish the race. DAMNIT MUD! THIS IS WORSE THAN THE LAST BIT OF MUD!! MY SHOES ARE GETTING STUCK!!! Ew. Ew. Ew. Stop saying ew, Taylor, you're acting like a wuss. 
Okay back on the road with no mud. Right, there's the 4K sign. Less than a mile to go. You're nearly there! Yayyyy! You're doing great. You ran a mile, you're nearly done with 5K, and you have to run another mile when this is over so don't exert all your energy. 
Just keep this up. 2010 Taylor would have passed out 3.75 miles ago. 2012 Taylor can do this! And likes it! No no, you LOVE it! If you didn't like endurance you would have taken up tiddly winks instead. 
Okay, when you turn this corner, you'll see the finish. If you don't start sprinting when you see the finish.... Wait that sounds harsh. Okay, if you'd like to sprint to the finish, that's great! But you've done fantastic today! So if this pace is what you wanna do, do it! Nearly there! Mmm, more mud with a side of mud, andddd I'm done!"

Hilariously, I completed the park run in 31:32, which is my exact time of last week's park run! I was initially disappointed (seriously, I couldn't have run one second faster?!) but then I thought how much better this week felt. It felt more natural this week and I definitely wasn't as winded when I was done. So I'm going to count this week as a personal win!

Sunday -OFF

Side note, if you follow me on Twitter you know I got a case of the crazies Saturday night. I promise I only get like that once a year. FSU vs. UF game. And I'm not happy about the result.

Garnet and Gold forever!

 Hope you all had a great weekend!! 

Runners - What are you currently training for?? Certain race? Certain pace? Do you tend to like it better when you've got a goal in mind?
Non-Runners - What motivates you to reach your goals? Rewards? Self-fulfillment?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Inside the Wardrobe: Black Friday 2012

Nothing irritates someone who works in retail more than the words BLACK FRIDAY.

(For those of you not familiar, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving where there are massive sales, long queues to get into stores, and crazy people attacking other people for electronic items. It also, in my opinion, ruined a lot of what Thanksgiving is about by making workers go in at midnight for the sake of insane shoppers. I'll save that rant for another time.)

I've worked nearly every Black Friday since I was 16. I've gotten to work at 4 AM. I've dealt with irritating savings-hungry customers. I've arrived at work over an hour in advance just to attempt to find parking. I've made cupcakes for my team to boost morale. I've braved the chaos that is the food court. I've done and seen it all.

Now that I'm in England, Black Friday is a thing of the past. No Thanksgiving = No Black Friday. (I know, I know, Boxing Day Sales. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.)

So to me here in England, Friday the 23rd of November is just another day to shop.


This week was inspired by Black Friday, and of course, the color black. 



I feel like any time I wear a lot of black, someone always brings it up as being weird. One time I wore a black dress with leggings my parents said "What are YOU mourning today?!" Cool.

So whenever I wear black, I like to add some color by wearing a patterned scarf. I usually go for floral prints, but I fell in love with this scarf because it has discrete owls all over it!

I'm also in love with tights right now. I think it's because I never really got the chance to wear fashion tights in Florida (tights for dance class though, I know all about!) except when my mom dressed me up when I was 6 to keep me warm from the cold front that was 59 degrees Fahrenheit. I have a pair of burgundy tights like those and they go really great with black and cream outfits!

Finally, top it off with an edgy jacket to stay warm and simple flats to stay comfy during the 12+ hour shopping day that is Black Friday.

Hope you guys in America have fun shopping today and that everyone stays safe! As for England, well like I said, today is just another excuse to go shopping! But apparently ASDA and Amazon were advertizing Black Friday sales online only! So how about THAT!

Anybody have Black Friday horror stories?! Either from working retail or from shopping?? 
What do you like to wear when you go shopping? Do you dress up or do you tend to stay casual? 
Does anyone in England wish there was a Black Friday equivalent over here? Would you take advantage of the sales or would the crowds scare you away? 

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)