Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Stratford-Upon-Avon, Revisited

   On Saturday, we took a day trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon; it was the second visit for Keila and me, but Yuki had never had the opportunity to go before. It's quickly becoming a favorite destination, seeing as it's only about a 40 minute drive away, is quite peaceful yet chock-full of activities, and this time we discovered the lovely Carluccio's restaurant. Great Italian food and baby-friendly; I can't ask for much more!
 We didn't really see any new sites, since we had to get back to Worcester for a company dinner in the evening (Italian yet again, but nothing nearly as good as lunch). Still, I did get a few pictures in better light than on the first visit, and while Yuki paid and went to the back of Holy Trinity church to view Shakespeare's grave, I happily wandered around the main floor and discovered some lesser-known graves that comprimsed the walkways. Felt kind of weird to realize we were trampling over graves as if they were irrelevant, and I wish that the markings hadn't been rubbed down so I could at least give some respect to who I was trodding upon. Not that they're around to care, but still....
  In other news, we're busy prepping for our upcoming trip to Italy! I may/may not have time to post again before we go, but in any case, expect lots of pictures after we return!

                                      The River Avon

                                                    Holy Trinity Church

                  You could make out most of this gravestone, but the rest were pretty well worn

                                  Keila enjoying some foccacia at Carluccio's

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Keila's 13 Month Update

     Here's what's been happing in little Billy Shatner's world since her first birthday:

1. We are still talking a TON, only some of it is now recognizable. Mama and Dada still of course, and she'll make a definite sound for 'no' while waving unwanted food away. I swear that the other day she said 'Ay-la' for Keila. Smart girl! We've been working on tapping our chests and saying 'Mama' and then 'Keila' for each respective person. So she now will tap her chest and say 'MAMA!' very proudly. Yeah, still working on that. However, when I say 'Where's Keila?' she will either point to herself or start playing peek-a-boo, so at least I'm pretty certain she knows her name!
2. We now have 12 teeth, 4 of which are molars. The 12th one is just peeking through, but it looks like we may have a break for a while before any more arrive. Hopefully!
3. Sleep. I would like some of it. Not much else to say there. Crib arrives next Monday, and let the sleep training begin!
4. On my birthday, Keila stood up unassisted for the first time! Go baby. Didn't do a whole lot else until yesterday, when she took her first assisted steps holding onto her big wheeled zebra. We'll see if she keeps that up; today there's been no interest whatsoever so I'm guessing she was just showing off for her friend who was visiting at the time.
5. Food. Ah, food. Seems like lately we've got 3 food groups in Keila's world:
      1. Food she doesn't like. 
       2. Food she likes but is allergic to (sesame, bananas, peanuts, and now pineapple as of yesterday) and 3. Pasta sauce and cream cheese.  Ok, so it's not as bad as all that, but I'm quite frustrated with the NHS at the moment, seeing as we have to wait until January for allergy testing. Pray that she doesn't react to anything else until then: yesterday's pineapple reaction involved projectile vomiting, swelling, and hives. Fun for all!
 6. I'm trying to think of new actions that Keila does, but none are coming to mind. She's gotten sooo mobile lately that it's hard to keep her sitting still long enough to learn new things. Oh, she will give me a kiss when I ask for one, however. Sweet baby!
 7. No idea what she weighs now, but she's heavy enough. So much so that my left foot is acting up from the combined baby weight/amount of daily walking. Definitely switching her over to the stroller full-time after we get back from vacation at the end of the month!


                                      Loving Our Pasta Sauce

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre

    We went downtown yesterday with a friend to hit up the Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre. I wish I could think of a good way to describe the experience....as another friend said 'It's worth going to see...once'. For those of you who've ever gone to a festival in suburban/small-town American or a local festival in Japan, you get the idea. Only I'd have to say that the festivals in Japan are a bit more fun than Western festivals, overall.
  What we saw was basically a lot of street stalls featuring various goods, along with a few random entertainers wandering around. To be fair (fayre, hah hah) there was probably a bit more going on this weekend as opposed to yesterday, but we really didn't want to bother with a large Saturday/Sunday crowd.
  The festival covered a smaller area than I'd been expecting, and there weren't nearly as many food stalls as at festivals in Japan. I saw some vendors selling churros, mince pies and mulled wine, fudge, and there was also the stand-out Caroline's Cakes stall, selling her lovely-looking cupcakes. I didn't get to taste one of these beauties but did end up buying one for a friend. I'm assuming they taste as good as they look! If you want to know more about her products, here's her web address: www.carolinescakesworcester.co.uk
  I did also find some nice woolly mittens for Keila, seeing as she does her best to lose every pair I put on her. For only 5 quid, they were a pretty good deal. Plus they have a security cord that she hopefully won't be able to tear off. Hopefully.
  Overall, it was nice to have a walk around and see the sights, but I don't know that we'll make a special trip downtown for it next year. I'm told that the Birmingham Fayre is much more fun, so if we get the chance we may visit that one later this month.

                                             This guy was playing a pipe and a drum at the same time. Which I didn't notice at first because I was too busy looking at his elf outfit.

                                           One of the festival streets

                                   Woolly mittens for 3 little kittens (Keila loves that nursery rhyme)

                                       Beautiful cupcakes sold by Caroline's Cakes

                                                     Men on stilts

                                   The 'Victorian' carousel...which pretty much seemed like a regular circus carousel to me

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

   Started to post about Thanksgiving yesterday, but Keila woke up from her nap early. Below is what I got done before she decided that it was play time again. Oh, and let me say again just how thankful I am for that little girl. We had a peanut allergy scare this morning involving a trip to the hospital. Times like those make one realize more than ever just how precious loved ones are. Thank God my sweet baby is ok!
  From yesterday:

Even though nobody here celebrates Thanksgiving, I'm still trying to celebrate its essence. Which basically means focusing on things I'm thankful for, eating too much, and then shopping for Christmas. So far I'm not doing so hot in the areas of eating or shopping (for those of you in shock right now, take a moment to lie down). Hah. But we had a nice Bible study this morning, which did put me in a counting-my-blessings mood...especially since they had an adjoining room with some lovely women to watch Keila and the other babies, thus giving me a much needed break. It's sometimes hard to feel thankful when your 1-year-old has inexplicably been up every hour the night before.
  Anyway, things I'm grateful for:
 Keila of course. Even when she won't sleep and is happily throwing yogurt in my face at breakfast.

Yuki, for an infinite number of reasons but #1 being just that he's him. Enough said.

My family, those in Japan and in the US. I wish we could be with both sides right now!

Being able to make friends quickly here in England. We've really been accepted into the community rather quickly, which has been such a wonderful change after being pretty lonely in Japan.

All of our wonderful friends around the world: you know who you are.

Health of course, and all the other blessings we tend to take for granted if we have them.

Wasabi and Sushi. I love my little ratty cats dearly, and we're so happy to have them here with us! (Thank you, Otousan!)

 I could keep going, but seeing as Keila doesn't tend to nap for long, we'll move on to: FOOD! Was planning a nice turkey dinner since we can actually buy turkeys here at the supermarket (everyone in England eats them for Christmas I gather?) but logic unfortunately prevailed. Yuki will be working late again tonight, and a massive turkey clearly wouldn't be consumed by the 2.5 of us anyway. Maybe we'll do a turkey breast over the weekend, depending on our day trip schedule. Instead, I'm roasting some brussels sprouts with garlic, and also some parsnips with sea salt. If you've never tasted either of these vegetables, or never tasted them roasted, I highly recommend it! The first time I roasted brussels sprouts, I ate nearly the entire lot at once. Amazing! Just be sure to warn anyone around you of possible after-effects ie breath bad enough to kill a horse.
 Main course tonight will likely be tomato seafood stew; it's not really in the spirit of Thanksgiving, but in this house we like our seafood.
 As for shopping, I haven't actually started any Christmas shopping this year, besides ordering a gift for my niece and getting one small present for Keila. Yuki and I aren't exchanging gifts, since our holiday trip to Italy will be present enough. I did however, order one of Yuki's birthday presents yesterday (his birthday is tomorrow, the 25th). I'm guessing he won't actually read this blog before then, so I'll go ahead and give it away: the first 3 seasons of The Inbetweeners. In case you've never heard of this show, it's a hilarious albeit rather raunchy British comedy. We were hooked right off the bat; I can't remember the last time I've laughed so hard. Definitely worth watching if you happen across it

                                      Parnips, for those of you who've never seen one

                                    Lovely fresh brussels sprouts. I ate almost the entire batch last night. Pity on the hospital staff who had smell my breath today.

                            The Inbetweeners. H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Cotswolds: Broadway

 Yesterday we visited the town of Broadway, in the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds are a range of hills in central/west England, comprised of various small towns built of Cotswolds stone, a yellow limestone. The Cotswolds have been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, mostly because of the gorgeous natural grass and woodlands, but the villages certainly don't do anything to detract from the scenery!
  Broadway is often referred to as 'The Jewel of The Cotswolds', with many of its buildings dating back to the 16th century. Now it's a center for art and antiques, along with tourism, of course.
 The original parish, the church of St. Eadburgha, is located about a mile outside the village and dates back to the 14th century, with some elements of the original 12th century building still in place. Services are still held there on Sunday evenings at 6 p.m.
  We didn't get to explore quite as much of the town as we liked due to lack of time, but for now here are a few shots I got while it was still daylight.

                                 Broadway: The High Street

                                       Horse in a pasture just off the High Street

                                     Parish of St Eadburgha

                                       St. Eadburgha Church

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stratford Upon Avon

We had a friend in town over the weekend, so while poor Yuki was stuck working on Sunday, I got to go visit Stratford Upon Avon. In case you have no idea what's located here, think Shakespeare. As in, both his birth place and grave are there. I'll go into more details in another post, but for now here are a few pictures from our day trip. Enjoy!

                                      Entering the town

                                           Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried

                             Shakespeare's grave

                                  The River Avon

                                         Shakespeare's Birthplace

                                            Bust of the Bard

Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Halloween Candy

  Seeing as Yuki is still working like crazy and we've yet to explore very much of England, here are some more Halloween candies that I found a bit late. They're rather interesting due to just how nasty their packages are...can't say that they tasted much better either, sadly! People have been telling me that here in England, Halloween is a bit darker-themed than in the UK. More children dress up as witches, goblins, etc as opposed to princesses or Scooby Doo, so I guess the candy is supposed to be a bit more gross too? I can't say that I saw a ton of trick-or-treaters out though, so am not sure if what I've been told is really true or not?
  Here we have Spogz Squirtin Skulls and Snot Shots Bubble Gum (in Sour Tutti Fruitty Flavour). The bubble gum was in little shards of lime green and the sugary taste wore off rather quickly. The Spogz Squirtin Skulls were also chock-full of sugar and unfortunately didn't squirt any of their filling much at all when you bit into them. Bummer. I can see why they were left on the seasonal clearance rack!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Advent Calendars A La Homer Simpson and Hello Kitty

  Advent calendars seem to be pretty big here in the UK, even more so than in the US. Whereas back home I'd have to actively search to find one for the season, here they've already got secular ones plastered all over grocery store shelves and end caps. And they're the fun ones, too, ie ones that contain chocolate! The weird thing is, the first two that I came upon happened to feature: Homer Simpson and Hello Kitty. Yep, America and Japan in England. I found it a bit ironic, but maybe that's just me. The Homer one is particularly cute, seeing as it states 'D'Oh Ho Ho!'.  I did find a Bart Simpson advent calendar too, but it wasn't worth buying seeing as Homer had already found his way home the week before.
 Kitty and Homer will likely be mailed off to friends or relatives who will appreciate them much more than I will. But here are pictures of what they look like (chocolate still intact for the time being):

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Happy First Birthday, Keila!!!

           It really is hard to believe that Keila is a year old today. In some ways it seems like we've never been without here, and of course in other ways I still see her as my tiny baby girl.
  In celebration of her birthday, Yuki actually got a half day off work! On a Sunday at that. He left for the airport this afternoon, but this morning we made the most of it and besides doing the usual birthday celebrating (cake smashing, present ripping) we took a drive into the country and then around town a bit. Along with shooting about a billion pictures and videos. So this post will include a bit more about the local area, along with a bunch of birthday girl pictures.
  First off, Keila's progress in the past month:
 1. Still not saying specific words (that I can figure out) besides Mama, Dada, and DAAA for dogs/cats/animals, although I could've sworn she said 'wawa' for her sippy cup the other night. We'll see if she does it again. Oh, and she also does this hilarious stunt by sticking her finger in her mouth while vocalizing. It sort of sounds like 'Ahh Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba Baaa' and she'll do it if you ask her to. I'll have to upload a video of it since it's obviously much better in person than by my description.
 2. Keila now has 10 teeth with possibly another to follow soon, and her middle top 2 came in fully before Halloween, much to my disappointment. I was really looking forward to working the whole 'fanged baby' look on the 31st!
 3. Sleep has taken a major landslide BACKWARDS, likely due to all the changes we've been through in the past month. Plus, her crib is somewhere in the south Pacific at the moment, so YOU try getting a baby to go to sleep on her own when she can just crawl off her mat and scratch and howl at the bedroom door like a sad little puppy. Not happening. Guess we'll start work on that again whenever said crib makes an appearance.
 4. Still not walking, although she can now take steps along the couch or whatever else she's holding on to at the time. I think given the proper incentive she really would take a few steps, but so far it's way too easy to crawl everywhere.
 5. Keila has made great progress in terms of eating more 'big people' food. Or should I say, I'VE made great progress. Finally realized that she simply wanted to do everything herself, and and soon as I gave up on the spoon and let her have at it, she's made leaps and bounds in the eating department. Any texture is fine, although she still prefers smooth if it does come in on a spoon. Pears are a favorite, but so are broccoli bits, cauliflower,pieces of baked turkey meatballs, plain Greek yogurt, you name it! She's also started using her baby spoon a bit, but it's more miss than hit for the time being. Mealtimes now take at least an hour, but it's great to see her having so much fun. Now if we just had a dog to clean up the floor. On a more sober note, Keila broke out in hives after eating some potatoes with sesame oil on them, so it looks like sesame may be on the no-no list along with bananas now. =( I've got an appointment this week to see about getting some patch testing done, however.
 6. Keila still loves clapping her hands, but now we've gotten high 5's down, and sometimes she'll even raise her hands (although this tends to get confused with 'clap your hands'). In the bath, she's discovered the magic of baby cannonballs: she'll grasp the edges of the baby tub, lift herself to standing, and then slam her bottom back into the water. Loads of entertainment!
 7. I'm actually not sure how much she weighs at the moment, but I think it's got to be over 10 kilos? She's still riding in the Baby Bjorn but I'm starting to feel like a really slow turtle on our daily walks, plus 2 strangers in one day last week stopped and asked me how I could walk with such a big girlstrapped on. Definitely time to start using the stroller (or 'push-car', as they say here) more.

   Here's a link to Keila's birthday pictures, seeing as there were too many to post on here: Click HERE for Keila's birthday pictures.

   I will put up a few pictures from our morning drive, however. We first went out of town to a little village called Earl's Common. Honestly, we probably never would've ventured out that way or even found this place if we didn't have GPS and an address for the cattery that's going to be taking care of Wasabi and Sushi whenever we're away. I'm glad we did come across it though, as it was a beautiful drive into a quaint little village. We passed some women out riding horses on the road there, along with a pheasant! And of course your usual bunch of assorted cows, sheep, pigs, and centuries old churches. I love the English countryside!
  After stopping by the cattery, we made a quick drive through downtown Worcester again before heading home to let Keila open her presents. Quite a big day for the birthday girl, all in all!

                                  Worcester Cathedral from the flip side

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tesco Aisle 29: East Meets West...And Gets Destroyed

   One thing I've already learned about the UK's supermarkets is that they somehow have more ready-made meals than the ones in the US. The prepared food aisles here are rather amazing...they tend to entice and also make me turn up my nose at the same time, for various reasons such as the huge waste of plastic, the fact that they're usually pretty unhealthy, etc . Anyway, I made the rather stupid mistake of picking up some store-made sushi at our local Tesco yesterday evening....perhaps my logic was temporarily thrown by a craving for some good fish, who knows. Whatever the case, one would think that by now I'd know better than to purchase a Western-made (STORE-MADE) claim at 'sushi'. Sushi it might have been, but in name only. The rice was quite hard and falling apart, and the 'fish' definitely tasted fishy, huge no-no. Plus one of the little rolls actually had red pepper in it. ??? Poor Yuki ate the slice of smoked salmon and flat-out refused to touch anything else, not that I blame him! 2 weeks out of Japan and I'm already missing real seafood. There's talk of a trip to London and a sushi bar whenever the man of the house actually gets a weekend off work. Until then, we'll stick to my cooking!

                                 Pretty sure a small child could've rolled better rolls than these...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Worcester and Beyond

Here's the new blog for our new country! I figured that the name Tea Time would encompass most of what I'll be talking about: food and fun. Because what else is a tea time but relaxation and eating, right? Plus the title seems to quite nicely cover the transition from Japan to the UK (one country has lovely green tea, while the other has the rather-interesting milk tea). Still getting used to having to remind people that I don't want milk in my tea!
In the 2 weeks that we've been here, we've already made quite a few new friends and joined some mom ('mUm') and baby groups. Now if we could just get Yuki to return from work before 11 pm or midnight every evening, it'd be great.
We've only made it downtown once so far, seeing as I've been too busy to even figure out the bus schedule, but perhaps Keila and I will go again this weekend. For now, here are a few pictures from around our neighborhood and Worcester. More to follow soon!

                                                        Worcester Cathedral

                                     Heading towards the high street


                                       City hall, perhaps? Will have to check next time we're on the high street

                                       Lovely cottages a few block from our place