Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Geniuses at JibJab!

These are still just the most brilliant things! I know it's not even December but I had some free time tonight and thought I'd find out if they had anything new for 2009. Pure genius, this is.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Whole Foods saves Thanksgiving!

Matt has always been the more sensible of the two of us, so a few weeks ago when I asked him if I should "do Thanksgiving", he replied that he thought we had enough on our plate without a huge meal involving hours of preparation. He was right, of course, but yesterday morning I woke up with not an iota of a plan for how we would mark the 3rd of the 3 American holidays this year. Fortunately, Whole Foods on High Street Kensington was prepared for the onslaught of the expats (ones who probably make a lot more money than I do), so when Blake and I turned up there yesterday mid-afternoon, we were greeted by a man giving samples of pumpkin pie. I heard him explain to someone who had obviously never tried it before that it was an "acquired taste". They had stacks of pies - the normal-sized pies were fairly pricey at £8.99, and I didn't really think that Matt even likes it, so I managed to buy a 3" one - basically that's about two slices - for a mere £2.59...bargain! I then wandered over to the deli counter, where I got some slices of herb-roasted turkey breast, some sweet potato puree, a tub of cranberry relish, and gravy. Back at home, I mashed some potatoes, boiled some green beans, and baked some stuffing, and with just a few minutes in the microwave for everything else - Thanksgiving dinner was served (using our wedding china and silver which usually make 1-2 appearances a year)! Blake should have been in bed but instead dined with us; I can say with a great deal of certainty that cranberry sauce, suede chair covers, and a 22-month-old really do not mix very well. Still it was fun and important to celebrate the occasion, and we said our thanks for all the many things for which we are grateful: loving and wonderful families and friends, a roof over our heads, jobs, our beautiful son. Blake did not vocalize his thanks but he would have probably replied that he was thankful for "jam, Daisy Do, and bottles", which are the three things he asks for the most these days.

He also now has an interesting thing going on with dishcloths (tea towels for British readers), where he takes them out of the kitchen and lines them up on various areas of the floor or on his ride-on race car. We are really not sure what the background or motivation is. If you have seen this behavior please do let us know.

For now I'm thankful for the weekend, and for not having a fridge stuffed full of leftovers and a minimal mess to clean up last night. Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!

This shot was about a minute into the meal and you can see that Blake did not care much about the "presentation" of the food for the photo...

This took me under an hour to "make"!

Fair-eyed family with red-eye issues...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kensal Rise's The Diner: His and hers reviews

Two Kensal Rise locals lunched on Thursday at The Diner on the corner of Chamberlayne Road. Here are their thoughts on the lunch.
Hers: I was craving some American fare so instead of going home after the park, I suggested lunch at The Diner. I thought there might be enough distractions in the form of the area in the back which is fitted with lots of soft books, toys, etc. Unfortunately when we got there I noticed an annoying local woman was there with her equally annoying child, so instead I just opted for a booth nearer to the front. From the beginning, my "date" acted like a complete Neanderthal - he kept standing on the booth bench, kept trying to chew the edge of the wall between us and the next booth, and at one point almost dropped a bottle of Heinz 57 to the floor. The service was snail-paced as usual and I was worried I wasn't going to make it through the lunch what with having to distract B* constantly. I mean, had he never been to a restaurant before or something?! Fortunately when the food arrived things looked up. Some of the caveman-like behavior continued, though, as when B tried to spear an entire sausage on his fork, or when he dropped a french fry, and (I almost couldn't look) went to retrieve it under the table. He nearly grabbed my burger out of my hand but looked totally put out when I went to eat some of his french fries. I kept thinking, Who raised this guy?! He flirted shamelessly with the waitress, dancing to some Motown song which made both of them giggle. Finally, we had both finished eating and mercifully the bill arrived. As expected, he made no move to help pay his share, so I ended picking up the meal for us both. I don't think I'll be returning there with him any time soon. My burger was fantastic though!

His: I would have been happy with a nap in my stroller followed by beans on toast back at my place, but she insisted on going to The Diner. Rather than the nice area in the back she picked a strange booth at the front where the only thing to do was to peer over at the people in the next booth who appeared to be having a very good time. Evidently I was being rude by doing this, but I don't think they minded. I wish I could comment on the menu although M* was so controlling that she didn't even let me look at it and just ordered for me. Fortunately what she did order was pretty tasty: a really good sausage, some french fries and green beans. I wanted to have a bite of her burger but she clearly wasn't into sharing, although seconds later she contradicted herself by grabbing a huge handful of MY fries. I went to show her a trick I'd learned with a straw and my glass of orange juice but I got told off for being childish. Honestly, it felt like I was out with my mother or something. The waitress was a dead ringer for Upsy Daisy from ItNG, so I was glad when she kept coming back to our table to do little things. Since I felt it was M's idea to go out to lunch, I let her pick up the bill. She's got a job, so I know she can afford it. The best thing about the lunch was definitely the ketchup.

*Names have been shortened

And she's here!

Not half an hour after my last posting, we got word that our niece Maya was born today at 1:46 - congratulations, Tom, Lykke and Emma on your new daughter and sister!

Watch out Brangelina... comes MommyDaddy! Although Blake does know the difference between Matt and me, he has taken to super-efficiency when asking for something, usually shouting at us not as individuals, but as one being - "MommyDaddy"! We can't tell if he just doesn't know which he's going to say first and then they come out all at once or what.
He has been pretty funny lately, a bit happier since he got moved up in his nursery from the baby room to the toddler room which he likes a lot more. Matt has done him some favors by creating a dvd of In the Night Garden episodes so that we don't always watch the same ones. We are waiting to hear news from Tom and Lykke about our new niece, who is due on Saturday! Other than that, it seems like a pretty normal week now with nothing much to report. Hope everyone is well...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Russ and Caroline are parents!

Caroline gave birth today to a boy, who is "beautiful" according to his proud papa. Previously known as "Danger", the little chap is actually named Jack Lucas. Congratulations, and welcome to the exciting, exhausting, never-boring world of parenthood!

Remember, remember

Thursday was Guy Fawkes' Night, or Bonfire Night, in the UK. Guy was the guy who plotted to blow up Parliament back in 1605, and his name lives on in fireworks displays around the UK on November 5th.

We headed over with Anna and Chris to Roundwood Park, where Brent Council was putting on a big display. Blake was very excited about the adventure (and even more excited about seeing Anna-"Anna, Anna, Anna") but unfortunately when the action started, he was not happy about the loudness, the brightness, the entirety of it! He and I had to retreat toward the park exit to preserve his delicate senses. Hopefully next year he will like them more. I took a few bad shots of the fireworks but was a bit distracted to try to manage anything better than I did.

Here are also a few of Blake enjoying looking at photos on the computer this weekend. Sweetness.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Dances with Lyons announces UK expansion plans

London (Blogwire) - Dances with Lyons, the international blog which charts the trials, joys and [sometimes] everyday goings-on of a London family, today announced plans to add a junior member of staff to its London-based team in 2010. The name - and in fact the gender - of the new staffer will not be announced until the addition is complete, sometime in early April, a DwL insider revealed.

"We are extremely excited about expanding the team," conveyed DwL's Managing Editor and Chief Correspondent, "although we recognize that there will be challenges ahead. We've seen that when we have junior members join us, it is an around-the-clock job that leaves everyone feeling pretty drained. The learning curve for everyone is very steep, but we hope to have learned some valuable lessons from when we started up DwL back in February 2008. We have the good fortune of knowing that some excellent advisors are just a phone call away."

The addition will result in a promotion for DwL's current Junior Correspondent, Blake Lyons, which the management team hopes will mean an increased influence on the blog's content. "The research we've performed among our reader base has shown us that Blake's contributions to our content have a significant effect on site hits and reader loyalty. We hope that in his role as Senior Correspondent this will continue to be the case, and that he can also play a mentoring role to the new junior staffer. "

Other changes include an increased focus on managing costs and a potential reduction in Travel and Expenses. "If our proposed move to a larger site in SE London goes through, we'll be grateful for the additional space but more mindful of our outgoings." Fortunately Jr Correspondent Lyons has shown a love of baked beans, renowned for their exceptional value for money. As well, DwL will continue to rely on its supply of retail children's clothing from the Foothills region of North Carolina. "Having shrewd suppliers around the globe makes life a lot easier in terms of managing our operations."

"It has been an extremely hectic several months for everyone on the team, but this gives us so much to look forward to in 2010. No doubt the next few months will go very quickly and we'll be welcoming the new member in no time. We're excited, but just hope we'll be ready!"

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Jack-o-lantern time


There are certain holidays where it's going to be down to me to establish or keep a tradition going for the UK Lyons, namely the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and evidently, Halloween. In the midst of carving our pumpkin yesterday, Matt proclaimed Halloween his "least favourite" holiday, because of kids "basically dressing up and then going out and begging." Hmmm.
It appears that this distaste for costumes has been passed down on his father's side to Blake, who near enough refused his specially-imported-from-the-US monkey outfit. We managed one photo with the main body of the outfit and a couple with the hat on, but it hardly takes you to the rainforest, does it?!
I was pretty proud of my pumpkin, however, initially feeling that the design for the mouth was a little complicated. Blake lucked out by being given a lollipop (first-ever!) at the local shop, and we then raided Will's parents' house for a bit of commemorative trick-or-treating before a quick get-together with Blake's friends Dinah and Eva, who were enjoying their costumes a little more than he was. I'll chalk it up to being a boy thing.
We left our curtains closed and didn't get any trick-or-treaters, so we now have an entire tub of Celebrations chocolate to enjoy (or save until Christmas, as Matt how likely is it that an entire tub of chocolate could go uneaten in the next 2 months?!). Overall, I'll give this Halloween a 5 out of 10. And next year I'm going to think of a costume that Blake won't even realize he's wearing...!