We had my sister Emily's wedding shower this weekend. Good friends, good food, good times. I forgot my camera in the car so these pictures, taken before and after, are all that I have until other's are posted on facebook. The cake is Lemon Mint Pound Cake, made by moi.
After the shower Lacy and I had some chicken fried rice from PFChangs and went to see Valentine's Day with her friend Meghan. It was... ok I guess. Then I was up most of the night with yucky stomach cramps, hello little-people-germs.
Spent Sunday in bed and on the couch, hooray for Winter Olympics interspersed with Gilmore Girls and random movies on TBS.
I usually try to keep my posts short and sweet but this one, well I have a feeling it's going to be a doozy! This is an update on the last month-and-a-half of my life... with pictures!
So, I went to Wales for Christmas. I had such a lovely time with my friend Beth and her family and our friends Frances and Alana! There was snow and ice on the ground when I arrived but it all melted before Christmas. We watched movies and read and talked and cooked and ate and went for walks and enjoyed being together. It was fantastic! This is Beth, Frances, and Alana on a walk around the estuary near Beth's house.
On Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) we went to the Gower Peninsula where we admired the beautiful South Wales coast, got caught in a rain storm, and climbed up and down cliffs. Lovely! I spent New Years with friends from Guildford and 24-7 at some cabins in the New Forest near Southampton. We shared a meal together and shared stories and sang a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne at midnight before sending a lantern off to the heavens with our hopes and dreams for 2010. Then we all went back in side and I played my first game of poker ever. Also, I won!
From Southampton I went to London to visit my lovely friend Kirstin. She got engaged over Christmas and I'm the maid of honor so we spent most of our time flipping through wedding magazines and laughing and trying on wedding dresses. (Well, Kirstin did and I took pictures.) We managed to squeeze in plenty of (mostly window) shopping and a trip to St. Paul's Cathedral. Also, we had a lovely engagement celebration dinner where I, at 27 and for the first time in my life, got drunk. (But don't tell my mom.) Not too drunk, I could still walk (slowly, in 3" heels!) and didn't have a hangover (having nursed a glass of water all night, and I don't think I forgot anything that happened. No, I remember all to well that all I could manage to do was laugh and say, "I am horribly drunk!" (Quoting the woman in the wheelchair on Notting Hill.) It started snowing while we were eating and all through our walk home and through the night. It snowed so much that the airports were closed and I couldn't get home. I didn't mind as all the alcohol and rich food had made my stomach a bit angry at me. I did finally get back to Belfast two days, an hour long taxi ride, a night in Southampton, four cancelled flights, and a bus ride from Dublin later! Ireland was so beautiful covered in snow!
After all of that I only had three and a half days left in Northern Ireland. They were filled with a party, lunches and coffees with friends, packing, farewell dinners, roommate banter, and lots of packing. Oh, also a trip to Belvior (that's pronounced beaver, don't ask me why) Forest Park and some packing. This is a view of the Belfast hills from the Park. And me, taken by Helen, watching Sam and his nephews playing in the snow. (Look at that little double chin... too much lovely holiday food!) I got back to Charlotte on January 12th. My layover in JFK was extended from 3 to 6+ hours so I managed to read the entirety of Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. Perfect sort of book for that situation! Since being home I've taken up knitting and I'm loving it! I've also learned how to drive a stick shift (aka manual transmission for you Brits). (That's three new things I've learned to do this year: play poker, knit, and drive stick. Four if you count learning how to be drunk, but we won't talk about that anymore!)
This is my tested and tried method for learning how to drive stick:
1) move to a foreign country and give your lovely car to your sister.
2) return to your country of origin when said sister is out of state at university. (Having your brother leave his (horrid) car at home while he is also out of state at university is key here.)
3) receive one lesson from your dad, equal parts helpful and bewildering.
4) clean the car.
5) do some research online and print instructions from several different "how to" websites
6) make a few CDs
7) take car, CDs, and instructions to a (mostly) empty parking lot and practice starting from a complete stop until you can do it (most of the time) without stalling. Then take a spin around the neighborhood.
8) After an hour or two, or when you feel confident, take a trip up the road to Target.
And that is how I learned to drive stick. Hand brake starts were learned in an emergency situation involving a sloped parking space. Also, renaming the car helps. Naming things aids in attachment, that's why farmers don't name animals they will later slaughter. I named the car Alphonso as it reminds me of a sleazy Italian.
I've returned to my former life of nannying and enjoying the convenience of life in the States and planning and plotting how to return to Ireland.
Been giving a lot of thought to story and how to make my life into the kind of story I want it to tell. (Inspiration on this topic having come from Don Miller's book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, The Brother's Bloom, and most recently Beth Moore's Bible study on Esther and Adri.) I found out today that the course I was interested in in Belfast is already full for the coming academic year. So the knocking continues. The big question at the minute is, do I stick with the "where" or the "what?"
So, I guess that's it.
Oh, wait, one more thing... On Tuesday I went with my sister and brother-in-law to her ultrasound appointment and we got to see baby Will! He was so cute! They (unexpectedly) did a 3D ultrasound and we got to see him waving and playing with his feet and covering his face so we couldn't get a good picture and pouting when the technician jiggled Laura's stomach so he would move his hands. Absolutely adorable!!! Can't wait to meet the little guy in real life!
So, besides the fact that I am so totally excited about this final season of LOST (especially after the premiere on Tuesday!!!), I think that really is it!