Saturday, 31 December 2011

Closing of 2011

New Year's Eve...the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, in just a few short hours. We began this year watching television at my grandparents' house, but fortunately, this will not be the case for 2012 (well, I would not mind being at my grandparents' house, but I am glad we will not be watching TV!).

2011 has certainly been an interesting year, although there are several occasions where I wish it had been better: we all could have done without moving to Cambridgeshire in January, only to have to move again in the middle of the year to Northamptonshire (having to move really did slow things down for us). I also think I could have spent more time outside...thanks to the situation this year I spent a greater proportion of time inside than usual. On the bright side, we have able to see more of the United Kingdom this year, I have met interesting and kind new people, and we had a brilliant week in Nottingham with family during the summer. Another great event this year was starting Air Nice-to-Livelands! It has been good to share my thoughts, improve my typing, and meet new people through my blog...all at once.

I am looking forward to 2012: to begin with, there are some very important world events that I will be keeping a close eye on, although I admit I have already been following their progress for this year. There are issues that my family...and myself...have to work on in 2012, but I am sure we will deal with them accordingly.

Finally, I should also note that 2011 is the first year since 1995 that we have lived entirely in the United Kingdom.

I have said all I wanted to say for now. Have a good New Year's Eve everyone.

Friday, 30 December 2011


People add new words to their vocabulary every year. At the start of our lives, we learn simple words such as "mum" or "dad", followed by advancing to slightly more complex one-or-two syllable words, and then on to developing sentences from what we pick up in the speech of others. As we get older, while we are not still learning how to talk in the way we did when we were very young, we still continue to increase our vocabulary, and it helps us with our education and interactions with other people.

Of the new words I learnt this year, I think that "antepenultimate" is my favourite. While I have known about the word "penultimate" (meaning the second to last in a sequence, somehow the existence of the word "antepenultimate" (something that is sequentially the third from last; for example, the song "No More You" on the Sugababes' album Sweet 7 is track 10 out of 12, and is therefore the "antepenultimate track" of the record) escaped me until this year. It is one of those words that, to me, has an interesting meaning and a nice sound to it when spoken aloud. Judging by the fact I had not heard the word until this year, it is not one said often in everyday conversation or most writings, but I do look forward to times when I can utilise it.

Ironically, despite being about the word "antepenultimate", this post will not be my "antepenultimate post" for 2011! Instead, it will be my "penultimate post" for this year, and I do find that a little amusing, though perhaps not quite as amusing as I find the word "preantepenultimate" to be.

Thursday, 29 December 2011


I promised to post a picture of the smaller cheesecake once it was ready. Well, we did not make a smaller cheesecake out of the remaining batter; instead, we chose to make twelve "mini-cheesecakes". Here is a picture of them (taken inside one of our refrigerators):

A few of them did fall apart when I removed them from the pan, but rest assured that they taste great!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas and family 2011 (2)

Prior to going to bed on the 26th, Mum informed me that Dad would be up at 7:00 the next day in preparation of leaving early for Nottingham. So, you can imagine my Dad's frustration when he got up at that time, had his shower, sorted out some things in the living room, etc., only to go back upstairs and find us all still asleep! (Well, in all fairness I was half-awake.) I overheard the conversation between my parents in regards to getting up early, and had to stifle laughs when thinking about it while eating my breakfast.

We arrived in Nottingham around 10:00, and upon greeting us my grandfather was remarked how surprised he was at how early we had made it there. Nevertheless, he was very pleased to see us and he let us in. To begin with, he prepared some drinks while I had to rest (not sleeping, just sitting down) on the sofa for half an hour for my stomach to settle from the journey (I am prone to car sickness, and the roads we travelled on the way up to Nottinghamshire have an abundance of twists and turns). My grandmother soon joined us.

My grandparents did have gifts for us: I received some clothing (I had some nice new shirts), chocolates, a Kindle, a phone, and some CDs I had requested. The phone is actually second-hand, and my brother received one too, but receiving second-hand gadgets from our grandfather never bothers us, as the items he gives us are always useful (such as my Vado camera). The only thing I found bothersome about the gifts was that I wished we had given better items to our grandparents!

Rather than having a large meal in the evening, my grandparents had set the main course for lunchtime. They had prepared a ham, salad, pickled cabbage, chips, pasta, and cranberry sauce. Both of them are fantastic cooks, and the meal they prepared for the six of us was as good as the food they had prepared for the party last Christmas. The meal was so satisfying that we all decided to delay eating dessert until later on in the day.

Much of the afternoon was spent in my grandparents' living room chatting. My Dad helped sort out a problem with the sound system on my grandparents' television: while he did this we ended up watching an episode of something called Family Fortunes, and afterwards half an episode of Mork & Mindy. It was not something that had been planned on...but it worked out!

The evening meal was light...consisting of leftover turkey on buns, followed by dessert. There was a choice of mince pies, or a plum-cake with icing that one of my cousins had made by herself. Being impressed with her cake from last year, I was eager to try the one she had made for this Christmas. Unsurprisingly, it was wonderful, and I was glad it was an alternative to the mince pies!

My aunt then came over after "dinner" to say hello, although she did not stay long as my uncle would soon be back from work. Not long after she left, we said goodbye to my grandparents and headed back home; the return journey was uneventful (it is easier for me to travel as a passenger in a vehicle at night).

As far as I am concerned, the day went very well. As per usual, I am looking forward to the next time we go to Nottingham, or when family comes to visit us!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas and family 2011

We have recently returned home after a spending the day with my grandparents up in Nottingham. I will have a more informative post up tomorrow...once I have rested!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas 2011

Our Christmas was quiet and relaxed this year, certainly in contrast to the parties we had in Nottingham with relatives the previous Christmas season. We opened our presents in the morning, listened to Christmas music for most of the day, and treated ourselves to food suited to the time of the year (the cheesecake was brilliant!): this may sound uneventful and boring, but rest assured that we did have a nice time!

I took a picture of the gifts I received:

The clothing is some new sets of pyjama pants, on top of them are two bags of jelly babies, to the left is a bag containing a few bottles of soap (no, this was not a hint that I stink...I needed some more soap!), a 2012 Shakira calendar, a plastic tub of Celebrations, and four CDs (Autobiography - Ashlee Simpson, Animal + Cannibal - Kesha, the deluxe edition of Goodbye Lullaby - Avril Lavigne, and the deluxe edition of Evanescence - Evanescence). Gifts for my brother involved a similar group of items, although he had a tin of Quality Street chocolates, different music, and a different calendar. My mother received the new Christmas album by Michael Bublé plus one of his older albums, and my Dad had a new bathrobe.

Of course, we are certainly not avoiding family for the season! We are going up to Nottingham tomorrow to see our relatives then. I hope everyone has had a great time!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas

To all my regular readers and people who come across my blog, a very Merry Christmas to you! I hope everyone is having a wonderful time.

(As an aside, this is the first time in years, if ever, that I have used a computer on Christmas.)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve! I am amazed at how fast this month appears to have gone feels like just yesterday we were celebrating my 21st birthday, and we are now only a few hours away from celebrating Christmas! It will be a quiet night before Christmas, but I will be up until midnight (ha, ha...I have not had to worry about going to bed early on Christmas Eve for years now). In case I am not online tomorrow, I would like to wish every a very Merry Christmas!

Oh, and as promised, here is a picture of the chocolate cheesecake we made yesterday; the cakes made from the remaining batter are still setting. I would love to list the recipe, but it needs refining first (otherwise it makes too much):

Friday, 23 December 2011

Chocolate cheesecake

We made a chocolate cheesecake this afternoon for Christmas dessert. Its base is made out of digestives mixed with cocoa powder, and the top is made from cream cheese and milk chocolate; there was also enough of the batter for the top to make another (but smaller) cheesecake, which we will make tomorrow. I will be posting pictures of the cheesecake and the smaller cheesecake when they are ready. This is the third time we have made our own cheesecakes.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

On Kepler-22b and space travel

Over two weeks ago, it was announced that the first Earth-sized planet located within the habitable zone of a star the same type as the Sun (both are class G stars) had been discovered. Currently, it is still not known if Kepler-22b is rocky, liquid, or could be a place completely hostile to life, but even so, the discovery of a planet both similar in size to Earth and a similar distance from its star as Earth is to the Sun is fascinating and important: I have always been interested in extrasolar planets and space travel.

The only thing that does disappoint me with the discovery of thousands of planets outside the Solar System, especially the ones capable of supporting life (we may not have found them yet, but we will), is that we will not be able to visit them. If it is confirmed that Kepler-22b can support life, being 600 light-years away it would take 600 years to get there just at light-speed (technology that humanity does not possess at present). Even our closest star besides the Sun, Alpha Centauri, would take four years to get to at that speed. The Moon is the only place outside Earth that humans have been to so far, and I am enthralled by that, but saddened that we have not gone to it since the 1970s.

While humans are unlikely to be able to personally travel to extrasolar locations for the foreseeable future, at least we have plenty of places within the Solar System itself to visit long before then. Granted, I doubt I will be able to visit a base on Pluto (although I would be delighted to), but I remain optimistic, even with cuts to space programs, that in my lifetime trips into space (and possibly the Moon) will be commonplace and Mars will have been visited by humans

I strongly think that one day humanity will be able to travel to these distant places and beyond. In the meantime, I also think it is important to care for and protect our current residence in the Universe: the Earth.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Another one of my jokes (7)

A short post today, and it is a joke: I wrote this one for Christmas 2007:

"What school do people go to so they can learn to scream? At the 'Aaaaa!-cademy'."

If I had to re-write this one, I would change it from this to "At what type of school do people learn to scream? An 'Aaaaa!-cademy'."

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

"All I Want for Christmas Is You" - Mariah Carey

Since I have been listening to the radio on frequent basis, I have heard "All I Want for Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey at most if not all Christmases from then up until and including now. The song is really beautiful, and it does not ever get tiresome no matter how many times it is played over the season. It is also an original song and co-written by Carey, not something she popularized by covering.

It is such an impressive song that every year since its release in 1994 it has returned to music charts all around the world: while we have heard it both in the United States and United Kingdom, my Dad was in Germany recently and he heard it over there. In addition to hearing the original version, the "Extra-Festive" and "Superfestive!" (with Justin Bieber) have also been played on the radio here.

Here is a link to "All I Want for Christmas Is You":

The song comes from her 1994 Christmas album Merry Christmas. The Extra-Festive version is on her 2010 Christmas album Merry Christmas II You, and I think the Superfestive! version with Justin Bieber will be on the deluxe edition for next year. I have Merry Christmas but not Merry Christmas II You: I am waiting for the deluxe edition first!

Monday, 19 December 2011

The bird on the roof (2)

Not only did I hear the bird yesterday, but I have heard it today as well, and as per usual, the bird has mainly been above my room with occasional walks over my parents' part of the house. We definitely think it is a pigeon, as my mother and brother saw one fly off the roof this morning, and when the pigeon returned the noises above started up again.

We are wondering what it is doing up there: last night when listening to the bird my brother said something along the lines of "what is that pigeon doing up there? Having a party?" It certainly sounded like it was having a party from all the noise it was making (especially from what sounded like the thumping of bird feet)! The only thing I can think of is that it has or is building a nest up there, but Mum reckons it is too early for them to creating nests at the moment.

For now, it seems I can look forward to morning, evening, and nighttime pigeon activities above my room. What can I say? Whatever the pigeon is doing, I should feel flattered it chose to do it above my room!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The bird on the roof

At 6:00 yesterday evening, my brother and I were sat in my room when we heard something on the roof. We dismissed the brief noises as some light rain on the house, but then we heard the noises again, and this time we heard what sounded like claws scraping down the roof. It became clear to us that there was a bird moving about on the roof, and the most likely type of bird up there was a pigeon.

We heard the bird continue to scrabble about up there until we had to go to dinner; upon coming back up to my room after the our meal, the bird was still moving around on the roof and above my room in particular. It briefly walked over onto my parents' side of the house before coming back over to mine; the bird stopped sometime after midnight, but resumed at two in the morning for a few minutes before either stopping again or I fell asleep.

I heard the bird briefly again this morning, but it stopped. However, as I have been writing this, I can hear some activity up on the roof: I am not exactly sure what it has been up to with its rooftop antics, but it is certainly an interesting noise to listen to. Will it fly off eventually, or return each evening?

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Friday, 16 December 2011

Last year's decorations

It was a year ago tomorrow that my brother, mother, and myself were putting up decorations in my grandparents house. Our decorating of their house was the first time we had ever put up decorations in somebody elses' home: it did feel strange doing it, but we were given a lot of leeway in what we were allowed to do.

We were able to put up lights, tinsel, stickers of snowmen, bells...and even the Christmas tree (an artificial one): Everywhere except the bedrooms and bathrooms had a decoration in them, including my grandfather's office, where we got away with placing a small decorative item; and the conservatory. The kitchen looked festive with some well-placed tinsel on top of the cabinets, and the living room looked splendid with the tree and bells, but what was best was that my grandparents were pleased at what we had done and did not request or tell us to remove anything.

It certainly was an odd experience putting up decorations in a house that was not our own. This year I can look forward to seeing what decorations my grandparents have put up themselves!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Decorations pictures

For the fourth post in a row about Christmas decorations, here are two pictures that give a little insight into what we have done:

This is the smaller of the two "Christmas trees" we assembled yesterday; it was Mum who decorated this tree while my brother and I were decorating the other.

This is one of Mum's ornamental tins decorated with baubles; Mum was trying to find a way to brighten the tin up, and I was able to come up with this arrangement.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Our own decorations (again)

Day two of putting up our decorations took place today! Ironically, the larger items were far easier to put up than the smaller pieces we did yesterday. We strung up some lights in our living room and dining room, and assembled the "tree"; in fact, we were able to build two trees from the branches we had collected from our backyard. The inside of the house looks great, and ready for the season.

The only task that needs completing now is for me to put up some decorations in my room; other than that, I think the decorating is done for this year. In addition, Mum had to move the wreath from the front door to the inside of the house: unfortunately, having it up somehow prevented us from fully locking the door.

I have taken a few pictures of the trees, but when I upload an image it will be of the smaller tree. I will have it ready for tomorrow's post.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Our own decorations

We started to put up our own decorations today! Excluding the wreath, for the most part we have put up minor items such as beads, hearts, stars, ribbons, and baubles, but the house is looking a lot more "Christmasy" already with those small decorative pieces.

Interestingly enough, we have plenty of places around the house to put tinsel (while our house in Oregon was big, it was hard to line it with tinsel), but prior to us leaving the United States we sold all of it along with the Christmas items we could not bring to or would be useless in the United Kingdom (such as lights, as the voltage is different). Still, tinsel can be replaced!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Building a Christmas tree

Myself, my brother, and my mother spent some time in the backyard this afternoon collecting some branches for our Christmas tree this year, as we are going to "build" the Christmas tree from them. Sound strange? I will go into our history of a home-made Christmas tree.

For the first three years in Oregon, we purchased natural Christmas trees, and thanks to having acres of land we were able to plant them all in our yard once the Christmas season had finished (we strongly dislike the practice of throwing away a living tree after Christmas, so we were fortunate to have plenty of land for the trees). In later Christmases we had a fake Christmas tree, but in 2009, our last Christmas in the United States, we decided to do something different and make a tree from branches in our yard.

We went into the woods on our land one morning and collected a few pine and oak branches. We allowed them to dry out for a few days and made sure they were bug-free, then we brought them into the house. After finding a suitable tin to place the branches in (to ensure they could stand up without falling over), we decorated it as we would a normal Christmas tree (although it could not have too many decorations otherwise it would fall over). We even placed the gifts for that year underneath it. It did not look anything like a regular Christmas tree, but it was significantly more fun making our own tree rather than getting a fake one out of a box and subsequently setting it up.

Assembling our own Christmas tree out of branches from our yard is the plan for this year, as we had such a great time making one two years ago. The only thing we need once the branches have dried out is a container to stand them up in, but I am sure we have one somewhere.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Another one of my jokes (6)

This was a joke I wrote for Christmas 2008:

"In what California city do the people do lots of cooking in open grass spaces? Bakersfield."

You have probably noticed by now that the jokes I have posted on my blog are stated as being written at Christmas: this is because nearly all of my jokes have been for past Christmastimes...very few of my jokes were thought of during other times of the year.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Pigeon flash

A couple of days ago, there was a pigeon with its feathers fluffed perched on the fence in our backyard. The winds were so strong at the time that the pigeon likely found it difficult to fly, as it remained on the fence for the duration of the strongest winds of that day (over an hour). I decided to take a few pictures of the perched and fluffed-up pigeon, but it was not easy taking pictures through the window, and it is even harder when having to use the flash. However, I was amused by how one of the pictures turned out:

I love the position of the flash and how the pigeon was looking towards that area! While a flash shot in a window normally ruins a picture, I think in this case the image was enhanced instead.

Friday, 9 December 2011

"Barbie Girl" - Aqua

"Barbie Girl" by Aqua was a song we often heard on the Open House Party on KIFS (107.5 Kiss FM). The song is often considered annoying, but I am fond of listening to eccentric songs such as "Barbie Girl", and since the Open House Party playlist is decided by requests, evidently there are others who share that opinion! In all fairness, I was not too sure about it at first, but the song quickly grew on me (not to mention the fact it is an earworm!).

It is hard to believe "Barbie Girl" was released back in 1997. I wonder how often it gets played on the Open House Party now.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A new series

Now that the My "Recipes" series has concluded, I am currently thinking about a new series to replace it with. I have been looking at old works of mine to possibly post on the blog, but I have also been thinking of typing up some new material, such as short stories or something along those lines. I admit that I will miss critiquing my old recipes, but I will also state that I have no plans to type up new recipes.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

My "Recipes": Andrew's Fried Egg with Meat and Vegetables and Toast

The fourteenth and final episode of the  My "Recipes" series is called Andrew's Fried Egg with Meat and Vegetables and Toast:

Fried egg
Cooked Turkey

How to make it:

Fry the egg then put it on the toast. Put the turkey on the egg then put the avocado on the turkey and then put the tomatoes on and then sprinkle cheese on it.

My verdict: there is nothing wrong whatsoever with the meal is the instructions on putting the ingredients together that needs work here: to begin with, it does assume that the cook knows how to fry an egg, but I think that is a reasonable assumption in this case and I will comment no further on that part. However, the recipe states one of its ingredients as "avocado", but does not specify if the cook is supposed to put slices of avocado on the meal or to turn it into guacamole.

This also seems to be another recipe that cites "cheese" as an ingredient, but does not specify if it should be sliced, in pieces, or grated, until the the part that tells the cook how to put all the ingredients together. Finally, "Cooked Turkey" is ambiguous...does it mean a fresh turkey that has been cooked, or turkey from a packet that states it has been cooked?

Quibbles on the instructions aside, Andrew's Fried Egg with Meat and Vegetables and Toast seems a perfectly good recipe.

That is the end of the My "Recipes" series; I hope you have all found my old recipes at least interesting, or even good enough to want to try out! As I have said before, do let me know if you try any of my recipes: I am interested in knowing how they turn out for other people.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

A correction

I stated the following in my "How to drink coffee" post:

"...and to be honest, I cannot remember the last time I had a cup of tea in the place of a coffee (I do not think I have had any since we moved country)."

It is true that I have not drunk tea in the place of coffee since we moved to the United Kingdom; however, since that post I remembered that I did have a peppermint tea a few months ago, although I drank it for medicinal reasons (I was ill) not because I felt like having tea. Not that this is a big deal, but I would rather correct/address factual errors on my blog when I can.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations are now clearly noticeable in our neighbourhood: a house to the back of our place have put lights up, and our neighbours in the house opposite to ours have put out a beautiful tree next to their front door.

I think that we will be putting up decorations next week, as we need to sort out the boxes they are stored in first (Christmas boxes were some of the ones we did not bother to unpack or sort out). We normally do our decorating near the middle of the month, and I doubt we will put up anything too extravagant, though: we tend to use decorations that are simple to get out/put away, but they always look good.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to seeing what decorations appear in our neighbourhood!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

How to drink coffee

I prefer coffee to tea: water and coffee are the two types of drinks I have every day, and to be honest, I cannot remember the last time I had a cup of tea in the place of a coffee (I do not think I have had any since we moved country). Oddly enough, I do have an interesting way to how I drink coffee; and no, I do not mean I pour it in my ears or anything like that.

I rarely drink hot coffee, mainly for being hard to drink but also because I do not think it is as flavourful as cooled-down coffee. To me, a good cup of coffee is one that has been cooling down (for a good period of time, not just cool enough to drink)...or is even cold: for whatever reason, doing this seems to improve the flavour (at least for me anyway). However, it has to originally be hot first: making a coffee using cold or lukewarm water has always given it a horrible taste whenever I have drank it.

I am not alone in preferring to drink a heavily cooled down cup of coffee: my grandfather and even one of my cousins also do this, although I am not sure if their reasons for drinking coffee this way are the same as mine. My grandfather has been known to make a coffee, go out for a few hours, and then drink it when he comes back home. The longest I have left a coffee was overnight, and subsequently drank it when it was very cold in the morning (and before breakfast at that): even though it was like it had been in the fridge, it tasted much better than a coffee made with cold water!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

"Firework" - Katy Perry, a piano cover

I love this piano cover of Katy Perry's "Firework" by Youtube user Yew2533; in addition to being played well, it has a cheerful feel to it:

A great rendition!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Another one of my jokes (5)

A joke I wrote for Christmas 2007:

"What are PC’s for female sheep called? Comp-ewe-ters."

I wrote it after I learnt that "ewe" is pronounced "you" not "eee-weee".

Thursday, 1 December 2011


In a game of Run Off that my brother and I played last night, we achieved the 269-269 tie in our electoral votes. We unintentionally managed to pull off a combination of states that lead to a 269-269 result, albeit with the 1990 Census the game is based on: originally, when I counted up our votes from the states we thought I had won with 272-266, but when one of my brother's states had accidentally been counted as my own (North Dakota), we discovered that the vote was tied. Here is the electoral map (my states are purple):

In the end, my brother won: we continued to role the dice and answer questions until one of us got one wrong. We got to a fourth question each when I slipped up and my brother won the game. However, a real-life 269-269 result would not be solved as simply as answering questions on game cards until a candidate answered incorrectly!

Note: the above image is not originally mine, but rather, is our modified version of Licensing is listed on that page.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The birthday dinner

On the night of my actual birthday, I had pizza for dinner...three, in fact; and as per usual, they were all homemade. I took pictures:

This pizza was a Hawaiian pizza, except that it had olives and mushrooms in addition to just ham and pineapple. It was the largest of the three.

These two were primarily cheese and broccoli pizzas, with some olives, onions, and mushrooms. I chose having cheese and broccoli pizzas for my birthday dinner because of a lyric in the Bad Lip Reading song "Morning Dew"; therefore, this is the first meal I have eaten that was inspired by a lyric (albeit one from a parody song).

I think I had a great dinner for my 21st improvement upon the burgers, fries, and eggs/beans that I chose for my dinner the preceding few birthdays. There was even plenty of pizza left over for some lunches!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

My "Recipes": Andrew's Bagels and Cheese

Episode number thirteen of  My "Recipes" is entitled Andrew's Bagels and Cheese:

1 bagel
Gouda or cheddar

Get the bagel and put 1 or 2 or more slices of cheese on it. I recommend putting one slice of Gouda on, since it is a large cheese.
Put the cheese inside the bagel!

My verdict: I have eaten a bagel with cheese before, and it is good. The recipe is supposed to be a bagel cut in half with cheese between the slices, but it does not make that clear: first it says to put the cheese on the bagel, then it says to put it in the bagel. Now that I have clarified that little point, the meal itself is nice, even if the recipe is messy.

Finally, Gouda can come in small portions, and even if it does not, it can always be cut into smaller slices. In addition, any type of cheese can be used in this recipe, not just the two listed here.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Cakes and gifts

Three images from my birthday celebration; here are the two cakes:

The chocolate cake is on the left, and the strawberry-flavoured one on the right. Despite the amount of each cake that was eaten that day, there is still enough left of them for a couple more desserts.

 Thanks for the gifts everyone, although it was mainly my brother and myself that made the cakes!

The boxes of the digital photo frame, the pen with my name engraved on it, the Lindt chocolates, and the Thorntons chocolates. I received a box of Ferrero Rochers last year...and I am grateful to get two boxes of fine chocolates for this birthday!

This is the pen with my name engraved on it. This is not a very good picture, and my name cannot be seen, but at least it shows what the pen looks like.

Thanks for the gifts everyone, although it was my brother and myself who made the cakes!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

21st birthday celebration

Much of the morning for the 26th was spent making the final preparations for my 21st birthday other words, readying all the food. Items such as the potato salad and garlic bread (cold garlic bread is better off as leftovers, not as part of the main meal) could only be prepared on the day of the event. Fortunately, there was not any housework to do, as it had all been done over the last couple of days.

Around midday, my aunt, two younger cousins, my oldest cousin, and my grandmother all arrived to attend the celebration (they were all the ones we visited in Nottingham during August: my uncle was unable to come due to his work schedule, and my grandfather had house maintenance to oversee). We had invited other family members, but they had other reasons that they could not come (two are currently overseas).

Prior to eating, we spent time showing them around our house (none of them had visited it until yesterday), and then talking and looking at pictures. We ate at about 2:00 after all the food was laid out on the dining room table, and what a feast my mother had prepared! There were sausages, chicken, potato salad, lettuce salad, coleslaw, tomatoes, guacamole, and garlic bread...with plenty for everyone to have some of each. On top of all that were two cakes that we made a few days ago, one chocolate and one strawberry.

After eating everyone just sat and talked, waiting for the first course to settle before going on to dessert. Upon cake-time, a "2" candle was put in the strawberry cake and "1" candle was put in the chocolate one, then everybody sang Happy Birthday to me, and I blew out the candles. We all had a piece of both cakes, and they were indeed delicious. Dad entertained everyone with a few Bad Lip Reading videos as we had dessert.

I opened up my gifts after dessert. From my aunt, uncle, and cousins I received a pen with my name engraved on it and a box of Thorntons chocolates; and from my grandparents I received a digital photo frame and a box of Lindt chocolates. I have a small pen collection, so the pen with my name on it will be among my more "special" pens; and my grandparents have digital photo frames at their house, so it is good to have my own. As for the chocolates...well, I love chocolate! I thanked my family members for the presents.

Sometime around 4:30, the celebration came to an end when our relatives had to leave. They had about an hour's trip to Nottingham, possibly a bit more due to the fact it was dark outside by then. Prior to their departure, we ensured that they took home a piece of both cakes each for my grandfather and uncle to have. Once they left, we spend the rest of the evening relaxing, and we had a small meal during this time.

We all had a good time with my 21st birthday celebration. It may have been a less intense 21st birthday party than a lot of people have, but it was still a fun event. Tomorrow I shall upload the pictures of the cakes and my gifts.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Note about today

It has been a good day...the celebration went well! I will type up the day here tomorrow: for now, we are all relaxing after an exciting day.

Friday, 25 November 2011


We have spent much of today tidying up the house and cooking food, for tomorrow is the celebration of my 21st birthday. It is not the actual date of my birthday, but rather, the 26th was chosen as a good day to hold the celebration on so some relatives of mine could attend. Depending on how much time I have tomorrow, I will type of some of the events of the day, but if not, I will put up another short post and type it up the day after.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

All because we moved to the United Kingdom last year does not mean I have stopped celebrating Thanksgiving. If anything, one of the things I am thankful for is that my time in the United States and the United Kingdom has allowed me to be able to celebrate an expanded variety of occasions, and Thanksgiving itself is one of them. There were a few times in the United States where our friends took part in a British event with us, and I am looking forward to the day when we can do a similar thing in celebrating American events with people over here.

So what am I thankful for this year? Well, I am always thankful that my parents, brother, and myself are healthy; and that we all care for and about each other. I am thankful for being able to spend time with relatives both this year and last; and the Nottingham trip from three months ago is something I will not ever forget.

I am thankful that we left my grandparents' house at the beginning of the year to move to Cambridgeshire, and although the stay in Cambridgeshire was shorter than the time we spent living at my grandparents', I am thankful that we at least had the chance to experience that county. I am thankful that we have moved to Northamptonshire, and that our moves to both Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire went smoothly for the most part.

Finally, I am thankful for the new people I have met since I started this blog, and also thankful for my friend who convinced me to start my blog. You have all been great and I hope to meet more people, both in real-life and online.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A bridge in Ely

My Dad read the following article last night, and asked if any of us recognised the bridge subject in the article and shown in the pictures:

It was the bridge that we drove under several times when we lived in Cambridgeshire, as it is located just outside Ely. We also occasionally crossed around it, and there is a brief side lane for vehicles higher than 9 feet/2.7 metres.

When we moved to Cambridgeshire, we rented a large van so we could personally ship all our belongings to our new house. On the way back to Nottinghamshire that evening (it took two trips to move everything, and it could not all be done in one day), the route we went along took us on the road where the aforementioned bridge is located: a mile or two from that bridge, we drove under another bridge, and it had height warnings, although they were higher than 2.7 metres...standards that the van easily met.

At that point, Dad tried to remember the exact height of the van (I think it was a little over 3 metres in height). We did see the warning signs to the bridge in Ely, and upon reaching it, we slowed down then took the small side lane to dodge the bridge. Dad was still unsure of the van's height, but he knew it was definitely taller than 2.7 metres, and when we measured that van later we were glad he made the decision to turn off (although he was planning to use that road before we even made it to the bridge).

It was certainly interesting to read about somebody causing an incident that we were smart enough to avoid, and according to the article, nine vehicles exceeding the bridge's height restrictions have crashed into its underside this year. This is astounding, as the side lane to dodge the bridge is not exactly hard to miss.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


I am surprised by the amount of fog we have had here over the past week: the neighbourhood has been shrouded in fog nearly every morning and during some of the evenings. It has been years since I have seen fog this thick...any fog we had in Nottinghamshire and Cambridgeshire dissipated quickly, and was not heavy to begin with.

For the most part, the fog has not really been a problem, although it has been a minor nuisance when Dad goes to work each morning. Not when it comes to driving through it (as far as I am aware of anyway), but rather he has to use a towel to dry the mirrors and windscreen every morning.

Even so, the weather at this point is milder for us than it was this time last year: when we were still living in Nottinghamshire it was much, much colder and I think it was snowing by now. I just looked out my window, and there does not appear to be any fog outside at the moment, but as I said above, it has been more common during the mornings. It would be good to have a foggy afternoon, as I would not mind taking a walk through it.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Smudge and the Fudge Grudge

We used to have two cats, and one of them was named Smudge. A very long time ago I wrote a rhyme about him, and I thought it would be good to share it here:

My cat Smudge,
Always has a grudge,
Against a little bit of fudge.
He said:
"Fudge is made out of sludge,
So do not get me to budge.
For a little bit of fudge".

I cannot remember how old I was when I wrote this.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

My "Recipes": Andrew’s Turkey and Cheese

The twelfth episode of My "Recipes" is Andrew's Turkey and Cheese:

A packet of cooked turkey

Cook one side of the bread until goldish. 
After cooking on side of the bread put one slice of turkey on the non-cooked side of the bread. Then sprinkle cheese on the turkey.
Cook until cheese is melted.

My verdict: a relatively simple and tasty recipe. To nitpick, "goldish" should be "golden", "cooking on" should be "cooking one", and "non-cooked" should be "uncooked"; in addition, the ingredients do not specify what type of cheese yet the instructions state that the cheese should be sprinkled (implying that grated cheese should be used, though slices of cheese would work as well as grated here). Other than a few wording issues, I have no problems with this recipe.

Saturday, 19 November 2011


It occurred to me that I have not yet mentioned here that I am on Twitter. I do not use it a lot, and when I do it is often to tweet about a blog post, but if you are interested in following me over there I can be found at!/Airtoliveland.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Another one of my jokes (4)

Only have time for a joke for today's post; this one was written for Christmas 2009:

"In the final Harry Potter book, why was Potter looking for Avon? He was searching for the Deathly Darrows."

This is one of my more obscure-humoured jokes: to understand it, you not only have to have read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but you also have to have watched a 1970s television show entitled Blake's 7. In that show, there was a character called "Avon", and he was played by the actor Paul Darrow. I have rarely used this joke outside Christmas 2009 because of its obscurity, but I think it is a good one just needs to be told in the right circumstances.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Oregon move

The last two posts have been move-related, and it seems I am now going to post another one! Anyway, it is now eleven years to the date that my family and I moved from Patterson, California to Medford, Oregon. I can remember us being excited about getting to see a new state (at that point, my brother and I had only lived in California and visited Nevada), although we were also saddened about leaving California, a place that had been our home for close to five years.

It was sunny and clear along the stretch of the I-5 from the Modesto area all the way up to the Rogue Valley. We had set off early, before 9:00am, and made it to Medford probably about around 5:00 in the evening, as I remember it being close to sunset when we arrived. We encountered few if any delays on our way up, and we did not rush the journey at all. It was exciting to see the "Welcome to Oregon" sign, and it was at that point that we knew the drive up was almost over: within a day we had gone from living in a valley and having mountain ranges on either side of us to actually living in the mountains...I will not forget the first time we saw our house.

To think how long ago that all happened: we did not expect that ten years on from that day we would then be getting used to living in a new country again (well, technically the old country, but the sheer amount of time we lived in the United States, plus the fact my brother and I grew up there, makes the United Kingdom seem like a totally different country). No, I am not complaining here...merely reflecting on the past and thinking about what has changed and what is still the same from back then.

Coincidentally, we met an American today, though she was not from Oregon (Tennessee, in fact). We have actually met several Americans since being back in the United Kingdom, but I did find it interesting to meet one on the anniversary of our Oregon move.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Yet more boxes

I really did think that we would not have to sort out any more boxes any time soon. We unpacked and re-packed numerous boxes when we moved to Northamptonshire, and I thought we got the job done with sorting them out and unpacking what we needed/could store around the house. Then, for a significant amount of this afternoon, we had to unpack/repack a few boxes with our books in.

In all fairness, I should not complain: I am actually glad to have some more books unpacked as the majority of them are still in boxes. Even so, box sorting is a task I thought we had finished ages ago!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Buying the house

It was about eleven years ago when we purchased our house in Oregon. I remember the moment Mum told my brother and I that we had bought the house and that our move to a new state was imminent (neither my brother or I had been to Oregon at that point). It is hard to believe how long ago the move from California to Oregon seems like it was yesterday.

Monday, 14 November 2011

A picture of "The City"

Back in June, I wrote about "The City", a city we built out of rocks, bricks, metals, and other materials, and was situated at the front of our house in Oregon for a time. Here is a picture of it:

This was the city in its earlier days: the metal poles and some of the more broken bricks were removed not long after this image was taken. The tallest tower on the left was moved to where the long metal pole in the middle is located in the picture; in addition to being moved it was subsequently "upgraded", and at one point stood at over four feet in height. Various other buildings were also added, but unfortunately, the only pictures we have of the city in its later days are all on photographic paper and have not yet been scanned for digital storage.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

"Cameo Lover" - Kimbra

While on YouTube a few days ago, a song called "Cameo Lover" by a New Zealand artist named Kimbra was in the recommendations of a video I was watching. I decided to click on the link and listen to her song.

Once "Cameo Lover" had finished, I was glad I had come across a link to the song: I liked the style of the music and Kimbra's voice, and a couple of other songs of hers that I listened to were also good. The only problem I found was that her debut album, Vows, does not appear to have been released here in the United Kingdom yet, but that may change one day.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

My "Recipes": Andrew’s Salad

Episode eleven of My "Recipes" is entitled Andrew's Salad. It is not to be confused with the earlier recipe, Andrew's Very Health Salad.

1 bag of baby carrots (small carrots!)
5 sticks of celery
3 tomatoes
1 bag of broccoli
1 onion
1 big bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch not low fat or no fat
5 tsp. of garlic salt

How to make it:

Pour ½ of the bags of vegetables in the bowl and chop all the other vegetables up,
In fact chop all the vegetables up!
Then add ½ of the ranch then add the garlic salt.
Garlic salt and ranch is optional.

My verdict: a salad made up of carrots, celery, tomato, broccoli, and an onion (I am guessing a bulb onion here, rather than spring onions) would certainly be different to the regular lettuce salads. This recipe seems okay, although any type of salad dressing could be used, rather than a particular brand.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Skype fun

My Dad installed Skype on his computer earlier so he could test a new webcam. I decided to have a little bit of fun when he started a video call to my account.

He was talking, commenting how the quality looked good from his camera and was asking how it looked from mine when Oregon Trail II music started playing from my end of the call. He was surprised by this, and then I came down to listen to how the tunes sounded through Skype. We listened to Oregon Trail II tunes over Skype for about five minutes.

Now that I think about it, this does not actually sound very funny when typed up, but I can assure you that this was surprisingly hilarious while it happened (it was the whole scenario of listening to Oregon Trail II through Skype that made us laugh, as it was so bizarre).

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The orangutan and the boy

I came across the following article this morning, and thought it was a gentle, light-hearted piece:

Do not worry, the boy was behind the glass, and there was no danger to either him or the orangutan. It is just a fun little article.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Amusing comments

I nearly always laugh whenever I come across an article on pop culture, such as something about a band splitting up/coming back together, what the number one song of the week is, the latest celebrity, or Justin Bieber. I am not normally laughing at the contents of the article, rather, I am laughing at some of the comments the article often comes with.

Unless they contain attacks, I am amused with the "who cares?" comments: I find it downright hilarious when the first five comments on a pop culture article are all "who cares about this? I don't!", and the sixth commenter points out to the rest that they must have cared enough to say they do not care about the topic of the article. At the same time, I do wonder if these people honestly do not realise what they have posted, or if posting trolling comments is something they find fun. Still, they do provide a minor source of amusement.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The mystery kit

My brother and I used to have a large wooden clothes drawer. However, rather than just being a place to store a large amount of our clothes, it doubled as a piece of furniture I decorated with stickers that came in the mail  (yes, I really did used to have a place to put stickers). The front top drawer and one of the piece of furniture's sides were both covered in stickers; neatly, of course, as I wanted the decorations to at least look good.

Sometime back in either 2001 or 2002, a letter arrived in the mail informing us that we may have won a certain type of mystery kit, aimed at kids 10+. The kit was free, but the type of mystery kit we would receive depended on what type of "key" the letter contained: if it had a sticker showing a silver key, it would be a basic kit; but if it was a sticker with a gold key on it, we would receive comprehensive mystery kit (I cannot remember what the contents in either kit were, it has been a long time since then). Once either key had been mailed back, you would then receive the kit. I should note here that the letter was not had just come with something else we were subscribed to at the time.

With the sticker of the gold key in the letter, we had won a comprehensive mystery kit! It was not really something we needed, but it was suited for people of my age at that time, and it could have been a lot of fun. So...what did I decide to do instead?

That is right! I threw the chance away by placing the sticker with the golden key, along with a few other stickers that came in the letter, on our clothes drawer. Rather than taking the opportunity to win a neat new item, I decided to add to my sticker collection.

It the grand scheme of things, not getting a mystery kit was not that big of a deal, but when I look back upon the whole occasion I still think I was a chump for not mailing back the gold key sticker. On the bright side, the sticker lasted on the clothes drawer until sometime in 2009 when Mum had to remove all my stickers so the furniture could be sold.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Another one of my jokes (3)

Only have enough time for a joke for today's post. This one was written for Christmas 2007:

"How does Harry Potter get out of paying bills? By going to the Order of the Fee-nix."