Friday, May 1, 2015

Life at the Pond

It's been a month, and unfortunately it's also been a month of radio silence, since that's apparently how long it takes BT to fix the internet wiring for our building. But before I go off on a rant, let's focus on the happy fact: It's been a month in our new home, and it's wonderful.

Not having any access to the outside world was kind of a blessing. There's been a lot to do before the space inside these walls felt like a home, and it's helped me to get out and embrace the beautiful town that I can call my own. Alton is a beautiful place. Our flat is a cozy place. And the pond is a glorious place. I already feel so affectionately for Kings Pond, which I have dubbed, "my pond," despite its obvious public location and use; and I have spent many an afternoon seated at its sides, watching the ducks, geese, and swans while indulging in a book.

 I hadn't read a book in ages, which is so unlike me, but with the lack of internet and incredible used book store just around the corner, I've been in binge mode. It's been a relief, really. I felt like life was so less hectic when I didn't have to worry about updates and emails and notifications, and I kinda liked it. It was a bit irritating to have to stand outside of coffee shops stealing wifi and trying not to look suspicious when I really needed to send an email, but it happened and we move on none the worse. Maybe for the better. Maybe it will inspire me a little to put the iPhone away more, to focus on what's around me more than what's supposed to be constantly entertaining me. And I'm hopeful that it does.

For more updates on Instagram, check out my hashtag #LifeAtThePond

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Moving Tips

You can take it from me, because I'm kind of a pro by now; tomorrow will be the 6th time I've moved in the last 8 years. I'm a pack rat, too, so these aren't going to be unrealistic tips for minimalists and men who have three drawers full of clothing and nothing else to pack.

My last move from Brooklyn, NY to the UK was by far the biggest deal of all moves I've ever made, and it was also my first time packing unassisted. All of those moves in my college days had the handy dandy help of family and friends, but in New York I didn't have those luxuries during the packing stage, and I also had a lot more to pack as a post-grad working, living human.

I've only been here for 8 months so far (Only! Lol.), but even I was surprised at how much stuff we already had - whether shipped over from the U.S., or purchased for our new flat. But I was still able to do the packing single-handedly, and here's how I kept it all together for a smooth move this time around:

1. LABEL THINGS. There's nothing worse than A) trying to unpack and not knowing which box you need, and B) unloading a moving truck/van/vehicle and not knowing which room to place boxes in. Just grab a Sharpie and label that shiz, yo. Just the word, "KITCHEN" is sufficient, or you can get super ridiculous and make inventory sheets for each box, with a corresponding numbering system. I know, I know, it makes me sound insane, but when moving abroad, you have to have an inventory for EVERY item in EVERY box you pack for customs purposes, so you'd better organize yourself from the get-go. And it's really handy when you're unpacking, too; "Oh, can you grab me the mandolin? It's in box #12." Also, the numerical inventory list system works great when you're putting things into storage, i.e., "I have to grab box # 2 because it contains the Christmas decorations."

2. PLAN AHEAD. If you know you're moving in the semi-near future, you can start packing NOW. There's no way you need to use everything you own, all the time. Extra sets of dishes, sheets, out-of-season clothing, and your DVD collection can all be boxed up (and labeled!) way in advance. It saves a lot of time and stress as the days count down to your move.

3. FILTER. Embracce this opportunity to downsize a little (or a lot). It's less that you have to pack, so look at it on the bright side! I got rid of TEN MASSIVE BAGS of clothing in my last move, and packing this time around, I still have a ton of clothing. It was hard to let go at first, but it's so liberating. Even if you have every September Issue of Vogue for the last 20 years... when was the last time you looked at any of them? Magazines are heavy. Do yourself a favor and recycle or donate to charity. You won't miss them. I promise.

4. MAKE A LIST for the morning of your move. There are some things you can't pack in advance (i.e. toiletries, refrigerated items, the cat) and you want to make sure that you can simply breeze down a checklist in the AM and be on your way. There's nothing worse than forgetting something behind. Trust me.

Have any more tips for moving? Leave them in the comments below!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

On My Plate: Week of March 15th

I haven't been that exciting this week with my eating. I haven't been in the kitchen as much while packing up to move to the new flat, so there's lots of fresh fruits and salads and lemon tea, but not my usual ton of cooking going on.

I made a big batch of yellow split peas (aka mung beans I guess?) curried up with some celery, carrots, and peas, and I've been having that with salad for my lunches. It's not very photogenic though, and kind of looks like something you'd find in a diaper (as most curries tend to do), so I didn't take any pictures of it. It's yummy and flavorful, though, and I've enjoyed it.

Here are a few other highlights:

Kiwi! I got some kiwis on sale (half price, yo!) on Monday, and I've been nomming on them since. I haven't had kiwi in ages, and it's one of my favorite fruits. So that's what I've been having as snacks and sometimes breakfasts.

Dark chocolate with hazlenuts! Oh man, this is good. It's a massive bar, too, and it was only like £1.50. It's pretty good, too, for store-brand chocolate, and it's been keeping my sweet tooth at bay this week. It's been really effective at helping me to resist the urge to bake chocolate chip cookie bars or something equally horrifically caloric.

Pret latte! I haven't been to Pret in, like, months. So a short trip into Windsor on Tuesday meant that I got to indulge in one of my favorite places to get a latte. This used to be a Friday tradition for me, since there's a Pret A Manger on like every corner in Midtown, and I kind of miss it. A lot. Not pictured here: the egg & spinach 'protein pot' I had for breakfast with it.

I brought back a classic lunch favorite this week: eggplant (aubergine) "pizza", Here's a link to the recipe - it's grain free and tastes JUST like pizza.

Lastly, this was the only time I cooked dinner this week: Pork roulade stuffed with apples, caramelized onions, garlic & rosemary. Da bomb dot com. There was a really thick, delicious sauce that had the addition of some balsamic vinegar and rosé wine, but I took the photo before adding it because, come on, that roulade is pretty.