Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Finally, after weeks of skeletons, witches, gravestones and spiders in the stores, Halloween is here. Emma went off "trick-or-treating" with her friends, and Rob decided he was too old to do likewise this year. This is the first year we have not had to go door-to-door with them. We stayed at home with a couple of glasses of wine.

Emma dressed as a witch (at least it didn't matter that she hadn't combed her hair!). It is unusually warm today, its 7pm and we have the patio doors open to let some air in. It is also very windy, and we suspect that Emma will have lost her pointy hat by the time she returns.

Never mind the ghosts and ghouls, the really scary thing is that tomorrow the stores will have the Halloween costumes on a sale rack, and the Christmas decorations will have been brought to the front.

Opposites attract?

People always point out how different men and women are in their attitude to life, work, love, children.....pretty much anything really. Its the lttle differences that I find amusing.

Take last week for example. Our electric (tea) kettle blew a fuse or something and refused to work. We have had it for a few years now and I was getting kind of tired of it, so I thought to myself "never mind, I can go look for something nice as a replacement on the weekend, maybe a shiny stainless steel kettle, or one where the water indicator changes from blue to red as the water heats up, or I could go wild and get a bright orange one" (such is the excitement of my life).

Imagine my disappointment when I got back from work on Friday, only to see a new kettle delivered from Amazon. It was exactly the same as the old one. My practical hubbie's mind must've just thought "kettle knackered, new kettle, Amazon". Thats my weekend shot to pieces...

Friday, October 30, 2009


One of the unpleasant things about this time of year is the fact that it gets dark so early. Its pitch black by 6pm, and it almost feels as if its the end of the day once the curtains are closed. This doesn't bother me so much during the week - I'm usually asleep on the sofa not long after dinner. But on a Friday I am not ready to end my day quite so soon.

One of the things that help me extend my Friday is the ability to shop anytime of the night or day. After a hard week at work, I really didn't feel like cooking tonight. So we went to IHOP (International House of Pancakes) for dinner, then spent a pleasant few hours shopping. We went to Borders and browsed at the books while listening to a guy playing the guitar and singing Warren Zevon "Werewolves of London". We went to the Home Depot and looked at the Christmas trees and ornaments, then we finished up in Target looking at just about everything from cat food to musical instruments. Back home by 9pm in time for a beer and a movie. Not anything that remarkable, except that it was nice not to feel rushed, or having to look at my watch to see if the store was waiting to close up. Very relaxing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What a difference a year makes!

Today, while rummaging through my purse for change to buy a cup of tea in work, I came across a strange coin. I initially thought it was a foreign coin that someone had passed off to me, but on closer inspection realized it said United States of America on it, 5 cents and was dated 1912. I decided to look it up online. I saw that it was a Liberty-V nickel, and that the 1913 mint was worth $2 million to $2.5 million!! OMG!!! If the 1913 is worth that much then what about the 1912!! Unfortunately upon looking further it transpired that the 1913 was worth that much because there were only 5 of them minted and distributed. The 1912 version is worth around 75 cents. Back to work tomorrow I guess :-(

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Recession? What recession?

We are supposedly in the middle of "bad times", a recession. Nobody has any money, everyone is miserable and wearing muted shades of grey, its raining everyday...

As far as I can tell there is no recession in the professional service industry, electricians, plumbers etc . Having spent the last 2 months unsuccessfully trying to get someone to come and run some gas piping from my furnace to my fireplace, I can only assume that everyone is so fed up with the recession that they are having gas fires installed so they can huddle around them in their scratchy blankets and wait for good times to return.

I am told that people are choosing to remodel rather than move because its cheaper, and that is why the service industry is booming. Its funny, when we were in a booming economy it seemed you couldn't get a plumber, electrician etc because their business was booming with people having work done on their house! The consumer can't win. A work collegue's son is a plumber and he lives in a million dollar home. I know what I would be if I had my time over.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Google Ads - The result

My test for Google Ads worked. My sidebar contains advertisements for chocolate, appliances and mortgages. That pretty much sums up my life :-)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Its all downhill from here :-(

I think I am turning into my mother. Yesterday I made Sunday lunch complete with lots of healthy veggies. Then today after work I used the leftover beef to make a cottage pie and a chilli. The only difference between us is that I can't drink as much wine as she does! (sorry mam, only joking :-)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Is this puberty?

At what point does your sweet little boy turn into a slob? One minute he's running around the house looking cute, the next minute he is lying on the sofa, laptop on his, well on his lap I guess, his socks discarded on the floor and empty candy wrappers scattered around him. Is this part of puberty? Does every mother go though this and spend their day picking up after their little angel? Please tell me that this stops at some point before they leave home?

Just leave it alone!

We have just finished watching the second series of the BBW Wales production, 'Mistresses". It was a very watchable show and focuses on the love lives of four 30-something women friends and and their involvement in an array of illicit and complex relationships. It features a 9/11 widow mother of two (Trudi), a doctor (Katie), a successful lawyer whose husband is obsessed with trying for a baby (Siobhan) and a single career girl (Jessica) who is a mistress to many. The plot had a lot of twists and turns, some humor, some sex, some was pretty good.

Then we discovered that an "American version" of the series is due to be made. Disaster! Why oh why do the US TV companies insist on taking a successful British TV show then remake it for an American audience? Do they think that Americans are unable to appreciate a show where the characters speak with a, dare I say it, British accent? Many of these remakes fail to take off in the US because the remake misses a lot of the charm or impact of the original version. Take Coupling or Men Behaving Badly as examples. By the time they had been dumbed down and sanitized (i.e. removed all possible swear words and sex references) they were a shadow of the original. Some have been successful (The Office) but as usual the US TV companies don't know when to stop; we are up to season 6 of The Office now and it's starting to lose its appeal. Other US remakes of British TV shows are Til Death do us Part (known the US as All in the family), Changing Rooms (Trading Spaces), Footballer's wives (Football wives), How clean is your house, Life on Mars, Pop Idol (American Idol), What not to wear, Who wants to be a Millionaire.

There are also some British remakes of US TV shows but this is much less common. In the UK it is not unusual to see shows with American actors and settings. Examples are Blockbuster, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Family Fortunes (Family Feud), The Apprentice, Saturday night live and Queer Eye for the straight guy.

Too much Blitzing

Its a rainy Sunday morning, so faced with the choice of writing a blog entry or cleaning up the cats vomit, I decided on the former.

This morning as I was lying in bed in that just-woke-up-but-not-really-awake stage (you know the one, your mind is active, your feet are fidgetty, but you can't open your eyes and they keep trying to follow those little transparent worms in the blackness...). Anyway, at the point where those worms turned into little gems constantly exploding and shifting position, I realized it was time to give the Bejewelled Blitz a rest, and get out a book or some needlework.

Bejeweled Pictures, Images and Photos

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Rachel!

Happy Birthday to my niece Rachel, 16 years young today.

Monday, October 12, 2009

All I want for Christmas....

One of the problems living so far away from your relatives, is dealing with birthdays and Christmas, and getting presents to people. It used to be a right pain in the neck. When we visited the UK in the summer we'd have to think about Christmas presents for everyone so we could leave them there. We'd head back to Boston weighed down with presents from relatives that seemed like housebricks wrapped in paper. The alternative was my relatives asking if we could buy presents for the kids on their behalf. I think this was worse because, not only did I have to think of presents to give the kids from us, I had to repeat it all for everyone else. And I had to wrap everything!

But times change. Now there is! Its possible for each of us to create "wishlists" containing all sorts of things that we would like from the Amazon website. Friends and relatives in the UK can select items from the wishlist to buy, and get them sent here all ready giftwrapped. The wishlist will even update and keep track of what's been bought, to eliminate the possibility of duplicate purchases. What an invention! I should've bought shares in Amazon 5 years ago!

Samsung dishwasher - a review

My new dishwasher has to be the quietest dishwasher ever. You can barely hear it. After having it for a couple of weeks I have now worked out why. Its because the damn thing isn't doing anything, thats why! Unless each piece of crockery is carefully arranged with a 2 inch gap all around it, the dishwasher cannot cope, and will leave pieces of food on everything, even if the dishes didn't have any food on them to start with!

It looks nice though......

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Google Ads - a test

The more observant will notice that I added Google Ads to the toolbar at the side of this blog. Google Ads works by using the content of your blog to select related advertisements to display in the hope that readers of the blog will be interested in the Ads and will click on them. I wrote the previous blog on refinancing to see if Google Ads will be filled up with Ads to refinance. As they used to say on "Watch with Mother" lets wait and see children....

Refinancing 101

In the UK, its possible to get a fixed rate mortgage, but they tend to be for a very short term, e.g. 3 years. Generally people get variable rate mortgages that fluctuate with the market. Here in the US its possible to get a fixed rate mortgage for any term, even 30 years, so these tend to be the favored type if you intend to stay in your house for any length of time. The good thing about the mortgage industry here is that its competitive, the mortgage companies all compete for your loan, and refinancing is big business. It is very common to refinance your loan multiple times during its lifetime, to take advantage of lower interest rates or to reduce the term of your loan as your income increases. We recently got a really good deal. We refinanced at over 2% lower than our current rate, we knocked 5 years off our mortgage term and we will be paying $200 less per month. And the best part is that it didn't cost us a dime! You just can't beat that (but if you can, then please give me a call :-)

Batten down the hatches!

Although the weather this weekend is glorious, its easy to forget just how quickly that can change. I think of this time of year as an opportunity to prepare for winter. On the weather forecast today there is a huge cold front in the middle of the country (Denver has had snow), and our heating cut in this morning. I'm not taking any chances.

So yesterday I took down the insect nets from the gazebo, pulled up some annuals, emptied some flowerpots and generally started to batten down the hatches. We have been known to have our first snowfall at the end of October, and its hard to do all this stuff with a foot of snow on the ground. But in general I'm an optimist, and I'm hopeful that, as has happened in some years, we don't see any of the white stuff until the start of the New Year. I won't bet on it though...


As Victor Meldrew would say "I don't believe it!". Tonight we met our new neighbors, a couple from Ireland and England. In chatting about our past, it was amazing that not only did we attend the same university in England (Aston), but we also lived in the same street during our time in Uni!! How unlikely is that!? Without a doubt, its a small world (but I wouldn't like to paint it).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Some days just need to end

Today has been one of those days. I spent most of the day dealing with a disgruntled customer, I received tasks via email faster than I could open my email, I left work to be greeted by the sight of my car with 6 small dents in the roof, courtesy of the overhead oak tree and its load of acorns. I drove home behind someone who obviously had an injured right foot because they certainly couldn't put it down. The only saving grace was, as we crawled around a corner we passed a police car tucked away in a driveway, which would certainly have caught me speeding if I hadn't been held up by "Brian the Snail".

I think a glass or two of wine and a bar of chocolate may be just what I need...

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Lone Star state

Just back from Texas, where I spent a few days in Richardson, just north of Dallas. I have been to this area of Texas many times, and yet all I have ever seen is multi-lane highways, lined with shopping malls, steak and/or mexican restaurants and hotels. It makes me wonder, where do people live? Does anyone actually live in Texas or do they just fly in from another state and live in a hotel for a week?

Senior moments

Last week I posted a blog entry on Harold Shipman hanging himself in prison. It was pointed out to me that I am at least 5 years behind on this article as he actually hanged himself that many years ago. He is probably fully rotted in hell at this moment. Not sure how that happened. I must've clicked on one too many "related news links" on the BBC website and forgot to pay attention to the date of the article! Oh well, the sentiment still stands....