Candid Expression

Monday, 31 January 2011
Disclaimer: I suffered a painful migraine today and was feeling sorry for myself. I'm okay but sometimes a gal needs to vent.

It is impossible to explain this aching loneliness. It isn’t even the loneliness that freezes my bones in the middle of a 50 degree day. It’s the sudden realization that I have no idea whether I’ll be with Kingsley in a few weeks or not. If I could just know that even in 2 years we could be together, I could sleep. I could breathe normally. But no, now I have rare stretches of hours of happiness before the stark, cruel recognition hits me. We’re still not together, we still don’t know if we will be.

The only sure thing is that I cannot brush his cheek with my hand. He cannot raise his fork to my mouth to share a taste of his dinner.  We see each other on a computer screen and try like hell not to allow a moment of weakness even in front of each other. Why? The potential breakdown would be too ugly. Weeping is fierce and not cathartic in our situation. It leaves me depressed, deflated and unable to get out of bed. He feels helpless which leads to hopelessness.

I would never wish this hell onto anyone. God, I sometimes regret getting on that plane the first time I left London. I was afraid. I was afraid of trying to pursue a career outside of what I knew best.  But even as I type the “regret” it isn’t exactly the right word. When I left his embrace to go through security, I had physical pain throughout my body as I moved farther away from Kingsley. I knew I wanted to get back into TV news and pursue an easier life in the US but at what cost? My former bosses in Oregon offered me an amazing position, exactly what I was looking for professionally. I had no idea that our plans to marry and be together would be tripped and Kingsley and I would be apart so long. God help my tired, devastated soul. God help me. I don’t want to fake being brave anymore. Every time I smile in public, talking about our time apart, my soul cracks a little more.  I want to wake up beside the man I love. Why shouldn’t I be able to?

In this moment I think of another theoretical set of lovers who cannot be together legally. Forgive me for broaching a controversial subject (if you read my blog, you aren’t surprised by me doing so). Why shouldn’t a person who loves another person have the right to marry the one they love? Because a government agent says so? If I fall ill, Kingsley won't be able to enter the United States to be in the hospital with me (our initial visa denial automatically carries that stipulation). 

I feel I would be a hypocrite if I take a stand because I cannot legally be with Kingsley and forget other couples in a similar fight. Kings and I know what lonely is. We know what false hope is but we keep the light burning and peek over the horizon for some news tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then the next day.

Update: Nothing new on the Visa front. We are still watiting. Homeland security is processing applications received in June 2010. Ours was sent in August 26, 2010.

Social Gatherings

Sunday, 30 January 2011
Seems like the last two weeks have been pretty busy. This is a good thing since my regular winter routine includes: hibernating in pjs.


I was invited to a small tweet-up on Thursday with twitter friends and one friend from work. We were going to dine at Nama Sushi in Bearden but it was so packed, the wait was 1.5 hours. Instead, we went across the street to one of my favorites: Chez Liberty.


We ordered a few bottles of vino and I got to finally meet @NoJudgingWords (Melissa). We've been friends on twitter for quite some time and seem to have a lot in common.


We tried the inexpensive but interesting Red, Red Wine from Southern Oregon, 2008. I ordered a burger (first taste of beef in a while - grass fed) and the chef sent out a little taste of beef carpaccio on fresh sprouts, cucumber and balsamic reduction. Mmmm!



A few of us also got together this past week to celebrate Whitney's birthday. We started at the upstairs lounge at Cafe 4 where our friend Chris met us to talk and laugh.


While there, Chris pointed out David Keith, a well-known actor, born in Knoxville, in the corner with his young daughter. When the crowds died down, I politely asked him if he'd mind taking a picture with me. I put the camera on the wrong setting (DRAT!) but you can still make out who he is. Keith plays in Officer and a Gentleman with Richard Gere.


Whit, Chris and I then went to Cocoa Moon, also in Market Square, and had a lovely dinner. The owner was there and sent over complimentary appetizers and a piece of delicious chocolate, peanut butter cheesecake. Lovely evening!

Dreaming of Spring

Saturday, 29 January 2011
It was mid 60s today in Knoxville. I couldn't believe it! The sun was shining, three little grey squirrels were playing in the yard and birds were singing. The moment was made even "shinier" by a present from my mother-in-law. She sent an adorable garden sign with chimes and labels for a herb garden!


I have already started dreaming about a garden for 2011. My wish list is below and please include yours in the comments. Also, if you are experienced with gardening, please leave tips on the easiest crops. This is my second year growing food.

Herb garden:
Rosemary
Basil (more than one variety)
Mint (for Mojitos!)
Oregano
Thyme
Parlsey
Sage
Cilantro (lots of it)
Lavendar

Vegetable garden:
Green onions
Green peppers
Red peppers
Cherry tomatoes
Vine tomatoes (not sure which variety)
Eggplant
Green beans (super easy to grow)
Zucchini squash

Fruit tree:
Blueberry bush (I'd like to try 2)

Kitties Rule

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Quick update on Violet and Lily. The girls are doing well. While they don't curl up together or lick each other's ears, they are now getting along. Violet watches Lily's every move. Lily is pretty chill and is so happy with any show of affection.


She's funny - always wants to be where I am and will lie on my arm while I'm trying to type. Lily is also very vocal and makes the funniest meow noises.


Animals make life better. If I've had a bad day, the second I get home and find two kitties who are happy to see me, the stress melts away.

Piano Concert

This video is so exciting I'm sure it'll go viral in an hour or two. *Sarcasm* Here's my first piano concert. I taught myself Mary Had a Little Lamb and changed the words to Violet Has a Little Friend (and her name is Li-ly). The creativity abounds in my house. *More sarcasm* The piano needs to be tuned but I couldn't help but start playing right away.

Feathers and Ballet

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Image from The Contrarian

*SPOILER ALERT*

Let's talk about the movie "Black Swan," shall we? I saw it with friends last week because Whitney had an extra movie pass. I don't go to movies in the theater because I hate to sit still for 3 hours. In a theater you just can't multi-task. At home I can do laundry, blog, clean, etc while a movie is playing, especially if the movie isn't that great.

Back to the point.

"Black Swan" is a film that viewers seem to either love or hate. I dislike most movies because I find them boring. Some contain unrealistic dialog or just host bad actors. Swan Lake soars because it presents a moving plot, realistic acting and impressive costumes and makeup. The camera work was creative and modern and I was very impressed with the directing style (more about that later).

The main character is an en pointe ballerina with an overbearing, controlling mother. The character is used to being controlled and is meek. She starves herself and being to hallucinate under the pressure of getting the main role as the Swan Queen. When her choreographer comes on to her and coerces her to grow up sexually, she snaps and breaks out of her shell (pun intended).

Slowly, the hallucinations and dual personalities become more pronounced and before the last act of the ballet, she severely cuts herself with a sliver of glass while imagining she is stabbing another female dancer (who she loves and is jealous of).

The story of the ballet Swan Lake includes a white swan and a black swan. The white swan falls in love but her lover in turn loves her twin, the black swan. The white swan takes her own life in the end of the ballet because she cannot deal with the sorrow and rejection.

My take is that the main character fell in love/lust with the female dancer that plays as her under study. The dancer in turn loved the choreographer and men in general. The main character, played by Natalie Portman couldn't take it. She says, "This is perfect," as her last line because she was literally dying while she was theatrically dying in her role as the Swan Queen.

Natalie Portman is excellent as an actress. She was believable in the role and even her breathing made my heart rate go up. I don't know how she was able to get the fluidity of arm and upper torso movements for the ballet scenes in the movie. I believed she was a true ballerina even though major dancing scenes were wide so a "real" dancer could step in.

There was also clearly an en pointe dancer that helped the director with the details. I remember breaking my shoes in just like they do in the movie. We had to sew on the ribbons, crack the wood, bend the soles back and forth and would have very ugly toes from dancing on them for hours. The only detail I noticed that wasn't quite right was during a scene in the dancer's home. She put on her ballet shoes and tied the shoe ribbons while her foot was not en pointe (you are supposed to tie them while standing on them so the shoe will fit best while you are dancing on your toes).

The camera work was amazing. I don't know exactly how the scenes were shot but any time Portman's character was tense while walking to the ballet studio or dancing on the floor or running through her house to escape her mother, there was a camera just behind her that was also independently moving. It wasn't on a dolly or truck and it was "bumpy" which increases the intensity and made the viewer feel as though she's there. Good choice of technique!

I enjoyed the costumes, the makeup and the scene where the Swan Queen turns into the black swan on stage. She is dancing "with wings." In my opinion, this one is worth watching especially if you appreciate the arts and classical music.

Style/Beauty Quiz

Tuesday, 25 January 2011
My FB and high school friend Keely had 2 extra free subscriptions to Better Homes and Gardens and I was able to secure one. Woo-hoo!

In the magazine is a Style and Beauty article that asks stars/notables certain questions about beauty habits. In January 2011, business woman and makeup artist Leslie Blodgett gave her answers and inspired me to try out the questions as well.



HOW TO SAVE A BAD HAIR DAY? Plug in the hot rollers. I love the curls you get without much effort. It takes practice to learn how to set a head of hair but once you do, the skill is invaluable.

WORTH THE SPLURGE? GHD flat iron. (Thanks to Kingsley for the gift.) When I use my straightener the way it is supposed to be used (clean hair, good products, small pieces) it works like a charm.

CHEAP, BUT WORTH A MILLION? Neutrogena Moisture Shine lip gloss. You can sometimes find it 50% off at CVS. Score!

I WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD ME don't go to the tanning bed! While the bronze look is lovely at a young age, it will cause wrinkles later in life. Tanning bed = not always classy.

I'M SO GLAD SOMEONE TOLD ME to stop occasionally smoking. I would pick up a cigarette every now and then when I lived in London and all my flat mates smoked. It is absolutely horrid for wrinkles and bad for your lungs.

BEAUTY PET PEEVE? When girls sleep in full makeup. That isn't great for skin, in my opinion. I also don't like to see unkempt eyebrows.

FAVORITE BEAUTY TOOL? Aveda Brilliance Damage Control spray. It smells amazing and just makes life better.

BEST BYGONE BEAUTY? Baby powder. Use it in the summer for sweaty feet. Use it in the winter for dark roots (but not too much).

I WON'T LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT a hat if I'm having a bad hair day or a day I'd rather not fix my hair.

I WISH SOMEONE WOULD INVENT permanent air brush foundation. Smooth, full coverage makeup all the time.

AGING IS parallel to wisdom and confidence.

LIPSTICK OR GLOSS? Lipstick. I love full, striking colors on lips.

I FEEL CONFIDENT when I am happy.

Book Drive for Inmates

Monday, 24 January 2011
My goal for a book drive was 50 books. I volunteered to collect used and new non-fiction books for Friends of Literacy. That's the charity I'm involved in that helps adults learn to read and take the GED so they can become employable. The books are for inmates at the Knox County Detention Center.


The grand total for the book drive, while not fabulous, was 58 books, 8 more than my goal. Organizing the drive wasn't that difficult and I was able to spend my free time working on something that is very important to me. Without books and the ability to read, I would be lost. Hopefully at least one incarcerated person is inspired by something they read from the books we collected.

Music To My Ears

Sunday, 23 January 2011
The week after our honeymoon, Kingsley and I purchased a bass guitar in London for him. He is creative and enjoys the arts and wanted to learn to play. This week, we purchased an old - but in playing condition - piano for me. I start lessons in February!
 

This is very exciting for me. I remember my father playing the guitar while we were growing up. He used to sing and play the trumpet as well. My grandmother D'Arcy played the piano and I recall fondly an instance where my Aunt Judy sat down at her piano and played an amazing concert for us just off-the-cuff one evening.

My piano teacher is Ben Maney of Ben Maney and the Countless Sheep. I happened to ask for piano teacher recommendations on twitter and a music-minded friend suggested I email him. Mr. Maney teaches at the music shop on North Broadway a few days a week and lessons are affordable. Here's the review of his music from Metro Pulse:

Local keyboard wizard Ben Maney specializes in a smooth, understated jazz-pop. The most obvious reference point is Ben Folds, but Maney’s skill is catholic—his solo project, the Countless Sheep, straddles pop, ’70s soul, prog rock, and fusion jazz, but he’s got straight jazz chops that keep him in demand for numerous other local combos, including Mitch Rutman’s guitar-based jam-jazz, and can get down and dirty as a regular contributor to blues outfit the MacDaddies. (Matthew Everett)

Kings and I have decided, if we don't get a Visa approval, we will form a two-person band, travel Europe and play music in public transportation tunnels. We will also attempt to coerce our families to visit us in numerous cities and bring random comforts from home. (Just kidding, family!) 

Good Luck to Bob

Tuesday, 18 January 2011
I've known Bob for 10 years and worked weekends with him for about 3 of those years. He is leaving WATE under some bummer circumstances that can't be discussed and I'll miss him! We decided to meet at Crown and Goose in the Old City to wish him luck.


Most of the weekend crew was there: Ron, Whitney, Erica and Dave (who doesn't work weekends but is a friend of Bob's).


The cheese board is always a big hit. The cranberries/walnuts/honey garnish is easy to do on a cheese plate at home.


My good friends Jamie and Hillary also came out to have a drink and catch up. We have to do something to try to slough off the winter blues! There's snow in the forecast for Knoxville again. Nooo!

London Highlights 4

Sunday, 16 January 2011

One of my favorite nights in London included time with good friends. (From L-R) My best friend from graduate school, Thabi, close friends Mandy, Emma, Camilla and Kingsley's best friend Paul and I all got together at The Establishment in Clapham Junction for drinks and dinner.


I haven't seen some of them for more than a year and I was on cloud 9 being surrounded by people who are special to me. Everyone seemed happy, healthy and generally in good spirits and it was a nice way to celebrate the new year together. Check out the eclectic decor of the restaurant --


Since it was a Wednesday evening and we had a late dinner, service was amazing and several bottles of wine were coming to the table as well as plates of fried squid with chili, roasted duck salad and lamb chops over garlic mash. Yummy.


I miss my friends already and cannot wait to see where we meet up in the world next and how we've all lived life since then. Thanks, sweeties, for making a plan so we could all get together. xx

London Highlights 3

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Kingsley and I enjoy history and learning together so we planned to go to Hampton Court Palace, south of London one morning. We had a nice breakfast and boarded the bus under grey skies from Teddington. It was only a 20 minute ride.

In the early 1500s, King Henry VIII commissioned his "best man" Thomas Wolsey Archbishop of York to renovate the Old Order of Jerusalem property along the river Thames. It was transformed into Hampton Court Palace as a summer home for the royals.


One of our favorite parts of the tour was the Hampton Court Palace kitchen. Kingsley and I took part in the audio tour and spent a lot of time in the vast kitchen. It was the size of a large barn with huge fireplaces in every room. The staff lit one of the fires in the "meat" room and the spit mechanisms were in place so tourists could see how large the set-up had to be to roast meat for 600. The meat on the table isn't real but it shows just how large the spit tongs would have been.



Another room we thought was amazing (I should have taken more pictures, sorry) was the Wolsey Closet. The gold gilding and patterned ceilings date back to the 1500s. Some of it is original, other parts were restored in the 1900s. The overall effect was quite unique and we were both impressed.


We ended the tour in the gift shop next to an authenticated replica of Henry VIII's armor. It was likely from his early 20s because later in life, Henry gained quite a bit of weight. We couldn't help joking about the armor which included protection for the King's more delicate parts. The modern day sports protection for that area hasn't changed much in 600+ years.

New Addition to the Fam

Thursday, 13 January 2011
For 2011, one of my resolutions was to add to my animal family. Violet needed a playmate, someone to snuggle with while Mommy was working long hours. Now she has Lily, formerly known as Sundance..


Lily is a lovely little girl. She is 3 years old, only 8lbs and very affectionate. I visited the Young Williams Animal Village (the new facility on Kingston Pike) on Wednesday and she was the second cat that came to me.

The first kitty was a handsome male but he was active with his claws and I had visions of shredded furniture. Lily crept over to me and rubbed her little head on my hand. When I just look at her, she purrs. Since I was hoping to adopt a cat that was sponsored ($75 fee already paid for), Lily was the perfect match. I filled out the application, watched the new owner's video and away we went! She didn't like being in the carrier but only cried once during the car ride home.


One of my Twitter followers suggested the name Tiger Lily after I threw out several choices such as Magnolia, "Maggie" for short, Persimmon, Ivy, Ivory, Pearl, Amber... I wanted a nature-esque name since "Violet" is a flower and also a color. Tiger Lily is perfect since the wildflower is indigenous to Eastern Tennessee, they grow in our backyard and Lily has an orange/cream color. Kingsley said she is a "Vol kitty." (The Tennessee Volunteers' color is orange.)

Violet howled, growled and puffed up her tail when she first met Lily. Lily showed no aggression and quietly walked away. The two cats are now interacting somewhat and Lily seems to love "her" bedroom where for now, I keep her food, water and litter box. At least she has a sort of retreat and Violet rarely goes in there anyway. I'm hoping they will become sister-friends soon.

R-e-s-p-e-c-t

Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Find out what it means to me.

Let's take it back to professional basics. Respect your colleagues and opponents. Retain some level of sophistication even in the midst of competition. The way to win the race is a steady pace without throwing your foot out on the field to trip a player and giggling to yourself. If you are caught tripping someone, screaming, pointing fingers and saying... "but HE ran to my side of the field" makes things worse. If the spotlight is on you for a mistake, use it as an opportunity to gain support by being real.

This is a euphemism of course for our state of national politics.

I drone on and on about extremism. Extreme Christians, extreme hippies, extreme police officers, extreme tv entertainers, extreme over-eaters, extreme drinkers, extreme health proponents, extreme spenders, extreme, greedy CEOs... are not healthy for society. We need balance. Balance helps us not act out, not get too angry, not beat our kids, not quit our jobs in a fit of rage... etc.

STOP the messages of hate in your community when you can. Hate = extremism. No matter what your position or beliefs, don't stand for extreme messages from entertainers, politicians, leaders, friends or family.

Maybe you'll save a life.

London Highlights 2

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Another very special moment for Kings and I while in London, was the night we went to The Blue Elephant in Fulham, London. For our first dinner date in 2006, Kingsley made reservations for us here and wined and dined me. I wanted to go back during this trip and instead of being incredibly nervous, enjoy the romance with each other again.


The Blue Elephant has restaurants in London, Thailand, Paris, India and several other countries and cities. The decor and atmosphere is impressive. Indoors, patrons are surprised by a live jungle with a sort of "river" running through. The greenery, silvery koi fish and orchids on the tables impressed me again.


Kings and I had a romantic table by the water and toasted with a glass of champagne. We selected a bottle of vintage Cloof Pinotage from South Africa and our waiter brought out a chef's complimentary 1st course of a Thai asparagus soup and mango won ton. Delicious! For our appetizer, we ordered a dual portion of the chef's choice Thai sampler.


Kingsley ordered the beef panang and I went with my favorite, pad thai.



While dining, we shared memories of the previous four year together. Time flies and we are so thankful to have found one another. While no relationship is perfect, we are lucky to share a love for travel, good food and wine, cultural experiences, authentic music and laughter.


Here's to the next four years and more chances for Kingsley to show off for his bride (heehee). I felt very special on our evening out. He even purchased The Blue Elephant cookbook for me so we can make our own meals together remembering where it all began in London.

SnOMG

Monday, 10 January 2011
This is my creation. I hope it doesn't give you nightmares.

Here's this news gal's take on snow fall and the hysteria that surrounds it in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Please note, this is tongue-in-cheek.)

It starts like this:

JD - Hi. I'm meteorologist Jane Doe and we may have a few flurries on Friday.
MJ - Myrtle, she just said it is going to snow!
MJ - Marvin, we don't have any extra gallons of milk. We need to get to the store!!
MJ - Myrtle, we better go NOW before things get too bad out there.

Grocery store owners see dollar signs and rearrange stores so that the shovels, de-icer, bottles of water, generators, logs, batteries, flashlights, rope, toilet paper, milk, bread and eggs are all front and center. I wonder if some even take half of the gallons of milk off the shelves to spur anxiety over the fear of "NO MILK!?!?!?"

People stock up on groceries and candles and go home to see what happens. On Friday, as meteorologist Doe predicted, there is a dusting of snow. Myrtle and Marvin wake up, look outside and inhale sharply.

MJ - Myrtle, it snowed!
MJ - What, Marvin? Is that snow on the ground??
MJ - Myrtle, I'm telling you, it snowed.
MJ - Well, Marvin do you have the candles good and ready in case the power goes out?
MJ - Yes, Myrtle, but we better not use much milk in case we run out.
MJ - Be careful shoveling the walk, Marvin. I doubt the ambulances could even get to us if you fall.

News teams gear up to report live starting at 2 a.m. Here's yours truly in several layers going live from a location with some snow on the ground. On the air, reporters usually give their live locations so if you really needed to find them, you could. Which kicks off the next phase of snow hysteria. Road crews.

I think road foremans may watch the news stations and send trucks to the location of the reporters. What looks better than a fresh, shiny snow plow barreling through behind a live shot spreading salt and making sure that dusting on the road doesn't cause any problems? And you better believe a reporter that doesn't have much snow to talk about will nearly stop, drop and roll with excitement when a snow plow scrapes through on live TV. (I admit it. I love it.)

MJ - Marvin! Look at the T-V. Did you see that? Those salt trucks are out workin'. It must be really bad.
MJ - Myrtle, I told you not to use the milk! We could run out in this severe weather.

Phase three of snow hysteria: snow lovers who don't want to go to work. They do NOT want to hear a news reporter say, "It's not that bad out here." They want to hear people ranting about dangerous conditions and repeating like a mantra, "Stay home today if you can. Do not get out if at all possible." This way, the boss or school superintendent will also see the news and be forced to cancel school in order to be safe.

I worked in Cincinnati, Ohio as a morning reporter for 3 years. Three years of standing outside by the Ohio River in -10F with a half foot of snow on the ground. My photographer during that time, Rambo, had to convince me to buy "sensible shoes" and dress in layers. I spent years going live from a dwindling salt pile... Schools would still be in session and grandmas would run you off the road if you slowed to 40 mph on a highway. That was serious stuff. I can't imagine working in the true North East.

And my favorite part of snow hysteria this year -- hashtags on Twitter.

#snOMG
#snowmaggedon
#snowpoclypse
#snowbliteration
#snoWTH?

How's your winter treating you?

London Highlights 1

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Kingsley and I were fortunate enough to be asked to house-sit for his good friend who was away for the month. The attached cottage with the black door in the picture was our home for the week. It was located in Teddington, which is south of London by about a 30 minute train ride. I know that sounds like a long way away from the center of the city but it really isn't by big-city standards and is still considered London.

We were able to play, explore, visit tourist sites, shop, pub crawl, see friends and romance one another. Even though we weren't in some exotic, warm location, I had a wonderful time. London, as I like to say, is a perfect city to visit if you have at least a week.

One day we went to the British Museum to tour two traveling Buddhist exhibits and then we wandered around Covent Garden (one of my most favorite parts of London). The pub (I've been there at least 8 times) which serves pies or "pasties" as they are called in London, was crowded but we were still able to find a nook upstairs and have a pint while warming up.


I wasn't suffering much jet lag at this point and was so happy to be relaxing with my darling with good food and great views over the Covent Garden antique and boutique markets. Often there are street performers and we watched a woman dressed in a hot pink body suit doing a gymnastic show on a high bar. The crowd loved her.


Wondering about the weather in London? It wasn't freezing while I was there and remained a decent 38 to 40F degrees for the high most days. We were only rained on once but of course the skies stayed gray. Since London is an island, there are, at times, stiff breezes. We immediately went to a street shop after arriving above ground on the public transportation line (referred to as the tube) and found hats to wear. After we had something on our heads, we weren't too cold to walk the streets of Convent Garden, Piccadilly Circus and Soho arm in arm.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, 1 January 2011
New Year Goal -- pay off all "bad" debt in 2011. I will be free of all credit card debt this year! School loans and mortgage are here to stay a little longer. Do you have any resolutions?


Kingsley and I went to our friends' house last night to bring in the new year. The Randalls hosted 10 people with amazing treats such as walnut pate and brie. Yummy!


We brought our own drinks and Kingsley chose a nice vintage (2002) Moet & Chandon Champagne. I wanted to go with a 14 (pounds sterling) bottle but Kingsley said, "How often do we get to celebrate special occasions together?" He's right and we sprung for it.


Leizel and Martin brought their dart board and Desiree challenged me to a game. She's really good. I'm not but we had so much fun playing.  All of the boys started a fire (contained - no need to phone the fire brigade)  in the back garden and I finally got them to pose for a picture.


Best part of the night for me was seeing my girlfriends' kids (Des has a new baby and Margs has 2 sons) and being with my love to count in 2011.


We celebrated at the end of the evening with an interesting cultural activity. We wrote our hopes and wishes for 2011on Chinese lanterns. At midnight, we lit them and watched together as they slowly floated away. People all over the neighborhood were letting lanterns go. It was a very cool sight. There were also gorgeous fireworks in the sky. We're not sure where they came from but the show was special.


Kingsley and I are happy and really enjoying exploring, shopping, partying, cooking and being lazy together. Happy New Year to you and your family from us!