What is wilson silverleaf? We're organitarians; it's best for our bodies and the planet. We cloth diapered Nina for the same reason. We drive a hybrid car & wish we could afford solar panels on our house. I'm a strong advocate for homebirth, full-time mom, & also a movie junkie. We don't have a tv though; we watch dvds on our computer. We love contradancing. I garden & knit; Larry's a puzzle lover & plays fantasy football.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

xena's boobs

Now that I have your attention, here is a link to a beautiful picture of Lucy Lawless breastfeeding, with a wonderful article on extended breastfeeding.

it was a good night

Thursday night we had leftover minestrone soup; it was delicious and it meant I didn't have to cook!

After dinner we decided to make the 15 minute walk over to the library; it is so nice to live in the center of town. Anyway, we were heading home and I saw a man wearing an unusual outfit, so I said "Hey Nina, look at the man wearing the velvet fur-trimmed coat." I really didn't expect the man to come over and start talking to me in a thick accent. It was almost over before I realized that he had told me that he is the Lord Mayor of Bristol. I'm not entirely certain what that means, but it definitely entitles you to wear aforementioned coat and a big shiny medal (some sort of cross type thing) on a ribbon. He welcomed us to Bristol and informed us how many Bristols there are in the US (something like 34, I don't remember the exact number). But he was very keen on making sure we knew this one is THE ORIGINAL. We definitely knew that already, but it was fun to talk to a local dignitary. It was over before I knew what was happening, I must have been starstruck by his being all Lordish and Mayor-like (though I think it was probably more that it took me longer to process the conversation than it lasted). Apparently he is a well-known figure and our encounter with him was impressive; as we were walking away a man stopped us and commended us on rating an audience with him.

And as we got closer to home we saw a beautiful rainbow; it was really large and bright.

Why don't I carry my camera EVERYWHERE? I will try to be more careful about that from now on.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

more knitting

Nina has been asking for gloves for a while now but I haven't been able to find any small enough for her, or a pattern for tiny gloves. So I decided to knit her some mittens. I bought a pattern and borrowed some needles (thanks, Lucy!). They are addi needles; everyone raves about addis, but I don't see what the fuss is all about. They were...ehh, I didn't have a problem with them but I don't love them. I don't really like knitting on such tiny (size 2) needles, but I think they came out well and Nina likes them. I used sock yarn I got on sale at the yarn shop.

And this is an old project I just finished...for the second time. The first time I didn't join the two yarns well enough and by the time I noticed it had come apart it was too late, too much of it had unravelled to salvage. So I ripped out the whole thing and knitted it up again. It was originally wider and shorter, but by the time I had gotten around to casting it on after ripping it out I had forgotten how many stitches. It's quite nice, pretty, and shiny, I think.

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trip to wells

We have gone through Wells a few times to get other places, but we never actually spent time there and enjoyed it until last weekend and it was really fun. There was a market where we got mini quiches for lunch (along with an epresso brownie that saved me from my caffeine withdrawl headache--it had whole espresso beans in it). There was also a castle with a moat. We were walking around it, turning a corner, but we couldn't see what was around the corner yet. Nina informed us there was a playground, so we went that way because kids just know stuff. There was, indeed, a playground and we played there for a few minutes.

We also decided that the peg puzzles I bought Nina a few weeks ago were just getting too easy and bought her this lovely butterfly layer puzzle at the market. As you can see, it's getting too easy too. Puzzles with interlocking pieces are next.

Monday, March 26, 2007

this rocks my world

Sunday, March 25, 2007


I would love to talk to you about Be Wise Ranch, but you didn't leave me any contact info. If you want to email me, just click on the "email me" at the bottom of the left hand column.

Friday, March 23, 2007

come dancing

it's how they did it when I was just a kid...

My parents took me contra dancing when I was little, I did it in college, and it's how Larry and I met. Before I move someplace, I always make sure there is a local dance, and we had a klezmer contra band and caller at our wedding reception. It's that fun. Though we haven't been to the dance in San Diego, it's more because we didn't have a sitter for Nina than because we don't want to do it. I took Nina when she was little and wore her, but she's getting big for that.

Anyway, it is my intention to try it again when we get home. Wanna come along?

The people we danced with in Chicago (who were also most of our circle of friends) were on the news recently. Check it out here.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

soft play

Since it rains so much here, the playgrounds aren't really as large or well-kept as I'm used to, but they do have a lot of "soft play" places where you pay a fee and play inside. Today we walked to the Easton Leisure Centre, paid our 2 pounds, and met up with some friends. Here's a video, at the end you can hear and see Nina's friend Eden and her mum.


I am seriously homesick. Probably not as much as I might be if I hadn't spent so many years in the New England that is so very much like this old one. The terrain, climate, and vegetation are so similar, there is so much of it that feel like home. But it's not and there are so many thing I miss. Some of them (in no particular order) are: my car, my kitchen, my fully stocked pantry, my friends (actually I think that's the biggie, I would be much less homesick if I had more friends here), kombucha, fermented food, tilapia, the beach, my dogs, my garden, my bed, not having to wear layers, flip flops, talking with my sister on the phone, my mom, the list could go on...

But it is really nice here, the people are welcoming, and I have made some friends here who are really lovely.

this is a 3 minute walk from our apartment, the ancient buildings here are a constant marvel to me; I drink them in every time I leave the apartment

in fact, in the pic above, our building is just to the right of the bridge, it's the orange one (incidentally, to the left of it , above the bridge, is the hotel we stayed in when we were here in September)

spring is really here; the daffodils are a yellow riot but are starting to give way to flowering trees and shrubs
one of the things I am always amazed at in Europe is the abundance of the old, just smack dab in the middle of everything; we were on the bus the other day and passed some Roman aqueducts, totally humdrum and everyday type of stuff to the people living here but amazing to me

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here's the first square

before ironing...

and after

this pic shows the colors better (more true) and scale
Nina decided she needed to stroke it; I agree with her, it's really pretty

the pattern seemed really intimidating to me and I had to learn a couple of new techniques, but once I did (with repeated watchings of the tutorial on knitting help) it flew off of the needles

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

is this how they tow cars here?

Nina and I were coming home from the yarn store yesterday (Nina loves it there; they have a toy corner and she usually wants to stay longer than I do) and we saw this car being lifted from the street onto the back of this truck. It was parked before I went to get the camera...interesting!

and here's the reason I was knitting so feverishly

I have been wanting to start this blanket/afghan from knitty.com

Here are the first three skeins I have bought for it. One of the nice things about it is that you don't have to buy all the yarn at once, you can get it a little at a time, which makes it seem as if it's not quite as big an investment

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feverish knitting

I have been knitting feverishly to finish this blanket

I think it came out really well and helped me knit down my stash

It's amazing what you can do just with the knit stitch

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Friday, March 16, 2007

as promised

here is a video from Horse World

trip to LA

My post at The Soccer Mom Vote this month is about my trip to LA with Elaine to the set of "The New Adventures of Old Christine"
Check it out here

It was really fun, I was super nervous--I am not good at meeting new people, especially such talented ones as the rest of the bloggers and the cast. But I survived it and you can see exactly how nervous and dorky I was if you play the video the studio was kind enough to make.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

travel ideas?

Anyone out there been to Europe and have any must-sees? We're in England so anything here is great but we plan to travel as well, so bring on the suggestions. Anyone reading near and want to meet up?

horse world

Nina and I went to Horse World yesterday with some friends. Nina got really brave and patted a goat, brushed a sheep, and though she was a scared, I was really proud of her when she patted a donkey. Patting horses was completely out of the question, though.

Stay tuned for some videos tomorrow...

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trip to cheddar

We went to Cheddar (like the cheese) last weekend; it was really beautiful. Click on the pic below to see the set

trip to cheddar

cloth nappies

They have a whole cloth diapering section at Boots, which is one of the major drugstore chains here. It's so cool I have to take a picture and share it with you.

I bought one of these all-in-one diapers and it's pretty much exactly like my beloved Bumkins--and at 7 pounds it was actually a little cheaper than most places are selling Bumkins for these days.

And they sell these rice paper liners, which I have always had to buy online at home. They make getting poop out of a cloth diapers a snap.

Also, not pictured here were boosters (rectangular liners which boost the absorbancy of cloth diapers), many of us use gdiapers for this purpose, though the gdiapers are much more expensive. The boosters aren't flushable, but I suspect you could compost them.
And also, completely corn based diapers, compostable, though we throw them away because we are living in an apartment. I think it's so great that you can just walk into the drug store and get these, though admittedly some of the smaller ones don't stock these items.

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tenderstem broccoli

I bought this broccoli at the farmer's market last week and it's the most delicious, tender broccoli I have ever had. Is it the color? I don't know, but I like it.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

I have a cute booty

According to Nina. I was kneeling down today and Nina put her hand on my Nanny Crack and said, "Cute booty, mama, cute." I'll take the compliment wherever I can get it, thank you very much.

Actually, I'm in good company. Today there were cute loaves of bread at the grocery store, if we can trust Nina.

the lowdown on strollers

It was just a matter of time, really. I am a stroller addict; I owned five at one time and am now down to two (not counting the one I gave my mom to keep at her house). And now I am in a whole new country with all new strollers to ogle. Some days it's almost too much for me; the big baby gear store isn't easily accessible by foot so I haven't made it there yet, but I will...

My criteria for a full-size stroller are:

  • decent sized storage basket
  • child tray
  • parent tray
  • recline
  • flip-up leg rest for napping
  • good maneuverability for non-ada-compliant sidewalks

My criteria for a travel/keep in the car stroller are:

  • compact, easy fold
  • flip-up leg rest for napping
  • decent sized storage basket
  • recline
  • decent maneuverability
  • hard to tip with bags hanging from the handles
So let's start with the Quinny Zapp. It's the stroller I've seen most here (besides MacLaren and the various knockoffs). It's certainly convenient as far as foldability; look how tiny it gets. But no recline, no basket, no flip up leg rest, no deal for me, as well as the rough ride (the wheels sound like they're solid plastic, though I'm sure they're not). It runs $200-300$, depending on where you get it.

Then there's the stroller I covet, mostly because it has an integrated raincover, not so necessary in San Diego, but nice here. The rain cover I have is cumbersome and doesn't pull back, so it's either on or off. Anyway, here it is (it's called ZIKO):

-5-point seat belt. You must never forget to use it
- Made from baby-proof, lightweight aluminium and shiny die-cast alloy bits
- Fold with one hand
- Locking swivel wheels at the front (because it looks nice)
- Smooth low profile tyres
- A big basket underneath for carrying things
- Bi-directional suspension on front wheels
- Leg rest goes up and down
- Back rest goes up and down in 4 positions
- There's somewhere to rest your feet
- Comes with a really nice bright bag that grows to hold your stuff
- It's very own rain cover to keep you nice and dry too

As you can see from that list of features (above) from the manufacturer's website, it satisfies all of my criteria for a travel/car stroller. But at 300$ it's a bit expensive... Oh, and Gwen Stefani has one in gold lame. Personally, I think that's a bit (a bit? really? a LOT!) too much.

The travel stroller I finally bought after a lot of searching before our first trip here to Bristol is the Britax Esprit. Same company as the famed car seats, though their strollers are a little less well-known. It satisfies all of my criteria as well as having removable, washable seat cover (though I haven't done that yet). Nina has slept in it a LOT (most notably through half of my sister-in-law's wedding reception). Just put the legrest up, recline the back, and nighty-night! It is almost impossible to tip this stroller over, even when baby gets out; you have to really really really overload it with stuff hanging from the handles. Best of all, I paid 99$ for it and I have seen it for less.

What about MacLaren, you say? Well, I had one...granted, it was an old one so maybe they've fixed some of the stuff I didn't like, but all you had to do was think about putting a bag over one of the handles and over it went. Also, only the Quest and Techno have the adjustable legrest, and it's not super easy to use. Again, maybe they've fixed this, but Nina had a really hard time sitting up in the one we had, she always ended up slumped over. And I HATE the brakes, they're just not easy for me to slide over. The Quest and Techno start at 200$ and go up from there (though they do come with a raincover).

The full-size stroller we have at home is the Kolcraft Contours Options. We had the Jeep Liberty Urban Terrain from when Nina was born, but the day after I got rid of all of my extra strollers, the wheel broke off, I kid you not. It was a wonderful stroller for us, but a wheel broken off is kinda the end of the road (we had had it for more than a year, so it wasn't a warranty issue).

This stroller has all the options I wanted and more. The seat snaps out so the child can face forward or back (always a bonus). And the seat can be completely removed so you can use the stroller as a snap-n-go. We were way past the infant car seat by the time we picked this stroller up, but it's a nice feature... As far as I'm concerned this stroller has most of the nice features of a Bugaboo and then some (no child or parent trays on the Bugaboo and the basket is tiny) without the pricetag. I paid 120$ for it. The only downside (which was a problem with the Jeep too, they're both made by Kolcraft) is the brake. It's a long bar which you step on, but gravity makes it sink down slowly on its own and you have to keep kicking it back up. Not as bad on the Countours as it was on the Jeep, though.

The other full size I considered was the Graco Quattro Tour Deluxe. It's a nice stroller with nice grippy wheels for all the walking I do. It has all of the features I was looking for, but I just went with the Contours (they are priced similarly, I think the Graco is 20 or 30 dollars more). In the end I just liked the look of the Contours better.

Do you have a stroller that you love? Are you wondering about one I haven't mentioned? I have probably tried it, go ahead and ask me...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

blood orange

Nina wanted an orange at the slow food market on Sunday; we had no idea it was a blood orange and Nina ate the whole thing!

love it

I think I'm going to have to get some of these (you put them on dispensers in restaurants and other public places), though after a while will people stop "seeing" them?


Monday, March 05, 2007


*Look at the list of books below.
*Bold the ones you’ve read.
*Italicize the ones you want to read.
*leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.
*If you are reading this, tag you're it.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)interesting idea, bad execution*
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)love Jane Austen
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)it's tolkien, what can i say?
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)love love love anne
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)not proud of it, but i've read the whole series...
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)hate Dan Brown, gotta know what happens
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving) not a big irving fan
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)one of the best books I’ve ever read
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)love Harry Potter, counting the days until deathly hallows
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)love stephen king, a fellow mainah
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)

22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)tried, couldn't get into it, even the cliff notes bored me
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert) read the whole effing series, only really understood dune
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) not gonna happen
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)got me through my teenage years 36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True(Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)fantastic
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)fun fantasy
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible (not the whole thing) yes, the whole thing
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)wally lamb is fluffy, but I love him
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)if I had to pick a fave writer, hands down Barbara Kingsolver
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)scary…
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)fun
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth(Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce) tried, couldn't get into it

I guess with a degree in lit I should have more of these polished off, or at least want to read them...

*the commentary isn't part of the meme, but I couldn't resist (see above)


Ann Coulter never ceases to amaze...

I think my favorite part is
"I'm so ashamed, I can't stop laughing!"

Saturday, March 03, 2007

recap of week one

So, we've been here a week and are settling in. The apartment is really nice, but on the ground floor so the bedroom and bathroom have little tiny frosted horizontal slits at the very top of the room for windows. And the living room/kitchen has decent windows but they open to a tiny concrete courtyard (with nothing in it) and the ground floor offices of the hotel next door. Also, every time Nina and I want to go out, I have to haul the stroller up a flight of stairs, as the elevator doesn't come down here. It's nice and private, but I'm suffering from a lack of light. Click on the thumbnail below for pics

This week was mostly about going out and buying the things we needed that weren't provided in the apartment, which included but were not limited to:

  • a mobile phone (outgoing calls made using the apartment phone are subject to a surcharge)
  • a stock pot--three months without soup? I don't think so...
  • over the door coat hooks--there was literally nowhere to hang them besides the closet in the bedroom. That doesn't really make sense.
  • containers for leftovers
  • mouse for laptop--I've become spoiled by having a desktop, can't hack the touchpad anymore
  • a basket for Nina's toys
  • lots and lots of groceries
  • and more...

We also had a blind date that turned out very well, we met our new friends Emma and Hannah at a place called @bristol. It's very expensive, but a fun morning was had by all and we'll definitely be spending more time with them, though Emma works so it won't be as much as we'd like...

We spent Sunday afternoon shopping at Fresh & Wild, which is the UK's Whole Foods (it's actually owned by Whole Foods, complete with the 365 brand). It was nice to shop there, but godawful expensive, so I took Emma's advice and shopped Sainsbury's online and had it delivered. Sainsbury's has its own line of organic stuff, as well as lots of other stuff, with a click of the mouse it comes to my door. Much cheaper, though now I have a crapload of plastic bags...

Wednesdays there is a lovely farmer's market, which has a lot, considering that it's the end of winter here. It's also a five minute walk from our front door. This week we got:

  • salmon pate
  • fresh cheese
  • seeded demi baguettes
  • carrots
  • squash
  • parsnips
  • potatoes
  • apples

There are also stalls with fresh meat, fish, and eggs as well. I think that's where we'll mostly get that type of thing. Every first Sunday of the month there is a slow food market, which we hit today and got lots of good stuff.


Nina has discovered Meerkat Manor...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Anyone out there know a way to make the ABC and NBC online full episode players work over here in England? Please????


Nina actually asked me to put pigtails in her hair. I just keep laughing every time I look at her, it's so cute.

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Anyone else having trouble blogging pics from picasa? I am gettin a script error that is preventing me from posting.

Okay, I can post pics but no text, so I have to go back in and edit the post. It's a pain.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

hee hee

As I mentioned before we took a train from Gatwick to get to Bristol. One of the stops on that train is Dorking.