Saturday, August 4, 2012

Monday, May 2, 2011

Valentine's Day Pasta Making

Last year thanks to Groupon, Tim and I went to a pasta making class at a cooking school in Chicago (Cooking Fools). It was really fun and surprisingly easy to make pasta from scratch that you can then fill with all manner of tasty things.

We hadn't actually got round to making any since our class. So, Valentines Day, the perfect time for a low key night to try out our new pasta making skills. During the class we used proper hand winding pasta makers, which of course it seemed the whole of Chicago seemed to be sold out of the day we actually want one, so we had to resort to rolling the dough by hand. (I say we, to his credit Tim did most of the hard work of kneading the dough and making it into pasta.)

We have an Island in the middle of our kitchen with a marble top, so it was perfect! We decided on Ravioli filled with Walnuts  and Ricotta, with a pancetta, cream and pea sauce. It turned out pretty darn tasty. We have since acquired a proper pasta maker, so hopefully there is more fresh pasta to come.

Skiing in Breckenridge

In early February, Tim, I and a few of Tim's friends from work headed out to Breckenridge, CO for the first ski trip of the year. I was so excited to be back on skis again. This winter I really felt the pain of not being in Calgary where I was only a 2 hour drive from the ski hills. Getting on a plane for 3 hours and lugging all your stuff around does not have the same appeal that's for sure.

We stayed right at the base of the hill in a place called The Village Hotel which was great. Rolled out of bed and onto the slopes. One of the first noticeable things about Breck is how high it is. The base is 9,600ft so you certainly feel it. I'm not super fit at the moment and even walking across the car park was a little strenuous! I'm pretty sure that Breckenridge has the honour of the Highest Chairlift in North America. You really feel this when you are only there for the weekend, without too much time to acclimatise.

Breck has a gorgeous base village, a pretty Main St decorated with copious amounts of fairy lights and brightly painted shops.

The skiing is pretty darn nice (Even if we didn't see the sun the whole weekend). The mountain is split into 9 different peaks, so there is something for everyone. The group I was with had two snowboarders, one first time skier and then Tim and I. Kimmie (The first time skier) spent her first day in lessons and then was tearing around the mountain, complete natural. Proud to say that Tim spent for time on skis this weekend that we had previously and we even managed to adventure around the mountain and too the other peak one day. There's pretty good beginner terrain. I was just happy to have ski's on my feet!


Yes, It's true. I've disappeared off the edge of the blogosphere. I have much catching up to do.

Life has been pretty busy since Christmas (Holy Moly it's May already), and as I'm no longer on a project that I have to fly too I don't have as much time hanging about in airport and on planes that I get most of my blogging done. But - ah ha- I AM on a plane, back from Calgary where I was at my friends Sara and JJ's wedding so will attempt to catch up.

What am I up to at the moment?
Well currently I am on a project for a large machinery manufacturer in the lovely Peoria, Illinois, about a 3 hour drive south-west from Chicago. I left the client in New York in early February. The new project is pretty intense, I have more responsibility that I have been used to in the past and we are working long hours to make the project hopefully end in success. There is a lot more enablement on this gig too, so I am feeling useful again!

Although I don't have to fly every week anymore I feel like I have much less time on my hands now that instead I have to drive every week. I guess less idle time, and blogging and emailing while driving is pretty frowned upon I hear, even in the US.

Since my last blog I have done some skiing, my Dad and Bro came out to visit and we went skiing and then visited NYC on their way home, Tim and I went to Hawaii with his family and I am on my way home from a weekend in Calgary. It's no wonder I haven't had much time. Coming up is my birthday in a couple of weeks (Scary 26), Tim and I are off to Vegas for the weekend, Tim has qualified again for the WSOP in Vegas in July so hopefully there will be a bunch of us going to that, and unfortunately probably no UK trip this summer, but we'll be back for Christmas for sure!

So... let the blogging commence.....

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Playtime in New York

So.... my time in New York has come to an end for now....

Between Christmas and now I did have a little bit of time to play though in New York.

Tim came out for the Martin Luther King long weekend which was awesome. Here's some of what we got up too...

Hung out in a very frozen Central Park...

Ate some yummy vietnamese food at OBao in New York...

Hung out in Bryant Park drinking Champagne watching the ice skating....

Wandered past the Rockefeller Centre....

And went to a Rangers Ice Hockey game and the magnificent Madison Square Garden...

I also went to a new exercise class that they do at the gym I went to in New  York called Glee Club! You dance... and you sing.... We learnt the dance moves to Thriller. I'm sure that will come in handy one day.
It was pretty fun. It was pretty much exactly like the show, some nightmare broadway/diva types, some flamboyant guys and a few more round but super keen ladies (i.e. me). This is the video of the class...

Also my lovely team while in New York threw me a wicked leaving party. I was presented with this spangly tiara, we ate lots of yummy Italian food and then proceeded to ride a mechanical bull.... I still have the bruise to prove it and it's been a week! A great send off.

And last but not least I've been meaning to get a picture of this for ages.... we my new found paparazzi skills this is what I mostly look like now...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christmas and New Years in the UK

So I spent just over a week back in the UK, mostly in Devon but we spent New Years Eve in London.

Wonderfully we got into the UK in between the snow storms, and it was actually our most on-time arrival in Devon from the US so far. Go Figure. We even packed an extra carry-on full of clothes thinking that it was highly likely that we would lose our luggage. Didn't happen thankfully.

The first few days were pretty busy. We didn't get to Devon until the 23rd December. We had our obligatory pasty at Paddington train station in London before standing (!) all the way down to Devon on the train. Got to love British Rail and the holidays, and to think that they are putting UP the fares. Madness.

First up on arrival to a VERY snowy England was the Simmons' Family Christmas Meal. Me, Tim, my brother, step-mum and my Dad's side of the family. Always great to see everyone even if it is only once a year.

Tim and I at my family's house in Devon and Christmas Day

Christmas Eve was spent at the bar that my brother Mike works in at the moment. Good grub there thanks bro and then in the Bell.
Christmas day was spent at Mums. Usual strange (but awesome) traditions of Champagne in the morning, Whiskey and Pork Pies (for Ken's Midland roots), presents, walk to the pub (which we skipped this year... ), much napping and then a turkey Christmas dinner.
Tim and my brother Mike during Christmas Dinner

My big present this year was a DSLR Canon Rebel T1i Camera from Tim and my Mum. It's awesome. I've been wanting a fancy camera for a while now and Tim has been making me put it off so that he can get me one for Christmas. I did, admittedly become a member of the paparazzi though over my time in the UK. I decided that I was determined to catch all the things that happen over Christmas that we just take as "normal" but then one day realise that we have no pictures of. I'm definitely having fun with it though. So far I'm still just trying to figure out what all the settings mean, but its such a nice camera sometimes nice ones just happen without me even trying. I'm all about black and white and portrait people photos at the moment. Watch this space for my new hobby!

Usually on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas), my brother and I go surfing. Last year we dragged Tim along too. Although this year we broke our reasonably long running tradition. There was snow on the ground and Mike had the flu... didn't seem like our most sensible idea ever. Although we did go for a nice walk on the beach instead. I really love going down to the sea in Devon. It's a beautiful part of the world if you ever get the chance to visit it you should. This does mean though that I haven't been surfing for a year and a half. Boo. Hawaii in April should make up for it!
Mum, Ken, Mike and Tim on Saunton Sands

Tim and I walking on Saunton Sands

Then we headed off to my Dad's for dinner. This has turned into quite the feast of lots of our favourite food and often results in us being pretty hammered... No less than 8 courses later, fun time was had by all.
Dad's flat for Boxing day dinner

The rest of the time in Devon was spent mostly lazing around, eating and of course, included the obligatory trip to Squires Fish and Chip shop and a trip to the Thatch for a pint. I got to drive my old car for the day too! So happy, haven't driven for at least a year and in my own little car too. Brilliant. Even with My Dad, Tim and Mike crammed into my little Fiesta. Good times.
Squires Fish and Chip Shop in Braunton

The Thatch Pub, Croyde

Dad and Mike looking over Croyde Beach

Our last night in Devon was spent in our local at The Bell for the quiz night. We weren't particularly good but it was great that for the first time in years my 3 childhood friends were all in the same place at the same time. Really great to see them, even if the first thing Neil said to me after hugging me was "Wow your accent has changed" and then walked off. Hmmmm. I guess it had to happen at some stage.

Tim and I then left Devon to spend New Years in London where we were to be joined by the lovely Miss Danielle. The very helpfully do lots of railworks on the route from Devon to London in between Christmas and New Year so we persuaded Mum to drive us up to London for a much more eventful than liked journey. Half way along the M4 motorway we had a puncture. Nightmare. Tim changed his first ever car tyre right there on the edge of the motorway! Eventually we made it to my cousin Jasper's house to meet his new addition baby Thorin.
Then Tim and I got a cab to our hotel to meet Danielle. After much of a cluster later, someone had already checked in as me and taken our room and then the next room they gave us already had someone in it, sigh. Much annoyance later we had a room in the hotel opposite Danielle.
Tim and Danielle outside Tim's favourite coffee shop in London

To top it all off at this point I seemed to have contracted Mike's bug and was developing a pretty hefty cold. Determined not to let everyone down I probably trekked around London for two days too long and made it worse, only to fly home on the 1st and have so much pain in my ears as we landed that I have been rendered useless with an ear and sinus infection for the last week, not able to go and join to my project in New York.

We spent New Year Eve itself in both the Winter Wonderland in Hyde park in the very impressive beer garden and in Covent Garden too. The crowds were too crazy to get too close to the London Fireworks so we saw the top of them over the buildings in Covent Garden, took part in an impromptu ring of people doing Auld Lang Syne and found a camper van full of hot Somerset Cider to hang out in. Pretty Good fun.
The cider van!

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Danielle and I at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Now I'm back in Chicago spending the week here recuperating from my stupid cold and looking forward to the exciting year I already have planned! We are going skiing in Breckenridge for a weekend in early Feb, my Dad, Mike and step-mum are coming over to go skiing in Park City, Utah for a week and then a few days in New York on the way home, a week in Hawaii in April with Tim's family and two weddings to attend and thats just up to May! All very exciting!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ooooh the weather outside is frightful.... But the fire is sooo delightful

(A slightly delayed post...)

So Wow, December has come and almost gone.... amongst a sea of Christmas Parties, Work and Flying.

I wanted to say...

Happy Christmas and Have a Wonderful New Year!

Literally I have been at a party of some kind (at least one) every weekend so far in December. Which for generally unsociable me, is quite the feat. It's definitely been fun though. Two TW christmas parties, one in Chicago and one in New York, the DRW party with Tim, and a few house parties and a birthday thrown in for good measure.

This is Tim and I's tree in our apartment in Chicago. There's been lots of snow there but I've mostly been in NY, where we haven't had any big snowfalls yet. That's fine with me, keep the snow on the mountains!

I'm currently sat at O'Hare airport in Chicago waiting to meet Tim and we are about the fly out the the UK tonight. Can't wait. Thankfully it seems that the snow and travel madness in the UK has somewhat subsided and so far (touch wood) our flight looks to be on time and leaving!

Tim came to visit New York last weekend, so we had fun soaking up NYC at Christmas. We were stupid enough to try to go skating at the Rockefeller plaza.... unfortunately thousands and thousands of people had the same idea. Couldn't even get close enough to see the rink let alone skate on it! Thankfully we headed to Bryant park instead and found the outside bar that was serving spiked hot drinks to sip on in rocking chairs under heat lamps. Awesome. The next day we also discovered the Food Hall inside The Plaza. Lots of good grub.

These are some pics from both the New York and the Chicago Holiday parties