The Lexingtonienne
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  • July22nd

    Remember in Mary Poppins when they jump into one of Bert’s chalk drawings and spend a jolly ‘oliday with Mary? Well on Tuesday evening, Mike and I jumped into a Frances Hodgson Burnett novel and spent the night in the English countryside at the home of Mike’s boss and his family. The Mansfields’ home is converted from a barn; the inside is full of exposed wooden beams that were put in place 350 years ago. “Good bones,” you might say.

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    The walk up to the house is flanked with lavender. Seriously, does it get more picturesquely English?

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    Actually, it does. Look at these unfortunate views.

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    This is Grace. She used to be three but now she’s four, which is a rawther cute thing to hear in a tiny little British accent.

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    Grace took me to pick some raspberries from the garden. She was a bit disappointed because some of the raspberries had already “gone ovah.”

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    But she happily showed me some of her favorite flowers…

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    … and the cherries…

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    … and introduced me to Jessie the dog…

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    … and Willow the cat.

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    We had such a lovely evening with the Mansfields and are so grateful for their hospitality.

    And in case you are wondering, my mission to sample all the Weird British Candy Bars is still underway. Here are some new ones:

    maltesers starbar

    Maltesers. I don’t even know how you say the name of these things. Malteezers? Maltzers? “White chocolates with crisp, light honeycombed centres.” The first one was weird… but then I ate the whole pack.

    Starbar is “milk chocolate with caramel and peanut centre.” So far, Starbar is the clear winner of the Weird British Candy Bar Contest. Only, don’t eat one and then wipe melted chocolate on your white jeans. (Ahem.)

    More soon from my open-top bus tour of London!

    Cheers,
    Hannah

  • July19th

    We have arrived in London! And I have had “Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-oo!” stuck in my head the whole time. I found this coaster in a pub… a sign, perhaps?

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    The past 36 hours haven’t been the most ambitious, perhaps. We are j-e-t-l-a-g-g-e-d! The first thing we did after checking into the hotel was to grab a bite to eat at a pub up the way. We ordered fish and chips and some pea soup. The fish and chips were… edible. The pea soup, however, was like pea water, and since we had already settled our tab, when the bartender wasn’t looking, we grabbed our stuff and made a run for it, leaving the entire bowl of soup sitting there.

    Everywhere we’ve been so far, the British food has lived up to its less-than-stellar reputation. It’s pretty tough to ruin a French fry, but I’ll be darned if they aren’t trying their hardest over here! And when you don’t finish your meal, the server looks at your plate and, puzzled, asks if you’re finished. When you say yes, they ask if you didn’t like it. When you say it was fine but you’re stuffed (big lie), they ask if you want to take it to go. They seem almost sad about it. Ugh. Maybe next time I’ll just say, “Sorry, Oliver Twist, it was awful. I managed to chew and swallow just enough of this gruel to hold me over till I can buy one of your weird British candy bars. Cheers, mate!”

    The traffic situation is super confusing for us Americans. When we ride in a taxi, I feel like we are going to DIE because I think we’re on the wrong side of the road. And when we cross the street, I don’t know know which way to look – agh! Luckily, they tell you:

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    Anyway, we’ve done a little exploring, and I think we’ve mastered the famous London Tube. This is a pretty impressive accomplishment for me, as I’m terrified of the subway in New York. But the Tube is easy and kinda fun!

    Notting Hill station

    We ventured out last night towards Chinatown and found the West End theater (er, theatre) where we are going to see Les Miserables on Thursday night.

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    west end theatres

    On the way back we saw this guy waiting for the Tube:

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    Mike doesn’t think British animals have British accents, but I’m pretty sure they do.

    This morning I woke up at about 4 am and was wide awake til about 7 or 8. I thought about hitting the hotel gym, but thought, “Maybe if I lie here just a few more minutes, I’ll fall asleep.”  Then I hit a major wall and crashed til the afternoon. Meanwhile, Mike went to work.

    When I finally emerged from the hotel room, I decided to try and find Harrod’s, which must be the most famous department store in the world. I hopped on the Tube and took the Central Line to Notting Hill Station, where I took the Circle Line to South Kensington, where I caught the Piccadilly Line to Knightsbridge. Are you proud of me, Mama? :)

    Notting Hill Gate

    Sign to Harrods

    Harrods

    I was surprised to find that Harrod’s felt sort of winding and cramped. I had no sense of where I was going or where I had come from when I was wandering around inside. I needed a bag of Reese Pieces to make a trail so I could find my way back! That said, I’m glad I went because I have always wanted to see it. And the Egyptian escalator was kind of cool.

    Egyptian escalator

    And since I don’t get to have any ale in the pubs while I am here, I’ve decided to indulge in the weird British candy bars as a consolation prize. (I have been known to investigate the local junk food selection when traveling. Mike is still grossed out by the time I ate a bag of Prawn Cocktail flavored potato chips in Ireland, but they weren’t bad.) Tonight we are having a Topic bar (“milk chocolate, hazelnuts, soft nougat & smooth caramel centre” – so a Snickers with hazelnuts) and a Cadbury Twisted! (basically a Cadbury Creme Egg in a candy bar). They print the nutrition information on the wrappers just like we do, except they call the calories “Energy.” Isn’t this smart? It sounds bad to eat calories but good to eat “Energy.”

    British candy bars

    That’s all I’ve got for now… I’ll be in touch later this week! Hope you’re having a good one.

    xoxo,

    Hannah

    P.S. Big thanks for all the well wishes on our little announcement! We are 17 weeks along and I have felt fine the entire time… never had any sickness or nausea or anything. I’ve been running and working out a lot – I credit Ms. Jenny Lind and her super tough Bar Method classes with the fact that I’m still wearing my regular jeans in my second trimester. So far everything has been smooth sailing!

  • July16th

    A long, long time ago…
    In a galaxy far, far away…

    When I was a little girl…

    I went to camp every summer at Cathedral Domain in the mountains of Kentucky. Each day at lunch, Lucy, the camp director, would make announcements, and we campers would sing the most obnoxious song to announce the announcements. It went like this:

    Announcements! Announcements! Annoooooouncements!
    A terrible death to die, a terrible death to die…
    A terrible death to talk to death, a terrible death to die!

    The song actually went on for several excruciating verses sung by several screeching voices. It was great. Anyway, I’ll keep this announcement short (“a terrible death to talk to death” and all).

    We’re having a baby.

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    It was a surprise, as you might guess by our December 28 due date. Sorry, kid. We’ll throw you half-birthday parties in June. But we’re very happy. :) And I’ll keep you guys posted on all the details (well, the ones you want to know, at least.)

    The flight from LAX to Heathrow should be fun. I wonder if I can break the record for number of trips to the bathroom on one flight… ?

    Talk to you from London Town!

    Hannah

    P.S. Happy Birthday, Lori!

  • July15th

    This post is a little bit unseasonable, but since I live in a place where there are no seasons, does it matter?

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    Here’s something you may not have known about me: I hate Valentine’s Day. Hate it. I think it’s the worst. I get such a bee in my bonnet just thinking about all the money that gets spent — not to mention all the fuss that is made — simply because Hallmark tells us it’s important. You’re not the boss of me, Marketing Strategists.

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    I do not need anyone prompting me to buy a sappy card or to expect roses from my husband. (Red ones are my least favorite. And with the baby’s breath stuck in them? Ugh. Puke.) All Valentine’s Day practices are banned in our house. There is no exchanging of cards. No flowers. No gifts. No overpriced dinners at overcrowded restaurants. (Exception: I gladly accept the big “mix pack” from Sharp’s Candies in Lexington that my dad and stepmother send me every year. Sharp’s chocolates are gooood, and that is a simple fact.)

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    carrot shreds

    Mike’s and my annual Valentine’s Day tradition is to invite our single friends over for heart-shaped turkey meatloaf. I chose meatloaf many years ago because I don’t think there is anything less sexy than meatloaf. Just the words “meat” and “loaf” are so… cafeteria lady. Plus, meatloaf — like chocolate from Sharp’s — is gooood.

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    meatloaf

    I originally started making my meatloaf in individual portions, for faster cooking, and shaped as hearts, because it’s funny. But I quickly realized that the heart shapes are actually very functional, as you can stagger your heart-shaped loaves and make them fit very nicely into your baking dish. But really you can make any shape that amuses you.

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    Last night I must’ve been in some kinda sexy mood because it wasn’t even Valentine’s Day, and I made heart-shaped meatloaf AND pork-a-licious green beans (aka The Sure Thing). So snap on your hairnets, Cafeteria Ladies, and get ready for one very delicious dinner recipe. It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day or any day of the year.

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    HARD-HEARTED HANNAH’S HEART-SHAPED TURKEY MEATLOAF
    1/2 onion, finely chopped
    1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
    1 package lean ground turkey (I use Jennie-O. Make sure it’s NOT the 99% fat free — it has no flavor.)
    1 carrot, grated
    2 eggs
    1/2 C (approx.) oats
    1/4 C (approx.) Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs, if you happen to have some. Otherwise use more oats.
    1/4 C (approx.) grated parmesan cheese
    1/4 C (approx.) ketchup
    1 big fat squirt of yellow mustard
    Salt & pepper to taste

    Preheat oven to 400. Saute onions and bell pepper in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Take off your rings and mix thoroughly with your fingers. You may want to add more oats or breadcrumbs if the mixture seems too wet; more ketchup if it seems too dry. Do not get hung up on measurements here. It’s just meatloaf; it will turn out fine no matter what. Eyeball it and have fun.

    With your finger, score the meatloaf mixture into four quadrants. Pinch off each quadrant, shape into a heart (or whatever shape you want), and place in a greased casserole or baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30-40 minutes or until hearts are firm or reach 170 degrees when a meat thermometer is inserted into the center. Remove foil and bake for about 10 more minutes to get them nice and brown.

    Sometimes I make a classy glaze by mixing ketchup, yellow mustard, and brown sugar in a bowl. Spoon the glaze over each heart and bake until glaze is slightly bubbly, about 5 minutes. You can also serve these plain. Serves 4.

    And one last thing today… this precious baby girl is Ava.

    Ava Kulp

    Ava’s dad, Adrian, just started a hilarious blog called Dad or Alive: Confessions of an Unexpected Stay-at-Home Dad. Highly recommend!

    Ava Kulp

    Hugs and kisses,
    Hannah