Friday, 29 April 2011

An Afternoon Tea Fit for a (Future) Queen

Well, they've said their "I Dos" (or, technically, "I Wills") and sealed it with two kisses seen round the world.

We started today with a mimosa to toast the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and finished it with a very traditional afternoon tea. The title of this post may be a little bit of an exaggeration, but the tea did turn out pretty well, as you can see below. The macaroons were a little crumbly, but they tasted good, and the shortbread and lemon meringue cupcakes (both first attempts) were a success.

Watching the coverage of the wedding did make me feel the tiniest twinge of regret that we didn't venture into London to take part in the festivities, but in the end I think we got a much better view at home. It's funny how easy it is to get caught up in all the hype and celebration. I think I could get used to all this pomp and circumstance. In fact, the idea of becoming one of the Queen's "subjects" when I get my British citizenship doesn't seem so weird anymore; it seems like a bit of a fairy tale itself.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Wedding Fever

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you know that tomorrow is the wedding of the century... or at least the decade. I don't in any way consider myself a royalist, but I do like tradition and a bit of pomp and ceremony, so I will be celebrating Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding with the rest of the world. But unlike the hundreds of people who have been brave (or crazy) enough to camp outside Westminster Abbey, I will be watching the ceremony from the comfort of my couch. Well, actually, my mother-in-law's couch.

It's pretty exciting to be in London for the event, even if I don't plan to go anywhere near the city tomorrow. Let's face it: I'll get a much better view on TV. The bunting is out, the flags are up, and today I even treated myself to a festive Union Jack-themed cupcake from a local cafe (and bought myself a commemorative William and Kate mug, which I know is a bit tacky, but I figured £5.50 wasn't too bad for a bit of fun).

We plan to mark tomorrow's occasion by indulging in a very British tradition: afternoon tea. Tonight I have been busy baking shortbread, almond chocolate macaroons, and lemon meringue cupcakes. My mother-in-law is in charge of the finger sandwiches and scones with cream and jam. If all goes according to plan (and my macaroons don't collapse), I'll post photos tomorrow.

Like I said, I may not be a royalist, but I do like to be a part of history... and have an excuse to party. And, like millions of other Brits, I'm extremely grateful for the wedding gift William and Kate have given us: an extra holiday!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

In My Mind I'm Goin' to Carolina (Reprise)

We returned last night from our French voyage that I mentioned in my last post (yes, yes, it has been that long since I last blogged, and I'm beyond embarrassed about how badly I have been keeping it up). The Other Half, Crumpet, my mother-in-law, and I had a lovely time staying with extended family in Montreuil-sur-Mer in the Pas-de-Calais region and then touring Upper Normandy for another few days, and I will write a proper post with photos soon.

While we were away, I didn't go near a computer or a television, and I only used my mobile for emergencies. It was nice being detached from the rest of the world. At least, at the time. You could imagine my shock when I returned last night to learn (via Facebook, of course) that my hometown of Sanford, North Carolina had been devastated by a deadly tornado that killed two people (and more in the surrounding towns) and damaged several homes, including the home of one of my close friends. Thankfully, she and her husband and two children are okay physically, but I can't even begin to imagine what they are going through emotionally. My parents were spared major damage, but if the path of the storm had been just a few miles north, they might not have been so lucky. The storm was so bad it made international news; here it is on the BBC.

I've seen natural disasters like this before unfold on TV: the tsumani in 2005, Hurricane Katrina... and growing up in a state that is a frequently struck by hurricanes, we've had our share of near misses. But I never imagined something so devastating would strike this close to home. I just wish I could help in a more tangible, constructive way. It's times like these when I feel very disconnected from home. Facebook and Skype are wonderful for keeping in touch, but virtual reality isn't always the most comforting substitute for being with the people you love in person.