So, my Christmas Extravaganza came to an end this past Saturday evening, when I boarded the overnight bus to begin the long, sleepless journey from London to Paris, from vacation back to the real world. The real world is slightly more brutal than usual, too, with the clock winding down on my time at Ferrandi and the pressure on to sort out the details of what  comes next. Not to mention exams–even at Culinary School they find it necessary to check and make sure we learned something.  I’m anxiously packing my bags again—I’m definitely moving *somewhere* come February, and while there are many things I love about being in Paris and as much as I initially wanted to stay, when it comes down to it I cannot wait to live in a city that doesn’t smell like urine, and in a home where I am allowed to shower with the door closed, can microwave my meals or talk on my phone without someone scolding me for all the negative effects its having on my body and the universe as a whole, and where I have a bedroom that averages more than one working lightbulb at any given time.

I know. All small problems, but sometimes a girl’s gotta moan.

I’m very sorry if you have missed hearing from me lately. Reasons include minor technological calamities (if you believe in minor calamities, which I do), not bringing my computer “on holiday” (bad attempts to blend in with the British have so far not been met with any unreasonable assault to my person),  the unfortunate fact that the school computer lab does not have proper American keyboards and therefore I can’t be bothered, and the other unfortunate fact that the Christmas cards I specially picked out for you guys are all still sitting sadly on my side table. I’M SO SORRY.

But I’m back now, and here to tell you I’m fine, all is well, life is great, things are going ok, and I bought another lightbulb yesterday so I’m up to two.

Anyway, the subject of this post:: Its now Thursday the 9th of January, which in my Mom’s estimation means I am approximately 15 days late in writing about Christmas (maybe more). As many of you already knew, I was in England with Liam and his family, to whom I really can’t express enough gratitude for welcoming me in and sharing their holidays with me, and  trying to help me feel at home during my first Christmas away.

Liam's little hometown.

Liam’s little hometown.

If you saw this next photo on facebook and wondered what was going on, it was taken on a bridge in a Thai restaurant on Christmas eve. Their family’s tradition is to “go for a curry” on Christmas eve, which is an idea I quite like…it’s nice to have something fun and different before settling in for the traditional feast and week of leftovers. This year they deviated slightly from the norm, settling on Thai food, but the sentiment is the same.

Bridges, buddha statues, koi ponds, and jungle-like greenery don’t usually resonate with Christmas spirit, but the food was amazing and and served family-style, each table was set beautifully and festively, and each plate topped with a Christmas Cracker. This was a new tradition for me, although everyone around me seemed to find it hard to fathom that there could be a world without crackers at Christmas. In hindsight, I find it a little bit hard to fathom myself…we Americans need to get with the program.


Liam and I demonstrate the art of cracker-pulling. Each popped open to reveal a small toy, a bad riddle, and a paper crown that one is obliged to wear for the remainder of the meal.

Upon our return home, we waited in the garage while Liam’s mother ran around completing the Christmas Scavenger Hunt–another family tradition I’m determined to adopt. Silly clues were hid around the house, each one leading to another clue,   until finally we were pointed to the location  of the hidden treasure…as also per tradition, a set of new pajamas for each of us to wear on Christmas morning.

We played some games, snacked a bit, arranged the presents, and finally headed to bed.

And then it was Christmas morning!

Santa Came.

Santa came. here we are about halfway through digging through our presents. As for the PJs, Liam is cookie monster and I am the cheshire cat.

Each member of the family got a giant gift bag, and when we woke up, it was overflowing. I have to stop here and just say I couldn’t be more grateful–I expected I’d have a few things to open, but the generosity was overwhelming. I seriously didn’t think I’d ever see the bottom of that bag.


playing games waiting for dinner to be served. OPEN YOUR EYES, LIAM

And then, we sat down to dinner. Again with the crackers, and everyone wearing hats. the table was beautiful…i loved the purple! pictured are me and Liam, his sisters, mom, and stepfather.

xmas dinnerdindinsThe food: roast beef and turkey, Yorkshire pudding, parsnips, brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, pigs in a blanket (English-style, wrapped in bacon instead of crescent rolls), cranberry sauce, and a load of other vegetables and side dishes I can’t remember now. But our plates were full and stomachs happy 🙂

We spent the rest of the the day and the day after lounging around, playing board games, and snacking some more. There was also a visit to Birmingham for a day of post-christmas sale shopping:  IMG_0721

Birmingham from the top floor of a parking deck. That big shiny thing on the right is actually a shopping mall. horrendous, I know.

We also took the dog for a walk. This may not seem like a blog-worthy event, but it kind of was. It was a cold and wet trek with lots of slipping and sliding through mud puddles (and a couple instances where we were sitting in them) and i complained a lot, but really it wasn’t so bad. As I said at the time, that sort of thing is what memories are made of 😛 Plus, once we got out of the (literal) briar patch liam made me climb through, we reached the top of the hill and were rewarded with some stunning views of the English countryside.


We finished off the holidays with a visit to Liam’s dad’s house, where we enjoyed some more snacks, some more presents, and some more games with friends and family. Unfortunately no pictures to share of that gathering, so instead I leave you with my 2nd favorite jenny-liam picture from the week, taken during the family pre-christmas-eve-dinner visit to the pub (something else I don’t think I’ve ever experience before):cuteand there we are 🙂

Still more to share, but I’ll be back for round two of posting sometime later 🙂

Love you and miss you all!!

Jenny 🙂