The Great British Bake Off

Unless you live under a rock, or maybe not on this rock in the middle of the sea, you know that last night GBBO returned to our TVs. This year, however, its being aired on channel 4 and we had a new judge and two new hosts.

The Great British Bake Off is a staple of british culture – its a little bit like the Super Bowl in the US except its multiple episodes and no one likes the commercials. And its not a sports ball game… so what I’m getting at is its really nothing like the Super Bowl. It’s like GOT – without the death but all the drama.

These are the new faces of bake off – Noel Fielding, Sandi Toksvig, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.


You can tell they are working very hard to live up to Mary Berry, Sue & Mel. Noel and Sandi were funny but not Mel and Sue funny, but that chemistry (note the baking pun) takes time to rise (I’m full of them!).

The first challenge – the fruit cake, was a bit of a let down. I was hoping for some classic british cake – one of those checkerboard ones or something a little more out there. But a fruit cake is a fruit cake!

gallery-1503395538-chris-gbboThe technical bake – can we just talk about that? Hello yuck! I am a massive chocolate peppermint fan but those little role things just looked awful! It’s like a british take on the twinkie’s brother the swiss role. They don’t have any flour in them (is that even a cake without flour?) and that one older guy in the back who just couldn’t get it right… bless him.

This week’s showstopper challenge was on point – that’s for sure! Making a lifesize replica cake is crazy for week one! I for one was very excited and nervous for the bakers as they had 4 hours for their challenge. What they came out with was amazing – did you see the bowl of ramen? Or the champagne bucket? The loaf of bread and BLT Steve’s made was crazy realistic!

Final thoughts – I will continue to DVR previous season of GBBO to get my Mary Berry, Sue and Mel fix but I think since channel 4 didn’t mess with a good thing I will be a dedicated watcher this year again. Besides – if I’m not, what will I talk to my co-workers about on Wednesdays?


Homesickness- Not Just For Campers

Homesick as defined by


1.sad or depressed from a longing for home or family while away from them for a long time.

As a kid I remember vividly being homesick when I was at camp. The first time I did a week at a sleepaway girl scout camp I got physically ill I was so homesick – fever, chills, not sleeping. Needless to say I did not have a good time that summer. The next summer I went back and loved it, so much that I did 2 week and then a month. I still missed my family but I was having too much fun to notice.
When we moved from Belgium back to the US my freshmen year I was very homesick for Belgium – for my friends, my school, familiar surroundings and even speaking in french. I did my best to keep in contact with my friends via MSN messanger etc (world pre facebook) but it was hard. They were busy, I was busy and there’s a 6 hour time difference. Naturally those friendships faded, I made new friends and so did they. Belgium because more of a distant memory then home.
By the time I left for college I’d spent many summer abroad away from home & my family. I felt more than prepared to be a few hours drive away. I don’t remember specifically being homesick as a freshmen, but my mom assures me it happened.
When Steve and I decided to move to the UK the idea of homesickness never really crossed my mind. It never occurred to me I would have a hard time living overseas since I had done it as a child. Unfortunately I was very wrong. The first 8 months were extremely difficult. I wasn’t working and I didn’t know anyone. I found myself almost trapped in our flat. It was not an easy time for me.
Thankfully once I started working and met people life got better. We started to travel, we got a car and I started to connect with some locals. It was never like it was back home, but it wasn’t half bad.
Homesickness comes as goes, and when it gets bad it can be hard to want to communicate with loved ones at home because it just makes you miss them more. If you’ve reached out and I haven’t been responsive, it’s not that I don’t love you – it’s just I’m going through a rough patch which makes it hard. It’s also the reason I haven’t been actively blogging. I am working hard to try and overcome it but please bare with me during this period.

Say Yes to What Dress?

At some point or another everyone has some brush with fame. For some it might be getting backstage passes to a concert and meeting a super star. For others it might be catching the grand slam ball at a major game.

My biggest brush with fame came in about 1993 when my brownie troop was featured on nickelodeon in the UK. I didn’t get to say anything but I remember eating fudge on TV and getting to pretend to swim in a bowl of cereal thanks to their state of the art green screen equipment. For the next 25 years I figured that would be my last TV appearance – but I was wrong.

A few months ago I saw an add on TLC looking for fuller figure brides to be I sent an email in saying I fit the description and thought no more of it. In February I got a phone call from the production company wanting to know my story – needless to say I spent 2 and a half hours spilling my guts to a complete stranger on the phone. After I sent in a few photos of myself it was radio silence for weeks. I was pretty sure they didn’t want some loud american on this British bridal show. But I was wrong – I got the call in March to find a weekend I could visit the studio.


Steve and I along with my old coworker Jess piled into our tiny Ford and drove the 3+ hours to Essex to Curves & Couture the bridal salon where the filming took place. We were greeted by a friendly film crew and shown around the set built just for the show. Steve headed off to a local pub to watch a game while Jess and I delved into a world of white chiffon, tulle and lace. We filmed for almost 5 hours, I tried on 3 dresses and had at least 6 peoples hands in unmentionable places. Unfortunately for me my parents couldn’t be there to dress shop with us but they were able to Skype in to see my top contender.

The episode I was on premiered the day we were flying back from Egypt so I ended up watching it at 2.30am or some crazy time when we got back. I wasn’t the main feature but I had a good few minutes of screen time. I am also featured for a few seconds in one of the shows adds that airs throughout the day.

TLC has aired my episode a few times – I’ve had a few coworkers ask if it was me they saw and most recently a middle school teacher of mine saw the episode and asked me about it on facebook.

The show is airing in the UK at the moment on TLC – it’s called Curvy Brides Boutique and it’s a part of the TLC wedding shows. I don’t know if/when it will go to the US but once I find out I will let you know. I do have a video clip of the add I am in – using my phone to film the TV. I haven’t figured out how to add it to the blog but I’m working on it. I also have a DVD of my episode and I am trying to figure out how to make that available for anyone who’d like to see it!

So keep an eye out – once I get a little more tech savvy I’ll let y’all know where you can watch my TV appearance.





Traveling to Hurghada

Our tans have long faded, the snorkle masks are put away and I still haven’t seen any of the pictures Steve got on the GoPro. Our trip to Egypt was 2 months+ ago, though it feels like a lifetime! August has been super rainy here in the UK and I am over it! I need to be back in the sunshine, drinking colorful drinks and swimming in the lagoon!

Unfortunately I have to wait another 5 weeks until I’m back in the sun again. In the meantime I figured it was high time I told my readers about our trip – where we stayed and what we did.

We booked our trip just 9 days before leaving because a) we’re crazy and we needed to wait till payday to book it and b) we we’re hoping to snag the trip super cheap (which we did). In the end with Thomas Cook, we paid about £750($973)for a week at an all inclusive hotel for the both of us, not too bad. If you can be flexible with travel locations etc I suggest booking late.

This was our first packaged holiday, flights and hotel all booked with one company so we didn’t know what to expect. We treated ourselves and bought some extra luggage weight, meals on the flights and picking our seats ahead of time. That set us back about £75 but after the flights we had I’m glad we at least had seats we wanted. The check in counter at Gatwick for Thomas Cook was a mad house! Long lines, not enough employees and no smiles. Since we primarily fly BA or Delta/Virgin this was a very different experience. Once we boarded the plane we saw what a “budget airline” was all about. The seats were like stadium seats with a bit of cloth over – no cushion. architecture-1750794_1920The flight attendants were nice but looked tired and overworked. After taking our seats the pilot came on and told us there has been a computer issue so they were going to be handling the flight paperwork manually for the flight. Way to make us feel safe!

Our 5.5 hour flight took 7 hours – and when you add an obnoxious 5 year old a few seats in front of you – it was one of the worst in my life.

Once we landed we found out just how careful and a little overboard the Egyptian government is when it comes to airports. We bought our visas in one line, got in another to fill out boarding cards, had our passports checked and stamped and then someone made sure our passports had been stamped. It was a lot of deja vu.

After getting our bags we were directed to a coach that would take us to the hotel. We had to wait on the bus for 45+ min for 1 guest. When she finally showed up she said her husband had walked away from her in the airport so she just sat and waited for him to come back. This was about 11.45pm local time, so it took a lot for me not to lose it at her.

Our hotel was the closest to the airport but we were the last to be dropped off so the ride took an hour. To say we were hungry and unhappy campers when we finally arrived would be a massive understatement. Thankfully the rest of the trip went much better!