Friday, November 30, 2012

Inside The Wardrobe: Dress Yourself!

I like clothes. A lot.

What girl doesn't like clothes, really?

I started being a shopaholic at an early age. I have an older sister and our weekends consisted of spending lots of time at the mall. Isn't that what older sisters are for?? (Because shopping with parents was so not cool when I was younger. Now I'd kill to go shopping and not have to worry about spending my own money!)

I'd say that when I dress myself, I dress for comfort more than anything. And now so more than ever; I walk everywhere here in England and I don't want to be walking 20 minutes somewhere wishing I'd worn something more practical.

(2 things about this outfit. First, that cardigan has sequins in it. Love. Second, I actually have that owl necklace. I got it in Mexico, but apparently can be found in England!)

This outfit screams Taylor for 2 reasons: Owls and a cardigan.

I love my cardigan collection. My friends used to call me "Mr. Feeny" (from Boy Meets World) because they said I dressed like him with all my cardigans. Whatever people; everybody loves Mr. Feeny! 

And of course, if I'm home and comfy, there's probably a cuppa tea nearby in my fave owl mug.

(Side note, ohmigod it's the last day of November.... Eeeek!! Whose opening their advent calendars tomorrow morning with excitement?!?! I know I am!!)

What is your personal style? Do you have typical YOU style staples (like my cardigans and owls?) 

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Broadcast Battle: USA vs. UK

I want to talk to you about something very important....... TELEVISION.

Oh yes.... I'm going there. 

There's a question that dates all the way back to the dawn of time (not really)... Which is better, American television or British television?

I've read every fired up argument from every forum that Google would show me. I have to say, people are pretty passionate about their country's telly! So much so that I've literally been incredibly overwhelmed thinking about writing this post.

But I still don't know which is "better"!

I'm going to warn you, I'd say that my taste in American TV is dreadful. But I am fully against Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and that's what's most important.

But seriously, I enjoy shows such as Pretty Little Liars (sue me, it's addicting), Awkward., and The Big Bang Theory. I'm sorry.

Does it help my case if I say I know the entire Big Bang theme by heart? No? Didn't think so....

In all honesty, a lot of the American things I like to watch, Brits hate. Prime example being The Big Bang Theory.


So I've made a list (shocker) of what I have deemed as some major differences between television in the UK vs. USA, and you can determine for yourself which is better.

(I'm going to warn you now, it's long. Go make yourself a cuppa tea or grab a bowl of popcorn. Or both!)

(Disclaimer: I am an American living in England (duh) trying to see both sides. This is also from my perspective being in the young adult/emerging adulthood phase of life. Don't hate me for what I have to say.)

Emphasis on Good TV - Does it bring people together?

A known phrase here in England is "when the weather gets bad, the TV gets good!" So a lot of emphasis is put on "good television" to the point where it's a pride factor. It's lighthearted and a communal activity. And the only thing better than good TV is the Christmas Specials of good TV! Nothing brings people together on Christmas more than an episode of "The Royle Family" after your roast.

In America, I don't feel as though it's about "good TV" as much as it is being current and in the know with popular TV. Seriously, I don't even know how many times I've been pressured to watch "Grey's Anatomy". No I don't care how popular it is or how much it made you cry that one time; I'm not interested. (Still have yet to see one episode) It's also not really deemed healthy to have so much emphasis on TV. Although, when people are more interested in watching season after season of shows, I can kind of see why.

Humor - Or technically, humour since I live in England now.

Humor can seriously be split into 87 different subtitles of it's own, so bear with me. 

I'd say the biggest difference on what constitutes good television (that is, if it's not meant to be a drama) is the sense of humor.

American comedy is completely different to British comedy, but also think of the amount of people American sitcoms have to impress. American TV has more obvious humor. And of course, who could miss that fake laugh reel in the background? British comedy, on the other hand, is more quick and witty.  

One thing that England definitely does right (among lots of other things) is something called "wall to wall comedy panel shows." Basically it's two teams of comedians that make fun of, well, anything and everything!

In my opinion, I think this hasn't really caught on the States because of how controversial it can be. (The closest thing I can compare this to is Chelsea Lately. Instead of 2 panels of competing comedians, it's 1 panel of 3 comedians. But if you've read her books, which I have because I have a little girl crush on her, you know how censored it really is) I say that because typically on these shows, BRITISH comedians always end up making fun of BRITISH news, BRITISH people, and BRITISH lifestyle (i.e. dull weather, cuppa tea, Nectar Points... don't even get me started on Nectar Points).

Now if a show like this was aired in America with AMERICAN comedians making fun of AMERICAN news, AMERICAN people, and AMERICAN lifestyle, it wouldn't be funny, it would be unpatriotic. Am I wrong? America prides itself for being strong and united. Now turn that into a mockery, and you've got something unAmerican.

Personally, I don't feel that way. I repeat: I don't feel that way. If you've read my blog for more than 10 seconds you'd know that I think the best thing you can do is laugh at yourself. But not everyone feels the same. You've got to remember, American TV has to impress a population spanning from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and that's just on the national level. You can't please everyone.

Content - How can they say that on national television?! 

The Fiance (remember him? Yes I do have a life outside comparing America and England) told me that as a kid he used to watch the show "Bottom".

I watched it and thought, "OHMIGOD! You watched this as a kid?!" (In case you don't know, it has a lot of rude humor. Hilarious, nonetheless. Watch the Christmas episode right now.)

Well, British kids are exposed to a lot more at an early age, and it's acceptable. Example: football (soccer for the other side of the pond) is just as rude as things seen and heard on TV, and kids are exposed to football extremely often.

As a kid grown up in America, I feel as though we are more sheltered to content. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, I have no idea. But it's just like the controversy over violent video games; do they cause more violence? Does more mature content make kids act or speak differently?

The F-word among other words (I sound like such a wuss, "The F-word", like I'm that goody two shoes girl in the 4th grade covering her ears at the word "crap". For the record, I say the F-word quite often, just not on here.) is also a very common word heard on national television.

"Say what?!!!" says every American.

Yes, basically anything after 9 PM is free range, including the F-bomb.

Now while we are on the subject of content, I want to bring up this point: Kids from America age differently than kids from the UK.

That sounds ridiculous.

Almost as ridiculous as these guys. The Inbetweeners doing their thing at Thorpe Park.

What I mean is, the norms for certain ages are different in the two countries and I think that drastically changes how television content is displayed.

Take drinking for example. Americans drink legally at 21 while people in the UK drink legally at 18. This makes their experiences so different! 

What does that have to do with television? Content and exposure. Exposing television viewers at the adult age (18+ years) to "adult content" (i.e. drinking) is inevitable in both countries. Television shows have to reflect the laws and norms of the audience, making something "normal" in the UK actually "racy" in the States. Lot's of these norms start earlier in the UK. Since the growing up years are more accelerated in the UK, so does the content that is "normal" to show.

Instead of sheltering certain ages, I feel that the UK takes a more "this is real life, this is what happens" approach. America takes more of a "if we don't show it, it doesn't exist" approach. Out of sight out of mind.

So exposure at an early age is not only different in both countries, it's also based on the norms of growing up. 

If we are trying to decide which is better, it all depends on what you're looking for in your television experience (or what you want your children's television experience to be). I personally enjoy not having it so censored in England; it tells it like it is. So British TV wins for me. No faffing about or dilly dallying around the subject matter just to make it "acceptable".

Familiarity - Have you heard of this show?

I honestly think American television is more well known and therefore more universal. But that doesn't mean it's better.

If you ask people in the UK to name some American TV shows, you get things like Friends, Frasier, Glee, etc.

"Could I BE wearing anymore clothes?!"

But if you ask someone in the USA to name British TV shows, most of the time they can't. Maybe you get the occasional person who enjoys Dr. Who or there's that person whose sister's friend of a friend told them to watch The Inbetweeners that one time. Other than that, it's not such common trivia.

There's many reasons why that could be the case, but I think the main reason is simply that most everything in America is well known throughout the world. It's not just the TV, it's the entire industry that Hollywood created, along with brand names for food, drinks, electronics, games, etc. America wants it's name out there, and is pretty successful at that.

At the same time, many American TV shows are based on British TV shows. (View that list here. I'm out of school and have a degree now; so it's acceptable for me to use Wikipedia.) So the familiarity is there, it's just not necessarily giving originality credit in the right place. (There are also many British TV shows that are based on American shows, although it's not as hefty of a list. View that list here, and just look at the types of shows that they are...)

Budget - Bigger isn't necessarily better.

It's no surprise that America does television "over the top". They hire the best writers, the most upcoming actors, and buy the biggest and most elaborate sets. They entertain in the form of aesthetics as well as through the script.

But it's no secret that the UK can't afford the luxuries of Hollywood. At the same time, the scenes don't need to be supernatural, out of this world, or mind blowing for it to be good. I bet British TV would be through the roof amazing if they had a similar budget to the Hollywood budget. (The Fiance says, "Give Ricky Gervais loads of money and see what he can do with it!")

Now with budget comes advertisements in the form of commercials. Because let's be honest, who really is paying for the TV show you're watching. Could it be those 12 Pepsi commercials you saw during the break?

Well what about the BBC? No adverts because it's a public service; they have to be impartial. Obviously, this doesn't give them the budget that Pepsi gives, but it's still well liked (probably an understatement). Because of the no adverts rule, shows are l o n g e r. There's no 8+ minutes of commercial break time to account for. There's no mid-show cliff hanger while they cut away to a kitty litter advert.

More TV to provide for. Less of the money to do so.

Thank you, BBC, for Sherlock Holmes!

The downside to having to please the general public is that you get shows like Bargain Hunters, Houses Under the Hammer, and Flog It. I'm sorry, I have to say a big ol' WTF BBC to that. If I see one more show about antiques or dilapidated houses, I will lose my marbles.

Season size - Quantity or quality?

A typical season in the UK is 6 episodes. 6 episodes?! That seems like nothing!

But think about the amount of filler episodes you've had to go through in a 12+ episode season. Sure, it got a few laughs, but was there anything really substantial happening that was vital to the storyline? Not really.

America definitely favors quantity over quality while the UK favors the opposite. 

Maybe 6 is too little, maybe 12 is too much. Who really knows?

(That Sherlock Holmes from the BBC pictures above has 3 episodes per season. 3 mind blowing episodes.)

(Insert natural pause in my monologue to regroup and sum up key points)

The jist of all this is to say that American television and British television are different. It's like comparing peanut butter and pickles. Both have their flaws and both bring something unique to the table. They both have different standards for "quality". Lots of Brits think American TV is crap. A lot of Americans just wouldn't get British TV.

I think as far as being something globally impressive, American TV wins. You can't compare the special effects and sheer over the top energy that is American TV. It's made to be global and it's made to be known. But impressive doesn't mean better.

I also think that if we are comparing content and natural talent, not simply trying to "please" an audience or make millions, British TV takes the cake. But again, that doesn't deem it generally better, either. However, I do have the confidence to say that the comedy genre is better by far. (But you have to be able to keep up with it. I've been practicing my British comedy watching skills for years now and still sometimes I'm still like "huh??")

It's all a matter of YOUR opinion and what you like to see on the telly! Good TV to you may be bad TV to someone else.

As for me on this side of the pond, I loves me some good comedy: The Inbetweeners, Russell Howard's Good News, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, and A League Of Their Own. I've also been known to like QI, Sherlock Holmes, Fresh Meat, and Skins.

Come on, everyone loves Stephen Fry!

What's YOUR opinion? Is American TV or British TV better and why? What do you like to watch on TV? What's important to your television viewing experience? Something to make you laugh? Something suspenseful?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Half Marathon Training Week 5

Week 5 is now in the books! Despite everything the world and the weather threw at me, I made it!

Last week, if you recall, I had a kind of tough long run. Mentally I was done, and it was taking a toll on me.

But also, if you recall, I PR-ed in Saturday's park run last week. So clearly I had a fire lit under me that my mind just didn't want to deal with.

(Don't let your head give up before your legs give out)
(Pic taken in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico)

I've learned recently that running is a mental game. It's easy to make excuses as to why something didn't go as planned. 

But most of the time it's your mind and that tired voice in the back of your head saying how much easier it would be if you just stopped or slowed down.

Maybe my crappy 7 mile run would have been better if I didn't keep complaining about it in my head. Because at the end of the day, I finished those 7 miles. That's 7 more miles than I was running a few years ago. It's 7 more miles than a lot of people ran that day. And it's 7 more miles of preparation for the half marathon.

So from now on I'm going to try to be more positive! It can't hurt!

Anyways, time to run off all that pumpkin pie I've been eating.......

...and when I say "run off" I really mean "go run and then eat more pumpkin pie"

Side note: This is the first week where I've felt really achy and sore from training. Maybe it was that 7 miler last week. But I'll tell ya, I feel it! 

Monday - LRR group run. I loved every bit of this run, but sadly my stomach did not (TMI?) Seriously, it was really great and I wish I could have done better. We just did a long, consistently paced run (which are my favorite) around the park. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of eating a whole bunch of olives before I went to meet up for the group run. OLIVES?! WTF was I thinking eating olives!!? I pushed through the pains until the last ten minutes and finally decided to walk. It was frustrating, but I felt infinitely better once I stopped jumbling up my stomach even more.

Tuesday - OFF

Wednesday - 4 miles through the rain, mud, and puddles! Other than that, a very good run!

Thursday - 5 incredibly windy miles

Friday - OFF

Saturday - 5 miles (technically just a bit over actually). I did one mile before the park run 5K and one mile after.

During the park run, I was trying to focus on my mentality. Not my pace, not everyone around me, not how ridiculously rainy it was, but my own thoughts.

Here is my thought process throughout the whole 5K:

"Okay, you can do this, Tay. No negative thoughts like last week. You PRed last week and you were a negative ass so just imagine what you can do if you really stay positive. Keep up with these people now and when we get to your little Florida Girl Hills we will slow down and reassess how you feel. 
Just get to the hills. The hills are not your enemy anymore. Don't even call them hills. Call them ant piles. Yes, stupid little ant piles. Think of how hard these hills were a few weeks ago. Now you do them in your sleep. 
Wow it's really raining hard. Rain is good. Oh, I'm over the hills! I mean ant piles. That wasn't so bad! 
Keep it going. There go the fast runners. They're almost done and I'm just getting halfway. No, no negative thoughts. You are a rock star. Oh crap, the fast runners are splashing mud on me. Where did they get all that mud from?? Oh well. Positive thoughts. Thanks so much for the mud; it goes great with my sweat! Goodbye fast runners, I have another loop to do. 
Focus. You're over halfway done. And don't forget, you ran a mile before the park run. You can still do this. Oh here's the mud. There is SO MUCH mud. Ohmigod this sucks. 
Okay no more mud. Back to focusing. When you get back to that road, think about how you want to finish the race. DAMNIT MUD! THIS IS WORSE THAN THE LAST BIT OF MUD!! MY SHOES ARE GETTING STUCK!!! Ew. Ew. Ew. Stop saying ew, Taylor, you're acting like a wuss. 
Okay back on the road with no mud. Right, there's the 4K sign. Less than a mile to go. You're nearly there! Yayyyy! You're doing great. You ran a mile, you're nearly done with 5K, and you have to run another mile when this is over so don't exert all your energy. 
Just keep this up. 2010 Taylor would have passed out 3.75 miles ago. 2012 Taylor can do this! And likes it! No no, you LOVE it! If you didn't like endurance you would have taken up tiddly winks instead. 
Okay, when you turn this corner, you'll see the finish. If you don't start sprinting when you see the finish.... Wait that sounds harsh. Okay, if you'd like to sprint to the finish, that's great! But you've done fantastic today! So if this pace is what you wanna do, do it! Nearly there! Mmm, more mud with a side of mud, andddd I'm done!"

Hilariously, I completed the park run in 31:32, which is my exact time of last week's park run! I was initially disappointed (seriously, I couldn't have run one second faster?!) but then I thought how much better this week felt. It felt more natural this week and I definitely wasn't as winded when I was done. So I'm going to count this week as a personal win!

Sunday -OFF

Side note, if you follow me on Twitter you know I got a case of the crazies Saturday night. I promise I only get like that once a year. FSU vs. UF game. And I'm not happy about the result.

Garnet and Gold forever!

 Hope you all had a great weekend!! 

Runners - What are you currently training for?? Certain race? Certain pace? Do you tend to like it better when you've got a goal in mind?
Non-Runners - What motivates you to reach your goals? Rewards? Self-fulfillment?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Inside the Wardrobe: Black Friday 2012

Nothing irritates someone who works in retail more than the words BLACK FRIDAY.

(For those of you not familiar, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving where there are massive sales, long queues to get into stores, and crazy people attacking other people for electronic items. It also, in my opinion, ruined a lot of what Thanksgiving is about by making workers go in at midnight for the sake of insane shoppers. I'll save that rant for another time.)

I've worked nearly every Black Friday since I was 16. I've gotten to work at 4 AM. I've dealt with irritating savings-hungry customers. I've arrived at work over an hour in advance just to attempt to find parking. I've made cupcakes for my team to boost morale. I've braved the chaos that is the food court. I've done and seen it all.

Now that I'm in England, Black Friday is a thing of the past. No Thanksgiving = No Black Friday. (I know, I know, Boxing Day Sales. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.)

So to me here in England, Friday the 23rd of November is just another day to shop.

This week was inspired by Black Friday, and of course, the color black. 

I feel like any time I wear a lot of black, someone always brings it up as being weird. One time I wore a black dress with leggings my parents said "What are YOU mourning today?!" Cool.

So whenever I wear black, I like to add some color by wearing a patterned scarf. I usually go for floral prints, but I fell in love with this scarf because it has discrete owls all over it!

I'm also in love with tights right now. I think it's because I never really got the chance to wear fashion tights in Florida (tights for dance class though, I know all about!) except when my mom dressed me up when I was 6 to keep me warm from the cold front that was 59 degrees Fahrenheit. I have a pair of burgundy tights like those and they go really great with black and cream outfits!

Finally, top it off with an edgy jacket to stay warm and simple flats to stay comfy during the 12+ hour shopping day that is Black Friday.

Hope you guys in America have fun shopping today and that everyone stays safe! As for England, well like I said, today is just another excuse to go shopping! But apparently ASDA and Amazon were advertizing Black Friday sales online only! So how about THAT!

Anybody have Black Friday horror stories?! Either from working retail or from shopping?? 
What do you like to wear when you go shopping? Do you dress up or do you tend to stay casual? 
Does anyone in England wish there was a Black Friday equivalent over here? Would you take advantage of the sales or would the crowds scare you away? 

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thanksgiving Thursday

In case you didn't know, I live in England (shocker, I know). Also in case you didn't know, England doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving.

But that's not going to stop me from being thankful today!

I have a short list (actually, not short at all) of things I am thankful today and everyday.

The Fiance - Obviously top of the list. (Prepare for the cheesiest statements of all time) I don't know what I would do without him. If it wasn't for his hard work, I may not be living in England right now. I love him more than anything, and I'm seriously so lucky to have him as my future husband and my best friend.

Us and the Golden Gate Bridge. Why the hell not. We're also super tanned in this photo from working at camp all summer.

The Fiance's Family - Amazing doesn't even begin to describe. For the past 3+ years, they have been nothing but welcoming and accepting of me into their family. They are the nicest people in the world. I'm thankful that they will officially be part of my family soon, even though it has already felt that way for years.

My Family - Especially my sister and my extended family in north Florida. They've always been behind me 110%, but now more than ever they've showed me incredible support for my move across the pond. I'm beyond lucky!

My Friends - My best friends back in America who I miss SO MUCH, my English friends who put up with with my Americanisms, and of course YOU! Everyone who I've "met" through Twitter and blogging with such amazing stories. Expat friends, running friends, I'm thankful for all of you.

Running - If you would have told me about 3 years ago that running would become a priority in my life, I probably would have laughed in your face. I'm thankful that I've found something I love to do, and that I'm constantly being challenged to achieve more.

Cold Weather - Have I said enough how much I hate heat?? Cold weather clothes are so much cuter anyway. I'm thankful that I can put to good use my scarf collection and UGG boots on the daily.

Well I can't say that's cute cold weather clothing. That's actually from when we got stuck in traffic for 4 hours because of a heavy snow storm (shocker) so I threw on my massive coat (which is why I look about 40 stone) and wellies and boom, awkward snow picture.

Skype & Whatsapp - Life savers! I can speak to everyone in America now without hassle or hefty phone bills!

The Internet in General - Also amazing. It makes the world seem so much smaller and more connected! Obviously, it's great for me!

Taylor Swifts "Red" Album - I love this girl. Her songs are the reason I dance around my room with a hairbrush. And her newest album is amazing and has been on repeat since it came out!

I loves me some T-Swift! I've seen her in concert twice. Literally have a girl crush on her.

Being Able to Find Franks Hot Sauce in England - Sure they charge you an arm, a leg, and your firstborn child for a teeny tiny bottle, but Franks is seriously my life source.

Pumpkin Pie - Not just pumpkin pie; pumpkin pie IN ENGLAND and people actually like it!!! Can't have Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, even if it is a fake Thanksgiving hosted by an expat. (And duh, pumpkin pie eating means it's now peppermint mocha time! That means from tomorrow onward, it's Christmas.)

Mmmm pumpkin pie baking away in the oven! The only thing better than eating it was seeing other people eat it for the first time here in England. Amazing.

Seriously, I have so much to be thankful for. I could make an entire list to last until next Thanksgiving! But I think that's a good start!

No matter what side of the pond you're on, Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you thankful for today? Good food? Good friends? Pickled onions? Am I the only one who likes picked onions?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Half Marathon Training Week 4

Hello! Hope everyone had an amazing weekend!

Let's see how my half marathon training is getting on!

I read something earlier in the week. It's a well known quote so forgive me for sounding like a teenaged Tumblr account. (I don't actually have a Tumblr, is that the sort of thing people post?)

(If your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough)
(Side note: this picture was taken in Hawaii.)

I've seen this quote time and time again.

But this week when I saw it, it just really hit home. 

Every time I see a longer distance on my training sheet or look up at a hill (read: Florida Girl Hill), it makes me nervous for failure. I don't want to have to stop running during a long run. I don't want to huff and puff my way up an incline that many people could probably do in their sleep. And come February, I don't want to see 13.1 miles and feel dread.

But the truth is, if your dreams don't scare you, you should be aiming for something bigger then, shouldn't you?

And right now, 13.1 miles scares me. But that just means I've set my sights on something big instead of settling for something easy.

That's as deep as I'll be getting today; let's see what went down this week! 

Monday - LRR group run. We did hills. Lots and lots and lots of hills. We did 3 laps up and down this long hill that circled a sports center. That was difficult, but it was nothing compared to "Golf Course Hill". Forgive me while I have a moment to settle my PTSD from this godawful hill. It started off okay. And then it just went up. And up. And kept going up. Then it flattened out a bit, which was a joke, because then it got even worse than it did before! I swear there was a point where my feet were moving and I was trying to run, but I was going literally nowhere. I was just stomping in place like a mad person trying to run my way up this beast. THAT'S how steep it was. I hate you, Golf Course Hill. You suck. 

(At the end, someone with a Garmin said that we did between 5.75 and 6 miles that night. Not bad for a Monday!)

Tuesday - OFF

Wednesday - 4 miles

Thursday - 3 miles

Friday - OFF

Saturday - 7 miles, which is a new personal distance! Too bad I felt miserable throughout the whole run...

I started off with the park run 5K. I was absolutely positive that it was my worst park run yet because I have never felt so exhausted or fed up with a run in my whole life. I literally couldn't wait for it to be over. Happy to say that I got a surprise PR of 31:32 for the park run! That's 10:10 per mile I somehow managed. I can't complain about that; however I wish I didn't exhaust myself as much as I did because when it was over I was like "ughhhh 4 more miles to go now!"

I spent the entire 4th mile constantly stopping and going, and doing a sort of old lady power walking through the mall maneuver. That was my attempting "running". Once my pity party was over, I tried to get into a good rhythm. Thankfully (and reluctantly), I finished the 7 miles feeling kinda sorta accomplished, but also incredibly tired and happy that my running for the day was OVER. 

Sunday - OFF

Also while we are on the subject of workouts, read this article if you get a chance. I couldn't stop reading it; I was so intrigued! I even re-read it! It's about 12 and 10 year old sisters who are endurance runners/triathletes. What are your thoughts about it? Too much for such a young age? Or it's okay because they are passionate about it?

Runners - How to you stay positive when you have a "bad run"? Do bad runs put you in a bad mood or do you just not dwell on it?
Non-Runners - Would you ever spectate a race that a friend or family member was doing? Does that appeal to you or do you find it boring?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Inside The Wardrobe: Autumn Treats/Faves

I've been following {av} for a long time now. Long before I even thought of having a blog of my own. And definitely long before I knew moving to England was possible for me. She is an all around great writer and runner, but also puts together outfits I could only dream about. (Not to mention her blog is called {long distance loving}; obviously that was my life for the past few years!) 

Which is why I'm challenging myself to go out of my comfort zone and link up with {av}'s My Friday Fancies to do a UK-friendly fashion segment. No USA stores allowed. Only online stores in the UK. Not even if they have international shipping from the States. Nope. Not allowed. The UK versions of stores, however, are allowed. (i.e. I know Top Shop is in New York and H&M is all over)

I've completely detached myself from all my old favorite stores from back in America (although, I can't seem to take myself off Sephora's email list! Can't part with them yet I'm afraid...) so it's about time I tried something new!

I remember when things I would take back with me from England were so novel and unique. So I'm going to fall in love with everything British all over again. 

I have to warn you, I'm dreadful at putting together outfits. If I could leave the house in my owl PJ bottoms everyday, I would! But seeing as I'm in my 20s, I feel like I should make an effort.

And I'd say my style is different to a lot of other women's. I hate the color pink. I like flats, not heels. I spend most of my time trying to curl my hair instead of straighten it. And I swear I am president of the LEGGINGS ARE NOT TROUSERS club (my transatlantic friend knows what I'm talking about).  

Story of my life.

So you have been warned. You may see a lot of owls appear here. You may also hate what I have picked out. I'm sorry in advance.

This week, the theme was Autumn Faves and Autumn Treats.

Not only am I a big fan of not wearing leggings as trousers, I'm probably a bigger fan of pumpkin flavor.

Where would Autumn be without pumpkin? Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. Pumpkin Pie. Pumpkin Hershey's Kisses (Those exist, I promise. And they taste like love and magic).

My favorite thing to wake up to in autumn, however, is pumpkin pancakes on a chilly weekend.

I'm not really a fan of wearing the color orange, but I really like warm colors like peach, tan, cream, and brown. 

I'm also a big fan of legwarmers (no, I was not born in the 80s). I bought a bunch of leg warmers (which were SO HARD to find by the way!) a year or so ago to help me run in the cold when I spent Christmas in England. Then, I started wearing them to just keep me warm in general. Now they're popping up in every store I go in!

I always wear my legwarmers with my trusty UGG Boots. I wish I could own every color and style of these boots; they are amazingly comfortable no matter who says that they UGG-LY!

And of course, pumpkin pancakes done best by I-HOP, but can be made at home quite easily with pumpkin spice. (Hey, I promised I'd keep my clothing items exclusive to the UK. I did not say that meant my favorite treat as well!)

What are your favorite autumn treats? Are you a big fan of pumpkin, too?
And help me out! What are your favorite UK stores? How can I make the transition from USA to UK style?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rugby Part 2 - It's A Try Not A Touchdown

Like I said yesterday, I went to my first rugby game this past Saturday!!

Sun setting during the game. It gets dark at like 4 here! I'm really sorry Alaska, I couldn't deal with you. 

Not going to lie, I was as confused as ever. Not only is rugby not so popular in the States, I don't think it's a prime sport for anyone without the Y chromosome to watch on the regular. 

So I present to you from my point of view, a random list of things you should know about the game of rugby.

You pass backwards - And it's not counterproductive! The team lines up and passes to their teammate behind them commonly in a diagonal formation. The last person gets smashed by big, strong people on the other team and the process starts again for whichever person gets the ball.

There is no "faffing about" - (one of my fave phrases recently is faffing about, by the way) There's not so much milking the time clock as there is in, oh, every other sport. In football (soccer), if someone falls over, the player rolls around and has a bit of a moan before they realize no one cares and then they get back up. In rugby, no one stayed on the ground for longer than 3 seconds unless they were piling on top of the ball and/or the opposite team.

It makes American Football look like elegant dancing - Okay maybe that's a stretch. Not to offend my own country's sport, but look at what rugby players wear compared to what American football players wear. Rugby, from what I've watched, is a lot more violent; it's also acceptable to be violent (within reason, obviously).

See? No big shoulder pads!

They stop the clock - In football (soccer) it's all go go go go go and they don't stop the clock, which is great. In rugby, the clock stops. It was nice for me because I could ask my dumb questions and not feel like I was speaking to the entranced, focused, and seemingly brain dead people around me. 

The scrum; it's actually mightier than it sounds - Basically the teams bunch up in a violent head to head huddle in order to get the ball. Lots of GRRRRs and grunts heard from the Ref Link earpiece. I had to ask the Fiance what the referee was saying because due to the accent and the poor quality of the radio it sounded like the ref was just saying "punch!" Apparently, it was "touch". I think "punch" would have been more appropriate....

The people are like, 12 feet tall!! -Well, maybe they're not 12 feet tall all the time. That would be craziness. But during a "line out" (done after the ball goes out of bounds), the players can get lifted up really high into the air in order to get the ball. Pretty awesome.

No, not interpretive dancing. It's a statue outside the stadium of the players getting lifted into the air!

It's called a try, not a touchdown - Don't say touchdown. You'll get evil looks. A "try" is the touchdown equivalent in rugby. Except once the team runs it into their "end zone" (called the try line), it must be put on the ground with full control by the player. So technically, if the team is inching towards the try line, the other team can block the ball with their hand to prevent them from scoring. Likewise, if the ball stumbles out of the players hand behind the try line, it doesn't count either. Tricky, isn't it?

So there you have it! Everything useful you need to know about the game of rugby.

Oh the points system you ask? Just listen to the amount of enthusiasm of the drunken people behind you singing "Swing low, sweet chariot" to determine whether or not your team is winning. That's what's more important.

If you were visiting the UK from abroad, or you had friends/family visiting the UK from abroad, would you rather go to a football (soccer), cricket, or rugby game and why?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rugby Part 1 - England For The Win!

Saturday was an exciting day for me. I went to my first rugby game!

England vs. Fiji in Twickenham. 

And although I went into it not knowing all of the rules (actually, I think I just knew they passed backwards and they wear short shorts) I left absolutely loving the game.

Full and massive stadium!
England team lined up

I was incredibly excited for the game itself, but I was probably more excited for this:

It's Fiji dancing! No just kidding...

I wish I could say Fiji put on an exciting dance number with perfect choreography and song lyrics titled Rubgy: The Musical, but I can't. That would be hilarious though. 

I can say that Fiji did a version of the Haka. Basically it's a war cry/chant with lots of stamping and shouting. And I was genuinely amused.

Also, what made the game even more amazing was this:

Side note: My fingers look really strange here. There was a string holding it around my neck and I was trying to take a pic and hold the stupid string out of the way but it just looks like I'm missing some fingers.

It's called Ref Link. You purchase this little radio-like box with an earpiece and it connects you to everything the referee is saying. It was a bit crackley, but it was really cool hearing all the calls that were being made on the field. And you could hear lots of the grunting and general rugby playing man noises when the refs were close enough to the action. That was pretty funny.

Imagine hearing all the GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR throughout the game. Thanks Ref Link!

England absolutely annihilated Fiji. That was nice. There are not many things worse than your team losing (as I've discussed before), especially when you've traveled to London and still have a dreary ride back home. Losing just sucks.

The final score. Go on England!

Yeah and everyone who said "rugby is just like American football!" lied. These are the same people who say cricket is just like baseball. LIES.

To sum everything up, I now can say I've been to and enjoyed a rugby game. Obviously, I think I'll stick to running. I won't be a former dancer turned running enthusiast turned rugby all star any time soon. But it was a great game to watch and I can't wait to do it all again!

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 - my American/expat list of things you should know about rugby when you know virtually nothing about rugby to begin with. Lots of differences between rugby and other sports. Lots of Americanisms. Lots more reasons to get excited!

Have you ever been to a rugby game? What do you think of the sport? Exciting? Too violent? If it's not popular where you live, do you wish it was? Anyone want to take a beginners Haka class with me? (kidding, kind of) 
What are some of your favorite sports to watch? Do you prefer watching on TV or at the stadium? 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Half Marathon Training Week 3

I'm doing Meghan's link up for the first time to do a "Weekly Workouts Roundup" and I'm a hella excited! Although, I'm a day late because I had my 11/11 wishes planned for yesterday, so this is LAST WEEK'S workout schedule. 

As I've said before, I'm an expat and everybody knows it. But I'm also a half marathon training, pavement hitting, slow runner with lots and lots of goals for these upcoming months!

This week that just passed started Week 3 of my 17 week plan. Weeks 1 and 2 went completely as planned and were very mild. My training only really calls for 3 running days, but I normally do 4. This week, however, I did 3 just because I was busier than anticipated.

As far as time/pace goes, I'm running absolutely blind. And that's how I like it.

When I used my Nike+ app, I would just obsess over my time/pace and get really discouraged. My iPod touch broke a few months ago and I think it's the best thing that ever happened to me. Now I just run for feel. I don't even look at my phone to check the time when I start running anymore. The only day where I know my time/pace is on Saturdays.

But let's get to the week now shall we....

Monday - These are the nights I spend with the running club I just joined! (Check that off my expectations list!) Honestly, joining the running club (called Lordshill Road Runners; LRR for short) has been a great decision not only for my running but for meeting new people in the area. I was nervous at first because I'm not so great with the whole "group setting" thing. Everyone there was beyond nice and helpful. Every week has been something new and challenging that I definitely wouldn't have done myself. And the best part is, everyone is really supportive throughout the run, saying "well done" or providing extra motivation.

Getting back on topic, this week we did sprints because it was freezing outside! We took turns sprinting to and from different posts at different distances. Also got to see loads of fireworks since it was Fireworks Night! It was such a blast (no pun intended), and now I always look forward to my Monday night runs with the LRR!

(I don't know specifically how far we ran this night. I'm guessing around 3 miles in total.)

Tuesday - OFF (since I just ran Monday night!)

Wednesday - 3 miles in the park. Nothing fancy!

Thursday - OFF

Friday - 6 miles and I haven't stopped talking about them since! This was my "long run" day. I know 6 miles isn't really considered a long run for lots of people, but it was for me!

I decided to do 2 laps of my normal 3 mile run (I'm a math genius over here, I know) which meant 2 inclines.

(When I say inclines, I mean "Florida Girl Hills".)

To be honest, this was probably one of the best runs I've ever had. I keep goofy smiling through the middle and at the end because it just felt really great to have accomplished something I never thought was possible. Not once did I need to stop, nor did I ever feel like death in the middle or do my usual "BECOME A RUNNER?! WAS THAT A JOKE, TAYLOR?!" internal monologue. I just ran.

And the best part was, I felt like I could run more when I was done. That just blew my mind. Because sometimes after I do 5K I'm like, "Well, crap. If this was a half marathon I'd still have 10 more miles to go!!" (Replace crap which a more colorful word actually.) But I didn't feel like that.

For the first time, 13.1 miles actually felt possible.

Saturday - OFF this week. Normally I do the Southampton Park Run on Saturdays which is absolutely amazing. It's a free, timed 5K in the park. (These runs are held all over the UK so look out for them in your area!) All you need is to register online and print out your unique bar code. These are my only runs in which I know my time.

(2 weeks ago, my time was 32:24. 1 week ago, my time was 33:18)

Saturdays are my targeted "long run" training days. So I've been either adding some miles before and/or after the 5K. It's been working out really well for me to get up and motivated, especially on a Saturday morning. This week I obviously did the long run on Friday instead.

Sunday - OFF

Now I have some random questions for you...
Runners - Do you smile or do a courtesy wave at people walking/running towards you when you are out on your run? Or do you just focus ahead of you and not make contact?
Non-Runners - If someone is running past you and smiles or waves politely, do you think "Aw how nice"? Or do you think they're weird/creepy/someone put too much sunshine in their cereal this morning? Are you inclined to smile/wave back?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

11/11/11 Revisited

On November 11, 2011, I randomly wrote down 11 wishes. 

(I kind of like dates like that... 11/11... because no matter where you are in the world, it's the same! There's no month/day day/month drama.)

I used to make wishes on 11:11 as a kid. Sometimes I still do if I see it, but most of the time I just wish for things to work out. I don’t really think about specific wishes anymore. I just say “I wish for things to just work out the way that they should.” When I was little, though, I used to wish for stupid things like green eyes or that Hogwarts letter that never quite made it my way. (It's because I'm American, isn't it?!) 

So I'd like to revisit my 11 wishes that I never shared with anyone (until now!) and see how everything turned out a year later. All wishes are written verbatim from my list. 

1. I wish to do well in my final semester of school. I guess I did that, I mean, they gave me a degree in December 2011. Wahey!

Christmas tree and a cap and gown! Yes!

2. I wish for my car to remain functioning and not cause me unwanted stress or cost me boatloads of money (no that is not 3 wishes in one!) Oh dear, I was having so many car problems around this time last year. Well my car lasted me until I left for England (kind of) so I suppose my wish came true. 

3. I wish for the gods of tipping to be good to me in my last couple of weeks at work (mostly so I can give good Christmas presents to my boyfriend) Aww, aren't I thoughtful. I bought loads of stuff on Black Friday that year, so I guess the gods of tipping fulfilled their part of the deal! Has anyone else been a waiter/waitress before?

Harrods Christmas tree! There's just something about Harrods' Christmas lights!

 4. I wish to have a happy and healthy Christmas in England (and for his family to have happiness and healthiness, too!) I remember writing this because there were some hard times going on for the Fiance's side of the pond prior to Christmas. Despite that, we had a lovely Christmas as always! 

5. I wish my niece gets well soon! She has pneumonia! Never fear, my little trooper got better! 

6. I wish I could run faster for longer periods of time. Well, I'm still super slow. But I think I'm getting better! I can run further than I thought was possible. And come February, I'll be running 13.1 miles no matter what!

7. I wish I didn't always get so discouraged. Back to the running, of course. A year ago, I think I was in a less confident place with my pace and personal records. But now I just think, hey, I'm faster than you on the couch. So there! 

8. I wish I still danced. I can honestly say I no longer wish that. I danced when I was 2 all the way until I was 18. It was my life. And I'm seriously surprised I wished for that a year ago! Because now I don't care that I don't dance anymore; I've left that part of my life behind me. I have lots more things that make me happy. 

What an outfit.

9. I wish I could settle down in a place that you could walk everywhere and get easy public transportation and find a career in a place that will make me happy and pay the bills plus some! (I understand, 11/11/11 gods, that is a very loaded wish) This was literally my life one year ago. I was still a student. I worked in a restaurant. And I hated my car for causing me so much grief. And now, look where I've settled down! England! 

10. I wish I could eat healthier for cheaper! (Very awkward phrasing but the meaning is there.) That's really random. I guess I was on this Whole Foods kick back then and wanted to eat healthier. I guess I should get back into that mentality seeing as I have a wedding dress to fit in to.... 

11. I wish to have fun and remain safe on my Disney Cruise Line contract and have boatloads (PUN INTENDED) of internet access so I can talk to (the Fiance) about my adventures. That happened! I had fun, I remained safe, and I spoke to Alex as much as possible! I'm going to say thank you wish #11 because I never contracted norovirus and I came back alive! And I had LOTS of adventures! (By the way I used his real name in the wish. He wasn't my Fiance yet!) 

Yep, I got paid to do that in Hawaii.

I can't believe it; so much has changed in a year! Lots of great things have happened, and 2012 isn't even over yet! Thank you, gods of 11/11/11 for working your magic! 

What do you wish for on 11:11? Did anyone else make 11 wishes on 11/11/11?