*Long post, but worth the read
Kori Hill and I met in college (she’s the blond second to the right in the below photo from, gulp, 2006!). We became sorority sisters, and then roommates in our illegal 6 person “sorority house”.
She gave me my college fake id that never ever got turned down - thanks girl - and is also hands down one of the funniest people I know.
Like Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig level.
In fact, she used to perform her epic Sally O’Malley skit in our living room on an ongoing basis. Even visualising it now makes me crack up, but I digress.
Fast forward to 2013.
Kori wed Matt, who happened to go to the same college as Joel.
During their honeymoon period, Kori and Matt decided to pursue their passion (food!) and began working on something incredible.
'Chups - fruit-based sauces and dips (i.e. ketchup alternatives) made to enhance and brighten the traditional tomato-dominated ketchup market.
Matt wears the chef hat and Kori is team captain of marketing.
Flavors include cherry, blueberry, peach, mango, and plum.
Just imagine all the mouth watering recipes outside of the usual burger and fries.
Oh wait, they’ve taken care of that for you.
Each variety of ‘Chups uses whole fruits and other natural ingredients instead of tomatoes, but still has the same tangy and sweet zip of tomato ketchup.
While the ‘Chups brand has been growing organically in the last couple months, Kori and Matt decided it was time to take their sauce game to the next level.
Yesterday, the DC duo launched a fruit ketchup Kickstarter campaign to support their mission to diversify a tomato- dominated market.
Their goal? Raise $12,000 in startup funds to help bring ‘Chups to restaurants and store shelves.
Here’s where you come in.
Feeling inspired? Or hungry? Or both?
Don’t just sit there. Do something!
Watch their hilarious video and make a donation (big or small) to their kickstarter by clicking HERE and turn their fruit sauce dreams into delicious reality.
I leave you with a photo of tots topped with ‘Chups.
Some beach vacations are relax, lay around, snooze, repeat.
My recent trip to Cabo San Lucas was nothing of the sort. (Side note: I’m writing this at the same time I’m writing copy at work and man, that line sounds so British, doesn’t it?!)
Joel and I joined his extended family (27 of us in total!) for a jam packed schedule of fun in the Mexican sun. Thankfully, London’s winter weather to date has been fairly mild (knock on….), but that doesn’t mean the blue skies and 82 degree weather wasn’t everything I had dreamed of and more.
In case you’re curious, here’s how we stayed busy…
Activity #1: Deep Sea Fishing - I may have played the role of observer during this excursion….
But I was a very active participant in the eating of Joel’s Mahi Mahi.
The seagulls weren’t as lucky as they begged for our catch scraps.
Activity #2: Dancing - I assume I inherited it from my mama, but as soon as the Mariachi band arrived at the house, I grabbed Joel quicker than you can say “my hips don’t lie.”
Activity #3: Paddleboarding - I’m the idiot who previously watched paddleboarders and assumed “oh, that must be soooo easy.” One hour and nineteen falls later (that may or may not be an exaggeration), I finally got the hang of it and my core thanked me for the killer workout.
Activity #3: Smores - why? why not?
Activity #4: Ziplining and Rappelling - the Costa Azul canyon is beautiful, but heights continue to terrify me.
Activity #5: Whale Watching - With margaritas, cervezas, and cameras in hand, we hit the Sea of Cortez in search of some extra large flipper friends.
It must’ve been peak time because Willy and his friends were putting on one hell of a show.
However, my attention kept getting diverted to the other boat whale watching along with us. A certain female celeb crush of mine was on board (with her celeb friends) and I couldn’t help but gawk.
Activity #6: Snorkeling - Hard to think of a better way to enjoy sunset than a swim with the fishies followed by a cruise to shore.
Activity #7: Exploring - Art galleries, old cobbestone streets, local breweries, winding mountain roads.
Activity #8: Napkin Design - Ok, not really an activity, but I learned how to turn a regular paper napkin into this fancy rose. Slow clap!
Activity #9: Lounging - because…..well, yea.
Activity #10: Eating and Drinking all the Food - whether it was tasting the local cervezas, toasting the New Year with champagne, or setting records for most margaritas consumed in a day, it’s fair to say that I’m going to be reducing my alcohol intake this month. And thank goodness London isn’t known for their Mexican food. If I see another taco or scoop or guacamole…
Activity #11: Mexican Boom Boom - thank you (I think?) to the man who will go unnamed for introducing us to this local tradition. It’s one part shot, one part kidnapping scare. You can see Joel and Michael enjoying theirs by clicking on their names.
Cheers to Ed and Irene for a trip of a lifetime!
When all through Kristina and Adam’s house (slash flat),
Nine creatures were wearing ugly Christmas jumpers, but not one with a mouse.
Every dish was made from each representative country with care,
Sweden, Australia, England, Canada, and America were all there.
Our bellies were full, making us tired for bed,
While visions of secret santa gifts danced in our heads.
Wrapping was ripped and ribbons were pulled,
While “Made in Chelsea’s #1 fan” was certainly fooled.
Tea towels, whiskey sets, a cricket bat, and even a banana kit rounded out the list,
While J’s first football was no doubt the biggest hit.
And then it was time to burn off the meal,
So the Americans introduced everyone to “Heads Up”, and all was revealed.
Who knew the boys from down under were so good at twerking,
How badly I want to share the video…you all would be smirking.
Although the fete was meant to end 2013 on the right foot,
We started chatting about 2014 and decided we couldn’t stay put.
Who knows how long we’ll all be living in the UK, our lives can’t be tame,
So we each wrote down all the places we’d like to visit by name!
Croatia, Canary Islands, Tuscany, oh my!
Barcelona, Marrakech, Lake District, Dubai.
Folded up and into the box the places all went with care,
We each included two spots - one short trip and one long affair.
And then it was time to pick our final selections,
Naturally, Kristina’s surprised face is the perfect expression.
All control went out the window (sort of) as we left the destinations to fate,
Now that we have our location sorted, we just need to pick the dates.
Our melting pot of UK friends continues to inspire and delight,
And so I say….
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
This has been the month of the quick visits.
Erin came to London town for the quickest work trip in history. Fortunately, we snuck in an afternoon of catching up at the Newman Arms, famous for their traditional English pies.
In case you were wondering, they were phenomenal.
During Jen’s whirlwind trip, we camped out at Anglesea Arms in South Kensington for pint after pint. After pint.
I saw Melanie at the tail end of her London trip. When she informed me she had yet to have a Full English Breakfast, I remedied the situation at Charlie’s Cafe in Notting Hill, followed by a stroll through Portobello Market, which, yes, is far much manageable on a Sunday vs Saturday.
During her visit, Emily and I saw the Queen, amongst many other fun adventures. I let her be in charge of photography, so you can wait with baited breath to read about our adventures.
Rediscovered my Ireland iPhone photos (I forgot about them). It was perfect timing as we’re plotting a return trip with Joel’s family this Spring.
Our Aussie friends, Tristan and Jen, had us over for dinner and schooled us on everything down under. And us, in return, on everything American.
The menu included boeuf bourguignon and pie because they remembered that we served pie, instead of cake, at our wedding. It was so touching and another reminder of how lucky we are to have met such wonderful friends in London.
Returned to Borough Market (read about my first visit here). This time I went for the most adorable little quail eggs, a German bratwurst, mulled wine, and my very first taste of raclette (i.e. melting oozing cheese over potatoes.)
P.S. Joel grew out a moustache in support of Movember.
And finally, spent the actual night of Thanksgiving visiting my first German holiday market at Southbank’s Winter Festival.
Even though it was a bit cheesy, I’d venture to say it was the least cheesy of ones I’ve visited. And certainly the most rustic.
The market is also the perfect point to take in the city lights.
Trying my first kürtőskalács, also known as a “chimney cake”, which originated in Transylvania and Hungary.
It’s like a crispy on the outside, super duper doughy on the inside donut drenched in cinnamon.
I don’t even like donuts, but this treat would be worth the visit alone.
London - you’re doing December right.
"Is Thanksgiving or Christmas the biggest holiday in America?"
An American friend and I debated this question last week. She voted for Christmas, I voted for Thanksgiving.
Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving doesn’t exist on this side of the pond, but last Thursday, I felt strongly that I was missing the biggest “family” moment of the year and for a couple hours (particularly while I was working away at the office), I turned into a bit of a grinch and experienced a tremendous pang of FOMO (fear of missing out).
Then Saturday rolled around, and along with it, our Expat Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving. With a snap of a wish bone and a sprinkle of pumpkin fairy dust, all was right in the world.
Still feeling the turkey buzz, I figured I’d write a little poem to commemorate the special evening.
Alex and Barlow graciously hosted 20+ of us at their beautiful South Kensington flat,
Book/wine club members, former schoolmates, friends of friends of friends, we are all American expats.
For hours we mingled with bourbon cider, wine, and beer,
Even though there was a Brit in the room (and a Canadian!), it was full of American cheer.
Each guest prepared a dish to warm our souls and fill our plates,
While our hosts tackled their first ever turkey, which was epic and first rate.
The decor was pure Autumn - deep yellow, orange, and red,
As we indulged in pure ‘Merica gluttony, pushing us straight to the gourmet/waistband edge.
There were speeches and toasts, a true reminder of how lucky we are,
And we raised our glasses to a clink, toasting to the USA from afar.
And just when I though the night had hit its peak,
It was festive props + group photo time, making the evening truly unique.
Now I’m coming up to my ‘living in London’ four month mark,
And yes, there have been times that I’ve felt in the dark,
But how thankful I am to have met this amazing expat crew,
And kick off the holiday season the way only us Americans can do.
My spirits were particularly high since I knew that the Changing of the Guard was set to take place, an event that only happens on select days.
As this was Emily’s first trip to the UK since early childhood, I knew she’d appreciate the pomp and circumstance.
But I could have never prepared myself for what was to come…
We exited the train station and made our way to town where I immediately knew something was off.
The crowds were way too large and lining up much too early for the 11am changing of the guard. I moseyed up to the nicest security man in existence to see what was what.
Me: Changing of the Guard isn’t until 11am, correct?
Security Man: Yes ma’am, but the Queen is in residence today…
Me: SHE’S AT THE CASTLE TODAY?!?
Security Man: Well yes, but she’ll be driving through town…
Me: WE’LL GET TO SEE HER CAR DRIVE BY?!?
Security Man: She’ll actually be driving to that church (points 1 block away) to view some new stained glass. So they’ll be a little ceremony if you want to watch.
Me: [Breaths deeply] Two questions. One - is she really getting in the car only to drive 1 1/2 blocks? Two - can we just go stand by all those other people behind the barricades over there? (Pointing across the street to the growing crowds.)
Security Man: Yes ma’am, for security. And instead of standing with all those people far away over there, why don’t you just go down there (points to small side street with secret access)? You’ll be much closer to the Queen.
Me: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
We skipped our way down the road and found ourselves with the best seats in the house right next to the press. (Side note: THANK YOU FOR THE TIP, SECURITY MAN!)
And then the magic happened.
The Queen’s car pulled up directly in front of us.
As in, 20 feet away.
Liz made her way into the church with Prince Phillip a couple paces behind (because he has to…)
The doors closed and I tried to explain to Emily that this was a really big deal.
Once in a lifetime, even.
My step mother and I still talk about seeing the Queen drive by us during our visit to London in 2000.
And then ten minutes later, she emerged again…
Smiling ear to ear in her royal blue (get it?!) suit.
I like to think we made eye contact and she sent me the mental message of “You’re such a lovely ex-pat, Casey”.
Same goes for Prince Phillip.
Doesn’t he look like the definition of a cheeky fellow? (yes, that phrase absolutely applies here).
And then it was all over.
What a moment!
It’s only been 106 days since I moved to the UK, but I finally saw the Queen.
Up close and personal.
It doesn’t get any better than this (or does it?)
Royal dreams to come true.