Tuesday, February 22, 2011


This post should really be titled "The dirty little secret all British women know and don't talk about".

Remember how romantically The Irishman and I joined the local council run gym last weekend, sort of for Valentines Day? Well I went to said gym for the first time on Sunday and attended my first class. I've never really been into exercise classes; I tend to run solo and practice yoga where I can just focus on myself. But when faced with the broad array of classes my membership affords me (Total Body Conditioning! Bootcamp! Interval Training!) I decided to try something new. That something new was the very British-ly- and appropriately named "Legs Bums and Tums." I figured, well, those ARE the problem areas and I was pretty pumped for it.

55 minutes later, I walked out of the room knowing I was in for some serious pain. The teacher continually urged us to IMAGINE YOUR SEXY SELF and if it hurt, LIE TO YOURSELF CUZ YOU'LL BE YOUR SEXY SELF. I was okay until we started mat work and I did 90° leg lifts in reps of 16. I also realized in that class that I lack any sort of coordination; clearly I've made it to 30 without really internalizing my left from my right. I'd like to apologize to anyone that I bumped into or kicked during leg lifts.

Two days later, I'm hobbling more than running and lowering myself into chairs like an old lady. I have full upper body function, and my legs are fine from the knee down - it's just everything in between. If I drop something (especially on the street) it's a major setback, and last night when I got home from work I cried in frustration. The funny thing is, as I painfully hobbled through the office yesterday, all of the women I talked to KNEW ABOUT THE CLASS. They were all like "Oh, yeah, LBT is a killer." Thanks, ladies, thanks for the heads up. Who knew?

Day 2 of the pain; I'm going to a client meeting today - I don't know HOW I'll manage heels! I have more flexibility though so hopefully I can retrieve the deodorant that fell behind the dresser with less difficulty than I anticipate. But all that aside: I'm totally going back next week. If it hurts this bad, it MUST be doing something good.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sushifest update

This week was pretty brutal at work and thus I'm only now recovered enough to blog... meaning that there's a lot for me to share!

So first things first, the outcome of SUSHIFEST. We made 3 types of rolls, 2 types of sashimi, and some Japanese style beef along with miso soup to start. We also had store-made seaweed salad (it is so delicious, I cannot tell you - seaweed in a sesame dressing of some sort, I could eat it at every meal) and the black sesame pudding. Here are some pictures, courtesy of The Irishman:

Sushifest Feb 2011
(please note my Valentine's Day appropriate nail polish)

Sushifest Feb 2011
All of the rolls - the beef and cabbage rolls are actually Korean and were AMAZING

Sushifest Feb 2011
The full spread

Sushifest Feb 2011
My black sesame pudding!

Delicious! Isn't The Irishman such a good photographer as well?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Random Sunday roundup: Old lady turning Japanese with ZUMBA

I have a lot to write about today, but it's all sort of unrelated and piecemeal so this post is just going to roll along. Hopefully you'll stick with it!

Last night I met up with some old friends I haven't seen in ages - we realized last night it had been a year! We met at Soho House, as one of us is a member (I can most assuredly guarantee you that it is NOT me!), and we had a lovely time catching up and reminiscing. Except: at some point during the evening, probably when we tried in vain to find an area to sit where we wouldn't be in the middle of a dance floor and could actually hear each other, I realized I am just not into the bar scene anymore. Give me a pub, with a crackling fire and dull murmuring crowd, or a coffeeshop with lively chatter, or even a cocktail bar with quiet booths for private conversation, but these raging bars where patrons are there to see and be seen are just not my scene. I had a great time with everyone last night but I think next time I'll vote to meet in a more sedate location - as befits my ancientness.

As tomorrow is Valentine's Day, The Irishman and I are celebrating today (after the Ireland-France rugby game, of course). At first The Irishman told me he was going to cook me a romantic meal; then he changed his mind because, as he put it, that's pretty much every day in our household (this is true). So he suggested we do something culinary, together. Thus, today is SUSHIFEST. Neither of us has ever made sushi before, but we love it, and we discovered that The Japan Centre sells everything you need to make your own Japanese food - sushi, curries, bento boxes - you name it, they have it! So yesterday we went to the store and bought all of our necessities including a box of black sesame pannacotta mix. I had black sesame pannacotta at one of the best sushi restaurants I've ever been to in London, Yoshino, off of Piccadilly. It is one of the most unusual and delicious flavors I've ever tasted, so I was thrilled to find the mix for us to replicate it at home. Only problem? The box has zero English on it, and only 2 diagrams. It's the Japanese cooking version of putting together IKEA furniture. Eeeps! So far they look pretty good, and I'll report how it goes.

We took a little stroll this morning up to Highbury Fields, as The Irishman wanted to check out the Aquaterra Health Centre council-run gym located there. Twenty minutes later, somehow we both signed up for memberships. WTF? I don't know how that happened. But bargain... £10 joining fee and £40 a month including all classes and 8 sessions with a personal trainer during the first two months of joining! I'm actually quite pleased about this, because I've been thinking that the running and healthy eating have definitely made a difference but I want to now work on sculpting some problem areas like my upper thighs, saddlebags, butt, and lower stomach (you know, every girl's stereotypical "problem areas"). So essentially, The Irishman got me a gym membership for Valentine's Day. Humph. At least I got ZUMBA.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sacrificing Syria

Images courtesy of Scalino

One of the downsides to accepting my new job is that I've had to accept less holiday allocation in my first year of employment than I have with my current job. Americans will grunt at me with this, given that I currently enjoy 27 days of vacation each year, but the change is significant; I'm looking at potentially having only around 16 days of holiday for 2011. Ouch.

Of course, being me, I spent January with a spreadsheet counting up holiday allowance for both myself and  The Irishman and listing out all of our obligations: wedding in April where I am a bridesmaid, wedding in France over the August bank holiday, week in Bordeaux for a family thing with The Irishman's family, a couple of days in October for the Dublin marathon, the 3 days you need for the week between Christmas and New Years. And after all that I was elated to see we had enough holiday for me to realize a lifelong dream: going to Syria.

I mention my grandmother in my "About me" blurb, but she is my inspiration for Syria. She is first generation American of Syrian-Jewish descent; her people were from Aleppo, considered one of the jewels of the Middle East and one of the places that may have the best cuisine of all the Arab states. She, her siblings, and cousins of the same generation have never been to Syria. It's never been safe enough for practicing Jews to go. Fast forward to now, and The New York Times has been writing up Aleppo and Damascus as undiscovered tourist hot-spots for the last couple years. Ever since I was in New York I was planning to do this pilgrimage of sorts, especially so that I could take some old Arabic paperwork we have in the family to have it translated and see what I could find out about the life my ancestors might have had. I really wanted to do this sooner rather than later, so that I could share my trip with my grandmother and give her a glimpse of her own history.

While it wouldn't be The Irishman's first (or probably second) choice for a holiday, I got him on board by suggesting we do a proper two-week holiday by adding on a leg in Jordan to see Petra and go on a jeep safari in the desert. I had the whole itinerary planned and set, I have been following Syria blogs like WhySoSyria and this chick traveling around the world who just left Syria, and we were both getting really excited. We decided to go in June, as the weather windows for tourists are April-June and October, and we had no other time with all of our other commitments. Then we were just waiting on my job situation before confirming all of the arrangements.

And then: devastation. I wanted to be completely above-board with my new company with my travel plans and while they were fine with a 2 week holiday, apparently June is going to be a particularly hard month for my new project and not the best time for me go away. Plus I'm on a 3 month probationary period from my start date (pretty standard in the UK) so it's not too great for me to take a ton of holiday during that time. As I spoke with the HR director, it became increasingly obvious that my dream holiday in June just wasn't going to happen. 

So I have 2 options:
1. Go to Jordan and Syria in 2012 (so far away!)
2. Go to Jordan and Syria in October (and NOT run the Dublin marathon, forfeit the £80 entry fee and take up to 10 days unpaid leave)

I know in my heart of hearts that option 1 is the most sensible route, especially given the protests in Egypt right now that could very well spill over into Jordan and other neighboring states, but let's just be honest and say IT BLOWS. I had my heart set on going to Syria for so long that I honestly don't even know where ELSE I want to go on holiday this year with the few spare days I do have! Any suggestions? Honestly, this really is such a big setback not only for me but for Mom-Mom. It was just her 83rd birthday on Tuesday (Happy birthday again!!!) and while she's fit as a fiddle and as fiesty as ever, I had to tell her this sad news and instruct her not to go anywhere anytime soon

I'm giving myself the rest of this week to wallow in this disappointment, and then I'm going to be officially over it. I promise.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I discovered this latest designer collaboration last night, probably a little late to the party but I must have a pair of these:


If you're not familiar with Marimekko (or even if you are) this video will give a good idea of their ethos:

Converse ♥ Marimekko | Converse Blog

Image courtesy of Hellosinki

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Some news

My deepest apologies for not having posted anything of real substance lately. There has been a lot going on over here in Brillville; as much as I wanted to share it with all of you, I had to wait until some of it was properly public knowledge before putting it into the blogosphere.

So basically, two things happened in the last 2 weeks:

1. I was promoted; and

2. I quit.

Okay, settle down settle down and I'll tell you the story.

I have been with my current company for nearly 5 years, and it's been an amazing place to learn, grow, make my own opportunities, and obviously move to London and start a new life here. But longtime readers of BloodyBrill will have sensed that I wasn't too happy in my role for the last 18 months; I went through some serious growing pains and cultural adjustments there that made me realize perhaps I needed to stretch my wings in order to expand my career. As I was sponsored by my company, I had to transfer to Tier 1 visa status in order to be free to find new employment without too much hassle. Once I successfully changed visa categories (anyone wanting advice, drop me a line... it was stressful but worth it!), I started interviewing. And interviewing. And interviewing. Nothing really seemed right, and I knew that leaving my current employer was going to be a big change that had to be, while not perfect, someplace that would merit cutting ties with the place where I essentially "grew up" in my industry. 

I first interviewed with my new employer in October, and shortly after my second interview there I was told I would be promoted at my current job in January. I was also given a sweet new project (the one I told you all about, where I got to go to meetings about fashion... so thrilling!) so I decided, well, hell, maybe I won't leave after all. And then I worked really hard all autumn. And all December. And then we took a huge 2 week break for Christmas and New Year and the day before I went back to work I couldn't face it: I stayed in bed all day, listless, and it wasn't just because vacation was over - it was because I had to go back to THAT job. That moment made me realize it was time to go.

Fast-forward to last week when my boss told me my promotion was finalized, and would be announced this past Friday at our company meeting. Then on Tuesday, I received an offer of employment from my new company and I had to make a decision. After much soul-searching, thinking, discussing with The Irishman, I made my choice and handed in my notice on Thursday. It was possibly the most difficult thing I've ever done, akin to a combination of saying goodbye to my parents when they dropped me off at my dorm for the first year of college and admitting to them that I'd busted a tire on my car. I know that I've made the right decision for me but I'm still reeling from the enormity of what's next: a whole new world of work, with a whole new crew of people, in a whole new office!, new new new! But that's what I've wanted for some time now, so I'm eagerly looking forward to the end of my 30 day notice period and my first day of my new job - and the chance to really soar.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


1. Holy crap I'm doing this
2. Holy crap look how much I spent to do this!
3. Holy crap I'm an EU resident!