28 years ago

…this guy was born. And I’m so glad.

Happy birthday darling. I love you!


Chilly walks by the sea (with a red cup in hand)

Yesterday I took a little mid-day break from CELTA-ing to go for a seaside walk with Jon. It was brisk and pretty chilly, but we managed to time it just right, as a dark, cloudy front was creeping up behind us the whole walk home. Gotta get the vitamin D while you can!

We also hit up Starbucks on our way for a special deal that got us buy one/get one free to kick off the red cup season. I don’t know what it is, but I drink so much more Starbucks here than I ever did in Ohio….maybe it’s just a taste of home, and the fact that the CEO stopped building them on every corner and instead decided to focus on quality and fair trading (okay, I know there are issues here…). Oh, and I hate Costa and Coffee Republic and Cafe Nero, the English coffee chains. Of course I love and support all the tiny coffee shops in Brighton-I’m a Small Batch girl all the way-but I’m not saying no to two for the price of one, feel me? Anyway, to cut this coffee monologue short, it turns out that the winter flavors for coffee in English Starbucks are different-no peppermint mocha! So a gingerbread latte it was for me, and a praline mocha for the mister. And neither of our names were spelled right. This happens to Jon all the time, but choosing the more convoluted spelling of Ashley, just off the cuff? Weird.

We walked down along Adelaide Crescent and then back towards our place, sipping our coffees and enjoying the fresh air and gorgeous blue skies. Really-it was a beautiful day. Until the sun set at 4:30, which, hello, is still so early. I don’t think I’ll be getting used to that anytime soon. My body still thinks that if it’s getting dark at 4:30, it must be December, and that’s just not true over here. Hopefully I’ll adjust at some point. Probably not.

There were an intrepid few other walkers among us on the seafront. The whole vibe down there shifts so much when the season changes. All the students and families and seasonal travelers are gone, and only a few people go on the actual beach. No more laying around boozing on the rocky shores in the sunshine….

Most of the buskers are gone too. You see the more hard-core athletes, the dog walkers and the families with children on scooters (oh how I hate scooters!) and ladies like this one, ignoring the wintery temperatures and practicing her hula hooping skills barefoot, in cut off jeans and a tank top.

Rock on, hula lady. You be careful out there! I hope you don’t catch pneumonia.

And just a special shout-out to this guy, who has been extra supportive over these past three weeks while I’ve suffered through CELTA. My emotions have been on edge and I’ve had a steady stream of work, leaving all housework and most of the cooking/survival type things to fall completely on him. I am completely not carrying my weight at chez Sheets-Norris.  And he hasn’t complained one bit! What a trooper. Only one more week!

One Year

Last year on this day I married Jon, and that day was amazing and wonderful and went just as quickly as everyone says. It was hot and sweaty and we drank soju and champagne and loved each other. And even though one year really isn’t that long, I’m happy to celebrate this first milestone with my favorite guy. I love you Jon. Here’s to many more years.

Home sweet home

Coming back from Nottingham yesterday was the first time I had the feeling of being excited to go “home”  and having home mean Brighton. It was and is strange and indicative of the fact that maybe-maaaybe-I’m getting used to this place, and may even like it a tad. Home. Or maybe just a different version of it.

So Nottingham, eh? After that big night out on Friday, we slept in (almost wrote “had a lie-in” like Jon/british people say, but Americanized it for the fam and friends at home that I assume make up most of my dear readers, haha) and slowly ventured out for some shopping. It was, again, rainy and cold-like every day I was up North! But Penny knew of so many fabulous vintage/second hand/all around awesome shops that I was pleased as punch. Unfortunately it turned into one of those things where I wanted to save my money and skipped buying interesting things in the beginning in hopes I’d find something cooler later-only to regret that decision when the shops closed and I’d bought nothing. At least I saved money? But I’d carefully budgeted! Ah…disappointment. image




Since Saturday was actually Penny’s birthday, we went out to an amazing curry dinner with a bunch of her friends. Seriously, ridiculously tasty. I was dying of pleasure. And it was cheap! The English south-or at least Sussex- is so expensive, I think I’ve gotten used to it (not like I have much to compare to) so the differences in prices was a pleasant surprise. image


After dinner was, you guessed it, another night out!  Dancing and drinking a giant drink out of a sand castle bucket. For real. I had to cab it home before the birthday girl because-let’s face it-I’m old and can’t stay out so late multiple nights in a row. Not like I cut out all that early, it was 2 am! I was falling asleep on the dance floor. So yes, Penny is a professional birthday party lady. I taxied home alone to her house and freaked myself out with thoughts of someone breaking in while I was the only one there. But I had a train to catch in the morning! I needed to sleep! And even though British pubs close really early, like midnight or earlier, British clubs stay open foreverrrrrrrr. imageSo that’s about it! I woke up early. My 5 hour train ride home was infinitely more pleasant than my bus ride up. Lesson learned! Worth the extra money and much faster ( and it’s surprisingly not a huge difference in price, so I won’t be playing the cheap hero next time). Of course today Penny tells me that Nottingham was gorgeous and sunshiney and full of win, so I guess I just have bad travel luck (such as that Norris family holiday to Derbyshire a few summers ago…rained the whole time!). I have to say-I like the North. Thanks for a good time Penny and Nottingham and all the lovely people therein!image

Oh hey creepy smoke stack/nuclear reactor/ cooling towers. You look diabolical. I still think you are.


Famous Nottingham lions of some sort? image


Homeward travels, hanging out in various London tube stations. image


And finally it was home sweet home. The sun was shining and Jon made me one of his best dishes-halloumi Wellington. Nom nom nom. I missed him so! And I, apparently, missed my home, Brighton. I love to be beside the seaside, as they say. imageAnd today I started my new job! It was hectic and satisfying, and it is the fanciest dressed group of ESL teachers that I have ever met so I need to step up my sartorial game. A welcome challenge. I have gone from some freelance writing and a lot of downtime, to a regular job plus freelance writing and it’s going to be a big transition. I hope I’m ready.


Warm Fuzzies

I had a night last night that left me with an unwavering grin and warm feelings all over the place. The love was palpable. My best ladies surrounded me, showered me with negligees, Italian food, and champagne, and then we went to a dirty hole in the wall bar for PBR and bar bingo. The evening was silly, light, perfect. I am so thankful.




I’m having a bit of a debby downer kind of day today. It’s 15 degrees outside, I had my least favorite, no good, terrible class (which I didn’t actually go to-explain that in a second) AND the bus drove right by me! That’s right-and this explains the missing class-I walked to the bus stop, and as I was in viewing distance watched the bus I was supposed to be getting on zoom right by. It was early. I was early, but not early enough. Le sigh. So alas, I did not go to class. I instead trudged home to pout. And my throat is scratchy. The end.

Well, not really the end. I was thinking the other day that I’m very lucky and happy to have the friends that I do. Specifically, I was thinking about the fact that Kellie, Rachel and I met 8 years ago, when we lived in the dorms at Ohio State together (we lived in the nerdiest of all dorms-the Honors Tower-and were decidedly the least neurotic kids around, which was probably why we all became friends). We’ve always joked that had the three of us met in high school, we’d never have been friends. Kellie, the supreme athlete, Rachel, the ultra-intelligent theatre kid, and me-small town, squeaky-clean, overly chipper….but since we met in college, it all worked itself out. And 8 years, countless dance parties, drinks, dogs, boyfriends, jobs, roommates, fights, heart to hearts, apartments,  countries (for me), and one engineering degree (and almost one law degree and one master’s) later, we’re still going strong. And for that, I am thankful. Flashback time!

circa...a long time ago-i mean, i'm wearing a corduroy blazer...


my goodbye party before leaving for the Marshall Islands 2007

Fresh back from the Marshall Islands! 2008

halloween, many years ago.

my 22nd birthday-2006

an oldie and mostly baddie-two liter bottles all styled up-good times. maybe 2004?

And back to today:

New Year's eve last month!

So I guess the whole point of this is that I just want to say thanks ladies for always being there for me, whether it’s just for a boozy night out, a nice dinner, or  a chat. I love you both very, very much!