Marketplace Europe – Nottingham Global Market

Over the last few days, the Old Market Square in Nottingham has played host to the Nottingham Global Market, put on by Marketplace Europe. I won some vouchers to spend at the Market, so I headed out there on Saturday to check it out. I don’t particularly like driving into town and parking can get expensive, so I took the bus instead (the weather wasn’t nice enough to ride).

I got £50, so I picked up some coffee, foccacia bread, cured meats, nuts, and some food for later (paella, stewed mushrooms and roasted potatoes with chicken). It was a nice market, but it wasn’t anything particularly special. I don’t know what else I was expecting.. maybe just more international food goods to take home, rather than having to eat it there. It also would have been better if Minh was there, then he could share more food with me instead of me only getting to try some things since I was by myself.

Eating Well(ish)

It’s that time of week again where I recap what I ate (mostly dinners) this week. I’m getting to a point now where I’m really tired of cooking for myself and can’t wait for Minh to be home. Less than a week until I see him in PUERTO RICO!!!

Nothing special about the meals, but I did want to say something about the chia pudding.I got the recipe from a new blog I’ve started following - Domesticate Me. With the only exception of cutting the recipe in half, I followed it exactly just to see how it would turn out. I used all almond milk instead of the optional Greek yogurt 50/50, and it turned out runnier than I was expecting. It was still good, but not sure if I would call it “pudding” – it could have been a drink, like a thick milkshake. So, I added the Greek yogurt when I actually ate it, which overwhelmed the flavors of the chia pudding. Next time, definitely going with 50% almond milk and 50% Greek yogurt.

{expat diaries} Half Way Point

Last Friday (April 4) marked the one-year mark of when Minh and I arrived in the UK. That means we are now HALF WAY through my assignment. Since Minh is still in California, I celebrated it by staying home alone and watching movies. That’s pretty much every night for me since Minh isn’t around. I had some time, so went through and picked out one picture for each month that we’ve been here for the last year… makes me realize just how much we’ve actually done this year.

As much as Minh and I lament about all the things we don’t like about living here or miss by not being home, I have to admit that we did get around quite a bit. And since we only have a year left, I’m hoping we try to make the most of it. Already between now and the end of July, we have four international trips (Puerto Rico + Carribean Cruise, Amsterdam, Paris, Venice) and five UK trips (course marshalling for Rat Race Dirty Weekend at Burghley House, Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, The Wall Run, Tour de France Le Grand Depart, Edinburgh weekend). The year should fly by, right?

California Living

Trying to cram a year’s worth of catching up and hanging out in three weeks is extremely hard. Pair that with two weddings and work makes it all that much more difficult. But I think I managed to get some really good quality time in with my friends and family while I was home. Here’s are some highlights of what I got up to while I was home…

Opened a massive amount of packages filled with NEW CLOTHES! But Minh also said that with all this new clothes that I wasn’t allowed to buy anymore clothes. So I had to start paring down my wardrobe, with a pile going to my BFF and a pile going to charity.

Celebrated Anni-palooza: Bachelorette Weekend in Carlsbad - mani/pedi – Anni and Morgan’s Wedding – Disneyland – 33rd Birthday Dinner

Hanging out with my favorite Asian (Angie): Beer Flights at the Bruery – campfire hangout at Minh’s “secret spot” – climbing at SenderOne

Several visits to SenderOne Climbing – looking forward to getting memberships when we come home permanently

Finding out that my BFF is a sharpshooter – Minh and I took her shooting for the first time at Raahauge’s

Katie and Andy’s Wedding – yea.. I only have one picture for this one…


Love this guy!

I wish I had more time at home and was very sad to leave. Was so happy to see everyone and looking forward to seeing you all again in a year!


All You Can Eat – California-style

One of the things I miss most about being away from home (after friends, family and all other familiar things) is the food. The food Minh and I have had in the UK isn’t even on the same level as the most basic of food that we can get in California. over the 3 weeks that I was home, I threw my healthy diet to the wind and ate pretty much whatever I wanted. And of course, took pictures of almost everything. Here’s a look of what Minh and I ate on my trip home… It’s not everything, but it’s most of it. There are over 100 pictures here.. so feel free to just skip over.

Here’s a list of the restaurants included in the pictures above:

VA Upper Class Lounge (LHR)In-n-OutPitfire PizzaLa Costa Resort and SpaCasa de BandiniStone Brewery World BistroFlame BroilerKelly’s Donuts & BurgersOriginal Pancake HouseWhole FoodsLemonadeFive GuysTip Top KitchenAfters IcecreamStarbucksGreenleaf Gourmet ChopshopMile Square Golf Course Banquet CenterThe BrueryThe Viking TruckPieology – Di Lien’s House – BruxieSidecar DooughnutsMochilato – Katie & Andy’s House – Istanbul GrillHaven GastropubHue OiTacos Tamazula – Book Club at Mary’s – StarfishArcGrilled Cheese TruckMatsuCasa InkaCoco IchibanyaCreamistryCom Tam Tran Quy CapRagin’ Cajun TruckThe Center ClubBread Crumb Ohana Cafe

So I’m not about to write a review for each of these places, that would take (metaphorically) FOREVER. But I did want to say something about my wedding cake. Minh and I finally got the wedding cake out of the freezer while we were home. It’s been frozen since our wedding, which was June 2012. Usually, the tradition is to freeze the top of the wedding cake and eat it at your first anniversary, but since we were out of the country for our first anniversary, it wasn’t possible. So we defrosted it and were expecting the worst. To our surprise, it was DELICIOUS! Just as good as it was on the day of our wedding. AMAZING! Big kudos to Colette’s Catering for an awesome wedding cake.

Back in the UK

I’ve been back in the UK now for just under a week. I had an awesome trip back to California and was very sad to be leaving my family and friends again for another year. I was also sad to be leaving Minh back there for another few weeks. But, I’ll see him soon enough, and a year will pass by just as quickly as the first. I’ll post a recap of my trip in the next few days.

Not much exciting has happened since I’ve been back in the UK. Just back to the grind of work and having to cook for myself. I did get rear-ended on my first day back, but it was super minor (like no dents or damage or injuries or anything and at a very very slow speed), so not a big deal. And I passed my UK Driving Test (“by the skin of my teeth” as the test facilitator said), which is good. Here’s a recap of what I’ve ate (for dinner mostly) this week..

Home Bound!

I’m so excited to be coming home TOMORROW!!! It’s been just under a year since Minh and I moved to the UK, and we’ve missed home everyday. Even though I’ll only be home for a few weeks, I’m really excited to see my family and friends, and eat all the glorious food we can’t get here.


Packed and ready to go!

Here’s a quick look at some of what I’ve eaten this week. Nothing special, but still keeping it healthy. This isn’t everything, but a good sampling of what I cooked for myself.


Top row: (1) quinoa cake, poached eggs, spinach, avocado. (2) broccoli and cauliflower pasta bake. (3) rice cake with peanut butter and banana.
Middle row: (1) spinach salad with roasted portobello a and boiled eggs. (2) fresh veggies and hummus with dukkah spice.
Bottom row: (1) marinated tofu, sauteed portobello and brussel sprouts, baked sweet potato fries. (2) sweet potato and green pepper hash, tofu and avocado. (3) quinoa cake and roasted portobello, brussel sprouts marinated tofu.

Ready to stuff my face starting tomorrow!

End of February – Meals this Week

Since Minh’s been gone, I’ve been trying my best to eat really healthy. That’s not to say that we don’t eat healthy when Minh is here, but .. we don’t.. at least we don’t make any particular effort to do so. Anywho, since I’ll be stuffing my face with all sorts of yummy food when I head home on Friday, I’ve been particularly careful about not overeating in the weeks leading up to my trip home. Here’s a snapshot of nearly everything I ate this week (minus the whole fruit – apples, pears, grapes, nectarines, any duplicate meals and some snacks – seasoned popcorn, pistachios)..

So mostly ovo-lacto-vegetarian  (that means with eggs and dairy) for my meals… except for two. The tuna sandwich I had to buy at work because I forgot to bring salad dressing for my packed lunch. It’s the first time I’ve had to buy lunch at work this year. I was pretty disappointed since I’ve been really good about making sure my lunches were packed with either leftovers or simple sandwiches or salads. The other non-vegetarian meal was for convenience. I had a late(r) night (than usual) at work on Thursday and was also stuck in ridiculously non-moving traffic on the way home.. so it was just easier to toss the fish in the oven with some asparagus (added in for the last five minutes) than to try to “make” something.

Countdown to my trip home – less than a week! I’ve made a mental list of everything I want to eat when I get home, which consists mostly of stuff that I can’t get here, a few new places that have opened up in the last year, and anything that isn’t pub food.

Nottingham Light Night


Last night (Friday, Feb 28) was Light Night in Nottingham. I don’t really know what the point of Light Night is, but there were events going on around the city.. so I headed into town to check it out. Here are some pictures I took around town.. mostly at Nottingham Castle and in the City Centre.

They were projecting images onto the town hall..

Outside the castle at the Robin Hood statue, they had lined the pathways with mason jars decorated by kids around town.. I took A LOT of pictures of those

At the castle itself, they were projecting WWI images onto the castle, had WWI sing-a-longs around the grounds, and other WWI related activities.

There were also art installations around town.. some with bikes, some interactive. The businesses and buildings around town also lit up in pretty lights, but nothing really really special…

One last random picture unrelated to Light Night.. but found this random Minion balloon that got stuck in a window dome.. :-)


On my own – Week 1

Minh’s gone back to California a few weeks before me, just to get some stuff done and get away from here. That means I need to take care of myself for a few weeks until I fly home. You would think being a responsible adult would mean that I could do that.. and normally you would be right.. but I was a bit at a loss on his first day gone (Tuesday). After stocking our fridge with groceries so I wouldn’t starve, things started to look up. Here’ s a look of what I ate, just to show everyone that I CAN still cook for myself…

  • Wednesday/Thursday Lunch - Mixed greens salad with avocado, mushrooms, red pepper, carrots, celery, cucumber and tuna
  • Wednesday Dinner - Veggie eggroll spring rolls, Cadbury Creme Egg (only one)
  • Thursday Dinner – Sauteed Lemongrass Shrimp with Quinoa and Bok Choy
  • Thursday Night Movie Snack – Plain popcorn with smoked paprika and parmesan
  • Friday Lunch – Chicken Soup
  • Friday Dinner – Bird’s Eye Simply Breaded Cod Fillet with Pepper/Mushroom Quinoa and Broccoli
  • Saturday Lunch – Quinoa Stuffed Bell Pepper

Also.. since Minh was not here, I got to use his extra “closet” during the week.. the “closet” is actually the couch in our bedroom that Minh just throws his clothes on during the week. I put my clothes away Saturday morning, but here’s the pile of work clothes that I wore this week.


Less than two weeks to go and I’ll be home! So excited!