All good things are wild and free

Dear winter, we can’t wait to see you but thanks for being a late this year.

I know, more hiking. I’m the new non-paid social ambassador for REI. The only way to walk off a turkey is by hoofing it up a mountain. New weekend, new path.

The sunny balmy weather was too good to pass up. We found a new mountain a short drive from our house. The mountain didn’t seem steep until we were directly underneath it. I needed an oxygen tank to get up to the top. There were a few stops along the way. At the top the wind took us away, literally. We could lean into the wind and it would hold us up. I have the chapped cheeks to prove it. It’s all fun and games until you end up with snot all over your face. Thanks, honey.

The views of Shropshire on the clear day did not disappoint. We are spoiled rotten. And so were the fat, fat sheep we saw.

The biggest surprise came on the drive home. We saw dozens of wild horses. They were absolutely beautiful. My first reaction, “That’s not a sheep?!”

We ended the perfect Sunday Funday at Bridges with a warm fire and pints.

You’d think we would have run out of places to amuse ourselves, but leave it to Andrew to find new trails.

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Thanksgiving Turkey & Party Hats

The Native Americans gave us corn. The English gave us party hats and balloons.

We celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday with our close mates. Today, I am thankful for water and the fact that our terrace is still standing. Andrew and I cooked the turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole and we asked everyone to bring their favorite dish. Due to our European living, the oven was too tiny for a proper turkey so we cooked two breasts, and we had to cram all the pilgrims into our living room.

In short, it was absolutely amazing. I can’t compare it to Thanksgiving back home, but it was like a glorified dinner party with good friends.

My favourite comments:
– This turkey is the best I’ve ever had. Better than Christmas dinner.
– What is this pecan thing?
– I’ve never had anything like this.

Whilst the turkey was a hit, I would like to say that my sweet potato casserole was a close second. Thanks Norak for the recipe, it’s being passed around in England now. We’ve gone international, girlfriend. I also made carrot (cup)cakes; it’s what a girl has to do when she can’t find proper pumpkin pie or Karo syrup. It was the first go for making the dish my mom has always made and Andrew took his first pass at gravy. Delish. We’re good cooks, what can I say.


The locals brought Yorkshire Pudding and delicious cheeses for snacks and dessert. Yes, there is such thing as a dessert cheese that will blow your mind.

The best gift from our mates, party hats and balloons. They weren’t exactly sure what to wear or what goes on during the American’s traditional Thanksgiving. We wore the party hats all night and the balloons were entertaining to say the least.

Growing up with Thanksgiving you know the ins and outs of the holiday food and family traditions. When our friends asked us questions about ‘what to wear, what to bring, what time do people eat, how much food is there, is it bigger than Christmas,’ it puts things into perspective. I sincerely enjoyed watching the locals take part in our American holiday. It’s fantastic to share your culture and ultimately create new celebrations amongst new people.

And it’s officially Christmas. Happy holidays, y’all!

Happy Birthday To My Dad


Today is my father’s birthday. I could gush about my dad for days. I would say he’s the greatest father in the world, but don’t most kids? What is a great dad? By definition:
Great: great/grāt/ (n) A great or distinguished person.
Father: fa•ther/ˈfäT͟Hər/ (n) A man in relation to his natural child or children.

My dad is all those things, but most importantly he was there for me. Any man can be a father but it takes someone special to have a close relationship with their child. Greatness is about what a person gives, and the sacrifices my father made for me is why I am what I am today.

I have dozens of childhood memories with my dad. He’s the only one who could get me to go to sleep at night, take me to McDonald’s for my Happy Meal religiously every Friday, do my hair (yes, true story), fry me bologna, teach me about football, push me to graduate a year early, show me the importance of keeping my big mouth shut, trust me to find the right man, share his humor and wit. I still remember coming home from a rough week at college and piling up on the couch with my dad for a nap. I will always be his little girl.

I wish everyone a close relationship with their father, it is important to find strength in a good man. Beyond being an exceptional father, he is a wonderful man. He is madly in love with my mom, strong in his faith, friend to many.

So today, let’s celebrate a good man, albeit a little older. Happy Birthday, daddyo.

An Open Letter To My Family: It’s Thanksgiving in America, and Thursday in England.

Hiya’ll,

It’s absolutely perfect weather today in Shropshire for Thanksgiving. Since this country will not give me a proper Thanksgiving, I’m bringing one here. I popped up out of bed this morning like a spring chicken and ran my own Gobble Jog. Team Renegade. I even wished someone I bumped into whilst running a Happy Thanksgiving. That should leave them confused for most of the morning. I’m getting set to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade and we even get the Lions game live!

How long has Nanny been up with the turkey? Did you name the turkey this year? Law knows she’s been cooking for a week. I’d give anything for that woman’s baking right now, mmm pies. However, you know it’s going to be hard topping last year’s BEST THANKSGIVING EVER. Andrew’s PPT of recipes, sticking his hand up the wrong end of the turkey, and conventional naming of the turkey. Oh, Norman.

It’s my first Thanksgiving not being with you crazies and I knew this holiday would be hard. Who am I kidding, I’ve been crying off and on for a few days. It’s when I see stupid holiday commercials, like these ones for mince pies. I don’t even know what those are, but the families look so happy eating those little pies. Niagara Falls, Frankie Jr. You know I would give anything to be in the metropolis of Jasper right now.

I have much to be thankful for. Thankful for Mikey becoming an honest man, mom for owning running, dad for doing the impossible. And Nanny for reading to me when I’m on the phone, for hours. My heart is full.

I simply say thank you, to my beautiful family, for all that I have. I am thankful you understand that Andrew and I had to make our own journey together overseas and supporting our dream, and being jealous of our travels (mwahaha).

Happy Thanksgiving. Please know this means we’ll have to double-up on the celebrations at Christmas. Love and miss you turkeys.

xx

Just Another Wednesday

If I was back home I would be getting geeked out at the impending Thanksgiving holiday.

I am in England, with a fake tree in our car boot that is currently being held hostage by the Grinch. Andrew says we need to wait until after “our” Thanksgiving on Saturday to whip out the Christmas tree. He may have won this small battle, but little does he know that whilst he is work today I’m going to scour this town for Christmas decorations. Jingle my bells.

As for how I will be celebrating the proper Thursday Thanksgiving, this will be me tomorrow, sitting on my couch watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade with a box of tissues.

If you want to know the British take on our American festivity, please read the following. “How to have a modern Thanksgiving.”
Yes, it’s Thanksgiving time in America, that special holiday marking the Anglo-Saxon invasion of someone else’s country, which Americans celebrate by eating sweet potatoes and marshmallows. Mixed together, naturellement.

Grazie, Rome

Where do I even begin. Rome was spectacular. Nothing I write will do the trip or the city justice. It is truly something you have to experience for yourself. The sheer size of the buildings in Rome leave you in awe. There is a part of the city that feels vaguely familiar because you have seen these historic images throughout your life.

When looking at Ancient Rome, things built before Christ, it doesn’t even register that you are looking at something that old that stands for such opulence and power. Andrew is a history buff and it was amazing walking around places you have only read about for years.

The Vatican: you could spend days in here without seeing it all. We took a guided four-hour tour, worth every penny. Otherwise you would stroll right by history. I was overwhelmed by the size and meticulous details of all the rooms. Priceless. Absolutely invaluable. We were bigger fans of Raphael’s works than Michelangelo. Doesn’t that sound awful? The Sistine Chapel was uniquely beautiful. Standing under the famous scene of God touching Adam you look up and know you have seen that image a million times but can’t believe you are standing directly under it. It was St Peter’s Basilica that blew us away. The Vatican is all about The Sistine Chapel and when we walked into St Peter’s my heart stopped. How could I have not known a great deal about the gargantuan, elaborate, opulent church? Saint Peter’s Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world. And there we stood. More money that God, I get it now.

Ancient Rome: I remember someone telling me that we’d be disappointed because the Colosseum was smaller than you imagine. Um, compared to St Peter’s maybe. It gave me chills. It was huge and still in relatively good shape. You try to imagine what the sounds would have been like in the amphitheater. Walking through the nearby Roman ruins you see where Ceaser lived. The marble and stone is gorgeous.

Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and the Pantheon were equally as impressive. OK, the steps ranked low on our list. Throwing a coin in the fountain was awesome, and it was crawling with tourists. The Pantheon is historic in its own right. 2,000 + years later, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. Brilliant builders. All of these monuments, buildings, churches, you can’t help but compare to things you’ve seen in the states. I quickly learned there is a distinct reason why the White House is indeed a “house.”

I adore the Italian language. Romantic and beautiful. Although, having to learn Brit-Speak then Italian I fumbled a lot with my words. I was more apt to say “gracias.”

The food was lovely. Some of the best dishes Andrew and I have ever eaten, and he loves to eat. The pizza and pasta is fresh and covered with the perfect amount of olive oil. Simple but divine. You know I love me some coffee, Italy is it. There is a reason you don’t see a Starbucks in Italy. Respect. Don’t think I have forgotten to talk about the wine. Vino della casa is the house wine, always good and cheap. Tuscan is still my fave.

We stayed off the beaten track in Trastevere. Since we don’t like chain restaurants and uber touristy areas, this place was perfect. Our bed and breakfast hotel was quiet and charming.

I’ll leave with you with a short list:

  1. The city smells like candles at night.
  2. Paintings are like your first love. You either love them, or you don’t.
  3. Rome is one industrious little nation. (A’s words, not mine.)
  4. You will get hit by a car or scooter. People in the city can’t drive for crap.
  5. When ordering wine: Vino Della Casa.
  6. You can see Rome in 3 days.
  7. Sunday is the best time to walk around the city.
  8. November was a bit cool, but nice during the day. I can’t imagine going in the summer. Stinky.

I guess I was able to find a “few” words to describe Rome. I am beyond blessed to have the experience to travel. Already looking forward to more European vacations.

Travel: The Only Thing You Buy That Makes You Richer

When we moved to the UK we made a list of our top European destinations to visit. First on my list was Italy. Happy wife, happy life. We’re heading to ROME!

I’ve been practicing Italian all week:
Spaghetti: spaghetti
Ferrari: Ferrari
He’s hot: è caldo
More wine: più vino

Should be enough to get me by.

I’m looking forward to the architecture, the food, the history, the romance. ALL of it.

We’ll be gone a few days; I’m sure you’ll find ways to keep entertained. I will be sure to come back with loads of obnoxious pictures from all the uber touristy things we are doing.

I’ll tell el Pepo The Pope ciao for y’all!

Five By Five

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.

Five things you don’t know about me:

  1. I have successfully predicted all of my close friend’s pregnancies. I dream that a friend is pregnant and immediately call my gals and, sure as sugar, one of them will be pregnant. It’s the only time I have dreamt about someone being pregnant.  Freaky, I know.
  2. I listen to Christmas music when I’m stressed out. Yes, even in June.
  3. I appeared in an NSync video. Yea, be jealous. I was the one crying and holding a poster. It was beautiful.
  4. I started running after watching Lance Armstrong in The Tour de France. Seeing his performance had a profound effect on me.
  5. I can’t go one day without talking to someone in my family. Via email or phone, I harass someone I love on a constant basis.

Five things I’m good at:

  1. Whistling. It’s my party trick. I can call a man from a mile away, works well when the hus wanders off.
  2. My job. I am dayum good at working in communications. I have a passion for my work and have been blessed to work with some amazing, and famous, people.
  3. Baking. Move over Betty Crocker and Sandra Lee. It’s fun, you work with sweets and everyone loves a cupcake.
  4. Making people laugh. I get my wit from my father and I am fortunate to have the gift to make people smile and laugh. Laughter takes the edge off, and it’s important to never take yourself too seriously. There is no better feeling than when your face and stomach hurt from laughing hard.
  5. Running. You knew that was coming, right? On my first half marathon when I came in under 2 hours, I realized I might actually have a shot at being good at running. Persistence and hard work has helped me place in races and set my half PR at 1:38 and marathon at 3:40. #bam

Five things I believe in:

  1. God and Christianity. (enough said)
  2. Forgiveness. Everyone deserves to be forgiven. It’s the whole, “let go, let God” belief. You don’t do it for anyone else, you do it for yourself to move on.
  3. Soul mates. My working week and my Sunday rest, My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song.
  4. Family. I don’t care if your family tree is a bush or a branch. Families keep you grounded. I can only hope that the family I start will have as much love as I am surrounded by.
  5. Music. It’s heartache, it’s salvation, it’s love. It’s what your feelings sound like.

End scene.

First Annual “Tom Day”

Sometimes going into a weekend with no plans turns out to be the weekend where you have the best time. This weekend we celebrated a friend. Our mate Tom was making his small screen debut on “The Antiques Road Show.” To prep for the viewing party we renamed Sunday Funday “Tom Day.”

Tom was appearing as a part of a special Remembrance edition of the Antiques Roadshow. He’s the grandson of a heroic WW2 army chaplain. To commemorate the big day, a group of us traveled around Shropshire to learn a bit of history. We were promised a “quintessential” English afternoon.

Our first tour stop was to the Ludlow Castle. Unlike the other castles Andrew and I have visited, we had to pay admission, which meant we knew it would be good. It was a beautiful, massive, castle. Loads of history. From there we stopped off at a few local pubs. And our last stop was to visit the grave of Tom’s grandfather. He is buried in a small town outside of Ludlow and the area is spectacular. Quaint, and a special place for his family.

Tom’s big tele premiere was epic and we definitely think his appearance should help bring in the throngs of birds. Think Prince William, with way better hair.

Best of all, I came up with the grandiose idea to create “friend days” where we all get together and do something that the person wants to do. Example: if Andrew decided he wanted to camp, we’d all have to go camping and all day would be “Andrew’s Day.” These days cannot fall on holidays or the person’s birthday. It’s a cool way to do something you’ve always wanted to do and bring your friends along.

Another fantastic weekend around town. This week shouldn’t disappoint, as we will be heading to Rome in a few days. November, I like you.

Be Not Merely Good, Be Good for Something.

Happy Friday sweets! I don’t know how we can possibly top the fireworks from last weekend, but we sure as sugar will try.

This time of year is my fave. We’re busy getting ready for our big trip stateside in a few weeks. It’s going to fly…

In the meantime, down to biz.