An Open Letter to England

Dear England,

The past two years we’ve been living in the United Kingdom have been tremendous. We are forever grateful for the experiences we have had and the beautiful friends we have made. There is something truly special about Europe. It might be the history or the culture, or maybe the exquisite landscape.

Living in the “country” has spoiled us. Walking to town daily, where everything was at our fingertips. I haven’t even needed a car.

Never again in our lives will we have this type of experience. We took a total leap of faith when we picked up and moved to England. We had bumps in the road, as anyone would when adjusting to such a massive experience, but we have come out as a stronger family.

A family. How can this place not mean something special to us? This is where we had our first child. Now that was an experience in and of itself.

We grew as a family and also as individuals. Andrew and I learned something new about ourselves here, as we were not the locals. I’ve never been more proud to be an American, and I’ve never had such respect for other countries. Sharing customs and learning new ones has been a joy.

Our worldly view has changed and until you live abroad we will never be able to truly explain what this experience has meant. We came in green to international living and we are leaving with a greater knowledge of cultures.

I am thankful for everything living in England has shown me. It’s emotional and I am sure there will be days where I’ll look back in disbelief that I lived abroad.

Thank you England for being kind and welcoming us with open arms. The memories, the mates we have made will truly last a lifetime.

There isn’t a good way to sum up these past years; all we can do is smile at everything that has happened on this incredible island.















Making Bank

This weekend was absostinkinlutely brilliant. England’s on to us. I soaked up every ounce of Shropshire.

The hills are a magnificent shade of green, sprinkled with little lambs. The rapeseed fields are the brightest yellow. Mr Crayola must have lived here. Simply can’t describe the beauty and colours.

Our tans have returned!

I found myself getting emotional about leaving. It’s crazy to think our time, our adventure, is winding down. We are going back to some of our favourite spots. The weather is perfect and now we get to show Ryder. It’s been bizarre to think we’ve lived in England. We have experienced such a dynamic, beautiful culture, and we made the best memories.

With the few days we have left in our cute, unique, English townhome, we are slowing down. Enjoying the crazy hours of daylight, the long walks around town on the Severn river, the best local markets and shops.

We are going to be gutted to leave this place, with no time to rest as we jump right into sorting our next home.

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Don’t Mind If We Do

London is a tropical destination.
I can still stay up later than those without a baby.
You can rank breakfast sandwiches.
It’s bad luck to have a full cabinet of wine glasses.
Hotel lobbies make for a great photo shoot.
Baby flamingos are the cutest.
Don’t ever, ever try to justify watching FOX News. Ever.
We know where the Queen gets her eggs.
Rowing. Regatta. So posh. Little boats all over the place.
Even Britons can be in shock over the weather.












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The Weekend File

The weekend was busy. Petting lambs, dinner party, birthday party kind of busy. The hus got back from gallivanting in the states for a week. Three countries and nine flights; he was a bit shattered returning home. When the words, “Let’s power nap,” came out of his mouth on Saturday I could hardly contain myself. The only thing more exciting would have been, “Let’s go get ice cream.” Low maintenance.

Loads to get sorted this week. Booking anniversary travel plans and I owe you my ewe-nique encounter with the lil lambs.

Sidebar, there is a rumour going around about White Chocolate M&Ms. It’s a good thing my flight is already booked otherwise I would be on the next plane M&M over.

Photo Of The Week

“If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do.” -Warren Miller

How predictable am I with this week’s photo? The pictures we have from Chamonix are absolutely breathtaking, and considering my only camera was the iPhone, I could not have been happier with some of the shots.

There are but a handful of moments in your life where you see something that will either a) take your breath away or b) make you immediately want to tell someone who was not there about it.

In Chamonix, the second the clouds moved and I had my first glimpse of the mountains, I suddenly realised how much of the world is out there that I have not seen. You feel small. We saw the highest peak in Europe. You’ve seen such beauty in a National Geographic magazine or on the Discovery Channel, but once you stare it in the face your entire vocabulary is taken away. How can something familiar look new?

John Mayer has a song called 3×5 that somewhat describes the feeling I had:
Today skies are painted colors of a cowboy cliche’
And its strange how clouds that look like mountains in the sky
are next to mountains anyway
Didn’t have a camera by my side this time
Hoping I would see the world through both my eyes
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I’m
in the mood to lose my way
but let me say
You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes
it brought me back to life
You’ll be with me next time I go outside
No more 3×5’s

Chamonix, France Ski Holiday

England. Switzerland. France. And back again. Our European ski holiday in Chamonix was spectacular. A picturesque ski village tucked in the Alps. The sheer grandeur of the mountains is indescribable. The pictures are stunning but don’t show the scale. It was every bit a postcard.

The ski map of the area was laid out like Disney World and we had access to ski at multiple mountains.

Ski conditions on our first day were bright, sunny and serene. Perfect. The views of the surrounding mountains were epic. There were professional skiers mountaineering off piste to the mountain tops, then skiing down making perfect patterns in the snow. It was like an advert for Patagonia. We paused for lunch, complete with big beers on the cafe deck. I have not felt the sun in months, and it was beyond rejuvenating. Kisses vitamin D.

The following ski days did not disappoint, but we had clouds and snow. If not for that first sunny day, we would have completely missed the views. We got lucky.

I was total crap awful on the first run of the day, and Andrew and his dad were pretty worried that it would be a long few days. Fast forward a day and a few small bumps, I was becoming a beginner skier. Yes, I should have taken lessons but I saved money and bought some ridiculous Sorel’s instead. Priorities people. Plus, if I actually shut up and listened, Andrew was a wonderful coach.

By the last day, I was skiing in powder doing advanced paths — we’re talking Reds. That was wicked. Thank you YouTube ski instructor.

I’ll miss my morning croissant, coffee and Cocoa Krispies, and my evenings of cheap-good French wine in a hot tub.

Merci, Chamonix! x

How To Make Proper English Tea

I like my coffee black. I hate sweeteners in my coffee or tea. I think coffee should be strong, and it should put hair on the chest. When I was asked to make tea for my English mates, I tightened up. Sure I know how to “make tea,” but making it proper is a whole other story. I brew you not…

Thankfully I received a proper lesson on making English tea. (clearing throat)

1. Get the water boiling hot. (Yes, Captain Obvious.)
2. Add the hot water to ye ol cup o tea.
3. Sing the Happy Birthday song whilst your tea bag brews. (seems to be about enough time)
4. Add milk. [Pay attention.] The tea should be a vanillay-caramel colour. If you think you’ve added a touch too much milk, it’s probably just the right amount.
5. Scoop the tea bag out of the cup and squish it against the side to get out the last bit of tea.
6. Taste test. Drumroll. Boston Tea Party.

You laugh, but it’s serious business over here. And before you say, “Yuck, milk,” you’ll find it cuts the bittnerness of the tea. Thank me later.

European Vacation Destination #2: Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

Color me spoiled. My amazing hus has planned a proper ski holiday to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in France.

Situated near the massive peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges, Chamonix shares the summit of Mont Blanc with its neighboring commune of Courmayeur in Italy, and owns the title of highest commune in France. The commune is well known and loved by skiers and by mountain enthusiasts of all types. Mont Blanc, at a height of 4,810 metres, is the third most visited natural site in the world. With an area of 245 square kilometres, Chamonix is the fourth largest commune in mainland France.

In short, it’s amazeballs. I am going to have to step up my skiing game, which is currently at zero. I am actually looking forward to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. And did someone say, luge?

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.

Oh, The Places You Will Go!

The hus and I are planning our first European holiday, and the plan is to travel before December. We adore traveling and cannot wait to explore our bigger neighborhood. We have a list of a few top destinations, and we are looking for the perfect quick getaway, on a bit of a budget.

My personal choice? I could land anywhere in Italy. Wine + suitcase = trouble. There is also the warm Barcelona, and a wild card like France.

Thoughts?! There could be worse decisions to make…