The Floor Is Now Open To Questions

People actually read this? I hardly ever make any sense. I’m working on a revamp.

Bless you. If you’re stuck in traffic, waiting in line for coffee, or accidentally trying to load Facebook and it took too long, here’s some answers to the q’s we’ve been getting about our big move.

PaulBunyanFlat_8641) Where? Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Before you’re thinking, Huh?, EdP was recognized by MONEY Magazine as one of the “Best Places to Live” in America, a few years in a row. I’m aware it gets a boatload of snow. It also gets proper sunshine and WARM weather. Sorted. We’re used to the Midwest lifestyle and were very fond of our time in Michigan.

Why is Eden Prairie No. 1 this year? Not only is it family-friendly, it has a dynamite economy too…there’s plenty of outer beauty: from gently rolling hills to 17 lakes that residents flock to year-round for swimming and ice skating. Town parks are laced with 125 miles of running, hiking, and biking trails. No wonder residents rank among the healthiest people in the nation. Add in top-notch schools and safe streets and you’ve got a place that’s tough to beat.

1) Is Ryder a US citizen? Yes, the coconut is proud to be an Americano. The citizenship process was lengthy, and wasn’t easy. The U.S. Embassy was strict, we went through piles of paperwork and interviews. We sorted his citizenship a few months ago all to secure his passport. Remember our trip to London?

2) Why did Ryder have two months to leave the country? When I crossed international waters with the babe to the US, unbeknownst to us, we took away his citizenship. England’s immigration department gave us a big fat warm welcome when we landed from the U.S. We were told Rye would need a visa or had two months to leave the country; two months was due to the fact that Andrew and I are on visas. After much research and phone calls, the visa process for Ryder would have been lengthy, expensive, and not guaranteed. We had no choice but to start looking for other alternatives.

3) Why can’t it be fixed to how it’s supposed to be? It is what it is as this point. There’s a reason U.S. customer service is the best. See #2.

3) Where are you moving back? The hus is continuing to work with his current company in Minneapolis. Funny, I missed Target so much he moved me to their headquarters. I missed malls, well we’re going to THE Mall of America. Trading one distinct accent for another.

4) When are you moving back? The maiden voyage is in early June; stopping in Atlanta as we wait for our goods to float back across the Atlantic. I knew moving internationally again would be hard, but it’s exciting and I’m embracing the packed schedule. Wine does wonders.

5) Are you a little happy you’re coming back? Loaded question. England has been tremendous. The friends we’ve made, the experiences, the places we’ve seen. I’ll miss being on the doorstep to the most beautiful places in the world. It’s time though to start getting our lives back in order in the U.S. We sold a lot of goods and we need time to build back up our assets. I do prefer a one and half hour flight away from family as opposed to 10+ and a time change.

It’s overwhelming at times. Sad tissues, happy tissues. At first I was highly skeptical of MN, but weighing all of our options, this move is the best for our family. Now it’s time to embrace all the challenges and changes. Life with Andrew has never been boring. We are blessed to be surrounded by such supportive family and friends, now internationally.



Travel Essentials

International travel is loads of fun, let me tell ya. I now feel like a seasoned pro. I always try to remember to down as much water as possible on the plane (here’s to you aisle seat) and pack some healthy snacks for the journey. Some of my must-haves for getting through the long flight:

“Adult” coffee. I always try to save money during the week and brew my own coffee, but a nice proper cup of coffee before a flight always relaxes me.

Sleep mask. It’s bad enough people have to watch your head bob all over the place or see you with your mouth wide open, the least you can do is try to shield yourself.

Magazines. Another airport treat. Always helps pass the time.

Kindle. Enough said.

Layers, especially if I am going somewhere warm; I bring a wrap or jumper for the plane. It gets cold up there!

Manarola – Bella Italy

Here’s a glimpse into a small slice of heaven where we stayed in while in Cinque Terre – Manarola.

Cinque Terre is a national park, which means you aren’t going to get the crappy tourist stands and shops in the streets- just the local shops selling homemade goods. OK, and a few magnets and postcards. No buses, no cars, no moped bikes. Glorious.

The food courtesy of Trattoria Dal Billy: lobster pasta one night, Sea Bream the other night. Seriously the best dishes of our lives. I always wondered how someone can say they’ve had the best [insert food] ever, but after this experience I certainly understand. I will never forget these meals. Not to mention when Andrew ordered the 12 small plate mixed-fish appetizer. His Christmas morning. Yep, we tried everything.

The restaurant overlooked a beautiful hillside, glowing with my favourite view of the Easter Resurrection scene.

The streets smelled like lemons, which grew on the trees and were the size of your head. Each town makes their own limoncino, which is a not-so-sweet version of limoncello.

Definitely one of my favourite of the five villages. And now I’m hungry again…

Cinque Terre – 5 Lands, 5 Loves

My Italian cheeks hurt.

You can take that whichever way you choose. I shoved my face full of the freshest seafood, home-made pasta, gelato, and vino. Yep, and I’m not even a huge seafood lover. I tried it all. We hiked 35+ miles over the span of a few days walking town to town, challenged by the natural elevation changes. My calves are barking and my backside, is well, tight.

Cinque Terre was the most exciting, surreal vacation. If you like to layout on the beach and have a pool boy bring you drinks, this is not for you. We were constantly moving between the towns, rewarding ourselves with a delicacy at each stop. Andrew now knows how to bribe me to go anywhere.

“The Five Lands” is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

Andrew, bless, picked the best of everything. He did his homework. We stayed in Manarola, the most picturesque town in my opinion. I’m going to have to break it down by food, towns, and hiking. I have no idea where to start.

In an Italian pistachio shell:
Riomaggiore -> Manarola – 25 minute paved walk via the Via Dell’Amore (“Love Walk”)

Manarola -> Corniglia – map said 3 hours, we did 1:45, beautiful walk in the vineyards

Corniglia -> Vernazza – OK this is a no-no, but we didn’t know the path was closed, due to the floods last October. It was a gorgeous trek, not bad at all, in an 1:10.

Vernazza -> Monterosso al Mare – a great hike, easiest of them all, but Monterosso was not my favorite. We only visited once; odd as Monterosso is where mostly everyone stays.

Would I have picked this vacation spot, not right away, but after our recent ski trip I’m definitely learning to love a getaway that keeps you moving. Prego, Cinque Terre!

We’re Off to Cinque Terre

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

We are heading off to Cinque Terre as a belated anniversary treat from the hus. Hiking, vino, gelato…not necessarily in that order. I absolutely adore Italy and am looking forward to the views and lovely people.

You can certainly expect obnoxious amounts of updates and pictures from the trip.

Il bel far niente! Ciao!

…off the Florida Keys

The wedding week was more than I envisioned. It went by all too fast, and I’m going to need some time to recover.

My parents definitely got the best of both wedding worlds, having a proper church wedding with Andrew and I, followed by a relaxing beach wedding with Mikey and Heather.

The weather was amazing, and it was lovely being surrounded by close friends and family.

I’ll leave you with a few highlights:
I took one look at the Harry Potter castle from the Universal parking lot and slapped myself for not flying direct to Orlando.

Braves spring training game was fabulous. I missed that good ol’ American pastime.

I chose to use SPF 100+ for my first days in the sun, but once we hit Duval Street I didn’t care if I turned flamingo-pink, I was going home with a tan. I’d sit anywhere in the sun.

Everybody loves a road trip.

You are never too old for adult spring break, but you are a bit slower. And those obscenely offensive t-shirts are no longer the least bit amusing.

Mikey and Heather were the most relaxed wedding couple. My inner JLo wedding planner came out and I was one headset short of taking over.

Slapping a St Patty’s Day tattoo on your 80+ year-old nanny, priceless.

I enjoyed all the things I missed in the states, but maybe I should have spaced things out. But thank you Chick-fil-A, Mexican Establishments, Coconut M&Ms, Peanut Butter Cheerios, Goldfish, Tums, etc.

A Three Hour Tour

A three-hour flight delay, before your nine-hour flight. Then arriving at your state-side destination and losing an hour due to Daylight Savings. Not my idea of an ideal Saturday.

Sunday I packed in as much Funday as one jet-lagged bird could do.

Our Sunday at Kennesaw.

Andrew’s Sunday at Snowdonia.

My 3-mile mountain was a hill compared to the miles he churned. Andrew trekked our favourite Snowdonia park solo to complete the “Horseshoe.” A 5+ hour hike, which with me would have taken 6, but going solo he completed in 4. Turns out Indy I might be bringing down Andrew’s hiking capabilities. I take offense, but for all the reasons tied to ego.

I might not have had mountains, but the universe was listening. Peanut Butter Cheerios greeted me Sunday morning via mail on my doorstep. I got to tackle Target, Old Navy, Coconut M&Ms and squeezed in a mani/pedi. How does she do it?!

Next stop, picture in your mind a cartoony map with a little car that makes dotted-line dashes all the way from Atlanta to Flordia. Orlando -> Key West. I win the reward for most miles traveled for a sibilings wedding, ever — well at least in my opinion.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: England Edition

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you are probably very aware that when Andrew and I moved from the states we had to leave behind our most precious cargo. Indy Dr Indiana Jones was placed in the gentle hands of “quarantine” with my mom and dad. The grandparents took amazing care of our pup, including helping him pack on a few pounds of “I miss mom and dad weight” whilst we were gone. When we went to the states for Christmas Indy’s quarantine period had expired and he was finally ready to cross the pond with us.

Since Andrew ok’d his job we were working frivolously to ensure that Indy could be brought over to the United Kingdom, and brought over quickly. That meant multiple calls to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and our local veterinarian at Paces Ferry Veterinary Clinic. Without everyone’s patience and support our little man wouldn’t be piled up with me in sunny cloudy England right now.

For those looking to ship their animals, please do as much research as you can. If we had not followed up multiple times, we would have run into serious issues with the various specifications required to allow an animal to fly. Shipping Indy was honestly the hardest thing to do. I figured I would be sad, but I had no idea I would be so emotional. I was a complete mess and cried the entire time we were dropping Indy off. Andrew “manned up,” but even he said it was incredibly difficult.

I would now like to give a few words of thanks and one strongly worded message and warning to a specific airline.

Dear Paces Vet: Sincere thanks for your help in getting Indy over without any issues. You answered our million questions patiently and helped us understand the entire Puppy Passport system. Your doctors have always been kind to our family and we are appreciative of all the hard work and extra miles you went to helping make this long process as easy as possible. Dr Cary was especially attentive to our needs. Simply stated, y’all rock.

Dear Pets on Jets: Coming off a 7+ hour overnight international flight with no sleep I was immediately running at full speed of the plane to scoop up Indy. Upon arriving in your offices we were pleasantly greeted by Bridgette and Ian who immediately welcomed us by name and let us know that Indiana was just fine. Bridgette had let Indy run around in a special area and kept a close eye on him. Indy made it off the plane quicker than we got our baggage. We had no worries at all that he was in the best of care.

Dear Delta: Disappointed, sad and angry is the best way to describe how we felt treated. After spending many long hours and paying some hefty fees to ship our dog we could not have been more dissatisfied in the service we received upon checking Indy in for the flight. We arrived extra early to ensure that our dog was on the flight before the said cutoff time. The customer service representative was less than helpful and had no knowledge of her role. We trusted you to ship our most precious cargo and after hearing about your track record with animals were obviously nervous about the flight. The rep spent time fidgeting about with no urgency to get our dog checked in. At one point she even said to us, “Nope. He can’t fly.” This was after she had misread the paperwork. I was already noticeably upset but this pushed me over the edge. We were frantically trying to call our vet, who reassured us numerous times that we had all the appropriate documents. After asking a more knowledgeable colleague the rep realised her error. This back and forth did me in. I was already nervous wreck dropping him off, only to be told that he would have to sit in his cold cage on the floors in the Delta hanger for 3+ hours until the flight. Disgusted. The complete lack of concern from the Delta representative was appalling. Would it be too much to ask to hire a person that actually liked animals to handle the job? For the money it costs to ship animals, one would think we could have afforded for our dog to have a personal stewardess. If I have to use Delta again I will most likely search for alternative shipping means.

End scene. Sorry for the rant, but I hope to save someone the trouble we had to go through.

It was a long time coming but having Indy here definitely makes us feel more complete and settled. We have some adjusting to do, but we’re more than fine. Thanks again to everyone who sent support throughout this ordeal.


2011 Rewind

While I am incredibly excited about all that 2012 has in store, I definitely had to do a look back at all the adventures Andrew and I tackled in 2011. Memories…like the corner of my miiind….

Moved to Wales.

Conquered a manual car. A whole year ahead of schedule.

Proved the UK does have a proper beach and sunsets.

Moved to England.

Took London on.

Hosted our bestest American mates the first weekend in Shrewsbury.

Celebrated my big brother’s engagement.

Was placed atop a really high mountain in Wales for my first mountaineering adventure.

Royally missed our pup.

Missed good old-fashioned U.S. Ovaltine.

Partook in a new holiday, Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night.

Learned how to bake the mother of all banana bread abroad.

Celebrated good friends.

Traveled to Rome, Italy and fell in love all over again.

Had a very British Thanksgiving.

Turned 30.

Welcoming what all is in store for 2012!

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.