6 April 2015

10 Differences Between the UK and USA

We've been living in the USA for around 3 weeks now and it hasn't take long to start noticing how things differ between the two countries. Here are 10 differences between the UK and USA…

1. The bread is sweet. Even the seemingly innocent wholemeal organic kind that promises seeds and multi-grains still manages to sneak in some high fructose corn syrup or brown sugar amongst the ingredients. The only non-sweet bread we've managed to find so far is from Whole Foods and costs $5 a loaf.

2. Americans don't drink squash and therefore don't sell it - which left us wondering what our new beverage would be as squash was pretty much the only thing we used to drink, seeing as we're not tea or coffee fans. We've had to settle for 'water enhancers,' which are also fairly difficult to come by.

3. The bacon here is the thin, crispy and streaky kind. I'm craving the thick, meaty cuts we're used to in the UK.

4. Commercials are frequent and… unusual. Medications are often advertised - along with a long list of alarming side effects. I'm not sure how successfully you can sell a product when suicidal thoughts are mentioned alongside it.

5. It is spacious. No crowded housing, busy high streets or sparse parking. It does mean you need to drive everywhere, but we're living in a neighbourhood where everything is within a short distance - malls and retail parks as well as beautiful parks and nature reserves. 

6. Petrol is ridiculously cheap. $30 for a full tank of petrol cheap.

7. The people are friendly. Strangers stop to chat, numbers are freely given out and most people we've encountered have been so happy and enthusiastic.

8. Portion sizes in restaurants are huge. Starters can resemble main courses and when we ordered Henry a 'child size pizza,' it was the size of a regular pizza back in the UK. For this reason, it's the norm to box up and take leftovers home with you - because you can almost be certain you won't be able to finish it all.

9. There is an amazing amount of choice available. Whether it's food and drink, toys or craft items, there will be hundreds of items to choose from - which can be quite overwhelming for an indecisive person like myself!

10. The weather has been incredible since we arrived. Most of our days here have been sunny with clear blue skies and temperatures in the low to mid twenties. This has opened up a whole new world of possibility when it comes to wardrobe options and outdoor activities.

3 April 2015

Home Office Decor Inspiration

Now that we're closer to settling into our new home, I've been looking at inspirational work spaces online to get an idea of the kind of space I'd like to create in our home office. I'm hoping for a productive environment, that prompts motivation and encourages creativity. I love fresh white space paired with touches of gold for a minimalist feel and I'll also be adding some wall art and featuring some functional but pretty shelving. But in the meantime, here are some glimpses of what I'm hoping to achieve. All of this inspiration comes from my Pinterest page - make sure to follow along for more interior design, style and cute kids stuff!

Sources: 1 - 23 - 4 - 5

30 March 2015

Richmond, Virginia

After an eight hour flight and a two hour drive from Washington airport, the three of us finally arrived in Richmond, Virginia - our new home for the next two years. Weary but excited, we hauled our four suitcases (our only possessions for the next month) up two flights of stairs and opened the door into our new apartment. The next morning, we watched the sun rise over the lake outside our window, the fiery orange glow lighting up the water and illuminating the silhouettes of the geese that lay there.

Our first few days were spent adjusting to the new time zone and completing mundane tasks - sorting out a rental car, food shopping, and filing for social security numbers. Once those were done, we've spent a lot of time exploring Richmond - eating out at different restaurants, enjoying some of the parks and nature reserves that are close by, and we did a spot of window shopping (real shopping is being postponed until our American bank account is sorted!) at Short Pump Mall.

Thankfully, I find driving in the USA a lot easier than the UK. With automatic cars being the norm, there's no need to worry about gear changes or clutch control, we've yet to come across a roundabout and the parking spaces are huge to accommodate the gigantic cars found here. The weather has been up and down; some mornings have been below freezing, and other days we've enjoyed glorious 23'C sunshine. There is so much beauty to be found here - in the walking trails laced amongst the trees, the silent peace of a sunset and the vast expanses of water. We can't wait to discover even more during our time here.

We've started to search and select some houses which we'd like to view, as we'll be moving into a bigger property once our furniture arrives, which should be May at the latest. We're very much looking forward to finding our 'real home,' where we can unpack our things and properly settle in. I do miss Henry's nursery, along with our beloved Bugaboo (our cheap substitute buggy has certainly been tested to its limits in the outdoor terrain) and all the little things that made our house a home. It feels a little like we're in limbo at the moment, so it will be good to find somewhere more permanent. 

Now Monday has rolled around, almost two weeks since we arrived, and it marks the start of reality in our new country. Matt is off to work again and Henry and I will slowly find a new rhythm to our weeks by trying out some different toddler classes. It will be sad to see our little family disperse, it's been so lovely to spend so much time together over the last month or so, discovering new life together and creating more memories.

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P.S. A few kind people have mentioned that they will be nominating my blog in the Brilliance in Blogging 2015 Awards, which is such a compliment and means so much to me.  I would love to be recognised in the 'Writer' or 'Inspire' category or indeed any other category you feel fits my blog.  If you would like to nominate me, you can do so here.

27 March 2015

Henry At 17 Months

Henry has changed and learned more in the last month than any other time span before. When I read back on his 16 month update I can't believe it was only a month ago. He seems so much more developed, and I can see him turning into a big boy right before my eyes. I know I keep saying it, but this is the most fun stage so far. I expect he will just get more and more amazing as he grows older and we discover even more of his personality! He understands everything we say, and if we ask him to do/fetch something, he will. There are times when we discover he understands a word and wonder how he possibly came to learn it - he must pick up so much more than we realise. It is so incredible to actually be able to communicate with him and do fun things together!

The Lovely Stuff: Henry is a delight. He is just the happiest little boy and really demonstrates to Matt and I how much he loves us. I adore the moments when he runs to us, an excited little grin on his face, throws his chubby arms around us and squeezes our necks so tight (stroking our hair too, if he's feeling extra loving!) It makes me so happy to see him happy, it really is the best feeling.

He is as loving as ever, giving us cuddles and kisses, looking after his beloved bunny by tucking him up, brushing his hair and pretending to feed him. I love our family morning times, when we bring him to our bed after he's woken and enjoy snuggles and lots of giggles as he rolls around the bed with glee as we tickle him. It is the sweetest thing when he says mama and reaches his arms up for a cuddle. Sometimes I hear him call for me in the morning when Matt collects him from his cot, and it melts my heart. He waves and says bye bye to both people and places when we leave somewhere.

Then there's Henry's wild side. He is a rambunctious little boy, craving rough and tumble time with his daddy. I love to watch Henry and Matt together, and their blossoming relationship. Henry loves to be chased, which always results in fits of laughter, and he loves to initiate a tickle fight/wrestling match - which usually ends with Matt sporting some injuries!

Henry was also an absolute dream on the flight to the USA. He enjoyed the toys I'd packed for him, and spent the entire time happily playing, watching some CBeebies and even managed an hour's nap. There were no tantrums and no tears - it could not have gone better and we were so proud of him.

The Difficult Stuff: The toddler discipline has begun! It's strange when they start to test boundaries and you know they're being deliberately defiant. Henry often used to do things out of curiosity and that was alright, but now we can see it in his eyes when he knows he's doing wrong. Discipline is difficult. It's not something we like doing but we know it needs to be done. We're not even too sure how to discipline a 17 month old, so it's all a bit of a guessing game. It can pull on your heart strings too, when you tell off your child. Sometimes after a stern word, Henry's little bottom lip trembles, and he runs off to stand in a corner or another room, which instantly makes you want to scoop him up and cover him with kisses. But we realise how important boundaries and consequences are for a child. 

Classes: We've already scouted out some toddler classes so I can draw up some kind of plan for our weeks. Now that Henry is a fully fledged toddler he is so full of energy and wants to be on-the-go constantly. Luckily, there are plenty of parks around us, plus rhyme time at the library, and there's a lovely place especially for little ones, which incorporates music and art with play in the soft gym. I'll also be signing Henry up to a toddler swim class, as we'd like him to be confident in water so he can enjoy the pool and beach once summer rolls around. 

Sleep: Henry's dropped down to one nap now, so it took a little while to find a new rhythm to our day as it always does when something in his routine changes. After arriving in America, we had a few early starts and nap time refusals, which was understandable after all the big changes he'd been through, but thankfully he's now settled down.

Milestones: Henry has always been a chatterbox, but his vocabulary is growing by the day. His most recent words are 'balloon' (they're just about the best thing he's ever encountered), 'please' (oh so cute!) and 'bath time,' but at a guess, I think he can say around 30 words now. He's had plenty of molars come through, so I think we're now only a few teeth short of a full set. He can run, climb, use a fork and communicate his wants and desires with us.

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We love this little boy so much. We tell him about 500 times a day (always hoping that he'll say it back!) but really we could never say it enough. My little ray of sunshine.


25 March 2015

5 Lip Colours for Spring

Can we say that spring is here yet? If the lighter evenings and warmer days are anything to go by, I think we can happily say that it is. To celebrate the change in season, I thought I'd round up my favourite flirty lip colours for spring time sunshine. They're all lightweight lip products that are perfect for applying on-the-go for an easy pop of colour.

Revlon Colorburst Lacquer Balm in Demure: Demure is a soft and pretty pink which is ideal for every day wear. I love the high-shine lacquer finish, enhanced with subtle shimmer running through it. A trio of mango, shea and coconut butters deliver balm-like moisture to the lips, and the twist-up packaging means you never have to search for a sharpener. 

Bourjois Color Boost in Peach On The Beach: A beautiful peachy shade with a silky and non-sticky extract formula. This shade is so pretty for spring time, plus I love that these lip crayons are waterproof and include SPF 15 and waterproof - perfect for lazy days by the beach!

Rimmel Colour Rush in Drive Me Nude: If you’re lusting after a lighter and more wearable nude lip for spring, this is the perfect colour. Not only does it offer a lovely dose of nourishment, the shade is super natural and offers just the right amount of coverage.

Clinique Chubby Stick in Oversized Orange: This is a great product if you're new to coral or orange shades, and it works well for day or night - it can be applied lightly for a subtle sheen of coral, or applied in a few layers for full on colour. The super nourishing formula is loaded with mango and shea butters so lips are left feeling soft and smooth. 

Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in Apricot Shimmer: The Clarins lip perfecters have been a long-time favourite of mine. The gorgeous gel-like consistency delivers luscious, smooth, shiny lips with a deliciously sweet caramel flavour. The sponge applicator allows for quick and easy touch-ups, and it has the added benefit of working as a lip treatment by nourishing the lips with the extracts of shea butter and mango. I often wear this alone, but I also love to add this on top of other lip colours for a glamorous yet understated finish.