american

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A New Day in AmericaThis has been an emotional election season for my fellow Americans. As an expat living in the UK, I have taken a keen interest in the election. Then again, the entire world has been watching, waiting, wondering who the United States of America will choose for its 45th president.

Besides the mud-slinging, there was unprecedented craziness and shocking tales of sexual assault and harassment. On one hand, we had a woman that no one is entirely sure they can trust. But she is clever, educated and experienced. On the other hand, we had a man-child. No one is really sure if he's actually clever and just pretending to be stupid. But he comes from money and runs a business. He also, apparently, enjoys grabbing p*ssies. *shudder*

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I love cookies. And one of my favourites are pecan sandies. I have an old recipe from this blog which I've amended slightly to make them a bit festive and turn them into Winter Walnut Cookies. These are probably the most loved cookies that I have ever made. People eat them and make lots of 'ooh ahh' noises, and then they are snaffled up in minutes.

Winter Walnut Cookies

Walnut Sandies
225g salted butter
65g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
250g all-purpose flour
100g chopped walnuts
25g icing sugar/confectioner's sugar/powdered sugar (for later)
 

Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla, salt and flour until well-mixed. Add walnuts. Roll into cling film and chill in refrigerator for at least two hours, but you can leave it up to one month.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 165C/150C fan-assisted oven. Shape dough into balls and bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool down for 5-10 minutes, then roll in icing sugar (although I've specified an amount of icing sugar, I just throw some in a bowl). You can store these cookies for up to five days in an air-tight container. The recipe makes about 35-40 cookies, depending on the size you make them. I like them a little smaller so I can just pop one straight into my mouth. Hmmm. ...continue reading

A British ThanksgivingThanksgiving Day in the USA is the fourth Thursday of November. In the States, the Thursday and Friday are public holidays so it is a time to get together with family and friends, whilst eating more food than humanly thought possible. As an American expat, we normally celebrate Thanksgiving the weekend before or after, whenever we can squeeze in five hours of cooking and eating.

We had our Thanksgiving dinner this past weekend. A traditional American family dinner, with some European touches. We of course had a whole turkey (very difficult to find a fresh one at this time in the UK, but a frozen one is easy to get), sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes. But in honour of my British husband and half-British children, we also had Yorkshire puddings and parsnips. And this year, we embraced the French culture by forgoing an American green bean casserole for Provençal Stuffed Vegetables.

So why have I included a French dish into my American-British meal? Well, Tesco recently asked me to join in their Festive Food Swap, and promote the fact that you can find world foods so easily at Tesco. I love that I can pop into my local Tesco and get everything I need for an international meal. Besides lovely festive foods from around the world, like stollen bites, mince pies and panettone, you can also find such British treats like traditional fruit cake, Christmas pudding and mince pies.

A British Thanksgiving

I was a bit worried what the kids would think (they aren't even that fond of American food, bar burgers and hot dogs). But my daughter loved it, and had seconds of the stuffed tomatoes. My son, who is three, refused to try any (but he wouldn't even try the parsnips and sweet potatoes, hmph). Husband and I loved the stuffed aubergines and courgettes (that's eggplant and zucchini to my American readers). Not only was it easy to make, but it was delicious.

Thank you to my fellow blogger, Muriel from French Yummy Mummy, who sourced this recipe from Mirabeau en Provence and then shared it with me. If you would like to make it too, here is the recipe.

PROVENÇAL STUFFED VEGETABLES

Ingredients: 4 tomatoes, 2 aubergines, 3 courgettes, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, herbs de Provence, 1 clove of garlic, 300g pork mince and 300g beef mince. (serves four)

  • Preheat oven to 180C. Wash and dry vegetables. 
  • Cut the tops off the tomatoes and spoon out into the flesh.
  • Cut the courgettes and aubergines in half, lenghtways. Spoon out the flesh.
  • Rub the vegetable boats with salt and olive oil.
  • Combine the mince in a mixing bowl, with mustard, finely chopped clove of garlic, 1 tbsp herbs and salt and pepper. Once mixed, fill the vegetables with plenty of meat.
  • Bake on a tray in the oven for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on your oven.
  • You can add goat's cheese or mozzarella towards the end of baking so that it melts nicely (we used cheddar cheese).

This dish is supposed to go well with rice or salad and crunch bread. But we thought it went well with our Thanksgiving dinner. Bon appétit!

A British Thanksgiving A British Thanksgiving A British Thanksgiving A British Thanksgiving

 

 

I was invited to swap festive recipes with other bloggers for the purpose of this post. Tesco has given me a box of goodies and a giftcard to help with groceries, but all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

 

 

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Independence Day in the UK

One of the things that I miss the most about not living in the USA is not getting to properly celebrate the 4th of July. For those of you who don't know what the 4th is, let me give you a little history lesson. You probably know that the original 13 colonies of the US were British colonies. The colonies did not like Great Britain taxing them and not letting them rule themselves, so they went to war. During the American Revolution, Americans declared their legal separation from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was signed on the 4th July 1776 (or around then). So every year Americans get the day off work, in honour of Independence Day, to hang out with family and friends, picnic, BBQ, watch fireworks and basically just have a great day where we saw 'nee-ner nee-ner' to the British.

I have lived in the UK for 13 years now, and have spent each 4th of July in London, missing out on all the festivities in the US. I now live in an area with quite a few Americans (randomly). One of my American friends threw a 4th of July BBQ this weekend and we went and celebrated with some American-British families. We had a lovely afternoon/evening. It is so nice to have a taste of the US here in the UK. Happy Independence Day to my American peeps. To my UK peeps, nee-ner nee-ner. 😉

Independence Day in the UK Independence Day in the UK

 

Linking up to Ordinary Moments from Mummy Daddy ME.

 

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American Goodies at American SodaAmerican Goodies from American Soda

One of the toughest parts about being an expat, after being apart from family and friends, is missing the food of your homeland. When I moved to London, 13 years ago, I could not get my hands on any American food items. But these days it is a lot easier to find American groceries in the UK. Besides some basics you can find at the big supermarkets, there are specialty online websites that offer American food and drinks.

American Soda is one website that offers a vast range of American drinks, candy, food and baking goods. All of which can be delivered to the UK, Ireland and Europe. To celebrate my one-year blogging anniversary, American Soda are offering one lucky reader to win some fab American goods. And you don't even need to be an American expat to enter!

On offer is a six-pack of Dad's Root Beer, a tub of Marshmallow Creme, a tub of Toasted Marshmallow Creme and a credit of £5 to spend on anything you might like to try. If you're not familiar with Marshmallow fluff, besides eating it sinfully from the tub, you can use it to make rice krispies treats, gooey brownies and cookies and lots more. You can also use it as a frosting on cakes or cupcakes. Check out this Huff Post piece for more ideas, and mouth-watering photos.

American Goodies at American Soda

 

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My name is Californian Mum in London, and I'm an addict. I'm addicted to using exclamation marks. I use it in texts and emails. On Twitter. On my blog. When you talk to me in real life, you can hear the exclamation marks oozing out of my mouth! I can't help it! I'm American! We're an excitable people. 

But sometimes, when I am talking to a 'full-stop Brit' (for you Americans, British people call a 'period' a 'full stop') I can see them judging me. They are looking at me wondering why I am exclaiming when a full stop will do. But it won't do. It just won't do!

Exclamations are fine to use when showing excitement, extreme emotion or something you might shout. So get off my back British people! Just because I'm American, doesn't mean that I don't understand grammar and punctuation. In fact, I love it! I just love it!

This week I am linking up (for the first time!) to All About You which is co-hosted on Mother Wife Me, Mama and More, and City Girl at Heart.

Mother.Wife.Me

I have previously mentioned my daughter's funny British accent. But now we seem to be having problems with MY accent. Moozles is five and a half and in Year One at school. In the past year and a half, I have been the one helping her with her reading. But now it seems my accent is causing trouble. The particular letter giving us grief is A. I pronounce a soft A like an American while British people pronounce a soft A as AWH.

Being a Stay-At-Home-Mum, I feel like it's my duty to help with homework and projects. But I am feeling like my help is detrimental. So I will have to hand the reading baton to Husband. Oh the shame. *hangs head low*. I guess I could learn how to pronounce certain words differently, but I feel it's too late for me to learn a new language. Alas.

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I am starting to have trouble understanding my daughter. I blame the fact that she is in her second year of school. Moozles spends so much time with British people. Most of her friends and teachers. Her father. It does not matter that I was her primary influence for the first four years of her life. It does not matter that I am her favourite person in the world. She still talks bloody funny. She talks all Britishy, with a funny accent. She doesn't open her mouth and articulate like an American. Like me. I love the kid, but sometimes I want to shake the British accent right out of her. Um, is that wrong?


*Please note that there were no half-British/half-American children harmed in the making of this post.

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I find that I now think about money A LOT! I knew, when I chose not to return to work after my second maternity leave, that it would be tough living on one salary. I knew that I would have to get used to going without on certain luxuries. I knew all these things, yet now that I am living with this lifestyle, I still find it a shock sometimes.

Normally I am good at budgeting. I am good at finding deals and saving money. I think most people assume that my British Husband is the thrifty one, and I spend all our money on shoes and handbags. Maybe because I am American, people assume I am a spendthrift. But I am quite the opposite. I rarely buy myself anything, and if I do then I make sure I am getting a bargain. 

But there are times when all I can do is dream of getting a massage/facial or spending the day shopping and buying whatever I like. But they are dreams. And I need to focus on the fact that I get to spend each and every day with my children and I never have to feel guilty about missing milestones. Yes, I get milestones not massages.

A couple of months ago I received an email from Mango about their new range of plus-size clothing, Violeta by Mango. I was excited since Mango seem to have very few of their clothes available in size XL and I am still carrying the baby weight. Today I received an email from Mango. I was excited to check out the collection, which has clothing from size 14 to 24. Here are the some cute looks that I would wear:
 
Slim-fit Royal jeans Striped slub cardigan Tencel shirt dress
 
Although there were a few pretty items, for the most part the collection was quite bland. I had assumed the clothes would be for a similar age bracket as the regular Mango clothing. But it looks like some of the clothes are for older ladies. I'm no spring chicken at 38, but these clothes would age me twenty years. And I don't know many 58-year old women who want to look 58. These are three looks that are neither fashionable nor flattering:
  Paisley shirt dressBelt flecked cardiganPolka-dot blouse
If you want affordable, stylish plus-size clothing, I suggest checking out ASOS Curve or New Look Plus Size.