Introducing Me – Elfa in London

For regular readers, you’ll have noticed the change in my blog and social media channels. I have gone from being ‘Californian Mum in London’ to ‘Elfa in London’ (although my website address has remained the same). Although my blog content will continue to be as before, I thought a name change was needed. So I thought I would share the reasons why. 

I can barely believe it, but I have lived in the UK for 16 1/2 years. How can this be?! I remember arriving here on a two-year visa, ready to embark on a relationship with the loveliest British man in the world. I had never lived with a boy before, let alone moving thousands of miles to live with one. I was so nervous when I left California and arrived in London. But as you know, the risk was worth it. And so far, so god.

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Three-Year Blog Anniversary (& Netflix Gift Card Giveaway)

Three-Year Blog Anniversary (& Netflix Gift Card Giveaway)Time sure flies when you’re having fun. I can’t believe that today marks my three-year blog anniversary. I remember agonising over a blog name, and then being so nervous when I pressed the ‘publish’ button for the first time (if you want to read my random first blog post, here it is). I expected to quit the blog after six months, but didn’t. Instead, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more. I made friends. And filled my life with something quite unexpected. Blogging has made being a Stay-At-Home-Mum so much easier.

I remember feeling astonished when my blog turned one. And now at three years old, I am taking stock. Thinking about where my blog will go. Will I switch the focus? Maybe I will have a re-design. Whatever happens, I hope you will continue the journey with me. It has been a blast!

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Blogfest 2015

My Blogfest Photo

Awww, look at those lovely ladies. The women above are my particular bosom friends (how I still love Anne of Green Gables).  Anyway, I had such a fab day at Blogfest15. It’s a great conference if you’re looking for some blogging inspiration, and of course you get to meet up with other bloggers. Every time I attend a blogging conference, I gush about the funny and clever women that I’ve met through blogging. This time I will just share a couple of photos and let you gaze upon the wonderfulness of my bloggy chums.

My Blogfest Photo




My MADS Photos

My Mads PhotoNormally on a Friday night, Husband and I get a take-away and watch Netflix. But not this past Friday. I ditched Husband and the kids and went to Kensington to hang out with some of my blogging friends.

Friday night was the MADS (Mums and Dads) Blog Awards. My friend Emma from Brummy Mummy of 2 was nominated for Blog of the Year, and she invited me to come along as her plus one. It was lovely seeing Em and the friends we have made through blogging (some of us met for a late lunch before the awards festivities). The MADS was also an opportunity to meet bloggers that I follow, but whom I’ve never met before. I am always so shocked at all the wonderful people I’ve met through blogging. Makes me feel like such a lucky gal.

My Mads PhotoMy Mads PhotoMy Mads Photo






My BritMums Live Photo

My BritmumsLive Photo

I went to BritMums Live on Friday and Saturday. And it was such a great experience. I was a bit overwhelmed last year. But this year I felt so much more comfortable. Plus I had a great group of gals to hang out with. One of my favourite photos was taken on Friday evening. I got to drink wine, with some of my favourite bloggers. Here we are before we went to a local bar – some more tipsy than others.

From left to right: Katie from Hurrah for Gin, Jude from Make Me An EarthMother, Amy from Surviving Life and Motherhood (just), me, Jess from the award-winning Wry Mummy and Steph from Sisterhood (and all that). Crouched in the front is Becky from Spirited Puddle Jumper. And missing from the photo is the very dear Emma from Brummy Mummy of 2.





The Beauty of Britmums

The Beauty of Britmums

No, going to Britmums isn’t a sad affair. This is just Sarah from Taming Twins, Em from Brummy Mummy of 2, and me being sad that our glasses of wine were nearly finished. But luckily Lindemans had a stand with more wine. No, free wine isn’t the beauty of Britmums (though not a bad aspect). The beauty is that you get to meet all these wonderful bloggers, and some of them end up being your friend. Your actual real-life friend.

When you’re a Stay-At-Home-Mum who blogs, you spend a lot of time on your own at your computer (obviously this is during nap and bedtimes, as the other times you are surrounded by children needing cuddles and toast). And yes, there are the occasional PR events, but mostly you live in a world of being the only blogger. But a few times a year, there are conferences that allow you, not only to learn more about blogging, but to meet up with the other bloggers that you follow and chat to online.

Last year was my first Britmums, and my first blogging conference. I had only been blogging for about seven months, and I was so nervous. But it turned out to be such a great experience. Most of the other bloggers are nervous too, but everyone is so friendly. Not only did I learn lots, but I ended up meeting so many wonderful people. So I knew that I had to go again this year. And luckily, the lovely people at Fantastic Services agreed to sponsor me.

The beauty of britmumsThe Beauty of Britmums

You may have read about my recent visit from Fantastic Services, when their amazing gardeners came round and sorted out my messy garden. I was so pleased with their services that I knew that there would be no better sponsor. You see, I am kinda lazy when it comes to taking care of the house and garden. But the people at Fantastic Services are hard workers. They take care of everything, from cleaners to builders, to pet care, removals and even a handyman service. And everything is reasonably priced. If you fancy giving their services a try, use the code CaliMum for £10 off your first booking.

If you are a blogger and are not going to Britmums, there are still tickets left. Go buy one. Forget being shy. Everyone is in the same boat, and you will have a wonderful time. And if you are going to Britmums, please come and say hello! *waves*

The Beauty of Britmums


Learning How To Blog

Learning How To Blog

Today marks my one-year anniversary of blogging; my blogiversary. The year has flown by. I had started a blog on Blogger three years before, but hadn’t actually had the nerve to write anything. So one night, impulsively, I came up with a new name, a design, and wrote this post. I think I probably only had six or seven readers the first month, but I really enjoyed the writing.

I had almost no idea how blogging works. I didn’t do any linkys, or take many photos. I didn’t sign up to Britmums or Mumsnet or Tots100. But I wrote. And often not very eloquently. My blog was my diary. Then in December, whilst recuperating from a laparoscopy, something clicked. I started writing more regularly, figured out how to join linkys and started to publicise my blog posts on Twitter. In April 2014, I was short-listed for a Brilliance in Blogging award in the category of Fresh Voice. Though I did not make the finals (and completely did not expect to), I was given new-found confidence. I went self-hosted (in WordPress) in June, and have enjoyed blogging more with each passing month.

I had been feeling isolated as a SAHM, and blogging made me feel part of a community. Especially as an expat, it is easy to feel different and isolated. I am lucky to have such a wonderful husband and two such spirited children. And I am lucky that I actually love living in the UK. But sometimes I just want to chat about random crap, and my two-year old just wants to eat toast and watch Mr Tumble. At the time, Dubz was only one and didn’t talk or watch television.

So, for anyone thinking about blogging or who is new to blogging, here are some things that I have learned in the past year.

1. Write because you want to write. There are thousands and thousands of parenting blogs on the market. Don’t just write because you think you might get free stuff. Write because you have something to share, something to share and/or something to record.

2. Use a spell check. It can be so irrritating to find misspelled word after misspelled word. Also, read your post out loud. This gives a good indication to how well your sentences flow.

3. Learn what blogging entails. Tots100 have lots of great blogging tutorials, so go have a look. Britmums is also a fab blogging network and its blogging how-tos are extremely helpful. I have also found the Newbie Class from Potty Mouthed Mummy to be a lifesaver.

4. Make friends. Many of us began blogging to fill an empty space in our lives. Writing, reviewing, going to events–yes, these can all be fun. But get on Twitter or Facebook. Chat. Butt in on conversations. Get to know the people who follow you and who you follow.

Enough of my reflection and advice. I just want to say thank you to everyone who has read my blog (whether you were there for the first post or if you discovered me last week). Thank you for your tweets and comments. And for filling up the little empty space in my life. xx


Man Alive, I’m Going to Britmums Live!

My party shoes are ready (by that, I mean my sneakers/trainers) because I’m going to Britmums Live 2014. For those of you not in the know, it’s the UK’s biggest two-day blogger and social media conference. Many of us BritMums Live attendees are writing posts introducing ourselves. As my blog name suggests, I am an American living in London. I’ve been in the UK for 12 years so my American accent is softer than it used to me, but it gets stronger when I’m around other Americans. I use British words like ‘trash’ instead of ‘garbage’ and ‘pavement’ instead of ‘sidewalk’. But I still call the ‘lift’ the ‘elevator’, and I pronounce tomato as ‘tomayto’ not ‘tomahto’. I sometimes say ‘dude’ and ‘whatevs’. I definitely don’t wear a fanny pack (I’m looking at you Brummy Mummy of 2).
Name: Elfa
Blog: Californian Mum in London (I’ve just moved from Blogger to self-hosted!)
Twitter ID: @CalifornianMum
Height: 5 ‘6
Hair: Dark brown
Eyes: Brown
Is this your first blogging conference? Yes. *knees quaking*
Will you attend both days? Yes. I’m even staying at the Travelodge, despite living in London. PARTAY!
What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live? Getting to meet many of the lovely people I’ve met through blogging.
What will you be wearing? A dress and leggings, or maybe jeans and a t-shirt. Depends on the weather. And there’ll be a cardi. There’s always a cardi.
What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live? I hope to get a better understanding of blogging and how I can improve my writing and photo-taking. I’d also love to meet some brands.
Do you have any tips to pass on to others who may not have been before? No tips. I know practically nothing (I’ve only been blogging for seven months). So bring on Britmums Live 2014!

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

Something amazing happened yesterday. I went on the Britmums website to check out which of my blogger buddies had been short-listed for a BiB (Brilliance in Blogging). I saw the name Californian Mum in London and had to re-read the list a couple of times (okay, 16 times). I cannot tell you how excited I was when I finally believed my eyes. Being nominated as a Fresh Voice (those who have been blogging for less than 18 months) means a lot. 

I started blogging six months ago, in an effort to get out of my head and express some of the things I am dealing with as a SAHM and an expat. I did not believe anyone would read the blog. But it has really encouraged me to discover that people are enjoying my writing, whether they can relate to me as a wife, mother, expat or wise-ass. So thank you if you have nominated me, and thank you if you vote (or plan to vote) for me. If you don’t vote for me, then screw you there are some fab bloggers in my category so I do understand. I honestly am so thrilled just to have been nominated. And please keep reading, as this means so much to me.


Social Media, aka Not So Lonely

I have really gotten into Twitter in the past year. I enjoy tweeting and reading tweets. And about six months ago, I really got into blogs. A few years ago, many parenting blogs were just mums gushing about how wonderful their babies were and the joy of motherhood. I get it, but who wants to read that day after day? I mostly read family-orientated blogs, but from moms and dads. Sure you get the joys of parenthood, but also the tribulations. There are the struggles of working, full-time or part-time, as well as staying at home and losing one’s career. I feel so connected to these people, though I have only been following their lives for a short time. 

I have also gotten into expat blogs. They didn’t have such things when I first moved here. What help that would have been. Sometimes it’s so lonely when you’re a foreigner and are thinking and acting differently to the others around you. Though the USA and the UK have less differences than most other countries, it still feels like a million miles away from what you know.

I remember feeling so isolated at my first job in the UK. It was a small office and everyone was British. People were nice and courteous. And we would sometimes pop to the local pub for a drink at lunchtime on a Friday. But there was a lack of warmth and silliness that was lacking. I missed my American colleagues. It took me about a year before I actually made a friend, and it got easier after that. But that first year was pretty lonely.

If you are an expat, how do you deal with living in another country? Do you use social media to keep in touch with family and friends back ‘home’? Or do you use it to make new friends in your adopted homeland?