27 February 2011

Listy Loo

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

As I sit alone in my kitchen, writing, I wonder is anyone reading my blog out there? And enjoying it? It is immensely satisfying and encouraging when the answer comes back as a yes :)

Three lovely bloggers sent me awards over the last few weeks. I am immensely honored and choked up to have been selected. In return, I am to blog 7 things about myself (listed here).  For a twist, I will list 7 things about my new country to add to my previous list here. And yes, I keep a notepad in my car and purse :)

A typical chocolate box cottage
Source: Pinterest

1. 'Chocolate Box Cottage' is a general term used for a quaint character home

2. A 'snug' is a cozy little room usually with a fireplace and a place to sit to read or chat. You can find a 'snug' in old houses and pubs. Love that word!

3. 'Pudding' is a general term for dessert. 'Tea' is a drink but also means early dinner. This is important to know when an English family comes over 'for tea', they are hungry and looking forward to a meal - not finger sandwiches and fancy teacups (like I provided. Oops)

4. At the post office the clerk kept calling me 'love' at the end of every few sentences. When I retold my husband, he asked 'Did you want to hit him with your handbag?'  I replied, 'Are you kidding? I kept getting back in line again and again!'

5. I whispered to my husband, 'Did she actually just ask if I would fancy something else to eat?' My husband whispered back with a smile, 'Yes, she did'

6. The English have super-power hearing. They talk a lot quieter than Americans, and when they whisper I could swear they move their lips in complete silence

Source: Pinterest

7. The English Easter Bunny drops chocolate eggs in the garden. No baskets, plastic eggs, or fake grass - that is the American Easter Bunny's tradition

The 'Stylish Award' came from eye-candy Flowerona and lovely expat Brit Abroad in USA. The 'Blog With Substance' Award was from fashion/home decor blog Lulliloo. Obviously all with good taste in good reads :)

Keeping in the spirit, I'd like to award Serenity Now for the 'Blog With Substance Award'. She has created 'Weekend Bloggy Reading' on Fridays as a place for bloggers to link their best post of the week. I think that is a great idea.

More free iPhone wallpapers at Margot Madison Creative

And I'd like to award the 'Stylish Award' to Margot Madison Creative for DIY Fridays, specifically for her free iPhone wallpapers (here) and how to create printed fabric with Spoonflower (here).

I hope you check out and enjoy what these 5 blogs have to offer :)  

Friday Fun Reveal - Thank you for the many responses, guesses and funny comments from What Am I?. This unusual Romanesco cauliflower comes not from the ornate temples of Thailand, but originally from Italy. My friend Miss K steamed and buttered this delicious beauty. Cool, eh?

Source: Google Images

Thank you for stopping by for a read today - I appreciate you! 

25 February 2011

Friday Fun: What Am I?

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Time for another Friday Fun - yea!!

Look what spoke to me at the grocery store a few weeks ago

Aren't I beautiful?
Nature can be such an incredible artist
I am edible
What am I?

Please play along and give it your best guess :)  

Answer revealed here

23 February 2011

First Fab Confab

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

(Image: Pinterest)

Come pull up a chair in my English countryside tent and grab some tea - I have a new little idea brewing. I have so many questions in my head that I'd like to know your opinion and get some good conversation going. 

To give myself some structure, I've decided occasional Wednesdays will be 'Fab Confab' days. And 'Friday Fun' tends to land on, you guessed it, Fridays :)  I hope you will join in the conversation so I don't hear the sound of crickets and feel the cane hook me Stage Right. 

Image: Pinterest
I just ''thesaurused'' the word 'chatter' (well, actually 'natter') and came up with 'confab'. It rhymes with 'fab' - well, it actually has the word in it so I don't know if that counts as a rhyme. Plus I just increased my vocabulary by one, and the day is still young! Ding ding ding ;)

It's no secret the English use a larger percentage of the dictionary than Americans. So in an attempt to increase my vocabulary, I told my husband that I did not like a particular author because his books are too 'verbose'. But then I wondered aloud if I meant 'varicose'...? I threw out the word 'vapid' too - but got a blank stare, so I should probably stay out of the 'V' section of the dictionary for a little while. Yep, a little vernacular vacation for me... 

Are you still there?

So here is my confab question to you. I had a boss who confessed that she casually walked by interviewees' cars to take a peek inside. To see what the person was really like. To see if they smoke, tidy, etc. Do you think this is fair? Or accurate? 

My car is typically dirty. I don't think it is practical to clean it when it will be dirty in a few days. Saves money. I have general kid messiness in the back of my car because I'm pretty laid back and choose to put my energy toward other things. Yet the look of my car could convey different messages to different people.

(Image: Pinterest)

Do you think it is accurate or fair to look inside an interviewee's car? What does your car say about you? 

I'd love to hear from you - and your car :)

(Not sure how to post a comment? Learn how to here)

21 February 2011

One Of Each

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

My daughter made this fruit salad and thought to put a daisy in it
She's a quiet creative type and likes to cook (skipped a generation)

(Below) This was unexpected and made me laugh
Our other creative type, boy-style

Our Photo Frames Are Well Guarded

I rarely mention my kiddos in my posts, but they rock my world :)

Linked to A Beach Cottage

19 February 2011

The English Accent

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

(Image: Pinterest)

So I must confess that I was very excited about the idea of my little Americans wearing an English school uniform and adopting the English accent.

I'll also confess to trying to sound all English too. Why? Well, it would be nice to walk into a restaurant and ask for a table without turning heads. It actually serves a purpose when not trying to call attention to yourself ('Oh, clumsy AND American').

So I've been working on it. I'm getting my 'lessons' by regularly listening to my fav DJs on the radio and repeating after them. I am able to end the last word of a sentence with an accent, but I cannot hold the accent for an entire sentence. 

There are so many many accents in this small country, the trick is to hold the same English accent through a conversation and not sound like one is flying all over the country when giving it a go.

The 'Queen' of The Accent
(Image: Pinterest)

I've noticed the last sound fades into the distance when ending in 'ear' (like dear). 'T's are pronounced properly as a 't', not as a 'd' as we do in America - i.e. settle (vs 'seddle'), matter (vs 'madder').  And in fact, 'water' is a really 'advanced' word that I think I can say right 80% of the time now.

And if you're really good, 'sure' and 'shore' should sound the same. (Did I just hear you giving it a try?)

I've met expat Americans that have lived here over 10 years completely surrounded by English-English; they still have their American accent 99.9% of the time. Just an occasional change in inflection and vocabulary. So depressing, I know!

But not to worry, if we meet, I won't be entering 'Dorkville' with my new accent. I'll stick with the American one - I'm still trying to tackle the English language in any accent :)

Link: Serenity Now

16 February 2011

Sticky Fingers

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Collage by Miss C
Photo by Amelia

I first 'met' London artist, Amelia Critchlow, through her blog 101 Bird Tales which piqued my interest in her experimental e-courses. Lucky me, I got to participate in a custom-designed collage workshop with 14 other creative-type friends last month.

Amelia is one of those creative gentle souls. Regretfully we didn't take a photo together, but imagine one here

: )   :)

Amelia provided a warm and welcoming environment, plus canvases and lots of fun extras. We brought our own images and items we wanted to add to our collages. Amelia shared tips on making the collage look 'finished', as well as ideas for good design.

Amelia (in black with ponytail)

The setting? Amelia's sister-in-law, Taina Pearson, is a talented portrait artist who lives in London in a really cool home.

I think everyone walked away really pleased with their collage. Here's a sneak peek of mine with torn out pages from Winnie the Pooh on the sides and images from an Anthropologie catalog on the front.

My Collage
(I love vintage trucks; my daughter loves turtles)

Nothing like a day of friends, tea, and creative-making to feed the soul :)

You can see Amelia's post on the day here and information about her experimental e-courses here

13 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Posting a few Valentine-inspired gifts that would be great anytime of year :)

Available from Decorative Country Living

This handmade lavender heart is made of vintage fabric with customized initial. Love it :)

See this cutie-pie owl?
I smile at this expression my sister uses occasionally

Available from Vicinity Studio

Ready to experience my first spring in England, I'm on a big garden kick. This is perfect:

Available from Harrod Horticultural

A heart-shaped hand trowel. Can you stand it?!

I leave you with this sweet-as-pie DIY project from Modern Country Style

As a Valentine's Day gift to her husband, Sarah stamped the year and place of their wedding. 
Clever, yet simple. A wonderful keepsake, don't you think? 

Happy Valentines Day, dear reader
Sending you the love!

11 February 2011

Wearable Gardens

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Pollinated Fabric by Karen Ingham 

'Pollinator Frock'
Okay, I think I have something new for you : ) 

Fashion, gardening, science, and technology had a little rumble in the labs at Swansea University in Wales and came up with Pollinator Frocks. Talk about thinking out of the box...

This collection of clothing is the brainchild of British artist Karen Ingham. Designed to attract pollinators, her fabrics are digitally enhanced images of plant pollens, which are then treated with sucrose and fructose to replicate nectar.

Think of the possibilities of your dress attracting bees and butterflies in the daytime and moths in the evening.  Hang it on a clothesline and watch what happens while you sip your lemonade.  

To finish it off, you could wear this fabulous beehive 'do. How I love them so...

(Source: Pinterest)

Is it too obvious I'm ready for Spring? 

(Source: Pinterest)

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, wherever you may be

Link Ups: A Place For Tea, Never Growing Old, Serenity Now

08 February 2011

With Spring In My Step

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Naturalized Snowdrops in Waterperry Gardens

Motivated by Modern Country Style's Garden Party, coupled with reading the latest issue of The English Garden, I grabbed my family, camera, and SatNav (of course) to go to Snowdrop Weekend at Waterperry Gardens in Oxfordshire.

In our family, this sweet little bulb signifies the coming of my son's birthday. It has always been called his 'Birthday Bulb' since it typically blooms on his birthday (the tulip is my 'Birthday Bulb'). It is also a nod that Spring is on its way.

There are approximately 500 varieties of snowdrops, each with individual green markings on its white flower (like a snowflake). If feeling fancy, you can refer to the snowdrop by its botanical name, Galanthus. But I think 'cutie-pie bulb' sounds more accurate. 

Snowdrop: Fairy cap on a stem?

One thing I appreciated about Waterperry Gardens was its mix of formal and informal plantings and design. Below you can see a view through a formal yew hedge to a less formal garden.

It is common to see 'live' fences of yew, hornbeam, and beech in England. Such a lovely, soft alternative to a wooden fence, don't you think? One day I'll photograph the machine that trims them along the road - very interesting

All winter the grass has been very green. Very green. My husband says, 'We must be on the other side' :)  Get it?

Below is a classic example of winter color with lots of texture. As I gardener I know this is very hard to achieve. 
I've never seen a better example

Viburnum Bodnantense  - I peeked at the label.  This fragrant bush had a few of us Americans scratching our heads the last couple of days as we've seen it around town. I was excited to solve the mystery 

Flowering Viburnum Bodnantense

Couldn't resist this photo. Like Horton Hears A Who,  it said 'Helloooo! I've never been photographed before'. 
I think the lichen is beautiful 

Wisteria Vine

I apologize if you are eating while reading, but I just couldn't pass this one up. I'd never seen this before...

Plant Marker -  I love that someone took the time to use nice handwriting

We had such a great day at the Waterperry Gardens. The kids played hide & seek while I took photographs. My daughter even plopped on the grass to make a 'Sun Angel' for the brief second the sun was out

Snowdrops & Aconites 

I can't wait to see what Spring brings! Now that the days are getting longer, I can just feel it : )  In fact, 'Hello, my name is Giddy'

Linkups: WhipperBerry,  Modern Country Style, Savvy Southern StyleFaded CharmA Beach Cottage, A Southern Daydreamer, An Oregon Cottage, Fishtail Cottage

06 February 2011

'Fictional Flourish' and Other Whatnots

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

[image: Pinterest]

I recently heard 'fictional flourish' as a colorful way to say 'exaggerated'. Isn't that wonderful? There is constant word play going on by the English. They use words I haven't seen since studying for the GRE (and many are simply new to me). 

As a follow up to my post in September, Lists & Doodles, here is my current list of things I find different here: 

* There are no drive-thrus. Of any kind

* 'Squash' is a term for fruit juice, not the vegetable

* Christmas cards with your family's photo on it appears self-centered. Note to self, stick with generic cards from the store

* Kiss friends on both cheeks in greeting. Be sure to start on the correct side to avoid that awkward moment

* You have not driven into the valet section of the parking lot when you see cars 'backed in'. Although a tricky maneuver, it is easier to pull out of small parking spaces when leaving

* Using a different system, my shoe size is 3 numbers smaller while my dress size is 2 numbers bigger (bummer!)

* The English have an amazing amount of patience when it comes to queuing. They can stand in a slow, long line without a single rolled-eye, sigh, or frustrated comment to their neighbor. To quote the 80s show, 'That's Incredible!'

* 'Tea leaves' is cockney for 'thieves'. Other good sayings include 'gutted', 'poppet', and 'I don't mind'

In a local cafe

I haven't been an anglophile since my high school days, but I think I am turning into one :)

04 February 2011

Friday Fun: The Great Escape

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Thank you to Suzanne of Privet and Holly for today's Friday Fun idea

With the chill in the air and school break coming up, I pose this question to you...

If money were no object
And time no issue
Where would your magic carpet take you?

Ski Vacation


The Tropics


European Villa or Chateau

Et moi?

Yummy Hammock

A hammock in the tropics - drooly naps, reading, and a margarita with my Mr. 

And you? 

Photo credits linked in photo captions

02 February 2011

Creative Advertising

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

While waiting for the train, there is nothing I appreciate more than clever advertising. 
This one caught my eye from Ocado, an online grocery store/delivery service in England and Wales

Source: Ocado Media Centre
(Click on image to enlarge)

Here's a selected close up

How I would have loved to have been in the room, coming up with some of these.
If only the real Periodic Table of Elements was this fun. 

So I contacted Ocado to get a good copy of this to share with you, instead of a photo off my phone :)

Ocado's media representative, Ben Lovett, told me 'We were really pleased with it - and it did well at the awards it was originally created for. We were up against a lot of the 'big boys' - brands with big ad agencies; our creative was all generated by a tiny in-house team'. 

As a finalist, their ad was displayed at the Oxford Circus tube station for a few weeks, which is where I saw it. I just love it ;)

Which is your favorite 'element'?