30 December 2011

Happy 2012

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Wishing you a wonderful one!!

photo by me

Post Of The Month Club returns January 31st :)

28 December 2011

The European Union Today

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

The European Union has been a grand experiment
originating in 1958 but solidifying in 1993

Take 27 European countries with diverse histories, cultures, locations, and economies 
and bind them with laws and a single currency, 
the euro

The European Union aims to provide free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within Europe

A dreamy idea, but can it work?

National borders relax 
as many from poorer EU countries flood wealthier EU countries for work,
for no work visa is required 
{ with a few exceptions } 

Unfortunately, it has created another layer of big government
My babysitter says her fees are dictated by the EU in Brussels
Sounds a little crazy, right?

Countries in the European Union
Switzerland and Norway are among the few who did not join

Due to the current economic crisis in Greece and Italy,
a recent UK newspaper headline read
'EU Demands £25bn Lifeline From UK'

That doesn't feel fair to the British who have their own economic woes
and decided to keep its currency { Pound Sterling } from the beginning
as a way to hold on to their sovereignty

Map of the European Union

The demands and threats toward the British to financially help with the euro crisis
has led 59% of those surveyed wanting to leave the EU,
25% wanting to stay, and 16% not sure,
according to a UK newspaper, The Sunday Telegraph

In a country where NO ONE has bumper stickers on his/her car
{ it is tacky to display your opinions so publicly },

I actually have seen a few promoting the UK to leave the EU
{ or maybe it is just the same car I see over and over again }

Euro notes replaced many national currencies in 2002
Not used by all EU countries, including UK and Denmark

What has the EU meant to me?
Aside from taxes, new laws I'm not aware of, and a great variety of imports in the stores,

I can't help but be a little envious of EU citizens buzzing
through passport control as I stand in the long non-EU citizen line

I see cars and big lorries on the highways with licenses plates from all over Europe

When we travel through Europe, 
it is convenient to use the same currency when we cross borders

{ But I must say the bland artwork on the euro makes me sad for the countries 
who lost their beautiful, meaningful depictions of their culture on their own currency }

2012 could be an interesting year for the EU 

Will the European Union break up?
Will a few countries be forced to abandon the euro?
Will the UK decide to leave?

Stay tuned...

P.S. Post Of The Month Club will resume January 31 :)

Images: Wikipedia 1, 2

26 December 2011

Boxing Day

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Today is Boxing Day in the UK, 
a secular holiday celebrated in many countries worldwide 
{not in the US}

Historically employers gave bonuses and 'boxed up' leftover food to employees on this day
It was a time to give an 'Alms Box' to the poor

It also has been the day for the Boxing Day Hunt
Fox hunting dates back to the 16th century in England
Controversially, fox hunting has been banned since 2004

[image: Daily Mail]

Today for many, it is the busiest retail day filled with shopping and sales
Think 'Black Friday' in the US after Thanksgiving

It is also another day of a Tube strike

As much as I love Christmas,
it is a bit too messy for me around the house
So I am trying to convince the kids 'Boxing Day'
means putting Christmas decorations away into boxes :)

Clever, no?
{ they aren't buying it }

It is also a family day of relaxing by the fire

Happy Boxing Day!

P.S. Next Post Of The Month Club will be January 31st :)

Content: Wikipedia
Photo by me

15 December 2011

Christmas, English Style

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

As my daughter will remind you in her daily countdown,
Christmas is only 10 days away!

I believe today is '10 Lords A-Leaping' Day :)

Christmas in England is very similar to the US
with Christmas trees, stockings, carolers, and Christmas cards
{ generic ones only - a photocard of your family is considered self-absorbed }

Outdoor decorations are kept to a minimum with just a few 'fairy lights', if anything at all

Children leave mince pies and milk for Santa, instead of cookies

Mince pies filled with fruit, spices, and sugary syrup

Hot alcoholic drinks are in great variety
I just tried my first not-so-favorite Hot Toddy today
{ whiskey, honey, spices, hot water }

But thumbs up on the warm Mulled Wine :)

Absolutely no eggnog to be found - that's American { & Canadian }

Traditional Christmas dinners will include turkey, stuffing & Christmas pudding in England

Christmas Crackers are pulled open between two people
with little surprises falling out
- a paper crown, trinket, or something written on a piece of paper -

Christmas trees are placed in flagpole holders on the village high streets

There are some outdoor skating rinks in winter
Below, Henry VIII's Hampton Court serves as a beautiful background with an Ice Marshal (?!) on hand

Nature provides some of the quintessential Christmas decor,
such as holly

and parasitic mistletoe in the trees
{ original idea for Christmas ornaments? }

As they say in England,
Happy Christmas!
to you this holiday season

May it be cheery and bright :)

all photos by me

11 December 2011

'The Holiday' With A Twist

'Tis the perfect time to confess that one of the reasons I moved to England was 
I was hoping to live in or next to this...

Iris's Cottage from 'The Holiday'
[from Chalk & Talk Blog]

Do you remember this cozy cottage from the film, 'The Holiday'? 
I have visited Shere several times,
where portions of the movie were filmed 
but I've never been able to find this house
{ Otherwise I'd be writing from there now }

This delightful romantic comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet 
is a classic chick flick to put you in the holiday mood

In a nutshell, their characters swap homes for Christmas - 
Diaz's contemporary Southern California home for 
Winslet's English country cottage and vice versa

A few yummy scenes / eye candy of the English cottage from 'The Holiday' 
Love, love, love!
{ via Cote de Texas }

This last photo makes me laugh because 
I really did sleep in my big parka and scarf just last week! 

I live an old home that is cold and drafty
If I could knit myself a nose hat, I would :)

Now for some photos from the movie set in England
I believe a lot of these photos are from the DVD's Special Features
{ via Hooked On Houses }

Blowing Fake Snow For Wintry Scenes

This is the High Street in Shere
Ah, I just love Shere

Now, ready for a little twisty? 
Here are more photos of my old, charming 17th Century cottage, in the making...

Unbelievable, I know - a bit of a heartbreak
The house was thrown up in just a few weeks in a field {and since torn down}
Now I know why I couldn't find that cottage! But here's the good news

This cottage is for available to rent in the Cotswolds and looks like Iris's cozy home

Slatter's Cottage, Cotswolds

And the other good news is I now know I can hire a movie crew 
to build me a charming 17th Century English cottage one day :)

Iris's Cottage, 'The Holiday'


Related Posts: 'Crazy Quaint' Shere, Film Locations: The Holiday & Bridget Jones
Reposted from December 20, 2010

09 December 2011

Center Parcs

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Repeatedly, I heard from others that we MUST take our kids for a long weekend to Center Parcs

With four locations to choose from in England,
we packed our bags and headed to Longleat Village for a 'family camp' adventure

One of many water slides

Open year round, each location is situated on 400 acres of forest
and features a long list of indoor and outdoor activities, 
including a subtropical indoor pool complex with a lazy river, wave pool, and water slides

With so many options, we had difficulty narrowing down what to do
but ultimately we chose scuba diving instruction, aqua jetting, laser clay shooting, a treasure hunt on bicycles,
and a chance to handle cutie-pie animals

That's just the tip of the iceberg of what they offered

Zipline platform on left side of photo

Cabins are fancy or not, depending on budget
We could eat in the various restaurants on campus or
cook meals in our cabin's kitchen
An impressive grocery store was on site as well

Row of cabins

One of the great things about Center Parcs is
it's a great vacation for families with kids of multiple ages
There really is something for everybody

Bikes are the main mode of transportation

Will we be back? Well, with so many activities yet to do,
that answer is a no-brainer

My kids would tell you, not soon enough :)

More info: Center Parcs
(I received nothing in return for this review)

07 December 2011

2012 Olympics Poster Art

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

How do locals feel about the Olympics coming to the London area in 2012?

To be honest, the public isn't real keen on funding an Olympics during these tough economic times
and London has already hosted 'The Games' two times prior

And it is not like London craves the international spotlight with last year's Royal Wedding
and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this June

People are concerned about the transportation reality during those three Olympic weeks next summer

But it has motivated London to upgrade its subway system,
the oldest underground railway in the world (since 1863)

Interestingly, there is a large variety of official Olympic Games posters for sale

This one is my fav...

English painter Bridget Riley arranged colors in horizontal stripes
to represent the direction of athletic tracks and swimming lanes

I just love it

Fancy a look at other 2012 Olympics posters?
View them here

Catch some interesting Olympic scoop from my previous post here

05 December 2011

Boris Bikes

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Introduced in July 2010, London has a successful public bicycle sharing scheme
with bikes and 'docks' located throughout the city

Nicknamed 'Boris Bikes' after Boris Johnson, the current Mayor of London,
these bikes can get you around town faster than tube or taxi

But beware, vehicular traffic is congested with few bike lanes

Sitting on the same latitude as Russia, 
England gets dark early in winter 
so each Boris Bike is equipped with excellent lighting

Bell not included :)

For dock locations & info: Transport of London