26 February 2013

Skiing In Europe

We found a good deal for a weekend in Switzerland,
so we hopped at the chance to go

One reason we went
was to feel some sunshine at last!

Still new to the whole 'skiing in Europe' thang,
here's a a few observations

1. You can ski in most European countries,
including Portugal, Poland, and Bulgaria

2. You can ski over country borders at some resorts (how cool is that?!)

3. Notice the key on the trail map,
as beginner runs may be marked blue in Switzerland and Austria
or green in Spain and Sweden

4. Don't assume you can ski to the bottom of the mountain
You may need to take a train, tram, or gondola down

5. Europeans make more use of the mountain than Americans
such as chill out zones with hammocks, lounge chairs, and a tiki bar
and an extensive network of sledding runs

6. At our resort, a computer checked our tickets, which opened the gates

7. Although I've never tried it,
did you know there is snow skiing in Scotland
and even in England's Pennines and Lake District?

8. And if you seek snow fun without the travel,
we found some indoors at an 'adventure plaza' in Milton Keynes

Trying to make the most of winter,
but I must admit I am ready for the sun to bust a move
and get those blooms going!

- all photos by me -

P.S. Dots are appearing on my images once downloaded here, but not on the originals. Has anyone else had that problem?

(an unsponsored post) 

21 February 2013

A Tricky Question: Where Are You From?

I learned early on that asking an expat
'Where are you from?'
can be a loaded question

Does it mean
Where were you born?
Where did you last live?
Which country do you identify with most?

Vintage luggage via Faye Travis Vintage

There are different kinds of expats I meet here
such as

- foreigners who live here and will return home
- expats who will stay here indefinitely (and possibly become citizens)
- those who have lived in many countries and will continue to live in many more

Where is 'home' if
...you bounce from country to country?
...each person in the family holds a different passport?
...you sold your home and have no idea where you will live next?

There is a term called 'Third Culture Kids'
that describes kids who live between cultures
- feeling like they don't totally belong to their host or home country -

We have lived out of the US for almost 3 years,
which means I have fallen out of touch with current events, 
hometown news, trends, and pop culture in America

Yet here there are a lot of cultural references I don't understand in England
because I've only lived here 3 years

Here's a look at what it is like to live between cultures

So Where's Home? A Film About Third Culture Kid Identity from Adrian Bautista on Vimeo.

We love all the opportunities and life lessons we glean from living abroad,
yet there are interesting challenges as well
Wishing you a wonderful day!
(an unsponsored post)

Related posts:
Reflecting On An Expat Upbringing
Raising Second Generation Expats

18 February 2013

Chin Chin Labs Nitro Ice Cream

Looking for a little culinary adventure?

How about smoking ice cream :)

Chin Chin Labs in Camden
blends its ice cream ingredients with liquid nitrogen upon order,
creating a real 'wow' effect as smoke pours out of blenders

So 'cool'!

- all photos by me -
(An unsponsored post)

14 February 2013

London Eye

Sure, we'd ridden the London Eye before
but never at night

This slow moving Ferris wheel has amazing views
even in the rain 
(as we found out)

It is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe
and opened December 31, 1999

If I recall correctly, it was supposed to be a temporary installment,
but its popularity made it a permanent addition to the London skyline
(and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the UK)

Now equipped with touch screens inside capsules
to give information about visible landmarks,
this attraction is even better than it was a few years ago

For a few minutes,
we got the Peter Pan view of Big Ben's Clock Tower
and the River Thames

Stunning :)

- all images by moi -
Source: Wikipedia
(an unsponsored post)

09 February 2013

England's Literature Festivals

In such a small country,
it seems a famous author (dead or alive)
is never very far away :)

Purses handcrafted from books by Novel Creations

And periodically,
a lot of them congregate at literature festivals :)

Check these out

March 1 - 10, 2013
Tickets on sale now

Bath will host over 150 events for 10 days in March
Featured authors include J.K. RowlingHilary Mantel
P.D. JamesKate MossePat BarkerHarriet Walter
Darcey BussellSandi ToksvigRobert FiskGavin Esler
A.N. WilsonAllan LittleBen Goldacre and many more

Graphic art available via Hair Brained Schemes

March 16 - 24, 2013
Tickets on sale now

Over 160 events are now listed, with more to come
Some big names include Booker winners Julian Barnes and Hilary Mantel,
former Cabinet minister Jack Straw, novelist Alexander McCall Smith,
broadcaster Nick Robinson, Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, 
children's novelists Cornelia Funke, Anthony Horowitz, 
and Sue Townsend of 'Adrian Mole' fame

Hay Festival of Literature (Wales)
May 23 - June 2, 2013

Tickets now on sale to see John le Carré, Carl Bernstein, 
Elif Shafak, Christy Moore and Dana O'Briain
More event details to be released in April

September 27 - October 6, 2013 
No current information available

October 4 - 13, 2013
No current information available

Bookmark I made the other day with the kids

An English mom recently told me 
classic literature is not being taught in their school anymore
and being replaced by modern books to grab students' interest in reading

I have mixed feelings about that
While I see their point of nurturing the love of reading (so important),
 how can students not be introduced to classic literature, 
especially in England, the birthplace of so many famous written words?

What do you think?
(An unsponsored post)

06 February 2013

Driving On The Left

Reflecting on passing my driving test 2 years ago,
I now find myself to be an 'ambidextrous driver'

Which means, when I look at a road with no markings
I could pull into either lane, as they both feel right (!)

It means to get in the driver's seat,
I might open the right door or the left door

I may look over my right shoulder or left shoulder for the seat belt

In other words,
it just gives me more opportunity to look like a total heel :)

Now, a curious thing is staircases
Walk on the left or right side?

I find pedestrians aren't consistent with this one
(or on sidewalks)

Here's a few other curiosities

Recently I noticed there are no fire hydrants in England
Instead, they have unassuming water taps in the road for emergencies

These street drains are actually miracle workers
making water disappear almost instantly on roads when raining

They are smaller than the American versions
and more efficient

England is much more rural than outsiders realize
I spied this less than 20 miles from the center of London

What a hilarious slogan for a portable toilet business

Many old buildings had very short doors
(only the wealthy had tall ones)

This clever restaurant padded the top of their 5' door frames
Duck or else :)

I still find little culinary adventures
This prune/bacon morsel is called Devils On Horseback

And I continue to be amazed by how brief the winters are here
Snowdrops and daffodils are already blooming

with crocuses on the way :)

Love that!

- all photos by me -

03 February 2013

Ideas For Scrapbooking

You won't be surprised to know
scrapbooking is one of my passions

- capturing the moments big and small -

Every year I make a personalized scrapbook for each of my kiddos,
which is made easier with digital photo books

I make the first book for my son
and then copy it for my daughter

I then revise it by adding her birthday and friend photos
and 'girl it up' with papers, stickers and ribbons

There are countless methods, programs, and websites to use
but I like Shutterfly

They have simple photo books that allow you
 to drop your photos in the book and order,
or a customizable option if you are more crafty inclined 
(more time consuming but I'm happy with the end product)

Regardless, I think photo books are so important
not only to help hold memories
but also a priceless memento to pass down

This year I am incorporating more maps into my scrapbook
to indicate where we live, work and go to school

Here's a sample page I made for you :)

Each year I trace my children's hands onto
a newspaper article, map, or brochure
and paste it into the book once it arrives in the mail

Aside from recording their height and weight,
I have a long list of questions I ask each year, such as:

Who are your best friends, and what is your favorite subject in school?

What is your favorite movie, book, and food?

What is your favorite sports team (for him) or stuffed animal (for her)?

Where is your happy place?

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I write up brief bios of each family member (including pets)
and record important news stories from the year

We take photos of the school, the building my husband works in,
rooms in the house, and our favorite pizza restaurant
to try to capture the 'everyday'

I have the kids photograph things in their room
that are important to them

Not only are the photos at their eye level,
but it is a chance to literally look through their eyes

I'm off to get in a little more scrapping done today...

Do you have tips to share?
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