Today Is My Day

Today is my last day at my current job. I started as a temp in January 2017 & now I am moving on to bigger and better things. Today I dedicate this poem by my favorite Dr Seuss to all of us making changes for the better today!

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.


You’ll be on y our way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t
Because, sometimes they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike,
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never foget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!


Writer’s Block

As you can see its been a while since I’ve “put pen to paper” and written on my blog. A part of it was I was getting bored. Writing just to write hasn’t ever been my thing-  I’m more of a chatty, 2 way street, discussion sort of person. So writing just one side of a conversation I’m having in my head is sort of odd.

Being lazy was another big part of it – coming up with ideas and content about things people might care about is harder then one thinks. I found myself “writing” posts in my head but I never bothered to record any of it.

Lastly, and probably the hardest to admit, and possibly for a reader to believe – I feel like my life isn’t exciting enough to warrant talking about it. Yes, I do live in another country – but its normal now. We live our normal life – work, cooking, sorting out the house. Plus the UK is pretty similar to the US so it’s not a massively drastic change. Honestly I find myself thinking a lot – who wants to read about my life – I work in an office 5 days a week, I cook at home most nights and we watch TV and Netflix. And not even interesting, controversial shows. I’m currently on season 3 of Bones watching it right through.

But since coming home from our holiday to the US, I’ve woken up to the fact that most people’s lives are a lot like mine and they blog about it. They have social media empires based on lives possibly more dreary then mine. And plus why not? If I can make my readers laugh on occasion or think, or just give them a break from their day to day to read about my day to day – then I will have done something.

Plus when I do get busy or get to do exciting things I can write about it here! So here’s to 2018 and blogging and instagramming and building my social media town (I’m a long way off from an empire).

Is Life A Cake Walk?

In a country where they take their baking so seriously that they have a prime time TV show about it – why is it so hard to find a decent baker to make a MOIST cake for a birthday? It’s like trying to find El Dorado without a map!

It’s times like these where I dream of Piece of Cake – my favorite Atlanta bakery.  I can close my eyes and see their white chocolate layer cake with the nuts around the top… holy wow they are so good! Must remember to buy one next time I’m in Atlanta.

But back to Berkshire and cakes or lack thereof. There are some bakeries – big national chains and smaller ones, but they either a) charge a fortune – I’m talking £100+ for a single cake or b) they have a very limited menu that only involves dry victoria sponge cakes. Don’t get me wrong – there are days I love a nice VS, with the fresh cream and jam in the middle. Not too sweet and is perfect with cake. But not at a party with drinks!

At this point I am seriously considering ordering a costco cake (feeds 48!) for a whopping £16! I’ve never had a costco cake before, let alone a UK Costco cake. As much as I adore Costco here, it’s like a little slice of america, I’m not sure I trust them to make a moist american cake.

This is what I was really hoping for –

A really pretty and simple 3-4 tier cake with some sprinkles. A nice pink champagne flavor, or white chocolate or some other yummy flavor, no jam, no cream. Just a nice, moist cake. That won’t cost me a fortune. I’ve resorted to going to wedding fairs every weekend hoping to find a baker who can do this and not charge me the earth. So far – nothing. Just dry, overpriced cakes.

So here in Reading, I think it’s safe to say life isn’t a cake walk.


The Great British Bake Off

Unless you live under a rock, or maybe not on this rock in the middle of the sea, you know that last night GBBO returned to our TVs. This year, however, its being aired on channel 4 and we had a new judge and two new hosts.

The Great British Bake Off is a staple of british culture – its a little bit like the Super Bowl in the US except its multiple episodes and no one likes the commercials. And its not a sports ball game… so what I’m getting at is its really nothing like the Super Bowl. It’s like GOT – without the death but all the drama.

These are the new faces of bake off – Noel Fielding, Sandi Toksvig, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.


You can tell they are working very hard to live up to Mary Berry, Sue & Mel. Noel and Sandi were funny but not Mel and Sue funny, but that chemistry (note the baking pun) takes time to rise (I’m full of them!).

The first challenge – the fruit cake, was a bit of a let down. I was hoping for some classic british cake – one of those checkerboard ones or something a little more out there. But a fruit cake is a fruit cake!

gallery-1503395538-chris-gbboThe technical bake – can we just talk about that? Hello yuck! I am a massive chocolate peppermint fan but those little role things just looked awful! It’s like a british take on the twinkie’s brother the swiss role. They don’t have any flour in them (is that even a cake without flour?) and that one older guy in the back who just couldn’t get it right… bless him.

This week’s showstopper challenge was on point – that’s for sure! Making a lifesize replica cake is crazy for week one! I for one was very excited and nervous for the bakers as they had 4 hours for their challenge. What they came out with was amazing – did you see the bowl of ramen? Or the champagne bucket? The loaf of bread and BLT Steve’s made was crazy realistic!

Final thoughts – I will continue to DVR previous season of GBBO to get my Mary Berry, Sue and Mel fix but I think since channel 4 didn’t mess with a good thing I will be a dedicated watcher this year again. Besides – if I’m not, what will I talk to my co-workers about on Wednesdays?

Homesickness- Not Just For Campers

Homesick as defined by


1.sad or depressed from a longing for home or family while away from them for a long time.

As a kid I remember vividly being homesick when I was at camp. The first time I did a week at a sleepaway girl scout camp I got physically ill I was so homesick – fever, chills, not sleeping. Needless to say I did not have a good time that summer. The next summer I went back and loved it, so much that I did 2 week and then a month. I still missed my family but I was having too much fun to notice.
When we moved from Belgium back to the US my freshmen year I was very homesick for Belgium – for my friends, my school, familiar surroundings and even speaking in french. I did my best to keep in contact with my friends via MSN messanger etc (world pre facebook) but it was hard. They were busy, I was busy and there’s a 6 hour time difference. Naturally those friendships faded, I made new friends and so did they. Belgium because more of a distant memory then home.
By the time I left for college I’d spent many summer abroad away from home & my family. I felt more than prepared to be a few hours drive away. I don’t remember specifically being homesick as a freshmen, but my mom assures me it happened.
When Steve and I decided to move to the UK the idea of homesickness never really crossed my mind. It never occurred to me I would have a hard time living overseas since I had done it as a child. Unfortunately I was very wrong. The first 8 months were extremely difficult. I wasn’t working and I didn’t know anyone. I found myself almost trapped in our flat. It was not an easy time for me.
Thankfully once I started working and met people life got better. We started to travel, we got a car and I started to connect with some locals. It was never like it was back home, but it wasn’t half bad.
Homesickness comes as goes, and when it gets bad it can be hard to want to communicate with loved ones at home because it just makes you miss them more. If you’ve reached out and I haven’t been responsive, it’s not that I don’t love you – it’s just I’m going through a rough patch which makes it hard. It’s also the reason I haven’t been actively blogging. I am working hard to try and overcome it but please bare with me during this period.

Hidden Cost of being an Expat

Thanks to technology expats like myself are not longer subject to cray long distance phone call prices just to keep in touch with our families. We have the benefit of skype, facetime, email and many other communication apps which are free or at the most $5 a month (what I pay skype for unlimited calls to US a month). We can text, snapchat and facebook message our friends and family at home when we miss them.

If we are so inclined we can send snail mail – which I am all about. My mom and I joke that the two of us are keeping the US post office in business. I love sending and receiving actual mail, despite the cost. In the US a stamp for a postcard costs $.35 and its good for the entire country. For international mail – postcard or a standard card or letter, its $1.15 for a forever international stamp. Not a fortune but it adds up.

Here in the UK, sending a postcard back to the US costs £1 – $1.30. Not bad, just a bit more than the US. Sending a standard birthday card or letter to the US from the UK costs a whopping £4.65! As you can imagine sending mail back to the US is very expensive. Luckily my mom is happy for me to mail her a lot of mail and she then mails it from the US saving me a lot of cash!

When our friends and family send us things its really awesome – its easy to feel left out and forgotten when we’re out of sight, out of mind. Getting cards, pictures and small packages makes us feel very special. Unfortunately there is a nasty downside to receiving mail. Due to strict customs and VAT policies – royal mail reserve the right to charge us for anything that is shipped to us from another country. I recently received 2 tanks tops valued at $15 each from a swap I did with Reddit. It cost me £13/$16 to get them out of customs. In other words I had to pay for 1/2 of the declared value of the package in order to get it.

Filing taxes is never a fun experience, but when you’re an american expat its even more painful. We have to file taxes in 2 countries – the UK and the US. Unfortunately turbotax isn’t an option for such complicated filing so most families spend upwards of $600 to have a professional international accountant file their taxes. Due to the high tax brackets here it’s unlikely we would owe the US taxes on top of what we pay here in the UK, but it also means we are very unlikely to get any sort of US tax return.

Another very expensive part of being an expat is visiting home. I’m sure most people would love us to come home every 3-4 months to visit and catch up, but most expats find a yearly trip back is all their budget can handle. For example I was tracking flights to come back in September for 2.5 weeks and this was the breakdown

  • £600+ flight
  • £50 gas to and from the airport
  • £50 extra suitcase on the way home
  • £300 for airbnbs when I couldn’t stay with friends or family
  • £500 car rental as my mom is driving my old car at the moment
  • £150 gas for rental car
  • £400 eating out money – when you visit everyone wants to go out to dinner with you
  • £200 miscellaneous expenses

Total:  £2250 = $2932

That doesn’t even cover the price of buying clothes and goods in the US we can’t get here. Simply put visiting is a massive financial undertaking. Regardless Steve and I are doing our very best to make a trip home at the end of 2017/early 2018. We are very blessed my parents have offered to help us with a car, a place to stay and some cash towards the flights but it’s still the most expensive trip we will take this year by far.

I dont write this post to make anyone feel bad for us nor am I asking for financial support. I simply want to open people’s eyes to the costs that they may not consider when it comes to friends and family living overseas.

Fellow expats – have I missed anything? Any other hidden/forgotten costs I’s left off? Let me know in the comments


The Expat Tag


I feel like I haven’t done much expat related blogging so I decided to do 10 questions Seychelles Mama posted to her blog!

1. Where were you born, where did you grow up and where do you currently live?

I was born in Greenwich CT USA. I grew up in Atlanta GA, Surrey UK, Brussels BELGIUM & back in Atlanta. My dad worked for a big american company in their international division so I moved around a bit as a kid. I spent 7 years living in europe as an expat with my family.

2. What made you leave your home country?

Steve took a job with a company who had an office in Reading. It was a big career move for him so we relocated here.

3. What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from?

Without fail they ask “why would you move to Reading?!” haha! It’s not that Reading isn’t a nice enough place, but most brits see the US like americans see the UK – with rose colored glasses. They can’t believe we gave up sunny, warm Georgia for England with gray skies and dark winters.

4. What was the easiest/hardest part in adjusting to your new country?

I think the easiest part of moving to the UK is the language. Having lived in Belgium I know how hard it is living somewhere you dont speak the language. I can remember trying to grocery shop with my mom when I was little and how hard it was- thankfully she speaks french fluently.

The hardest thing to adjust to here has been transportation/ lack of independence. In our first year we didn’t have a car so we were stuck using public transport or renting a car. Thankfully we bought our first car about a year ago but since it was a stick shift so I couldn’t drive it. Now that we have an automatic my US license isn’t valid so I have to take expensive lessons in order to be able to drive.

It’s been really hard going from being super independent- with my own car and schedule to now relying on public transport or Steve to take me places. I really miss being able to do things on my own – it often feels like I’m a highschool kid again and my parents are dropping me off and picking me up from the movies.

5. Images, words, or sounds that sum up the expat experience you’ve had so far?


We’ve moved house 3 times in 2.5 years


We’ve had a lot of visa issues with Steve changing jobs since we arrived


We’ve found the local expat community to be quite cliquey and its hard to make friends with


We’ve done a lot of traveling – 8 countries in 2.5 years

6. Your favorite food or drink item in your new country?

I have grown to love tea and traditional english sponge cake with jam and cream. Yum! I haven’t ventured into the world of making my own – I’m sticking with my US baking, but thankfully I can buy a yummy cake from Tesco for £2.50!

7. What is the one thing you said “yes” to in your new city that you wouldn’t say “yes” to back home?

Walking places. In the US we got in our car for everything – from going to the store to getting brunch. In fairness we lived in a suburban neighborhood so we couldn’t really walk places – but I feel like even if we could have we wouldn’t have. Here we walk into town for nights out, I walk home from work and during lunch I walk into town to run errands.

8. Are there any cultural norms/phrases in your new country which you can not stand?

  • Flat pancakes – they’re not pancakes they’re crepes but the brits won’t call them that
  • Splitting the bill equally. When a big group goes out to dinner and some people order bottles of wine, appetizers and a main but I order just a main and a drink, I dont want to have to split the bill equally because I spent much less. Drives me mad!
  • The lack of decent customer service. I find so often I have to fight with a store if I have an issue with their product or service. It almost seems like they make it so hard so you just won’t bother returning something or making a fuss.
  • 10 minute doctor’s appointments. I like to get to know my GP before they put their hands all over me but here its like an assembly line – 10 and you’re done no matter if you haven’t discussed everything.

9. What do you most enjoy doing in your new country?

Both Steve and I have really enjoyed the pub culture here. The ease of meeting up with friends for a drink is nice – we get out of the house but we dont have to go far since our local is just a few doors down.

The ability to travel internationally is definitely a plus here, along with the 30 days of holiday we both get, which allows us to take actual vacations and long weekend trips as opposed to squeezing everything into a few days like we did at home.

10. Do you think you will ever move home for good?

Never say never, but for the foreseeable future I dont see us moving back to the US. We sold everything before moving so going back would mean starting all over from scratch. Something we’ve done here – its very difficult, expensive and time consuming.