Less than a month to go

January 21, 2009 at 10:20 pm (Cats, Me, Moving to the US)

We are now counting down the days before we say goodbye to our lives in Britain. Tomorrow J will be having his visa interview at the US Embassy in London. To say that tomorrow could be a turning point in our lives is an understatement! I ran out of patience on New Year’s day and booked my  flights, so I will be leaving mid-February. Depending at how tomorrow goes, so will J and the cats.

In the meantime, we’ve been busy making arrangements, canceling services, deciding what should be sold and what we should take with us (hint: not very much) and we’ve had the decorator/handyman in to finish off a lot of jobs that we’d managed to avoid in the last two years.

Yesterday, the cats went to the vet for their annual checkup and immunizations. They also got the rabies injection in preparation for their own immigration to the United States. Interesting that the rabies jab is not a requirement for pet entry to United States, but is always recommended, because it is sometimes required depending on the state. J remarked to me that it’s going to be very strange thinking of laws being at a national level and the state level, and then I reminded him that there are also county laws, and possibly city laws. Truly, the United States will seem foreign to both of us.

There is still a huge task list to get through before we can leave for the US. We’re even managing the move to the US in Basecamp!

And then, this evening I broke a handmade mug that J’s mom gave it to us, that we were planning to bring with us. Well, that makes packing a little easier (and we have two more just like it)…


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Ten years in the UK

January 18, 2009 at 10:00 pm (Me)

I’ve just had a huge milestone. I celebrated 10 years of living in the UK. Just a few drinks with colleagues the day before, and a nice evening with J on the anniversary itself.

I must admit, a few months ago I didn’t want to reach 10 years in the UK, but it at least it’s an honest response when someone asks, ‘How long were you living in the UK?’ and then I get to watch their eyes boggle…… 😉

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Reading marathon

November 15, 2008 at 6:33 pm (Decluttering, Me, Moving to the US) (, )

The husband and I have spent the majority of today decluttering the office/spare room. I have family coming to stay soon and I’d like them to have a properly relaxing room!

As we sorted through office supplies, files, scraps of paper, cables and all sorts of other detritus, we discovered even more books we had stashed away. We can’t take all of our books with us to the States (cost is prohibitive) so my queue of Books To Read is getting ever bigger.

So, I’ve decided that I won’t be watching any more TV just for the sake of it. I’ll be reading instead. At least for the rest of this week…….

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To repat or not?

October 5, 2008 at 5:01 pm (Me, Moving to the US)

Oh, it was all going so well. I was sure I was ready to move back to the US. But my feelings have changed. All became clear in the last 24 hours. I’ve just come back from a *brilliant* weekend away with colleagues on the Dorset coast, and realised how enjoyable life can be here in the UK. Good people, good times, fab cute rambling cottages with wonky floors,  good weather 1 out of 3 days… what’s not to love? 😉

Maybe we’ll just postpone the move. Never say never, right? There’s a lot of factors that will make or break our move to the US.

  • Mortgage payment on our house will be changing (increasing, almost certainly) in November, and we don’t know yet what that will be. How much of a difference between mortgage and rent are we comfortable covering on a monthly basis
  • Work – neither of us have jobs in the US and both of us are freelancers. Hubbie’s contract is ending in January. That’s a pretty big leap of faith to walk away from our life here without any guaranteed income. Plus, see above
  • Health insurance…. one online quote suggested we’d be paying between $400-500 a month. That’s a lot. See above!
  • The economy and housing market is in the toilet, for the time being. Maybe it makes sense to hang tight here until we’re more sure of our financial situation.

I can see this news not being very popular with the folks back home….

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Deodorant: Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way, Part 2

July 21, 2008 at 8:52 pm (Me) (, , )

As a fan of natural beauty products, I’ve turned away from the standard chemical products that are on every shelf in supermarkets and drugstores.

Scares about antiperspirants have been so great that Unilever must have decided to fight the fire with this website, The Truth about Antiperspirants and Breast Cancer.

Conscious that body odor is not a great personal feature, I tested a few natural deodorants out to see what works best (for me). The natural deodorant products I’ve tried (there are loads more out there, so this isn’t an all-inclusive report!):

1. A solid stick deodorant based on natural ingredients
2. Roll-on based on Japanese spa minerals
3. Crystal deodorant (Ammonium alum – aka pure natural mineral salts)
4. Scented dusting powder based on natural ingredients

The verdict? The stick deo didn’t keep me smelling sweet all day long. Neither did the roll-on. The crystal deodorant kept my pits smelling fine, but armpit sweat got into my shirt, and made the shirt stinky. The dusting powder on it’s own didn’t quite do the trick either.

So, here’s my suggestion: Apply the crystal deo to freshly showered pits, making sure the pits are damp and the crystal is applied to the entire armpit area. When nearly dry, put a fine layer of dusting powder on your pits.

Given that the crystal deodorant can last up to two years*, meaning you won’t be responsible for purchasing lots of packaging over time, crystal deodorant  plus dusting powder is a clear winner.

What’s more, the dusting powder can be made at home with recipes found online.

Good luck!

*I dropped it and the lid cracked off – the crystal will outlive the packaging in my house!

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A Second Chance for Summer

July 16, 2008 at 10:09 pm (Me) (, , , , , , )

No, not in Britain, silly. That’s lunacy. No, here in my part of England it’ll  be a max of 20C/78F from now through the end of August. No running through sprinklers here – you’d freeze your ass off.

The Virgin sale to the US has been extended until August 4th. I dithered about booking a flight because of our financial situation, and the deadline was yesterday. Except, they’ve extended it. Excellent!

I have some nice friends in four states and a sister in yet another state who have said they’d give me a warm, dry place to sleep. Yay! I just need to work out if I want to do 5 states in 10 days or more or less. Plus there is making time to visit other family as well.

I will miss husband and the cats… but going to the US would be awesome-o.

Will decide another day if/when to go. It’s time for bed.

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Socks: Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way, Part 1

June 29, 2008 at 12:15 pm (Decluttering, Me) (, , )

Life lessons learned the hard way …. keeping socks in order :

  1. Don’t expect both socks will enter and exit the washing machine at the same time.
  2. Don’t buy just one pair of socks.
  3. Instead, pretend you’re a spider and buy four pairs of socks. That way, you have a better chance of having actual matching pairs to wear. Also, as they wear out one by one, you can continue wearing them as pairs.
  4. At the very least, pretend you’re a sheep, cat, hippo etc.
  5. Don’t bother with cute little devices to keep socks together. They are clutter and a pain to use.
  6. Instead, use a corner of a non-sock drawer to store the orphaned socks. Try to reunite them every time you are putting away clean socks.

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What I miss about the USA

June 14, 2008 at 1:58 pm (Me, Moving to the US) (, , , )

  • The weather, specifically, having four proper seasons. It’s June and I’m wrapped up like it’s March. In winter down in southern England, it snows once a year and is melted by 10am.
  • The sun. Don’t get me wrong, I love that it’s green, but I’d just like the clouds to go away if they aren’t going to be productive.
  • The wildlife. Chipmunks and raccoons are very cute! With some quiet patience, they can be observed going about their business. I’ll never forget the time we happened upon some raccoons raiding our garbage bins when I lived in the Bay Area, CA. One was literally dangling from a tree by his front legs, about to make his move. A friend of mine there is even a raccoon foster carer!
  • The holidays. Halloween and Christmas just aren’t the same here, and of course there isn’t Thanksgiving or Fourth of July. We do make our own celebrations, of course, but it takes a lot of planning, insider knowledge and luck to assemble ingredients such as canned pumpkin and whole frozen cranberries.
  • Having family in the same time zone / country. I highly doubt I’ll ever live in the same state as family, but being 4 hours away by plane rather than 10 has got to be better! Three time zones instead of 7 is definitely better.

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Hair Me Out

April 20, 2008 at 11:44 am (Me) (, , )

So here I am, well into my thirties, and still figuring out my hair. I went through a phase when I thought hair really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and to some degree I still believe that. But my fine, lank hair looks bad really, really easily, and that doesn’t help anyone.

I also struggle with gray hair and am too young to go au naturel (IMHO) but want to avoid nasty chemicals on me and in my home. But this comes into direct conflict with my feelings about gray hair. What to do?

I’ve tried natural hair colors based on minerals and henna. The mineral hair colors work the best. Henna is a nightmare to use. It is just so messy and takes up a good chunk of your day.

I’ve had professional highlights done. There’s this theory that highlights will help blend the gray away, by making the lighter hair merge with the gray. It seems to work for a few months, but then you have multicolored hair and it’s pretty obvious that the gray hair is still there.

Finally, I got clever. I bought useful tools. One is a plastic brush with a pointed end. The pointed end helps parts the hairs so one can use the brush to apply color to the roots. The other is a small plastic mixing cylinder with measurements marked on the side. Commercial hair colors can be mixed in any amount, as long as the ratio is 50:50. So I can mix enough to do my roots, without

  • exposing my entire head to chemicals
  • slow down the amount of waste I send to landfill
  • save money

So this means I can get the odd professional highlights done, but in between I can touch up the roots at the front of my face. Seems like a good compromise.

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In Sickness and In Filth

January 12, 2007 at 6:36 pm (House renovation, Me)

The electricians finished up the major electrical work yesterday. It’s been nice having a day with no noise and shouting. However, everything is covered in a layer of dust (brick and plaster) or just actual chunks of plaster. They’ll come back when the new boiler goes in, and later when the kitchen and bathroom go in. Many of the old socket/switch covers haven’t been removed.

On Saturday I felt like I was coming down with something and it’s only been since yesterday (Thursday) that I felt well enough to do much of anything. It was a nasty cold / tonsilltis. Poor J has been trying to work, deal with the electricians, do the cooking and everything else.

Today I cleaned our bedroom and we’ll be sleeping in there tonight. My computer is now set near J’s in the 2nd bedroom/office.

The new central heating installation starts Wednesday (probably, otherwise it’ll be the Monday after next). The heating engineer assures me their job is less messy…. hope so!

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