Wednesday, September 2, 2015

(Almost) Open House 2015

OK, so it's not completely ready for entertaining. But we've hung the new Windsor Castle pano pic of the girls on the wall in the formal living/dining room and now it just feels like home. And when I say hung, I mean used those sticky velcro numbers to put it on the wall since we can't use nails per the lease agreement. We've done a lot of propping and settling for less wall decor since these are temporary digs anyway.

Here is a pic of my fave pic from the photo shoot on the Long Walk at Windsor. I love the brilliant greens of summer with the contrast of their autumn hued clothes and the misty castle in the background. A person off the street would have no clue it's our girls in the pic, but I love the artistic quality of this image.

On the opposite end of the formals room we placed two sofas and a chair. I really like the gas fireplace and plan to crank it up once the temps have dropped sufficiently. Ollie was following me around as I snapped these shots and promptly made himself at home on the sofa. When I sit in there to read, Ollie likes to post himself on the back of the sofa in front of the wall of windows and birdwatch.

The kitchen, with its informal dining and sitting area, is still taking shape, mainly because we made some room adjustments once we got here. Initially intending to have the L-shaped kitchen area filled with both formal and informal dining tables, we did a bit of shuffling in order to have a comfortable seating area adjacent to the kitchen. Here is the informal dining. The seating area opposite it currently consists of a buffet, rug, TV and two wooden chairs plus a barstool we're using as a side table. We'll continue to make do with this little set-up until our bespoke sofa, chair and coffee table arrive at the end of this month. 

In the entryway, we have a large table anchored by a family pic taken when the college junior was the same age as her younger sister (14). I also threw in a coat rack to hold the larger umbrellas and damp jackets. 

The small buffet adjacent to the front door holds a second stretched canvas of the girls taken at Windsor. I also stacked a pewter bowl atop a couple books to hold keys to the front door because we seem to constantly be locking and unlocking it every time you turn around. The drawers are also handy for holding things like Ollie's leash so the doggie daycare gal Chloe has easy access to it.

A home in damp and chilly England wouldn't be complete without a shoe holder at the front door to contain footwear that shouldn't be tromping across the cream tiles or carpet that show every little bit of dirt. I like the bronze colour, and the Texas star is a lovely touch.

The final stop on this initial tour of the house is the area beneath the stairs. It's an odd space that slants. I decided it was an ideal spot for Ollie's kennel - easy access and would have gone unused anyway. The cowhide rug adds a splash of colour. I'm still pondering whether we need a piece of furniture there to make it look complete. I'd love to make a trip to the Sunbury Antiques Market and see if I could find something interesting to put there. Until then, this is as good as it's gonna get.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


The Brits do seem to love a good big box store. They'd lay an egg if Target hopped the pond. On Friday I went to the brand new Costco that is much closer to the house than those in Reading or Croydon, and it was busy as a bed of fire ants that's just been run over by a lawnmower. 

I'm convinced it's the samples of food that lure them in droves. You just don't get anything gratis over here like you do in the US. No chips and salsa at the local Tex-Mex place. No bread and butter at the local steakhouse. No peanuts to be cracked and then shells thrown on the floor. You're lucky to get a pitcher of free tap water rather than the bottled still you have to pay for.

Despite the masses, I had a great time cruising up and down every aisle taking in their offerings. I scored some American brownie mix and US sized paper towels. It's a good thing we brought over storage shelves to set up in the garage to store bulk goodies.

I've got an appointment to get my hair coloured in a couple days and the ladies know how important it is to establish service at a local salon. Nothing drags down your self esteem like long gray roots. And my new Precor elliptical will be delivered tomorrow, hallelujah. I joined a local low rent gym and hate it, all of the young 20 somethings and cheap cardio machines. I'll be happy to get back to my usual cardio workouts in the privacy of my own home. I just hope the delivery and set-up guys don't have a problem wrestling it to the top floor (3rd if you're from the US, but 2nd if you're local). 

Stillllllll no danged debit card for me and it's driving me nuts. First it got stalled because they didn't have a copy of my UK visa. Then it was decided I need to cough up proof I actually live at this address with my husband. Alas, my name isn't on any of the utilities and so I've put in a call to the bank rep to see how this can be handled. I've become the queen of cash at the local ATM, paying practically everything in bills like a mafia wife. I had to switch over to a bigger wallet to accommodate my wad of dead presidents queens.

So yeah, slowly but surely we're getting everything fixed and settled. I'm expecting the last of the furniture in a few weeks, so I'll have to post pics of the house once everything gets here. We're expecting our first house guests in December, so I believe we'll be ready for them by then.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I've never made one of these, but couldn't resist. I'm still mourning the suspension of my teaching career while we're living in England, and can't wait to get back into the classroom at some point in the future upon our return to Texas. Until then, I'll have to settle for hours of free time during the day to fill as I please. 

And thus emerges the butterfly

This morning I snapped the obligatory first day of school pics to document the now 9th grader's return to school in the UK. Back into the uniform. Back on the bus. Back to attending classes with kids from all over the globe. 

I rifled through the picture vault and rustled up pics from the first day of school when the younger daughter was in 5th and 6th grades. She threatened to kill me if I posted them on social media. 

I think it's telling that I had trouble posting the younger daughter's 9th grade pics from this morning because it kept tagging her as her older sister, the college junior.

It seems she is looking more like her older sister these days, coming into her own and moving out of that awkward stage. With a six year age gap, they've finally reached the point where they can wear each other's clothes. Not that it's really helpful or possible with the coed in Texas and the high schooler in England, but there are always school breaks and summers. 

Best wishes for a wonderful start to an outstanding high school career. This is it for me, the baby of the two beginning her last four years in the nest. I'm praying for academic success, solid friendships, fulfilling her potential, and a teenage bedroom that doesn't look as if a bomb exploded in there.

Friday, August 21, 2015

It's like we live on the other side of the planet

Last Saturday, the husband and his parents moved our college junior into her new apartment at a large Texas university. I must admit, I was kinda sad to miss the occasion. You see, for the past two years I've flown with her to South Carolina to help her move into her dorm and apartment. In January of this year, I also made the trek to her new transfer uni back in Texas to get her moved into the sorority house. This year I'm stuck over here in England unable to help at all.

Mind you, I'm not missing the heavy lifting. And sweating. But I am sad about the fact that I didn't get to meet the new roommates and their parents. Or get to run around and make last minute purchases for the new digs. Plus I need a new college hoodie to represent over here in Europe like all of the other Americans that think it's appropriate to go abroad with their favourite high school, college or pro team logo on their shirt, hat, backpack, keychain, pen, sunglasses, etc. But I didn't get to make a run to the local bookstore for the above college items.

The grandparents snapped a few pics and sent them to me. So yeah, I'll admit the exterior of the apartment complex, brand new this year, looks lovely. 

But I still want to see what the inside looks like and I'm getting no cooperation from my incommunicado child. She's busy with rush prep, but surely she could take a couple phone pics and send them to me. I've asked her to do this a couple times now and so I know she knows I want to see it. And I know she knows it's driving nosey me nuts that she hasn't coughed up the photos yet. I love her dearly, but she can be sooo irritating sometimes. Maybe I'll just make a run up there in October when I'm back in Texas (for a little medical procedure, yo) so we can have lunch and I can FINALLY satisfy my curiosity about where she's living.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

We've Arrived

We've been in England for 10 days, seven spent camping out in the new house on blow up air mattresses until this

rolled up the street. We were SO excited to receive our sea container full of household goods. The house is far from being completed to my standards, but we've made a good start. We had to order a bit more furniture - bespoke - and so we'll be waiting on it for a good eight weeks while they chop down trees and crank up the loom to create the upholstery for our new sofa and chair.

Our family wouldn't be complete without the arrival of Ollie,

looking dwarfed by the super tall hedges in our back garden.

Plus the co-ed joined us from her study abroad summer spent in Spain. 

We celebrated our return to life abroad with some pics taken at Windsor Castle's Long Walk this morning. In true British style, we had to break out the brolly when the weather alternated between a light mist and weak sun. I can't wait to see the proofs and pick a glorious one of the girls for a wall here in our new Surrey home. Cheers to a successful move!

Friday, July 24, 2015

The End is Nigh

Yep, we're about to be deprived of Tex-Mex, sweet tea and Texas temps with our move to England on Sunday. We closed on the sale of our house Wednesday, so it's time. Time to join the husband who has been in the UK for almost a month in his new gig. Time to contemplate setting up our new home. Time to enjoy milder temps. And time to be a little homesick once the new wears off. 

Catch up with y'all on the other side of the pond once we get wifi in the house in the first week of August.