Immigration Visa Tips for Beginners

Looking back on my experiences of getting a spousal visa to come and live in America (IR-1), I thought I would share some of the things I wish I had known before I embarked on the whole process.

With that in mind, here are my tips for those of you who are thinking about making a permanent move and getting a visa to come and live in America. These tips may apply if you are looking at going the other way (US to UK), and if you are looking to move abroad somewhere else. As ever, I am not an expert, but I can talk from my own experience which may help … If you have any specific or further questions, feel free to leave a comment, or contact me and we can email.

visa tips beginners

Time || It takes more time to complete the process than you may anticipate – this was something my Hubby and I experienced – look around on various expat/visa forums and look at similar cases as yours to give you a rough idea of what might happen.

Money || It takes more money too than you may be anticipating – also the case for Hubby and I as new charges kept cropping up as we went through the process, including a new fee of $165 that came into effect on the day of my interview.

Forms || This links to the time factor – because forms may not be filled out correctly, or paperwork presented in a correct format, this can slow everything down. Always check, re-check and check again that you have signed everything, filled out all the parts needed and provided evidence as required – maybe even get someone to read over it. Chase things if you do not hear anything and keep asking if you have done things right.

Useful Links: Moving to America – The Visa Process  ||  Medical & Interview Process for The Move to America

Job || Do not give up your job at any point during the process until you physically have your visa (you are given time before you have to enter the country so you have time to give notice). As mentioned before, there can be delays, and you do not want to end up with one or two stages to get through but with no way of paying for it etc.

Support || I did the process myself, and it was not easy, and due to my own ineptitude, I am sure I contributed to the delays and frustrations. Get professional help if you can afford to do so, it cuts through the confusion of all the forms and helps you progress through everything. If you cannot pay for professional help, seek out those who have done it all before you and ask their advice.

Thanks for reading!

Throwback Thursday: 1980

Well, it is Thursday and I thought it would be fun to join in, for the first time (hello 21st century), with #ThrowbackThursday!

Here is me in 1980 – in a clothes basket! As you can see I was very much a smiler and found hiding in a wicker basket and jumping up a very entertaining way to spend an afternoon. I believe this photograph was taken in June of 1980, so I was about 18 months old here.

basket fun 1980

The number one single in the UK (about when the photograph of me was taken) was ‘Crying’ by Don McLean and I believe in June of 1980, the US number one single was ‘Funkytown’ by Lipps Inc!

The hit movie of this year, both in the UK and US, as far as I can find out, was Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.

Major news stories from this year included the massive volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state and the fatal shooting of John Lennon in New York.

I hope you found this trip back to 1980 interesting? What do you remember of that year – what stands out for you?

LDR: Tips for Beginners

A long distance relationship (LDR) is not something I think anyone enters into lightly. It may be started with much hope and – dare I say it – idealised views about how it will all develop, but I certainly found in my own LDR, you are aware of what it will be like, but you do have to go through various stages (which I describe below) to get on an even footing and be in a position to make it work for you.

If you are a beginner or newbie when it comes to a long distance relationship, understanding these stages will help prepare you for what may come. I am not a relationship expert, but having survived being apart from my husband for just over 4 years, I hope by sharing what I went through will give an insight and some support.

Stage 1: Rose-Tinted Filter
This is when you have just started your LDR and you are full of the excitement and positivity – the kind where you take super cute, nostalgic filtered photographs of yourself missing your loved one – and almost celebrate the distance, because you have someone who loves you and they are awesome.

Stage 2: Every Moment
Everyday life does not care that you are in an LDR and want to spend 8 hours on the phone with your significant other, there is work to be done and bills to be paid … during this time you become slightly obsessed with sharing every aspect of your time apart and start sending messages or pictures of everything you are doing.

Stage 3: Never Ending
Even though you may know an end date to your LDR or when you will get to see the one you love again (which I did not), at a certain point, the positivity from the beginning will start to fade as you get fed up with being apart (usually if this has been longer than anticipated). It is at this point you need to have good friends or family around you who will keep you going.

Stage 4: Pessimism
It just all feels really rubbish. You miss your loved one like crazy and you develop a ‘this is never going to end’ or ‘I do not know if I can take much more of this’ attitude – which, incidentally, if you really are in this relationship for the long haul, you do not mean. You know it will end and you know you can take whatever delays or upsets come your way, you just want to moan. If you have family and friends who respect your choices, they will know it is important you let off some steam. Embrace the moaning.

Stage 5: A Rhythm
If, like me, you end up in a very lengthy LDR, you then develop a rhythm that just works for you. You work out how to communicate across thousands of miles and keep close, you find a way to continue with your everyday life and celebrate your love at the same time. You become used to it all and just have an inner strength that keeps you going because you know it will end at some point, and all the distance, stress, heartache and difficulties will be worth it.

Are you in an LDR? How are you getting through it? Are you a friend/family member of someone in an LDR – how are you supporting them through it?

A Lovely Bit of Leibster!


I am the very happy recipient of the Leibster Award (thank you Confuzzledom for nominating me, you are awesome).
I have been tasked with answering the 5 questions below and then setting questions of my own for my nominees, who will in turn (if they wish to participate) write their own questions for their nominees – how exciting!

My Questions from Confuzzledom:

What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2014?
This is a great one, as I am an avid reader (although I have been a bit lazy on this front recently). I have a Pinterest board showing all the books I have read so far in 2014, and I would have to say the best one was … The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck.

What is your favourite food to eat in autumn/winter?
I enjoy baking in the autumn/winter and particularly enjoy spice cakes/muffins (see my recipe for a recent tasty treat here). I also enjoy a good pumpkin or squash risotto. Yum!

Where was the last place you travelled to?
Well, apart from making the big move from the UK to the USA, I have only really been getting to know my local area – so it would have to be Ohio!

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My honey and pumpkin spice muffins

What is your favourite snack food?
I go through phases and get really into one type of snack, then I go off it for a bit and try something new. The latest thing is popcorn – not the butter drenched American kind, but the plain, natural kind with a bit of salt (just had a bowl of it).

If you could learn any language (and were guaranteed to actually manage it!), which would it be?
Great question! I think it would have to be French – I have always enjoyed languages at school (French being one of them) and think I could do quite well at it (although my school languages teacher may say something different)!

My Nominees (your questions are below):

The Hemborg Wife
The Secret Notebook
Seychelles Mama

My Questions:
1. What is your favourite post on your blog?
2. If you could travel anywhere, right now, where would you go?
3. What song/chart hit was your favourite when you were a child?
4. Where was the last place you went out to eat?
5. What is your favourite time of year (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter), and why?

Thanks for reading!


My American Kitchen: Chocolate Cookies (No Eggs)

I think autumn/fall is the perfect time to be baking tasty treats and trying out new recipes. I really enjoy it!

Recently, I really wanted to get in my kitchen and create something delicious, but every recipe I had, or found, required eggs – I do not have anything against eggs, I just did not have any, and I was not in the mood to go out and buy some (yes, lazy, I know)!

I stumbled across this recipe for chewy chocolate (no egg) cookies and adapted it slightly. They turned out really well and were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Have a go at making them, they are nice and easy – what do you think?

choc cookie graphic


2½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter (softened)

1½ cups soft, light brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp milk

2 cups baking chocolate powder

choc cookie 2


1. Preheat oven to 375°F

2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and chocolate powder –  then set aside

3. In another bowl, cream together using an electric mixer on medium speed, the butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and milk

4. Add a third of the flour mixture to the wet mixture, and combine on a medium speed – then repeat for the other two-thirds of the flour mixture – you should end up with a soft, fluffy moose-like texture/consistency

choc cookie 3


5. Take about 1 tablespoon of the cookie mixture, roll it into a ball in your hand and then place it on a lined baking sheet. Press down with your fingers to flatten it out – keep them spaced out as they do expand

4. Bake in center of oven for 15 mins until the tops have ‘crackled’ and are firm to the touch

6. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then enjoy!



The Sunday Review | Peanut Butter Pie

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Welcome to my weekly review in pictures – for a closer look, you can click on the photographs and scroll through!

Just one photograph today – a peanut butter pie! I have been busy perfecting the way I make it for Hubby (he is an aficionado) and decorating it with yummy chocolate sauce! I am pretty happy with how it all turned out – what do you think?

If you would like to look at more examples of my expat life photography, follow me on Instagram.

What have you been up to this week?

peanut butter pie


Thrift Store Finds

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Since moving to America, I have enjoyed getting to know some of the thrift stores (charity/secondhand) and have found some really great things. The prices are too good to pass up, and you can often find some really quirky, or more interesting items.
You can also repurpose items (I am hoping to do a few posts on that in the future) and have fun adding your own touch to something. I am currently on the look out for a table/desk!

For this post, I just thought I would share my latest acquisition … a 70s/80s (not sure of the exact age) electric food mixer. Hubby was very sceptical about it and was not sure it would work. I told him that things like this were made to last, and indeed it was. It works perfectly! It cost $13.00USD (just over £8.00GBP) and will help me with all the baking and cooking I have been doing lately!

food mixer
Here are some more of my thrift store finds …

A lighthouse picture, x2 cups, mason jar, loaf tin and wicker basket

A lighthouse picture, x2 cups, mason jar, loaf tin and wicker basket

Have you found any great deals in a local thrift store or got any tips on how to repurpose something? I would love to hear from you!

The Sunday Review | About Town

sunday social graphic

Welcome to my weekly review in pictures – for a closer look, you can click on the photographs and scroll through!

The last week was filled with baking (check out the chocolate cookies – which were amazing) and walking around Maumee and Perrysburg in Lucas County. I love to capture the things that catch my eye – a humorous squirrel, an interesting plant pot, an awesome fall shop display, a riverside view and a decorative bench were just some of the gems from this week – check out the photographs below!

If you would like to look at more examples of my expat life photography, follow me on Instagram.

What have you been up to this week?


My American Kitchen: Soup Beans

Recently, Hubby asked me to make a meal he has loved since his childhood and as it was something I have not tried before, I was excited to give it a go, especially as it is a very iconic American dish and I can write it up as a recipe and as a review for my Slice of Americana food series.

Soup beans and cornbread is a traditional Southern dish that is a great meal to make/eat when it is colder and the nights draw in. It can be made with pinto beans, Great Northern beans, butter beans or black-eyed Peas.

Recipe (from Hubby – I guessed the amounts as he did not know):

1 pound of dried Great Northern beans


2 cups of diced cooked ham

1 large white onion

1 tsp of crushed garlic

Salt – generous pinch

Pepper – generous pinch

soup beans 1

1. Soak the beans and onion overnight in water (completely cover with a couple of inches). Once ready, drain but leave a bit of the water for flavour.

2. Place the beans, cooked ham, garlic, salt and peepr in a saucepan, cover with water (again by about 3-4 inches) and bring to boil.

soup beans 3

3. Simmer for about an hour or until the beans are really soft.

4. Serve in a bowl with some cornbread (we had some previously made, and a good recipe for them can be found here).

soup beans 4

soup beans 5

Have you ever tried soup beans? Do you have other ingredients you add? Let me know your thoughts!

Meet & Greet: Earth to Jade

meet & greet pink

I am so happy to introduce Jade from Earth to Jade (a wonderful blogger who I have been following for a while now) as a new sponsor of The Move to America! I often get serious photo envy when I scroll through her travel, expat and design blog categories as she is so creative and has a natural eye for details that I am trying to emulate. If you have not visited yet, go and do it now!

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Q. How would you describe yourself and your blog?

I am a chatterbox with a good sense of humour who loves travel, photography and design. I’m also an ex-expat (is that even a word) who has just returned back to Australia after living in the UK for seven years. My blog is an extension of myself, in that it’s a place where I can chat about all the things that I love.

Q. You lived in London, UK for seven years and have some great posts about it – but what would be your top tip/s for a first time visitor?

Thank you very much! My top tips for a first time visitor would definitely be to plan your days before you get to London. It’s a big city and can be very crowded which is daunting for people who haven’t experienced a rush hour trip on the London Underground or a walk down Oxford Street on a Saturday at lunch time. For the big tourist attractions like Buckingham Palace and The Tower of London, it pays to be an early riser and arrive right on opening time, because those places are busy all day long.

Q. When you were an expat, did anything surprise you about the experience?

Pretty much the first year was a whole bunch of surprises. England might be a predominately white, christian country where they speak English just like Australia but it certainly isn’t anything like Australia. I wrote a lot about my experiences in my first year as an expat as part of my Expat column too.


Q. Your photography is amazing, what got you interested/started?

Thank you! I have a very artistic family and my Grandfather has had a camera glued to his hand for as long as I’ve lived, so I guess I picked up the habit of always carrying a camera from him, but as I started blogging more often and realised that writing was not my strong point, I knew I had to up my game with my photography, so in 2010, I bought a DSLR and started taking courses and learning how to use my camera properly.

Q. What is next for you and your blog?

As I am no longer an expat, I will be transitioning the blog to a travel & lifestyle blog. I am working on opening a small design studio in 2015 and the blog will be an extension of my company. I hope to eventually be able to work for six months of the year and travel for six months, which will all be documented on the blog!

To find out more, follow Jade via Earth to Jade  //  Twitter  //  Instagram