Expat Life Lately | Unusual Taste

expat life lately graphic

Expat Life Lately has been about keeping as cool as possible again (while wearing my new glasses) because we have had more days where the heat index temerpatures have reached over 100° … so thought it ideal to try the throwback drink from the 1990’s, Crystal Pepsi. There has also been a new flavour of Oreo come out, Swedish Fish Oreo, which I have yet to get around to trying. I like Swedish Fish (jelly sweet/candy), I like Oreo, but I am not sure about the mixture of the two. Thoughts?

If you have ever had any questions about moving abroad – how to do it, what is the best way to ship your belongings, or any other thoughts about the process, please use the question form at the end of this post to submit your query, as I will be doing a Q&A post about this soon. Thanks!

expat life lately swedish fish oreos and crystal pepsi

What have you been up to lately?

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American Life, British Accent: An Expat Perspective on the 2016 National Conventions

a british perspective on the usa national conventions 2016 graphic

It probably came as no surprise that Donald Trump was named the official Republican Party nominee for president of the United States in the 2016 national election, and that Hilary Clinton was the Democratic Party nominee … What was a surprise (to me), or I should say, a completely new first experience, was the build up to the nominations. I have not been in America long enough to have seen this process happen, so watching the RNC and DNC live on television was an eye opener.

I did not catch all of the speeches and events, but I did watch the main speakers / speeches with the political punditry that followed, on each of the 4 days of both conventions – and both conventions had a distinctly different feel. I will not pretend I do not lean somewhat more towards the Democratic party, but as a Brit, this was something I aimed to watch with an open mind.

donal trump and hilary clinton via bbc

 

There was a distinct difference between the RNC and the DNC – one rather obvious one was the lack of ethnic and age diversity at the Republican National Convention, however, as I was only watching from my armchair and could only judge it based on the periodic shots of the audience as shown via my television, that perception could well be skewed. What I saw at the Democratic National Convention was a real mix of people in every audience shot, and it also felt less angry, derisive and divisive than the RNC.

As a fresh pair of eyes and ears to life in America and these national conventions, I was left feeling, after watching Trump’s RNC speech, like this country is a place filled with fear and anger and that it should look to separate itself from the rest of the world. After Michelle Obama’s speech at the DNC (rather than Hilary’s) I was left feeling like this country is a place of hard won progress and hope, shattering ceilings and creating a bit of a revolution (mainly at the hands of Bernie Sanders’ campaign and the youth that got on board with his political ideals).

As a person making a new life here in the U.S., I was left feeling that the America I want to be a part of is an America that looks to the future. An America that aims for progress, hope, fair treatment, opportunities, and betterment of all its people. The Republican Party, at this point in time, simply does not reflect that (for me personally). All the talk about making America great again, or going back to the good old days comes across as regressive and nostalgic, in the worst possible kind of way, because nostalgia can sometimes lead one to gloss over, or conveniently forget the realities of a place or time … and I suspect that that is what is happening within the Trump campaign.

trump vs. clinton aug 1st poll results

What was encouraging is that people from both sides seem to be very invested and involved, and it felt like the population had been politically mobilised – which was really great to see / feel. People have been able to share their views and concerns for the future, and there seems to have been a increasingly genuine discussion around where America should be heading. It was also encouraging to see the rather murky and questionable voting restrictions stuck down by federal judges in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Kansas and Texas.

The race seems, at the time of writing this, to be very close between Trump and Clinton – and whatever your political leanings are, it is good to have a platform to raise your concerns and hopes for the future of this country, so I look forward to seeing what actually happens over the coming months, and I very much look forward to watching the debates between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.

What did you think of the RNC and DNC? What are your predictions for the outcome of the 2016 national election?

Life Lately | Summer in Ohio

life through a lensLife Lately has been hot – very hot. My area of Ohio has cooled off at the moment, but we had a stretch of 90s+ temperatures, which gave us quite a few days where the heat index hit over 100° (because of the humidity).

For this British redhead, that was weather to order the largest pizza I have ever seen (no oven required) try some vegetarian sushi, sample a new chocolate bar, and marvel at the strange food things I find in the supermarket (pigs feet, yo – not mine, although I did compare my trotter to the American’s enormous work boot). Everything really does go large in the U.S. … weather, food and feet!

What have you been up to lately?

everyday life in america instagram 1

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British vs. American Life

I often get asked many questions about Britain, Britishisms or my thoughts on America (the latest is that I will lose my accent, what I / the British think of the U.S. election process, and what is Brexit) I thought I would share a little collection of my favourite videos about British / American life – a little something for the weekend to tickle your English fondant fancies or excite your American Twinkies …

Do you have some quirky things that you noticed when staying or living in Britain or America? What would you find difficult to explain to a first time visitor?

Slice of Americana: Trying American Peanut Flavoured Candy Bars

Welcome to my food review blog series Slice of Americana, where I get to try different iconic American foods!

I will be tasting most things for the first time, and will give an honest opinion of all that I consume – it is important to note that, unless stated,  I am not receiving any payment or endorsements of any kind.

With that said, on with my review of . . . Zero, WhatChaMaCallIt and 5th Avenue chocolate bars

trying american chocolate graphic

The Information

Zero is a caramel, peanut and nougat candy bar which is covered in white fudge and has been around since the 1920s. WhatChaMaCallIt is a caramel and peanut flavoured rice crisp candy bar created in 1978 – amazing year, even if I do say so myself … and 5th Avenue is a crunchy peanut butter centred candy bar first created in 1936. All classic chocolate bars that have been around for a while and are firm childhood favourites of the American who was very excited for me to try them.

trying american chocolate 1

The Taste Test

Zero had a nice chewy texture from the nougat and caramel but the overriding taste was that of the peanut centre (just like peanut butter) which was good. The white fudge coating was very, very sweet and left a strange film on the roof of my mouth and teeth – it had a very synthetic taste and texture.

WhatChaMaCallIt has a really good texture with the crispy rice pieces and caramel, and although the peanut flavour was the least strong out of the 3 candy bars, it was the most pleasant.

5th Avenue had a really crunchy texture much like a Chick-O-Stick which was really good and a very strong peanut butter taste. It was very sweet but that got balanced out by the peanut butter.

trying american chocolate 2

The Verdict

From most favourite to least, I would order them as follows: WhatChaMaCallIt, 5th Avenue, Zero

WhatChaMaCallIt was not sickly sweet and had the most pleasant taste and texture out of the 3 candy bars whereas Zero had an overly sweet and strange synthetic taste.

What is your favourite chocolate bar? Have you tried the items that have been taste tested – what was your least favourite?

What would you like to see me try next?

a slice of americana

USA Living Costs – A Useful Guide

usa living costs guide graphic

I often get asked for information or tips about moving to the USA and one of my top pieces of advice is always to do your research about where you are moving to (this applies to any country, not just the U.S.) – I strongly recommend looking into, and comparing, the political climate, health insurance/services, average wages, social life, religious climate, crime etc … and living costs.

Average living costs is the most immediate thing that you have to make sure you have worked out correctly because the last thing you want to do is move somewhere that is going to be difficult to manage financially. You want to have as smooth a transition as possible – and money worries can be a cause of stress.

To help out those of you looking to move to the USA, I have compiled three sites that I have found particularly useful …

EASY EXPAT

This site does not just offer information on the USA, so is a really good one-stop-research for anyone looking to travel, study, work or live abroad. There are USA guides, classified ads for accommodation , job listings and useful forums.

easy exapt website

EXPATISTAN COST OF LIVING INDEX

This site also offers cost of living information and comparison for other countries besides the USA. It has handy tables of information that make finding what you are looking for quick and easy and also offers a salary conversion report.

expatistan website

NUMBEO

This site has lists of information that are easily navigated and provide good basics about property prices, crime, health care, pollution, traffic, quality of life, travel as well as cost of living (broken down into average prices for restaurants, groceries, transportation, utilities, rent etc).

numbeo website

If you wish to contact me with any questions or further advice, feel free to use the contact form below. Thanks for stopping by!

White Chocolate & Raspberry Cake

white chocolate & raspberry cake recipe

Ingredients (for 9 inch x 5 inch loaf tin):

6 oz butter, room temperature

6 oz baker’s (caster) sugar

3 eggs

1½ tsp vanilla extract

6 oz self-raising flour, sieved

4 oz white chocolate chips

4 oz frozen raspberries

white chocolate & raspberry cake 1

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Cream butter, sugar (sieved of any lumps) until creamy and pale using an electric/hand mixer

Beat in eggs one at a time then stir in vanilla extract

Fold in the sieved flour until well combined ** use 1-2 tsp of the flour  to mix in and coat the white chocolate chips and raspberries to stop them from sinking to the bottom of the cake when baking**

Mix in the white chocolate chips then carefully mix in the raspberries

Pour the batter into a greased and lined 9in x 5in loaf tin – smooth the mixture into the loaf tin creating an even layer

white chocolate & raspberry cake 2

Place in the heated oven for 30-45 mins (I checked at regular intervals after 25 mins) and bake until nicely golden brown and a screwer comes out clean when placed in the middle of the cake

Leave to cool for 10 mins in the tin then turn out on to a wire cooling rack

Once cooled, enjoy with some tea or a dollop of cream – or just as it is!

What do you think? If you have a go at this recipe, let me know how it turns out!

 

I am linking this recipe with The Homestead Hop – for more recipes be sure to check it out!

American Life with a British Accent: Is English Extinct?

 

american life with a british accent is english extinct graphic

I like to document all the things I encounter as an expat and relative newbie to living in the good ole U.S of A … including the fascinating, quirky, funny, odd, unusual or generally normal everyday life here in Ohio. Experiencing such things is indeed not particular to Ohio, or America, as I am sure many seasoned travellers, vacationers and expats have encountered much the same … feel free to let me know of any such moments from your travels or life abroad and I will do a Twitter shoutout … this is just life as I get to fumble my way through it.

The latest in the rather odd encounters that I have had as a British expat living in Ohio, occurred a few times recently, so I am wondering if this is a ‘thing’ …

you will lose your accent graphic
This has been said to me by quite a few store employees I have spoken to on my daily walks and weekly shopping trips. They very cheerfully tell me that I will lose my English accent as someone they know of through a friend of theirs … … well, you get the idea.

I can agree to the fact I have now adopted some American words just so I can be understood when asking someone for something, but it is most definitely not said in an American accent. I would not dare attempt it as I would sound ridiculous – a sort of USA twang that comes via Ireland and South Africa … it is truly appalling.

So why do people think I will suddenly stop talking in my English accent and ‘go native’. I have shown no signs thus far of having any kind of American accent, and the few British people I have met who have been here a much longer time than me, have also not lost their regional accents (I detected the Liverpudlian lady in the fruit and veg section from about a mile away like a British homing pigeon) … so, thoughts please!

a little amusement from Urban Dictionary

a little amusement from Urban Dictionary

I have adopted some American words just so the laughter and/or confusion is reduced enough for me to go about my daily tasks without greatly adding to the time it takes to complete them, but a whole change of accent seems a bit far fetched. Admittedly I have not been here a very long time, and I am still finding my feet, so I would love to hear your thoughts … have you lost your accent while living abroad? Do you think it will happen? Is saying ‘zee’ instead of ‘zed’ the forerunner to the death of my English vowels?

As always, leave a comment, as I love to read and respond to what you have to say.

Grilled Cheese

From the ridiculous political shenanigans here in America during the Presidential Race, to the sublime … with this Grilled Cheese recipe. I am sharing it as I recently had a very detailed conversation on the different ways to make it and ended up really, really wanting one.
American grilled cheese traditionalists will no doubt have something to say about my moderate adaptations, but there is no wrong way to enjoy melty cheese in my mind.

So this is how a British expat living in America eats her grilled cheese … How do you eat yours?

grilled cheese recipe graphic

Ingredients (one serving):

2 pieces of bread (I used a lovely fresh, grainy, brown bread)

mayonnaise

mustard

real cheese slices (I used a sharp white cheddar and Colby Jack)

salt and pepper to taste

butter/spread

grilled cheese recipe 1

Directions:

Thinly spread mayonnaise on both pieces of bread and then a small amount of mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Add cheese slices (I did one sharp cheddar and one Colby Jack)

Sandwich together the pieces of bread and then butter both sides

grilled cheese recipe 2

Place sandwich in a medium preheated frying pan (only warmed through – not hot) and leave until golden brown (check every now and then for browning progress)

Flip over and toast other buttered side until golden brown also

Remove pan off heat and leave to cool for a few minutes – then serve and enjoy

grilled cheese recipe 3

How do you do your grilled cheese ? If you have a go at this recipe, let me know how it turns out!

Trump Shakes Up The GOP By Reaching The Required Number of Delegates

Yesterday a news alert came through on my phone about Donald Trump reaching the required number of delegates to become the GOP presidential nominee. He will now face either Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders – but most likely Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee – starting the run to the White House and becoming POTUS.

A news story I read last week said that Trump was actually beating Clinton in various polls, but that Sanders was beating Trump. These polls and results fluctuate, of course, because this week it looks as if Clinton is now marginaly ahead of Trump. Will the State Departments inspector general’s report to Congress regarding Clinton’s use of private emails negatively impact her lead? I will be watching carefully as more of this story unfolds …

Trump has expressed an interest in having a televised debate in California on June 7th with Sanders, as Clinton has ruled this move out. I was left wondering why he would choose Sanders who beats him by bigger margins than Clinton does in various polls? Although now there is some backtracking from Trump as he is hinting that it may have been a joke while on Jimmy Kimmel Live! – so maybe it will not even happen. Either way, that would be something I would like to see.

So what does this say about America and the changes that people wish to bring about? It certainly seems that not being a professional politician, or having any political experience is a big draw – and one I can understand. Donald Trump is anti-establishment and challenges the old ways of the Republican Party – again, something I can understand that resonates with voters. I can see that the American people want a shake up, they want things to be moved away from big business, the rich getting richer, the everyday American experiencing a downturn in their own lives – and, yes again this is something I understand. Generally there is a palpable sense within the news here of the American voters wanting more anti-establishment candidates – a real change.

The Democratic party could possibly be in trouble with this anti-establishment change gaining momentum. Hilary Clinton represents the establishment, Bernie Sanders does not, but Clinton trumps Sanders (pun intended) but Sanders trumps Trump more resoundingly that Clinton … far be it from me to make any predictions, but as Trump has just continued to buck every political pundits pontifications of ‘this will be the end of Donald Trump’ … I have a feeling, come 2017, it will be Trump as president, as he seems unstoppable.

What do you think?