Tuesday Translations: Bits & Bobs and Bollards – British vs. American English

tuesday translation bits and bobs graphic

Being the resident Brit in my area, I am holding the fort for British English and using the terms I am used to because I refuse to say a-loo-min-um (more on that here) and a few other things like egg plant (I always say aubergine), mainly because it makes the American (hubby) laugh or fondly frustrated.

Most recent amusements were all centred around a trip to a grocery store. It all started when I excitedly exclaimed that a bollard I nearly walked into was almost as tall as me … the American fell into fits of giggles as he had no idea what I had just said, and indeed thought I had referred to something very, very different … I am sure you can imagine!

As I was embarrassed I told him to sod off which only made the laughter worse and it all then descended into a very silly shopping trip not becoming of two grown-ups. Adulting was difficult that day, as the American spent most of it mocking my accent and asking if I would like a cup of tay – how he thinks I say tea.

Here is a quick round up of the lost in translation moments …

bollards | as in ‘those bollards are huge’ are not man parts as thought by the America, but the posts to stop vehicles from crashing into the store front

trolley | a shopping trolley to me but a shopping cart to everyone else

sod off | is the equivalent to ‘get lost’ but clearly, not as effective, as the American had no idea what I was saying

bits and bobs | often used by me when I say we need a few random things from the store which is not to be confused with ‘odds and sods’ (see below)

odds and sods | a phrase used by my father to name the box/drawer he used to put that junk nobody knows what it is or where it came from or if it has any use – commonly called the junk drawer here or, more amusingly … the man drawer (very funny clip about that below)

And the final hilarity was more to do with my accent and when I said the tulips in store smelled lovely, the American said it sounded like I was saying two lips. Oh, what fun!

Do you know or use some words or phrases that are lost in translation when you use them? Do you know any more British or American words that just do not make any sense to you or cause some amusement? Leave a comment if you do!

Life Lately | Awaiting Spring Flowers

life through a lens

Life Lately has been about enjoying the oddly mild winter we have been having here in Ohio. As I sit and type this, it is quite sunny and pleasant. We are usually buried under several inches of snow and dodging huge isles that grow on the side of the house. Makes me think of Spring and the beautiful flowers and colours that come with that time of year … so here is a throwback to some beautiful flowers my husband bought me last year during that time. I just love the colours! Click on the photographs for a closer look …

What have you been up to lately?


LDR Tips: Making the Most of the Distance

It has been a while since my own long distance relationship (LDR) finally had the distance closed when I moved to America, so I thought I would do a LDR themed post.

What key bits of advice would I give to anyone contemplating, starting, or in the midst of loving at a distance? I gave it some careful thought, and reading of my previous musings on the subject, and came up with three things I found was a key driver in the success of my own LDR …

making the most of the distance graphic


This is obvious – you cannot have any successful relationship without good communication, but in an LDR it takes on a different life. It can often be rushed or patchy (especially when technology fails), and has to be the type of communication that is truly open – it is a waste of time to just do the ‘glossy’ good stuff. Sometimes you have to do the everyday tough stuff, sometimes the nitty-gritty, sometimes your commitments to work or friends gets in the way of time spent together, but ultimately you develop the most focused, honest, and to-the-point communication.

Do not avoid tough or unhappy conversations, your partner needs to know what is going on for you … so find your own rhythm with each other and how you communicate. The strongest relationships, LDR or otherwise, face the good, bad and ugly together.


Possibly one of the hardest things to do in an LDR is to feel connected to your partner when they are so far away. You begin to crave or miss all those little things that everyone else seems to get to do together. You wish you could show or share something with them – but the great thing is, you still can. It may take a bit of planning, or time to do, but share music, tv shows, books, food etc. Have dinner together via video chat, send them links to music, go on a virtual visit somewhere, the options via social media to share all those little things are endless – just do it. It gives you things to look forward to and talk about.

Just because you may have times zones or miles between you, does not mean you cannot make time and space to share the little everyday things with your long distance love – just make the effort, it will not go unnoticed or unappreciated.


This too is incredibly hard, especially if something has happened to upset or hurt your partner, this is where the communication and connections come into play. Give time to talk things out and offer support as best you can, if you know they are going to be facing something in the future or going through something right that moment, send them something. Having physical items around you that belong to your partner or came from them can be a great source of comfort.

Comforting each other within the confines of a LDR all comes from good communication, making good connections with each other and remembering to be flexible and patient. Sometimes stuff just gets in the way. Find out or articulate what is needed, and put in the effort to make that comfort and help forthcoming.

There is always so much more advice to give and things to talk about when it comes to LDR, so if you have a specific question, then feel free to contact me.

U.S. Visa Waiver Program: What You Need to Know

u.s. vwp info graphic

Here is a little bit of information about the U.S. Visa Waiver Program that I have broken down into bite sized chunks to help anyone looking into it.

I did not move to America on this visa, so I am not an expert, but certainly the self navigation of my IR-1 visa taught me a thing or two, so I aim to assist in understanding the often confusing information that is out there. For all up-to-date information you can also visit the website for U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs.

what you need to know about VWP

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a system where a visa is not required to travel to America, as long as the visit/stay is for less than 90 days. There are still certain requirements to be met before you may succeed under the VWP – including being a citizen from a country that is eligible/participates in the program. There are currently 38 countries that are eligible/participate, and a full list of them can be found here.

All VWP travellers to the U.S. must apply for, and be granted, an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). The ESTA permits travel to America, but does not guarantee entry, as it must be proved at the port of entry that the traveller is eligible under the VWP.

what vwp does not permit

  • A permanent move to the U.S. or work/study (with credit)
  • An adjustment of status for a permanent move to the U.S.
  • To become a Green Card holder (permanent resident) it must be through immediate relative (of which there are various categories), fiancé/e, work and refugee status – all have forms and fees and evidence based checks before any such visa is issuedwhat vwp does permit
  • Attend business meetings, conferences, training and consultations and negotiating a potential job/existing contract
  • Vacation with family/friends and general tourism activities and includes social event attendance
  • Amateur (non paid) participation in events like contests and sports etc

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me, or check the link to the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs at the top of this post.

Keep an eye out for future posts where I give information about other visas to the U.S. – thanks for stopping by!

A Bit of British: Cream Tea … Scone Recipe

Coming out of my American kitchen is a little bit of British … a wonderful Cream Tea / Scone recipe.

The main difference between American and British scones, as far as I can see, is that the British version is less sweet as we use ours as a soft, fluffy base for jam and clotted cream – so no need for too much sugar.

In the UK there is an ongoing friendly war between Devon and Cornwall about how one tops the scone … the Cornish way is jam first, then cream and the Devonshire way is cream first, then jam – battle lines have been drawn and many a debate has been had about which one is right. Ultimately, it all ends up making your stomach very happy, but … if I have to say which side I am on, it is of course, the Cornish way!

cream tea scone recipe graphic

Ingredients (makes about 6-8):

This recipe is from my recipe binder, so I cannot recall where it originally came from, so to assist with the conversion of grams to ounces, there is a calculator you can use here

350g self-raising flour, sieved

pinch of salt

1 tsp baking powder

85g butter, cubed and at room temperature

4 tbsp confectioner’s sugar (caster sugar)

175ml whole milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten to glaze

Clotted cream and jam to serve

- scones, jam and double/clotted cream from Devon (the only type I could find here) -

– scones, jam and double/clotted cream from Devon (the only type I could find here) –


Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C)

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder then sieve into a large bowl

Add the cubed butter to the flour mix and rub it in with your fingers until the mix looks like fine breadcrumbs

cream tea scone recipe 2

Stir in the sugar

Combine the milk and vanilla essence then add this to the flour mix, stirring it in well to make a wet dough

Turn out the wet dough on to a well floured, clean surface and knead/turn the dough 2-3 times and shape into a smooth ball

cream tea scone recipe 3

Dust with more flour and roll out the dough to about an inch thick

Use a cookie cutter (I used a 2.5inch across cutter and got 7 scones) to cut out as many scones as you can – if there is left over dough, roll it out again and repeat the process until all dough is used

Place on a non-stick cookie sheet, brush the top of each scone with a bit of the beaten egg and bake for about 10-15 mins (check after 10 mins) until well risen and golden brown on the top

cream tea scone recipe 4

Remove scones from the cookie sheet and place on a wire cooling rack to cool

Serve warm topped with jam first … then cream … enjoy with a cup of tea!

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

A Bit of British: Yorkshire Pudding

Coming out of my American kitchen is a little bit of British … a wonderful Yorkshire Pudding recipe.

For those of my readers who do not know what a Yorkshire Pudding is, it is a traditional English side dish commonly, but not exclusively, made to have with a roast dinner. It can be a sweet dish (although I have never eaten it like that) or as a main dish on its own (usually with sausages, peas and a beef/onion based gravy).

I most recently made and enjoyed some with my Christmas roast beef, a little bit of British nicey for the holiday!

yorkshire pudding recipe graphic

Ingredients (makes 6-8 in a large muffin tin):

4 eggs

1½ cup milk

1¼ cup all purpose flour

½ tsp salt

1 tsp of veg oil per muffin mold being used

yorkshire puddings recipe 1


NB: The batter is best prepared with time to let it rest in the refrigerator – I do it the day before, but 30 minutes will do

Preheat oven to 425°F

Combine the flour, salt, eggs and milk and mix together either by hand (make sure you do it well) or using a mixer until batter is smooth with no lumps

Pour in 1 tsp of the oil into each muffin tin you are going to use (I typically get between 6-8 puddings)

Heat muffin tin with the oil in it until it is super hot and just starting to smoke

yorkshire pudding recipe 2

Remove muffin tin from the oven and pour the chilled batter into each mold to about ¾ full – it will bubble and hiss

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until well risen, crispy and nicely browned (do not open the oven door to check them too often as they may deflate)

Serve as part of your roast dinner or as a side dish for a meal that has a lot of sauce/gravy

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

Life Lately | It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Tradition

life through a lens

Life Lately has been about getting in to the swing of the holiday season. First came Thanksgiving, my first time staying at home and cooking the food myself, and now looking towards Christmas and the fast approach of 2016 – not forgetting my birthday sandwiched in-between Christmas and New Year!

Having Thanksgiving at home was a really great experience and all the food prepared by my fair hand was really good – yes, blowing my own trumpet! I consider it an expat milestone – where things start to become a tradition and part of my life in America.

What have you been up to lately?

Fall/Thanksgiving table setting - Christmas clementines - Thanksgiving meal

Fall/Thanksgiving table setting – Christmas clementines – Thanksgiving meal



San Bernardino, California: A Call for Gun Control Reform?

gun control reform graphic

The 2nd Amendment, or the right to bear Arms, is not something I have grown up with or had deeply ingrained into my identity as a person as I was not born here, I did not grow up here, and I am still relatively new to this American life of mine.

It is not something I understand fully, as guns – having them in your house, or out and about with a concealed carry license, or on the sides of the everyday law enforcers that go about their jobs – is not something that is prevalent back in the UK.

I understand that for some, it is a very important part of who they are as an American. I also understand that the 80 million or so people who own guns legally here have the right to have them. I also understand that many people do think there needs to be some reform on gun control – and that some think it should not be changed.

I am curious to hear from anyone on this – so please share your thoughts, especially if you own a gun, what do you think about gun control reform?

map showing 2015 mass shootings geographically found on PBS News Hour (data from Shooting Tracker)

map showing 2015 mass shootings geographically found on PBS News Hour (data from Shooting Tracker)

I have lived and worked in some of the dodgiest areas of London, but never once felt fearful of going somewhere where I may get shot. Here, after the 353 mass shootings this year (that number as of December 3rd 2015) has me feeling really concerned. It is not going to stop me from going out and doing my normal everyday stuff, but how can you not be affected by that number? Let it sink in for a second … 353 mass shootings (meaning a single shooting incident that results in the deaths or injury of four or more people, including the attacker) in 337 days of the year so far … (numbers provided by Shooting Tracker).

That is just mass shootings, not numbers related to gun violence in general.

So I have a few questions that I am hoping to find some answers to, or at least a bit of information on it all to add to my reading around this subject:

Why has there been no gun control reform yet? Why not something like increased background checks or making assault rifles unobtainable?

What is a .223 calibre rifle, that can piece walls and body armour, like the ones used by the couple who did the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino, California used for? Should these types of guns be readily available with the current checks or outlawed? Are these guns best in the hands of the military that use them and not your everyday American?

I am not criticising the right to bear Arms, I am trying to understand it more as this is the third mass shooting I have watched unfold via the news and social media in October alone. Is it time for a change, or shall we just let a website keep track and do nothing about it?

The law that allows those on a terrorism ‘no fly list’ to still buy guns, and that President Obama, mentions in the above CBS News slot – does that need to be changed? Is the NRA’s blocking of a proposed law that would stop a person on the list from getting a firearm backed by all their members or is there something else at play?

Also, when the 2nd Amendment came into effect in 1791, it was a very different world then, and the need to fend off the British helped create the idea that citizens have the right to bear Arms and support the security of a free state. We do not live in those times anymore. The nature and usage of guns has changed immeasurably since then, so is it time to bring a law/amendment up-to-date to reflect todays issues? Does a law or amendment need to reflect the world we live in today? I know a law and an amendment are different, as an amendment is so ingrained as part of the freedoms of this nations people – but so are the laws. They are there to protect its people. Does it now need to change to do a better job and reflect what the people are facing?

What are your thoughts?

Slice of Americana: Ding Dongs

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 . . . Ding Dongs

ding dong graphic

The Information

Made by Hostess Brands, Ding Dongs are a chocolate cake sandwich (cream in the middle) that is covered in chocolate. It got its name to go with an advertisement on television that depicted a ringing bell in 1967 and advertised along with an animated ‘King Ding Dong’ character therafter.

The Taste Test

The chocolate cake itself is quite nice. It tastes very mass produced, as you would expect, but is one of the more pleasant highly processed creations I have had over here. The cream had a nice sweet taste but a rather odd texture – almost like a soft fluffy, glossy plastic.

In true highly processed cake fashion, it stuck to the roof of my mouth like it was trying to form a second skin, but it has a nice chocolatey flavour that I liked.

taste tesy ding dongs

The Verdict

I found the name to be hugely amusing as all I could think of, in true British fashion, was Leslie Phillips and his classic catchphrase ‘ding dong’ when he meets an attractive woman in Carry on Nurse (think over sexed seaside card humour if you are not familiar – see short clip at the end of the post) … but giggling aside, as far as highly processed pretend food goes, this was actually quite nice. The chocolatey flavour was good enough to win me over.

Have you tried Ding Dongs? What do you think of them? If you have not had one before, do you think you would like it?

What would you like to see me try next?

a slice of americana

Life Lately | It’s All About the Bake, About the Bake

life through a lens

Life Lately has been all about baking and getting ready by testing ideas/recipes for Thanksgiving, which – hello – is just around the corner! I will be cooking my first Thanksgiving meal at home as the previous two were spent eating out … I have my list ready and am keen to try making some new things. There may be a British twist to my Thanksgiving food … I am still pondering …

What have you been up to lately?

baking life

Recipes available  for (top): oat crumble topped vanilla cupcakes with raspberry filling and seriously moist chocolate cake

Recipes coming soon (bottom): peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies and apple pie bites