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?

Life Lately | Experiencing Local Ohio Food

life through a lens

Life Lately has been about getting out and trying some really good local food (specifically finding places that use organic, fresh, local produce that has not been messed about with chemically or genetically – which is becoming increasingly easier here in Ohio than a few years ago) and enjoying the good weather.

What have you been up to lately?

experiencing local ohio food

cupcake from Thrush’s Bakery || wrap & salad from Foul & Fodder

Follow my Instagram page for more everyday life in America

OneDad3Girls

Ways to Combat Homesickness

ways to combat homesickness graphic

Homesickness can be a cause of great stress, depression and anxiety, and while I have been very fortunate with not being overwhelmed by it, as I feel very at home here, there are things I miss so much about good old Blighty.

To try to ensure you do not get to the point where your homesickness is having a negative affect on your everyday life, as soon as it starts to occur, speak to family and friends and make those all important personal connections, and maintain them well. Knowing you can text, call, FaceTime/Skype or email, and that this contact with home can literally be at your fingertips, and quickly, can make experiencing homesickness easier.

There are some other things you can do too, that can reduce homesickness or even prevent it from happening, especially if you do them as part of your everyday new life – homesickness can happen when living/working/travelling abroad, or just being away from home for the first time but still in your own country.

Food

Food is a big sense of home for most people. It has memories attached to it, is familiar and can be a great source of comfort. I have ordered a box of British goodies from the online store British Corner Shop. I was not experiencing homesickness at this point, but really missing some of my favourite biscuits (cookies) which you cannot get here. It is a small thing, but it certainly makes me happy to know I will be chowing down on a Custard Cream in the not so distant future.

Food is also a great way to be sociable, meaning you can get out there with friends or use it as a way to make new ones – I recently had a British bonding moment over an aubergine (eggplant) in the farmers market I regulary go to.

Curry (homemade by Mum) and a good English breakfast

Curry (homemade by Mum) and a good English breakfast

Some things from home and a plant potting project

Some things from home and a plant potting project

Belongings

Having things around you that are from home, that you have brought with you, or someone has sent you, is such a nice feeling. I made the mistake of selling, passing on, or throwing out too much of my own belongings before my move. I should have brought more with me, but I have been lucky to have been sent some things to enjoy around my home. Make a space for your old belongings but also for new things.

Projects

Having something to do by yourself, or with people (but time alone is also healthy) is a way to keep focussed and have your mind occupied, often with a positive end result. A physical activity, craft, music, cooking, reading etc – just something you will enjoy can make homesickness easier. Plus you get to show/tell your family and friends what you have been doing.
I have potted some plants, reorganised some home decor, baked, cooked, walked, gone to the park, bird watched and been doing my photography – all things that either make me appreciate the community around me and where I live, or something I can do for others and share it with them.

Being away from home is a chance to grow, and gain experiences and new perspectives, so making the most of it is a great way to add something to your life and those lives of the people around you.

What other helpful tips do you have to help beat homesickness? Is there something you do that always helps you?

Top 5 Things to Share With Your Long Distance Love

top 5 things to share with your long distance love graphic

Sometimes long distance relationships (LDR) just suck. There is no pretending, no way around that fact, and no real cure for the LDR blues, other than actually being with your long distance love.

How do you ride out those long distance relationship blues to make the separation a little easier? There are a few things that come to mind, but I am going to stick to one very simple principle for the purposes of this post – share things.

Everyday life can get in the way, and spending time together can become strained, so sharing pictures, memes, music, poems, cute messages, food, films, games etc … anything you can think of, will mean a lot. The only advice I would give about this is to make sure it is not overly one sided, especially during a period of absence from normal contact, you both should make the effort.

To help you on your way, here are my Top 5 Things to Share With Your Long Distance Love

 

5. Memes

Sending a romantic, cute, mischievous or funny meme can be a really good quick pick-me-up for you both. I found these long distance relationship themed memes here

LDR themed memes4. Quotes

A romantic, inspirational or thoughtful quote about LDR love is a nice way to start or end the day. I found this one, and many more really good examples here

LDR quote my love will not falter

 

3. Music

Music can be uplifting, depressing, and also speak feelings that maybe you struggle to put in to words. For a good selection of long distance relationship themed music, visit this compilation on YouTube. If you find one that really resonates with what you or your partner are going through, share it.

LDR themed music

 

2. Letters

Or more specifically, to add a bit of old-style romance, send a telegram. You can send a romantic note as a surprise to your long distance love and it will be sure to make them smile, and create a keepsake. To find out more about sending a telegram go to Telegram Stop

TelegramStop-DeliveredTelegram-Envelope

 

1. Gifts

LDR themed gifts can be so touching and a great way to celebrate your love. From keychains, mugs, cushions, t-shirts, stationery and jewellery, there are many possibilities. For some ideas, you can visit here

All gifts included in this picture available in the above link

All gifts included in this picture available in the above link

Have you been in a long distance relationship? What would you recommend to ease those tougher moments when apart?

America and the Right to Vote

voter supression in us primaries 2016

A friend drew my attention to a news story about Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream guys, getting arrested at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and it had me intrigued.

It was all part of the Democracy Awakening organised protests through April 16-18 2016 which describes itself as …

… a broad coalition of organizations representing the labor, peace, environmental, student, racial justice, civil rights and money in politics reform movements. We share a firm belief that we will not win on the full range of policy issues we all care about until we combat attacks on voting rights and the integrity of the vote by big money.

Ben & Jerry stated on their website that they joined in with the protests because of ..

the flood of unregulated cash flowing into campaigns and elections. And the second is the wave of attacks in many states on citizens’ right to vote. | via benjerry.com

Both points are extremely valid, but it was the second one, in particular, that sent a shiver down my spine. The one about voters having their right to vote, or the the ease with which they can do so, restricted or managed in some way.

I did some quick research and found something that impacted on my state of Ohio, and others, which made me feel really uneasy. Voter Suppression laws were passed by various states, including Ohio, that restricted the ease with which people could cast a vote – from reducing the number of voting stations available, to reducing the number or types of ID accepted (something that disproportionately impacts women), to the reduction of early voting hours, and disallowing same-day registration.

Both Democratic candidates Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have filed lawsuits in various states that could, or already have, restricted a staggering number of people from voting with ease.

Whatever the reasons that are given, other than the obvious one of trying to manoeuvre votes to favour one party or Presidential Race 2016 candidate, why, or maybe more importantly, how were voter suppression laws ever allowed to happen in this country? America a democracy? It does not seem so.

Is this really how the voting people of America should be treated? Have you protested or encountered any issues while trying to vote? Do you think the voter suppression laws are fair and a good idea?

Please share your thoughts.

Life Lately | A British Bake Off!

life through a lens

Life Lately has been moaning about the April snow – lots of it. So, the only way forward is to bake various things.

What have you been up to lately?

All pictures are of my baking and working adventures, which I shared on my Instagram page

OneDad3Girls