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

Expat Perspective: Republican Contested National Convention A Reality?

contested republican national convention graphic

I am not saying I get all my American political understanding or information from binge watching a Netflix show (hello, season 3 of House of Cards), but it certainly went some way to explain what a contested convention is to this moderately exasperated and confused English expat. I am exasperated and confused because the American political systems and structures seem to perplex me just when I think I have grasped what is going on.

One key aspect of expat life is most definitely to understand the political culture and composition of the country you are living in or moving to – and as I have never been in America for an actual forthcoming election – this is all a steep learning curve, but one I am enjoying very much.

The whole Donald Trump/Republican GOP love/hate political tussle has been worrying, confusing, shocking and all too compelling to watch – a train wreck, if you will. I focus in on the Republican side of this 2016 campaign because I have learned, as an immigrant to the United States, the most about this countries political functions and ideologies from their campaign race and reactions to it.

Trump has kept making momentum and leading in various polls and primaries, winning the most delegates so far out of the remaining runners (Ted Cruz and John Kasich). The magic number to get the GOP nomination is 1,237 – but political machinations seem to be afoot to make sure that number is not so easily obtainable as it once looked.

So what is a contested Republican National Convention? According to my general research, it occurs when no nominee has the majority number of delegates on the first ballot (with 1,237 being a majority) then it goes to a contested convention where meetings are held and votes are cast in rounds – and these rounds keep going until there is a clear majority winner. In theory, the voters can vote for whomever they like, which will make the televised spectacle more … well … spectacular.

It does seem that Donald Trump was initially assumed to maybe not be a serious contender, but he has tapped into something – a fact that I am worried by as there seems to be so much anger and hateful rhetoric from/around him – not something I expected to see as part of an election here. Nothing he says, even when disparaging about women, muslims and immigrants, or ill-informed and misguided ideas on nuclear weapon armament, seem to halt his momentum. I always thought freedom of speech was such that you can believe and adhere to whatever belief or ideas you have as long as you do not use them to incite hatred, aggression or acts of violence? All of which seem to have happened around him at his rallies.

So as a relative newcomer to this country, who has a slowly increasing understanding of what underpins life here in America, a July contested Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio will be something to watch – in fact, I think the world will be watching.

What are your thoughts on Republican and Democratic campaigns so far? Do you think there will be a contested convention for one or both parties? Do you think Donald Trump will win the GOP nomination?

Pea, Peanut and Bacon Salad

This Pea, Peanut and Bacon Salad is a quick and easy recipe ideal for the coming Spring and Summer – the great thing about it is you can leave out the bacon or add cheese or any other tasty item you think will go nicely. It is ideal served with some cold, cooked chicken and a glass of crisp white wine, but serve it with whatever takes your fancy.

pea-peanut-bacon-salad-recipe-title

Ingredients (6-8 servings):

16oz bag frozen peas

2 cups of lightly salted peanuts

3oz bag of real bacon bits or about 4 slices of bacon cooked and cut up in to pieces

(if adding cheese, as in the title picture, add about 1 cup of grated cheddar)

Dressing:

½ cup sour cream

4 tbsp mayonaise

1 tsp white fine grain sugar

salt and pepper to taste

pea-peanut-bacon-salad-dressing

Directions:

In a large bowl, put the peas, peanuts, bacon and cheese (if adding)

In a small bowl or jug mix together all the ingredients for the dressing, add salt and pepper to taste

Pour dressing on top of the pea mixure and stir to combine really well

Leave until the peas have defrosted and then serve or put in an air-tight container in the fridge until needed

pea-peanut-bacon-salad-with-creamy-dressing

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

U.S. Family Visa: What You Need To Know

family visa info graphic

Here is a little bit of information about the Family Visa category for applying for a Green Card to live in the U.S. It is by no means a comprehensive guide, but rather a starting point to hopefully help get through the mountain of information that there is out there about emigrating to America. If you have any further questions, then feel free to contact me.

What You Need to Know

A U.S. citizen can petition (file the relevant paperwork and evidence) for a family member to come and live in America permanently. Which petition is filed depends on the category the family member qualifies under.

The U.S. citizen (petitioner) must begin the process of filing the relevant forms through the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Family Visa/Petition Categories

To qualify under the Family Visa category, you must be one of the following to a U.S. citizen:
✓    spouse – can include the children of the spouse who are unmarried and under 21
✓    fiancé(e) – this can also include the children of the fiancé(e) who are under 21
✓    child – a child is considered to be aged under 21 and unmarried
✓    son or daughter – they must be aged 21 or older, and/or married
✓    sibling  – the petitioner filing must be at least 21
✓    parents – the petitioner filing must be at least 21

Permanent residence (green card) is issued to/for (as outlined above):
✓    spouse
✓    child
✓    son or daughter
✓    sibling
✓    parents

Permanent residence (green card) is not granted to a fiancé(e), but once the marriage has occurred, an adjustment of visa (becoming a permanent resident/green card holder) is applied for.

visa prep paperwork

Filing a Petition

Filing a petition starts with filling out the relevant forms which can be found here. There will be requests for various pieces of evidence with the initial petition (proving the family connection etc) and the guidelines for what evidence is required and accepted can be found in the instructions that come with the forms you have to complete.

Evidence will also include a financial threshold that the petitioner (U.S. citizen) must meet to prove that they can financially provide for their relative who is joining them in America.

Once the USCIS has approved the initial petition, the case is moved on to the National Visa Center (NVC). An approval by the USCIS does not mean you have your visa – there will be more forms and evidence to provide for the NVC, and once they are satisfied with what the petitioner has filed, a medical examination and an interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy to the family member wishing to move to America is scheduled. It will be at the embassy interview that the final stage/issuance of a visa will be finally approved.

I have tried my best to provide enough information to get anyone started, but as with all things like this, there is much more to it, so if you have any particular questions, you can head to the USCIS website, or contact me and I will do my best to advise.

Good luck!

Honey Cake Recipe

This is a well loved recipe that was passed on to me, and one I am very happy I got my hands on as it goes really well with a good cup of coffee or tea. A nice afternoon tea-time treat. The cake is moist and tasty and easy to make … so why not put on a brew and enjoy a break!

honey cake recipe graphic

Ingredients (for a 8 inch Square cake tin):

10.5oz self-raising flour, sieved

½ tsp ground cinnamon

4.5oz soft, light brown sugar

7.5oz butter, room temperature

3 eggs

9oz honey

½ tsp vanilla extract

8 inch square cake tin

For the Icing:

2oz confectioner’s (icing) sugar

2 tbsp honey

2 tsp hot water

honey cake recipe 1

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°F

Combine the flour and cinnamon, then seive into the bowl of an electric mixer

Add the sugar and stir through

honey cake recipe 1

Add the eggs and butter (cut into small pieces) and start to mix together using the electric mixer on low

Pour in the honey slowly as the mixer is on (still on low) then add the vanilla extract

Mix on low until the cake batter is smooth and creamy looking

honey cake recipe 2

Pour the batter into a greased and lined 8 inch square cake tin

Smooth the top down a bit

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

honey cake recipe 3

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

When the cake is completely cooled, mix together the icing ingredients and pour on to the cake (if using)

Then enjoy with a cuppa!

honey cake recipe 4

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