Four things I still import from America – there is no substitute.

When I landed flight-eyed and groggy-tailed on the dales of Yorkshire, my beauty regime went back to square one because almost all the products I knew and loved were back in America. Back in 2004, there weren’t as many products that were the same on both sides of the Big Blue. So since then, I’ve been on a comparison-making-bender to find replacements for alllllll my daily-life lotions, potions and admin-of-life supplies.

Stuff like face wash, lotion, pain killers, concealer, foundation, face powder, deodorant, toothpaste, soap – you name it, I was lookin’ for it.

You know what would have been AMAZING? A brand translator. I wanted to pick ‘Neutrogena’ from a drop-down list and be told that ‘Simple’ was the closest match in the UK. But instead I just kept buying stuff, trying stuff, and binning stuff in an endless loop until I found a suitable replacement. THANKFULLY most of the expensive experimentation is now complete.

(Only took 9 years! So quick and convenient!)

BUT! There is a short list of things that I still import from the States because I cannot (seriously – cannot) find a replacement I’m happy with. If any lovely expat-perts can lend some advice, I’m all ears! So here’s the list:

1 – Physicians Formula Face Powder

I don’t want much – just something pale enough to match my palepalepale (yes, triple pale) hue, something that throws a veil over my under-eyes, and something that doesn’t settle into my smile lines.

I’ve figured out that three compacts is usually enough to get me through until I go back to America and I can stock up again…

2 – Neosporin (the cream, not the greasy stuff)

And so we reach my inspiration for this post!

Even as I type this, I’m nursing the cold from hell. My nose is red-raw from attempted mucus control (sorry for that image).

Neosporin is the ONLY thing standing between me and a painful Rudolph impression – and I’m almost OUT. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?

3 – Aleve

You know cramps? You know how they’re the worst ever?

Aleve should come with a red cape and a theme song.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that PeacefulYorkshire has actually OVER-NIGHT MAILED some of these to me when I was really feeling the pain. (Yes, she’s the best of besties.)

4 – Ranch Dressing

The winner of the condiment world championships.

The crack of dressings.

The Godfather.

When home-sickness threatens, I dip into the King of dips – Ranch dressing. Some mayo, some milk and a sachet of Hidden Valley Pixie Dust are all I need.

I know, I know, it’s not a beauty product. I don’t smear it on my face (at least not on purpose) – but there’s still no substitute.

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If you beauties have any suggestions or substitutions, please (oh please dear God) share them. There’s probably an expat out there with the EXACT SAME product-substitute challenges, so shed some light and save an expat :) .

Praying for Boston

Our heart goes out to everyone in Boston and all victims and families that are involved.

If you live near Boston and can donate blood, please do:

If you have information about someone that was involved, or if you’re looking for someone that was involved, both the American Red Cross and Google have set up information services.  Visit these sites to register that your safe, or search for information about loved ones:

Boston is in our prayers and it’s going to stay there.

Thank you to the official Pray for Boston Facebook page for use of the image

I am not flirting with you. I am just American.

Hello friendly coffee shop man, I’d like latte, please.

Yes, I’ll have a friendly chat with you.  It’s nice to shoot-the-shizzle while I’m waiting for my glorious latte.

Wait.

Waitwaitwait.  No, now you’re flirting with me.

Nono.

Crap.

When did ‘chat’ become ‘flirt’?  Now I have to cool off so you don’t think I’m flirting back.  I’ll put my wedding ring frosted hand on the counter for good measure.

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Does this happen to anyone else??  My friendly Americanness keeps backfiring and innocent chats turn into weird hot-potato situations where I start trying to throw people’s flirtation back at them without having to touch it.

10 Surprising Ways to Offend People in Other Countries

This video tickled the ol’ funny bone, so I had to share it with you guys :)

Dating a working class Englishman

Behold!  One of the most popular search terms that people are using to find us at the moment – ‘Dating a working class Englishman’.  This must mean two things:

  1. There are a lot of working class English men out there getting some action
  2. There are a lot of confused women out there dating them and Googling them

I’m sorry to say that I’ve never dated a working class Englishman.  In fact, I tried to date mostly gay men until I was 17, so I’m probably the opposite of an expert.

HOWEVER!  I bet we have some readers that can provide some hints and tips that can come in handy when you’re dating your lovely working class Brit.

Consider this an invitation.  I’d love to hear about any of the following from all you lovely readers:

  • What are quirky things that your working class Englishman does?
  • What are his friends like?  How do they get along?
  • What does he do for fun?
  • How is he in the bedroom? (ooOOOOOOooooo!)
  • Is he a good kisser?
  • How did you meet your working class Englishman?
  • What was the first thing you thought when you met him?
  • What made you decided that he was the guy for you?

I can honestly say – I’m freaking EXCITED to hear what you have to say.  And I can promise that you’re not alone because people are searching for this information.  You’ll be donating your knowledge to a good cause. :)

Do English people hate talking about money so much that someone is REFUSING TO PAY ME??

I woke up today to a ridiculous email from a friend (a friend!) I’ve been collaborating with.  I don’t mention it often, but I’m a musician and I do a lot of remote recording work.  My friend (FRIEND!?) and I just finished working on a ten track album on which I worked on 9 out of the ten songs.

I do this kind of thing all the time and usually with people I’ve never met.  So what I USUALLY do (very sensibly) is arrange a contract first and everyone signs it before I record a note.  But THIS time it was for an English friend so I thought we could just talk money once I’d finished.  What. A. FOOL.

When we came to talk percentages / royalties ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE and now I can’t see past my fury enough to figure out if he’s:

a) Over-reacting

b) A d-bag

or c) Rendered useless by money-talk because of his Britishness

Here’s what happened:

He emailed me to ask about contracts / percentages, etc.  I emailed back suggesting slightly high figures so he could barter me down to what I actually wanted.  Based on my past 10 years of experience – this is how it’s always done.  But here’s his response:

I think I wasn’t expecting any of this and in reality this album wont me making you or I any money.

Really?  Nobody every told me…

I won’t be making any formal agreement with percentages or sales in regards to the songs.

OH, GOOD.  I thought you were going to make this difficult.

I think you will have to accept the original terms – you did this because you wanted to play these songs, not for any financial reward.

What??   I  mean yes, I love music and yes, I like his songs – but I can’t pay my bills with the Sound of Music (unless the hills come alive and pay my mortgage)

You cannot now be asking for percentages and so forth when it was clear from the start I would not be paying you for your contribution to the album.

Um… yes I can.  Because no it wasn’t.

This is the same as a dentist doing a filling and his patient telling him he should accept payment as HIS LOVE OF TEETH.

So cast your votes, expats!  Is he a) over-reacting, b) d-bagging or c) paralysed by the fear of talking about moolah.

The enemy has broken through my defences. My husband is making mince pies IN OUR HOUSE.

Even now he’s cutting out treacherous little pastry circles and putting them in a tin.

The mince meat is mixed and ready to be scooped into it’s new buttery home.

The stench of candied peel is hanging in the air.

Soon they’ll go in the oven and the WHOLE HOUSE will reek of mince-pies-of-doom!

Help!  Anyone!  SAVE ME!

What did the American waitress say to the English man about William and Kate’s royal pregnancy?

Here are the stats of this story:

  • My English friend, (we’ll call him ‘Biggles’) is in Los Angles on business right now.
  • William and Kate, the most gorgeous and most royal of couples have an heir-bun in the oven.  (YAY!)
  • Biggles went out for breakfast this morning – and so the scene unfolds.

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Waitress:  Hello, my name is *waitress* and I’ll be your server today.

Biggles: Good morning.

Waitress: Can I get you started with some coffee this morning?

Biggles:  Yes, thanks.

Waitress: Cream and sugar?

Biggles:  Black, please.

Then the waitress turns to go.  She pauses.  She returns.

Waitress: And we’ve just heard the big news.  You must be so proud!

She turns and leaves.

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Hahaaaa!  He must be SO PROUD!  I love it. :)

Thanksgiving in England: How to not to die of homesickness

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  This time of year, we always get a LOT of emails from fellow expats that are trying to distract themselves from HHH (Heinous Holiday Homesickness).  I hold my arms open wide and give you all big, non-creepy hugs…

Because so many of your are hurtin’, I thought I’d write down my personal and extra-special check-list that I’ve developed to to kick HHH’s arse.

1 – PARTY!

We’re American and we are used to celebrating this day – don’t stop now just because of the tiny, insignificant fact that you don’t ACTUALLY LIVE THERE ANY MORE   Invite people over – heck, invite PERSON over and channel your inner pilgrim.  Drink ’til you’re merry then eat ’til you’re comatose.

Don’t worry about everyone being American, Brits go MENTAL of Thanksgiving.  There have been years that friends that live on the other side of the UK call me up 6 MONTHS IN ADVANCE to ‘reserve’ their seats at Thanksgiving.  Once a friend even flew over from Spain just to be part of our Thanks-mania.

2 – Take the day off

It took me two years to realise that the single thing that pissed me off the most about missing American Thanksgiving was not getting any time off.  From the minute my alarm clock would go off on Thanksgiving morning, I felt like I wanted to throw things and burst into tears.

But the third year in, I took Thanksgiving day off from work and spent the whole day prepping for party-central and watching the original Miracle on 34th Street on constant loop.  BLOODY HELL, it made me feel SOOOOO much better.

Can’t recommend it highly enough.

3 – Do something REALLY American

I’ll give you three guesses about what I do on Thanksgiving Day every year (and have done since my first expat Thanksgiving all the way back in 2005).

Give up?

I GO TO STARBUCKS.

I swear I’m not paid to constantly talk about Starbucks – I don’t even go there all that often.  I just write about it on here a lot because it’s my go-to-screw-you-HHH solution.

Anyway – this is pretty much the first thing I do every Thanksgiving.  I take myself out for a giant eggnog latte and an enormous pastry.  I bring a book and I just sit, read, and soak in all that glorious caffeine and sugar.  I soak it up and I wear it like a sweater / armour all day long. HHH can’t touch me when I’ve got my American buzz on.

4 – Don’t try to EXACTLY duplicate your childhood Thanksgiving

This is another thing I tried to do for the first two years and I can hold my head up high and tell you that it TANKED.  BIG TIME.

Duplicating my American Thanksgiving caused all KINDS of trouble.  For example:

  • Trying to find certain ingredients was a nightmare (Canned pumpkin, fried onions, the right kind of stuffing mix)
  • Asking everyone around the table to say one thing they’re thankful for went down  like a lead balloon.  On the whole, everyone was TOTALLY embarrassed about it.  We didn’t even get all the way around the table.  The Brits staged a kind of silent revolt and gave up half-way through.  For an English twist, why not ask everyone to make a comment about the weather instead?  (Kidding kidding… that was kinda mean, sorry. Clearly I’m still bitter.)
  • Some of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes gave my English guest the heebies.  They’re weren’t a big fan of green bean casserole.  They were sceptical about candied yams and they were surprised (although not horrified) about the stuffing because it was so different to what they’re used to.
  • It’s worth noting that I’m a vegetarian and we also had quorn roast instead of turkey.  You’ll be SHOCKED to know that it didn’t go down that well. :)

5 – Talk to your family

This is both the absolute best and the super-most-difficult part every year – but it’s an absolute essential.  I always want to have a little tear-session after I talk to my fam, but I also know that I’d feel like a big ol’ pile of shite if I didn’t catch up with them.

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And that’s it!  I do these 5 things every year and really REALLY helps.

Does anyone have any tips or traditions that you’ve started since you’ve been an expat?  There’s freakin’ LOADS of room on my list for more traditions, so bring it on.

My nephew (who I’ve known for 8 years) didn’t know that I’m American

OH.

MY.

GOD.

Here’s how it happened.


My 8 year old nephew and I were in my in-laws’ back garden playing an epic game of wiffle golf.  He was just winding up to chip his ball into the purple sprouting broccoli (or as we call it, ‘hole 4′) when he said,

“Where are you from?”  Then he paused and gave a BIG laughed.  ”JUST KIDDING!” he laughed, “You’re from England!”

I stood there for a split second.  Stymied.

“No I’m not! I’m from America!”

I was laughing, too. :)  He stopped.  Dropped his wiffle club.  Turned.

“YOU ARE??”

“Yeah, I’m American – I grew up in America!”

“I didn’t know that!”


 He didn’t know!?  

I know that it’s really that I’ve known him since the day he was born and that I just sound like Aunty Yankeebean to him so he doesn’t hear whatever shreds of American accent that I’m still clinging on to.

But it’s another first.  I have never EVER before been confused for anything other than 100% American by someone I’ve know for years and years.  Add it to the list!