Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy Easter & Happy Spring....

Wishing all my blogging buddies a truly wonderful Easter....
Spring is finally springing so let's enjoy it as much as we can


Have a wonderful weekend, and if you live in the UK, don't forget to change the clocks!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A fabulous week so far....

This week has definitely been one of the best ones I've had since moving to Arkansas....
I started my volunteering at the Child Advocacy Center....

I had lunch with a new friend, who I already think is fantastic and I look forward to building a really good friendship with... She took me to a wonderful fish and seafood place - How could we not be the best of friends?....

My son - the gorgeous G, took and passed his driving theory test, only getting 1 question wrong, so now is the proud possessor of a drivers Learner Permit. Actually, maybe this isn't a truly great thing to happen. He is 14½ years old and is about to be let loose behind the wheel of a great big chunk of metal, albeit with either myself or S with him, but even so, this is a really scary time for me. In the UK you have to be 17 years old before you can apply for your Provisional Licence (Learners Permit). Those 3 years can make a massive difference on a teenagers maturity levels. I guess I have to have confidence in the fact that, G is a very sensible boy. Sometimes I wish he was more child like and would let himself go a little more, but in this case his maturity has given him a big boost. I'm not so sure the same will be said for H when he reaches the same age!....

Yesterday I got a weird email and then phone call last night from what appeared to be American Express. I had completed an application for one of their cards it seemed they needed to verify some of the information I had given them. I  was a little dubious about responding to the email, so didn't and then at around 7pm last night the phone rang and an Indian sounding gentleman told me he was AMEX and could I verify some info with him about my application. Not feeling confident, I told him I did not really wish to disclose my SSN to him without being able to prove who he was. He said no problem and gave me a number to call back. I googled the number and found conflicting reports about it and another number, one was real and one bogus. I decided to contact AMEX myself using contact numbers from the AMEX website. This I did this morning and discovered that the email and the phone call were totally legit. AMEX have become more wary of applications and contact applicants to verify the information that is submitted on applications as a security measure to prevent fraudulent applications. My response to call back a number I had found for myself, rather than the one given is a common reaction - Duh, I wonder why? Anyway, the guy was able to verify my address from the phone number I was calling from and then confirm that my application had been approved - Woot! This is a huge thing for me, because not being and American, and only having lived in the US for about a year and a half, I have no credit rating. It's not that I have bad credit, I just have no credit because I have no credit history in my own name. Getting a credit card is a really good way to build myself a good rating, so I am thrilled that they said yes. It's quite funny really, JC Penney said no when I applied to them, but AMEX said yes - go figure!....

The weekend is almost here, and even though the weather forecast is absolute pants, I am hopeful that the week will continue in it's positive vein and we will have a wonderful time. We have Fire Dept training on Saturday morning, and now I have gear to wear and a tag number, I am excited to get on with more training so I can be more useful and effective if I need to respond to an incident. Obviously  I don't want there to be any incidents to respond too - that goes without saying - but if there is one, I want to ensure I am an asset and not a liability. These guys quite literally save lives!

Anyway, off to the CAC for another day of volunteer work. These guys save lives too, just in a different way!

Have a wonderful day

Sunday, March 17, 2013

On a sunny afternoon....

Yesterday was one of those days that you wish could happen every day....
Everyone was happy and content....
We went on a trip into town early on so we could go to Lowe's and pick up the stuff we needed for the ensuite bathroom we are putting into our guest bedroom. The guest bedroom is a massive 23' in length and is  on the top floor of the house along with the gallery overlooking the living room - that's all there is up there. The main bathroom for the house is down 2 flights of stairs in the basement (unless you count the master ensuite), so you can imagine it isn't really practical for anyone who comes to stay....
We decided we would take an 8' x 8' space out of the guest bedroom and put in an ensuite. Having gotten a couple of quotes this week, we have decided to go with fellow firefighter, Ed, because he is a fellow firefighter and he is bigger than S and I put together, and also because his quote came in cheaper and he can get the job done sooner!....
Anyway, this morning we went off to Lowe's to buy everything we needed to get the project off to a good start - bath, vanity unit, toilet, concrete board, wood to frame out the room etc....S also got me a new sink for the kitchen because the one we have is not very pretty and we both preferred a stainless one..He will put that in for me tomorrow - Yay!

After the trip to Lowe's, we loaded up the trailer with G's kayak and our new canoe and headed the mile down the road to the lake at Van Winkle Hollow. This a really quiet spot that is seems only the locals really know about, so should be great for the whole of the summer when the tourists hit the main lake. I have never been in a canoe before and I have to admit I was pretty nervous once I got in and we headed off away from the shore. It wobbled a heck of a lot more than I had anticipated, and when a power boat and water-skier came past, I was sure we would tip over as the wake hit us. Of course we didn't and the further we got down the inlet the more my confidence grew. It was fabulous just floating around, fishing a little, just sitting a little and generally just feeling so extremely lucky to be here. A new friend of mine from the Fire Dept (did I mention we are now volunteer fire-fighters?) told me that she often looks at the tourists who flood in during the summer and thinks to herself - 'you have saved up to come here and spend your vacation on the lake, and I get to experience it every day of the year'...and she is right. We are among some of the luckiest people there are. Our days out  on the lake have no limitations and to be able to live this close to such stunning water and scenery with the amazing wildlife like Bald Eagles is such a privilege - I don't think I will ever grow complacent at being here. Every day something changes in the woods and on the water. Every day I seem to meet new and wonderful people. I have yet to meet someone who I didn't like out here, and we are rapidly becoming part of the Rocky Branch Community which is wonderful for us and for the boys.

I really couldn't be happier. This was such a good move for us, on every level :-D
Here are a few of our photos from our sunny afternoon...







Have a wonderful day

Monday, March 11, 2013

Kiss 'n Tell.....A guest post from Sarah @ PEOPLE DON'T EAT ENOUGH FUDGE....

Today we are doing something different....
Today I have a guest post from a wonderful blogging buddy of mine - Sarah at 'PEOPLE DON'T EAT ENOUGH FUDGE'.

Some of you may already know Sarah, and some f you may not. She is a fellow Brit and has a truly wicked sense of humour. It is fair to say she experiences life to the full and doesn't mind telling everyone about it....

So without further ado....

KISS n TELL
a guest post from Sarah
If you don't already follow her - What is wrong with you?

Now I've decided (for no particular or valid reason) that I'm an expert in the field of kissing and so I thought I'd share a little of my expertise with you.

All of the below are based on my own personal findings and are part of an ongoing study.

Let me tell you, there are many different types of kisser and many of them are NOT good!

You may have come across one or two of these yourself.

To start with we have

The wide mouthed frog

If you see one of these homing in on you then be seriously scared.

Back away from THAT sucker!!

If your escape route is blocked then try evasive tactics.

Fake a sneeze ... belch ... faint ... vomit.

ANYTHING  but let him attach himself to your face.

I came across one once.


FFS,  I thought he was going to swallow me whole!

I now know how a drain feels when it's being plunged.

The stunned look on my face was only matched by the look of absolute horror on his at my bare face after he'd hoovered off all my make up!

I shit you not, I half expected to see a pair of false lashes adorning his front teeth.

Then we have:

The guy with the freakishly long tongue

Now this one can be hard to spot unless you get all your dates to eat an ice cream before kissing them (not such a bad idea).

If he can reach the bottom of the cone without the aid of a chocolate flake then the chances are he's going to be able to dust the back of your tonsils with that monster.

The average human tongue is about 4cm in total and most of that is kept inside the mouth (which is because THAT is where it belongs!!)

Whereas a giraffe can apparently clean its own ears with its tongue.

I do not wish to snog a giraffe!

My own experience took me completely by surprise.  Everything was going pretty well until, like a conjurer pulling ribbons from his mouth in reverse, he stuck that damned thing so far down my throat he effectively cut off my air supply.

That noise I made?

No, It wasn't a moan of passion.

It was my effing GAG reflex kicking in!

This is closely followed by:

The Drooler

I have no wish to be awash with your saliva thank you.

I do not want your drool dripping from my chin.

I don't want your lips sliding all over my face like an ice skater on speed or an out of control pin ball.

I might like the thought that I could make someone salivate but believe me I DO NOT want to wear it!

And finally

The tooth licker

Oh yes, he really does exist

Honest to god, I once had someone actually lick my  teeth!

WTF are you licking my TEETH for??

Now, maybe to you licking my teeth is no less gross than sticking your tongue in my mouth I don't know.

But, from a personal point of view. Not only do I think it's really VERY weird.

It's also hugely distracting.

VERY, VERY unsexy.

And leaves me wondering ...

What the hell is next on your lick list?

My fecking toenails???

Thursday, March 07, 2013

New Car....

I have been waiting and waiting and doing my level best to not act like a petulant child about my getting a new car. We have looked and compared and discussed and test driven and we decided before the move that a Subaru Outback was the best car for us.

It really ticked all the boxes on our must have list:

  • 4 FWD
  • Manual Gearbox
  • Enough boot space for dog and or camping gear etc
  • Roof rack for transporting kayaks, camping gear and the occasional naughty child (lol....only joking)
  • Comfortable to drive
  • Be a responsive drive
  • Be capable of towing the trailer if needed
Now where I come from you are either Scubie (Subaru Imprezza Sport) person or and Evo (Mitsubishi Evolution) person, and I have always fallen on the Evo side of the debate, fiding the Scubie to be ugly and just not up to par, so I was very sceptical about even looking at the Outback. However, after agreeing that it do look pretty good, and being persuaded into the drivers seat for a test drive, I was smitten. We had tried to nuy on the day before we set off for our road trip from CA to AR, but the salesperson at the local Subaru garage in Monrovia, CA was insistent on playing that back and forth game despite S telling them that we would walk out if they did - Result - we walked out and didn't buy.

Anyway, S had been in touch with the local dealer here in Arkansas - Adventure Subaru - and because they had failed to return his initial emails agreed to give us a fantastic price on a shiny new 2013 Subaru Outback. S spoke with the salesman, Justin Weiss, and said, could he have the car and the paperwork ready by Saturday, so we could literally walk in, sign and drive away! Justion was confident he could, so last Saturday we headed off down to Adventure Subaru to pick up my new baby.

Here she is:
Me & my new baby
I have to admit that I am just totally in love with this car. There is a no food or drink except water rule in place, and I will batter anyone who disrespects being in my car. This is the first brand new car I have ever owned and I intend to make sure she stays looking gorgeous for ever. She has some cool stuff with is totally new to me like bluetooth phone, so I can call everyone while I am driving and not have to juggle earpieces or pull over. She has an electronic parking brake. This is uber cool in my opinion. You press the parking break button to engage the brake, but you do not have to press it again to release the brake. As long as the car is in gear and the driver or driver and front passenger have their seat belts on, the brake will automatically let itself off as you start to pull forward or reverse - How cool is that? There is also an additional hill brake which again is activated by the touch of a button as well, and which is designed to help out with those awful hill starts we all know and love so much. It has AWD (all wheel drive) and this is active unless I deactivate it. It will auto reactivate itself if the car exceeds 30mph as a safety feature so you can't accidentally turn it off and then go ice-skating on freezing roads! It has auto headlights which I think are pretty cool and a 2.5litre, 6 speed manual gearbox. Lots of people including one of my sisters, have asked me why on earth I chose a manual, but the reasoning is quite simple - I learned to drive in a manual, so it is a natural thing for me, plus having a manual gearbox gives you far greater control of the car in differing situations. People who have only ever really driven an automatic will have no idea what I am talking about, and in all honesty you are really missing out on some great driving experiences. Yes I know and accept that auto transmission can handle the gear changes really well and efficiently, but it cannot react as quickly in a bad weather situation, and it cannot make a decision to change down a gear to help slow the car if needed. Manual transmission adds a whole new level to driving and I for one do not want to be without that, and I want to make sure that the boys both experience that as they start to learn to drive. I know my beautiful A will learn in a manual car in the UK, but here in the US it is one of those things that people have become apathetic about and as a result prefer the laziness of an automatic. I have spoken to several people who admit they have no clue where to start in driving with a 'stick'.

Anyway, I have to agree to disagree over the transmission thing. The Outback does have an option to have an auto transmission even though the manual is the standard. I can't wait to do a long journey in her to see how she fares. I am sure she will handle anything and everything we are able to throw at her, but I also know that if she lets me down in any way - you guys will be among the first to know about it!

Have a wonderful day