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With our move back to England just over six weeks away (and, yes, I am jumping up and down with excitement!), I am currently busily clearing out and deciding exactly what we need to take and what quite frankly will be superfluous.  Since my Canadian electrical appliances will not run on UK voltage, with a rare surge of entrepreneurial spirit (ordinarily my cash flow is very much in the outward direction!) I have started listing some of our household appliances for sale.  On Sunday I sold our microwave, and as I tucked the agreed sale price in freshly pressed dollars into my purse, I did skip just a little!

Perhaps, as we still have nearly two months left before we move, I have been a little hasty?

My husband however, definitely saw this as a golden opportunity for future savings.  If we can manage without a microwave until our move then surely there will be absolutely no need to buy a new one when we get back to England, or so he smugly informed me.  That is until he sat down with the children later that evening for this weekend’s episode of “The Amazing Race”.  As the title credits rolled at the start of the show he ambled into the kitchen to fix their promised bowl of popcorn.

Microwavable popcorn!

Fortunately, my lovely (and long suffering) neighbour was happy to pop the bag for us. And, I suspect that without even opening my mouth to plead my case or discuss the need for this essential kitchen appliance that l will find a shiny new microwave installed as soon as we move.

I do wonder though, if I would get a good price for my husband if I listed him?

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I do like to be beside the seaside…..

Oakville Lighthouse

We have so much to do and plan over the next few weeks with our move looming large that my list making mind is well and truly in overdrive.  So, with beautiful sunny weather forecast on Sunday we took some time out to stroll by the lake and eat ice cream.

Oakville Marina

The skies were a little greyer than hoped, and with the sound of Lake Ontario crashing against the pier, it was rather like a British day at the seaside.

Anyone who has ever spent a day at the beach with me, and been forced to endure my teeth chattering blue nailed appearance, will know exactly what I mean!

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So I did it!

New home

Well what a week it was!

Flying back to Toronto on Wednesday afternoon, after what had turned out to be an extraordinarily busy but incredibly productive week in England, I drew breath for the first time in 7 days.  As I nibbled at my vile in flight meal and snoozed in front of movies, I reflected at length on my beautiful new home and mentally arranged my furniture in the lovely light filled rooms.

YES, I did manage to buy my house…..Not just any house, but a gorgeous brand spanking new home which ticked off all of the many items on my list.

Global Mobility are in constant contact with my husband, discussing moving dates, international shipping, air freight and potential flights (the exact timing is still to be finalised, but mid-June seems the favourite).  This weekend, however, now that I am no longer feeling so jet lagged (the last couple of days have been a right off!) and the forecast is sunny and warm, I think we should take a couple days off.  The next few weeks are bound to be more than just a little crazy so I think we really should have some time out to enjoy the start of summer.

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Simply panicking…..

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As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I am flying to England this evening (for a week) to buy a house and start to plan our relocation! Did I also mention how excited I am?

I have located my passport, remembered to check-in online, but am yet to even consider packing, or more to the point how on earth I will fit a week’s outfits and shoes into my luggage allowance…..

Right now, I am not sure if the prospect (and responsibility) of buying us a new home (without my family with me to provide their opinion) or packing a suitcase worries me most!  Suffice to say, I am panicking on both counts.

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Shopping Trip!

Everything I really want in a house...

It is certainly no secret that I am partial to retail therapy, and that I am more than a little obsessed with buying a new house.  You can read about my house hunting plans and schemes, here, here and here.

This week I am going on what I can only really accurately describe as a supersized shopping trip.  I am flying back to England this week to buy us a new home!

Following several months of discussion and much deliberation, it would seem that my husband’s job secondment in Canada will come to an end this summer and we will be relocated to England.  Whilst I know I shouldn’t use the word “deported” would it be appropriate to use the word “repatriated”?

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I smile because

I found this cartoon picture on my son’s i-pod this morning.  Since it just about summed up Monday mornings – and in particular this Monday morning and the week I have ahead of me – I thought I would let this picture do the talking today.

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When life gives you lemons…..make lemon cake

Lovely Lemon Cake

When life gives you lemons (one way and another it has been a long long week), what better way to deal with your citrus blues than to make a lovely lemon cake.

Of course, if you don’t have the ingredients to hand, there is another option:

When life gives you lemons
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For this lemon cake recipe you will need:

250g self-raising flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
200g sugar
250g butter (softened)
4 large eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice

*  if you are unable to find self-raising flour, use all-purpose and substitute 2 teaspoons of the flour for 2 teaspoons of baking powder

  • Preheat the oven to 170C / 325F / Gas Mark 3 and grease and line a 23cm round springform cake tin.
  • Measure the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat until combined and the mixture is pale and fluffy in texture.  I always use my Kitchen Aid, but if you prefer you could mix by hand.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour 20 minutes until the cake is well risen and a golden brown colour.
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack for approximately 10 minutes then remove from the tin.

For the crunchy sugar topping:

110g sugar
3 – 4 tablespoons lemon juice

  • Mix the sugar and lemon juice together (but do not allow the sugar to dissolve).
  • Brush the sugar mixture onto the top of the cake whilst it is still warm from the oven.
  • Allow the cake to cool and cut yourself a large slice.
  • If you can resist eating the cake immediately, it does keep very well in a tin for a couple of days.

Does size matter…..

So, can anyone tell me why everything is bigger in North America?

When I lived in England I drove a small car.  Now I drive what I would have previously considered the equivalent of a Sherman Tank but in comparison to other vehicles on the road, my car is modest.  And what’s more the roads are triple the width to accommodate the huge cars!

My washing machine here is at least twice if not three times the size of the machine I had before we moved (luckily my laundry room here is the size of my old kitchen, so there is plenty of space to house this super-sized washer).

Whilst the difference in the size of manufactured goods can be explained, what really baffles me are robins.  The robins I see perched on the fence in my Canadian backyard are double the size of those in Britain:

British robin
{British Robin:  length: 12-13cm, wingspan: 20cm}

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North American Robin
{North American Robin:  length 25-27cm, wingspan 40cm}

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I do pause to wonder though, if his grander stature makes him happier than his petite British counterpart?

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40 things to do by 40

40 things to do by 40

Keep it quiet, but this summer I will be 40.  Like I said, please keep this quiet and generally pretend you haven’t heard it.

Whilst I am obviously in denial (quite frankly it isn’t possible that I am nearly 40, I simply don’t feel old enough and nor do I feel either responsible or mature enough), I am conversely, rather taken with the idea of putting together a 40 before 40 list.

My 40 are taken from the “99 things to do before you die” list (originally published in Cosmopolitan magazine in February, 1993), a copy of which I found on the Internet.  Quite possibly I read this list 20 years ago, as Cosmo magazine was one of my regular reads back then, but of course at 20 (when I still would have had the time left to accomplish this list), I most likely flicked past it, as what interest would it have been to me at that age!

If you should wish to read the full list it can be found here.

Some of the items I selected to include I can already tick off, some are probably achievable before I reach the big 40oooohhhh at the end of August, and some I just included because the notion that I should or could (given the time, inclination and funds) achieve them simply appealed to me.

So here it is, my 40 things to do before 40 list:

  1. Learn to speak a foreign language and make sure you use it.
  2. Go skinny-dipping at midnight in the South of France.
  3. Be an extra in a film.
  4. Tell someone the story of your life sparing no details.
  5. Throw an enormous party and invite every one of your friends.
  6. Learn to roller skate.
  7. Own a room with a view.
  8. Learn how to take a compliment.
  9. Change your hairstyle totally – from long to short, black to blonde or vice versa.
  10. Send a message in a bottle.
  11. Discover your own personal style.
  12. Terrify yourself by parachuting, white-water rafting, or rock-climbing.
  13. Ride a camel into the desert.
  14. Swim with a dolphin.
  15. Eat jellied eels from a stall in London.
  16. Stay out all night dancing and go to work the next day without having gone home (just this once).
  17. Do a Julie Andrews! Sing as loudly as you possibly can from the top of a mountain.
  18. Dive off the side of a yacht into the turquoise Aegean.
  19. Have ten immaculately French-manicured fingernails.
  20. Shower in a waterfall.
  21. Learn to play a musical instrument with some degree of skill.
  22. Be serenaded from beneath your bedroom window.
  23. See the northern lights.
  24. Run a marathon.
  25. Make a complete and utter fool of yourself.
  26. Leave home.
  27. Spend a whole day curled up on your bed reading a great novel.
  28. Learn to change a tyre.
  29. Learn to juggle with three balls.
  30. Find a job you love.
  31. Spend Christmas on the beach drinking pina coladas.
  32. Buy your own house and then spend time decorating it exactly as you want.
  33. Grow sunflowers from seeds.
  34. Own a convertible and drive everywhere with the top down and music blaring.
  35. Scuba dive off Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
  36. Attend one really huge rock concert.
  37. Be able to handle: tax forms, wolf whistles, Jehovah’s Witnesses, your bank manager, your boss, your hairdresser, telephone solicitors, power drills.
  38. Attend at least one major sporting event: Wimbledon, the World Cup, the Monaco Grand Prix.
  39. Walk along a seaside pier in the middle of winter eating hot, salty french fries straight from the bag.
  40. Go to one fabulous ball.

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Mummy, I was underpaid by the Tooth Fairy!

Tooth Fairy

My son lost another couple of teeth this week.  For him there are several benefits that go hand in hand with this event; he draws great delight and amusement from pulling hideously goofy toothless faces and of course it affords him the opportunity to brag endlessly at school.  But the very best of all, of course, is that the tooth fairy has been not once but twice – two nights running.  Although admittedly at midnight on Thursday for a shocking moment we thought “her” visit might need to be postponed due to a lack of available change, but after a bit of money-box raiding the necessary coin was thankfully found and “she” flapped her pretty wings and dropped the money on his pillow – only cursing a little as “she” stumbled in the dark on the multitude of discarded toys which scatter a 7 year old’s bedroom floor!

For my son, from the very moment his tooth starts to wiggle just even the slightest, his sights are set on the prize:  the shiny $2 coin he knows he will receive in exchange for his tooth.  He is a boy who will spend his last cent on lego, and has his eye on yet another box set.  Currently he is desperately scrimping and saving with the grim determination that only a child of his age can!  So keen is he to achieve his goal, that he has even been known to volunteer to help with the housework – dusting the whole house top to bottom for a dollar – some might call it child labour, but who am I to say no and risk quashing his admirable work ethic?

Happy with his tooth fairy $2 coins, I dropped him at school, grinning toothlessly and dreaming of lego and fast cars (he is also saving for a Porsche!) – I am under no illusion that during the school day math or literature occupy his mind….

That evening, his face crumpled a little as he sat with us and explained in horrified tones how he had been underpaid by the tooth fairy!

It seems he had conducted a small classroom survey and found his $2 pay-out rather on the mean-side, somewhat stingy it would seem!  Apparently, the average was an extraordinary $5 per tooth!

Really there was no adequate response to this…..

Please let me know what you think:

Was my son underpaid by the Tooth Fairy?
What is the going "fairy" rate where you live?

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