White Ink...Take 3! The finished product

Yesterday while we were meandering around the beach I spotted, out of the corner of my eye, a tiny white feather floating along the top of the sand. Instantly I scooped it up and grinned from ear to ear as I twirled it between my index finger and thumb. My loved ones in heaven, my guardian angels, were with me and sending a happy hello. 
I quickly motioned Carl over to me and asked that he take this picture so that I could remember my latest feather encounter (please ignore my chipped/disgusting nails. I promise they're far more 'lady like' today) If you've followed along in my tattoo journey you'll already know the significance of a white feather and my reasoning behind choosing this as my tattoo (if not, don't worry. You can catch up by reading my two previous posts, White Ink and White Ink...Take 2). But it wasn't until late last night, while uploading the pictures from yesterdays beach adventure, that I realized I STILL hadn't posted about the finalized version of my tattoo. Sorry folks, I'll admit I'm a slacker. I had fully intended to compose this post weeks ago, but milestones in my life and other arrangements meant that it took a back seat. Last night as I stared at this picture (which I haven't fiddled with in the slightest - Jackie this is what it looks like in the flesh) I admired it's subtle beauty and simplicity. I love the flow and lack of perfect symmetry, I love the elegance it has and how it reminds me of a beautifully formed scar. This kind of tattoo, or any tattoo for that matter, won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it's exactly what I wanted and I'm in love. 
After 2 touch ups, and 5 months of healing I am over the moon that it is completely healed. I can now enjoy it, in all of it's understated glory,  every single day of my life.  I'm so glad I finally took the plunge and did it. I could not be happier with the result.

Thanks for reading, love bugs! Enjoy the rest of your Monday!
Lots of love, love, love


Let's Go Fly a Kite

I'm a born and bread Vermont girl, which means that rather than spending my summer vacations at the beach, I spent them either in the river below our house or in our swimming pool. Now, don't get me wrong, I am in no way, shape, or form complaining about having had to swim in the river or our pool. I understand how truly blessed Sonya and I were to have had a swimming pool to call our own, and the truth is that we practically lived in it from June until August. Mom could only get us out to sleep, eat or pee (although I'm not gonna lie, as I kid there were a couple of times when I peed right there in the pool...and you know you did too so don't even make that disgusted face!) but as a child you still always secretly wish you were swimming in the ocean. Because the ocean is big, the ocean is exciting, and the ocean is full of interesting little creatures to poke and prod. 

Sonya and I only ever really got to experience fun at the beach during our annual trips to Florida, or the occasional 6 hour hall to Old Orchard Beach in Maine. I have such fond memories of morphing into a prune due to of HOURS on end  of relentless boogyboarding. And like every other kid on the planet I always attempted to dig a massive hole, build a sand castle and collect sea shells. I was PETRIFIED of the seaweed and starfish (but then again, I was petrified of practically everything when I was little. True story. As a baby I wouldn't touch grass or deflated balloons. Then eventually it escalated to Koosh balls, wilting flowers, door stops, jets and grates in pools, sensors on toilets or lights...the list is endless. Feel free to laugh, I'm well aware of how ridiculous it all is. I won't be offended). Nevertheless, fears aside, I loved the beach and would jiggle and giggle with excitement each time we went. And even now, as a married woman, I'm instantly attracted to it. Although my boogyboarding days are over, I still wiggle and giggle with excitement, poke and prod little creatures and don't like seaweed. I'm lucky in that over my 4 years in Liverpool I've enjoyed many days strolling barefoot along the sand admiring the crashing waves. That's one HUGE advantage to living on a massive island. A beach is always right on your doorstep. It's amazing. 
Today as I ran barefoot down the sandy hill onto Formby beach I took a massive breath of the salty sea air and smiled. Regardless of the fact it was a tad windy, the sun was shining and the air was crisp and clean. Mama Lynne loves the beach the same as I do, so we took a few minutes to soak up the relaxing goodness that comes with the sound and smell of the ocean. We decided it was a good idea to leave the men behind and went to get our toes wet in the sea water. Well, Mama Lynne did. I poked at seaweed (duh) and took oodles of pictures (duh). The truth is that my toes never even got wet because, now that I'm in my mid 20s, I've found new and more exciting things to frighten me. Forget the Koosh balls and deflated balloons people, I'm now petrified of slimy sticky DISGUSTING jelly fish. They invade the beaches of England (hence why I don't swim in the water here) and want to barf whenever I see one. In all honesty I really wish they'd all just bugger off to some remote dessert island that I'll never visit, because after all WHAT IS THEIR PURPOSE?! Anyway, my hatred for jelly fish meant that I had more time to enjoy and film the beautiful English scenery (even if it was with my phone and may be a little small. Hit 'full screen' for a better view). May you now bask in all of it's glory.
But while Lynne and I were enjoying the beauty of the Ocean, Carl and his father (aka tweedledee, and tweedledum) were desperately trying to make the 'spruce goose' take flight (this is Garry's weird name for his shitty kite that he purchased for 50p at a garage sale...it's handicapped and can't really fly. Evidence of the craptasticness of this can be found here, in the post where I talked about how Carl, Tasha and I tried to fly the bastard for a good 45 minutes and failed miserably). Either way, Garry refused to admit his 'bargain purchase' was indeed, poop, and roped his mini-me son into his I'll make this goddamn kite fly if it kills me mission. Over the course of an hour it dive bombed many, many, many  times,  but in the end they were able to get it to take flight for more than 10 seconds. Hip-hip-hooray! And as it so happens, little Miss camera happy here was able to catch some of their...uh, success...on video.
The truth is that no matter how old I am or what new and ridiculous fears I have, I'll always love the beach. It's beautiful, it's special, it's unique. And in my humble opinion, it's one of the best places in the whole wide world.


Friday's Letters

Dear 2012 London Olympics,
WELCOME and HOORAY! I've been impatiently counting down the days until your arrival and I am over the moon the big day is finally upon us! I am seriously loving all of the festive celebrations that have engulfed the UK and I feel truly blessed that Carl and I are still in England and able to soak it all up.  Let's go teams USA and GB! (I was forced into showing  support for team GB by the husband. The reality is I want the US to thump them so I have all the bragging rights. Haa!)

Dear Womanly Hormones,
Sort yourselves out, dammit! I'm sick of crying over ridiculous crap. Things like when Edward Lewis falls in love with Vivian the prostitute and practically shits his pants as he climbs up the fire escape. I'm also getting concerned about my epic crabbiness. Case in point: earlier today when I genuinely contemplate throwing my laptop out of the window as it shut down mid blog post...and didn't save. Or how I'd like to strangle the woman who lives downstairs and wakes me up at 2:30am as she shouts for her little yapping rat-dog Toby.
I just want to be mentally stable and happy-go-lucky again. Is that too much to ask?

Dear Nina and Jen aka 'Tunics',
The past couple of days I've practically peed my pants laughing at our 3-way Whatsapp conversations. You two are truly hilarious and I am SO thankful that, through blogging, we've become such good friends. Technology is a wonderful thing and I smile more knowing the both of you :)
P.S. I've thought of two more DISGUSTING words: cactus and burgle. Ew.
Dear Husband,
Thank you SO MUCH for, yet again, handing me the biggest laugh EVER. Not only are you clearly ignorant to all things pregnancy related, but you're enormously confused about the anatomy of camels. Nevertheless you're sweet, cute and all mine mine mine. Our conversation about baby bumps was one of my favorite conversations we've ever had, and even now I'm laughing. I can't wait to make babies with you and grow our family. I just know you'll be the best Daddy around and I could not be more excited for the future.

Dear Landlord,
It has been nearly a month since the hubs and I have vacated your fine property in anticipation for the big move back across the Atlantic. Please refund our deposit, as you've been promising, sometime within the next century. I'd be forever grateful and I desperately need some nice new bras and underwear. 
I have been in LOVE with and vicariously drooling over your jewelry for months now. Seriously MONTHS! And as of last week I am no longer a Bridier Baubles virgin! (is it just me or do you hear a choir of angels singing?) My sweet sweet hubby fulfilled my Britta Bead dreams and got me both the turquoise and white set. Kerry emailed me yesterday to say they've been dispatched and I have never been more excited for mail to arrive in all my entire life. As soon as I set foot on US soil I plan to strut around like a proud peacock displaying my latest necklace obsession. I'm like a kid in a candy store. An elephant in a peanut factory. Elizabeth Taylor in Cartier. 
Bring on the baubles I say!

Dear Self,
WHY must you always stab yourself in the eye as you apply mascara? It hurts. You'd think you'd learn. But no. It's a daily occurrence and pretty soon you'll be BLIND. Learn from your idiotic mistakes, please. 
Dear Tasha,
The pictures above perfectly define our relationship. This, my dear, is why we are best friends.  You, more than any other person in the world, are willing to be silly and carefree with me.  You'll sit with me on GoogleChat for hours, make-upless and messy haired, making silly faces  and laughing or being serious and honest. You are my very best friend in the entire world and I've missed you OODLES over the past 4 years. I love that we're always able to pick up right where we left off and I'm so excited to spend time with you on a regular basis again. 

Well, that's all for me today,  lovelies! Feel free to join us for the link up and share your letters!
Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your FRIDAY! :)

My First Liebster Award

Last Thursday I received a super sweet Tweet from my blogging buddy Jen over at Boys will be Boys, letting me know that she had nominated me for my very first Liebster Award! To say I was tickled pink is an understatement. A big understatement. As in, I grinned from ear to ear and totally happy danced my ass around our bedroom. But the truth of the matter is that I was SERIOUSLY slacking in terms of returning the favor and passing along this wonderful award to another one of my bloggy faves. Life just got in the way and other scheduled posts hogged my blog. However, on Tuesday I was handed the boot up the bum I so desperately needed as the unbelievably adorable Amanda (GREAT name, girlfriend!) from everyday b&b sent me the sweetest email letting me know that she too nominated me for the award. So, as you can imagine, I happy danced my ass around our bedroom once again and set to work composing this post!

Girls, I don't think you know how much I appreciate that you've nominating me for this. To know that there are other's out there who genuinely enjoy my mundane and sometimes inappropriate ramblings about my less than exciting life is hugely gratifying. I started this blog as a way for my friends and family back home in the states to follow along with mine and Carl's crazy life in England. It was a creative outlet for me to vent, talk too much, laugh, pick fun at and ponder life's crazy curve-balls. I never in a million years thought I would make so many fantastic friends and discover a true passion for writing. I've grown to absolutely adore blogging and the opportunity to share my thoughts, feelings and adventures with all of you has been so therapeutic and fun. I can't wait to continue documenting mine and Carl's adventures - moving back to the states, getting my first teaching job, our big Vermont wedding, the experience of buying our first house, having our first child - and share them with all of you.

Okay, so now that I've got my sapptastic rant out of the way, you're all probably wondering what the hell a Liebster award is...  
The award is given to upcoming bloggers with less than 200 followers. Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome!
And this, my love bugs, is how the Liebster Award works:
1. Each nominee must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you and create 11 questions for bloggers you've tagged.
3. Choose up to 11 bloggers and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs.

So, first things first. Here are the 11 random facts about me (I've stolen 5 of these from a post I was recently tagged in on Instagram)
1. I contracted Transverse Myelitis and was paralyzed for a week when I was 11.
2. My favorite part of summer is sitting on the back deck with my Mom and sister watching the thunderstorms roll in.
3. I'm absolutely PETRIFIED of grates at the bottom of pools, sensors and jelly fish. 
4. I love willow trees and the first thing I'll do when Carl and I buy our first house is plant one in our back lawn.
5. As a child I used to dream of being a famous TV chef. I even created my very own imaginary show called 'Coffee on Coffee' and my sister (who was my sous chef) and I used to stand on chairs at the kitchen counter and pretend were being filmed.
6. I have an unhealthy obsession with scarves and necklaces.
7. The first time Carl kissed me I was stopped at a red light, forgot about my foot on the break and crashed my car into the one stopped in front of us.
8. I dip almost everything I eat in ketchup or ranch dressing.
9. I can't get a pedicure without my ticklish reflexes causing me to drop kick the poor nail technician. It's embarrassing.
10. Carl and I have to kiss each other 5 times every night before we can fall asleep.
11. My all time favorite season is Fall. I love every single thing about it.

As I was nominated by two lovely ladies, I've chosen to answer half of Jen's and half of Amanda's. Buckle up, here we go into the land of Information Overload. 
1. What is your favorite holiday?
I'm one of those people who is obsessed with all holidays. I absolutely love decorating the house and have been known to go overboard on many, many, many occasions. And I know I'll be one of those mommy's who doesn't know when to stop froofing for birthday celebrations. I can't help it. But in all honesty I think my favorite holiday is Christmas. I start watching Christmas movies in July and I genuinely get depressed when I have to pack the tree away in January (yes, I leave it up until after New Years Eve). 
2. Morning person or night owl?
Definitely a morning person. I LOVE waking up early, especially in the summer. One of my favorite jobs was in a bakery when I had to get up for work at 4. I love the smell of the morning, the early sunshine and the quietness.  In all honesty I dread when it gets dark. It always makes me feel blah.
3. What is your perfect date night?
I love when Carl and I go out to dinner together (a nice Italian restaurant) and then to the movies. Boring, I know. I'm just not a big fan of drunken nights out until 2am as I always feel like I've wasted the entirety of the next day.  
4.What is something you'd like to accomplish in the future.
Oh, I have so so so many goals. I'm one of those people who is always striving to achieve something, I need to keep myself motivated and driven otherwise I get miserable. For the foreseeable future I'd like to obtain my first teaching job/class and run a drama project at my school, buy our first house, run a half marathon, have a baby (or 3) and go on a road trip down Route 66 with the hubby.
5. What is something we don't know about you?
I HATE HATE HATE fighting/arguments, and if I ever get into a very heated conflict I shake and am liable to have an anxiety attack. Nevertheless I'm opinionated, blunt and don't let people walk all over me. I know how to stick up for myself but firmly believe in the age old motto of 'treat others how you'd like to be treated.' Rude, arrogant and inconsiderate people enrage me. Haha!
6. What was your favorite boy band from your teen years? 
Oh I was obsessed with The Backstreet Boys. OBSESSED! They were the very first concert I went to. I believe it was for my 14th birthday. Mom and Dad took my sister and I and I'll never forget my Dad's disgust as they started stripping their shirts off on stage. He stood their shouting "What the hell is this? The Chippendales?! Jesus!"
7. If you had to eat one thing every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Oh God, that's such a hard question. I'm a food fatty and I really think I'd suffer mental problems if I was only allowed to eat one thing every day for the rest of my life. However, I'd have to say my favorite food at the moment is vegetable risotto. In fact, I had it last night for dinner.  Haha! But I am a die hard Nutella freak. I'd lick it off a dog turd if I had to. Okay, so that's a lie because that's absolutely disgusting.  
8. What’s your biggest pet peeve?
I physically shake with disgusted/anger when people chew with their mouth's open. I don't want to hear their food slopping around in their mouth as it makes me gag. I also can't stand when people don't hold doors open for others, or when  morons pull out in front of me and then go ridiculously slow. 
9. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Carl and I both love Southern Connecticut, in the suburbs of New York City. And we'll live there one day too. You just watch :)
10. What is your favorite TV show?
I have two. F.R.I.E.N.D.S and Sex and the City. I own every single episode of both and know most of them word for word. 
11. Who is your favorite Disney character and why?
I love every single Disney character ever invented because I am truly obsessed with all things Disney. Always have been, always will be. As a child my favorite was Ariel (The Little Mermaid to those of you who have been living in a bear cave all your lives). I had The Little Mermaid dresses, sandals, cups, shampoos, bed sheets...hell I WAS The Little Mermaid for Halloween one year. She was my idol. But throughout my early teens into my adulthood I was and still am infatuated with Peter Pan. If there were such a place as Never Neverland, I'd become a permanent resident and change my name to Cupcake Obsessed Small Girl.  But as I've yet to find a boat, train or plane with Never Neverland as the destination, I'll settle on the movie and pay homage to my fantasy by decorating my child's nursery with a Peter shadow.

So now it's my turn! And the lucky nominees are...
'The Management' from A Prince and Prozac
Lindsey from Sassy Ms. Ginger
Lauren from  The Lucky Layman's 
Congratulations! You ladies are some of my favorite blogs to read! Pat yourselves on the back!
And in honor of my adoration, I've come up with these 11 questions for you to answer! 

1. What are 3 words you can't stand? (Nina, try and tame yourself here) 
2. How many countries have you traveled to? What were they? Why?
3. What's the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you?
4. Do you have any odd habits? What are they?
5. What's your favorite childhood food/recipe? (please share it if you can!)
6. Do you have any siblings? If so how many and what are their names?
7. What are 3 things that are ALWAYS inside your purse?
8. Who is your favorite comedian?
9. What is your favorite smell?
10. What are your nicknames and who calls you by those names?
11. Who is your favorite band/singer?

Can't wait to read your posts and learn more about you, ladies!
Enjoy the rest of your Thursday, love bugs!


Stop and Smell the Roses: Week 20

Stop and Smell the Roses

Happy Wednesday, Lovelies! We're back this week, vlogging our little hearts out and Stopping to Smell the Roses with Mandy! Hooray! I always look forward to Wednesday afternoons when I get to kick back with a cuppa tea and watch everyone else's videos. Is that weird?

Anywho, this week I need to apologize for the fact that my head is half chopped off throughout the entirety of this video. What can I say, I'm a dweeb who is too lazy to film it all over again. Ha! Also, if the thumbnail is creeping you out and you're wondering whether I'm a naked freak, I can assure you I am, in fact, clothed. And trust me folks, you should thank your lucky stars for that. Question: Am I the only person who finds it physically impossible to produce a somewhat attractive thumbnail? Seriously? I look mentally unstable in every single one of mine. Never fails.
(The colors I mentioned are r.s.v.p, Tattle Tale, Skinny Jeans and Get Figgy)

Thanks for reading watching today, love bugs! (and feel free to check out my SO WHAT! Wednesday link-up!) I hope you all enjoy a fantabulous Wednesday :)

Lots of love, love, love,

So WHAT! Wednesday #7

It's hump-day again, lovelies! And that means I'm linking up with the fantabulous Shannon and saying a big fat SO WHAT! if...
  • I set my alarm for 8am this morning and didn't wake up until 9.
  • I secretly love dorktastic and utterly ridiculous shows like Mob Wives and Desperate Housewives. Can't help myself. I'm a freak for bad TV.
  • I genuinely wish I could work in Carlos Bakery with Buddy Valastro and his nutso family. I LOVE them. Like stalker love them. I also often wish I had been born into a big Italian family because I'm pretty sure my loud-mouth would fit right in.
  • I truly don't understand the latest fad/everyone's obsession with wearing jewelry that has spikes coming out of every which way. Seriously? Why? Not only does it look like dog collars but I'm pretty sure they must stab you at some point during the day. Ouch?
  • I'm on a diet and I ate a big fat Lime Curd and Coconut cupcake yesterday. It was delicious people, DELICIOUS! Drool away friends...
  • I can't stand Justin Bieber and wish he'd get his pansy-ass off of every freakin' TV/radio station in the land! He's like an annoying bug bite that I just want to scratch and dig away at but I know is better left alone. Just go away, Justin! You 18 year old little turd! You suck and you'll never compare to my childhood heartthrobs Leonardo DiCaprio or Jonathan Taylor Thomas!
  • I found the most ADORABLE polka-dot dress for a 4-5 month baby girl in a local shop yesterday. I actually considered buying it for my 'future child.' Thankfully, the ridiculousness of my baby-fever-induced actions hit me and I hung it back on the rack...
  • I rant while watching the news.
  • I don't like McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's or KFC. 
  • I've been a hormonal/emotional wreck this week. I may or may not have sobbed uncontrollably while reading one of Kelle Hampton's posts about her girls.
  • I've been meaning to buy and read Kelle's book Bloom for MONTHS and still haven't. I'm an epic book failure!
  • Yet more proof that I'm a book failure is that Fifty Shades of Grey has been sitting on my nightstand -unopened- for nearly 2 weeks now. Must sort that out pronto.
  • I get serious road rage behind old fogy's who drive 20 mph under the speed limit. They should invent 'Old Fart' lanes where the elderly can congregate for their  Sunday strolls...which they partake in every single day of the week. 
  • I lost another 2.5 lbs last week and shamelessly bragged about it on my Facebook status...and now my blog. Yay! :)
  • I day dream about the days when I'll get to bake cookies, build blanket forts and roll snowmen with my children. 
  • I'm embarrassingly excited for the London Olympics to start on Friday! I've never been so close to where the games are held and I'm looking forward to the buzz of excitement that'll engulf the entire United Kingdom. Bring it on! 
What are you saying SO WHAT! to this week? Join us and share! :) (feel free to take a peek at this weeks Stop and Smell the Roses Vlog! Go on, you know you wanna!)


Sometimes and Always #13

Sometimes: I try to convince my husband that I'm a little rebel like he is and not really interested in the latest top 40 regurgitated crap.
Always: Rihanna, Katy Perry or Maroon 5 come out with another obnoxiously catchy tune and I find myself standing in the shower badly belting out things like I'm at a payphone trying to call home, all of my change I spent on you.

Sometimes: I get really homesick. 
Always: I hurry to my computer or phone and stream my favorite Vermont radio station Star 92.9. Instantly I bob along to my kinda music and find myself laughing at the corny Vermont commercials for wood stoves, farmers markets and four wheeler's. In my mind it's early in the morning, I'm driving down my Munger Street admiring the gorgeous vibrant New England foliage while desperately trying to dodge the frost heaves and sip a cup of my favorite french vanilla cappuccino. I am beyond excited to do this again soon. It's true that you don't truly appreciate your home and all of it's beauty until you leave it. Coming back home after 4 years is hugely exciting and this sentimental schmuck will cry floods of happy tears the moment her foot his VT soil.
Sometimes: On a Sunday afternoon, when the weather is lovely enough, the in-laws, hubby and I venture to the local duck pond.
Always: I take WAY too many photographs. Hell, who am I kidding? I take too many photographs of EVERYTHING we do. True statement. I'm THIS close to enrolling myself in photo-obsessives anonymous. Surely there must be such a thing.

Sometimes: The sun really does shine in Britain and when that happens everyone instantly switches from moaning it's too wet and cold to moaning it's too hot and sticky (when it's barely 70 degrees). 
Always: I laugh hysterically because it's over 20 degrees hotter back home and as soon as it starts pissing down here again everyone will have long faces and complain again about the puddles. 

Sometimes: I smile, wave frantically and scream "Hi! How are you?!" to someone I recognize...until they look at me like I'm a big green alien and I realize they're definitely not who I thought they were.
Always: pretend I meant to do it, continue waving and smiling at them until I suddenly make some idiotic gesture suggesting I need to get going and walk off. I tell ya, it works like a charm. I guarantee EVERY person I've done that to really thought we were friends...
Sometimes: I get special surprise packages in the mail.
Always: I'm like a 6 year old on Christmas morning ripping that brown paper open. Yesterdays surprise package was from one of my BFFs Kate, and she sent this gorgeous tea cup and saucer ring alongside a beautiful Liverpool City skyline card. Reading the Happy Birthday/Happy Graduation/Happy Hen Party/Sorry You're Leaving card may or may not have made me cry (which you should know already totally means I did). I  couldn't help but wonder how in the world I was so lucky to have met and become friends with such wonderful people? Kate was one of the very first people I met when I moved to England and we've been good friends for 4 years now. I'll miss her more than words can say but I'll think of her every time I wear this adorable ring. (Thank you so much, doll. I love ya xoxo)

Well, that's all for me, lovelies! What are your Sometimes and Always? Link up with us here and share!  :)
Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday, my love bugs!
Lots of love, love, love


Weekend Wrap-Up: Mom threw a birthday party and Jen ran 13.1 miles!

In all honesty, this past weekend in the Anderson household was rather boring and event-less.      And ya know what, that was totally fine by me! Over the past couple of weeks I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off, so it was nice to cuddle in bed with the hubby and enjoy sunny walks around the village. I spent this weekend relaxing, but my friends and family were busy with inspirational birthday celebrations and half-marathons!
On Saturday night my Mom threw herself a big birthday bash and FINALLY got to enjoy a night that was all about her. She so deserved it, too! But my mother, being the giver that she is, did something unique and wonderful for her big birthday shin-dig. Something I found so inspirational I plan to also do at my big 3-0 in a couple of years. Ya see, instead of accepting gifts and cards from friends and family, Mom asked all of her guests to bring a donation for our local Humane Society. Both my Mom and Sister are animal lovers and do their best to support the Addison County Humane Society. I know my sister used to volunteer to walk dogs in their care, and over the years we've got two of our family pets from there, most recently our yellow lab, Tempi. It was a cause close to her heart and although she hasn't yet done a final tally of all the donations (she's only commented saying "I'm making a list later, it's too friggin' hot! But there's a lot!" Stay tuned for more accurate figures later this week) and I am positive the monumental generosity of others will be hugely appreciated by the Human Society and all the animals desperately in need of love and affection

Mom, I applaud your genuine desire to make the world a better place. It's invigorating to see there are still people out there who are genuinely interested in doing good and positive things with their lives. It's even more wonderful and heartwarming to know that one of those people is actually your mother. I'm such a lucky girl :) I'm so glad you had such a wonderful birthday and it makes my heart happy that you spent it surrounded by all of your closest friends and family. I only wish I could have been there too :) I'm over the moon that you were able to collect so many donations for the Human Society! You go girl! You really are one of the most amazing people I know and I feel so blessed to have you as my Momma. Oh, and as I found this video of you and Dad too adorable to keep to myself (please excuse the sideways filming halfway through. This precious moment was captured by my sister who, according to reports, consumed a total of 6 Captain Morgan and Gingerale's. Haa!) I'm sharing it here so that the blogsphere can  'Awwwww!' over your utter cuteness like I did. I have the most adorable parents in the entire world. Fact!
On a side note: Obviously I've got a few years left to consider which charity I'd like to support for my 30th birthday hoopla - but if any of you have suggestions for foundations you feel passionate about or have personal connections to, please share! I'm passionate about supporting a great cause, and I'd love nothing more than to hear from you!

On Sunday morning my bestest bloggy friend Jen achieved one of her goals and ran her FIRST half-marathon with her sister Dana and their buddy Joe. All throughout the day I stalked the Chicago Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series website, waiting to see her stats and loudly 'WOOHOO' when she'd finally crossed the finish line. Let me just tell ya ladies and gentlemen, regardless of the fact that Jen's a perfectionist who will tell you she could have done better, I am here to let you all know that she kicked serious ASS! I've been following her throughout her training and have had long conversations about how much time, commitment, determination, pain, blood, sweat and tears have gone into this half marathon. As a Momma of 2, English professor by night and Etsy business owner (we're talking about the The Polka Dot Posie here people. It's only the most FABULOUS shop around, and if you've ever admired my gorgeous rosette necklace I wear often you need to get your caboose over there and buy one yourself!) she still found the time to train her ass off for months and make her dream a reality. That, my friends, is awesomesauce at it's finest!
Jen, I am honestly SO proud of you, babe! I totally cried happy tears when I read your "I Ran a Half Marathon" post this morning (I warned you last night my hormones are out of control!) and you've sincerely inspired me.  I am just like you in that I've always absolutely detested running (mostly because I end up with black eyes. For cereal. Baha!) but the fact that you overcame that hatred and have flourished into such an awesome runner who completes HALF MARATHONS is genuinely inspiring. I've always wanted to run a marathon one day, it's on my bucket list, but I've just never thought I'd be able to enjoy running enough to ever do it. Following you in your journey has showed me it IS possible and that it CAN be done. So thank you, for giving me the boot up the bum and inspiration I've needed to get off my ass and start running. As soon as I'm back home my sister and I are beginning the Couch-to-5k-running program and I WILL make my dream come true, just like you have. Next year I want to be right along side you for the Chicago Hot Chocolate Race, just like we talked about. I'm so excited to get this running started. Lets make it happen! 

So whether it was lazy and uneventful or crazy and chaotic, I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful weekend! Regardless of the fact I didn't accomplish much, it makes me so happy to know the ones I love did. Way to go guys, you rock!

Linking up with Join the GossipSami's Shenanigans & five30three for Weekend Update!


Friday's Letters

Dear US Immigration,
Please, for the love of GOD hurry your asses up! This whole process has not only eaten a hole in our wallets but it has used and abused our brain cells, patience and sanity. Ya killin me, smalls! It's been nearly 8 months since we started this hoopla. We just want to get settled in Vermont and start our new life together. Is it really that much to ask? No. Didn't think so.
Pull your finger out!
P.S. Carl and I would prefer you didn't arrange his medical/interview (which is held in London) DURING the Olympics. That would be evil. HA! But who am I kidding, there's no wood around to knock on so I've just jinxed us. Quick! Someone send me a four leaf clover. 
Dear Clear Snotty-Sticky Goo-Crap on the Back of Gift/Credit Cards,
You aggravate me. Really aggravate me. You remind me of a nasty jelly fish (which is altogether disgusting), you never peel off in one convenient clean strip, and I always spend at least 10 minutes desperately trying to flick chunks of you from my fingers.  You are the bane of my existence.  Go awaaaay!
Dear Sonya and Mama Lynne,
I'm so sorry I haven't got around to composing your birthday blog posts yet. As you're both well aware, the last week has been complete MAYHEM and I've spent the last 3 days desperately trying to catch up on all of the events. I haven't forgot about you, I promise! Watch this space!
Dear 50 Shades of Grey,
You've sat on my night stand, bind unbroken, for an entire week as I haven't yet had time to read you. I'm sorry, but I promise to rectify this tonight. I'm dying to see what all the controversial fuss and carry-on is about. You better be a good read after the amount of swooning women I've spoken to...my Mother being the first...and yes now that I know the books content I'm ever so slightly weirded out by this. Mom, Ew! Shouldn't you be reading Home Interior magazines and girly chick-lit books like Water for Elephants? I was okay with Twilight and The Hunger Games but have you told Dad about this latest filth you're encouraging his daughters to read? Haha! 
Anyway, stay tuned as I'll be sharing my highly influential (baha!) verdict very soon.
Dear Bridget Jones,
If I'd never have found Carl...I would be you. The spitting image...well aside from the blonde hair and cigarettes, but you get the point. This is 100% fact. I laugh hysterically at all of the stupid crap you do and I can't help but compare it to all of the stupid crap I've done and continue to do on a daily basis. We are fictional twin sisters. What's even more poignant is that every time Mama Lynne and I watch either of the films (they're our favorite) she dies laughing and calls me Bridget for days afterward. How very ironic.
Lately I've been craving a bit of Bridget, and I think it's time I indulged. 
Tonight Lynne and I need to bust out the face masks, chocolate biscuits, some wine and hit the big triangle PLAY button. What a genius plan. Snap!
Dear Husband,
Thank you SO MUCH for handing me the biggest laugh of my adult life last night. As we fell asleep cuddling, we did the usual ritual of changing positions halfway through the night and sleepily muttered our I love yous. However, last night instead of the usual "I love you, baby" you came out with this epicness: "I love you, tactics. Uhhh, shit. I meant to say baby but my sleepy Carl brain made me say the wrong word." BAHA! I love you, TACTICS? What the hell?! What are you, an army general? I've never even heard you use the word tactics in every day conversation, how very random. Either way, I laughed so hard I had to get up to pee (which was a pain in the caboose, but I'll forgive you and your 'sleepy brain').
You are hilarious and I love you long time.

Well, that's all for me today,  lovelies! Feel free to join us for the link up and share your letters!
Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your FRIDAY! :)
Lots of love, love, love,
P.S. If you missed my 1st Anniversary Post make sure you stock up on the tissues and check it out! :)


One Year

~They say absence makes the heart grow fonder~   
Most of you will already know the story of Carl and I, so I'm going to try and keep this as brief as possible (pfffft! yeah right! This is motor-mouth Amanda, here!) But for those of you who are new, stock up on some tissues, grab a cup of coffee, put your feet up and enjoy our long-winded love story.

For all of the 10 years we've been together Carl and I have been plagued by the Atlantic Ocean. The truth of the matter is that in some way, shape or form we always will be. For years I would cry myself to sleep wishing he were with me, and spend my days counting down the hours and minutes until our next reunion. But flights don't come cheap and money certainly doesn't grow on trees. And when you're young it's hard to understand that everything happens for a reason, that there's no use crying over spilled milk. From the age of 14 I had to learn to be patient and believe that everything would work out. I'm so grateful that it has and I thank my lucky stars every single day that we're happily together. I don't ever have to say goodbye to my baby again and that's the biggest weight off of my shoulders. Ya see, I have this bitter hatred of goodbyes. I'm one of those people who now only believes in see you laters

Since the beginning of our relationship Carl and I established that we would settle in America. This wasn't something I ever had to ask him. It has always been his decision to make the final move and something we agreed together would be best for us and our children in the long run. I made the choice to move to England and complete my degree here as I wanted the opportunity to travel and form relationships with Carl's friends and family. I also wanted to give him the chance to spend as much time as possible in his home. Over my 4 years in Liverpool Carl and I grew even closer than we ever thought possible, his family became my family, his friends my friends, and his home my home. 

From the time Carl asked me to marry him we were well aware that it was easiest, for immigration reasons, if we were already married when we made the move back to the US. And for the entire year of our engagement I was admit that I didn't want any form of a wedding in England as I didn't want it to detract from the "big wedding" planned for Vermont in 2013. I was so afraid people would think "why are they having TWO?!" "They're so greedy!" "They're already married, why the hell are they having another ceremony and reception? Why should I even go?" (I've since discovered that I no longer care what people think about our weddings or how we chose to do things). In all honesty, originally Carl and I were going to elope and get married. I wasn't going to change my last name, we weren't going to wear wedding rings or tell a soul we were husband and wife. It was primarily for immigration reasons, and would allow us the time to save up for the big wedding at home and still stay together in the meantime. That was, until conversations with my Mother-in-law and Momma. After long discussions they convinced me that perhaps it would be nice to have a simple and small celebration for our English friends and family who couldn't afford to make the big journey across the pond in 2013. As the days went by and I continued to ponder the "English wedding" idea I quickly began to realize that perhaps I was being selfish. In my head I had been consumed with thoughts about how others would portray our marriage and celebrations, my idea of the 'perfect' day and what was viewed as 'conventional'; when really I needed to consider people like Carl's elderly Nana (who I love dearly), friends and family. As my parents and grandmother were already due to visit England the 2nd week of July for my University graduation, Carl and I agreed to get married then so they could still be a part of it. It was an especially hard decision for me and the truth of the matter is that I cried on many occasions as I knew my sister wouldn't be able to make the trip with such short notice. Nevertheless, my mother reassured me that I was making the right decision. She reminded me that I would still get my dream wedding where I wear my dream wedding dress and am surrounded by ALL of my friends and family. I'd still get the opportunity to take part in all of the traditions I'd dreamed about since I was 5.  She brought to light a very important fact. That this was something which showed how  blessed I was. Not many people get 'two' special weddings.  

The saying 'Mom knows best' is pure truth and looking back I'm so thankful my Momma is so wise and supportive. She was right all along and I truly wouldn't have had it any other way. Thus far, mine and Carl's love story hasn't ever been straight forward and easy. We've always been presented with trying circumstances and we've always overcome them. Our relationship has taken a lot of time and dedication. It's hard work and it's unique. It's only fitting that our wedding be just the same. I've resigned myself to the fact that due to our circumstances Carl and I will always have to work a bit harder than other couples to get what we want and make our dreams come true. That used to bother me, but now I understand that in reality that's made us stronger than ever and I know deep down in my heart we're capable of achieving anything. We have the drive and commitment to achieve any goal we set. That damn Atlantic Ocean can multiply or triple for all I care. It'll never keep us apart. I find great comfort in knowing that.

~July 16th 2011~
Saturday morning, as 5:45 rolled around and my alarm began to scream, I laid wide awake with a stiff neck listening to the monsoon- like weather outside. As our wedding was planned in such short notice (just 5 hasty weeks. Yes, you read that correctly. I planned our wedding in a total of 5 weeks) we could only get a 10am appointment in a registry office for our ceremony. Our day started off bright and early...really it was too bright and early. In all honesty I never really slept the night before. Toni, my matron-of-honor, and I spent the night on couch cushions on the floor. The boys (My Carl, Toni's Carl, Rob, my Dad and Papa Garry) spent the night at mine and Carl's apartment while the girls (My Mom and Grandma, Toni and Mama Lynne) spent the night in my in-laws. There weren't enough beds and Toni and I felt bad having one of the Mom's or my Grandma sleep on the couch, so we opted to make a bed out of couch cushions on the living room floor and desperately attempted to catch some Zs with a nest of itchy and unbelievably painful Velcro rollers stabbing our skulls. (I don't recommend this to any other bride and the night before our big wedding back home I will be in a bed and completely roller-less. It was an epic sleep fail. For cereal). 

To my surprise I was remarkably calm as everyone else frantically bustled around me. Halfway through attempting to eat a piece of toast, Carl's best friend and best man, Rob (who I affectionately refer to as Bobert) sent me an adorable text. It was then it dawned on me that regardless of the fact it was small and nothing like I'd always envisioned, my wedding day had finally arrived. In a couple of hours I would be Mrs. Amanda Anderson. The butterflies attacked my stomach and I tried my very hardest not to throw up those 3 mouthfuls of toast I'd just forced down. In order to calm my nerves I continued with my photo-taking fiasco (we had no photographer so a  camera never left my side), and I tried my hardest to ignore the fact that the weather was getting progressively worse. I never counted the amount of times family members reassured me that 'rain on your wedding day is good luck!' but it must have been near 20. They weren't wrong, either. So far it's proved to be true.

Our ceremony was quick, and believe it or not we don't have a single picture. Haha! Carl and I wrote our own vows, and we'll use them again when we renew them in Vermont. My Momma read a wonderful poem I found, Jason Mraz 'I'm Yours' softly played as the Registrar signed our final paperwork, and we walked out of the wedding chamber holding hands to my beloved Coldplay - Yellow. It was simple. It wasn't in my church. We had no bridesmaids and groomsmen, only Toni and Rob. I wore a dress I'd picked by myself off of a high street clearance rack, and my hair was frizzy due to the rain, but it was perfect. We stood among our closest friends and family and pledged our love. 
We held our simple reception at the same hotel where Carl proposed to me. In fact, Carl and I spent our first night as man and wife in the same exact room he proposed. We were lucky in that nearly all of our guests joined us in spending the weekend at the hotel too. It was quaint and very English. It was simple and DIY (I made everything myself). It was hassle free. It was lovely. It was 'us'. 
 There were many tears that day. Tears from yours truly. Tears from the matron of honor and best man. Tears from my Daddy. The pictures above are my favorite pictures of the entire day. They're blurry and unprofessional but they're beautiful. I've only ever seen my father cry twice in my life. He's a 'manly man' and one of those who believes that men don't cry. But when his voice cracked and got muffled as he spoke words of appreciation towards Carl's friends and family for looking after his daughter, it melted my heart. I sobbed uncontrollably in my hands and even now I cry as I type this.

Daddy-o, I don't think I've ever told you how much your speech made my heart happy. It truly did. I was overflowing with appreciation, love and gratitude. I was floating on cloud nine. Thank you for being so open, honest and genuine. It truly meant the world and I'm SO thankful you were there to share my special day with me. I look so forward to finally sharing our first father-daughter dance and walking down the aisle of a church. It's not too long now! I'm trying my hardest to be patient. 
Carl's Nana got Carl and I a lovely wedding cake from a local bakery, which had calla lilies in the corner to match my bouquet, and our initials intertwined on the top. The wedding coordinator from the hotel showed us how to 'officially' cut the cake, but Carl, being the twonk he is, ignored the resistance and attempted to saw his way through thick ribbon. Hahaha! I haven't posted the picture of the damage, but trust me, it's embarrassing and HILARIOUS. Only Carl and I could butcher a cake that way...well, only Carl could butcher a cake that way.
That rainy Saturday morning we said our 'I do's' and became man and wife. I was the happiest girl in the whole entire world and it is a day I will never forget, as long as I live. Regardless of the fact Carl and I have never had a first dance, I never threw my bouquet, I've never enjoyed a father daughter dance, and we've never been on a honeymoon; I am so thankful we had our English wedding and I feel truly blessed to have been able to share it with our closest friends and family in Liverpool. It may not have been 'traditional' or 'conventional' but then again, neither is our relationship. Life is what you make of it, and I'm one of those kinda girls who, when handed lemons, makes a hell of a lot of sweet, sweet lemonade.

 ~ One year later ~
The weekend of July 16th 2012 we found ourselves once again in Southport enjoying the beauty of an oldy worldy English hotel.  We held hands as we walked along the lake, kissed so much Carl's parents often screamed 'get a room!' (to which I was a smart ass and replied - "we've got one!") and indulged in good weather, company and good food. It was relaxing. It was low-key and effortless. It was truly wonderful.
Sunday morning I was in the process of recovering from my Hen Party the night before (if you missed out on that fun, do click the link and read. It's hilarious). I'd be lying if I said I was chipper and I didn't feel like I was going to barf. But thankfully Mama Lynne told me of her friend who swears by ice cream as a hangover cure. I was desperate, so we ventured to the nearest ice cream truck, and ya wanna know whats hilarious?...it WORKED! Within an hour I had a spring in my step and could remove the blackout sunglasses. I felt human again. What was even more wonderful was that after the craptastic weather we've had ALL summer long, the sun had it's hat on. It was a beautiful summer day and we spent the entire afternoon enjoying all that Southport had to offer.
During our last visit, Carl and I had spotted a new Italian restaurant which had recently opened. During our afternoon of gallivanting we all popped by one last time to check out the menu, and after a good 5 minutes of drooling, booked a table for that evening. We headed back to our hotel rooms for the rest of the afternoon in order to indulge in a cat nap and some primping before heading out to our anniversary meal.
The food at Trattoria 51 was truly DELICIOUS and I'm SO glad we chose there for our anniversary dinner. It gets 5 stars and rave reviews from previous customers. I'm not one of those people to promote somewhere that was, in reality, shit, so trust me when I say there wasn't a single thing we didn't enjoy. I'm sure you know by now that I'm not a big fan of meat, but I even enjoyed Carl's homemade meatballs and his chili honey glazed chicken. Our meals were TO.DIE.FOR. I got a Potato and Leek soup for my appetizer and a marinara chili penne dish for my main meal. They were both heavenly. The staff was so inviting, accommodating and hilarious. The little Italian guy who waited on us for the evening would situate my plate beautifully in front of me as to optimize my pictures. Baha! He even said "you take picture while I grate cheese? Get it falling on the pasta? It's a good effect, no?" Haaa! Adorable! And he was right. I sit here drooling as I look at that pasta.
After our meal we headed to our beloved Scarisbrick Hotel (the same hotel from our engagement and wedding) for some of our favorite Maloney's Bar cocktails. As I was still a bit fragile from the night before, I only indulged in one fruity drink, but Carl was sucking down his White Russians like it was nobody's business! We enjoyed about an hour of fun in Maloney's before the sleepiness crept in and we decided to head back to our rooms. Within 20 minutes of taking our shoes off and nestling into the comfy bed I was smacking Carl for snoring and he was getting aggravated as I annoyingly announced in my sleep how "the goddamn blankets are too HOT!" 
We woke early-ish in time to meet Mama Lynne and Papa Garry for some breakfast in the hotel. After filling our boots with very diet-unfriendly food, Lynne and Garry handed us a handful of anniversary cards and we all retired to our rooms for a bit of a lounge around before check-out. Carl and I exchanged our anniversary cards to one another, read those from our loved ones and reminisced about how a year ago at that exact same time we were saying our vows. It was sappy and I loved it.
I still can't believe it's been a whole YEAR since we kissed and became husband and wife. Where has the time gone? How can it possibly be that long?

 The past 12 months have been the best of my life. Together, Carl and I have accomplished so many goals, we've set new ones, dusted each other off during hard times, laughed until we cried, discovered more annoying habits about one another, argued over who loves the other more, said goodbye to our first apartment, tackled the immigration process and are preparing for our big move home. Of course there have been stressful moments, days where we've fought like cats and dogs and wanted to punch the other square in the nose. We've cussed at one another, threatened to kick Xbox consoles and stormed off with our arms folded. But we've also grown to love each other more and more. Every one of the past 365 days we've done our special kiss before bed. We've admired our rings and matching last name. We've discussed, argued, agreed on baby names.  We've planned for and got more and more excited for what our future holds. There isn't any other person in this entire world who I'd rather share my life with. I feel truly blessed to have found the peanut butter to my jelly, the fellow pea in my pod, the ranch dressing to my pizza. I have a man who loves me and goes out of his way to make me laugh. Standing together I know that we can accomplish anything we put our minds to. It's invigorating.

Baby, I love you (more) from the very bottom of my heart. I couldn't have asked for a better person to share my life with and I thank you for being my partner in crime. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.

Elephant shoes.
Bean xxxxxxxx