Thursday 31 March 2011

Car Crooning: Adele

I was in the car a lot today driving back to Glasgow from Ayrshire and then picking up the Emma dog from her haircut during rush-hour traffic. When you hear the same song four times in one day, but still belt it out along with radio at the top of your lungs, you know it's a keeper. Try not singing along by the end, I dare you.

Adele, Someone Like You.

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Win £10 of Clothing at Tesco!

Normally I'd feel a bit stupid saying I love grocery stores, but since Tara at Sticky Fingers has already professed her love, I can go ahead and say I LOVE grocery stores. When we go on holiday I always look forward to poking around the local grocery.  So it's probably no surprise that when Tesco asked if Blondie Boy wanted to try out some of their baby/toddler clothes I jumped at the chance.  I properly love Tesco, besides the fact that I think they should stock more American food **coughcough** and it's where I do most of our shopping.

Who knew you could get such cuteness at the same place you get your groceries? The clothes are a wee bit big on Blondie Boy (he's a skinamarink) but how adorable is that sweater? And a preppy baby belt holding of cords? SWOON! I can't tell you how excited I am about that belt because Blondie Boy often suffers from what we like to call "pants on the ground" since he has a teeny waist and tushie. I love the blue sweatsuit with his baby blues, too!  I think a lot of baby clothes can be overly cluttered with "stuff" and I love how simple, but stylish both outfits are and each outfit totals less than £15 BEFORE the 20% discount!

Clothing at Tesco have an amazing sale on in their baby clothes section and until April 6 there is 20% off EVERYTHING! Yes, you read that right, EVERYTHING!  Tesco also have very generously given me not one, not two, not three, nor even four, but FIVE discount codes to give FIVE of my readers £10 off their next Clothing at Tesco shop!

To enter the giveaway:

Follow my Blog publicly (link on right sidebar) using Google Friend Connect and comment with what you'd buy with your £10 from Clothing at Tesco Shop.

Extra Entries:
-Follow me on Twitter and tweet: "I entered to win £10 off my next @ClothingatTesco shop with @Melaina25 &! You can too!" and comment to let me know (1 extra entry)
-Follow Clothing at Tesco on Twitter and comment to let me know (1 extra entry)
-Blog about the giveaway and comment to let me know (1 extra entry)

Make sure to leave each entry in a separate comment.

All entries will be verified and deleted if not valid so make sure to leave the usernames you subscribe or tweet with.

This giveaway is open to all UK residents. Five winners will be drawn at random on April 4th at 12:00 GMT. Winners must contact me within 48 hours or another winner will be drawn. 

Handle with Care

I love a good care package, especially one with American treats in it and I was lucky enough to get two recently! Blondie Boy and I got an awesome package from his Mimi Linda with a microphone, Little People Plane and Paul Frank monkey tshirt for him and Girl Scout Cookies and Peeps for NotBlondeHusband and I! If you don't know what Girl Scout Cookies are you are seriously missing out. I'll be calculating the Weight Watchers Pro-Points for these tonight that is for sure :)

Before I left for London last Friday I got an awesome package of Sugar-Free Goodies from the Appliances Online, who sell cookers and other appliances, Fairy HobMother! They wanted to send me a wee treat, but knew I was doing well on Weight Watchers and didn't want to mess that up so they got me a selection of treats from the Sugar Free Megastore! Most of the snacks are American so I was super excited! I got creme filled cupcakes, snack bars, licorice, chocolate mints--YUM!

If you are in need of a treat yourself you might just want to comment on this post as I've heard the Fairy HobMother's ears prick up when they hear of a blogger in need of a little sweetness in their life :)

Sunday 27 March 2011

Guest Post: Better in Britain

Meg, like me, is an American married, raising a family, working and living in the UK. She is  also, like me, in the expat minority and isn't in or around London and lives in the north of Wales with her husband and adorable little boy Iwan.  She's currently expecting baby number two and I'm hoping that my all you UK Mummy bloggers will welcome her into the fold as you did me :)  Meg blogs over at The Rare Bit (click and show her some love!) and was inspired by my expat post and decided to put her own spin on it!

Whenever I get into a discussion with a stranger over here (and it happens a lot- friendly American that I am) there’s almost always a moment, about 45 seconds into the conversation, where they realize that I’m not a wayward tourist, but that I’m actually choosing to live in Britain. In Wales for that matter. Why? They’ll ask, why in the name of Tom Jones and all that is holy would we live here when we could live there? I get it, or at least I think I do, if all you know of a place is what you’ve seen on holiday or in the movies, it’s bound to look more fun/ glamorous/exciting. I mean, if someone I knew married Mickey Mouse I’d be shocked if they didn’t choose to live at Disney World. But, while there would certainly be some advantages to upping sticks for America, there are a few things that I think are much better in Britain and that I would definitely miss should we ever move. Here they are, in no particular order:

Public toilets- I didn’t realize how much better public bathrooms are in Britain until the first time I went back to America for a visit. Generally in Britain, each little toilet cubicle is its own little snug private world. Not so in the U.S. Stateside, even in rather nice restaurants, you’re bound to have a gap about an inch wide at the place where the door hinges onto the wall of the cubicle. Add that to the foot or so gap at the bottom of each stall and you’re in for a real treat.  Peeing in American toilets is often an adventure in contorting yourself so as not to be caught en dishabille by children crawling underneath the walls, vagrants trying to steal your purse, and nice old ladies checking whether or not the stall is occupied. That’s right- there’s no ingenious little window on the outside of the door telling you if the cubicle is vacant or occupied, so people are often reduced to stooping over to check for dangling feet, or, more rudely, peeking through the crack.

Snacking- Snacking in America is basically an all or nothing type thing. Either you’re guiltily indulging in a calorie ridden feast (umm, KFC “snack wrap” anyone?), or you’re snacking as part of diet, dutifully counting out the nine grapes you’re allowed to have. In my humble
opinion, they do it better in Britain. The whole concept of “Elevenses” is something I can definitely get on board with. When I was working in America I was never able to make it between breakfast and lunch, and so I usually had eaten half of my midday meal by 10:30. But a designated time when the entire working nation stops and has a couple of biscuits and an apple? Brilliant!

Radio - I love that I can switch on my radio and hear top 40 hits, show tunes, classic rock, and up-and-coming new bands. And that’s just on Radio 2! As much as I grumble about having to pay a TV licence fee every month, I must admit that I love the things it funds. There’s a bit of a stigma attached to public radio in America, and I think that’s too bad. Americans who listen
to NPR (National Public Radio) are often stereotyped as crunchy, middle class, yuppy, liberals. NPR doesn’t seem to do a heck of a lot to change their listener demographic, but you can’t really blame them. A great deal of the funding for NPR comes from listener donations, so they’re stuck having to keep their supporters happy. BBC Radio, on the other hand, is funded by any British resident owning a television, which not only gives them a larger budget, but the freedom to mix things up here and there. Of course, “mix things up” is a relative term here- compared to a lot of independent radio stations, the BBC can often seem quite stodgy, but when you’re used to having to slog through a cacophony of “zany” radio DJ’s, a commercial after every song, and the same pop hit overandoverandover again, BBC Radio is a breath of fresh air.

Jacket Potatoes- Oh the humble baked potato. When I first moved to Britain I was shocked (and a little horrified) by the concept of jacket potatoes. Why oh why, would you want to put baked beans on a baked potato? I turned up my nose. I would try coronation chicken, I would
even taste black pudding. But toppings on a potato other than butter or sour cream just seemed obscene. Seriously? Coleslaw, on a potato?! There just aren’t enough italics in the world to express my shock and dismay over the molestation of this noble tuber. Then one day in a Cardiff café, my husband ordered a jacket potato with beans and cheese. I wrinkled my nose. Our food was brought out. The cheese on the potato had gone quite melty, and it smelled kind of good.I tentatively asked to try a bite, and hoisted the fork to my mouth with the same hesitation of an eight-year-old eating a worm on a dare. I chewed it thoughtfully for a few seconds. The clouds parted. It wasn’t good. It was divine. I realized that I had been culturally blinded in my bias toward acceptable potato toppings. In retrospect, I don’t really know what I was thinking.

What’s not to like? Baked potato? Good. Beans? Good. Cheese? Good! This is now one of my favorite comfort foods, and it was actually the first thing I ate after giving birth to my son. If we were to ever move back to America I’d miss jacket potatoes the same way I now miss Kraft Macaroni and Cheese or Jello Instant Pudding.

Food products aside, there are lots of things I do miss about America, and lots of other things I’ve come to love about Britain, and, more specifically, Wales. It can be hard to have two places that feel like home, and I think we’ll always feel torn between the two no matter where we live. So, although it might shock those strangers I meet, I’m actually quite happy here. If I could just get an electrical socket in my bathroom, my world would be complete.

Saturday 26 March 2011

Weight Watchers Sweet and Sticky Pork ala NBH

Despite our ongoing attempts to diet, I still like to eat well. I enjoy cooking (it's lucky someone in the house does, because Blondie certainly doesn't...) and I'm glad we're sticking to a diet that lets us cook things from scratch. I often start with a vague idea of a protein I'd like to eat or a style of food I want and then mess around until I have something resembling a meal, with pro-points I can stick the ingredients into my phone and end up with a value for my inventions. Hopefully that works most of the time but sometimes it's a lot easier just to follow a recipe.

I've been trying recipes from a couple of Weight Watchers books over the past couple of weeks. Seriously Satisfying has recipes ranging from breakfast, through lunches to desserts as well as food for one, restaurant style dishes and food which will impress dinner party guests, without them knowing they're eating "diet" food.

Last night we tried "Sweet and Sticky Pork": a chinese style dish featuring pork tenderloin with rice and vegetables.

For four people take:

150g long grain rice
350g pork tenderloin (cut into 12 slices)
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1.5 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
cooking spray
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
150g mange tout or sugar snap peas

1) Cook the rice according to packet instructions and keep warm
2) Pound the pork with a rolling pin until 1cm (1/2 an inch) thick
3) Mix the soy, honey, ginger, garlic and chilli. Heat the cooking spray in a pan (med/hot). Dip the pork in the sauce and toss into pan. Cook for 2 mins, turn and cook for another 2, ensuring the pork is cooked through. It should have turned dark and sticky.
4) While cooking the pork in batches, boil some water in another pan. Add the carrots and cook for 3 mins, then add the peas and cook for another 2.
5) Once the pork is cooked stick the rest of the sauce into the pan, heat through.
6) Serve

7 pro points per serving

It was pretty good, but I can't follow a recipe without messing with it. My two cents:

1)Cut the pork into 6 pieces not 12. It should be a nice, tender cut of meat to begin with, 1cm thin is too thin. Don't pound it either.
2) On that note, there's not enough pork. Doubling the pork makes the recipe 10 pro points, still a small amount. I guarantee you'll go hungry with only 90g of pork per person. I'd use 600-700g of pork, and cut it into 12 medallions, or 3 per person.
3)Mince the garlic, or at the very least finely chop it. Crushing it gives no flavour.

It seemed to go down well when I cooked it my way and I'd certainly eat it again.

At some point over the next week I'll stick up a recipe from another book I've been using, Oriental Express.

Transatlantic Blonde were provided these cookbooks but all opinions are our own.

Friday 25 March 2011

Blinkingly Blissful

I'm back! Hallelujah the laptop is working again! My poor blog has been neglected these past two weeks and I'm backed up with posts about all the lovely things we've been trying out! Most of the time Blondie Boy is the main tester in our house, but every now and then I get to be the guinea pig!

I love beauty products and am a total makeup snob. I'm especially a sucker for a defined eye and black eyeliner is a staple in my makeup bag. Normally I'm a black shadow as liner girl but I got the chance to try the new Kajal Pencil by Blink. It contains waxes derived from olive and jojoba oil and is free of mineral oil and preservatives. The liner is long lasting and has a smudger on the end to create your desired look.

I hadn't used a pencil liner in a long time, but this goes on smooth and lasts for ages! I wear contacts so my eyes are very sensitive but the natural kohl didn't irritate them at all! I like to line my inner lash line for a more defined and fuller lash look, but this would be perfect for a smokey eye or cats eye, too!  The intense Kajal Eyeliner retails for £13.00.

Fat Girl Slim by Bliss

I've blogged about Bliss products before and they are some of my favourite pampering and beauty products on the market.  I could have lied and said I don't have cellulite, but I'm not a very good liar, so of course I jumped to try Fat Girl Slim. It energizes the skin, stimulates the skin surface to firm and contour with caffeine and visibly reduces the appearance of excess fluid retention in skin layers.  I've been trying out Fat Girl Slim on my c-section tummy and while it smells and feels amazing, so far I can't see any results, however in clinical studies 87% saw a firming effect, 85% felt a slimming effect and 73% noticed a reduction in the appearance of cellulite! Hopefully if I keep using it (and exercise more) I'll see the same results myself!  Fat Girl Slim retails for £28.60. 

Transatlantic Blonde was provided these products for review but the opinions are our own.

Saturday 19 March 2011


I was tagged by the lovely Mummytips in Claire's new Three by Nine Meme. All you have to do is answer the nine questions below and then tag three of your blogging buddies so that you can learn a little something new about each other, so here you go:

Three names I go by: Blondie, Melaina, Mommy (all my other nicknames are related to my name!)
Three places I’ve lived: Cincinnati, OH; Washington, DC; Glasgow, Scotland

Three places I’ve worked: British Red Cross, Choice USA, Capital Hill/Congress
Three things I love to watch: American tv, Blondie Boy learning, Cincinnati sports
Three places I have been and love: Köln, Germany; Koh Samui, Thailand; Los Angeles, California

Three people that email me regularly: My Mom, ED Team & Sabrina
Three things I love to eat: Sushi, Skyline Chili, Jack Daniel's Chicken Strips

Three people I think will respond: JennyMae, MrsBro, Kaymee
Three things I am looking forward to: My Mo Mo coming to visit Monday, French beach holiday in July, Blondie Boy talking

Monday 14 March 2011

Win with Weight Watchers and The Vitality Show

CONGRATS to Emsiecov! Please contact me within 24 hours to claim your prize! Thanks to everyone for their entries and great tips :)

If you didn't win, you can get two tickets for £20!* Click here to book tickets and enter the code 'BLOG' to redeem the offer. *Saving based on door price. Booking and transaction fees apply. To book tickets, visit or call 0871 230 5569 and quote ‘BLOG’.


Are you ready to be WOWed? Weight Watchers are exhibiting at The Vitality Show 2011, from 24th- 27th March, at Earls Court London! The Vitality Show is the UK’s largest health, beauty, fitness and wellbeing event for women. I have a pair of Vitality Show tickets and a gorgeous goodie bag, filled with health and beauty treats to giveaway!

To enter the giveaway:

Follow my Blog publicly (link on right sidebar) using Google Friend Connect and comment with your best healthy living tip! It could be a favourite snack, exercise tip, whatever!

Extra Entries:
-Follow me on Twitter and tweet: "I entered to win tickets to The Vitality Show with @Melaina25 &! You can too!" and comment to let me know (1 extra entry)
-Follow Weight Watchers on Twitter and comment to let me know (1 extra entry)
-Blog about the giveaway and comment to let me know (1 extra entry)

Make sure to leave each entry in a separate comment.

All entries will be verified and deleted if not valid so make sure to leave the usernames you subscribe or tweet with.

This giveaway is open to all UK residents and is for two tickets only (travel not included). A winner will be drawn at random on March 20th at 12:00 GMT. Winners must contact me within 48 hours or another winner will be drawn. CLOSED.

Don’t forget to visit Weight Watchers at the event on stand E130. Come down to sample a delicious range of Weight Watchers Foods, from scrumptious Muffins to refreshing Wine. You can also pick up our April issue of the magazine, trial the iPhone app (which I love), and chat to WW Leaders.

If you don't win, you can get two tickets for £20!* Click here to book tickets and enter the code 'BLOG' to redeem the offer. *Saving based on door price. Booking and transaction fees apply. To book tickets, visit or call 0871 230 5569 and quote ‘BLOG’.

Transatlantic Blonde were provided tickets and goodie bag for this giveaway.

Friday 11 March 2011

Sound of Silence

I realize my blog has gone silent. Our laptop is broken and the effort needed to blog from my iPhone is something I just can't rustle up right now.

I'll be back and I promise to provide lots of pictures of the Blondie Boy when I am.

Thursday 3 March 2011

Culture Shock

I got an email from a friend last night saying she might be moving and how did I deal with the culture shock when I moved to Scotland. Obviously the UK isn't that different from the US. We speak the same language (supposedly), have a lot of the same foods and same TV shows. Here are some of the things that I still don't get as an American abroad.

-Tea. To me tea is something you drink with honey and lemon when you are sick. When I worked in bars employees were allowed as much free tea as they wanted, but not pop. When I got my first office job in the UK I probably got asked 6 times a day if I wanted a cup of tea. After two weeks they finally realized to stop asking me. I was also shocked at the number of people who took tea breaks. Really? A break? You can drink tea at your desk and work at the same time. It reminded me of how much I hated smokers who's tables I had to cover while they got a smoke break; I never got a fresh air break.

-Butter on sandwiches. To me mustard and mayonnaise are the appropriate condiments for a sandwich. I hate that butter is on everything; sure sometimes it's nice but when you can leave teeth marks in the butter it's too much.

-Road signs or lack there of. I really feel that American road signs are far more helpful. There's a Taco Bell, BP, Dunkin Donuts and a Holiday Inn at the next exit? Thanks Mr Sign that is really helpful! I hate that you don't have signs like that here. I seriously had to map out various McDonald's throughout Scotland before I put on forums for work. If I'm up early I like a McDonald's breakfast and I like it even better if a sign on the side of the road will tell me how to get it.

-Night time soaps: Coronation Street, Emmerdale, East Enders, Hollyoaks. I don't get them. I've never watched them but almost everyone else seems to do so. Sure I watched Days of Our Lives religiously back in the day, but it was in the afternoon. Don't ask me why a daytime soap is better than a nighttime soap, I don't know. I do know that a storyline involving identical triplets (one of whom is a nun) and a baby swap involving a baby named Elvis is FAR superior to the baby swap story line that caused drama over here.

-Variety of products. When you go to the American grocery store you have loads of brands and varieties to choose from; in the UK not so much. If I want to buy cake mix there are maybe three flavours. Variety is the spice of life! If I can get all sorts of random Polish foods in my store, why can't I get lovely, delicious American products?

Those are some of my WTF UK rants. There are plenty more but I think I've gone on long enough.