Wednesday 31 August 2011

Credit Made Clearer

How many people do you know who don't have a credit card? I will be honest with you-with the exception of an Express Store card (from when I worked there for 2.5 seconds) I didn't have a credit card until I was 27. I got two credit cards to help cover wedding costs like flights, hotels, etc. The big stuff. Credit cards in general scare me. I always pay them on time (unless you count the one time I was late on the Express card but I got out of it because my mail was diverted because of Anthrax) for the fear of late fees.  I've paid off one of the two cards and in a perfect world I would get rid of them both.

This isn't a perfect world though and if you use them responsibly credit cards can be good, especially as an expat. If I needed to fly home at the drop of a hat, chances are I'd need to buy a ticket using a credit card. Not to mention that building up credit in a new country is essential when you want to get a mobile phone contract, overdraft or mortgages.

I met up with some other bloggers and the lovely people from Capital One in London last week and we had some really interesting discussions about credit. It's definitely interesting how people view credit based on their age, nationality and circumstances. We all agreed though that the vast majority of people don't really have a grasp of how to use credit responsibly.

Capital One has produced a series of helpful videos called Credit Made Clearer to help dispel the myths, clear up the jargon and help you make the most of your credit card. Learn all about credit, how to prevent ID Theft and credit card fraud. And if you're having problems repaying, you'll find some helpful information and support.

The videos are easy to understand and even give great travel tips, like always get currency before you head to the airport since you'll get a poorer exchange rate there (I always get my money from Cheque Centre; random but they nearly always have the best rates). 

Obviously if you need genuine financial advice about specific issues you should speak to a qualified financial advisor but the videos are a great place to start and would be excellent for helping a young adult understand credit.

Transatlantic Blonde was compensated for her time but all opinions are her own.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Feminist Friday XV Theme

No theme this week! Do you like when there is a theme or do you prefer just an open feminist link? From here on out the link will be bi-weekly or every two weeks. Please let me know if you like when I give a theme earlier in the week or if you'd prefer it just stays open.

Also a shamless plug to help my sister get to 10,000 page views on her ADORABLE cute animal page. She could win an iPad2 if she's the first to 10K and you will get to squee and have loads of good karma:


Just click the link, load the page and ooh and ahh* at the cuteness!

*oohing and aahing optional

Thursday 25 August 2011

How I accidentally (on purpose) was an extra in World War Z and was *this* close to Brad Pitt

If you knew me before I moved to Glasgow this story will come as no surprise to you. If you don't know me I'm not quite sure how to explain it but sometimes things just happen.  I don't set out to do something but find myself in a situation and just go for it if that makes sense. That's what happened to me today on George Square.

world war z glasgow brad pitt
world war z glasgow brad pitt
George Square is smack dab in the centre of Glasgow and has been taken over and turned into Philadelphia for filming of Brad Pitt's new zombie flick "World War Z." It's all any and everyone in Glasgow can talk about and I decided to take a look after I had a meeting in town today. Street lights were replaced with American traffic lights, familiar green interstate signs were put up and there were even American buses, taxes and hot dog carts. It was cool seeing a little bit of home in my new home and listening to little old ladies chat about what was going on as they took photos on their old school film cameras.

I heard lots of load bangs and saw extras running and well if I'm honest that was all you could see. I'd had my fill and since filming was diverting the buses around the Square I decided to try and get a train home. I walked down along one side and was told I had to wait to cross the street. Now I could have walked back and down another street, but I waited a few minutes and this is how I accidentally (on purpose) snuck onto the World War Z set.

I say accidentally because I honestly was just walking where security told me to go to get to my destination. I say on purpose because once I realized I'd made it behind the barriers I didn't turn around and walk away. I ended up in a crowd of extras and told the two guys next to me I wasn't an extra but maybe I'd stick around. They gave me a once over for any "labels" and then pushed me ahead of them to get in the shot. 

world war z glasgow brad pitt
I ran down George Street with maybe another fifty extras several times. We'd run and go back, run and go back. These extras were REALLY taking it seriously; I got pushed and shoved and fake American cops guided us away from what I can only guess were zombies that will be added in later. IT WAS AWESOME.

I'm not going to lie here; I submitted an application to the casting company to be an extra. I even got an email back asking me to come down for the casting, but we were in France. I was gutted. I'd only had the opportunity to audition to be an extra once before for Milk Money when I was 13; I also was out of town for those auditions. So that I randomly found myself as an extra for thirty minutes was pretty freaking cool.

world war z glasgow brad pitt
When we were running I noticed there was a car off to the side with what I thought was Brad Pitt's stunt double in it. As the wranglers yelled for everyone to move onto George Square I hung back to try and make my escape and then it happened. The car door opened and real life, honest to goodness, sexiest man alive himself BRAD PITT stepped out of the car. He looked smaller than I imagined and his nose looked really delicate. Don't ask me why I noticed his nose but it was definitely more refined than rugged. He looked hot, but also a bit old. I hate saying that but he definitely had crinkled eyes. Brad Pitt was close enough for me to lunge over and hug him before being dragged off to jail. I knew what I had to do.

I needed to head home anyway so I had nothing to lose and I took out my iPhone and snapped a picture. Quicker than you can say "3G iPhone cameras suck" a producer-type said to me "When you're an extra you're not supposed to do that."  I mumbled back "well it's good I'm not an extra then" and wandered away up the street where I asked if they'd let me walk up to get my bus.  My thirty minutes of fame were over.

world war z glasgow brad pitt

So you see I didn't try to crash a movie set but I did. There is every chance you might see a blonde girl with a grey sweater dress, black leggings, black boots and a purple bag running to escape zombies as Brad Pitt does who knows what in a car. You could scoff at me and say I messed up shooting, but really all I did was have a fucking awesome thirty minutes where I wasn't a Mom. I got to be the risk-taking, fun loving girl I was back in the day and it was AWESOME. I doubt I messed up their shots and there will be at least one more person going to see the film now that wasn't before to try and see if I spy my fat ass running away from invisible zombies.

Monday 22 August 2011

Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship

I love Little Tikes toys; their products are sturdy, well made and classic. Blondie Boy already had a Little Tikes Basketball Hoop and Kitchen we we were asked to review the Anchors Away Pirate Ship Water Table so we jumped at the chance.
little tikes anchors away water table

The table has a fountain, squirting cannon, cups, buckets, strainers, squirty sharks---you name it and it's there. The table comes with a lot of assembly required which I have to say wasn't the most easy thing to do. You'll need a drill to drill holes into the table as there are no pre-made screw holes. I'm sure that wouldn't bug some people but since I don't trust myself with power tools I had to wait for NotBlondeHusband to come home to put it together.

little tikes anchors away water table
That being said Blondie Boy LOVES the table. It's easy to fill up and has a plug in the bottom so you can easily drain the water into a bucket to empty it when you are done playing.

little tikes anchors away water tableWe'd planned to have it out during a BBQ this summer, but of course it rained! Even so my friend's 2 and 6 year old and Blondie Boy loved playing with it even without the water in my living room. Her son keeps asking when he can come back over to play with it with water!

The Anchors Away Pirate Ship is part of a full range of water and sand toys by Little Tikes. Right now if you purchase the classic Turtle Sand and Water Fun you'll get a free ticket to a Sea Life Centre or Sanctuary! Visit the Little Tikes website to purchase either today!

Saturday 20 August 2011

The X-Factor: London Auditions

The X-Factor is back and with 3/4 of the judging panel stepping in for the first time I was interested to see what the dynamic would be. The same thing happened with American Idol earlier this year and well if you ask me they were *too* nice; no one wanted to step into the Simon role. No problem with that here.

Joining Louis Walsh were Kelly Rowland, Tulisa from NDubz and Gary Barlow from Take That. Gary has taken it upon himself to be the new Simon. He's not just honest, but also has taken Simon's "let them think I don't like them but I actually do" fake-em-out phrasing to the table. As for everyone else, well it's early  but so far Louis seems less grumpy than last year.

The auditions started in London and if I'm honest I wasn't impressed. I saw a lot of singers with bad hair who thought they were more talented than they are. Could they sing? Yes. Should they win the X-Factor? No. 

Each week of the auditions I'm going to pick my favourite and this week I don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone: Janet Devlin. A sixteen year old with a Ellie Goulding-esque voice. Her voice is so pure and the tone is so warm you just feel like she's giving you a big hug when she's singing. She has an amazing voice but she's so humble and not in that "oh you think I can sing? little old me?" fake humility way so many have but genuine and true humility. 

What did you think of new judges table and who was your favourite?

Friday 19 August 2011

Feminist Friday XIV: Linguistics

I don't often give warnings at the start of posts but if you are offended by strong language or only read my blog to see cute pictures of Blondie Boy (hint hint Grandma) just stop right now.

This week's theme is linguistics; I say linguistics as that is the study of language rather than just language itself or maybe I'm trying to make y'all think I'm smart, whatever reason I'm talking about words and how they are used.

Unless you live under a rock or in an Amish community you'll have heard some horrible events took place in London and other parts of England last week. My twitter stream was full of tweets about the riots and looting and I was shocked by a lot of it and I'm not talking about the actual crimes themselves.

So let's step back a second; Rufus Hound is a "comedian" and tweeted this in response to the Malaysian student who was hurt, helped to his feet as other stole things out of his backpack. That act was atrocious; what Hound tweeted was also atrocious.

You have to call those criminals a cunt? Really? Everyone knows that cunt is possibly *the* worst swear word you can use. The worst word you could call someone is cunt and what is a cunt? It's a vagina. So the worst thing you could possibly be, if you are the most horrible, offensive scum of the earth is a women's genitalia.

Dworkin and MacKinnon would argue that the use of cunt reinforces the dehumanization of women or dismembers women to the point that all we can ever be an orifice. No one can deny that the power behind the word cunt is immense.

When I was a Women's Studies student back at University and hung out in a lot of fraternity houses I used the word cunt a lot and I told my professors about it. I thought that by using the word and seeing men's faces freeze in shock as this smiley, little blonde girl uttered *that* word I was taking the power away from cunt. If I could call them a cunt, well then they couldn't call me a cunt now, could they, because it had already been said.

While my professors actually approved of what I was doing looking back I don't think I was truly reclaiming the word. If we want to reclaim the word we need to start using it in a positive light. Anyone who's seen Eve Ensler's "Vagina Monologues" will remember the one called 'Reclaiming Cunt.' In fact I performed 'Cunt,' in front of my mother-in-law no less, several years ago at a charity performance and that is reclaiming the word. 

So back to Hound's tweet. First let me say that his wasn't the only one I saw using gendered language to condone the looters; I saw several tweets calling them pussies as well but his was the only one I saw from someone in the public eye. I can only presume that Hound was trying to be cool (because aren't all comedians who use vulgarity trying to win cool points?) as when I tweeted him calling him out on his sexist tweet he didn't respond.

Am I the only one who calls people out on this? Does cunt make you recoil in disgust or do you embrace and love your cunt?

Feminist Friday XIV: Linguistics

Here's how it works. Write a blog about being a feminist mom, raising a feminist child, a rant or anything that falls under the realm of the theme for the week. Come back and link your post and post the button on your blog.

That's it.

You don't even have to be a blogger to take part - just send me your post and I will publish it on my blog for you. You don't even have to include your name if you prefer.

When you've published it, come back on Friday and via a widget thing you can add a link to your post and share it with everyone. The link remains open for 4 days.

Visit others, comment if you like them or feel inspired by them. Just go out and encourage and support other feminist Moms.

The more support you give, the more you will get back! I can't wait to meet and interact with other feminist moms around the world!

Thursday 18 August 2011

NotBlondeHusband's 99 Problems

(because Blogger does't make it clear until the bottom, this was written by NBH)

On a recent trip "down South" I found myself, to absolutely nobody's surprise, in a bar. In an other unsurprising twist the men gathered at the bar early on while the ladies crammed the dance floor.

The music was good, late 90s/ early 00s dance and R&B but I found myself thinking about the language in music when Jay-Z's 99 problems came on. Don't get me wrong, it's a nailer of a track and I definitely wouldn't expect the women present to leave the dancefloor in protest but I did raise an eyebrow watching twenty or thirty twenty to thirty year old women chanting they had "ninety-nine problems but a bitch ain't one".

It would be easy to criticise the language used by rappers, probably too easy. It can often be sexist and demeaning. But for me, worse than the fact that Jay-Z apparently thinks it's acceptable to characterise women as bitches, is the fact that women think it's O.K. for men to talk about them that way. In fact, it's not just acceptable, it's repeatable.

I find it hard to picture men allowing themselves to be stereotyped in such a way. I've got 99 problems but an arsehole isn't one? I've got 99 problems but a macho-man shit with a small prick isn't one? I don't think it would A) be published or B) be accepted by men.

The language men often use about women is problematic. Does a young man thinking it's acceptable to call all women bitches make that young man more likely to rape or otherwise harm women? I'm not sure. Does a young man thinking it's acceptable to call all women bitches lead that young man to objectify women? Certainly and that can certainly lead to far more serious problems.

As an English and journalism major, it's probably not surprising that I believe strongly in the power of words. I try to use words to make people feel good about themselves and others, to quell violence and to avoid sexism, sectarianism and racism but words can hurt; they can incite violence and instigate all of the things that are terrible about society. When people choose to use hurtful, demeaning words you should be free to tell them they are just that, whether it's some arsehole in a bar or whether it's a multi-platinum selling musical genius. If you choose to ignore, or worse condone, this language, then you can't be surprised when they use it again, or when someone else uses the same language, or when the language incites behaviour in them that causes negative action.

So I while I wasn't surprised that people out to have a good night didn't leave the dance floor, I would have preferred they hadn't chosen to join in. I know I didn't.

Objecting to negative language, whether about yourself or others, whether sexist or racist, isn't about being a killjoy or being militant about political correctness, it's about pride and self worth. The language you choose to use about yourself defines you and the way others see you. Don't sell yourself short.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

The Gallery: Black and White

I haven't done the Gallery in ages because well I'm lazy and I forget. This week's theme is black and white and since I've been missing my Grandparents a lot recently I knew exactly what I'd post. I'm very lucky to have three of my grandparents still living and it's hard being so far away from home. Below are my maternal and then paternal grandparent's wedding photos. 
 How awesome are the dark nails and a tiara! My Grandma Bess is the original Jewish Princess :) I also just love how genuinely happy they both are in this photo.

I have the exact same shape face as my Grandma Jane and I love her hair. Massive hugs to my Grandpa Lee who is in the hospital right now; he's a tough cookie at 93 and I know he'll be back to his old self soon. It's also their 66th wedding anniversary tomorrow! Happy anniversary! xoxo

Tuesday 16 August 2011

A girl walks into a bar with her Mom...

Eight years ago today I met NotBlondeHusband. People often ask how we met, how I became and expat so for those who don't already know here, in all it's glory, is how we met. It's much better told in person with my Mom butting in every two seconds to give her version but this will have to suffice.

I was interning in Washington DC at Choice USA in the summer of 2003 when my Mom and sister came to visit for a weekend.  One night my Mom and I went out for a drink and decided to go to Georgetown, but my Mom didn't want to walk far because she had on high heels, so we went to what I thought was the first "acceptable" bar on M Street, Garrett's. Anyone who's lived in NW DC will know what I'm talking about; there are bars before full of old coke heads and after Garrett's M Street begins to incline steeply so not ideal for hoofing it in heels.

When we walked in I noticed a cute guy and two friends sitting at the bar, normally I'd have headed to the upstairs bar, but I sat downstairs instead. I went to sit next to said guy, but my Mom insisted she didn't want to sit on the corner and plopped down next to the hottie in a Barcelona strip.

Not one to be deterred, after striking up conversation about their gold Elvis sunglasses (no matter how much my Mom tries to tell you she picked them up) NotBlondeHusband, the cute guy, and I got to talking and when my Mom went to the bathroom I took her seat next to him. Several Jaeger shots, discussions of hetero-life mates and ditching of my Mom and my friend I'd called in for back up later and I was hooked.

He was over on vacation with his two friends and for the remaining 4 days of his trip we spent every day together hanging out and getting to know each other. That's the good thing about working in a small female only office; when true love snogs you while your Mom's back is turned they let you have a few days off.

We visited back and forth across the Atlantic for 9 months and then NotBlondeHusband moved to live with me in DC for the summer of 2004 and that September I moved over to Glasgow with him.

I remember being really upset when he left and one of the Directors at my office said "you are going to marry him and have beautiful babies one day." Now this was a feminist organization so she wasn't just babbling. That being said I don't think I knew just then just how right she was.

Friday 12 August 2011

Technical Difficulties

So the blog has been pretty silent this week and you'll have to excuse my slacking on Feminist Friday as we've had some technical difficulties which involved some Coke Zero and the laptop--you get the picture? Feminist Friday WILL be back next Friday and the theme is linguistic or language. I've talked about the power of words before but I'm bringing it back again. If you've already written something and are worried you'll forget to link next week please email your link and I will link it up for you.

So apologies for the silence but hopefully we'll be up and running again soon!

Monday 8 August 2011

3 Years Of Wedded This, I Mean Bliss :)

But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I'll make you so sure about it
God only knows what I'd be without you
All images © White Imagery

Friday 5 August 2011

Feminist Friday XIII: Television

I think anyone who's watched tv ever can have something to say about how sexist it is. Music videos, reality tv, hell even the BBC---you don't have to look hard to see the patriarchal influences on your screen. How many of you think about if what your toddlers watch is sexist? I sure as hell didn't until I chose this theme.

All Blondie Boy watches in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He loves it. He points out Mickey and friends when we are out and about and you've never seen his little face light up so much when you give him something with Mickey's image on it. Don't even get me started on how ridiculously cute it is when he gets up to do the Hot Dog Dance. We love Mickey Mouse so please as you read this know I don't have an axe to grind with Disney--I'm just trying to look at what my son watches from a feminist vantage point.

I was thinking about all the various episodes I've seen over and over and I couldn't think of any overtly sexist storylines. I was tweeting to Ellen about it and she asked if Toodles was a woman--I could see where she was going with this since Toodles is at their beck and call--but NotBlondeHusband pointed out Toodles was created by the Professor and "he's here for meedles and youdles." As NotBlondeHusband and I drove down the M77 towards Ayrshire though we realized while the mouse might not be overtly sexist, he wasn't completely free of patriarchal control.

Take a look at the female characters on the show: Minnie, Daisy and Clarabelle. They all wear high heels and they all wear bows. Donald doesn't even wear pants let alone shoes, but Daisy is always in heels walking around "like Marilyn Monroe in dress that's too tight" as NotBlondeHusband described it.  When the gang goes on a treasure hunt Goofy hopes it's stickers, but Minnie hopes it's handbags. So maybe Mickey Mouse Clubhous isn't overtly sexist it's certainly perpetuating gender stereotypes.

Maybe it's accidental, maybe it's a deliberate marketing decision to sell more pink branded items but whether direct or indirect, what kind of message is it sending? Am I going to stop Blondie Boy watching his favourite show? No, but it will make me question what he does watch in the future more closely.

What about the shows your children watch? How do they portray boys and girls? Men and women? Males and females?

Feminist Friday XIII: Television

Here's how it works. Write a blog about being a feminist mom, raising a feminist child, a rant or anything that falls under the realm of the theme for the week. Come back and link your post and post the button on your blog.

That's it.

You don't even have to be a blogger to take part - just send me your post and I will publish it on my blog for you. You don't even have to include your name if you prefer.

When you've published it, come back on Friday and via a widget thing you can add a link to your post and share it with everyone. The link remains open for 4 days.

Visit others, comment if you like them or feel inspired by them. Just go out and encourage and support other feminist Moms.

The more support you give, the more you will get back! I can't wait to meet and interact with other feminist moms around the world!

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Feminist Friday XIII Theme: Television

Thank you so much to everyone who tweeted themes to be yesterday I've got loads of themes for the next few weeks!

This week's theme is a relatively broad and easy one: television. Whether it's roles for women on television, reality tv, video girl, cartoons, WHATEVER--if it's on tv and you have a feminist point of view on it then it works.

Can't wait to read all your posts on Friday!

The Friday Feminist Mom Round up

Here's how it works. Write a blog about being a feminist mom, raising a feminist child, a rant or anything that falls under the realm of the theme for the week. You don't have to be a mom or parent to participate. Come back and link your post and post the button on your blog.

That's it.
You don't even have to be a blogger to take part - just send me your post and I will publish it on my blog for you. You don't even have to include your name if you prefer.

When you've published it, come back on Friday and via a widget thing you can add a link to your post and share it with everyone. The link remains open for 4 days.

Visit others, comment if you like them or feel inspired by them. Just go out and encourage and support other feminist Moms.

The more support you give, the more you will get back! I can't wait to meet and interact with other feminist moms around the world!

Monday 1 August 2011

Things we couldn't live without

These are just some things that we love right now and use everyday. None of these are things I've been sent or given and this post is in no way sponsored. I always disclose when I've been given something to review but just wanted to throw this out at the beginning for y'all.

babylegs baby legs arm leg warmer
Babylegs: Blondie Boy's eczema has really flared up over the past week and he's been so itchy in the crease of his elbow that he'd broken the skin. It's been pleasantly warm for Glasgow so I can't be dressing him in long sleeve tops in the heat.  I can stick on a baby leg with his t-shirt or pajamas and it keeps him from scratching away.

ella's ella kitchen fruit pouch
Pouches: Blondie Boy loves fruit pouches. I'll squeeze half a pouch into his porridge in the morning or he'll just walk about sucking on a fruit or vegetable pouch for a snack, too. Tesco has just come out with yogurt pouches as part of their new Goodness line for children which is great because it means Blondie Boy can enjoy yogurt on his own mess free!

L’OrĂ©al Solar Expertise: It's no secret that I'm so white I'm basically translucent and really getting even a bit of a tan is quite an achievement for me. I've been using this after-sun and tan prolonging lotion since we got back from France; I actually bought it in 2007 but this is the first I've used it. It has the slightest bit of self-tan in it and I love it. I'm maintaining the little bit of tan I got and I'm not orange. I highly recommend it.

duplo lego tower toddler
Duplo: Seriously Blondie Boy loves, loves, LOVES his Duplo. He'll sit and build all sorts of cars, houses, towers and who knows what for hours. It's the first thing he goes for in the mornings and I don't know if I'd get as much work done as I do during the day without them. It's been great watching his dexterity and building skills grow day by day as he plays with them, too.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Who doesn't like the Hot Dog Dance? MMCH is the only show Blondie Boy watches or even shows any interest in really. We always have a few episodes on the Sky+ and I love watching Blondie Boy dance along at the end and then wave/say bye to Mickey. He's started recognizing Mickey in the grocery store and we may or may have not came back with a case of Carrefour Pomme pouches because they had Mickey on them.

lady gaga telephone cans hair
Lady Gaga: "Bad Romance" was number one when Blondie Boy was born and my oh my does he love Lady Gaga. He asks for "gaga" several times a day. We've got the video for "Judas" on Sky+, songs on our iPhones and keep CDs in the car. You've never seen such joy as when Blondie Boy busts a move to Lady Gaga.  We'll walk past a store with a Gaga song playing and he starts dancing in his stroller. When a song ends he signs "more" and says "gaga" over and over until you play or sing. He is quite possibly the Littlest Monster and if I thought it was feasible I'd take him to see her live because I know he'd love it.