Happy Halloween!

Lets face it – America rocks when it comes to Halloween! Like seriously rocks! There’s no half-hearted effort in this country, no sir-ee! They go all out and more! And tonight is the night when it all comes to a head! Yay! Lets take a look at some of the differences between an American Halloween and a UK one…

 

The Decorations

American’s like to decorate their homes for everything! If there’s a celebrating there’s decorations – 4th of July, Easter, Fall, Christmas and of course Halloween! Houses everywhere have pumpkins on their porches, some are carved, some are literally just there to look pretty! Then there’s the Halloween based decorations, they are amazing!! Spider webs are hanging from porches and in bushes, ghosts and skeletons pop up in windows, zombies and witches sit on porch swings, gravestones are placed in gardens and dead looking people lurk at every corner!! Check out my neighbours decorations:

Spooky!

Spooky!

Then there are the people who go one step too far! We spotted this house whilst up in the mountains the other week! Every inch of the garden was covered in some sort of blow up Halloween decoration:

Madness!

Madness!

And the grandma who was driving away from the gym the other day with these beauts hanging out of the boot (or as they say here in the States, trunk) of her car:

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Apparently she tells her grandkids that if they don’t behave they’ll end up in grandma’s trunk too! Oh and we obviously got involved in the Halloween decorations trend:

IMG_6071Yep we have a big fat Happy Halloween banner, pumpkins and lights in the shape of pumpkins!! It’s our first effort – give us some credit!!

The Costumes

American’s go all out with their Halloween costumes! Shops are full of different things to dress up as for weeks before Halloween and they’re not just witches, ghosts, vampires and zombies. Oh no, no, no! People go out dressed as anything on Halloween – clowns, Presidents, doctors, teachers,, celebrities and even random things like sweets and a neighborhood! (My friend told me about this one yesterday – a group of them did it together, he was the church, others were houses, kids, parents, shops etc! Sounds amazing if you ask me!!) There’s no kids whacking on a scream mask, knocking on your door and expecting you to give them money over here! For once I won’t be pretending I’m not home!! I can’t wait to see what characters turn up at my door later!!

 

The Candy

It is everywhere right now and I mean everywhere! You go in the supermarket and there are boxes upon boxes of Halloween based candy and man it is amazing!! For a start there’s Candy Corn (that stuff is addictive!) followed by Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kisses (again addictive!) not forgetting the usual suspects like Reese’s, Hershey’s, Twix, Milky Way and the rest of those chocolate treats we all love! I made the fatal mistake of buying ours early and opening it:

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Let’s just say it doesn’t look like this now and I’m hoping I have enough for the kids that come to the door tonight! Whoops! It turns out they have a Halloween candy top 5 list too (it was just on the TV) and I might pass as a good house to visit! Woo! Number 1 is Reese’s, tick! Number 2 is M&M’s, cross, although I do have some in the cupboard that I could bring out in an emergency! Number 3 is Snickers, tick! Number 4 is Hershey’s, sort of tick – I have the pumpkin spice ones! And Number 5 is Kit Kat, cross! 3 out of 5 ain’t bad!

 

The Rules

Yep there are rules for Halloween over here! We had an email the other day from our apartment complex people asking if we want to get involved and will we be giving out candy to the kids! We obviously replied with yes! (Had we been in England the answer would more than likely have been no!) The kids then get a list of apartments they can go to – a good idea if you ask me! Also you have to leave your porch/outdoor light on indicating to the Trick or Treaters that you’re happy for them to knock on your door! Apparently this rule applies everywhere, no light on, no knocking! Works a treat if you ask me! Good job they sent the email though or I would have been really upset – our porch light is never on and I wouldn’t have known that it needed to be lit so I would have been sitting here with a sad face because nobody had knocked on the door!

 

So my first US Halloween is here and it’s started with my friend sending me a message saying ‘Happy Halloween!’ you don’t get that in England!! Next up is pumpkin carving (the one that the German bought and failed to carve!) and then I’ll be waiting for the knocks on the door later on! I am so excited!! I can’t wait to see the costumes and the cute kids all dressed up shouting ‘Happy Halloween! Trick or Treat!’ I did, however, ask one of my friends how much candy I should give them – I don’t want them to be that lady in apartment 7K who doesn’t give out enough candy!

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Exploring: Pumpkin Love = A Pumpkin Patch!

The German wanted a pumpkin. I think this is because, as I told you before, pumpkins are everywhere in America right now! Every shop you go into there’s a pumpkin, every restaurant you eat at there’s something pumpkin related on the menu and the German now has a lot of love for pumpkin beer! I think he’s sad that soon it will be heading off the shelves for another year!

So whilst we were out and about on Saturday I spotted a pumpkin patch and the German drove straight in!! I’ve always wanted to go to a pumpkin patch, in fact I got a little bit excited whilst I was driving back from the supermarket (grocery store!)  the other week when I spotted one at the side of the road! And I was definitely not going to be disappointed! This was what we saw as soon as we got out of the car:

Clever pumpkin artwork!

Clever pumpkin artwork!

Yep a load of pumpkins in the shape of a pumpkin! Very clever indeed and very welcoming! Despite this being a trip for the German I was now very excited! Why have I never been to one of these before and why do we not have them back in the UK?

The pumpkin patch was so cute! Every so often gathered around a tree there was a selection pf pumpkins just waiting to be picked up and taken home where they were probably going to meet a grizzly death involving a knife and some scary cut out shapes to make a Jack o’Lantern! That was the plan for ours anyway!

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We wandered around in an attempt to pick our pumpkin, bearing in mind I have never bought a pumpkin in my life! Some of them were huge! We spotted so many shapes and sizes we were kind of confused by it all! But we battled on (it was a tough job!) and carried on with our mission to find the best one!

After checking out a few of them the German settled on his favourite and it was kind of big – I think he was determined to emerge himself into the American theme of bigger is better! So he wandered over to the stall, paid his cash and had a huge smile on his face – he now had the pumpkin he’d been wanting for weeks!

Proud pumpkin dad!

Proud pumpkin dad!

Our first trip to a pumpkin patch was a big success! All that was left to do now was head home and get that pumpkin carved! Now this job was designated to the German – he was the one who wanted the pumpkin in the first place! I was given the job of finding something to make with its insides and found recipes for pumpkin pie and pumpkin soup! My job was done!

But have those dishes been made yet? Of course not because the pumpkin is currently residing here:

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A selection of pumpkins!

Yes he’s living on the fireplace, uncarved with some slightly smaller friends! The German, despite being so excited about it, hasn’t done his job! And with Halloween arriving tomorrow and the German going out for drinks tonight I think it will be me who’s battling with the knife and leading the pumpkin to its grizzly death in time for those trick or treaters!

Exploring: Oakland Cemetery Halloween Walk, Atlanta.

I’m a guest blogger again! Yay!!! This time it’s for Explore Georgia – an organisation that tells you all about Georgia, the best places to go, the best things to see, special events and everything else amazing about this peachy state that I live in! After spotting my blog they asked me to be part of their blogging team – woooo! So this is my first post for them and fitting with the time of year it’s all about ghosts!

Meet the ghost hunters:

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Yep the German and I enlisted our friends Mandy and Carson for this one – we were about to take a Halloween Tour around Atlanta’s oldest cemetery, Oakland Cemetery. These things are famous in this city and this little expat wanted to know why! Want to know what happened, in the dark, in the cemetery, close to Halloween? Check out Explore Georgia’s blog to find out more by clicking here!

Enjoy!! xx

Exploring: Apple Picking in North Georgia

It seems apple pickin’ is a tradition in America in fall and I was desperate to get a look in! The German took a little bit more persuading though – turns out the farmer’s boy was forced to pick apples from his dad’s trees when he was a child so the thought of heading to an orchard to pick apples transported him back to the days when he didn’t really enjoy heading up a ladder and pulling them from a tree! But I didn’t let this stop me…oh no! That boy was heading to an orchard with his super excited wife!!!

Now I should point out that I’m not the biggest fruit eater (I know I should eat more of it!) and especially not apples but I wanted to apple pick anyway! We need to immerse ourselves into our new life!! So we wound up here:

Pretty!

Pretty!

Yep it looks quiet, calm and relaxing however it seems the rest of Georgia had the same idea! We drove up the hill towards Mercier Orchards on a sunny Sunday afternoon and we were amazed by the amount of cars and people milling around! The car park was rammed but we managed to find a space and I jumped out of the car ready to get my fill of apples! Yay!

Now you can only pick your own on Saturdays and Sundays in October so it was pretty busy but we paid our $12 ($10 for a bag of apples, $2 so that the German could also get on the tractor and come to the orchard!) and waited in line until the tractor arrived – yep we were heading to the orchard on a tractor! Could this get any better?! (By this point the German was shaking his head at me and coming out with the same line of ‘I used to do this when I was little’ I continued to point out that I did not!!) After a few minutes of this:

Tractor time!

Tractor time!

We arrived at the part of the orchard we were allowed to pick apples from! Wooo! We all piled off the tractor and had a little talk from one of the workers about how to pick an apple (the German once again shook his head at this one!) the apples we were allowed to pick and the few rules they had (like if more than one apple falls when you pick one take that one as well!) before we were set off on our merry way!

We were greeted with row upon row of trees laden with thousands of apples for us to choose from – we could pick Rome apples, Fuji, Pink Lady, Braeburn and Cameos and I was eager to try them all! So off we trotted to fill our bag! We started off with some of these:

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Apparently they’re supposed to be used for cooking but after tasting one we decided they were sweet enough to tuck into at any time! A few of them made their way into our bag! The Pink Lady’s were next and I was excited – if I ever did eat an apple back in the UK this was the one I would choose! We headed through the rows, found them, picked one and tucked in but sadly it wasn’t what I remembered. Boooo. Ah well, there was a lot more to choose from!

We moved onto the Fuji apples and they were a big success! Very sweet and tasty! A lot of this happened in this area:

Apple Pickin'

Apple Pickin’

That bag of mine was getting full but we still had other varieties to try so off we went to the Braeburns. Now these looked tempting – a mixture of red and green – but after tasting one we weren’t very impressed so we skipped them and headed for the final variety, the Cameo. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of these before but after sampling one they were a big hit! We piled some into our bag until it was full to bursting! Our apple pickin’ days were done. Booooo! So we jumped back on the tractor and headed to the farm where our adventure was about to continue and the German was about to turn into my dad!

Of course the orchard had a shop and inside it was everything apple based you can imagine!! It was HUGE! There were massive bags of apples to buy for in case you didn’t want to pick them yourself, jams, jellies, salad dressings, muffin and cake mixes, vegetables and of course apple cider amongst many, many other things and not forgetting their famous fried apple pies! Everything is fried here in the south so the idea of a fried apple pie didn’t really surprise me!

Now here’s where the German turns into my dad…we were making our way around the shop when I spotted a lovely looking loaf of bread, yum! I think it was some sort of roasted garlic flavour or something, whatever it was it looked good and I was down for taking some of that home! It appeared the German was, until I told him the price! Now you have to remember the German works in the food industry and therefore knows a lot about prices and there was no way he was paying $5 for a loaf of bread! Suddenly I was transported back to my childhood when my dad would say things like ‘I’m not paying that!’ and ‘how much? I don’t think so Rachel!’ The bread was left on the shelf. I did manage to persuade him to invest in some honey mustard pretzel dip (after some protests about the price!) and of course we couldn’t leave without trying one of those famous fried apple pies! Man, they were good!!!

I now feel like I’ve passed another hurdle into becoming a fully fledged adoptive Georgian – apple pickin’ in fall! I definitely enjoyed it and I think it was probably one of the healthiest days I’ve had since arriving in America – in fact I’ve never eaten so much apple in one day in my life!! And they’re still getting tucked into now – just yesterday I whipped up a pork tenderloin with apples in the slow cooker!! The German may protest but we’ll be heading back their next year whether he likes it or not!

Tasty!

Tasty!

 

Today’s Ramblings #3

I’m back and blogging again! If you follow me on Twitter (if not, why not?) you’ll know that the German and I headed up into the mountains for a couple of days to chill out in a cabin! It was amazing (and just like in the films!) plenty of blog posts to come from that one!!

So it seems fall (I mean autumn) has officially hit Atlanta and the weather has finally changed – man it is COLD! It was kind of weird for me and the German at the beginning of October when we were still experiencing 80 degree temperatures, lying by the pool and stepping out in our shorts whilst everyone  back home was complaining about how cold it was! The German even complained about the warm sunshine, saying he wanted it to rain so that he could spend a Sunday on the sofa! I’ve never heard those words come out of his mouth before! But everyone back home can now rest easy as the cold weather is here and it is freezing cold! It means I’ve cracked out these beasts:

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Cosy!

Yep the scarves are officially out in the Richter house! I even cracked out the Ugg boots last night when we went on a ghost tour! However I don’t think the cold weather is sticking around for too long – temperatures are staying low today and tomorrow but they’ll be back up to 20 degrees celsius next week! Phew! It does make me think that I’ve gone soft though and been spoilt by all the hot temperatures! I should be used to this cold weather – we have it for months during autumn and winter back in the UK and it gets even colder hitting minus temperatures! This is already cold enough for me – I dread heading back to the UK and Germany at Christmas, not to see my family and friends of course, I’m so excited for that, but how will I cope in the sub-zero temperatures?!

A lot of things have happened since my last blog post – first of all there was that all important scary job interview and I think it went well! I didn’t really know what to expect, it being my first interview in the US! I faced a panel of three people who each asked me questions about my past work history and how it would fit in with this job. Obviously I answered them all the best I could and was told that it was the first stage of the process, if I make it through to the next round I’ll have another interview and then be told if I’ve got the job. So far though I haven’t heard anything so I’m kind of guessing it’s back to the drawing board on the job front with more applications to send off. I didn’t expect to get the first job I was interviewed for anyway – that would be just too perfect! Hopefully something will come along soon though!

And the Government’s working again here in the States! Yep, the shutdown is officially over! It ended last Thursday and it was lovely to see the gates of the local National Park back open without a sign on them saying closed because of the Government Shutdown! It also means I can head to the Social Security office to apply for that all important number!! Now, I’ve already given it a week so they can catch up on all the backdated work in the hope that the queue won’t be too long when I go there! Maybe I’ll take the plunge on Monday…

Right my hands are cold typing this (told you it was a cold one today!) so I’m off to make a bowl of soup to attempt to warm me up! Brrrrrrr!!!

America LOVES the pumpkin!

I mean seriously LOVES it!!

Picture the scene: there’s a little sniff of fall in the air (or should I say autumn?) the pumpkins appear and in true American style people go all out with them! Everywhere you turn there is a pumpkin or something pumpkin based! You cannot get away from them! It all started with this:

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#PSL

Yes the legendary Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. This was my first taste of the pumpkin revolution and, as with every flavoured drink from Starbucks my first thought was ‘woah that’s sweet!’ I’ve since learned to half the amount of syrup pumps! This drink I’m sure appeared in stores sometime in August!! Yep the pumpkin revolution started at the end of August – if you ask me that’s still summer!!

Anyway, I digress! Just about every restaurant you go to has some sort of pumpkin dish on the menu – the breakfast/brunch restaurants all have pumpkin pancakes or waffles, dinner menus have pumpkin pie, there’s pumpkin soup on the majority of menus and some even have things like pumpkin pasta! Obviously I needed to get in on this (you have to try everything at least once, especially if you’re en expat!) and noticed some pumpkin spice pancake mix in the supermarket – it was definitely a success:

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Yum!

Yes, I will be making those beasts again!! You go on Pinterest and just about everything in the food and drink section has some sort of pumpkin theme! There’s pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cupcakes with pumpkin frosting, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin fudge and pumpkin cheesecake to name just a few! Pumpkin bread is another popular one, obviously I jumped on this band wagon as well (remember you have to try everything at least one!) and knocked up this peanut butter and pumpkin bread, and yes it was delicious!!

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Again…yum!

Then there’s the supermarkets. They literally sell everything with a pumpkin flavour – this was my view when I walked into Trader Joe’s the other day:

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Pumpkin pie and waffle mix, pumpkin butter and back in the distance there pumpkin soup! This was just one side of the store – the other was just as pumpkin crazy! Then there’s the actual pumpkins themselves and yes there are loads of the traditional orange ones that you see in supermarkets in the UK:

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And there are these weird and wonderful shapes that I have never seen before:

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Different…

The German’s also got in on the pumpkin craze with his new favourite – pumpkin beer! Just about every brewery does some sort of pumpkin brew and the German is really liking them! Here are just a couple of his favourites:

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You go into craft stores and they’re flooded with fall decorations, most of which are brown, yellow, red and orange coloured (and appeared in stores in July!!) and of course include numerous pumpkins in all different shapes and sizes:

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And no my pumpkin involvement doesn’t stop at the pumpkin bread and pumpkin spice latte of course I’ve got in on the pumpkin decorations – you have to try everything once remember and embrace everything in your new expat life! Yes these fancy pumpkins made it onto my fireplace, along with a pumpkin spice scented candle of course!

Pretty!

Pretty!

I think I’m going to really miss the pumpkin when this crazy season is over!

Today’s Ramblings #2

So it seems the random ramblings of Rachel are continuing! Here’s today’s thoughts on the world:

First of all there’s been some breaking news in the Richter Household this morning – I’ve only gone and got my first job interview in America!! Oh yes!! It’s all happening on Thursday and I am actually very nervous! You see my previous interview experience involved radio stations that I already had a good knowledge of and to add to that I usually knew the people who were interviewing, mostly because I was either headhunted or because radio is such a small world in the UK that everybody know’s everybody! This for me is a whole new ball game! For a start it’s in a different country (alright they speak the same language but still, it’s daunting!!) and it’s my first interview for at least 2 years! Eeeek! But I’m going to do my research over the next few days and make sure I’m fully prepared! Hey, I might not get the first job I get an interview for but it’s all good experience and if I do get it that’s an even bigger bonus! Anyone got any tips to help me out? I’ll keep ou updated on how it all goes!

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Eeeek! Nail biting stuff!

Today is yet another bank holiday in America – they seem to have loads! It’s Columbus Day! Yes the American’s celebrate the day when Christopher Columbus landed in the America’s and discovered this land they call home! Now, American’s have so many bank holidays that companies pick which ones they want to celebrate, that means the German is at work today…Booooo! I think this holiday is mostly celebrated by banks, post offices and schools although some companies probably get involved as well! For me it’s just another day – there’s no differences when it comes to shop opening hours and things. It’s a kind of  insignificant holiday compared to things like Thanksgiving and Independence Day!

God Bless America!

God Bless America!

Yesterday we turned up the heat when it comes to wedding planning – remember that second wedding we’re having in Germany next year? It appears the date is fast approaching and the German and I seem to be forgetting about this! Basically we still have LOADS to do! So yesterday we spent 2 hours looking at these:

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Yep wedding invitations! We kind of figured these are a very important component of said big day! But who knew there was so many to choose from and so many different parts to them! And not forgetting the cost…jeez! After 2 hours in the shop we still didn’t make a final decision and walked out with a fuzzy head, feeling exhausted!! The German’s first words were ‘I need a beer!’ so we stopped off at a lovely little sushi place in Virginia Highlands where we tucked into some sushi and endamame beans along with, of course, a beer for the German and a glass of wine for me! Hey, we deserved it!! I then came home and started to look at wedding favors…running off to Florida like we did earlier this year is a much simpler option! Haha!

Also this weekend we experienced our first ever college football game – that definitely deserves a post of its own so stay tuned for that one!! How’s your week going so far? Any tips for me on organising a wedding or surviving a job interview?