Heading home for the Holidays!

That’s right peeps, the day is here!! We’re heading home for the Holidays or Christmas if you’re European!! Woooooooooooooo!!!!

Heading HomeSo depending on when you read this I’ll either be frantically running around the apartment doing some last-minute packing and sitting on my suitcase to make sure it shuts and all the Christmas presents fit in! Cleaning the apartment for the burglars (why do we do this? clean the house before we go away? Is this a worldwide thing or just something us mad Brits do?) running through the airport Home Alone style to catch our flight (this actually did happen last time we went to Europe! It was touch and go as to whether we would make it!) chilling out in the airport with a holiday drink (I’m hoping this is the case this time around!) or attempting to sleep on a 10 hour flight to Amsterdam, getting swollen feet and legs despite the flight socks and no doubt surrounded by screaming children who are determined not to let me sleep at all and kick my seat throughout the whole flight (why am I always the one who ends up this situation? It’s usually nailed on for this traveller!) That will then be followed by a connecting flight to Düsseldorf! Phew! The travelling doesn’t stop there though – after that there’s a 1 and a half hour drive to the German’s parents house!

So as you’ve probably gathered the first stop is Germany! That means a trip to the Weihnachtmarkt (I’m so excited that we get there before it closes!!) meaning Glühwein and a million other German Christmas treats, catch ups with friends that may also include a trip to the German’s local pub, and when I mean local I mean the only pub in his little German village that everyone goes to, and we all know how much German’s like to drink beer right? I’m sure a lot of it will be heading our way! Then there’s Christmas day with the German family where we’ll eat Rouladen and generally do nothing followed by Second Christmas Day as they call it in Germany (or Boxing Day to us Brits!) where the rest of the German family will join in and I’ll be lost in a sea of German and probably thinking about what I’ll be eating for tea/doing in England/getting up to in the morning and other pointless junk because I can’t understand anything (I have to point out here that I do try but once everyone’s talking at the same time and it’s really loud I’m literally lost and switch off!) oh and there’s the wedding planning. Yep, a large majority of our time in Germany will probably be spent planning the big day next year! We have to meet the priest, the guys at the wedding venue, find a florist, find a DJ (I’m kind of worried we won’t have any music at this wedding!) the list is endless! We’ll probably need a holiday to get over this one!

Then after a week in Germany comes the fun part – a week in England!! Blighty, I’m coming back and I am sooooooo excited!!!!! First up is another Christmas present opening session, this time with Ma and Pa Cook and the Big Bro and sister-in-law who I am sure will all be getting fed up of waiting for us to arrive! Then seen as though the Big Bro and I are missing Christmas at home (he’s going to my sister-in-law’s parents) Ma Cook is doing Christmas all over again on New Years Day! Oh yes, that British Christmas dinner will be heading my way a week later than planned!! That means Christmas crackers (don’t worry American friends of mine, I’ll explain what these amazing things are at a later date!!) mountains of food including turkey (hello turkey coma!) Yorkshire puddings (again I’ll explain these at a later date!) roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, stuffing, mountains of veg including sprouts even though nobody really likes them, christmas pudding, mince pies, the list goes on and on! Basically I’m going to get fat and come back to the States in January with the fear of not fitting into that wedding dress and going on a HUGE diet! But nobody can diet during the Holidays right? Exactly! So I’m heading home to make the most of it!!

I also can’t wait to see my family (it’s been about 6 months!) have long overdue catch ups with my friends and of course my best friends baby girl who when I last saw her was just a week old!!! She looks huge in the pictures now! I can’t wait for some baby cuddles! I’ll be hotfooting it to the pub for some proper pub grub (I’m thinking a big meaty pie or something similarly stodgy!) getting fish and chips from the chippy (I’ve been having a craving for this English delight for the past 3 months, even though I hardly ever ate them back in the UK!) and not forgetting a legendary curry from the Dil Raj in Barnsley – no trip home would be complete without it!! Oh and once again there’s that wedding planning to get done! I need to go bridesmaid dress shopping with my girlies, look for things like favours and table decorations, find suits for the boys, try out hairstyles, jeez this thing is never-ending! I’m sure we’ll get it all sorted though!

This does, however, mean a plethora of blog posts for you all to enjoy! I’m sure there will be lots to report back on! So while I may be off the radar for a little while, I’ll attempt to get something written for you lovely people! However, I’m not going to promise this, you might just get a big update when I’m back!!

There is one more thing:

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!
FROHE WEIHNACHTEN!!*

I hope you all have an amazing Christmas/New Year/Holiday Season!!

*The German has informed me that I’ve spelt this wrong on every Christmas tag I’ve written to our German family! Whoops! Bad English wife! Apologies to my German family! The one up there IS the correct spelling though! Well done me!

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Food: Fat Matt’s Rib Shack, Atlanta, GA.

If there’s one food you have to try when you come to America is BBQ and by BBQ I obviously mean ribs!! Juicy, fall off the bone, saucy ribs! Yum! So, after a tip-off from a friend, the German and I headed here:

Fat Matts 1

Yep, Fat Matt’s Rib Shack, and a shack it was! The sign outside says this place is ‘world famous’ but I’m not sure just how true that statement is! From the outside it doesn’t look that spectacular, and, I’m not going to lie, had we not been tipped off about this place I probably would have driven straight by and given it that ‘doesn’t look too great’ look! How wrong I would have been!

So, we trotted in to get us some ribs! I was excited (you know how obsessed I am with food!) and it smelt good – well it smelt good before you even walked in the door thanks to the smokey smell outside but inside it was even better! This place was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, and than it looks from the outside! I imagined an actual restaurant where you sit down and someone takes your order but I was wrong! It was packed! There was some live music which probably didn’t help (well it did for bringing in the punters for the restaurant but not for 2 little expats wanting some ribs!) basically you place your order at a window then find a seat wherever you can:

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See I told you it was tiny! So after checking the area for space and realising there wasn’t any, we decided to do a take out and eat our ribs at home! So we checked out the menu on the wall:

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It had everything you would expect from a southern rib shack – ribs (obviously!) pulled pork, chicken, baked beans, Brunswick stew, collard greens and of course mac and cheese!  (A southern meal just wouldn’t be complete without it right?) There was one thing missing from the menu that I thought was a staple everywhere in America – fries, or chips if you’re from the UK like me! This was ok though – I could definitely live without them with a menu like that! The German and I decided on a full slab of ribs with a side of coleslaw and that delicious beauty that is mac and cheese! I LOVE that stuff! We placed our order at the window and waited for it to be ready – checking on its progress as we waited:

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See, I told you this place was tiny, even the kitchen is small!! It’s everything you’d want from a southern rib shack though – we had to shout our order in because the place was loud, the smell was amazing and the atmosphere was fab! I was definitely looking forward to tucking into those ribs once they were ready! Suddenly our name was called and we were presented with a brown paper bag, full of rib goodness! We were off! I cradled our meat baby all the way home, my mouth-watering at the same time! Finally we made it back and plated up the juicy ribs and we weren’t disappointed:

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Just look at that delicious slab or ribs right there! Making your mouth water right? I could eat that again right now and it’s only 8am! They were delicious! They fell off the bone (exactly how they should be, right?) the sauce was just the right temperature when it came to spiciness and they hit the spot perfectly! The weird bit was the fact they were served with slices of bread! This may be a southern thing but I wasn’t expecting that when I opened the greasy package! I wasn’t complaining though! Oh and here are those tasty side dishes we opted for:

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Along with some extra rib sauce of course! My favourite was the mac and cheese, (who doesn’t love the creamy, cheesiness?!) the German preferred the coleslaw, perfect match if you ask me! We polished it all off, every last bit – well I gave some of my bread to the German but I ate the most important things – the ribs and the mac and cheese!! Amazing! I did fall into a little bit of a rib coma afterwards though!

Please Note: This is an unsponsored blog, I did not receive any payments or endorsements for this review, all views are from the pit of my very grateful stomach!

I miss the great British weather.

There, I’ve said it. I confess – I miss the great British weather. I never ever thought I would say that but right now I do – well maybe not right now, today it’s raining like a trooper out there and looks stereotypically British! Now, all the Brits reading this are probably sitting there, staring at their computer going seriously? You miss this? And looking out of the window. Well the truth is yes, yes I do – and here is why:

Christmas Tree 10

Ok, so right now you’re thinking ‘what the hell is this girl on about’ well let me explain…last week in the beautiful place that is Atlanta is was 76 degrees, in December. Now this, for me, is very weird indeed! Back home in England December is a very cold month where every time you leave the house you need 3 layers, a scarf, hat, gloves, Ugg boots and the thickest coat you could ever imagine! So when I stepped out of the house on Friday afternoon in jeans, flip-flops and a t-shirt it felt very wrong indeed!!

And here’s the biggest reason why it feels wrong – it’s the run up to Christmas and sitting in your living room with your Christmas tree up (if you want to find out how we got the huge tree into our apartment click here!) and balcony doors open because it’s so hot just doesn’t feel right to me at all! Christmas time means wrapping yourself up in a throw on the sofa to keep warm whilst sipping a hot chocolate or something just as warming in front of an open fire!

Another reason – we went to a German Christmas party the other night where we drank Glühwein and for once I agreed with the German – it was too warm for Glühwein! Usually we’re wrapped up in our thickest clothes, standing outside at a Christmas market using the Glühwein mug and it’s delicious contents to keep us warm! It was also bizarre when we walked out of the Christmas party complete with festive decorations and into the warm, muggy 70 degree air at 10pm at night! It’s just not what I’m used to!

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining at all, I am definitely one lucky lady! I don’t want people to think I’m not grateful for this amazing adventure I’m on right now, with the (usually) perfect weather and experiences I could only have dreamed of a year ago, but when it comes to Christmas (and as you know I am a HUGE fan of Christmas!) I miss the great British weather and the way it gets you into the festive spirit!

Today’s Ramblings #10

So after my excitement of buying a Christmas tree (I’m obviously sitting and staring at its beauty right now!) I realised I never filled you guys in on how Black Friday went! The German had the plan that we leave the house at 8:30am – I already knew this was not going to happen! Neither of us are the best at getting out of bed, especially when we don’t actually need to! Needless to say we ended up leaving the house at 10am and that was fine by me! Like I said before, I’m not bothered about being the first in the store and stuck in the middle of the crowds!

So off we trotted (well drove!) to the outlet, ready to find some bargains! Except it took us around 20 minutes just to find a parking space. Damn. Eventually we did though and off we went. Now I HATE busy shops with a passion, so after seeing the car park full to bursting I was fearing the worse…but I was pleasantly surprised! I think because America and everything in it is so big the shops didn’t seem as full! There was a couple that I had to get out of because I couldn’t move anywhere but most of them weren’t too busy! Phew!

Black Friday 1

Still smiling and with bags in our hand! This was going well! We were picking up some good bargains, one I was particularly proud of was a new bag or should I say purse seen as though I’m in the States (every girl needs a new bag, right?) from Kate Spade – half off plus another 20 percent! Oh yes! I was one happy lady! So after trudging around the outlet and leaving with our hands full of bags it was now time to hit the mall, first stop though was food! The ‘I hate shopping’ German was doing well but he needed a pick me up – we decided a Five Guys should do it:

Yum!!

Yum!!

That place does good burgers! And it was much-needed after all that shopping! Re-fuelled we headed off to the mall in search of more bargains! Eventually, at around 9:30pm we made it home! By this point the German was doing his usual shopping tricks and heading off to other shops and giving me the look that says ‘I’ve had enough’!! I have to admit that I was ready for home too! But at least we had a successful Black Friday – check out this haul:

Black Friday 2

Success! And we made a dint on the Christmas shopping list at the same time! The spreadsheet loving German worked out that we saved more than we actually spent! I’d definitely go shopping on Black Friday again – there’s some good deals to be had but I would never be the first in the queue or in the shops on Thanksgiving Day itself – that’s just going a little bit too far!

Oh and you know how our friend Carson helped us to get out Christmas tree home in his truck? Well it seems a truck isn’t the only way to get your Christmas tree home in the States! Those who don’t have one just strap it onto the roof of the car!

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Yep, the highway is full of cars with Christmas trees on top – this is something you would never see in England (I actually think it is against the law!) and I love it! I think it’s because I love a good Christmas tree!  Every time I spot one the German gets the delights of me saying ‘Christmas tree on a car!’ he thinks there’s something in the road he needs to avoid and then tells me off! Whoops! I’m just getting festive!!

How was your Black Friday? Have you strapped a Christmas tree onto the top of your car?

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

All together now…

“Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!” or as the German would say “Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Tannenbaum!”

Once Thanksgiving is over in the US it can only  mean one thing – it’s time to get a Christmas tree! Now Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year – I love getting a Christmas tree, decorating it and making the house look and feel festive! There’s nothing prettier than a Christmas tree with beautiful baubles and lights! I just love a good Christmas tree! Let’s face it, I hands down, categorically love Christmas! (How many times can I get Christmas into one paragraph?!)

And back to the story! So, the German and I wanted the biggest Christmas tree that could fit in our living room (well technically I think this was my idea but the German was willing to roll with it!) we are in America after all, but there was a problem – there was no way it was going to fit in either cars so it was Carson and his HUGE truck to the rescue! So on Saturday morning we headed North to find our Christmas tree!

First stop…breakfast of course! And we tucked into this little beauty:

Christmas Tree 1

That my friends is a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit with a side of hash browns and it was delicious!! I’m sure everyone in the UK is thinking ‘a biscuit? for breakfast?’ this isn’t the usual biscuit people – this is more like a scone, it’s light, fluffy, flakey and so tasty!! Pappa Jack’s is a proper Southern breakfast stop!

So once we’d filled up on breakfast and coffee (it was an early start, we needed it!) we headed to the Christmas tree farm – I was one excited lady! Turns out in these parts you can actually cut down your own Christmas tree!! Amazing right! I think it’s safe to say this was going to be a very different Christmas tree experience that we were used to! This wasn’t just turning up at a supermarket and walking away with a tree and your weekly shop that’s for sure! We rocked up to the farm and realised it was a lot more than just a stop off for a Christmas tree! We were greeted by a petting zoo of a goat, some rabbits and these shy alpacas:

Christmas Tree 2

I’m not going to lie, I was glad they were shy! My love of animals is minimal, I’m scared of practically any animal, especially dogs after one pinned me up when I was little! The more shy the better if you ask me! There was also a massive wooden reindeer, a cute little house to buy wreaths from and of course, those all important trees!

After a quick pit stop for Mandy to pet the goat, the German and Carson picked their saws and we headed in to the rows of trees to find the perfect one! We walked up and down and quickly realised that these trees were different to our usual Christmas tree – they were more like conifers shaped into a Christmas tree!

Christmas Tree 5

Turns out these are the ones that grow in Georgia – the Christmas trees we usually buy are grown in North Carolina and shipped down, so unless we wanted a cute conifer looking tree, the German wouldn’t be cutting down his own 😦 But, Mandy and Carson found the perfect little fella and Carson was straight in there with his saw to get that beast down! We were shouting ‘Timber!’ within minutes…

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Timbeeeeeerrrr!!!

Now it was time to find our tree! These were already cut down so we headed  off to choose one – the biggest tree we could find! Well maybe not, some of them were HUGE! We wandered around looking for the best one and then we found it – it was just the right size and heading to our living room!

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Proud Christmas tree parents!

Mission accomplished! We both had Christmas trees, they were wrapped up and in the back of the truck in no time! Yay! Christmas was about to land in the Richter house and it was mostly thanks to Carson and his truck:

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So after a few pictures in front of the huge white reindeer, the German stocked up on firewood (of course, this was bound to happen!) and Mandy and I were safely off the back of the truck and inside we headed off home to decorate our trees!! A few hours later, after kicking the chair out of the living room to make room for the tree, realising we didn’t have enough lights, heading out to get new ones, ending up in the beer market sampling beers and filling growlers (whoops!), we finally finished decorating it and, if you ask me, it looks pretty good! Best tree ever! What do you reckon?

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Although I did say to the German that we could have got one slightly bigger – there was still space between the top of the tree and the roof! The German just looked at me funny and said ‘seriously?’ I think he though I was a little mad! I just love a big Christmas tree! Mandy and I also took the trimmings home from the bottom of the tree to be creative with – I turned mine into this:

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Yep, I’m pretty proud of that one too! I’m also loving having a fireplace to hang stockings from! I have ALWAYS wanted to be able to do that! The Richter house is now officially ready for Christmas (well apart from the lack of presents!) and I can now satisfy my obsession with Chrismtas trees and spend hours staring at our pretty tree and its beautiful decorations! The sad thing is we only get to enjoy it for 3 weeks before flying to Europe for Christmas and New Year 😦 The stockings won’t even be stuffed with goodies! That’s ok though because we get to see our family and friends instead and I cannot wait!!