Life is Good. {September’s Happy Moments}

Life is Good...

So, it seems I’ve taken another unscheduled blogging vacation (holiday for you Brits back home – I’m hanging my head in shame for using that word!) after a busy couple of weeks in the Richter House! The Richter Hotel has been fully booked and with visitors galore I’ve been here, there and everywhere entertaining to the max whilst also fitting in some work! Phew!

I’m back now and celebrating what has bee a fab September by picking out some of it’s best moments that have made life so good this month. I can’t believe it’s October already – where is this year going? It will be Christmas and we’ll be jumping on that plane back to England before we know it! Once again, I’m linking up with the lovely Belinda over at Found Love, Now What so make sure you head over to her fab blog and show her a little love!

{September’s Happy Moments}

The yearly visit of Mama C!
That’s right people, Mama C flew in for her annual visit this month without Papa C (he won’t fly because he has a bad neck ūüė¶ ) for 2 weeks of Mama C/daughter/son-in-law time in the ATL. Thankfully, she didn’t bring the rain with her this year and managed 2 weeks of sunshine, although our planned trip to the beach turned into a couple of days in Nashville because the weather was not looking too bright and sunny down in Destin! It was lovely to have her around though. She came with an empty suitcase and went back with a full to bursting one thanks to a lot of shopping, (the German wasn’t too happy with the high number of shopping bags that came through the door in my hands!), we introduced her to the best BBQ in town, the best burger in town, stuffed our faces with donuts, finally made it up Stone Mountain with her, went to the Atlanta Botanical Garden and Zoo Atlanta, sampled some wine in Dahlonega, celebrated Oktoberfest in Atlanta, went to a Braves game and generally had some mother/daughter time that you can’t really have over FaceTime. She’s probably crying now reading this – sorry mum!

Stone Mountain / Wine Tasting in Dahlonega / Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Stone Mountain / Wine Tasting in Dahlonega / Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Some exploring with Mama C – Nashville, TN
During Mama C’s stay we were supposed to head to Florida for a few days at the beach whilst the German worked hard and earned the money but, Mama C’s history with the weather and her love of bringing the rain over from England meant the forecast was not looking good and there is nothing worse than being at the beach when it’s raining! So, we quickly changed our plans at the last-minute and instead headed up the Nashville for a couple of nights. It’s less than a 4 hour drive from Atlanta so we hopped in the car and went to Tennessee. We indulged in some country music, checking out the Hall of Fame, sipped some beers to live music in some of the many bars, checked out the Parthenon (slightly random having something Greek in the middle of Tennessee) and strolled around the city, taking in the atmosphere and soaking it all up. I’m already planning a return with the German before the end of the year. We stopped off at Ana Ruby Falls on the way home – Mama C liked that one too!

September is Good 2

Bright lights of Nashville / Exploring the Parthenon / Gold records at the Country Music Hall of Fame

Don’t worry – more detailed Nashville blogging is in the pipeline!

Sven came to stay
Jeez, the Hotel Richter was busy this month! Just a day after a tearful goodbye to Mama C (don’t worry Minimum, it will be Christmas before we know it!) I was back at the airport to pick up our friend Sven from Germany. He’s a childhood friend of the German, they both grew up in little Mettingen and Sven thought he would stop by to say hello on his way to the west coast of America. We managed to pack a lot into the weekend including a Bundesliga Breakfast (the boys, not me), a visit to Monday Night Brewing, dinner and drinks in Roswell, a tour of Turner Field and we ate our way through a mountain of wings! I’d say that’s a weekend well spent! Sven is now living it up at the Grand Canyon before heading to Las Vegas and San Francisco – not a bad trip at all!

September is Good 3

Some corn hole action at Monday Night Brewing / In the dug out at Turner Field

We explored a little more of Atlanta
On Labor Day we checked out the Atlanta BeltLine. It’s kind of like the High Line in New York City – an old train line that’s slowly being turned into a park walkway, eventually it will stretch around the city but for now there’s just a small section open. Artwork is dotted along the pathway and it’s a popular place for cyclists so make sure you stick to your own side! We did however, forget to take into account the boiling hot sun in the middle of the day – an epic European expat fail. To say we were hot and sweaty was a massive understatement! What a beautiful picture I paint for you…! We also finally made it to the High Museum of Art after a failed attempt last year when we tried to go on a Monday only to get there and realize that’s the day it closes. Doh.¬†We checked out the permanent exhibits and looked at the special Dream Cars exhibit (which the German loved) before hanging out in a hammock and taking a stroll around Piedmont Park.

September is Good 4

Strolling along the Atlanta BeltLine / Hanging out in a hammock at the High Museum of Art

Some of September’s small happy moments
We tucked into our first real American milkshakes, obviously with a burger! I had nutella with burnt marshmallows and the German downed a strawberry shortcake, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be having more milkshakes in the future.

The space near our front door was given a facelift with the addition of a pretty plant and a small herb garden. I wonder if I’ll be able to keep them alive…here’s hoping!

I celebrated the start of fall with a pumpkin spice coffee and a slice of peanut butter and pumpkin loaf. Remember my post about how America loves the pumpkin last year – that love has returned, full throttle!

We took a lovely evening stroll along the Chattahoochee. The weather is cooling down now, making it the perfect time to get outside! It also means the jeans have made their way out of the closet again…sad times. Until next spring shorts!

A front door facelift / Pumpkin coffee and peanut butter and pumpkin loaf / A stroll along the Chattahoochee

A front door facelift / Pumpkin coffee and peanut butter and pumpkin loaf / A stroll along the Chattahoochee

September rocked and October is looking pretty amazing too – my oldest and best friend in the whole wide world is coming to visit next week with my goddaughter and I cannot wait to see them walk through those airport doors – there will definitely be tears, from both sides!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving guys!! Or Happy Turkey Day as some say over here! Are you preparing to head into a food coma after eating your own weight in turkey? I definitely am! We’re currently watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (It’s amazing by the way! I so wish I was in New York!!) before heading off to our Thanksgiving celebrations!

So it’s officially turkey time here in Atlanta – these American’s don’t wait around until Christmas like us Brits, oh, no, no! Thanksgiving is where it’s at! So this is the German and I’s first Thanksgiving and we are determined to throw ourselves into it – I mean who wouldn’t want to get involved in turkey and plenty of other food!

So our Thanksgiving celebrations started on Sunday – more on that later! First up, I’m sure the Brits among you are wondering what Thanksgiving actual is apart from another excuse to eat until you fall into a food coma, yes? Well, let me explain – Thanksgiving is traditionally a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and the year ahead. It’s said that the first Thanksgiving dinner took place in Plimoth Colony back in October 1621, when the pilgrims and native Americans came together in order to survive. Nowadays though it is much different!

Our introduction on Sunday saw us heading out into the Georgia countryside following an invitation from our friend Carson to his family dinner! How nice, right? American’s are so friendly and we were very grateful for the invitation. We were so excited to experience our first Thanksgiving meal and we were definitely not disappointed – check out this plate of goodies:

Yum!

Yum!

So the traditional Thanksgiving dinner now consists of turkey, ham and a lot of side dishes! Let me explain this plate to you (complete with red cup, just like the films!!) so there’s turkey cooked three ways – roasted, fried (yes, everything gets fried here in the South!) and one cooked on a Green Egg – it’s a BBQ that is very expensive but cooks the meat really well! (The German would love one but sadly we’re not allowed grills at our apartment unless they’re electric and what is the point in that?!) Then there’s the honey ham, the sweet potatoes, the stuffing, the turkey dressing, the sweet potatoes with pecan nuts on top, the green beans, the mashed potatoes, the creamed corn, the vegetable bake, the broccoli cheese casserole, the fried okra, the mac and cheese, the pineapple casserole (that one kind of took me by surprise! I thought it was potato based!) and the devilled egg, and do you know what the best thing was – every single bit of it was delicious!!! I could eat it again right now!! Yum!

It was then followed by desert, and I’m not just talking one cake, this is America remember! There was an apple butter pumpkin pie, a fig and pecan pie, a chocolate chip pecan pie, a coconut cake, a chocolate sheet cake and some sort of fruit loaf – I tucked into the pumpkin pie, the fig and pecan pie and the chocolate sheet cake – every single one of them was amazing! The German sampled the coconut and the chocolate chip pecan pie – they both got top marks from him!

The downside to all this eating though was the food coma that followed! Slowly, everyone turned sluggish and sleepy as the turkey kicked in! The next stop was home, the sofa and some movies! We had an amazing time and were made to feel so welcome by Carson’s family! Thank you so much!!

After more turkey yesterday with a pot luck Thanksgiving dinner at the German cultural center where I volunteer, there’s even more turkey action today – we’re heading to a Thanksgiving dinner with a difference where 3 Danes, 2 Germans, 1 Brit (me!), 1 Dutch guy and last but by no means least 1 American will be sitting around the table! We all have to take a side dish – I’m making broccoli cheese casserole – I’ll let you know how that one goes! Another food coma is predicted later!

Hope you’re all having a fab Thanksgiving! How are you spending yours? Are you in a turkey coma yet?

Today’s Ramblings #4

Pinch, punch, first of the month and all that! Jeez I can’t believe it’s November already!!! Seriously! It will be Christmas before we know it and the German and I will be on that place back to Europe for a couple of weeks! (Yaay! I’m so excited about that part!!) I’ve actually just seen a piece on the news this morning about Santa coming to Kennesaw tonight!! It’s only November!! Apparently he’ll be there with a marching band and reindeer! Too early if you ask me!

Anyway, how was your Halloween? Mine was fab! It started off with the birth of Mike! Nope I haven’t had a baby, unless you class this little beast as one:

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Say hello to Mike!

Yep Toby’s pumpkin got a makeover! What do you reckon to my first ever attempt at carving a pumpkin? (At the age of 30 I know I’m a late starter!) I think I did a pretty good job! The trick or treaters seemed to think so too! Oh and then I became a domestic goddess and used Mike’s insides to whip up this:

Yum!

Yum!

Creamy roasted pumpkin soup and it was delish even if I do say so myself! And I roasted the seeds too – spicy and candied, the German was impressed!! Then came the trick or treaters – as we all know this was the part I was VERY excited about! 5pm came around and I put Mike outside and turned on the porch light – I was ready!! (I’d also bought some more candy from the supermarket just in case we’d eaten too much of it!) An hour passed before there was that first knock on the door – yay!! We answered it and I was sorely disappointed – the kids weren’t even dressed up!!! Here was me expecting these elaborate costumes I’d heard so much about and there was nothing, not even a scream mask! Even the kids in England manage a scream mask! Anyway I gave them some candy and hoped the next one would make up for it! About 5 minutes later there was another knock and this time I wasn’t disappointed:

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Check out that trick or treater!! I was very impressed – he got extra candy!! He also set the bar for things to come – we had batman, the joker, an alien and the cutest little guy who was in his dads arms holding a pumpkin shaped candy holder! The cutest one ever!!! Needless to say we handed out the candy with big smiles on our faces – our first American Halloween complete with Trick or Treaters was a big success!! I’ll definitely be doing that again next year!!¬† We still have loads of candy left though – looks like we’ll have to eat that ourselves, (She says with a pained look on her face!!) I’m not complaining about that one although I probably will when it comes to getting into that wedding dress!

I spotted this whilst in Costco the other day – something that you’ll only see in America and I had to share with you:

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Yep you’re not seeing things they are mahoosive safes for your home! Apparently they hold up to 48 guns – who needs 48 guns for a start!! Also you’ll need a big house to fit that beast in, not so hard over here where everything is massive but again, who needs 48 guns???

Oh and I gained some serious wife points the other day! Woooo! I went to Aldi to do a spot of shopping (The German likes to support his fellow Germans and best cake customer!) and whilst strolling through the aisles I came across Christmas chocolates. Yes, Christmas chocolates in October, before Halloween! I shook my head and walked around the corner where I came across these:

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German Christmas treats that my German LOVES!! Obviously I was not walking past these things without them falling into my trolley! In they went! However, I put them away when I got home and totally forgot to tell the German about them! Whoops! Later that night though I headed to the cupboard for some sort of sweet treat and remembered. When the German saw them he was one happy man and even said ‘I was just thinking the other day that I could eat some Spekulatius!’ I’ve already been told I need to go back and stock up on some more! Best wife in the world – 100 wife points to me!!

Happy weekend guys! What have you got planned? Hope it’s something exciting!!

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!

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!

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!