Saturday, July 12, 2014

Oh Costco, how I LOVE thee!

On Friday, Porter and I had a little adventure.  We went to Costco, and it was amazing!  The moment I found out we were moving to the U.K.  I started planning how I would get the same products that I love in the states.  A lot of those products come from Costco.  Costco and I are in a committed relationship.  So you can imagine my joy when I discovered they have Costco over here.  Better, yet there is one in Croydon, which is about 30 minutes from Wimbledon.  I told Porter that we had to go. 

Porter joined a car sharing company call ZipCar, it's pretty great.  We pay £10 a month and then we can rent a car that is literally a 2 minute walk away for £7 an hour.  We don't pay for fuel, maintenance, nothing.  It's not good for renting for road trips, but it's great to zip around town.  Porter reserved our zip car for Friday afternoon and away we went to Costco.

We were in heaven.  It looks just like the one back home although the products are a little different and there is a huge spirits section.  Coming from Utah, they don't have those in ours.  I think that section was twice the size of entire liquor stores back home.  They had a lot of yummy British products like sticky toffee pudding, meat pies, great sea food, huge packs of clotted cream and boxes of pain au chocolate.  There was also many items that were the same as back home like: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tortilla chips, salsa, and Stacy's pita chips.  We took the opportunity to restock our house on many essentials, plus a few yummy impulse buys.  I think it was the most money we have ever spent in one go at Costco.  However, we only want to go out there once a month-ish, not weekly like we used to, so I should get used to larger trips.  Our trip was so big we needed 2 trollies (that means "shopping cart" in British.

My friend Ali loves these flying saucers.  Flying Saucers are two thin wafers with fizzy candy in the middle. I was so excited when I found a huge tub of them.  So Ali: just another reason to come visit..wink, wink, nudge, nudge ;)

Oh Costco, how I love thee!  Thanks for always being there to comfort me with all your lovely bulk items that satisfies the American consumer in me.  

P.S. I am in love with my new bird cage umbrella!

Friday, July 11, 2014

The First Days in London

I can now blog and laugh about our first couple days in London, now that they are done, over, and I never have to do that again (at least I hope not, and if I do I will be smarter).  To start off with, we shoved everything we possibly could into 4 large checked bags, 2 carry-ons and 2 backpacks.  I bought a luggage scale at Wal-Mart, and boy was that thing handy.  We would close the suitcase, weigh it, then stuff more in until it was right at weight.  We were super lucky too because all the bags were free!  Porter has flown a bunch lately which has granted him access to a fancy pants flying club that gives us little perks like free luggage.  Too bad it didn't score us an up grade to first time....

The flight was great.  We caught some of the world cup on our layover in JFK, but we didn't sleep well on the long flight.  This was no good because we landed at 7 am in London.  In order to not be jet lagged we were on a mission to stay awake until 10 pm that night, which basically meant we would have been awake for about 28 hours.  Remember all those bags I told you about....
8 bags is a crap ton of stuff to lug around Heathrow airport, just saying.

We were able to get a cab, I'm not even going to tell you how much it was, let's just say it cost a pretty penny to get out to our place.  Once we were there and had the keys we felt like we had achieved a victory!  Mission get to England with all our stuff and move into a house was a success.  Or was it?

Have you ever moved to a completely empty house with only suitcases.  Even when all our stuff was in it, it's still felt pretty empty.  We were (and are) pretty much starting from scratch.  There was no phones, no internet, no dishes, no food, no toilet paper (and that's a big deal friends).  So we headed out to go shopping.  There are no big department stores here like Wal-Mart or Target, instead they have Argos, shopping at this store  is not the same experience as shopping in big box stores at home..  Instead of going in, browsing the selves and filling up a shopping cart, one goes to a counter and flips through a magazine till one finds the item(s) he/she wants.  Then one jots down the number, takes it to the till (cash register) where the order is paid for and submitted.  When all the items from the order are ready (they come from the back via conveyer belt) the call your number and away you go.  
Well, it seems all quick like unless you can't find what you are looking for.  We knew what we needed, we had a list and everything.  British English is not American English.  When we tried to look items up it took us forever to find what they are called over here.  Example: We needed a power stip.  Here they are call socket extension leads.  Blankets don't exist, but duvet covers do.  No Bathroom towels, but Bathroom sheets.  We still have yet to find an oven mit.  We needed a rolling shopping cart, they are called a trolly over here.  The list goes on and on!  But we made it home in little over 3 hours with most of what we needed.  We had such a large order that we backed up the store, Argos.  Everyone behind us was a bit grumpy from it.  We have since back back multiple times, grabbing items we discover we need.  I think the staff know us personally.

Moving is one of the number one stressors for a relationship.  And I will say, international moves are not for the faint of heart.  Porter and I have had to make a real effort to keep things fun, light-hearted and to not get overwhelmed and angry with one another.  We had a tipping point where I apparently  was a crazy lady and he was just wrong about everything, ah the joys of marriage when you are hangry (hungry/angry).  We went for ice cream after that one, and we both felt much better.  Having the World Cup going on has made for some good distraction too, as well as seeing friends from back home.  One of my dear friends and voice teachers, Mary Driggs and her daughter were here in London for a few days.  We had dinner with them, and it was so nice!  Just a little slice of home to help us along.

I'm sure you guys are like, living in England must be jolly old tea and crumpets, and I'm sure it will be in a few weeks, but I kind of feel like we are camping right now.  When our shipment from the U.S. arrives (it was delayed until August, grrr.) we will be in great shape.  But it has our bed and a bunch of furniture, kitchen, clothing and other miscellaneous items in it.  So for now we are sleeping on an air bed.  
The animals have had a hard time with the inflatable furniture.  We don't want them to pop it, so they aren't allowed on.  And they don't understand.  They think we are being mean because they are used to sleeping on everything back home, so it's hard.  They spend most of their days plotting ways to get onto the furniture with out us knowing.  Merlin succeeded at one point, and I just didn't have the heart to give him the boot.
Our living room has a coffee table and camp chairs in it.  
And yesterday we bought an inflatable sofa!  I'm in heaven.   Somewhere to sit besides a camp chair or the bed!!!  (We ordered a real sofa, but it is taking a few weeks to get here).  
Who thought inflatable furniture would be so comfy?!  But it definably beats wrestling with the dogs for their cushion on the floor.  On the bright side at least we got all our wardrobes and dressers from IKEA so that we are not living out of suitcases.
 And everyday we make progress.  Life is good. Life is an Adventure.  Life is tea and crumpets!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Poodles are Airborne!

By far one of the hardest and most expensive parts of this move was bringing the animals with us.  We were so lucky and blessed to be able to ship them overseas.  When we first began looking into this we were very concerned about a quarantine that we had heard so much about.  In the past, animals coming into the U.K. had to be put into a 3-6 month quarantine.  However, in 2012 that rule was changed.  As long as the animals had all the requirements completed they would not have to go through the quarantine process.  We had to get all the animals international microchips, new Rabies vaccinations, tapeworm medication, up to date on all other shots, and a health certificate that was authorized by the national vet.  This sounds like a lot, but it's actually much better than it used to be.  It took two trip to the vet clinic and a trip to the state vet office.

Step two was figure out a shipping method.  We thought about trying to ship the dogs ourselves, but that was looking like a nightmare, and not the safest way for the animals.  We decided on a pet transport service.  Since we were traveling in the hot summer months this was especially good for the pets because they were in climate controlled areas the entire time.  I had visions of them sitting on the tarmac for hours and than just made me ill.  Because we were flying out of SLC, it made transporting them especially difficult as their crates are huge and only really big airplanes take that type of crate.  These big planes don't come into SLC very often due to the size of our airport.  Starwood Pet Service was great about working with all of these issues.  They also gave us lots of options to cut the price down as far as we could.

Step Three: Crates.  The British have higher standards than the U.S. on pet transport crates, therefore we had to acquire ginormous traveling hotels for the animals.  The animals must be able to turn around fully without touching the sides of the crate and the ceiling must be 3-4 inches above their head.  We bought the biggest crate that PetSmart carries, usually meant for St. Bernards.   Me, Puck and my brother could fit inside one of these babies.  Now, could we have gotten a smaller crate?  Maybe, but if the British customs people don't think the crate meets requirements it's a $10,000 fine, plus the dog may not clear customs.  So, with 3 animals coming through, we decided not to take any chances.

The day before we left we dropped the dogs off at a boarding facility in Salt Lake near the airport.  Our flight was on Sunday, but the dogs didn't fly till Tuesday, because they had to wait for a big plane to fly them and their mobile hotels.  It was so hard to leave them at the facility, knowing that I wouldn't see my babies until we were all on the other side of the world.  And when we left Puck started barking.  It broke my heart.  (Yes, I am one of those people who are completely attached to their animals.)  At least the lady who was in charge of them on the SLC end was great.  She seemed to really know her stuff.

Before the animals caught their flight on Saturday, we were sent pics.  They all look so happy.  I'm pretty sure they had no idea what was about to happen.

"Oh, are we going on Holiday?"  Daisy's last words.

 Not a care in the world.....

Merlin is never happy in a carrier.  He sounds like he is headed toward his death every time we put him in one.  

We received word that they had landed safely in New York (JFK).  They boarded there and then flew to London.  The next pictures paint a much different picture.  When we got them we laughed and felt bad all at the same time.  They look like their whole world got turned upside down.  

Daisy is so sad in this picture.  

They are like: "What is happening to us?!"

But, this all has a very happy ending.  The Animals arrived, and they cleared customs!!!!!  All the work, and worry paid off.  Now we have our little furbies (fur-babies, thanks Nicki) safe and sound in London.  It's still weird to see them running in the park.  I never thought I would see my poodles frolicking in England, and yet, here they are.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Let Me Sum Up. Part 2

When we finished packing up and moving our house we landed at my Dad's house in Hooper.  We set up our bed, dressers and TV in my old room as sort of a crash pad.  We also brought some big furniture items up there for storage.  We pretty much exploded into the house, plus we had the pets which added a whole other level of craziness to this situation.  We each had 2 large suitcases, 1 small suitcase and a backpack full of clothes and bits and pieces that we would need for the next two months.  Everything else is either in storage on on a boat that is lost at sea, who even can guess where, I just sure hope I see my Dyson vacuum and VitaMix blender, and all my fab dresses from Endless Indulgence again, but for now we live out of these.

I made sure Porter set up the TV and Netflix before he went gallivanting the day after we moved, up to Park City for an awesome user conference his company was hosting (Digital Disruption) at Stein Erikson Lodge in Park City.  I actually went and joined him on his last night so that I could run him to the airport early the next morning.  His hotel room was crazy.  It was bigger than our house.  The bed was so large that I felt like I was sleeping alone, I could roll all the way over and still not touch Porter, who was on the other side.  It was a super fun room!

I forgot to add that in that crazy week of moving, I GRADUATED!!!!!

Master of Education with a Certificate in Adult Education

All my classmates were pretty excited too!

 I also need to give a huge shout out to this guy right here.  He was my rock during school.  I had some pretty ugly melt-downs during my thesis and other large assignments.  He was always there to motivate me, give me positive reassurance, and sometimes just hold me when crying was the only option.  He cheered me on, and helped me to believe with determination and and handwork I can achieve anything.  I love this guy some much.  I feel he should be awarded an honorary M.Ed for all the hours he spent with me.

After Porter returned from Amsterdam, we had another leg of our Farewell Tour: Hamilton, Montana to see my Mom and Grandparents.

We had a lovely stay, although it was so COLD!  We went from 90 degree weather in Utah to 60 degrees and rainy up there.  My grandparents actually started a fire to heat up the house.  I love Montana, it is so relaxing.  Porter and I were joking that it's the only vacation we ever take that we actually just sit down and relax.  Every other vacation, we want to get out and see and do things.  There is just something about their quiet little valley that is so peaceful.  My mom introduced me to my Grandparent's miniature donkeys.  I can't remember all their names, but the white one in front is Macy, she is the naughty one.  She does whatever she pleases.  She is very sweet however and loves a good rump rub from anyone who is willing.

We went to breakfast at the Coffee Cup Cafe.  These caramel and pecan smothered cinnamon rolls were to DIE for.  Seriously, it's worth a trip to Hamilton just to have one of these babies.  Although, you have to get there early or they run out.  We nabbed the last ones, bwhahahaha!

Later, my Grandpa took me for a ride in his trucks.  I had to inspect the fleet and make sure everything was shipshape.  He has such a fun little collection of vintage cars.  I just wish he hadn't of sold his sweet Corvette, then the collection would be complete.

I tried to get them all to do a "selfie" with me.  Not too bad for their first one.  I don't think my grandpa knew when we were taking the photo.

We drove home from Montana on a Monday morning.  The trip went fast, and it was hard to say goodbye.  I may or may not have cried for most of the drive.  But life keeps moving onward.  Porter's mom let us borrow her car for the road trip, and we loved it!  I think Porter and I are in agreement that upon returning to the states, we are buying a new car.  No more of this old, broken car stuff.  

When we got back to Hooper we had a few days to recover till the final wave of the Farewell Tour hit. My Aunt and Uncle and their kids were staying in Hooper at my Dad's as well.  He had a full house!  It was so nice to spend time with them and catch up.  They live in San Francisco so we don't see them much.  The kids wanted to go fishing so Kit and Rachel took us down to the bird refuge for a little bit of fun.  This is a carp that Rachel hooked.

Chloe loved fishing!

Kit and I had a rough time reeling in these Perch, they really made us work!  Just kidding.  These silly little guys kept jumping on our line.  We were joking: In this family we either go big or go home, and in this case we should probably just go home.

Later, Porter taught Chloe and Gavin the art of killing Dragons on Skyrim.  They loved it.

Puck was determined to get some loves from Nancy, whether she liked it or not.

We also had a Bon Voyage Party for Family.  We had BBQ and yummy potluck, played volleyball and kickball, and basically had on last big hurrah before heading out.  It was nice to spend that time with good people. 

 And finally, Porter said goodbye to his office.  His last day was bitter sweet as he is so excited for his new role at HireVue and yet sad to leave what he has known and loved for the past 4 years.  He has some many great friends there, I know he will miss them a lot  and I'm sure they will miss him equally.

Onward HO!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Let Me Sum UP. Part 1

In order to blog about current events I need to catch up.  Currently we are living in London and made the big move over the pond.  The past 6 weeks have been the craziest of my life.  Let me 'splain

Before moving to London we decided we needed to embark on a farewell tour to see all our relatives before our few years abroad.  We had been making time to see our family in Utah, however most of my family live out of state.  We booked some travel to go to Oregon/Washington area to spend some time with those folks.  Can I just say that the NorthWest is just incredible!  I love how lush and green it always is.  I keep telling Porter that we could move there.  I mean, I guess I could deal with living in such a gorgeous place, I'd make it work.  This is a picture of me, my dad, my uncle and my Grandpa Fair.

How could we go to Oregon and not stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory?!  Porter loves the ice cream there, but I go for the squeaky cheese and the fudge.  My grandparents live 15 minutes from this place, which is wonderful and dangerous all at the same time.

We headed up to Boring, Oregon, which despite it's name, is not boring at all.  My cousin, Jordan, does jumping lessons there.  We were able to watch her do her thing and jump!  She is pretty great and wins all sorts of ribbons for her horse jumping.

Voodoo Donuts is a must every time we go to Portland.  I'm not really a huge donut fan, but jeez these guys are good.  It was my dad's maiden voyage to Voodoo and what did he want?  Just plain old fashioned.  He just said he likes what he likes.  Who am I to play God of the donuts and tell him what donut to get?  But when I go, I get a peach fritter because I can't find them any where else.

The Portland LDS Temple

Okay, switching gears.  We had a great time in Oregon, we flew home on Sunday evening then flew out on Monday evening to London for our final house hunting trip.  Our flight was delayed out of SLC by an hour and a half (our layover was an hour and forty-five minutes).  We were literally sprinting through the airport to make our connection.  But we made it, thankfully!  This was the trip that we secured our house on.  We also had a little down time on this trip because of how quickly we picked a house.

My friend Kim and her husband Matt were in London so we met up with them for and evening stroll in Hyde Park.  We saw swans and found the Peter Pan statue from "Hook."

We saw the Marble Arch.

And we went to the British Museum, twice!

Plus, we had the best tub EVER in our hotel room.  I had a brief love affair and took bubble baths every single night.

Sadly, all the fun and games came to an end.  We flew home the next Sunday and began packing.  We were up at 6 am every day and didn't go to sleep till midnight.  We did this for 6 days straight in order to get our house packed, moved, fixed and cleaned in time for our renters to move in on June 1st.
This pic is of the the day the international shippers came to collect our things.  I sure hope we see all these boxes again soon!

We had so much help from family and friends.  We really could not have done what we did in the time we had without them.  They are all rockstars and I am so blessed to have such amazing, generous people in my life.  Here is Porter's mom, Bonnie helping us clean and Daisy is keeping her company.

So we saw family, traveled to the other side of the globe, secured a house, did some sight seeing and moved out of our home all in about a 2 week time span.  It was exhausting and I am so happy it's (the whole moving part) is over.