England, You’re Beautiful!

England is not very big. Compared to a US state, England is only 200 sq miles bigger than Alabama. The UK isn’t a whole bigger either. Comparing it to a couple US states, the UK is in between Wyoming and Oregon. Despite the size, a three hours drive in the US can equal to an eight hours drive here in the UK for a few different reasons. One, depending on where you go, you can hit traffic. Traffic on the motorway (interstate) or the A roads (highways, although some A roads are two lanes). In the US, once you hit the interstate you can pretty much set your car on cruise control and just go until you’re out of gas, need to pee or have to go around a big city. The motorways don’t go everywhere. There’s a long one between London and up to Edinburgh for example but for other destinations, it’s a combo of different types of roads. This means you have a chance to enter villages/towns and also many many roundabouts. Or, you take the smaller roads, the B roads or a combo of As and Bs, and you keep hitting cute village/towns or historical sites along your route and just want to stop and have a walk around.

When we were in Mississippi last summer, I drove the girls to Disney World. It was a 12hrs drive and we did it in two days. Yes it was a bit dull at times but the drive was a breeze. Our next trip is to Scotland. The border is about size hours away but we’re breaking the trip in two days. If we had all the time (and money) in the world, we’d probably do this drive in two weeks. Or even a month’s time. There are just too many places I want to drag the family to between here and Scotland. Yes, yes, I know I can go another time, but we’ll already be up there ;)

Anyhow, our house to M’s gymnastics competition is about 180 miles away. A good three hours drive. On our way there, we just stopped for a coffee/snack stop. But on our way back, we made a few stops and drove on roads which looked like it could only fit one car but it’s a two lane road. The drive back took us almost eight hours and it was beautiful!

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We saw Bibury. Look at this house built in the late 1300s. Can we all go ahhhhhh, now? See the stone fence? You can see that alongside many of the roads we drove on. They’re carefully cut and stacked on top of each other and many have been there for hundreds of years!

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Here’s a peek of Arlington Row. Built in 1380 as a wool store and then converted into weaver’s cottages in the 17th century. Arlington Row is owned by the National Trust (which we are happy to be members of). There is no fee to see these homes but for £84/year we have access to hundreds of sites owned and maintained by NT that are scattered all around the UK.

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There were lots of ducks when we went and they all eagerly quacked and swam for food from the visitors (which there were loads of, buses of them).

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To the left is a trout farm and that building is the Swan hotel and pub/restaurants. That’s where we had lunch Sunday. The food was good but not one we went ga ga about.

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Arlington Row. It is now a residential dwelling and again, I wish I could just look inside one of them!

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Walking towards the main road and look, I spot a handsome man’s back!

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And him from the front, or side. Stalker me ;)

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This is more less what many of the villages that we drove by looked like. Gorgeous, isn’t it? It’s why I love driving small roads here when I have the time. Every day I drive the girls to and from school and I love each drive! I know, weird! But I do. I love driving away from the street next to ours, where all the old homes are, and then the small road that goes into the village of the girls’ school, our old village we moved from. I love seeing the pub in the corner and the old houses that are there. In the spring the pink flowers would drop on us. In the summer is great to feel the warm breeze. In the fall I LOVE watching the leaves change colours. And in the winter, I love seeing the white branches and fields.

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It’s been a really mild fall. I think it’s just started to cool down the last couple of days. And the leaves haven’t completely changed colours. But it’s still a lovely fall day!

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Love them!

Until next time!!

 

The Frugal Traveler

It’s been months and since my last post, we’ve traveled a bit more. A few weeks ago I bumped into a friend and after a bit of catching up, my friend was a bit amazed at how many places we’ve been and plan on going soon. I suppose, since I stay home, it seems like we’re spending more than hubby’s making, but we’re not.

Before we moved to England, the husband and I decided that traveling Europe will be one important thing that we do while we’re overseas. It’s something we both love to do and being here, the cost will be significantly cheaper (e.g. there’s a flight to Dublin, Ireland, for £40/pp round trip this Thanksgiving weekend). So every year I budget for at least two big trips (one whole week kind of trip) and a few little ones (usually in the island or to a nearby city across the channel).

I am very good at budgeting. If I get a lot of notice I can plan a week trip for around $1,000. I know on two of our trips we stayed at a cottage (a one story house) for £250/week. That’s about $400. Since we had a kitchen, I did a lot of cooking. We did breakfast everyday, ate out for lunches and I think one or two restaurants for dinner. We had a great time and went to a lot of places (which many were free since we have a membership to those sites).

On a day-to-day basis we’re pretty frugal and I am always budgeting. I can budget using a spreadsheet but I also like the You Need a Budget software/app. If you’re struggling to pay bills or have a lot of debts to pay off, YNAB is a fab app to help you figure out how much you can pay each month without eating ramen noodles everyday. Or, if you’re like me, and just want an app to budget and monitor spending, I think you’ll love YNAB. We don’t buy a lot of toys or clothes. We buy whatever clothes we need and I often shop second hand. The second hand shopping I do for two reasons, it’s cheaper and we’re reusing. If I have to buy new, I always buy on sale or from a discounted shop online, e.g. 6pm.com for shoes. I meal plan every week and have completely removed our Friday/weekend takeaways. On average, we spend around $100/week on food.

The little bit we save we put into our travel pot and this is how we’re able to travel more than a couple times a year. And if you’re still wondering whether or not we save, we do! We always max out our IRAs and have savings for us and the girls. I guess it helps that we have zero debt. I only use the credit card to maintain our credit score and we only have one nice car — and cars here are cheap compare to the US!

Last weekend was our latest frugal travel. We took advantage of M’s overnight competition at the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds and Yorkshire are two of my favorite areas to visit. There are so many pretty villages with an abundant amount of charm and teahouses. On this trip, we stayed at a military lodging for a whooping £10.25/night. This gave us a double wide, linen and a kitchen. Quite basic but we weren’t in there much and the lodge was about 20 minutes from M’s competition, Bath, and Castle Combe. After competition (she came 12th out of 83 girls) we wasted no time and off we went!

Of the handful of villages that we stopped at, one of my favorite was Castle Combe. Hundreds of years ago there used to be a castle but now, above the castle ruins is this beautiful village. Besides the few tourists that were there, the village was so peaceful and quaint. While there, a craft market was held, and lots of locals came in to look and to say hello to one another. It was nice to see while enjoying our 60p (about $1, tea and biscuit).

DSC_3585 Before we left the hotel I didn’t really get a chance to read up on the history of this village. I was hoping to grab some literature whilst in the village but there was none. My phone also had zero service and so all we could do was look around until later on down the road when my phone received 3G service again. I didn’t know until later that there’s a very old clock inside the church. My friend said it’s one of the oldest clocks that still works. Bummer! If I knew, I’d have waited for the church service to end and have a peek. What I did know was that a few movies have been filmed here. The latest being War Horse.

DSC_3590 The bridge, shown above, was built during Roman times. Isn’t it amazing that it’s still being used?

DSC_3591  And I just love the rooftops!

DSC_3594 Beautiful!! I can move here any day!

DSC_3597 Once upon a time that house was a post office. Now it’s a home. I wish I could knock on each door and ask if we can take a look but ya know, that’s just rude :)

DSC_3599-copy And of course, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of baby girl.

castle_combe And M. Even though she didn’t look to happy. I think in her head she was thinking, “Oh no, where will this photo end up in? Facebook, the blog, a scrapbook page?” Ha!

DSC_3580-copy Last but not least, traveling, and photography, is a time to be a family. Even if you’re not too fond of each other at the moment.

Jovie: I want to take a picture with Emma
Emma: I don’t want to take a picture with Jovie. She’s always silly.
Jovie: I am NOT silly!!
Emma: Yes you are!
Jovie: Mommmyyyyyyy, Emma’s mean to me!! I want a photo with Emma (tears starting to come out)

*a bit of sidewalk drama and me butting in*

Me: Emma, just take a photo with Jovie. One photo. Come, we drove all the way here for your gym competition, you can at least take one photo (guilt tripping, ha ha!!)
Emma: Ok (huge sigh and pout)
Jovie: Yay!! (somehow tears disappeared)

*Jovie grabbing Emma’s hand, Emma refusing Jovie’s hand, a bit of bickering and ready*

Me: Emma, can you look a bit happy?
Emma: No!
Me: Ok, get ready! (snap)
Emma: See, she’s always silly!
Me: *shrug*

Three Months Later…

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Oh my, it’s been three months since I last posted!! It’s so odd to look at my blog and I could still see the post from last January!! Coming from somebody who used to blog every day or at least a few times a week, this is just a bit odd.

Truth is, I’ve lost interest in papercrafting. My PL has only two pages and I think I can count with my two hands how many cards I’ve made this year. Don’t forget the zero scrapbook page! Yesterday I heard the news that 2Peas is closing and I think sometimes, one loses interest or just want to move on to something else.

I really wanted to get rid of all my craft good a week or so ago but hubby said to not do anything drastic. I still like to make things, and lately I’ve been really into making fabric goodies, but just not as much as I used to. I honestly think I can downsize and I won’t miss what I parted with as much. There are just so many other more interesting things out there that has taken up a lot of my time and energy.

Then this blog… I think the reason why I haven’t updated it is because I feel like I have to post something crafty or the 500-600 some people who has subscribed would be disappointed. BUT, I realized that it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want. If I lose some or even all, I’d be completely fine. Just like in real life, I really don’t give a crap if I am popular or not {*SMILES*}

SO, to all you subscribers out there, this may be a good time to clean up your feed because from this day on, I am going to just write about whatever. Maybe here and there, when the mojo and motivation comes, I’ll post a craft project but as of right now, I just want to write about our day-to-day stuff, travels, my crappy sewing/fabric project, recipes, money saving tips, tech/photography tips, etc. Random!

Hopefully this is what I need to spark my writing fire inside me and if not, maybe it’s time to say goodbye to this phase of my life too…

Photo note: Valletta - Malta, April 2014

 

This entry was posted in General.

Finding Places Using Google Map

There are lots of wonderful apps that Google has to offer and one of my favorite, next to Google Search, is Google Map.

I love maps. With a map you can go from one place to another. It doesn’t matter if it’s a paper or electronic map, maps get you there! Two big features of Google Map that I love is its ability to find establishments in the area I am interested in. So if I am in downtown Seattle and I need a hotel, I can type in “hotel” onto Google Map and it’ll give me a list of them. Ditto if I ask for “scrapbook store” and it’ll fill the map with choices (or so I hope).

While Google search is fabulous and I love searching for places to stay and eat on TripAdvisor, I always feel the need to use Google Map to do more digging JUST in case there’s a place I miss. Some smaller B&Bs for example do not have their business listed due to cost or maybe they don’t want a whole lot of people booking. I know the later is odd but I found a place just late last year where the host didn’t want to be too busy with new visitors. She already has a great list of regulars and even though you cannot Google Search the B&B by town/area, i.e. B&B in/near Harrypotterville, it does show on Google Map and it also shows reviews on TripAdvisor since the B&B does have a website. Clever lady!

Ok, so I am a bit OCD this way, but that’s me.

I also love to Google Walk the area that I will be passing or going to. Especially when I am traveling alone or with the girls. I feel safer this way.

I know it’s been years since I created my last video so bare with me but I do hope you find what I have here useful for your next travel or searching in general.

 

Until next time!!!

This entry was posted in Travel.

A Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple Cupcake

 

Yesterday I had a Shirley Temple cupcake in memories of one of my favorite little actress. She was so cute and talented who grew up to be a wonderful role model. May you rest in peace, Mrs. Black! xx