Category Archives: Food

Expat Life: Thanksgiving


This year we celebrated our first American Thanksgiving, a proper feast with other people for the first time in three years.  As Thanksgiving lands on my birthday every 5,6, or 11 years I was happy to do without it our first year in England.  However, as an ex-pat sometimes there are cultural traditions from ‘home’ that you forget you really do miss. It was not until we started preparing for this year’s feast that I found the memories of past Thanksgivings all coming back. I have celebrated so many Thanksgivings in Europe growing up in England, Germany, and Italy and this years was another one for the memory book. A big thank you to my amazing friends and hosts for this wonderful feast!

We celebrated with my American expat friend who is married to an English guy, their kids, and two other English families. It was a really fun experience.  We started off with mulled cider and an array of canapes, had our Thanksgiving dinner, played a Thanksgiving themed quiz, shared what we were thankful for on the back of leaves, and finished with desserts.  The kids even put together a ‘haunted house’ for us to explore during our evening together.  I think the best part was the conversation and experiencing the cultural differences.  For example one of the dishes was a jello salad with cherry cola, creme cheese, pineapples, bing cherries, and walnuts. I had never  had it before but found it very delicious. The whole ‘salad’ description was a bit off putting to the English crowd, as well as it being served with the rest of the main courses and side dishes when it was really a ‘pudding’ (which is the english word for ‘dessert’). This really reminded me about getting teased in the US for loving to eat ‘beans on toast’ which is a cultural norm food here in the UK. There was also talk about beer as the hosts managed to find Coors Light beer. While I normally would not drink this in the states, it seemed only fitting for an ex-pat Thanksgiving in England.

We split up all the dishes between the families and everyone brought their part to the Thanksgiving dinner.  I brought my apple pie made with coconut oil which you can find the recipe for on yesterday’s post.






P O S T S   BY   K A T E

M A K E   F R I E N D S   &   F O L L O W   K A T E!


*photography belongs to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 

The Lock Inn Cafe – Bradford on Avon


ACR |Travel Tip:  Sometimes you do not have to travel far to feel like you are getting away.  Even ‘playing tourist’ in your own backyard can be a fun way to see the world with eyes renewed. While you are dreaming up your next vacation, fuel your wanderlust by sharing the close destinations near to where you live!

This week for Travel Tuesday I wanted to share a nearby town to Bath, called Bradford on Avon.  It is a lovely place to visit if you are coming to Bath for a visit and quite a number of great places to see within the town.  I am looking forward to sharing my favourite spots in Bradford on Avon with you and I begin with a walk down to the canal.  You can walk, ride bikes, or even float down the canal in a canoe or kayak.  This is something my family took adavantage of along the canals near our home outside of Bath this past summer.  You never know what you might find or who you will run into when visiting the canals. Though I secretly hope to run into Johnny Depp’s character from Chocolat.

We were surprised upon finding one of the cutest cafes along the canal in Bradford on Avon and stopped in one evening just for desserts.  At the Lock Inn Cafe you have a vast array of choices of where you can choose to sit and eat.  Perhaps the picnic tables out front or nestled inside the pub.  There are also many great places to choose from outside that can either be great for soaking up the rays of sun, or when you need a little shelter from the rain and cold.  What could be more romantic than sitting in the cafe’s own canal boat for a dinner for two?  My boys chose one of the cute cabins that holds one table each and we were glad to find that heating was also provided to keep us all toasty.

We rested our feet and enjoyed a pot of tea as you do when you are living in England.  We each chose a different dessert and then we shared them in twos.  Despite the cold the boys opted for ice cream and my husband and I chose a crumble and spotted dick both covered in warm sweet custard. While the desserts were simply lovely, the Lock Inn Cafe has a wonderful array of foods for any time of the day. Which means we will just have to go back to the canal to try out some of their other menu favourites when we are next in Bradford on Avon.

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P O S T S  B Y  C R Y S T A L
M A K E   F R I E N D S   &   F O L L O W   C R Y S T A L !
Share your Travel stories and wanderlust addictions.
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* Photography by Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved |

The Cosy Club in Bath, England

 This monday my husband had a vacation day off from work and so we had a rare day date while the boys were both at school.  Since we needed to go into town to run some errands we look forward to going somewhere nice for lunch.  We have both come here once before with other friends and this was our first time here together. I was looking forward to tea and cake, but we got swayed by the delicious looking options on the lunch menu.  Just another excuse to return for a heavenly slice of victoria sponge cake.  My favourite thing about being at the Cosy Club is the interior design and atmosphere inside.  Like the mix of grey concrete ceilings with sparkly chandeliers, the collage of art and mirrors on the walls,  the mix of primary colour choices with damask wall textures. It is a great place to stop in after a busy day of errands, shopping, or sightseeing in the heart of Bath. 

“Think gents club meets village hall meets cricket pavilion. 
Quirky, eccentric and playful the Cosy Club 
offers casual dining, drinking and lounging.”
Unit R4, Southgate Shopping Centre, 
Southgate St, Bath BA1 1AP
01225 464161
Q: What is your favourite thing to order when you go to a cafe?
* Photography by Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 

The War on Girls: Battle of Body Image

These images a part of my series ‘The Secret Lies of Men & Women’ | Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved
I grew up on magazines.  In fifth grade in Italy I got my first issue of Teen magazine. In seventh grade after my move  to Germany I found out about teeny-bopper magazines like Teen Beat and BB.  For several months my walls were covered in two by four posters of Devon Sawa, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Then in 9th grade after moving back to Italy my favourite magazines grew extensively to include anything talking about fashion, beauty, or celebrities. I was swayed at the checkout aisle in stores by the attractive covers of pretty models with perfect hair and makeup and svelte bodies in beautiful clothes. I think it is important for this post to state that I did not grow up in a house with six foot tall super skinny models who looked perfect 24/7.  I instead invited them into my house by way of monthly magazine subscriptions. It was not my mother who I judged what I should look like as I became an adult but the unattainable idea of perfection from people I had never met. I modeled my version of perfection from the girls in my magazines.  
“I used to cut out magazines ads that I liked and tape them together to make strips of wallpaper in which I covered a wall of my bedroom in our rented house.  My bedroom and closet doors were a collage of magazine cut outs creating a visual piece of art.  Anything I saw that appealed to my eyes or represented what I was feeling would be meticulously cut out.  It was a creative outlet in a tangible experience.”
As a teenager I set this bar that I had to be pretty.  People are attracted to pretty shiny things and I was already looking at myself in that regard.  My goal was to be beautiful and sometimes my version of beautiful was on the verge of sexy. To be honest I did not fully understand what sexy meant. Nor did I really understand the fact that men and women’s brains work differently when it comes to how we look at the opposite sex. I never quite comprehended why my more conservative friend would tell me to pull my shirt up when my neckline started to plunge too low. What did it matter? The girls I saw on television wore the same clothes and no one was telling them they were immodest.  It was the same clothes I saw in my mail order catalogs.  Growing up in Europe the girls on the billboards wore far less clothing and I was living in a world that was more sexualized and open to the human form.

“I cannot look at my teen self, now in my thirties, and judge her because I have forgotten what it means to be sixteen.  Even the girl I was at twenty one has changed from the woman I have become.  I look at myself reflectively.”

I never felt I was able to achieve that status of perfect as a teenager.  I never felt thin enough, tall enough, fit enough, or pretty enough.  My hair was not long enough or blonde enough.  I had to wear contacts or glasses to see and even had my rite of passage of wearing braces in my younger teen years.  In University I found I was able to relax a bit more.  I met my husband my freshman year and we soon became inseparable.  I do not remember focusing so much on my body during those first two years.  I am not sure if it is because I went to a very conservative school with strict rules of modesty or because of the security I found in my college boyfriend.   Perhaps it was because I hung out more with him than I did with other females. So I never had to compare myself to girls to feel I was competing in  competition of perfection.  While my friends went to the tanning booth, I felt secure in my skin.  If at least for a while. 
After my first child was born, my body issues returned and continued unnoticed through till after my second son was born.  As I was now wanting to get my figure back a what I liked to call a dysmorphia resurfaced and this time with an eating disorder I could not ignore.  It festered and grew with an obsession I had of looking at my ideal body type online.  Photos of celebrities who were just skinny enough or too skinny.  Photos of real girls, like me, who were working towards attaining their ideal body type.  I found my online friends to be my biggest support network.  Girls who could respond to me with empathy as we were all part of the same club.  Where like fight club, no one talks about the eating disorders in real life, but hides behinds screen names online.  There was this ‘diet’ (the name I have decided would be best to omit) where every day for a certain number of days would have a certain calorie count.  From all over the world we would encourage each other online in this competition to keep to the calorie count restriction. I won one month and my online friend sent me a package of shirataki noodles that contain 0 calories. 

Self Portrait series | Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 
There was a time in my early twenties where I could tell you the exact calorie count of almost every food item in our kitchen. A talent I was able to achieve by constantly looking up an item of food by its quantity and how many calories that held.  As I would recall the same foods over and over again, I could put together combinations in my head quickly.   To add up which items I could eat that would stay under 100 calories as if I was a eating mathematician.  While I was not hiding my new obsession from my parents, I was hiding it from my family of my husband and kids.  If I knew my husband would be cooking and would make sure I ate, I would starve myself until then and then say I was full before finishing my meal. I may have my days were I slipped and ‘overate’ in a matter of minutes as I scarfed down food. I would then punish myself with days of fasting to get back on track. I do not want to say that fasting is not healthy because I believe the opposite.  However, the way I was doing it and at this point of my life was not healthy. This was the time of my life where I was a slave to my scale.  I would stand in my shower and scrub my skin raw in the attempts to feel clean and think that it would help me weigh less.  The days the scale went down I rejoiced and the days the scale stayed the same or got higher in number I would feel the weight of the world crashing down on me.  I wanted to be perfect like the girls I saw online. How else could my husband love me if I did not look like the best me that I could be?
It was my boss at the salon that drew my attention to how I was letting my body shrink away unnaturally.  Who helped me get into doing crossfit and yoga with my coworkers to get onto the path of finding my own happiness in life.  My weight since then has done the yoyo up and down, give or take fifteen pounds.  Depending on how much exercise and what kind of food I eat.  I have gotten near to how small I was before but this time weighing significantly more because I was eating and doing weight training to build muscle.  I am still obsessed with food but this time in eating organic, buying from local farms, and not feeding my children processed food.  If you would like to know more about what kind of a Paleo diet we model our eating style after look up The Bullet Proof Diet.  It is not exactly Paleo but based off of of science. 
My story is not over and I will still obsess over my body and how it looks.  I struggle with wanting to be perfect so I take one day at a time.  I do not weigh myself because muscle weighs more than fat and I judge my body by how well my clothes fit.  I try to stick to a  paleo diet of food that is mainly protein and vegetables and keep away from anything processed, with sugars, or carbohydrates.  I have nicknamed my diet as a ‘flexiterian’ because I allow a 85% rate of keeping on track and 15% to cheat foods.  I enjoy food and flavours and let myself fully experience passion of eating when my husband who loves to cook makes us meals.  I do not want to trade my body fat for less of it but in exchange for more muscle tone.  To be fit skinny and strong and not squishy skinny and unhappy because I am slowly starving myself over time.  I try not to fixate on perfect models and celebrities but to look at friends who have built tight bodies of strong muscle tone and and rejoice in the fact that there is another version of beautiful that is healthier than before. I love to look up fitness images that will restructure how my mind looks at beauty and strength and motivates me in my fitness journey.  You can follow along with my Fitspo Board – Pinterest

“I know I am not alone in this war on girls and the battle of body image.  I am just thankful that I now eat to live. Not live to eat…or to eat less and have my whole day devoted to that goal. To value food and the type of food I eat as fuel for my body to do what I love to do.”

Meet Elspeth
For anyone who is struggling with body image I wanted to introduce you to one of my friends I met while we were both working in the salon in Hawaii.  Her name is Elspeth and she is a personal trainer and a fitness ambassador.  I met her when we were both working at the same salon in Hawaii.  She has been an influential person in directing me towards a healthier way of looking at body image.  She recently posted a before photo for the first time.  

Her caption to this was:
“I’ve never posted this ‘before’ picture, but I hope it inspires someone! The before was taken at a time where I was doing at least 7 plus hours a week of cardio, no weights, and barely eating. I weighed about 90lbs & was completely unhappy with my body and my self esteem was low. The second picture is from this month- doing roughly 90 min of cardio a week, strength training 4-5 days, and eating 5-6 small meals a day. I weigh now about 103-105 lbs and am so grateful for my journey. Not only has fitness changed my body, but its changed my whole life! Like so many people I struggled with body image issues and terrible eating habits. (And that’s not to say that I don’t have a bad day here and there-I’m human! But overall, Fitness has empowered me and has been a driving force for me to live a healthy, happy life. *Never set limitations on yourself!” – Elspeth 

I think this is a great testament to how we should approach not only body image but our whole concept of fitness and achieving your goals.  I end this by giving you three women who have influenced my view on food and fitness and hope that if you feel you have an unhealthy view of yourself and are fighting the battle of body image you will find these women as positive role models.

*Photography belong to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved |
** The model in the title image has been photoshopped towards fitting the ‘anorexic’ role in the conceptual photographic piece for the series ‘Secret Lies of Men & Women’ by Bonnie Rose Photography. 

Buying Local & Riverford

Today’s prompt for Blogtember states, “Share links to your favorite online shops, preferably with a few photos of your favorite items in each shop.”  
Do not get me wrong, I love to shop.  Especially if it means I am shopping without the kids and with either my husband or friends.  I could spend hours just browsing the store, whether I buy anything or not.  However in our life as expats we are not doing all that much shopping like we used to do when we lived stateside.  As a mum I tend to feel guilty if I buy something for myself and not for my kids first.  I live in a house where someone is constantly outgrowing something or needs something for school.  With all the growing my sons do they equally do a lot of eating.  So when it comes to conversations about shopping in my house it usually has to do with food.
Living in England has made food shopping so much more enjoyable.  When we lived in Brighton we used to go to the grocery store once or twice a week to just pick up a few items that we would need for the next few days.  Whatever we bought we had to walk home with and so it made it really easy to stick to a shopping list.  Since moving to Bath we have discovered the joys of ordering groceries online and having it delivered. Genius idea! It is as simple as going on the computer or smart phone to make up your shopping list, pay, and then schedule the delivery date. 
We have recently stopped ordering our groceries from the chain stores and started ordering from local farms. We have tried out two different places and have decided we like to order different things from both places to fit our family’s needs and budget. It is organic from our local farms…what could be better?  I can even tell the quality difference in the meat from what we have gotten before.  I was a eating a mostly vegetarian diet in the US because I did not really care for meat, but here it just tastes so much better.  Plus the fact that we can get this quality food in our budget makes me want to do a song and dance. 
I had heard about Riverford from my fellow expat friend and had been wanting to try it for sometime.  I regret not ordering from there sooner.  Their service is amazing and when they delivered for the first time I got to meet both our driver and our local Riverford Vegman for Somerset. I love that the meat comes packaged nicely, lined in sheep’s wool with ice packs. Plus they ask for the packaging back so that it can be reused.  With your order comes a nice letter and recipe booklets for the food of that season.  It is like christmas morning opening up our veg box to see what is inside. It has made our cooking even that more interesting as we work around what comes in our delivery.
We found Somerset Local Food Direct online when searching for places that delivered raw milk.  If you have never had the very first sip from a newly opened jug of raw milk, you are definitely missing out on a taste of heaven.  We get two at a time, freezing one and putting the other in the fridge.  We have tried a few different other things from them as well, like venison burgers and were very pleased indeed!  We have decided to definitely continue ordering our milk and our bacon from Somerset Local Food Direct.  The bacon is the best I we have gotten from any grocery store, butcher, or online store.  It is thick and I actually find the fat edible and do not cut it off for being rubbery. Our delivery man is the sweetest and so friendly.  I was sad about not having my milk delivered like when I was a kid, so having my ‘milk man’ back has been a highlight for my expat life. 
If we were to go to the grocery store we would need to either walk thirty minutes or take the bus and pay per person that was going to the store with us. We then would have to fight through the crowd, deal with whatever mood our kids are in (because little boys love shopping for food), try to not put in anything that we did not initially come to the store for, and stay in budget. After waiting in the queue and paying we would then have to carry all our bags home.  Instead we spend about fifteen minutes online ordering the food to have it delivered.  I honestly hope we never live somewhere that I do not have this option.  It has made life so much easier.  I would not want to go back. 
We like to use Riverford and Somerset Local Food Direct.  
Q: Do you buy local? Where are your favourite places to do food shopping where you live?

*photographs  belong to Bonnie Rose of Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All Rights Reserved | 

Expat to Expat Q&A: The Basics of Day to Day

It is time for the next month’s installment of Expat to Expat: Q&A with Belinda and Bailie.
Every month they put together a series of questions for expats to answer from around the world.
Have a question? Make sure to contact them with your ideas for next month! 

1. What is your favorite food store in your city and why?
I like both Sainsburys and Morrisons. We get our groceries delivered to the house from Sainsburys. Food shopping has never been easier now that my husband can order from his phone and it gets delivered straight to our door. 

2. For your answer to number 1 is it ok to buy the store brand items or do you pay extra for a name brand? 

Yes the store brand items are great from both stores. Morrisons has a great pesto that has natural ingredients in comparison to the name brand and costs way less. 
3. What do you think is the best way to get about your city? i.e. bus, bike, car, etc
We do not have a car and so we get around most by walking. When needed we take the bus, unless its the four of us and then we will take a taxi since it is cheaper. My husband will ride his bicycle occasionally to and from work. I think all forms of transportation work well in Bath, England however there is limited parking if you are driving by car.

4. Which store do you turn to for basics like toilet paper or cleaning supplies?
Again this would be Sainsburys since we get all our food and basic supplies delivered from their store in town. When we run out of something that we need urgently I will pop down to the convenience store on our high street.

5. Where do you think is the best place in your city to get a cup of coffee (or beverage you prefer) and catch up with friends? 

 There are so many great places in Bath and the surrounding towns for tea or coffee with friends. I recently took my mum to the Regency Tea Room at the Jane Austen Centre. I recommend trying the Jane Austen blend if you come to Bath to visit.

6. What was your “eureka, I’m practically a native” moment?
I was born in Oxford and I lived in Norfolk later on for a few years as a young girl. When we moved back to England as expats in 2011 it had been about seventeen years since I had last stepped foot in the UK. So despite the fact that I am a dual citizen I moved here not knowing all what to expect our life to be like living here. I could not explain fully how wonderful it was for me to go eat out and see beans on toast on the menu. This has been one of my comfort foods all my life, and I used to be questioned strangely or made fun of by americans when I was living in the US. Then I realized everywhere that sold jacket potatoes (baked potatoes) also offered them with beans on top. I thought that was a ‘bonnie-ism’ and realized that it was just part of my culture from growing up in England. That was the moment I realized I was finally ‘at home’. For a highly nomadic person as myself, a third culture kid, who often wonders where ‘home’ would be that was a huge Eureka moment. 

7. Does your real accent get in the way?
Yes it can sometimes. I think about it a lot when I am out of the house. I am aware of how the American accent stands out and I will not speak out about bad service because of my accent. Now a days I use a lot of the english Vocabulary or pronounce things they way they are spoken here without having to think about it first. Which really helps out though I still have a strong american accent. It just takes time to assimilate to the language and accent. The store I mentioned above, Sainsbury’s, you pronounce it without ‘u’ so that it sounds like Sainsbrys. I realized upon talking with a fellow expat friend that people here will not correct you if you say it wrong. I had been saying that store name wrong for a year and a half. So perhaps my accent does not get in the way that much. However when meeting new people, they will get fixated on my accent and want to know an exact place my accent is from which has on easy answer if an answer at all. So I do wish that one day I will have such a soften accent that I can talk to people without it being an issue.

I am happy to introduce you today to my featured sponsor 
for the month of August, Gillian from Gladley.  
She is also an expat, but a Brit living in the USA.
Recommended Posts by Gillian:
Be Friends with Gillian: Bloglovin’ | Twitter | Instagram

*photographs original to A Compass Rose blog