Expat Thanksgiving: how to make pie from pumpkins

PumpkinPie 1

There are certain laments you hear amongst American expat communities the world over. “I miss peanut butter!” “Why is there no good Mexican food here?” “Where can I find canned pumpkin?” After several years out of the country, most of us learn to adapt to these grueling hardships one way or another. There are expats who lug giant suitcases full of ranch dressing and jello back from every visit to the US. There are those who just fill the peanut-butter-cup-shaped hole in their lives with exotic local sweets (Cadbury Egg, anyone?). And then there are those of us who use such deprivation as an excuse to expand our skill sets. Which is why I know how to make pumpkin pies without using canned pumpkin. Continue reading

Life in Edinburgh: jumping from summer to fall

Edinburgh Festival Fireworks

The fireworks signifying the end of the Edinburgh International Festival (as seen from our new kitchen window).

August in Edinburgh was a whirlwind of activity: long days filled with festivals, tourists, and fireworks. And then September comes, and the sunsets are suddenly much earlier than they have been, and there’s a tiny, delicate whiff of fall in the air. But that’s not all that is different.

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Expat life: How to buy a home in Scotland*

SOLD(*not really a how-to guide of any sort)

The craziest thing just happened: we became the owners of our very own little piece of Edinburgh. It’s an old piece of an old building, tucked away in a corner of the Edinburgh New Town UNESCO World Heritage Site. It combines the wear and tear of an almost-200-year-old structure with the overlaid decor aesthetics of a 1970s-era DIYer, and it’s ours, all ours.   Continue reading

How to watch live American TV abroad

Given that there’s a big American TV event coming up, now seems as good a time as any to share this fun little morsel. Last Thanksgiving Julie was hoping to watch the Macy’s parade, but we were surprised at how difficult it was to find it live online. I did some poking around and came across USTVNow.com, which let us get our fix of Snoopy balloons and Kinky Boots in real time.

One has to create an account on the site, and there’s a free version and some paid options. It starts with a 45 day free trial which gives you access to all 28 channels at high resolution, some DVR capabilities and includes support for mobile devices. After that you can continue with the free plan, which gives you access to only six channels (NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, Fox and The CW) in low resolution. It’s not often that we want to watch US television live, so we will probably stick with the free plan.

USTVNOW Schedule

TV schedule

Only American citizens abroad allowed to sign up. How does the site know we’re Americans abroad? Thanks to our unique ability to tick a box promising that we are. People from other countries are completely lacking in this skill.

Settling into Edinburgh

Edinburgh Dean Village

About time for a wee blog update, isn’t it? Let’s fast forward from my month in Tokyo (we’ll come back to it, I promise) and jump all the way up to present day, where Scott and I are just your typical, everyday serial expats settling in after yet another international move. We’ve been in Edinburgh for about five weeks now, long enough to have most of the new-country administrata out of the way. The first few weeks of a new expat gig feel the same pretty much anywhere, even if the details are different. Register this, paperwork that. Sign up for a cell phone, figure out where all the various kinds of recycling go before the growing tower of vodka bottles in the kitchen falls over, that kind of thing. Continue reading

Edinburgh: the apartment hunt

Edinburgh Royal Mile at night

We’re more than a week into the hunt for a flat in Edinburgh, and it’s been quite the rollercoaster. We’ve seen some horrible places, and some less-horrible ones, but nothing that we’ve fallen in love with yet.

The main problem is our stuff. It’s always the stuff. When we moved from the US to Italy nine years ago, the agent had a hard time finding apartments for us to view because we were adamant about not wanting to buy a kitchen. In Milan (and Munich), the vast majority of rental flats come completely empty – no light fixtures, no window coverings; the kitchen is usually just an empty room with a water pipe coming out of the floor where the sink should be.

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Notes from the expat shuffle, Scotland edition

Auf wiedersehen, Deutschland!

Happy new year! Now where was I? Oh yes, Assisi. After an inspiring artist’s residency in Italy, we headed back to Munich for a couple weeks of Christmas market season before hoping on a plane to the US to spend the holidays with family. Then back to Munich for a quick hello before finally making our first trip (first trip since deciding to move here, anyway) to Scotland. Continue reading

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