Welcome to Tips & Tricks:



We have been in a transition for a long time now and I’m happy to announce that we’ve arrived to the United Kingdom! This is my excuse for not posting my weekly Tips & Tricks for the last two Fridays! Or has it been longer than that?

Moving is always a frustrating thing, but in the process of moving, we’ve learned a lot and have actually adjusted our style of living in the last three months! I’ve read that English people make friends when they’re young and are not really interested in making new friends, but I haven’t found that to be the case. The people I’ve met are very friendly and have exchanged phone numbers to meet up and get to know each other! Anyway, here are some pointers that you might consider if you are planning on moving from the US to the UK:

1. A language barrier. Though both Americans and Brits speak English, there are a couple different words along the way. The highway or thruway is called the “motorway.” A stroller is called a “push-chair,” or “buggy.” Cribs are called “cots” and shopping carts are called “trolleys.” I have yet to learn all of them, but for the most part, people have no trouble understanding me and I don’t have much trouble understanding them. Thanks to the media, they are very used to the American accent and I am used to their accent from watching a lot of British television while we were in the States.

2. Driving. I consider myself a good driver. I learn to drive with a stick-shift when I was 16, and I’ve never been in any accidents (but one time I rear-ended someone). However, driving on the left side here with the small streets really got me nervous. Though it seems like you never see any speed limit signs, there are general guidelines that everyone knows about even if there are no signs! The neat thing is that they use the mph system and not kilometers here, so that’s something we have in common. The motorway speed limit is 70 mph and local speed limits are generally at 40 mph. When you get into the smaller local streets, it goes down to 30 mph. They’re upped their usage of speed cameras, so just watch out for those signs!

3. There’s a license or tax for EVERYTHING. There’s something called a TV license. This means that if you have the ability to watch broadcast television in your home, you must pay the TV license of £145 per year! If you don’t pay it and you get audited, then they’ll find you £1,000. Their council tax is also very high and must be paid yearly on top of the hefty 30% or so taxes that you pay from income, and about 12% taxes on purchases.  We’re so grateful that we decided not to get a car and try living without one because we know there are probably fees for licenses, petrol, car registration, car insurance and the works!

4. There’s a process for everything. We’ve been attending a local parish church that needs a little more enthusiasm and life in it! We’ve made our willingness to help known, but like most of England, there is a process. Things take more time here to change. If you mention that you’d love to sing in the choir, people aren’t jumping in and inviting you to rehearsals. They seem to take their time, put that little note in their head and wait for another time to mention anything.

5. Everything is more expensive here. The exchange rate between dollars and pounds is the pound is worth about $1.50. That means if I want to buy a soda from a machine and it says £1, I’m really paying $1.50 for that soda can. However, things are priced seemingly exactly the same here as in the US, however, they are in pounds! For example, instead of the dollar store, you have the 99p store (99 pence), which means that toilet brush that goes for $1.00 in the States costs $1.50 here! Same thing with restaurants and everything. If you want to buy a $6 McDonald’s meal here, it’ll cost you £6–which means you’re paying $9 for it here! Get it?

6. Bring power adapters, converters or transformers. Even better, get rid of all of your electronic appliances and just buy them here! We didn’t realize how many converters we needed to be able to use our XBOX, blender, kettle, food processor, and phones. They also have different telephone line jacks, so you’ll have to buy them here.

7. Don’t expect you can continue streaming videos on your devices. Region codes for your electronic devices don’t allow you to stream videos from the US (we can’t even stream Amazon Instant Video using our XBOX 360 due to the region code that you can’t change). Also, your US DVDs aren’t playable on UK DVD players, so you’ll have to bring your own US DVD player if you want to keep watching them. There’s also a huge difference between Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Prime ( vs in the cost and selection of items. The company also doesn’t seem to have experts who know how to handle when people move and what happens to your digital content. (You can’t watch your purchased digital content in another country unless you use a VPN that makes your device think it’s in another country). We were also very disappointed that our Roku doesn’t work here due to the same region code error.

8. Secondhand stores and Craigslist aren’t the same. Secondhand stores here are called “charity shops,” and are all over the place! The stores themselves are mostly small and mainly sell clothing. They all seem to be competing for the sake of their own charities and it is very common here for celebrities and networks to endorse certain charities. People don’t use Craigslist here, but Gumtree. That basically acts the same as Craigslist.

9. The Church of England seems old and tired. The local parish church we’ve attended is small and only elderly people attend. There’s not another ‘young’ couple with small children who attend regularly and the general approach to religion here seems hush-hush. It is not regular for people to speak openly about their faith, and even church members have been caught saying that their vicar (the church rector) is “too spiritual.” British history is so rich and long that the mentality we see here is that though society is becoming more and more secular, the church thinks it’s just a phase and society will come back around.

10. Life is more simple. It seems I’ve listed a whole bunch of negatives, but though these things I’ve listed were somewhat of a disappointment for me, life here has been wonderful. It is peaceful and simple. I’m able to get my groceries delivered to my house, since we don’t have a car, and many things are within walking distance: the water, many restaurants and pubs, co-operative food stores, a bank, the bus stop, the train station, the fire station, the local preschool, a large and lovely park, and more that I haven’t yet discovered!

Previous Tips & Tricks:



Welcome to Tips & Tricks #9:



I like getting together with friends and I believe I’m pretty social! But I must say that sometimes I find it hard to enjoy hanging out in a party setting. I also really enjoy spending time with my husband, so to share him with a bunch of other people is undesirable to me. Here are a couple tips that help me maximize the amount of fun that can be had!

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Welcome to Tips & Tricks #6:



You’ve got to be kidding me…you’re blogging about a diaper bag? No joke here, and I’ll tell you why it’s important.

For at least 2 years of your life, you’ll no longer be carrying around a cute purse to match each outfit. You’ll be carrying around a diaper bag wherever you go. So you might as well pick out the best one and forget about how much it’ll cost you!

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Let Not the Sun Go Down on Your Wrath


I struggle with anger and with lashing out. Thankfully, I tend to be quick to forgive and forget, and don’t hold grudges, but when my husband offends me or I think he’s attacking me (verbally), I go into fight mode. It’s not “fight or flight” for me–I always fight! I think the verse in Ephesians 4:26b, “…let not the sun go down on your wrath,” is a great excuse to just let out all the anger and wrath right before bedtime. However, I often forget the first part of that verse, “Be ye angry, and sin not:…” The key here is not sinning.

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Tips & Tricks #5: HOW TO VACATION BY CAR

Welcome to Tips & Tricks #5



We’ve been on the road for the last month! Yes, that’s right, we left our humble abode and went on a trip to a couple different cities from December 5th until today–January 2nd. I’d like to say that I’ve learned a couple things, so I’m sharing with you the tips and tricks I’ve picked up from this past month of traveling. Some things we kept in mind while traveling (and always in everything) are to stay within a budget, and to be efficient with space, packing, and physical effort.

What to bring when vacationing by car? This depends on the kind of places in which you’ll be staying. We were staying with our friends, relatives, and sometimes, in a home where the residents were absent (when we went to the Poconos and rented a cabin). If you are planning on staying in a hotel, you might not have access to a kitchen like we were fortunate to have. This really helps reduce the amount of money you would spend on food if you are able to cook for yourself.

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Tips & Tricks #3 – MINIMALIST CLOSET

Welcome to Tips & Tricks #3



Welcome to another week of Tips & Tricks: How to Make an Anglican Home! Soon after having my daughter, I found myself wasting tons of time picking through my clothes to find something that fit, looked somewhat flattering, wasn’t super worn down, and coordinated with my other clothes. Imagine getting ready in the mornings and having to put the baby down for just a few moments so that you can get dressed. (Yes, the baby starts screaming, and you start flinging clothes out of your closet frantically!) I believe my baby was only 2 months old when I told my husband that I was thinking about starting a minimalist closet. He scoffed at me because he had already been living off of a rotation of about 10 items in his closet; but then he really did encourage me to do it.

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What to do about Santa

Santa Claus Sleigh and Reindeer tlg

Now that we have a daughter, the question of what to do about Santa comes up. As Christians, we know that Christmas is all about Christ! The true meaning of Christmas has almost nothing to do with what Santa Claus has become today (a highly commercialized fictional character who travels with flying reindeer, fits through chimneys, and rewards children for being good).

The original Santa Claus was based on Saint Nicholas, who was an actual person who lived in the third century in the village of Patara, (now Demre, Turkey). Nicholas was born into a very wealthy family and was raised a devout Christian. When Nicholas was still very young, his parents died. He decided to obey Jesus’ words from Matthew 19:21 “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me,” and so he used his entire inheritance to help the sick, needy and suffering. He was later made the bishop of Myra and became known for his generosity.

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Welcome to Tips & Tricks #2



I used to do a lot of cooking, and not just cooking, fancy cooking! That was before we were married, and since we’ve been married, my meal ideas and effort has waned. When we had our daughter, it had gotten even worse. At one point, we were spending $500 on eating out every month simply because I couldn’t find the time to make us food! I’m writing to share with you what we do on a daily basis and why they’ve worked for us: Paleo and Freezer Cooking.

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How to Pray (Part 3): Using the Daily Prayer App (Step-by-Step with Pictures)

DPmock_up-620x491Welcome to part 3 of How to Pray! If you’re interested in the background and reasons to read and pray every day using the Daily Office, check out Part 1. If you need the schedule and resource links for when and what to pray, check out Part 2.

This post is the detailed elaboration on Option 1 of the ‘Simple Plan’ with Morning, Evening and Night Prayer discussed generally in a previous post here.

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How to Pray (Part 2): Adapting the Daily Office to Home Prayer


I posted previously about how to read & pray every day using the Daily Office and explained the importance of praying and reading the scripture daily. Remember that the Daily Office was written for daily church services, and now that we don’t have the ability in the modern day to go to church every day, I’m adapting it to fit the needs of family daily prayer. And now here’s the nitty-gritty.

The structure of the Daily Office breaks down into four parts: the Opening, the Psalms, the Readings, and the Prayers. These four parts fall under one of two categories: the Ordinary and the Proper. The Ordinary parts of the Office stay the same all the time, while the Proper parts change according to the day or season of the Church Year (includes different psalms, readings and prayers).

How do we implement the Daily Office into family prayer? How frequently in the day should we pray as a family?

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