Sunday, 19 June 2011

Across the Pond with the Loeckens: Royal Ascot

Still haven't had a second to sit and do my own postings...but I just have to share my friend Kate's post with all of you! She attended the Royal Ascot! A "must do" while living here! I am SO excited to join in on the fun next year!! Enjoy her's BRILLIANT! :)

Across the Pond with the Loeckens: Royal Ascot: "The weather report from the BBC: 'A much brighter day with sunny intervals but also showers, some heavy with a risk of hail and thunder, bu..."

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Chocolate Macaroon Squares

My name is JoAnn and I suck at blogging! :)

Life got crazy busy and blogging was the last thing on my list. I think about it (blogging) often and yes, I am going to post on my trip into London for the Royal Wedding....someday! I just haven't had the time to sit down and play with the photos or brainstorm anything these days. The kids only have a couple more weeks of school and every day is filled with appointments and most adventures with my friends! :) Being an Expat, we need to make the most of our time with those we meet who are moving back to the States! So....that's what I've been doing! Since the Royal Wedding, I've been home to MN, I've toured Wimbledon, I've been to Shere for a stroll and a pint, or two. Oh much to blog about! I'll be sure to bring my laptop home with me when we got back to MN/SD/ND for the summer! :) Oh...and I' almost forgot....I've been taking driving lessons and have tested!! Oh my....yes...that will be another blog...or two...maybe even three. May was a crazy month for me! :/

So anyway....tonight I'm posting a quick pick of the yummy Chocolate Macaroon Squares that I just made.

I might have baked them just a tad too long. Instead of lightly browned on the top...they got "quite a bit browned"....yet not burnt! :) Is that a word...burnt?!'s 1am and I can't think straight right now! :) They are super delish and very rich! YUMMO! Here's the recipe from my friend John Michael! Enjoy.....

Chocolate Macaroon Squares

(American measurements)

1 package chocolate cake mix (18.25oz)

1/3 C. butter or margarine - softened

1 egg - lightly beaten

1 1/4 C. sweetened condensed milk (14 oz can)

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/3 C. flaked sweetened coconut - divided

1 C. chopped pecans

1 C. semi-sweet chocolate morsels (6 ozs)

Combine cake mix, butter and egg in large bowl/ mix with fork until crumbly. Press onto bottom of ungreased 13x9 in. baking pan.

Combine sweetened condensed milk, egg and vanilla extract in medium bowl; beat until well blended. Stir in 1 C. coconut, nuts and morsels. Spread mixture evenly over base; sprinkle with remaining coconut.

Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 28 to 30 minutes or until center is almost set (center will firm when cool). Cool in pan on wire rack.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

David Cameron ~ Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Here's a quick little speech by David Cameron after he was notified that the AMERICAN ARMED FORCES ~ NAVY SEALS ~ took out Osama bin Laden and KILLED the crazy-ass terrorist! First of all, I just want to say THANK YOU to all the Armed Forces of the United States of America! I'm am SOOO proud to be an American and so proud and thankful of them and all their hard work and never-ending commitment to our great nation!

Secondly, I just want to show you this exciting item I received today! I contacted a couple gals who I have dealt with at the Parliament, and they helped me to attain this wonderful bottle of The House of Commons champagne signed by non other than the Prime Minister himself, Mr. David Cameron! :) I am donating this to the school that my boys attend to be put up for auction at the annual charity event they have each year! Let's hope for a large sum of money for this unique and fantastic item! So awesome to be putting every penny toward the wonderful charities that the school has chosen! And the neatest part of this whole thing TO that it was signed the week that Will & Kate got married! :) A post regarding my trip into London on April 29, 2011 is to come! Check back every few days! I'll hopefully post it soon! :)

Good times living here in the UK! ♥

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Ingrid Seward on the Royal Family

On April 12, 2011, I attended an American Women of Surrey meeting with Ingrid Seward as the keynote speaker. She is the Editor-In-Chief of MAJESTY ~ The Quality Royal Magazine, and has been since 1983. She told us all kinds of great tidbits about the royal family! Here are a few interesting facts and quotes I jotted down:
  • "The Queen is thrilled that Kate is a commoner!"
  • "She's (the Queen) concerned that Kate comes from a stable-minded background."
  • Ingrid says that Kate's Mum is "very glamorous and glossy"! :)
  • "The Queen wishes that she would have established a better rapport with Diana."
  • "Charles will NOT abdicate the throne to William, because he would want him to have his freedom before he takes on the responsibility of becoming King."
  • Ingrid feels bad for Fergie for not being invited to the wedding and that she believes William did NOT invite her out of respect for his grandfather. Prince Philip does not care for Fergie because of the way she disrespected their family. Fergie was a close friend to Diana and the boys were supposedly quite close to Fergie growing up. Fergie's a "busted flush" ~ not liked by the English people.
  • "Will and Kate will cut their wedding cake with a sword (tradition)."
  • "Harry has a twinkle in his eye like Diana had."
  • Will and Kate will live in a 6 bedroom farm house on an island in Wales for two years. When they're in London, they'll live in a small apartment in Kensington Palace.
This is one of the two books she was selling that I purchased.
She signed both of them inside for me. See below for an example.

Majesty magazines photo by me, as are the bottom two of Ingrid's book.

Monday, 25 April 2011

What the hell does BOB'S YOUR UNCLE mean?!

When we were preparing to move to England, we all went through "cultural training". One of our sons noticed a common English phrase in his workbook ~ Bob's Your Uncle. He asked our instructor what it means. She told him it means "and that's all" basically. Well...for some reason, he got a total kick out of this phrase and started to use it all the time. So, when I was trying to come up with a unique title to my blog, Bob's Your Uncle just stuck! :)

On Friday, April 29th, 2011, after William and Kate are united in marriage, they've had their reception, and the sun has set...Buckingham Palace will NOT be leaving their lights on all night long like Westminster Abbey....and Bob's Your Uncle! :)
Here's another great example of the definition of Bob's Your Uncle: This is a well used phrase. It is added to the end of sentences a bit like and that's it! For example if you are telling someone how to make that fabulous banoffee pie you just served them, you would tell them to boil the condensed milk for three hours, spread it onto a basic cheesecake base, slice bananas on top, add some whipped double cream, another layer of banana and Bob's your uncle!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Mannequin Pis?!?!?

A couple really great friends and I, (who I met while living here in England), decided to take an adventure to Brussels, Belgium! What a great trip it was!

We enjoyed just walking around Brussels and taking in the sights! We also enjoyed just randomly sitting down to enjoy a nice, cold Belgium beer.

So can any one really explain to me why the Mannequin Pis is so popular?!? Is it because it's small and it's been stolen so many times over the years, that it's become this obsessed about thing?! Supposedly, according to Wikipedia, the original version was "erected" (no pun intended) :) in 1388. The current version in 1619. When we were there, it was dressed up as a vampire. There were many adults wondering around

Brussels dressed up as zombies. We're not sure what it was all about, but there was a theme. I guess they change the outfit on this little statue (who is normally just naked and peeing into the fountain just below the statue) quite often. While we
were taking pictures, there were a few guards who were VERY protective of it. They actually made sure I was behind this certain spot on the sidewalk. I took a picture, but was really confused on why it was so popular. After coming home and reading up on it...I'm still confused! :) Oh well...that's nothing new!

So, from there we went a few steps down the street and bought totally delicious Belgian waffle!! Then we stopped in a few shops, bought a few things, drank more beer, tried escargot and mussels. I wasn't a fan of either...but the Laura actually took a liking to them! :)

The Grand Place (bottom right picture) is the central square of Brussels! We enjoyed a nice lunch, some beer, and lotsa laughter in that square! :) A super fun trip!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Adele - Rolling In The Deep

Copied from YouTube, I love this girl's voice! A British 22 year old star who just bumped Miss Britney Spears from the top of the charts with this album featuring the song, Rolling in the Deep. This song is about being heartbroken (who can't relate to that, right?!?!), based on a true story about (I'm thinking) HER relationship with an older man that just didn't work out. Enjoy!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Big Ben ROCKS!

Climbing the Clock Tower is something you can ONLY do if you are a resident of the United Kingdom. A group of expat ladies filled out all the necessary security information in order to go on this incredible experience! I'm going to add a link so you can take a virtual tour and be able to see what we just experienced this past Friday, April 8th, 2011. As you look up the tower, you get this excited feeling as you start to climb the 334 stairs to the top! When we reached the top, opened the door and saw the first of four GIANT faces of the Clock Tower, I got shivers down my spine. It was just such an incredible moment to stand up on the little lip and measure my height to the top of the VI and stretch my arms out behind the face of the world's most famous clock!

There were two moments when I choked up just thinking about the opportunity we were

experiencing....(1) Standing behind the face of the clock and, (2) while listening to the chimes of the bells and looking out across London on such a beautiful sunny day, tears filled my eyes. It was just such a great, appreciative moment. Seeing London from a view that not everyone gets to see.

Unfortunately, we were not able to take any photos, so if you want to experience the tour we took, you'll have to click above for a quick version of the tour.

I am so thankful for each and every opportunity I am having living over here in such a beautiful country! England is just beautiful!

Enjoy your virtual tour, and if you want to take a moment and play a little game....have fun and good luck! :)

I'm ending this post with a picture of the London Eye nestled between these beautiful trees.

Today was a perfect day! ♥

~ all photos taken by me ~

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Across the Pond with the Loeckens: Big Ben

My friend Kate, from this link I'm sharing, went on the beautiful Clock Tower Tour with me and a group of gals this past Friday, April 8th. I took off for Brussels at 6am on Saturday the 9th (my friend Laura's birthday (HappyHomemakerUK), so I haven't had two seconds to blog yet. I'm not sure when I'm going to get around to it because my week if filled with meetings, appointments, company, swimming lessons, gym, baking (donating to dorm kids at school), more appointments, and school assembly. Whew! I'm not the world's most organized person, so until I get around to my posts about this past weekend at Big Ben and my trip to Brussels with my incredible friends Laura & Sheila...I'm going to share a post written by another MNUKGirl...Kate(not plus 8). :) Thank you Kate! LOVE this post of yours! Enjoy everyone.... Across the Pond with the Loeckens: Big Ben: "I needed a clone of myself today. 1st grade assembly at 9 AM. Tour of Big Ben with a train leaving at 9:28 AM. Sitter drop..."

Monday, 4 April 2011

Will (um, I mean Harry) and Kate

So....I was reading on-line last month about this mug that "mistakenly" has a picture of Harry instead of William on it. I ordered one ASAP and just got it in the post today. :) Click HERE to read an article about it. I'm not sure if it's still available for purchase or not!?! Too funny! Wonder if it'll be worth anything in another 200 years....if my great-great grandchilden don't break it! :)

Only a handful of days left until the Royal Wedding! What are you doing to celebrate on April 29th?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Happy Mother's (Mothering) Day

The UK celebrates Mother's Day, or as they call it, Mothering Day...on the fourth Sunday in Lent. During the 16th century, it was meant for people to attend their mother church for service. Eventually, people in Ireland and the UK started celebrating Mother's Day on the same day (this all according to my trusty Wikipedia). I think it's great that living here in England, I now get to celebrate being a "Mom or Mum" twice each year! :) I mean, it's only fair, since my two oldest call me Mom and my youngest calls me Mum...right, it's only fair?! :) My "Mothering Sunday" started out with my hubby and my two oldest boys waking me with breakfast (scrambled eggs, toast and milk) in bed. The plate was decorated with a beautiful cut flower from our garden too! :) The boys also each made a homemade Mother's Day card for me, which is ALWAYS the best present to get (besides their hugs and kisses). They were so sweet and proud! :) Once our youngest woke up, we decided to take a little drive south to Littlehampton to see the beach and check out this quaint little seaside village for the afternoon. Check out their great website and enjoy a few of the many pictures I captured today.

Happy Mothering Sunday to all my wonderful UK/Ireland friends! ♥

(Quick little note: I am SO frustrating when going to post my posts, because when I click PUBLISH, my posts get all "jacked up" and don't look the way they do before I click PUBLISH. I'm sure there's some HTML code I could easily put in to help me with this, but I don't know enough about these damn computers. This problem happens with EVERY post of mine and I waste a TON of time trying to go and fix the problem. Sometimes I'm able to, and other times I'm now! My toddler NEEDS to get to bed and I don't have time to play games with my damn I'm posting "as is" and the paragraphs may separate nicely, or they'll be all crammed together. Sorry if it looks terrible! Must get little man to bed!)

Monday, 28 March 2011

England in Bloom

I do not know much at all about flowers, but I do know how beautiful they are and I'm in heaven right now as I look out the windows of my home here in England. The country is a sea of yellow, with daffodils every where you look! These flowers below are what I have growing in my gardens. Lovin' spring here in the UK!

A parakeet taking flight from our neighbors tree. What sort of tree is this, I don't know, but it's pretty and pink! Cherry Blossom!??! I know many of you will know the answer to this! :)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

On Wednesday, I was kindly awarded the Stylish Blogger Award by Happy Mommy of Two. My very first award! This is quite exciting for a "newbie" like me! :) Thank you Happy Mommy of Two, who was awarded this award from Shopping To Scale.

So, if you are named a Stylish Blogger, there are four things you are asked to do.

1. Thank and link back to Happy Mommy of Two the person/persons who awarded you this award. I'm new to blogging, so I apologize if I didn't do this correctly! :)

2. Share 7 things about yourself ~

  • I grew up with three brothers, and now I have three boys of my own and one step-son. :)
  • The states I've lived in are: North Dakota, Nevada, Hawaii, California, and Minnesota.
  • I grew up on a farm near Finley, North Dakota where the population used to be around 600 people. I'm not sure what it's at these days?! I had an incredible childhood growing up in such a small community.
  • I used to be an elementary teacher before becoming a full-time mom.
  • I love shopping for shoes and vehicles...and that's it! :)
  • I love all kinds of music, but currently my favorite is Pop (great for my running).
  • I could live on pizza and chocolate...oh, and Nacho Cheese Doritos! :)

3. Then award 5-15 blogs that you follow. These blogs some of my favorites...check them out!

Across the Pond with the Loeckens

Happy Homemaker UK

A Day in the Life of a Hockey Wife

Africa, My Africa

Robynne's Nest


Hines-Sight Blog

One Blondes Ramblings

Three Mango Seeds

4. Contact the bloggers and let them know of their reward! :) Now go and encourage a blogger! :) Thank you for reading!


Wednesday, 23 March 2011


March 8, 2011 ~
This glowing product, Diet Mountain Dew, produced and owned by PepsiCo, is the American product that my hubby and I miss the most! So much so, that we are willing to pay TOP pound (Great British Pound) for this soda that we have found through various over-priced websites around the UK. Thank goodness we could even get it here at all!

Production kicked in over here in the UK just last year under the name Mountain Dew Energy. I've been harassing them on Facebook about selling Dt. Dew. The other day, I received a response stating that, very soon, they will be selling sugar free Mt Dew Energy. Very excited to give it a try!

March 20, 2011 ~
OK....this has been sitting in my drafts for a couple weeks now. Just hadn't finished it...and now my husband tells me that we can no longer get our Dt Dew over here in England. The two websites we would order from are no longer carrying it?!?!? WHAT?!?!?! He said we could ship it in from GERMANY!!! No thank you! The $2.81/can that we paid per can here was pricey enough. Guess I'll have to find other alternatives until the new Sugar Free Mt Dew Energy comes out! :) Ho Hum! :(

Monday, 21 March 2011

Casey Heynes Interview - Bully Victim Who Fought Back Rated PG

Oh my goodness...I just want to go right through this video and hold and hug this sweet young boy! It absolutely breaks my heart to know of his story, and that this happens to millions of children world wide every day!! WHY!?!?! Why are there these kids who think it's OK to treat people that way? Parents with these kids who bully really have to take notice and try and make the changes that need to be made to STOP BULLYING in our young children's lives!!

Casey're an incredibly brave young man who is hopefully inspiring oodles of kids to decide to stand-up for themselves too!

What is hard as a parent is this....I work very hard at trying to teach my boys EVERY day how to act with kindness and respect toward EVERYONE! Then they enter school and start seeing these "bullies", and they don't know how to defend themselves, because they were taught to be polite and nice to people. So, therefore, they don't know what to do! Just like Casey....he took SO much abuse for so many years because he didn't want to fight. He didn't want to get in trouble. The polite kids get screwed! what do we do!?!?! We have to back-peddle a bit and tell our kids...." polite and treat everyone with kindness....but if anyone picks on you...YOU KICK THEIR ASS!?!?!?" That's what I want to tell my kids. OK...those who know me know that I actually DID tell that to my kids. But FYI...I have super-sweet boys who smiled at me and said, "Mom....we can't do that...we'll get in trouble!" :) But you see....that's the problem. They don't "go there" because they've been taught that it's WRONG to hurt someone. It's a fine line! I will definitely be showing them Casey's interview. I hope they see that if they are ever in that sort of situation, and there's no way out....that it is OK to protect yourself. Now...Casey had an advantage with his height and size. My boys are pretty I'll have to teach them some good self-defense moves. :) Anyway....WAY TO GO CASEY! You're a good kid, you protected yourself, and you walk with your head held high!! ♥

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Royal Wedding Biscuits!

Looking for a unique treat to have at your

Royal Wedding Celebration on April 29, 2011?

Here are the perfect biscuits for your party!

Yes, I ate one of the crowns right away! They're delicious!

Order these biscuits HERE!

Friday, 18 March 2011


More about these amazing cookies coming up in a post on Monday!

Good Morning! My wonderful friend HAPPYHOMEMAKERUK is hosting an AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY Linky Party today! If you're an expat like us, post a link about where you live and tell us a bit about your host country and your experiences!
Welcome to my blog post directly from Cobham, England (roughly 30 miles south of London). I am an American Expat from Minnesota who moved to England this past July, 2010.

Wow...where does a person begin on writing about England?! The history of this country is overwhelming! Some of the great places we've visited since moving here last summer are:

Every turn you make in this country tells a story! I hope to blog about all of my stops....past, present, and future! I'm just getting started in your blogging world, so please stop by often, follow me and be sure to leave me a comment with your link so I can follow you too! Thank you!

Speaking of future blog sure to visit me at the end of August for a blog about our visit to Althorp (Princess Diana's Childhood Home and Burial Site). I know that's quite a ways into the future...but don't forget, ok!?! :) Especially those of you who adored her like I did!

Today however, I'm going to blog to you about my most recent adventure....a tour of the 2012 Summer Olympics location in London! On Tuesday, March 15, 2011, a bunch of friends embarked on an adventure into eastern London. The Statford District of eastern London is quite an old and worn down industrial area of London. The city is currenly in a regeneration phase of this district. They are tearing down many industrial buildings and will be creating a 1,500 acre parkland (3x the size of Hyde Park) that will run from the Olympic Park down to the river Thames.

During our tour, we walked past the 3 Mill Studios which is currently where Danny Boyle (who is known for his role as director of Slumdog Millionaire), and his team of 300 people are working to prepare for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Games.
The main stadium of the Olympic Games is supposed to house 80,000 people. The West Ham United Football Club will take over this structure once the 2012 Olympics are finished.
We walked to a point where we could oversee all the work being done. Only 500 days left until the Olympics start, from the day we toured this site!
Since it was such a huge milestone, there were some former British athletes who were up at the site with us. I managed to speak to a couple of them. The first gentleman's name is Chris Tomlinson. Chris was a former long jumper. Matt Skelhon is a former shooting gold medalist from the 2008 Paralympics. Click on their names to get more information about these ambassadors!

I'm super excited about applying for my tickets! I hope I get some really fun events to attend! If you're interested in applying yourself, click HERE to fill out your applications! You have until April 26th, 2011! Good luck and thank you for stopping by to read my post!

Fergie on American Idol!

Last night, the Black Eyed Peas performed a new song titled Just Can't Get Enough on American Idol. Poor Fergie is getting torn apart for herself?!?! I think she's just changed her make-up to look more like herself instead of looking "done up". The media's all over her! They say, "She must be pregnant....She's had plastic surgery!" look GREAT!

Now personally...I'm a HUGE fan of the BEP, but this song....not so much! What do you think?

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Access Hollywood Live: Matthew McConaughey Talks Family Life & Shares Parenting Advice | Access Hollywood - Celebrity News, Photos & Videos's one of my favorite actors talking about his upcoming movie LINCOLN LAWYER that debuts on March 18th! What I find interesting, is that when he's interviewed several times and asked about who else is acting in this movie with him, and he never once mentions Josh Lucas. Josh is a big-named actor too, but he doesn't mention this.

Why do you write of this you ask?

And more importantly, why do you care?!?!

Well....if you remember WAY back in time, Matthew once dated Penelope Cruz. I was thinking that Josh dated Penelope after Matthew....but as I'm typing this, realized that it wasn't Penelope Josh dated, but her friend Salma Hayek. So....there goes my theory that Matthew still holds a grudge against Josh for dating his ex-girlfriend (not that he ever did...I'm just...guessing, I mean gossiping). I have NO idea why he didn't mention Josh, unless he just doesn't consider Josh a big-named star?!?! disregard all my babbling. :) I should erase this and start again.....but why?!?! This is labeled HOLLYWOOD GOSSIP, is it not?!?! Read this and make fun of me if you must. :) It is 2am here in the UK as I type this. Once again...having a hard time sleeping. So much on my mind these days. We're obviously too busy, because I can't stop thinking about all the details of what needs to be accomplished the next day! Alright...I'll stop rambling now. Just enjoy the clip of Matthew. If you want to see more, there should be numerous clips off to the right of the one above, or just Google his name or the movie Lincoln Lawyer and you'll find all sorts of fun interviews!! G' Nite!
[Image of Matthew above from]

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Do you see all these groceries?!?! These items come from a refrigerator that sat WIDE open from 10pm - 7am the other night!
Our four year old son forgot to shut the door after running downstairs to get a quick drink of water before bedtime.
A couple hundred GBPounds later, we have replenished the fridge with safe groceries to eat/drink! :) We also had a nice little talk with T about why it's SO important to keep those doors SHUT!
A day in the life of raising a toddler - sh** happens!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Billy the Exterminator is HERE!!!

While living in our temporary digs in Minnesota (Marriott Residence Inn), before we moved to England last summer (July 2010), my kids got hooked on the show Billy the Exterminator! It's a great show about this rad dude who removes pests such as wasps, bats, and racoons, to deadly snakes, alligators...and much more. I believe he removes everything without actually killing the pests. Some people appreciate that....I honestly could care less. All I know is that my kids LOVE to watch Billy's adventures. Of course, the show was NOT showing over here when we arrived, so I've been buying old episodes through iTunes every once in awhile as a little treat for them. But starting TONIGHT....Billy's show is NEW on the BIOGRAPHY CHANNEL. We are SOOO excited! I especially am because now I don't need to pay $$ to watch it. Well...any more than I already pay for SKY TV here in the UK. :)

Happy Kids + Ice Cream = Happy Momma!