The American Resident

http://www.theamericanresident.com/

An American writer living in Britain for over 20 years, writing about making a life overseas, being married to an Englishman, raising a dual-nationality family, herding cats and chasing chickens in the English countryside.

In what ways is your home town unique from other places you've lived or traveled?

What do your kids love most about living in the European Union?

What outdoor activity do you enjoy doing most with your kids?

Do you try to give back when you declutter? Please share your family traditions for benefitting others.

Michelle Garrett

Decluttering regularly is important for us because there's 7 in our family and clutter really builds up! We sometimes sell things on eBay, but the majority of our decluttering (clothes, books, some toys) go to the local charity shops. I have a bag of clothes and a box of books that accumulate over the year and when they get almost too big to lift I put them in the back of the car and forget about them for a few weeks, and eventually get myself organised enough to take them to either Oxfam or Cancer Research UK, both local charity shops. A few years ago we had some furniture to get rid of and while I was considering eBay I just happened to see a request from a local women's shelter for furniture donations so we gave it all to the shelter. Another great way to get rid of unwanted items is through Freecycle. Placing an 'ad' for the item on a site and someone who needs it can come and get it. It's not a charity shop but it is helping someone else! It feels good to clear the unnecessary from our home, but it feels even better to give it to someone who needs it.
View All Answers

What's your family's favorite way to eat cranberries? Please share a link to your recipe!

Michelle Garrett

This isn't even a recipe but it's such a perfect pairing I have to share it! In the UK a popular grown-up party food is simply mixing cranberries and macadamia nuts with a light sprinkling of sugar and salt (to taste). The tart cranberries are toned down by the creamy nuts, and the flavours of both are beautifully accentuated by the light addition of sugar and salt. Perfect!!
View All Answers

What's your best tip for easing the impact of holiday house guests?

Michelle Garrett

As someone who lives overseas I'm used to visitors who come for two weeks at a time. I LOVE that people come to visit me, but sometimes it really messes with our busy lives. Here's how I cope with those visits and keep them fun: 1. The number one thing I always try to do is get as many of my jobs/tasks and workload done in advance as possible. Visitors are another thing on that To Do list and so if I can make some room there I'll feel less stressed during their visit! 2. But holidays have their own stresses and people bring their own issues to holidays. I think the overall priority in my house is always 'What's the least stressful way to deal with this?' If I can cut out things that cause me or anyone in the house raised anxiety levels (deadlines, complicated recipes, busy schedules, etc) I do! 3. I would say of equal importance is probably communication--it's always a great thing, right?! Let people know what you need to get dinner done, or let people know that you have a busy day tomorrow with the kids' schedule and here's some ideas for them, or let people know that you need 30 minutes to concentrate on something. 4. Finally, I need my space. So I try to engineer times when I am out of the house for a couple of hours by myself, or when everyone else is out doing something and I am at home alone. Bliss! It helps me recharge my batteries and be a better host. Once I told everyone I had to run some boring errands but I actually booked a reflexology appointment and had a stress-busting hour of total relaxation!
View All Answers