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Family

Steve, Janelle and their adorable brood of 5 kids moved from Wheaton, IL to the English countryside!! Janelle is an awesome cook, home educator, and Steve, an auditor at a bank. We chatted recently and I wanted to share with you some of their amazing experiences and not so amazing ones. Grab your coffee and join us!


Shalice: So Janelle, you did what SO many families would only dream of doing: moving your whole family to Europe and making it look educational and dare I say, fun? It is truly remarkable! 
That leads me to the first question . . . .
The obvious question, how is it living in England with 5 kids?


Janelle: England has been an amazing experience for all of us and I’m so glad we took the leap! It has been so different in a lot of ways, and that’s been part of the fun, because the way it has been different is unique to England and not something we would experience if we had moved simply to another State. 

Shalice: What is the easiest and hardest part about living abroad?


Janelle: The easiest part has been all the travel. That has been beyond fun. And England is relatively small as a whole so everything is accessible by car, which is definitely the easiest way for our large family to travel. We also live in the country, where cows, sheep, and single, hedge-lined lanes surround our house and the beauty almost knocks you off your feet. Covid-19 has curbed our travel for the moment, which has been hard, but getting to enjoy daily walks in this amazingly beautiful area has been a true blessing. Initially, the hardest part was the first 6 weeks–bank accounts! a car! a house!–and then just setting up our house. Now the hardest part has been not being able to find a good church, for there simply aren’t many at all. Anywhere. And given that the kids are all homeschooled here, the lack of any sort of social life has been rough. Looking back, it’s interesting to think about how we built community in America vs. how the English do community. Granted, we live in small little village in Shropshire, which is almost on the border of Wales in the Midlands, so I can hardly speak to England in general. Just what we’ve experienced in our little village. 


Shalice: I know you live in a little town. I mention the name of it to my English friends and they haven’t even heard of it. But I’ve seen pictures and I know for sure my kids would love it because they love large green spaces, sheep and cows. Tell us about your town in England?

Janelle: One thing we’ve found interesting about England is that it really is all countryside! The entire country is countryside. But not countryside that you would find in America. It is definitely distinctly English. For instance, we live in country, where everything is one lane, farms abound, and cows often wake us up in the morning when they are visiting the field next to our house. But we are also only 5 miles from two different towns. And I feel like that is very much the norm here. You can be in the country, but then in town 10 minutes later. Our little village has a church built in the 1200’s and a community center, where they host movies and have tea during events (that, by the way, is a stereotype for a reason. No matter the event, there is always tea). Our little church hosted a women’s singing group this past fall, I think they were Army wives maybe? And at one point, everybody in the (mostly elderly) audience was singing along to a song from days past. Honest, I felt like I was in a scene from Call of the Midwives. 


Shalice: Favorite things about England?


Janelle: It is unbelievably beautiful!! And within the one island, there are so many forms of beauty, from the rugged beauty of Wales, to the romantic and soft beauty of the Lake District, to the jaw dropping seascapes of Cornwall. And there is history everywhere you turn, which I absolutely love. Between English Heritage, the non-profit that maintains crumbling castles and ruins, and the National Trust, the non-profit that maintains manors, estates, and country houses (ie, palatial wonders seen in Pride and Prejudice for instance), there is always somewhere to visit. And every National Trust house has a cafe with tea and scones. So. You never have to know what it is like to sight-see without being refreshed with tea and scones. We also have not yet encountered a mosquito. That is almost on par with the history. 


Shalice: Worst things about England?

Janelle: Terrible customer service! No, really, we were warned about it and it’s absolutely true. If you are lucky enough to get a person, and that is rare indeed, they simply don’t care or can’t do anything to help you. Also, the much higher taxes were an adjustment. Steve keeps saying that every American should live abroad for a period of time simply to understand and appreciate what we have in America. 


Shalice: What do you miss most about America?

Janelle: The food!!! I think the kids will mention a place to eat in America at least a week. And Target. Can you even imagine life without Target? It’s rough.  


Shalice: What will be the first thing you do when you move back?

Janelle: It’s a toss up between Smashburger and Chick-fil-A because it’s always about food at our house. Personally, I’m going shopping. The shopping here, unless you live in London, leaves a lot to be desired. 


Shalice: Worst surprise?

Janelle: Having to wait an entire MONTH for internet service to be installed, and then finding out that libraries and coffee shops close at 6pm. When you have online students who have all afternoon/evening classes due to being 6 hours ahead, no internet and closed shops made for a rough month. 


Shalice: Best surprise? 

Janelle: Roundabouts!! We LOVE them. You never have to stop, unless there’s really heavy traffic, and it makes driving so much more enjoyable. 

It’s THAT time again, back to school shopping! I’m not lying, I’m kinda looking forward to this chapter. A sense of structure, a fresh beginning and a new bouquet of pencils are all my favorites. How about you? How do you feel about the school season kicking off? While some schools are still uncertain as to IF they are returning in the fall due to the virus, I still think many of us are excited for school season. Our kids are excited for new books, fresh starts, and of course new gear! New gear ALWAYS helps. I remember as a kid being so excited to pick out my new trapper keeper, colorful pens, pencils and folders. Who knew office supplies could be such a buzz? I honestly love these journals from Walmart because my boys can write about something they saw in the yard as there is a portion to draw and write. These little nature journals are inspiring and less than the price of a latte. Let the learning begin!

I ordered some back to school gear, a pool and new clothes for the kids. We just measured Atalie and she is 5’5″! Wow! So I bought her new shirts and shorts.

Love the convenience of ordering and fast shipping. Hurry up and find your next back to school score!

Puma Backpacks // Girls Leopard shorts // School uniform shirts // Pink Sandals // Ice Cream Maker // Inflatable Pool // My Shorts // My Peasant Top // Swimsuit

Thank you Walmart for sponsoring this post, all opinions my own

Reid loves all the practical things for father’s day! He loves a good watch, a workout bike, sandals for the heat and sneakers he wears daily that can be dressed up or down. We are so grateful for all Reid does for our family. Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there!

Click the links below to shop:

1. Speakers // 2. Hat // 3. Henley similar // 4. Assault Bike // 5. Watch

6. Fendi sandals // 7. Swim Trunks // 8. Birkenstocks

9. Sandals // 10. Yoga Mat

I won’t lie, I’m not super happy about another weekend staying in, but I also praise my fellow readers for helping the virus stay at bay! Here are some sales around the web.

ELEMIS (25% off full-sized favorites with code SPRINGEVENT)

ANINE BING 25% off

ANTHROPOLOGIE

VITAL PROTEINS

TARTE

CHARLOTTE TILBURY 20% off select sets. I love the pillow talk lips collection as it’s a perfect mix of blush and nude.

As always my SHOP PAGE IS open 24/7. Have a great weekend. Working on some fun recipes to come!

xx Shalice



If your kids are like mine, they’re feeling the walls cave in with self-quarentine during Covid-19. So unless you’re in line, trying to get into Costco like 80% of the population, here are a few ideas to keep busy:

1. Bake! Let the kids choose and, if they’re old enough, do the entire thing. So far, we’ve had Welsh gingerbread, angel food cake, and chocolate chip cookies.  I think this idea is what you might call a Family Favorite. 

2. Play outside. If you have a yard, or are close to a forest preserve, now is the time to get outside. Even running on the driveway works. It gets everybody out of the house and helps with the cabin fever situation. 

3. Play games. Dust off the old Uno and Phase 10 card games, or try a new one. (As long as Amazon is still delivering??) A few of our family favorites: WhooNu? Telestrations Chameleon El Dorado

4. Let the kids buy an old typewriter off eBay and they’ll keep busy for days, weeks … 

5. Start a re-aloud that you’ve been meaning to read. Harry Potter? The Wizard of Oz? The Golden Goblet?  E. Nesbit? 

6. And when in a pinch for those with younger kids, make salt map dough or play doh. For some reason, it never seems to get old. 
And when all else fails, there are always movies! Good luck! 

Also, Nordstrom is having a MAJOR SALE. 25% off almost everything. Take advantage if you need a little retail therapy.



If anything, I’m loving this time safely together at home. Hopefully the above will help you all with your sanity.
What are some of your tips? I’d love to hear.
xx
Shalice (and special help from my sister Janelle Howard)

Friday Favorites!

by Shalice Noel

Happy weekend! We are having a couple from our church over for dinner tonight. She helped us tutor the kids last year, so were all excited to see them tonight! Also, I have a facial in a chic west hollywood home with a celebrity ethetician, more on this soon! Can’t wait!

I’m making this for dinner tonight and it is SO good.

Also, lots of questions about my diet and exercise lately, so be sure to check out our couples workout, a workout with a video (with the kids), family workout ideas, and 4 ways to stay healthy this weekend. As for diet ideas, here’s a post on how I’m changing the way our family eats, and finally my Fab 4 smoothie recipe from Kelly’s Body Love book.

I have almost 1,100 blog posts and running out of storage, isn’t that amazing? Thank you for reading my blog and supporting me over the years.

I’ve been posting outfit video’s on IGTV, so be sure to check it out. My last one showed you how to pack for a long weekend 😉

ENJOY your weekend and try and savor the time. I know I am.

xx Shalice

Shown: The Baby Carrier in Wild Child

use code shalicenoel for $20 off!

If you are in the market for a stroller, or thinking about being in the market for a stroller, or just like the idea of being in the market for a stroller, this is the stroller for you! As you can imagine, with five kids spanning eleven years, I’ve owned my share of strollers. But the Colugo Compact stroller is hands down the best compact one I’ve ever owned. It’s perfect for travel, quick trips, trips when you’re not driving anything that has a Texas-sized trunk, or anytime you need simplicity and convenience. Did I mention it is only 16 lbs?

Why I love the Colugo Compact Stroller:

While there are SO many reasons, here are a couple you need to know:

1. It is easy and quick to break down. My seven-year-old can do it without breaking a sweat.

2. It is lightweight and slim. I can get it in and out of the car easily, without having to take everything out of the trunk before I do.

3. The fabric is machine washable and can be switched out if you tire of the design. I have camouflage and just ordered the black for winter. I love it! And you did catch the “washable” part? It’s WASHABLE. 

4.  It’s comfortable! It has a thick cushion that Levi actually sleeps in, which is no small fact. Those who know Levi well know that he is NOT a great sleeper.  I only wish he slept as well in his crib as he sleeps in the Colugo!

When we went to Milan this past fall, we brought the Colugo. It managed to fit in an overhead bin, a Prius Uber in Milan, and the little coat closet in our apartment, not to mention all the cafes and coffee shops we visited. To be completely honest, the Prius Uber driver gave us a bit of grief at first, saying “NO STROLLER” over and over. But after Reid did a little demonstration with the stroller and said molto piccolo (very small) a few times, he let us in! .

 Believe me, I’ve tried SO many brands and this is always the stroller that ends up in the back of my car. DON’T FORGET TO USE CODE “shalicenoel” for $20 off your entire order of $125 or more, for new customers, one use per customer. 

Items shown: THE COMPACT STROLLLER // THE CARRIER

At 16lbs, it’s so easy to break down and carry!

Thank you Colugo for sponsoring this post. All opinions my own.

4 Family Workout Ideas + How to Get Started

Our family loves staying active and recently I’ve gotten quite a few questions from you guys about things we do as a family to sneak in exercise and how we got started making it a habit. I love these questions and am happy to answer them, however, I have to admit, Reid is a workout junkie and has done a great job not only teaching the kids about fitness but me too! Ha! So I will say, it helps to have him to kind of lead the way, but here are some ideas!

Go for family walks

This is one of the best ways to get started exercising if you ask me! Not only does this give you and your family a chance to move and get some exercise in, but it’s also great for talking and catching up with your kids and spouse. Start with a few walks a week and before you know it you’ll be moving on to my next idea!

Plan active activities for the family

This is something I want our family to do more of in 2020! We don’t want the kids growing up thinking of working out as a chore, but more as something they enjoy doing and I think finding fun, local activities to do like obstacle courses, a 3k or 5k, or even spending an afternoon at one of those trampoline places sounds like such a great way to show the kids that exercising is fun.

Use commercial breaks on TV to exercise

We try not to overdo it with the TV in our house, but when we do have TV time as a family, we try to make it into a game where on commercial breaks we have little fitness competitions. For example, one commercial break we might see who can do the most push-ups and then on the next one it’s jumping jacks. It’s fun for the kids and Reid and I. Plus, it doesn’t feel like a chore at all!

Playing games with the kids!

If you have kids, a great way to get exercise in for both you and them is by simply playing with them! We play tag and soccer all the time and plan on seriously breaking in the backyard at our new house with lots of outdoor games!

As for getting started, like I said, Reid kind of lit the fire for our family so I think it helps to have someone around that’s extra motivated simply because they enjoy working out. If you don’t have anyone like that in your family, then I recommend starting really small. Go for a family walk – even if it’s at a leisurely pace – and commit to doing it at least two to three times a week. Doing things like this will help you build the habit of moving your body, which is the most important thing in my opinion!

I hope this helps those of you who have been asking about family workouts and it inspires your family to get moving!

Thank you LG for sponsoring this post! All opinions my own.

We had the MOST AMAZING meal the other night and I feel like we’re not friends if I don’t share it. Yes, that good.

This month, my aunt is staying with us in the MIL suite, spoiling us with delicious meals. We’ve been able to try dishes we’ve never had before. The plus side is, I’m snacking less because I want to save room for her AMAZING dinners. This one we had last week was so good, I feel like we wouldn’t be friends if I didn’t share it. The cream sauce is pure comfort, the mushrooms are tantalizing and chicken, tender, yes this is a family wide winner. Get your Instacart ready, because this should be on your menu next week. Yes, that good. Ingredients and directions below. Now, what am I going to do in February other than pine for delectable dinners like this that I nonchalantly enjoyed every day and dismally replace them with frozen pizza. Yikes, I better make some Valentines Day plans, stat!

Bon Apetit!

Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Crêpes

1 teaspoon butter
1 cup vertically sliced onion
1 garlic clove minced
3 cups thinly slice baby portobello mushroom caps about 6 ounces
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup fat-free less sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
 1/4 cup crème fraîche
2 cups shredded roasted skinless boneless chicken breast
6 French crepes (or make your own basic crepes below)
Thyme sprigs, optional

1. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté 2 minutes or until onion begins to brown. Add mushrooms salt and pepper cook three minutes or until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are tender stirring frequently.

Add wine, and cook three minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently. Add broth and chopped thyme, cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; add crème fraîche, stirring until well blended. Add chicken, tossing to coat.


2. Place 1 crêpe on each of 6 plates spoon about 1/3 cup of mushroom mixture into the center of each crepe; roll up. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired. Serve immediately.

Yields 6 servings. My kids loved it!

Basic Crêpes from allrecipes

I love a good basic crepe for savory dishes or last minute dessert when paired with jam or nutella.

1 cup all purpose flour

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons of butter

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
  3. Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think of this dish and if you want to see more.

xx

Shalice