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Calcite crystals on the soles of her shoes

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I’m pretty sure flip-flops and a handbag aren’t part of the recommended outfit for hiking Diamond Head crater, but hey-ho. I was in Hawaii with 4 hours to spend before my flight back to LA, so it seemed a delightful idea. Outfit schmoutfit.

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Besides, my left little toe had a blister from an overly-ambitious 20-minute stroll in high heels the night before, so I was glad of the open footwear. I was in Hawaii for work, you see, so I wasn’t prepared for much other than office and plane attire. Packing had been a hasty affair, to say the least, having flown into LA from London the day before on our way back from a family trip to the UK. But who was I to turn down the opportunity for a 2-day work trip to the Aloha state (a place I hadn’t visited unti…

Moving to California: how to apply for your California driver licence

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So you've landed in sunny California on your new adventure on a shiny resident visa, and you've read somewhere that your overseas driving licence can only be used for 10 days. 10 days? Did you read that right?

Yep, I'm afraid you did. If you're coming over from another US state you've got until your current licence expires, but if you're from overseas (like me) you need to have a California driver licence if you are considered a California resident. And according to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), this means you do any of the following:

- Vote in a California election
- Pay resident tuition
- File for a homeowner's property tax exemption, or
- Receive "any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents"

See: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffdl05

We moved over here on an L1/L2 visa, which is basically one that global companies use to transfer staff between international offices (L1 for…

Christmas away from home

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Christmas at home can be a magical family time. But what if you won't be spending it in your own home? How do you make sure your family has a super special time without feeling like they're missing out on anything because they're not in their normal environment?

The experience of travel is a wonderful thing, whether it's a holiday to a new destination or a visit to family who live some distance away, and at Christmas time there are plenty of ways to make it feel just as magical an experience as ever. Our kids are 4 and 2, and we've spent the past three Christmases away from our family home, either because we've been away on our family gap year or else visiting (and staying with) grandparents.

So here are my top five tips for how to still have a fabulous family Christmas when you're away from home.

1. Decorate together!

a) If you're staying in holiday accommodation I understand the reluctance to spend lots on decorations you simply can't transport a…