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It Turns Out You Can Go Back Home Again

Downtown Houston

Oh hello.

After a long hiatus, I find myself back here again.

I’ve wanted to come back to this space many times, but I’ve had some serious issues with WordPress security, which took a while to fix. And of course, life got in the way as usual.

Anyway, here I am again.

Twenty-seventeen brings with it a host of life events for us: Roxi’s graduation from university, a silver anniversary for me and Mr. DJ (wow, that went by in a blink!), and 10 years since our little family pulled anchor and left Houston for our expat journey.

Although we’ve been back in Houston for nearly two years, it’s only been in this last month or so that I’ve really felt like we’re home again. The first year, I was traveling to Boston frequently to help Roxi with her band. Last year, I was traveling to the Netherlands frequently to see Mr. DJ who is working on a long-term project in Amsterdam (but not living there).

However, since mid-December, I’ve only been out of town once for a short trip up to Boston. That means I’ve had a couple of months to finally sort through the piles and stacks of STUFF we left semi-unpacked. We actually moved into this house four times: 1) June 2015, our initial move (new furniture and beds), 2) July 2015, our move from Boston, 3) May 2016, our move from deep storage, and 4) June 2016, Roxi’s move from Boston. From May 2015 to now, we basically have been living in a glorified storage unit!

It does feel good to get rid of some the boxes and to be brutally honest with the things we had in storage. Even though we did a hard-hearted deep storage cull when we moved back from the UK in 2013, I have found carloads of stuff to take to the charity shops and even more I wish we could let go of but don’t have the nerve to do so YET (working on those sentimental feelings). I still have much to unpack/organize. My studio remains in boxes, and I have too many large plastic bins labeled “SAVE: MEMORIES”, which is code for “25 years of things I don’t have the heart to throw away”. Any tips on how to deal with stuff like that?

I hope 2017 will be the year we will finally feel settled in our home. In addition to all of the traveling we’ve been doing, last year we had about six months of living with the possibility of moving back to London. Naturally, we didn’t want to unpack our things only to have to repack and send the stuff back to storage. That move seems to be off the table now. Honestly, we’re glad about that. It took living away from Houston for eight years to really appreciate everything that our hometown has to offer.

Now we can genuinely say it’s good to be back.


Here we go again

20150416_Yaz Cowan_0011-Edit smallerA beautiful flowering tree in the Boston Commons. Man, it sure was a long and brutal winter.

It’s been nearly two years to the day since I’ve posted on this blog. There must be something in the air this time of year, because I desperately wanted to write something here yesterday, only I couldn’t find my password. *cough*

Anyway, wow. Two years, gone in a blink. Maybe one day I’ll go back and fill in the details, but let’s just say I’ve been doing a lot with music business and photography. 

The main thing I wanted to announce is Mr. DJ and I are doing something that I swore we wouldn’t do. We’re moving back to Houston! Roxi will be staying in Boston to finish up her four remaining semesters at Berklee College of Music. I’ll be shuttling back and forth for gigs and photo shoots. But yeah, Mr. DJ and I are going to set up a base in Houston. We’ve pinky-promised that this isn’t the end of our travels. In fact, we’re hoping we’ll be doing MORE traveling in the near future. Now is just kind of a good time to sink some roots, spend some time with our extended families, and to be totally honest, never have to go through a New England winter again.

I am really, really (REALLY) hoping to have more time to blog. And I mean really. So, I hope to see you here again soon xo


As we come full circle

flowering in Spring

Well, hello.

It’s been quite a while since I was here last–about 15 months, actually. That break was a bit longer than I had intended… oops! One of the hardest things about getting back to blogging after such a long hiatus is, of course, there is so much to catch up on. But never mind, we shall get caught up eventually.

But the real reason for my return to the blogosphere (is it even still called that?) is we got some big news over the Easter holiday–Roxi was accepted to her dream university, Berklee College of Music. In Boston. Yeah, that’s right, in the good ol’ U S of A.

So guess what? Yep, we are ALL moving to Boston this summer. Repatriating* after nearly six and a half years. I’ll let you know how it goes xD

*Let the “moving to the colonies” jokes begin!



A few milestones

Well, hello there! Happy New Year, one month in ;) It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I hope all of you have been well.

I took a few pictures when I went to Guildford this week. I haven’t been taking a lot of photos lately, mostly because I’ve been working on my Berklee music biz classes (that means staying at home to study most of the time!!!). The photog work I have done has been Roxi-related, either for her solo project or for her various bands.

But when I went into Guildford the other day to do a bit of shopping, I decided to take along my handy little point and shoot in the hopes that I would slow down enough to look around. I almost forgot to take photos, though! I was out for about an hour when I realized. Oops! I guess I’m a little bit out of practice.

These days, so much of my time outside of my house has been spent running errands, dashing here and there, missing all of the details that I would have noticed nearly five years ago when we first moved to England. Can you believe it? Five. Years. And JaPRA is five years old too. Some of you have been here since the very beginning. Thank you for that, my friends x :)

Abbot Hospital, established 1619.

On a cold day in mid-February 2007, I walked very slowly around the Parliament buildings in London and thought, “I should never, ever take it for granted that I’m living overseas. I will always remember this thrill of living in such an incredible place.”

Angel Posting House has a stone vault undercroft that dates back to 1300. I think there are supposed to be ghosts here too!

Well, five years later I probably have taken all this a tiny bit for granted. Especially since I’ve been on a hiatus from the blog. The nice thing about photography is it forces you to slow down and really look. And the nice thing about blogging is it gives you a chance to think. I’m hoping to get back to this space, at least on a weekly basis. I’m down to my last four classes for my certification program at Berklee, and I’ve decided to take only one class at a time instead of doubling up. I’m striving for a bit more balance this year ;)

And one last milestone… this girl is turning 17 on Saturday. She’s an incredible person, a talented musician, a smart chickie, and the dearest daughter and friend. I’m so proud of her. Happy Birthday, Roxi girl!! xxx


Hello, hello, hello, hello

Stand well away from Platform 3. The approaching train is not scheduled to stop.

Thanks for stopping by! I’m sure you’ve already noticed, but I’m taking a little break from my blog while I work on another BIG project. I’m still hanging around the web, though. You can find me here: * Band Mum Twitter * and if you are interested in what my “BIG project” is, check it out! :) I’m not through with JaPRA yet, so I hope you’ll subscribe to the blog for future posts. Take care and see you soon!


She smelled a rat

Since winter, Trudy has been one obsessed dog.

You see, almost as soon as the weather turned cold, we started hearing little scratches coming from the utility room, behind the baseboards, behind one of the cabinets in the kitchen, under the floor in the entry hall.

And it made Trudy crazy, especially since with the scratches came a horrible smell. We couldn’t detect it with our lame human noses. It’s just that Trudy’s sniffer contains 200 million receptors. And frankly, that horrible smell was just plain offensive to her.

So finally, after months of nagging (from Trudy), we got an electric rat trap. Mr. DJ installed it last weekend and checked it every day. Everyday it was empty.

Until yesterday morning.

After making some coffee, I sat down on the couch in the conservatory to read. Normally Trudy would come over and sit or lie next to me, but yesterday, Trudy would not stop smelling the cabinet where we put the trap*. She kept pointing at it and kept telling me there was something in there.

But after all these months of her whining and pointing, we got kind of immune to her antics. After about 20 minutes of doggy pleading–gosh Mom, you are SO dense!–I gave in and I told Mr. DJ that Trudy was pretty sure there was something in the trap. He didn’t believe her either, having just checked the trap earlier; however, sometimes it’s good to humour the dog. So he checked anyway. Sure enough, there was a huge rat! GOOD DOG!!

So Trudy is our hero. From now on, her calling card will read: Trudy, bug and rat huntress.


*If anyone is wondering, we got this trap.  We really didn’t want to have to use one, but the rat got into some of our food… Anyway, we thought this was better than poison or any of the other traps.


How have you all been doing these last SIX weeks?!

Gosh, I can’t believe it’s been six weeks since I last posted here. I’ve really missed you all! I am finally getting the hang of things with my online school. Plus we’re finally done with some of the harder things in music business like contracts and copyrights. I won’t say I know all of that stuff intimately, but I know a heck of a lot more than I did a month and a half ago!

Anyway, I think my school load will be a lot better from here on out. I hope to be back here on JaPRA at least once a week. Mondays seem to be good days, since it’s the day after all the major homework is due. So I’m going to try to get back to weekly postings going forward.

Meanwhile, here’s what we’ve been up to. I hope to put up more detailed posts in the weeks to come.

We went to Greece for Spring Break! We stayed in Athens and did day trips from there.

One day we went to the lovely, lovely island of Hydra. We didn’t want to leave, it was so relaxing.

Another day, we woke up really early and took the bus to see the oracle at Delphi. She wasn’t in, unfortunately, but what a stunning place!

Late last month, we tagged along on one of Mr. DJ’s business trips to Amsterdam! Roxi and I spent a beautiful afternoon with Aledys Ver and Presepio Canal. Roxi also got to spend a fun afternoon with some of her friends from her old school.

Let’s see, what else? Roxi took one of her exams at the new testing centre in London last week. And we found Spitlefield’s Market near the Liverpool Underground. It’s a great place for lunch and a little shopping if you’re in the area. I posted a few snapshots on my JaPRA Facebook page (I don’t think you have to be a FB user to see it).

Okay, that’s all for now. Hope you all are well and see you here next Monday! x


We sprang forward and a jumble of other things

Finally back in British Summertime, and boy is it nice to have that extra hour of daylight at the end of the day. We’ve been having such BRILLIANT weather too!

And obviously our plants are loving the sunshine. Aren’t they blooming nicely?

The top photo is a flowering tree of sorts, kind of magnolia-like, but not as big and waxy as the ones in Texas.

The bottom photo is of our quince tree. Very pretty! Our pear tree is just starting to think about blooming, so it shouldn’t be long now.

I know I’ve been very, very, very quiet here on the blog. I have at least two more Portugal posts to put up, but I’ve been rather busy with my ongoing project. It’s a collaboration. Wanna see?





If you haven’t already guessed, those are all Roxi’s music related pages! I seem to have fallen into a new role, that of artist manager/marketer, which isn’t very much of a stretch really. However, the business end of things is definitely new to me.

To help speed things along, I decided to enroll in a couple of business classes through Berklee Schoool of Music online. I’m actually going to do the Music Business Master Certificate program. I think (hope!) it’ll take me about a year and a half to finish the course.

Classes start on Monday, so between that and trying to apply what I learn in real time, things are going to get pretty busy here at the JaPRA house. I’ll probably be scaling back quite a bit on this blog and do a bit more micro-blogging on my JaPRA Facebook Page. And if you’re keen to talk music and music business, I have a different Facebook page dedicated to just that: The Band Mum.

But before I rush off, here’s a funny little expat story for you:

Roxi and I took the train to our old town last week so we could attend the Spring musical at her old school. But to get there, we needed to take a taxi from the train station. After we told the driver where we wanted to go, he asked us where we were from.

I answered, “Smalltown, England”.

He said, “I don’t think that is a Smalltown, England accent I’m hearing!”

I laughed and said, “Oh, yeah. We’re from the States.”


LOL! I guess that is my “going local” moment of truth. There have been two other markers for me:

1) When I stopped converting from $ to ₤ (that took about a year)

2) When I stopped feeling homesick (that took about a year and a half!)

If you’re an expat, or if you have ever moved from home, what was your “going local” defining moment?


Portugal: Sintra

I don’t have a lot of photos from Sintra. It poured the ENTIRE time we were there and after a while, I gave up trying to keep my camera dry. But trust me, you want to go! The entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage site–well deserved.

If you’re visiting Sintra as a day trip from Lisbon, be sure to leave early so you have enough time to see what you want to see. There is a lot of walking involved (and some hill walking, don’t be surprised!), so you’re going to want to plan on more time than you think. We only had enough time to see the Palácio Nacional da Pena (Pena Palace) and Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors), but after being absolutely soaked to the bone, that was pretty much all we wanted to see–haha!

The Pena Palace looks like a fairytale castle. When we arrived, we got Mad King Ludwig vibes and no wonder! This castle was built buy his cousin King Ferdinand II of Portugal in the 19th century. The best part about this palace–especially if you have kids or are a kid at heart–is it is basically a big  play fort. The wall walk is rather exciting and offers nice views–especially when the clouds cleared. The inside is nice as well–lots of interesting furniture and decor. However for us, the exterior was the best part.

View of the Castle of the Moors from the Pena Palace.

The town of Sintra. Oh how I wished we had had more time to explore!

The Castle of the Moors originally was built more than a thousand years ago. If I understand correctly, the walls and towers were rebuilt by King Ferdinand II. It is all very well done and SO much fun to trek around. We were the only ones crazy enough to go up there during the downpour, but it was so worth it. Mr. DJ and Roxi were sure that the rain and whipping wind only added to the atmosphere.

The wall walk is pretty exciting–no guardrails. If you love that wild, rugged middle ages sort of thing, this is for you! It definitely fuels the imagination :-)

Looking back at the Pena Palace (what we could see of it) ;)


Trudy starring in “Yay! It’s Spring!!”