Friday, 31 January 2014

Recipe - Stir-fry

This week we got back to one of our favourites - a good vegetable stir-fry.  

I love how healthy this meal makes me feel with all the veg in there but also it's great at this time of year as we pack in with ginger and garlic and it's a definite winter warmer.

We don't have a set recipe for this but here's what we included today - 

  • three peppers
  • a handful of mushrooms
  • a head of broccoli
  • a bunch of spring onions
  • a can of cashew nuts
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • lime juice
  • oyster sauce
  • honey
  • spices
The wok is amazing but as it's hard to find gas hobs in Germany we had to invest in a camping stove to get the best effect.  It makes cooking so much faster and tastier!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Project Life - Front Page

I was soo ready to get cracking on this new Project Life album for 2014.  I stocked up on kits over Christmas and I love the new coral kit.  The colours are vibrant yet calming.

Each kit provides its own recommended first page and I really love using them as recommended.  This one worked especially well for me and this time I really personalised it with our name and the year - making my first use of stamps in the project.

I'm really looking forward to trying new things in this album - the break has done me good.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


Since the start of the year I have been back on the yoga mat, this time indulging in some Buddha Bellies pregnancy yoga.  So far I am still on the thirty minute beginners section but I am loving it.  It's soooo relaxing and I have been doing it every Sunday so far so that I don't feel lazy when we stay in because of the weather.

In February, I will no longer be teaching on an evening so I plan to do yoga twice a week - the thrity minute session on a Wednesday afternoon and the forty five minute intermediate part on a Sunday.  I hope it will also help to prepare me for labour but at the moment I am just enjoying the relaxation both in my muscles and my mind.

Monday, 27 January 2014

It's the little things...

Keeping to my goals hasn't always been easy for me but I think I'm pretty good at it.  This year I took a step back and decided to go easier on myself given that there is going to be a lot going on.

January has already been a really productive month and something occured to me that was affirmed by this article.  Sometimes it's the little things that get forgotten when we set these big smart goals.  This month, it occured to me to clear up my shoes from our landing.  It took about a minute to do and made a huge difference to me, to Nico and to the cleaning lady.  

It was something that niggled me every time I went out or came in.  I wear the same shoes every day at this time of year yet I had at least ten thrown there.  It was so easy to deal with but took me months to do.

As a result, I am going to start getting more of these things done.  Next up is my handbag.  It annoys the hell out of me every time I try to find something small in there.  It's also starting to fall to pieces so I am going to get another one out - and have a sort out.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Notebook

We were watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother a while ago and I was gobsmacked when Nico had to ask me what a Ryan Gosling storyline was all about.  I guess I should be relieved - it is clearly a woman thing after all.  I mentioned at the time that my all time favourite film is the Notebook which is also, I believe, the reason all women fall in love with Ryan Gosling.

While stocking up for our new blu-ray player, Nico 'accidently' ordered the German version of the film and we watched it this weekend.  It turned out that he had seen it before but I have to say, I watched it with totally different eyes as a married woman and, of course, cried my eyes out more than ever at the end.
I think it's the kind of story that has something for everyone - or for every woman at least.  I say story on purpose since I also read the book and as ever, the book is even better, although for once, there's not much in it.
If you haven't seen it, welcome back for wherever you have been locked away, go out and get it immediately.  *Warning!*  Women - You will fall in love with Ryan Gosling!  Men - You might do too...

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Saturday Update

It's been another productive week around here.  Although it slowed and cooled down towards the end...

I worked a little every day to get the quilted table runner finished.

I handed over my UK driving license (sniff, sniff,) and am eagerly waiting for my new German one.  I also drove the car more and am now completely fine with driving on the 'wrong side' of the car.

We had the report meetings at work so it is a nice quiet run down to the holidays next week now.  I had to take Friday off because I have had a few headaches and dizzy spells, walking into doors and things but I am already feeling much better.  I think it was a combination of pregnancy hormones, lack of sleep and the cold weather.

Speaking of the weather, the snow arrived here this week and the temperatures have really dropped.  It's still fun watching Pete make friends with the cold, white, wet stuff on the balcony but it has put us off driving anywhere at the moment.

Next week, I will be saying goodbye to three colleagues who are retiring, we get two days off for the semester change over (really looking forward to that long weekend) and it's my final evening class for a good while.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Current Viewing - House

Being the series junkies that we are, I am surprised we didn't get around to this series sooner but we are currently devouring House.  Usually we go more for crime series and this is our first medical drama but it's impossible to stop watching the anti-hero that is House once you get started. 

I've heard the series likened to Sherlock Holmes and I totally get it.  Each case is like a mystery with the illness the suspect.  It's probably why it fit into our viewing so easily.  The characters are also really well written and likeable.  

If you haven't done it yet - take a look!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Sewing Project 2014 - 2 Quilted Table Runner

This project was the longest sewing project I have completed - it took me the best part of a week but it is the first project in Elise Blaha Cripes' brilliant 'Get Quilty' workshop and also the project I have enjoyed the most in my year with the machine.

Elise describes her first project as an Autumn table runner but given my late start on this project I decided to go with more of a Spring theme.  I love these fresh, vibrant colours and they really fit in with our room.
It was the most complicated project I have done to date but I love the way the different fabrics complement each other and also I enjoyed doing the edging on the runner - a new skill for me.

The biggest problem I have is sourcing good materials.  All but one of my materials were bought online and sometimes I get it wrong.  I would prefer to buy the products in a shop but until now I have only found one material shop in Bremen and I was really underwhelmed with their range. 
I really recommend the course and am so excited to try Elise's next project next month.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Reading LIst

How do you decide what book to read next?

At the moment, I have more than enough to read thanks to lots of lovely Christmas presents.  Above is the book I started this week and am really enjoying so far (thanks Dad).

I've always browsed the top classics lists or read books that others have bought me.  Last year I started a new little list of books that I read good things about on the blogs I read or in the news and today I decided to add this one to the list.

I completely get Sarah's point that sometimes you really have to go outside of your comfort zone.  There are several books I would not have read without the recommendations but I am really glad that I did read them.

So while I am working my way through the next sixteen or so books I have waiting, I'll be keeping up to this list too.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


...enjoying the pace of work slowing down as the end of the semester nears.

...drinking tea like it is going out of fashion.

...loving getting stuck into some sewing projects.

...enjoying driving 'on the other side'.

...having a House marathon.

...learning a little Turkish.

...relxing into pregnancy yoga on Sundays.

...reading Isabel Allende's 'The House of the Spirits'.

...eating for two - and making the most of it.

...riding a hormonal rollercoaster.

...maing plans.

...looking forward to the rest of 2014!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Lemon Cake

This weekend, I got cracking in the kitchen again with this gluten free lemon cake.  

I was inspired by a special offer in the bargain bin at the supermarket so I have to admit this was from a packet.  That did make it nice and easy though - and it was delicious.  

The mix was just 99cents.  I added butter, eggs and a bit of water, mixed and baked for an hour.  The results were delicious and I'll be enjoying it at work this week too.

I love lemon cake - fruity desserts have always been my favourite and this one didn't disappoint.  

The weekends of 2014 so far have proved very fulfilling - we're very happy nest building, baking and sewing away.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Pax Porfiriana

Yesterday I took my first daytime drive out in the new car to visit a friend for an afternoon of games.  She visited a board games convention last year and has been excited to try this new purchase ever since.

Pax Porfiriana is a board game based around cards.  I had a headache all afternoon as we deciphered the rules (we had a two player game, but up to six can play).  However, by the time we finished, I was enjoying the game more and more.

The game is based on the Mexican Revolution.  A topic I knew nothing about - in fact a topic I still know nothing about other than the fact that it was complicated!

I think it is like Siedler von Catan in that there are a lot of rules and it seems quite complex but the best way to do it is just to play and learn as you go along. 

For those who like games of strategy and have time and patience, I would recommend this game.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Saturday Update

This week truly has been a rollercoaster of a week.  I know I often say that, but I didn't think I was going to get through this week at all.

Last weekend was relaxing but at the same time we got a lot done.  I baked bread and completed another sewing project and then we got our lovely new car and both had our first drives.

Monday was a relatively normal day, also known as the calm before the storm.  I got a lot of material ordered for my next craft projects but other than that, it was just work.  

Tuesday was a crazy long day with our open evening at school.  My youngest Spanish class performed Goldilocks in Spanish twice - I was very proud of them. 

On Wednesday I had my short day at work and then the evening classes again.  I met the new teacher who will be taking over my courses for the next semesters while I go on maternity leave and he introduced himself to the classes.  Just two more weeks to go now.

Thursday was a long day at work as two of my groups wrote exams which I marked the same day and then worked out their grades so I could get all my reports finished on Thursday evening - but that is finally done too.

Friday was a nicer day because I had most things completed for the week and could finally start the weekend.

I have to say, I feel like the biggest challenge is over.  Whoever can get through a week of open evening, writing reports for 160 kids, learning to drive a left hand drive while high (or low) on pregnancy hormones can probably do just about anything!  Of course it helps to have an amazingly patient husband.

On our homebuilding front this week, 'we' have gotten the car sorted, bought and fitted a filing cabinet, bought and fitted a television and fixed up the windows in the flat.  It feels like being pregnant has finally given us the motivation so it could be a busy five months.

This weekend I am heading out to a board game session with a friend and then staying in where it is warm to hopefully complete another sewing project.

While next week will be busy with retirement surprises for our headteacher and report meetings, it can't possibly top last week so I am going to stay calm and enjoy the last full week of the semester.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Ricitos de Oro

This was my view on Tuesday evening as my year six Spanish group made me and our Spanish assistant Laura very proud on stage.

At that age it is a huge thing to get up on stage in front of strangers, but to do it in a foreign language - I don't think I could have done it at 22 never mind at 12.

They performed twice and were brilliant.  I had the idea from a project in my NQT year and I hope it is something we can keep up for open evenings in the future too.

Thursday, 16 January 2014


 At the weekend I made my first attempt at gluten free bread.  Nico has often made this for me but I wanted to attempt it myself so I don't have to pester him all the time.  He helped me follow his recipe and I was so pleased with the results.  

The recipe is Nico's own which involves replacing wheat flour with rice and cornflour and adding some xantham gum to keep the dough together.  Also, he added carrots for moisture and I love it.  It makes me feel all healthy about eating the bread (I can count it as one of my five a day!)

Nico also got creative in the kitchen and made a delicious aubergine dip which we enjoyed with the bread for Sunday lunch.  It was really nice to prepare that together.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

New Car!

One of the highlights and big changes of our year so far has been finally getting our new car.  

Our friend brought it to us on Sunday and we both had a little practice drive.  Nico has been working as hard as ever to get everything just perfect and took it for a long drive to pick up our cat, Pete yesterday.

We have always managed well without a car but we struggle with longer trips, especially when we have Pete with us and with a baby on the way, it became a necessity.  

We are really looking forward to some longer trips and holidays with the car now.  It's amazing the freedom it brings.

All that remains is for me to get used to a left hand drive now!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Little Women

I've had this book for a long time - so long that I couldn't entirely remember the story.  So while we were home at Christmas, I brought it back with me and devoured it this week.  (I was actually surprised to learn that I received this book as a Christmas present in 1993 when I was eight.)

Reading it again reminded me why I enjoyed it so much.  It is such a lovely story.  It's very moral and similar to other classics written around that time.  However, this one is more aimed at children and I love that.  

I think just about every little girl can identify with one of the main characters - sensible eldest sister Meg, tomboy Jo, sweet little Beth or proud Amy.  All of the characters develop throughout the story and it really made me look at myself too.

Every little girl should read this book.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Sewing Project 2014: 1 -Laundry Bag

I spent my Sunday afternoon cracking a new sewing project.  We are not in need of a laundry bag but this project was one of three easy ones in my new book so I decided to give it a go.

This was my first project with a drawstring and the first time I had to take off the arm of the sewing machine to do the circular parts of the project and I really enjoyed learning some new skills.

The photos don't do the project justice.  The material is plain as that was recommended for beginners but I also like the little embelishment on the back as it stands out.

I'm using the laundry bag to store sewing material for now.  I may try the project again when he baby comes for a smaller, cuter version.  Looking forward to the next project when my new materials arrive.

Sunday, 12 January 2014


On the second of January we had a lovely day trip to Knaresborough - a very picturesque Yorkshire town which we wanted Nico to see.  He got some fantastic photos as you can see here.

Posing with the stone man with Lucas and mum.

Knaresborough Castle.

Knaresborough Castle.

 Lovely view of the bridge over the River Nidd.

Climbing down from the castle to the river for lunch.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

The Saturday Update

Hello there!  It has been a very busy week around here and I made up for it with an extra long lie in this morning.  I am starting to get my energy back after the first trimester but work is managing to zap it all again in what is always the worst month of the school year for us.

At the same time, it was nice in a way to be back at work with colleagues and the kids.  On Friday we took a trip to the theater which I really enjoyed - and so did the class.

Apart from that, we (by which I mean Nico) managed to get everything sorted for our new car this week, which we should be getting on Friday.  Car insurance is a whole other world here (in England I basically compared meerkats and had it all arranged at the click of a button) and I really struggled to get my head around it.  Luckily I have an amazing husband who is way more logical and scientific than I am.

On Tuesday we had another scan.  All is on track.  We didn't get a full picture this time, we got one of the head and one of the tummy which were both measured and on track.  Now we are researching which hospital we want to go to even though here, you don't have to decide until much nearer the time.

The flat is more or less back to it's normal state with no Christmas decorations, everything unpacked and put away, and no furry beast to leave hair everywhere yet.  There are a few new additions with all our lovely gifts and 2014 goals to prepare for.  I'm really feeling good about 2014 though and I am going to enjoy this quiet weekend.

Next week is going to be even more crazy with open evening meaning two late nights, a drive to the in-laws in the new car to pick up the furry beast and a meeting with the colleague who is going to be taking over my evening classes.  I am so looking forward to getting my Wednesday evenings back even though I love the students. 

Friday, 10 January 2014

Sewing Goals

Having received this book for Christmas, I decided to invest in this tailor's dummy - I've always wanted one - and now I am inspired to get using my machine again.

I really enjoyed the projects I did last year and I with the ideas from the book and the quilting course I am taking, I am really keen to do some bigger projects, including something to wear.

With the craziness that is going to hit us this year I didn't want to set myself any unrealistic targets so I went for three projects - any more than that will be a bonus!

I'm very excited about this one - look out for the updates!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Project Life

It's been a while as I have been playing catch up following the holidays but my 2013 album is now officially finished. 

Unfortunately I hardly took any photos in the penultimate week of the year so I ended up printing out lots from our week in England and filling both weeks with that.  There's a little bit of journalling and a brief look back.

I am so excited to be carrying this project on into 2014 but I have decided to make some changes.  The big change for me will be to update every month instead of week.  It's just a fact that some weeks are quieter around here and I don't like the look of too much journalling so I hope to give myself the space to be more creative with the spreads and to really produce something that I will enjoy looking back on.

Also, this year will be much more about us as a family - I want to get more of Nico and Pete in there and obviously the baby when it arrives.

So here is to a fantastic new year - look out for the first 2014 Project Life post from me in early February.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

2014 Goals

More on some of these later in the week but for now - here are my major goals for this year.  I am cutting back a little bit for obvious reasons.  I just hope 2014 is as good to us as 2013 was!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Big News!

After holding in this news for almost four months now - and to be honest, I'd be surprised if I haven't let it slip somehow, - I can finally officially tell you...

...we are expecting our first baby in June!

We are over the moon and very excited.  The last few months have been a whirlwind of morning sickness, form filling and reading up on the subject.  We let our nearest and dearest know over Christmas and can now make it public.

Baby Baden is due on the 17th June and we are so looking forward to this next adventure!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I know we are almost a week in already but it feels like the new year is just starting for us now that we are back from our travels and back at work.  As it is the first day back and a Monday at that, I am keeping this short today but after the break I am refreshed and looking forward to sharing lots of exciting posts with you soon.  For now, stick to those resolutions and don't let the "most depressing day of the year" get you down!