Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Saturday Update

We have had a lovely week here despite some disappointing weather midweek.

Last Sunday we had a lovely morning walk to exercise our voting rights. Later, I finished my quilting project. Still love it!

Monday was a nice quiet day with just my new usual routine, shopping, cooking, reading.

Mum arrived Tuesday afternoon. I treated her to a belated mother's day massage and had my second acupuncture session. In the morning we'd had a good check up at the doctors. I'll be back next week now that the due date is creeping closer.

On Wednesday we went shopping, had a lovely cup of tea and gluten free cake in Fischerhude and finished packing the hospital bag.

We headed out to visit Nico's family on Thursday. It was a bank holiday so things were quiet and it was a nice drive. Nico's mum and grandma had prepared all sorts of baby things so we had lots to bring back. On the way back we researched some areas for our house search.

Yesterday we got the baby's room cleaned and set up. Pete is completely thrown with all the changes and mum here but he's okay. The room looks great so we are all set up now. We shopped for a couple more bits yesterday afternoon and then had a lovely dinner at a Greek restaurant in Findorf. 

Not sure what we are doing today yet but mum leaves this evening so we'll make the most of her last day and the nicer weather. Then we have a couple of quiet days before the appointments start again next week.


Friday, 30 May 2014

Nursery

As my mum is visiting, we took he opportunity to get the baby's room ready. We're still waiting for an Ikea delivery and the rest of the baby washing to dry but other than that, we are all set.

We are very lucky that Nico's family kept lots of baby things so we have lots. That crib is the one that both Nico and his mother slept in as babies. I think it's lovely to keep the tradition and love the neutral colours.

So, just a little reminder baby B, we are ready when you are!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Hospital Bag

It's taken a while but the hospital bag is finally packed and ready. For first time parents, it's hard to know exactly what to take and what to leave at home. I found lots of good advice here and here

We are also very lucky here in Germany that the hospital provides everything for the baby and me until we leave so we don't have to squeeze in nappies, wipes etc.

I'll update over the summer what we actually used and what we didn't need so watch out for that and in the meantime, baby B can make an appearance whenever he or she likes!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A Streetcat Named Bob

Just started the sequel - The World According to Bob!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Sewing Project 2014 - 9 Quilt!

When I started the quilting project back in January, May seemed a long way away. How the time has flown! This final piece was always the big goal which made it seem a bit scarier than it was. I LOVE the finished product (I loved all five of the projects). 
The plan was to make something neutral using pieces of all the material I had from all of my projects this year and last. I think it turned out a bit more girly than planned but I also find it nice and summery and look forward to making another for the baby at some point.
It's not perfect but again, the imperfections make it more personal and more perfect to me. I am especially pleased with the binding. It didn't go very well on my table runner back in January but I learnt from that and really took my time on the quilt - it was worth it.

I can't recommend Elise's course enough. I consider myself a beginner and, as I keep saying, completed, love, and use all five projects. I also personalised all of them in one way or another. The price is very good value and the course is easy to follow.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Recipe: Pasta Bolognese

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Handful of mushrooms
  • 125g beef mince
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • Splash of vinegar
  • Pasta
  • Seasoning
  • Parmesan cheese
Instructions:
  1. Brown the onion, garlic, mince and mushrooms.
  2. Add the tomatoes, puree and seasoning and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta as per instructions.
  4. Serve the pasta and sauce topped with parmesan.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

30 things... Watch Grey's Anatomy

For my birthday on 2nd April I received series 1 - 9 of Grey's Anatomy. We are definitely series junkies but this was one we never got around to and now I don't know how we avoided it for so long! We finished series 10 yesterday and are now eagerly awaiting the recently approved series 11. 

What I loved about this show is that it really keeps you on your toes - the drama is excellent. I don't want to include any spoilers on here in case you haven't seen it but I will say that the end of series 5 was the first time I can remember actually shouting out loud in shock. I'm still not over it!

The characters are well written but this is one of the only series where I actively hate the main character. Meredith Grey made me cringe for women everywhere throughout the ten series. Luckily the other characters gave the show some balance.

If you haven't seen it, get your hands on it, but be warned - it's addictive!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Saturday Update

Well, it's been a busy little week around here. Last weekend we headed over to visit friends for a lovely barbecue in the gorgeous weather. After lunch we headed over to the local kids' petting farm for a flea market. We didn't find anything to buy as it was really for older kids but it was nice to have a walk in the sun.

On Monday afternoon I had the final session of my prenatal course. I feel much more prepared after the course. We went over breathing techniques and different positions and exercises for labour. The midwife also gave us lots of practical tips and information about breastfeeding. Lots to take in but it means I can prepare better so I am happy.

I finally got around to starting work on the quilt on Tuesday and I am hoping to finish it this weekend. It would have been quicker but the hot weather has really taken some of the wind out of my sails.

As I posted, Wednesday was my first acupuncture session. I'm booked in for a session with another midwife on Tuesday while mine is on holiday so looking forward to that.

On Thursday we went to the hospital to set up a file and a bit of a birthing plan. Again, this was very reassuring and we even got a few bits at the baby shop on the way home. I've ordered some bigger bits from Ikea so we are getting there!

My back has been quite painful lately so I was up early yesterday to go swimming with a friend and it brought some very welcome relief. We will be doing it again for sure. I also started packing my hospital bag yesterday so it started feeling very real. 

We are having a quiet one this weekend. My mum is visiting next week and my plan is to finish getting the necessities and packing for the hospital so that we can relax!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Hello Summer!

With temperatures hitting 30 degrees here, it's safe to say that Summer is just about here. I love Summer but have never done well with the higher temperatures and I can't say that it is any better with a bump in tow. Cue lots of water, ice cream and shade for me. However, I don't want to be negative so here are some of my favourite things about this time of year.
  • Longer days, mornings are so much more bearable and everything just feels more positive with so much light!
  • Summer food - my fruit and veg intake spikes with the hot weather and I feel so much better for it. Also, there's always an excuse for a cheeky ice cream break or two.
  • Swimming! I'm hitting the pool for the first time in a long time today and the added bonus is the number of outdoor pools here in Germany - can't wait!
  • Sun cream. I love the smell of sun cream. It immediately puts me into holiday mode. So many beach holiday memories.
  • Fashions - even when it comes to maternity wear, I love loose, comfy summer dresses. They keep you cool and looking feminine and there's less washing without all the winter layers and socks.
I hope it's as sunny and bright wherever you are!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

30 Things...Try Acupuncture

source
Yesterday I had my first acupuncture session. My midwife recommended it as it is supposed to prepare the body for labour and make it go smoother and faster when it does come. She told us that the needles were placed on the legs but otherwise I had no idea what to expect.

She started by explaining that acupuncture is a way to transfer energy and information between my physical and spiritual bodies. I was sat in a chair and had to practise the labour breathing techniques, which are like those used in yoga, in order to ground myself.

Three needles were then inserted into each leg. Two on the outside below the knee and one on the inside above the ankle. They were left there for about half an hour. When she was searching for the points I could feel when she had found them. It's hard to explain but it almost tingles, then she puts the needle in. It doesn't really hurt. You're not allowed to move and you don't feel them the whole time.

When the needles come out, it may bleed a little but it stops quickly, the marks fade quickly and so does the feeling. 

I'm on weekly sessions from now until labour starts. It's hard to tell what effect it has had until we see how labour goes...I'll let you know!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Just Get Started!

Anyone who knows me, knows how good I am at making lists. To do lists, goals lists, gratitude lists... the list is endless!

What I need to work on is getting through those lists. Some months I have everything wrapped up in a week and sometimes I procrastinate like you wouldn't believe, making excuses to push things another month.

Entering my third week of maternity leave, I can't use work as an excuse and to be fair, this has been a very productive month with just one thing left to tick off.

I've been taking a quilting course since the start of the year, doing one project a month. This month it's the big one and even though I love the creative process and I love the finished products, there's just something daunting about taking that first step... 

Luckily I got up early yesterday, got my head around the numbers part and what do you know, the top layer is almost finished. At this rate, the whole thing will be done by the weekend!

The lesson I learned, and what I'm trying to pass on today, is just to get started. I guarantee any project seems more daunting when you are sat thinking about it than when you are in the middle of it - any project worth doing that is. Enjoy it!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Reading Round-up

Great with Child - Beth Ann Fennelly

I picked this book up on a tip from one of my favourite bloggers who had a baby last summer and I wasn't disappointed. The book is a series of actual letters sent from the author to a friend over the course of the friend's pregnancy.

It covers a range of topics, both practical and emotional relating to pregnancy and motherhood. I really enjoyed it and will recommend it to all mothers-to-be.

The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson

This was top of the best sellers list here in Germany. I used the last of my Christmas vouchers to buy it and read it in German. At first, I found it very hard to get into but once I got going I couldn't put it down. 

It tells the very story described in the title and features flashbacks throughout the man's life. It reminded me a little of Forrest Gump. By the halfway point it was almost like reading two stories and both kept me on the edge of my seat. Very good read.

Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

Back to the BBC top 100 challenge with this 'classic'. I'm afraid it also took some getting into and I only really continued past a certain point because I refuse to give up once I have started a new book. 

It's also set in the period between World War One and World War Two and focuses on the lives of some upper class characters. The story basically follows their lives over that period. It provided an insight into a very specific time and class but otherwise held very little interest for me. 

To be honest, I never really 'got' The Great Gatsby and this was like an English version of that for me.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Recipe: Courgette, Pea and Parmesan Pilaff

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Turmeric and Cumin
  • 2 mugs basmati rice
  • Small glass white wine (optional)
  • Vegetable stock
  • 1 courgette, cubed
  • 220g can chickpeas
  • Frozen peas
  • Fresh coriander
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
Instructions:
  1. Brown the onion in the oil with the turmeric and Cumin.
  2. Add the rice, wine, stock, 4 mugs of water, courgette, chickpeas and coriander. Season and bring to the boil.
  3. Cover the pan, turn the heat down (gas mark 3 or 4) and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked and water absorbed. 
  4. Stir in the cheese and serve.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Painting

While I was trying new things out last week, I also got the paints out and did some experimenting. I still get lots of inspiration from other bloggers. It felt great to create something from nothing and I really love the colour combination.

I have plans to use painting in my next batch of birthday cards. I have plans to try writing with paints. I plan to find lots more subjects and types of paint and I'll be sharing the outcomes of those plans here.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The Saturday Update

Of course my first full week of maternity leave has flown by.

Last weekend we were at Nico's parents' house and his cousin's confirmation. It was really nice to see the family and of course, there was lots of baby talk. We brought back the family crib and Nico's mum is going to come and help us set it up soon.

Monday was my checkup and the second prenatal course. Both went well. I'm feeling more prepared all the time - just waiting for the panic to set in!

On Tuesday I finally finished he clutch bag and I'm still loving it. We've been eating more healthily all week and I'm generally enjoying daily walks to the supermarket and cooking.

I cracked out the paints on Wednesday and hot some new ideas flowing. I'm keen to keep that up while I am off and make he most of this time.

Thursday was like weekend as it is Nico's day off. We started a little bit of house hunting, so I guess the nesting is starting!

Friday was a slow day. The weather was gorgeous but I felt a little out of it and tired. Maybe my hayfever is starting... However, I did finish my latest book (5 days for a novel in German) so that was my achievement of the day.

Today I am planning to bake and maybe have a friend over later. Tomorrow we are visiting friends for a baby flea market and a barbecue (weather permitting). Then we have various appointments set up for next week but I'll be finding time for cooking, crafting and projects too. Have a good one!

Friday, 16 May 2014

3 unexpected pregnancy experiences

source
When we found out we were pregnant back in October, there were many things that I was completely prepared for - morning sickness, cravings, a tidal wave of emotions. However, there are some things that just don't seem to be discussed. Don't worry if you are eating while reading this...I'm not going down that road - the women of the family will fill you in on those details. Here are three things that I didn't hear about in advance.

1. Joint Pains

Especially in the hips. Completely logical and manageable and I'm not complaining (I feel truly blessed by this pregnancy), but the biggest barrier to my getting sleep lately are the hip and knee pains which mean I constantly have to change sides. I just keep focusing on the fact that the more preparation my body does now, the easier labour should be.

2. Not eating for two

Okay, so I know I am eating for two but when I imagined his third trimester I thought our food bills would be doubled and I'd be eating everything in sight. However, I just can't! I'm eating enough and putting on weight but it's on more of a 'little and often' basis. At a family celebration over the weekend we went for a three course meal and I had to give up half way through because of my circulation. Also, it makes sense when I think how squashed up my stomach must be, wherever it is now. 

3. No panic!

I've had the hormone waves and huge emotional highs and lows over the last seven months but I expected that by the time I hit maternity leave I would be nesting and panicking like mad. Maybe this will still hit in the next five weeks but at the moment we're taking it all in our stride. We still haven't store bought anything and the 'nursery' is still stood there empty. So far I'm quite the hippy - things will be done when they need to be done. Panic will not help! 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Marbling!

I read this post a while ago and with the time, energy and materials to try it, I finally got around to it this week.

It combined one of my ‘30 things‘ goals (trying a new craft medium), making my June birthday cards and listening to some music with the bump (I'm sure this baby will be a professional dancer one day).

The whole technique is tricky and I underestimated just how messy but I'm pleased with the results. I found it easier to work with cooler water so that the colours didn't clump on the stick (see Elise's tutorial for instructions and better examples).

I would have liked to take more photos of the process but it's good for my tablet that I didn't. I did ruin one Tupperware, one pair of washing up gloves and a sponge. I also suspect I'm high from nail polish and spiritus fumes and may be in big trouble with the hubby when he gets home...we'll see.

I'm also not sure I like the cards that picked up less colour but they are growing on me and I love the colour combination which was coincidence based on what was in my collection.

I recommend this craft idea but recommend you use disposable gloves, containers, etc and open all the windows!


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Currently...

...making the most of maternity leave.
...reading this in German like a machine.
...finishing up some projects.
...starting some new ones.
...cooking lots of healthy meals.
...hearing little tweets from the bird box outside.
...eating lots of fresh fruit.
...preparing for a new arrival.
...watching season nine of Grey's Anatomy.
...getting daily fresh air but...
...hoping for better weather soon.
...feeling more creative and refreshed.
...listening to more music.
...enjoying the little kicks.
...catching up with family and friends.
...smiling more.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Sewing Project 2014 - 8 Foldover Clutch Bag

Another project from Elise's quilting course done and I am in love with it yet again.
This project seemed especially fiddly. It took so long because I ordered the double sided zipper from America and I spent the whole time worrying that it was going to look terrible. Then on the final stretch I managed to break a needle on the zipper (this was a first for me, luckily the machine came with spares and I'm quickly learning how to deal with zippers). I had the same worries with the cushion and zipper and I am still in love with that one too.

Despite all the worry, the finished product is brilliant. I'm so pleased with the bag. It's reversible and I can't decide which I like best! Elise is a fantastic teacher and I am so looking forward to the final project this month!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Recipe: Chorizo Chilli

Ingredients:

  • 1onion
  • Butter
  • 75g bacon (optional)
  • Small pack of chorizo
  • Kidney beans
  • Butter beans
  • Sweetcorn
  • Green pepper
  • 3 tomatoes
  • A splash of vinegar
  • Spices (salt, paprika, garlic, caraway, habanero)
  • Tomato puree
Instructions:
  1. Brown the chopped onion in the butter.
  2. Chop the chorizo and bacon and brown with the onions.
  3. Add the beans, chopped vegetables and tomato puree. (I leave the water in the beans, if you prefer to drain them you can add water to the pan.)
  4. Spice to taste.
  5. Simmer for around twenty minutes. Check the spices and serve.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Reading Review

Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

This was the first book I read using the kindle app and I loved that. I liked this novel but it was quite different from the classics I am used to. It follows the story of Tess and her complicated marriage and life. It really shows how difficult those times were or women.

What I found different in this novel was how descriptive it was. The story or action was quite slow and not at all character driven. Sometimes it was a little too slow but it didn't wander into the realm of whole irrelevant chapters like 'Les Mis' or 'Anna Karenina'. Overall a nice read.

Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier

I'd heard of this book but knew nothing about it until I started reading. It was completely addictive. It really reminded me of Downton Abbey but with a lot more mystery. It was another interesting take on marriage. 

The narrative kept me on the edge of my seat guessing away the whole time. I'd highly recommend this novel.

A Street Cat Named Bob - James Bowen

We spotted this little gem shopping for a German book with my Christmas vouchers and didn't know it was originally English. It was up in the bestsellers here along with its newly released sequel.

It tells the story of a ginger cat named Bob and how he found and changed the life of his owner (the author). It's a fairly regular biography but had me laughing, crying, and on the edge of my seat. I'm not sure if the book would hold the same appeal for non-cat-lovers but I suspect it would. It took me three days to devour - in German. Very excited about the sequel!


Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Saturday Update

Maternity leave is brilliant! I had a lovely start to the week with my last two days at work. Tuesday really took it out of me though. It was a long day with no break, finishing at six but the good news was that they found a replacement for me so I managed to hand over the reins at the last minute and go on maternity leave with a clean conscience. 

Everyone was really kind and sweet. My class gave me lots of flowers and lovely messages. The last lessons went really well too. I'm already relaxing into my leave but I think I will also be really ready to go back next year and I'm already looking forward to visiting too.

On Monday I had my first prenatal class. It was equal measures reassuring and scary but I do feel great for being more informed. There are five of us in class and I'm the furthest along. I'm really looking forward to the next two weeks and hopefully trying some acupuncture.

I've read a lot (discovering Bob the Big Issue Cat - more tomorrow) and got lots ticked off my to do lists in the last few days so that I can wind down even more this month.

Today we are heading up to Nico's parents for his cousin's confirmation on Sunday. On Monday we have our next check up as well as the next prenatal class. The rest of the week will be spent crafting and relaxing.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Project Life: April

 I'm sooo excited about this project this month. It took me a while to get around to it because I knew what I wanted to do but wasn't sure how to make it work. Yesterday was Nico's day off and he was kind enough to help me.

One of the reasons I really wanted a tablet was to jump on the instagram bandwagon. I knew I would use the opportunity to take more photos and I loved some of the effects I have seen others use.

This month I took advantage of the instagram format to put together a square collage you can see above and below. On the left I used the usual format with the calendar and lots of journaling. 
For the collage I grouped the photos into similar themed rows (knitting, baking, Dad's visit...). Then I got creative with some of my other crafting resources. I used the letter stickers and washy tape to complete the front and another new stamp to complete the back.

I don't plan to do this every time but I do love the effect and plan to incorporate more square photos into future spreads.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Recipe: Pasta Carbonara

Ingredients:


  • Pasta
  • Bacon
  • Spring onions
  • 125g Cream cheese
  • 100ml milk
  • Parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • Garlic
  • Seasoning
Instructions:

  1. Cook the pasta according to instructions.
  2. Brown the bacon, spring onions and garlic in a pan.
  3. Combine the bacon mix with the cream cheese, egg and milk in a bowl.
  4. Drain the pasta and return to the pan with the other ingredients for two to three minutes.
Tip: we usually use creme fraiche instead of cream cheese and milk and we sometimes add peas or mushrooms for extra veg.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Spanish Tip

Even though I won't be teaching for a while now, I'm always on the look out for new tips and resources. The same colleague who put me onto Babbel for my Turkish, also put me onto this teaching resource for Spanish.

It's a series set in Barcelona about an American learning Spanish. It's very visual and the actors don't talk too fast so the pupils really had understood a lot when I questioned them after the first episode. 

It's designed for English speakers but it's simple enough for our German pupils too. Have a look!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Edible Garden Update



Following our success with the basil I have made a couple of new additions to my gardening projects.

We have started growing parsley on the balcony again following our success with this in previous years too. The box is on the floor because Pete saw the 'empty' box as a good spot to plant himself while bird watching.
As a new little project from my gardening book I have also attempted to plant a lemon tree. Fingers crossed on that one.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Recipe: Plain Madeleines

Following on from the success of the Nutella Madeleines, I wanted to try tweaking the recipe a little. I had planned to make these more lemony but the ground lemon spice didn't have the effect I wanted so I'll keep working on that.

Ingredients:

  • 75g butter (melted)
  • 75g sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 75g cornflour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
Instructions:
  1. Mix the sugar and eggs in a mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients, adding the butter at the end.
  3. Bake at 180 degrees for ten minutes.
Tip: these were very plain for my sweet tooth so I mixed some icing sugar with a little water to top some of the cakes.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

The Saturday Update

It's been a fairly slow week here with our extra long bank holiday weekend. The relaxation has been great and we still got lots done.

Monday started out with our latest scan and check up. The baby has turned and is ready now so I guess we should start getting ready too. Just six weeks to our due date now! Then it was work as normal on Monday and Tuesday. 

Tuesday was also the start of parent meetings that went late so I was exhausted and doubly glad for the short week and a delicious home cooked dinner.

Wednesday was a nice short day at work with no teaching - just more meetings in the morning.

Over the last couple of days we have done some jobs around the flat, baked, watched up to season seven of Grey's Anatomy (o addictive!), read a lot and crafted a bit. The weather has been miserable but the sun is out this morning so we can enjoy that too now. 

I finish work on Tuesday for maternity leave - that has come around scarily fast. The birthing course with the midwife starts on Monday and there are still a fair few job to get done around here so I plan on keeping busy while I still can!

Friday, 2 May 2014

May Birthdays

Mayday was a quiet but productive day around here. I got lots ticked off my lists including the birthday cards for this month. 

I used some of the new materials again and played around with layers and names. I'm planning on searching out a little more card stock before next month so that I can work on better cards for men again.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

May Goals

Here are my goals for this month:


  • 3 of 30 things from my list
  • Update my email contacts
  • Plant a lemon plant
  • Visit the hospital to set up a birthing plan
  • Make a quilt
  • Write a baby to do/buy list
  • Update my birthday calendar
  • Put up the new DVD case
  • April project life
  • May birthdays
  • Parental forms
  • Finish the quilted clutch
So quite a busy month ahead but with just two days to work I hope it will be achievable! I'm off to get started.