Thursday, 31 July 2014

Memory Keeping

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Have you ever heard of these books? I had never seen them until I was browsing in my favourite book shop here a couple of years ago.

The one above translates roughly as 'Mummy, tell me!'. You give it to your mum and she writes answers to the questions about her past and her opinions.

There's a whole range. Nico bought them for his parents a while ago and I found an English grandmother version that my gran is slowly working her way through.

Recently, I had the chance to fill one in for Isabella. Nico has the daddy version and we bought my parents the grandma and grandad books.

It's such a lovely way to find out more about your parents and grandparents and there are questions you might otherwise not think of. It really personalises the family history for future generations. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Reading Review

Since it's the only thing I can do during the long feeds, I've been flying through some good books lately. I already wrote about Atonement but here are three more.

The Fault in our Stars

This was a purchase I made after reading all the hype around the book and film. It was a really good read but I'd expected a little more after reading so much.

The story follows a terminally ill teenager's romance and as you might expect is a tearjerker. I think the novel is aimed more at teenagers. I actually read another review lately where the reviewer identified the most with the girl's parents and I have to agree. I'd still recommend it though.

The Lincoln Myth

The latest Steve Berry book sees Cotton Malone return to the US to work on a case involving President Lincoln and the Church of the Latter Day Saints. I have always preferred the Euopean adventures but having studied American history, I found this one interesting too. 

I never normally read the authors notes but I usually have to read Berry's to seperate truth from fiction, so good is his writing. If you like Dan Brown, you'd probably like this.

Mercy

Nico recently read this book in German and bought the English translation for our anniversary. Now we are both hooked on Scandanavian writer, Adler-Olsen. 

The novel follows detective Carl Morck in his first investigation heading his own unsolved crimes department. It has many of the usual dark aspects we've come to expect from Scandanavian writers with a bit of humour from interesting characters. I'll be ordering some more soon.


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Avocado Update!

So the avocado pit is hatching! I'm not sure it looks like it should but at least it's doing something. I'm still changing out the water every two days and fingers crossed, it's working.
 Also, the lemon plants are still developing slowly.
 Nico's chilli's are looking amazing.
The tomatoes are turning red too! We've already tasted some and they are delicious.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Blasts from the past

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Recently we have been getting into some series' on DVD. First of all, Nico got Lovejoy for his birthday and we are nearly through them already. I was a bit young to remember Lovejoy but we have enjoyed watching them. It's amazing how dated they seem sometimes. It makes me wonder how new series will look in thirty years' time.

It's also fun to see so many familiar faces in their youth. The first was Dalziel of Dalziel and Pascoe fame. We bought and watched series 1 and while I still enjoyed Dalziel's brash Yorkshire style and one liners, the narratives weren't as good as I remembered.

A couple of weeks later, another familiar face popped up in Lovejoy. Sam Ryan from Silent Witness. I started watching this one a few series in when it was originally broadcast so I've now ordered series one and am hoping it is as good as I remember.

Meanwhile, we'll be finishing up Lovejoy and looking out for any other viewing ideas.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Saturday Update

We've had a brilliant week here. Monday and Tuesday were fairly quiet days getting little jobs done and working on that dress for my friend's little girl.

On Wednesday, Isabella and I had a morning out - she finally passed her hearing test and then we went shopping together.

Mum arrived on Thursday for a flying visit. She and Isabella loved each other to bits. We went to school on Friday for brunch with my class before a bit of shopping in town and a lovely lunch at Dean and David.

Today Mum flew home and we had a drive out to see some houses. The hunt goes on.

Next week will be quiet. No appointments for Isabella but I have my check up. Hoping to start a new project and fly through my latest read. Will keep you posted.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Spot the Cat

 Above you can discover Pete's latest hiding place if you look close enough.
 These two are previous favourites. He's so tricky!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Orchid Love

I'm not the best at keeping houseplants alive. The first time I bought an orchid, it went the same way as most of my other houseplants but then I heard some tips and this gift from Nico has been blooming ever since.

  • Keep it on a windowsill (ours goes crazy on this north facing windowsill).
  • Give it one shotglass of water once per week.
And that's it! There have been times when there were no flowers but I just stuck to those two rules and they came back. Try it - they're well worth it.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Sewing Project 2014: 15 - Girl's Dress

This idea came from browsing through ourcollection of craft books. I found it here. My friend's daughter turns two next month and I wanted to make her something. The instructions are aimed at making a dress for a five year old but had tips to scale it up or down.

New things for me in this project were working with elastic (I'm not sure how long it will last) and making those spaghetti straps. Unfortunately, you need to fit the straps while the child wears the dress so I'll have to send them seperate.

I'll be asking my friend for feedback - especially with the elastic but all being well, I plan to make more in future. It really was a quick and cute project!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Atonement

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I first watched this film about six years ago and quite honestly, I didn't 'get it'. I found it quite confusing and didn't really connect with the characters.

As part of my 100 classics goal, I recently read the book. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. The tragic story was compelling and I connected with all the characters, even feeling sorry for Briony. Of course, I often enjoy books more than their film adaptations. It was so good, I decided to revisit the film.

And I was pleasantly surprised! Having the whole story to mind, the film is much easier to follow and more enjoyable. I still found some of the characters difficult but on the whole it was a good experience.

I don't often read the book and watch the film so close together when I make comparisons but will be doing in future. It made the film much more enjoyable as I wasn't constantly trying to remember the book to see how true to the story they stayed.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Recipe: Tortellini Bake

Ingredients:

  • Two bags of gluten free tortellini
  • One jar of red chilli pesto
  • Gouda
Instructions:
  1. Pour the tortellini into a baking dish and stir in the pesto.
  2. Add some water and seasoning. 
  3. Cover with the gouda (either sliced or grated).
  4. Bake for about half an hour on 180 or until brown on top and bubbling through.
Tip: You could add all kinds of veg to this recipe - great for using up leftovers.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Saturday Update

We've had a lovely week here. On Monday I caught up with a friend and colleague, talking babies and planning some future outings.

Later in the week, I got back into sewing with those pyjama bottoms. The material has arrived and is prewashed and ready to go for the next project too! Friends also sent us a lovely baby crafts book so I am feeling especially inspired just now.

Isbella flew through her latest check ups on Thursday and was especially well behaved for our first day without daddy on Friday.

Today is our first wedding anniversary! We've had an incredible year. I wonder how different life will be in another year. Happy Anniversary hubby! xxx

Next week will be busy with a visit from mum (grandma), a trip to Breminale festival and a possible brunch at school. Have a great week!

Friday, 18 July 2014

30 things - Research my Family History

My interest in family history started a few years ago while I was a student. When I moved it got left behind. My files are still in England and it's harder to check the physical records from here.

With Isabella on the way, I knew I wanted to start the research again. I'm putting some files together here until I can get my older records sent over. I also have lots of resources online which I can access and build upon. First at genesreunited which is free, and ancestry which I've subscribed to because it also has access to national records.

I'm also extra lucky to have two cousins looking into two of my four main family lines who share lots of information.

Since my return to the topic, I've found out about another Isabella in our tree and that my great great great great grandfather spent time in debtors' prison!

I'm definitely going to keep digging and working on this. It's so interesting and something to pass on one day.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Sewing Project 2014 - 14:Pyjama Bottoms

Yesterday I finished my first post-natal sewing project. I've had the material for weeks and was dying to get going on this second project from Love At First Stitch. I can't recommend the book enough.

New things for me in this project included prewashing the material, ironing seams and using the overlocker machine. I learned a lot and crossed another item off my 30 things list.

I can't believe they fit! Next up is a little girl's summer dress.

P.S. The matching nail polish is pure coincidence!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Recipe: Open Tomato and Basil Sandwich

This 'recipe' is really too simple for the usual format. We have been looking for basil recipes since our plants got out of control. We've had salads and pizzas but this one may be my new favourite. I found it here. Basically you layer toast, mayonnaise, basil, tomato and seasoning. It was light and delicious.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Avocado!

Since we made that salad with avocado last week we saved the pit and we're trying to grow it. You can see the full tutorial here. It is a long process but my patience has grown with the lemon project. I'll let you know how we get on.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Weltmeister!

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I wouldn't describe myself as a football fan. I was brought up in a rugby household. However there is something special about supporting your country.

I was living in Barcelona on an Erasmus placement in 2006 which was also world cup time. It was great fun given that we had representatives from most countries there (certainly Europe and South America). Of course it was all good fun, watching the games with calamari and a Spanish beer. When Italy won, there was a huge celebration - they were probably the biggest group of students there.

This world cup will be another one which I will always remember. It started when we watched the group stage games in the hospital. The lady in our room was Columbian and her husband Spanish so between us we had four teams to champion. Despite England and Spain's performances this year, Germany did us proud and we can always tell Isabella about it.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Saturday Update

We've had a nice long quiet week. We started out with Nico's family. It was great to see Isabella bonding with more of her family. 

The weather has been really hot here so we have been trying to stay cool indoors. We got more appointments made and paperwork done. I also prepared for a couple of upcoming projects so it wasn't an unproductive week.

Yesterday was Nico's birthday. First one as a daddy. We walked to the Roland Center for a bit of shopping and a nice lunch. A friend called round in the evening.

We have no big plans for the weekend or next week, just keep doing what we are doing and keep enjoying family life.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Birth Announcements

This weekend we are sending out Isabella's birth announcements. It's so exciting sharing our happy news with friends and family. As with our wedding thank you cards, we printed the announcements at Rossmann with Fotowelt.

It took about fifteen minutes and cost around ten euros.  I love the colours which made the photo really pop. It was also really easy to personalise.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

June Project Life

As predicted, this took me a little longer this month. That was partly because everything is taking a bit longer at the moment but also because there was so much to include this month.
I started with the usual text journaling and covering what happened 'before Isabella'. I love the yellow section on the right above which recaps our last baby preparations.
The main new thing in this spread is the large family photo on the right above. I hope to get lots more of these in.
The rest of the spread was full of Isabella, and grandad's first visit. The project is finally full with people!
I love these photos and that being a daddy has gotten Nico back into photography. You can see the quality of his photos. This is also the first spread with a good mix of tablet camera photos and the Pentax.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Summer Pedicure

Finally able to comfortably reach my toes again, I tried out a new nail polish this week. I usually go for bright pinks and reds for summer but was tempted into this cool turquoise at Douglas recently and I love it. It feels bright and summery but at the same time cool and calming - just what I need right now. Will be using it lots this season.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Recipe: Avocado and Walnut Salad

Ingredients:
  • Beetroot
  • Avocado
  • Mozarella
  • Radicchio
  • Walnuts
  • Seasoning
  • Dressing
Instructions:
  1. Chop and combine all of the ingredients.
  2. Season to taste and dress with oil and vinegar to taste.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Currently...

...enjoying lots of Isabella cuddles.
...drinking lots of nursing tea.
...learning quickly how to look after the baby.
...liking having lots of family time.
...speaking (or at least hearing) lots more German.
...eating lots...still eating for two.
...indulging in most of the foods that were banned during pregnancy.
...reflecting on my past while filling this out.
...reading this.
...sleeping whenever I can!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The Saturday Update

We've had quite a busy little week around here. On Monday we got Isabella officially registered with birth certificates and entered our papers for parental leave. On Tuesday I took Isabella to visit my work and did some more official bits in the city. It was great to see friends and colleagues and of course the pupils too.

On Wednesday we had a nice quiet day to ourselves. I started filling in the baby books and other bits and bobs. On Thursday we took the baby for her hearing test but she was too unsettled. On the upside, the midwife came and she is still pleased with us.

Yesterday we got lots of jobs done in the flat before coming up to Schneverdingen for a family weekend.

Next week should be quieter with just one or two appointments. Hopefully I will be able to get started on those July goals.

Friday, 4 July 2014

My Top 3 Pregnancy Reads

If you know what a bookworm I am you will have realised that this post was coming. I've been mixing up my classic reading with some pregnancy and baby related recommendations and here are my top three so far.


This is of course the go to guide for pregnant women the world over. It's easy to see why. It answers every question you could have during pregnancy (and some that come later) without the scare mongering and contradictions you find online.

I especially loved the week and month break downs. It was exciting to track our progress and recognise that our 'symptoms' were perfectly normal. I recommend this one to all pregnant friends - luckily there is a German version. Also, I wasn't surprised to see the Spanish version in my Columbian roommate's bag at the hospital.


I think I have mentioned this one before. It's a series of letters from one mother to an expectant mother. It is a very sweet reflection on pregnancy and motherhood. Where 'What to Expect' covers the physical side of things, 'Great With Child' is more spiritual.


This is my current read. I am three days and 150 pages in and already sold enough to recommend it. It is a well researched comparison of French and American parenting styles. It is interesting to consider how English and German ideas fit in. I'm not sold on either system but there are some interesting points from both countries. It brings up lots of thoughts at what can be a confusing time for new parents.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Gone With The Wind

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It's taken me over a month but last night I finally finished this epic novel. I watched the film about four years ago when I first came to Germany and remember it being very long but either I forgot a lot of the film or the book has a lot more content and is (as usual) much better than the film.

I was only pushed towards this book as it is on the BBC top 100 list that I am working my way through (63 down now). However, I did thoroughly enjoy it. It is the epic tale of Scarlett O'Hara, set in Georgia during the American Civil War. Unlike Les Mis or Anna Karenina, the added historical element didn't annoy me, it added an extra dimension to the book. Maybe it was because I studied American history or maybe because it just flowed better with the narrative.

The characters are at times frustrating but it was also possible to identify with them at different points in the story. The narrative is interesting and really pulls you in despite its length. If you're a bookworm and into classics as I am, this is one for your list. I plan to revisit the film when I have time, in order to compare.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Gluten Free Pizza

Ingredients:

  • Gluten free pizza base
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Mixed herbs
  • Choice of toppings (mine has tuna, feta, sweetcorn)
  • Chopped onion
  • Grated gouda
Instructions:
  1. Mix the tomatoes, olive oil and mixed herbs in a bowl. Use this sauce to coat the base and allow to soak in.
  2. Add your choice of toppings.
  3. Cover with chopped onions and grated gouda.
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

July Goals

As we're still getting into a routine as a family of three, I'm keeping it simple with goals this month.

  • Complete my June project life spread
  • Tick three things of my '30 things' list
  • Complete my next sewing project - pyjama bottoms
  • Get Isabella's birth announcements made and sent