Saturday, 12 December 2015

The Saturday Update

What a week! After a lovely family day on Sunday, Isabella was sick all over the door step just in time to scare off some St Nicholas carolers.

In the end, we've all been off ill part of the week. I worked Monday and Friday and Isabella was only at nursery Friday which meant that she unfortunately missed her St Nicholas breakfast on Friday but she made up for it at home.

In between, we got more Christmas prep done which means I just need to do a bit more ordering and making and we'll be ready.

Next week is our last full week and we're hoping to catch up with various friends.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Christmas Music

Having seen the Coca-cola advert and hearing Germany's Xmas favourite - Last Christmas by Wham on the radio, I'm ready to say it's Christmas though I am still waiting for the big one:

I've got my xmas videos lined up for school so it won't be long until I get to enjoy it.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Currently...

...delving into family history.
...sewing like a machine.
...preparing for another busy Christmas.
...getting over another nursery induced illness
...drinking lots of coffee.
...eating all the mince pies.
...writing cards and letters.
...planning exciting things for 2016.
...enjoying giggles with Isabella.
...reviewing Isabella's year in photos - can't believe the difference in her!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Christmas Cards

Since living in Germany, I've always made my own Christmas cards. I enjoy it and had some new ideas this year but with everything going on, I haven't had time and I'd rather get something out on time than nothing at all.

I decided that if I was going to buy cards, they should be charity ones and promptly sought out three charities with cards on Amazon - Alzheimers, Cancer UK, and Strokes. Unfortunately, when I went to check out, it would have cost more to have the cards sent to me than it would to buy them in the first place.

Finally I went on the German Amazon site where the choice of charities is much more limited, and ordered three packs for children's charities.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

St Nicholas' Day

Sunday was Saint Nicholas' Day and it's a really big deal here in Germany.

Children leave their shoes outside and in the morning, they are magically filled with gifts.

We saw family on Sunday and were well and truly spoilt. Isabella received a Christmas book, lots of chocolate and...

...Gustav the bouncy reindeer.
 She loves him. We were also treated to this beautiful electric candle decoration. It really adds to our Christmas stmosphere and is Isabella proof!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Make it Monday: Girls Jersey Top

This is the top we bought Isabella at the craft fair. It's going to be her 'something to wear' Christmas present.

It's my first big adventure in jersey and the first two steps - appliqueing the star to the front and hemming the ruffles - were infuriating. Once I got the hang of it though, it wasn't all that bad. I was dreading the collar and sleeves but they were fine.

It has a velcro fastening at the collar but velcro isn't included so I just need to get that and it's done.

I love the colours and I love the professional look that the overlocker gives the seams.

The pattern can be reused and there's a boy version so I may revisit this one. For now, I hope she likes it!

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Saturday Update

Well I got back from England on Sunday evening. It was lovely to see Isabella and Nico waiting for me at the station.

Work was busy as ever all week and I got back on top of the house work, cleaning, washing, shopping etc on my day off.

We also got our Christmas decorations up and started planning gifts for family. Winter market at school was the highlight of the week. It was very busy but we enjoyed it.

This weekend we are celebrating Nico's aunt's birthday and then it's a regular week hopefully.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Christmas Food

 What foods get you in the Christmas spirit? Round here it's satsumas, hazelnuts and walnuts. Nico recently bought these lovely dishes for the nuts and Isabella loves to play with them even if she's still too young to appreciate the taste.
And of course, mince pies. Nico makes amazing gluten free mince pies which always remind me of our engagement, three years ago. These won't be here for long.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Resolutions

With the end of the year creeping quickly closer, I've been thinking about what 2016 might look like for us and what I want to acheive in the next twelve months - more on that later.

Recently I found some old papers encouraging us to get Isabella into reading. She loves books already. Of course she's too young to read alone but already, she recognizes pictures, certain books (Peeeeepo) and knows when they are upside down.

I want to start taking her to our local library next year. Maybe once a month. Personally, I prefer to buy books but I'm a huge snob. I've loved to read from a young age and some of my best memories were taking out books from our local library.

 I think it will be a great way to engage Isabella more. Our local library is in the high school so it's not open Saturdays but they do open two evenings a week and it's free for her to join. They also have regular story tellings for little ones so we can meet new people too.

I think I'm looking forward to it the most!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Christmas Decorations

 So December is here and it's time to make things Christmassy. I was struggling to find space for our tree this year. In the end we brought down sn unused table from upstairs. It has lots of space for presents. It's on wheels. At first I wasn't sure it would work with Isabella and Pete around but so far it's okay. Pete had one ride on it.
Isabella wasn't so sure about this decorating idea at first - she couldn't figure why mummy kept taking the new toys away and putting them out of reach on a tree. She got used to it eventually though. Above you can see the Christmas candle holder she made at nursery. Yes, she's obsessed with candles and fire right now.
 There's my Santa from the craft market - also safely out of reach. And this year I really wanted a Poinsetta. It was the only flower Gran ever used to allow in her flat. We've avoided them in the past as they are poisonous to cats and babies but since both of ours have grown out of eating houseplants and it's out of the way on the table, we're giving it a go this year. I love it.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

December Goals

This month I want to:

  • Get a family photo
  • Complete three craft projects
  • Get our cards and gifts prepared
  • Make Christmas special for Isabella
  • Rest

Monday, 30 November 2015

Make It Monday - Paper Snowflakes

Just a mini project today. I was reading this tutorial and felt inspired for a little Christmas paper project.

As you can see, minedid not turn out as picture perfect - I think I need to cut more. I was being more conservative because I cut too much and my first attempt fell apart.

It's fiddly, it hurt my fingers, and I lack patience at the moment but this is one I will definitely come back to when I have more time. I'd love to make a snowflake garland.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Saturday Update

Well it's been a very different kind of week. I've been trying to keep in touch with home more. After a normal three days at work, I had Friday off for Grandma's funeral.

As funerals go, it went pretty well. The place was full, I did a reading, there was a photo slideshow and it was non-religious. Although she was the longest living of eight siblings, there were children of all the siblings who had children, in attendance. Some travelled from as far as Portsmouth and the Isle of Man.

There was a long coffee and cake wake in the sheltered accommodation where Grandma lived. Even one of the nurses who cared for Gran at the hospital came along.

In the evening we went for a curry with some of mum's cousins. It was a fun evening and I couldn't help but wonder what Gran and her siblings would have made of us sat there eating 'foreign muck' but having a good laugh in the Yates' name.

It was lovely to see family and friends despite the circumstances.

Back in Bremen, Isabella had her official nursery photos...and I can't wait to get back to her.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Funeral Reading

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me,
I want no tears in a gloom-filled room,
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little – But not for long
And not with your head bowed low,
Remember the love that we once shared,
Miss me – But let me go.
For this is a journey we all must take,
And each must go alone,
It’s all a part of the Master’s plan
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick of heart
Go to your friends that we know,
And bury your sorrows in doing good works,
Miss me – But let me go.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Goal Review

These were my goals for the month:

  • Use moisturiser every day. - done.
  • Make an advent calendar. - done.
  • Take a family photo. - not done but we did get some nice ones.
  • Exercise once a week. - cycled twice a week.
  • Celebrate our first lantern festival. - done.

I'm aware I kept it simple this month but it was realstic and I did it.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Wintermarkt

Next week is my school's annual Winter Market. (It's really a Christmas market but we are a multi-faith school and Bremen strictly divides school and religion.)

Each class has its own stand and this year we've added a Spanish and French subject stand.

Each stand has to come up with its own product. Years ten and eight only are allowed to sell food and drink as they are raising money for class trips abroad.

In our first two years with this class, we made ornamental angels out of firewood and plaster. Last year, they opted to make henna tattoos and this year we will be doing the same with the addition of  Albanian cookies.

I'm planning to take Isabella along and, although it will be a long day, I'm quite looking forward to it.


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Skincare Review

I mentioned a while ago that I was trying something new and I've been using my new moisturisers for a while now. I don't use both of them every day but, except when I was in England, I've uses at least one (day or night) every day.

So far, it's definitely helping. My skin had been starting to dry out in this harsh weather but since I've been using the creams, it's been much better. Not perfect but much fresher. Also, the moisturisers aren't too oily like some I tried.

When they arrived, I thought they were a bit small but you don't need much product so it's lasting quite well.

I'm also really pleased with my Garnier fruity facewash. It really helps me wake up on a morning. I can't recommend their products enough.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Make It Monday - Advent Calendar

This project has been quite the challenge, first I ordered the wrong material and then it was fiddly...now it is finally there.

I ended up using the same material as my last decorations and adapted a pattern I had to make twenty four little pockets. I slid these onto a ribbon and sewed a button on each edge to keep them in place.

The pockets were smaller than expected but just big enough for little chocolates.

It's a little bit rustic but it looks good and I'm pleased with it.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Saturday Update

It's been a strange kind of week here.

We were all back at work/nursery for the first time in a while so it was busy.

On top of that we were and still are coming to terms with Grandma passing, preparing for her funeral and making arrangements. Most of the time I feel okay but it was hard telling people and sometimes I think 'oh, I must tell Gran that when we talk this week', and then it hits me...

I've gotten back on the bike this week but otherwise it feels like things have slowed up a bit - I really want to get going with Christmas things but haven't found the time yet.

Next week we're expecting snow, I'll be working a half week and then flying home for Gran's funeral and a long weekend.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Distractions

Lately, I haven't been playing Farmville as much as I used to - I haven't had time since I've been back at work.

I do need some distractions though.

I'm still going strong with Quirkle - my favourite 'switch off' game. No need to concentrate much on this one.

I've recently added an app called 'Criminal Case' to my repertoire. In this one you need energy points to play and as I refuse to pay money for games that means I am forced to take breaks but it's an interesting game and helps my memory.

Thinking of Grandma lots this week reminded me of our days doing crosswords together and I downloaded a new app to keep me busy and my mind young.

Speaking of minds, I've switched over my brain training to an app called Elevate. It means I have everything in one place - on the tablet and it changes things up for me too.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Reading Review

The Chemistry of Death - Simon Beckett

Nico put me on to this crime novel. It started out with an emphasis on chemistry but didn't really carry it through.

It was a good crime novel though. I figured part of it out pretty early but not all of it. There were some good twists. An easy read that keep you turning the pages.

Voyager - Diana Gabaldon

The latest in the Outlander series was as thrilling as the others. I love how Gabaldon keeps this story new and fresh. This instalment sees the main characters connect again and cross the Atlantic to enter a whole new history chapter.

I'm so excited for the next part of the story.

Summer at Shell Cottage - Lucy Diamond

This was a good chic-lit read thatmy mum handed over to me on her last visit. A nice easy read about a family falling apart after the father/husband figure dies, leaving a shocking secret behind and how their annual summer break helps them resolve their various issues. A good read.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Gluten Free Lasagne

This week we tried gluten free lasagne. Since going gluten free, we've tried making our own pasta but found it to be a messy and frustrating experience and the store bought version is expensive.

This time, we tried replacing the pasta with slices of courgette. Nico made the bachemel sauce with cornflour and the result was delicious.

It was every bit as tasty as the ‘real thing' and probably even better given that veg is so much healthier.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A Special Lady

Last night, after fourteen weeks in hospital, my beloved grandmother lost her fight for life.

While I'm heartbroken at this loss, I'm trying to focus on the fact that she's finally at peace and no longer in pain.

As she often told us, she lived a long and fulfilling life - she would have turned ninety-two next week. 

She was born, the second of eight children in a tiny two bedroom terrace in Morley in 1923 to a Yorkshire miner and a Scottish housemaid.

She got away from working in the mill by joining the army at the age of seventeen. She travelled the country and lived it up in Bristol, attending lots of dances with soldiers from America and France.

After the war she married, left her husband and ran away to London for six months. She moved back to Leeds where she met and married my grandfather, leading to the birth of my mother some years later.

They moved around a lot including a stint in Blackpool before moving back to Leeds for family. Sadly, grandad died when mum was just a teenager.

Grandma met her third husband Ken shortly before I was born and married him soon after my sister was born. They often looked after us and took us all over in school holidays. They also enjoyed lots of holidays in Jersey.

Ken passed away in 1999. Four years later, she was diagnosed with cancer. At age eighty, we all feared the worst but she fought it and won, albeit with lots of support from friends and family.

She applied for her first passport at eighty-two to visit me in Barcelona for my twenty-first. She got on swimmingly with tapas, sangria and Spanish waiters. When I came back from Spain, I moved in with her. We had our rows but at heart we were the best of friends. She helped me learn my panto lines and I helped her finish crosswords. Despite the age gap, we had lots in common.

When I moved to Germany and met Nico she took to him too. She visited us three times here and danced into the night at our wedding.

She became a great grandmother in 2010 and now has a grand total of five great grandchildren including twins (which four of her siblings were).

She struggled with dementia in later life but always retained her fighting spirit and cheeky temperament. After a fall in August, she never fully recovered. 

She could make friends anywhere - even the hospital nurses came to visit her in their own time when she moved hospitals.

Even having read about her eventful life, I can't give you more than a glimpse of the kind of woman she was. She supported us all through everything. She had a big heart but she told it straight.

I know she was proud of us and I know she's still with us in so many ways. I hope to honour her by living a good life and keeping her memory alive.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Make It Monday: Tree Decorations

This week I turned to this Christmas sewing book from my mum for a quick project.

These are little tree ornaments to keep sweets in. They took about an hour to make.

I'm glad I had this material which has come in for so many projects. They were smaller than I expected but very cute. Roll on December 1st!

Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Saturday Update

Phew, what a week!  We had something on every day this week and while it flew by and most of the things were fun and exciting, I hope we don't have another week like this for a while.

On Monday I had an appointment with the ENT doctor.  Isabella was with me and even though she just had to sit on my knee, she screamed the whole way through. I don't know what we will do when she has to have something done at the doctor's or dentist's!

Tuesday was my long day at work but I did get back on the bike again which felt good, tiring as it was.

Wednesday was the lantern festival which was great fun.  I'm so excited about doing all of these things with and for Isabella and she really enjoyed it so it was a special night.

On my day off I was back at the doctors with an ear infection and took the first aid course.  It's not surprising with the infection.  It's that time of year and with things so busy, it's really catching up with me.  Hopefully I will kick it in the quieter week next week.

I did some extra lessons which means I got an early finish on Friday (and will have another next week).  We had an appointment with Isabella's main carer to review her induction and it was really positive.  They are as thrilled to have her as we are to take her there.  She's learning so much and talking a lot more.

Then we had Nico's cousin's 30th birthday party last night which was good.  It was nice to see family again and of course, they love seeing Isabella.

I have sooo much work to do this weekend but it will mean I get a running start on the new week so hopefully, things will ease up around here soon.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Children's First Aid

Last night I took part in a children's first aid course. It was through the baby club at Werder Bremen Football Club.  Their events have been quite mixed so far but this was definitely the best.

It always surprises me how different things are here in comparison to the UK and usually, things here are much more logical.

For example, in Germany you have to pass a first aid course in order to get a driving license.  Also, in stark contrast to the UK, the only thing you can be sued for in terms of First Aid here, is if you do nothing to help.  I remember being told as a teacher in the UK, NOT to help injured pupils as parents have been known to sue teachers who have done the right thing and helped their child.  As a parent, I know which system I prefer.

Anyway, as to the course itself, while I have taken first aid courses at school (compulsory every three years for teachers), this was the first one I've ever taken aimed at young children and babies and there were lots of new tips and pieces of advice.

We covered the big things like CPR and the recovery position.  We covered preventing accidents and injuries as well as the treatment of a range of problems, from burns to bandaging cuts.

We received a free bandage pack for our bags and I bought a small guide.  It's so important to refresh and add to first aid knowledge when you have little ones running round, but in can be useful in any situation.

We were a little sad to hear that only 20% of people who receive CPR survive but as the trainer pointed out, those 20% are very grateful and make it worth it.  It also makes it all the more amazing that a friend of my family has performed CPR on and saved the lives of not one, but two people.

It's something I hope I never have to use, but I'm glad I'll be able to.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Lantern Festival

Last night was Isabella's first lantern festival at nursery. It was mine too, and it was good fun.

We met in front of the nursery as it was falling dark and took some lovely snaps.

We'd been in to nursery the week before to make the lantern and Nico finished it at home. Isabella loved it. She spent the whole journey trying to blow out the electric candle.

We were at the back of the walk and as they are so little, it just went around the car park but it was great. Isabella walked a bit and was carried a bit. She especially liked the music to which she did a little dance walk.

Afterwards there was singing round the fire and the carers gave the kids pretzels. Meanwhile, I helped the parents' association selling mulled wine and providing punch for the kids. Isabella loved hers.

It was a lovely evening and I am looking forward to next year even more when she can appreciate in even more.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Recipe: Banana and Raspberry Bread

Sunday was baking day around here.

Nico and Isabella baked gluten free ginger buscuits. They are delicious and Isabella was great at cutting up raisins. She managed to cut almost as many as she ate!

Meanwhile I tried a new paleo bread/cake. This one had fewer eggs and more banana than my latest attempts and was better for it. An added highlight was getting to use fresh raspberries from the garden. Perfect for taking to work. Yum!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Make It Monday - Bobbel Man

This weekend I made the first of my projects from the craft fair, this Bobbel Man.

It was challenging and the first time I've worked with jersey but it was worth it - I love the finished product and it's gotten me into the mood for more Christmas projects for sure - just need to find the time now!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Saturday Update

This week we've all been fighting off illnesses of one kind or another so Isabella just had two days at nursery and I had one day at work.

Friday was the highlight of the week when we went to nursery to make Isabella's lantern for the festival next week.

Even the car broke down this week but was fixed quite quickly luckily. Not before I learned how the buses run.

I've found a bit morw craft time so there'll be more on that next week.

Next week is going to be truly manic with work, doctors, lantern festival, first aid training and a 30th birthday in Nico's family! I'll need another week off after that!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Currently...

...drinking lemsips.
...enjoying wood fires.
...making Christmas plans.
...visiting nursery to make our first lantern.
...writing lots.
...eating up our frozen meals.
...moisturising regularly.
...feeling grateful.
...getting on top of the lists.
...crunching leaves out and about.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Crash

source
I watched this film today. It's been in our collection for  while because I'm trying to watch all the films which have won a best film oscar.

Despite it's award, I hadn't heard much about this film but I soon saw why it had won.

It's a film that weaves lots of different stories and characters together around the topic of racism. It takes many points of view and looks at many aspects and types of racism, blowing the traditional black vs white idea out of the water.

It's full of twists and turns that keep surprising you. The characters are complex too - one minute you're totally on their side and the next, totally against them.

It's very thought provoking - I'd love to watch and discuss it with a class one day. It's one I'm going to be thinking about for a while.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Paleo Marble Cake

Today I tried this new recipe. With this cake, as well as some previous ones, we've had the problem that the eggs make it very savoury and give the cake a strange texture.

Reading through the comments, I saw that some people replaced some of the eggs with bananas and that helped so I'm planning to trythat next time.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

November Goals

Here are my goals for this month:

  • Use moisturiser every day.
  • Make an advent calendar.
  • Take a family photo.
  • Exercise once a week.
  • Celebrate our first lantern festival.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Make It Monday :November Birthday Cards

I finally got around to some new cards this month.

First up they have some new border tape that Nico bought for me. They're nice and bright and colourful.

To jazz them up a bit, I added some colourful jewelled beads. 

I really like the overall effect. They're now on their way to this month's birthday girls.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Saturday Update

What a mad week!

We were at the Handmade Craft Fair last Saturday and it feels like forever ago!

We did manage a quiet day on Sunday.

On Monday we bought Isabella's new car seat and some fruit trees. I got a lot of work for school done while Nico and Isabella were in the garden.

Tuesday we prepared for our trips.

On Wednesday I flew to England until Friday for a spontaneous trip to visit my Gran in hospital. It was good to catch up with family and meet my tiny twin nieces.

On Wednesday Nico and Isabella drove up to Nico's parents' for his Mum's birthday. They all had great fun and Isabella chattered the whole time.

I got there in time to partake in the birthday celebrations yesterday which was nice.

Now we're home waiting for trick or treaters and getting ready to go back to work and kick off this busy season.

Friday, 30 October 2015

October Goal Review

Here's how I did this month:

  • Take a family photo - not done.
  • Complete three sewing projects. - did two and a knitting project.
  • Zumba once a week. - started out well and then came the holidays.
  • Have a family day trip. - done - the craft fair.
  • Write to my Gran. - done twice!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Christmas Box

One of Isabella's first nursery projects is to prepare a Christmas box for a child in need. It's like Operation Christmas Child in the UK.

We're sending it to a nursery aged girl. She will probably be from Syria or the Ukraine. We're filling it with lots of little treats. 

It really makes me aware and grateful for just how lucky Isabella is and therefore how lucky we are.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Garden Update


Since it's the last opportunity we'll really have to get out in the garden, we've been making the most of it. Nico's been working hard, Isabella's been playing hard and I've been pottering.

We decided to go all out and stock up on fruit for the next years. In the photo you can see our new cherry and plum trees. The space in the middle is for our wedding apple tree that we need to bring home from Nico's parents' garden.

We've also got grape vine for the terrace and Nico's planning to move the gooseberry bush. 

It's going to be a fruity garden!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Handmade Craft Fair


This weekend was the annual Handmade Craft Fair in Delmenhorst. It takes place in a big repurposed mill space.

Nico had spotted the signs and looked it up and it also proved a good opportunity to try out the new car seat with Isabella.

There were various workshops and a quilt exhibition which was pretty fascinating but the highlight for me was the stalls.

Most of the crafts were sewing or knitting related which is perfect for me. I was fairly overwhelmed but given that I haven't won the lottery lately I had to hold back a bit.

In the end I came away with two new projects - a little santa doll and a girl's top for Isabella's Christmas present. I'm really looking forward to getting started.

Another huge bonus was the list of stores who were there and their online shops so I can order from new suppliers in future.

It was also great to see so many crafters under one roof - the place was packed and some of the stores were selling out fast.

It was wonderful to be out and about as a family. Isabella got used to her car seat but we forgot her buggy. Luckily she loved walking around and running away from us. We also had coffee and cake. She sat on a big chair, shared our cake and slurped a bottle of apple juice like a star.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Make It Monday - Baby Bunting

 This week I completed a special project that I've been building up to for a while. Some baby name bunting for my beautiful twin nieces. I hope they like it.
I enjoyed the process and have some more fun things lined up.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Saturday Update

Of course this week flew but it was great.

We relaxed, slept until eight, took Isabella to nursery, got our jobs done, read, did our hobbies, bought an apple tree, caught up with family, had our reglar appointments, planned some nursery events and did some work.

Today we are going to a craft fair in Delmenhorst, tomorrow we'll be in the garden and next week I'm planning a last minute trip to England, a visit to Nico's family and hopefully a little more relaxation before the end of the holidays.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Harvest Update

 Today was possibly our last harvest of the year. And it was a good one. Above you can see a giant bowl full of carrots, and a cucumber.
 A kohlrabi, although these didn't do as well as we had hoped.
And here the spring onions, chillis (about 1% of the harvest), beetroot, some more carrots and one single onion!

For our first year, I think we had a really good harvest. I'm so excited to get more involved next year now that we are more settled.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

My top three tipples

I'm not a big drinker and when I do drink, I'll often opt for a glass of wine. Now that the nights are getting colder and darker it's the season for something a little bit stronger. These are my favourites:

1. Amaretto

I first started drinking this with apple juice when I first lived in Germany. Overly sweet for some tastes, I much prefer it to harder tastes.

2. Ouzo

Another drink I picked up during my time in Oldenburg, we started drinking this at our regular Greek restaurant. I like to drink it with water which minimizes the hangover.

3. Irish Mist

Nico is something of a whisky connoisseur. I've never enjoyed whisky but we did discover this blend which is the perfect mix of whisky and sweet.

Christmas Bonus: Baileys

This is my traditional Christmas drink, sweet and creamy on ice - perfect for getting into the festive spirit.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Skincare

Now that the colder weather is here, I need to start turning up my skincare routine again. The cold weather really dries out my skin. I always had oily skin but over the last few years, I've noticed a difference.

For the last ten years, I've used Clinique products and loved them. Theirs was the only moisturiser I found that didn't make my oily skin even oilier. However, I'm consistently looking for ways to save money and as I'm tightening my belt now more than ever, I wanted to find something good for my skin that doesn't blow the budget.

I used to work for Boots in England and one of the more effective yet affordable brands was Garnier. Luckily, it's also available here and I'm going to try it out over the next weeks and see how that goes. I've ordered a day and night cream for the first time too.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Apple tree

We have an apple tree! Well, technically we have two but that's another story.

We've been talking about a tree for a while - we want some shade in the garden and our neighbours all have apple trees too.

After lots of research Nico went out and bought an Elstar and planted it in the middle of the lawn.

It's young at the moment but if all goes well we'll have lots of apples and shade in a few years.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Make It Monday - Knitted Mittens

This week I finally knitted a second project from my knitting course. I needed a birthday present for a friend's little boy and these seemed perfect.

I learned some new skills including matress stitch and making thumbs. There was also some crochet involved.

Hopefully Jack will like wearing them as much as I liked making them!

Saturday, 17 October 2015

The Saturday Update

It's been a struggle of a week, which is usually the case right before holidays. If I hadn't known that we'd have two weeks off now, I would have been off sick. As it was I struggled through with a cold, impending ear infection and headaches and spent my day off camped in front of the fire binge watching TV.

Isabella had a great week. She finally stopped crying when we drop her at nursery - by Friday we got a quick wave and mumbled 'bye' as she ran off! That really helped my mindset. We also got some photos from nursery this week so it was fun to see what she's been up to.

I've done some knitting and journaling this week but no finished products yet. Another reason I'm excited for these holidays. First up is a quiet weekend to kick being ill. We've got various appointments this week to get on top of things and go into the next half term fighting fit.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Journalling

As I've mentioned before, I recently started a new journalling project: 31 things from Ali Edwards. I'm just two days in at the moment and still concentrating on the writing aspect but I love it.

Ali has prepared 31 topics which I write about and photograph (as close to daily as possible) and then format together in an album.

I started on the train on Tuesday and couldn't stop. It's been a long time since I wrote anything but notes by hand but it's a really cathartic process which I am enjoying and really want to keep up. Hopefully it will improve the quality of my blog writing in the long term too!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Parent Rep

Here in German schools, things are run much more democratically than in England.  At my first disciplinary meeting for a pupil, I was surprised to find so many people there - the pupil, all of her teachers, her parents, the class rep and a parent rep.

At the start of every year, every class elects student representatives to represent the interests of all pupils.  They actually take it very seriously and on the whole, do a good job.

In the same way, the first parents' evening is used to elect parent representatives.  Unfortunately, not all classes have parents who are interested in or able to do the job.  My class is in its second year without a rep.  It doesn't disaadvantage us too much as teachers (some reps can be quite a hinderance to the job) but it is so much nicer to have cooperation.

That is why, in the run up to Isabella's first parents' evening, Nico and I agreed that if there were not enough willing volunteers, we would  be prepared to do the job.

In the event, that is exactly what happened and I volunteered to be the second rep for Isabella's class.  It is a responsibility that I take seriously but to be fair, it's not a huge task.  Next week is our first meeting and we'd like to get the parents together regularly but apart from that, it's just helping out with some events and making sure that the staff have what they need and that the parents are happy.

I'm so looking forward to getting started next week and helping to make Isabella's nursery time very special.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Autumn

Well, Autumn is well and truly here and to prove it I'm fighting off a cold. I thought I'd re-share some of my favourite things to do in this season.

  • Write letters - as well as keeping things up with my American penpal, I'm writing to my Grandmother again.
  • Get stuck into a good book.  I was so gripped by my latest one I'd gotten through 100 pages without realising the hour last night!
  • Curl up in front of a nice fire.
  • Get the board games out.  We were looking for some dice for one of Nico's lessons the other day and I realised how long it has been since we played - some are even unopened.
  • Give yourself a manicure or pedicure.
  • Catch up on your favourite boxsets.
  • Have long skype sessions with far away friends and family.
  • Get crafty - I have so many projects lined up, I don't know where to start.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Make It Monday - Draught Excluder

 This week I did a second project from the Fat Quarters book from Mum.

As winter is on it's way, it seemed appropriate to make this one. I used some red and navy scraps as it seemed fitting for the season.
I learned how to make boxed corners on this project and I love the finished product. Isabella thinks it's a great new toy so everyone is happy!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

The Saturday Update

This week flew by. It was our first full week of our new routine and just one more before we have holidays.

Isabella did a full and fun week at nursery. She's coughing less and eating more and missing her all day means we value our evenings together all the more.

Work was hectic and stressful but the course on Friday built me back up again.

The running has dropped off a bit but I cycled three days and helping Nico put the wood away got my heart rate up too.

I got going with crafts again working on three projects (completing two) as well as starting the journaling course.

I'm excited to get through the next work week as I have so many plans for the holidays but I'm aware they'll fly by too!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Encuentro Hispanico

source
Today I was on a long training course for Spanish teachers. It's the first one I've been on for a while and I came back feeling totally energised and ready to go again.

First there was a talk on Spanish politics from a renowned professor. I was a bit worried but managed to follow and understand for the full hour.

Then came the first workshop on vocabulary training. It was just the right balance of talking and doing and of theory and practice.

Lunch was provided and various publishers were advertising their Spanish books and we were offered a 50% discount so I got a Spanish grammar book for my classes.

In order to get good value for money and get more involved in Spanish again, I joined the DSV (a committee for Spanish teachers in Germany). Their meeting took place after lunch and it was interesting to hear about the situation for Spanish in Bremen.

Then came the second workshop on mediation. This was really practical and interesting again and as with the morning workshop can be applied to Spanish or English.

Finally was an information session about exchanges with Spain and Mexico which is something our school is also interested in.

All in all, a great day!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Twins!

Huge congratulations to my sister who brought beautiful twin baby girls to the world today.

Freya and Amelia are beautiful and their big brother Lucas is very proud too.

I can't wait to meet them this Christmas.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Wood

As you can see from this view from my front door, we're ready for winter!

One of our favourite things about the house is our wood burning fireplace. We first had one in the Harz and it was great after a long walk.

We're just getting to the time of year where we can use it again and it's fantastic. It only takes one lot of wood to heat up the living room.

I wouldn't be without it any more. We'll be hibernating this year!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Home grown...

After the cougettes, the biggest success in the home grown section of our garden has been...raspberries!

Nico planted three varieties that produce fruit at different times of the year and we're now enjoying the late variety.

In terms of the amount, they've probably been the best as we're still trying to use up courgettes!

As you can see, we're not the only ones enjoying them.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Make It Monday - Fabric Noticeboard

Looking for something a bit different lately, I came across this tutorial. We invested in a staple gun and I stocked up on ribbon but everything else we had from other projects.

I've always wanted one of these noticeboards but I didn't know how easy they were to make.

This one is going to be a kind of inspiration board for our craft room and I can imagine making one for Isabella when she's a bit older.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Saturday Update

This is the first week where the change of seasons has been really clear. Cold foggy mornings and warm, sunny afternoons. Pumpkins everywhere. Autumn is here.

We had a good start to the week but then Isabella and Nico both got sick. Our baby has croup but after the first night and some medicine she's improving. It's so hard seeing her struggle and cough but I know she has to go through it.

Work has been busy but good. We finished the EDL celebrations on a high and year ten finished for work experience. Hopefully that will see things calm down a bit up to the holidays.

On Tuesday I went to a children's dental health seminar at the football club. It was interesting but it's hard work getting Isabella to cooperate while she's too young to get it.

Wednesday was parents evening at Isabella's nursery. It was nice to meet the others and hear what's going on there. I volunteered to be a parent rep. Hopefully I haven't bitten off more than I can chew but I'm looking forward to it so far. The first big event is a lantern walk in November. It's normal here in Germany but will be a first for both her and me.

Today we have friends visiting who we haven't seen for ages and as it's bank holiday weekend we're heading out to a local event tomorrow.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Currently...

...nursing a poorly but tough little girl.
...enjoying more tea.
...making exciting plans at work.
...starting a new journaling class.
...crafting three different projects.
...looking forward to this new season.
...working on my Spanish.
...getting involved in nursery as a parent rep.
...listening to more radio.
...taking advantage of the holiday weekend.
...squeezing in time to breathe.
...catching up with friends.
...writing more letters.
...lighting more candles.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

October Goals

Here are my goals for this month:

  • Take a family photo.
  • Complete three sewing projects.
  • Zumba once a week.
  • Have a family day trip.
  • Write to my Gran.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

September Goals Review

  • Drink more water! - done! I've cut down on coffee and pop and drunk more tea and water.
  • Organise and celebrate the European Day of Languages. - done!
  • Complete three sewing projects. - one and a half done...
  • Take a family photo. - done!
  • Keep up the running. - this kind of tailed off in the second half of the month but I am cycling again.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Recipe: Banana Bread

This is a recipe I first tried a while ago and have made almost every week since. It's great to take to work - filling and healthy. Unfortunately, no photo yet - we eat it too quick!

Ingredients:

  • 4 bananas
  • 3 eggs
  • Vanillin
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 200g ground almonds
  • pinch of salt
  • baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Combine the ingredients. Fill them into a baking tin in the oven at 180 degrees for 35 minutes. That's it!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Make It Monday - Patchwork Blanket Update

 I'm just halfway through my next sewing project so I thought I would update you on my knitting this week.

I'm currently working on patch number twenty-one! Above you can see the twenty finished ones. I'm still really enjoying this project and keeping my brain active with new patterns every week.
 These two are my favourites so far. Can't wait to see them all together!