Friday, 31 July 2015

July Goals Review

Here's how I did this month:

  • Take a family photo. - done!
  • Finish sewing the dress. - sooo close but lots done so I'm happy.
  • Revisit my 30 things list. - done!
  • Do some kind of sport. - cycling, running, swimming...done!
  • Research a memory box system. - done!
Productive month all things considered - bring on August!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Date Night

During our week away, we made the most of the free babysitters and have our first date in over thirteen months!

Nico took me to a grill restaurant in Schneverdingen and we went to the ice cream parlour for dessert and coffee. It was delicious.

Isabella was not happy when we left but got used to it - a good sign for nursery in September. Her babysitters loved it - I wouldn't have put it past them to hide her when we left yesterday.

It felt very strange to be out without her but we enjoyed it and I do think it makes us better parents to have a bit of time off mummy and daddy duty.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Reading Review

Redemption - Jussi Adler-Olsen

Another exciting easy read in the Department Q series. I always wonder how the writer is going to follow up his last work but he never disappoints. Each story is so different but equally thrilling.

The characters really make the series so gripping. Looking forward to the next obe.

The Given Day - Dennis Lehane

My Dad passed this one on to me and it took a while to get into but it was well worth it. The story is set after world war one in Boston and follows two main characters - a second generation Irish American immigrant and a black American through those years.

The story is interesting and I learned a bit of history in between too.

A Town Like Alice - David Parker

This came from my classics list and I'm glad I found that list if only for this book. It's a fictional story about a young woman and her exeriences during and after the second world war.

It's so interesting and it is based on a true story - at least the part I found the most interesting is. I don't want to spoil the story here but it's definitely worth a read.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Summer Manifesto #1 Grill fish on the BBQ

Nico recently bought a new barbecue and we have been making the most of it and grilling lots of meat.

Last week we changed it up a bit with fresh fish which is extra summery and delicious.

Looking forward to trying some different types of fish from our local supplier.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Make It Monday - August Birthday Cards

Lots of birthdays this month. A mix of ages and gender too. I stuck to my new cut out stamps and mixed it up with colour and ideas.

I really like the contrast and finding different ideas with these shapes.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

The Saturday Update

After a productive long weekend, it was a short work week. It was busy though.

I got back into sewing and knitting at every chance I got. Lots of creativity in time for the holidays!

At work, we finished up our anti-bullying project week, went swimming, had a class breakfast with parents and Isabella, and handed out the reports. We also said goodbye to some colleagues.

The last two days have been about settling into the holidays and relaxing. I've been enjoying lots of family time and crafting. I'm also reading more.

We're spending some time with Nico's family and going to a wedding today. Nothing planned for next week and it feels good to write that!

Friday, 24 July 2015

30 things - Start Swimming Regularly Again

I love swimming and I love that we have gotten Isabella into swimming at an early age. For almost five years, I hardly swam at all. I got into it when I was pregnant and then forgot about it again.

Well another good thing about this season in this country is the outdoor pool culture. Since Isabella's swim course came to an end, we've tried to take her every Friday. She loves it and it's a good chance for us to cool off and have a chat too.

I'm looking forward to keeping up this routine, watching Isabella enjoy the water and hopefully getting both of her grandmas into the pool soon too.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Recipe: Tuna Citrus Salad

Now that we have more time to prepare and cook, we want to get back into Paleo this summer.

At the weekend we tried another recipe, which we adapted from the autoimmune paleo book. I wasn't sure about the combination but it was delicious and summery. We also made enough to take to work for lunch.

It included, tinned tuna, lettuce, cucumber, shredded carrot, oranges, avocado and citrus dressing. Summery, healthy and tasty.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Schools out!

Today was the last school day of the year. It was long overdue and I think colleagues and pupils alike were ready for the break. It's been the most stressful end of year that I can remember, for different reasons but we're through it now and it's time to relax and recover.

It wasn't all negative though. In amongst everything, I felt very grateful. I thanked lots of colleagues who supported me this semester and received several thanks. We also said goodbye to several colleagues which is always sad, especially when they were colleagues I could work well with.

I'm excited and apprehensive in equal measures about the new school year but before I get bogged down in that, I'm taking a couple of weeks to shut off mentally, enjoy my family and house and freetime.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Summer Manifesto #10 Wear more dresses

July has been the hottest month yet and helped me get out of my usual jeans and into a more summery attire of dresses and skirts. There was a stretch of about two weeks when the jeans didn't see the light of day.

I realised just how boring my wardrobe had gotten when colleagues and pupils commented on the change and I hope to keep up the variety all year round, especially now that I'm sewing my own dresses too.

Here's to a warm, more stylish summer!

Monday, 20 July 2015

Make It Monday - Eye Mask

I don't normally start a new sewing project until I finish the last one but I came across this tutorial and couldn't resist.

It was a really easy to follow project, I had it done in under an hour, it matches my pyjama bottoms and Isabella sewed with me! It was the perfect project to start the holidays.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

The Saturday Update

Well, I made the mistake of thinking that this would be a quiet week, winding down for the holidays - boy was I wrong, it was the busiest week yet!

We had a lovely weekend celebrating Nico's birthday. Lots of friends and family were there, the weather was wonderful and we sat outside until one.

Then came four days of stress at work, with pupils, colleagues, parents and just generally. Thankfully, I have some amazing colleagues who pulled together and we did it. Just three more days...

We visited Isabella's nursery on Wednesday and came away with a good feeling again. She is just so social, she loved being around the other kids and did her first drawing!

On Friday I worked from home and while Nico went to school and had a really productive day.

Next week is just three days and then it's Summer!

Friday, 17 July 2015


Whenever I set myself fitness goals, I don't tend to write about it much.  Mainly because I don't often achieve the goal (see the last few months of goals - it's always the one that's not done).

I guess my excuse since pregnancy and Isabella's birth has been my colitis.  I always manage to talk myself out of doing something for myself - either I have no time, or I've just eaten or I'm tired.

Well, I don't want to speak up too soon but so far this month, things are going well.  The first week of July, I put my sport kit on for the first time since before I found out I was pregnant and ran a quick circuit around our village.

Since then I have managed to keep it up to twice a week.  Since the weather is so hot right now and we have been very busy, I have been running on an evening before we go to bed and after Isabella is in bed.  I'm working on my stamina but so far I feel great.

I've decided a couple of things for myself.  Firstly, it actually helps me to write these things down.  I write my to do lists in my Get to Work Book now and at least while it is still new, I'm so inspired not to leave anything unticked that I just have to go for the run.  Also, sharing things on here is less embarrassing when I actually can say that I did it.

So far I'm on track for July and planning to build up to three runs a week in August before working on my distance.  I'll be letting you know how I get on!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Recipe: Paleo Almond and Orange Cake

For Nico's birthday I wanted to try another new cake and a colleague recently put me onto this website where I found the recipe for this almond and orange cake.

I wanted to make something fruity and not too dry which can be a challenge when baking gluten free. 

This turned out to be a pleasant surprise, very soft and juicy. It was a little more in the Christmas direction but we really enjoyed it.

The colleague who recommended the site is leaving next week so I'll be baking another one for her. I'm really looking forward to browsing through this site for some good recipes this summer.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

30 things - Play a song on the guitar.

We're a little way past my birthday now but I wanted to revisit my list and see what I could achieve at 30.

This week I learned some basic chords for a song on the guitar using this video:

I find the instructions really clear and it was nice to play along to a real song at the end already.

I learned a couple of things- playing the guitar is harder than it looks! I always thought my fingers were pretty flexible thanks to years of playing the piano but I'm still trying to change chords quicker.

Also it's really hard on the finger tips! Nico has given me his old guitar to practice with, with better strings but my fingers were still numb for a while after practice.

It was a fun experience though and good brain training for sure.

I'll be sticking to the piano for the most part but I'm hoping to learn a bit more basic guitar too.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Summer Manifesto #3 Part2

Last week we tried our second new mocktail of the season. It was more adventurous, delicious and I couldn't get enough of it!

You can find the recipe here. I switched out the candied ginger for fresh and a half teaspoon of sugar. The peaches and limes are key though.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Make it Monday - Button Bookmarks

Inspired by my new craft technique last week, I was browsing around the internet and came across this tutorial for button bookmarks.

It was easy and simple but effective and while I don't have the pretty buttons yet, I'm really pleased with my colourful little creations.

They would be the perfect little stocking fillers so I'm on the lookout for pretty metallic buttons and colouful paperclips.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

The Saturday Update

This week has flown by! Work was very busy - I finished up lessons with most of my groups, had our handover meetings with the other year groups, went on a theater trip and researched a new languages space.

At home we've been preparing for a special birthday today! Lots going on with friends and family. We're baking and barbecuing today...

I've been sewing, knitting, reading, painting and running. That Get to Work Book inspiring me for a second week.

We're going to have a quiet Sunday followed by an easy week - the last full one before the holidays and another trip to a climbing course.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Garden Update

 It's been a while since my last garden update and there's sooo much going on right now. This garden was one of the big reasons we bought this house and with this wonderful season and our wonderful little girl, we're starting to live the dream.

Above, you can see the tomato plants! They have gone crazy outdoors. Can't wait to eat them!
 Since Isabella's birthday the main garden area has become more of a play area with swing, slide, sandpit and paddling pool. She loves it, and we love to watch her.
 The first courgette!
 Who needs Heligan? We have our own giant rhubarb...from Yorkshire of course.
 The flower corner by the terrace is still blooming...
 ...and these are my current favourites. Seasonal, happy and bright.
 My planter is still hanging and pretty with pink now.
 The balcony boxes are finally blooming.
And even the lemon and avocado plants are thriving outside.

I love this season!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Favourite Children's Books

Having such a bookworm for a mother, it was inevitable that Isabella would quickly be kitted out with her own little library, in fact, books were one of the first and few things we bought early in my pregnancy.

We had a time of trying to read at bedtime but she's only just at an age to start showing an interest. It's something I want to try again in the holidays.

Nico and I both bought fairytale collections in our own languages but there were also some specific favourites we wanted her to have.


This one was a big favourite in our house growing up and one that Isabella likes to point at already.

Grandma bought this one for Isabella and her cousins before we were even pregnant!

I love Janet and Allan Ahlberg books. Isabella also inherited this from her cousin.

Guess How Much I Love You

We bought this for Isabella's birthday. I don't think I had it as a child but I'd heard of it and love the story.

Lieselotte's Bauernhof (Lieselotte's Farm)

This is Isabella's favourite at the moment. It was a gift from Nico's grandmother and we keep it downstairs.

I really think she recognises animals and things from the farm. She loves animals and when I look at the book with her I like to relate it to what she knows.

So those are our three favourites at the moment. I can't wait to start the bedtime story routine again and experience books for the first time with Isabella.

P.S. A post from Rachel on children's books.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


...writing so many reports.
...getting back into the creative groove.
...eating lots of fruit.
...drinking mocktails.
...enjoying Isabella.
...making the most of the sun.
...preparing for a birthday weekend.
...running on an evening.
...appreciating what I have.
...winding down for the holidays.
...using the Get to Work Book to the full.
...feeling refreshed!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Summer Manifesto #5 Make and eat fruit salad

With all the health ups and downs lately, I'm keen to get back on a healthy eating kick and with the hot weather, it seems the perfect time for a healthy refreshing fruit salad. 

It's a great way to get fruit into the diet and easy to prepare a big batch so I can grab it quickly on the go. I'm hoping to keep this one up throughout the summer.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Make it Monday - Abstract Painting

I've had paints laying around unused for ages and one thing I want to get around to is filling our walls. This was inspired by my usual creative guru Elise and I'm really pleased with it!

I started with the yellow and orange to tie it in to Isabella's room and the bunting I made her. Then I mixed in a salmon colour, and finally added the green as a contrast.

I tried to fill in the white but I wanted to leave a little bit to tie in with a white frame later.

Excited to try more painting now!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

The Saturday Update

This has been the busiest week in a long time.

Last weekend was spent doing a mountain of washing and cleaning and generally recovering from that class trip.

Work has been mad with the prom, organizing end of year trips and the graduation ceremony. All of it was positive though. When work goes well, it's easier to function on less sleep.

I had various catch ups with friends and doctors this week. And all during the biggest heatwave in a long time.

Projects are also back on the go - sewing, knitting and I even found time, energy and a cool enough evening to go for my first run since Isabella was born.

I think it's safe to say that the Get to Work Book is working for me so far!

Next week is the last normal week at work with just one trip to the theater on Tuesday, and hopefully the energy wave will outlive the heatwave.

Friday, 3 July 2015


One thing I love about my job is the cycle. This time every year is busy with reports, projects and graduation. I missed it last year and this year was especially moving as the class I have been most involved with graduated.

They were an extra large year group - seven classes instead of four - so the ceremony took place at the musical theatre which gave it an extra special twist.

There was a speech from the headteacher and each class gave a speech, some with videos, and thanked their teachers. It was really moving - for pupils and staff alike.

It's a huge highlight of my work to see how these young adults have grown up and are ready to go out into the world. I can't believe my own class is already half way there.

It was a lovely way to end the week.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Summer Manifesto #2 Watch Isabella play in the garden

I will never get bored of this view. Right now it's 35 degrees outside so we have to be careful but I still like to try to get outside for ten minutes of playtime before bed.

It calms her down a lot - especially nosying at the neighbours.

It was so very worth kitting out the garden for her birthday and when all else fails, she just follows the tiger around.

So happy to spend the summer watching her grow.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

July Goals

Things I want to do this month:

  • Take a family photo.
  • Finish sewing the dress.
  • Revisit my 30 things list.
  • Do some kind of sport.
  • Research a memory box system.