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


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 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


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


...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


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.