Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Saturday Update

We've had a really good week with Dad here. Last weekend we stayed with Nico's parents', celebrating his uncle's 50th.

We worked Monday to Wednesday and Dad did a few nursery runs. Dad and Isabella had a great time together, she was very upset when he left this morning.

We saw another colleague leave for retirement on Wednesday. It's crazy how the staff has changed at school over the last five years.

On Thursday we had a quiet day doing jobs while Isabella was at nursery. Then we took her to the library for the first time.

The plan was to go swimming on Friday and we kept her off nursery but she was a bit unwell so we stayed home, played in the garden and went to the Greek for dinner.

We've also booked our next trip with Grandad - Stockholm at Easter!

Friday, 29 January 2016

January Goals Review

This month flew! Here's the progress I made with my goals this month.

  • Read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying - done!
  • Date night - done!
  • Run once per week - not even once...
  • Scan the family history certificates - done!
  • Write two letters - done!
  • Sew, knit, journal - knitting and journaling, yes, no sewing yet...
  • Family photo - done!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Children's Library

Today, Isabella got her first library card! We finally went to the evening session at the library. Our library is in the local high school so we got to have a little look around too.

I think the librarian was surprised that we were starting so young but I think it's important and Isabella enjoyed it.

The children's section was a little overwhelming but we found two books. One with animal sounds and one about a red bobby car.

Next I'd like to take her to one of the monthly story telling sessions!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

No bake Gluten-free Lemon Bars

I've been following Kale and Chocolate on Instagram for a while for a bit of diet inspiration. This is the first recipe I've tried though, and I'll definitely be looking out for more.

It's basically ground cashew nuts and dates. It fits in with paleo and makes a good, filling snack. Nico had to put it through the meat grinder as the food processor couldn't deal with the dates but otherwise it worked really well. Perfect for on the go.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Reading Review

The Woman in White

The latest from the classics list, I read this one for free through the Kindle app.

It's an older story, set in the 1800s but it was unlike any other I have read. It's a crime novel told from the points of view of several different characters.

I feel like it was almost ahead of its time in how it was written, but the content fits to the time and it kept me guessing until the end.

The Little Prince

Another from the BBC list, I was quite looking forward to this one. It's a children's book and was a quick read. It's a nice little story of a prince who comes to Earth and passes on some of his life lessons.

I did find it sweet and amusing but I also found myself wondering how children were supposed to understand it. I think it's linked to the fact that it was written in 1945.

I'm saving it for when Isabella is older.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I read about this one through one of the blogs I read and bought it for my mum and me. It was another quick read and very interesting.

The book introduces a principle and is therefore less practical than I expected. However, I did like the theory. It's based around keeping things that 'spark joy' and getting rid of the rest. I would love to do this but I can't afford to replace so many things - the clothes that spark joy in me would not last until wash day.

When I'm out of debt I will be revisiting this one.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Make It Monday - February Birthday Cards

It felt good to get back into the card making today. I used up some of my stock with some ideas I've used before.

The new one, and my favourite this time is the dark red butterfly one for my friend Charlotte.

I still like using the stars for less feminine styles and the names, while basic, make it personal.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

The Saturday Update

It's been a cold one. The snow started last weekend and is just starting to disappear now. It's been as low as minus ten. Nico took the beautiful picture above in our garden on Thursday.

Dad arrived on Tuesday and has been enjoying lots of playtime with Isabella. She loves spending time with him too. We've got lots planned for the rest of his visit.

Work was mad with report meetings, London planning and covering for lots of colleagues off sick. Next week is a short one with two days of semester holidays.

Today we are supposed to be going to a family birthday in Nico's hometown but we'll have to see how the roads develop with this weather.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Stockholm Plans

We're currently planning a trip to Stockholm. We're still working our way through capitals and Ryanair along with AirBnB make Stockholm the next good target.

Researching the best sights to visit, the Royal Palace (above) seems to be top of the list. It looks pretty impressive. Also on the list are Gamla Stan, some sightseeing by boat and maybe the Abba Museum.

I'm starting to fall for Scandanavia. Copenhagen was a lovely trip and it all reminds me a lot of Northern Germany.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

New Winter Tipple

Nico's mum gave us this spiced apple liqueur for Christmas and it is delicious. It's a sweet winter warmer and one I'd like to try again.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Supplements

Since my colitis diagnosis, I've been taking different supplements to help reduce the medication I need.

I take two types of algae, tumeric and Indian incense. The tumeric and incense capsules can be expensive so Nico has made them for me.

I've now learned how to make them myself and it's so easy and much cheaper. The supplements are not just for people with such illnesses, they can help anyone feel better in themselves.

It's helped me no end so hopefully I'll end up medication free...

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Kohltour

After five and a half years in Germany I finally experienced my first Kohltour. It's a winter tradition in Germany and certainly brightens up January.

We met at our neighbours' for coffee, cake and the sharing out of pretzels. Everyone was well wrapped up. The pretzel and a shot glass are worn on a string around your neck. The queen from last year had prepared a trolley with schnapps, snacka, mulled wine and games.

We walked from their house on a mystery tour to a restaurant. At each junction, the schnapps was passed around and on two of the stops we played team games. It was great to chat with our neighbours and get to know them better after a year of short chats over the fence.

We passed several other groups on tours and at the restaurant there were about twenty groups enjoying their kale and sausage dinner. There was music and dancing and the new kings and queens were chosen.

Afterwards, we walked back in the snow which was nice. Really looking forward to next year too!

Monday, 18 January 2016

Make It Monday - Quilted Make up Bag

I made this project as a Christmas gift for my mum. She bought me a quilting book a while ago and we found some material while clearing my Gran's flat so I thought I would combine the two to make a nice gift.

The project itself was a little fiddly but straight forward on the whole. I'd only worked with zips once before so that practice was good.

I'm looking forward to more quilting this year and making more gifts.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

The Saturday Update

This week has been soo busy! Our first full week back at work involved two parents' evenings, lots of report writing, planning, housework, projects, parents' meeting for nursery and this afternoon our kohltour.

On the positive side I had a lovely evening with Isabella on Monday watching Bambi and eating chips on the sofa.

The week flew by and although my closest colleague was ill, we caught up with her on Friday when we popped round.

Between that, the parents' drinks and meeting the neighbours today, it's been a very social week which I always enjoy.

Next week is set to be just as busy with two days of report meetings, Dad arriving on Tuesday and a fiftieth birthday party next weekend. January is turning out to be busy but good.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Parents' Meetings

Yet another benefit of Isabella being at nursery is the opportunity to meet new people and socialise more.

Both Nico and I moved to Bremen (and now Weyhe) for work, leaving most of our contacts behind and workplaces here in Germany, while friendly, aren't as social as in England.

Aside from getting to know our neighbours better tomorrow, mixing with parents has been one of our few opportunities to meet new people.

Last night I went for drinks with the parents from Isabella's nursery group. There were just four of us but for me that made it easier to follow. It was also a nice mix, two mums, two dads, a range of ages and backgrounds talking for three hours about all sorts.

It was nice because we see each other most days but never have a chance to talk. It's also nice to hear about the little ones who Isabella spends every day with.

It was also good and interesting to hear how the nursery has changed from some of the parents with older kids.

We met in the theater pub in Weyhe which was nice and quiet to be able to talk. We're planning our next drink there in April and hopefully the nicer weather will bring more people out.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Currently...

...trying new things in the name of progress.
...filling in grades for the semester.
...trying to catch up on my reading.
...enjoying both books though.
...knitting like crazy.
...settling Isabella into a new routine.
...deciphering bilingual toddler babble.
...making travel plans.
...looking forward to my first kohltour at the weekend.
...relaxing with candlelight.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Recipe: Paleo Kohlrabi Lasagne

With my Christmas vouchers I invested in a new paleo book for some new inspiration when trying to eat well this year.

The first recipe we made was a success - a lasagne with layers of kohlrabi instead of pasta and a sauce from onions, garlic, mince, tomatoes, coconut milk and spinach.

It was healthy and delcious. Plus, a batch makes four servings so we can reheat the leftovers tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Book Review

Cold Comfort Farm

This was one from the BBC list I'm working through. I'd never heard of it but it was surprisingly good.

I thought it was set in the thirties but it has some odd futuristic twists to it (a bit like 1984) which threw me at first.

It's the story of a girl who moves to live with previously unknown relatives on a farm and sets to work putting their lives in order.

I enjoyed the book. I like the slightly more modern classics.

Yes, Please

I heard about Amy Poehler's autobiography from one of the blogs I read and decided to give it a go.

I wasn't really aware of any of her work at the time which probably took away from the reading experience to some extent but it was still an interesting and fun read.

There's a lot of humour to her writing and there were many laugh out loud moments. Though it might be a bit backwards, I'd like to watch some of her work having read about it now.

Northanger Abbey

A colleague lent me Val McDermid's modern remake of the classic. I read the original a few years ago. Just long enough to have forgotten the details.

I thought the new version was great, modern language and contexts gave the story a breath of fresh air. It was a smooth and easy read - quicker than the original but still as enjoyable.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Make It Monday - Knitted Baby Bonnet

I've been working on this one since before Christmas. I wanted a nice present for my nieces and although it's going to be late, I think this is perfect.

It's actually much bigger than I thought so I may have to try a smaller size and try this one on Isabella.

On the knitting front, this was a nice change from the patches and I learned how to cast off on three needles.

Looking forward to the next challenge now.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

The Saturday Update

What a week! We started in England catching up with lots of friends and family, which was a lovely start to the new year. Isabella especially enjoyed the change and attention.

After our epic journey on Tuesday we had a pyjama day on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Nico went back to work and Isabella caught up with her friends at nursery. I certainly couldn't cycle in this weather so we braved the bus which made Isabella's day.

At home I got lots done, shopping, washing, unpacking and tidying. It finally started to feel 'normal' again and cleared my head to focus on the new year and planning some progress.

Next week is a full work week, complete with open evenings and report writing! We also have nursery parents' evening. Nico's parents are visiting tomorrow for our new year dinner and next weekend is my very first Kohltour!

Friday, 8 January 2016

January Goals

Here's the progress I plan to make this month:

  • Read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying
  • Date night
  • Run once per week
  • Scan the family history certificates
  • Write two letters
  • Sew, knit, journal
  • Family photo

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Let it snow!

Half of England is under water and we missed out on a white Christmas so we weren't expecting snow any time soon. When Nico discovered that Bremen had had a white coating in our absence, I wasn't too worried, last time snow hit Germany hard Bremen was the last airport standing.

Yesterday, we poled up at Manchester airport in plenty of time, cleared check in and security in record time with an eighteen month old and enjoyed a last English breakfast before heading to the gate.

And then came the delays. Our boarding time kept jumping by fifteen minutes with no explanation. Luckily, the gate was fairly empty and we were flying at a decent time for a toddler. After two and a half hours, we were given refreshment vouchers although they were only available for those with seats (so technically the under twos can fend for themselves - good job Isabella is so friendly!).

With the vouchers, we were given the information that the plane hadn't even left Bremen yet due to bad weather.

A short time later we were informed that the plane was indeed on the way and we should be on board with a four hour delay. What a relief! We boarded with a sleeping kiddo who didn't stay that way long.

After a long game of musical seats (mummy, papa, mummy, papa, etc) we reached Bremen. They were still behind schedule and we were forced to circle...

...Not long after this announcement, the weather turned again and Bremen airport closed. We were diverted to Munster, a good two hour drive away. Joy.

On arrival in Munster we discovered that we had been sharing a flight with one of the rudest men I have ever met. Going through passport control, he proceeded to blame Germany, as a nation, for all his problems including the weather, the fact that he had to go through passport control and the fact that his continued journey would be by bus with the rest of the plebs. This was all communicated with excessive use of the f-word in front of several children. The only consolation was the broad northern accent who responded to his taxi instead of bus request with a 'there'll be a bike for you if you don't shut up mate'.

Just under an hour at Munster and a bus arrived. After some cheeky behaviour, we managed to secure two seats for the two hour drive. There was barely any snow until we reached the outskirts of Bremen and Isabella slept so it was relaxing.

Arriving at Bremen airport, I headed straight for the shuttle and hit the day's fitness requirement by de-icing the car. There was some very careful driving before we arrived home around 11pm (it was planned at 3pm). I have never been so happy to be home! Of course we were wide awake and up until two so a long lie in this morning. And so endeth the saga.

Moral of the story - there's always a hiccup or two with Ryanair and we have the best daughter in the world.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

2016 Goals

Here are my main goals this year:
  • Become a civil servant.
  • Pay off my credit card debt.
  • Clear the clutter.
  • One date night per month.
  • Start running again.
  • Work on our family tree.
  • Write more letters.
  • Develop my crafting skills.
  • Work on my writing.
Each one is a sign of progress in one area of my life.

Monday, 4 January 2016

One Little Word

Each year for about three years now, I've been choosing One Little Word to guide me through the next twelve months. Sometimes they stick with me and sometimes I lose focus. I've tried to choose one that's specific enough to keep with me and general enough to fit most of my specific goals.

This year my One Little Word is...

Progress

I wanted something that will help me move on after our relatively calm year. I didn't want a word that was synonomous with growth because some of my goals are about cutting back. I didn't want a word like change because I like where things are right now.

Progress fits perfectly, progress, develop, advance...here's to making waves in 2016!

Saturday, 2 January 2016

The Saturday Update

After a break, the new year feels like a good time to get back on the blog. The Christmas break was too chaotic to keep up with things but it was also a good time to reflect on what this year might be.

This weekend we are in England with family following a stressful last week at work, and a lovely week at Nico's family's complete with all three of us being full of cold.

We had a quiet New Year's Eve and played lots of Cards Against Humanity (good game but it works even better the more alcohol you drink). We'll be catching up with various friends before flying home on Tuesday.