Monday, 11 December 2017

Make it Monday - Christmas Decorations

 Our tree seems to get fuller every year and I don't really think we need a bigger one. I aim to buy one decoration per year and we've received several as gifts. I like a tree that tells a story. There are memories on there from our first Christmas together, the first in our flat, our engagement, our first as Mr & Mrs, our first in the house, Isabella's first Christmas and Joshua's. This year we bought a small wooden decoration on our Harz holiday and I used my Gonis products to make two that I'll share with you soon.

As a result of this, and since the lower part of the tree is a bit emptier due to our curious one year old, I decided to repurpose some of the basic baubles. I bought a bit of greenery on sale at Netto, trimmed it down and filled four vases with that and the baubles. It was simple but effective. I love that it ties in to the tree and spreads the Christmas feeling around the room.
It makes a lovely centrepiece for the table when we host my in-laws on Boxing Day too. The best part is the beautiful smell of the real fir tree branch. I'll be making this a new tradition!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Saturday, 9 December 2017

The Saturday Update

Another crazy week here. After a quiet weekend, it feels like we haven't stopped since and we're truly in need of another one.

Joshua started nursery and apart from catching a cold, he's had a brilliant start to this new phase. Like his sister, I seem to have more trouble getting him to leave!

Monday evening was the nursery / kindergarten AGM and it was quite an eventful evening. The meeting lasted almost three hours.

I spent the week making work plans for the new year including some online training. It felt good to get back into the world of teaching.

Wednesday was St Nicholas' Day. We were all spoiled and Isabella had a theater trip too.

Joshua had his check up on Thursday, which went well. He was much braver than his mummy when it came to his jabs.

Yesterday was non-stop! From nursery, to swimming, cleaning at home, cleaning at kindergarten...

We're hoping for a quiet weekend as we all recover from coughs and colds.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Links!

More than one of these made me laugh while drinking coffee.

What an interesting survey!

An interesting article on marriage.

Good tips for entertaining.

Too easy to relate to.

Hilarious and true.

DIY fun.

Staying on track.


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Currently...

...attending meeting after meeting about work.
...Christmas shopping.
...worrying about an unwanted intruder in the house.
...making great plans for 2018.
...loving/hating settling Joshua in at nursery.
...reading this page turner.
...cycling again and enjoying it.
...enjoying this season through Isabella's eyes.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

December Goals

Here are my goals for this month:

  • Get Joshua settled at nursery.
  • Try two new recipes.
  • Celebrate a nice, relaxed, family Christmas at home.
  • Get the house in order.
  • Work out a work schedule for 2018.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Make it Monday - Christmas Cards

 After four attempts, I finally got all of my Christmas cards made and written this weekend. Nico had ordered me some lovely cream cardstock and I put my Gonis products to work.

For the most part I used their stamp set with gold ink. I also took advantage of their example designs, just changing up the last one, which ended up being my favourite.
 Some of the designs had cut outs which stood off from the card with the help of some sticky pads. By far my favourite technique was the new paint pen used for the red baubles above.
I used the white paint pen to make this, the only December birthday card this year. I love the results and will be using more of these products in 2018.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Weekly Wisdom

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

The Saturday Update

Phew, what a week. I'm exhausted. We've all been fighting off coughs and colds while keeping busy.

Our car went in for repairs on Monday. You don't realise how much you depend on something until it's not there.

Tuesday was full of appointments. In the evening I took the kids to my old school for their Winter market.

Joshua turned one on Wednesday. We had a party with family, friends and two cakes. The birthday boy was truly spoiled.

Thursday and Friday have been spent running errands, keeping appointments and generally trying to play catch up. I finally got the kids Advent calenders set up last night.

This weekend will be more catching up, possibly with a sneaky visit to the local Christmas market. We might even get some Christmas decorations up.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

November Goals Review

  • Try two new recipes - done!
  • Sort the kids rooms and clothes - done (and need to do again!)
  • Plan Joshua's birthday - done!
  • Fly a kite - not done - too many coughs and colds to brave the weather.
  • Host two mummy meetings - done!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

One year!

Somehow, our baby turns one today and I'm left wondering where the time has gone. He is such a joy and brings light to all of our lives.

The stages have flown by. The year started out tougher than I expected as Joshua is so different to his sister. He was and is much more clingy and we were almost inseperable for six months which was exhausting.

He is such a funny little character though. I think he gets a lot of it from observing his sister but he does make us all laugh. He's walking, playing and eating for himself at the moment and starting nursery next week!

Today we're celebrating with family and I'm feeling reflective and grateful. It's so true what they say - the days are long but the years are short.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Recipe: Ginger Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter
  • 50g sugar
  • Few drops vanilla essence
  • 50g ginger powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 75g rice flour
  • 100g spelt flour
  • 1 tbsp milk
Instructions:
1. Mix the butter and sugar until soft.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
3. Roll out to about 5mm thickness.
4. Cut into shapes.
5. Bake at 150℃ for 25 minutes.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Make it Monday - Christmas Tea Light Holders

 While Mum was here I got cracking on the first of my Christmas gifts so that she could transport them back to England.
 First we went to Ikea and stocked up on glass tea light holders.
 Then I got out my gonis stencils, relief paste and some spatulas and Mum helped me whip up forty of these holders with the help of some mulled wine.
 I love these designs and made up different pairings to gift to different friends.
 It's an effective technique. I look forward to making some non-Christmas ones next year.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Weekly Wisdom

Fitness isn't a punishment, it's a blessing. Nutrition isn't restrictive, it's healing.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

The Saturday Update

We've had a busy week with my mum here.

Sunday started with a lovely Skype catch up with my friend and her new baby. Mum arrived at lunchtime and the kids were over the moon.

Nico went away for his school trip on Monday. We had a quiet morning and took the kids out for cake after Kindergarten.

Tuesday was an adventure with a trip to Ikea, visiting a new kindergarten class and treating the kids to ice cream.

We kept Isabella off on Wednesday and went into Bremen. They are getting ready for the Christmas markets. We had lunch, did a spot of shopping and visited the cathedral.

Thursday was busy with the car going to the garage. We walked out for a coffee and food shopping. In the afternoon I picked up Nico and we had a takeaway.

Yesterday was an early start to get Mum to the station. Then I drove out to pick up a prescription and enoyed a nice breakfast out with Joshua. I'm exhausted and not feeling 100% so the weekend will be about recovering and sorting the house out.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Links!

Isabella's just getting into games, I look forward to this in future years.

An intetesting point.

The secret to success.

Relationship truth.

Love this cozy office.

I love traveling by train.

What an amazing story of karma.

Funny parenting tweets.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Fun video

This is scarily addictive viewing!

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Advent Ideas

In the last seven years, I've learned that Germans take advent to a whole new level. It's not just about chocolate (although there is that), parents find different ways to treat their children daily in December.

Last year we found a 24-piece jigsaw, which was fun but difficult for her to understand, and four little toys for the weekly one.

This year we've got Playmobil mad for Christmas and I'm planning to break up one of her sets into 24 pieces. I can't wait to see her face.

I'll be putting toys for both kids in the weekly one too. I'm looking forward to cracking on with that next week although my head is spinning at how fast the days are going right now!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Recipe: Carrot, Leek and Mushroom Risotto

Ingredients:
  • 1 litre stock
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 carrots, grated
  • 1 carton of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp thyme
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions:
1. Fry the onion, leek, carrots and mushrooms in the butter for five minutes.
2. Add the garlic, thyme and seasoning for about a minute.
3. Add the rice for a minute or so, followed by the wine.
4. Add the stock, ladle by ladle until it is soaked in and the rice is no longer crunchy.  Check the seasoning, add the cheese and serve.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Make it Monday - Baby Bunting

As I mentioned last week, I've been making a special gift for the new baby girl of one of my best friends.  I've made similar bunting for her first baby and my nieces.  

This time I was going for a pink theme and while it is a darker shade than I was planning on, I do like the finished product.  New this time, I added some buttons to the ribbon, I think it breaks up the ribbon nicely, while keeping the theme, and with the shortest name I've made bunting for, the little sweetheart deserved a little something extra.

I also added in some simple bunting.  I make the name section double sided, to give it a bit of extra strength.  The extra was single sided with a narrower ribbon, just to tie it in and brighten up her room a little.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Weekly Wisdom

There will be so many times when you feel like you've failed, but in the eyes, heart and mind of your child, you are super mum.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

The Saturday Update

We've had a busy old week here. Full of playdates and appointments. It's the first week in a long time that I've not gotten near the end of the to do list...

I have managed to secure some work for the new year teaching English at Kindergarten, get three fitness classes in and keep the many, many appointments so I guess it's been a win overall.

Next week I'm looking forward to my mum visiting while Nico is away on a school trip, getting some crafting done and meeting some new friends.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Links!

What a fun toy!

Sounds like my kinda marathon.

Looking forward to this film.

I hope this is true.

A fun photo project. (no.5!)

Good for them.

Emotional labour.

What a beast of a cat!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Reading Review

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain

The last of my children's classics, this one took a while to get into but once I did, I really enjoyed it. It tells the story of Huck Finn and his friend, the runaway slave Jim as they sail down the Mississippi. The language is difficult at times but fits the story.

Nothing to Lose - Lee Child

This was a nice, easy read to break up the classics. Unlike the last Jack Reacher, this one kept me guessing. The books do follow the same pattern, Jack Reacher on the road, gets dragged in to a case, sleeps with a local, solves the mystery, moves on. I personally preferred the first ones with more history and personality involved but the books are fun to read anyway.

The 158-pound marriage - John Irving

I came across this book in the 200+ free collection from the classifieds. I knew and liked the author already from Owen Meany.

The novel is the story of two couples who indulge in some partner swapping. It follows the relationship and looks back on the histories of the main characters too.

I found the histories and the psychological side of this story really interesting. The characters were engaging and the book left me wanting more.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Recipe: Cherry Cake

Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs
  • 225g sugar
  • 1 package of vanilla sugar
  • 1/2 tube of butter-vanilla aroma
  • 125ml water
  • 250ml oil
  • 375g flour
  • 1 package of baking powder
  • 1 jar of cherries
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
Instructions:
1. Separate the eggs.
2. Combine the yolks, sugar and vanilla sugar.
3. Add the aroma, water, oil, flour and baking powder.
4. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are stiff. Stir them into the dough.
5. Divide the dough in two and add the cocoa powder to one half.
6. Line a baking tin. Add two spoons of each dough in turn to the middle of the tin, adding cherries in between each layer. Start with the vanilla dough, otherwise the layers won't rise properly.
7. Bake the cake at 160℃ for 50 minutes.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Make it Monday - Birth Congratulations Card

A simple but effective one this week. I recently got an acrylic block to use with some stamps I've had for a while. My idea was to use it for Christmas cards but I had another opportunity this week to cobgratulate some friends on the birth of their second beautiful baby girl.

The stamps worked perfectly. I used pink ink of course and while it was simple, I think it looks really effective. I like to use images in threes and I think it uses the space well.

Next week, I'll be sharing the gift I sent with the card.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Weekly Wisdom

If it is right, it happens. The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

The Saturday Update

It's been such a busy week, I didn't know whether I was coming or going.

I took the kids to the library on Monday. Tuesday was quiet, I used the time to get on with some sewing.

I baked cakes on Wednesday and Thursday. Joshua's nursery staff came to visit us on Wednesday afternoon and I feel much better about him starting there next month.

The mums from my prenatal yoga course came over for coffee on Thursday. It felt like ages since we saw them. It was great to catch up.

Yesterday was the usual madness of baby swim and cleaning but now it's weekend and we've got nothing on followed by a quiet week. I can't wait.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Bullying - whose problem?

One day this week, I was cycling past the high school on my way to pick up Isabella from Kindergarten when I saw two boys in the cycle park.  By this time school was finished, most of the students had left school and there weren't many people around.

One boy had the other in a headlock and they were struggling.  As a teacher, I often see children 'playing' in this way and I know that I am too likely to boss strangers about based on my job.  I often have to remind myself in public that these loud/naughty/inconsiderate teenagers are neither my children nor my pupils and because of that I almost carried on past these boys on this particular day. 

Then I heard the boy in the headlock cry out and I realised, this isn't just two kids messing about, it's one child hurting another and while they're still not my responsibility, if another child did that to one of my children, I'd want the stranger on a bike to do something. 

I stopped and asked the boy to let the other one go.  He claimed it was just a bit of fun but the victim said otherwise.  I repeated my request and as another woman came by from the car park and also confronted the boy, he let go and left.

Part of me wishes I had done more, part of me thinks more would have been overkill and possibly caused more problems for the victim.  However, the whole incident stuck with me somehow.  It made me realise more than ever that parenting changes you in so many ways and gives you a whole new perspective.

Bullying is never going to go away unfortunately but it's something to which I never want to turn a blind eye. The whole incident reminded me of this post from one of my favourite mummy-bloggers whose daughter stood up to bullying in an incredibly brave way.  That's how we should be bringing up our children and it starts here and now.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Recipe: Pumpkin, carrot & ginger soup

Ingredients:

  • Pumpkin
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 1/2 litre vegetable stock
  • Curry powder
  • Seasoning
  • Paprika
  • Smokey salt
  • Butter
Instructions:
1. Chop and boil the pumpkin and carrots until soft.
2. Meanwhile, fry the onion, garlic and ginger for five minutes. Add the spices for 1 minute followed by the stock.
3. Drain and transfer the vegetables to the fried mix.
4. Blend the mixture. Season to taste.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Make it Monday - Stencilled Candle

My Gonis products arrived last week and I got busy straight away with my new stencils. I'm really pleased with this first attempt with relief paste on glass.

It was the first time I used relief paste and it was quicker and easier than I thought, with a lovely result. I left it to dry overnight.

I'm planning on some more Christmas themed candle holders soon!

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Saturday, 4 November 2017

The Weekly Update

Despite, or maybe because of the long weekend, it feels like we've had a mad week here.

We spent the bank holiday at Nico's parents' as his Mum had her birthday. It was lovely as ever to catch up with family.

Since then it's been back to the routine - Kindergarten, work, cycling, sport, baby swimming. It feels good and I'm finally enjoying the new season and cooler weather.

Yesterday was Isabella's lantern festival and a good opportunity to get to know the other Kindergarten parents better. The rest of the day was spent preparing for the clothes party we hosted this morning. We had fewer guests than I thought but it was really good and our house looks better for it!

Next week is even busier but I'm feeling ready for it!

Friday, 3 November 2017

Links!

Good advice for me.

Humans matching artwork.

I don't usually like house tours but this is right up my street.

Freaky interior design.

I'd love to eat here.

I've said this should happen for years.

A new-to-me UK blogger I'm looking in to.

The ten worst things in the world.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Currently...

...sorting out baby clothes (Joshua's getting so big!)
...enjoying our wood burning fire.
...cycling more.
...celebrating a friend's new baby.
...accepting the changing of the seasons.
...looking forward to lantern festival tomorrow.
...struggling through my latest read.
...dreaming.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

November Goals

Here's what I want to do this month:

  • Try two new recipes.
  • Sort the kids rooms and clothes.
  • Plan Joshua's birthday.
  • Fly a kite.
  • Host two mummy meetings.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Recipe: Hollandaise Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 250g butter, melted
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Seasoning
  • 40ml water
  • 1 squeeze of lemon juice.
Instructions:
1. Whisk all the ingredients, except for the butter, in a bain marie.
2. Continue to whisk, gradually adding the butter. Whisk briskly until thickened.

Tip: This sauce can quickly go too far. Mine did and it looked like melted butter again. Luckily the hubby was on hand to save it with an ice cube and extra egg yolk.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Make it Monday - November Birthday Cards

This month I managed to mix it up a bit. The most exciting one for me was the one you see on the right. The other two use techniques I've used before while this one is for an older man. I found the creativty to mix old stock and new, and I like the results.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Weekly Wisdom

The body needs movement, the mind needs stillness.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

The Saturday Update

It's been a really busy week, starting with our breakfast with friends on Sunday and going to the kids' theatre after. It was a nice trip out.

In the evening Dad arrived with my nephew and we had a fun few days with swimming on Monday, a day trip to Bremen on Tuesday and a day playing at home on rainy Wednesday.

Isabella had a busy week at Kindergarten despite her day off with photos, swimming and gym.

I've missed my sports but cycled almost every day and focused on studying around the usual daily grind.

Next week is also busy with a family birthday, lantern festival and the clothes party but hopefully less stressed once today is over!

Thursday, 26 October 2017

October Goals Review

It has not been a great month on the goal front. October has gone so fast, I can hardly believe it's November next week. Here's how I did:
  • Speak as much German as possible before my C1 exam! - kind of, could have done more...
  • Send two postcards. - done!
  • Try two new recipes. - done!
  • Get back on the health kick after the holidays. - nope.
  • Learn to play backgammon. - nope.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Reading Review

The Hard Way - Lee Childs

Another one from the 200+ freebies, I took this one on holiday with me for a quick read and it certainly was that. It was enjoyable and interesting but I didn't enjoy it as much as some of his other works as I had the twist figured out much too early. Either I'm reading too many of these books or I'm getting clever!

Veni, Vidi, Vici - Peter Jones

I started reading this on holiday. From the non-fiction section, it explains everything you wanted to know about the Romans and then some!

At first I found it very interesting, especially the linguistic tidbits but towards the end, it was very dry and hard work to read.

Jackdaws - Ken Follett

This was a fantastic read. I love Ken Follett's novels but I've never read his earlier works before.

Jackdaws follows the female protaganist Flick, and her mission behind enemy lines towards the end of World War Two. There was no cross over with his other works and it was a real page turner. Cannot recommend it enough.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Recipe: Spelt bread rolls

Ingredients:

  • 240g spelt flour
  • 7g yeast
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 5g salt
  • 120ml milk
  • 60ml luke warm water
  • 30ml olive oil
  • Sesame seeds
Instructions:
1. Combine 90g flour with the other dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingedients in a second bowl before adding them to the dry mixture. Whisk for two minutes.
2. Add 30g more flour and whisk for a further two minutes.
3. Add the remaining flour, kneed the dough and return it to the bowl, to rest, covered for ten minutes.
4. Form rolls in a baking tin, top with sesame seeds and leave to rise for 45 minutes.
5. Bake at 190℃ for 18 minutes.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Make it Monday - Crochet Baby Blanket

This was my first big crochet project, the first that wasn't from my subscription course, and I loved it. It's from Mollie Makes and I made it for my friend's baby shower. She's expecting her second daughter next month and I couldn't be at her shower but I sent this gift.

The wool is beautiful, so soft and thick. I also made my first pompoms for the corners. I love the end product. It's going to be my go-to gift for future babies. I think blue would look just as cute and I'm considering making some to sell. Even the ladies in the post office loved it. Hopefully my friend will too!


Sunday, 22 October 2017

Weekly Wisdom

Live fully in the season you are in because you won't get it back.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Saturday Update

We've had a pretty good week in our new routine here.

On Monday I took Isabella to Kindergarten and stayed until she'd had breakfast. While she played out, I whizzed over on the bike to meet some mummy friends for a quick coffee.

Tuesday was similar but I didn't stay for the breakfast. On Wednesday she was sick which means 48 hours off. I was worried she wasn't liking Kindergarten as she'd complained about the noise but she was keen to go back on Friday which was her best day yet. They had gym and she had lunch there too. She loved it.

I'm feeling good with cycling every day, even in the pouring rain yesterday. Joshua had baby swim at the new time so he was shattered too. I've fit in a fair bit of studying and read a whole Ken Follett novel.

On the whole, a really good week!

Friday, 20 October 2017

Links!

The New York subway.

Kids crafts.

Amazing wildlife photography.

We don't do Halloween but if we did, Isabella would absolutely love these Shrek costumes.

No excuses!

Already eying up next year's goals.

Getting inspired by Ali.

On day three of this.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Lantern Workshop

With Isabella's return to Kindergarten comes a barrage of events for our calendar. The first was the lantern workshop last night.

At nursery this was always a chaotic afternoon with Nico and I rushing from work so one of us could distract her while the other cut and stick a lantern together.

I have to say, I prefer the Kindergarten's method. I got there at seven pm, on edge after a crazy afternoon with the kids and was promptly served a cup of mulled wine!

One of the teachers had made example lanterns and the kids had been asked to choose early in the week - owl or shark. All but one of the girls picked owls, and all but one of the boys picked sharks.

I was in the owl room which inevitably had all of the glitter and pink card. First I cut all the pieces. This took longer than expected as I forgot that owl lanterns need four wings, two heads and four eyes! Then came the sticking, and finally the decoration.

I am really pleased with my two hours' work. It was also fun watching and listening to the dads who had been sent along to make their girls' lanterns. I've never heard so many wonderings about shades of pink and glitter!

Looking forward to the festival now!

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Gonis

As I mentioned, I was invited to a Gonis party last week. I had no idea what to expect other than a craft party. I had never heard of Gonis.

It was along the lines of a Tupperware or Avon party. The friend had about ten guests there and a rep. Everyone had a catalogue and a Christmas flyer. The rep highlighted various products from the catalogue and showed us different projects we could use them for.

I put in an order and booked a party for next year. If my German was better and I knew more people, I'd consider becoming a rep myself.

The projects really inspired me with some ideas for Christmas and I'm looking forward to sharing them here. My goodies arrive on Friday and then I'll be off!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Recipe: Leftover Bake

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pumpkin
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 sticks celery
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1/2 can sweetcorn
  • 1/2 can chopped tomatoes
  • Tomato puree
  • African spice mix
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 100ml milk
  • 150g grated cheese
Instructions:
1. Boil the pumpkin and carrots.
2. Drain and combine in a baking dish with the remaining vegetables, lentils and spices.
3. Mix the eggs and milk in a jug and pour over the mixture.
4. Top with cheese and bake at 200℃ for 30 to 40 minutes until set and brown on top.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Make it Monday - Painting

This week I felt like painting. I've had this image in my head for a while. It never looks quite like I pictured it once I've got it on paper but it's so relaxing.

My next painting project will be to get back into oils. This was with water paint tubes.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Weekly Wisdom

Your only limit is you.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Saturday Update

This week was actually more relaxing than our week away!

I fit in two fitness classes - aerobic dance and weights. I wasn't as strict on the diet front but better than the week before and that felt good.

On Wednesday I took Isabella to a play but it wasn't as good as we'd hoped. She enjoyed seeing her friends though.

In the evening I went to a craft party which really inspired me with some Christmas ideas.

I took Isabella to the library and to run some errands around Leeste on Thursday. She rode her bike and loved it.

Yesterday I got caught up on jobs around the house.

We're having a quiet weekend before it's back to work/school/kindergarten on Monday. I'm finishing up some sewing and starting the new phase with a positive outlook.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

40 things- learn to plait Isabella's hair

While on holiday last week, I finally attempted a French plait in Isabella's hair.

If there's one thing German women seem so much better at, it's plaiting hair. I've no chance of doing my own but I really wanted to learn for Isabella and her hair is finally long enough.

I know the above picture isn't perfect but in my opinion, it's a pretty good first attempt! As long as she's willing, I'll keep trying and who knows, maybe I will manage my own one day!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Currently...

...drinking nutmeg milk.
...stressing about exams.
...enjoying school holidays.
...recovering from our mini-break.
...feeling inspired about crafting.
...reading about the Romans.
...getting into the autumn spirit.
...working in the garden.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Recipe: Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:
300g pumpkin
125ml milk
1 tbsp butter
500g flour
2 tbsp sugar
3.5g salt
7g yeast

Instructions:
1. Boil the pumpkin, drain and blend.
2. Add the milk and butter and stir well.
3. Add the remaining ingredients. Knead well. Transfer to a baking tin and rest for thirty minutes.
4. Bake at 170℃ for about fifty minutes.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Make it Monday: Girls' jeans

I've been making the most of nap times and Nico being off this week to rustle up some gifts for my nieces' birthdays.

This is another one from the mummy's sewing book and my first with pockets!!

I love that you can individualise the contrast material. I chose pink hearts for one twin and lilac hearts for the other. I have the same material in blue to make for Isabella.

Despite taking my time to get started on this project, I really enjoyed the process. I'll be using this pattern again for sure.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Weekly Wisdom

Do something now that will make the person you'll be tomorrow proud to have been the person you are today.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

The Saturday Update

We've had a nice, if somewhat washed out, week away.

We had a lovely weekend visiting Nico's family. The sunshine was glorious on Sunday.

On Monday we drove to Altenau in the rain. The accommodation was very spacious and had everything we needed though sleeping in a family room was an adventure! We had a short walk around the town and a little climb to a viewpoint.

We tried to get out for walks twice on Tuesday but didn't get far due to torrential downpours.

Wednesday was our big walk day. Four hours around the beautiful outskirts of Altenau and no complaining from the kids, plus we got our first stamp in our Harz Wanderpasses!

Thursday was terrible again so we drove out to do a bit of shopping, took the kids swimming at the local spa, and went to a small wood museum. A lovely day despite the weather.

Yesterday, we drove home, picking Pete up on the way. The house was still standing despite the storms and I was glad to have cleaned before we left.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Reading Review

Aladdin and other tales from Arabian Nights

Before picking this book up, I only knew the Disney version of Aladdin and I was honestly surprised at how different the original is. Just the fact that it was knew an unknown made the adventure story more exciting for me.

It was branded as a children's classic but from the language I'm not surprised I never picked it up as a child.

The 'other tales' were the seven voyages of Sinbad which were new to me as well. They were varied and interesting too.

The Stretch - Stephen Leather

Another of my freebies, I probably wouldn't have picked this up otherwise. It tells the story of a crime boss' wife and how she handles the business while he's in prison.

It was an easy read and the point of view was interesting but this one didn't really grip me.

Coral Island - R.M.Ballantyne

Another fake 'children's classic', this one tells the story of three men shipwrecked on an island in the South Pacific. It was actually an interesting read and I really enjoyed following their adventures. I'd recommend this one.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

October Goals

Here's what I hope to do this month:

  • Speak as much German as possible before my C1 exam!
  • Send two postcards.
  • Try two new recipes.
  • Get back on the health kick after the holidays.
  • Learn to play backgammon.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Recipe: Crock pot Gumbo

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 300g chicken breast
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Cajun spice mix
  • 200g frozen prawns
  • 2 cups cooked rice
Instructions:
1. Place the first ten ingredients in the crock pot and cook on lw for six or seven hours.
2. An hour before you want to eat, add the prawns.
3. Thirty minutes before serving, add the rice.

An easy and tasty dish, I love the crock pot.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Make it Monday: October Birthday Cards

I feel like I'm a bit stuck in a rut this month with my card making. For four out of the five I stuck to a name theme and varied the medium with stickers and stamps.

I'm most pleased with the card on the left as it's a bit different, it's something new and I like the complementing colours.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Weekly Wisdom

You don't have to be blooming to be growing.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

The Saturday Update

It started as a slow week here, getting a big project finished up but has ended in a mad rush of preparing to go away and finishing up the month on a high.

I had parents' evening for Joshua's nursery which had me excited and nervous in equal measure. His start date is coming up way too fast.

I had a lovely girls night that went on very late. It was so good to catch up with good friends and my wonderful hubby put the kids to bed for a third night this week.

Yesterday was baby swimming and a mad rush of jobs - washing, cleaning, shopping, packing...

...I'm still finishing up this morning but hopefully it will all be worth it when we get back to nature and enjoy some quality family time! Roll on hols!

Friday, 29 September 2017

Thursday, 28 September 2017

September Goals Review

Well, September was a successful month here!
  • Make a dress - done!
  • Start a calligraphy course - done!
  • Two new recipes (healthier eating) - done!
  • Two letters - done!
  • Finish my photography course - done!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Clothes Party

As I mentioned, we were at a kids clothes party at the weekend. A friend of a friend sews children's clothes and sells them in a shop in Bremen as well as online. She also offers these parties on weekends and evenings.

This was the second one I have been to. At the first I bought a top and trousers for Isabella. This time I got her a hooded jacket and skirt, and Joshua trousers, slippers and a hat, all for 48 Euros.

Now I am planning my own party for November. I'm going to invite all the mums I know from different groups and hope to get a few of them together.

It's nice to feel like we're really putting roots down and building up contacts through the children.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Recipe: Salmon Fish Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 300g salmon
  • 1 small onion
  • Chives
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1tbsp mustard
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 large egg
  • Pepper to taste
Instructions:
1. Combine the ingredients in a bowl.
2. Form into five patties and fry for about ten minutes each side over a medium heat.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Make it Monday - Pompom!

Today I made my first pompom using the pompom maker from my knitting course.

It's one of four I need to finish up a bigger project I'm hoping to share here soon.

I found an online tutorial through google and got to work. I'm so pleased with the finished pompom, much better than the one I made using my hand.

Looking forward to piecing the final project together.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Weekly Wisdom

Be a girl with a mind,
a woman with attitude,
and a lady with class.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The Saturday Update

It's been a really busy week here. It started with World Children's Day on Sunday.

On Monday Isabella had her taster day at Kindergarten and both kids loved it. We're both excited for her to start next month. I also went to a drums alive class - it's rapidly becoming my favourite.

We had brunch with the yoga mums on Tuesday - always a lovely catch up.

Wednesday was quieter, getting some jobs done at home. In the evening I had parents' evening which was exciting.

Isabella had a playdate on Thursday and we stayed for dinner. The weather was glorious.

Yesterday we cycled to baby swim in the sunshine and in the afternoon we had a child's birthday party.

Today I'm at two more parties - clothes for the kids and make up in the afternoon. Sunday will be a day of rest!

Friday, 22 September 2017

Links!

So pleased for my friend and her business.

And my cousin who's doing some fab things in baking.

Fun with photo shop.

Recently discovered this amazing lady and her Ted talks.

This looks perfect for an autumn evening.

A modern take on Disney princesses.

This is our life right now.

Some help in finding the right self-help for you.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

World Children's Day

20th September is World Children's Day. Here in Germany, they make quite a big deal of it.

Our local area plans a range of events for children. We've taken Isabella to the children's theater at the local high school twice and we'll be doing it again in October.

On Sunday, for World Children's Day they planned all sorts at the mill in Südweyhe. We were there right on time in glorious sunshine. It started with a play which was fun. It was 50 minutes long but Isabella did well with concentrating.

The mill itself is a museum so Nico and Isabella had a look while I waited with Joshua. There were games and toys, food and drink, badge making, a rally and face painting. Isabella had her face done with pink glitter as a princess. Later there was a magic show and a musical performance. Unlike the usual Sunday theaters, this was free (except the food and drink).

We saw lots of people we know - the youth volunteer from nursery, a child from nursery with her dad, Nico's colleague, my friends from post-natal fitness, mums and kids from kindergarten and even mums from other kids events like the theater and library.

It was a lovely morning and a great way to celebrate the kids. Joshua even stayed awake the whole time!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

My Great Grandmother

Recently I've been delving into my family history again and, as those of you following my 40 things list may have noticed, lately my Mum and I have made some real progress.

As long as anyone in our family can remember, there has been a big mystery about my great-grandmother - Isabella Allan. We knew she came from up towards Jarrow and left her family there to move to Yorkshire in the twenties. There she met my great-grandfather and started another family.

We never knew why she moved or what happened until recently. With the help of my Dad's cousin who is a semi-professional genealogist, we have found some long lost cousins - the descendents of the children Isabella left up north.

Here's what we can piece together. She married Joseph Patterson at the age of seventeen and had two sons. Joseph went of to fight in World War One. When he came home on leave he discovered that Isabella was having an affair resulting in a third pregnancy. He took their two sons to live with his parents and returned to war where he was killed in Belgium.

Isabella gave her third son up for adoption but he did make contact later in life.

The next years are still a bit of a mystery but at some point she moved to Thorner and once settled, sent for her fourth (!) son to join her.

In Thorner she met my Great-Grandfather Willie and had three children with him before she passed away in the late 1950s.

It is a story full of scandal and shame and we've certainly had mixed feelings while learning all of this but I do believe it's the right time for this to come out. We're so over the moon to find that we have more cousins and that Isabella's older sons had good lives despite the tragic start.

I don't judge Isabella for what she did. We will never know why she had an affair but she was young and alone with two children in very unstable times. I never knew her so I can't say what kind of person she was. Plus, if she hadn't had this background, I wouldn't be here! Families and family histories are full of this kind of 'scandal'.

I'm so glad we finally know more about her and now we can start to look further back too.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Recipe: Albondigas (Spanish meatballs)

Ingredients:

  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Seasoning
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Fennel
  • Olive oil
  • Tomato puree
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Rice to serve
Instructions:
1. Combine the mince, eggs, 1 onion, garlic, seasoning and herbs in a bowl. Form into balls and fry in the oil for about ten minutes
2. Fry the second onion with the tomato puree until brown. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for ten minutes.
3. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and cook for a further ten minutes.
4. Serve with the rice.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Make it Monday - Creative Lettering Quote

Last week I started my new calligraphy course and this was the first exercise. Lettering is quite an individual thing and I usually consider my projects something that looks very childish but I took my time with this and I really like the finished piece.

I'm going to put it up in the hobby room to keep me inspired.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Weekly Wisdom

Let's do what we love, and do lots of it!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Saturday Update

We've had a very quiet week here. It was a quiet weekend. Nico was home sick all week but is on the mend now. It was a week of little jobs at home, sticking to my new health routines and keeping the kids busy.

There was a playdate, library visit and baby swimming.

The weather was rubbish at the start of the week so we were a bit stir crazy and Isabella's discovering Disney - so far Peter Pan is the only one that doesn't make her cry! Little softy.

I've been doing more family history, picked up my crossstitch after months, and did more C1 revision.

We'll see a change of pace this week with Skype calls, World Children's Day, Kindergarten visit, parents' evening, brunch... all as well as the routine stuff!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Exercise

In August I started a new fitness routine. The dance school where Isabella had a trial offers a programme for adults. For under 30 Euros a month I can visit two classes per week. (For ten Euros more I could take part in unlimited classes but I can't fit in more than two because of the kids at the moment.) The system is very flexible. If I can't make one class, I can choose another one in the week. This is perfect for me at the moment.

So far, I've tried three classes: zumba, hot iron and drums alive.

Previously I'd only done Zumba at home with a DVD. It's difficult to keep up at times as most of the others have been going for longer but I'm getting there!

Hot iron is a session with weights. I didn't expect to enjoy this one but it is a nice change of pace from the other courses. I ache for days after but I feel good for it.

Drums alive is the course I visit if I've missed one of the others. It's a fun course and combines drumming on a fitness ball with different disciplines. The one I took part in was step-aerobics which brought back memories. In this class, we built up new routines which made me feel more capable and engaged my brain too!

I'm feeling really good after workouts and losing weight. I'm looking forward to seeing how the next few weeks go.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Currently...

...binge-watching the I.T. crowd.
...loving my routine and quality time with the kids.
...feeling great thanks to my new workout routine.
...looking forward to our family holiday.
...enjoying hobbies old and new.
...drinking hot milk with honey and nutmeg.
...reading like a machine.
...filling up my calendar for the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Recipe: Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients:

  • 300g beef stewing meat
  • 2 cups stock
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Seasoning
  • Italian herbs (oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram, basil)
  • 1 carton of mushrooms (ca. 250g)
  • 3tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 1tbsp mustard
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 4tbsp starch or flour in a glass of water
  • 300g pasta (cooked)
Instructions:
1. Add all of the ingredients on the list up to mustard, to the crock pot and cook on low for eight hours, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the sour cream, cheese and starch to thicken. Turn the crock pot to high and cook for a further thirty minutes.
3. Stir in the pasta and serve.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Make it Monday - Stylish top

I recently made this top for my Mum's birthday. I found the instructions in Mollie Makes and thought it would be suitable for work or social.

I chose a black and white fabric with a nice pattern as it will go with lots.

And she liked it! It needs a small alteration but that's almost to be expected without fittings in between.

New techniques for me include using bias binding and making teeny tiny hems.

This is the first top I've made for an adult and I really enjoyed it. I'm now working on a dress.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Weekly Wisdom

Keep going, keep going, keep going.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The Saturday Update

We've had a fairly slow week here. It started off busy when I took the kids to the autumn street market here in town on Sunday. Isabella loved the bouncy castle and carousel.

On Monday we had two doctor appointments, breakfast out and coffee with one of my mummy groups. I was exhausted but so were the kids and they had one of their joint naps which gave me some peace.

Apart from that it's been the usual routine here, cooking, cleaning, washing and crafting. I did a lot of family history research, got some gardening done, Isabella had a play date and I went to two fitness classes.

We missed baby swim yesterday due to poorly kids and bad weather but it was nice to stay in and relax with the fire on.

We're having a quiet weekend to be followed by another routine week with another playdate and trip to the library!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Reading Review

Death of a Blue Movie Star - Jeffrey Deaver

This was among a collection of over two hundred books I picked up for free on the classifieds.

It's not really what I expected from this author but I think it came before his more well known novels.

It's a good, easy read, crime novel following a wannabe film producer who is tracking down a serial killer. It has the usual mix of suspense, twists, and interesting characters.

Tom Brown's School Days - Thomas Hughes

Another of my children's classics, this one took a long time to get into. It follows (as the title suggests), Tom Brown's adventures during his school years.

There are some good parts - tales of fights and friendships and some terrible bits - a much too long description of an early rugby game.

The book is basically written as a 'Guide to Life' for Victorian schoolboys so I was never going to be 100% happy with the read but it wasn't all bad and I'm glad it's off the list.

Talk before Sleep - Elizabeth Berg

Another of the 200+ collection, this book was a much more feminine read. It follows the heartbreaking story of a woman supporting her best friend through the final stages of terminal cancer. It looks back on their open and honest friendship.

I devoured it in three sittings and loved it despite the depressing content. It was a story of true friends, I'm glad I came across it.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

September Goals

Here's what I want to do this month:

  • Make a dress
  • Start a calligraphy course
  • Two new recipes (healthier eating)
  • Two letters
  • Finish my photography course

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Recipe: Naan Bread

Ingredients:

  • 450g flour
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 5g salt
  • 7g dry yeast
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 350g plain yoghurt
  • Butter
Instructions:
1. Combine all of the ingredients except the butter into a dough and rest for 30 mins.
2. Roll out the dough into individual naans and let rest in a warmed oven for another 30 mins.
3. Spread the butter on and bake at 180℃ for 30 mins, spraying regularly with water.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Make it Monday - Knitted Cushion Cover

 This week I finally finished the second and final ongoing project from my knitting course - a cushion cover to match the patchwork blanket. I love it!

I've been knitting a piece each week. They are all different but look fab together.
Once the pieces were sewn together, I crocheted three borders and sewed them together, inserting the cushion before sewing up the final side.

That is my knitting course complete. Now I should have time to go back and try a few of the bigger projects.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Weekly Wisdom

I'd like to see the beauty in this new me so that I can learn to love her.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The Saturday Update

We had an unusual and very fast week.

As planned, we went to the theatre on Sunday which was good family entertainment. Looking forward to more from the culture department this season.

On Monday we drove Nico to work so he could try cycling home, which he has enjoyed all week. We did an early shop. When I took Isabella to dance class this time she didn't enjoy it and doesn't want to go again.

We had brunch with the yoga mums on Tuesday before driving up to my in-laws for a couple of nights. The brunch was lovely - it's so crazy seeing how fast the babies are growing.

Our visit with family was lovely, though we missed Nico. The kids were the centre of attention and loved it.

Yesterday was spent running erands and getting chores done after baby swim with more to finish up today before I take Isabella to her friend's birthday party this afternoon. Hopefully a somewhat quieter week coming up!

Friday, 1 September 2017

Thursday, 31 August 2017

August Goals Review

  • Start a new fitness routine - done!
  • 2 letters - done!
  • 2 recipes - done!
  • Learn to play poker - done! (Though I need some practice.)
  • Catch up with friends - done!
All round it's been a great month.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Messages to our daughters

This speech followed close on the heels of this post for me and made me think a lot about bringing up my girl, and boy for that matter.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Recipe: Mushroom Risotto


Ingredients:
  • 1 onion
  • 1.5 cups risotto rice
  • 1 litre stock
  • 500g mushrooms
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 10g butter
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon juice
Instructions:
1. Chop the mushrooms and fry in a pan until browned.
2. Meanwhile, fry the onion. Add the rice and begin to ladle in the stock, a bit at a time until absorbed.
3. Add the garlic, herbs and seasoning.
4. When the liquid is absorbed and the rice is no longer crunchy, add the mushrooms, butter, parmesan cheese and a good squirt of lemon juice.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Make it Monday- September Birthday Cards

I went with a bit of a theme this month, as you can see. For each recipient I chose a nice paper from either my stock or Mollie Makes and added a 'Happy Birthday' in relief on the front.

I like that each one is individual to the recipient and that it was easy to find suitable papers for male recipients too. They look simple and clean, and hopefully brighten up some birthdays.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Saturday, 26 August 2017

The Saturday Update

This week has flown by. On the whole it's been quieter than last week but somehow more tiring.

We took the kids to the fire and ambulance station open day on Sunday. It was great fun despite rubbish weather. Then we had corn on the cob with Isabella for the first time - fun!

On Monday I took Isabella to her dance class and then we did our usual shopping tour to Kirchweyhe.

I cycled to the townhall with the kids on Tuesday to buy our tickets for the children's theater at the weekend.

Wednesday was my taster session at Zumba. It was fast and difficult but good fun and I'll be going again. I cycled there and back too so lots of exercise this week.

I did a fair bit of garden work on Thursday with Isabella and mowed the lawn for the first time ever.

Yesterday was baby swimming again, followed by Joshua's first ride in a trolley and all the cleaning.

Another busy week coming up with children's theatre, visiting the in-laws and brunch with the yoga mums.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Links!

Stuck in my head.

I find this a bit strange.

This hurts my head.

Last days of Summer - no question.

I've seen a few stories like this lately.

Some good ideas here. (And some weird ones.)

This happened this week.

Glad to read more from this lady again.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Photography Course

This year I've been following this photography course that Nico bought for me. A chapter every two weeks or so.
My knowledge and confidence are growing and I'm really liking some of the photos I get.
Many of the photos are of the kids of course but I thought I would share these images with you from the chapters on colour, black and white, and light.
Next week is the last chapter already and I'll definitely be practising these skills for years to come.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Dance Class

I've always known that if I were blessed with a daughter, I'd want her to go to dance class. Isabella loves dancing and starts every time a song comes on the radio. In fact she used to dance to music in the womb!

Last week she had her first ever dance class. It's here in Leeste and for children between the ages of two and six. It's run by a lovely lady called Kerstin whose two daughters take part too.

It's not a specific type of dance like ballet, it's more like music and movement. They run around a lot. Isabella loves running, copying the moves and looking at herself in the mirror. We're signing her up officially next week.

I'm hoping that she will develop a healthier relationship with sport and fitness than I ever had.

There are both boys and girls in the group and we have since discovered that at least three of the others will be in her kindergarten group come October. I love that we are putting down roots here.

Another advantage to this dance school is that they do fitness classes like zumba and bums and tums for adults too. Unfortunately many of the classes are at tea time or bed time and I don't want to disrupt our routines but I've found a couple that suit me and I'm starting my trial tonight!