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!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Recipe: Sausage Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 300g flour
  • 200ml water
  • 15g yeast
  • 4g salt
  • 10g butter
  • 14 small sausages
Instructions:

1. Mix all ingredients except the sausages into a dough.
2. Roll out the dough ca. 4mm thick.
3. Cut pastry into 2cm strips.
4. Wrap each sausage in a spiral of the pastry and lay on a baking tray.
5. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes at 200℃.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Make it Monday - Crochet Pin Cushion

This was the free project that came with the very first issue of Mollie Makes sent to me by my Mum last year. At the time, I couldn't make any sense of the instructions as I was new to crochet and learning in German.

At the weekend I set my mind to it and had this little beauty finished in a day. I'm growing to like crochet more and more, partly because you see results fairly quickly and I've got a bigger crochet project coming up soon!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Weekly Wisdom

We live in a rainbow of chaos.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Saturday Update

We survived our first full school week! That alone is a huge achievement. I'm feeling much better about the situation than I was a week ago.

We had a lovely brunch with my former colleague and his wife. Pancakes and bread rolls.

On Monday I took Isabella to her first dance class. It will take some settling in but she enjoyed it and we're going again next week.

We baked together on Tuesday - a chocolate smartie cake for her Kindergarten teachers.

Wednesday was busy getting ready for the teachers' home visit. There are three teachers and they are really lovely. Isabella got on with them at once and they seemed really pleased with her too.

Thursday was really busy. First we went to the library and bumped into the Kindergarten class! Then we did the food shopping and Isabella went to the eye doctor. I had my check up and then took Isabella for a playdate. Phew!

Yesterday was baby swim - I was apprehensive about going with two kids but it worked really well. Afterwards we got all the washing and cleaning done.

We're having a quieter day today before we are out and about tomorrow and another regular school week.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Links!

Excited about this!

This makes sense.

What a guy!

True.

Cats!

Wise words from one of my favourite actors.

Browsing.

I love Rachel's way with words.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Currently...

...adjusting to our new routine.
...enjoying the outdoors more.
...creating space for more creativity.
...making plans for the next few weeks.
...drining peppermint tea.
...dancing more.
...savouring time with the children.
...delving into the past.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Reading Review

Hound of the Baskervilles - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Another Sherlock Holmes children's classic, I really enjoyed this crime story. It was one story, unlike the collection I recently read but it was interesting and kept me guessing.

Pietr the Latvian - Georges Simenon

This was a gift from Nico. It's the first in the Maigret series though it's not one of the TV adaptations that we've seen.

The story follows Detective Maigret in his hunt for Pietr the Latvian a criminal wanted throughout Europe. It's not a long story but it is very descriptive and does keep you guessing.

I'm looking forward to more of this series.

Dick Whittington - Retold by Vera Southgate

This is a quick little read that my Dad recently brought over from England with some of my things.

It's the famous story of Dick Whittington going to London to make his fortune. Of course there is a cat involved and it's a fun tale.

Looking forward to reading this with the kids.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Recipe: Tomato and Parmesan Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 300g cherry tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • 60g grated parmesan
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 small pots of creme fraiche
  • Handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 280g flour
  • 140g butter
  • Seasoning
Instructions:

1. Combine the flour and butter with 1/2 tsp salt and 8 tbsp water. Roll out the dough to a circle ca. 5cm larger than your pastry tin. Gently lay the dough over the tin, push into the corners and chill for 20 mins while heating the oven to 200℃.

2. Half the cherry tomatoes, put them in a roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Place in the bottom of the oven. Prick the pastry base with a fork, cover with baking paper and baking beans, blind bake for twenty minutes. After removing the paper and beans, bake for a further 5 - 10 minutes. Remove pastry and tomatoes from the oven.

3. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Gradually add the creme fraiche and then the basil. Sprinkle half the parmesan on the base, place the tomatoes on top, pour over the creme fraiche mix and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Make it Monday - Project Life Update

It's been a while since I've blogged about Project Life but that's really because I like to have photos for my posts, I don't like to post photos of our children online and my Project Life is basically all about the children now.

I first started this project back in 2012 and I loved it. I'm not really sure why I stopped at the end of 2014 but I am so glad I got back into it this year.

I update my album weekly and I love flicking through from January each week. Seeing the story and development makes it so worthwhile.

I was in England for my friend's wedding at the start of last week so I can finally share a page in this space! While the average week tells its own kind of story, I love when we have something special going on as we tend to have better photos and it's generally easier to make the colours work.

That was really true this week as I could get in some of my favourites from the Seafoam edition to brighten up a really happy day.

If I can keep up the energy on this project, the kids are going to have something really special to look back on one day.

My process:

- Go to Rossmann and print out my favourite photos from the week (phone and camera)
- Place the photos into the layout, cropping where necessary.
- Pick a colour idea for the week and select cards that work, starting with the big date card.
- Journal on the appropriate cards.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Saturday, 12 August 2017

The Saturday Update

Wow! What a week!

Celebrated the marriage of Rachel and Rich on Monday in Alnwick. It was a beautiful day for a beautiful couple.

The day after, we headed up to Lindesfarne which I already wrote about.

I flew home early on Wednesday and it was great to see my babies. I missed them so much.

I enjoyed a nice breakfast with my Dad and the kids after Isabella's check up on Thursday morning - the first with no crying.

Dad left after a chaotic baby swim yesterday. Now it's back to Earth with a bump as we find our new routine again!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Holy Island

After the wedding - a beautiful day and fun reunion with the amazing ladies above, we drove up to Bamburgh and Holy Island. I'd been last summer but it was exciting to go back with friends.
Bamburg Castle

My road trip buddies enjoying the view

Beautiful scenery

The abbey on Lindesfarne

St Mary's Church on Holy Island

An interesting wooden sculpture



Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Hexham

On our way to my friend's wedding this week, we stopped off for a bit of sightseeing in Hexham.

We arrived at 4pm and looked around the priory including the creepy crypt.

Here are some photos:






Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Recipe: Pretzel bread

Ingredients:

  • 500g flour
  • 250g water
  • 10g salt
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • 20g yeast
  • 10-50g butter or oil depending on preference
  • Soda lye
Instructions:
1. Leave the yeast in some luke warm water to activate it.
2. Mix all of the ingredients except the soda lye into a dough. Let it rest for five minutes.
3. Shape the dough how you want - pretzel, rolls, sticks. 
4. Using gloves, dip the rolls in lye. Rest for twenty minutes.
5. Slit the rolls with a knife, sprinkle with salt and bake for 20 minutes at 200℃.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Make it Monday - Hama Beads

I saw this idea in a magazine a few weeks ago and I've always wanted to try something with Hama beads so I made a quick Amazon order and got cracking.

It was actually more fiddly than I thought and though I'd promised Isabella she could help and I did let her try, it's not suitable for a three year old.

I am pleased with the result though. It covers a glass with a hole in the middle for a straw to stop wasps sharing your drink in Summer. I think it works well.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Saturday Update

We've had a good week here. On Monday Joshua and I had brunch with one group of friends and Isabella had brunch with hers. The weather was glorious and everyone had fun.

On Tuesday we had our day out at the bird park which I already wrote about. That was a real highlight.

Wednesday was chaos with Isabella's friend visiting while the dads went to get wood. In the evening Dad arrived after a slight delay.

Nico went back to work on Thursday and I was glad of Dad's help with the kids. We got lots done including a bit of gardening.

Friday was even more productive with washing, cleaning, baking, packing, crafting, cooking...

Today I had an early start at 5am for my journey to England for my friends' wedding. So excited!

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Walsrode Bird Park

This week we had a lovely, family day out a bird park in Walsrode. The weather was fantastic.

We were there nice and early when the park opened and stayed until the early evening because it was so nice and the kids were great.

First we headed to the penguin enclosure for feeding time and Isabella was delighted to throw a fish in!

 We then wandered round the biggest bird park in Europe and visited everything from hummingbirds to the osterich. There were owls, eagles, hawks, parrots,... anything you could imagine, and a few you couldn't.
 There were also two shows, an indoor one with some tricks and comedy as well as information on illegal animal trade. The second was outdoors and a real spectacle with vultures and a bald eagle swooping over our heads. Amazing.
 When we'd seen enough birds we took the kids to the play area. There were lots of huge slides and nets for older kids. The highlight was a cross between a bouncy castle and a trampoline which we let both children loose on. They loved it!
 We took snacks and drinks with us. The kids were free and thanks to Nico's forward planning we got 10% off our tickets. It was great value and we'll definitely be going again.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

August Goals

Here are my plans for this month:

  • Start a new fitness routine
  • 2 letters
  • 2 recipes
  • Learn to play poker
  • Catch up with friends

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Recipe: Chocolate tart

I made these using this recipe. It's the same pastry as the peach tarts last week with a yummy chocolate ganash. I managed ten individual tarts from this recipe.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Make it Monday - Liquid Soap

This week I finally got around to trying my own shower gel.

First I used this recipe to make my own Castile Soap. It didn't go quite to plan. I think I'd gotten the temperatures confused since I was using an electric hob rather than in a crock pot. It took seven hours rather than three for the 'cook' and then I still had to dilute it after some more hours on the next day. It is runnier than I expected but it is a learning process.

I then used this recipe to mix the final shower gel. I love the freshness but do find it too runny. I'm hoping time or tweeking the recipe will help in future.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Weekly Wisdom

Everyone starts at zero.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

The Saturday Update

It's been a fairly quiet, relaxed week around here.

We started out celebrating my father-in-law's birthday with family. I always enjoy time with family and so do the kids.

We came back on Tuesday and had two quiet days as a family and getting caught up on bits and bobs. I ordered some new trainers after mine fell apart at the hen do and I want to start a new class in August.

Yesterday one of the friends who introduced us came over with her baby daughter. We hadn't seen her in a long time so it was really good to catch up.

Next week will start off quiet and get busier with Dad coming over and me flying to England for a wedding.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

July goals review

Here's how the month went:
-Sort out the hobby room - done!
-2 recipes - done!
-2 letters - nope, my penpal is on holiday...
-Get out more! - done!
-Start C1 training - done!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Reading Review

Sherlock Holmes Investigates - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Another of my children's classics collection, this was by far the easiest to read. It is a collection of Holmes' shorter cases and I knew some from previous forays into Sherlock Holmes territory (books and television) but there were still some new cases in there too.

Dark Fire - C.J.Sansom

This is the second in Sansom's Shardlake series and I went into it wondering how he could follow his first tudor times murder mystery. Well, it lived up to the first in every way possible. It was full of twists, different plot lines and a range of interesting characters. I'm even more excited for the third now.

Sepulchre - Kate Mosse

This is the second novel of a trilogy which I've read a bit back to front this year. It didn't really matter though. It works perfectly as a stand alone novel, while maintaining some character and setting links with the other two.

It follows Leonie, a seventeen-year-old Parisian in 1891 and a twenty-something American writer in 2007 uncovering some spooky family secrets. An enjoyable read.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Recipe: Peach Tart

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 113g butter
  • 1 large egg
  • Cold water
  • 1 large tin of peaches
  • Cinnamon
Instructions:
1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a mixer until it looks like fine bread crumbs. Make a space in the middle. Whisk the egg yolk with 2 tbsp water and place it in the space. Mix. Using your hands, combine the dough into one ball, wrap in cling-film and allow to rest for at least thirty minutes in the fridge.
2. Roll out the pastry to about 1/4 inch thickness. Line your pastry tins with it and push well into the corners. I used six small ones but you can vary this. Allow to settle for 15 minutes in the fridge.
3. Line the tarts with aluminium foil and top with dried beans. Bake at 180℃ for thirty minutes before removing the beans and foil.
4. Brush the pastry with the egg white and bake for eight more minutes until golden.
5. Slice the peaches and layer the slices over the tart. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar to taste. Bake for 25 minutes at 150℃.

Serve with cream or ice cream.