Monday, 14 April 2014

fresh and raw

# vegetables # - The Mighty Little Green Pea... Right off the Vine... Yum...
After more than a little indulgence on our vacation, we are now back in the swing of life back home, eating at home more than eating out, and a little health kick.  Most of my grocery shopping this past week has been fresh fruit, salad and vegetables and almost everything I've eaten has been fresh and raw and delicious.  Thankfully the weather has been pretty nice here, as I'm not so sure I could eat so much cold food if it were mid-winter!

I try to buy organic whenever possible, and particuarly for those which are known to contain high amounts of pesticide, as listed here.

This was pretty much everything in my shopping bags.

Red and White Cabbage
Red and Yellow Peppers
Bean sprouts
Romaine Lettuce


Favourite breakfast of the week

Banana, apple, greek yogurt with honey, sprinkling of granola

Favourite smoothie of the Week 

Spinach, Pineapple, Mango, Strawberries and Almond Milk.

Favourite Salad of the week

Red and white cabbage, bean sprouts, red pepper, broccolli,
 cranberries, almonds with a ginger/mandarin dressing

Favourite lunch of the week

Homemade 20% whole wheat bread with mashed advocado, salt and pepper and chilli flakes
(I could eat this forever!)


Homemade red pepper humus on whole wheat bread.

Feeling healthy!

Happy Monday to you,


Images via Pinterest

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

our Hawaii vacation


We are back in the real world!  Back to school, work and quite a drop in temperature!

We took at extended Spring Break (half term) vacation to the island of Kauai in Hawaii.  The Garden Island.  So tropical, green and lush.   This was a return trip to our favourite island, that we'd last visited 8 years ago when Luca was 3 years old. Now 11. Where did those 8 years go?

When we vacation, we like to split the time up.  Half the time in a hotel and the other half in a vacation rental property.  It makes the whole trip seem so much longer and we get to experience two totally different weeks.

The kids loved spending time at the hotel pool, over indulging in hotel buffet breakfasts (eating their weight in waffels and pancakes every morning!), making friends, trying out some new activities, exploring the hotel on their own etc. Whilst the Huzz and I enjoyed the odd Mai Tais and hot tubs by the pool side!

And then when we moved onto the beach house where the kiddos could exlore and find frogs and toads, geckos, roosters and chickens passing through the tropical garden.  Trees were laded with papaya (sadly not ripe yet) and coconuts.  There was a lovely bridge from the garden, across the a stream that led to the path just a few minutes walk to the beach.  We walked down to the beach first thing in the morning, with our mugs of coffee in hand, and strolled along the sand of the almost private beach (the road to the beach was so off the beaten track that barely anyone would visit it).  We discovered lots of great local food and had the most fantastic fish tacos, macadamia nut icecream, and the juiciest sweet pineapples.

My son and I took our first open water scuba dive together - I think he may be hooked!   And we all snorkeled every day seeing so many fish just steps into the ocean - Luca even saw an octopus.  We were lucky enough to swim alongside so many turtles just doing their thing in the ocean, not bothered or concerned about us being there.  And on a couple of days at the beach we got to see two turtles and two monk seals swim up onto the beach for a lazy after sleep in the sunshine!  Wild life in action right there.

We are slowly getting back on track with being home, but as usual during that first few days home, I find mind self thinking "This time last week we were….. ".  Ok, on with the laundry it is then!


Friday, 21 March 2014


Friendship Graphic Quote #greatquotes #friendship @mamamissblog
Apologies for the lack of blogging.  I've pretty much had a screen free week (well ok, the occasional peek at Pinterest and Instagram!).  Instead I've been enjoying the company of a great friend visiting me from the UK.  She has been on a bit of a extended vacation - Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia and then her final week with me.  We go back around 15 years, meeting via a mutual wonderful friend, and the last time we saw each other was at our friend's wedding in 2009, and yet it seemed like yesterday!

C knows me from my single girl London life pre- husband / kids / grown-up responsibilities and living overseas.  Pre-grey hair making an appearance and and more than a lines around the eyes!  It felt so good catching up, shopping, sight seeing, watching movies, drinking cocktails on Saturday evening, after an afternoon shopping (memories of London life came swimming back).
Celebrating Friendship...there is nothing better than a true girl friend!
Having moved back and forth between the Netherlands and the US twice during the past 10 years, there's an element of starting again, meeting and making new friends, putting yourself out there and welcoming a new life.  I find as I've grown older that I really know the kind of person I like to become friends with, and of course that narrows your 'friend radar' more than a bit. And it takes a while to feel relaxed and really be yourself with new friends.  Spending 5 days with my friend made me feel like I was 'Me' again - it was like a mini girls vacation.  Housework got pretty much forgotten and the weekly schedule changed to accomodate day trips and evenings out.  From excitement at the Trailblazers basketball game one night, where were laughed, danced, cheered and screamed for our team, too a peaceful morning wandering around the Portland Japanese Gardens.  We watched two of my favourite movies - The American and Elizabethtown.  A day at the beach, a day in town having brunch, pedicures and shopping.  We ran the Portland Shamrock Run early on Sunday morning, and I ran a PB!  We had brunch, lunch, coffees and cocktails this past week and I enjoyed every minute of our time together.

There is nothing like spending time with an 'old' friend.  Nothing like someone who knows you well and has shared memories and laughter together.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

25 Manners Every Kid Should Know by Age 9!

friends and good manners
My sister sent this list to me (maybe she was hinting!).  She has two children of her own, age 3 and 8 and is working hard, as we all are, on improving manners and trying to get her kids to remember the basics at least!   My kids are age 11 and 5.  They do pretty well with their please and thank you without too much reminding (actually better when they are away from home and with friends which is good to hear).   But there are more than a few on this list that we need to work on.

My son has one very good friend who has impeccable manners.  When he arrives at our house he always says hello and asks how I am.  He is happy to stand and chat for a few minutes about whatever I may ask him.  He never misses a please or thank you or goodbye.  He always checks with me before doing something new.  There is another friend of my son, that leaves the front door open every time, never says hello, never says please or thank you without some prompting and is generally very poor in the manners department.  It's a stark contrast.

"Manners Maketh Man" so goes the quotation.

So, here's the list of suggestions on what manners a child of 9 should be aware of.
  • When asking for something, say "Please." 
  • When receiving something, say "Thank you." 
  • Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.  (Why do my kids always want my attention when I am talking on the telephone!?)
  • If you do need to get somebody's attention right away, the phrase "excuse me" is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation. 
  • When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later. 
  • The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults. 
  • Do not comment on other people's physical characteristics unless, of course, it's to compliment them, which is always welcome. 
  • When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are. 
  • When you have spent time at your friend's house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had. 
  • Knock on closed doors -- and wait to see if there's a response -- before entering. 
  • When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling. 
  • Be appreciative and say "thank you" for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect. 
  • Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant. (I must remember to say how 'boring and unpleasant' bad language is when my 11 year old throws out something in a fit or rage!)
  • Don't call people mean names. 
  • Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel. 
  • Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.  (We've all been in this situation on occasion and struggled to stay awake!)
  • If you bump into somebody, immediately say "Excuse me." 
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don't pick your nose in public. 
  • As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else. 
  • If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say "yes," do so -- you may learn something new. 
  • When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile. 
  • When someone helps you, say "thank you." That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers! 
  • Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.
  • Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.  (And don't wipe you hands 'secretly' on your trousers under the table!)
  • Don't reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.

I would add that good behavior at the table generally is mportant.  This can be so trying right now with my own kids.  They may be playing quietly and nicely, but as soon as they asked to sit down for dinner they start acting up, egging each other on, playing the clown!  Aaahhh!

How do you think your kids are doing?  Would you add or change any of the above?  Are you working on different 'manners' that you feel are important too?

Monday, 10 March 2014

Pamplona and 'The Paris Wife'

I have just finished reading 'The Paris Wife' by Paula McLain.  It took me a little while to really get into the book, but then I could hardly put it down.

The Paris Wife

An historical fiction novel about Hadley Richardson, the first wife  (The Paris Wife) of Ernest Hemingway, and their years together.  The book tells the story of their early romance, great love for each other, marriage, trials romantically, financially and emotionally.  As newly weds they relocated from the US to Paris where Ernest struggled to find himself and to write the novel that would catapulte him onto the stage as a celebrated writer.  The books focus is on Hadley, her challenges as a devoted wife, friend, mother and Ernest's muse.  The years that the Hemingways' spent in Paris where heavy drinking, open marriages of friends, making connections with the 'right' people, glamour, affairs and jealousy, changed their love and their lives.  It was an emotional read.

Hadley and Ernest spent a lot of time in Paris and travelling to other European countries, but reading about their time together in Pamplona, Spain was my favourite.  The heat and feel of the city, the bull run, cafes and bars all brought back wonderful memories of Pamplona where the Huzz and I spent a few days during a 3 week Spanish road trip we did together in 2001.

I remember having breakfasts in Cafe Iruna where Ernest Hemingway had sat writing and drinking with friends and Hadley. The little hostel where we stayed, with a double stained glass windows that opened onto the street below.  The cobbled streets.  The town hall with window boxes overflowing with geraniums. The piazza where there was a huge demonstration early one morning, when a number of huge trees were cut down so that a parking lot could be built!   Whilst in Pamplona I had to buy Hemingway's book 'The Sun also Rises' (Fiesta) as a souvenir.

And so I went on a 'digital' search back through our hard drives looking for photographs of that trip in 2001. We didn't actually take as many photographs as I'd thought.  Here are just a few of Pamplona from 2001.

The windows of our apartment.

Inside Cafe Iruna

The beautiful piazza and trees that were cut down.

Poster advertising the bullfight

Fabulous hams in a cafe.

I'm now going to reread 'Fiesta', to relive the memories, and as I haven't read any other Hemingway novels, I'll be pickng a few from this selection and see how it goes. 


The Torrents of Spring
A Farewell to Arms
To Have and Have Not
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Across the River and into the Trees
The Old Man and the Sea
Islands in the Stream
The Garden of Eden


Men Without Women
Winner Take Nothing
The Snow of Killimanjaro


Death in the Afternoon
Green Hills of Africa
A Moveable Feast
(a memoir with much reference to his life with Hadley which I think I may read next)
The Dangerous Summer

Have you read any Hemingway?  Any recommendations?

Friday, 7 March 2014

a step into spring

Daylight Saving Time happens this weekend.  One hour less sleep (added to all the other hours sleep I've lost this week!) and one step closer to Spring.  Sunshine, filling the planters with flowers, open windows and doors and a fresh breeze.  This afternoon (after a week of what felt like a monsoon), the sun shone, and Ruby and I had lunch sitting outside on the deck in the sunshine!  Shock!  Blue sky and actually removing a cardigan as it was warm.  Long may it continue.

Today has been a day of household maintenance - furnace (boiler) service and replacing filters, central vacuum service (filled with pine needles from Christmas trees of past!), replacing 4 light bulbs (why did 3 die in the past two days!).  Lots of things checked off the mental List.  And one reason for my lack of sleep last night was that at 4.30am the battery in the gas / carbonmonoxide detector decided to give up and beeped for the next few hours!  The only way to reach it was to get a ladder from the garage, and at 4.30am I just buried my head under the duvet and tried my best to get some more sleep!   So a new battery was installed and I'm hoping tonight will be restful!

This weekend the Huzz returns from a 7 day trip.  Ruby has made him (another) welcome home card!  A birthday party and a little garden work are planned.  And that's just about it.  Nice.

Happy Springlike Weekend.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

a new week rolls around

I hope you had a great weekend.

I took the kiddos to see The Lego Movie, which they loved.  I had a little nap in the middle of the movie, but then I seem to do that during most kids movies at the cinema these days!  The kids came home inspired to get to work on their Lego mountain (thankfully) and a new city is being resurrected as I blog!  Everything is Awesome!!!

We also went to my son's drum teacher's home to hear him and 3 other musicians (piano, saxaphone, bass) put on a little jazz concernt.  Wow!  So impressed by their skill and love for music and how they instinctively moved from one piece of music to the next from memory of years and years playing.  Ruby's comment was "Why do they have their eyes closed when they play?"She has been asking to take violin classes (eek - I believe I will have headphones on permanently for the next few years with the violin and Luca's drumming).

I'm longing for spring now. Last weekend we had sunshine and blue skies on a day at the coast.  And now this weekend (and the whole week ahead it seems) its rain rain and more rain.  I have these new Adidas Dragons that I want to wear all the time (but not in the rain) but it looks like the Hunters are going to be my footwear of choice this week.

The Huzz is the pancake maker in our house.  A stack of fluffy American style pancakes graces the breakfast table most Sunday mornings.  He is travelling this week, and so it will be up to me to rustle up pancakes for Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras / Pancake Day.  American style pancakes I love with maple syrup.  But the large thin pancakes I had as a child, I will always have with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar.  Delicious!
British-style pancakes... the ones they make for Pancake Tuesday! Yes, I finally looked up a recipe...
This made me chuckle.  Someone commented "the sweet spot gives you pancakes". :0)
via Pinterest

Here's a couple of links to start your week with.

10 Things You Must Have in Your Home by the Age of 30! - Well, I'm past 30 and I'm short on a couple of these must haves!    How about you?

What your Starbucks drinks says about you! - I'm a regular 12oz, 2% milk, latte drinker all year until the Pumpkin Space latte arrives and that's all I'm about!  What's your coffee fave?

Hope its a good one for you.

Monday, 24 February 2014

dramatic eyes

I don't wear much make-up - a little cover, lipstick and blush and high-lighter.  And almost no eye make-up, just a little brush of mascara now and again (I can never seem to find one that stays in place!). And yet I love the idea of wearing eye-liner and eye-shadow. Thick, dark and dramatic.  I love these looks and would so love to recreate, without looking all panda eyed or like I've come off worse in a boxing match!
bold eyes, nude lips.
Pixie cut.
Loulou Robert in Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream in Intense Blue and NARS Outremer Single Shadow
eyeliner love 
tocca fall 2012 

Maybe next time I pass one of a cosmetic counter at Nordstrom or Macys I should ask them to make up my eyes for me and have a little try out by a professional hand, rather than a smudgy, wiggly look done with my own fair hand!

Do you try out new make-up styles, or do you have a tried and tested look?

Thursday, 20 February 2014

baking around here

I've mentioned here before what a fabulous bread baker my husband has turned into. Who'd have known when we met that I'd never have to buy another loaf again!  Ha!

Every weekend our kitchen turns into a mini-bakery.  Social events and life outside the house are all timed around the bread he is making and how attentive he needs to be!   Huge containers line the kitchen counters, with dough in its various stages.  Jars of grains and seeds line up in the cupboard.  Clouds of flour fill the air.  During the week I often receive a text message in the middle of the day saying "Can you please feed my starter?" if he's rushed out early in the morning!

He has recently been perfecting his baguettes (of which my son can demolish one loaf a day!).  And has now turned his hand to making bagels.  I'm am so done with the commercial soft spongy kind.  His bagels are delicious!  Sesame seed are my favorite.

And a killer for the waistline are the maple glazed bars which he tried out over the recent 'stuck at home due to snow weekend'.  Maple glazed bars are possibly my favourite kind of doughnut and I can see these will become a regular requested item from the house baker!



If you fancy trying your hand at bread making, two books my husband highly recommends are Chad Robertson's 'Tartine' bread books (San Francisco bakery) and Ken Forkish of Ken's Artisan Bakery (Portland bakery).  Both books provide clear concise steps to creating your own 'artisan' bread at home.  He started out on his bread making journey with Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'Bread Bible' and swears by the focaccia recipe from this book and this is also a fabulous book that guides you along every step.

Happy Baking!

Monday, 17 February 2014

beach house dreams

sandy toes & salty kisses
(all images via Pinterest)

My Huzz grew up living at the coast in the UK and spent years hanging out at the beach.  From weekend jobs as a teenager setting out rows of the great British deck chair, to jumping in the ocean in the midst of winter!  We both love beaches, oceans, fresh air, walking and having fun at the beach.  As soon as we mention going to the coast for a day trip, whether it's on a chilly winter day, or a basking in the sunshine kind of day, our family springs into action and loads up the car pronto!

It's our dream to one day live with a stone's throw of the ocean.  Morning walks along the beach with our dog.  Coffee in hand. Wrapped up against the elements, or basking in some early sunshine.  Watching the weather come inland from far out at sea, whether it be storms or showers, sunrises or sunsets.  Kids skim boarding, climbing the sand dunes, picnics, sunbathing, building sandcastles or digging enormous holes.

When I'm browsing on Pinterest (which is far more often than I like to admit), I'm always on the look out for for beach house inspiration. And I can often be found scouring property websites to get an idea of what's out there.  Putting together ideas and plans for the future dream beach house that will hopefully one day become reality.

Here's some of my inspiration…
Landström Arkitekter - Projekt - Fritidshus Dalarö
Weathered wood and a big deck.

Seaside Style Porch

Neutrals, benches and a fabulous ocean view.
An outside shower.
Living Room white and wood
White, creams and wood.
white #living room design|
A fresh kitchen, with big windows and a little spash of color (love this blue/grey stove).
Grey / white
Adirondack style chairs and sheep skins to keep cosy.
Fresh clean white and bright bedroom.
Blue white and crispy clean.

Beach house dreams are made of this!

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