Wednesday, 17 December 2014

the countdown has begun …..

There's been a lot of fun going on.  My son Luca turned 12.  Whaat!  TWELVE - that's nearly a TEENAGER!  How?!   His gaggle of mates have grown so fast this past year, there was no I was having them at home to celebrate.  An afternoon of indoor rocking climbing and boldering kept them busy and wore them out.  Followed by lots of this cake!!


We had a family birthday dinner at our favorite pizza restaurant in Portland - Pizza Scholls - pizza heaven!  Ordered too much.   Ate too much!

We hosted our 3rd annual family Christmas drinks for our neighbors - 21 adults, 16 kids and 1 dog!  Busy, loud, chaotic!  Yep, the lot.  Fun to have everyone over, no babysitters required, and everyone walking home afterwards - thankfully as the Spiced Rum cocktail certainly hit the spot!

I love the house right now.  Christmas decorations sparkling all around the place.  One tree looking fabulous and glittery in silver and lights, the other with every kind of ornament collected over many years, crafted etc - with hardly a green branch in sight!!











I am like an elf, hiding away in the guest bedroom, to be found under roles of wrapping paper, boxes, ribbons and tissue paper!  Everyone knows this room is out of bounds (although if I were them, I'd have been taking sneaky peaks just like I did as a child!).  Shush don't tell.

We took the kiddos to see Walking With Dinosaurs and had a great time.  Ruby couldn't decide if they were real dinosaurs or not!

We've seen our first Chritmas movie - The Penguins of Madagascar - I laughed out loud many times.  Great lines.

We are counting the days until Christmas holidays.  The kids break up on Friday.  Everyone is in need of lazy mornings, no alarms going off at 6am, movie watching, feeling festive and doing little.  The countdown has begun!

H A P P Y   T H U R S D A Y



Sunday, 7 December 2014

all i want for christmas

I'm sure I nearly broke the internet this pastnweek with all my online shopping!  As most of our gifts go to family and friends over in the UK, internet shopping is the only way to go to avoid crazy shipping costs from the US to 5000+ miles away!

So now everybody else is taken care of (including doing all Santa's work for him too!), my thoughts turn to a few things that caught my eye during my shopping marathon.  Maybe a certain someone will read this post!


nails inc. London 'Snowflake' Nail Polish (Limited Edition) 




(I smelt this on my best friend and itwas wonderful)





Fiddle leaf fig - I'm going to place one in the living room area, by the window.

A tall beautiful Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree in a big white pot.




Modern, eye-catching and sure to be a conversation starter.

Dwell Shiny Urchin Sculpture decoration


H A P P Y   M O N D A Y





Sunday, 30 November 2014

all eyes on warby parker and ghostly eyewear

So the time in my life has come to start wearing glasses.  For many years I loved going to the opticians with friends and family to help them pick new glasses.  I'd actually spend more time trying on different styles and looking at myself in the mirror than I did being of any help to them!  Wishing away the days until I too could wear some of my own.  Well, now that time is here and it hasn't been that easy to choose.  I've visited a number of opticians, tried out more pairs of glasses than I can recall and got equally confused with them all!

Today I sitting here in my purchase which arrived last week. Finally I found a pair I like and now I have to get used to them which is kind of strange and also making me feel a little queasy!
I mean if you want to wear glasses just for fun that's perfectly fine. But always remember that some people actually need to wear them and don't do it for the fun
Just after I purchased my new eyes to the world, I got an email from Warby Parker - the cool eyeware people that want purchasing your glasses to be easy, fun and not leave a gapping hole in your bank account (cheers to that during the Holidays!).  Warby Parker has another mission besides getting you clear vision and looking good at the same time.  There are apparently almost one billion people worldwide without access to glasses, so approximately 15% of the population unable to read, learn or work due to lack of clear sight.  Warby Parker is working towards solving this problem with partners like VisionSpring to ensure that for every pair of Warby Parker glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need.  You buy a pair and they donate a pair - so far one million pairs.  Love this idea.





Warby Parker has just reissued its much admired Curtis range in collaboration with Ghostly International, this time in limited edition colors - Aubergine Fade, Moss and Bourbon Tortoise and always classic Black.  My go to color would have to be the Moss (I'm always drawn to anything green).   And, if you escaping the winter chills for warmer climates, check out the sunglasses too.  To top  it all, Warby Parker do a 'try at home' service too (with free shipping & returns) - pick out 5 frames, try them out at home and see what your nearest and dearest think of your new look, then make your choice and purchase online. Another great idea.

So now I may need to get a spare pair of glasses, as I'm sure I'll end up putting my glasses down and spend half the day wandering around looking for them!


Thursday, 27 November 2014

hot hot hot hot chocolate

My kids arrive home from the school, and the first thing they ask for on these chillier days is a hot chocolate and a cookie (or 4!).  It's that comforting drink to warm up and feel cozy whether it's after a bike ride home from school, a long walk on a blustery day, or a snuggle on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon.
Ultimate Hot Chocolate / Jamie Oliver
I have great memories of drinking the most amazing chocolate drinks in Madrid during the Huzz and my first wedding anniversary.  Breakfast was the thickest chocolate drink - where the spoon really could stand up by itself - alongside with warm freshly made churros!  Mmmm! No calories there at all!
Spanish Hot Chocolate and Coconut Churros
My kids don't get that kind of chocolate indulgence, but I do like to throw on some mini-marshmallows, whipped cream and a dusting of chocolate powder.  That puts a smile of their faces before homework begins!  This chart gives you lots of ideas to pimp your hot chocolate this winter, be it with a touch of chilli pepper, Baileys, Nutella, or even Lavender which sounds amazing.  
How to Spice Up Your Hot Chocolate by naturalpuresimple #Infographic #Hot_Chocolate

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

happy travels

Full Tank  |  Bare Feet on the Dashboard

Back Roads  |  Sunglasses

Windows Down

Singing at the top of our Voices

She didn't care where she ended up. She only knew she couldn't stay in this place another second. Too many broken promises. She let her mind spin like the odometer on the dashboard. An apartment devoid of her presence would greet him when he woke. 78,323...78,324...78,325...


Travelling often becomes a huge part of our lives at this time of year.  Whether it's planes trains or automobiles.  Visiting family and friends in the same town, next State, across the country or overseas.  Almost every one I know is either on the move or has family travelling to spend time with them for Thanksgiving or for the coming Christmas holidays.  AAA estimates that 44 million of us will travel 50 miles or more over the Thanksgiving break!  Wow!

We do love a road trip and an adventure, and we've already started talking about which part of the US to explore next summer when family from the UK comes visiting.  This year we spent two weeks exploring fabulous central and southern coastal Oregon, visiting places we'd never seen or heard of before (post here and here). Camping at beaches and lakes, a cabin and few nights hotel stays.  We loved every minute and only wished we'd had more time to spend longer in places we discovered along the way.  The year before we made a wonderful trip to Glacier National Park, taking our canoe and tent and enjoying the amazing scenery and fresh air and the joy of the open road and space space and more space (post here)!



And when we aren't road tripping in our own car, then car hire is one of the priorities when booking a trip as we love to explore our destination and not stay put in one place.  Usually we use one of the big name international car hire companies, but I was interested to hear about RelayRides - a company that provides peer-to-peer car rental, connecting car owners with renters.  Basically putting your car to work for you by sharing its idle hours with others.  Interesting idea don't you think?  So if you're planning a trip to, say Portland, then you should take a look at RelayRides airport rentals and see who might be offering their car for rental at PDX, or search for a particular car you'd love to try out for a change.  Less cars sitting around, and hopefully some great deals out there too.  Definitely worth a look for the next trip.

RelayRides asked if I'd share some of our essentials for taking a road trip, so in no particular order, well maybe some kind of order, here we go….

Snacks!  Always much discussed in our family!

A mix of treats and candy that we'll eat far too much of.

Atomic Fire Balls  |  Twizzlers
Maltesers (malt balls here in the US)
Banana chips  |  Apples
Pretzels  |  Apples
Carrot Sticks.
 Never bananas as they always get squished!
Lot of drinks.

Music Movies and Electronics

A great play list of music you love.  There is always plenty of singing out loud of course.

A few movies loaded onto an iPad or DVDs.
A couple of old favorites, and one or two new ones.  They usually end up on repeat.

And NOT forgetting those all importand chargers, extra cables, headphones
(who wants to hear two different movie sound tracks going at the same time?!)

Activities

The kids love to play the Road Trip Bingo App.
I also pack things like pipe cleaners, mini-white boards,
pencils and pens, coloring books, word search, books,
beads and string,
and lots of stickers.

Comfort

Our road trips always include some camping, so we are fully loaded with bedding.
In addition, the kiddos like to bring along a favorite fleece blanket
to snuggle with in their seats, or to hang up over a window to stop the sunlight coming through and spoiling movie watching.
+
An extra pillow to stop all heads dangling and falling forward.

For me, always a big soft scarf/wrap, sunglasses and my handbag nearby with all by 'bits and pieces'!


Map v Sat Nav!

As much as we all rely on the satellite navigation built into cars or using our phones these days,
I do like to bring along a good old real map.
I love following our route,
finding interesting names of towns along the way.
Taking detours to explore somewhere new always adds to the adventure.

(and boring but essential things like trash bags, first aid kit, wipes, emergency tool kit etc etc!)


So, here's wishing you happy and safe travels whether it be across town or across country or across continents!

E N J O Y!



Wednesday, 12 November 2014

delicious squash recipes

Tis' the season of the Squash!  Not only is it great for decorating the house for Halloween and the Fall, the fabulous squash, in its many forms, makes delicious meals too.  It has become one of my favorite vegetables to have as a side dish, or even on its own.


Baked Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar

So simple and so delicious.


Spicy Roasted Squash

How good does this sound with bacon!  Mmmm!
Warming, filling and perfect for the Fall

Something a bit different from the same old pie- this Pumpkin Creme Brulee is so silky smooth! With brown sugar and fall spices, it's one of the easiest recipes you'll ever bake  ;)

Can you imagine!  Mmmm!


Enjoy!

Monday, 3 November 2014

jamie oliver at home - my favorite pieces

I mentioned here a while ago that I had become the very first Indpendent Consultant in Oregon, representing Jamie Oliver At Home - the first US business of one of our favorite Brits Jamie Oliver!

It's been a fun couple of months.  How cool is it to be introducing something completely new in the US!  Inviting people to home parties that they've not heard of before on been invited to time and time again. Being with a company at the very start of its journey.

Personally I think Jamie and I are a good match.  Both being British is a good start and our double act (him on DVD - me doing my thing) seems to be working a treat at all the parties I'm organizing.  I've been a fan for years.  My kitchen bookshelf is lined with Jamie's books - I certainly haven't made every recipe, but I can tell you I absolutely love reading them and looking through them.  What a great personality he has, and what a great mission to get people back into their kitchens, cooking, sharing and enjoying homemade food with family and friends.  Better Food for a Better Life.

And the Jme collection isn't half bad too!!  Actually I love them.  Before I decided to become a consultant (taking a small step back into the 'paid working' world after being a stay-at-home-mum for the past almost 11 years), I wanted to see the Jme Collection in person, to ensure I loved it and that I'd use it.  Well, that was easy!  My kitchen is now fully stocked.

So here are a few of my very favorite pieces that I use every day and that are truely great additions to our everyday family meals and entertaining with our friends.

my.jamieoliverathome.com/victoriafoord








Hope you have a great week, filled with good food and good times.



Wednesday, 29 October 2014

a taste of fall

Well, since my last post, Fall has arrived for sure.  We've visited a pumpkin patch, new rain boots have been purchased, the garden furniture has been covered up, the grill cleaned and stored in the garage, and thoughts are turning to warm filling meals and cosy evenings home.  Goodbye summer - it was outstanding.  Welcome Fall and all the warm colors and equally warm dishes that you bring.




I love the colors of Fall (who doesn't?) but I'm not so keen on the rain that comes down in bucket loads here.  Walking the dog at 6.30am in the dark, enveloped in a layer of rain resistant clothing, Hunter boots and a scarf is not my idea of fun!

But on the upside, I'm loving the homemade soups and risottos, and red wine and hot chocolates - in no particular order!

Bring on Halloween (I say reluctantly!)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

endless summer

Just as we thought the summer was coming to an end - boom - we get a scorcher of a weekend and spent the whole day at the beach on Saturday, kids swimming in the Pacific ocean (which really was the warmest we'd ever found it) and squeezing out the last of the sun lotion too.  Playing Petanque and throwing a ball around.  Running along the beach with our dog and enjoying the blue sky and warmth of the sun.  Amazing and beautiful and we must have said 100 times "Wow, we are so lucky."

Last week with a few days of rainy grey skies I heard a number of Portland people say "How lovely, Fall is here".  "Isn't it great to have some rain."  Even "Let's hope summer doesn't return.".  Yes, Pacific North West people do love their Fall, changing of seasons, leaves the most amazing colors and the damp cool air.  But I am loving this elongated summer and I'm hanging onto every last one of those extra sun-filled days.











Monday, 8 September 2014

off to kindergarten


Back to School- Decor-Signs- 10 Free Kids Printables: The Creative Connections Features
Today was the day!  That first step out into the world of Big School.  She was so ready for this next step and all went smoothly and she came home just as happy as she did went she left.

The school bus, eating lunch in the 20 minutes they have, 3 recess breaks (quite the high-light!), music lesson, helping the teacher, writing out the month calender.  She did it all.

More than a few tears came to my eyes throughout the day thinking of her in her classroom.  Learning how it all works in class, listening, raising her hand, walking in line, waiting her turn, not burst into song every now and then (it can often feel like we live in an opera with this singing girl!).

She did great.  And I did great too!  Long may it continue!
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