I was thrilled to be asked by Simone, who writes one of my very favorite blogs 'The Bottom of the Ironing Basket', if I'd like to contribute a Guest Post for her summer series 'Why I Live Where I Live'.
If you'd like to know a little more about me and my family and our moves between the UK, Netherlands and the USA, please pop over to The Bottom of the Ironing Basket.
So thankful that we have wonderful parks with fountains to cool off in. With temperatures this past week are in the high 80s and hotter for the weekend and coming week, I think the kids will be spending plenty of time standing under these cool showers!
4th July at the St Paul Rodeo. A real taste of Americana. Even on the drive over, we had Bruce Springsteen on full blast and the Huzz and son were wearing their Stetsons in the car!
It's such a fun day. The fabulous people watching opportunities, particularly the men, that wear their very best shirts, new boots, matching belts and of course a great Stetson. Lots of rides on the fun fair for the kids. BBQ'd pulled pork, ribs or spicy sausages. And of course the rodeo itself, with those wild horses, brave riders, lasso skills and speed of the women riders.
Fireworks, stars and stripes everywhere and such a wonderful patriotic spirit makes this whole event such a feel good day.
We have so many photographs, that it was hard to pick which ones to post…. here's a few.
A rather significant birthday for my Huzz and a well deserved 3 nights away for us to celebrate, escape and enjoy. Viva Las Vegas!
It was our first, but won't be our last, trip to Vegas and it was fantastic. Disney for Adults! No kids, little sleep, dinner at 11pm, lazing by the pool with a cocktail in hand, blackjack, roulette, champagne, a show and fun fun fun!
We stayed at the magnificent Encore @ The Wynn. Such a fabulous hotel, from the service, decor, gorgeous artwork, restaurants and overall attention to everything. We would absolutely stay here again.
From the luxury of the Encore with it gorgeous flowers and multi-million dollar artwork (the Jeff Koons below were two of many fabulous pieces ), birthday champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, to downtown Motels, strip joints and casinos, Elvis themed wedding chapels, and neon signs. There is something for everyone. We loved it all.
Another 12 days have passed in a blur since my last catch up here. It's been a fun time, and this is a little round up, thanks to my iPhone (rather grainy) photographs
I now have a 6th Grader. Well, that's what he's calling himself now that he 'graduated' from Elementary School this week and will be off to the middle school years in September. The last week of school was whirl of celebration that these kids had passed through the whole school. It's a relatively new school and most of the class of 2014 5th Graders were the first kids to go all the way through from when the school first opened its doors and they are Kindergardeners. He has seen a week filled with a bowling trip, field (sports) day (non-competitive sadly), leaving party, crazy hair day, final assembly and hugs and goodbyes all around as the kids go off to many different schools. He then went on to a friend's birthday celebration, sleepover etc and rolled home 24 hours after he left! Give me strength to get through these coming teenage years!
And then my little 5 year old finished Pre-school (finally), and we had lunches and singing and photographs with all the kids and their teachers. So sweet and so excited. She will be off to Kindergarden at the school my son has just left. One out. One in. And 6 years of volunteering begin again.
The Huzz and I had a fantastic night this week seeing One Republic live at an amphitheater on a beautiful hot sunny evening. We danced, sang and generally rocked out. Such a fantastic band live. I'm still recovering from the 2am bedtime!!!
Following up on my last post. I hosted a fantastic and hugely successful Jamie Oliver At Home party, introducing the fabulous products for the first time in Oregon! Such was the enthusiasm from everyone who attended, I have now become the 100th Jamie Oliver At Home consultant in the USA, and the very first in Oregon. So excited to represent this line of products. My consultants kit arrived and next my rather large order for personal and business use. Next week I'll be attending my first party as a Consultant, so I'm now busy practicing my routine and sales pitch in front of the mirror or in the car (with a few strange looks from fellow drivers!). If you're in the US and would like to browse the JOAH line, stop by my personal website and take a look. I bet there is at least one thing you'll love! You can also order direct from me.
Summer vacation is here. 3 months of summer fun and sun, hopefully! Wish me luck!
So thrilled to be hosting the first ever Jamie Oliver At Home party in Portland (and the Pacific North West) tomorrow.
Being a Brit, and having followed Jamie Oliver since his early days, when we were all more than a little taken with the idea of the 'Naked Chef' (don't tell me that didn't get you thinking?!), I'm excited to be having a house full of friends to view the Jme collection of products for cooking, entertaining, dining and serving that has become available in the US for one year now.
Our kitchen book shelf is heaving under a stack of Jamie Oliver cook books that we've collected over the years, and some of my favourite go to recipes are his. The best every Chilli con Jamie (I will use this recipe forever) and Chilli Cheese Cornbread from Jamie's America , and the delicious Seafood Risotto from Jamie's Italy are all regulars on our menu. Plus so many other great recipes.
I love Jamie's enthusiasm for food, but not only that. He is a real leader in bringing food education and healthy eating to kids. Teaching kids where food comes from and making the right choices. He now has the Big Rig here in the US, a mobile kitchen built in an enormous truck, that visits schools and communities giving children cooking lessons. The Big Rig has just finished at 40 week, 6 city tour, giving cooking classes to over 5,000 children.
Jamie is all about enjoying food, from the growing and shopping, to preparation, cooking, sharing and eating with family and friends, and the products are of a quality and design that goes hand in hand with all of this.
I'll update you after Tuesday with what I'm sure will be more than a few purchases I make.
Checking in on my blog after a prolonged absence, and I see the last post was 1st May. We're now at the 22nd! How and where did those 21 days go? The minutiae of May have swept me along these past couple of weeks.
Sun has shone, therefore lots more outside playtime for the kids, with their friends popping in and out of my kitchen on the search for ice pops, watermelon and asking to take bikes, scooters and balls out of the garage. I love that their friends are happy to come in and out of my house, always on the look out for an extra 5 minutes playtime any time of the day they can manage. Our neighborhood is perfect for this. Kids all matching in age ranges and parents sending text messages to let each other know when the little girls have arrived in their back yard. This is something I always wanted for my kids. My son arrives home from school with a couple of other boys in tow. They stop for some screen time or like this week, a street water fight! I feed them some cookies and fruit and send them on their way home for homework time. My son was very 'excluded' by the neighborhood kids when he was younger in the Netherlands and it was sad to see and for us to explain why, so I rarely say no to one of his (their) friends stopping by these days.
We got totally wrapped up in all the games of our NBA Trailblazers basketball team in the playoffs. Edge of the sofa kind of stuff, screaming at the TV (my 5 yr old said "Do you know that they can't hear you?!"). The highs and lows and final loss. I didn't realize I could get so 'into' a game and actually remember the players names! So looking forward to next season.
Finally, we are having garage clear out, the long overdue Spring clean that should have been done at least three Springs ago! We have boxes that have travelled from the UK to the Netherlands, then to the US, then back to the Netherlands and back again to the US. Many of these are folders and books and hours of work and study done by my Huzz for his PhD. I think he has finally decided that he'll never get any use out of them again and much of it can go into the recycling. And on my part, finally letting go of the baby/toddler stuff that I've been reluctant to pass on. Such cute wooden toys, in particular a little wooden cow and balance bike hat my Ruby would scoot around the house on when she was 2 years old. The bike seat that my kiddso would sit and wave to everyone from as we cycled around town in the Low Lands. A whole load of stuff has now been listed on Craigslist and two items sold immediately. Extra summer spending money! Discovering a huge box of photographs - yes real photographs along with the developed films in packets! Now that was a trip down memory lane!
Chauffeuring my son to his judo or rugby training has now been replaced with chauffeuring to his Physiotherapy sessions! His knees are slowly getting better but sadly the rugby season came to an end without him getting any more plays. Still, his team won the Plate and we all got to celebrate together with a pizza night out. Reminding him to do his home exercise has been added to the list of stuff I have to remind him to do! Boys at 11 years old seem to have huge memory loss when it comes to almost anything except how to play Minecraft and where the nearest snack is!
I'm trying out a new gym. Four sessions of yoga this week and my stiff back is already feeling more relaxed and flexible. I think a mix of running outdoors a couple of times a week and then a few yoga sessions will help me sleep and rest better.
It's good to be checking in again and even more so that I'm doing it on my repaired MacBook that no longer has a wonky screen with stripes going up and down!
My favourite colour for summer. Just a splash, not head to toe. I love this colour on my toe nails. It enhances even the lightest suntan and makes me feel so good. A few orange favourites from around the web today…
Spring has sprung. We have planted 3 kinds of tomatoes, 2 kinds of carrot, kale, 2 kinds of pepper, 2 kinds of lettuce and beets. Next up are some herbs (we have chives and basil). Now we sit and wait and hope for the best! Fingers crossed for a good first harvest and an abundant crop to keep us going over the summer. In the meantime, there are masses of recipes I've decided that we (I) must try over the coming months, filled with flavor and color to liven up your tastebuds!
I hope you had a lovely Easter weekend. Late this year, and very spring like. Doors were open and the kids ran in out out the house on the egg hunt this morning. I think they found all 100 plastic eggs with a mini chocolate egg in each (with a final little guidance from Mrs Bunny (ie Me!). And so the 'eating your own' body weight in mini chocolate eggs began and trying to have some control over how much chocolate the kids could actually eat without feeling ill !!!!
Saturday morning rugby match for my son, resulted in another knee injury (his weak spot it seems right now), and a finger that got stood on after his scored the first Try in the match, and is looking blue and swollen. Sport and injuries go hand in hand don't they. A doctor's appointment is schedule for the knees today! A tough match which his team ended up losing (with some very poor refereeing) against a team that were apparently in the same Grade as his team (but had thighs and waists twice the size of our boys!!!). Hmmmm.
We are getting all 'home grown' around here. The Huzz has made three fantastic wood planters and the kids have sown seeds for jalepeno hot peppers, Roma tomatoes, Cherry tomatoes, Queen Ruby Beets, Rainbow carrots and Little Finger carrots. We will watch in anticipation of our first crops (fingers crossed).
The Huzz and I had a wonderful Saturday afternoon with friends seeing Shakespear's Othello performed at the Armory in Portland. It was only the second Shakespear play I've seen on stage and it was fabulous. I am in awe of the actors and the huge amounts of Shakespearian dialogue they are capable of remembering and performing. Loved it. To be out on a Saturday afternoon, sans kiddos, was such a treat. We felt 'free' and relaxed, laughed more and it was a real break from the norm. Its now on our list to do more often. And I actually preferred our afternoon 'date' than an evening one in many ways: after a busy day with the kiddos, sometimes going out in the evening takes that extra effort and push (although worth it). Not just sitting in a restaurant, but being out and about, seeing people, shopping, cafes, wandering the streets just the two of us. I could get used to that!