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Making changes…

Thursday, June 7, 2012

my first attempt at dress making

So blogging has not been top of my priority list recently, what with May being a busy month for us, our Anniversary, my Birthday, Mothers Day and then most importantly Florrie’s First Birthday… May just whizzed by us in a blur!  My mum has gone home now, has it really been 4 weeks since she arrived here… We had so much fun, this trip was about practical things like her teaching me to use the sewing machine, I could hand sew but I’ve never been very confident with the sewing machine… Well guess what, I’m not as bad as I thought, thanks to my mum, I’m now a whiz with a machine, ha, ha… Well I’m getting there anyway.  I managed to make Florrie a very cute outfit and a make up bag for a friends birthday gift… I now have many, many projects on my list to make, first off cushion covers to cover the hideous ones that came with the sofa!

homemade burger buns

My goals for this year are to learn new skills, I have a plan in mind to start my own business, I have been in talks with a friend about this for quite some time now… So with one new skill learned and hopefully being improved upon, I have many more listed to go… Learn to crotchet, practice my frosting skills for cupcakes, learn to appliqué …  Our new business idea is an events planning company… Who knows we might actually make it work!

Food and nutrition have been very important to me for quite some time now, it’s very difficult to feed fussy children properly, but I’m trying, it’s also very difficult to cook with a year old baby who is very clingy and on the go constantly, but again I’m trying… I’ve been trying to make my own  bread more and bake more wholesomely..  So far I made my own burger buns, they were the best burger buns ever (I’ll add the link at the bottom), and yesterday I made pita breads, I’ve been buying Trader Joes white whole meal flour and adding it to everything, no ones even noticed!  The other change I’ve made to our diet is whole grain pasta, I’ve been buying brown rice for a while, Trader Joes brown basmati rice, so good, but now I’m adding their brown pasta and also their brown rice pasta too! I make a pasta bake in my steamer with whatever veggies and protein I have in, just add it to the steamer coat in tomato sauce then cook, no ones even noticed… Having Jord with his stomach problems recently, really made me research and change the things we eat!

After reading an article a friend posted on facebook about canned tomatoes and the chemicals from the can reacting with the tomatoes, it has made me cautious about canned tomatoes, I have mainly stuck to plain pasta sauces in glass jars for everything I’m cooking, walmarts, good value one being my favorite, it’s so good with no additives either!  But now I’m thinking, with summer farmers markets just about to arrive its time to bulk make my own tomato sauce and glass jar it up, if that makes sense… My brain is not working very well today!

Diamond Julilee cake

This year I am going to use the fresh local foods from farmers markets, I’ve never really done this before, as it is much easier to shop for produce in the grocery store whilst you are there, but I’m going to make this a weekly outing for the children, adding in an ice cream store visit in for good measure… I also want to get them cooking much more too, hopefully this will encourage Blu to vary his diet and try new things,  so what better way to start than to actually go choose the food you are going to be cooking… Happy summer thoughts to everyone… The sun is shining and we are counting down the days until school is out… Long lazy hot summer days… Ahhhhh!

The website for the burger buns is – http://allrecipes.com/recipe/burger-or-hot-dog-buns/

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Friday, May 18, 2012

I cannot believe that Florence Elsie is going to be 1 tomorrow… Wow, that year has just gone by so fast!

This blog is for my little Florrie Flower, who brightens each and every minute of every day of our lives… As a mother the love for your child grows from the minute you find out you are pregnant, even though her little beating heartbeat surprised us all, the love that grew deep inside me blossomed right from the very beginning!  One year after my gorgeous baby girl arrived into our very busy chaotic family lives, the love that each and every one of us have for her is incredible, she has definitely added a new bright dimension to our days!

She already has 8 teeth, she is a bit of a biter with those teeth too!  She is well on her way to walking, with each and every day she gets steadier on her feet and is standing more, her crawling technique is different, one leg crawls the other sits and she kind of half butt shuffles.  Eating is just not her favorite thing she would rather nurse, yes I am still breast feeding, my boys hate it, but it’s something I love, she loves and it is good for her, so when she wants to stop I will let her, but for now, she loves to nurse day or night.  Her favorite foods tend to be finger foods, she loves carbohydrates, bread and pasta, she will eat steamed asparagus and green beans, but she is petrified of broccoli. How do babies know what all the sweet stuff is, Florence points and says mmmmm if she sees cookies, cake or ice cream, her absolute favorite thing to eat!

6 weeks old

If you say Simba my little Florrie will look for the dog and then in a high pitched noise make a woof, woof sound, she says mum mum and looks at me, she will cuddle in with her head and say ahhhhhh and if you tell her to blow kisses she will blow you a raspberry, she can also wave you good bye, then stand on her own for a couple of seconds and clap her hands together.

To quote a very close friend of mine… I feel like I could explode with the pure love I have for my gorgeous Florence Elsie, each and every day I love you more and more, if that is at all possible… You have definitely turned our family inside out and upside down, but I love each day watching you grow and change into the amazing person you are!

4 months old

FYI… Florence was weighed on Thursday, June 7th and she weighed in at 18lbs 11 ozs with her clothes on!

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School Uniform… yes or no?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lake Mohawk…April 16, 2012

Last night we attended Mabel’s last ever elementary school chorus concert, I know I’m biased but she looked so beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes just thinking about how grown up she is getting! It’s hard to believe in a few short weeks she will be leaving Alpine school to move onto the Middle school, how is that possible, she was my baby for so long… It’s even harder to believe that if we still lived in England she would be headed straight for secondary school, now that is such a very scary thought… all that school uniform I would have to buy… Oh how I love the no school uniform over here, now i know alot of you disagree with me over this subject, but after many years of doing the school uniform thing, I personally think it is so not needed.  Many people would argue, my Mum included, that it helps with discrimination against those who cannot afford the designer brands, well I would say that even with school uniform you can see who shops in Asda instead of who shops in M&S, or which child is wearing his older brothers very worn trousers and sweatshirts, and really we can all afford the labels our children want to wear just by shopping wisely, Abercrombie can actually be cheaper than Target if you keep an eye out for the extra discount sales on clearance!  There are also those people that would argue that school uniform is actually smarter than wearing your casual clothes, well to that I would say that it depends on the child, I had 3 boys in school uniform, and whether they wore casual clothes or school uniform they looked the same… Jord always looked neat and tidy in both sets of clothes but on the other hand Lew just always looked a little bit untidy, it was just the way he was when he was younger, school uniform really didn’t change the way he looked… Plus i always hated spending all that money on clothes and shoes i really disliked, i would have much rather spent the money on the nice brightly colored clothes they liked, like i do now!  So after standing on my soap box and giving my opinion on school uniform, I say to you all I just love watching Mabel choose her outfit each day and then running out the door to catch the bus knowing how much time she has spent on what she wears to school, now Blu on the other hand, well don’t get me started, all I will say is that in reality one outfit would be all Blu needed in his closet, so maybe school uniform would work for him… Enough said!

On a side note, I just wanted to say that some of the seeds I planted have sprouted up through the soil, Mabel and I are very excited to see actual green sprouts in the soil, so far the sunflowers are winning closely followed by the cucumbers and basil, I’m not sure what has happened to the strawberries, chives and parsley but we carry on watering them daily!  I also bought a small tomato plant, which hopefully I will be able to keep alive long enough to eat the tomatoes and my hydrangea is still looking good… Fingers crossed I may have a small kitchen garden this summer!

 

I’m going to try and make some fruit and yogurt Popsicles this week, I have some frozen fruit and plain yogurt to use up and some weeks ago I bought the Popsicle makers for the freezer with the intention of making them, well the box is still on the kitchen side unopened, my only excuse is that we did go on vacation for a few days in between.  so this week I’m going to get those healthy treats into the freezer, I’m sure Mabel won’t like them, she is so changeable with what she likes and dislikes these days. I’m hoping to get some vitamins into Blu, his sweet tooth is growing by the day and driving me crazy, maybe these will satisfy his cravings enough that he won’t actually realize they are healthy!

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Rainy Spring Sunday…

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Plan for today, a grayish Sunday in April… Lay in bed with my coffee, my baby girl asleep in my lap, get up and make Jamie Oliver pancakes (so easy, recipe down below) with fresh fruit and maple syrup, water my seeds, get dressed then head out to two soccer games, one in Bridgewater, the other in Madison before heading home to make parmigiana, prosciutto, mushroom and pea risotto with a green salad for dinner and of course then sit down for the evening with a large glass of read wine and my book!

 

Well that should be my Sunday… Fingers crossed!

 

Recipe for Jamie’s easy peasy pancakes:

One cup of all purpose flour

One egg

One cup of any milk you have in… Are you noticing an easy to remember theme here, one cup of everything and your done!

A pinch of salt

 

Mix all the ingredients together until blended, it does not matter if there are a few lumps left, I have my pancake pen (photo above) which I transfer the batter into, I love this so much, I make up double and then the batter put into the pen stores in the fridge for an easy pancake breakfast before school… heat a light layer of oil in a frying pan, I use a spray oil then add about a quarter of a cup three times to the pan, allow to brown slightly before flipping, brown again and then serve with whatever you like… So easy and so good, no need to even write this recipe down its that simple!

 

Next up… I have finally after a few weeks off have devised a menu plan for the week and here it is…

 

 

Saturday – Mediterranean chicken salad

 

Sunday – Parmigiana risotto with prosciutto mushroom and peas

 

Monday – Mediterranean turkey pockets

 

Tuesday – Roasted chicken breasts with grape orange and feta salsa

 

Wednesday – Chicken noodle strudel

 

thursday – Chicken romaine heart wraps

 

 

We are going healthy this week with lettuce wraps, salads and maybe a few substitutes for me with tofu and salmon, I bought a huge box of tofu in Costco yesterday, yes I love tofu, for $3.79, it was such a bargain!

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Basil, Parsley and Chives

Friday, April 20, 2012

Time to get back to menu planning, I realize when I don’t organize my meals in advance how bad mealtimes seem to me!  I’ve had two weeks off now, what with our trip to Cape Cod and then trying to get back into some sort of routine this week… Enough is enough its time to sort out next weeks meals, although I’m not very good at switching seasons with my meals, I always think that fall and winter are so much easier to cook in, I love casseroles, soups and just one pot meals in general, so quick and satisfying!  Spring brings along BBQ season, which I do love too, but then you have to plan sides and salads which I also love but it is alot of extra work all that chopping is very time consuming, so don’t be fooled that salads are the easy route for dinner, they can definitely take some time to prepare!

Spring also means preparing my outside decking room, this year we have put away our 8 seater table as it was just too large for our deck and replaced it with a much smaller iron table and we have gone very shabby chic/country, a style which I love, and matched the table with mix and match chairs, very cute!  Last year we bought lights to put up, but with having a new born baby they just did not get put up, so this year they are going to be put around the decking and then finally I want to plant some herbs and tomatoes, maybe some cucumbers into pots and have a little kitchen garden… So today I’m going to start by planting my herb seeds and fingers crossed they will grow, as I’m not the most green fingered of people out there, but I have managed to keep a beautiful hydrangea alive for almost a month now, with the help of Lewis whilst I was away… Yay for my greenish fingers!

 

One last thing before I start this beautiful day here in New Jersey, whilst we were in Cape Cod we stayed in the cutest little house by the sea, I loved the way the house was decorated and furnished, one of the ideas in there, I have completely stolen… At one end of the kitchen table, a chair had been replaced with a comfy armchair and a cushion… This is a fantastic idea and this week I have so copied it, although my armchair is slightly too low, I need to find a new one, it will be fine for now… We are huge kitchen people, it is the room we spend most of our time in, the comfy chair is so nice to relax in with dinner, coffee or a glass of wine whilst you sit and chat or just enjoy the sunny day by the open window… The best idea ever!

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MIA…

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

So the blogging has been MIA for a while, life has been so hectic over the last couple of months, my house is a mess and so I feel totally unorganized and chaotic… I don’t know why this is, but if my house is unorganized so is my everyday life… I find I moan a lot more, everything I seem to do takes much longer and I have no free guiltless time to do things I love for myself… Hence it is truly time to step into spring with a major clean up before the weather gets too warm to really have the energy to do anything… Oh sorry that has already happened, so I better get a plan of action and get the house in order!

 

Ok with that said, a plan of action formulated I want to tell you about my wonderful Spring break in Cape Cod… So the weather was cooler than here in New Jerseyand beach time for the children was a tad on the chilly side, but with all that said it was sooooooo nice to get away and relax… Massachusetts is a truely beautiful state and the tiny village of Barnstable was unbelievably cute, I could live there so easily, the people were so friendly!  Paul, Florrie and I tried out the local tavern and coffee shop and the cute grocery store is a must in every town in New Jersey!

 

We went with some close friends of ours whose children are almost the same ages as Blu and Mabel, this worked out so well as all 4 children had a blast and were so well behaved!  Florrie of course was a super star and loved having 2 more children to play with!  All in all it was a wonderful week tucked away in a beautiful village in Massachusetts … Not that I’m blowing my own trumpet as they say, but it will be an extremely tough decision choosing the photos to put in an online album as there are just so many great ones to choose from… But really the truely talented stars of the photos are the wonderful people we were with in Cape Cod… Thank you for a Spring Vacation we will remember for many years to come!

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Facebook is just like Marmite…

Saturday, March 10, 2012

As most of you know I am back from a little trip back to my homeland… Ha, ha!, good old sunny England, and this time the weather was very good and very sunny for the time of the year!

 

Well I just have one thing to say… Wow, how crowded can London get… Well the answer is very, with a capital V, it was so crowded with people rushing here there and everywhere it begs the question how an earth is London going to cope with the influx of people that will arrive for the Olympics? It has been two and a half years since I have been in London and I really did notice how much busier our capital city has become!

 

So the big question that came about from my trip was… are you a Facebook fan, do you love it or do you just really hate it?  This question seemed to come up alot in my two weeks away, it seems to me that Facebook is just like Marmite, you either love it or hate it!  So my question to you all is… What are your feelings about Facebook?  Personally I think FB has a lot of positive qualities, it is easy to keep in contact with friends near and far, it has reconnected me with friends and family lost in the past, and most importantly I get to see photos of everyone’s lives, these photo’s in years past would have been printed and stored away without anyone really getting to see them!  On the downside FB have the rights to all photos put on their site and also details about each and every one of us on there, but really if you don’t take FB too seriously and look at it like a magazine of family and friends lives and interests it can be fun, well that’s my opinion anyway… Tell me what you all think? At the moment FB is added to my two new fave sites Pinterest and Instagram, I am addicted to this world wide web that has evolved over the last decade or so!

 

To everyone out there that reads my blog… We had a great trip back to England, we stayed in London for most of our time there,many of our close family and friends came up to see us, we did lots of sightseeing and then on a couple of the days we went back to where we used to live!  Blu and Mabel stayed over with my parents and had play dates with their cousins… They had a blast!  I think I can say on behalf of my children their two favorite things they did in London were the M&M store, thanks Kate for the idea, and the Science Museum, the thing they liked the least was all the walking we did!  For me it was the shops and Covent Garden, not that I shopped too much, I was very restrained as the trip cost so much, but I have to say I am just loving the Cath Kidston Stores that have appeared since my last trip back… The one in Covent Garden was just sooooooo cute, I could have bought everything in there, it really took a lot of willpower to walk out of there with only a couple of things!  We also had a trip to M&S near to where we used to live… Mabels shopping basket was bulging, after a long debate I managed to reduce her pile of clothes to half, and Blu of course just headed towards the Percy pigs… Candy mad!  Covent Garden as always mesmerized me, I absolutely love it there, I think it is one of my favorite places in the world to just be in, sit, eat, shop and of course enjoy a glass of wine with all the hustle and bustle around me!

 

On a last note for today, I want to say a huge thank you to all my family and friends that made this trip so memorable, to my Mum and Dad for tirelessly catching the bus up most days, to my friend for a fabulous day out in M&S, to Kate for the great idea of the M&M store, Blu and Mabel will love you forever for saving them from the British Museum, oh and let’s not forget the pop rocks you got them hyper with… Ha, ha, to Lesley and Martin for our last minute night out, even though their son had been extremely sick in hospital (hope Josh is much better), oh and I must not forget to say I love my union Jack Tins Lesley, thank you so much, to my brother and his family for a wonderful day out on the River Thames or not as it turned out to be, to Paul’s Sister and her family, Jane and Dave for a wonderful drunken day in my favorite place, Covent Garden and to everyone else I managed to squeeze into seeing on my brief trip… You know who you all are… Thank you!  And to those friends and family I did not manage to see, I am so sorry we missed you… Next time, or maybe you could come and see us here in New Jersey, you are all, always more than welcome!

 

Photos to follow… It may take me a while,as, in true Karen fashion I have taken nearly a thousand photos on my two cameras and my iPhone so it may take me a while to sort through them!