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First snow day of the year…

Now what shall I do with a whole day trapped in the house by the falling snow outside… I am definitely not a winter person, but there is something totally beautiful about a snow day at home, photos of an excited Florrie and Lewis trying to build a snowman,  the fire roaring, a stock pot cooking away with natural ingredients smelling through the house and Disney Junior playing on the tv, and that’s all before 9am.

  
In the past year health has become a very important issue to me, two members of our house were diagnosed with long term health issues, I am not a huge fan of taking medicines but when you are faced with health issues then you have to do what is best for you, but I do believe that we can do more natural things to help us get better and stay that way, hopefully… And that is why I have been manic about a healthier lifestyle.

We are not totally gluten free in our house but with autoimmune diseases, gluten could be an issue causing leaky gut, these problems need to be addressed to help our bodies heal naturally, and that is something I am trying to do.  With so many people living in our house I always get comments about any new way of eating, but gluten free products are becoming more regular products in my shopping cart each week, of course clean eating with natural good quality products mean that less gluten appears in our meals.  

Bone broth is meant to have fantastic health benefits for every one, even if you do not have on going health issues, bone broth is a fantastic food to add to meals or simply drink alone, so that is why right now on the first snow day of 2016 I have a slow cooker simmering away with bones and vegetables making my first ever pot of healthy goodness… Believe me though, the thought of eating the marrow from those bones grosses me out totally, I know that the health benefits for my family far out way my feeling about this, so I think this will now be a weekly routine for me.  

A friend of mine recently told me of a farm she uses for her natural healthy meat she purchases in bulk, I love this idea, even with a large family I think I could make this work. Buying natural grass fed, organic meat is getting easier these days as I think more and more people are becoming more health conscious, but I really like the idea of knowing exactly where my meat comes from and how the animals are looked after, I am also hoping they can include bone marrow in the meat order too, although all the bones I cook with will be used anyway, it seems you need good quality bones for a really good quality broth.

My new kitchen is on the horizon after 8 months of planning and researching I think I have finally made a decision… IKEA it will be in March when they have 15% off all kitchens, I’ve waited this long I may as well get the discount, it’s a must when you are spending so much money.  I will finally be getting back into baking, cooking and just fun, fun, fun in my kitchen again.  IKEA kitchens are well thought out, the combinations are endless and with a few design touches here and there I feel they can be made to look custom not flat packed and boring.  I have looked at many, many kitchen cupboards, and although the IKEA cabinets are not that much cheaper than other places they do offer flexibility and they look stylish… The only downside that I can see is that they come flat packed, so that is a lot of IKEA instructions, cabinet parts and time needed to assemble them.

  
  
I guess today is going to be spent writing a blog, drinking coffee and of course some wine, cooking and eating, on today’s menu is nitrate free organic bacon sandwiches, of course GF bread, with eggs and avocados, dinner will be grilled sausages, creamy potatoes and a warm winter salad.  Florrie has plans to bake some cookies for everyone and maybe we will read a book or two together… But to me snow days mean chilling out with family safe and warm indoors… Whatever your plans today, stay warm, safe and happy.

  

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Can you believe 2015 has been and gone.

DSC_5627Like many people at this time of year I am not only reflective but also hopeful for a simple new year with lots of love and happiness around me.  As we enter 2016 I am thinking about how to improve my life, my list is as always, be more organized, spend lots more time with my family and friends and learn to move on, I always linger in the past wishing for simpler days, when really I should, look to simplifying my days going forward.

2015 bought many good memories along with some not so good ones, fortunately last year the good out weighed the bad, so I consider myself very lucky.  The year started with struggles in life in general, but there was hope that things might improve,  I am a firm believer in what hurts us only makes us stronger, and this is so true in my life, as I get older I definitely learn by the mistakes of the past.

The beginning of last year was brutally cold, our sad propane heating struggles to heat our house at the best of times, but last winter it failed miserably, but looking at the positives, meant it gave me determination to resolve the situation with a beautiful wood burning stove that heats our house perfectly now.IMG_0639

March bought about two special Birthdays and a new job in our house, my little Tate had his first Birthday  and two days later Paul turned 50 with a bang, a few days after that and after 29 years in his previous job, he very bravely started his new job, which so far seems to working out.IMG_0962

Our Easter tradition seemed to have started with our second Easter Saturday at the shore in April, it was very windy and chilly but it didn’t stop my Florrie from getting on the sand with her Dad.  May is always a busy month in our house with two Birthdays, an anniversary and of course American Mothers Day, but last year we added to our busy month with two graduations resulting in new degrees and then eventually two new jobs later in the year.  Florrie had her fourth Birthday, it seems hard to believe that this year she will be five, has it really been five years since that little ray of sunshine entered our lives.IMG_0751

Mabel graduated from Middle school at the end of June and we enjoyed a beautiful summer before she became a High School student, although I considered not letting her go, she is growing up so fast.  Summer flew by in a blink of an eye, but this year we managed to get away for a week to Cape Cod, a much needed break for Paul and myself.  We finally managed a trip into New York City to meet up with an old friend and his son,and we finally walked along the High Line, a trip we had been planning for a couple of years. August was filled with High School Soccer, heat week training, early morning practices and the start of the freshman and JV games for us, busy, busy, busy.IMG_1189

I have mixed feelings about Fall, on the one hand I love all things pumpkin, the beautiful Fall colors, warm soups and casseroles and apple cider donuts, but on the other hand, Fall means that we will be entering my least favorite season, Winter very soon, this year we have been very lucky though the weather has been mild and beautiful on many days leading up to Christmas, we even managed a day at the beach in December then sat outside a small coffee shop sipping coffee into the evening.  Fall brings along the pumpkin patches, corn mazes and lots of fun for Florrie and Tate, I love this season for all of those reasons and this year has been no different for me.DSC_3034

I consider myself a vey lucky ex-pat, I get to spend almost 3 months at a time with my parents, I love the time I spend with my Mum, but when she leaves it is the hardest part of living here.  Just before Thanksgiving, both of my parents arrived to spend a lot of this winter with us, Christmas day was in my opinion one of the best we have had for a few years, the day was so mild, my Mum and I drove to Starbucks for a quiet while after a very busy few weeks, we drove home to have a champagne brunch, opened presents, cooked and ate more food, my children all played board games, we then played Yankee Swap and then some more board games… just perfect.IMG_1431

We are very lucky to have some very kind friends both here in New Jersey and far away, this year we got to celebrate New Year in style with our very kind friends who live a 45 minute drive away from us… we love their family and their friends, it was so much fun to see them… thank you, you know who you are.

Life has its ups and downs for all of us and of course the past year was no different for us as a family, one of my children was diagnosed with an illness that can only be managed, and although as a mother I struggled and still do with the thought that I can not change this, I am learning to deal with it day by day and I think he is learning everyday too.  This year also saw the loss of a friendship for me over something so silly, if anyone knows me well they will know I do not give up on any of my friendships easily and this one was no different, but unfortunately she did not feel the same so I have had to move on, it makes me sad that this friendship came to an end, I miss her and her family a lot, but I have had to learn you really should not stay up until 5am drinking with friends, because some things that are said can never be taken back, even 2 years later.

I have no resolutions this year, I find I never stick to them so I just have hopes and goals… my one hope is that we all stay healthy and then the rest will hopefully fall into place… Happy 2016 to everyone, lets hope it is a good year filled with lots of laughter for all of us.