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It’s all about Las Vegas…

I have to be honest Las Vegas was not on the top of my list of places to visit this year, I was thinking, London, Italy and maybe the odd trip to Florida or South Carolina… definitely not Vegas, although it was most definitely on my list of places I wanted to visit some day, just not right now.  

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Well why should the boys get all the fun, when they announced they were all getting tickets for the Furer verses Wilder fight, I announced that I would be gate crashing… and so our mini vacay was born.

What happens in Vegas will always stay in Vegas, but I’m here to give you a few hints… 

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I have to tell you the whole trip exceeded my expectations, what a crazy place to visit… as I sat last night in the Venetian Hotel sipping a rather nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc, listening to Opera singing and watching the world go by, I decided that Las Vegas was Disneyland for adults, and you know that I just love the Disneyland for kids, so why wouldn’t I just love the adult version too.

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We were all deciding which part of the vacay was our favorites, obviously Pauls most favorite part was the awesome fight he watched on Saturday evening, Florrie and Tate could not decide, there had been way too much fun to just pick one… for me it was all about the food, I am a total food snob, if I eat out and I think I could have made this better, I’m not happy, but I have to tell you from Eggslut to Eataly the food was awesome, but I do have to tell you that Hell’s Kitchen was my most favorite part, I was grinning from ear to ear the whole time, or so Paul tells me. 

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We have played a few slot machines, we didn’t win a dime, we have walked for miles and miles around hotel after hotel, we have drunk more Starbucks drinks than I care to mention, my bank balance is feeling a little lighter from the hefty price tag of each drink we bought.  We have drunk Happy Hour flights of wine with our older boys, and I have to tell you the $100 bottles of wine we got to sample definitely go down rather nicely. In all of our Las Vegas escapades I have been totally surprised and totally delighted in every way possible.

My favorite hotel by far was Ceasars Palace with the Venetian coming in a close second.  I loved the retro feel of the pink Flamingo Hotel, it felt very Vegas past to me, and I totally loved that vibe.  From cute outdoor wedding chapels to Gondolas floating through hotels, a skyline that looked just like New York to a beautiful castle that looked like it was from Disney, the Las Vegas Strip is the craziest place I have ever been to, but in a truly fantastic way.

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Now let’s talk about food and wine just a little bit more, my quick guide to great food if you ever decide to visit this fair place… Tom’s Urban had an awesome Happy Hour between 4 and 6pm, all alcohol whatever you wanted was 50% off, and when you are on the strip believe me Happy Hour is the way to go.  Eataly in the Park MGM Hotel was like a culinary trip to Italy, an upscale huge food court with an Italian flare, regional wines and delicious cheeses, they even had Happy Hour wine flights at different times of the evening, who wouldn’t want to sample a $90 bottle of red wine before they leave.  Now most of you know I mainly eat a very plant based diet when I’m at home, but these last few days I have treated myself to the most delicious cheese board, I had coddled eggs with puréed potatoes at Eggslut, well worth the 20 minute line to order, even the fresh cooked fries our children ate from the little food court were so delicious.  I did share the scallops on a puréed celeriac in Hell’s Kitchen with Lewis, and I have eaten simple delicious grilled cod with olive oil, salt and Pepper in Eataly… all absolutely delicious, I wish I could start again and eat them all over one more time.  The Crack shack had a delicious poblano and avocado scramble bowl, we’ve eaten shaved roasted brussel sprouts in Tom’s Urban and Eataly, oh and polenta frites they made were a treat for your taste buds.  

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We knew Hell’s Kitchen was a must, Dom had already been when he was on a trip with Jord a couple of years ago, so he went to bed after he stayed up all night in the Casinos… we got to Hells Kitchen earlier for brunch and Lewis joined us, we were a little disappointed not to see Gordon at the pass, as Paul had said hi to him getting in a Limo the night before, after the Boxing, we are still laughing at Paul getting the thumbs up from Gordon Ramsay as Paul shouted over to him. The whole experience in here was so professional from start to finish, our waitress could not have been nicer, the wine was on point, now I know it was brunch but when in Hells Kitchen it just had to be done, the food was absolutely amazing, Lewis raved over the beef Wellington paired with the most perfect red wine, the scallops melted in your mouth, my eggs Florentine on a beautiful green polenta cake was something I wish I could eat every single day… now if you know me well you will know I am not a desert person, but we all decided we had to at least share a couple… now don’t get me started on the sticky toffee pudding, I may be converted to a desert person after all, the chocolate mousse  cake was a master piece, and so delightfully delicious, it was hard to choose a favorite, but if I had to tell you which one… well it would totally have to be both. 

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From Casinos and arcades to beautiful warm swimming pools and gorgeous gigantic hotels The Vegas strip is well worth the trip, and if you think it’s not for kids, think again, there is something for everyone there, whether you are a big or a little kid… now if you haven’t visited this awesome place, I’m guessing your lungs will be thanking you, my one complaint is the cigarette smoke everywhere, when we walked from the sign yesterday it was so nice to be out and away from all that smoke, but with that said Las Vegas we will miss you, we weren’t quite ready to leave, it was all Pauls fault I  was all set to book a few days longer but he needed to get back to work so he can get some much needed money back in our bank account… LOL.  

So long for now… but we will be back!

VIVA LAS VEGAS!!!

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The land of the free…

Memorial Day weekend feels a little early this year, I guess because it’s almost a week before May closes out and June begins… despite feeling a little odd that we have celebrated and we have almost a week left in this month, we had an awesome time.

We celebrated an event that happened earlier last week on Saturday, Lewis’ Graduation with a glass or two of Prosecco, followed by an awesome family evening of chatting and laughter. Sunday was a fun day… NOT, we tackled the crowds at Costco in desperate need for some food it was a must… not one that I would have chosen if our cupboards weren’t completely bare.

Memorial Day was so much fun though… it started relatively early for us, Paul was preparing to take F and T to our local town parade, candy bags ready for the big collection and I was getting ready to take M to meet someone she has been chatting to on her college forum. We arrived in Morristown a little early so Century 21 is always a must to look around, for those of you who don’t know what Century 21 is, it’s a shoppers paradise with 3 floors of discounted brand clothes, shoes, homeware , make up, bags… you name it they have it… always so much fun to mooch around.

Later I had a couple of hours to myself, so after my much needed Starbucks I took myself and my new camera off to explore, it felt really weird for it just to be me, normally I have someone with me… but today just for an hour or two it was me, myself and of course my beloved camera… I love to people watch, so combined with awesome buildings Morristown didn’t disappoint, it was totally alive with Memorial Day crowds, sitting, chatting eating and just simply walking around.

Time flies when you are having fun… my final stop for the day was our friends Pool for a swim followed by a delicious BBQ. I met Paul and our children there, by the time I arrived F and T were already in the pool, splashing around with Jill, they had had an awesome time at the parade with their Dad and their candy bags were full, well fuller than they had been when they started the day, the sun was shining but the temperatures were so pleasant… it really was the perfect way to spend Memorial Day afternoon into the evening… friends, good food and beautiful weather.

Back to a normal week… last few weeks of schooling both home and High School… counting down until school is out for Summer Break, finally I will be able to kick back and relax a little… well almost I forgot we are about to enter Birthday Season in our house, and that is always a crazy busy time.

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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!

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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!

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

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Hot out of the oven…

Saturday, February 11, 2012

This week has been a washout in so many ways… We started our week with a washing machine that was not working… Bummer when you literally have piles and piles of dirty clothes to wash, where they all come from I just don’t know, I think my children hide them away and then they appear and it’s never ending!  Thankfully a very kind friend allowed me to wash Florrie’s things on Monday and then the Sears Blue Crew arrived to save the day first thing Tuesday morning… The problem was damn dog hairs blocking the pipes, I think the children must roll their clothes in the continual shedding dog hairs or maybe it’s because they can never find a laundry basket so then the dog sleeps on their clothes thinking its his dog bed… Either way someone has to go and it’s a tough choice between very messy older children and that damn dog… Ha, ha!

 

The rest of my week has been spent doing laundry, sorting out closets, baking and shopping, sort of in that order!  I finally got to my last pile of dirty clothes yesterday, I have washed and sorted Florence’s closet into order ready for spring as well though… A very kind friend gave me a lot of baby girl clothes which I just stored away as a lot of the sizes were bigger than my tiny newborn Florrie, well now, guess what she has grown into them… So i spent yesterday rewashing, ironing and rehanging them… Wow she has a lot of clothes, especially as I had a little shopping trip to Target on Thursday and got carried away with buying her very cute new clothes too… She is one very lucky little girl!

 

I have also been baking up a storm this week, my menu planning has kind of been sidetracked but we have had baked goods and ice cream… Scrummy homemade chocolate and then coconut ice cream to go with delicious warm spicy apple muffins, oatmeal cookies and chocolate dipped shortbread!  It was driving me mad, I am such a perfectionist, that I could not get the right texture in my muffins… Well after watching a few you tube videos… Voila, perfect appley muffins… Yay I’m very happy!  The same with my shortbread, it has just not been quite right until yesterday, I have been watching Laura in the Kitchen on you tube and she is definitely getting my baking skills back for me… Her shortbread recipe was sooooo good, although Dom the shortbread lover preferred Jamie’s recipe, but I secretly think its because it has sooooo much butter in it!

 

This week was Trep$ week for Mabel, so we have been busy preparing for the marketplace event on Wednesday… For those of you that don’t know, Mabel has been doing an after school club called Trep$, I’m sure it stands for something, but I really don’t know what… So, anyway Trep$ is a young persons introduction into the business world, over the last few weeks she has had to decide on what she wanted to sell, beaded bracelets, find the start up funding (of course borrow from your parents), learn how to make her product and then buy the materials needed… All in all it was a fantastic learning experience for both Mabel and her parents, ending in a very fun evening marketplace selling her very cute bracelets and making $50… Of course she seems to have forgotten she borrowed money from us to buy the materials, but hey, ho, she had so much fun, what’s a few dollars anyway!  Between buying the materials and giving her money to spend on other peoples booths at the marketplace, it was quite an expensive free after school club for me and Paul… Ha, ha!

 

One more thing to mention… Lunch on Thursday with my husband… So GOOD, and so unexpected… Florence slept through our whole lunch in Grato’s, it was such a nice thing to do to brighten your week, we chatted, ate, and drank (no alcohol though… Bummer) with no children interruptions – beef carpaccio to start, pizza and pumpkin ravioli with amoretti cookies all followed by a cappuccino… Perfect February spring like Thursday afternoon!

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Superbowl feast…

Friday, February 3, 2012

 

Wow… This week went past in a blink of an eye, one day it was last Friday and I was doing my weekly menu plan and the next minute, it is a week later and guess what I’m doing exactly the same thing all over again, except this week I have already done some food shopping in Trader Joes yesterday … So the menu has to be worked around the things I have already purchased!

 

Sunday – superbowl feast

 

Jordan – shrimp Tempura

 

Lewis – nachos and dip

 

Dominic – Mozarella sticks

 

Mum and Dad – chili, cheesy hot dog pizza and Wings

 

menu plan

 

Monday – pumpkin chili and rice (left over from Sunday)

 

Tuesday – Chicken and Vegetable Curry Soup

 

Wednesday – from the freezer – stuffed shells and meatballs

 

Thursday – Chicken and Broccoli Stir-fry

 

Friday – spaghetti and meatballs (cheat night)

 

Saturday – spinach, mushroom and cheese crust less quiche

 

Sunday – meatloaf

 

I had a fabulous day yesterday, the morning was spent having coffee and breakfast with some friends in chatham, then a very quick trip to Trader Joes and then my afternoon was spent having lunch and a glass of wine with another friend in Madison… All in all Florence and I had a beautiful warm ish February day out… Thank you, you know who you are!

 

The Superbowl final is upon us and although I know very little about American Football, I do know that the Giants are playing on Sunday… So in our house this means there is great excitement and for the first time ever we have planned a superbowl feast of a menu to go with lots of game watching…

Jordan is bringing Tempura Shrimp, Lewis is bringing nachos and dip, we are not sure what Dom is bringing (all changed now, he picked up mozarella sticks in Costco), I am bringing on behalf of me and Paul buffalo wings, chili and a creation of mine that I am going to try a cheesy chili hot dog bread style pizza… Well we will see how this one turns out and report back to you!

 

Have a great weekend!

 

Ps… the photo above is a bracelet I made for my friends daughter… what do you think? do you think they would sell on Etsy?

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Oh to be organized…

Friday, January 27, 2012

I finally got off my huge butt and went for a walk, I have been saying that I would do it for weeks now… yesterday I went down to station park in Sparta and pushed Florrie in her stroller, together we went for a walk, she slept and I snapped a few photos on my iPhone, just to prove I actually did walk, yes there are those non believers in my house!

 

January 2012 has bought a need deep within me to be an organized person, well that and a very unorganized life and house since I got pregnant… The only problem is Florence has decided she does not like being put down, she does not like being out of my sight… She just sobs and sobs and sobs!  Yesterday whilst I was showering i put her into her crib as usual with some toys and the tv on Blues Clues… Well you would have thought I had left her forever, she cried and cried and cried and cried until she almost threw up, yep that much crying and she could see me most of the time too… So this makes it very difficult to get anything done at all in the house… One clingy baby and 6 lazy children, time to get tough, well with the 6 lazy children anyway!

 

what’s for dinner in your house?

Ours was Jamie’s shepherds vs milkmans pie and it was delicious!  I’m not really sure what a milkmans pie is but I’m guessing it has something to do with the cream you add to the ground beef at the end, I personally just added a small amount of the fat free buttermilk, but it was delicious non the less… Definitely one to make again in our house… Everyone wanted seconds!

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I think we need some passports!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Our weekend was all about snow, soccer, passports and friends, in that order!  First thing Saturday morning we woke up to the snow, just as it had been forecast… As we sat in bed we realized that we had forgotten to get gas for our brand new snow blower, ha, ha, so funny, we bought it months ago and we had been waiting for the snow, but now no gas to actually use it!  Fortunately we only had about 5 inches of snow so we could drive over it and get some gas… Yay Paul could finally use his new toy, and yes… He loved it! (sorry I forgot to take photo’s of Paul using his brand new snow blower!)

 

Later in the day the roads were clear and we headed into town for a local soccer tournament for Blu… This was the first time he has gotten to play with friends from school so he was very excited, well as excited as Blu gets about anything!  It was a fun couple of hours, we met some new people and learned all about skiing in PA, so we may head over there next Sunday… Snow tubing, fun!

 

After the tournament we headed to a photographic shop to get passport photos done… Can you believe Blu, Mabel and Farrels passports have all expired, plus we need to get one for Florence… Passports are a nightmare when you live in the country you want them from, but try living 3500 miles away!  Firstly American passport photos are bigger than UK ones and secondly when you call the passport help line they not only charge you $2.50 per minute but when they answer they want your credit card info so they can charge you more money per minute whilst your left on hold!  anyway this photo shop in Sparta was very helpful and could cut the photos to the exact size for a British passport, yay, one part of it done!

 

Sunday we got the rest of the passport information completed online… Btw loving the smart form, but then our printer is a nightmare, or should I say our kids are a nightmare, because they keep on using all the ink, $50 worth of ink gone in less than a month… Anyway this meant we struggled to print off 2, 7 page passport application forms… 90 minutes later we were on our way to Fanwood to friends of ours, as he is Scottish and works with Paul at the bank so he can sign the photos… Yay another part completed!

 

I finally got all parts completed yesterday, a certified check or two from the bank, old passports, UPS store and $30 later they are on their way to the passport office in Washinton DC, hopefully they will arrive this morning at 10.30am, i am tracking them!  My next problem is getting a very kind American friend to come to the post office with me to sign Florences passport info, as that has to be signed in front of the collecting agent… Then hopefully we are good to go!

 

Back to menu planning for the week… Last weeks worked out very well, just one hiccup, pizzas on Sunday as we got home later than planned, but that was fine as it meant I had Sunday nights meal in reserve for yesterday…

 

What was for dinner in your house last night?

Ours was lasagna and a zucchini bake, a recipe idea from a friend that was delicious!

 

This is my menu plan for this week, most of the recipes are from Jamie’s Great Britain cook book, I also thought I would try a lemon and lime sorbet in my new ice cream maker and he has a recipe for Scottish shortbread, I’d like to compare it to my friends authentic Scottish shortbread cookies she makes… They are scrummy, so it will be interesting to see if Jamie’s compare… Happy cooking!

Tuesday – Cajun chicken pizza and fresh tomato soup (page 46)

Wednesday – from the freezer… Chili night!

Thursday – shepherds pie vs milkmans pie (page 238) and arugula and beet salad

Friday – granny smiths pork and rice salad (page 96) roasted apple and squash soup (page 60)

Saturday – empire roast chicken with Bombay roasties and amazing Indian gravy (page 138)

Sunday – get your own… We are going snow tubing!

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Ice Cream Maker…

Saturday, January 21, 2012

This week has been all about the ice cream maker… Ice cream maker I hear you all cry, it’s the middle of winter! Well with my addiction to all things blogging this week I have been interested in watching how a lot of people are making their own ice cream… No additives, no preservatives, healthy fat free, frozen yogurt, there are many possibilities, oh and I forgot frozen cocktails, now who could resist… Sounds good, even in the middle of winter and my children love ice cream any time, any weather!

 

The big question was ‘did I need an ice cream maker?’… Yes, I decided after much deliberation and of course the middle of winter is the perfect time to buy one because they are not in demand you can find somewhere that has a good deal on them, or so I thought anyway!  Well I did get $20 off in Macy’s but that was just an accident as they had not taken the reduced price sticker off so they very kindly honored the lower price… Yay $59.99 instead of $79.99!

 

I’m not sure that I will save a lot of money with making the ice cream myself over buying it when they are on special in the shops, but I do think it will be better for us… I will know each ingredient that goes into it, I can use organic products and also control the fat and sugar, so I think this will be a gadget that I will use a lot, but of course only time will tell, Paul does not agree, he thinks it will be one of those gadgets that just sits in my cupboard untouched for ever, well he does not know me so well, as I do not own one gadget that I do not use 100% whenever I can!

 

I made my first batch of delicious creamy ice cream last night (photo above), I took half the cream and replaced it with fat free organic half and half, I also replaced the whole milk to fat free and used light brown sugar… The result sumptuous creamy chocolate chip ice cream, I really thought I was eating the full cream version it was so good!  I will keep you posted on wether or not this is worth the money and how much I am using it!

 

This was my menu plan for this week:

 

Tuesday – orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe (page 71) adapted to my way

 

Wednesday – from the freezer

 

Thursday – soy ginger chicken (page 59) and quinoa salad

 

Friday – lighter beef chili (page 43) with rice and tortillas

 

Saturday – light chicken Parmesan (page67) noodles and salad

 

Sunday – healthier meat lasagna (page 76) and salad

 

 

 

I started on Tuesday as I managed to use a day from last week due to our unexpected take out night, I have also been using my new Martha Stewart LITE cook book… So far so good, we have had 2 recipes so far out of it and they have both been good, I did add a couple of ingredients to the pasta and sausage recipe, it was a make again in my house though!  I have decided that each week I am going to use one cookbook for recipes, so next week is going to be Jamie Oliver’s Best of British, I am looking forward to challenging myself and making the recipes lite, like the Martha Stewart one this week!