New year…


I’m not sure it really feels like New Year to me yet, for the first time ever I slept right through it, getting stomach flu on vacation was not quite the plan but it happened anyway, hot, cold shivers, violent headaches, stomach pains, nausea and the dreaded run to the bathroom, all led to me wanting to just sleep in bed for three days, but I didn’t, you are only on vacation for such a few days and I wasn’t going to let this thing keep me from getting out and enjoying Arizona, but I did let it allow me to sink into bed early each night and sleep on and off through each evening and night, including New Years Eve… so there were no tears of something lost and happiness of something new this year, just sleep and then more sleep.

IMG_1504 2

Although I was still kind of out of it on New Year’s Day, feeling a little better but not even 75%, we spent the day in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been privileged to go to… Sedona AZ… if ever you are lucky enough to travel to Arizona make sure Sedona is on your places to visit list, well that’s if you don’t decide to just stay there for a few days… everywhere you look the views are just stunning and surreal, sit in Starbucks sip coffee and the views are phenomenal, grab lunch at one of the many places to eat and the views are out of this world… my only criticism would be that some of the places are a little too touristy and the shops tend to be a little generic, but I wasn’t there to shop, even though we did do a little, obligatory teenage girl Sedona sweatshirt shopping, Mom and Florrie got handmade healing necklaces, oh and an unexpected find of summer Harlem pants… to just sit relax and take in that fantastic scenery that just surrounds you everywhere you look is just amazing and so calming.


I don’t know why but I always feel a little apprehensive at the New Year… the thought of what a New Year can bring, has had me a little depressed this year. It is silly because really it’s just another day, but it really seems such a big deal… I was reading all these positive New Year posts on social media and I had to stop and give myself a good talking too, although last year was tough with my Mum getting sick there were lots of positives… three of my older sons all have good jobs now, we have had three vacations, one was unplanned to see my Mum, but we still got to see family and friends and see the new regeneration of a town we grew up in and our older children grew up in, our children are all doing well and are happy, Paul and I are in a really good place with our relationship right now and my Mum is through her chemo now and on the other side, she is the bravest person I know and I am very proud of her. So I think I need to start looking at New Year in a new light from now on… how exciting is this year going to be?


No resolutions from me this year, another first… just intentions to be a healthier more positive me… I want to continue my healthy eating campaign… get back to the cardio and yoga I was doing until I damaged my ankle, no more excuses though, more meditation and learning to relax… and over this winter I want to stay in the warm hibernate by the fire and fuel one of my passions photography, I want to improve my skills, more reading and practicing, I want to be as good if not better than the talented people of the photography Facebook groups I follow.

But for now I am going to enjoy my last two days in Sunny Arizona… relax in the warmth, soak up as many rays as I can because on Saturday when we arrive back home it will be freezing and I need this warmth to last through until Spring… Happy New Year everyone ūüéČ



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!



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!


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!


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!


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!


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‚Äôs 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!