Category Archives: Home

This will be where we talk some about Nottingham and our place of residence!

Macedonia

We were plagued by the stomach bug this week! Yuck! We spent four days miserable and trying to keep up with the laundry and the diapers. This winter has been particularly hard with the sicknesses and the 7+ feet of snow in a matter of two weeks. So, I needed a fresh meal that didn’t consist of soup or meat. I wanted something fresh and clean. So, I decided to go around the Mediterranean for this week’s recipe.

Macedonia was the home of Alexander the Great (not Greece) and Mother Theresa. This week, I found a recipe for a cool looking filo pie. I love eating filo, I don’t have the same feelings about working with it. I think I may venture into the making of it for this European challenge, but I am not making any promises. Zucchini Swirl Pie (adapted from greek-recipe.com)
1 pkg filo pastry
1 large onion, sliced and caramelized
2-3 zucchini, grated
1/2 cup cooked grain (rice, quinoa, barley)
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup dill, chopped
3 eggs
pinch nutmeg
1/4-1/2 cup butter, melted
salt and pepper

1. Put the grated zucchini and 1/2 tsp salt into a strainer and let it sit on a plate for 1 hour. Use a clean towel and wring out as much water as you can from the zucchini.
2. Preheat oven 375F/180C.
3. Mix together caramelized onion, zucchini, grain, feta, dill, eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
4. Grease a cake tin or pie plate with melted butter. And create a work station. Unravel the filo pastry and have the butter and zucchini mix next to you.
5. Brush first sheet of filo with butter. Add 1/3 cup of zucchini mix to the shorter end of the sheet and roll it up like a log.
6. Starting with the perimeter of the dish, wrap the log around the side.
7. Repeat step 5 and continue wrapping the logs inward.
8. Brush the whole thing with butter.
9. Bake for 1 hour until golden brown and crispy. 

Edwyn loved this. I couldn’t cool pieces for him fast enough. David and I were also big fans of this. David said it was like quiche and spanakopita mixed together which is always a winner in our house.

Where to next?

Knit, Purl…

I have been a knitting machine. I created all of our Christmas gifts, David’s Birthday gift, and some socks for myself. I wanted to share with you my finish products of some of my creations.

The first was David’s Christmas/Birthday sweater. I think I have mentioned before that he has asked many times for a sweater. I have only knitted one sweater before and it was for myself and I did not like the outcome. So, this was a total leap of faith. Well, the finished product is amazing for a first successful sweater.

I used this pattern at Fibre and Spice. I made a few adjustments to it, but the most drastic was using the knit side instead of the purl side. I didn’t like the way the purl looked so I made the appropriate adjustments. I also used four skeins of Regia Highland Tweed in Olive.IMG_0055Next, I worked on some socks for myself. I am falling in love with hand knitted socks! Don’t get me wrong, I cannot wait for sandal and flat weather again but knitted socks have so much character.

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These were knitted with Araucania Huasco and I created this pattern myself but I am sure you can find a similar pattern on Ravelry or Pinterest.

image3So, now, I am on to some reversible slippers. This pattern has to be the most complicated pattern I have ever dealt with. It is double pointed needles and color work which translates to concentration. I have already knitted in entire slipper and unraveled the whole thing! You are not a true knitter unless you have done this. There is something gratifying yet tragic about unraveling an entire piece. Haha.

…Wake Up!

I have disappeared into a world of sleep deprivation and yarn. Since Christmas, Edwyn and Theodore have been teething and growing which means that we don’t get much sleep these days. In turn, my productive mind goes for the rhymic knitting strokes and not the cognitive thinking tasks like blogging or anything other than survival and knitting.

I think in the last week, my husband has really taught me that excuses are the real reason I have abandoned something that I truly enjoy doing, this blog. After all, he is writing a BOOK! Having children really does make you CHANGE. Parents are usually given a slow journey into parenthood. We were given the fast track pass. So, how do I set aside the excuses? By setting goals. I need my productive checklist to keep this mom on track.

For my Spring Time Challenge, I am setting a deadline for April 30th. This will be perfect timing as the buddies’ birthday is May 1st!

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My Spring Time Challenge

1. Europe Cooking Challenge – I will have completed at least 10 countries.

2. Knitting Projects – I will finish and share my slippers and the boys’ birthday gifts.

3. Photography Exploring – I will take at least 10 pictures of anything other than my sons, husband, or food. Hahaha. I want to learn more about light and color. Hopefully, I can stretch myself with this one.

So, what do you want to accomplish this season?

A Crazy Summer of Motherhood

What a crazy summer? I have gone through every emotion and every life moment in a matter of three months. The last year, I have been absent due to different changes and events happening in our lives. We found out we were pregnant in September, November brought the news of TWINS, January-April was prep for their arrival and our move back to the States, May brought the glorious mayhem of learning to be parents two times over, July brought a cancer diagnosis for one of the twins, August and September was the big battle and the big move.

If someone had told me the day I found out I was pregnant, waiting in that Starbucks bathroom for the blue lines to appear that a year from then I would be back living with my Mémère, with twin boys, and one of them would have cancer, I would have…done something…I don’t know what.
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This blog to me has always been an outlet for my expressive which is translated into food or work with my hands like needlework or art. Well, I have been using my hands for another purpose in my absence. I have been using them to feed, bathe, love on, wipe away tears, wipe away vomit, preform medical tasks, administer medications for the last five months and that is an extraordinary thing.

My life has morphed into something I never hoped it would be. However, I would not change it for the world. I have learned so much about myself as a believer and seen the future of my motherhood journey.

I am predicting that this blog will start to morph. It will start to evolve as I evolve into a mom. I never really thought about myself changing that much when I had children. But, now, I am understanding what women have been talking about for centuries. I will still be expressing myself through food and art but there may be a mommy blog or thought thrown in there. We will see and only time will tell.

If you would like to learn more about our summer, you can head over to our CaringBridge. David and I share more about our cancer journey with Eddy.

Homemade Baby Linens

Over the past month, I have been finishing up the prep for our little minions’ arrival. I can not believe we are only three weeks away before they have their eviction date.

We have been blessed by family and friends in the States and our friends and communities here in Nottingham. We find ourselves in a weird situation, as we are first time parents which comes with a whole new stage of life. Expecting twins, double the stuff required. Moving in four/five months overseas, don’t want too much stuff to send back or get rid off. This is why I have only collected and received the absolute necessities for our minions.

Some of those necessities, I decided to make myself. Our former housemates left behind a large stash of fabric. So, I went to work and I thought I would share with you what I made.

homemade baby linens
Number 1: Sheets for our Arm’s Reach Co Sleeper
Number 2: Burp Cloths
Number 3: Cloth Wipes
Number 4: Knitted Chevron Blanket

Sheets were definitely on my priority list. A few months ago, I purchased an Arm’s Reach Co Sleeper for our little ones. The bed attaches to our bed to help make those late night feedings easier. Seeing as I am having two babies to grab, change, and feed, I wanted to make my life as easy as possible. The only problem with this lovely contraption is the sheets. It came with one fitted sheet and to buy an extra I was going to have to shell out £20 each. This was not going to work for my budget or the fact that there is twice the amount of baby to make a mess of things.

So, I basically made large pillowcases for the mattress with some cotton fabric. Nothing fancy. I did leave a little bit of a tongue from the top part of the sheet so it could be tucked underneath neatly. It is a great alternative to messing with the elastic for a fitted sheet. This technique will also work for pack n’ plays.
burp cloths
Burp Cloths were next. Twice the amount of spit ups in my future. I already have a few cloth diapers and muslins that will work well but I wanted to make a few to be on the safe side. So, I used some pretty Mexican themed cotton fabric on one side and terry cloth on the other. You could also use old towels but I had some terry cloth lying around. Nothing too hard. Sew wrong sides together except a small hole to turn it right side out. Press, press opening down, and sew around the edge to close. Done.
cloth wipes
Cloth wipes are a simple creation. They are even simpler than the burp cloths. It is best to use cotton flannel for this project. Cut, sew wrong sides together on three sides, turn right side out, press, press open end, sew shut. I will be using some of the bigger wipes as wash cloths for bath time but the rest you use like wipes. You can spray the bum with water and wipe clean with the cloth wipe.
chevron blanket
Last was a knitted blanket. What kind of mother would I be if I did not knit them a blanket? I settled for the trendy chevron pattern with a teal, grey, and light pink colors. I used Rico Design Essential Soft Merino Aran in colors 013, 095, 040. If you like the design you can check it out here on Ravelry. I plan on making another blanket but carpal tunnel has recently set in and knitting is not the best activity for it.

So, that is all. Next on my list of things to do is to pack those hospital bags. Ahhh, this is getting so real!

Alive and More Than Well

What a few months I have had. First, I must apologize for my absence, but when I share the circumstances I am sure you will give me some grace.

September was the visit from my parents. We spent four days in the Lake District and then the rest in Nottingham with a visit to London on my birthday. The visit was much-needed and was very fun to show them our life here in the UK.

October was the sick month. The true reason I was gone for so long is because…I’M PREGNANT! I was able to share the news with my parents upon their arrival to the UK. I was feeling great when they were here. Except for a little fatigue and the super smell I was doing great. About a week after they left it was all down hill from there. I spent the whole month in a state of nausea.
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That brings us to this month, November. I have been on a slow incline of recovery. I go a few days with being fine then I have a day when I just want to spend the day in bed. I have experienced some cravings of salty and savory things. For me not to crave sweet things is very odd.

We had our first scan a couple of weeks ago. Here in the UK they only do ultrasounds when you are 12 weeks and 20 weeks. David and I were obviously very excited. I was a little nervous because it is the first real confirmation other than peeing on a stick. I am sure some other moms will relate to my weird nerves. The scan went well. A little too well. As we are having TWINS!!!!
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David and I have been in a state of shock ever since. Two babies, family of four, twins, two, have all been repeated everyday. Apparently, twins are part of my family history. We didn’t really know that before our surprise. Now, we know. We are so excited but also very nervous. 

So, I hope you are prepared to join me in this journey. If you are a family of twins, all advice is appreciated. I hope you are ready to watch these first time parents be broken in with two babies.

For now, my blogging mind is focused on Thanksgiving. We will be celebrating this Saturday with our American friends here in the UK. We are hosting and I am responsible for the turkey. I plan on sharing my turkey tales with you after. You will see why cooking a turkey is going to be interesting in my kitchen.

For now, we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

From our family (of four) to yours.

New Traditions and Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

When the New Year came around this time, David and I decided to make a few resolutions. We came up with a few of our own and a few as a couple. One of those resolutions was to start cooking together. As many of you can tell I am the cook in the family. I breathe, sweat, and dream about cooking. I like to believe that my passion has peaked some interest in cooking for my husband. Just as some of his interests have gotten me exploring. The wonders of marriage.

So, starting the beginning of the year we started to cook Sunday dinner together. Sunday dinner is something that I have always wanted to institute into our family and what better time than the present to start the tradition. So far, I have been planning what we make together but I keep in mind what David is interested in and what he would like to cook.

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I will admit it hasn’t been the easiest for his controlling wife, but it is a great learning experience. Just because he didn’t cut something the same way, he is not moving at the same pace as me, or he is doing something wrong in my eyes doesn’t mean he isn’t learning or that he is doing it wrong. I have learned patience and I am sure I will learn more as we keep up with this tradition.

sprained ankleI was thankful last week when I had a pretty painful sprained ankle. David was able to make us Carrot Ginger Soup while I helped coach from the couch. It was the best carrot soup I have ever had.

Last night, we cooked together making Lentil Shepherd’s Pie. I have made it before and I have come up with my own recipe. It is a great Meatless Monday, vegetarian, or upcoming Lent meal. David and I only eat meat about twice a week for budgetary reasons. We have decided to give up meat for Lent. We plan on only eating meat on Sundays during the Lenten season, so I am sure this recipe with come in handy. Lentils are a great bulk-er for vegetarian dishes. I just made this Lentil Curry and it was AMAZING! The recipe made it into my binder.

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Lentil Shepherd’s Pie (Serves about 8)

1 tbsp butter
2 leeks, cut into 1/4 inch half moons, wash throughly
2 carrots, 1/4 inch half moons
2 celery stalks, 1/4 inch chop
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkg mushrooms, quartered
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup lentils (brown, green, puy all work), rinsed and check for stones
1/2 cup red wine
1 bouillon cube with 3 cups water or 3 cups stock (vegetable or beef work great)
3 cups mashed potatoes (recipe follows)

1. In a large pot melt the butter over medium low heat. Add leeks and saute until translucent.
2. Add celery, carrots, and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes.
3. Turn heat up to medium high, add mushrooms, stir well. Stir every minute or so the mushrooms are able to cook and release their liquid.
4. Add thyme, bay leaf, pepper, and tomato paste. Let the tomato paste cook for 2 minutes.
5. Add lentils and stir well.
6. Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Making sure to scrap up all of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
7. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Check to see if the lentils are fully cooked and if it needs seasoning with salt and pepper. If they are not let them cook for another 5-10 minutes. If the lentils are cooked turn the heat off.
8. In a casserole dish, spread lentil mixture evenly in the dish. Top with mashed potatoes. Bake 375F/190C for 20 minutes.

Mashed potatoes are different for everyone. Skin removed or not. Lumpy or smooth. Thick or creamy. Everyone is different. So, here is the basics.

My Basic Mashed Potatoes (Makes about 3 cups)
3 med-lg baking potatoes, peel removed if desired (I personally leave mine on.)
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
lots of salt and pepper

1. Cut potatoes into strawberry sized pieces. The key to timing potatoes is the smaller you cut them the faster they will cook.
2. Add potatoes to a saucepan and add cold water so the potatoes are covered with water. I cover my pan to prevent water going everywhere.
3. Put the pan on high heat, bring to a boil and turn down the heat to medium. Potatoes will take about 10 minutes. If a fork goes through the potato without a lot of force they are done.
4. Drain the water but keep a little bit on the side to loosen your mashed potatoes.
5. I use a hand mixer(egg beater) to mash my potatoes. Mash for a minute, add butter, mix well, add creme fraiche/sour cream, lots of salt and pepper, mix well.
6. Taste and season accordingly. If you mash is too thick add some potato water to thin it out.

Also, I bought myself flowers for £2 and I really wanted to share them. They are beautiful roses and are still going strong after being in the clearance bucket and are now 4 days old. Go me!
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Well, I hope you enjoy your week!