Monday, 26 November 2012

A British attempt at Thanksgiving

Ok so not a whole turkey, but they were delicious!

My first attempt at cranberry sauce

Parmesan potatoes and vegetables.  No alcohol with dinner because of my troublesome kidneys

Another first - baked sweet potato with a roast dinner!

Harley eyeing up the turkey.

Apple crumble and custard.

Lemon meringue pie.

Okay, so us Brits don't technically do Thanksgiving, but my friend Tyler is studying here in the UK and his family are back home in North Carolina so I attempted to make him a Thanksgiving.  It turned out to be so much fun and a good excuse to pig out! I'm not claiming that it was anywhere close to what Thanksgiving dinner should be and most definitely not how his family would do it but I was pretty pleased with my cranberry sauce and baked sweet potato with dinner! Tyler tried to convince me that brown sugar was good on the potato but that just wasn't going down with me!! The desserts certainly did though! Once Halloween has gone here in the UK it is impossible to get a pumpkin anywhere, so we had to make do with some fake ones on the table! Apple pie, custard and lemon meringue pie went down a treat though.  Three quarters of the pie just for me in fact!

Whilst I was cooking Tyler taught Megan all about Thanksgiving and answered her questions and although it was a bit strange having a turkey dinner at another time other than  Christmas, I think we may do it again next year!

Friday, 16 November 2012

I'll just put the kettle on...

This week I am exhausted. Completely exhausted. I'm struggling to get up in the mornings (the dark cold mornings don't help) and my schedule has been non-stop. On a very positive note though it has been a productive week with lots of appointments and conversations that have started with "I'll just put the kettle on..".  It would seem in Britain that a cup of tea can overcome all manner of problems and as a complete tea pot I am completely happy to carry on believing it! 

Tuesday was such a positive day, at an Autism support meeting, I was able to talk over a few issues that I have been having with Megan's specialists and how overwhelmed and tired coping with everything I have been feeling of late. Over (yes, you guessed it) a few cups of tea we were able to talk through a few options and I left feeling less overwhelmed. That evening I also had Megan's parents meeting, which I was also very pleased with. I moved her school a few months back after we had moved closer to my family and I am so happy that I did. Her teachers here are fantastic, they are behind me 100% with Megan and by putting things in place to help her get through the day. They are playing to her strengths and as far as possible removing any triggers that make things uncomfortable for her within the school environment.
I'm so proud of her work aswell, they have recognised how good she is at literature and she is now doing year 9 high school work at year 6 in primary school! All in all a good day.

Wednesday proved to be completely chaotic as we had four school groups in to learn about Cardiff's history. Safe to say the pot of tea and gluten free cupcake (pictured above) from my favourite coffee shop in the historic arcades, went down a treat and restored calm!

This week Megan and I tried our hand at making gluten free pain au chocolat. They turned out pretty well for a first attempt I think!

Thursday night however, my body gave in. Everything started to ache and my body was telling me I needed to rest. I had an early night and spent yesterday at home looking after myself. When I'm unwell I obviously need to recover as quickly as possible, so I took Megan to school and returned to bed for a couple of hours. I made the most of a peaceful house and had a lovely hot bubble bath, whilst reading home decor magazines and drinking copious amounts of super fruit tea.

This weekend I will be doing more of the same. Lots of clean food, vitamins, scouring the Internet for vintage finds & cuddles with my princess. To start it all off though.......a cup of tea in bed of course!!!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend x

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Remembrance Sunday - Lest We Forget

The Final Inspection

The soldier stood and faced his God
Which must always come to pass
He hoped his shoes were shining
Just as brightly as his brass

"Step foward now you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek,
And to my church have you been true?"

The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
"No Lord, I guess I ain't,
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be saints

"I've had to work most Sundays
And at times my talk was tough
And sometimes I've been violent
Because the streets were awfully rough"

But I never took a penny,
That was'nt mine to keep
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills just got to steep,

And I never passed a cry for help
Although, at times I shook with fear
And sometimes, God forgive
I've wept unmanly tears

I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here
That never wanted me around
Except to calm there fears

If you have a place for me here O' Lord
It needn't be so grand
I've never expected, or had so much
But if you don't I'll understand"

There was a silence all around the throne
Where the Saints had often trod
As this soldier waited quietly
For the judgment from his God

"Step foward now you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell"
Author Unknown

Lance Corporal Dale Hopkins
28th September 1985 - 6th August 2009

We will remember you and all the other brave men and women who have lost their lives serving and protecting us.

Also,those who survived and have been left with the physical and mental scars of war and their families and friends who are left behind.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Film and Food Friday

We were going to be visiting my friend this weekend but she is unwell so will be staying at home.  I have yet to tell Megan as she is still in school but I am planning a cosy film night instead for us, leaving her to choose dessert and the film.  I have really been enjoying some home cooked comfort food this week and have been slow cooking a Moroccan Lamb Tagine since this morning to enjoy this evening.  

I love clean but tasty food and this tagine is so delicious and can be eaten a variety of ways - on a bed of spinach, with rice or quinoa, or as a soup with some crusty warm bread. It is also gluten free.

There are many recipes out there but here is mine:

Serves four.


1 x shoulder of lamb, trimmed and cut into 5cm/2in chunks (about 1.1kg/2½lb meat in total)

1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground black pepper
1½ tbsp paprika
1½ tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large onion, grated
3 cloves garlic, crushed
115g/4oz dried apricots, cut in half
55g/2oz raisins
85g/3oz flaked almonds
1 x 400g organic chopped tomatoes
600ml/1 pint lamb stock or water
1 or 2 tbsp clear honey


* I lightly brown the lamb on the hob using half a tspn of coconut oil and then add to the slow cooker.

* Add the spices and mix to cover the lamb.

* Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on low for 6 or 7 hours.

Thankful Thursday

This week hasn't exactly been running smoothly. It was Megan's first week back in school after our holiday and Autumn half term and we are still trying to get back into routine.  I had planned last week to start a new weekly recipe post as friends are often asking for ideas on what to cook.  I also planned to post about our Bonfire Night celebrations and What I Wore Wednesday but it's just not happened.  This has been a week where I am running on empty and there have not been enough hours in the day.  It is now a week since my last blog post and I may not make it by midnight as today was nearly a twelve hour day out of the house with training, meetings etc in work.  An unexpected long day though did make an excellent excuse for a Costa pick me up and the first black forest hot chocolate of the 2012 holiday season! Yes, mine was the largest one!

Although it's been a tough week I am counting  myself lucky for many reasons.  I am extremely thankful for the special people in my life who are there for me no matter what.  This weeks highlights include:

 * Bonfire celebrations with family and friends and Megan coping relatively well with the evening.

* Making Hershey's hot fudge ice cream sundaes and enjoying a glass or two of North Carolina spiced rum with my good friend Tyler and Megan (obviously M didn't partake in any rum drinking!).

* M's school recognising her ability and implementing high school English work for her, so she is not bored continuing at primary school level. She is loving analysing poetry and received A* in English Literature and B at Maths in her assessments.

* Recognising the support I do have not what I am not receiving. Thank you to my good friends Tyler and Crissie for listening to me, my mother for helping reduce the stress on the mornings I work by taking Megan to school and my aunt for her support in dealing with doctors and authorities with getting help for Megan.

* My friend Deb aka Shoeless-Deb of Walking by Myself, calling me and getting me through an awkward situation that I couldn't get out of with someone from my past.  Laughter is the best medicine!

I'm now looking forward to a catch up with my friend Gemma who had a beautiful baby girl whilst I was in Florida and taking Megan to my oldest friend Helen's house for the weekend once she's finished school tomorrow.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Welcome November & October's favourite things

I can't believe that November is here already! This year is going so quickly and I have welcomed in November by spending the day digging out my kitchen cupboards and cleaning everywhere! This time of year with Christmas approaching always makes me feel as though I need a good clear out, I think it may be as I know with the bad weather we will be spending more time indoors. As today was my day at home and the first day since we got home from America that I've had a bit more energy, I got going! 

Anyway, back to October for a moment. I did intend to link up with Dancing with Ashley for October Favourite Things yesterday but my laptop has broken and I was trying to figure it out. No such luck though so forgive the photos from my iPhone and here goes.....

October was really all about our trip to Florida. Megan and I travelled with my parents, my sister and her husband and my niece and nephews. It was so lovely spending some quality time with my little munchkins (children not adults, just to be clear!) and making some very special memories.

The weather of course was another big bonus! Sunbathing in October was the best and I'm trying my best to keep my lovely tan! Unfortunately one of my best friends was unable to make it down to visit us, but we were very lucky as our friend Emily took time off work and made the journey down from North Carolina to join us for our last few days. We had lots of fun goofing around at Disney World!

My second October favourite was discovering Charming Charlie's. I LOVE this place, bags, clothes, accessories all colour coordinated in blocks - we need one of these in Cardiff!! Yes I have the bag, yes I tried on pretty much everything in the shop! I loved these 1920s inspired hats (incase you don't know, I'm a historian studying from the 1920s), they were so up my street and reminded me of the current series of Downton Abbey - very Lady Mary I thought! I made a few purchases over a few visits whilst we were there.

Whilst on the 'shopping in the USA' theme, I snapped up so many bargains! Clothes etc are so much cheaper than in the UK. This Michael Kors watch is my favourite buy though. I've wanted it for so long and when I saw it in Macy's for over £100 cheaper than at home I had to have it! I did feel a big guilty for buying it as I never buy anything like this for myself but it's so pretty!!

As much as I love my bargains, my favourite thing in Florida was definitely taking Megan to swim with the dolphins at Discovery Cove. I had been looking forward to this for so long and have heard so much about dolphin therapy and how it calms people with autism and related conditions that I couldn't wait. It was the most amazing experience and I loved watching Megan with Jenny our dolphin. She was so relaxed and happy it made the whole trip worthwhile. The trainer also told me about a dolphin therapy centre in the Florida Keys which I intend to research.

My final October favourite was back home for Halloween. We had stocked up on Halloween treats in Walmart and brought them home. I was so disappointed not to be able to bring home a pumpkin though, there are so many different varieties (my favourite are the little tiger striped ones), rather than the standard ones we have here.
By the time we got home the shops had sold out and we went on a two hour car trip to find some!

The day was very cold but sunny and I thought we would be ok trick or treating that night. Typically though the heavens opened and the rain was so icy but out we went with Megan, my nieces and nephews! The children quickly learnt that pushing my two year old niece, Olivia to the front to say "trick or tweet" resulted in many more sweets!!! The night ended very cold and very wet but with very happy children!

I hope that your month was just as fun xxx