A week in the kitchen – June 2018

I’ve had a good week in the kitchen. I still try to make as much as I can from scratch – with a few cheats – but some days/weeks I feel like I just don’t have any mojo. This week however has been a good week. It makes me happy when I manage to feed the 3 of us fairly decent home cooked food, and makes the treats feel a bit better too.

 

Merry Kitchen – Week beginning 4th June

 

Monday : Thai basil pork with sesame pak choi and rice

Tuesday: Chicken carbonara

Wednesday: Meatballs with a spicy Moroccan sauce, roasted vegetables, cous cous and yoghurt

Thursday: Smoked haddock kedgeree

Friday: Mexican bean soup with smashed tortilla chips and grated cheese

Saturday:  Takeaway pizza!

Sunday Scampi/peppered mackerel with peas and sweet potato bites

 

Breakfast is usually toast or cereal or a croissant at the weekend.

Lunch during the week tends to be sandwiches and soup or leftovers. At the weekend we usually have things like baked potatoes and beans, omelette, selections of wee picky bits (ham, cheese, carrot sticks, sweetcorn, crackers etc) or sometimes brunch – sausages and poached eggs. It depends what we have on and what is in the house. The wee one is fed at nursery Wednesday – Friday so I tend to cook slightly spicier or complicated things on those days.

 

 

 

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Toddler Days

And suddenly.. Wehave two year old. We’ve been firmly in the toddler days for a wee while now but I guess her birthday has kind of made it official. I feel like we’re finally starting to get into the swing of things…. Of course new challenges arise all the time, and they always will but I kind of feel a bit more confident as a parent and the pattern of our life now.

I’m not going to share too much about her as one day she will be able to google and I will probably embarrass her enough without blethering all over the internet but she is a wonderful, cheeky, contrary rascal, with never ending energy. She eats everything within sight and exhausts us… but makes us smile and laugh every single day.

I still have back problems and I think the pain of that is probably my biggest frustration – I feel I could have more energy, cook more, do more, walk more if it wasn’t for that but the days of feeling entirely frustrated are fewer now than they were. My house isn’t perfect, I keep on top of the washing and we get fed everyday even if I am not as adventurous or as prepared with the cooking as I would like to be. And as for other activities, the wee one is at nursery and does a lot of craft and mud and other things there, the best thing I can give her at home is time and tickles and playing with bubbles outside, all day long, everyday if she had her way. One day my toddler will be big and I’ll have more time for other things but I’ll probably be missing the toddler days so I will do my best to just enjoy them and not get too worked up about the windows not being cleaned and not making homemade bread.

So to conclude the parenting chat today I will share of a few of my current parent likes.

1. This recipe Packed Lunch Smoky Sausage Mini Quiches from Feeding Boys blog– I made these for the wee ones toddler party and they went down a storm with parents and kids. I used hot dog sausages as that’s what I had to hand and guessed the amount of cheese. Fab. Will make another batch very soon.

 
2. Podcast – Happy Mum Happy Baby I like listening to the various experiences on this.

 
3. Book – The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson. I’ve read all her books so far (I think) and I’ve just started reading this. Reading anything is a bit hit or miss for me just now, I struggle to concentrate like I used to now that I have the wee one needing me or the million and one jobs needed to be done around the house. I do need to learn to have a bit of time every night to switch off and not just play mindless games on my kindle. Time off = less stress parent = more fun parent.

 
4. T-shirt Tunic dresses for the wee one (Like this) I think these are fabulous for our active wee girl. Pop on with leggings and she is set to go, climbing, jumping, twirling. Easy to put on, easy to wash and perfect for nursery days. I love dressing her in pretty dresses and shorts as well but she is very fair and very active so this covers her delicate skin and doesn’t hinder her in any way. She has a few from various places and mostly gifts.

 
5. And last but not least a Scuttlebug. We got one for the wee one for her birthday and she loves it so much. She has tried to take it to bed with her and been quite upset when we wouldn’t let her. It folds and is light so we will be able to take it with us when we are away anywhere over the summer.

 

 

So to end – some advice please, We have a family holiday planned in June for Jersey, any top places for toddlers (or adults?) and the flight will be longer than we’ve attempted with the child in tow before so I was thinking about getting a KeepEmQuiet bag  Has anyone had one, would they recommend and any other tips? She’s 2 now so will have her own seat and we’ve got seats together. I hope the flight won’t be too bad and that she will sleep for the night we are there (always hit and miss with her anyway!)

 

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An ode to sleep

I’d like to write a post filled with fabulous recipes, or a wee sewing project or even a wonderful winter walk that we’ve done but truthfully right now we seem to be a bit stuck in the daily grind. Don’t get me wrong I’m lucky and happy and there are still plenty of laughter filled moments every day but… I’m so tired, maybe weary is an apt word? We have a toddler who is absolutely non-stop during the day – and I really, really love that, but boy is it exhausting, where do they get the energy?? It can’t be naps because she only naps for an hour a day, and even then that is with heavy persuasion and nights are not so good again just now.

 

Having said all that I know this is just a phase and that time is passing by quickly and one day these sleep deprived days will be a memory and I will miss the cuddles with my sweet fluffy haired baby who likes a cuddle and to touch my nose at 3am and say beep beep instead of sleeping.

 

I don’t have any New Years resolutions, just a hope that I start to find my way a little bit. To feel like I’m managing my days better, that I’m looking after my body and mind a little better and that I’m making the most of everyday. It’s hard though when you wake up tired and bleary after another disturbed night and a list of chores to be done and meals to be made.  Then the week rolls on and you think… right well next week!

 

I’ll get there eventually!

 

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A New View

On Friday the Boyo and I said farewell to the wee village in Fife we have called home for the past 2 years. We’ve enjoyed our time in the village but it was time for us to buy a home of our own.

We decided to move closer to Dundee, I wanted to be a bit closer to some of our friends whilst I’m on maternity leave, the village we were living in felt a bit isolated at times and as I don’t have a car having things to do and people to see nearby felt a bit more important. This way we are close to Dundee but still in a smaller community, there are handy things like a Doctor, a library, a shop and a cafe within walking distance. It will be easier for family to visit us in our new location and we are equal distance from both my work and the Boyo’s work.

I’m still hoping to keep my Guide Unit on in the village (after a maternity leave break Easter – September) but we are so, so happy to be in our new house.  It was funny, we went to view this house as it was in the location we were after but from looking at the house details online we didn’t think we would be finding it to be particularly desirable to us. We were wrong. The house took us by surprise.

A few months after that initial viewing we got the removal men in and my Mum came up to stay for a few days. On Friday a house we bought became our home.

We really could not have managed without my Mum’s help with the move – I’m very pregnant, I waddle and I’m exhausted. My Dad is coming up to help with some DIY jobs soon and the Boyos family are coming over from N. Ireland to visit next week. We are so lucky to have friends and family around us who help us in whatever way they can.

The Boyo and I now just can’t believe that we now have this view from our windows, we are a lucky, lucky pair indeed.

Thoughts on my Library Career

Today I was chatting with a colleague about the future direction of our institution and what it could mean in terms of the library service we provide and how our job roles would possibly change. We chatted about my ambitions. I’m still fairly young (31) and I’ve been working in the library sector full time for 4 years now, so I’m still relatively ‘new’ in the profession. The thing is I don’t have any huge ambitions. I like my current role – a librarian in charge of a campus library but I don’t have any ambitions to climb further up the library career path. I am fortunate that my campus is small so I get to know many of our students and staff and spend quite a bit of my week working with them. I also manage budgets, work on the technical stuff with the LMS, manage orders, help with online resources and a whole load of other behind the scenes stuff. I have a diverse job and I like that. The further up you go the less time you get to be ‘public facing’ and truthfully it is the part I like the most. Prior to becoming a librarian I worked as an EFL teacher, I like working with people, I like seeing how a little bit of help or guidance can benefit a student and help them to achieve what they have set out to do. Truthfully I always envisioned that I would work in public libraries and I still think that working in a public library would allow me to get the most satisfaction from my job. However the public libraries are slowly being eroded, budget cuts are leading to job losses and library closures and stopping libraries from being part of the fabric of a community. It makes me sad that we are losing so much and I don’t think many people will truly realise that until it is too late. So much potential to play vital role in so many aspects of peoples lives and it is being squandered.

(At the moment 16 Public Libraries in my area are facing closure, more information Here)

Anyway back onto my job discussion. Whilst I like my job and at the moment spend the vast majority of my time at work, it is not the main driving force in my life. I like walks, baking, sewing and running my Guide Unit. I like having weekends and evenings to not think about work and I think keeping that balance would be very difficult the more senior the position. I don’t like it when my life is too busy or stressful, I get migraines. I like having time to see my family and friends. We are just about to have our first baby and we are fortunate that financially we can afford for me to take the full maternity year off and then go back to work part time. Exotic holidays and transforming our new house will have to wait but we can afford (we think, only time will really tell) for us as a family to have that balance and I am fortunate that my career ambitions are for me to hopefully stay in my current role or one similar but I don’t have that hunger or that drive and I’m content. I know we are privileged because for many they have to pursue the more time consuming roles just to be able to afford to keep the roofs over their heads and food for their family. I know we are lucky but I think the luckiest thing is to feel content, to be happy and satisfied. Many changes are coming my way, both personal and in my work life but I’ll keep trying to remember what it is that really makes me happy and to firmly keep hold of that and be thankful for what I have.

 

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P.s I know I have not blogged for a long time, there has been a lot going on but more cakes, tasty treats, walks, a new house, books and maybe even a baby will be on the way soon. I’ve been on instagram with a few snapshots if you are curious as to my winter goings on (mostly this has consisted of wishing hibernation was possible for humans). 

The End of Summer

Oops I well and truly abandoned this blog for a while. Life got busy then complicated.

At the end of the Summer The Boyo and I escaped on a much needed break for a week. Using a friends wedding in the middle of our holiday as a basis for our travel plans.

Then it was the start of term for me and we’re short staffed and as usual at this time of the year super-duper busy. I got another ear infection, squeezed in two visits to my home town, organised a baby shower, saw Paolo Nutini live at the Glasgow Summer Sessions, the Guide Unit I run started back with me as solo Guider for now, we  went on a days kayaking and goodness knows what else. I’ve been a bit under the weather recently and my appetite has suffered so I just have not been cooking as much, or with much variety recently so no tasty recipes to blog either. The October break is fast approaching and whilst I am working for most of it in Aberdeen The Boyo and I are going to escape for a long weekend to properly relax.  We have a lot going on just now but mostly it is good busy… although I have to say I do really look forward to sleep!

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So our holiday in August was a trip round NE England. We split the trip into 4 parts.

Part 1. Northumberland.

On the road down South we found completely by accident a little sandy cove and enjoyed a picnic in sunshine, it was a very pleasant start to our holiday. We spent 2 nights at Doxford Hall Hotel (very nice indeed!) and used that as a base to explore some of the sights in Northumberland.

Bamburgh Castle, Holy Island of Lindisfarne, Alnmouth, Pride and Prejudice at Warkworth Castle, Alnwick Castle and The Alnwick Garden, Barter Books in Alnwick.

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Part 2. The Yorkshire Wolds

The main reason for this trip was to go to a wedding and this wedding was held at Brewery! Our friends got married on a glorious day at Wold Top Brewery and the bride even arrived by helicopter! We stayed in a log cabin at Dale Farm and we enjoyed Pie (ENORMOUS portions) at the Piebald Inn the night before the wedding in Hunmanby. We would definitely like go back another time to do some of the outdoors activities the region offers.

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Part 3. York

I had never been to York and was very keen to go. We found a hotel – Hedley House Hotel (it had a car park!) – just outside the city walls and packed quite a lot into 3 days there.

I had bought a Treasure Trail in advance for the trip and would definitely recommend it, we had one for the historic city centre and it was a great way to explore. Other activities included: eating ice cream outside York Minster, Visiting & Climbing up York Minster, Riverboat tour, walk around city walls, The National Railway Museum (Free!) and The York Chocolate Story.

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Part 4. The Return Home, a night near Morpeth

After a quick pop back into York to get a Tea Loaf at Bettys for my Gran it was time to start heading North again. We wanted a hotel with a pool that was roughly half way for us so we could have a relaxing evening after a fairly busy holiday. The MacDonald Linden Hall Hotel near Morpeth fit the bill and we did indeed have a nice relaxed time. 11890979_10156037189365565_8082990998553755675_n

After a week on the road exploring parts of England we had never been to before we were quite glad to get home in time to put the kettle on and put our feet up for an hour or so before dealing with washing and all the lovely domestic stuff!

We had a wonderful and much needed break, the sun shone everyday and we only had 1 episode of rain (whilst we were trying to find somewhere to eat in York). The highlights for us were definitely The Alnwick Garden and The National Railway Museum. We spent nearly a whole day at the railway museum and would quite happily go again. It’s hard to believe that this holiday was nearly 2 months ago now and I’m definitely looking forward to the next adventure with my Boyo.

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Weekend Wanderings: Conversation

Some weekends adventures are not needed, sometimes what you need is some relaxed time at home and good conversations.

On Saturday we had the longest sleep in we’ve had in ages which was nice. I watched Great British Bake Off Extra Slice over boiled eggs for breakfast. It was a very pleasant start to the day, later we had a wander around the countryside where we live. I did some housework, we ate some leftovers, it was very relaxed. In the evening I went to St. Andrews for an event with one of my all time favourite authors at the wonderful Topping & Co Bookshop. Louis De Bernieres is a brilliant author, for those of you who have only seen the film ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin‘ I urge you to read the book. It is at least a thousand times better than the film and the rest of his books are definitely worth reading and an extra bonus Louis was just as interesting to hear speak.IMG_20150815_163859 20150815_143922

On Sunday the Boyo was working, participating in an event as part of The Festival of Politics in Edinburgh. So I went to Edinburgh with him. I have to confess I spent most of the afternoon chatting away with my best friend over a croissant. I did not go to any festival events.  I met with the Boyo and a couple of other friends for a beverage and more conversation. It was a very nice day. Next year perhaps I will make more of an effort to go to some festival events but this year I am quite happy with our relaxed weekend.

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