Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Aidan's Easter Service

Aidan had his Easter play at school this morning. It was adorable as usual - they sang songs, did dances and the local priest came in to tell the story of Easter.
Here's Aidan participating in the Spring Dance:
Aidan also closed the play by getting up on stage by himself and thanking everyone for coming. He did a great job and it was a big surprise for me. When I asked him why he hadn't told me that he was going to do that he said that he wanted to keep it a surprise - I think that it just never occurred to him to tell me. He didn't seem nervous at all - just said his lines nicely and clearly - we may have an actor on our hands :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Carrot Cake

I've just posted a recipe for carrot cake on the recipe blog. You HAVE to try it - if I had to live on one food for the rest of my life this could be it...
http://beckys-recipes.blogspot.com/2010/03/best-carrot-cake-with-lemon-cream.html

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring in Watchfield

Spring has just started to arrive here in Watchfield. It's been in the high 40's or low 50's with rain showers most days for the past 2 weeks or so. Things are getting green slowly and with a few really warm days everything will pop! I took a walk before dinner today while Brendan was taking a break from writing his essay. There aren't too many flowers out yet but I still got a few pretty shots in the village.
Here's a view across the field just next to our house:
The resident horse - we really do live in the country in case anyone was wondering. I wear my wellies most days - they look great with skinny jeans :)
Daffodils - there are lots around - I'm hoping to go take some pictures of big stands of them tomorrow:
Creeping purple flowers in the village - they look beautiful against the old stones:

A little genetic mutation just to stir things up - the only pink ones in the bunch:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Having Girls

This is what a morning of playing with girls looks like:Emmy can spend 30 minutes or more sitting at her table looking at her princess Memory cards and making up stories about them. Aoife can sit in the middle of a pile of blocks, pick one up, shake it and look at it and put it back down then move along to the "house that makes tons of sounds". She moves around the house investigating what items make noise when pressed. People who only have girls should NEVER judge a mother of a boy. A morning with Aidan under the age of three left me exhausted, shaky and nervous. He would have climbed on top of the table to see what was on top of the TV, the blocks would have been scattered across the room just waiting to trip you while you were carrying a basket of laundry and the house would be upside down and being pounded on with another toy. He had a perpetual bruise on his forehead from falling down every 25 seconds while trying to walk or climb onto things.

MOGs (moms of girls), don't judge or even think it - she really CAN'T control him and needed milk just as much as you did. So offer a smile or a helping hand at the grocery store. She'll be really grateful - I can tell you from experience.

St. Patrick's Day Party


We had some of our neighbors over for a late St. Patrick's Day party on Saturday night. It was so much fun! We served corned beef and cabbage, carrots and potatoes, Irish soda bread, Guinness, Whiskey, cheesecake and Bailey's Mousse Cake. All the food was very tasty and I was in heaven since Corned Beef is one of my favorite meals. To my embarrassment, corned beef means something very different here in England. Everyone arrived at the party thinking that I was going to serve meat out of a can!!! They were all pleasantly surprised and there were no leftovers - always a good sign!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Late St. Patricks Day

Happy - late - St. Patrick's Day! It's been busy here and although I DID take pictures of the kids on the 17th, they aren't making it up here until now - sorry! Enjoy - they are adorably Irish, don't you think??
Breakfast with Aoife - more interested in her thumb than food it seems...
My two wee Irish lassies...
All three hooligans - neighbors hens in the background...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Big Girl Jammies


Today is a big day for Aoife! She has outgrown all of the footie pajamas that we have for her and she has become impossible to dress in anything that has more than three snaps since she wiggles so much. We have moved on to 2 piece jammies! These are some of Emmy's old ones - they have princesses all over them. I think I'm going to have to order a few more pairs!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Amazing - and life changing as well :)

video
This is amazing - I couldn't watch it just once and I had to share it with the world. The Japanese shouldn't be the only one's with this knowledge! Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Last Athens Post - Day #2

After all the pictures I took on the first day we were in Athens, the second day kind of pales in comparison! We managed to drag the children out of bed and down to breakfast in the morning. There is a 2 hour time difference between England and Greece but my philosophy is to just ignore it and operate on local time - especially for very short trips! The shuttle was running and we really enjoyed riding to the center of the city and not having to use up our waning energy just getting there! We walked over to the New Acropolis Museum to see the artifacts from the Acropolis. No cameras are allowed inside so my pictures are all of the exterior but you can imagine what's inside - statues and vases mostly!
I believe this is the name of the museum
the outside of the museum - you can see the Acropolis reflected in the upper left corner!
For all my Chi O's - Athena's owl!
The museum is built on stilts over open dig sites - it is really cool!
the floors are clear so you can see the ruins - even inside the museum - Aidan said he felt like he was falling - Emmy refused to walk on them initially but she got over it!
After the museum we walked over to the Hard Rock Cafe (very 80's I know) and had lunch. You know you can always get chicken fingers and fries! After a good lunch for everyone we headed out to the National Gardens which was really just an overgrown park. There was a good sized playground and the kids had a great time running around, climbing, swinging and playing with the local children. I think it was the highlight of the trip for them - sadly!
After the playground we caught the shuttle back to the hotel and took a little rest. Brendan found a great little (tiny) restaurant 2 blocks from the hotel - thanks Google! We were the only ones there and the owner gave us wonderful service. The food was delicious - I had braised lamb shanks. After dinner we walked back to the hotel and put the kids to bed.
In the morning we took the bus to the airport, purchased our last minute souvenirs and flew home. We were delayed an hour but the kids did great. We flew on Easy Jet and they have free for all boarding which is great for us because we only bought 4 seats but Emmy and Brendan sat together with a seat between them and I sat with Aoife and Aidan. Who is going to want to make us move over and sit with kids? So we got 6 seats!! Each of the kids took a little nap sometime during the 3 1/2 hour flight. I couldn't have asked for an easier trip!!! Up next - Ireland and France in April!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

She's on the move!

Aoife is 10 1/2 months old - seems impossible that the time has flown so quickly! She's into anything that is on the ground and if you're a Cheerio you'd better run for your life! She loves to pull all the tupperware onto the floor and bang it together just as the phone rings! She says mama, dada and baby. She loves waving to herself in the mirror and clapping. She gets a little agitated when she waves at photos of herself and nothing happens - very cute! Aoife gets lots of attention from Aidan and Emmy. Aidan loves to make her laugh and Emmy has learned that she can get Aoife to drop whatever she has by introducing a new toy. She continues to be a good sleeper and is, thankfully, down to one nap a day! She is getting VERY fat and has an enormous belly as you can see from the pictures!

Athens post #6 - Mars Hill

After we came down from the Acropolis we walked over to Mars Hill or the Areopagus. It's an outcropping of rock that served as a high court in ancient times and was the site of Apostle Paul's conversion of Athens to Christianity. It has a beautiful panoramic view of Athens and the Acropolis. We could have sat here for hours in the sun.
This picture doesn't show how VERY steep and slippery these steps were - the girls and I came down another set.
Emmy sharing her snack with the pigeons - she had lots more but I ruined it by standing up to take the picture.

Marmalade!


I'll give you a break from the Greece pictures today! I made blood orange marmalade yesterday. It was so much fun and my second attempt at canning anything. My first attempt was strawberry jelly last year on my tiny stove in my tiny kitchen in Virginia. It was a disaster - the stove had so little power that the jam never got to the correct temperature and it cooked so long that the strawberries lost their flavor and color! I ended up with a runny, tasteless mess! ACK! This time was different - yeah! I borrowed a recipe from Alton Brown on the Food Network and here's how you do it:
- scrub 4 oranges and 1 lemon
- slice the oranges really thinly - 1/8 inch thick and cut into quarters
- zest and juice the lemon
- place the oranges, lemon zest and lemon juice in a BIG stainless pot and add 5 cups of water.
- bring to a boil over high heat, turn down to medium and vigorously simmer for 40 minutes stirring occasionally
- turn up the heat to a boil and add 3 1/2 pounds of sugar - stirring constantly
- here's where it gets a little tricky
- you need the mixture to reach 220 degrees so grab your candy thermometer and keep stirring over medium/medium high heat
- make SURE it doesn't bubble over - you'll have a huge mess that is very hard to clean up
- in the meantime bring a big pot of water to a boil and boil your jars, lids, tongs and ladle for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat under the pot.
- once the marmalade is 220 degrees it is ready to be jarred.
- take the jars out of the hot water with tongs and place on a clean towel
- ladle the jam into the jars and screw a lid on - be careful it's VERY HOT and will burn you!!
- once all the jam is in the jars and the lids are on tightly the Agriculture Dept says you need to process the jars for 10 minutes - that is put them back into the pot of boiling water making sure they don't touch the bottom of the pot or each other - put a rack or tea towel on the bottom of the pot
- remove the jars from the water after they have processed and set them upside down on the counter so that the orange pieces won't all settle to the bottom. once they have cooled for a few hours flip them upright and the orange rinds will settle nicely in the middle
- make sure all the lids have sealed by checking to make sure the center of the lid is sucked down towards the marmalade
- voila! enjoy on toast, crumpets, scones or, my favorite, pork chops (with garlic and whole grain mustard!)

Here's the link to the recipe on foodnetwork.com click here

Monday, March 15, 2010

Athens post #5 - The Acropolis!

I'm so sorry that it has taken me so long to finally get the rest of these pictures processed and up! No excuses - beautiful weather has kept me from the computer and I made marmalade this afternoon while the girls were sleeping instead of working on the pictures - but here they are and there's really not too much to say. I think they speak for themselves although I'll give you some captions - enjoy!
The first view you have of the front of the Acropolis:
The back of the Propylaia - or entrance gate to the Acropolis - we walked through this to get inside:
This is as close as you can get to the Temple of Athena Nike - still restoring it!
Our first glimpse of the Parthenon:
The frieze - these are casts of the original carvings but we saw the actual ones in the New Acropolis Museum!
Us in front of the Parthenon:
Emmy!
Aidan!
The back of the Parthenon:
Heading over to the Erechtheion - you can see the famous Caryatid columns on the left side of the photo:
Columns in the Erechtheion:
the side of the Erechtheion - look how huge the columns are compared to Brendan and the kids!
Back side of the Erechtheion:
Caryatid columns of the Erechtheion:
I can't begin to explain how fascinating and exciting this visit was for me! Brendan and I both took many Greek Art and Archeology classes at Tufts. It's so amazing to stand in front of these beautiful buildings that I thought I would only ever see in photographs. I feel so lucky!!