Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry Christmas

Like most of you, we are pretty busy right now getting all things ready for the big day. I really do love Christmas but each year it comes with some mixed feelings.

Being an expat away from my family at Christmas time, I sometimes start to feel pretty homesick. Well, I say sometimes but I mean every year. I really miss the family traditions we had from going to the Christmas eve mass to having Chinese food after and playing board games till late.

I love the religious part of the holiday but really have started to dislike the stress that revolves around the commercial aspect of it. I absolutely love giving gifts to others and put a lot of thought into each gift and each one receiving the gift...but it doesn't always end in happy Thank Yous.

I love that my boys are finally understanding both the religious part of the holiday as well as the fun 'Santa' part of the holiday, but I definitely envy their fun time as I sit either ready to pass out from being so tired or am running around trying to sort out last minute demands.

Every year I try and take in the season; it's joy, it's beauty, the goodwill towards all and the peace it can bring with it. I thought I had gotten better at that but this year having been away so close to Christmas I am back in a bit of a rat race.

It is only the last couple of days that I could really sit down and watch a Christmas film with the boys, have some mince pies, and take in the Christmas decorations that give our home a wonderful atmosphere! There is nothing I love more than being with my family, being comfy and being so thankful for those I love so much both near and far.

I'm not sure I'll be posting again in the next couple of days, so I wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Be safe and enjoy all the holiday has to offer! :)


Sunday, 21 December 2014

Iceland Part 3

Sorry for the delay in getting Iceland Part 3 up but it has been more than hectic from leaving Iceland to unpacking and getting ready for Christmas!

So on the Saturday night we did end up venturing out to a mysterious lake in the middle of nowhere to see if we could spot the Northern Lights again. After sitting in the car for 2 hours and seeing nothing we took the icy roads back home to get into bed around 1am! I was getting exhausted. Luckily the boys are good and bare with us...they spent most of the time asleep. :)

On Sunday, we went back into the centre of Reykjavik as we hadn't really been able to see it properly. We explored some cafes, had more hot dogs and got to stop into the big Neogothic Church of Iceland. Incredible, this city just kept getting more interesting! It was also getting more cold (if that was even possible).
View from Church bell tower
Frozen lake (a little bit of it has geothermal water to keep the ducks happy)
Hot dog stand

On Monday, our last day in Iceland we drove out to the Blue Lagoon but decided not to pay the huge price tag to get in. We had already had a swim in the geothermal waters in our local pool and only had to pay £6. We did have some lunch there and had a walk around (it was a gorgeous spa!) and I spent a little money in the gift shop...I may have even picked up a couple of Christmas gifts. It was expensive but at least I spent money on other people and a little something for me for Christmas too! ;)

Geothermal waters at the Blue Lagoon

The silica in the water keeps in a nice natural blue

We continued on our drive and saw a lot more geothermal hotspots out and about in the countryside and we also saw a couple of silica turquoise lakes! Upon arrival back in the city we decided to have another dip in our local pool and then head out for a nice meal to end our trip.

The next day was spent packing up and travelling home (in a massive snow storm!)

I have to admit, I was really looking forward to our trip to Iceland but that country was amazing! It was naturally beautiful. Everywhere you looked there was something nice to see. The people and their history were so interesting and I just know I will never ever forget our time there.

Anyway, hopefully now we are back unpacked, laundry done and most of Christmas under control I'll be back to a more regular blogging schedule. :)

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Iceland Part 2

So, Thursday was day 3 of our trip in Iceland. It was definitely the coldest day so far! It was -4 degrees C but felt about -18 with the wind chill! We were freezing!

We ventured out on a Golden Circle Tour which was 8 hours long and went out to Gullfoss waterfall, the Geyser area of Iceland and we were supposed to stop at a famous National Park but due to the snow all roads were closed down. Instead we stopped to pet the famous Icelandic horses and visited an old Viking church. It was a long cold day but was so interesting. It was great to learn about Iceland, its culture and a little about its language. What a fascinating country!

By the time we got back and stopped at a restaurant for supper it was time for us to get back to the flat and get to bed.

Yesterday, we decided to hire a car since the weather has been so cold. We don't mind walking places normally but it really is getting to be too much for the little guys in -18 degrees...and today is even colder.

We took a little drive arounnd town and decided to stop in at our local swimming pool! It was crazy! Freezing cold and snowing and we were outside in geothermal water, what an experience! Later that night we got a famous Icelandic hotdog and then came back to get ready for our late night adventure to see the Northern Lights!

We didn't end up seeing the lights due to it being very overcast but it was still an interesting experience.

After a pretty late night, we woke up early this morning to head out in the car to see Skogafoss waterfall and a US military plane crash from 1973, still there in the middle of an Iceland beach! Both were awesome although the getting to the crash site is an experience I could have done without. My hands still ache from gripping my seat. We had to off road onto snow covered ice straight out to the ocean, and no, we did not have a 4x4!

Overall, it was a great last few days. Tonight we may go see if we can spot the Northern Loghts again on our own and then fingers crossed have a lie in while a huge snow storm takes over Reykjavik. :-)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Iceland Part 1

Boy have I taken a break from blogging! I didn't really plan it but I was sick for awhile and really lost my writing mojo so I thought; better a break then a blog full of junky posts.

Anyway, this week we are in snowy and freezing cold Iceland! Today was our second day here but so far so good!

Day one involved a wake up time of 3:45am!!! To get our flights out of Manchester airport. The flight was good and not that long. We were flying for just under 3hours! The boys were well behaved and spent most of the flight watching films on the tablet.

Upon landing we grabbed lunch and got a bus into the city centre. It was snowing like crazy and the roads were icy from a bad storm they'd had the day before. We arrived in the centre of Reykjavik, stopped to put on wellies and hailed a cab for our apartment. This is the third time we have used Airbnb for accommodation abroad and really recommend it!

Our apartment is lovely with everything we could need and we even have an ocean view!

We only ventured out last night to get some essential breakfast things for today and food for supper. It was a frosty walk and the boys were tired so it didn't make for the best night adventure but it was necessary.

Then the boys and I went to bed while the husband ventured out to try a glimpse the Northern
Lights...by luck he saw them! Fingers crossed some photos to come!

Today we had a relaxing morning. The sun rose at 11am! At 9am it was still pitch black! Then we headed into town to wander around get our bearings and book some tours!

It was a rough venture into the centre as we didn't see any taxis nor did we see any buses enroute. There were supposed to be local buses every twenty minutes from right at the end of our street into the city. Hmm... It should have taken 15 minutes roughly to walk it but with two small freezing cold bundled up boys it was more like 35!! Plus we had melt downs and crying. Oh and that was just me never mind the boys ;)

We made it to the centre got lunch, booked some excursions, found the travel office and did another mini food shop. After 3.5 hours out in -2 degree weather with 40mph winds we were ready to head home.

Tomorrow we are up early for the golden circle expedition. Fingers cross the boys will be able to cope ok. Best be off anyway, early to bed and need to check the weather! Night :)

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving. It is my all time favourite holiday! Even though I live in the UK and they don't celebrate Thanksgiving, I continue to celebrate it with my family and (sometimes) friends.

This year, I kept things low key so it is just me and my boys (husband included in boys!). So far it has been a good day!

We are all home now on this drizzly and cold day but it is warm inside and I have the turkey in the oven, all things prepped and ready to go (even the green bean casserole!!). Only missing out on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This is my favourite holiday because it involves time with family and friends, good home cooked food, relaxing and just enjoying the day and being thankful. There is no stress about presents (giving or receiving) and it is just a feel good day! :-)

This year, I have a lot to be thankful for but especially for:

My whole family near and far
My boys
My trusty pooch, Tristan
My home
The fact we are all healthy

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it! Happy Thursday to those who don't :)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

In a Rut

So, I have written three blog posts so far this week. However, after I'd written them I decided that they really weren't good enough to post. It appears as though I am in a bit of a rut as far as writing goes this week. :(

Now, I am not in a complete rut as I have loads of ideas and things that I want to write about (lots of posts in the works), but I just feel like I am really not in the mood (yesterday or today). Hopefully, I am not the only one who feels this way sometimes. I don't think it is writer's block. It is probably just general laziness or being in a rut.

Since I was so ill a few weeks back, I am still feeling a bit sleep deprived which doesn't lead to creativity or the will to do much of anything really! And of course there have been a few bigger changes in my life recently such as giving up personal training sessions, not being able to find a good Pilates class that fits my schedule and a few unexpected bills which has lead to a stop on the work in our entryway, etc..

It may also be that the year is coming to a close and I'm winding down 2014 (but busy ramping up for getting together with friends and family during the festive holiday season!).

It may be the weather. It is cold, it is wet and it is darker earlier. Although the plus side is that I have been having daily hot chocolates! :)

Whatever it is, I hope to be back in a few days time with a much more interesting and worthy post! Until then dear readers...hang in there! ;)

Friday, 21 November 2014

Friday Faves 21st November 2014

Wow! Is it me or is November just flying by?

I actually saw a widget thing on someone's blog that said 'Guess what only 34 more days till Christmas!' I'll admit although I love Christmas and can't wait for it to be here, I am simply biding my time. I feel like I am not completely through with Autumn and am so looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with my family that I can't get into the Christmas spirit just yet. However, once Thanksgiving is over, I'll join the masses and join in on the Christmas celebrations! :)

I have to admit this week I have had some bummers (like no more tinned pumpkin in the store=no pumpkin bread, a sore back= no running my planned 10k this weekend, the boys having little colds, etc...), but I do have some faves so I'll look to those and not keep dwelling on the things I can't change. :)

1) Got some exercise in this week! I managed a 30 min yoga dvd and I went for a run on Thursday night. I felt good after the yoga but not as great after the run. Bad backs are no joke. :(

2) Despite not being able to make pumpkin bread this week even though I wanted to I did buy and drink (with coffee don't worry) a lot of this Monin Gingerbread flavoured syrup! YUM!

3) American Horror! Yes, Netflix had informed me that the 3rd season was up and it is good. It is pretty intense and a bit graphic at times but good scary stuff about witches.

4) Found out that in the space of 1 month I'll be cooking 3 turkeys! I love turkey so I will be in heaven! Even looking forward to the leftovers! ;)

5)  Just got my loyalty postcard from Yankee Candle! You can bet, I will head down there next week to partake in these offers and some Christmas scents! They had better have the Christmas Tree scent this year. :)

Hope you have had a good week so far! 

Monday, 17 November 2014

From The Mouths of Babes

My two boys come up with the most interesting statements or questions all the time and I rarely ever document them but really I should! ;)

Here are some of the crackers from this weekend and today:

While on a walk, we pass a couple possibly in their late 60's.
Francis: 'Well, it's nice they're on a walk but where are their lovely boys?'

After Skyping with Grammy and Grandpa in America.
Francis: 'All I want to know now is: does Grammy have Green Lantern (the superhero) underpants?'
Me: 'Well, I don't think so, but you can ask her next time we talk.'
Dylan: 'I'll do it!'

While flipping through a Grazia magazine.
Francis: 'Oh no Mummy!'
Me: 'What's that sweetheart?'
Francis: 'They forgot to put you in!'

My Super Francis

After dropping Francis off at school.
Dylan: 'I go to school Mummy, I am big and long!'

While playing in the lounge.
Me: 'Francis, come here sweatheart.'
Francis: 'You can no longer call me Francis. I am now Super Francis!'
Dylan: 'Yeah me too!'
Me to Dylan: 'You can't be Super Francis. Francis is. You can be Super Dylan.'
Dylan: 'Yeah...Of course!'

My Super Dylan

Ah, they sometimes run circles round me but they do keep me laughing. :)

Have a good one! 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Friday Faves 14th November 2014

Yay, it's Friday!! I hope everyone has had a good week. We have had a rainy and sick one over here. I am really not sure what it is, but man this cold/flu has really got its hold on me! Fingers crossed I am approaching the end of this. However, despite the gloomy weather and my pasty appearance I have had some nice things happen this week and look forward to sharing my favourites today!

Here are this week's faves:

1) A weekend with no plans! This is pretty much unfathomable at the this point. We have not had a weekend with no plans in months and to be honest we don't have many more on the horizon either! I am looking forward to hopefully at least one lie in and getting things around the house organised. I also (fingers crossed) hope to get my brows done this weekend as I am looking a bit unibrowed...yikes ;)

Sleeping in will happen this weekend!
2) I Quit Sugar! by Sarah Wilson, I just uploaded this book onto my kindle and have really been enjoying it. It is pretty easy reading and has already explained a lot of things including how I feel on a daily basis. Wow! Eye opening if you are a sugar addict!

3) A little bubbly :) The husband and I had a little drinky last night in our wedding champagne glasses :)

Yes, we had already had our drinks...took a photo just in time!
4) My Elevensy today. Today I have been ravenous and it is most likely due to this horrendous sickness that has been stealing all my energy. I think I am burning approximately 300 calories a day just blowing my nose! ;) So today I gave in to this bun...(before you ask, No, this was not sugar free sorry Ms. Wilson but I haven't started cutting out sugar quite yet!)

Yum, with raspberry filling!

5) Skyping with my brother. We very rarely get to skype with 'Uncle Billy' because he lives in Seattle so the time difference just doesn't make it possible, but this week we were lucky and he was home in the morning (our evening) and we got to say hello and catch up. It is nice to catch up with family on skype especially when you live so far away! :)

Sorry old photo from Francis' Christening!
Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

I'm a Superhero Mummy!

As you know, I have two boys. They are both completely besotted by superheroes.

My two masked little men!
They have superhero pjs, t-shirts, posters, costumes, masks, torches/flashlights, colouring books and trading cards. Although I think they are too young to watch the real superhero movies (even the old ones), we have let them watch Disney Pixar's The Incredibles and they have also seen the Lego movie which has superheros in it.

Even Daddy gets in on the act. 
Because this is one of the first things my oldest has really shown a significant interest in, we have been encouraging this interest in superheroes (mildly anyway). Yes, superheroes are good people. They look after people especially those they love and they never really hurt anyone (hm...white lies never hurt). Oh and most importantly, superheroes always eat their vegetables!!

In our house the superhero phenomenon has gone beyond just Spiderman, Superman, Batman, etc... Sometimes I'm a superhero, as is Daddy. Sometimes even Tristan the dog is a superhero depending on how much patience he has in the boys putting a cape on him (poor Tristan!). All this superhero excitement is very nice and as a bonus the superhero play keeps our two little boys busy for ages each day. But, what do you do when the superhero phase gets dangerous?

A friend had actually asked me about this before and I sort of nodded in sympathy as I knew soon what she was talking about might reach the imaginations of my two boys. But seriously,  what do you do when your children think they are actually superheroes? I don't just mean saying 'Hi mummy I'm Superman', but actually throwing themselves off furniture or out of the (stopped) car because they think they can fly?  Or when they start kicking each other or friends because that's how superheroes save the day? Just what are you supposed to do then?

Tired Spiderman, after a day of combating evil :)
As a mum who absolutely adores fiction and using imagination, I don't want to take any of the magic away from the idea of their favourite superhero. However, I did decide that a little chat about superheroes was necessary, especially when both my boys decided that without a doubt they could fly and would someday surprise me by doing just that! Too scary to wait around for that moment so we had a chat.

Superheroes are pretend people that help us to see good in others, to recognise the good and potential in ourselves, to teach us right from wrong and that we should help those less fortunate when and if we can. Nobody can actually fly and kicking hurts people so we should never do that.

I think my oldest understood a bit, my youngest, not at all. But it has stopped some of the crazier behaviour like kicking and jumping out of cars (although they still jump off all our furniture to my dismay) and has opened my eyes to how impressionable they really are at such a young age.

We'll probably have to have a similar talk again at some point in the future whether it be about superheroes or behaviours of other people/peers (I'm sure we've all heard 'And if so and so jumped off a bridge would you jump too?' But for now I think I'll try and safely keep the superhero magic alive in my two most lovely little boys. :)

Have you had to talk to your children about what is pretend/real and what isn't yet? What did you say?

Monday, 10 November 2014

Food & Fitness Sabbatical and Weekend Recap

Hello! I hope you all had a lovely end to last week and a great weekend. We definitely had an action packed one!
On Friday night, we headed out to a friend's bonfire night celebrations which were great! It was a little cold and windy but the rain held off and so we were all happy about that.

Super bonfire
On Saturday, we helped my husband celebrate his birthday with presents, cards and a day trip out to a photography exhibition and park. I have probably not mentioned it much but my husband took up photography this year and has a real knack for it. He entered into a competition (hence the trip to the exhibition) and although didn't win, definitely had some fantastic photos! :)

A lucky dog in the park

On Sunday, I went on a 10k run at 9am when the temperature was a chilly 2 degrees and then we headed off for a pub lunch later in the day with my husband's parents. It was nice to meet up and get some more fresh air and walks in but I was definitely exhausted by the end of the weekend! I guess that is what makes for a good one though ;)

Walking in the woods
On another note, I know that usually Sundays (or Mondays if I'm late) I do a write up of my food and fitness plans for the week, and although I am keen to continue doing those posts I feel I have been doing a half hearted write up for them the past couple of weeks and this week really wouldn't have been much better. As you know I have been caught up with a flu or cold or who knows what for over a week and so I have been ravenous at times eating whatever I can get my hands on and other times not hungry at all. We went out to eat twice(!!) this weekend (in honour of my husband's birthday) and at both restaurants I couldn't find a single thing that I wanted to eat, which for me is weird. So, my eating is off and as I have mentioned in an earlier post I am still looking into the benefits of cutting refined sugars out of my diet completely (which let's face it would be a major change for me) therefore I do not have a proper food plan ready to share.

Fitness-wise, I am in a bit of a limbo here too. I am keeping up with my running but haven't been strength training or meeting with my personal trainer in a couple of weeks (due to her being ill, then me). I need to sign up (and pay) for more sessions with her but am of two minds about it at the moment. That will probably be resolve one way or another this week. I have also had a private session at a new pilates studio and felt really good about that. I am probably going to look into booking a block of 5 sessions for that and see how it goes but it looks as though there is only one class that I could potential make due to scheduling conflicts.

I think perhaps the best plan of action is to either post what I did eat and did workout-wise at the end of each week or to go on a bit of a sabbatical until things get a bit more sorted out. Additionally, with the holidays right around the corner things aren't looking too promising on either of those fronts (I mean come on, who could pass up Christmas chocolates or a second helping of Thanksgiving turkey? Not me that's for sure!!).

What do you think about eating healthily and working out this time of year? Hard or easy? Any tips? 
Hope you all have a lovely week!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Some Updates

Well, I was going to write a post on a prepared topic that I have been working on (I'll still post it at some point, don't worry) but decided at the last minute that instead I would do a quick post with some updates.

1) Exciting news!! My two friends (Gemma- writer, Sarah- editor) have put together a book entitled A Girls' Guide to Travelling Alone, it is a compilation of short stories by 'girl' solo travellers and... I have a story in it! Yay! So, I am now officially a published writer :) Please check it out!

2) I pulled a sickie today on my personal trainer. Well, since I have been ill and am still struggling with being ill it wasn't a complete lie. The exciting reason why I pulled a sickie was because I tried out a new Pilates studio and had a private lesson. It was really challenging and I loved it. I actually felt like a completely different person when I left the studio an hour later (in a good way)! I'm hoping to book a block of classes there and see how it goes!
Need to dust off the old matt!
3) Our entryway redecoration plan has stalled a little but by tomorrow will be back up and running and we are hoping it will be finished before Christmas. We decided to go all out and have some builders put in some shelving, a bench and cabinets which will give us some much needed space in the room and fingers crossed look good too ;)
A cheeky peek at the colour and some new but messy shelves
4) Only 2 weeks till my next 10k run. Yikes! My training hasn't been very consistent but I have been running at least 6.5k one day a week for the last few weeks and I'm hoping to add one more run a week to that in the next two weeks. I think I'll be ready but I'm worried about the weather. Not a huge fan of icy cold runs...Brrr!
5) I am about to downsize from a baby bag to a regular handbag! Well, I think. I realized that I am actually pulling my shoulders out of alignment from carrying around a baby bag full of 'just in case' stuff recently. Before it used to be ok because I could put the massive baby bag on the handles of the pram, but we haven't used a pram in months, so I thought instead of being caught out by not having anything with me (by not carrying big bag) I needed a little across the chest style hand bag. This little beauty is from Sainsbury's and was only £12. Inside I can hold tissues, keys, mobile, sunglasses, wallet, and some snacks (potentially some wipes and a nappy but haven't tried that out yet).

Pretty new bag :)

So that concludes my midweek update. I hope you're all having a great week!

Monday, 3 November 2014

Food, Fitness & Halloween

Good morning! I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween! We were definitely busy but had a blast :)

Here are a few pics:
the grumpy pumpkin and smiling spider-man
A ghoul, a man with a hammer in his head and the devil

Our Jack o' Lanterns
This week I am feeling a bit run down and have got a pretty nasty cold as do the boys so I think we are going to have a low key week if possible. Besides the fact we need to rest up for next weekend's bonfires! Ah, the fun never stops ;)

Here are my plans for food and fitness this week:

I haven't done a proper plan of meals for the whole week for a couple of reasons - we haven't been food shopping yet and I am thinking hard about what I eat and how I need to change my eating to get better nutrition, more fruits, more veg and less garbage. I have been thinking about cutting back on my sugar intake as well as also cutting out a majority of processed carbohydrates. This will be a big change so it may have to be done little by little and this means that meal planning might be a little off while I work out what I'll be doing food-wise. I will keep you posted.

Sunday- Recover
Tuesday- Strength Training
Wednesday- Pilates (trying out a new studio)
Thursday- Running Club (at least 6k-7k)
Friday- Personal Training

Have a fab week!