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Here I am!

Officially, it’s been 6 years, 2 months, and some days since I last decided to publish a blog post. However, in this time, I have created a few drafts, made a few small updates to the site, all in hopes that it would motivate me into a regular blogging rhythm again. Suffice it to say, that never happened.

So here I am, at the beginning of 2020, with another resolutions list that includes blogging. Except this time, I don’t have a full time job – oh wait, I do, the customers are more demanding and I don’t get paid anymore. I’m on maternity leave with two kids under three.

I thought about posting a picture of my resolutions that I scribbled on a piece of paper while Ellie was drawing beside me, but I just read it again and a) I see that maybe the list has too many items that have to do with kids (ugh, who have I become) and b) I’ve had to update my travel ambitions twice now, so that’s still a work in progress I can’t quite share.

What I can share, though, is that so far 2020 has been to a pretty good start. Even though day-to-day, it feels like I’m deep in the trenches repeating myself over and over again, in a louder-than-I’d-like voice, about what to touch, what not to touch, who not to hit, what not to eat, and why dinner/lunch/breakfast is good for you. By 8pm daily I generally do not wish to speak to humans again. I didn’t think you could be exhausted from talking but, here I am. Overall, the first month of 2020 has been quite aligned with what I want to accomplish this year (a looser interpretation of the lofty “resolutions” one might’ve made 5 years ago):

  • I hope to read 18 books this year and I read 2 in January. I’ve also updated my profile on GoodReads to keep myself organised
  • I’m back at it with a lot more knitting, trying to get through my magnificent yarn stash, so I’ve organised my knitting queue for 2020, as well as updated my completed projects, on Ravelry. That queue is a constant moving target, as I’m not speedy with my knitting and I keep getting distracted by pretty patterns and yarns everywhere I look
  • I’m exercising again! It’s been THREE YEARS since I did any form of exercise and I’ve now signed up for two days a week in a “mom and baby” fitness class. A class setting is definitely easier to ensure I actually get my act together and out the door, and I’ve even had a chance to use the childminding service for Ellie while Anna and I are in class. Gotta love community programmes – the whole set of classes is $60(ish) for 10 sessions, and the childminding is $3.75 each time we go. Finally, I get to see my tax dollars at work
  • I’m trying to upcycle / recycle / reuse as much as possible, especially with kids stuff, and I’ve had pretty decent luck twice now on Craigslist. Technically the first purchase was done in 2019, but I got Ellie’s Christmas gift – a little play tent shaped like a vintage VW camper van – for $25 and it’s been the best $25 we’ve spent. She plays in it everyday for hours. We also got a hiking backpack / child carrier secondhand, and I hope to use it as soon as the weather gets nicer!
  • On the topic of travel – tbc – but we’re hoping to hit up as many friends and family as possible around the Northern Hemisphere now that we’re back up here

So that’s my quick update of where things are at…and with some careful planning, I shall be back more regularly to keep track of what I’m up to. I miss having a blog to document the little things happening in life.


Mulled wine

Mulled wine & Christmas cookies

Alex and I became positively addicted to mulled wine in 2011 when we went to the German Christmas markets in Stuttgart, Nuremberg, and Munich for the first time. In the freezing weather, a hot mug of mulled wine was just the trick to stay warm. After a couple of markets, we also realised we didn’t have to return the mugs to get our deposit back – we could keep these cute little mugs as souvenirs! Every market had its own mug with a unique design, and the year and place inscribed.

Since then, every year I’ve been making my own mulled wine in December and putting them in these mugs. Last year we also made a trip to Denmark to check out the Christmas scene there…and decided that we liked the German version of mulled wine so much better. So this year we’re headed back to Germany soon, for another round of markets and gluhwein before Christmas! However, since it’s already getting cold and dark in London, I’ve been dying to make some mulled wine at home anyway. This weekend was the perfect time. We spent Sunday baking up Christmas cookies, drinking mulled wine, and decorating our little Christmas tree in front of our (real!) fireplace. The cookies are mainly going to work with me tomorrow, as an office-warming present…what’s left of them anyway!

And because I cannot stop raving about this lovely winter drink, here’s my recipe for mulled wine (adapted from the Jamie Oliver magazine from November 2012).

Mulled wine – serves 2-3; double the recipe if you’ve got company!

  • 50 mL orange juice
  • 50g brown sugar
  • Quarter of an orange
  • 2 cloves
  • Half a star anise
  • A small cinnamon stick
  • Half a vanilla pod
  • 1/2 bottle of red wine – not too expensive, but drinkable red wine!
  • 1 tbsp of port, spiced rum, or something else spiced/flavoured. I typically use an apple-infused vodka that I made in the autumn when apples were everywhere in my kitchen
  1. Warm up the orange juice and sugar in a heavy bottomed pot until sugar dissolves
  2. Put the cloves in the orange, and put orange, star anise, cinnamon, and vanilla into the orange juice mixture to infuse. You can do this step a day in advance if you’re planning to serve this drink at a party
  3. Add in the wine and port/rum, and bring to just under a simmer. The drink should be served piping hot, but don’t boil the alcohol!
  4. Garnish the mugs with cinnamon sticks and orange slices as you see fit. Enjoy!

If I’m really on top of things this December, maybe I’ll get around to sharing this recipe too…


May Desktop Wallpaper

Udaipur, India

That pesky May update…

I’m very conscious of the fact that the month is more than half over, and I haven’t updated anything on this blog. I did post a recipe for my coconut lemongrass tea cake earlier this month. The post may have gone un-noticed, but definitely check it out when you’ve got a minute because it’s the best afternoon indulgence I’ve made in recent days.

So, what’s new in May?

Our lives have been rather consumed with a multitude of things life- and work-related. We’ve spent every Saturday (and sometimes Sunday) since before Easter trying to find a new place to live. Our lease expires in July at a very inconvenient time, so we thought we’d get be on top of things and start looking early. So far, I’m just bitter that our weekends have been consumed with no end result! Some of the areas have just ended up being a lot more expensive than we’re willing to pay for, and some of the homes have been left to shambles with no house pride whatsoever that I don’t even want to bother. Properties also come and go very quickly, and extremely competitively. (We actually queued outside with 18(!) other couples/people waiting to view a flat one weekend.) So it’s been anxiety-inducing with no real results.

Another funny thing about London is just how big it is, and how many “pockets” there could be within London itself. It takes me about 45 minutes to get to work. We live in Zone 2, considered quite central London, and I work right in the heart of Soho. Yet because of how massive this city is, my commute takes me 45 minutes. However, if I lived out in Zone 4 or 5 near a National Rail train (how suburban), I could have a shorter commute due to the fast trains. It’s just bizarre. Don’t worry, not compromising to move out to the shires yet, but we’re definitely in the middle of the classic dilemma of having too many choices for where we could live.

Work has also gotten really busy for both me and Alex. I am really loving my job and all that I do daily – no complaints there – but I am also finding myself rushing out the door in the mornings and stumbling home late at night. I can definitely be Spanish these days, if we were to purely judge me by the time I eat dinner every night. (And those who know me know that I enjoy my dinners at 6pm on the dot.) Haven’t gotten back into exercising or running, but I have a couple of runs coming up in June and July, so all I’ve been doing is fretting about the lack of running everyday while not having time to do it at all.

Another thing that’s totally new in May is that we’ve been following the paleo diet for a few weeks now since late April. At first I thought it was going to be hard and I wouldn’t really like it. Now I am going to sound like a cliché when I say that I actually don’t miss bread and I feel great. It’s very unexpected, but now even when I’m really hungry, I don’t crave bread or noodles or anything like that. I might think about getting pizza once in a while, but when it comes to actually committing myself to eating something that has a lot of carbs, I find myself turning away from that option. I haven’t been able to resist a bite of cake or brownie once in a while, but overall I have changed my palette. I’ve also noticed my body slimming down from this, which is totally unexpected. Initially I wanted to try paleo because I’ve heard great things about how much more energetic people feel when they’re eating paleo, and for a while there in late April I was really living a blurry dream from day to night, so I thought I’d give it a try while cleaning up my eating habits. I never thought that I would actually notice a difference in how my clothes fit. Weird, but definitely a welcome side effect!

So that’s why the baking has slowed down a bit, too. I’m dreaming up my birthday cake for the end of the month, though, so stay tuned on that one!

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