Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Busy days

Life with a baby is an unexpected constant flow of peace and calm that alternates with I-am- going-to-lose-my-mind moments.You never know what each day will bring. If it will be easy or if every single simple task will prove to be excruciatingly long and difficult.

Lately those moments have been so close to one another that it is hard not to feel like I am going crazy. Sometimes I am surprised at how efficient I can be. On Friday I baked  two cakes for an order that had to be delivered on Saturday. Then Mark came home early, we went to the supermarket for some last-minute groceries,  I made coconut-swiss-meringue buttercream, filled the cakes and we covered them in fondant. While playing with the kid, feeding her, and trying to get her to nap.

 After that I made a tiramisu. Then on Saturday morning I painted the cakes, went to the supermarket again (no amount of lists can make me stop forgetting things), and we all got in the car and drove an hour to deliver the cake. We took a walk in the beautiful landscape of the Noord Holland province, made a stop to have a classic Dutch broodje kroket and drove back. Luckily Yu slept most of the ride. She hates the car-seat so much these days that deciding to go anywhere involves a real analysis on whether the trip is worth her discomfort.

As soon as we came back I set myself to prepare Mexican Red (tomato) rice and we left for a Posada, full with kids. There was all kinds of delicious food, Ponche, a piñata, bengal lights, singing. It was running running running the whole time, but also, so much fun.

 On Sunday we went for a walk in the city where I had the husband fooled... we went to celebrate his birthday at a restaurant where both his best friends, his brother and his mom were already waiting for us. I had to make up a story to get him there without suspecting! It worked. There were hamburgers and milkshakes and present-opening.

And yesterday I started the day by making blueberry pancakes, then set to make the house full of balloons, went to the supermarket (for the 3rd time in 4 days!), made chicken broth, chicken fajitas and a chocolate cake. All while taking care of a sick, snotty, clingy kid that is not feeling very well since being outside in the cold on Saturday. Some days I think I deserve a medal. Yu normally loves going out for walks in the stroller: she loves the distraction and she likes the fresh air and the opportunity to flirt and smile at people. Not yesterday. She did not want to stay sitting. She did not want to wear a hat. She did not want her pacifier. She was tired but did not want to sleep either. She was complaining all  the way and did not even stop crying when I took her out at a café (which usually works). I had to carry her heavy self on the kangaroo and walk home. In the middle of a sudden rainpour. But we all survived. And I felt so accomplished (if I just forget that there are dishes to be done, and laundry to be folded, and a whole house to be vacuum-cleaned, and holiday cards yet to be ordered, written and posted). I just hope this stroller-strike is not going to be a thing, because if I can't go out I just might lose my mind for real.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dotty Fish leather baby-shoes (and discount!)

 Ever since I dreamt of having a baby I knew I wanted to get our imaginary kid some leg-warmers, or, as they call them in the US (in what strikes me as a slightly macabre name), baby-legs. They are just so cute!
When the time finally came, and as I was preparing Yu's Twink costume, I could not find many companies who would ship the leg warmers to Europe, even from the UK, and I was having trouble finding them here in The Netherlands. But I didn't give up and I finally found Dotty Fish, a company who would do it. I was so happy when they arrived, and even happier at how her costume turned out.

Dotty Fish is a company owned by a mom who decided to start making her own products after being unable to find good quality leather baby shoes at affordable prices. She started in 2006, and ever since the company has expanded and now offers a varied range of baby shoes, bibs, leg-warmers, leggings, tights and lovey-blankets, some that can be mix and matched with each other.

My kid is fancier than me, that's for sure! After I wrote about finding Yu's rainbow legwarmers in the Twink costume tutorial post, Dotty Fish kindly offered to send her some leather shoes for us to review.

It was really hard to choose, as they have so many fun designs!

There are shoes with dinosaurs, owls, lions, kites, giraffes, stars, dots, butterflies, birds, cranes and even reindeers, perfect for this season.

They are also very reasonably priced with prices ranging from 6.99 to 7.69 GBP depending on the size. (And the leg warmers are 2.25 GBP).

In the end I went for the Dotty Fish model, so colorful and pretty. The shoes arrived neatly packaged in a small plastic envelope that easily fit the mailbox, and they were wrapped in a pretty organza bag (the kind that I love to use for small presents or keeping jewellery).

The shoes are very well made, in soft leather, with a no-slip sole and elastics around the feet (so the baby will not take them out, apparently a baby's favorite passtime). I ordered them in size 12-18 months so that she will be able to wear them when she starts to walk, they are still a bit large (she's 10 months) but for the moment they will do a great job of keeping her little feet warm.

Thanks so much to the girls at Dotty Fish for asking me to review their leather shoes (that I was considering getting soon anyway!).

And now for any of you readers interested in their lovely products, Dotty Fish is offering you a 10% discount with the code POPPIES .
As I mentioned above, Dotty Fish kindly sent me the leather shoes so that I would review them, but I was not otherwise compensated to write this post. The opinions expressed are honest and all my own, and  Dotty Fish is a company I would write about and  recommend anyway!.

Dotty Fish sends their products worldwide, using Royal Mail or other (faster) delivery options. You can find their website here, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

*Second photo via CottonBabies

Monday, December 8, 2014

First Holidays

This weekend, Sinterklaas, who has been in the country for about a month, delivered presents all over The Netherlands, on the much-awaited pajkesavond:

"Saint Nicholas' Eve, 5 December, is chief occasion for gift-giving during the winter holiday season. The evening is called Sinterklaasavond or Pakjesavond ("gifts evening", or literally "packages evening"). On the evening of 5 December, the  presents will somehow mysteriously arrive at homes, or a note will be "found" that explains where in house the presents were hidden by  Piet who left a sack with them. Sometimes a neighbor will knock on the door (pretending to be the Piet) and leave the sack outside for the children to retrieve. When the presents arrive, the living room is decked out with them, much as on Christmas Day in other countries. On 6 December, Sinterklaas departs without any ado, and all festivities are over." *

Christmas traditions are magic, and we want our girl to get to know the different cultures she is part of. So we gathered a few of our friends and organized a potluck lunch, presents for the kids, as well as a funny game for us adults. (Did I just write that? It is weird for me to think of myself as the old ones!). There were mandarins, pepernoten, pollo en achiote, rajas con crema,, a pear and blue-cheese quiche...

It was so special to see the excitement in the little ones. Eventhough at this point they do not understand much, I am pretty certain this will create memories and later, looking through old albums, they will come to cherish the moment.

We plan to celebrate Mexican-Style Nochebuena, on December 24; Christmas Day the 25, 2nd Christmas day (usually with friends) the 26; and finally the Magi (los Reyes Magos) on the 6th of January. This weekend we will be attending a Mexican Posada. It seems like a lot, but having Yu growing up as part of different cultures is something we really are trying to do..

What traditions from your childhood are you keeping and which ones have you adopted from the places where you've been to?

*From the wikipedia.
** Infographic via Veggie Style with Daphne, and a Pepernooten recipe!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


I am late to the Thanksgiving reflective posts, but I did not want to let pass the occasion to be grateful.

Thanks to everyone who reads this blog. When I started, it was mostly an exercise in counting my blessings, in trying to find positive things every day to get me through and make me aware, as I was going through some tough stuff, both professionally and personally. 

And it became so much more. It became a place where I could connect with others going through similar stuff, or who were simply here to offer their support, advice, or simply a virtual hug. It became a place to meet new people who would become real life friends, some of whom we have even met more than once off the screens.

We have been so blessed and I am grateful for all the things, big and small, that make our lives full. 
But mostly the small things because they are really the ones that matter.

PS: Thanks to everyone who comes and reads my rambles, and who takes the time to leave a comment. I realized, to my shame, that I had not answered comments for a month and a half, and I am so sorry for that. This weekend I made the time, and all your comments have been answered. The conversation is one of the aspects I appreciate the most about this space, so sorry for that.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Banana-dark-chocolate-granola from #LifeIsMessyKitchen

I look forward to weekends because when the boy is around the house I can take the time to go back to the kitchen and make recipes that are just a tiny bit more laborious or, even if easy, take a little bit more attention (like checking the oven every 8 minutes).

This weekend I was really excited to try Mayi's Maple syrup-dark-chocolate-banana granola. It was actually relaxing to spend Sunday morning in my pijamas, calmly concentrated in chopping nuts, mixing liquids and then waiting like a child for magic to happen in the oven.

This recipe comes from Mayi Carles and her amazing team's new cooking book: Life is Messy Kitchen. It is full of Mayi's beautiful, funny illustrations and has been fully photographed by Marcela Macias, one of my first-ever "internet" friends who has been with me during hard and happy times. I  first found her travel-blog, 'Diario de una Trotamundos' (bring it back!!), from which she switched to 'The Celebration Girl' which has fully blossomed and inspired her to launch her photography business.* The book is full of mostly vegetarian, some raw, recipes from lunch, to dinner, breakfast, snacks or sauces and is all about making healthy eating fun and delicious.

So, on to the recipe, you will need:

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup coconut flakes
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup + 1 spoon maple syrup
1/4 cup + 1 spoon coconut oil (melted)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas (mashed)
1/2 cup dark chocolate (chopped)

What to do: 

Preheat oven to 400 F (~ 200ºC). Chop the almonds (or be lazy and buy them sliced), pecans and cashews. In a large bowl mix the oats, almonds, chopped pecans and cashews, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract and bananas. Next, mix the dry ingredients with the wet until everything is homogenous. Prepare a baking tray with baking paper and spread the granola mixture flat and even. Bake for 25 minutes, checking it at 8 minute intervals where you need to take out the granola and turn it around. Bring it out of the oven and let it cool completely before adding the chocolate and storing into air-tight containers. Voilà, you are ready to enjoy! We've been having it for breakfast and it is delicious. It would make for excellent homemade holiday presents too!


*I want to make clear that this is not a sponsored post. I jumped at the chance to be one of Mayi's book launch ambassadors because I really admire her work, her happy spirit, her contagious joy and her "nobody-is-going-to-stop-me" attitude.

And I will promote loud and clear any and all work of Marcela, but I am not even sure it is necessary, her photos speak for themselves. If you would like to see a sneak peek of the book, here it is. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

They took away the tree

There was a tree right in front of our window. I loved to see it go through the seasons, from being bare naked during the winter months, to getting the first buds of green sprouts that signaled that better, longer, lighter days were coming, to watching it blossom and flourish during the spring and summer before starting to lose its leaves again.

Last Thursday after I had finally settled Yu in her crib for a nap, I heard this really loud, screeching noise. I thought it was our new neighbors with a drill, they are fixing the house they just bought.

Then I realized the sound came from outside and when I looked through the window I saw.

There was a tractor with a huge saw and they were taking away the tree.

We did not get any notice from city hall informing us this would happen. I don't know if the neighbours did this, I do not know why the tree was taken. Maybe it was sick (it didn't look so), maybe it was tampering with sewage or the foundations of a building.

This makes me so sad. If I had known I would have tied myself to the tree like the girls of Virgin Suicides or Flipped (I really love that last movie).

Why would you take a healthy, happy treee that wasn't harming anyone, "my" tree.... our street looks so sad without it.

Images via  here and here

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