Four Year and Five Months

4 years + 5 months= how long I nursed E. I sometimes hesitate to talk about this because full term breastfeeding can be controversial a lot of the time. But in early April I told her that it was time to say goodbye to nursing. She was nursing max of once a day (sometimes going days without) and I just wanted to finalize it in a beautiful way. I never in a million years imagined going so long, and though it had it’s ups and downs it is something I am incredibly proud of and will cherish the sweet memories.

So we had a little celebration. I made cake. We bought her a bicycle. We had a tea party with her favorite foods. Yes, it was hard work on my part so maybe I should have chosen my favorite foods, but have you ever tried to tell a 4 year old that a celebration about something to do with her isn’t all about her?

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She requested a strawberry cake with pink roses. Friends, I made the whole thing from scratch, cooking down strawberries and then topping the cakes with strawberry cream cheese frosting. It was beautiful if I do say so myself, and it tasted delicious.

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E got a bicycle as a gift.

We had strawberry raspberry tea (it’s by Twinings and it’s delightfully pink and fruity) and salmon with cream cheese sandwiches. And oh yes, I bought her her favorite pink roses. She was really pleased with it all, and it was such a sweet way to say goodbye to that part of us.

Elevate the every day indeed.

Goodness Kate, Get It Together

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I start this blog back up. I say it’ll be a regular thing. And then….life. I am horrible about taking time for myself and scheduling in time to write. I always say I need to but there always seems to be something else that takes priority in the moment. But damnit, that’s enough. I miss writing. I miss just laying thoughts down and letting them breathe.

G had double jaw surgery about a week ago and it’s been rough because he’s been in pain. But the good news is that it means he’s home for a bit and I have time to work out a schedule where I can write. We’ve been back in England for 10 months and to be honest it’s been rough. All the things we used to love got a lot more complicated with 3 young children. Also, I’ve never found it easy to just jump in and be friends with everyone and their mother, so it’s slow going finding my community/tribe here.

I waffle between not jumping in, or just laying out who I am and letting a person take it or leave it. But too often if you say, “This is me” it’s easy for the other person to instead hear, “This is how I’m awesome and if you do things differently you suck.” People have a bad tendency to take what someone says about who they are and internalize it into a critique of their own value. Dude, I’m just telling you what I’m into. I don’t really care if it’s how you do you. Sure, I want everyone to eat real foods and whatnot because that’s something I’m passionate about. But you want to order takeaway 3 nights a week? Good for you. Takeaway is damn delicious.

I think that’s why I love writing this blog. Because this is me. Imperfect. Spouting strongly held opinions. Aiming for daily pockets of beauty and joy.

Oh The Days Are Long…

…but the years are short.

I recently read a quote that simply stated, “I remember the days I prayed for what I have now.” And it’s so true. Those days of calling out to God, wondering why we weren’t able to have children. They are blessings. Even if they are plague and pestilence.

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Since moving here it’s been one cold or illness after another, not just for the children but G and I too. It’s made keeping house, cooking whole meals, or even blogging difficult. I’m hoping that warmer weather brings an end to it. (Then again, Amelia was throwing up last night. Ugh.)

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Last weekend it hit 57F so we went out, mowed the lawn and played in the sun. The twins had never seen bubbles before, and were both slightly terrified and slightly in awe of them. We hung diapers to dry in the sunshine, drank coffee on a picnic blanket, and enjoyed the promise of more sunshine to come.

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The Twinkles need hats to protect their fair skin. I try and rub sunscreen in, but I’m always afraid I’ll miss a bit since they’re so squirmy.

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All in all, a beautiful day with my beautiful family. Here’s hoping there are many, many more sunny days to come.

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For The Love Of Vegetables

We’re already big produce consumers. My whole family loves fruits and vegetables and it’s the biggest part of my grocery bill. Which is why I’ll be attempting an insanely large garden this summer (more on that soon). So some might find it strange to hear that one of my New Year’s goals was to have our family eating even more.

In both the U.S. and the U.K. they recommend eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. But research is showing that 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables (with an emphasis on vegetables) is a better way to go for your health. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is a good way to naturally get necessary vitamins and minerals, and help yourself stay healthy.

I like to choose a variety of colors for their nutritional differences and because a rainbow of colors is appealing. Prepping ahead of time helps. We usually have carrot sticks and sliced peppers in the refrigerator. And a cucumber is quick to slice up and a perfect cold teether for the babies. Here’s how we rocked the veggies recently:

Starting with lunch.

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Platter of sliced vegetables (carrots, bell peppers, celery, and cucumbers) with avocados mixed with hummus for a dip.

Then after lunch I went ahead and prepped for a couple other meals this week.

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Grilled peppers to go with lentil tacos on Wednesday night. Chopped these up.

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Grilled corn for the tacos. I sliced this all off and tucked it away in the fridge.

carrots and parsnips

This was pre-roasting. These carrots and parsnips went into the oven to eat with roasted chickens later in the week. Also, roasted zucchini slices, not pictured.

Then I may have gotten a little crazy. I grabbed the pumpkin E had picked out for her Halloween decoration. Pumpkin is a squash that can last months when kept properly. So I sliced it open and got all the seeds out to roast with some Old Bay. And then, realizing the pumpkin was pretty meaty, sliced it up, peeled it and put the flesh in the oven to roast.

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Yummy pumpkin seeds. These were gone while soup was cooking.

The pumpkin turned out to be less flavorful than I was wanting for soup. But never fear, I pureed that up, added cinnamon and maple syrup and some half and half and cooked it in a cast iron skillet until it tasted like heavenly pie. I whipped up some cream and that was what we had for dessert Monday night.

Dinner that Monday night was my Butternut Apple Bisque. The babies had never had it, and they each ate an entire cup of it for dinner! Then they ate a small bit of the pumpkin dessert.

So for that Monday alone we had: bananas as part of breakfast, the vegetables with hummus (along with some oat crackers, cheddar cheese and a chili chutney ), butternut squash, apples, pumpkin (in the soup and dessert), onions, garlic, and oranges. If you count each bell pepper color separately (and I like to since the different colors can offer slightly different nutrients), we ate 14 different types of fruit and veggies!

I know it’s easy to get into a rut with vegetables. I grew up on basically corn, canned green beans, and iceberg lettuce. So I’ll be sharing some of my tried and true vegetable recipes here as well as ones I’m trying out. If you have any to share, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Mardi Gras Pancake Day!

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A week ago we celebrated Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Pancake Day is huge here in the UK with displays at the grocery stores and even a tasting last night as we walked into Tescos!

I had originally planned to do pancakes with breakfast sausages and maple syrup. But we found a Forest Berries Coulis that sounded delicious, so picked up raspberries and blueberries to pair with.

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I juiced some oranges for mimosas and sliced some up for our plates. Cut up some kiwi and we were set! I recently found my new favorite pancake recipe ever at Oh Sweet Basil, and they don’t need any help being delicious!

We enjoyed a fabulous and simple meal as we got ready for the season of Lent. I’m looking forward to see what growth occurs as we center ourselves a bit more and reflect on life during this season!

Style Saturday: Be Bold

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I love a bold lip. It pops against my pale skin, and adds a bit of color to my mostly neutral wardrobe.

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From deep berry to a bright red, I think it’s the perfect perk up for winter.

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These are my current favorites (from left to right): Rimmel As You Want Victoria, Rimmel lasting finish Kate 30, Wet n Wild Sugar Plum Fairy, Wet n Wild Stoplight Red, Vincent Longo Americana, and YSL glossy stain 9 Rouge Laque.

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I picked up the two Wet n Wild colors because they’re a perfect dupe for two MAC colors that I wanted to try before spending more money. Sugar Plum Fairy is a perfect match for MAC Rebel. Stoplight Red is the same color as MAC Ruby Woo. I love them both and wear them often, so I’ll be picking up the MAC ones that I have heard have a better texture soon.

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This lip gloss is divine in texture and I love the spade like applicator. I’ll be purchasing more colors soon.

Bold lips don’t have to come across as super out there. If applied with the finger gently pressing into your lips they become a nice stain as well.

I think these colors are the perfect way to brighten up winter. Are there any bright colors that you love?

Pancake Perfection

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I want to be that family that has pancakes every Saturday, preferably with a nice fruit salad and mimosas. But we’ve been in this house 4 1/2 months and I still hadn’t braved pancakes. My grandmama’s cast iron flat pan I always used for pancakes has a ring on the bottom, so wouldn’t work for the glass cooktop (we won’t even talk about my antique cast iron waffle pan). I’m still getting used to an electric hob anyway, so I’ll admit I was a bit afraid.

However, today I woke up and told them, “We’re having pancakes.” I quickly looked up a new buttermilk pancake recipe, which can be found here. They were so tasty I’m writing it down as our new go to. I switched pans after the first pancake was a bust, but finally one of the old cast iron pans was the right size. Sure, there were a couple ones with hints of being cajun (i.e. blackened). In the end, though, we ended up with enough pancakes for all 5 of us. While the pancakes cooked I made coffee, heated up a saucier of butter and maple syrup (we don’t have a microwave), and toasted pecans in the previously too small pan. Sliced a few bananas, and suddenly there it was: brunch.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was just right. We ate in the conservatory, with the sun streaming in and the babies enthralled with their first taste of pancakes. Not a bad way to start a Saturday at all.

Hello Again!

Bonjour! Welcome back! I’m so very pleased to be writing here again. It’s been nearly 2 years (which is complete insanity), and boy have I missed it. At the time we were dealing with facing not having more children (biologically) and it was nice to get away. But I quickly realized I just needed a vacation rather than a real new start. So here we are. If you’ve stuck around, thank you! If you’re new, hello!

MoietE

So, a quick catch up for those who didn’t follow over to Seeking Small!

• Garret got orders to go back to England! We were elated (and a wee bit terrified)!

• On a trip to drop our dogs off with my family, we discovered I was pregnant nearly 18 months after the miscarriage. Surprise! Super excited!

• Turns out my feelings were correct…..twins! Oh my! Surprise!Twinkles9mo

• Lots of packing, move date kept getting pushed back, eventually for a total of 7 months (thanks in part to a super rough and scary pregnancy).

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• March 16, 2015: Charlotte and Amelia made their arrival 5 weeks early. Rough first week, but they were perfect. Eleanor was ridiculously excited to be a big sister!

• June 2015, moved back to England.

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And it’s been a whirlwind since. We lived in 3 different hotels/ short term rentals while we looked for a home and waited for it to be ready. G’s temporary schedule has been insane. And being a mama to the Twinkles? Well I don’t recommend it for the faint of heart!

So, will posting be regular? Yes. My sanity depends on carving out some time for me. I will definitely be writing about reading the KonMari books and my feelings on simplifying our home and life. I’ll also be posting about how I’m attempting to get back to me, especially when it comes to style and making time for self care. And I’m going to attempt to be brave and do some vlogging, mainly cooking (since we all know I’m passionate about food!).

I cannot wait to settle in. So feel free to grab a cup of coffee (or three) and make yourself at home. I’m so glad to be back, and cannot wait to write more!

 

 

New Beginnings

For those of you who don’t follow on Facebook, I’ve begun a new blog.  It’s called Seeking Small, and it incorporates more of my life (which currently involves a lot of Eleanor).  I have loved writing here, and I plan to continue when the whim hits.  But 2 years ago my life got rocked hard by entering mamahood, and I realized that when this blog became more of a discipline to write rather than a labor of love, that perhaps it was time to figure out something different. 

At first, I thought that perhaps I could simply change it up here, but that just didn’t feel like a good fit.  I’d write a ton of posts that never got published because it simply didn’t feel like the right place.  And so it would be silent here.  I’d try and think of categories, to maybe jog my brain into writing more to no avail. 

After chatting with a friend (Heather from Our Kids Mom….whom I’ve known since I was a pre-teen) I realized the answer for me really lay in starting over with a new blog.  After much consideration (agonizing really, if we’re being honest), I chose Seeking Small because for me, it spoke to bridging the old and new.  I’ve always tried to seek our small pleasures, small moments in this crazy life.  And the new blog gives me a spot to really dig deeper and be real.  I wanted to create a space where I could celebrate the beautiful mess that my life so often is. 

I know that not all of my readers will be interested in more mama things, and that’s okay.  I will occasionally post or cross-post here.  But the majority of my writing will be there and I do hope you’ll wander over and check it out. I’ve felt a peace this week that has been missing when it came to my
writing.  It’s hard to describe, but I feel like the new blog just feels
like home for me.  I want to thank you all for reading and engaging with me both here and on other platforms (and e-mail!). 

Merci,
Kate

LIfe As I Know It

This year I’ve slowed down, tried to be more intentional.  I stop in the middle of a blog post because I have a 2 year old grabbing my hand, ready to set off on wild adventures.  I take time to sit with a hot mug of tea and sew or crochet or knit.  As I type, Nora flips over the end of our sleigh bed and comes up and says, “Hey.” It’s her soft way of checking in when she’s been playing by herself.  She’ll repeat it until you acknowledge it if you’re in the middle of something.  This time there is no wait, I smile, and say, “Hey love.”  She points to the wash cloth I’m crocheting, the one I’ve told her is for her and says, “Me.” 

2013 I spent wanting it to hurry up, for the next stage of life to begin.  And when it didn’t, when life was the same, beautiful, but less full than I imagined, I wanted to rush it.  I wanted to hurry along to something, even if I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  Even now, with the balancing act of different baskets (rather than keeping all of our eggs in one), I want to hurry, hurry.  But I force myself to pause.  To acknowledge today and it’s beauty. 

So now, I take it slower.  I walk to the park and sit and just watch the clouds while Nora runs like a banshee to go down the slide over and over.  I point out birds or talk about spring being around the corner.  We stomp through the last remnants of snow piles, feeling the icy snow crunch beneath our feet. 

Heart shaped biscuits

Our first year here was slower, and then the year before G’s deployment, we were fighting and rushing and then with the pregnancy, the quickness of everything just kept on running along.  This year has been more like the first.  I take time in the small things.  I have my favorite necklaces displayed on our dresser, carefully choosing one each day.  I’ve read more, relaxed more, and loved more. 

Color matching toys I made for Nora.

Sunday style posts were a bust because honestly the weekends are so full of life that I forget to pause and take photos or blog.  Maybe Sunday supper would be best.  We’ll see.  I’m just glad to be living a life full of meaning and intentional steps even if it’s only for me and my little family.