Mince Pies and Fairy Lights

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I still can’t quite believe I’ve had nearly a whole year off from writing. Writing in almost any form, at the minute completing a shopping list is about my level! But there is something extremely therapeutic and rewarding about capturing these thoughts and adventures on this little ‘ole blog, even if most of the time we are too busy enjoying them to worry about documenting any of it. And that’s ok, that’s the way it supposed to be.

Surprisingly the sleep fairies aligned this morning giving me a short window of time that didn’t need to be filled with anything immediate, and I’ve already showered and had breakfast. Life goals right there.

At some point I’ll do a bit of a wrap up of 2016, as its been quite a year! But for something a little lighter today. We recently went back to the UK and indulged in countless roast dinners with many trimmings, spending lots of time with family and friends, leaving us feeling like we have already half done Christmas. Whilst for some the holidays may not be a joyous occasion, especially as there are so many ‘should’s’ wrapped up in these few days. In a bid to not treat Christmas as something to be done, or checked off the list, and ignoring all the should’s, here are the top 5 things I have and am doing to enjoy these holidays.

  1. Holiday baking. At a recent yoga class we all discussed what our favourite part of the holidays are, and tried to narrow it down to one thing. This was pretty tricky. For me it has to be the food. When else do you get to eat so many delicious treats. I love baking, all year round, so having time to make and decorate cookies, make eggnog – delicious by the way! and my favourite every year, mince pies, is a real treat (have you seen all the puns so far *smug face*).
  2. Fairy lights. You cant have too many. Which is good, because the fairy light monster sneezed all over our house. But they are amazing, I might just leave them up all year.
  3. PJ’s. Be it pj’s (matching!), lounge wear, sweats or whatever, I’m fully embracing the chance to have a few lazy days. I’ve stocked up on popcorn and am choosing some movies. Anyone got any favourite must see Christmas movies?
  4. Snow. Our Christmas plans aside from the above are to make a snowman. We will be in Utah where it is looking very much like we will be having another white Christmas. 10 inches of the white stuff in fact! Whilst kiwi will be hankering after a beach and bbq, I love going for a walk in the snow, and this year being a big kid and making a snowman. It’s been so long I’m not even sure I know how!
  5. Go on an adventure. Once the turkey is finished – we are forgoing it this year, pigs in blankets as a main? followed by cheese. Sure why not! But after lazing around eating all the chocolate, get outside, go somewhere, do something. We plan on walking,  skiing and visiting a state park, then after all of that, playing some new board games!

 

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Finding structure

Life is always a bit chaotic, that’s what makes it fun. I find it usually easiest to embrace the chaos and go with it. There’s always natural ebbs and flows in life and its equally nice to be busy as it is to have a moment of calm. One big thing we have found from uprooting and rebuilding a new life is how important it is to find some structure. I’d say one of the main things to consider when you are moving to a new place, are what are the three most important things to you in your lifestyle. It might be a particular type of food you like to eat and just couldn’t be without, or a specific type of restaurant, maybe specific spaces, like having parks, mountains, or a fashion scene. Activities and hobbies, which might be sports, a particular organisation or group of people that you enjoy doing regularly. Take some time to de construct your life and think what are the bits of your life that fulfil you and you wouldn’t want to live without. And when you are considering new places make sure they exist there. equally even if you aren’t moving, thinking what you need and doing more of it is a pretty powerful way to be happier. For me having a swimming pool near by is an essential, along with open green spaces and a variety of sports and activities. I also would happily add into the mix a few chocolate shops, cake classes, bakeries, farmers markets and zoos but these are negotiable.

Working out some activities that are dear to you really give a great place to start for rebuilding a new life. What’s exiting is you get to take the best bits from your previous lifestyle and add in some new stuff. You can take time to re-evaluate what is important and give more time to what you want to do. Right now I’m focusing on writing, trying out some new sports and activities and exploring new places. I’m also taking the time to appreciate smaller pleasures in life, like roast lamb, European chocolate, settling into winter, reminiscing on previous fun trips, reading and making future plans.

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cakes and tarts

This weekend was an eventful one, Sunday afternoon as spent mostly in the kitchen, Kiwi observed after 3 hrs in the kitchen I had baked a lot today. We made a roast – as we finally found a joint of lamb in the supermarket. And oh my it tasted good! We roasted it and had roast potatoes, parsnips and loads of veggies. We also realised it had been over 2 months since we last had lamb!! and to be fair since we last saw a sheep! We also made some chocolate drop cookies, these didn’t last long enough to take a photo off. Kiwi wanted ‘mallow puffs’ so we tried a new recipe with this and they turned out ok, despite not having any golden syrup. I never realised this is a British product and not that common over here! If you make these its worth investing in a silicone/hard tray as pealing the paper of and painting chocolate on is fiddly and a bit annoying. And the final bake…. a white chocolate and macadamia nut tart. This is amazing! and so so bad for you its good. Its a pastry base the filling is essentially white chocolate, cream, cream cheese and nuts…. with a chocolate ganache topping. its so rich I think this might last us for weeks! This week I’ll need to make a load of soup and we will try to play tennis to counteract the excess cake!

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25 things to do in South Bend

Ok, so having done quite a lot of googling, on-line research and scouring local places for leaflets and flyers to see what’s happening here I’ve found a couple of things. One of the best sources of info has been Inthebend – a local on-line newspaper, and the blog, 365 things to do in South Bend. Now I’m not convinced there area actually 365 things to do that are worth doing, and the blog only goes to 271, but I’m willing to give them a go! What’s more I figured I’d try out them so I could report back on the best South Bend has to offer, and see if I can add some new stuff.  So here’s a definitive list of things to do, I’ve edited this list into an Autumn/Winter one and will recreate a Spring/Summer catalogue later in the year. I’m going to give each one a go and see what happens. These largely orientate around food, but also local events, festivals and activities. Here’s the list.

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Why do I blog

Ive dabbled with blogging for several years, obviously late to the trend I really enjoy writing, telling stories and talking. I talk all the time, I often ask Mr Kiwi if his life is quieter when I’m not around. Over the years I’ve never quite got into blogging as I always approached it as I do most things, logically and academically. I ask questions like, what is the point of it, who is the audience, what is the focus and aims, why does it matter, and who does it matter too. This critical questioning makes it hard to pick one thing to talk about when I like to talk about everything, and to order the jumble of thoughts that go 100 mph in my head. This blog has been really refreshing, I started it after a few friends suggested it, its a great way to keep in touch wiih people, and to share the mundane day to day things we do – the little ethnographer in me finds this very exciting. Moving to the other side of the world seemed a good focus. everything would be different. it is, and writing these snapshops down has been good fun. Before we left I scoured the internet for blogs, reviews etc of things to do, things to think about to prepare ourselves for when we got here. So that’s why I blog really, I just like to talk, watch the world, and ask questions.

Youve got post

Who doesn’t like post?! well I love sending post, so if you are lucky you may be receiving a little postcard sometime soon. Some of you may get ‘naught little people’ an amusing set that were kinda quirky. If you aren’t so lucky you need to send me your address and you might get something for Halloween…..

plus you get to drive to post boxes – that are blue and only seem to be available in car parks….

I’m a total stationary geek so I had the best time visiting Barnes & Noble. The row of notepads and stationary sets was brilliant. Not to mention any book you could ever imagine and plenty of board games. The only downside was the international magazine selection – pretty poor, and no tea or hot chocolate to accompany me in store.

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