Monthly archives of “November 2011

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a beautiful sight

on this cold, cold day.

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i loves a flat white.

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a brits guide to thanksgiving

thanksgiving is my absolute favourite holiday. don’t get me wrong, christmas is great, but as they say in a charlie brown christmas (which is a MUST watch btw), christmas has become too commercial. thanksgiving is not so! its hard to commercialise a meal, on one day of the year, designed to give thanks. its quality family/friends-that-are-more-like-family-than-actual-family time, tons of delicious food, american football and games.

i love it. and since my immigration to the uk, i have kept celebrating it every year. and every year the number of brits wanting to get in on my thanksgiving action has grown. so much so, that in bedford i already know of 2 thanksgiving dinners happening this year made up of all british people! so, with all the buzz, mystery and wonderfulness surrounding this fabulous, foreign holiday, i thought it was appropriate to write, a brits guide to thanksgiving.

this will include: a short history of the holiday, a general schedule of a normal thanksgiving day, an idea of what kinds of dishes to serve for it to be ‘authentic’ (no yorkshire pudding allowed i’m afraid!) and fun activities for the kids.

now time for the disclaimer: i am southern. i was born in texas and seeing as america is ginormous–texas is 1 of 50 states and it alone can fit at least 4 of the entire uk within its borders–the traditions, i am sure, vary greatly. so this is a dixie-land version of thanksgiving, mixed in with a whole lot of macilvaine* traditions.

history: contrary to cynical english belief, ‘we’ did not shoot all the indians right when ‘we’ first got to america. i say ‘we’ and not we because ‘we’ was actually y’all. yea, thats right. english settlers. the pilgrims were english, originally. so lets just do away with the blaming shall we? (please note playful, not angsty, tone!) basically, the pilgrims came on long voyage to the new world. over half of them die on the way and more die on arrival due to freezing weather and no food. all hope was gone, as they did not know how to farm this new land. enter squanto. he was a native american who helped the settlers learn to work the land. he and the leader of the settlers also signed a treaty of mutual help and peace which lasted over a century. when they had a successful and plentiful harvest the following autumn, the settlers and native americans sat down to a huge feast to celebrate and give thanks. this is what we are celebrating every year.

planning the day: thanksgiving dinner is usually anywhere between 12 and 2pm depending on your family, your organisational/cooking skills and any football games that are on! before dinner actually commences, my family usually has a lazy morning with lots of coffee. there is a huge jigsaw that we all pitch into complete. we watch the macy’s thanksgiving day parade and eat the cheeseball–a legendary and decidedly secret dish!

next we eat. during the meal we usually at some point go around and say what we are thankful for, being thanksgiving and all, and then we all lounge and watch football until the food has digested enough to make room for the pumpkin pie! then movies and games and an early night. it’s. the. best.

authentic dishes: a roasted turkey (think british christmas turkey), cranberry sauce, stuffing, baked sweet potato fluff, green bean casserole, bread rolls, mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing, gingersnap gravy, pumpkin pie and pecan pie.

fun activities for kids: making your own indian headdress, handprint turkeys, pilgrim hats. you can find some tutorials on how to set up these activities, along with loads more ideas on this fabulously resourceful website.

i hope this has been a useful guide and will inspire many more parties across the uk!! if you do end up throwing a thanksgiving party please do send a photo or tell me about it in the comments!!

happy thanksgiving!!
sarah

*my maiden name and the family of total awesomeness

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it’s the holiday season!!!!

it might be something to do with the weather turning, the darker evenings, thanksgiving round the corner, or the fact that we finally got our chimney swept and had our first amazingly cosy fire of the winter. whatever the cause, this weekend, i got all festive. i got the christmas decorations out, downloaded the family stone (so, so worth the watch!!! one of my favourite films) and made cinnamon sourdough bread.

i also discovered a new (to me) band that i am in love with. they have brought out a christmas album and its the perfect soundtrack for the next month and a bit. below is my favourite to give you a little taster.

enjoy!

happy holidays,

sarah

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spinach and mixed bean hash

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as i am currently doing the south beach diet–and since, as a family, we are moving more towards real food/gaps eating–i am constantly experimenting with new recipes.

i was super sceptical about this one as i was making it up from the dregs of my i-havent- had-time-to-get-groceries cupboard. but i loved it!! and it made a great breakfast. yes, breakfast.

spinach and mixed bean hash:

1 cup homemade chicken stock
1 tin mixed beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
handful of chopped spinach (frozen or fresh, more if fresh!)
cracked black pepper to taste
1/2-1 cup grated raw cheddar cheese

mix all ingredients together in medium saucepan and bring to boil. boil pretty hard until liquid reduces to thick hash-like texture.

stir in half of the grated cheese. transfer to a bowl and sprinkle the other half of cheese on top as a garnish!

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this recipe has been rae-approved!!!

happy sunday! love, sarah

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sam’s party

*another post from the forgotten drafts archive. enjoy!

my handsome little man turned 3 last month! the request was for a charlie brown party. here are some pics of the occasion!

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sam’s vintage peanuts thermos

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peanuts comic strip ‘wallpaper’ curtesy of google and our printer.

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charlie brown bunting curtesy of google, some red ribbon and my stapler

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and snoopy ballon!

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charlie brown colouring sheets. again, google, i love you.

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and of course, the cake and cake display!! courtesy of momma’s love and vintage stash. i had so much fun getting ready for this party!

DIY charlie brown cake post to follow!

love, sarah

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the first day

*i found this post (along with a few more) in my drafts folder. whoops! better late than never.

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my handsome baby boy had his first day of preschool last week. i did not think that i would cry. i was wrong. i did not think that i would be so emotional about it. wrong, again. i mean, its not like he is going to college or anything.

but that’s the thing. this is the first day of a lot of days on the road to college. one of those milestones that marks the growing up of your baby boy into a proper boy, and then a little man and then a man.

granted, it’s a long road, and we are only at the beginning. and everyday that he grows up i love getting to know him more. but hey, part of being a momma is loving your babies and grieving the season change, even if the season change is exciting.

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guy fawkes day aka bonfire night

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today was so much fun. first playing in the leaves and then celebrating a truly english holiday. some guy named guy tried to blow up the houses of parliament. he failed and they burned him for treason. so every year on the anniversary of his death, the english make little rag ‘guy’s and throw them on a bonfire. it’s quite morbid really. but fun, as everyone likes a good bonfire in autumn, and there are fireworks and sparklers!!

note: as i was photographer and rae was asleep for all said activities, sam and daddy are the sole stars of the photographic record of the day sadly. but super cute stars!

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sam’s cooking adventures

ah the adventures we have in our kitchen!

since we moved, our kitchen is much bigger and i have been using the opportunity to teach sam some basic cooking techniques. it’s been so much fun. and nothing better for my little half-englishman today than learning to make some home-made chunky chips!

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step one: cut the potato into chunks. for this sam is using the pampered chef kids knife. its fantastic and is used most days!

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step two: potatoes in baking tray

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step three: add olive oil, salt (i am aware the amount of salt pictured is higher than the rda. the holes were big…) and stir to mix together!

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step four: cook at 200 degrees c for 30 mins.

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and voila! hand cut chunky chips a la sam. so much healthier than bought chips (aside from the salt slip up!) and so much more satisfying. i mean, doesn’t he look so cute and proud of himself?! i love his cute little face!

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whats been going on

i have been baking. and making water kefir. and playing lots of music. and listening to lots of music. and breaking up fights. and designing coffee bars. and changing diapers. and learning new songs on guitar. and watching downton abbey. and going on adventures into london with my kids. and cleaning up messes. and teaching sam that lying isn’t so much fun for mommy. and dealing with an 17-month going on 13. (seriously. i got slapped in the face for not letting her put on my mascara…lord help me.) and doing coffee tastings. the list goes on. i am a busy woman.

i was thinking this morning–whilst glugging my coffee down in-between making, serving and clearing breakfast–about the things i miss about having space and time. like doing crosswords while i drink my coffee. or, in fact, even being able to drink my coffee slowly. or having time to potter around the house (i love that word by the way. potter. possibly my most favourite english word. its so wonderfully descriptive!). or even having time to shave my legs in the shower every morning. i miss that. richard misses that!

but in the same breath i thought about how nice it is to feel focused. not having much time cause you have lots of jobs/chores to do gives you focus. and i find that really fun and meaningful. mostly because instead of being busy doing things i do not enjoy, for whatever reason. i am super busy with things that i chose and i love. even if my legs are a little hairier!