Category Archives: Weather

The Horniman Museum

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I’ve been in the UK for over 10 years now, always living in the southeastern area of London and, although I always knew about the Horniman Museum, in Forest Hill, and been once for a Christmas Carol several years ago, I have never paid a proper visit to it.

Until now. We went last weekend. Twice. I’m sure we will go back again.  The girls loved it. It has a nice big garden, with a Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, from 9am to 1.30pm, a food garden (herbs, veggies and fruits planted), a medicinal garden, musical instruments and a little pets section.

The museum per se is not that big, which is great to go around with children (they are not very patience, are they?). Having said that, it is big enough for several days of slow exploration. We went both Saturday and Sunday and haven’t seen it all. We loved the National History section and was a great opportunity to show and teach the kids about animals in general – and weirdly, about death. Another great thing about this museum is the opportunity that kids have to actually touch objects; it makes such a huge difference in how they appreciate a museum and learn about the past. I am a very sensorial person; I can understand facts better if I can see, touch, feel something, so I supposed it was great for me as well. 🙂

We ran out of time to visit the dinosaurs exhibition and the aquarium is closed until the 16th March. So I suppose we will have to go back there soon.

The Horniman Museum, part of the façade.

The “giant” walrus in the National History area. I suppose it is the normal size of a walrus, but seems giant to me.

I’m very jealous of this conservatory. I want one at home (it’s probably bigger than our house). There were some tables inside, for people to eat, but also lots of space for kids to run and shout.

 

Beatrice testing her music skills

The music section in the garden; great fun for kids and adults.

 

The museum also offers family activities on weekends. We went to three of them. The first one was the Hands on, where we all learned about and tried costumes from different countries and cultures. It was free and tickets are collected 30 minutes before each session.

Laura wearing a costume from China. One of the many that they presented.

Laura wearing a Greek costume and Beatrice wearing a Chinese dress.

 

Beatrice wearing a… construction helmet.

 

Mr. C wearing an Emperor costume. I can’t remember which country this is from. China?

We also went to an arts and crafts event, where the girls created their own Crazy Carnival Masks. It costs £3 per child.

Laura showing off her creation.

 

Beatrice with her mask.

 

We also went to a story telling session on Sunday, but I didn’t take any photos. Laura loved the two stories and left a really nice message in their guest book. Beatrice got a bit bored during bits and I had to keep encouraging her to do the actions and explaining parts, etc. The recommended age is 5+, so I guess she was too young for it. The storyteller was great, though, she didn’t mind at all the babies and noisy children in the room. This one was also free.

If you want to visit:

The Horniman Museum, website here.
100 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3PQ (
Closest train station: Forest Hill, national rail and London overground. Parking can be a bit of a pain.
Opens daily from 10.30am – 5.30pm, except 24, 25, 26 December. Gardens open from 7.15am Mon-Sat / 8am Sundays – until Sunset. Both museum and garden are free, except special exhibitions and activities.
There is a cafe inside with hot meals and snacks (at a decent price), but you can also take your own food and have a picnic there

Christmas came and has gone in pictures

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It was warm
The views are always stunning
I had a week off work; more work then usual at home
We went to the dentist
We went to Romania
It was warm
But then it got cold
Not enough to build up snow
But enough to ice skate. Twice
Frozen is still a home favourite. Let it go!
Santa showed up in Romania
We ate like pigs and brought lots of food in the luggage
Santa stopped at home too, but mummy forgot to take pictures
Santa stopped at mummy’s work and decided that mummy is not overweight enough and can have lots of chocolate

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Don’t let the sun go down on me

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If I’m not a big fan of the cold and these darker days that we are going through, I have now an additional reason to dislike it.

It’s been a while since I’ve noticed that I had bad mood swings, was always tired, in pain, etc. I used to blame pregnancy, then hormones post-pregnancy, then going back to work and having bad nights of sleep, then I just blamed life – it was hard and just not worth it. So I went to the doctors as I thought it could be the post-natal depression again.

The doc looked at me and said: “hmmmmmmmmm, maybe. Not impossible. But your daughter is 18 months, so it’s not like it’s post-natal anymore”. She didn’t say that but this is what was implied.

Thankfully she is not the type of GP that will say “here, have a Paracetamol, send your kids to the grandparents, your husband to a business trip to Antarctica and go to
sleep”. It’s a good plan, don’t get me wrong, but hard to implement. Instead, the plan was: have a blood test, call the health visitor to get help with the girls’ sleep and then go back there to see whether there was a need to go back to medication, counselling, trip to Antarctica or Paracetamol.

Blood test done. Health visitor unreachable. GP appointment due. Blood test results: I’m vitamin D deficient. Not insufficient. Deficient. All the I had for the first 8 months of the year apparently wasn’t enough. All
the milk and cheese and occasional tuna and salmon are not enough.

GP (and leaflet) informed me that vitamin D deficiency can cause tiredness, muscle and bone pain and these combined can cause trouble with sleep and mood swings. She gave me the example of her own sun, who was feeling miserable and thinking that life was a struggle. Lots of vitamin D pills later, he is back to his normal self.

The best solution to this problem is to move to a sunny country. All year round. The easiest solution is to take 5 x 800IU of vitamin D for 10 weeks, check my blood again hoping to go to normal doses of Vitamin D (which apparently is 600IU – I’m having 4000IU) for the rest of my life, or until I retire in a nice sunny country.

Apparently NHS only started offering Vitamin D tests widely 5 years ago. So it was a new thing when I was first diagnosed with depression, which made me wonder if there wasn’t a problem with my Vitamin D levels back then. Back 9 years ago when I moved in to this country and felt miserable since.

Anyway, no point in wondering… no point in even blaming lack on vitamin D for all my problems. The purpose of the post is to start a campaign: let’s move to Australia, husband! I get they overdose on vitamin D there. haha

No, seriously, this post is for you, dear person who reads this blog, friend or anonymous, and feels miserable for no reason and have no clue where to start. Talk to the GP, ask for a blood test, especially if you live in countries where there’s little day light in autumn/winter. Apparently just 15 min (more if you have dark skin) of sun without sun lotion, three times a week, is enough. I thought I had enough but, hey, I was so very wrong.

Note to self: plan holidays one a month to very sunny places. Apparently is good for your health.

We can’t stop time

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I’m a tiny bit shocked that it is getting to end of October.

I’m thinking about Christmas (because it’s too late to think about Halloween). Just thinking because probably we won’t do much about it apart from putting the Christmas tree up. (Can i say that I was thinking about putting it up now to justify the hard work it is? The longer it is up the more worth it it seems).

Beatrice is nearly 18 months old. Laura has been in school nearly two months. I’m no where near getting used to the “new” life (working full time-mother of two-big kid at school-small kid somewhere else).

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2014 has been a funny year. I can’t say it was good, because my father passed away in February and it has been harder than I thought. My mom’s sister had an emergency operation around the same time and still hasn’t recovered (actually had an accident last week) and another aunt – my dad’s sister – passed away unexpectedly (for me, at least). I do know, though, that despite these news weren’t welcome, this is life and the older we are, the closer to heaven we are.

I can’t 2014 has been a bad year either. I spent half of it on maternity leave, watching my baby Bea grow healthy and cute, watching the love of two sister develop, watching my big girl become a funny and intelligent child. We are healthy and we have a decent life. We might not be over the moon with our jobs but it might be because we rather be retired and traveling around the world to spending 10 hours a day working, even if we enjoy the work. And we have jobs, which is great. We visited friends, went to friends’ wedding, had family over, visited our home countries and had a nice summer holiday. And one of the highlights of the year: the British weather. Aaaah, what a beautiful spring, what a lovely summer and what a good autumn (at least for now) we’ve had. Thank you, Mother Nature (although it is because she is suffering, not because she is being nice, that the weather is like this).

So 2014 was a funny year. I want to say it was half full. It could be better, but it can always be better, right? Maybe 2015. Maybe we will be in the mood to make it better.

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I’m already working on my New Year’s resolution. I love lists and I love resolutions. I still have a few things to do in 2014 and I want to start some of my resolutions in 2014, but I like to plan the future (without putting too much energy into it – I rather use my energy doing something).

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We had visitors today and we cooked lunch at eight hands. We had nice grilled fish and prawns. It was the first time I bought fresh fish and the first time I bought fresh prawns with shell. It was a weird experience – in some aspects, I am one of those people that think that tuna comes in a tin. It was quite funny to see Laura’s reaction to the prawn:
– I don’t want this fish.
– This is a prawn, Laura.
– It has eyes!!
– Of course it does.
– Why?
– Because animals have eyes.
– But prawn is not an animal!!
– Yes, it is.
– Rice doesn’t have eyes…
– Rice is not an animal.
– Oh.

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People at work are pretty crap when it comes to recycling. The put banana skin in the paper recycling, bottles in the food bin… and to complicate things, whoever deals with the recycling decided to add more layers to something already confusing.

This week we found a new recycling bin in the bathroom. We were all discussing why the heck they would put a recycling bin in the bathroom if we don’t use paper towels to dry our hands. Really, what are they expecting to recycle?! Toilet paper? People were actually putting tissues in the bin. And then someone decided to have a closer look and read what was written on the bin: it is a recycling bin for bras. Excuse me?! Who the heck recycle their bras in the office?! It became a joke on our floor.

We later found out it is something for charity – but the explanation is only available in the bathrooms on the ground floor. Clever.

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After a good couple of months eating like there’s no tomorrow, I’m trying to eat better. Reducing sugar consumption, increasing greens and fruits, drinking more water, this sort of things. I’m not extremist, I don’t cut things completely, I don’t replace all unhealthy stuff with organic ones, but I’m trying to balance things a bit, because there’s just so much my body can take.

For a long time, I saw friends and online recipes talking about ganache and all cakes had this on top, and ganache this, ganache that. I didn’t like the name, so I didn’t want to try it. Until the day I made dark chocolate ganache for the first time. Hot cream + melted chocolate. Can I say? I hated it. No, really, I thought it was awful – sickening. I tried three times, following recipes. Pour it on the cake still warm. Not for me. Luckily all the three times I made too much, so placed the rest in the fridge. And now we are talking. And now I can say I like it. I like it dark, milk or white chocolate (not so much this one). I even like 1/2 chocolate 1/2 carob. But it has to be cold, after several hours in the fridge. Everyone in this house love it. It’s our desert when we don’t have a proper desert to eat. One day, I will try to use it (cold, lots) as cake filling. Until then, a teaspoon from time to time to sweeten life.

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Spring has sprung!

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That the weather in the UK is bipolar, we all know. After a couple of weeks of nice hot days, since the weekend it’s been a bit blah, quite cold for my liking, and a bit wet. But there is a positive side about this shitty weather of ours: this country is so green, but so green that you have to be thankful for all the rain and mild temperatures. Better this than burned grass and dried leaves everywhere.

Since last summer, we’ve been trying to make our garden a nice place to look at and, weather permitting, stay in. It all started by replacing the lawn with artificial grass – the best thing we’ve done in this house. Back then, we added a few plants to the new border and more recently, we added a bunch more all around. It is still work in progress and it won’t be just as we like until the next year or so, but that’s the beauty of a garden, isn’t it? Watch it grow and transform…

For those unsure whether having kids or not, I suggest trying gardening. Looking after plants is the perfect metaphore for raising children. You have to look after them, wet them, remove the weed, feed them, protect them from heat and cold and bugs. It has to be a daily job, if you miss one day, your plant might die. But when a flower blooms, it is the joy of your life – it’s like seeing your child growing and developing. 

I confess that I have very little patience and talent to look after plants. I can water them, remove a weed here or there, but that’s it. Don’t ask me to replant flowers every year, or to deal with slugs, or to look after plants in winter, because I won’t (and neither will hubby). So we’ve chosen all year round plants and got ones that require little maintenance. One thing I am quite excited about, though, and I know I’ll have to dedicate some time to it, is growing veggies and herbs. We already have fruits at the back – well, two apple trees and a few strawberry plants. A few days ago we planted mint, thyme, sage, parsley, basil, chilli pepper, rocket, watercress, spinach and cauliflower and some of them are already growing. If all goes well, at least I will have another hobby for when I retire and I don’t need to have the third and forth kids. haha

Here are some photos of the plants a couple of days ago. I’ll update this in a few days or weeks.

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Party season

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I only celebrate birthdays when I’m on maternity leave. We had a party for Laura’s first birthday, then nothing until her 4th, which coincided with Beatrice’s first birthday and the last month of my maternity leave. So either this is the last celebration until they can organise their own parties or I’m having a 3rd child in a few years time. More likely it’s going to be the first option.

The party was last weekend. A beautiful day, very sunny and hot, with occasional clouds to cool us down. It was a bit mental, more because I am too stressed and have high expectations than actual hard work.

We hired an entertainer and I couldn’t be happier with her. Kelly, from Happy Hatters, was super duper. The kids and parents loved her. Laura told me, later in the day, that “Rapunzel was the best thing of her party. It was an amazing surprise!” She “warmed up” 15 minutes before the guests arrived, so Laura and Beatrice got to know her. When the kids arrived, Laura was already friends with the princess and the fun started straight away. Kelly called all the kids by their names and got everybody involved, even the parents. I know as a fact that all kids had fun because none of them wanted to leave.

The youngest ones didn’t get involved as much but they had toys and space to walk around and play. Maybe when Beatrice is 3 and Laura 6, they will have more fun together, but for now, she is quite tiny to follow her big sister’s steps.

Food-wise, I went with a half-healthy, half-trashy menu, but I ran out of time and due to lack of proper planning, I didn’t have any fruits and veggie sticks as I hoped. Yeeks! We did have tofu mousse though. Yes, tofu. And it was yummy. I ordered a few vegan items from my neighbour, who is starting her food business now (and will be at Brick Lane market from June!). We had chocolate, raspberry and mango mousses, mango and passion fruit cheesecake, vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, mushroom tart, chickpea curry, tofu teriyaki wraps and cream cheese and asparagus rolls, all diary/egg free.

I made hot dogs and baked the buns, baked cheese breads and two chicken pies. I had no left overs and all the adults said that the food was delicious. On the sweet side, I made brigadeiro and the birthday cake. No industrialised sweets and candies apart from them Kit Kats and Smarties of the cake.

One of the fathers told me that it was one of the best parties he has been to. We booked it for two hours but I told them they could stay as long as they wanted to.

The decoration was quite simple. When I was still in Brazil, at some point in February, I thought about having a picnic celebration, just because it’s easy and I wouldn’t need to think much about the decor (until you Google images and see how elaborated some stuff can be). Then I thought about adding some flowers , because it is spring, my favourite season. Never mind Laura’s opinion, as you can see. I learned to make fabric tulips and brought some ready made from Brazil. But it wasn’t a priority and my mum and I only looked into it the week of the party and, of course, zero time and patience to make all what I had in mind. Honestly? It wasn’t amazing and magazine-material decoration but Laura, Beatrice and her friends loved it and there’s nothing more honest and valuable than children’s opinion.

Biggest mistake ever: not taking enough pictures and actually making it a priority. Lelei had the cameras and was asking if we wanted to take pictures like this and like that and I didn’t want to interrupt the fun to take pics and I so regret it. Oh, most of the pictures are in her camera, as I forgot to charge mine and the battery drained half way through the party.

P.S.: I’ll share the recipes of the cheese bread, hot dog bun and chicken pie on another post

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Work in progress – although the table was set indoors, the whole thing happened outside

 

 

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The table, with a few bits and pieces. The majority of the food was outside, so the table was pretty bare.

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Party bags: a ‘picnic’ bag with some age-specific goodies inside; and a slice of the cake (which is how they do here)

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Detail of the flowers, including my two favourite ones

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All dishes had a similar label, but I don’t think people really read them

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Cake topper handmade by auntie/dinda Lelei – Laura and Bea Pig. hehe

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Post party clean up – now what do I do with all these? Kids’ bedroom decoration, me thinks

 

Birthday girl

Birthday girl

Photo wall. The idea was to have 12 photos of Bea and 12 of Laura, one for each month, but in the end I just put a bunch of photos I really liked

Photo wall. The idea was to have 12 photos of Bea and 12 of Laura, one for each month, but in the end I just put a bunch of photos I really liked

I {heart} Rapunzel! I want to get an entertainer for my birthday too!

I {heart} Rapunzel! I want to get an entertainer for my birthday too!

Mummy was playing too

Mummy was playing too

Rapunzel getting the kids to play whatever game

Rapunzel getting the kids to play whatever game

Lunch time: the table outdoor and the yummy food!

Lunch time: the table outdoor and the yummy food!

Beatrice between daddy and dindo (Godfather)

Beatrice between daddy and dindo (Godfather)

The cake

The cake

The table

The table

Holidays – part 1

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And we are here in Salvador, ending the first part of our holidays. Tomorrow we are driving to Praia do Forte, somethig like 70km north of Salvador.

Yes, I always have the hope we wil do loads during our holidays, spend 12 hours in the beach, walk everywhere, etc. Truth is: I love the sun and summer but I can’t stand high temperatures without air con on. The reason why I don’t complain about the British summer is because it will never get as hot as summer in Brazil. Salvador is cooler than Rio and yet temperatures here are between 30 and 40C. Yes, I’m feeling sick. And the biggest failure is having a husband that doesn’t like air con. I can’t even breath here.

Anyway, back to doing loads. We are limiting our days to ONE thing and that’s all. Pelourinho one day, just an hour. The zoo on the other, for a couple of hours. And it has proven too much for the girls. And us.

In terms of food, the idea of eating less because of the heat doesn’t work for me, especially if the room has air con. We are not having dinner, though.
With jet lag, tiredness and strict bedtime routine, by 6-7pm every one is in bed. And by 5-5:30am every one is awake.

Today we had a really awful event at our hotel, which only shows that we have to be all eyes and ears in our children. A 5 years old child drowned in the pool of the hotel. I don’t know the full details and I don’t think it matters now, but the thought of it made me want to cry. We were going to have lunch by the pool, we noticed the ambulances on our way there, then everybody looking at the pool, then the pool emptier than normal. A member of the staff told us that they didn’t have conditions to serve any food, everybody was in shock. It was shocking. It is still. It just take two seconds for a child to drown. Laura lost her balance a couple of times in the baby pool (it’s really shallow) and we had to help her to her feet. What if we were there? Or that quick? We were even saying that it looked like she was swimming, not drowing. We are never just one of us with the two of them. About the boy, we don’t know how he is – I was told that the paramedics were trying to revive him for over an hour and they managed to, before taking him to the hospital. I’m praying that he will be well.

To end the post on a positive note, some few photos (i’m not using the mobile that much, so not that many to share).

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