Category Archives: weekend

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

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January: the bad and the ugly

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The previous post was about the positives of January (“the good”), but I would be lying if I said that it was all pink flowers in January and it was an easy month. January in the northern hemisphere is never easy – unless you live in Florida.

Anyhoo, lots of really bad nights with my little angels, which made me really moody. The vitamin D doesn’t seem to be as effective as before and I still have bone/muscle pain all over.

I’ve been eating like a pig and all sorts of bad stuff: Nutella, chocolate, cheese, bread, pasta… I know that, in moderation, these are not bad, but these are all I have been eating. Needless to say that I’m putting on weight… again.

I also get very affected by others’ bad news. Some people close to me went through some tough moments in January and I can feel the heartburns from my worries for others’ problems.

I’m still struggling to find the right balance between home and work and I’m letting one interfere with the other. I have loads of plans and ideas but very little will power to get moving. Energy levels are at the minimum here.

The biggest fail of January, though, is my bedtime. I mean, the time I go to bed. Only twice before 11pm (once was 10:55pm, the other just after 10pm), but most of the time just after midnight. I wake up at 6:15am, with the girls waking me up in the middle of the night at least once (2am, 3.30am, 4.30, 5am). I keep telling myself that I should go to bed at 9 or 10pm maximum, but I find it absurdly hard. Today, for example, the girls went to bed at 8pm. I was getting mentally prepared to sleep at 10pm, but then decided to organise the dining room (the table is finally clutter-free!!), clean the kitchen, tidy up the toys, prepare Laura’s school back, have a shower – don’t forget the cream – and finish this post. If I’m lucky, I’ll sleep before 11pm.

I know what I need to do to change things – but I’m not always happy with the solution, or I’m too lazy to start, or I’m too confused with where to go.

So, welcome, February, I have a few plans for you.

Check me out: I’m a tidy dining table.IMG_2930
This weekend I spent a couple of hours changing the girls bedroom a bit. Guess what’s the theme? Yeah, Lerigo.IMG_2912
After trying three different set ups, we settle with bed near the radiator (far from the door), cheat of drawers against the wall, leaving a little gap for the book shelf (we don’t want to nail it to the wall, so it needs to be safe from falling, as Beatrice climbs on it). I still need to remove some old stickers, but my nails and finger tips were too sore from peeling off wall stickers.IMG_2915
I’m thinking about getting a storage bench I’ve seen at Ikea, that can also act as a little stage. They love performing for us. I also ordered some snowflakes stickers for this wall (the idea was to paint the top half blue, but it won’t happen anytime
soon). Also planning to frame this poster. The bottom half was going to be to hang their own art, but I need to teach Beatrice to be less of a destroyer.IMG_2924
The best thing about the new decor is that Laura now wants to keep her bed tidy and she makes the bed!IMG_2911

21 days: a (good) habit in the making

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Apparently it takes 21 days to create a habit. Just do something for 21 days and soon it will be part of your life as you were born with it. That’s the theory.

So here I am trying to create a new habit. A good one this time, as I’m full of bad ones.

Today I had a good day, for all the wrong reasons:

1) I had an extra two hours sleep, thanks to Mr. C who stayed with the girls. I needed this nap because the two came to our bed in the middle of the night and I took them back and stayed with them; I had a crappy night of sleep so hubby could rest and have energy to take them to the soft play near us.

2) He took them to the soft play in the morning and I stayed at home. To clean the house. I know lots of women that take this opportunity to meet with friends, have a massage or the nails done, or do nothing. I clean.

3) The cleaner was meant to come – she didn’t show up this week – but she was late and I had to ask her not to come. In the end it was good because I could do things at my pace.

4) Laura spent the afternoon at her friend’s house and Beatrice had a long nap. I could finish 70% of the work in the kitchen.

It’s the second weekend that we do that – he takes them out , I stay in, cleaning. I started with our bedroom. Fine, drawers and wardrobe need some love and attention, but it’s another full day worth of work. The bedroom hasn’t been messy since; not to the public’s eyes at least. Today was the kitchen. Eight bags full of rubbish and two bags full of stuff to give to charity. It still not great and there’s still some work to be done, but at least it is in a pretty decent state that can be easily maintained (so she hopes).

This is where the 21 day project start. I will try to dedicate half an hour of my evenings to keep the kitchen tidy – wash all dishes, dry them all, dry the sink, remove the rubbish, wipe the worktop, clean the microwave and the toaster. Then 15 minutes tidying up my clothes and ensuring the bedroom remains tidy. Next weekend I’m hoping to tackle the bathroom, and again, another 10 minutes to keep it clean. This will take less than an hour; pretty doable.

Living/dining, messy room, girls’ bedroom and guest’s bedroom are beasts that I’m scared of facing. I will probably work on the playroom and see how the maintenance of the kitchen-my bedroom-bathroom combo goes before I put too much effort in the others. I am actually considering taking time off work to deal with the beasts.

I’ll have to keep my progress here – in the shape of tiny posts – so I can track the birth of a habit. Bear with me.

Staring work: check out the mess behind me. This is just a tiny part of it. I also unclogged the sink and cleaned all the cupboards (got rid of old stuff, removed everything and cleaned inside). I didn’t clean the fridge or the oven (the hob was done); I only swept the floor, no proper scrub. 2015/01/img_2714.jpg
The things people collect: a drizzling pipe (whyyyyy?), a cake pop mould (which I’m planning to use) and a silicone cake tray written happy birthday… in French (whyyyyyy?). The first and the latter were freebies. I second one I bought.2015/01/img_2731.jpg
The final three bags of rubbish.2015/01/img_2735.jpg
Not too bad. Even Laura noticed. “Mummy, what happened here?”, “What do you mean?”, “the kitchen is magically sparkling clean”. This coming from a girl that doesn’t notice the chaos of the house.2015/01/img_2742.jpg
There’s still quite a lot on the table to be sorted, but I ran out of patience and energy. I have serious issues with this kitchen – I think it could have more storage (or I should have less crap), but I’m not planning in doing any work on it this year, so I have to work with what we’ve got.2015/01/img_2741.jpg
It is now to a level of mess and chaos I can live with. The “my house is clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy” type of house. At least the kitchen is.2015/01/img_2738.jpg

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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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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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

Graduation

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My little ballerina got her first certificate a couple of weeks ago, as the ballet term has come to an end. It was so cute to see those little girls all so proud of their achievement. All the parents were too (sometimes I think the some mothers enjoy it more then the children).

We are looking forward to the new term, but we will miss the first class, as we are going to the theatre (and as with everything in this country, we bought the tickets a couple of months ago, before Laura joined the ballet).

Receiving her certificate from Miss K

Receiving her certificate from Miss K

Proud of her certificate

Proud of her certificate

*Squeeze* *Kiss* *Hug* My cute ballerina

*Squeeze* *Kiss* *Hug* My cute ballerina