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caramel & cocoa

Caramel & Cocoa - cooking, parenting, fashion, diy, eating, living, a blog

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Red-Light; Green-Light: My Daughter’s First Day of School

Red-Light; Green-Light: My Daughter’s First Day of School

Where have the last four years gone?

I cannot sleep. Today is A’s first day of formal education. In the next hours she will wake up an enthusiastic 4 year-old, clueless as to how different her life will be going forward. Together we will go about getting her fed, uniform sorted, hair brushed and making sure she is ready for the day ahead.

I am incredibly thrilled for her. She will learn to read, write, explore her interests in after-school clubs, make new friends, figure out where her interests lie and learn how to tie her own school tie.  What character will she choose for World Book Day? I can’t wait for all of that.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fresh Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I'm off of sweet sweets with this pregnancy. Well only marginally. The girls wanted to bake cupcakes and cookies, but this, I thought, was a good compromise. Easy to make. Not too sweet (does not call for loads of sugar). Easy for the girls to help and they are a kid perfect size. The recipe says it makes 12 but I only managed to get 10. Still - I am making another batch tomorrow. Oh - I also left out the nuts. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Forever 31 : A Dear John Letter to Forever 21 & Abercrombie & Fitch

To My Sweet Darlings,

Let me just start by saying that it’s not you. It’s me. I’ve changed. You haven’t. I don’t blame you necessarily. I am not sure how to put this into words but I will try as best I can. I’ve tried to hold on for as long as I could. But the truth is that my needs have changed and you haven’t changed with me. Sadly, as a result, I am no longer able to comfortably visit your shops greeting the happy young attractive well-groomed but funky staff only to try on clothes that are poorly made, fall unflatteringly to accentuate my ageing curves, sagging arms, tummy strained by childbirth and just plainly remind me of a time gone by.  

I quite literally need more, and that is something that you are unable to give me. I need more support, a more carefully cut pattern and lines that compliment, not to mention a more forgiving return policy and an alterations department.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Peanut Butter Brownies

This Mother's Day in the UK, instead of buying gifts, the girls made brownies for Granny and Auntie. This was an easy recipe to do with the girls. I did all of the heating up and they did all of the pouring, mixing & adding. The best part was how excited they were to give the gifts away once completed. The time for our guests to arrive couldn't come soon enough and jackets were barely off before they were each shoving a box in someone's face. As for the brownies they are lovely with a perfect flaky crust. Just as brownies ought to be.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Crazy Hair

I finally managed to get C's hair into braids. It took me about 10 minutes per braid and they were so tight that they stood stiff in the air like antlers, none-the-less they were braids. No small feat as the hair gods haven't really blessed her with lovely long locks. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

St. Patricks Day boutonniere and necklace

St. Patrick's Day is just days away (and its snowing outside) so C and I used colored paper, a cookie cutter, pipe cleaners and sticky tape to make necklaces for the girls and boutonnieres for H and I.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Perfect Sugar Cookies (Easter Themed)

I have to say, I think that these cookies taste fantastic and the girls think they are incredibly cute. They are a perfect balance of butter and sugar appealing to both children and adults.  The dough is so easy to work with that even kids can handle it and mine did. The frosting recipe is easy and dries hard for mess free storage.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Talent of Sorts: Ear Inserter

C, my youngest, is two and a HALF. If you ask her, she will emphasize the "HALF" because she is a kid and desperately wants to be older, until she turns thirty when she will want to be younger.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Another Diet & My Hoo Rag

I’ve been running 20 miles a week for the last month and tracking my calories using MyFitnessPal on my iPhone. In five weeks I have lost 6.6 pounds (3 kilos). I’ve taken to running, even in freezing temperatures, snow and rain.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

litter clutter hi

Thanks C! I'm really looking forward to finding all of this random (insert expletive) littered around the house and then taking all of this (insert expletive) back upstairs tonight after you are in bed. I then get to do it all over again tomorrow. (INSERT EXPLETIVE)!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Motherhood is a Sad Thing Really

(C frustrated since her journey down the stairs holding her baby, an open umbrella and a hand-bag proved to be more difficult than expected.) 

“Motherhood is a sad thing really. You watch these little lives grow and fashion them to be a certain way. It is such a thrilling experience and then suddenly, one day, they are strangers and you are alone as if it all never happened. You realize that the happiness was only temporary, which makes for a very deep sadness.”  Those are not my words but they are my friend Josephine’s words. She’s 94 years old and thus the most experienced person that I know.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Slow Roast Leg of Lamb in Baking Paper

I love slow-roasting things because with little work you get a delicious meal. This leg of lamb turns out soft
but not as soft as a lamb shoulder made in a similar way. Shoulder is much fattier and breaks down easier in the oven. Both are gorgeous meals but the leg is leaner. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

A bit of a flip out but well done girls

I'm not sure how I am going to get away without sounding like a pushy parent (ah well). The way I raise my children is a direct result of my own failures and shortcomings as a child and young adult and so I am fully aware that I probably need therapy and that they will too someday.

little cupcakes (cheating)

One of the things I can actually (quite literally make) with my hands tied behind my back are cupcakes. So whenever there's a cake sale or a play date, I make cupcakes. Since Christmas is over and the kids ate lots of junk I've started making the treats just a bit smaller. I don't know why I bother because they just eat more quantities when I'm not looking but psychologically it makes me feel better. Link to the same ole cupcake recipe here. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Another Baby Debate?

Listen - 

It's not about "going for the boy." Two girls within 14 months of each other has been easy and economic.They can do virtually everything together, have similar interests and keep each other company for hours on end - thus freeing me up to do other things (like bake, blog and use the toilet alone - not all at once though). Sorry that last point was totally inappropriate and unnecessary. 

At first, having a newborn and a 14 month-old was about survival. In the first 6 months my goal was to get through the day having fed and changed both children. That was it! The house, my appearance, friends, H, leaving the house (or even bathing) didn't really matter. I was not instantly a natural mother, nor experienced in what babies want or need. It was a difficult time for me and I ashamedly admit that the television was ALWAYS on. I mean ALWAYS. ALWAYS. 

Life is different now. It is pleasant and incredibly civilized. The girls now at 2 & 3 know the rules and boundaries (though we do have the occasional tantrum). But the day to day stuff is enjoyable. We rarely turn on the television and we pack our days with activities, trips, visits, tea parties and I don't even mind taking them to the grocery store or to my papsmear appointment (Oh yes. I did! ). They get me. And most importantly, I get them.

H & I also manage to sleep. Sleep is important. Very important. 

And well, while it has all gotten immensely easier, I am still desperate to have a third and go back to the sleepless nights, breastfeeding, crying and chaos. I am anxious about it because, the easier it gets, the less likely I will want to transition, once again, to the "baby " stage. I fear that I'll reach a point where I throw in the towel and regret it when I am 80!

Last month, H, the more reasonable person, rationally stated the reasons why timing isn't very good and what steps we should take before considering a third, explaining how it might upset our family rhythm and frankly might not be the best decision for the family unit. Being a mature adult, I had my hands over my ears and I was shouting "nanny nanny boo boo. I can't hear you."  He's quite happy with 2 kids.

The debate continues and continues ... and I can hear the ticking of my biological clock getting louder and stronger.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Curly Hair - I'm not the flat-ironing type

Like I said in my hair donation post, the hairdresser witchcraft that makes your hair look perfect leaving the salon is nearly impossible to re-create. There's that. But there is also the fact that I have no interest and lack the energy to blow-dry and flat-iron my hair on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. I wash my hair daily, rub it in a towel and presto I am ready to go. Easy. Easy makes me happy. I like being happy. Get it?
So, I have curly hair? Who would've thought?

Baked Seabass with soy sauce (& other stuff)

For my birthday H sent me to a Vietnamese cooking lesson. As a result, "Faux" Vietnamese dishes feature  nearly weekly in this house. One of my favorites, probably because it is embarrassingly easy, is the Baked Seabass in soysauce (& other stuff).

Monday, January 7, 2013

Lazy Pound Cake Dessert

yummy + easy + lazy = perfect 

Hair Gone Short

I've done it. 17 inches of my curly-locks are making their way to the Little Princess Trust to make wigs for children who need it more.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Painting Pots on a Rainy Day

There's been rain rain and more rain around these parts so we spent the afternoon painting some old flower pots. Allow me to brag for second. A, my 3 year-old, took it upon herself to write her name on hers. That's pretty amazing. She didn't learn it from me. Cheers to a good preschool (nursery) teacher.