27 April 2013

Cloudy with a Chance of Bolognese



This week I baked a lasagne for our neighbours to welcome them home following a recent family medical scare. And being the good samaritan, I made a very large batch of sauce ensuring leftovers for my family to enjoy, too. 

A bolognese sauce can be served with the standard classic pastas, but also with other Italian favourites like layering up a lasagne or as a topping for a pizza. Keep some in the refrigerator to have on the ready for quick meals for the family, and freeze a batch for another day. 
tip: Do not refreeze once thawed. If refrigerated, use within one week. 
In the below recipe I used three meats- lamb, pork and beef. The same recipe works if you wish to stick to beef only. Aside from a rich layered flavour, combining the traditional beef with pork and lamb results in a more moist sauce. 

22 April 2013

Routing Roots


Next month the postman delivers the renewal agreement for our cottage... for the 7th time.
bang head against the front door.
But this week, he returned my passport with a UK permanent residence card enclosed.
bang head against the front door (again), and pour a glass of wine.


The questions swim in my head and I feel my heart beating faster. Should we stay or should we go? Is there greener grass or just different grass? Is England home or a temporary homebase?

14 April 2013

'Wee' little tips


When asked by a friend for some insider tips on potty training, it took a few days to recall how, just three months earlier, we celebrated the last diaper change in our homeI never bought a how to potty train book or consulted friends with older kids. Instead, as I do for about everything, I phoned my mother. 
"Candy, praise, and patience," she suggested. 

With those three words, Ouisie and I started talking potty. The transition from Pampers to underpants was a welcomed natural progression. Looking back on our successful flushes, I shared these seven tips with my friend. 

10 April 2013

Moo, baa, peep peep peep



With the UK just wrapping up the second coldest March on record, Spring's promised return is long overdue.  At chez Pannier, we are doing our part to rally on the new season. Recently, we attended both River Cottage's Spring Fair and Hyden Farm's Lambing Open Day. Though average temperatures stayed below normal, the atmosphere at both was warm and festive.

Here's what we got up to and some of our favourite pics.

07 April 2013

A tribute to attributes


Why fit in when you were born to stand out?
- Dr Seuss
Our daughter is a chatter box.

She wakes talking. She goes to sleep talking. She talks in her sleep.

As the only child, she has our undivided attention which, no doubt, influences her ever expanding vocabulary. Her rolling dialogue keeps us in stitches and, of late, on our toes.



Ouisie now colors conversations with descriptive adjectives. The choice word is not always the problem, but rather the pointed index finger and amplified tone in which it is broadcast.
LOOK AT THAT OLD LADY SWIMMING. - at the local leisure centre
I am now like a mother owl, scanning 360 degrees in anticipation of the next prey to signal a hoot from my owlet.
THAT LADY HAS A BLACK SCARF OVER HER FACE. - at Hyde Park, London
These exclamations come as no surprise as I catch myself describing everything we spot by its unique shape, size, and color. She is now a big girl and not a little baby. Many of her favourite books teach opposites, and the tiny and hungry caterpillar is BIG and FAT by the time time he spins his cocoon.

With winter temperatures (still) billowing through England this week, I took Ouisie to an indoor soft play to burn off some fuel. A two-year old girl with ringlet curls enjoyed climbing around with Ouisie. I soon struck up a conversation with the mother about her daughter's bouncy curls.

As a kindred curly lock, I am a straight shooter when it comes to talking about taming a wild mane. The mother confessed she did not know what to do and just let it go naturally wild. She then confided that recently her toddler said her hair looked messy, and wanted it to look nice (straight) like her mom's hair. I nodded and smiled.

01 April 2013

Me Talk Jesus One Day

A while ago, I sat in a coffee shop trying to clear my head and write, but found more interesting subject matter eavesdropping on table conversations over lattes.
Gentleman: That weekend won't work. It falls over the Easter bank holiday.
Lady: I never remember, is Easter about Jesus' birth or death?
Gentleman: Death. And then he came back to life. Yeah, that sounds about right. 

I thought again about the couple's conversation while decorating our home for Easter. While I had no qualms telling  our daughter the Christmas story of baby Jesus; I have shied away from the Easter story as, frankly, it is too complicated for little brains. You can sing "Happy birthday, Jesus" with a two-year old, but "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" gets to be a bit of a tongue twister.

To be honest, I dodge the subject of death entirely. I do not even like to call a dead bug dead. It is squashed. And since I cannot explain death, I have not even attempted chatting resurrection over a bowl of Cherrios.

Last week, Ouisie was read "The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly" at her playgroup. She became fixated on the old woman swallowing the spider that wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her.
"Spider outdoor, mommy! YUCK!" 

She thought nothing of the old lady's fatal ending...
There was an old lady who swallowed a horse...She's dead, of course!
...so I let that small detail slide. Instead, I agreed spiders were YUCK and meant to stay outdoors!

As a child, I attended Sunday school, and always had a perfectly pressed dress for Sunday service. I knew my Bible verses and church songs by heart. Looking back, I do not recall ever feeling scared by the lessons on the crucifixion story. Perhaps my classes did not focus on His death, but on the joy of His resurrection three days later.
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