A mum and a wife and sometimes just me

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Celebrating traditions

On December 13th Italians celebrate the feast of Santa Lucia. I have heard of it before as my hubby usually still recieves sweets, part of the festivities for the children, from his parents, packaged in a box from Italy. This year was actually our first year to be in Italy for the feast day. Santa Lucia usually arrives on a donkey where she brings gifts to children who have been good and coal to those that have been bad. We were all obviously good this year and got lots of sweets...

Even the bean was not forgotten and he isn't even born yet...but then again mummy gets to eat it. He also got a cute little present as well. Of course hubby was particularly enamoured with it.

 It gets me thinking though being part of a family which celebrates different traditions and even the same traditions in different ways. I guess depending on which grandparent he is visiting at the time will depend on what he gets to experience. The exciting thought though is that we get to create little special tradtions all of our own.


As legend states in the city of Syracuse, on the island of Sicily, a child by the name of Lucia was born in the year 283 to a wealthy Sicilian family. As she grew older she choose to live her life like that of St. Agatha, who was a revered saint in a nearby town. With that she vowed to remain a virgin and give her possessions to the poor and needy.
Lucia, which means light, lived during the time where Christians were persecuted for their belief in God. This didn't prevent her from bringing food to the many Christians who hid in underground tunnels. To find her way she would wear a wreath with candles while carrying a tray of food. As custom would have it a suitor was chosen for her to wed, but marriage was not in her plans especially to a pagan. It was this same pagan who told authorities that Lucia was a Christian. Once they heard this they ruled that Lucia should be sent to a brothel, but this is where her will and belief in God took over. When it came time to take her she became impossible to move. Once this happened they opted to burn her at the stake, but the blazing fire did not harm her. Finally, she was struck down by the sword to the throat on December 13, 304.
Long after her death there was a great famine that spread throughout the land. In 1582 the prayers of the people of Syracuse were answered when a boat appeared in the harbor, on December 13, filled with grains. Instead of making flour from the grain they decided to boil it and eat it.
Like most saints, there is always more than one legend surrounding their life. Another legend states that she was blinded as a result of her faith, but God restored her sight. She was later persecuted for her belief in Christianity. No matter which legend you believe in, Lucia was a brave, caring and special woman whose popularity spread throughout the land. She is portrayed in many paintings holding a plate that has a pair of eyes on it. This is why she is the patron saint of the blind.

Monday 13 December 2010

I love my bump

From Brina Bird

Ok so technically I am not really into blogging about certain private aspects of my life...like my pregnancy...but today I guess I am giving in. I read a post the other day on a blog which got me thinking so much that I just had to say something. She talks quite openly about her experience of pregnancy (a lot more lyrically than I probably could) and the last thing that was said left a huge impression as she talked about women, their bodies and their insecurities. I have had my fair share of insecurities for sure but not once have I considered the changes in my body just now as one of them.........

From Brina Bird

When I realised that I was pregnant the first exciting thought was that I get to watch my belly grow (ok there were a lot of other strange and daunting first thoughts but we won't get into those). I actually did not realise how slow the process actually takes (and slowly you begin to learn that there is a lot of things about pregnancy that you don't know and then it does start overtaking your life and the only thing people want to talk about to you is how your pregnancy is going). It was actually a bit frustrating at first because I just wanted people to know...I felt and still do feel proud to show my bump off. At the minute when I put my jacket on you might not notice and I can't wait till you definitely can! The tighter the top the better as well! Lol.

From Brina Bird

As it gets bigger, it gets a bit more uncomfortable and just taking your shoes on and off becomes a huge process....but...to be honest....I love my bump!

From Brina Bird

Thursday 2 December 2010

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Reawakening my senses

So after having my hope and faith a little bit restored there is nothing like a walk in the park on a cold sunny day to reawaken the senses. That and the fact that I have not  taken the camera out in a long time. I won't say they are the most amazing pictures but I certainly felt good afterwards.

Nelson's Monument
People's Palace
Doulton Fountain

Tuesday 23 November 2010

All hope is not lost?

It's hard coming back to Glasgow after having lived and experienced the lifestyle of New Zealand. I agreed with or probably forced hubby to not make comparisons between Glasgow and New Zealand. We made the decision to come home and we could not look back. The funny thing is it's affected me probably more than it has my husband. I think the mother instinct has kicked in and raising a child in Glasgow just ain't that appealing. Especially when I am forced to pass certain areas where I would not want my child to witness certain of the goings on. I kick myself sometimes because it was me who pushed us to come back to Glasgow. I had some crazy idea that I would be closer to family and the grandparents. Especially as hubby's parents will be first time grandparents it seemed kind of important. Yet I still feel far away from home and family even though we have come back, my own family anyway. As much as I love my extended family it will never be the same. The hope of settling back into Glasgow life seems rather dim these days.

One of the things I miss most about New Zealand is the nature of the people. When people always used to talk about the reserve of the British people I never understood what they were talking about until I went away and decided to confirm it. It's just the general welcoming nature you get in New Zealand that you don't get in the UK. People generally smile and look happy and tend to acknowledge each other without the necessity of having met each other before. Here in Glasgow usually when a stranger speaks to you it's to ask for a light or for spare change. Yet over the past week on 3 separate occasions I had 3 strangers stop me to speak to me just to...well...say hello. I was actually passing by a guy in the car park and for some reason he decided to tell me that twice he has parked here now and both times someone has offered him a day ticket they no longer need. Maybe he was taken aback as I was over the little kindness that can happen in Glasgow. They weren't drunk and they weren't abusive and after they spoke to me they just went about there business.

As silly as it sounds...it seemed like a small sign that...all hope is not lost.

Thursday 11 November 2010

Make it reggae

So no surprise this video is doing the rounds with all my Jamaican friends on facebook. Maybe it's time for me to introduce the bean to Bob Marley! The things is Bob has never been a favourite in our household...surprising I know. But before you get up in arms we listen to plenty of ska, rocksteady and reggae. I have to be honest for me Jimmy Cliff will always trump Bob and when he sings 'Miss Jamaica' I secretly (or not so secretly any more) imagine that he is singing to me.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Ode to the Rolling pin

Okay so I was actually given this ceramic rolling pin as part of the hen night tradition where an older woman in the family gives a rolling pin to the bride to be to keep her future husband in control. Cheers to my big sis!!! Thankfully I have never had to use it on hubby and considering it's weight he is a lucky boy. The thing is I actually use the rolling pin weekly to make home made pizza and it works a treat. Ok and the handy pizza trays can get a little look in as well.

Here's to you rolling pin!

Monday 25 October 2010

Yummy apples

So here are the apples I got from the green grocer to bake hubby's favourite apple pie. I can never be bothered to mess about with the pastry so I always end up making a cake. I got the simple recipe from the silver spoon which as it has an absence of spices I assume rests on the tastiness of the apples. We like it spicy though so we added some. 

80g/3oz unsalted butter, softened
300g/11oz self-raising flour
3 eggs
150g/5oz caster sugar
3 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
whipped cream, to serve (optional)


Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a cake tin or mould with butter and dust lightly with flour. Whist together the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in the butter until thoroughly combined. Sift in the flour mixture,  then add the apples and mix gently. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin or mould and bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, then turn out, or serve immediately while hot. Served with whipped cream, if you like.

To my flour mixture I added a tsp of cinammon and some nutmeg. Once I added the flour to the mixture it became really thick and I thought how the hell am I going to get apples in here. As usual though I forge ahead and not just add apples but raisins as well! There was loads of mixture and it was interesting getting it all in the tin but...yep...I just forge ahead. I put a tray underneath the tin in the oven just in case there was spillage but surprisingly there was not. It turned out pretty good and tasted even better.

Whipped cream was not optional!

Sunday 24 October 2010

Yam Soup

I have been turning everything into soup these days (other than the odd freaky salad for lunch) as it's autumn. I want to cook things that will warm us up. It's especially a welcome home for hubby after a long day at work who has to then take the train back usually in the cold and wet these days. We got excited when we saw Yam at our local green grocer and just had to buy a piece. I have to be honest that it is something I have eaten from when I was young but have never attempted to cook it myself so was on the hunt immediately for a recipe. I was pleased to find a rather simple soup on line for which I pretty much had all the ingredients! You will find the source here

Ok so I did have some variances. Firstly we were all out of wild rice...or admittedly I never buy wild rice. Then I tend to prefer creamy to chunky soup. Hubby thinks I just like to hear the sound of the blender. I also started by softening onions with fresh garlic before adding the yam and stock. Then of course hubby likes it spicy so I added a touch of cayenne pepper as well as the curry powder to give it a kick. After it simmered for it's appointed time into the blender it went. OMG!!! How was I to know that it would turn out so thick. I guess that is what yam does and had I known I would definitely have added more stock than had been advised!  I ended up adding some milk in the vain attempt to thin it out a bit (the vain effect is evidenced in the picture below).

Anyway it still tasted rather nice and what a filling experience it was. I use the word filling literally here as a bowl of this soup certainly leaves you feeling extra stuffed. An experience definitely to be repeated.

A small piece of yam was reserved and is now being roasted with my chicken in the oven as we speak!

Saturday 23 October 2010

Oh yes a greengrocer in the Merchant City

Finally a nice surprise for us on our return to Glasgow...to discover that there is a greengrocer not far from us in the Merchant City. I would love to introduce you to Black Cherry...

I'm really not going to even bother get into what the fruit and vegetables are like at the local supermarket and the difference of being able to get them fresh. These guys head to the market every morning to get fresh produce and bring it close to my door...nice! So far we have sampled the tomatoes which are huge and juicy., the avocado and the cucumber. Hubby is over the moon of course as he has never been a fan of supermarket tomatoes and has always been half hearted in his desire therefore to eat them. Unfortunately I guess it is technically not the time of year to be creating fresh salads but hey who cares? With a drizzle of a mix of lemon juice and sweet chilli sauce I really am talking about heaven here. Of course hubby said it was missing prawns and little octupus' (and yes we have got a fishmonger just for that) but we managed to settled for a big block of cheese.

Oh and the beast beside the salad...well that is the fresh bread they have available as well.

It comes from Tapa Coffe & Bakehouse which has always been a bit far away being in Dennistoun but we knew they had always had rave reviews so we were very excited to try it out. One the best things of Italy is being able to walk down the road and get your bread fresh every morning. What do you know? Now we can do it right here in Glasgow. The guys even advised that you can request them to put aside bread for you to collect if you want as it tends to go fast and if they don't stock what you like you can always request it. So of course I might just have to take them up on that and do a bit of research on the Tapa website.

There is more to this place as well. The next post will be about the yam I got and turned into soup. Then there are the apples waiting to be turned into what I hope will be a yummy cake. Of course they also have a selection of spices and condiments and organic bits and pieces. All making it well worth a visit.

Next week I head to the local butcher in my quest for fresh!

Wednesday 20 October 2010

But I love books of the physical kind...

Ok I am not going to get into any great debate about the positive or the negative of this. I just know that my dream has always been to have a house with my own personal library. I love my collection of books and watching it grow. I discovered libraries and the simple pleasure of browsing through the different selections. For it all to disappear out of my grasp is unthinkable. My husband has asked if I fancy an Amazon kindle and I have always said no with no consideration of it's benefits. I guess it must have some...I know that when we travel these days we are so limited in what we can carry due to weight restrictions and my books don't usually have priority that just maybe it may come in handy. The idea that they are able to get books to the developing World that needs them more easily in this format is great.

But...to lose the physical book...it's like a betrayal of something I love.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

The World according to Garp, John Irving

"This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields - a feminist leader ahead of her times. It is also the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes - even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with ‘lunacy and sorrow’; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. It provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: "In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases."
So my dad has read pretty much I believe all the books by John Irving. He raves about 'Cider House Rules' so that is definitely on the wish list but the one he give me to read as he finished reading it during his holidays visiting me is the one he struggled with, 'The World according to Garp'. He could only really read small chunks at a time but then had to put it down so it took him a lot longer to read than he would usually take. It was just kind of a strange novel. Not really raving reviews to convince me to read it but I never say no to a challenge when it comes to make my up my own mind about a book. 

Well I would not say I exactly raced through the book either. It's not that it's boring or hard to read it just drained my senses. Let's just say that Garp's world maybe is not overly entertaining but rather sad and tragic events which pushes you to find out what is finally going to happen in the end. Garp as a writer has rather odd and interesting views of the world which thankfully sometimes adds humour to the novel.You also get to meet some really interesting characters throughout adding a bit of extra flavour to the novel.

I won't say I loved it but I will say it has left a lasting impression. I think as a contemporary american novel it is studied in schools I would be interested to be a part of that lesson.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Life's Journey or my life journey anyway

After all that has happened over the last year it's a bit hard not to think about my life journey. When your a child someone is bound to ask you what do you want to be when you grow up? From you begin your life's journey there are always expectations on what you are going to do with yourself. Remembering my mum getting dressed in her uniform heading off in her car to her office to work, I thought for a long while what I was going to do would be something like that. A smooth journey through education, find a job, bag a man and get married, buy a house and a car and have some children. I can only just laugh at such a thought now.I have been backwards and forwards, sometimes it seems like it's been all over the place but somehow I got somewhere in the end.

Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. Robert J. Hastings

School wise I never really shined to say the least and my parents seriously questioned whether I would be going to university. But seeing as I never knew there was any other option I actually managed to get in somewhere. Growing up I loved writing and thought maybe I could be journalist. Ha! A levels kind of shattered that dream when I realised I was maybe not that good at writing. Those silly stories I wrote when I was young were obviously just that...silly! Considering I had no idea what I wanted to do or even really thought seriously about options available to me I tried for law and got accepted to do Politics and International Relations. It was the beginning of my first time away from home and I guess I never looked back cause I have stayed in the UK ever since. 

Work wise after finishing my degree I did not have a clue still! I think the pressure on young people to figure out what they want to do with their lives from early is ridiculous and a bit unfair especially when I consider all the changes I have made. I worked at a summer camp when I was younger and enjoyed it so not sure why had a sudden thought I might enjoy working with kids. It seemed in contrast to having an office job which I think I did not want at that time. So I ended up doing a master entitled Social Anthropology of Children and Child Development...what the hell was I supposed to do with that when I finished. I ended up getting a job working with children with disabilities and well for years that is what I have always done. Then suddenly I decided to see what it was like to be other side I like to call it as a social worker. So I went back to University to do yet again another degree! Speak to anyone who has done a social work degree and that is a whole journey itself!

It was not until I met hubby that I discovered my love of travelling and being able to share it with someone you love is incredible. I certainly hope this part of my life journey is continuous because there is so much more for us to see and do that it probably takes more than a lifetime.   

It was not till we moved to Glasgow and I was unemployed for 3 whole months that I was able to learn my love of food, cooking and baking. When the collection of cook books suddenly started. This life journey is something hubby greatly appreciates and still tries to take advantage of :)

To think that this time last year we were heading off to New Zealand to spend 10 months of hubby's sabbatical in Auckland seems slightly surreal. "Settled" back in Glasgow it seems like a long time ago. It's what got me thinking of this post in the first place. As you know from my post Reminiscing New Zealand it was an experience to remember. We are still sticking by the rules to make no comparisons but I do so miss it.

Now though I am on a new journey starting our own little family and well it has lots of surprises and experiences to remember on offer..........so here we go....
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