Back to Baking

Because of the insufferable heat the islands offer in summer, I had to pause my baking activities and took a two-month break. Using an oven in the middle of a Maltese summer is the equivalent of adding Tabasco to a chilli burger and then complaining it’s too hot and spicy. My hands were itching (quite literally!) and I was drooling over recipes I was searching for and going through in my cooking books and magazines.

Then last week, the weather cooled down a bit.

And so I baked!

And as I always do, I get over-excited. There is something about a lit oven with a baking cake inside that makes me happy. Be it the warm heat, the delicious scent coming out of the oven or the bubbly excitement when finding out how the cake actually tastes!  We had friends over for one night and family the next, so the occasions called for two cakes.  The first one was quite straightforward – it was an Almond and Apricot cake, whilst the second one – a Mojito Genoise, required that bit more work and effort, but the results were simply yummy!

(In my excitement I forgot to take any photos, but I can assure you, you won’t mind the appearance of the cakes because you’ll be too busy devouring them!!)

I’ll give you the online link of the Mojito Genoise cake only because the other cake is easy to find. One minor tweek I’d recommend is decreasing the amount of sugar used in the Mojito syrup because it comes a bit too sweet when using the recommended amount. The rest is as good as it’ll ever get 😉

The Mojito Genoise cake

I did not cover the whole cake with buttercream only because I did not have the time to do so. This cake may require some extra effort, but it'll definitely be appreciated by your guests!!

I did not cover the whole cake with buttercream only because I did not have the time to do so and I did not want to over-sweeten the cake. This cake may require some extra effort, but it’ll definitely be appreciated by your guests!!

Pee-roblems

Bar the cast, summer is treating us well. The weather is as expected, and lately things have been looking up! The Husband’s in full swing at his new work-place and we’ve settled into something of a routine. C has an appointment next week and I’m really hoping the cast will come of. Apart from the inconvenience it’s caused to us all, it is now a wild assemble of colours and dirt so stubborn no wipe can remove it.

I had planned on starting potty-training with C in August, but due to her accident I’ve decided to postpone it. Not that it can’t be done of course, but I’m procrastinating you see. I have no idea where to start and how to start the process. For two days I’ve taken up my mum’s suggestion and let her run naked. The first time she still had not peed after an hour and the second time she peed on the living room floor. It might have been a small trickle of baby pee, but after a wipe and a wash The Husband was still convinced he could smell the strong scent of pee, and washed the floor again himself. After that, of course, the unmistakable stench of a 2-year old’s pee suddenly disappeared…

We are now back in nappies and we are both relaxed and happy with that. I do not see the rush of removing her nappy for the time being. She does not start attending school until next year. I still think she is not yet ready and bar October 2014 there is no close deadline I have to reach. That is my procrastination talking again but it does make perfect sense to me. Of course my mother disagrees with me on this one and has made it her mission to convince me otherwise and remove the nappy. But talking to a cousin of mine eased my mind and convinced me that potty-training when the toddler understands what’s happening is easier on both parents and child, and makes the process a shorter one. It worked on her two children when they were nearly 3, so dear cousin, you are my guide.

I have just ordered a potty-training book for myself and one for C. I like reading these sort of self-help books. I had got one while pregnant which became my companion for the whole of the pregnancy and another one when C came along which I have now dismissed because she is now old enough to understand better. I do not follow them word for word but they give me an idea of what might need to be done and how I can help the process. And of course it reassures my mind that I am not alone in this.

Come next month I will try again.  If the gods of procrastination don’t get to me first.

Dear readers, how did you (or how are you) going around the potty-training process? Do you use potties or toilet-seats? How old were your children when they gave up on the nappy? Any tips or words of advice? 

 

In the meantime, happy long weekend to everyone celebrating the feast of Santa Maria! We will be away on the sister island till the end of the week, so I will see and talk to you again then! Have a great one x

Bye-bye baby and hello panties?!

Bye-bye baby and hello panties?!

Heads in the Sand

Next week we’re starting C at a play-school here on The Rock. She is now 22 months old and is still very indifferent to other children. She looks at them wearily and does not stay in other children’s company for more than a couple of minutes, preferring to move on and play on her own. We have no other young toddlers in our family and until she starts school next year, she will probably not get any further interaction from children her own age.

She has been registered already and I took her to the said play-school this week, just to see her reaction. There were a total of eight boys there, and she was the only female. She stood holding my hand for the first couple of minutes, studying her surroundings and looking at the other children with a curious eye. Then she saw the swing and the deed was done. She loves swings, and we cannot pass by a playing-field without having her pull us towards it, telling us ‘swings, see-saw – go!’ So she sat on the swing gently swinging herself, when two young boys came forward and started pushing her to and fro, all the while C was sitting down basking in the attention. We stayed for a couple of minutes, and of course as expected, we left with tears and cries. Only a promise to the nearby playing-field did the trick of silencing her.

As we had anticipated, our news was meant with some silent and other not-so-silent signs of dissent. Our decision to start her at play-school was only taken after realizing how cut off from other children C is. The fact that I’m not currently working seems to baffle some when I tell them about it, because the way of reasoning here seems to be if the mother is not working, then the child should stay with her, and the mother should have no business of ‘dispensing’ of her motherly duties to take care of her child. My conscience is at ease and my mind is at rest that C will not feel traumatized that her parents sent her to a new place to meet and play with other children for a couple of hours a week, and any time she gets to spend there will only help her develop into a friendlier toddler. It’s not as if this play-school is tough work for toddlers – their itinerary is a child’s idea of heaven – outdoor playing, crafts, DVD-time, costume-dressing, nap-time, new toys to discover and play with…I’m sure C will not be angry at us for this decision.

 

So we’re digging our heads into the sand and going with our gut feeling. It has always worked for us before. Be it a week or be it a month, play-school can only do C  good.

The only thing that is worrying me is how I will react when I drop her off and head off home, with a couple of hours without my baby and free time suddenly on my hands!

She's adapting very well, her vocabulary has suddenly taken off at a super-sonic rate and she's becoming messier and messier when it comes to dinner-time :)

She’s adapting very well to the move, her vocabulary has suddenly taken off at a super-sonic rate and she’s becoming messier and messier when it comes to dinner-time 🙂

 

Remembering It All

We have just started our last full seven-day week here in England. Chaos is ruling and it sometimes feels as if every single thing which can go wrong, is. Some decisions still need to be taken and last minute alterations are occurring. I feel as if I am drowning at times, my days are full of list-making and jotting down notes in my diary. Circumstances are not helping. Potential house-buyers have now started to mix up appointment dates and times it seems. The awful grey English weather is now hitting me hard and my headache never seems to cease. Cesca seems to have a bit of a cold and is coughing and waking up freezing cold at night. Small things. But added up, they seem to do grave damage to the mind and spirit.

And amidst all this craziness going on, I’m finding moments of stillness. I now find myself seated on the sofa. There is absolute quiet because C is sleeping. She is due to wake up any minute now and the moment that happens, my zen calm will be shattered. But until then I am sipping a glass of water and thinking. Thinking of what’s been and what will be. Thinking that I will most probably never have these moments ever again. Moments of the three of us, all alone, living our life and setting our own pace. Days at end when C is my only company, when she gets to be my listening-board, my audience and my confidante. She does not complain or protest for having to put up with me every single day. A and myself are her only constants, and I truly cherish that. I may be selfish, but whenever we do have company, I get a very satisfactory feeling deep down inside whenever I see her looking out for us, catching our eyes and see her light up with joy and love. My heart seems to tighten up and I very nearly burst out with all my love.

How lucky this little munchkin is. She has two parents who would walk to the end of the earth for her. She has everyone wrapped around her little finger and she is the protagonist wherever we go. I get to see her grow up and become a little girl. She is a baby no more. Her language is expanding at an alarming rate, and we are being constantly copied, both in words and gestures. She names all the animals she sees, counts to number ten by herself (except for number five which she sometimes skips) and is now learning her colours. She has her little habits – she will grab her ‘buddy’ (dummy) and Baba and start playing with her ear whenever it’s time to sleep. It is just like an invisible and automatic switch going on. When she wakes up from her nap, she needs to spend a couple of minutes in the quiet before properly waking up. She insists on sucking her dummy upside down. Whenever we’re out for a walk, she insists on walking the opposition direction to where we are headed – and she will scream ‘walk walk’ whenever we carry her up (those reins mentioned a couple of weeks ago – nah, they just make her worse!) She giggles and says ‘pfff’ whenever we change her nappy…and then proceeds to kick like crazy when we try and put a clean change on. Her favourite toys at the moment are her coloured pencils and her toothbrush. Yes toothbrush – definitely a dentist’s daughter!

The ear-flicking moment just before she's down for her nap <3

The ear-flicking moment just before she’s down for her nap ❤

I know her every move and can understand every look she gives me. I comprehend every word she says and every gesture she makes. Her giggles and laughs melt my heart and her cries break it. I’m at her constant beck and call, and my days are no longer my own. Whatever we do and wherever we go, she is the one we think of first and her needs are attended to immediately. Saturday and Sunday mornings have an early start and our TV/mobile phones/iPad are not our own anymore. She paints on the floor and walls, spits food one minute and eats it the next, she drives me up the wall when she’s in a stroppy mood and insists on drinking from an adult cup only to then pour it all over herself.

She now just 'daws' all the time. Everywhere.

She now just ‘daws’ all the time. Everywhere.

And I will miss these intimate moments with her. It will never be just us three anymore. I will love having family around, I can never thank them enough for their help and support, and I know that not being together all the time will help both me and C. But I know certain times will come when I’d give anything for a brief time-out and be somehow transported back to this life where it’s just us three. To be in this house, on this sofa, sipping some water and being my daughter’s everything, and she mine.

Love, Food, Wine and Love

Just in case it escaped anyone, yesterday was Valentine’s Day. As I’ve written before, I don’t particularly buy into this man-made holiday and I think it’s just an excuse for shops to get a big boost after January’s lull business sales.

But then the cynic in me wakes up on February the 14th and thinks, “Hmm, I should do something special this year”, and I start thinking about the evening’s menu. Our initial craze to buy eachother Valentine’s Day gifts has phased out with the passing of years, and I am now happy with a bouquet of flowers and A gets a card I know he always expects. And over a bottle of white we enjoyed our dinner, though not in the romantic and peaceful environment you’d expect but with C keeping us loud company. When the clock struck 8pm and C went to bed, we could finally move onto the sofa, finish our wine glasses and relish the quiet. And snooze off soon after.

The menu was set up after a cooking-book shopping spree last Wednesday. Three cook-books later this was the set menu:

– Beef Teriyaki Soup

– Quiche Lorraine with Parma Ham, Mushrooms and Leeks

– Blueberry and Walnut Muffins

– Baby Figs, Cream Cheese, Walnuts and Mint Tart

My back was killing me by evening, the dishwasher was put into extra use throughout the day, the kitchen was a disaster, but everything turned out great and tasty! Here are some pictures 😉

 

Yummy blueberries and baby figs!

Yummy blueberries and baby figs!

Quiche in the making...

Quiche in the making…

 

Ta-dah!

Ta-dah!

The muffins, two of which were 'destroyed' by C who found them, removed the blueberries and poked her fingers in the remaining holes...

The muffins, two of which were ‘destroyed’ by C who found them, removed the blueberries and poked her fingers in the remaining holes…

The tart looked amazing and tasted as good!

The tart looked amazing and tasted as good!

Finally x

Finally x

 

Oh, and I can’t forget little Miss C popping silly faces all day long!

 

photo-244

How was your day? Did you do anything special or was it just a normal day like all the others? I don’t believe we need a specific day dedicated to love. Love should be an ever-permanent thing, but if you use it as an excuse to go that bit further than usual, then so be it. Lots of love vibes coming your way dear friends x

 

 

 

 

 

Days Are Made of This…

Laughter:

Listening in to your neighbour calling out for his cat for two solid hours yesterday evening, in strong winds and light showers. You’re cozying it up inside and he’s getting wet outside looking for a feline who’s probably just in heat. It is January after all.

Frustration:

Trying to feed your daughter that very first spoonful of food. For five whole minutes she will turn her head away, push the cutlery away with her hands, spin around or run away from you, spit out food, scream the place down. And then after the first swallow she opens her mouth voluntarily and eats, and enjoys it, and goes ‘mmmmm’. Just like that.

Pride:

Hearing your daughter say new words. “Cacker” (cracker), “goat”, “big” (pig) and “babbit”  (rabbit) are her latest. Her vocabulary is growing everyday and more exciting than that, is her learning to associate words with things and pictures.

Embarrassment:

Having your daughter pronounce “duck” and “clock” as “cuck” in public. I can’t even bring myself to spell it correctly. Absoultely cringe-worthy.

Fear:

Fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear about not making the right decisions, fear about letting someone down, fear Cesca’s not eating enough, fear she’s eating too much. I could go on forever really.

Excitement:

Fear brings excitement. Change brings excitement. Watching my best friend’s belly grow and knowing that soon years of longing will result in one lucky baby. Finding a new baking recipe I can’t wait to try out. Unknowingly getting an extra 20% off sale items when you come to pay for a bag you’ve been coveting after for the past months.

Temptation:

 

Staying inside due to windy and cold weather, spend hours on the internet as a result and fill up every virtual shopping bag known to man. Then finding really good online voucher codes AND free shipping and trying, so so SO hard, not to press the “Buy Now” button.

Trepidation:

Knowing that our next visit to The Rock will be at Carnival weekend. Mile-long queues to catch the ferry, the Loud Crowd infesting Victoria, parking hassles, trying to have a quiet coffee at Arkadia and supermarket nightmares. Just to mention a few of my worries.

Anger:

Not understanding the whining monster Cesca becomes at times. She will whine and cry, moan and hold her head in her hands. She holds on to my legs, pulls my hair, scratches her face with her long talons she refuses to let me cut, and I don’t know why. I don’t understand why she does that, it just bothers me, makes me angry and then sad that I got angry.

Happiness:

Knowing that at the end of the day, whatever may have happened, you have someone who always has your back. Even if you drive them bonkers in the meantime, have them climb up the walls and shake their head in disbelief. Eleven years with me can do that to the best of men. So every day we finish with a cup of tea on the sofa watching something off The Food Network and complaining how hungry we are (again), I’m thankful for.

Thankfulness:

We have health, we have a warm home, we have a super-hyper and lovely little girl, we have a loving family, good friends and we should not ask for more.

But we do of course. That’s just the way we’re made. So for one I’m trying. I’m making it a point to live life with a smile and a positive outlook.  It makes for better living!

october6

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Days Gone…

Living with an 18-month old in a country with no family around sort of compromises your weekend options. Add to that the freezing weather that we have here in England at the moment, and you wouldn’t want to go out of the house unless really REALLY necessary. And when it snows heavily you’d have to be a bit crazy to want to venture outside on a cold January night (except if you’re me of course).

Therefore our options are very limited. Although we try and enjoy the weekend as a whole family, cold weather puts a damper on things. We can’t go out with the pushchair in snowy weather because it’s so difficult pushing it and remain standing when threading on ice. Wherever we manage to go, Cesca will have to remain straddled in her pushchair and she hates that, especially since she discovered the independence and excitement her two long legs give her. Even car drives are a scary outing. And if daytime outings wherein we all try and do something different for our sakes and more so for Cesca’s, night time outings for us is even harder.

Enjoying this year's first proper snowfall.

Enjoying this year’s first proper snowfall.

Trailing after papa' - with no falls!

Trailing after papa’ – with no falls!

So our preferred weekend thing is inviting friends over for dinner at our place. We’re all happy that way – I get to bake something yummy, A stocks up the wine, we decide on the menu, and Cesca gets an extra hour awake at night, basking in the extra attention she gets. And the worrier in me gets the night off from thinking that Cesca will catch a cold. It’s a win-win situation.

One of our friends is 33 weeks pregnant. She seems to be growing more and more every time I see her and she has an inner glow emanating from her – I guess the cliche’ is true, the ‘pregnancy glow’ does exist!  She’s at the phase where every bit of her body is aching, simple things irritate her and everything itches and is sore! I could not help telling her that unfortunately things will get bigger, heavier, less pleasant and more frustrating. She was up and moving every couple of minutes, unable to find a comfortable sitting position, craving oranges and eating and tangerines, and then gulping down milk because of the heartburn it caused her.

Inadvertently her talk took me back to my 33rd week of pregnancy. I was big and growing. And it was the week I travelled to Malta alone, to spend the three months of summer there, waiting for Little Miss C to arrive.

And now ‘Little’ Miss C caresses and touches our friend’s belly whenever we tell her to say hello to  baby Chris.

Life is one big beautiful circle x

P.S. Three days left folks – enter the giveaway going on here – and remember you can enter everyday for more chances to win 😉