Thursday, October 28, 2010

Decorating Pumpkins

Our playgroup meets every Wednesday morning. This week we were excited to decorate pumpkins together. This activity is not nearly as popular here as it is in the States, but we were able to find some fun decorating kits and a few pumpkins. And everyone had a wonderful time.

Our great friends purchased  pile of pumpkins for the morning, and my kids excitedly picked the ones they wanted. Abigail chose a cute, little pumpkin that was small enough for her to hold and carry.

Joshua chose the second, biggest pumpkin in the pile. I don't know what excited him about this pumpkin, but he love the idea that it looked like him.

Abigail poked in some funny face pieces into her pumpkin and then spent the next thirty minutes painting and drawing.

Joshua also chose his own face pieces, and a hat. Then it was time to use markers to add a little personality to his pumpkin.

Joshua was so proud of his finished product. It is happily displayed in the living room window for all the passerby's to admire.

Abigail is also pleased with her finished pumpkin. She added cute flower stickers in addition to the markers. And when we arrived home, she added Mr. Potato Head's fireman hat to the top.

Fun days! Check out more pictures at Decorating Pumpkins - Oct 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Welcome to Scotland" Night

Earlier this month, Aberdeen Women's Fellowship (AWF) hosted a wonderful Welcome-to-Scotland party for all the new families. We had wonderful Scottish food, live bagpipe music, and a Ceilidh (pronounced 'Kay-lee'), i.e. traditional Scottish dancing.

Above is a great view of the first dance. Darren and I participated in  a few as well. Great fun! It reminded me of square dancing, but with bagpipes playing.

Abigail and Rebekah joined int he fun as well. Those girls, in their cute plaids, spun around and around until they landed in a pile on the floor.

Joshua was more interested in the coloring. Our great friend Rachel drew one of her lovely collages for the kids to color. It included castles, Highland Cows and the British characters Charlie and Lola!

They had a dance for just the kids, but Abigail was too shy to dance alone. We danced together with another little kids for our partner. Great fun, but hard to keep timing with kids!

This wonderful couple from one of the local churches brought all the music and taught us the dances. Toward the end of the evening, he pulled out his bagpipes and played a few songs. It was quite loud for inside, but so beautiful.

My contribution to this party was Sticky Toffee Pudding (yummy cake topped with warm toffee sauce) and haggis pastries (made from my Scottish heritage cookbook). First time making either from scratch. The pudding was a huge success. People were a little more hesitant to try the haggis, but it really had great flavor and I think my pastry turned out well.

Wonderful evening! There are wonderful pictures at AWF Ceilidh - Oct 2010.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

So sorry for a full week with no blog posts. With Joshua out of school for the last two weeks, I have not had my normal downtime in the afternoons and didn't really find a chance to update the blog. But do not fear, we are all well and enjoying the fall colors here in Aberdeen.

On to the menu for this week!

  • Monday -- Crockpot Tamale Pie - yes, it is on here again. I keep forgetting to prep the beans...
  • Tuesday -- Broiled Cod Parmesan - another roll-over from last week
  • Wednesday -- Chicken Teriyaki
  • Thursday -- leftovers
  • Friday -- Chicken Fajitas
  • Saturday -- Tortelloni with chicken and mushrooms
  • Sunday -- Party Night
Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This week we LOVED the Beef Sesame Noodles (scroll down on the post, it is the last recipe listed) from Emily! These were amazing and super easy. I substituted green beans for the peas and left out the carrots (cooked carrots and peas are not popular with my family).

We are also excited to try the Chicken Pita recipe from Rachel this week. She made this for us when we first met over a year ago, and we loved it. Darren is looking forward to having it again.

But on to the menu for this week!
Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Games, Movies and Popcorn

On Thursday nights, it is just me and the kids. Darren is helping with small group for class at church. The class is on the book of Mark. It is focused on helping new Christians (or those looking to understand Christianity) to know who Jesus is and what he has done. And they server dinner before class...

So, each week we have one night all to ourselves... just Joshua, Abigail and Mommy. Yesterday, we were all having a hard day, probably mostly because everyone is sick and just not feeling well. I knew we needed to do something special to survive the evening.

Joshua "taught" Abigail and I how to play Uno (his new favorite game), while dinner was cooking. We had chicken nuggets and chips (french fries) for dinner, took a nice bath, and picked out a movie to watch together. And we made popcorn!

Joshua has had popcorn at school before, but this was our first time making it at home (that they can remember). We all helped measure out some popcorn, added a little oil and turned on the stove.

Joshua stood on a chair nearby and I held Abigail so they could both see when the corn started popping.

At first Joshua was hesitant, but once the popping started he was very excited.

We scooped a bowl full of popcorn, snuggled up under our blankets (the spot in between the kids is for mommy) and watch Ratatouille.

What a fun evening together! Next time we'll have to have family movie night, when Daddy is home to snuggle, too!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Finchale Priory near Durham

While touring the Durham Cathedral, it was recommended that we visit the Finchale Priory ruins nearby. The monks from the cathedral would spend time here during the summer for a retreat or holiday.

These beautiful ruins are quite lovely. They are managed by the English Heritage and entrance is free, however you have to purchase a parking token for £2 to leave the facility.

The kids enjoyed this priory. There were so many rooms to explore and broken walls to climb.

The priory was built on the edge of a beautiful river. The setting is so peaceful.

We watched boaters going up stream and enjoyed throwing sticks into the water. There is a bridge over the river and hiking trails on the opposite side.

But we spent most of our time enjoying the ruins. We also loved the little chickens, guinea fowl and peacocks wandering around the grounds.

This was a beautiful, restful stop on our first full day of touring Durham County.

I posted some more great pictures of the kids on Facebook at Finchale Priory - Sept 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Apples, Apples, Apples

Here in Aberdeen, the apples are ready to pick in late August. This post is late in coming, but I thought you (my online audience) would still enjoy it. I was silently mourning the loss of the wonderful orchard we use to visit in New Jersey to pick apples. Then this amazing opportunity arrived.

My wonderful friend Emily (on the left) has a generous neighbor who gave her permission to pick the apples hanging over the wall into Emily's yard ... an offer we could not refuse. 

My amazing friend Rachel (pictured above) and I joined Emily in an apple frenzy,
picking bags and bags of apples.

I was holding branches down to help reach some of the higher apples.
There were a few at the top that were so beautiful.

Rachel's son, Calvin, helped us out by climbing the tree to reach those high apples.

Once we were home, I had two full bags of apples to peel and core. Luckily, Emily loaned us her apple gadget that does just that at the turn of a handle. Wonderful!!! Even the kids enjoyed using it.

I have no idea what kind of apples these were; they were a little too tart for eating straight and turned brown in seconds (even my lemon water couldn't keep them white), but these are wonderful baking apples. I made a huge apple crisp and still had three gallons of apples to freeze for a future day. 

There were enough apples to share with everyone in our group who wanted some.  We have been enjoying amazing apple desserts from everyone in our group - pies, crisps, breads, crumbles, etc. And I still have one more bag in the freezer for a future autumn night. 

Apples are one of my favorite things about fall!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Joshua is on mid-semester break for the next two weeks. Can we already be in the middle of the semester? Time seems to have passed very quickly.
We are getting excited about our trip back to the States in a few months. This will be our first time seeing family since we moved here last September. I can hardly wait! 

But on to the menu for this week!
Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sand castles at the beach...

In the beginning of September, we had some wonderful weather here in Aberdeen. We decided to take a family trip down to the beach.

The kids were thrilled. Their favorite activity at the beach is building sand castles. We were only going to spend about a hour in the sand, but they kept digging and building for much, much longer.

After Darren took a walk in the surf, Abigail was excited to try out the water for herself. She was very nervous about the speed of the waves coming at her, but had a wonderful time with Daddy.

Joshua spend most of his time putting finishing touches on his castle. He was thrilled at the number of feathers they found that could serve at flags at the top of the towers. He seems to have an obsession with flags right now, especially at the top of castles and tall buildings.

Abigail embraced the sand, in all its glory and grit. She has no fear of getting dirty and wet. She quickly took off her shoes the moment it was allowed.

Joshua, on the other hand, is very particular about getting dirty. He left his shoes on (except for a short "strongly encouraged" walk in the sand); he had no desire to get wet in the ocean; and he did all his construction work while standing up.

As the last "flag" was put in place, we stood back to admire our hard work.

There are even more pictures of all our fun at Aberdeen Beach - Sept 2010.

To finish up the fun, we went to Burger King for dinner (they are right down near the water) and went shopping at ASDA (owned by Walmart, if you can imagine a smaller version of that US store), where the kids got to look at all the toys they wanted.

Everyone was very sleepy after our hard play! And Darren and I were quite worn out after the 4 miles of pushing the double stroller there and back again! What a wonderful day!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Durham Castle

Durham Castle is located in the heart of the downtown shopping area. I love the view of it at the top of the hill overlooking the shops.

This castle is currently owned and used by Durham University. They still use this ancient building for classes, dormitories and even the cafeteria.

They do not allow photography inside the castle, but they do offer guided tours. We enjoyed seeing the current chapel with beautiful woodwork. The old chapel was built underground and has a dark mysterious feel to it.

The keep (the defensive tower of the castle) that is up on the hill behind Abigail and me in the picture below has been turned into dorms for upperclassmen.

This castle had a very different feel from any of the others we have seen. It was nice to have the tour, giving all the details. We also enjoyed the collection of swords and other weapons on display.

There are a few more pictures online: Durham Castle - Sept 2010.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I finally got up the courage to have Homemade Pizza (love this quick, easy crust) last week. For some reason, this always seems like to much work, but the family asked for it and I finally gave in. I was extra brave by inviting the kids to make their own pizza's.

Baking with my kids is always a challenge for me... I tend to like control too much. This requires complete release, and willingness to clean up a mess when they are done. But they had such a wonderful time... it was well worth it! (scroll down for this week's menu)

Now to the menu for this week!
Check out more great meal ideas at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rainy Days!

What a rainy day! We spent quite a bit of time walking in the wind and rain today.  On our walk home from school the kids were soaked. When we had to go out again, we were ready. They have on rain coats, waterproof trousers (over their jeans) and great wellies. Although, Abigail still looks pretty drenched in this picture.

When we returned home at 6pm, the road in front of our flat was flooded. Our poor little, drowning tree was the only marker for the edge of the sidewalk. The only way to our house in the front was through about six inches of water.

Joshua is sporting his new rain coat (or Firefighter's Vest, as he calls it). I was going to save it for his birthday, but it just seemed the perfect day to use it. Not to mention that he other rain coat was too short in the sleeves and his shirt got all wet on the way home from school.

After we were warm and dry inside, we watched from the living room windows to see how other people were dealing with the flooding. This guy walked along the wall in front of our yard. He then decided to jump the five-foot wall into the neighbors yard. All the in effort of keeping his feet dry ... well, and about six inches up his leg. This seemed to be a popular choice, though some brave people just carefully chose a path through the middle of the road.

What a fun, exhausting, wet afternoon! There are wet clothes and soaked jackets draped all over the house. Gotta love Aberdeen in the fall!

There are a few more pictures in my album, "Too Much Rain!"

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