Pregnancy away from family

House things are somewhat taking a bit of a back seat, although there is still a long list of things that need to be done before baby gets here. But today I wanted to share my musings on something that is inevitable as an emigrant – pregnancy far away from family.

My closest relatives are my mother’s uncle and aunt, but even they live a three hour drive away and are on holiday a lot. My sister lives in Wales. Everyone else is either in Germany or in the States. My husband’s parents live in Edinburgh, which isn’t too far, but still an hour away. Those are his closest relatives.

I went to boarding school and therefore am pretty used to not being around my family. However, as we get further into this pregnancy, I find myself often wishing some of my family lived closer, particularly my mum. It seems like such a cliche, wanting your mum when you’re pregnant, but she’s – well, mum!

My mother is an amazing woman. She had me and my sister relatively young and then went to university to become a doctor when I started primary school. She has always relentlessly worked for us and supported us, in a wonderful no-nonsense loving way. I value her advice and opinion and I love snuggling with her, even at 28.

She had planned to come over near the baby’s due date, but due to various complications it’ll probably be later and maybe not at all. That’s okay, she’s got a job and a life and things that need taking care of. At the same time I really hope it works out. As we start our own family, I want our baby to fit into my existing family, to get to know them and love them. That’s immensely difficult over such long distance. I’m lucky, really: at least it’s all still within Europe and a day’s travel at most for anyone.

The considerations continue when I think ahead to the future. Many of our friends here who have had babies already rely heavily on their family to help out with child care. We won’t be able to do that – my husband’s parents have a variety of health issues that mean they are not mobile enough to help out and they are the closest relatives. What that means is that friends will step up to the plate. We have so many wonderful friends who truly feel like family to me and I know we will be okay. We will go to see family and they’ll come to visit us. And yet there’s a little bit of me that’s just sad I won’t be able to just pop round to my mum’s with the baby, my gran’s with the baby etc etc.

I knew that this is the way it would be, of course. I’ve lived abroad for over ten years now. But the bittersweetness of starting a family without your family was not a reality until now. I’m very glad the internet exists and contact is easy. I suppose this just makes every time I do see them in person that much more special.

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At my wedding

 

 

Happy New Year!

We have survived the Christmas period (the new kitchen was a Godsend) and had a quiet New Year’s Eve with good friends. Now it’s 2017 and only 11 weeks (ish) until baby – aaah! I hope you had a lovely change of year and here’s hoping 2017 is one of excitement and adventure.

Have a picture from our New Year’s Day walk in Mugdock 🙂

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The kitchen now

You might have read about our kitchen disaster. Luckily it all turned out well, although of course it’s only an interim solution.

The new hob and oven arrived on Saturday morning – at 7:45am! I got a call at 7:15 saying they’d be there in half an hour – barely enough time to get dressed! It was good to get an early start to the day though, as I had to nip to IKEA for opening time to get the cheapest possible countertop. I had already picked up a cheap oven cabinet at B&Q during the week. The two together cost us £60, which isn’t too shabby.

It quickly transpired that because of the way things were held together we’d have to take off *all* of the countertops and then fit the whole puzzle back together again. David was helped by our good friend Jon and his trusty jigsaw. I hid out in the living room to soothe my nerves rather than hovering nearby.

During – slight panic on my side.

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Once they were done

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The electrician came on Monday and connected everything. It’s so wonderful to have a modern hob and oven! Things are so much faster and the induction hob is a dream. I have already used the oven’s programmable feature where you can tell it when food is to be ready for and it starts at the correct time. Such a blessing and time saving device!

 

It doesn’t even look too bad for an interim solution. Yes, the countertops have two different colours and one is slightly wider then the other, but meh.

 

 

German Christmas cooking

Christmas in Germany (much like everywhere else) has a huge focus on food. There are a few that are simply a must for me. These include goose instead of turkey, Christmas biscuits and spiced red cabbage. Since the cabbage can be frozen, it’s the ideal thing to make ahead to make Christmas Day easier! This is the recipe I use from Dr. Oetker’s Schulkochbuch, slightly altered.

 

You’ll need:

1kg red cabbage (after the removal of the stem)

3 medium sized sour apples

2 medium sized onions

125ml water or red wine

2 tbsp redcurrant jelly

2 tbsp vinegar

lard

1 bay leaf

3 cloves

2 star anise

sugar

salt

pepper

 

First you chop the cabbage as finely as you can. I like the bits to be quite long, so I do it by hand, but grating it or running it through a Kitchenaid would work too.

Peel, core, quarter and chop up the apples. Dice the onions.

Sweat the onions in the lard for a little bit until they go soft. Add the apples and cabbage and leave to soften for a bit.

Then you add your spices and the water or wine.

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The original recipe calls for juniper berries, but those are hard to come by here, so I’ve substituted star anise for that Christmassy flavour. I usually add more redcurrant jelly too – all depends on how tart the one you get is.

Let everything simmer for an hour and a half or so, then taste and add sugar, salt and pepper to taste. If it’s still quite bland after that a little apple juice can work wonders.

Either serve up or leave to cool! It freezes really well and often is even more delicious when warmed up again. I did twice the amount above this year and it yielded all of this:

3.5kg of spiced red cabbage!

Now that that’s done and with all these decorations up it’s beginning to feel a lot more like Christmas.

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Star Wars snowflakes, wreath and candles outside

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Cosy living room with our little tree

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Even the fridge corner gets to sparkle

 

Let me know how you get on if you make this!

 

Pregnancy week 25

A little break from house stuff for an update on our little birdie!

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How far along?
25 weeks 5 days – only 99 days until the due date!
Baby is now:
About 35cm long and weighs about 660g
Total weight gain:
5kg
Sleep:
Not great – it’s hard to get comfortable, there are the pee breaks and then the heart burn.
Exercise:
Nothing really – which is terrible!
Mood:
Exhausted, but happy.
Cravings/Aversions:
Nothing special in either direction. I am pretty much constantly hungry though!
Symptoms:
Heartburn, heartburn, heartburn! It’s really quite unpleasant.
Missing:
Sleeping on my stomach and getting out of the tub easily.
Movement:
Lots! Now also visible and palpable from the outside. It’s great fun to watch.
 Maternity Clothes:
Most of my clothes are stretchy, so I am still wearing a lot of my normal stuff, but only maternity trousers.
 Worst Moment of the week:
That stove breaking.
Best Moment of the week:
The Project Present gift collection. So wonderful to see so many people blessed!
Looking Forward to:
Christmas holidays!

Kitchen disaster

Last Sunday I was mulling wine for my choir’s Advent concert like every year. The mulled wine boiled over slightly and I didn’t think much of it – until I realised it had tripped the fuse. Turns out wine had somehow gotten through the old seal at the front and into the controls, shorting the hob out.

 

Great.

 

Cue a frantic call and transfer of 14l of half-mulled wine to a friend nearby to finish the job. I figured letting the stove dry overnight might do the trick.

Not so. It was still shorting out everything in the morning.

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Now, I’ve never liked the look of this kitchen and I’ve never liked this stove. HOWEVER an entire kitchen remodel is expensive and it’s three weeks until Christmas – where we will have all the family over for dinner. Cue panic!

I did not like the stove for a myriad of reasons – I dislike the grill/oven separation, the oven heated really unevenly, the sizes of rings on the hob were not great, the oven door has a side hinge which is impractical in such a small kitchen and the oven was way too low. So a kitchen remodel has been on the cards since the beginning and I had already looked out a new hob and built in oven that I want. So I gritted my teeth, dug into my savings (savings! make them, people!) and ordered these two:

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an induction hob because I love my mother’s and they combine the best of electric and gas hobs and

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a proper self cleaning built in oven. Again very similar to my mother’s and something I have wanted for a while.

The main problem is that they are both built in – meaning we need to close that gap in the counter top for the hob to sit on. So the current plan is to get the cheapest IKEA counter top and a very cheap oven cabinet and rig up something practical, if not pretty, for the holiday period and beyond until we’ve saved up for the remodel.

 

This is how I eventually envision the kitchen:

The empty space in the corner won’t be empty – the counter would go all the way around and there will be a sink in the corner, with the bins underneath. This remodel features a dishwasher and a hopefully more sensible distribution of things, as well as new flooring (it’s not actually as filthy as it looks in the photo above – the black tiles are just that chipped!) and walls that aren’t zombie coloured!

 

What do you think? What are your ideas for a dinky kitchen only 5.6m2?

The hobby room – or lack thereof

This hobby room I keep promising to show you? Here’s why I haven’t:

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It’s still a total mess. Now, granted, this is the room that we did the absolute most work in (and I think that includes the overhaul of the bathroom), but it’s frustrating to have such slow progress. Last Sunday was a big step forward when we finally put the door back. Because we put in new flooring, the door needed to be planed down. Luckily our friend Lewis and his dad came over with their tools and in an afternoon fixed and re-hung the door. Now it’s just… everything else that still needs to be done.

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concentrated fine tuning at the top

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One working door! and an ancient phone cable at the side…