Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Half Term Holiday in Iceland: Days Zero and One (Friday and Saturday)

First, the logistics, in case anyone is interested in planning a trip to Iceland.  You never know, right?

We initially picked Iceland because I wanted to see the Northern Lights, and it was a quicker (and cheaper) flight than to Norway. Then our fab neighbours went in September and after looking at their pics and this this this and this post from Aspiring Kennedy, I was hooked- couldn't wait to get here. (AK has a lot more to say about Iceland, but my computer is translating things into Icelandic and I'm getting confused with copying links, so just google "aspiring kennedy iceland" to see the posts.  Her website doesn't have a good search option, but the google works, as always.)

(I'm typing this on Wednesday night and we haven't seen the Northern Lights yet. My hopes are no longer very high, but I was prepared to not see them before we got here, so it's okay.  I'm okay.  For now.)

Anyway.  We decided to spend half our time plus some down in southern Iceland, based near Reykjavik in a national park (to better our chances of seeing the Northern Lights, duh) and half our time up north in Akureyri.  We used HomeAway to find our houses, listed here and here respectively. (The ad for the Akureyri house boasts "mountain views" but I call bullshit.) The one in Reykjavik is a thousand times more awesome, but doesn't have a washing machine or wifi, which is LAME BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION, but the house in Akureyri is nice enough, it's just in the city, no hot tub and no awesome view.  But washing machine and wifi and it's hot as shit in here, these heaters WORK.

We flew Icelandic Air out of Heathrow.  There are cheaper airlines in Europe, obviously, that's all anyone ever talks about, twenty dollar flights, right? But it's easier for us to fly out of Heathrow since we live right there, and with a bigger airline you don't have to pay for extras like bags and getting to pick your seats.  And this plane was THEBOMBDOTCOM. It was the roomiest plane I've ever been on.  I had so much leg room, I probably could have...I can't think of anything to say here.  It was just huge.  And tvs for every seat!! Hooray!! I started The Americans, it was fantastic.

So we left after dinner on Friday and got here in the middle of the night, which sucks.  Not gonna lie. The guy waiting with our rental car (a big huge American SUV!!!) said it was a PERFECT night for the Northern Lights, but alas, no dice.

Alright, that's it for the logistics for now.  If you have any questions, seriously, email me, I will be more than happy to get the answers from Nick and relay them to you.

As soon as we woke up on Saturday, we bundled up and got ready to drive back down near the airport to go to the Blue Lagoon.  (Aspiring Kennedy's trip to the Blue Lagoon here.)
The house in Reykjavik.








Here's a quick geography lesson.  That I mostly made up. Iceland has some sort of geothermal thing going on, so there's all this hot water EVERYWHERE. So they pipe it around and have all these outdoor pools and stuff, it's WEIRD. And the Blue Lagoon apparently realized duh, we could make a fortune, so they found a hot spot and carved out this gorgeous pool slash lagoon and pipe in all this glorious hot water and you can smear mud all over your face and it's just AWESOME. So worth every penny.  EVERY PENNY. The kids were free, but they all had to wear floaties, with was fine with me since none of them can swim and they're all too small to touch the bottom.



It was just so fun!!!

But then we were exhausted so we drove home.
Also of note? People in Iceland do NOT mind being naked.  At all.  The huge communal dressing rooms at the Lagoon- full of confident naked people just walking around being naked.  Scott is NOT a fan.  Obviously.

All right, I gotta split.  This fucking google or blogger or whatever keeps popping up this thing that says "Þú hefur skráð þig út annarsstaðar. Viltu skrá þig aftur inn?
Já, ég vil skrá mig aftur inn." every five minutes and I can't figure out what it wants but it's EXTREMELY annoying.  We head back down to Rekjavik tomorrow with no wifi, but hopefully I can get some pics ready to go for when we head back to England to plan our next holiday!!

Iceland rocks.  Don't let anyone tell you anything different.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Did anyone know that it's THURSDAY!?!?! I had no idea!! All day long, I've thought it was Wednesday.  Then I saw someone tag something #tbt on Instagram and since I'm so hip to the lingo, I thought to myself huh.  That's weird.

NO WAIT!! IT'S THURSDAY!!!

Ugh.  So we leave for a week in Iceland TOMORROW and I haven't done a single thing.

So that's my story.  Here's some wordless pics to go with all these words.  It's not really cheating because it's not even actually Wednesday.

The sun was out, and I thought I had two days left, so we took a nice leisurely stroll through the forest slash woods slash weird open meadow across the street.  I took nine thousand pics and almost every single one of them was out of focus!! Blursula.  I also made a huge fuss about the kids wearing their wellies since the ground was SOAKED and I forgot and wore my sneakers (trainers, tee her her) and my feet were nasty and wet and cold within seconds.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Chicken Taco Soup (And the Most Random Post Ever)

So Angela and I are still pounding out the details of our latest Cookbook Challenge, but while we sort through it, we're both cooking what we each think looks good from the book. Cheating? Getting ahead? Who knows.  It's hard when you and your best friend are on separate continents.  Ugh.

Anyway.  I did make a banner. So that's gotta count for something.



Anyway. In addition to rambling senselessly about the challenge, I'm also going to ramble about Menu Plan Monday.  "You had rambled on for eighteen pages.  FRONT AND BACK!!!"

I usually type the posts on Fridays, when I'm planning my menu.  And I will continue to do that. But I'm going to start waiting a week to post it, that way I'm putting up what I've already eaten, the week before. Make sense? That way I can tell you if it sucks.  One day, a lady commented that she was going to try something I had planned, and I felt AWFUL because I'd made it the night before and it tasted like poop.  So this will ease my conscience a little.

Is that the right word? Conscience? Or is is conscious? I think it's conscience.  Alexa? Do you know? Is there a reason I thought of you? No idea.

I'm not drunk, I swear.

What I am is avoiding packing or planning for Iceland.  Every time I start to plan or think about packing, I start to think about the flight and have a mild panic attack and just end up googling if Chris Pine has done something to make his eyes so blue. (The consensus is that he has NOT done anything, in case you're wondering.)

And today, after I got sick of google (two of the three are home on half term, if you're wondering why I'm so bored.  Can't exactly watch Orphan Black with them around. And as an aside, I obviously think you lot are a very curious bunch, wondering about every little thing.) I typed up the recipe for what we're eating for supper tonight.

THEN I got all self conscious (that one's correct, I know for SURE) because it's such an EASY recipe, what's the point in posting it? As long as you're intelligent enough to wipe your own hiney, you can make taco soup.

But THEN I got angry because I spent all this time making the recipe, time I could have spent looking at side by side pics of Thor and Jax and trying to make sure I can tell them apart.
Ha! Not QUITE as easy as you thought it would be, huh? I'm SOOOOOO excited that Jax saw the light and bailed on the atrocity that will be 50 Shades.  My Jax Strike was might difficult around these parts...

So I'm posting the recipe.  That way I can feel like I at least did one productive thing today.  And lucky you, you get to try fantastic food for my troubles!!




Someone jumped on Chalkboard Train and never looked back.  No names, please.

So. I used to make taco soup in the crockpot.  Brown some ground beef or turkey (mince, as they say here) with an onion, throw it in with two cans of diced tomatoes and two cans of kidney beans.  It was good and easy and I loved it.  Like, LOVED it, we ate it at least twice a month, even while (whilst, as they say here) living in the tropics when it never dipped below 85F.  It was good.

This is BETTER.

I started here with this recipe from the book.  But I can never find a dried chili and my kids can't handle jalepeno and I think it's better if it simmers for HOURS instead of minutes, and I miss the tomatoes and beans.  So I went from that.

I believe that boneless skinless chicken breasts should ALWAYS be pounded flat.  I don't know why.  It's just a thing. I want them flat flat flat, and all the same width.  So pound those suckers out.

Sometimes I throw random veg in at the beginning.  Carrots or celery, just whatever is laying around that won't really affect (effect?) the flavor, but will get it out of my fridge and maybe put one or two extra vitamins in my belly.  Probably not though.  So saute whatever you're going to saute (onions and garlic at the VERY least) then add the breasts and brown them.  Make sure your pan is HOT so you get that crust.

Then add all the cans. I know, cans are the enemy, natural food, organic, fairy urine, blah blah blah.  Feel free to like grow a tomato and use that. But I like the ease of canned food.  And, just in case there's some sort of apocalypse, I like to have a pantry full of canned goods.

You just never can tell.

Add the packets too.  Again, you could go the real food organic route or whatever, but it's just that I've got these four kids, and I'm very busy with the google...so I tear open a packet and go on my way. You understand.

I'd let it simmer for AT LEAST an hour.  Tonight I only had ninety minutes and it was fine, but I've let it go for like three hours before and it was DIVINE.  Shred the chicken, ladle it up, add Franks for you and your lover, add an ice cube for your sissy children, top with shredded cheese and avocado and sour cream and more Franks and scoop it up with those tostidoes scoops....heaven in a bowl.  Yum.


So basically, the best thing about this recipe is that you can't go wrong.

Okay. I have to go.  Allegiant released tomorrow and I'm assuming (for no reason other than I want to believe) that it will hit the kindle at midnight eastern time, right? Which is like six am for me.  So I need to get up on time, even though those kids are home and I could do it later, to work out so that I can just lay on the couch and read all day.  Don't bother me.
I was scared.  It was a relief when she FINALLY announced the title. 



Go make this soup or read these books, either one is fine by me.

Engelbrecht out.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Laundry

The skinny: "1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word. (On your blog or in the comments).
2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my blog footer}.
3. Go leave some comment props for the five minute artist who linked up before you.
It’s a great way to catch your breath at the end of a long week."

The Prompt: LAUNDRY

Go.

I'm sorry, laundry? What? How can I twist laundry into something inspiring? Wow. This sucks.  Everyone else will probably talk about how she's so grateful to have laundry to do because it means her family has warm clothes, that she HAS a family to dress, blech.  I hate laundry.

HATE IT. 

Like, if there was a way to double the all caps, that's what I would do.

I have four kids. That's a shit ton of laundry.  And I live in London, so my machine fits a pair of jeans and one sock. We have two machines, and if we didn't, I think I would have had to move back to the states.

Three loads a day.  That's what it takes to keep up with a family of six in these tiny ass machines.  And I keep up for the most part because I'm boring and never leave the house, so there's plenty of time to throw the loads in.  But the folding and putting away? GAG ME.

Then, the worst part, if I'm sick or busy or grumpy and get even one day, nay- ONE LOAD behind, if I do two one day instead of three? That's it, game over, I'm behind for two weeks.

So forget it, I have nothing inspiring to say about laundry.  I hate it.  HATE IT.

Ding.  

Time's up.  Which is good, since I have laundry to do.  Ugh. 

Wanna play? Maybe you have something inspiring to say about laundry? I'd love to read it, because I don't see how it's possible. Ugh.  Head over here to join in the fun. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts



Do you have any thoughts in your head? Wanna share them with us? I don't have a lot this week because...

I feel like total crap. Warren had some kind of 48 hour bug Monday and Tuesday and it was barforama and he had a fever and just laid there and cried and slept and barfed all day then BAM he was up and felt fine and ate everything in the house and went out to play. Now I want to crawl into a hole in the ground and die, so I think it's pretty safe to say I've got it.

Great.

Daisy felt feverish this morning and was acting like a real asshole, but I think it may have been because I'm so BLAH, I haven't decided.  If she's going to get it, I hope she gets it NOW so we can both be sick and lay on the couch and watch tv together.  I don't want her to get it, obviously, but if she IS going to get it, it would just be so convienient for her to get it now, you know? Otherwise she's basically got full reign of the house because every time I move, I want to cry and barf at the same time.


Wanna see some pics? I had a post all planned out in my head, but I'm just too gross, I can't keep going. Sorry for such a lame post.  Wanna share some thoughts? Wanna put me out of my misery?

These are from after Warren magically got over this bug, so it gives me hope.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Five Favorites


Can I just start with this random collage of baddassery? I mean, doesn't she look like one of those fashion bloggers, with the shoes and the clutch? I mean, sure it's a bag of pretzels, but still.  She just needs to cock her foot behind her leg and look down and she'll NAIL IT.


Anyway.  I'm hooking up with Moxie Wife again for Five Favorites.



1. This show.  Oh, this show.
NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!!

I don't know how we missed this show the first time around.  I mean, hello.  I was president of the X Files and Lost fan clubs.  This show (so far) is basically a mix of those two amazing shows.  I don't get it. (I don't get how we missed it, not that I don't get the show.  Well I don't get the show, but you're sort of not supposed to, right?)

I noticed it came up on netflix (netflix uk is different, not sure if ya'll have it) so I gave it a whirl and MAN. Loved it.  So I got Nick to watch the next one with me.

A little back story, we were out of shows because I went on a Sons of Anarchy strike when Jax agreed to be in Fifty Shades.  I just...no.  Ew.  Doesn't he have a soul? So we got into Fringe, and then he dropped out.  So now I have to decide if I can forgive him and go back to Sons, but not until we're done with Fringe because wow.  Fringe is the best show ever.

There. I said it.  Better than the X Files, and, so far...better than Lost.

We just finished season two.  I love the crime drama aspect, I love the X Files cases, I love the interactions between Walter and Astrid, Walter and Olivia, Olivia and Broyles, and Walter and Peter.  Ohhhhhhh, Walter and Peter.

I cannot BELIEVE that's Pacey.  I just can't.  He's so good as Peter!!!

My heart breaks almost every SINGLE episode.  Peter and Walter. I guess that's the main reason I'm so hooked.  No one is black or white.

"The world isn't divided into nice people and Death Eaters." But in fiction, it usually is.  It's rare to find a story (for me) where I'm truly torn straight down the middle.  Walter did this awful thing...but for a noble enough reason.  Peter has every right to be so angry...but Walter is so obviously deeply regretful. Ugh.  IT'S SO GOOD!!!

I need to stop. I could type PAGES on this show, and I'm sure I will.  But I'll wait till we finish it.

Next up: My vitamix.  I've had it for what, three years now? Two? I think three.  I think we got it when Daisy was born.  I use it every day.  Occasionally I skip weekends, but on average, yeah. Every day. I know it's a lot for a blender, but the reason so many people are willing to shell out is because it works.  It's just magical.  I mean, I use these big blocks of frozen spinach, right? Please don't lecture me about frozen food, you wanna know how many nutrients your bag of raw organic spinach loses every time you open the fridge? Frozen is fine.

Anyway, I toss a block of spinach, two prunes, a few frozen strawberries, a carrot, a tangerine, and my protein shake and this sucker LIQUIFIES it all in like two minutes flat. If that. Yes, it's loud. Yes, I'm probably going to ruin it by running it off the transformer. But I can't live without it.

My precious.



2. Speaking of smoothies, I like to add a dash of this coffee syrup to the mix every now and then.  Ya'll know I'm new to drinking coffee, but I never knew these things were out there!! Sugar free, fat free, chemical full...so good.  And yeah, the chemicals can't be good, but since it cuts my morning coffee from two hundred calories (I use a LOT of creamer) to like twelve...I'll take the risk.  We went to the base last weekend and I bough twenty five bottles.

Literally.  Twenty five.  I wish they'd had the holiday ones, pumpkin and peppermint and chocolate...yum.

When my friend moved here from the States a few weeks ago, she brought me a giant bottle of the salted caramel that's TO DIE FOR and a bottle of actual pumpkin syrup that I'm trying to ration out, but yeah.  This stuff definitely makes my top five of the week, you know?


3. Our neighborhood.  We REALLY lucked out here.  Someone had the Crazies from the flight and being in the hotel for two days, so we literally rented the very first house we saw, no thought to neighborhood or location or anything except GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF THIS HOTEL.

So we took it, and it's awesome and huge and we love it. But across the street is this park forest woods thing that REALLY rocks.  We hardly ever take advantage of it because we're lame like that, but I read this post about getting outside every day so we're trying that, so me and Daisy grabbed some boots and headed out there this morning.

It's just so rad.

4. This recipe for paleo granola.  I should have taken a picture to make it more interesting, but I was too busy shovelling it into my face hole to stop and snap one. It's nuts, shredded coconut, honey, and some coconut oil (these paleo gals sure are WILD for coconut oil, amiright?) and cinnamon.  It's eight million calories per spoonful, but after you eat one spoonful you're so full you don't care. And it's SO GOOD.

5. The fact that we've finally picked a destination for the Christmas break.
image here
Prague isn't my typical cup of tea (I'm more of the Scotland/Ireland/Iceland scenery, mountains, water, that sort of thing, rather than giant cities full of freezing cold people) but Nick is excited and the same girl who brought me the pumpkin syrup used to live there and she says it's awesome.  And let's be honest, the last time Nick picked our destination, we ended up here and it was my favorite holiday thus far.  So my hopes are pretty high.

So there's my five.  Ya'll liking anything particularly snazzy this week that I should know about?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Check Out my Mad Skills!!!

Ya'll. I'm sure you've noticed how NOT tech savvy I am.  I mean, I want to be.  I often think that I am a computer genius.  For example, I watched The Facebook Movie and immediately figured I was as smart as Jesse Eisenberg.  See also, I watched Zombieland and decided I was totally ready for the zombie apocalypse.  But that is neither here nor there.

Isn't that the dumbest phrase?

Anyway.  I bought a basic blog design class, and I've been using a few of the ideas here and there for a revamp of this little slice of internet.  Professional bloggers would have designed the entire page before launching it, but yeah.  I wasn't gonna do that, mainly because I figure this is going to take a few months.

I keep getting sidetracked!!! Anyway.  Again.  Up top, under my header, I'm going to have a few tabs, and one of them is going to be a collection of recipes.  And it took some tears (a lot of tears) and a few hours of my kids watching mindless tv, but check it out- I made the menu chalkboards AND THEN I CODED THEM TO FOLLOW BACK TO THE POST WITH THE RECIPES!!!

So yeah.  Watch out Jesse slash Mark Zuckerberg.  You designed facebook? Big whoop, I put little menus on a page AND THEY LINK BACK TO THE ORIGINAL POSTS.  Checkmate buddy.

Checkmate.


(Disclaimer: This page is a work in progress, but I'm so flipping excited about learning the <extremely basic and idiot proof, so don't be too impressed> coding that I can't help but post it!!!)

Here are the recipes from Angela's and my first cookbook challenge, Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier. (I can't imagine anyone NOT knowing her website, but here it is in case you live under a rock.)







And here are the posts from our next challenge, Dinner: A Love Story.  (Link for her website here.)

(One day there will be menu tiles here leading to the posts, but as we haven't actually started this challenge yet...)




And here's some random menus and recipes for good measure. (Again, one day there might be more tiles and links to posts, but alas, that day is not today.)






Well, what do you think? Are my chalkboard tiles too big? Is the chalk font too stupid? Aren't my recipe combos random and weird?