Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes at Mary-Maye's House!

Pumpkin pancakes have become a tradition here at Milton's Manor.  Jason found the recipe years ago and has been making them for at least seven or eight years now!  It has become a tradition for us to have them Thanksgiving morning and we have often invited friends to join us.  This year, we wanted to invite Mary-Maye and her family over, but quickly realised that it would be easier for us to host a family of six at their house!  Luckily, they didn't mind us inviting ourselves over to their house to cook.  (You can see lots of lovely pictures of Mary-Maye and Hugh Guy's house here.)

Here are some of the highlights of the morning:

getting a cuddle from Hugh Guy

These kids LOVE Charlotte and Charlotte ADORES them!  There were smiles and giggles and cuddles galore!

Charlotte and the gorgeous Mary-Maye


a beautiful, display of vegetables for the table centerpiece

Jason often had two children in his arms at any given time (when he wasn't cooking, of course!)

Mary (the eldest) gets a cuddle from her dad

While we were there, I noticed one of Mary-Maye's new paintings and fell in love with it!  (Although, I tend to fall in love with most of her art . . . )  Mary-Maye said she would be willing to frame it and sell it for a ridiculously low price.  I jumped on the opportunity!!  I have officially purchased my first piece of original art!  AND I LOVE IT!!!  It reminds me so much of when Jason and I got engaged.  We were on a beach in Oregon.  It also reminds me of a picture we have from a friend's wedding that I framed for Jason a few years ago.  It is also just adore the colours!

Mary-Maye showing off the new painting

Shortly before we left, Peter (the penultimate child) was sitting and peeling an onion.  I thought it was the sweetest thing:

It was a wonderful start to a wonderful day!  Oh, and find the recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes here!

Monday, 28 November 2011

How to host Thanksgiving in a small apartment

When we decided to host a big Thanksgiving dinner, we just assumed that everyone would be eating with plates on their laps.  Not ideal, but it could work.  It wasn't until I was brainstorming one day that I came up with the perfect small-space solution.

Our couch folds down into a bed, futon-style:

I realised that we could probably use it as a table if we were able to put some sort of hard surface on top of it.  I immediately folded the couch down, pulled out my long white table cloth and set up a quick table setting.  We were expecting eleven adults and three kids (although we ended up with nine adults and two kids), so I had a big group to accommodate.  Amazingly, it worked:

The most difficult part of this set up was getting the piece of plywood.  I called around and found a lumber store about a mile away that would sell me a piece of 4x6 plywood for £13.  I was originally going to attempt to carry it myself, but I'm glad I didn't.  My friend Mary sweetly offered to help.  Thanks goodness!  I don't know how far I would have gotten with it on my own.

Unfortunately, we didn't get any shots of the two of us carrying it together, but I did get a shot of Mary showing off with our sheet-o-plywood before we hit the road:

And then Mary got an action shot of me once we were on the road:

We carried that bad boy just about a mile.  It was pretty great.  We were stared at and honked at, but it was otherwise a pretty easy trip.

Okay, now back to Thanksgiving:

The plywood/couch table worked beautifully!  We had the living room set up normally until right before dinner was ready.  Then, everyone helped in folding the couch down, getting the plywood situated and setting the table.  It all happened surprisingly smoothly.

Here is an in-progress shot that my friend Naina took (you can see I put a mattress cover down first just in case):

Once the plywood was in place, it was looking pretty promising:

Charlotte and Emily kept a watchful eye over the process:

And here is what it looked like when it was all set up:

 And here we all are enjoying our Japanese style Thanksgiving dinner:

Please notice the darling Thanksgiving bibs that Mary brought over for the girls.  Also, please notice that Emily has no shirt on.  And this was before she fell into the pan of butter and turkey fat.

As you can see, it took up nearly the entire living room!  But it was perfect.  Much much much better than eating with our plates on our laps.  We set up all the food on our (tiny) dining table and everyone helped themselves.  Everyone was comfy enough, that we stayed there for dessert as well.

Josh and Naina

I would post more pictures, but most of them didn't turn out because of the low lighting.  It was a great time though.  Good food, good friends and (thanks to John!) some good music after dinner.  All-in-all a great evening.

(And we've decided to hang onto our plywood for future dinner parties.  So, if you're invited over for a big dinner, be sure not to wear a short skirt!)

Friday, 25 November 2011

Thanksgiving Day

I think Jason's Facebook status basically summed up our first Thanksgiving in the UK:  "Happy Thanksgiving America!  Happy Thursday UK!

In the UK, Thanksgiving is just another Thursday.  No biggie.  We are having our big Thanksgiving party on Saturday, but we wanted to commemorate the actual day as well.  So, Charlotte and I hopped on the tube and went to meet Jason at work:

Thanks to Peanut for the apple dress!!

His office cafeteria was offering a Thanksgiving meal and we thought it would be fun to try it out.

I failed to get their pictures, but a few of Jason's coworkers joined us as well.  We chatted a lot about traditional Thanksgiving food and addressed the common concern, "if you eat turkey on Thanksgiving, what do you eat for Christmas?!".  Everyone here seems very concerned about that issue.

Speaking of turkey, here is what our meal looked like:

Beans?  Really?  BEANS?!

Charlotte wasn't too impressed:

In fact, she was so unimpressed, she refused to eat and decided to nap instead:

the cutest thing ever

The meal was okay.  Not inedible, but certainly not a traditional American Thanksgiving meal.  Hey, at least they tried, right?! 

After we ate, we got eggnog lattes and hung out for a bit in the lobby:

my two favourites

Charlie loved crawling around the big lobby!

She really wanted a sip!

This child will be walking unaided any day now!

We certainly missed hanging out with family and friends, but we are pumped to do it tomorrow!  We'll start out the day making pumpkin pancakes at Mary-Maye's house with her husband and four kids.  Then we'll head back here, put on the game (Jason figured out how to get Thursday's game to play through the TV) and get cooking!  Our guests will start arriving around 1:00.  We can't wait!!

PS:  Follow the link to the pumpkin pancake recipe.  You won't regret it!!!

Thursday, 24 November 2011


We won't be able to celebrate around here until Saturday (we'll be hosting eleven adults and three little ones in our tiny apartment!) but Charlotte wanted to share this video in the meantime.  She is a very happy and thankful baby and wanted you all to know it.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

(A sneak peak . . . )

 . . . at our Christmas cards! 

Now that we have a child, it seems that we are required to send out photocards from sites such as Tiny Prints or Pinhole Press.  We used Tiny Prints for our Christmas cards last year and then again for Charlotte's birth announcements (both of which we were really happy with).  We have all of our addresses already loaded in their system, so it is nice and easy for us to just hit "send" and be done with it.  They address them, stamp them and send them from America!  No extra postage to send them from the UK! 

One downside is that we don't write the personal notes in the cards anymore, but I don't think we would be able to get that done with Charlotte running around anyway.  Writing Christmas cards was always a big event without a child and would probably just not get done with a child.  Real talk. 

Okay, now let's get down to why you really visited Milton's Manor today:  CHARLIE PICS!  These are a few outtakes from our Christmas photo session:

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Brusha Brusha Brusha

Charlie currently has six teeth!  SIX!  And based on her sleepless night last night, we're guessing that there are more on their way.  (Ugh.)

We have been trying to brush her six little pearls, but she absolutely hates it.  I have found, however, that if I let her give it a go first, she sometimes actually brushes a few of them.  I still brush them when she is done, but she gets an "A" for effort!

Though toothbrushing time is no one's favourite time of the day, we all enjoy singing this song when we're done.  :)

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Greenwich and Blackheath

As happy as we've been with Clapham, we're anxious to move to a quieter, more village-like setting.  Dulwich, Greenwich and Blackheath were on the top of our lists based on what we had read and heard about those areas.  (It also doesn't hurt that flat prices are a bit more affordable in those areas . . . )

We've already toured Dulwich, so on Saturday, we hopped on the overground train and headed over to see Greenwich and Blackheath (which are just a short walk away from each other).  Luckily, Charlie LOVES riding the train!

It was a chilly day, so Charlie got all bundled up:

Our first stop was the Greenwich market.  It did not disappoint.  The food was particularly impressive:



Spanish chorizo sandwiches!

dried fruit and nuts
we went with aracini and calzones

Charlie was a fan!

Then we went on a walk down to Blackheath.  We walked through the Greenwich Park until it turned into Blackheath:

We started up in the top left-hand corner of the map at the Greenwich Rail Station and left for home via the Blackheath Rail Station at the bottom of the map.

The walk was gorgeous:

Eventually we arrived at Blackheath where there were quite a few kite-flyers.  It reminded us so much of Hampstead Heath!

The view approaching Blackheath Village is adorable.  The most prominent feature is the large church (that we stood right next to when we went to view the fireworks earlier this month).

The first place we went was an adorable little second-hand book shop.  I really wanted their little red bus collection!

Once we got into the village, we were overwhelmed with cuteness.  It is exactly the kind of place you want to raise kids.  There were loads of families and friendly, happy people.  There were very few chain stores or restaurants and lots of happy, little independent shops.  It was totally our jam.

We went to see the outside of an adorable flat that was in our price range.  It was on a quiet, peaceful street but still only about a five minute walk to the train station.  If only our lease were up now, we'd likely go for it!

We followed this rad old sign to check out their local Catholic church (just a street away from the flat!):

It was adorable:

It is cute, but it could never beat St Mary's (that's for you, Fr Dominic)

A lovely view of the village:

Blackheath stole our hearts.  It would be rough to leave our familiar neighbourhood, the local friends we've made (except for you, Mary, because I WILL convince you to move here!) and it would be difficult for me to keep my current voice students if I moved out of Clapham.  But we are trying to look at the bigger picture.  We would love to raise our little family in this sweet community.  

Only a few more months before we're out of our lease!  Who wants to help us move?!?!

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