27 June, 2013

HONEY CARAMEL WALNUTS

Every so often I get a hunger for candied nuts. I stumbled upon this recipe by accident and if I wasn't already hungry for them, I was as soon as I saw this recipe.

Just like grains, nuts can be difficult to digest if improperly prepared, so I tried my hand at soaking nuts for the very first time. Really, there's nothing to it. You can read more here, or continue reading.

Soaked & Roasted Walnuts 

1C raw walnut halves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I use Celtic)
water to cover

Mix walnuts and salt in bowl. Cover with water. Allow to soak in a warm place overnight.



After 7+ hours, drain and spread evenly on baking sheet. Dry nuts in warm heated oven (no higher than 65ºC/150ºF) for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.


And then the magic:

Honey Caramel Walnuts adapted from Butter Believer

*disclaimer: I would not call this a healthy snack. Delicious, yes; healthy, not really.

Melt equal parts butter and honey (I used about 4 tablespoons each for approx. 1 cup of nuts) and a pinch of sea salt in saucepan over med-low heat. Stir continuously until thick, bubbly and caramel-coloured.

(For me, caramel must reach the brittle toffee stage, so cook for  ~10 minutes. If you like yours chewy, remove from heat earlier).

You may or may not use a candy thermometer to determine doneness. I used a glass of ice water. When a bit of caramel dropped into the ice water comes out brittle, it's done.

Remove from heat and drizzle over walnuts. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired. Refrigerate until caramel is cool and hardened.

They keep well in the fridge or at room temperature. If you have any left over to store.


YESTERDAY










Yesterday we took a much-needed day in. I was happy to accomplish some goals around the flat and spend quiet time with my littles. I am thankful our life allows for days like this.

1. twins-in-a-box.  2. they're baby-wearers too.  3. soaking walnuts for a treat (recipe to follow).  4. window-watcher.  5. afternoon smiles.  6. clean my house with this. always.  7. afternoon snack.  8. playtime.

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SCOTLAND (I)




if you visit the museum, don't miss the rooftop terrace.
Last week we visited the National Museum of Scotland. There are 5 massive floors with rooms upon rooms of special exhibits and interactive displays. There's loads for children to do as well. We spent a great part of our time in the Imagine Room, specially designed for babies and young toddlers. Its bright orange lights and wall of mirrors make it hard to miss. If you're visiting with little ones, be sure to check it out; mine were ecstatic.

 If we could have just another week in this city, we'd definitely go again. 

24 June, 2013

ON BABIES CLOSE IN AGE AND BLANKET TIME

I am often asked for some of my best tips on having twins, or children close in age. Over the next month or so I will share some things Peter and I have found helpful with having three children born in 13 months. 

We don't claim to be "Babywisers", attachment-parenters, baby-led-weaners, etc. What we do tends to be a laid-back, jumbled mix of a bunch of things we've found to work for our own family, and a lot of them are concepts we have talked about and established privately. We would say that has been the best method for us. 




For starters, here is an exercise that we used from time to time to keep the peace, and it especially proves helpful when nursing a baby in the early weeks. 

I like this approach to keeping your child safely contained far more than simply tossing them in a pack 'n play or buckling them into the high chair. This teaches obedience and contentment and will quickly become reliable with proper consistency.

Blanket time.
Blanket time involves your child and a small blanket (the size of a receiving blanket or slightly bigger) and only several toys. Sit your child on the blanket and leave them, setting a timer so you don't lose track of time and exasperate the child. Begin with 3-5 minutes, next 8, then 10. Eventually they should be able to sit contently on the blanket through an entire nursing session or meal prep, even unattended.

This is a great lesson in contentment and obedience. If the child gets off the blanket, promptly place them back on. If they continue to get off the blanket, we deal with this as disobedience since they were told to stay on the blanket. 


Make breastfeeding time with your baby important. It was a special bonding time with your firstborn, and the second-born should be no different. 

In the first week or two after our help was gone, when I was on my own and Sebastian and Katharina were still unsure of the change, we used a variation of blanket time:


Our twins would spend time in their cribs with several books and I would nurse Philippa in their bedroom. I would use this time to both talk to Philippa, and also to explain to Sebastian and Katharina about how they used to have this special time too. They were curious and fascinated, and the "containment" was only needed for a short time. They quickly became comfortable with feeding time, and now play with each other or have quiet time with books while I am occupied.

WEEKENDS AND PRINCES STREET GARDENS

(These photos are from Saturday's picnic at Princes Street Gardens and the playground just beneath the Edinburgh Caste).

Sebastian calls himself "'bass" and his sisters are affectionately 'rina and Pippa. His love for broccoli has resurfaced (thank the Lord). He takes his lovey everywhere and is resisting the breaking of the "pass-ya" (read: paci). He climbs the walls and cleans the floors [with baby wipes] and needs at least two kisses for every "ouch".



Katharina can walk faster than me and puts her shoes on the right feet by herself. She's learned jumping on the couch is fun and asks to go on the potty (still no success stories; we haven't officially begun the process). She has developed her very own language and will carry on lengthy conversations with whoever is fortunate enough to make eye contact.

Philippa Byrde is a crawler now. As of this week, she is a sweet potato eater too, since she started making her presence known at 2AM; we decided 7.5 months was delayed-weaning enough. Her lower gums are puffy and white, but still not a single tooth.

she has him w r a p p e d around her chubby little finger.

Peter is loving his internship and can't believe how fast the time is flying. He's clocking a lot of hours trying to finish a 40-page project and 30-minute presentation in 4 weeks. Though he's never said it, I see he's missed the days of picking up his suit at the dry cleaners and shining his shoes every other night. About every day he talks about the possibility of returning to the States for a quick visit this summer (this may or may not be a driving factor); he also has a birthday coming next week. . . Also, we love him to bits.




My favourite place is the outdoor Stockbridge Market that runs every Sunday through the year, where I can shamelessly indulge in homemade shortbread and jams and sample cupcakes and olives and teas to my heart's content.

We've had at least one outing every day since we've moved in, but today is our first day we have nothing planned. I'm drinking up the weekends when my husband is out of the office, with no papers to write or exams to revise for. 


This time here has provided far more than we even anticipated, and I think we're all overwhelmed with the blessings and opportunities before us. God is good, life is good.

FAMILY








1-3. a box of new dresses came in the mail from Auntie (see also here).  4. family walks.  5. he's taken.  6. he asked for more "bro-ka-kee" (read: broccoli) at dinner.

21 June, 2013

ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS

One of my favourite things of not owning a vehicle is that we're forced to walk everywhere. And far more often than not, it has its perks. Not once have we regretted our decision to spend these years motor-less.

But sometimes, an intended 31-minute walk can take an hour. A beautiful, leg-aching hour.

Enter our trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Established in 1670, the gardens are quite something. There's enough to see to last a full afternoon, and little ones enjoy watching waterfalls and climbing old stone stairs (don't pick the rhododendrons).

The West end of the gardens connects with Inverleith Park, so to wrap up a full morning and afternoon, the littles and I shared a picnic there after the gardens.

Given a more direct route and more time to explore, I think we'd like to go back soon for more peat walls and rock gardens, as we only grazed the surface yesterday.















20 June, 2013

INVERLEITH PARK

Inverleith Park is one of Scotland's largest urban parks. It's a massive lot of green space-- 54 acres, to be exact-- and about a 30-minute walk from our house.

We've been there twice now, once with a picnic following our roundabout journey to the Royal Botanic Gardens, which we explored yesterday.


I entirely underestimated how hilly this city is, and no longer need my leg and cardio workouts (if I even had them). There is so much to see.










1. wetlands water garden  2. swan-watching  3. trees  4. exhausted explorer.

17 June, 2013

NEW HOME

It's a great thing to sign for a house unseen and be completely surprised by the beauty of it when you arrive.

These pictures don't do the place justice.



We're the highest apartment in an old building of four flats, one to a floor. There's a gorgeous keyed main entrance at the ground level with a 10'+ solid wood door and big brass knobs.

Up three flights of stairs and you're at our door. The fourth set of stairs are actually inside our flat, which is great, because the stairs themselves are stunning. Also, they're perfect for little legs to practice climbing.



We've got a beautiful foyer, living room, and kitchen. There are two large bedrooms, and when we got here we discovered an unadvertised "nursery" (or box room, study, etc) directly off of the master bedroom. There's also a bathroom and proper old-fashioned loo (yes, they're in separate rooms), too.



All the rooms have huge old windows with the original folding wooden shades and brass fixtures throughout. Our bathtub has claw feet.


We've been very blessed. The place is perfect for us, and we keep repeating how much we love the floor plan for our family. And it's for sale too. Too bad buying a home is nowhere in our plans for the near future.





And that's us. We're all unpacked and settled now, and Peter's first day at the office was today. We do have room for visitors, so please stop by!

here are the littles bus-watching outside a market.