Money, Money, Money…. you can’t live with it, you can’t live without it!

Money is such a tricky subject to talk about. Everyone was raised differently, has a unique current financial situation and prioritizes spending in different ways.

I know when I finally realized that money wasn’t always going to be easily accessible and I was going to have to learn how to manage my own.

budget-photo

I was raised in Mexico for a lot of my youth and this meant that I was blessed enough to go to a private school, had a live-in  cleaner and nanny, live-in cook, gardener and at times even a chauffeur. The only downside to this way of life is that went I went to boarding school at the age of 16 I didnt even know how to make my bed, put my clean laundry away, cook or pay a bill.

Three years later when I started University in England, doing Theology during my gap year, I was faced with my first financial wake up call. I had been given a certain amount of money for my whole academic year. My parents deposited this money into my own bank account. I had never had my own bank account and this was the most exciting thing I had ever been given. My parents informed me that my money was supposed to last me from September 2002-June 2003.

I knew I had a lot of money in my bank account so as the days/weeks went on I started spending a little here (new shoes for the rainy weather), a little there (DVD’s from Amazon.com to stay entertained in the evenings in my dorm while I was sick with chest infections). I of course spent money on groceries, doctors appointments, bus fare, train tickets, laundry, etc but only two months after I had been given the money I soon realized my bank balance = 0

I totally freaked out!! I called my mom, who passed the phone to my dad, who then proceeded to tell me how I was meant to manage that money and make it last until June!! It was only October!!! I cried and panicked and pleaded with my dad to send me more money. I explained that I was careless and unaware of how to properly manage my money. Him and my mom lived in France, so he told me they would go over my finances the following week when they came to England to see me for my birthday (October 13th). I was so relieved. I only had a few days without money and then my “financial backer” would arrive and make all things right, right??

WRONG

My dad and mom, with all their wisdom, decided that would be the perfect opportunity to let me fall flat on my face and learn a VERY important lesson in life. You can’t spend money frivolously (cinema, movies, clothes, bags, shoes,) if it is intended for some other expense which is a necessity (food, transport, rent, bills,medicine).

We sat for over 3 hours going over my past two months bank statements. We used my highlighters and used them to categories each charge on my debit card and associate it with a need:

  • Rent (fixed expense)
  • Bills (fixed expense)
  • Transport (fixed expense)
  • Medical (fixed expense)
  • Classes (fixed expense)
  • Weekly grocery shop (fixed expense)
  • Fun (fluctuates)
  • Meals out (fluctuates)
  • Clothes (fluctuates)

I have listed just a few of the categories to give you all an idea of how detailed this session with my dad was. Then he showed me the total amount of money he had given me initially. Then he explained how this was meant to be divided into 10 months. Then once I new my “monthly amount” I could figure out what fixed expenses I had to make every month.  Only after ensuring that I could pay for all the “fixed expenses” then could I use the rest of the money on the cool stuff, on buying that cute top I saw at Top Shop, those awesome Wellington boots I had my eye on or go out for a meal with my friends.

I soon realized that the money my parents had given me was in fact not as much as I thought. They graciously and generously covered my basic expenses but I was not meant to use it on living the “glamorous  life”.

I  had learnt my lesson, I was ready to be careful with the next lump sum my parents would give me. Little did I know that there would be no more money given to me for that academic year. I don’t know if they couldn’t afford to give me more or they simply chose not to but I am grateful today that they stood firm and didnt cave to my tears and begging.

My parents told this Mexican princess that she would have to go and get herself a job. A JOB!!! I had never had to work a day in my youth and had no idea how to even get a job! There came lesson 2: write a resume and go walk around town handing it out.

Unfortunately for me, having no experience in the workforce meant I wasn’t qualified for anything yet. That’s what I was at University for, right? Anyway, turns out the only place that would hire me was a Intermediate School in the tiny town of Midhurst in England (Elementary school for americans). But they didn’t hire me for my languages (French, Spanish and English) they hired me to CLEAN!!!!!

OH THE TEARS I CRIED!!!

I had never swept in my whole life, I had no idea how to use a vacuum cleaner, dust, mop, scrub toilets, bur some comic reason this is the job I was handed and all I knew was that I needed money.

cleaning

 

So, everyday I would wake up and do my college work and then when the clock struck 3pm I walked over to this other school and cleaned up after little kids. I was in charge of cleaning the locker rooms, the bathrooms, the head-mistresses office, four classroom and sweeping, mopping and waxing/polishing the corridors.

I soon realized the importance of not getting myself into financial trouble.

Fast forward to 2008 when my then boyfriend, now husband George, and I give birth to my little girl. We were straight out of University. Working our first proper adult jobs and making ends meet. We suddenly had a baby to look after and provide for.

I was so blessed to be married to a man that loves his numbers. He himself was raised with a full-time working mom and dad. They provided for their family but didn’t always have money for extras. He learnt at a very young age the value of saving and managing your money wisely.

We tried many different approaches to managing our joint finances. I had my own way of managing money which involved a lot of extravagant things  but still took care of the “fixed expenses”. George was looking towards the future. He explained to me at length that we deserved a good life. That we would work hard and save hard and sacrifice certain luxuries (for instance,staying in a campsite instead of a hotel so that you still get to travel; or shopping around for the best deal before you book a flight) so that we could ensure we provided for our daughter and could some day buy a flat for ourselves in London (where we lived at the time).

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it was easy. It sucked when my friends were going out and buying lots of nice new designer handbags with their hard earned paycheck; or when we couldn’t go out for a meal with friends because the restaurant they had chosen was outside our price range. Some people would get annoyed at us for being “cheap” or for being so careful about how we spent out money. Some days it would get to me and I would cry and get angry and I would take it out on George (poor George).

This could have ended my marriage. I could have chosen to walk away and look for a man that had already earned his wealth or had inherited it. I could raise my daughter with my family back in Mexico and find a man that was older than me (24 years old I was) and take care of us financially. I chose to stand by the man I fell in love with at the age of 20. The man who I had prayed for. The man who fathered my daughter. The man I knew loved me and was trying his best to provide for us.I chose to change my attitude and my perspective on money.

I had to work full-time and put my daughter into childcare for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. I barely got to spend time with her in her first five years of life. I had to save 1/3 of my paycheck, use 1/3 for our rent and contribute 1/3 towards our fixed expenses. We of course allowed ourselves some spending money so we could each do fun, enjoyable activities. The amount wasn’t a lot but it was what we could realistically afford at that time. We made it work!

Fast forward another 7 years and here I find myself living a life I only hoped I would get to have. I have a house we bought and remodeled. I get to be a stay-at-home mom for the moment and I live in what I consider to be a small preview of what paradise is- Coronado!

Coronado Bridge.jpg

hotel-del-moon

 

Last night George and I sat down again to re-evaluate our finances. It is not a talk I look forward to. It can stress me out and worry me but I have chosen to dedicate time to it and help my husband come up with our budget together. We have found that this helps us avoid arguments and resentments.

 

I don’t know if you are someone that is great at managing money, if you are that’s fabulous!

If you are single and are spending everything you earn let me encourage you to stop a moment and reevaluate. Think of what you want to achieve in your life. Try and get your finances in order. Do the work and spend the time and figure out what your fixed expenses are and how much you can spend to still have fun but also save. I’ve had people tell me that they will save when they earn more money… Honestly, if you don’t get into the habit now who is to say that when you earn more you will have the discipline to do it.

If you are married and you are constantly having arguments with your spouse about: how much money you spend, or they spend money, or how you can’t afford this or that, take the time to sit down and figure out what you can both do to understand your finances and the activities that you want to do. Communication is key! How is my husband supposed to know that I think my daughters gymnastics class is an essential part of her childhood if I dont explain to him my reasons for thinking this way. Once George understands why I want to spend money on this activities it’s easier for him to give it value.

At the end of the day, money makes the world go around. You can’t live with it and you can’t live without it!!

 

Advertisements

I’m Baaaaaaaaaaaack!!!

Did you miss me?

Well, I miss all of you!

I took a little break from writing and posting on my blog because of all the house remodeling we did and because of our much needed long vacation to Europe this summer.

I hope you are still interested in my blog and I hope to entertain you or take you along on my journey.

Displaying IMG_3247.JPG

I wear my heart on my hips

When something is not right inside most people are able to conceal it. They are good at wearing a mask, putting on a happy face and going with the punches. Many times you are able to fool those around you, conceal the real pain you are feeling inside. Perhaps it’s not pain, its disappointment, anger or overwhelming sadness. Whatever it may be some of us are better than others at hiding what goes on in our hearts and our minds.

I unfortunately, am one of those people that is a walking advertisement for when things aren’t right.  I gain weight. Not just a little “oh I gained a pound” kind of weight. I gain 40lbs in a short space of time. The worst part is that at first I don’t notice. It’s when the people around me starting asking me what’s wrong? They want to know why I have done this to myself AGAIN.

fat 1.jpg Me 35lbs heavier

Honestly, gaining weight never seems to bother me as much as it does those around me. I always get comments about my weight and how I looked so much nicer before and how could I have let this happen.  I am not bothered by it because I know I will eventually lose the weight and look like my normal un-swollen self.

I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep and something someone close to me said a few days ago popped up in my mind. “Why does this keep happening”.  Again, I honestly don’t know. All I know is that since my dad passed away five years ago I seem to be stuck in this cycle of weight gain. It creeps up on me every year.

me and dad.jpg One of the last few times I got to spend with dad

I do great from May to August. I work out, I stay active and I make sure I cook healthy meals for me and my family but something happens around September that knocks me back silently. I stop wanting to socialize. I want to spend a little longer in bed, I want to give myself a break from working out, I want to binge watch every show and  I want to indulge a little more. Before I know it I have completely erased all of my good habits and replaced them with unhealthy ones. Day after day goes by and the pounds start piling on. Of course I don’t notice until I am 40lbs heavier and my face looks like someone inflated me.

fat 2.jpg Me starting to gain weight

Since my dad passed away suddenly from cancer I feel like there is a whole in my heart. I manage to patch it most of the time and carry on but there are times when everything unravels. I don’t know what the trigger is. I try every year to break out of this cycle. To stay on track and stay healthy but I lose every time. I went to counseling for almost a year and that helped me work through the loss but it still wasn’t enough to break the cycle.

skinny 2.jpg My normal un-swollen face

I started to wonder about the people that are good at concealing things. When do they notice that things have gotten bad? What indicators do they have that something is wrong and needs to change? My weight gain can be embarrassing but at least it lets me know that I am not yet right. That I have to continue to get to know myself better, to figure out what causes this and to learn from it. Today I write from my 37.5lbs heavier body (not yet 40lbs) aware that once again I fell into the cycle, but also determined to come out the other side a little bit wiser and stronger (and lets face it, hopefully a little bit skinnier)!

skinny 3.jpg Me in my healthy body

I get by with a little help from my friends….

frienship.jpg

A number of studies have shown that an individuals sense of happiness and overall well-being are enhanced through good friendships. From the moment we are infants and we are able to socialize we start trying to create bonds with the people we interact with the most.

From what I have observed with my kids in childhood friendships are often based on the sharing of toys, and the enjoyment received from performing activities together. As parents, we are the ones in charge of making sure these friendships are maintained by organizing play-dates for our kids or taking them to various activities where they can interact with other children.

Growing up I was always good at making friends. I am not naturally shy or introverted so I was able to approach kids I thought would make good friends.Friendships got a little complicated when I was 13. I remember a lot of tears, disappointment when I realized certain girls didn’t want to be my friend anymore and a lot of confusion. I know this is totally normal when growing up but I was happy when at 14 I made the most amazing group of girl friends. There were about 12 of us and we were inseparable. We all liked to do well in school, we all enjoyed sports and we all looked out for each other. When I was 16 I moved to boarding school in France and was faced with having to make new friends.

AMIGAS.jpg

After I finished high school in France and had made some good friends from different parts of the world (Holland, Scotland, New York, France, Italy, Belgium) I moved to England for university.

Making friends in University in England involved a lot of drinking. Basically, if you didn’t drink then you didn’t socialize. So a drinker I became!! I made two good friends, Nat and Caroline,  in my first year and somehow that was all I needed.  I see university as the best years of my life. I met so many interesting people, traveled and had a lot of fun.

girl friends.jpg

When I graduated and moved to London I found it harder to make friends. Maybe it was the fact that only three months after graduating I got pregnant or that I worked in an office with only three other employees. All I know is that suddenly the only friends I had were my husbands and the ones I had from university.

Scientific studies have shown that loneliness and a lack of social support have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, viral infections, and cancer, as well as depression. I can say I have experienced the depression side of things personally.

When I moved to California, I was once again I faced with making new friends. Having a five year old daughter gave me hope. I thought that surely I would be able to make good friends with the others moms I met. Unfortunately, that was a lot harder than I realized. When my daughter started kindergarten I realized that most moms were so relieved that they finally had some kid free hours in their day. They would drop off their kids and walk away before I had a chance to introduce myself. When it was time to pick up the kids they would chat to the people they already new and weren’t very open to meeting new people.

Then I decided that I would try and make friends through the moms of kids my daughter was friends with. Only problem with that is that at her age when I arranged a playdate the mom would drop off the kid and come back later…..so much for my brilliant idea!!!

After months of feeling really lonely and isolated I was finally able to become friends with two moms. That was a life saver. I would go for walks with one of the moms after we dropped the kids off at school. It made such a difference in my life.

mom friends.jpg

The real change happened after I had my son last year. All of a sudden I had access to a group of new mommies who needed friends just as much as I did. When you go from not having kids to having them your friendships change. Maybe you have kids at the same time as your friends and you enter that new season together, but that is not always the case. More times than not a new mom has all this free time during the day with their little baby and they are also desperate for some adult interaction.

mommy fun.jpg

I joined a bible study group with lots of new mommies and a mommy and baby workout class called Stroller Strides. I finally hit the mother-load for new friendships. These moms are my lifeline. They cheer me up when I need it, they encourage me when I think I am failing as a mother or as a wife. They make me laugh, they help me with my kids when I need it and they WANT to hang out with me. I cant imagine my life without them.

mommy friends

The only thing I hope for is that when our new babies reach school age we don’t become closed off and alienate other moms who are looking for friendships. It is so easy to stay in our comfort zone or to be selfish and closed off and think to ourselves “well, I have enough friends” or “I really don’t have the energy to make new friends right now” but you never know when there is a person out there feeling alone and isolated and in desperate need of a friend or maybe even just some friendly conversation.

 

Brussels Sprouts to the rescue and a little sweet potatoes on the side of my side dish

I absolutely adore going out to restaurants. One of the things I love the most is coming across a dish that I never would have thought to make myself. I love cooking but it is easy to run out of ideas. If it were up to me we would eat out more often than we actually do. My husband loves home cooked meals and likes to occasionally eat out. So, after I had these two side dishes at a restaurant I just had to learn how to make them myself. If I can’t go out to eat them then I’ll cook them right in my own kitchen. I was never a big fan of Brussels sprouts. To be honest I always thought they had a funky smell and not much in the taste department but after having them at a restaurant I soon became of lover of all things sprouts!! When it comes to fries I believe they should be a main dish and not just a side. They are delicious, so imagine my surprise when I discovered sweet potato fries. Even better and a welcome change from the regular french fries.

Hope you enjoy!

 

brussels sprouts.jpg

 

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ pounds of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the core

¼ cup olive oil

1½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of pepper

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Place the Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan.
  3. Cover the sprouts in the olive oil, salt and pepper and mix around with your hand to ensure they are all covered.
  4. Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they are tender and browned.
  5. Remove from the over, drizzle immediately with the balsamic vinegar, and toss again.
  6. Taste for seasoning and serve hot.

 

sweet potato fries

 

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil

5 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch long slices, then ¼ wide inch stripes

½ teaspoon of paprika

1 cup salt

¼ cup black pepper

¼ cup garlic powder

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Line a sheet tray with baking paper
  2. In a large bowl toss the sweet potatoes with just enough olive oil to coat them all.
  3. Sprinkle the paprika, salt, garlic powder and pepper on the sweet potatoes.
  4. Spread the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning them occasionally.
  6. Let them cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: Mix some mayonnaise with Sriracha sauce and you have a delicious dipping sauce for the fries!!!

Shaming my life away….

pregnant at a wedding

There is a natural order to life. Things are meant to happen in sequential order. We are taught from a young age even through playground songs that “First comes love, then come marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage”. So what happens when all of a sudden you find yourself having reversed the “natural” order of things?

I was raised mostly in Mexico, a very catholic country. There people tend to be very judgmental if you decide to jump out of line and do something that “society” doesn’t consider appropriate. Getting pregnant by your boyfriend when you aren’t married is definitely one of those situations.

When I was 16 years old and living in Mexico I found myself trying to explore who I was and experiencing a surge of hormones most teenagers are faced with. Unfortunately, I was wrecking my reputation and causing a lot of hurt to my siblings when all the rumors about me would circulate around school. At the time I lied and told my parents that I dreamed of learning a third language and I asked them if they could please send me away to boarding school. The next thing I knew I was on a plane headed to the South of France where I would do my International Baccalaureate at the Centre International du Valbonne.

The truth was that I couldn’t bear to be in my home town a second longer. Going to school every day was torture. I had a great group of friends but they would beg me to change my ways for fear of their reputations being tarnished. My little brother would get into fist fights at school defending my honor (or lack thereof) and then my dad would punish him for getting in trouble at school. It was the hardest months of my life. I couldn’t sleep at nights, I found it hard to focus at school and keep up with my school work. Which is why I came up with the idea of going away, leaving everything I had ever known behind. I was only 16 years old but somehow I knew that life was not meant to be that hard. I hoped that distance and a fresh start would be enough to help me through those difficult times and would allow my friends and siblings to mend their own lives.

Gossip is something we all fall into from time to time. We may not do it maliciously but even if we have the best intentions we can find ourselves sharing information that wasn’t ours to share. We find ourselves judging someone else when we don’t have all of the information. We may not set out to be destructive but at some point or another we have hurt someone with the words we allow to come out of our mouths.

Perhaps this is why I was so tormented when I found out I was pregnant. I used to walk to work with my massive pregnant belly and my bare ring finger with my head held low. I used to think people looked straight at my ring finger when they saw I was pregnant and that when they spotted the empty finger they were silently judging me as they walked past.

wedding 2

Pregnancy is normally a magical time for a woman. It is a time when she glows, she is growing life inside of her and everyone can witness the miracle of her growing bump. For me my pregnancy was a time of shame. No one ever came right out and said it to my face but I can imagine the conversations that took place behind my back when people back in my home town found out I was pregnant and unmarried. Not just old classmates but also aunts and uncles who told others at my wedding that they couldn’t believe my parents were celebrating me, it was shameful that I had gotten pregnant and there they were throwing me a lavish wedding. Perhaps things were a lot worse in my mind, perhaps I projected a lot of my own feelings and insecurities on others. All I know is that even after I had my daughter I continued to feel ashamed and guilty for messing up the natural order of things.

It has now been eight years since I was pregnant and I am happy to report that the guilt and shame has faded. It has been a long road to get to this place where I am happy with the way my life has turned out. Perhaps it would have been more convenient if I had gotten married and then gotten pregnant but to be honest I don’t think things would be any different. I wouldn’t love my husband more or my daughter more if I had followed the natural order of things. Many times we are our own worst enemies. When I think back to the amount of time I spent judging myself, being hard on myself and allowing the shame to consume me I want to cry. It didn’t help me, it didn’t make things easier for me and it certainly didn’t fix anything. All I am is grateful now that I lived through it, came out the other side and am stronger for it.

kids

No matter what you are going through don’t forget you are not alone. Hold your head up high and remember that this too shall pass. Things in life are temporary and we have to enjoy them while they last.

Slow Cooker Baked Ziti

finished zitti

Baked ziti is an Italian-American staple. I love that it’s so comforting, yet full of fresh, herby flavors. I decided to make things a little easier on myself and use the slow cooker instead of the oven. The best part is I didn’t have to boil the noodles first – they cook perfectly in the marinara sauce!

To brighten up this dish I add fresh basil from our herb garden, rosemary, and lemon juice to the ricotta. And with so much cheesy goodness I decided to leave ours vegetarian, but you could easily add a variety of different meats.

I love the slow cooker because after a long day I can come home to a tasty meal!!

 

INGREDIENTS

Ricotta Mix:

  • 2 eggs
  • 15oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup basil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp rosemary
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Other:

  • 1lb Penne pasta
  • 4 cups marinara sauce
  • 3 cups parmesan cheese

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Make the Ricotta Mix by beating the two eggs, adding all of the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup basil, 1/2 tbsp rosemary, 1 tbsp lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.

basil.jpg

 

ricotta mix.jpg

2. Grease the inside of slow cooker with nonstick spray or butter.

3. Add about 2 cups of pasta sauce in the bottom of slow cooker. Layer ⅓ of penne noodles on top of sauce, followed by ½ of ricotta mixture, and ⅓ of Italian cheese blend, then repeat all steps so there are 2 layers of all ingredients.

layering

4. Top with remaining penne and sauce, and cook on high for 3-4 hours, until noodles are al dente.

5. Top with remaining cheese and cook an additional 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted through.

6. Serve hot and enjoy!

I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award!!

liebster-award-wordpress-blogging.jpg

What is the Liebster Award?

In the blogging world, the Liebster Award is online recognition given by bloggers to other new bloggers for enjoying or valuing their work. It is meant to highlight and credit favorite new up and coming blogs within our writing community.  It does this by asking the blogger to share answers to 11 questions about themselves and their blog, and then encourages them to nominate blogs deserving of the award.

I was nominated by Meanderwithmeg and I am very grateful that she took the time to read my blog posts and thought I was worth nominating. The fact that anyone takes the time to read what I write in and of itself is a great honor. Being nominated for the Liebster Award is encouragement for me to keep doing what I’ve started. So here it goes….a little insight into the accidentalmommydiaries!

What is the primary reason for starting your blog?

My sister kept pestering me about how funny I am (apparently I’m hilarious…i don’t think so, but hey, who am I to say she is wrong??) and said that I have experienced a lot and would be great at writing a blog. Finally I decided to give it a shot and see if I was any good at it. I think I am still a work in progress but I definitely enjoy being open and honest about my experiences and reading what people think of my posts is very encouraging. If I can help anyone with anything they are struggling with or if I manage to make someone smile when they are having a crappy day then this blog has done exactly what it is meant to. Life is hard, people don’t always share about their struggles and a lot of people in this world go through difficult times on their own thinking they are the only ones facing this. It can sometimes defeat them but if we all open up and share with one another we somehow help each other survive the obstacles in life.

How often do you post content on your blog?

I try and post a few times a week. I have two kids and am going through house renovations so I don’t always get a chance to sit in front of the computer and pour my soul out.

Is there a story behind your blog name?

YES! I got pregnant accidentally straight out of University and it was the biggest most life altering thing that could have ever happened to me. It has kind of defined who I am for the past seven years.

Do you hire people for writing content/creating photography and videos?

I only just started this blog so I haven’t hired anyone to write. I would love to have guest bloggers to bring a treat to my readers. I have some very creating friends so if they ever wanted to create videos or snap some pics for the blog I would totally be up for it.

When you were young, what did you want to grow up to be?

I wanted to be a mother and a wife! I also wanted to own my own Bed & Breakfast. I am people person. I am an extrovert and I have the gift of hospitality. I love inviting people into my home and making them feel welcome and showing them around my town. I always dreamed of one day owning a B&B and getting to do that every week and helping people make lasting memories.

What motivates you to blog?

Sharing my experiences and hopefully helping someone with their struggles or letting them know they are not alone. I also find it therapeutic to put things down on paper.

What is your ideal morning routine?

To stay in bed until 12pm!!!! I am NOT a morning person at all.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I would want the power to heal anyone from any disease or injury.

What is your favorite country?

So far I have been to over 50 countries so choosing just one seems near impossible. I love Vienna, Dubrovnik, Hawaii, Tulum, Cambridge, Copenhagen, etc

What is your favorite thing to do abroad?

I love eating, visiting the museums and going to the supermarket. Me and my hubby feel like until we have gone to a grocery store in a foreign country we don’t really have a feel for what their way of life is.

 

Rules of the award:

  1. Thank and link back to your nominator
  2. Answer your 11 Questions
  3. Select your top bloggers

I have nominated several bloggers to be the next recipient of the Liebster Award! Here’s my list:

How to test your marriage….

kitchen remodel

It has been weeks since I have been able to write a blog post. For a while I had the time and the momentum to write from the heart but then our house remodeling got a little chaotic and I had no time to sit in front of a computer.

Let me tell you one thing, if you ever want to test your relationship or your sanity take on a renovation project. I have no idea how Christina and Tarek (#fliporflop) or Chip and Joanna (#fixerupper) manage to stay married throughout the endless hours or remodeling, renovating and decision making.

We bought our house in paradise back in October. We managed to get an amazing deal because the four bedroom house we purchased had been left in the 70’s. We had to renovate every single room of the house, every bathroom and the kitchen. We were very excited to take on this project, it was the first proper house we had bought as a couple. It had so much potential so when we sat down to make the plans for the renovation sky was the limit.

bathroom remodel

Our first problem popped up when we tried to get planning permission from the City of Coronado. Something that was meant to take three weeks turned into an 8 week fiasco. The City kept returning our plans making one correction at a time which extended things and took so much longer than we expected.

We finally managed to get the plans approved by mid-December but then the problem was Christmas and New Years. We managed to get most of the demo done but progress was very slow. Finally, in January we managed to get the ball rolling. Walls had been torn down and wall paper was scrapped off.

When problems arise the easiest person to take it out on is your spouse. When the wrong window gets delivered, the wrong paint gets used and the work isn’t progressing enough your spouse is the one person you can blow off steam with. This is a tricky situation though, as the weeks go on the hostility can do some lasting damage. I realized after a few months the importance of quality time and clear open communication.

luxury shower.jpg

The other person is always going to feel like they are doing more, they are spending more time on issues or they are more involved than the other person. Eventually, I realized this is what was causing the tension in our marriage. Of course my husband felt that I should be doing more because I was at home all day. What he failed to acknowledge (it happens often) is that when I am at home I am looking after two kids, and as any mother knows looking after two kids is not an easy task. Especially when you have to go to a building site and manage people, paint, go to Home Depot. There is only so many hours you can keep a toddler in a car seat or a seven year old in an empty house. There were times when I wanted to throw myself on the floor of Home Depot and cry from exhaustion and frustration because I didn’t know what crown molding was or how I was going to chose it for our house.

I finally asked for help. My friend Cristina looked after baby Charlie a few days while I went to the new house and painted the doors, the crown molding, the framing, etc. It really does take a village!!

Cris and Charlie.jpg

In the end it all worked out. We are finally living in our brand new beautiful dream home on our island, Coronado. This house has my sweat and tears and my husbands. Even though at times it felt like it was pulling us apart in the end it brought us together and it will bring us a lifetime of memories with our family. I now sit in my beautiful living room looking out my french doors on to my patio deck watching my son play in his yard. Life really can’t get any better than this!!

Coronado.jpg

Bruschetta for me and Bruschetta for you!

I love love love restaurants. Being served, choosing from a variety of dishes knowing that I don’t have to lift a finger is bliss. Then the fact that I don’t have to clean up or wash any dishes is also what fills my heart with joy.

Other than going out to restaurants to dine, I enjoy cooking for friends and family. When I lived in London we couldn’t always go out to dinner. Having a new baby meant that we were confined to the house when our friends had plans. So I decided to start inviting people around for dinner. Best solution ever. We got to spend time with our friends and socialize while the baby was asleep in the next room.

One of the dishes I loved making for my guests is tomato, basil and mozzarella bruschetta. As a starter it is simply delicious. It is quick to make and people always really seemed to enjoy it.

 

Brushette

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 handfuls nice mixed ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil , leaves picked
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • good-quality white wine or herb vinegar
  • 2 large French baguettes, sliced
  • 1 ½ pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Slice bread and toast under the grill/broil in the oven or in a griddle pan
  2. Rub each slice of toast with a cut garlic clove then drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Wash the cherry tomatoes, place the cherry tomatoes in a deep bowl and squash them roughly
  4. Tear the basil and put into the bowl, season with salt and pepper and add some olive oil and some vinegar
  5. Slice the mozzarella and place into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients
  6. Place the mix on top of each sliced piece of bread and drizzle with the remaining sauce, then put under the grill to lightly warm them.

 

Enjoy with friends in the comfort of your own home!

 

Bon Apettit!