The hardest time to be an expat

One of the hardest times to be an expat is when you find your heart breaking over something which is happening thousands of miles away.  Yes, there are phone calls and skype sessions, but can never take the place of actually being there.

This time I was lucky.  This time there was nothing stopping me from flying home.  Yet even now, sitting on the second of three flights, I find myself still terrified that I won’t make it back in time.

I saw my Grandma at Christmas.  She was a little bit older, but still very much the strong steady woman I’ve always known her to be.  Both of her parents lived well into their nineties and I always imagined there would be more time for me to spend with her.

Yet in the last two weeks there have been two phone calls which changed all of that.  The first from my Father informed me that my Grandmother had an episode and had lost her vision.  They thought it was a mild stroke and that her vision would return.  It turns out the doctors were right about her vision, but wrong about the stroke.

Which leads to the second phone call from my Dad.  The even harder one.  The one where he told me that it wasn’t a stroke.  The one with the words, two centimetre tumour at the top of her brain stem.  My Dad reassured me that Grandma’s okay.  She’s at peace.  I’m not surprised by that.  I’ve never known her to be any other way.

She doesn’t have much time left.  Eventually the tumour will kill her.  Slowly her body will fail her as it impairs various functions.  Whether it’s 3 months, 3 weeks or 3 days that remain I don’t know, but I want to be there.  I want to make it in time.  I want my Sister, my Aunts, my Uncles, and my Cousins all to make it home as well.  I want her to know how very much she means to us.

The best any expat can do in a situation is leave as soon as they can and stay for as long as they.  Exactly what I plan on doing.


This post was written while I was in the middle of the second of three flights I took to get home.  

I made it in time.  I saw my Grandmother today.  She was having a good day and wasn’t in any pain.  I got to tell her that I love her and I will see her again tomorrow after I’ve slept.  

Menu Plan Monday

Meal Plan - Menu Plan

It’s been ages since I last blogged a menu plan.  It’s not that I haven’t been planning – I just haven’t been sharing.  This week is actually a pretty standard set of meals at our house.  The Boy’s decided that he’s a vegetarian (who will eat fish) once again, so I’m back to preparing meals that will easily accommodate everyone.

Tuesday night has been left up to Hubby because I’m off the London to represent Mature Students at NUS meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I’m hoping it all goes well and that I find somewhere amazing to eat dinner Tuesday night.  {If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!}

Our Weekly Menu Plan

Monday the 12th: Quick & Simple – Spicy Broccoli Pasta

Tuesday the 13th: Hubby’s Choice

Wednesday the 14th: Homemade Vegetable Balti with Basmati Rice

Thursday the 15th: Penne with Tuna, Tomato & Sweet Corn

Friday the 16th: Homemade Fish & Chips

Saturday the 17th: Pasta in Tomato Sauce Loaded with Vegetables & Cheese

Sunday the 18th: Sausages (Both Veggie & Normal), Potatoes, Peas, Onions, Carrots, Parsnips, Yorkshire Pudding & Gravy

What are you serving for dinner this week that’s quick and easy? I’d love to know what you’re cooking!

As always, you can find more menu plans at Orgjunkie & more meal plans At Home with Mrs M!


Today I’m stuck.  I have started writing three different blog posts and been unable to finish even one.  I’m feeling a bit scattered and I’m sure that’s part of it.  Some day the words simply don’t come easily – so instead of forcing words on to the page when they simply don’t want to come so instead I’ll leave you with something that reminds me that it’s okay.

2013-05-19 10.16.02

Weekends Require Special Breakfasts

When I was growing up weekday breakfasts were always routine affairs that consisted primarily of cereal. My mom taught Mathematics at a school a good 20 to 25 minute drive from our house so it was on the weekends that she would cook or bake and make breakfast a special meal. Decades later, I still firmly believe that weekends require special breakfasts. Sitting down to a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal just doesn’t cut it on Saturday and Sunday. Still somehow, last Sunday morning I found myself in a bit of a dilemma – the Boy wanted pancakes and we had no eggs in the house. I’ve never had good luck with vegan pancakes in the past, but I pulled my go-to vegan cookbook off the shelf and decided to find a new recipe to try. vegan chocolate chip pancakes amie 400 However, this recipe did not fail me.  The pancakes were rich, chocolatey,  fluffy, and pretty much everything I had dreamt that they could be.

“Mom these are delicious!” – The Boy

Not only did the boy devour two giant six-inch pancakes Sunday morning, but he had another two for breakfast on Monday morning.  They are simply that good! 

Vegan Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 4 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 7 - 9 Six inch Pancakes

Serving Size: 1 - 2 Pancakes


  • 2 cups (250 g) plain/all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (27 g) cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate
  • 1 & 1/2 cups (355 mL) non-dairy milk - I used unsweetened almond milk!
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (88 g) non-dairy chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (115 mL) additional non-dairy milk
  • Oil spray - If not using a non-stick pan


  1. In a large bowl or batter bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda/bicarbonate. You may want to sift them to stop the cocoa powder from clumping.
  2. In a measuring jug mix 1 & 1/2 cups (355 mL) of the non-dairy milk with all the oil and sugar.
  3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until lump free. If the mixture seems too thick add non-dairy milk until it is pourable.
  4. Fold in the non-dairy chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into a hot non-stick skillet 1/2 cup (or ladle full) at a time. Wait for the edges to begin to lift from the pan and the top to be nice and bubbly before flipping and cooking for an additional minute.
  6. Enjoy hot or cold! They’re sensational with strawberry or cherry jam!


These also keep well in the fridge or the freezer for reheating in the microwave!

My Blogging Future

I know I’ve written before about how my blog is no longer really about same things as when I started blogging back in 2009. Lately it’s been sorely neglected and I’m sorry for that because I don’t want to let go and let it die.

I’ve taken some time away from lots of stuff lately. I’m discovering what I want my new normal to look like and I thought that rather than writing my heart out today, I’d share some photos of the things I love and should probably be writing more about.

1) This gorgeous child of mine…
The Boy


… who still holds my hand when we’re walking home from school.
Holding Hands


2) Finishing off crafty projects…

Knitting & Crochet Bits


… like this granny-stripe blanket.
Progressive Granny Stripe Blanket


3) Whipping up yummy eats on the stove-top…
Vegan Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes


… and delicious treats in the oven.
Chocolate Chip Cookies


Most of all I hope that in my blogging future I share the moments of happiness and joy that stand out during the things that happen every day along with the surprises that come out of the blue. They both matter quite a lot. My blogging journey isn’t just about being an American Mom in England, but capturing the moments that matter.

{PS – Those chocolate chocolate chip pancakes pictured above are amazing & vegan & I will be sharing the recipe tomorrow!}

A New Me…

A New MeOver the last month, I have consciously sought to make changes in my life. You see, I’d arrived at one of those times in life where a small comment someone else made caused me to stop and reconsider all that I was trying to do. I’ve written before about trying to do too much. I like to think I have the time do it all, but I don’t.

My work-life balance simply wasn’t sustainable. I was spending so much time busy trying to stay on top of everything, that I ended up forgetting things and I never managed to get as much done as I had hoped to. So I hit pause on a bunch of things, saw the GP, and deferred a number of things to next academic year.

In some ways it’s been lovely, I have the time I need to really be able to focus on my MEng research project and to also do the things I need to do so I feel whole again. I realised that I needed desperately to become a new me. I need to be physically active. I need to craft, cook, bake, blog, knit, crochet, read (things that aren’t research related), but most of all I need to enjoy the time I do have to spend with the Boy.

In fact, because I took a bit of a step backwards with Uni stuff, I was able to show the Boy how to use paper mache to make the pirate’s hat he was meant to take into school the week after half-term. I can’t say that crafting with my child is always fun – he grew tired after painting about 1/4 of the brim, but it is always worthwhile.  He also made an adorable little parrot with an eye-patch and a peg-leg to take into school out of some toilet paper rolls tubes that we’d originally painted ages ago to turn into monsters.

Seven days into February I did something else for me. I joined a gym that’s within walking distance of one of the rail stations I usually travel from.  It’s a women’s only gym where I have unlimited access to classes, personal trainers, and all the equipment I need.  However, none of that is what sold me on this particular gym – that’s all down to E who showed me around and not only is a personal trainer, but also a back injury specialist & lover of sparkly shoes!

I feel incredibly old writing that having access to a back injury specialist is important to me, but it really is.  When I was four (I think) I fell from the second floor to the first floor of my parents house and landed on the dining room table.  (That’s first to ground for all the Brits reading this!)  Due to that fall and a number of other incidents over the years a bit of my spine is compressed and while I want to be active and fit again, I don’t want to hurt myself further in the process.

I would be remiss if I neglected to mention that turning 33 came in the middle of all this and made me realise that I might only have lived one-third of my life so far. I want to do things now that make the next two-thirds as amazing as they possibly can.  I want to make sure that not only am I physically here when my son needs me, but that I’m healthy enough to truly be present.

Have you made any changes in your life recently?  I’d love to hear about what steps you’re taking so that you feel in control of your life.  

Wine and Vegetarian Food Pairing

Glass of red wine on table uidMany people are switching to vegetarian food not only to lose weight, but also to have better health. Same goes with wine because of its numerous health benefits when taken in moderation. According to a research conducted by the Queen Mary University in London, “Red-wine tannins contain procyanidins, which protect against heart disease.” In separate studies, results showed that wine promotes long life and reduces the risk of getting a heart attack, stroke, cataracts, colon cancer, and diabetes.

With all of this being said, it comes as no surprise why most people prefer pairing their vegetarian food with wine. If you are a new wine drinker, then choosing the right wine can be quite difficult. With the number of choices of M&S Wine, finding the perfect wine to match your favorite vegetarian dish can be made easy if you follow some of the tips below.

People often refer their choice of wine by the old rule “white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat”. With that in mind, you won’t have any problem pairing meat dishes with wine. But how will this rule work with vegetarian dishes? I read an article published in Wine Lovers Page that suggested pairing white wine with green vegetables and red wine with brown vegetables.

White wines like the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 goes well with a bowl of green beans, a vegetarian risotto, a spinach quiche, and English asparagus. Make sure to avoid salad dressings that are vinegar-based because they don’t compliment with wine. If you are in the mood for some pasta to match with your white wine, then a good choice is the Fettuccine Primavera.

Red wines like the Schug Pinot Noir 2011, on the other hand, can be paired with tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, brown or red beans, and other root vegetables. Mushrooms such as shiitakes, morels, porcini, and chanterelles are also perfect for red wines. For the pasta lovers, I highly suggest Eggplant Parmigiana for your favorite red wine.

This is a contributed post that appears in line with my disclosure policy.  

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