Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wimbledon 2011.

By Liv

Nick is a member of a tennis club here in Oxford, so he had the option to enter a lottery to buy tickets to Wimbledon this year. He was lucky enough to land two sets of tickets to two different days. The first day (Monday) was a wash, literally. It poured down rain and we ended up not seeing a single second of tennis. The second set of tickets was for Saturday and it was perfect weather – it completely made up for our crummy first attempt at Wimbledon!

We had tickets to Court 1, so we were able to watch Nadal vs. Muller, Serena Williams vs. Maria Kirilenko as well as the Bryan brothers vs. Gonzales/Starace.

Even though we knew beforehand that children under 5 are not allowed in the stadium matches, we hid Stella in the backpack carrier and waited until she was asleep to sneak past the security in to our stadium seats. Even after she woke up and I held her on my lap, she was perfectly quiet and once the security man came over to inform me that children are now allowed, he then continued to say that he would allow her to stay until the end of the match (Federer!) since she was being so quiet. I think it's a sign that she will one day be playing on that court :)

 Day #1 was rainy, but this is where we WOULD HAVE sat if there were a match going on!


The highlight of the day was her Wimby bear. 

 The princess in her seat up-high.

Wimbledon try #2: Bryan brothers vs. Gonzales/Starace

  Bryan brothers vs. Gonzales/Starace

 Sleeping through the first half of Nadal vs. Muller


 Awesome seats.

 Enjoying Wimbledon's famous strawberries & cream.

 Her future's so bright, she's gotta wear shades!

Gabe & Kathy's wedding in Bristol, England.

By Liv

How lucky of us to be in England at the same time as our friends Gabe & Kathy's wedding in Bristol. The wedding ceremony was lovely and the reception was even more so. It was  held at a beautiful venue and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the groom's sister showed up as a surprise to everyone — all the way from America! What a perfect day for a perfect couple.

 Daddy & Daughter.

 We love our fascinators!

 The Swatzells.

 We were so happy to see Annie!

 And Stella was REALLY excited to see Annie, especially since she shared her champagne with her :)


 What do you think? I think they will make perfect parents!

 Nick & Gabe.

 Liv & Gabe.

A beautiful venue.

 Family portrait.

 It couldn't have been a better day for a wedding.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Our little musician.

By Liv

Stella loves to sing songs. Her favorites are "Ba-ba black sheep" and basically every song from Mary Poppins :) She's amazingly good at humming on tune. Check out her and Nick's rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"— She's our little star :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Stella-Pie's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

These gluten/egg/dairy-free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are simply delicious! I promise you won't miss any of the ingredients that are found in other recipes - try them, I dare you!

Stella-Pie's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

*As with any of my recipes, I find it's best to choose organic ingredients as often as possible.*

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C)

Combine in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy:
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil, such as Nature's Way Organic Coconut Oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana plus 3 Tablespoons apple juice (or 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce plus 1 Tablespoon extra brown sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons quality vanilla extract, such as Rodelle Organic Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 tablespoons local organic honey
  • 1 large carrot, shredded

In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients:

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, beating to combine. When the dough is smooth, add in the following, by hand, and mix well:

If the dough will not hold together at this point, slowly add 1-4 Tablespoons of apple juice, just enough to hold it together.

Use a 1/4 cup to measure out the dough, and using your palms make round balls. Place the balls of dough on a parchment-lined cookie sheet about two inches apart. Don't flatten them.

Bake in the center of a preheated oven for about 12 to 15 minutes, until they are golden. They will be quite soft until they cool, so simply lift the parchment paper out of the cookie sheet and lay on a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy with a coconut milk coffee or cream tea!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A shameless brag post: my daughter is so rad!

By Liv

Stella is 22 months old now. In my eyes, she is the most amazing person in the world. I've seen her grow from a helpless newborn to an ever-growing independent toddler. I'm proud to say that she has hit 3 huge milestones that I'm excited to share with our friends and family.

First, she now sleeps in a "big girl bed". I was worried that this transition would be difficult, but as with most anxieties that I have had with her, my worries were unwarranted. She did a great job. She now wakes up in the morning, toddles in to our bedroom and softly pokes me in the arm, whispering, "Mama, go downstairs and play?" It's a lovely way to wake up.

Second, she is potty trained! I write this with an exclamation mark because it's one of the most exciting things that has happened in my life recently. I dearly miss her cute fluffy cloth-diapered bum but keep reminding myself that maybe one day we will have another baby to use those adorable dipes, and I can re-live my cloth diaper addiction all over again.

Third, Stella now speaks in full sentences. Some of her favorite things to say are:

"Mama, I love you." or "Mama, I miss you."
"Oh no! The doggy fell down!" (or insert whatever noun you can think of in place of "doggy". She's big on making her toys fall down and then hugging and kissing them to make them feel better.)
"Dadda! Time for goat-meal!" (She calls oatmeal goatmeal.)
"Come here, Mama/Daddy/Tenzing!"
"Mama, please call Papa!" (She loves talking to her Grandparents on Skype!)

Nick and I have been amazed at how quickly she has turned from a baby to a little girl. We are soaking up every second of this beautiful time in our lives because we know that all too soon, she will be a bigger kid and will heading off to school, high school, college and moving out!

Punting the river.

Punting is not as easy as it looks. As in rowing, you soon learn how to get along and handle the craft, but it takes long practice before you can do this with dignity and without getting the water all up your sleeve.
Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (1889)
By Liv

Luckily, Nick was a good sport and agreed to be the punter. He did a fantastic job for his first time. Stella enjoyed sitting with her friend, Rahul and her new friend, Areej, while we floated down the canal and on to the Thames River, known as the Isis in Oxford. From our punt, we could see Christ Church Cathedral, Magdalen College and the vibrant bright green fields and foliage that makes Oxford one of the most beautiful cities in Britain.

 Our two boats. I have to admit, our punter was better than theirs :)

 Stella and her buddy, Rahul.

 Stella said, "Mama, that water is cold!"

 Friends :)

 Enjoying the ride.

 Our trusty punter.

 A beautiful view from our boat.

Geese, swans, ducks and their babies floated along just inches from our punt.

Country of Origin Party.

By Liv

A friend of ours, Meg McCosker, had a lovely idea: to host a party to celebrate all the different countries that some of the MBAs came from. The rules of the party were to wear some clothing to represent your country and bring along a food that was specific to your country.

Since I see myself as Mexican and American, and since American food (and clothing) seemed boring to me, I decided to stick with the Mexican side. I dressed in a latin-inspired outfit and made my famous coconut flan to share with everyone. It was a hit. Better yet, Nick decided to join me and dress as an American tourist in Mexico: perfectly paired with a sombrero and a candy-filled piñata. The piñata was, of course, a highlight of the party. We had a great time and send many thanks to the McCoskers for inviting us. We can't wait to visit all of our Oxford friends in their countries of origin after the school term is over!


 American PB&Js.

 Renee, the loud-talking American :)

 Nick and Pete contemplating the logistics behind hanging the piñata... indoors.

 Friends from all over the world.

 Renee tried but failed.

Get it, Holly!

Edinburgh, Scotland.

By Liv

I'm really behind on my updates, sorry! We went to Edinburgh, Scotland a few weeks ago and had a lovely time. Edinburgh reminds me a lot of Oxford (old buildings: beautiful architecture/castles) but the main difference is that there are mountains, and the castles up on the mountains make for an amazing skyline.

Edinburgh was one of our favorite places we have visited. There's a never-ending list of things to do there. We stuck to our usual plan which includes wandering around, seeing the main attractions and playing at local playgrounds with Stella – while enjoying copious amounts of food in between our adventures.

 We saw a sign advertising margaritas and Mexican food. We just HAD to stop in!

 The Castle.

 The Castle.

  The Castle.

 We arrived at the Castle just in time to see their daily cannon shooting extravaganza.

 The cannon shooting is followed by a musical performance by men in kilts. Awesome!

 I was probably a little too excited to see the men in kilts.

 So much history, so little time.

 Admiring the view from the top of Edinburgh.

 I couldn't escape!

 Stella said, "Oh, look Dad! A horse!"

 Playground break!

 The Royal Britannia: Britain's royal cruise ship. Decommissioned in 1994 but open for tours.

 A flag for each country on board the Royal Brittania. 

 The royal dining hall on board the Royal Brittania.

 "The Queen".

 Such a lovely ship!