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Springtime in the English countryside has been absolutely spectacular. It feels reminiscent of our home in the Pacific Northwest weather-wise, and we’ve been taking full advantage of every “partly sunny” day. This week has settled in with a bit of rain and a biting breeze so we’re sipping tea, spring cleaning, and catching up on all sorts of things. You would think that, having moved away from all our stuff, we wouldn’t have anything to spring clean. But nine months into our time here and we have a garage filled with things for donation. We recently discovered that the local church where we go to nature journal, explore, and picnic is where three of the original Salvation Army founders are buried which makes me hopeful that I can find a Salvation Army soon to donate a lot of our accumulated stuff on to.

At the start of April we met our friends from Oxford for something called Lambing Weekend which seems to be a popular thing around here, and I can see why. It essentially involved spending a few hours wandering around a local farm petting and holding baby lambs, admiring piglets, buying some early spring vegetables from the farm shop, eating food and drinking coffee. I could do this every single weekend and never tire of it, which leads me to believe that my long harbored dream of having a little farm of my own is something I should seriously pursue.

SPRING LAMBING WEEKEND ENGLANDPINSPRING LAMBING WEEKEND ENGLANDPINSPRING LAMBING WEEKEND ENGLANDPINSPRING LAMBING WEEKEND ENGLANDPINSPRING LAMBING WEEKEND ENGLANDPINSPRING LAMBING WEEKEND ENGLANDPINSPRING LAMBING WEEKEND ENGLANDPINRight now things feel so good here; something I doubted would happen in the first months we spent trying to settle in. The list of frustrations and things we miss is slowly fading, and the list of things we love and are going to miss is growing steadily. The girls do ballet and gymnastics, we do our homeschool work, and we try to get out and adventure every weekend. We have started playing with watercolor painting, and we are quickly becoming avid nature journalers. In the midst of our activities Baby Roux keeps growing (far too quickly), Gigi keeps loosing teeth and slowly transforming into a proper kid, and Lulu keeps being Lulu – that is to say a feisty, magical, hilarious tot-kid.

ENGLAND SPRINGPINENGLAND SPRINGPINENGLAND SPRINGPINENGLAND SPRINGPINENGLAND SPRINGPINENGLAND SPRINGPINENGLAND SPRINGPINENGLAND SPRINGPINMy Mom and her boyfriend came to visit mid-April for a week and it was wonderful to have family around! We had a wonderful time inviting them into our home, hosting meals, and showing them around our favorite places. We spend most of our time here walking around lakes, wandering footpaths, checking in on the local cows, staring at Roux, and picnicking at our favorite little local church so we brought them along on all of those activities. My Mom is a wonderful watercolor painter and she brought the girls watercolor “crayons” and small watercolor journals which they love. When we’re out and about they draw in them, and then paint over their drawings with water when we get home. She did some watercolor lessons with the girls during the day, and some with me at night after the kids were in bed, and helped me pick out some quality watercolor supplies for my new hobby.

spring in englandPINspring in englandPINnature journalingPINnature journalingPINspring in englandPINspring in englandPINspring in englandPINspring in englandPINnature journaling spring in englandPINnature journaling spring in englandPINspring in englandPINspring in englandPINspring in englandPINThe month of May shows no signs of slowing down. Kyle is hard at work and we’re trying to form and keep a balance of everyone’s needs. We have a trip to Salzburg, Austria planned where we’ll get to spend some wonderful days in the company of good friends from back home. Lulu will turn four this month, Roux will be five months old, and I’ll be trying not to cry over how fast they’re growing up. With life flying by, I’m finding it hard to carve out time to write here, but you can follow along on Instagram too, where I keep things more up to date and in the moment.

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I keep meaning to share this recipe, but every day everyday life seems to pull me in several different directions, often at the same time. Then, before I have a chance to sit down and focus on any given project, I find that it’s 7:30pm and the kids are in bed and all I can muster energy for is scrolling through the maddening Netflix homepage trying to find something to watch. But tonight, here I am at nearly 8:00pm and the house is mostly quiet. I can hear the girls playing with their dolls in bed and I’m alone in the living room with a glass of red wine, and stormy spring clouds filling what I can see of the sky above the identical brick houses and tall trees outside the front window. Maybe it’s because I’m still a little hungry, or maybe because it’s cozy and quiet, but here I am finally ready to tell you about my adventures with cauliflower.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER - FIVE RECIPESPINIt might seem that those two words: “adventures” and “cauliflower”, don’t really belong together. But I’m here to tell you that they do. I never ate cauliflower before we moved to England; it was not even on my radar. I can’t remember my mom ever cooking it when I was younger. I think the few times I had it as a child it had been practically boiled into a bland paste, or served like sad white cardboard alongside the flashy cherry tomatoes and dull-but-safe baby carrots on a grocery-store-assembled vegetable platter. I may have braved a piece here or there but it wasn’t until the last few years that I started to become more aware of its’ possibilities.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER - FIVE RECIPESPINIt’s no secret that my cooking experience here has been filled with the challenges of learning new names for ingredients, cooking temperatures, a spiteful convection oven, and mostly packaged and precut vegetables. But, back in the fall, we went to a farm shop on the last day it was open before closing for the fall and winter. We wandered around with a pitchfork in search of anything we could pull from the ground and take home to cook. We ended up with a few end of the season carrots, beets, and a head of cauliflower. The cauliflower didn’t look particularly appealing or special, but it wasn’t sealed in plastic, and it was something I suspected I could prepare fairly easily given the stand off I was having with the oven, and the limited cooking equipment we’d purchased.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER - FIVE RECIPESPINThe cauliflower sat on the counter for a couple of days, looking a bit sad and lonely. I felt for the cauliflower because, at the time, I felt quite like the cauliflower. I picked it up and started to pull away the leaves from the slightly waxy core. I pruned the florets from the stalk and cut them into smaller pieces. I tossed them on a sheet pan with olive oil, flake salt, and freshly ground pepper, then I opened the oven and said a little prayer that it wouldn’t turn them into lumps of coal, and closed the door. They roasted, I tossed them, they roasted a bit more. I decided it was time to pull them from the oven when they were significantly caramelized, their centers were tender and their edges crisp and almost burnt.

I divided them into bowls, sprinkled the lot with a little more flake salt, and topped them with a frizzled edged olive oil fried egg. From that humble and very simple beginning, my roasting sheet has seen a lot of cauliflower action. I’ve attempted to pull together my favorite roasted cauliflower recipes below. These recipes would do well topped with a fried or poached egg, tossed with pasta, or on their own. Also, it should be noted that each of these recipes sound like a lot, but the vegetables cook down so much that each recipe will serve two adults. I don’t recommend trying to double them as that will cause the vegetables to steam rather than roast properly!

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER – FIVE VARIATIONS

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER - FIVE RECIPESPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH FENNEL, GARLIC, ONION, AND HERBS DE PROVENCE

Ingredients.
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into small pieces
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced pole to pole
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and sliced
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
extra virgin olive oil
flake salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Toss the chopped vegetables with about 1/4 cup olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence. Spread onto a roasting sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes, until the vegetables are caramelized and crispy. Season to taste, and serve immediately.

 

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER - FIVE RECIPESPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER - FIVE RECIPESPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH ROASTED GARLIC

Ingredients.
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into small pieces
6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
extra virgin olive oil
flake salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Toss the cauliflower and garlic cloves with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Spread onto a roasting sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes, until the vegetables are caramelized and crispy. Carefully peel the garlic cloves and toss them with the cauliflower. Season to taste, and serve immediately.

 

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER - FIVE RECIPESPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER - FIVE RECIPESPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH FENNEL, ONION, ZUCCHINI, AND PARMESAN

Ingredients.
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into small pieces
1 medium zucchini, quartered and chopped
1 red or yellow onion, halved and sliced pole to pole
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and sliced
freshly grated Parmesan
extra virgin olive oil
flake salt
freshly ground black pepper 0r red pepper flakes

Directions.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Toss the chopped vegetables with about 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and either black or red pepper. Spread onto a roasting sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Toss with 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, and roast for another 15-25 minutes, until the vegetables are caramelized and crispy. Sprinkle with a bit more Parmesan. Season to taste, and serve immediately.

 

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER - FIVE RECIPESPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER - FIVE RECIPESPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH FENNEL, CHORIZO, AND MANCHEGO

Ingredients.
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into small pieces
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and sliced
1/2 cup diced chorizo sausage
shaved Manchego cheese
extra virgin olive oil
flake salt

Directions.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Toss the chopped vegetables with a few tablespoons of olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Spread onto a roasting sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Toss in the chorizo, and continue to roast for another 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are caramelized and crispy. Top with shaved Manchego. Season to taste, and serve immediately.

 

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER - FIVE RECIPESPINROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH RED ONION, ZUCHINNI, AND GORGONZOLA

Ingredients.
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into small pieces
1 red onion, halved and sliced pole to pole
7oz lardons (or bacon thinly sliced)
4oz crumbled Gorgonzola
extra virgin olive oil
flake salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Toss the chopped vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil, and the bacon, and season with a pinch of pepper and salt.* Spread onto a roasting sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes, tossing often, until the vegetables and bacon are caramelized and crispy. Sprinkle with the Gorgonzola. Season to taste, and serve immediately.

*Alternatively you can toss the vegetables with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and roast them, while cooking the bacon in a pan on the stovetop, draining it, and tossing it together at the end – this is definitely more healthy as you use olive oil for the veggies to roast in, rather than bacon fat.

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

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January and February have come and gone. The weeks keep slipping by, some feel much longer than others, but still they slip away. It’s starting to feel like spring here in England; daffodils and crocuses are blooming, stormy afternoons come after blue sky mornings. We’ve just passed the six month mark of living abroad. For Kyle, who’s been working long challenging and stimulating hours at the brewery, the time has passed quickly. For the girls and I that six months seems to have gone by very slowly. As we enter into Spring with more time outside exploring the area around us, visiting new friends, and feeling more and more at home here, I can literally feel time speeding up. The girls are doing wonderful homeschool work, Roux is growing quickly and is such a cuddly, happy boy, and the days go by in a rhythm of naps, lessons, meals, and more laundry than seems possible.

living in englandPINliving in englandPINliving in englandPINWe’re loving cozy pub afternoons, walks in local parks to feed ducks, geese, and swans, hanging laundry outside instead of on the radiators inside, getting the backyard ready for lots of spring and summer play time, exploring local churchyards and neighborhoods, baby cuddles, homeschool lessons, and solitude. It’s ironic that the hardest thing in this move is how much we miss our friends and family on a daily basis, and that one of the things we are most appreciating is the about this move is the solitude, and the freedom that comes with that. It’s hard not having many play-dates, evenings with friends, invitations to family events, but it’s also kind of wonderful to be so completely in charge of our time and our calendar.

living in englandPINliving in englandPINliving in englandPINliving in englandPINliving in englandPINliving in englandPINHere’s to the next six months, to spring, to solitude, to adventures and to quiet days at home… and to baby cuddles.

living in englandPINliving in englandPINliving in englandPIN

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  • Toni Posey - What a beautiful family and wonderful blog post! Miss youReplyCancel

A few weeks ago we piled into our little car and drove to The Cotswolds. We’d planned to leave early in the morning, adding half an hour to our estimated leaving time because newborns somehow add at least that to your estimated leaving/arrival time. We also planned to head home early as to get the kids home in time for dinner and normal bedtime. Neither of those things happened. But, because we had to stop and change diapers and nurse, and because our pub lunch took so much longer than we thought it would, and because we’re learning that for every hour the directions allot for you actually need one and a half, we got to really relax into our day in The Cotswolds. Sometimes it’s a gift when things don’t go according to plan, and schedule and structure have to take a back seat to spontaneity.

traveling england the cotswoldsPINIt was freezing cold, but sunny and it felt wonderful get get some fresh air in our lungs and sun on our faces. We tucked Roux into his cozy Solly Wrap and Lulu into our new Nuna Ivvi Savi stroller – loading the base of the stroller with extra layers of clothes, water bottles and snacks for the kids, and all of Roux’s diapering supplies and burp cloths, etc., and we… strolled. I put a lot of thought into before choosing the Ivvi Savi stroller which is a big luxury stroller vs. the Nuna Pepp Luxx which is a sort of luxury umbrella stroller.

Our main complaint when we are traveling is that we feel bogged down by stuff, which is honestly a bit claustrophobic and cumbersome. It seems we are always carrying a few bags, plus my purse, my camera, a kid or two. So, we opted for this stroller because it’s heavy enough to hang bags on, and the basket underneath is large enough for all the things we need to be out and about as a family of five. If our kids were older and needing less stuff like diapers, back up clothes, and the like, we would have opted for the more lightweight stroller. The Ivvi Savi stroller is also great for “off-roading”. It has substantial tires, and a base that’s high off the ground which makes it great for muddy footpaths or bumpy cobblestones.

Anyway, as I was saying, we mostly just wandered through the streets in Stow-on-the-Wold, meandering through fleece alleys, narrow passages designed for counting sheep as they paraded by on their way to Sheep Street (the site of a medieval sheep market), popping into a couple shops, an art gallery, and a St. Edward’s Church.

traveling england the cotswoldsPINtraveling england the cotswoldsPINtraveling england the cotswoldsPINtraveling england the cotswoldsPINWe paused for a bit letting Kyle nerd out about this door on the backside of the church which Tolkien fans (which I am not) believe is the inspiration of some Hobbit-y place called “the entrance to Moria”… again, I’m not a fan myself, and I feel that watching Lord of the Rings is a form of torture, but the door is very old and very beautiful, and that was impressive enough for me.

traveling england the cotswoldsPINAfter meandering through the little town, we got in the car and headed to find a pub for lunch. One thing we are learning with quite a few disappointments under our belts, is that you really should make a reservation at pubs especially if it’s a Sunday, and especially if it’s within a week of a holiday. We were very kindly turned away from The Fox Inn, but quickly found ourselves seated by a cozy, crackling fire at The Horse and Groom. Kyle ordered the Sunday Roast and I got Fish and Chips; I seem to have a hard time straying from this pub classic. A nice glass of red wine, a warm fire, people coming in with their dogs and their boots caked in mud, and a baby snuggled up on my lap? That’s a pretty great way to spend an afternoon.

traveling england the cotswoldsPINtraveling england the cotswoldsPINtraveling england the cotswoldsPINAfternoon gave way to an early winter evening and we loaded ourselves back up for the drive home. We headed out at golden hour and the landscape was incredibly magical. At one point Baby Roux was crying, so Kyle pulled the car over and I got out to nurse him on the side of a side road. I stood for a bit nursing him next to a field of sheep.

traveling england the cotswoldsPINThe light was gold and lavender and I felt that if I was wearing a long dress and my hair in a bun and walked far enough out into the field that I might happen upon Mr. Darcy. I knew better than to wander out into the field pretending to be Elizabeth Bennet on her way to Netherfield Park from a lesson I learned once when I was feeling very much like Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face being photographed by Fred Astaire, and I fell on the marble staircase in the Louvre. So, I just stood by the field, imagining for a moment what it would be like to live in the little cottage down the lane, and then we buckled back up and made our way home.

traveling england the cotswoldsPINWe’ve spent that last few weekends at home, chipping away at making our rental house more comfortable and home-like, but we’re getting antsy to explore more of England in the coming months, particularly the coasts, countrysides, and National Parks. Any suggestions are welcome!

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Time is flying by so quickly. It feels like Roux was just born, and it feels like he’s been a part of our family forever. It feels like we were just unwrapping Christmas presents, and now we’re getting ready to have a cozy Valentine’s Day weekend. A week from today I turn 34, and then there’s Valentine’s Day to follow what I assume will be a very quiet birthday. I’m genuinely looking forward to a nice birthday/Valentine’s weekend with my little, slowly growing family. I’m soaking up all these sweet newborn days with the knowledge that they’ll pass too quickly. You’d be surprised how many hours a day can be spent smooching a sweet baby face.

PINJust before Roux was born I whipped up a batch of homemade Almond Roca. The recipe came from my friend, Linda, along with her special Caramel Corn recipe. She taught me to make the caramel corn, but was too fatigued by her battle with cancer to make the Almond Roca with me. She gave me her recipe and talked me through it. I made it on my own last Christmas, and again this Christmas. I meant to share the recipe around the holidays, but since I was 5,000 weeks pregnant I never did. We also meant to send out Christmas cards, but that didn’t happen either. The Almond Roca is incredibly rich and sweet, it’s decadent but actually quite easy to make.

homemade almond roca recipePINhomemade almond roca recipePINLast week, Kyle said, “Why don’t we send out Valentine’s Day cards to our family and friends like Paul and Julia Child did.” Did I marry my perfect match or what? For those who haven’t read Julia Child’s memoir, her biography, or watched Julie and Julia two dozen times, Julia and her husband sent out Valentine’s cards every year from wherever Paul was stationed at the time to their friends all over the world. Slightly off-topic, but this (hilariously) edited version of Julie and Julia called Julia Sans Julie is pretty wonderful.

Anyway, when Kyle suggested we make cards, I immediately reached out to Artifact Uprising to see if they’d be interested in collaborating with me. I’ve admired their gorgeous cards for a long time. I decided to make a custom card so that we could combine a Valentine’s Day card and a birth announcement for Roux. Sending Valentine’s Day cards is something we’ve decided to make a tradition for our family since I never seem to be able to get Christmas/holiday cards out in time! If any of you want to make cards Artifact Uprising is offering a 10% code: KAAU13 – if you’re in the UK/EU you may need to select priority international shipping to get the cards for Valentine’s Day.

artifact uprising valentinePINartifact uprising valentinePINartifact uprising valentinePINartifact uprising valentinePINThe cards I created, and the Cork + Brass print stand arrived here in England surprisingly fast. Over the weekend I addressed and mailed them out. For our local friends, I made a batch of Almond Roca to be delivered with their cards, and since we have a grand total of maybe five friends here we still have more than enough Almond Roca to have with our afternoon tea through this week and into next. In fact a quiet weekend of board games, tea, and Almond Roca sounds just about right for easing into my 34th year.

homemade almond roca recipePINhomemade almond roca recipePINhomemade almond roca recipePINhomemade almond roca recipePINhomemade almond roca recipePINHOMEMADE ALMOND ROCA

Ingredients.
1 pound unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup chopped raw almonds, toasted
6.5 oz milk chocolate (preferably Hershey brand)
10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup ground/very finely chopped raw walnuts, toasted
vegetable or canola oil

Directions.
Grease a rimmed baking sheet (a baker’s half sheet size is perfect) with a bit of vegetable or canola oil.

Boil sugar and butter on high in a heavy medium sized saucepan. Stir constantly for about the first five minutes. Add the almonds all at once stirring to thoroughly combine.

Reduce the temperature a bit and continue to boil the caramel, stirring often and watching closely, until it turns a rich caramel color and your candy thermometer reaches between 300-310˚F (the crack stage).

Working quickly and carefully pour the caramel out onto the greased baking sheet, and use a rubber spatula to spread the caramel evenly onto the sheet. Allow the caramel to cool completely.

When the caramel is cool, melt the chocolates together in a double boiler. Once the chocolate is melted remove it from the heat but leave the chocolate over the hot water while you work to frost the candy.

Frost the top side of the candy with the melted chocolate, sprinkle with half of the ground walnuts, and pat the walnuts gently to set them into the chocolate. Allow the chocolate to set and cool completely.

Carefully flip the candy out onto a clean surface or cutting board. You may need to flex the sheet a bit to get it out. Don’t worry if the candy cracks in half. Frost the second side the same way you did the first side. Allow to set and cool completely before breaking the candy up into small pieces.

*Candy can be stored in an airtight container at cool room temperature for a week or two, but it’s best in the first week.

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
HOMEMADE ALMOND ROCA

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