Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How to survive being confined to the couch

I am currently on day 8 of being inside. Day 8. Day freaking 8. Okay, that's a lie. One day when Nazi Nurse (aka my husband) was at the corner shop I took out the recycling. It was thrilling... the possibility of a pigeon sighting, the smell of our neighbours 18 million garbage bags and the overgrown nature of our garden were already more exciting that our couch. That was on day 4.

This is how I have filled my time and *attempted* to not loose the plot completely.

1. Online shopping. So so so much online shopping. I now recognise the drivers for the delivery companies...I'm convinced they think I only own mismatched pjs, no proper clothes or a hair brush.  I have gotten things delivered that no one ever needs to get delivered. 99p shoe horns. Batteries. Light bulbs. Basically anything that let me feel like I was accomplishing something without actually leaving the house....and of course it has to have free shipping!

2. Taking daily update photos of your rash/blisters/scabs and whatsapping them to anyone who has shown the slightest concern for your wellbeing. I blame my father for my love of disgusting things such as scabs and popping zits/blisters. The incredibly insanely amazingly awesome display my body put on over the past week and a half has been intriguing (and horribly painful) to say the least. My family have been photographically updated as to the state of my body at least daily. How lucky for them!

3. Obsessing over things that do NOT need to obsessed over. For example I am going on my honeymoon to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam at the end of the month. The amount of research I have put into finding THE perfect sandals may have been sllllllllllllightly overboard. I may have convinced myself that our beach and eating holiday is actually going to consist of trekking across the jungle, climbing trees with Tarzan. There is a 0% change of us doing anything beyond a short hike. My 'zeal' for my purchases was shown to me when Andrew had tears of laughter rolling down his face while I explained the features of my new all rubber sandals, explaining that "they are rated as the best walking sandal during the rainy season in Thailand". Slightly. Overboard. 

4. Jigsaw puzzles. Andrew lovingly bought me a puzzle to fill my time. I spent hours doing the edge and starting to fill in what I could of the centre. He then spent all day Saturday, Saturday evening and then Sunday morning completing it. Lesson learned...add doing puzzles together to the list of things that we need to improve on. Along with how to share the duvet and the last piece of dessert. 

5. Trying to fix things. Trying is the operative word here. Yesterday Andrew had come home to find that I had effectively stretched my "perfect" new walking sandals to fit an elephant. (Note: the benefit of all rubber sandals is you can stretch them. This is a dangerous endeavour I quickly discovered). When he encouraged me to rethink about the size I had chosen that my shoes should be I may have again used the quote "I researched very carefully...". That may have been the case. What I didn't think about is how to correctly assess the size of my foot. After soaking in boiling water the sandal straps are now thankfully no longer appropriate for a hippo.

All in all it really hasn't been that bad. The first 6 days I slept all day, waking up only to take more pain killers and fix the pillows that propped me up and stopped my from rolling onto my blisters of death. Hopefully my time on the couch is nearing the end!!!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Turns out I am NOT the strongest woman in the world.

This week I have been broken by illness. And let me tell you, as a French (okay former French) this means a lot. Members of the French family do not get ‘ill’. They feel slightly less awesome, take some Tyelenol and move on. They do not let something as silly as an illness affect them. This would be weak. We are not weak. We are strong. During my five years of teaching in England (yes Grandma, it has been five years instead of the promised one, something I am forever being reminded of) I have taken one day off work for illness. One day. This week I completely shattered my almost perfect attendance record. I have not left the house since Tuesday. This is Saturday. It turns out the French mantra of “You’re not ACTUALLY sick” doesn’t always apply. 

This is the progression of my illness (another thing the French family loves is a good, detailed description of anything less than nice, the more disgusting the better).

Saturday: “Hmm, my skin feels weird. I must drink more water, drinking more water fixes everything.”

Sunday: “Andrew if you come near my skin I will kill you. Literally kill you. Don’t even think of touching my skin. Everything hurts!! I must drink more water, that will help.”

Monday: “Weird, red patches. Nothing a French can’t handle! And those feelings of wanting to puke every 20 minutes are easy to ignore. To distract myself I will pretend I am a frog and play frog tag with the children.”

Tuesday: “Awesome, the patches have grown and now stretch around my body. Lovely, I have just woken up and I already feeling like garbage. That’s fine, there is only a week and 4 days left of work, only a weak person would admit defeat. Today I shall just walk slightly less like a drill sergeant to work to let my body have quiet time before I roll on the ground, jump through hoops (literally) and then teach long division.” 2 hours later…. “Okay, feeling dizzy. And pukey. Will. Not. Admit. Defeat. I can teach division from a sitting position! It’s all about compromising with your body!”

Tuesday afternoon: Call my Grandma for sympathy, “Alicia, it sounds like you have shingles. Go to the clinic.” “No, we Frenches don’t go to the clinic. We are tough.” Call my mother for sympathy, “Alicia, stop being like your father. Go to the clinic. Go now. GO. NOW.” Clinic nurse, “You have shingles. It’s going to get worse. No treatment for such tough, Navy Seal French family members like you! You can suffer through it using all of your experience of suffering!” (Okay, that may have been a slight exaggeration).

Wednesday:  “BAHHHHHHH!! LOOK AT MY BODY! I AM A HUMAN SNAKE!!” Andrew- “You’re not going to work.”
Alicia- “It’s fine, as long as I take a taxi, move slowly, sit all day, nap at lunch and no one touches me all day long I’ll be totally fine!”
Andrew- “You’re not going to work.”
Alicia- Pouty face.
Andrew- “If you go to work you’re going to end up looking like a human snake on our honeymoon.”
Alicia- “I’m not going to work.”

Thursday: “THE PAINNNNNNNN! It can’t possibly get worse!! The blisters can’t possibly grow any larger! Now I look like a zombie snake!!!!”

Friday: “ARGHHHHH!! It hurts ten bazillion times worse! The blisters are growing!!!!! Now I look like a zombie snake with a sunburn!!!”

Saturday: “AHHHHHHHHHHH!! They have turned PURPLE!! Purple hurts more!!!! Purple is the colour of pain!!!!! Now I look like a nasty blistered Barney/Teletubby zombie snake!!”

Conclusion: I thought I was tough. I am not. Shingles are stronger than me. Shingles can break even the strongest of the Frenches!

Note: I would have attached photos as I think the blisters are incredibly awesomely nasty but for some reason I have a feeling that everyone else may not feel the same way. However, I have been updating my nearest and dearest with daily blister updates photos. How lucky are they?!?!?!?

Monday, June 1, 2015

12 trains in 4 days and 1 human train wreck.

This week I ventured north from our lovely metropolis to bonnie Scotland. My mom always tells me that I pack too much into my time off. This time I think she was right....which I have to admit is annoying.  In 4 days I have taken 12 trains. None of them less than 45 minutes. I have sat in my reserved seat, someone else's reserved seat, the floor and in the luggage rack. While I would LOVE to say that each of the 12 trains was taken with grace and sophistication that would be be slightly off from the truth.

Lessons I have learned on the train(s):
1. When your gut instinct says "don't put your favourite umbrella that your sister bought you and you only use when you want to look gorgeous while trudging through the rain" in the luggage rack, DON'T put it in the luggage rack. You will forget it there are dwell on your lost umbrella for days to come. It will also pour for the rest of your trip leaving you looking less than gorgeous while trudging through the rain. 

2.  When making the inevitable dash for your train be sure you put the correct ticket through the barriers before charging through. They will not open with a very used and very old ticket. You will be stuck. People will look. You will feel stupid. 

3. Read the platform carefully. Very very carefully. 11A and 11B are two very different platforms with two very different trains. Sprinting down the platform 11 and jumping on the first train you see won't go as smoothly as you may hope. 

4. When attempting to run from one train to another in less than 30 seconds be sure to be the first person off the train. Do not get stuck behind an 89 year old lady with 2 walking sticks and a desire to have a chat with the ticket collector directly in the door of the train. It isn't the most time efficient way to exit the train. 

5. Don't assume that you correctly remember your departure time from when you booked your ticket months ago. Your memory isn't very good, not very good at all. You will end up being "that" woman running through the station shouting "excuse me, excuse me, MOVE" because there is no way you are paying for another full price ticket!

Friday, May 15, 2015

When you are tired of London you are tired of life!

Reasons why I love living in London:

1. There are so many people that when you do outrageously embarrassing things its fairly likely you are safe from having to see the people that laughed at you again. For example when you can't find the post-office even when you know the address and have walked up and down the street many times and then have to go into a store and ask if it is hidden in anyway only to have the man tell you that no, they haven't cleverly disguised the post-office to keep it safe from foreigners you are actually standing directly across from it the sign it just above eye level.

2. The sun. One has no idea the impact that sunshine has on a person! I used to believe that the great British outdoors was the place where you get soaked eyeballs to toes as busses drive by you instead of stopping as your clearly wanted them to.  London has taught me that the wondrous British outdoors is actually a place of sunshine and busses rammed full of stinky armpits just waiting for you to get a close inspection while looking for a place to hold on before you trip over a stroller.

3. Weekends have potential, amazingly exciting potential! Each weekend we can enjoy walking through perfectly manicured gardens, shopping in the most temptingly sparkly stores or relaxing in cafes and pubs (depending on who won the coin toss) decorated with treasures from hundreds of car-boot (yard) sales.

4. Weeknights possess hidden excitement as well! I'm sure this is the same across our tea-loving country I'm just luck enough to now have a job which allows me to enjoy my evenings instead of colour coding adverbs or researching how people in the Stone Age built their houses. Either way, London has intriguing exhibitions open late enough for the briefcase-bearing office workers to attend, shops which don't close at 5 and of course far too many delicious delicacies to enjoy...all on a school night!

5. London is pretty. It is beautiful, charming and delightful. I throughly enjoy my daily walks to work, drinking in my surroundings. Okay, I don't particularly enjoy my morning trudge while frantically checking my watch every 2 seconds wondering why I needed to try and braid my hair when I was already late but the walks home are rather pleasurable indeed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Creative cauliflower croquettes

In our Veg Box (more on this later) we were graced with one of my favourite, versatile vegetables...cauliflower! Now I have had some cauliflower successes and complete and utter fails. Once I tried to make cauliflower garlic bread which was plastered all over Pinterest. A fail. A weird, wobbly, totally not wonderful recipe fail. Pinterest can make things look oh so beautiful online but end up oh so horrendous in real life. However I pushed through and pursued....okay not really. I gave up that recipe and tried another. I'm not a fan of trying things again when they fail. Chances are if I failed the first time I'll fail the next. Why beat a dead horse??? 

Always this time I read a few cauliflower recipes and combined them into my own version of cauliflower croquettes. Yum! And not a total fail, yay! Perhaps slightly overcooked but whatever, who cares. I served them with a salad and my homemade ranch dressing

1 medium head of cauliflower (mine was frozen as we couldn’t cook it fast enough)
1 tablespoon Italian herbs
1 clove of garlic
3-4 green onions
pepper to flavour 


  1. Put the cauliflower and Italian herbs in the food processor and whiz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Because my cauliflower had been frozen and then defrosted I then used paper towel to soak up the extra moisture. Put the cauliflower into a mixing bowl. 

  2. Use the food processor to chop the garlic and onion. Add to the bowl of cauliflower and herbs. Begin to mix in flour, a little at a time, until the stickiness is almost gone and you are able to form the croquettes (aka flattened cauliflower balls). 

  3. I shaped mine into 1cm thick circles, about 3cm across, then put them on baking paper to allow for easy transfer to the fryer. I made the mistake of trying to fry them when they were still very sticky but able to stay in shape on the baking paper. They quickly made the deep fryer look as if it was a bowl of cauliflower cereal. Not good. 

  4. Fry them on a low heat to ensure the inside cooks before the outside burns. This is a lesson I clearly needed to learn the hard way. Mine were in the deep fryer for about 5 minutes at 140ÂșC. They looked rather dark on the outside but I found this was the best as the inside of the croquettes were cooked through. You could also shallow-fry, cook them in a frying pan or in the oven as well. Enjoy while nice and hot!
I hope you enjoy! 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Can't live without my RANCH!

Growing up in North America I have a certain love for deliciously creamy salad dressings. Thousand Islands, Ranch, Caesar....yum! Used not only on salads but as a dipping sauce for almost anything, think of chicken nuggets, pizza crusts or your pinky finger. Since we have been trying to eat a more simple diet I haven’t been buying my favourite luscious dressings, not that you can find the exact thing in the UK anyways. We have a few staple dressing recipes, but as we eat salad almost daily they are getting rather boring. So I turned to Pinterest, duh, and found a lovely ranch recipe!

As always, all ingredients (okay as many as possible) were organic. I used my dressing as a dipping sauce for wedges, salad dressing and a veggie dip later in the week. 

Ranch Dressing

3/4 cup low fat mayo
3/4 cup low fat sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 green onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of parsley (leave out the tough/thick stems)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch salt
pinch pepper
1/4 cup milk

  1. Put the green onions, garlic, parsley and olive oil into a food processor and ‘whiz’ until you have the desired consistency. I wanted the parsley to be a bit bigger simply to look nice in the dressing!
  2. Either add the rest of the ingredients into the processor or, if yours isn’t big enough as  ours isn’t, I added it to the mixer with the whisk attachment. 
  3. Let the flavours come together for at least 10 minutes before serving. 

Note: This makes a ton. Quite obvious when looking at the quantity one would assume, but I was just excited for my favorite dip! I also found that it went a bit runny by the next day so I would suggest making it the day you are planning on serving it. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Home is where the crazy is!

Trips home are so valuable, creating memories which I hold very dear to my heart. They are also very enlightening. My family has always told me that I was the drama queen of the family…turns out they lied. My family is totally and completely insane. I am not even remotely unique in my ability to ‘stretch the truth’ for dramatic effect. You may question me, wonder if I am yet again making something more exciting than it truly is. I will let you decide, using our 2015 family photo shoot as your evidence.

Trying out the new Christmas presents.

Playing the classic family game of Monopoly.

Attempting to take a nice family photo while Mom adorns my hair with branches.

A regular cross-Atlantic Skype chat.

And if you were still questioning the insanity levels of my family...
this should clear up any and all doubts.

Ps. I love every last one of my totally insane family members!! After all, normal is just boring!