We are a small, happy family of four. My husband, a baby, a dog and me. My husband works on a yacht. A large, luxury megayacht which tends to be based in some fairly fabulous places. The thing is, where the boat goes, we go! When she was was just eight weeks old our daughter, Coco, boarded her first trans-Atlantic flight and since then we haven't stopped. This is a blog of our rather unusual yet adventurous life. No two days are the same.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Life's a Beach

What an absolutely lovely weekend. Other than Angus not being around to share it with us it was pretty much perfect. After the walking excitement of Friday (which hasn't happened again since by the way - such an anti-climax) I kick started the weekend with movie night. The Bounty Hunter is fairly innocuous, but I wouldn't rush out to see it. The best thing about it is Gerard Butler who I can't help having quite a crush on. It's the rugged look.

I also managed to finish the book I have been reading for the last goodness knows how many months! 'The Art Of Racing In The Rain' should have been the sort of book I leaf through quickly and easily but it took me forever, partly because reading does nowadays and partly because it never completely grabbed me. Lovely idea (book written by the family dog) but you felt it could have been much better. Sorry Mr Stein. So moving on to 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' which I have been itching to read for ages now but have this thing about not starting a new book before I have finished the old one. It is such a silly rule as I am sure I wasted an inordinate amount of hours reading so much rubbish.

On Saturday Coco and I hit the beach with a whole load of - wait for it - new friends! So exciting to have met some lovely people to hang out with. It is amazing the difference it makes to your general feeling of well-being knowing that there is someone just down the road who you can drop a quick text and meet for a coffee. It's not just me but Coco too. She loves having another baby around to interact with. For the four hours we were at the beach there was no stopping the babies, they were on the go constantly, swimming, playing, eating food, eating sand and eating more sand. After a tea of banana and animal crackers, because I was preoccupied by wine and socialising (another fine example of responsible parenting!), Coco literally passed out as soon as we got home and slept for a remarkable 13 hours!!

As if this wasn't enough for one weekend, the Sunday was spent packing for our impending UK visit until I became more and more distracted by the beautiful weather outside and decided to pack a picnic tea and head out on a mini adventure. I have wanted to try the Ben Utter Trail to the Stepstone Falls for a while now so why not seize the day? I have to say, the 5.5 miles was fairly arduous with Coco in the backpack but it was worth it. It was a gorgeous walk and the waterfalls were lovely. Apparently they are even better in the spring, they were quite dry with all the hot weather we've been having but very pretty nonetheless.

I have to confess to having slightly achey legs this morning! Is it a sign of age?

Friday, July 16, 2010

One Step At A Time

I have to confess to feeling a little intimidated about my blogging. I was writing with such confidence but over the last few days I have been introduced to a whole new blogging community that I had no idea was out there. Don't get me wrong, I can not tell you how exciting it is to have new people reading about our lives and sharing their thoughts, I absolutely love it. However, it has meant I have started actually reading a lot more blogs and basically they are so bloody good! On one hand I am completely inspired and on the other I am wondering who the hell I think I am participating in this world of interesting, creative people? Much respect!

Anyway, I am participating and I have got news so I will plough on and hope that I don't appear too out of my depth. Coco, at the tender age of just 11 months, took her first real steps today! I was so excited I nearly squealed the house down and I am not generally a squealer. I worry sometimes that I don't get overly enthused about by beloved daughters achievements but today I made up for it. She has been doing one or two steps between strategically placed pieces of furniture for a week or so now but today was the real deal. Today, she was in the middle of the room with no support at all (wearing new shoes which I am sure she was showing off in) and she took a grand total of five steps! She even stopped in between each one to get her balance and have a little giggle. The feat was only interrupted by the fact she was clapping at herself so much that an uncontrollable wobble ended with her sitting down heavily on her nappy padded bottom.

We celebrated by sitting on the floor together and sharing a bowl of freshly made popcorn - most of which ended up being thrown around the kitchen.

Five steps count as first steps right? I'm not over reacting about this?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Short But Sweet

I love our life, I really do. We get to see all of these fabulous places, make lots of new friends (yes, I am making some friends now!) and we are at least in the same country as each other but sometimes it feels like we are grabbing little pockets of time together here and there. Angus was back from a trip on Tuesday and then gone today, we had barely drawn breath and he was packing his bag again. Such is the life we choose.

It didn't help that yesterday was, shall we say, a little fuggy. When will I learn that mid-week drinking is never the best idea but mid-week drinking with a 10 month (nearly 11 month!) old is definitely NOT a good idea. With the end of a charter there generally tends to be a few celebratory drinks so Coco and I met Angus from work for a cocktail. Well, when has 'a cocktail' ever really meant 'a cocktail'? Three Bellini's later and Coco has been put to bed in her buggy and we are on a roll! A fine example of responsible parenting?!

Luckily, a swimming lesson yesterday morning helped to clear my head and I was ready to face the day.

We have had a serious change of weather on this side of the Atlantic, having seen no rain (other than the odd 5 minute downpour) for six weeks the last 48 hours have been wet, wet, wet. This offered me the excuse for some home time and the opportunity to perfect my sugar-free fruit muffin recipe. This is my third batch now and Coco absolutely loves them. They are a delicious, guilt-free snack and great for when you are out and about. She is even allowed them at nursery as they qualify as being healthy enough. So it is time to share it with you. For those dairy-free cooks amongst you, I have made them with and without the milk an they are equally as yummy.

Mama Lou Lou's Fruit Muffins

1 cup self-raising flour (or 1 cup plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda)
1 egg
1 ripe banana mashed (I've used 2 when they needed using up and makes them lovely and sweet)
1 large apple peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup oil (use a veg based oil. I have used veg, olive and sunflower and all work just as well)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tbsp milk

- Heat oven to 180 C
- Whisk together the egg and oil
- Mix the flour, cinnamon, chopped apple and sultanas in a large bowl
- Add and egg/oil and mashed banana to the flour and mix carefully
- Add the milk (if using milk)
- Bake for 15 - 20 mins

I make mini-muffins as they are a better snack size for Coco and the above recipe makes about 20. They freeze really well too!

Enjoy! x

Monday, July 12, 2010

Oh What a Night!

Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack, JACK - you didn't disappoint me. Once again, Jack Johnson delivered a phenomenal  concert for his To The Sea Tour - and this time, it was even more special because I had my gorgeous Coco with me. The only dampener was the fact that Angus didn't manage to make it. When I realised that I would be going it alone, I nearly chickened out. After all, dealing with a ten month old baby alone, at a pop concert, with 19,000 people milling around is a little daunting. However, I made the decision - maybe not an entirely sensible one - that I would give it a go. After all, I could always come home if it all got too much.

Needless to say, it was all absolutely fine. Luck was on our side in that the rain held off as I don't think it would have been possible if both Coco and I were drenched, and what started off as a scorching day cooled slightly. Coco was totally over excited all evening with all of the people, the music, the lights and the attention she got from everyone. She was however, completely oblivious to the highlight of my night. Before going into the venue, I found a pleasant grassy area under a tree with a picnic table. There was nobody around so Coco and I set up camp for our picnic tea and run around before getting pj's on being secured in the sling for the rest of the night. Just on the other side of the fence was the warm-up stage and although we couldn't see anything we could here G. Love and ALO playing an acoustic warm up set. It was perfect. Then, I thought I recogized the voice and sure enough, Jack joined them for a couple of numbers - I was over the moon. I felt like we had just heard a little secret bonus track. But that wasn't it. A couple of security guards came and stood by the fence and said lovely things about Coco and then the next thing, a gate opens and out walks... G. Love!!! Followed by... Zach Gill!!! Followed by... JACK JOHNSON!!! They were literally about three meters from us. I just stood there like a lemon and said "say hi to Jack, Coco", she waved and they all waved back! How cool is that!

The rest of the evening just sailed past, right 'To The Sea'. The music was fabulous, our seat was really good, Coco danced in her sling and laughed her head off at the clapping and cheering and then literally passed out half an hour into the show and I still managed to strut my stuff, even though I had a sleeping baby strapped to my front. The only slight downer was that 'Better Together', Angus and my wedding dance, was in the encore and I didn't dare wait until the very end to get out of the venue, so I missed it. Still, I'm glad I made the vaguely sensible decision to leave early, it helped make the night a success which couldn't have been guaranteed if we had been stuck in the car park for hours. The other slightly disappointing thing was my lack of camera. I took the ticket rules 'no cameras' literally whereas actually it seems everyone had cameras. So no visual record of the night I'm afraid but take my word for it, it was awesome!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Best Burgers Yet!

What a fabulous week! The weather here has been amazing, nobody was ill and Angus was enjoying his last week of family-time before work goes a bit crazy for a couple of months. If you look at your calendars you will see that last Sunday was the 4th July. A fairly irrelevant day for us Brits but here in the US it is their celebration of independence. When in America and all that, it would be rude not to join in the fun! I made a batch of proper American Chocolate Brownies (they were good but a little sweet, the recipe needs tweaking and then I will share it) which went down a treat with both Coco and Angus, they even got to lick the spoon!

We were very honoured to be invited to join some friends for their 4th July BBQ. It felt so good to go to someones house and be part of some family and friend time. We were made so welcome and met some lovely people. Hopefully, I even managed to get a play date for Coco and a game of tennis or two for myself! The day finished in true 4th July style with a magnificent firework display over Newport Harbour. By this point I was actually wishing I was American! I love the fact they have so much pride in  their heritage and their country. "God bless America" is all I have to say!

The rest of the week has been filled with more swimming lessons (still a big hit), fitness classes, walks along Ocean Drive and Angus and I managed to get a proper night out. Yes, babysitter and all - I felt very grown up organizing a babysitter. We got all glammed up, I even wore a dress for the first time in goodness knows how long and I swapped my usual satchel-like handbag, which I rely on for all the paraphernalia that goes with being out and about with a baby, for a dinky little black number. The babysitter was on time, Coco went down like a dream and we hit the town! Our evening started at 40 Degrees North where we enjoyed the sunset whilst sipping Bellini's (no talk of children whatsoever) and then we moved on to a restaurant called 22 Bowens for dinner. OMG - probably one of the best meals I have had for a very long time. Mouthwatering steak with wild mushrooms and a leek mash. Simple but completely divine. The wine was equally amazing and we made it to probably about two thirds of the way through the main course before we even mentioned Coco. Not that we don't completely adore her but having an evening that was just about the two of us was pretty special. It did nearly break the bank but it was definitely worth it.

A quick Coco update though, I have one word for you - stairs. She has discovered them. Having previously paid them very little attention, on Monday morning she ventured in that direction and the next thing we knew she was half way up to the second floor. First time, straight to the top without hesitation. Then, of course, they were the best toy in the house. With an open-plan living space, there was no way of shutting her off from them so we have had to purchase a cage! Now she stands and looks forlornly at what was once such fun.

Yesterday, we shot straight off after work to our new favourite place - Gooseberry Beach. It is along Ocean Drive and enjoys still, calm waters thanks to natural rock breakers jutting out from the edge of the bay. There are gentle sand dunes with the impressive Newport Mansions as a backdrop. It really is pretty special. With picnic, brolly, swimmers and lots of suncream we enjoyed and idyllic couple of hours together before heading home to bed. Well, bed for Coco, run and Uncle Gabes for a BBQ for Angus and I. (The running is going well by the way, we are a bit stuck on two miles so need to start increasing our distance this week.)

Last night was the night I was going to go for the new and improved burger recipe. You may remember my being slightly put out that Donnie's burgers put mine to shame, but he had talked me through his methods so last night I gave them a go. All I can say is success! And - SO easy! None of this herbs, onion and egg that I had done previously, this is just pure meat. Good ground sirloin beef, salt and pepper. Go for quite a generous size and then really beat them into shape. I mean really hammer them. I didn't season them quite enough but they were still awesome. Thank you Donnie.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Goodness Gracious...

... What a day! I am surrounded by sick people - literally. There is some sort of stomach bug going around our house. Coco had it at the beginning of the week but it seems to have come back again today and now Angus has gone down with it too. I'm not sure how many more sheets and pyjamas I can change. Just imagine if the washing machine decided to throw in the towel now?! I would be literally drowning in puke - what a lovely thought.

All is quite upstairs for the time being and both the patients seem settled. Angus is in the bath and Coco has gone to sleep, at last. It has taken two hours to settle her! That is just unheard of for her, usually you put her to bed, walk away and don't hear a peep from her until morning. Poor little thing just seemed so distressed. Lets hope that it is a healing night and everyone will wake up feeling as right as rain in the morning. I have everything crossed.

By the way, I decided to go Mac and I love it. The problem is there just don't seem to be enough hours in the day to play with all the things I want to play with. iPhoto and iMovie look brilliant and I am itching to start experimenting with them but feel like I need a good few hours to really get going and it seems so anti-social. Maybe it will have to wait until Angus is next away and then me being a complete recluse in the evenings won't matter at all.

Our movie fest is going well. Since I last updated we have watched 'American Gangster' - absolutely brilliant, if you haven't seen it you must. 'Seven Pounds' - I quite liked this but Angus wasn't so keen. I don't think it needed to be quite so obscure, if they had revealed a little more before the end it wouldn't have been detrimental to the finale, in fact it would have improved it. Finally, 'It's Complicated' which I had heard was disappointing but we both laughed a lot and I do just love Meryl Streep. 

We've had a slack few days with our running programme although, to be fair, it hasn't really been our fault. We did a really good 2.2 miler on Monday and both felt like there was a huge improvement but then Angus had a bad foot on Tuesday and I did a rubbish run on my own. Rest day yesterday and then sickness today so we've gone off schedule a bit. Hopefully we'll get back on track when everyone is fit and well. I did manage to do a wardrobe clear out today though and check out the pile of clothes heading to the charity shop because they are too big!

Congratulations to Rich, Lush and Jemima on their new addition - we were all so excited to hear of the arrival of baby Joshua.