Should you get Chocolate Labrador?

I don’t consider myself as a specialist in “canine science” and following are strictly my personal opinions based on my own life changing experiences. But, when I have been talking to other lucky Choc lab owners I can see lots of similar behaviors and problems they have come across.

First of all, if you choosing your first dog don’t ever  be fooled with most sweetest, teddy bear like puppy! That, what happened to me anyway. I saw this adorable puppy one of our pub lunch’s next table from us and I knew straight away we’ll have one of those.

We were already in process to get a dog. It has been my biggest dream since I was 10 or even younger. I used to go all dog shows, which visited my home town and I even bought red leather lead and red wooden brush for my future dog. I was so desperate – but it took me nearly 30 years, before my dream came true. We weren’t sure what kind of dog we’ll get and we were considering to get rescue, but unfortunately in UK it has been almost impossible to adopt the dog, when you are working full time, even all conditions would’ve been ideal – lots of room for dog, big garden, woodlands just behind the garden giving lots of opportunities to run off lead, enough income to cover all costs and most importantly, very committed owner to be!

So puppy it was meant to be and when I saw advert with those chunky puppies I was sold. I do know the dangers of buying puppy from the advertiser on a website and I will probably wouldn’t go same route if I have to do it again, but I think Lonni’s mum was genuine family dog and local and I’m quite certain no one got harmed in the process.

Little did I know that getting a young puppy is like having a baby! The commitment and time you need to put into can be quite stressful. Of course there are lots of fun and laughter  as well, but for your puppy happiness you need to be committed and put lots of work, time and patience into it. I learnt that chocolate Labradors aren’t just sweet looking teddy bears, they are mad (almost crazy). Unfortunately I learnt it after I got Lonni, that the chocolate colored ones are the maddest of them all. That’s why you don’t see many working chocolate labs! You couldn’t trust blind person led by chocolate lab – as soon she would notice something interesting she would be off with you tangling along middle of traffic or pump into the lamp-post. Don’t get me wrong they are easily trainable! Lonni was one of the best in her puppy class, but take her out into the field and she’s off to meet people and other dogs whatever you shout or do! So embarrassing!

They just think that everyone would be as happy to meet her as she is, when seeing any human being. Most dog owners know that there are plenty of people out there, who don’t find your beloved pup adorable – imagine that! 🙂 and there are lots of grumpy dogs who won’t be impressed by bouncy 25 kg puppy. Doesn’t help that Lonni is alpha female and not scared of anything or anyone! (maybe just bit wary of our black cat Tomi)

She’s also bit of a bully. She doesn’t mind big strong dogs who drag her around by collar and have a play fight and she doesn’t mind curios small brave dogs, who trying to play with her. She doesn’t like weak and nervous ones. She can sense that they are afraid of her and thinks it’s a good opportunity to go after them. I had many of those situations, which ended me in tears and apologizing endlessly to the shocked owners of the terrified dogs. Luckily this behavior has almost disappeared and 99.9% time she’s easy going and playful dog, who doesn’t mind sharing her toys or even food (that’s not really possible anyway. Nobody can eat as fast as Labrador, so when you even trying to take her food you have to be super fast, which I said is almost impossible). Lab on the following video could easily be Lonni 🙂

They are lovely family dogs, but you still need to get ground rules clear. When we first got her, she picked my son, who is youngest in the family and tried to get ahead on pack order. He tried to get my sons favorite place to sit and tried to get between me and him. She soon learned that she’s on the bottom of the pack, she realized that even the cats have more rights 🙂 She was also very bouncy, so when you have small children you have to be mindful that hey can easily knock them over not really thinking about it.

And they are strong – very strong! If she’s seeing something – she would be off if you not stopping her with you arms feet and teeth if needed 🙂 Probably that’s the one reason why I joined CrossFit to be strong enough to control my dog 🙂

All Labradors need plenty of exercise. Firstly because they have lots of energy so it helps them to keep calm(er). Lonni have 2 off lead 30-50 minutes walks a day and we do try to fit some longer walks in on the weekend. She also have access to our garden, when we are at home, but she’s not so interested to exercise herself. Also they need plenty of exercise to keep them slim as they are very greedy and do anything to get some food. It’s very easy to over feed them. I think it’s very common sight seeing Labradors tottering around with no waste line, especially chocolate Labradors.

Choccies are very excitable. It does get better, when they get older, but I remember how our visitors were met by this 28 kg bundle of bouncy happiness and it took for 5-10 minutes to calm her down. We found that the best thing to help her control emotions was giving something to her carry around in her mouth. She actually discovered it herself – she crabs nearest shoe or sock or anything she can find and carries it around, while showing her happiness with her waggy tale. This does mean that most days we all desperately trying to find pair of shoes, when we are in a hurry but the pair is never together.

Above is just a snippet of what it’s like to live with chocolate Labrador, if it didn’t put you off, maybe it’s the dog for you. We love our Lonni and wouldn’t have it any other way! 

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Bye 2017!

Just few hours left until the 2017 closes its door. Time to look and remind myself the goods and make a plans for the 2018.

January

January proved that it’s actually winter month and we had a snow for once! Not for long, but enough for kids to have a play and take a few quick photos to  remember. I did started with Project 30 what slowed straight down in summer holidays and then moved backwards. I will write more about it very soon. On positive side – I’m nearly stone lighter (it feels much better to say stone than 7 kg 🙂 ) . Not so positive – I’m no where near , where I was planning to be by end of the year, but hey – s..t happens and here we go again in new year.

February

I really focused on good nutrition and tried lots of healthy recipes. There was also my birthday, which I don’t really like to be reminded now days 🙂 

March

I took part of first CrossFit Open and absolutely loved  it. I’ m so glad that I found CrossFit 2 and half years ago. It’s really reminded me, that exercise is not for loosing weight or get certain kind of body. It’s fun, it’s the lifestyle choice and it’s good for your mental health. I never have problem to get down to the classes, it’s part of my life and I rather not have glass of wine on Friday night than miss Saturday morning class. (I still love “social drinking” there and then, and good night out with my friends). I train minimum 4 times a week, sometimes up to 6 times and I can’t imagine any other way.

April

April brought us unexpectedly hot summer weather. We had lovely walks and traditional Easter weekend down in Kent coast. I had injury in my knee, which messed up my training and therefore my diet was crap. I do find that you don’t loose weight only with exercise, you need good diet as well, but the exercise helps to follow healthy diet. One of the things I learned this year, that I always have some kind of niggle in my knees and I just have to live with it. Don’t rush back on the training with the injury and train smart, which means concentrate on the movements, which help my knees to get the best state they can be.

May

May brings this summery feeling (not always) lots of lovely walks around, where we live. Beautiful blossoms everywhere and we had family trip to London over very- very long time. We always promise to ourselves to do it more often as it’s only 45 minutes away and there is so much to do and see. It was treat for K for her birthday and we went to see the play, which was really good fun.

June

We had family gathering in our house with lots of lovely food and great sunshine. We did some wild cooking with T in our garden and apparently it was the best meal ever 🙂 I made a paella for 120 people in local music festival to rise money for scouts. I started running, because I really hate it and I don’t like to hate things. Unfortunately my knees didn’t agree with it, so gave it up for now and just do occasional running at the CrossFit.

July

It’s the month for our now traditional Stonepit farm family picnic with live music. I went to see proper cricket match – now, when I can understand most of the rules, its’actually very exciting and doesn’t feel like teams just standing around and then sometimes run a bit and hit the ball with the bat:) I said goodbye to lovely family, who moved back to Estonia 🙁 and we went to Cambridge Folk festival, which we can now cross of the list “Things we should do one day”

August

… and my favourite month of 2017. Road trip to Estonia. I annoyed most of my Facebook friends with photos of everything I saw and did on this trip. Sorry, but I truly enjoyed it and I just wanted to share it with everyone. Lovely places, delicious food, great friends, breath taking sunsets, night swims, discolf with best friends in the night, my best friends wedding in a tiny island, good laughs, dear family – just to name a few things, what made me happy.

September

After the busy august, which also brought us sad news about S dad, the September was quiet with some family time and settling back to routines.

October

Good month, because lovely people came to visit us. We love people coming to stay with us, especially when they coming from far away and I can chat in Estonian all night 🙂 Lots of food and drink and laughter. I also introduced my guests to CrossFit so they can see what I’m  always talking about 🙂

November

My love to Estonian films was restored. Went to see 3 short films in Estonian House in London and had good laugh in good company.

December

It’s Christmas months and everything leading up to it. Christmas parties, frosty walks, visits from very dear friends, family get together and to end this year – one very long walk in lovely Kent countryside.

I wish you all very happy new year and love this beautiful life! 

XXX

 

One Estonian thoughts about Estonia (and Estonians)

I’m going through photos from this year holiday to Estonia. Here are just some random thoughts with some photos:

  • Until I moved to UK I never lived further than 500 meter from the sea. I always feel home, when I can see and feel seaside. Being of 2 fisherman’s granddaughter I love fish and seafood. In Estonia you don’t have to break a bank to eat fish daily and we estonians are not picky what kind of fish we eating (always have black rye bread with it! ….with everything really 🙂 )

  • You can easily find affordable meals in pubs and it doesn’t mean everything deep-fried. This big plate cost around £5 and you get 1/3 plate of different veg and pickles and 90% of cases you get sour cream-mayo sauce with your food – very Estonian!

  • My hometown Pärnu has lovely sandy beach – my favorite place, with seawater temperatures reaching more than 20 degrees and it’s shallow, which is brilliant with small kids but takes you ages to get far enough for swim.

  • Porridge in Estonia is not just your everyday oats. You get all aisle in the shop with lots of different grains. My favorite this summer was  four grain porridge (contains rye, oats, wheat and barley)

  • The market at my hometown means seasonal affordable food from local farms, gardens and forests. We are lucky to live just 5 minutes walk away from the market,  so I was regular shopper every morning. The meat counter is just amazing – you can buy every bit of animal, nothing is wasted and you can even get free fresh bones for dogs. Lonni was very happy about it!

  • I just love my home in Pärnu, it’s often full of my friends and family and there is no need to call before, just pop in, when we are home our door is always open and there is always reason to open bottle of wine.

  • Freshly smoked bacon and chanterelle from local forest – my favorite and so affordable!

  • Estonians love fresh herbal teas – they are always foraging and preparing for the long cold winter.

  • In Estonia you can buy watermelons size of a beach ball 🙂 and they are so sweet and juicy!

  • My favorite place to enjoy sunset – Pärnu Yacht club – open to everyone for food, wine or live music. And great place to see the sunset.

  • Cake for breakfast is considered acceptable in Estonia – one of my favourite kind of breakfasts!

  • Estonians are very proud of their food and you can dine in countless fancy food places in Estonia, which might not be so affordable else where. Although it’s about to change and prices seem to be catching up with UK.

  • My home town have 2 km long mole and you can walk on it- no health and safety to stop you slip on the slippery stone. You do have to use your common sense.

  • Most Estonians know places to have a wild swim, meaning it’s not publicly open swimming area. 

  • Those black rye garlic breads are must and those are only kind of rye bread my children love. Always accompanied with sour cream-mayo-garlic dip.

  • Estonians love house and flat parties. They are quite low-key but so much fun and always include lovely food and lots of drinks.

  • In Estonia you never know where you end up sending your day away. Your friends usually know fantastic secluded places to watch most amazing sunsets. You definitely wont find those places in guidebooks.

  • Estonians are very keen foragers and there are variety of mushrooms and berries you can find everywhere.

  • Estonians love music and singing and learning an instrument or singing is easily accessible and taught at very high standards from very early age. This is my best friend super talented son, only 15 (16 now) years old. 

  • Those ring donuts have been around since I went to school and the café near my school has been run by same ladies who did it 35 year ago in Soviet time (whoops, did I say 35? I’m not so old)

  • Estonians love their salads dressed richly with sour cream and mayonnaise sauce and I love it!!

  • Estonians are very proud gardeners and most of the gardens are immaculate and quite big compared to standard UK gardens.

  • Estonians love making cakes and they are very creative. This tart has been made from biscuits! It’s very original and I haven’t come across anywhere else. And it’s contains quark (lots of it!) so high in protein. Healthy pudding or what!

  • Summers in Estonia are unpredictable you can get +25 heat and then it drop to 15 degrees. So be prepared for anything!

  • Estonians might come across as serious and not very open at first, but once, when you make a friend with them, they always ready to help you.

Miss you my friends and fam! xxx

Easter Holiday – No CrossFit for few weeks :(

The Easter Holiday is over and I’m back in reality of the everyday life 🙁

I managed to extend my holiday to the week and I can’t remember, when I last could take time off to just be at home and spend time with my children, without the need to rush somewhere or actually going to the holiday. It was lovely! I slept 9 hours and more! We went to the local swimming pool, went to the cinema to see “Power Rangers”, which I actually enjoyed and almost cried!!?? We went shopping for some necessities, like school shoes and more socks – boring stuff and had lunch in Nandos. So I did nothing special but it was so enjoyable. I even had haircut! I haven’t been at hairdressers over a year now and my hair looked really sad.

New haircut

Haven’t had so many compliments very long time.

We did go away on Good Friday to have a mini holiday at the Kent coast.

cousins at seaside

We had walks at seaside, met up with family and had a good laugh, visited Margate, which was big surprise. I haven’t been there since children were small and I kind of remember it being quite run down place with the nice beach. For my surprise it was lovely, great seaside atmosphere, nice antique and retro shops, lots cafes and pubs, it was especially nice on the pier. We even found one Scandinavian café and had compulsory Cinnamon bun.

Margate

Only negative side of the holiday was – I haven’t been able to do CrossFit for almost 2 weeks. I have done something to my “good” leg/knee few weeks ago and I can’t train properly. I did try carry on and even managed to PB my back squat, but decided not to do CrossFit for few weeks in order to get back to it quicker. It seems I got tendonitis after doing workout, which included over parallete burpees and I was actually quite proud myself doing so well. But following day I felt pain in my knee/around the knee and actually my another”bad” knee become suddenly the “good” one. “Oeh!” old people problems 🙂

I felt quite down because of it. CrossFit is my therapy and it keeps me happy or exhausted so I don’t care about s**t and not many things can annoy me then 🙂  But looking to the bright side, I had week off from work and spent lots of time with my children and I was quite active other ways. My leg feels much better now and I have planned to go back to the training tonight. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very good with doing some mobility at home so my knee feels still bit stiff. I just find really hard to take 20 minutes at home to do it, I usually have to choose either doing exercise or getting full 7 hours sleep.

I wasn’t pleased with the “Project 30” development beginning of the months, so after complaining over it in the last post lovely Lindsay from LJL Coaching urged me back to join her FB group and record all activities/food/moods over the next 2 weeks and this really have helped me so the weight goes in right direction again. Thank you, I really needed that! Only the few days away from home and indulging with some ice cream and chocolate eggs hasn’t been kind to me and I got a bit of a shock on the scale this morning, but I’m back on tracking my food today and feeling determined again so hopefully I will see more pleasing result from now on 🙂

 

2016 – what a year!

Another year has gone. It feels like only yesterday I wrote about our 2015. The 2016 has been emotional roller-coaster, not personally, but for the world and I think lots of decision made in 2016, will affect us all years to come.

January

Like always the biggest event on the first month of the year is our dear son birthday. Other than that I can’t remember much going on. Just recovering from the Christmas, getting back to the school/work/Crossfit/tennis/football/scouts routine with all family.

February

I have managed to save photos from my lovely cousin visit to somewhere secret, so only picture I can find is the one in the Facebook 🙂 How did we manage before the Facebook?? It’s weird, how you see the place you live through eyes of your guests, when you showing around. We just don’t notice, how much history and interesting places there are around us. We went to London, visited Tower Bridge – first time in 14 years, I have been living here, only an hour trip from London 🙁 We also went to Cambridge and the weather was unusually warm to February.

Rare occasion of Collins family playing tourists in London!

March

Getting more difficult as I have no idea what’s happened in March??  Oh yes, we had Timo’s birthday party, because it’s really hard to organise anything straight after Christmas, so it’s not so unusual to have his birthday celebration just before Keitis 🙂 The Easter was really early this year and we were stressing over the Timo’s Secondary School options.

April

Ok. For April I can find lots of dog and cats photos in my phone. We really have to get our act together and be more creative with our diaries 🙂 🙂 Keiti was only one, who actually did something exciting and went to skiing to Austria. On 25th of April I had one year from starting the CrossFit, dragging everyone else in the family into as well 🙂

May

May is birthdays month (Keiti and Simon) and our anniversary month as well and we so lucky to have 2 Bank Holidays in May. There were cricket matches in village green, which are so British and I have finally got hang of with the rules of the game now. There were beautiful sunsets and our first meals out in the garden, which almost feels like being on holiday. There is the Eurovision, which everyone hates but still watches 🙂 We had night out in London for Simons birthday, went to see QI recording, which was real treat. Our lovely daughters birthday, just can’t believe I’m a parent of this lovely young lady – how did it happened? We found duckling in our garden, who we tried to get back to his home, running around the village and knocking to the neighbours doors, carrying him in the plastic box. He got finally rescued by Rosina Animal Centre, with the help from my lovely neighbours and duckling was named Terry! 🙂 Terry was released after the month, back to the bond, where he hopefully found family or at least new friends. We went to our annual camping trip to the border of the Devon and Cornwall. We were blessed with the best weather with lots of sunshine.

June

Our camping trip continued in June, only to get back, when the rollercoaster started. We learned, what BREXIT means – maybe not, as we still don’t know, how it will actually happen, but it definitely have shaken up the world politics. I even have BREXIT flowerbed in our garden 🙂 I needed to channel my frustration somewhere, I weeded and dag and it actually looked quite decent in the end. 🙂 I baked cakes for the Antique Roadshow at Ightham Mote and cook huge paella for 150 people at the Ightham music festival.

July

July was all about Timos last month in primary school. We had mums night out at the school summer ball. Our children primary school has been such big part of our lives past 10 years, so it is very different now, not to drive up the little village lane to drop off or pick up our children. There were lots of parties for mums and quite few for children. I have met so many lovely ladies during those years and I was sad, when it draw to the end. We also went to the local farm strawberry picking picnic with live music.  I must say I didn’t pick any strawberries 🙁 but enjoyed the crowd and live bands. We spent day at Whitstable, when children did waters sports with scouts.End of the July, when children finished the school they were off to scout camp to Jersey, so we had 10 days without children – first time since we become parents! We had mini holiday in Poole and met up with my friends from the volleyball days for my friend’s 50-s birthday at Wiltshire. We visited Chilli festival at Dorset. I love summers! We get up for so much more!

August

August is our usual holiday months, but we didn’t go to Estonia this year. Instead we spent some time at Deal, found fantastic sandy beach in Broadstairs and first time ever in UK, I went to swim in the sea! The waves were amazing and we all really loved it!

September

Back to school! Both our children are in the secondary school, which has started new era in our lives. Keiti completed her first ever mud race and she did incredibly well. Very impressed with her. As I said before, Crossfit has changed us all 🙂

October

There was some baking but most importantly there was mini break in Milan, with my bestest friends. We laughed 4 days in a row and I love my friends dearly for that. We had lots of delicious food and wine and we chatted for the years we haven’t seen each other. Also, we are selfie queens 🙂 Thank you girls – I love you!

November

Watching football in freezing cold, trying new recipes, lots of Crossfit and tennis, dog walks. Just the everyday routine. But I didn’t mind it 🙂 and of course the world shocker – Trump became American president – oh dear!

December

Finally, end of the year! lots of rushing around to get ready for the Christmas, shopping, cleaning, organising. Oh! Had great Christmas party with my CrossFit buddies, lovely family Christmas, beautiful walk after festivities. What I like overall – sitting in my dining room, TV entertainments are on, fire roars, candles flickering, I haven’t bothered with make up, I have comfy leggings and top on, chatting with my far friends in Facebook and writing summary of my year. It’s best place to be.

I wish you all Happy New Year! And I really hope that 2017 brings us more clarity and common sense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nostalgia – my lovely first born and easy almond tart

My oldest gone skiing with her school, which have made me nostalgic and I’m feeling bit lost. I better get used to it as it’s not going to be long, when they flying the nest…or maybe not, they might decide to live with us forever 🙂

I think there is an age when children start to show more interest about their early years. On a way home recently, my kiddies wanted to know their first words, truth is, I can’t exactly remember. I do remember some funny words of theirs, which really have stuck in my mind – my daughter, when she was under a year old, during the breakfast suddenly pointed her finger towards me and said very clearly “I know!” – in a way her grandpa always did it to her, when he came up with the new ideas to entertain her. I still remember how it made me and my husband jump and then burst to laugh as we really could see my father in law manners in her.

My son’s one of the first word must’ve been “digger”. He watched in a loop some video, which was filmed in a real building site, showing diggers and other machinery accompanied with the song about diggers, trucks and something else.

My children are lucky to have their grandma collecting their photos together to the albums. My daughter had homework from the school, she had to select 10 photos from her early years, and it brought back so many memories and made me really think where those 13 years have disappeared.

Here she is about 2 month old. My mother in law built holder for her toys from my friends easel and hang down stretchy tiger and owl made my husband’s Japanese friends mum dressing gown, what made my daughter always very excited or scared, couldn’t really say.

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Her hair didn’t start to grow until she was about 3 years old so she had perfect short hairdo with no odd baby hair. That’s why she’s probably quite pressures about her hair nowadays and only recently started to let hairdressers near them.

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She look lots like her cousin and people used to think they are brother and sister. It’s lovely that they are still very close.

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She had such a beautiful blonde locks and she didn’t let anyone near them for years, I think we only cut off her baby hair few years ago. She’s not really as blond anymore.

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This picture is taken in a photo salon at my home town, only time we have been at the   professional photographer. They were such sweeties- nothing like this anymore 🙂

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 Looking those photos, scares me, how quickly time flies.

Someone posted this great poem in FB, Its by Rose Milligan and I think it’s says it all, I have  definitely given up dusting and concentrate on more important stuff 🙂

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.

—————

And here is one of the easiest and most delicious almond tart recipe. I have done it many times and it always get lots of praise, so I better save it here before my piece of paper disappears under the dust 🙂

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Almond Tart

For the pastry:

175g self – raising flour

25g icing sugar

25g ground almonds

75g butter

For the almond filling:

100g blanched whole almonds ( I have used ground almonds or almond flakes as well if I don’t have whole almonds handy)

100 g caster sugar

25g plain flour

2 large eggs

few drops of almond essence

2tbsp apricot preserve (or more)

25g flaked almonds

icing sugar for dusting

500g fresh raspberries to serve

  1. Heat the oven to 190 C/ Gas Mark 5.
  2. Sift the flour and icing sugar to the bowl and add the ground almonds. Mix.
  3. Add the butter in pieces and rub it all together with your fingertips.
  4. Add few tbsp. cold water and mix it all together to the soft dough
  5. Line tart tin (23cm diameter with loose base) with dough and chill until you get the filling ready
  6. For the filling buzz the almonds to fine crumbs in the food processor
  7. Add the butter, sugar, flour, eggs, almond essence and buzz again until you have smooth paste.
  8. Spread the apricot conserve over the pastry tart base.
  9. Spoon in the almond mixture and spread level.
  10. Scatter with flaked almonds
  11. Bake the tart on Gas Mark 5 and then lower heat to Gas Mark 4 and bake further 15 min until the filling is set and tart is golden.
  12. Allow to cool.
  13. Dust with plenty of icing sugar and serve with raspberries.

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And for the music choice I suggest this – love it!!!

 

Bye 2015!

The 2015 is over! Year of changes, finding myself bit more and hopefully preparing for the things the 2016 has to offer.

January.

Like many years before January starts with welcome the New Years lunch at Simons brothers house, followed by Timo’s birthday and Sallys birthday,

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sprinkled with other things like cooking/baking – in January I always feel urge to try new recipes, photograph them and post them to the world to see 🙂

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February.

Starts with my birthday – year on, I care less of the number and value experiences,  every going year leaves behind. Had a lovely walk in Alfriston, picturesque village where Simon proposed me 12 years ago.

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Went to see Estonian Oscar nominated film “Tangerines”, which restored mu faith to modern Estonian film.

Cooked for crowd for Estonian Independence Day in London.

Beautiful Liis serving my Vana Tallinn Cakes

Beautiful Liis serving my Vana Tallinn Cakes

March

Continued with the Paleo and cooking and realizing that I’m too much of a food addict to stick with restricted diet and dropping some of the food groups totally from my menu. So my aim is trying to stay on healthy side but indulge myself times to times and not to feel guilty about it.

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April

More food/paleo/cooking/taking pictures/sharing. Did some catering,

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trained Lonni and have some lovely walks

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We had our yearly Easter family get together

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and my lovely cousins and her friend came to visit. Unfortunately we were burgled, while they were here and some of their stuff was taken, but I’m strong believer of karma so I’m sure one day the baddies will be sorry.

May

The month, I started Crossfit. I didn’t  think something can change your life so much, but it can. I got addicted to it, I managed to drag Simon into it, who has really committed to it and lost more than stone as the result, also he was chosen as most improved athlete in the box. Who could’ve believed it back in May –  not me!

Other things in May – Simon’s birthday, Keiti’s birthday with the trip to Cornwall – love this part of the country.

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June

More testing recipes,

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taking part of local beer festival, lots of sitting around on the cricket matches, which I don’t really mind, if the weather is good and food available.

Enjoying dinners in our garden. Lovely walks in our woods with Lonni, getting unexpected presents.

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July

Strawberry picking picnic with family in the local farm.

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Annual get together and camping in the seaside cottage near Deal – lots  of food/drink and walks. Break in Richmond, visiting theatre over very long time to see Lady in black and spending day in Kew gardens.

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Lots of baking.

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Going to the  Tom Jones concert by Thames boat thank to my dear friend in London.

August

The road trip to Estonia

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– good food, new places, hot weather, old friends, home beach, posh restaurants,

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August festival in my home town,

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driving back home through Scandinavia.

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September

Getting over the holiday blues, but luckily my dear friends came to visit us

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October

My first big football match to see at Wembley. Luckily Estonia didn’t score. I sat next to some England fans, who were quite scary so probably I wouldn’t show my support to Estonia too loud 🙂

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November

Cooking and more cooking! We were at Scandinavian Christmas market and couldn’t keep up with the demand for the “Mulgi Puder” – I think we peeled near 150 kg potatoes over the weekend, but it was absolutely brilliant.

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December

Preparation for the Christmas as every year  – gingerbreads, turkey, family, wine, games, walks, fun.

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2016 – I’m ready for you!

Christmas 2015 and rum cakes aka “Vana Tallinn” cakes

I love the Christmas time. Once the decorations go up after continuous nagging from children, everything feels brighter and more festive.

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And tidy rooms are the bonus as all the Collins family comes for our annual Christmas meal. I cooked 10 kg turkey from the Court Farm Butchers, my favorite place to buy meat, and of course all the trimmings to go with it. There was 17 of us – 5 families of Collins’s and the dog and 2 cats, most living souls we had together for the Christmas ever. 🙂 We even managed to get us all to stay still for the family photo.

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I love this one best as I was trying to crab Lonni, who was chasing the cannon ball – yes, that was the present, my husband gave it to his dad. I love how relaxed everyone is and have a good laugh – this describes best our get together – laid back, laugh, food, wine, games.

I baked lot’s of gingerbreads.

Gingerbreads

I made the blood sausages  very first time with my new Kenwood.

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and made quite a few “rum cakes” over the Christmas. The Rum cakes or “Vana Tallinn cakes have been real hit not only among Estonians and I have been asked recipe for the countless times so here it is. I must say I don’t follow the recipe for making them, so I’ll try to estimate quantities here.

Rum Cakes with White Chocolate filling

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First you need a sponge. Originally those cakes were made in bakeries from the sponge leftovers to avoid a waste, but at home you hardly have any spare sponge so I will give my fool proof sponge recipe, which I got from my favorite Estonian cake makers Olga blog.

4 eggs

2dl sugar

1dl boiling water

3dl plain flour

1tsp baking powder

Put the eggs in the bowl with sugar and beat it 10 minutes until it’s almost tripled in size. I have until now (before I got my fantastic Kenwood) used hand mixer, while using my  another hand for the Facebook. 🙂

Before the 10 minutes are over I switch on the kettle and boil the water. I measure it to the measuring jug and then slowly add to the egg mixture while still beating it.

Mix the flour and the baking powder together and sift it to the egg mixture.

Fold carefully it with the spatula from the bottom of the bowl to up, until there is no lumps.

Line the baking tin with the baking paper – for cakes I use 24 cm diameter tin, but as  the shape is not important on this instance you can use any tin really.

Poor the mixture to the tin and bake on gas mark 5 for 30 minutes.

The sponge is ready, when the inserted skewer comes out clean. If the cake starts to get dark too quickly, cover it with baking paper.

Take it out from the oven and leave it cool for bit and then turn it to the cooling rack, remove the lining paper and leave it cool completely.

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1 sponge

3-5 sp cacao powder

rum or “Vana Tallinn” (it’s Estonian liqueur, which everyone gives as a present but most people don’t like to drink but I use it lots in my cooking replacing brandy or rum) or any other liqueur which has more than 30% alcohol or if you prefer non alcoholic ones use the rum essence instead, quantity depends of your taste

150-200g soured cream

100g white chocolate

150g cream cheese

For making rum cakes, crumble the sponge in to the bowl and take a little out for rolling cakes in it later.

Add cacao powder, I like it darker so I’ll add 4 or more spoonful’s but you can use less of it.

Now add the soured cream, start adding about 100 grams and mix it with your hand squeezing mixture together

Add the alcohol or essence, here you need to do quite a bit of tasting to make it, how you like it, but not too much or you don’t have anything left for the balls 🙂

If you achieved desired taste you might need to add more soured cream to get the consistency suitable for the rolling the balls.

Now, I’m using scale to get all the balls same size – 30g for small bite, 40 g bit bigger and 50g for the proper sized one, but if you not fussed just take the mixture with the spoon and roll the balls with your palms.

Roll them on the saved crumbs.

Then I’m using the scissors to make the lines, cut softly on 3 angles and then press down with your dumb on the middle of the ball so it becomes like a flower shape ball.

For the white chocolate and cream cheese filling. melt the white chocolate in the sauce pan or in the microwave. If it’s too hot , let it cool a bit. Then mix it with the cream cheese.

If the mixture becomes too runny leave it to the fridge for a while.

Now pipe the filling to the middle of the cakes and decorate as desired.

Start to prepare for new sponge as those cakes don’t last long.

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The best Chocolate Brownies recipe – Timo 10

I will write this post before it’s too late as Timo’s birthday was more than 2 weeks ago and I wanted to write down few things about my youngest. I can’t believe it has been already 10 years of being mum for 2 wonderful children, who sometimes drive me insane, but most of the time they are pleasure to be around, especially last couple of years they have really grown up and I can’t remember many cases I had to raise my voice.

Timo has always been mature for his age and very independent. You wouldn’t believe that few month old baby can be stubborn, but he definitely showed his strong will already then. I bottle fed him from very early age and he was always wriggling around and didn’t settle down on my arms – as soon I put him to his bed and placed the bottle on the pillow next to him, he calmed down and enjoyed his meal. So you can imagine he fed himself more-less when he was a year old.

We admired his determination to learn things. He must have been 7-8 month old and we had lovely time at my hometown beach, but Timo wouldn’t settle to play with sand or his toys, he was spending nearly an hour working out, how his pushchair clips work and he succeeded.

He chased his football around our courtyard in Parnu, when he was 1 and half  and he learned to kick amazingly and now at age of 10 his ball control is great and he has been asked to join local football club, but unfortunately he loves to do lots of things and there is only so many hours in a day so he had to give a miss to this one for time being.

He was on his bike being just 3 years old, with no stabilisers, whizzing long the beach. People were amazed and asked us how old he was.

And that how it been all his life, he always tries to learn things he interested of. At the moment he’s big passion is guitar, so his wish for his birthday was electric guitar and amplifier – I added some headphones, for us really :). He has been learning guitar rifts from You Tube.

Electric guitar

He can be handful and I can’t really teach him a lot as it seems in his head he thinks that you have to have qualification to teach someone. I can’t teach him maths, but he’s fine to take all the tips from his tutor. I can show him how to cook, daddy can show some motorbike stuff and his lovely sister aloud to explain some things only big sisters know.

Birthday boy

He is our lovely boy and we love him dearly.

Another things he loves – Chocolate cakes. He’s quite fussy about the cakes and traditional birthday cake might be good look at but he has no interest to eat it (it doesn’t always mean that you can have his piece of cake :))

Birthday Cake

His birthday cake was made after my favourite brownie recipe, it’s  the one thing he likes and it’s one I use when I need something quickly and I’m not sure what people would like. the browniw will be moist and plate empties quickly. I made kind of birthday cake out of it this time but usually it goes well just as a tray bake brownie. It’s probably one of my most used sweet recipe

You’ll need

225g butter

100 g cocoa powder

4 free range eggs

450 g caster sugar

vanilla extract

150 g self rising flour or 150g flour + 1tsp baking powder

Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4.

Grease one 4cm deep, 28cm x 19cm baking tray and line with baking paper.

Melt the butter, remove it from the heat and stir the cocoa in, leave for 10 minutes.

Whisk the eggs and sugar and vanilla essence together until light an foamy. Stir in the cocoa mixture and flour and poor in to the baking tray.

Bake 35 minutes. If the top is firm, but middle is still on soft side, you done take it  out of the oven and leave it cool for 10 minutes. Turn over to the wire rack and peel of the paper. Leave it cool completely. When cool, cut to squares, dust with the icing sugar and enjoy.

If you want your brownies firmer, not so gooey, just add 50 grams of flour more. I did so, when I wanted it to use for a base of the cake.

Choclate Browniw Birthday Cake

Year 2013 – gone for good!

 See postitus tuleb nüüd eesti keeles kuna … ma ei teagi miks, aga tundub kuidagi ôigem.

Nii et, mis juhtus kaua oodatud 2013 aastal, mis oli vast emotsionaalsemalt üks raskemaid viimase 10 vôi ehk isegi 15 aasta jooksul.

Jaanuar

Algas suure lootustega nagu iga uus aasta, lubadused teha rohkem sporti, süüa vähem, kasutada rohkem aega oma sôpradega suheldes, veeta vähem aega TV ees. No tôepoolest ma ei saa uhke olla ühegi lubaduse täitmise eest, istun siin detsember 2013, söön shokolaadi, joon veini, vaatan poole silmaga telekat kui samas kirjutan seda postitust, kindlasti kohe ei higista ma hetkel mingit füüsilist tegevust tehes, ainuke, mis mind päästab et olen FB kahe sôbraga juba üle tunni vestelnud.

Nii et mis siis toimus pea aasta tagasi:

  • Aasta esimene päev sai juba traditsiooniliselt veedetud Simoni venna perel külas Londonis.

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  • Timo sai 8 aastaseks – jummel küll, kuhu see aeg küll kaob?

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Veebruar

  • Aasta jubedamaid hetki – ma sain neljakümneseks! Tean, tean kôik üle neljakümnesed  ütlevad nüüd, et elu alles algab, aga ainus mis mind masendab on mitte need uued kortsud ja suurenev keskkoht,vaid arvutused järelejäänud oletavast ajst siin maamuna peal. Ma olen juba 40 aastat eksisteerinud ja fakt on see et, ma ikka veel ei ole seal kus ma olla tahksin ja aiinkohal ei räägi ma materiaalsetest eesmärkidest.

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  • Samuti mahtus veebruarisse väike puhkus Bristolis ja külastasime Cheddarit (kust on pärit meie igapäevane juust)

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Märts

  • Märtsikuu suursündmuseks oli meie väike reis Prantsusmaale.

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1075

 

579

 

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 Aprill

  • Suht igav kuu, ma ei suuda leida ühtegi märget et midagi huvitavat oleks minuga juhtunud aga tundub, et lastel oli lôbu laialt.

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St George päeva tähistamine

Mai

  • Selle aasta numbris ühinesin fotograafia klassiga, mille raames sai ette vôetud mitmeid väljasôite. Üks toredamaid oli Rochesteris Sweep Festivalil. Kahjuks pole aega oma uut kaamerat nii tihti kui sooviksin kasutada (jällegi üks uue aasta lubadusi tuleb siit)

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 Samuti käisime jälegi Prantsusmaal sedakorda siis Pariisis Simoni sünnipäeva puhul.

  • Eiffeli torn.

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  • Ja saime kokku oma toredate sôpradega

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  • Ja muidugi kôige tähtsam maikuu sündmus –  kallis tütreke sai 11 aastaseks

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Juuni

Suvekuu algas kohe fotoklassi väljasôiduga Rochesteri sedakorda siis Dickensi Festivalile.

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  • Tundub et juuni mööduski pildistamise tähe all, siin siis klassiga Maidstoni piiskopi palee juures pildistamas. Seal pandi ka meid Simoniga 11 aasta eest paari.

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  • Ja klassiga pildistamas linde 🙂 Leedsi lossis.

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Juuli

Juulikuu möödus Keiti algkooli lôpetamise tähe all.

  • Nende klassijuhataja lavastas fantastilise Oliveri muusikali, mis oli tôeline elamus.

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  • Ja see oli Keiti fantastiline algkooliklass

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  •  Juulisse jäi ka Collinsite pere üli lôbus telkimise-möllamise nädalavahetus Simoni ema suve majakeses St Marys at Cliffes.

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August

Nagu alati on august Eesti kuu ja sellest vôiks eraldi postituse kohe teha. Kuna oleme paar viimast aastat autoga kohale vuranud on uusi elamusi palju.

  • Selle aasta märksônadeks on kindlasti Poola – täielik avastus mulle, fantastilised vanalinnad, toredad inimesed, palju vahvaid hetki..

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Poznan

  • Collins & Co kohvik minu kallite sôpradega Augustiunetusel.

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  • Hilisôhtune ujumine äikeselises Pärnu lahes kôige kallimatega

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  • Ja muidugi kôige tähtsam sündmus 2013 aastal – meie Lonni.

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 September

  • No ei leia ühtegi ürituse pilti, ma usun et September möödus kutsika kasvatamise tähe all 🙂

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Oktoober

  • Selle kuu suursündmus – kooli kokkutulek, nagu alati on vanade klassikaaslastega tore kokku saada ja kindlasti oli kaugelt Inglismaalt ekstra kohale tulemine seda väärt. Kuna tegemist oli spordiklassiga siis sel pildil üritab igaüks oma sporti imiteerida, vaata kas arvad ära 🙂

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November

  • Aasta suursündmus oli reis Tenerifidele mu kallite sôbrannadega. Lubasime seda teha 11 aastat tagsi minu lahkumise peol Eestis, rebisime isegi selle kinnituseks 5 kroonise katki ja jagasime laiali 🙂 ja tänu kalli Kädi tahtejôule sai see reis ka tehtud.

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Aitähh mu kôige kallimad.

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Detsember

Jôulukuu algus möödus kiirelt cateringi tähe all koos mitmete magamate öödega, aga see oli seda väärt. Kahjuks ei ole mul kunagi aega roogadest pilte teha kuna pole piisavalt tunde ööpäevas, et kôike aegsalt valmis saada. Loodan et parandan end selles suhtes.

Jôulupuu sai tuppa, kaarte jälle ei saatnud – sorry! Mitmetel jôulupeodel käidud (isegi Lonnil oli oma jôulupidu) ja suur jôulusööming 10 kg kalkuniga Collinsite perele korraldatud….kuid pilte pole tehtud. Simon ja lapsed käisid aasta lôpus Pariisis tuuritamas, kui mina korralik tööinimene kontoris kükitasin. Kuna piltidega on see kuu kehvasti siis jääb siia postituse lôppu meie pere värskeim ja ka väikseim (mitte kauaks) liige.

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 HEAD UUT AASTAT!!

Lugu uueks aastaks, et ôigele lainele end häälestada

Pharrell Williams – Happy