Anyone with children knows that sanity can be a hard thing to come by. Anyone surviving on three hours of sleep and one cold container of spaghetti over any given three day no-shower brand new baby cry and poop fest understands that a new parent is a always a minute away from calling it in during those first ten weeks (and beyond). Anyone with baby puke in their hair needs a lifeline.

Meet my local team–

Photo courtesy of the Wigleys

These gorgeous women have answered my call at all hours of the day and night. They have made me tea, sandwiches, cake, and more cake… They have laughed at my texts and my inappropriate emails. They have comforted me in moments of irrational trains of thought. They have shared their hearts and gone into battle with me. They have lent me things, allowed me to lend them things, given sage advice, acted like I was wise sometimes too, gushed over Kenneth, invited us over, popped around, breastfed in public with me, talked about poo, taken longs walks, arranged for girly cocktail nights and just been otherwise fantactular.

They are the mums of these incredible babies.

Separately, we second guess our every move as we dance and or feed in the dark morning hours–but together we make one helluva competent parent. We are a force to be reckoned with when we take on the town. It’s not entirely unlike a scene from Charlie’s Angels. But with fistfuls of teething rings and coffee instead of guns. And buggies and baby carriers instead of fast cars or chase sequences. Perhaps with less make up. And the explosions are a little different. Ok. It’s nothing like a scene from Charlie’s Angels; never mind.

Charlie should be so lucky.

Other People’s Children

Girls in wacky tights look good in photos with babies.
kassi maggie jen

See, what did I tell you?

Some day, I won’t have to borrow other people‘s gorgeous children. For now though, it is a pretty sweet deal. That’s my girl Kassi on the left and baby Maggie on the right. Maggie’s mom and dad were on a date, but my other Thomas family members are there. (You might have to squint.)

The point is that I’ve been thinking about this whole baby thing. I am not thrilled with the wait or the struggles of late, but I am also scared stiff that I might find myself in fast forward. Maybe the best thing to do is figure out what lesson I am supposed to have learned and just get in the flow. That seems to be where all the cool cats are hanging these days… In the flow.

Jane’s Balls

There doesn’t need to be a reason, but Drew’s awesomeness is as good a reason as any I can think of to make Jane’s Balls.
janes balls

I don’t know what kind of crack she puts in hers that makes them so much better than mine, but they are and always will be. This run has been fairly successful, though. With constant practice, one day she might hire me to work as one of her pastry chefs…

Location, Location, Location

Once there was a girl named Sian. She taught me the slang meaning of ‘greedy gannets’ and other valuable phrases. She mentored me, trained me, and witnessed me singing Ice Ice Baby at an inappropriate hour of the day in what could be construed as an unprofessional move on my part… She was my travel buddy.

There is still a girl named Sian, in love with a boy named Mark, as I hear it told. These two best friends have taken off on vacation to the land of Oz where surfing is much more popular than in land locked London. And they might be on vacation for a long, long time.

I ache for them at the same time that my heart leaps for joy in my chest. With sincerest hope, I wish them both all the very best.
friends at thanksgiving

Fat and Happy

We three chefs of London, N1, have forged new Thanksgiving traditions…
thanksgiving chefs

Wine is a relatively new addition for me; and you can see that we really don’t need it. We are quite silly already.
elsa opens wine

First, we start with a big mess. Then we make it an organised mess with too much cream and/or butter while we pretend to look at recipes.
thankgiving prep

Eventually, it looks like this.
broccoli casserole


mash potato

green bean casserole

Jen with dinner

And we are happy.
helene approves thanksgiving

And then there is pie.
pecan pie

I am not eating ever again until next year.
pumpkin pie

Missing: One Pumpkin

The days are growing shorter all the time, there are rumors of snow (did I just type that out loud?), and I think the hay-fever has cleared. This can only mean that winter is really here to stay its course this time. And here I am again making the grocery list that has too much butter… Finding the strength to celebrate, despite my mother’s leaving, has not come to me all at once. It has come in waves of responsibility and true thankfulness.

2010 has not been without challenge, but I think it has firmly sunk in how truly rich I am. What I have is miles more than I deserve; it would be nice to know that everyone wakes up to the smile of their best friend (I hope your best friend doesn’t tickle you before you are very awake). I’d like to know that everyone has the means to have big-family-gathering, Thanksgiving-style feasts. It would be great to have Dr Who style transport to all the places I’d like to be, but I’ve got a stable job — these days they both seem equally hard to come by. I have beautiful friends –- here, there, soon-to-be-elsewhere… Just sharing with each one a walk on the same stretch of road in the journey of life is an incredible gift I get to keep opening every day.

That family of mine… Dang, Gina. We cause each other a lot of worry; Drew and I both get that sensitivity honestly. But I do not have a doubt that I am always loved, completely unconditionally. If there is any one of us that doesn’t know that yet, he or she just isn’t ready to hear it, but it is always true.

There is nothing else I need. I’d like some of the green bean casserole that my dad is making, but I will have to wait for Christmas. But there is nothing else I need.

May you have everything you need, too…

A Song For You

‘You taught me precious secrets / of a true love withholding nothing…
If my words don’t come together, please listen to the melody /
[be]cause my love is in there somewhere hiding’

I have not said ‘thank you’ as many times or to as many people as I should. In the aftermath of 2009, I felt loved at the least – if not carried.

Angels walk among us; I know because one of them sent me spoons.

spoon up close

There was also a sweet personal story, a recipe box, recipes, vegan chocolate chips, beautiful cupcake cups, and an exquisite apron.
apron and stuff

The first thing these spoons made was Vegan Pistachio Rosewater cupcakes.
vegan pistachio rosewater

Maybe they weren’t as pretty as the photo in the cookbook, but making them was music to my soul. Who knew a girl could find so much joy in spoons and corn meal?

Thank you, Thomas family, for this and your many beautiful gifts.

Southern Belle in London

One of the joys of living abroad is having a good excuse to play host and hostess to friends and adventurers seeking sleep (and/or beer) in London. I am very lucky to be loved enough that when my friend Candace‘s mom came to Europe to visit, Candace shared her mom with me. Cheryl’s visit was the perfect end of summer treat.

With only 2.2 days in London post family trip to Rome, there was a lot to see. Lee and Cheryl covered a lot of ground on Friday while Candace, Drew, and I finished the work week. The weekend was a beautiful blur.

We introduced her to soho.
bracelet story

soho queen

To all the girls and boys, and those in between – for the love of self respect, your skirt should be long enough to cover the subject.

After that, I almost need a smoke, too.
cuban purchase

We took a breath at Piccadilly Circus.
cheryl at piccadilly

(Why wasn’t I born with hair like this?)
hair at piccadilly

Candace and Lee didn’t think Cheryl should miss Borough Market.
borough market

I agree.
borough market bread
Get in my belly.

Who can resist organically grown chilies that make your nose bleed?!
chili stall borough market

Amazingly enough, we had time for Ye Ol’ Cheshire Cheese-
cheshire cheese

and ladies’ tea at Fortnum and Mason before Candace and Lee took Cheryl out for a big surprise.
fortnum and mason

I wish I could have seen her face when they led her to the Lyceum Theatre to see The Lion King… At least I got to hear her describe it when they got home. Ah, good times.

If you’d like to share your vacation with the Huddlestons, please do let us know. We need some extra mouths to feed at Thanksgiving.

Dolly Parton and Ladyhawke

What do Dolly Parton and Ladyhawke have in common? Well, I know that they both get airtime at my favorite local pub. Do you know how much that pleases me? Consider this your informative bulletin.

Emily is back from Madrid and Lauren survived her big press release on Friday so we headed to The Marksman to celebrate.  (Ok, maybe we would make up any ‘ol excuse to take people to The Marksman.)
em and lauren

And we sang 9 to 5 followed by My Delirium, ate too much, laughed, shared, rolled out the door blowing kisses to a handsome Australian food expert… Ah, yum. 

Drew took his leave after lunch to work at home (ick, bleck, eww. Yes, I said ‘work’ on a Sunday). So, the ladies and I wandered through the flower market on Columbia Road. Lauren treated me to beautiful yellow and golden orange Gerber daisies. They really do a lot for my stark white flat.

We popped into a couple of really great shops. I got Drew a little present – I got one for a lucky blog reader as well, so it must remain a surprise until the next Giveaway…

*Emily treated me to Cava sangria later that evening, which we served in my new, hot little retro pitcher.

Emily, Drew and I sat in our pajamas sipping sangria as we watched the first episode of this season’s Dr. Who – LIVE. We have finally gotten on the British Dr. Who watching schedule…  Seriously folks.  I think we are really in London.

* I was totally spoiled after a few hours with my girls… And if you have Emily as a house guest, she makes you tea and does your dishes. Lauren will arrange your flowers if you’ll have her over for some tea. When are you ladies coming over again?!

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