Mini Balkan road trip – part 2

After waking up in Novigrad and going through traditional Novigrad morning routine, which consists of eating in the bakery and going for a coffee in Flash, we headed more south. Our next destination was Klis.

All Game of Thrones fans have probably already been there. So far, I did not see a single episode of Game of Thrones – but after visiting Klis fortress (entrance ticket 40kn) I fully understand why they chose it as one of their filming locations. It is truly magnificent fortress on 3 levels kept in a great state. There are two small museums with the permanent exhibition where you can learn more about history of Klis and its warriors (famous Uskoci from Klis).

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After our nice visit to Klis and having a brunch there we realised we did not print our green card (OOOOpsie ) so we headed to Split in hope to find a print shop which would print us the green card. Since we were anyway heading to Split we also made a stop in OBI to buy a rope with which we can attach our kayak to roof. We had luck and the first print shop we called – Orion – was able to print our green card even in three different shades of green – yuhhuuuu we can continue.

Next stop was Dubrovnik – not that I planned it – but my better half has been complaining for the last 7 years that he is married to Croatian and has never been to Dubrovnik so to stop him from nagging we made a stop so he sees it at night (of course he was not satisfied and we had to stop on the way back during day). I can tell u immediately he liked it more in the night:P  In order to reach Dubrovnik you need to cross BIH (country number 4) at Neum passage – which is great cause gasoline prices are much lower there than in Croatia so if you need to tank your car, use the opportunity.

Honestly I was shocked that there were so many tourists in Dubrovnik out of season – but I guess Game of Thrones did increase its popularity. The old town is indeed magical – but prices are crazy,,,one pizza margarita 66 kn!!! Ufff so much more expensive than in Naples, the place of its origin,,,such a shame,, Honestly I can not recommend you place to eat in Dubrovnik. We did not explore a lot we made just a 2 hour break, and took in the end fast food Girice (small tasty fish) and enjoyed them:P

 

After short sightseeing of Dubrovnik we headed to Kotor, meaning we had to cross one more border. You can not enter Montenegro (country number 5) without green card that’s why we are so grateful to Print shop Orion from Split😀 Guys working at the border control are one of the nicest I have ever met during my travelling history. They were making nice jokes and letting me know that I should not forget my husband has a birthday in two days;) They also told us where to take care cause there are police controls:D In Kamenari we took a ferry to Lepetane which costs 4,50 Euros. The ride along the seaside to Kotor is just priceless. Too bad I do not have a good camera so I could not capture a nice photo of Kotor in the night – but definitely it is one of the top 3 magical spots we have visited in our lives. More about Kotor and Montenegro in the next post:D

 

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Making cookies with toddlers

I love making cookies! My kids as well:D

Here I will share with you our advent favourites, starting from the simplest one that requires no baking so it can be completely performed by 2 toddlers to slightly complex (toddler’s complex ) apple dessert:D

  1. Home made praline

Ingredients you need: 400 g digestive biscuits (Vollkornkekse)

500 mL condensed milk (Kaffe Milch)

5 big spoons of coconut flour

4 big spoons of cacao

200 g butter

for decoration : almonds, walnuts and coconut flour

Recipe: Melt the butter in microwave. Smash the biscuits so you turn them in powder like matter. My kids put biscuits in the plastic bag for freezing and used rolling-pin to go over them few times. Than you mix it all with melted butter, cacao and coconut flour, add condensed milk and put on a big flat surface and place on balcony so it cools down. We protected our with aluminium foil so birds do not eat it all:D After it has been cooled in fridge or outside you can cut it in squares and make balls of it, roll them in almond, walnuts or coconut and serve. VERY IMPORTANT : do not let your kids make this before they ate dinner – cause they ll eat all the time along the way:D

2) Banana cookies Our home favorites, we make them every week:)

Ingredients you need: 1 ripe banana

200 g flour

100 g butter

20 g vanilla sugar

Recipe:  Just mix all ingredients, roll it , cut in fun shapes and put to bake on 200 C for 13 minutes and you have super tasty cookies that fill your house with an amazing banana smell:D I have shared last year recipe for them as well, but this year I discovered you do not need baking powder at all:D

cake13) Gingerbread cookies

Ingredients you need: 340 g flour

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1 table-spoon of milled ginger

1 small spoon of NaHCO3 (soda, Natron,,)

a pinch of milled cloves

115 g of butter

5 spoons of honey

almonds and food colour for decoration

80 g powder sugar

1 egg white

2 spoons of lemon juice

Recipe: First in a separate bowl mix all the solids (after passing them through a sieve, so all the solids are in a form of fine powder). In another bowl place honey and butter and put in microwave to melt. After it is slightly cooled down mix it all well together and place in a plastic bag and put in fridge for 30 minutes. In the meantime prepare the decoration cover: Mix the egg white with powder sugar and lemon juice till you get a very dense mixture. Separate egg white in few small bowls so you can use different colours for decoration. After you take the mixture from the fridge roll it with a roller pin, let your kids cut the cookies and decorate. After they are finished decorating place it in oven at 200 C for 15 – 20 minutes and enjoy!:D

3) Simple almond cake🙂

Ingredients: 200 g milled almonds

80 g of almonds for decoration

1,5 eggs

50 g of sugar

Recipe: Mix 1 egg with al the rest of solid ingredients, and then add additional yolk. Mix it very well, pour into the cake form and bake for 20 minutes at 200 C,,,Njammmm

4) Apple, orange chestnut wonder (Apfel kastanie)

Ingredients:  2 big apples

2 big oranges

100 g of cooked meshed chestnut

3 spoons of sugar

2 spoons of rum

whipped cream

Recipe: Make a hole in apples in oranges so you can fill them with the mixture of chestnut, sugar and rum. Bake in preheated oven at 200 C for 20 minutes. Decorate with cold whipped cream and enjoy!!! Me and kids prefer apples my husband prefers oranges:)

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What are your favorite Advent cookies or sweet desserts? Would you like to try some of my?:D

 

 

 

 

 

Avocado-shrimp tasty wonder

Those of you who know me for more than 10 years, know that I used to be a person for who a meal without meat was not a meal at all:D Things change over time, so I ve learned to make some vegetarian dishes during my cooking journey. I experiment a lot. Here I will present one of my pseudo vegeterian dishes:) I love shrimps so with them I experiment the most – I still feel sorry for my better half and Ivica for eating one of my first shrimp experiments evers (shrimp strawberry). You two will always be remembered as brave heroes!!! The recipe described here is well optimised and tested numerous times, so you can relax and enjoy:D

Ingredients you need (for a family of 2 adults and 2 small kids):

1 red onion

4 cloves of garlic

180 g shrimp

2 avocados

400 mL coconut milk

1/2 lemon

300 g noodles

olive oil

Procedure: Put noodles to cook in boiling salty water. In the meantime, fry garlic, onion and shrimps for 5-7 minutes on olive oil and stir all the time. Add coconut milk, squeeze half of the lemon, add avocados which you previously mashed with a fork. Cook additional minute in a wok and then mixed the pasta with it. Voila! Enjoy!!!:D

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Gardening in November

If you are like us situated on the Northern hemisphere, having snow around at the moment, you must ask yourself what am I talking about -gardening in november?!?

There are plenty of plants that can be planted in November!:) And that is indeed a great thing since my kids love gardening and spending time outside in our garden.

Since we planted tulips in October, Natalia requested we plant some purple plants in November. So our purple choice is depicted in the photo below:

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Do your kids also enjoy gardening? What is their favorite thing to do in the garden?

 

PS As you can see we planted them last week, before the snowfall:D

Impact of social environment on our children

As most of you already probably know – I am not a big fan of pink. It turns out my daughter is. If it would be on her to choose, everything would be pink. Luckily my son is not a big fan of pink so I do not need to suffer from seeing their room painted in pink, since if they would agree they would probably end up in pink room and my eyes would hurt every time I would enter. Another thing – somehow, definitely not my influence, she has some specific fashion taste and knows well which colour go well together and which not. As you can imagine I get very criticised o daily basis for my fast suggestions on what she could dress that day, sth along lines : Mooom, that does not fit at all together! Oh, well what can I do, I just like as many colours as possible but seems I am really tasteless according to my three-year old professional.

But what shocked me lately was her replies to her brother what he can not do or be cause he is a boy. So apparently Miro can definitely not be a ballerina nor a princess (of course he claims it very often since he hears it often from her). And apparently her brother is too stupid to be a pilot since boys are stupid. what??? She has never heard that word from me, neither in any of the books she read there is a single note that boys are more stupid than girls. More shockingly this weekend they were playing mommy and daddy and Miro wanted to prepare dinner and Natalia forbid him cause apparently dads do not cook. It was kind of funny cause at that very moment my husband was preparing pancakes for breakfast. I asked her, but Natalia do you see that your dad cooks. She stopped for a second, and said Dads should not cook. I have no clue how or where my little girl picks up these conclusions, but I guess from her friends in KG. I still remember this summer when one boy approached her to play with and brought her various cars with which she was very happy, but then his sisters criticised him, something along the lines how could he bring her boy toys. She apparantely should not play with boy toys.

Woow, parenting journey is really tough, it is not only us parents who are raising our children but also all their friends, teacher, doctors, cousins.

I really hope I will manage to raise my kids that they can always have a different opinion and follow their dreams😀

Wish luck to all my fellow parent warriors!!!

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Things I wish I knew before I had my first baby

Since at the moment lots of my friends are pregnant, I realised there is actually no online summary of useful stuff you would like to know before you step into this amazing journey of parenthood. Ofcourse, there are lots of parenting books and websites out there, but no book will really prepare you for this jungle journey of parenthood. Also, there are numerous parenting experts out there, with advice that collide with each other (e.g. some suggest to put your kids always at 7 pm to sleep, some suggest to wait till your kid is tired etc.). Truth is – you as a parent will find your own unique way, combining the wisdom and making some new wisdom of your own.

So here goes my “wisdom” list:

  1. Do not believe uncle Google to have all the wise solutions of this world prepared for you. If you have some worry during your pregnancy do not ask Dr Google – ask the midwife who is taking care of your pregnancy. For example during my pregnancy with Natalia for the first 20 weeks I had light bleeding. First time I asked uncle Google – he pointed me on all possible negative outcomes, starting from miscarriage. From someone who has experienced already one, you become kind of paranoid. Luckily, I had the most amazing midwife Joyce, who has forbidden me to ask uncle Google any more questions. She convinced me everything is ok with my pregnancy and it is just the way my body reacts to it. We almost canceled our trip to China cause of my bleedings, but she convinced us to go and in case somethings does go wrong just to go immediately to the hospital. The truth is if you start reading and asking uncle google about miscarriage and pregnancy it turn out that even biking and eating spinach can cause it – so please ignore Uncle Google.
  2. Enjoy pregnancy!!! Go to the cinema as much as you can, enjoy all the alone time with your partner, travel, cook new dishes, go on as many dates as possible – because soon you will not have that much of free time;)
  3. Prepare for delivery. Talk with your partner and midwife about all possibilities. Choose the one that fits you the most. We are all different and only you know well enough your body. I always knew I wanted a natural delivery without epidural (mostly cause I get freaked out from needles I would prefer giving birth 3 times in one day than getting an epidural injection;). Write everything down. I can recommend a book I got as a present from my midwife – Birth from within – for the birth preparation (psychological preparation).  Do not stop with exercise just cause you are pregnant, pregnancy is not a disease – but a divine state. Practice as much yoga and pilates, it will help your delivery to proceed smoother. Buy yourself pads for after delivery, you ll be heavily bleeding for 4-6 weeks. I have tried various and I can only recommend Chicco mama pads – they were the only ones that could hold for few hours. Get some nipple cream to be able to put before every breastfeeding especially during first two weeks.
  4. Do not hurry to the hospital on the delivery date – that was the best advice I got from my midwife. She told us to prepare for the day by borrowing some nice movies we enjoy and to watch at least for 4 hours when the first irregular contractions start. On 6th June at 6 am my first contraction started followed by bleeding. First thing I did – went back to bed and tried to get some sleep – BEST decision I made in my life. I was waken up every 40 min by strong contraction, but my dear husband would press painful spot on my back and I could go back to sleep. At 9 am we stood up and had breakfast. Honestly, I was sceptical and wanted to go to hospital but my better half convinced me it’s not the time yet and to wait at least till lunch time and to have a nice warm bath. So at 12 we had lunch, my contractions started to be every 10-15 min and at 13 we headed to the hospital. That day at 17:55 Natalia was born. I can not imagine that on that day my better half would not with me. His hands were completely blue – so I guess his advice for dads would be – cut your wife’s nails before entering hospital:P He has helped me to reach whatever position I wanted to be and it was exhausting for him just as much as for me. It was one of the most beautiful days in my life, and at the same time the most exhausting.
  5. If organising baby shower – ask your friends to give you as a present their time after you give birth! Especially if there will be no family member to help you around – any help with cooking and cleaning is much more valuable than any other present for newborn. Maybe during baby shower you can organise cooking time where your friends help you prepare food stocks for the first month of your mom time and freeze it cause you will NOT have time for it.
  6. Do not buy lots of baby clothes – actually if you can do not buy any clothes. Ask your friends and cousins to borrow you. Do not buy some sweet looking clothes. You want some practical clothes that you can easily take off, that is also comforting for your baby. Your newborn baby will mostly sleep, poop and eat – really no need for fancy clothing, just need for clothing that you can change as fast as possible when poop explosions arrive. Your newborn baby will grow up fast (first size clothes will be outgrown in ca 2 weeks).
  7. Get a good quality baby carrier – every child is different and maybe you will not need it. With Natalia I actually did not need one, but she was a super easy baby in every sense. But baby carrier saved me with her brother, who required to be breastfed every 30-45 minutes for the first 6 months. Do not be deceived by brand – Chicco, Maxi cosi and Bjorn carriers are not ergonomically correct and will cause you lots of back pain. I can recommend Ergobaby adapt, but there are much more good quality baby carriers out there. I am too lazy to use RS or wraps, I wanted something that I can place my baby in within seconds;)

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Exploring lacing game – The tree

In our family we love playing games together. Apart from spending precious time together, kid can learn so much during playing . Some crucial things they learn during and develop with time is patience, taking turns, listening, memory and cooperativity.

We are always excited to try some new board games. Recently we got an amazing opportunity to try a new lacing board game developed by Linit Design . I got especially interested in this game as it incorporates a traditionally important Montessori activity of bead stringing and lacing into a board game possibility. It is such a great material to practice fine motorics so here is how our kids explored this game.

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As with all new games and toys I first let the kids explore material on their own. After opening the wooden box containing all the parts of the game – Natalia immediately went for a lace and started lacing through the wholes in a tree. She already had experience with bead stringing – and making necklaces of big beads – so her next activity was “bead” stringing all the corresponding leaves, fruits and flowers.

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As a third step after few days of exploring material and observing me how I combine this lacing and bead stringing activity she did it herself. And believe me it is not so trivial;) Just this activity itself requires patience and fine motor skills, especially from a freshly turned 3 year old:) Her little brother was just observing what she was doing and then trying to place all laces into the wholes – practicing more a pegging activity, which is his favorite thing lately.

The game comes with a wheel turning around with an arrow which can point on one of the objects that can be laced to the tree. As the authors have imagined this game can be play with up to 5 players, and once you have your turn, you turn the “wheel” and you get the object which you are supposed to attach to your tree initially. If you got cherry at first, the goal is to collect all cherrys and lace them to your tree before other players fill their trees with other objects. But the most beautiful thing about this game that you as a family can invent so many versions of this board game and play it at your home, in more competetive or cooperative manner;)

After playing shortly with the turning of the arrow,  Natalia noticed that the arrow can points just in between two fields. And here came our family idea – why not to use this moment and instead of turning again introduce another element to the game. We have decided to introduce a dark grey cloud which would be placed in between two trees, after the arrow is placed right on the border between two fields. Huge storm would be achieved once in between each of the two trees (we placed 5 trees in a circle) there would be one grey cloud. Additionally, we decided to turn it into a cooperative game – it was all player’s goal to fill in all the trees with a corresponding element (e.g. all cherries on one tree, all apples on another, etc.). We had to lace all the elements to all the trees before the huge storm would arrive. Once there were five grey clouds – we lost from the huge storm which would take all our fruits and flowers from the trees. It turned out into a big family fun:)

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For us this was a unique experience – a board game which at the same time has all characteristics of an open ended toy. At the moment Natalia is mostly interested in using it to build her own necklaces and bracelets, and guess with time, many more versions of this game will appear according to imagination of our kids:D

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