restaurant review: wahaca and pinkberry (at bluewater shopping centre)

so even though pretty much every waking moment of my life is consumed by s (and i love it, i really do) i thought it might be a good idea to branch out a little bit in the blogging world. so let’s talk about food!

when p gets a rare day off, we like to venture out and explore something new. our days usually include eating, obviously, as well as shopping and mooching. today we went to bluewater shopping centre just outside of london. for those of you who haven’t been there, let’s just say it’s pretty much the mecca of the shopping world. it’s one of the top uk shopping centres, behind the westfield centres in london, metrocentre in newcastle, and the trafford centre in manchester. i’ve been to all of the top malls (apart from the new westfield centre near the olympic park) and they all live up to their reputations: full of tempting, posh stores and inappropriate romanesque statues. so we were excited to try this one out.

bluewater is situated just south of the thames estuary and looks like it was built in an old mining site. the hills around it have all been blasted out. it really looks so cool! the centre itself is a two floor triangle shaped building with hundreds of shops, restaurants, a cinema, and an event centre. the restaurants (the most important part, obviously) are varied and, for the most part, very posh. we decided to try out wahaca, an authentic style mexican street food restaurant, for lunch.

wahaca, complete with recycled bottle lighting!

i have to preface this review with the following: p and i consider ourselves mexican food connoisseurs. i’ve spent quite a bit of time in mexico (my parents go to isla mujeres, a tiny island off the coast of cancun, every year and have taken me and my sisters a handful of times) and p loves to cook mexican food at least once a week. we’ve had good mexican (chipotle), bad mexican (chiquito), and even great mexican (nanna mexico) outside of mexico itself. so we were equal parts excited and terrified to try wahaca (the phonetic spelling of the mexican city oaxaca).

we were not disappointed. the service was pretty good, even though we were seated next to probably the most negative family on the planet. p ordered the citrus fizz, a soft drink not unlike a mojito (minus the rum, of course), and loved it. i ordered a diet coke, which is a diet coke. 😉 i’m always a little angry inside at england for not serving free refills of soft drinks or for not even having fountain drink machines, but hey, this is europe. smaller is the norm. we decided to order a few street food options each and share. p ordered pork pibil tacos and the chorizo quesadilla, and i ordered steak tacos and chicken taquitos. all the food was EXCELLENT. both taco dishes came as three tiny, perfect corn tortillas topped with pulled pork/steak strips, pico de gallo, cheese, and sour cream drizzle. the tortillas might as well have been flown in from the dusty streets of isla mujeres, and tasted as if they’d been made that morning by the tiny ancient mayan women i’ve walked past dozens upon dozens of times before. the quesadilla was standard: tasty but nothing unique. the taquitos were yummy and deep fried and also topped with pico de gallo. the portions were small, but were designed to be that way, since customers are encouraged to try lots of different options, tapas-style. we debated ordering seconds (since s ate half of the tortilla from the quesadilla and some of the pico) but settled on fresh churros with hot chocolate sauce instead. yum! the bill came to £24 and we were not disappointed. p raved, ‘this is my new favorite restaurant!!!’ approximately two seconds after tasting the amazingly authentic tacos, and s screeched with happiness throughout. we’re definitely going back, and thinking about petitioning the company to set up shop in cambridge!

s and her cheeky face

before leaving to drive home (and sit in traffic at the dartford crossing…note to self, don’t drive on the london orbital during rush hour) we decided we needed something sweet. as i’m a fan of LC and the hills (i know, i know. i blame pregnancy and a bored me with cankles for getting me hooked on that one) i know all about the frozen yogurty goodness of pinkberry. there are only three in the uk (the other two are at westfield stratford city and selfridges on oxford street, london) so i really wanted to try it. us east coast girls don’t get much of a froyo experience, and in my hometown we only JUST welcomed a coldstone creamery. the staff were so friendly, i felt like i was back in the states. seriously, british customer service usually leaves something to be desired. not here. we sampled a few of the flavors, since we hadn’t been there before. i settled on a small (giant!) coconut with fresh raspberries, kiwi, pineapple, and blueberries on top. p got a small pomegranate with waffle cone flakes, strawberries, raspberries, and granola on top. we gave a lot of the fresh fruit to s, which she gobbled up quicker than you can say pinkberry. they didn’t have high chairs, so s sat on p’s lap and spilled red berry juice all over her white tights and her daddy, but no one minded. for around £7, we could complain about nothing other than the lack of child seating and some mediocre granola. win!

faster, dad, faster!

conclusion: six thumbs up for our bluewater dining experience! stay tuned for more food reviews soon. i hope to do some cambridge based ones soon, also including their varying degrees of baby-friendly-ness.

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eight months

dear sophia,

i can’t believe you’re eight months old today! you’re a proper baby now with your very own personality and quirks. it’s fantastic to see you grow, learn, and play every day. i’m so grateful to be able to experience all of your firsts with you and wouldn’t trade a moment (even the not so nice ones) for the world. here’s what you’ve been up to this month:

playing: you still love to play rough, and i think we have your daddy to blame for that. you love flying on his legs, rolling around on the floor with him, and sitting on his shoulders. i think he secretly throws you in the air, too, but i’ll turn a blind eye because i’m only KIND OF nervous about you getting whiplash or hitting the light fixtures. only kind of. 😉 you’re still rolling and sitting beautifully, but you can also sit up from a laying down position and have just just just started to CRAWL!!! it only happened on saturday and luckily daddy, gram, and i were all there to see it (gram was there via skype, unfortunately not in person). it really really is the beginning of the end now for us. time to bolt the bookcases to the walls and get some gates up. and vacuum daily. even though it makes you cry, the naughty hoover. you’re also waving at the baby in the mirror (who we talk to every day) and anyone else who will catch your eye, clapping along to if you’re happy and you know it (and justin bieber songs…i know, i know), and are this close to blowing kisses. you’re smiling, chatting, and experimenting with new sounds all the time. you like to play peekaboo and are starting to develop a cheeky little sense of humor when you offer food and toys but take them away before we can get to them. you NEVER stop moving (unless daddy is watching something like return of the jedi on tv!). you are SO MUCH FUN to be around. also exhausting. phew.

eating: BLW is going so well and we couldn’t be happier. you love your food, and have started to show preferences for certain foods over others. you like your veggies sometimes, but prefer breads and rice cakes to the really healthy stuff. oh well, baby steps! you also really don’t like cheese. whose baby are you, seriously?! when i let you feed yourself messy meals, the room is covered in rice and sauce. but you love it! you’re so proud of yourself when you can do it on your own, so we let you as much as possible. you still love eating out at restaurants, but spend most of your time flirting with the waiters and other patrons (i don’t know WHERE you get it from, honestly). you feel so special when i let you drink water out of the bottle or grown up glass, and seem to prefer it to sippy cups. maybe you’re trying to tell me something!

sleeping: this month you’ve come along leaps and bounds with your sleep schedule. you go down at 7ish without a fuss, after a bottle feed from daddy or a cuddly feed from me when he’s at work. you’re adaptable and rarely cry at night, probably because you tucker yourself out with all your crazy activity during the day. we still haven’t moved you, but i don’t really mind anymore because it’s nice to wake up and hear your little snores from the end of the bed. you’ve been suffering from a cough that just won’t go away for the last few weeks, so sometimes you wake up coughing, but can usually get yourself back to sleep. the only negative with your sleeping this month is your waking time. for some reason (i blame daylight savings time) your body clock decides to wake you up at 5am. every. single. day. i love that there’s time for family breakfast before daddy has to go to work, but seriously, girl. 6:30 would be fantastic, once in awhile. as a result of your early waking times, you still have three naps most days. yesterday was a record: first nap at 7:30am. it was a loooooong day. you’re also teething again, so i think it wakes you up earlier at naptimes. poor bunny! soon you’ll have six teeth (or more!) and will look more and more like a big girl.

socializing: as well as being a kinetic and energetic little girl, you’re a little social butterfly lately. we go swimming with friends every friday and usually stay in town for lunch. most days we go into town to meet daddy for coffee and quick cuddles while he’s in between services and phd work. we meet other friends occasionally for coffee and you love being out and about all the time. i’ve just heard cambridge is starting a kindermusik program for babies in the new year, so we’ll add that to our schedule soon enough! you love shopping with me (unless you’re tired, in which case you usually scream your way through john lewis until you fall asleep). we also took you to your first mini photo shoot this month (see a sneak peek of it in this post), which you absolutely LOVED. you hammed it up for the camera and francesca, the lovely photographer. maybe we should make some money out of you through baby modeling!!! JUST KIDDING, but seriously, we would make some decent cash. 😉

it has been one heck of a month. you’re coming along so quickly that i often forget what you were like only a month ago. i look back at pictures of you as a newborn and feel like you’re a totally different little girl! thank you for letting me share this time with you. here’s to another fantastic month!

i love you!

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Eight months

veterans day.

i wanted to write a post about veterans day and the special meaning it has in my life, but it’s hard for me to find the words. i have pretty funny political views about the military and their presence in our world, but i have so much respect for the men and women who fought for us in world war ii. my 90 year old grandpa ray is a wwii vet and one of the most important people in my life. we’ve always had a special bond and have had some pretty cool conversations about his time in the pacific, particularly at iwo jima and the surrounding islands. 

luckily for my fumbling fingers, my fabulous mother has started her own blog (which is just as fabulous as she is!) and posted about my relationship with my grandpa ray. check it out here and give her a follow. i’m sure she’ll appreciate it!

happy veterans day, grandpa!

squirrels on the hill: veterans day

 

naked babies, days (and nights!) out, and milestones.

i’m finding it harder and harder to take time to write posts, but it’s so important that i get it down…partly because it seems like this whole baby brain thing never goes away, and partly because i know you all want to creep on my life more often. don’t lie, i do it too. 😉

so this week we had another normal stay at home mommy and baby week (but this is going to come to an end soon…stay tuned for updates on mommy solo life!). most days we like to get out of the house, and to be honest, s is a much happier baby when we’re going and doing and buying and eating out. which is great for my sanity, and not so great for the wallet. again, i need to become a crafty momma so i can stay at home and still make some money!!! (realistic) suggestions appreciated.

on saturday we took s to her first proper photo shoot! i’ve been kicking myself for not having the adorable newborn baby in a basket photos taken (sorry rachel, they are just so damned cute!) and so we decided christmas was the perfect time for s to make her debut. we went with the fabulous francesca db photography and didn’t regret it. s was a natural hambone and LOVED francesca. if you’re ever in the mood for some babysitting, s would love it! 😉 just kidding, she already has her hands full with two gorgeous twin girls and another baby on the way. the session was lovely and short (30 minutes, which was perfect for s) and consisted of solo shots of s as well as a few family pics (p was like, i don’t want to be in more than one picture that we buy…this is about s! talk about stage daddy.). s enjoyed the attention and ate her way through the plastic wrapping on a candy cane. i see a future as a model, perhaps?! here’s a sneak peek at one of the proofs from the session…we can’t wait to see the rest soon!

last night was guy fawkes night (as you brits will know) and i really really wanted to take s out. i’ve heard that fireworks can be a great sensory experience for babies and was keen for her to see it. cambridge has a fantastic FREE display and bonfire on midsummer common every year, and nearly 25,000 people turn out every year. it’s right over the river from us, so there was really no excuse not to go. i was a bit nervous about how s would react, but i bit the bullet and decided to go. i woke her up after bedtime (which she loved…not), snuggled her up in her teddy bear snowsuit, and popped her in the ergo. she’s at the age now where she doesn’t hate being in it, so it was actually really nice. we stayed across the road, out of the crowd, and watched comfortably from a distance. s LOVED the fireworks and stayed awake for the whole thing. it was freaking cold, though, so we headed home straight afterwards. i highly recommend taking your baby to a fireworks display, if you can get over the noise and the idea that they may or may not freak out. here’s a few shots of the night:

my little ewok…i mean teddy bear.

enjoying the fireworks!

at the moment i’m loving (almost) every moment at home with s. she’s so big now (8 months next week! stay tuned for the 8 month update post) and is finally a ‘proper’ baby. she’s so close to crawling…i’m pretty sure she can go backwards a little bit. we really need to get some gates going and properly babyproof this house. she can also clap, say dada (to both of us), wave, and sit up confidently by herself. i love my little girl! (someone please remind me of this post when i’m complaining about something or other in a few weeks’ time.)