Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas All Around

I just wanted to drop by and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Brit Boy and I went to London to the theatre yesterday and it was great. I'll share a full report in a few days. I'm going to be taking a mini blogging break for a few days, but I just wanted to share a few sights from Christmas around the Yellow House.

We had a bit of snow here in Wiltshire over the past few days, but now it's all gone. Here's the snow resting on the heads of our little gnome and cat in the garden.

And this is a view out front with the snow dusting everything. You can see a bit of our decorations. They are multi-colored lanterns that we have draped across the window.

Here's my latest creation in the kitchen. It's sort of a Victoria Sponge/Strawberry Shortcake/Strawberry Cheesecake hybrid that I came up with and I'll probably never be able to make it again. LOL. It's a vanilla layer cake with a bit of strawberry juice drizzled into the pores and then I globbed on the cream cheese icing and put strawberries in the center. It's reminiscent of a cake I did before, but it's one better. We had some today and it was delicious. I think I'll try this one again for Valentine's Day or something :-)

And here are a couple of photos in London of Covent Garden. It was bustling with pre-Christmas traffic. We walked from here to the theatre. It was a wonderful afternoon :-)

Have a wonderful holiday!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Creations

 I wanted to share this post from Brit Boy's blog about our little project that we did for this Christmas. We are hoping to make this a regular tradition :-) I think we have a knack for it. This was really fun and it brought an extra layer of enjoyment to the season for us. I hope you enjoy taking a look at our finished product. So without further delay, here's Brit Boy!!!! ;-)

Christmas is so very nearly upon us now. Amazingly, we are all but ready for the festivities with still 6 days to go until the Big Day. We have all the presents bought and wrapped, the Yellow House is also fully decorated and the tree has been up in place for 2 weeks now.

We have also written and sent most of our Christmas cards. When we went over to the States for Thanksgiving, we took the presents and cards for our family and friends over there. Both the gifts and the cards were manufactured by ourselves and we thought that you would like to see what we have made. Dori will be talking about the gifts in a future post, but here are some pictures of a few of the cards that we made.

We obtained all the various materials from different sources and then had a small assembly line going to get all the cards made. We used small sticky pads to make some of the elements on the cards stand out, and give a 3D effect to them. The envelopes were not lined when we bought them – Dori lined them all herself using some patterned paper. And then when the cards were all complete, we put them in envelopes and then sealed the envelopes with a wax seal. This involved melting some wax onto the envelopes and then pressing the wax with a metal stamp.

Don’t worry that I am spoiling any surprises here – we handed out the cards when we were in Georgia and everyone was very pleased to receive them. Sometimes something that is handmade can be so much more personal, and shows that some real thought has gone into it, as time rather than just money has been spent on it.

It was an enjoyable process, and we definitely got better at it as time went on! This may well be the way of the future. I can definitely see us producing more homemade products in the upcoming years. If we do, then I know we will share it all with you here.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And The Winner Is....LOL

I got some great news! As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a photo that was shortlisted to be in the Schmap travel guide. Well, I got included in the guide!!! :-) I was so thrilled to get this news. Here's the photo of the hour in my world :-) It's of St. Paul’s Cathedral's Great West Door.

This has truly been a great gift to me. So I just wanted to share my great news with you all!

I’ll be sharing more of my photo efforts in the New Year. So watch this space :-)

Also, I was reading some comments here and judging from the comments, I realized that a few of you may have missed my posts about going home to Georgia. Let me warn you, they’re lengthy, but I hope you enjoy them :-) Also, if you’re interested, you can see what I look like in the first post here, and the other posts for your reading pleasure ;-) are here and here.

Have a great weekend everybody and I’ll talk to you later!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Nomination and Three Awards

I wanted to share some great news with everyone and also say thank you for some awards that I have received recently.

First, my good news is that I have a photograph that has been shortlisted by Schmap guides for inclusion in their travel guide. I told Brit Boy that even if I don't ultimately get included in the guide, I'm pleased beyond belief to have been considered :-) There's no pay for being included, but I don't mind at all. This truly spurs me on to get better and better and to learn more. I do love photography. This was a great surprise to me since I didn't submit it myself. When we returned home from our trip back to Georgia, I had an email from the editor of an ezine that I contribute to. She said that they'd seen my photo in the magazine's Flickr stream and wanted to possibly use it. Who knew :-) It truly made my day and week! I'll keep you all posted. I can understand now what actresses mean when they say it's a thrill just to be nominated...LOL. Here's my photo. It's an alternative view of St Paul's Cathedral. This is the Great West Door of this lovely place.

Also, I wanted to thank two bloggy friends for passing some awards along to me. I'm so grateful to both of them for thinking of me and my little blog :-) Both of these ladies have great blogs that I love to read on a regular basis, so if you'd like to have a couple of great reads, please stop by and visit both of them.

Judy at Sixty Is Just The Beginning gave me the My Comments Rock Award and the Dragon Loyalty Award. I love both of them because they remind me of the community aspect of blogging that I adore. I would like to pass both of them along to all of you my wonderful readers and commenters. So please take these two awards with you if you'd like.

And Patricia at Subjective Soup passed along the Superior Scribbler Award to me. I have enjoyed writing my whole life so I really love this award too. I'm so glad that she likes what I write here, because I love her writing too :-) I'd like to pass this one along to everyone also, because I love so many of your blogs and I think that they're all quite superior.

Have a great rest of the weekend everyone. Talk to you later!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Home to Georgia - Part Three

Today I want to finish telling you all about our trip home to Georgia for Thanksgiving. At this point I’m up to the day before Thanksgiving. So Wednesday, Brit Boy and I hung out with my sister and my other niece. We went to the mall in Lithonia to see what was new around there. We mostly did window shopping, but it was fun. Then we went to have lunch. Brit Boy and I were on a bit of a culinary tour…LOL. Now it’s time for a food photo….here’s my lunch from that day.

I had Memphis dry rubbed ribs, potatoes with onions, bacon, and cheese and washed it down with blackberry tea. As you can probably imagine, I quickly put down my camera and got back to my lunch very quickly…LOL. They had a deal going where two people could eat for $20. So Brit Boy and I shared an appetizer and then I had what I mentioned above and Brit Boy had a fancy cheeseburger and fries. Then we shared a truly delicious dessert called molten cake. The molten cake was a volcano-shaped chocolate cake/cupcake type thing with hot fudge drizzling down it like lava and it was served with vanilla ice cream. Sorry I didn’t get a photo of it. The camera battery died. But believe me, it was good!!!!! :-)

After this we headed back home. My niece had to go to school to take an exam, so we tagged along as my sister gave her a ride to school. She had had the morning off. My niece is in her second year of college. It’s wild! I remember when she was born :-) She is living at home while she attends college nearby…smart girl. We really enjoyed the ride to her campus. It’s a beautiful drive to take…all leafy and autumnal. We dropped her off and then we went back home after taking the scenic route :-)

Brit Boy and I got dropped off at my other sister’s house that we were staying with. She was doing a bit of baking for Thanksgiving. We hung out with her for a while. Then Brit Boy and I went to our room to get our coats so that we could go on the nature trail. Hey, here’s a photo of our bed for the week. I really wanted to take this comfy bed home with us :-)

So Brit Boy and I headed out to meet up with two of my sisters for our trip along the nature trail. It was so glorious. Years ago when I was a kid, I used to run and play in those woods without a way mapped out for me. But now, the woods have trails laid out for walkers and joggers to follow and there are two foot bridges with a stream underneath. There are tiny fish living in the stream too. There is one serene spot that I absolutely love. There are about six large elm trees in a zigzag pattern in this clearing. It looks like a place to just contemplate and center yourself. What I really love is that this beautiful place is basically across the street from where I grew up and it will always be kept there in its full on natural beauty. Here are a couple of photos. I didn’t take too many photos actually because I was too busy running around and enjoying it. I was trying to soak it all in. At that moment I felt pure happiness :-)

I had forgotten how good it felt to just let the imagination wander. A breeze blew through at one point and leaves were falling all around us and I did something I loved to do as a child. I said to the others, “I wonder if I can still chase one down?” No sooner had I said that than I started to skip forward and I caught a leaf the first time :-) Who knew I was still that agile ;-) Here’s my catch.

The next day was Thanksgiving. Brit Boy and I got up early so that we could see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I have been loving this parade my whole life because it brings the holiday season in for sure. I love the balloons, the bands, and especially the Broadway performances. I love myself some theatre ;-) Brit Boy loves the parade too. We'd love to go to New York City to see it in person one of these days. Later, the family came together at my sister’s house. It wasn’t everybody, but there were about fifteen or sixteen of us. We had fun talking and laughing and the food was great. It was a nice holiday :-)

The next day, we went out early with two nieces and one of my sisters. We didn’t go to shop for Black Friday, we went to the movies at 11am to see “This Is It”. Apparently they decided to extend the run. We enjoyed it. It was great that while everybody else was winding down at home from shopping, we were able to see the movie and it wasn’t crowded.

We got out of the movies a bit after 1pm and then headed home. My brother and his new wife were coming to see me and Brit Boy. Also my cousin was going to drop by. It was great to see them all. Later we just hung out with my nieces and watched television and laughed. We are easily amused :-)

The next day, Saturday, came way too soon. By this point Brit Boy and I couldn’t believe that we were having to head back to England already :-) The week went like a whirlwind. Brit Boy and I did a few errands. I called Colette and we talked for a while. Then Brit Boy, me, and the sisters headed off for a victory lap of the nature trail ;-) It was just so peaceful. And it was just important to take it all in again and now I keep it with me in my mind’s eye :-) Memory is a beautiful thing.

When we came back, my sisters offered to make us a last bite to eat in Georgia. They made us tilapia, roasted potatoes, and a cauliflower/carrot/broccoli mix. Yum! I told Brit Boy, the whole week had felt like a week at a spa. We all shared good food and just relaxed. I find that now my siblings and I are closer than we’ve ever been. I guess we relish time together now much more since we live thousands of miles apart and we realize that quality time is just as good as quantity. Whatever it is…I’m glad that it is this way :-)

In return for everybody’s kindness, we came bearing gifts. We designed calendars for everyone and also gave them handmade cards that Brit Boy and I made. We’ll share some photos of the calendars and things in another post.

We had a glorious time and it was just what we needed :-) I hope you enjoyed coming along on our journey and if you read this far...thank you indeed :-)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Home to Georgia - Part Two

Today I want to continue with my story of going home to Georgia. As I said in my last post, we really enjoyed our time :-) The next day, on Monday, we decided to go over to the storage unit where I have a lot of my things and some family things stored.

Behind this door is a great chunk of the history of my life. I know that this storage unit is very plain and generic, but it does the job :-) Brit Boy and I went over to retrieve some documents that I wanted to get. I had stored away family trees for both sides of my family and I wanted to get them and enter them into a family tree program on my computer. They got left behind when I came over to England. I had stored them away safely in a trunk and then in the confusion of moving here, I left them behind. So over the last three years, I’ve been itching to get back there and retrieve them. I’ve always been the one interested in genealogy in my family (every family has one :-)) ,so I want to get it all copied over before the paper disintegrates. One of the family trees is written out on a big piece of paper that is well over thirty years old. My cousin and I put this one together when I was a kid and got the names from my aunts who remembered the names by heart. Both of my aunts have passed on now, so I feel even more strongly about keeping this history alive :-)

On our first visit to open the storage unit, Brit Boy and I couldn’t get it open, so we left it and decided to come back with my sister who regularly goes to check on things. The locks were very tricky. The next day we did go back and we got inside. I’ll tell you, it was like truly stepping back in time. I got the most interesting sensation of being home again and yet looking at another me if that makes any sense. When I laid my hands on the family trees, I was relieved that they were still okay and that I would be able to finally get them organized all together and saved :)

Anyway, back to Monday for a minute. After Brit Boy and I couldn’t get into the storage unit, I wanted to go and buy flowers to put on my parents, brother, and grandparents’ graves. We bought the flowers and then headed to the neighboring town where my maternal grandmother is buried. I never knew her, but my mom told me a lot about her especially in the last year of my mother’s life. So I feel like I know her. I’m glad that I could bring Brit Boy along and tell him about her :-) Then we headed back home and went to the cemetery in town there. This is where my father’s side of the family is buried. I never knew any of my grandparents but I’ve heard so many stories of them that I feel like I know them. It used to make me sad that I never knew any of my grandparents, or knew what the love of a grandparent felt like. But then my mom told me that my maternal grandmother used to hold me for her when I was a baby and she had a chore to tend to. She knew that I was safe in Nanny’s arms. Nanny died when I was just three months old. So since my mom told me that, I’m comforted because even though I couldn’t talk to Nanny, I figure that she probably talked to me. And there is the connection that will always be there :-)

On the next day, Tuesday, Brit Boy and I spent a lot of the day with my sister and my niece who came in from California to hang out with us. We went to look around a few stores. Brit Boy got two new shirts. Then we decided to go have some lunch. This was my favorite part of Tuesday. LOL. We went to Red Lobster and took advantage for their very reasonably priced lunches. Love those bargains! ;-) I had been craving some sweet tea forever so I had to get some to go with my lunch. You know I love sharing photos of food, so here’s a shot of my glass when it was in need of a refill which I got soon after this photo :-)

For lunch I had garlic shrimp on skewers served on a bed of wild rice, with broccoli on the side. It was DELICIOUS! The food was simple, straightforward and good. Brit Boy had jambalaya.

We had such a great time and once again the conversation was good :-) It was great to just be able to let go and laugh and reminisce. There was a laid back vibe to the whole trip and it was just what we needed. Brit Boy and I kept joking that the whole week seemed like we were at a spa because we had good food, both bought and homemade, and we got a chance to get out in nature and just relax. I’ll tell more about our walks on the nature trail in my next post.

If you're like me, you know that storage units can be a great place to store all of your memories and treasures. I certainly treasure mine. Self storage with Lok'nStore is a great way to keep all of your memories safe.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Home to Georgia - Part One

Well, I’m finally able to get here to blog about my trip home with Brit Boy. Sorry it has taken me a few days, but alas, offline life has needed my attention quite a bit lately :-) As I wrote in my last post, our washing machine was making some strange sounds that day and the sounds just got a thousand times worse. Since we are renters, we’ve had to do a lot of phone tag with the landlord’s liaison in order to get the washing machine fixed. It has been maddening because it seems that their phones don’t work to call us back or something (rolling eyes)…LOL. They operate like this every time. So we’re steadily working on getting them to send a repair person out or just tell us something. We’re still waiting :-) In the meantime; I’ve been trying to keep ahead of the mounting laundry and other things. So that’s where I’ve been :-)

Anyway, on to much better things and my story about what we got up to back home in Georgia. We had a WONDERFUL time! It was so relaxing and just what we both needed. Brit Boy and I needed a vacation and we got that and I just simply needed to go home and feel that feeling for a while :-)

We headed out from Heathrow on Friday, November 20th and flew across the Atlantic. It was exciting because I hadn’t been home in over three years :-) We arrived in Atlanta and my sister and niece were there to pick us up. It was dark when we arrived so it was hard to see how much things had changed. Still some changes were evident and it made me realize how much things can change in three years and how some things don’t change and stay there as a comfort :-) I was tired but happy when we turned onto the street where I grew up. We got to my other sister’s house, had a bite to eat and then headed to bed a while after.

The next day, Saturday, we got up and took a walk around outside. The weather was great and so we walked around the corner to where I grew up. My sisters and their families all live in various houses on the land that my family has owned for over a hundred years. So it’s easy to walk from house to house. It’s fun :-) Brit Boy and I reveled in the mild weather and calm scenery. Here’s a photo of the huge magnolia tree that I loved to climb when I was a little girl. It was there long before I was born and was always a favorite place to play :-)

I’ll share more photos of our walks that we took in my next posts. I figure that I’ll spread the story of our trip home over three more posts so they won’t go too long, like this post will probably go :-)

In the afternoon, we went to meet up with my best friend Colette. We met in downtown Decatur, which is in the metro Atlanta area. Downtown Decatur is an interesting and eclectic area. There are several shops, restaurants, and artsy places. It’s cool. We went to Nathalie’s. It’s a neat Key West-inspired restaurant.

It was so good to see Colette. We met a few years ago at work and we found that we have a lot in common. She likes to write and so do I so we vibe a lot over things like this. Brit Boy and I gave her a desk calendar that we designed and a handmade card. I’ll share more about our calendars on another post. She loved both. She gave me some gifts too…a teapot and candles. It was a great time.

The best part was the conversation. As you all know, there’s nothing like connecting with an old friend :-) It was a great way to spend an afternoon into evening as the sun went down. I needed to talk to her and there she was. What could be better…my best girlfriend and my best guy friend, Brit Boy, there with me sharing fun times! The rest of our visit, we spent all of the time with family since we haven’t been there in so long, but I had to connect with Colette because she’s like a sister to me :-) I’m hoping that next time I can see more of my other friends too.

As I mentioned earlier, Colette writes too and has a blog called Coco Thoughts. Coco is her nickname. She’s new to blogging. I hope that you will check her place out :-) She has a wonderful way about her and she has a kind spirit.

This is a mini milestone I guess because this will be the first time that I show my face on my blog. No time like the present huh? :-) So here I am! This is ME! :-)

Well that’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed a peek into the beginning of our trip. I’ll definitely share more stories and photos in a couple of days. Talk to you later! :-) Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Back In England

Hello everybody :-) We're back in England!!! We arrived back home on Sunday evening, but I was too exhausted to post and besides I didn't have my laptop. We left our electronic goodies with Brit Boy's mom for safekeeping while we were away. We dropped by yesterday and picked our laptops up, but alas there was still a roadblock in the way. Our anti-virus software expired while we were away. We were aware it was going to expire then, but we didn't have time to sort it out before we left. So last night we got everything set up again so we can get back into cyberspace. Yay! :-)

I just wanted to check in and tell you all that Brit Boy and I had a WONDERFUL time back home in Georgia!!!! :-) The time just went entirely too fast, but that's what happens when you are having fun :-) I'm gathering my thoughts and recollections today so that I can write a proper account of our time away later this week. I'll definitely share. I have so much to tell :-) It was such a whirlwind and so now I'm trying to settle back down again. LOL. I got to see so much of my family and it was a joy after three long years. It was just what the doctor ordered :-)

Today I'm doing our laundry and the machine is making weird noises, so I can see a service call in my future ;-) I've been getting the suitcases stowed away again, while trying to get back into my normal groove around here.

Well, that's all for now. I just wanted to check in and say hello and to let you know that Brit Boy and I are fine and we had a great time :-) I'll be back to tell you all about our transatlantic adventure.

Yikes! The washing machine is making sounds like a wounded animal...wish me luck with this one! LOL. Talk to you later!