Saturday, 28 November 2009

Fun Fridays!

I'm thinking of setting up a regular post section called 'Fun Friday'. I believe in this current economic climate and with all the doom and gloom around from Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Swine Flu epidemics and everything else that threatens to overwhelm us at the moment that we should be able to let our hair down occasionally and have some fun! So once a week on a Friday I hope to post something that will make you smile. Or something that I had fun doing.  

Today I'm covering two Friday's with one fell swoop. Last Friday I had great fun watching something and thought I would share it with you this Friday. I'm talking about Children in Need... and this is the single! Peter Kay has really outdone himself again. Himself, herself and myself all had great fun trying to recognise all the BBC animated characters from past and present kids telly programmes... oh and a few making guest appearances from other channels too! 

So, how many do you recognise? And if you're from outside the UK, are any of these familiar to you? Or did you grow up with completely different characters? I did!! More on that another time!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Top 5.... books, erm authors....

What five books should every person read? A very good question, posed by Typepad on their homepage today. It got me thinking... I have a whole wall full of books. Some good, some bad. I've read all of them, but wouldn't recommend every single one. Lets face it, there is a lot of dross out there in bookland and I've bought my fair share!! So which books out of vast collection would have to be on my mandatory reading list? Wow.... now I've got to sort through all my crime novels, sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, classics and other random books that don't seem to fit into any particular category. Its a tough job! In fact, I can't single out any particular books as such, but I do notice a definite trend when it comes to Authors! So instead I shall recommend some authors and perhaps one of their finest works for you to hunt down and add to your reading list...
  1. Jane Austen - Yes, I know, that's a particularly 'girly' choice, but she definitely is one of the best authors out there. Every person - including men - should read at least one Austen in their lifetime. I guarantee that once you get used to the old fashioned way of speaking, you will completely fall in love with her books! Now, everyone gets all excited about Pride & Prejudice andSense & Sensibility, however for me one of her best novels is Persuasion. I think it is quite an undiscovered gem, and that the literary bods don't make enough fuss about it at all!
  2. Terry Pratchett - For a good all round laugh Pratchett is one of the best out there. All his books are easy to read and very humourous, abounding in puns and double entendres. His characters are all charming and really get under your skin. If you need a good 'pick me up' book then you can't go wrong with Mr Pratchett's charming assortment of Diskworld residents!
  3. Raymond E. Feist - Fantasy at its best! His epic collection has spanned several worlds and numerous generations and is truly breathtaking. Starting with Magician the Riftwar Saga flows seamlessly from one book to the next. The best bit is.... he's still writing them! So far I have about 15-20 books on my bookshelves with his name on and I'm currently eagerly awaiting the next installment. Magician, however, is probably the best one and I often find myself re-reading it! His collaboration with Janny Wurts has also produced an excellent trilogy viewing the Rift wars from the opposite side. 
  4. Dorothy L. Sayers - An author of immense talent. Her series of books on the adventures of Lord Peter Wimsey really draw you in. They present a picture, a snapshot, of life spanning the turn of the century, the twenties and all the way up to the years of the Second World War. Solving crimes and working in covert operations for the government in wartime, Lord Peter Wimsey hides a cunning and astute brain behind the facade of an indolent, well-off, second son. Murder Must Advertise is one of my favourites although I thoroughly enjoyed Thrones, Dominations - an unfinished manuscript that was completed by Jill Paton Walsh.
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien - The father of fantasy novels wrote The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and used his books to express his religious views and some childhood experiences in allegorical form. His books are so well written and so popular that he achieved cult-figure status within his lifetime. Although I did enjoy The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings my favourite book has to be The Silmarillion. A prequel to the rest of the Middle Earth books, it describes the creation of Middle Earth, the origins of all the races and also details some of the legends that form the backdrop to the other books. It is fascinating to read, especially as it makes use of Christian beliefs as the foundation of Middle Earth.
I hope you've enjoyed my list of authors and some of the book suggestions too. I'm interested to see what other people's choices would be. Send me a link in the comments box to your favourites so I can have a browse please!!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Going Digital

This weekend I was supposed to be tidying up, cleaning the house, putting up rollerblinds and generally getting ready for our visitors who are set to invade next weekend. However, after realising that we are going to be away for a full two weeks over the Christmas period... and that I'm going to be bereft of scrapbooking gear for the duration... and that I will therefore have no way of keeping up with Shimelle's'Journal Your Christmas' class, I thought I would look into Digital Scrapbooking. Ha! "Look into" turned into almost a full weekend of fiddling about with Photoshop, surfing t'interweb for free digital kits and generally having fun in a non-gluey, non-sticky, non-cutting way! So absolutely nothing got done in the way of cleaning or tidying, but I *am* most definitely going to be doing digital scrapbooking for those 2 weeks over Christmas. I'm quite proud of the results of this weekend's labours, especially as last week I couldn't even figure out how to print out my photo's from Photoshop... and yet this weekend, I have managed to suss-out layers, changing colours, using brushes and merging!

The picture is of my brother flying an awesome kite on the beaches of Northumberland in August 2007 when we went camping together for 10 days. The beaches were beautiful, the scenery was stunning and the weather was atrocious! (Except for this particular day!!) Oh, and thanks to ShabbyPrincess for the free digi-kit!

Today I am starting our Christmas cards... and my arm is already sore! Perhaps punched edges and borders for 100 cards was not a good idea!! I'm currently considering buying 'Sure Cuts a Lot' for my Cricut so that it can do the rest for me! Anyone have experience of this software and can tell me if it would do??

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Since having started blogging again just recently, I have been reading back on some of my old posts and marvelling at how much has changed in such a relatively short time. Its amazing to see how my perspective has changed on events, how my hopes and dreams have changed and how even small things have morphed into something completely different. This post  ,for example, was inspired by a blog prompt that was shared on UKScrappers - an event that no longer happens due to people going their seperate ways. The topic? Handbag envy... lol.

What a change three years can make! I'm still a jeans girl, but the trainers have gone out the window. Crocs, Birkenstocks, walking boots and a lovely pair of leather mules are in. My pockets are currently empty, and have been for quite a while now. Mostly because they've been well and truly been replaced by.... a handbag! Oh My gosh! Having two kids now I find I have far too many things to carry, especially as there is usually a baby who also needs carrying at the same time. So, its easier to have a bag hanging off my arm while the baby sits on my hip, the keys are carried in the same hand and the 4 year old is being controlled with the other hand. Yes, I've become SUPER-MUM! Well, not quite... What I am tho', is a mum who now does school runs and toddler group on the same day followed by baby swimming lessons the day after and various other groups throughout the week. Not forgetting the nursery open day, parent-teacher conferences, play dates, birthday parties and school concerts.

The contents of my pockets are still present... the bank cards that used to sit in my pocket now line themselves up neatly in my wallet; the reciepts overflow and the change keeps escaping - but the wallet is being used. However, wallets dont fit conveniently into pockets - so into the handbag it goes. The mobile phone has also migrated to the handbag too, except now I can never find it. Somehow it always escapes from the specially designed mobile phone pocket (which was my whole inspiration for buying this particular handbag!) and makes its way down to the bottom of the bag. And its never in the section I'm looking in when its ringing, so consequently I usually find it a few seconds after it has transferred my caller to voicemail. The keys are usually to be found at the bottom of the bag too, usually making mad attempts at scratching the mobile phone's screen or grabbing at the fabric lining of the bag in a ,usually, successful attempt at ripping it all to shreds. The one thing though that really has changed, and which really sparked the purchase of a handbag... is the PDA. Yup, I've gone all electronic. My poor mushed baby-brain can no longer cope with having to remember all the appointments on its own and I have given up and resorted to using an electronic nagging device to remember it all for me. Its very handy as it keeps all my appointments, contact details, birthday reminders, notes, shopping lists etc. all in one handy place and it beeps at me when I need to remember things. Well, it should do.... unless you let the battery go completely flat as I did last week! In which case, you will find that it loses every last piece of data you had ever entered into it and you are left with a useless lump of plastic that has reverted to default factory settings, thus making you miss one very important appointment, several birthdays and leaves you having to rewrite your whole Christmas list. Unfortunately this wonderful piece of technology is too large for pockets which means that I ended up buying a handbag... and finding that actually, I can make it work for me!  Its just all the stuff inside the handbag that overwhelms me now!!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Back to reality

Well, the Cybercrop is over. I've scrapped my little heart out. My team the Lions won... and now its back to reality. What an anti-climax!! To top it all the weather is horrible outside and even with the heating on I'm frozen. So, if you don't mind, I think I shall indulge myself in a little nostalgia with a look at all the layouts I managed to complete this weekend..... just to cheer me up a bit!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

I love comments.... but

As you can see I have this little blinkie on the side of my page. It doesn't do anything special really, its just there to draw your attention to the fact that I looooooove comments. I'm a comment addict, in fact if there was a 'Comments Anonymous' I would have to sign up and follow the 12 step programme. BUT, and here is the big BUT, I have noticed when hopping and reading other blogs that it can be quite difficult to leave a comment on some of them. Mostly because of the millions of security questions that you have to answer. Granted, nobody likes spam... after all why would I want to buy viagra, slimming pills or an e-book that promises to give me the secret to becoming an instant millionaire? However, having to fill in what my date of birth is, my favourite colour and my first pets name is a bit ridiculous. This got me thinking about my own blog. Now when I comment on my blog I don't have to do any security questions, because it already recognises me as the owner of this blog. I'm wondering tho', does it make you fill in security questions to leave me a comment? If it does.... can anybody tell me how to disable this facility or make it easier for people to leave me comments? Please let me know! I'd love to hear your opinion... it would make this comment addicts day!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Fun! Fun! Fun!

Here's a bit of fun for today... my seven favourite YouTube Videos! Some are them are funny, amazing, awe-inspiring and then there's the lame ones. Either way, they bring a smile to my face and I wanted to share them with you... 'cause we all need something to laugh about! Laughter is good for the soul, uses up calories and makes us feel better. So have a look at these and laugh!

My favourite puppet. He's non-pc and maybe slightly racist but he's very funny!!

These girls are amazing! I wish I was this fit and flexible. 

This man has some amazing moves. How many of these dances did you do at school? Don't own up to too many of them... some of them go waaaaay back and will really show your age!

From the history of dance to the complete History of Music!

William Tell is probably turning in his grave! Its a moment of pure genius!

Husbands shouldn't feel left out either. This one seems to know his place!! 

And finally, for pure 'feel good factor'! I don't normally listen to the Black-Eyed Peas but ever since seeing this video for the first time I just can't help smiling every time I hear this song!

(**edited to add** .... Hmmm ok, so this video is no longer available on YouTube! Sorry!!)

Hope you all had fun with my favourite YouTube videos today. Come back again tomorrow for something completely different!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Photo gallery cannot open this picture...

A picture is worth a thousand words... or so the old addage goes. So I wonder when I get a message that says "Photo gallery cannot open this picture or video. The file appears damaged or corrupted" how many words, impressions, descriptions of my little one I have lost? I wonder what this picture would have said to me. I cannot tell. I have lost the words, but the memory is still there. I remember taking lots of photo's of her first few hours, her first days. All in hospital. A photo of her under the photo-therapy lamps - looking like a little sun worshipper complete with sun-goggles. A photo of her in a Number 2 bodysuit to match the one of her older sister in the Number 1 bodysuit at the same age. I have that one, but not the other. 

So imagine my delight when I find, hidden in the vast megabytes that is my mother's picture folder.... these! These few pictures of her that are now so precious, so treasured. A few thousand words returned to me out of the many thousands lost to the crimes of technological corruption.
Thanks Mum, for being such a shutterbug.  A thousand words could not express the gratitude I feel for just one of these pictures!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

At the going down of the sun...

"They shall grow not old, as we who are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them."

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

— Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918)

We will remember them

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Prompt #4: Blogging the Mundane...

I'm loving Shimelle's class! Today's prompt is all about blogging mundane things. Things that we think are 'boring' that might actually be interesting to other people. So, life is not always a rollercoaster of highs and lows, sometimes its just nice and flat and uninteresting... so what? Perhaps nice, flat and uninteresting is good - because a rollercoaster life can make you sick! Shimelle was talking about blogging about things like

  • going to the library
  • doing the shopping
  • the school run
  • filling up at the petrol station ....
....oooh now there's one that would do me! I nipped there this morning to get some milk after I had dropped herself off at nursery. I filled up with petrol too at the same time... and then came home to find Shimelle's prompt sat in my inbox. It did get me thinking! I remember when I was a kid I used to sit in the car with my parents while the petrol was being filled up! Yup, my Mum and Dad sat in the car too! See I grew up in South Africa where illiteracy is high and lots of people don't have jobs. There is no dole, no benefits or handouts - so if you don't work, you don't eat. Consequently, there are a lot of things that people are 'employed' to do, that here in the UK we do for ourselves... and one of them is filling up at the petrol station. You drive onto the forecourt, open your window and hand a guy the keys. You tell him what type of fuel your car takes and then wait for him to fill up. I remember as a child thinking how it all sounded like a foreign language as my Mom would hand him the keys saying "fill up, 98, oil and tyres" Suddenly there would be three guys rushing around. One would be filling up, one would be checking the oil and another would be checking the tyres. A fourth man would approach the window and ask if she would like the windscreen cleaned. The petrol attendant would then tell my Mom how much it cost and she would give him the cash (before the days of credit cards!) he would take it to the kiosk and bring her the receipt and the change. She would then have to tip him and they would divide it between them. That is how they lived... on tips. I only found out years later that the garage didn't pay them a salary, they did all that in the hope of a tip... and quite a few people didn't give them even that much! The only time my parents would actually set foot anywhere near the kiosk was when us kids nagged them into getting us some crisps or a drink. Quite unlike living here in the UK... where we now have to get out the car (shock, horror!) and do it ourselves. So I filled up the car; watching the numbers whizz by until it clicks. Then I do this "thing", I rock the car - to get the air out of the petrol tank - and then continue to fill it up until it clicks again. Does anyone else do this? I'm not sure where I picked it up from? I think I must be the only person who does this. LOL. I collect my wallet from the car and then head into the shop. Of course it is a *shop* now - not just a little kiosk- petrol stations have now become mini-supermarkets. Our local one has a Marks & Spencers shop, so I often get stuff for tea from there too. I wander around the shop; even though I know I really only need milk -  and pick up a quiche, milk, bread, a snack selection, ham, cheese and sushi. Mmmmmm, yup Sushi. Its a M&S and their sushi is gorgeous. I'm addicted to it! I can happily walk right past the chocolates and crisps as long as I can get my hands on some sushi! I take my stuff to the till and pay.... £60 later I walk out of the shop with a full tank of petrol, the milk I originally wanted and nearly £20's worth of stuff that I had never intended to buy! And sushi. Yum!

I think that the old South African system was probably better, the temptation to buy additional stuff was easier to resist when it was someone else who was handling the money and doing all the work!

(Photo source)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Blog Prompt #3: 5 Favourite things!

So today Shimelle has us thinking about lists. Mostly lists of our favourite things, places or people. Favourite aspects of life, our kids, food, landscapes, tv programmes, clothes, colours, scrapbook pages, books, movies, CD's, concerts, plays, colours of nailpolish, pizza toppings...  Well as you can see the list of all the lists could be endless!  So thinking about my list of favourites, I started thinking about all the bits of life that are good right now. So 5 things that I love about life at the moment: 

1. I love our new house! OK, so its cost us a fair bit more than we had expected. We've had to do stuff that we didn't think needed doing. Like replacing the entire fuseboard because the vendors had tampered with it and it was unsafe as a result. Like having to replace the oven - which had looked perfectly ok, but wasn't. So the ensuite needs completely replacing because the previous people bodged it and the garden drainage needs sorting because a tiny bit of rain turns it into a quagmire. BUT! And here's the big BUT, I love it. The house feels more like home in the few weeks since we moved in, than our previous house did - even after all the work we did to it. We've all settled in well and most of the boxes are actually unpacked!

2. I'm loving how both the girls are playing so nicely on their own now! Both herself and the little one are enjoying taking themselves into their own corner and playing. No interference from me! Herself is currently dressed in a Stephanie costume (from LazyTown) and playing with her little sisters toys. The little one on the other hand has crawled between the bookshelves and sofa and is happily unpacking and re-packing her older sister's bag of Baby Annabel accessories. Both girls are happy playing with each others toys, and peace has ensued. Long may it last!

3. I'm enjoying my little scrapping space! So himself finished building my new scrapping space inside the spare wardrobe, all the rails and flatpack have been assembled and the stash has been unpacked and sorted... and then re-sorted again! Now that its all accessible I am really enjoying my crafting again. I'm trying to make time every evening to sit and do a little bit of scrapbooking and also some altering. In fact, I'm in the process of completing a project that I bought the pieces for 2 years ago! I shall post piccies once I've given it to the recipient.

4. I love that the Christmas preparations are underway! I love the festive period every year. The days getting shorter, the air is getting that cold bite, the councils are putting up the christmas lights, we're drawing up pressie lists and making our purchases (slightly later this year!), menu's are being created, christmas cards crafted (or bought!), christmas cakes baked,  the decorations will soon be taken out of the loft and then christmas trees start appearing in every window on the street and soon we'll be sitting down to eat a meal and open presents with family and friends. I love it all... including the mulled wine!!

5. I'm loving the thought of setting up my own business! BUT, the reality of it is quite scary actually! There's so much to think about! Wholesalers, ebay, website, premises, funding, business plans, bank accounts... and then the elusive name for the whole lot! Definitely having problems with that one! Each time I think I've got a name that's suitable I discover that someone else has beaten me to it. Suggestions on a postcard please! 

Phew, that's enough for now I think! Thanks for reading!

Monday, 2 November 2009

I'm back!

Wow, doesn't time fly? Over a year ago I had a new babe in my arms, sleepless nights were in progress and we were just getting used to having a new member in our family. Now I find that we are finally more settled and I realise I haven't updated the blog at all in 14 months! Ouch. In fact, I had actually let my subscription go rather than keep paying for something I wasn't using. However, I'm back on my feet again... life is getting to be as normal as its ever going to be, and I feel the need to share it with you!

So, In order to get myself back into blogging mode, I've signed up for a class with  Shimelle (love her classes!) all about Blogging. Feel free to take part too, as its not too late yet to sign up! As part of this class we're being provided with 3 weeks worth of blogging prompts and technical know-how to make our blogs more reader friendly. I hope that you will come back and share this experience with me? I'm hoping to blog at least two or three times a week as a minimum. Hopefully, I'll be able to do more tho'... it just depends on how inspiring I find the daily prompts! 
Also, as part of my return to blogging, I'm going to be looking at the possibilities of moving the blog to an alternate site. This all depends on how much I can manage to do with this one as I would love to have a blog that looks a little more 'me' rather than having the bog standard template as provided by TypePad!
So, hopefully I'll see you over the next three weeks!

(image source)