Saturday, 31 December 2011

On this last day of December ...

I want to share a few things that have amazed, intrigued and amused me today.

DH went to the gym this morning, so I took the opportunity to take a stroll into town and on my way there, I was amazed to see a cherry tree that already had beautiful pink blossoms adorning it’s boughs. Cherry blossom in December? You better believe it! I even took a photo to prove it ...

It really has been particularly mild this month, with average temperatures rarely dropping below 10oC ... it's such a contrast to last December when we had several inches of snow that lasted a couple of weeks and the temperatures stayed in the minus figures for almost the entire month, bbbrrrrrrr!!!

Anyway, back to today ... as I carried on walking towards town, I passed a house that had a banner hung between the first floor windows ...

The banner read “WELCOME HOME TOM” and it got me wondering, who’s Tom? Where has he been? Perhaps he’s home for the holidays after finishing his first term at university. Or maybe he’s finished his degree and returned home after a gap year of travelling around the world. Or perhaps Tom’s in the armed forces and has returned home safely and back to the arms of his loving family after spending 6 months on deployment somewhere in the world. I’ll never know, but I’m intrigued none-the-less.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of what it was that amused me today and perhaps it’s a little cruel of me to laugh, but I think you would’ve too if you’d been there. Let me explain ... as I was walking home, I passed a little old man. He was on the opposite side of the road to me, but I could hear him muttering under his breath as he shuffled along the pavement. I’ve no idea how old he was, but I’d guess he was in his 80’s and he used a walking stick to aid him as he walked along. As I drew level with him, he stopped, took aim with his stick and made a wild swipe at some litter on the pavement in front of him! It was really quite comical. It took him 3 or 4 attempts to hit it (“it” being an empty plastic bottle carelessly dropped by someone with no respect for their environment!) but when he connected with it, it went flying into the road gutter. Score!!! After I’d got over my initial surprise, I wondered what good it had been with him swiping the bottle into the gutter like that? Surely it didn’t solve anything, it just moved the litter from the pavement to the roadside, but it was still litter. All became clear a short while after; as I carried on my route home, I was passed by one of those little road sweeper vehicles, with the rotating bristle brushes that scoop up all the litter caught in the roadside gutter. It appears he was a clever cantankerous old geezer after all!

Well there you have it folks, that was my last post of 2011. If you’re partying tonight I hope you have fun, enjoy the celebrations and stay safe. As for me? Well, I’ll be staying at home this evening, I’ll share a bottle of bubbly with DH and we’ll probably be tucked up in bed by 11pm (only to be rudely awoken by the fireworks as the clock strikes midnight!) … that is the sad truth of being 40 and relishing sleep over partying, no matter what day of the year it is!!!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

5 things to do before 2011 ends ...

*** edited (01/01/12) with updates in blue ***

This isn't meant to be a thought provoking post my dear readers, sorry. It's more of a reminder of some things I'd like to achieve before the year ends. Let's just call it my "to do list" shall we?

In no particular order, they are:
  1. Start gathering together 52 recipe ideas to try during 2012, one new recipe (that I've not cooked before) for each week - started, this will be a "work in progress" type project throughout 2012
  2. Update blog banner / page decoration / colour scheme - done
  3. Renew my passport (actually this does need to be done as soon as possible if DH and I are to go away for his birthday at the end of January!) - done, well the paperwork's been done, I'm just waiting for my new passport to arrive (I've been advised this will take approx 2 weeks)
  4. List out 12 easy to do (for me and DH) home improvement tasks to be done during 2012, one project for each month - 11 tasks listed so far
  5. Buy a new journal for 2012 - not yet done because I can't find one I like! Just as well my 2011 journal has some extra pages, so I'll continue to use it until I can find a style / size / colour I like.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Last day at work for a week ...

I don't know about you, but when I was at school, the last day before we broke up for any holiday was always a bit of a giggle. We'd take board games into class and generally do very little in the way of learning. Fast forward 30 years and that's what it was like at work today! It was the last day in the office before Christmas and there was most definitely a "school's out" vibe about the place. Probably due in part to that fact that my good friend, Paul was having an early birthday celebration (he turns 40 tomorrow and is having SERIOUS denial issues ... I keep telling him that 40 is the new 30, but he's having none of it!

Anyhoo, with all the birthday celebrations and Christmas decorations, today was a fun-filled, if not particularly productive day. But I have to admit, I'm really looking forward to having the next week off work!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Banter, bubbles and baubles ...

Yesterday, I met up with Selena (aka Bush Girl) and Lorraine (aka Neat Freak) for our bi-annual "Ladies That Lunch" get-together. As usual, we met up outside the Underground station at Bond Street, then slipped down an inauspicious looking alleyway through to St Christopher's Place, where the selection of restaurants / bistros is just brilliant! The last couple of times we'd met, we'd dined at Carluccio's (Italian) and Cafe Rouge (French), so this time we tried out Sofra (Turkish / Mediterranean).

The food was very tasty. Selena had a starter platter (as a main) which was little "tasters" of some of the flavours from the menu ... and they looked pretty too.

I had the spicy prawns, not particularly Turkish or Mediterranean, but delicious non-the-less.

Lorraine had the sea bass, unfortunately I didn't get a photo ... but it did look good though!

We chatted about life, family and Christmas and we toasted our little reunion with a glass of fizz (or water in Selena's case as she had a very busy afternoon / evening ahead of her!)

I'm grateful that the skies were clear and bright, as it meant we were able to snap some photos of the Christmas decorations surrounding St Christopher's Place.

They had these HUGE silver baubles (about the same size as the coloured ones in the photo above) dangling above the alleyway and we all had the same idea to take some photos ... BUT ... none of us had our real cameras with us, so we improvised and each took photos using our mobile phones!!!

We ended up in fits of giggles trying to get images that would focus properly. I managed to snap a couple of photos of Selena & Lorraine (gasp!!!) but I promised them faithfully I wouldn't upload them to my blog. However, I did manage to get our customary "proof" shot showing the three of us together ...

... albeit a somewhat warped reflection in a giant reflective plant pot! And it's at this point, I feel I should just mention that a passer-by very kindly offered to take a "proper" photo of the three of us together, but she must have thought we were very odd when we declined her offer and said we were deliberately trying NOT to be in the shot ... hahahaha!

It was great fun and can't wait to meet up again in May / June 2012, when hopefully we'll have a +1, as Ona (aka wombat146) will be visiting from Australia!

P.S. as I'd never tried Turkish food before, lunch at Sofra is also my NEW52 for week #49. BTW, can you believe there's only 3 more weeks to go?!?!?!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...

I jumped in my car today and headed over to one of my favourite shops, which is actually a garden centre but they have THE most amazing gift shop and from mid-November onwards, they have the best Christmas displays of any shop I know! Believe it or not, I actually had my whizz-bang Nikon camera in my bag today, but I felt a bit self-conscious using it inside the shop, so I snapped a couple of photos using the camera on my mobile phone instead ... they're not brilliant images, but hopefully you'll get the gist of how fabulous some of the displays look ..

Now it feels like Christmas ... bring on the mince pies, mulled wine and Christmas movies!!!

Monday, 5 December 2011

I'm still here ...

Remember me? I wouldn't blame you if you didn't, after all it's been more than a month since I last posted. My excuse? Well, none really [again]. I can't even blame work this time, because thankfully that's calmed back down to normal volumes. Nope, I've just been keeping a low profile on the blog front and on the scrapping front too really. I wouldn't say I was in the doldrums, I'm just going through a phase where I'm doing the bare minimum of what's required in order to keep up with my CT commitments.

Having said that, I'm thoroughly enjoying Oscraps 12 Days O Christmas! Are you following their blog? You really ought to you know. I'm learning new facts about the festive period every day and the goodies on offer are wonderful! From special one day sales to designer freebies, not forgetting the fabulous challenges to inspire you too!

I used the FREEBIE template (designed by Timounette) from day 1 to create this LO about my "Herman" friendship cake:

click here for credits

Anyone that knows me, knows I love to bake. So when I was presented with a somewhat yeasty smelling batter with instructions on how to "feed" it, I was sceptical that it would result in anything other than a horrible gloopy mess. But how wrong was I??? After feeding and caring for Herman for 10 days, he was finally ready to be transformed into a delicious, fruity, cinnamon infused treat to knock your socks off ... absolutely perfect when served warm with a cuppa tea!!! I my new found friend ... I Herman!

P.S. I haven't forgotten about NEW52 ... I have lost track of the weeks and there are a couple of news I know I haven't [yet] shared, but I guess Herman could be my NEW52 for last week, which I think would make that week #48