Saturday, 25 December 2010

Queen of the Kitchen

Every year, we're faced with the same dilemma... how does one dress for the Kitchen on Christmas Eve?  (Or Christmas Day, depending.)  Well, this year, I figured it out.  I grabbed my favourite jeans, a yummy green satin blouse, my red jumper, a red embroidered apron to keep me clean and.......


Yep!  I dressed up in my tiara!  I'd actually planned it the previous day, but I left it at home, accidentally.  So, when Dad went over to get Grandma at lunch time (Grandma's living with me for a few months whilst she goes through knee replacement surgeries), I had him pick up the box that I'd set on my table that morning.  He didn't know what was inside.  Just brought it over.  I just put it on, and didn't say anything.  At some point, someone, either Mom or Lois, came in the kitchen and said, "Are you wearing a Tiara?!?"  I smiled and said, "Yep!  I'm Queen of the Kitchen today!" 

Here I am, reigning over my domain:
Now, I usually do a lot of the cooking for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  However, this year I did a little extra, because my nephew was demanding lots of time from my sister.  So, we had a very royal house this week:

Queen of the Kitchen (Me)
The Little Emperor (My Nephew)
The Emperor's Slave (My Sister)

The Emperor even has a "Jade Throne".  It's one of those BebePods, and it's green, so when the subject of his being the Emperor came up, I just naturally named his Pod "The Jade Throne."  I wish I could post a few photos of him in his throne (he LOVES it), but I must defer to the Emperor's wishes (or at least his slave's wishes!)

Anyway, here's some more images from the Kitchen Realm:

 The finished product (Apple Pie) was absolutely divine!  I hate to brag, but I really am justified in proclaiming myself Queen of the Kitchen.  You've never had Turkey or Apple Pie til you've had my Turkey and Apple Pie!

Happy Christmas

My favourite Christmas song is "O Holy Night" by Placide Cappeau de Roguemaure, in 1847.  I'm sure you're all familiar with the lyrics, but, tonight is the commemoration of that Holy Night.  Sure, we know that Christ couldn't have been born in December, and that we celebrate His birth on the pagan solstice festival, but the point isn't when he was actually born.  The point was, He was born!  That is what we celebrate.  So I've included the words below:  

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

May you have the Happiest of Christmas' this year.  

Much love, wherever you are,

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Did I Mention?

BYU (my undergrad Uni) has hired me again!  Remember when I popped my head into the Head of Dept's office, and he asked if I would do him a favour and teach his class?  Well, he also offered me a job for next term!  Wooo hoo!  I'll be teaching Intro to English Linguistics (which totally rocks because 1 - I've taught it before, 2 - It was the class I discovered Linguistics in, and 3 - It was the class that I met one of my dearest friends (Hi Coi!) in.  I've got a soft spot for that class.) and a 500 level course on Sociolinguistics (which is my area of expertise!) 

Sadly, that put paid to my plans for NYC for New Years and Boston for the following weekend of Blues Dancing *cry* But, the job is slightly more important.  I WILL come visit, Livia, CEG and Diana!  I do promise.  Just... not next weekend.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Christmas Bloghop

Hi there.  Looking for Adele's installment of the Christmas Bloghop?  Well... you've sort of found me.  Some wires got a bit crossed, though, and the actual post is over HERE.  Don't know what I'm talking about?  Well, come join us.  Start by hitting Amanda's blog.  There are some fun Christmas projects and even a few giveaways!  See you on the other Blog!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The Little Things

Yesterday, I was coming home around 9.00 in the evening, and I stopped at a petrol station.  I was tired and thirsty, so I decided to get a fountain drink as a little treat.  (Fountain drinks taste so much better than their bottled equivalents!)  So I went in the shop and got my drink, then went to the counter to pay, and the guy behind the til said, "Is that it for you?"  I said, "Yes."  He said, "Well then, how about, on the house tonight?"  I looked up (I'd been digging through my bag to find my purse) and I could feel my face light up!  I said, "Well, that's very kind of you!  Thank you!  Merry Christmas!" and left the shop.  But my grin lasted for HOURS!  Completely disproportionate to the small kindness offered.  I know that soda pop is just about the cheapest stuff on the planet, and they make an enormously ridiculous profit on them, but . . . that didn't matter.  It had made my day to get that drink free.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Non-Dairy Treats

My darling nephew is lactose intolerant.  I mean SERIOUSLY intolerant.  Rotten thing.  My sister can't even eat margarine with the tiniest HINT of milk in.  So, we've been getting creative.  Especially as the Christmas season approaches, she's been feeling the tragedy as the rest of us have started enjoying the holiday goodies.  (Oh, my nephew doesn't like my sister to eat chocolate, either!)

This evening, we went to a cookie swap, and obviously that meant we had to bring a cookie to share.  So, I thought, I know!  I'll do a sugar cookie that's dairy-free.  That way she'll be able to eat at least one of the treats.  So I did some digging.

Found out 2 things
1 - There are tons of yummy recipes out there that are dairy-free.
2 -  Coconut oil can be used to replace butter in just about anything, and it's WAY better for you than either butter, margarine or anything hydrogenated.  (But, you have to get the extruded (ie- pressed) stuff, because the heat extraction hydrogenates, at least partly, the oil.)

Anyway, we made sugar cookies using this recipe (click for a closer look):

Oh!  They were divine!  I'm so pleased!!! The sugar cookie recipe would be the most amazing recipe to use if you wanted to cut shapes with a cookie cutter, because they don't lose their shape.  They'll stay a crisp cut, rather than becoming a blob.  And, if you bake them til just under "done" they'll be chew inside and crisp outside.  Oh... one thing I learned.... I like the temperature a little lower than you usually find it in recipes.  So, even though this one calls for 375 F, I went with 350 F.  Just a matter of personal preference.  Also, rather than replacing the vanilla, like I suggest in the cookie recipe, with peppermint, you can add a tiny amount (I used 1/2 tsp) of peppermint to the mix w/o changing anything else, and give it a hint of peppermint!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Lest You Think I've Gone Native

Just in case my British friends are worried that, having moved back to the US, I've completely forgot all that I've learnt about being British....

I tried to get in the wrong side of the car today.


This is at least the 3rd time this week.  This time, with witnesses!

Thankful Thinkings

It's the day after Thanksgiving.  That means?  No, not a mad rush to the stores.  I don't DO Black Friday.  It means I sit and get soppy thinking about my life.

Well, as you are already aware, this has been a year of change for me.  Moving Stateside again has had its challenges, but, one of the best bits has been spending extra time with my sister and her family.  I am seriously head-over-heels for my nephew.  He's just the most darling little guy on the face of the planet!  I wish I could show you, but I'm honouring my sister and brother-in-law's requests for no photos (at least right now) on publicly available forums.  Anyway, I'm terribly thankful for the opportunity to be living down the street from him and getting to watch him grow.  He's delightful!  And... I've discovered that I'm GOOD at getting him to calm down!  (This is mostly because I don't mind walking in circles around the house and saying "Shhhhhh!" in his ear for hours at a time.)

However, as much as I love my sister (and let's face it, she's the centre of my universe!) and her family... I love my UK family, too.  And I miss them.  I've been terribly homesick for you all.  *sniff*  So, I'm also very thankful that I don't have to choose between my American and my UK families.  I'm so glad I don't live 200 years ago when it was so difficult to move between locations, even on the same continent!  Never mind crossing the ocean!  Heck, I'm even glad it isn't 50 years ago, when travel was still very much a thing for the elite!  I'm also sooooo grateful for my heart-bigger-than-the-whole-world friend, Vee.  She's been the one to make it possible for me to live on two continents.  And I hope she knows that I don't take that for granted.  She rocks, and I love her.

I'm also grateful for the internet and skype.  Yeay for instant communication across the ocean!  It let me stay close with my family when I lived in England, and now that I'm Stateside it's letting me keep up with my English connections.  Not to mention my other widely scattered friends (Australia, New Zeleand, Ethiopia . . .)

I'm also crazy grateful for my parents.  If I need any sort of help, they're the first in the queue to make it happen.  And, I hope they know I realise that means sacrifices (of time, if nothing else!) on their part.  I love them and wouldn't trade them for any other parents.  Ever.  I got the best of the best, and feel sorry for everyone else (except my sister, obviously) who doesn't have my parents!  Neener-neener!  Yes, of course they drive me batty, but when the chips are down, they really come through.  (And, I promise, I'm trying to be more patient!)

And just at the moment, I'm grateful for my awesome Jeep.  We got blasted by a blizzard, and my Jeep handled the weather beautifully!  Also, grateful for indoor heating (and plumbing!)  It's COLD outside, and I'm glad it's NOT cold inside!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

That's Travel in Winter!

My parents are coming for Thanksgiving.  Well, that's the plan, anyway.  As things stand, they're going no where.  There's a blizzard (literally, according to the weather report, it's officially a blizzard) that's got I-15 closed basically all along Idaho.  And, a couple hours ago, the blizzard hit here.  I'm looking out my window, and all I can see is white.  Even though it's dark, still... all I can see is white!  Yep.  It's Winter in Utah!  We'll see if things ease up tomorrow.  If not, they probably won't make it for Thanksgiving at all.  Well, that's what traveling in winter is like. I always complained in England that we didn't get enough snow.  So, welcome home, I guess!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Evaporation; Not Just for Liquids!

I've been trying to put my flat together for a couple weeks now.  And, honestly, I've been doing a pretty fair job.  A couple of things have been on hold, though, because the IKEA loft bed that I bought, with attached desk, under the loft, didn't have screws with the desk part.  Or, at least, I couldn't find any.  It's possible, I suppose, that I tossed the screws when I got rid of the packaging.  But, I did try and locate them before I decluttered.  Never saw them.  Nor a hint of them.  So I made a trip down South (IKEA is at the extreme South end of the valley, and I'm at the North) to get them.  No problem.  The attendant went straight back to the spare parts area to locate the missing bits.  And she found them.... well, most of them.  She couldn't locate one screw, of which I needed two.  So so put in a request and had them shipped to my house directly.  That was back on Thursday of last week.  Fast forward to this Friday.  The screws appeared in my postbox!  Yeay!  Now I can complete my desk, right? 


I go up to my flat, open the package, take the screws out and put them with the other screws, in a Ziploc plastic baggie.  I vividly remember doing this.  I set them down and went to find the screwdriver.  Come back, get the desk bits out..... and the screws have evaporated!  *poof*  Gone.  Seriously.  I took the flat apart looking for them.  I put the flat back together, looking for them.  I've searched for TWO SOLID DAYS for them.  I. Cannot. Find. These. Screws.  (Yes, yes, I know I've always had a few screws loose.  But these ones are missing all together!)

Lois said she'd come help me search on Monday.  Seriously, I really doubt she'll find them.  I've searched every surface, every drawer, every box.  I've even checked the rubbish.  TWICE!  I've looked in all the obvious spots, and started looking in some really strange ones; the dishwasher, the fridge, the bathroom cupboards.... just on the off chance that I wasn't paying attention to what was in my hands.  I have no idea what has happened to these screws!  It's making me crazy.  And, on top of that, it's keeping me from finishing getting my things settled.  I can't set up my office til I get the desk squared away!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

And the Winner Is.......

Sorry this is a couple days late.  Things have been a bit insane!  Anyway, I've managed to get the name drawn, and the winner is.....


Kellie, text me your address and I'll get Shaun to autograph the book for you!  I'm sure both your girls are going to love it!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Another Book Giveaway!

Another friend of mine has published a new book!  It's called This: A Vampire Cure for Forever, by Shaun Roundy.  I'm giving away a copy of the book that which he's agreed to autograph.  If you want to check out more about him and the book, check here.  The rules for entering the giveaway are as usual:

  1. Leave a comment here. 
  2. Become a follower of the blog. (Leave a note saying you already are, or have now become.)
  3. Post a link from your blog to mine.  (Leave me a note saying you've done it.)
  4. Post a link from your blog to the Amazon listing for the book.  (Leave me a note saying you've done it.)
So, you can have up to 4 entries in the draw.  But, you must do this by Wednesday, 11.59pm Mountain.  I'll post the winner on Thursday.

Congrats to Shaun for his new book being published!


Please note: this drawing is now closed.  The winner is Kellie!  Congratulations, Kellie.


Friday, 5 November 2010

Wow, Masters Students Rock

Some exciting news!  My old boss at BYU, the Chair for the Linguistics Department, is out of town for 2 weeks.  He'd been asked last minute to present at 2 conferences, one in Dubai, one in Nepal.  I happened to pop my head in his office on Monday, and he was leaving Tuesday.  On seeing me, he asked if I'd do him the huge favour (and he's Australian, so yes... he said it with a 'u') of teaching his Master's class while he was away.  Umm... YES!  So yesterday I went down to BYU and taught my 1st Master's class!  And it was so much fun.  Small class, only 6 students, and they were all engaged with the materials I'd emailed them, participating, making really excellent observations or asking insightful questions.  Brilliant.  I may be spoilt for life!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

And the Winner Is.......

And the winner of the free, autographed copy of Revenge of the Dorkoids is......

Kelly Massman, who said:
I am a librarian who is working as a tutor! I love that your mom wrote a book and was published! Yay! Thanks for the chance to win!
Congrats, Kelly!  Be sure to send me an email (Use this: It's private and secure!) with your contact details!  Congratulations!

For everyone else, well... there's always Amazon!  And, if you want an autographed copy, I can hook you up there, too!  And, you never know when I might decide to do another giveaway!  Christmas is coming, after all!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

My Mom, the Author!

I'm so proud of my mom!  Simply bursting at the seams, proud!!!  She's worked so hard for the past two years getting her book written, accepted for publication, edited, illustrated..... and all that hard work has finally paid off!  Her book, Revenge of the Dorkoids: the Secret Club Begins has hit Amazon!  It's about three 6th grade boys who are the smartest in their class, and how they beat the bullies, without stooping to the bullies level!  It also uses those sesquipedalian/polysyllabic (ie: big) words you're always hoping your kids will learn, as a secret language!  How fun is that?  Did you know English could be a secret language?

It's actually available for order at Barns & Noble and Borders, too.  But it's not in store yet... she's too new an author.  Do you have any idea how tough it is to get into the book stores?!?  There's a lot of competition for that.  So, to help my mom out, I'm offering a free, autographed, copy of her book to one of my readers!

There are 4 ways to earn a chance to win the book, so you can have up to 4 entries into the drawing:
  1. Leave a comment on my blog here.
  2. Become a follower of my blog.  (If you're already a follower, leave me a note telling me.)
  3. Post a link on your blog to my blog, specifically mentioning the book. (Leave me a note in the comments with the link to your post.)
  4. Post a link on your blog to the Amazon listing for Mom's book. (Leave me a note in the comments with the link to your post.)
Be sure to make your postings and comments by 11.59pm Mountain, Monday 25 October!  I'll draw the name on Tuesday and post the winner then.

 Want more info on the book itself?  Here's a list of resources:

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Oooh, Free Stuff!

I love free stuff!  Who doesn't?  My friend V is having a giveaway over on her blog.  Go check it out!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Data Crash!

So... I've been nursing my laptop along for the past year and a half... maybe even closer to 2 years, now.  It's been really wanting to roll over and play dead.  But, I have been doing all sorts to make it last as long as possible.  However, all things must come to an end.  And the end has come for my computer!  It has officially died.  This past week I went to turn it on one morning, and it said, "Nope.  I'm not playing."  It has refused to load ever since.  *sigh*  Fortunately, since I'm staying with my sister for the moment, I'm not without computer facilities.  However, I do miss the laptop mobility!  When my boxes arrive from the UK (fingers crossed for this week) I'll get my tiny laptop back.  It's not really a good substitute computer for me, but it works great for mobile internet! 

FORTUNATELY, I have everything backed up on both my external hard drive, and an internet backup service.  So, I'm good as far as my data goes!
So, since I have to replace my laptop, I figured, I might as well do it right.  So I've given my brother-in-law the specs on what I need, and he's come up with a plan of action.  He's going to build me one!  Yeay!  Once I find a place to live I'll be ordering my new computer parts.  So exciting!  Sad when the old one dies, but this new one will be SO much fun!

Friday, 17 September 2010


I've arrived.  It was quite an exhausting trip.  But, not bad.  I left my house in England at 4.30 in the morning.  Caught the 4.45 train to London, Liverpool St.  Then caught the Tube to Faringdon Station and jumped on the Themeslink to Gatwick.  That got me to Gatwick for 7.00.  Got checked in, no problem.  I was flying standby again (one of my friends calls it "High Class Hitchhiking"), so I didn't know if I'd get on the plane until just before they closed the flight.  But, fortunately, YEAY! they let me on.  And, not just 'let me on'.  They let me on in 1st class!  Wooo hoo!  This is a wonderful thing.  Especially since I hadn't slept at all the night before!  I slept for about half the flight, had some decent food, and watched a couple of films. 

Funny side note - when I was filling out the Customs form, they ask what you're bringing into the US.  And, I could NOT remember what was in my suitcases!  I'd packed them so long ago (4 - 6 weeks) that I totally couldn't remember what was in these bags, and what I'd shipped!  Ooops.  Well, not a big deal, anyway, because if you've owned it for more than 12 months, you don't have to declare it.

Got through Customs in Atlanta, and all the sudden . . . I hear my name!  I look up and there was my friend, V!  She's my "dealer" - my Delta Connection.  She's my wonderful friend that lets me fly on her Buddy Pass.  Bless her cotton socks!  She flew from Louisiana to Georgia to meet my plane!  Isn't she a sweetie?

Here's the photo she took of my plane landing:

And here's a photo of me coming through security:

And finally, here's a photo of me and V together!

I have good friends!  She's such a sweetie!  It was such a wonderful surprise (she had mentioned she might come meet me, but I'd forgotten til I was ON the plane!) to see her gorgeous face.  We sat in the terminal and she had lunch and I had a Diet Coke. And we had a great little chat.  All the sudden, she's saying, "Well, my flight's going to be leaving here shortly, so we'd better get down to the gate."  I was like, "WHAT?!?  Already?"  Seriously, it felt like we'd been there 2 seconds, not an hour and a half!  So not enough time with the fabulous Miss Onigar!

After V got off, I was just kicking around the terminal for an hour.  And then... I didn't get on the plane :(  They didn't have room for me.  Oh well!  So I went down to the next terminal/gate and waited an hour.  And didn't get on there, either!  This was totally dejavu from the last trip I had through Atlanta!  I got on the London leg fine, couldn't get on the first 2 flights from Atlanta, and only BARELY got on the 3rd flight!  It was seriously a close thing!  The gate agents were standing there, in the corridor, checking to see if anyone was legging it down the concourse trying to make the flight.  Since they weren't the put me on the plane instead.  I was literally the last person to get on!  I curled up against the side of the plane, and fell asleep before the fasten seat belt sign went off.... and didn't wake up til I heard the Captain say they were turning them back on because we were coming in for landing!  I was very tired!  I've only managed to sleep in coach (for more than just a few minutes) once before.  Mind you, I wasn't complaining about being in coach.  I was just glad to be on the plane!  And the sleeping was wonderful! 

Anyway, I did manage to arrive to Salt Lake safe and sound.  I've been trying to get my feet back under me, but I'm afraid it's been quite a challenge.  Babies make a lot of noise in the middle of the night!  (Not complaining about that,either!)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Waiting for My Taxi

It's done.  I've got everything packed up, packed away, sold off or shipped out.  I'm just sitting here waiting for my taxi to the train station.  It's only a mile, but . . . at 4.20am, and with luggage, I don't fancy walking down to the station on my own.  My flight's at 9.00am, from Gatwick, changing planes at Atlanta.  Let's hope we don't have a repeat of my last visit through Atlanta: stuck for 5 days and ending up in a different country than originally intending!  Yep, let's hope that doesn't happen again!  I'd also love it if I got put in business class.  After the week I've had, I'd really like to sleep on the flight!  Anyway, I'm off shortly.  Very strange feeling.

Monday, 13 September 2010


As a missionary, my companions always laughed at me.  I'd get the call that I was going to be moving to a new area, and I'd start packing.  No problem.  I'd get 85-90% done.... and freak.  Why?  No idea.  I get overwhelmed by the last 10-15%.  Silly, true, but that's me!  And, true to form, I've got about 90% done for my move.... and I'm fighting a panic attack.  *breathe*

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Remebering 9/11

As it's the 9th Anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, I've been thinking about the effect it has had on our world.

There are no words to describe what kind of event that was.  "Tragedy" "Horror" "Terrible" None of these words are able to convey the enormity of the event.  And, that's a good thing.  If we had the words to talk about it, we'd be living in a world where it was commonplace.  For anyone who's interested in the academics of how we discuss extraordinary events, Gail Jefferson's article, At First I Thought: A Normalising Device for Extraordinary Events, is a fascinating read.  And, even though it's an academic article, it's not an esoteric read.  The language is very down to earth and readable.

Tragic as that day was, there was some good that came out of it.  The individual stories of heroism, strength and fortitude.  The stories of those who sacrificed themselves on the 4th plane, refusing to be the tool of those who would do evil.  The stories of those who risked everything to help as many people escape the towers, many of whom did not make it themselves.  And, of course, the marvelous miracles of those who helped and did escape.  To you, whether you've dedicated your lives to helping others as emergency response personnel, or whether you're the average joe who stepped up on that anything-but-average day, I thank you.  I thank you for not being human - for being super-human and doing what needed to be done.  Some of those acts were extraordinarily dangerous.  Others were quiet.  All were heroic.

Friday, 10 September 2010

T-Minus 5 Days!

I'm down to 5 days before I move!  That's frightening!  I've got so much left to do.... aaaaak!

Off to go do!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Change Is in the Wind

Ok, way back in . . . May? I said something about the fact that changes were coming, which was a good part of why I had been rather absent from my blog. Some of you will already be aware of what this change is, since you've been helping me deal with it or get ready for it. But, for those who don't know, here's the official announcement.

I'm leaving England and moving back to the United States.

This was not a decision I made lightly. It came after nearly a year of consideration.  I really feel like it's the right decision, but at the same time, my heart is breaking.

My move date is 15 September, and I'm heading to Salt Lake.  My sister lives there, and I'm due to be an auntie (Today!  She's at Labour & Delivery as I'm writing this!) so there's a dual pull there.  My plan is to be there for a year, and then see where I need to go, what I need to do at that point.

Monday, 30 August 2010

My New Favourite Advert!

After you click play, select "Play List" and select "Watch TV Ad". Truly 3 minutes not wasted. Brilliant!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Fabulous Finds

I've always loved antique furniture.  There's something satisfying about using items that have been used by generations before.  The items have more . . . soul, I guess.  Don't get me wrong, some things are better new: mattresses, for example.  I really don't want a 200+ year old mattress, thank you!  But, my desk?  My kitchen table?  Yeah, I'd rather have something old.  Besides, it's likely to be better built!

Anyway, since we were in the Cotswolds, I figured it was a good time to check out some fun antiques.  So fun.  There are loads of antique shops in the Cotswolds.  Sadly, most of it is just way out of my price range.  But I did find a couple of fun things.

The first of these finds is a brass door knocker.  Don't know how old it really is.  I wouldn't say it was actually an antique.  But it's very cute.
The scene is Corfe Castle, in Devon, and the village.  I completely love it!  I'm not sure if I'll put it up on the front door or not.  At the moment it's on my living room door.

The other fun find is this awesome antique money box.
It's got these 4 slots on the lid for coins.  Then, when you pull open the drawers below, you find that the drawers are subdivided into 2, so there are actually 4 compartments.  Cute huh?  The bottom drawer is just what it appears.  A single drawer.
The box is elm, from the early years of the 19th Century (1800s).  Isn't it fantastic?

So excited by my new finds!  Completely love them both!

The Cotswolds

Mom and I took short break to the Cotswolds.  That's an area in SouthWest England, for those of you not familiar with English geography.  It's a stunning area.  The villages are all built out of this golden limestone, so they glow in the sunlight.  Really pretty.  And, of course, the narrow winding roads!  You know I loved those.  I always tell Mom that the sign of a good road is if you have to change gears more than once!  And, if it's got canopies, even better.  :D

Feeling a bit sluggish (have had this sinus congestion for a couple weeks now) so I'm going to be really lazy and just put the Flickr Gallery here, rather than a walk through of what we did and saw.  I know, lazy.  But... it's either that, or you don't get the update at all!  Warning, though... it's LONG.  214 photos worth.  And, I haven't gone through and edited anything, or deleted the horrible ones.  So, you're stuck with all the warts and blurry photos.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Don't Miss Out!

Thinking of redoing your bathroom?  Need a bit of a sprucing up?  Have a look at my friend V's blog. She's got a giveaway going for $40 gift certificate that will give you a leg up!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Baby Blessings and Other Mischief

Remember back in April when I said that my friends M&J had their baby, Peanut?  Well, this last Sunday, he was blessed.  I drove up on Saturday to spend the weekend in Sheffield.  It was a double blessing (first seeing M&J and the baby!): My Mom got to meet all the wonderful people I became friends with when I lived up North.  We stayed with the Bradbury Family (whom I always refer to as "the Redheaded Family" because all 3 of the kids and their dad are ginger, and their mum's a bit on the ginger side.)  They live nearest M&J, and I love them DEARLY. In a perfect world I'd get to live near all my favourite people.  *sigh*  Someday, yes?  We also had a lovely visit with my friend Sarah, whom I haven't seen in years!  She up and moved to Australia for a year, then got hitched and moved farther North, so it's a little more complicated to see her.  *grumble*  Anyway, we had a grand time visiting with her and her family after the blessing on Sunday.  Also, J's favourite cake in the world is my Spice Cake.  So she asked me to make one for the dinner after the blessing.  Naturally I couldn't just do a plain cake.  I had to make it pretty!  Now, I'm SO not a pro-baker.  But, I do enjoy playing around with the decorating.  I'd love to have mad skills, but sadly the combination of heat and car vibrations on the 4 hour drive north didn't do my feeble attempts to make it cute any favours.  But here's what it looked like when I first finished it off:

My mother made the baby booties and I did the rest.  (If you want the recipe, here's the link.)

So, since we were going to be up north all weekend, we made plans to visit the Lake District.  I'd never been before, so thought it would be the perfect opportunity to check it out.  I booked a place at a National Trust place.  They have various cottages and flats that they rent out.  We stayed at Acorn Bank.  It was a wonderful spot!  Just outside of Penrith.  We totally had a ball walking through the countryside.  I especially enjoyed driving the crazy narrow winding roads.  The best bit was this one bump, where you went over it and our stomachs dropped out from under us!  It was fantastic!  (Yes, I know.  I'm nuts.)

Here's some photos of the walks we did.

 The Lake District is also famously where Beatrix Potter lived for many years.  In fact, she bought many of the farms in the area, and left them in a trust (now called the National Trust, which is now the US equivalent of the National Parks) upon her death.  Many of the stories she wrote are set in and around the area, either inspired by her visits to the area as a child, or once she had returned to live as an adult.  In fact, if you pay attention to the stories, you can recognise the locations and even the streets!  It's pretty cool.  We went to Hill Top Farm (her home), but it was raining, so we didn't want to wait the hour before we could get in.  Instead, we went to the "Beatrix Potter's World".  It had scenes from all the books done out in gorgeous diorama.  Really delicate and pretty.  They also had a kitchen garden set out like Mr McGregor's Garden, complete with Peter's jacket and shoes!

On Wednesday, we started back home, but rather than driving across on the Moterway, we drove along Hadrian's Wall.  It was great exploring the ruined forts and walking along the wall, hiking up to the beautiful crags.  At least, that is, until I took a tumble and twisted my ankle.  As many of you know, this is not an unusual occurrence for me!  I did manage to walk it off, but it was getting late, and we still had a long drive South to make, so we decided to call it a day.

Veni, Vidi, Vici

Great weekend and fun couple of days in the Lake District.  I totally recommend it to anyone!

Friday, 2 July 2010

My New Favourite Place

My mom's in town!  Wooo hoo!  And, since she's here, I figured it'd be great fun to enjoy some English Traveling.  So, Tuesday (last week) I was thinking about various places we could go and thought, I've never been to the Channel Islands.  So, suggested to mom that we see about going there.  Jumped on the internet, found cheap flights and a hotel, and we took off the next day!  Got in late Wednesday afternoon.

Had a wonderful walk down from the hotel to St Brelade's Bay.  It short, but VERY steep.  Our hotel was up on the ridge.  Then, once we got down to the bay, we discovered a fabulous promenade all the way along the bay, with fantastic restaurants.  We had dinner at the Crab Shack.  Yummy brochette and crab cakes. Yum!

Of course, dinner's not finished until you've had dessert, and what sort of dessert would you go for, when on Jersey, than Jersey Cream Ice Cream?  Yeay!

After our lovely dinner we walked along the beach. The tide was out, and in Jersey that's really saying something!  We walked down to the outcropping of rocks at one end of the bay and had fun climbing around them looking into the tide pools.

In the morning we rented a car (parking on Jersey is challenging.  Actually, the parking isn't so bad, it's the PAYING for the parking that's frustrating) and went out to the "new" Elizabeth Castle.  It was built starting in 1600 to replace the older castle which was not really suitable for gunpowder warfare.  It was cool, but really the walk out (it was low tide) and back was our favourite part.  Well, that and seeing the nesting Oyster Catcher bird and the Oyster Catcher with 3 chicks!  Adorable balls of fluff on legs (with LONG beaks.)


 This is the Oyster Catcher bird.  It looks like she's caged in, but she's not.  It's open on both ends.  It's to give her protection from the tourists taking photos (she's RIGHT text to the path!)

Since the path is only walkable during low tide, and not everyone wants to walk, they have an amphibious vehicle to shuttle tourists back and forth to the Castle.  Mom and I walked both ways, but we had to be sure not to get caught by the tide on the rout back.

After our foray to Elizabeth Castle, we went up to the older Mont Orgueil.  This turned out to be our absolute favourite stop of the whole island!  First of all, it's a "proper" castle.  Meaning, it's a "bows and arrows" castle with towers and a curtain wall and courtyards and what you think of when you hear the word "castle".  We got there rather late in the day, and spent the rest of the afternoon exploring every nook and cranny, every tower and every cellar.  And, it took AGES.  It's an ENORMOUS castle!  And the staff who run it were brilliant.  They told us to make sure we tried every staircase and every door,
 because there were a lot of hidden gems.  We had such a great time finding all the treasures.

It's difficult to tell in this photo, but the knight has Jersey Cows in relief on the front of his breastplate, and also a cow head on the top of the helmet!

This was awesome.  I asked at the front desk and they said yes, it did work, but the proportions must be wrong, because it only throws something about 30 yards.  So, it was a bit sad.  Well, for non-experts, I still say that's pretty good!

We stayed so long that they had to come find us to tell us they were closing up.  We were literally the last visitors to leave the castle!

We were so tired after all our traipsing around castles that we just wanted dinner and bed.  Drove out to the scenic Corbiere Point for dinner and watched the sun set while we ate. Then we went back to the hotel and crashed.  We were that tired!

The beds were not my favourite.  I really struggled to sleep the whole night.  Never the less, managed to get a bit of kip.  Got up in the morning, and Mom discovered she was pretty stiff from all our walking.  She didn't have as much trouble with the beds as I did, but I'm in better shape physically, so she felt the walking more.
 For some reason, this is the summer of Neolithic Passage Tombs, because that was our first stop of the morning.  The tomb was a little different from the ones in Ireland.  This one didn't have a corbelled roof, for example, and you had to walk bent double for 9 meters.  And the biggest difference is in the inner chamber.  In the Irish tombs, there was the inner chamber, with three small "rooms" radiating off, forming a cross (including the passageway itself.)  In the Jersey one, it's still got the 3 rooms, but the middle one, directly opposite the passageway, is much larger, and has an area that could have functioned as a Vestibule-type place from a modern church.  Kind of interesting.

After our visit to the tomb, we drove around, just looking at the country side.  It was really pretty, but the best bit were these CRAZY narrow roads!  Oh so fun.  You know it's going to be a great drive when the wing mirrors on both sides are touching the hedgerows.  *insert evil grin here*

After lunch at the Victoria Pub, we drove around a bit more before heading to the Durrell Trust, which is their zoo.  On Fridays they have late openings.  So we figured we'd go down and see the animals at dusk, when we thought they'd be most active.  Sadly, they weren't all that visible, much less even active!  Never mind.  We did see a few things.  Specifically, we enjoyed the birds.  They have 2 walk through aviaries.  They were way fun.  Saw some brightly coloured birds, and even a chick "sitting in a silly place" (quote from the advisory upon entering the aviary that you shouldn't touch the birds, and that the adults would get out of the way, but the chicks might still be sitting in silly places.)

 We went back to the Crab Shack for dinner on the beach.  Really tough to beat good crab cakes in the ocean breeze and sun shine, with a view of the sea.

Saturday was our last day on the Island.  Our flight didn't leave til late in the day (6.00 pm) so we had the full day to enjoy.  In the morning we toured the Jersey War Tunnels.  The Channel Islands were the only part of Great Britain which was occupied by the Nazis during WWII.  And they were EVERYWHERE.  You can't go to any part of the island where there aren't bunkers and other remnants of the occupation.  The War Tunnels house a museum about life during the occupation.  I didn't realise before that the Channel Islands were occupied from 1940 clear through til 3 days after VE Day!  An entire year after France was liberated!

 We went back to the Victoria Pub for lunch, and then back out to the Corbiere Lighthouse.  The tide is particularly dramatic out there, with a 40 foot difference between high and low tide.  During low tide you can walk out to the lighthouse, but you have to be really careful, because the tide, in addition to being a huge drop/rise, it's also extremely quick to come in.

The point has several examples of the German occupation buildings.  The observation tower

And the bunker.

After enjoying the sea breeze and the sunshine, we decided it was time to head to the airport and get checked in for the flight.  It was sad to leave the island, but I have to admit.... I was looking forward to my own mattress!  We highly enjoyed the trip to Jersey, and seriously, it's on my list of places to visit!