Wednesday, 30 June 2010

I heart Merlin's face

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Meet Merlin.  Not sure if I've introduced you to him before but he's one of my parents cats.  He's a Russian Blue Rag Doll cross and such a lovely friendly cat.  If I was to have a cat (which I wouldn't with my current lifestyle), I'd want him.

I noticed this week's I Heart Faces category is pets so I thought I'd play along...

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

I'm home (but I'd rather still be there)

I survived the first day back at work - just!  Crazy town in there.  I'm back from having a wonderful time in the Greek Islands.  I was asked many a time yesterday how it was, and it can be best summed up as:

Sunshine
+beaches
+quad bikes
+cocktails (and beer and wine and ouzo)
+good food
+dancing
+water sports
+good friends
+new friends
                     
= a great time

As expected, I took loads of photos (on two cameras) but it might take some time to get them sorted.  In the meantime, here's a taster - one of the beaches we swam (and biscuited at) on Antiparos.

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*In a side note, I lost my phone the first night in Athens so I finally got an iphone yesterday - any must have apps? (esp. those of the free/cheap variety!)

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Sail away sail away

Sorry, I haven't gone and got Enya in your head have I?

Missing in action a little this week - I'll be sailing around the Greek Islands with some dear friends.  I've long looked forward to this trip and super excited about it.  I hope to be back next week (not to burnt) to share the pics and stories with you, not to mention get this baby up to date again.

In the meantime, ponder this (from Saying Images):

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Happy Fathers Day

It's Fathers Day in the UK today (Australians celebrate it in September).  Given I'm in Greece and Dad is in Australia, it's not really that relevant.

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All the same, I thought I'd pay tribute to Dad. 

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I don't really have the words to describe his importance to me, or what he's taught me or what he means to me  - but he is the most imoprtant person in my life.  And I love him.

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Photos are:
(1) Dad and I at a Boston Red Sox game, Fenway Park, Boston, August 2008
(2) Dad and I at Niagra Falls, Canadian side, July 2008
(3) Dad and I at Mount Maunganui, New Zealand, September 2009

Friday, 18 June 2010

In times gone by

I spent last weekend up in Leeds visiting the Grandparents and some extended family.  Seeing the grandparents is a bittersweet experience.  I love them, but they are really old (95+) and their quality of life isn’t what it once was.  Grandma can’t hear or see and her memory is going (but her ticker etc is just fine).  Granddad is mentally all there but arthritis etc and the job of looking after Grandma is tiring him out (he’s still the primary care giver although they do get a lot of home help).

During a lull in conversation (common occurrence – we have the same conversations almost every time) I started flicking through a spindle of old photos they have in their lounge.  Granddad and I went through them all before he asked that I go and get another their wedding photos from upstairs.  We ended up going through such a range of photos – them as babies, their wedding, my mum and uncle as babies, me and my cousins as babies, all sorts.  I spent a lot longer than planned there and am semi looking forward to going through some more with Granddad the next time.

I had my camera with me so took some photos of them the old photos.  It’s their wedding ones that get me – check out the pre Photoshop (heck, pre colour photos) editing their photographer has done…
IMG_0787 For the record, Grandma wore off white, not teal, and the bridesmaids all wore the same colour (but I can’t remember what it was).  They got married on the Tuesday and Granddad was back with his army unit by the Thursday (WWII was underway).

Here are some more of the old photos…

Grandma (with her older (by 6 years) sister) & Granddad as wee ones
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Dressed up to go to the beach or for a walk in the park (how times/attire have changed!)
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Granddad in his uniform and Grandma freaking out (not sure if you were aware, but English sea side towns are unlike anywhere else – this one of Grandma was in Scarborough).
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It was great to hear Grandad talk about these pics, even if he did get a little teary eyed.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Susie Homemaker – the things I did and didn’t do

So I told you all that I would be making French tart pastry this month as part of the Craving Fab Pastries challenge.  Yup, a huh, yeah, no.  Not going to happen.
A combination of poor time management skills (i.e.…not actually ever home except between 10pm and 7.30am) and clumsiness (i.e.. thumb malfunction) and holidays (i.e.. I simply MUST go and sail the Greek Islands with a bunch of mates for 9 days between now and the end of the month), it just won’t be happening.  Which makes me sad.  I think I’ll be a late entry though and I hope to try it in July, along with whatever challenge comes next.

Another thing I didn't do was get inspired to bake a recipe posted earlier in the week.  I love seeing and reading recipes but not all of them are quite to my tastes.  Sugar free banana and sultana cake.  Could there be a cake less suited to me??  I think not.

{we heart it}

In order to make up for not have badly lit pictures of my pastry fail, I thought I’d include a sweet pic from We Heart It.  I’ve been giving this site a lot of love lately.

And a recipe for the yummiest butter frosting I’ve made and can remember having.  Hopefully you like it too… (icing/frosting is very much a case of each to their own I think).  This recipe can easily be adapted to include lemon zest, vanilla essence, flavourings, etc etc.. Go to town my friends – I’d love to hear what you get up to if you use it.

Ingredients

  • 250grams of icing sugar

  • 80grams of unsalted butter (room temp)

  • 25ml milk (I used semi but the original recipe I adapted used whole)
Method
Beat the sugar and butter together using an electric mixer on slow until combined. Slowly add the milk, continuing to mix.  Once combined, turn that baby up to high and beat for 5 minutes.  Result?  Light and fluffy and yummy.  I use the juice of 3 lemons in mine as well and it was delish.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Postcards from Wales

I’m back!!! Yay! I have an almost fully functioning right thumb. It’s kind of handy really.  Such a small percentage of your body – such a useful part.  Back story to it is that I hurt it playing a tag game at boot camp.  Got it x-rayed, poked and prodded and it was just some bruising and stretching of the tendons.  Doc said the pain would subside after about 48 hours, taking about 2 weeks for it to heal properly.  Everything seems to be going well.  It doesn’t hurt unless I do something weird with it, but I can feel it as I move it – an awareness that previously wasn’t there.  All in all, it’s fine.

Remember the postcard swap I spoke of a few weeks back?  Well I did it and I feel so supremely sorry for my recipient.  I’m a terrible drawer, let alone when I have to hold the pen between my pointer and birdie and not use my thumb!!  Here’s the view I drew:
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It is in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales.  Where places have the coolest names.  This was taken about half way up Craig y Cilau (which is part of the Mynydd Llangatwg escarpment) overlooking  the villages Llangattock and Llangatwg and the greater Usk Valley.  A seriously beautiful part of the world*.
Many many many other beautiful parts of the world were capture by many many more talented artists.  If you have a spare minute, go check out the flickr pool.  Looking at them can serve of a reminder to enjoy life, and notice the small things…

* a very beautiful part of the world only about 3.5 hours from London that I’m keen to return to when I get some spare time.  Great for outdoor activities (including lazing around I imagine!!), I spent a really restful weekend there doing the following two walks
  • the Craig y Cilau and Llangattock walk (pictured above).  A mid level 5.5mile walk with some decent incline
  • A a walk around Mynydd Llangorse, also 5.5miles again with some incline.
IMG_0715 {the views shortly after driving into the Brecon Beacons, where sheep roam freely.  Thankfully it was a clearer day on the Sunday}

Ten on a Tuesday 34

 
{picture from We Heart It and I most certainly do!!)

A hodge podge of questions this week.  Chelsea is seeking more so feel free to play along and or contribute some...

I'm answering these after my post boot camp shower whilst my dinner cooks.  Low blood sugar and a distinct lack of patience come to mind. Apologies!!

1. What would the title of your autobiography be?
Simon’s Sista Says.  (I'm not overly imaginative!)

2. What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever heard a child say or seen him/her do?
Kids really do say the darndest things, don’t they?  I'm having withdrawal symptoms from my niece and nephew but some of their classics I can remember are.  {edit} I do remember Zaccy (my nephew) going through a phase of calling steaks and chops Duchess.  That was the name of one of the parents cows (but a hand raised one).  Everyone blamed me for the association but I had nothing to do with it!  Thankfully he's stopped doing it (and it never did affect his diet).

3. What is your favourite kids game to play?
Does trampolining count?  I spent my Saturday afternoon trampolining with my cousins kids (7 and 11) and it was a laugh.

4. If you got invited to a potluck BBQ tomorrow, what would you bring?
I'm not really familiar with the pot luck concept so I'm going to take it as bring a plate?  I'd probably skip right past the BBQ and bring some hedgehog slice or something?

5. If your ears are pierced, how old were you when you got your ears pierced?
I was 14 (but sadly, they're no longer pierced).  That had always been the age I was told I had to wait until.  Shortly after my 21st (when I received a good number of beautiful earrings), the holes started playing up and I’ve not worn them since.

6. If you were celebrating your 30th anniversary, where would you want to go?
Eek, hard one.  Maybe return to the scene of the honeymoon?  Or do one of the world's great rail journeys?  Maybe Oslo to Bergen or something?

7. What one blogger would you love to meet and why? And what would you want to plan to do with them?
{edit} I'd be happy to meet any from my blog roll.  The only bloggers I follow are those that inspire me or entertain me or lead me to great recipes etc.  So any sounds good.


8. On a scale from 1-10, how good at you at home decor? (Pictures welcome.)
About 6.  I have grand ideas but lack the skills to execute.  Pictures not forthcoming, not right now.

9. Do you have good fingernails?
Reasonable.  I don't get manicures or nought but they're pretty much always have clear polish on them.  I’m not embarrassed by them so I’ll take it as a win.

10. Pickles: Dill or sweet? Baby, spears, or chips? Plain or on a burger?
Non comprende? I don’t really like pickles and certainly not on my burger.  Called me a dork but I don’t understand the baby, spears or chips reference.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Silence is Golden

and we all like gold, right?

Apologies in advance as will be hearing some crickets and seeing some tumble weed roll on through this blog for another few days.

I had a great weekend away (walking in Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales) but managed to do some damage to the tendons in my thumb upon my return.  It's been poked and prodded and xrayed and all will be fine.  It's just sore right now.  It's been wrapped and strapped and splinted within an inch of its life so I'm a one handed typist right now.  A one handed wrong handed typist right now.  It takes all my patience to drive my work computer left handed that I don't have it in me to drive this baby too, not this week. Doing so would be going against another of the doctors orders*.

Back soon though.  Be good in the mean time

Sue

* she wants me to keep my thumb up. Fine.  She wants me to wear a sling.  For a sore thumb.  No, not fine.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Friday Flutterfies


A pretty darn good to-do list I think.  I should add "get through work" to it but soon it will be the weekend and I will be making sure I check these items of my list.  What's on your to do list this weekend?

It's a bittersweet day today. 

I'm off to see Powderfinger tonight at the Brixton Academy (a great London music venue).  They're an Australian rock band I've grown up to and if I was pushed to name a favourite band, they'd be it.  Actually, no pushing needed, they're it hands down. It was their Double Allergic album I spent my first ever pay check on.  It was (and is) their songs I loved and laughed and cried and rocked and swayed and sang to. Their music is more or less the soundtrack to my life.  Their happy songs.  Their melancholy songs.

And now they're breaking up.  After 15+ years, they're going their own way.  Tonight is effectively part of their international farewell tour.  I'm not sure I'm ready to farewell them yet. 

Who's going to provide the soundtrack to the next fifteen years of my life? 

My list of their favourite songs is long, and spans their entire back collection and their most recent album.  I've just spent ten minutes staring at the screen trying to choose which is my favourite song to embed the video for and I just can't!! These Days, or maybe Passenger, or maybe Golden Rule or My Happiness, or Sunsets any of many others!

Edit - the title was meant to be Flutterflies, not Flutterfies.  Boo me for rushing.  And getting through work?  Almost done.  Made easier by heading out for a little afternoon sunshine and sweetness.  Some Australian softdrink (Solo) and some Yankee candy (Coconut M&Ms - who knew? I've never seen them before!).  A smiley afternoon

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Project 365 – Week 18

The first week of May.  May began with a long weekend, where I semi sort of stayed in London.  I did actually venture out on a day trip on the Sunday (a 460miles day trip no less).  All of these pics are from a new camera too that I got that weekend.  Still a point and shoot, but an upgraded one.  So far, I'm liking it but still very much learning how to use it and its many settings.  Bear with me on this folks.

Some good shots and some crappy ones.  I've put them all different sizes based on whether I like them a little, a lot or somewhere in between.  Which one would you have as the largest?


02.05.2010
02 May 10 An entertaining road sign for some towns in Norfolk. We came accross more entertaining signs than is the norm, but these were my favourite.

09.05.2010
03 May 2010 My newly rolled scarves in my newly assembled Rast IKEA drawers. I like the idea of painting the drawers, I just haven't found time. The colours of the scarves in this drawer (yeah, there is more than one drawer of scarves is a pretty good summation of the colours I like to wear and most of my wardrobe.)

04.05.2010
04 May 2010 Playing with the colour accent on my new camera. A London icon (taken on the walk home from work).

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05 May 2010 Some framed wallpaper that I have at home. I'm tempted to put smaller frames over the map with travel pics in. Thoughts? {and in this one I was playing with the fish eye setting}

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06 May 2010 Making some raspberry flapjacks (muesli slice) ahead of a walking weekend away.
07 May 2010 Getting the slice out of the fridge to cut before work.

08.05.2010
08 May 2010 This is three photos in one, but taken using the stitch setting on my camera so I'll take it. It's of Whernside, in the Yorkshire Dales. One of the 3 peaks we climbed that day. Raspberry flapjacks were eaten and appreciated atop it. I've taken this pic about 1/4 of the way up the final peak.

Pieces of Me – June Edition

Wow – June is upon.  The first day of Summer has come and gone and now let’s enjoy this beloved season. 

With the start of a new month comes this regular post,

I like: That the sailing trip I’ve mentioned before is this month.  I’ll be sailing around the Greek islands with a bunch of friends. 

I don't like: shopping for bathers.  It is so FRUSTRATING.  I’m not a little pocket rocket.  I’ve got lady lumps and bumps and what not.  Why is it so hard to find a tankini with underwire?  Bathers makers, if people are self conscious enough to want to wear a tankini, are they not likely to be the people with boobs?  Think about it!

I want you to know: That I really like to travel (duh!) but I still mostly stay in hostels and budget accom (penziones, bed and breakfasts, chains).  I see so many blogs with gorgeous hotels that I’d love to stay in but sadly, my budget only goes so far and if I was to stay in these places, I’d not be able to travel as much as I do.  I live a good life – but it’s not a lovely luxurious one necessarily.

I’ve planned: To make french tart dough.  Pastry is my nemesis so I'm not sure why I think this might work.  But I'll try anyway.  Craving Fab Pastries is a challenge organised by Fab Brunette and Craving Cupcakes and I have until 30 June to meet this particular goal.




I want to say to someone special:  If only you didn’t live so damn far away! (Oh, wait, that could be my fault!)

{This month’s pic is pieces of me and a friend playing in the 
mirrors at Berlin’s Reichstag building.  Click to enlarge it}

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Blown away by Berlin

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I'm back from Berlin and wow!  What a place!  We got back late Monday after three days there.  Not enough time by a long shot.

The city is a little unlike anywhere I've been before.  It's history, whilst not a long history (by European standards) is present.  It has the "old" beautiful ornate churches and universities and museums like all European cities.  Then it has reminders of it's recent history, of it's involvement and the destruction of WWII, and of the Cold War, and the Wall.  And now it's got a grungey edgy vibe to it.  It has high unemployment and a lot of artists.  There is street art everywhere (which could easily be a whole other post)

We packed a lot into the time we had there:
  • We did a 6 hour walking tour on Saturday - taking in many of the historical sites
  • We drank beers in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate as the sun set.
  • We climbed the Reichstag (the most impressive and fun parliament building I've been in) and delighted in playing in the mirrors of its central column
  • We spent a long time in awe at the East Side Gallery
  • We learned about the many escape attempts by East Germans during the GDR rule at the Checkpoint Charlie Musuem
  • We enjoyed the Berlin nightlife (never have I had a more random night out than Sunday night that was spent at 6 very different and diverse bars)
We wandered and walked and just tried to take it all in.  It is a fantastic place and I'd love to return there for some more time.  Next time I hope to do better with my German (I know a little, a very little.  Whilst I can order things in German etc, I'm too slow to understand much of the return conversation.)

I took a lot of pics, but here's a few random ones.  I'll upload them all to Flickr at somepoint but for now, here are a few.

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Memorial to the fallen Jews of Europe

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Brandenburg Gate

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Playing in the mirrors at the Reichstag (parliament building)

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My favourite of all the murals along a remnant of the Wall (East Side Gallery).  These murals were painted in 1989 - 1990.  The original artists came and restored them for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall.