Thursday, 29 December 2011

A Note for Sterlingsop

Welcome to ....

Pam @ Mushy Cloud







 

26 Week Photo Challenge 4 - Christmas

Sorry I'm late posting my photos.  I only found the time to take them today and I have to admit that I struggled - really down to not being competent (yet) to change the various settings on my camera.  They are all of the same subject, i.e. baubles on the Christmas tree but I have managed to get the bokeh effect .... just!

In terms of exposure they are all SOOC but 2 of them have been cropped and I had to edit one of them (not entirely successfully) to remove my reflection.  Self-portraits were last time and I'm not going through that again!!

1 - the first photo I quite like the focus on the bauble but don't like the fact that I didn't realise I'd chopped the bottom off.  In my defence, I was concentrating on the lights.













2 - my best/favourite photo I like the colours in this one and, although the focus on the baubles is rather 'soft', I do like the feeling of the photo.













3 - the final photo I was starting to get the hang of it by this time! The editing is on the red bauble, although you probably didn't need to be told that, did you?












Once again, thanks to Karen for organising this.  I won't get round to commenting on the other photos until tomorrow at the earliest.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt - December 2011

The theme for December was a Festive A- Z and I've managed to produce a photo for all 26 letters.  Luckily my niece is very 'big' on Christmas and has loads of decoration + 2 very willing models!

Many thanks to Kathy @ Postcards from the P.P. for organising the hunt.

A is for Angels















B is for Baubles


C is for Carol Singers












D is for Decorating the Tree







E is for Elf

F is for Father Christmas





G is for a Garland of Evergreen

















H is for Holly

I is for Ice cream - mince pie flavour!

J is for Jingle Bells

K is for the Three Kings

L is for Lights on the Christmas Tree

M is for Christmas Music

N is for Nuts

O is for Outdoor Decorations

P is for Presents

Q is for the Queen's Christmas Message

R is for Reindeers

S is for Snow

T is for Tree

U is for Under the Tree

V is for the Virgin Mary

W is for Wreath

X is for Christmas Kisses

Y is for Yummy Christmas Chocolates

Z is for Zzzzzzzs (the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay -  
yes, I know His eyes are open but it's the best I could do!)

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

All about ... 2011: Year in Review

What did you do in 2011 that you’ve never done before? I started this blog.  I’d been dipping in and out of lots of blogs for a few months, mainly to do with card marking, but kept pushing any thoughts of having my own blog to the back of my mind, classified as ‘something I couldn’t do!’  In the end I pulled myself together and started this blog as a place to join in the online card making challenges but didn’t actually do any because I got sidetracked by all the other amazing things going on in ‘blog land’. Starting this blog was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, leading to new friends, new interests and the reawakening of my love of photography.

Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions and will you make more for next year?  I don’t bother with the usual ‘lose weight, get healthy’ sort of resolutions and have always thought in terms of what I want to achieve during the year.  However, I didn’t plan anything for 2011 and as expected I haven’t achieved that much!  2012 will be different as I plan to do 52 things that I’ve never done before – really excited about getting started on this.

Did anyone close to you give birth? My nephew and his wife had their second daughter, Wriggle, at the end of July.

Did anyone close to you die? There were no deaths in the family, thank goodness.  John (my friend’s step dad) and Dave (the Musical Director of the Youth Band) both died of the same illness within a few weeks of each other.

What countries did you visit? I didn’t travel at all this year.

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? I can’t really think of anything. Although I can come up with a whole list of things I will probably get at some stage (iPad, smart phone, new kitchen, etc) they are just possessions and I don’t feel I lacked anything that’s truly important. Family and friends are alive and well (or in three cases, as well as can be expected) and I hope I can say the same thing at the end of 2012.

What date from 2011 will remain etched in your memory and why? Wriggle was born in the early hours of July 30th.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? Managing to keep teaching whilst still looking after Ced. The motor neurone disease has definitely progressed and he needs assistance to manage every aspect of his life.

What was your biggest failure? My failure to lose weight and start an effective exercise regime.

Did you suffer illness or injury? No major illnesses or injuries this year but I have developed digestive problems which will need further investigation if things don’t settle down.  A few coughs and colds and I still have hypertension.

What was the best thing you bought? It was actually a gift from Ced - my new Nikon D3100 camera kit.

Where did most of your money go? On bills and paying off the bank loan.  I also bought a load of crafting supplies to start up my own card making business.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? I’m not sure that I got really excited about anything, but I have reawakened my enthusiasm for photography.

Compared to this time last year are you:
  • Happier or sadder? About the same as last year. Most days I’m happy but there’s always an underlying sadness that the clock is ticking away so quickly for Ced.
  • Thinner or fatter? Slightly thinner.
  • Richer or poorer? I’m ever so slightly richer because I’ve reduced the amount outstanding on the last remaining bank loan.
What do you wish you’d done more of? I would have liked to have done more crafting but in the big scheme of things that’s not important.

What do you wish you’d done less of? Nothing really.

How did you spend Christmas? At home with Ced. 

Did you fall in love in 2011? I was already in love, and stayed in love, with Ced.

What was your favourite TV show? I really enjoyed Downton Abbey, Kirstie Allsopp’s ‘homemade’ series, Lewis and Doctor Who.

What was the best book you read? I’ve read so many this year ... I really enjoyed the Agatha Raisin series of books but I wouldn’t say they were the best.  It was probably ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon, which is the book that stands out, mainly because it was so different from the books I usually read.

What was your greatest musical discovery of 2011? We discovered Andre Rieu and have been watching his concerts on Sky Arts 2.

What did you want and get? Another year with Ced.  He said a couple of days ago that he hadn’t expected to survive the year.

What did you want and not get? I wanted an iPad but didn’t get one. Maybe in 2012 ...

What was your favourite film this year? The final Harry Potter films.

What did you do on your birthday? Spent the evening at home with Ced.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I miss playing in a band and singing with a choir so being able to take part in either of those would have been lovely.  However, it’s not possible at present as my carer responsibilities mean that I can’t commit to the numerous performances.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? I have never followed fashion trends, always going for colours and clothes that I like and feel comfortable in. 

What kept you sane? The support of my family and friends, lots of reading and photography.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? No, can’t think of anyone.

What political issue stirred you the most? The problems with the economy have made me take stock of my life. 

Who did you miss? My mum.

Who was the best new person you met? All of the people I’ve met through this blog.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011. Make the effort to enjoy the ‘now’ and don’t waste time worrying about things that are out of your control.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.  ‘You’re Still the One’ by Shania Twain.


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas. 
I hope you all have a lovely time with
your family and friends.
Eileen x

Top 10 Thursday - Christmas Traditions


Top 10 Thursday

This is my first time of joining in with Top 10 Thursday and I'm late posting! The new theme will be published today, so I'm rushing to get this one done. Many thanks to Beth for organising this.

Christmas Traditions

1. Decorating the Tree.  We don't start decorating until Christmas Eve and only leave the decorations up until Twelfth Night.  Official tree decorators are my great nieces and nephews; this year we have Tinkerbell and her brother Tweenie, and for the first time they will be joined by their cousin, Ragbag.

2. Christmas Pudding.  We always have a homemade pudding.  It used to be made by my mum but this tradition has been carried on by my sister. 

3. Christmas Performances. Although I don't have any children myself, watching the school performances is a big part of my celebration of Christmas.  I teach (brass and wind instruments) in five different schools and have the opportunity to watch the various performances in all of these schools.

4. Christmas Carols. Listening, teaching and performing - carols are a major part of my Christmas.  Teaching starts at the end of October/beginning of November and I have to admit that I do get fed up of 'Jingle Bells' (which they all want to play!) and 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' by the time the children perform,  but when next year comes around I'm full of enthusiasm again. I start listening to my favourite Christmas CDs on December 1st and most of my performing (in local brass/wind bands) starts around this time; this involves concerts and playing/collecting in Christmas markets and outside supermarkets.

5. Christmas Cards.  My partner and one of his friends exchange the same Christmas card every year, crossing out the previous message and writing in a new one.  This means they only have to send the card every other year.  Cheap, or what?  When there is absolutely no room to write another message, that person has to buy a new card and so it goes on ....

6. Family and Friends. Probably the most important part of Christmas is spending time with family and friends, something we always make the effort to do.  We used to visit everyone to deliver cards and gifts but in recent years our personal circumstances have meant that everyone visits us.  

7. Baby's 1st Christmas. This isn't something which happens every year but since my first great nephew, Bean, was born 11 years ago, I have bought all of them a personalised Baby's 1st Christmas bauble.  This year I've bought a porcelein one for Wriggle and there'll be another to buy next year as Bean and Boo will have a new sibling.

8. Poinsettias.  I always have poinsettias as part of my Christmas decorations and it has to be the red ones.  I don't like the yellow ones.

9. 50 Greatest Christmas Hits. This drives Ced mad, but I always insist on watching one of the Christmas pop video programmes at least once in the build up to Christmas.

10. Carols at Kings.  This is something we both make a point of watching on TV.  I just love it.  I also go to one of the local church services if I can.

Linking with Beth @ A Work in Progress

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Letter to Santa

Friday, 16 December 2011

3 in 30 Challenge - December 2011, week 3

It hasn't been a very productive week as I've been too busy getting ready for Christmas.

Goal 1: this is a long term one. I want to sort out all the photos (prints, negatives, digital files, photo albums). There are hundreds and hundreds of them all over the house. I want to store them all in the same place, catalogue them and sort out back-up for the digital stuff. This will take more than one month to complete.
Week 1 update: this is going to take months and months to complete! I've made a start on labelling and sorting some of the digital images but it's taking a lot (and I mean, a lot) longer than I had anticipated. I'll see how I get on but I may have to break this one down into smaller projects so that I can stay motivated.
Week 2 update: Still plodding on with this one.  I've decided that my initial target is to complete the labelling and sorting of all the digital images, something that will probably take me up to the end of February 2012 - yes, I take a lot of photos!

Goal 2: this is the one carried over from last month - to finish sorting out the bookmarks and obsolete files.
Week 1 update: this is just about finished. I still have to check all the memory sticks to clear out unwanted data but that should only take a couple of hours.
Week 2 update: Success, all done. 

Goal 3: this is an old one which I've resurrected as I've let progress slip. I need to update some of my qualifications - I'd originally opted to work towards a flute exam but need to review that decision and set a timescale for completion of whatever exam/instrument I decide on.
Week 1 update: well no progress so far. I've been too tired when I get home to even think about this but I plan to do some playing for enjoyment next week so hopefully I'll at least be able to decide on the instrument to work on.
Week 2 update: Well it looks like it's going to be grade 8 clarinet.  I have to buy the music for this grade so (because it is going to be relatively expensive to buy all the sheet music) I'm waiting for the January sales.  I doubt that I'll do much specific exam practice in the meantime, only scales and aural.

Linking with the 3 in 30 Challenge

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Last Minute Christmas Cake

This was emailed to me today. I've seen it on a couple of blogs as well so I thought I'd share it with you.

You must sample this Christmas cake recipe.

Ingredients:

* 2 cups flour
* 1 stick butter
* 1 cup of water
* 1 tsp baking  soda
* 1 cup of  sugar
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 cup of  brown sugar
*  Lemon juice
* 4  large eggs
*  Nuts
* 2  bottles wine
* 2  cups of dried fruit

Sample the wine to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the wine again. To be sure  it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat.  Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy  bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point it's best  to make sure the wine is still OK. Try another cup... just in case.  Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and  chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

Pick the fruit up off floor. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets  stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver. Sample  the wine to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or  something. Check the wine. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your  nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever  you can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try  not to fall over. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally,  throw the bowl through the window. Finish the wine and wipe counter  with the cat. Go to Waitrose and buy cake.

Bingle  Jells!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Welcome to Louise


... to Louise @ Boys, Bugs and .... Beautiful Buttons

Slim Down Sunday 16



Goal: To change my lifestyle and in doing so, lose weight and increase fitness.

Pounds lost: I don't know - I'm not weighing. I've now lost approx. 2 inches from my measurements since I started.

How it's gone this week: I didn't do an update last week and admit to considering giving up.  I haven't been 'good' at all but the only positive note here is that I don't seem to have put any weight back on.

Plan for this week: We have a manic week so the best I can hope for (seeing as I'm not feeling very motivated about this) is to try to make some sensible food choices. 
To see how others are getting on, or to join in yourself, visit Slim Down Sunday at this site.

26 Week Photo Challenge 3 - Self Portrait

Well I've done my three photos.  I was dreading this as I hate, hate, hate having my photo taken.  In the end it wasn't as bad as I thought.

I know we were supposed to be thinking about the ISO value but I have to admit that I ended up using the auto function - it was hard enough holding the camera still let alone thinking about technicalities!  All photos are SOOC although the final one has been cropped slightly.

1 - the first photo I went for a 'reflection in the mirror' shot.  The mirror is in a dark lobby (the wall behind me is the same colour as the wall you can see below the mirror) with natural light from one side only.  I'm not sure about the focus as the frame of the mirror isn't sharp.


















2 - my best/favourite photo.  Why have I chosen this one? Well I think it shows something about me (as in my love of music) rather than just a likeness of me.  I know my hand isn't completely in focus, but despite that I still like it.  I also like the colours in this one.












3 - the final photo. I think that one thing people remember about me is my naturally curly hair, so I wanted to get that in a photo. This shot was hand held with my left hand (so impressed that it's not wobbly) but I'd intended to get more hair and less skin!


















Once again thanks to Karen for organising the challenge. 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook - 10 December 2011

FOR TODAY - Saturday, 10th December 2011, 19:56pm

Outside my window... it is dark. It's been a cold, frosty day.

I am thinking... about what to eat.  Neither of us are hungry so the planned meal can wait until tomorrow, but what to have now ....

I am thankful... that I've finished my teaching committments for this term and am now on holiday until January 4th.

I am learning ... to play Silent Night on the piano.

In the kitchen... all is quiet .. we can't decide what to have ... I feel a take-away may be the solution.

I am wearing... t shirt, skirt and cardigan.

I am creating... a filing system for my photos.

I am going... to start the housework tomorrow.

I am wondering... when my new phone will arrive.  It was promised for today but hasn't turned up and I won't be here to sign for delivery until Thursday at the earliest.  I'm not a happy bunny!

I am reading... 'Tigerlily's Orchids' by Ruth Rendell.

I am hoping... that Ced's hospital appointment on Monday goes well. It won't be good news, it never is, but am praying that it won't be bad news.

I am looking forward to... playing my instruments just for fun (as opposed to teaching). I'll be looking out all the Christmas music.

I am hearing... the TV (as usual!).  Ced is watching a programme about salvage collectors.

Around the house... I need to do some housework and get things ready for Christmas.

I am pondering... the photos to take for the Scavenger Hunt - need to do 26 this month for the 'ABC of Christmas'.  At the moment I'm in need of ideas for K, Z and I.

One of my favourite things... all the Christmas music wherever you go. Love it!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Ced's hospital appointment on Monday, taking Lauren to the orthodentist on Tuesday, lunch and shopping with Laura on Wednesday.

Here is a thought I am sharing ...


image from Google


If you'd like to see other daybooks, or take part yourself, please visit this site.

Friday, 9 December 2011

3 in 30 Challenge - December, week 2

I've been busy with the last week of school performances so I haven't made as much progress as I would have liked. I've finished now until Jan 4th so should be able to spend a bit more time on these:

Goal 1: this is a long term one. I want to sort out all the photos (prints, negatives, digital files, photo albums). There are hundreds and hundreds of them all over the house. I want to store them all in the same place, catalogue them and sort out back-up for the digital stuff. This will take more than one month to complete.
Week 1 update: this is going to take months and months to complete!  I've made a start on labelling and sorting some of the digital images but it's taking a lot (and I mean, a lot) longer than I had anticipated. I'll see how I get on but I may have to break this one down into smaller projects so that I can stay motivated.

Goal 2: this is the one carried over from last month - to finish sorting out the bookmarks and obsolete files.
Week 1 update: this is just about finished.  I still have to check all the memory sticks to clear out unwanted data but that should only take a couple of hours.

Goal 3: this is an old one which I've resurrected as I've let progress slip. I need to update some of my qualifications - I'd originally opted to work towards a flute exam but need to review that decision and set a timescale for completion of whatever exam/instrument I decide on.
Week 1 update: well no progress so far.  I've been too tired when I get home to even think about this but I plan to do some playing for enjoyment next week so hopefully I'll at least be able to decide on the instrument to work on.

Linking with the 3 in 30 Challenge

Thursday, 8 December 2011

All About ... Christmas

Hot Chocolate or apple cider?  I like both but hot chocolate wins on a cold day.

Turkey or Ham? I like both. We have turkey on Christmas Day and I’ll cook a ham at some stage during the holiday period.

Do you like eggnog? Not really.

Favorite food for Christmas dinner? Roast turkey with all the trimmings.

Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cold turkey sandwiches for supper.

Go to someone else’s house or they come to you? We always used to go to my sister's home for a family breakfast and then visit friends.  Now that Ced is housebound the family come to us for breakfast.

Do you read the Christmas Story? If so when?  I don't read it but listen as part of the 9 lessons and carols service.

What is your favourite holiday smell? I have no sense of smell so don’t really have a favourite anymore. 

Ice skating or walking around the mall? Neither.

Favourite Christmas memory? My favourite from my childhood was the year we were given our bikes; Ena’s was green and mine was blue. But my absolute favourite memory is Christmas 2008 when Ragbag, our very own Christmas Day baby, was born.

Favourite Part about winter? Cold, frosty days when you can see your breath. Cuddling up with a cup of coffee and a good book and being warm and cosy indoors.

Ever been kissed under mistletoe? Yes.

Do you have a nativity scene? No.

Mail or email Christmas cards? I do both.

Decorations on the outside of your house? No.

Snowball fights or sledding? Neither. 

Do you enjoy going downtown shopping? Not particularly.  I’ve done most of the shopping online this year.  I do like the Christmas Markets though.

Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The way that Christmas is so commercialised now.

Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay at home.  I’ve only spent one Christmas away from home and that was to stay with my sister when she lived in Portsmouth.

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Dasher, Prancer, Donner, Blitzen, Cupid, Comet, Dancer, Vixen and don’t forget Rudolph.

Do you get a fake or real-you-cut-it-yourself Christmas tree? We used to go to Brokerswood to cut own tree but now we have an artificial one.

When do you put up the tree? Not until Christmas Eve.  Tinkerbell and Tweenie decorate the tree for us and this year, Ragbag is going to help for the first time.  Bean will also help if he’s visiting but Boo and Wriggle are still too small.

When do you take the tree down? By twelfth night but probably much earlier.

Lights on the tree? White lights.

Favourite ornament theme or color? Red and gold. 

Angel on the tree-top or a star? We have a gold star.

Favourite Christmas song? I can honestly say I love them all.  My favourite carol is ‘O Holy Night’ and my favourite pop song is ‘Fairy Tale of New York’.

How do you feel about Christmas movies? Love them, although Ced has a bit of a ‘Bah Humbug’ attitude towards them so we don’t get to watch many.

Favourite Christmas Movie? Scrooge, White Christmas, A Wonderful Life, the Polar Express ... the list goes on!

When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music? I put my Christmas CD in the car at the beginning of December.  I actually start on the Christmas music with the children I teach at the end of October so that they’re ready for their Christmas performances.

Carollers, do you or do you not watch and listen to them? We haven’t had any carol singers around for years.  We always used to stand on the doorstep and listen to them.

What do you do after presents and dinner? Watch TV, talk, sometimes have visitors.  Before Ced was ill we used to visit friends and family and then eat our Christmas meal in the evening.

Wrapping paper or gift bags? I like to wrap all of my gifts in the same paper so try to avoid gift bags.

Stockings before or after presents? We don’t have stockings.  As children we used to have sacks and they were opened first.


Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day? Definitely wait until Christmas Day.

Favourite gift received as a child? When we were six we were given Cinderella watches.  I can remember wearing that watch to school for years!

Hardest person to buy for? Ced.

What do you want for Christmas this year? Nothing. Within the family we’ve agreed to only buy gifts for the children.  All the adults have everything they want/need and we’ve decided to make the effort to spend time together instead of exchanging gifts.

Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Not that I can remember.

Easiest person to buy for? Any of the children.

Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I can’t remember a bad gift.  I was always disappointed when I was given perfume and I couldn’t use it so my sister got two gifts and I got none.  It only took a few years for people to understand that it wasn’t a good gift for me!

When do you start shopping for Christmas? At the end of November for friends and family but I shop all through the year for things to include in the Christmas shoeboxes.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Welcome to Country Girl

... Country Girl @ My East Coast Life






Sunday, 4 December 2011

A New Follower

... to Cassie @ In Amazing Graceland

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook - 3 December 2011

FOR TODAY - Saturday, 3rd December 2011, 20:50pm
Outside my window... it is dark.  It has been sunny but very cold today. 

I am thinking... about Christmas presents.  I need to do some online shopping tomorrow.

I am thankful... for this time spent with Ced.

I am learning ... nothing but soon to start work on a music exam.

In the kitchen... it looks like a bomb has hit it - just the aftermath of a Chinese takeaway.

I am wearing... t shirt, skirt and cardigan.

I am creating... this blog.  Nothing else on the go at present.

I am going... to abandon Project 365 - I'm about 5 weeks behind in posting photos and I haven't taken any at all in the past week.  I'll restart in January as part of Project Life.

I am wondering... what we're going to watch on TV tonight.  Probably a repeat of Foyles War.

I am reading... 'Bloodstream' by Tess Gerritsen

I am hoping... that my family are over their coughs and colds by Christmas otherwise they won't be able to visit. 

I am looking forward to... having Lauren to tea on Monday.  She has to do some more photos for her art homework and needs to use my camera and printer.

I am hearing... the TV. Ced is watching a recording of last night's Graham Norton Show.

Around the house... It is dark and quiet - we're both in the living room. 

I am pondering... which schools to approach next year to try to get new players for the youth band.

One of my favourite things... being warm and cosy inside when it's cold outside.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Teaching Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Friends visiting on Monday and family on Tuesday.

Here is a thought I am sharing ...

image from Google


If you'd like to see other daybooks, or take part yourself, please visit this site.