Thursday, 31 December 2009

Project 365 - 2010

With the new year almost upon us, I've been thinking a lot about what I want from 2010 and how I can improve.  I'm not one for resolutions usually but often there are some general goals, most of which I'm still mulling over.  Come back tomorrow - there should be some more clarity around them by then.

One thing I am going to do, and would encourage any one to do if it interests them, is participate in Project 365. In short, it is a photo a day, for a year.  It is something I've thought of for a bit, and then somehow stumbled accross this name for it, before going on to read that some fellow bloggers are also doing it (listed below)

It doesn't seem that much of a strectch for me to take a photo each day but I think being more aware and doing it, I'm hoping to see some improvement in how I frame a shot etc.  I love that it will serve as a journal of my year a little to.

I'll be back with more on my goals, probably tomorrow, when I can officially wish you a happy new year, but in the meantime, have yourself a safe and happy one, whatever your plans (do tell - I've some vicarious living to do - I'm staying in with a housemate and friends and maybe a few cocktails).

Other Bloggers who are doing 365 (of course there could well be more but hey ho, these are who I have read of recently) - check out their blogs if you can, all quite different but interesting and inspiring.

  • Honey and Jam - her food pics leave my tummy so rumbly! asethic
  • I am. I am. I am. - it was from here I got some postcard display inspiration - I love her
  • Thrifty Little Blog - ok, she actually did in in 2009 but her story just reiterates how good a project it is

(NYE 2008-09 - I'm behind the peacock mask)

James May – Lego House

James May may just be my hero

I don't normally post twice a day but I just feel I have to right now.  Have to.

Remember how I mentioned I like Lego?  Well James May (and his large band of volunteers and helpers have outdone themselves with this latest in a series on toys…

A house made from lego.  A real adult sized house.  With a flushing toilet, a bed, resident cat and all manner of things you might need.
It was built for his television series, James May's Toy Stories and the Lego episode has just aired.  Other episodes featured scaletrix, plasticine, mechano etc.  Flashing us all right back to our childhood.  The series has been running here in the UK over the Christmas period.

Apartment Therapy featured the house when it was underway.

The Daily Mail featured the house upon completion. 

Sadly, it has since been knocked down as no one wanted it.  Tre sad.

Some more pics (from the Daily Mail)
james-may-lego-house3 james-may-lego-house5
james-may-lego-house2  james-may-lego-house4

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Where did Christmas go???

I’m going to interrupt my scheduled programming to talk some more about Christmas.  The one just gone.  Went whooshing right by!

Actually, my scheduled programming is over and out.  That was just for Christmas and whilst I was away (Bruges).  I’ve loved catching up on everyone’s Christmases since I’ve been back and am here to share mine with you.

Being so far from my family makes Christmas less of a big deal in many ways.  There isn’t the balancing act of my immediate family, my mum’s family, my dad’s family, my brothers wife/girlfriend’s family, etc.  All that stress is taken out of it.  But with that stress goes what I really love about it – time with the family(ies) and sunshine.  Whilst the cold and snow can feel festive, it just won’t ever beat a Summer Christmas.

Last year I went skiing for the week over Christmas so I kept pretty busy and my mind was elsewhere on the day.  For the most part.  Something about taking your presents to the top of the mountain an opening them above the clouds with dear friend is a bit magical too. And then skiing down in flashing Santa hats, because you can.

This year, I was “adopted” by an Aussie friend who’s brother is also in London.  We had a lazy day, getting up a bit late, cooking a chook (turkey), pig, potatoes etc etc whilst enjoying some Australian bubbly in our jim jams.  We only got dressed about 10 minutes before the guests arrived (her bro and his girlf).  Some pics of the day below.  Check out the slightly odd serviettes – this pattern was everywhere in Iceland so when we found these serviettes, we couldn’t resist. I tried making peacocks out of them but my serviette folding skills just don’t extend that far!!


Kips after the meal and several hearty rounds of Jenga ensued before watching Annie on tele and eating left overs, back in our jim jams.  Not that we were hungry mind, it is just that they were there.
This is what happens when three Aussies and a Geordie drink, eat and play jenga…

It’s serious business, you know!  Our best effort was 26 rows.  Go us.

Jenga, trivial pursuit and charades are the Christmas games mainstays for my family – what about yours?  Do share, I love a good game.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Back in London town

I’m back now but kicking on with my scheduled posts.  I’m using these few days as some sort of year in review type thingy.  Anyway, some more pics – this time my favourite pics I’ve take of London.  Not so much my London life but the iconic London skyline etc.
Let me know your favourite? 20090911-DSC03787-London20090908-DSC03757-London 20090908-DSC03759-London 20090911-DSC03766-London20091021-DSC04408-London20091011-DSC04272-London20091013-DSC04293-London Seems I like to take pics at dusk and dark, don’t I?  I think the last is my favourite right now because the OXO tower has long been my nemesis and this is one of the few pics I’ve captured where you can actually read the OXO!

Monday, 28 December 2009

I’m still away

And I’ve been lucky enough this year to have still more weekends and trips away.  Here are some of my fav pics from the first half of the year.
20090614-DSC02444-London The Costwolds, England, June 2009
20090524-DSC02385-LondonLeeds, England, January, May & August 2009
DSC0229820091209-DSC02163-Turkey-Pamukkale20091209-DSC02157-Turkey-Pamukkale Turkey, April 2009 (Istanbul, Gallipoli, Pamukkale)
20090411-DSC01775-BudapestBudapest, Hungary, April 2009
20090410-DSC01740-Budapest Zurich, Switzerland, February & April 2009
France Ferry 20090301-DSC01556 Lille, France, March 2009
I’ve been a lucky girl this year and I’m super thankful for it.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

I’m away

And have been a lot this year!  This weekend it is Bruges, Belgium where I am looking fowarding to sampling some local produce (namely waffles, chocolate and fruit beer).
In the meantime, enjoy some of my fav pics of my weekends away throughout the year:
DSC05724The River Ouse, York, December 2009
20091209-DSC05381-IcelandBlue Lagoon, Iceland, November 2009
20091024-DSC04466-LondonVentnor, Isle of Wight, October 2009
20091209-DSC04356-ScotlandLoch Lomond, Scotland, October 2009
Simons Wedding and trip 125 Rotorua, New Zealand, September 2009
IMG_1553 Home, Victoria, Australia, September 2009
Valletta, Malta, August 2009
20090704-DSC02653-LondonBrighton, England, July 2009

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Platinum Wedding Anniversary anyone??

So today marks Boxing day and St Stephens Day.  It also marks my maternal grandparent’s wedding anniversary.  This year, they celebrate their 70th year of marriage. 
I wish I had a copy of their wedding pictures to hand – they are so gorgeous and they look so young and it was all before them. Granddad was in the British Army and is all decked out in his ceremonial uniform.  Grandma is wearing an intricate lace long sleeve dress and hat. 
Instead of their wedding photos, I have a picture of the card I have sent them.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a 70th wedding anniversary card?  I had to use a DIY one.  I guess it isn’t that popular as not many couples are lucky enough to make it.
Googling it (after buying the above), I found out it is a diamond wedding anniversary – but then so is the 60th and I think the extra ten years should be worth something!  Under the modern timeline, it is platinum.  One website had gift suggestions.  They less than kindly broke them into categories.  Now I hope your not eating (I wasn’t) and don’t dwell on this too long (I’m trying not to) but the categories were exotic, traditional and sensual.  The subheading for sensual is gifts that show you have the spark.  They’re 97 and 95.  Let’s not think about a spark FFS.
And on that note -
Congratulations Grandma and Granddad on 70 years of marriage!! Wishing your kids were here to celebrate with you, and not just your grandkids.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Hope it’s a good one

A crocheted Gingerbread house? Yes please

Aside from having the most gorgeous Christmas Fireplace, Danielle over at Thompson Family Life is also making a crocheted gingerbread house!  I want one!! Must learn to crochet.

Other things I want (if, you know, Santa delays delivering to Australian and parts of the world where it is already Christmas and takes time out to read my blog!) include:

A Lulu Guiness too-cute-for-words-but-still-practical umbrella

Birdcage brolly

Some star shaped mini cake tins

star cupcake tins 

And this year’s Swarovski Christmas stars set

Christmas stars 

So Santa?  What do you say?

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Playing around with Window Live Writer

So – how do you blog?  Do you write away in blogger/wordpress as the fancy strikes, fuss around with pics, hit publish and go?  I do. 

What about pics?  Do you load them directly to your platform?  Or to Flickr? (and then struggle to centre them before giving up)?  Yes, I do. 

Someone (Kate – aka Centsational Girl) recommended Windows Live Writer.  I’m taking her up on it.  She also recommended Picasa for blog headings.  Clover Lane did a great tutorial on it.  I’ve taken them up on that to.  I’ve used Picasa before but not the picture pile feature.

So this post comes to you from Windows Live Writer, whilst I test it out.  And, as most people use readers and won’t see the changes made to my header, I’ll use Window Live Writer’s “insert pic” for the following screen dumps, just to see if it really is easier!!

OldOld Blog heading

& NewNew Blog heading

Like my picture pile of the Regent Street Christmas lights?

Oh, and whilst I’m not planning on this being my last post before Christmas, it might well be the last time you read one  - so very merry Christmas to you all and safekeepings over the holiday period.  Love and cherish your families and dear ones.

x  Simon’s sista

Ten on a Tuesday - Eleven

..drum rolll...Tuesday....Ten on a Tuesday.... Ok, drum roll not needed -this happens every Tuesday!!  A Christmassy set of Questions this week from Chelsea over at

1. When do you put up and take down your Christmas decorations?

No set time really. They went up on the 13th this year and will probably come down around the 3rd of Jan I imagine. As kids, we use to put them up earlier in December but not bring the tree in until around the middle of the month.

2. What do you do to simplify the holiday season?

Move overseas. No, not really – that’s not why I moved. But, being so far from home means presents have to be in the post by the start of December.
Dating people from different cultures also helps. Many Europeans celebrate Christmas on Christmas eve which meant I could spend the full Christmas day with my family, guilt free. Love it.

3. What do you do to remind yourself and your family what the Christmas season is all about?

We don’t need to be reminded of it – it seems to be quite intrinsic. Gifts/frivolity etc is great but it isn’t what it is about.

4. How do you spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?

This year I am staying at a friends. London transport shuts down so getting around on Christmas day is really hard.

Growing up was different. Christmas eve was always the local carols by candlelight at a park followed by a bbq and swimming at a friends place. Simon and I would have to get out of the pool, get dressed and go to Church for the midnight service. Then back into the pool for a bit before retiring home and giving Santa a chance to call. Christmas day was always with mum’s family – either at ours or my uncles.

5. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

I don’t think I have a favorite really. Some things I love have gone by the wayside since I moved overseas. Others changed a lot between growing up with Mum and Dad (till age 9), then just Dad (till 16) then with my Stepmum and stepbrother as well. Sadly, there are few things that have carried on throughout.

6. Did you do the whole Santa thing growing up? What do you like/not like about continuing the tradition?

Oh, yes, we still do. My parents only get me 1 present a year. We usually have a say in that present too (like a watch or something). Everything else is from Santa.

7. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?

Gingerbreads I think, although I’m yet to meet a cookie I don’t like.

8. How do you take your egg nog?

I don’t. Hot curdled milky eggy stuff. When it is usually warm outside? Bleurgh. Australia is all out of season for this sort of thing.

9. What is your favorite Christmas carol and why?

I think Silent Night. It always makes me think of those less fortunate and slow down and stuff. The Simon and Garfunkel 7 o'clock news/Silent Night version is beautiful. So many versions are beautiful. And, it is the only Christmas carol I can play from memory on the piano/recorder (you know, if I still had a recorder)

10. When was the last time you had a white Christmas?

2008. I spent the week skiing in the French Alps. Staying places like that really increase the odds you know. Previous – 1983. Australia is not big on snow, let alone at this time of year!!

Be sure to check out Chelsea and her McLinky for more answers.  I love hearing about other's Christmas traditions, especially from various parts of the world...

Friday, 18 December 2009

Somersault & soundtracks

I've had my ipod on random this week. It has lead to some strange playlists but I'm liking the surprise factor.  My ipod has more than 13,000 songs across pretty much all genres.  I had Elvis, Frenzal Rhom, Frank Sinatra Christmas Carols, Taylor Swift, Killers and Powderfinger in quick sucession the other.  Random indeed.  

One song that has come up is one of my all time favourite songs.  Just hauntingly beautiful.  I can only so much relate to the lyrics but I just adore it.  Hope you like.

It's  from an Australian movie by the same name, Somersault, starring Abby Cornish.  Well worth a view, although not always easy going.

Related (albeit only just), I was listening to Spotify last nigth as I did things around the house.  It's a downloadable program that allows you to stream music from the net and creat playlists etc with an interface quite like Itunes.  On the home page it lists "new" music (or more, music that is new to its databases).  One of them was a greatest themesongs CD which I listened to for a bit.  It was a mix of stuff, with Goo Goo Dolls Iris among it.  I can't remember what else and I didn't like them all.  Got me thinking though, if I was building a playlist of 20 songs from movies, I wonder what I would put in there.  Somersault, above, would rate and Iris might well.  I might mull it over for a while - but what would you choose?

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Christmas is coming

And my decorations are up.

I'll warn you upfront that there is not many! I live with two other girls and none of us are actually here for Christmas so we've gone lightly with them. Rather than getting a tree (that we don't really have anywhere to put), I've tried to Christmas-a-fy some pre lit branches I have. Our flat is a 3 bedroom place but the living area (lounge/meals/kitchen) is all one big room.

Here is what we have (and upfront apologies for the quality of the pics - I'm not home during daylight hours):

Our "Christmas tree"

In context.  There is now tinsel along the windowsill and a homemade wreath hanging in the centre of the blinds


Said wreath.  I traced a plate and a bowl onto cardboard then just wrapped some leftover tinsel from last year around it repeatedly.  Not stunning, but it will do.

As described

Close up of my favourite ornament - a snowflake ornament from Iceland.  I've sent one of these to all my family members this year.

Shiny disco balls...

My housemate is a massive combi fan (hers is marigold yellow and called primrose) so these egg cups are always out.  I think they look just dandy with this festive wear on.

The other side, near the tele.  The candle that now burns in there is red, and the shelves are covered with Christmas cards.  We've run out of room though so I'll have to sort something out this weekend.

It's not that much but as I said, none of us are there for it, nor were we last year.  The items are mainly leftovers from who knows when (before my time) and a few cheapies from poundsavers (similar to the dollar store).

There is a bit more in my room, but that will be for another time, when there is daylight!

Christmas is going to be a cracker this year...

Short and sharp - Wee Birdy has done a round up of various Christmas crackers.  I am in love with these ones.  They are perfect.  Not very Christmassy looking but so elegant.

Are they not gorgeous?  These are from Liberty, a gorgeous niche upmarket department store in London.

I've done some interwebs virutal shopping (ie, I aint' buying none of these) and found some other doosies for you

Things to note re the above :-

  • The gold and black ones light up and have diamantes on them

  • The gifts in the red and green ones are wind up brussells sprouts (another Christmas tradtion!!)

  • The silvery ones with black bows are the tipple crackers, containing a tipple of spirits in each (just to, you know, add some spice to a family function)

  • The purple peacock ones a way OTT for me.  Oh, and cost £500

  • I wouldn't mind the white ones with sweets inside.  Yum

  • The black and coloured ones are trivial pursuit ones.  Doable for sure.

  • The plain looking brown/green/taupe ones are a DIY kit - these can be fun.

  • And the itty bitty gold ones are just too cute!
Are Christmas crackers a big part of your day? We've varied it over the years. One year I handmade some, another year we had some luxe ones whilst mostly we just pick some up to match the table scape. The main things are they they contain really bad jokes and the paper hats.