Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pizza Day

We have had a beautiful weekend. The sun has finally come to shine on us in these last days of September. :-) Yesterday, Brit Boy and I went into town to do some errands. There were a few stalls there that were reminiscent of the continental markets that they have sometimes, but it wasn’t a full blown market. There was a French food stall, a Dutch stall, and one with jewelry and handbags. We didn’t buy anything there, but it all looked great. We did our errands and then headed to the grocery to get a few things so that I could make a pizza later. I have been really wanting to give this a try, so we took a whirl around the grocery store. I already had bell pepper and onions, so I was searching for pepperoni, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, and a pre-made crust (haven’t figured out the crust from scratch yet). We got everything along with what we thought were dough balls to make crust. So we headed home and later we chopped everything up, readying it for the pizza. Then I realized that we didn’t have dough balls for making dough, we had dough balls for toasting and dipping in sauce. Boneheads we were. (laugh) We were rushing a bit in the store and got the wrong thing. But in the end, they turned out good and were a nice addition. No sweat. :-) We were in an adventurous mood and we would not be deterred, so we headed back to the store and picked up some roll-out pastry that made a GREAT crust. On the ride back home, the sunset was so beautiful. So when I got inside, I snapped this photo of the view out our back door. evening sky Back in pizza mode, I layered everything on the pastry crust. I started with a thin layer of mozzarella and mature cheddar and then the sauce with some onion granules and a bit of pepper sprinkled over that. Then I finished it off with layers of the other ingredients and voila! Here is a photo after we had already devoured half of it. pizza There’s a pattern here. I always seem to get the photo after we have been eating. (laugh) We usually just can’t wait. It turned out divine. Today is a gloriously sunny day and it feels like we are getting spring and summer a bit late. But I figure, it is just a beautiful bonus. Here’s a photo I snapped today. bare rose bush winter It sort of says it all, the beautiful sky is there, and the rosebush has shed and is going to sleep for a while. But it will be back before we know it. :-)

Paul Newman

I was saddened to hear yesterday, when we returned from town, that Paul Newman had passed away. Although I knew he had cancer, it still made me pause when I heard it on the news. A wonderful man.

When I was a kid, I used to spend a portion of Sunday afternoons watching movies from decades past which just fed my imagination. I was probably the only kid in my fourth grade class who could rattle off the names of movie idols of the 40s, 50s, and 60s like I was talking about the latest teen idol. :-) I adored the musicals especially. I just loved it all.

I watched many Paul Newman movies over the years. He was one of my favorites. He was at his beautiful best, I think, in “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” in 1958. He played so many great roles in his lifetime. However, I think that my favorite is a film that he did with my other childhood crush, Sidney Poitier, called “Paris Blues” in 1961. I saw this movie for the first time when I was a young girl and still to this day, it is one of my favorites. Newman and Poitier play expat jazz musicians living in Paris. The movie also stars Newman’s real life wife, Joanne Woodward as his love interest, and Diahann Carroll as Poitier’s love interest. The movie just has a great swanky feel to it.

Paul Newman will be remembered forever, by those who love his work, whenever we see “The Sting” or “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” or the many other films he starred in.

Besides his acting, I will also fondly remember him for his "Newman’s Own" food products. He gave all of the proceeds from his products to charity. I heard him say in a quote that he had been so lucky in his life, and some others didn’t have that luck, so he felt that it was up to those who have been lucky to help out those who weren’t so lucky. What a great legacy he leaves behind.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Trip Through Marlborough

I thought that I would share some more today about the county where I live. There are loads of tiny villages in Wiltshire that look like they have been taken out of a storybook and then there are bigger towns that have their own identities. And mixed in with all of this, you have lots of sweeping landscapes of green, dotted with sheep grazing on the hills. Even though I have been here a while now, the scenery still regularly captures my imagination. Some of the rural areas remind me of back home and my mind goes back to my childhood, when I enjoying running in the fields and playing. So I am just really enjoying exploring and learning about all that I can here. :)

Yesterday we were out and about and passed through the town of Marlborough, here in Wiltshire. Marlborough is a pretty town and the High Street is one of my favorites. The High Street there is one of the widest around and gives a great view if you stand at one end of the street and look ahead. Apparently it is so wide due to being rebuilt that way after the Great Fire of Marlborough in 1653. It is very picturesque and it’s even prettier during Christmas. There are so many interesting shops and Marlborough is historically rich.

It is situated on the Old Bath Road, which used to be the main road between London and Bath. Marlborough College, a boarding school, is one of the landmarks of the town and was founded in 1843. For any of you royal watchers, Princess Eugenie and also Kate Middleton, have attended school there.

Here are a couple of photos I took of the town as we drove through. The brown building in the foreground of the first photo is the Town Hall. The other photo is a portion of the view down the High Street.

On a personal note, Marlborough is special to Brit Boy and me because that is where he bought my engagement ring a few years ago. I wasn’t with him at the time of course, but he bought it at The Marlborough Jewellers. When we passed by, I think that I read out front that this shop was established in 1776, but don’t hold me to that. :-) Either way, the shop has been there a long time. I don’t have some huge sparkler of an engagement ring, and that kind of stuff has never mattered to me. I have a beautiful ring though and I love it because Brit Boy gave it to me. It’s also romantic to me that it came from a very traditional little shop with a long history, in a pretty little town. :-)

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Beginning of Fall

So today is the autumn equinox or the ushering in of fall. :-) There is a chill in the air this morning, but then we didn’t have such a warm summer this year here anyway. It’s a funny thing though, yesterday as we said goodbye to summer, it was one of the warmer, sunny days that we have had in a long time. Saturday was sunny too. As Brit Boy said, at least we got summer at the very end. :-) It was a beautiful weekend. And we got a bonus today too because it is sunny and beautiful outside right now.

I was doing a little research about the autumn equinox and I found that apparently on this day, at every point on Earth, there are twelve hours of darkness and twelve hours of daylight. And in the South Pole and North Pole, there will be changes. Those cute penguins in the South Pole will be celebrating the first appearance of the sun in six months. While in the North Pole, polar bears will be readying themselves for six months of darkness that is coming. So there is a lot of transition going on in nature on this day and we are all carried along for the ride.

Here in Wiltshire, down at Stonehenge, on both equinoxes and both of the solstices, the Druids and others go to the site and are allowed to go close to the stones and welcome the new season with their ceremonies. I have never witnessed it myself, but it sounds very interesting. Here’s a video that I found of part of their procession in the past. You can hear the wind in this video a lot. It has always been very windy down at Stonehenge, every time I have visited the site in the past.

On the days leading up to the ceremonies, Brit Boy and I have gone down on the way to Salisbury, past Avebury, which is another site with stones, and they are usually getting themselves ready for visitors too. So it’s always a busy time around this part of Wiltshire.

Happy Autumn, Happy Fall, Happy days to all!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

International Day of Peace

Just a quick reminder, today is the International Day of Peace. I know we live in tumultuous times, but if you can, please take a moment today and spread some love. Happy International Day of Peace everyone! :-)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins Recipe

Hello all. Here is the recipe for the muffins. I had to type this out last night after I posted yesterday, with the intention of sharing it. I have done these muffins so many times and I play around with the recipe so much that I had to search for the original recipe to share. :-) So here it is. I also sometimes don't put the blueberries in and then I put a bit of cinnamon and raisins in these to taste and they come out sort of like big oatmeal raisin cookies. As I said yesterday, I have found that a bit of peanut butter tastes good smeared on the blueberry ones. So I thought that I would try next time to add peanut butter to the recipe and see how that tastes. I got this recipe from a fellow blogger, Jenn, a while back. It is healthy-ish and not too sweet. So without any further commentary by me, here it is...enjoy! :-)

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup soy milk (or regular milk)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (whole meal flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup butter or applesauce(for healthier option)
1 cup blueberries

- Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

- Combine oats and milk in small bowl; set aside and let stand.

- Combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt, brown sugar, and stir well. I sift all the dry ingredients to make the muffins fluffy.

- Add egg and melted butter or applesauce to oats.

- Rinse and pat dry the blueberries and toss into the dry ingredients and this prevents them from sinking in the muffins.

- Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir just until all is moistened.

- Gently fold in the blueberries and then spoon the mix into muffin pan until three-quarters full each.

- Bake for 17 to 20 minutes.

Nutritional info for 8 large muffins (using applesauce):
Calories 183, fat 2.1g, carbs 36.3g, protein 5.1g, fiber 3.4g

You can use large muffin pans, and you get 8 muffins because they are so big. You can use any size you like, obviously the nutritional content will change with size. Very tasty and healthy muffins, ENJOY!!!!!

Just one more note: This recipe is written with US measurements. Since I am in the UK, I had to convert the recipe. So for any UK readers, I have been measuring one US cup as 8 fluid ounces. Have a great day!! :-)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Baking Day

Yesterday I did some baking again, but Brit Boy wasn't in on it this time. So it was a solo bake. :-) I made some oatmeal blueberry muffins. They turned out really good. During the last year or so I have been steadily trying to get more healthy food into my diet...into both of our diets really. So this muffin is a great new favorite of Brit Boy and I. The blueberries are tasty and are a natural anti-oxidant, so it's a win win. Here's a photo of it before and after I dug into one of them. :-)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Award Day

Blogging has been a great blessing to me in my life and it has enriched my days so much. I love “visiting” my friends in the blogging world everyday and I have made so many connections that I truly cherish.

I have received three awards recently that I want to highlight. I’m a bit late on two of the awards, because I had a hard time deciding who to pass the awards along to, since I love so many. :-) I received one award from my new friend Mike at Rambling Stuff called the “Million Dollar Friend Award”. I am so honored to receive this. Please check out his blog. I now want to pass along this award to some great blogging friends:

Cutie Booty Cakes
People You Need to Know
Kuting’s Place
Red Pine Mountain
Communique by Ivanhoe

The rules state that you pass this award on to four blogging friends and one new blogging friend that you have discovered who is in a different country than where you live.

I have also received the “I Love Your Blog” award from Alison at EleanorBlog a few days ago. I am so grateful to her for this. She has a beautiful blog that I just love visiting. Please drop by and see her. Then this morning I woke up to find to my surprise that I had been given this award again by Sharon at The Artist’s Muse. She is an artist and has a lovely blog too. Please check her out.

The rules of this award are as follows:
1) Link to at least 7 other blogs you love.
2) Link to the person who gave you the award.
3) And let the 7 other bloggers know that you have tagged them.

Here are my picks and since I got this award twice I will highlight seven for each award. But you certainly don't have to do this. Up to seven are all you need for giving out this award. I am just so behind and needed to get caught up. I wanted to acknowledge both awards and I love so many blogs, so this was a perfect opportunity to highlight a fraction of them. Here they are:

News From NOLA
The Junk Drawer
Health Nut Wannabee Mom
Live Passionately
Breeni Books
Brady Bunch Repeat..I Don’t Think So
Tales of Terror from the Black Lagoon
Dragonfly Cottage
Reading Lounge
Blogging MoRe
Writing to Survive
New York
The Virtual Dime Museum
Learn French for Fun

Thanks again to Mike, Alison, and Sharon for my awards.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Concert

I’m finally getting a chance to post about the Stevie Wonder concert. Sorry for the delay, it’s been a hectic couple of days for us, but now I’m able to get back here to share. Thanks for coming back to visit. :-)

So we went to the Stevie Wonder concert in London on Thursday night and it was simply the most sublime experience. Stevie Wonder is a living legend and in his case, this description totally fits. I have always loved him for being the peace-loving man that he is and for his playfulness. Many times during his performance he would joke about things. He just has a beautiful spirit. He inspires me. And he is a glorious singer. There is just something in his voice that I can’t describe that just makes you feel good. But you all know about Stevie’s voice…we just love him. :-)

In the lobby area of the O2, there is this light fixture that I just love and I have had a photo of it here before, but this time, it was illuminated. It flashes blue and just glows at night. I love it. Here’s a photo.

We walked around the outer concourse and soaked up the atmosphere of all of the other Stevie Wonder fans. I love this area. It is full of restaurants and is always vibrant when there is something going on at the O2. As I have mentioned before, it is like a little village to a point and it is great for people-watching.

Once they opened the gates to go into the arena, we made our way to the food stands. They have some good food in there. Brit Boy had a hotdog and I had some Chinese food. I had shrimp chow mein. Here’s a photo. It was really tasty.

The concert was great. Stevie had his daughter Aisha there as one of his backup singers. She sang a song on her own too. She is the inspiration for his hit “Isn’t She Lovely”. I remember hearing that she was the inspiration before, but it was just cool to see her in the flesh.

At one point during the concert he said that he had started out touring back in 2006, but he cancelled all of his shows for a while because he was so torn apart by his mother’s passing. He said that he had lost the first love of his life when she died. But then he decided to get back out on the road and make his mother proud, because he knows that she would want him to go on. He said that he realized that she would always be with him and that gives him strength. His mother passed in May 2006, the day after his birthday. He said he found comfort in having spent his birthday with her. So now he is out there again, sharing his gift with the world. :-)

Since the concert was on the anniversary of 9-11, he asked for a moment of silence to remember those who died.

Brit Boy and I were just thrilled to be at the concert. We would sing along and poke each other because we couldn’t believe that we were there. Stevie played a lot of his hits and the crowd just loved it! He just kept launching into songs and I kept saying to myself, “ I forgot that one…wow!” He has just made some great, great music and you just forget that so many favorite songs are by him. It was hard to get a photo in the dark on the camera phone, but here are a couple of blurry photos anyway of all the fun.

My two favorite Stevie Wonder songs are “Lately” and “As”. So when he played the first few notes of “Lately”, I just had a chill down my spine. Oh my gosh! I love, love, love that song and to see Stevie Wonder sing this live was one of the greatest memories of my life now. His voice was just sublime as it rang out around the arena. And I had to squeeze Brit Boy’s hand, because it was just one of those moments where you say, “Can life get any better?” :-) It was a wonderful moment and I tell you, my mind just went elsewhere for those moments. I was floating. I guess you can tell I liked it.

The whole concert was just great and Stevie Wonder and his whole band are just true artists. Stevie even had someone to help him stand on his piano bench at one point in his performance. He is a true performer.

He ended the concert with my other favorite song, “As”. Behind him, during the concert, he had different images on a screen and this just added to the vibe. So when he ended with “As”, the screen said like the song says, he’ll be loving us always. And Stevie, we’ll be loving you too!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Going to See Stevie Wonder

We are heading into London tomorrow to see Stevie Wonder and Brit Boy and I can't wait!! Stevie is Brit Boy's fave singer and I have always loved Stevie too, so we will be singing all the way to the O2. (laugh) I look forward to telling all about it when we get back.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

On A Ride to Salisbury

Today I tagged along with Brit Boy to Salisbury again. I always like going down there. It was a rainy day though, but it was still a fun trip out. Here are some pics from our journey.

The photos above are of a lush, green meadow on the way down there and the winding road we traveled down. It was so peaceful. The road is straight down a hill at some points, so it is like a rollercoaster ride.

Today was market day in Salisbury. Here are photos of part of the market and a nice street scene. Salisbury has some neat little shops. Check it out in the photos below.

On the way back home, we passed by Stonehenge. Sometimes when you live in a place, you kind of get used to things and don't see the fantastic things around you. We ride past Stonehenge quite a lot and I catch myself sometimes not looking at it. Then I remind myself and say, "Wait, that was Stonehenge, pay attention." (smile) So whenever we ride past there, it is a opportunity to check in with myself and to not let the experience of life pass me by. Below is a photo of Stonehenge in the distance and another photo rather close up that shows us speeding past, because you can't slow down on that highway. So the image is rather blurred, but you get the idea. (smile)

Monday, September 08, 2008

International Day of Peace

I just wanted to write a quick note about a great day that is coming up on September 21st. I heard about it at my wonderful blogging friend Renee's blog. It is the International Day of Peace. I think that this is a wonderful idea, because I believe in the power of individuals making the world a better place. I know that every problem in the world cannot be solved overnight, but I believe that intention rules the world. So if we are intent on doing better then small things change and good can grow. I know that one day is just day...but one day is a start between all of us.

I was so inspired by Renee's post that I wanted to pass this along. So please go by her blog and read her post and she also has a video link there that is great.

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Blogging Friends

Today I got a wonderful surprise, courtesy of my wonderful new friend Ivanhoe. She gave me the "Blogging Friends Forever" Gold Card and I so appreciate it. :-) She has a great blog and I love reading it because she is in a situation similar to myself, living as an expat. Please check her out. Here is my shiny new card. :-)

The terms for this BFF Gold Card are:

1. Only five people allowed.
2. Four have to be dedicated followers of your blog.
3. One has to be someone new or recently new to your blog and live in another part of the world.
4. You must link back to whoever gave you the award.

I would now like to pass on this award to some great people with great blogs. It is hard to only pick five, because I read and enjoy so many out there. Anyway, I'll stick to the rules. :-) Here they are:

West of Mars

The Domestiquette

Red Pine Mountain

A Day to Share With Tammy

People You Need To Know

I enjoy so many blogs out there and I feel like I go on a journey everyday all over the world. I have connected with some amazing people and just look forward to tomorrow when I can connect once more.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Happy Six Months

Six months ago today, I started this blog. Before I started writing it, I had thought about starting one for months. I had been told by another expat acquaintance, that writing a blog really helped her with the isolation that she felt sometimes. So when I finally decided to jump into blogging with both feet, I found that she was right. I have also found that blogging about my new life here has allowed me to take a breath and to be in the moment. This experience of living abroad is no longer just speeding by me without me noticing. I am becoming more present.

A lot of the time in my life, I have hurried from one thing to another and as I age I look back and think, ‘Where did all the days and years go?’ And the answer for me is, I wasn’t paying attention really. Not often enough at least. When my mother passed away, I missed her and mourned her so much for a variety of reasons. But one thing that crosses my mind sometimes is, I wish that I had listened more and talked less when I spent time with her. I guess though that a lot of us have those thoughts when someone we love passes. But her passing so suddenly made me realize so truly that we have to live in the moment and cherish right now.

Blogging has served me in many ways over these six months. It has made me feel a lot less isolated. I have found a definite sense of community in the blogging world. And it has helped me to witness my life day by day and to relish it and to take the time to really see it.

Six months ago when I started this blog, I was still nursing deep wounds over my mother passing and I was trying to find my feet here in England. I look back on what I wrote that first day and I can fully remember what I was feeling that day…things that I didn’t write about and I know in my heart how far I’ve come in so many ways. Every day isn’t peachy, but this Georgia peach is doing fine. So happy six months to me! :-)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Top Ten Entrecard Droppers

I just wanted to mention to all of my fellow Entrecard droppers that I have now added a widget to my sidebar that highlights my ongoing list of top ten droppers. Thank you to all of you who have dropped your card at my blog over this last month. I truly enjoy dropping in on all of you too. I have found some wonderful blogs through this experience.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Barbury Castle and Memories

I mentioned the other day that I would share some photos and some of my fun day out with Brit Boy on last Friday. It was a great day of just soaking up nature. Even though the name is Barbury Castle, there is no castle there. It is more of a nature reserve and has many sweeping landscape views that just made me stop right in my tracks. Just the gentle sloping of the meadows and the simple majesty of nature felt like home to me. I grew up in the countryside, back home in Georgia, and I spent most of my childhood truly content to run along the fields and through the forest, with no other toy than a stick or my imagination. Even though I am thousands of miles away from home, very often I have moments when I pause and have this feeling of remembrance of who I really am within. I will see a place here and it will remind me of something or somewhere that I held dear back home. I have realized that that undercurrent of a love of nature has always been with me and has followed me here to England. So our visit to Barbury Castle was one of those moments for me…a moment of simple peace.

The day was overcast and even though I am sure it is beautiful out there on a sunny day, the cloudiness and gusting winds on that day were an addition to the haunting beauty. Here are some photos of the landscape for miles around.

When you first come into the park, there is an Iron Age roundhouse that has been reconstructed. Here’s a photo.

Barbary Castle is a country park on the northern edge of the Marlborough Downs and is a part of the Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is on the Ridgeway route. It is noted for being an ancient hill fort and is surrounded by meadowland and trails. There are ditches around the central mound, that slope steeply down and are scattered with lovely wild flowers. Although the flowers are dying off for the year since autumn is coming, there are still some brawny ones left over. Here are some photos.

On Friday when we went, Brit Boy and I were some of the few people there. There were a few people hiking, some were walking their dogs, and some had children with them. The space is so wide open though, you feel like you have it all to yourself. You can stand as I did and look off into the distance and just meditate on the beauty of nature. It made me think of my place in the scheme of things. It also made me think of my parents who loved the land and nature. My dad planted huge gardens for years and was something of a part time farmer in order to feed all seven of his kids. I used to follow him around and help plant when I was a little thing. I remember him always telling me that nature is the truth and now I know what he means. And my mom loved her flowers and her gardening. She could grow just about anything. She loved to get her hands into the soil and help something grow. One of her favorite things to do was to walk around the yard and point out what she had growing. Sometimes I couldn’t see a very big plant, but I never doubted her, because she had faith and she loved her plants and soon, just as surely as the sun shines, her plants would grow.

There are directive signs all around that tell the story of the history of the site and of the artifacts and buildings that once stood there. It is a very intriguing space for the history as well as a place of natural beauty. I adored this day out because it is a beautiful spot in the world and it helped me to pause and take it all in and be in the moment.