Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas 2011 Baking

As I mentioned in a previous post, I did a bit of baking over the days leading up to Christmas and things turned out pretty good. I made Magic Cookie Bars, a chocolate cheesecake, and a red velvet cake.

Everything did taste good, however the Magic Cookie Bars got a bit toasty around the edges ;-) Surprisingly though, the toasty bits were kind of the best part. Who knew???? Here's a picture of my result:



Next, I baked the chocolate cheesecake. It turned out pretty good. It's very rich, and I would definitely make it again. Here's my attempt:



And my last bit of baking for Christmas 2011 was a red velvet cake. I usually make red velvet cupcakes, but this year I decided to bake a full size cake. And in order to add a bit of festive fun, I planted a Christmas tree and let Santa and the Snowman hang out in my cream cheese flavored snow ;-) It got all winter wonderland around the Yellow House.



And our old friend Trevor just had to horn into this last washed out photo. Lol. He loves making his way into the spotlight during the holidays!



It was fun to do a bit of holiday baking. I wonder what I'll bake next year???? Who knows...but watch this space. And as always, I'll be baking and cooking throughout the year, so please stop by again to see how it all turns out :-)

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

iPad 2 Giveaway

Hello all! This is just a quick post to let you know about a great opportunity to win an iPad 2. Catalog Spree is giving one away! So if you're like me, and wish that Santa had left one under your tree, just follow the link below to be in with a chance to win!

They’re giving away an iPad 2 through their Facebook page – it's easy to enter to win. Just follow this link - Catalog Spree Facebook iPad 2 Giveaway

Tell 5 friends and receive an extra entry! You can enter until New Year's Day!


Also, Catalog Spree has posted some fun iPad tips on their blog. Check out their “5 Tips for a New iPad Owner”

This all sounds like a win win opportunity to me! So why not give it a go!

Disclosure: I was not given any compensation for this post by Catalog Spree or anyone. I just thought I'd pass along this info :-)

I hope that you all are having a happy holiday season!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas at Salisbury Cathedral

Hello everyone! :) I just wanted to share some pics from Thursday night. Brit Boy and I went down to Salisbury to attend the Carol Service at Salisbury Cathedral. We have gone before, but we missed the last time due to bad weather. However, this year we were able to be there and it was just as beautiful as I remember. I'll tell you, hearing those young voices echoing around the cathedral is something to experience at least once in your life :) Sitting there and taking in all of the beauty of the singing and the cathedral is just an extraordinary experience! I hope that you enjoy looking at a few of the pics that I took. I wanted to share some of what I saw with anyone who takes the time to come and visit me at my blog. I truly appreciate it! So these pictures are for you...my wonderful readers!

Below: These first two pictures are of the Old George Mall, all decked out for Christmas





Below: The next three are street scenes in Salisbury





Below: This is the Guildhall in Salisbury



Below: Another street scene in Salisbury



Below: The High Street Gate leading to Salisbury Cathedral



Below: The next two pictures are of the inside of Salisbury Cathedral right before the service




Below: The next three are pictures of the West Front of Salisbury Cathedral





Below: And finally, this is a picture that I snapped of the cathedral from afar.



Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Baking at the Yellow House

I'm getting ready to do some baking around the Yellow House. Christmas is coming along quickly, so I've got to get it going in the kitchen. I love to bake, but I just loathe washing dishes afterward ;-) Anyway here is a fuzzy picture of some of my ingredients.



I'm starting off my baking with making some Magic Cookie Bars. I haven't had any of these in years. I had a taste for them, so I decided to take the plunge this year! I'm also going to be making a chocolate cheesecake and a red velvet cake later in the week. I've made red velvet cake many times before, but this will be my first time baking this chocolate cheesecake. Wish me luck! ;-) And you know me, even if it turns out a disaster, I will plaster a picture of it on here...I love full disclosure in my cooking :-) So please come back in a day or two to see how it turned out if you have a minute.

Buying all of the ingredients for baking like this takes a bit of fundraising management, since ingredients aren't cheap. However, I pride myself on being a bit of a bargain shopper, so it all works out in the end!

Have a great day and I'll be back with more food pics very soon!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Moody Sky



I took this picture earlier this week. It was taken right before it started to rain. There was the weirdest sky with this bright burst of sun and then the rolling in of the clouds. The picture came out kind of spooky. I like taking pictures of the sky because you never know what you're gonna get! :-)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Keel's Simple Diary - Volume Two Review

A few days ago I was given the opportunity to review a wonderful product called Keel’s Simple Diary - Volume Two. Let me tell you, I ADORE it! I’ve written in a journal for many years off and on and I always will. I don’t write in it every day and I think that that is how I keep it going after all of these years. There is no pressure to show up to journal every day, so I can just relax and let the words flow whenever they want. Some days I'll just write one sentence or draw a doodle. I've even written on a page several times, 'I don't have anything to say today'. Lol. And although I’m a proponent of journals and diaries, I know that many people are not. I’ve heard some people say that they don’t write a journal/diary because they don’t know what to write every day or they don’t have anything to say. Well, I can understand that. It can be a daunting task if you’ve never really taken to the practice.

So when I received a copy of the Keel’s Simple Diary to review, I was really intrigued to find out that it takes care of a lot of that fear that some may have about keeping track of their days in book form. See, this cool little diary is first of all a perfect size to carry along with you if you like. It’s very handy. But if you prefer to just keep it at home that’s great too. I just love that since it’s so different, it makes you feel like you can just throw every rule about keeping a diary/journal out the window! :-) It is a very liberating diary to have.

Here’s why it’s so great! First of all you can get them in a variety of colors (photo below). I have the light blue one.




But what I really love about the diary is what makes it so unique. Each day instead of having to stare at a blank page, you are greeted by intriguing text that entertains you as you pause to take note of your day. You are given gentle prompts to help fuel your thoughts about your day and I love that the whole vibe of the diary is quite philosophical. There is a blank line at the top of each page for you to record the date and to me this means that you still have the option of skipping a day or two if you want. No rules ;-) As the name of the diary so eloquently says, it is a ‘simple diary’, and it is simply great.

Here’s an example of one of the prompts in my simple diary.

“Your day was (only choose one): calm – overcast – an empty toolbox”

Then underneath it asks why, and you’re not flooded with a big space to fill. So it’s a gentle little exercise for your brain. On each page there is also a short saying that makes you go ‘hmmm’. And at the bottom of each page there are one or two more prompts. As I’m reading from the same page as the prompt above, I see that at the end of this page it asks: “Where will you be in ten years from now? (make a sketch, a drawing or a collage – or disregard)”.

I love the open ended nature of this and hey, when was the last time you made a collage? ;-) I think that I might choose the collage when I get to that day! I’m going to wait until the new year to start actively using it. It will be a neat little project to start a new diary in the new year and then be able to read back over it in the year after that. It will be intriguing to see how my thoughts have or haven’t changed. I’m excited to get started!

So if you have been a bit shy about keeping a diary or if you love writing down your thoughts, I think that you will love this diary. I think that it’s more than a diary actually, it’s a tool that can help us gain more insight into who we are and how we think. I think that this could be a fabulous Christmas gift or a gift for any day...for yourself or someone you care about!

Get your own diary here!

Disclosure: I was sent this diary compliments of the publishers, however all views on this product are my own as always :-)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Card Traditions

I've been up for a while today...way too early for a Sunday morning, but I guess that I'm awake early for a reason. Perhaps just so I could get this post in ;-) Anyway, it's been a pretty good weekend so far. Yesterday we went into town for a few things and to mail off some Christmas cards.

In the photo above: These are the airmail decals that I have to place on the letters along with the regular stamp. I didn't send this many cards...lol. I just have a bulk of these that I got for free at the post office a long time ago. Enough to last a lifetime probably ;-)

I love sending Christmas cards to people, especially in this age of e-cards and other techie ways to keep in touch. Don't get me wrong. I send e-cards and do all of the social networking things to keep in touch too, but I think that it's cool to at least try it the traditional way once a year. International postage isn't cheap, but I try to plan ahead to have the money available. And it isn't an amount that will break the bank anyway :-) I look at the postage as another Christmas gift on my list and it is chopped up and spread to several people instead of just one. This is the only time of the year when I get to send cards to my friends and family back home, so I truly relish it. It's a win win in my book!

My mom used to love to send Christmas cards and she did right up until her last Christmas. I would usually be drafted in to write quite a few of them out for her and I got hand cramps, but I knew it was important to her. It was a tradition. She didn't send a tremendous amount of them out, but she had a nice little list of core people that she had known for decades and she made sure to send a card every year. Interestingly, when I was helping her to write out her Christmas cards leading up to her last Christmas, I thought to myself that the list was dwindling so much in the last few years. I thought about how I had known some of those people for most of my life and how quickly life goes, so indeed we must relish every day. And I remember thinking how it wasn’t all sad because we were so lucky to have known those good people. Life is a joy despite everything, because of the people that we have the pleasure to know on this journey :-)

I know that I probably remember that Christmas very vividly because it was indeed my last Christmas with my mom. Otherwise those thoughts that I had while writing those cards probably would have evaporated from my memory. It is six years ago now and I’ll never forget that December and I’ll never forget the lesson about connection that my mom taught me by example.

I know that sending Christmas cards isn't everyone's thing and I'm not trying to convert anybody ;-) I just thought that I'd share a little piece of my memories and if nothing else, you get to see my airmail decal stash. Lol.

So even though I’m 4,000 miles away, I value the connections that I have and I know that making the effort is all worth it because I wouldn’t miss knowing these good people for anything in the world! :-)

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Prezzybox Review

I can’t believe that Christmas is so close now...three weeks from yesterday! Where has the time gone? Have any of you done your Christmas shopping? Well, surprisingly, Brit Boy and I completed ours this year way ahead of time. Woo Hoo! :-) Still, I love browsing and checking out what’s still on offer out there. So I was excited to be offered an opportunity to review a couple of products from a great site called Prezzybox.

Prezzybox.com is a fabulous site where you can find a variety of unique and interesting gifts for those that are on your Christmas gift list. They have some great Christmas stocking fillers, but they also boast a great selection of gifts for other occasions. They currently only deliver to the UK, but are looking to expand to continental Europe and the United States soon. So please go by and check them out!

I was sent two items as I mentioned. I received this cute character below called a Tude Beam (£9.95). They are fun little characters that change colors to the beat of your favorite music. They have a colorful glow and give off a chilled out vibe with moody light when no music is playing. There are five light settings, including a strobe light setting. There are four characters named: Cross, Flex, Loaf, and Feisty. Flex was the one that Prezzybox sent to me. What a cool little character and a great gift!


I was also sent an item, shown below, called the 6-in-1 Utili-Key (£9.95), which is made by Swiss Tech. The Utili-Key is lightweight, about half an ounce in weight, and is the size of a regular door key, but there is nothing lightweight about all that this amazing tool can do. There are six tools included, they are: a serrated knife blade, straight knife blade, Phillips screwdriver, flat screwdriver, micro eyeglass screwdriver, and a bottle opener. There’s a tool for nearly every situation.

I love that it’s so handy and you can have what you need at your fingertips, all in one place. I tried the tool out over the weekend and I really like it. It’s sturdy despite its size and gets the job done. I used the micro eyeglass screwdriver on my computer glasses and it worked like a charm. One side of my frames is always coming unscrewed, so it was so convenient to have the proper tool right there when I needed it and I didn’t have to search all over for something that might or might not do the job. I also tried the other two screwdrivers around the house and they worked great. I liked the size of the tool very much because due to its size you can get into some rather tight spots with it. All of the components seemed to work very well, and I’d definitely consider giving one as a gift. The Utili-Key is a new favorite of mine and it will have a nice home here at the Yellow House.

I really like the Prezzybox site and it's a fun place to shop for a variety of cool things!

*Disclosure: I was sent these products to review from Prezzybox, via Fuel My Blog.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Baking

Well the Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone and it was a good one around the Yellow House. I had the chance to go on Skype on Thanksgiving with my niece and sisters as I mentioned in a previous post. And it was a whole lot of fun! It was just like I was sitting in the room with them. Then on Friday, Brit Boy and I had our Thanksgiving dinner. We had a great day together!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to make a different version of sweet potato pie this year and you know what...they turned out great. I made mini sweet potato pies. I got the original recipe off of the Food Network website and had to make a substitution for the crust. Here’s a link to the recipe from their site. I’m not very good at making crusts yet and I ran out of time, so I found a substitute. I found this product called brandy snap baskets that were pre-made and used them for my shell. You can see them in the photo below. They are kind of crispy and a bit chewy, but they were the perfect accompaniment to the pies. My version tastes better than it looks in the photo...trust me ;-)




So the filling of the brandy snap baskets is a sweet potato soufflĂ© that I made separately and then placed it into the baskets. Then I made the whipped topping with cream cheese, cinnamon, and confectioners sugar/powdered sugar. I didn’t have a pastry bag so I just kind of dropped a bit of the cream on each one. It turned out fine and it was still good :-)

I was intrigued when I saw them made on the cooking show that I watched. So when I tasted them, I was not disappointed at all. I’ll definitely be making them again.

This was my latest cooking adventure and it was fun...now on to the next thing.

P.S. – Brit Boy recently completed his first review. Please go by his blog if you have a moment and check it out! Thanks...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On the Eve of Thanksgiving

Today is a good day at the Yellow House. As many of you know, tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the USA and even though I’ve been living here for five and a half years, the tradition is still very much celebrated in this little house. Brit Boy loves the holiday too, and has always been a very willing participant in the celebration. So it is nice to share this holiday with him and embrace the gratitude and connection of the day together.

We’re actually going to celebrate on Friday because Brit Boy won’t have the day off on the actual Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, since the day isn’t celebrated here of course. He is having the day off on Friday so we can have a long weekend together though. So that will be nice. It’s going to be great no matter what day!

My thoughts are all over the place today, but in a good way. I’m having a hybrid of memory and new traditions going through my mind. Today I’m remembering the last Thanksgiving that my siblings and I had with my mom six years ago. And in the spirit of gratitude, I’m so grateful that we were able to be together like that, with her sitting at the head of the table at my sister’s house and giving us that beautiful smile of hers. I remember a lot of Thanksgivings fondly, but that one stands out to me more than any of them and it will stay with me forever. She was happy and that is the way I remember her. She loved the holiday season, so Thanksgiving and Christmas were her times. Right after Thanksgiving she would pull out her Christmas music and sing her way around the kitchen all the way up until Christmas. It’s interesting when you look back at a person in all of their glory and you really ‘see’ them. I realize now that besides all that she taught me in being my mother, she also taught me a lot about being a human being. My mother didn’t have the easiest life by any stretch of the imagination, but she had the greatest joy for life and she lived in the moment. I loved that about her...

Later this evening, Brit Boy and I are heading to the supermarket to pick up some ingredients for our Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. I’m making some of the standard traditional dishes that I grew up with, but I’m going to attempt to make a new dessert. I know that lots of people make pumpkin pies, but in our house it was always sweet potato pies. That's what I love though...there are traditional foods that we all share in common on that day and then there are regional variations. Variety and tradition living side by side is a beautiful thing. I’m still going to make regular sweet potato pie, but I’m going to try this recipe that I found for these mini pies with a cream cheese type topping. They looked good when I saw them on the Food Network last year, so I’m gonna give it a whirl. Wish me luck! ;-) If I go ahead with trying it, I’ll share how they turned out...for better or worse. Also, it’s usually a customary challenge to find substitutions for some ingredients here. But after these past few years, it’s become a standard part of my life, so it’s kind of like a game now. Lol. It should be fun! I embrace the challenge!

Tomorrow I will get my dessert making done so that I won’t have that to on Friday. And hopefully if I get it all planned out right, I’ll be able to check in by Skype with my niece and have some laughs. We did this last year and it was fun to have virtual back home Thanksgiving. I got the chance to check out their food and it was a good time. My niece is twenty-one, but you would think that we grew up together because we laugh at the same stuff and have a good time on Skype. So I’m looking forward to that with my sisters in the background :-)

It’s getting very thankful around here and I’m looking forward to it all! I want to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to everybody out there who celebrates the holiday and a great Thursday tomorrow to one and all!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Child's Play and Ringing Food

So I mentioned in my last post that I would share two other things that I bought on Saturday when we were having our Saturday shopping trip. As I mentioned then, I felt like a kid again when I was playing with the games and things on display in some of the stores. Well, I had to bring a little piece of that gaming fun home with me and it's very old school and I love it! Here is thing #1 :



They are jacks and I haven't played jacks since I was a kid and I haven't seen any in a store in forever! So I had to have them. As you can see from the photo, they are suitable for eight years old and up, so I think I qualify ;-) I have been a jacks playing fool every since I got home Saturday. LOL. I tried to play with them on our table, but after I got a splinter twice I moved to the kitchen counter. I think that I'm going soft though. I told Brit Boy that when I was a kid we used to play anywhere so if you got a splinter or scraped your knuckles while trying to pick the jacks up, it was like...'Oh Well' and you kept on playing. Gotta get that edge back ;-) So these jacks will be mini therapy for me and it's still fun to play! These are good for the kid at heart that I still am sometimes.




The second thing is above and it's something that Brit Boy and I will share. We needed a kitchen timer and hey, who doesn't need a ringing hamburger. This will definitely come in handy as I plan out my Thanksgiving cooking schedule and also, a regular timer just wouldn't do. Lol. I wasn't looking for it, but when I saw it I told Brit Boy that we'd met our timer and he agreed. Gotta love a man who doesn't mind a ringing burger ;-)

So as I said in my previous post, it was just fun to have a day out together on Saturday and along the way we picked up a few little things. Simple pleasures are the best...and I'm glad that I could share mine here! Have a great Monday!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Saturday Treats

Brit Boy and I had a good time yesterday. It was like our Saturdays of old when we went into town more often. We've been affected by the recession and its aftermath just like everyone else, so those trips into town have been strictly for the bare essentials. We're not big shoppers anyway, but it was fun to do something different :-) So yesterday we went into town to do some Christmas shopping and managed to get all of our gifts. We figured that it would be good to spread our shopping out so we bought a few things last week and then this week we finished. We didn't have to get too many gifts. It will be a frugal Christmas, but that's not a bad thing at all. It's the thought that counts, isn't it? :-)

The fun of yesterday though was just the chance to hang out together. We had the most fun when we went into this store that had lots of little gifty things and I turned ten years old. LOL. I had the best time playing with the little games and things they had on display.

We came home with a couple of trinkets for ourselves and mine were fun stuff that made me remember being a kid. I'll share the other two things tomorrow, but for today, I want to share this...traditional slab toffee. I love that it came with its very own little hammer to break it up. It reminds me of the little rock hammer that the main character used to escape out of prison in the movie Shawshank Redemption. I love it.



This is so wrong but so right, but everything in moderation is cool. LOL. I was salivating when I saw it and I will force myself to eat it over a while and not in two days. So far I've done pretty good and only had a little bit. It's really rich so that's the only way for me to survive and not pass out in a sugar coma ;-) It's called toffee over here, but for my readers from back home in the USA it is very reminiscent of caramel candy to me actually if you're wondering what it tastes like. It reminds me of a Sugar Daddy and I don't mean that other kind of sugar daddy ;-) But anyway, the toffee is so good!!! And it has brazil nuts in it so I'm extra excited. They had the plain kind, but I like my crunchiness!

But I know some of you may be saying...hey don't rush Christmas on us and you're right. We've got to have Thanksgiving first and my mind is certainly on Thanksgiving today. I was sitting here thinking about my menu. I was on Skype with my niece the other day and we were discussing Thanksgiving and I started salivating. I salivate a lot I guess. LOL. The food is fun to think about and eat, but my favorite part is the love and gratefulness behind the day. I'm planning on getting on Skype again with my niece and whoever is around that day. It will be fun to have virtual Thanksgiving. Brit Boy won't be off on that day, but we will still celebrate as we always have together. He has the day off on the next day, so we'll just roll all that fun into an extra day :-) Yay us!

Therefore, I'm in menu planning mode. I'll have my recipes in one hand and a tiny piece of toffee in the other ;-) Just kidding. For real though, I'm planning out my menu and you know me...I love to photograph food, so I'll show the good, the bad, and the ugly. So watch this space.

Tomorrow I'm gonna share my other two little things that I picked up yesterday. Simple pleasures....Have a great Sunday and I'll be back tomorrow with my other two favorite things!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Special Day

Now that I've completed my latest assignments for school and I'm FREE for a couple of days, I'm so glad to come back here to my blog. As I mentioned in my last post, I had planned on sharing some photos that I've taken recently, but I've decided to leave them for another day.

Today I'd just like to highlight this special day of 11-11-11. Today means so much to so many and I wanted to use my little corner of the internet to share what I am thinking about today in particular.

First, I'd like to add my voice to honoring those who have served our various countries. I remember them all and their sacrifices on this Veterans Day and Remembrance Day. I grew up knowing it as Veterans Day growing up in the United States and over here in the United Kingdom it is called Remembrance Day. But to me it doesn't matter what you call it...the respect comes from the same place.

And also, this day this year has an interesting significance. It is of course 11-11-11 and even though I've read some things here and there where people think it's just another day, I don't think that myself. I'm totally respectful to how other people feel...that's cool by me. But I just think that this day is cool. I mean, I won't ever live again to see a day, month, and year where it's all ones. And it may seem much ado about nothing to some, but for me, it is one of those times when I pause and realize how amazing life is and how much we are all a part of everything. I'm grateful to be alive everyday, but today I'm vibing off of being alive on this day when all the ones line up ;-) Sometimes things are just cool to think about and that's what I'm thinking about today!

Have a great Friday! :-)

Monday, November 07, 2011

Study and Writing Week

I hope that everyone's weekend was good. Mine was good. I took a trip into town with Brit Boy on Saturday and it was fun to get out and window shop. Other than that, we hung out around home and caught up on some television and in between I finished up some reading for school.



The photo above shows my continuously growing pile of books, notebooks, folders, etc that I use for my schoolwork. I figured that I'd just post a photo that illustrates what my week will be all about ;-) I'm looking forward to a bit of freedom on Friday and being able to do a proper post here. I have some photos that I want to share when I can put the time in on Friday. So I hope that you'll stop back by to visit me! I just wanted to drop by to say hello and thank you for still coming by here even when I can't do a full post sometimes because of my studies.

In other news, we're headed into the holiday season, so I will definitely be sharing some cooking triumphs and mess-ups on here. I love photographing food...LOL. Maybe I'm just hungry ;-)

Anyway, I'm headed back to the books and I'll see you Friday. Until next time...

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Hello November

I can't believe that it's November already. I know that everyone says this, but I can't believe how quickly this year has gone by. This is my favorite time of the year though. I love Halloween and now we're heading towards Thanksgiving, so I'm a happy woman :) And then of course there's Christmas.

I'm hoping that I get the chance to Skype with my family on Thankgiving and/or Christmas this year. Last year I Skyped in for both and had some good laughs. I even joined in for a board game with the relatives on Christmas. That was hilarious because I was yelling out my answers across the miles and it just got really surreal at times. LOL. The best part was that I got my first look at my newest nephew via Skype that day. Technology is really cool sometimes :) So I hope that I can check in and see what the folks back home are doing this year too.

But I don't want to get ahead of myself. First I want to say hello to November and right at this moment it's sunny outside. Woo Hoo! I don't know how long that will last so I'm soaking it in while I can. As some of you may know, November is also the month for NaNoWriMo. Check them out here. Now, I've attempted this in the past, but it all kind of fell apart for me after like day six. But I don't give up easily, so I guess that I'll try again this year, although with my school work, it will definitely be a battle for time. But I'm up for it and I like the flurry of things. And besides, I've been playing around with a novel for a while now, so I want to give it a chance and scratch this itch. For at least the first third of the month my time is promised to about 3,000 words in the name of academics. However, after that, I'm gonna give NaNoWriMo more attention and I'm looking forward to it. I figure that I need something to get my mind working in that way again. I don't expect any miracles or anything, but I think it's good to just see what develops. So we shall see how it goes :) And by the way, if anyone is concerned that I'm gonna overextend myself, don't worry...I know when to throw in the towel and give it a rest, but I also know me and I thrive off this kind of stuff :)

I'm really pleased to report that Brit Boy is giving NaNoWriMo a go this year for the first time, so please go by his blog and wish him good luck if you have a moment! I'm very proud of him getting into the writing hot tub ;-)

So it will probably be a wordy month around the Yellow House, along with daydreams of Thanksgiving dinner thrown in here and there.

I'm sending out wishes to everyone for a healthy, happy November and if you're doing NaNoWriMo...I wish you the best of luck! Happy November!!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunrise in Wiltshire

Hello all! I hope that everyone had a good weekend. Mine was good. Brit Boy and I mostly stayed around home, but we did venture out to do a bit of grocery shopping. We also caught up on some tv recordings that we had stored up during the week. I didn't have a baking weekend like last weekend, but I'll be back at it soon enough :) My cold has gotten a lot better, and I'm hoping that I'll see the back of it by the end of the week. Yay!

No photos today of my quirky bread attempts, but I did take some quick photos of the beautiful colors in the sky this morning. It was extraordinary. There is just something magical about sunrises and sunsets! These photos were taken from inside, through the windows since I wasn't dressed to go outside when I took them. But I hope that they convey what I saw when I looked outside. Enjoy...and have a good day!





Monday, October 17, 2011

Messed Up Bread

I had a pretty good weekend. I’ve been wrestling with a cold, but today I feel somewhat better. And I’m relieved. I hope that things continue to improve...
Anyway, I decided to forget about my cold and make some chaos in the kitchen this weekend. And that’s what I’d call it, especially when I saw the finished product. LOL. Brace yourselves for this....here it is!



I know you may be wondering...what the heck is that!!?? Well it is supposed to be bread. It’s called 21st Century bread and it’s supposed to be sort of unformed and rustic looking. But it turned out looking really tore up! LOL. However, I tasted a chunk today and it doesn’t taste that bad after sitting overnight. I’m gonna have to tweak my technique though, so that next time my bread is more edible like the one on the cooking show ;-) I saw the recipe on a television show here, but when I went to the website to get the recipe, they didn’t have it listed. So I googled it and found it listed on a blog. I’m going to have to check the measurements again because something went wrong.

It’s bread that has cheese and chives in it. In the original recipe, the cook had ham in it too, but I didn’t have any ham. I think that if I get the recipe to work out right, it will be very tasty. It looked delicious when it was presented on the show.

The reason that I’m posting my not so successful attempt is to be truthful and to out my own cooking... the mess ups make me laugh! As I’ve mentioned here before, I want to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of my cooking on this blog. So here it is...ain’t it pretty?!! LOL. Better luck next time.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Foods That I Eat Here #2

I’m finally here to blog. It’s been a busy week and I didn’t get back here as quickly as I wanted, but the good thing is that I’m here now :) And I’m glad.

So last time I said that I was going to pick up my prematurely abandoned series called Foods That I Eat Here’. It was a series that previously only amounted to one post. LOL. But now with some change in perspective I’m ready to revisit it. When I say that I’ve had a change in perspective it is because of a realization that I’ve had lately. See, I’ve been here five and a half years now and I’ve been visiting over here for about eight years. And I forget sometimes just how familiar things have become to me. However, if people don’t live here or have never visited, some things no matter how regular they are to me may seem mysterious to others. So I’ve started to look at things with fresh eyes so that I can share them here with you, my readers. One of my original intentions for writing this blog was to share my experiences of cultural differences with everyone out there in blog land.

Over the years I’ve experienced new customs, foods, places, and a whole lot of other things here in England. A while back I felt as if I had run out of things to talk about on this blog, but then I realized that just sharing what I’ve learned in this new place could be of value in a small way. Truthfully, it is a great experience, but some days I realize just how similar life is in different places when you get down to the simple everyday stuff. But hey this is just my take...maybe I’m missing some action somewhere ;-) So I am going to revive my series on ‘Foods That I Eat Here’ and try to share from time to time what a regular chica like myself munches on. And I’m also going to share more about other things that I do here or see here so that you all can see the fantastic stuff and the regular stuff side by side...and enjoy a peek at a life in another country. Thinking of my blog this way has invigorated my interest again. So I hope that you’ll keep visiting as I become a better tour guide :)

Now that I’ve rebooted a bit, here’s my long time coming second entry in my series of ‘Foods That I Eat Here’. So, I decided to start off with a snack that I like...nothing gourmet or anything that I made. And hey, who doesn't like a snack????



In the photo above, these are Walkers crisps, or as I say, potato chips. Hee hee. And no, I’m not getting any money to talk about these. I wish :) This is a totally organic situation of me telling you about something that I like. Now, I don’t eat these everyday because if I did I would never stop! But when I do eat them I enjoy them a lot. To me they taste very much like potato chips back home and the packaging is similar.

A few days ago, Brit Boy and I were at the grocery store and we saw this big multipack (in the above photo) and we got a really good deal because they were on sale. What I like about this big multipack is that you get a variety of flavours in it. And there’s a chance to try some of the flavors that I haven’t tried before.

Here are all of the flavors ( I forgot to get the roast chicken in the shot, but you get the idea):




I do have my favorites out of this bunch. I like the smoky bacon and the cheese and onion. I also like the sour cream and chives flavor, but there were none in this particular pack. Brit Boy likes the ones that I like and he is also a big fan of the salt and vinegar flavor. We ate the other flavors for the experience and they weren’t bad, although I couldn’t bring myself to eat the prawn cocktail crisps. I will say, the Worcester sauce flavor was the most unique tasting of them all and I grew to like them well enough...at least to finish the multipack ;-) And here’s a quirk that I have...and I have my share of them. I do like to have the smoky bacon flavor if we are watching the soap opera EastEnders on occasion. My logic is weird, but they often have scenes in that show when they are eating bacon or having their 'fry-ups' and I get the taste for bacon immediately. LOL.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed my second entry in my series and now you know something about some of the potato chips or crisps here in England. And I promise this series is here to stay because I love writing about food.....Until next time!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Othello and Different Foods

Hi there :) I just wanted to drop in with a very short post and to let you know that I'm still here. I will be doing a proper post in a couple of days. This week I started my new year of courses, so I'm knee deep in Othello right now. I will definitely be needing the release of blogging by the weekend, so I'm looking forward to posting. I'm going to be doing a food post next time, as I love to write about eating ;-) This will not be about something I've cooked, but about something I eat here. It will pick up on my series that never really got going a long while back now. It was called 'Foods that I Eat Here'. Check out my one and only post here . Never really got off the ground...LOL. So I thought that I'd resurrect it since I like the idea of sharing food differences.

So watch this space...I'll be back with a food to share next time :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sunny Days

Hello all...so, I was just in the kitchen a few minutes ago, washing some dishes and I was overjoyed with I saw outside....a blue sky!!! :)



We haven't had the greatest weather this past summer, so this little September surprise of warm weather that we're having here in southwest England is truly wonderful! We're supposed to have some splendid weather for the rest of this week so I'm extremely happy about that.

I think that I'll head out to enjoy the nice weather for a few minutes before I get back to studying. Days like this are meant to be relished!

Until next time...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Friend

I heard some sad news yesterday and it's been on my mind a lot over the last 24 hours. I heard that a former co-worker and friend of mine had passed away. His name was Jerry. He was a really great guy and when I heard the news, I was truly startled because he was one of those people that was truly ALIVE!

He passed away while he was on a vacation with his brother. Jerry loved to travel and often did so with his brother :) He loved going out to the western US states with his brother to hang out and do 'guy stuff'. And when I worked with him, he would always come back from his vacation with a smile on his face and he always had an adventurous story to tell. He was a man of a certain age, an adventurer by nature and loved the heck out of life. I used to call him 'The Senator' because I told him he looked like a statesman of some sort. He laughed when I called him that and would sometimes come into the office doing a politician-like wave. When he would come into the office after his vacations, he would bring back photos sometimes to let me see what beautiful or interesting place he had been. A few years ago, right after I moved here to England, he sent me a photo CD with pics from his latest trip with his brother. I was so touched because we were still in touch and he was thoughtful enough to continue his tradition of sharing his photos with me even though I was thousands of miles away. That's the kind of genuine person that he was :)

We have kept in touch by email from time to time and he had recently signed onto Facebook, so we had connected there. I was so thrilled that he was on there so that I could see what he was up to day to day. I saw recently that he was headed off on his vacation...

I was truly shocked when I heard about him passing away and even though I've been here in England for five and a half years now and I hadn't seen him physically in all that time, I miss him as if I just left our office yesterday. He was one of the good guys in this world. I will always miss my friend and I'm glad that I have the memories of those days that seem so long ago now.

Life is so precious and we can be gone in the blink of an eye. We are all so blessed to know those that we love and care about in our lives. I'm proud to have known Jerry and to have called him my friend.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Grits and Memory

In my last post, I said that I would be doing a food post. Well this is a post about a craving and not about something I've cooked. Oh I wish that I could right now. I don't have any on hand, but I know that I will have them again ;-)

For the last few days, I've been thinking quite a bit about one of my favorite foods and it's something that I can't readily get here...grits! :) I never in my life thought that I would miss any food so much. And here's the thing, I'm not a person who just has to have certain foods on a regular basis. I'm not usually a craver, but I am truly craving grits these days. And just to clarify it all...I'm not pregnant so it's not those kind of cravings. LOL.

I get the worse cravings on weekend mornings because that is when I would have them mostly. I guess that they are a fully entrenched food memory. Grits make me think of home and my mother cooking them for our breakfast for decades. I know that there are people who hate grits and can't understand the fuss and that's cool...I respect that everyone's likes are theirs and this like is truly mine :) I was thinking about it the other day and yeah, my craving can be reduced down to simply having a taste for grits. But also I think that they were such a part of my experience as a southern girl and that connection with my culture is so strong that an ocean can't even keep me from it.

I am happy most days with my different life here in England. But sometimes I miss the simple things about back home so much. The list changes depending upon my mood that day. And it's not one of those grass is always greener situations. I'll tell you, I've learned one thing about having lived in two different countries now...there are bad, good, annoying, and uplifting things about both places. Neither one is better than the other...they each have things going for them for sure. I'm not trying to sell grits to anybody or even attempting to validate my love for grits. I don't need to :) I just thought that I would make my perspective clear. Love is love and I've got it bad and grits are it baby! LOL.

Food memories are great. I guess that's the good thing about food memories or regular memories...you always have them to call upon whenever you want to remember a person, time, or a place. I know that we can't go back in time and it's not good to always be looking back, but sometimes it doesn't hurt a thing...especially when you're trying to remember the taste of grits! :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Two Trips To the Water

I'm happy to report that our shower was finally fixed this past Friday and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't break down again. We can only hope ;-) Anyhoo, here are the photos that I promised. They are from our trip to Bournemouth and a local lake a few weeks ago. Both places were relaxing and it was great to get out into nature. I was in a black and white photography mood on some of these. I didn't take a lot of photos because I forgot about it most of the time and just had fun ;-) I'll write a few words about each photo, so I hope you enjoy them!

Above: This is a picture of an interesting historical display on the pier in Bournemouth. I thought it was intriguing to read some background on the region.

Above: This is the view from the pier on the other side. I liked looking off into the distance. You can see a bit of the shoreline in this shot, but I just loved being near the water.

Above: This is the view over the side of the pier along a perch of some sort. This is a really random shot, but I thought I'd throw it in ;-)

Above: This is a shot of the village of Avebury, when we were on our way back home. Avebury's main claim to fame is its stones, which are similar to the ones at Stonehenge. The building in this shot is a pub.


Above: This is a view over the side of the bridge along a stream at the lake. It was really quiet out there that day.

Above: Here's a a view of the lake with a few ducks swimming by.

Above: And lastly, here's a view of the bridge on our return from our walk.

As I said before, both places were great. The lake was just peaceful and very quiet since it was in the middle of the week. It was really good to get back out in nature like that. And the trip to Bournemouth was extra special because getting to the beach is always a treat and we don't get to go often. It had been about three years since we had driven down there last. We had a really good lunch and then went walking along the shore as I ate my cotton candy. I tell you, every time I eat cotton candy, it instantly takes me back in time to being at the county fair back home. That's one of my big memory triggers...cotton candy! :-)

Well that's all for today. Next time I'll be doing a food post. I've been making up or improvising recipes a lot lately. So I'd love to share what I've been cooking. Until next time...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering


Remembering those who lost their lives on 9-11-01, in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania...

Friday, September 02, 2011

Photos and More Photos

So here I go with my photo post that I promised in a previous post. I had mentioned that it’s been a long time since I did a kind of photo snapshot post with a few words about each. I figure that this will be a good way to get me back on my blogging game a bit more since I’ve been away for chunks of time lately due to school and life in general :-)

When I looked back over the photos that I’ve taken these past few weeks, it was like experiencing those moments all over again. Most of the photos here are of nice things, but there’s one that I’m adding that isn’t. I feel the need to include it because life is a balance and everything isn’t all fabulous all the time, you know. Plus, a mini photo vent is good ;-) Nothing else sums up the frustration of my week more than this photo.

Here is my annoying photo:



This is our stupid electric shower...GRRRR! It has broken down again for the umpteenth time and we have truly lost count now. We have been struggling back and forth with our landlord and his middleman to get our shower fixed. For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you know that Brit Boy and I have had this problem before. Here’s the thing, it’s already bad enough that it’s malfunctioning again, but the real reason that we’re ticked off is that the landlord doesn’t want to pay to fix it. It’s not our fault...it’s simply a cheap shower. To call him cheap would be a gross understatement. It has been total Crazyville around here. So I’ve spent the week calling back and forth to the management office. Finally things got going today, so hopefully this photo and the situation will fade into the past and stay there ;-)

Anyway, that’s my annoying photo just to shake things up a bit. The rest are calm and nice...a gentle respite from the chaos :-) So on with the calming section of our show!

Below are my beautiful flowers that Brit Boy brought home to me one day. Aren’t they pretty? It was on the Friday right before he had his vacation time a couple of weeks ago. He surprised me and these put a big smile on my face.



This next photo is truly the last of the pink roses out back. I posted some color pictures of this bush before here, and I thought that that was the last of them but alas, these are. I took this picture after a rain shower and I thought that the black and white represented how it looked outside very well. I LOVE black and white photos!




These next pictures were taken when we were further out in the countryside. Whenever we are further out like that, the rural beauty of it all reminds me of back home. The beauty of the family land where I grew up is echoed in my heart when I see the natural beauty here. I am definitely a nature girl. Maybe it’s God’s way of connecting me with home when those thoughts come into my head. Natural beauty...there’s nothing like it...

All of these were taken from the passenger seat as Wiltshire passed by our window, so some are blurry but you can get the idea of how it looked that day I think.




Above: Wiltshire scenes


Above: This one is kinda trippy...Everything blurred as we swept along...


Above: I like that the traffic signal is set off by the flowers...


Above: The clouds marching along the field...


Above: A shady and bright spot...


Above: A blurry shot of sunlight raining down on Stonehenge...

Well, this post is very long, so I will post some more photos in my next post. These will be of our trip to the beach one day and I'll throw in a few lake shots too. And don't worry, these upcoming ones were taken while I was standing on my feet so no blurry trippy stuff ;-) Until next time...