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 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 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. 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.