Saturday, January 30, 2010

In Celebration and Honor

I wanted to offer my BIG congratulations to Serena Williams today. She just won her FIFTH Australian Open title and now ties with Billie Jean King in having TWELVE grand slam titles! Wow! That is truly amazing. Her true athletic strength and determination is so inspiring to me.

Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

And also, she and her sister Venus won the Australian Open women's doubles title for the fourth time on Friday. That is amazing too! So congrats to both of them. They are truly great athletes.

Photo Credit: AP

Brit Boy and I got the chance to watch Venus Williams play at Wimbledon on Centre Court in 2008 and I'll never forget it. You can check out our experience here. What a great athlete and winner she is :)

I often shake my head at the heat the Williams sisters take for....gasp...winning ;-) Some people say it gets predictable and they get tired of seeing both of them win. Well I say, how ridiculous is that?!!!! And some of the criticisms of the sisters that I read sometimes are just vile, mean-spirited and narrow-minded and absolutely stink of sour grapes from people who have never come close to such achievements. We should all celebrate these two women and the determination, sacrifice, and inner strength it takes for them to achieve what they have so far. And I applaud their parents, for not just raising one champion, but raising two. Now that's something to be proud of.

These ladies inspire me and this is why I'm smiling today!

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Writerly Ways

In my last post, I revealed a few things about myself and it was fun :-) So today I thought that I would reveal some more about what I get up to when I’m not here at my blog. Well, I’m usually writing something or the other, whether for school, my fiction aspirations, or for the website /e-zine that I contribute to currently.

I’m nearing the end of my projects for school, so I’m glad about that :-) Ecstatic is more like it….LOL. It has been very interesting and enjoyable though. I’ve been learning a lot, but I know that as always, there is more to learn. Life is about learning as you go, so I really enjoy that journey.

My fiction aspirations and writing have taken many forms. I have dabbled in poetry in the past, but I REALLY know that’s not my strength. LOL. I have written my share of short stories over the years and a few years ago, I had a couple of them to receive honorable mentions in the Writers Digest Competition. Those were my high points with that genre though :-) Lately I’ve been thinking that I should get back into writing short stories again to get my creative juices flowing. I think I’ll do that. It might be fun! ;-)

As for my current writing, I’ve been contributing to Tango Echo, which is an arts and culture e-zine. I’m really enjoying writing for them. Here are the links to my articles and a bit about what I’ve written for them so far.

The first one was about my love of architecture and I wrote about the various churches that I’ve visited around England. I really enjoyed this assignment because it also involved my love of photography. I’m always given the opportunity to include my own photos and coincidentally, the photo at the very beginning of the article is the one that I had included in the Schmap travel guide. This by the way is how Schmap found my photo. It’s a small world :-) Anyway, here’s the link to my article, Cathedrals of England.

The next article is about my love of antiquing at flea markets. I’ve written here at my blog before about my love of going to Devizes. Well this article is about one of my trips down there. Here’s the link to Antiquing: A History Lesson .

I hope you enjoy taking a peek at what I get up to when I’m not blogging here or busying myself around the Yellow House or dancing around with Brit Boy ;-)
Have a great day and I’ll talk to you later!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

Hello all :-) Sorry that I’ve been away from my blog for several days, but I’ve been working on school work again and spare time has been fleeting. But I’m glad to be back here again. I missed you all. I want to do a bit of catching up here in this post.

Back on the 9th of this month, Lindsay at Confessions of a Bookworm, gave me a wonderful award and I’m truly grateful :-) Thanks Lindsay! Please stop by and visit her. She’s a book lover like I am and I love her blog. She gave me the Beautiful Blogger Award. Isn't it pretty?

As part of the rules, I’m supposed to tell seven interesting things about myself. Well, I’ m here scratching my head….lol. Uh, well I don’t know how interesting my list will be, but here goes. I love a challenge.

#1: I can play the flute, although I haven’t played in well over ten years, but I’m hoping to pick it up again in the near future.

#2: I love books and I often daydream about having built-in bookshelves in our house when we build it and I daydream about how they will look. I browse magazines a lot looking for just the right style. I'm excited to be able to give my books their own home, especially a couple of books that I’ve had since I was a little girl.

#3: I love watching scary movies and mysteries. I don’t like blood and gore movies, but I love a good scary movie on a Friday or Saturday night.

#4: I have a stamp collection that I haven’t organized. It’s still in a pouch and longs for a scrapbook home of its own.

#5: I am toying with the idea of coloring my hair. My hair in naturally jet black and I have played around with streaking it lighter in the past. But I don’t think I’ll do that again. I’m thinking of giving it a warm brown hue to waken up my winter look. It’s something to do…LOL. Of course, I may wait until spring or not do it all…decisions…decisions.

#6: I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m running out of things to list here…LOL. So I’ll say it again. I’ve been an extra in both a movie and a commercial when I was in my early twenties. It was easy money and it was fun.

#7: I love cheese wayyyy too much ;-)

Now, I’d like to pass this along to anyone who wants to take it. I love the community of readers and commenters here, and that’s beautiful to me! So to all of you beautiful bloggers, please take this award with you. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Our Evening With A Cat

Today I’m in a much better state of mind since my last post. Calling out my frustration in my previous post was therapeutic. I had a good weekend and put all of that holiday drama behind me ;-) Thanks everyone for your comments and support. It meant so much to me :-)

Anyway…on with the show as they say….and it’s apt here because this post is about our trip to the theatre on December 23rd. It was truly wonderful! :-)

I love going to see plays and musicals and Brit Boy likes going along with me too. We both love an outing somewhere :-) I found out quite a few months ago about the Debbie Allen directed production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof coming to the West End after a highly successful run on Broadway. I did a happy dance when I found out. You should’ve seen me…lol. I told Brit Boy about it and we got tickets and then held onto them for a few months. Finally December 23rd arrived and off to London we went!

We took the train into Paddington Station and then took the tube to Covent Garden. We had left ourselves a bit of a cushion with the time, so there was an opportunity to get a bite to eat. We were starved. We dropped into a small shop and got drinks and sandwiches. Then we stood along The Strand right outside the tiny store and ate as we people watched. Everyone was bustling around on the eve of Christmas Eve with an air of expectation.

After we ate, we walked to the Novello Theatre. The theatre is beautiful and the perfect size…not too big, not too small. We got really lucky and had seats at the center of the seventh row. Just close enough, but not too close :-) We saw a matinee performance and it was truly thrilling.

As I mentioned earlier, this was a production directed by Debbie Allen. Many of you will probably remember her as the dance teacher Lydia Grant in the television show Fame. I used to really want to go to that high school when I was a teenager :-)

Anyway, Debbie Allen is an Emmy and Golden Globe Award winning director and her expertise definitely shows onstage. Her skill is ever so evident in this sumptuous production. She has taken this true American classic by Tennessee Williams that was made legend in the movie version starring Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor, and shown how universal the themes of family are as she presents this new cast. It was a beautifully true revelation.

Photo Credit: Jeff Fasano ; left to right, Rashad, Lester, Lathan, Jones

This production stars the truly legendary James Earl Jones as Big Daddy and the elegant Phylicia Rashad as Big Mama. It was indeed such a treat to see two Tony Award winners on stage together in Mr. Jones and Ms. Rashad.

James Earl Jones’ voice is amazing to hear in person and his rich baritone is just thrilling to the ear as he beautifully enunciates every word. I wanted to pinch myself. I couldn’t believe that I was seeing this truly great actor right before my eyes. Mr. Jones totally inhabits the role of Big Daddy. He is exquisite. We seem to throw around that word legend a lot these days, but on December 23rd, I saw one before my eyes :-)

Phylicia Rashad is wonderful as Big Mama too. She is Debbie Allen’s sister and is affectionately remembered for her role as Clair Huxtable in the classic sitcom The Cosby Show. I was so excited to see her too. She was the epitome of elegance and class as Clair Huxtable and the way she carried herself made such an impression upon me when I was in my formative years. I loved watching her on my TV screen each week back then. The Cosby Show was a truly landmark show.

Her depiction of Big Mama in the play reminded me so much of the elder women in my family. Her portrayal reminded me a lot of my mother and aunts. They were women who dressed up as we got together for traditional Sunday dinners back in Georgia and then they would sit on the front porch and fan themselves and talk :-) They’ve all passed on now, but their imprint is still in my mind and will never leave. Those are some of my best memories of growing up. So I thank Ms. Rashad for giving me a great gift. She is a wonderful actress.

One of the other leads is portrayed by Adrian Lester, who plays Brick, the son. Lester does a fine job in this role. I applaud his agility because he spends the whole play hobbling around with a cast on his leg. He is a fine actor.

The final lead is played by Sanaa Lathan. She plays Maggie, ‘The Cat’, Brick's wife, and gives a beautifully sultry performance in this role made famous by Elizabeth Taylor in the movie version. She earned my respect early on because most of the entire first act is her talking to Brick and he says very little. And I’m thinking to myself, how in the world does she remember all of that dialogue and it is said at such a quick pace???? She’s fabulous in this role and truly luminous.

So I guess that I don’t need to tell you all that I was on cloud nine the whole time. LOL. It was a fabulous way to spend an afternoon into evening with my Brit Boy. We both walked out of there with a smile on our faces as we walked out into the night.

After the show, we walked over a couple of blocks in search of food. The angels were on our side because we found a wonderful restaurant called Sophie’s. The food was delicious and the service was quick. The ambience was perfect. It was lit by candle light and the electric lights were soft and not overly harsh and yet you could still see where you were walking.

Brit Boy had soup for his appetizer and I had a house salad. Then for dinner we both had steak and fries. Very yummy!!! :-) It hit the spot. We don’t eat red meat a whole lot, so it was a great treat. I told Brit Boy that that was Christmas to me…just chilling and enjoying each other’s company. Brit Boy’s a fun date ;-)

So after our dinner, we wrapped back up and headed for the tube. We got to Paddington Station and waited for our train. Then we were carried off across the snowy landscape…back to Wiltshire… :-) I hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride!

Friday, January 08, 2010

A Different Kind of Post For Me

Today I was planning on going back a bit and writing about our trip to the theatre on December 23rd, and sharing those good memories with you, but my mind is not there today. Sorry. I hope you’ll forgive my need to let it all hang out a bit today, but I just really need this release right now. I need a place to vent and I have nowhere else to go with this. I thought this morning, as I lay awake staring at the ceiling, that maybe getting out a bit of my sadness here would help me let it go. Here at my blog I always keep it light and breezy, because I don’t want to bum anybody out, and I’m naturally one of those glass half full people. But I thought to myself, this is my space to say what comes to my mind and write about my life experiences…the good and bad, so why not just let it rip a bit. So here goes…

I’m having my yearly readjustment after Christmas, as I figure that many of you have been having too. Mine always is in response to dealing with my various in-laws over Christmas. I always come away from it feeling a bit unwelcomed and depressed. It has been really hard and I’m just afraid sometimes that it is changing me in ways that I don’t want it to. When I think of Christmas, I don’t want the first word that comes to my mind to be ‘dread’. I figure that many of you out there know all too well about family drama at Christmas. It’s kind of a given in some cases I guess. We spent Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and the Sunday….three days in a row in various company and I’ll tell you, it was a relief when Sunday evening came. I’ve tried everything that I know how for a few years now, including just relaxing and letting things happen naturally, but it just never works out. I can’t get in. I guess that it is what it is and I try to just see it that way. Still, it hurts. It makes it harder since I’m so far from everyone and everything that I know and it can mess with your head. I’m an optimist though, so I just stuff it away each year and try to get on with my life. Anyway, who knows???

I’ll just leave it there because I don’t want it to seem like I’m trashing anyone. That’s not my style. I told Brit Boy that I was going to post about this and he understood. It’s just that this year for some reason, it has been extra hard to let go. Maybe it’s some kind of cumulative effect???? Anyway, I’m starting to feel a tiny bit better as I’m typing this. Maybe breaking the wall of silence is helping me to feel as if I’m getting a bit of my power back. Just confessing, even this little bit is a relief and I'm feeling more like the person I was before I came here.

Thanks for reading this far. I really appreciate it like you wouldn’t believe :-) This is one of the things that I love about blogging. You can bare a tiny bit of your soul and even though you are letting it out before the world, it feels okay because it is truthful and I guess in the end that helps the healing of whatever is troubling your heart.

This post is freeing to me, even though it may not seem earth shattering as you read this. To me, who has remained tight-lipped for so long, it’s like taking a breath after a long time. I realize it's okay to just say, hey I'm hurting right now. It’s like speaking it out is what I needed to do at this very point in time. Maybe a door is opening for the better. Maybe now some air can get in. Maybe now I'll feel more able to just say it…whatever it is, even when it's hard.

So I’m taking a breath and just letting go… :-)

Next time, it’s all about the theatre…

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Mini Cam Moments #5 and Snow!!!!!

Hello all :-) Things are getting more back to normal around the Yellow House after the holidays. We finally got our new washing machine after nearly a month of waiting on the landlord to get his backside in gear ;-) So now I’m making my way through mounds of laundry. I may dig out by spring. LOL. Seriously though, I’m making some progress. Also I’m getting back into the swing with my school work after this break. I’m on the tail end of things now so I’m excited about that.

In more picturesque news, we had snow here in many parts of England overnight and Wiltshire, where we live, got its share. It’s still snowing now. I wanted to share a few photos with you. These were taken a couple of hours ago, so the snow is deeper now, but you can still see what it’s like here today :-)

These are photos that I took when we took our walk earlier. I told Brit Boy that some places look as if someone took a snow machine from the movies and just blasted things. It’s fluffy snow this time that snuggles up to everything :-) I hope you enjoy this peek into our world today.

And here’s an entry into my series of Mini Cam Moments. It’s been a long while ;-) This is me and Brit Boy walking along. Check out our feet. LOL. I love the sound of crunching snow. You can hear kids playing in the background. They were sliding down the hill nearby and enjoying the snow. I thought about joining in :-)

Have a great day wherever you are!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Yellow House Merchandise

Hello all :-) I wanted to share this post with you from Brit Boy about our latest project at the Yellow House. We've been busy around here lately with our crafts and creations and our plan is to offer similar calendars like the ones below for 2011. So please watch this space later in the year. Have a great rest of the weekend!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, when we were visiting family and friends over in the States at Thanksgiving we handed out some homemade gifts and cards. You have already seen some pictures of the cards we made, and I thought now would be an appropriate time to share some photos of the gifts too. I say appropriate because the gifts were all calendars, and I am sure that you have all been hanging up new calendars this last week – or wondering when and where you will be getting one for this New Year!

These calendars weren’t entirely homemade as such, but all the photos were our own, as were some of the backgrounds, and we laid out each page of the calendars to our own design too. We then got them printed up by a company in Belgium. We made calendars to two different designs – one as a wall calendar and the other as a desk calendar.

Here are the pictures of the pages of the wall calendar.

And here are the pages of the smaller desk calendar.

The lighting wasn’t the best when we took the photos of the pages and some are a little blurry – but you will get the idea!

We very much enjoyed putting the calendars together and we are hoping to take some more photographs during this coming year that we can use for more calendars for 2011. All being well, those will then be available to buy from our blogs sometime in the autumn. Unfortunately we cannot sell the ones for this year because we don’t have the image rights for some of the places that we have photographed.

Now, I have to go and plan some photographic expeditions with Dori