We’ve just returned from a lovely vacation in the UK. I had been to Scotland before a long time ago but not for more than a day or so (on a tour). It was great to return and see a few familiar places and a few new ones too. I love Scotland. I even ate some haggis and drank some Scotch. That’s how much I love Scotland.
As usual we stopped in London to see friends and family. It was Halloween and I saw some great carved pumpkins which I unfortunately didn’t get photos of. Halloween was followed quickly by Guy Fawkes (Bonfire Night) – I caught a few different small fireworks displays from our hotel window (see photo #1 for our super view). The city of London didn’t do any fireworks, having been all fireworked out by the jubilee and the Olympics. And I still didn’t get to see anyone collect for or burn “the man” on a bonfire… ah well, maybe next year.
Since there is no Thanksgiving celebration in England (natch), the Christmas decorations were out in full force. I kept shielding my eyes and saying “too soon, too soon!” but to no avail. The good news is that I was able to find the mincemeat with beef suet that my friend wanted me to pick up, and I’m guessing that only comes out at Christmas time.
On to the photos!
Trying to break the cereal for breakfast rut. Wheat toast with butter (yes) and jam, cut up apple, 4 pieces of turkey bacon (not 10 as it looks like in the photo), and a cup of tea. I served it on one of my pretty plates that I never seem to use, but should. I wish I could say that I ate it at the dining table or on our balcony or something, but I actually ate in front of the computer.
So, you know, not perfect but still nice.
I’m about half way through reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett for the first time. I had seen the 1990s film version, which I adored, but had never read the book. So far I have not been able to put it down. I love the constant reminders Burnett gives that fresh air, simple food, and time spent running around in nature can cure illness and depression. I have never wanted to live on the wild and windy moors before, but suddenly it’s all I can think about!
Unfortunately, where I am, it’s 95 degrees outside (down from the 100s!) and, well, the middle of August. So I picked a really bad time to read this book as I can’t exactly spend the whole day outside with a jump rope and an old key in my pocket. I also can’t suddenly transform my rickety balcony into an English cottage garden as Spring has long since passed.
This got me to thinking that maybe my next book should be about the end of Summer and/or the beginning of Fall. Something appropriate for the season. Maybe something like Little House in the Big Woods? I haven’t read that either but I believe it starts off in the Fall.
I could be on a children’s literature roll here.
This summer has gone by pretty quickly and I haven’t been up to too much. Mostly I’ve been trying to enjoy the good things about summer in my own little way.
My Kindle + the library = summer goodness.
I’m not a huge fan of summer in this town, because it’s pretty scorchy, right? But I make the best of being stuck inside with the A/C by reading. A lot of times I will choose magazines or children’s books, but with my new Kindle (the plain vanilla kind) and ebooks from the library I’ve been delving into all kinds of genres. I will confess that my habit of having several books on the go is multiplied by the eReader – very easy to start a book, get bored and in an instant start another book. Still love it though.
Baking cookies + morning = summer goodness.
This is probably a serious eco-nightmare, but I confess that I really miss baking when the weather gets hot and sometimes, on the down low, I will whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Guittard chips.
Night swimming + BBQ = summer goodness.
Since I’m as pasty white as Vlad the Impaler, I tend to avoid direct sunlight. So we sometime commandeer my parents’ patio and pool for early evening burgers, 20 minute let the food settle breaks, and then a few laps under the twilight sky. Heaven!
Farmer’s market + fresh fruit = summer goodness.
There is a fab farmer’s market near me that I didn’t know about, until a friend of mine moved to our neighborhood. It’s shady and festive and they always have some interesting live music going. So far it’s been hit or miss with me and the fruit there, but that’s mostly due to me being easily overwhelmed by farmer’s markets and I end up just buying whatever is in front of me. Still, if you get lucky, the payoff can be huge.
Netflix instant + air conditioning = summer goodness.
I have seen a ton of movies lately. I highly recommend Cairo Time, In A Day, and Forget Me Not. They are all sort of related because they mostly focus on a guy and a girl exploring a city. Fun if you are a fan of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset (like me).
So there you have it… this is what I have been doing in my “free” time. Hope your summer has been spectacular!
Busy processing photos from a recent wedding shoot. Lovely spot near Half Moon Bay… I’m still daydreaming about moving closer to the ocean.
Not a shot from Temple, but rather my own tea party for the royal wedding last year
My husband was released from his office cage early yesterday so we decided to claim our extra time together at the new Temple Coffee location on Fair Oaks Blvd. It was such a beautiful day to sit by the window and they had propped open one of the doors, so I enjoyed the cool fresh air coming in as I sipped my tea.
Full confession – we stopped at Esther’s Cupcakes first to pick up a treat each before heading next door to Temple. Okay but moving on to the teas. My husband ordered the Ceylon (I snuck a sip, it was very good) and I had the special concoction known as Bliss. I’m not sure exactly what’s in it, but I think it’s soy milk, peppermint tea and maybe some coconut water? It’s a creamy decadent treat, perfect for a sweet afternoon with your significant other.
The folks that work at this location are super nice too. I asked about the brush they use to clean the necks of their small teapots (I’m in the market for something for my own teapot, pictured above) and the guy went back, grabbed the brush they use and brought it out to show me. They also did not give us a hard time for bringing in treats from next door, which can’t have made them too happy.
So check out Temple on F.O. Blvd. next time you are out and about.
Illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith. Image and info on the artist found here.
The way I tend to approach my life is to anchor the parts that are going well and then leave them to bob along – hopefully without incident – while I turn my attention to the parts that are in danger of floating out to sea. But while my back is turned, the good stuff isn’t just bobbing along without incident, it’s very slowly showing signs of neglect. So in fact, life is more like spinning plates (if you haven’t had enough metaphors for one paragraph)… and each part needs at least a little bit of attention and improvement. Not huge changes. Just enough.
This is what I’m getting started on today. Writing down categories in my life: Relationships, Work, Health, Personal Development, etc… and then brainstorming very small steps I can do each day to improve in those areas. I find having a written list to be the best way to handle this, otherwise I find myself sitting in front of the computer, reading blogs and trying to find something interesting to pass along on Facebook. If you become what you focus on most, then I’m a freakin Facebook posting expert. I do really well with lists, when I take the time to write them down.
So when I find myself sitting in front of the computer, instead of posting on FB, I could choose one item from the list and work on that for a short amount of time. Not only would I feel better about myself for having accomplished something from the list, I will have improved the quality of my life without a ton of effort.
I’m logging off to go work on that list now.
I’m sure everyone is in the middle of a “cleanse” right now and doesn’t want to hear about any other ways to improve their lives, but I’ve adopted a few new habits since Christmas that have been working for me so I thought I would share. Normally, I don’t go for new year’s resolutions, opting instead for a “word” or theme for the year, so these are a handful of ideas for you to mull over and either do or not do – no pressure!
1. Hang damp towels outside, even in winter. Okay this is California so I’m blessed with sunshine all year round which makes this tip pretty easy. I’m not gonna lie, we have a bit of a mildew situation if I leave the towels hanging in the bathroom, so I’ve moved them outdoors. When the sun goes down, I bring the towels in. There’s only two of them, so it’s not a big chore. Benefit: sunshine breeze smell every morning when I step out of the shower and grab my outdoor-dried towel.
2. Move empty hangers to the end of the row. A great tip I picked up from my friend over at Nature Girl and it makes perfect sense. When you remove an item of clothing from your closet, move the empty hanger to the end of the row. Benefit: when you go to hang up your laundry – the hangers are all in one place and not interspersed throughout your closet. Easy, right?
3. Eat a serving of whole fruit with breakfast every day. This is something that I sort of did already but not with any regularity. When we went on our trip to England, I had a fruit every morning. Right now it’s clementines or bananas or apples. Benefit: we all know by now that we need more whole fruits and veggies in our diet, this is an easy way to get a serving in and it sets a healthy tone for the day. Plus, I feel a bit more energized.
4. Don’t wash your face in the morning. You probably have a skin care routine you follow in the evenings that includes cleansing – I just started using Sibu cleanser and I’m very happy with it. During the night, your face secretes oil to moisturize your skin but it’s not like you have a face full of makeup that you need to wash off come morning. I find that just rinsing my face with warm water in the shower works well enough. This idea may sound controversial to you – if so, don’t do it. Benefit: I’m not using soap on my face and I have noticed my oily/combo skin is more balanced.
5. Cut back on self-help books. I did pick up a couple of them at the library recently – mostly on financial advice, but I’m having trouble getting through them. I used to read quite a lot of self-help. A LOT of self-help. I’m starting to realize that although some of the tips are beneficial… mostly when I read self-help, it felt like I had a big hill to climb. Benefit: there’s nothing that I’m SUPPOSED to be doing right now. :)
I hope these changes have inspired you and that you are not too cranky from lack of food (from the cleanse you are on) to implement one or two of them. Let me know how it goes.
So here we are in 2012! That means the 80′s were 30 years ago. So crazy. Okay back to the present… I chose a word for this year that I’ve probably chosen before but really need to concentrate on it this year and that is… wealth. I’m talking about building wealth in regards to money, but also in health and relationships. A holistic kind of wealth. January is a great time to set new business goals and think of alternate ways to earn income, so I will be focusing on that this month. And making time for exercise and cooking healthy meals!
Last year my word was stretch and I did manage to do some of the things I listed in this post. I saw Facebook friends in real life, did more home-cooking, landed a bigger client, and traveled to England.
I wanted to share a few of the awesome Christmas gifts I got this year, as they were particularly good.
This Revlon hairdryer is awesome… After we went on our vacation to England, I came home to find my old hairdryer could not compare to the dryers I’d been using in hotels and homes on our trip. So I did some research on Amazon, came up with this inexpensive dryer and put it on my Christmas list. Let’s just say, I love it.
Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish… My mum-in-law gave me this (along with the Instant Boost tonic and face mask) and I was instantly excited. I have never used a skin care system before. I’m more of a bit of this and then a bit of that, kind of girl. So having these products makes me feel like a grown-up. I have very very sensitive skin and so far (I’ve been using it since Christmas day) these products do not irritate my skin. The only sort of downside for me is I don’t have a washer/dryer in the house, so keeping the muslin cloths clean is a little tricky. So far I haven’t notice a huge improvement in my skin (like clearing out my pores) but my skin does feel softer and it looks brighter. UPDATE: I do still like the products, but I’m using Sibu cleanser instead as I was having trouble dealing with the muslin cloths.
All Creatures Great & Small: Series 1… I can’t tell you how many times we’ve watched this series, but it’s a lot. So nice to have our own copy now. Can’t recommend it highly enough if you are at all a fan of BBC period shows.
Thank You notes… Unfortunately, I don’t have them here with me so can’t provide a link. But nevertheless, I love the idea of giving someone a box of Thank You notes for Christmas, as you know the recipient will have lots of them to write come new year. Sadly, I’ve only managed to put together one thank you note for Christmas gifts… only because I pretty much said a hearty thank you to most people in person. But I received a thank you note yesterday and thought it was very classy. Also… who doesn’t like to get mail that’s not a credit card offer or a bill?
So there you go… some ideas for 2012. Hope it’s off to a great start!
Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday. This shot is of the Christmas lights in Peterborough, UK near the cathedral. Even though we miss being in England on vacation… we are having a lovely holiday here in sunny CA. Lots of good food and hanging out with family.