Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Blue Skies And Happiness

Last week ended with blue skies and sunshine. For a day or two, the temperatures were more like June than April and it was time to dig out those summer clothes. The air was warm and the sun shone: it felt good to be alive.

Sadly, the blue skies didn't last and the temperatures are back down to single digits. The weather reflects my mood at the moment ~ a little down at the prospect of resuming night duty this week. How I wish that the days could be full of blue skies and happiness...

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Do You Believe In Fairies...


Every time you say you don't believe in fairies, a fairy dies.

I found a copy of Finding Neverland at my local library yesterday and escaped there last night. It is a semi-biographical account of the life of J.M. Barrie and his friendship with the family who were the inspiration for Peter Pan. At first, I wasn't sure that I wanted to watch it because I was distracted by other things, but once I immersed myself in the story, it was magical.

Fittingly for Earth Day, I took a little fairy quiz and discovered that I am Earth Fairy! If you would like to find out what type of fairy you are, visit here. Clap your hands if you believe.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Healthy Choices For Earth Day

Earth Day is here and it seemed like a good time to talk about something that should be of concern to all those who use mass-produced deodorants/antiperspirants. Unless you have had your head in the sand, you can hardly have failed to hear about the associated risks of aluminium in these products and development of breast cancer or Alzheimer's. As women, it is something that should concern all of us.

From a personal perspective, it is more than ten years since I made the decision to find a healthy alternative to those products commonly found in the drug store. I used Tom's of Maine for a long time until they changed the formula: the 'new improved' version seemed far less effective to me and I didn't like the smell!


Recently, I discovered Terra Naturals. I tried their deodorant stick, which was reasonably effective, but I have to admit that the rose version didn't smell like any rose I ever came across! Today, I have been out to buy a replacement and came back with this spray. It is unscented according to the label, although I did detect a hint of a certain brand of baby powder! The label states that it is free of petroleum-based chemicals; synthetic preservatives and emulsifiers. It dries on contact and I didn't notice any sticky residue.

If you have never considered natural deodorant products, maybe Earth Day is a good time to investigate them further.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Thought For The Day



'On your journey through life,
make sure your biography has
at least one extraordinary chapter.'

This took my breath away. What will yours be?

Friday, 17 April 2009

Village Life


There is something about periods of stress in my life that leave me craving a time when the world seemed a less complicated place. I watch old films in black and white and dream of English village life, where everyone knew their neighbours and it was safe to leave the door unbolted.

I yearn for the simplicities of childhood when the year consisted of returning to school in September as the trees were starting to change colour and the conkers were ripening; the excited anticipation of Christmas and Easter and school holidays ~ lots of them!

Some years ago, I discovered Miss Read and her tales of Fairacre and its inhabitants. It has been a long time since I delved into these stories, partly because the books were given away long ago at a time when I had to drastically cull my possessions in preparation for an international move. I am now rediscovering them and have been reading Village School, which is the perfect escape from modern-day living.

I am immersed once again in village school life, although I was never fortunate enough to experience it in real life. I can enjoy snuggling down in bed and dipping into village life and fall asleep with happy thoughts of what it would be like to live in such a place.

Monday, 13 April 2009

In Search of Colour

The weather this Easter weekend has continued cold and at times, blustery. This morning, we had planned to take a walk along the boardwalk at the beach, but decided against it after a few minutes spent outdoors. Instead, we headed to the indoor botanical garden at Allan Gardens.

The Victorian conservatory known as the Palm House was built in 1909. It contains tropical plant specimens from around the globe, many of which are now rare.


The temperature indoors was considerably warmer than outside. The plants thrive in the warm and humid conditions and many specimens including these beautiful white hydrangeas are blooming.


This hibiscus had stunning red flowers.

The statue of Leda and the Swan, characters from Greek mythology, is an example of decorative lead statuary from England. It sits in a little pond containing goldfish and is surrounded by flowers and plants.

I don't know what this red flower is, but the colour was striking.



And lilies filled the Palm House and some of the other greenhouses.


It may not be easy to find colour and flowers at this time of year, but a visit to the conservatory was definitely worth the effort. It was a pleasure to do something a little different on this last day of the holiday weekend too.

Bake

I love to bake. The only thing that prevents me doing so more often is the thought of expanding waistlines and the desire for healthy eating.

I copied this recipe from Alison's blog last Easter and have been saving it for the right occasion.

There is something quite contemplative about the whole process of cake baking. I think that I would enjoy it even more if I had the kitchen space. In our current kitchen, I do not have sufficient workspace to lay everything out close to hand, so I end up weighing on one side and spilling flour etc all over the floor as I transfer across to my mixing bowl! Still, I am not going to let a few minor inconveniences spoil the creative process.

A Victoria sponge cake, hot out of the oven and cooling on the rack ~ shortly to become an Easter Cake!


Thank you to Alison for sharing her recipe ~ it was delicious!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Easter Weekend

One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns.

Cadbury's mini eggs.


And a birthday on Easter Monday.

Happy Easter.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Home Comforts

I read in the newspaper recently that in these tough economic times, shoppers return to the familiar brands of their childhood memories. There are certain foods associated with comfort and home. For me, Bird's Custard will always stir memories of trifles and Christmas pudding and custard.




Heinz Beans have seen a revival of interest, as have Bird's Eye Fish Fingers. We can't buy the best-selling variety of fish fingers here, but we can get Heinz Beans (at a price!) They have to be British imports because the ones sold here are just awful!


And although we were not Bisto Kids when growing up, I always liked that thick gravy that I tasted when I visited friends. At times of stress or homesickness, you can't beat a few home comforts.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Help!

I have been busy working on my coastal cross-stitch during the early evenings of the past week, whilst the light was still good enough to see the stitches. It must be six months since I attached the canvas to the frame and as I had never worked such a large piece before, I bought a stand for it. I had been working using the stand until a couple of weeks ago when I decided that I was tired of getting a stiff neck from trying to work the reverse and removed it.


I have been working the centre of the design and spent many hours adding the butterfly. I have had no reason to move the canvas until today, when I wanted to work some of the design above the butterfly. Imagine my horror when I discovered that the frame bracket has made a hole in the fabric! The hole is visible just below the wooden bracket on the photo below.

I have been trying to decide how best to repair this or whether I am going to have to throw the whole thing away. The only solution that I have thought of so far is to use white Bondaweb on the reverse and hope that it doesn't show. I haven't even worked out whether this part of the fabric is to be worked in cross-stitch, or whether the ugly hole is going to be clearly visible in the centre of the design...any suggestions of possible ways to repair this would be appreciated.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Spring Cleaning

I have been tackling the spring cleaning little by little. I haven't had much time to really get on with it, so I have to fit it in when I can. Today was the turn of the doormat, which takes a battering during the winter from all that salt and snow. I threw it in the washing machine and it came up as good as new. It is lovely to see those colours again.

Two weeks ago, I put my boots away, but yesterday they found their way back out again and onto my feet ~ not snow this time, but torrential rain which persisted into the night. So much for April showers!

Friday, 3 April 2009

Wake Up To Morning


I am the time of day right around sunrise, when the sky is still a pale bluish gray. The streets are empty, and the grass and leaves are a little bit sparkly with dew. I am the sound of a few chirpy birds outside the window. I am quiet, peaceful, and contemplative. If I move slowly, it's not because I'm lazy. It's because I know there's no reason to rush. I move like a relaxed cat, pausing for deep stretches that make my muscles feel alive. I am long sips of tea or coffee (out of a mug that's held with both hands) that slowly warm my insides just as the sun is brightening the sky.

I already knew that I am a morning person, so there was no surprise here. It just confirmed the things that I enjoy when I wake up, usually in dawn's early light. If you would like to try this quiz for yourself, you can find it here.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Motivation

I am certain that by now, we are all aware that we should be walking 10,000 steps per day for a healthy heart. I have to admit that it has been far too long since I achieved this, due in part to a combination of working unsociable hours and to the awful weather. It is hard to be motivated and go out when it is freezing cold and icy underfoot.

Now that spring is in the air, I am filled with renewed determination to do better. I may not achieve the target every day, but I am aiming to do so at least three times per week. I find that a pedometer really encourages me in my goal and as the photograph shows, I achieved my target yesterday! And the reward for all this effort? Well, a girl has to have the occasional treat doesn't she?