Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year(s Eve)!!!

Hello, I hope you've had a lovely Christmas!

Chris and I went over to my mum's on Christmas Day. She'd made far too much food so we spent the afternoon lounging around feeling stuffed, but it was still a nice day, or as nice as it could be. She came to us on Boxing Day; we were planning to make another dinner, but since she had so much food left over, we thought it might be better for her to bring it to us and we'd have a kind of 'buffet'. It was mostly things like mini sausage rolls, quiche, pringles etc, plus some of her yummy trifle which she makes every year, and has done for as long as I can remember. She's been having a bit of car trouble, so I went to pick her up and took her back home a few hours later, so that she didn't have to drive. Speaking of pringles, I'm never eating the salt and vinegar ones again, they do something terrible to the skin inside my mouth!

My main present from Chris was a Nintendo 3DS. I got three games with it - Nintendogs, a sports one, and a puzzle one called Mind Gym. The puzzle one was ok at first, but it's not very challenging and as you progress through the levels, the puzzles just start to repeat, so I think I've done them all now. I'm sure they will get a bit more difficult, but it would've been nice to keep getting some new ones. I'm rubbish at the sport games; I keep having a go but I invariably lose every time. Nintendogs is cute, but I feel a bit daft 'stroking' the 3D image of a pup on screen, and telling it to sit. It's not a game I'd play in public! My birthday is coming up in January, so I've put in a request for a few more games, preferably more puzzle-type ones. I've heard good things about Professor Layton, although I don't think the 3DS version is out till February. I'll have to see what appears...

Apart from the Nintendo, I also got a few books, including two crochet ones. I've never bought any so far and I thought it was about time that I started building a collection! So I got The Encyclopedia of Crochet Techniques by Jan Eaton from Chris (which was on my list) and also Cute and Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench from my mum, which was a surprise, because I hadn't really said anything to her about getting some crochet books. So I've had a flick through them, and although nothing has really jumped out at me yet, I'm sure I'll refer to them lots in future. I also got some perfume, toiletries, lots of chocolates (unfortunately!) and a few other bits and pieces. Chris' main present from me was a Tablet computer, which he seems very pleased with, and an mp3 player with a portable speaker, which I think he listens to while he's in the bath. The cats got a few bags of treats - the fishy shapes went down well, the cheesy wedges get eaten when they realise there's nothing else left, and the milk drops... well, they're still there on the floor. Also, my mum bought them a 'crinkle bag'. It's basically just a bag that makes a kind of crackling, rustling sound when you touch it... you know, like a plastic bag. Mischief is usually straight in there when you put a plastic bag down on the floor, but he was a bit tentative with this, and after spending a bit of time with his head in the bag and the rest of him sticking out of it, he hasn't really bothered with it. Millie is even less interested. I really like it that my mum thinks to buy them a present for Christmas, but I feel bad when they don't enjoy it or show any interest. Oh well, that's cats for you...

I'm suffering with a bad back at the moment. It started on Boxing Day - it gradually got worse through the day, and when I drove my mum home I was in agony every time I moved my foot from the accelerator to the brake. It's my lower back, on the right hand side. I don't know what I've done, I must have twisted it or slept awkwardly or something. I've been thinking I should try and rest it, but I was looking on t'internet yesterday and I think it's just 'nonspecific back pain' and the best thing to do is keep active, even if it hurts. Which it does. But resting hurts too, so I guess it doesn't really matter what I do. I haven't taken any painkillers - I'm not a fan of taking tablets at the best of times, and I'd rather be able to feel how bad it is all the time, rather than mask the pain and possibly do something to make it worse, without realising it.

So did you watch the BBC adaptation of Great Expectations over the last few days? When I first saw it advertised I thought, ooh, that looks good!, but I'd never seen the original film, or read the book. I had a look on Amazon and managed to download the novel onto my Kindle for 86p - it probably would've been free if it hadn't been coming on tv, but I can't grumble at that price. So I started reading it and it was a bit of a race against time to get in front of the tv episodes. I was about halfway through by the first episode, I'd got to about 80% through by the time the second one came on, and I managed to finish the whole book before episode three. I'm glad I read it first, because they missed out huge chunks of the book, and made other areas of it much more concise. I enjoyed the book, although I find it takes me longer to read something like that because of the language and style of writing - some of the sentences are a bit convoluted and I have to think about them more to understand what he's trying to say! As for the tv version, I thought it was pretty good. At first I thought Gillian Anderson was a great Miss Havisham, but by the end of it her voice was really getting on my nerves. I think I spotted a continuity error too - it kept showing a close-up of her hand, which was red raw and scabby from her picking it, but then in the next shot her hand was unmarked. Little things like that bother me. I saw a comment on Twitter about how it seemed wrong that Pip was prettier than Estella - I agree! I suppose Ray Winstone wasn't a bad choice for Magwitch (like I said, I haven't seen any other versions) but it did feel a bit like every other Cockney-style gangster he's ever played, if you know what I mean. Overall I enjoyed it though - I don't often watch period dramas on tv, so it was a nice change for me.

Speaking of my Kindle, I've just downloaded a load more free books, mainly classics such as Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and a few more by Charles Dickens. I think I'm going to make it one of my intentions for 2012, to try and read more of these. I'll try again with Wuthering Heights too - every year I attempt it, get about 30 pages in and then abandon it! I've got a lot of these old classics, and I've also got some which are a bit more modern, like The Great Gatsby, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, Brideshead Revisited etc. I got them in a boxset from The Book People, who deliver to us at work (when they used to do decent box sets of novels - now it's all children's and cookery books). Another box set I got was (I think) Booker Prize winners, none of which I've ever tackled. So I'm going to try and make some space on my bookshelves, by reading a lot more next year. I can't decide whether to make a list of what to read in advance, like for each month - if I stuck to it it could be a good idea, but I've got a feeling that if there's a book on the list which doesn't take my fancy at that particular time, it could put me off reading for a long time. But generally I'd like to try and read a couple of 'proper' books a month, at least, whilst also reading some of the classics on my Kindle (which I'll probably start taking to work with me again). I'll try and report back here every time I finish one.

So are you making any New Year resolutions? Last year I made a list of intentions, and looking back at it, I'm pleased to see I did actually achieve some of them, to varying degrees. So I think I'm going to do the same this year. I probably won't post them on my blog, as some will be a bit too personal, but if I can share any, I will.

Anyway, I think that's all for now. Sorry about the lack of photos on this post - that needs to be one of my intentions for next year, start using my camera more!!

So all that's left to say is Happy New Year! My new year's celebrations will be as quiet as always; I'll be thinking about the people who my family lost this year, and hoping for a better, happier 2012 for us all.

Take care, see you next year   xxx

Saturday, 24 December 2011

And So This Is Christmas...

I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young...

Well, it's been a difficult few weeks. Obviously there's never an easy time to lose someone, but at Christmas you seem to be even more acutely aware of the people who are missing from your life. My mum decided that she still wanted to go ahead and try to have as 'normal' a Christmas as possible though, so that's what we're going to do. It's always been a fairly quiet affair in my family, so I imagine it will be much the same, if a little more subdued than usual.

I haven't been feeling very festive until a few days ago - I've been off work and spending most days with my mum, helping her sort things out, so it's been quite hectic. Chris and I only got around to putting our trimmings up about three days ago. For the last couple of years we've selfishly deprived the cats of their favourite toy - The Christmas Tree - and had a tree-less Christmas, but I still think we manage to make the place look quite nice. We put fairy lights all the way around the living room, out of paws reach (apart from near the bookcase), and wrap a bit of tinsel around them too in places. This year all the cards are on the fireplace/hearth (don't worry, we never really use the fire) plus one or two ornaments. The photo doesn't really do it justice, it looks more twinkly and Christmassy really.

Mischief on his new favourite blanket... well, it's mine, but we share
Inspired by something I saw on Pinterest, I thought I'd treat myself and paint my nails. I love nail polish, but I don't wear it as often as I used to, I must be busier now than I used to be!

The Pinterest Version
My Version - nailed it, right?
In my defence, it was my first attempt, and I don't have any fancy nail art equipment or anything like that - I was just using the normal nail polish brushes and lets face it, they're not made for precision or fine detail. So they're not perfect, but they're not bad, I guess.

Today I took the last of my garden photos (better late than never). At some point during the year I thought of taking a photo each month of a tree at the end of our garden, but I haven't always managed to get exactly the same shot. However, today I downloaded Picasa to have a go at one of those collages that I see on so many other blogs, and here is my attempt with the tree - January to December, from top left to bottom right:


I think we may see more collages next year, now that I've just discovered it! (Late to the party, as always!)

I don't know what's up with the cats just lately, but I keep finding them... sitting next to each other, shock, horror!! They get on really well generally, but Mischief kind of 'tolerates' Millie most of the time; if he's on the bed and she gets up next to him, he'll go somewhere else. I think he just likes his personal space. So it's kind of strange to see them this close together:

"Oh no, she's here with the camera again..."

"I'm so bored of having my photo taken..."

"I'm not even going to look at her this time..."
Earlier I got Millie on her own, in the same spot, looking adorable:

Just a-sitting in a sunbeam!!
In wildlife news, the squirrels are back! There were two of them the other day, queueing up to get to the bird feeder, but for some reason every photo I took came out blurry - I obviously need to get practicing again. Chris spotted one this morning though, and then realised what it was up to. We have a blue bin that we keep bird food in. The bin has a lid. The bin is behind the wheelie bin, next to the black thing, which is actually a wormery.


I don't know how the lid became seperated from the bin, I'm sure it's usually got a brick on it, but anyway, the squirrel was just about to take full advantage:


He was probably in there a minute or so before Chris went out and put the lid back on.

Anyway, I think that's about all for now. I'll just leave you with a splash of colour, some flowers that Chris bought me last week:



Have a very happy and peaceful Christmas, and enjoy the company of loved ones.
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