31 January 2011

Blog Love

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK


Fun Blog: How About Orange
DIY Heart Garland


I am passionate about blogging. I love to tell stories, and I love to read others. You follow a blog for a while and you feel like you know the author - and you might through online dialogues or actually meet one day.

I think about what I am going to write everyday, what might be of interest. It keeps my antenna up. Good brain food. I have a long list of post ideas and big file of photographs.


Beautiful Blog: Dreamy Whites
French Farmhouse Inspired Living


Unique to his profession, Charles Dickens distributed his book chapter by chapter often ending in cliffhangers. Obviously a big hit. Isn't this basically what blogs offer - just one chapter at a time? But take it further - it is an interactive book, where reader and author can ask questions and have conversations.


Quirky Blog: Make Mine Mid-Century
Horsey goes to the library


Some blogs are written like magazines, some as biographies, and others like coffee table books with beautiful photography. Like a bookstore, there is something for everyone.

I think blogs attract like minded readers, so interior design blogs attract other i-designers (or wanna bes, like me);  blogs written in a positive voice attract positive people.


Thought Provoking Blog: Privet and Holly
What would your day of hooky look like?


I know there are many many blogs to choose from. Thank you so much for reading in my little corner of my world. It's so good to have you here!

29 January 2011

Squeal!

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

The day I failed my driving test, all was not lost. My inbox announced that Kelley from Bad Hausfrau gave me a blogging award. Kelley, your timing was impeccable! Thank you, thank you :)  I am honored




If you have a chance, visit her 'Notes from a Clueless Housewife'. I just love this photo of the 'bookstore cat'


[image: Bad Hausfrau]

Now for those of you having a 'Johnny Cracked Corn (and I Don't Care)' moment, just turn away. But let me bask in the glory of being noticed and feeling loved for just a brief moment

So in order to accept the award, I need to write 7 interesting things about myself. Grab your tea (or your blindfold); here we go...

1. My happy place is Costa Rica. I lived there for 2 years, post-college. In my next life, I hope you'll find me living in the rainforest as a bird. Two of my favorite photos, pre-digital era:





2. My newest product idea is to bottle English rainwater. Sell it to Anglophiles? Good for the garden? Great face tonic? My husband encourages me to not spend too much of our savings (or time) on this endeavour. But I am taking orders now :)

3. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a professional water skier. Or at least compete or go to a ski camp. I still have a fetish for those floral swim caps


[Google Images]


4. My Hollywood cuties are Ashton Kutcher (cool factor), Matthew McConaughey (Texas drawl), Hugh Grant (goofy). And yes, I did have to look up how to spell their names correctly. Except for Hugh's :)


[Google Images]


5. You know I have crazy love for photo editing online with Picnik. I just discovered the 'Touch Up' section. Play around with the airbrush, mascara, and thinning features on a few photos. Hollywood magic at your fingertips. Better than sliced bread. And I do love warm bread and a really good burger (that's No. 6)

7. As of yesterday, I am the proud passer of the UK Driving Theory Test! A big WOO HOO! Popping the cork now...

The last part of the award is to pass it on to another blogger. There are so many blogs I am loyal to and adore. However I must choose, so I give it to Sarah (with an H) from Modern Country Style who lives in the Cotswolds (lucky girl). Somehow the fates have connected us, as we live parallel lives. Yet we hope that our 'parallelity' will defy mathematics and intersect with a meeting one day soon.  Her blog is not only a feast for the eyes, but humorous and uplifting too.

With a spring in my step, wishing you a delightful weekend, my friends

 

28 January 2011

Friday Fun: What Is Your Design Style?

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK


[image: How About Orange]

Yea! Another Friday Fun day :) 

Just for fun, find out which of the 20 individual styles belong to you.
Take this short quiz to 'define your style' from Stylish Home

The quiz revealed that I like the quiet and simple life (no surprise there). My design style - 'California Country' with a cottage kitchen, warm and charming bedroom, and enjoy being outdoors

What about you? 

Happy Weekend!
 

26 January 2011

Laser Tags

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK



How clever is this? At the grocery store I use a handheld 'gun' and shoot the product label; I bag the items as I go along. When my shopping is complete, go to the till, give them the 'gun', pay, and I'm done! 

The kids love running to get items around the store so they can 'shoot' the labels - anything that makes the kids happy at the store :) Right?

24 January 2011

Harry, A Different Kind of Potter

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK




The hostess for the day plans a super secret getaway for the rest of us each month. We plug in the postcode into our Sat Nav and just see where it takes us. So far no one has given me the postcode to drive off a cliff. Ah, such good friends (so far)...

So you can imagine my delight (and relief) when we drove up to quaint Grayshott Pottery in Hindhead, Surrey


This is what it would have looked like on a clear summer day
[source: Grayshott Pottery]

Founded in 1956, this location produces commercial and handmade stoneware for well-known establishments such as Harrods, a Jamie Oliver restaurant, and Cafe Rouge to name a few. And anytime I can use the word 'bespoke' (custom) I will, so here we go - they make 'bespoke' items too. With in-house designers and artists, anything is possible in this tucked away location where the magic happens... 

I'll let the photos do the talking, because I really have no idea what I am talking about

The Handmade Section



The Commercial Side

Molds

Making A Bowl

'Pressing' Casserole Pans in Blue Machine

'Sponging' A Plate Before Being Glazed

Glazing By Hand

Loaded Firing Rack Is Pushed On A Track

Apologizes for my signage fetish






They were making rustic-looking stoneware while we were there. Loved it all. And the 'pottery elves' (my words, not theirs) work many machines, so they don't get bored. It was surprisingly dust free.

As friend Miss K pointed out, most places of interest in England have a gift shop and restaurant attached (with tea, of course) to make the day really happy.  Grayshott Pottery was no exception :)

And what did I buy in the pottery gift shop? A really cool iron nutcracker that looked like an antique vise, of course :) 




How long had that treasure been waiting to be noticed?



More information: Grayshott Pottery

21 January 2011

A Frozen River Thames?


For those of you who have not visited London, 
the River Thames cuts through London 
and is naturally an important part of London's social and economic history


Satellite Image of River Thames through London
[Wikipedia]


Last month, the headlines read 'UK Experiences The Coldest December On Record' (here)
Could the River Thames actually freeze in London?

It probably wouldn't because 
it is deeper and faster since the old London Bridge was demolished in 1831

However, the river has frozen solid-ish for 24 winters since the 1400s
So it has happened


River Thames in 1950s [source]


Since 1608, 
Londoners held 'Frost Fairs' on the Thames ice to make the most of the cold, 
which included sport and commercial activity

Although the River Thames still freezes, 
it hasn't had a 'proper' deep freeze since 1814


Last 'Frost Fair' in 1814
[Source]


The period from mid-14th century to the 19th century in Europe 
is called the 'Little Ice Age' due to the severity of the climate, 
especially the winters

So for those of you wondering, 
is there a difference between a damp cold and a dry cold? 
Nope - cold is cold 

Do we still get cracked knuckles and chapped lips even with the humidity? 
Yep

And I've learned that balaclava is not the same as baklava 
I could use a bit of both

I went online to buy my husband a snow shovel for Christmas 
I couldn't resist this two-for-one offer:  


[AmazonUK]


Now that's funny :)

Hoping you are staying warm this weekend!

17 January 2011

Everyday Randomness

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK


[image: Tumblr]

So I couldn't hold in the truth any longer, so when I saw my kids' teacher after the holidays I blurted this confession...

''For Christmas, I was bundling up all the little chocolate gifts we bought in Belgium for the kids' teachers. And in a moment of weakness, I ate yours. I am really sorry I didn't give you a gift for Christmas as I had intended to, because I ate it. So I gave you a story instead.''

***

So I have been meaning to share this letter with you. It was taped onto a Christmas package sent from the US, confirming that it did 'not originate or pass through Republic of Yemen or Somalia'. My guess is most of you  have not seen this form letter from the US Post Office before. I found it interesting




***

I jump when the phone rings - a local call costs money, so few call. And because we don't have Caller ID, 
I continue to be surprised by who is calling.

***

I just found out today - you can put 4 litres of unleaded petrol in your diesel car. 
I wouldn't recommend it, but does seem we are no worse for wear.

***

Today was another day of saving critters. I saved a partially drowned worm and released another ladybird (ladybug) outside. 
There are many ladybugs in the house for some reason.

***

The electrician came over the other day to replace a faulty switch in the house. When he entered, he took off his shoes and looked inside his tool satchel. He pulled out and put on house slippers like these:  


[Zappos.com]


It was so adorable and 'proper'! I also think I detected a hint of an Irish accent, and he actually smelled like the soap 'Irish Spring'. Honest!

***

My doorbell sounds like an old-fashion bicycle bell.


[source: pinterest]


And you can never go wrong ending a post with Audrey.
Bet that's her getaway car, as she takes her teacher's Christmas gift back home to eat...

15 January 2011

This Program Has Been Interrupted...

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Nervous Nellie Walks Home After Test
[vi.sualize.us]


So let's just cut to the chase. Nervous Nellie FAILED! I can't believe I actually failed the Hazard Perception part of the driving test. The horror!

The Hazard Perception test is like playing a video game with cars pulling out in front of you, pedestrians running across the road, Godzilla gobbling up buildings. Click the hazard developing; earn points on reaction time.

Okay, so I was a wee distracted by the beautiful countrysides and quaint villages we drove through on the video. Can you blame me?


[source: pinterest]


But I attribute the unfortunate score to being confused. I had been studying one way, and then a dear friend told me 24 hours before the exam to take it another way, which was confirmed by the test center.

So now I have a call into a driving instructor to get me 'sorted out' for the retest in two weeks. Agh! Although I passed the written exam, I have to take it again since it is a package deal.

So here's the breakdown of the day...

I gave myself 2 hours to get to the testing site since it was really far away in an unfamiliar area. I needed every minute.

So get this - as I was entering the town, I actually recognized it from my practice videos. It was wild to actually drive in my Hazard Perception practice video.

I drove wild-eyed around and around that one-way streeted town trying to find a place to park. I zeroed in on a structure with a really tight round-a-round upward entry that rocketed me up 7 levels. Feeling slightly dizzy and nauseous (and nearly scraping the walls), I finally found a space that would accommodate my large-ish vehicle. Shouldn't I have been handed a UK drivers license right then and there just for making it through motorways, one way streets, and tight parking structures successfully? No one hurt, and no property or livestock damaged?

Once parked, I spied the posted sign that stated clearly that I was not to steal petrol from other cars. Really?! Great...

So I took the exit door and found myself inside a big shopping mall with elderly people wandering about in silence. Weird. I just needed to find the street, but I was too nervous to ask one of those scary tattooed men where to find it. What if he stole my purse with my provisional license in it?! Was his friend currently syphoning my gas? So I asked an elderly man, who pointed the way.


[source: pinterest]


I was feeling pretty discombobulated at the test center having been 'lost' for the last hour - in town, the lot, the mall, and then on the street - but the lady behind the counter was friendly (yea) and asked if I wanted to take my test in English. Being the funny girl that I am (ha ha), I told her I'd prefer to take it in 'American' - she gave a polite smile (or was that a wince?), and she rewarded my humor with the 'GOTTCHA' version of the test.

Next, I had to empty my pockets and put everything, except my provisional license, in a locker.

I sat down at my assigned computer. I thought for sure I had it in the bag since I was assigned Number 19 (anything with a 9 is my lucky number). I put my key and license on the small approved rectangle on the desk. I noticed I had my own CCTV video camera staring at me the whole time.

I also had to wear a heart monitor and blood pressure cuff to monitor my bio-responses to questions. Okay, not really. But my heart was, as Junie B would say, 'very pumpy' the whole time.

There was a hand sanitizing wipe for the computer screen, since it was a touch-screen test. Honest!

You know the few times you have received news, and you have an out of body experience? Hello, that was me. When she handed me my test results, the letter read 'I am sorry to tell you that you have failed...' and my head and feet and body just elevated above the ground, and I floated past the elderly and the petrol thieves (I bet they had driving licenses!) to my car.

I wept to girlfriends on my mobile phone (hands-free) the rest of the way home and got really, deeply lost.  Home eventually, I ate a bottle of olives, a whole avocado, and bread doused with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Fat craving, anyone? (I use 'douse' because that is what you do if someone is on fire in an accident. See, I have studied!)

You'll be happy to know my body and mind resurfaced today.

Here is a little sign idea I came up with during the drive:




I know that many are struggling with bigger issues than a silly drivers license - my heart goes out especially to girlfriends Susan and Stacey and their families - both moms with cancer with young children. It puts it all in perspective, doesn't it?

Thank you to everyone who sent me well-wishes via email and comments - you made me feel so loved! And now you get to send them again in two weeks :) Nervous Nellie says THANK YOU! Big group hug...


[source: pinterest]

Flowers for each of you!


This Post is a follow up to Nervous Nellie Gets A Drivers License, Part 2 [here]

12 January 2011

Nervous Nellie Gets A Drivers License, Part 2

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

A Lost Nervous Nellie Just Received
Directions To Testing Center
[tumblr]


Well, here we go! Nervous Nellie is going to take the written UK driver's test this Friday! Woo hoo!

I was unable to book at a test center close to my house, so I have a complicated drive to a town I can't even pronounce :) I will give myself 2 hours to get there - so I hopefully I will have some time to cram once there - just like the good 'ol days

I have studied the book, the CD ROM, and the phone app - I am going to pass this thing, baby!


Um, do you have these in the UK Driver's Test variety?
[dwell.com]


Here are a few of my 'Cliff Notes' to share:

1. You can park your car in either direction on the side of the road. You also can park half of your car on the sidewalk, but not all of it

2. You don't have to drive with your license on you; you have 7 days to present it at a police station if requested

3. Major highways (aka 'motorways') have posts every 100 metres (or is it yards?) that have arrows on the back of them to show you the direction to the nearest emergency telephone. Isn't that clever?

4. You cannot use your horn from 11:30p to 7a - not even a short 'love ya!' beep to your girlfriends

5. Roads have national speed limits. You know what type of road you are on (and therefore the speed limit) based on the height of the street lights

6. No need to stop for stopped school buses

7. All children can sit in the front seat as long as they are in a proper fitting seat or booster (except infants). My kids like this one but it promotes bickering, so for birthdays only

8. Don't pull over and stop for emergency vehicles

9. All emergency vehicles have blue (not red) blinking lights. This includes bomb rescue, search & rescue,  and blood transfusion vehicles

10. It is illegal to drive with snow on any car window (blocks vision), headlights, or license plate

11. It is illegal to use mobile phones

12. Motorcycles and bicycles can pass between cars and right down the center lane (this makes Nellie very nervous)

One common theme is traffic flow. Stop lights and stop signs are less common than yields and roundabouts. Many rules promote traffic to keep moving. I like that.

Another theme is courtesy. There is a chapter in the book dedicated to first aid, CPR, and signs of shock - in case of an accident you can help your fellow driver. And lots of details about being a polite driver. A friend of mine received a black mark on her driving test for driving through a puddle. If a pedestrian had been on the sidewalk, the person would have gotten wet. That's sort of sweet...

Safety precautions are everywhere. There are fire extinguishers and some sort of fire retardant sand at each gas pump. You never ever see a beat up car here - ALL cars are in pristine condition. Any car older than three years must endure a rigorous 'MOT' test, and if it doesn't pass, the car is deemed undriveable. No duct tape holding cars together here. Not one has a dent. I'm wondering if it is illegal for your car to be dirty too, because everyone's looks clean but mine :) -the car wash is a whole 'nother blog post-

Ideally, horses crossing a road should wear safety reflective bands around their 'ankles', and the rider should wear florescent reflective material.

So I told my husband that a herd of sheep should wear those reflective bands around their legs when crossing the road too - and he totally believed me! See how we have become accustomed to living here?! He didn't even question it.


[pinterest]


Do you like my new ride? I want to be unforgettable at my exam ;) And popular



RELATED POSTS
Recounting First Day Driving here
Nervous Nellie Gets A Drivers License, Part 1 here