Friday, 31 December 2010

New Year Blessing


A song that I first heard at Christmas/New year 1999 is my choice for seeing the end of this first decade of the 21st century. :-)

May the new year bless you
and bring you all your true heart desires...

Hope, Health, Peace, Joy,
Friendship and Love.

Where the river foams and surges to the sea,
Silver figures rise to find me,
Wise and as daring,
Following the heart's cry.
I am that deep pool,
I am that dark spring,
Warm with a mystery,
I may reveal to you...

In Time,
Time holds the heart's key
Key to everything is Love,
Love makes the heart flower
Flowers into a deep desire,
Passion in the heart's fire
Passion and desire.

See the eagle rise above the open plain,
Golden in the morning air,
Weaving and soaring,
Watchful and protecting.
I am your shelter,
I will enfold you.
Warm with a mystery,
I may reveal to you...

In Time.
Time holds the heart's key
Key to everything is Love

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Wishing on a Star...

I’ve always loved Christmas, but this year I found myself looking at some aspects about the holiday that I truly do not like at all. This year we stayed home, thanks to the weather and the fact none of us are that healthy at the moment. That meant I got to watch far more festive TV than I normally do. The results were… mixed. Yes, the sentimental silly Christmas movies are fun, but after a week of them I started to feel like the god worshipped at this holiday is… Santa.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not anti-Santa! I've always loved Father Christmas and I think the real history behind the myths is just as delightful, but this year it all felt too much - a bit manic and overwhelming, especially when you added in all the advert breaks urging you to spend, SPEND, SPEND.

The modern commercial world wants us to exchange miracles for credit cards and prophets for profits. We are being left with an emptiness and pointlessness to the day that no amount of manic spending can ever fill. We stands in terrible danger of forgetting that love really is the greatest gift of all.

I found myself longing for less red-jolly HOHOHO-ness and more Peace on Earth. I wanted angels and shepherds instead of half price sales and strange men in fake white beards. I wanted the true magic of Christmas back; the miracles and the wonder…

I wanted the hope that one baby just could make this world a better place.

As ‘political correctness’ continues to strip away anything that might even remotely offend others about Christmas, we risk losing far more than the beliefs of one world religion. Christmas is far more than that - at its core it has always been an interweaving of the Christian and the Ancient, taking the best and the most noble from all to create a day that sends out a timeless (and timely) message...

that one person, one birth, really can make a difference.

Could there be more perfect a story for our present day than the story of a family forced to travel due to political red tape and rising taxes? A baby born in a makeshift shelter because the inns were overbooked? And what could be more wonderful than the fact the angels went out and told the shepherds about the birth. Not the rich or the powerful - just shepherds; everyday, ordinary people out working into the night.

To me the shepherds seem to represent so many people out in the world right now. The overworked and underpaid… or unemployed. All those everyday folk who feel invisible and unappreciated. I can’t think of anyone more deserving to see angels than those who think they’re too insignificant to matter, can you?

Or, as someone I know wrote recently:

"No matter what your faith or beliefs Jesus Christ gave to the world his message of love and everything flowing from it, which will not be faulted to the end of time."

Glynn Williams
A child born in the darkest of Winter to remind us that Spring always returns and the Light will shine once more. A star to carry the wishes of a world... I think that’s worth being reminded about. I hope you do too.

All graphics from

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

An Iced Bun for Christmas

For the last week I've known a secret, but had no way to prove it.

I did photograph this
...and this
...but that's hardly enough for a blog post. :-\

Then, on Christmas day, I finally had the lucky break I'd been hoping for. :-) After days of paw print doodles and the odd flash of fur I finally had proof...

that the rabbits are still in the garden!
Yep, there at the base of the middle tree is a rabbit, busy eating the peanuts and bread we put out for the wild birds.
After a while it moved on from noshing peanuts to nibbling the leaves off the big bush to the left of the bird feed tree. You can just make it out as a grey-brown lump below the bush, kind of left-ish. After that it disappeared into the bush and I had to go cook a turkey.
We have never had rabbits in the garden over winter before! I'm pretty certain it must be one of our regular semi-tame Summer buns as it wasn't in the least nervous or timid. I have no idea if it is Flopsy or Cottontail... or even our original Bunny Boy, so I'll just call it our "Iced Bun" of Christmas. ;-)..

Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas Eve Photos

We had a lovely Christmas, I hope you all did too. :-)

I took a few photos on Christmas eve and Christmas day. Here's the Christmas Eve ones first...
The tree looked so pretty I took another photo from a different angle.

I iced the cake myself this year... with the help of my hubby! :-) Who'd have guessed he'd be good with icing? I HATE icing, pastry and most things baked. It's one area of cooking I really don't enjoy. This year he rolled out the marzipan and icing and helped me put them on the cake, but I did the extra surprise for him - the decorations. ;-)Like the cake says... Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The Mimi Boop Meme

Mimi has come up with such a fun meme I had to join in. :-) It's...

Here are the meme questions: Your answers can be funny or serious - that's up to you... boop boop di doo! ;-)

1. I am good when I _________.

2. I am naughty when I ________.

3. The world would be a better place if people would Deck the Halls with ______ of _____instead of ______ of _________.

4. Have you ever snuck into the living room in the middle of the night, unwrapped your gifts and wrapped them back just to see what was under the Christmas tree for you? Come can tell me.

Sidenote: I've always wanted to know what really goes on in the Gingerbread House after dark. I've never seen any cookies come out of that place. Have you?

5. Have you ever been stuck in a chimney?

6. Who would you like to stuff in a stocking and why?

7. Could you name the 12 Disciples Days of Christmas, the 3 Musketeers Wise Men and all of Santa's medications Reindeer if your life depended on it? OK wiseguy. Prove it.

8. On the 13th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me ____________??

9. Imagine that Santa Claus really does exist for a moment. (I can say that this week. Baby Boy is not listening right now ) Anyway, if the Big Guy could grant you any wish, what would your most hedonistic and self-centered wish be? (You can say it. I won't tell. I'm Mimi Boop today.)

10. When you make your list, do you check it twice and find out who's been naughty or nice or do you just get everybody a box of chocolate covered cherries and call it a day?

If you're reading this meme, consider yourself tagged. That is my Christmas present to you!! And don't try to hide from me. I see you.....

Now my answers, in a suitably cartoonish mood, as my secret alter-ego...

1. I am good when I...

want to be. ;-)

2. I am naughty when I...

don't want to be, but can't help myself!

3. The world would be a better place if people would Deck the Halls with...

meows of jolly!

4. Have you ever snuck into the living room in the middle of the night, unwrapped your gifts and wrapped them back just to see what was under the Christmas tree for you? Come can tell me.

Who? ME? Never!

5. Have you ever been stuck in a chimney?

Chimney, tree, roof, tree, tall wardrobe, tree...

6. Who would you like to stuff in a stocking and why?

Kippers and cream. Why not?

7. Could you name the 12 Days of Christmas, the 3 Wise Men and all of Santa's Reindeer if your life depended on it? OK wiseguy. Prove it.

The 12 Ways of Crisp Mouse are:

Fried, dried, grilled, chilled,

broiled, served oiled (olive or sesame),

with a rosti, in a pita, enchilada'ed, on a pizza,

lightly toasted, perfectly roasted...


The three wise Meows:

Tom, Sylvester and Felix!

Reindeer? Who cares about reindeer??

8. On the 13th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

A most lovely winter woolly hat.

9. Imagine that Santa Claus really does exist for a moment... if the Big Guy could grant you any wish, what would your most hedonistic and self-centered wish be?

Self-centered heating.

10. When you make your list, do you check it twice and find out who's been naughty or nice or do you just get everybody a box of chocolate covered cherries and call it a day?

I ALWAYS check out whose been naughty with mice,

but I just get everyone the catnip.



Sunday, 19 December 2010

Tree Memories

Every year we take a photo of the Christmas tree; it's become a family tradition. This year mom and I started talking about all the trees we've had over the years. She went and dug out the photos and scanned her favourites and I've added a few of my own. 'll point out now that the trees have almost always been fake, because dad and I are allergic to pine. I'm not sorry, I always felt that killing a tree for a month of decoration was depressing.

This first photo is me pointing out my very first Christmas tree. I thought it was HUGE, and amazingly beautiful, as a child. I found it as an adult, stored in my gran's back room. How it had shrunk in twenty years!
This one is from my high school years, in South Africa. That's my gran, my mom, me and my grandfather, with my dad in front. I'm holding the dog that owned us - Pip. Behind in the top corner you can see my old passion - building model ships. The tree that year was decorated in silver, gold, blue and red.
This one also has Pip, doing his "Look at ME" pose thing. He loved being photographed and would always dash to sit in your line of sight when you had a camera. He'd also sit on the newspaper if you were reading - he had to be the centre of attention always. ;-) The tree seems to be just red and gold that year.
The next one is extra special, because this was the first photo hubby ever saw of me. :-) It was up on a friend's website for Christmas 2001, but it was actually taken about five years earlier. This tree was bought in the mid 1980s, it was much more realistic and lasted right up till the late 1990s. The theme that year was silver, red and gold.
The next photos were taken in Scotland.
This first tree is actually one my dad made. It won first prize in a local Christmas tree competition in South Africa in 2000. :-) It's a double spiral of wooden "branches" that taper into a tree shape. The original, that we won with, was painted white and decorated with gold and silver. When my parents moved to Scotland dad brought his tree with him. :-) We painted it gold in 2005 and used green tinsel on it... because the all white looked way too cold in snowy Scotland!
Mom's favourite tree, 2008. Our colours that year were gold, copper and bronze. It was the Father Christmas, standing beside the tree, that gave us the colour idea. :-)
...and now this year's tree. Mom and I chose red and gold again this year, but we used coloured lights for a change. All the other trees were white lights. You can see Father Christmas standing up on the corner cabinet behind the tree. It's the same cabinet from the very first photo of me as a teenager. :-)
The teddy bear, below the tree, belongs to dad. It's his yodelling bear. Yes... it really does yodel. (LOL) I took a close-up photo of the decorations...
The crystal stars were originally hair accessories I bought on sale and the little ornaments are all hand-made wooden ones we've bought from all sorts of places over the years. The gold baubles were bought in Scotland and the red tartan ones... were bought in Africa!

Merry Christmas. :-D

Message in a Bottle

How's this for a great idea - a blog where you can leave a message in a bottle!

You can choose to send an anonymous message or something specially from you; the choice is yours. I decided to go with a dream I had last week...

I dreamt I met Jesus on a beach. He was sitting looking out to sea. How could I miss an opportunity like that? I walked over and said,
"What's the most important thing for me to know?"

He didn't look up at me, but He did smile. Then He started to draw in the damp sea sand. He drew a smiley face and then He wrote... this message was actually for me rather than from me, but I think it's one worth sharing. ;-)

Sunday, 12 December 2010



A friend mentioned recently how her husband thanks her for everything she does, even the coffee she brings him every single morning. She said how different it was from her own family upbringing, where thankfulness was not classed as high a virtue as hard work or love. She spoke about the never-ending miracle of her husband's gracious thankfulness.

Another friend mentioned worrying about a potential lack of thankfulness from her children this year. It's been a hard year for her family; there's just no way she can afford to buy gifts or festive treats and it hurts her heart to see her kids do without.

I suspect that, for many people, this Christmas will not be a time of great spending and piles of gifts under the tree. It made me think back to when I was a child myself. As an adult I think the hardest part is not being able to give gifts, but for children? Yes, kids don't always understand and they do miss the presents. Our last Christmas in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was under sanctions. With no products coming into the country the shops were near empty - nothing to buy even if people had the money. My parents really struggled to find something nice to buy for me and in the end all they could find was... a croquet set.

Now, I have NEVER been sporty and dry African gardens aren't made for croquet. The game was a total flop and yeah... I pouted. I was 8 and didn't have a clue about politics or wars. I wanted a Barbie doll or some books, not a stupid game! By the time I was a teenager that croquet game had become a favourite family joke and a secret code for a totally wrong gift choice. We've laughed about it for four decades now. So much laughter from one disappointed kid moment... seems a pretty good trade off, really. ;-)

Then I thought about my 11th birthday, when we'd moved to South Africa. Emigrating is costly and my parents warned me that there wasn't money for gifts this time. I remember that birthday morning... waking up and seeing one small gift at the bottom of the bed. It was a ruler, eraser and pencil for school. I also remember my mom and dad standing watching me open it... there was sadness in their eyes. Yes, I was disappointed not to find lots of exciting presents, but I was more worried that they'd know I was disappointed.

In that moment I was given the most amazing gift of all - a chance to show gratitude for the love behind the gift instead of just for the gift itself. How easy it is to forget that the best gifts we receive in life aren't the presents themselves, but rather those holding them. Because most times when we wrap up an item for someone we care about what we're really doing is wrapping up our hearts.

Friend, family, lover, child... it's all the same - we give gifts because we want to show how thankful we are to have this other person in our lives.

I am wonderfully blessed to have both family and friends who make my life brighter and better every day. If I had to list every single person I'm grateful to have in my life, the list would be huge. If I had to buy each of them a gift equal to how important they are to me? I'd be in debt for decades! But gratitude can be shown in so many ways - a hug, a smile... a thank you for a cup of coffee. Like my first friend's husband already knows - it's all about showing your appreciation of the other person.

Another blogger, Lori, has chosen to get creative in this time of tighter finance by making gifts. As she puts it:
"... our plans are to get busy in the kitchen, work some of our magic and make some gifts for our loved ones, since we already have most of the ingredients on hand anyways. Sending off some of our homemade love to those we are crazy about ..."

She's written a beautiful blog post about it, but then all her blog posts are beautiful. :-) Her creativity inspired this post of mine. It's my own creative moment of giving back to those people I care about; a chance to say a few words to all my friends and family...

Thank You...

for making me smile,
making me think,
making me try harder, look deeper...
understand better
and for sharing your journeys with me,
both the tears and the laughter.

I am so very Grateful.

All artwork (with appreciation and thanks) from glitter-graphics


Friday, 10 December 2010

All Creatures Great and Small...

This week hubby had an errand to run in the mountains and I went with for the drive. We did check the weather sites first to make sure the roads were clear enough and hubby has driven through worse weather than this winter, so I knew I was in safe driving hands. ;-)

But the first thing to block our way was neither snow nor ice. We turned a corner in a forest and...
there they were.
A whole herd of cattle staring at us with as much shock as I'm sure we were staring at them. We stopped the car engine right away, but the sight of us was just too much stress for our bovine blockade. They all turned tail and started clomping off as fast as they could manage on the icy road.
At that moment a lot of yelling started up in the distance and we realised these were cattle being driven down from the hills by the farmers. One farmer ran through the cattle and past our car. He stopped just behind us and started calling, "Come! Come on. COME!" and eventually... painfully slow at first... the cattle began moving back towards him. I only took one photo as they were very nervous and large very nervous cows can stampede and squash a car quite easily.

When they reached our car they all stopped in horror once again... and MOOOO'ed loudly. All these huge heads and rolling eyes staring at us as if we were the most horrific thing they'd ever seen in their lives. It was funny in a slightly unnerving way. They did bump our car a few times, but left no more damage than a bit of fur and mud and a lot of cow aroma.

Once we were out of the forest it was a fairly quiet trip through the hills and moorland. Everything was covered in snow, including the roadsides and parking places, so I didn't have a chance to stop and take any photos. I took this one when we made an emergency stop to clean the windscreen - the wipers were too frozen to do the job.
When we reached our destination I waited in the car. I was well prepared for a short wait - hat, gloves and a travelling blanket! ;-) It was really beautiful being out on a farm in the middle of the mountains. I took this photo of the farm fields opposite the barn where I was parked.
There was a big hay bale under those trees. You can't see it in the photo as it was a bit shadowy. I must have sat and started at that scene for about 30 minutes before the hay bale turned around and scratched its butt with a horn. It was a highland cow - not a hay bale! I really did burst out laughing when I realised my mistake and then I laughed again when I noticed another almost invisible creature sleeping on the jeep parked by the barn.

Can you see him?
It's a little Dunnock (hedge sparrow) sleeping on top of the tyre. There were also four robins flying about the jeep, but they move too fast to photograph. They did come and check me out too - landing on the car roof and windscreen to STARE at me in disapproval. Robins are very aggressive and territorial, especially in winter, which makes seeing four together most unusual.

On the way home the roads were quiet and clear. We stopped again to clean the windscreen and I took a few more pictures.
At this time of the year the sun doesn't rise very high in the sky and sets around 4:00 pm. I love the way the sun turns the snow into a billion diamonds, but it's not easy to catch that incredible glittering sparkle in photos. If you click to enlarge this last photo you can make out a few sparkles, but nowhere near what the reality was like.As cold as it is (and it was around -16 at least) it is just so beautiful it's worth feeling freezing to experience such magic. :-)

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Valuable Gifts

I was tidying up my blog the other day and found something I'd written in one of my old Newsflash posts that got me thinking all over again. In Spring I wrote:
Money isn't the problem - it's how and what we choose to value that's the problem. When we value new over enduring and flashy over beautiful. Money is merely a symbol of how we value the world around it and our fellow man. What's disturbing in the modern world is how distorted those values can become, but that isn't money's fault.

If we choose to accept that a "celebrity"earns millions and many dedicated hard-working people not enough to live on... that's not money's fault - it's our value system.

If we choose to spend on items we don't need, purely because the media say we have to have them... that's not money's fault - it's our value system.

The power of good or evil lies in what we choose to value, not in the inanimate.
It got me thinking about Christmas and gift-giving. It's perfectly natural to want to show your friends and family how much you love them at times like Christmas. There's no better feeling than watching the delight on the face of someone who has just unwrapped your gift and there's no nicer feeling than finding an unexpected card or gift box in your mail...

...but sometimes it seems as if the modern world is trying to make us believe that the true measure of our love for each other is best counted in bank notes.

Sometimes I worry that with all the media hype we're in danger of forgetting that it's not about how much we spend. It's about how much we want those we love to understand how much we value them; and sometimes we can choose the easy route of just wrapping any old thing for that relative we love instead of giving them what they'd really treasure - a visit when they're lonely, a thank you for all they've taught us, a hug when they're feeling sad...

I'm betting everyone reading this knows of someone who'd really appreciate a visit more than a gift, or a phone call more than a card. And we always mean to get around to it... but somehow it's just so much faster and easier to send the box with the card saying "love from..." than actually take the time and energy to go over in person.

I know, I'm as guilty as anyone. I have a friend in her 80s who phones and hints for a visit. She lives quite far from us so I phone... and I send a card every Christmas when I know she'd much rather have me there having a cuppa and a good chat.

So here's my Festive challenge to us all - this year I'm challenging everyone to spend less... but do more! Whether it's just picking up the phone to call that old aunt you tend to avoid because she never stops talking or whether it's going over to help your neighbour with that task you really know he needs help with. Or maybe volunteer for a day. This year there are hundreds of charities who need help in all sorts of ways.

Give a gift that really is beyond value this Christmas - give your self.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Autumn Photos

...with a difference.

I've put our Autumn photos into a YouTube presentation.


Monday, 22 November 2010

Newsflash November

I used to do a newsflash at the end of each season, but this year I missed out on summer in all our mayhem and now it's rapidly nearing winter. I'm way overdue!

Many of the photos I'm using here are ones I promised a while back - photos I took of Aberdeen when we were there with dad in hospital. Sadly every one of them came out blurry as there was a problem with my camera. In a way it is pretty apt; all our time spent in Aberdeen feels kind of fuzzy looking back...

Nature Entertainment Wise words Spirit
Family Lessons Artist Smiles Home


Last time I wrote in spring we'd had Bunny Boy (Bunny Girl?) return for the year with... two tiny babies! Over this year we've watched them grow up and it's been a delight to see that even a creature as "everyday" as a wild rabbit has character. Over the summer two fuzzy blobs grew into two distinct personalities - Flopsy (who would drape and snooze anywhere) and Cottontail (hyper energetic and given to trying to tease other rabbits into games of chase-me). I'm pleased to say we do still see them now and then, but as winter comes in the rabbits go out - back into the wild places. Be interesting to see who returns next spring!

Otherwise the biggest Nature treat was when we spotted a whole flock of waxwings last month. They migrate here from Scandinavia. We stopped the car on the road side and I managed to take this photo. It was through the window (hence the reflections), because I didn't want to scare them.


The best entertainment in Summer was going to the Speyfest music concert for my birthday. I'll never forget it. :-) It was such a fun night.

The best entertainment for Autumn has got to be Blogblast for Peace, even if I was offline on the day! Do go look at the list of participants HERE, there are so many fantastic entries this year.

My Wise Words choice are always from a fellow blogger. This time I'm picking my friend, Amel,

"I was once browsing for some food recipe and I noticed that in the comment section somebody started a HEATED debate between non-pork eaters and pork eaters. And as usual, once a couple started that debate, more and more people chimed into the argument and they started calling names and stuff.

I mean...HELLO?!?!?!?!?!

The recipe writer only wanted to SHARE recipes, but that was the "junk" she got in return? She didn't even write anything "controversial". It angered me to read all those nasty comments. I just wanted to shake them all and say, "What the HELL do you think you're doing here??? Can't we all be decent human beings who agree to disagree? Why do you have to attack one another like that?"

Sometimes I'm just sad at the nature of human beings, including myself. It's just so easy to spread "junk" without thinking first. When you're struck, your first instinct is to strike back. No wonder the world's never going to be able to enjoy true peace. That doesn't mean to say that we shouldn't try to create peace as much as we can, though. I'm also not saying that we should all lie and shut up and that we shouldn't express ourselves or rant if we need to, but we should all restrain ourselves to some degree, even in cyber world, esp. when it comes to throwing junk to other people's "areas" (blogs, video posts, recipes, etc.)

This year the biggest spiritual lesson for me has been realising that miracles can come through my refusing to believe in bad things.

Sometimes trying to have faith and keep trusting in good gets a bit scary, especially when you have all sorts of drama thrown at you - money worries, health worries, etc.... we've had them ALL this year, as have so many of my friends. You can start to feel like this is how life is always going to be, but when dad took ill we all said, "No WAY is this ending badly!" and we fought back with faith that came from refusing to believe in gloom and doom.

Last time I did a newsflash I wrote,
"Spring has been pure chaos. All four of us have had some form of test and at least one trip to the hospital."

Little did I know it would get worse. Since then we've had all of us in and out of doctors, dentists and specialists and then the biggest shock of all... the only healthy person in the family , dad, gets rushed in to hospital and nearly dies. Every one of the tubes and wires in this photo were attached to dad... and that was BEFORE they moved him to the Intensive Unit in Aberdeen.

It has been surreal to say the least...

Dad's due for a check up next week, so we'll find out then what the doctor thinks about his recovery so far. I had foot X rays last week and am waiting for the results. It's the foot that started them thinking I have fibromyalgia. It hurts to put weight on or walk and I'm really struggling some days.

Mom will be going in for surgery in January. It was going to be end of November, but she asked to postpone as with dad home recuperating, Christmas a month away and me having problems it felt all too much. Hubby had X rays for an old back injury in August, but he hasn't been back to the doctor to see about them yet as right after that dad took ill and we have just been too busy. He says he'll go when things are calmer... and I'll keep reminding him. ;-)


The lessons for Summer and Autumn? My biggest lesson was that when you come close to losing someone in your family you realise how some things you thought mattered really don't. I'm not worrying as much nowadays. Money worries and possessions seem really trivial by comparison.

ARTISTMy Artist choice for Spring is blogger, Bryan. I love his calendars for 2011. :-)

You can order them HERE.



Home reminds me of a very amusing sign I saw in Aberdeen. Sadly the photo didn't come out clearly, so I'll have to explain what it's about. The sign was up on a pole outside a Burger King place on Aberdeen beach front. It reads,


So what makes this so funny?
...there's a rabbit warren entrance at the bottom if that sign.

Aberdeen Bunnies are big and brawny and proud of it! ;-)

This photo above is of the road from where we were staying going back in to Aberdeen It seems to sum up the journey of this entire year - long, kind of bumpy with unexpected twists. It stretches out into the distance... leading where?

Where will I journey next year? Where will you be on your life road? Who knows! All any of us can do is hold onto our map books and hope for good weather and safe roads but even more important - you need good travelling companions. :-)

I've had excellent company this year, both in my literal travels with my family and in my online 'travels' with friends. I'm very grateful for both...