Thursday, 18 November 2010

My 31st Birthday

My company kindly gives us an extra days holiday every year on our birthday. It is really lovely to have the day off so for the last 2 years Nathan and I have made a deal that we would do something we wouldn't usually on the day.

We pre planned the day so we could make the most of it and it worked out great. Nathan put a lot of thought into what I love and enjoy doing. It was also just so lovely to spend the day with him. (Our holiday already seemed like a distant memory as we had both been working so hard.)  
Breakfast in bed.... which consisted of coffee and cupcakes... (the diet went out the window- it was my birthday after all!) Nathan also brought me some lovely wee, well thought out presents... (the best kind!) There were cards and gifts from all my lovely friends and family too.
As we had the year before we got the train to somewhere we hadn't been together. The train is so much more pleasurable than driving as we could both relax. We picked up two Pike's Place Roast coffees at Starbucks on the way to the train.
Riding down the east coast to North Berwick was a 30-40 minute journey. The train was so quiet as we were going against the commuter traffic.
My Sister, Mum, Dad and I used to come to North Berwick a lot when we were younger. My Grandparents also used to take us here on the bus or for a Sunday ride so it has lots of good memories. The day had started off grey but ended up beautiful! Not a cloud in the sky! It was great to be beside the water even if it was a little chilly.

Although it was the 2nd of November the shops still had some of their Halloween decorations in the window. I think this is what I need. A window that I can do a display every season! I loved the window here at Gulp. Later in the afternoon I went back in and purchased some faux autumn leaves to make into a garland. (more about that in an upcoming post.) They were so friendly and helpful... if their store was a little closer I think I would be spending all my money there! Although they are online.
There was so much detail in the window. I loved the black and green. I have some lime green in my living room that I might make more of next year for Halloween. It looks more modern.
When I was younger and we would come to North Berwick as I family I always said I wanted to stay in this little cottage when I was a grown up. The photo I took of it for scale didn't come out but you can see from this picture that it is not big (Nathan might not even fit in the front door!). It is nestled between two larger properties. I would love to have a look inside one day... and who knows I could maybe one day own it as my little coastal bolt hole!! I sent a photo on my phone to my Mum and Sister to remember 'Puffin Cottage' .... I love memories like these.
After we walked around North Berwick (there are some lovely, lovely shops!) Nathan had organised for me to have a pedicure at the local hotel. The Marina Hotel is owned by the McDonald hotel group so it is a great standard. Whilst I had my pedicure he chilled in the lounge and then we had lunch in the bar looking out onto the Links Golf Course. It was a great day for a game.... although as always on a links course very windy. I was glad we were tucked up inside. Whilst my toes dried we ate Pumpkin Risotto and Fish Pie... yum!
Looking out at the gorgeous view. I loved the big couches too. So snugly and warm. 
We could see the Bass Rock from the window behind where we were sitting. There was also a gorgeous outdoor mini pool/ jacuzzi below the bar window. We will have to come back for a wee overnight stay. The hotel really did look lovely.
After lunch we walked around more and visited lots of little gift and home stores. I walked into one store and could have bought everything. I loved it! They don't have online yet but when they do- watch out! For now I will have to contend with a wee trip back to North Berwick during the Christmas holidays. We stopped and had hot chocolate and Nathan had some tasty cake before we headed to the train station.
The town has a lot of Victorian buildings and decorations to it. Even the railway sign has history.
Waiting for the train back to Edinburgh after a lovely day in North Berwick.
Nathan clearly had had too much fresh air and fell asleep on the train. So I caught up on all the lovely facebook messages, e-mails and texts people had sent to wish me Happy Birthday- thank you to everyone for the good wishes....as you can see I had a great day! ... but it wasn't over yet.
After a quick turn around (thankfully our flat is only 5 minutes from the train station at Haymarket) we headed out again. Nathan had booked us in for an early table at our favourite local Northern Chinese restaurant Chop Chop. I L.O.V.E their dumplings and green beans. Nathan was actually sent a gift voucher from them for being one of their most valued customers... he he! It pays to be loyal!
I bought a new top from Laura Ashley to wear on my birthday night out. I love the sparkly shoulders and it has shoulder pads too...( I should have been 31 in the 80s!)  

After dinner we went to the Lyceum Theatre to see 'The Importance of Being Ernest.'

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read”

I loved the costumes and the stage sets... and the acting was good too. I used to really enjoy going to the theatre with my Dad so it was nice to have gone again. (I also used to go to see dance and ballet with my Mum- I need to do that again soon too.)

Nathan and I never got interval drinks though as we were too full from dinner (One of my favourite things about going to the theatre, when I was younger, was pre ordering drinks at the bar to be ready for you at the interval. I always felt so special when we did this.... not sure why!? maybe amazement when they got our order right. Or feeling very grand!?)

Hopefully we can go to the theatre again sometime soon as it was really good to do something different.
I had a wonderful birthday with Nathan. It was filled with so many things that I love. Adventures, boutique shops selling shabby chic items and Christmas goodies, the beach, pedicure, lunch snuggled up on a couch, Chop Chop and then the theatre.... but most of all I loved being with Nathan.

I feel that we well and truly celebrated my last birthday as Jennie Landels.... for on my next birthday I will be Jennie Pike!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Camera Disaster!

At the Halloween Party my camera got damaged and is beyond repair! BOO!

To be fair it was on it's last legs... I would say I use it much more than the average person.

However this poses a small problem with my blog.

For my birthday- at the beginning of November- we borrowed Nathan's Dad's camera. I don't have the lead to download the photos so hopefully will get to do so this weekend.

I had such a fun birthday with Nathan and had some lovely presents and cards from my friends and family.

So I know what I will be asking Father Christmas for this year!

Accies Halloween Party

On the night of Friday 29th October Nathan and I went down to the clubhouse to set up for the Halloween party. Loreen and Vicki came down too and as a team we set about making the clubhouse a venue fit for a spooktacular event on the Saturday night.

I bought the decorations online from a company called Party Packs. They were really good and I got all the decorations (excluding the table decorations and pinata which I also bought) for £25. It came as a pre packed box and I was really impressed. They had 100 feet of spiders which we put along the top of the walls. There was hanging bats, skeleton garlands.. they thought about all the spaces within a venue. I will definitely be using their packs again.
I really liked the scary silhouettes that were in the packs... we teamed them with the cobwebs and spiders that were in our pack. It looked really good with the old paintings/ pictures in the clubhouse.

Nathan and I as Frankenstein's Monster and the Bride of Frankenstein. I loved our costumes... although Nathan had a little trouble the next day getting his green face off! Even though when we got home we both jumped in the shower and scrubbed the face paint off... there were still traces of it the next day!  
All the boys at the party before the girls arrived. Most of them had gotten changed after their rugby games. There were guys from all the Accies teams there.
Two face, Superhero, Frankenstein, Viking and one half of Jedward! The boys certainly went all out on the costumes.
Wendy dressed as a Mummy with baby Katie as a Pumpkin... so cute all snuggled up.
The girls. Helen, Lucy, Loreen, Emma, Lorna and me.... I loved that all the girls still looked so cute in their costumes but I was... well I went for a different type of look!
Arnie on guitar and Kenny singing along to known
Zara, Loreen and Emma watching Arnie preform.
Me and Emily... my face paint looks quite scary!
The girls- Top row: Zara, Loreen, Emma and Lesley. Bottom Row: Leona, Emily, Me and Lorna.
Two Face and Bride of Frankenstein. We won the prize for best dressed male and female at the party.
I loved Jim and Arnie's costumes. They looked very much the part as Jedward... two Irish 'popstars'.
Nathan running proceeding. Everyone who had come in the same costumes had to do a boat race against each other. So it was the bunch of bananas vs the Sumos. I liked the fact they were encouraging everyone to be unique and creative with their costumes. 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! 

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Accies Girls Night October

Zara hosted this month and it was so lovely to see the girls. Zara made tasty lemon squares which I loved and Vicki made chocolate rocky road (which everyone knows is one of my weaknesses!) So it was safe to say that ladies night was part of my 20% naughty food for the week... it may have in fact made up all of the 20%!
Baby Aaron and Emily, Loreen and Wendy with baby Katie. I love that the babies are a new addition to ladies night. They are all growing up so fast and we were all commenting on Aaron's strong legs and his ability to stand and Katie's head control is getting so much better... she is so interested in everything that is going on around her.
Leona, Me, Vicki and Zara. I can't get the photo to zoom in any without being really pixelated. Cute snap though. I love cosying up on the couches and catching up with these ladies... good times!

Domestic life

It has been a bit of a shock to the system arriving back from Cypres to what feels like winter. We have however had some lovely crisp autumn days- those are my favourite. They make me want to wrap up warm, go for a long walk and eat cosy winter food.

Nathan and I have been trying to be good and continue, as we were on holiday (mainly) eating healthy, as natural as possible food. We have a del at the moment that I will be good 80% of the time. (more about that later!)

Above I made tomato and pesto soup (which I made a few years ago for Christmas day) it was delicious and I forgot how much I liked it (as did Nathan!)
We have also been back to the trusty croc pot.... This is the best invention for us. If Nathan has training and I am home before him I can tuck in and then he can eat when he gets in or if I am working late I don't have to feel guilty that there is no dinner made and I have to rush back to eat with Nathan. He can help himself. Nathan is the king of the slow cooker... he is much better than me... he seems to just know how much seasoning will work, a bit of stock.... I follow the recipes I have and they still don't taste as good as his guestimations!
I have also been taking fresh made coffee to work every morning. I love drinking my coffee on the way to work. (Cheaper home made with Starbucks fround coffee than bought from the shop) However my favourite travel cup (it was gold and sparkly from Starbucks) broke the other day so I am currently taking the travel cup above. We have 3 the same and they all seem to leak! So whatever I do I am always covered in coffee by the time I arrive at work! Time to invest in a new Starbucks travel mug I think!
I have been trying desperately to keep up with the housework. Doing the dishes before I go to bed rather than waiting till the morning.. or even worse the next night when I get in from work. What I would not give for a dishwasher.. but first I'd need enough space for a dishwasher!

I have been failing miserably at the household jobs... however help is at hand. My sister had a cleaner organised to help my Dad when he was not well. After he passed away my Mum asked her to stay on every two weeks to keep the family home clean... but now no one is really there apart from my Mum visiting occasionally. She has cleaned everything- she even ironed items that have been at the bottom of the laundry pile for years- including Girl Guide and Brownie Guide Uniforms!! (They have probably been there for 20+ years! he he!)

So my Mum asked if my sister and I want her to come to our homes for the month of November as my Mum will be back in December for Christmas and will want the cleaner back at the family home. I loved our answers... Becky said no, she was okay as no one can clean her home better than she can (Her and Dougie are so good. They are so clean and tidy and there house is always beautiful) I said " yes, because anyone could clean my home better than I can!!"

I can't wait!!! I am so excited as it will mean this weekend I won't feel guilty all weekend that I haven't cleaned or I won't spend time cleaning when really I should be sorting through all the stuff I have been throwing into boxes! (I need a winter clean... never mind waiting for a spring clean!)

Cypres to Portobello

The day after we came back from Cypres I was down at Portobello for a creative briefing afternoon. It was quite a contrast in temperatures.... 30* in Cypres to about 14* in Edinburgh (and that's mild for this time of year!)

It was still very pretty though. I love living near the water. I hope I always live close to the beach (however cold it is!)

Bye Bye lovely villa!

This is the view from the side of Benji's parent's villa. It has such lovely gardens and I don't think it is until you are about to leave somewhere that you actually walk round all of your surrounding area and realise how much more there is to see. The villa was lovely and we were so grateful to have been able to stay in Benji's parents home away from home.

Nathan and I's bags all packed ready for the airport. We did two runs so that we could fit us and the luggage in. With Chick's Wind Surfing gear and Benji and Nathan being so tall we didn't fancy our chances trying to all get in together!

We met back up at the airport and after a delayed flight and a journey back from Newcastle to Edinburgh we got back home at about 2am with work in a few hours.... reality again!!

Final day of holiday

Me, Catriona and Caroline at the beach restaurant having lunch on our final day. We went down to the beach so that Chick could get in a little more kite surfing. It was so pleasant as it was lovely and windy at the beach and the facilities were great.
 Chick and Benji waiting for their lunch. I loved the cream and aqua curtains... and the pillows.
Nathan laying on the sun lounger near the beach restaurant. We had to pay for the sun loungers but the residents and guests of Aphrodite Hill (where we'd been for the Spa) got them for free.
 Benji and Catriona chilling out on the windy beach.
Catriona and I in the sea waving to the guys on the beach. I usually just swim in the pool and paddle in the sea but I made a wee exception as it was the end of the holiday!

Dinner in Pafos

After all our Come Dine with me nights we let someone else cook for a night. We all went to an Italian restaurant that Benji and Catriona have been to before. It was very tasty and we had delicious wine.

Pictured above is Catriona, Caroline and I in Pafos harbour with the Fort in the background.

Come Dine with Me- Take 3 (the drinking night!)

On the Sunday night Chick and Caroline hosted the 3rd and final Come Dine with Me evening. It was a great night and was by far the drunkest night of the holiday (as photos later in this post prove!) The night began with a treasure hunt. Each clue lead you to another location in and around the house and often the clue cards were accompanied by keys that opened various boxes/doors etc around the house. It was so much fun- we were like little kids!
Clue no3 was outside beside the massive satellite dish that we couldn't get to work all holiday (so no X factor watching for us girls and the boys missed the last day of the Ryder Cup!)
One of the clues was attached to a can at the bottom of the pool. Nathan was very gentlemanly and jumped in the pool to get the clue.
I worked out the last clue and had the key to open the door of the balcony to claim the prize but Benji jumped through the balcony window and snatched it before I could open the door. Very cheeky!
The treasure hunt was by far the most fun entertainment- although I did very much enjoy the 'I'd like a pound of bacon please' game the night before... future villa holidays should definitely involve similar activities... loved them!
Caroline and Catriona with the cocktail of the night- Gin Fizz... it was delicious (I love my Gin) and we actually made a batch of it for the rugby club Halloween party this past weekend. Great recipe! So I have two new cocktails up my sleeve- Gin Fizz and Espresso Martinis.
Caroline and Chick did a great meal of Grilled Hallomi cheese and prawn, cream cheese topped crostini starter followed by delicious Steaks with great veg to accompany... however I was clearly most impressed with the fact that they had bought cones, sprinkles and chocolate for the ice cream. Everyone had had ice-cream for desert but it was not due to be marked so those who had hosted before had not gone to as much effort. I think I loved it most because I had had no chocolate all holiday (almost a week by this point- a miracle!!)
After dinner the drinking games got underway. We played Ring of Fire and certain cards meant you had to swap clothes (as demonstrated above) eat as many marshmallows as you could fit into your mouth, drink shots, drink from your own drink, preform and so forth... it made for a very entertaining evening!!!
Looking good in my black bolero. Stuffing his face with marshmallows!
 Caroline trying to beat the previous record set.
Catriona correcting us that she had in fact got 5 marshmallows in her mouth not 4 as we suggested.
 More clothes swapping!
 Chick drinking his drink in Caroline's dress.
 Preforming a dance so I could go to the toilet!
 I believe this was a Rocky routine to gain entry to the bathroom.
 Oh dear! It got very messy! I think I went to bed not long after this shot was taken!
The aftermath! We had such a good night and lots of giggles. When we came down stairs the final forfeit dirty drink (in the large goblet on the table) was still there.... obviously it all got too much!

The local area now do great recycling.... which is really good... but not when you don't want to be reminded how much you have actually drunk!