Saturday, 30 November 2013

Saturday Snaps and an Advent Preview

This week's Saturday snap-: A photograph, each Saturday- Quirky or Serious?, Fun or Interesting?, Real or Abstract? 
 
A winter gathering of Geese, Caelaverock, Dumfries and Galloway.
 
And now for something different!:
 
The other day I was browsing other people's blog's looking for inspiration. I was on the hunt for some new challenges and ideas to liven up my blog. I wanted to do something for advent and the Countdown to Christmas. In amongst hundreds of ideas for making children's advent calendars, or making lists  of advent activities- I found a photo challenge- A virtual Advent calendar.
 
Now, I don't know about you- but still at my age, there are a few things that make Christmas Christmas- and advent calendars are one of them.
 
 (I think Blue Peter had a lot to do with this- The making of the advent wreath 5 weeks before Christmas was an episode I was glued to. How 2 coat hangers and a bit of tinsel were transformed into a piece of Christmas wonderment was beyond me!) But once that wreath was hung up, and the first candle was lit- well Christmas really had started. 
 
 Now I often disguise the fact that I buy an advent calendar for the kids in my class- and sure enough I do, but it's actually me, who likes to open those little windows and see what's inside! 
Long before the days of chocolate advents, the little doors hid secret pictures and I loved to find out what was behind each one- You always knew that December 24th was going to be some variation of a Nativity scene- but that didn't stop me wanting to open it.
 
So the prospect of making my own was too good to pass by.
Posting a Christmas image everyday was the brainchild of Josie and  KCs Court Julie
An invite to post something Christmassy, whether it be a found image, clips, or photos of your own, seems an exciting way to countdown until Christmas- And so I joined up!
 
For each day in December, in the countdown to Christmas, I'm going to post one of my photos. Now they may just be as they are, or I might have a play around with them- but whatever takes my fancy will result in a little picture to share- and just like opening those little doors- you'll never know what you might find!
Here's to December 1st!

P.S For those who are waiting to find out what this was-
 
Well, you'll find it was indeed an elephant! Now I haven't got a picture of the complete elephant- but I have one very similar so you can get the idea of what it looked like. It belonged to a group of elephants on parade in Singapore:)
 
See you tomorrow!
Amanda

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Creative Cookie Exchange-Make Ahead Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Another month and joining in with The Spiced Life and athomewithrebecka with The creative Cookie Exchange
 The theme for this month was 'make ahead'. Here are some make ahead Chocolate Chip Cookies.
 This must be on of the most simplest recipes ever- and one that I had fun making too- I had a little help whilst babysitting my friend's little girl- we decided to go ahead and make some cookies.
Such a simple recipe, even a child could do it! I had a little help:)
 As you may know, my oven decided to die a death and so oven less, I had to resort to keeping the mixture in the fridge until they could get baked.
This worked perfectly- The mixture keeps happily in the fridge, covered, for about a week, but if you want to make these ahead and freeze them- that works too- just shape the mixture into balls, freeze and then bake as required.
 
Chocolate Chip Cookies

350g Self- raising Flour
100g Chocolate chip cookies
170g Condensed milk
225g unsalted butter
225g Caster sugar
Preheat oven to 180 c (160 for fan ovens) Gas Mark 4

In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar and condensed milk until light and fluffy
Mix in the flour until a soft dough and then mix in chocolate chips.

Roll the dough into walnut size balls and place on baking sheet- flatten them down slightly. Space well apart as they will spread.

Bake for 12-15 mins

The dough will keep happily in the fridge for a week or so- or freeze the dough balls and bake when required.

 

Enjoy x

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

A full of Words and Pics Wednesday! - Charity Cake Sale

A bit different from my usual wordless Wednesday- a few words and pictures this week instead.
Last week our sixth form decided to organise a cake sale in order to raise funds for those that were affected by the typhoon in the Philippines.
 
A mass bake was made by children, parents and staff and then brought into school to sell at break time.
 

 
It was probably the largest charity cake sale we've held. It was certainly one with the most cakes to buy!
It all ran smoothly and everyone benefited- from those who will receive the money- to us, who got to eat the cakes!

We had so many cakes to sell, we ended up selling them later in the afternoon too.
The collection boxes were around all day, to receive donations as well as cake money.
Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves!
And our school rock band made an appearance

So all in all, a fun and worthwhile morning.
After the sale and other donations being handed in over 7000RM was raised- which works out about 1300-1400 pounds. Not bad for a morning's work:)
Until Next time
Amanda x

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

10 Things Tuesday- Quilts




In a previous time-Before I came to Borneo- I did in fact spend a lot of time making quilts and other patchwork. The absence of my sewing machine- and indeed decent fabric to sew with, has meant that this one particular hobby has been put on the back burner for a while. Whilst I was in North Carolina , surrounded by traditions of quilting and the most amazing collections of fabric, I self taught myself to sew patchwork. They were a not particularly well made, nor technically correct but I loved playing around with designs and began to make quilts for my family. My apartment was a constant mess of fabric pieces strewn all the floor and the incessant hum of the sewing machine.
I've made a few more since- and have even sold a couple of smaller pieces. One of my favourites now sits on the base of my bed here in KK, reminding me that one day i shall have to get back to sewing:)

So here we go 10 things Tuesday- 10 quilty things:) 
1.
 One of my earliest, nothing too complicated!
2.
 Another simple one- my sister's festival throw - now proudly installed in Humphrey, the VW Camper,  to grace festivals and camping trips up and down the country. All the fabric pieces were chosen with festivals in mind- so there are wellies, food, camper vans, fireworks and funky stuff. I also transferred some photos on there too
3.
 An African Wall hanging. This was an off shoot (!) of the Double quilt below, using left over fabrics. I made it as a gift for friends of mine, whose Ugandan Charity I'm connected with. It now decorates the wall of a Bunkhouse / Hostel up in the Lake District.
 A Bit of a close up
4.
 This is one of my favourite quilts - and one that I gave away! I love using the Medallion quilt patterns, having a large piece of fabric in the centre. This was given as a gift to my friends with who I used to go to Uganda with- so it was very apt.
 5.
 This is my mum's quilt- Blues, greens and birds- all on a twist. Each of the centre fabrics have birds on them, albeit in different guises. Although it was a little tricky to work out the pattern at first, I really enjoyed making this one too :)
6.
 My Grandma loves poppies, so when I saw a Kaffe Fassett Pattern using stylised flowers, I knew I could make this- It was fun trying to find poppy fabric but I did find a few different ones.
 7.
 Another bird one- This time for my Dad, It's actually the same pattern as the poppy quilt, just with different applique. I used lots of the same bird fabric that I used on my mum's quilt, but then just went for more masculine blues.
 8.
 This has to be my favourite- It was one of the first ones I made- It's the largest and one that seemed to take forever to make. My sister wanted one that had a very vintage feel to it- and so i obliged:)
 9.
Firstly apologies for the photo- now matter how hard I try I can't seem to get the colour balance right on this one- it was taken in Lizzie's bedroom- with the smallest, dullest overhead light around. - But as she is in England and I'm over here, I'm not going to be able to get clearer one!
 The photo doesn't do the quilt any justice in terms of pattern or colour, but in reality it looks really good.

 
It's another medallion quilt, primarily purples with a hint of turquoise.This was the first medallion quilt I made, again based on a Kaffe Fassett pattern, and aside from piecing the little squares together, the strips make this a real easy quilt to make.
10.


One of these days I may get round to making myself a proper full size quilt for me, rather than everyone else. I have enough fabric and ideas stashed away to make rather a few!


 Until then, I have this one,
using remnants of fabric from all the other quilts I have made.

 Until next time, 
Amanda x

Monday, 25 November 2013

52 Weeks of Happy

Well, I hope everyone has had a great week- I had lots of nice happy moments this weekand thought Id share a few as I join in with Jen at littlebirdie for 52 weeks of Happy.
Wk 47
18th- 24th 
 
 We held a bake sale at school this week to raise money for the Philippine disaster fund. What's not to like about eating cake and raising money at the same time:)


 
  I received a very nice bottle of wine and beautiful flowers this week as a thank you for babysitting B. Not that I wanted, expected or needed anything- as it was a fun evening- and one that we both enjoyed- We baked, we jumped on the bed, we danced around the living room and watched The Princess and the Frog. A definite 'Happy' for this week.
  
 
A evening at a beading workshop- Like a kid in a candy store, trying to pick the beads I wanted to use was such a hard decision -but it led to an enjoyable evening:)

Another beautiful  sunset here in KK. I will never tire of watching them, nor take photos of them:)
 
Making and baking and Eating- Ok so I cheated and have more than 4 photos- but I couldn't resist as my oven worked- and I was able to bake!!!- I think it must be a loose wire somewhere- but anyway for a short while it works- so back to baking-
a batch of chocolate Chip cookies and a veggie quiche. The end photo I have no claim over except that I ate it- a gorgeous pork with cider and prunes for Sunday lunch! Yummy!

Until tomorrow, when I return with 10Things Tuesday- Quilts
Amanda x

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Saturday Snaps and a Sunshine Award

Firstly My Saturday Snap- Today is Lizzie's 18th Birthday and so I thought I would honour her Birthday with a snap.
She's the nearest thing I have to having a daughter of my own, and technically being the daughter of my twin- she and I share almost identical DNA! Well her mother's half anyway:)
18 years ago, not long after she was born, I wheeled her up the hallway of the hospital, from the operating Theatre (Caesarean!) to the Nursery.
I'd given her a little red plush hippo, who we called Hester, which was at the bottom of the cot, and I sang '5 little men in a flying Saucer' to her, all the way up the corridor.

So tonight, when she is all glammed up and out on the town celebrating her new adult status, It's nice to know that Hester is still there, on a shelf in her Bedroom and that the flying saucer song will always be 'Ours'.
 Happy 18th Birthday Lizzie!


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zOJUQYYHdNo/UoYDpq4LYnI/AAAAAAAAGB8/UHlaACHiYl0/s1600/sunshine-award+(320x193).jpg
 
Now onto my second lot of good news- I was very pleased and honoured to have been awarded a Sunshine award for my blog, presented to me by Amy at Lovemademyhome.
Sunshine Awards are presented to Bloggers who bring a little sunshine to our lives and inspire others. It's nice to think that I have done that- as I know that there are many that inspire me. Have a click on her link above to see who else she has nominated- It will take you to lots of lovely, individual and sunshine award worthy inspiration.
 
 There are a few simple rules:-

1) Include the award logo in your blog post.

2) Link to the person who nominated you.

3) Answer 10 questions about yourself.

4) Nominate other bloggers.

Amy had 10 questions for her nominees- Mostly on a blogging theme- So here are my thoughts on blogging and a bit more information about me.
 
How long have you been blogging? and Why did you start?
I started blogging in February this year, Chinese New Year to be exact. It was a very short post and of course it had one of my obligatory photos- If you missed it, you can have a look here. I'd missed our own New Year by a few weeks, but still felt that my new blog should start with something special to write about. There had been a dragon and lion dance parading through the streets earlier, so I decided to write about that. I didn't really know what my blog would entail, what the general themes would be or even how it would turn out, but I went ahead and started writing anyway. I started the blog primarily so that I could join in with some of the photo challenges I had seen in Blogland. I loved taking photos, had a fair few to share and wanted the challenge of looking for other things to do. Once I started blogging however, I realised that not only do I enjoy it-putting thoughts on paper and sharing photos- but that it's a great way to keep in touch with old friends and new ones I've made along the way.  
 
What's the best thing about blogging?
Meeting, albeit, in blogland, other bloggers and finding really great blogs to follow, read, digest and share ideas with. On a more personal level-I find that by blogging and posting photos, at least some friends and family can catch a glimpse of what I'm up to- and as I'm a terrible friend and never manage to email or facebook people as often as I like, then this hopefully gives then something to go on!
 
What's the worst thing about blogging?
Technology!- There are still things I want to do with my blog and don't know how to- technology is not my strong point! AND, a definite AND, the intermittent internet service we seem to encounter here in KK- Just when you think everything is ok, the connection becomes too slow or you lose it all together!- I'm learning to be patient!
 
Do you make New Year Resolutions and why?
I half heartedly make them- but then never stick to them- Then again as a teacher, New Year starts in September too and so I tend to make them then as well- and still break them! It's a bit of a pointless exercise with me really. I do tell myself the same things over and over (just like I imagine many people do each year- get fitter, eat less etc etc) but actually I tend to stick to things that have come about, outside of New Year. My big resolution, that came about when I first moved over here, was- 'try not to turn down new opportunities or say no'- whether it was dinner out, a new place to visit or a untried activity-I've always tried to say yes- and for me it worked- It is what making the most of life here in KK is all about.
 
What is your favourite blog?
That's a hard one- as I tend to flit back and forward between many- I love following a whole host of different blogs- some are lifestyle and photo based, some are more crafty based, just whichever takes my fancy. I do have a tendency to stick to less known blogs though- It's nice to read other's blogs that only have a few followers rather than some that have hundreds- if people take the time to write a blog then I'd rather be one of a few that read it, rather than one of many, who follow the more popular blogs. I hope that makes sense. Saying that I love foxlane-Which has nearly 2000 followers- The posts are so eloquent and the photography is fantastic-I love Kate's sense of composition and style. So wish I had even a fraction of it:)
 
If you could have a guest poster on your blog who would you choose?
Wow, another hard one, seriously I wouldn't know- maybe we should all guest blog each other's blogs for a change? :)
 
Your favourite movie star?
I would love to be one of those people who say classic stars such as Audrey Hepburn or Jimmy Stewart- Both of which are worthy in their own right- But I'm much more of a popular culture type of gal
I loved Harrison Ford when he played Indie- The all time action hero, but as things stand I have many favourite actors- I love Rom coms,(Sad but true!) so as actresses go, Sandra Bullock, Katherine Heigl, Reese Witherspoon etc will always draw me to watch a movie- Actors- well- Any man who stars in Rom Coms earns Brownie points in my book! Mathew McConaughey, Patrick Dempsey, Hugh Grant, Ryan Reynolds- all get the go ahead, probably just as eye candy rather than acting skills- but hey, call me fickle! Saying that Heath Ledger, Bless him, had a lot going for him and Morgan Freeman rarely makes a bad movie.
Sorry that was a really long answer for a very short question!!
 
Your favourite music?
Oh dear, another short question, Long answer! I'm not some one who listens to music a whole lot - I definitely go through phrases of what I listen to and how often- I like a whole eclectic mix of music- all depends on what I'm doing or where I am.
When I lived in North Carolina, the only music that seemed to be around was the country music scene- so I listened to and loved a lot of the new country stuff- Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw- Don't get me started on how fit he looks in Cowboy boots and a Stetson! But recently I just listen to anything that the local radio has going on- and that means anything from regular pop, to K pop and a lot of Asian stuff. I have discovered, a few years later than most people, the great world of Mash ups and so for someone like me who can't make her mind up of what she likes- Norweigan Recycling- means I don't have to- it's all there in the same song!
I do love any score by John Williams though- they are uplifting, calming and moving all at the same time-The score to Jurassic Park gets to me every time!
 
Your favourite book?
Where do I start?...For years I would say Captain Correlli's Mandolin, but not really sure why. I had to read a lot of classics at Uni and would like to say that a classic would be a book of choice- but again I'm more fickle-I tend to like authors rather than single books, and read almost anything. There are many, many books I have loved- and often go through a phase of reading everything by one author. Thrillers/ Crime novels are often interspersed with chic lit- so just about anything goes. Some stand out though as favourite rereadables though- anything by Lee Child, Kathy Reichs, James Patterson (Although some are just silly) on the crime front, any chic lit (Again, sorry, it's readable tripe!) and throw into the mix a little Diana Gabledon, RJ Ellory and JK Rowling!
I do however still have a soft spot for a bit of Shakespeare and whether its the playscript or a modern retelling for kids, I often go back to my favourites of 'Twelfth Night', 'Midsummer's" and the "Scottish Play'!
 
There you go a not so concise set of answers- You know I can talk for England at the best of times!
 
Echoing Amy's comment about being nominated for awards- I fully understand if this is not your thing and don't want to carry on and participate further. I would hate anyone to feel pressured to take part, but if you want to give a little more insight into your life- then that would be great- I'd still love your blog anyway:)

If you do accept, then here are a few little totally random things I'd like to find out- Cos I'm nosy that way:)
 
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What was your favourite pastime as a child?
If you didn't live where you are now- where would you like to live?
What would your ideal evening in be?
What's your favourite food?
Where was your best holiday?
If you could learn a new skill what would it be?
If you could travel anywhere in the world, without any restrictions on money, time or responsibilities, where would you go?
If you could live in one era of history, when would that be?
If you have one piece of advice that was given to you and that could be passed onto others- what would it be.
 
Hope they are not too hard?
 
Here are my Nominees: In no particular order:
 
Greenthumb at Madewithlove
Julie at homejules
Marianne at ladybirddiaries
 
 
I apologise for all those I haven't nominated, not that I think your not worthy of an award, far from it-but I have to stick to ten! So I've deliberately chosen blogs that have fewer followers than others, to spread the word -so to speak. I hope you understand.Why not pop over and have a look.
 Happy Reading.
Amanda x

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Midmonth Musings- The Simple Women's Day Book

Today I'm joining with a new meme for me, The Simple Woman's Daybook. I stumbled across this via Eileen at in my playroom -a fellow photo scavenger hunt follower and really liked the idea, which all came from this site-  thesimplewomansdaybook. 
As you know, I'm much more of a photo person , than a wordy person, but thought it was about time I added a little bit of variety to my blogposts. There are very loose rules about how often people post, but I decided just to do it monthly,somewhere round the middle of the month this month, when things tend to be a little bit quite. So here are my thoughts and Midmonth musings for November.

FOR TODAY

Outside my window...It is pouring down! It's been torrential for the last couple of hours but has now subsided to just a light rain. Obviously being in the tropics it rains a lot- and usually later in the afternoons and evening. The clouds are grey and heavy and the light is fading. It will be dark within the hour,(It's 5:30 now) and I can hear birds tweeting along, as they begin to roost for the night.

I am thinking...about lots of changes that will be happening over this next year, and about making the most of my time here in South East Asia

I am thankful...That I have a job that I love, one that  allows me to live in a great part of the world and with family that support me in doing what I do. I am thankful that for the time being, I have a simple and very selfish life, with really only myself to consider. Being on your own on the opposite side of the world, does have it's advantages, when you only have yourself to think about. So I am thankful that I can appreciate this now, knowing that this will not always be the case.

In the kitchen...I have a sink full of dishes after making chocolate chip cookies at school and bringing home the bowls. The ingredients for a quiche are laid out, ready for when I get the urge to go and make it and in a while there'll be a pot of pasta on the boil, that become the mainstay of my dinner.

I am wearing...A grey and green floral skirt from Whitestuff, a sage green fat face t shirt, grey ballet pumps and a bead necklace I made at a workshop on Monday evening! I actually decided what to put on in order to match the necklace!

I am creating...A mess! I'm in the midst of a wardrobe purge- too many clothes, that are too old, or too big- so my bedroom floor looks like a jumble sale! 
Other than that I am starting to make some little felt Christmas decorations and also trying to finish a cross stitch that I found lurking in some cupboard or other.

I am going..to declutter my apartment- starting with the aforementioned wardrobe and moving onto the rest of my bedroom- How on earth I have managed to accumulate so many clothes shoes and accessories in 2 and a half years is a bit of a mystery (Well actually it isn't for those who know my shopping habits!) but I must do something about it. We had a clothes swap party a few months ago- it maybe time for another one. 

I am also going to try and organise my computer files- back them up, sort them out and try and delete a few to find some space on my hard drive- The thought of doing this fills me with dread- where on earth do I start?

I am wondering..What to do with my holidays this next year- so many places to go, so little time- or money-to do it!.

I am reading... the next book on my book club list- "The 100 year old man that climbed out of the window..", I know I have a deadline to read it, but I'm getting side tracked into reading a thriller or two as well!!

I am hoping...to buy an oven this weekend- my last one gave up the ghost a couple of weeks ago and I am itching to get back to baking things. I keep popping round to my friends apartments to use theirs!

I am looking forward to..getting all those little jobs done around the house that I've been meaning to do-I'm obviously in that sort of mood! 
I'm trying not to look forward to the Christmas Holidays this early- as then, the time will drag.

I am learning..Not to get distracted by other things when on the internet, when I should be doing work. My marking pile is getting higher whilst i get seduced by lovely looking blogs and websites that are far more colourful and creative than this weeks math's assignments- I must do better!!!

Around the house...There's a big pile of marking on the dining room table glaring at me, clothes and jewellery are scattered on the spare room bed. I can hear the shouts of kids in the swimming pool (despite the rain) a distant rendition of Jingle Bells, being played on my neighbour's piano - (Obviously practicing early!) and the thud, thud, thud of a ball being bounced down on the wet basketball court.

I am pondering...What I really want my next few years to look like... 5 year plans have never been a strong point- in fact planning for anything- full stop!

A favourite quote for today...


One of my favourite things...Just sitting on the balcony in the morning sun with a cup of tea- It only happens at weekends!

A few plans for the rest of the week / Month-
I must organise a trip to Sarawak for my friends and I for February. The whole process of finding flights and accommodation via the internet is a biggie!
To go and get my eyes tested- age is catching up with me!
To try to fit in some yoga sessions and hit the treadmill once again- albeit- very slowly.
To make some different cookies and a quiche
To go to the Cinema to watch the second Hunger Games movie
To babysit for my friend's little two year old
To complete ( and then remember to upload ) various photo challenges.
A peek into my day...

Breakfast at my desk:6:45, What I'm wearing, Maths lesson, Teaching Literacy, A writing session. Cooking with the after school baking club, Last car out of the car park about 5:15, A rainy evening so watching dvds and marking maths!
So there you are - My first Simple Woman's Daybook.
Until Next time,
Amanda :)