Saturday, December 31, 2016

Tis the season - a photographic blogging challenge

End of December and the end of 2016 - how did that happen? It's time for the photographic blogging challenge where P.J at A 'lil Hoohaa posts a theme and we choose five photos to represent it. December's theme is 'tis the season' which I found relatively easy being a bit of a Christmas lover.

Here are my five photos:

1. Tis the season for santa to appear all over the place in various shapes and sizes, with and without lights.

2. Tis the season to go for walks along the beach at sunset whilst wearing multiple layers to keep warm.

3. Tis the season for shops to try and sell huge reindeers for hundreds of pounds - I always wonder what sort of people buy these, and where they store them for the rest of the year.

4. Tis the season for people to have all sorts of cute decorations on their front lawns which during the rest of the year would be considered garish and tacky.

5. Tis the season for bakeries to sell cakes that look like snowmen, santas, Christmas trees, and any other Christmas themed shapes you can think of.

Before you go, make sure you pop over to P.J's blog to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with for their five photos that represent this month's theme - click HERE to visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and have a wonderful 2017.

Pamela & Ken

Friday, December 30, 2016

Top Ten Thursdays - Our Blog in 2016

Thursday and it's time to come up with our top ten list with this week being about our blog in 2016. Thanks again to Tamara at Confessions of a part-time working mom for hosting this blog challenge.

2016 was our first year of living in Scotland so of course our blog featured that a lot this year as we explored and became more familiar with our new home. I discovered blogging challenges and also gave us the challenge of finding more and more fun days to blog about.

So here, in no particular order, is my top ten of our blog in 2016.

1. Goodbye London, Hello Scottish Highlands was our first post of the year, which was fitting as that was the predominant emotion in January - goodbyes with lots of new hellos.

2. The first blogging challenge I discovered was the A to Z challenge. Basically a post for all 26 letters of the alphabet on every day of April except for the Sundays. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Well, it was a challenge for a reason and I've learnt so many lessons to prepare me for April 2017. I think I'll start planning my posts in January this year. My favourite post for the challenge was for the letter Y, which was Young at heart - I think I really captured the heart of mine and Ken's relationship.

The post in the A to Z challenge that was viewed the most was, of course, Cats - no surprise to this crazy cat lady.

3. The next challenge I found was in May and it was the monthly photographic blogging challenge that is hosted by P.J. at A 'lil Hoohaa. P.J. posts the theme for the month on the 1st and we post our contributions on the last day of the month - five photos that we feel represent the theme. I think my favourite post I've done for this challenge was the month that the theme was baseball - not something that's very common in the Scottish Highlands, but I twisted the theme to suit me and was really happy with the results - have a look and see what you think by clicking HERE.

4. Selfies - I know some people hate these, but if it wasn't for selfies Ken and I would rarely have pictures taken together. I've done a count and was shocked to find that in 2016 we've included 53 selfies in our posts, and they're the ones that made the cut. Usually I have to take more than one as my beloved likes to pull faces to start with - don't worry, they're all saved away in case I need them in the future.

5. Our other recurring thing in 2016 (and probably every other year) is the amount of graveyards that have featured. This year we've blogged about 37 different graveyards!!! We've visited more than that but I haven't done all the posts yet. There's just something about old graveyards that appeal to me and I love spending time in them.

6. Most commented on post - surprise, surprise, it's Cats again. See it's true what they say, people spend all their time looking at cats on the internet.

7. The post I most enjoyed writing this year was Furbies make every day fun. I freely admit that I'm well on the way to being a crazy cat lady but they're not the only beasties that I have room for in my heart. Sadly we had to say goodbye to Muffin Monster in November so now we have the terrible two, Cookie and Bramble, who have a sort of love hate relationship.

8. The third challenge that I joined this year is Top Ten Thursdays which is hosted by Tamara at Confessions of a part-time working mom. Each week Tamara sets the theme and then we come up with our list of ten - as I'm doing now for this post. I love sitting down and trying to come up with my top ten and sometimes it's really hard to narrow it down to only ten, so I often have to employ my stranded on a desert island technique - if I could only have ten things, what would they be. My three favourite posts for this have been the first one I took part in, Top Ten 80's Songs (very difficult to cull down to ten), Top Ten things to know about me (very important), and Top Ten Plans (not always going the way we want).

9. Shockingly to me, we've had over 50,000 views of our blog from people all over the world. I hope that what I write isn't too boring and I hope that it makes people smile. Thank you to everyone who has joined us on our days of fun via the world wide web.

10. In September it was four years since I started our blog and this year I've managed to do 110 posts to date - that's more than double the best year I've done in the past. I'm loving having a chance to sit down and write about our days out and it motivates me to explore the world more and to find different ways of showing to to you.

So there you have it, my top ten for our blog in 2016. Why don't you pop over to Tamara's blog to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with - click HERE to visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and thanks for stopping by.

Pamela & Ken

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Time

I hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas day in whatever way you chose to spend it. We had a lovely morning together with the bratlets (Cookie and Bramble) and then we went round to Ken's sister's place for Christmas dinner with the family.

I was very brave this year and had my first attempt at making turkish delight for my beloved as it's one of his favourite sweets - it turned out quite good and Ken seems to like it.

We exchanged gifts and as always my gorgeous man spoiled me rotten. My mum sent us a lovely quilted bed runner (below) as she's incredibly clever when it comes to this craft.

One of my favourite pressies was from mum, and it is a packet of Mint Slices - my favourite biscuits in the whole world that aren't sold in the UK. My challenge now is to try and eke them out over a week so that they don't disappear too quickly.

Groovy Christmas socks from my friend Catarina - perfect for the day.

It was lovely spending the afternoon with Jean, Brian, Murray, Fergus, and Ken's brother David. It was also really nice to have some kitten therapy as Jean has just recently adopted two adorable kittens, so we were in our element. The black one is Dudley and the tortoiseshell one is Ivy.

Santa hat selfie.

Ivy looking adorable in my santa hat - I remember when our brats were that little and that they grow very quickly.

Uncle Ken with Dudley - he's slightly bigger than his sister and so adorable. We were very tempted to slip him into our bag as we were leaving but I think Queen Cookie might not have been impressed by that.

Love this sign that Jean has up in the window - you know I'm a big kid at heart when it comes to Christmas.

As Jean was cooking dinner we did the desserts - pavlova and mum's Christmas pudding. It looks a little ugly but that's because it's cooked for four hours in a cloth and finds it's own shape.

Look at gorgeous Paddy - she's learning the joys of having two kittens around the house, taking a lot of the fuss that she would normally get. Such a lovely dog.

Another picture of Ivy the cutie - can't wait to see how their personalities develop over the coming months.

Boxing day was a quiet day at home and then today we went for a walk at Ardersier. There was one brave soul out kite surfing in the cold weather.

Selfie with Princess Bramble Jelly - we managed to keep her away from the sea as it was a bit cold for that, though I'm sure she wouldn't have minded.

A gorse bush providing a splash of yellow amongst all the naked bushes.

I love the starkness of the bushes without their coverage - it totally suits the bleakness of the weather at this time of the year.

The sun setting over the firth.

Rugged up selfie.

So Christmas has come and gone again, now the countdown begins for next year - only 363 days until Christmas. We hope that you and the ones you love are safe and warm wherever you are.

Until next time be good, stay safe, and take time today to think about all the things you have to be grateful for this year.

Pamela & Ken

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Top Ten Thursday - Last Minute Christmas hacks

It's top ten Thursday (sorry I missed last week) and this week we're looking at last minute ideas to help Christmas go smoothly, whether that be Christmas hacks, last minute gift ideas, recipe ideas, etc. Thanks as always to Tamara at Confessions of a part-time working mom for hosting this blog challenge.

In August we did top ten life hacks (click HERE to view) and most of those could apply to the Christmas period, but I'm going to try and come up with a few others.

1. Florists and garden centres are a great place to get last minute gifts from, especially if you have friends and family with a green thumb. A selection of seeds, or a plant for the house or garden, or even a selection of pretty garden tools would all make lovely pressies.

2. Mince pies (the fruit type) are an absolute staple at Christmas and it helps to have a husband who like baking. My favourite mince pies are puff pastry ones and I love him even more for making them as his favourite are short crust - I'm a very lucky girl (I think I may have mentioned that once or twice before).

3. Amid the hubbub of Christmas and finishing work for the year it's always good to make time for a date out with your significant other - put it in your diary and make sure you stick to it. It helps you stay focused on what's really important at this time of the year, being with people you love.

4. When you're out shopping make sure you stock up on chocolates and easy gifts, along with present bags so that if you have unexpected visitors, or realise at the last minute that you've forgotten someone, then you have something to fall back on.

5. In the Northern Hemisphere it is winter at Christmas time, which after twenty years in the UK I'm finally used to, but this also means that the weather is a bit rubbish. Make sure that you're stocked up on candles, matches, and torch batteries in case the power goes out.

6. Similar to above, but think about how you're going to stay warm if the power goes out. We're very lucky and have an open fire in our lounge room, so if worst comes to worst we can cuddle up under a duvet on the sofa in front of the fire.

7. If, like us, you put out food for the local feathered population, then making sure you've got a supply for the Christmas period is really important. Native wildlife feel the effects of winter too so having a covered bird feeder is ideal but making sure it's stocked up is the most important.

8. An essential item at Christmas is wrapping paper, and the more glitter on it the better (my beloved doesn't agree as it drives him mad). If I'm organised enough I buy my Christmas paper in the January sales and then store it until needed in December.

9. A great, easy to make gift is coconut ice. Five ingredients and then you have scrummy, sweet goodness. All you need is: dessicated coconut, icing sugar, condensed milk, vanilla essence, and food colouring. The traditional colours are pink and white, but I have been know to include purple before.

10. Final thing that will help Christmas be as magical as possible is making sure you welcome Santa's elves into your home for the festive period. We have a lovely door for them and I'm sure they've been in sprinkling magic dust around.

So there you have it, my top ten of things to help with those last minute things you may have forgotten, or still need to do. Before you go, make sure you pop over to Tamara's blog to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with - click HERE to visit.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and have a good week.

Pamela & Ken

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas spirit in Ullapool

Today we went for a drive to Ullapool which is on the northwest coast of Scotland and 71 miles away from Nairn - here's a little map to show you where it is. We're the blue dot and the red marker is over Ullapool.

It's a lovely little town and it's been dressed up really nicely for Christmas. Here's a little teaser - guess what these lobster pots have to do with the festive season.

The town sits on Loch Broom and hosts the music festival Loopallu (see what they've done there - turned the name around) each year - it's on our list of things to do in 2017 and is held at the end of September.

We found a lovely little fixer upper that sits on the front facing the loch - it's just a little remote for work.

We had a lovely lunch in the Arch Inn and whilst there read about a competition that was running where school children had made advent calendars and they were displayed in various businesses around the town. We managed to find four of them with my favourite being the gingerbread house.

In the park there were these three boats with sails made out of lights - really nice.

Fish and water themed park bench.

Lots of the boats around the harbour are it up for Christmas which is really lovely - it's nice to see a community coming together to make their town look so pretty.

Christmas tree at the entrance to the harbour.

We stopped at the Ceilidh Place for coffee and a mince pie - it's a lovely pub/hotel and even has a bookshop attached to it. It was so nice to get out of the cold and enjoy the wood burner that was kicking out quite a lot of heat.

Now back to those lobster pots. Ullapool has a fabulous town Christmas tree made out of lobster pots and instead of a star or angel on top they've got a crab. It's uniquely fabulous.

We of course had to stay until the lights were turned on so that we could enjoy the quirky beauty.

When it became dark we noticed even more boats that were lit up out in the loch.

We loved the way they've hung up the Christmas lights in the shape of boat sails - when you looked along the front of the town it looked very impressive and very festive.

The boats in the park showing up more in the dark.

 A house that we passed on the way home - what the picture doesn't show is that the lit up deer in front of the house was moving it's head back and forth.

On the way home we stopped at a local supermarket for a few things and enjoyed the artistic talents of one of the local schools. There were several notice boards covered with different pictures from the various age groups. For my Tassie family and friends you'll notice that the village has a very familiar name.

That's it for today - only seven days until Santa Claus comes to visit. Until next time be good (especially important at this time of year), stay safe, and have a wonderful week.

Pamela & Ken

P.S: Final shot is a beautiful sunset that we spotted yesterday when we were out for a drive.