2012 will be the year I...

♥ Learn how to relax

♥ Put the above into practice

♥ Stop stressing over the small stuff

♥ Expand my shop

♥ Tone up

♥ Spend more time doing nothing as opposed to doing everything all at once

♥ Take part in Race for Life for the 3rd time

♥ Decide what I really want to do with my life career-wise

♥ Use eye cream on a regular basis (I will be turning 27 after all!)

♥ Cook a Sunday roast (successfully)
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It’s dog flu season, so Xi Shi will be protecting her immune system, in part, by wearing her new coat and boots.  Don't be too quick to laugh at doggie boots because dogs lose heat through their feet so let's keep those little paws warm. 

Canine Influenza was identified by the Center for Disease Control in 2005.  So it is a relatively new influenza, a serious problem for dogs only, not transferable to their humans.

Although it is true that nobody catches a cold by being cold, the challenges to the body, like sustained cold and wet, can challenge the immune system.  Protecting the body’s first line of defense - the skin and temperature maintenance - is part of dog longevity.

If your dog displays any symptoms, don’t wait around.  You need a vet and the necessary antibiotic (Clavamox) to assist in dealing with this viral illness.

Things to look for are:  sleepiness, lack of appetite, a runny nose and, finally, a cough.  Short nosed dogs (like Shih Tzus) may never get to the cough because their passages are so small, so don’t “wait and see.”  The virus itself weakens the system allowing secondary bacterial infections to thrive, which is where the Clavamox comes in.  This seemingly mild respiratory problem can progress to pneumonia, so too much “wait and see” can be dangerous.

Zi Shi Quan and I want to wish everybody a happy, healthy New Year and lots of winter fun!

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I'm in love with this in every way...

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Christmas party 2011.

For this year's Christmas party (as the dresses in my cupboard are all too big for me now) I had the task of finding a new dress to wear. After several weeks of trawling the shops and ASOS I became fed up of the sight of dresses, but then finally I found the perfect thing in River Island - a little black scoop back dress with flecks of glitter. Perfect for the party season.

I teamed the dress with black tights, gold and black heels, and a little black bag which was also from River Island but from the kids section. It matched the dress and was only £14!

For the first time in my whole existence I was quite pleased with how my hair and makeup turned out, so I thought I would share a few photos and tell you a bit about the products I used. 

Backcomb in a Bottle

I saw the kerfuffle about this product when it first came out but I didn't jump on the bandwagon, and by the sounds of it this stuff was quite hard to come across anyway. I picked up a little bottle in Boots recently to try it out and my first impressions were "hmm, it isn't making any difference". I think I expected it to be quite heavy and sticky, but actually I couldn't feel it on my hair at all.

I thought it had been a bit of a waste of money but on the night of the Christmas party I did the following: blow dried my hair upside down, used my straighteners to create slight waves in places, tied my hair up whilst I did my make up, then let it down and used Backcomb in a Bottle on the roots (then I ruffled up those areas to create a bit of lift). The result = just the right amount of volume and no more flat, boring hair! Roll on New Years Eve so I can use this again.

Barry M Eye Crayon in brown

I don't get on very well with eyeshadow so I picked up a Barry M chunky eye crayon in brown and used this to line my eyes and add a slight flick at the edges. I was impressed with the colour transfer and the staying power, and would definitely recommend.

Estee Lauder Double Wear

I swear by this makeup for covering up the scars on my face and generally making my skin look much better than it really is. I used Double Wear liquid foundation (colour: Fresco), Double Wear concealer and used a light dusting of Double Wear powder foundation (colour: Fresco) over the top to stop any shine. I also applied plenty of Hoola Bronzer over the top to avoid the dreaded "ghost face". 


My favourite 'night out' perfume - Flowerbomb by Victor & Rolf

St Tropez 'Everyday' Gradual Tan

I can't stand streaky, orange tans so this is the perfect product for me. I used it a few nights in a row leading up to the party and it gave me a subtle glow (and helped to dust away some of those pasty Winter-skin cobwebs!)

How did you prepare for your Christmas party?
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Santa's little helpers.

Not only did my Mum have me to help with the Christmas dinner this year, but she had 2 little reindeers. By help I mean they tried to climb in the oven/dishwasher/etc and got under everyone's feet. But they're so cute. You gotta love em :)

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I love welcoming a new year.  It's one of  my favorite holidays.  The New Year means a new beginning for many people.  Resolutions are made and people commit to making their lives better in some way.

While a lot of people who make New Year's Resolutions do break them, research shows that making resolutions is useful.  People who make New Year's Resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don't explicitly make resolutions.  It doesn't have to be hard if we remember that a resolution is light-hearted, something you do for fun.  A guideline, rather than a hard-and-fast line.

Here are some ideas I have.  Please feel free to post your resolutions in the comments below!  I’d love to hear them.

<3 Make 3 new friends
Go out of your way to meet new people.  Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.

<3 Take a risk
Every day, if you can handle it!   I mean things like… tell people how you feel about them, do something you fear, or start your own business. Taking risks helps to keep you youthful, as well as preventing your life from becoming a yawn-inducing routine.

<3 Master a party trick
No one knows party tricks any more! In the 70s, it seemed like everyone had some strange skill that they could show off at parties — weird stomach contortion, juggling, complicated origami, and push-up demonstrations were all popular. But these days, you see nothing of the sort.  Decide to learn some strange skill that you can demonstrate at a moment’s notice.

<3 Start yoga or meditation
It doesn't have to cost money or even take a lot of time. You can download all kinds of yoga videos and borrow books on meditation from the library for nothing.  Both activities are really good for your body and mind.

<3 Learn something new
Have you vowed to make this year the year to learn something new?  Perhaps you are considering a career change, want to learn a new language, or just how to fix your computer?  Whether you take a course or read a book, you'll find education to be one of the easiest, most motivating New Year's resolutions to keep.

<3 Actively promote equality and civil rights
An important issue for all of us is the status of civic equality and civil rights.   We should commit ourselves to the pursuit of equal civil rights for all.  There must also be a moral component to this because in order to help improve society, we must promote a moral and just conception of our community.  Equality and full civil rights must be established for all citizens, whatever their faith or lack thereof.

<3 Develop an intellectual curiosity 
A healthy intellectual curiosity serves us well in many ways.  It stimulates your brain, exercises your research skills, and in the process, makes you a smarter and more interesting person.  It doesn’t matter what you decide to become curious about as long as you have some honest initial interest and a willingness to investigate.  In my opinion, participating in this little endeavor is a great wellness prescription for your life.  A healthy intellectual curiosity should be a regular mental exercise.  Just like physical fitness, it will create a healthier and more wellness-oriented life.  So, if you want to add a little spice to your life, I highly recommend you take action and nurture some healthy intellectual curiosity!

If you try to change everything all at once, you end up changing nothing. You spread yourself and your focus too thin. Think of the one thing that is the most important for you to change in your life, and make that your one resolution.

Good luck to you and Happy New Year.

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Decorating for Christmas.

This post should have gone up before Christmas Day but unfortunately Jonathan had an accident playing roller hockey on Friday evening and after spending the morning of Christmas Eve in a hospital, blogging was the last thing on my mind. He is going to be okay with time though, so that's good news. Nothing is broken! He has badly bruised a muscle in his lower back and will struggle to do normal things for a while. And sport is certainly off the cards!

The past month or so has been pretty manic for us in our new home and Christmas decorations had to take a back burner while we sorted everything else out. But on a much needed day off the Monday before Christmas we decided to source a Christmas tree and some decorations, and after settling on a red and white theme we filled our basket with baubles and tinsel.

We're really pleased with our tree - not bad for our first one together! Over time we will collect more baubles and decorations and make our home cosy and Christmassy.

After my lovely American friend Alexandra sent me some Yankee Candles I have become obsessed and can't wait to get my hands on some more. The problem is I can't make a decision on which fragrances I'd like for each room! I have been burning Christmas Cookie pretty much non stop since I got it and it really relaxes me (and of course makes the room smell wonderful!) I am definitely going to get some more to dot around the house.

I bought some delightful decorations from an Etsy seller and even though it is obviously too late to get your hands on any for this Christmas you should definitely keep her in mind for next year. She also sells supplies and non-Christmas bits and bobs so go and have a nosy! The things I bought are really well made and extremely cute. I especially love my snowman complete with pom pom scarf. I will definitely be back for more!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day.
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Have yourself a merry little Christmas.

From  Lily, Lola, Jonathan and little old me, have a wonderful Christmas Day. 

Eat, drink, be merry, and I'll see you on the other side!

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WINTER SOLSTICE: Celebrating the Return of the Light

This, the eve of winter, is the most sacred time of year, although for many of us it has been obliterated by the mall call of Black Friday sales and discounts, warrior-style traffic and other holiday encumbrances.

I, for one, have always loved the deep winter because it provides a refuge from the harshness outside, an interior time to think, write, and dream. The longest night of the year, December 21st, marks the return of the light in many cultures and civilizations past.

Lighting fires and candles is always the way I welcome the Solstice and the return of the light, which inevitably leads into celebrations around the New Year at my house.  A riotous New Year’s Eve is not for me. I prefer quieter times with intimate friends. We also have a family ritual where we write down our wishes and intentions for the year on little pieces of paper, and, saying them to ourselves silently, surrender them to the fire.

A Happy Winter Solstice to everyone.
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Here are some videos of us at the State Park near our home.

Grand Isle, LA - State Park and beach views.

Xi Shi Quan likes to climb up on picnic tables.  She knows several tricks and I've always wanted to video them but it's hard to do so and hold the camera.  

Xi Shi running free and off leash.  She looks back at me several times, unsure if she is free or not, waiting for a command.  I love to see her on her own and am getting more confident that she will come to me when called.

Grand Isle Pavillion and beach.  We spend a lot of time on this covered deck which is not far from our site.  Great views, always a  breeze, and outside shower to wash off the sand.

Wave action as seen from the fishing pier.

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I'm finally getting used to the iPhone and video camera but still a novice.   Here are some of the best of my attempts.  Click on "Watch on Youtube" to see full screen version.

Indianola Beach Texas was a delight.  My pillows on the bed were mere feet from the water and the sound of the lapping waves was so relaxing.

Xi Shi enjoying the surf.   It was really hard to video her while she ran around in circles from happiness.

IB Magee Beach Texas - Sitting in our front yard - and what a front yard it was.  The best reason for coming to Texas is to be this near the Gulf.

Ferry ride from Port Aransas to Aransas Pass, Texas on my way back home.  Strange feeling being in the RV over water but exciting as well.
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Shop update (Christmas orders & new charms).

Just a quick update to say that any orders as of 5.30pm yesterday onwards will not be guaranteed to arrive before Christmas unfortunately (I updated the shop banner to say so, but I wanted to make sure it had been spotted). This is due to an overwhelming amount of orders which has been fantastic! But I am a busy bee ensuring the orders placed before 5.30 yesterday are all popped in the post before the Royal Mail deadline.

You can still continue to place your orders and they will be dispatched at the soonest possible moment. Cross charms, heart charms and evil eye beads are out of stock at the moment but will be back very soon. If you'd like me to let you know when they're back in just send me a message through my shop or Twitter, etc.

In the meantime, please have a look at my new charms and happy shopping!

tiny silver owl friendship bracelet

silver 'wish' charm friendship bracelet

 silver dragonfly friendship bracelet
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Gone too soon.  A tireless supporter of human rights and a fighter of dogma under any guise.
I will forever be grateful for the impact he has had on my life and the lives of so many others.  His writings, his speeches, his courage, his humor, his mockery, his courtesy, his unapologetic tone in opposition to the insanity of this world... they were empowering. 
Hitch showed me that superstition could be challenged without fear, that people can see their own blip of an existence and still be filled with gratitude and awe, and that life is too short to surrender any opportunity to fight for our convictions.

It's a heartbreaking day, but for the life and influence of Christopher Hitchens, I am thankful.

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Woke up to sun shinning through my bedroom window and it turned out to be a perfectly georgeous day.  I rolled out my awning which I hadn't done in months and sat outside to enjoy my morning coffee.

Caiche' and Bunny watching a little bird on the picnic table.

My friend Pat came over this morning to take me to the boat dock for some fresh shrimp.  We first went over to his place and I helped him unload a sofa that he picked up for one of his rental properties.   Then we headed to the boat dock.

Xi Shi goes crazy when she sees Pat.  He has to pick her up and she makes these strange vocal sounds trying to communicate with him.  It's so strange to see her act that way with somebody besides me. 

There are 3 containers of shrimp of different sizes to choose from.  I bought 6 pounds of the largest ones.  I want to freeze a couple of pounds for my home freezer.  I boiled the rest this afternoon with onions, garlic, potatoes, and no corn because I forgot to buy some - and of course liquid crab and shrimp boil... liquid fire.  Love the stuff.

Pat came over and enjoyed some shrimp.  We had some wine and conversation and enjoyed the campfire.  What a great ending to a fun week at the beach.  Going home tomorrow.

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Ugg Australia.

I know there are a lot of Ugg haters out there, so if you're one of them this post isn't for you. But I love them. And I have accumulated several pairs over the last 5 years or so. My latest ambassador code from Sarenza was used to get the Classic Tall Wool by Ugg Australia. They caught my eye because they're a bit different to my usual style, I liked the colour and I couldn't resist the pom poms.

They're slightly too big for me which is a shame so I may return them for the size smaller if I can - but they're lovely boots which are extremely comfortable. They will be perfect for the cold months ahead!

In the beginning, UGG was an Australian brand with a strong reputation for manufacturing shoes of an excellent quality. It was surfers who were the inspiration for these boots - they found them nice and warm when they finished surfing. UGG Australia then modernised them to create luxury fashion products.
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The weather today was great!  I put on some shorts and loaded the new beach cart with my camera, some snacks, and my little doggie and we headed out to the fishing pier.

Xi Shi likes to ride in the beach cart but I let her walk back.

The pier is at the end of the island near Barataria Pass.  Across the Pass is Grand Terre Island where the famous pirate Jean Lafitte had his headquarters in the early 1800s.

This is a very busy waterway as many work boats are transporting supplies and workers to the oil rigs offshore.

Took some photos of waves breaking on the rocks as well as waves that were rolling in.  I had a unique vantage point being up on the pier.

She and I had a great time.

Supper tonight is left-overs.  Tonight's movie is "The Debt."  

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We had some excitement here last night. A loud noise under the coach woke me in the middle of the night. Then I heard cat screams and a scuffle. It sounded like 2 cats fighting but now that I think about it, I only heard one cat screaming. I got up and opened the door but hesitated to go outside and look under the coach. So I slammed the door and hoped that it scared away the animals.

Then again at 5:00 this morning there was another fight. This time it sounded like they were inside my coach. The fight was so loud with sounds of clanging against the under side of the coach. I got up again, opened the door and slammed it. Then I thought if I started the motor of the coach they would run away, but was too sleepy and went back to bed.

Woke up around 8:00 and opened the door to a beautiful sunny day. Then I heard a faint, little meow.  I immediately thought that it must be an abandoned kitten and I’m always a sucker for them and knew I would rescue it. I followed the sound and inside the back tire well was my poor little Bunny Kitty sitting on top of the dual tires. I reached for her and she kept crying as I picked her up and cuddled her and took her inside. I checked her body and didn’t see any blood or cuts but she was limping and couldn’t put her weight on her right back leg. I felt around for broken bones but all seemed fine. My first thought was that there must be a hole somewhere in the coach where she escaped to the outside. My mind raced to try and figure out how she wound up outside of the coach. In an instant I remembered what I had done the night before that led to this circumstance.

Around 10:00pm last night I opened the door to let the dog out for the last time and saw the clouds had parted and there was the full moon. I grabbed my camera and tried to get a good shot of it. I left the screen door open because my cats have been taught that they can not go outside from the coach and they never have. Especially this little meek and shy Bunny Kitty who hides under the furniture when anyone comes around. Never in my wildest dreams did I think she would sneek out. After taking many photos, went back inside and watched a movie then went to bed and I never noticed her missing because she likes to sleep under the sofabed. I assumed that’s where she was. Her meow is very soft and I never heard her crying at the door during the night.

So my poor little Bunny spent the night under the coach fighting off who knows what while I slept. Can’t tell you how awful I feel about it. That just breaks my heart. I’ll have to be real cautious from now on and make sure that they don’t slip out without me noticing. One thing that I am pleased about is that she didn’t run away into the woods but stayed under her home. I’m sure she could hear us inside and wondered why she couldn’t get back in. So sad. Thank goodness she wasn’t killed. She’s been sleeping on the bed in her favorite spot all day. I’m sure she didn’t get any sleep last night. It’s a good thing I didn’t start the motor which probably would have made her run into the woods and become more vulnerable to another animal. The small space inside the wheel well kept her safe.

I'm keeping that window shut Momi.

Xi Shi Quan and I took our usual long morning walk on the beach. It’s still very windy but not as cold. Took a few photos. Came back to the coach and had breakfast. Rode my bike around the campground. I’m loving this weather and tomorrow will be even warmer.

This afternoon more RVs drove into the campground. One couple is from Colorado. Another couple in a truck camper are from South Dakota. They told me they came here because they thought it would be warm and sunny and that we had no real winter. I assured them that we do indeed have a real winter with freezing temps but that it didn’t last very long. I’m glad that tomorrow will be warmer so they can enjoy the beach.

This camper is from Louisiana.  Is he serious about catching fish and crabs or what?  Notice the freezer.

Supper tonight is beef roast, Jasmin rice with gravy, and corn. Tonight’s movie is "A Family of Spies."
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1 year on.

This time last year Jonathan and I were in Paris having a wonderful time. Can you believe it has been a year since we went?! Time has really flown by, in a bit of a blur really. So much has happened in the past year but it has all been wonderful.

We had a great time in Paris where we stayed for 4 nights. We managed to cram lots of sight seeing (and lots of walking!!) into our time there.

Here are a few of my favourite pictures from the trip (and if you want to read my original blog posts click here, here, here and here).
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