Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This is one of my favourite photos of recent times. It was taken from quite a few feet away at F5.6 which threw the BG quite out of focus. I don't know what the plant Ruth knows! It has been suggested that I clone out that stray leaf in the extreme bottom left; I tried but I'm so bad at cloning so you could tell something had been there.

My IBS has been bad the last few days; I know it's probably a combination of nerves/excitement about doing more wedding photography. I'm so far out of my comfort zone it's not true BUT I can't turn my back on this opportunity. I just need to find a way of living with the fear and not letting it take over my life.

Since the New Year I've been making real efforts to improve my attitude to life - I've been passive for so long, allowing myself to be a victim of both my own moods and those of people around me. I'm trying to be more positive and that's quite a turnaround for someone who's always been convinced the glass was not only half-empty but probably about to fall off the table and shatter on the floor!

I can't begin to describe how even tiny changes in my mental attitude have altered my life for the better. There are still the ever present anxieties and insecurities, the sadness and the hurt..they haven't gone away...but MAYBE I am learning to get them more in proportion.


Monday, January 28, 2008

For A.S with love...Pink berries...
...and I think something has been snacking on these! Another photo from Saturday's trip to Ness Gardens.

I can't believe it's only Tuesday; this week is dragging with Phil gone. I had an early night last night but woke up feeling exhausted; I'd had loads of those really vivid dreams which are very unsettling without quite being nightmares. In the last one I was photographing a wedding and was unable to focus my camera; I was frantically searching the menu and settings but could not get a sharp image! I woke up sweating and trembling...!

The next wedding shoot is March 1st. My wedding photographer guru has also told me he's going to offer some free engagement portraits to some of his clients so I can practice my staging and portrait taking. I'm so lucky to have these opportunities. He's also given me a ton of books on portrait and wedding photography to develop my eye for composition. My homework!!

It's raining and dark and I'm trying to force myself out the door for a walk...ugh!

I heard today from a special friend I thought I'd lost for ever; it was so good to see an email from her again; she was never far from my thoughts.
There is a bit of a bend in the road ahead for me. Life has taken a few unexpected turns and twists in the last few months! It certainly seems as if there are some challenges ahead....I must not be afraid!

It was a good weekend. Phil was home albeit briefly and on the Saturday we went to Ness Gardens taking photos. He is now off in Spain again for the Duchess.

I was in a lot of pain this weekend; Thursday night my right elbow started hurting. It got steadily worse until I was contemplating chopping it off just below the shoulder. Ordinary pain relief did not touch it so I went out Saturday and bought Nurofen Plus and Deep Heat Rub, which
have gradually eased it. i can't think what caused it; I'm just thankful it's going away!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

So here's Basil on Catblogging Friday. I planted an old pair of Phil's walking boots with ivy and put them on the bench. Basil at once cosied up to them.

I have great news; the doctors think Karen will be able to go home tomorrow. Thank you ALL for your prayers and positive thoughts. Once again she has pulled through a life-threatening crisis.i'm in awe of her courage a determination.

Phil's coming home tonight :) I have to make the most of him as he's away again at Sunday lunchtime.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I have been out in the garden this morning! It wasn't raining, was very mild and the birds were singing their heads off. I took quite a few photos but I'm saving most for my gardening blog post later this week. I tried something I'd wanted to do for years but lacked the necessary props! I also planted some primulas in the container hanging on the fence opposite the back door. Nice and bright and cheerful!

I have had some very exciting news about my wedding photography. I think i'm going to be extremely challenged in the next few months but I'm very lucky to have such wonderful opportunities come my way. I truly can hardly believe it is happening to me...

I had to take a photo of my new washing machine! After being without a properly functioning machine since just before christmas, it's BLISS to have one again. It's the most sophisticated one we've ever had and is far more intelligent than me - it speaks English, French and German!!

My friend Quiet Rage has just started a new cookery blog.
She is one of the best cooks I have ever encountered. Check out her blog for great advice and RECIPES!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I woke up today feeling a bit "low"....

When I switched on the TV news it was to hear that scientists have worked out that today is the most depressing day of the year!

Dr. Cliff Arnall of Cardiff University created a formula with which he worked out when this black dog of a day would fall. Here it is: [W+(D-d)]xTQ MxNA - where W = weather, D = debt, T = time since Christmas, Q = time since a failed habit-kicking attempt, M = motivation and NA = the need to take action and control over something that will lead to a positive outcome for you. Apparently many people will also receive credit card bills for Christmas spending today as well! I think I was feeling a bit "blue" because Phil has gone away for the week. And the weather is so gloomy still.

Going to the gym and aerobics helped! As did finishing a huge pile of ironing!

Two more photos from my archives. Again both of these were taken in Safeway in Petaluma. There are things available to eat there that we don't have in our supermarkets - like the cactus ears below which i must admit I don't really fancy eating! But the little tomatillos (above) look very tasty.
I was given this lovely award from Lori
It means a lot to me as Lori herself is a very special person and she "makes my day" pretty much every time I read her blog. The award says "The award rules say: Give the award to people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on.
I am going to pass this award on to four special blog friends (I could have put given this award to everyone who's blog I visit frequently as they are all brilliant but I made myself narrow it down to four) :
If you get the chance; check out their blogs and let them make YOUR day too!

I know sometimes getting an award can be stressful if you feel you HAVE to pass it on. So I'm just going to say - if you don't want to pass it on, don't. I just wanted to let you know I appreciate you.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Dyed in the wool...

I was on the computer very little yesterday but have had no more news of Karen - I know her sister in law would have been in touch if there was any change though so I'm praying she's continuing to improve.

My own sister in law H is emigrating to New Zealand at the end of February. We will all miss her and her family very much. H is a very keen knitter and she has given me a bag of wool she has spun and dyed herself. I expect once she's settled in NZ she'll probably start keeping her own sheep! The wool is lovely and the colours very beautiful and I can't wait to start knitting something with it (see photo above). The top photo is my blanket made out of knitted squares - I'm busy finishing off the last strip of edging and then it will be finished! I'm a very "basic" knitter but I find the act of knitting very relaxing.

Well, back to work for me for now...hope everyone is having a good Friday.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I am feeling more relaxed now I have had more encouraging news about Karen :) Today I was on a "Visual Impairment Awareness" training course. It was really interesting. Amongst other things we learned how to guide people with sight problems. We split into couples and took it in turns to be blindfolded; then the seeing half of the couple would guide them. It really was quite scary not to be able to see when you are in a busy public place. We also tried on various simulation spectacles that gave us an idea of the different types of vision loss or impairment. Again this was quite an experience and affected us all deeply.

This afternoon I was at RDA as usual but more than usual I was appreciating the sights all around me. The expressions on faces; light rippling over the glossy coats of the horses, the sun on the trees, the clouds. It even struck me what an incredibly vivid green was the moss on the rooftops and how lucky I was to be able to see it.

I am trying to live much more "in the moment" and not to drive myself nuts with overthinking. I tried not to let myself go down my usual route of worrying what will I do if I lose my will I cope etc? If it happens I'll try to deal with it then and for now I'll try not to take being able to see so much for granted!

I never posted any pictures of our completed driveway - I took these on Monday. We are really delighted with how it looks and I'm really pleased with my two new planters by the front door! I also planted up a little hanging basket. In the second picture you can see Basil in a cameo appearance as himself!
Thank you all FROM MY HEART for your prayers. Karen once again has pulled back from the brink and is now more comfortable. I have told her before how people she has never met pray for her in times of need and she is always so touched, so grateful and humble about it. Thank you all.

Julie xx

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Please pray for Karen. The next 8 hours are critical. Please.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cereal bars from Nigella

My new year resolution to eat breakfast hasn't gone very well. I am always so rushed in the morning. I love porridge but don't have time to wait for it to cool enough to eat it. I like my high-fibre cereal but it gets boring if eaten every day. Toast, crumpets, bagels...all yummy but not very nutritious. I'm not going to start cooking eggs, pancakes it bacon on work days either!

Browsing through my latest cookbook ("Nigella Express") I came across these cereal bars. They contain oats, shredded coconut, mixed seeds (I used pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and linseeds) dried cranberries and blueberries. I made up a batch and they taste really good. So now I can eat something for breakfast in the car if I need to!

I just finished "How to talk to a widower" by Jonathan Tropper. This was an interesting book. I enjoyed it but to me it read like a screen play. I wasn't surprised to discover this is going to be a movie. Some books just have "future movie" written all through them. It's the way they are constructed somehow. But still, this book makes a thought-provoking read.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Life is sweet...

This photo is from my archives; taken in the Petaluma CA Safeway store, when I was grocery shopping with my friend A. From what I can remember, she'd sent me to choose some bread and I'd become distracted by some of the unusual (to me) goods on offer. These are Mexican cookies and I wish I'd bought some....I do love supermarkets in other countries...they feel so much more exciting and unusual. Or am I just very sad...?

Well, we have had a very happy weekend. Nothing very exciting and we have had to bite the bullet and pay out for a new washing machine. Our cowboy repairman appears to have taken the money and ridden off into the sunset....I guess he has no conscience! It is just so good to have Phil home and for us all to be together. Last night Phil's parents came round and we had a lovely visit.... lousy weather tho'...wet and windy!

I've finished another book by Richard Carlson and I'm trying to take on board some of his key precepts. I know it won't be easy but I'm determined to make major changes in how I live my life this year.

I'm now going to force myself to go out into the dark, the wind and the rain for a 30 minute walk before settling down for the evening.

Thanks to everyone for the comments and HUGS you sent me after my last post. You have all contributed to my happy weekend and I hope yours has been equally blessed.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Little things that make me happy -

  • The smell of coffee brewing every morning
  • My cats coming for cuddles
  • Getting into a freshly changed bed
  • Hot showers
  • My scent - Shalimar
  • The sound of a text message arriving
  • Hugs
  • A new book by a favourite author
  • Singing along to the car stereo
  • Clean plates all round when I've cooked dinner
  • Getting a comment on my blog
  • A brand new diary
  • A long walk in the fresh air
  • Freshly painted toenails
  • Trying out a new recipe
  • Frosty mornings
  • Soup!
  • Making lists
  • The first day of a holiday
  • Burts Bees Lip Balm
  • Baking bread
  • Using my Cross Ion pen
  • The smell of a tack room - horses plus leather
  • Finishing the ironing
  • Thick comfy socks
  • Being called a numpty by the Wildcat
  • The moment when the film starts at the cinema
  • Waking up ready for work - then realising it's a day off
  • Having my hair washed by Tracy; best hairdresser in the world!

I have two new books to add to my list:
The thirteenth tale by Diane Setterfield - a wonderfully atmospheric and mysterious read and Don't sweat the small stuff by Richard Carlson - which is really helping me make some changes in my life!

I was really distressed to discover that Dr Carlson died December 2006 - he was born the same year as me.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

For light and composition, this is one of my favourite photos EVER, for me it just had that elusive "something". However, when I looked at it on the computer screen I was bitterly disappointed. It was very blurred. I couldn't bear to just throw it away so fiddled around with some filters in photoshop - not something I usually do. I'm quite pleased with the result.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Today's photo is a church doorway which caught my eye on a country walk.

Well, Phil has left for a week in Scotland taking photos for the Duchess; I'm already missing him! But we've had a pleasant weekend. Yesterday morning we went looking at new cars, as Phil's lease car is due to be changed very soon. We'll miss the Megane but Phil is after something with a bigger boot so we don't have to put miles on my car whenever we go on holiday. In the afternoon we watched Sian ride - she rode Sian the pony and had a wonderful lesson. We also took down the Christmas decorations which was sort of sad...And had a Skype chat with A from California.

I found this story on the BBC website today. It makes very sad reading. Especially the part about 7,800 dogs being put down in the UK in 2007 because homes could not be found for them. And that 270 dogs were taken to Battersea Dogs Home over the Christmas period. So much for us being a nation of animal lovers! As a family, we are very committed to animal rescue and all of our pets have been abandoned/unwanted. I'd urge anyone considering paying hundreds of pounds for a pedigree puppy to rethink and visit their local rescue centre. If you have your heart set on a particular breed, most breeds have their own rehoming societies.

The same applies to cats too.

Rant over.

I've just read "What was lost" by Catherine O'Flynn. I became completely absorbed in this story, which starts by focusing on the character of 10 year old Kate, who along with her toy monkey, runs a detective agency. The story is centred around a huge shopping mall. Really original, really gripping, funny in parts and very well told, I'm so glad I read this book.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Thanks everyone for your kind comments on my last post. You have all helped me so much and I'm determined to get through my sadness as quickly as I can - I've already wasted far too much time on this situation. Bless you all for your kindness {{HUGS}}

As it's nearly time to take down the decorations I thought I'd post this picture of what apparently is a very trendy new style in Christmas trees..the UPSIDE DOWN tree. It doesn't actually hang from the ceiling but is mounted on a block. The photo didn't do it justice but it actually looked quite effective...if a bit weird.

I found the article below in the Daily Mail. I've bookmarked it to re-read when I'm in danger of feeling sorry for myself!


It may sound glib, but we in the affluent West really should be more grateful for what we often take for granted.

One of today's great ironies is that we are healthier, wealthier and longerlived than any generation in history, yet we don't seem any happier.

In most surveys, far fewer people now describe themselves as being "happy" than did, say, 50 years ago (the grim, war-battered and austere 1950s may have been, oddly, the "happiest" period in recent British history).

Perhaps we can learn something from around the world: happiness surveys throw up some surprising results.

Most Africans report being happier than most Americans, for example, and one survey, by psychologist Robert Biswas-Diener, found that the prostitutes of backstreet Calcutta, which he had assumed would be among the unhappiest people on the planet, were actually rather content with their lives.

The reason? At least, they told him, they weren't as badly off as the thousands of cripples they met on the streets every day. Life was hard, but not that hard.

"Count your blessings" is certainly the advice of Tal Ben-Shahar, a Harvard University psychologist, who has written the latest self-help book detailing some simple ways to make your life happier.

He advises readers to focus on the positive: take a couple of minutes a day to think about all the things we should be grateful for, starting with our health and that of our family and friends.

If you would like the read the whole article click here.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Shadows on a dance floor...

It's only the second day of the new year but already I've learned a bitter truth; I am indeed a gullible fool where those I love are concerned. An event this morning has left me feeling like a complete idiot BUT it has taught me a valuable if very painful lesson.

It seems I only learn the hard way.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

This is one of my sister in law's Cavaliers, it's either Heidi or Gemma...sorry, girls, I can't remember which (and Phil took this photo!)

Last night we had a lovely evening with Jane and her two wonderful boys. We played Buzz and Pictionary and chatted lots. There were lots of fireworks to enjoy in Helsby at midnight and then off we went to bed.

Today we visited Phil's family in West Kirby and this evening watched the first part of the new dramatisation of "Sense and Sensibility".

Something new for my blog in 2008 is that I'm going to attempt list all the books I've enjoyed reading during the year. I would love it if any of my blog readers recommend books to me. I've very varied tastes and I'll try anything pretty much! Or if you read and enjoy any of the book I list please let me know. The first book of the year is "The man who ate the 747" by Ben Sherwood, which our reading group is discussing on Thursday night. This book really surprised me - I enjoyed it a lot and I hadn't expected to. I started it at just past midnight last night and finished it this morning :)

New Year's Resolutions...hmmm....
  • To get fitter and (hopefully) lose some weight.
  • To eat breakfast.
  • To use my tripod more.
  • To fight my IBS, my depression and my joint problems with a good diet, plenty of fresh air and a positive attitude.
  • To let go of the things in the past I can't change.