Monday, 28 November 2011

An Old Tradition

Christmas is everywhere now.  It's what I am reading, it's on all the adverts on TV, it's on the radio and you know what I kind of like it.  This weekend saw me cross another thing off my Christmas list.  An Old Tradition. 
Saturday was the switching on of the Christmas Lights in Moulsham Street ~ basically it is a street of specialist shops, they have been having a lot of work (mainly road works) recently so this for them was a big celebration to celebrate the end of it all.  The road was filled with market stalls selling homemade gifts and decorations, food and lots more.  I was feeling really ill on Saturday so unfortunately I didn't get to see the actual switching on of the lights but I have seen them since, very pretty.



On Sunday the High Street lights were being switched on.  I haven't been to see the lights being switched on for a few years but as a kid it was something we did every year.



 
To finish off there was a brilliant firework display and it was a great end to the day.







The town is lit up and it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

(You can just see Moulsham Street lights in the distance and take a look at that moon.)

Love Gem x x x x x

Sunday, 27 November 2011

A Christmas Book

I have done it, another thing crossed off the Christmas List already.  I am reading a Christmas themed book.


I have loved all the other books I've read of Cecelia Ahern and so far this one has yet to disappoint, I am really enjoying it.

I am definitely starting to get into the Christmas spirit now, less than a month to go.  I am not the biggest fan of the day itself, however I love the build up, so I shall be making the most of it over the next couple of weeks.

~ Gem x

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A Sneaky Peak

Everyone loves to have a little sneaky peak every once in a while, Right?  Well today is your lucky day.  Here is a sneaky peak of a couple of things I am working on at the moment.  All will be revealed in good time I promise but for now this is all you are getting he hee.
Project Number 1.


Project Number 2.


Hope you are all having a great weekend.

Love Gem x x x x x

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Ideal Home Christmas Show

Last Thursday myself and my mum  went along to the Ideal Home Christmas show at Earls Court, London.  It was their first ever show so we thought we would give it a try, in the hope it would get us into the Christmas mood.

Upon arrival at the show it certainly did just that.  There were loads of white Christmas trees lining the path up to the entrance and a snow machine pumping out snow that we had to tramp through to get in the doors.  I got so excited, I felt like a little kid again ha ha small things will please small minds I think the saying goes!



As we walked through the main doors, the whole floor was covered in a white, glittery felt type material to look like snow, this was throughout the whole venue, it looked fab (although I do wonder what it looked like at the end of the last day, never mind)  There were more trees and I was so pleased that it was looking to be better than expected.  It looked like a Magical Christmas Wonderland.


We had our first stop in sight of what we wanted to see first, so we headed straight to the Celebrity Chef Stage. 



Ahhhhh Gino, he is gorgeous and sooooo funny, he was telling people to ask him questions we he answered really well and had everyone laughing, it was the best cookery demonstration I have ever seen.  To top that off..................................................


I even got to meet the man himself, I bought a copy of his book which he kindly signed and I got a couple of kisses too, you can imagine how excited I was right about then, so much so I was actually shaking (what an idiot, I felt a right fool) still I had just had a kiss off Gino D'Acampo I'm pretty sure I can be excused for that.






Unfortunately that is pretty much as far as the excitement went and from then on was a bit of a disappointment.  There were a number of real Christmas trees in the middle of the show with a pretty bandstand in the centre which was lovely, but I was expecting it to be really Christmassy, it was basically just the Ideal Home show with a couple of Christmas stalls, all selling virtually the same thing and when I say a couple that isn't a lie, I was a bit gutted and won't be returning again next year.  But I did meet Gino so it was far from a wasted day, and the first thing to cross of the Christmas List ~ Visit A Christmas Event :)

Love Gem x x x x

Friday, 18 November 2011

Author Interview With Kate Tenbeth

I'm trying something a little different today, this isn't something I have done before but would be keen to do more in the future should the opportunity arise. 
One of the few good things that has come out of my commute into London each day is meeting a lovely lady named Kate.  Like many of us she holds down a 9-5 full time job, but in her spare time becomes a whole different person.  Unlike many of us who tend to spend our time crafting Kate spends hers writing.  Recently I spoke with her and here is what she said.

So Kate, when did you first begin writing stories?
I clearly remember sitting at my desk in school when I was about 8, and giggling because I was writing a story about tap dancing mice.  I was told off (things haven’t changed much!).
Can you tell us about your journey starting out as an indie writer?
I won an Arts Council award about 3 years ago to help me develop my writing skills but actually found it quite a demoralising experience because everyone  I met in the publishing industry  told me that it didn’t matter how good a writer you were, the chances of becoming published were negligible.   I resigned myself to writing as a hobby, but in January 2011 I got together with some friends and started a local writing group so we could help support and encourage each other in our work.  In March we asked a wonderful young indie author, Penelope Fletcher, to come along to talk to us about self publishing and how the publishing world was changing.  I had honestly never heard the phrase indie writers before then (I’d only just heard of a Kindle!).  What she had to say just really blew me away, it was as if a switch had been turned on -  I remember listening to her talk and thinking  ‘I can do that’.   So I did!  I just had to give it a go.  In less than 9 months I’ve self published 2 e-books, I’m on Amazon, I write a blog, I’ve created a website, set up a Burly & Grum Facebook page, I’m about to go into hard-print - it has been a wonderful adventure,  I’ve learnt a great deal and met many incredible people along the same path. 
Where do you get your inspiration from for both your stories and the characters?
I get my inspiration from whatever I see, whoever I meet and from wherever my mind takes me.  I have a notebook and I constantly scribble things down in it.  If you were to see me on the train commuting into London you’d think,  “Ah ha! Now that’s an ordinary, middle aged lady having a doze!” but in actual fact, although I am an ordinary, middle aged lady, you’d be amazed if you knew what I was day dreaming about! 
What made you chose to write children’s books?
My son Angus is now 21, but when he was growing up I used to write stories for him, usually around the time of his birthday.   I’d write all his friends into the storyline and then read it out loud to them at his party – they’d have all kinds of adventures and, I’d like to think, really enjoyed themselves!  I do write other stories, mostly heroic fantasy adventures with a lot of battle scenes (for some reason I’m quite good at writing a battle scene…) but when I started out along the route of becoming an indie writer I chose children’s books because I already had one that just needed a little adjustment and I was impatient to get going! 
Can you tell us a little bit about the books?
I’ve written two books, ‘Beyond the Forest’ and ‘Burly and Grum and the Secret City’.  Both books revolve around two central characters - a bear called Burlington (Burly to his friends) and his friend Grum the groblin.  Grum is very unconventional - he’s loud, has no manners, is skin is a pea green colour, he likes eating crispy fried earwigs and other things we would consider revolting.  Burly is a mellow kind of bear and took Grum under his paw when he needed help.  They have all kinds of adventures - theirs is a friendship of discovery, tolerance and the unexpected!
Where can we get copies of the book?
You can get them from Amazon.co.uk and can download them onto a Kindle.  You can also download them onto your iPad and other reading devices if you have a Kindle app.  The books are only (approx) .86p each - a bargain!  You can also download them from a brilliant site called Smashwords.  I’m in the process of arranging print on demand and just this morning sent off for proof copies of the two books.  Once I’ve proof -read them then they’ll be available as printed books from Amazon - I’m so excited! :)
What’s next for Burly and Grum?
More of the unexpected - a crab with attitude, Burly wearing shades and looking cool, stolen gold, lots of baddies and, of course, a beach party!
What’s next for Kate?  Do you have any other books planned for the future?
At the moment I’m finishing up book 3 in the Burly and Grum series and then I’m going to work on some other books I’ve got on the back burner.
What advice could you give to someone looking to publish their own writing?
Without any hesitation at all I’d say go ahead and do it - if nothing else, you’ll learn about all the work that goes into producing a book.  Yes, it’s time consuming and hard work, but at least you get to see your books up for sale on Amazon, you’ll meet other authors and wonderful people and it’s just such an interesting journey.  If you’d like any help or advice, I’m more than happy to speak to you.  You can contact me via my website www.burlyandgrum.com  or you can leave a message for me on my blog, www.burlyandgrum.blogspot.com. However you get in touch I’ll be happy to hear from you.
 
Please please please support this inspirational and lovely lady.  you can follow her blog through the above link and please like her Facebook page here.  Thanks ladies, and thank you Kate for taking the time to complete this interview with me.

Love Gem x x x x

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

My Weekend

I am at last getting up to date with everything.  I have taken plenty of time out and simplified my life in pretty much every aspect possible.  It has definitely helped.  I feel so much better for it and I am starting to enjoy life again and all with a much clearer head.  It has also meant having the opportunity to make plans and catch up with old friends. 

I had quite a busy weekend but also a really good one.  I spent Saturday afternoon at a new group.  Something else to cross off 2011's Autumn List (Join A Group)  It is the Coffee, Cake & Craft group at Hylands Park Stables.  It meets once a month for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon and you basically take along whatever craft you are working on, eat cake, drink tea and chat to the other people that have gone along.  I loved it.  I have been meaning to go for a few months now and have never been able to get round to it but am so glad I made it this month.  I spent the afternoon with fellow bloggers Lynne who arranges the group and Sarah from Blooming Felt.  I can't show you what I am working on just yet but as soon as it is finished I promise to reveal all.  I am really looking forward to next month's group although I am not sure what I will be working on then.  I have made a promise to myself though to only work on one craft project at a time :s

Sunday was spent catching up with an old friend.  We haven't seen them in almost 2 years, they used to live in Lincolnshire and have recently moved back to Essex, a village called Danbury, just round the corner to us so myself and James jumped in the car and spent the afternoon catching up on things in their world.  It was great to see them again although I will miss those trips up to the countryside to stay in their cottage.  It is gorgeous up there.  Never mind.  Perhaps one day I will own my own beautiful cottage in the country *sigh*

~ Gem x

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Christmas List 2011

As most of you already know I have started to make lists of things I would like to do / achieve each season.  I love Christmas and with it being such a big and busy time of year I have decided to give this a list of it's very own.  So here it is.


  1. Visit A Christmas Event
  2. Make A Gingerbread House
  3. Watch A Christmas Film
  4. Give To A Charity Or Good Cause
  5. Make Homemade Decorations
  6. Read A Christmas Themed Book
  7. Enjoy An Old Family Tradition
  8. Try Out A New Tradition
  9. Spread Goodwill To All Men

Let the festivities begin.

Love Gem x x x x 

Monday, 14 November 2011

Firework Night

I know, you probably had to do a double take when reading today's post title.  What can I say, I am a little behind on my blog posts, but rest assured by the end of this week I will be up to date on all that is going on in my little world.  I am finally feeling good about things and am back on track.


So back to the title, Firework Night or Guy Fawkes.  OK so this was just over a week ago now, but as the saying goes, better late than never. 

Not only was this quite a while ago but I also got a little drunk and so have no photos of the evening to share with you.  It appears that I carried my camera around with me all evening, while completing quite a fair few things off my Autumn list and didn't take one photo!

We invited a load of friends round to James and between us and his neighbours had a joint party.  We have taken the fence panels out in the back garden to make one bigger garden, it works really well as their side is paved and James side is grass so we were able to set the fireworks off from the grass while everyone sat or stood on the paved area (very organised hey, it is as if it had all been planned!)

There were so many fireworks.  I love watching fireworks and the smell reminds me so much of being a child, such a great feeling :).  Also another thing to cross off the Autumn list.


The second thing to cross off the list is to enjoy a hot chocolate outside.  Well it was hot chocolate and Disaronno, mmmmm I love that stuff.  Well I think between that, the Sailor Jerry's and coke and shots I was drinking throughout the evening probably explained why I didn't take any photos.  It isn't very often that I drink so it doesn't take me long to get drunk, I think I did pretty well considering.


The only thing I didn't do which I had hoped to was to have toasted marshmallows over a bonfire.  Well I had made homemade marshmallows with James' niece, only the bottom didn't set.  I shall not be defeated, I will attempt that recipe again.  Fortunate for me, we had done this a few nights previously in the garden with the neighbours while having an evening chat, trying to keep warm over the chimney's toasting marshmallows, we know how to live ha ha.

I feel like I have rambled loads in this post.  Sorry for lack of photos and I'm sorry this is not my usual blogging standard, things will be back to normal tomorrow, I promise.

Thanks for your patience.

Love Gem x x x x

Friday, 11 November 2011

Rememberance


What do we forget when we remember
What are the stories left untold
What do we think each November
As we march down that glory road
As we march down that gory road

One hundred million
Don’t come home from war
Another eight hundred million
Who lived to bear its scar
Who lived to bear its scar

Lest we forget
What they were dying for
Lest we forget
What they were killing for
Lest we forget
What the hell it was for
 
What do we forget when we remember…

Owen Griffiths


Today I have been wearing my Poppy with pride.  I have been thinking a lot today about those fighting and those who have fought in war for us.  Thinking of their families, for the lives lost, for the scars both physical and mental.  I have a lot to be grateful for.

One man in particular I have thought of on numerous occasions so far today is Harry Patch, the last fighting Tommy.

17 June 1898 – 25 July 2009

I read his autobiography earlier this year, such a great and moving book, I would highly recommend it.  It surprised me as it is not the type of book I would usually go for but after buying it for James and seeing him read it so quickly, then seeing a programme on the telly about Harry I had to pick it up, I then discovered why James struggled to put it down.  Such a wonderful and truly lovely man who did his country proud.

On this day I will remember them.

Love Gem x x x x x

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Spreading A Little Love

But not necessarily in the way you would automatically assume.

A while ago I came across a post over at Beki's that really got me thinking.  It is about peoples reactions to anonymous kind gestures, I guess another way of looking at it and one that crossed my mind initially is acts of kindness just not just the usual politeness or offering up a seat etc.  It was more leaving a letter for a stranger somewhere.  You really have to read the post to get exactly where I am coming from.  You can read it from here.  

As a regular reader of Beki's blogs I was so pleased to see that she had taken action upon her original post and done something, which you can read about here.  

Well what more encouragement did I need?  I wanted to join it too, and so I did.  I am wanting to do this in my local area but for the first time there was no bench I would have rather left it on then my Grandad's. 

I left with the book a little note, copied from Beki's.

To whom it may concern,  Please take me home, read and enjoy, then pass me on (in the same way).  If this is not your kind of book then please leave for someone else.  Have a great day.

I got such a great feeling from this and will definitely be leaving more books on park benches.  Go on give it a go, you know you want to.

Love Gem x x x x

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Cupcake Swap Parcel

A while ago now I took part in the Oh Sew Beautiful Cupcake Swap, arranged by Jodi at Oh Sew Beautiful.  I was partnered with the lovely Beki from Beki Marie.  I am going to let the photos do the majority of the talking in this post, you will be able to see why.


It looked pretty from the moment it was received, a gorgeous postcard and glossy, pretty cupcake wrapping paper.


More of the pretty paper, and a gorgeous smelling cupcake scented Yankee Candle wax melt.


This is what was beneath all the paper.  Some cupcake socks (I love my socks), pretty cupcake tissues, red polka dot cupcake cases, pink sprinkles to decorate cupcakes, a gorgeous cupcake patterned passport cover, a cute handmade felt cupcake keyring and a beautiful handmade cupcake wall hanging.  I can see how much love and time went into making the handmade items, so let's just take a closer look at them.


I love the different fabrics used in the wall hanging, I have it hanging on my wardrobe door so I can see it every day and smile.  The keyring is so cute, I'm not sure how to use this yet, I don't want to use it as a keyring as I know it will get dirty in my bag.  Anyone have any suggestions?

The passport holder isn't very clear in the above photo, so here is a close up.


I can't wait to be able to use this, although it may be a little while yet, but it will get used, I'll make sure it does.

How lucky was I?

Thank you so much Beki, I love all of my gifts, they are perfect.    

I'd like to say thank you also to Jodi for arranging such a wonderful swap.  It was great fun and one I have really enjoyed taking part in.

~ Gem x

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Trick Or Treat

I really enjoy Halloween, whether it is because we never celebrated the occasion as kids and I now feel I have to make up for it, I'm not quite sure.  Either way, it is a good excuse to get some decorations out and have a little bit of fun.  Each year we decorate our house to entice the little trick or treaters into our lair, and this year was no exception.



We even managed to catch the wicked witch beneath the house while we were at it.

I carved the pumpkin Sunday evening and so it was all ready to go and just awaiting night to fall before glowing out for the street to see.


And for anyone who tricked us?  Well they just had to look at what happened to the person that did this round at ours last year.


We had plenty of treats for all who rapped on our front door.

We wrapped lolly's in white serviettes, drew on ghostly faces and gave them a little black tie to keep them all together :)

As it got later and the children knocking began to get older my Dad decided to help out, handing out the candy, mum was checking first of all to make sure they were old enough to get a little fright.


I hate this mask, it is sooooo creepy, and shocked a few of the teens we had knocking :).  So that is it, well for another year at least!   Mwa ha ha ha ha

Love Gem x x x x