Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Bokeh

Another entry for I Heart Faces, this time just because I loved learning about bokeh and its my new favourite thing.  Will be attempting it everywhere I go.

I especially love this photo, you've already seen it.  Oh, and the stars at the front are from the head of my santa :)
Some of the others with little characters were a little blown out and I'll have to work on that next year.  In the absence of christmas cards with myself and N, bokeh lights will do :)

And so that was Christmas...

Christmas, like everything comes and goes so very quickly. With the blink of an eye gifts are opened, family has been visited and you've all but moved on to the next stage of the year, the end of it, the celebration and making of resolutions.

It all happened to me too.

Christmas was great this year, celebrating again with both N's family and mine (at different times) and visiting with family we hadn't seen for a while.

I tried to take some bokeh of our Christmas tree but I just wasn't feeling it...sometimes you just don't do you?

Hope you've all had a safe and happy Christmas...New Years is right around the corner and hope that sees everyone safely making it into 2012 too :)

2012 is the year of challenging myself.  I'm looking at participating in some book group or reading challenge, you can check out how I go on my new blog Catch the Reading Bug and I'll also be participating in a photographic challenge or two.  At this stage I'll be doing a 52 week challenge.  Will of course post links once thats sorted!

Happy New Year and hope if you're making resolutions (this is my first time) they work out well for you and you don't over extend yourself.  I've never thought they were about that, more about resolving to be a little better or do a little more or grow a little.  Not about damaging who you are or how you feel about yourself.
Good luck!

Images processed etc with Paint the Moon's whimsy set and watermarking action.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

FaLa La L a Laaa La La La Laaaa or Carols by Candlelight...

Last Sunday was our local Carols by Candlelight on the green....
N and I shared dinner at the local 'wonderful' Indian restaurant where we really lashed out and ordered something completely different.  YUMMO! The evening there was polished off with a latte (me) and a complementary port (N), again YUMMO!

We got to the Carols, within close walking range with 1/2 an hour to spare before the big fireworks.  We got to hear Santa talking (he may have also delved into the complementary port elsewhere) and heard the final song this year before the fireworks.  In fact, there was some silence, at which point everyone wondered whether it was time to leave and whether there were in fact no fireworks this year.

The fireworks came, I got to sing a few bars of  most of the songs (or the other way around) and got to try out my night time photography skills, of which there are very few.  I need to obtain myself a tripod, but I did okayish, in that I had fun, you can see colours, and make out Santa in one or two of the shots.  I played around a lot with the manual settings, very scary but you can always delete your shots, right? I went completely manual for the first time, and wished I'd read fully or memorised the piece on DPS about fireworks! Silly me!! I'll definitely read it again before New Years Eve because the very first hint is about a tripod! :)

I'm loving their new piece about bokeh too, can't wait to try that one out.

Need that tripod before Christmas so I can take my annual photo of N and I....

Frames are by Paint the Moon

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge - Furry Friends

Ok, this is my very first entry into a challenge and I'm VERY nervous and VERY excited to participate. I need to start somewhere right? Rigg....hhhtt?
This is a completely nerve wracking experience because I don't know that my photos are good enough, but I've finally decided that its the fun of participating and learning as I go....its always about learning for me, especially since the new camera arrived.

So....with that in mind, here goes.  This week at I Heart Faces the challenge they've set is for 'furry friends', of which I have one.  A very cheeky, yet very adorable lop eared bunny, who will actually answer to the name, 'Fudge'.  He was so yummy and multicoloured, in the brown sense, when I first got him...his name had to be food related in some way cause he was so yummy I could eat him up.  And Fudge is such a delicious name!


Ready for Take Off

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Midnight train...

Friday night is generally a quiet, come home from work and relax kind of night, and tonight hasn't really been any different. Came home, late, and lounged for a short time before N queried the nights takeout. Friday night is takeout or dine out night, more explicitly no cooking night.

Pizza and an evening of movies on the television lay ahead.

I've spent much of the night reading eBooks I'd downloaded and playing games on my iPad, my new best friend, or new best device. I've also explored online book clubs...there have to be some but they're surprisingly difficult to find. I shouldn't be too surprised though I suppose, when I wanted to locate one in my local area a while ago, when I was living 'back home', I couldn't find one. Or to be precise, I couldn't locate one that would take new people.

There are one or two twitter groups I've seen, though the ones I've stumbled across are themed, ie hisorical fiction. Which is fine, I love hisorical fiction, I'd just like to look at all my options before I commit.

So, here it is midnight and I'm about to get back on the train, metaphorically speaking. Soooo, let me know if you are in a great group or know of one. I've always wanted to be in a book group, just never happened I guess...

P.S. still waiting for that bag, or any sign of the bag, or news of the bags whereabouts! Concerns that it will be a 6 week delivery are looming.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The ghost of Christmas past...

I'm participating in Virtual Advent this year for the first time and I've had a lot of fun reading everyone's stories/traditions and then reminiscing about the things my family did. 
I guess I've been thinking more about what I did do with my family than what I currently do because to me Christmas was really alive with the whole 'santa' thing when I was younger - something I don't think I'm really into for kids now. 

It's been a nostalgic trip down memory lane for me and I just can't select one tradition to talk about this time, but guess I'll need to try.
My earliest memory of Christmas involves the tradition of our Christmas or Santa sacks and books; there are always books :)  Each year my brother, sister and I would help mum decorate the Christmas tree to the tunes of various Christmas carols and each of us trying to ridiculously out sing the other...or grumpily tossing away knotted lights and tinsel, depending on the mood at the time and the state of the decorations from last years pack up.  We'd then stick our heads into the linen cupboard, calling out to mum 'Where is my sack? Did you put it away, where did you put it?'.  Mum would patiently (or not, depending on the mood) come and help or call out the viable places the sacks may be hidden.  At this point you might be wondering why why didn't go into a drawer or perhaps away with the decorations each year? Who knows, it would seem more logical and it would indeed have been easier.  Many a cross word was spoken trying to locate them amongst a years worth of table cloths, summer and winter sheets, doona covers, vacuum cleaner and everything else that was stuffed away in there.

Eventually they'd be located, each proudly holding up our sack (or pulling it off a sibling stating it was ours, depending on the mood) and triumphantly marching it over to the tree and laying it underneath.  Always for me, imagining what might be laid inside by Santa, and if indeed I'd been good enough this year for his visit.  There was always a scuffle to place your 'sack' in the best position, and that being right at the front of the tree.  And you'd better watch out if you tried to lay on it or move it to watch the television...I'm starting to think we were quite territorial!  Oh, and mum finally realised that our names on things was a very safe option, so our sack eventually had these printed nicely on the front :)

There was always a lot of waiting, a lot of will the sack have something in it Christmas morning and what would that be?  Eventually Christmas Eve and as we grew up Catholic, there was always midnight Mass...and what an extravaganza that was! So much singing, the nativity and it would bring you that much closer to Christmas day.  Maybe that will be a focus for next year :) The first year I really remember I got up during the night to make a trip to the toilet, just down the hall.  I didn't turn on any lights, and stealthily as I could, made my way over to the tree.  I knew exactly where my sack was....quietly as I could I knelt down and stuck my hand was so full! There were things spilling out on the ground!  I put my hand in as far as it would go and felt the outline of a book, I smiled (at least I remember smiling), wondering with excitement what book it could be.  I knew if I turned the light on my mum would wake up, a light sleeper, and I'd be in trouble and the sack would be taken away...a threat to keep us in bed.  I dared feel inside the other sacks and can't really remember what I felt inside, but was awed by what I could feel and my mind going crazy trying to work out what was inside.  Knowing, but not completely knowing all the detail.

I went to the toilet, crept back to bed and was still VERY excited the next day when I finally got to see what I'd only felt and imagined the night before.  
I did this nearly every year for many years...always going out, sometimes getting caught.
What I remember and love was the mystery, the placing of the 'sack' under the tree and always receiving a book in that sack.  Even though for years I stuck my hand inside with excitement, I never knew what was really inside until the next day.  
It took a long time for us to stop placing our sacks out under the tree....we were well into our 20's, no one wanting to give it up, because Christmas just wasn't the same without it.  It didn't matter if there was anything inside, it just mattered that the sack was placed out.  Again, we continued to receive a book as part of our gift and again, this continued....actually I was well into my 30's before this stopped and only because mum found it difficult to choose books for us.  
I'm lucky and on the years we choose to do the bought 'gift' thing rather than something else I seem to always receive a book from someone.  I think if I didn't receive one I'd have to go out and do it myself, because it just isn't right to go through the next few days without a book to relax with. 
This year, my family has decided to donate to charities of our choice instead of purchase two of the Christmas traditions I've lived with won't happen.  That's ok though, Christmas isn't about the material or the receiving for me, its about family and giving and remembering.

Hope you've enjoyed this lengthy trip down memory lane with me and take a look at the other participants on Day 7 of the Virtual Advent tour.

A selection of books received in my Christmas sack

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The bag lady...

Well, that's just what I feel like at the moment...that or the book lady.

I am like a mad thing downloading ebooks onto my new iPad; just in case I'm anywhere and need something to read.  At this rate, I could live for 2 months on the books I have stored and I'm still hungrily searching for more. I've just remembered a few that I have stored on my old laptop, they will of course need to be retrieved to help my virtual library grow.

And the bags, well I haven't exactly accumulated those, but I've been madly searching and researching and looking into and investigating the best, most reliable, most long wearing bag for me.  There are just so many on the market, how does one decide? There are special lady bags, there are backpacks, there are lens bags and sling bags, bulky bags and well, anything else you could imagine really.  Such a nightmare for someone like me really, but in the end, I just wanted everything.

I couldn't of course get everything, I'm on a limited budget and had some birthday money.  What helped tipped the scales was the fact that a wonderful friend got me an e-voucher for Kelly Moore, who makes the most gorgeous bags.  It was either a Kelly Moore or Epiphanie, again a most gorgeous set of bags you ever did see.  So, I've gone with Kelly Moore bags for the moment, because there are always more birthdays and more Christmases and more special occasions in the world.  And if all else fails I can save.  I now have to wait, so the waiting game begins.

I now wish I'd paid the extra and gone for extra speedy delivery, because quite frankly I'm having a really a really difficult time waiting and its only been a week.  I'm checking USPS everyday (or 3 times a day if I'm truthful) and it seems to rarely even move. :( Of course sad face, this waiting is very difficult indeed.  So stay tuned for the bag, I expect to post a picture as I'm super keen for it to arrive.

Have a good weekend and keep yourself sane if you can (I know how difficult that can be) :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

1st of December today and it's quite amazing to watch the year hurtle towards its end.

Christmas decorations have been in stores for months, however everyone is now starting to put up their trees and home decorations. I need to start thinking about gifts, but really feel like its too far away. Who am I kidding? We all now it will get ever closer until I'm running in a mad panic the night before.

I'm really enjoying my iPad, amazing birthday gift of gifts it's brought me endless pleasure already, just days into its life with me. I've got books galore stored within, games and a handy notepad. It'll never leave my side again :)

It's been a huge week...both at work and my personal life. In the last few years im left wondering why so many things happen to people around this time. It feels like the time of year when things should sail along for everyone.

This week at work we lost someone dear to us and are still reeling in the aftermath. It will take a long time to recover, but one of the things I realize is that we lost more than a colleague and friend; we've lost someone who strings many threads together in the community, someone who has ties everywhere, someone who you could always see just there. Someone who will never be forgotten and we weren't even aware we'd have tobe ready to say goodbye to.

And that's only half of the story really... The week has continued, as it does and other things have arisen to keep you going on. Even though there are those who wonder how they can, if they should or whether it's irreverent to do so.

I've not taken any photos lately and for various reasons am determined to do so this weekend. I also feel the need to capture the image of something, because after all that's what people are left with. The memories and the images that will last, or hopefully last. Let's hope my next post is more cheerful :)