Decorating Time!

With it getting close to Christmas, I’ve been thinking about decorations, menus and traditions. Do you have special things that you always do at this time of the year? About now (or sometimes earlier in November) my Cliff Richard music comes out, or rather, my Christmas playlist gets a workout on iTunes. I do have some other Christmas music (including classics from Bing Crosby and co) but my Cliff ones are the only ones on iTunes at the moment. I must dig out my other CDs tomorrow. My current favourite is Cliff’s version of ‘Let it Snow’:

For one reason and another we haven’t put the tree up for a couple of years. I would love to have a tree this year but am worried about the kittens hurting themselves. Lights, baubles, tinsel, tree falling and associated risks. I’ve been toying with the idea of weighing the tree down, so it can’t tip over when climbed (the husbitect has a brilliant plan for tree safety) and making some felt decorations filled with catnip. If the kittens get them – no harm done!

If you also have kittens and cats, here is a page all about safety for felines at Christmas.

I have some vintage and breakable ornaments I’d love to decorate with, but that seems too risky. At least this year. Any ideas on how to use fragile ornaments safely, and out of kitten reach? They can jump up quite high now, so putting a small tree on a high shelf may not work. Oh! Oh! I think I may have it, dear reader. As I was writing this, I thought of our glass display cabinet – surely I can display the fragile ornaments in there. Perhaps in baskets or bowls?

How about movies, do you have movies that you watch every year, at this time? The first that comes to mind for me, is probably one of the most commonly suggested Christmas movies; ‘It’s A Wonderful Life‘. I think one of my absolute favourites, however, is ‘While You Were Sleeping‘. Ohhhhh, I adore that movie! I’ve lost track of how many times I have watched it – it can never be too many times!

I also enjoy those classic movies from Rankin and Bass. You know the ones; ‘The Year Without Santa Claus’, ‘Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer’, ‘The Little Drummer Boy’, ‘Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town’. Such adorable puppetry and stop-motion animation. I think I am the only fan around here, so I will likely be watching them on my own, this year. The Kittens will join me!

Now, speaking of Christmas movies, there are two that I saw many years ago, that I can’t find now. The first was about a Snow Goose, and was very 70s with its design and script. It was American, and I think it had a group of male singers who were very ‘Jackson 5’ in style. Ring any bells?

The second is more vague (yeah, I can be even more vague than above!) and was about a Christmas tree. I think its title was something like ‘The Little Christmas Tree’. The tree in question was sad because it was overlooked, and really wanted to be a family’s special tree. I can picture the final-ish scene showing the tree all decorated with lights and baubles. Do you remember that one? It may have been a book, but I’m sure it was a movie, too.

If you can point to information about either movie, you will be a friend for life!

Please do share your traditions with me, dear readers. It doesn’t have to be ‘Christmas’ related – anything that is a special tradition for you, at this time of year. I love learning about other traditions and experiences. Gosh, one thing I have done once, but want to MAKE a personal tradition, is reading Doctor Who books, while slowly savouring toffee sweeties. It was a very hot December that year, and I remember spending much of the end of December savouring my gifted tin of sweets, as I savoured each page of my new Doctor Who novels. See – doesn’t have to be even remotely Christmas related!

Catnap!

Have you seen the latest Simon’s Cat video? It is titled ‘Catnap’ and you can watch it below! I really enjoy Simon Tofield’s work, he captures Cat attitudes and mannerisms perfectly. My Husbitect bought us the last couple of books in the series plus one of the plushies. I may have ‘Squeed’ when I saw it! If you had not heard of Simon’s Cat before, head over to the official site. You can watch the videos (including the new ‘How to Draw’ series), buy the books and more.

A Skyrim Chest Full of Links!

I am still battling away in Skyrim as a Breton female, level 15. I’ve played through some of the main quest storylines, but have sidestepped away from them for now to spend some time simply exploring Skyrim. There is a lot to explore – not to mention fights to pick, ingredients to find, deer to hunt and treasure to be discovered!

When not playing (or working!) I have come across some fabulous sites to do with Skyrim. Here are five of my favourites:

  1. Skyrim Nexus – One of the best sites to find game mods, view player screenshots and pick up a few tips from the modding tutorials in the wiki.
  2. 5 Personality Flaws Skyrim Forces You To Deal With – A humorous article about what Skyrim might teach some of us about our own personalities.
  3. Tasting Tamriel – A funny video guide to one of the Gourmet’s recipes from Skyrim; Potage le Magnifique!
  4. Ten Ways to Make Skyrim a Cooler Place to Hang Out – Tips on how to make your gameplay more interesting.
  5. Create an Ancient Stone Text Effect – How to make a text effect in Photoshop that is inspired by the stone textures in Skyrim.

If you have found an interesting site on Skyrim, please share!

Jooming along

Time for some new skills for this alyshajane. First up on the list is Joomla and possibly also Drupal. I am still working in design and will continue to freelance while I finish my library course. Any and all IT skills will be as useful in information management as they are in web design.

I came across the JoomlaShine blog via Twitter, it looks to have a wealth of reading and links. Of most interest to me currently, is the list of Joomla books. The blog has a fantastic table of books for beginners and more advanced Joomla developers. I really appreciate the guide on what format each book is available in. I’m going to try them on the Kindle reader for iPad – much more affordable and portable. Another interesting blog is cocoate.com, looking forward to reading their Joomla Beginner’s Guide.

I’d love to learn a programming language as well, PHP would be the most likely candidate and one that I have wanted to learn for a few years. Time to get thyself in learning gear and improve, improve, improve! I love learning new things and am all excited to get started!

Gaming in Skyrim

The Husbitect and I have been thoroughly enjoying playing Skyrim over the weekend. A game that was worth the wait not to mention the hype. The gameplay is enchanting and fast-paced, whether you are exploring the lands or following the main quests. The graphics are awe inspiring, although I wish my rig was up to playing in Ultra HD!

Skyrim - Solitude Harbor

My current character in Skyrim, a Breton but will play a Khajiit next!

I’m hoping someone creates a weight/encumbrance mod soon so your character can carry more items. It’s frustrating to get to the lowest level of a cave or other such location, find much treasure and not be able to carry it! Hurry up modders!

Are you a gamer?

iPhoneography

I love taking photos with my iPhone, especially since the newest iPhone came out – the camera is amazing! Better than my little compact digital camera and smaller. Plus there are all the fun photo apps available. My favourite of these is Instagram, with which I took the photos below.

From the top left:

  • 1. Some of the random items on my desk
  • 2. Cute little Pippin!
  • 3. Pippin and Merry, geeking out on my desk
  • 4. Some of my retro cookbooks
  • 5. Cat vs Human book – so funny!
  • 6. Apple Pie Cookies, recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Delicious!
  • 7. Churros, mmmm yum!
  • 8. Merry, all sleepy and cute!
  • 9. Action figure of the Eleventh Doctor.

And yes, I totally failed with Blogtoberfest. Two posts in October, oops! Here’s hoping that I manage more posts in November!

Our 3rd Wedding Anniversary

(Subtitled: Why I Missed a Day of Blogtoberfest!)

Oops. I missed a day of Blogtoberfest! I think my slip is allowed, however, as it was our 3rd Wedding Anniversary yesterday! My husbitect and I have been married for three absolutely blissful years. It feels like so much longer to us, and in that wonderful way of happily married couples. Our gorgeous outfits came from Gallery Serpentine.

Three years ago on October 4th, 2008, we were married in the Blue Mountains. It was a wonderful, misty mountains day. Even though our planned outside ceremony had to be moved inside due to rain, it was magical. A pair of frogs serenaded us from their pond, outside in the garden, underneath the window. It did not matter where our ceremony was held – we only had eyes for each other! The whole day was perfect.

For our anniversary, we went to a local Japanese restaurant, and apart from feasting on looking at each other, we dined on delicious food! We started with Agedashi Tofu & Soft-shell Crab. Followed by the freshest Sashimi and then, Beef Sukiyaki! All washed down with Japanese beers and Green Tea. Nom!

On leaving the restaurant, we took a photo outside, under their gorgeous LED-lit cherry blossoms! I want some for our home, but with two feisty kittens, they would not last long! I am tempted to try by hiding them on top of a cabinet, however. I cannot resist the pink nor sparkly!

After mentioning the delicous Japanese food we enjoyed, I thought I would find some recipes for each course we had, so you can try them at home!

  1. Agedashi Tofu – Recipe from ‘My Delcious Blog’
  2. Soft-Shell Crab – Recipe from ‘Cooking Light’
  3. Sashimi – Tips from ‘About.Com
  4. Sukiyaki – Recipe from ‘Just Hungry

How do you like to celebrate your anniversaries? Not just wedding anniversaries, but any kind of anniversary? I’d love to know!

Very Pinteresting!

One of my favourite social media sites is Pinterest. For those who have not used it, it’s like having virtual pin-boards full of images and links that you find interesting. You can have multiple boards on any theme you want. You can also follow other pinners and view the images that they have pinned, and see what pins are popular and new. And it is free! A screen capture of some of my boards is below.

If you are on Pinterest, do let me know! You can find my boards here, I am alyshajane.