Saturday, 31 December 2011

What came of my 2011 resolutions.

In the beginning of 2011 I made my customary resolutions. I certainly wasn't setting myself much of a challenge for the year and yet I still managed to fare...fairly badly really.

In 2011 I had resolved to read more books. Again, my netbook and my google reader dominated. I did read a few good books though. Just not nearly enough.

I wanted to learn about photography. I took a look of photographs, not necessarily good ones... but I didn't learn a thing about improving them.

I wanted to go to aerobics every week. I did up until June. But then we came back from holiday to a very unwell mother-in-law and I certainly wasn't going to go to a keep fit class by myself.

I wanted to convert my South African driving licence to a Northern Irish one. I also wanted to get all our paper work in order. I did that! We still don't have a great filing system, but I'm allowed to drive again.

I was going to calm down and stop over analysing everything. I think I did better this year and although I wasn't totally zen, I wasn't driving myself (and Lee) insane regularly.

I was going to spend less time on Facebook. Failed.

I wanted to be cheap thrifty so we could save up for our first house. We're on track!

And I wanted to wear more hats. What sort of a resolution is that? 

So for this year I'm going to try and make some better resolutions, some more inspiring ones, maybe.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Twenty Eleven - a review with links

I wanted to do one of those posts 'a look back at the year' with pictures and a recount of 2011. I spent ages going through photos and selecting some that haven't already been posted on my blog throughout the year. But then I took a look at them all and realized it's been really quite a dull year. Obviously there were I'm just going to make a list of those.

Our small new years party at Aidans flat. It was just the four of us, some bubbly, a karaoke machine and some good cooking.

I taught myself how to knit. And then went on to knit myself a patchwork blanket which I've got wrapped around me as I type.

Lee and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. His mom sent us away to the Slieve Donard in Newcastle for a night.

We had a small holiday in Fermanagh and the weather was amazing. We visited the Marble Arch Caves and the Ulster American Folk Park.

We took a trip to Canada for two weeks. We got to see my family and go to some pretty cool places. You can read about here, here, here and here.

I turned thirty. Lee took me to the Merchant for a meal and we followed it up at the Garrick for the luau party.

We went to see the Foo Fighters at Oxegen.

We went down to Dublin on the Enterprise to see Ireland play England in the rugby.

We got to spend a weekend with this really cute boy.

Lee surprised me one weekend with this lovely outing!

We went to France with friends.

I finally got to see a ballet.

We flew over to England for a weekend to see friends.

We had a good Christmas with Lee's side of the family.

We got the good news that I'm going to be an aunty again and Lee's going to be an uncle! Janette and Shane are expecting their first baby in June! My good friend from school, Kerry, is also expecting her first baby in June!!

And even more exciting news will be revealed early next year!!

Next...I need to start making some resolutions.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Pictures from Christmas at the O'Boyles

 Well, that was Christmas 2011. Here're a few random photos from the day:
Lee made us scrambled eggs, avocado and smoked salmon on crusty white toasted bread with a sweet mustard and dill dressing for breakfast. I'm a lucky girl.
The family opening up presents.
I got this owl cushion. I had a bit of an owl theme running through my presents this year. 

Honeyed parsnips with thyme

Poor tortured Beefy
Lee and his presents.
We were all spoiled horribly. There were so many presents for everyone and then after the presents, there was a whole lot of eating. Lee, as tradition dictates, made an enormous roast turkey with all the vegetables and trimmings. Ohh my goodness there was soo much food.

And then in the evening there were people popping by with their wee kiddies and more chocolates and crisps and chatting, and then later a gathering around the table again with a cheese board and crackers, grapes and cold meats.

But it's not over yet, aah no....we're all dressed and just about ready to do it all again but in a different house and in Armoy.

We've had a great time so far

Saturday, 24 December 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We certainly don't hold back on the decorations around here.

Everything is decorated, basic food preparations done, presents are all wrapped...all that's left to be done now is sit back with a glass of port and a cheese board and relax.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!

Friday, 23 December 2011


We're on holiday! For a little while.

I went to see cousin-in-law Elizabeth for a hair cut this afternoon after work. I let her chop away willy nilly 'cos I'm still trying to rid my hair of the colour shampoo I applied in February which won't let go. I'm really happy with less hair even though it'll nevah sit like that when I do it.

I do dislike visits to the hairdressers. I never feel at ease with those brightly lit mirrors, the noise of the chatter and the dryers, the questions I don't know the answers 'what are we doing today'? And then I panic and ask for a wee trim because I just don't know.

But I think I'm overly hard on hairdressers. I need to judge them on the way they do my hair instead of leaving unhappy about my face, which always looks grey, lined and sallow in the harsh light...and I'm happy with my hair.

So hooray(!) for a good hair cut and being on holiday!!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

It's a wonderful life

The Braid in Ballymena was showing It's a Wonderful Life this evening (and tomorrow evening). Lee, his folks and I went along to see it. It's a film that's been on my 'to watch list' for ages, but somehow, every time it's been on the telly I've managed to miss it. 

Of course, I teared up a good few times during it, but managed to keep myself under control and avoid full on bawling. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Our festive baking

Mince pies were always a tradition in our family growing up. Every year in December, my mom, my sister and I would form a mince pie production line in our kitchen. One of us to roll out and cut the pastry, one to spoon in the filling and one to top and egg the pies. We were making them way before we could even reach the kitchen counter tops and had to stand on a bench or stool. It's kind of not Christmas if we haven't made mince pies.

This year we added some sour cherries from the Continental Market, some dates, brandy, cherry liqueur, orange zest and juice, ginger and cinnamon to a jar of shop bought fruit mince. It gives them an extra kick and they're really really tasty!
Lee made these beautiful dark chocolate macaroons yesterday. Remember the last time we tried to make macaroons back in March? Well these turned out a whole lot better!! They're delicious too :)

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Holidays are coming...

...but it's back to work for me tomorrow. 

All I've done this past week is lie in bed, lie on the couch, sit half propped up on the couch and faint and throw up in coffee shops. I missed my work Christmas lunch at the Blackstone on Friday too :( 

Anaesthetic is pretty rough.

On Thursday Lee's mom thought we'd 'test' if I was ready to leave the house since I was feeling so well. I got dressed and we went out to Montgomery's in the town. I think it was a combination of the lift, the bright lights and the noise but as soon as we stepped out of the lift I just got so light-headed. Anyway, I ended up throwing up my cup of tea outside the toilets 'cos two daft women refused to stop blocking the door and let me through. I'm regretting turning away and not aiming for their shoes.

I could have hidden in that bathroom for the rest of the day, only coming out when everyone had left.
I thought I'd spare you a photo of the actual cuts. It looks like I have a spider nesting in my belly button. It's kind of creepy.

We 'tested' again today, and with better results. We bought supplies to make mince pies and the last of the Christmas things too. So this week I can do some more relaxing, some baking and hopefully a bit of feeling festive. 

I've totally been milking it for all the fussing and attention I've had. My lovely husband won't let me do a thing for fear of damaging myself further and I've been enjoying it a whole lot....


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The first of the real snow this winter!

 I woke up to a white world this morning. This is the view from our bedroom window:
Tina loves the snow, it was impossible to get her back in the house again.

I've been loving lying in bed and looking out at the snowy roof tops. The snow is so much nicer when you don't have to go out to work. I've been recovering after a minor operation this week, hence the not going out to work bit. As much as I'd like to be outside playing with Tina in the snow, I'm still kind of light headed and afraid of busting a few stitches; so I'm enjoying it from the cosiness of my bed, while my cup of tea gets topped up and little mini cakes and blocks of chocolate make their way to my bedside. I'm never going to lose any weight at this rate. Ah well!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Lee's birthday weekend (image heavy)

Lee's birthday celebrations started on Thursday evening with a meal out at The Spinning Mill in Ballymena. He was off on Friday, and I went in to work earlier so I could get out early to get the train to Belfast where we had a hotel booked for the weekend. We got to our room, checked in, got changed and headed back out to try some Indian at the new Indian restaurant above Kelly's Cellars in the city centre. We were impressed with Saffa (which I'd originally mistaken for a South African restaurant!) and will definitely be back!

I love Belfast at this time of the year, I love the market and the lights and the bustle about the place.
We ate out at Mourne Seafood Bar on Saturday night. We love Mourne and as usual the food was amazing. I had the hot smoked salmon to start and the sea bream for my mains. Lee had mackerel pate and a whole John Dory. We had to stop in for our customary pint at Kelly's Cellars then moved on to our other traditional stop, Maddens. Maddens had some live music so we ended up spending the rest of the night there, or at least until they switched on the lights and it was time to go back to the hotel.
Direct Wine Shipments had their annual Christmas wine tasting event. We were sat at a table with some lovely chatty and friendly ladies, one of whom is a registrar at city hall and was convinced she's met me before. I'm still baffled as to where or how.

Sunday morning after breakfast we took a stroll across to the cinema on the Dublin Road to see Arthur Christmas. It was a cute and feel good film and I'm kind of not ashamed to admit that I teared up a wee bit during it. It's ridiculous how emotional I am during films but that just took it to a new level...crying over a cartoon.
After a stroll through Victoria Square and some Nandos for lunch we met Carri-Ann and Aidan at the Garrick and then it was time to head back to the station and go home. It's always nice to go home and we were cold and tired and especially thankful to be back snuggled up at home on the couch with a blanket and a cup of tea. We really are home-bodies.

We had such a lovely weekend, we ate so much, drank mulled wine at the market, finished the last of our shopping, had a movie date and a few good dinner dates and got some good quality time together.