2017 Bucket List

2017 (Diary from Asda) - Emma's Picture Postcards

I wrote a wordy review last week of my general experiences of 2016 and intentions for 2017, but here’s more of a precise look back at what I fancied doing last year and forward to my plans for this year.  I’ve never really been a New Year’s Resolutions kind of girl, but I couldn’t function without my daily to-do list and I enjoy expanding that to a longer term, no pressure list of fun things I’d like to do.

The 2016 Bucket List (full post here)

What I did that was on the list:

– Went to Skye and Eilean Donan Castle.  These were everything I’d dreamed, and a lovely long-weekend trip.

– Trained for and ran Race for Life in June.  Not only that, but I actually kept it up and then ran the Dandara 5k in September, too.  A bit more on this below, but I really enjoyed running more frequently.  I must admit, I’m a fair weather runner, but I did get out there as soon as spring started to show its face in 2016 and am keen to get back to it soon.

– Did some decorating.  I did take pictures as promised, but I think I was having camera troubles at the time and they’re all fuzzy except for this one, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that we did a good job 🙂  We each have our own little home office in this house and each one is suited to our own tastes now so we’re contented little bees!

Emma's Picture Postcards

Extra things I did:

– became self-employed and started two new jobs.  After a few fiascos and with the offshore industry looking less and less of a wise place to be, I was keen, verging on desperate, to get a job with either the NHS or one of the local universities or councils.  Meanwhile, I decided to see if I could turn my hand to transcription and started freelancing for a company based in London.  As it turns out, I absolutely love it!  I then did find a part-time job at one of the unis, so I’m now splitting my time between the two.  At risk of jinxing it, I’m finding it an absolutely perfect balance.  Both jobs are interesting but in different ways and have their own challenges and rewards.  I find three days in the office the perfect amount of social interaction, while the remaining four days I can set my own schedule of when I want to work, sleep or do other things.  The harder I work at the freelance work, the more I earn, and on the other hand, while of course I’m conscientious in my office job, I can rest easy knowing that I have that secure income each month.

– got into some decent routines.  I got myself a Fitbit in the Black Friday sales in 2015, and realised that the end of the year is a good time for me to establish myself in a routine and feel a little bit rebellious for not doing it in January 😉  It’s helped motivate me to walk a lot more and I upped that into running in the warmer months, plus I’ve kept up my habit of going to at least one or two gym classes a week.  It also helped me work out what sleep routine works best for me, and I’ve realised I’m a real early bird.  I feel best when I’m in bed by 10 and up at 6 – this doesn’t always happen, but it’s the aim, and the difference in how I feel is enough to make sure I keep vaguely to that schedule, even if it does end up being an hour or two later that my sleep starts and finishes.  I’ve learned that I absolutely have to stick to 6-8 hours of sleep though, because if I get more than that, I feel awful and sluggish all day, and if I consistently get less, it’s a one-way ticket to a migraine.  I’ve also been tracking (and upping) my water intake and feel so much better for that too.

– as well as those health-related routines, I’ve gotten into a good routine for keeping myself organised.  I’ve always been a big fan of lists, and for a while now I’ve been writing a daily to-do list with absolutely everything I have to remember on it.  Often this includes everything right down to showering and eating lunch, because it’s not unheard of for 3pm to come and I suddenly realise the reason I’m so light-headed is that I haven’t eaten!  It felt a little bit daft at first, but it really works for me.  It also helped me when I was job-hunting to be able to quickly and easily look back to see what jobs I’d applied for, and to be able to tell James what I’d been up to when he came home from work.  It’s so easy for a well-meant “What did you do today?” to be taken the wrong way when you’re feeling sensitive and dependent!

The 2017 Bucket List

Things I didn’t get to in 2016 but am carrying forward to 2017:

– a trip up Cairngorm mountain on the funicular railway.  A vague plan is already in the works for this, so watch this space!

– Blair Drummond Safari Park

– Edinburgh Zoo

– the Kelpies

New items:

– Footdee – it’s absolutely ridiculous that I’ve lived in Aberdeen for eleven years and never been to one of its most picturesque locations.  Thankfully I righted this wrong the other day and you will soon see the photo evidence!

Footdee, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

– introduce James to my Kiwi friends.  One of my favourite people in the world is a young lady named Erin.  Long story short, she’s from New Zealand, we met in Germany, and she currently lives in the UK.  I’ve seen quite a bit of her and her husband over the last few years, but it’s never worked out for them to meet James – either he’s been away for work, or I’ve visited them while on father-daughter trips to London, etc.  It’s reached the point that there’s a running joke that James doesn’t exist, so I’m hoping to get them up for another visit this year and make the myth a reality.  I may even take them to Loch Ness to look for Nessie too 😉

– explore a new European city (Prague / Venice) or rediscover one I visited in my youth (Paris / Amsterdam / Budapest).  These are the current suggestions but we’ll see.  Europe is our oyster 🙂

– send (and make???) Christmas cards!  This one is non-negotiable, even if I have to start preparing in January 😀

– Last but most random: go to Clatt.  When my gran was a young mum (I’m not sure, but I believe when my dad’s eldest sister was a toddler, so before my dad was even a twinkle in her eye) she lived in a tiny village in Aberdeenshire called Clatt.   She’s always asking me if I’ve been yet, and I haven’t because honestly I think it probably is the definition of a one-horse town, but I actually looked it up the other day and it’s not as far away as I thought, so I’m going to take a little road trip some time soon and take some photos, just because it would tickle her.

What are your dreams for this year?

2016/17

2017 - Emma's Picture Postcards

My blog feed last week included a lot of mentions of 2016 either being downright pants, or a variant of “actually, surprisingly decent, all things considered”. I had a lot of great highlights, but overall it was a pretty rough year for me personally.

A big hurdle was having to quit my job in July, with no new opportunity to go to, no firm idea of what I really wanted to do, and at a time when the employment market in Aberdeen was (is) dire. I have a bad habit of getting emotionally invested in my work, and considering that this particular job was in a very small business, working for people I had considered friends, it was difficult to give up on. I’ve also struggled with a variety of other issues this year, big and small, which have frustrated and upset me and which I’ve dwelled on to a point that I’ve realised is neither healthy nor normal. I’ve been proactive over the last couple of years about getting physically fit and strong, and I’ve decided it’s about time I applied the same approach to my mental health as well. Wish me luck 🙂

My rock throughout, though, has been my little family of three – me, James and Puss, that is – I didn’t pop out a child while your back was turned 😉  James and I have now been together for almost six years, and have had Puss for almost four and our house for three and a half.  The house has felt like home since the day we found it, but I feel like this is the year where we properly settled in and made it our own.  James also finished his PhD this year and got a long-term contract as a researcher in the same department and I’m so proud of him 🙂  I’m proud of our relationship too – I’ve been a pain in the ass at times but he’s been nothing but patient and supportive and kind and understanding, and I feel like we’ve come out of this year stronger and knowing each other better.

The other big positive from the past year that I intend to carry on into 2017 is that I made face-to-face time with friends a priority.  I can sometimes be a little rubbish at keeping in touch remotely, but I have always been a big fan of visiting people wherever they may be.  It can be an effort and an expense, but I’ve never once regretted spending that time and money to see them.  Plus, not only do I get to spend time in their lovely company, but I have an excuse to visit the place they’re in, usually with free accommodation!  In the past I’ve been to Iceland, Gran Canaria, all around Germany and even to New Zealand to see friends and they’re some of my favourite travel experiences.  Closer to home, Sarah and I have gotten into a nice routine of meeting up every few weeks, and I’ve seen my other Aberdeen friends a fair bit but need to up this a little next year.

Speaking of travel, though, 2016 was in theory a low-key travel year for me after big trips to the USA in 2015 and Iceland in 2014, and especially since I was without an income for a while!   I did get a surprising amount packed in though, which was lovely: James and I went to Skye in March, a family party in Dalgety Bay in April, York and Italy in August and Germany in October, plus I also went to London twice, Edinburgh two or three times and to my parents’ house in the Scottish Borders for Christmas.  Most of those were repeat visits but it was my first time to Skye, York and Tuscany, so for a quiet year, my wanderlust quota is quite happy!  In 2017, I’m off to Nottingham next week and we have a trip to Northern Ireland planned for late spring some time and Italy in August for a wedding.  We’re also hoping to head off for a city break or two somewhere in Europe – the list of potential destinations for this is as long as my arm so we might have to pick one out of a hat 🙂

As for blogging, it’s been a mixed year on that front too.  I went along to my first blogger meet-up in March, which feels like a lifetime ago.  Getting involved in the local blogging community has brought some lovely experiences and friendships and fun opportunities, but also occasional feelings of comparison and obligation that I’d pretty much managed to avoid previously.  I think that was helpful though, because I now have quite a firm idea of what my priorities and expectations are.  First and foremost, I’m here for my own enjoyment, because I like writing and taking photos and having people read and look at them, especially if they like them.  I would like to post more regularly and not worry about every post being the best it can possibly be.  I’m going to try to remember that I’m not trying to write something that’s helpful, but something that’s enjoyable and that maybe provokes a bit of thought or wanderlust.  I’m never going to be a daily blogger.  I said this time last year that once a week feels ideal, and I agree with that now.  Looking back at my stats, I posted half as many posts in 2016 as in 2015, which makes me sad, but I got twice as many views and visitors, which is nice.  Part of that is natural growth and me telling people the blog exists, and some is from casual social media promotion – again, I’m confident that I’m never going to be a social media guru, especially because I usually just don’t like Twitter, but I’m happy with my current level of dabbling.

Anyway, I’ve been writing this post for days so I’m going to go ahead and push ‘publish’.  Enough naval-gazing for now 🙂  Happy New Year and speak to you soon!

Happy Things, October 2016

Autumn Leaves - Emma's Picture Postcards

I always enjoy reading people’s collections of little positive things but it’s been ages since I last wrote one! Here are a few things making me smile:

  1. My new job, self-employment and my first big tax refund! Since quitting my last job I’ve been (and still am) looking for a new, traditional, 9-to-5 office job. Aberdeen is full of unemployed, overqualified people at the moment though and it’s a bit of a struggle. In the meantime, I’ve started working as a freelance audio typist, and I absolutely love it. The pay isn’t great (you get paid for each minute of audio you transcribe, rather than how long it takes you, so with practice I’ll start earning more per hour) but it’s enjoyable, gives me at least a little income, means I won’t have a big gap in my CV, and gives me another skill and experience which will hopefully be useful for future jobs. I also received a great big tax refund since my tax had been calculated on the assumption I’d continue in my old job for the rest of the financial year – I knew it would be coming, but it still felt like an amazing bonus when it did!
    Apple and Bramble Pie - Emma's Picture Postcards
  2. Baking and cooking! James is the one with the skills (enthusiasm, patience, imagination) in our kitchen, and normally does most (all) of the cooking. Recently I’ve been trying to give him a break and take a week off his plate (I can’t think of a less punny way to say that, haha) every 3-4 weeks. Usually I rustle up a few of his or my mum’s regulars and try one new thing that I’ve half dreamed up myself and then looked up on BBC Good Food for rough guidance on quantities and measurements. Last week I made what I’d imagined as a stew/casserole, but decided to turn into a really delicious pasta sauce, with tomatoes, sausage, chorizo and peppers, and my mouth is watering just at the thought of it. While it was simmering away, I made an apple and bramble pie as my October effort for Bumpkin Betty’s Baking Club. I used this Hairy Bikers’ recipe, but because we only have a teeny little flan tin, I halved the ingredients. This didn’t leave me enough pastry for the lid and I’d pretty much run out of flour, but with the help of the internet again (what on earth did we do before Google?) I found this open-top apple pie recipe, and covered mine with a half-lattice, half-crumble concoction. I popped it in the oven and proceeded to hover around, peeking through the door to see how it was getting on, because by this stage I had no idea how long I needed to bake it! And the result? *Drum roll*… it turned out perfect. Yay! To date, I am 3 for 3 and the world’s luckiest baker.
    Dornstetten, Germany - Emma's Picture Postcards
  3. A quick trip to the Black Forest, for the wedding of my favourite German! We started out as exchange students when we were 15, and were lucky enough to actually like each other and stay in regular contact afterwards! We’ve visited each other every couple of years since then, and really feel like family now. It was wonderful to be there for her wedding, to be back in her home village, to spend some quality time with her family and friends, and to introduce James to a place that’s been a big part of my life.
    Stranger Things Halloween Party - Emma's Picture Postcards
  4. A wonderful week in London. I’ll write a full post soon, but the original premise was for Dad and I to go to another NFL game. The friends I’d planned to stay with then invited me to a Stranger Things themed Halloween party the following weekend, so I decided to stay a week! I really enjoyed both events, the chance to catch up with London- and Nottingham-based friends, and the opportunity to spend a whole week with my Kiwi friends. There’s nothing like knowing your friends will eventually return to the literal opposite end of the Earth to make you appreciate their current, relatively convenient home!

Happy Halloween! Let me know your October highlights 🙂

Lately

Emma's Picture Postcards

Hi! I fell off the radar for a little while there, for a combination of reasons. Mainly, I quit my job, a decision that took up most of my thoughts and emotions for a couple of weeks. I’d never imagined leaving a job without a new one to go to, but bizarrely it was actually the most sensible option! So I’m currently unemployed, but hopefully it will just be short-term.

Secondly, I almost don’t want to mention it since it’s been so over-discussed, but Brexit really hit me hard. I was absolutely astonished by the referendum result, and the fact that it happened on the very same day I quit my job didn’t exactly help me process it! What did help, though, was reading posts from British bloggers who managed to sum up their thoughts (and my feelings) very eloquently: Katy, Morag, Freya, Shannon, Amber and especially Alex.

Third is a nicer reason, which is that I’ve had an unusually full social calendar lately! I had a wonderful catch-up with two of my oldest and favourite friends, one of whom I hadn’t seen for a year as she had been away travelling the world, and the other of whom had just gotten engaged. We had so much to talk about, and washed it down with far too much prosecco and enough home-cooked pasta and bruscetta to feed about 10.

York - Emma's Picture Postcards

I also got to spend time with some new friends, with a couple of visits to Sarah and her daughter Matilda, which were fun, interesting and relaxing all at once, and a weekend trip to York to hang out with James’s best uni friends. York is one of James’s favourite cities, and I quickly saw why, as it’s very charming, and full of quiet little pubs (the main attraction for him, as he’s been an old man since his teens 😀 ). I already knew one of his friends as he’d been up to visit us in Aberdeen, but I hadn’t met the others and was a little bit nervous to impose myself on an established group. I needn’t have worried though as they were lovely and I quickly settled in to a great weekend of eating, drinking, chatting and playing board and card games. The weather was glorious (I even wore shorts!), except on the first night, when James got so thoroughly drenched on the way to dinner that every time the waiter passed him, he punched his shoulder and laughed, “Ha ha! Wet boy.”

Anyway, I’ve missed sharing on this little space, and hope I’m back into the swing of it now. I have had a few drafts on the go, but every time I’ve started writing, my neighbours have started yelling at each other and I’ve lost my train of thought! Let me know in the comments what you’ve been up to lately and check back soon for some book reviews 🙂

A Weekend Video and Mum’s Pavlova Recipe

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Sarah and Louise recently started a new link-up called This Little Big Life, celebrating the weekend. I decided to join in with a video capturing some of last weekend’s little moments. It was a fairly standard weekend for me – I also went to the gym twice as usual, but no-one needs to see that 😉

Featured:

  1. a quick and breezy walk by the beach
  2. playing hide-and-seek with Lucy
  3. attempting to give Lucy a treat and somehow managing to bounce it under the bathroom door
  4. mmm bacon
  5. Lucy being offended by a fly
  6. Formula 1
  7. pavlova prep
  8. my favourite dinner (James’s lime and coriander chicken)
  9. snoozy cuddles
  10. failing to cut up a mango
  11. pavlova end result
  12. sparrow feeding frenzy
  13. the largest carrot in the land
  14. and more cuddles (and yes those are Christmas pyjamas, what of it 😛 )

This month’s theme for the Bumpkin Betty Baking Club was “free from”, so I decided it was finally time to take up my mum’s mantle and have a go at making her famous (and gluten-free) pavlova. This is such a family favourite that I think if Mum turned up to a family party without it, she’d probably not be invited in 😉 The recipe is as follows:

Ingredients: 3 egg whites, 175g caster sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence, 1/2 teaspoon vinegar, 1 level teaspoon corn flour, plus cream and fruit to go on top.

Method:

– Preheat your oven to 150C.

– Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff and form small peaks. You should pretty much be able to turn the bowl upside down without them falling out! I really recommend getting yourself a hand-held electric whisk – we have one similar to this which doubles as a blender and it saves so much time and effort!

– Gradually whisk in the sugar.

– Whisk in the rest of the ingredients.

– Draw a circle on a sheet of greaseproof paper (draw around a dinner plate). Place the paper on a baking tray and scoop your mixture out of the bowl and onto the circle. It should be a little bit thicker round the edge.

– Bake for 1 hour. Keep an eye on it, especially if you have a fan oven – if it starts to brown, you may want to pop some foil over the top.

– Turn the oven off and leave the pavlova inside to cool [I’m not sure if Mum actually does this – I’m sure she’ll tell us in the comments – but as I was about to remove it, I suddenly thought “wait!” and googled].

– Top with whipped cream and fruit of your choice. I went for mango and kiwi this time for a summery tropical topping, but strawberries and/or raspberries are a more traditional choice – whatever takes your fancy!

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Happiness Link Up

Daffodils - Emma's Picture Postcards

I’ve been feeling unusually frazzled lately, and have been dealing with some of my migraine symptoms. I get a variety of them: flashing vision / blind spots; sensitivity to light, noise, smell and/or touch; headaches, neck pain and general achyness; fluctuating body temperature; nausea and sickness… you get the picture. Thankfully (and weirdly) I’ve only been experiencing one symptom at a time, but unfortunately each one has lasted for a few days, including two days of blindness, which got pretty boring!

Anyway, that was a bit of a bleak intro, but my point is that as a result of feeling a bit off, my productivity is a bit low and although I have a few blog posts started, I can’t seem to get them finished. However I’ve just read Jasmin Charlotte’s Happiness Link Up post and thought I’d jump on the bandwagon to perk myself up a bit!

  1. Quality time with friends and family. James and I are off to my cousin’s tomorrow for a family bbq, and I popped to London (or at least that was the plan – see #2!) to celebrate a friend’s 30th birthday last week. I got to have a great catch-up with the birthday boy and his wife, who I haven’t seen since they came to visit last year, another few friends from the same group who I haven’t seen for a few years, and I also invited along my school friend who lives in London and I last saw in Edinburgh last year.
    Emma's Picture Postcards
  2. Sweet surprises. I had a classic Emma disastrous journey on the way back from London. I have the worst travel luck of anyone I’ve met – I might do a post at some point listing all my misadventures! Anyway it happens so regularly that after the initial upset I quickly get over it and get on with getting myself to my destination. However the friends I went to visit aren’t so accustomed to it, and I opened the door a couple of days later to a beautiful basket of flowers from them! It was such a lovely surprise and brought a wee tear to my eye!
    Dr Knox's Enigma - Emma's Picture Postcards
  3. Escape-the-room adventure. The Scotland-based contingent of my school friends met up in Edinburgh last month and had a go at Dr Knox’s Enigma. Escape games are popping up in most cities now and I really recommend you give one a try! It was so much fun and really got the adrenaline flowing, I honestly started to think towards the end that I might have a heart attack (drama queen), but we were a good team and worked out the clues, escaping the room with three minutes to spare!
  4. Avenue Q. I went to see Avenue Q and laughed SO much. Highly recommended.
    Emma's Picture Postcards
  5. Decorating! As I mentioned in my 2016 bucket list, my mum kindly agreed to come up to Aberdeen and help me do some decorating. We had a nice sunny week for it so we opened the windows, stuck the radio on and cracked on. We got two rooms done – the second bedroom / my study (above), which was previously peach with one blue wall, with a bare patch where there had been a naff vanity mirror, and James’s study, which had been the previous owners’ baby’s room, complete with bright yellow walls and an animal frieze! It’s now grey to suit his grim Northern Irish demeanour 😉 This week I used the last of the grey paint to put a couple of coats on the end wall of our bedroom, covering up the Polyfilla patches you can see in this photo – the previous owners had wave-shaped mirrors up there, which they took with them, leaving some nice holes for us to fill in! [On a tangent, I have to double-check every time I use the word Polyfilla, because I confuse it with Poligrip, haha!]
    Isle of Skye - Emma's Picture Postcards
  6. Celebrations with James. It was our 5-year anniversary last month, and we celebrated with a little trip to Skye (full post coming soon). This month it was his birthday, so we went for a meal at our favourite, Jewel in the Crown, and then he submitted his PhD thesis and booked our summer holiday – we’re off to Italy and I can. not. wait.
    Emma's Picture Postcards
  7. Spring! April has been a little bit of a let-down this year – it’s snowed and/or hailed pretty much every day in Aberdeen! But between the cold showers it has been nice and sunny, and the long hours of daylight and all the flowers make me happy 🙂
  8. I wasn’t sure how much travel I’d manage this year after my trip to the USA last year, and with trying to keep my spending low since I’m job hunting! However I’m actually getting in a fair amount of jet-setting – Skye, London (twice), Italy and finally Germany in October, for a dear friend’s wedding. We started out as penpals and did an exchange when we were 15, and have stayed in touch and visited each other every couple of years since. She’s like an extra sister now, and I’m so excited to be there for her wedding. Plus it’ll add another culture to the list of weddings I’ve attended – so far I’ve experienced Scottish, English, New Zealand (with a Bollywood dance for fun), US, Romanian and Finnish!

Make sure to take a look at Jasmin Charlotte’s post, and the widget at the bottom linking to a few other people’s cheery posts – sure to boost your mood ready for the weekend 🙂

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Photo an Hour, March 2016

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

07:00 “up and dressed and already perplexing the cat”

New Look leggings, H&M top

James has had the flu this week and has been sleeping in the spare room – he says it’s purely for selfish reasons so he can roll about more, but I took it as a kind gesture as it’s meant I haven’t been woken by his coughing. Plus it gives me the rare opportunity to get dressed in the bedroom without being in the dark! Puss has been sharing her time very fairly between us, but me sitting on the floor to take this photo was just too much for her little brain.

BodyPump - Emma's Picture Postcards

08:00 “BodyPump – little weights for my little arms”

I’m still a big fan of BodyBalance but have also started going to BodyPump once a week. It’s basically weightlifting to music, which sounds a little bizarre especially for someone of my stature, but is amazing. As per the caption I’m still using pretty small weights but it gets a little easier each time and is already having a noticeable effect – a few weeks ago I went to buy some new leggings (including the ones above) and had to size up because there are actual muscles in my thighs 😮

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

09:00 “welcome home party – I already see a pattern emerging in my #photoanhour #crazycatlady”

There’s always trouble when I have the audacity to leave the house – she walks around meowing loudly and incessantly until James shuts her in a room with him and makes her lie down!

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

10:00 “shower time, and now for second breakfast”

I love this mirror, which came with the house. I also love second breakfast 😉

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

11:00 “I’m not sure ‘choose your right dosing’ is how I would have phrased it #engrish”

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

12:00 “such a lovely sunny day! Coffee mug originally held mulled wine at Stuttgart Christmas market

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

13:00 “my fork is reflecting light onto the wall and it’s terribly exciting”

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

14:00 “about to attempt baking a cake for the first time in approximately 15 years… wish me luck!”

I’d fancied giving baking a try for a little while and was finally given a nudge by Bumpkin Betty’s new baking club – the theme this month is “cooking with vegetables” so I went for this simple carrot cake recipe.

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

15:00 “well apparently the only phone pic I took this hour was of the grated carrots, so… ta-da!”

Grating three carrots was ridiculously hard work, especially after this morning’s gym class! I’m such a wimp 😉

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

16:00 “trip hazard”

This brings my total to 25% cat photos for the day – I feel that’s an accurate representation of my day-to-day camera roll 😉

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

17:00 “I’d say that’s a pretty successful cake 😀 ”

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

18:00 “steak and chips and pepper sauce. Yum”

I wish I’d wiped that horrible smear off the plate, but apparently my stomach won that battle!

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

19:00 “…and Black Sails 🙂 ”

Still loving this show, it’s gotten less gratuitous since my review, and in exchange they’ve really upped the ante on the drama, and I love that it’s quite unpredictable.

Carrot Cake - Emma's Picture Postcards

20:00 “unsure if it looks better or worse with icing but mmm it tastes good”

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

21:00 “finally painted my nails, have been meaning to all day”

The colour is “Uptown Glamour” by Kate Spade for Nails Inc, and my heart has just broken a little because it seems to have been a limited edition that was released as a free gift with Glamour magazine a few years ago, so I won’t be able to replace it when it’s gone. It’s a really lovely pale gold-ish, brown-ish, silver-ish colour that goes with everything.

Photo an Hour - Emma's Picture Postcards

22:00 “tickets bought to go see Avenue Q next week. Off to bed soon so that’s my first #photoanhour complete!”

My purse is by MenKai, and I’m not sure where I got it, I think it was maybe a gift.

This particular monthly Photo an Hour project is hosted by Jane and Louisa. Jane will be posting the list of everyone who took part this month, so keep an eye out for that if you want a peek at some more versions of 27th March! I always enjoy reading these posts and had fun taking part too. I took all the photos on my phone for the sake of convenience and also ease of uploading them (I posted them on Twitter throughout the day) and the biggest thing I’ve noticed is the huge difference in quality between the ones taken in natural and artificial light!

How did you spend your Easter weekend?

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#abzmeet at Tea Zone

Tea Zone, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Last weekend I met up with some of the other lovely bloggers based in and around Aberdeen. It was so nice to meet everyone, especially as there were three of us who were along for the first time. It was an unusually mild and sunny day, with no wind (unheard of in Aberdeen!) and we spent a really relaxing couple of hours chatting. I seem to have caught Amey warming her hands on her teapot in this picture, sorry Amey!

Abzmeet - Aberdeen Bloggers Meet at Tea Zone - Emma's Picture Postcards

Tea Zone, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

We went to newly opened Tea Zone, a gorgeous little tea shop just off the Castlegate in the city centre. How cozy is that little window nook?! After choosing our teas from the large selection, and of course a cheeky slice of cake (yum) we made ourselves comfortable in the seating area in the next room, which we were lucky enough to be the first customers to use since it was decorated!

Tea Zone, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

Tea Zone, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

I’ve mentioned before that I was never a tea fan until recently, when I discovered green tea – before that I’d only tried black tea (bitter, yuck) and fruit teas (smell good, taste of nothing). This time I tried a ginger and orange green tea, and it was really good – I’ll be back to try some of the others available. The teas are served in a beautiful glass teapot, which yields 3-4 cups, with a glass bowl underneath holding a tea light to keep it at the perfect temperature. As for the cakes and bakes, some are made in-house, while the chocolate orange brownie I sampled was provided by another local business, Cake. As usual, I was tempted by the carrot cake but sucked in by the chocolate option, but everyone around the table was happy with their selection.

Tea Zone, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

If you fancy some more weekend reading, check out the ladies’ blogs: Amey, Eni, Iga, KarenKatherine, Laura, Sarah and Sarah

And if you’re a blogger in the Aberdeen area, join us for our weekly Twitter chat using #abzchat, Wednesdays 8-9pm, and join our Facebook group for details of our next meet.

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2016 Bucket List

Kings Chapel, Aberdeen - Emma's Picture Postcards

So I’m the kind of person who, when I know something might happen, subconsciously talks myself around to it, to the extent that I sometimes convince myself it’s definitely happening. James’s contract at Aberdeen University is due to finish in April, and although his supervisor was working on securing a big grant to hopefully keep him on, he’d mentioned that if that didn’t work out, he’d look at a couple of other opportunities – at the opposite end of the UK.

Aberdeen is our home – I’ve lived here for ten years now, and James for five, and we bought our house here two years ago. We have really good friends here, and it’s a nice place to live – just the right size of city, big enough that it has all you need, but small enough that it still has a sense of community, plus I love being by the sea – although I’m the first to admit that being this far north, in a city built mostly out of grey granite, can be pretty depressing in winter.

All that said, we were keen to stay in Aberdeen if possible, not least because James absolutely loves his job and department, but we weren’t against the idea of moving. My job is currently based from home anyway, and there are more opportunities in my line of work in the major English cities. The weather would be better, and we wouldn’t have to work out which major airport was most convenient to transfer via when going on holiday, because we’d be near some of them… Safe to say, in the back of my mind, I’d come round to the idea and was kinda looking forward to a fresh start.

You guessed it – the grant was secured, James had an interview, and we are 100% definitely in Aberdeen for the next four years. Haha. I am happy about it, and very proud of him, and it’s great to have the security of knowing exactly where we’ll be. But to make it seem a little extra shiny, I decided to make a bucket list for this year, to make the most of being close to the lovely things Scotland has to offer!

  1. Edinburgh Zoo. I visited Edinburgh Zoo so many times as a child, and I don’t have a single tiny negative memory about it. I absolutely love it, and it’s been too long since I’ve been back. Nothing will stop me making a trip this year.
  2. Blair Drummond Safari Park. On the other hand, I have never been to a safari park, despite the fact that there’s a really good one a couple of hours away. This looks like such a fun day out so I really hope to make it happen in the summer.
  3. Race for Life. I’ve done the Baker Hughes 10K twice with work colleagues, the first time with very little training and the second with more. I’m planning to sign up for Race for Life to get me back into doing some cardio (and of course because I love the cause!) but I think I might stick to the 5K this time so I’m not quite so crippled afterwards! I’ve been really inspired by Lucy in the Clouds’s “13 x 13” Challenge so am looking forward to getting my trainers on when the weather gets a little warmer.
  4. Skye. When my mum was little, she and her parents and siblings used to go to the little Highland town of Gairloch regularly, and when I was a teenager she took us on holiday there, and we were instantly hooked. We’ve been back so many times since, both all together as a family and separately. As much as I love visiting new places around the world, a trip to Gairloch will always be at the top of my getaway wishlist, and there’s nowhere else that makes me feel so calm. The Highlands have so many beautiful places though, and across the water from Gairloch is the spectacular Isle of Skye, and I’d love to finally make it over there to explore.
  5. Eilean Donan Castle. And conveniently located on the way to Skye, is Eilean Donan Castle – you know the one, it’s pinned about 1,000 times a day on Pinterest.
  6. CairnGorm Mountain. I actually listed “Cairngorms National Park” originally, but looking at the map I’ve actually visited the park quite a few times without really realising it – taking clients to the distilleries in Granton-on-Spey and Tomintoul this summer; a day white water rafting near Aviemore; a hen weekend in a cottage at Glenlivet; a road trip to Ballater a couple of years ago. The main thing I have in mind though is a trip on the Funicular Railway, which I didn’t know existed until my parents went there this summer. The scenery is spectacular from the road, but I’d like to go up the mountain and see it from above.
  7. The Kelpies. A giant road-side sculpture which I’ve so far only been able to admire in photos. I’m hoping to take a detour to see them next time I drive home to visit my family in the Scottish Borders.
  8. Decorate! We were really lucky to find our house as it was in great condition, and we haven’t had to do much to it apart from some minor repairs to the roof and guttering, replacing the boiler, oven and a chunk of fence. We really need to get some painting done though. I’ve never done any decorating before and didn’t really know where to start, but when my mum asked if there was anything I wanted for Christmas, I jokingly asked her to come up and help, and to my surprise she said yes! So hopefully with her help we’ll soon have some shiny new rooms – I’ll take before and after pictures 🙂

What’s on your bucket list for this year?

Happy Things, Oct ’15

Garden Birds - Emma's Picture Postcards

I am 100% a summer person and dread the colder months, but so far, so good this autumn. Here are some little things keeping me cheery:

  1. Autumn itself has its perks: scarves and boots; crisp, cold, sunny days; pretty coloured trees; soft daylight; candles. I also realised tonight that I really love a dramatic fog haha, it makes me feel like I’m in a mystery novel!
  2. I’ve made it through the awkward growing-out phase of my pixie cut and my hair is now the perfect length for a little bun – quick and easy, and a lot more flattering than the strange creations I was resorting to involving hair bands and pins!
  3. Working from home is an absolute dream, for a whole load of reasons:
    – I can work when I actually feel productive. And I can go shopping on weekdays!
    – My commute home from the office was so draining that I never did anything in the evenings except eat dinner and lounge around, trying to muster up the energy to do the dishes or go to a gym class. I’m naturally quite lazy and messy, especially when tired, but at the same time I really like to have things clean and tidy, and feel drained and distracted when they’re not – a vicious cycle! Now I’m home all the time I’m completely on top of my chores, and have really noticed a difference in how I feel.
    – I also no longer have any excuse not to go to gym classes, so have been going once or twice every week. I’d go more often but twice is usually more than enough for my abs! 😀 As a result I’m feeling fitter and sleeping better.
    – Another health perk is that I’ve finally, properly, started drinking water. This is always a vague goal, but in an office environment it’s so easy to drink endless cups of coffee. Plus, although tap water here in Scotland is good by any standards, I prefer bottled water, but felt guilty about the unnecessary expense, and all those plastic bottles! I’ve now accepted that if I don’t buy bottled water I’ll just drink coffee and/or fruit juice, which are more expensive, have just as much packaging and are worse for me, so I buy large bottles and use them to refill a small glass bottle which I keep on my desk. Why not drink out of a glass or cup, you ask? Not when you have this little monkey around, who will only drink out of her own dish if she has no alternative:
  4. Speaking of Lucy, she’s been so happy to have company during the day, and also that we’ve started turning the heating on again so she can lie on her favourite spot on the landing, which is warmed by the hot water pipes! She’s such a sweet-natured, affectionate cat, and so playful – some time soon I’ll post a video of her playing, if I can manage to catch one with decent lighting and without me laughing too much in the background!
  5. We’ve made lots of progress on the house in the last month or two. We had such amazing luck finding this place, as it’s bigger and better than we thought we could afford, and was in good condition (well, apart from the boiler…!) There were a few things starting to need patched up though, and now that we no longer need to try to coordinate tradesmen with days off work, we’ve flown through the check list – we had someone clear the gutters and do a small repair on the roof, and replaced the oven and a section of fence that had blown down.
  6. My aunt gave me this cute owl-shaped bird feeder for Christmas, and we bought this “feeding station” to hang it from. It’s been such a pleasure spotting the different garden birds, and hearing their birdsong. So far we’ve seen sparrows, pigeons, starlings, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, chaffinches, gold finches, blackbirds and a robin, who is singing his little heart out now autumn’s here!

Garden Birds - Emma's Picture Postcards

Garden Birds - Emma's Picture Postcards

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