Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Time to say goodbye to anxiety

I have always focused on the positives in this blog and on most days, mainly weekend ones, that's an easy feat. I truly love my weekends at home with my family and of course those two weeks in Florida were bliss for me. Just pure family time, and time to be me, totally in the present.

In the Winter and Spring:
Each Friday night has that feel of endless days ahead and I stay up late, drink wine, watch a really late movie and love to go to bed late.
Saturdays I love to run or walk the dog and clean the house, yes I enjoy cleaning my home, or shopping for homey stuff and now I have someone that will come and dust the house, its even better.
Sundays are for a run in the sportsplex and for a family breakfast, blog time and Skype time with my pals in England, I wander about in post exersize and shower bliss, often in my PJs, looking at new projects for our home, more decorating ones mainly or planning a trip. And walking the dogs, of course.

Summer is a variation on this theme, mainly to include beach days and running outside.

So the weekends rock but its not all great.
I have had some real anxiety this year. I feel it build up as I try to sleep and insomnia becomes my friend. I have had days of going into work on just an hour of sleep and that could be the second or third time in a week. Its been hideous. And constant.

I know what I need to do to stop this happening but that takes time and is widely out of my control so in the meantime I am working on managing the anxiety and more often than not I fail. And get snippy.. and down and have to come back to this blog to re-read it to make myself feel more upbeat about everything else in my life.

I have so much good in my life and so much to look forward to and I saw this the other day:

This really makes sense to me. I have all kinds of plans for next year and I plan to achieve them all, but to add to that - constant overwhelming anxiety needs to become a thing of my past. This is not me, I have been lucky to never have felt this in this way before and it will not own me.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

on the hunt.....

Its Boxing Day morning and given the number of people that are in this house, I am having a precious period of quiet. All the kids are upstairs, no doubt making a lot of mess, Paul is asleep, my friends are downstairs asleep and I am thinking..........

I want to find a new Key West. And no, thats not an actual NEW Key West but maybe a more grownup, quieter, less body paint and Spring Breakers, but the same beachy, restaurant, food vibe place where we can go.  I guess I really want some place where all the romance of Key West is but lacking drunkenness, tacky T-shirt shops (and they are REALLY tacky - I dont want to read the slogans much less have my girls do so), homeless bums, radical people that are all out there and general chaos of each night.

I used to love it, but not anymore. Paul swears that its changed but I am not sure, perhaps we have changed.
And I have no problem with those that are radical and all out there, just not shoved in my face in such a fashion,.. I dont care about your sexual preferences, hey I am all for happiness and some of my best friends are gay, but I do draw the line at rampant behaviour under my nose. I dont care for it, in short. Some things are best left private.

And Key West is a mecca for this stuff,its a party town and it parties extremely well.

But I dont anymore, in fact we dont anymore.
We want laid back, toes in the sun fun, a place where the cares of everyday slip away almost instantly. Somewhere with little shops that sell funky treasures by local artists, hole in the wall beach bars, flamingo pink and aqua houses, little waterfront restaurants where they serve up fresh, locally caught snapper and hogfish, followed by Key Lime pie.
And this sounds a little like Key West doesnt it, and it is, but without the debauchery... somewhere where I can take the girls without fear of what they may see....

So, I am on the hunt, and thankful to Google as it will help me, find the next spot to go and check out in our quest for this tranquility
.The images above are from a google search of small towns in Florida - this is Anna Maria Island.... I think this will be my first research spot

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Queen and Idris

So today I caught up with some friends back in England, Wales to be exact, where I lived from the age of 12 to 16 and have many happy memories.

I recall the little end house that became our home that had no heating upstairs but a big friendly kitchen in which the Rayburn threw out almost constant heat.
Mostly I remember my days down the farm, my first ride of Queen, bringing in the horses - Queen, Elsa (who was 32 at the time and had a sunken back and an attitude), Tombo (also ancient and rescued from a garden) and then the little Welsh pony stallion Idris,who nipped.

Happy days of riding up the mountain, bringing cows down, cleaning tack, mucking out stables, jumping styles and walking miles. Lying on my  back on the mountain with my best friend and looking at a very high up plane going over and leaving a trail and telling her that I would move to New York one day.

Pony club games and shows, Shadow my beautiful pony, the Buch field and swimming in the river. How I took it all for granted.

But time rolls on doesnt it, while I grew up and made my own way that place remained, those people remained and its still a wonderful spot to visit but Elsa passed away as did Tombo, years ago, Shadow was sold when I was 15 and had outgrown him and now today I heard that Queen had passed on at 32 years of age this summer and so had Idris just this Fall. And my heart breaks for that kind mare, for our precious rides up the farm road and for that feisty little chestnut stallion.

 The waterfall in Onllwyn that we used to swim in
 The railway line that we used to ride along, there were only two trains a day

The Buch

Monday, 23 December 2013

what things I will pay for... and those I wont

So, I was just looking at the driveway in wonder (its mostly ice-covered) and was thinking that we dont have any safety salt. I dont even know where to buy it and honestly, do we even need it?
When I was in Bed Bath and Beyond the other day I was a little overwhelmed by the variety of gadgets in there.. there was something for everything and I realized that I dont buy most things that I cant see a real use for.

I dont see a real use for safety salt on our driveway, if its that icy no ones going anywhere anyway and we dont have any steps to take care of.

We dont have a snowblower, they are uber expensive and the driveways not THAT big, having said all that I dont do the lions share of shovelling the driveway.

I dont want a Kitchen Aid. Sure I like cupcakes like any one else but I cant justify $399 (on sale price) for that shiny gadget.

I dont believe I need reusable K cups for my Keurig machine, I either use a K cup with coffee in it (preferably hazelnut vanilla or similiar) or I use the coffee pot and make loads. Besides the Keurig comes with a reusable cup, I just need to pop out the fixture in it, easy.

We dont have GPS in the car. It comes free with my phone if I really feel the need and I am old school in that a map gets my vote over some voiceover that will send me miles out of my way and possibly the wrong way.

I do like aloe but not aloe vera. Yes I know these are one and the same but a bottle of something with aloe will pull my interest whilst aloe vera has the same effect on me as Coronation Street (no thank you)

Lime and coconut will always be a hit with me as will Banana Republic, Reef flipflops and Kiss My Face creamy cleanser.

I am also approving of air conditioning in cars and power steering but not a camera that shows me how close I am to the kerb or whats behind me, surely thats what windows and paying attention are for.

I am happy to pay $600 for 3 cords of wood for my winter heating but cant bear the thought of paying Nova Scotia power money for heat, cant bear it.

I like Ford Mustangs but so does Irving and Esso. Can I face paying to run it to Halifax and back, probably not. I like my little Hyundai with its $50 fill up point when gas is at its most expensive.

I am starting to wonder if maybe I am just good old fashioned tight but no, on closer inspection I know I will happily go on holiday, buy airline tickets that result in an arrival in some Florida airport, rent a beach house, buy restaurant meals every night in a place where I constantly smell of sunscreen, pay to get into a theme park in Orlando and buy a Christmas decoration with an alligator on it. If it has Key Lime written on it, its for me, if theres a chance to go snorkelling in pristine waters I am there.... if theres some band playing Sweet Home Alabama in a place where I can buy conch fritters and the best pina coladas bring it on....

So... I am saving my safety salt, car GPS and Kitchen Aid (or other kitchen gadget) money for my next trip down South..... Theres freezing rain coming down outside for the third day in a row now. I feel some plans coming on.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

New Years Resolutions - 2014

Its Sunday morning, the rain is falling outside on all that pretty white snow, effectively turning it into ice and I waiting on this not so good wifi link to download page 8a of the Keys Citizen so that I can continue with my Sunday morning read of Tan Lines, my own little foray into the heat and happiness down in the Keys, whilst I have breakfast.
I managed to mess up this morning by not getting up early enough and therefore not making it to the Sportsplex by 8am for my run and now they are playing baseball in there and I have no desire to run whilst thats going on. I will get there for 12.30 and enjoy the solitude then and again thank my stars that we live here and I am not generally fighting off crowds for some space on the track.

I have been putting together the new years resolutions lists for this upcoming year and have decided that they will not be quite so vague as last years. I want to be specific between Jan and Mar and then vaguer for the more further away months. Some resolutions will sound perhaps ridiculous but they mean something to moi.

So here goes:

  • Commit to the Combat timetable for the month of January
  • Run at least once a week for all the snow and ice covered months, increasing to 4 days a week once the roads are run-able again
  • Increase from 5km to 8km (if not 10km) without screwing up my knees
  • Enter two races - Soul Sister and Mud hero - and run them (no gallbladder ops this year)
  • Drive to Maine for a long weekend
  • Call my Grandparents once every couple of weeks
  • Buy another pair of Reefs
  • Purchase a pool heater
  • Learn something new at work, completely new, never done it before new and get through the pain of the learning curve
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter, feed Nova Scotia, or something similar
  • Continue our project "Build our House" or "Buy a new one" in the same vein, ie not forgoing anything on the wish list or becoming budget careless
  • Look further into the Florida pad
  • Maybe get back to the UK for a visit
The last one is uber vague but actually may be arranged sooner rather than later at this rate.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

A look back

In the spirit of not making News years resolutions and then conveniently making them redundant like the current budget often always is, by the 4th week of a new year, I took a look to see how I have done this year. So Last years NY Resolutions were pretty attainable.

1. I feel like the year at work was pretty successful and I have grown, no idea what next year will bring but hopefully in the same direction.

2. I did well with the healthy stuff for the first half of the year and enjoyed running at 5km successfully,. since Fall its been harder and frankly I have fallen off the wagon. Today I have climbed back on!
I never went back to Yoga, it didnt really do it for me, I didnt find the relaxing poses relaxing in the slightest and hate the downward facing dog.

3. Same with zumba, never achieved it but I did swop it for Combat which I love but is intense and requires your everyday commitment which I struggled with.

4. We didnt really save very much for our vacation to the Keys but we definitely went and we had THE BEST time.

5. Home - check!

6.Weaknesses - yup, recognize them now

7. Aging - hmmmm - hitting the big old 39 soon and actually its ok. I know what my style is and I am cool with all this now. Banana Republic is where its at!

8. Got someone else to do something in the garden, otherwise was a big old fail on the gardening front.

9. Didnt really get to the beach that much which was a huge shame as the beaches rock here

10. Definitely ate out more! Discovered Swiss Chalet, a great Thai in Bedford and ate out every day and at every place in Florida

11. We spent more time in Halifax this year but at different things, we didnt make it to the boardwalk enough in my opinion.

12. I did stay at the Atlantica three times! Three nights for work so does that count? One night for our Anniversary! One night for work again but at the South Shore.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

mid week snow

We had another dump of snow yesterday, a good 30cms (10 was forecast of course) and I opted to work from home. This was purely on the basis of my trip to drop off the girls, the one where it became quickly apparent that the snow was just resting on top of that thick bumpy slippery ice thats been plaguing everyone all week and the snow was deep. It came up to the underneath of my car and no snowplow had showed its face.

The news was full of accidents on the 102 and the reporting of the 18 wheeler off the road on the highway that I was due to travel down. I then had to make three attempts to even get out of the road and that, along with the 18 wheeler news sealed the deal.
I have also discovered this week that winter tires do not deal successfully with ice and I was getting to the stage where I kept it all crossed that I didnt have to brake at all, as the car just didnt stop.

So back home I came, to the joy of the dogs and had a peaceful day working at home.... was lovely.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

snowy PJ Sunday

Its been a snowy chilled out Sunday. This morning I got up at 7am and it was quiet. I had gone to bed at midnight after watching The Holiday so it was nice that it was so quiet. I had my PB and banana french toast and then took Duke out for a walk trudge in the snow. It was nice. After yesterdays bitterly cold minus 31 in the windchill, the minus 15 was positively comfortable. So we went on a long walk. The snow was reasonable deep so it was more effort to walk and it was crunchy underfoot. It was also constantly snowing, which has been forecast and the forecast was accurate with 40cms due all day.
And it was that little fine snow thats amost as annoying as rain.

Duke loved it and has been in and out the yard all day with Alpine.
We made a decision to have a PJ day and thats how it went

Fire on
The light from the snow outside has been light in a snowy dreamy way, its been relaxing
Dogs in and out
Girls playing in front of the fire, no arguments, lovely.
Paul cleared the driveway
We had roast pork for dinner which was delicious
We watched The Santa Claus 2
I have been in the present all day, not thought about tomorrow or yesterday, just today. Its been bliss

Saturday, 14 December 2013

snow and Arbonne

Its insanely cold outside. I think it was minus 31 in the windchill today and that was painful on my face when I ventured out with the dogs for a short walk.
Its pretty though.

This morning I ventured into a new sideline business of getting involved in skincare, I am now a consultant for Arbonne and tentatively taking my first steps into this world. I always told myself to go out of my comfort zone and try new things,  this is definitely new and it could be good. One thing I know for sure is that I love the product - its making my skin feel amazing and better still it smells like holidays, I want to use it and I want to share it. And at my age loving my skincare range is more important than its ever been so fingers crossed this just grows and grows. I have come to the conclusion that to realize my longterm plans of snowbirdness (that is a new word!) I may need a different source of income. That being an Accountant may not allow me the freedom to do that. So lets see how this goes..........

I have since discovered that Arbonne is not as organic and chemical free as I thought, so have ditched this idea

Thursday, 12 December 2013

getting the trees

Last weekend we got the trees. Yep, I managed to realize an old old bucket list item and have two trees. We have a 7 foot one in the front room and a 4 foot one in the family room and we have only just enough decorations to go round....

We had a fun although muddy day at the tree u-cut. No snow was around yet and it was yet to freeze, so mud was the order of the day

We got them home and had a fun old family afternoon decorating. This is the most I have ever decorated for Christmas.
 The front room tree

The family room tree

 Front room

 stair garland
 family room fireplace

 Last years Disney Tinkerbell bargain (from my walt Disney World IA Training trip)
This years Tims decoration

We then went a step closer and settled down to this years family viewing of the Griswolds Christmas Vacation, it was a wonderful weekend

Monday, 2 December 2013

a festive weekend

I have just had an amazing festive weekend. We had a lot of kids in the house but that was ok as we also had wine and they all pretty much played together and just turned up for food and snacks.

I had planned to start decorating the house for Christmas and with the help of Pinterest (new obsession) I had some rather ambitious plans.

While I was away with work Paul and the girls had been out shopping and had acquired a new snowman to join the reindeer and candy canes out on the front lawn, so our march towards being fully Griswolded up on the Christmas front had a boost.

So I decorated the front door inside with a garland and lights - its not AS good as the Pinterest one but I am pretty pleased, as I was on a roll we also did the staircase. That went well and as Paul had backed the first batch of mince pies for the season, I was able to sit back at 3pm with a hot mince pie and a glass of wine and admire my work.

Next week - the trees! Yup - we are having two this year, well actually three if you count the pink tree upstairs. I am bound and determined that this Christmas will make up for last year!

Since I got older, my present requirement list seems to have grown in dollar signs, on it currently for Christmas is:

Ipad (for us both, the kids aren't getting anywhere near that baby)
Food mixer - just the cheap variety, we are STILL replacing electrical items
Hot tub! (yes I know - dream on right!)

New king size bed! ( Theres a lot to be said for a bed this size!)
Solar panel for the pool - I will have warmer water next year!

Given the amount of money attributed to the words above - I think I need to buy a lotto ticket.

The last two days in Florida and our trip home

So for our last installment of our trip to Florida, we had to leave on the Saturday morning, after our last meal at the Square Grouper, and it was REALLY HARD to leave. I couldn't even bare to pack so left it to Paul while I wondered the streets in tears ~ read as managed to fit in another walk in the eleventh hour feeling miserable. I couldn't look back as we left.

We drove up the Keys in some silence. Its so beautiful but hey, we were leaving, so all was not so good.

We stopped at the top for gas and then hit the Turnpike. We got back to Orlando in 6 hours after a couple of rest stops and checked into the Rozen Plaza on International Drive. We I picked here because I had stayed here in 2002 when I worked for Virgin Holidays and I wanted a little trip down memory lane (again)

(photo from the Rozen Plazas website)

The room was nice and had a lovely view as we were so high up and we had dinner in an English pub which was all themed to be so very British - flags, kilts, football tops, pictures of the Royal Family, loud Sex Pistols music, bangers and mash and scotch eggs. I loathed it!

We had to check out the next morning so we got up early and the girls and I headed out to the pool. It was pretty cool because no one else was out there (prob due to it being before 8am) and we spent time swimming and then in the hot-tub which has a waterfall feature falling in the middle of it. It hasn't changed at all in all that time.
The last time I had sat in it I was discussing office politics with a colleague!

It was actually really nice to sit there so early and spend that time with just my two girls. I knew that at some point in the day, that moment would feel as though it had belonged to a different day.

We had breakfast at Dennys and then went to the airport, where we said a very sad goodbye to Don and Liz and then got on our plane. I love Orlando airport but goodbyes are goodbyes.

We had a stopover in La Guardia and tried out their Ipads - I am embarrassed to admit that I had to get some training first from Chloe but I caught on quickly.
They have these at every departure gate. Gone are the days of just sitting there, now you sit up on a high stool at a long table and have your own Ipad, I was able to order food, pay there and then continue perusing the internet whilst it told me how long I had left before my departure time and the food was brought to us- crostini with different toppings was the high quality restaurant type - delish!
So - an Ipad is now on the Christmas wish list! Thank you La Guardia.

When we took off from there Manhatten was all lit up and I saw the statue of liberty! I tried to get some photos on my phone but they weren't very good.

We got home at midnight, it was freezing out there, a real shock to the system but Dukie was over the moon to see us! Home sweet home!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Our week in the Keys

I have gotten really behind in this blog. I have been away with work in Moncton and then on a conference and now we are full steam into Christmas as this year this house is going to rock! Sadly it means that our Florida trip feels like it was in another lifetime and it makes it even more important to capture the memories before the details fade.
So, here in the best way I can, is the lowdown of our last week in the Florida Keys.

Due to the location of our stay we remained in blissful tranquility all week, there was a couple of adrenalin fuelled moments due to the local wildlife but it was on the whole, divine relaxation.

Eating Out
We tried to relive our old haunts but apart from Blue Heaven, it didnt go well.

So we decided to make new memories and leave old happy days in the past. So we discovered new taste sensations at The Tarpon in Marathon and the Square Grouper in Cudjoe Key. Both were amazing but honestly, the Square Grouper blew us away, it came highly recommended and we found out why as soon as we arrived, we ate there twice and both times it was amazing.

Bahia Honda
We went to Bahia Honda twice, it was heaven on both occasions. To be back on that beautiful beach after so long was incredible for me. I cant find adequate words to describe the way I feel there. It was as always pristine. We went on our own and then went on our way to the Dolphin Research Centre, so the next time we took Don. We got there at 9am and there was a baby bonnet head shark swimming around erratically. At one point it swam around my ankles, so I screamed like a girl and then had to get it all together to go snorkelling but I did it, with Don holding my hand. The shark didnt bother him and we didnt see it again but I was aware of it and frankly being in the sea with this animal was awesome and I wouldnt miss it for the world.

The Dolphin Research Centre
We went here on a hideously hot day and it was wonderful. Paul did the dolphin dip and it blew him away. It is a quiet but fabulous place with the pens in the ocean and each dolphin has a tale to tell about being here. The girls loved it and it also had iguanas wondering everywhere which were pretty cool.

The day of Wildlife
On the day of the shark encounter at Bahia Honda I went back home to hang with Liz and the others went back to the Dolphin Research centre. I drove into the driveway and there were two iguanas having a heated discussion so I stopped and watched them, they stopped and watched me. This went on for a while and then I drove on and parked. It was a hot and still day, the water in the ocean off of the beach was like a millpond, so I went out on the deck to see what fish were about. I was lying on my stomach with my nose in the water admiring the variety of fish when a huge and I mean enormous, size of me, barracuda swam under me, I nearly fell in the water. Liz was there at that point and saw it too, we also saw another baby bonnet head. In all my times in this area, I had never seen sharks or a barracuda like that.
We named him Barry barracuda and he came back that eve with a pal of the same size - so it was Barry 1 and Barry 2, and Sean the shark. The dock on that house has lights that shine down into the water, so we saw so many amazing views at night, we would sit out there with a glass of wine and the lights on listening to the water lapping at the dock and just gaze into the water. It was wonderful and we spent many hours out there just being in the moment.