Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Gypsy Feet: Halloween

Hey everyone, I just wanted to remind/encourage you all to join in our Gypsy Feet Jamboree by taking pictures of you Halloween feet tonight. Take lots of pictures! Pictures with friends, pictures with kids, pictures at the start of the night, at the end of the night, with your loot. Take pictures!

The idea is to take a picture of your costumed feet and let us guess what/who you are then have you post a picture of your whole costume. It'll be fun!

Join our Facebook group to RSVP and upload your pics to the event album :)

Spread the word (blog, tweet, facebook etc...) and have fun!

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Etsy love: Necklaces

Welcome to the first of my Christmas gift idea posts. Today I've been so busy with college applications that browsing Etsy has been a lovely wind down before bed.

This little beauty is made by E Ria Designs on Etsy and I love it!

RHB Designs is the creator of these little lovelies:

LiveInStyle has a collection of these gorgeous lace necklaces:

Alice in Wonderland by The Room Upstairs:

Pretty poppy scrabble tile necklace from IMcreations:

RachelleD has a whole shop full of little sweeties, you need to take a look. I'm in love with EVERYTHING!:

I'm going to stop there because RachelleD's shop has completed me. I feel whole and new! I'm going to dream of her little own buddies tonight. Haha. There's loads of wonderful finds on Etsy - there's something for everybody. Take a look and share your faves with me.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I know, you American's will be scoffing me because 1) Halloween isn't here yet and 2) there's still Thanksgiving to celebrate BUT I'm Scottish and I'm thankful (almost) every day. I think you'll understand where I'm coming from though because if we add British celebrations in there too the list will be pretty long:

I'm SO excited to have my brother, Andrew and his girlfriend, Jenna here for Christmas this year.
We don't have much/any money so I need to plan ahead when it comes to gifting.
With Halloween, Thanksgiving (My birthday, Guy Fawkes Day, St. Andrew's Day) and then Christmas I get overwhelmed and need to think a bit further in advance.

Last year we went to Scotland and surprised my family for Christmas. This year we'll be here in California. It'll be a humble affair and I'm pretty excited, I won't lie. Christmas in a new place, with new people and a new situation. Oh yes!

So again, like last year Stuart and I are giving a few gifts and because we can't afford to spoil people we want them to still feel very lucky with the specially chosen gifts we'll be giving. Thought is going to go into each and every one of them, more than normal.

Here's our plan (I'm really in a listy mood right now and I'm using a lot more brackets than normal)...

-Make gifts. I'll be compiling links and ideas throughout the season. If you have any share them too!
-Buy home made gifts - Etsy!

We want to support the little man and I'd like to encourage you to too. (To-Too! Tutu! Toot toot!)
I love Etsy. Gifts can be shipped straight to the recipient and sometimes shipping will be free AND the items will be gift wrapped.

I'll be Etsy-ing and Decclo-ing. You should too!

What's your favourite Etsy shop?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Being almost-a-winner still feels good:

As I was creating my Bucket List yesterday I was adding things I've already accomplished to help get the juices flowing and inspire me to take things to the next level. One of the things on the list is "Have my writing published", which has already happened. Then I was thinking of how to put myself out there even more. I've been submitting pictures I've taken into little contests and this month I submitted my terrifying "Car Thief" story into a writing contest. Writing and photography are my two contest worthy talents I think. Mostly I really wanted the prize - a necklace - so I could send it to my mum. The link between winning a writing contest and winning a prize to give to my mum go hand in hand because she's the one who has really encouraged my writing so my winning makes her a winner - and the necklace was really her.

I have been entering blog give-aways recently hoping to win loot to give to family for Christmas since money is so tight but haven't won anything yet. In my mind I have given up. Pulling a name out a hat doesn't work as well for me. I guess I need to work harder to win things.

I got an email last night saying I made it as an honorable mention and I got the Winner button for my blog. I was SUPER excited! And then I checked the site this morning to see how many articles were submitted - around 40. And they have one winner and 3 honorable mentions *patting self on back*. For never winning anything or never trying to win anything I have to say I'm really quite pleased with myself and I'm excited to write more and hopefully win a contest some day :)

Go and see my winner button!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What a difference a day makes...

A lot has happened to me in the last 24 hours.

To begin with let me just say that spending so much time alone, completely alone really brings out the dramatic in me and no-one knows that more than I do. Stuart might think he knows it more than me but really, when I say those wacky things to him it's not the first time I've had it run through my head. I'm very aware of the effect I have on myself. Haha. This is starting to sound like it's going to be really entertaining. Hold on to your hat!

SO, I am insane. There's a part of me that I don't have as much control over and I'm not talking about my spasmatic bowel because I have NO control over that. I am talking about that crazy part of my brain that is convinced nobody likes me; that people pretend to like me just so they don't hurt my feelings - which if it's true, I really appreciate ;)

I know it's not true but it's in my head. Sometimes it really feels true and sometimes I think it and I laugh and say to myself, "Oh Laura, you are mad!" I know for a fact that my mum really does like me and that Stuart does too.

I think it comes from being bullied when I was young. I won't get into that too much just now but I do enjoy a good psycho analysis. I've always been quiet and sensitive. I always had a problem with standing up for myself. I could act tough but I obviously wasn't. I broke my mum's heart every day for about 5 years straight with my refusal to go to school and my angst. I taught myself that I didn't need people because people are cruel and people will call themselves my friend and invite me to their birthday parties but will ignore when I'm there and tell everyone else not to talk to me. Family sometimes was just as bad. Don't worry, no grudges are held because I know I wasn't exactly a gem either. I hold no grudge but I treasure the lessons I've learned.

The biggest lesson I learned was when I was 17. September 2002. Loyalty. I think from then on I changed and became much stronger. I was willing and able to stand up for someone else which taught me that I could stand up for myself too.

Then I got married. With Stuart being the oldest in his family he has a bossy streak. He was a bit of a bully in that regard. Thanks to September 2002 I was able to stand up for myself and say, "Um, excuse me! Who do you think you're talking to?!" instead of being broken even more by someone with a stronger will than me. All because of September 2002. Stuart and I are perfect for each other!

Ok, I'm on a tangent. The point of this post is that I chose to start the week differently. I missed church this Sunday because of my back. I hate that it doesn't support me - that is really punny! My back stops me from doing what I want - or rather I let it stop me. I can adjust to situations. I need to stop blaming chronic pain for holding me back. So, as I was moping around I decided to invite some people over for FHE. We did and it was good.

Then on Tuesday Stuart and I went on an excursion to The Jelly Belly Factory. Monday and Tuesday were great! Wednesday was the day things went from great to something else all together.

My lack of self esteem had been playing up all last week - think allergies because that's what it's like. It flairs up, sucks out all my energy, makes my eyes water blah blah... I had plans last week to meet a new friend. The weather was atrocious so we cancelled. I'll admit (and I know you're reading this new friend but don't be alarmed) I was so gross about the situation. I said things like "I guess we'll never meet because of the stupid weather! I probably don't deserve friends waaaaaah!" "Lucky for her, she'd probably have to pretend she liked me for the few hours and then gross gross barf splutter nasty horrible words and thoughts yadda yadda." It was especially worse than usual due to the monthly timing, if you get what I'm saying. Those are seriously the crazy kind of things I say to Stuart and he looks at me like I'm morphing into some slimy green glob of goo that's going to stain the carpet and fill the air with putrid gass that smells like eggs and no air freshener will ever cut through it and the stank will be absorbed into his hair and skin and then no-one will ever like him and they'll all start throwing up whenever he's a mile away because they can smell the nasty from that far... Negativity is not good for anyone!

Yesterday I was blessed. Lindsay came to visit even though first thing in the morning things didn't look so good due to her misplaced cellular telephone and I lay in bed getting ready to whine to myself because God was protecting people by not letting them meet me. I know, I am actually crazy. You can't even really tell from meeting me though, can you? ... or can you? Don't tell me. Haha.

Luck changed, the phone was found, prayers were answered. I got up, got dressed about 3 times and was so happy. I love having something to look forward to! I started making our lunch. I had cleaned up the living room the night before so I didn't have to do too much there. I hoovered. The sun was shining, I opened the front door to let some lovely fresh air in. Perfect. It was glorious!

Lindsay arrived and my heart was so happy. As soon as I say her marroon washing machine driving up the road my brain was saying, "Frrrrrrrieeeeeeeeeeend!" We hugged and she came in and things were comfortable and right. We talked and laughed like I love to do. We ate lunch and talked and laughed more and got to know one another. Then we went on an adventure proving that the journey really is the most fun because we never found our way to a destination.

Then we came home and sat in her washing machine in the driveway and talked a bit more. She said things like "We need to help you get inspired again" I couldn't agree more.

The Gypsy Feet is dying. It's my baby and it's dying.
Some days I have no sunshine in my eyes and I'm downright lonely.
I long for days gone by and for the friendships and shenanigans.
I know I'm loved but I need to let myself feel it more.

I painted for the first time in years last week and it felt so good. I don't know why I ever stopped painting. Before Lindsay came I found myself debating about putting glitter on my eyelids. Why would I debate that? I wanted to make a good impression but really, glittery eyes are me. I should never debate things that make me me. And you should never do that either. We should all know who we are and be happy with it because we have a choice to be who we want to be.

I spend a lot of my time encouraging people. I love the look on their faces when I say, "Psh, whatever! You're the best and you're going to do SO well at that!" I come up with so many ideas that I feel benefit people that I love seeing and experiencing their success, it makes me feel like I've achieved something if I can help someone else see their potential. I'm a think tank/life coach and I like it that way. I just need to focus a little more on encouraging myself.

Today I wrote this post on The Gypsy Feet. The season of my life is changing and I need to evolve with it. I won't sit back and just let it pass. I think that would be a sin. Just because it feels like nothing is happening doesn't mean things are not indeed happening. I need to open my eyes, wipe away the tears blurring my vision - that was pretty dramatic but I think it works.

Then this morning I read this post on An Experiment in Poverty and it made me realise that I have a lot to get off my chest. I feel that same way and I freaking HATE it!! I'm fighting a battle against myself! I have a lot to change and a lot to do. I have potential and I'm going to meet that potential. I'm going to meet that potential then take it to the next level and I'm going to keep going and going and going. I'm done with being glum. I miss blogging so I'm going to do it more. I'm making goals and plans and that makes me happy.

So here I am, I'm going to do better. I do need people. I do need friends. I don't enjoy being by myself. Talk to me.

That's the change that's happened to me within the last 24 hours. It feels good.

(This is nothing like how I had planned this post to be but it came from the right place.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Get in ma Jelly Belly!

Tuesday's are the only day that Stuart gets home before 4pm so today he decided he would take me out of Hayward for the first time since being here. Yep. We've been here a month and I've left the town once - I've left our street about 6 times and half of those were for church. Mmm yep. Someone's been a little cooped up. SO, we went to The Jelly Belly Factory about an hour away from here. I was really excited about it. I don't think Stuart really gave two hoots and he actually likes Jelly Bellies more than I do.

Take a good look at my Jelly Belly. Tonight Stuart and I decided to have a little competition Biggest Loser style. Hopefully it'll last more than 3 days. I'm going to be embarrassed if it does only last 3 days now I've announced that.

I felt like we were going in to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. It was SO exciting and bright and a little weird.

We perused the gift shop before the tour started and Stuart decided to get some Bellies which took so long to come out the machine that our tour went on without us. We caught up though.

They have Jelly Belly art throughout the factory. That's a picture of Princess Diana made from Jelly Bellies. I knoow!

Their cafe has Jelly Belly shaped food. Mad!

They have a competition right now for guessing the weight of the pumpkin. I don't know what we win, probably a life time supply of Jelly Bellies and the factory. Stuart guessed it weighed 350lbs. I guessed 284lbs and I have to say I have a gift of being able to measure objects weight and size by eye.

This is us after the tour and after our free samples of Jelly Bellies and after Stuart tried to get me to put my hand in the Jelly Belly dispenser to get the loose beans that missed his cup. I think not. Cheeky.

On the way home Jane-Jane (gps) was getting really tricksy and Stuart was getting REALLY annoyed with her. She took us on some wild goose chase and we ended up outside the freakin Hotel California! We never went in. From what I hear when you check out any time you like but you can never leave.

When Stuart was getting petrol I noticed my nails are the exact colour of his pomegranate Jelly Bellies. Cute.

They don't allow photography during the actual factory tour but I will tell you this: if you visit us, we're probably going to go there and you will LOVE IT!

This is one of the things I get to cross off of our California Bucket list. It feels good.

Also, yesterday we had some friends over to our house for the first time. I'm starting to feel more at home here and more like my old self.

It's a good week so far :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chinese Chicken Noodle soup:

Here it is Dani...

You need:
chicken boobs
soup shells or broken up spaghetti pasta
onion diced
sweetcorn, drained

Dice your onion and brown it in a soup pot.
Once browned add water to make the base of your soup.
Get it boiling.
Add raw chicken.
Boil until cooked - about 20 minutes.
Remove chicken and shred.
Salt and pepper your stock. If you want it more flavorful add a chicken stock cube or can of stock.
Throw the chicken back in.
Add can of corn.
Add pasta and boil til firm - about 7 minutes for shells, a little less for spaghetti.
Bring soup to a rolling boil. (Don't ask Stuart what that looks like because we just argued about it last night.)
Rolling boil... seperate yolks from egg whites. Keep both.
Burst the yolks in a cup.
When soup is rolling use a wooden spoon to spin it as fast as you can without splashing yourself and drizzle in the egg whites.
Then do the same with the yolks.

That's it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The rough of it:

The Pioneer Woman wants to see your favourite textured pics. Here's a few of my fave's that I've created:

 See more on my Flickr.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Life Loves:

1. Our little house. It's almost unpacked. I'll be hanging curtains today and then I should be ready to give the grand tour.
b. The space we have in our little house.
c. The freedoms of living in our little house ie. walking around in my underwear, doing laundry whenever, not locking the bathroom door when I'm using it etc...

2. Stuart being gone all day makes me feel like we're really achieving something education wise. I'd love to have him home more but with him being at school I know he's really learning stuff.
b. Being palpated by Stuart.

3. Friends. I don't have many/any in the area right now but I'm really looking forward to having Andrew and Jenna here for Christmas and also for Wendy and TyTy (Blue Lily) to drop by after Christmas.

4. Looking forward to Stuart having some time to drive me to new places. I have a list I'll have to post of the places I'd like to visit within the next three years.

5. Apart from the lack of friends (boo hoo) I feel quite content here. We're happy and comfortable. Life feels right.

6. The rain storm we had on Tuesday made me feel like I was home in Scotland until water started coming in through the fan in the bathroom. Then it was an adventure.

7. Getting/sending texts. Oh how I've missed my text life.

8. Christmas. I can't wait to put our tree up and see what kind of gifts I can make for Stuart, Andrew and Jenna with things about the house.

9. Family history. I joined a Stronach group on facebook a couple days ago and it's making me very happy. It's nice to feel part of something whilst being so far from family.

10. Church bells. I hear them at noon every day and they make me happy.

What do you love about life right now?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Families ARE Forever.

Last week when I was watching Stephanie Nielson (NieNie) on Oprah my heart was absolutely filled to the point of bursting. Anyone who saw the segment knows exactly what I mean, I'm sure of it. I was touched. My eyes filled with tears as I watched Stephanie take the stage, as Mr Nielson watched her, as her family spoke. The whole thing was an absolute blessing to behold. I watched it with Stuart who also choked back tears of love, admiration and pride for Stephanie and her family. You can see a clip here and read Oprah's blurb here.

I was texting Wendy (who is responsible for the Nielson's family portraits) through it. I told her I was struggling holding back the tears and her reply was, "Don't cry - she's terrific!" and cry no more I did. Mostly the tears were of the feeling of love and triumph. What a wonderful example, what a wonderful woman who has been raised by wonderful parents and has such an amazing family.

I've had the opportunity to partake of the humour and spice of Stephanie's wonderful sister, Courtney (C Jane) and I'll admit right now I adore. I've proclaimed my love for her too and she's accepted and returned it - not returned my love but returned my adoration with her own love... uuuh... Courtney was our first Very Special Guest on The Gypsy Feet.

As the images from the tele filled my mind I caught visions of my own family pulling together through tough times. Life has never been really easy for The Stronach's. Times have been super hard and quite consistently too but mostly times have also been very very good. The memories... Right now times are hard and not very good. The truth of the situation is that life can down right suck. It can suck so hard that you feel like your eyes are going to explode and some mornings you wake up wondering why you didn't just leave this earthly phase in your sleep BUT the other side of the coin is the shiny, sparkly side.

The part on Oprah where Stephanie's family said how they were faced with the decision of weither to let her go peacefully or cling to the hope that she would get better and be happy with her new life. Stephanie then said that she had to make the choice for herself whilst in the coma. It was an easy choice for her. She wanted to be with her family. The end.

The other side of that miserable coin for me right now is that I have parents who love me. Parents who love all of my brothers and sisters and our spouses and children even when we do things they'd rather we didn't. I have a home in Scotland where the door is always open - as it is for my brothers and sisters and our friends and anyone who needs a meal or bed to sleep in or somewhere to wash their clothes or even just a hug. Parents who encourage us and would do anything for us. Through the last year I'd say I've grown closer to four out of five of my siblings and I pray harder for that one I can't get close to.

Today a testimony was borne in church that made me realise something important and quite profound. I'm about to get religious so if you don't care for that you can skidaddle:

Christ atoned for our sins. He suffered for us. He suffered for us and he did it willingly. Christ suffered so much pain I can't even imagine and I'm responsible for some of it. He died for us an excruciating death. He suffered and died and doesn't hold a grudge. He did it because he loves us. He doesn't hold a grudge!

If Jesus doesn't hold a grudge against me for the stupid things I've done that take me off the path that he's set for me by suffering and dying for me then I'm certainly not going to take my time when it comes to forgiving people.

I want things to be different but there's nothing I can do to change them. I'm ready and willing for them to change. My arms are open, ready to hold on to that little sister that doesn't want me right now. Do your worst (except don't), I'm never going to hate you and I'll always be here waiting even if it takes eternity. That's the way I've been taught. I love you. Forgive me of anything I've done that's hurt or upset you. I would never do that on purpose. I think you know that.

Life doesn't have to be as hard as we make it and I pray to God that we don't need a tragedy to make us behave more like family but I've seen it for myself, people survive tragedies.

"Life is only as good as the memories we make..."

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Roof! The Roof! The Roof is being hoovered!

Today - about 4 seconds ago I took this picture.

A man/ghostbuster just hoovered my roof!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The daily stuff.

We arrived here on the night of Wednesday the 23rd of September and spent a day shopping and collecting furniture on the Thursday and then on Friday morning Stuart's parents left and Stuart started school and I was all alone. The move down here was quick and since then everything else has been go-go-go or atleast for Stuart. I feel like I sit watching as life whizzes by.

Stuart's really enjoying school. He's learning a bunch of stuff and right now is saying that he's surprised how easy it all is. We think/hope it's because of his biology degree and not because he's missing the point and getting everything wrong but thinking it's right.

We have a daily routine which I like. It goes like this:

6am - alarm goes off. I push Stuart out of bed - right now it's really chilly in the morning too so he clings on as long as he can before walking 4 feet to the bathroom.
6.40am - morning prayers. Stuart tends to say them in the morning slumped over my lifeless body.
6.45am - I roll out of bed to see if he needs help.
7am - I watch him climb over the car in the garage to open the door. The garage barely fits the car. I wave and blow kisses as he leaves. I close and lock the garage, turn the light out and head back to bed.

4/5pm - I get a text telling me he's on his way home. I open the garage.
4.30/5.30pm - He gets home and I hop up to meet him in the kitchen. His school is 6 miles away and it takes him half an hour to drive home.
6pm - Dinner
9.30pm - Go to bed. Read scriptures and say prayer.
10pm - Lights out. I initiate the nightly torture in the form of a tickle fight.
10pm - midnight - I listen to him snoring and poke and push him to make him stop.

That's our life right now.

Stuart is trying to set aside 2 hours at the same time everyday to study and do homework. It's going well right now but this is only the second week. We have a little detached studio out in the back garden that he sometimes has to shut himself in because when he gets home I can't stop talking to him.

We haven't had time to explore our new town but we are enjoying being here. The sunshine is really good for us. I'm still working on unpacking and arranging things just now but I promise a tour of our little house soon.

I have a few things keeping me busy - looking for online schools, unpacking, getting back into the routine of housework, designing tshirts, I'm writing a book (I know!), learning life lessons... it's all good.

On Sunday we stopped at some local Japanese gardens on our way home from church and took some pictures. The reflections on the fish pond were amazing. That's pretty much us for now. Life is pretty good.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Back the truck up!

Before I get into the exciting tour of our little house and such I wanted to record the experience we had just before we left to come down here.

So, Stuart applied for a student loan through a well known bank. The way the bank works out how much money you need is you fill out a form of itemised categories to tell them how much you spend on certain things a year. They break it down a lot and don't leave a thing out ie. toiletries, entertainment, clothes, rent, car insurance...

Stuart filled it all out and the total came to a lot. Then they approved us and we were so happy. We would be able to make it through the next three years with a ton of debt but we wouldn't starve or be naked whilst doing so.

Then a few days before we left to come down here we got a call from the school telling us we would not be getting that much as a student loan because they have their own living budget and the government caps off loans to how much the school says you need.

So now we're in a sticky spot. We need to come up with $9000 in order to make it through school the school year and that's without entertainment and clothing and gifts.

I'm not completely sick about it anymore. The truth is Stuart goes to school for 40 hours a week. He doesn't have time to get a job. I'm hoping he can get a little job at the school but that isn't going to earn us $9000. My lack of drivers license is a big problem - never mind the back issues.

I can make some money taking pictures and I'm looking in to online schooling so I can get pell grants and of course, a degree.

We've been blessed that Stuart's parents have been able to help us this far. We're trying our best to make this work and know that something will happen and we'll make it. Stuart's seriously curbed his appetite to help save money on food - that's a big deal and I think my 25th is cancelled this year, which is good news for me. I never wanted to be 25 anyway.

Keep us in your thoughts and if you find any money in your couch it might have fallen out my pocket, I'm just sayin. ;)

And I don't recommend you come here trick or treating.