'Ello, Guv-nuh!

I was so excited to see my latest articles in the fall/winter 2010 editions of Dallas Brides and The Atlantan Brides magazines.

One even includes Gov. Rick Perry. Well, more like his son and new daughter-in-law and their fantabulous wedding blowout in Dallas!

Piqued your interest, have I? Read on, dude.

Click on each image and, once it's loaded, click again to zoom in and read.

Don't forget to enter my pretty turquoise giveaway! I need all the help I can get!

Teal-ing Out and my first GIVEAWAY!

So I might have a mild obsession with turquoise.

And by mild, I mean must-buy-everything-pretty-in-turquoise.

I snatched up several pieces of jewelry, leather bracelets and clothing of various turquoise hues in Italy. I just bought a sea-blue cardigan from Zara and my favorite earrings are also of the same pigment family.

No big deal, right?

I find turquoise - and similar blue shades - very calming, fresh and nice to look at. Especially during summer months when you want to wear something bright, and during winter months when you want to break the grey streak.

It's only five more weeks till we move back to the US of A and I'm already thinking of ways I'll be able to incorporate the teal tint into our home. We'll be in a rent house, so anything I do will either have to be through objects and accessories or "undoable" changes like removeable wall paper. Which I can't wait to try out.

I love this striped one by Sherwin Williams:

Overall, our home has a very Texas country feel to it. We began aquiring our "dream furniture" a few years ago from the Texas Rustic store. All the pieces are a light pine wood and emblazoned with Texas stars. And our couches in the living room, for example, are dark brown leather.

I also have bronze Texas stars hanging all over the house, from huge pieces on the wall to a Texas-themed fan in our living room (a bonus find at Home Depot).

So to break up all the brown, I want to bring in some light, bright colors that also mesh with my shared love for relaxed, beach-inspired accessories. I am thinking of a seashore theme for our room and bathroom, and a lighthouse/cottage by the sea theme for the guest room and bathroom.

Here are some inspirational shots from the web and fellow bloggers to get the creative juices flowing. There's even beach-style laundry rooms, how great is that!?

So in the name of all that's turquoise, I decided to host my FIRST GIVEAWAY!!

On the docket is this super cute summer-worthy turquoise bracelet. I wore mine almost every day in Italy, I love it!

And if you're lucky and they're still in stock, I'll throw in these matching earrings:

The rules to enter are simple as 1-2-3:

1.) You must be a follower of this blog to enter, so if you haven't joined the ranks, now's the time! I'd love to have a better idea of who's actually reading my blog and "meet" you guys! Plus, I'm always on the lookout for fun, new blogs to read myself.

2.) Leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite decorating color is!

3.) The contest closes at midnight (GMT) on Tuesday, July 6... so follow my blog and leave your comment before then. I'll use the Random Number Generator to pick the winning commentor and will annouce it next Wednesday. Check back in order to claim your prize and send me your mailing address!

Good luck!


Dreaming of red, white and blue...

It just occurred to me a few days ago that the 4th of July is nearly here! And it also just occurred to me that I'll be missing out on the American celebrations for the first time in my life. Which, of course, I'll have to do my best to remedy by making a playlist of every patriotic song I can get my hands on and cleaning off my stove-top grill for some steaks and chicken. Or I might have to consider burgers... this bad boy from MarthaStewart.com looks pretty good.

We'll load up on some Coors Light at the store and rent a movie like Top Gun or some other classic American film. Any suggestions?

I think it's time to start streaming 99.5 The Wolf and think red, white and blue thoughts.

Patriotic gazebo from MarthStewart.com

These are some shots of our 4th of July party last year with some friends in Katy. Gosh, I'd give anything to be in that hot Texas heat, enjoying a nice cold pool and a fresh beer right now! I also miss my precious dogs, Jersey and Shiner!

Yep, this will be the "leanest" Fourth we'll ever have. No BBQ grills or fun-filled swimming pools, no Bud Light and, sadly, none of our friends. But we will remember this Fourth for a long, long time. Like during every patriotic get-together after this, when Mike and I will turn to each other and say, "Remember when we celebrated Independence Day, just the two of us, living in Scotland? That was so crazy!"

We are proud Americans by default, Texans at heart.

I still get misty-eyed when I think about all those who have loved and lost so that we can experience the freedom we have today. The freedom to think for ourselves, to pursue our dreams, to live our lives the way we choose, to simply be.

Not everyone in this world gets to experience such freedom. It's a well-earned commodity that often comes at a high price. Our nation's forefathers were the ground-breaking thinkers of their time, the strong-willed cornerstones of a greater America.

"...one nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all."

It pains me to think that there are actually people out there who want to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance. Have you lost so much faith in your country, in your fellow mankind, that you have become cynical enough to forsake the very being that brought you life? Shame on you.

We sit in our office chairs or behind our teacher's desks, we live in a world where electronics are our mainstream, our life source and means of communication. We live freely, with the ability to travel in our cars or planes anywhere we choose to go. We say what we think, we pursue what we want, we spend time with the people we deem important in our lives.

This was not always the case.   

There once was a country full of lion-hearted patriots, men and women who proudly lived and died for their land. Who bravely fought for their right to simply speak out, to set an example, to showcase their passion.

They have passed this nation onto us, laid it in our hands for safe-keeping and nuturing. And if we're not careful, we'll tear it apart from the inside out. There are still brave souls in this country, most of them are across the ocean fighting a war they are no longer supported in. Isolated from their America, criticized by their countrymen.

Is this what our great America has come to?

Stand up and be proud of your soldiers, be proud of your freedom. Be proud of your country.

Be proud to be an American.


My Recipes: Chunky Minestrone Soup

I've been trying to stick to healthy eats lately, and really wanted a thick soup with loads of veggies. So I found this "base recipe" for the main ingredients to create minestrone soup and then, of course, added my own adjustments. I did not measure everything, so judge the following by how thick and hearty or thin and soupy you want the dish to be.

*Note: finely chop your vegetables to ensure they are soft and well-cooked. Thick ones might still retain crunchiness if not left to stew long enough.

Onion, chopped
Zucchini, chopped
Carrot, chopped
Celery, chopped
1 or 2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can red kidney beans, drained
Palmful of Italian herbs
Bay Leaf (I didn't have those, so left it out and didn't notice)
Salt & Pepper
1/2 bag of pasta (use whole grain for healthy kick)

*I even threw in a can of pre-made minestrone soup I had sitting in the cabinet!

Saute chopped veggies in a little olive oil in the bottom of a large pot. Stir continously.

When they've browned slightly on the edges, add the diced tomatoes, 2 cups vegetable broth, red kidney beans, Italian herbs, a bay leaf, salt and pepper and simmer for about 30 minutes.

While soup is simmering, cook your pasta to al dente. Then add to soup during the last 5-8 minutes. Voila! You've got a hearty, healthy, homemade hot meal. Top with cheese and serve with whole grain garlic toast.

And like any good summer meal, it's always best with an ice cold lemonade and Crown. Mmm mmm!


Puttin' Around...

With Mike out of town all weekend, I've had a pretty quiet one myself with some well-earned R&R and movies! I absolutely love watching movies. As I write this, I've got Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull playing. The Indiana Jones movies are some of my favorite, I used to watch the old ones over and over when I was a kid. Basically, I just love Harrison Ford! The Fugitive is another one of those movies I'd watch on repeat.

Two of my favorite actors. And yes, I took a picture of my TV.

And Shia LaBeouf is quickly becoming a star in the new generation of actors. I read a background piece on him in a magazine about a year or two ago, he's so humble and such a hard worker. (You can read the article here, but beware it's in Playboy magazine!) He really won me over in Indiana Jones as well as Transformers. Have you seen Eagle Eye? Terrific movie. I'm looking forward to seeing him in Wall Street opposite Michael Douglas. His parents were major hippies, he grew up in a one-bedroom apartment and his dad sold hot dogs on the street corner dressed in a clown costume. That kid has certainly worked hard to get where he is today.

Friday was a long day for me, I was out running my first company golf day and it went really well! Most of the hard work was done beforehand, so when the actual day arrived it was just a matter of keeping everything running smoothly. While I cued up the teams to tee off, I snapped a couple pictures of the gorgeous scenery atop the "golf hill" we were on. You just don't see that everyday! And now that Aberdeen's finally in its true summer, everything is lush and green.

The golf clubs here don't use golf carts like they do at home. Players either carry their clubs the whole way or put them on wheels. Or if you really want a little help, you can invest in a motorized golf bag. I had never seen one before! Apparently they come with a remote control so you can "steer" them along without having to even touch it. Just get a dang golf cart already!

As we near the end of our one-year adventure abroad, I'm trying to enjoy every last minute that I can. It's hard to believe it's been nearly 12 months already! Small things like busy little roundabouts or granite-made libraries (where I discovered my love for Stuart MacBride books) are things I want to remember when we're long gone. Not to mention all the amazing places we've traveled. Those are well-represented in picture frames all over the flat.

Your local Ferryhill library.

The sunny weather today got me motivated to crawl out of bed before noon, so I went to the gym for a morning spin class.

Next I headed down the road to Asda for our weekly groceries.

There are some food items I will miss, and some things I won't! For instance, anything Haggis-flavored can stay put in Scotland.

And canned or bottled hot dogs? No thank you.

Odd varieties of potato chips aren't my thing either.

But I have come to love their super fresh black olives and sun-dried tomatoes, usually straight from Italy. Delicious on salad!

Plus, the chocolate here is amazing. Outdoes Hershey any day.

The addiction I had to break? (For fear of gaining chocolate-laden pounds.) Thorntons Mini Caramel Shortcakes. Heaven in a package!

How was your weekend? Hope it was loaded with sunshine, rest and relaxation!

"We do not follow maps to buried treasure, 
and X never, ever marks the spot."
~Indiana Jones speaking to his students in the Last Crusade
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