The World’s Largest Ball of Wool and Getting Crafty

Hey Hey Guys!

I took a little trip this afternoon with a friend of mine, her mum, gran and pup pup (miniature schnowzer, Kiwi; I hate dogs but that little thing is a darling). We just got in the car and said, “So, where do you want to go today?”

The fact that we just took off, drove in a direction with the vague intention of locating a coffee somewhere picturesque was so… freeing.

I’m usually that super uptight cretin that has to know exactly when we are meeting and exactly who will be there and exactly how close a blood relative of yours was dying that meant that you were 6 and a half minutes late… Sorry, friends… But it was a lazy Saturday. Sure it was grey outside but we had 4 wheels and a radio. The country roads of coastal Scotland are a heaven for those with itchy feet but no intention of really going anywhere. One of the things I love about where I live is that you can simply drive to the middle of nowhere, take in the scenery and call it being somewhere.

We ended up in a little pocket of creativity known as West Kilbride; a hub of arts and crafts and apparently Scotlands’s official craft town! Who knew! We’re all knitters and chrocheters, but now we have been inspired to take up peddaling and spinning yarn on looms and… pretending to be Sleeping Beauty or something… I dunno, but it was a lovely place anyway.

GIANT BALL OF WOOL!!

GIANT BALL OF WOOL!!

There was a gorgeous wool shop in town. We were drawn to it by the MASSIVE BALL OF COLOURED WOOL hanging outside the door. It was just… interesting, and a little bizarre. It tickled my funny bone so I took a pic and inside, was greeted with some of the softest wool I’ve ever felt, made from Alpaca! Can you say luxurious!? Clothing made out of that would be like getting stroked by… well, I’ll let you fill in the blank there 😉

Georgeous Antique clock

Georgeous Antique clock

Eventually we found our coffee and cakes in a cafe in Sea Mill. It seemed to literally pop up at the side of a road with nothing for miles in any direction. It simply seemed to be there and expect people to find it. Which they did. Considering we never passed any houses, the place was a pleasantly bustling little heaven from the biting cold wind blowing off the salty Clyde. Nothing like a crisp breeze and the lure of mediocre coffee to drive you off the road.

Well, that was my Saturday. Til next week! (When I am predicting I’m going to need a serious sleep coz it will be at the end of my first week back at Uni…)

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SSDD

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Reconnecting With the People That Matter

Hey Hey Guys!

Travel is exciting. But it has a down side.

my parents and I

my parents and I in Barcelona

It’s been 4 months since I saw one of my best friends. Since I came home just over 2 weeks ago I have tried my best to get back in touch with all the people I’ve missed most since I left, which hasn’t been easy given, you know, people having lives and all that.

And one of my lovely ladies has been particularly elusive given that she works every hour of the day and never takes a break. But today, we had a wee lunch date! As soppy as it might sound, but when i say that 4 foot 10 little lady walking towards me, I really felt happy. I have felt this way another three times since I landed back in Scotland. The first time was when I saw my parents coming towards me as I waited in the airport lounge. Granted, my grin was likely to have been marred somewhat by the frigid air blowing in from outside, but the sentiment was the same.

The second time was when the knock, knock, knocking on my door, a week after I got home, announced the arrival of two of my other best friends. I was dressed in all my glamour, bobbin’ robin pyjama bottoms, no make-up and messy bun, of course. 😉 When you see friends like that, you cannot fake the grin that pastes itself on your face, nor the rosy glow that flushes your cheeks.

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The third was when my best friend at uni and I caught up. The first thing I did was laugh at how much I missed her Northern accent and, other when she broke the news that her radio show was being cut (R.I.P Fred McCauley show!!!!!) I didn’t stop laughing til I realised I wouldn’t be getting another hug from her til after the New year! Noooooooooo!! (Love you Lambie 😛 )

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So when I saw said friend today, it was much the same feeling. I knew she has been working hard, knew her beloved dog had been sick, yet here she was, with me, and it was lovely.

Super thoughtful Christmas present!

Super thoughtful Christmas present!

Ew, whipped cream... dat Carrot Cake though!

Ew, whipped cream… dat Carrot Cake though!

Present exchanges and several hours of gabbing and puppy adoration later (her dog was sick but is back being a bundle of joy again! This coming from someone who hates dogs…) and we both had other places to be. Life is a pain sometimes.

But seeing her today made me realise something. That is me, now. I have seen everyone I care most about since my return home. I have reconnected with the people who have stayed in touch with me, despite the ocean of distance that separated us for so many months. Just in time for the new year.

I hope that this is a sign. I hope that this is a symbol that these are the people I am going to travel into 2015 with, hand in metaphorical hand, no matter whether we bring in the bells on Hogmanay together or apart. I’m not really one for the whole, new year, new me, business, but I’m hoping that it’s going to be a new year, same people to share it with, kind of deal.

I have made so many new friends this past few months and I hope that I will encounter many of them again in the future. But I have also missed the connection I have with those I left at home. I have been with my best friends since I was 5. They are a stirling group of gals and I wouldn’t replace them for the world.

We have seen each other through the elated highs and most proud successes. We have stressed over every exam and bitched about every teacher. We got drunk together for the first time and held back hair when the times that came after went a little too far. Boys had no secrets and every outfit for first dates was a group decision.

They held my hand when I literally thought I was going to die and we have no secrets. I want to share the rest of my life with them because they have saved me and brought me back from the brink when I was on the verge of my sanity. It’s a bigamist marriage, of sorts. Each one of them is a gem and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

20140812_195430 greer jill and gemma jill and greer

Love you ladies.

SSDD

Daily Prompts: From the Gut: Belly-Laughing with a Boy

Daily Prompts: From the Gut: Belly-Laughing with a Boy

The last time I belly laughed was today. And it was about fear. In a way.

gem and keef

The time before that was… so long ago I can’t actually remember when it was.

If you had asked me before today I would say I belly laughed with my friends, several  times, all recently, all with genuine gusto and enthusiasm. But.

This was a different kind of laugh. There is laughing, elation, embarrassed and nervous laughter. Then gut-grinding, ab-aching, cramp your tummy til you can’t breath and you feel like your head is no longer attached to your body it’s been so long since you breathed, but that’s ok because everything is hilarious – that kind of laughing. That’s what I had today.

It’s rare you find someone who can do that to you; make you laugh so hard your forgot you could, or ever did. The best part was, it was over something SO ironic it made me laugh even harder just thinking about how ironic it is! 6 months ago the topic at hand would have made me cry or scream or rage like cat in a corner, probably, but this time, I was causing so much noise in the tiny cafe that I was getting disturbed looks from… well the only other couple in the cafe, but still!

Keef and I

Keef and I

Then again, the topic we were laughing about might have seemed funny as hell to us, but to them… well, I’m surprised the Wacky Wagon wasn’t rolling out as we asked for the cheque.

Laughing, they say, is the best medicine, but I’m calling shennanigans on that one. I think laughing at something you once couldn’t is more therapeutic.

I don’t want to say exactly what it was we were mocking; that part is a little too RATED R for polite blogging; but put it this way – parts of the convo involved explicitly large German sausages, Scottish competitors for said sausages, and drunken visits equipped with chocolate sauce and… miniature rolling pins 😉 oh yeah, and Christmas. Dirty stuff 😛

What has this to do with fear, you ask? Well, if you could see inside my head…

We all need to laugh at something, for the sake of your  sanity you’ve got to. And apparently the moment for me to heal a bit, is over some dirty jokes, a dose of sarcastic irony and a diet Irn-Bru. 🙂

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(For those you you who don’t know about Irn-Bru, it’s a Scottish thing, Google it – the National non-alcoholic beverage, actually.)

SSDD

Should I Be This Excited By A Cafetiere?

So, exciting week for me.

Guess who only went and got a cafetiere!?

My new fave thing in the world

My new fave thing in the world

 

I say “went and got”, it was actually a little gift from my lovely mum. 🙂 As a self professed coffee connoisseur, one might expect me to already have one of these wonderful creations. Well, you would have thought wrong. Shameful, I know, I hang my head with the travesty of it. But it’s all ok now, because finally, at long last, I can indulge in my fancy Whittards coffee!! 😀

My partner in crime got it for me in February and we hadn’t realised it was not instant til it was, y’know, in my house already.

This particular box of lovelies contains six flavours; Smooth Vanilla, Rich Hazelnut, Traditional Irish Cream, Chocolate Truffle, Intensely Amaretto and Creamy Intense Caramel.

I’ve only sampled the Creamy Intense Caramel but let me tell you, if you have a sweet tooth, it is the perfect delectable treat. Smelling much sweeter than it actually tastes, it is suitable for even those who prefer a more bitter brew. Silky to drink, two spoonfuls of that in your cafetiere and supper is served!

Tonight, I venture forth into Truffle territory…

Whittard of Chelsea

Whittard of Chelsea

To purchase the above box, click HERE

SSDD

Getting the Caffeine Jitters!

Where have my powers gone!?

6 months ago I took the mammoth decision to make a major change in my lifestyle – I changed from regular to de-caf!

For a true caffeine addict this was a massive deal for me. I couldn’t cut it out of my life altogether – oh no, that would be like severing the power chord in my brain, or dehydrating one of my kids… if I had any… – but I made the change for good reason. I went through a rather unhealthy phase of drinking around 10 cups a day, sometimes as many as 15. Now, at the time I thought there was nothing wrong with this but as any medically trained professional will tell you, or anyone with half a brain, really, this ain’t exactly good for your health. Caffeine acts as a stimulant and causes your heart rate to increase. Glug 15 of those bad boys and you are looking at a rapid increase. I was giving my heart a work-out it didn’t need every day, just for the sake of that bittersweet deliciousness.

Not only did I cut the caffeine, I cut the coffee too; three cups a day, tops, with milk a lot of the time. And you know what – my heart is healthier. I kid you not, it has returned to a fairly regular pace! I say fairly regular, as I was chugging near incomprehensible volumes of the stuff, so just the smell of it is enough to send my ticker racing!

I hadn’t noticed at the time but I also became immune to the effects. My sleeping pattern had always been sporadic at best so I didn’t even factor that in, but for the first time in along while, today, I had a strong black coffee from one of my favourite local cafe’s, Flava. And oh dear god did I feel the effects. Imagine, I’m sitting across from my pal, when all of a sudden, BAM the rush hits me like a tonne of bricks and I’m light-headed, jabbering wildly about how, did you know, the amount of energy drink in a bomber drink is the equivalent of 3-4 cups of coffee, and how, did you know, the amount of energy drink one can of energy drink canbeupto15cupsofcoffee’sworthofcaffeine!!!!! Absolute madness.

So my advice to you is this – take it easy on the caffeine, and the caffeine will take it easy on you.

SSDD

A Tempting Tradition Twist on Pumpkin Perfection

The oversees caffeine giant strikes again with an American twist on a festive tradition.

Ahhh STARBUCKS™, you are sometimes so wonderful…

For weeks now my blog reader has been full of Americans bombarding me with pumpkins. Treats of all kinds have been appearing because of Thanksgiving and Halloween (links at the bottom to some of them!) but mainy they’ve been boasting about the latest PUMPKIN flavoured creation to be adapted to coffee or iced treat and, I can officially announce… that splendour has officially been shared with the UK as of 29th!! Yaaaaay!!

But that’s not all!

So curious was I and impatient to experience this bizarre wonder for myself, I took it as a personal challenge to acquire it the day the offer appeared in my Facebook feed – Friday 28th. On this mission I recruited one enthusiastic compatriot, one reluctant companion and two students with nothing better to do. One of whom was lost on the way there. A fleet of four it was to be.

And I succeeded! 😀 Though the offer was technically not due to start til Saturday 29th September, I took the initiative and… just asked nicely, actually. ^.^ The guy behind the counter looked impressed I even knew about it so…

I give you, one of the UK’s first ever STARBUCKS™ served PUMPKIN SPICED LATTE‘s!

they spelt my name wrong on the personalised cup… 😦

Should be ‘Gemma’ not ‘Jemma’ but I’ll let it slide… this time… 😛

This thing was so exclusive in the UK when I asked for it that their website hasn’t even updated to include it on their menu yet! (link at the top of the page!)

The offer is exclusive to lattes, which is a bit disappointing as I know the pumpkin flavour  is available across the full range of coffees in America. The only variation seems to be if you want whipped cream or not, as well as only being available for a month. That would be because it’s a Halloween promotion and all that…

Onto the taste test.

I’m not an expert on pumpkins, to the point where I actually have no idea what they taste like . 😀 But I can tell you this. It. Is. TASTY. It’s so good! So good, in fact, that far from tolerating the addition of milk in my coffee to experience this phenomenon, I actually enjoyed it. So good, I almost bought another one! Usually I hate milky coffee as it gives me headaches. Specialty lattes are often bearable because there is another flavour to dominate, but damn this was so good!

The flavouring was a little bit spicy, not like chili, more like ginger or cinnamon, and when added to the light, whipped cream it gave the coffee a sweetness I really never thought it would. I expected something heavier and something either very bitter, more akin to a headily scented, dense tasting coffee you might be served from a questionable looking, festive vendor, in a styrofoam cup, or something very mild and savoury; like a non-citrus cheesecake in coffee form with an almost tea-like consistency… if that’s even possible 😀 That thought might have been the product of having seen pumpkin flavoured goodies in the plastic, clear cups chilled drinks are served in. Never did I expect just how sweet it would be! The foam was light, the texture smooth, the aroma light and wafting. Delicious.

I would say that, taste wise, this is something of a girly drink, but I would highly recommend this particular speciality drink to everyone. Even if it doesn’t get you in a Halloween mood (something this sweet and scrumptious could never incite fear into anyone bar the lactose intolerant… nor can it celebrate the dead…) it will certainly give you a festive buzz. I personally hate Christmas, (see here!) but that’s what it tastes like!

I recently purchased a candied ginger body butter from The Body Shop and it was a good thing I hadn’t been wearing it when I drained that mug – I’d have morphed into a little Christmas elf, perhaps sporting a jaunty witches hat, right there on the spot! 😀

some pumpkin treats for you all!! STARBUCKS America full pumpkin range!! nutella swirled pumpkin pie, mini cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffins (no i’m not joking, that’s what they’re called) fudge brownie cupcakes with pumpkin cream cheese frosting (phew, what a title!) skinny pumpkin cheesecake brownie  SIMPLE pumpkin cake  a PSL,  a modified PSL  a “top 10 list”

credits have to go to: Sally’s Baking Addiction, (who I have a mild bakers crush on!! :D) Caffeinated and Random, (whose loving rants about her other half make me LOL), Sweet Little Thang

Follow me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/gemc200 , I hang out there occasionally 🙂

SSDD