Happy Halloween!

I'm not the biggest Halloween fan (it's fun, but I save my major glee for Christmas and Easter!), but it's a cute day to do something silly!  For me and the badgers it'll be some spooky stories and poems (hello, Revolting Rhymes), and a little candy with our maths lessons.  However you keep it, I hope it's a pleasant one!
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8 Weeks To Christmas!

And plans are starting to take shape!

I know there are other holidays to enjoy - Halloween tomorrow, Bonfire night at the weekend and on the fifth, and Thanksgiving, but for me it's all about the big Christmas fun!  I'm looking forward to choosing cards, sending lots of mail, buying presents, baking, planning decorations for the house (I think the first Christmas in a home you own is extra special)...

Our decorations will be going up on November 25th, as is traditional.  I'm going to work my butt off at school the week before so I wind up with no Sunday take home and can instead hit the (weight watchers) hot chocolate and create Christmas craziness in the house!
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Project Life Tuesday: Bruges Edition

The Mom Creative
Back aboard the PLT bus! Last week was just what the doctor ordered - one half working away while wearing PJs, one half away on holiday in Bruges.  As it stands I have lots of pictures of the latter and none of the former.  Enjoy! 

 I was amazed at how early we got up during a holiday week so I snapped the clock just before we took off!  Haha, I love Moray Firth Radio!

 Our first glimpse of Bruges.  Beautiful!

Fingal and Florence came with, of course!

Love the architecture in Bruges!

The Markt at night.

Many mini beers!

When I first downloaded this pic I was like "Why am I posing with ketchup?"!  Actually a very yummy cherry beer.

The badgers got involved, of course!

Matthew, enjoying the views.

Badgers on a boat!

I'm a little afraid of swans, so this part of the trip was trickier!

I have no idea what's going on in this shot....I think it may have been just after surving the trip up the the belfort and back.  The 366 steps weren't a problem physically, but I'm wary on stairs (I'm a clumsy clot sometimes!) so it was a wee bit of a challenge.  Worth it though - gorgeous views!


Looking forward to catching up on everyone else's weeks!
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Poppet Post

'Ello Hoomans!

Ow do?

It is I. Poppet cat.  I thoughted that as how Fry and Leels ad both ritten recently, I thoughted I would rite a note too.  I is a cleverhead like that!

The ouse is very quiet today.  Maffoo has gone back to werk and so as Clur, and Enry is reading a book down in the sitting room (I thinks.  We is not allowed in there anymore because Maffoo was gettin sads because we love to claw the soft floor in the home Jim.  It just feels so good!), so I have sneaked up to Clur's room for to use the pooter.  It has been win to av the hoomans around so much during the aff term break, but is also nice to be properly in charge agin!

We are now all very good at gettin in and out of the house, using our kitty door.  I is best at it ov course!  I likes to go splorin and vistin the neighbours, but come back lots to give my hoomans a miaow or a purr or a kiss - is portant to make sure they knows where I am!

I have also done a littul bit of unting!  I broughted Clur and Maffoo a nice juicy mouse the other day and lefted it on my bed for them to find.  It seemed to disappear while I was out for a wander - maybees they did nom it?

Well, Leels and I have plans to go miaow at Clur for chicken treats as soon as she's ome, so I'd better close.  More soon, I am sures - my typing is gettin better and better (is hard with paws, is tru fact!). 

Bye, hoomans!

Poppet 'No Middle Name Necessary' R.

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Back to school.

Back to work.

Back to counting points.

Back to not blogging in my PJs at 10.30 am.

Back to busy.

Back to the 5 am alarm.

But it's 57 days till Christmas....and 33 workdays until Christmas break.

And there's tonnes of fun, learning, events, cups of tea, volunteering and loveliness betwixt now and then.




But first, an assembly in front of the whole school and all my colleagues.

Good grief - talk about straight in at the deep end!
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While the humans were away...

...we had quite the time, let me tell you.

Granted, they left Henry behind to keep us fed and watered (a shrewd move, to be sure!), but other than that, we more or less had the run of the place.  Leela and Mater seemed to enjoy it, as did I.  Time to read and nap and listen to Wagner without having to make sure Claire and Matthew were behaving was just the tonic.  Looking after humans can be quite wearing.

Now, however, they have returned, and just like that, my schedule has become busy once again.  If I'm not miaowing at Claire or helping Matthew with his fussing technique, I'm playing with the catflap or jumping into the laundry basket for a flying lesson.  More on which, anon.

I wonder when I'll next get a chance to read some sonnets with a brandy?  The perils of having humans to take care of, alas!

Yours ever,
Fry Zanzibar R. Esq.

Perusing one's territory
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Oh man.

We had such a lovely holiday, y'all.

Four days of napping and walking and sightseeing and unplugging and spending good quality time together.  It was delicious, and the perfect switch off after a very busy couple of months.  I think Bruges may be the perfect destination for a mini-break - plenty to do but also a chilled, relaxed pace of life.  Great beer, a few frites, and time to enjoy each other's company.  Perfect.  More pics next week as part of my Project Life post, but this week I thought I'd share the instagram fun :)  Enjoy!

We visited SO many pubs and bars.  This is Matthew in our favourite one, 't Bruges Beertje.  Lovely staff, cosy pub, great beer list.  And they played classical music in the background, which is genius!  Why don't more venues do this?

One of my highlights was going on a horse and carriage ride around the city.  It was so fun, and a great way to get your bearings.  Bruges is fairly compact and easy to navigate, but there are wonders around each corner.

We also took a boat ride on the canal that runs through the city - I loved the chance to see Bruges from a different angle and to snap tonnes of pics!

We very much enjoyed our tour of the Halve Maan brewery (beer was definitely a theme!) - our tour guide, Andrew, was a riot!  Also wonderful was the view from the top of the brewery.

The belfry in the Markt.  It's a long way up (366 steps!), but the view was superb!  The bells in here are lovely - there's a carillion a little like a music box, and as our hotel was a stone's throw from here we were able to enjoy them a lot.  A lovely sound to awake to.

Loved this dog napping in the sunshine!

At the top of the belfry - made it!

Fingal and Florence enjoying a candlelit date...and a beer!

All ready for the Eurostar!

The view from the top of the belltower.  Beautiful.

We went to a bar that had a wall of beer.  I found my favourite - Kwak!

On a boat, baby.
As I said, there was a lot of napping...this is my post nap look ;)

We did a lot of museums, from the sublime (churches!  Art!), to the ridiculous (frites! Chocolate!) and enjoyed them all.  Here's Matthew at the chocolate museum.

Such a fun trip.  I love our minibreaks :-)
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Five Minute Friday: Voice

Five Minute Friday

Joining up with Lisa-Jo for the first time in too long for Five Minute Friday.  Love this link up.  Love this community. To quote the good lady herself...

We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that I post here at 1 minute past midnight EST ever Friday. And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.
Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

It started because I’d been thinking about writing and how often our perfectionism gets in the way of our words. And I figured, why not take 5 minutes and see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing.

So now on Fridays a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write without worrying if it’s just right gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes.
Your words. This shared feast.

Our most important requirement for participation: There’s really only one absolute, no ifs, ands or buts about it Five Minute Friday rule: you must visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

This weeks prompt....is Voice.


Loud and obnoxious.

That's what he called me.

Loud and obnoxious.

Just a throwaway phrase, overheard as I pass through the social area of the school where I'm still very new, a start-overer at sixteen.  This confident, talented, popular boy throws out the phrase (loudly, as it happens, as I can hear him a good few feet away) like a missile of disdain, not aware that the girl he's critiquing so succinctly and visciously is a couple of benches away.

My face flushes.  My throat tightens.  I feel the telltale pinpricks of tears wanting to loose and glance hurriedly at the others in my little group.  They haven't heard.

Thank God, they haven't heard.

I hitch up my bag and mumble an excuse about needing to use the powder room.  There, locked in a cubby, head lain against the cool tile, I can finally cry.

Obnoxious?  Obnoxious?

And all the fears come back.  The bullying, the late night whispers in the dorm, the always being the new kid.  Trying to fit in, to be nice, to be calm.  To not irritate my parents or annoy my siblings.  The tightrope of nice, of pleasant, of unworrying.  The good girl.  The easy kid.

Because if you're not, it's game over.

Now, from the vantage point of thirty-one, I can see the situation differently.  That boy was being, frankly and 'scuse my French, an ass.  He'd had the same friends since grade school and a new girl arrived who had the odd opinion and who like to study and succeed.  So he threw out the 'o' word unthinkingly, imagining it would slip straight past me.  It didn't.

I can also see myself more clearly now, and I was so so scared.  I was scared of being the new kid again, was fresh from the betrayal of false friends at my boarding school, I was scared of the future, I was scared of myself.  Having always been a bit of a doormat, for the first time I was trying to be a little more confident, to speak up, to find my voice.

So the loud, I can understand.  But the obnoxious?  That was unfair, wrong, and landed like a slap on the site of a bruise.

I'm so glad I'm older now, and I hope a little wiser.  My voice might not be perfect, but it's mine, and it helps me to write and teach and counsel.  To quote Frank Turner, "I'm happy and I'm settled in the person I've become."  And I'm glad that the fifteen years distance means I can now truly grasp who the truly obnoxious person was in that situation.

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A change is as good as a rest

And this break has been both a change and a rest.  But now it's time to get back to London.

It'll be a shame to leave Bruges (pics soon!) and the uber comfy hotel bed of win (TM).  It's been great hanging out as a duo and taking some chill time, but now I can hear the call of London town.  Looking forward to snuggling the kits, getting some work done, hearing Henry's housesitting adventures (thank you, dear boy!) and catching up with some fine folk this weekend.

Nous allons au eurostar maintenant! A bientot!
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Trying to stay on point...


I've been eating healthier since the final third of September, and I joined Weight Watchers not too long after.

All told I've lost 18 pounds, which I am super psyched about, but this week, I hit a plateau.

Now, the scientific, analytical part of my brain understands this.  After a big drop, my body needs to 'settle', and a stall is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.  But it still feels like a bit of a blow.  Is that silly?

I have some plans for getting the numbers moving again (more veggies, more sleep, more exercise), but I wondered - do you have any tips or words of wisdom on this, oh wise blog readers?

Meantime, I'm trying to focus on the good things - feeling perkier, more energy, fitting into my jeans - and looking forward to a drop on the scales soon!

18% there!
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Nine weeks until Christmas.

Those of you who know me in person know I am unashamed in my utter glee for the holiday season, and it's starting to feel more and more like my favourite time of the year.  Halloween's all well and good, and I'm a sucker for watching the Guy Fawkes fireworks with a baked potato and chilli, but the big cahuna has always been, and will always be, Christmas.

Most of the preparations I've made so far are in the form of lists and ideas in my head, but as we move towards November I can feel a major to do list coming on.  As busy as life can be with work and friends and Junior League and blogging, there's something about Christmas preparations that just appeals - the cosy evenings writing cards, finding a gift that will make someone smile, trying out new recipes...

....oh, and trying to figure out how to kitten-proof our tree!
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I'm a lucky girl. I know in that having a vocation I'm lucky enough to have a job I enjoy, which inspires me, stays fresh and challenging.

The boys are both hilarious and inspiring, and I genuinely have a lot of fun spending time with them and helping them progress. But me oh my, do I ever love the holidays too.

Waking up at 5, the marking load, the events (fun as they are) can be a bit of a trial, and really takes a toll, so a week at half-term to relax and recharge is absolutely invaluable.

It's also so great for the kids - this past week the fatigue has really started to tell and it's lovely for them to have a week off to rest and relax. Because next half-term is super busy too :)

I have lots of fun planned for this week - a trip to Bruges, coffees and brunches with some lovely folk, EPIC KITTEN TIMES - and also a lot of work/blog/JLL assignments to clear.

I'm also aiming for a run of eight hour sleep nights.

Because I love sleep.

For realz.
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Holiday Hampers!

Every year, the ladies of the Junior League of London run an annual appeal called 'Holiday Hampers'.  Altogether more than 1,000 hampers are constructed and sent out to families and individuals in need here in London - containing gifts, books, toiletries and food.  This makes such a difference at such a special time of year and I love being a (very small!) part of it.  I'm passionate about Hampers and really hope we can make a giant success of this years endeavour (the 16th year of Hampers in all!).

The families and individuals we support are a diverse swathe of people - young mums living in hostels, old folks needing support, homeless people in shelters, families escaping domestic violence, families living below the poverty line.  The chance to bless them with a gift is a real privelege, and I've heard first hand what these hampers mean to those receiving the items.  They feel loved.  Remembered.  Cared for.  And that's a powerful thing.

This year, as well as our usual appeals for corporate and member donations, we also have a site where people can donate a little money, should they feel so moved.  If you are able to give a little to make a big difference this year, please click HERE for further details and for our donation page.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and for considering our project.  If you'd like to tweet or facebook share or to blog about our link, please do!  I would love to make 2012 a banner year for the families and individuals we help. 
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Saturday Silliness

I saw this on Pinterest and just had to share! Happy weekend, all!

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Things I Like

1. Pumpkin Spiced Lattes!  After years of hearing about these from the States I finally tried one last week and it was delicious!

2. Visits with both of our families coming up soon.

3. The return of Take Me Out.  The ultimate in guilty pleasure television!

4. Kitty cuddles when I get in from work.

5. Colder nights - is there much nicer than being snuggled and warm when it's cold outside?

6. Making lists.  Checking them twice.

7. Soup season.  I made a spiced butternut squash number last week that was loooooovely (if I do say so myself!).

8. The smell of chips on cold air.  I'm not going to eat them (hello, Weight Watchers!), but I can sure enjoy the aroma!

9. Impromptu dances with my class :-)

10.  It's half-term break!
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A Good Book....

Is there anything better than a good book?  Curling up cosy on the couch, reading before bed, whiling away a commute...there's always a time to crack open a book.  Here are a few of my recent favourites - I thought I'd share!  I always get great tips from other bloggers (hat-tip especially to Christy and Shan), so I thought I'd join the party :)

Source: google.co.uk via Claire on Pinterest

This was one of my favourite books as a child, and now I have it as one of my class readers with my Year 5s each year. I reread it at the start of term, and it's just as good as ever. Do you enjoy the Narnia series?

Source: google.co.uk via Claire on Pinterest

This was a really fun read! I love Go Fug Yourself (Fug Nation represent!), and this book has just as much warmth and silliness as the blog does. So much fun.

Source: google.co.uk via Claire on Pinterest

This book was a great read! Absolutely facsinating and definitely made me think more about how I use the internet. I love reading books on the brain.

Source: google.co.uk via Claire on Pinterest

I *love* Caitlin Moran. I want to have tea/wine/dinner with her and put the world to rights. This collection of her writings is wonderful - funny, silly, moving. Brilliant.

Source: amazon.co.uk via Claire on Pinterest

Nora Ephron was such a dame. Such a dame. This collection of essays is like a masterclass in the form, while still hugely entertaining. I strongly reccommend!

So friends, what have you been reading? I am always up for some new suggestions!
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Missive 2 from Leela Nymeria

Greetings, humans.

Claire is busy sleeping right now (clever girl!), so I have seized the opportunity to fill you in on my further adventures here.

Myself and the other cats continue to do well here in our abode.  The humans have been very busy with work but we have trained them well in feeding times, appropriate amount of cuddles, correct calls.  It will serve.

They have recently installed a contraption which allows us access to the outside.  This is novel and allows us ample opportunity for fun and shenanigans.  We are all becoming most adept at going outside on our own, and mother is very good at letting herself back in.  Fry and I, however, prefer miaowing until the humans let us in.  This is the way it should be.

In short, all is well. 

But now I must go destroy a mouse toy before the humans arise in an hour or two.  Must keep ones end up, you know.

All best,
Leela Nymeria R.

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I Love Your Blog: Siobhán Claude van Damme

Continuing the 'I Love Your Blog' series with the lovely Siobhán!

  1. How long have you been blogging?
If you count all the blogs I have had, this would be my eleventh year of blogging but my current blog is nearly five years old, with the first post in it on 1st January 2008.
  1. What do you blog about?  Do you have a specific goal with your blog (i.e. reviewing products, using it as a ministry, promoting a business), or is it more a record of your life?
I blog primarily for me and for meeting other lovely bloggers so it is mostly a record of my life and a place to store recipes and ideas, in fact I often search my own blog for recipes and use them to recreate ideas I liked before.
  1. What is your favourite thing about blogging?
The interaction with others and the range of people I am lucky enough to meet both online and in person through it.  Particularly the people I may never have met otherwise but who I have surprising common ground with. 

  1. What is your least favourite thing about blogging?
When I get behind on comments and reading  other people’s blogs as I don’t like it when blogging feels like a chore, it has always been a fun hobby and I hope to keep it that way.
  1. Do you have any favourite posts on your blog – pieces you’re really proud of, which document something special, or which seemed to strike a chord with your readers?
I wrote a post on my agoraphobia (http://somethingshavehappened.blogspot.co.uk/2010_08_01_archive.html) and this helped me a lot as it made me feel less alone and I hope it helped others to as well.  I don’t write particularly personal posts often so am glad that one went down as well as it did.
  1. Whose blogs do you love?  I’m always looking for recommendations :)
I like Blether (http://jblethers.blogspot.co.uk/)  a lot as I love Jacqueline’s take on the world, I adore Backwards in High Heels (http://taniakindersley.blogspot.co.uk/) as Tania Kindersley is a brilliant writer with a wonderful world view, I also love to read Any Other Woman (http://anyotherwoman.com/) and oh so many others – just read my blog roll list (http://somethingshavehappened.blogspot.co.uk/p/blogs-i-follow.html) and go check them all out!

  1. Do you enjoy meeting and connecting with other bloggers?
Yes, very much – this is my favourite thing about blogging.
  1. Do you use other forms of social media in conjunction with your blog?
I tend to keep my social media streams and my blog separate.  I’m not sure I want to start promoting my blog much outside of the blogging world.  It’s not really occurred to me to do that at any point, and once when I found out that I was accidentally sharing it on Facebook I stopped. I do however follow many bloggers on twitter and most of them know about my blog so the two worlds do intertwine, though not very directly.
  1. Have you learned anything in the writing of your blog and in your development as a blogger?
I think my style started to change around the time I started writing about our wedding as that introduced me to a lot of brilliant blogs by smart and exciting women.  This is still shaping my writing now, so I think time will tell what the change to my style is, so I think the main thing I have learned is to keep learning and to keep an open mind to what you might find.

  1. What tips do you have for bloggers growing and nurturing their blogs?
I have no idea as that as growth has never been my ambition, but keep it honest and true to who you are and the rest flows from there.  I think that is where the friendships start, that and reading other interesting blogs and getting to know people by getting involved in the comments.  The comments are the conversation and that is always the most fun part of a blog (that and pretty pictures).
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10 weeks!

Yay!  The temperatures are dropping, the coats are coming out, and all the fun holidays are ahead.

Here I am starting to get very excited about the onset of Christmas planning - while I don't really get decorating/wrapping/writing until late November, this time of year is definitely the season of lists and planning.  I like making spreadsheets and to-do lists and budgets, so now is the perfect time to use these skills.

I've started making an amazon wishlist for gifts, and next comes the address checking for cards.  With a lot of the deadlines for the States and Canada up at the very start of December, it's definitely worthwhile putting in a few hours here and there in advance.

I've also bought my tickets for the Junior League's Boutique de Noel in mid-November - such a treasure trove for Christmas gifties, and the bonus?  The tickets sold go towards the great work that the League does here in London, helping people living in poverty! 

How about you?  Are you already planning?  Half-done?  Or are you of the ilk that waits until December to get excited?
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The Home Stretch

The first half-term of the new school year always feels like a slog.  It's great to be back into the swing of things and to meet your new classes, but the long hours and busy days can be exhausting, and the half-term break always feels well earned when it arrives.

Which is on Friday.

Thank heavens!

It really has been a packed half-term so far, full of fun things and new excitements, and it's been so good to be back at school and doing lots of teaching and learning.  I really like my form (seriously, they are hilarious!) and my classes are proving to be fun, challenging and lovely in all kinds of ways.  RS is fun, my Year 5s are a great giggle to teach English to, and Year 6 History is as interesting as ever.  But the pace of life, the up-at-6, home-at-8 combo, has been really draining.  So it's nice to be on the home stretch.

Just a few more days and autumn break will be here - nine days of reading, napping, and relaxing.  I have a little work to do, but it's definitely on the backburner for the duration - just a couple of afternoons.  And I'm so looking forward to heading off to Bruges with Matthew for a few days of chocolate, walks in the autumnal air and Kwak.

What are you looking forward to, lovelies?

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Things I Like

1. Leafing through the Boden catalogue, daydreaming of what I might buy...when they next have a super sale!

2. Half-term break peeking around the corner.

3. Pukka nighttime tea and a good book at bedtime.

4. Cheese and pickle sandwiches - as an occasional treat they are worth every point!

5. Prioritising.

6. Cooler temperatures meaning cooler outfits - it's so much easier to work a look in the autumn!

7. The power to help.

8. Purrs and cuddles.

9. An impromptu visit from Henry on the horizon!

10. Impending fun with some of my favourite girls.
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It's 11 weeks until Christmas.

Usually I get excited about Christmas and prepare for Christmas all year round, but this year I made myself wait until we hit the three-months-to-go mark.

We're way past there now.

And I'm so excited.

I've done the first draft of my present list, and sent the (facebook) invites for our annual Christmas drinks.

I like to do a job or two a week - spreads the fun, calms the last minute chaos.

Have you started planning yet?
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Project Life Tuesday: September 30th to October 6th

The Mom Creative
Linking up as ever with the lovely Jessica!  Love this record of the days and weeks as they go by!
Last week was another busy one, but also more chilled by necessity with a cold knocking me out for a day or two (cue lots of sleep and being nursed by our sweet kittens!).  So photo-wise, this is another kitty heavy offering: enjoy!
This may be silly, but I wanted to include it :) Three weeks ago I couldn't get these jeans done up (as in, there was an inch or two to go towards even doing so!).  On Friday I wore them (comfortably!) to school for Jeans for Genes day.  So good to feel a little leaner - a long way to go, but I shall celebrate the baby steps too!
Eileen, Hayley and I shared beers and a movie trip on Friday.
Loved volunteering with Fareshare on Saturday.  How cute are my Junior League sisters?

I saw this beautiful butterfly on Saturday at Leyton tube and just had to get a picture.  Isn't it beautiful?  So unusual to see a butterfly in October.
 Pretty Poppet having a cuddle.
Such a fun package from Katie!
Lots of fun volunteering at Manna with these lovely ladies.

Fish and chips!

Leela versus the plate :(

Leela and I chilling at home.  She loves the camera :)

Rainy Friday, book, and Starbucks.  Lovely!

Fry surveys.
Leela and Poppet.

As the health kick continues, I am using post-its in my diary to schedule workouts.  Love having the equipment at home to do so.

Kitty googling...

Love it when I get a chance to write some cards and letters!  How sweet is this little mole?

 Leela playing nurse, sweet thing.
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