Huge News: We're engaged!


I decided not to blog the best bit of my holiday until I had told my parents and asked my best friend to be my maid of honour. This has all been done so I am delighted to share with you the happy news.

I had absolutely no idea whatsoever that Sam was going to propose to me and it took me completely by surprise. We had booked a meal at a restaurant in La Jolla, San Diego and set off early for a wander around the area. Unbeknownst to me, Sam had planned it so that we would be at the beach for sunset. As we walked along the beach we stopped to watch the sealions and Sam asked me to marry him, producing from thin air the most beautiful ring. Without hesitation I said yes!

Apparently Sam had been planning to ask me earlier in the holiday. He was going to recreate a moment we had several years ago on a pebble beach in the South of France. This is why we did the 17 mile drive around Pebble Beach Bay. What I didn't mention about the beach was that it was quite a strongly scented area. The beach was covered in seaweed and it wasn't actually a pebble beach, more a sandy beach with some large rocks. We joked on the day that "stinky sand beach with rocks" wasn't as romantic a name. I am glad that Sam aborted the mission and rescheduled because La Jolla was a perfect backdrop.

I wanted to surprise my maid of honour so I have kept the news off the internet, which was incredibly difficult! I made a little "invite" for her and put the request to be my maid of honour inside a cupcake box. Hopefully she'll say yes because I have pre-written this post and it is scheduled to post while we are at dinner together. Fingers crossed she agrees.

San Diego Zoo

We had a fab time at San Diego Zoo today.

What's your favourite zoo animal?

Holiday Update: San Diego

I am still in the Californian Republic and am loving San Diego.

After a chillout over the weekend (boy, did that feel good!), we had a wander around the Gaslamp Quarter today.

In the past, Sam has been known to try and claim my excellent holiday shots as his handiwork. To show I'm willing to give credit where it is due, he took the best shot of the sign today. Even though it pains me to have an image that isn't the same size as the others in this post, here is my public declaration of his camera-manship:

I took lots of pictures of the architectural details around town which is what I always do in cities. I am sparing you many of them, here is a choice selection:

I really enjoyed wandering around the Old Town and managed to get some highly posed shots in a variety of places:

I also managed to procure some sugar free pumpkin pie syrup which means I will be able to make my own pumpkin lattes at home. Take that silly coffee chain that hasn't brought their highly tasty seasonal coffee treat to UK shores!

Nails of the month

If you have been following my trip to the States you will be forgiven for thinking that all I have bought while here is craft stuff. I have bought a lot of craft stuff, including a gorgeous crochet pattern book/magazine today with loads of lovelies I cannot wait to get started on... Oh yes, things other than craft: nail polish!

What you see on my accent nails is a beautiful huge gold glitter nail polish by Milani nail lacquer that I picked up from Walmart. I originally painted this on all of my toenails and it was so glorious I had to have some on my hands too. I paired it with a new polish I had picked up from Superdrug at home: Beauty UK glam nails in peach melba. And then I remembered the white nail design pen I bought from a Claire's here in California (do the Claire's in the UK stock these too?) and got busy on my nails.

After completing this tribal design on my left hand (the picture on the right, I didn't think my Diptic through this evening) I realised that although I can wield a nail brush with my left hand, a pen was impossible so I asked Sam to do my right hand for me (the bigger picture on the left) and he quite clearly did a fantastic job. I think he enjoyed a bit of freehand nail design and has agreed to do my right hand whenever I need him to. He has a hidden talent in matters of beauty: I asked him to pin up my hair for a uni ball a few years back and he did such a good job that people had thought I'd had it done at a hairdressers.

It's amazing how much a little bit of bling and nail art can brighten your day- not that it needs brightening in the lovely San Diego sun - but as soon as my eye catches the sparkle of this glitter I have a huge smile on my face. It also helps that my nails have finally grown back after the climbing challenge.

What little treat is making you smile today?

Santa Barbara to San Diego with a few stops along the way

I haven't updated on our holiday progress for a few days so here is a quick catch up.

I loved Santa Barbara and was sad to leave. I had wanted to get my step-dad a UCSB t-shirt or hoody so we had our eyes peeled for a Walmart as we left. Walmart did not have anything branded with the university but it did have a Knook for Nikki. A few shops down was a Jo-Ann's craft store and I found a sock loom which has made me very happy indeed! I cannot wait to get knitting socks on the loom, even though Ruth has promised to teach me to knit on normal knitting needles.

Driving down the coast we made a quick stop at Malibu Beach. I was desperate to see Hollywood and even though Robert and Ruth had been before and weren't terribly enthused to go again, they braved the horrible traffic so that I could get my picture of the Hollywood sign. I'm so grateful to them both for this holiday and their patience with my photo collection!

The Chinese theatre and the road around it was closed off because of the premiere for Abduction, some film starring Taylor Lautner off of the Twilight films. We didn't stick around to meet him even though he is pretty hot!

Several hours of traffic later we finally made it to Laguna Beach. It's not so clear in the picture above but there was a jacuzzi in our hotel room which amazed me. Sadly, Robert turned it on before it had filled up properly and managed to soak the entire room!

Laguna was absolutely lovely and I could have stayed there for a few more days. As we walked along the beach Sam saw some fins sticking out of the water and we immediately thought "shark"! It turned out to be dolphins frolicking in the sea so we stopped and watched for a while. We happened upon some people doing some cool circus tricks in a big metal hoop and I was hugely entertained watching them. Does anyone know what this circus skill is called because I loved watching it and would love to see more?

We are now in our holiday home in San Diego and after so much travelling the house didn't quite meet our initial expectations. I was in a bit of a silly mood so when we went food shopping Sam and I took daft photos of the produce. Our favourite shot was of the squash that looks like a bum! We also took pictures of the donut peaches, yellow tomatoes and white onions. Anyone reading from America won't understand why I considered these to be photo worthy but I haven't seen food in these shapes and/or colours at home and they amused me in my giddy mood!

I expect that now that we are chilling out in San Diego I will have less to post about so I probably won't be back for a few days.

If anyone has any suggestions of things to do in San Diego, please leave me a comment.

Holiday update: Santa Barbara

We woke up nicely refreshed from our first night's stay at the Cheshire Cat B&B in Santa Barbara and set off for a stroll around the pier. After walking off breakfast we went down to Los Olivos. We had a wine tasting at the Firestone winery followed by a little lacklustre tour of the vineyard. With a bit more time on our hands than we anticipated so we got to see another vineyard which was very picturesque. We stopped for a touch of shopping and then chilled out until dinner, which was absolutely delicious. I've been knitting up a storm on my new knook and I may have a scarf finished by the end of the holiday!

Solvang: Danish California

Today was not as picturesque a drive as yesterday but we stopped off at a Walmart and I finally bought a knook. At first I couldn't get the hang of it but soon enough I was knitting which is a real achievement for me. Ruth thinks that she can teach me to knit using proper knitting equipment and a pair of knitting needles were procured in the cutest town called Solvang. We had a pastry and a wander around the Danish town before finishing the drive down to Santa Barbara. We has a bit of time before dinner to wander around the town and we stumbled across a farmers market with some gorgeous looking flowers and produce.

There's an app for that: how I blog on my iPad on the go

My first day in San Francisco I was screaming with frustration at the difficulty in blogging on the iPad. I ought to have tried it out before I came but it's so much easier on my laptop; I couldn't force myself to do it until now. A few days later and I'm loving blogging on the go. My posts are quite different but I think that's as much the holiday vibe as it is the available technology.

Getting images onto the iPad

I bought a camera connection kit off of eBay for £6ish and it is fantastic. You pop your memory card into it and it sticks into the charger port. You can then upload all your pictures directly onto your iPad. I love it.

5/5 for ease of use.

Editing images

I have loads of pictures I want to share but not all images are equal. That's why I love Diptic for the little photo collages I've been posting on here. It allows me to group my photos and I love the square photos. If you don't want to be square you can buy an add on to the app to change the height and width. It's so easy and fun to use and it's available on the iPhone too.

5/5 for ease of use.

Saving images

I save my Diptic images into my photo album on my iPad. Partly because I want to use them in other places but also because I found saving the images into flickr from Diptic was painfully slow on the free hotel wifi connection. From my photo albums I upload the pictures to flickr using the official flickr app. I may be doing it wrong but I can only upload 5 images at once, another benefit to creating a photo collage on Diptic as far as I am concerned.

I also struggle with the periphery tasks like naming, describing and tagging my photos and putting them into sets can be a little hit or miss so I've decided to be okay about leaving the sorting out of all that until I get home. For now I just need the pictures online so that's all I do. The other thing I have to note is that the flickr app is a scaled up version of the iPhone app so it's all pixelated and looks a bit special. It works the same as the iPhone app so it gets the job done but it doesn't make the most of the iPad real estate.

A final issue I have found is that can't upload imported images, just saved images so if I want to use an unaltered image from my camera I have to faff around saving it before I can upload it.

2/5 for ease of use

Blogging

I've tried a few apps for blogging in the past and none seem to have the features that I need so I always ended up on my laptop. The most recent I've tried is packed full of features so I've stuck with it and Blogsy is my favourite for blogging on the iPad.

Because Blogsy has all of the features of blogger, my blogging platform of choice, the learning curve is rather steep and I wasn't able to pick it up and use it off the bat. I didn't get inserting images straight away which is why I am uploading images to flickr first. I have since learnt that I can upload pictures straight to the blog like I do at home but I'm continuing with using flickr now for consistency.

The help feature is great and even has videos so if you're not getting something straight away you can watch how it is done.

Blogsy has 2 sides which took me a bit of getting used to but now I understand how it works it is getting much easier to use and I'm enjoying blogging a lot. My posts are a lot more minimalist but I think that is as much about the holiday mindset as it is the technology. I can see myself using Blogsy at home when I have a quick post to do and it is becoming easier and easier for me to use. I'm getting in to the swing of things and I really recommend this if you have been struggling to find an app for blogging on the go.

2/5 for ease of use when you first use it, 4/5 for ease of use after a few days of practice!

What do you use for blogging on an iPad or tablet PC? Any great app recommendations?

The Pacific Coast Highway

Today, we drove down the Pacific Coast Highway from Monterey to Morro Bay stopping at a few vista points on the way. We had pastries in Big Sur, stopped for a glance at Hearst Castle, and had a look at the craft shops in Cambria. My favourite view of the day was the beach covered in elephant seals.

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