Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year Dinner

Tomorrow would be the traditional big dinner with family, but I am working all day tomorrow. I am pretty tired of big dinners now anyways, so today we used Josh's Christmas present. I found a new Le Creuset fondue pot at a charity shop for a mere 8 quid! Josh had been saying he really wanted to fondue again, so I couldn't pass this up. It's also a chance for me to take a break, as fondue prep is Josh's job. :) We just did a simple cheese fondue with apples and bread. Yummy!

Maybe I should start a foodie blog! :)

I think that will be about it for our New Year's celebrations. It seems that the rain will hinder us from seeing an fireworks. And I don't think we will do any first-footing. Here is a wee article on Hogmanay. If the rain keeps up, there wont be much reveling tonight!

Do my photos look really digital to you? Not sure why they are doing that.

Feeling ambitious

I'm on a kick. I'm making all sorts of things I wouldn't ever have thought of making before.

I bought a yoghurt maker a couple of days ago. I finally had the chance to make it last night. I didn't realise how easy this would be! But then when I was eating it I was thinking, "Strange how all this is is milk with bacteria going wild in it." :) After I let it cool in the fridge I spooned some out for my breakfast. I sweetened it with honey and added passion fruit. I don't really care for the yoghurt here, but this tasted more like what I was used to. A bit runny, but I am told the first and second time with a new starter is sort of runny. I didn't have a problem with it. I really like how I know what went into the yoghurt. No artificial flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives. :)

This is my yoghurt

I also made focaccia last night. I got a Williams Sonoma baking book at Costco (Yeah, American recipes!) and Josh gave me 2 cookbooks (one being Baking Illustrated) that I asked for for Christmas. So when I was looking out for sales I picked up a stoneware bowl set to make my bread in. The focaccia I made last night has caramelised red onions, garlic, rosemary, and sea salt on the top.

My focaccia, post slicing

Along the lines of bread, I started sourdough bread a couple of days ago. Tomorrow I can make my sponge and bake the bread on Tuesday.

Sourdough starter

I am also going back to growing sprouts. I am doing alfalfa just now, but I plan to venture out more and try lentils, chickpeas, and others. Blogger wont let me upload any more photos, so I'll let you browse my blog for the sprouts I made previously.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Torchlight Procession

Last night we took part in the torchlight procession with some friends. £5 pays for a torch and the proceeds go to charity. The walk starts at parliament square on the Royal Mile and heads down the Mound, along Prince's Street, and up Calton Hill. At the top of the hill are 2 huge bonfires, one is from a Viking ship they burn, which you throw your torch into. At the end are fireworks (the Scots sure do love their fireworks!).

I did not bring my SLR. I brought my video camera instead, so I have no pictures to post. I found that I didn't need to because there are loads of fabulous pictures on flickr! Just do a search. (Be sure to search everyone's photos)

Happy New Year, all! It will be another quite holiday for us, but I am working all day New Year's Day, and it will be a busy one!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Time??

Is it really almost Christmas? I told a customer today that I can't believe I can count on one hand the number of days til Christmas. I know we say that every year. "It comes so fast!" But really, you have to go shopping to feel Christmas here. And even then, it is still somehow different. There is no snow. We had a couple of near bone chilling days, but it is quite mild today. I went outside with a fleece! (I hear it is quite warm in the Chicagoland area, too) And the biggest thing is, THERE ARE VIRTUALLY NO CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS!! You can look in people's windows where you might spot a Christmas tree (they don't put them up a month early like Americans do, more like 1 or 2 weeks), but that is about it. I don't walk down the street and say "Ah, yes. It's Christmas."

Now, I will admit that if you head up the hill to city centre it would feel a bit more Christmasy. There's George St with it's cone shaped Christmas trees and Prince's St with all the shoppers (think Michigan Ave at Christmas!) and, of course, the German market and the winter wonderland. (but winter wonderland is really just a carnival). I did enjoy those festivities last year, but I just can't be bothered this year. Go to the flickr site and do a search for edinburgh christmas (you can search my photos, but be sure to do a search in everyone's photos). You will find some fun photos.

Well, we've got our Charlie Brown Christmas tree. He's a wee potted tree that we picked up at B&Q, sort of like Home Depot. We got our ornaments and lights there, to go along with the few sentimental orniments I brought. I just can't bring myself to pay full price for Christmas decorations, and since we didn't have a tree last year and we didn't know where we would be this year, I didn't buy any when they were on sale. It kind of makes me sad to think of all the nice ornaments and decorations we have back in the States and we have to do with so little here. It's like that with everything. But I think living here has taught us that we can live more simply. It's a good thing.

If I don't post before then, have a Happy Christmas everyone! We will be having a wee Christmas Eve lunch here with a few others as Josh is working Christmas day. You will be in our thoughts.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dark Days

We are nearing the shortest day of the year, or the longest night. Whichever you prefer. Officially, sunrise today is at 8:41am and sunset is at 3:39pm, but don't let that fool you. There really is not that much sun these days. The sun does not rise very high. We have loads of windows in our front room, but there is a building 4 stories high across the street from us. The sun does not rise above that building. When I am walking towards the Mound, I can see the sun hiding behind the castle. Beyond the Mound, when walking south I have to wear sunglasses in order to see because the sun is directly in my face (of course, that is on the occassional non-overcast day).

Better than last year...

Last year, this time of year was incredibly hard for me. I was crying nearly everyday and had a hard time leaving the flat when I wasn't working. There were a lot of factors: rough time at work, still adjusting to a new country, holiday season without friends and family. But I think the biggest factor that sort of just loomed over all of the others and made them all worse was the lack of sun. I was fairly prepared for it from what everyone was telling me, but it was still such a SHOCK! I heard that the first year is really a shocker, but it gets better after that.

Just last week I was thinking to myself: It's kind of dark now, isn't it? That is how unnoticable it was to me this time round! Well, of course I noticed it, but it wasn't dreadful and I didn't dwell on it. And again, there are a lot of other factors that have helped me cope better this year: we have friends! work is still rough, but I am in a possition to make change and my coworkers appreciate my work, our flat isn't a cold little dark hole of a place.

So, thank you to those of you who helped us through the first year. Last year at this time Josh was saying that he couldn't let his wife go through another winter here. But now I couldn't imagine leaving so soon!

On a lighter note: I have just made my first dried orange slices to string on our wee tree. If only I could figure out how to string them so they don't all slide together...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Snowman

Thursday was a night out for Josh and I. We went to see The Snowman. We don't get to go to theater much here. Well, we've only been once before. It was fun to get dressed up, even though most people there were casual. Actually, most people there were under 12. Well, not really, but there were still a lot of kids.

I am still baffled by the theater culture here. I am shocked when I see people bring out their own container of popcorn or a burger they brought in. During intermission they sell ice cream cones. It seems like such a disrespect for theater to me, but it is just different here. It is more casual. It is like going to cinema.

Starbucks Christmas Party

I organised a Christmas party for my workmates. We haven't done anything like it since I started there. It was nice to enjoy an informal atmosphere of our flat to chat, laugh, and EAT! We had a potluck and it was pretty international, just like our store: Charlotte brough lasagna, Danny bought quiche, Josh (not my husband. confusing, I know) brought CANADIAN french toast with MAPLE syrup, Effie brough sushi (which she made herself!), Maria brought a Spanish omlette (actually 2, which she took the time to remake because she had a disaster with the first ones), Ruth brought a divine pudding (dessert). I can't remember the name of it, but it was basically whipped cream with lemon and raspberry. MMM!

I made my (now) famous Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and cinnamon rolls. It is so much fun to make that pizza for people here. Their eyes get so big when they see it, then they roll to the back of their head when they eat it. :) The guys were telling me I ought to open a pizza and cinnamon roll cafe. Then they said they would all work for me. HEE! :)

We also had a Secret Santa. Mine was not so secret as Josh told me the day before that he bought my present. :P It was great fun. When everyone signed up they put suggestions for what they would like to get. We passed out the presents randomly. Each person opened the present and we all had to guess who it was for, based on what we knew of eachother. Of course when Danny opened an obscure DVD and started talking about who was the director and everything we knew that it was definately for him.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I can relate!

Someone on a Starbucks forum has this for their avatar : Warning: unattended children will be given a free espresso and a puppy. :) :) :)

At our local mail sorting centre there is a sign which reads: Our staff have the right to work without being abused by customers. (AMEN!!)

Am I Cursed?!?

Why is it so hard for me to get a job with decent working conditions? Why do I have to deal with the dilema of staying with a job I love, or quitting in order to keep my sanity?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My husband got knocked on the head with John Knox's breeches!

Today was Josh's graduation. Congratulations, Sweetie!

This is after graduation in front of McEwan Hall. I am very proud of my husband. He did very well in his studies and graduated with distinction.

Now, the thing about the breeches. There is this bonnet, or graduation cap that the Vice-Chancellor taps the heads of the graduates with when they are called up. It is popular belief that the bonnet was made from the material of John Knox's trousers. Quite interesting indeed.

Again, take a look at flickr for more photos. Sorry about the blur. My zoom lens has not been in my good favour.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Highway robbery!

I went to post a parcel to America today. It weighed 2.6 kilos (roughly 5 lbs.). It was going to cost me £44 to send. The nice gentleman told me that if it was under 2k it would only be £19 to send. I took it back home to repackage it. :)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sorry I am a bit late about posting our Thanksgiving wishes. It has been a busy week. But now I can post about our dinner as well!

Steph sent us some Stove Top stuffing for our dinner, as well as some other goodies to enjoy later. :) Thanks, Steph! Everyone really enjoyed it.

We had a total of 10 people (including Josh and I) and our group was very diverse. We had 5 Americans from various parts of the US and one being a missionary in Nigeria. Then the others were from Scotland, England, Australia, China, and Spain. I learned that candy in Australia is called 'lollies' (or was that the popsicle? It's getting all jumbled up) and a traditional Christmas in Spain would include a lamb for the dinner. Oh, yes. And I learned that a word I had been throwing around is a very bad swear word here. :P Thanks for clearing that up!

Our meal included:

Turkey (of course)

ham (gammon) with brown sugar and clove

scalloped potatoes with chipotle

smashed potatoes



sweet potato casserole

roasted veg (thanks Andy!)

cranberry orange sauce

biscuits (American), plain and with jalapeno and cheddar

And for dessert we had:

chocoalate mousse and strawberry mousse (thanks Sam!)

pumpkin cheesecake


fudge (thanks mom!)

Oh, yes. Russell brought some cloudy pressed apple juice, so I simmered that in some mulling spices and we were able to have about as close to mulled cider as you can get here. :)

I tried to push the leftovers on to the students, but even after they took some there was still a bunch left and I couldn't get anyone else to take some. I am glad that we had this opportunity to share our home and food with our friends. I have never been able to host a meal for this many people and it was a blessing. Sam really came through and helped out so much. Thanks Sam!

All in all, it was a very enjoyable day. Now I am off to tackle the dishes. I think it would be safe to say we used nearly every dish, fork, pot, and pan in our flat!

Take a look at flickr for more pictures.

Also, look to the right. We have a new tagboard for you to leave messages on! (hint, hint)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thank you

Thank you for your prayers and support. The last few weeks have been so stressful with my work and Josh's non-work. Last week, just one day before our deadline, Josh recieved a call offering him a position. He accepted and has started work today (it is quite lonely around here now!). He is working for a Christian organisation called Bethany in one of their residential facilities for people recovering from an addiction. One of the downsides is that he will be on a rota, but if it works out I am going to try to conform my rota as closely to his as possible.

Thanks for your support.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Today is Remembrance Day. We wear a red poppy to rememeber fallen soldiers. I felted this one for 9/11, but I wore just the poppy today. Today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month we observed a two minute silence. It was powerful to know that probably the whole city was a little quieter at this time.
Take a look at the videos. The first is a touching tribute to some who have fallen.
In Flanders Fields By:
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army
IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The big 30!

Happy Birthday to my wife of thirty years....thirty years old that is! Many thanks to our friends: Peter, Sam, and Emma, for treating us to dinner and a movie to celebrate Deliverance's birthday. Deliverance truly is a special and generous friend to everyone who knows her. Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

Monday, November 06, 2006

For Thanksgiving...

Would anybody be willing to send a box or two of StoveTop Stuffing?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

on holiday...what to do

To answer Steph's question about if I will be knitting during my holiday...I did feel a sense of relief at just the thought of knitting. :) I was saying to Sam today that it is not one of those "AH" feeling sort of holidays. I still have a lot to do. And as I mentioned, I will be in the store Wednesday to get "signed off" to become a shift supervisor qualified rather than just a piddly shift supervisor in training. Silly how I have been running shifts and doing all of the duties of a proper supervisor, but I have to wait 3 months to get my raise. But I wont go there. I am planning to make a flourless chocolate cake with raspberry sauce for our coffee tasting.

I will also be in the store again for a supervisor/manager meeting on Friday. This is a long needed meeting and hopefully we will be able to address some of the issues that have been causing me and my collegues so much stress over the past few months. I have also raised the radar of our district manager, so he will be getting minutes from the meeting and will be checking with my manager to see how he will be dealing with these issues. So during this week I will be rehashing a lot of what I had been though and bringing up a lot of those feelings.

But Tuesday will be a nice time with friends as Sam and Peter will be hosting us along with Emma for my birthday. Yay! Wednesday night is Bible study, Thursday night is Open Fellowship at church. I would also like to get some things on ebay. I have some Buttermilk Barn( parties coming up that I need to prepare for. If it doesn't help us pay January's rent at least it will help pay for our tickets home.

So, it will still be a busy week. The good thing is, I will be back to work one week, then I will have another week's holiday. Woo-hoo!

Friday, November 03, 2006

On Holiday!

I have not had a holiday since we went home in April. Twice my holiday was denied. I have been overworked and underappreciated (or not-at-all-appreciated, by my boss at least). Now I am finally on holiday! Though I do not have the AHHH! feeling of going on holiday because I will still be in for a couple of hours on Wednesday and Friday. But I will not actually be working. Then I come back for a week and have another weeks holiday. Yippee! It is still a little bit of a bummer, though, because even though I have been working close to 40 hours, when I am on holiday I only get paid for my contracted hours (20) so it will actually be a cut in pay. But I guess it will be worth it to get a little of my sanity back. :)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Uncle Josh and Aunt Deliverance

**I typed this up yesterday, but blogger wouldn't let me post it**

We were just informed (one of the first, I believe, since it was too early to call anyone else in the States!) that Josh's sister Liz gave birth to their first baby, and the first grandchild of the family. A wee lass. Congratulations Liz and Aaron!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sixth honeymoon

We always try to go somewhere for our anniversary and call it our honeymoon. This year was our fifth wedding anniversary, so our sixth honeymoon. Since we are on a tight budget we just went somewhere nearby for one night. Our Am Ex forum Scotland travel expert suggested an area called Dunkeld/Birnam. We missed autumn back home and Josh was really wanting to get into the woods again, not an easy task in Scotland. Scotland had been deforested for agricultural purposes thousands of years ago. By the first World War, only 5 percent of Scotland was covered by trees BUT, Dunkeld actually has forests! And we were hoping to catch a little autumn color action, like this:

We got up at 5am for a 6:30 train. We missed it. And the next one was two hours later. Guess what you can do in city centre at that early hour? Walk. So we walked around until Starbucks opened at 7:30. We were early for the next train.

When we got off the train in Birnam we had to walk through a little wooded path to get to the town. I knew then that it would be lovely! We walked to our B&B and checked in: Birnam is quite small (under 300 I believe) but Dunkeld is much larger (over 600 I believe) so we headed over there to get some food. To get to Dunkeld we walked over the scenic River Tay.

We did a lot of walking through the town (or village) and the woods on the first day. The interest point of the town was ruined Dunkeld Cathedral: We were so nackered from all of our walking the first day that we didn't really attempt our ambitious desire to walk up the highest hill. It was pretty foggy during our entire trip anyways that we wouldn't have been able to see much. We had heard about Birnam Wood, made famous by Shakespeare's Macbeth: so we spent our final hours in the wood and on a trail along the River Tay.

It was short and sweet. We walked to much and after we were kicked out of the B&B we had to keep our backpacks on us, so we were ready to get home. Oh, and never take the Perth train to Edinburgh on a Sunday afternoon. Josh stood and I had to sit on the floor much of the way.

I have lots of pictures on flickr now (click here). Have a browse. (There is more than one page so be sure to flip through!)

Oh, and PLEASE leave your comments. Unfortunately I had to get rid of the tagboard and haven't been able to find a new one yet. We want to hear from you. You can leave comments on flickr, too!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Challenges Ahead

Thank you, everyone, for your support in so many ways. It has still been a slow process finding gainful employment, but I have another promising round of applications out again. Hopefully I'll have something by mid November, there have been some interesting positions available working with Edinburgh's homeless population. This will probably be my last round of attempts to find employment here, so if nothing materializes from it, some of you may get your wish to have us come home sooner rather than later! Yes, the sad reality is one can't be on holiday forever without a little $$, so we may be home in time for Christmas if I don't find a way to contribute to our household income!

Please keep Deliverance in your prayers as she has been pretty stressed about her job. Various aspects of the job are quite enjoyable, but there are significant problems with management that make it a challenging place to work. I imagine her problems will only be for another few weeks or so since either I will get a position and she can decide whether she wants to continue working there, or I won't get a position, so she can quit and we'll find something else to do back in the States. I think she is feeling more stress about it than I am, but hopefully we can both just adapt to changes and challenges as they come along. This has been an exciting time in our lives and as always, big transitions come with some measure of stress. So hopefully we can just "roll with the punches" and enjoy what this period in our lives has to offer.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Officially finished!

I am going to take the liberty to brag on my husband just now. He got his marks yesterday and he is going to graduate with distinction. This is the equivalent of graduating with honors. He did very well and got wonderful remarks on his dissertation from the markers.

"A thorough and penetrating study of a complex concept"
"A very, very high standard of work for this level, showing clear doctoral ability."
"An excellently creative piece of work."
"Showing real intellectual flair and insight."
I am sure Josh will be embarrassed that I posted these remarks, but he worked so hard and I am proud of him.
Thank you to everyone for your support during the past year. Please continue to pray for us as me move on to the next stage in our life.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It's days like this...

when I love my job.

I was training a new hire. Out of the blue she said, "You are a very good supervisor!" :) Later she went on about how nice I am and she wanted to ask to work with me more. Then she ran to the rota to see when she works with me again. She came back and said, "I don't work with you again this week!" Later I told her I was going on holiday soon and she frowned. Then she went on about how the time was going so slow when she was working with other people, but the time went by so fast when she was working with us (me and another barista). :) I told her to be careful what she says because she might decide she really doesn't like me after a couple of weeks. The other 'green bean' working with us tonght likes to work with me. A customer had a problem with his frappaccinos, so I remade them without a problem and gave him 2 coupons. My barista came up to me afterwards and sighed, "You have SO much patience!" It's just nice to be appreciated, even if I don't get it from the one I work under.

I was very proud of the girls working with me today. All of them are new. Just minutes before one of the girls was meant to be off we get a crowd of about 30 school kids all at once. I immediately fill the ice bin. So, they all order frapps, which are rather difficult to do in successive order, but we got a system and we managed. The above mentioned girl wasn't trained in anything yet, so she just kept asking me "What can I do?" I showed her how to make cream mix and she just kept making them one after another. I positioned myself of cold bar putting together the frappaccinos in the blender, after they were blended I passed them to the barista (who was supposed to be going home) and she dumped it in the cup, topped them with whip and passed them on to the customer. Of course, half of the kids did not pay attention when the drinks were called out and just took whatever they wanted. So we got kids coming back saying, "You didn't make me the right drink!!" Not only did we have to make 30 frapps, but we had to make half of them over again!! AARGH! (side note, when you get a drink from Starbucks, make sure it is YOUR drink!) But amidst all the caos, they did great and we were never backed up.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Happy Birthday to Josh!!!

Happy birthday, Josh!
We had a few friends over tonight to celebrate Josh's birthday. Josh didn't know about it until today, and even then he only thought I invited 2 people. I'm so sneaky. He thought I was really overdoing it on the food for just 4 people! We ended up having a cozy group of about 8 people from church and Bible study (so nice to have Emma back!). It really is nice to relax with a group of friends. And it is VERY nice to finally have the space to do it!
Josh has been such a tremendous help lately since work has been rough for me. He has been doing the dishes every day, and the laundry and hoovering. He is a regular house husband! I just can't manage to get him to do the cooking though. If only we had a grill. I know I could get him to fix dinner once or twice a week. :) Thank you for all of your help, Sweetie!
Well, the party's over and I've got to get up at 5:30 tomorrow...

Saturday, October 07, 2006


I actually have 4 days off in a row for once and I am sick! Bummer.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Simple things

We went to a DIY store the other day. They have a garden center like Lowe's or Home Depot. Josh spends what seems like forever looking at tools and things that he has to think up excuses to get, so I spend my time in the garden center. It was to therapeudic! I walked out there and it was sunny, the birds were chirping, it was peaceful and relaxing with their displays of waterfalls, and it smelled so nice. I could have lived out there! Except when it started raining. Yes, the sun was quickly dispelled. But it really was therapeudic to be out there. I was greatful for that.

So now we have a crazy little succulent for our desk next to the computer, a lavender, and a gardenia that is about to bloom about 10 flowers!

Monday, October 02, 2006

If 'community' cannot be online, then why do I feel so gutted?

I have been told that it is not possible for community to exist online. I would agree that it may not be ideal, as one cannot see, touch, and talk directly to the othe members of the community. It may be easier for misunderstanings to occur. But I also believe that it may be easier for people to get 'real' with one another.

Here are some definitions of community from

a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists

A group of people having common interests

Sharing, participation, and fellowship.

Many of you know that I belong to an online community called American Expats inthe UK. It is a forum where people with a common interest join together daily to share struggles and joys. Since I joined the group I have been supported in the whole process of moving to the UK. I was warned that I would not find DILL PICKLES here! I was told I might want to bring my US measuring cups and to be sure that I get a stamp from customs when we arrive (good thing because we had to ask for it). After arriving I learned where I could find cornmeal and black beans. I could rant about the crazy foot traffic and they could join in with me. When we were looking for a flat I could post daily on the progress (and if I didn't, I was asked!) and rant about how difficult it was. Everyone was so supportive. They assisted in our decision on a broadband provider. And now with work being an issue, I can post long rants about that and receive comments like "how about selling your crafts?" because they just know me that well. Some have guided me in how I should handle certain things. People post pictures of their kids and we watch them grow up. New moms post about the woes of midnight feedings and seek advice on other parenting issues. Anytime I have a question I first think to post it on "MY" forum because I know somebody there will know.

Now I feel like my community is falling apart. There has been a contraversy and many of our long time members, big time posters have left. I just feel so gutted. I don't want to leave because I feel like I have a history there. I don't want to get wrapped up in the contraversy because it is above my head (having to do with the moderators and such).

So, why did I tear up at the first announcement of someone leaving, and why does my stomach drop at every other good-bye I see? I am really wrapped up in these people's lives and I feel close to them. I have recieved so much support and I am fearing that it will all be gone. This IS my community at this stage in my life. I have no other community. I have a couple of friends who have been an amazing support to me, but it's not the community where you can allow yourself to be weak and vulnerable, even when your friend feels weak and vulnerable, too, because you know there will be others stronger who can support you.

I know some of you who have online relationships will agree, and those who don't will disagree. But believe me when I tell you this: there has always been someone there for me in the past two years of this journey we are taking. I am very, very sad to see some of them go.

Friday, September 29, 2006

New Favorite Song...

Or maybe just one line...

Je ne veux pas travailler

It's a song that's played at work. Our French barista translated it for me. Who knows what it means? I know Steph does.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Bit Frayed...

I haven't been spending as much time online lately. Work has been very stressful. It doesn't seem to be letting up. Please pray about that. I am feeling a bit frayed at the edges. Please pray for the job search for Josh, as well. Thanks.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

You know you've been living in Scotland when...

1. You think it's a lovely day because it's not raining.
2. You have a cemetary of inside-out brollies.
3. A baked potato sounds like a good meal.
4. You THOUGHT you knew how to dress in layers, but now you REALLY know how.
5. You have experienced four seasons in one day.
6. You don't even notice the piper down the street anymore.
7. You giggle when an American says, "pants."
8. 75 degrees feels like a heatwave.
9. You wont even think of having tea without milk.
10. You no longer step out of the way of someone on the sidewalk. It's every man for himself!
11. You commonly use words like wee, bletherin, knackered.
12. You're looked at like you are an alien when you say you haven't got a mobile number.
13. You wonder how you ever got by without a hot water bottle.
14. You wonder how you ever managed to fill an American sized fridge.
15. Taxes takes on a whole new meaning: income tax, national insurance tax, road tax, council tax, TV license, VAT tax, a (possible) new dining out tax??
16. You can interpret a wee bit of Scots: "The war ance a man an a wife that didna hae ony bairns sae lang as thay wis rich, but whan thay becam puir, thay haed a wee laddie." Brither's Grimm

Monday, September 11, 2006

Do you remember?

When I was little I would hear the adults talk about how well they remembered where they were, what they were doing when they heard about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Now I know the feeling. My generation can say the same thing about the 9/11 attacks. It has been five years and I still get the same gut-wrentching feeling I had that day.

It was one month before our wedding. I was living with Grace and Josh had recently moved into what would be our first apartment together. Josh picked me up and we headed downtown for work. Neither one of us watched TV or listened to the radio, so we had no idea what was going on at that time in New York.

We walked into our office like a normal work day and prepared ourselves for a day of service. As I was at my desk, my co-worker, whose desk was butted up to the front of mine said, "Haven't you heard? A plane crashed into the World Trade Center in New York." I remember giving and astonished laugh and thinking, "What a freak accident!" I was thinking it was a little crop plane whose pilot had lost his way or something. But my co-worker was very sombre. A little later I heard the secretary on the phone saying, "Are they evacuating the Sears Tower?" This is when I realized something was terribly wrong. I headed to the back of the office, the kitchen area. I then noticed that the office was eerily quiet because everyone was back here, glued to a TV they brought out from another room. Here I saw for the first time the smoke billowing out of the first building. I don't think the second one had been hit yet. My heart stopped. I was sad for the people in the upper levels of the building, but I figured most of the other people would be able to evacuate the building.

The sequence of the next events was a blur. The second building was hit. The first building fell. There were rumors of other planes in other cities (was Chicago a target?). The second building fell. The Pentagon was hit. Another plane crashed (shouldn't we all go home?). The other building collapsed. I don't remember in what order this all happened. There were pictures of people covered in ash running frantically from the buildings. It looked like they were filming in black and white. The crashes, the collapses were replayed over and over again. We repeatedly saw the reaction of the newscaster standing with the buildings in the background as the second building was hit. One of the ladies in the office was frantic and could not stop shouting exclamations. I was glued to the TV.

I had the thought that my parents would be trying to contact me. I returned to my desk and the eerie quite. There was a voicemail from my mom. She was concerned that Josh would be drafted to war. This was the very first time it occured to me that this would be an attack from another country. I started to tear up. I selfishly thought that we would never be able to have our wedding.

I began talking with co-workers. We were wondering, hoping that we would get sent home. Because of safety. Because we needed comfort. Because we all wanted to be with our families.

No, the day would go on. There was a rumor that a plane might be headed for the Sears Tower. Dang, we had to drive right by it! As we drove out of the downtown area and headed to the south-side we watched the tallest building in Chicago. Others were already watching it. Camera crews were stationed at bridges with their cameras poised. I remember breathing a sigh of relief as we headed south and away from the skyscrapers, and dreading coming back. I wondered if we would even see the tall tower on our way back.

At our site in Englewood our work was not so much of passing out fare cards, clothing vouchers, and referrals for mental health. Today our clients needed someone to talk to. They were scared, angry. So were we. I don't know how we did it, but we managed to bring a little bit of comfort to Holy Angels Church.

We did not know anyone personally in the World Trade Center, but they say that everyone 'knew someone who knew someone' and we did. We were also effected simply by living in Chicago and working downtown. It brought fear that other large cities, tall buildings would be attacked. Would there be another attack the next day during rush hour in another large city? Then next month at the same time?

We got married one month and two days after the attacks. We heard word from many who were invited that they were afraid to come into the city. We are so greatful for those who did come to witness our vows and to celebrate with us. It was a joyful occassion in the wake of a very frightening event.

While we were on our honeymoon we decided to shield ourselves from the outside world during this tender and special part of our lives. Near the end of our retreat we switched the TV on to hear the word ANTHRAX plastered over all of the stations. I had no idea what anthrax was. We watched the news for 10 minutes and switched the TV off to enjoy the rest of our sheltered time together before returning to the real world.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Birthday and anniversary

Today is my brother's birthday. Happy birthday, Stevie!

It is also our one year anniversary of arriving in the UK. It doesn't seem that long ago, yet some parts really seemed to drag on. It has been a good year and we feel at home here. We still miss our friends, though, and we would love to hear from you!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Prayers/thoughts, please

Josh has an interview on Tuesday for what looks like would be a very good job. It is similar to what he did in Chicago but it also looks like it would be somewhat supervisory. The office is close to home, as well. He is required to do a 10 minute presentation on his 6-month stratigic plan, which is intimidating as he does not know a lot about the program or social work in the UK.

Portrait Gallery

We went to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery a couple of weeks ago. One of the vestibules was covered in murals and elaborate decorations.

Friday, September 08, 2006

All moved in and unpacked

I don't remember what I said in the last post and I am too lazy to pull up another browser to look at it, so sorry if I repeat myself.

We are really enjoying our new flat. It is just a few minutes to work in one direction, and about 8 minutes to the grocery store in the other direction. The grocery store is large, too, so better selection. And I don't have to go uphill to either!!! In fact, I do what I can to avoid every going up the Mound again! :) There is a library just around the corner, and fantastic chippy and cafe down the street. We are close to quite a few good charity shops, the Botanics, the River Leith Walk, and a big park. Our road is a dead end, so very quiet, except for the neighbor who likes to blast his music, such as now.

About the flat itself. It is very sunny. We have a window and french doors that open to the outdoors in the living room and a big window in the kitchen, all of these facing south, and two big windows in our bedroom and a big windown in the spare bedroom, these facing north. So we are covered in winter when the sun is largely in the south, and summer when the sun is largely in the north. YEAH! We have more closets than we have ever had which we have already filled up because, unfortunately, we do not have under-the-bed storage, which I have always capitalized on. Our bedroom is good-sized, with a nice large desk. Josh is glad that I no longer have excuse to us the kitchen table as a desk. We have a tub again!! I have used it twice already, but I have to plan because I have to turn on the immersion heater about an hour before hand if I want hot water. The kitchen is teeny-tiny, which you who know me will know that is a difficult thing for me to cope with. But I am coping. We have moved some things around and made some IKEA purchases to deal with the small space. We have made a closet in the 'dining' area into a pantry with shelves we picked up at IKEA. Yeah! I have a pantry! We also bought a large chopping block to put over the hob (stove) when I am not cooking for extra counter space. Oh, and the cooker is so much better than our last one! Rather than needing to cook things twice and long and still having the risk of being undercooked, but now run the risk of burning things. It is still electric, but it has a fan in it to circulate the air. And the hob is gas. I am so happy to finally have a gas hob! All such trivial things, but nice to have. There is also a washing machine in the kitchen. This is where it is commonly put in the UK. I am happy to have it there. I thought it was hard having to go down one flight of stairs in Chicago to do the laundry, but in our last flat I had to take an elevator and 4 flights of stairs. Now I will be complaining about having to drag the laundry from our bedroom to the kitchen. :) No drier, though, so we have to hang our laundry in the spare room. If I do it early enough I can hang it in the sun in the front room (if the sun is out). It gets quite warm in there. Let's see, what else. Oh yes, there is a cat in our building, so on occassion I can pet him as I leave/enter.

Well, I wont bore you any longer. But I do want to say thank you to Sam and Peter for helping us move. They came after work one day and helped us with a couple of runs, then Sam used a holiday the next day to help us move the rest of our things. Thank you so much for the help! You can call on us when you move. Maybe you'll move near a great cafe, too! :)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

We're back!!

We got a nice little parcel from Orange today. We decided to splurge on broadband. After having it in our previous accommodation we were spoiled. It really wasn't much more than dial-up, anyways, and we can call the States for cheaper.

So, just letting you know that we are back online now. I have some catching up to do. I will fill you in a little more on the move, later.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Moving week...

We are moving this week. In fact, we had our first night's stay in our new flat. I am only 5 minutes' walk from work!! YAH! I had to work shortly after we took possession of the flat, so I didn't get to have time to move things around. When I got home from work, Josh had moved things around very nicely. He had classical music playing for me and was out at the grocery store picking up some things to get us by. After I showered, Josh went down to the local chippy (just around the corner!) to bring back some dinner. He had a nice surprise for me for dessert. Ben and Jerry's!! It's so nice to have a freezer now. :)

Well, as we are busy packing and moving (and me working!), we will not have much internet access for the next week. We are already in the process of having internet set up at our new flat, so it SHOULD be on by the 4th. We would still love to hear from you! Drop us a line.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The best medicine

I tried to send this to some of you awhile back, but for some reason you all couldn't see it. I hope it works this time. Turn up your volume!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

And now, the tough part of my job...

We had a no-show today. One of the girls gave her notice and just decided not to show up. After calling all the stores in Edinburgh to find that every other store is short-staffed as well, I had to stay to cover. I had the priviledge of working 11 hours today. At least we had a trainee who could close with my manager, so he let me go home before closing.

People, if you work in a team setting and you don't like your job or your boss, don't do things that will shaft the rest of the team just because you are trying to "get back" at the boss or the company. Come on! Something like this has happened a couple of times recently and it really chaps my hide because the burden gets placed on innocent people.

Thanks for letting me vent.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Positive Feedback

We have had a pretty busy week at work. I have found it challenging, yet thrilling trying to balance my supervisory duties with serving customers and making sure everything gets done in my limited amount of time. I have enjoyed it and the days just fly by, though I have not been able to get any of the peripheral things done that I have been wanting to do.

I received a nice compliment from one of my baristas today. After a day of mad rushes she said, "You're doing a good job." I said, "Well, thank you! You, too!" (moral at our store is really low and I want to try to saturate people with encouragement). She laughed and said how she meant that I was doing good with my work as a supervisor, though I have only been in this roll for a week. That I was organised and considerate of the others (probably making sure they get their breaks in a timely manor, pitching in as much as I can, communicating, etc). That she enjoyed working with me. It really made my day! I had hoped to encourage the others in their good work and congratulate them on pulling through a busy or tough time. I hadn't really expected that on the other end. It was nice. :)

A Famous Person in Our Store

None of us knew it at the time, but a UK comedian was in our store today. There was no fuss for him. I served him at the till. He was on his mobile. He was rather abrupt and aloof. When he left some girls came in all in a fluster saying, "We saw him!" Who? One of our old supervisors said he comes in our store every year during festival and is rather rude. Oh, I guess I should tell you who he is. His name is Jimmy Carr. Supposedly we get a stream of famous people during festival, but I wouldn't even know them anyways.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I found this on Mt. Dew Musings

You Belong in Rome

You're a big city girl with a small town heartWhich is why you're attracted to the romance of RomeStrolling down picture perfect streets, cappuccino in handAnd gorgeous Italian men - could life get any better?
What City Do You Belong In?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Congratulations, Josh!

Josh turned in his dissertation today. Woo-hoo!! Yeah, Josh!

Sunday, August 20, 2006


I am in a really stressful situation at work just now. It doesn't help that we are moving, too. Please pray. Pray for Josh's job hunt as well.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Praise God!

After months of searches and disappointments, we finally have a flat! The landlords are Christians. They bought the flat for their son when he was studying at New College and have always let it to students of New College. It is in a very nice neighborhood, but they are keeping the rent lower for the students. I will be close to my work and a grocery store (a large one!), 2 things I was really hoping for. It is still close to city centre (though up a series of steep inclines) incase Josh works there or if we should need to go to any of the shops there for any reason. We are very happy to be near the River Leith Walk and The Botanic Gardens.

Big disappointment about the flat: the kitchen is smaller than what we have now. For any of you that saw our kitchen, that might sound surprising! We only have about 3 feet of countertop, 2 cabinets on the wall, one row of 4 drawers, and 2 or 3 cupboards under the counter, and NO MIXER TAPS!! It is going to be very challenging doing dishes (my little kitchen in Chicago is sounding like a dream!). The good thing is that there is more space to work with throughout the flat. I am already planning some things to move around and create more storage for the kitchen and possibly more counterspace. You who know me know that I am the queen of small spaces and this place has more storage than we have ever had (it is a 2 bedroom!), so I can definately work with it.

Please pray for Josh as he begins looking for a job now. It could be tricky securing something before he actually has the extention for his visa, but maybe someone would be willing to hire him knowing that it is very likely he would be approved.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bomb plot

Is this news not as big in the States as it is here?

I can't imagine what it must be like to be flying (or trying to) right now.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mo' free tickets!

Just got some free tickets to see Three Mo' Tenors on Sunday! Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

You know you are living in 2006 when...

1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.
2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.
3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3.
4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.
5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.
6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your mobile phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.
7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.
8. Leaving the house without your mobile phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.
10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your coffee.
11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )
12. You're reading this and nodding and laughing.
13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.
14. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.
15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn't a #9 on this list AND NOW U R LAUGHING at yourself.

Just had to share. Someone just posted this on my forum. I hope it gave you a laugh. :)

Flat update

Well, we are waiting. I got a call this morning saying that one flat had already been taken *sigh* and that they couldn't get hold of the tenents in another flat to get permission to view it. I was say that the one was not available because it looked fantastic for a reasonable price. But that's ok because it still would have been an uphill walk from work (though not nearly as bad as now).

So, we saw two. One was at the top of our price range and, of course, that is the one we loved. It is nicer than anything we have ever had and had more storage than I would know what to do with. A BIG pantry, a good sized freezer (Costco, here I come!), a dishwasher (!!!!). Unfortunately, we do not meet with their income requirements as Josh is not employed full-time right now. It is a difficult time now as we are in transition and do not look good on paper. It is even more frustrating that we had excellent credit in the States, but none of that matters.

We should hear from them soon.

Is it tea weather already??

Well, there is no tea weather here, but I definately go through much more of it when it is cold. It is a particularly blustery day today and the temps have dropped since our 'heat wave' a week or two back. The wind just cuts through this building and despite my sweater and slippers, I am chilled. What month is this again?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Pray hard!

Tomorrow we are looking at 4 flats through the same agency. We have high hopes that one of these will work! Unfortunately, 2 of them aren't available until 2 weeks after our lease ends here. We are doing everything we can to avoid that situation.

There has been a lot of frustration and let down in this flat hunt. Good flats get snatched up practically as soon as they are listed. We are at a disadvantage because we do not have a mobile to phone the agency's office to let them know we want the flat and we don't have a car to zip down to the agent if they take the first person with a deposit. The flat we are looking at tomorrow will go through an application process. Hopefully they will look past our disadvantage of not having much credit history here (though we have fantastic credit in the States, BIG frustration here!) and not yet having a full-time steady income (though our income would be enough to cover rent).

Monday, August 07, 2006

The customer is NOT always right...

Catriona at the till, me at bar...

Cat is dealing with customer #1 and her many requests. Customer #1 has 3 roudy kids in the store. One is literally screaming at the top of her lungs. There is a small line forming. Cat goes to get a pastry for cust #1 and while she is doing that she takes panini from cust #2 (a regular) and pops it on the grill. Cust #1 starts yelling at Cat saying that she was there first and she should be serving her first. Cat tries to reason with cust #1 (this is where I start to hear what is going on). Cust #1 continues to berate Cat saying she is taking too long and her kids are complaining (kid has been screaming at the top of her lungs since they walked in and mum has not even tried to quiet her). I am standing there dumbfounded and customer keeps looking angrily at me. Customer #2 has finally had enough and starts yelling at #1 and they go at it. Catriona is still nice as ever to customer, but since she is frazzled she starts making some mistakes, making customer angrier (I have been there many a times).

So I jump on till so Cat can take a breather. Instead she goes upstairs to bus. She says to irate customer that she hopes she is enjoying her time here. Customer says, "You completely ruined my day! I should not have even come here!"

Later, as customer is leaving, Cat helps her with her pram. Cust says sweetly, "I feel so much better after having my coffee."

I am so glad customer #2 jumped in to stand up for Cat. I was totally dumbfounded and did not know what to say. I feel utterly wretched for not backing Cat up, and I apologized to her for it. At least after thinking through it time and again I now know what I would do if this were to happen again, and it probably would not make the customer happy. There is no reason to abuse our staff.

Josh explained it well to me. He said that we are always in a service mode and we are trained to make the customers happy, that it takes us back when we start getting abused by a customer and we may not know how to handle it.

What I want to know is, WHERE DOES THIS LADY THINK SHE IS LIVING?!?! Does she get stellar service everywhere she goes? I would bet a large sum that she is not. The UK is notorious for poor customer service. And for her to come into Starbucks, where we do strive to provide good service, and to be such a witch just really ruffles my feathers!

Ok, another customer antecdote for today. I am at the till and a customer brings up a bottled water. I smile and say, "Just that for you?" Nothing wrong with saying that. We do it all the time. Just making sure the customer doesn't have anything else in mind that they want. The customer looked up at me in shock and horror and says "Yes!" As if I had just asked her if she was sure she was a female. Cat said she had to move so she didn't laugh in front of the customer. :)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Fringe Fest

About the Fringe:

"The Fringe story began in 1947, when the Edinburgh International Festival was launched. It was seen as a post-war initiative to re-unite Europe through culture, and was so successful that it inspired more performers than there was room for. Well aware that there would be a good crowd and focused press interest, six Scottish companies and two English decided to turn up uninvited and fend for themselves.We are now approaching the 60th Fringe and it's still young! It lives in the present, shifting and changing from year to year to accommodate all of the people who want to attend. Over the years, as the Fringe Organisation got bigger so did the programme. Companies began multiplying as soon as the Fringe got its own phone, and by the time the computers were installed over 30 years later, hundreds were coming."
I guess Fringe officially started today, but I could see the beginnings of it from Thursday. I got out today to take some snaps. I basically rushed up and down the Mile snapping away, so I didn't take much time to focus and frame. You photographers will hate me for missing such a great opportunity. I felt bad that I didn't have money for the people I was snapping shots of, but I will get back out there later. I am posting more pictures on flickr just now, so take a look.

Salsa Celtica!!

As I mentioned earlier, I got free tickets for Josh and I to see Salsa Celtica during the Jazz Festival. This group started playing in the pubs of Edinburgh and Glasgow. As you probably guessed, their music is an infusion of salsa and celtic music. Not a likely mix, but it sounds great! Here is the description of them from the festival magazine:
" a mix between a late night club in Havana and a traditional Saturday night Scottish village hall, Salsa Celtica's unique cocktail of steamy Cuban ceilidh is driven by the irresistible rhythm to get audiences on to the dance floor...infectious, energetic, exhuberant music- 'rhythms bordering on religious frenzy' (The List)."
I really enjoyed myself, but Josh didn't really get into the music. I thought it was fun and energetic, just as described. I wished so much that I knew salsa. Though they could have turned the sound down a notch. I am still recovering! I guess I'm just old. :)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I passed!

I am now a supervisor! Though now I have 3 months 'practise' before I can get my raise. I made brownies for my coffee tasting, though I knew my DM would complain about them being fattening. It was easy and all I had time for.

Phew! I'm glad that's over with. I have been working so hard to get all of my books done. Yesterday I stayed late and felt like my brain was going to ooze out all over the floor from overload. I was feeling stressed with all of this and looking for a flat and working more. Tomorrow I am having the girls from work over, so I am preparing for that. One of the girls is wheat-free, so I have to see if I can make wheat-free cinnamon rolls. Should be fun. I wouldn't mind a little less wheat in my diet.

Flat hunting...ARRRRGH!!!

Stress, stress, stress. We saw a gorgeous flat yesterday but it slipped through our fingers. The way to snatch the flat up was to race to the agency's office clear on the other side of town. Well, we were viewing the flat with several others and they had cars and mobiles. I sent Josh down on the bus, but it was depressing knowing he probably wouldn't make it in time. Since then we have seen flats that cost more and get you less. Very depressing. We have an agent now who is calling us when there is a flat available in our price range and area, but I feel really bad when he comes out to show us a flat and we don't want it. Especially since we told him we are having a hard time finding something. I guess we are just being picky. But it is not just us. Everyone says it is highly competative. Flats get snatched up before we even get a chance to view them. We passed one up today that was in the perfect location: next to the river, close to work. But we passed it up because it just didn't 'feel' right. Part of it is that it cost more than the fabulous new flat we saw yesterday. Can you imagine paying nearly $1400/mo including utilities and tax for about 500 sq ft?? That is what we are looking at? Now you are going to ask "Why on earth do you insist on living THERE!?" Well, the price actually isn't so bad in pounds, though it is still a bit much for us. I just like to say that for shock value. :)

A friend on my forum felt bad about our disadvantages while looking for a flat and she is going to give me a mobile! I am so excited! This should make it a bit easier to make calls and try to snag something up.

Well, festival is kicking in. The tourist are rolling in and I could hear the tattoo tonight. At least I think it was the tattoo, but I thought is started tomorrow. It is going to be madness around here for the next month.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Loch Lomond

A couple of weeks ago one of Josh's fellow MTh mates, Susan, took us to Loch Lomond. It was a nice retreat from the city. The drive alone was lovely, aside from the overly fertalised fields we passed. I promise you, in all my years driving through fields I had never smelled anything quite so strong! Anyways, it was a lovely day trip and there are more pictures on flickr.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Americans cheating?!?

I was reading on a website dedicated to Starbucks baristas about customers who try to cheat the system. They order drinks in a way that makes it cheaper, such as a hot chocolate with a shot of espresso (really a mocha) or an espresso in a venti cup with extra, extra foam (really a venti extra dry cappaccino). Most of the people on this website are in America. I posted that we have never had this kind of problem. The VERY day after I posted this, on two separate occassions, Americans came in and did this. One ordered an espresso in a grande cup and asked for extra foam, another asked for a tall drink in a grande cup and added extra milk from the bar.

I definately agree that Starbucks is expensive, but if you insist on these drinks every day, you have to pay the price. And do they really think they are pulling the wool over our eyes?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I like it!

Well, I have 'sort of' run two shifts this week. I am scheduled with another supervisor because I am still training, but I am in charge of the shift (I carry the keys, I am the only one with access to the safe, I am in charge of breaks). Today Narda said, "I forgot what it was like to be a barista. It is so boring!"

Anyways, I have not run into anything complicated yet and I am enjoying it. The time seems to go by quicker because there is more to do. In fact, there is no longer enough time in the day to get everything done that I wanted to do!

I am supposed to get 'signed off' next Wednesday. Then I will be running shifts all by myself!

Monday, July 24, 2006

A perk

Starbucks is hosting the Edinburgh Jazz Festival. They had a jazz night for us tonight and gave us free tickets for some of the concerts. So, Josh and I get to see Salsa Celtica in a couple of weeks! It is a standing concert, so we are gonna have to learn salsa real quick!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Streets of Edinburgh

I just found this cool site. This guy is taking pictures of the streets of Edinburgh. I came across it when I was looking for flats. This will be a good tool to help me see what a neighborhood is like.

Some streets you can look at:

Milne's Court
Baker's Place (where I work)
Northwest Circus (the street right before I get to work)
Mound Pl. (Josh's university)
George IV Bridge (where we go to church and the way I go to get groceries- the church is covered with scaffolding)
Chambers St. (on my way to get groceries)
Victoria Terrace (on my way back with groceries - notice a pattern?)
Fleshmarket Close (just an example of the closes so common on the Royal Mile - sort of like where we live, there is a sort of passageway between some of the buildings. Sometimes it opens up to a courtyard or quad, sometimes it just goes through with doors to flats or shops in the passageway.)

I could list tons more but I am sure you are already bored.

Maybe now I can mention roads in this blog and you can look them up! :)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


That is how frustrating is said. Emphasize the second syllable and take out the 'g' and the second 't'.

Anyways, I do enjoy looking for a flat...for a time. I like to see inside other places. I like to look at the pictures on the internet and get all excited when I see a big kitchen (big meaning a few feet of counterspace, a decent sized fridge/freezer, and ample storage?. After actually seeing some of these places in person it gets frustrating. It is rather sickening to see what your money gets you. I think our price range is also just the right place where everyone else is scrambling to get as well, so by the time I say we would like to view a place it is already taken. Well, I will keep up the search. Our lease ends 6 weeks from Saturday.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I didn't get to finish my original post, so go look at the next post, first.

More downhill to work. Almost there!


I like this neighborhood. We hope to live somewhere nearby very soon.

Walk with me...

A couple of weeks ago I was ready for work a little early so I took my camera with me to snap some early morning shots. I didn't capture anything spectacular, but I thought it might be fun to let you see what I see on my way to work:

This is what I see heading down the mound. The imposing silhouette is the Scott monument.
Next I round the corner to a nice view of the castle.
Prince's Street to the left.....and to the right.
Then I climb a wee hill and find a stunning view of the Firth of Forth and the hills across the way.
A cute restaurant.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Teach us to count the days

Everyday is a journal page
Every man holds a quill and ink
And there's plenty of room for writing in
All we do and believe and think
So will you compose a curse
Or will today bring the blessings
Fill the page with a rhyming verse
Or some random sketching
Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
Cuz somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much
Life means so much
Life means so much
Everyday is a bank account
Time is our currency
So no one's rich, nobody's poor
We get 24 hours each
So how are you gonna spend?
Will you invest or squander?
Try to get ahead
Or help someone who's under?
Teach us to count the days...
Has anybody lived who knew the value of a life
And don't you think giving is all
What prove the worth of yours and mine
Teach us to count the days...
Every day is a gift you've been given
Make the most of the time, every minute you're livin'
Chris Rice

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Quote of the day

"When we think of the wisdom of the world, we think of someone really smart, like Gandalf." Andy in a Bible study comprised of MTh students, studying James 3.

I would walk 500 miles...

Well, not quite that much, but it feels like it.

I reckoned that last week I walked over 42 miles. That not including the hours I am on my feet at work and small walks here and there. That comes to an average of 6 miles a day! Of course, this was not an average week. I had a lot going on, but one does tend to walk a LOT in this city and don't even realize it (as Narda and I were recently discussing). And, wherever you go, you can count on going uphill.

To say the least, I am exhausted this week! I am off today and tomorrow and I desparately want to stay inside and nurse my sore legs and feet. I already had to drag myself out to get some groceries and I am just about to head back out to see an estate agent (ah, the joys of flat hunting!).

Dear corn

I just got back from the grocery store. I was excited to actually see corn! Maybe I just haven't been looking too hard, but I haven't seen corn here until today. It was 2 ears packaged together. I was too excited to look at the price. I just saw that it was 50p off. When I took it out of the bag at home I saw that it was £1.49. That is nearly $3 for 2 ear of corn! That corn is very dear. I miss the 10 for $1 sales at Dominicks.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A staff night out

One of our customers recently completed a novel in our store and gave us a very generous tip for a staff night out. So, last night we went to Pizza Express!

Click here to see the rest of the pictures on flickr.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Repressed feelings: bullying in the workplace

This is me being vulnerable, so I hope it is helpful for someone.
I had a supervisor training this past Saturday. The first thing we spoke about, and the longest time was spent on harrassment. And of this, the majority of the time was spent on bullying. Gosh, I wish I had this term a few years ago.
Bullying is something that happens often in the workplace and it can often go overlooked. We began our discussion with the question, "What should you do if someone tells you they are being bullied?" One of my fellow supervisors-in-training jumped in and said, "Talk to them. Get their story. Find out if it is true or not. Blah blah blah." I was screaming inside 'NO NO NO!' Our facilitator said, "I want to go back to when you said, 'Find out if it is true or not.' That is not for you to determine..." YES YES YES! You MUST validate their feelings. Feelings are real and they cannot be denied. We were told over and over, if someone is doing something that makes someone feel offended, hurt, upset, etc, that person needs to stop doing what they are doing to the offended.
So, about the repressed feelings, I realized that I had some scars. During this discussion I felt myself withdraw. I could hardly speak. My pulse was racing and my heart was pounding hard. I wanted to cry. I had been through all this and I felt like there was no justice made.
A few years ago I was having a very difficult time with a boss which began nearly when he became my boss. It began so subtly and progressed so slowly that I did not even recognize it until 2 years later during a company given training on (ironically) harrassment. Harrassment was the only term given, but it included things like belittling, extra workload, singling out. By this time I was depressed, I dreaded going to work, I couldn't enjoy the things I once enjoyed. I wondered if I should take action. I union advised me to. I drew up every incident that I could think of (but how do you put into words every little look, jab, body language that happened over 2 years?). They said there would be an investigation. There was a meeting with 4 administrators and little ol' me and my union rep. I was attacked from all sides, bullied in my own meeting! Though I had what I wanted to say written down, I could hardly express myself. I tried to keep composure, but I was a wreck.
Oh, did I mention that this was a HUMANITARIAN agency??
I found out that there really was no investigation, other than the incidents which I had turned in to the union (I was not told that this would be the basis of the investigation. This was only a rough draft.) I asked, "What about Josh? What about the other team members?" I was told that Josh could not be interviewed because he was my husband. What!!!! For the last 2 1/2 years it was pounded into my head that he was not my husband on the job, he was my co-worker!! And the other team members were not interviewed because I did not name anyone as a witness because much of what happened was in private and I couldn't say if anyone overheard anything. Tell me, would this stand up in a court of law? I was told that the harrassment charge was unfounded and, oh, yes, could you sign this paper saying you agree with the outcome?
No, thank you.
After this was my annual review, which he did not have the guts to give to me himself. My first review with him was glowing, this one gutted me. Hmm, do I smell retaliation?
Josh recognizes that there was justice. Almost immediatly he was pulled from our program and put in charge of another. I could not work there any longer though. My spirit had been quenched. I was very, very sad to leave my clients, but I could not work for this agency any more.
They asked me in the meeting what I wanted to see happen. I said I did not want the guy to lose his job. I just wanted him to stop doing what he was doing and maybe go to some anger management or leadership classes. This was just laughed at and I was told our managers recieve good training from the agency.
The only term I had at the time was harrassment. So people automatically think it is sexual. When it is not, they think, what's your problem?
Here are two good definitions I found for bullying:
"Persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behaviour, abuse of power or unfair penal sanctions which makes the recipient feel upset, threatened, humiliated or vulnerable, which undermines their self-confidence and which may cause them to suffer stress"
MSF Union, 1994
"Bullying is a compulsive need to displace aggression and is achieved by the expression of inadequacy (social, personal, interpersonal, behavioural, professional) by projection of that inadequacy onto others through control and subjugation (criticism, exclusion, isolation etc). Bullying is sustained by abdication of responsibility (denial, counter-accusation, pretence of victimhood) and perpetuated by a climate of fear, ignorance, indifference, silence, denial, disbelief, deception, evasion of accountability, tolerance and reward (eg promotion) for the bully."
Tim Field, 1999
Here is some good information on where bullying happens, how to recognise a bully, and what it does to your health. Click around on the other links and find other information on bullying.
If you are or will ever be in a leadership position, take this to heart. Learn how to recognise a bully. You can do something about it. It is not always the person in authority who is the bully. It happens a lot between staff members. Bullying does have lasting effects.
More information from bullyonline:
People who are bullied find that they are:
*forever subject to nit-picking and trivial fault-finding (the triviality is the giveaway)
*isolated and excluded from what's happening (this makes people more vulnerable and easier to control and subjugate)
*singled out and treated differently (for example everyone else can have long lunch breaks but if they are one minute late it's a disciplinary offence)
*belittled, degraded, demeaned, ridiculed, patronised, subject to disparaging remarks
*set unrealistic goals and deadlines which are unachievable or which are changed without notice or reason or whenever they get near achieving them
*denied information or knowledge necessary for undertaking work and achieving objectives
* either overloaded with work (this keeps people busy [with no time to tackle bullying] and makes it harder to achieve targets) or have all their work taken away (which is sometimes replaced with inappropriate menial jobs, eg photocopying, filing, making coffee)
*find requests for leave have unacceptable and unnecessary conditions attached, sometimes overturning previous approval. especially if the person has taken action to address bullying in the meantime
Why do people bully?
The purpose of bullying is to hide inadequacy. Bullying has nothing to do with managing etc; good managers manage, bad managers bully. Management is managing; bullying is not managing. Therefore, anyone who chooses to bully is admitting their inadequacy, and the extent to which a person bullies is a measure of their inadequacy. Bullies project their inadequacy on to others:
a) to avoid facing up to their inadequacy and doing something about it;
b) to avoid accepting responsibility for their behaviour and the effect it has on others, and,
c) to reduce their fear of being seen for what they are, namely a weak, inadequate and often incompetent individuals, and,d) to divert attention away from their inadequacy - in an insecure or badly-managed workplace, this is how inadequate, incompetent and aggressive employees keep their jobs.
You know what? I found it humorous that so much attention was given to this subject during my training for a little supervisor position at Starbucks, yet this supposedly humanitarian agency just brushed it under the carpet, denying my feelings.

Happy 4th, yall!

Sam and Peter were so kind to host our '4th' celebration (on the 2nd) at their place and we were so happy to have Emma with us as well. We served them up American style: so much food you don't know what to do with it. We had hot dogs from Costco (jumbo, American recipe) and burgers. For sides we had taco salad, potato salad, pasta salad, deviled eggs and green Jell-o salad. Oh, yes, and watermelon and homemade lemonade (here, lemonade is carbonated). For dessert we had strawberry shortcake. I believe everything but the meats was new to them. I have to say, when I revealed the Jell-o salad, which I left in the fridge by accident, there was a reaction of wonder and fright. :) There was also a big discussion as to why it is called salad, as they were picturing jelly and lettuce. Hee-hee! So, we're wondering, too. Why do you think it's called salad?
While we were eating we were hit with a barage of questions about American history which Josh and I were embarrassed to say we didn't know the answers to. :( They were tough questions!!
After we found a wee bit of space in our stomachs for dessert we were all sitting around with our hands on our bellies talking of how full we were. Emma said, "This is almost a Christmas full!" Later she said, "So, does it feel like this often when you eat in America?" I said, "Yes! It does!" With wide eyes she said, "REALLY!?" :)
I was sad that we didn't get to see fireworks. That will have to wait until after the festival in August.
Happy Fourth, everyone!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Botanical Gardens

I just uploaded about 25 pictures from our date at the botanical gardens this weekend. Take a look on flickr.