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?