Tuesday, February 27, 2007

One week in

I am finishing my first week on the detox diet. Side note. I have to keep saying 'detox diet' rather than just 'detox' because in my work in social services, 'detox' was the time you spent in hospital at the beginning of your recovery from drugs and/or alcohol.

Anyways, today is the first day I feel really good. Not great, but really good. I opened for work today and it was the first time I didn't feel like I needed caffeine. No headaches. Just a wee bit of muscle tension. But I actually had energy! I was still looking longingly at those muffins, though.

I just got a vegan cookbook from a friend and I'll be getting another tonight, so hopefully that will help me with my meals. Maybe I could get you all to rally 'round Josh and get him to do the diet with me. :) When we were shopping yesterday he said, "Would you want to get a rotisserie chicken?" I looked and him and he said, "Oh, you can't have chicken?" And this was while I was struggling particularly in the cheese isle. Later he brought over some pies (pies here are savory, meat pies, not fruit pies) and said, "You can make these for my dinners to make it easier to cook for me." Bless his heart, he's trying to be helpful! :) He did pick out some nice necarines and plums for me.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

An American's take on British food

British food has a bad reputation, particularly Scottish. Um, I think I can second that, but visit this site to see some reviews on British food done by an American living in Scotland. It is very amusing. :)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Detox: Day 3 or Has it Only Been 3 Days!?!?

Well, I am having a hard time of it so far. The first day I was just a wee bit hungry. The second day I was starving and had a splitting headache all day. Today I just had a headache all day.

Yesterday was my first day working while on the diet, and I had to do an early shift. I was SO tired all day long! And SO hungry! I was looking at muffins that I normally wouldn't care for and think, "Oh, that looks so good!" When I made customers drinks, even an almond soya latte sounded good. The only thing in all of Starbucks that I can have is Calm or Refresh tea. By the end of the day I was so sick of tea!

I hadn't realised how much the caffeine I had on my shift curbed my appetite until yesterday. I normally would not bring anything to eat at work. If I got hungry I might have a croissant, but I normally didn't get hungry. A strawberries and cream frapp would fill me up for lunch. Healthy, I know. But yesterday I was starving by the end of the day. I brought a wee container of pistachios and was munching on them for strength anytime I went down to do some paperwork. That was all I had. By the end of the day I was sick of pistachios...and tea!

It was a little better today. I didn't have so much of a splitting headache, though I really banged my head up good. I was cleaning the pastry case and I bent down to wipe down the sliding glass which I had taken out of the case. I knocked my head really hard on the metal tracks in the case where the glass goes. It was like in the cartoons where everything goes black for a split second and you see stars. I thought I was going to pass out for a minute it hurt so bad. I think I asked my coworker if I was bleeding or something. He said I had a DENT in my head! Well, it's gone the other way now and had made a nice nickle sized lump with a red line on my forehead. Didn't help my headache.

Anyways, back to detox. I really horded the snack foods because I am such a snacker and was worried that I would get the munchies all the time. Well, I've got plenty of snacks now, but I'm having trouble with meals. Last night I made a nice bean chili and added a bit of TVP. I cheated though because I didn't plan ahead to soak the beans. That's ok. I was in a bit of a panic, though, because I can't think of what to make for meals! I think I just need to become more familiar with what I CAN eat (rather than forcusing on what I can't). I decided to make some Spanish rice tonight (MMM...it's simmering just now!) but I didn't have any jalapenos. So I went down to Margiotta's (I SO love having a shop just around the corner). I looked around a bit (avoiding the meat section) to see if they could give me any inspiration for other meals. I was looking at the pasta sauce. I was thinking of the Ragu I have and home and thought "Oh, yeah. I can have that." I checked the ingredients and I think I'm clear. I already bought some rice and millet pasta, so I think that will be our next meal.

Everyone who did detox said they felt great. So, I'm hoping it will kick in soon. I think it was harder having to work during the first days. If the weekend is as nice as today was I am going to get out for a walk.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I have been threatening myself to do a detox diet for some time now, but I have not had the courage. Well, I decided that probably the only time I could get myself to do it (at least for the first time) is during lent. Today is the first day.

This will be the most difficult lent I have ever observed. This diet is basically vegan, wheat-free, sugar-free, caffeine (!!)-free. When I was on holiday I had gotten off caffeine, but it seems that since I have been back for one week I have become addicted again as I am nursing a headache just now. I am not looking forward to the next 2 days where I will be opening without my latte.

Anyways, some things I CAN have which I will be taking advantage of: rice or almond milk, rice or millet pasta, tofu (not a big fan in the past, but what can I do!?), TVP (haven't tried yet, I'll find out how it is), wheat-free rye bread, egg substitute. I am supposed to eat as much as I can as raw as possible and try to buy organic. I will have to plan ahead to soak my pulses overnight and try to cook my veg as little as possible. I am happy that I can eat fruit, but since we got here I have not bought a ton because it is so expensive and goes so quickly. I do want to join a box scheme, but my schedule is so sporadic and I will not be here the same day every week to accept it. I have already been to the healthfood store twice to stock up and have a delivery coming Friday. :)

Well, we will see how it goes. I am 9-stone now. I don't have a LOT to lose, but I'm curious to see how much I lose by the end.

Oh, by the way, I am not detoxing for the purpose of losing weight. That will just be one of the added perks.

Oh, and if you are reading this Michelle, don't worry. We will still have Chicago-style deep-dish next week. ;)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

So glad I was up!

It is not uncommon for me to stay up too late on nights Josh is doing an overnight, such as last night. So then it is likely you will find me still in bed around 8 the next morning. Well, for some reason I was up a little after 7 today! Good thing, too. At around 7:50 I saw the Royal Mail truck drive up. They had a parcel for me! It was something I ordered and was expecting, but...7:50AM?! AM?! I did recieve a parcel a couple of weeks ago at 8am. And on a similar note, there is construction going on across the alley from us. They don't mind mind making a lot of noise at 7:30 on a Saturday morning.

Monday, February 19, 2007

My Mom

Steph posted a really fun picture of her mom and encouraged us to post pics of our moms, too. Well, I think it's supposed to be for those who are moms, but I wanted to play, too. :)
The first pic is a little before we moved from Chicago to Edinburgh. The second (with my brother, too!) is before we came back to Edinburgh when we visited home last April.
My mom is really fab. She has been so supportive of her only daughter being swept away by some boy to live in another country for who knows how long. When I felt lonely and sad she sent me a box of yarn for something to do on long, dark winter nights. She spends too much money sending carepackages filled with goodies that we miss, and other things we forgot we missed! :) She has had to endure countless questions from family and friends about what we are doing and why she let us do it. She doesn't take the criticism others give about our decision, but patiently explains again and again why we are doing it - even when she may not be completely sure. :) She reads my blog and posts comments. She enjoys my pictures. She helps me support Janelle. And one thing I appreciate immencely: she is a good mother-in-law to my husband.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


You will all be happy to know that the sun is now shining full and bright through our french doors! We are going to celebrate by cleaning our windows.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Another plea

I posted a few posts back about Janelle and the money I have been raising for her to go to a better school. Thank you so much for the people who have responded. I am still in need of over half the amount. If you have been thinking you would like to help, please click on the 'donate' button to the left of the screen (below the yellow chat box) and you can donate through paypal. If you do not have paypal and would like to help, please contact me and we can figure something out.

Obviously this is an ongoing project. If you feel that you would like to sponsor Janelle once a month or on some sort of regular basis, that would be fantastic! I do keep track of how much has been given to me for her throughout the year and when there is a decent sum of money I wire it to the family.

Janelle's parents are so greatful for the help and they send me emails and pictures every so often that I can put on the yahoo group. Janelle is also aware that there are people who have never even met her that are taking an interest in her future.

I know we are inuntated with people asking for donations every day, but the thing I like about this is that ALL of the money (I pay for the wiring fee myself) will go to a specific person. No administration fees. I personally know the family and that they are wonderful people. I do enjoy 'watching' Janelle learn and grow.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

I know it's a day early. Today actually marks five years and five months of marriage.
We were never ones for celebrating V Day. At least not on the day. We would normally just cook a meal together or go out to eat on a different night. It is so expensive to go out to eat here that we never go out for dinner. We went to a place for lunch today called Buffalo Grill. It is sort of a Tex-Mex-ish style restaurant in our neighborhood. It was nice to eat at a REAL restuarant for once rather than just a cafe. Anyways, I had a hankering for a good burger, and it was good! They served it with fries (it actually said 'fries' on the menu!) and they actually had American mustard! Josh kept trying to talk me into getting dessert, but I'm just as happy having dessert at home, which is cheaper and tastes better.
After lunch Josh took me to the local flower shop to buy me some flowers. AAWWWW! I think he probably wanted me to get a bouquet of something, but I picked out a stem of lilies (which is what I really wanted when I got my tulips last week) and 3 gerberas (my favourite). I can't wait until the lilies start to smell the flat up.
It was such a nice day of bumming around town and spending time together. Now Josh is off to work and I am settling in for another night alone. Thanks for the nice time, Sweetie!

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I'm sure you call can sympathise with me that dishes just never end! Doing dishes is a bit more of a chore here than it was in the States. I have never had the convenience of a dish washer, but I did have the convenience of 2 sinks. You know, you either fill one with soapy water and rinse in the other, or you pile the dirty dishes in one and wash in the other. Most kitchens here just have one sink. Oh, I forgot to mention that we also have no hot water in the kitchen. Well, the hot water just trickles out of the hot tap (remember, we don't have mixer taps) Here is how I have to do the dishes:

1. Fill electric kettle with water and heat up.

2. Put dish soap in washing up bucket and run some cold water into it.

3. Start putting utensils, plates, and bowls into bucket.

4. Pour hot water into bucket.

5. Fill kettle again and heat.

6. Clean out sink.

7. Put up foldable IKEA dish rack and utensil holder.

8. Pour more hot water into bucket and in other things that may not have been able to get rinsed well enough since we do not have hot water.

9. Wash what I was able to fit into bucket and place it in the sink.

10. Put more things into bucket.

11. Rinse everything from the sink under FREEZING COLD water and put on dish rack.

12. Warm hands in dish water.

13. Repeat steps 9-12 as often as needed.

Since we only have the one sink we have to put all of our dirty dishes on the counter. We don't have much counter space so dishes have to be done quite often. If I am doing any cooking or baking I have to do dishes in order to have space, then I have to do dishes again because I just dirtied a bunch.

I am so sick of dishes right now.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Our Town

I mentioned my walk a couple of posts back. I just wanted to share a few pictures. I took some photos of our neighborhood and at the botanics. I did not feel very creative, so this is more of a documentary. Of course I forgot to take pictures of our road! I wanted to take a picture of the alley I walk through to get to work. Forgot that too. It's cute. Cobblestone road, stone buildings
This clock tower is down the road from us. We here the bell chime every hour. I quite like it. I think it is quaint. It was funny when we first moved in, though, that the time was 11 minutes slow. Then someone changed it and it was 8 minutes fast. I think it's right now, but we don't always hear it since it is not warm enough to have our doors open.

Another view of the clock tower. On my way home from work.

Stockbridge is the name of the community we live in. I haven't read enough about the history of Stockbridge, but apparently it was a meat and fish market. We do have a butch and a fishmonger (and a cheese monger, too! I just like to say that word). The name of the road I work on is called Baker's Place. I like that because there is an Italian bakery just next door to us (and the cheese monger is next to them!).
This is at the botanics. You might not be able to see it very well, but this frost covered lawn is littered with crocuses. It was pretty, but it made me so sad to think of all of the blossoming trees and daffodils that I was so excited to see a couple of weeks ago now covered in frost.

The wildlife was abundant. There were loads of birds. You could tell the squirrels are used to being fed. Anytime I approached a group of them they would run up to me (just about 2 feet from my shoes!), sit up, and look at me like "Did you bring me something?"

It was so peaceful there. I love being this close to botanic gardens! The walk is very not peaceful as I have to walk on main thoroughfares the whole way, but the peace is instantanious. During the day the park is just filled with moms (or nannies) and their kids feeding ducks, pensioners getting in a nice walk, and photographers. The gardens are walled so the cars wizzing around outside sound like they are on some distant highway. One of my favourite parts is the rock garden. There are waterfalls. Even though manmade waterfalls are kind of cheesey, it is still relaxing. The sun was shining. Even though the thermometers probably read 38 degrees, when the sun is shining in a clear sky it warms you up so much. I was thinking how nice it would be to sit down with a cuppa! - that's 'a cup of tea' :)

I was so inspired to buy a plant but I couldn't find anything that I liked in the shop. On my way back home I stopped by the florist and picked up some tulips. They are so beautiful and they really say "SPRING" to me! My heart fills with joy every time I look at them.

I will be putting more pics on flickr.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Modified to add photo. Be sure to look back a few posts for the photos I was finally able to add.

After several tries with different recipes I was finally successful today with a loaf of bread! It rised (raise? rose?) properly and everything. I haven't sliced into it yet. We will try it with dinner tonight. I am making stroganoff in the crock pot. Josh will have salmon since I know he doesn't like stroganoff (and I don't like seafood). I don't usually make different dinners, but I had such a hankerin' for stroganoff and I don't want to make Josh eat what I know he doesn't like. He's normally a pretty good sport. Salmon will be easy in the grill.

We just had our dinner and it was delicious! (the dinner as well as the bread)

Fab carepackage!

I was so excited to recieve a parcel today. Especially since most of the mail (when we get mail) has been for our landlord or former tenants. :(

Some of our friends from our church in Chicago sent us a carepackage. They sent us things we miss like poptarts and twizzlers and some extras like stuff from Trader Joe's (aw, I miss that place!) and...um...tissues. Yeah, they don't have that here. :) Just kidding!

We also got a CD of the men's choir that Josh was in at Moody (listening to that now) and a barista doll. HA! I laughed so hard. I'd post a picture of everything, but I still can't post pics (I also already dug into the twizzlers).

Thanks, guys!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Another foodie post

I should first make note that this is my 200th post. Woo-hoo!

I am alone tonight. Josh is on one of his overnight shifts. I usually like to get settled for the evening with a cajun chicken breast made in the grill and a movie to make myself so tired I wont have a problem sleeping alone. Alas! We have been through the mid-winter blahs and the many DVDs mom and dad have been so kind to send us (as well as the ones Sam and Peter loaned us) were watched long ago. And Anne of Green Gables is on loan. *sigh* I guess I will have to READ or something. :)

Another thing I am making tradition on these solo nights is I try to bake at least one thing. Last week I baked chocolate muffins with dried cherries. Good fresh out of the oven, but a wee bit too dry after they cool. The week before I baked rye bread. I'll just say the weather was so nice the next day that we went to feed the duck. :) Tonight I tried my hand (for the second time) at pretzles. OH! I didn't tell you about the first time!

So I made the dough and everything. Realised immediately (well, after I mixed all of the ingredients) that the recipe called for instant yeast. I have not even seen instant yeast here. Since it didn't say in the instructions, I did not allow time for the yeast to become active in warm water. I didn't want to waste the ingredients, so I let it rise for a very LOOOOONG time. It did rise, but not amazingly well.

I then had to divide the dough and roll the bits to make ropes and fashion them into pretzles. Here is when I realised an even graver mistake than the yeast. I was to put 3 TBS baking soda in a skillet of water to boil (par boil?) the pretzles before baking them. I put it in the pretzles! And I doubled the recipe, so there was 6 TBS of baking soda in the pretzle dough!!

Again, I did not want to waste the dough and rolling the dough was such hard work (especially since it didn't rise much) so I went ahead and made them just to see how they would turn out. They looked pretty good and they smelled wonderful!

I had to pop onto my American Expats forum to see if I would die from so much baking soda. They know everything there! :) The initial bite was good, but after the first few seconds it tasted extremely salty and had a very bad aftertaste. I went ahead with it and when Josh came home I told him what happened and thought that if I made some nacho cheese it would mask the taste. So we popped in a movie and had our little snack. Well, the cheese was good. The rest are still sitting in the freezer as Josh swears he will eat them one day.

So here is my second attempt. I remembered this time to save the baking soda for the water. :) I must say, they are (as they say here) FAB! I went weak in the knees when I took my first bite. Oh! How I missed thee! I have only been able to enjoy soft pretzles at the German Market during the holidays. I am going to have a hard time saving some for Josh!

My back is doing better now. It still hurts and I know I have to be careful, but at least I am more mobile. Yesterday I asked Josh if he wouldn't mind cleaning the tub for me before he went to work so I could take a hot bath. He said, "Only if you don't get stuck in the tub while I'm at work!" The bath definately helped and I sat on a heating pad all day.

I should add that Josh recieved his unconditional acceptance to the University of Edinburgh. I don't think we really feared that he wouldn't be accepted, but it is nice to have. Josh is happy about the unconditional part. He wont have to read Latin or French to a board before he is accepted. :) Now we just wait on Oxford and see if he gets any funding. This should all happen in April.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Why does it always happen when I'm on holiday?!

Some people prefer to be sick on their days off so they don't have to call in sick to work. I actually prefer the other way around. I DON'T want to be sick on my holiday! Well, I'm not sick, but I am still homebound. My back is acting up. It has not been this bad in over a year. I was just bending over yesterday and *SNAP* instant pain. It was probably a bad decision to walk a mile to church and back. It wasn't that bad until I sat in the pew.

I must comment about the church we visited yesterday. First of all, there is ALWAYS tea and coffee after church. So we stayed for tea and coffee. We were nearly instantly approached by people and kept up conversation the whole time we were there. They were interested in US! Imagine that. And I wasn't made to feel like a horrible person for working at Starbucks. They invited us back for the evening service, too, but didn't make us feel pressured that we had to settle down in their church and sign up for a list of activities.

So that was a good thing. But on top of my back pain, I was feeling a bit homesick. As far as I can remember, it is the first time I had a general feeling of homesickness rather than missing people or certain things, or just the general overwhelming feeling of being in a new place and having to learn new things every day. The days are getting longer, though. I am so, so, so looking forward to summer! We are really going to enjoy summer in our new flat. We have loads of windows french doors that open up. We are close to the botanics and the river. And in just a little over 2 months my parents will be visiting! Yeah!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Go Chicago!!

Da Bears finally made it into the Superbowl again after over 20 years! Yes, I can say I remember 20 years ago. YIKES!

Watch the Suerpbowl Shuffle for old times' sake. You can laugh. I did. :)

Super Bowl Shuffle - video powered by Metacafe