Saturday, November 24, 2012

Holidays Abroad...

are weird. I don't mean this in a negative way, just in the sense that it takes some extra thought and adjusting. But, as I sit full of Thanksgiving goodness, gratitude is the only emotion I feel. Family is irreplaceable, but good friends to share holidays with are a blessing. In many ways, certain Thanksgiving traditions remain the same regardless of the company: thankful attitudes, games, laughter, prayer, food comas, and the occasional grumpy mood. We will always treasure and remember fondly our American Thanksgivings celebrated on non-American soil. Enough with the gushy stuff and on to the food:

Thanksgiving Round One

The Crew: Chris and Rachel Brewer and their two boys John and Sam, Jesse and Liana Nickel, and us Allen folk.

The Menu: Instead of re-writing what's already been written by our friend, Chris Brewer, I will just refer you to his lovely post recounting the 5 courses of deliciousness: Happy Thanksgiving!

A few highlights: We had a cheese pairing with each course, and pheasant for the main dish. Yes, pheasant. And we loved it! Take a look at some photos from our fun day (sadly, I didn't get a pic of beautiful Rachel!):

Photo: Thankful for bread and great people to share it with.Photo: American Thanksgiving dinner. (Course #3 of 5)
-Pheasant 2 ways (sausage & breast)
- Green bean casserole
- Roasted veg
- Gran Marnier cranberry sauce
- Cheese
- Fougasse (leaf shaped bread)
Team effort of the Brewers Allens and us. Yum yum.

I'm especially thankful for this boy:

Thanksgiving Round Two

We haven't mentioned enough the awesomeness of Garrick's adviser, Dr Tooman, and his equally awesome wife, Tricia. These two have welcomed us and guided us in this journey, and we love them dearly. Another fact about these two? They are amazingly hospitable. We just returned from their home with happy hearts. We enjoyed the company of other St Mary's affiliates and gathered around a very large table! And, I brought my first homemade pumpkin pie:

Well, that's the end of our second Scottish Thanksgiving fest, and it was a good one.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November News

Soup cravings, early sunsets, and eggnog lattes are here. What does November look like Allen-style? I'll tell you:

Our schedules are in full swing. We have a 9-5 work day and weekly events that include Monday Date Night, Tuesday Night Bible Study, Sunday Brunch, and finally, Sunday Game Night at the Brewers. Saturday? We laze.

We have nerdy hobbies.  I've recently learned to knit thanks to my lovely ladies Rachel and Haley. I am almost done with a scarf for G and have a few other exciting projects! Garrick's hobby is reading, big surprise, with a few rounds of Temple Run to relax his brain.

I'm job searching.  Long, complicated story short, my team is restructuring and my post is ending on the 31st of January. I could possibly stay on longer, we'll see. Finding contentment in uncertainty is a skill I'm learning, like it or not.

The Samsung Galaxy Ace makes me happy. We traded in our go-phones for smart phones and are saving money on our bill. And we have Swype texting. Don't know what that is? Find out here.

Thanksgiving is coming! I'll dedicate an entire post to our second Scottish Thanksgiving, but we're looking forward to a few celebrations, one of which will include pheasant!

Meet Tutor Allen. Garrick has been tutoring for the class entitled, "The History and Religion of Ancient Israel." He leads two small sessions a week on different assigned readings. And he dresses up. :)

And finally, five weeks and four days until...we fly home for Christmas!!! I know this is not November news, but we are talking and planning quite a bit for our long awaited return to the USA. Family and friends, we are coming for you! (And Chipotle...)

All in all, November reminds us to be thankful. And we have much to be thankful for.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Allens & Nickels in Linlithgow!

Day trips are becoming much looked forward to events. Even though the alarm went off early on Saturday morning, seeing historically beautiful sights with good friends makes temporary tiredness worth it.

This time we set off with Jesse and Liana to Linlithgow, the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots.

My new smart phone (believe it or not, it's cheaper than my pay-as-you-go phone) told me it was -1 degree Celsius. Brrrrr! As we meandered up to the palace, Liana and I spotted a knitting shop. This now excites us because we've recently learned to knit! Although I didn't find any yarn that spoke to me, it was still fun to look around. The boys waited patiently because they often benefit from our mad knitting skills. :)

Up a wee lane from the main street in town, we saw the entrance to our destination:

After getting our Historic Scotland Passes stamped, we entered the center of the palace. This is the home of the oldest fountain in the UK.

The palace has four towers and that each have spiraling staircases up to the top. We climbed to the very top of the Queen Margaret's Bower, despite someones fear of heights (GARRICK!).

Back down the stairs, we walked in and out of apartments, hallways, water-closets, and saw some very large fireplaces! They would also put tapestries on the stone walls to provide insulation. Something tells me it was still pretty cold.

Commence jumping photos:

Back outside, we took in the changing leaves and amazing views.

Right beside the palace is St Michael's Parish Church. We had two elderly men kindly give us a tour around the church, sharing interesting facts along the way. The steeple was made to resemble the Crown of Thorns:

Here is the view looking down the center aisle. The stained glass at the front represents the hierarchical structure of the Heavens and the Earth.

This stained glass window was put in recently and symbolizes the tongues of fire and the doors in Revelation. Each window has an intentional fault, to remember that only in Christ are we made perfect and whole.

After lunch at the Four Mary's Pub, we caught the next train to Edinburgh!

After a brief walk from the train station, Liana and I found another knitting shop! I picked up some yarn and double-pointed needles for a new pair of gloves.

Also worth mentioning, Eggnog Lattes in Red Cups:

We shopped, explored, and enjoyed our time with the Nickels, a very fun and lovely couple!

Towards the end of the evening, we stumbled upon some festive lights and decorations, and even had some time to dream in Anthropologie. Then, we ate some terrible Indian food and were back on the train to St Andrews. Here's the Nickel's take on our trip: Stay tuned for more adventures!