Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Very Merry Christmas

It all began Sunday morning. Ken and Jane were kind enough to give us a lift to the airport and greeted us 9am with coffee waiting in the car. Two flights later, one short, one long, we were met by our parents and Garrick's brother, Braden at the Sea-Tac Airport. Hugs after a year apart are just the best. First things first: food!  The Ridge is a fantastic pizza place in Phinney Ridge, near Mark and Julie's new house. Eating helped us stay awake, but after we devoured the last slice, we could only think of sleep. Janelle and Brayden came for a quick visit when we arrived at my parents, and then it was pillow time.
Monday morning we were the first car through the Starbucks drive thru. A bit later, we visited my grandpa who recently moved to an assisted living home. And that afternoon we got to catch up with Rachael and Reggie, our newly married friends!
Christmas Eve we enjoyed a leisurely day with Garrick's family, opening stockings and playing games. That evening, we gathered with The Stevens for a gift exchange and potluck dinner. 

Christmas morning we were excited to see that we'd slept past 5am! My Aunt Judy invited us over for brunch and she lead us in the telling of the Christmas story with the help of Brayden and Ryan. Then it was off to see Garrick's dad for the afternoon. Christmas night included a spiral ham dinner at my parents home with Kenneth and Janelle, Mark and Julie, and my grandma.

The day after Christmas (Boxing Day for our UK friends) we were reunited with First Street in Snohomish.  Located right on the Snohomish River, there are several boutiques and places to eat. My mom and I went shopping at Joyworks while Garrick and my dad checked out a local distillery. The Snohomish Bakery is another one of our favourite spots, and during lunch we ran into some of our high school friends. On Friday, we walked Greenlake with Garrick's family and checked out a few places in their new neighbourhood.
The time is already passing so fast and we have lots more to share, but until then, enjoy these photos of our special hometown and Greenlake.



Sunday, December 15, 2013

December Days

With just one week until we fly to Seattle via Reykjavik, we're soaking up the Christmastime festivities in St Andrews. Advent season means that Handel's Messiah plays in our flat and we anticipate the Joy that came to the world over two thousand years ago.
We attended the St Mary's Christmas Party in the Senior Common Room this past week and it was a great time to socialize with Garrick's colleagues and lecturers. My work Christmas party happened on Friday and again, I can't express how thankful I am for my new job! This week I'll host a party for the women in my Tuesday Small Group, and Thursday my two piano students will play in a wee recital at our flat. Garrick will be a guest performer, playing Good King Wenceslas and We Wish You a Merry Christmas accompanied by me. He's been practicing!
Next Sunday at around this time we'll be greeted at the airport by our families. I can't quite describe the excitement and emotions that come with seeing loved ones after a year apart, and also knowing that I'll be eating Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups very soon.
Recently, I've been buried in Canon Rebel user guides and photography blogs. I've finally made the switch to 'manual' and have been making slow progress with my photos. I'm a complete amateur, but it's been a fun hobby. We've had little sunlight so I've mostly been shooting indoors. Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving (x3)

Remember my checklist of things to do while Garrick way away in Baltimore? I did very few of those things because of the hospitable community in St Andrews. I had dinner and coffee invites most days. The time passed quickly and a weekend visit from Jackie also helped to provide a halfway point.

Garrick returned home Wednesday night, which was also my last day in the School of Modern Languages. I had my first day in my new post in Admissions this past Friday, and this is just one of many things I am grateful for this year.

Our first Thanksgiving happened earlier this month with Garrick's office-mates and families. We all gathered together at the home of the Sherrards and collectively made every staple in a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Building relationships with the people Garrick sees on a daily basis is invaluable, and full tummies were an added bonus. Kate provided the turkey and very festive decorations.
This Thanksgiving was made even more special with a visit from my cousin Regan! She arrived a little after Garrick on Wednesday night. She joined us for dinner on Thursday night at the Hopkins' home, along with other friends. Every part of the meal was so good that when it came to dessert, I couldn't even think of eating a slice of the pumpkin pie Regan and I made. Looking around the table I was filled with thankfulness for new friends that have become like family, and also that an actual family member could celebrate with us!
Photo Credit: Angela Hopkins
On Saturday, we took full advantage of the free entry offered at the castle, cathedral, and clubhouse in celebration of St Andrews Day. We hiked the winding stairs of St Rule's, explored the mines of the castle, and finally enjoyed the beauty of the Royal & Ancient. 
That evening, Garrick and I left to attend the annual 'Saturday After Thanksgiving' meal at the home of Garrick's supervisor and family. This year we enjoyed getting to know some of the faculty of St Mary's as well other students and their families. Right after heaping our plates full of food, we took turns expressing our thankfulness for the past year. Some common themes were community, provision, delicious food, family, and employment.

Regan also had a fun evening and went to the Hunger Games, even stopping to get a toastie on her way back to our flat.

Sunday included church, lunch at The Balgove, a restful afternoon, and a visit to the new St Andrews Brewing Co with friends. That evening Regan packed and prepared for her early train back to France on Monday morning.

Happy Thanksgiving from Scotland! We are full of gratitude for another year of lessons learned and fun experiences!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Planning Ahead

Garrick and I are enjoying a lazy weekend together before he leaves early Monday morning to attend two conferences,  ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) and SBL (Society of Biblical Literature), in Baltimore with fellow St Andrews students and scholars from all over the world. He'll be away for a week and a half, and I'm not looking forward to it. It's lonely to be in Scotland without my husband or family, and in these times I feel most homesick. There are a few other wives who will also be on their own, and we'll get together for meals and coffee dates, giving just another reason why the St Mary's community is amazing. My friend Jackie, who inspired this post, will be visiting from Edinburgh at the weekend as her scholar husband is also away.

So, I thought I'd be proactive and make a list of activities or goals to accomplish while I'm on my own:
  • Cook something new. Garrick recently bought me these cookbooks: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and My Little French Cookbook. I plan to have many dates with my new cooker.
  • Knit! I have almost finished an infinity scarf, I'm almost done with one fingerless gloves, and I have a few balls of yarn needing a purpose.
  • Play my piano. I want to make progress on "Claire de Lune" so my mom can help me when we are in Seattle over Christmas.
  •  Reach out to friends. I need to schedule coffee dates and meals with the lovely ladies in my life.
  • Show off St Andrews. As mentioned above, I'd like to show Jackie our favourite places in St A's.
  • Attend Handel's Messiah.
  • Put up our Christmas tree. Garrick strongly believes that Christmas doesn't begin until after Thanksgiving, but has given me permission to put up our tree early.
  • Watch girly movies.  
  • Organise the cupboards underneath our kitchen sink. (It looks like Tupperware exploded.)
  • Skype with family. I'm excited to have free time in the evenings to chat with my parents, sister, nephews, in-laws, and friends.
I'm sure I'll be referring to this list when I feel bored or lonely, and I'm thankful that I have so much support for our time apart. I think it will go by quickly, but I'll sure miss this guy:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Weekend Away

The west coast of Scotland has been on our list of places to go. When I worked in Registry, we met Jane, her husband Ken, and Robbie and Nicole. The six of us rented a cottage in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, one of the inner Hebrides, for a long weekend. It was truly of time relaxation, amazing food, and good company.

After a day of driving and ferry travel from Oban to Mull, we arrived after dark and enjoyed a delicious chili dinner. On Saturday, we explored the white sandy beaches of Iona, and the rest of our time was spent in town and driving the windy roads of the island.

Take a look at the view from our cottage:

The main street in Tobermory is colourful and quaint. Shopping includes chocolate, pottery, handmade crafts, and books. We also stopped in at the local bakery and devoured Mull Cheddar Mac & Cheese.

On our way home from Iona, we saw a sign reading 'Farm Shop' on the side of the road. We pulled down a gravel driveway, parked, and walked up to a darkened building that suddenly came to light and a man greeted us. He asked what kind of meat we wanted, opened a giant freezer, and we drove away with our local leg of lamb. Ken and Jane put their culinary skills to work and made an amazing feast including  roast lamb, potatoes, peppers, and courgettes, carrot and turnip mash, Yorkshire puddings, broccoli with cheese sauce, and for dessert, crumble.

The Tobermory Distillery overlooks the harbour and town. Our tour began at 11am on a Monday, so needless to say, we were the only group there. Our guide was the owner's wife, and she was generous with their whisky. We were able to sample each of the bottles pictured below. Garrick purchased the 19-Year to open upon completion of his PhD. I may have to find a good hiding place.

We stopped in at another farm shop located in a green house to pick up some famous Mull Cheddar. The decor was quite unique and we especially liked the wood-burning stove. From there we drove to Glengorm Castle and then on to Calgary Beach.

We arrived home late Tuesday night and enjoyed some take-away to conclude our holiday. We are thankful to our friends/tour guides for showing us Americans a wee part of this beautiful country!