Saturday, January 18, 2014


I woke up early this morning and grabbed my camera. A new lens will do that to you. Walking around, my eyes caught several things I've never seen before. And this made me realize that even in the gray, St Andrews is stunning.

This week we've been slowly adjusting back to work and a new time zone. Plans are starting to fill the calendar and we're taking stock of what 2014 holds.

I'm fully immersed in my new job and truly enjoying my new team and remit. To make it better, on Friday I moved offices and my new desk has a view of the West Sands. It was the most productive day I've had!

Garrick just completed his third chapter and is more than halfway done with his dissertation. Books trickle through the post everyday and language flashcards pile up on most surfaces.

Socially we feel settled and comfortable. I had a coffee date with a friend this morning and relationships like these are what grounds me. It's so vital to have people to walk alongside during this unique postgraduate journey.

Oh, the St Andrews Brew Pub just opened and it's a gem. They have a tapas menu that is cheap and delicious. We'll be going many times over this long winter. We don't have a lot of options in such a small town and this place is our new favourite.

Well, that's about it. It's now raining and I'm going to drink Market Spice tea and play Cribbage with my husband. Here are some photos from this morning:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Going Home

This post is for my expat friends.

Garrick and I have made the trek from St Andrews to Seattle twice now. We've really cherished these times. It's amazing to play at the park with our nephews, eat our favourite waffle fries, and enjoy hugs galore. Skype does the job, but can never compare to tangible interactions. These times also bring about a layer of complexity that I didn't expect. Having two trips under our belts, I thought it may be helpful to chat about some of the things we've learned.

1) Less really is more. Our first trip home, we had breakfast, lunch, and dinner, (and sometimes coffee) dates most days. I remember feeling excited and exhausted at the same time. A person only has so many words. This trip we did one night with friends, and it freed up the rest of our time to spend with our families who we see so little.

2) Make a list of must-dos. Before we left, I thought of experiences, places, people, and food that I had to have. For instance, taking my nephews to the Children's Museum or eating Matador nachos. Paying attention to what you regularly miss and then making an effort to do those things creates a fulfilling trip. Trust me, time fills up fast, and add a bit of jet lag, you may forget something important.

3) You can't manage other's expectations. You have ideas about how the trip will go, and so does everyone else. You have lots of people to see, and it can be difficult to split time evenly between everyone. Worrying about fairness or tensions can really take the joy away from the trip. Our families were more than understanding of us, but I could see the potential for conflict. Also, a polite "no" is a perfectly acceptable answer. If you over commit or fill your time with activities you dislike, you'll be no good to anyone.

4) Build in a personal day. Or two. Honestly, the word 'vacation' is not really accurate. It's more of a trip. And don't get me wrong, trips are great, but can be difficult when you were expecting a vacation. So, if you'd like to get some relax time, put it on the schedule. Your days WILL fill up. It just happens. This year we did not do the best at carving out time for ourselves, but our families really made an effort to do things we wanted.

5) Conflicting emotions are normal. It's hard to go back to a place you once called home. When we're in Seattle, we miss our St Andrews friends and the North Sea, and when we're in St Andrews, we miss our family and friends and the stunning views of Mt Rainier. I surprised myself on the plane back to Scotland when I started sobbing during "Enough Said." There is a scene where two parents watch their daughter walk through to airport to leave for college. I was laughing a few minutes later, but it was a good reminder that I'm torn, and that's healthy.

Maybe this is all common sense, but I didn't think about any of this prior to our first trip. We're in the thick of jet lag, eating grilled cheese at 1am and drinking lots of French press during the day. It's back to work tomorrow and we're excited to start feeling normal and seeing our friends. With that, I'll close with the two places we've called home:



Saturday, January 4, 2014


Garrick's family recently moved to Seattle and live in the Greenwood area. They have a small rambler on a large plot and are a quick bus ride from downtown Seattle. It's fun to be a tourist in your own state, and I notice new things since I've moved away and come back. Garrick and I have both commented that we really love the Pacific Northwest and would be happy to settle here. We'll see!

We toured Pike Place Market and went to the Wildlights at Woodland Park Zoo and enjoyed our time with Julie, Mark, Braden, and Nolan.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Whidbey Island

Happy 2014! Garrick just left to play football at Snohomish High School with friends, and I'm enjoying a lazy day on my parents' couch.
A highlight of 2013 is our recent trip to Whidbey Island. Garrick and I cycled around the island for our 3rd anniversary, and we loved the views, beaches, and seaside towns. So, when planning our trip to the USA, we definitely wanted to visit this special place.
We caught an early ferry with my parents, sister and brother-in-law, and nephews. Seeing the world through the eyes of children is a fun and tiring blessing. We loved every minute spent with them!

After the ferry, this was our first glimpse of the beach. I thought there may be sea glass, but could only find shells, rocks, and driftwood. Bella, my parents' miniature dachshund, even joined us for the day. The boys threw rocks, Garrick and Kenneth played 'baseball', and we all took in the views and Vitamin D.

Back in the car, we stopped at a viewpoint and then made our way to Ebey State Park to hike the trail along the bluff.


Next stop: Food! Coupeville is a quaint town and home to the Knead and Feed. I think about this tuna salad often.

After shopping and a coffee break in Langley, we piled in the car and ferried back home. This is just one of many great day trips to do in Washington, and we're thankful for the memories made.