Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Kilted Pig

There is a little restaurant about a two minute's walk from Ryan's work called the Kilted Pig.  Like must eating establishments here, it is also a pub.  But unlike bars in the US, Edinburgh doesn't allow smoking indoors, which is just lovely.  Whilst Preston was at Buroughmuir Secondary School, Calvin, Simon, and Annie at Craiglockhart Primary, and Owen at Tyncastle Nursury, my husband and I went out to lunch.  This is something I could get used to everyday.

If I were to start up a restaurant in Edinburgh, I would also name it the Kilted Pig.

The waiter asked me what I wanted to drink.  I asked what kind of juice they had.  He then listed Coke products, and then I asked about fruit juices.  He asked if I wanted an appetizer, and then I gave up.  About a minute later he returned with an "Appletiser," which is like Martinelli's... only even better!

Today we took the plunge and tried haggis balls, which was haggis rolled in oats and then deep fried, served with a mango chutney.  Tasted just like fried eggrolls.  I also had stovies with sausage, which is comfort food at it's most comforting, potatoes and ham kind of scrambled.  Excellent.  The other dish was ham and lentil soup, and it was good.  I wish they sold t-shirts with a pig wearing a kilt.  I would buy one.

I was in the middle of putting clean laundry away, when I caught my husband and son praying at the same time but not together.  Yes, Owen is wearing a home-made juice box jet pack.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Smell of Edinburgh

Every time I drop Owen off for pre-school, he tells me that he is hungry and wants a bowl of cereal. This is because for some strange reason, the entire area smells like a giant bowl of Cheerios. Today I asked one of his nursery teachers about the odor. (Pre-school is called nursery school here.) She laughed and explained that what I am smelling is the "true smell of Edinburgh," the brewery where beer is made, and a distillery, where Scotch Whisky is made.  It really does smell like Cheerios, though.

I have never drunk alcohol (religiously), so I can't compare it to cereal, but I sure like the taste of Honey Nut Cheerios.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Let's talk traffic, shall we?  I found it very difficult and totally frightening learning to drive on the other side of the road.  If you screw up while driving, someone could die.  It didn't help knowing that for various irritating circumstances, we were unable to get car insurance for the first three or so weeks that we were here. But I am learning to love the traffic here. On the downside, buses seem to be everywhere, many roads are two way but only have room for 1.5 cars, so the potential for a wreck seems great, lots of construction right now in downtown Edinburgh, often making our GPS useless. But, there are also some very big pros to the traveling in the Scotland.  Except for the buses, most of the cars are small and don't block visibility.  The speed limit almost everywhere is 30 miles, which means a lot less rushing around; no one seems to be speeding. I also prefer the UK traffic lights themselves.  When stopped at a red light, the signal will add a yellow light, right before it turns green to let you go,  (just the reverse of when the signal goes red.) It's like a heads up that you will be able to hit your gas in a second, so finish that text you were working on (just kidding, no one should ever text while driving, for real.) Additionally, when you hit the button at the pedestrian crossing, a light comes on that says "WAIT". We all want to be answered when we ask questions. Q: "Can I cross yet?" A: "Wait" which means "I'm working on it.  I value your time and I know that you are waiting for the little green man to appear.  It will happen.  I have received your request and you will be able to cross shortly because I know you are here." It's brilliant.

Isn't it lovely.

When you see this man, you can cross most streets in any direction, even diagonally so that you don't have to wait twice at one intersection.  Doesn't he look jolly?

This is their "Men at Work" sign.  I love that he is digging. 

I think this is my favorite sign of all.  I've seen it in a few places.  It's this random FYI: Just so everyone knows, this is is a hot spot for old people that walk with canes... this is that place.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Oh Holy Night

With Thanksgiving over and done, tonight's FHE (family home evening) was devoted to Christmas.  Our 3ft plastic tree is dripping with ornaments along with a nearby plant.  The owner of our rental kindly left several decorations, including an advent calendar.  We sang Christmas carols, decorated the family room and even made gingerbread houses; good old fashioned family fun.  Soo many things to be grateful for, and all stemming from the reason for the season, Jesus Christ.  "Fall on your knees, O hear the angels voices, O night divine, O night when Christ was born..."

In case you can't find it, the smallish green thing that I am holding is the tree.  This picture is also proof that Preston was part of the festivities.

Annie trimming the tree.

Owen found some broken reindeer antlers and a knitted santa.  He was very pleased with both items.

Annie and Simon finding another tree to decorate.

This lovely cross stitched advent calendar.  I will need to tie candy to the ribbons. 

An action shot making the gingerbread houses (I found these at Ikea for the equivalent of $4... wonder if they are available in Utah.)

Dad helping A.J.

Dad helping Calvin.

Calvin with crazy eyes for that house.

Simon displaying the results of his labors.
Let the Christmas season begin!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gobble, Gobble!

Just finished our Thanksgiving dinner celebration.  26 people in all; 10 missionaries, 1 Chinese tutor and boyfriend, 1 lovely downstairs neighbor, family of 6, and 7 Smiths.  The food was fine, the company was great, and the day was chaotic.  Due to the random array of guests, I prepared the entire Thanksgiving feast (with the help of my sous chef Ryan.) The small fridge was an obsticle, making it unpractical to prepare any of the dishes in advance.  To complicate matters, throw in a 10:30 to 1:30pm church time.  I sprinted home after services to get crackin on the food, which included: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans with bacon, homemade rolls, raspberry honey butter, cranberry orange relish with hot cocoa and pumpkin cake squares for dessert. The works.  

The real kicker for the day came, though, 17 minutes before the start of church, when I remembered that I WAS TEACHING RELIEF SOCIETY TODAY (the women's church meeting), and that in this ward, Relief Society is at the beginning of church.  AHHHHHHH!  The lesson was on a talk from General Conference but I couldn't remember which one (typical) so I sprinted to the church, ever so casually asked the Bishop, and was able to bum an Ensign off of one of the missionaries, because my computer was having trouble with the wifi at the building (what the what!) Lucky for me, and the entire group, I had already read the talk so I was somewhat familiar with it's contents. All in all, I can honestly say it was one of the best lesson's I have ever given (go figure... a total blessing)   It's been a wacky day, full of exciting drama, danger, potential failure and humiliation, success, miracles, and delicious food.  My kind of day.  

No turkey leftovers.  Enough for the night, but no leftovers... so very sad.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Italian "Flow"

The house that we are currently renting came fully furnished, complete with about 100 self help books. I am in the midst of reading "Emotional Intelligence" which is actually a real page turner.  I just got through reading about a term called "flow." It's when you have achieved a perfect rhythm with a particular activity.  For example, athletes call this state "being in the zone." I experienced flow today at a restaurant in downtown Edinburough called "Bar Italia."  The food was simply fantastic.  The whole family had walked about two miles, we were starving, and so we randomly ducked into this place, only to discover that Heaven might actually be here in Scotland. I almost started crying during the meal, the food was that good. The owner is a genuine Italian. Nuff said.

An interior shot of the best restaurant in the entire city.

A picture of Preston's hazelnut gillato.  Mercy. It was fantastic.

Pana Cotta in the middle, with towers of whipped cream topped with golden raisons.  It was wonderful. Love the little Italian flag sticking up out of the middle of it.

Pioneer children sang as they walked and ran and walked and ran. Preston was the camera man. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cake Friday

Unlucky for me, I am on the wrong continent to capitalize on monster sales before Christmas.  Happy Black Friday, ya'll.  Lucky for me though, was that today was "Cake Friday."  Apparently once a month the women in our ward (congregation) get together at the church for soup (red lentil this time) , bread (fruit cake, which isn't what I normally would eat with soup, but whatev) and vanilla cake with buttercream frosting, which was delicious and made into the shape of a baby carriage. This particular Cake Friday was also a low key baby shower for a gal that just had her third daughter. I have had many "Fun Friday's" but today was my first "Cake Friday" and I am now a fan of both.

Totally cool shower gift!  I didn't take very good pictures of this but in real life it looks like a stuffed animal riding a motorcycle made out of baby supplies.  She found it on the internet.  The same lady made the cake today, so she's an over achiever and I need to keep my eye on her...

Love the bottle cleaners in the back.  Here in Scotland the name diapers is "nappies" and the name for binkies/pacifiers is "dummies." I prefer the Scottish "nappies" and the American "binkie." 

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Happy Thanks giving my fellow Americans!  On this lovely day we had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.  Ryan and the kids didn't have work school off so we are celebrating our day of thanks on Sunday.  In total we will have 23 people for our gathering, and today was the day that I absolutely needed to find a turkey.  I had tried to locate one earlier this week, and had asked around, but was told that all the big turkeys wouldn't be available until a week before Christmas.  Not good news at all.  The store where I usually shop (ASDA) only had small, little, puny turkeys.  Costco also had small, sad little turkeys, but at a higher cost.  As I finished my shop, I got a very real clear prompting to go to a specific store that I had never been to before, and I knew I needed to get there in haste. I followed my impression and went into the store.  An employee told me that he doubted that they had any turkeys, but pointed me to the freezer section where they might be.  As I scanned the area, I once again located the small wee turkeys, and then saw it: the turkey that Scrooge bought for Bob Cratchit's family, 35 pounds. I almost started crying, feeling so loved and cared for by my Heavenly Father for sending me to Sainsbury's on Thanksgiving Day.   I bought it on the spot. So many things to be thankful for, including a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.  Eat yourselves silly.

Isn't it lovely?! I had to remove a shelf in my minuscule fridge just to fit it inside.  My 35 pound turkey cost $55.78 (please don't tell Ryan) and weighs 21.5 pounds... you didn't think the turkey actually weighed 35 pounds, did you? It cost 35 pounds, and will be worth every penny/pence. 

Annie and I were looking a bit shaggy, so I cut both of our fringe (bangs) today.  Don't we match!

Simon Smith ready for bed.

Preston cuddling with Owen in his bed.  What a good big brother.

Calvin posing for the picture, but reading his scriptures for real.  10 points for Polworth (his school  house name. I used to say 10 points for Gryffindore, but since they actually belong to a house I now offer fake points to their real house instead.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dry Tickly Cough Syrup

You know how sometimes you hold your breath, waiting for something bad to happen, and then when it finally does you feel a sense of relief because at long last you no longer have to dread it happening because it's finally here?  We are finally sick in Scotland with monster colds.  Annie looked fine as she left for school but "got sick in class," meaning she puked while drinking her snack milk (a little treat that all the students get around 10am.) I think her excitement about the class field trip into the forest overpowered her feelings of illness for just long enough to get her into class... Poor girl.  Many have runny noses and all are a wee bit cross.  Thank heaven for medicine, and that we are celebrating Thanksgiving this year on Sunday (no one has Thursday off), giving us 4 more days to feel better. Chin up.

This is what medicine looks like in Scotland.  It took much longer to pick out than normal because all of the brands and even the active ingredients have different names than what I am used to buying.  I hope I don't do permanent damage.  I don't know how well the "Dry Tickly Cough Syrup" works, but I had to purchase it on name originality alone.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to make the BEST cup of Cocoa

Our Church's youth group (kids ages 12-18) meets once a week.  Here in Edinburgh they gather on Tuesday nights. Often, they meet and do a service project learn a new skill... the activity this evening was to figure out how to make the best cup of cocoa ever.  The group of 6 young men and their leaders came to our house to conduct their research. After careful consideration, the boys determined that the best cup of Cocoa is made by:

1. Adding 1 heaping tablespoon of three different cocoas to a cup.
2.  Pour in enough milk to make a runny syrup consistency.
3. Add a teaspoon of sugar (just to be sure that it is sweet enough)
4. Add boiling hot water to warm the mixture.
5. Place a generous scoop of whipped cream on top.

The group posing in the kitchen.  Used the flash. I made sticky popcorn for them to munch on, and by the end of the night we were all going through this somewhat painful sugar rush.

The group still posing, this time without the flash.  If I don't say so myself, Preston is one handsome 13 year old. He's also towering over me now.  Ryan has him by just an inch.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Feeling Peckish?

Today I was able to do a little bit of Visiting Teaching (a program in the Mormon church where women go in pairs to visit/ hang out/ help/ teach each other by assignment, assuring that everyone is looked after.) I arrived at a sister's home for a visit (we call members of the church "brother" or "sister" because we are all God's children.) She has the most amazing view of Edinburgh.  As we removed our coats she asked if we were feeling peckish. I didn't know how to respond because I'm not yet fluent in Edinburgh lingo, but my friend replied that she had a very light breakfast and would love a treat.  We were brought over to a table that had a cheese platter, a meat platter, a basket of a variety of bread rolls, hummus, and flat bread crackers, and juice.  Mercy. I have always loved visiting teaching, but today my testimony of this great program was certainly increased when I showed up to a delicious, complete, unexpected full meal.  I'm a bit like a man that way, the way to my heart is through my stomach.

Ryan's Idea. The contest.  Which piece of toast tastes better?  The slice spread in Nutella, or the slice spread in Cadberry Chocolate Cream Cheese. A blind taste test.

Though both spreads have their strengths, the depth of flavor found in the hazelnut chocolate spread of Nutella was the clear winner over the candy-sweet flavor of the chocolate cream cheese. Now we all know. 

Reading with the kids just before bedtime.  A favorite time for all of us.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Few of Our Favorite Things...

Owen (4 yrs): "Castles and dressing up." (Stirling) Mommy likes that too.

Annie (7 yrs): "School."  So glad that she chose this one because: This is her second year of school, and her first year was only half day, with half of that spoken in Chinese. Her Scottish counterparts are now into their third year of full time school.  We have our school work cut out for us.

Simon (9):  "All the people." He could make friends with anyone, of any gender, race, creed, or species.

Calvin (10):  "My Bedroom." Due to luck and good negotiation skills, he got the bedroom all the kids wanted.  It's orange, with a great view of the church and mission home.

Preston (13): "The sweet shop" He gets to leave school during breaks and lunch and there is a candy shop  close by.  It is a new favorite, especially the toffee bonbons.

Lindsey (34): "Running along the canal." It is literally a quarter mile from our home.  Jogging East gives me a perfect 2.5 mile roundtrip run, and I get to see riverboats, kayakers, dogs and ducks.

Ryan (36): "The rain-stained stone buildings." Yes, there are lots of those.

We all love the Scottish accents, the shortbread cookies, singing in the rain, hot chocolate, and our new friend Lia (short for Liahona), our GPS unit that gets us from point A to point B, though usually not in the most direct route.

When you turn it on in the car, it reads "Drive Like a Local."
There is noooo way that I'm drivin like a local, unless they also chant, "Stay on the left side! Stay on the left side!"

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stirling Castle, Scotland, UK, Earth

Road trip! Well, more like a one hour drive to Stirling, Scotland.  Below you will find pictures of the Smiths in Stirling that will blow your mind, and convince you that you really should ditch buying Christmas gifts this year and throw every spare cent into that Scottish Uk trip you have always fantasized about. For souvenirs, Calvin, Simon and Owen got swords in sheaths, Annie got a wooden bow with suction-cup-tipped arrows, and Preston got accidentally kicked in the face by a sibling. Them's the breaks.

"The Falcon" restaurant in Stirling.  You know you are in an authentic Scottish restaurant when the carpet is plaid.

The condiments at the table.  Brown sauce is like thick worcestershire sauce. Salad cream tastes like miracle whip with mustard.

Plenty of chips.  Didn't realize there were so many of us in stripes until I saw this pic.

The view from Stirling Castle.  The tower to the left on the hill is the WIlliam Wallace monument.

They had dress up in the castle!  I just tried to look natural, like a queen pondering my kingdom. Clearly it worked.

Owen!  Love that boy and his cheesy grin.

I really think the hat completes Preston's whole ensemble.

Simon loved this jacket. He loves the color green.

Calvin striking a royal pose.

Sitting in the royal thrones. 

Seems very Lady Hawk-ish.  I love that movie.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Children in Need Day

Today is the UK's National fundraiser for children in need. According to the BBC: "BBC Children in Need gives grants to organisations in the UK working with children who have mental, physical or sensory disabilities; behavioural or psychological disorders; are living in poverty or situations of deprivation; or suffering through distress, abuse or neglect." It was all over the radio, there were tons of items at the stores with the mascot, Pudsey.  In a show of support for the event, many children wore spots today to match the spots on Pudsey's eyepatch.  Last year this fundraiser brought in about £42,000,000 ($67,200,000 USD)!  That's a lot of needy children that will get help. 

  Owen's pre-school had "wear spots day."  We made this shirt with markers. We saw several kids and adults that were wearing spots today as well.

A card we got for making a donation at Costco, with Ryan as the hand model.

I love the bear with the spotted eye patch.  It just seems so pathetic, dramatic and needy.  In talking with Ryan about Pudsey, I said "who really wears an eye patch?!" He said "You did." And it's true.  I wore an eye patch in 2nd grade for having a "lazy eye."  I was so horrified by the thing that I told everyone at school that I had been in a fire and that my eye was healing.  My 7-year old self thought it better a fire than to be officially declared "lazy" by a doctor... still makes me sad to think about.