Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wedding Cake

The Challenge: Make a three tiered wedding cake for a women's church event, without using a hand held mixer (because ours broke last month and I am too cheap to replace it), and without using cake pans (because we can only take a few things back home with us when we leave, and cake pans aren't on the list, so there's no way I was going to buy them.)

Yikes.  I went with a white almond cake, with raspberry filling and cream cheese butter frosting.  I measured some pots and found three different sizes that would stack nicely. I should have used fondant, but it mattereth not.  What it lacked in appearance it made up in taste. Almost all three tiers were devoured, but I managed to take a few slices home.  All but Annie had a sample. She stayed home from church today due to a wicked stomach bug, and can't keep anything down. Poor girl.


Roses are cool.  I love the hot pink tips with the white petals.  I used to think that yellow roses were my favorite, but I'm branching out.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Invited for Dinner

What a lucky weekend the Smith Family have had! Last night our family friend Nicola had us over for dinner (an amazing spread of olives, garlic bread, caesar salad and pork meatballs in a baked pasta dish.) For dessert we got to hear her daughter Georgia play the harp (mercy, it was fantastic!) I made some triple chocolate chip cookies to go along with the night.  Could the weekend get better? Why yes, it could!  Tonight we were treated to another wonderful dinner, this time courtesy of Mrs. Marianne Nielsen.  She hales from Germany and my goodness, the goulash was to die for.  Following was schnitzel, a large couscous salad, a fried cheese avocado dish, I brought a raspberry almond salad, we had ice cream and biscuits, and then watched Fantastic Mr. Fox.  To invite a crew of 7 to dinner is no small task. Two dinner invites in a row really does feel like Christmas in June. Thank you to all of my brave friends, for sharing your homes, your time, your talents, and your food.  My heart and belly are full tonight!

I wonder how I would do at whack-bat...

Friday, June 28, 2013


Today was the last day of school for everyone but Owen.  Finally.  Nine long, fun, difficult, beautiful months studying in Scotland have come and gone. Preston was called an S2 here, and will be a Freshman (9th grader) at Mueller Park Jr. High.  Calvin, finished his P7 year and would be going into S1, but returns to Bountiful as a 6th grader. Simon, now a P5 going into P6, will return to enter 4th grade.  Annie Joy, finished her P3 year and will be a 2nd grader (thanks to a Chinese tutor she will head back into the Chinese immersion program at Muir.)  Growin Owen passed nursery school with flying colors and will be starting kindergarten.  I graduated from Edinburgh New Town Cookery School, and Ryan is working on his Phd. Time has flown, and crawled, by.  School here in Scotland has taught us many things, not the least of which is that change is hard.   Leaving Bountiful was hard. Coming to Edinburgh was hard.  Adjusting to the culture here: hard.  Eating haggis: not hard, especially when it is deep fried, rolled in coconut and served with a mango salsa, the way it has been prepared for centuries.  Leaving Scotland will be hard.  The clock ticks on. Whilst everyone was still in school, I could mentally put off the impending change of returning home.  But no longer.  School is over, the count down to return is getting shorter, and I will miss 85 Colinton Road more than I care to contemplate.  As for skiving?  It means ditching or playing hookey, which is what Preston did today.

This is where Preston went to school this year: Boroughmuir Secondary School... but not today, because he was skiving.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Ryan posting tonight.

Calvin's graduation to secondary school today.  That would be like him graduating to go to high school in the states, crazy young in my opinion, but it seems to work in the UK.  Cal had mixed emotions today. He will miss many of his friends here, but he is also excited to get back.  He asked me why he felt like crying.  My explanation did not cut it.  But his big brother's explanation, that Preston himself when he was emotionally hysterical at 6th grade graduation in Bountiful and we physically had to remove him from the school seemed to resonate with Cal.  I cried a few times during the graduation today, but Lindsey did not.  I guess the boys can blame me for the gushing.

Tonight we had Jade over for a discussion with the missionaries.  Jade is our new friend who found out about the church by watching a video blog of an LDS family who live in California.  She is an incredible person and we are happy to know her!  The Stevensons came over as well.  We love our sister missionaries!

Polwarth Church, the location for school assemblies near the school was the place for today's graduation.

Cal mastered the moves to Michael Jackson's Thriller for his P7 graduation dance (middle).

Graduation gift is a dictionary and thesaurus.  Entirely practical, just like Cal.

Cal second in from the right.  He will miss Mr. Diagon the most who taught Cal to love learning and did it with a smile and a guitar.

Tonight's enactment of Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah with the Sister Missionaries.  Annie and Owen really got into it.  For one of the first times in our home's history, there were more females than males.  It was a good change of play and the sisters did an amazing lesson targeted at our kids.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Owen's Day

Owen and I went to the beach today for his end of school party.  We walked to the train station where we met the other parents and their lads and lasses that were congregating.  We bought a ticket and boarded the train for a 30 minute ride to Kinghorn Beach.  The train station dropped us right next to the water on a long expanse of sand and shallow water.  Owen loved the day, swam a bit with his school pals.  We ate some chips (fries) and four hours later boarded the train back to Edinburgh.  All in all a fun, tiring day. 

Owen and Aaron, his friend from school.

Owen and Oakely on the cliff, dangerously cute.

Owen and school pals in the North Sea.

I have been writing Owen's name like this as long as I can remember he has been alive.  This is the 'O'-man.

Owen coming out of the sea.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Epic Tuesday

Today was pretty fantastic: Calvin had a big P7 end of the year Quali dance.  They had some dances that they had been working on for the last month, and 6 weeks ago a friend and fellow basketball player asked Calvin if he would do some of the dances with her (ooh-la-la.) Owen had his last official day at Tynecastle Nursery School.  We will hit his end of the year party at the beach tomorrow.  The last week of school is finally here (about 3-4 weeks later than our friends in the States.) I'm glad my kids have had 3-4 more weeks to learn...

Calvin with some friends.  He has on a bow tie, so we know it was a success.

A poor quality photo of me and the young women at the Body Shop, right after we got makeovers. Loads of fun.

This is my "after" shot. Don't I look like I'm 19?!

Ryan and the young men (along with our youngest three) had a barbecue at the park tonight. 
Yum, yum.

Monday, June 24, 2013

From Bad to Good

Compared to yesterday, where my children were the most poorly behaved little people that I have experienced in quite sometime, today, Monday, has been wonderful.  In fact, Mondays in general are becoming our favorite day of the week - a real "new start" as it were.  Growing up I overheard adults incessantly talk about how bad Monday's were - back to the grind, up early, etc..  I really do not get it.  

On Monday, Ryan goes back to work, where he can not feel guilty for working all day.  The kids go back to school, spending energy and avoiding potential breakage of lovely items that our landlord keeps in the house we are letting.  I get to make a list of everything I need to get done that week and then get cracking, and sometimes hit laundry and the recycling run all on that first day of the week.

Monday nights, family nights, are something we look forward to the most.  Tonight, our surrogate family, the Gals (real names are removed to protect privacy) came over.  Ryan returned earlier this morning.  Nina, Oar, and Garsh came over as well as the Elders for dinner and a discussion, followed by shoulder, spinning, and fun topped off the night.  I hope the Gals come visit us in Utah next year! 


Garsh Gal with Annie meditating on her head.

Oar Gal supporting Simon who is happy as a lark on her shoulders.  He is always happy as a lark!

This was Elder Park's last Monday night discussion with the Smith / Gal family.  See you on the flip side Elder Park.  Although his shoes will be tough to fill, his replacement, Elder Smile (yes, you got that right) is from New Zealand with a cool accent and should fit the bill.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sticky Toffee

On this, my last night here with my lovely cousin Age, I made her some sticky toffee pudding.  It was delicious, and the company was even better, ay lassie.

It's best served warm, right out of the oven, with some double cream poured on top.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Crazy Town

Disneyland needs to open a new area in their theme park called "crazy town." It will be the special place designated for all kids who decide to go witch cakes even though they have lovely lives; food, clothing, shelter, warmth, love, education, opportunities, and ice-cream.  The best part about "crazy town" is that you don't even need to be in California to go there. You can go there anytime you mix fighting with tantrum with crazy.

Birthday party for a friend. Owen sword fighting.

Owen with loads of his nursery school friends.

For lunch we walked along the canal and ate at a family favorite:  Bar Italia.

Dinner was even better: kidless, Indian, with my cousin, and crazy-town free :~)

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Elephant House

We didn't visit the zoo today, but rather the Elephant House in the Heart of Old Town Edinburgh.  It is a lovely little restaurant/cafe where they serve delicious pastries, a darling cup of cocoa, and where J.K. Rowling herself claimed to write much of her Harry Potter books.  What a lovely start to the morning.  Then we headed to the Museum of Scotland, walked the Royal Mile, and finished up at Edinburgh Castle.  We worked hard today at sightseeing.  I am very proud of my cousin, who did the marathon tour whilst being 5 months pregnant. 10 points to Age.

Brunch at the Elephant Cafe.  What pretty cocoa.

Age just loves elephants.

Edinburgh Castle.  There are of few of them that probably should have stayed behind bars today, but I'm not naming any names.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Visitor Alert!!!

My lovely fantastic cousin Adrieana Chaffin Matthes is here, all the way from Salt Lake City (by way of London where she visited a pal.)  She has already read stories with the kids, watched us fight, and we are currently in the process of rubbing each other's feet.  I am in heaven. We also had field day today, which was great fun.  Annie rocked the races.  Simon had a great time (but I didn't get to witness his glory because I had a crazy allergy attack since I forgot to take my pill this morning. I won't be making that mistake again. True that.

Calvin got to help at the field day today.  He is giving Annie some pre-race advice.  Annie won the race, due to her natural abilities and having such a great coach.

Owen found a leaf, and got some wonderful new sun glasses yesterday.  Lookin good.

The ever popular spoon holding the egg race. Annie knows her eggs and she won this race as well.

Age reading with the kids. Everyone is happy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Owen and I dropped Ryan off at the airport.  He's heading to Colorado, for what I hope is his last trip away from us while we live here. Anywhoo, when we got back home Owen had a bad headache, so I gave him some medicine and had him drink some water.  We cuddled for a bit in my bed while I worked on my computer, read some Scriptures, and surfed the website. He dozed off. And then it hit me. I was tired. I had no obligations for the next 2.5 hours.  My house was relatively clean... and I should be asleep! Right next to Owen! I took an afternoon nap.  I woke up with a puffy head about 2 hours later to a happy little boy, who also enjoyed his nap.  Crazy thoughts keep entering my head. If I can nap, why not also eat a plate of brownies? or watch that 6 hour Pride and Prejudice movie?  It's almost like a nap in the day might be the gateway to other indulgent mom activities. As a child I used to fight nap time.  My own children have often fought nap time. Why oh why. I could get used to a daily nap.

This is what our bed spread looks like.  Our rental is fully furnished, and this is what came with the bed.  I'm pretty sure it's from Ikea.  Ryan really wants to take this back home with us.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ceilidh for Pensioners

For our church's youth group (Mormons) we went to a Ceilidh, which is a Scottish type square dancing event.  It was so much fun.  Little did we know that 90% of the attendees were actually living out their golden years, in their 70's!  There were about 100 pensioners, and a few foreign exchange students as well (teens) that fell into the same trap. The youth about died when we walked into the dancing hall, but their loving leader gently forced them into the room.  The flier said that it was a family dance, so we envisioned both the young and old in attendance (not the case.)  The flier did certainly not indicate that tonight's dance was for intermediate/advanced dancers (as in people who actually knew the long, detailed, confusing routines) which it was.  In spite of of this odd situation (and maybe because of it) we had a great time. In all honesty, it warmed my heart to see the teens dancing with really old people, using manners, hanging in there, and making the best out of a unique situation.

The initial discomfort has no where worn off in this picture.

A while into the dance (after we had messed up their routines long enough) a nice lady volunteered to take us in the foyer and teach us a very simple dance.  

The dancing continued in the parking lot, with a little dance off between a few kids.  One group had no finness (but were funny.)  The other group was more techncally presice, but didn't crack as many jokes while performing.  I had to go with group one, because "funny beats out talent everytime".***

The real phrase is "hard work beats out talent every time," but "funny" is also very important... 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Raised in a Barn

For family night this evening, Ryan and Simon gave an interactive presentation titled "Not raised in a barn."  It was a household manners and etiquette 101, sharing such wisdom as: clean your place after you eat, wear a clean, new pair of underwear every single day, when using the loo you are allowed to use a maximum of 4 squares (repeated up to four times) before you are legally required to flush, brush your teeth twice a day, put your dirty laundry into the laundry basket, put your clean laundry away in your drawer, Nutella is not an afternoon snack... it's mommy's mid-morning reward, and other pearls.  I love FHE (family home evening) and I have always been advocate of "toilet training" for the older crowd.

Bathroom etiquette.  I am certainly going to miss the cat flap in the loo window.

Simon's presentation was enthusiastic and informative.

How lucky that Costco had this cement wall to lean on, for when the shopping just becomes too exhausting, and you need a rest.

Costco parking lot.  Good in the store means licorice with your friend.  He wanted to be a walrus, and his friend Holly wanted to hide.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Super Daddy!

Yeah Dads!  Today we got a chance to celebrate the father in our home, the man behind the dream, the fixer of things, the helper of homework, the bringer home of the bacon... Dad! Thanks for doing your duty, and doing it well.  may my sons grow up to be rad like their dad, and may my daughter choose a man that can take care of the biz like her old man.  Ryan, I love you, feel so blessed to have made 5 kids with you, and want to have 6 more (because they are all so good looking.) XOXOx

The envelope of the Fathers Day card.

After studying the options, this was the card the kids went with. Big and awesome, like their dad.

His favorite of the father's day gifts: Superman Socks.  

Making a yummy breakfast with the help of Annie Joy.  The sausage links are much larger than they are back in the states (+), but we prefer the taste of the sausage back home (-). Nothings perfect.

We had a special youth fireside (church group discussion with teens) tonight on Arthur's Seat/ Pratt's Hill. Our Bishop (Bishop Anderson pictured in the gray t-shirt) challenged us to pick a goal to work on for the rest of the 2013, a six month goal.  We were sent away to pray and think about it, and then we got back on the Hill to discuss. My goal is spend more time reading about the life of the Savior and His ministry.

Preston hanging out with friends during the Fireside.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lothian Beach!

10 point sto Ryan for planning the Saturday family outing. We headed East to dip around on the beach.  The sand was warm, there were loads of shells, and we ended our beach excursion with some fish and chips.  It might not get much better than this ("this" is more a reference to the relative calm and kindness that we all showed each other, rather than the location being fantastic, which it was. Today was a quarrel free day, which is always thrilling.)

Annie discovering the water is very very cold.

Owen playing with the sea weed.

Preston playing in the water in his jeans. Takes forever to dry.

Simon playing hard and having fun.

A littel crab that Preston found while digging in the sand.

The kids and me heading back up the beach to get some grub, with Ryan as the camera man.