Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Reformation Day

On October 31, 1517, Luther posted his 95 thesis on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, unknowingly sparking the Protestant Reformation.

His intent was to initiate a debate on the doctrine and practices of indulgences, but instead, this event sparked a controversy that resulted in the excommunication of Luther and his followers in 1520 ... and the Lutheran tradition was born. This eased the later creation of the Reformed and Anabaptist traditions.

Check out the Internet Christian Library (iclnet.org) to read Luther's 95 Theses.

Laundry!

Since moving to Scotland a month ago, I have begun to learn how to line dry our laundry. Dryers are rare here, so line drying is really our only choice.

The kids love hearing the washing machine in the morning because it means we are heading out to the garden after breakfast to play while mom hangs the laundry.

This is a hard time of year to learn how to line dry clothing, with autumn rains arriving and winter cold on its way.

So how do I dry my clothes when it is raining and cold?

As you might have guessed ... dry them inside.

We have these great racks that fit one small load of laundry. Our prime drying spot is the living room, so most days of the week, our home is strewn with laundry.

Our flat, along with most housing in Scotland, is heated by radiators.

They have great racks that fit directly onto radiators for the very purpose of drying clothes on rainy days.

I reserve this prime drying space for the harder-to-dry items, like jeans and thick pajamas.

After an hour or two, I flip the pants over to dry the other side.

Another fancy trick I discovered for larger items, like bed sheets, is to hang them between two dining room chairs.

I was pleasantly surprised that this sheet was dry in only a few hours (and it was a fun "hiding place" for the kids while it dried).

Stay tuned for tips and more information about my journey into the realm of line drying.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Blitz-It Friday

Grab My Blog Button!This week I blitzed on three separate occasions, just because it is such a great way to get things done.

First I blitzed the kitchen. This is one of my least favorite chores, and sometimes I let it get really bad. Monday was one of those days. The only way to motivate myself to tackle the mess was to set the timer and tell myself I only had to work on it for 10 minutes. I was moving so fast that I finished the entire kitchen (except the floor) before the timer went off.

On Wednesday I set my timer for 20 minutes to pick up and vacuum the entire house. No deep cleaning, just putting away all the stuff that clutters our living room, kitchen table, dresser tops, etc. And the floors really needed a good vacuum. I almost finished in time, but I was still moving the couch back when the timer beeped.

My last blitz was yesterday, a beautiful sunny morning. It was really a desperate attempt to get my laundry out on the lines early enough to dry completely. With the "help" of my kids, I managed to change the sheets and duvets on all the beds, hang up three loads of laundry, and clean the kitchen floors. I forgot to turn the timer on, but we got so much done in high speed.

I love blitzing! I need to use this method everyday. Imagine how much I could accomplish!

Happy Blitzing.

Family pictures!

A friend here in Aberdeen took some great pictures of our family on campus last week. Aren't these terrific? I was very pleased that she was able to capture Abigail and Joshua so well!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What if it is raining?

I have been functioning without a clothes dryer for almost a month now. This is a hard time of year to learn how to line dry clothing, with autumn rains arriving and winter cold on its way. So how do I dry my clothes when it is raining and cold?

As you might have guessed ... dry them inside.


We have these great racks that fit one small load of laundry. The clothes can take up to 24 hours to dry. But sometimes I can hang them outside in the wind for a few hours and cut down the drying time.

The racks have to be placed in a warm, ventilated room. This rules out the bathroom, or any convenient place to "hide" the laundry. Our prime drying spot is the living room - the one room that is kept fairly warm throughout the evenings. I also set the racks right next to the heat source.

So most days of the week, our home is strewn with laundry and looks something like this...


Our flat, along with most in Scotland, is heated by radiators.
There are these great racks that fit directly onto radiators, made for drying clothing on rainy days.


I try to reserve this prime drying space for the harder-to-dry items, like jeans and thick pajamas.

After an hour or two, I flip the pants over to dry the other side.


Another fancy trick I discovered for larger items, like bed sheets, is the dining room chairs. I was pleasantly surprised that this sheet was dry in only a few hours (and it was a fun "hiding place" for the kids while it dried).



There are other great racks and drying units that people use. One that I have heard about, and want to find for myself, is something like this "spinner" sock dryer.

I have also seem much more "open" drying racks that allow clothes to "breath" more than my racks do. These would probably shorten the drying time significantly, but they also require more room around the radiators than we have in our flat.

If you are thinking about line drying your clothing, I would like to encourage you to explore all the possibilities. There are such great benefits to line drying - extend the life of your clothes, save energy and money, good excuse to get outside, and many more.

And there are great options these days - temporary lines in the shower, drying racks, etc. You also don't have to do everything at once, "cold turkey", like I did. You can always start slowly, drying a few items that are especially prone to "dryer" wear, like socks and underclothing. Or maybe just line dry one load a month.

Stay tuned for tips and more information about my journey into the realm of line drying.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

King's College

The University of Aberdeen is the third oldest University in Aberdeen. It was originally established as King's College in 1495. Much of the original college buildings still remain.

Today, King's College houses the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy for the University of Aberdeen, where my husband studies theology with great men and women from around the world.

King’s College Chapel has been at the heart of this community for 500 years. The students still gather here each morning for prayer before classes begin. It is incredible to become a part of the spiritual history of this place!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Beautiful Hydrangeas!

Hydrangeas are very popular here in Aberdeen. We have two of them in our yard. These hydrangeas are primarily dark pinks. I have never seen such deep color in hydrangeas before, although they seem to be the same breed that we have in the United States.

I am fascinated by these beautiful plants. Their color is based on the presence of aluminum in the soil; which is normally determined by the pH balance. Blue colors are produced in very acidic soils. Neutral or alkaline soil produces pink flowers.

Our home and garden is brightened by the incredible colors created by the extreme alkaline levels here! Beautiful!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Walking!

Our primary mode of transportation here in Scotland is ... walking. This great buggy (stroller) has seen a lot of miles in it's short time here.

We walk 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles) to the grocery store, load up the great basket under the seats, and walk home with the loot.

Yesterday morning we walked about 3 kilometers to church downtown to hear a friend preach.

It was a beautiful morning - very overcast, but there was a break in the rain and we decided to take our chances. It rained during church, but had stopped when we were ready to start walking again.

We stopped at the grocery store on our way home. It rained while we were in the store, but again, stopped when we were ready to continue our walking.

I am enjoying the exercise, but it is taking some serious mental adjustments to not have a car. We may eventually purchase a car here, but we decided to wait for a while before making a final decision. So, for the time being, we are out for a walk.

Menu Plan Monday


We finally have our new refrigerator and we are thrilled. We have had salad several times this week and our shopping trip today stuffed the fridge full of wonderful, fresh fruits and veggies!

Here is what I am going to try for this week:

Menu for this week:
  • Monday --Jacket Potatoes

  • Tuesday -- Chicken Chili (Crockpot) - I am adapting a few recipes and substituting some ingredients with what I can find here. I'll post the recipe if it turns out well.

  • Wednesday -- Enchilada Casserole

  • Thursday -- Sausage Potato Soup

  • Friday -- Homemade Pizza

  • Saturday -- Ham & Cheese Melts

  • Sunday -- Tikka Masala - this is definitely a new family favorite.

Question of the week: What foods would you try if you were in Scotland / UK for three years?

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

British Summer Time

British Summer Time (a.k.a. Daylight Savings Time) came to an end today.

Across the European Union, everyone moved their clocks back one hour returning to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), Western European Standard Time.

Our friends and family in the U.S. don't return to Standard Time until November 1, 2009. For the next week, we are an hour closer to U.S. time.

Tomorrow morning the sun will rise here in Aberdeen at 7:06 am, and set at 4:37 pm.

Here come short days and long nights ... in other words, winter!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Two-year Molars

Abigail has recently been putting her little fingers in her mouth all the time. I thought we had gotten passed this phase.

The other night, while brushing her teeth, I noticed that she had two new molars breaking through the gums in the back.

That's right, my little 21-month-old has gotten two of her two-year-molars and the next two should be coming in any day.

At least she doesn't get too upset by new teeth - no fever and only a little extra grouchiness!

She has always gotten her teeth earlier than average ... I guess I shouldn't be surprised that she got her two-year's early also!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Outside view of our flat

Now for a few pictures of the outside view of our new home in Scotland.

We live on the upper floor of this beautiful, 100-year-old house.


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The red door is the entrance to our flat. Once inside, you immediately encounter a steep staircase leading to our flat.


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Here is the view of our back garden (this is what they call yards), as seen from the kid's room.
And, yes, that is our laundry hanging on the line.


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Here you can see the back of the house in this view from the back garden.
We share the garden with the downstairs neighbors, but we rarely encounter them.
They are both Engineering students at the University; one is from Greece, the other from Belgium.


~~
And this is the view we enjoy from our living room window.
The field on the far side of the wall belongs to the University. We have the pleasure of watching practice most days - lacrosse, rugby, fut ball (soccer).

I have enjoyed watching these beautiful trees slowly change colors, revealing that fall is here.

Coming soon ... pictures of Aberdeen and the University!

The Lost Art of Line Drying

Since moving to Scotland a month ago, I have begun to explore the lost art of line drying our laundry.

This change was not by choice, but is not entirely unwelcome; it's just that dryers are rare here, especially in rental property. Line drying is really our only choice.

I admit some trepidation about this new chore, but so far it has been fun for us.

The kids love hearing the washing machine in the morning because it means we are heading out to the garden after breakfast.

But now fall have come in full force and the rains have moved in. How do you dry your laundry when it is raining out?

As we learn the answer to this question and many others, I'll write some follow up posts. In the mean time, check out this great introduction to the lost art of line drying.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Making ourselves at home...

Finally, the long awaited post about our new home in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Our new apartment is technically not a flat; it is a semi-detached house duplex -- semi-detached because it is connected to another house on only one side; house because we have our own entrance; duplex because the ground floor is rented separately. We are up on the second floor.

Today, I'll be giving you a tour of the inside of our fully furnished house. The house was built more than 100 years ago, but has been fully updated. The front door is on the ground floor. When you first enter, you encounter the steep, tall staircase that leads you up to our apartment.


The first door you encounter, starting on the left, is the kid's bedroom.
This room overlooks the back garden (they call all yards a "garden").


Joshua had no trouble transitioning to sleeping in a normal size bed. I was nervous because their beds are much higher off the ground. He fell out of bed a few times while we were staying at a bed & breakfast, but has not had any incidents since we moved in here.

Abigail is sleeping in a borrowed pack & play. She is ready to be in her own bed, but we have not located a good deal on a crib or toddler bed yet.

In addition to the beds, they have a dresser and a desk in their room, though we are looking to move the desk to another room.


The next room is the long, skinny bathroom.

It has taken a little time to become accustomed to the bathtub / shower being exposed on three sides.


The last door on the left leads to the eat-in kitchen (meaning that the dining table is in the kitchen, instead of a separate dining room).

This is a beautifully done kitchen. I was amazed to find a kitchen this nice in a rental. The refrigerator / freezer is in the cupboard doors on the far right. The dishwasher is also hidden behind a cupboard-looking door.


Here is our dining table, though two of the chairs were being used in the living room when I took these pictures.



Just off the kitchen is a long hallway with a utility sink and plenty of storage.
The closet at the end houses the washing machine and water heater.




Across the hall from the kitchen is the living room.

This room has a beautiful bay window. The pictures may not show it very well, but we have very high ceilings, making the rooms feel larger.

It has two nice, leather couches (one is a hide-a-bed, for visitors), a sturdy coffee table and a beautiful fire place. We are already talking about romantic fires on cold winter nights.



Next we come to the master bedroom.

I love the big window in this room. It looks a little crowded from the doorway, but there is plenty of room for us.

There is a three-door wardrobe that we share with the kids. We moved the bookshelf from the kids room -- Darren needed shelf space more than the rest of us.


Lastly, there is a little door next to our room, across from the kids room. It looks like a closet, then you open it to find a steep staircase leading to the loft.

Technically because of some housing code, they have to list this as storage space, but there is more than enough room for a bed and all our storage stuff.

This concludes the tour of our flat. We have made ourselves at home and thoroughly enjoy our new place. The kids still need some storage units for their toys and books. And I really need to figure out how to organize our limited cupboards and drawers. But this place is wonderful and was definitely a God-thing.

And there is great space for anyone who wants to visit! Come see it for yourself!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Menu Plan Monday


Our first week back on menu planning went fairly well. We found some good substitutes for a few items in our favorite recipes. I'm looking forward to exploring the grocery stores here in Scotland for all the interesting new things we can add to our meals.

We still don't have our new refrigerator yet (the one in our flat is broken). They are now telling us it will be here by Thursday. This tiny icebox just doesn't hold very much. And with the grocery store about a mile away (walking with two toddlers), I can't go shopping every day for refrigerated ingredients.

Here is what I am going to try for this week:

Menu for this week:
  • Monday -- Baked Potatoes - or jacket potatoes, as they call them here. They love to put all sorts of things inside a baked potato; meat, cheese, veggies, etc.

  • Tuesday -- Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

  • Wednesday -- BBQ Pork Sandwiches

  • Thursday -- Shepherd's Pie

  • Friday -- Homemade Pizza

  • Saturday -- Taco Bar

  • Sunday -- Yellow Thai Curry

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blitz-It Friday

Grab My Blog Button!
Organized Everyday is hosting a new carnival called Blitz-it Friday. If you have no idea what a blitz is, check out the original one hour blitz and staying focused.

Wow. I haven't blitzed in such a long time. Now I'm just a little late posting about it. We are finally settled enough in our new home to be ready and desperate for a good cleaning blitz. On Friday, I set my timer and started moving as fast as I could.


I started in the kitchen with this mess:

Here's what I did in the first 45 minutes of my blitz:
  • Unloaded the dishwasher
  • Loaded the dishwasher and turned it on
  • Cleared off the kitchen table
  • Hand washed the pans
  • Wiped the counters and stove
  • Swept the kitchen floors

And here was the result:



Next I turned my attention to the kid's room, which they had torn apart earlier in the day.


Here's what I did in the last 15 minutes:
  • Put away clean laundry
  • Made the kid's beds
  • Folded and put away the kid's clothes
  • Vacuumed the hall, living room, kid's room
And here was the end result.

The timer started to beep just as I put away the vacuum cleaner.
What a great hour of blitzing!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday


We have been in our new flat in Aberdeen, Scotland for just over a week. I am desperate to establish routine and order in our lives, and decided meal planning was a good place to start.

There are a few challenges to my menu planning this week. We are in a foreign country where things are just different enough that I am not sure what products I can still find.

We also don't have our new refrigerator yet; instead we have a tiny little "icebox" that have very little room for anything.

Lastly, we have no car (and two toddlers), so every trip to the store I can only buy what I can carry back in our double stroller. I am amazed at how warm I stay, even in the wind, when I am pushing 130+ pounds up a hill in a stroller (oops, "buggy", I should say, or "push chair" or "pram").

Here is what I am going to try for this week:

Menu for this week:
  • Monday -- Beef and Broccoli - we are going to try a new Oyster and Onion sauce we found here.

  • Tuesday -- Josh Rogan - they have so much great Indian food here. This is an Indian curry that we have not tried yet.

  • Wednesday -- Chinese Chicken & Cabbage - I have not yet confirmed that all these ingredients are available here. I wonder what substitutes I can find?

  • Thursday -- Spaghetti

  • Friday -- Nachos

  • Saturday -- Baked Potato Bar

  • Sunday -- Turkey Lentil Soup

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Cousins at the Zoo

Back in August, our kids spent a crazy day at the zoo with their cousins.


Poor little Sammy (seen below) fell and bit his tongue.
He had to spend the day at the nurse's station.



Charlie is my newest nephew. He is the sweetest little guy, so easy-going.



Joshua thought Daddy was taking too long to get to the next exhibit.



We saw the most incredible display of rough-housing by these thousand-pound, Polar bears. They were right against the glass in front of us. It was amazing!



The kids were completely transfixed by the bear "fight."




We also got to see the little owl from the show up close and personal.


We had a fun day, though it didn't go exactly as planned.
The kids spent the entire evening talking about the elephants (sorry, no pictures; the camera batteries died).

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