Auf Wiedersehen Twenty Thirteen

You guys, less than two weeks until Will comes home.

Less. Than. Two. Weeks. I may be freakin’ out a little bit on the inside!

So, about our time in Germany and New Year’s Eve.

Will and I aren’t big planners but when we travel we like to have an idea of what we should see and do in a place and have a “top 3” list. But for Germany there was no plan; we were both just so happy to be together that we didn’t care that we didn’t make any plans.

I will admit that before leading up to Christmas I was a little frustrated that Will wasn’t coming to Edinburgh and I was the one who had to make the trek. It would have been so much easier if he came to me and it would have been nice to have him home for Christmas. But, honestly, I don’t think I could have let him leave again: not that it’s been any easier for me to be the one leaving! Saying goodbye either way has been hard for both of us. As soon as I got there I instantly knew we made the right call with me going to him. If he had come to Edinburgh there would have been so much to do and people to see that we would have spent waaaaay too much time and money trying to fit everything in. It would have been packed. Packed with good things like seeing friends, but packed none the less. With me in Tübingen we were able to have a nice lazy holiday! Something I know I was really craving.

Since Tübingen is so small, and I pretty much saw everything when I visited in November, there wasn’t much left to do. We cooked together a lot, I read all three Hunger Games books, we stayed up late, slept in late, went to a couple of pubs, watched movies, baked sugar cookies, took walks, and went on a day trip to Heidelberg (that’s for another post). It was a supremely lazy holiday!

For New Year’s Eve we met up with one of his friends at a local pub then went to another friend’s for dinner and fireworks. Now, my picture’s for fireworks don’t really do the whole experience justice because there were a ton of trees around, but hopefully the video will give you an idea as to how crazy the fireworks were! Seriously, there were fireworks going off all over the place! It was amazing!

Pretty cool, right?!

I’m such a fan of New Year’s Eve. I really do love it. And as I’m getting older I’m feeling more and more sentimental towards it. Maybe it was our being apart this year that has intensified these feelings but it feels like the one of the more important things Will and I do in our marriage. It’s simple, and almost implied that we’re together on this holiday (much like we should be for every holiday), but it means so much to me to make sure we’re together specifically for those last and first minutes.

It felt a little easier to breathe on this trip than on the last because we had so much time together. So much time to hold hands, tell stories, make future plans, and talk about the year we’ve just been through and plan for the year ahead.

I don’t know about you, but 2013 was pretty good. Will passed his 1 year review boards for his PhD, I took on a new role at work, we started going to a new church, we both started to feel settled in Edinburgh, we officially have lived in our flat for longer than anywhere else we lived in together, we saw more of Scotland (and England), we saw more of Europe, we got to play host to our awesome friends and family who came to visit, we celebrated four wonderful years of marriage, Will got several reviews published (!!), I started a new decade (hello 30!), and we made new friends all while strengthening old friends here! Great, eh?!

And now, looking ahead onto 2014, there’s so much to look forward to!

Auf wiedersehen twenty thirteen! Hallo twenty fourteen!!

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The Company Xmas Party (AKA: P-Diddy Style 2K14)

So, y’all might hate me but I’m currently in Venice… with my love! Yep, Will and I found this great deal on Groupon and jumped on the chance to go; especially since it’s drowning/sinking. We met up in London yesterday and flew out this morning. I can’t believe I’m here! It’s one of the places I’ve always dreamed of going. Eeeeeek!

But, I figured now would be as good a time as any to tell you about the company christmas party.

Remember last year’s work Christmas party?

Well, this year was no different. However, I did stay up later (1:30am!) and I enjoyed myself a ton more this year… for a few reasons: more people from the office came, I got to wear the same dress as last year, and my office won second place for business unit of the year!!

Also, the guys wore their kilts! I love kilts!

Note: none of these pictures are mine. I’m borrowing them from my coworkers and the photographer the company hired.

I’m so proud of us!!

The Edinburgh and Belfast staff


I’m pretty sure a Whitney Houston song was playing at this point.

This year was so much fun! Having more people from the office come down made it a ton better than last year.

It also didn’t hurt being acknowledged for all of the hard work we had done that year… on a stage… in front of everyone… with a professional photographer clicking away… while holding an award. I’m just saying ;)

Expat to Expat: December

This past weekend was the Company’s Christmas party so some of us were flown down to London (yes, we were “flown down” just like last year’s party) for the party on Friday night and I stayed on an extra two days to spend some much needed quality time with my favorite engaged couple in Oxford! So, am I’m recovering from a whirlwind weekend here are December’s Expat to Expat questions. It’s about the holiday season and I figured I’d sprinkle in some iPhone photos from this year’s Christmas market.

Has your idea of the holiday season changed since becoming an expat?
It’s changed a little. I think that there are a few things here in Edinburgh that have morphed my idea of Christmas: like mulled wine and German Christmas markets! And Christmas in the UK isn’t that much different than in the States but it does feel almost more nostalgic in a way? And there’s no barrier holiday like Thanksgiving (i.e. my favourite holiday!) to keep all of the Christmas stuff at bay until December. New Year’s (aka: Hogmany) is really big here too and I like that.

How do you build new holiday traditions while keeping ones that remind you of “home”?
Our “home” traditions are pretty basic: eat and be merry! I do miss little things like my dad playing Salsa music or crowding on a couch to watch a movie or a Pernil roasting in the oven for a large Christmas dinner with our friends and family. The past two years have been much more… subdued, and that’s expected. I also feel like Will and I are still trying to figure out what our “traditions” are. I don’t know, ask me in five years!

What about you guys? Are there any family traditions you’ve started or have kept?

Easter

This year for Easter we wanted to have friends over. We wanted to have a big meal. And we wanted to celebrate! So, we invited some friends, we cooked up a feast, and popped some bubbly!

It was a wonderful afternoon! We laughed, prayed, napped, celebrated, chased kids, had an Easter egg hunt, played a movie, and just hung out. Will and I are blessed. Absolutely and overwhelmingly blessed!

Egg-citing!

Yeah, I know that’s a really cheesy title for this but it’s about as creative as I get when it comes to this stuff. The original title was going to be, “Egg Decorating”. See what I mean? So, I just went with the cheesy.
Anyway, last night I went over to a friend’s flat to decorate some eggs. She emailed me saying she wanted to do something like this for Easter and since I hadn’t decorated an egg since I was 10 I thought, “Yay! Something to make me feel creative!” They invited me over for dinner and afterwards we got right down to it. Now, of course I was thinking we were going to decorate hard-boiled eggs… ehem, no. We poked holes in them, blew out the insides, and then nuked them in the microwave to make sure they were good to handle. Yeah, so, now I know how to empty an egg of it’s insides. Good friends are the ones that teach you something new ;)

Of course we had to take a break for tea and ice cream!

And there are our beautifully crafted Easter eggs!
It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. The most complicated part, for me, was trying to figure out how to decorate the egg… like I’ve mentioned, I’m not very creative. I’m also not the biggest fan of decorations. I like them, but 100% content not having to deal with them. I’ve always viewed them as a waste of space because they only come out for their annual event and then stay put away the remainder of the year. To me, that’s pointless. Especially now that I live in a place where space is precious I’m even more hesitant to load up on decorations. But, I will say that being in a place where Will and I are still figuring out our own traditions has made me re-think my stand on decorations. I’m not saying I’ll be busting out an inflatable Santa this Christmas, but, it would be nice to still have these eggs and 7 years down the road while teaching my kid(s) how to decorate eggs I can also tell ’em how when I made these eggs I made Nathalie be a better mom to “Elib” (<– that one’s for you, Nathalie!).
Has anyone designed eggs before? I think next year it would be fun to do a Design*Sponge -esque affair, but maybe not charge $50. What do you think?!

Portobello

About 6 weeks ago it was Australia day… so my friends and I went to Portobello and walked on the beach. Of course, we had just found out it was Australia day when we got there and saw some crazy Australians getting in the water waving their flag around as though they conquered the beach. Um, they conquered crazy town.

But, back to the main point, my friends and I having lunch in Portobello.

We walked along the boardwalk some before grabbing a bite to eat at the Beach House Cafe.

And then we walked back.

And that was it. Nothing fancy to report here, just a nice time with some great friends on a beautiful day in Scotland :)

Happy New Year!

Last year Will and I were in Paris for New Year’s Eve with my family.  It was a wonderful experience welcoming the new year from beneath a sparkly Eiffel Tower!

This year we were staying in Edinburgh to experience Hogmanay. We had heard so many great things about it. Apparently there is free music, some vendors, and tons a people. I think it rivals New York’s Time Square. We didn’t feel that it was necessary to fork over the £30 to stand in Princes Street so we met up with some friends to ring in the New Year from Calton Hill.

Sorry for the blurry picture. The rest are better, I promise. There wasn’t really a countdown but the fact that we had fireworks going off from the castle and fireworks going off on Calton Hill made it for a 360degree experience!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!! I hope your 2013 has started off well!

Merry Christmas!

This Christmas was a great one. Christmas Eve we had some friends over for a potluck dinner.

Then it was Christmas morning!!

Ha, look at how sad our fake Christmas tree looks! Will and I decided to get a fake one this year but went super cheap and so our tree super sucks. But, we live and we learn and we get better trees the following year. Last year we didn’t get a tree so this is still an upgrade.
Do you like our awesome wrapping jobs? Both of us ended up getting the other’s gift on Christmas Eve. I had one of Will’s friends pick his up for me and bring it over when he came over for the potluck dinner. Will left our flat without telling me (I discovered this when I called his name and realized I was alone) and when he came back out of breath I knew what was up… my present was here! Needless to say, the Trader Joe’s bag and the UR blanket made for easy clean up; and that’s important.

Will got me some Hunter wellies and I added to his whiskey collection! We also had a couple extra gifts from a friend and my secret santa at work. Both Will and I get frustrated with how stressful the Christmas season can feel and have decided that we want our Christmases be as simple as possible and one way we’ve decided to do that is to get each other only one gift. That way we can give one really nice thing without breaking the bank.
The rest of the day was spent lounging and listening to music and crafting. I had bought a bunch of jars from various charity shops to fill them up with various food but had them grouped on my counter taking up precious space.

Well, I wanted to label them and when I saw this picture on Pinterest I thought I’d give it a go. Chalkboard’s really trendy right now, right?

So, what do you think?
I hated it. It didn’t look nice or clean. Fail.
Then, I remembered I have an awesome typewriter and decided to try that. Ta daaaaaa!

I liked it. Or at least I liked it more than the chalkboard labels. Will thinks the labels are unnecessary and part of me agrees with him but I wanted to try it out.

So, what do you think? Did you like the chalkboard labels or did they do less than nothing for you too?

Have you tried any Pinterest ideas? Which ones? Did they work out?

Thanksgiving

I know I know, I’m over 2 weeks late with this one.
Anyway, I had mentioned before we had our friends come over for Thanksgiving and were also inviting our neighbors too. Well, zero neighbors showed up for lunch BUT we did have 20 people in our flat for dinner!
I seasoned the turkey (only my second turkey ever making!) and made mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and an apple pie. All homemade! I felt very Rachel Ray-y… you know, awesome in the kitchen.

Not a bad spread, eh?! We had turkey, ham, stuffing, mac and cheese and mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, salad, cranberry sauce, pumpkin bread, biscuits, cornbread, and finger rolls. And, that doesn’t include the desserts. There was pumpkin pie, apple pie, cupcakes, and scottish tray bakes! Seriously, we all ate like kings and queens.
I think the best part was our British friends who made traditional Thanksgiving dishes. It meant the world to me how they wanted to contribute to an authentic holiday.

Of course we went around saying what we were thankful for and community was the number one pick. None of use in the room were from Edinburgh which means we all understood each other’s craving to find our place here in this city and our community. It’s been so evident how important community is in life and God has provided that for us in ways I could never have imagined.
What were you most thankful for?