Wednesday, February 27, 2013


We interrupt this fabulous vacation for an important quilting announcement and a dose of reality.

I'm unfortunately back from my vacation, which means I'm back to real life. I have to say, vacation is so much better than real life. I will get back to the vacation photos and travel log soon,but for the moment I have to scramble to get my Nancy Drew quilt done in time for the blog hop! I'm scheduled for March 12th, and have many flying geese to go before I sleep.

While the things that made me want to run away from home are still there, I have a different attitude about them now. As an added bonus, I'm also no longer intimidated/self conscious about going into that male bastion, the free weight room, in the health club. It's funny how spending so much time on your own, dealing with everything yourself and meeting new people teaches you about yourself and your fortitude. I found these two quotes that kind of sum it all up for me:

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

I had a fun reminder of my trip this week. One of my bosses happened to be in London for meetings while I was staying with Anne and Matt and he kindly consented to hauling my London purchases home for me in the suitcase I bought at an OxFam charity shop for 5 GBP. (Little did he know how much the fabric and books weighed when he agreed to this!) This is also the boss that keeps me in Belgium chocolates from his travels there, and also hauled my loot home from the New Orleans estate sale in March, so he's a really fabulous guy in my book regardless of all the whining about how heavy my suitcase was (consider please that I had three 75lb checked bags and two 40-50lb carry-ons that I hauled all over Scotland for 3 weeks and through 2 airports all by myself). I brought him a lovely bottle of Scottish whiskey for his pains.
Cath Kidston happiness!
It was like Christmas again this week as I unpacked my English goodies, which consisted mostly of Cath Kidston and Liberty of London products. I was really glad to be there during sale time, because I could get some things at Liberty that I wouldn't have been able to afford if not on sale.

Ah Liberty of London, how do I love thee, let me count the ways....
We got a proper snow this week. I love snow, and I love the snow in my new house. It's so pretty with all of the trees and deer that I will now bore you with photos of trees in the snow.
View from the Reading Room
Birdbath in the snow.
View from the deck.
Garden fence
House from the street.
The contrast of the branches in the snow at dawn was really striking.

My glorious pine tree.

I love how the needles look furry on this pine when it snows.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A perfect day

The day after skiing and my spectacular face landing, everything in my body pretty much hurt and it was raining torrentially, so I decided to stay in. I spent a truly lovely day working on my wool appliqué project and watching the rain and mist on Loch Ness.
It's important to take some time on vacation and just relax. There have been so many vacations I've had that were so crazy full and busy that I was more exhausted when I got home than when I left, so I really try to take some time to just chill.
January 25th was Burns Night, which celebrates the Scottish national bard, Robert Burns (referred to as "Rabbie Burns"). I decided, when in Scotland, go to a Burns Night dinner! I found a dinner just across the street from the Abbey at the Lovat Hotel. (As a completely off track, side note, a lovely woman told me that she has nae use for him as he was a total "male chauvinist, well endowed, womanizing scalawag who had an anti-social, sexual disease." She also used the term 'gobsmacked' which totally made my day.)
Anyhoo, the Burns night dinner features the Presentation of the Haggis as it is piped in by the bag pipes. The Selkirk Grace is said:
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

Then the host reads the 'Address to the Haggis' (which is very long, so if you want to read it, google "address to the haggis" by Burns) and stabs the haggis, making it ooze out in a completely unappetizing fashion.
After the stabbing of the haggis, you get to toast it with whisky. I completely choked, I'm not a whiskey drinker. Finally, you eat the haggis. Our haggis was served in a fancy, gourmet fashion - haggis cannelloni on neeps, tatties and puffed rice. It was really quite good. Modern haggis in not made of the intestines and other left over innards of sheep. It's main ingredient now is liver. Still not my fav, but in a pasta shell with turnip/potato puree under it and a lovely gravey, it was pretty tasty. I laughed when I saw the description 'haggis cannelloni' and said "it's a lot like Charles Stewart, the Italian Scot." I have managed to avoid the haggis on my previous trips to Scotland, but I decided it was disguised enough this time to give it a try.

The food was all excellent (see the menu and pics). The dessert had pop rocks on the top which the ladies at my table called 'star dust'. It was a fun surprise. There was bag piping and traditional Highland dancing to entertain us between the courses. The Highland Sword Dance was fun to see in person. Dinner is followed by a Ceilidh (pronounced 'kaylee'), which is dancing. One of the ladies at my table exclaimed "Oh! A Disco! We like Disco." I told her that I didn't think it would be the kind of dancing she was envisioning.

The best part of the evening was the company. The first people I met upon arrival at the hotel happened to be my downstairs neighbors at the abbey, Bridget and Otto, a retired couple who used to run a hotel in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Bridget ran the hotel and Otto did all the cooking. Otto's English is broken, and my Swiss-German is non-existant, but we were totally able to talk about food with no translation issues! I was so thrilled when they invited me to dinner at their apartment!!

I was seated with three sisters and their husbands who were in Ft. Augustus for a get away weekend from Lancaster. They were all so very nice and we had a lovely conversation over dinner and afterwards in the bar. Michelle and I also participated in the traditional dance "Stripping the Willow" during the Ceilidh. There were two lines of people facing one another, and a LOT of twirling, confusion and laughing involved. Nobody had a clue what they were doing, but all were having a great time. I now know where American country dancing comes from.

To top the evening off, I could hear the band playing "Bad Moon Rising" as I strolled home to the abbey with my super cute umbrella, in the light rain. Oh, and it was a day until the full moon.