Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's the Holiday Season ...

Sorry to be so absent on the blog during this holiday season! Matt and I have been in a whirlwind of festive activity, and it isn't slowing down! We're headed to Knoxville to see Matt's grandparents and then to the Arbo Family Farm for the weekend.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Our Journey Home

We have arrived in Nashville safely! However, Matthew and I rarely do anything without extra adventure, and our trip home is no exception. We left our Edinburgh flat at 4:45 am (Greenwich time) ... which is probably when most of you were going to bed Sunday night... and finally arrived in Nashville Tuesday afternoon a bit after 2:30 pm.

After running to board our plane in Frankfurt (yes- we had to run because our first flight was delayed on the runway and the German security officials were painfully slow letting us through our second round of security), we found our seats only to sit on the plane for three hours and then have the flight cancelled. Then there was waiting in another line, and another line, and then another line ... just to find out we would be staying the night in the Frankfurt Sheraton and flying out in the morning.

I was so glad to arrive on American soul. Living abroad in Europe can be pretty fantastic, but all the little things that constitute America make me happy -- it's simply home. Because we were a day late, mom had patients to see but dad was there at the airport to welcome us with open arms and a $20 dollar bill! After only receiving two of our three pieces of luggage and getting all of that paperwork figured out, we were off and soon driving through Chick-fil-a for some chicken nuggets and a sweet tea!

Upon arriving at the house, my Gram and Stan greeted us which was a sweet surprise! Soon my mom was at home and we were sitting around the family table eating homemade lasagna -- one of my favorites. At that point, I couldn't have imagined being any happier! We celebrated my dad's birthday, ate cake, and he opened a few of his presents -- one of which was our wedding album! Yay!

Then, mom and Gram told me that Gram had a little gift for me. They said it was for graduation, passing the bar, Hannakuh, Christmas, and birthday -- and then I saw the blue bag -- the blue Tiffany's bag. (What a way to be welcomed home!) Gram and Stan gave me the most stunning strand of pearls I have ever seen! What a sweet, sweet little treasure to remember all the good and exciting events this year has brought. Thank you Gram and Stan!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hearing Antonin Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once wrote the following for First Things:

Before proceeding to discuss the morality of capital punishment, I want to make clear that my views on the subject have nothing to do with how I vote in capital cases that come before the Supreme Court.

Interesting statement by one who is considered to be so influential in such current, hot topic cases. While some believe Scalia to impose and read his values into the cases brought before his court (as deduced by writers interested in Scalia's personal beliefs on capital punishment, sodomy, abortion, etc.), Scalia strongly disapproves of such activism.

While the hosts of the lecture the other night continually referred to Scalia as "provocative," I thought he was nothing of the such! His modest address merely stated that moral decisions on items such as capital punishment, sodomy, and abortion should be left to the people and not to a select, tenured group of judges. He believes dialogue and debate of the people is the mark of true democracy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Notice anything strange about this picture?

A Few of Weaver's Thoughts

''The spoiling of man seems always to begin when urban living predominates over rural. After man has left the countryside to shut himself up in vast piles of stone, after he has lost what Sir Thomas Browne called pudor rusticus, after he has come to depend on a complicated system of human exchange for his survival, he becomes forgetful of the overriding mystery of creation.''

So what solution does Weaver offer to the city-dweller?

''If he could continue to realize the presence of something greater than self and see the virtue of subordinating self to communal enterprise -- that is, see the virtue and not simply respond to coercion -- he might remain unspoiled even in the city.''

Richard Weaver from Ideas Have Consequences

Sunday, December 9, 2007


This evening we attended a small Christmas soiree at our neighbors' flat upstairs. We had an interesting discussion about cultural differences between the east and west and then between the US and UK. Moving to a new country and new culture brings with it a set of linguistic problems to overcome even if everyone is speaking English! Here are a few language differences:

1. Cilantro = Coriander (It seems to be a bit milder here -- however, this was a fantastic discovery :)

2. Line (as in waiting in line for a dressing room or to get on the bus) = Queue (How different is that!)

3. How are you doing? = How are you getting on? (After being asked this, I was curious as to where I was getting on to... what desination?!?!!? I'm confused!)

4. Thanks/Appreciate It = Cheers (This word is used for everything!)

5. Herbs (Silent 'H') = Herb (pronounced with the 'H' like Her-b)

6. Watch Out = Mind (as in 'Mind the Step' or 'Mind the Low Ceiling')

7. Five = Fiver (Say it with a Scottish accent!)

Isn't it a wonderful world???

Funny Story

As of this past Friday night, I had only had Indian food once in my entire life. During a snow storm in Lynchburg, my friend Colleen (she's the brave northerner from New Jersey) picked my snow-trapped self up and since we were already being adventurous (driving in snow), we thought we should continue the adventure with Indian food. (Colleen is my friend who I've even had Peruvian food with -- who else has had Peruvian food?).

Back to the funny story. So, Matt's last official day of school was this past Friday. Hence, he and some of his buddies from New College were celebrating together. Since I was on my own, I decided I should treat myself to something interesting and lovely for dinner-- then hole myself inside my warm and cozy flat for a good movie or two. After unsuccessfully trying to order soup at the local Chinese restaurant, I headed back to the flat for all the take-out menus our landlord had left behind for us. Being put-out with how expensive Pizza Hut and Dominos are here (I know I can get the same thing for half the price back home), I decided to order take-out from St. John's Curry Club. This Indian restaurant is only about half a block from my flat and has won several local culinary awards. How could I go wrong?

So after my perusal of the take-out menu, I called St. Johns and placed the order. After retrieving the food from St. John's, I devoured the yummy chicken curry dish, rice, and nan bread. I felt on top of the world about my discovery (and a bit stuffed). It was so good. I even had leftovers so Matt could try it later -- which happened to be Saturday morning for breakfast, or maybe brunch :) Matt loved the curry food as well! Absolutely loved it. And I most definitely helped him eat the leftovers. Mind you -- this would be two curry meals within 24 hours.

Later on, Matt and I headed out on the town for some Christmas shopping and enjoyment of Matt's recent liberation from studies. After a few stops, Matt decided it was time to eat. As I was looking around in that area of town, I noticed an Indian restaurant that had a superb little lunch deal. It looked like a super posh restaurant, so I suggested we eat there for lunch. Hence, three meals of curry in a row. (This little posh Indian restaurant was superb as well).

After an afternoon of shopping, Matt and I headed to a friend's flat for a dinner party. Other diners included a PhD student at New College, a fund manager from London, and a local GP. The company was fantastic. Conversation was lively and interesting. We even had a mini lecture on English political structure (they still have heridtary roles in the House of Lords- who knew?). But the best part -- (are you ready?) -- they served curry for dinner!

How did I manage to have four curry/Indian meals in a row after only having it once in my entire life???

Friday, December 7, 2007

Returning to America

Upon my return, I'm looking forward to a few things:

1. Holding a crisp dollar bill in my hand (or $20) and not having to count out another currency at every check-out counter. (It can really make you feel like a 5 year old)

2. Driving a car. On the right side of the road.

3. Being able to purchase cilantro.

4. Chicken.

5. Price tags in US dollars. And being pleasantly surprised at how low the price is.

6. No draft in the shower.

7. Hot water at the kitchen sink.

8. Not having to climb three flights of stairs to arrive home.

9. Jeans and towels that have been dried in a dryer. It really makes a huge difference.

10. TV shows that are not exceedingly low budget (Scottish anything) or 7 year old re-runs from America. (There are only so many Friends, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Frasiers one can watch)

11. A few more hours of sunlight.

12. Not having to wear my hair in a pony tail constantly due to the crazy wind. (It can be quite blinding and very dangerous when crossing the road)

13. Last but not least: spending time with my amazing family.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Why Not Have a Big Life?

I checked for tomorrow's sunrise and sunset. Depressingly, the sun will rise at 8:28 am and set by 3:40 pm. And when the sun sets here, it. is. dark! With such little sunlight, I decided I need to wake up with a new mantra.


I want a big and glorious life even if the sun doesn't join me!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Plans for Today

Matt just called and informed me that the weather outside is amazingly pleasant. Soon I will be headed out the door to galavant around the entire city, enjoying the weather, and trying to soak up the sun before it sets around 3 pm. My "to do" list today includes a little Christmas shopping at the Ethical Fayre (Edinburghers love calling things 'ethical'), the German Market, and charity shops in Stockbridge. Strangely, I did not buy one unedible item in Paris. I was too busy looking around at all the sites and trying to catch the spirit of France! I guess making a purchase in Chloe or Louis Vuitton would count as catching the spirit of France, but since that was not plausible, soaking in the sites of Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Basilica of the Sacre Couer did the trick!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Paris J'Taime

Our friends' flat was about a two minute walk from here -- amazing!

Matt Playing with Sweet Baby Cora

On Top of the Eiffel Tower

Isn't Paris Lovely?

Notre Dame

Matt in L'etoille - a yummy little restaurant

Champs d'Elysees

Isn't she the cutest baby?

Matt and I had an absolutely fantastic time in Paris! It was lovely to visit our friends, the Helm family, and to have a break from Edinburgh. We managed to pack a ton of fun into three days! The highlights include climbing the Eiffel Tower, visitng Notre Dame, exploring the Pantheon, walking Montmarte, eating in cute little French cafes (I'm now officially addicted to au pain chocolat and intend on finding the best French bakery in Edinburgh starting tomorrow), taking pictures atop the Arch de Triomphe, perusing the shopping district, and dining in fantastic brasseries.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Good News!

An article in our local newspaper has just reported that Edinburgh has been voted the "best" place to live in the UK. After a survey of all 434 UK cities, Edinburgh was determined the "best" on the basis of its' galleries, museums, restaurants, impressive education results, and low crime rates. While I have been especially happy to discover the musuems, galleries and restaurants -- and Matt has obviously discovered the education to be of fine quality -- I am especially glad to hear of the low crime rates! After assisting criminal defence attorneys here in Edinburgh, I was a bit curious about the criminal activity!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Princes Street at Night with the Christmas Festival going on in the Background -- It truly is Magical!

In Front of St. Giles Cathedral where John Knox the reformer Pastored. We had just taken part in an Advent Service, and it was amazing! The University of Edinburgh Chamber Choir performed with several Norwegian musicians. So special!

Mom, Dad, and Matt at Costa Coffee - an Italian Roaster

Dad at the Elephant House

Thanksgiving in Scotland

Friday, November 19th, I anxiously awaited my parents arrival at the Edinburgh airport. I could not wait to see them! I had to coordinate two different buses to get to the airport, and I was afraid I would be late! Can you imagine landing in another country and your daughter not being there to pick you up? Yikes! What would you do?

My parents arrived a few minutes late from their flight from London which worked out to the good since my ride to the airport was during commute ... and we went arduously slow through a massive office park. When I finally saw my parents, I hugged them and did not want to let go! I think I kept my mom on my arm for a good half of the day. Once my parents arrived, they were mega-troopers! They did not come back to my flat to sleep ... they kept going! After lunch at Monster Mash, a british diner serving Shepherds Pie and the like, Mom was ready to hit up Ikea and help make our flat a bit more homey! Later that evening we decorated the Christmas tree and hung the stockings with care.

Saturday was a full day -- we took my parents to the Farmers Market, a walk on the Royal Mile, lunch and coffee at the Elephant House (where J.K. Rowling penned the first Harry Potter book), shopping, and tea with Mom at the National Gallery Art Museum.

On Sunday Hilary arrived and the gang was complete. We had Sunday Roast at the local carvery, which was a fantastic Scottish thing for the family to experience. As I've stated previously, Sundays are treated like true holidays here in Scotland. Families open their homes, have feasts, and lounge in living rooms with tea and biscuits for hours after the completion of the meal. The local carvery served turkey, gammon, roast, eight different vegetables and a bar full of sauces and gravies. Matt prefers the mint sauce while I am enjoying a tartar sauce --- and the Scots put it on everything: the meat, potatos, and vegetables. I have to say, I'm enjoying the sauces and gravies! After lunch we took Hil in to town before the sun set - which is at the late hour of 4 pm (today, I think the sun is setting at 3:49 pm). After a quick tour, we retired to to the flat for take out chinese.

The rest of the week included visiting museums, dining on fabulous food, spending time with my loved ones, visiting French and German markets, having Thanksgiving dinner (we had chicken from my local butcher and not turkey -- we didn't even need naps after our dinner), attending an Advent service with a chamber choir and Norwegian musicians at St. Giles Cathedral (where John Knox the reformer pastored), enjoying coffee and tea at every turn, and hanging out at the flat. We had a blast! Unfortunately dad was a bit under the weather for most of the week, but he too was a trooper and got out there and enjoyed Scotland.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The week with my family has been great! We're about to head out the door to the Christmas markets that open today. Updates to come!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Things about which I'm Excited:

1. My parents arrive tomorrow morning!

2. Hilary arrives Sunday afternoon!

3. I get to watch the expressions on their faces as they discover Edinburgh for the first time.

4. The first weekend in December, Matt and I go to Paris.

5. I'm getting to hear my favorite Supreme Court Justice speak on December 11th -- the Antonin Scalia. (After years and years of reading Supreme Court Opinions, his opinions are hands down my favorite ones to read).

6. The following weekend is the Santa Run! Matt and I are running a charity race in which every single runner wears a santa costume. How fun!

7. Then the next day, we fly home for three weeks!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Note about Picture Below

I forgot to mention one thing about a picture below. The lighthouse was built by the father of Robert Louis Stevenson and was an inspiration to Stevenson when he penned Treasure Island.

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day occurred this past Sunday in Great Britain. This holiday is celebrated on the eleventh month, of the eleventh day, at the eleventh hour by two minutes of silence at all of the churches in the country. After the silence, a moving service is held in honor of those slain for the freedom of the United Kingdom. As an American, it was interesting to observe this service.

During the two minutes of silence, I prayed for the safety of all troops and for peace to be secured in our world. Currently, I am teaching quite a few students that serve in the U.S. military. At the start of the course, one such student informed me that a blackout could occur during the semester (where she would be unable to participate for five days in the class because of no internet access), and that this would always happen if someone in her unit or area of the Middle East was killed. This student also described to me the conditions in which she is living ... a tent in the desert. I pray for this students most often. Thus far, she's been the most studious and interested pupil in this particular course.

The music on Remembrance Day was particularly interesting. As Matt and I walked to church, we passed another parish which boasted a bag pipe player in full Scottish apparel - kilt and all. It was particularly moving to see the congregation hurry inside to this memorial service as the bag piper beckoned them to worship. At the service we attended, the ceremony concluded with signing of the National Anthem. Here are the lyrics:

God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen.

While it was a bit odd joining the Scottish in asking God to save the Queen, the strangest bit about the song is that it is to the tune of the patriotic song America!

After a little internet research, I found the following:

The American song at:

The British version at:

Because the Brits first sang their anthem in 1745, the tune must have originated with them and not the Americans!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

We Love Sundays in Scotland!

Sundays in Scotland are true holidays. Look where we went today with our neighbors Margaret and Fraiser:

Friday, November 9, 2007

The following pictures are a combination of the following:

1. Our first visitors to Edinburgh! Charli (in the middle) is a friend from Union who has been teaching English in North Africa for the past several years. She's accompanied by Edna, who has also been teaching English, and is a new and wonderful friend.

2. International Food Market

3. National Gallery of Art

4. Writers Museum and Quotes by Various Writers

5. The Coast of Scotland (only 5 minutes away!)

6. The Fishermen's Village (former) on the Coast

7. Princes Street Garden Fountain

8. Gift from America to Scotland after the First World War

And a Few More ....

And More Pictures ...

Pictures from the Last Few Weeks

So Much for Simplicity ....

So much for simplicity ... I thought not having a cell phone would bring about a simpler life. However, yesterday I arrived at New College to meet Matt for lunch and ended up waiting 25 minutes in the lobby because there was no way to call him and say "I'm waiting!" (The bus had been exceptionally fast) And then, if I want to talk to my parents via Skype on the computer before they go to work, I have to be at the house in the prime of an Edinburgher day which is between noon and 3:30ish.

So here's the official announcement: we have Skype cell phones!!!! We are so very excited about this discovery. This new phone just arrived on the European markets about five days ago. Luckily, we walked into a 3 Store (I don't think we have these stores in America) just in time to snag the last two Skype phones in Edinburgh. Here's how it works: we have regular cell phone minutes/texts, but we also have FREE Skype through our cell phone. Therefore, I can call my parents internationally from my cell phone for free if they're signed onto Skype at home or have their Skype calls forwarded to their cell phones. You can also text message us for free through Skype.

Yesterday afternoon dad called me through Skype and I answered on my cell phone!!! I was so excited!!! I can be anywhere in Europe or the U.S. and receive phone calls. Matt talked to his parents in Brazil for about half an hour yesterday. Yay! We love this new discovery.

If you want Skype, go to their website: It's free to download and use. There are extra options, like calling a landline, having your calls forwarded to a cell phone or landline, and other such things that have a small additional fee.

Doesn't this make the world a smaller place?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Great Discovery

Love it!!!

(especially when our FULLY FURNISHED flat doesn't come with stereo or cd player as seen in pictures - haha)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Seven Sacraments

During this past week, I decided to take advantage of the numerous museums in Edinburgh. Last monday I visited the National Gallery of Scotland in the center of the city. Known as the best free attraction in all of Scotland, the Gallery boasts works of art by Suerat, Matisse, Monet, Van Gogh, Degas (both paintings and sculptures), Raphael, Boticelli, and so much more. I absolutely loved the French Impressionism exhibit. Another moving exhibit was the "Seven Sacraments" by Nicolas Poussin. Described as one of the most important post-Renaissance works of art, the display was set in an octagonal room with the entry making up one of the sides and the seven paintings filling the rest. Here's a link to a page with one of the paintings:

I also visited the Writers Museum. This particular museum celebrates three great Scottish Writers: Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott. The first exhibit I wondered upon was that of Stevenson. While looking at paintings of his homes, a lady (probably in her early 90's) asked me if I was an American. I'm not sure why it is so obvious that I'm an American, but I pleasantly responded yes, as I was interested as to why she asked. This interesting lady is a former English teacher, and she also has a slight obsession with Stevenson. She told me that Stevenson married an American lady, and that she was the first American lady he had ever laid eyes on. She repeatedly told me of Stevenson's letter about his wife, and that he said something like "her eyes were like shooting pistols." This dear, dear lady loved whatever he said. I think it's so funny she was so touched by an analogy of a woman's eyes to shooting pistols!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

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