Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fondue Anyone?

This was one of my favorite parts of our visit to Switzerland! Katy and I went for fondue on Lake Geneva at Buvette des Bains (Bains des Paquis) on Friday evening.
While we arrived a bit early, this place became the happening spot as the evening wore on!

 Look at this yumminess!

If you ever visit Buvettes des Bains, make sure to order outside at the counter. Unlike our approach, I'd also recommend having a reservation for a table because this place gets crowded!

Next up, we headed for a stroll through town. 

 Switzerland has amazing chocolates!

 Store front at Globus -- a fabulous design-oriented department store!

 Isn't it a beautiful city?


I'm now off to spend the day with my family! I'm soaking up every last moment with them!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Geneva Explored: Afternoon & Dusk of Day 1

My friend Katy and I decided to take a city break to Geneva when our husbands were in the States for a conference -- this was a way more fun option than simply trying to hold down the home front!

Flying into Geneva was great -- the view of the Alps on descent was breathtaking. Snow capped mountains make my heart skip a beat. After arrival, we walked right into the train station (which is at the airport! convenient!) and caught a train into town.

Tip: all trains at the Geneva airport go into Geneva city. Make sure to get your free train ticket for city centre in baggage arrival at the kiosk. Once you get to the train station, just find the train that's leaving the soonest and step on. No one ever checked our ticket, and I imagine that's the norm. The complimentary ticket is also good for 80 minutes (if I recall correctly -- could just be an hour) once it's printed out of the kiosk.

Upon our arrival into city centre, we walked over to our hotel, checked in, dropped our bags, and headed off. One of our first stops was at this lovely deli:

I couldn't get enough of how pretty this produce was!!! Splendid!

Speaking of beautiful things, Lake Geneva itself was breathtaking. The mountain at the top left of this photo is Mont Blanc. Wow.

The buildings in Geneva were also topped with luxury brand names and names of international banks. But -- that didn't necessarily mean that Deutsche Banc was actually housed in that building. Just classy advertising? It seemed so!

Check out how clear this water was  --- simply amazing!

The English Garden -- at the base of the Left Bank

Monday, December 27, 2010


Hello friends ~

I kind of love that I haven't been posting on this blog because it means that I've been LIVING!!!!! And living is fun!!!! 

Our trip to the States started off with a fabulous bang at the Normandy Hotel in DC. Happy early Christmas to me and MBA from my parents! After laborious and tiresome travel, it's so nice to have such a lovely place to rest your head. This hotel checks all the boxes --- amazingly comfy bed, beautiful interiors, fun bath products, wine & cheese in the evenings and lovely continental breakfasts in the morning. The next morning, mom and I were off to NYC for a long and super fun break to see my sister Hilary. The front desk clerk at Normandy Hotel even sent me off with a stack of brand new magazines for our trip to the Big Apple -- including Architectural Digest, National Geographic Traveler, Newsweek, Forbes -- not that Forbes is my favorite, but I love a hotel that goes the extra mile.

My trip to NYC was above and beyond what I could have imagined the trip to be like. It was fabulous on every level, and I'll share more about that later. 

I've also been sick. 

Ick. Not fun to be sick while I'm in the States. Not fun to pay an American doctor or to pay American prices for medicines. Not fun for the sickness to be lingering after I've taken the full round of antibiotics. 

But --

I've still been living. And having fun. And trying to seize every last moment out of this trip. 

Meanwhile -- I've just turned on one of my parent's fireplaces with a remote. 

A remote!!!!

Yesterday morning I asked my grandmother what my Grandma Ida would have thought about me moving from America to Europe. My grandmother informed me that Grandma Ida  (my great-grandmother) would have thought I was crazy. Grandma Ida escaped the "old country," and she had had enough of it, enough of London, and enough of Paris. Once she landed in America, she never wanted to leave. And Grandma Ida hadn't even experienced a remote controlled fireplace!!!!!

I'll share one book that I've been chipping away at:

Anyway - I'm going to get back to living and back to enjoying my family. In the meantime, I hope you're enjoying your holidays!!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Few Thoughts in No Particular Order

Hi friends! This afternoon I'm hosting a Cookie Exchange Party, so I shouldn't blog too long but there's just a bit of life to share.

First off, we saw Des Hommes et Des Dieux (Of Gods and Men) last night. It was one of the most moving films -- if not the most moving film--  I've ever seen. 

While the above trailer doesn't have English subtitles, I think you can still pick up on a bit of the meaning by viewing it. These monks sacrificially loved people. If you want to know what real love looks like, watch this movie. It's a revolutionary kind of love. 

I also finished the 570-something page Alone in Berlin (then there's an afterword and then a file of documents in German they were used in the investigation). True story of an aging, working class carpenter and his courageous defiance, albeit non-influential, to Nazi Germany -- this book is brilliantly written by a tormented genius. Fallada penned the book in 24 days then died before it was published. Fascinating stuff. In the afterword, Geoff Wilkes writes: "whereas Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963) dissects and analyses 'the banality of evil', Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin comprehends and honours the banality of good." An exploration of metaphysical realities, religiosity, evil, the banality of good -- Alone in Berlin will be a story I'll mull over for some time. This quote also reminds me that I should pick up Eichmann again! 

In other news, did you know that Kate and team are starting an online mag? Matchbook Mag. Thanks J. Tharp for the hat tip! Matchbook is guaranteed to provide some pretty eye-candy!

And on to what I'm really really really excited about:
I'm packing a bag and heading to the States very soon!!! First stop: to see this one!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lots to Blog About

Wow! Life has been flying by, and I haven't been blogging much. There's so much to share!

First off, I hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in my life last Thursday. It wasn't that complicated of an affair, as my lovely friends pitched in to bring dishes of yumminess over. All I made was a turkey, gravy, green bean casserole, and pumpkin bars for dessert. It was so great spending time with friends that I'm very thankful for. We're very blessed to be surrounded by some truly wonderful people in Edinburgh. And to top it off -- my friends can cook!  They each brought something so delicious over!

 Above is Josh and then Joe & Amanda. Amanda is doing a fabulous job of posting about all of her adventures in the UK at her blog The Riveras in Edinburgh. Keep your eye peeled for all of her snow pictures!

This is the lovely Alicia! When I get together with her, I'm not surprised when she tells me nonchalantly that she just biked 15 miles to the ocean and back. Wow.

On a side note - if you don't have a hand held blender, you are missing out an a fabulously convenient gadget. It was my lifesaver for hosting our Thanksgiving dinner. Is the cream cheese icing clumpy? Use the ole' hand held blender. Is the gravy disgustingly clumpy where you couldn't fain the existence of bits of turkey in it??? Hand held blender to the rescue!

This is the lovely Kidwells! Katy is who I went to Geneva with last week, and we pitifully do not have a picture together from our time in Switzerland. You should definitely check out their blogs: Sparrow Hopes and Domesticated Theology. And they even went one year of their life living "green," which you can read about at 52 Bright Green Weeks.

Next up, I helped host a "Hoo-Roo" for a very dear friend this past Friday evening.  This is a very sad yet happy thing for me. Peter, our guest of honor, is a very, very dear friend who I'm so sad is leaving Edinburgh. He's moving back to Sydney to start teaching at a seminary this month. He's been such a faithful, loving friend and has played such an integral role in our lives and has also been a constant source of encouragement and blessing. It makes me really teary that he's leaving, but I know we'll see him throughout the coming years -- whether it's in the States, Italy, or Australia.

This is Peter entering his surprise Hoo-Roo!

A little shocked at his surprise hoo-roo?

Did I mention why I'm "happy" for Peter to be returning to Australia?  His mama is in Australia, and I'm sure she'll be very glad to have him back home. I, on the other hand, would have been happy to have him wherever we live! (Totally selfish -- I know!)

Christine (the fabulous host!), Nigel, Becky, half of Josh, and Peter with his godson Dominic.

Speaking of Friday evening, that's when the snow began to fall. And it hasn't stopped! And it's Wednesday. The last report I heard is that we're under two feet of snow in Edinburgh. Isn't that ridiculous amounts of snow?!!? Yikes! It is so chilly here!

Here's a picture MBA took on Saturday:

 This was just a light dusting compared to what we have now! I ventured out with my camera today for a few more shots and will be back to share those with you shortly. 

But can I just say how nuts it is that we have two feet of snow, and it keeps falling. And falling. And falling. Now the officials are worried about flooding. But considering that it's - 3 and shouldn't be above freezing until Saturday -- and at that, only 1 degrees -- I'm not that worried about the flooding. 

(After my own flat flooded this past year and my grandmother's house floated away in the Great Flood, you would think I would be worried about flooding. Is there something wrong with me?!!?)

Anyway - back at the ranch. 

Or the tiny flat that my sister calls a tree house. 

I've also finished Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor:
I so wish I had the benefit of sitting under an amazing literary scholar and really gleaning all the insights that make this book what it is. It's a weird tale. The literary devices she uses are foreign from so many other books I've read. But, I appreciate the book. I'm glad I read it. I think I should read a minimum of five literary articles on the book and take a class on O'Connor. I've read her Spiritual Writings before and loved them. Yet, this novel was in its own ballpark. I'm still mulling over it ...

This is turning into the longest blog post ever!

Other things I'm thinking about:

1. The irony of people who allege to emulate the ethics of Jesus and are consumeristic-- especially consumeristic at Christmas time. What's that about? 

2. Making chili in this wintry blizzard we're having! Anyone have a recommended chili recipe out there? Are you still reading? I don't blame you if you're not!

3. The lovely German Christmas Market here in town and the super yummy blueberry coffee I got at the market. This was my first flavored coffee since living in Britain, and I so appreciated how super delicious it was!

4. How the movie Green Zone reminds me of No End In Sight (minus the conspiracy part). 

5. How the documentary on Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds me to be alert for present victims in need of assistance and compassion. Who are victims in our present society? May we truly see others in their struggle and seek to help them where they are. If you haven't seen this film, rent or buy it now. It's sooooo good. 

6. World AIDS Day.

7. Remembering Advent: when Jesus entered history.

"…[T]here must be no weakening or obscuring of the saving truth that the nature which God assumed in Christ is identical with our nature as we see it in the light of the Fall. If it were otherwise, how could Christ really be like us? … God’s Son not only assumed our nature but He entered the concrete form of our nature...". - Karl Barth (emphasis mine)

Monday, November 29, 2010

What I'm Reading

I've only read one of the daily readings for Advent thus far, but I can already tell it's going to be such an encouraging and focusing book. Dr. Underhill was a 20th century mystic and intellectual and was known to approach Christianity by her appreciation of St. Teresa of Avila's quote: "to give our Lord a perfect service Martha and Mary must combine." In the first reading, she brings our attention to the expectancy of the holiday commemorating Christ entering history. She also reminds us that when we prepare and invite our lives for God's arrival, God will always come to us. Very encouraging!

If I wasn't reading this book during the Advent season, I would probably be reading Watch for the Light. If you have any recommendations for Advent reading, please do share them in the comments. I'm very interested in how others focus on the true reason for celebrating Christmas.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What I'm Reading

Extraordinary so far! Hans Fallada wrote Alone in Berlin in 1947 following World War II, and Penguin has revived this classic with a recent edition released in 2009. It's rare that I read historic fiction with footnotes, but this book has plenty of them -- making it even more interesting as it's filled with  plenty of historic details and facts. Although I'm only half way through it, I can tell you that it's an insightful and engaging read. The translator also did an excellent job, as it doesn't read awkwardly at all.  Furthermore, my understanding of Nazi totalitarianism in Germany is expanding by the page. Hands down, put this one on your list!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I just returned from a weekend in Switzerland. That's Mont Blanc back there. Wow! Geneva was such a nice place for a city break.  And how could you not love a place that makes bread and melted cheese an entire meal!?!? God bless fondue!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Babette's Feast

I recently watched Babette's Feast after learning about the film from reading The Hungry Soul. The main contention in this book is that eating amongst one's loved ones is not just about feeding the body but also about feeding the soul. This theme is perfectly portrayed in Babette's Feast, which is a Danish film made in the late 1980's. As we enter the Thanksgiving season, it is a most poignant reminder of the celebration and ritual of gathering with friends and family to feast together not merely for the sake of the food alone.

The following video contains a New York Times critic highlighting the importance of Babette's Feast:

"Beasts feed: man eats: the man of intellect alone knows how to eat."

"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are."

- Brillat-Savarin

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Law & the Constitution

"The end of every law is the common good of the community that it governs." - Thomas Aquinas, church father and influential thinker in the development of the western legal tradition, in his 'Treatise on Law' in Summa Theologica

"Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."  - John Adams, founding father and second President of the United States, to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts on October 11, 1798

If I was a law professor, I would come up with an essay exam based on these two quotations. It would go something like this: "Does the United States Constitution promote the common good of society? If so, must the government enacting laws and enforcing laws be made up of moral  and religious people? You have thirty minutes to answer and discuss. Start writing." That might also be a good exam for a moral philosophy course.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Post without Pictures

Hi Friends ~

Blogger has annoyingly declined to accept any picture uploads for several days now. And my research on how to fix the glitch has only complicated the matter as Google has no official recommendations on this and the forums are chocked full of a variety of (hundreds of) suggestions.  And - having a job or two negates the necessary time needed to problem solve. Thus, I bring you the post with no pictures!

This past weekend was delightful. We had friends over Friday night and made Thai rice wraps, sushi, and then steamed yummy Chinese dumplings for dessert. It was a fun and very active dinner party, as we kept making more delicious treats! 

On Saturday we went hiking with MBA's supervisor and several other students and spouses. We hiked from Dollar through the Glens of Sorrow and Hope over to Glendevon and back with a wee lunch stop at the Tormaukin Country Inn Pub. The food at Tormaukin was great, and it kept us going for the five mile hike back to Dollar. However, the highlight of my day was asking MBA's supervisor for a recommendation for Advent reading and his reply of Barth's Dogmatics on the incarnation. Light Advent reading anyone???

This past weekend we also celebrated the baptism of a very dear friend's baby, and it was a beautiful and very happy day. Don't you love those kinds of days? Where everything is good and right with the world? It was delightful, and we were blessed to be invited to participate in all the festivities. 

This is where a very cute picture of an adorable baby should be.
But it's not.

Anyway, it's ridiculously cold here today. The temperature on my phone reads zero. Zero! (Celsius of course -- but still!!!). And now - I am off to meet my husband for lunch at our favorite French restaurant, because you can never really eat to much French food :) 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gorgeous Fall in Edinburgh

Yesterday I shared some beautiful fall sites from the Highlands, and today I want to share a few pictures of the fall beauty we have here in the capital.
This beautiful tree is right out my front door. So gorgeous!

Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street Gardens with a view of the Walter Scott Monument and Balmoral Hotel

Other Side of Princes Street Garden

Fettes College - Inspiration for Hogwarts in Harry Potter?

I hope you enjoy your fall day!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Scottish Highlands in the Fall

We had some friends in from the States for the weekend and took them out into the Highlands for a quick day trip yesterday.  It was an absolutely fantastic day for a drive out into the country. The air was cool and crisp, the leaves were changing all kinds of brilliant and vibrant colors, and after a morning with a bit of fog, it cleared up to make for a super calm and clear day.
Our first stop was by Stirling Castle. MBA and I were last in Stirling in July, and you can definitely see a shift in the colors! I love how the fog added a bit of mystique to the castle.

We then headed through several glens to drive along Loch Earn. I couldn't get enough of the majestic sites we were taking in.

We then headed over to Loch Leven where you have to take a boat out to the Loch Leven Castle. 

Isn't it all so breathtakingly beautiful?
Creative Commons License
This work by Ashli Sutton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at