Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Yesterday was, without a doubt, the most encouraging day I have experienced since we’ve been back in the States. The Lord filled it with many good things, and I was amazed at how uplifted my spirit was by the end of the day.

As I lay down to sleep, as usual my thoughts were wandering here and there, and before I knew it I was taking a walk in my mind’s eye.

I loaded the kids up into the buggy, grabbed a few shopping bags, and headed out the door. As I pulled the big, black door closed behind me, I felt the cool wind on my face and wished, once again, that my coat would zip up.

I felt my feet pad down the Lade Braes, around the familiar curves, the weight of my two Scottish-born babies pushing against me. Out through the car park, across the road, and a quick turn to head down South Street.

On my way to the grocery store. I did it almost every day. Sometimes I timed it wrong and all the secondary school kids were out and clogging every sidewalk and aisle. This day all I noticed were the Christmas lights on the trees. I love Christmas lights.

I didn’t give a second thought to the old stone buildings standing shoulder to shoulder along the pavements, the uniqueness of that place. I was just living life, doing what I did all the time. Said a quick hello to the Big Issue lady who always tells me what beautiful babies I have. Up and down the aisles in the grocery store, I knew them by heart.

I could have walked all over that town. I know it like the back of my hand. I have four and a half years’ worth of memories to replay in my mind. But somehow, that little walk to Tesco, one I’ve done a million times, brought me to tears as I tried to fall asleep. I continued remembering, the sounds of a football match in the field on a Sunday afternoon, intentionally walking the long way home so I could feast my eyes on the big Sea. It lead to thoughts of friends who I truly may not see again in this life, whose eyes I may never look into again as we share our hearts with each other. That is the first time I can remember crying about this whole thing. Sure, I cried the night before we left, but that was at 2am and out of utter hopelessness that we would ever be packed and ready to go. This was the first time I opened my heart to the reality that St Andrews is no longer my home.

It seems like it shouldn’t be so easy to leave a place you are so invested in. A place that you have given your heart, a place that has given you your family. How is it possible that all it takes is the closing of a door? A day’s worth of traveling, and suddenly your home is somewhere else? A place where expectations are that you know what you’re doing, that you should slot right back into the space that you left. I guess I’m not the right shape anymore. Sure things are familiar and good, but if home is where the heart is, this isn’t quite home yet.

Part of me wishes that we had spent those years somewhere closer, somewhere that we could feasibly go back and visit when we wanted to. Somewhere that when we left, it didn’t feel so final.

Part of me wishes we had connected less, enjoyed less, been more ready to go.

But that part of me is the coward, the easy way out. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. The good, the hard, the beautiful, the ugly. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I know who I am in St Andrews, with the friends that gave me the confidence to find that person. And it took years to get to that point. Just like it will take time to get there again. To learn a new way of life for our family back on this side of the pond.

Life is not always a means to an end. In the academic world it is easy to think that this time is just the wait for the next exam, graduation, the job. It’s just the in between. But I have realized that if I view each stage as just the wait for the next thing, I’m going to miss all kinds of life in the in between. I’ve realized this before, and it’s a hard thing to allow to mold your perspective. But, there it is.

I’m sure there will be plenty more tears shed. Transition is hard, especially when you’re leaving a place that has meant so much. But, each day is a gift. The Lord is always working and there is always something to be grateful for. This in between? It’s going to be good. I can feel it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Silly Boys

Trying on Mama’s glasses

Sometimes if I need to put Asher to bed while I’m home alone with both boys, I set Aed up with a Bob the Builder episode so he doesn’t have a fit because he can’t come with us. One day I came down to find this..

Perhaps he feels he can really take in the drama from there as opposed to sitting on the couch?

And the other one.. That six-monther.. well.. he may be six months old, but he can still fit longways on the couch. So.

I don’t know why but this picture totally cracks me up..

This was Asher’s contribution a while back to helping carry the groceries home. Such a helpful wee soul! :)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Throw it in a pan!

A spring-form pan! I got on a baking kick a month or two ago and used my springform pan for some delectable treats that I thought I’d share.. because that is what I do.

Remember how much I love baking? Mmhmm.

We had a neighbor come for dinner and she is of the classy sort, so I wanted to make something extra special for dessert for her. I came up with a fudge truffle cheesecake with homemade whipped cream and strawberries.

An unassuming chocolate wedge, but it was so, so much better than it looks. I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed a cheesecake more than that one.

Then, it was Thanksgiving and fittingly, I was in charge of coming up with a dessert. I knew without hesitation I would be making a layered pumpkin cheesecake. I don’t like pumpkin pie, but I really like pumpkin cheesecake! I’ve been making variations of this since Ian and I got married. This time I made it with a shortbread cookie crust which, with a few tweaks, will suit it nicely next time around.

Again with the homemade whipped cream. I’ve been doing that since we moved here and I may never go back, it’s so good! That will be something I’ll have to figure out America-style after we’ve moved.

THEN, we had a few brunches with friends and I was in charge of making a quiche for one of them. While I enjoyed making the quichey-quiche (with my sous-chef, Ian), I did not enjoy eating it, though everyone else did (or at least said they did..). I think I’m not a quiche person. Though I'm quite happy to say it over and over again, as you have seen. (Quiche?)

Not what you’re supposed to do, but I spring-form-panned it. I thought it would look nice that way, and I think it did. So.

And here are two of our mini-brunchers.. Aren’t they so cute!!?

I also made some delicious chocolate chip scones (which is what Aed's mouth is full of) that will be given a call-back at some point. No photo of them. I bet you could make those in a spring-form pan, too, though! Scone cake? Maybe!

So here’s where we break the trend and go back to the 9x13 dish. Boring, but yummy!

These are raspberry almond bars I made for a church potluck. I was going to make a cookie version of this that I was introduced to by the famous Holly Tallon, but couldn’t bear the thought of all that opening and closing of the oven. Not to mention all the getting up and sitting back down. We’re tired 'round these parts. So I found a bar version! Perfect! And really good. I got only rave reviews for this recipe.

::slightly different topic::

Now, I know I have mentioned this before, a long time ago, but Ian and I LOVE Master Chef. It is just a fabulous show, and oh-so-inspiring. Ian made one of our ‘easy’ dinners a week or two ago, and this is what I was served :)

I had to take a picture. That is carrot mash (it was supposed to be puree, but we don’t have a food processor anymore..) spiced with cinnamon! It was a very nice addition. He tells me this was not the presentation he had in mind, but it definitely spiced up my life :)

Now before you get your panties in a twist because I posted a million delicious things and no recipes.. here are the recipes:

Quiche (recipe via Joy Sonju)

Spinach and Bacon Quiche (Paula Deen)

6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach, packed
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 9-inch refrigerated pie crust

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Combine eggs, cream, salt and pepper in food processor or blender. Wilt the spinach and drain well. Layer spinach, bacon and cheese in the bottom of the pie crust and pour egg mixture on top. Bake 35-45 minutes until egg mixture is set.

Chocolate chip scones (I just added chunks of dark chocolate to this recipe) 

As for the whipped cream.. I am sorry to say I have no recipe. I just dump some whipping cream or double cream into a bowl with some icing (powdered) sugar and some vanilla and whisk until it thickens. You can pretty much just do it to your taste.

Now, go dust off that spring-form pan and have at it! :)