Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Photos of Orkney!

The gorgeous quite eerie standing stones that are over 5,000 years old! They are beautiful!
The sunsetting over Scapa Flow. It was breathtaking and the sound of the sea was so calming.

I have to get going for dinner before we get the ferry at 11.45pm. So I thought before I go I'd give you a wee taster of my photos from Orkney.

I will blog again once I'm back on Friday. Take Care Jen x

I LOVE Orkney!



Corinne and I have been in Orkney since Sunday night. It is 6 hours by ferry from the Aberdeen on the mainland. It was a really choppy journey over as the crossing is where the Atlantic and the North sea join.

These islands are beautiful and so peaceful and the people are SO SO SO SO friendly!! I could move here tomorrow. We have been on the main island staying just outside Kirkwall and have done lots of exploring as we have had the last two days off. The ferry doesn't return until tonight when we will go home. I would urge anyone to make the trip here. The views alone are worth it!

To find out more information click here.

Burn's Supper Favours

As I was travelling away for work from the 22nd of Jan I was going to miss this years Burn's Supper at the rugby club. Nathan was organizing it as he did last year and carrying out duties as Chairman on the night introducing all the speakers on the top table.

Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796) (also known as Rabbie Burns, Scotland's favourite son, the Ploughman Poet) was a poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots Language. Every year around the 25th of January we celebrate his birthday and all things Scottish. This year is a special celebration as it's 250 years since his birth.
Click Here for more information on the format of a Burns Supper.

I had said I would make some favours for the tables (I made Scottish Tablet last year and had also arranged the flowers with Susan from my floristry class)

So I kept my promise and on Wednesday night I spent the evening wrapping up Macaroons in little cellophane packages with ribbon and roses. Nathan was such a huge help as I had to also pack for my trip to.

You can not get more of a traditional Scottish sweet (candy) than Macaroon, originally made from mashed potato, icing sugar, then coated in chocolate and toasted coconut you now don’t use potato as it just does not keep. They taste so sugary but are SO good!!
I used white roses with blue ribbon (Accies Rugby colours), red roses (inspired by a Burn's poem) with blue tartan ribbon and white roses with red tartan ribbon.
This was the box of favours I left for Nathan to take to the club on the Saturday- 80+ favours!!
A selection of the favours.

Stirling Observer Photos

I can't copy the photos that the newspaper- The Stirling Observer took of us but here are the links so you can have a look for yourself.

They are not very flattering! It would have to be the morning that I was running late, didn't have time for a shower and put my hair back in a hairband that we were suprised with the photographer turning up to take some shots of us!! Oh well at least I look smiley and my complexion looks good!

Click Here for number 1 a photo of Abby and I
Click Here for number 2 a photo of Abby and I and the Staff at the Callander Coop store.

Scenery around Scotland

As I mentioned in my previous post I have been travelling around all of Scotland for the last few weeks. Here are some of the most dramatic photos of the landscapes as we past them by.

These photos are of the Wallace Monument and the Hillfoots around Stirling.
Abby drove us back from Moffat which is in the South East of Scotland. The weather is notorious and this was the very snowy road on the passage nicknamed the Devil's Beeftub!

This is what the side of the road looked like. The Sat Nav said it would take us about 2 1/2 hours to get home and thankfully it didn't take too much longer even though we were travelling at 30 m/ph for most of the journey!
Corinne and I stayed in Portsoy near Banff on Friday and Saturday night and this was the gorgeous view on the road between the two on the Saturday afternoon. It was so sunny and sadly we had to work that day!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Healthy Living campaign

A picture of me in store handing out bags for life with information on Healthy Living and fridge magnets with the healthy living messages- try to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Put fruit on top of your cereal. Tinned, frozen or fresh fruit counts towards your five a day. Swap to wholemeal bread and many more!

Well I feel like I've been away for months!! It's only been 2-3 weeks but boy has this campaign taken it out of me!
I've been getting up at 6am to make my porridge for breakfast- with fruit on top (one of my five a day!) and then I've also been making a coffee or tea in a thermos cup to take with me and then heating up some weightwatchers or other healthy soup in a flask for lunch... it's been like a military operation but I've needed to do it... for my health and for the money! Working on the road is so expensive if you are buying your breakfast and lunch every day and if you are not careful you just eat rubbish! But if I'm telling the great Scottish public about healthy living I thought I should be doing the same!!

The healthy living campaign has gone really well. We have been travelling all over Scotland and have seen some amazing places. For the first two weeks I was getting to come home every night but now I've been away since last Thursday. (and I'm missing Nathan!!)
It was quite exciting last week as we had some local press in two of the small towns we were in come and take photos of the campaign... I will have to see if I can get a copy of the papers to put on my blog!

I spent the first two weeks with a lovely girl Abby who I worked with on another government campaign last year but for the last 5 days my friend Corinne has joined me as Abby had a family celebration to return for. And it's worked out well as now we are in Orkney. Orkney is 6 hours ferry ride from Aberdeen on the main land and it was so choppy getting over here! It is a beautiful place and the people are lovely! I have never been here before and we are excited as it's our first day off... I have not had a day off for 2 weeks! So it's great that I'm with a friend and we are going to go on some adventures today!

I have so much other news but I need to get going now.

Corinne has her laptop with her so I'll try and get it all done and updated tonight.

Big hugs to the world out there from a sunny Orkney! x

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Tea Jennie, Gin Guzzler and Homemaker!

I've had a lovely weekend and as I get ready to rest my weary head I thought I'd do a 'quick' post before I start a hectic week!
Banana Bread
Yesterday, Saturday was such miserable weather and as Nathan was away on the west coast, back to playing after a long recovery for his knee ligament, I was left to potter around myself. I decided that as I will be busy over the next two weeks I would cook up a storm in the kitchen to prepare some meals ahead of time and also cut costs on lunches.So I made a couple of batches of cottage pie, a crumble which went in the freezer, lovely banana bread and Italian Glory Soup. My idea was the soup and banana bread could be for lunches this week but they are already pretty much gone! I also made homemade houmous and banoffee pie pots for dinner- very tasty!
I also had a good clean up of the lounge making sure all the pine needles from the Christmas tree are gone- the gaps in the wooden floor are full of them!! And I made our bathrooms gleam! I was very proud of my hard days work when Nathan returned in the evening! Domestic Goddess indeed!

[I love when my house is clean and tidy. I own too many things for it ever to be fully tidy and minimal. I have a constant battle with myself. I adore all my books, cooking utensils, tableware, craft things, stationary, shoes, clothes etc but I wish I could live with it all put away and everything in it's place. At the moment there is too much stuff for everything to have a place!!]

On Saturday Nathan was playing for the seconds team to ease himself in and gain his place back again. Both the seconds and firsts won so that means they go to the next round of the cup. In the league however they are not fairing so well especially as the teams closest to them on the table won this weekend! Let's hope they don't end up in the relegation zone!!

Then today I went and met Hannah at a new tea shop on Bread Street called Tea Tree Tea- I'm all about the tea shops at the moment!! It was great tea and has a very different offering to the Starbucks next door!

We then walked into town and had a look in the gorgeous lingerie boutique- Boudiche. I LOVE this shop! It is all so elegant and they look after you so well when you go in there. If you take your other half in they sometimes even offer them a wee whiskey and a seat to keep them amused or maybe to elevate the shock when the till is rung up! Since they had a sale on Hannah and I thought we'd take a peep but there was nothing in my size. There were however great reductions and they do have such beautiful underwear!!

I then went back to Eteaket, the fantastic tea room I was at last weekend, to meet up with my friend from school, Julie. I haven't seen her for AGES and it was so good to catch up on her news. It's funny how when you get together with friends you've known for a long time it is so easy to talk and it feels as if you only saw them yesterday.

After we'd had a good gossip and catch up Julie was telling me about the gin that her boyfriend Sam was promoting called Martin Millers. Well I LOVE my gin- Hendricks is my favourite. Good Scottish Gin! I love it's blossomy distinctive taste! You serve Hendricks with a slice of cucumber instead of lime and I adore when you get to the bottom of your glass and can eat the gin soaked cucumber slice (I am actually sounding a bit like I have a problem!!)Anyways Julie took me to Ricks, a bar in Fredrick Street just down from Eteaket to try a Millers gin and I have to say I was not displeased! We stayed for a couple and then I had to get home to organize myself for this week. (How glad was I that I'd made my cottage pie for tea yesterday!)

So all in all a great weekend. Catching up with old friends, drinking tea and gin but not at the same time and getting the house in order.

For the next 17 days I am working on a Government project for the Healthy Living Campaign. We are going to the Cooperative stores throughout Scotland handing out information on having a healthier lifestyle. I am looking forward to it as I get to work with Abby who I was with on the St Andrew's Do activity last year.

The highlight (which sadly Abby can't be there for) is a trip to two stores on Orkney. Orkney is a Scottish Island far off the mainland. I have never been but I am really looking forward to it.

And speaking of healthier lifestyles I have made it to the gym twice this week!! Same number as all 10 months I had my membership last year!! Hooray!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Boneless Buffalo Wings

I love hot wings! The hotter the better! The only place that does them well here is Hard Rock Cafe. Sometimes if Nathan and I are out in town during the day we will pop in for hot chicken tenders (hot chicken fillets are slightly better for you than the wings!) and a drink.... but I crave hot sauce!!

Nando's has opened up near us but by the time you get a meal for two- even just take away it is so expensive!

So I was delighted to find this recipe on my friend Heidi's new recipe blog.

I made them for Nathan and I's dinner the other night- since hot sauce isn't readily available here it was Nando's sauce that I used from the supermarket.

They were delicious!! I used a cup of oil in the bottom of a wok as I don't have a deep fat fryer and my le creuset was being used for soup. It worked well and cooked the chicken right the way through. Actually I was shocked at how tender and juicy the chicken was.

So next time I have a hot sauce craving I know what to make!! Delicious! Thanks Heidi!

Boneless Buffalo Wings – Natalie Copeland

1 C. flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika

1 egg
1 cup milk

2 chicken breast fillets
4-6 cups vegetable oil
1/4 cup Crystal or Frank's Louisiana hot sauce
1 TBSP margarine

Directions:
  • Combine dry ingredients in bowl in another bowl, whisk egg and milk slice each chicken into 6 pieces
  • preheat oil to 375
  • dip chicken into egg mixture then breading blend, repeat so each piece is double coated when all pieces have been breaded, chill for 15 minutes
  • when chicken is done resting, drop each piece into hot oil and fry for 5-6 minutes or until browned
  • as chicken fries, combine hot sauce and margarine and microwave until margarine is melted (I used a ban marie on the hob as our microwave is broken)
  • when chicken is done frying remove them to a plate line with paper towel place chicken into covered container, pour sauce over chicken, cover with lid and shake gently
  • once chicken is coated with sauce, pour onto play and serve with blue cheese dressing and celery

Eteaket Tea Room

I have a new favourite cafe or should I say tea room- Eteaket! It's only been open for 4 weeks and is fantastic! We drove past it at the beginning of the Christmas holidays so I thought I must try it- most of you know that I LOVE my cups of tea!

There are days when I have about 10 cups a day. Personally I blame my Grandma who introduced us to tea at a young age. When we stayed with her we would always wake early and make a cup of tea and sit by the fire. We'd each get a rich tea biscuit (cookie) to dip into our cuppa and my Grandma would dip hers in and then feed it to her 'lassie' dog who would sit at her feet on the sheepskin rug.

There is nothing better than tea out of a china cup and at eteaket they serve you a large boden teapot with milk jug, china cups and also a timer- so your tea is brewed just right!
I met Hannah there for an afternoon cup of tea... which was so reasonably priced or is it just that I am used to the price of coffee when I'm out and about?

I loved their decor as it was so fresh and different. So if you are in Edinburgh and looking for somewhere new to go I couldn't recommend it enough! I'm going back this Sunday to met my friend Julie from school- a fellow tea lover.
I loved this ball of holly, ribbons, baubles and flowers in their window- so striking!
The tea room is on fredrick street just underneath Charlie Miller's Hairdresser.

My mum joined Hannah and I after about an hour and she caught up with Hannah and then Mum and I went to the final day of the Gerhard Richter exhibition at the Mound.

I was really glad that I saw the exhibition as I enjoy a lot of his work. I prefer the more figurative photo-paintings but I even liked the abstract work- much to my surprise!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

New Year's Resolutions!

Saturday 3rd January 2009!

Well I was so pleased about my Saturday as I managed to achieve 4 resolutions in one day!

1. Actually use my gym membership!
Nathan and I spent the morning in the gym. I didn't push myself too much but it was good!

2. Have more lovely dates with Nathan
We spent the whole day together doing fun activities!

3. Visit Museums and Art Galleries
We went to the National Museum of Scotland which was really interesting and had beautiful views of the castle and the city from their rooftop.

4. Try new restaurants/ cafes
After the museum we went to Peter's Yard a new artisan bread and pastry cafe (I mentioned it in my blog the other day) Yum!
The view of the castle at sunset from the roof of the National Museum of ScotlandNathan on the roof of the museum looking onto the castle.
After we had been to Peter's Yard we walked down the Mound to see if the German Market was still there but it had already been packed up. The Highland Market was still up as was the ice rink but since Nathan missed training due to his bad knee we didn't think his coach would appreciate him ice skating! Princes Street Gardens looked so beautiful with all the lights in the trees!
A passer by took this photo of us and felt the need to take a full length photo (which isn't easy with Nathan!) but hey this way you can see my new Christmas gifts- Hobbs cords and peeping out are my new brown boots from LKBennet (thank you Mum and Dad!!)
Cheesy grins for the camera! Looking into Princes Street Gardens and onto the Balmoral.
I love when we make the most of the amazing city that we live in! It's hard to make time but when you do it's so worth it! Millions of people come here to visit every year and I want to make sure we don't miss out on the wonder that is on our doorstep!

So here's to keeping up with these and my other new years resolutions!

Girlie Dinner!

Friday the 2nd of January!

I had a lovely evening with the Dundee girlies. Lynne and her husband Rhys were across from Ireland to stay with his family for Christmas so came down for the day to visit the girlies. Emma B was also up from London to stay with her family and came to Edinburgh on the way back again.

I hadn't seen Emma G since before I'd had the flu so we had a good catch up and Hillary and I got to exchange Christmas gifts- she gave me the best recipe book on cupcakes- they are so creative so watch this space!!

After drinks at Emma and Sean's (who have the warmest house ever- hence my warm cheeks in the photo!- or maybe it's just that Nathan and I live in an igloo so I'm not used to it!..) we went to my favourite restaurant in Edinburgh The Outsider- I love their 'Chunky Healthy Lines' (tasty food on skewers) they are so good! You can have them as a starter to share or as a main all to yourself! (that's what I did!) and it was good!!

We returned to the warmest house in Edinburgh after dinner for more glasses of vino but with an early dinner the evening came to an end about 10.30- what's with all these early nights!!?

The girlies are planning to go down to London for Emma B and Hillary's birthday's at the end of February so I am hoping I will have enough money to go too! (fingers crossed!)

New Years Day!

New Years Eve was very quiet this year. We took it easy and I made a tasty Haggis dinner for Hogmanny. Nathan's friends Ramen, who had a cold (so hot toddies all round!) and Kells, who was not drinking as he was playing in the Edinburgh vs Glasgow rugby game were with us for the evening but once we saw in the bells we weren't up much later. Makes a change from those 6am nights we've had in previous years!

Nathan's Mum and Dad arrived back on New Years Eve after a long flight from the far east. So we invited them for lunch on New Years Day to save Lily from cooking.
I loved laying the table for another dinner and this time my theme was winter frost! My centre piece was a white feather wreath around a silver pillar candle with glass beads wrapped around it. I also had matching silver tapered candles that Lily had gotten me from the Pier. The Ivy leaves which I scattered have silver glitter along their edges- I wasn't sure if they were a bit too much!! But they looked nice in the candle light.

Each place setting had a silver charger with our blue and white plates on top. I used chunky 'diamond' shapes as the frost! The napkins, which I bought at least 3 years ago but had never used had white, silver and blue in them and were wrapped with a silver snowflake napkin ring. The glasses even had silver snow flake charms on the stem- which I bought last year and had never used! (I loved that I got to use my tableware that has been stored for so long! It's great when you unpack boxes from storage- it's like buying all new items!!)
Lily and Neil were so generous to us this Christmas and I was therefore so surprised when they returned from their holiday with more lovely treats! My favourite was my stems of orchids all the way from Thailand! Lily must have brought back about 80 stems!! Gorgeous!
Nathan and I used the same tomato soup recipe that we'd had on Christmas Day and served Crombie's Steak Pie as the main accompanied by veg and more goosefat potatoes! Yum! Then I served up the second Christmas Pudding as dessert which was a big hit.

It was so nice to entertain Nathan's Parents as it's usually us who are being catered for!
Monday 29th December- After moving the final items out of my storage unit first thing in the morning Nathan and I joined my Mum, Dad, Becky and Dougie at the Musselburgh races New Years meet.

We did this 2 years ago as a family day out and it was a lot of fun. The first time we went together Nathan's Mum and Dad joined us but they were still on holiday in Thailand this year.

We had a great day and Nathan and I pretty much broke even. My mum was the only one who won anything of note- mind you Becky, Dougie, Nathan and I were only betting £2 each way for most races! Although Nathan and I had a good winning system going of betting exactly what we won spread over 2 horses- so the bookie was having to deal with bets of £2.27 each way- clearly I'm not a seasoned veteran of the horses!! But we had a good giggle!
Nathan and I all wrapped up from the bitter cold!
My Mum and DadBecky and Dougie
The boys analyzing the horses- Becky and I were picking the horse by the name we liked or the jockey's colours we preferred!
Family shot! - why Nathan, who is much taller than everyone anyway, felt the need to stand on the highest step is beyond me!! We are not really all that small! Although I'm liking that I don't look like the smallest for once!
After the races we drove down to Gullane for dinner. This was the view over the golf course. The old clubhouse where we had dinner.
I've been loving the log fires this holiday! It made it so cosy and festive!

A great day out and one that will hopefully continue as a fun tradition but with better luck next year!!

After Eight's in the Bailie!

Sunday 28th- We joined a big group of friends from the Rugby club for lunch at 1pm. There were about 15 of us there and lunch soon turned into an afternoon in the pub. We had loads of fun! The Bailie is a great pub in Stockbridge with a real log fire and they let dogs in so Dan and Emily were able to bring Murphy in to join in the fun! Now I am not questioning why, but just before Christmas Nathan bought new clothes consisting of: a pair of dungarees, 4 lumberjack shirts and big boots!!!! I don't know if there is an impending move to the country that I don't know about but he loves his new look so who am I to say anything!! But I have not had to as all the boys- his school friends that he saw on Christmas Eve and the rugby boys we were out to lunch with have made fun of his clothing choice! But he's a good sport and when everyone insisted that he wear his dungarees on the outside of his shirt he obliged- Emily even added a red napkin so he really did look like a train driver!! My hillbilly!
The best bit of our afternoon in the Bailie was Jamie's game which his family play every Christmas. You get an After Eight (square mint chocolate) and place it on your forehead. You have to move your face so it slides down (with control!) and into your mouth. It is pretty hard and you look like an idiot and end up with chocolate all done your face but I have never laughed so hard! .. and I managed to do it!! Hooray! Nathan was in the shop across the road whilst we were in the pub and a guy was buying a packet as he'd seen us playing in the pub!! (he also probably heard us as we were pretty loud!) So much fun!!
Jamie showing us how it's done!!
Jamie, Nathan and Dan- it's the face movements that crack me up! and the chocolate on the face!
Wendy and Lorna watching as Emily attempts to play the After 8 game!
Wendy, Kirsty, Ed and Nathan outside the Bailie- it was beautifully decorated for the holidays.