This blog is no longer being updated, but if you like what you see here, be sure to join me over at Life Pared Down!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I've moved!

The new space is all ready to go!

Check it out here: http://lifepareddown.blogspot.com/ and make sure to update your bookmarks.

I'm excited about the new space and have lots of great stuff planned. Come join me over there.

This space will stay up as a resource and an archive.

Monday, July 02, 2012


I'm just taking a small hiatus while I get the new blog sorted out and deal with a few things that have made life busier than usual lately. I think it'll be a few weeks, but maybe less!

Stay tuned for info on the new blog!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Beauty of a Storm

Well, the weather forecast predicted heavy rain, and I suppose I can give them props for calling it right this time. As I was coming home from the Friday toddler group I attend, I couldn't help but notice how heavy the air was with humidity. It was raining, well, misting a little really, and I thought how it could potentially cause a thunderstorm.

I hated thunderstorms as a child. My most vivid memory is this one storm that really sounded like a train had collided with the house as it was passing along. Having grown up in a community smack dab in an agricultural region I was used to the heavy noise of a train.

This scared the hell out of me.

I vaguely remember crying and my mom coming in to comfort us (I shared a room with my younger brother then).

Now, thunderstorms don't exactly scare me, but they sure do get my heart racing. But this time, when that flash of lightning occurs, I wait with anticipation to see whereabouts it is, using the 1second= 1 kilometre rule. That moment when the horrifically loud clap sounds over your head and rattles your home immediately after the flash is thrilling at the same time as it's a little terrifying. I mean, you know what it is, so you can't really be scared, but I suppose it's the same adrenaline rush that causes people to want to watch horror films.

Inevitably though, there is a build up of pressure and the clouds just burst, pounding everything in rain. And even when you think it can't get any harder, it does, saturating everything and bouncing hard off of every surface. Sometimes it hails, sometimes it doesn't.

It passes and then the calm returns and the world seems that much more quiet, peaceful.

I should note that this was a particularly loud storm. K slept right through it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Little Validation

I'm still here… really. Actually, last week was crazy busy as hubby was away, but more about that soon.

Been musing over things and making some decisions. I will be starting a new blog soon. Just working out all the details. For now, I'll keep writing here.

I had an amazing, if rather surreal, moment yesterday at the playground in the park near our flat. We had just gotten there and K beelined for the swings. I put her in and start pushing and chatting with her. In the next swing was a little boy (probably about 18 months) pushed by our dad. He made some comment about how his son constantly changed his mind (as the boy tried to climb out) and I laughed and agreed. Then he looked at me and said, "I don't mean to be rude, but where are you from?"

I get that a lot. There are quite a few North American ex-pats in our area and you can pick us out of a crowd quite easily. The accent helps with that.

I replied that I was from Canada. He smiled and said that he always wondered when he heard someone who wasn't from around here. I made my comment about the multitude of ex-pats and a woman chasing her own 2.5 year old boy near the larger swings smiled and nodded. She asked me where in Canada I was from in a very clearly North American accent. I said Vancouver. She got excited. Apparently, she was from the USA and had a friend living in Vancouver. Turns out the man was from Ireland and had moved to Glasgow a little while ago.

We got to talking and really quite seriously, she glommed onto us, peppering us with questions about settling here. She had been here a month and a half. Some of her questions/concerns included:

-needing adult conversation
-not knowing how to meet people in a new place
-dealing with the uncertainty of knowing you might only be there a little while (hard to commit to things)
-finding ways to get out of the house more
-dealing with the not so nice weather
-missing home

It occurred to me that I was her a year ago. And there was this empowering thing for both of us in my being able to reassure her that what she was going through was normal, and that I could help her feel that her thoughts and feelings were validated.

I gave her my mobile number and am hoping she texts and that I see her again. She was a lot of fun and our kids are the same age (well, she has a second who's 6 months). It would be great to help her settle and here's the kicker for me… have a social life.

Who'd have thought.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


So um, yeah, hi.

Been awhile.

The visit with my family was wonderful in ways I'm not sure I can even express. I still have photos to edit and convert and a to-do list that is crazy long, but I'm still here… sort of.

Debating on something and I think I need feedback.

I always said I would never move on from this blog name/theme etc. Now I'm starting to think maybe it's time. Or maybe I need a second space.

Except that I don't think I can stay on top of a full second blog. I can barely keep up with my photography blog at the moment.

So while I sort out my priorities and what will work best for me, I'm polling the people here:

Do I start over with a new blog for a clean start (I have some interesting ideas for it)?

Do I keep this one for the more in depth musings and keep another for photos/recipes/life stuff?


While we ponder over this together, here's a pic. :p

Attack of the 60-foot woman… and her camera. Run!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cooking for the Soul: Easy Peasy Gourmet Summer Salad

After 11 hours on trains (ie. lots and lots of sitting) and eating out constantly, I was never more happy to eat salad with dinner again. I really love salad, but dressings are always an issue. I want a healthy one and I don't want to pay lots for something I try and don't like and it ends up sitting in the fridge unused.

So I make my own. In a small bowl with a whisk. Nothing fancy.

Olive oil and balsamic is a simple classic. Just drizzle a little of each right over each. But for something a bit more complex (but still really easy to make), try this:

-juice from half a lemon
-one clove of garlic, minced
-twice as much extra virgin olive oil as you have juice
-pinch of sea salt
-a little ground pepper
-half a teaspoon of grainy or dijon mustard.

1. Soak the minced garlic in the lemon juice to ease the sharpness of the raw garlic. I do this at the beginning of when I cook dinner, and then toss the rest of the dressing together before serving.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients.
3. Whisk. The mustard will bind it together so if you don't serve it right away, it shouldn't separate too much.

For the salad I place a large handful of greens on my plate. Top with sliced bell peppers (I love red, yellow or orange for this), very thinly sliced red onion, sliced strawberries. Drizzle the dressing over top and then sprinkle some nice shredded cheese on top (I like gruyere or parmesan).

Presto! You're done.

It's light, tasty and healthy. And the best part is you can add, omit or adjust things as you please. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


At 10pm, it's only now just dusk here. And cooler. Have I mentioned the amazing summer weather we're having? It's currently 20 degrees celsius. It is moments like this that I am grateful that the front of our flat faces North and that it stays rather cool in the summer. It wrecks havoc on our heating bill in the winter, but at least we don't need a fan, especially when there is a cool breeze is wafting through, like right now.

My family is here. My parents arrived this afternoon via Amsterdam and after settling into their hotel, came on over to the falt. K was sleeping finally after fighting taking her nap. But we play that game enough and I know she needs the sleep, as evidenced by her being so passed out, she didn't hear my parents and I enter her room to wake her up early so she had time to acclimate to the new-ish presences before we went for dinner.

I'm not sure I can adequately express how much it means to have hugged my parents again. To hold them tight and feel their familiar embraces. Tomorrow I get to see my brother and his girlfriend and do it again. It's both surreal and wonderful.

There are lots of adventures to be had over the next week and a half, and I'm very much looking forward to them.

 Summer haze in the park

Monday, May 21, 2012

Impending Visits and Other Things

The cool, slightly storming weather has disappeared and we have been suddenly graced with warmer dry weather. The timing couldn't be better as my family arrives here on Thursday! I'm very much looking forward to the visit and all the fun we will have. On the list of things to do/places to go are a trip to the Highlands and the Isle of Skye this coming weekend, and some shopping with the girls. My brother and his girlfriend are in Ireland right now and having a good time as noted by the facebook updates when they have a wi-fi signal.

In other news, hubby was away last week and it was a very, very long week. K was good though, but the days were long. By the end of them, I was exhausted and it took a while to decompress, so I ended up going to be later than I really should have. Then of course she decided to wake up earlier than usual…

Like I said, a long but good week. We spent a quiet weekend when he got home catching up and enjoying the dry weather.

Today is warming up to 16 degrees celsius and it's been sunny on and off. So we got out today to enjoy it, camera slung over my shoulder and jackets unzipped (and then later off).

She was in the middle of spinning in circles…

Bluebells grow all over the UK, including in people's gardens…

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Photo of the Day: Fresh Rain

If there's something that spring brings lots of here, it's heavy showers. The weather flits back and forth in a rather fickle way between dry and slightly sunny to torrential downpour and back again in 2-3 minutes easy.

The beauty about being out for a walk after said downpour is that everything is bathed in water after, and it's hard to be annoyed too long since all this rain is what makes the landscape around us so very green.

Looking at this particular image, that curled C of gathered water reminder me of a big fat caterpillar! Or maybe an accordian. Nah, I'm leaning towards the caterpillar.

Monday, May 14, 2012

When the Cat's Away…

Hubby is currently on route to Geneva for a few days to give a talk at a workshop, so it's just K and I and whatever mischief we can get into.

Well, not exactly. The spring storms have hit and for the next few days, it's not looking so nice. But I'm hoping that means we'll get a break the following week when my family converges on Glasgow for a visit! It's been over a year since we seen them and while I love Skype dearly, it's not quite the same. I was looking at the passport photo of K yesterday and it just shocked me to see how much she's changed since it was taken! Though my family has "chatted" with her over Skype, I really do think they will be shocked to see how big she's gotten. She truly is a small person in her own right, with attitude and opinions and everything. It truly boggles the mind to think of sometimes.

So five days with Baby-Girl on my own. I've actually finally gotten the hang of it and the last time R was away, we were just fine and had a good time. I know this time will be the same. K is over the cold she had the week before, which will make things easier since she's back to napping properly and isn't entirely miserable with her congestion.

Looking at my list this week, some is usual, others are a little different:

-picking a few things up from the shops
-trip to the library to get new books for K
-call Letting Agent to get an engineer in to check the fan inside the oven (it rattles so badly I think it'll fly apart!)
-make an appointment with the small business accountants
-finish the last bits of my business plan and financials
-at least one day with my camera,
-fiddle with business card design (opting for some super basic, inexpensive ones since I can't do much more at the time)
-Playgroup on Friday

And somewhere in there is all the reading and writing I do. Have I mentioned I'm on my own this week?

On a completely random note, K loves singing along to things and while she can't say the words really at all, it is terribly cute and makes me smile constantly. It's a nice break from the part of the terrible twos that is possibly the worst: The Hitting Phase. Yes, it is in full swing and man can she hit hard! :( We're doing our best to be consistent in not letting her and trying to get her to channel her frustration in better ways, but man it is ever hard! There are some moments I get rather upset because she thinks it's funny, and in those moments I just sigh and know she'll understand in time. These things don't click in their minds right away. Empathy is a complex skill to develop, and while she shows it in some ways, we know the rest will come in time.