Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Reformation Day

On October 31, 1517, Luther posted his 95 thesis on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, unknowingly sparking the Protestant Reformation.

His intent was to initiate a debate on the doctrine and practices of indulgences, but instead, this event sparked a controversy that resulted in the excommunication of Luther and his followers in 1520 ... and the Lutheran tradition was born. This eased the later creation of the Reformed and Anabaptist traditions.

Check out the Internet Christian Library ( to read Luther's 95 Theses.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Blitz-It Friday

Grab My Blog Button!This week I blitzed on three separate occasions, just because it is such a great way to get things done.

First I blitzed the kitchen. This is one of my least favorite chores, and sometimes I let it get really bad. Monday was one of those days. The only way to motivate myself to tackle the mess was to set the timer and tell myself I only had to work on it for 10 minutes. I was moving so fast that I finished the entire kitchen (except the floor) before the timer went off.

On Wednesday I set my timer for 20 minutes to pick up and vacuum the entire house. No deep cleaning, just putting away all the stuff that clutters our living room, kitchen table, dresser tops, etc. And the floors really needed a good vacuum. I almost finished in time, but I was still moving the couch back when the timer beeped.

My last blitz was yesterday, a beautiful sunny morning. It was really a desperate attempt to get my laundry out on the lines early enough to dry completely. With the "help" of my kids, I managed to change the sheets and duvets on all the beds, hang up three loads of laundry, and clean the kitchen floors. I forgot to turn the timer on, but we got so much done in high speed.

I love blitzing! I need to use this method everyday. Imagine how much I could accomplish!

Happy Blitzing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What if it is raining?

I have been functioning without a clothes dryer for almost a month now. This is a hard time of year to learn how to line dry clothing, with autumn rains arriving and winter cold on its way. So how do I dry my clothes when it is raining and cold?

As you might have guessed ... dry them inside.

We have these great racks that fit one small load of laundry. The clothes can take up to 24 hours to dry. But sometimes I can hang them outside in the wind for a few hours and cut down the drying time.

The racks have to be placed in a warm, ventilated room. This rules out the bathroom, or any convenient place to "hide" the laundry. Our prime drying spot is the living room - the one room that is kept fairly warm throughout the evenings. I also set the racks right next to the heat source.

So most days of the week, our home is strewn with laundry and looks something like this...

Our flat, along with most in Scotland, is heated by radiators.
There are these great racks that fit directly onto radiators, made for drying clothing on rainy days.

I try to reserve this prime drying space for the harder-to-dry items, like jeans and thick pajamas.

After an hour or two, I flip the pants over to dry the other side.

Another fancy trick I discovered for larger items, like bed sheets, is the dining room chairs. I was pleasantly surprised that this sheet was dry in only a few hours (and it was a fun "hiding place" for the kids while it dried).

There are other great racks and drying units that people use. One that I have heard about, and want to find for myself, is something like this "spinner" sock dryer.

I have also seem much more "open" drying racks that allow clothes to "breath" more than my racks do. These would probably shorten the drying time significantly, but they also require more room around the radiators than we have in our flat.

If you are thinking about line drying your clothing, I would like to encourage you to explore all the possibilities. There are such great benefits to line drying - extend the life of your clothes, save energy and money, good excuse to get outside, and many more.

And there are great options these days - temporary lines in the shower, drying racks, etc. You also don't have to do everything at once, "cold turkey", like I did. You can always start slowly, drying a few items that are especially prone to "dryer" wear, like socks and underclothing. Or maybe just line dry one load a month.

Stay tuned for tips and more information about my journey into the realm of line drying.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

King's College

The University of Aberdeen is the third oldest University in Aberdeen. It was originally established as King's College in 1495. Much of the original college buildings still remain.

Today, King's College houses the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy for the University of Aberdeen, where my husband studies theology with great men and women from around the world.

King’s College Chapel has been at the heart of this community for 500 years. The students still gather here each morning for prayer before classes begin. It is incredible to become a part of the spiritual history of this place!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Beautiful Hydrangeas!

Hydrangeas are very popular here in Aberdeen. We have two of them in our yard.

These hydrangeas are primarily dark pinks. I have never seen such deep color in hydrangeas before, although they seem to be the same breed that we have in the United States.

I am fascinated by these beautiful plants. Their color is based on the presence of aluminum in the soil; which is normally determined by the pH balance.

Blue colors are produced in very acidic soils. Neutral or alkaline soil produces pink flowers. Medium pH levels (slightly acidic) result in purple flowers.

Our home and garden is brightened by the incredible colors created by the extreme alkaline levels here! Beautiful!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We finally have our new refrigerator and we are thrilled. We have had salad several times this week and our shopping trip today stuffed the fridge full of wonderful, fresh fruits and veggies!

Here is what I am going to try for this week:

Menu for this week:
  • Monday --Jacket Potatoes

  • Tuesday -- Chicken Chili (Crockpot) - I am adapting a few recipes and substituting some ingredients with what I can find here. I'll post the recipe if it turns out well.

  • Wednesday -- Enchilada Casserole

  • Thursday -- Sausage Potato Soup

  • Friday -- Homemade Pizza

  • Saturday -- Ham & Cheese Melts

  • Sunday -- Tikka Masala - this is definitely a new family favorite.

Question of the week: What foods would you try if you were in Scotland / UK for three years?

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Lost Art of Line Drying

Since moving to Scotland a month ago, I have begun to explore the lost art of line drying our laundry.

This change was not by choice, but is not entirely unwelcome; it's just that dryers are rare here, especially in rental property. Line drying is really our only choice.

I admit some trepidation about this new chore, but so far it has been fun for us.

The kids love hearing the washing machine in the morning because it means we are heading out to the garden after breakfast.

But now fall have come in full force and the rains have moved in. How do you dry your laundry when it is raining out?

As we learn the answer to this question and many others, I'll write some follow up posts. In the mean time, check out this great introduction to the lost art of line drying.

Our new home ...

Just a quick update ...

Check out the pictures of our new flat in Aberdeen, Scotand at our family blog:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Our first week back on menu planning went fairly well. We found some good substitutes for a few items in our favorite recipes. I'm looking forward to exploring the grocery stores here in Scotland for all the interesting new things we can add to our meals.

We still don't have our new refrigerator yet (the one in our flat is broken). They are now telling us it will be here by Thursday. This tiny icebox just doesn't hold very much. And with the grocery store about a mile away (walking with two toddlers), I can't go shopping every day for refrigerated ingredients.

Here is what I am going to try for this week:

Menu for this week:
  • Monday -- Baked Potatoes - or jacket potatoes, as they call them here. They love to put all sorts of things inside a baked potato; meat, cheese, veggies, etc.

  • Tuesday -- Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

  • Wednesday -- BBQ Pork Sandwiches

  • Thursday -- Shepherd's Pie

  • Friday -- Homemade Pizza

  • Saturday -- Taco Bar

  • Sunday -- Yellow Thai Curry

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blitz-It Friday

Grab My Blog Button!
Organized Everyday is hosting a new carnival called Blitz-it Friday. If you have no idea what a blitz is, check out the original one hour blitz and staying focused.

Wow. I haven't blitzed in such a long time. Now I'm just a little late posting about it. We are finally settled enough in our new home to be ready and desperate for a good cleaning blitz. On Friday, I set my timer and started moving as fast as I could.

I started in the kitchen with this mess:

Here's what I did in the first 45 minutes of my blitz:
  • Unloaded the dishwasher
  • Loaded the dishwasher and turned it on
  • Cleared off the kitchen table
  • Hand washed the pans
  • Wiped the counters and stove
  • Swept the kitchen floors

And here was the result:

Next I turned my attention to the kid's room, which they had torn apart earlier in the day.

Here's what I did in the last 15 minutes:
  • Put away clean laundry
  • Made the kid's beds
  • Folded and put away the kid's clothes
  • Vacuumed the hall, living room, kid's room
And here was the end result.

The timer started to beep just as I put away the vacuum cleaner.
What a great hour of blitzing!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We have been in our new flat in Aberdeen, Scotland for just over a week. I am desperate to establish routine and order in our lives, and decided meal planning was a good place to start.

There are a few challenges to my menu planning this week. We are in a foreign country where things are just different enough that I am not sure what products I can still find.

We also don't have our new refrigerator yet; instead we have a tiny little "icebox" that have very little room for anything.

Lastly, we have no car (and two toddlers), so every trip to the store I can only buy what I can carry back in our double stroller. I am amazed at how warm I stay, even in the wind, when I am pushing 130+ pounds up a hill in a stroller (oops, "buggy", I should say, or "push chair" or "pram").

Here is what I am going to try for this week:

Menu for this week:
  • Monday -- Beef and Broccoli - we are going to try a new Oyster and Onion sauce we found here.

  • Tuesday -- Josh Rogan - they have so much great Indian food here. This is an Indian curry that we have not tried yet.

  • Wednesday -- Chinese Chicken & Cabbage - I have not yet confirmed that all these ingredients are available here. I wonder what substitutes I can find?

  • Thursday -- Spaghetti

  • Friday -- Nachos

  • Saturday -- Baked Potato Bar

  • Sunday -- Turkey Lentil Soup

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Weekly Weatherly

As you follow our Scotland adventure, I wanted to share a weekly snapshot of the climate we are enjoying here.

Today's weather forecast in Aberdeen, Scotland:

High: 9°C (49°F)
Mostly Cloudy
Wind: SW at 10 kmph (6 mph)
Humidity: 71%
UV Index 2
Chance of Precipitation 20%
Avg. High. 13°C (56°F)
Sunrise 07 :21

Low: 8°C (46°F)
Wind: SE at 27 kmph (17 mph)
Humidity: 82%
Chance of Precipitation 70%
Avg. Low 6°C (43°F)
Sunset 18:32

We have been enjoying such beautiful days for the last week. It often rains at night, but has been sunny during the day. The sun is much more intense here, brighter, whiter, because we are so far north.

The daytime temperatures have been cooler than normal, and the nights have been warmer (as you can see from the averages). Tomorrow doesn't look too windy, but we have had some gusty days. Also, I have never been in humid cold, but the high humidity makes it feel much colder than I expected.

As the weeks pass, you will want to watch the sun rise and set times as the days grow shorter. At the height of winter, the sun in only up for around seven hours.

Just a little taste of our weather here in Scotland...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Deep Breaths!

Every day for the last few months, I have had to stop and remind myself to take deep breaths.

The wind was incredible today. The trees were swinging in the gusts, the fallen leaves were rushing around on the sidewalks, and the kids were laughing as the wind took their breath away. It was like the entire day was a deep breath.

And for me it truly was ...

In July we packed up all our belongings and put them in storage. This was our hardest move, out of the seven we have done in our ten years of marriage. Maybe it was the added challenge of kids; maybe it was the fact that everything was going into long-term storage instead of going to our new place; maybe it was some combination and a million other things.

We spent the month of August and part of September at my parent's house. For those six weeks, we were preparing for our relocation to Aberdeen, Scotland; planning my youngest sister's wedding on September 19; traveling to visit all our friends and family before we left three years; trying to enjoy the summer and keep the kids happy.

September 22 was our arrival day. We landed at Aberdeen airport and began our adventure in Scotland. This was an incredibly stressful week as we searched for a place to live. Everything seemed stacked against us. But God had a great place picked out for us and we just had to wait for his timing. Incredible!

Last night we signed the lease and moved our eight suitcases into our new flat. Today I spent the entire day cleaning, while my hubby and kids unpacked our stuff. There is still plenty of organizing and cleaning left to be done, but it is already starting to feel like home.

We have a place of our own. We can start to re-establish our routines and habits. And maybe life will slow down and I won't have to constantly remind myself to breath deeply.

Have any of you moved lately? What do you do to settle into a new home a new city, and in our case, a new culture?