Saturday, November 29, 2008


It seems I've been looking for comfort in all the wrong places. It's easy to do. Scotland is Western and shares a similar language to the States. I'd argue it's almost harder moving here than to a place with completely different food and languages. In that scenario, you never even expect comfort to taste or sound familiar. Here, I did expect to find a nice place to eat lunch and grab a movie all by myself, just like in Seattle. But no such luck. No worries, but no such luck. It's disorienting to always be off by a hair.

The G has a terrible diaper rash. We've been fighting it since Halloween when she was a lamb for the festivities. Last night it reached a breaking point with blisters and bleeding appearing after her nap. While caring for her, Bug knelt beside her, stroked her cheek gently, and said, "Don't worry sister. We'll take care of you. I'm a pirate."

Since Mike, Jenn, and Kasten this summer, Bug has been infatuated with pirates and their rotting teeth and their odd "arghs." If he's not a kitty, he's a pirate at home and on crazy days, he's a pirate kitty. Argh, lesson learned, take ye comforts where they be even if from
friends far away.
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Friday, November 28, 2008


Apparently, The Queen told a reporter at a dinner that she didn't think that the EU would work with all the "...Wops, Dagos, and Jews involved..." or some such thing. The reviewer has come to her rescue saying that she's lived through the two World Wars and just because she hasn't used PC language doesn't negate the point that she thinks there are just too many conflicts of historical interest for the EU to work. 
Labels are odd things. I need people to label correctly. I need to know the history of the food Bug eats. Has it touched a dairy product or is the additive a disguised derivative of dairy? I asked Barista Blaine at my fave coffee shop in West Seattle if a muffin was vegan and he snickered, "Yeah, sure, if you need it to be." I then explained why and he graciously apologized. Vegan is our short-hand for safe. Vegan for others is short-hand for pain in the tuckus. 
We went to Bug's school fundraiser last weekend. It was loads of fun. Disguises and all! "Cute family" is one label that doesn't get easily overloaded with negative emotion. 

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Sunday, November 23, 2008


We arrived in Scotland on Oct. 6. After a full day of flying with two wee-uns, customs, luggage, a new rental and a doctor's appointment to begin navigating a healthcare system so very unlike the States', I decided to open a can of coconut milk to make Thai soup and rice for dinner on our very first night.  Duh, wouldn't that be your "go to" meal in a foreign land under said circumstances?
We have a furnished rental that provides most everything you could want under said circumstances. I found a can of coconut milk at the local megamart and was just so happy to see something familiar, that it was to be the feature of our first meal here. The furnished rental even has a can opener. After about a half hour and feeling very dumb because I couldn't get a Scottish can opener to work for me, my lefty husband easily opened the can. Ahhh, so there is such a thing as a lefty can opener. And this is how a lefty feels in a right-handed world.
 I went along with the big Scottish move precisely to change my world view, but a new appreciation for Lefties I did not expect. 
The cutest lefty of Clan Lovie Sweetie Cutie Sugar Sweet Sweeties is featured in the center of the picture of the Blonde Brigade sub-sect above.  Everyone needs an Auntie M. Thankfully we have one, two if you count extended family- and we do-  
Shout out to Great Auntie Em in Portland. Woo hoo!
Lefties. Respect. 

Dairy-Free Thai Soup
2 T grated ginger
2 T soy sauce
2 garlic cloves
2 T sugar
1 lime (helpful, but okay without)
red thai curry paste (helpful, but okay without)
1 pinch of dried red chili flakes
2 cups vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
olive oil 
veggies of your choice like carrots, bok choi, red pepper, onion, mushroom, spring onion, corn, sweetpotato cut into strips etc.
meat of your choice if not vegan, chickies or moos are good.

Fry the ginger and minced garlic in the olive oil for about 2 minutes, medium heat. 
Add red pepper flake and cook for one minute.
Add sugar and red thai curry paste (if using) for one minute and stir.
Add soy sauce for one minute and stir.
Add veggie stock and coco nut milk and lime juice. Bring to simmer.
Add veggies and simmer til tender crisp.
Add meat here too if not veg and poach 1" chunks in the broth til done.

I serve over rice or thick spaghetti nudles and the mini-not-me's love it. 
Easy and quick. Super yum.
Real Thai people might groan, but my kids eat this. Yay!
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sugar and Spice

Since our decision to come to Scotland, PheeBee and Jan-Ah have both called me intrepid. That's it. That's the one positive thing I've heard from family and friends about our decision. Statzie thought I shouldn't even include my status as a mother when pitching articles pertaining to motherhood so that the newspaper or magazine would know that I know, "what real life is like." Even the Swedish woman at Bug's school who has a similar story to mine says that she "WOULD never do" what I did. Needless to say I felt a bit lost and ineffectual until I made VEGAN CARAMELS! EEKS! They worked and I'm so excited! I even had a few hits against me. A new non-dairy butter, liquid glucose instead of corn syrup (an entirely American novelty), two busy kids and the wrong kind of candy thermometer. I feel like quite the vegan stud because they are so yummy and so easy if you call stirring a pot non-stop for about 40 minutes to an hour easy! Recipe below. Because it's vegan butter the calorie count is also silly low. I have such good memories of making caramels with my own mama. It was a treat to do the same with the Bug! M helped and he didn't even cut one finger off. Whew! These are vegan!

Vegan CaramelIngredient proportions from The Glad Cow CookbookMakes ~100 pieces of caramel candy
1 cup margarine*
2 cups sugar
2 cups soy milk
1 cup light corn syrup
*Optional: Add 1 tsp salt if using unsalted margarine-
#Optional: Cayenne Pepper and Finely Ground Kosher Salt. (Added by ME!)
Line a baking sheet with greased parchment or waxed paper. -Place the margarine, sugar, soy milk and corn syrup in a large saucepan (4qt capacity minimum)-Bring ingredients to a boil stirring continually.-Cook over medium-high heat while continuing to stir until candy reaches 248 degrees F. (243-5 for softer caramels)-Pour into lined baking pan. -Allow the caramel in the pan to cool completely. Snip into pieces using clean kitchen shears that you wipe or spray with oil (or slice with a knife). Wrap individually with waxed or parchment paper. Makes ~100 piecesVariation: Cook to 230 degrees F for caramel sauce. Store in a covered container.
For one quarter of the batch, I dipped one end of the caramel piece in Cayenne and salt, then wrapped it up. Very sweet and warm caramel bit in your mouth!

Super different but very, very yummy.
G and I on Auntie M's steps.
The Bug fishing....
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

mas y una mas

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John Deere

Even though we do not have a farm except for the very active one in Bug's imagination, we are a John Deere family. We hope Uncle Dave Borst is proud.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Bed Time

Baby G has overcome the invisible forcefield placed around her bed. She now climbs out of bed, gets Bug to open the bedroom door for her while I, say, do the dishes after dinner, and then walks around this house swinging her arms and rubbing her very toddler tummy. She dances then withher happy baby dance and looks at me like, "Isn't this just great! I can get out of bed!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Exhibit B

We drove to Loch Lomond this weekend and it was beautiful. Kayaks, stormy winds, training Newfoundlands.  A little lunch at a public house and a sweet drive home with one sleeping child and one talking child. But that shouldn't surprise you.

We met our first highland cow and HAD to take pictures. According to Bug, they are "...furry cute and loving cows with horns that can kill you..." After taking pictures with the grazing killers, we tried to find a parking lot to stop and take a walk in the winds. Bug yelled according to my tinny American ear, "A cow pack! A cow pack!" as we drove around and I thought how odd and boy and gross it was that he was talking about cow excrement from the car. It turns out he was saying "car park" in a very accurate way according to his peers.  

I give you Exhibit B.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


I should write about the 5th of November. It's "Bonfire Night" here and quite the celebration. Days of fireworks before and after the 5th, but reaching its peak on the night of the 5th. There are lots of commonwealth precautions. They're very worried about drinking and driving, meningitis, and dental hygiene. Yet, no public announcements about how to properly handle fireworks and with five houses all around us shooting off the crackers every night for the past week, it was different for me.

Instead, I will write about the grandparents.  ALL of them. We received a box from each set this week and it was better than Christmas! Toys and books and clothes and safe food and stickers and blankets. My thanks for the breathing room these gifts affords me is indescribable. It takes a while to find where the best price for the best quality is here. It takes a while to muster up the guts to try a food that says it's dairy free, but if it was made at a facility with dairy, who knows and if it's not written on the label, well...  Yes, it's gotten that bad. Keep the Bug in your prayers. 

It's only been a month that we've been here. Feeling this loved from so far away, it's an amazing feeling.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


+ The strict alcohol limits, even one drink is too much to drive here. AND the affordable and quick cabs that make grabbing a glass of wine with an old friend safe and easy.
- Being so far away on election day and having the flu. I can't seem to shake this ever-morphing illness.  Today I'm knocked on my tuckus for the first time in ever and ever.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

+ Little old ladies getting their hair done at a salon called Sweeny Todd's.
- Health visitors. The state appointed nurse comes to EVERYONE'S home to monitor vaccinations and the like. It's a little too communist and I'm a bit skittish about our Health Visitor today.  

Monday, November 3, 2008


I'm so excited for my election day that I'm thinking of pulling an all-nighter and calling Bug in sick from school just to watch the results.

Here, there are almost constant announcements about the upcoming election in the States. The tag line is "You don't get a vote, but the results affect us all." Are you humbled yet? Have you voted yet?

I think my move to the UK was only seen in light of the distance from my family and friends. Not in the cultural differences that are many despite a common, written tongue.

I know that what makes us American is the chance to have a voice in everything. Even the placement of trees and gutters in public parks. Even across an ocean. If the election doesn't go the way I'd like, it doesn't mean that my vote didn't count. It means that I've lost the skill of debate and persuasion. It means I didn't do enough to teach others about why my opinions or candidates are the most sound for the complexities of today.

I hope I did enough.

Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote.


+ Highly organized baby/toddler groups throughout the area. I can't walk three blocks without some church or community hall holding a baby/toddler group. If there's an open spot that morning, we're in!
- Pedestrian rights are non-existent. I can't figure out when to cross the street except when I take a pensioner's cue.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I keep looking for hints that Bug is adjusting his speech with his classmates. Make no mistake. We read the same language, but speaking it is another matter entirely. So, he made a "diva lamp" the other day at school. It's a small clay candle holder prettily painted and made to celebrate "Diwali." A season of thanks - in large unwieldy terms - in Indian cultures of which there are many representatives here in the UK. 

I asked Bug, "How did you make the lamp?" His reply was, "(something, something and something I couldn't understand because he was crashing toy cars at the same time as replying)...glues." 
I asked Bug, "You used glue?"
He looks at me like I have now sprouted the second head he has always knew I owned, deep, deep down in his heart, shakes his head, and says, "GLUES. Mama. GLUES." 
I said, "You used glue on a clay lamp." 
"Mama," he shakes his head again like I'm just the silliest thing, "It glows. It glows."

Exhibit A.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


+ monkey nuts for halloween treats
+ walking to preschool
+ monkey nuts for halloween treats
+ drying clothes on radiators
+ monkey nuts for halloween treats
+ three golf courses seen from the hill rimmed with trees turning their leaves 
+ monkey nuts for halloween treats
the minus will come another day. i'm feeling too generous today.

Monkey Nuts

I'm homesick but thankful. Halloweens here are not to be forgotten, though they aren't like those in the States either.  There was a great party for Bug at his school with a few dairy-filled treats easily substituted for him. Then, we had another party at Di's house while C flew back from Japan. Kids went wild in the party atmosphere. The hors douvres were dead flies (raisins), baby ears (apricots), and blood (cranberry juice). For dinner, sick with worms (sauce and linguini) and a side of fried brain (chicken). I did the cooking as Di isn't familiar yet with the stringent but do-able requirements for Bug's diet. I was silly with worry as I couldn't find a single candy here that was dairy free and thanks to Lovie Cristin in the states, a huge box of goodness arrived last week. All prepped and fed, the kids dressed for trick or treating which was only three houses on a cold night, and they came back, not with the candy shipped across the ocean or dairy-worried sweets, but with monkey nuts. Bags filled with precisely two oranges or apples and peanuts.  WAHOO! WAHOO! Easy, easy, easy. No odd labels, nothing to take away and replace and to explain to littler ones why we can't eat that treat just now. No worries about breathing on the way home or all night long - just in case of contamination because it's happened before -- blah blah blah.  You've all read it from me before.  So, in honor of my thanks for this cultural difference, I will now begin a series of intermittent installments of things I enjoy about the Moors. I prefer to explain the graphically hysterical nature of this Bug-friendly treat in private emails.