Thursday, February 28, 2013

Half Way There

This past weekend marked the 1/2 way point in my London Marathon training. 8 weeks down, 8 weeks to go. And I marked that milestone with a 16 mile run, my longest so far and my first one done completely outside. The Scotland winter weather has not been so kind to my training nor have the short days. I've had to do must of my long runs (to this point) split between the treadmill and outside. Ten miles is about my limit on the treadmill so if my run was supposed to be longer than that, I finished it outside (in which I will probably come home covered in mud).

I ran 12 miles in that mess, snow, slush and mud. Most mentally challenging run yet. My feet were soaked within 5 minutes.

However, I am hoping this weekend was a turning point in the weather (come on Spring!!) and my training. I needed a really good run to get me over the 1/2 way hump and I think I did just that. It's amazing what a good run with no mud or ice will do for you.

I am hoping to get in a 18-20 miler this weekend before we head to the French Alps for a week of skiing! Can not wait to hit the's been 7 years!!

And don't forget I'm running the Virgin London Marathon with Relate West Surrey (read about them here or here) so in addition to my training, I'm raising money to support a great organization! Thank you in advance....every little bit counts!!

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Windy Bennachie

If one things for sure, it's that Bennachie is ALWAYS windy and I confirmed that (again) last Thursday. I offered to lead the Explorers hike since Lisa was out of town and decided on Bennachie because it's not that far away and it's a really great hike. I knew it would be windy but I really had no idea it could be as windy as it was. There was one point I could not ascent any further for fear of being blown away. And on this day it was icy in spots as well so that really tests your footing and balance. But despite the wind and the ice, it was still a great hike with two lovely ladies (small group thanks to International School holidays) and two of my favorite pups.

And because our hands were so cold and there was no way we were stopping to eat lunch along the way, we got down the mountain and stopped at one my favorite lunch spots, Gadie's, at Touched by Scotland. A warm bowl of vegetable soup and green tea warmed me right up!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Edinburgh with the Buissons

A couple of weekends ago we headed south for a relaxing weekend in Edinburgh with our good friends, Luke and Debbie. I had been to Edinburgh a handful of times, Debbie and Luke for a weekend but Ryan only for a night when we went in August for Tattoo Festival. Since most of us had done the touristy stuff and Ryan will get plenty of opportunities this summer with our guests, we wanted to keep it low key...hike Arthur's Seat, eat yummy food, drink yummy beer, walk the beautiful streets and just hang out outside of the norm in Aberdeen.

We arrived Friday afternoon after a few detours. You miss your exit in Scotland and you're screwed. However, we arrived safely and the sun was out in full force. We quickly dropped our things at the aparthotel and set off to hike Calton Hill to get some great views of the city.

National Monument of Scotland
view from Calton Hill

Luke being Luke

We then made our way to our first pub and then our second and then our third before ending at Under the Stairs for a delicious dinner. 

Saturday we set out to hike Arthur's seat around 10:30. The weather wasn't quit as beautiful as Friday but it's mild and not raining so I wasn't complaining!

Total distance was about 3 miles with a 915 ft climb over the course. Some of the inclines definitely got your heart pumping but there were nice 'landings' to enjoy the scenery and catch your breath.

After the hike, we re-grouped and headed out to enjoy the city of Edinburgh which can only be done if a street performer, bag piper and the Edinburgh castle are included. This guy was really good...I mean he can swallow a sword for goodness sake! Definitely entertaining!

And after browsing Anthropologie and grabbing some gloves for skiing next week we grabbed a few brewskies before dinner at The Dogs. Again another yummy restaurant but if I had to pick between the two...Under the Stairs wins for this trip!

We left pretty early on Sunday since both of the boys had work trips to prepare for in the coming week. It was a perfectly low key weekend with a great hike, delicious food and wonderful company!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Stuffed with Love

Ryan and I aren't big celebrators of Valentine's Day. I really have nothing wrong with the holiday, it's sweet but it's just not for us. I try to do exceptionally sweet things for Ryan through out the year and the word romance gets lost in translation with Ryan (and this is one of the reasons I love's confusing, I know). And this Valentine's Day was really no different other than I wanted to make him a yummy meal, not really because it was love day but because our lives have been so busy between his travel and my volunteering (and our social lives, did you see my last post?) and I couldn't remember the last time I cooked a yummy meal that wasn't one of my go-tos (ie tacos, spaghetti, taco soup).

Debbie loaned me one of her Food Network magazines a few weeks ago and the recipe on the front caught my eye immediately so I added it to my must try list. I had most of the ingredients except for the peppers and a few smaller things so this was a no brainer when deciding on what to cook...just needed a quick run to the grocery store. I omitted the dried currants/golden raisins but they didn't sound that good to be in the recipe and the bag at the store was way more than I'd ever use and I don't like wasting. I also did half brown rice/half time I'll go all quinoa, it's the healthier option and it is so yummy. And each pepper comes in at just under 500 calories. Enjoy!!

Turkey and Rice (or Quinoa) Stuffed Peppers (Greek Inspired)
Active: 40 min, Total: 2 hr 40 min
Source: Food Network Magazine

1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice (or quinoa)
1/4 cup dried currants or golden raisins (I ommited this)
Kosher salt
1/2 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup of dill (I didn't use this much)
1/2 cup fresh parsley (I didn't use this much either)
4 scallions, roughly chopped
6 medium bell peppers (any color)
8 ounces lean ground turkey
2 cups schredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 8 oz)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Freshly ground pepper

1 15 ounce can tomato puree
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
Kosher salt and Freshly ground pepper

1. Make the peppers: Combine 2 1/2 cups water, the rice, currants and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low; cover and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Fluff with fork, then transfer to a large bowl to cool, about 20 minutes. *** Because I omitted the currants I just cooked my rice and quinoa as I normally would.

2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F (177C). Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast until lightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes.; let cool, then finely chop. Pile the dill, parsley and scallions on a cutting board and finely chop.

3. Cut off the top of each bell pepper and reserve the tops; discard the seeds and white membranes. Put the turkey in a large bowl; add 1 cup of mozzarella, 1/4 cup feta, the rice mixture, walnuts, all but 2 tablespoons of the chopped herbs, the garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, 1 1/2 teaspoons slat and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Gently mix with your hands. Stuff each bell pepper evenly with the turkey-rice mixture; cover with the pepper tops.

4. Make the sauce: Whisk 3 cups water, the tomato puree, brown sugar, olive oil and cinnamon stick in a wide, deep saucepan. Arrange the stuffed peppers upright in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce the heat the heat to medium low; simmer until the peppers are soft and the filling is cooked through, 50 to 60 minutes.
I don't think my sauce pan was quite wide enough but it did the job with just a little mess.

5. Preheat the broiler. Carefully remove the peppers from the sauce and transfer to a baking dish; remove the tops and set them aside in the baking dish. Toss the reserved 2 tablespoons chopped herbs with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup feta in a small bowl and sprinkle over the filling. Broil until melted, about 2 minutes. Replace peper tops, Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Serve the peppers in shallow bowls with the sauce.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Catch Up Corner

Whew, it's been a while. The last 6 weeks have be CRAY-ZAY. Upon my return from my trip to the US in December/January I hit the ground running. There were birthdays to be celebrated (4 to be exact), meetings to be planned, Mardi Gras to be celebrated, ceilidh (k-lee) dancing to be had, runs to be done, volunteering to be started and of course my daily job duties as housewife. So, needless to say, blogging took a back seat to my life but I'm here to catch you up on all. So, grab some coffee (or a tottie) while I highlight the last 6+ weeks.

Late December 2012-Early January 2013

I went back to the US for a few very special events. My cousin, Trey, got married on a beautiful plantation in North Florida. Trey and I are only 4 months apart and basically grew up like brother and sister so, I never thought his wedding would be the first time I would meet his future wife. My moving overseas and us Trey being all grown up with a job (and living in Georgia) and all makes it more challenging to see each other when I'm in the US. However, when I met Lauren, it was like I'd known her forever and I knew they were perfect for each other. The wedding weekend was so much fun. It relaxing time with my family celebrating an amazing couple.

The beautiful chapel

The sweet couple

My next stop was to Houston where it was birthday celebration time!! My friends, Courtney, turned 30 on December 13, Laura on January 7 and me on January 21st. When I found I was going to be in town the weekend of Laura's birthday, I knew we had to try and get a celebration with us all! Court came down from Dallas and my friends, Kasey, Meredith and Faye, came in from Austin and Fort Worth. And not to mention, some of my Aberdeen girls were still in town from Christmas and they came and celebrated too! Court, Laura and I had massages at the Houstonian on Friday afternoon and then Saturday we started with a big group dinner at Colina's in the Heights before trying out the new wine bar, Crisp, and ending the night dancing away at Rebels. It's very rare that we get to celebrate our birthdays together with us scattered all over so this was an extra special treat for our 30ths!

 My last weekend in Houston, Ryan flew in from Aberdeen for our good friend, Clent's, wedding. It was another special day celebrating a very special couple. Ryan was in the wedding supporting one of his closest friends on his big day. It's usually me in the weddings so it was fun to be on the other side. I, unfortunately, didn't get many pictures, I was too busy chowing down on delicious Texas BBQ, gabbing and two steppin'.


I got back to Aberdeen and was welcomed with a fresh blanket of snow. My flight was delayed about 30 minutes because we had to wait for it to stop snowing(and the airport to open back up) before we could land. This was just the beginning of two weeks of non stop snow. It started to wear on me towards the end but Angus and I got some really good, snowy walks in none the less. He loves a snow ball fight and it's so funny to watch him try to get the snow ball in his mouth.
Flying over the Cairngorms into Aberdeen

On the 21st, I turned the big 3-0. I had a wonderful dinner with all the girls at my favorite Thai restaurant. Ryan was still in Houston for meetings but all my girls made sure my day was special!

On the 23rd, Ryan and I celebrated 3 years of wedded bliss (<-----hehe, bliss). It hasn't all been bliss but I wouldn't change it for the world. It's crazy to think we've already been married 3 years and have lived in two different countries. Lots of learning and loving goes on when you have to do so much adjusting and depending. Because he was in Houston we just exchanged sweet cards to each other to mark the occasion. We have lots of travel planned this year so I don't feel like I need a special anniversary trip, all of our trips are special! (<----cheesy? yes!)

February 1st-2nd

My dear friend, Kristin Jorene, turned the big 3-0 and we marked the day, the Bristish way with a lovely high tea at Rosie's on Thistle.

That night several of us headed to the Chevron Burns' Supper to celebrate the famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns. It's a big deal in Scotland and everyone gets decked out in their best smartest dress, dines on traditional Scottish fare of haggis, neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes) and ceilidh dances the night away. It was a lot of fun and I'm really glad we got to attend one of these and very pleased to see my hubby in a kilt!

The next night was the Totally 80s 30th Birthday Bash celebrating myself, Kristin, Debbie and Pam. We all turn(ed) 30 within a few weeks of each other and we thought it best to have one big bash! We started the night at Debbie's with a totally 80s birthday party complete with pizza, cupcakes and candy....just like when we were kids! We then headed out to Nox, a new night club in Aberdeen, to show off our best robot, shopping cart and Roger Rabbit dance moves. Other than a hiccup at Nox with the bouncers it was a fun night!
Don Johnson and Rainbow Brite

3 of 4 Birthday girls; me, Debbie, Pam

February 8th-9th

Debbie's official birthday was the 9th and since the AWA was throwing her a big Mardi Gras party in honor of it, we figured we would have a little girls' day on Friday. We went to Jo Malone's (an upscale fragrance store) for hand/arm massages and champagne before heading to Bistro Verde for a delicious lunch!

As stated above, Saturday night was the official AWA Mardi Gras party. It's the best party of the year and how convienent for it to be on Debbie's birthday. There was delicious Cajun food, dancing and Debbie was named Mardi Gras Queen and coincidentally, her hubby Luke, the king! How fun, not only because it was Debbie's birthday but because they're moving to Londonand this could have been their first and last Mardi Gras! They did a great shop tossing the beads, leading the 2nd line and wearing those big 'ol headdresses!

Whew, that's a lot and if you made it to the end of this post, I'll give you an "attagirl/boy"! Look out for a post about my delicious Valentine's meal for hubby, our trip to Edinburgh with the Buissons, hiking Bennachie and my marathon training soon! Thanks for catching up with me and I hope I don't ever get that far behind again!