Thursday, August 28, 2014

Spying on my dogs - Angel's Deceit

We don't let our dogs on the furniture unless they are invited. We made this rule because a dog we had previously jumped into our plates of food and our popcorn a few times during movies. For a while now, we've noticed that we could hear Angel jumping onto the floor when we came downstairs or came in the house from shopping. I decided to set up a camera to see exactly what she was doing.
And she stayed that way for 45 minutes until we got home. At the end of the video (sorry I clipped it) you can hear us opening the door and see her jump off the couch! LOL. I filmed this by running the iMovie app on my laptop with it plugged in while I was gone. If you have dogs, maybe you should see what they've been up to while you're away from home. I'd love to hear your stories. You can set the iMovie to run for a certain amount of time before turning off, so don't worry about it running all day while you are at work.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My first Thai massage

Kung Fu has gotten the best of me. My back is sore. My quads are burning and feel solid like rocks (not in a good way). My calves never seem to stop aching. I've tried stretching every day and night. I use the foam roller. I take vitamins and protein. I guess my body just isn't equipped to handle this without some extra outside help.

I decided to go in for a 90 minute Thai massage. It was one of the most painful massages and also the best massage I've had. She pressed and pulled. She dug fingers and elbows into my muscles and joints (got the hips really well!). She stepped on me. Twisted, popped, and arched me. Some parts were painful but felt really good at the same time. A lot of the pain was because I was sore, but now I'm feeling so much better! She said she could tell that my muscles were tight and really sore. I'm going to sleep like a baby tonight. I'm feeling good! If you haven't had one, I recommend trying a Thai massage. She said she works on lots of runners, so I guess it's good for recovery. I feel like all the kinks have been worked out.

Here is where I went in Aberdeen:

Bangkok Palace
Image from Bangkok Palace website

Monday, August 25, 2014

My first 5k race

This weekend I ran my first 5k race. It was a trail run up and down a hill, which I thought was pretty steep! I didn't have the chance to train on a trail because it has rained every day for the past 2-3 weeks, and I was not training on hills that steep during my runs in the city. There are some tough hills in the city. I should have been running up them.

It was rough ascent during the race! However, I did manage to finish with only a brief 10-second walk near the peak to catch my breath. My time was 31:42, and I feel pretty good about that for four reasons:

1. It was my first 5k.
2. That was a really big hill.
3. That was my first trail run.
4. I have brittle bones and was trying to be cautious.

 Here we are pre-race! Let's do this!
 No Scottish event would be complete without bagpipers. They "piped us to the starting line."
 Julia getting pumped!
 Here we are at the beginning. How cool is it to start a race near some castle ruins?? Fun! The pipers played The Flower of Scotland, there was a countdown, and then we ran! Of course, I hobbled because my phone chose that moment to close my app, and I couldn't see the screen in the sunlight. I had to take it out of my band and keep running while trying to shade my phone and start my app! LAME. I blame my phone for an excess of at least 20 seconds of my time.
 Here is Julia crossing the finish line! Go Julia!!
 Now I have a medal to prove that I ran the race! Today is a rest day. My hip is so sore! It's probably due to the beating it took as I pounded down that hill!
I will never do anything more than a 5k. I feel like that's enough for my body. I would like to do another race and just work on my time. I've never been a fast runner though. I was that kid in high school that the couches made run track even though I tried to tell them that I was a turtle. They finally let me quit after they watched me at the first competition. I was the scrawny girl WAY behind the rest of the racers who got the pity claps and the "YOU CAN DO IT" yells from the stands as I ran, alone and about 40 seconds behind everybody, across the line. I don't think I could ever be in the top 3, but if I could make it to the top 10 someday for a 5k, that would be amazing! :)  If not, hey, I'm also happy to say that I ran the race and finished.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Rainy day activities

It has been raining every day for at least two weeks! I'm supposed to be running a 5k on Sunday, and I haven't been able to run more than a mile each week due to slippery sidewalks and more pouring rain. I'm pretty nervous about it now!

Anyway, I've been doing other stuff. I tried making ravioli again. It was much better this time. Rolling the dough through each setting consecutively until I reached the desired setting really made things better!

What else have I been doing other than my normal cleaning routine? I've been taking the dogs out in between rain showers. I've been practicing for my upcoming belt test. Oh, and I've been working on my origami skills. I like origami. It's so relaxing. It may not be a skill I can take to the bank, if you know what I mean. But it is a stress reliever. It works on fine motor skills in the hands, and one day when I have kids, they'll love it too!




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Letters to mobile phone users

Mobile phone etiquette is something they should start teaching before you can buy a cell phone. One 15-minute slide show could change my world. Since I don't have the courage to say what I want to these people, I've decided to write letters to them instead... on my blog.

To the guy playing games loudly on his phone in the waiting room at the doctor's office:

Can you not see the sign? It CLEARLY says to turn off your mobile phone. If we can follow the rules, so can you. Also, please note that while standing in the recessed corner by the window makes it so that most of us cannot see you, it is NOT a sound proof corner. We can still hear your annoying game. If you cannot resist digital adventures for 10 minutes, at least turn off the sound. We aren't going to jump up and congratulate you when we hear the cheers in your game. It only makes me want to take your phone and SMASH it.

Thank you and sincerely,

P.S. While you were so engaged, the rest of us were giving you dirty looks with nods of confirmation across the room.

To the person walking down the sidewalk while texting:

If you cannot stand to the side for 2 minutes or put down your mobile phone long enough to cross the street or walk a few blocks, I will not dodge you. I will in fact, purposely alter my course to run into you. I hope that I am the thing you run in to instead of a car. That is all.

Thank you and sincerely,

To the woman on the bus talking too loudly on her mobile about sensitive issues:

I don't care who knocked up your friend. I also don't care about your medical issues in your private bits. I'm sure the children on the bus do not need to hear your crude biology lessons either. Your private conversations can wait. Pull your head out of your butt and be aware of those around you. If you think you don't have to be considerate; that's your right. It's also my right to think you are an idiot and tell people about it.

Thank you and sincerely,

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Giving my dogs what they need

Since moving here, my dogs have received more attention, exercise, and training... probably more cuddles too. When we lived in Houston, I felt terrible because both Steve and I were commuters with full-time jobs, most of our day was spent in the car and at work. The dogs didn't get walks every day because we were tired or it was just too hot for them. They were often cooped up inside the house all day. Outside, they'd overheat very quickly. Even Frisbee tossing in our backyard would only last about 10 minutes before they reached the point where they could barely breathe in the heat. Frog was overweight. Angel was not properly stimulated.

Being here in Scotland as an expat has allowed me to see a difference between then and now. The difference I'm talking about is not love, discipline, or diet. I'm talking about exercise, which affects the previous three. As long as it's not raining, I walk them every day. Sometimes I walk them in the rain. Frog just doesn't like it much so I tend to avoid it. Angel runs with me once a week and up to a 5k some days. I love taking them on forest walks or to the park. Angel chases a ball or Frisbee until she is exhausted! Frog is beginning to behave better around people and dogs (not perfect... FAR from perfect... but better), so the park is more enjoyable. I've also learned when to let him have freedom and when to keep him close to me by paying attention to his body language. Look at them having fun!!

Angel dropped her ball in the puddle.. hehe
 Bath time! They were muddy after the park. This is also something they've gotten used to since moving here. Angel walks into the shower at will as soon as I turn on the water.

Clean puppies!

They go crazy after bathtime. Do your dogs do that? :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Guilty Pleasure - Anime - List of favorites

Yep, I said it. My guilty pleasure is Anime. I love it! Okay don't laugh. I started watching it one day when I was curious about the Anime section on Netflix. I watched a handful of episodes of InuYasha and was hooked! Here are some of my favorites (in no particular order):

Attack on Titan


Black Bullet

Deadman Wonderland

Fullmetal Alchemist

07 Ghost

Hunter X Hunter (My husband likes this one. He watches it with me.)


Sword Art Online (about a virtual reality game where people can die in real life)

Check them out! You might be surprised. I watched the subtitled ones, not dubbed. I'd suggest starting with Bleach, InuYasha, or Fullmetal Alchemist. If you are a gamer, start with Sword Art Online. If you watch any, tell me what you think! I'd love to hear about it. :) I subscribe to CrunchyRoll. That's how I watch most of these. You can find some places online to watch some for free too if you search.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Making your own pasta - Be brave!!

This week I made my own pasta! I recommend giving it a try! It will take a while for your first time, but my friend, Randi, assures me that it becomes a quick and easy process. I didn't get the thickness correct on my first try at ravioli, but the pasta still tasted SO GOOD. Here is a quick and easy recipe for you:

  • 500g "00" grade pasta flour (Something like the picture below)

  • 5 large eggs (whites only) - How do you separate the egg yolks from the whites? Crack the egg and toss the yolk back and forth between the halves allowing the egg whites to drop into a bowl.
  • Plain (or Semolina if you can find it) flour for dusting

I used a mixer. Add the flour and egg whites and blend until it looks like bread crumbs. If it's too sticky, add more pasta flour. If it looks too dry, add more egg whites. Eventually it should blend into a nice ball (or a few). Remove it from the blender and knead it for about 3 minutes until it's smooth. Wrap the ball of dough in cling wrap, and put it in the refrigerator for an hour.

**You can also do it by hand by making a hole in the middle of your flour. Then, pour the egg into the middle and mix in the flour from the edges with a fork. Once it starts to form thicker dough, knead it for 3-5 minutes until you have a smooth dough ball. 

Separate the ball of dough into 4 smaller ones. Take the first one and flatten it with your palm. Keep the remaining dough covered until you use it. Use the largest setting on your pasta machine to roll it through 3-4 times. Fold the ends into the center each time to ensure it evens out. I use this pasta machine, which I bought for only £21:
It's showing the process AFTER flattening/thinning the dough for noodles.
After you have run it through a few times at the thickest setting, adjust the setting to the next thickness and dust both sides of the dough with flour. Continue running the dough through the machine decreasing the size consecutively with each pass until you reach the thickness desired for the type of pasta you are making. Randi has suggested that by doing this, you have a better chance of getting the thickness correct than if you just try to skip to a certain thickness setting (Thanks Randi!).  You can then use those sheets to make ravioli, or shred them for other types of pasta. You can cook the pasta right away or dry and store it! Give it a try! You don't have to use all the dough at once. You can always keep some in the refrigerator or freeze it for later use.

Cheers! Let me know how it goes!

(Recipe for pasta from Jamie Oliver's The Naked Chef)

Monday, August 11, 2014

I've given up on natural face care - Dry skin - Active lifestyle

Yep. I've given up. I tried Argan oil; it made my foundation sink into my wrinkles and wasn't good enough for my dry skin. I tried Olay for sensitive skin, and it made my face itchy and red. Crazy! I tried Benefit, and although it felt nice, it had a strong fragrance and gave me acne. I used the All Good Things products but they didn't seem to clean well enough for somebody as active as me. My breakouts never cleared..even after the entire bottle.

What has worked?

Olive oil has been great most of the time but doesn't seem to moisturize enough on it's own. I bought the Got To Be Carrots night cream. I also got the under eye cream. These seem to work for my dry skin and active (thus, sweaty) lifestyle. At least I'm cutting out some chemicals, but my skin is drying out, and my breakouts aren't clearing. So, I went to Clinique. I told the girl all of my problems. Clinique is fragrance free and allergy tested. I bought the three-step program. Cross your fingers. I hope this works! Anybody else use Clinique?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Findlater Castle - A gem in the middle of nowhere

Last week, my friend Julia and I went on a day road trip. As we were browsing the map book I have, we noticed a castle that wasn't too far from us, but was too far at the time (we needed to head home). So, this week we planned to head north again and find Findlater Castle with our friend Jessica. It is east of Cullen, Scotland. It was a bit tricky to find. The roads were small and the signs were smaller!
(Thanks to Julia and Jessica for some of the pictures!)
This one looks like it's pointing across the field, but really you just go straight down the road!

The very small road.
 Rain can't keep us down!
 From the car park, take the path on the right behind the building. When you reach a fork in the path, continue to your right.
Wheat fields and an aviary in the back.
 We were so surprised to see this! None of us looked it up ahead of time (It would have spoiled it, although we would have been more prepared for the hike...).
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Julia, Jessica, and Me!

The treacherous muddy path. We were very careful.
 I wouldn't recommend the walk down to the ruins for small children or anybody with problems walking steep trails. I would say this was a moderately tough hike. It was worse in the rain. We were crabwalking down some of the slopes to avoid slipping in the mud! hehe.

Jessica with her cute umbrella.

The ruins!

Check out that quartz!
The castle was situated on the edge of the cliff so the views were amazing!

Rain? Psshh. We are having a GREAT time!

 Now for some pictures of the hike back to the top!
This gives some perspective on how steep it was. Not too bad though. Going up was easier than going down.

Climbing up using the grass has a handle because the mud was slippery!

 The drive was a little challenging leaving the castle area! The single-track road had no passing places. You just had to back up to the nearest road or driveway, as you can see this person in front of us doing!
 "Holy s***! Is that a bus?"
"WHAT is it doing on this road? Seriously, nobody lives here!"
He backed up, and we drove past him onto a little driveway to let him pass.
From the castle, we drove to Cullen. When we see brown signs, we are tempted to check it out. We followed this one to a rock. Picture... picture... cool. On the road again.


Railway bridge in Cullen. So neat!

If you get a chance, go check out the Findlater Castle ruins. We really enjoyed it. I bet it's even better on a sunny day!