Friday, January 30, 2009

another great sound

Ages ago, I mentioned this as one of my most fave sounds. I've discovered another, similar one.

James is teaching himself how to play the guitar (with the help of a short tutorial from his sister Jenna when she was here). I like hearing him singing, but the singing combined with the guitar playing is fabulous too!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Conclusion

Finally, three weeks after Hannah and Jenna left Scotland, I'm getting around to posting about the last two days they spent here.

Some friends of ours from Dornoch (who happen to be visiting Richmond as I type this) own a small farm and recently added some little piglets to their list of animals. I was excited to see the little oinkers before they grew up to be big and fat and not so cute.

We also got right up close to their cows. I don't think I've ever been so close to cows before. I never realized how huge their noses are.

They've got a pretty horse too. Here she is galloping toward us.

Having not lived in a city for the past 16 months, I thought I could possibly become a "country girl", but amongst all the animals and farm machinery and what not, my "city girl" side came shining through. While it was all very intriguing and beautiful, I just don't think I could live on a farm.

It was freezing, but we took one last walk on the beach.

We took the opportunity to work on our "leaping over old concrete barriers" skills.

The girls flew out of Edinburgh early on a Wednesday, so we left Dornoch Tuesday morning to get in a day of sightseeing in Edinburgh. As per usual, it was cold and windy, but that didn't stop us from taking in the sights from the top of a double decker bus.
In the background is Edinburgh Castle, in the foreground is me with what looks like a small animal on my head. Laugh if you'd like, but hey, at least my ears were warm.

Starbucks always brings a smile, especially on a frigid day like that one.

Jenna treated us to a delicious Italian dinner and a Friendly's-esque dessert.

So that's it, the end of a jam-packed, fun-filled two weeks with two of James's sisters. Thanks for coming girl's, it was so great to have you here!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Harry & Charlie

One of these days I'll get around to finishing documenting Jenna and Hannah's visit to Scotland, but not today. Today, I will share with you one of my most favorite videos of people I don't know.

I saw this for the first time last summer, and since then I've watched it too many times to count, mostly when I need a laugh and a warmed heart from some adorable brotherly love. With over 76.5 million views on You Tube, you've probably seen it too, but in case you haven't:

I mean seriously, how adorable are they? There are so many things about this that make me laugh and the cuteness makes my heart melt into a puddle on the floor.

If you're hooked on Harry and Charlie like I am, you're in luck, their parents have kindly shared a bunch of other videos of them with the world via You Tube.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More New Traditions

As stated in a prior post, the crackers, poppers and confetti cannons will be newly adopted Christmas traditions in the Murphy household.

I've decided on adding two more, these have to do with food. Yum.

1. The night before Christmas I made a sausage and egg casserole, the kind you have to leave in the fridge overnight. So in the morning, all you have to do is throw it in the oven and voila, you've got a delicious Christmas treat! Since it's just the two of us, we don't have a super busy morning with tons of crazy present opening going on, but I'm sure we will appreciate this plan even more if, down the road, any little one's come along.

2. James picked out a super huge ham to cook for our Christmas/New Year's meal, so there was tons of leftover meat. I used the bone and extra ham to make a potato soup. So delicious. And there's nothing like a hot soup on a Scottish day like today: windy, rainy, and cold.

Yay for traditions.

Now fill me in on some of your holiday traditions...Go!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Christmas *slash* New Year's Day

After a long lie (Scottish way of saying sleeping in) on New Year's Day, we got up and got to work. Jenna and Hannah hadn't had a true Christmas Meal, and James and I hadn't had one at our house so we decided to have a Christmas/New Year's meal. It was absolutely delicious; there was tons so we'll be eating leftovers for days.

The working

The eating

We also adopted some new traditions (thanks goes to our Scottish friends for introducing them to us) that will be a part of James and Jennifer Christmas's from now on.

First we had about 100 of those little confetti poppers; they created a wonderful mess.

Then we introduced Jenna and Hannah to crackers. We don't understand why Americans don't have this tradition. We're definitely introducing them to our families when we get home. You and a friend pull them apart and whoever gets the bigger half gets the prize inside. The prizes vary, some of our prizes were a bottle opener, miniature scissors, a little mirror, a yo-yo, etc. You also get a crown (and of course you must wear it the rest of the night) as well as a really cheesy joke that you take turns telling.

But the best after dinner treats were the Confetti Cannons. So much fun. They contain a CO2 cartridge that's activated when you twist it, and tons of confetti gets shot out, accompanied by a loud popping noise. We all got a huge kick out of Hannah who was the most entertained by these toys, if only we had her reaction on video.

What do you do when you have a huge mess? Might as well make a bigger one!

"Pretend you're bored!" It doesn't take much to amuse us.

After that huge meal, we needed to do something active on Friday, so we went for a hike. In Golspie, the town 10 minutes from Dornoch, there's a mountain called Ben Bhraggie (you'll see it in the background of this photo. It's not quite tall enough to be a mountain, but we'll just call it that for now) and on top of it is a statue of the first Duke of Sutherland (Sutherland is the county we live in). You can read all about what the Duke is known for here.
It was a steep trail but the views were more than worth it.

James was looking up at the statue, it's right in front of us and it's huge.

Check out that blue sky, it's a rare and glorious sight when you live in Scotland.

This picture is for Janet. We used your gift! Christmas/New Years dinner leftovers made it all the way to the top with us and we enjoyed delicious ham sandwiches. It wouldn't have been possible without the handy dandy picnic bag you so generously gave us last year.

The trip down was a slip-slidy mess; it was getting colder and the path was turning into ice.

Poor Hannah had shoes with not much tread and ended up going down on her bum for a bit since it was easier than falling over and over again. But she was a trooper and smiled through it all!

And to catch you up to current events, today was a day of shopping and sightseeing in Inverness

We discovered if you jump up and down enough, the pedestrian bridge shakes a whole bunch. (Remember what I said about it not taking much to amuse us?)

Friday, January 02, 2009

A Great End to the Year

We woke up to the sun Wednesday morning, it was a glorious sight. I called our favorite pie shop in Lochinver and found out they would be closed for the next two weeks, if we wanted to partake in the goodness, we'd have to go that day.

We drove the same route across Scotland to the west coast as we did with other visitors, so we stopped at the same castle ruins that we've been to before.

More jumping for joy

This scene look familiar?

The most amazing part of the day was the drive along the west coast. We detoured off the main road to stop at a lighthouse. We had no idea what this lighthouse and the land around it was going to be like, but we were all amazed at what we found.

Jenna was the most adventurous of us all.

Don't worry, where I'm standing is not quite as treacherous as it looks

It felt like we were on the edge of the Earth

We made it to the Pie Shop just in time to get our pies and take them to-go; we found a nice spot to sit and watch the sunset and enjoy the deliciousness.

Next, it was home for just a bit, then out again to our friends house for some New Year's Eve hang out time before heading to the town square for the Hogmanay celebration.
Jenna taught everyone how to play spoons, it was a hit.

The lone piper playing at midnight at the top of a building in the square.

There was a fantastic fireworks show.

Could be a North Face ad

I love my mountain man.


After the party in the square, some friends met us at our house for some more hang out time, then it was off to bed. Must rest up for future adventures!