5 Scotland Travel Tips

It’s been about 6 months since Mr. Brown and I traveled over “the pond” to my beloved Isle of Lewis, and I realized that I never shared our trip on my blog! Terrible.

So today I’m going to share some photo memories of our trip along with 5 travel tips that could prove useful if you’ve never ventured to the UK and would like to take a trip to Scotland in the near future.

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  • PACK LIGHT

Try to limit yourself to packing a carry-on sized bag and a personal item (like a backpack). If you’re heading to bonny Scotland from the US, you will most likely have a free checked bag, but my advice is to keep to a carry-on size if possible. Go ahead and check it if you’d prefer, but believe me, hauling around a large bag through the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is not the ideal scenario!

On our trip in September, I brought a carry-on and my husband brought a VERY large bag. Now this worked ok for us, because my husband makes hauling an oversized bag look like a piece of cake, but it’s good to only bring what you think you can personally handle.

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  • USE PUBLIC TRANSIT

Quality public transportation is something that we here in America rarely can take advantage of unless we live in a very large city. I happen to live in an area with practically no public transit, even though there are plenty of very rural areas in Scotland still serviced by buses and trains. It’d be easy for someone like me to completely overlook the possibility and convenience of using what’s offered in the UK, and I’d be missing out!

My husband and I used about every public transportation method available on our 2 week trip, including an Uber from the airport in Glasgow to our AirBnB, the Glasgow Subway system, trains from Glasgow to Edinburgh & then Glasgow to Inverness, a ferry from the mainland to the Isle of Lewis, and buses sprinkled in the gaps. My favorite method by far is a train. I never experience motion sickness on trains and I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. On our train from Glasgow to Inverness we had the pleasure of chatting with a young couple from England about their tourism business and their new life in Sweden!

Here are a few links if they’re helpful:

https://www.calmac.co.uk/

https://www.scotrail.co.uk/

http://www.citylink.co.uk/

  • EMBRACE TOURS

Many people will tell you that need to step off the beaten path on international trips to really experience the culture and avoid tours at all costs. I say that you really just need to spend enough time in other countries to really experience the culture. I don’t think it’s a good plan to pop over to Scotland for 5 days and wander around aimlessly unless you’ve already spent time in the country or plan to return soon!

A first trip to Scotland is the perfect time to make use of tours, free or paid. These tours will introduce you to so many facets of the area that you would probably never stumble onto on your own. Plus, you can sit back and relax when you’re taken care of on a tour! When you’re experiencing a new country for the first time, it can take a toll on you. Joining a tour takes the pressure off while you’re on it.

My suggestion is to book a nice paid tour prior to leaving the US, then finding some free or paid tours to join once you’ve arrived. Free walking tours of major cities are WONDERFUL! Check online to see when and where they meet, and join up with one when you’re in that city.

Mr. Brown and I took a bus/boat tour of Loch Ness, and it was awesome. My favorite tour to date is a paid walking Ghost Tour I took in York, England years ago. I was on my own, and loved having people to chat with and finding out all about the history of this town.

  • MAKE MUSIC A PRIORITY

As a music lover, finding places to hear good music always sounds good to me, but I’d suggest making music a priority even if you don’t find it that interesting personally. Music plays a huge part in Scottish culture, and if you’re interested in seeing locals enjoying themselves, find a pub music night to join in on.

Local concerts and ceilidhs are also great ways to experience the musical scene, especially in the Highlands and Islands. You will probably be surprised how much you enjoy what you see and hear!

  • TRY THE LOCAL FOOD AND DRINK

Obviously, this tip applies to visiting anywhere in the world! However, many Americans will LOVE what they find in Scotland. Now I’m not much of a drinker, but Scotland is known for its whiskey, so if you’re so inclined…. Don’t miss out!

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My favorite dishes are as follows:

Steak Pie

Victoria Sponge

Indian Curries

Desserts of all kinds! Oh the meringue…

Seafood

If you’re really feeling adventurous, try taking a peek at the locals around you. See anything different about how they use their silverware? Like, maybe they actually use all of it? Try out the method!

My last tip, which probably applies to anywhere you’d like to go, is find out what the weather is like year-round. If you’re going to Scotland, I’d recommend trying to stick to June through August. Yes, it will be busier and possibly more expensive, but it’s worth it! A trip from the US to Scotland will be more expensive than staying in country anyway, and you might as well ensure that you can enjoy it as much as possible! One of the best bits about Scotland is the scenery, and it’s wonderful to have some warm and sunny days to explore it!

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That’s it! We had a wonderful wonderful time! We only had one challenging day…. The tale of the Clisham will have to wait for another time, but honestly, even though it involved Mr. Brown stuck on a mountain for hours, and my friend Catriona and I slugging through the mud and driving through pouring rain with Catriona powering the windshield wipers manually, it’s one of our best stories from the trip!  The good news is that neither Mr. Brown and I were deterred from planning another trip over to lovely Scotland.  Hopefully even by next year!

Happy Travels!

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Faith-based Journaling Stickers

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Once upon a time, I decided that I’d try to keep a log of the items that I post in my Etsy shop.  Now, I haven’t exactly been loading the shop with tons of merchandise, but I’ve added a few things here and there that haven’t had the proper introduction.  One such item is another set of printable stickers!

My second sticker set in the shop is a faith-based collection of verses and Biblical truths.  I love this set, and use it for sprucing up my journals and planners.  I’d say it’s the equivalent of sticking index cards with verses on them around your house, but for your journals!

Hope you like it!  Be sure to let me know if you have any favorite verses that you love putting in your journals or trusty index cards 🙂

Here’s the link: Faith-Based Printable Sticker Set

And if you missed it the first time…  Here’s my first set: Inspirational Printable Sticker Set

 

 

One-Year Bullet Journal Recap

With January coming to a close, I realized that it’s been almost a year since I started my bullet journal!  I began my current journal in the middle of February 2016, and did a One Month In post last year.  From the posts and videos that I’ve seen on bullet journalling, spending an entire year in a journal is actually fairly pathetic.  I think 6 months might be the standard, but yet here I am, with pages left to fill and only a month left in my journaling year.

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There are a few reasons for this…

  1. I rely mostly on weekly spreads to do my planning, so not EVERY day has a separate list
  2. I tested out a Happy Planner for awhile after wandering into the scrapbooking section of our local Michaels (obviously this didn’t stick, but it was so pretty!)
  3. We went to Scotland for vacation in September, and I didn’t do a blessed thing in my bullet journal the entire time
  4. Shortly after we arrived home from Scotland, I found out that I was pregnant, and also that I would be be one of the many mothers-to-be that spend months feeling AWFUL.  I completely lost interest in most things during this time, and therefore had no need for planning/bullet journaling

Yes, it took awhile to get back into the swing of things once the morning sickness ran its course, so most of the autumn is missing from my bullet journal.

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But, as this is a bullet journal…  None of that matters!  This set-up as you go system makes it easy to pop in and out without having any blank sections.  It’s there for you when you need it, and I love that aspect of the bullet journal.  I’d say the only facet I’m not crazy about is the time it takes to create my monthly and weekly spreads when it’s time to move into them. 

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If you visit the Bullet Journal website, far-future planning is not a focus of the system.  You can create monthly lists of events, and there is a popular 6-month spread that most people like to use for future events, but setting up weekly/monthly spreads for the rest of the year all at once doesn’t work very well.  You want to have your planning, notes and daily lists all together (or I do at least!).  But like I said, sometimes I put off using my notebook because I don’t feel like creating my weekly and monthly calendars when I need them. 

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I don’t see a way around this small nuisance in my bound Leuchtturm 1917 notebook (which I love), but I’m toying with the idea of using a disc-bound system for my next year’s journal…  In the past, the discs seemed to get in the way, but maybe it’s worth being able to simply print off my weekly and monthly pages and stick them in as I come to them.

Just an idea!  Watch this space 🙂  I also thought it might be interesting to do a flip-through video when I’ve filled my journal, but we’ll see!

A Winter Capsule Wardrobe : the Maternity Edition

Maternity Capsule.jpgHello friends!

As I mentioned in my New Year’s post, I’m expecting a little one in May, so this winter’s capsule wardrobe process has been a little unusual.  Over the past couple years, I’ve been able to roll with most of my pieces throughout the seasons, adding just a few things here and there.  I’m incredibly picky (thanks mom!), so finding too much has never been the problem as I’ve tried to create well-built capsule wardrobes each season.  In fact, I have a few items that I’ve been searching for since I started the process!

Now that I’m carrying around an extra little – growing – bundle of joy, finding clothes that I feel comfortable in has been a challenge.  I hate to spend much on clothes that will only have a purpose during this relatively short period of time, but I also don’t want to feel like a frump!  There are enough feelings swimming around without adding that to the mix.

After taking a trip to a Motherhood Maternity store, and scouring the local thrift shop, I’ve come up with a small collection that I believe will serve me well over the coming months.  Feel free to let me know if you have any good ideas for filling out this group on a budget!

A Place to Call One’s Own

I have a cat, and her name is Evie.  She’s a beautiful long haired tabby with the classic kitty attitude, and although she is often hard to predict, she’s convinced me that she truly likes having me around.  And of course, the feeling is mutual!

I’m not one to buy toys or presents for Evie.  She honestly seems to care less about any of the things I brought home when we first adopted her 3 years ago, so I gave up pretty quick.  She’s not even into catnip!  However, as we will be moving soon, I thought it might be nice if she had a refuge that would move with her, and was a place of safety and security. 

Enter YouTube!

 

I’m a self-proclaimed YouTube addict, and one day I spotted a cat teepee (or tipi!) in the background of a beauty-blogger video that looked so chic and sweet that I knew I’d like to get something like that for Evie.  After searching online, I found that I’d have to spend about $60 for what I wanted, which wasn’t too surprising I suppose.  If you’re interested, check out http://www.cattipi.com/.

Remember, I said that my kitty has a record of being completely uninterested in everything I present to her, so I wasn’t about to spend $60 on something that she may not even use. 

On to Pinterest!

So here’s what I found:

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http://fudgeandjoy.com/crafting-2/diy-teepee-learn-to-create-a-teepee-of-any-size/

These teepee’s are perfect!  The only catch is that it’s fairly complicated for someone with my skill level (keeping in mind that my kitty may not even sniff it).  So I decided to keep looking for something easier.

I was successful!

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http://blog.boatpeopleboutique.com/diy-cat-tipi

This tipi* DIY is incredibly simple – not that it’s impossible to make a cutting mistake…ahem…

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After just minutes of construction and minimal materials, I came up with this:

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Not bad!  I actually love the look of it, and was very pleased when the kitty started popping in to nap.  Perfect?  Almost.  It’s just not sturdy enough, and would definitely need some more reinforcement to be a permanent feature of our living room.  But it’s a start!  I plan to experiment a bit with bracing the bottom somehow, and may even decide to use the Fudge and Joy tutorial in the end.  Until then, the kitty seems pretty happy, and so am I!

Looking Back & Looking Ahead

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With Christmas over, 2016 seems done and dusted now.  It’s time to reminisce on the past year and/or look forward to the new one.  I personally find taking stock of the past year a bit of a hassle, but I’m certain that it’s the best way to start looking forward, as neglecting to look back often results in the same mistakes and the same oversights.

So here we go…

2016 GOALS

I’ve already run into a problem with this one, and can’t remember what I even wanted to accomplish!  I’m sure I came up with something, and probably wrote it down somewhere, but since my bullet journal wasn’t begun until February, I’m not sure where this life list would have been written… 

Obviously, a goal for the new year would be to make a list that I will look at after January…  See, looking back is already paying off!

Reading more (like 12 books in the year) is always on my list.  This year went fairly well, with a few months making up for book-less months, so I’m going to say that I’m happy with my 2016 reading schedule.  I found some authors I really loved (Liane Moriarty!!!), and even enjoyed a few audio books.  So happy with it that I won’t be changing it this year.

Blogging more was also most likely on the list, and I definitely failed.  Obviously.  New goal: blog posts at least 3 times a month!  It’s bewildering to me how easy it is to neglect a hobby that you actually enjoy…

I also vaguely remember wanting to try out a new business venture in 2016, and I did that, so good for me!  I failed at it, but all in all, it came at the right time and ended at the right time and I don’t regret it.  No new goal here however.

And that’s all I can think of when it comes to looking back on 2016 goals, so on to 2017!

2017 GOALS

As I mentioned above:

  1. Remember my goals
  2. Read 12 books
  3. Write 36 blog posts

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Also…

  1. Create a home out of our new house
  2. Have a baby and keep it healthy!
  3. Fill an art journal

Six is probably a weird number for a goal list, but I’m leaving it there.  2017 is shaping up to be a intense year honestly…  We will be moving in March, our new baby (our first) is scheduled to appear at the end of May, and Mr. Brown is preparing for a deployment at the beginning of summer.  I have a hunch that these events will change many of my priorities and desires.  Maybe I’ll re-evaluate my goals this summer, but until then, let this be a list I can find all year! 

little Christmas Pleasures

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I’ve faced Christmastime with a blend of excitement and dread for most of my adult life.  On one hand there’s so much to look forward to, on the other hand, there’s just so much to do!  I don’t want to sound too much like a Scrooge (a little Scrooge is festive after all), but just making lists of gift ideas gets me a little stressed…or maybe it’s my lack of ideas?

Anyway, there are so many great ideas out there for creating a “stress-free Christmas,” like limiting the gifts we buy, saying no to the majority of our Christmas invitations, or starting our Christmas preparations in June. 

Most of these options sound a tad dour to me honestly, but I definitely get their practical sense.  When things get tough, it’s time to take a step back?  However, when I think of the Christmas pleasures I enjoy the most, I find that my excitement and dread seem to be completely intermingled.  In fact, those frenzied nights when I picked up last minute gifts on Christmas Eve, the years when I went a little nuts with just who got on my gift list, or the Decembers when I found myself at a Christmas celebration every weekend are my favorite memories.

Therefore this is not a blog post about solutions for the chaos, but a list of what I personally find awesome about the Christmas season:

  1. Christmas Decorations

While hauling out the box of Christmas decor from the attic isn’t fun at all (ask Mr. Brown), the final effect of glittering lights, red poinsettias (fake for this kitty-loving household), and green wreaths and garlands is so worth the hassle!  And I don’t even have kids yet!  The plethora of Christmasy decorations warms my heart, which actually fools the rest of my body into thinking that our drafty old house is actually cozy.  Awesome.

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  1. Cozy Indoor Activities

When the weather is nice, indoor activities such as reading, knitting, and watching Netflix with a cup of creamy hot chocolate equals couch potato status.  But stick those activities in December, and you have hours of comfy recreation guilt-free.  I love hanging out indoors, and the Christmas season puts a “savoring the moment” spin on practically everything I enjoy spending time doing this time of year.  Awesome.

  1. Christmas Crafts

As I mentioned, ’tis the season to get stuck in with some Christmas crafts.  There is so much inspiration this time of year!  Would you like your home to look like an Anthropologie store this Christmas?  Well, there’s a YouTube video/blog post/Facebook link for that!  Sure, you may only get to enjoy your creations for a few days once they’re complete, but it’s the process people, the process!  Awesome.

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***check out livelaughrowe.com for an easy DIY to make these wine cork trees!

  1. Holiday Entertainment

In the age of Netflix and Hulu, I find myself barely ever re-watching my favorite movies these days.  Although for most of my life, I had no problem watching good movies over and over again, the past couple of years have found me preferring to watch “so-so” movies I’ve never seen to rewatching just about anything.  However, Christmas movies (or any movies with a Christmas scene somewhere before the credits) are still sacred, and I always watch the same few every year.  A Christmas Story anyone?  Awesome.

Maybe the secret of enjoying the Christmas season is simply our state of mind?  When you find yourself frantically wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, scouring the stores/internet for just the right gift, or adding the Christmas Eve candlelight service to your long list of places to be, remember that these are what make this time of the year so special.  Also, try to stay out of debt…that’s probably good advice as well.