Thursday, February 28, 2013

#TBT: Prom 2001

I must redeem myself from last week's Throw Back Thursday. Totally embarrassing! But isn't that what being a kid is about?

Senior Prom 2001
Here I am, ready for Prom

It really was not a fun night. Sure I looked pretty and stuff, but it was not a "night to remember". It was "Spring Forward" night, so we lost as hour of our prom night. That sucked!

Anyway, compared to all of my friends, I spent very little money on dresses and shoes and make-up and hair for every dance I attended. When prom rolled around, I told my parents that I wanted to spend the "normal" amount (aka what my friends usually paid) on everything. This pretty much turned out to still be way less than all of my friends were spending on their prom gear. That's okay though because look how pretty! Just kidding.

Update: When I wore this dress, I remember it being really tight around the chest area. Twelve years later, I can still fit into this dress, but it is now loose in the chest area and tight in the hip area. Strange how my body has changed.

Many high schools do a "Project Prom", but my high school (Clear Lake) did Project Graduation rather than project prom... probably because we all had limos that took us straight to a beach house after prom.
Also, at my high school, you either had to be a senior or be the date of a senior to go to prom. We did not have a Junior/Senior prom like many schools do... probably because the senior class was over 700 students.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It Never Gets Old...

Actual date of this event: 24 February

I started out the day thinking, "What a beautiful day it is!" I ended the day feeling depressed. So what happened along the way?

Since Luke and I will be leaving Aberdeen for London in ... who knows how long, we still don't know ... we have made a list of things that we want to do before we leave. We have sites to see, towns to visit, restaurants to try. With him being in London during the week, it is going to be really difficult to do everything.

One of his "to-do's" was to visit Dunnottar Castle one more time. He had only been one time, back in August, but I had been three times before (August, Julie, Judy/Tom). Since it was a beautiful day, we set out to do the hike from Stonehaven Harbor to Dunnottar Castle. When I say beautiful day, I mean one of those days that the sun is so bright that we had to pull out our sunglasses that have been locked in their little case since October even though they say don't wear sunglasses in Aberdeen! So beautiful that the North Sea was all different colors of blue and green!! So beautiful that the clouds just added the perfect background!!! So beautiful that we didn't even care that it was 40 degrees outside!!!!
The drive from Aberdeen to Stonehaven has a few teaser views of the North Sea. This is pretty much where the depression began. I looked out at the sea and said, "It never gets old." Luke replied, "It doesn't." And right there is when it clicked that this is a view that I will miss. Although I don't see it everyday, it is so close to me that I could see it everyday if I wanted. How can a body of water be so violent one moment and then so calming and beautiful the next?

Anyway, we parked in Stonehaven and took the trail along the coast. We passed by the War Memorial that was built "in ruins" to commemorate those "ruined" lives.

This trail was actually closed, but everyone else was following it, so we would too. There were two spots along the trail where the land slid down the cliff below. Safe, huh?

one spot where the land gave out
We came upon the small bay that is north of the castle, and instead of staying on the path, we decided to go down the steep path to the rocky beach. We got some shadowy views of the castle from a lower angle. While down here, we enjoyed seeing the different kinds of granite rocks, and gathered a few to take home with us.

Eventually we reached the bottom of the castle and began the climb up the stairs. We decided not to enter the castle, but we took our time admiring its outer beauty. There was even a Piper for some background music (see video). There is no way it can get better than that!

We walked around the cliffs on the south side of the castle which we had never done before. We stopped for pictures and ate a snack and just enjoyed our last views. (Video shows me walking up to the cliff)
In the video, it looks like I go right up to the edge, but I was actually still about 10 feet away.

Since we went off path on the way, we decided to stay on the path going back which gave us higher up views of the castle.
The total hike according to Walk Highlands was supposed to be 3 miles, but since went off course, we did around 4 miles (says my new Garmin watch!). I had to really hold back on getting teary. It was so bad that I didn't even tell Luke my thoughts because I would have broke down into full out crying. Dunnottar is my calm place. All four times, I have visited have been amazing! You would think after that many times, it would get old. It does not! I gets more and more beautiful every time. I hope that I can find another calming place to visit but it is going to be hard to beat Dunnottar. I will miss it!

P.S. For those of you that live in Aberdeenshire, this is a terrific hike for visitors no matter their ability.

Dunnottar Castle lies on 3.5 acres of land with cliffs of 160-foot drops.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fruitless Chicken Salad

After last week's Tasty Tuesday recipe, I had quite a few requests for my Chicken Salad recipe. To me, Chicken Salad is one of those things that EVERYONE has a different taste for. Some people like fruit in their's, and some people don't. Some people like grapes but not apples, and some people like apples but not grapes. Some people like chunky chicken, and some people like smooth chicken. I can't really say what my favorite kind of Chicken Salad is because there are so.many.from choose.  

I came up with my recipe after doing some research on what kinds of ingredients make a good Chicken Salad. I picked a few ingredients that I knew Luke would like. I did a couple of runs with different spices and ingredients. I also did a few runs with and without the food processor. As I have become a better cook, I find that it is easier (food processors are a pain to clean) and quicker (food processors are a pain to clean) for me to NOT use the food processor. Anyway, I came up with a recipe that I enjoy and one that my husband especially enjoys (although I should stop that because he eats it all too quickly).

Fruitless Chicken Salad

Total Time: 15 minutes (excludes the time for cooking the chicken)
Servings: probably 10 or so full sammiches

5 small chicken breasts (Season one side with garlic powder, pepper & Tony's. Bake in the oven. Then dice or shred it.) (Ain't got time for all that? Use 3 large cans of chicken chunks in water, but drain the water first.) (Want to waste time? Buy a rotisserie chicken and pull the meat off of the bones.)
1 Finely chopped Pepper (green is the best, but I like to mix all colors to add up to one pepper - plus its colorful!)
1/2 chopped Red Onion
1/4 cup Crushed Almonds (optional) (I just place them in a baggie and use something to crush them. If using a food process be careful not to grind them too fine.)
1 1/2 cup Light Mayo (or until moist enough)
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard (or to taste)
Season to taste with pepper & Tony's

-Allow chicken to cool before mixing.
-Mix chicken and veggies (and almonds if using them) (A food processor works well here. I suggest dumping it all in together rather than chopping the veggies first, and then adding the chicken. The juices from the veggies will become too much - been there, done that.)

-Mix in the mayo and mustard. Add more mayo, if the mixture is not moist enough.
-Gradually season with pepper and Tony's until you feel it is seasoned enough

Usually, I make Chicken Salad for sammiches where I toast the bread and add cheddar cheese.
I have also made Chicken Salad Salad (sounds like it doesn't make sense but it does) where I put it on top of lettuce and added avocado, tomato, cucumbers, chopped eggs and cheese. That was a good one!
I hope you find time to try out my recipe, but I also hope you become creative and find what works best for you and your family!

Today, I have linked up with Alissa at 33 Shades of Green for Tasty Tuesday!

London has 32 boroughs. 
(Yep, that's right folks... get ready for London facts. They are never-ending!)


Monday, February 25, 2013

Getting a UK Driving Licence

First off - You may be thinking, "Debbie, you have spelled licence incorrectly. It is spelled l-i-c-e-n-s-e." You see, my friends, that is how the British spell it. And according to this site, it is the correct spelling. If you actually take a look at the site, it makes complete sense, and I may just follow that rule for the rest of my life! I will practise now! hehe :)

Moving on...

Since I moved from the States to the UK, I am allowed to drive with my Louisiana license licence. It's somewhat crazy to me since driving is very different on the wrong left side of the road. But it really doesn't take long to get used to it which I guess is why the Kingdom allows Americans to drive. It's not a free pass forever, though. When coming from the states, it's a bit of a process.

1.) After 6 months of living in the UK, you are eligible to receive a provisional licence. But you must receive the provisional licence within one year of living in the UK because that is when your American licence becomes invalid, plus you will run into problems with car insurance (or so we have been told). To get the provisional licence, you must fill out paperwork and send it in to the DLVA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) with your passport with some amount of money. You will receive your passport some amount of days or weeks later along with a provisional licence.

2.) After receiving your provisional license, you are now allowed to pay some amount of money to schedule and take a Theory test. The Apple App Store has over 10 free apps to help you prepare for this test. Apparently, this test is not too difficult to pass.

3.) After passing the Theory test, you are now allowed to take the Practical test. The Practical test is apparently really difficult to pass. It's easy to make a mistake especially when a few of the rules are different than the states. During the driving test, there are two different kinda of mistakes you can make: minor and major. You allowed so many minor mistakes before you fail. But if you make one major mistake, you fail right then and there. A major mistake can be something like not knowing that the upcoming roundabout has two lanes going into it because there are no road marking and you pull into the middle instead of to one side (happened to a friend of mine). FAIL! To prepare for the practical test, it is highly recommended to take lessons. It is not a test that you want to rush into or "wing" because it costs approximately $100... each time. And because it is so easy to fail, that's a lot of money to throw out the window. And then if you fail, you are not allowed to test again for another 6 weeks. Talk about high anxiety!!

In the end, the whole process costs over $200 and that does not include the cost of driving lessons. Yikes!

Anyway, Luke and I have just begun this whole process. We have the paperwork filled out, but need our passports for next week. After skiing we will send it all in to get our provisional licence. I have begun studying for the theory test using the free iDevice apps. I'm glad I have started because apparently you have to know about car mechanics for the test. Seriously! And there are at least four different names for pedestrian crossings. Seriously! One of then being a toucan crossing. Seriously! More on that in another blog...

Hope you get through this Monday!

A licence from a country with an exchange agreement with Great Britain (Andorra, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Faroe Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Zimbabwe) does not need to go through this process. They only need to exchange for a UK licence, but it still costs money to exchange it.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Joining a Book Club

When I moved to Aberdeen, I decided to join the AWA's evening book club. I had never been part of a book club before, and thought it would be a great way to branch out of my "chicklet" genre. Reading about single, 20 year old gals and their issues with finding a husband or keeping a steady job just wasn't up my alley anymore, so book club was my savior!

Since joining, I have read a few different types of books, and I have added a long list of books to my Good Reads' "To-Read" list. I don't think I will ever manage to make that list smaller. Anyway, here is a list of a few that I have read since joining book club:
-The Winter Sea (also named Sophia's Secret) by Susanna Kearsley
-Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith
-The Hundred-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
-The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
-Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

I haven't read all of the books that I was supposed to read since joining... I missed the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and also Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. I have the latter on my list to read at some point. The former... not so much as I heard it was, I will put it nicely, not good.
We decided at one of the meetings a few months ago to read The Great Gatsby because it is a classic that we were all forced to read in high school. We thought it would be fun to reread it as adults. I didn't remember reading it in high school (although I know I was supposed to). When I began reading it just a few weeks ago, not a single word from the book sounded familiar, so I am pretty sure I never read it. After finishing the book a few weeks ago, I decided that I probably tried reading the book in high school, but I most definitely chose talking on the phone or hitting the volleyball against the house over reading the book. Phone & Volleyball > Reading ... Fo sho! The book isn't so bad, but I am an adult who can appreciate it and I also don't really have the strong volleyball shoulders I used to have... unfortunately :-(

Have you reread any classics that you were forced to read in high school? How did your views change?

Have a stupendous weekend y'all!

Barnes & Noble originated in 1886 under a different name. Its current name began in 1917 after going through a few different changes in ownership. (says the wiki)


Thursday, February 21, 2013

#TBT: Cheerleading Camp

After making fun of EVERYONE else during last week's Throw Back Thursday, I decided I should get the hurtin' this week...
Meet Olga
(I think that was her name)
After retiring from gymnastics in the summer between 5th and 6th grade, I decided to join the cheerleading squad that my gymnastics' gym (South East Gymnastics Academy - SEGA which is pronouced seeeeeega, not like the video games) created with all of the retired gymnasts - we pretty rocked in the tumbling department! We went to camp over the summer at Baylor University where we learned new cheers (even though we didn't cheer for anyone, since we were strictly a competition squad) and new dances.

One night, I decided to... um... dress up like this. I have no idea why. Well, yes, I do. I was 12 years old and what else do you do at 12 years old? I am pretty sure that is my coach's bra I am wearing... and those are the bloomers that I wore under my cheerleading skirt... aaaaaaaand I think I just got rid of those night shorts like two years ago. The scrunchy on my wrist... can we bring back scrunchies?

Fun story about camp - the first year at the Baylor camp, we had a shaving cream fight in the dorm where we ran into each other's dorm room spraying each other with shaving cream. It was so super messy, but so super fun! The second year at camp, we decided to make it a tradition, and the second time around wasn't as fun because I think we got kicked out of camp... seriously.

If times could be like this nowadays, well then I probably wouldn't be married.
Dancing at UCA Nationals at Disney World
See me snapping those fingers? Yeah - I got the moves like Jagger.

**If you have a throw back picture of you and me that you would like featured on TBT, shoot me an email :)

My first year at cheerleading nationals, I was so nervous that I puked before the competition. The second year at nationals, my sister puked from being nervous. Apparently, the Zalewski girls have some weak nerves.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Edinburgh with The Mahan's

Actual date of this event: 15-17 February

Weeks ago, my friend Jillian discussed taking a weekend trip to Edinburgh because her husband, Ryan, needed more pages put in his passport. Apparently, Edinburgh is the place to get that done. Luke and I were invited to join in on the trip, and we I gladly accepted! It turned out that Ryan was not going to need more pages, but that was not going to stop this trip from happening! Luke and I had been to Edinburgh one time before, but we did not get to hike Arthur's Seat which was on our Scotland Bucket List. Plans were made by the ladies, so the boys didn't have to lift a finger! Don't worry - we were kind!

We drove down to Edinburgh on Friday around lunch time... eating sammiches requested by Ryan, made by Debbie (inside joke) along the way. There are only a few stops when road tripping in Scotland, so you must make use of the ones you see! Anyway, after taking a detour more than 5 times which resulted in Luke singing directions (inside joke), we finally made it to the ApartHotel (lodging with hotel accommodations, but apartment style). We dropped off our bags and headed out.

Calton Hill - The sun was shining and the weather was great, so we climbed the smaller hill within the city. Luke and I did this on our last trip, but the views are so nice on top that we were all about doing it again.
The "hill" on the right is Arthur's Seat

Afterward, we had a few drinks here and there, and walked around here and there. This trip was not at all like the normal trips that Luke and I usually take. We are usually boom-boom-boom-go-go, but since we had already been to the city once before, we enjoyed relaxing and not feeling rushed. If only we could visit EVERY city twice and do the same. If. Only.
We ate dinner at Under The Stairs which was very yummy. Luke says it might be one of the best meals he has had in the UK. Ryan's appetizer, a Veggie Haggis Quesadilla, was voted the best of all we ordered - crazy, huh? Afterward, we called it a night... time will not be mentioned here... although apparently four 30 year olds can't hang very late. Sadness.
drinking our Pommy's
On Saturday morning, we headed out the door around 10:30am for the main event!

Arthur's Seat - Arthur's Seat is a hill mountain on the east end of the Royal Mile, just south of Holyrood Palace. It is located in what is called Holyrood Park. The park is ah-may-ziiiiiiing!!! Seriously, if I lived in Edinburgh, this is where I would spend most of my time. It even got me wanting to be a hill runner. That is inspiration for ya! Anyway, the total hike we did was around 3 miles and we ascended a total of 915 feet. Luckily, these 915 feet were broken up into a few different sections to give our bodies a rest. It was a terrific workout which resulted in some terrific views of the city. I might just rank this hike as my favorite of all hikes of all time. There are several paths to choose that don't require you to go up 915 feet, so it is great for all sorts of people. And it is seriously impossible to get lost. We, of course, chose to go as high possible because otherwise, according to Luke, "the hike would not count".

at the top!
Chapel Ruins on the north side of the park
After our hike, it was only 12:30pm and I think all of us wanted to nap, but no one wanted to admit once again that 30 year olds cant hang, so we got cleaned up and headed back out. More walking, which in Edinburgh seems to always be uphill. For realz - remember that, mom? We stopped to watch a street performer for about 30 minutes.
boys waiting patiently while girls watch performer
Swallowing a sword
A 225lb man standing on a board of nails resting on the performers bare chest and then eating fire
We stopped by the front of the castle which is on top of a hill so we saw more views of the city.
And once again, we found ourselves a little parched and needing a refreshment or two three use your imagination. See, 30 year olds can hang! For dinner, we went to The Dogs which was also a yummy one. I agree with Luke that Under The Stairs was better than The Dogs, but both were very good. We had a few drinks after dinner, one being at a really classy piano bar (meaning not the same style as Pat O's or Howl at the Moon) called The Living Room. It is a neat place... for sure check it out if you are in Edinburgh!
Sunday morning, Jill and I had wanted to get up and run before leaving, but those steep streets in Edinburgh did not sound appealing to my legs at 8am, so we passed that up for more sleeping. We headed home before lunch since Luke needed to make arrangements for working in London for the week. It was a really great weekend! We didn't "do" much but it was great to hang out with some great friends and relax. If only we could visit every city more than one time! Thanks for a fun weekend, Mahan's!

Edinburgh has tons of "closes" which are small alleyways between buildings, many with stairs, that are used to access apartments or areas behind buildings. Back in the day most closes were closed by a gate, but most of them these days are not. One of the most famous closes is Mary King's Close which is said to be haunted.

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