The Bagpiper and Glencoe, Scotland

Day 4 – Go West Young Man

On Sunday we decided that we were going to head west.  The plan was to follow this route from Aberfeldy to Glencoe, then on to Oban before coming back home in the evening.  It would be a lot of driving (about 2 1/2 hours one-way) but we felt the destinations were worth it.

Amy wasn’t feeling well again, so she and Andrew decided to stay back in the room.  We were sad that they couldn’t join us, but Amy got some much needed rest and Andrew had some adventures of his own.  Hopefully he’ll post about it.

Shortly after we left the resort we came upon our first up-close and personal sheep.  They were a common occurrence all over Scotland, but these were crossing the road right in front of our car.

Sheep

Then while driving along A827 through the town of Killin, we crossed a one lane bridge and came upon this gorgeous wide berth of the Falls of Dochart.  As always, feel free to click on any photo for a larger view.

Falls of Dochart

Of course we had to stop and do a little bit of exploring here…even though there was a light rain falling. Overall we had better weather than expected through the whole trip.  Oh, we had a little bit of rain nearly every day, but really only one day where we came home somewhat soggy.  For the most part we could expect the weather to change almost hourly, going from sunny to cloudy to sprinkling to raining and back again throughout the day.

Terry at Falls of Dochart
Falls of Dochart Scotland

An island in the middle of the river on the downstream side of the bridge is known as Innis Bhuidhe. This is home to the Clan MacNab Burial Ground. Its use dates back to the 1700s. An oblong enclosure within the burial ground is home to fifteen graves, nine of which are the final resting places of clan chiefs, plus a medieval grave slab which suggests that at least one earlier burial did take place here. Unfortunately there was a locked gate on the bridge that kept us from getting inside, so this is all we were able to see.  However, if you have a little bit of time, there's a sign on the gate that says you can get the key from a nearby building.
Clan MacNab Burial Ground

After our pit stop we headed back out toward the road to Glencoe.  At one point we had to stop for a few minutes for road construction and I snapped this photo of the vegetation at the side of the road.  I just love the dozens, or would you say hundreds of shades of green…and how many different types of plants can you pick out?

On the way to Glencoe

Next we were finally on to Glencoe, a lush, misty and gorgeous part of the Scottish Highlands!  It is also the historic home of the tragic Glencoe Massacre of 1692 which adds an even more haunting air to the area.  We were told by those who would know, that watching the hovering clouds and mist shift and change in the valley is the only way to see the glen.

Glencoe mist

Glencoe ScotlandYou many not be able to see it in these pics, but there is water everywhere in the glen.  Seasonal rivulets cascading through the crevices of the mountainsides.  An amazing amount of water!

At one of the roadside overlooks we also came upon this bagpiper picking up a few extra pounds (sterling, that is).  He was decked out in the full kilt ensemble so tourists could pose for photos with him or just snap a few pics, like we did.  What’s your feeling about tourist teases like this?  On one hand it’s hard to condemn the man for trying to make some money and he’s providing a service in some way.  On the other hand it feels a bit contrived and artificial.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For those who may not be aware, the kilt is a knee-length garment with pleats at the back, originating in the traditional dress of men and boys in the Scottish Highlands of the 16th century.  I think the look is quite handsome myself and love the endless varieties of tartan plaids that are used to represent the different clans.

Glencoe Bagpiper

Soon we were getting hungry and realized that there weren’t too many options for eating establishments ahead, so we decided to stop in Glencoe Village to see if we could find a place for lunch.  This is the main street in the village, just a little wider than one lane so pay attention as you drive, in case you need to share the space with an oncoming vehicle.

Glencoe Village Main Street

The village sits at the entrance to Glen Coe and is surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery.  It’s popular with serious hill-walkers, rock and ice climbers. The picturesque mountains have also been seen in numerous films, including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as the home of Hagrid.  I didn’t realize it before we went, but it’s possible that we could have gone on a Harry Potter Safari.  I guess that will have to wait until next time.  Here’s a list of all the movies, to date that have scenes from The Glen.  [This is a bit off the subject, but after living near Los Angeles (the film-making capitol of the world) for 18 years, I’ve always thought it would be a dream job to be a location scout.  Wouldn’t you just love having the responsibility of searching for all those amazing spots where they film your favorite movies?  But I digress…]

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD: We parked our car in the public parking lot and walked down the street until we found the Glencoe Cafe.  Since the town is very small and relatively remote, we really had no idea what the quality would be like.  Sometimes remote areas (in the U.S. too) don’t have the competition to encourage high quality foods, good service and/or low prices, so we were taking our chances here.  I have to say that the owners obviously take great pride in their establishment because they had an extensive menu of freshly made fare, cheerful service and some delicious offerings!  We were NOT disappointed. This is a photo of my lunch.  A light and tasty shrimp salad sandwich made with homemade lemon mayonnaise, accompanied by a wonderful green side salad. Mmmmm!  I loved it and the rest of our group was just as pleased with their choices! Be sure to stop by and enjoy the culinary creations of Justine Macleod and James Robertson if you’re in the area someday.

Seafood Salad Sandwich with lemon mayoGlencoe CafeAs we left the Glen and headed down the coast toward Oban, we were greeted with this rainbow.  One of many that we’d see in our 2 weeks of vacation, but this one was a double treat with the reflection in the water.  Truly a gift from God.  We knew then that it was going to be a great day!

Glencoe rainbow with reflection

I’M A FAN OF…WATER:  Living in the desert for decades has created a deep appreciation in my soul for water of every kind and this vacation was a true refreshment for me.  How do you feel about rainy days?  Do you cherish them or do you just survive them?

TRAVEL TIP TODAY:  A bit random, I know, but something to consider.  If you have hair that’s difficult to manage in wet weather, try to find a style that’s easy to take care of before you leave home.  Talk to your stylist and see if they can provide some suggestions.  My hair is generally straight in the bone-dry desert, but I knew that the little bit of natural curl would quickly respond to the rain and humidity where we were going.  I asked my stylist to cut my hair short enough so that I could just let it go curly and not worry about it sticking out here and there in my normal style, which I did.  I also asked for a suggestion on a product that might help it stay curly and she recommend Redken Ringlet 07 Curl Perfector which worked like a charm to “encourage” my wavy hair to hold some curl.  This cut down on the amount of hair products and styling tools that I needed to pack. Plus it shaved precious minutes off the time that I needed to get ready each day and lowered the stress on keeping my hair in place.

Eating in La Jolla, California

Because we know it’s all about the food, I thought I’d share about a couple of places that we ate when we were in La Jolla.

The Spot – La Jolla

Saturday night was an unofficial birthday dinner for me (and for Andrew too) since both of our birthdays were in the week before we were there.  We tried to make a reservation for a place overlooking the coast, but the earliest they had was 8pm, and we had eaten early in the day, so we tried to find someplace available earlier.  We ended up at The Spot.

It wasn’t overlooking the coast, but we were able to snag a table right next to a couple of windows that opened out onto the sidewalk with the fresh ocean breeze wafting through.  This is the booth where we sat.  Can’t you just feel the breeze?

It also helped because the restaurant is a little dark, so the outside access helped it feel more open.

Here’s what we ate:

Andrew’s Garbage Burger: 1/2 lb beef patty with lettuce, tomato, pickle fries, sauteed mushrooms, bacon, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and onion rings

Garbage Burger

My steak and shrimp scampi.  The scampi was a little over-cooked but still had good flavor.   The steak was tender and delicious!

Steak and Scampi

Terry’s Shrimp with Penne Pasta looked very tasty: imported penne pasta tossed with grilled chicken in our pesto cream sauce

Pasta with Shrimp

I don’t have a photo, but at the table next to us the guys had a Deep Pan Pizza that looked amazing!  We were staring enough as it was, so I didn’t want to totally intrude by taking a picture.

This is the view looking outside from the table.

Overall it was a wonderful meal in a great location with some of my favorite dinner companions.

For those who’ve seen this post already, I apologize for the duplication.  I realized that I didn’t include the “window” shots and I wanted to add them.

I think I’m going to share about the next place in a separate post because there’s more than just the meal to talk about.

Next Post: Seals, Sea Lions and more in LaJolla

Then: LaJolla’s Open Aire Market!

2 Great Casual Places to Eat in Encino

A couple of weekends ago we headed over to Southern California to see Amy & Andrew and to use a hotel gift certificate that was going to expire. What a great excuse to get out of the heat!  We stayed one night in Tarzana with the kids and Saturday night we stayed a couple of hours south in LaJolla.

Because food is always a key ingredient in any trip, I thought I’d share a couple of the places that we ate.  Three of them were excellent and one was very good. It’s hard to rank them because they were all very different, so I’ll list them in the order that we ate them.  See what you think.  I’ll share two from Encino today and two in La Jolla tomorrow.

The Stand – When Terry and I were making the long drive from Phoenix, I started thinking about The Stand about 2 hours before we got there. It’s THAT good.  We went to the one in Encino, but there are a few other So Cal locations as well.  Amy & Andrew introduced us to this place a year or so ago and we have loved it every time we’ve been there.  In addition to the great food, the awesome outdoor eating area just adds to the experience.  I don’t know about you, but a breezy alfresco meal always tastes better to me somehow!

I was analyzing this cozy spot that’s right next to a very busy city street.  They’ve creatively planted trees and tall hedges to provide shade and sound proofing between the diners and the cars.  This could easily be replicated in Phoenix.  They might have to close down for a month or so in the summer. Then again, if they had misters in a shady area like this, it could be a year round venue.  Anyone willing to try it?  We’ll definitely be your regular customers!  Randy & Linda, How bout it?  You could close down in the summer and head out of town!

The Stand Encino

On this visit I tried their Chicago style hotdog with sweet potato fries.  I’ve heard so  much about it, but had never tried it.  I’m not a huge fan of the poppy seeds on the bun.  I can take or leave them. They don’t add a lot of flavor and I always worry that they’re stuck in my front teeth when I’m finished eating.  Otherwise, this was delicious!  Terry shared my fries and got a chili dog and liked it so much that he went back for another one.

Here are a couple of posts that Amy did about The Stand too, with even more photos.

Hotdog at the Stand

More Than Waffles – Encino

This is the first time we’ve been here and if I had looked at their website before we went, I probably would have ordered something different.  Not that my club sandwich wasn’t good, but some of the other breakfast items look AMAZING!  Terry got a very hearty omelette with waffles on the side. The smell of freshly made waffles is so scrumptious. He was kind enough to share a bite of his with me. Everything we had was excellent.

Amy & Andrew

What a great time to be with A & A and explore a few of their favorite spots.  They live in a great area for cute little eateries.  We love going there and trying out their discoveries.  Of course, we’d love going there no matter where they live.  It’s the people, not the place that we love the most.

Soon I’ll share about our day in La Jolla looking at the seals and sea lions.  And the little boy who needed a little bit of “mom-type” help.  It was so much fun!

47 Foods You Should be Eating on Vacation (or Anytime)

If you’re anything like me, you have a hard time making good food choices when you’re on vacation, especially when you’re eating out and have literally dozens of options, both healthy and unhealthy at your command.  This summer our family is making plans for a BIG vacation in August when we’ll be going to Scotland for a week and Ireland for a week.  And right now I’m in the process of losing some extra weight, especially before the trip, but also don’t want to go too crazy on vacation either.

So, here’s something that might help all of us make better choices both at home and away.  Today, my Frommers Travel Newsletter provided a timely link to MohrResults.com where I found this list of “47 Foods You Should be Eating“.  I’ve segmented the list into easy snacks for travel, then those with a higher likelihood of finding in restaurants, and last are the ones that you’ll probably find in the grocery store or in some cases, your local farmer’s market.

I would recommend posting the list in the kitchen, adding it to your smart phone or iPod or carrying a physical list around with you until you have it memorized.  Then on your next trip (or even your next local outing) when you’re sitting at a restaurant trying to decide what to get, look for one or more of these items in your food choices.  And of course, when you’re at the grocery store, make it a game to see how many of them you can include in your weekly menu.

I took my own inventory and discovered that I actually had 23 or the 47 items already in the kitchen!  Yeah!  I guess that means we’re off to a good start.  Plus I picked up a few more at the grocery store today.  Woohoo!

Also don’t be afraid to try some foods on the list that may be new to you.  Yesterday, (before I saw this list) I was at True Food Kitchen in Phoenix and tried their Tuscan Kale salad as a side dish and it was DELICIOUS!  I’ve always been leery of kale, thinking for some reason that it would be too bitter, but this was amazing with a light sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a wonderful lemon dressing.  If there were places like True Food all over the planet, then we wouldn’t have to worry about eating healthy.  They make it easy and scrumptious too!

So today when I was at the grocery store, I decided to broaden my horizons and picked up some kale in the produce section.  Then when I got home I did a little more research on this AMAZING super food.  Check out this summary of the benefits of kale.  Wow!

Now here’s the cool part.  When I was researching, I also came across the Kale Salad recipe from True Foods here.  So I made it for dinner!  Here’s the picture of MY Tuscan Kale Salad (below) with the addition of cucumbers and a few minor changes (I added some lemon zest and Queen Creek Olive Mill  Meyer Lemon olive oil (instead of EVOO) to the dressing) because I LOVE lemon flavor.  Be sure to watch the short video showing how easy it is to make.  

In addition, when I googled “Kale Salad”, near the top of the list was another recipe from the food blog, “Oh She Glows“.  The strange thing about that was that I had just finished reading my daughter’s blog post about her Top 5 Food blogs and she had mentioned this as one of her top five favorites.

So here’s the list as promised.  I hope it helps you to take a step toward healthier eating.  For me summer is always a better time to eat lighter when the temps are higher and the produce is fresher and less expensive.

47 Foods You SHOULD Be Eating

Snack options:

  1. Pistachios
  2. Almonds
  3. Apples
  4. Blackberries
  5. Sardines  (if you don’t have to worry about the odor offending your neighbor)
  6. Carrots
  7. Red, yellow and orange bell peppers
  8. Blueberries
  9. Red grapes
  10. Nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, etc)
  11. Coconut (either fresh, where you crack the shell or unsweetened, shredded)
  12. Tomatoes, cherry or grape tomatoes make great snacks (for meals – raw and cooked both have unique benefits)
  13. Cherries
  14. Pineapple
  15. Raspberries
  16. Strawberries
  17. Plain Greek yogurt
  18. Green tea
  19. Black tea

Look for these in addition to those above on restaurant menus:

  1. Wild salmon (fresh and/or canned)
  2. Whole eggs
  3. Spinach
  4. Lean red meat (we prefer grass fed beef)
  5. Cauliflower
  6. Avocados
  7. Garlic
  8. Beans (black, kidney, chick peas, red beans, etc)
  9. Sweet potatoes or yams (technically not the same, yet they’re often used interchangeably)
  10. Broccoli
  11. Red and green cabbage
  12. Onions
  13. Cinnamon
  14. Mushrooms (all types)
  15. Barley
  16. Canola and olive oils (replace other less healthy fats with these, don’t simply add these to the diet)
Add these to your grocery list and try them at home if you can’t find them in a restaurant:
  1. Swiss chard
  2. Quinoa (pronounced “keen wah”)
  3. Rolled oats
  4. Barramundi (often called “the sustainable sea bass”) can be found in the frozen section of Whole Foods & has half the calories, yet equal omega 3′s to coho salmon)
  5. Pink grapefruit
  6. Turmeric (benefits)
  7. Kale
  8. Pumpkin (we often add canned, unsweetened 100% pure pumpkin to our smoothies)
  9. Unsweetened cocoa powder or cocoa nibs (also often added to smoothies or Greek yogurt)
  10. Lentils
  11. Oat bran
  12. Beets (try this Summer Salad Recipe with beets)
Let me know which of these are your favorites already or any ideas for ways to incorporate them in your daily routine.

Better Blog Content 2.0

O.k., so its clear that you’re probably not getting much inspiration from me lately, but I do have a recommendation for you to check out someone who is a prolific blogger.  And this week, she’s running an online Blogging Workshop on “Lemon and Raspberry” called Better Blog Content 2.0.  You can find all the details here.

Full disclosure: she happens to be my daughter, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have great stuff to share and to help you in the blogging world.  In fact this might just inspire me to start posting again.  See, this post is proof that it’s working already. 🙂  I love this picture of her from some recent “outtakes” at her  home photo shoot.  Note the raspberry lemonade in the photo for her “Lemon and Raspberry” blog.  Clever huh?

But, it’s getting more and more difficult for me to choose what to blog about.  We just added a few more events to the list.  Last week I helped my dear friend, Linda on a photo shoot with her daughter-in-law and granddaughters, which was a blast!  I’ll post more on that.

Then I went with my husband and the Ryans to Tucson to hear my husband and Bob perform at the Tucson Folk Festival.  I promise, soon I’ll post about that trip, as well as an awesome Mexican restaurant that we visited there.  It’s a place that you won’t want to miss if you’re in the Tucson area and are hungry for Mexican food.  Stay tuned for all that and more to come.

Thanks for hanging in there with me during this busy time of life.

I’m still alive – Here’s what I’ve been doing.

O.k., so I know that the last few months have been pretty sketchy as far as my blog posting.  You wouldn’t believe the back up of fun things that I have to post about though.  Here are a few of the activities that I have piling up in my photo files.  I can almost bet that I won’t get to all of them, but if you see something that sounds particularly interesting, let me know and I’ll work on those ASAP. Besides the busy schedule, I also have been having some technical problems with my laptop AND just hit the wall with the message that my external drive (where I store all my photos) is full.  Looks like I’ll be shopping for a new external drive.  Hopefully we won’t need to get a new laptop, but I’m a little concerned that it might breakdown on our trip in August.  Hopefully it will be resolved one way or the other before then.

Here’s a little sneak peak for one of the events.  This is Steve Larson and Bob Ryan performing in The Dubious Brothers Radio (Stage) Show for the Open Door to the World Annual Fundraiser last weekend.  Sorry, I don’t have the exact name of it.  Click to enlarge.  Lots more photos on that to come.

Steve Larson and Bob Ryan - The Dubious Brothers

Here’s the list of my latest activities that are waiting to post…any preferences?

  1. My sister’s new branch (it’s decorated and hanging on her wall)
  2. Dinner at the Mozingo’s with the reunion team – can you say AMAZING!
  3. Moving my mom to a new apartment
  4. Dinner at the Daily Dose Bar & Grill, then Fiddler on the Roof at Grady Gammage with Terry and his mom
  5. Greater Reach Ministries Fund-raiser Brunch at the…
  6. Historic Squaw Peak Inn – mini tour
  7. Open Door to the World – Dubious Brothers Show, Dinner and Fundraiser
  8. Glory Road band mini-reunion
  9. Putting in the patio at the Mozingos
  10. I’m growing orchids and they’re still alive!  Photos and everything
  11. Spring Training Dbacks game with the Truefaced Team
  12. Carefree Art Festival
  13. Grocery Shopping with my mom – just for posterity
  14. Uncle Al’s Hot Dogs
  15. Check Please Arizona” – New Phoenix metro restaurant review show on PBS
  16. Cantina Laredo Mexican Restaurant

List # 11- Date Night Ideas

O.k., so you’re probably thinking that I can’t count or I fell off the face of the earth for the last 8 days because I just skipped from List # 3 to List # 11 on the “30 Days of Lists“.  Well, of course, its none of the above.  I’ve just been busy and decided to skip a few of the lists for now.

I’ve pretty much determined that I can’t realistically do any number of consecutive days of quality blog posting or crafts or scrapbooking or whatever because I just have too many other things tugging on my time.  In fact, I’m not quite sure how anyone with a full time job (or close to it ) can pull it off.

So, here’s my idea for those who might be listening/reading.  I think we should do a blogging or scrapping/art journaling challenge that’s only 1 to 3 times a week.  I think that’s much more do-able for the average Joe or Josephine (like me anyway).  I think that’s something that I could commit to over several months or even a year.  I’ll have to think about starting one of those of my own.  Let me know your ideas on what you would enjoy doing.

With that said, here’s the next list I chose, just because it sounded like fun!  Some of these are unique to Arizona, but many can be adapted to your local area as well.

Inexpensive Date Ideas:

  • Picnic and a movie in your own living room
  • Coffee and browsing at a bookstore
  • Happy Hour at a local restaurant – food and drinks are usually quite reasonable
  • Head out to a local coffee shop and enjoy the free music that’s offered.
  • Browsing the local arts, crafts and music festivals.  Many are free or very low cost.  Here’s a list of Free Events in AZ in March 2011.
  • This year my husband will be performing with his friend, Bob at the Tucson Folk Festival, which offers two full days of free music at outdoor venues in Old Town Tucson in the first weekend in May.
  • Head out to your local farmer’s market – buy some great food, go home and enjoy the process of cooking and dining together.
  • Ride public transportation downtown and take in the sights and sounds of the city.
  • Picnic in the park
  • A good old fashioned bike ride
  • Steaming hot clam chowder and a walk on the beach at sunset.

 

Single, Double or Triple Dates:

Day trips out of town – you’ll find lots of pics and stories on my blog about our weekend travels with and without other couples.

  • In Arizona we love destinations like Sedona, Jerome, Flagstaff, Prescott, etc.
  • The whole day can just be about a scenic drive.  The adventure is half the fun!
  • Look for interesting places to browse the art galleries, small shops, and quaint restaurants.
  • We also love getting out into nature and going on a hikes wherever we can find beautiful weather and gorgeous surroundings.
  • Places like: Oak Creek Canyon, Apache Trail, Tonto Natural Bridge, or any number of state parks, national parks and monuments in Arizona

Parent-Child Dates:

  • Story time at the Library
  • Playground fun!
  • Rainy day game tournaments – stay in your PJs and play together all day!  (board games, cards, video games, etc)
  • Draw, sew or do art projects together
  • Volunteer to help at a charity, church or community organization – it builds relationship skills, builds character and provides a lesson in thinking about others before ourselves

 

Chihuly Glass at the Desert Botanical Gardens

 

 

Fun For Anyone Dates:

  • Movies in the parks – lots of local shopping centers and parks host free outdoor movies when the weather is nice.  Take a picnic blanket or folding chair, your favorite beverage and a picnic of great snacks and enjoy the gorgeous evening watching a favorite classic movie. Here’s one going on now at the Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix.
  • Check out the Library Culture Pass Program – Library card holders can check out free passes through many Phoenix metro area libraries for free admission to selected area attractions like the Phoenix Zoo, AZ Desert Botanical Gardens, and many museums.
  • An awesome concert or an exciting basketball game are perfect for a night on the town.
  • A day trip to the snow for sledding or making snowmen.