Thursday, 21 August 2014

How to Deal with the Scottish Rain

Last year I came to terms with the rain in Scotland. I accepted it for what it is and my life has been completely different since. The rain is a part of Scotland. It isn't going anywhere. But, for a long time I let it dictate my feelings and how I spent my day.

We've been having a lot of rain here in Scotland as of late. It's kind of abrupt moving from summer to autumn here. One day it is sunny and the temps are good and you're spending every day at the park. Then without any warning the temps drop, the leaves start to change and the rain comes. Lots and lots of rain.

My first month in Scotland it rained every single day. I didn't go out and I just watched it rain and rain and rain. It was a complete shock and I didn't know how to live like that.  After years (years!) of practice I'm going to let you know how I do it and how I love it.

+ Check the forecast:: This one may seem like a no brainer but let me explain. I'm an obsessive weather app checker. I plan my week around what's going on with the weather. It helps to know that Tuesday and Wednesday will be clear but the weekend will be rainy. Even though the week will change from one day to the next, you can usually know what's going to happen at least one day in advance. Plan your week around the sunny days.

+ Be prepared. The weather app is never right. Make sure you have a rain coat, umbrella, something.

+ If it is sunny (or not raining) then you get yourself outside. Do not stay indoors. I don't care if you're just going for a walk around the park or to lunch at a cafe by yourself. You just get your butt outside. Have a mound of laundry and a dirty kitchen? I don't care. You get outside. I keep a  list of things I want to do/see when the weather is nice. Do not waste this precious time. Stay out all day! You'll thank me one day.

+ Just because it's grey and cloudy does not mean it isn't a nice day. You can still get outside in that and you will grab yourself some vitamin D while you're at it. It might seem gloomy in the beginning but you'll quickly realize that as long as it isn't pouring down the rain it's a great day!

+ When it is pouring the rain (for days on end) that's when I do my house cleaning and baking. Sebastian and I plan some activities to do indoors and it actually feels nice to be inside because we've spent so much time outdoors lately!

+ If it rains more than 2 days in a row, get outside. Get dressed and get out in the rain. Walk somewhere, anywhere. But do not stay home. When you spend more time inside it makes it harder to leave.  I never let myself have more than 2 days in a row inside. Just make it a rule. You might have to get wet once in awhile but it will be worth it. I promise. I never regret getting outside, even in the rain.

+ What do you do when you are really depressed and you literally can't force yourself out of the house? This is where I would first suggest talking to your doctor. This weather is the pits and when you aren't used to grey skies all the time your body goes through a shock or sorts. You can become depressed and lethargic. First talk to your doctor. Then get outside. Sometimes I have such a hard time trying to just get out the door. I have to call someone (usually my mom) and ask her to stay on the phone with me until I get outside. I force myself. It can feel like pushing a brick wall some days but I put my shoes on, pack a little bag for Sebastian and get him dressed. Sometimes this takes a long time. But I just do it. My Mom is on the other line and we just do it. Even if I am just walking around the block a few times we do it. Staying in is not going to make you feel better. But getting outside for a little bit and smelling the fresh air and seeing a little bit if sunshine (ok, let's just call it light. sunny is too misleading) is going to help you. You're stronger than this.

+ Make plans. Is there someone you've been wanting to get to know? Then ask them to lunch. Is there a place you've been wanting to see? Then plan a time to go and see it. Want to know what is in your neighborhood? Then take a walk. Just do stuff. The more you get out the more you will realize that the weather isn't the problem. It is just another factor in your life here.

+ My best advice on this subject is just to get outside. Do it. Do not wait for the rain to stop and the sun to come out. It isn't going to. But you're going to get more depressed and feel more alone if you stay inside. Just get outside. Push yourself. It might take some time but I know you're going to love this rain as much as I do.

ps. If you ever want to chat about it or need someone to go walking with just let me know!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Moving to Scotland? What to bring and not to bring | vol 2

In case you missed it | vol. 1

What to Bring::

+ Something sentimental to get you through the rough patches. I brought a cozy blanket from home. I would wrap myself up in it when I was feeling lonely and cold. Your life in Scotland is going to be so new and everything is going to be different. Carefully choose items to bring that will make you feel more at home. It might be a homemade quilt, maybe your grandmother's serving tray, or it might just be a few pictures to hang on your walls. Whatever it is, pick something to bring that will make you feel at home.

+ If you need a new wardrobe or any clothes it is best to purchase them in your home country. I know there is a space issue in your suitcases but hear me out. The sizing is different in the UK, the styles are different and the cost is staggering with the conversion rate. If you need new suits to start your new job here in Scotland, it is best to purchase them before you leave from a trusted retailer. Go ahead and throw a few new pairs of your favourite jeans in there as well as some new sweaters. Trust me.

*I usually suggest purchasing your raincoat/winter coat here in Scotland. You will be able to get exactly what this weather demands here. 

+ An open mind- Things are going to be different in Scotland than what you're used to. You'll take longer in the grocery store and things like the washing machine will be different. Just keep an open mind and enjoy the experience. It's okay that things are done differently here.

What NOT to Bring::

+ Shorts or summer clothing- You can, but keep it to a minimum. We only have a few weeks in the summer where you can actually wear them. Don't feel like you need to bring a whole summer wardrobe. You won't need it. If you need more suitcase space, toss them.

+ Wellies- Seriously, you don't really need them. Sometimes they are nice to have but I hardly ever wear mine. I think people expect Scotland to have flash flood type of rains (are you used to going out in this type of weather?) but unless you live in the country, your rain boots aren't a huge necessity. If you need suitcase space then just don't worry about them. If you find that you need them once you get here then you can get a cheap pair for £10 that will do the trick.

+ Bedding/towels- Unless you're bringing that special sentimental quilt then don't bother. They are a huge waste of packing space and you can get anything you need here. Also, the bed sizing is just a tiny bit different. My queen size American sheets are just a tad bit too big for my bed here. Just plan to budget for new bedding and towels when you first arrive.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

{Ask Mary} What is a TV License?


Kate G. asked:: "A TV License??"


You must have a TV License in the UK if you watch or record programmes on a TV, computer or other device as they're broadcast. A TV license (or broadcast receiving license) is mainly used to fund the BBC.

The cost per household is £145.50 (£49 for black and white tv sets) per year. You can pay weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly.

You can be fined up to £1,000 if you watch or record live television without a TV License.

When I first moved here I thought this was the dumbest tax I had ever heard of. I still think that.  But, along with the license you receive all the BBC channels/radio stations and a handful of other channels. It's like basic cable accept they make you pay for it. We could just not have a TV, computer, tablet or mobile in the home. Don't think I haven't considered it!  Now it is just part of our budget and I don't notice.

I don't want you to be fined so when you move to the UK you must obtain a TV License ASAP.

You can get one here::

ps. There are some great discussions/comments on my Facebook page about this. Great insight!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Finding a Rental Property in Scotland

The laws and customs relating to rental accommodation vary widely across the world. For this reason it is important to study up before you plunge in. You can go to for specific laws on private rental properties in Scotland.

I get countless emails asking me what good sites the locals use to find properties for rent. Here are the most widely used sites {and ones I have personally used}:

You will need to be open minded when viewing properties here in Scotland. They probably won't be as big as you are used to. The average size home in America is 2,300 sqft, the average home in Great Britain is 818 sqft. Keep this in mind when you are packing your furniture.

It is fairly standard practice that a landlord will not rent to a person without having viewed the property. This just means that you can't rent a property in Scotland while you are still living in America {or any other country}.  A lease is not signed here until the day you move in. The landlord will want to see your face.

So, what do you do? You need a place to live. I'm going to give you my best advice.

+ If you are lucky enough to have connection in Scotland ask them if they would help you. They can view the properties and make the arrangements for you. Then you would be able to move straight into your new home the day you arrive. If you are indeed lucky enough to have this option make sure to thank them. It will be a lot of work on their part.

+ Find a Leasing Agent that will work with you. Ask them to prepare 10+ properties to show you in a 1-2 day period when you first arrive in Scotland. You will view them all in one go. Decide on a property and set your move in date for in a few days or weeks. This means you will need to book a hotel/hostel for those days/weeks when you first arrive.

+ If you aren't wanting to stay in a hotel/hostel you can look for short term holiday rental. You will be able to rent for as many weeks as you wish.

+ If you are being transferred with your company they will probably be taking care of all the arrangements for you. You lucky dog!

+ Depending on your circumstances you may have to pay your 6+ months rent upfront. These situations can happen when attending school abroad or when you do not have a job. The letting agency will just need a confirmation of your payment. Be prepared to shell out at least 6 months rent if need be.

+ Keep in mind different areas have different council tax bands. These will be stated in the property listing. It will be a letter {ex: Council Band A, B, D, etc}. That letter will be associated with a price. Council tax is a local taxation on every household. It covers water, sewage, trash pickup, etc. The cost depends on where you live. When deciding your budget for your rental home also remember you will need to pay council tax on top of that which can be anywhere from £99-£300 per month {or more}. You can see more {here}.

Although intimidating, it is worth it to take the time and effort to secure yourself the right property to make you happy in Scotland. I hope these tips helped in some way.

Friday, 1 August 2014

{British Recipe} Sausage Mini Frittatas

I love breakfast. It is definitely my comfort food. Eggs, sausage, bacon and pancakes just make me feel better. Let's not forget the cold glass of orange juice. Savoury breakfast are most popular here and now you can have a taste of Scotland in the mornings too.

These mini frittatas are so easy to make. I'm addicted. Frittatas for everyone! I hope you like them.


1 1/4 cups cooked sausage
1 apple finely chopped
1 lemon
4 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
3 TBSP grated cheddar
4 TBSP of sultans {raisins} optional
2 large potatoes peeled and finely chopped
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper

Makes 12


1. Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cook until tender then drain in a colander.

2. Peel and dice the apple and place in a bowl of cold water. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the water - this will stop the apple turning brown.

3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and grated cheese until thoroughly combined.

4. Add the cooked sausage, apples, sultanas and potatoes to the bowl and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix gently until combined.

5. Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5 (375 F)

6. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases. Divide the mix into the muffin cases and bake for 12-15 until cooked through. Serve warm.


ps. Check out these British Bacon Roly Polies. They're amazing!