I love lists.  All of my posts tagged list will be seen here.  I think it goes back to the event planner in me.  An event has a lot of moving parts and the only way to keep it all in check to create lists.  In the transition and moving process to Scotland, almost every day had a list of things to get done and things to do.  It keeps you on track, and there’s something so satisfying about crossing an item off an list and knowing you have accomplished what you set out to do.

Because of my love of lists…I decided to do a category/tag/section for Lauren’s Lists.  I’m picturing my travel bucket lists, Scotland to-do lists, goals, shopping lusts, things I miss (Spoiler alert: the food, I’ll miss the food the most), books to read, etc.


The Posts Ahead

Even in my blogging hiatus I have thought often about writing, content, etc. And I do have some blog posts already written and ready to go (maybe should take the lapse in time to actually proof read something), as well as quite a few I have wanted to write for some time now. If only I was able to record my thoughts to writing when I was running.

  • A brief overview (mostly in pictures) of what we’ve been up to in the months without blogging.
  • A round up of my favorite cafes’ in Aberdeenshire
  • Carry On Travel Tips
  • Crisp way of life: the UK’s love of potato chips
  • My love-hate relationship with Air BnB
  • 2 Weeks in Croatia
  • Long weekend in Skye
  • A Weekend in Northern Ireland
  • The long horsey road that left me with Hamish
  • The expatriates: expectation vs reality
  • The trailing spouse’s need for an independent life
  • Being an Air BnB host– why not try to make up some of that lost horse money
  • Horsey posts….there’s bound to be loads more horsey posts.

Anyway, I wanted to give a little teaser on the posts that will be coming up in the next few weeks and months. Hopefully this gets you excited and tuned back into Hot Dogs to Haggis, hopefully I start to get some followers back that have forgotten about me, and of course, I hope to get some new followers.

Now those aforementioned are the posts I’ve already written, or are long over due. In addition to those…I have some fun times coming ahead this year and am sure more than a couple blog posts will be coming from them.  So am hoping these adventures on my calendar result in good times and entertaining blog posts if nothing else:

  • A girls long weekend in Porto, Portugal (3 moms + 3 non-breeders = how will our worlds collide)
  • A girls weekend in London (me + 2 single ladies…bound to get into trouble)
  • 2 weeks in Indonesia in August!!
  • My mom’s visit in June with a weekend in Glasgow
  • My father-in-law and brother-in-law visiting in July
  • Wedding in Copenhagen + a uni reunion
  • A weekend on the Isle of Eigg
  • My mom’s return visit in October with a trip to Lisbon
  • A possible weekend up north to Ullapool & John O’Groats
  • 3 Weeks home for Christmas & Megan’s wedding
  • Jumping Hamish – right now we are a LONG way out, but really just looking forward to growing and progressing with Hamish. And I think Jumping him in 2017 is a good, acceptable goal.

And I’m already looking forward to next year’s hols (British slang for holidays). In early chats with some stateside friends about a girls trip- location TBD but there is a lot of Switzerland chat. Along with a possible sailing adventure with other couples around Italy or Greece which is E’s dream. And a frosty trip up to the Shetlands in January for a fire festival. Wanting to come visit us? Time is running out and 2018 is already getting booked.

Anyway, I hope you see more of me and my writing, and I hope I hear from more of you. Let me know if you have an idea for a blog post you’d like to see, if you have any questions, or even some shady hate mail. I do love me some hate mail. Just kidding…well, kinda.

American TV Hack

It’s been about 18 months since I gave my tips and tricks to watching American TV in the UK. See the original post: HERE. Seems about time for an update, don’t ya think.

I have grown slightly accustomed to UK TV. They have pretty great game shows- the Chase and Pointless, some fun UK spins on shows like Bargain Hunters and House Hunters, still loads of reruns of the Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons, and my new favorite show: This Farming Life which follows, “the struggle and triumphs of five very different farming families in some of Scotland’s most beautiful and remote landscapes.” I mean, hello…. my new reality TV dream is to be on that series.Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 7.05.44 PMAnd if you can get cable TV (we can’t because we live in the middle of nowhere) you can get better (read American) channels, and Sky Atlantic is basically HBO a day later…. but you can find all that on your own. This is a tip of those Americans craving our biased morning news programs, over-the-top juicy dramas and weight loss challenges featuring the most cringe-worthy Americaners.

So my first post was all about a VPN and either watching your TV programs on an ipad/computer and/or using an Apple TV airstream to watch them on your TV. Which is all right but not always the best quality because you’re VPN lessons your quality, and then air streaming lessons that a step further.   My new find is Unlocator. Another VPN service that you can use on your tablets or computers, but even better, is designed to be used with your Apple TV.Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 9.01.02 PM

There’s a free week trial, but after that it is about $50 for a year of VPN service. You are given a DSN number to manually input in your Apple TV settings, and then as long as you have an American Cable TV login (Comcast, Direct TV, etc.) can now unlock all the American TV apps on your Apple TV. I will admit the apps are a little limited. But E gets to watch Pardon the Interruption and Sports Center, I start my day with the day prior’ Good Morning America, and we both love having HBO Go.IMG_3334

As with most bootleg ways to beat the system and pretend you’re still in America…. there can be frustrating flaws and hiccups you have to work around. Most notably, HBO Go is really picky and if the weather is not perfect, doesn’t work for some reason. I don’t get it because ALLLL the other apps work, but c’est la vie. How else would I get to maintain a front row seat to the demise of America politics with Donald Trump leading the march?Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 8.57.10 AM

Friday Faves 4.22

Well, I was sorta hoping for another real blog post…. but it would be about my injuries and I’m hoping to know more next week and I don’t really feel like dwelling on what I am assuming is wrong with me. So instead- my Friday Faves!

    This is our first halloween together in 2005.

    This is our first halloween together in 2005.  Of course this picture is a) before digital cameras and b) framed in my house.  

    Especially my favorite Prince song, preformed with the Muppets.

  1. My new favorite breakfast. An instant packet of Quaker Apples & Cranberries porridge with a dollop of Rachel’s Organic Apples & Cinnamon Greek yogurt. Yum. And the extra protein keeps me going longer.273923011_0_640x640
  2. Reflexology. And even more so, friends that are getting trained in reflexology which results in me getting free treatments as she practices. Unfortunately it’s hasn’t healed my shoulder, hip, tailbone…but I’m sleeping better and it definitely makes me less stressed. And who doesn’t want a two-hour foot rub with some gal chat. Now I just need friends who are working on getting certified in massage, acupuncture, nail tech, and physical therapy….
  1. Ginger Beer. I consider myself a connoisseur of ginger beer and the best hand’s down is Old Jamaica.

5.  Shake Shack. I only took a snapchat so it’s disappeared into the vast Internet space never to be found again. But was able to nip down to London to see my BFF (of my entire life) while she visited her in-laws. And I had to demand some American goodness for lunch. Cheeseburger, cheese fries, and a vanilla milkshake. We did walk about 15K steps and I needed an American fix dang it!



Hmmmm….lot of foodie things today.  Probably a sign to get back on my diet.  Until next time….have a good weekend and think positive thoughts for me next week as I see doctors on Monday and Tuesday to try to get to the root of all my pain.

Know Your Scottish Round 3

IMG_1290It’s that time again! A new bundle of words I’ve encountered. Some of which were easy to define (especially in social context but even on a list), but was noted if it was something that I a) probably have never said in my life and b) actually hear the unspoken word several times a month here in Scotland.

As always, I’ll note these actually aren’t Scottish specific, but most often UK specific.   Although there are some you’d only hear in this country, and possibly even only here in this shire. Good ole’ Aberdeen.


Corn Flour – Corn Starch

Cracking – the best. “This roast is cracking.”

Dummy – Pacifier

Spit Your Dummy – throw a hissy-fit

Casting – shedding (as in Stella is casting all over the house!)

Hack/Hacking – Trail Ride (on horseback)

Whist – a card game

Blether – like “blather”, but used without negative connotation. Like, “Haven’t seen you for a while, let’s get together and have a blether.” The google tells me a Scot uses it to mean “a chat, often a long chat with a good deal of juicy gossip thrown in.”

Clampett – White Trash – from the Beverly Hillbillies.


Gilet – an outerwear vest. Think of a poufy vest or faux fur vest…along that line.

Home-bakes – kind of self-explanatory. But you’ll see home-bakes sale or be asked if you’d like any cakes or home-bakes at a café.

Niggle – an ache or pain, or annoyance.

Stramash – a disorderly gathering….and then became the name of a Scottish game.

Trump – Fart

Doon – how Aberdonians say “down”

Ooot – can you guess what Aberdonian pronunciation this is?


Friday the 13th Faves

Did you notice I slid an informative expat blog post in there Wednesday? After being MIA for a week and a half? Whoops. It’s been a mix. A mix of being super busy and getting enraged at the UK.  Both things I’ll touch on next week…

But lets focus on the good and share some tidbits on what’s going on in my life in Scotland with my favorite bits of the last week.

SHEEP, SHEEP! They’ve moved the sheep into the field next to our house. It’s a big field so depending on where they are, I get to see sheep when I wake up. And sheep when I come home. And be super creeped out when I don’t realize they’ve moved to the bottom of the field and I take Stella out at night with a head torch on…and see 50 glowing eyes staring at me from 10 yards away.

View from the family room.

View from the family room.



American shopping!! Pre and soon to be post thanksgiving sales for me to enjoy! I still can’t order to my American hearts content (not in the 30 day window for returns yet) but Nordstrom’s always accepts returns and getting a sweater I already have in a new color is a sure bet. So stoked about a good sale on some new flats and my favorite sweater in black (pictured in red)._10979162 cn9971178

Scotland’s Weather! Still on my list of faves. I know Chicago had mid-70’s last week. But I’m loving mid-50’s and all the gorgeous leaves. When my mom was last ere I told her how fall isn’t anything remarkable here, but this year has proven me wrong. It’s not just me, a lot of ‘Donians are agreeing this is an epically beautiful fall. There are tons of leaves on the ground, but still a lot on the trees. And I guess without wind or heavy storms the leaves just had time to stay on tress and actually change colors for once. It’s gorgeous. So gorgeous, E & I ate outside in November.

IMG_2027 FullSizeRender (14) FullSizeRender (13) IMG_2016 FullSizeRender (12)FullSizeRender (18) FullSizeRender (17) FullSizeRender (16) FullSizeRender (15)

Finding my bumper! So I started taking a college course once a week that meet’s kind of far away- about a 50 minute drive, 30 miles away, into the Cairngorms National Park. My first class I wasn’t really sure where to go, I’m out in the middle of nowhere, trying to find the building…. I realized I took a wrong turn and hastily did a 3 point turn. But it was pitch black and as I pulled forward I didn’t have the clearance I thought I did and kind of hit…something? I thought maybe it was a low rock wall in a ditch…who knows. I got to my class and looked at the front of the car and thought everything looked cool. The next day at the gym my friend asks, “Lauren, what happened to your car?” Apparently, that big bang was half of the front of my car being ripped off. 4 days later we drove back to where executed the 3 point turn and there was my chunk of bumper! Took it home and popped it back on. Okay, the bottom of the car is still a little messed up, but I can live with that. As for what I hit? We can’t figure it out. There wasn’t even a mound of dirt or a rock. Chalk it up to Scottish driving.

Lastly, two songs I’m listening to on repeat. Of course Adele’s “Hello” (and kind of Lionel’s) and “All My Friends”. Not LCD Soundsystem but someone or something by the name of Snakehips with Chance the Rapper who’s from my ole’ and favorite city of Chicago.




Friday Faves 10.16

Bringing my weekly blog post count up to what it used to be! The Indian Summer has pretty much continued in Scotland. The evenings get cold and there’s frost, but every day its been sunny and warming up to the mid-50’s…which is the equivalent of mid-70’s in Chicago.

Anyway….things that made my week:

  1. THE CUBS BEAT THE CARDINALS!! Hell yeah this makes it a good week! Even if you’re not a Cubs fan…come on…every dog deserves their day! And for Ernie Banks damn it!  So happy for the Cubbies.1976965_10153533749145659_2173506493715307459_n
  2. Hilarious children’s costumes. If I had a kid, one of these would definitely be going down.  Any great costume idea is even better when used on a baby/child.halloween-costumes-for-kids-6 halloween-costumes-for-kids-7 halloween-costumes-for-kids-36
  3. My new riding crop. 3rd Anniversary gift is leather and E delivered. Good thing too because it was I was on Dixie today at the stables…worth it’s weight in gold to get some respect out of that horse.
  4. Having a fireplace in our new (very old) house (church). Even though we’ve had great weather lately, there’s a nip in the air and we got to use our fireplace. Lot more of this coming.IMG_1699
  5. This little article on “What Your Go-To Workout Says About You” – Mainly because it makes me feel like I have a split personality disorder….as I speak I have golf clubs, running shoes, gym bag, and riding hat/boots/gloves in my car. What does that say about me?

5 Friday Faves

I have at least 5 expat related blog posts started….and another 4 post ideas written down…but I just caaaaaaaaaaaaan’t. Can you hear my vocal drain all the way over there? I am just having like spring fever. Is it the gorgeous Indian summer in Scotland? Probably doesn’t help. Is it just that I have too much going on? Yeah, we’re close to lighting both ends of the candle. Or it is just that I am too excited/distracted/interested in too many things? Probably that’s the biggest thing.

I mean right now I feel my brain is thinking of and trying to figure out and plan: horses, running, chocolate, home décor, party planning, my blog, home baking, client work, horses, running, chocolate.

But I need to stay relevant peeps. And I actually pre-planned this and just never carried it out. I have a heading of “lists” which I envisioned to be short little posts containing…drum roll please….LISTS! Like top 10 things I’m missing from America, 5 veg I’m using this week, books I’m extra excited about, goals for the month…ya know. But I always had so much to say…and I still do now, I just can’t focus it. So here we go with a list.

5 Faves from This Week

  1. My momma. It’s her birthday today. I am so lucky that she could come out to visit me in Scotland twice this year! And while I haven’t recapped her last trip yet, here’s a sneak peek of some awesome pictures from it.IMG_1362 IMG_1345 IMG_1495
  2. Carol’s Cookies. For several reasons. A) Because I just gifted a small tin to my momma for said birthday. B) Because they’re my favorite client in the US. C) Because the cookies are amazing and really are still handmade every day. D) Not only are they amazing, they are huge…nearly half a pound.  What’s not to love?!  Seriously, if only they shipped to the UK. I guess my waist is happy they don’t…Cookie piles
  3. Scotland’s Indian Summer. Holy cow this week has been AMAZING with weather. This week for the first time now only did we go outside with the kids in Riding for the Disabled (RDA), which was just so great. The horses are happier, the kids are happier. I was even sweating. But I also got 3 outdoor runs in, have had to wear sunnies everyday, the sky is beautiful, the farmers’ jobs are easier, AND even my riding lesson was in the outside arena today! First time ever and even though there is all kinds of construction going on so it’s not so pretty…it was just so damn nice. And it didn’t hurt that I was on Abby (my fav horse) doing cantering pole work and getting into two-point position. Also didn’t hurt that I got several, “excellent”, “well done”, and “wonderful riding” –s thrown my way.
  4. Getting back on my Fitbit game. It’s been months since I’ve been active. My ugly Fitbit rash has cleared and I’m back in a healthy space running and working out. Watch out friends, I’m gunning for you.

    remember when I ran a marathon?

    remember when I was training for a marathon?

  5. I passed my UK Driving Test!! God, it’s been a 5-month journey and I promise a very informative (and undoubtedly funny) post to help out all future expats going on this journey or a process. And show every a glimpse of the frustrations of systems in other countries. But in the end, I PASSED! Happy girl.

    No more "L" for this girl.

    No more “L” for this girl.

10 Essential Scottish Shoesies

Moving to Scotland? Ya better rethink you shoe game before the movers come. Because I guarantee you’ll need to enhance your shoe collection and it’s a lot cheaper stateside than it is here.

My mother would claim that I couldn’t possibly need more shoes. But she would say that if I had one pair. Yes, it’s true most of my UK friends think I have an obnoxious amount of shoes. But I’m actually not a huge shoe person. I swear. I’ve got nothing on my friends that are real shoe gals. And the shoes I do lust after tend to be sneakers. And have you know…I’ve only bought one pair since I’ve moved here. And they are amazing. And I get compliments wherever I go in them. The availability of sneakers in Europe is a lot sweeter than in the states. I digress….

These are the shoes that I feel are essential to have in Scotland.Slide1

  1. Wellingtons aka Wellies – Obviously. Don’t send these in the sea shipment- get them in your suitcase or at least your air shipment. I know Hunters are all the rage, but I stand by Burberry wellies. I’ve had these beauts since 2006. Worth the cost for sure, although I think I deserve an upgrade. (Cough, cough E)
  2. Wellie-bobs – In truth my wellies were in the sea shipment that got delayed and I needed wellies ASAP due to the fact that I have to take Stella out and didn’t want to ruin my trainers. So I went out and got some cute little wellie-bobs. They’re super easy to slip on for a quick dog wee. And bonus- I got ones that are fleece lined! Even in August, it’s not warm enough (especially when raining) that fleece lined wellie-bobs will make your feet sweat.
  3. Waterproof Hiking Boots – Even if you’re not the sportiest, these will be a good investment living here. And actually, they are the #1 footwear I recommend when coming to visit. Just ask my mom: she’s so glad she got a pair. Scotland is gorgeous.   You are going to want to explore it thoroughly. And a lot of that is done walking. Also, Scotland is not flat. So some ankle support never hurts. And a lot of the walking is on trails. And trails and grass are muddy. And covered in sheep and horseshit. If you get one pair of shoes moving here, it should be these.
  4. Hiking Shoes – I like to have a more casual pair of hiking shoes. These are great for walks on the beach or casual strolls in the woods when you don’t need waterproof-ness or a ton of support. I really hate getting sandy trainers, but sometimes full on boots just seem too intense. That’s when you wear these gems.
  5. Extra Trainers – this is only necessary if you’re running outside and going to the gym. Because you’ll be running in rain, mud, horseshit… you don’t want to track that into the gym. More importantly, they don’t want you to track it into the gym. You should have some clean trainers to get you through your indoor workouts.
  6. Short booties – I would recommend black and brown. They are dressier than sneakers and are the answer when you don’t want to wear heels.  And in all honesty, it doesn’t really pour here all the time.  If you don’t want to look like a frump-ball, you need booties for the rain.
  7. Golf shoes – Um, hello? It’s Scotland. You’re gonna want to get on the links.
  8. Tall boots – Okay, these aren’t essential in Scotland. They were essential in Chicago though and I won’t give them up. But in actuality, I can’t believe how infrequent I wore equestrian style boots in Scotland.  But see note about short booties, same applies.  You can’t tromp around in rubber boots all day.
  9. Slippers – I’ve mentioned you should also get these in your air shipment if not on your person when you arrive. The houses here are cold unless you have heated floors (and even still, my kitchen tile isn’t heated and is deathly cold) you’ll need these.
  10. Sandals – oh no, not for Scotland. For someplace warm where you’ll holiday. Coming up on my diary: Turkey and Portugal.

And to be fair, I did note that some might be considered optional in your life. But none are optional in mine.  Honorable mention goes out to my trail shoes!  I never needed trail shoes before and I still feel damn cool in these light weight, super tread shoes.Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 8.40.49 PMAny pair I forgot or you disagree on?  Don’t get me wrong, it does get warm enough to wear cute flats, but they wouldn’t really be necessary I don’t think.  I also did not put in Uggs because they’re not the best for wetness.  And even though I brought both my regular shearling Uggs and super industrial lined snow-proof, water-proof, -20 degrees fahrenheit Uggs….I wore them the one day it was snowing…and they were completely unnecessary, as hiking boots would have been fine.  But who knows, maybe next year I’ll need winter boots AND sandals in Scotland.  Global warming is a tricky b.


5 Reasons Marathon Training Sucks

Marathon training isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. That really hit me in the face this past week when after feeling like Rocky post 16 miles (for about 3 hours)…I crashed hard and stayed there. I barely eked out 3 on Tuesday and followed that up with a super pitiful 8 on Wednesday. Such a huge overall uber pathetic-ness that I couldn’t handle grocery shopping. In my defense, the carts here in Scotland have all the wheels unlocked and they go all wonky and in every direction and require too much body strength for me to control in my current state of pathetic-ness.

And now that the marathon is just 44 days away…I think I hold the right to complain for a minute.

Top 5 things I am not digging about marathon training:

  1. My feet. They are so tore up. Blisters, cracked skin, toe nail polish falling off in sheets. They hurt. They are gross. It’s annoying.

    I wear the $16 socks, use moleskin, and have had my gait analyzed for my shoes.  It is, what it is.

    I wear the $16 socks, use moleskin, and have had my gait analyzed for my shoes. It is, what it is.

  2. My knees. They hurt the worst. But really, everything just kind of aches all the time. A dull, chronic pain 24/7. And as many problems as I had squatting/crouching down before….it’s virtually impossible at this point. I am not sure if this is reversible…I’m thinking not.
  3. My laundry. Or more so, the abundance of stinky, wet laundry. I only work out 5 days a week, but Thursdays are a two-a-day. And I wear padded bike shorts AND capris to spin. And I wear a sport bra and athletic clothes to golf. So that’s like 7 sweaty outfits. In addition to 7 normal outfits. Gah!

    There's also a load in the washer AND dryer.  That is oh-so nicely located in my kitchen across from the fridge.

    There’s also a load in the washer AND dryer. That is oh-so nicely located in my kitchen across from the fridge.

  4. My skin. It’s worse than when I was in high school. Backne? Check. Chestne? Got it? Regular old acne? In full force. But it doesn’t stop there…where there’s not zits my skin is so dry its peeling off in the most unattractive ways. And my forehead…that’s just a constant oil spill. Sweet.
  5. My sleepless nights. I don’t know if it’s training related. But I’m exhausted every night. Haven’t been this exhausted since I worked 70+ hour weeks for the non-profit Satan. And yet, I can’t sleep. It’s really annoying. And I’m rapidly going through the limited supply of Nyquil we have remaining.


Here’s to 44 more days of marathon training!

30 Things to be Thankful For in Scotland

As you’ll soon be reading- Thanksgiving turned out really well.  But I was a little too stressed planning out the day, then executing the day, then being exhausted to post before November came to a close.  I wanted to be a little more optimistic and share 30 things I’m thankful for in Scotland.

  1. New friends that are thoughtful and sweet.
  2. Weekly golf lessons in golf Mecca.
  3. Being able to let Stella off leash all day every day.
  4. Sewing class and the future possibility of making a kilt.
  5. Men in kilts- you can’t help but smile.
  6. My hard working husband that allows me to be a lady of leisure.
  7. More time for books and book club.
  8. An excuse to invest in Barbour.
  9. Being close enough for a weekend trip to London, Vienna, Madrid…
  10. Highland Coos.
  11. People pulling over in the middle of the highlands to play the bagpipes.
  12. No artificial food coloring.
  13. Very local produce and meat.
  14. Crumpets.
  15. Driver on driver kindness.
  16. Still being close to the beach.
  17. Being warmer than Chicago in the winter.
  18. Still being able to get to Costco.
  19. Hatchbacks.
  20. Porridge.
  21. Tartan and Harris Tweed everything!
  22. Getting to wear sweaters nearly year round.
  23. The most beautiful countryside in all the land (castles, horses, coos, sheeps, lochs, mountains, hills, and the green green land).
  24. Unicorns and Nessie
  25. Curling arenas with free intro lessons.
  26. Munros to bag.
  27. Stopping for a cuppa.
  28. Getting to say “wee”, “tellie”, “neeps”, “tatties”, and “coo” with regularity.
  29. The oh-so lovely and welcoming Scots.
  30. And obviously…Scotch.