The dogs are sleeping--Islay curled up on the bed and Nala laying on the cold spot under the window--and Reese is interviewing people for his dissertation at his desk. I am working at our table trying to finish a short story I started this summer so I can send it off to literary magazines. I haven't written a word in an hour and a half. Instead I've stared out the window watching the mist cover the leaves in flowers in a thin layer of moisture.
In 23 days Reese and I and the dogs are moving back to Seattle.
I struggle writing that sentence because, even as a writer, there's very little you can do with punctuation to evoke bittersweetness that is this transition period. Of course I'm elated to go back to Seattle and see family and friends, to live in our house again, to drink really good cider again. But going back to Seattle means missing the life we built in Edinburgh.
This past year has been a constant unknown. As a planner, it's been a year-long life lesson in patience and flexibility. It's also been one of the best years of my life. For both Reese and I it's been a big life shift. This year started out as a goal, as a dream to live abroad somewhere. We wanted different life experiences and opportunities. And when moving costs, living expenses, and tuition is cheaper than staying put, take the opportunity!
And what an experience it's been.
Over the course of the year, Reese has worked towards his MBA which he's been finishing up this month and I've been writing a collection of short stories, working on a novel, and preparing for my masters program that starts in a month(!!!).
In between all of our academic goals, we took advantage of being so close to so many wonderful places. Since we've been here we've visited:
I don't think I can pick a favorite. Tromsø will always hold a special place in my heart. Watching the Northern Lights dance above us while we lay in the snow was one of the most magical experiences of my life.
That being said, living in Edinburgh and getting to spend time in the Highlands was magical in a different way. The gothic architecture will always make me swoon. The rugged richness of Highland terrain will always captivate me. The whisky will always be delicious. The storytelling will always be enchanting.
And of course, there was a lot of park time with the doggos. I think they'll miss being able to run around off-leash all the time and chasing golf balls at the park. We'll find a way to make it up to them.
Scotland will always be my second home. I am so grateful for all of the wonderful friends we made while we were here and for all the experiences they brought into our lives.
Moreover, I'm grateful to have had this experience with you, Reese. Thank you for getting into your program so we could have this adventure. Thank you for being my forever travel partner. For being my life partner. I love you.
My mom always told me that it takes about two years to really integrate something new into your life. So I think it was alarming to her that in one year I got a new job, a boyfriend, moved in with said boyfriend, went on a vacation together, and got a new puppy.
This was back in 2014. Like every twenty-something I was sure I had everything figured out. And to be honest, things went about according to plan. But looking back I can see what she was concerned about.
Separated by three years, I watched my brother do something similar. And in both cases I witnessed the same outcome. We saved, planned, puppy proofed and in the end the puppies shaped our futures.
But Islay was ready to make up for those missed moments.
The first week that she was crate training full-time while we were at work, she took it upon herself to throw shit-parties, as I called them. She'd poop in her small crate and then roll around and decorate the walls around her. All of the books said that dogs don't like to foul where they sleep, but Islay had her own agenda.
When she got old enough, we decided that we'd let her stay out during the day while we were at work. For the first 8 months, she slept all day and hung out with Nala. It was perfect. Then she decided to chew off a zipper from a couch pillow. Not great, but it was a small time offense. We tested it the next day - nothing happened. But then a few weeks later she mulched a baseboard and we couldn't find the nail until after we had already paid for x-rays.
But those moments, good and bad, taught me so much in the almost four years she's been in our lives. Patience, compassion, responsibility. I can't imagine a day without her or Nala.
It's been a while since I've posted anything so I thought I'd give everyone a proper update.
This last month has been busy! Since our trip to Skye, Reese finished his first class, I went to a writing retreat and course up in Inverness, and the dogs are still living their best lives.
Holiday season is officially underway. This is the first time that I've been out of the US for Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, but I think we found a good alternative. Reese and I joined a bunch of friends to go to the Christmas market in Edinburgh for some delicious food and mulled wine. After, we went and watched folk music at a pub on the Royal Mile.
Before Christmas, we're headed to Norway and Sweden for some Nordic adventures and (hopefully) some Northern Lights. Can't wait to share stories and photos of our adventures! We're not sure what we have planned for Christmas yet, but I'm hoping it would be filled with relaxation, movies, and puppy cuddles.
This weekend was one for the books… more specifically, the blog.
It started a bit early as Reese finished his first week of classes on Thursday and we took the pups up to Arthur's Seat. Edinburgh is a pretty great place for those the love an urban setting as well as the outdoors - there's (as one woman I met put it) a wee mountain in the middle of the city. Not many places are that lucky. And we are certainly beneficiaries of such luck! It's only a little over a mile away from our flat. So we walked the dogs over to Holyrood Park and headed up the path to the top. We also got pretty lucky with the weather as it had been raining on and off that day, but it was just sunshine while we hiked (or hill walked - not sure what elevation gain constitutes something as a hike vs. a hill walk).
Nala, of course, loved every minute of it. She's a seasoned hiker and I think much prefers to hike is sixty degrees Fahrenheit or cooler. Most of the time, she lead our pack down the best paths and made new friends with other hikers by surprising them with a lick on their hand. Most people didn't seem to mind (phew). Islay now has two hikes under her belt and this one she did entirely off leash! Not to mention we did not have to carry her up or down - we had a hunch that she might get tired. But this little batpig likes to hike. In fact she's quite the little explorer. She would climb up on ledges so she could see what we were seeing an hike by our sides rather than by our feet, go off and sniff the heather that was blooming all along the hillside, meet all of the other hikers, and possibly sneak up on some of them to give them kisses while they were sitting for water breaks. All in a days work. Safe to say, they were beat when we got home.
Then Saturday Reese and I went to our first Ceilidh (pronounced: kay-lee) dance with his MBA cohort. For those wondering, a Ceilidh dance is a gathering with lots of food, drinks, and dancing - they are traditional Scottish dances but think along the lines of square dancing. We had a wonderful time! We spent the night mingling with Reese's fellow classmates and getting to learn more about what made everyone choose Edinburgh and why they decided to get their MBA in the first place. They seem like a great group to spend a year with. Plus, almost everyone seems interested to meet our dogs, so that's a plus in my book.
We've since spent the rest of the weekend lounging around the house while Reese prepared for the first week of full-time lectures.
My courses start in two weeks and I'm excited to meet with new professors. It'll be really interesting to see how fiction writing is taught differently here than it is in the states and hopefully I'll learn some new skills because of it!
I hope everyone's enjoying their last few days of summer!
After two days of travel on their own, the dogs made it to Edinburgh safe and sound last Friday. We've spent the better part of the days following making sure they were getting adjust. As you can see from the photos, they seem to be good and comfortable. Making themselves right at home. Both of them already have their favorite napping spots.
Almost every day since they've been here, we've taken them to explore some of the parks that are in the heart of the city and they've had a blast. Since Edinburgh doesn't have strict leash policies, they don't really have any traditional dog parks. All parks are dog parks - which is great for Nala and has been a learning experience with Islay. To be honest, Islay has impressed us. Before the move, we hadn't really done any off-leash training. We've gone to off-leash dog parks but they're all fenced in Seattle so there's not really a risk of her running away. But here, they have free reign if they're off-leash. So we decided to trust her. It's certainly been an experiment but it's gone great so far! Take a look for yourself - here they are at Bruntsfield Links and then at the Meadows.
Right now, they're fast asleep dreaming puppy dreams. Hopefully this week we'll be able to take them up Arthur's Seat.
After our first few days in Edinburgh, it's safe to say we're smitten. Though I've lived in Edinburgh before, I lived and experienced a different part of town. But before I get into all of that, let's do a quick recap.
Reese and I got up at 3am in Seattle to head out on our journey. After a thirteen hour trip, we arrived early in the morning, collected our bags and met up with our new landlord and tried to stay awake for the rest of the day by walking around the city. It only mildly worked. Side note - we somehow managed the impossible. We got a flat before we arrived in Edinburgh. On several occasions we were told this wouldn't be possible and it sure felt like it at times. But, to our luck, we answered a posting a couple of weeks before we left and managed to secure ourselves a place to live. Since we arrived, we finally got some sleep and have been setting up our house for the next year while anxiously awaiting the arrival of the dogs.
At this point I'm not sure if everyone is more excited to hear about the doggos or the house, but I'm going to start with the dogs. Currently, they're awaiting their flight at Sea-Tac and will arrive here on Friday. We are certainly ready for them. We've already scouted out the best dog food stores and gotten them a myriad of toys and treats. Those spoiled pooches will be set to go.
Onto the house. I'd be lying if I said anything other than it feels like a fricken fairy tale. We have a three bedroom furnished flat with a porch and a washer-dryer combo that actually dries. We live less than a block from the gym and three local markets shops, and on the way there we have a view of Edinburgh Castle. We're within twenty minutes from school, a movie theatre, and some great pubs. Best yet, we are a short walk from the Meadows, a perfect park to walk and play with the dogs. We think they'll love it - after they get over the fact that we put them on a plane by themselves for two days.
This September, Reese and I are setting out on our best adventure yet: we're moving to Edinburgh Scotland!
First, let me say how proud I am of Reese. Reese was accepted into The University of Edinburgh International MBA program. This is a highly competitive program and has a rigorous schedule over the next year. Congratulations love!
Second, I am SO excited to be moving back to Edinburgh! It is one of my most favorite cities in the entire world. It has such a rich history and a fantastic culture - I'm so grateful that we'll be living in this medieval city for an entire year.
This is also a very special opportunity for me as well in a different capacity. I'll be spending the year pursuing a lifelong dream of mine - I'll be spending the year focusing on writing, hopefully concluding my time there with enough to submit to publishers and/or literary magazines. A lot of this I'll be doing on my own, taking guidance from the course I took at UW over the last year. But I also plan on attending some short courses at The University of Edinburgh and Moniack Mhor.
We will miss our family and friends more than we can say but we look forward to all of the new experiences we have ahead of us.
There were many things that my Pappap held close to his heart. At the forefront of that list was family and food. One of my favorite memories was when our family got together for Father's Day lunch at the Olive Garden one year. He and my grandmother arrived and Pappap was greeted by me and free passed appetizers and was faced with a decision: hug Alli or enjoy some free eggplant parm. The choice was tough. Pappap never turned down free food. So before the waitress disappeared and took the free food with her, Pappap went in for a quick hug and then chased after the waitress. It was a win for everyone.
Free anything was probably a close third behind family and food, and the best food was free food. Once, we went to a Chicago Cubs game, and as we were getting ready to leave, there was someone passing out jalapeno chips. Pappap had two handfuls and asked my brother and I to go get some more for him. At the end, we had two backpacks full and he says, "Do you guys like these kind of chips?" I told him no and he goes "Me either. But they're free, so we'll take them home." My brother and I laughed about it most of the bus ride home and every year since. Most recently he said, if its free get in line twice.
When you lose someone that has had such a profound impact on your life, you grieve a little more. Cry a little heavier. You realize all of the parts of your life they have touched. You hope you've learned all you can from them.
Pappap's stamp in on many parts of my life. He and I, we're cut from the same cloth. It's hard to say that without sounding arrogant. He was a great man and we shared many values. He was a hard worker. Strong, diligent, caring, loving, quiet.
Pappap was a man of few words. So much so that I remember a Christmas where he maybe said a handful of words. But he was always listening, always observing. Whenever I called my grandparents, I would hear Pappap talk on three occasions.
When my brother was in middle school, Pappap almost got kicked out of a match for berating the ref on a bad call he gave my brother. Once my brother was in high school, I was warned by the ref for berating him on a bad call against our rival school. You could say we were passionate supporters. Pappap was at every match he could be at for my brother and always called after the ones he could make. He knew the importance of showing up and being there for those that are most important to you.
Since before I was born, Pappap was in my life. He came to Illinois from South Carolina to decorate my room in a Winnie the Pooh theme. My grandparents eventually moved back up to Illinois to be involved our lives. Throughout my life, Pappap has been shaping it in ways I wouldn't realize until I was older. He taught me about the importance of working hard. He taught me that will power is just as important as having the right skills. He showed me what a good marriages, a true partnership, looks like. He always encouraged me to go after my dreams.
Even since his passing, Pappap is still teaching me the little things are the most important memories of all. Evidently, when I was seven years old, I had gotten back from a trip with my family and had a whole three dollars left over. I decided to write my Pappap a card and share my three dollars with him. I don't actually remember doing this. But upon getting into Chicago this weekend for his memorial, my dad handed me this card with the three dollars in it. Pappap has been saving this in his safety deposit box since 1998. I have never been so humbled by anything in my entire life.
While I miss him more than anything, I am happy that he's no longer in pain. I'm am so fortunate that he was in my life and that he helped shaped my perspective on the world and I will never take that for granted.
I love you Pappap.
A week ago today, I got to marry my best friend and we had our perfect wedding.
I was never one of those girls that started planning my wedding when I was 4 years old. My mom is convinced that I must have thought about it at some point after watching a Disney movie, but it's just not a memory I hold from my childhood. I remember playing race cars and Legos with my brother, or American Girl Dolls and with my Playschool dollhouse with my sister. Not which dress I would wear when I got married.
But what I did imagine when we started planning our wedding totally came true. We took a pretty relaxed approach to things, and honestly, the budget drove most of our decisions. We didn't have a specific date we had to get married or a designer that needed to make my dress. Our entire goal for the day was to be authentically us.
To be honest, I think both of us would've been ok getting married at the court house, but I wanted my grandparents to celebrate with us and when you start getting to about 15 people, you might as well throw a party.
And a party it was. The best party I could've imagine. We got married at Sole Repair in Seattle neighborhood Capitol Hill on May 7, 2016. With about 70 of our closest family and friends, Reese and I began one of the memorable nights of our lives. I am so thankful to everyone who was able to celebrate with us! We had people join us from Germany, Virginia, Minnesota, and Illinois as well as people from the Seattle area. It was so good to catch up with everyone that I haven't seen in a while and I'm so grateful that I got that time!
Truthfully, the food was probably one of the best parts of our wedding, you know, besides getting married. We had delicious passed appetizers (grilled cheese, deviled eggs, meats and cheeses) and hosted a bar with something for everyone. We decided to host a selection of beer, wine, cider and a Kentucky Mule as our signature drink, which was a huge hit. As the night went on, sliders and fries for dinner and followed those up with the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream truck and pies from A la Mode Pies.
Now that the wedding has come and passed, I have my tips & tricks and thinks I learned from our big day.
Tips & Tricks
Things I've learned
I'd love to hear about what you learned from your own wedding. Share your tips & tricks in the comments!
Share our style? Check out our vendors:
Venue: Sole Repair
Pie: A la Mode (Spiced Apple, Marionberry & Hazelnut, White Chocolate Banana Cream, Chocolate Caramel Pecan )
Ice cream: Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream truck
Photographer: Tammy Dahlquist
Flowers: Alli Kolick and Co.
Hotel: Hotel Sorrento, Silver Cloud Inn Broadway
Get the bridal look
Dress: Nancy Frost
Skin: Pür Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Powder - Blush Medium; 4-in-1 Liquid Foundation - Blush Medium
Eye shadow: Smashbox Photo Op Eyeshadow Trio - Sepia
Eye primer: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer
Eye liner: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil - Perversion
Mascara: Maybelline Volum' Express Colassal Waterproof Mascara - Classic Black
Lipstick: Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm - Red Dahlia
Rings: Joseph's Jewelry
Earrings: Joseph's Jewelry
Shoes: The Frye Company - Regina Ballet Flat
Get the grooms look
Suit: Brooks Brothers Regent Fit - Navy
Tie: Brooks Brothers
Rings: Joseph's Jewelers
Shoes: Allen Edmonds