Tag Archives: Christmas

Part III – The Natives – MY Scottish Journey

I’m pretty sure group tours are a great way to see and learn about your trip. Our family, however, have never taken a group tour or preplanned tour (The Great Wall of China was with a group but no one spoke english so it was just a magnificent guided walk). We love to get into the flow of everyday life among the people who live there.

Our son and his wife have a lovely flat. When you stand in front of the building, and look to the end of the street, you have lovely view of Arthur’s Seat. It’s a hill that pops up out of no where. A lovely back drop to streets lined with what we, from the US, may call brownstones or apartment buildings.

Arthur’s Seat in the background – Edinburgh, Scotland

I have to say that I was impressed with their flat and the simplicity of appliances and such. While the bathroom was narrow, to say the least, it was practical. You can even brush your teeth while sitting on the toilet. But the most practical was the hot water heater for the shower. Just a box that held the shower head and heated the water instantly as you needed it. I’ve heard of that type of hot water heater in the states by builder friends but for some reason they don’t seem to have taken off. I like them.

The ceilings were super high, it was an old building. The windows are old but also very high. The kitchen was small – my small kitchen at home was bigger – theirs is more practical. No dishwasher but a washing machine under the counter! Tiny, but held a lot of laundry and washed them well! The radiators in each room proved to be excellent dryers in the winter months.

The refrigerator is the what we may call a dorm fridge. Also under the counter, and that meant shopping fresh every other day or even every day. So “old world” to our spoiled, busy world. So quaint.

We had a great mattress plopped on the living room floor each night. Warm and comfy right next to the fresh Christmas Tree.

In the winter, because they are quite a bit further north than we are at home, the daylight begins at about 8:34 and ends at about 3:34! Say what? Short days and that threw us off kilter a bit. Had to get moving a bit faster than I like in order to see things in the daylight!

Our daughter made us fresh coffee each morning with toast or porridge. It was wonderful to be waited on.

Our first day…..

We are not use to city life. We live in a small country town and there is little to no public transportation. So out the door we were hustled and walked at a fast pace to the nearest bus stop. We felt old. My husband has a knee that can act up and both of us have lungs that wish hills didn’t exist. But onward we went.

We arrived shortly to Princes Street near Waverly Station ( the train station when we first arrived to Edinburgh) where the festivities began. The Christmas Market! But wait! I heard my name, “Mom”.

My son pointed and there was a young man holding a Barn Owl. I looked at my son and said, “Can I”?, like a child in a petting zoo.

Here is the result……

Gladstone the Owl

Gladstone and Me

Okay, my trip was done, I could go home fulfilled. I held an owl and learned all kinds of info about them. Pinch me.

The Christmas Market was wonderful. Here is why:

  • Vendors of all kinds form everywhere
  • smell of food cooking…….
  • happy people all around
  • amusement rides all with the backdrop of a Castle
  • did I mention the people?

Let me tell you about the people. It was so crowded at the market and got even more crowded as Christmas approached. BUT, unlike America, we encountered not one rude person. Smiles everywhere. No pushing. No anger. No bad looks.

I thought it was because it was the whole Christmas outdoor market thing…. but wherever we went in Scotland the people were the same. Just plain nice. All the time. 

I fell deeply in love with Scotland that day.

Here are a few random images of the beginning of our trip…….


I have to say that from the start, the people impressed me. I confess that I had a “picture” of the Scots in my head – loud, rowdy, etc. And I have to say we never encountered a single one as I had preconceived. A wonderful happy folk.

Tell next time…..


Cate B





O Christmas Tree – Around The Burg

My last Christmas in New Jersey was momentous. My daughter-in-law and my youngest grandson took me to a Christmas Tree Farm. It was magical in so many ways. That day was cold and cloudy and the back drop of the farm was woods and wooden fences. They raised pigs there. We looked in on the full grown sows and made our way over to a small enclosed area that housed the piglets for everyone to see and take photos of and with.

Of course I stepped right in with my grandson and I grabbed a piglet and cuddled him and oooed and ahhhed in his precious face. He began to wiggle and then squeal so loud I had to put him down.  What fun we had that day.

Now, eight years later, in The Middle, we decided to venture out with our youngest granddaughter to a Christmas Tree Farm in the town of Knob Noster, Missouri.

While the back drop was more open farmland with wooded areas here and there, it was still magical. We were accompanied by the melody of a mule braying. Off we went with a saw in my husbands hand and a metal cart for carrying the tree back to the car.

Well, these trees were pretty but they were the kind that are bush-like. What I mean by that is you cannot see any branches or trunk. Just thick green needles. I was taller than most of them. For the life of me I could not figure out how I was to hang lights and ornaments on the hobbit trees.

I am old fashioned and nostalgic when it comes to Christmas. I love trees that look like I made them. We hang ornaments of all kinds from the years we’ve been a family. A mixture of home-made to old memories to modern eclectic. It comforts me. These hobbit trees just wouldn’t work for me.

Now the magic…. there, in the very last row of hobbit trees, I see it! A six foot scraggly fir-type tree with trunk visible and branches sticking out in every direction. A tree that started out with great posture and then went left then right then up then over as if realizing there was a whole world out there to discover!

A tree with a kindred-spirit to me.

The saw came out, and as our granddaughter watched in wonder, down came the tree and we plopped her on the cart.

As we were pulling her back to the car the tears came. I missed my kids from the east and the times we spent together. Such good memories. And now the new memories with another little one. I smiled through my tears and narrated to our girl  on the art of setting up a tree and decorating.

We belted Lu into her seat and unzipped the back window of The Jeep. Yes, I said Jeep. Wrangler. Soft top. Where does a jeep owner put a tree? I’ll tell you where…. trunk between the front seats and body next to granddaughter and top out the back window, that’s where! Off we went!

At home we sipped on Christmas Milk (aka Egg Nog – don’t tell Lu what the real name is or she will never drink it again) while we hung lights and ornaments accompanied by Christmas songs. 

Here’s to new memories and journeys and traditions! Here’s to not staying stuck in the same old- same old but moving forward while cherishing the past memories that shape us into adventurers.


Cate B


There is a sweetness in the air this time of year.  No, it’s not all the sugar that we use in baking all those yummy Christmas cookies and Holiday treats.  I don’t know, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside and can sense the sweetness that accompanies that.

Too sappy?  As I sat down to write a post, list of ideas before me, I decided to change direction.  I decided to sit a moment and just look into my heart and see how I feel.

As a “church goer” for many years, “feelings” seem to be put on the back burner by some.  I have actually heard many a sermon instructing Christians that feelings are not something to base your actions on.  Say, “I believe”, rather than, “I feel”.

Say what???  Being a person that feels the presence of God and feels how others are doing, etc., that just goes against who I am.  I could study the Bible till the cows come home and walk away with very little memorizing of scripture but my heart is full of it’s meaning.

I love that about me.  I love that others are more theological and logical.  After all, isn’t God that way?  BOTH ways?  How can I be who I am not?

I tried that growing up.  A right-brained child in a left brained house – so to speak.  We were given a lot of creative things to do but had to create a certain way.  Explain that to the God who created armadillos or stripped horses – aka zebras.

I’m being silly in some ways.  But it is just fine and dandy to use your emotions. They are real.  So, back to my opening line…..

I feel a sweetness in the air today.  A cozy comfy feeling and I love it.  Could be Christmas or Holiday Season or just the love of Holy Spirit surrounding me.

Can you feel it?  Here’s a fun one for you…..


Cate B


You Are Loved – You are a Gift

Good Morning Dear Readers.  Here we are, the 14th of December 2015.  This time of year can be so “busy” and “hectic”…….

Take the time to remember Jesus.  He is always with us.  He wants your love and your time……

May this season be full of peace and joy and truth for you all.  You are Loved…… You are a gift…….


Cate B

also posted on Church Set Free

Season of Hope

The times we are living in can be quite frightening.  The news stations alone are terrifying some days.

Now that it’s the Christmas Season, or Holiday Season, a lot of people out there get melancholy or even deeply depressed.  Some long for the old days or dwell on hard times that have hit them during this season.  Some have fallen into deep crevasses and can’t find their way out.

Let us be aware of those around us.  There is more to Christmas than shopping and decorating.  There are hearts all around us that need a word or words.  That need hugs.  That need love and attention.  That need true Hope.

May you be a Hope Bringer.  May you bring the rope to pull them out of their pit.

Remember where you came from and help others to get to their dreams and purpose.

Enjoy! God’s blessings upon you all.

Cate B

Blogging Bliss

It is the day before Christmas, here, in The Middle.  The beauty of difference is that we can all celebrate, or not celebrate, our holidays as we please.

Our family celebrates Christmas.  The true meaning of celebrating the birth of Christ is a big deal to us.  Also, I was raised in Christmas.  Christ may not have been the center, he appeared here and there in songs and cards and such, but the Spirit of Christmas was there.

To me, the Spirit of Christmas is Hope, Love and Giving.  You can feel it in the air in our country.  There are sad times for so many but songs of Hope are everywhere and this is when you hear stories of loving, giving people.  I long to have a day when most of our news stations report, at least equally, on good stories of love and hope and giving.  They could do it.  It would be a challenge to them, but the stories are out there.

Here, on wordpress.com, there stories of all kinds.  People share their hearts and talents and minds.  I want to thank my WordPress followers and readers for making my writing more enjoyable.

How, you say?  You encourage me by viewing my posts and hitting that like button.  Some of you have become good friends.  So much that I know if we were to find ourselves in each others town or country we could meet for coffee and some of you FOOD and hugs.

All this to say Thank you, dear Friends!  You are encouraging and yes, we are all on this writing journey together!

I pray for you all to find your dreams and live them this season and the coming years.  I pray your writing journey to be fulfilling, not just to you, but to many.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year to you all.


cate b


O Christmas Tree

I have a Christmas Tree story.  Many years ago, when the kids were quite young, we lived in a mountain town in California.  The town and outlying neighborhoods rested at about 3500 feet in elevation.  We were in a valley, of sorts, and the higher peaks went up to about 6,000 to 8,000 feet.  They say the elusive California Condor nested up in the higher heights.  I never saw one while we lived there, but a friend of mine did.

Back to the Christmas tree.  A family we knew asked our family to join them in cutting down our Christmas trees.  The man’s parents owned a cabin and land higher up the mountain and we could go up and each get a free Christmas tree – and a very fresh one at that.  Of course we said yes!

Our family piled into our gigantic four-wheel drive, older model, Chevy Blazer and their family into their four wheel drive pick up truck.

It had been snowing in the higher elevations -really snowing.  When we got to the road, that led us to the cabin, the man got out and unchained the gate.  The snow was deep.  We both set our vehicles into four wheel drive and up we went.  Our friends truck slid into a rather deep ditch.  Thankfully, we did not.

We tried pulling them out, etc., but realized he was very stuck and we all piled into our vehicle.  He assured us his dad could help him get the truck out the next day – and they did.

Here we were in a real live Winter Wonderland.  Kids were running around and playing in the snow.  Our friend was putting on some belts and such and wielding a hand saw.  I was wondering which trees do we pick?  All seemed very tall and I couldn’t find those cute ones on ground level.

With those thoughts running through my head I turned, and saw our friend halfway up a very tall pine tree.  He had his belt around the trunk and off he went – much like a phone repair man on a telephone pole.  Boy did he go high!  I had to ask his wife what the heck he was doing!?!  She calmly, and proudly, told me that he does this every year.  He saws the top of the pine off and there you have a beautiful tree.

I was wrapping my mind around that one, when I heard a cry and a tree came tumbling down from the sky.  He then proceeded to climb another tree for ours.  Amazing.  I had no idea that someone actually did that.

Here is a pic (not mine) of one climbing a tree:

Our experience had thicker forested area and branches all the way up.

Our experience had thicker forested area and branches all the way up.

Here is my previous experience, and what I saw in my head – commercial Christmas Tree Farm:

commercial tree farm

commercial tree farm

Well, we strapped the trees on top of our vehicle and loaded two families (total of seven children) into the vehicle and down the mountain we went.  We loved it.

Now, for the best part.  That tree was so fresh, and by fresh it was FULL OF OOZING SAP, that when we placed it into the metal tree stand, well, it flattened the stand.  Totally.  The legs rendered useless.  So, we had to build a stand out of wood, like an X.

We decorated it and kept wiping the sap off of our hands.  It was beautiful and perfect and fresh.

One evening, as we were finishing our dinner, a friend came by, as he often did.  He made himself comfortable on the couch right next to our beautiful, ever so fresh, Christmas tree.

That was when we heard a creeeeeek, and our friend say, “Oh no!”

We looked, and there was Brian, buried under our ever so fresh Christmas tree!  It was so heavy from the sap that it could not stand on it’s own.  I had visions of us going to the lot down the street and buying a not so fresh tree to replace this one.

No worries, we dug out Brian and he went to his truck and screwed an eyelet in the wall and we tied the tree to the wall.  Yes we did!

That experience has left us with a wonderful memory of a Christmas past.

The things we do…….. (not my pic)


Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas!


cate b