Going from three to four!

Our home has now grown by two feet  four lovely paws!!



So very happy to say we have welcomed our 1st  furry child: Miss Harley Harkins.



Harley is a Border Terrier, who has a particular love of all things squeaky and furry and tickles to her tummy. She was a surprise to Aedan, who although been pining for a wee dog of his own for years, did not realize that summer of 2014 was going to be the year of the Dog ;)

I had planned on added a furry pal to our family for a while, but was just waiting for the right time. Summer looked to be best time for us especially with School out and me able to take a good chunk of July off for vacation. House training in the colder months does not appeal to me and my sub tropic blood.



Aedan's response to finding a four legged pal in his home, was absolutely adorable, I dare to mentioned there was a few happy tears shed by our little guy and maybe even his parents.

We are all equally smitten. She is so very sweet, full of character and wonderfully adorable. I claim that Harley must be the cutest and smartest puppy in the known worlds, but I am above all, bias.



While she is just completely irresistible, it has been a bit of work on our end.. those periodic night time trips to the yard does eventually take it's toll. It is like having a baby again!


But with a face like this,  who needs sleep er?


Looking for Nessie

Besides my love DIY and gardening, another great love of my mine is traveling, especially in Scotland.



How could I not? Scotland is absolutely enthralling and captivating. It is hand to heart possibly my favourite place in the world. Whenever we can, Stephen and I like to set down tools and take a sneaky weekend away.

Now that my university course has completed for the semester , and one of my major work projects has been put on hiatus, it is time to get out and get some overdue fresh Scottish Air!

We always like to get a weekend away once every season, it is so lovely to see seasonal changes in the landscape, it is like seeing a familiar painting yet the colour scheme has been thoughtful altered. We have our usual haunts such as the Trossachs National Park, but every now and then we like to venture off to other unexplored areas, so for this Spring 2014 we ventured to the Northern Scottish Highlands to the lovely city of Inverness and the Loch Ness Area.




Our little man Aedan, has such a love affair with animals, he is glued to the Animal Planet channel! This of course goes beyond a joke as that is all we watch now in the Harkins Residence. So we thought what better way to indulge his love of all things furry, scaly and feathery than take him to see Scotland's very own Nessie.

Our Spring Highlands Fling 2014

We stayed at the Drummossie Hotel. Originally we aimed for a more budget option, however the difference between a 4 star hotel and a 2 star was £40 for the weekend. As you can imagine we opted for 4 star. The hotel was lovely and in a good location for the surrounding attractions.

Nairn **

It took us about 3.5 hrs drive to get to Inverness. Once we disposed our items at the hotel, it was about 6pm. With daylight to burn, we took a quick drive to Nairn.



Nairn was lovely. A largish town outside Inverness. We immediately found ourselves at the beach.


And were greeted by a statue of a Fisherman's wife. Surprise, Surprise. She was taller than me.(not hard no doubt!) In fact she was Stephen's height. I am the only person who thought, people "back in the day" suppose to be smaller than they are today? Either that or I am just abnormally short. (Possibly the latter than the former)

Regardless, Nairn was well.. nice. The beach was lovely if not a bit cold.  Took a few snap shots and we were on way hunting for some grub.

Battle of Culloden ******

Next morning, the first "attraction" on our to do list was the Site Battle of Culloden and visitor centre.


This was probably the best site we went on in our mini trip away. It was poignant, touching, and seeping in historical intrigue.


The vistior centre was not very expensive- £11.00 per adult and £8.50 for children older than 6 years of age. The centre chronicles the events of the battle of Culloden which actually occurred 246 years ago from yesterday.

"On 16 April 1746 the last battle to be fought on British soil took less than an hour to reach its bloody conclusion here on what is now know as Culloden Moor. It was not, as often portrayed, a battle between the Scots and the English: large numbers of Scots fought on the Government side while the Jacobite army included French units and some English Jacobites. Rather it was the last chapter in a sporadic civil war for succession to the throne that had been under way since 1688" - Undiscovered Scotland

The centre was very interactive and ran a 360 film which documented the battle events, Live actors displayed to visitors the fighting techniques, weapons and garments of the Scottish warriors and Government warriors respectively.

We even learned how to wear a plaid! As best demonstrated by little Harkins: Aedan :)




Moma Harkins has got that technique down pat! In fact don't be surprised if next time we go to America, I have the whole family fully dressed in Old Scots attire. I did ask the guide what the Tartan colors were for the surname Rodriguez (my maiden name) ... I think his reply was red, yellow and random images of tacos. HAHA! I would buy that!



Outside of the Museum was the actual Grounds of Culloden. I found it rather ironic that our tour guide was English.. especially considering the history. Nevertheless, he was great, really information and knowledgable, I could just see my son absorbing the information.  



There really was much more areas to cover, I think I could write one post specifically on the site. We absolutely enjoyed it and would recommend it to any visitors visiting Scotland. 

Loch Ness

Outside of the City of Inverness lies Loch Ness. 


One fascinating fact about Loch Ness, is it's depth.  It is so deep that  the world population can easily be submerged within it's murky waters... Think about that. The current estimates of the population is 7 BILLION people. If each person was submerged horizontally one on top of another, the water could happily cover all  inhabitants. Well. That is my mind successfully blown. While it is  not the deepest freshwater lake it still is rather impressive. 

I once read that the Scottish Lochs are as deep as their mountains are high.  That looks to be right. In those depths no doubt Nessie was awaiting us!




Loch Ness has a privately owned Attraction Centre called  Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, and while were were unable to take pictures I thought it was really cool, a bit outdate but cool nevertheless. Aedan really enjoyed it and I would also recommend it to visitors.


One thing I would always advise is while Vistior Centres are great, really exploring the towns and have a nice walk about it the true way to really get to gripes with the "meat and potatoes" of a town or location.

The Scottish country side naturally lend's itself to day trippers and weekend adventurers on the look out for unexplored areas.

Urquhart Castle ****

On the shores of Loch Ness is Urquhart Castle Ruins. Historic Scotland looks to have built a new visitor centre and is well worth a visit. Make sure to catch the quick 15 minutes film!  


Time really flew on our visit, we arrived around 2pm and in no time at all it was dinner time and the place was shutting.

I became a bit snap happy, but there was so much material to work with!


















Even with just using my iPhone, I got some real gems there, I hope to get some of the printed for the house. Unfortunately all that snapping and still no Nessie Sighting!

Highland Wildlife Park **

In the blink of an eye, Sunday rolled in and our weekend was almost over. On our way back home we made a pit stop at the Highland Wildlife Park.


The Park is owned and run by the Edinburgh Zoo but I have to be honest... an Edinburgh Zoo it is not. It was ok, but my recommendation would be to give it a miss and instead visit Edinburgh Zoo.


It is a much smaller park in term of animals, yet Aedan did enjoy himself and we did check out some really active Amur Tigers!






On the Road Home   

After the Zoo, we made the final stretch back to the house, not of course without passing the new Kelpies statues


The Kelpies are these simply amazing and colossal 100 ft Horse Head Statues located on the Forth and Clyde Canal in Falkirk.




At the time of passing the park was still in development and not open to visitors, yet even the view from the highway really knock our socks off. I smell a new Scottish Icon coming on, right of course after Nessie ;)

We really enjoyed our quick and informative weekend away to Inverness. We would love to take another trip sometime this year and hopefully this year we can get a snap of the ever elusive Nessie!

Psst: all DIY & For the Home posts has since migrated to: 

theoverhaul.blogspot.com 



Can't wait to see you soon ;) 

Ch Ch Ch Changes...

Hey all!

You will no doubt see a bit of changes in my blog space in the week upcoming weeks. Nothing too major,  just a bit of blog migration.


Image the fish above is my blog  and the empty fish bowl was a new domain name/blog which is in fact:

www.theoverhaul.co.uk

I have waited  few years for that blogger domain and low and behold one faithful day it shows to be free. Woo Hoo. I am currently migrating all my post to that domain. Yet for reference all my original posts can still be viewed on here, nevertheless all new DIY/Gardening misadventures will be found  www.theoverhaul.co.uk

So what will happen with this blog?

jileenharkins.blogspot.com

A bit of rebranding me thinks to: An American, A Broad.... (that is me in a nutshell lol )I intend to use this site as our family and our traveling blog. I had  thought a while about the division and I believe it would really work well for our family. We really enjoy a bit traveling and exploring, we look forward to sharing those misadventures

Blog Followers and Google +

If you do follow our blog and would like to continue reading all the craziness please subscribe  to our new blog

Thanks for all your support over the last few years and hope to see you on our new dual sites. 

Tiny House Movement

With our Spring cleaning around the corner, hand to heart our home is in a state of pure discombobulation.

Honestly how do we gather so many unnecessary and needless things? I am by no means a minimalist but I tell, it is starting to look appealing.

Every year after we do a big house sweep, I honestly feel as though the house just lets out a sigh of relief.

Since we started culling our clothes to put into our new wardrobes, it has really catapult our decluttering marathon. I think we are at the "it is going to get worse before it gets better" phase, don't you just love that phase? (Please reread that line with unreserved sarcasm)

Then the thought hit me... Our current home is pretty small by today's standard and:

didn't we want to double our space by purchasing a new home?Thus amassing more clutter?!

I will need to note this brand new epiphany on our Pro vs Con to move to not move list. 

Downsizing is the new Supersizing 

A trend to downsize is apparently taking hold of many countries such as America, Canada, Australia. The tiny house movement is a movement which finds perfectly sane people who shed off all excesses and simplify their lifestyle by creating a home which is between 150 to 500 square feet in size.



I think a world that is indeed full of excessiveness and which gears itself to a "super size" mentality is very much in need of a movement such as this.  Limiting your house space, not only is friendly to your wallet and kinder to the environment but I bet it really identifies and helps define the true happiness of life.. which I guess in a nut shell is less about "stuff" and more about togetherness.

A fantastic resource I have found  on Tiny Houses is: TinyLife.com. Give it a read when  you can :)



So less stuff + small cosy spaces = happiness?  I think there might be much truth to this.


Tiny but perfectly formed

Tiny these houses may be but they are pretty big on aesthetic! I think they are absolute gems of a property, even more so then their larger counterparts. Living in such a small space really breeds creativity and thoughtful planning. 



Tiny House Layout

A really good example of a tiny house and it's layout was found via google+








 Granted I think she might be bigger than some other tiny homes  but isn't she just beautiful?


Of course each house has it's own layout and style as seen below:










 There is no doubt  something so poetically cathartic about cutting those ties with the excess items in one's life. It sounds crazy but I bet it is very cleansing and freeing. I told Stephen as opposed to buying a newer larger property, lets buy some land and build us a small house. His response? " Bring it on... but I am keeping my LED 3D TV".

Not really the answer I was looking for, but one I could work with.  Can we say Solar Panels? lol

Psst: all DIY & For the Home posts has since migrated to: 

theoverhaul.blogspot.com 

Can't wait to see you soon ;)