Awa’ tae Scootlund!

Well, today one of my best friends, Sarah, is heading away to Scotland for a five year adventure! She’s going to school in Glasgow to become a vet, and I couldn’t be more excited for her!

Good luck and have fun, Sarah!

It’s going to be so weird not having her around to hang out with, talk to, or even text. Thank goodness for modern conveniences like technology! ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, to celebrate her last week at home, on Sunday night I (along with my parents) hosted a dinner party for her and her mom. I wanted to make it themed, so while our dining room looks nothing like a pub, I made traditional Scottish (or at the very least British) dishes and had Celtic music playing in the background.

For the main course, I made Shepherd’s Pie. It had a giant dome of potatoes on top, and looked and smelled fantastic, so it was really fun to present. (It also tasted really good, and I’m planning on posting the recipe sometime in the future!)


It got rave reviews from everyone, which made me so happy.

Throughout dinner we went through almost two bottles of wine between the five of us, and before, during, and after the pie was served, we all sat around talking for a long time. It was very laid back – exactly what I wanted.

For dessert, I decided on Oatmeal Gingerbread, which I found after searching Google for a long time for traditional Scottish desserts. (I know some of you are Scottish/British – if this isn’t a traditional dessert, don’t tell me! I choose to be ignorant to that fact. ๐Ÿ™‚ )


The cake (which I baked a few hours before the party) ended up being pretty dry. To combat that, I made a cinnamon syrup. Holy yum. I think I could bathe in that stuff. If you all want me to, I can post those recipes, too?

I was so pleased with the way the meal turned out. Everyone else seemed to be, too. My mom (who is a pretty tough critic, as she doesn’t like anything “out of the ordinary”, even said it was my best meal ever! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ


After dinner we went to the living room and hung out, talking, for a little while before I couldn’t stand it any longer – I had to give Sarah her gift!

For a long time, I was trying to figure out what to get her. Nothing seemed “just right”, and I didn’t want to just buy something that she couldn’t use. I also had to consider whether or not I intended for her to take the gift with her, leave it here, etc.

I was thinking about how Hogwarts is probably in Scotland, and how they shot a lot of the HP movie scenes there, when it came to me: I’d make her a School Survival Kit! I decided to mix practical things for Scotland in with fun Hogwarts-y things to make a good combination of the two. I also just knew I had to set it up in a trunk, because hello, that’s what the students use to carry their things to Hogwarts!

I think it was on that very same day that I found a perfect trunk at HomeGoods. (I liked it so much, I even bought one for myself! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) It took me just a few days to figure out the rest of what I wanted to put in there…

From left to right, clockwise (click on the picture to enlarge!):


  • Ty-phoo tea (World Market)
  • Chocolate bars wrapped in “In case of dementor attack, OPEN IMMEDIATELY” instructions (I made the wrapper myself)
  • A set of skeleton keys, which looked awesome and I figure can be used as a Christmas ornament, if nothing else (World Market)
  • A Top 10 Scotland book (Barnes & Noble)
  • A Marauder’s Map-like map of Glasgow (homemade – see below!)
  • A pack of tissues (World Market), and
  • A CD of Scottish/Gaelic tunes in a case decorated with Scotland’s flag.

I also included some homemade Scottish shortbread cookies! I’ll post the recipe (it’s not mine) within a week or so.

IMG_1987And finally, a stuffed animal snowy owl, because every student needs an owl, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

photo-3I also printed out a few of (in my opinion) the best and most inspiration quotes from the HP books.

IMG_1993I’m going to try not to get too detail-y in this post, just because I’m not sure how interested in all of this you all are, but to make it look really cool and Harry Potter-esque, I dyed the paper I used for the quotes and the Marauder’s map using the “coffee technique“:

  1. Print out whatever it is you want to use on a regular sheet of paper – picture, words, etc.
  2. Crinkle it up (this is optional, but makes everything look older), and then flatten it back out as best as possible.
  3. Preheat oven to the lowest it can go – mine was 200*F.
  4. Place paper (one 8.5×11-inch sheet at a time) in a rimmed cookie sheet.
  5. Pour over 1/4 cup HOT coffee, and swirl it around so it coats the whole paper.
  6. Sprinkle over some instant coffee grounds.
  7. Allow this to sit for about 3 minutes, but no more than 5.
  8. Sop up all the liquid using paper towels and scrape off the coffee grounds.
  9. Place the cookie sheet and paper into the oven, and bake for about 5-8 minutes, or until the edges of the paper begin to curl. You’ll want to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn!
  10. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet.

This technique is so great because the paper is actually pretty flexible after all of that – perfect for folding into a map!

To make the Marauder’s Map, I followed THIS guide. The only difference was that I didn’t use a map of Hogwarts; I used a map of the streets of Glasgow, which I printed in gray scale. I glued her school seal on the front to make it more appropriate, and voila!



IMG_1996I love how it turned out!

So that, in a nutshell, was my going away/dinner party for Sarah. I hope that she has a safe journey and the most amazing time in Scotland. Hopefully I’ll be around to see her within the year! ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_2004Thanks for reading everyone! Have a GREAT Friday!


  1. Thanks Olivia! Once again, I absolutely loved everything you did! I’m lucky to have a friend like you!

    1. I’m so lucky to have you as a friend, too!

  2. How do you keep the ink on the paper from bleeding when you pour the coffee on it? That project sounds SO COOL and I want to try it!

    1. I was really worried about that, actually. I just used a normal ink printer, but it worked out. Maybe the key was spreading the coffee out so it didn’t pool? It did change the color a bit (it made the gray look more blue), but other than that, I miraculously didn’t have any problems!
      Thanks! I hope you do! I was trying to figure out a way to work something like that into a classroom… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. YOU are such a sweetie! Sounds yummy and what a wonderful gift, so clever!

    1. Aw, thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Awww you’re such a sweet friend!

    1. Thanks, Jessie. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Love these gifts!! Especially the adorable owl ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Isn’t it cute? Everything is better with a stuffed animal. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Omigosh! You’re seriously such an amazing friend, and I love all the things you tossed in that survival package – especially the little owl ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck to your friend in her studies! Scotland sounds like it would be an amazing place to visit.

    1. Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚
      I’ve been wanting to visit it for forever, and now I have a good excuse!

  7. I love shepherd’s pie ๐Ÿ™‚ What a lovely going away present! You’re so creative!

    1. Me too! I could eat it on a weekly basis! And thanks!

  8. Wow, I am so impressed by this gift! Everything in that box is amazing and you obviously spent a lot of time and effort to make it super special ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m a Harry Potter fanatic, too (in fact, it’s about time I reread the series again…)- and yes, you should totally post those recipes!
    Have a good weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks! I’m always so happy to of another fellow HP fanatic. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thank you, I hope you’re having a good one, too!

  9. What an awesome gift basket! You are seriously so thoughtful. Those dementor chocolate bar wrappers are awesome- I pinned that on pinterest awhile back (sigh… they just have everything!).

    I bet you are really going to miss Sarah but you certainly sent her off with some great things.

    1. Thanks! Pinterest really is amazing. That’s where I found those dementor wrappers, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Wow you are so creative Olivia! The meal looks amazing and Sarah’s gift is out of this world! I know my son would adore that trunk and all its goodies. Thank you so much for sharing the tips on how you made the Marauder’s map. I might try and have a go at making one for his birthday as he loves maps! (I could do one of Bath for him (where we live))
    I wish your friend a safe journey to Scotland. Glasgow is such a ‘happening’ city. Lots going on there so I’m sure she’ll have great fun exploring it x

    1. Thank you! I think it was on that same site I used to make the map that she mentions she used them as invitations to a birthday party. How cool! But yes, one of Bath would be great for your son!
      It’s good to hear that about Glasgow. I’m so looking forward to visiting! Let me know if you have any tips or pointers. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Wow, you are a fabulous friend. What an awesome gift and how very creative. The dinner party sounds like it went swimmingly too. You did a fantastic job with everything, and I think Sarah leaving is the perfect reason to plan a trip to Scotland.
    I can’t wait for the shortbread cookie recipe. I love shortbread. Mmmm.

    1. Aw, thank you. The cookie recipe is going to be up tomorrow!

  12. […] those of you keeping track, Sarah is safely in Scotland and seems to be enjoying it so far. I haven’t had a chance to talk with her too in depth yet, […]

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