How to eat a scone

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This is serious business. It might sound trivial, but David Cameron would agree with me (on this at least). Eating a scone is not just a matter of picking up a crumbly bun and cavalierly slathering on jam and cream. Oh, no, no, no! There is a method! A method based on … geography. Whaaa?

Don’t worry, in 99.999% of the world’s countries, nobody will care how you eat your scone. Phew! But, and this is crucial, pay close attention if you find yourself in Devon and/or Cornwall. This is what you do:

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When in Cornwall, put the jam on first and then the cream (see above left). In Devon, the cream goes first and then the jam (see above right).

It might sound silly, but a Devonian and Cornish person will know just by looking at you (okay maybe not quite) which way you “butter your bread” (aka cream and jam your scone). There is a never-ending scone war about which way is better. Yes, I said scone war.

What a wonderful thing to argue about! I wish all wars in the world were only fought in jam and cream. What a peaceful, delicious place it would be.

Here’s one last parting shot of our delicious cream tea in Devon:

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——

I’m currently writing about this whilst sitting in an Airbnb flat in Split, Croatia. Very far from scone wars country. Matt and I have officially left the UK as UK residents (sob!) and are on our way back to the states (yea!) in a little over a week. We just had to make sure to get some Croatian sun first before we moved from one rainy place to another.

Cath and I will no longer be ‘twins blogging an ocean apart’ but ‘twins blogging a country apart’ — that’s a bit closer, right?


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The KonMari Method: My Closet

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After visiting Lar in Scotland last month, I was so impressed with how organized and spacious her 550 square foot flat felt. It’s all because of her devotion to Marie Kondo’s “life changing tidying-up” techniques. Read Lar’s original KonMari post if you’re unfamiliar with the concept. So I decided it was high time for me to jump on the tidying-up bandwagon and get started with the hardest category (for me, at least): clothes.

I’m totally embarrassed to show these before photos, but without them, you wouldn’t get the full “life changing” feel. So, here you go. My “closet” before:

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My house was built in 1947 and has teeny, tiny closets by 2015 standards. Troy uses the small closet in the master bedroom and I use the second bedroom as my closet. I always imagined getting built-ins one day, but not anytime soon. So my closet consisted of two Ikea clothing racks, a Target cube storage unit and piles of shoes. Yes. I was ashamed of my closet.

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So I spent one Sunday sorting through all of my clothes category by category and deciding which pieces “sparked joy” and were worth keeping. Marie Kondo believes that you have to sort through similar items all at once. So that means going through every item of clothing in your house – winter/summer clothes, coats, pjs – everything. It was pretty overwhelming to see exactly how many tops, pants, bags, scarves, jewelry, shoes etc. I had.

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It took at least five hours: sorting everything, deciding what to keep, bagging up everything to give away, deciding what to fold and hang, folding almost everything (another Marie Kondo technique), reorganizing, and putting everything away. I gave away over nine trash bags full of clothes, shoes and jewelry to Second Life, my local thrift store. And after all of that, this is what I have left:

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The photo above includes all of my clothes (minus jackets and coats), shoes, and scarves that I currently own and it feels amazing! Everything except some blouses and four dresses are folded KonMari style:

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Including my socks and underwear. Yep. Underwear gets folded.

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The fascinator is the only hat I kept and out of 20+ scarves, I only kept three:

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Apart from five rings and three bangles, this board contains all of my jewelry:

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And these are the bags that I kept:

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Part of me can’t believe I gave away so much and the other part of me can’t believe I kept so much stuff for so long. It’s been a week since I’ve done my big clean-out and I still feel great about it. The only items I’m missing are a good black cardigan (the one I owned got a lot of use but it didn’t spark joy because it was shapeless and worn-looking), another pair of jeans (I only kept one pair!), and a winter coat.

The best part was that I didn’t buy any new organizational items. I used all the furniture I already have. Yes, someday I would like to own a proper dresser, but I’m fine spending my time saving up for something I really like. Until then, the Target cube unit will do just fine.

If you want more KonMari inspiration, read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, peruse Lar’s KonMari purse post and follow my friend’s KonMari-devoted Instagram account. Also Goop has a pretty great KonMari folding guide complete with videos.

Sorting through my clothes is only the beginning. I’d like to spend one to two weekends a month tackling different categories. I think books are up next followed by all of my papers. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!


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Agatha Christie’s house

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It all started with an obsession for watching (rather than reading — oi!) Poirot. I find it soothing – a dapper man with slight OCD solving crimes with his little grey cells. I’ve only actually read one or two Agatha Christie novels, but I really do think that sometimes that books find you. And that’s what happened at Leakey’s (aka the most amazing bookstore in the world!). Agatha Christie’s autobiography fell into my lap.

I just finished reading it when we were down in Cornwall and Devon and guess who spent most of her life in Devon? My new friend, Agatha! Her childhood home in Torquay no longer exists, but one of her favourite houses still stands and is open as a museum. So welcome to beautiful Greenway!

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The most amazing thing about this house museum, is that all the furniture and knick-knacks in it are the Christie’s. Agatha and her second husband Max would holiday here and her daughter Rosalind and her husband Anthony lived here until 2004 and 2005 respectively. And all was how they left it:

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Here’s the cozy sitting room:

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My favourite bit was getting to sit at Agatha’s Steinway! She loved, loved, loved music and really wanted to be a be a concert pianist and singer. She even composed a few waltzes before becoming one of the most prolific and widely read authors in the world:

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Oh and her kitchen is dreamy:

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Here’s a sneaky peak into her bedroom:

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She loved her fur coats:

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Though she didn’t actually write at Greenway, she did base one of her novels here. The murder in Dead Man’s Folly happens in the boathouse just by the river. Doesn’t look very sinister does it?

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I love books and I love house museums, so this is pretty much the perfect place in the world to me. And I highly recommend Agatha’s autobiography even if you aren’t a Poirot fan. She’s a fantastic lady and invites you into her fascinating world is such a friendly way. Ms. Marple would totally approve.


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Travel guide: what to do in Cornwall

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1) Stay in a small fishing village. Might I recommend Mousehole?

2) Visit St. Michael’s Mount. It’s like Mont Saint-Michel smaller, Cornish cousin. If you aren’t familiar with either, they are both tidal islands with lovely castles perched on top.

3)Fresh Newlyn crab. Newlyn is another fishing town right next to Mousehole. And, yes, their crab is delicious! Growing up in Maryland, crabs were a staple in late summer. The Newlyn crab reminds me of a gentler tasting Maryland blue crab — igniting happy memories of summer spent in Ocean City.

4) Visit Trebah Gardens. Beautiful sub-tropical flora that takes you right down on to a beach. My favourite was the hydrangea field as it was in bloom whilst we were there. Oh and you can’t miss the Gunnera forest — a green-canopied Jurassic-looking haven.

5) Eat a Cornish pasty. Pronounced “pah-sties” (so it doesn’t quite sound like a nipple tassel) these little pockets of savoury pastry pie are the bees’ knees. The classic pasty has beef and potato in, but I prefer the vegetarian options. Rowe’s Bakery do the best — we stopped by the one in Penzance (“I am the very model of a modern major general!”) but there are others scattered around Cornwall.

6) Minack Theatre. This theatre is the most magical I’ve ever been to. Built right into the side of the Cornish cliffs, the backdrop to every play is crashing waves, sunsets and/or moody, broody skies. I highly recommend this, but just bring copious blankets (yes, even in the height of British summer) and a fresh pasty or two to keep your hands warm.

7) Smooch (or just stand in awe) at the edge of the world — aka Land’s End. Side step the strange amalgam of tourist attractions here and just wonder the hills and cliffs of Land’s End. You really do feel you are on the edge of the world.


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A trip to Mousehole in Cornwall

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Matt and I have traveled around Scotland quite a bit, but apart from a few places in northern England and London, we hardly ever venture south of the border into England. So for our last hurrah in the UK (we move back to the States in early September), I thought it only right that we give southern England its due — or at least the West Country.

We stayed in a wee fishing village at the tippy tip of Cornwall called Mousehole (pronounced Mao-sul) because … it’s called Mousehole! Charmed already! Also I read somewhere that Dylan Thomas proclaimed it “the loveliest village in England.” Double charmed!

And Mousehole totally lived up to its storybook name: flower pots on window sills, cobbled streets too narrow for cars, and wee fishing boats bobbing in the harbour. My favourite bit was our lovely bedroom in the tiny cottage we rented via Airbnb. The window looked across the village into the sea. Everyone morning we would open the window and let the fresh sea air sweep over us as we had breakfast in bed — pretty much my idea of heaven.


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The Red Door Gallery, Edinburgh

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Sometimes it feels like globalization has made shopping in the developed world so homogenized. No matter what city you visit, you know you’ll find an H&M, Zara, Gap and Urban Outfitters. Don’t get me wrong, I do my fair share of chain store shopping, but I’m always on the search for something unique. Remember Falsi Gioielli in Florence? Well, The Red Door Gallery in Edinburgh is kind of like that. Unlike Falsi Gioielli, it’s not hard to find. It’s located in a very touristy area in Edinburgh and I love to visit it every time I’m in town.

It’s a tiny shop/gallery, but it’s chock-a-block with British-made prints, pins, paper goods, jewelry, pillows, and cards. Lar and I bought matching-ish necklaces by Lucie Ellen (check out here Etsy shop here) a few weeks ago and I wear mine almost every day. I also have a couple of prints from The Red Door Gallery framed in my house.

I would have taken even more photos of the interior but the shop was so crowded that I couldn’t get a decent shot without someone’s head moving into view. Ah well. I suppose that means you just have to visit yourself to see what it’s like.

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Lar also introduced me to Flux in Leith. I stupidly forgot to take pictures there, but you can check out their brightly-colored website here.


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Tipple + Rose Tea Parlor and Apothecary

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Remember last week when I said my trip to Edinburgh made me we want explore more cafes/eateries in Atlanta? Well, done and done! Tipple & Rose Parlor and Apothecary opened up last week in Virginia Highland and I made my way over there on Saturday. I love tea shops – the promise of warm scones with clotted cream or, at the very least, a quiet place to have a cuppa and read a book. Tipple & Rose does not disappoint. It’s got a great airy, laid-back vibe with a hint of Victoriana.  You have a choice of 80 kinds of tea (you can smell each one at the counter before ordering), crumpets, house-made scones, clotted cream, cakes, pies and a number of salads and sandwiches including vegan options.

Since it was so hot out on Saturday (and Sunday and Monday and Tuesday and forever in Atlanta), I ordered a rooibos over ice, vegan kale salad and a blueberry and white chocolate scone. Yes, it’s a weird combination, but it was perfect for the mood I was in and it was all so good. I can’t wait to take Lar here when she gets into town in September.

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My friend Brittany joined me and fell in love with the giant Victorian arm chair she’s sitting in (note, we both got iced teas because it’s so unbearably hot):

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These are all the teas at the counter that you can take a sniff of before ordering:

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Since it’s part apothecary, Tipple & Rose carries a number of all-natural, locally made bath products. Little Barn Apothecary is one of my favorite local brands. I was really tempted to buy a bottle of the jasmine ocean water:

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Bathroom selfie, had to do it because the natural light was so pretty (outfit blog post coming soon):

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My very last semester of grad school starts up in a few weeks. I might spend my weekends studying at Tipple & Rose – that would make me actually look forward to all of the work I have to do!


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Sister Time

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When Lar and I were little, our mom would dress us up the same. I mean, we were twin girls, what mom in her right mind wouldn’t? Lar and I never minded. Growing up as a twin and dressing like else was normal. We didn’t start dressing differently until we started picking out our own clothes at the mall – anyone remember Limited Too?!?!

Now that we’re full blown adults and are hardly ever together (sob!) we love wearing the same thing – or at least similar things – when we’re together. It just feels right! Of course we don’t look super twin-like now that Lar’s hair is legitimately curly and I can never come back from over plucking my eyebrows in the 90s – damn you, pink Tweezerman tweezers! But I still love looking similar – if not exactly alike.

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Where: The Devil’s Advocate
Wearing: Old Navy tops

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Where: The Hanging Bat
Wearing: H&M black cardigans, Truly Madly Deeply tanks from U.O.

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Where: Rose Leaf
Wearing: Not really wearing the same thing in this pic, but we are drinking the same thing – Coconut Crunch juice (so good!)

Lar is still holidaying in southern England (check out her IG pics here), but I’ll get to see her again in a month. She’ll be visiting Atlanta before moving onto Seattle in the fall. That means I get to see her twice in one season – that never happens!


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Edinburgh Eats

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Why don’t I go to more cafes in Atlanta?

This is the thought I had as I was eating my way around Edinburgh a few weeks ago. Now that Lar has lived in Edinburgh for four years, she knows all the best places to grab a quick, scrumptious bite. Vegetarian lunch? Hendersons! Daytime meet up with the girls? Love Crumbs! Hipster coffee shop without the hipster pretension? Machina Espresso! The best breakfast burrito (seasoned with rosemary, no less)? Milk! Craving a green juice and a coffee? Filament! The list goes on and on. Edinburgh is packed with wonderful cafes/eateries.

Which brings me back to Atlanta. I know Atlanta has wonderful cafes. I’ve just gotten into the habit of going to my same eateries over and over again. So my late-summer resolution is to explore a little more in my own backyard. First on my list: Tipple and Rose Tea Parlor and Apothecary. Anyone been yet? They just opened.

Hopefully I’ll have a post up soon featuring my new found Atlanta cafe favorites. Until then, here are some photos from the Edinburgh cafe scene.

This cheddar cheese, basil, tomato, chutney, slice apple sandwich I ordered at Machina Espresso is like my idea of heaven. I would eat this over chocolate any day!

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See that black storefront in the photo below? That’s Filament on Clerk St (the same street I lived on as a student 11 years ago!). See those people sitting out front? That’s Lar and Troy.

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Troy and I ordered way too much food when we went to Milk the first morning we were in Edinburgh, but it was all so delicious. My favorite was this courgette (that’s zucchini for us Americans) cake with cream cheese icing – perfectly moist and sweet, plus I could pretend it was healthy because it had a vegetable in it. Even three weeks later I’m still dreaming about it:

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I don’t want to bore you to death with food pictures so just trust me when I write that I could have included A LOT more in this post. If I wasn’t eating or drinking in Edinburgh, I was sleeping – or walking to some place where I could eat and drink ;)


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Lar Hearts Scottish City Life

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By now Lar only has a few more weeks left in Scotland. As much as she hates the lack of sunlight in the winter, she’s going to miss her adopted home of four years so much. When I asked her what she was going to miss the most about living in Edinburgh, she said her friends and coworkers. She and Matt have created a lovely life in Edinburgh and surrounded themselves with amazing people. They’ve also totally become completely at home with the way of life there. Lar walks and takes the bus/train everywhere while Matt bikes to work every day. They live in the center of the city where they’re within a one minute walk of an amazing beer bar (Hanging Bat), corner shops, a coffee shop, pubs, an Indian restaurant, and a chip shop. And they’re totally smitten with how unpretentious and open folks are in general in Scotland.

I have no doubt Lar will create an equally fulfilled life in Seattle, but I imagine this last month won’t be easy. I know she and Matt will make a number of return trips to Scotland and hope they let me tag along when they do ;)

I took the photos in this post while I was visiting two weeks ago. I love how at-home she looks in these photos – but not as much as I love the fact that she’ll be moving back closer to me! (insert maniacal laughter here)

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