Sunny Edinburgh

spring-dress

edinburgh-sunny

Dear Cath,

Can you believe how sunny it is in these pics?! And blue, blue, blue sky as far as the eye can see (which isn’t far because of the hills and stone edifices everywhere). And yesterday was actually warm enough for us to sit out in the sun. Matt got a sun burn on his forehead and I look exactly the same shade as in the middle of winter. Do you tan easily? I feel like I must naturally have SPF 85 in my skin.

But still — sunny! Things are so much better when it’s sunny. My bones relax and everybody is wonderful. It’s like being tipsy on vitamin D. Though that wasn’t quite enough to scare the monkey-brain away when I had my check-up this week for endo. But to make myself feel better post-appointment I hit the harder stuff: retail therapy. Did I tell you they now have a homewares department at the big H&M on Princes Street?!

I bought a-this pillow (Standard Vintage Edition No. 3 of what? A newspaper? Pillow fluff wrapped in an enigma, printed on sustainable cotton):

h&m-home-2

And a-thiiis pillow which I’ve been lusting after for two years on their website. It’s washed linen and feels heavenly soft:

H&M-home

This weekend has been even more indulgent — no more shopping but lots of eating-off-the-”diet.” We met up with friends and went to Spoon. It’s about a 10 minute walk down Nicholson street from where you lived. Right across from the Festival Theatre. I’ve never been there for brunch and it was delicious. They even had proper American fluffy pancakes which they smothered in yogurt, honey and slivered almonds:

pancakes

And look! I had my first plate of kippers for breakie! I felt very Jeeves-and-Wooster at the morning buffet. They were delicious though incredibly bone-y:

kippers

I had to take the requisite coffee photo as well because Matt showed me that the updated version of the Google camera app can do this really cool out-of-focus thing (also used it in the photo of me at the top of the postie). Isn’t it lovely? Makes me look like I know what I’m doing with a camera — or at least a phone camera:

flat-white

A girl could get used to this: sun, gluten, linen pillowcases. Apparently that’s all it takes.

I hope you had a linen-pillowcase kind of a week/weekend too!

Miss you so much — more than any amount of sunshine and pancakes can make up for.

LOVE,

Lar

 


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Dear Lar

I love the idea of writing more to each other – or making this blog a “full-on epistolary” as you so elegantly put it in the last post :) . Skype only goes so far and I haven’t been Instagramming as much because I’ve been so busy. It’s pretty bad when you’re too busy for Instagram!

I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, but whenever I get really busy I just want to keep things simple in the clothing department. It goes along with what you talked about in your post – having a smaller wardrobe, only having one winter coat, etc. That’s why I wore this outfit last weekend:

uniform

It doesn’t get more simple than a white button-up and jeans (with my Feiyue sneakers, Fjallraven backpack, and Jawbone Up).

Anywho, in addition to lots of school work and work work, I’ve also been spending all my time in the kitchen. I know, I know. That doesn’t sound like me at all. I don’t like to cook, I hate dirty dishes, and I love to eat out. You’ve always been more of the cook/baker.

As I told you on Skype, Troy and I are halfway through our Whole30 detox. I’ve been wanting to try Whole30 for a while every since Ashley started writing about it on her blog. So, for the month of April, Troy and I have been making all of our meals and planning ahead for a whole week. I’ve been keeping track of my meals through the Two Grand app:

twogrand

Lucky for me, Troy is an amazing cook and he’s thought up some delicious paleo/Whole30-approved meals. Here’s just a sample of some of the stuff I’ve been eating for the past 14 days:

whole30 meals

From top left:

  • Apple nut porridge – recipe from the Paleo Secret blog.
  • Creamy cauliflower and chicken soup.
  • Cioppino (made without white wine and butter).
  • Tuna lettuce wraps.
  • Sweet potato chips from Trader Joe’s (no additives, just salt).
  • Fish ‘n chips – cashew and coconut breaded fish with sweet potato fries and broccoli slaw.

In general, the detox hasn’t been so much hard as time-consuming. I haven’t gotten out of the house much in the past two weeks, except for this weekend. I actually left the house on Saturday to help judge the Style Competition at Salvage. It was so fun and I felt so lucky to be a part of it. Plus fellow blogger and foodie, Elizabeth Chai, was one of the other judges. It was so nice to see her and I got to meet Tranae Harris, the third judge and fellow lifestyle blogger (see her awesome recap of Salvage here).

salvage judges

Image via Chaiamericano’s Instagram :)

Salvage style contest

I can’t wait for this semester (and detox) to be over just so I can go to more things like Salvage – and have a glass of wine :) Plus, it always pains me not to be blogging on a consistent basis. Skyping, writing this blog, and Instagramming are the few things that make me feel close to you. Hopefully in a few weeks I can spend a lot more time doing those 3 things!

Love, Cath

 


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Dear Cath…

So I realized that now we are busier and feel further apart because of our busy-ness it might be a good idea to turn AsianCajuns full-on epistolary. What do you think? (And, readers, as always feel free to chime in with comments and questions — we aren’t excluding you, we’ll just be including you in more of our to-ing and fro-ing).

Skype is wonderful and limiting, isn’t it? I get to see your lovely face and catch up for an hour but I forget to tell you stuff — lots of stuff. And it’s just an hour. That’s not enough and sometimes makes me feel more depressed because I realise that’s all we get all week.

It’s not like the stuff I forget to tell you is that exciting, but little thoughts that I need you to hear. For instance, I now like the 1960s.

That was never a era for us: bouffant hair and stiff fabrics, but here’s why it’s growing on me.

When you get past the fashion-y bits of the 60s (loud prints and too much hairspray), you realise that it was a time when old and new still mingled because they had to. Maybe that happened more in Europe than America which is why we didn’t see it before. In the 60s people wanted the new but they also still had small wardrobes and would wear the same coat all winter and the same shoes. And one good purse.

Everyone looks to the French closet as inspiration for a minimal and chic approach to dressing, but I think the 60s had it right too.

I’m basing my new-found love of the 60s on three things:

• Michael Caine in his Harry Palmer movies (The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin and Billion Dollar Brain)

• Audrey Hepburn in Charade

• Inspector Morse as a youth (Youths!) in Endeavor

Harry-Palmer

Audrey-charade

Endeavor-morse
photo credit 123

There’s an economy in all their looks.

Sure Audrey has roughly six different coats in Charade, but somehow the style is streamlined enough that it fits this side of the 60s that I like. And Palmer/Caine and Inspector Morse fight crime in the same slim-cut suits, khaki mackintoshes and just-enough-shine dress shoes. Everyone looks great because they look like themselves.

Apart from the unethical and anti-environmental sides to fast fashion, I feel like places like Zara, and H&M and Topshop and even more expensive designers have created a really homogeneous culture. All fashionistas look alike — beautiful and bright (young things even when they aren’t) but somehow it’s not nearly as good as Michael Caine peering through his think-framed specs and Morse with his bottom blazer button unbuttoned and hands shoved in his pocket. Even though these two men have the same uniform, their clothes look unique to them. More unique than if I bought a blouse from Top Shop and you from Target. The clothes never wear them.

Maybe it’s a uniform? That would have sounded so boring and restrictive to me in my 20s, but really appeals to me right now. My closet is so teeny here it’s forced me to be minimal — and I like it. And because I seem to especially be hung up on coats-as-your-you-ness, here is proof that I only wear one all winter (and as you know winter is nearly a year-round thing here):

Scotland-sunny

Dull Scotland

AsianCajuns-Wallingford-Seattle Uwajimaya AsianCajuns-cath-lar

Chattanooga pedestrian bridge

(oh wait, that last one is you — you, so cute!)

Even 15 years ago wearing the same coat all winter would have been expected, but thanks to Zara et al we can now get beautiful coats that suit our every fashion whim. Or we can afford to have coats for when it’s wet-cold versus dry-cold versus cold-cold. And being someone who lives in a place where it sometimes requires all three in one day, I understand the luxury of REI-like purchases. But for me (not one who spends most of my days trekking the slopes of the Highlands) one coat should — and does — do.

Who knows, maybe I’ll run after Russian spies and overly-cultured Oxbridge criminals in my red toggle coat in the months to come.

Want to go uniform-refining with me?

Love,

Lar


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Living in a Scottish Castle

Roslin-castle-scotland

Roslin-castle-door

Last week Matt’s family came to visit us in Scotland — it was schwonderful and I miss them already. But do you know what was the icing on top of the trip cake? We stayed in a castle. A for real castle. With a turret and everythang. And dungeons, people. Dungeons. It would have scared the bejebus out of me staying there alone, but luckily I had my nephews to hold my hand when I wanted to go exploring:

Roslin-castle-stairs

Originally (we’re talking 1590s-1700s) the castle looked a bit more like this (that house-y bit to the left is what we stayed in):

Roslin-castle-drawing

We spent most evenings by a roaring fire in this room (the portraits looked way creepier at night with the fire flickering):

Roslin-castle-lounge

Cath and I have stayed in a number of grand houses via The Landmark Trust (in Italy, Cambell Town, and Aryshire). The difference with this ole pile is that it’s still owned by the St. Claire family (aka the Earl of Roslin and his brood) who’ve been around this neck of the woods since the Norman Invasion. So Roslin Castle still feels quite lived-in, what with the ancestral portraits, photos with the Queen (for reals) and such. And it’s quite cosy, you know, for a castle (she says like she’s stayed in lots).

Roslin-castle-couch

Roslin-castle-details2

So what does one do in a castle all day, you ask? Drink tea, eat copious amounts of clotted cream with warm scones and sunbathe in the courtyard-which-used-to-be-the-great-hall-in-1590 natch:

Roslin-castle-courtyard

Roslin-castle-details

We had lovely dinners in this red dinning room which is supposedly haunted by a lady in white (wayyy creepier at night when it’s just lit with candles — but good creepy).

Roslin-castle-dinning-room

Roslin-castle-dinning

Another thing to do in your castle? Take timed self-portraits — such good backdrops for blog photos! But know that if you are staying in a castle with nine other souls (or more — lady in white and co.?) someone will walk in when you are doing your blogger posing and then you end up looking like a startled prairie dog:

Roslin-castle-tapestry

This was the stair down to one of the bathrooms. When I was little and in princess-mode I never imagined Princess Buttercup et al descending the turret stairs to the toilet. What do princesses need loos for?

Roslin-castle-turret

Roslin Castle is situated right above a gorgeous glen that acts as a sort of three-quarter moat (Yes, a moat! And there was a bridge over the moat!). So lots of lovely walks to be had. And it’s just a short walk up the hill to Rossyln Chapel of The DaVinci Code fame. Rosslyn Chapel is beautiful and really magical even if you don’t care for the Dan Brown-iness of it all.

Roslin-glen-mill

Roslin-castle-ruins

Do you want to hear some modern day magicalness surrounding Rossyln Chapel? Weeeeell, we went up to the Chapel for mass on Sunday. When I walked in I noticed this lovely young Asian woman in the back pew — one notices such things in more rural parts of Scotland where the general population is decidedly not Asian nor young. Halfway through mass I noticed she’s waving at me and mouthing the words “Lar.” Holy smokes! I know that lovely young Asian woman!

Three and a half years ago Cath and I met the author Cheryl Tan at the Decatur Book Festival and got to interview her for this here blog (read the interview here). So a writer from New York met a blogger from Atlanta once in Decatur, and then they meet again in Roslin, Scotland nearly four years later?! What are the chances?

Lesson to be learned here? All Asians do know each other. Red coats are in. Rosslyn Chapel is magical.

Cheryl-tan-author

(Cheryl, I’m still so excited about this! And I’m so glad I’ll get to see you in a few weeks post-retreat!)

So, hows about it guys? Have I finally convinced you that Scotland needs to be number 1 on your places you must visit now? If you come, we’ll go castle hunting together.

—–

Dearest Cath,

Even though this year has been utter poop in a lot of ways, it has also been the exact opposite of that. I got to see you like FOUR times in six months and we stayed in a villa in Italy. And now me in a castle. Next stop? Move over Karl, the AsianCajuns are staying in Versailles.

The only logical next step, non?

It’s only been a week, but I feel like I haven’t talked to you in 20. We have to stop being busy and just skype each other all day. What are you doing? Whatchu you got on this week? When are you coming?

LOVE YOU!!!!

Lar

 


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T-Shirt and Jeans

black vneck

I wish I had pretty pictures to show you of Atlanta – especially now that the cherry trees are in blossom – just like Lar showed you of Edinburgh in her last lovely post. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to get out of the house. I’ve been slammed with work and school work for the past few weeks. Being so busy has made me want to simply everything – including my wardrobe.

tshirt and jeans

camper wedges

When I get tempted by cheap trends and online sales, here are some links that inspire me to keep it simple:

Felicity (the TV show) style – remember the converse and leather backpack? It might be a little dated, but I love how Keri Russel’s character made t-shirts, jeans and sneaks look pulled-together and laid back at the same time. Plus, mom jeans are coming back in style.

• Stephanie Trong’s Why I Didn’t Dress Up For Paris Fashion Week (and Won’t Ever Again)

A great post about simplifying your wardrobe.

• Good reads from Life Edited here, here, and here.

• Update: Esther just left a comment about Project 333. I’m intrigued and think I want to try it. Anyone ever tried it?

___________________

Dearest Lar,

I finally got to see The Grand Budapest Hotel. Can you believe it’s only playing in at one movie theater in Atlanta (Tara)? I loved it and I want to watch it again so I can soak in all the details. I wish we could have seen it together.

I think one of the reasons I love Wes Anderson films is how almost every character of his has a uniform: Team Zissou, Margot Tenenbaum, Suzy, etc. I like the simplicity of it amongst all of the visual stimulation.

I feel like you’ve developed your uniform with flowy tunics and leggings and I love it. I know you’ve had to simplify because you and Matt don’t have a lot of closet space, but I’m totally inspired by it (the simplicity more so than the lack of closet space). So thanks for inspiring me from hundreds of miles away!

Hope you have a fun, stress-free week!

xoxo, Cath


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In a Land Far Far Away

AsianCajuns-cath-lar

Missing this lady (to the right)!

I left Atlanta two weeks ago and have belly-flopped back into Edinburgh life, splashing around trying to distract myself from missing Cath. So sorry for leaving you guys in a Lar lurch. Recovering from surgery and then jet lag and then a cold while heading back to work hasn’t made February my favorite month, but it has kept me busy enough to trick myself into thinking Cath is just right down the street. Not across an OCEAN. Damn you, Atlantic! When you get so big?!

To combat my twin blues, I’ll post some piccies of Cath and I together in Seattle way back in mid-January. Ahhhh bliss!

AsianCajuns-seattle Walrus-carpenter-seattle

Oh wait! There’s also some photos of Edinburgh to combat the angsty twin mumblings. A hodge-podge of a post this is!

The following photos are from my trampings around Edinburgh (the top one is of Edinburgh Castle on a rainy day — i.e. almost all days). It really is such a wonderful place to visit. Don’t let my lack-of-a-twin-sister moaning put you off. Look at all the nice things you can do here: ogle old buildings and storefronts, sniff flowers on rain-soaked (everything here is rain-soaked) pavements, have lunch in old church crypts by the window, eat delicious carrot cake whilst you gulp your tea. It’s a heavenly story really. It’s just missing one or two (or 20) key players.

Edinburgh-castle-march

trotters-edinburgh

edinburgh-flowers

hendersons-st-john

hendersons-vegetarian

carrot-cake

 

—–

Dear Cath,

I really am sorry my blogging has ground to a halt. Like you (but less successfully and ambitiously), I’ve tried to keep busy so I don’t have to think about our distance. Not only has this not gotten easier… it’s gotten harder! Two main things that make me feel less like myself here in Scotland: 1) not having you around and 2) lack of vitamin D. In that order. But see with #2 I’m thinking about just going to the tanning salon down the street (I know bad, but you know what this constant dirge of grey is like) — voila UV light in my eyeballs, tricking me to believe I live in southern Spain. But how, oh how, do I find a place that has Cath holograms. I need one of those shops on my block. Sometimes I’ll glance really fast past a mirror and think it’s you or see someone from behind that looks like you (and me too?) — and that’s all the more crushing.

Ha-RUMPH.

At least I get to see you on skype today!

Lovingly,

Your far far away sister Lar

 


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My Spring Reading List

Use Grammarly for proofreading because, it’s like a little (comma) splice of heaven.*

reading list

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about books on AsianCajuns. Lar and I have always been big readers, but since I’ve been going to graduate school while working full time, my reading has tapered off a little bit in the past few years. Lately, I’ve been trying to take more time to read, even if it’s just a few minutes before bed. Here’s what I’ve been reading/planning on reading these past few months:

Stitches by Anne Lamott – My mom saw Anne Lamott give a talk at our local library and immediately bought a copy Stitches for herself, me and Lar. It’s about dealing with loss and catastrophic events. It sounds dark and self-help-y, but it’s not. I like reading little snippets of it throughout the week.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – This is one of those books that I’m planning on reading. Eric from Mosey bought it for me when Troy and I got to hang out with him in Decatur a few months ago because he said it was one of the best books he’s read in while. I know fellow blogger, Laura, just finished it and loved it. I’ve been holding off reading it until I have a free weekend, but that’s never going to happen and I’m really looking forward to it, so I might start it this week – can’t wait!

Financially Fearless by Alexa Von Tobel – Alexa is the founder of LearnVest.com, which I use to keep my finances in order and occasionally “meet” my online financial advisor. It’s a great book (and website) for anyone needing to up the ante on their personal finances. I haven’t read the entire book, but I know I’ll use it continually as a reference.

Hot Rum Cow – The company that Lar works for in Scotland publishes this independent magazine about beers, wines and spirits. Every time I visit Lar in Scotland or when she comes home for a visit, she brings me the latest issue and I love it. I’ve kept all of the issues she’s given me and have even reread some of the articles. It has everything I love: great writing, awesome design, and a focus on booze!

reading list

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – A Beautiful Mess started an online book club this year and The Interestings was the January book. I bought it in January with every intention of participating in the online discussion, but have yet to finish it. Whoops! Luckily I got my friend, Alison, and Lar to read it with me so we’re going to have our own little book club chat via Skype soon.

A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman – As much as I love instagramming and taking photos for the blog, I sometimes feel uninspired and “meh” about my photos. I use this book when I need some inspiration and a little pick-me-up.

Brother – I bought this journal at Octane in Grant Park for Lar since she loves independent publications. I was going to wait to read it after her, but I couldn’t help myself and read it before giving it to her. This particular issue was about oysters in Charleston, SC. I read it from cover to cover (it’s not a big publication) and immediately went to the Kimball House to eat some oysters after. I can’t wait for the next issue.

 * Blogger disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Grammarly. All thoughts and views expressed are my own. 


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Acrylic Tray DIY

the easiest DIY ever

A couple of months ago I reorganized my vanity and realized I needed a tray to corral all of my stuff. I started searching all over online for an affordable tray. When I say “affordable,” I mean like $15 or less. It doesn’t exist. $26 was the cheapest I could find.

Then I remembered my friend, Katie, telling me about using acrylic frames as a tray. Brilliant! Even better? I had one laying around my house. One brand new tray for $0!!! If you don’t already own one, you can purchase an 8″ x 10″ frame for $5 on Amazon.

Not that it’s really necessary, but here’s how you turn an acrylic frame into an acrylic tray:

step one tray diy

Step two tray diy

Boom. Done.

acrylic diy tray

Easiest. DIY. Ever.

___________________

Dearest Lar,

Remember how we used to do crafts all the time? I loved creating stuff: a bunny pin cushion, magazines, paper dolls, necklaces, and a bunch of other stuff. When did we get too busy to have craft time?! I suppose creating a tray from a frame isn’t the most crafty thing in the world, but I still felt a sense of accomplishment when I was done (in five seconds).

Next time we’re together, let’s have a crafternoon. Deal?

xoxo, Cath


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Thursday Reading List

I know it’s been a bit quiet here on the blog this week. I apologize. I wish I could spend all of my time on AsianCajuns, but work, school, and life tend to get in the way every once in a while.

One of the things I’ve been up to as of late: writing a handful of articles for Groupon. Click on the photos and have a look-see :)

10 Crazy Great Things About Atlanta

Enjoying nature in atlanta

Groupon Southern History Atlanta

The best of Decatur

Let me know what you think – even if you’ve never been to Atlanta!

___________________________

Dearest Lar,

It already feels like I haven’t seen you in forever. We’re both slammed with work in our different parts of the world and it makes me feel even further from you. You should just buy a GoPro and wear it everywhere you go so I can feel like I’m right by you during the day. That’s not weird, right?!

Skype this Sunday? I hope so!

xoxo, Cath


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Another Rent the Runway Success at a Great Wedding

Last month I rented this Zac Posen dress for my friends’ wedding:

Rent the Runway wedding

No Turning Back dress |  Brighthouse Baubles necklace | Simply Vera shoes (similar here)

It fit perfectly except for the straps – they kept sliding off my shoulders. Since I had read the reviews on Rent the Runway before ordering the dress, I knew this was common a issue so I made sure to add some double-sided tape to keep them in place. Everything else about the dress was great. The material was heavy so it hung nicely and never wrinkled and there were pockets! Bonus: it only cost $34.99 to rent.

I wore this dress

to their wedding

and had a blast

The last two photos in this post are by Matt Miller of Diamond Eyes – an awesome, Atlanta-based wedding photographer.

Have you tried Rent the Runway? I’ve used the website twice before (here and here) and have always been pleased with the service. Feel free to leave a comment if you want more details on how it works.

Here’s to a great weekend!

_________________

Dearest Lar,

I’m still kind of in shock that you left to go back to Scotland today. I was getting so used to having you around – and it felt so right!

At this very moment, you’re flying over Ireland – I’ve been tracking your flight this whole time. Creepy? Perhaps, but it makes me feel closer to you to know exactly where you/your plane are/is. You’ll be landing in Amsterdam in less than two hours with plenty of time to catch your flight to Edinburgh. I wish I was on the flight with you! I find it so strange that we’ve travelled back and forth between the states and Europe so much in the past few years and haven’t flown together once!

You know I’ll be missing you like crazy, but I’m so glad you’ll be going back to Scotland to make a full recovery. You’ve been through so much this past month, but I really believe that by this time next month, it’ll feel like a distant dream. Okay, “dream” sounds way too pleasant, but you know what I mean.

Skype you this weekend!

xoxo, Cath


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