Happy Halloween!

This post is a little late – whoops! Trick-or-treating has ended and Halloween will officially be over in less than an hour. Maybe I should title this post Happy Belated Halloween.

I really wanted to go as a matador this year, but I’ve been so busy with school work that I didn’t get a chance to put together my costume. *Sigh* It would have been so fun wearing leggings with pink tights and carrying around a stuffed animal bull. Maybe next year!

I took this photo on my phone so I could show Lar my new Missoni for Target shoes (thanks Eli!). I’ll get a better photo of them later this week.

Outfit details: H&M sweater and skirt, Missoni for Target pumps

__

Dear Lar,

Did you have any trick-or-treaters at your flat? We had one – a teenage who wasn’t even wearing a costume and just held out his bag without saying anything.

Ah well, at least mom’s table top decor got me in the Halloween spirit:

And so did Alison’s pumpkin carving party where I made this monocled, mustache guy:

What are your plans for Guy Fawkes Night? I want to see photos!

xoxo,

Cath

 


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My Scottish Hood is A Lot Like My Old American Hood

Before I married Sr. Matteo in March, I lived in a city just outside of Atlanta called Decatur (longtime readers, you know we are proud Decaturites). Cath and I fell in love with Decatur about ten years ago when we moved from D.C. to the fair city to go to college. Decatur is a small town, next to a big city (just six miles east from the heart of Atlanta): wonderful restaurants (just read this!), great boutiques, galleries and green space.

Well, 10 years after moving to Decatur, I moved to the Scottish Decatur, better known as Edinburgh. There are some major differences. Edinburgh is bigger both in size and population, it is quite a bit older, hillier, colder, windier, rainier, and better for a Romantic (capital “r”) state-of-mind.

So the cities aren’t identical, but here is what they have in common: wonderfully friendly people and a small town feel. I haven’t met very many people here because I work from home, but somehow when I go out, I bump into one of the five people I’ve met. There are great restaurants and independent boutiques, and very little pretention and pockets of diversity.

Now that we’ve started to feel a little less frantic (find an apartment! open a bank account! get some internets!), Matteo and I are trying to get to know our neighborhood better. We’ve found a couple of really terrific bakeries (that’s Dough Re Mi below).

Look at that French bread deliciousness below: that folded over bit of bread is like Moroccan focaccia called harissa (spicy and delicious), there’s the most buttery pain au chocolats and croissants (we bought the lot after a morning jog — in my opinion, the only reason to do something so masochistic is for butter and chocolate).

Another local bakery around the block makes this delicious jam: it has tart cranberries and sweet strawberries, made for sinking into buttery crumpet holes.

Here is a photo of what I look like before I gain 200 pounds (i.e. 14 stone) from eating butter in its different delightful forms:

Apparently, we prefer to mainly explore our new city gastronomically. We figured it is up to us to try every single café and restaurant around our flat, you know, for our guests that are coming to visit. Such a terrific sacrifice on our part of course.

Here is some Edinburgh “Crombie” (sausage) and tatties (potatoes) at Café Grande and below is our berry crumble (and cream!) for dessert.

Thanks for following along with all this day-to-day stuff! Probably from the pics it looks like we just get to skip around a beautiful city and stuff ourselves with croissants. AsianCajuns lets me stay in touch with Kitcath (and you guys) and remember why I moved across the ocean and have to make a fresh start in a new place. It’s a lovely, magically place and one of my favorite cities in the whole world, but it has been a bewildering and a little lonely and stressful at times.

—-

Dear Kitcath,

Like I was telling you, I started reading Her Fearful Symmetry. It’s weird to read a book about twins (I don’t think I have – except for that one Sweet Valley High). Niffenegger makes us/twins sound a little creepy. Are we creepy? I mean we aren’t pale and white/blond-haired like these mirror twin girls, but she says they made people uneasy when they saw the twins together. I know we freak people out when we say the same thing at the same time.

I want you to read this and the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peal Pie Society when you get here. Or buy one of them for the flight over.

Good luck on your paper, Kitcath! Wish I could help you write it!

xoxoxo,

Larbar

p.s. Do you think we could make Edinburgh and Decatur unofficial (twin) sister cities?!

—-

Edit: Oct. 31 • 6:20 pm BST
Fellow Decaturite Lain S. points out that Decatur and Edinburgh also have another wonderful thing in common: Book Festivals. Lucky for us, they fall one right after each other in August (Edinburgh International Book Festival) and then September (AJC Decatur Book Festival). No excuse not to go to both, right?


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Mundanity from Scotland

Moving from the States to Scotland isn’t like moving to Rwanda (which my sister-in-law just did!). We speak the same language-ish and eat similar-ish foods, etc. But it is strange how different the day-to-day things can be.

1) I’ve mentioned it before — tea! Lots and lots of it! I even sometimes drink it out of this Gilbert and Sullivan mug. It doesn’t get more British than that, does it? I am the very model of a modern British American.

 

2) Crumpets. Better than anything else at soaking up pats of melty butter and dollops of jam/jelly:

3) 24 hours a day: extra feetsie warmth. These are my very old mukluks that I’ve had for 18 years or so. Cath and I used to wear them over our pointe shoes back in our bunhead days.

5) Our dryer! I bet you are incredibly impressed at our mound of clothes on drying rack. Sorry this is such a miserably ugly photo, but this is what our kitchen looks like half the week. Most people here do not have dryers. Instead we have washers that spin nearly all the water out of your clothes (soon I’ll be wearing tatters) during a 3 hour cycle. Out of all the countries in the world, you would have thought Scotland would embrace the dryer rather than the clothing rack (below) or clothes line (outside — OUTSIDE in the rain and wind!). Maybe that’s just a spoiled, energy-guzzling American talking…

6) Treacle. Matt likes it and says it makes his porridge palatable. I’d rather eat marmite.

6) My house/flat keys! I feel like I live in a story book whenever I look at these! They, however, do not open castle doors or lead you into mysteriously magical wardrobes. I’ve tried both.

7) Coasters! We have a semi-fastidious landlord — wonderful man (are you reading this James?) — but he insisted on coasters on his furniture. I went one step further to ingratiate ourselves with our Scottish landlord with my Authentic Clan Tartan coasters picked up at our local Oxfam.

—-

Dear Kitcath,

Trying a new hairstyle. I just pin bits and pieces up and try to make it look effortless (it is not). Tried to send these via skype but I think you must be away from your desk. Missss youu!

xoxox,

Larbar

p.s. Sorry if this post is a bit mundane! I promise to go to a castle or something old a crumbly soon, and take lots of pics. xoxox

 


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It’s Always Sunny in Atlanta

While Lar has been having adventures in sometimes-sunny Scotland, I’ve been going to work, reading for class, and cleaning my house in sunny Decatur. It’s a glamorous life.

I’m trying to get serious about saving for my trip to Europe in December, which means no new clothes – gah!

Did I mention that my parents, Troy and I are meeting up with Matt and Lar in Paris before Christmas? No? Well, we are! Paris for six days and then a week in Edinburgh. It’ll be cold, but amazing and I just bought my plane tickets so its official. Too bad that now means I have absolutely no money to buy new clothes.

I’ve been trying to get creative and wear items in my closet that I don’t get a lot of use out of. For example? This striped Maison Scotch dress:


Outfit details: Banana Republic blazer, Maison Scotch dress and necklace, and AE boots.

I bought this dress in the summer and loved it so much that I only wore it once. I know, I know, it makes no sense, but I sometimes treat my favorite items too preciously and wait so long for the perfect moment to wear them that I never end up wearing them. Makes no sense, but there you have it.

So I decided to shake things up a bit and wear my Maison Scotch dress on a regular work day last week.

I love the subtle ruffles (runching?) on the sleeves:

The dress came with this sweet necklace:

Dearest Lar,

Look! In honor of your move, Lucky Magazine had a Scotland-inspired editorial in the November issue:

I imagine that instead of your hiking boots and rain coat, you spend most of your time in Edinburgh wearing flow-y plaid skirts, weird fluffy scarves/hoods without a jacket, and heels like this:

Is that you leaving your flat estate in Edinburgh?! You didn’t tell me your garden was so lovely!

In all seriousness, I’m finding it increasingly hard not having you here in Atlanta. At least we’ll be together in Paris in less than two months. The countdown is on!

Love, cath


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Scotland When It’s Sunny

The sun really does come out here (sometimes)!

When Matteo and I saw the sun twinkling in at us Sunday morning (last weekend) we leapt out of bed, pulled on some clothes and hiking boots, and ran to Arthur’s Seat across town. Below you can see Matteo running across the park by our flat, gleefully soaking up the sunshine:

Just look at Arthur’s Seat in the sun – lovely, gorgeous stuff, huh?

And then we remembered that usually when Scotland is so sunny in the autumn it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is warm. What it means is that it is windy enough to keep the clouds constantly moving so that the sun can peek out from time to time. And this wind means serious business. It’s the kind that makes your eyes water and cheeks feel like they are getting overly exfoliated. So we got a little grumpy and brooded a bit while the wind whipped around our ears:

But once we headed back home, safely off the wind-whipped Arthur’s seat, we could feel the sun’s warmth a bit better. We sat on a bench in our neighborhood park. Just above the buildings in the background, you can make out part of Arthur’s Seat:

Even after getting some nice sun on my face in the park, I was still a bit grumpy about being mauled by the wind. I’m still not 100% sold on too much hill walking just yet. In my mind weekends are still meant for cafe lunches, news papers, and thrifting!

If you aren’t quite sold on the thriting thing yet, let me show you what I found when Matt and I were looking for a little side table for his side of the bed:

What a cutie! His owner has this wonderful stall a little ways south of our house. It is full of rickety furniture and odds n inns. So full, in fact, we just heard whimpery puppy noises but couldn’t spot the pup for a few minutes. And then there he was, all bundled up in his rain jacket and fleece blankie.

Here is what we got, a wonderful child’s Bentwood chair:

I think this might be my favorite piece of furniture I’ve ever bought! Considering that Ikea is usually all I can afford, that is maybe not too surprising.

After our successful stop at the puppy stall, we needed nourishment. There are so many wonderful little cafes and bakeries in our neighborhood (I know, we are lucky ducks — apart from the homesickness, I could really get used to this place!):

We put our chair to use right away waiting for the bus:

That’s Matt in his element there below: well fed, well caffeinated, and with a newspaper in his lap:

Instead of a newspaper, I curled up with The Lady magazine when we got home. I think it’s geared toward middle aged ladies, but I love it! Upon wikipedia-ing it, I discovered it’s the longest running weekly in England. It’s quite proper and British and has wonderful book recommendations (has anyone ever read Barbara Pym?) and the requisite article on Catherine Middleton. A delight!

In between reads, there was more tea and belly-warming foods:

And that’s our weekend! Apart from my unexpectedly slowww transition (I’m afraid to say I’ve been grumpy even amongst the cafes and puppies and tea) to our new life, it has been really lovely. I hope you guys are having a wonderful weekend too!

—–

Dear Kitcath,

Don’t worry, I’ll save every single magazine that I buy here for your perusal when you come and stay in two months! I have to say that I enjoyed The Lady more than the British Vogues, Marie Claires, and Bazaars I’ve bought so far. Somehow all the fashion just looks exactly like what we have the states with just slight variation. Or maybe I’m just tired of fashiony mags (sacre bleu!)?

I’ll be on Skype later on tonight, so I hope we can chat! Sorry I was MIA yesterday. Miss you guys muchicismos!!!

Love,

Larbar

p.s. The lady that lives above us plays the piano- and it’s wonderful! She must have a book called “Soundtracks the AsianCajuns Love.” She is currently playing a song from “Emma” and she favors “Amelie.” I hope she plays while you guys are here this winter.


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My New Pink Pants – oops! – I mean Trousers!

I keep forgetting our slight vocabulary differences over here: biscuits, not cookies; jelly, not jello; trousers, not pants (pants here are undies-whoops!). I, of course, keep using the wrong American words for things. Also, I’ve noticed that here my voice seems to carry more. I’m a loud American, and I can’t help it! In the states I’m considered somewhat soft-spoken. Here I’m downright bombastic.

So combine my misuse of words and “loud” voice and you get: “Matt! How do you like my new pink pants?!” I’m sure I said this some place public too. The bus, was it? I’m going to learn to speak quietly just to stop any more awkward moments. Not that anyone would say anything. People are far too polite.

Outfit dets: Lands End cardi • Spun Scarves scarf/shawl • Pink pants trousers from Next • Mango shoes • Longchamp purse AsianCajun necklace

Pst… Look how well I matched my outfit to my curtains. Nice, eh? I was going for a early 1990s upholstery look.

P.S. Chloe, thank you so much for my beautiful Longchamp. What a gorgeous going-away gift. You would be so proud of me. The first thing I put in it was a buttery pain au chocolat.

Apart from learning English, we’ve been busy trying to find new favorite restaurants and haunts. We think last weekend we might have found “our” Korean restaurant. It’s called Kim’s Mini Meals (I think the “mini” comes from the teeny charming dining room – the portions are generous), and it is delicious! The food is 100% Korean, but the decor has a heavy British influence. I love a good mix (*cough* AsianCajun).

Matt was particularly ecstatic: spicy and Asian are his two favorite things (again *cough, cough* AsianCajun):

Just look at this delicious bibimbap! (I always order bibimbap because I love saying it: bibimbap bibimbap, bibimbap!):

Note the British tea pot, serving not Earl Gray, but Korean brown rice tea!

Deeelicious! Chloe, Cath and Troy, when you visit, we’re going here!

—–

Dear Kitcath,

You are not on skype today. What am I suppose to do without my daily dose of Kitcath?!

Today I walked over to S. Clerk St. from our flat and I totally felt like I was going to see you at your flat. Argh! This city is just not right without you in it.

Also, I bought those pink trousers because of you! I love your pink pants and wanted to have something similar. Now I won’t just blend in with the gray skies here. You should bring your pair when you come to visit and then we can be twinsies.

Miss you so much. GET ON SKYPE!

LOVE,

Larbar


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Beer and Chocolate – Yum!

Some of you might remember this post from June where we talked about being in a pilot for TBS. We even dressed alike-ish:

In June we couldn’t tell you much about it, but now that it’s aired we can spill the beans! The filming was for a new TBS show called Trends With Benefits and we were extras in a beer and chocolate segment at Sugar Coated Radical:

A big thanks to Jonathan for including us in this amazing project and to Ale, Liza, Daniel and Chris for making such a fun afternoon of it!

 

 


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Climbing Arthur’s Seat: I’m Outdoorsy-ish!

Anybody who knows me, knows I’m not outdoorsy. I love nature: the sun, grass between the toesies, beautiful flowers — love that part of nature. I’m less cool with the bugs and the rain and the hard ground, and the peeing in the woods. I can do it, but I’ll be grumpy. I’ve been camping with some great people, and have had a lot of fun, but if I had to choose I would make my s’mores around the campfire and then hightail it to the nearest hotel for the night.

Reason #57 for Why I Love Scotland. Just because you might not think of yourself as outdoorsy doesn’t mean you can’t go hillwalking. You don’t even have to wear proper attire. No one will look at you sideways if you try to scamper up a rainy steep hill in ballet flats (okay, I looked askance at a girl who was doing that — mainly because I was jealous I was wearing big ole hiking boots). Everyone here is “outdoorsy” without being outdoorsy. Little kids, grannies, everyone walks up and down hills… hills that Atlanta Lar would have called mountains.

Hills are unavoidable here, so that might be one reason. But you could skirt around most of them if you tried. Not for these hard walking peeps. They make hillwalking a national pastime. And you can do it with such ease even if you are city slicker.

For instance, this gorgeous dead volcanic mass called Arthur’s Seat is located smack dab in the middle of Edinburgh. Matt and I climbed it our first weekend in town. We waited toward the top for the clouds to clear and — wowza!– gorgeous views of the city for miles and miles.

I’m terribly out of shape (I get out of breath walking up a hill to our local grocery store here), but it’s okay. Here’s another tradition I love about hillwalking. Afterward you reward yourself with a nice strong cuppa and a biscuit (i.e. cookie).

—–

Dear Kitcath,

Remember when we climbed Arthur’s Seat our first day in Edinburgh? I kind of think that’s when we first fell in love with Edi, don’t you? I so wish I could relive that first day with you! I think it’s so funny that mom was so worried about us studying abroad in Spain and falling in love with a Spanish man. Little did she know we would fall with a Scottish… city. Love at first sight, I’d say.

I miss you so much! I’ll have real internets tomorrow (knock wood) – so we can video chat again! YIPPEEEE!!!

LOVE,

Larbar


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Alternative Apparel and a New Haircut

Last time I got my hair cut, Lar and I decided to do the twin thing and get our hair chopped the same length. It was the perfect summer cut, but now that the weather is getting a little cooler I want my hair to grow long again. So on Wednesday I had a microscopic trim and got bangs again!

See the comfy-looking scarf and hoodie I’m wearing in the photo above? Those are courtesy of Alternative Apparel. I went to their Holiday 2011 and Spring 2012 preview party at JCT Kitchen last week. Of course I wouldn’t turn down any invite to a party that promises good fashion and delicious food. What I hadn’t anticipated was all the great people I would get to meet. The Alternative Apparel reps were very friendly and I got to meet a couple of Atlanta bloggers that I’ve been wanting to get in touch with – including Jess of LadyFlashback. We’ve been blogger friends for years and although live in the same city have shamefully never meet until this party.

The Spring 2012 line (above).

It was so inspiring to see how much the Atlanta/LA-based company has evolved in just the past few years. They’ve always taken the quality of their materials very seriously, but now they’re branching out in a more feminine direction.

The fringe shawl from the spring collection and gray tank for the holiday collection both belong in my closet. So many companies brag about being fashionable and comfortable, but I think Alternative Apparel really gets it more than most.

 

I fell in love with their leather bags. I will take all of them, please!

The Alternative gang introduced us to their new magazine, Common Thread. It focuses on creative-types,  community and the people behind the brand. In the inaugural issue Young Blood Boutique, a great indie art boutique in Atlanta, is featured.

 

 


Outfit details: Alternative Apparel hoodie and scarf, Gap tank, Blank cords and AE booties.

One last word on Alternative Apparel, they’ve teamed up with Susan G. Komen for the Cure: for every pink ribbon item you buy, 10% will go towards Susan G. Komen through the end of this year.

 

Dear Lar,

I wish you had been in town to meet LadyFlashback and to get your hands on a super soft hoodie. Also, as you know, the Decatur Craft Beer Festival was this past Saturday. It was so fun to see everyone carrying around glasses with your logo on it. People loved it on the shirts too. It was so popular, all the shirts sold out within 5 hours!

Miss you bunches! I can’t wait until you get real internets so we can video chat again!


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Drinkypoos at Roseleaf: My Type of Pub

I’m starting to believe that the more cups of tea you drink, the more British you become. If that’s the case, I’m about 60-70 bags more British since arriving here 22 days ago. I’ve always liked tea (and love a glass of sweet tea home in Atlanta) so it’s not much of a learning curve. Cath and I were Anglophiles/Scotophiles at an early age thanks to our mom’s proclivity for watching British TV on PBS when we were growing up (if we had had cable, we would have been entirely different people).

So, even though this transition period has been hard (I had quite a mean spurt of blues last night — missing my family and friends), there are so many things that more than make up for it in this lovely country of tea and crumpets and cheery pubs!

Matt and I stumbled upon Roseleaf in Leith our first week in town. You can just make out their green pub sign behind my head in these photos:

Outfit details: Madewell jacket and jeans • thfited blouse • Frye boots • canvas tote from a Japanese mag bought in San Francisco’s Japantown

Now why was Roseleaf such a site-for-weary-traveler’s-eyes?

Well, to start, we didn’t realize it was such a popular place until we stumbled in on a Saturday afternoon and all the tables were reserved. Never fear! The very kind Scottish barman cleared a teeny table for us (below: not our teeny table):

We got to share our perfect-for-two table with a fringed lampshade lamp and these two jolly trash bin (me thinks?) salt and pepper shakers:

We started with some tea/drinky poos:

And then we had a gander at their food menu — oh my!

Can you guess what I got? (Like my subtle highlighting of the menu?) And this is what the Roseleafer looked like in person:

I promise the vegetarian haggis (lower left corner) was delicious especially mixed around with my potato pancake, egg and tomato!

Matt was slightly more reserved than I and went for the potato stack: potato pancakes, bacon, egg — also delicious (and a great suggestion for those who just had a slightly nauseated feeling when reading “vegetarian haggis”):

We no longer live just a few minutes walk from Roseleaf (huge sigh!), but I will journey out there as often as I can. Look they even bring you your bill in an old tobacco tin – loves it!

——-

Dear Kitcath,

I am enamored of your hat, and do want one very much like it. Though I’m still concerned that brimmed hats are wont to blow off heads in Edinburgh’s gales. I actually haven’t seen too many ladies with cute hats on here, and I’m guessing that’s why. Hoods, yes. Umbrellas, yes. Dapper fodoras, non. Will keep you posted.

Also, thanks for trying to cheer me up last night! I ended up going out and buying two mags: British Vogue (Rhianna cover) and a BBC Food Mag. The latter might seem like a strange choice, but I really need to start wrapping my head around British recipes. What does 400 ml of something look like?! Also, it came with a magenta spatula, so I was sold.

Miss you terribly! Will take you guys to Roseleaf when you’re here for Christmas!!! Yipppeees!

xoxoxoxoxo,

Larbar

 


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