Replace Your Elephants and Donkeys with Ponies and Piglets

Sara, Rianne and I calmed our pre-election nerves by taking a trip to Craigies Farm just a few miles outside of Edinburgh. There’s not much growing in November in Scotland, but we were repeatedly urged to visit the “wee piglets” — ooo how I love a Scottish accent! What is cuter than piglets? Wee piglets! Oh and wee ponies.

——

Dear Cath,

Aren’t these ponies so cute?! I want a pony AND a piglet!

Matt and I are so out of it today because of staying up until 5 am this morning to hear the returns. So much good news to go to sleep to ;) : first openly gay senator (also the first female senator in Wisconsin), first female Asian American senator, and more female senators than we’ve ever had in the history of congress. WOOHOO!!!

Can we skype sooooon?!

Piggly Wiggly,

Lar


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A Cozy Pub and A Walk to the Sea

A walk to the charming little seaside village of Cramond via Lauriston Castle, and then a hearty pub lunch by the fire with furry friends.

Hope you guys have a lovely weekend!

——

Dear Cath,

Is there a pub/bar in Decatur where you can take Tobs, Wheatie and Boo to sit by the fire with you whilst you drink your pint? Okay, maybe Toby wouldn’t enjoy the pub scene so much (Gah! Noise! People! Indoors! Sounds!), but I think Wheatie and Boo would revel in it.

Oh and I just realized we’ll both be festivaling this weekend, right? You at the Decatur Wine Festival and me at the Edinburgh Chocolate Festival!!! I’m helping Sara out at her booth Suki Bakes — and by helping, I in no way mean standing with my mouth open under a chocolate fountain. Nope. Not. At. Allll nom nommm. . .

Miss you like mad! Oh, but let the countdown begin… what is it? Six weeks and counting!

xoxoxoxox,

Lar


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Hey Girl, Ryan Gosling Would Eat Here

I have a stressful week coming up and I might be getting a little grumpy about it. Don’t you hate how the grumps sneak up on you on Sunday evenings? You’re having a perfectly lovely weekend and then *Bam!* you turn into Cranky Pants MacGee for — what you think — is no reason. Then you do a few deep breaths in an attempt to harness your inner zen master because you are starting to feel bad at the crankiness seeping out of your pores and onto innocent bystanders (sorry, Matteo!). And because of said Buddha Breathing, you realize the crankiness is stemming from the anxiety you feel about stressful thing X that is happening this week. And somehow that doesn’t make you feel better because X must be done and there’s no wiggling out of it. Gahhh. Sometimes I hate being a grown-up.

So instead of being zen, I’m going to stare at pictures of chocolate cake, kiss my husbando (instead of throwing a tantrum) and revisit the Feminist Ryan Gosling tumblr.

Hope you guys are Sunday/Monday grumps free, but if you aren’t, I strongly recommend that winning triumvirate of chocolate cake, kisses (to yourself works too — maybe even better than unsuspecting husbands), and a heavy dose of feminist menfolk. To be taken twice daily, or until cranky symptoms subside.

—-

Dear Cath,

Don’t you love that sign in the door at The Forest Café in Edinburgh? I don’t think it was open yet when you were here in August, but next time we’ll make sure it’s on the to-do list. It’s a very low-key, vegetarian, artsy mecca run by very nice volunteers (who also are low-key, vegetarian, and artsy).

And I can NOT believe you got to meet the Beekman Boys this weekend! I was pretty sure we would be best friends if we ever met: taking trips up to their gorgeous farmhouse for pumpkin and beetroot soup and goat petting.

Much loves and a little something for your Monday/Tuesday mornings!


Via Feminist Ryan Gosling

xoxoxx,

Lar


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This Farmers Market Has A Castle

I mentioned last week that Matt and I are going to stop taking this living-abroad thing for granted, and soak in all the touristy wonders of Edinburgh until our fingers are pruney. So last week was Roslin, this week is the Edinburgh Farmers Market. You might think ho-hum, Lar, we have organic arugula and overpriced broccoli sprouts too. But do you have a castle looming over your tasty veg and gluten-free-dairy-free muffins?

To impress (or annoy?) people with Edinburgh’s beauty, you can pretty much respond with that question to any statement of fact about other places:

You: Of course, we also have H&M (and Starbucks, and Topshop)!

Me: But is it in the shadow of a large medieval fortress?

You: We also have pretty parks and outdoor cafés.

Me: But is it right next to the dramatic looming cliffs of history?!

You: We have beautiful warm weather and it’s sunny more than 10% of the year!

Me: …. Touché, my friend, touché.

—–

Dear Cath,

I’m so glad we got to skype yesterday! I feel like I haven’t skype-seen you in forever. Did you guys have fun at the concert?

Do you see those muffins in the pictures? They are made by two ladies who own a company called Organically Yours. The coconut muffins are sooo good and they make deeelicious gluten-free and dairy-free cookies too! Now every Saturday morning I wake up and ask Matteo if we can go get gluten-free muffins — that always has him not leaping out of bed at 8 am on Saturday.

Gluten-free Cookiesly Yours,

Lar

 


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I Want To Be A Tourist

It’s strange how when you move to a place, even if it’s beautiful and exotic, it quickly becomes pedantic. Instead of seeing stone oozing with historical significance like I did when I was a tourist in Edinburgh, I now think in terms of distances to Tesco and the post office and how someone inconveniently plonked that medieval castle right in my way! Tsk, tsk, Lar. Tsk, tsk.

Obviously I am in dire need of a cure for my jaded brain in the form of consistent doses of Scottish adventures! So Sunday morning I dragged our grumpy bones out of bed to visit Rosslyn Chapel just seven miles south of Edinburgh.

A little warning when visiting: the chapel has been clobbered with lots of Da Vinci Code brewhaha (according to the book it is the resting place of the Holy Grail). I 100% urge you to ignore any Dan Brown mutterings in your head when you visit and just soak in the beauty of the intricately carved stone-work. It is my all-time favorite chapel. I love the wee size and the expressive carvings of people and flowers. I’d seriously take it over the Sistene Chapel and Sainte Chapelle in Paris. Some people might argue that’s like comparing apples to oranges, but what if you think “this is neither apple nor orange, but an oranapple!” That’s what Rosslyn Chapel is, an oranapple — the most delicious of all fruits.

Right below the tasty touristy chapel, tucked in the wooded glen at it’s feet, is the ruins of Roslin Castle. The original structure is much older than the chapel and it looks like something out of Arthurian legend. Another perk; very few Da Vinci fans give a hoot about the castle, so it’s free (but not far) from the maddening crowds.

Ahhhh it feels so good to be a tourist again! Next up? Edinburgh Farmers Market.

—–

Dear Cath,

Remember when we went to Rosslyn in 2004? I loved, loved, loved the chapel and the quiet rolling hills that surround it. Eight years later and it now has a sizable information center attached to it (with a café!) and the chapel was so crowded Matt and I had to skirt around people muttering about spiritual vibrations they felt in the stone. It’s a very different experience post-Dan Brown. I’m glad more people know about it and the chapel has money to be restored, but it was harder to feel all googly-eyed when you are being elbowed by people looking for a glimpse of the holy grail. There’s something very not holy about that.

That said, next time you are here, I will totally take you back to the town of Roslin so that we can go walk around the old ruins of the castle. It is beeeeyootiful and very quiet (I sound like a cranky old lady waving her cane at the rambunctious young whipper snappers and their guide books).

When is a good day for a skype lunch break? Maybe sometime today after my doctors appointment?

Miss you oooodles and schnoooodles,

Lar

 


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Link Love: American Expats in the UK


Jackie, me and a cup of tea.

Even with its leanings toward soppy weather and an over-abundance of root vegetables, the UK makes me swoon. But a hugmungo downside to moving over here and leaving my family and friends back in the states meant Matt and I were a little isolated and lonely our first few months in Edinburgh. Years before as undergrads studying abroad, we had built-in friends through classes and flatmates. But as an oldie adult in Edinburgh, I spent a lot of time walking to Cath’s flat that she lived in eight years ago when we were students and looking forlornly at the door — willing her to appear. Not the best use of my time or …erm… logic. Also, looking forlorn and crazy is probably not a great way to go about attracting friends … whoops!

But then the magic of the internets happened! AsianCajuns.com must pop up under some Edinburgh/expat searches, and I have now met three other American ladies and their gents because of the blogisphere. Jackie, Rianne and Sara live in Edinburgh too, and write about their adventures as couples living abroad. Ashley, whom I’ve yet to meet in person because she lives in the sunny, “hot” southern tip of this isle, moved to the England to be with her British gent last year.

If you’ve ever dreamed of moving away from home but want to know what it’s really like: the good, the baffling, and the confusing/embarrassing (ex. vocabulary snafus: pants means underwear and napkins mean feminine hygiene products – yipe!), check out these expat blogs below:

Dreams and Happy Things (Edinburgh)

I Will See You In Far Off Places (Brighton)

Kelly Lyfe (Edinburgh)

We Moved to Scotland (Edinburgh)

So tell me, when are YOU guys coming to join us over here? I promise not to feed you too many potatoes. The rain however, is out of my control. Oh, and happy FRIDAY!!!


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Our New Hood in Edinburgh

Here we are in our new alley way hood: Fountainbridge! Upon our return from sunny Greece, we were confronted with stuffing our worldly belongings in boxes and moving out of our lovely flat … and then unpacking and living like this:

Fountainbridge is not as hoity toity as our old neighborhood of Bruntsfield, and our new flat is much teenier and has roughly 105% less charm than our old place. But what it doesn’t have in wood floors and fancy plasterwork, it makes up for in… HEAT! We are so roasty toasty in our new hobbit hole (fewer windows, shorter ceilings) that we are giddy with warmth-induced ebullience! I might even sell my radiator-toasted sweat pants of last winter.

There are a few downsides to this flat apart from the peeling ceiling paint and dung-colored carpet (when I said “less charm” I really meant “none”). The worst offender is the extremely large street lamp attached to our building situated right over our bedroom window. I can read in bed at night without turning any lights on:

Ignore my grumblings though — I love a new place to explore! (Sidenote: Edinburgh is so teeny, this neighborhood abuts our old hood which is a ten minute walk away, so by “explore” I mainly mean “eat at new restaurants.”).

Fountainbridge Fun Facts:

1) Sean Connery was born here (I’m not a fan of his misogynistic leanings, but heyho).

2) The first Wellington boot was made in a Fountainbridge factory (and who is not a fan of wellies?).

3) One of Edinburgh’s meat markets used to be here. It’s now the entrance to the financial district:

And there really is goodness in abundance even if we are sleeping under an interrogation lamp:

We’ve already found our favorite local pub: Lock 25. The food is cheap, but delicious and the bar tender is a lovely man with a red beard:

Speaking of delicious foods, our favorite pho place (Vietnam House) is now 10 minutes closer — perfect for late night take-aways (post Ikea furniture making sessions):

And we are a 8 minute walk away from the heart of the city:

Not too shabby, eh? If you guys are interested to see photos of the charmless flat, do let me know. We are crossing our fingers that the letting agency is going to repaint because the current “decor” is “grease spot” in the kitchen and “large scuffs” in the hallway. Hopefully all to be remedied soon.

—-

Dear Cath,

What do you think of Fountainbridge? I think the neighborhood was “gentrified” in 2009, so it makes sense we avoided it in 2004. The meat market arch hadn’t been refurbished and there weren’t fancy office buildings and new student flats. It’s equivalent to West Side in Atlanta except closer to Tech and further from Star Provisions, if that makes sense. Post “this used to be an empty lot/slums” and pre “now we have overpriced bakeries here.”

Also, let me say it again, I loved your photos from the previous post — you look so beautiful in all the Club Monaco duds and Troy’s directions really worked — who doesn’t want to be that mannequin.

I miss you so very, very much and am staying distracted with flat beautifying so as not to think about it.

Love and Grease Spots,

Lar


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Return to Falko (in Edinburgh)

Ever since Lar wrote about Falko Konditormeister last November, I couldn’t wait to try it out. I was heart-broken when I was in Edinburgh last December and learned that Falko was closed the whole week I was in town for the holidays. Not to worry! When I returned to Edinburgh in August, Falko was open and in full swing.


Michael Stars sunglasses • Lar’s American Eagle shirt • H&M jacket that I left for Lar because she liked it so much • Claire Vivier toteJ.Crew jeans • Dune ballet wedges that Lar gave to me since I liked them so much

I’m so jealous that Matt and Lar live within a one minute walk of this place. It’s the type of place where you could spend all day reading newspapers, sipping your coffee, and munching on buttery pastries while people watching.

 

I ordered this raspberry tart that tasted like a giant linzer cookie and it was as delicious as it looks. My mouth is watering now just thinking about it.

Does this post make you want to start your Monday with a trip to your local bakery/pastry/doughnut shop? I live within walking distance of this place and I’m VERY tempted.

P.S.: Atlantans, make sure to check back tomorrow for a giveaway contest we’re having. It might or might not have something to do with this.

___________

Dearest Lar,

I’m so excited that you’re finally back from Greece! You must be exhausted – and beautifully tan. I know you’re probably slammed with work today, but I can’t wait to see all the gorgeous photos you’re going to post on here.

What was the first thing you did when you got home? Wrap yourself up in a blanket? Since I’m sure Edinburgh is at least 20 degrees colder than Greece. Take a shower? Since you had to shower with zero water pressure for the last week and a half. Jump into bed? Since you got in so late.

Maybe we’ll get a chance to Skype today. Oh, I hope so!

Love, Cath


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Edinburgh: The Voodoo Rooms

After Lar and I went to see Tatyana with some friends in Edinburgh, we stopped by The Voodoo Rooms for some drinks. Apparently Lar had been holding out on me about this place. As soon as we walked in and I saw the amazing ceiling and tufted bar I exclaimed, “This place is wonderful!” To which Lar replied, “Yeah, I’ve been here before.” Oh have you, dear sister? And you didn’t tell me about it? Since when have you not told me about a beautiful place in your adopted hometown? What else have you not told me about?!?!

I can tease Lar like this since she’s still in Greece and won’t be reading this until a week later – too late to defend herself, muwahahahaha!

Needless to say, I loved The Voodoo Rooms. It’s the exact type of place that I always want to go to after a concert/performance/movie – dark, shimmery, fancy cocktails and a cheese platter on the menu. Seriously, give me a glass of wine and a cheese platter and I’m as happy as the day is long. That is until I realize that I’m trying to eat less dairy and drink less alcohol, dang it!

The Voodoo Rooms is actually more than just a bar, it’s a live music venue with FOUR bars. We only hung out in one of the bars, but I believe there was a drag show going on in the other room. Or maybe there were drag queens walking around just for kicks. I was talking to one at the bar (see photo above) and she said something so witty, which I immediately thought I should repeat on this blog and then immediately forgot all about it as soon as I sat back down next to Lar with my drink. Curse my horrible memory!

Do you have a favorite bar you like to go to after a movie/concert? In Atlanta I either go to Leon’s, Apres Diem (if I’ve just seen a movie at Midtown Arts), Cafe Intermezzo (if I’m on that side of town which is rare), or 4th & Swift (they have sticky toffee pudding and a great whiskey selection).

____________

Dearest Lar,

It already feels like you’ve been gone for a month and it’s only been five days! How did you end up at such a luxurious place without wifi?! That’s practically camping in my book. Well, at least I hope it means you’re relaxing and fully enjoying being disconnected from society. I imagine you riding around Hydra on a donkey searching in vain for an internet cafe so you can drop a line to your loving twin sister *ahem*

Always thinking of you,

Cath xoxo


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Water of Leith

Aren’t hidden bits of greenery in cities wonderful? The Water of Leith Walkway is one of those spots in Edinburgh: a dappled oasis in a dessert of stone and asphalt. It’s a 12 mile foot and bike path that follows the Water of Leith through the western neighborhoods of the city.

It runs fairly close to our flat, and we can take it down to the sea, to the sea, to the beautiful sea!

Above: a secret garden. Below: a view of one of the city’s gothicy spires.

When Cath was here we went to the Water of Leith, donned matching hats, had a picnic on the banks of the water, and posed for … erm…chic blogger photos:

Unrelated: at this very moment I’m on a Greek isle (yea for blog post scheduling!) without wifi (eeegads, I’m missing a limb!), but I promise to take lots of photos of what is sure to be a dreamy place.

While I was working in the states I took two vacations in six years and one of them was my honeymoon. So two vacations in the span of six weeks is blowing my mind a bit. But when I’m not looking bewilderingly at sun and warm beaches, I’ll be mentally blowing kisses your way.

—-

Dear Cath,

How’s your week going? (You’ll have to respond telepathically unless I’ve found an internet café via donkey). I never imagined myself on a Greek isle, but if I had, it would have been with you in tow too. As beautiful as this place is (sure to be), I’d take Ocean City, Maryland with my twinie any day, rather than an exotic locale without.

Miss you so very much!

Donkeys and ouzo-ly yours,

Lar

 


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