Hand-me-down

hand-me-down

Dear Cath

Do you recognize this dress?

Because it was Alison’s, I call it my teacher-with-an-edge dress (readers, Alison is an awesome primary school teacher at a charter school in a low socio-economic area of Atlanta —  coincidentally where Matt and I used to live!). I wear it roughly once a week — usually with tights and a coat (that pic above is a lie — bare legs in Scotland? Ha!).

I feel like hand-me-down clothing is just another component to the ethical clothing supply. I’ve bought a few new pieces this year, but I’m still trying to be fairly conscientious about the amount I buy and where it’s sourced from. And this dress was not only recycled, but received from such a lovely person that I feel happier when I wear it than if I had bought it new.

I still remember the thrill of getting cool-cousin-Genn’s hand-me-downs: all those 90s Betsey Johnson dresses and random assortment of jackets and tanks. Thinking about it now, a large part of our wardrobe growing up was probably hand-me-downs. We couldn’t afford to do much shopping so we took what we could get.

It’s tricky not to be snagged by the siren song of the high street shops — especially when the seasons change. New coats, new boots, fuzzy sweaters, faux fur jackets, gloves! So I’m constantly looking for inspiration to fight the urge to run into Zara and buy everything that looks furry or glitters: enter We Make It Last.

we-make-it-last
Photo via WeMakeItLast

It’s a digital magazine all about sustainable clothing and style. One of my favorite fashion bloggers (see above) now blogs on the site, which equals double the amount of inspiration. It really helps to see a community that you admire trying to curb their consumerism and doing it with ingenuity and beauty.

So I’m going to keep trying to ignore the glittery enticement of over-shopping this holiday season (for myself and others). I know this will be a challenge, especially when all the festivities start. There’s less time to make things or source things properly and you easily get caught up in the frenetic energy of the season — so easy to shop and eat and shop and eat. I’ll let you know if I avoid any of that. (Considering make next post to you is all about food, I’m probably not off to a great start ;D).

I hope this post helps you, Cath! I know it will be hard to not spend money so you can save up for your endometriosis surgery. And especially when you are stressed with work and school and thinking about saving money, the last thing you want to do is … save money. But I’ll be with you every step of the way.

Love you more than that velvet Betsey Johnson hand-me-down dress from 1995!

Lar

 


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Sometimes Edinburgh feels like Italy

lunch al fresco

Dear Cath

You know how I was just bemoaning the fact that Edinburgh can be so miserably oppressive in the winter? Well, the last few weeks have been amazing. I mean, it rains a lot and we have gray days, but it’s not been cruel, ruthlessly windy and cold. And it’s the end of October!

In fact today is windy and rainy, but it’s warm-ish. And it feels wooonderful. And last weekend we actually sat outside in the sun for lunch. Our first summer in Scotland we couldn’t do that once. In summer.

Matt and I have been even more wary of this approaching winter because we won’t have our usual reprieve in Atlanta for Christmas. I don’t like thinking about not being together, but my fingers and toes are crossed that this will be the first and last time we spend the holidays apart. And in the meantime I’m sorry you’ll have to hear me give you constant Scottish weather reports.

Winter closing in isn’t all bad though. I love the drama of the light at this time of the year. As the sun makes it’s slow descent, the angle of the light is so intense. Yesterday I went strolling through Princes Street Gardens and up Castle rock just as the sun was setting behind the castle. Soon that will be happening at around 2:30 or 3pm, but for now it’s still at a reasonable 5:30pm and looks beautiful.

tree train edinburgh fall light

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend and are getting a touch of autumn in Atlanta. Can’t wait to chat later today!

xoxoxox,

Lar

 

 


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Saturday Morning Round-up

twin-westies

Dear Cath

I think that shot above is you and me in our most Scottish form: wee Westie twinsies with matching tartan collars!

Sorry I’ve been MIA for weeks. I blame it on Edinburgh. We (Edinburgh and myself) basically hibernate in the winter and then come summer and Festival time the City explodes (I don’t explode but I do get over stimulated — fireworks, sun, food, people! Gah!). There’s food stalls and musicians and tourists galore. I’ll have to tell you more about Alex and Dexin’s visit to Edinburgh in the next postie, but I just wanted to give you a general catch-up here before Matt and I leave to go back to the states … IN A WEEK!!!

First up: Thank youuuu for the lovely tee for our bday– I loves it so!

tea-toast-tee

With all the tempting food markets popping up because of the Festival, I’ve gone way off the diet. Exhibit A: Banh mi. Exhibit B: dumplings (bread, cheese, spinach, butter sauce, yum) from Austria:

banh-mi aplines

Sara and I visited the Scottish Parliament a few weeks ago. I know the building is controversial but the architecture totally grows on you. I prefer this to where Congress hobnob:

scottish-parliament

We were at Parliament to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland. It was amazing and incredibly long, covering centuries of Scottish History from this guy (Edward perhaps? Nervous nilly, that one — or maybe he just needed the loo):

Scotland-tapesty

To your favourite Tunnock’s Teacakes:

tunnocks-teacakes

See, this is Matt and I not hibernating. It’s sunny. It’s Festival time. Let’s be paper dolls:

matt-and-lar-festival

And a teaser for the next post with Alex and Dexin … they brought me this beautiful Tyrolean hat from Munich!

(Sheesh I hate taking selfies):

german-hat

I’m worried this last week here might get quite busy and then we won’t be in Atlanta for another two weeks yet — so I’ll try to get another post out so it still feels like you are hearing from me.

I miss you ooodles, but I can’t believe I will see you in 15 days. 15 DAYS!!!!

Love you like Westies love tartan,

Lar

 


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London Round-up

Brick-lane

Dear Cath,

I want you to feel like you were there with us, but I hope that doesn’t mean you’ll get finger-scrolling-itis — there are an excessive amount of photos in this one. It’s the only way it can be done.

London: 2 weeks ago
Your first full morning in town, you wake up and head to Brick Lane with us. It’s a gloriously sunny and warm day in east London (yes, London!) and the marketeers are just tying their tarps to metal poles and unpacking their wares: everything from cutsey dresses to tangles of wires to vinyl and chipped tea cups.

We were so early we made it before all the amazing food had fully started bubbling away in their shallow cast iron pots: thai curries mingled next to tacos who rubbed shoulders with samosas. But before we get ahead of ourselves … breakfast.

Beigel Bake. Open 24 hours. Cheap as chips and delicious as any self-respecting New York bagel would be. We got cream cheese and smoked salmon on ours. It wasn’t fancy — just served wrapped in a napkin. We ate ours blinking under the florescent lights (even on a sunny day in London, it doesn’t mean you turn those off):

Beigel bake

There are a lot of bricks in Brick Lane:

Brick lane luncheonette

Next up, let’s go across the water (Thames not Channel) and visit the Tate Modern. Matisse’s cutouts are on view!

Tate Matisse Cut Outs

(I took this pic before I realised we weren’t allowed. Don’t you love Matisse’s handwriting for his Jazz book? He made it purposefully large to match the curvy robustness of his dynamic paper shapes:

Matissies

We didn’t just stick to Matisse though. I wanted to see some of the permanent collection too. I’ve never heard of Chen Zen, but I loved this piece by him called Cocon du Vide. It’s an oriental chair (like the ones we had in our living room growing up — French Horn seat!) with a cage of abacus and rosary beads woven above it. I know it’s a bit cage-like, but instead of feeling trapped it makes me feel safe (says the semi-agoraphob):

Cocon-du-vide

Matisse and Zhen were not at all contemporaries (and not connected in the Tate) but both of them worked while very ill. Zhen had terminal cancer and Matisse was recovering from a very difficult surgery after being diagnosed with colon cancer in the 50s. I wonder if art was a solace for them or an absolute necessity in dealing with illness. One to ponder.

Pondering make you peckish? Why don’t we stop by for some lunch while we rub elbows with some overpriced designer handbags? To Harrods’ Food Hall!

Harrods sandwich

To work off all our salmon and watercrest, I think we should probably (window) shop. How does Liberty sound?

Liberty

Liberty-london

I love how Tudor-y the facade is and all the displays on the inside! I managed to drag myself away with just one delicious smelling (£6 gulp!) bar of soap. It smells like heaven. Citrus, Italian, heaven. Anything strike your fancy? It’s not really our style, but I think the bits and bobs we picked for Mom are right up her alley.

Ooops! Too much dawdling we’ll be late for our appearance in Covent Garden. To the the-a-tah! (Such lovely lighting London has after a fresh washing in the evening):

Covent-Gardeny

Did you remember your opera glasses? Being in the nose bleeds, they will be absolutely necessary to see Thomas Cromwell rise to power (and Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn circle around each other in Tudor fashion):

Opera glasses

Tomorrow morning! (You’re not tired, are you?). As we know we’ll be eating and eating and eating again, shall we start with good intentions? Expensive green juice at the juice bar just a few blocks from our flat? Alkalize away (because this ends with cronuts)!

Green juice london

A delicious appetizer to Borough Market, just a jaunt to the southern end of London Bridge:

borough-market

We might have had some curry and cookies and brownies (no photographic evidence on blog means calories unconsumed). Back north for some more (window) shopping (I really am trying to consume just with my eyes — and mouth — and not with my wallet) on Carnaby Street:

Carnaby street

Phew! Now that’s out of the way, there might, I say might, be some more eating in store (not all in one afternoon, I promise). It wasn’t all dangerously heart-clogging. One lunch I actually stuck to my endo diet and had this lovely salad plate from (ironically) Pan Quotidian:

clean salad

And we went to one of London’s best pizza places (and my favorite pizza ever), Homeslice Pizza, with Gracie and Nicolas. This one was zucchini and deliciousness:

Home-slice-pizza

But by far my most favorite eating all weekend was Chinatown — the street food. We got the most delicious char sui baos I’ve ever had — and they were vegetable! Usually I think the pork is the only way to go (and you know I don’t like pork) but these veggie ones were the bees knees:

char-sui-bao

Right next to char sui bao heaven was what looked like a teeny savory crepe stand. I couldn’t read most of the menu but there was something that said “Pancake + crispy + Egg” so we got that. Here’s how it went down: lady ladles out pancake batter on the crepe cooker plate, while it cooks she breaks a raw egg on top and scrambles it around so it cooks and then sprinkles on green onion and cilantro. Flip. This side gets some hoisin sauce and duck sauce with a bit of chili. And then the crispy. Which is exactly that: layers of crispy (wanton dough?) goes on top of the sauces and then everything gets folded up into a neat pocket for you to munch while walking to lunch (bibimbap, to be exact):

Chinatown pancake

Chinatown-street-food

Before we hop on the train back to Edinburgh (a place that now seems sorely lacking in abundance of constant foodstuff variety), let’s stop by a French bakery and get some cronuts (or crodoughs as they were called). We’ll take them to Bloomsbury Square to sit on a bench and digest — all our meals and trip well spent, me thinks:

crodoughs

Pan-de-pie-london

The end!

Do you feel like you were right there with us and are now too stuffed to eat dinner? Fun had by all, but so wish you were there! Can you believe the last time we were there together was 11 years ago? Criminal, that is.

Love you like Cripsy loves Egg,

Lar


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Londontown: Where we stayed

The Thames

Dear Cath,

Oooh lala isn’t she beautiful? This pic above is from a few days into our trip but I wanted to give you a nice opener to London: sun, the Thames, standing on the South bank, eying St. Paul’s.

When we first alighted from our train however, she wasn’t so very well behaved. Five minutes after leaving Euston Station, the skies opened up and monsooned (is that not a verb?). Heavy, heavy rain that lasted about 45 minutes and laughed in the face of our water repellent jackets and dashed under everyone’s umbrellas. We took refuge in a doorway and waited it out with our fellow drenched Londoners. The pic below doesn’t do justice to how sodden we felt (duck face is misleading as ducks like water):

London rain

We airbnb-ed it this drip. Not cheap right in the heart of Covent Garden, but totally worth it and best birthday prezie (would have been best ever if you were with us!). In the photo below do you see the dormer widows peaking out on the roof? That’s our wee flat! Just a studio, but with a nice little kitchen and bathroom. Oh and 4 windy flights of stairs to mount every evening when we got back home:

Monmouth Shaftsbury

This is the main room with the stairs/ladder up to the sleeping loft. Just enough room for a table and chairs — no sofa, but lovely windows on all three sides:

Air-bnb

Our views looked right down at Monmouth Street and Shaftsbury Avenue and across to Neal’s Yard and then the Royal Opera House in the not-to-far distance. At night the trees’ sparkly lights would come on — it was so lovely and not at all noisy even with the hustle and bustle below because we were up so high. Our Edinburgh flat is way noisier.

Covent-Garden-flat

Below is a pic of Monmouth: lots of cute shops and coffee places and the best pizza I’ve ever had at al place called Homeslice. We would go to Monmouth Coffee in the morning and sit on the bench and people watch: mustaches, waistcoats, man buns (shaved head except for the top which is bunned), well-dressed cyclists, way more summery clothes than you could ever get away with in Edinburgh:

Monmouth-street

Another perk to our teeny “lofty” flat? We had access to the roof via the kitchen window. The last morning there, we crawled out we ate breakfast perched between the eaves. After posing for numerous selfies and shoveling oatmeal down my gullet, I looked across to the office building next to us and someone was waving. I scurried back in the window after that:

rooftop Lar rooftop

I know you guys are all worried we will run away to London and never come home, but as much as London is my favorite city in all the world (or at least the small bit I’ve been to), it doesn’t have you guys in it. That outweighs Old Smokey by a couple tons.

4 weeks until I see you!!!

Love you infinity more than I love London,

Lar


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Yes, Naw, Mibbe

edinburgh-castle-spring

pink-skirt

yes-scotland

no-scotland

Dear Cath,

Scottish independence. Matt and I can’t vote, but we do feel lucky to be here during such a momentous decision for the country (“How many countries are in this country?”). We’ve both waffled back and forth over the issue. I do think Scotland needs much more equitable representation than it currently has in Westminster, but I wholly understand the economic fears people have of becoming independent.

And a much more superficial mibbe? These fuglies I’m wearing in the two top photos. I needed another pair of flats to wear around town as heels still kind of tug on my surgery sites (weirdest explanation for wearing flats ever? “I can’t, it hurts my left ovary.” Sure.). I came upon these buckled, pointy soles and thought Yes. Yes, I must have those. I’m not sure if they really work, but I still enjoy pairing them with girly things (i.e. pink, lace skirts — do you still have your navy version?). What do you say? Yes, naw, mibbe?

Love you more than JK loves togetherness,

Lar


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Shopbop Haul

Dear Cath,

Hauling (a la YouTube terminology) seems like a very anti-ethical shopping activity: buying lots of stuff and then showing it to you, so that you want to buy lots of stuff. So maybe this is more of an anti-haul: only three items and all consciously chosen because they are made in the US and not bought on a whim. (Maybe most hauling is well-thought purchases and am just being judge-y. Tell me if so. Also, maybe being a hypocrite because still buying things I like rather than absolutely need isn’t height of ethical consumerism).

Without further ado (i.e. ramblings):

The item I’m most excited about is this Vera Wang mini dress from the Born Free line that supports the end of mother-to-child HIV transmission by December 2015. I feel so uneducated about HIV transmission — I didn’t realise 1 pill a day is all that was needed to provide a child with a life without HIV. It seems woeful that if that’s the case, mother to child transmission isn’t eradicated already.

born-free-vera-wang

(Note: poor reviews owing to fact that dress is more like tunic rather than dress. Plan to wear with black skirt in order to avoid undesirable bum exposure).

The next two purchases aren’t nearly as philanthropic but still made in the U.S.

I needed a going-out top (have worn pleather dress to ever night-out for past two years), but I really dislike anything too clingy or that requires body tape or specific bra selection. I think the lower backs of men and women lovely/handsome  and more seductive than cleavage (she says because she has none) and this shirt makes me and Ingres happy:

oak-top

(Unlike Ingres’ lady, I will not be showing side-boob just bare lumbar. Will not attempt turban).

Lastly, a long gold-plated necklace by Kristen Elspeth:

kristen-elspeth-necklace

It’s hard to tell but the long metal bar is actually a gold porcupine quill. Much of Elspeth’s designs are influenced by Native American art: hence the quill which represents trust, innocence, invincibility, intelligence, and are symbols of protection from dark spirits. I’ll take it!

So that was a bit haul-like after all, wasn’t it? I really am still trying to be less of an avaricious consumer — more of a nibbler. To prepare for abundance of items purchased, I packed off a few things to Salvation Army yesterday. Must commence nibbling.

What about you? Are you house hauling? Can’t wait to hear all your decorating/nesting plans. I promise it won’t make me feel the need to buy more things for my flat — we have no where to put anything: all 500 sq ft accounted for.

Love you like Ingres loves vertebrae,

Lar

p.s. Readers, Shopbop is one of our blog affiliates, but this is in no way a sponsored posts, just a way for Cath to keep up with what I bought. We usually share with each other over email, but I thought I’d try it by post this time.


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Cheese, Grommit, cheese!

cheese

Dear Cath,

I received a lovely hamper from Harrod’s last week* — a cheese gift set hamper! Really, this should be your hamper because you are cheese and I am chocolate, but I will do my best to share it with you via the blogisphere.

The hamper is everything you need for fancy cheese eating (or cheddar-only cheese eating ;)): olive oil crackers, two different types of olives, an onion relish, a cheese scoop (I didn’t even know such a thing existed!) and three serious-business (technical fromage terminology) cheese knives:

harrods-cheese-gift-set

The past couple of years I’ve mostly cut dairy out of my diet, but I thought getting this hamper was a perfect excuse to be momentarily adventurous with my cheese eating. A fromagey treat that would make me less scared of wooly looking cheese rounds that smell of feet.

Matteo and I headed to our local cheese monger (do you remember I.J. Mellis on Victoria St?) so that we could choose some cheeses that would show proper respect to the Harrods’ hamper.

i-j-mellis-cheese

It’s a lovely cool, bitty shop stacked full of cheese wheels. If I were a mouse, this is what heaven would look like:

edinburgh-cheese

From a previous stop to the cheese monger (I love that people still monger here!), we know we aren’t up to the task for enjoying kick-in-the-teeth pungent cheese. We looked for smoked cheeses or cheddars and kept it all Scottish. I wish I were brave enough to say we tried this Dorstone, but it’s the stuff of (cheese) nightmares in my book:

dorstone-cheese   

harrods-cheese

Instead we ended up with four wedges of fairly safe but incredibly tasty cheeses: a Scottish brie, Auld Reekie (yes, named for Edinburgh and indeed reekie), Orkney Grimbister that was a bit like Wensleydale (cheese, Grommit, cheese!) and my favourite, a smokey mature yellow cheese called Old Lochnagar.

Matt and I packed up our hamper and fancy cheese and headed to the Meadows for a wee picnic with friends:

picnic-meadoes

I felt rather unsophisticated as I didn’t know which knife to use for what and I ended up using the cheese scoop for our onion relish, but in the end it was all delicious.

cheese-knives

Might I recommend the Ornkey Grimbister and red onion relish on top of a dense olive oil cracker? Deeelicious!

cheese-pickle

We also had these olives to go with our cheese chomping. They are the closest thing that I’ve tasted since those beautiful olives we had in Italy last year (my, that does sound pretentious doesn’t it? I feel the cheese knives would approve).

harrods-olives

Because we won’t be eating much cheese here in the future (back to no dairy again once I finish that Old Lochnagar wedge sitting in the fridge), the cheese knives are coming home with me in August to be christened by you and Troy in your new house!

I’ve also googled cheese knives and can now instruct you that the cheese cleaver will be best for your mature cheddar predilections. So be ready in August with a mound of cheese. I can’t wait to eat some olives and cheddar with you on YOUR deck in YOUR house! Please, please, please take lots of pics — yes even ones full of moving boxes. I feel heart broken not being there with you — and not all the fancy cheese in the world can make up for that!

Love you like onion relish loves Wenslydale,

Lar

*p.s. Dear readers, this is not a sponsored post, but I was gifted the lovely hamper basket by a PR firm that works with Harrods. If you do like these hamper posts, I received a girly non-cheese hamper last year which you can read about here.


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Short and Sweet Sunday

marys-milk-bar

Dear Cath,

Some weekends in Edinburgh are perfect. The sun shines for some of the day and the clouds scuttle across the sky fast enough to catch glimpses of blue. And some days I don’t have to wear a jacket the entire day, and it even gets warm enough to eat raspberry and strawberry black pepper sorbet outside (with jacket back on, of course)!

Those are the days for strolling around leisurely and gazing up at trees like this one which looks like someone has festooned teeny yellow lanterns all over it’s elegant boughs:

yellow-tree

long-grey-dress

The only thing missing on these glorious weekend days, is you, of course (that’s my looking-for-Cath face in the photo above)!

Love you like strawberry and pepper,

Lar


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Calton Hill

calton-hill-1

little-white-dress

white-lace

calton-hill-2

calton-hill-observatory edinburgh-calton-hill

Dear Cath,

It was sunny yesterday! And it was warm enough to not wear a jacket (some of the time). And it was a Saturday so we got to wiggle our toes in the sun instead of wiggling our fingers by the glow of the computer. AND it was the first day of the Edinburgh trams (public transport post to come soon — exciting!). It was almost too much for one day: like eating an entire cake and washing it down with a milk shake with a side of french fries.

Do you know what the icing was to my chocolate cake? A new dress. I’ve never been one for wearing white — at least I can’t usually do it confidently without flenching at all foods on the way from plate to mouth or sit on anything convenient like a bench or stone wall. But a little white dress is so tempting when the blossoms are nodding their head in encouragement and the sun is beaming down at you. A little black dress just doesn’t feel like it does justice to such supportive spring-time offerings. So I bucked up the courage, bought this mini from H&M (sadly, not the Conscious Collection) and even sat on some outdoor stone steps … with impunity.

——-

Have you ever been up Calton Hill? I don’t remember ever going as students. Matt and I rarely go as it’s across town for us, but what a lovely place. Gorgeous views of town after just five minutes of huffing and puffing up a hill (rather than the 30 up Arthur’s Seat). There was an artist up there doing watercolours and tourists taking selfies. And the most exciting thing of all, the Collective. It’s an art collective that is turning all the observatory space into exhibition space that’s free and open to the public.

Art for all, gorgeous views, a wee snack bar that sells home made goodies: Calton Hill is my new favourite daytime Edinburgh haunt.

Oh also, apologies for the rough scribbles on the photos. I’m trying out the drawing tablet Chris got me for Christmas. It’s way harder than Garance Doré makes it look.

This week will be a long one because Matt’s away for a conference. Want to skype during the week?! I’ll probably blog more too so I can distract myself from missing him (while he eats his way through all of the chocolate in Belgium-nomnomnom). More importantly, as a dedicated public administrator of urban spaces, I feel it’s my duty to give you a more detailed account of Edinburgh’s trams.

Love you like lace loves white,

Lar

 


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