An Outfit Post!

Denim-shirt

kick

Shirt H&M (old) | Leggings Marks & Spencer | Shoes Ferragamo

I don’t usually do outift posts anymore. Cath still inspires me with her style posts, but I honestly seem to wear about the same five basic outfits … mainly centred around stretchy trousers.

There are a few reasons for my sartorial shrinkage. Around the time I moved to Scotland four years ago, I really cut back on my shopping. Part of that was just down to having very limited funds after an overseas move (costly things, they are!). I had also started researching how horrendous working conditions are for many of the people who make our mass-produced clothes. I wanted to be more aware of all the stuff I had and think about where my clothes were coming from.

So with all of that, my outfits have become really boring the last few years. And I’m not saying that needs to happen if you start caring about the ethics and environmental effects of your shopping habits, but it did to me. I just really had a lot less interest in having lots of different looks and more interest in buying fewer, higher quality pieces (hence the spendy shoes above — the most expensive items in my closet by far).

I’d love to strike a better balance again where I could be a bit more creative with my style, but still keep my consumer habits humbled. I think these more frugal years in Scotland were an important stage in finding that style and learning about what I could do without very much. My secret hope too is that when we move to Seattle in September, I’ll be able to wear fewer layers year-round than I do here (my next post is all about how I’m still wearing a coat … in the summer — egads, someone pass the vitamin D bottle!).

How do you guys approach the complexities of personal style and consumption?


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Sunbathing on a Scottish Beach

bathingroomsNorth-Berwick-ScotlandNorth-Berwickseaside-doorsLobsterruins savoury-muffin beach-chairs by-the-sea  beach-yogi

This past weekend Matt and I took a short train ride east to North Berwick, a lovely little Scottish seaside town. Edinburgh is right on the sea too, but we don’t have a beach and I miss the susurration of waves lapping the sand.

But you can’t be picky when you’re in Scotland. Going to the beach usually means being an intrepid toe-dipper or agreeing to sunbathe in layers — yes, even in spring (and summer!).

We had a beautiful sunny day, but it was wiiiindy! And I shed my winter coat momentarily to take some pics, but generally I was bundled up tight while my hair whipped around my head and I tried not to get it in my butter garlic lobster dipping sauce. A hard life, I know.

Ahhh to be by the sea!

 


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Where are my stretchy pants?

Jeans
H&M jacket | (5 yo) Madewell jeans | Cos booties | Baggu leather tote

I’m in a transition phase at the moment. I love a good pair of jeans — nothing revolutionary there — but I’m a little jean-shy these days.

Ever since my first endo surgery almost two years ago, I’ve been a massive fan of leggings because… they are stretchy! Going through two invasive pelvic surgeries in the span of six months meant that anything with a non-spandexy waistband, got shoved to the back of my closet.

It’s now been almost a year and a half since I had my second surgery and I still wear jeans only on occasion. That photo above is from this past weekend. I’d like to say I was contemplating the qualities of suspended flight, but I was actually thinking “oy this waist band needs some elastic in it.” Seriously, I’d love to dress like a five year old all the time: flowy dresses or elastic-waisted trousers. Sounds amazing.

But I’m trying to wear jeans again just because I think part of my hang-up is mental. Leggings have kind of become a comfort blanket to me. And comfort blankets have a purpose, but it’s good to leave them at home once and a while.

Or maybe I’ll just become a yoga teacher and then I can wear my comfy trousers all day long!

jeans2


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Summer time?

sweater weather
Necklace Novica | top H&M | leggings M&S | boots Cos | bag Fjallraven

So you know how last week Cath was complaining about how hot it was in Atlanta? Well, I was super jelly. I mean, even though I vaguely remember those swelteringly humid days that made it hard for your lungs to work, I can’t help thinking summer heat is amazing! And I know I’m just saying that because I live some place that doesn’t really do summer.

I’m still wearing long sleeves and trousers and a coat most days. The only difference between my spring wardrobe and my full-on winter wardrobe is I allow for a generous amount of ankle sliver (see pic above) and I don’t wear a scarf or gloves with my coat.

If you are a sweater-weather fan, Scotland is the place for you. Our winters aren’t too cold (but boy are they long and dark) and you can wear layers year round. Yes, year round! Summer is jacket-weather except for those few blissful days (and I mean days, not weeks) where the heat breaks just over 70 degrees … and even then you’ll probably need a jacket at some point because it does still cool down at night.

I’m sure that all must sound heavenly to you guys fighting it out in the heat right now. And I do feel incredibly lucky to live in a beautiful city where even cockroaches don’t dare to tread. I know I will miss this stoney, shadowy silhouette of Edinburgh when I’m living in the freshly scrubbed Pacific Northwest. I will romanticise Scottish rain (because it’s totally different to Seattle rain) and I’ll miss the history and the stoic dreichness of this beautiful place. But, in the meantime, I miss the heat and the sun and the lack of a true summer.

Billy Connelly was so right when he said, “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter.”  And when he says “June” he means “kind of Spring, but not even.”

Good luck with whichever weather you are facing now: sweater or sweat-er. And tell me how you’re coping!


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KonMari Your Purse

purse

Dear Cath

You know how last fall I KonMari Method-ed our flat? Well, that Marie Kondo did not lie about her tidying magic. Our flat still stays tidy most of the time. It doesn’t mean I don’t have to put things away — there always seems to be mail sitting on the coffee table or a lone sock sqiuggling its way free of the laundry basket. But the difference is that now there is a place for it all to be put away. And it feels so satisfying! That leads me to this KonMari suggestion:

rule1

I was so resistant to this idea when I first read her book. I thought, “Marie, I’m with you on the getting rid of stuff and the tidying and the empathizing with your socks, but I draw the line at emptying out my purse every night!” My logic was that I need the same stuff in my purse almost every single day: wallet, lippie, tissues, phone, etc. That never changes so why should I just move that stuff around from one spot to another. That just sounded like one more thing I had to do every night after a long day at work.

But even with all my reasoning, I caved and listened to Marie because she was so right about everything else (my socks feel so happy now — I know it!). But I still felt a little grumpy about the whole thing. Come home, hang up coat, and unpack purse.

But the thing is, she was right. I didn’t realise how much extra stuff I accumulated in my purse day-to-day. Even though I’ve always carried a big purse, I always told myself I knew what was in there. Lies, lies! There are those extra bobby pins hiding in the inner pocket and those crunched up receipts that provide a nice crinkly cushion to my wallet. And the worst culprit? That junior mint that snuck out of its box at the movies and got cozy with the bottom of my purse (and everything else within reach of its deliciously minty gooey centre — curses!).

Now that I empty my purse every night, I never forget things that I need that day (and have never had another junior mint episode). I thought the opposite would happen because I used to like to pack my bag at night so in the morning I wouldn’t have to think about what goes in it. Turns out, thinking about it in the morning is better — I’ve never forgotten anything yet. How does this never-forgetting-magic work? Enter: the purse box:

Kon Mari purse organizing

Because this is the KonMari method, you need a dedicated place to put all your purse items. Marie suggests having a shoe box in your chest-of-drawers or on a shelf. I keep mine next to my sock box in a drawer (yes, a sock box). This felt so weird when I first started doing it, but now I can’t imagine not having a purse box. Here’s what it looks like in said drawer (note tidy method sock-folding still intact after 5 months of beginning KonMari):

Kon Mari purse

You’ll notice that my purse items consist of smaller bags. Cath, I learned that from you! I put extra bits like eyedrops, lipstick, bobby pins and perfume. That makes it so much easier to take things out every night: keeping things together in smaller bags.

rule2

I’ve used the silver Claire Vivier pouch that you gave me for years — it’s the perfect size.

Kon Mari AsianCajuns

Oh and this is my new Baggu tote I got a few weeks ago. I love it! Made in the USA with leather sourced in Argentina, it’s like buttah! It’s the perfect size and I don’t actually lose things at the bottom. The straps are the perfect length to swing on your arm without worrying about it catching on your elbow (that should have a name — the elbow swing test).

I know to some people all this tidying sounds extreme, but it has really helped me stay on top of my clutter in my house and in my purse. I feel less frantic living with less clutter. Overall, whenever I follow any of Marie Kondo’s tips, even if they sound silly or extreme at first, I feel much calmer once they are in place and I’ve gotten used to the weirdness of them.

Love you more than Marie Kondo loves reused shoe boxes!

Lar


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Hair-story: kinda wavy to kinda curly

curly hair

Dear Readers,

You know that hair the “it” girls have these days? It’s fairly straight with just a hint of wave and volume in just the right places? It’s the key to the insouciant off-duty model style and somehow seems bedheady without even a whiff of frizz.

That is the opposite of what my hair does.

Cath and I have had very thick, slightly wavy hair since we were about 13. Like most people, our hair texture changed when we hit puberty. As wee lassies we had very long, straight hair. I’ve always liked the bit of wave I got once I was older, but I usually would blow dry and straighten it to kill the frizz and not have to worry about the volume getting out of control.

About two to three years ago I noticed my hair was getting dryer and my trusty hair straightener wasn’t taming the fly-aways like it used to. I blamed it on the Scottish water and Scottish wind (when in doubt, blame the weather!) because I figured moving from Atlanta to a place with a considerably different climate would wreck any girls usual hair routine.

I persevered though — more heat! More oils! More hair masks! And still I had a halo of frizz that seemed to get more, not less, tenacious. I also started to notice my hair curling in loose tendrils instead of just “S” waves when I would give my hair a break from heat tools.

The past three weeks I’ve put my blowdryer and straightener away to see what my hair would do left to its own devices. And by “left to its own devices” I mean I googled “how to style curly hair” daily to figure out what to do with this frizzy lion’s mane. And, man, does it want to curl.

This hair story probably sounds really undramatic, but having your hair change is a bit mind-blowing. At times when I look down at my curls I feel like I’m wearing a wig — that’s not my hairs! I send Cath constant texts with pictures of the status of my hair: day two, less frizz, slept with it in a pineapple (I had never heard of pinappling hair before last week). It’s just a bizarre experience that I feel compelled to share with the one person who not only knows me so well, but also used to share my exact same hair.

That’s what makes it even more bizarre — my genetic identical no longer looks like me. Cath’s hair waves but doesn’t curl, and it looks way more slick when she straightens it.

So using Cath as a constant, I think we can say my hair change is environmental, not biological or at least not congenitally biological. I do live on a different continent and eat a different diet from Cath. I changed my diet (mainly vegan and tons more green stuff) drastically when I moved over here three years ago. My endometriosis was also getting much more severe (and was much more severe than Cath’s is now, thank goodness!). So maybe diet and hormones are having their say (Curly! Curly! Curly!).

Quite honestly, a year and a half ago when I was hospitalised because of the complications I had from endo, I thought the stress and the pain of the experience would change my hair. I was expecting a lot of it to fall out (and it did thin out for a while) and/or maybe even go grey. Curly was not on the list of things I thought might happen.

And I do kind of like to think that all that’s happened: the good (beautiful Scotland) and the bad (hospital stays) and the different (I wasn’t even vegetarian before I went vegan) maybe all contributed to this change.

So the question is, have you guys had this experience? Or have your friends? There’s been very little scientific research about this (I know because I’ve been a-Googlin’ like crazy) so it’s great to talk to other women and hear their “hair-story.” I’d love to hear yours!

Xoxox and curls,

Lar

p.s. Cath, I hope you aren’t getting sick of hearing about my hair bafflement! I promise I’ll start culling the curly hair What’s App pics.

 


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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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