Exploring Lindisfarne Castle

Lar-lindasfarne

Dear Cath,

Are you ready? This is gonna be a long ‘ne — lots of piccies. Get your scrolly finger limber and settle in with a cuppa. Oh wait, you probably don’t want hot steamy tea in Atlanta at this point, do you? Iced soy latte then?

We are house museum people through and through, aren’t we? Remember one of our very first AsianCajun posts? House museums make me giddy. I think it’s all the historical voyeurism. What did they eat, draw, listen to, see? Lindisfarne Castle, run by the National Trust, totally scratched all the nosy itches. You would love it! But since you weren’t there, I’ll take you! Step-by-step through this post:

Lindasfarne-Castle-view

Firstly, it’s located on Lindisfarne (aka Holy Island) just off the north eastern coast of England — spitting distance to Scotland. It’s a lovely walk from the village of Lindisfarne to the castle rock (see below). It sits in the midst of a green, sheep-dotted field on the shore:

HolyIsland-castle

The castle was originally built by Henry VIII to keep out invading Scots (maybe to be used again come September?) but was never used for more than housing bored military men.

Lindasfarne-edwin-lutyens

Skip ahead a few centuries and Edward Hudson, editor of Country Life magazine, decides he wants to make the castle his summer home. Who doesn’t love a bit of cold stone and rain for a summer holiday? Regardless of his questionable climatic tastes, he was by all accounts a lovely, shy man who would entertain the likes of J.M. Barrie, Lytton Strachey, Anna Markova and cellist Madame Suggia here.

Country-life-magazine

To make his castle more hospitable, Hudson hired famed English architect Edwin Lutyens (pronounced “loo-chins”): an arts and crafts man through and through. So this castle is arts and crafts coziness meets Elizabethan stone. A good combo if you’re into dark rooms, roaring fires and comfy sofas.

Lutyens’ signature is his herringbone brick, which you see a lot about the castle passageways:

Edwin-Lutyens-herringbone

Want to see the kitchen? Here’s Matt inspecting some veg:

Matt-veggies

Lindasfarne-castle-kitchen

I love when house museums are set up to look like their owners just left. In this case, they made a mad dash for the sun as they were having their tea and reading the newspaper:

newspaper

And someone was just about to give the dishes a good scrub-a-dub:

oldsoap

They were expecting guests for dinner too:

Lindasfarne-castle-dining-room

I love this Yves Klein blue in the dining room:

Lindasfarne-blue

Someone spent their morning sketching:

Lindasfarne-watercolours

Writing letters:

letters

Powdering their collars (?):

stiff-collars

This is known as the ship room because of the wooden ship suspended from the ceiling. A good place to kick your feet up and read Country Life magazine:

Lindasfarne-ship-room

Another good reading spot: the windowseats looking out toward the ocean (don’t they look like the Mary’s windows at Applecross in Persuasion?):

windowseats

You could also go upstairs to the music room and listen to Madame Suggia play her cello or at least have nose around her sheet music:

Madame-suggia

Or maybe a room tidy? Seems you’ve left your Edwardian chemises hanging all over your Renaissance canopy, tsk, tsk:

edwardian-chemise

A few things didn’t exist when Mr. Hudson was around, like this anthropomorphized tapestry chair:

anthropormorpized-chair

Another delight? Famed gardener Gertrude Jekyll planted a small garden where the garrison used to keep their veg patch:

Lindasfarne-gertrude-jekyll

Lindasfarne-garden

She also landscaped the harder-to-reach bits around the castle mound by shooting pellets of seeds into the cliff-side: gives Garden and Gun magazine a whole new point of inspiration. Nicely done, Gertie:

Lindasfarne-flowers

Here’s one last look of the castle (and the sheepies!) from Gertrude’s garden:

Lindasfarne-castle-2

And one last view to the sea from the castle:

Lindasfarne

How’d you like the tour? Could you smell the salty air and the rain moving in across the grass?

I hope you are having a wonderful time in Detroit, Cath! I know that you are probably not going to house museums (Detroit must have some beautiful, crumbly old places) while you’re conferencing, but I do hope you are having some fun.

Love you like Lutyens loved brick!

Lar

 


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Beachy waves and a glimpse of spring in Edinburgh

Dear Cath,

I know we’ve both been so busy this last little while. Too much happening. At this moment you are getting a potential house inspected and then off to Detroit, and then Oregon! Egads, lady, how do you do it?

Whenever things are more busy I feel like I have to share more pics with you because I haven’t gotten a chance to tell you all the things. Inconsequential things like, my hair actually behaving some days. I’m trying to air dry it more often and sometimes it comes out like this (just added a teeny dollop of avocado oil to the tips):

beachy-waves

And spring has sprung in Edinburgh! We also still have plenty of grey, cold and wet days, but there are some glorious rays of sunshine thrown in for good measure. One day I even went bare-legged… and went all goose-pimply:

I’ve never seen bluebells before (I don’t remember them from years previous in Edinburgh — too cold?) but they pop up everywhere, pretty cemeteries included:

bluebells

Bleeding hearts always remind me of our garden in Maryland. Ooo I so miss them and the peonies, lavender, lilac and lily of the valley!

bleedinghearts

Do you remember the cherry blossoms in the Meadows? Last year the blossoms froze before they could bloom. I was holding my breath until they opened all the way. Just lovely, aren’t they?

edinburgh-cherrytrees

And a requisite Castle pic:

spring-edinburgh

I know Atlanta is already hella hot. I can’t remember what heat feels like, but I can imagine almost warmish!

I hope all your conferences go well. And house buying! Eeeee so exciting slash I know incredibly stressful — I so wish I was there to walk around the house with you and squeeze your hand.

I’ll show you pics of the castle we went to last weekend in the next letter/post. You will love it. It’s kind of Bloomsbury meets Renaissance holiday home.

Miss you ooodles and love you like bluebells love May!

Lar

 


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Sunny Edinburgh

spring-dress

edinburgh-sunny

Dear Cath,

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

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

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

h&m-home-2

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

H&M-home

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

pancakes

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

kippers

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

flat-white

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

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

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

LOVE,

Lar

 


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Dear Cath…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Audrey Hepburn in Charade

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

Harry-Palmer

Audrey-charade

Endeavor-morse
photo credit 123

There’s an economy in all their looks.

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

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

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

Scotland-sunny

Dull Scotland

AsianCajuns-Wallingford-Seattle Uwajimaya AsianCajuns-cath-lar

Chattanooga pedestrian bridge

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

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

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

Want to go uniform-refining with me?

Love,

Lar


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Living in a Scottish Castle

Roslin-castle-scotland

Roslin-castle-door

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

Roslin-castle-stairs

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

Roslin-castle-drawing

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

Roslin-castle-lounge

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

Roslin-castle-couch

Roslin-castle-details2

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

Roslin-castle-courtyard

Roslin-castle-details

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

Roslin-castle-dinning-room

Roslin-castle-dinning

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

Roslin-castle-tapestry

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

Roslin-castle-turret

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

Roslin-glen-mill

Roslin-castle-ruins

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

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

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

Cheryl-tan-author

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

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

—–

Dearest Cath,

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

The only logical next step, non?

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

LOVE YOU!!!!

Lar

 


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Sun Worship

San-Luis-Obispo

Pismo-beach

Avila-beach

Tacos-de-Alcapulco

Pismo-beach-SLO

Monarch-butterfly-grove

Pismo-beach-town

Mustang

Avila-pier

SLO-sunset

Sun! Lots of brilliant warm glowiness hitting my face — ahhhh heaven. My body is totally breathing a sigh of relief from the influx of much-needed vitamin D. Thank you, thank you, San Luis Obispo (and Pam!).

I truly forget how very dark Scotland can be. I complain about the darkness constantly to anyone with a pair of ears, but at a cellular level I think my body believes it will forever be lacking a key vitamin and has learned to live with it — ungracefully. Our few weeks in Atlanta were pretty gray and now Matt and I are in Seattle for a month — more perpetual grayness. But the second we stepped off the plane in San Luis for a long weekend I swear I became a different person. With sun I’m the lighter, happier, blissed-out version of my Scottish self.

Apart from the glorious sun, this SLO trip was: cool nights by the fire, the sweetest raspberries, orange trees ready for the picking, cool sand and even cooler waters, deeelicious for-reals Mexican food, Monarch butterflies, water swirling around pier posts, avocados that taste like avocados, the murmur of prayer, desert hills, sparkling water.

We are back in Seattle now and I feel like a tantrum-throwing two-year-old. Wahhhhh! Where’s my sun?! I want my sun!!! And there aren’t enough SAD lamps in the world to make up for the real thing. Maybe I’ll just move SLO to Edinburgh. Sounds like the most feasible option to me.

In the meantime, the best next thing? A visit from my twinie!!! Cath and Troy get here Friday and I can not wait!!! They will add some much needed glow to the pacific northwest.

I hope those of you under piles of snow right now feel the heat of the sun through these piccies and have lovely beachy day dreams to keep you warm and roasty toasty.

——-

Dear Cath,

Atlanta, Seattle, and then Atlanta. I feel so spoiled!!! This is the most I’ve seen you in years!!! Getting more surgery sucks, but I feel like it has the biggest silver lining known to cloud-land (aka, the sky).

I think you would really like SLO, but I think I will forever be biased about it because of the sunny sun sun and the Scissor Sisters and having a SIL there who is the hostest with the mostest. Can you believe we’ve never been to Cali together? You in LA and me in SLO and SF. We should meet in the middle. Between the bright lights of Los Angeles and the tawdry lights of San Jose.

I can’t wait to see you guys!!!!!!

MUCHO LOVES,

Lar


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Lar’s Winter Style

Happy Holidays, dear readers! I know most of you are probably already in vacation mode and not regularly checking blogs (or maybe you’re in vacation mode at work and checking your favorite blogs more frequently), but I figured a short post right before Christmas couldn’t hurt.

winter outfit

Pendleton scarf Frye ‘Melissa’ boots • H&M sweater and leggings • legwarmers (similar here)

These photos of Lar are from our Scotland trip last month. I just love how she’s mastered the winter layered look: long sweater tunics, leggings with leg warmers, and a warm scarf. I don’t think I’ve fully mastered winter style yet, but I live in Atlanta so I don’t really have to.

One thing that I have figured out is my favorite new bag: my Fjallraven backpack. I’ve talked about how much I love it so many times that Lar bought her own:

swedish backpack

 Fjallraven backpack

It’s practical and stylish in a kind of Asian tourist/Swedish school kid kind of way. I almost always use it as my purse on the weekends and on trips. Do you have a favorite current bag?

I hope you all are having a relaxing week and bundling up in winter layers while spending time with your friends and family!

__________

Dear Lar,

Only two more days until we’re in the same country again! December has flown by but it still feels like our stay in Auchinleck House last month was ages ago.

Part of me hates how warm it’s been in Atlanta the past few days because it doesn’t feel like Christmas, but I’m also hoping that it stays warm so you and Matt can thaw out a bit. You’ll actually get to see some sun for a few weeks!

See you on Christmas day!

xoxo, Cath

 


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Lar’s Four Simple Goals

forthesoul

Making goals or resolutions can be a bit daunting, can’t it? I think goals can be great motivators, but there’s also a heavy shovel-full of guilt that can tag along with any unfulfilled to-dos that I think is worth avoiding because guilt is the opposite of good-for-the-soulness. And if you are making goals they should make your toes wiggle with glee and excitement at new possibilities for growth and not feel like one more thing on your list of a million should-dos.

When Cath mentioned doing her four simple goals last week, I did hem and haw a bit about doing it with her but I love the fact that these are mini and bit-sized which equals more toe-wiggling potential. These smaller, short-term goals seem much less daunting and onerous. So without further ado, here they are:

4-Simple-Goals

1. Random acts of kindness
As much time as I spend shopping for gifts for other people during the holidays, I feel like I end up thinking a lot about myself and what I want. To pull myself out of the me-me-me trap I’ll replace the wish list in my head with things that I can do for other people, not just the ones I’m buying gifts for but strangers too.

2. Work toward staying calm during the holiday madness
Like most people, I tend to get a little overwhelmed during the holidays: keeping track of who to buy gifts for, making sure I have the appropriate outfit for an office Christmas ‘do, coordinating and scheduling travel plans. I think the way to tackle this would be to stay mindful. Being mindful is tricky during the calmest moments, so I’ll need a bit of help. This article seems like a good start.

 3. Move mah body!
I’ve never been good at consistently exercising so I’m going to keep this almost ridiculously easy goal-wise. Yoga once a week for an hour. I know that sounds like a weeny goal, but it’s more than I do now! We don’t own a car here in Edinburgh so I do walk a fair bit throughout the week, but I know that doesn’t cut the mustard or really work-out my muscly bits.

4. Draw/Sketch
I’ve been saying that I’ll draw more and I never do. So again, teeny baby steps, but it’s a start: one hour a week. For some accountability: I have to show what I’ve done to someone else, either my husbando or Cath via skype.

As Cath said, we’ll check back in with you guys and let you know how we did with our four simple goals. And I’m going to be sneaky and tack one more on.

5. Sneaky #5: No guilt
Even if my four goals don’t quite work out the way I expect them to, I’m not allowed to feel guilty about it. I think that would be the worst take-away from this goal-making, don’t you? I want my list-of-four to be gentle reminders and not strict task-masters with wagging fingers and stern looks.

Now what do you guys have to say about this goal-making? MichelleK, Mia and Diane at Snapshot Fashion shared some great goals on Cath’s post in the comments. Anybody else want to share?

p.s. There’s no little note to Cath this week because SHE’S COMING TO SCOTLAND ON SATURDAY!!! Matt and I are spending Thanksgiving together in a grand ole house Downton Abbey style like we did last year and this time I’ve got my twinie with me. Hope you guys have something equally as awesome to look forward to this week!

xx, Lar

Photocredits: DesignLoveFest and Pinterest

 


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A Long Weekend in Brigadoon

dunalastair estate home farm

dew rose cottage

cosy tea

Scotland is notorious for its rainy temperament, but even at its most cranky it is one of the best places in the world.

Most of our five days in Perthsire have been cold, windy and rainy, but when the sun shines I swear this place looks like something from the pages of Brothers Grim. This from a girl who was never that interested in fairy tales and who used to think nature was best left alone to the bugs and people who enjoy the sound of water-proof clothes rubbing together.

So be warned: I’m going to bombard you with pictures in this post. I want you guys to get a taste of the magical place that is the Highlands of Scotland. And then come for a visit.

Here’s a few pics of the wee cottage Matt and I stayed in:

dunalastair rose cottage

dunalastair-cottage

scotland oatmeal

One of Scotland’s famous peaks, Schiehallion mountain, covered in snow — this was our view from the front door of our cottage:

schiehallion

This has got to be the Brigadoon  bridge. Is that Gene Kelly behind that peat bog?

brigadoon bridge

We drove through Dull, Scotland: sister city (village?) to Boring, Oregon. Cath and I have been fans of the Dull & Boring Facebook page for a few years. Boring, don’t feel left out. Next time I’m in Oregon, you and me have a date!

Dull Scotland

Matt and I foolishly decided we are now, after two years of living in Scotland, as hardy as Scots. Foolish! Foolish, I tell you! Hiking in the driving sleet and freezing rain is not for us. Don’t let Matt’s triumphant stance with walking sticks fool you:

hiking dunalastair estate

p.s. Just because something is labeled water-proof (North Face, I’m looking at you) does not mean it’s water-proof in this damp country. We were soaked to the bone in water-proof trousers, jackets and hiking boots after 20 minutes of schlepping up this hill.

Enough griping! Look what happens when the sun does comes out. It’s autumn and the Highlands turn into gold:

golden light autumn

One of the highlights of the trip was going to the wee village of Fortingall and ogling the oldest living organism in Europe: a 5,000 year old Yew tree! It was 56 feet in circumference before the Victorians got souvenir-happy and chopped the base to bits. It’s still growing though and mightily impressive:

fortingall yew oldest tree

Fortingall yew

Another fun “fact” about Fortingall? Many questionable sources claim that Pontius Pilate was born here. Yes, here, this teeny village of Fortingall in the heart Scotland. And, yes, that Pontius Pilate from the Bible. Apparently, Pontius’ dear ole dad was stationed up here with his Roman legion. So maaaaybe? Anywhoodles, I find the Oldest Living Organism Yew Tree way more awe-inspiring than Ponti P.

Speaking of myths v facts, Loch Ness is no where near Perthsire, but we figured these tees would be appreciated near any loch. So we had a mini photo shoot by Loch Tay:

loch ness monster

 

See anything, Matt? Nope, just a questionable shadow and ripple across the loch:

explorers

Egads! The Loch Tay Monster is sighted. Lar flees, Matt runs to the rescue:

loch tay monster

And one last picture of Brigadoon (aka Dunalastair Estate) because it just looks so unreal:

view rose cottage

Hope you guys didn’t get carpal tunnel in your scrolly finger. I promise my next post won’t be so long. But aren’t you Scotophiles now? Come rain or shine, this fairy land won’t disappoint.

—–

Dear Cath,

I can’t wait to see pics from your mountain weekend!!! In some ways, bits of Perthshire look EXACTLY like northern Georgia. There’s more trees than on the west coast of Scotland and the mountains look kind of similar from afar. I’m guessing you guys didn’t need three layers of clothing made out of wool and Gortex to go tramping around the Blue Ridge mountains.

And as nice as long mountain weekends are, I don’t like that we couldn’t skype! Miss you oooodles! We must skype midweek then, okay?

Love you like water loves Scotland,

Lar


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Confession: I am a Minimalist (kinda, sorta)

asiancajuns-fall-layers fall-layers-blue fall-layers-minimal

It’s been two years since Matt and I left our friends and family stateside and hoofed it to Scotland. Man, time flies when you’re having-fun-but-also-experiencing-an-exhausting-time-of-LEARNING-THINGS.

And learning stuff is painful, isn’t it? It usually involves changing and change is a cranky, inelegant process. I don’t know about you, but I get grumpy and petulant and just want to zone out in front of Netflix with a big plate of cookies bowl of oatmeal.

But the annoying thing is, the pain and the crankiness and bumbling around usually leads to good things. Most of these things I’m sheepish to own up to because the grumpy part of me wants to stay mad at how annoying the process of learning was. “Oh so you want me to stop eating all that’s delicious in life like sugar and wheat and meat and cheese because of a chronic disease?! Talk about adding insult to injury, body! Thanks a lot.” Now a year and half later (after much, much sniveling) and I feel healthier and actually excited (cue sheepish look) about living a healthier lifestyle. I feel a bit embarrassed because I used to be the sweet-tooth queen and now I’d choose a bowl of oatmeal over a stack of cupcakes.

You want to hear another batch of crazy (oatmeal over cupcakes?! uh-huh)? When I was living in Atlanta my favorite thing to do was guilty Target shopping. You know where you tell yourself, oh I’m just going to pop in just to look and then leave $100 poorer with a designer-collaboration outfit, two new lip glosses, Method floor cleaner, and a festive utensil jar.

Well, I don’t do that any more. And it’s not just because there’s no Target equivalent in the UK (I could force Primark to be Target’s doppleganger if I squint real hard and look sideways). And it’s not because I don’t get hit by the compulsive shopping bug every once and a while. What’s changed is 1) I don’t have the space to put an extra utensil jar and 2) I’ve learned more about how unethical a lot of shops are.

If you are a long-time reader (hello, you!) you’ve heard me talk about #2, so I’ll stick to #1 for a minute: lack of space to put impulsive buys.

Exhibit A: Our shared wardrobe.

Small-wardrobe

Matt and I fit all of our clothes in this and a shared dresser. Erm, obviously Matt hogs most of the space (cough, cough).

Exhibit B: Make-up storage

minimalist-makeup-storage

This biscuit tin and tea cup hold all of my make-up and most of my skin products. I’ve tried to reduce the amount of products I think I need and have been slowly replacing my chemically make-up with more natural alternatives. Next up? Home-made deodorant. I know that’s a bit cringe-worthy, but anything that might be healthier for my body, I’ll give it a go. Aren’t you glad I live in a cold climate?

Exhibit C: Our Kitchen (corner in our) Family Room.

small-room

You can’t add more stuff to a kitchen that’s basically your couch’s side table.

I never meant to become a minimalist. And I’m not really. I think a real minimalist would poo-poo my unnecessary decorating or some bits and bobs I keep on the shelves because it makes me feel like I’m Emily Henderson. But generally, Matt and I kinda sorta are minimalists. If we buy something, a new shirt for instance, we’ll give another piece of clothing away to the local charity shop. There just isn’t room in that dinky wardrobe for more stuff.

And our kitchen corner? We have just the right number of pots and pans that we need and no more. Everything we have gets used and used a lot. The thing is (cue sheepishness again), I like it. I really like it.

There are days when I bemoan the fact that I wear the same clothes over and over again and don’t look like my former fashionista self. But I like knowing every single item of clothing I have. It feels liberating compared to my former self who would walk into her closet (walk-in closets?! what are those?!) and get overwhelmed by choice. Maybe I was never a true fashionista to begin with because I know a lot of stylish ladies love expressing themselves through their clothes. I would get confused instead of creative. A quasi-uniform always sort of appealed to me.

It’s shocking to find out that as a former shopping-happy, Louboutin-yearning, cake-devourer I could become a quasi-minimalist, gluten-free vegan who almost happily chooses chamomile tea over a Pumpkin Spice Latte, all in the space of two cranky years.

p.s. Did you guys notice how I dropped in those outfit pics at the top of the post like I was going to talk to you about fall layering? Thanks for sticking with me this long if you’ve made it down here. Instead of layering tips, I gave you cranky change and minimalism. Don’t hate me. Cath will make it up to you with a Give-away post tomorrow!

p.p.s. If you want some true minimalist inspiration and how-to, read about Emily’s 30 Day Minimalist Challenge on Spatial Drift and Esther and Jacob’s 100 Days of Less Challenge.

——–

Dear Cath,

Sheesh, I was long-winded in this post. Did you make it through all that? What do you make of this whole minimalist thing? I think you would slip into this groove much more elegantly than me. When we were teenagers and early 20ers I felt like I was the one that always bought lots of crap and you were always on the look-out for nicely made, quality items. Maybe we are both quasi-minimalists at heart? Sacre bleu!

Miss you like mad and wish it were Christmas already so I could see your face minus a pixelated Skype window.

Love you like I used to love cookies and now love oatmeal,

Lar

 

 


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