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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Happy Presidents Day – Let’s Celebrate Women!

women getty images mom

Sheryl Sanberg of Lean In fame has worked with Getty to add 2,500 images portraying women as leaders. These are just three of those 2,500 that the New York Times posted. You can see the full collection here. Happy Presidents Day and here’s to having a woman president soon!

women images getty profile

women getty images board room


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Happy-Making

I am always down for a few days after Lar and I part ways. This week has been no different (Lar left on Sunday). To fight off the blues, I’m focusing on the positive and surrounding myself with things/thoughts that make me happy:

dogs on the couch
1. My dogs. They can be a pain in the arse and expensive, but I love Wheatie and Toby – even if it means I have to keep my couch covered 90% of the time.

gem doll

2. Jem Doll. Lar and I found our Jem dolls when we were going through boxes at our parents’ house. Jem dolls were like a slightly bigger and flashier Barbie. Her earrings used to light up if you flipped a switch on her back. And look at those tights!


Letter from Bill Clinton

3. Letter from Bill Clinton. This was another find from the boxes in my parents’ garage. Lar and I used to think we could be besties with Chelsea Clinton because she lived in D.C. and did ballet just like us. So we wrote her a letter and were a little disappointed when all we got in response was a typed note from her dad.

 

Warby Parker Glasses

4. Lar and Matt. I love this photo of the two of them – especially their matching hipster Warby Parker glasses.

desk mug

5. My desk/vanity. Earlier this month I cleaned off my vanity, threw away all of my old makeup, and made some more space so I could also use it as a desk. I feel a lot more calm sitting at it, sipping on tea, doing school work or blogging than I used to.

Writing this post already makes me feel better. Maybe I should start a gratitude journal. Have you ever kept one?

___________________

Dearest Lar,

I would be ten times more depressed if I wasn’t going to see you next weekend. NEXT WEEKEND! After getting to visit you in Scotland for Thanksgiving, then having you in town for two weeks for Christmas, and now getting to visit you in Seattle this month, I’m so spoiled. I could get used to this!

I think I really could handle this long distance thing better if I got to see you twice month. That’s not too much to ask for, is it?

I hope you’re adjusting to west coast time. You’ll probably get used to it right before you have to fly back to Scotland ;) That’s an 8 hour time difference!

Have fun this weekend in California. Takes lots of pics and bask in the sunshine for me!

Love, Cath


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Keeping It Simple

When I wrote out my four simple goals post* last November, one of my goals was to streamline my style. And one of my inspirations to achieve that goal is my very own twin sister! Lar has written on becoming more minimalist and I want to emulate that. She’s done a great job paring down her wardrobe to basic, comfortable, but still stylish pieces. Exhibit 1:
magnifying glass

Grey tunic + black leggings and boots = minimalist perfection. (Thanks for the photobomb, Toby)

AsianCajuns Duo boots

Warby Parker glasses • tunic from Target (similar here) • New Look leggings • Duo boots

I’ve gotten into full new years resolution mode and am culling through my closet to become more minimal. It’s a slower process than I imagined and it’s going to take a couple of trips to the thrift store, but I’m determined to simplify my life. Also, for the past few days Lar and I have been going through boxes of our childhood mementos at our parents’ house. We’ve kept so much over the years! It’s been such a daunting task trying to figure out what to keep and what to giveaway that I’m more motivated than ever not to clutter up my current life with stuff.

This is how Lar and I felt once we were finished going through all of the boxes:

Duo boots

Even with hours of box-sorting, it’s been so wonderful these past few weeks having Lar at home. We’ve had lots of quality family time, which usually involves delicious (gluten-free) food and three dogs running around (I have two and my parents have the tiny guy in the photo above). Plus, Lar is here for six more days and then she’ll be flying to Seattle to meet up with Matt for a month before they both fly back to Scotland. Troy and I are going to visit Matt and Lar in Seattle in a few weeks . So it kind of feels like the holidays are continuing well past all the new years celebrations – woohoo!

AsianCajuns glasses

*stay tuned for an upcoming post on our four simple goals recap :)


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Four Simple Goals (Before 2014)

Caths Four Simple Goals

I stumbled upon A Beautiful Mess’ Four Simple Goals post and wanted to take a stab at it. I love the idea of having action-oriented, simple goals before the new year instead of huge, impossibly impossible new years resolutions.

My goals are pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll add a bit more thought to them:

1. Make something pretty and fun for the home. Lar and I were big crafters when we were younger and I think my inner crafter is coming back. I recently made a felt flower wreath for my front door and I want to find a good holiday craft for the next month. Drop me a line if you have a great holiday project in mind!

2. Don’t shop for myself when I’m shopping for gifts this season. This one is the hardest for me. Even if I don’t have a ton of money to spend I’ll still be tempted to buy myself a little something. I’m the worst at this when I’m shopping for Lar. It usually goes a little something like, “Ooohhh, Lar would love this. I love this. I’ll get one each!” I’m determined to not let this happen this year.

3. Streamline my style. I talked a little bit about this in a previous post. I’m clearly drawn to grays and blacks, and want to stop being so tempted by the latest trends. I don’t usually buy a lot of clothes in December since I spend most of my money on gifts and other holiday stuff. Nevertheless, if I do happen to be shopping for clothes, I’ll make sure to stick to a strict shopping list.

4. Make oatmeal or green juice every morning. Earlier this year I was on a roll with my morning green juices and smoothies, but at some point I just got out of the habit. As a result I’ve early been eating less healthy breakfasts and/or spending too much money at my local Starbucks. For the next few weeks before the new year, I want to make an extra effort to prepare green smoothies for my weekday mornings. I’ve frozen some pre-made smoothie packs (spinach, lettuce, celery, banana, pear) so it’ll be easier to make each day.

What are your four simple goals? Lar will post her’s next week. Let us know if you post yours on your blog – or if you don’t have a blog, write your goals in the comments section.

Have a wonderful weekend!


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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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Happy Memorial Day!

memorial day

 

Alright, I know what you’re thinking, Memorial Day is about much more than getting to wear white shoes and you’re right. Who came up with that silly fashion rule anyways?

Today is a day to remember the men and women who have died serving the county – and for some reason we Americans celebrate the day by grilling out by the pool. . . go figure. Lar tells me it’s a bank holiday in the UK, but most people go to work.

Anywhoodles, since it is a holiday, we’ll have a full post up tomorrow – it’ll even include video! Also, don’t forget to enter our giveaway with These Odds.

Enjoy the sunshine and your day off work!


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Super Bowl Party

Super Bowl Party decor

I’m a bit of a reluctant party-thrower. I usually get so overwhelmed thinking about how much I have to clean my house that I end up talking myself out of hosting. However, every year I’m overruled when it comes to throwing a Super Bowl party because Troy loves football and is the commissioner of his fantasy football league. Yes, for these reasons, we host a party once a year.

Troy and I spent all of Saturday and Sunday morning prepping, cleaning and cooking.

Super Bowl Party guacamoleSuper Bowl Party WheatieSuper Bowl Party Mason JarsSuper Bowl Party chips

Troy made a ridiculous amount of food. If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen my post yesterday listing everything we ate prepared. On top of all that food, my mom made cupcakes, a cinnamon cake, a strawberry trifle, and wings – she’s amazing!

Super Bowl Party chefSuper Bowl Party cupcakesSuper Bowl Party Snacks

Everyone did their part in eating as much as possible and barely made a dent in the food. Troy and I now have enough food to last us for at least a month. Leftovers FTW!

Super Bowl Party friends

While I didn’t get a chance to watch all of the commercials (or much of the game for that matter), I was super pumped that the locally made Doritos Goat commercial we mentioned in a recent Link Love made it on the air during the game. Did you see it? Which commercial was your favorite?

_____________

Dearest Lar,

There is something so American about football and I think it has more to do with the type of food you consume while watching the game than the actual game. I mean, wings? Genius! And then you can never forget the Velveeta and Rotel dip – I don’t even think any of the ingredients are real food!

Was the game played anywhere in Edinburgh? I bet you were sound asleep by the time the game started. I don’t blame you. The Super Bowl won’t be worth watching until either the Redskins or Falcons are part of it ;)

I don’t know why, but I feel like I haven’t talked to you in forever – even though we just Skyped on Saturday. When can I “see” you next?!

xoxo, Cath


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We’re Back!

Even though Lar and I have been blogging for about five years, I’m always overly ambitious and think I can keep up with our blogging schedule during the holidays. How naive of me! I should have known that when Lar came into town I would want to spend all of my time my sis and not sitting in front of my computer. So here’s a quick run down of what we’ve been up to for the past week and a half.

We both spent the night at my parents house (husband and bf included) on Christmas Eve and then woke up together on Christmas morning to unwrap presents. It felt just like when we were little – except not quite as early in the morning:

AsianCajuns Christmas Morning

Probably about 90 percent of the time that Lar has been here we’ve been eating out and eating in and eating and eating and eating and eating and eating…

AsianCajuns Holiday Food

Lar and I also got matching highlights and haircuts:

AsianCajuns twin haircuts

We took a family trip to Rock City:

AsianCajuns Rock City

We went to a Warby Parker party:

AsianCajuns Warby Parker

Ate delicious Peking Duck that my (cajun, not Asian) mom made on Christmas Eve:

Asiancajuns Peking Duck

Reminising about our bunhead past:

AsianCajuns ornament

 

Lar and Matt are still here for a few more days. They’ll be flying back to Scotland on New Years Eve and I’ll be drowning my sorrows in pints of Ben and Jerry’s. I’m thinking Phish Food. But until then, Lar and I will be doing a bit of shopping, visiting with friends and more eating!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Stay tuned for some quality sister time posts :)


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Let The Holidays Begin!

Image


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