Why I Workout

workout

Before October of last year, I’d never set foot in a gym. And I was obnoxiously very proud of that fact. The idea of row upon row of shiny, fit people running on treadmills made me smirk knowing that I had never participated in such mindless, rote activities.

What I snob, I was! So judgey! A mindset that 100% came from being intimidated by the idea of a gym.

I knew that working out was a good thing, but the thought of those clanky and complicated looking weight machines and intimidating, sweaty people in spandex made me uncomfortable. So even though I’ve been horribly out of shape for years, I never gave the gym a second thought.

But, like nearly everything in my life, things have changed since learning to live with endometriosis. After my first surgery two years ago, I spent half a year still feeling like my body had to knit itself back together. After that, I did a bit of tentative tai chi and yoga, but was really scared to do anything else.

Being afraid of my body because of both my endo and the subsequent surgeries, is not something I ever thought would happen. It’s strange to feel so uncertain of your body. Cath and I trained for 13 years to be ballet dancers. As a dancer, your body is your instrument and you feel you have absolute control over it — put in enough hours of practice and training and you know exactly how to make your body move how you want it and withstand exacting and punishing positions.

But even with this new fear, endo is actually what also propelled me to the gym. I wanted to feel strong again and in control of my body (as much as possible with a capricious, poorly-understood chronic disease). I’d also learned that working out would help keep my hormones leveled out better (women with endo usually have too much estrogen).

So even though the idea of spending an hour with the whirring treadmills and clanking weights of a gym doesn’t make me jump out of bed in the morning, I feel so lucky to get to do it! Since October I’ve felt so much better (thanks, endorphins, you are the bestest!) and my body has more muscle than its had in nearly a decade. I do get some pain in my pelvis once in a while if I go too hard, but I try to listen to what my body needs and pull back when I need to.

I’m still a newbie at working out (which sounds kind of ridiculous at 31 years old), but I plan to make this part of my life. Working out for me will never be about loosing weight or gaining muscle (thought I’m so glad those both happen), but to stay healthy and hopefully keep kicking the endo monster in the butt as often as possible. Getting stronger is a good motivator, but the thing that motivates me most, and also makes it hard to do, is having endometriosis.

So I spend way more time than I ever thought I would googling new workouts to try and half of my instagram feed is fitness gurus that keep me inspired on those days (most days if I’ve being honest ;)) when I don’t feel like working out.

This is all to let you know that you’ll be hearing more fitness-y related things on this blog. Which is weird because I think one of the many reasons why I never wanted to go to a gym was because I felt like there was a smugness about people who worked out. Again, that’s my judgey-ness coming through. But I don’t want you guys to think I’m ever posting pics of myself in the gym because I feel smug. It’s all to foster a holistic approach to staying healthy, whether you are working through health problems too or just want to be a bit more healthy.

Phew! Sorry for that lengthy babble. I promise to keep my next posts short and sweet! There’s just a lot of baggage I carry around with working out, and I wanted to let you guys know about it before I just started posting about fitness and health-related things.

I’d love to hear what you guys do or if you’ve had gym-ophobia too.

x Lar


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Quick Weekend Outfit

It’s going to be way too hot to wear this outfit this weekend – 90 degrees this Sunday! I’m never ready for summer weather. Spring and fall are my favorite seasons. If I could live somewhere that is always jacket weather, I’d be perfectly content.

weekend_outfit

BB Dakota jacket | Urban Outfitters top | Gap jeans (obviously very old) | Boutique Karma necklace | Longchamp bag | Flats, secondhand from Meredith

What’s that you say? Did I get Troy to take an outfit shot of me at our local Kroger? Uh. Yes. Yes, I did. I have no (blogger) shame. I realized my hair was looking decent when we went to the grocery store and whipped out my camera in the, ahem, beverage aisle.

I don’t really have super cute, creative weekend outfits. If I spend money on clothes it’s most likely going to be work appropriate because that’s what I have to wear 80% of my waking life. For the most part, my weekend wardrobe consists of t-shirts and jeans. I like my t-shirts baggy and my jeans slim – and my shoes flat. I’ve come the realization at the ripe old age of 31 heels are not my friend. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the way heels look and will wear them as much as I can, but after years of ballet and heel wearing, it’s time to be a little kinder to my feet.

multitone_flats

A t-shirt with jeans might seem uninspiring, but I like having a uniform for the weekend. I might branch out at some point this summer and get a romper/jumpsuit (what’s the difference?!) to wear on weekends, but only if i can find one on the cheap. Any suggestions? H&M? F21? Let me know what your weekend uniform is.


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Stay Golden

Hi luvs!

Thank you to everyone who commented on Lar’s last post. We’re excited to take AsianCajuns in a slightly different direction and I suppose it goes without saying that I’m over the moon that my twin sis/bestie is moving back stateside.

We’ll start making the blog transition over the summer and we hope you like it!
____________

I wanted to do a quick post on my love for golden jewelry. It’s kind of become a little bit of an obsession. And keep in mind I’m talking about golden jewelry and not jewelry made of gold- I’m not rolling in money, folks!

Last weekend I stopped by the Root City Market pop up in Decatur and bought three more rings to add to my collection from Melting Sun Apparel – 3 for $9!

gold_rings

Rings from left to right: Melting Sun Apparel, Squash Blossom Boutique, Agnes Scott College Ring, Melting Sun Apparel, Top Shop (mentioned here), Melting Sun Apparel. And for those of you who are interested, I’m wearing these on my nails.

I also recently bought this golden necklace (below) from Boutique Karma – a locally owned shop in Decatur, GA – for only $20.

gold_accessories_necklace

 

I know the golden trend is nothing new – it might even be a little passé. What’s next? Rose gold? Silver – even though it feels so 90s/00s now?! Either way, I’m sticking to gold for now. Any other gold/golden jewelry fans out there?


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I’m Moving to Seattle!

Seattle border

Hi Lovely Readers

Cath and I apologise for leaving AsianCajuns in the lurch these past few weeks. We’ve been having a think about things because I’ll be moving back to the States. Cath and I will no longer be ‘Twins blogging an ocean apart’!!!

I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to be closer to my twinie — yes, still a hefty plane ride away, but at least on the same land mass with the same network providers. Matt and I will miss Edinburgh and the UK so very much as we feel very much at home here. But Matt has heard the siren call of the Pacific Northwest (i.e. he got a post doc position at the University of Washington), and, apparently, we only move to very rainy cities.

The next few months we’ll be traveling quite a bit as things wrap up here and we try to soak up all this nearby European goodness and see as much of Britain as we can. Change and travel always get my mind whirring and that lead to Cath and I deciding we’d like to change things up here on the blog.

We tend to reassess a lot these days because we know blogging isn’t a popular platform anymore. And over the past four years whilst I’ve been here we’ve really used the blog selfishly — as the way for the two of us to stay connected. It’s been lovely, but we weren’t really sure if it’s that satisfying to anyone else! Also, we’re hoping to see much more of each other when I’m stateside and won’t need AsianCajuns to be our public pen pal letter anymore.

We plan to keep blogging though — and more! But we are going to shift our blog topics slightly and get a bit more focused. I know I’m being very vague, but Cath and I want to sort of see where this takes us and if anyone has any use for it.

So if you have been a long-time reader, thank you very much for sticking with us through these many years (eight years of blogging — I feel ancient in blog years!). We’ve loved getting to know so many of you and we hope you enjoy where AsianCajuns goes next!

Ooodles of XOXOXO,

Lar

(Seattle drawing by moi)

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Monday Inspiration: Sia

Dearest Lar,

I rarely talk about my job on the blog. For whatever reason, I’ve always kept AsianCajuns relatively separate from my work in local government. I suppose it makes sense. Economic development doesn’t really have a place in a lifestyle blog. That being said, I’m making an exception today.

As you know (but our readers don’t), I’ve been working with my organization’s innovation team – a group of 12 of us that is charged with creating an innovative project. We gave a presentation on that project in Phoenix at a local government conference last week (where I found this gem). In addition to our presentation, we also got to show our group video – which has nothing to do with our project and everything to do with our definition of innovation:

I debated about whether or not to share the video – mostly for egotistical reasons. I hate my outfit. Seriously. I need to get my shirt tailored and buy new pants. But I’m so proud of my team and their amazing willingness to take part in my crazy idea that I had to share it. I don’t know of any other government organization where you’d find such open-minded and creative folks willing to learn some crazy choreography, put on a blond wig, pink blush, and come in on a Saturday without pay to do a video for work.

Also, Greg shot the whole thing on his fancy camera after I told him I was going to attempt to use my old iPhone. What an awesome friend! And Troy was there the whole time helping Greg with the camera work and he spliced down the song to two minutes so I didn’t have to choreograph a four minute song. Best bf ever!

So basically, I’m riding on a high that I have such amazing friends/co-workers who were willing to do this with me and I wanted to share.

Happy Monday!

xoxo, Cath


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2015 Q1 Favorites

Dearest Lar,

I’ve totally gotten hooked on watching favorites make up videos on YouTube. I just love hearing about real products from real women. So I figured I’d do my own favorites (not just makeup), but instead of doing a monthly favorites (I don’t buy enough things to have favorites every month), I’ll just post my favorites every quarter :) So without further ado, here we go!

1. Tarte Cosmetics LipSurgence and Butter Lipstick
Tarte lip gloss 1
The lipstick is the Tartelette limited edition Amazonian butter lipstick in Ethereal Pink. I picked it up last time I was at Sephora because I’ve been looking for the perfect light-ish pink that goes with my skin tone. I like it on its own, but I like it even better with the gloss layered over it. I got the LipSurgence gloss (in Flush) as a gift with purchase and didn’t really think I’d like it. I’m not really a bright pink person, but it goes on really nicely and it is the ONLY thing that keeps my lips from drying up.

Even though Tarte cosmetics aren’t all natural, they’re a step in the right direction. Tarte products are formulated without parabens, mineral oil, phtalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, synthetic fragrances and gluten.

Here’s what it looks like on my lips:

tarte pink lipstick

 

2. Muji Multi Cape

Muji Multi cape

You were so so so sweet to buy me this amazing piece from Muji last summer. I love how versatile it is and the fabric is so delicate. It’s the perfect spring time cover up/scarf.

Also, do you have any idea how I can prevent so many wrinkles from gathering on my skirt?! It looks terrible!

3. J.Crew Factory D’orsay Flats

JCrew flats

I’ve been wearing more flats since I’m trying to get 10,000 steps in each day. Wearing heels = me finding every excuse not to walk and roll around on my office chair instead. The only problem is that office appropriate flats usually don’t work with my feet. I have wide feet and pretty ballet flats usually hurt like crazy. So I picked up these D’orsay flats a few weekends ago and have been wearing them ever since. My left heel got a small blister the first day I wore them, but other than that they’ve been really comfortable.

JCrew factory flats

4. Topshop Ring

Topshop ring

I picked this ring up at the Atlanta Topshop opening last month and wear it almost every day. It was only $18 and the best money I’ve spent all month. I can’t find it online, but it might still be available in stores. I’ve received so many compliments on it because it’s such a statement piece, but not your typical giant cocktail ring. Wouldn’t it be cool if the glass was really a rough-cut diamond?! Actually, scratch that. If it was a real diamond, I wouldn’t be able to afford it so never mind!

5. Kickstarter: #TruthBeauty

Beauty lies Truth

Alexis Krauss and Jessic Assaf are on a mission to make the safest skincare and makeup affordable to everyone. I love the concept because, as I mentioned in this post, I’m slowly trying to get rid of all harmful beauty products. But sometimes it gets so overwhelming trying to keep up with what’s natural and what’s really bad for you. Also the natural stuff that beauty magazines suggest are usually crazy expensive. I now read the Beauty Lies Truth blog religiously.

6. TV Shows: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Peaky Blinders

favorite tv shows

Both are streaming on Netflix and they couldn’t be more different. I’m so glad I got you hooked on Unbreakable. Since I’ve already seen the whole season, I’ll replay episodes as I blog and check emails. It’s happy-making but also not completely superficial and Titus Andromeda is the best! Also, hashbrown no filter.

Peaky Blinders is dark in every way possible – storyline, sets, costumes, makeup – but I love it. The acting is great, the set design is more stylized that a typical period piece, and somehow the contemporary music totally works. I know you said you’ve seen a few episodes, so keep watching and let me know what you think!

Ta da! My next favorites post will be in June. You should do one too!

Skype this Saturday? I can’t wait to hear about your Berlin trip!

xoxo, Cath


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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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Georgia Cider (and Fried Apple Pie) Tasting

Dearest Lar,

A week after your Amsterdam adventure (which sounded so magical, btw), Troy and I made our way back up to Blue Ridge, Georgia. It had been over a year since we visited last and we thought it was the perfect spot to celebrate our 6 year anniversary.

We stayed at Aska Lodge B&B again – the sweet owners made us chocolate cake and gave us a bottle of champs for the occasion :)

Unfortunately it rained for most of the weekend, but Troy and I aren’t the hiking types anyways. Instead of enjoying the great outdoors, we went back to Mercier Orchards and visited the new cider tasting room.

Merciers_ciders

In my previous Blue Ridge post, I didn’t fully explain how GIANT Mercier Orchards is. I mean, it’s set up for the thousands of tourist that come every year in the fall to pick apples and enjoy the beautiful foliage of Blue Ridge. And they’re constantly updating and adding to their facilities. So in the past year they created an awesome cider tasting room. The experience is very much like a wine tasting with a selection of ciders, some salty bar snacks, and helpful staff explaining the flavors.

Since I don’t like sweet ciders, I choose to taste the four most dry ciders on the list. It was only $8 for a flight of 4 ciders and a souvenir wine glass. Troy and I ended up getting a bottle of Grumpy Granny, Adele’s Choice and Lone Tree. They are all apple-ly, but not sweet. Just what I like!

Merciers_cider_tasting

When you’re at Mercier’s, you cannot NOT stopped by the bakery for a fried pie. Look at all the amazing options:

Merciers_Fried_Pies

Troy and I ended up getting the classic apple fried pie, because, you know, it’s an apple orchard. It did not disappoint!

Merciers_Fried_Apple_pie

Did I mention we did the cider tasting and the fried pie eating before noon? And this was after having huge breakfast at the B&B. So before we headed into downtown Blue Ridge to eat and drink some more, I burned a few calories by visiting the Mercier Orchards gift shop.

hair

The gift shop is endless with every apple-themed item you can think of and so much more. There is a whole room just for kid stuff. Like these creepy/cute big-eyed stuffed animals. This is my impersonation of them:

Merciers_giftshop

And even though I didn’t buy this pretty box of tea, I’m including a photo of it because I love the design – like a pinky, neutral, clean-lined watercolor.

Teaforte_blood_orange

Troy and I walked away from Mercier Orchards with 3 ciders, half a bushel of apples and full bellies. Afterwards we spent the day in downtown Blue Ridge eating and drinking at Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar and Grill, Masseria and Harvest on Main with a nap in between lunch and dinner. So despite the rainy weather, it was pretty much a perfect mountain getaway weekend.

The setting wasn’t as beautiful as Amsterdam and the winter isn’t the best time to visit Blue Ridge, but it wasn’t bad for a quick 2 hour drive north of Atlanta!

Hope you’re having a wonderful start to the week. Let’s Facetime/Skpye this Saturday!

xoxo, Cath


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What to See, Do and Eat in Amsterdam

stilllife2
Amsterdam totally surpassed all my expectations. I’m completely in love with the glimmering, shimmering canals and curlicued brick and stone, the deliciously gooey caramel waffles and an entire museum district! It’s a shame that I always associated it the red light district and pot (not that there’s anything wrong with the latter), but it just never seemed like it would be my thing.

I was utterly and completely wrong. I didn’t stumble on to a single naked lady or dubbie (I’m not even exactly sure where the red light district is). So if you’re as rock and roll as me, you should totally do the following:

stay2

Airbnb-amsterdam

I’ve used Airbnb for years, all over Europe and the States. I’ve loved each of my stays, but Johan has possibly the most beautiful flat I’ve ever been in. He has an eye for colour that would make Van Gogh jealous, the most comfortable, fluffy king-sized bed and a colour-coded book case that would make any reader feel right at home. The house is an historic canal house built in the 17th century, so the few days we were there I pretended I was Rembrandt (minus the talent) and Vermeer’s girl with the pearl earring (minus the pearls).

stroll canal5

Untitled-1

The soft winter light bouncing off of the canals was so soothing and breathtakingly beautiful when the sun set.

gaze canal1 canal2 lar amsterdam

(Posing by canals and tiny cars totally optional).

eat food amsterdam green juice frites chocolate indonesian food

The deliciously unhealthy:

Best stroopwafels: Verse stroopwafel at the Albert Cuyp Market

Best fries (curry or satay sauce optional): Vleminckx

Uber healthy and so amazingly tasty:

The Cold Pressed Juicery

Mumu chocolates (not just the best raw chocolate I’ve ever had — just the best chocolate hands down).

My dream dinner:

Indonesian at Tempo Doeloe

museum van gogh rembrandt house rembrandt house amsterdam

I went to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the Rembrandt House Museum, but those are just the tip of the iceberg. I would have happily gone to 20 museums if I had the time.

I am head-over-heels in love with Amsterdam and hope I get to go back one day to ogle more canals and soak in more painted canvases. In the meantime, let me know what you’ve done if you’ve been. For those of you making plans or day dreaming about a trip to Amsterdam, I hope these wee tips gave you a bit of inspiration.

——-

Dear Cath

I know you think of Amsterdam as Schipol and that place of limbo where you are stuck between two flights, but I so wish I could have teleported you to a canal last weekend!

One day was even warm enough where Ali and I sat on the stoop outside of our canal house and ate fresh fruit while wiggling our toes in the sun. It was heavenly!

It’s the perfect city for us and reminds me of Edinburgh: compact, historic, beautiful and grand. One day we will go together.

Until then, close your eyes and dream of freshly made stroopwafels with gooey caramel centres and layers of Van Gogh ochre swimming in a sea of forest green and aquamarine.

Love you like the shimmerest of canals and gooeyest of stroopwafels,

Lar


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Fig and Flower – Natural Beauty

Dearest Lar,

While you’re exploring Amsterdam (finding canals, drinking green juice, buying Van Gogh postcards, etc.), I did a little exploring in my own backyard today. Fig and Flower opened up a little less than a year ago in the Poncey Highland neighborhood and I’ve been meaning to check it out ever since.

fig_and_flower

Fig and Flower sells all natural makeup, skincare, and household cleaning products. So it’s basically a store made for you!

For the past few years, you’ve been inspiring me to switch to more natural products. Sometimes I slip up – like when I’m suppose to make a quick trip to pick up a prescription at CVS and end up with three new chemical-filled lipsticks (I blame the weekly coupons!) – but overall I’ve been trying to clean up my makeup and skincare routine.

fig_and_flower_Atlanta

I seriously wanted to buy everything at Fig and Flower times two (one for me and one for you).

Fig_and_flower_eyeshadow

They even carry Vapour, an all natural makeup brand I’ve been wanting to try forever. Look at all of the pretty lip colors! That’s Troy in the background checking out the selection of beard oil.

fig_and_flower_vapour

I felt like a kid in a candy store. I can’t wait to take you there next time you’re in Atlanta!

fig_and_flower_shopping

Just a few more of the brands they carry: Holly Beth Organics, Indie Lee, Acure, and 100% Pure.

fig_and_flower_products

Also, look at these amazing services they offer:

Fig_and_flower_services

I really want to come back for a makeup application and beauty bag clean out – that’s where they show you how you can replace your favorite items with all natural versions.

Becca, a makeup artist that works at Fig and Flower, was super helpful. I told her that I’m attempting to grow out my eyebrows and she explained the best technique for doing it. I’m listening to her in the photos below, which is why I look so serious – because eyebrows are serious business.

fig_and_flower_seriousface

This is me laughing at the thinness of my brows:

fig_and_flower_eyebrows

If my eyebrow grow-out is successful, I might do a future blog post on it. If not, I will never speak of them again!

I ended up purchasing the 100% Pure Eye Brow Powder Gel in Brunette. I initially thought it was too light, but Becca showed me how it just subtly enhances my brows without making them look drawn on.  I also got the 100% Pure Naked Palette since the only other all natural eye shadow I have is the Josie Maran Argan Beautiful Eyes quad, which is all shimmery shades. I’ve been wanting to jump on the Urban Decay Naked palette bandwagon, but have been hesitant since it’s not an all natural brand. So the 100% Pure palette is exactly what I’ve been looking for – all natural, neutral, matte shades. I’m going to spend a few weeks playing around with it and then I might do a mini 100% Pure Naked Palette makeup tutorial.

I can’t wait to see all of your photos from your long weekend getaway to Amsterdam. I’m so jealous that you got to go to an Other Stories store – and experience a different culture and what not. :) Is it bad that I get more excited about stores you’re visiting than museums. I think I’ve become shallower with age.

Let’s go crazy and Skype during the workweek once you get back to Edinburgh, ok?

xoxo, Cath


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