Home Away From Home

flat-decorpom-pom garlandbook-shelfikea-cart

Dear Cath,

This is our teeny flat on a quiet Sunday morning.

One day we will live side by side like we always dreamed (because our partners wouldn’t have a say — didn’t even occur to us, did it)? But for now you live in a beautiful house, on a woodsy plot in Atlanta and I live in a teeny flat perched on the edge of a busy road in Edinburgh.

Love,

Lar


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Back to Edinburgh

George-IV-bridge

Dear Cath,

I left Atlanta a measly week ago! How does it feel so much longer? Leaving you and grappling with jet lag has been mitigated by Katherine and Maria’s Labor Day (not Labour Day — we don’t celebrate it here) mini visit. We’ve been very touristy: tramping up and down the Royal Mile, watching fireworks, eating haggis, going for afternoon tea and climbing Arthur’s Seat. Today we plan to hit the Palace and National Museum before they both head back to D.C. tomorrow.

Arthursseat Tower-restaurant-tea

Once they are gone I’ll have to face the fact that I’m back across an ocean from you. It’s a bad time to be moving into the dreaded dark months of winter here — it already feels like autumn: the leaves are changing colour and the air is crisp. Geek alert: I’m still making my way through the Game of Thrones books and each time someone says “winter is coming” I feel like throwing my Kindle across the room and throwing a hissy fit. I know winter is coming and it will be long and it will be dark and my sister is 5,000+ miles away.

Enough with the grumps though. It’s a new week and a palace awaits.

Love you like George Martin loves the word winter,

Lar

P.S. Memories…

cath-and-lar


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A Trip to the Anthropologie Outlet

Dearest Lar,

I can’t believe it’s been less than a week since you left, but it already feels like I haven’t seen you in ages. So I’m going to distract myself with some blogging!

Yes, an Anthropologie outlet does exist! It’s called Final Cut and it opened this summer in Augusta, GA right next to an URBN (Anthro parent company) call center in a nondescript strip mall. 
Final Cut Anthropologie outlet

What are the odds that the only Anthro (plus Urban Outfitters and Free People) outlet in the country is only 2.5 hours from my house!?!?! I really think the Georgia tourism department should do a whole marketing campaign around Final Cut, IMHO. I mean, Augusta, Georgia! Why not Philly where URBN is headquartered?!

But I digress. A few weekends ago, my friend, Thom, and I spent a Saturday making the trek out to Augusta from Atlanta to check out Final Cut to do some serious shopping for blog research purposes. They don’t allow photos inside the store, so if you want an insider look, check out Effortless Anthropologie’s post here.

Here are my thoughts on the place:

1. It’s huge! One half is mostly furniture and housewares and the other half is chockablock with clothes.

2. A lot of the furniture and rugs looked like they were from Urban Outfitters and there weren’t as many decor items (vases, knick knacks, art etc.) as I was hoping.

3. If you’re looking for a crazy bed, unusual night stand, delicate sofa (i.e. not kid or pet appropriate) or midcentury love seat, this is the place for you.

4. If you’re a soon-to-be bride and need a dress ABSOLUTELY make the trip to final cut. There are tons and tons of BHLDN dresses in great condition for around $100. There are also a handful of bridal shoes (although mostly in large sizes) and some bridal accessories.

5. There is a seemingly endless selection of clothing, but it’s not organized by size, gender, or store (Anthro, Urban, FP). I think most of the clothing was from Urban Outfitters, but I’m not an expert.

6. There’s a huge selection of bags, but they were definitely all from Urban so I didn’t spend too much time looking.

7. The prices are kind of all over the place. Some of the large rugs still seemed overpriced at $300+, but maybe that’s just because I’m cheap. Like I mentioned in #4, the wedding dresses are very well priced. The armchairs and sofas were anywhere between $200 and $900. And the clothing was $5-20-ish. Not bad, but also takes a lot of sifting through the racks to find something that’s your size.

8. The final cut staff is really nice and helpful and update the Final Cut Facebook page regularly.

So, if you’re in the Atlanta/Augusta area, I think it’s worth a trip if you have the time. If you’re in the southeast and looking for a BHLDN wedding dress, definitely make the trip. But if you’re on the other side of the country, it’s not worth a plane ticket.

Here’s my Final Cut haul:

Final cut purchases

  • A 3×5 rug for my laundry room – $25
  • 1 coupe glass – $5 (I would have bought more if they had more)
  • A set of 10 crackers for my mum – $5 (we’ll find out if they have good prizes and jokes in them come Christmas)
  • A midcentury-style ottoman – $30. Update: I was just searching U.O. site and saw that this same ottoman is selling for $129 – on sale! Didn’t realize I got such a steal!

Final cut rug and glass

I’m really pleased with my purchases, but probably won’t be making another trip out to Final Cut anytime soon. Thom just ended up getting two Urban Outfitters hats.

Since Final Cut is so close to downtown Augusta, we decided to have lunch at Nacho Mama’s – a classic burrito joint in a historic building = perfect lunch location.

August Nacho Mamas

Downtown Augusta is mostly restaurants, but we spent some time walking along the main street and near the river. I know this is cheesy, but I had to have a picture of this street sign – James Brown FTW!

Augusta james brown

Edinburgh might have beautiful cobblestone streets and amazing medieval architecture, but do you have a James Brown Boulevard?! I think not! And obviously there’s no Final Cut in the UK. Just a few more reasons why you have to move back to the states.

Miss you so much! Wish we could have explored Final Cut together!

xoxo, Cath


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A Short Week Together

Hello dear readers!

twin faux wooden sunglasses

Apologies for the radio silence. Lar was in town for a whole week and it was wonderful. So wonderful, that we didn’t even get a chance to blog about it! But we’ll make up for it this week. I promise! Some things we’ll be blogging about this week and next:

• What we did this past week together.

• The Anthropologie outlet – it does exist!

• Being a tourist in Edinburgh

• Fitbit vs Jawbone

• Lar’s abstract painting that she did for me. I hinted at it here.

At this moment, Lar is flying over the Atlantic back to Edinburgh (sob!). Hopefully we’ll see each other over the holidays, but until then we’ll be writing to each other on AsianCajuns :) Thank you, dear readers, for returning and reading about our lives – it means so much to us!

xoxo, Cath


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Gallery Wall

Dearest Lar,

It’s soooooo amazing to think that we’re in the SAME country RIGHT NOW and we’ll get to see each other in just a few days – eeeekkkk! I have a whole checklist of things I want to do to the house before you see it in person. It’s about 70 items long and I’ve gotten about 2 things done. One of those things is pizzazz-ing up this wall in my hallway:

Gallery Wall before

You know I love gallery walls – I had one in the teeny hallway of my last house. Unfortunately all of my frames were black. So I spent two sunny weekends (which has been a rare occurrence) spray painting the frames. Then I used newspaper to create a template for each piece.

Gallery wall pictures

I wasn’t planning on making the wall so symmetrical. I usually like gallery walls that are a little off kilter, but once I started playing around with the templates, I realized this was the best pattern:

Gallery Wall templates

All of the walls in my house are plaster so I have to drill before hammering in the nails to minimize any plaster crumblage (yep, just made up that word).

gallery wall drilling

And tah dah! (Ignore the bare light bulb. Troy and I are saving up for a really cool pendant light)

gallery wall after

gallery wall how to

In just a few days you’ll get to see the wall in person!

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet since I have about 60 other things I need to do around the house before you arrive.

Love you to bits and see you in 3 days!

xoxo, Cath


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Touring Ponce City Market

Dearest Lar,

You know I’ve been wanting to take a tour of Ponce City Market, but the public tours always sell out faster than you can say, “Ponce City Market.” This is the closest I’ve been to a tour. So I was super excited when, two weeks ago, Lena and I got the opportunity to take a tour with the Georgia Brownfield Association. 
Exploring Ponce City Market

Jealous of my hat? Everyone on the tour had to wear a hardhat.

PCM Tour Guide

The space actually feels bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside – if that’s even possible. Jamestown Properties is renovating 1 million square feet of the property to turn it into a giant mixed-use project. The photos below probably don’t look like much, but work has come a long way since it began a few years ago. The food court should open up at the end of this year and a handful of the apartments will be ready by this fall.

PCM columns

PCM floors

PCM storefronts

PCM foodcourt

PCM elevator

The food court will house a mix of restaurants and food stalls. The freight elevator will take visitors up to the rooftop where there will be more restaurants and a mini golf course! I don’t know why, but I’m so excited to have a mini golf course nearby.

PCM flats

There’s a gallery space near the leasing office. The current exhibit is Farm to Frame, which features photos of Georgia farms and farmers.

PCM gallery

I can’t wait to see Ponce City Market when it’s finished. I think it’ll be a great addition to Atlanta’s shopping and dining scene. It’s a bummer that there isn’t a MARTA station nearby, but it does run up against the eastside trail of the Beltline.

The urban development nerd in me makes me want to take a tour every couple of months to see the progress. And then I’ll get a chance to wear the hardhat again ;)

PCM hardhat

I can’t wait until you come into town in less than two weeks. You’ll be amazed by how much has changed in this city just in the past few months.

See you in 11 days!!

xoxo, Cath

P.S.: You can also read my Groupon article on Ponce City Market here.

 


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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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Housekeeping – Kind of

Dearest Lar,

I feel like this blog could be subtitled “One twin has a much more interesting life than the other.” Seriously, while you’re taking trips to London (not to mention Greece, Istanbul, Germany, etc.), I’m trying to figure out how to be a homeowner.

So far being a homeowner has meant not spending money on anything except for the home. . . while on a tight budget. The American dream!

Apart from workwear, this is pretty much what I wear all the time now: t-shirt and jeans (actually probably more yoga pants than jeans, I’m not gonna lie).

weekend paint wear

bucket feet shoes

Luckily the former homeowners of my house had the whole place repainted a light dove gray with off-white trim before putting the house on the market, so Troy and I don’t really have to repaint anything. Of course that doesn’t mean we’re not going to! The first room we’re working on is the study. We’re painting the walls Decorator White since pretty much everything I pin on my For the Home Pinterest board is white rooms. I promise I’ll show progress photos soon.

My yard is HUGE! I would be completely overwhelmed by it except I know I can trust mom to help me figure out how to landscape it. I haven’t spent too much time outside because the mosquitos are insane. They’re so bad I have bites all over my legs. So this has been my only feeble attempt at “gardening”:

Faux gardening

I brought back a succulent from the Detroit Eastern Market and it somehow managed to survive the move last month. I decided it was time to actually pot it in something other than the plastic pot it came in. So I cleaned out an old candle container (using these directions), got some extra soil from the backyard with a spoon because I don’t own a spade, and potted it! And then it died. Actually I think it died before I repotted it because it started falling apart as I was manhandling it. So then I bought a replacement at Walmart. So sad. My Walmart succulent now lives on my mantel:

succulent

I hope my succulent experience isn’t telling of my future gardening attempts.

I can’t wait until you come to visit in August. I feel like my house won’t really feel like my home until my twinie has been in it!

Love you so!

xoxo, Cath


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London Round-up

Brick-lane

Dear Cath,

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

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

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

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

Beigel bake

There are a lot of bricks in Brick Lane:

Brick lane luncheonette

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

Tate Matisse Cut Outs

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

Matissies

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

Cocon-du-vide

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

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

Harrods sandwich

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

Liberty

Liberty-london

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

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

Covent-Gardeny

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

Opera glasses

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

Green juice london

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

borough-market

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

Carnaby street

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

clean salad

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

Home-slice-pizza

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

char-sui-bao

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

Chinatown pancake

Chinatown-street-food

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

crodoughs

Pan-de-pie-london

The end!

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

Love you like Cripsy loves Egg,

Lar


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Londontown: Where we stayed

The Thames

Dear Cath,

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

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

London rain

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

Monmouth Shaftsbury

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

Air-bnb

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

Covent-Garden-flat

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

Monmouth-street

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

rooftop Lar rooftop

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

4 weeks until I see you!!!

Love you infinity more than I love London,

Lar


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