Lar Hearts Scottish City Life

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By now Lar only has a few more weeks left in Scotland. As much as she hates the lack of sunlight in the winter, she’s going to miss her adopted home of four years so much. When I asked her what she was going to miss the most about living in Edinburgh, she said her friends and coworkers. She and Matt have created a lovely life in Edinburgh and surrounded themselves with amazing people. They’ve also totally become completely at home with the way of life there. Lar walks and takes the bus/train everywhere while Matt bikes to work every day. They live in the center of the city where they’re within a one minute walk of an amazing beer bar (Hanging Bat), corner shops, a coffee shop, pubs, an Indian restaurant, and a chip shop. And they’re totally smitten with how unpretentious and open folks are in general in Scotland.

I have no doubt Lar will create an equally fulfilled life in Seattle, but I imagine this last month won’t be easy. I know she and Matt will make a number of return trips to Scotland and hope they let me tag along when they do ;)

I took the photos in this post while I was visiting two weeks ago. I love how at-home she looks in these photos – but not as much as I love the fact that she’ll be moving back closer to me! (insert maniacal laughter here)

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LarandMatt_machina

Lar_train

LarandMatt_LothianRoad


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Transitions

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Hi Lovely Readers!

So Cath was here and then what felt like a blink of the eye she was gone again! Six days is just not enough time. We galavanted around Edinburgh and Glasgow eating lots of nice food and drinking lots of nice drinks. I can’t believe it’s been just a few days since she left because it feels like weeks.

But I shouldn’t whinge. I’ll see her in seven weeks time in Atlanta! I’m both so excited to be back stateside and extremely sad to be leaving Edinburgh, our home for the last four years.

The next few weeks sound like a traveler’s heaven: one week in Edinburgh, then one week in Cornwall, back to Edinburgh for two weeks, and then a road trip around Croatia for 13 days before we fly into Atlanta. We’ll have a few weeks in Atlanta before we move to Seattle. It sounds exciting and dreamy … and terrifying.

The traveling sounds just perfect, but around the days of travel and exploration are packing and long good byes to friends in Edinburgh. I hate to think about leaving even if change can be exciting and refreshing. Ending the chapter in one city and country and starting afresh in a new one is thrilling, but also very hard. Learning to make new friends, finding a job, working through the culture shock of moving to a different country again (even if it’s home), feeling homesick for Edinburgh and Atlanta and Washington D.C.

I’m a homebody that’s ended up as a sort of nomad and my mind and heart become bamboozled when major change happens. My instinct is to wish the messy time of transition over so I can just soothe my ruffled feathers and settle on a secure perch at the end of the journey. But I know within that “mess” you miss so much if you choose to not sit with that discomfort and fluttering feeling in your chest. So this time I’m going to try to let it happen — and enjoy the change even while being terrified. And I hope you guys don’t mind coming along for the ride!


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Packing for a Not-So-Summery Vacation

travel shoes

In less than two days (TWO!!!) I’ll be on a plane heading towards Lar/Scotland – woohoo! I’m so excited, it’s going to be impossible for me to concentrate at work for the next few days. Lar and I haven’t seen each other in person in almost 10 months. I never thought there would be a time in my life when I wouldn’t see my twin sister for more than 10 weeks let alone 10 months. Ridiculous.

Do you know what else is ridiculous? The whole week that I’m in Edinburgh, the high temperature will hover around 60 degrees (48 is the low) – and of course it’s suppose to rain the whole time. After experiencing weeks on end of 90 degree weather in Atlanta this summer, my brain can’t really remember what chilly weather feels like.

I studied abroad in Edinburgh and have visited Lar a couple of times since she moved across the pond so  you’d think I’d be more prepared for the difference in climate. But it wasn’t until I looked up the weather in Edinburgh for the next week and a half that I realized the cute, summery shoes I was planning to pack for my trip were not going to cut it. Add that to the fact that most of my suitcase is going to be filled with goodies for Lar, I don’t have tons of room for bulky boots (read: Hunters).

I’ve finally narrowed down my shoe selection to the four pairs pictured above.

1. Sneakers – I don’t even know what kind of Nikes these are. My friend gave them to me because they didn’t fit her and now they’re my favorite shoes to work out in. I plan on wearing these on the plane, so that’ll free up some room in the suitcase, and I’ll wear them on days we’re going to be doing a lot of walking as long as I can style them with an outfit that makes me look more like this than this. Also, Lar and I plan to go to her gym at least once while I’m visiting, so I can’t not bring sneakers.

2. J.Crew Factory Flats – I mentioned these in my 2015 Q1 Favorites post and I still love them. These are the most impractical shoes I’m bringing. They’re not great to wear when it’s raining and after walking around in them for hours my feet begin to hurt on the bottom, but I needed something that kind of looks fancy.

3. Mossimo canvas sneakers – I mentioned these in my 2015 Q2 Favorites. They’re not as on-trend as some of the other Van-like sneakers, but I think they’re perfectly generic. I know that doesn’t really sound like a selling point, but I like wearing non-statement shoes.

4. Mossimo boots – I know, I have a thing for Target shoes apparently. I just bought these, but I can’t find them online to include a link. I might be too old to pull off these suckers, but they’re really comfortable and have a little bit of a heel. Plus, they’re shorter and more compact that my winter boots. If I do end up pulling them off, I’ll include an outfit pic in a future post.

Holy moly. I can’t believe I just spent so space writing about four pairs of basic shoes. I haven’t even figured out what else I’m going to pack for the trip. I’m the type of packer that makes lists for everything – so much so that I don’t think I could physically pack without a list.

Here’s hoping I won’t get so caught up in list-making that I end up throwing everything in my suitcase at the last minute!

P.S.: I’m hoping Lar and I will find time to blog together this week, so there shouldn’t be a break in blogging. I’ll also try to Snapchat/Instagram the trip as much as possible so make sure to follow me at AsianCajunsCath.


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A Road Trip Around the Highlands

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While the rest of the Northern Hemisphere swelters under unbearably humid climes, those of us in Scotland dream of heat-soaked skin and a cloudless sky. To those of you sweating it out some place horrendously sticky, you just have to believe me when I say this road trip was magical because of how hot and sunny it was! The Highlands are beautiful every time of the year, even in the pouring rain or a dark, eery mist, but when the sun comes out, it’s full on Brigadoon and the land of Oz rolled into one.

And it wasn’t just gloriously sunny. It was hot! Like hotter than 69 degrees, hot! For those of you who aren’t totally tired of hearing me drone on about how cool Scottish summers are, let me just remind you that my first July here it rained nearly every day and didn’t get above a depressingly chilly 56 degrees. When you forget what heat feels like, you know your vitamin D levels are in trouble.

So to spend four days in the Highlands with not only the sun shining at full tilt, but to also get a sun burn! Why that’s down right unheard of in these parts! The sky was blue, blue, blue and the clouds fluffy. The sheep plentiful and the grass a brilliant green. And even during the height of tourist season, you can hike for miles and not run into another soul (save those sheep and a ‘coo’ or too).

We spent a few days traipsing around Loch Ness, hitting up Fort Augustus, Inverness and Aberfeldy on the way. Apart from some hiking (in the sun and heat! Have I mentioned that already?), we also gorged ourselves on fresh, sweet Scottish strawberries, sun bathed in a castle’s garden and had a neep of whisky to celebrate my birthday on The Hottest Day of the Year (in Scotland)!!! Oh it was heavenly. If  the Scottish Highlands aren’t on your bucket list already, erase your number one and put it there.

P.S. This post might be sponsored by my the feeble quantities of vitamin D that are left in my body after living in Scotland for four years. The Highlands are gobsmackingly beautiful, but my cells have definitely been dazzled by my recent forays into the sun (and heat!). Looking back on these photos, I’m noticing a lot of clouds when in my head every single day was cloudless and really sunny. I think most of the world would describe this kind of weather as ‘mostly cloudy’. Is there such thing as sun-coloured glasses? I definitely had those on.

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A Summer Wedding Outfit

Summer Wedding

 

I totally love how Lar has simplified her wardrobe. I’m trying to do the same, but I’m going at a much slower pace than her. I did pretty well with my last trip to the mall, but I did break down two weekends ago and buy this dress for a friend’s wedding.

BB Dakota blue dress

 

BB Dakota dress | Michael Kors purse | Luxury Rebel heels | Jennifer Zeuner bracelet | Topshop ring

summer wedding accessories

 

summer wedding shoes

 

Just like Lar, I’m struggling with finding a balance between simplifying my wardrobe while also being creative stylistically. If I was more disciplined about simplifying my closet, I wouldn’t have purchased this dress and would have worn the same summer wedding dress I wore last year. The only problem was that I was bored and uninspired with last year’s dress, so I bought this BB Dakota one. Yep, #firstworldproblems. I know. But I do find it hard to stay inspired with a limited wardrobe. Although, at the same time, I’m also tempted by the idea of an everyday uniform – like this woman who wore the same outfit everyday for 3 years. Hmmmm….something to ponder over the holiday weekend.

I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July!


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An Outfit Post!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Lovely Edinburgh

The Shore Leith

THe shore

Robert Louis Stevenson memorial

Castle farmers Market

St Cuthberts

Edinburgh castle

Matt and I have two months left before we move back to the States after four years in Edinburgh. Because I’m a mushy sentimentalists, I’m already starting to get very nostalgic. Edinburgh is such a beautiful city. These pics above are all places I pass every day on the way to work. Yup, I walk by a Castle (or what essentially looks like Hogwarts), every single day and it’s about a five minute walk from my front door.

But I have to thank Edinburgh for trying to keep my nostalgia slightly in check by giving us a wet and cool start to summer (I still wear my winter coats some days!). I seriously wouldn’t have it any other way though. A place this beautiful has to be tempered by something or it would be too unbearably perfect.

See what I mean about the sentimental nostalgia? Someone pass me a hanky!

Another way to stop the sentimental sniffles? Thinking about being on the same continent with Cath again!


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Charleston

Charleston

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality … I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’ve been feeling so sad since Wednesday night’s shootings. Maybe using a Dr. King quote seems like a cliche, but it made me feel hopeful even though the horrendous act committed in Charleston seems like such a destruction of that very progress MLK believed in. For a man that had seen so much evil and hate to still trust in a reality of love and brotherhood, is so immensely inspiring. As inspiring as the survivors forgiving a man that has caused so much pain to so many people.


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Springtime in London!

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London is one of my most favourite places in the world. It’s one of those places I always feel at home — even though I’ve never lived there! I love the hustle and bustle of an international city mingling with gobs of history. I love walking down Brick Lane sniffing food stalls full of bubbling curries and freshly baked bread as much as I like people watching in Soho whilst slurping lemon, basil sorbet (because that’s a thing!) and oggling Matisses at the Tate Modern. Shops are always open, the people are always varied (and somehow seem more comfortable being awesomely eccentric than in other international cities I’ve been to) and museums are packed.

This past weekend, I saw a different side of London. Not only was it hot and sunny (can it still be considered part of the UK when it does that?!), but it also seemed so calm and beautiful. I spent a lot of time traipsing around Hyde Park and looking at trees sniffing roses. And on my last morning in the city, I finally found Leila’s Shop in Shoreditch where I had the most simple, but beautiful breakfast in the world (fried eggs with butter and sage and a side of crusty bread and out-of-this-world butter). I think of Leila like the Alice Waters of East London. The pics above of the peaches and sweet william are from her shop. I bought a peach — it smelled so peachy and tasted like sweet, syrupy heaven.

Nature and slow, simple living isn’t what I usually expect from one of the largest (and most expensive) cities in the world, but I love it just as much as the louder, busier sides of the city too.

My dream is to one day live in London (and magically move all my family and friends there too). Do you guys have a place that feels like home to you that isn’t actually where you’ve ever lived?


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2015 Q2 Favorites

Q2 2015 Favorites

Here’s my second favorites blog post for the year. In my first post I mentioned that I’ll only do these every quarter because I don’t think I have enough favorites to make it a monthly thing. So without further ado, here are the seven things I’ve been loving this quarter.

1. Mossimo sneakers – I know these are kind of passé, but I’ve been looking for a replacement for my black TOMs that I wore out last summer. These required no breaking in, were only $16, and go with everything.

2. Physicians Formula Tinted Moisturizer - I’ve been using this stuff for years. It’s super light coverage so it’s perfect for the summer and has SPF 15. I don’t use this if I want a more finished look, but it’s perfect for daily makeup.

3. Oribe Texturing Spray – I’m not going to lie. This stuff is expensive. I paid $26 for this little bottle (at a local salon, it’s a little cheaper online) and actually thought I was buying hairspray. I was about to return it when I gave it a try and was hooked. It’s perfect for reviving second day hair and adds texture unlike just regular dry shampoo. It also smells amazing!

4. Pure Barre – The socks aren’t a favorite, but the workout is! A Pure Barre studio opened up two blocks from where I work and I decided to take advantage of the new client special. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Pure Barre (or any barre class for that matter), it has nothing to do with ballet. It’s more like pilates, but with a focus on isometric moves and exhausting major muscle groups: abs, thighs, arms, etc. It’s one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done, but after 12 classes, I already feel stronger.

5. Jennifer Zeuner bracelet – Another expensive item on the list, I’ll admit, but I love how delicate it is and I wear it almost everyday. And the main reason why it’s on my favorites list is because Lar bought one too and I love it when we wear the same things – even if we are thousands of miles apart.

6. Mario Badescu Facial Spray – I purchased this at an Urban Outfitters when I was in Phoenix two months ago. My skin felt so dry, so I would spray this on my face throughout the day and it completely helped. Now I use it to help set my makeup.

7. Yes to Coconut Cooling Lip Oil – This is a super cheap item – less than $5. I first read about it in a magazine and thought it was overhyped, but I’m so glad I tried it. Unlike lip balm, it doesn’t sit on top of your lips and it doesn’t feel greasy at all.

Are you a fan of any of these items? Anyone else doing Pure Barre? I’d love to hear what your recent favorites are.


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