KonMari

I KonMaried my clothes today. It amazes me that just 18 months ago I got rid of four huge Ikea bags full of clothes, and I still ended up with a pretty hefty pile today. I am the worst at getting rid of things but this method works out for me. It’s probably all the anthropomorphism going on, to be honest. I loved thanking my clothes for what they had done for me. All the attachment I had to a ratty old college t-shirt that was stained and probably smelled a bit? Gone. All the nostalgia I felt for countless Forever 21 dresses (really long shirts now that I think about it)? Gone. My closet is now a random assortment of joy sparking clothes.

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Not sure where my style is going to go from here. I kept that top shirt because it looks good on and it’s my guilty pleasure that reminds me of a Real Housewives of the OC top. Does it “go” with the rest of my wardrobe, no. I was also pretty joyful about a pair of metallic blue jeans but no clue where I would wear those. That’s another reason I like this method. I could never get on board with the 20 piece wardrobe or whatever. I can keep the random outfit choices that I love and still feel organised.

There’s more to come though! This whole process was started because of our impending move. I thought I would get all our packing done today but I still need to KonMari my jewellery, shoes, makeup, magazines, kitchenware and books. We get the keys to our place next weekend, move in the following weekend and I do not want to bring any joyless objects in the new house.

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2014

Hard to fit a full year in one post, but this about sums it up (and yes, we still have Fernando).

2014

I’m back in America and the ex-pat title has switched over to Danny. It’s been a year since I moved over, and even though I’m not jetting off to Europe or trying to figure out Scottish life, I figured it was time to dust off this blog and document our new life in California. More to come!

Four Years

On Thursday, Danny and I celebrated four years of marriage. Four years! Cannot believe that I’ve been married for that long – didn’t I just graduate college?!

We went out to eat at Chaophraya, whose Glasgow location is the biggest Thai restaurant in Europe. It’s housed in a huge grade A listed building and I wish I could say I got gorgeous pictures of the place but my phone camera has been wonky lately and I wasn’t about to cart the DSLR to my anniversary dinner.

We did snap this one before the taxi arrived and I managed to get some seriously blurry shots of our feast.

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We ordered the banquet style dinner and I was stuffed at the end of the meal.

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Siam Smile cocktail and a side of our appetiser platter.

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From the left, four seasons duck curry, chili and garlic pork belly, black pepper beef and ginger shrimp. Not the best picture but it shows just how much food we ate. And yes, all those dishes were empty by the end of the night.

We finished off with fruit fondue then headed home right after dinner as it was a “school” night. Can’t wait until next year when it’ll be on a Friday. Five years and a Friday, we’ll have to do something extra special for that!

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Copenhagen Weekender

Three months ago, I posted about Sweden and promised to come back with a recap of my time in Denmark. Then life got in the way, big time.

So, this is my Copenhagen post. Finally.

Our requirements for this trip were chiefly cost and time constraints. I couldn’t take a full day off work and we wanted it to be inexpensive for obvious reasons. The Edinburgh-Copenhagen flight worked out perfectly and the times of the flights meant we only needed two nights in a hotel but got a full 2 1/2 days. The cherry on top? Our random pick meant we got to see the famous Little Mermaid statue, one of my childhood dreams. We had no other plans for the trip so spent Sunday on a day long shopping trip/walking tour/search for the statue.

The crazy busy bike park at the Central Station.

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The statue!

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Amalienborg, or the winter home of the Danish royal family.

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There was also a lot of shopping involved on this day. I ended up buying nail polish, surprise, surprise.

We ended our day at Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world and inspiration for Walt Disney when he was dreaming up Disneyland. Such a cute little place!

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And no photos, but we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant on the way to the airport. The best Chinese I’ve had in Europe. British-Chinese doesn’t even compare. All the food we had in Copenhagen was good actually. There was a street around the corner from our hotel that had a line of restaurants and we picked a different one each night.

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It was the height of summer so everyone was out, enjoying the weekend and the weather. It wasn’t scorching, but if anyone got too cold, the restaurants had blankets to wrap around your legs.

Like Sweden, I would love to go back to Denmark for a longer trip. Our visit was perfect but so short.

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Sweden

Two weeks ago my friend Suzanne and I took a quick Friday-Monday trip to Copenhagen, Denmark. The trip was made even more quick by our day spent in Sweden, just a short train ride away.

My knowledge of Sweden before this trip was limited to Ikea and the American Girl doll Kirsten but I really enjoyed my short time there and would love to go back one day. I’ve heard the countryside is beautiful and Stockholm is supposed to be an amazing city for a weekend break.

Sturday morning we walked over to Copenhagen’s Central Station and purchased tickets to Malmo, the Swedish city across the sea. The tickets were around £20 return and the trip took about 45 minutes.

When we arrived at Malmo’s Central we wandered round for a bit, trying to find the quickest route to the beach. We stumbled on Malmo’s main square.

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Not waiting to miss out on any beach time we eventually asked for directions and hopped on a bus with loads of other people heading to the beach, Ribersborg, along the coast of Öresund, for the day.

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Ribersborgs Kallbadhus, an open air bath house built in 1898.

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My view for the day. There were a lot of people at the beach but it didn’t feel crowded.

On the way back we decided to walk it and got to see more of Malmo and its parks.

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These seemed to be little fish shops. Perhaps they’re open in the morning or during the week?

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Love these black velvet petunias.

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Malmö Museer. The city’s museum housed in an old citadel built in the 1400’s.

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We did a bit of shopping before catching the train back to Copenhagen and I ended up buying a pair of tennis shoes. My first pair of shoes with laces since I was in college! They came in very handy the next day when we had an epic walk around Copenhagen.

Officially a Brit!

Happy Fourth of July! But as of last week, I am officially a Brit!

It’s been a long and expensive process and I am so happy to be free of UKBA/Home Office/whatever they’re calling themselves these days. I sent my application in though the Nationality Checking Service on May 10 and received my letter of invitation to the citizenship ceremony on June 12. My ILR took four months, so this was such a relief.

The morning after receiving my invitation I phoned up Glasgow City Council to book my ceremony. The June 18th date was all booked, but I was able to get in for June 25th with strict instructions to be on time and bring my invitation letter.

Leading up to the ceremony people I had no idea what to expect, how many people would be there, how long it would be, where it would be. I finally received all the location details in the mail and the rest I found out on the day.

My ceremony was at 11:30 but they asked us to arrive at 11. We were allowed to bring two guests, but I only brought Danny along as I don’t know that many people who’d be free at 11:30 on a Tuesday morning. Even I had to take a long lunch as I currently I can’t take any holidays at work.

We arrived at Glasgow City Chambers at 11 and waited around in reception for them to call us in and get checked in. There were 20 other new citizens that day and most people had brought one or two guests. I overheard another American, and other people seems to be from Eastern Europe/Russia, China and Pakistan/India. Very vague guesses as I’m obviously not 100% sure where everyone was from! There were a couple of other young couples, a father and son, a whole family and one girl who was there all by herself. Quite a mix.

On the way in the handed us a card with the oath on it and we sat and waited for the ceremony to begin.

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The ceremony started promptly at 11 and was led by the superintendent registrar. After a quick word about what it means to be a British citizen, we were invited to stand up and repeat the oath/pledge of allegiance. There was another American in the room and you could hear him above all the others. I made sure to use my quiet British voice!

We were then called up one by one to get our certificate and the ceremony ended with the national anthem, God Save the Queen. I had read somewhere that Scottish ceremonies also play Flower of Scotland (considered by many to be Scotland’s unofficial anthem) but perhaps they were asked to stop, as we’re not independent yet!

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After a quick tea and coffee reception filled with huge chunks of millionaire’s shortbread, Bakewell tarts and coconut cake, Danny and I went across the road to have lunch at Pinto’s. A very un-British choice but I couldn’t exactly go back to work stuffed with fish and chips and a pint (I should probably lay off the stereotypes now that I am one).

Interesting fact – the UK only started doing ceremonies in 2004. Before that they just posted your citizenship certificate in the mail. I’d always assumed I’d be doing a ceremony and even though it was a hassle to leave work in the middle of the day, I’m glad they do it this way now. It does make it more meaningful and I was especially struck when I remembered that it’s been exactly 10 years since I set foot on British soil. I’d have to check my trip dates again, but I went to the UK for the first time in June 2003 and I’m pretty sure my trip into Scotland was around June 25th.

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When I was 17 it was fair to assume that I would be a college graduate, in a relationship, working in a job, etc by 27. But in a completely different country? In which I can now vote, hold that little red passport and feel as if I know so intricately even after only four years here? I never would have imagined.

Barcelona Break

Took a very last minute, very quick trip to Barcelona last weekend. It had to come together quickly due to mine and Danny’s work schedules which sees the both of us without days off until the end of summer. I used feel guilty taking time off (so American!!) but after only three years here in Scotland, I’ve come to adapt and love the Euro holiday calendar. You’ve got your spring bank holidays, early summer weekender, late summer weeks abroad, mid autumn time off, two weeks Christmas break, etc. Glorious.

So, Barcelona. I also did this in a very Euro-way by completely ignoring most of the important historical touristy stuff and making it my personal mission to get a tan, lots of drinks and some good grub. I even managed to get in a bit of Spanish discount shopping!

There’s more photos on the fancy camera but this is pretty much my weekend in Barcelona.

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DRINKS. BEACH. DRINKS (in popsicle form). DRINKS. FOOTBALL.

Holiday success.

Late May Bank Holiday

Bank holiday weekends are a wonderful thing. Lucky me, we get two in May right after a four day Easter weekend. In 2011 and 2012 we got an extra added on because of the Royal Wedding and the Diamond Jubilee. No extras this year, but Britain is still a wonderful bank holiday filled country in the spring. In comparison, this weekend is only a two day and I’m coming up to that fear time on a Sunday evening. Need to distract myself with pictures of last weekend.

I wanted to take a last minute trip for this bank holiday but flight prices were higher than normal due to well, the holiday! Scotland always seems to have good weather during the last weekend in May so it wasn’t too bad to stay home. Last year I was in a bathing suit at Ayr beach! No bathing suit this time, but the sun was out and temperatures reached 20 degrees celsius.

On Saturday Danny and I walked into town for some shopping. He wandered into H&M for some work shirts and we ended up walking out with some work shirts and a new bikini for me. No beach holidays booked yet but this is good motivation!

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We continued our walk to the West End with BrewDog in mind as our destination for lunch. On the way we stopped at McPhabb’s for a Pimm’s and beer, but left after one drink because we couldn’t get a seat in the sun.

Brewdog only had indoor seating but the view, beer and good food more than made up for it.

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I didn’t think I liked beer but trying some from a small brewery makes a world of difference. I got the ‘Punk IPA’ which I would definitely drink again! Their food is also really good. We got a meat lovers pizza which sounds quite down market and pub-y but it had fennel and fancy meats and was delicious. Went too fast for a picture.

As we were eating Danny saw that a few of his friends were on the train into town so we headed over to Ashton Lane to meet up. It was packed. At first it was really weird because it felt like a total dude-fest but then I realized that all the groups of guys were out early for the Champions League game later that night.

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After a few drinks I left my guy to do the same and headed home happy with a Taco Mazama burrito.

Since it was still alright weather on Sunday we headed out for a proper day trip. The weather was kinda overcast as we picked up picnic supplies but it was a gorgeous day in our destination, Oban.

We stumbled upon Dunollie Castle and hearing it was open day, we eagerly went in. The views from the crumbling, old tower were amazing. I need to live in a castle by the sea!

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inside dunollie castle

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After our bit of historical time we drove to the opposite side of town for our picnic.

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In heaven!

On our drive home it started raining and continued to rain for the actual bank holiday Monday. Tis to be expected! I had a brilliant weekend anyway and who can argue with a four day work week?

Birthday Day

I’ve been 27 for a week now. Officially in my late twenties but I think I can still get away with ‘the end of my mid-twenties’.

I’m only posting about my birthday now as I got a whole week of celebrations. Half day from work on Wednesday, long bank holiday weekend and an Italy planning dinner last night.

On my actual birthday I had to get up and go to work, but Danny drove me and we stopped off for an iced vanilla latte so I guess that was okay. Work has been slow lately but no one wants to spend their day at work. I finished up on the dot at 12:30 and Danny picked me up again to take me out to lunch.

We went out to Central Market which opened last fall but since I hibernate over the winter I hadn’t heard of it until now. We snagged an outside table and prayed for the clouds to stay away.

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They did! I got oysters to start and a chicken sandwich with bacon jam for my main. And prosecco of course! There was a cupcake shop across the street for dessert and then I headed home to change and get ready for our evening.

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A few weeks ago I bought a voucher for a 4 course meal at Chardon D’Or and this seemed like the perfect time to use it. The restaurant was really nice but very quiet as it was a Wednesday. Very fancy as well. I felt like I had to whisper the entire time as to not cause a scene! Service and food were great though.

Before dinner we headed to Limelight for a pre dinner cocktail. Their cocktails span the decade and I choose the Aviation, which was invented in 1915. So good. I’ve recently discovered that I love gin cocktails so this was perfect. We also cracked open a bottle of Tolosa for the celebrations and I was very happy to wake up clear headed the next day. Guess I’m not getting too old!

Unemployment to Canary Wharf

So, since my last post:

– I got struck down with the flu and spent my week before work in bed, watching TV and Netflix and moaning. On the bright side I watched all three seasons of Downton Abbey and the Godfather trilogy.

– Started work on April 1 and due to a variety of circumstances ended up being almost the most senior member of the team.

– Told that I might need to go down to London to train for a week or two, sometime in April.

– Trip was finalised on Wednesday, left on Sunday and now I’m here for three weeks!

Oh and I spent the weekend in Coatbridge for an engagement party and had to catch my flight to London very tired and praying that I had remembered to pack everything. The flight was BA from Glasgow to London City Airport and it was so easy. I got to check a huge bag, got a free drink and snack and the distance from the airport to Canary Wharf is literally 15 minutes. Of course I got the only London cabbie who doesn’t know the area that well so the trip was more like 30 minutes, but I finally got into my flat and set out to explore the area before work on Monday.

Since then it’s been days at the office and evenings trying to navigate around this tiny area of London that is packed with huge banks, busy people and more food choices than the whole of Scotland. I’m in a serviced apartment so it’s nice to be settled in and feel at home here. I’m currently doing a load of laundry and all my clothes and stuff are all put away in dressers and drawers. I eat breakfast in the flat but am taking advantage of all the aforementioned food choices for lunch and dinner. So far I’ve had fro-yo, sushi, a spicy tofu wrap and goat’s cheese ravioli. Hoping that my walk to work and back will cancel all this out.

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A quick snap on my walk. This beats ScotRail any day!