A Chapter Closed, A Chapter Begun

Ok, I know most of you that read this are on Facebook or talk to me most days anyway… But just in case the complete lack of writing over the last four months had you worried, I promise I’m alive 🙂

Between finishing our project in April (we did REALLY well!) Mom’s visit (EPIC beyond all proportions) planning my dissertation (SCARY) going back to the states for three weeks (So many friends, cities, and a beautiful wedding!) and finally hitting the ground running on my dissertation… It’s been busy to say the least.  I can honestly tell you that I haven’t had any time to write for fun since the last blog. Ok maybe not so honest… I was doing lots of fun things instead!

How about a quick photo timeline of the summer?

Pentatonix

Willow and I in Glasgow for the Pentatonix concert!

May was preparing for the final exhibition, visiting Glasgow with Willow for the Pentatonix concert, and doing the Color Me Rad 5K with my classmates.  We had a blast!

Color Run

Left photo taken by Delia- us girls before the shenanigans ensued 🙂 | Middle Photo taken by Saran- fully color bombed!! | Color bomb selfie!

But the grand finale?!  I met MOM in Frankfurt the day after the 5K!! We spent five days in Switzerland exploring Basel, Montreux, Vevey, Interlaken, and Bern.  We spent a day in Reims, France and visited the cathedral and papal palace.  We took an early train to Calais and took the ferry to Dover, then met friends in Canterbury.  We spent the next week in Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye before taking Mom down to London for her flight home.  But more about our trip later, I PROMISE 🙂

Mom and Switzerland

Swiss francs | Mama on the beach in North Berwick | Our Exhibition on display

I had a month to hang out with friends and make progress on my dissertation research before flying to Washington for Amanda and Tyler’s wedding!  I spent some time with Becca and a few fantastic days with my family the week before the wedding- I even got to be with my dad on Father’s day!  I am truly blessed to get to be with BOTH my parents on their special days 🙂

We had the bachellorette party in Astoria, Oregon and a barbecue at Amanda’s parents house, then headed to a bar for some live music.  Saturday we did the flowers and decorated the venue for the reception before the rehearsal, then went to a Thai restaurant for the rehearsal dinner.  Sunday was the big day!  We had so much fun!!

It was the honor of a lifetime to be a part of Tyler and Amanda’s wedding.  Amanda is my best friend, my sister- we shared in each other’s spiritual walks through our time as roommates in college.  It was a joy to see her marry Tyler, her perfect match!!

Wedding

Astoria Bachellorette Festivities | I got to play florist for the wedding! | All the ladies looking lovey 🙂 Photo by Cabell Tice Photography

The night of the wedding Becca and I drove to Seattle- I had a flight HOME!! for three days I got to spend some much needed time with family and friends back home.  I got to surprise my grandma and bake my grandpa a belated birthday cake.  I got to go hiking with my best friend from high school and his boyfriend, and go fishing with my daddy.  I got to have burgers and make ice cream with Rebecca and Jacki, my coworkers from the Division and Mary and Falon!

Alaska

My lovely little Summit | Fishing with Daddy!! Always a blast 🙂 | Fireweed, my all time favorite!

Back to Washington for a week, then flew out on July 13th for Edinburgh and MAD DASH DISSERTATION WRITING.  Beast Mode Activation paid off, because I submitted exactly a month to the day on August 13th! And with that, my masters studies are complete 🙂  I am completely free to enjoy the Fringe Festival and be a semi-tourist in this amazing city I have called home for the last year!

Edinburgh

This city is home now… | Buckets of good coffee here! | Coloring and Roman Holiday, How could you go wrong??

 

Now to pack, move in with Moira, and head home in a month.  I promise I will fill in the more juicy bits of my summer in the next week or so, now that my schedule is MUCH more open!  Til then, keep smiling!

Love and Laughs,

Taylor

 

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Spring In Edinburgh- A Sight For Sore Eyes

It’s official… I’m a terrible blogger.

I have a good excuse though!  It’s called a MASTERS PROGRAM.

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Submission Week… UGH.

I wish I could say I’ve been adventuring to see new places and relaxing outside street cafes and frolicking over the heather in the highlands… But alas, I’ve been chained to a computer screen.  My partner for the term project is great fun, which is about the only reason I survived!!

MORE CAFFEINE

I even invented a new coffee drink at home, inspired by facebook… Tastes just like a sweetened latte!!

Good Lord this has been a busy semester, we hardly had time to breathe.  On our second day back we had a field trip, and then another one in the first week in February, and it’s been non-stop since then.  The cool thing about the semester is that all our assignments build on the same project, so they all unique but tie together into a big exhibition in the next few weeks.  But it meant I didn’t do much except school this semester.  Outside of school, I’ve been doing my best to explore new parts of the city and to visit shops I’ve been wanting to see.

Marys Milk Bar

A visit to Mary’s Milk Bar with Cecilia. We got hot chocolate floats! This one is a white cardamom hot chocolate with a scoop of rose gelato. SO GOOD, and you can’t beat the view!

When I can, I go to see my good friend Moira who let my parents and I stay at her house over Hogmanay, and who takes care of me here in Edinburgh.  She had her hip replaced at the end of February, so any spare time I had I made it over to her house to help her while she recovered.  She’s healing slowly despite several setbacks, but she is starting to be able to move around easier.  Sore, but determined to heal.  She’s a tough lady, I think that’s why I like her so much 🙂

Moira and Willow Collage

Willow and I went to visit Moira, and had fun reading her get well cards 🙂

When classes finished on April 2nd, my classmates and I had a celebratory lunch at Ting Thai Caravan (THE BEST THAI IN EDINBURGH) and I went home to SLEEP.  I desperately needed to rest and not think about the project.  I’m happy with it despite a few things (as things always go) I just needed to take a break.  We are on Spring Break from the 3rd until the 22nd, so we get lots of time to breathe and revise our work before our exhibition on the 20th of May.

Meadows

The first blooms of spring… Crocuses in the Meadows!

This week has been GLORIOUS!! Edinburgh got the memo that we were on break, because the same day we gave our presentations the sun came out, and stayed out!  It has been absolutely gorgeous in this city all week.  Gorgeous days followed by gorgeous sunsets.  I dressed up for Easter and made my own holiday lunch, then headed to Portobello Beach for the evening church service.  I hadn’t been there yet so it was lovely to see the ocean.  I want to come back and explore a bit, but I’ll settle for figuring out the bus route for now 🙂

Easter

AMAZING Easter dinner, the gorgeous day at the beach, and stunning sunset from after church!

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Does this look about right, mom? Heehee 🙂

Tuesday was fantastic as well with a wonderful box from home!  Daddy put it together while mom was at a conference- it has JELLY and HONEY and his homemade candies in it!  It all tastes so much like home it almost makes me cry.  Mama sent me a lovely bracelet and an Easter basket with Reeses eggs, my absolute favorite candy OF. ALL. TIME.  She knows me so well 🙂 AAAANNNNNDDD…. Drumroll please….. SHE’S COMING FOR A VISIT NEXT MONTH!!!  It will be so good to see mom again!

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Easter love from HOME!!! I love my family so much 🙂

I’ve done more shopping than I should, slept a lot, cooked a lot, and am getting back into the swing of exercising.  It’s been so nice out, I’ve broken free of the treadmill 😛 Now that I’ve gotten my brain back I can start working again next week.  One more paper for my elective and then the exhibition, and it will be dissertation (thesis) time! Scary…

It’s hard to believe I’m almost a third of the way through my time in Edinburgh.  It makes me really sad to think of leaving.  This place has truly become a home and I love living here.  I DO know that when I leave at the end of this term, I will definitely be back!  I have met too many wonderful people for this one year to be the last time I see them. Moira, for one, would never forgive me if I didn’t come back 🙂

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Beauty wherever you look 🙂

Mom visits in a month, in two months I head to Seattle for Amanda’s wedding, and then I have just a month and a half left to enjoy the wonder of this city.  Time really, really flies, much faster than I wanted it to.  I’m doing my best to make the most of every single second I have left in this new home of mine.

Next time… I will hopefully have a few more updates from Christmas!!! I know I know, I am a dismal failure of a blogger, but I’m doing my best 🙂

See you soon!

Love and Laughs,

-Taylor

Mid-term Revelations

And now I want to talk about Edinburgh at present.  (This is the super fun part of waiting forever to blog… you all get to see my split personalities! Teeehee) Let’s be real, if you know me, this is as organized as my ADD lets me get 🙂

Room Evolve Sem 2

My room has evolved… Again 🙂

I’ve been having a moment or two.  You know, one of those “sit back and look at life” moments.  I am the kind of person who has been looking forward to her life, her whole life, if you follow.  I am always looking forward to the next step, waiting for the perfect.  Subconsciously putting my life on hold because I am holding out for what the future holds.

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It still takes my breath away.

For the first time in a VERY long time, my now and my future have collided.  I am happy here not just because I am living out a personal dream and goal, but because I truly feel like God has me right where I need to be.  I am happy because I feel like I belong.  I have spent many years being the odd one out and feeling just ok with it, because I knew who I was and I knew I just needed to find where I fit.  While this might not be where I stay, this is right where I belong, right now.

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My flat mates spoiled me for my birthday!

I have great flat mates who are fast becoming my family.  I feel like their mama bear and feed them my culinary creations… No one seems to complain haha.  They take care of me when I’m to stubborn to take care of myself, and we work through our struggles together that come with living in a foreign country.  I love them, and I will be truly heartbroken when I have to say goodbye in six months.

Valentine Cookies

Valentine’s Day treats 🙂

I have amazing classmates who remind me to LIVE in this awesome place we have all moved to!  They remind me to laugh no matter how rough the classwork is, and to take time to enjoy life instead of holing up in our dungeon *cough cough* er, studio.  We are all here to learn and grow as students, but I am learning so much more from these guys, my favorite goofballs 🙂

Goofy Classmates

I love them all 😀 Nehaa and Cristina | Cecilia | Chu and Christina extricating a bowtie off Kawin 🙂

I am blessed to have found a great church community.  The college-ish folk have accepted me and care for me like I have been there for years!  My dear friend Moira has firmly lodged herself in my heart from day one, and for reasons I still haven’t figured out, spoils me ROTTEN.  She has become my Scottish Grandma, this feisty 75 year old with more spunk than anyone I know.  She offered her HOUSE to my parents and I over Hogmanay, and slept at her neighbor’s house so the three of us could stay together!!! If that ain’t generosity, I don’t know what is.

Cheerleaders

By biggest cheerleaders. The hardest two to be away from…

And always always always, I have the love of my family and friends cheer-leading from 4112 miles away.  My heart aches from missing you, but the encouragement you send keeps me going when I feel like breaking down. You are all the reasons I had the courage to go on my big adventure.

Love from Home

Love from home 🙂

I am still learning, still loving, still laughing, still making mistakes.  I look a little less like a doe-eyed tourist and still explore the crevices of this old city.  It’s weird to think back to where I was last year and to imagine what I would be doing if I hadn’t said yes to this crazy adventure.  It makes me even more thankful to the people who kicked me out the door and told me not to be afraid, to live this adventure with my coattails blazing!  Even though I don’t know where I’m headed, I just keep walking where God tells me and find joy in knowing I am where he wants me to be 🙂

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Haggis, Neeps and Tatties for Burn’s Night! That’s about as Scottish as it gets 🙂

Love and Laughs,

-Taylor

European Shmorgasbord

Hello and a very happy (albeit late) New Year/ Hogmanay to you!!

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Taken outside Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna

It’s hard to describe my past month and a half without being struck by just how blessed I am.  I have dreamed since age six of travelling and going to far flung corners of the world.  While none of the places I visited in the last five weeks are flung very far, I was still able to see 8 countries and 18 cities with one backpack (mostly) and one pair of shoes (til Mom and Dad joined me 🙂 ) Not bad for my first backpacking adventure!

Since this post would quickly become a novel if I wrote out my whole travel story today, I have decided to break it down into much more manageable chunks of travel goodness.  Over the next few weeks I will do a post on each of the cities I visited and what I experienced along the way.  Don’t worry, I’ll still be mixing in my good old Scottishenanigans! 🙂

Not many shenanigans today I’m afraid… My first full day back in Edinburgh consisted of laundry, catching up on homework, and sending a million emails to sort out everything I neglected while I was away.  Classes start up on Monday so I have to figure out where my A-game went and get it polished before then!

Hogmanay

While it’s still generally regarded as the new year, I’ll quickly mention the bedlam that is Hogmanay!  Scotland’s New Year celebration rings in each year with a bang… And Edinburgh starts off with an amazing torch procession up Prince’s street!  The next night is the 31st, and the street party that shuts down the middle of the city.  I didn’t partake, but I did pick up a t-shirt!  And just saying… The fireworks are INSANE.  The best I have ever seen.  Stop by YouTube to see just how cool they were.

Happy Friday, stay tuned for my first holiday stop- Brussels!

Love and laughs,

-Taylor

All The Way to 1124- A Hermit and an Abbey

Last Wednesday, my Scottish Architecture Before 1650 class went on a trip to Inchcolm Abbey.  Check out this awesome 12th Century ruin!

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Inchcolm Abbey- Built in 1125 as tribute to David 1’s brother Alexander.

Yes, I get to go visit ancient abbeys and castles for class credit 🙂  I love Scotland!

Last Wednesday I hopped on a train at Waverly Station headed for Dalmeny.  The train stopped just before the famous Firth of Forth (or as my mom and I jokingly say, the Forth of Firth… I still can’t get it right).

Forth of Firth

 

From the train station it was a short walk through the trees to the waterfront.  Inchcolm Abbey is located on Inchcolm Island in the Firth of Forth.  The ferry dock is right at the base of the bridge, you can just see a blue smudge of a ferry in the middle image above.  My teacher arrived with his two adorable dogs, who accompanied us all day!

Let's Get Married on a Boat!

Good to know if you have the urge to get married on a boat!

The ride was COLD (Yes this Alaskan can admit being COLD) and we got splashed a few times on the hour long ride to Inchcolm Island.  Besides the wind, this place was amazing!

Inchcolm Details

We wandered through the abbey, up tiny spiral staircases and up the tower.  Oh, correction… The rest of the class went up.  After the first tiny claustrophobic spiral staircase, and in the memory of the never-ending staircase at St. Andrews, I opted to skip the tower this time.  I think I can sleep soundly without being haunted by that decision 🙂

Hermit's Cell

The last place we visited at Inchcolm before we left was the Hermit’s Cell.  This was the original building on the island back when Alexander I and his crew were rescued here, and before the abbey was built.  There is enough room for a pallet and a place to kneel to pray.  I really liked this little place- It was peaceful, set back in nice foliage, and had a sacred feel to it.  I would love to go back just to sit in this little alcove.

After Inchcolm and the ferry ride back, we visited Dalmeny Church.  I don’t know much about this church, but the details were beautiful!

Dalmeny

 

This weekend… Halloween Shenanigans (Scottish, of course) and a trip to the Highlands!  Stay tuned for more photos!

Halloween Preview

Halloween Preview 🙂

Have a great week!

Love and Laughs,

-Taylor

 

 

A Trip in a Time Machine

Hello there!  Life is good across the pond 🙂

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This is where my classes will be. Dude- seriously.

I’ve been here for just over a week, and I’m already in love with this city.  It truly feels like I’ve stepped back in time, like I’ve been sucked into a time warp and I’m living in the Renaissance.  Except I don’t think everyone wore stilettos, maxi skirts or had green hair back then… We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto!!!

Room Evolve

Yay flats!  No not the shoes- apartments!  Despite being tiny my room is really cozy, and I’ve finally gotten things where I want them.  Campus poster sale, IKEA, and a borrowed airline blanket make for a not-so-dorm-like living space 🙂 My seven flat mates are all fantastic as well, hopefully you’ll get to see them in later posts!

There is a HUGE lovely kitchen, with lots of cabinet space, two ovens, and three refrigerators.  Even though we live in university accommodation, we have to provide most of our kitchen tools, any room enhancements, and toilet paper.  TOILET PAPER.  Seriously?!?  Of all the things to include you people give us electric kettles, but NOT TOILET PAPER?!? Apparently the UK has weird priorities…

Arthurs Seat

This being Fresher’s Week, there have been tons of events put on by the university to welcome new students to Edinburgh.  I attended a few new student seminars (Meh) Met with my program coordinator (AWESOME!!) Got a ton of great free stuff at a student free shop, joined nine student organizations, went on a coffee crawl to learn the cool local haunts, climbed Arthur’s Seat (the adjacent mountain) and went out to a pub with my flat mates.  It has been a crazy roller coaster ride of getting used to a new city/new school/foreign country, but I’m truly loving it so far.  I miss my mountains and trees though.  Daily family Skypes have made my homesickness MUCH lower than was expected 🙂

Tomorrow, Sunday, I have a job interview for a nanny position that would REALLY help me with finances.  Prayers and happy vibes would be much appreciated!  Tomorrow’s agenda also includes researching churches, finalizing my classes, and getting notebooks.

Haggis isn't as scary as it sounds!!!

Haggis isn’t as scary as it sounds!!!

I’m living each day as it comes and finding new blessings wrapped up in each one.  If the start is any indicator for the rest of the year, I’m going to have a hard time leaving this place 🙂

Love and Laughs,

-Taylor