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

 

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!!

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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

Fore!! Day Trip to St. Andrews

Happy Monday!

Saturday was my first trip in Scotland visiting attractions outside Edinburgh.  This is only a SLIGHT stretch… Mom and I went to Rosslyn Chapel just outside Edinburgh when we were here in 2012.  But it’s BARELY outside the city, so I’m stretching it 🙂

St. Andrews is around 45 minutes from campus.  Three giant tour buses dropped us off outside the fog-wrapped cathedral.  I had a small twinge of disappointment that I wouldn’t be able to get clear photos, but the longer I looked at the crumbled facade the more it looked like a beautiful old woman wrapped in a lace shawl.

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This would have been the sanctuary.

My flat mate Ave came on the trip too, and we spent the day walking down the pier (well, old stone walkway into the ocean) watching golfers on the old links, and wandering the city.  The trip included admission to the castle and the abbey tower on the cathedral grounds.  The castle was attacked by French galleys and destroyed, and the cathedral fell into disrepair during the Scottish Reformation and eventually crumbled.  (Click on the picture strip to see bigger versions of the photos)

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It was a fantastic day, and we both really had fun learning about the town’s history.  It’s so crazy to see buildings from 1128 and earlier, and stone walls built during the Plague.  Things that seemed like distant, imaginary entities in history class literally come alive and breath in places like this.  I can’t wait to explore more places 🙂

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Had to finish the day with honeycomb pecan gelato!

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

Less Than a Week to Go!!

It’s almost go time!  I have most of my ducks in a row, appointments made and attended, lists falling out of my ears.  And you know what I’ve discovered in the final days leading up to my departure?

Montage

Packing SUCKS.

I mean seriously, did I really think I was going to fit five skirts, seven camisoles, thirteen dresses, ten t-shirts, nine pairs of pants, ten blouses, and my slouchy mustard suede boots  into two bags?  My reality check- suitcases are not walk in closets on wheels.

Well actually… I got pretty close.  Believe it or not, I got it all to fit right at 50 pounds per bag.  But then you get to thinking “hmm… what if I buy stuff over there?  Will I be able to send it home?  Will I have to bring home THREE bags?”  Yeah, there’s no way I’m hauling three massive suitcases through an airport.  Nope.

So back to square one.  Get everything put in piles, see what goes together, try again.  The battle begins… My attempts at organization and consolidation soon became full on trench warfare.

Trench Warfare

How do you pack a year of your life into two bags?  How do you know what you’ll need, where you’ll go, what will change?  This whole process truly hasn’t been very stressful, but packing is the first time I’ve really thought “I’m moving.  I’m moving to SCOTLAND.  This isn’t a vacation, this is going to be a year of learning a different culture.  This is going to be a year outside of my comfort zone and trying things that I’ve never considered trying before.

Alright, time to turn down the sentimentality and crank up the practicality.  “Taylor, do you HONESTLY think you will wear your mustard boots enough to justify the suitcase space?  That material won’t even hold up in the rain.”  Toss to the discard pile.

Thirteen dresses?  What thirteen formal events will I really be attending, and won’t it be more fun to find something once I’m across the pond?  Discard pile.  A few will do.

I whittled down the stacks to get a much more reasonable amount of luggage, but there were a few non-negotiables I had to include.  This was the only sentimentality I allowed myself.

Must haves

My bogs. They’re warm enough for winter and waterproof!

My grandpa’s bear belt buckle.  This was a gift from my grandma the year after he passed, and it’s my reminder of my family wherever I go.

Thomas Hammer Coffee.  This is completely ridiculous and a waste of space to most people… But I really love coffee.  And in the Land of Earl Grey, it will be a comfort to have some good coffee!

Meet Mig.  Mig’s full name is l’Ours Mignon (The Cute Bear) but that’s a mouthful so he goes by Mig.  I might be too old to have a teddy bear, but I don’t care 🙂

My coffee mug.  This mug combines a lot of my favorite things- well, coffee, the Alaskan birch trees, and the moon.  This is my reminder of home.

 

With the ridiculous out of the way and the essentials determined, I slogged my way out of the trenches and came out with a much more manageable packing list.  My goal is to cut even this smaller set in half, so I know I will have space to bring back my memories of school.

This time next week I will be in Edinburgh to start the next chapter of my life!  Check in to hear how it goes!

 

Much love,

-Taylor