Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Confident Twosday

Today I'm super excited to be teaming up with Laura over at I do deClaire for Confident Tuesday! She was super nice an let me push back my co-hosting day when things got crazy and I headed over seas. 

She also doesn't seem to mind my awkward bathroom selfies. One day I'll buy a better mirror. One day...

Today I wanted to feature my newest favorite thing, the leather jacket. I looked a lot, and I do mean a lot of places and tried on a TON of jackets before I found this one. 

I think leather and leather-like jackets are always timeless pieces. They get more popular, then less, but I don't remember a time when they haven't been around. I actually have a jacket that I think an ex got me when I was in grad school. Considering Kev and I have been together for 11ish years, and I've been out of grad school even longer, yea, I've had it for a while. I think everyone has one in their closet.

This season I was looking for a leather jacket that was light enough to wear in the office and still be warm enough to wear outside. It also had to be flattering, not too restrictive in the arms and have a drapey front. Seemingly impossible, yes, but my quest paid off!

Behold! The BNCI jacket from Nordstrom Rack! You can check it out here. It's not too short, just drapey enough and I love it. 

Wear it with a professional dress...

Or something more sassy.

I wore it all over Pittsburgh and Scotland. It was stylish and functional. Win win win.

I don't get affiliate dollars or anything like that, I just really, really like this jacket and I think you will too.

Be sure you head over to the Link Up and visit the other hoppers!

Happy Tuesday!!

I do deClaire (Bloglovin) | Cookies Cardio and Clothes (Bloglovin)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Scotland pt. 2

This recap is gonna be a long one with lots of pictures. Just a warning. 

There are pictures of food but I have to be honest, the food in Scotland wasn't the best. In fact, it wasn't very good at all. That's Kev's job when we travel, he finds the good food and tells me where to eat.  I make sure he doesn't leave anything behind. When left to my own devices I wander into places and end up with a steak and ale pie. 

Prior to this I was waiting 20 minutes at a pub and no one ever came over to take my order. It wasn't awful, but it was half burnt. That side with the gravy, under the gravy is the burn. More peas and some potatoes. Meh. The un-burnt part was OK.

I think it was Thursday after work I went over to Princes St and hit up some shopping. The night before I met some airline attendants who told me I had to go to Primark, and I did. I also was on the lookout for some better shoes. I planned my shoes for training, not for traipsing miles and miles over a city of hills and cobblestones. I had my running shoes, tall brown boots, short black boots with heels and and gold flats. In theory, I should have been fine., My feet were not.

My shoe choices for Germany will be much different. BTW, I'm taking shoe recommendations. I did find some cute black boots. I thought they were all trendy and European, then I found similar ones at DSW. Crap.

I don't remember what that building was but the view was pretty impressive when I turned the corner and saw it.

One thing you can't miss is the monument to Sir Walter Scott. Lemme tell you, prior to going to Scotland, I wish I'd read up some on Scottish history. They're all about the history there and a documentary or something would have been helpful.

I learned about Sir Walter Scott on the castle tour I took on Saturday. Here's what I know. Sir Walter Scott was a writer and wrote lots of poems and shit that everyone loved. In 1818-ish he "found" the Scottish "Honours" aka the Crown Jewels. From what I understood they were in the castle in room and he took a team of people downstairs, opened a box and there they were.

It'd be like if I took some people on a quest for my high school yearbooks and we went to the attic and opened a box. I don't think I'd get a statue though.

So cool, and huge

That night I had dinner at a tapas place. It was OK, nothing awesome. 


Friday night I had planned to be super touristy and went on a ghost tour. Before that I stopped into Angels with Bagpipes for a little dinner. Sadly one of my best meals was French. I obviously had the tartatre, it was delish.

Then it was off to the super ghost tour. We went down into the "Underground City" and back to Greyfriars Kirkyard. I don't have any pictures, it was dark... But definitely spooky. No ghostly activity but I could totally see that people had spooky encounters there.

Just some dark spooky streets in Edinburgh. Old streets are scary.

When we were in Grefriars Kirkyard the guide told us that this was the cemetery that overlooked the restaurant where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter. There are graves for McGonagall, Lupin and Tom Riddle (!!!) in there. Then she said "If you don't like Harry Potter, then YOU'RE WRONG". Preach it sister. 

Also in the cemetery is the Mackenzie Poltergeist. You can read all about it here. It's a pretty creepy story. Basically Mackenzie was a real asshat when he was alive and in 1998 someone came in, defiled his tomb and ever since then the poltergiest has been active in the cemetery. We didn't see anything but it was still pretty creepy.

After traipsing all over Edinburgh in the dark, I stopped for a kebab on the way back to the hotel. 

It was so good. Really one of the best things I ate there.

Saturday came bright and early and I was off to the Castle! I bought my tickets in advance and off I went!

View of the city from the castle. Look at the coast!

Holy Crap! A real live castle!

I didn't wear sunglasses for 10 days straight. That might be a record in my adult life. Light colored eyes + LASIK = super light sensitivity and sunglasses pretty much every time I step outside. 

The entrance to the castle.

There are 2 knights on either side of the gate to the castle

Walking on up.

You can still close the gate and keep the raiding hoards out. 

View of the city from the castle

More views

Walking through the different parts of the castle

Another view because I loved the contrast of the old spires and the newer architecture.

Edinburgh Castle is a historic site and has a crap ton of history and museums to wander through. A lot of the museums were focused on Scottish military history. It was definitely cool to look at, but I think someone who knew more about that topic would have really, really liked it.

I just like taking pictures with statures.

Here too. The sign said to take a selfie with the soldiers, so I did. 

The center square was where the majority of the cool (in my opinion) things were. 

I went to the Great Hall

Where something was happening. I didn't wait to see what it was. 

This was cool. Apparently the room where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth was in the castle.

Then I went through the line to see the Scottish Crown Jewels. That's how I learned about Sir Walter Scott. When you go through that exhibit, you see the history of the crown jewels.

Including when Robert the Bruce was crowned. It wound all the way around until you got to the jewels. Sadly, no pictures allowed. I'm assuming they want to avoid a jewel heist.

More parts of the castle. I think this was the war memorial.

This was a little cemetery for animals.

A wider picture of the war memorial.

Finally it was time to leave. I had a reservation at 230pm to do the Real Mary King's Close tour and I needed to get some lunch before I went.

But first, a view as I'm leaving.

Bye castle!

On the streets of Edinburgh you get a lot of random people trying to make a pound. All the signs say "worth a picture worth a pound"!

Remember the last post when I took a picture in the dark of St. Giles Cathedral? Well on Saturday I went inside.

Agh! So amazing!

And the stained glass was to die for.

After wandering around and lighting a candle, I needed some lunch.

Fun fact, you can't get a brewed coffee in Edinburgh, you have to get a Cafe Americano. Nothing but Americanos. I expect Germany and France to be the same.

For lunch I got a proper fish and chips, complete with the tiny fork. 

Then it was time for my tour, You couldn't take any pictures in the close but it was super informative and really interesting, I highly recommend it. I learned about the Black Plague and I'm pretty sure I felt a ghost down there. There was a room dedicated to a little girl where people left dolls. I felt a definite cold spot swirling around me and then it left and was warm. Yea, I got my ghostly encounter. 

I did the underground tour then the above ground and there was about a 45 minute wait between the 2. I walked up and down the street and did a little shopping, 

The owl wasn't amused. 

The above ground tour was pretty interesting as well but I'm pretty sure the guide was hungover. Like on the struggle bus hungover. He was good but mumbled a lot and his eyes were super bloodshot.

A view from the tour. 

Before I knew it, it was time to head back to the hotel and drop off my shopping. Bye castle!

In my last night in Scotland, I had to have the haggis. I apparently went for the fancy version which was a haggis appetizer wrapped in filo dough.

Honestly, it wasn't bad. It was a rich, spiced ground meat. I'd eat it again and probably even try a less fancy version.

For dessert I had to have the sticky toffee pudding. 

I expected it to be less gingerbread-y. It was still really good, just too much sauce for me.

Then it was off to bed and to catch my 8am flight! Even though I was working, I still had a great time in Scotland. I can't wait to go back and maybe next time, Kev can come with me.

Linking up with BLoved Boston! AND

Friday, October 23, 2015

Scotland! Pt 1

Sunday morning Kev drove me to Washington DC where my flight left out of Regan. I've flown out of Dullas before, but never Regan. I was in and at the gate in something like 20 minutes, and that was even with an international flight. I flew from there to Newark where my plane left at 8:10pm.

I flew United and I have to say, not really a fan. The gate people aren't the nicest. We're actually flying them again next month to Germany. Please don't suck.... 

The flight from DC to Newark was delayed leaving and again on the runway waiting to leave. When we arrived in Newark I had to actually run to get to the shuttle and again to the gate. My flight was almost finished boarding when I got there. Not cool. 

The flight was overnight and we were set to arrive in Edinburgh at 8am. There's a 5 hour time difference so yeah, 3am our time. The one thing that seemed odd to me on the flight was the sheer amount of food and beverage they gave us. I swear, they were always coming around with something. We took off, then it was time for dinner, a choice of ravioli or turkey meatloaf (really). Then beverages, then ice cream dessert, then clean up. Finally we go a few hours break, but 1.5 hours before we arrived, it was breakfast time. A croissant and coffee, or a 2am snack.I think I got about an hour and a half of sleep on the plane. 

Really though, the flight was uneventful and we landed safely in Edinburgh at 815am. I made it through customs and took a cab to my hotel which was about 25 minutes from the airport. I was really, really thankful that when I got to the hotel at 930am my room was ready because I totally took a 3 hour nap. 

After I was showered and relatively coherent, I wandered over to the office which was a short walk away. When I stepped out of the hotel, this is what I saw.

Yes, the Edinburgh Castle right up the hill from my hotel. How flipping awesome is that??

I went into the office for a few hours to make sure everything was set up and ready for my training the next three days. When  I got in, the CEO was there too. Awesome. Hey Walt. 

Even the strip clubs are classy AF in Scotland, 

After a few hours of work, I needed to find some dinner. I was on a mission to find decent fish and chips on my trip. I'd been really, really wanting some and this was my first. Note the tiny pot of peas. Gross.

After my dinner, I stumbled back to my hotel and went to sleep.

The next morning it was time for some training, I wasn't up early enough for the hotel breakfast so I stopped and grabbed something on the way. I went with the bacon roll which was literally, a piece of bacon on a bun. Scottish people love their sandwiches, let me tell you. Can't find a salad anywhere.

Off for a full day of training, before I move on, I'd like to briefly chat about the sheer quantity of gummy candy they ate during class. Bags and bags and bags of Haribo. In their defense, the Haribo of the UK is FAR superior to US gummy candy. It just is.

Soon enough, it was time to do some exploring! Fun Lara fact, my undergrad degree is in the History of Art and Architecture (then I got my MBA because I wanted to be able to eat). What that means is my heart skips a beat when I see amazing architecture.

It was SOOOOO QUAINT! It's really the best word I could use. Everything was all old and quaint and historical. I loved it. 

That particular day I wandered around and found myself at the Greyfriars Kirkyard. It's the cemetery that overlooks the restaurant where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter. I'll chat more about the cemetery later because I went on a haunted tour that included it on Friday night.

But here are some daytime pics of the place because when I went later, it was definitely darker. 

(Not as impressive on the inside)

There were some spooky stories about this place

And even more spooky behind the locked gate. The tour I went on actually got you behind the gate into a place that's regularly has a lot of haunted activity. 

More wandering, LOOK AT THAT VIEW!

And this one which is crooked for some reason. But that sky, and those buildings!

I saw this sign and didn't ask what Haggis Poo was. I figured it was for the best. 

Then I saw this!! A cat cafe!

It was 7 pounds for an hour with the cats. This trip was my break from having cats crawling all over me and having to pet them. I passed but I LOVE that it exists!

Pretty much everywhere you go, there's the castle. So pretty.

By that point I was pretty hungry and I found a pub.

He he he..

I got a giant cider and it was good. I also made friends with 2 airline attendants who were there on a layover. We drank cider and chatted about how fricking quaint everything was.

Apparently there are ghosts at the pub, but there are ghosts everywhere in Edinburgh and it's not that big of a deal.

More pretty streets.

and amazing views

And the church! Ahhh look at it!!! I'll chat more about it later, I ended up over there on Saturday and was inside where it's even better than on the outside.

That was part one and my first 2 days in Scotland! Part 2 and maybe 3 coming soon! 

Linking up with Meet at the Barre!