Trip Post #6: Edinburgh and Home!

EdinburghThis is the last trip post- don’t cry!

We reached Edinburgh in the afternoon, and after checking into our hotel, we wandered down the Royal Mile, Edinburgh’s tourist area with shops, restaurants, and tons and tons of outdoor performers. We were there during the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, in which the city hosts hundreds of shows and performers, ranging from free outdoor buskers to plays and concerts in theatrical venues.

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Busker Edinburgh

Buskers EdinburghEdinburgh has a cat cafe (a place where you pay to hang out with cats for a while), and I’d been wanting to try out a cat cafe since they first started popping up a few years ago. So I reserved a slot at Maison de Moggy:
Maison de Moggy Edinburgh

Maison de Moggy Edinburgh 2

Maison de Moggy Edinburgh 3It was a cute place, and the staff were very nice, and I’m really glad I was able to finally see what this thing is all about, but it wasn’t what I’d hoped. :/

There were about 10 cats, and about 15 humans. The cafe schedules customers for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. Have you ever met a cat? I love cats, but they’re not THAT into human interaction. It’s too much. The cats were really nicely socialized (they were all adopted into the cafe as kittens), so they very patiently tolerated the attention and accepted pettings, but they weren’t into it.

In order to interact with the cats, you had to wait until no other humans were pestering them, then stalk them, and trick them into not running away from you. Then when you pet them, they just sit there. It’s no fun petting a cat who doesn’t particularly like it. I did more observation than interaction.

But like I said, I’m definitely glad I got the experience.

After my hour with the cats, I connected with Aunt Lyn for dinner at Mamma’s Pizza. After dinner, we watched some more performers, and headed back to the hotel.

On our last day in Edinburgh, we returned to The Royal Mile to do some shopping and to watch some more performers. We caught a performer named Able Mable, who was really great, and as she pointed out, was one of only 5 or so women (I can’t remember the exact number) out of the 60 or so paid street performers. She described her character as “a hapless showgirl, eager to entertain but manages to mess up everything she does with comic results.” She was fantastic, though I couldn’t get a shot that did her justice.

Mabel EdinburghBecause of the festival, the whole Royal Mile was always packed, and it was a challenge to find good any places for meals. We ended up grabbing a soup and sandwich at the tiniest cafe you can imagine. It felt like a convenience store counter in a place the size of a closet, with a plastic table and chairs in the corner. It was pretty good though. I’m sure they make all their money during the month of the fest.

After lunch, we toured the mighty Edinburgh Castle!

Edinburgh CastleWe took a free tour of the castle with a great tour guide. There was a little spot up there that was the *only* place I remembered having been before. It was like a little jolt: whoa! This looks exactly the same. I visited England, Ireland, and Scotland with my family when I was in middle school, but I didn’t have many specific memories of the trip. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to go again (and make these blog posts), so that I could try to really remember it this time.

After the castle, we went to the one “real” Fringe show that we saw. There are so many shows going on, and we really only had time to see one, and I didn’t want to overwhelm myself by trying to pick the exact perfect show, so I tried to be kind of go-with-the-flow about finding one.

On our first night, as we were waiting at the bus stop to return to the hotel, I looked at the cute building to my left, and saw that it was called The Scottish Storytelling Center. That sounded interesting. Then I saw a description of a fringe show called The Man Who Planted Trees on a board outside of the center. It sounded kind of perfect: family friendly (a lot of fringe shows can be pretty raunchy), sweet and humorous, and had really good reviews.

Edinburgh 3The show was great: very creative and unique (they used marionette-style puppets, wafted essential oil scents and sprayed mists of water into the audience), heart-warming, funny, and was exactly as advertised. It was perfect.

After the show, we grabbed dinner at Rabbie Burns, a pub just down the street from the center, caught some more street performers, and visited some shopping tents where I picked up some sweet-smelling juniper gifts for my mom.

Juniper Tent EdinburghWe were beat!

The next day, we took a train to Glasgow, and headed home (with a chilly stop-over in Iceland)!

Goodbye British Isles!



First Weekend of Summer

I celebrated my first days of summer (last day of school was Friday) with lots of fun stuff. First, breakfast at Al’s. IMG_455297744 (1)Then occasional store shopping in Buffalo. Occasional stores are apparently a mix of thrift, antique, and gift shops. IMG_455305801 IMG_455305971


IMG_455314723IMG_455315159Then I enjoyed the beautiful weather today at Grand Old Day. I didn’t think to get a picture, but I got to pet a rabbit on a leash.IMG_455395828 IMG_455396678 IMG_455398442Now I’m hanging with my gal pal, Lady Jane. My neighborhood is so pretty. I love looking at it through my window just before sunset, when everything is calm and silvery. IMG_455421076

Snow Day

So…it’s winter now.

Photo (29) - CopyLast night, we got a big dump of snow, so my school declared a snow day! This isn’t that much snow for MN, but when it all comes at once, it’s dangerous. And most schools wouldn’t close for this little snow, but my school’s students aren’t bused, they take city buses or walk/bike, so I guess we close more frequently. So today was my first Snow Day as an educator!

It was faaaantastic.

I slept in, shoveled, got some stuff done around the house that I’d been putting off, had a yummy, warm lunch:

Photo (30)Shoveled some more, took a nap, caught up on some Misfits (if you haven’t seen this show-and you are okay with rated R stuff-check it out on Hulu immediately), and had some cocoa.

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Jane got some stuff done too:

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Don’t worry, she didn’t over-exert herself.

Photo (35)Back to real life tomorrow!



One Perk of Working in a School

This past weekend was amazing. Since I work in a school, we had Thursday and Friday off, so it was a nice break. I am a woman of simple pleasures, so the things that made me very happy this weekend seem kind of silly, but just let me have my fun.

Thursday, I slept in, cuddled in bed with Jane forever, which I think she was maybe okay with:

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When you can see the third eyelid, you know they’re happy.

I got lunch, and since it was THE MOST GLORIOUS FALL DAY IMAGINABLE, I did one of my favorite things: walked around a lake listening to podcasts.

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Photo (27)Then, YOU GUYS, I got a facial. Wha..? I’ve never had one before, and I’ve never done a spa thing for no reason (like it wasn’t a gift from someone or whatever). I’ve just never done it before, and I was curious. I’m a planner, so I rarely do things like this on the spur of the moment, so that was kind of fun (I mean, I booked it the night before, so there was SOME planning, but a lot less than I normally do). It was very nice. There were a lot of …feels: creamy, oily, gritty, dry, wet, heavy, light, dark, there was even some pain (she used something that I think had cinnamon in it, so it burned the way that it burns when you chew cinnamon gum).

Then I went home and had some chai tea and started a new book.

Photo (28)Super exciting story: I picked up one of my ginger cookies and thought, “Hey, what if I dunked this cookie into the tea? What would that taste like?” So I did, and it was like heaven.

Then I opened my window, and it was amazing. (This is Minnesota, so it’s usually too cold for that in October, so this is a bigger deal than it seems.)

Photo (29)I had dinner with the folks, and finished the book. Starting a new book is exciting, and finishing a book is satisfying. Both feels in one day!

The next couple of days involved some brunches with friends, running errands, getting stuff done around the house, reading two more books, and attending a RollerGirls bout (so much fun!!):

Photo (28) - CopyI also baked an apple pie…

Photo (29) - CopyAnd got some library books…

Photo (30)…for babysitting the nephews!

Photo (31)Whew!


Chocolate Strawberry Trifle

It was my mom’s birthday this week, so I made her a cake..type..thing. I didn’t want to make a plain cake (not special enough for my special mama), and I was kind of in the mood to try out a trifle. Trifles are AMAZING. I think I’ve really only had one, and it was made by my friend, Cherish, who went to baking school. So that’s probably why I think they’re so great. But I’ve only seen white cake versions of trifle, and my mom needs chocolate, so here’s what I did!

One could easily make this dessert from scratch, because it’s not a “difficult” thing to make, but it does have a lot of components, so I decided to take a couple of shortcuts.

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I used boxed cake mix and jello pudding (instead of custard/mousse). I didn’t actually end up using the Cool Whip, because I found that I had time to make my own whipped cream.

So first things first, you make your cake (in 2 round pans):

Taking a picture with one hand while pouring cake mix with another: NOT EASY.
Taking a picture with one hand while pouring cake mix with another: NOT EASY.

While you wait for that to bake, you make your pudding. Like I said, trifles aren’t difficult to make, but they involve a lot of steps, and it seems that breaking those steps up is the best way to do it. I made the cake and pudding in the morning, then ran some errands while they cooled/chilled in the fridge, and did the rest in the afternoon.

Slice up some strawberries (or whatever fruit you’d like, but come on, with chocolate cake? It’s gonna be strawberries).

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I actually sliced these the night before (and put them in the fridge), so they could stew in their yummy juices for a while. I lie to you in my posts, but I tell the truth in the captions. 🙂

Then you make yo’self some delicious whipped cream. My heart broke a little when I bought that Cool Whip because I’ve NEVER used Cool Whip before, and I hope I never have to. I just didn’t think I’d have time to make my own, but I did! Yay!

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Now you get to assemble! The best part! So thunk your cake pans upside down on the counter until the cake plops out, and shove one round to the bottom of the trifle dish. Then spread a layer of fruit, a layer of pudding, and a layer of whipped cream. Repeat once, and keep a couple of strawberries to garnish the top.

Refrigerate until serving.

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By the way, as I wrapped my mom’s birthday gift, Jane hopped into the wrapping paper bin.


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I’m Not a Crazy Cat Lady, You Gotta Believe Me

I only have 1 cat, I do not dress her up in human clothes, and I only anthropomorphize her sometimes. Only sometimes.

But I did go to the Walker’s Catvid Festival.

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This event is not really for people to watch Cat Videos (because do you see that tiny screen up there? yeah…it would be a much better idea to youtube these things in the comfort of your own home). This event is for nutty cat lovers to gather together with all of the other nutty cat lovers (and…just like our feline friends…demonstrate an appropriate level of respect for one another’s personal space by making as little actual contact with each other as possible).

On my walk back to my car, I noticed this little sweetie pie hopping down from his front porch, so I greeted him, and we cuddled for a while:

Photo (27) - CopyThen as I continued down the sidewalk, he followed me down the block until I crossed an intersection.

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What a little sweetie.

Also! I encountered this little dude as I headed into work this morning.

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Ugh Winter

If you’re a Minnesotan, or know any, you’re probably sick of hearing about a) this stupid winter or b) this particular blizzard. But this is my blog, so you’re gonna hear it again!

Photo (24)I knew there was going to be a lot of snow (above is from yesterday, when it had just begun), so I got up this morning, took a shower, ate breakfast, and prepared to shovel forever.

After two hours of shoveling and helping my roommates move their cars (lots of pushing, rocking, sand, kitty litter, and more shoveling), I came back in and dove into my bed, but I couldn’t get warm. So I took another shower and put on as much fluffy, warm clothing as possible, and I’m back to a normal temperature now.

Despite the cold, it’s a lovely day, really. But man, ugh, winter.

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This poor bush. “Help meee…I’m being buried aliiive!”
And my poor baby trees! Stay strong little guys!
And my poor baby trees! Stay strong little guys!

And then there’s my cat’s life. I came in wheezing and freezing from shoveling, and Jane was just cuddled on the couch like any other day,and she sleepily glanced up at me as if to say, “Oh hi, just another cozy, warm, lazy morning, eh?”

Here she is, being entertained by the bubbles in my cream soda:

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And here she is ten minutes later:

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