DIY: Mother’s Day is around the corner

I think this idea from Spoonflower/Hello Beautiful for making tea towels out of handwritten recipes is brilliant. I’m hoping to snag a few of my grandmother’s recipe cards when I’m home in May so that I can try it myself.


Song for the Weekend: More homesickness

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post that described a bit of my current homesickness. Well, time has not helped. Nor have the many photos of baseball games that friends have been posting on facebook. The good news is that I’ll be in Chicago two weeks from today! In the meantime, I’m listing to stuff like this:

Expat Living: Long-Distance Friends

Recently, I read this and this, both discussing the trials and tribulations of making new friends as an adult.  Two years ago, I moved from New York (lots of friends!) to London (only a few!) and then last year, I moved again, to Edinburgh (again, a few established friendships at the start).  And I’ve gotta agree, making new friends is hard.  That said, I don’t regret the moves and I think the challenges that went with them were all good for me.  In the process of acclimating to life in Britain, I’ve learned some things about friendship but the most critical, by far, is the importance of staying in as close touch as possible with my family and friends in the U.S.

AnnaMaria is absolutely right, there’s nothing better to fight loneliness than hearing from an old friend.  With that in mind, I thought I’d lay out some of the things I do to make sure I don’t lose touch with my friends and family.  Honestly, it’s not easy.  I’m busy and they’re busy, but technology helps a lot.

  • Skype: Seriously, Skype (or whatever free video chat service you prefer) is amazing.  My parents, both of whom are of the age where they approach all new Internet things with fear and disdain, are now its biggest fans. Skype is so easy.  And, with a little bit of creativity, it can be used to create the next best thing to being home.  This past Christmas, my mom and I continued or longstanding tradition of decorating sugar cookies together by setting up decorating stations next to each of our iMacs.  We decorated and chatted for hours.  And no, it wasn’t the same as being home but it was a lot better than abandoning the tradition.  Similarly, on Christmas Eve, I called my parents and brother on Skype just as they were arriving home from midnight mass and we opened presents together.  Again, not the same, but better than any other available option this year.
  • Gchat: Even with the time difference, my friends on the East Coat and I are generally online for at least a few of the same hours each day.  Chatting gives us the chance to do the little catch-ups (Look at this new dress I bought!  My boss is driving me crazy!  I’m going on a blind date tomorrow!).  And those little things are key to never feeling super far away.
  • Budget for travel in advance:  I’m currently back in grad school and when I was calculating a budget for the year I made sure to include multiple flights back to the States.  I knew that at least a few close friends would be getting married this year and I decided before I committed to living in Scotland that missing those kinds of events just wasn’t an option.  I used to work in a job that made it difficult to guarantee showing up somewhere at a definite time and place, so I’m now especially persnickety about not missing out on the big events.  And, even if there weren’t weddings, my U.S. travel budget would’ve probably been about the same.  My general rule is if you want to visit your family or friends and you can afford the cost (both in terms of money and time), you should GO.
  • Make it fun:  I have a couple of good friends in New York who know that when we schedule a Skype date, they should show up with a bottle of wine.  We treat it like happy hour and I always look forward to those nights.
  • Make the effort: If a friend or family member pops up online and asks for a few minutes of Skype time, take their call.  If you have a call scheduled and are feeling tired or lazy, fight it.  In my experience, not seeing people day-to-day and face-to-face makes it easier to be selfish.  However, making the effort when people reach out to you not only makes you a good friend (or daughter or son or sister or brother), it makes it much more likely that whoever is calling will make themselves available the next time you’re feeling lonely.

Travel Finds: The Lake District

Over the long Easter weekend, the boyfriend and I packed up a rental car and drove to the Lake District in northern England. We met up with friends who live in London and rented a cute Airbnb flat near Keswick.

The weekend was great. The lakes and mountains of the region are stunning and we spent two great afternoons hiking and enjoying views like this one.

Crummock Water near Buttermere

Our group only had one real complaint: the food. Like many heavily touristed areas, we ended up wandering into a number of not-cheap places offering not-great food. Luckily, we also found a couple of really great spots and, in the interest of helping future hikers, these were the best.

Grange Cafe — Grange Cafe is located just down the road from Keswick on the River Derwent. We stopped in after a hike with great views of Derwent Water. Sadly, we found a parking spot around the corner from the cafe and had lunch at its main competition, a truly lackluster cafe called Grange Brigde Cottage Tea Shop. We then walked over to Grange Cafe and found a cozy cafe featuring the best gingerbread cake I’ve ever had (Grandma’s recipe, according to the owner). The homemade soups and other cafe fare being served around us also looked delightful.

Bridge Hotel – Midway through a hike around Crummock Water, we stopped for lunch at the Bridge Hotel in the village of Buttermere. The hotel’s pub served the best food we found all weekend. Highlights included a savory steak and ale pie, handcut and expertly fried chips, and a delicious sticky toffee pudding.


Sunday Morning Reads

Our favorite links from around the web this week:

There are no words.

Great tumblr of beautiful and seldom used words.

More like 33 pictures that me feel old.

I love this interview with Sharon Montrose almost as much as I love her pictures of tiny adorable animals.

A for Effort? Epic Pinterest Fails!

On a serious note, another interesting entry in the Mommy Wars Diaries.  Is the number of hours many Americans work really the problem?

Sheer Genius:  LuLu Puns Roundup

Song for the Weekend: Scottish Winds

Scottish Winds is my favorite song about Scotland.  I started listening to Frightened Rabbit a few years ago in New York, but they’ve become a much bigger part of my soundtrack now that I’m on their home turf.  Not surprisingly, there’s just something about their music that fits this place.