31 December 2013

2013 Favorite Blog Moments

My cat helped me pack for my forthcoming trip to Edinburgh. 

Beautiful spring days spent with feline friends.

A springtime trip to Door County, Wisconsin.

I was involved when The Trout Museum of Art hosted artist Tobias Keene.

I found out that I was going to be an aunt!

I visited Milwaukee with mom and tried a new lunch spot.

Took a sister road trip to Glacier National Park!

Made a hyperspeed run to Chicago (and The Purple Pig!).

Enjoyed the weekly local farmers market.

I worked the 53rd Annual Art at the Park in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Took a summertime day trip to Door County.

I moved to Edinburgh to start a Masters of Art History program!

Discovered some exciting arty parts of the city. And again!

Took a day trip to the edge of the Highlands

Went on a mini-vacay and research trip to Oban, Argyll, Scotland.

Discovered a number of awesome coffee shops in town.

Climbed St. Rule's Tower in St. Andrews, Fife.

A Thanksgiving away from home with new friends.

Took a solo vacay to London for four days.

Rode the Star Flyer at Edinburgh's Christmas for free: It was Ginger Hair Day!

I've only been blogging since May, but hey, at least that's over half of 2013, right!? A lot has changed, not only in my life, but in the way I blog. I just wanted to share a few of my favorite moments from the last seven months. ;) Thank you for following along!

Hogmanay Torchlight Procession

image image image Torchlight procession, Edinburgh Torchlight procession, Edinburgh Torchlight procession, Edinburgh Fireworks at Calton Hill Fireworks at Calton Hill

Last night I partook in Edinburgh's Hogmanay Torchlight Procession, for which upwards of 35,000 people joined in, buying torches to benefit charity. Headed up by a number of pipe bands from around Scotland (bagpipes and drums) and a Jarl Squad (Vikings!) who traveled down from Shetland, the procession wound from George IV Bridge and down Princes Street. The ultimate goal was Calton Hill, where the Acropolis was lit in bright blue and two spotlights crossed in the air to form a Saltire. For some pretty amazing professional photos of the event last night, check this out!

The procession lasted a little over an hour, and once we reached the foot of Calton Hill, there was some entertainment from PyroCeltica who performed routines with fire. There was also a food truck serving burgers, so I grabbed a venison burger for dinner and awaited the Son et Lumiere, or light show finale. The fireworks were timed to Adele's 'Set Fire to the Rain.' I decided to stay down just off of Calton Hill in order to avoid the massive crowds (and get out of there more quickly), but it was a really lovely little display. A preview of the fireworks yet to come tonight!

Happy Hogmanay, everybody! HAPPY NEW YEARS EVE! Any big New Years Eve plans for you?

Kate xx

30 December 2013

LIMBO under the big top

(photo via Southbank Centre)

And I thought Edinburgh's Christmas was just a Ferris wheel and stands selling tree ornaments and mulled wine... Not the case! The other day, a friend asked if I wanted to check out one of the Saturday night showings of LIMBO, which I can best describe as a cabaret-circus-magic show, the 'greatest party ever between heaven and hell.' It defied categorization, and I think that's what makes it so compelling.

Our last-minute tickets gave us seats in a booth with some other folks, along the perimeter of the tent. Yes, a proper big top! We indulged in Prosecco (in plastic cups, it was that sort of thing) and feasted our eyes for the next 75 minutes on feats of acrobatics, dance, and illusion. Not to mention fire-breathing. And if anything, watching a performer's throat glow orange as she swallows an illuminated sword is nothing if not impressive.

The music, provided by a live horn band and a ton of a amplified, distorted beat-boxing was wonderful. The fact that these performers were so versatile (the cast is only 9 people strong) was what really made the show shine. I love the old-timey wild west meets burlesque meets prohibition costume and set design, and the pace of the show was perfect.

LIMBO had a great run in London prior to coming to Edinburgh, and they're off to Australia next, with shows in Sydney and Adelaide through the end of winter.

Would you go see this show? Do you have a favorite magic show, circus, or alternative stage performance that you've seen? Or want to see? Share below!

Kate x

29 December 2013

The kirkyards of Old Town

For some reason in the past couple of days, I decided to check out the two major cemeteries, or if we want to be all Scottish about it, kirkyards of Edinburgh's Old Town. 'Kirk' is an old word for church, used pretty regularly in Scotland. Since I haven't had classes to attend or anywhere in particular to be, I've been trying to make time for strolls outside when the weather is fair. I breezed through (quite literally) the churchyard at Canongate (the first set of photos below) on one of the windiest days I've yet been outside for. The sun was out for the first time in a couple of days, and I was bound and determined to make the most of it. Even if my fingers were frozen by the time I was finished taking photos! Probably the most famous person interred here is economist Adam Smith, author of Wealth of Nations.

Canongate Kirkyard Canongate Kirkyard Canongate Kirk Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh Canongate Kirk Canongate Kirkyard

And the rest are from Greyfriars. There is something so peaceful about cemeteries, and in these very historic ones, a heightened air of mystery as well. Some of the grave stones are marvelous, but pretty major deterioration over the years is also evident. And in some cases kind of surprising; there are a lot of toppled, broken, or totally missing gravestones and sculptures. On some of the larger tombs, statues' heads are missing or decorative elements are broken off. But I guess... what does one expect in a cemetery founded in the 16th century? Greyfriars has been somewhat revitalized by a community gardening project, with various kinds of plant beds spread throughout the churchyard. In the springtime I imagine it will be beautiful. It's useful, educational and... well, interesting! I mean, why not?

Greyfriars is famous for, as you may have heard, Greyfriars Bobby. There's a statue outside on the street of a little dog who, legend has it, stood guard over his owner's grave for fourteen years. His story was even made into a Disney movie back in 1961.

Medicinal garden
Greyfriars Kirkyard Greyfriars Kirkyard
Greyfriars KirkyardGreyfriars, Edinburgh Greyfriars, Edinburgh Greyfriars, Edinburgh

I, for one, can't wait until the sun is higher in the sky than that at noon ;)

Kate x

27 December 2013

Find me: VSCOGrid

Edinburgh, Scotland

In early summer I put myself on the waiting list for Visual Supply Co.'s VSCOGrid, their classy answer to Instagram. It's highly curated and the interface is gorgeous. There's no way to 'like' or comment on anyone's photos, but everything is searchable by keyword. Not to mention that the vast number of photographers that use it have amazing talent.

I've used VSCO's presets on my iPhone via their fantastic VSCOCam (link to iTunes). I post a little obsessively/compulsively on Instagram, but all my photography is done via VSCOCam. Only a few weeks ago I finally received a notification that my Grid was ready, so after uploading a few of my absolute favorites, I wanted to share it with you!

You can find me here:

VSCOGrid: katemo.vsco.co

Don't forget you can follow my photo and idea posts all of the time on my Pinterest boards and Instagram. And of course, you can follow this blog on Facebook and Bloglovin!

I also want to thank you all for checking out this blog and keeping up with it over the last few months. I'm still very much a novice in the blogging world, but I really enjoy sharing my adventures with you all, and checking out the blogs I come across as well. It's such a pleasure, and I'm happy to continue on with Artsy Abroad in future months! Thanks again!

Kate x

9 Reasons I Resolve to Do Nothing Different in 2014


I'm sitting here, at my desk, sipping (carefully, it's hot) a grande Americano, surrounded by artifacts of my life here in Edinburgh. To my right: a few pens and a tape dispenser, a couple of books on Celtic Art, a notebook, and half-full mug of tea from last night. To my left: my mobile phone, a pair of keys, a heavily edited first draft of an essay, another book about Scottish art, another notebook, and a couple of letters from people back at home awaiting replies. A lot of these things have been on my desk for weeks, if not months now. If it's not this book, it'll be that book. If it's not this essay, it will be a presentation outline or another essay. Things just keep on keeping on.

And that brings me to the New Year. 2014 is so close I can practically taste it! Or I could, if this coffee wasn't so yummy. I've started to notice a number of annual resolution lists going up and I thought I would contribute one of my own. Now, I'm a big fan of always working to improve myself, and trying to be the 'best me I can be.' I know, I know. But the thing is, I feel like I try to make these improvements or changes in a small way, very gradually, every day. It has never been helpful to lay out one or two, let alone an entire list of things that I resolve to do in the New Year. I've done the cliche gym membership fail, and the diet fail, and the shop-less-save-money fail, and the eat-less-chocolate fail, and the...  You get the idea.

The thing is, I'm pretty happy right now. 2013 was a rockin' year! I spent a ton of time with my family and friends at home. My sisters and I totally road-tripped to Glacier National Park. I had a sweet apartment and have an awesome cat. And then I moved to Scotland (hellooo). Life ain't too shabs. There are things I would like to change, or to see happen in 2014, but jotting them down on a list and putting on the pressure isn't going to help me... So instead, I'm rolling out the 5 Things to Do Exactly the Same as Last Year for 2014.

Of course, you could say that by making a list of anything, even non-resolutions, I'm still resolving. Well, that answer is yes, yes I am.

9 Things to Do Exactly the Same as Last Year
(or: 9 Reasons I Resolve to Do Nothing Different) in 2014

(How's that for a title?)

1. Make challenging decisions.

The move to Scotland was one of the biggest changes I've ever made. Obviously the opportunity for this sort of thing doesn't necessarily come along every year, but 2014 will see a lot of decision-making going down, and I want to see it through to the best possible outcome for me.

2. Drink gallons of coffee.

I love coffee. If anything, I'll drink more of it. Coffee coffee coffee.

3. Blog!

I started this bloggy blog back in May and have been enjoying it thoroughly. I look forward to figuring out where I want to go with it.

4. Do what I want (no matter what).

I feel like this should go without saying, but sometimes I have to remember to do what I want. Whether it's something temporal like a school project or long-term like, well, my entire future, it's important to remember that it comes down to what I enjoy and how I think I can succeed on my own terms. It's good to bounce ideas off people, but it's not so good to allow other people to steer you in a direction you don't really want to go, just because they think it's the best. That's them. You're you. Or me. Yeah.

5. Surround myself with awesome people.

I have been so fortunate to have made some amazing friends and met some of the coolest people over the years, and 2013 was no exception. I see this as a benefit of figuring out who I am as a person and the type of people who are good to be around, so I'd like to continue down that road.

6. Explore new places.

Travel. Oooobviously. I heart it, so it will happen.

7. Write a lot, be creative.

I've been doing a lot of writing the last few months, much of it for academic purposes. But I have also kept fiction always on the back-burner, and it occasionally comes back up. I love to write, and I think that's why I enjoy blogging so much as well. I don't necessarily need to write more in 2014, but I want to always be writing.

8. Be cheerful.

Being cheerful is actually a skill I've learned. Cheer? A skill? Why, yes. And it took (takes!) practice. It takes more muscles to frown than to smile (so they say), so why does it seem so hard to smile sometimes? Surrounding myself with amazing people is important, but also acting happy. Fake it 'til you make (or become) it! It makes a world of difference to sound happy when you're checking out at the grocery store, even if the cashier is unfazed. It's wonderful to receive a smile in return from a stranger you pass on the sidewalk. If they don't smile back, it's their loss. Because in the moments when your good mood bounces off another person who is a) in a good mood already or b) in need of some cheer, it's the best feeling in the world.

9. Be inspired.

This goes along with travel, with school, with meeting new people, trying new things. It's about art, and food, and stories, and technology, and nature... it's everything. I never want to lose my curiosity, or my imagination. (Life would be so dull!) Whether in the big things or the little things, I want to continue to find what amazes me.

See? I'm not anti-resolution! Do you have any big resolutions for 2014? Or maybe a teensy tiny one? Or none at all? Share below! I'd love to hear 'em.

Kate xx