Thursday, January 31, 2008

Someone Loves Me: ETSY

Someone loves me on ETSY. An enthusiast gathered her Namaste favorites and included Downward Dog in her treasury.

Thank you!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Studio News: WinterIce OLE Watercolor Sterling Pendants

Introducing WinterIce
Water is like the stream of creativeness, refreshing the spirit and awakening up new forces. -A. Rakauskas

Awaken and refresh your spirit with an ECStewart original one-of-a-kind watercolor! These fabulous pendants are inspired by the beauty of nature and the stream that flows within.

Inspired by my travels to a much colder climate and my love for water and crystals, I've had a little fun with watercolors recently. While it seems like a departure from my usual tight calligraphic renderings, this allows me to enrich my work by applying a little freedom in the studio and bringing it to you.

These little beauties are original, one-of-a-kind limited edition original watercolor set in sterling silver bezel (30mm), sealed with resin that magnifies the flowing spirit and harmonized with a Swarovski crystal that represents the solid form of water. This small masterpiece hangs on a 18" sterling silver chain.

Right now, you can find them on ETSY because the limited edition is easier to keep track -I wouldn't want folks to double purchase my pieces when I'm not looking!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Handpainted Owl on Luxe Suede

Luxe Suede Handcrafted Painted Journal with Storybook Owl

I'm having a good time with owls. A pretty and wise owl looks great with a few understated Swarovski Crystals.

An original painting with metallic pewters and golds on luxurious rust colored suede that includes my small kanji stamp in the corner; it also comes with a small certificate of authenticity.

The owl is a sweet bird waiting for someone like you. It's one of a kind and for now, you can find it on ETSY.

Handpainted Luckenbooth Heart on Luxe Suede

Luxe Suede Handcrafted Painted Journal with Luckenbooth Heart

I couldn't help myself, I had to find a way to put brush to suede. I love how the Luckenbooth Heart turned out, so I added a few Swarovski Crystals to make the crown pop.

An original painting with metallic golds on luxurious red suede that includes my small kanji stamp in the corner; it also comes with a small certificate of authenticity.

I'm rather in love with this piece but thought you might like it, too. It's one of a kind and for now, you can find it on ETSY.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Owls & Designaholics

I'm a designaholic.

I'm a designaholic who has just finished posting this adorable owl and her baby as a teaser on ETSY.

Is this the first step to curing my own insatiable desire to beautify the world? Nop. It's my own small way of letting you know that I can't stop breathing design. I live design. I dance and sing design but only hit vibrato when my car strikes a chuckhole. I eat design -actually, Andrew serves design and then I eat it. Hell, I even blog design.

Some of you have been following my recent adventures abroad with Andrew. Some of you are completely bewildered as to why I would take the time out to blog or even stay up beyond the midnight hours to optimize images so that you, too, could enjoy what I've been experiencing.

I confess, it's the rush.

If I weren't a fine artist in the midst of building my little empire, then I'd probably be writing furiously on the inequities of human rights, or animal rights for that matter.

Up until the 11th hour before we were to set off on our honeymoon, December 19th, I was still designing. Actually working on prototypes in our workshop because I wanted to finalize as much detail in the process before returning home and launching the new line.

This morning, Andrew sent me a link to Seth Godin's recent post about Workaholics; it's not what you think. You should read it as he has unmasked the true spirit of my unwavering commitment to my enterprising endeavors.

Now I should go help Andrew finish making his savory chicken pot pies, but first, I'm sure I'll want to tweak this entry.

Studio News: Pink Journals!

Look what we've got! We've got a few pink leather journals with Bacchus in ivory!

Here's what one customer said about her journal:

"Outstanding Journal! Even nicer in person! Excellent Packaging!"
We've only got a few, so you might want to snag yours now before we run out!

CalligraphyPets Journals

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snowy South vs Frozen Tundra

I had to write this for you sports nuts out there. I'm not a real sports nut, actually, not at all, although I do like to watch figure skating on Saturdays. (nyuk nyuk -that one was for you, Ralph!)

Meanwhile, we do like to keep up with our friends and colleagues by following their blogs, Web sites, and the like. This weekend, we're watching with great trepidation, our friend Ralph who is a beat writer for the NYDaily News covering the Giants football team.

You want to know how truly cold it is in Greenbay this weekend? Visit Ralph's entries as his descriptions of revisiting the tundra are hilarious: NYDaily News

I don't envy him one bit, not one tiny bit.

Meanwhile, I'm watching the snowfall here in Raleigh -quite the winter wonderland for those who have no meaning of the word "shovel."

Friday, January 18, 2008

What more do you want from this blog?

First poll for 2008: What more do you want from this blog?
The poll is open until February 1st and you can vote anonymously.

We ask you, our favorite enthusiast, to tell us what is on your mind. What you want to see when you arrive to read our online journal? Place your vote on the poll machine (multiple choice is allowed) and if there is more you'd like to add, this is the place to do it.

Thanks so much for reading -and contributing!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I Got Noticed by the Wall Street Journal!!!

Hey folks! Blogging works!

I was checking my stats tonight and realized that a few people were coming from the WSJ! Woo-hoo! Why in the... I discover that it's all because of an article I wrote about wearing my Princess Diana hat at New Year's Eve Party: Edinburgh: Hats Off to Compliments!

Although the entry was a bit heavy on the introspection, Teri, the author of the article, Wearing a Fedora, found my article good enough to blogroll. Where? On the WSJ site, of course!! You can find my tiny link at the end of the article. I say in this case, size doesn't matter: tiny works!

Oh, and she's included Johnnie Depp's photo -I couldn't think of a better celeb with which to become associated.

Envision the Pips singing, "Taking the train to happy town... woo woo!"

In case you didn't catch it, my entry has been blog rolled on the Wall-Street-Journal!!

Wallpaper Wednesday: Gothic Dragon

Thought I would tantalize you with another scene, courtesy of our honeymoon. This dragon was found scaling a building hunting for young blood. I'd advise anyone with children to keep them close as this dragon was collecting them to take them to a feast, er, for a feast.

A frightening sight, I'm glad I was safely tucked in a building across the square.

Gothic Dragon 1024 x 768

Download Additional Sizes

Monday, January 14, 2008

Weekend Update

Our first weekend together as honeymooners and we were sick. Never together of course, we alternated our ickiness back and forth -just like the social disease. Fun Fun Fun.

Between our altered states, I worked like a mad woman to get phase 1 of shipping product and the updates completed on my Web site. Do let me know if you find anomolies, Andrew's collapsed on the bon bon couch watching reruns of Dirty Jobs and won't be doing any testing any time soon.

What's On Your Mind?
If you've purchased, received as a gift, or even won an item from ECStewart Collections or CalligraphyPets, I'd love to know your thoughts. You can add your comment to this post or send me a private note to We've got some surprises in the works and your ideas keep us going. So, bring 'em on!!

If you're not privy to any of the above, take a look at this new adaptation of the alphabet, skinned style.

Photo: Dragon on Munich Building

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Wallpaper Giveaway: Carousel Horse

Once in awhile I have to let loose my tight renderings and do a little experimentation in other mediums: this time it's photography.

Because my background is in both fine arts and graphic design, I do yearn to have fun mixing composition with photos on a more surreal level. Currently, my caper is with a carousel horse found galloping on Princes Street in Edinburgh during Hogmanay. I love the colors, the glistening of the lights that bounce and play on the brass poles.

The carousel horse is available as a wallpaper for your desktop and best of all -he's free for the taking. As usual, copyright stays with me, but feel free to tell your friends. Also, let me know which comp you like better: the one with Winston Churchill quote or the one without.

Carousel Horse without Quote (1024 x 768)

Carousel Horse without Quote (1024 x 768)

Download Additional Sizes
1600x1200 w/quote
1680x1050 w/quote

If more votes come in that you like the image without the quote, I will optimize it at the appropriate size and make it available.

Vote now by commenting!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thor Thursday

Did you know that Thursday is named in honor of he god Thor? Makes sense because I'm feeling the hammer of the mighty God of Thunder right now in the form of a bloody head cold and on a Thursday. Co-inky-dink? I think not.

Yup, our trip finally caught up with me. From freezing temperatures (I'm not going to bother to calculate Celsius to Fahrenheit -nop, not gonna do it) to a warm and balmy climate... I just want to go back to bed and hide, but I've got product to ship. Bleck.

CalligraphyPets Web Site Updates
For those of you cruising thru my Web site, I'm making some updates that requires some reformatting of the page. Should you find any anomalies, I'd love it if you could send me a note -there might be a small token of appreciation coming your way. Give me a few days to upload all of the pages then add a few more days to bestow this infectious varlot a host.

Meanwhile, I'm updating entries and adding a few. Here's one:
Edinburgh: Hats Off to Compliments

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Chinese Zodiac: Celebrating the Rat!!

February 7, 2008 Year of the Rat
Did you know that the Rat is charming, diligent, courageous, observant, and a perfectionist? That's probably why I love Remy in Pixar's new movie Ratatouille.

Homage to the rat, we've decided that we should celebrate the Chinese New Year with Luxe Gift Sets and Party Packs featuring the Rat.

Luxe Gift Set
You get to choose any print (to be signed and framed) found within the Chinese Zodiac New Year and a pack of classic Calligraphy Chinese Zodiac note cards.

Only $89
(for a limited time)

Rat Party Pack
Featuring 2008 Year of the Rat, this is a great party pack value for general celebrations or birthdays.

You get to choose any print (to be signed and framed) found within the Chinese Zodiac New Year and a pack of 12 Calligraphy Chinese Zodiac Rat note cards.

Only $89
(for a limited time)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Back in the Studio

I'm back in my chair, pushing my cat away from my keyboard as I read email and type another blog entry. I'm doing my best to sustain the after vacation glow. I want to get out and walk on those wet cobblestones of Edinburgh. I like cities.

There, I said it.

Many people squint their faces when I get enthusiastic about walking the cracked pavement of urban areas. Admittedly, I need a respite now and again from the city, but I'm craving the energy of building my business and talking about my work -I can only get that in a dense area, unlike Raleigh.

Although, back in my home base of Raleigh, I need to work smarter and more effectively about getting my work noticed: more press releases, more kits, a marketing plan that works as hard as I do. That's on the design board and I'll make Andrew plan my strategy. I need a calendar that dictates to me since I'm so free-wheelin' when it comes to creativity -sheesh! I have to be.

I worked extremely hard last year putting in more hours in a week than I can count, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I'm hoping this year will pay off -economy be damned.

Across the seas, I would check my email on occasion to make sure the business was still tended. I wouldn't respond, but at least check those emails that needed to be addressed upon my return. I received some orders and because I checked myPaypal account (across the seas) they flagged my account, refusing my re-entry. Dammit.

So, now I sit here, helpless while Paypal 'reviews' my secret answers to confirm I am who I am -sound familiar? Heh. I'm sitting in my own little box, albeit much prettier and comfortable than conjured memories of old war movies as my orders also sit partially completed until I can get my account released.

Now I think I"ll begin my list of business to-do's for the beginning of the week:

Make frames
Copyright my images
Review a contract
Work on a custom order (details forthcoming)
Clean up my Web site
Work on new product development

That's just to start.

At least I can look forward to returning to the gym as I didn't lose a pound with all that walking. Maybe I'll surprise Amy by showing up to yoga...

Meanwhile, here are some travel updates:
Passport Panic
Last Night in London: British Museum Surprises
Edinburgh: Our Apartment
Happy Christmas
Christmas Eve
Infamous London Fog
Business Class & the Crying Class

Monday, January 07, 2008

Home at Last

We're home and ready to open shop -so feel free to resume making purchases for the new year and please stay tuned for upcoming exciting new projects.

Meanwhile, I'm also making updates to our blog entries that may include add'l photos or even new blog entries that sneak in between ones already posted. You might ask yourself, "Hey! Where did that come from? I don't recall..." Well, I'm not playing with your head, just made a few bookmarks and left them in draft mode until I could get to them.

I've just uploaded a myriad of photos in these posts:
Infamous London Fog
Christmas Eve
Christmas Day
Edinburgh: Dungeon Exploration

If you want to see London at Christmas time, now is a good time.

Somebody's happy we're home...

Details Forthcoming.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Passport Panic: Testing Andrew's Charm

Typically, we were able to obey our alarm clock and continue our journey forward without any hiccups. However, this morning was different.

We arose, took a shower, ran down to the gallery to choke down breakfast and hail one of London's famous black cabs to Paddington Station. We accidentally chose one of the front cars of the train to Gatwick at the guidance of 2 train station authorities. Pushing our luggage into the designated compartments, we collapsed into a booth.

Something was amiss -this car looked a little more roomy, clean, and had tables. Er? I surmised to think we were in a first class car (FCC) -Andrew just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Whatever." Okay, but I'll be summoning my reason to the conductor when he asks us why we're not in coach. It's only a 15 minute ride and the cost of a first class ticket is a bit steep, but I'll apologize profusely and tell him that I -in all honesty- didn't know if we could move from car to car while the train was in motion -many of the underground trains in certain cities won't allow it- and it's exhausting to wait for permission. Additionally, I didn't want to get off the FCC because I was afraid the train would leave the station without us getting back on another car.

The ticket meister allowed us to remain, but asserted that many people 'do the same' as I just did. I would have moved but dammit, I'm not going to abandoned my luggage just to sit my carcass in another seat in another car on the train -that's just asking for trouble. I retorted by telling him that he should have "First Class" printed on not only the outside of the train but make it evident on the inside as well. First Class was in tiny letters on the outside, but it wasn't repetitive -and who cares when one is in a hurry and you're looking for the nearest door to corral your pieces like you're herding fat, troublesome cats???

Shew! It's all about timing.

We disembarked the commuter train to another station filled with elevator doors; these led to another train that took us straight to our terminals. Up another elevator, down a long corridor, and around the bend into security Andrew finally asked me if I had my passport. I was sure I did as I clenched my chest desperately looking for my passport shackle I typically wear around my neck each day. I assured him that I had it and would find it immediately.

We talked aloud, as we usually do, about where it might be. I'm balanced bags on the little cart, pulling my backpack off my shoulder and clumsily opening zippers expecting my passport to fall into my hand. Andrew then remarks if perhaps I might have left it in the safe at the hotel.


Andrew's eyes widen like I've never seen before.


I know what this means. It means travelling back to the Waldorf in London (a 45 minute trip). It means missing our flight. It means several grueling hours under a dank, secluded room, harsh light, a steel table and interrogation. It means sweating profusely until I can prove I am who I am. I'm too strong for a nervous breakdown. If Andrew has to depart the country without me until I'm able to retrieve my passport, then I can handle it. I'll eat airport food until I can travel. I'll make friends that can bring me food. My clothes are mostly clean, so that isn't an issue. Thank God I'm not on my period. I know that my driver's license isn't good enough, but I try.

Remember to breathe. Breathe. You've been walking several miles a day, so your heart won't be too stressed from this and let you down.

Let's see if Andrew's charmed essence has expired.

Andrew's the luckiest guy I know and not because he has me -that's too easy. I'm talking about what ever Andrew wants, Andrew gets. Parking spaces near the front door, tickets to sold out shows, deep discounts on accommodations, upgrades to Business class... this list is endless.

Me? A walking Murphy's Law. Always. Andrew's charm helps to cancel that out -at the very least.

Andrew's travel savvy and a few elements allowed us to move thru this caustic experience with a few burns, but nothing as I imagined, conjured by memories of World War II movies. I babysat the bags as Andrew called the hotel to secure my passport sleeping in the safe. He and the hotel security began with suggesting that the passport get transported by taxi -but the driver could not confirm arrival time before the plane was due to depart -in 45 minutes. We talked with airport security and I offered up suggestions like getting the passport number from the hotel concierge, perhaps even getting a faxed copy of the inside pages...

Bingo! That did it.

Meanwhile, several parameters fell into place, giving security reason to believe my story. Andrew had his passport; we had already travelled to several cities during our journey without incident -beginning in the States; we were able to corroborate our story with the hotel; the hotel was able to provide copies from their location without incident. Additionally, airport security called USImmigration to pull up my profile and reach a harmonious, but temporary consent to let me board the plane.

It was now in the hands of USCustoms at RDU to let me pass.

I wouldn't recommend this tactic to everyone as it isn't precisely cut and dry as I've laid out. However, if you keep your record clean, one shouldn't have nearly the issues that many people do incur because of oh, say lack of sleep -as was in my case.

I'm reasonably confident that my name has been added to the Homeland Security list now. Oi vey!

Passport Tip 1: Always Always Always carry your passport on you. At all times, no excuse. Pick pocket experts state that the front pockets of your jeans or the inside breast pocket of your shirt, jacket, or coat are the most difficult to reach without alarming you.

The easiest pocket is to cut, rip, or reach is your back pocket in slacks. They say that if you're wearing tight jeans, that it's still difficult to pull, but I'll stick with the front -thank you.

My ID shackle works too, since I tuck in between the layers of my sweaters, under my jacket.

Passport Tip 2: Make several copies of your passport inside page that includes your number and your mug shot. Tuck them into all pieces of your luggage and into a coat pocket that you normally wear. Should anything get separated from you, you'll still have the one and only important document you'll ever need -your passport ID.

Upon boarding the plane, we looked forward to the long 8+ hour flight in comfort. The flight attendent continued to empty the bottle of cabernet into my little port glass as I watched 3 movies. I resisted snoozing because darnit -it isn't every day that I get to experience Business Class and I was going to stay up for every last minute!!

For the record, that huge scoop of Ben & Jerry's chocolate chip ice cream was Andrew's. I can't eat dairy and I was imagining just how many fat grams were in that bowl -that always makes me feel better about my plight.

Pub Sightings

I just love the British pubs, they're delightfully well decorated.

I wish the States would embrace our community culture like that. Perhaps someone should start a pub chain like we have with coffee houses.

Details Forthcoming.

Last Night in London: British Museum Surprises

One of our must-see venues was the British Museum. He reminded me the Elgin Marbles were part of the permanent installations, but because Greece is insisting they be returned, there's no real understanding of "when" they'll be returned.

The Elgin Marbles refers to the collection removed by Lord Elgin in Athens between 1801 and 1805. The collection includes artifacts such as sculptures from the Parthenon, 247 feet of the original 524 feet of frieze; several metopes; figures from the pediments, and various other pieces of architecture. It also includes objects from other buildings on the Acropolis: the Erechtheion, reduced to ruin during the Greek War of Independence (1821-33); the Propylaia, and the Temple of Athena Nike.

Yeah, if I were Greece, I'd want them back, too.

I do love the British museum system, they don't charge admission and they allow one to take photos -yay me!!!

Elgin Marbles

The Terracotta Surprise
The museum reportedly closed at 8:30pm so Andrew was off to get our coats from the coatroom while I remained behind to take as many photos as I could possibly manage. He returned fully loaded but with a little spring in his step as he urged me to follow him to Information. It seems as though the museum was scheduled to remain open until Midnight due to the temporary exhibit: China's Terracotta Army.

Evidently, the show has been sold out for months but Andrew's charm worked for us tonight: We scored the last 2 tickets for an entrance at 9:10 pm. After an overpriced mini-bottle of wine, we were called to queue up for our time.

The exhibit was simply amazing.

Details forthcoming.

Last Night in London: Harrods

As we settled into our room, I got suddenly peckish. I do my best to control it with a nibble here and there, but it crept up on me instantly.

Andrew! Save yourself! The ugly monster has just reared it's ugly head!!

In desperate need of comfort food, we found a cozy restaurant right around the corner in Covent Garden: Covent Garden Kitchen. Covent Garden is right 'round the corner from the Waldorf, walk 2 blocks thru the theatre district and voila!

After Salmon and mashed spuds rolled with tomato (very savory) we dashed to find a few meager gifts for the family at Harrods.

Chocolate Coffee Cookies; chocolate honeycomb treats; a Harrods kitty for the boyz, chocolate covered brazil nuts for Dr Bob; and a kitty cat Harrods bag for Madam -shudda got for meself one. Argh! Guess we'll just have to return!!

Las Vegas for Shoppers
Inside Harrods is a real treat -one should take a day to just walk through. I wanted to take photos in the holiday gift extravaganza they were hosting, but security was extremely tight, telling us to put away cameras and remove backpacks from shoulders and carry them down by our feet.

We only made it to the food court which is unreal. Harrods have several floors but one can spend hours on the first. It's best to keep strict time because getting lost is inevitable. Also, we had to really watch our purchases because everything cost us 2x more than actual, so our souvenirs were quite limited. If you were walking near me, you'd here me price items aloud, "Hmm, 6 pounds means 12 USD for us. Humpfth! "

Fine, I'll just take more photos.

Next: British Museum Surprises!!

Last Day in London

We awoke to a light dusting of snow of the rooftops of the city- very pretty. The flakes seemed to lighten the heaviness of the darkened stone that made up the city. Reminiscent of Mary Poppins -wrong city, I know.

Our flight from Edinburgh was uneventful, although we had to wait over an hour to retrieve our luggage -British transport system sucks.

Tip: Don't make plans the day when arriving in London -they rarely work out.

Andrew was ever so thoughtful when planning our honeymoon -he included our last night stay at the Waldorf Astoria. Yay us!!

Tip: Because the Waldorf is part of the Hilton chain, Hilton points can apply to one's stay within the system. Andrew had enough to pay for the night. We would have stayed 2 nights, but that's another story. Details forthcoming.

Waldorf-Astoria: London

We caught our new Harrod's Kitten attempting to order room service but he didn't have our credit card number or the room number. Heh! He must get the audacity from my side of the family.

It's our Honeymoon!!

We remembered to tell folks briefly (who would listen) that the reason for our trip was because it was our honeymoon. Telling those who are affiliated within any part of the service industry will -in most cases- indicate this to their manager; often, the staff may be empowered to make special upgrades as a surprise to the guest. Do be sure to thank them on the spot and at the end of the event, or they may recant their gift.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Edinburgh: The Heather Gem

I'm always on the lookout for new and exciting advances in the arts and this trip was no different.

Compressed Heather

Along the Royal Mile, we unearthed a beautiful solution to reaping heather, a Scottish plant famous for it's purple bloom. The gems are handmade from the stems of old heather, too old to provide any nutrition to wildlife, and are compressed, cut into shape, and lacquered.

While most pieces were cut small and formed into earrings, I wanted a large piece to admire both sides. It was tough to pick just one. I want a lamp or something large and sculptural out of this work -it's gorgeous!!

Edinburgh: Dungeon Explorations

Finally, we had the opportunity to meet up with Kate & Neil (+Friends) tonight. They're a hoot to hang with and Kate graciously coordinated an evening to tour Edinburgh Dungeons for the 6 of us. I felt at home because Kate's friend had begun the evening giving the ticket meister grief -I must be home.

Although I got spooked a couple of times, the tour was almost hilarious. Initially, the guide needed a witch and decided to pull out a very wacked-out mum -we're not sure just "what" she was influenced by. She was quite mouthy and while I'm sure the guide hadn't planned for this, he dealt with it the best that he could. Oi!

Details Forthcoming.

Edinburgh: Last Day and I Smell Snow

For the last day in Edinburgh, we strived to plan our day in accordance with the imminent rain. While walking up the Royal Mile, we ducked into kilt shops that sold authentic Scottish garb. Andrew was secretly hoping to find MacLaughlan tartans on more than just a tie. Evident on old maps, it seems that the poor clan was at least able to find land on some obscure inlet while the Stewart clan took over most of the territory.

We happened upon contemporary interpretations of apparel that were just hilarious. I did hope to find a bustier in Stewart tartan, but fortunately for me and the fact that we're married to the USDollar, they did not have it in my size. Some times, it's lucky that supplies are limited that interest me -prevents me from overspending.

However, I did fall in love with a relatively new idea that hasn't hit the States yet -compressed heather. Because it is plentiful, an artist has crafted a beautiful approach to jewelry and I just had to pick up a pendant -it had the most heather variation that earrings did not. Photo forthcoming.

Throughout our honeymoon, we did not see a flake of snow. However, when we stepped out of a Scottish store the air hit my nose and realized that I could 'smell snow.' It should be here by tomorrow before depart for the airport.

We arrived at St. Giles church on the Royal Mile and decided it would be advantageous to take a peak inside.

After our tour, we needed a nosh. We enjoyed a dry piece of chocolate rum cake with pear (the pear filling was very good) and coffee at the Always Sunday Cafe. We dodged into Blackwells (we sell knowledge) bookstore to pick up Deathly Hallows in British English and two Edinburgh folklore books. More coffee and 45 minutes later, we had our final traditional Scottish meal at World's End: Fish & Chips + Drambuie Chicken & Mash with a pint of dark ale.

Next: We're on our way to meet with Kate and Neal for Edinburgh's famous underground dungeon walk.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hogmanay's Dogmanay!

Scots will do anything to socialize with others and dogs will the pack.

While Hogmanay is filled with parties -street and indoors- for mostly humans, New Year's Day concludes the events with Dogmanay. Yup, that's right. Fuzzy faces that are either Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed, or Siberian Huskie team up to compete in dog racing on grass. They pull three-wheeled rigs round a set route on the grounds of the Holyrood Palace vying for first place.

This is definitely suitable for the whole family -except the cat.

It did rain and we thoughtfully brought the umbrella, but the landscape was gorgeous. An eventual mist took over Arthur's Seat (an extinct volcano) making photography an interesting challenge. The Palace Grounds, like any other lawn, were exceptionally green with all of the rain and responded like crushed velvet.

Happy New Year!!!

Power Naps were mandatory before we headed out to party with the Scots.

Andrew had scored tickets to the street party and a new venue at Hogmanay: the Hoog. We donned our paper bracelets and headed out without our constant daily gear of heavy coats, cameras, & backpack; I felt naked without them.

Strolling down the street, we noticed a similar herd to that of the Torchlight Procession, but without the fire. I believe we moved through about 50,000 people to attend our Hoog Party prior to the Fireworks. In the Assembly building, we grooved to brass bands, Ceilidh dancing, and smooching like Scots against pillars like it was the end of the year. Er, wait...

Anyhow, my time watching husband led us out before the gates closed to witness some fantastic fireworks lite from the Castle. We met up with celebrities like Brad, Angelina, a brooding Clooney, and Alyson. Of course, the Regal Nigel, Photographer at large insisted that his mug shot be taken as well.


Edinburgh: Traditional Experiences

We began our day with the idea of taking it as easy as possible before our hearty party with the Scots tonight. My body hurt quite a bit yesterday, actually, both of us were exhausted that we passed on dancing at the street party last night. So, today we took in quiet traditional Scottish events today like touring the woolen mills, tasting whiskey, pints of beer, and hearty food.

Having never had Scotch Whiskey (smells like cleaning fluid to me), I decided while in Rome, er, Edinburgh, I should at least go for a decent tasting to gain appreciation. The Whiskey Expert at the bar assembled a flight of 4 distinct whiskeys with different flavors. While I was able to discern the sweet whiskeys from the smoked, I had difficulty appreciating the harsh affects of the spirit. Poor Andrew felt compelled to finish the 4. Bleck.

I'll stick with wine and beer although I think I saw a whiskey liquor come out of the closet and the Whiskey Expert talk about how much better it was than Baileys -I love Baileys. Hmm... I'll have to try that later.

It started to spit harder while we walked down the Royal Mile to locate a traditional Scottish Pub -that certainly isn't too difficult but price is always an issue. We happened on one on the corner of St. Marys & The Royal Mile for traditional fare. Andrew wagered that if he liked his bangers and mash here, that we would return Jan 2 and he'd have to try the haggis. Doesn't sound interesting to me since I'm not a huge red meat or "meat surprise" connoisseur.

Update: We just learned more about haggis, thanks to the FoodNetwork. Andrew's decided against it. Read the recipe all the way to the end -hilarious.