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    A letter challenge - Jan 31st, 2016
    It’s that time of year again, so dust off your quills, fill up your ink wells, and grab your parchment—or at the very least, find a Bic and a bit of loose-leaf! Why? Because the annual “A Month of Letters” challenge starts tomorrow! [more...]

    Affordable vintage - Jan 30th, 2016
    Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair was in Edinburgh today, so I went out with my lovely friend, Susan, to find some affordable vintage flare. I had hoped to find some fabulous 1950s tea dresses or some fantastic handkerchiefs, but those things didn’t seem to be in ready supply. But I did manage to find a few lovelies to bring home! [more...]

    Happy hills - Jan 24th, 2016
    One of my hopes for 2016 is that I can keep myself motivated. Motivate to succeed. Motivated to stay active. Motivated to work harder. Motivated to accomplish many, many goals. And motivated to be happy. [more...]

    Happy milestones [or not] - Jan 21st, 2016
    I have decided to finally read “Happier” by Tal Ben-Shahar. It’s a book I acquired nearly two years ago, but I’ve never quite got around to really reading it. Instead, I’ve just flipped through the pages from time-to-time. I think the reason I’ve never really read it is that I have always felt odd passing by the self-evaluations (called “time-ins”) and personal exercises. [more...]

    A winning week! - Jan 15th, 2016
    I attended the International Data and Information Management Conference in Loughborough (England) this week. The conference was a great opportunity to meet with other information science researchers—and to present my own research. But it was also a great opportunity to win back some of my academic self-esteem and self-confidence. [more...]

    Hopeful butterflies - Jan 10th, 2016
    I want to fly. I want to soar into the sky and touch the Heavens. I want to reach all of my goals; I want to succeed! I know I have it in me, but I often allow myself to let my fears and insecurities take over, preventing me from spreading my wings; preventing me from realising success. [more...]

    Oh, great; a winter run! - Jan 9th, 2016
    Today was my first race of the year. My first run of the year, to be honest, because a chesty cold kept me away from my running shoes until now. And it was great. But it was cold. Like really, really cold. But then, it was the Great Winter Run, so I wasn’t exactly expecting a heatwave! And in fairness, it didn’t seem too terribly cold once I started running. [more...]

    Filters, finds, and falls - Jan 3rd, 2016
    I enjoyed a nice wee wander up to the filter beds near Glencorse Reservoir to find a geocache near a waterfall today. I even saw a filly along the way. As it happens, it was the first time I’ve left the house all year, and it really felt good to stretch my flexors! (I’ll leave the alliterations alone now.) [more...]

    2016 half goals - Jan 2nd, 2016
    Right. It’s a New Year and therefore time to state my new running goal. And for the first time in a long time, my goal doesn’t include a full marathon. It’s hard to say that, but I know it’s the right decision at this point in time. Especially because training for a full marathon really impedes my ability to hit my half marathon goals. [more...]

    Starting 2016 - Jan 1st, 2016
    I woke up this morning ready to start the New Year with hope and faith for a good 2016. Not with the naive notion that this will be the best year I’ve ever had, nor with the belief that it will be a year of nothing but joy and happiness. No, I don’t dream of a perfect year, as I know perfection is a myth. Instead, I simply dream of a year where I am more happy than sad; more healthy than ill; more productive than lazy; more optimistic than bleak. I pray for a year that starts and ends with laughter and friendship. [more...]

    Wrapping up 2015 - Dec 31st, 2015
    With 2015 quickly coming to an end, it’s time for a bit of reflection. And as I look back at my hopes for the year, I am pleased to say that I’ve succeed in all but one of my hopes—the desire to learn how to sew a skirt. But I didn’t even attempt that one, as I realised it isn’t a truly important goal for me. And so, I’m calling the year a success! [more...]

    Combing the Ayrshire coast - Dec 30th, 2015
    I spent the last three days beachcombing in Ayrshire with a friend and managed to find all sorts of cool things. (And, sadly, a cold!) Our walks took us north to Ardrossan and as far south as Culzean Castle. It was my first time exploring that area of Scotland, but I’m sure it won’t be my last! [more...]

    A selfie Christmas - Dec 25th, 2015
    Hello and merry Christmas to you all! As I mentioned the other day, I am spending my Christmas (mostly) alone—but I am doing so with new and old traditions to keep me company! [more...]

    The holiday hush - Dec 23rd, 2015
    The holidays are here again, and that means I’m facing an extended period of holiday hush. “Hush” because, like most years, I will be spending Christmas and New Year alone again*. Only this year, I’m going to work really hard at not being too hushed. [more...]

    Gastropod grief - Dec 17th, 2015
    It started a little over a year ago. Every few days, I would wake up and there would be faint, shimmering lines on the carpet in my bedroom—always along the path of my laptop’s power cord. My first thought was that maybe there had been an electromagnetic something-or-other that interacted with the man-made fibres in the carpets. I didn’t really give it much thought, especially as it wasn’t a daily occurrence. [more...]

    A quick hello - Dec 9th, 2015
    Hello, dear Just Frances readers! It’s been a while since I’ve shared a post so I thought I’d pop in and let everyone know I’m alive. And let you know that I’m struggling a bit… Not about anything “serious”, but rather about what to share. [more...]

    Edinburgh: A city in perpetual change - Nov 20th, 2015
    I spent last night getting lost in discussions about Edinburgh’s urban landscapes as part of a panel discussion called Lost+Found in Edinburgh: Our city today. The event was part of the Being Human Festival, a festival to celebrate the humanities, and was certainly a fun way to waste away a couple of hours in the middle of the week. [more...]

    Another year closer - Nov 16th, 2015
    Yesterday marked two years since I began my PhD studies. And that means I am another year closer to being Doctor Ryan. It’s a title I’ve longed for since I first began my bachelor’s degree all those years ago, and being this close to actually having it is pretty exciting! [more...]

    A historic half and half - Nov 15th, 2015
    I spent yesterday at the Holyrood Park Education Centre, getting educated on whisky and beer pairings as part of Historic Scotland’s inaugural “Half and Half” event. The afternoon’s class was put together by The Scotch Whisky Experience and Stewart’s Brewing, and was absolutely fantastic! [more...]

    A Wales of a day! - Nov 9th, 2015
    I’ve been down in England spending a few days with my brother-in-law, John, and on Saturday he suggested we drive across to Wales for a wee day of adventuring. And as I can’t resist a good adventure, I happily accepted the idea of a pilgrimage. [more...]

    That tatty old man - Nov 7th, 2015
    I went to a play with my brother-in-law, John, last night. He had sent a message a few days ago to say there was a play I might like to see on my visit, but that was all I knew. But I happily agreed to go along. After all, what fun is a long weekend in England if you don’t get out and enjoy the culture? [more...]

    Halloween brews - Nov 1st, 2015
    Yesterday was Halloween. And Halloween means playing dress up. It was also the Alloa Real Ale Festival. And that means drinking beer. And as I love dressing up for Halloween and drinking beer, I spent the day in costume at a beer festival. [more...]

    St Giles’ from above - Oct 23rd, 2015
    I felt the need for a bit of exploration this afternoon. The sky was bright and blue and there was only a mild nip in the air and I wanted to do something fun outside. And so, I decided to finally take advantage of the guided rooftop tours at St Giles’ Cathedral on the Royal Mile. [more...]

    A haunted tower? - Oct 18th, 2015
    I was invited to be someone’s guest for a wedding yesterday evening, and he suggested that I pick a castle (or something) for us to visit during the day. I opted for Huntingtower Castle near Perth, as I was very interested to see the painted ceiling, and Perth seemed like a convenient place to meet up. [more...]

    A day at Dirleton Castle - Oct 4th, 2015
    I spent yesterday exploring Dirleton Castle with a friend. It’s one of the nearby castles I’ve wanted to see for quite some time and I was so pleased to have someone to explore with who is just as silly as I am! We even managed a wee stop to see a few boats and gather some shells in Cockenzie. That last stop also counts as one of my stops along the Making Plans Goal of seeing those 14 amazing places near Edinburgh! [more...]

    Saving the best for last! - Sep 28th, 2015
    I ran my last Loch Ness Marathon yesterday. (Maybe.) And I accomplished a PB whilst doing it—which was totally unexpected. Even better, I am nowhere near as sore as I was the day after my first (and slowest) Loch Ness back in 2011. [more...]

    The love point - Sep 24th, 2015
    Once again, National Punctuation Day is upon us. And that means I am going to talk about one of my favourite things—punctuation! But I’m going to change things up this year by talking about punctuation as it (may) relate to love. Because we all need a bit of love (and punctuation) in our lives. [more...]

    Scottish half; take two - Sep 19th, 2015
    Today was my second time running the Scottish Half Marathon and my second half marathon of the month. Unfortunately, I was a bit slower than last year, but I did manage a better time than last weekend’s race. And with that, I only have one race to go for my September madness! [more...]

    Half BraemarAthon - Sep 13th, 2015
    My crazy month of races began today with the Braemar Half Marathon—after forgoing last weekend’s planned 10K in favour for a wee ride on the choo-choo train. I am a bit disappointed with my time, but as I went into the race with the plan to go slow and just finish, I’ll not complain too much. [more...]

    Choo-choo to Abbotsford - Sep 6th, 2015
    Today was opening day for the new Borders Railway between Edinburgh and Tweedbank. And as I am a bit of a train buff who enjoys being “first” to try new things, it made sense that I should make the journey. So that’s exactly what I did today: I rode the rails between Edinburgh and Tweedbank. Along with all the other train geeks in Scotland! [more...]

    A very a-peel-ing day - Sep 5th, 2015
    I was chatting with my friend Iris yesterday and learned that she’d never been to—or heard of!—Linlithgow. And as it’s one of my favourite places, I needed to remedy that. (Which also means I'm keeping up on my desire to be more adventuresome.) So we boarded a train this morning to make the 20-minute journey to the ancient royal burgh. Once there, we wandered around the Linlithgow Peel—with a wee stop off at St Michael’s Parish Church and Linlithgow Palace, of course. [more...]

    The king has left the building - Sep 1st, 2015
    Today should be my Uncle King’s 53rd birthday. Only he left this world for the glory of Heaven a few days ago. I knew it was coming, as did he. But that doesn’t make his exit any easier. And so here I am, wondering what to do with the birthday card I bought him; wondering what to do with all of these tears. [more...]

    Balancing lonely and love - Aug 15th, 2015
    Some days, I think about how lonely I am, and about how I want to find someone to share my life with. I think about how I want to find someone I can love, and who will love me back; about how I want to find someone who makes my heart sing with a joy so loud that it drowns out the loneliness. Only it’s not all that easy to find that person. If it were, I wouldn’t still be alone after more than six years of widowhood. [more...]

    The brew master - Aug 9th, 2015
    I love beer. But I bet you probably knew that by now. Especially if you follow me on Untappd. I also love cooking and making edibles from scratch. I love learning, too. And I really love a good adventure. So yesterday, I combined all of those loves together for one great make-your-own-beer adventure. [more...]

    From Roslyn to Roslin to Rosslyn - Aug 2nd, 2015
    I grew up a couple of miles down the road from Roslyn, Washington. So when I first moved to Edinburgh in 2001, I was excited to learn that there was another Roslin here in Scotland, on the outskirts of the city. And since beginning my PhD, I’ve been living on a rural estate south of the city, and just two miles down the road from—you guessed it!—the Scottish Roslin. [more...]

    Training month - Aug 1st, 2015
    As September is a month of races, I’ve decided that I should probably make August a month of training for races. And so, I’ve started the month off with a seven mile run and I’m looking forward to increasing my mileage throughout the month. [more...]

    Blue moon demands - Jul 31st, 2015
    I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but my parents were really mean when I was growing up. As in they were so mean that they denied us sugary cereals and junk food. And if we got soda, we had to share a can. (See, I told you they were mean.) When we got special treats, or when we asked for special treats, we were told those things are allowed “once in a blue moon”. [more...]

    Over the Pentlands - Jul 30th, 2015
    Remember when I mentioned I am going to have more adventures? And that I am going to fill up my diary with all sorts of fun things? Well, today was one of those adventuresome days! Even better, I managed to visit two of the 14 places BuzzFeed says I should try to see this summer. (Yay!) [more...]

    Making plans - Jul 28th, 2015
    I’ve talked a few times about my desire to build healthy routines for myself, to get out and be more active, and, of course, to prioritise myself a bit lot more. And I’m pleased to say that I’ve been working on all of those things over the past few weeks. In fact, I’ve been making all sorts of plans to ensure I keep filling up my diary! [more...]

    Preparing for September - Jul 26th, 2015
    At the start of the year, I began thinking about my 2015 running goals. I knew I would want to improve my times, and that I’d likely end the race season with the Loch Ness Marathon at the end of September. What I hadn’t realised is that my plans would slowly morph into me running a race every weekend in September, for a total of 58.6 race miles. [more...]

    Weekend jazz - Jul 19th, 2015
    The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival started on Friday, setting the tone (pun intended) for my weekend. I admit that the weekend has been slightly less active than originally planned, but the jazz quantities have been maintained, thanks to a well-stocked iPod. [more...]

    Juniper girls - Jul 16th, 2015
    Last night, I did something I (almost) never do: I enjoyed mid-week cocktails with “the girls”. Or rather, with a random group of girls, some of whom I had never before met. All thanks to an online voucher deal and Facebook. (See, the Interweb can be a very good thing!) [more...]

    Dress like today is important - Jul 14th, 2015
    Over the last several months, I got into the habit of wearing jeans most days. And that slowly led to jeans and a casual top. And that soon led to jeans, a casual top, and sneakers. Which soon led to hair-in-a-messy-bun. Which soon led to me feeling a bit old and frumpy when I left the house. [more...]

    Real ale, Scottish style - Jul 11th, 2015
    I went to the Scottish Real Ale Festival with a couple of friends today. I always enjoy beer festivals because they’re a great opportunity to try new brew and meet new people—both of which were done today! [more...]

    The jazz plan - Jul 9th, 2015
    As part of my plan to have more adventures—even if I have to have them alone—I picked up a programme for the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. And I’ve marked some gigs I’m interested in attending. And I even added them to my calendar. Now, I just need to find the courage to actually go to the various shows on my own. [more...]

    Polka dots and beads - Jul 8th, 2015
    Once again, my work day saw me walking to-and-from my office for all-important errands. And, once again, I seem to have stumbled into a charity shop (or two) along the way. [more...]

    Lost and found - Jul 6th, 2015
    I had a meeting in town today, and on the way back to my office I managed to get a little lost when I took the wrong path through The Meadows. I didn’t realise it until I emerged at the main road and the crossing was different than what I’d expected. [more...]

    Tasty tots - Jul 5th, 2015
    I love tater tots. I love, love, love them. They are an amazingly delicious treat and I would eat them all the time if I could. Only I live in Scotland. And Scotland doesn’t do tots. In fact, they don’t even know what tots are. So if I want tots, I have to make them myself. Which is what I did for the first time today. (Yum!) [more...]

    An American flag in Scotland - Jul 4th, 2015
    Today is Independence Day in America; the day we stood up against The Crown to demand self-rule. As a proud American, this is a very important day for me. But as an expat American living in Scotland, it’s a little difficult to find a traditional Independence Day celebration, so I did something a little untraditional. [more...]

    Certifiably sane - Jul 3rd, 2015
    For nearly two years now, I’ve been experiencing an extreme amount of stress. Some days and weeks have been harder than others, but there hasn’t really been a period of un-stressed time. And a few months ago, the stress got so bad that I was struggling to function. [more...]

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