Mismatched Mess

of life, love, fashion, & forgetting to update


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Texans Abroad | Rye, England

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Rye, England is the cutest, quirkiest town I’ve seen so far. When Taylor wanted to show me this small part of England last summer, I was continually surprised at the charming views and clever homes.

ryemapAn hour’s train ride there from Canterbury, we ended up in another county, East Sussex. Though now two miles from the coastline, Rye was originally at the head of a bay in The English Channel and was an important Medieval trading port.

Walking up the cobbled stone roads looking at all the historical homes felt like walking through a storybook. Picturesque Medieval and Georgian homes crawling with greenery, each carrying a clever sign to describe itself. I was so intrigued by this quirky feature of the town!

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Walking up Mermaid Street, I was completely amused with the funny signs on doors.

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“The House with Two Doors”

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“House with the Seat”

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Our day was quite filled in this small town as we found our way around to 900 year old church, St Mary,  Ypres Tower, and coffee at a lovely cafe. Home to many authors, illustrators and musicians, even Paul McCartney of The Beatles, apparently, I can certainly see where they gain their inspiration.

 

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The Parish of St. Mary Church, Rye

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Viewing the old bells at St. Mary Church that are still tolled

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Climbed to the top of St. Mary Church and walking out the diagonal door to see the views.

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Black cat of St. Mary Church

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Trying on a replica viking helmet at Rye Castle Museum (Ypres Tower)

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Original torture device in Ypres Tower, which was mostly used as a jail.


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TexansAbroad | Weekend Getaway to York, England

December was filled to the brim with lovely get-togethers, plenty of good cheer, and one big weekend trip to York, England. From Canterbury West train station, heading into London Kings Cross Station, we hopped aboard the third Virgin train we could find. Having been scheduled for a much earlier train, we had our tickets changed twice as we realized the extent of the crowds waiting to begin this cramped four hour journey. Waiting an extra hour and half put us on an empty and comfortable train where our journey could finally commence.map

Long train journeys are best planned out: a good book, some downloaded episodes of a fun TV show, and a packed lunch are our recommendations. Lunch is the most important part. After being crammed into the morning train to London–discovering there is only standing room left, with your backpack constantly hitting the arm of the guy wedged beside you and praying for a breath of fresh air–there is nothing more satisfying than knowing once you are finally out of London, tucked away into a seat, the simplest of pleasures-the sandwich-is waiting for you.

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Yorkshire Museum in the distance

Once we were settled into our hotel and enjoyed a short rest, flicking through channels on the television in hopes of finding a fun British show (we don’t have TV and rely on Netflix and Amazon. We don’t miss it, but the familiar comfort of channel surfing is always fun), we began our walk into the city centre

The first evening, other than a quick enjoyable trip to the Yorkshire Museum, was spent among the hoardes of Christmas market goers. We knew exploring a busy new city in the dark wouldn’t be the most fun, so we instead sauntered our way through the Christmas stalls, stopping for dinner and mulled wine at nearby food stands. Christmas markets are a new experience for us, though the concept is clear: to shop. York was our first big Christmas market: dozens of stalls filled with handmade scarves and wooden statues, soap and ornaments. We aren’t too interested in shopping while on trips, so we mostly made our way around a couple times, listened to some Christmas buskers and found our way back to the hotel.

 

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St. Mary’s Abbey ruins

The next day and a half we were able to experience more of York, taking photos along the way. The best part was stumbling upon the historic cat trail. Business owners would erect statues of cats onto their buildings to scare away birds and mice. There are two trails to follow, put on by two cat stores (one sold glass figurines, including cats and the other store sold cat accessories). We chose to follow the trail map made by the glass figurine store, which turned out to be riddles and clues that led us all across the city in search of cats. We photographed about 23 cats and saw parts of the city we wouldn’t have otherwise explored!

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St. Mary’s Abbey ruins, York, England

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Taylor taking a photo of the first views of the city

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Little Shambles, York. Medieval houses dating back from the 14th century

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Taylor standing under a lopsided building in the Little Shambles

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Walking along the York Roman wall. More narrow than Canterbury wall, but over two miles long!

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Dover Travel Video…and Bloopers

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I have begun making travel videos for our adventures abroad.  I love these videos and wrote about my basic plan for them last week.

Our trip to Dover last weekend was so fun.  After I made the initial ‘pretty’ travel video,  I decided to make a blooper reel as well.  In the videos I show you serene scenes of landscapes and buildings set to lovely music,  but in reality my husband and I are two dorks and our commentary is so contradictory to the lovely scenes you see.  Have a look!  And check out my YouTube channel for more #TexansAbroad funny and lovely videos!


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#TexansAbroad | Dover, England

Dover Castle Grounds

This past weekend me and Taylor took a 40 minute train ride to the coast to visit the town of Dover. Hopping off the train, we made our way through town in search of a map of Dover and breakfast.

There was nothing remarkable about the particular breakfast place we chose. It called itself The Mean Bean. It served strong coffee and cold pastries. It was rather early so the place was empty when we sat down. As we sipped our lattes and made a loose plan for our day, the coffee shop slowly began to fill up. Each and every customer greeted the owner with conversation and camaraderie. They spread themselves out amongst a few tables, but the conversation never stopped. A few patrons table-swapped to have more personal catch-ups with their friends. The place filled with laughter, British slang, and the smell of coffee. We had stumbled into a local establishment.

This was actually a major find for us. We love Canterbury so much, but between all of the universities and its only industry–tourism, you can’t just walk into any given place and be met with locals. This place was the real deal. It was wonderful and amusing and refreshing.

Dover was refreshing.

Dover, Kent Ocean

Dover still has quite the tourist draw, with its famous white cliffs, a major castle, and its lovely seaside location. But there was such a difference between it and Canterbury. We were thrilled to step away from the hustle of tourists in Canterbury to the slower paced Dover.

We had an amazing time hiking the cliffs, visiting the castle and eating like locals.

Dover, Kent white cliffs of Dover

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Creating Home Movies | #TexansAbroad

I took a break from writing assignments this week to focus on work and video editing. I’ve been doing a lot of editing. Most of my videos are for work, but I finally got around to editing some of our ‘home movies’. I hope to make one of these short videos every time we travel somewhere new!

Creating these home videos has been an interesting process; seeing how the flow of a movie turns out. I’m not a pro at all, and don’t have a great quality camera, so I wanted my videos to have that imperfect quality about them. Of course, I do hope to get better with my edits, but I accidentally created a messy style and fell in love. I thought I’d write about it to explain my viewpoint.


I love how the beginning clips start with the actual audio from the video. It eventually fades into music, but I think I set a certain tone to the entire movie by opening with original audio.

Another ‘trick’ at the beginning is doing something ‘imperfect’. For instance, my video in Scotland starts with me uncovering the lens. I forgot to open the lens cover before I started recording. The other is me zooming into a shot of the river and you can hear that metallic zooming noise. I actually really love this.

All throughout the videos the footage is shaky with several moments of spinning or quickly moving the camera down. That wasn’t intentional, it was just me walking or moving the camera right before I turned it off. But, I use those moments to transition scenes which gives it a cool effect.

I hope to get at least a couple of shots of us in each video. I think it adds personalization.

The music has been the greatest discovery.. While searching for free music to use in the background, I stumbled across so much awesome video game inspired music. I think it would be a cool little ‘easter egg’ (to use video game lingo) to use music in each video that was inspired by video game music. I’m really excited about this! Each song will be given credit and a link to the artist so that their work can be shared with others. My husband was really happy when I used Chrono Trigger inspired music in the Scotland home movie.

And because I’m talking about traveling movies, I made this video while we were road tripping through the southern states of the US August 2014. We visited so many places and most of the footage was of us driving, so I decided to make the movie more about the journey rather than the destination.


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Springtime in Canterbury

1Springtime in England has been so quintessentially spring. East Texas doesn’t get much of a spring, unless you count rain and tornadoes. Yes, we get a couple weeks of nice flowers and new growth, but it’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit and everyone’s already gearing up for summer.

Canterbury, Cathedral: view from University of Kent

Things here happen much steadier and it’s really beautiful to experience! My husband gets to see bunnies on his campus everywhere. I thought he was exaggerating until he took me there today so I could see for myself. There were thirteen just hanging out. East Texas has plenty of wildlife, don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen my share of brown rabbits and ducks, but we’re called the Piney Curtain for a reason…lots of pine trees. And plenty of places for animals to live without ever being seen.

In Canterbury, with The River Stour running through town and wooded area going straight to the university, the wildlife can easily be seen, but still have room to live, which I’ve so enjoyed it. ducks2

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I Was A Band Roadie

Modern Miracle Crammed in the third row of a vehicle hooked up to a trailer of music equipment, I rode the miles of open highway to our first destination. It was time to tour. Get out. Stretch. Divvy up hotel room beds. Then back in the third row, travelling to the gig.

It was usually a small church, or an outside venue. Sometimes we performed to a massive crowd, other times…not. Get out. Set up. Cables and guitars, drum kits and sound checks. And me. T-shirts and stickers, SD cards and tripods. I was a roadie. Girlfriend to a guitarist and absolutely crazy in love with this band.

When I became part of the Modern Miracle family, I was immediately enamored. The energy and excitement to hear their music, to see my boyfriend perform…I was inspired.

38102_412366495669_3548101_nRight out of high school with a new laptop and Photoshop Elements, just beginning my college courses on multimedia, I had the desire to create something beautiful for this band. I sat in my dorm room listening to their music on repeat attempting to create something that expressed the emotion of the lyrics. I don’t think I’d look back at my first attempts to use Photoshop without training and call it a masterpiece…but I learned to use it through my passion for this Christian band.

As my place in the family grew, I started photographing them in concerts and photo shoots. Then I started creating t-shirts and posters and banners. I became interested in re-designing their Myspace page. If anyone remembers, the classic Myspace had a lot of really great features, if you knew html. So I learned html. I spent hours perfecting their page, creating a beautiful aesthetic. I eventually began creating Myspace page layouts for several bands. I had, perhaps, a year of html experience under my belt before I first took a class on it. Through the beauty of music, I had come into my calling.

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Modern Miracle was a constant source of inspiration for me. The lyrics were poetic stories ready to be unraveled, the music was a strong force to be reckoned with, the band members were a multi-talented family willing to do what it took to get their music out there. For me, the songs were worship. I felt connected to God by listening to them. And I knew my work was worship, too. I worked to create beautiful pieces of art and I worshiped God while doing it. By art, I mean Myspace layouts and t-shirt designs…but it was all for God.

Let our dancing feet set fire with the powers of your Holy Spirit.
We are anointing every word we say. Let it resonate.

I’ve never been so connected to music before or after this band. I appreciate music; the talent, the energy, the effort. There are a few bands I love. But there’s a difference.

With Modern Miracle, there was a raw passion that went straight through me. All the hours spent at band practices and concerts. The time forming bonds with each of them. The late night work sitting on my dorm bed creating. The connection my boyfriend (now husband–plot twist!) and I made when we talked about this group.

Seasons change, life happens. I wouldn’t trade anything to go back, but I do miss that time of my life. I miss the people, especially. Perhaps that’s what caused such an emotional response—having the band members there, laughing and joking; creating unique, original music. Music that held their talents and skill; their pain and joy. I didn’t just listen or watch, they didn’t just play and sing, we grew into who we are now…and we did it together.

Turn from the world. Double portion for shame.
Suffer your own cross for spiritual gain.


This was part of theWriting 101’s Blogging University. The prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you? – (No. hehe)
All photos by me. ‘Diamond Palace’ video credit to D2S Records. Quoted lyrics are from the videos that follow them. Listen to one more song they never got to record!


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Easter Weekend in Canterbury

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Taylor and I have been enamored with Canterbury Cathedral this weekend. We should have visited sooner, but we let it fall to the wayside.
Thursday we went to The Liturgy of Maundy Thursday service, which was such an experience. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke, and washed the feet of twelve of the church members, which was quite emotional. Then, as the choir sang, one by one all of the lights were turned off in the entire cathedral as the sanctuary was stripped of everything.

Friday we decided to go to an evening Requiem by Maurice Duruflé sung by the Cathedral Choir.

Sunday evening we went, yet again, to an evening sermon and compline. We had a chance to take a few photos of the outer cathedral. I captured the Easter garden, with the tomb and stone rolled away, some lovely blue sky cathedral photos, and some shadowed photos of the new Queen of England and Duke of Edinburgh statues that the Queen and Duke themselves unveiled two weeks ago to mark her diamond jubilee. It has been tradition for royalty to have their statues added to the cathedral for many years.

We plan on taking in many more services and will definitely visit more often to see all there is to see of this magnificent place.

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And though our Easter may not have included hunting Easter eggs and eating chocolate (although I’ve been craving hard-boiled eggs all day, so that may be remedied), we DID decide to dress in pale green and blue, because pastel = Easter (right?), we get to see baby ducks everyday as we walk home, and we saw a duck waddling along on the sidewalk this evening. That pretty much covers our bases. 😉

Happy Easter!

 

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Postcard Collectors

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In Scotland we fell in love with several paintings at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Among many other artists, we were also able to see works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Monet. Not willing to spend too much money or sacrifice too much personal space on the train ride home, we decided to bring home post cards of our favorites as ‘souvenirs’. Then all of a sudden, we had a handful of postcards and a choice to stack them in a nice, neat pile on a shelf or display them somehow.  Display it is!

One of my very favorite wedding memorabilia were our RSVP postcards. We had our guests check yes or no (of course) and in turn write or draw messages of encouragement. I made all these into a cute book that I hope to always have with us.

427903_3741405863539_1404572106_nAnd I would love to add to our current postcard collection! If you have a hankering for snail mail, perhaps we could all be postcard pen pals? (Just let me know!) At any rate, I now have a fun wall of postcards with plans to expand as we continue to visit different places!

 


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The Potter Trail! | Edinburgh, Scotland

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Step out of Waverly Station in Edinburgh and look in any direction to see exactly what inspired J.K. Rowling to create the Harry Potter universe the way it is. The famous author still lives in Edinburgh and was at the Wales vs. Scotland rugby match in Edinburgh Sunday as we were walking around. No we didn’t spot her, but saw many rugby fans from both teams decked out in team colors. (So fun!)

But this post is about Harry Potter! Every turn, alley and hill is so beautiful. Edinburgh has this charming old town feel to it that leaves you awe-inspired. I did my fan-girl research and found some notable spots. (Pictured above is Advocate’s Close located on the Royal Mile. Walk down the steps and you’ll be led up the hill to Cockburn’s Street which is a gorgeous street as well.)

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