Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Birthday

Thursday had the potential to be very depressing. It was my birthday and Thanksgiving, and being so far from family and friends just makes it sad. I turned 27. Did anyone else feel a little depressed turning 27? It just kind of feels like a "blah" age change to me. I think turning a year older and becoming even more of an official adult makes you reflect on where you THOUGHT you would be at that age and then forces you to compare it to where you actually are. I mean, of course I am happy for my life and never thought we would be living abroad. But there's this pestering voice in the back of my head, nagging me about what I am doing with my life now that I am 27 (mainly, about my lack of career and lack of babies that aren't covered in fur).

SO, with that being said, I am very thankful that I had my mom and sister to help me get over the 27 year old blues AND to celebrate Thanksgiving with.
We went to have a proper tea time in Covent Garden. It was delicious and put me on a carb/ sugar high! Cucumber sandwiches, scones, ├ęclairs, macaroons, and lots and lots of sugary tea....I wonder what has more calories in it: A thanksgiving meal or afternoon tea?

Note to self: The "lean back" is never flattering.

 After tea, we walked through Covent Garden to get to Trafalgar Square. Everything is set up for Christmas around London- it makes the city so beautiful!

In Trafalgar square, there are all sorts of performers: those weird "statue" people, bagpipe and accordion players, and singers. There were men drawing flags of different countries. My mom asked if they could draw the Texas flag, too, and they did! It was the only state to be represented :-)

Next,  we checked out the Natural History Museum. I've mentioned it before, but it is my favorite museum in London. The building is gorgeous- you feel like you're walking through an old university.

All this walking and exploring is exhausting!
Our Thanksgiving dinner wasn't very traditional. We took the tube to meet Daniel in Whitechapel for some Indian food. Happy Thanksgiving, indeed!
After dinner, we took my mom and sis to see my favorite pub for their last night in London. We played scrabble, had a couple of pints, and then walked home.

My mom and sister just left London this morning. I'm so sad that they are gone, but happy that we got to spend a great week together! I'll be posting more pictures during the next couple of days.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and really enjoyed eating turkey, pumpkin pie, and spending time with family and friends.








Thursday, November 28, 2013

Michael Kors Bag : Aug 2012- Nov 2013

On the 24th night of November, 2013, something terrible happened. Awful. Wretched. Unthinkable. While relaxing on the floor, enjoying a quaint Parisian wine bar, Michael Kors Bag was kidnapped. We don't know who dun it, but we think it was gypsies. Or gypsy children. Or the gypsy mafia. The story keeps changing.  

Michael Kors Bag, enjoying one if his final and happier days

This is all we know.

We were sitting down at a wine bar, catching up with my Parisian friend from college, Alexandra. Michael Kors Bag was hanging out under my mom's chair, tired after a long day of touring Paris. We were sitting by the door, looking out the window and drinking fine French wine.

Suddenly, as our order was being taken, two (possible gypsy) men came in and started speaking French to our waiter, interrupting him from taking our order, and then left in a huff. Maybe it was them?

Later on in the night, a gypsy woman strangely came into the wine bar selling popcorn and roses. Maybe it was her?

We never saw gypsy children, but they are sneaky and well trained. They could have easily came in, crawled under the table, and abducted Michael Kors Bag, right from under our noses.

My mom had a weird hunch, and started looking for Michael Kors Bag. It was futile and in vain. He was no where to be found. It is pointless trying to put the blame on someone (although we know it was those damn gypsies). All that matters is, Michael Kors Bag is gone. Forever. 

A sad, sick joke. We didn't know that only 6 hours later, Michael Kors Bag would be out of our lives forever.

Mom went through all of the stages of grief.

Denial: Michael Kors Bag has to be SOMEWHERE. Maybe he's in the toilet? Maybe he's hiding under the chair? I know he'll come back.

Anger: WTF who would do this? Who would steal my precious Michael Kors Bag?

Bargaining: Well, maybe the police will find him? Maybe we should give the restaurant our number, just in case Michael Kors Bag comes wondering in, lost and confused?

Depression: How can I ever live my life without Michael Kors Bag? He had everything I ever needed. My money. My ID. My chapstick, tissues, and cheap sunglasses. Can I even make it home without him?

Acceptance: He really is gone. He left mom with a parting gift, though. He might have passed on, but not with my mom's passport, trainticket, or phone. For that, she will always be grateful.

I think what hurts the most is, we don't know where he is. Was he thrown in a dumpster, left for trash, after the gypsies realized he didn't have much money inside him? Or is he living a new life, with a new family, bringing joy to their lives like he did to ours? We pray daily for the latter.

It has been hard moving on. We are reminded of Michael Kors Bag's lost daily. Every time my mom needs to purchase something, she has to use my sister's credit card. When her lips were chapped, she reached for Michael Kors Bag, and he wasn't there (nor was her chapstick). When Westminster Abbey wouldn't let my mom get in and use the free ticket I got her because she didn't have her ID, that stung. But, I know slowly but surely, we will move on and be okay.

Michael Kors Bag, seeing the world during one of his last days with us

We are just so thankful that Michael Kors Bag got to do what he always wanted to do: see the world. It is bittersweet, yet fitting, that he spent his final days in London and Paris.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Madeline in Paris

No time to write up a big blog about Paris AND I didn't take a ton of pictures (my sister and Daniel both did that) so I need to steal some of their pics, first.

Here is my sister, Madeline, in a nut shell.

Paris, Day 1
 Sista was tired. She was jet lagged and not used to the amount of walking that you have to do in Paris. Feet were a lil achey...

Paris, Day 2
 This picture was not posed. Sister was a hot mess. Madeline's feet were in major pain, causing her to literally limp all around Paris. We bought her some $42 gel pads that helped for a bit, but after miles and miles of walking, her feet were done. She crashed and burned, having to take off her shoes in front of the Louvre for a little self foot massage. The only thing that kept her persevering is YOIFOM (pronounced YOY Foam- You're only in France once...maybe). 

Paris, Day 3

Thank God for Fashion Sport Fashion Shoes. These were not only some of the most stylish shoes we had ever come across, but also the most comfortable. Madeline was a new woman in her Fashion Sport Fashion Shoes.

The fuzzy insides and thick rubber soled outsides made Madeline's feet much happier. Plus, they were just some of the most flattering, sexy shoes we have ever come across. When you think Parisian shoes, I bet Fashion Sport Fashion Shoes are pictured in your mind. I know y'all all are dying to get a pair, but I think they can only be bought in Paris. Or in a sweatshop outside of South East Asia.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Quick List

1. My mom and sister arrive tomorrow, so I won't be blogging much!

2. We have ANOTHER water leak under our sink. What perfect timing. I might just keep a bowl under it for awhile.

3. Kate Middleton is at Daniel's office RIGHT NOW (but not on his floor) to promote something. Daniel says that he doesn't have time to meet her because he already made plans to play soccer. On a Wednesday. At noon. I am contemplating taking the tube there right now, to see if she looks as fabulous in person as she does in the Daily Mail..,

4. Something between snow, sleet, and hail started falling from the sky today.

5. I almost broke my leg on something we call "slippery leaves". Basically, the leaves all fall to the ground, get rained on and stepped on so much that they become this slippery, pulpy substance. If you are not walking around in shoes with lots of traction, you WILL slip. Way worse than banana peels.

6. Lovin the bike. But you remember that hill I was complaining about that I have to take every day to pick up the kids? It is SO much harder on the bike. I made it all the way the first day, but was really sore yesterday. I made it about 4/5ths of the way, and then my quads literally gave out and I half way fell/ looked like I was exiting the bike very hastily and walked the bike the rest of the way. Who knows what today will bring, with the snow/sleat/hail and slippery leaves.

7. Already had a light stolen from my bike. Already lost my lock, somehow, too. But the bike is still (kind of) in one piece!

8. Okay, that's all I've got. I'll try and post a blog once we get back from Paris on Monday!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Emerald and Aqua

I'll never forget the conversation I had with my close friend, Anneke, when we first became roommates at UT. I think it went something like this...

Anneke (totally out of nowhere while we were sitting in the kitchen): I associate numbers with colors.
Me: That's weird. What's 3?
Anneke: Red
Anneke: Blue
Me: 25
Anneke: It only goes up to 10.

But really, I have never met anyone that has such a passion and understanding of colors. Because of Anneke, I can never wear turquoise and feel like I'm not stealing "her" color.

It comes to no surprise that Anneke is a fantastic artist. I am totally missing the arty farsty gene, so I couldn't understand how Anneke could just seemingly add a dash of color here and a different "swoosh" of her brush there and totally transform her work.

 These are some of my favorites of hers, from her etsy site:

Emerald & Aqua Jars - Print

Signature Emerald & Aqua - PrintAqua Jar Greeting Cards - (5 per Package)

Obsessed! Really, I just love ALL of her paintings of flowers in aqua jars. They would look beautiful standing alone or in a trio. It has that shabby chic, vintage and girly feel...would look gorgeous in a sunlit living room or bathroom.

Fresh Citrus (Lemons) - Print

UGH, I just love this one. Would look perfect in a kitchen. This makes me literally crave an icy, sweet cup of lemonade.

Blackberry Fluff - Cupcake Print

How cute would this be in a girl's bedroom? And how hungry does it make you for a decadent, rich cupcake? Would be dangerous if it was hung anywhere near food.

To check out more of her paintings, to commission her to create something unique, or to find out more about the lessons she can give to your kiddos and their friends, check out her site Emerald & Aqua or her Facebook page.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekend Funnsies!

Hello, and I hope you all had a great weekend and will have a week that is equally as enjoyable...I know my week will be, as my mom and sister arrive on Thursday!
Last blog left off with my riding my bike clear across London on Friday. I arrived home when it was already pitch black outside, so Daniel and I did nothing else! I made some Goulash soup, after being inspired in Budapest. 
I got to use the paprika that we bought while in Hungary, but the soup wasn't nearly as good as it was in Budapest. And that bread bowl? It's a laugh! No body here even knew what a "bread bowl" was, so I just bought 2 loafs of sourdough and made it in to a bread bowl...a ridiculously huge one. 
But it saved the soup from being unremarkable!

 On Saturday morning, I picked up some free furniture from a friend of a friend who's moving. I rode my new bike there and hired a van to bring it back to my place. This is the new hutch in our kitchen. We had only 5.5 cabinets in our kitchen, 3 drawers, and no pantry. This now gives us some much needed storage! I also brought home a nice baker's rack and put it outside in our cement garden to display some flowers. Right now, it is a home to the house plants that I have killed and have put outside, hoping that they will miraculously have a second life. I'll post pics after I buy some more plants for it!

 After the furniture delivery, I was itchin' to do some shopping (I mean, I got furniture for free. I practically earned it). I rode the bus to Oxford Street and scoffed when I noticed that everything has been Christmasfied! Since there is no Thanksgiving here, Christmas decorations have been up since Nov. 1! I scored a sweater from H&M and a new puffy jacket from Primark for 22 pounds! Primark is like an even cheaper Old Navy.
We love gypsies. So many of our jokes center around them, I have no idea why they give us such a laugh
 On Sunday, we met up with Daniel's boss and his lovely family in Greenwich. We got there early, so I got my first red Starbucks cup of the season, sportin' an eggnog latte extra shot.

I knew my teeth had been coffiefied, so I didn't want them photographed. BTW- new jacket! Super warm and will be great during the colder months!

We explored the Painted Hall in the Maritime College... parts of Thor 2 were shot here! 

Other movies that had been shot on these grounds: Les Mis (barricade scene), Dark Knight Rises (final cafe scene), The King's Speech, Mummy Returns, and Lara Croft. Cool!

A lovely chapel. I learned that (at least) the dome roof of it was designed by the same architect whom designed St. Paul's! This was a "trial run" for him before building the cathedral.

We went to another museum that used to be the Queen's house. Henry VIII was born here!

We had a great and somewhat restful weekend. It is crazy...even though it is only mid November, we literally have every weekend planned out until 2014! It's going to be wild. In the next 6 weeks, we are going to Paris, Scotland, Paris again, then HOUSTON!!!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Cyclin' In The City

Living in London has really brought the term "running late" to life for me.
I am literally, constantly running late. Halfway jogging, power walking to yoga because I dilly dallied too much. Sprinting uphill to Nanny, because I missed the bus. Running as fast as I can home, because I'm hungry and want to cook dinner. I. am. always. running.
And I am so, so tired of it. I don't even run for my health. I run because, up until today, it is the fastest and cheapest way to get from point A to point B.
To all of you running lovers, I actually do enjoy running. It is very different, though, choosing a time in your day to run several miles enjoyably, vs running several times a day, in fear of being late, when you just really aren't in the mood but you HAVE to. Think of all of the places you go to in a day. The store. The bank. Work. The gym. Now, imagine that you don't have a car to take you there. Just having to go pick up some milk becomes a huge chore!
Yesterday, I had HAD it. I missed the bus I needed to take, and the next one would make me very late in picking up the kids I nanny from school. There's too much traffic for a taxi, and the tube would take too long, as the one by me doesn't connect anywhere near to where the school is. So, I had to run. And I had already worked out. And my butt was really sore. And I had already walked/ ran several miles already. And I just really wanted to sit my bum on a nice, warm, cushy seat...not run, uphill, in the bitingly cold wind, with a tired and sad bum.
So, I decided then and there, I am getting a bike. It's the only mode of transportation where I don't have to rely on someone else to take me, is quick, and is somewhat leisurely (compared to running). I found a used bike on Gumtree (our equivalent of Craig's List) that was supposedly 3 months old.
I had to meet the seller in Clapham, which is very south London, and then ride the bike back to North West London. This would be my first time to cycle in London, and I had to go clear across it. If you have ever cycled in a big city before, you know it is terrifying. Cars don't want to share the road, buses are riding on your ass, and the crowds of people are totally oblivious to you. Biking is a huge risk here...right now, people are furious because 5 cyclist have died in the past 9 days in London. But, I think if you are very defensive, don't take the busy roads, and of course wear a helmet, then you will be fine.
So, I get to Clapham. What was supposed to be a 40 minute bus ride was over an hour. I was running late so, of course, had to run from the bus stop to where I was meeting the seller. He ended up being an hour late...showed up with a tattooed neck, crazy eyes, and a bike that was definitely not 3 months old and I'm guessing was stolen.
I paid the £40, sent Daniel a reminder to donate my organs and cremate my body, and was off! First half was awesome. I "owned" aka passed up so many drivers that were stuck in traffic. I quickly picked up some confidence and speed. Then, I found myself on a really busy street and my GPS told me to turn right. I'm so not ready for right turns in London. I freaked, then proceeded to get myself so lost that a ride that was supposed to take 40 min took nearly 2 hours! Other cyclists were passing me up, giving me the stink eye, showing off with their fancy right turns. I'll be there, one day.
It's funny how quickly neighborhoods change. One moment, I was in an area where all street signs were in Arabic. Made a (left) turn and BOOM I was in my hood! Alive and with all limbs still intact!

One day I'll be able to take pictures while turning right on to the street, but for now this will have to do.
I look forward to more rides in the future, and less running!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Blue Wagon

Today's post is taking a shift outside of London, and back to Houston. I want to let all of my American friends and family (which is everyone reading this, other than about 4 of you) all know about my friend, Myrna, and her adorable, handmade little girl accessories.

Myrna and I met my very first semester of teaching. I was right out of college and wanted to go change the world, one inner city kid at a time. Myrna actually interviewed me and became not only my team mate, but my official mentor teacher. Although we dreaded the paperwork that went in to that, I still learned so much about being a calm, peaceful, and organized teacher from her. I am thankful for her friendship during the 4 years I taught at Berry Elementary (and especially our last year there, when we were right across the hall from each other!).

Myrna joyfully found out she was pregnant with a baby girl during our last year of teaching together, and now spends all of her time and energy raising her sweet little gal, Vivi, with her husband.

In the couple of spare minutes that she has, she crafts these precious hair pieces. Which, knowing her, isn't surprising in the least. She was one of those cutesy, crafty teachers that I will never be! I want to buy some for the future baby girl we pray to have one day and I so wish I could pull off wearing baby hair pieces.

Image of Cute as a Button Baby Headbands

Image of Bright Mini Flower Buds- Set of Two

Image of Spirit BowsImage of Medium Blooms

Y'all...the most expensive thing in her shop is $7! And she offers free shipping! I hope you all take a look at her blog, shop and maybe even support this new, local business!

Click here for The Blue Wagon Blog
Click here for The Blue Wagon Shop

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Buda"pesht" Part II

 The one thing that Daniel said he wanted to do while in Budapest was go to Memento Park, basically the burial grounds for all of the old communist statues that were used to inspire Hungarians (to either revolt or give in) back in the Soviet days. It was quite a trek getting there and took us over an hour. We opted to be adventurous and use public transportation, vs shelling out the big bucks for a private coach tour.

First of all, although the buses are functional in Budapest, they lack in beauty and newness. They kind of remind me of prison buses. The bus took us out of the main city and through some pretty run down neighborhoods, which were interesting to see.

Daniel waiting at the bus stop after the park
 Once at the park, Lenin was there to greet us. I had read that the only way to really appreciate the park is to have a private tour guide, which we decided would be worth to have. It was SO informative.
The tour guide taught us so much about Hungary as a satellite soviet state. We learned more about the bullet holes by our hotel room- in 1956, there was political unrest and Hungarians were very unhappy and revolted. Thousands and thousands of people died, but the end of this revolt marked the beginning of Goulash communism- the lesser of two evils. After 1956, Hungarians had it much better than most other communist states. There were some free market principals, people could travel (although this was very expensive and took years to get all of the right paper work in), and human rights were a bit better.

 The tour guide explained all about the symbolism of the statues and how they were used as communist propaganda, where they were placed in Budapest, and how they came down. The trip to the park would have been a waste without her!
 She also shared some of her personal experiences. For example, she had told us that Hungary was one of the only communist states where the civilians could buy a car. However, her family paid for and applied to get one in 1974 and didn't receive it until 1984- and had to pay extra for the inflation!

After our trip to Memento Park, we made our way back to Pest and walked to Hero's Square. Along the way, we came across the Terror Museum. I read that it was pretty disturbing, so we just took pictures and passed by.
Honoring all of the individuals who died due to Nazism and Communism

On the road, we passed gorgeous buildings that were a bit run down, dark, and dingy. We decided they looked like haunted houses. Really cool haunted houses.

Once we made it to Hero's Square, we felt like we were in a fairy tale looking at the buildings behind it. We figured they would fit right in at Disney World (embarrassingly, that is our indication of how cool a building looks- if it could be in Disney World). We deemed these buildings to not only be EPCOT worthy, but to be Magic Kingdom worthy, too. I mean, they are even Disney Princess movie worthy- I could totally see Belle singing from one of those windows.

The most absolutely horrifying statue I have ever seen. I thin the one on the left beats the one on the right
(that we saw in Italy)

Main square of Hero's Square

 The museums in Hero's Square could not have been more gorgeous. Sigh. Take me back there!

After our trip down Hero's Square, we took the tram back over to Buda, to Fisherman's Bastion. The only thing we had planned on doing while in Hungary was to go to a wine cellar for a tasting...and it ended up being our favorite activity (I mean, are you surprised? Anything involving wine and we are happy!).

But first, in typical Bond vacation fashion, we had to take lots of steps. Every EU vacation we have been on so far has involved us walking up more stairs than we would thankful to be healthy!

The road is just a break in the steps. 
The wine cellar, called Faust, was several centuries old and was once a wine cellar for Dominican monks. It was soooo spooky getting to the wine cellar. We had to go down several flights of cold, dark, rocky stairs.

We made it without getting murdered!
This was a stuffed man on the way to the cellar. It totally spooked me. I might have jumped. Daniel being a goofball.

This was just SUCH a cool experience. The wines were delicious and unlike any wine we had ever tried before. I am so angry at myself for not buying any bottles- I am contacting the cellar in hopes that they can ship us some. The tastings were more generous than I am used to with wine tasting- probably 4 oz pours. The sommelier taught us about each wine, the maker, where it is from, and what not. They were all Hungarian wines and hard to find (only about 200-1000 bottles made). At the end, I tried a Polinka- another Hungarian spirit. It was MUCH Tastier than the Unicum. It's a clear and rather strong liquor made from fruits- I had an elder flower one. I saw the same bottle later on in our trip and went to buy it, but it was over $100. I liked it, but not that much!

After the tasting, we walked around and then had an early night. Budapest was made to be seen at night- everything was beautifully lit up. I wish we had had time to take a night river cruise!

The next day was our last. We went to the market, and then took the bus back to the airport.

We loved Budapest and are so glad that we got to go. I say this about every city we have gone to so far, but it was one of my favorites!


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