29 September 2013

Art and Dinosaurs ● by Jess

Jon and I are becoming quite the experts on finding free stuff. Of course, around here its not terribly difficult as it seems like most everyone appreciates a good freebie (since everything is outrageously expensive-- like 50% more than NYC). We've been wanting to check out some of the free museums for several weeks now, and finally got a chance! We spent the day at the V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum) and the Museum of Natural History. 

Jon was pretty jazzed about this statue. When I asked him to tell me why he liked it so much (so I could share his zeal on the blog), he began a lengthy oration about metaphorical truth and falsehood and about all the glorious symbolism. Honestly, he's still going on about it... I'll spare you the details and just tell you it was *awesome.*


Outside the V&A, you can still see the scars in its façade from bombings during WWII. Its amazing being here because even people our age are so much more tied to WWII; the memories are much clearer and are very much more present then they are for young people in America. 


After enjoying all the lovely art at the V&A, we hopped across the street to the Museum of Natural History. Holy cannoli, this place is gorgeous! The main hall was like a castle... or Hogwarts... or some glorious real life combination that is actually filled with science!! To be honest, I think I was more excited by the architecture than any of the exhibits, but we still had a ton of fun (and were probably the only adults there without children). 


Jon's current obsession with Ayn Rand has made Atlas his Greek superhero. Also, it was really fun to see Jon's inner little-boy-johnny come out as he got really excited about the dinosaur exhibit. Our kids will have no choice but to share their dad's enthusiasm. 


We found a statue that roughly depicts how I look when I wake up in the morning. Also, we realized that there are monkey's carved into the stone that go all the way up the arches and ceiling in the main hall. So cool!


On Saturday there was an epic NFL party on Regent St. We didn't get a chance to go, but it was definitely a little bit homey to see American flags up there with the Union Jack. Its been really funny seeing so many people wearing football (I guess I should say American football) jerseys since. So great!


22 September 2013

The Open House and the Opera House ● by Jess

London Lifestyle Blog

Earlier this week we heard about this amazing thing that Londoners do once a year, which is called Open House London. The whole city opens up all of its iconic buildings for free to the public. So we woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed with hopes to see the Gherkin (the building Jon was most interested in exploring).We jumped off the tube at Liverpool Street station and rushed over as fast as we could (honestly "rushing" may be a bit on the generous side as it was 7am and this little daisy was basically still in a coma).
London Lifestyle Blog
London lifestyle Blog

As we arrived, we quickly realized that we had severely underestimated the event's description of "popular."Even though the event had yet to begin, the line was out the door, down the road, and had come full circle all the way around the block! If it hadn't been so hilarious it would have been depressing. But we were determined to see something! So, we decided to camp out at the Lloyd's building across the street for the next two hours. Waiting in line turned out to be better than expected as we met some very friendly seniors who were not only well-traveled and very posh, but also enjoyed free stuff just us much as us! Finding fellow cheapskates is always a bonding experience. 

[The Gherkin is the building pictured immediately below]

london lifestyle blog
london lifestyle blog
london lifestyle blog

(Pictured left above) The building on the right of the frame is the Lloyds building. It looks like a Willy Wonka factory to me, so Jon and I enjoyed some celebratory hot chocolate while we waited, and waited... and waited to get in. 

London Lifestyle Blog

After several hours of patience, we finally made it in!! The architecture was really interesting and beautiful. Its a financial building so most floors had offices or transaction desks. The elevators are completely glass and are on the outside of the building (which also adds to the Wonka vibe). 

london lifestyle blog
london lifestyle blog
London Lifestyle Blog

After accidentally leaving (we thought there were snacks outside on a patio... dangit) we trotted over to Leadenhall Market, which is just around the corner. Apparently, the Leaky Cauldron is suppose to be around here somewhere (see photo), but we have yet to find it.

London LIfestyle Blog
London Lifestyle Blog
London LIfestyle Blog

It is a lovely sentiment; unfortunately, the cost of getting into this particular house of God was £16 per person, so we passed. 

London Lifestyle Blog
London Lifestyle Blog

After our Open House experience, we walked to Covent Garden, which is officially my new favorite place in London. There are no words to describe how much I love this place! Not only was there amazing food and ambiance (professional opera performances) but... (and this literally deserves a drum roll)... there is a SHAKE SHACK HERE! AH!! One of the few things that NYC still had over London, and here it is, in all its artery clogging glory. Bless the franchiser that put that thing here. Seriously, bless him. 
London Lifestyle Blog
London Lifestyle Blog
London Lifestyle Blog

Also, look how sinister the pigeons are here... those beady red eyes could give you nightmares for weeks.

London Lifestyle Blog

We also found Neal's Yard, which I was hoping to see. Its this colorful, magical little back alley way with lots of little shops. It reminds me of Taos, NM in a way, although was probably due to the smell of incense and all the dreadlocks :)

London Lifestyle Blog
London Lifestyle Blog

One of the MOST exciting things I've done this weekend was to go watch Jon perform at The Royal Opera House. 
Shortly after we arrived here in London, Jon joined a choir (they are *amazing*) and they just happen to be performing at this phenomenal venue. I was so proud of him!  I just wanted to jump up and down and yell, "that's my husband!!!!!" Fortunately for all, I bottled it in until he went off-stage. They sang a mix of selections from Verdi and Mozart and did a really fantastic job.

London Lifestyle Blog
London Lifestyle Blog
London Lifestyle Blog

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19 September 2013

Dickie Lake ● by Jess

After our family reunion (and just before Jon and I moved here to London), we spent a week up in Montana at Dickie Lake with my mother-in-law's cousin Flora (we call  her Aunt Flora). We started in Utah and took an epic caravaning car trip up to northwestern Montana with my in-laws, Andrew, Matt, Tom, and Mary's family.

We made a pit stop in Idaho Falls where we stopped to see the LDS temple (which I had never seen before!).


Around dinner time we all had an ice cream craving. Fortunately, we were just outside Missoula, which is where I grew up. We stopped at Big Dipper ice cream, which is a sort of legendary parlor that sells homemade goodness. I got my go-to, a huckleberry shake, and while I was taking photos of the kids, Jon and his brothers went over to a vintage vinyl shop across the street.

I probably should have warned that we had stopped in one of the epicenters of hipster crunchiness. The boys came back wide eyed and more than a little distressed, with stories of ripe human smells and hipsters singing songs about family skeletons in the closet. It was a perfect introduction into Missoula student subculture.


Just a few hours from our final destination, one of the cars broke down. AH! We stopped off at a car dealership and waited for help. In the meantime, we decided it was time for a game of Sorry. This family plays the most intense game of Sorry you could ever imagine, and it was made even more legit by the fact that we were playing it the middle of a parking lot at midnight.


The next morning we woke up some of the most amazing views (and amazing bread) on the planet. Aunt Flora is a phenomenal baker! Sadly though, poor uncle Larry had had an accident water skiing earlier in the morning and had to go to the doctor. It turns out he broke his leg and had to have a pin put in it!


The entire trip was so relaxing. Having just had the large family reunion, which was exciting, stressful and packed with people and activities, being able to just sit and enjoy the seemingly pristine and perfectly clear water was fabulous. We spent a lot of time one the skidoos, the boat and waterskiing. We had a blast!


During dinner one night, Jon facetiously posed the question, "If 'Nessie' is the lake monster at Loch Ness and 'Champ' is the lake monster at lake Champlain... the lake monster here at Dickie would be called....?" "Richard!" Was the immediate and very quick response of my mother-in-law. From that point on the lake monster (of which Jon truly does have an irrational fear) was named Richard.


We are so grateful to Flora and Larry for letting us all come up and stay at their gorgeous home. They are such amazingly good people and I am so happy that I can (in a very round about way) call them family.