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26 February 2015

Life's a Carousel ● by Jess

My childhood was pretty fab.

I spent most of it in Missoula, Montana-- a town where conservative rednecks and earthy liberals somehow manage to coexist (sometimes in weird dreadlocks-wearing, Ford truck-driving combinations). It was a great town to grow up in and it's always felt like home.

One of my favourite things about Missoula is its strong community spirit. When I was six, the whole town united together to build a carousel. This was not one of those dinky County Fair-style merry-go-rounds. No sir.

It was a BIG DEAL.

The life-sized horses were designed and carved by local craftsmen all in exquisite, excruciating detail. Each one had its own story and were beautiful works of art. I remember all my little girlfriends having carousel posters with each of the horses photos, name and an explanation of the details of each horse. We were a town obsessed....

On the day of the final unveiling, babies sang and mothers wept (well, mine did least). Everything was intricate and beautiful-- from the stained glass windows to the gilded dragons and gargoyles, not to mention the horses. I remember hearing music from the band organ, which was covered by this incredible medieval scene-- hand carved knights fighting dragons in a landscape of cliffs and castles-- each of the little figures moving to the music.

It truly was a moment of pure golden magic.

I think special memories like this can kind of set the stage for years to come. In hindsight, my life has definitely felt like a carousel ride. Up and down... round and round... Just as you're at your lowest point, somehow you take  turn and suddenly you are heading to a happier, higher place.

Even smaller moments are like that.  Moments like when I get down about not having my own little baby to sqwunch, I feel myself heading into a descent, then suddenly I'm back at work realizing I have two dozen of the cutest, cuddliest four and five year olds you've ever seen. It's a definite high. Or when the $3000 we just had to drop on our flights back home for reunions this summer starts to make me wonder why we ever moved to London in the first place, suddenly I get an email from Ryanair telling me about flights to Prague for only £20 and life seems a whole lot brighter.

It's funny how these small things like hugs and emails can completely turn your day around. Today's tiny mercy came in the form of grape juice-- "deep full bodied Merlot grape juice" to be exact and it sets my little alcohol-free heart aflame. Best part? It's the Waitrose brand that make it, so it's cheap! But oh, so wonderful...

So, while I sit here, nursing a glass of grape juice and getting dizzy on memories of carousels, life is feeling mighty fine. I'm lucky I have so much to be grateful for.

Europeans love carousels. Some of our favourite memories recently have come with them. Check out our trip to Paris and a day at the London Christmas markets

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19 February 2015

Pancake Day ● by Jess

Whereas New Orleans has Mardi Gras and the Latino/Italiano world has Carnival, the UK celebrates Fat Tuesday with a little something called Pancake Day.

It started off as a way to get all those sweet, fatty cooking bits our of your cupboard before fasting for Lent, but has since blossomed into something a bit more weird and delicious.

I spent Pancake Day in east London at the Great Spitalfields Pancake race. I got there early so I was able to geek out over some of the street art in the area (be still little heart!).

street art london ocean
It's like an enormous doodle page, and I love it. 
street art london birdstreet art london

Eventually though, I got down to the business of the race. The purpose of the event is to raise money and awareness for London's Air Ambulance, but everyone really comes for the unsurpassed pleasure of flipping a crepe in the air while running in a ridiculous costume in front of hundreds of people. There is truly nothing like it.

GoPro frying pan

This is a man truly dedicated to his craft as a "Tosser." He literally has a GoPro strapped to the handle of his frying pan.
Clown red noseRadio PersonalityPractice pancake tossingupside down mustache

The rules are pretty simple. Its a basic relay race (with your team of four people) and you try to outpace the other teams, by running the course with a frying pan and flipping your pancake at certain points. Other than that, there basically are no rules. If you pancake drops, no problem! Pick that bad boy up and keep going.

All said, it was a fun day of giggles and buttery yumness. Can things really get any better than that?

Waldo costume
Spitalfields Pancake race

As a side note, while shooting the race, I snapped this: Here is what the British teen of 2-15 looks like. I have to admit, I'm a little bit in love with spectacle boy's hair. Boys are liking their locks short on the sides and rockin' on the top. I give my hearty approval. 

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17 February 2015

A Cambridge Valentine's | Young Rubbish Vlog | Episode 25

Jon surprised me for Valentine's this year with a whole slew of wonderful. Seriously, he's so good at this stuff, he's almost given me a complex. 

I heart mormons selfie

It really is almost unbelievable. This year, after secretly walking to work for a month, he surprised me with gift cards taking the money he saved so I could go buy myself new perfume and makeup. 

Then, he set me up at the hairdressers (I literally only had my hair professionally styled once-- for my wedding) then we had dinner at a very posh restaurant in South Kensington. It was the kind of place that plays harpsichord music in the background... yeah, it was fancy. 

As if that wasn't enough already, he planned a whole fabulous journey to Cambridge for the next day. It's not terribly far away, about an hour and a half, but it was definitely an adventure!
mint coloured door
It still baffles me sometimes how old buildings and streets are here. Someday I'm going to have a mint-coloured door just like this. 

Valentine's Day in Cambridgestreet view of King's Collegegolden clockKing's CollegeBritish ArchitectureSelfie King's CollegeOlde Sweet ShoppeCoat of arms in stonePepsi CambridgeG. Peck & SonTrinity CollegeCambridge SelfieOVergrown vinesStone poet

After our day of exploring, Jon took us to (the appropriately themed) The Theory of Everything. I'd like to just go on record as saying, "LAAAAAAME!" to the guys that made the trailer promoting this film. Here I was thinking I was getting a heart-warming escapist fantasy, instead I got a whole lot of sad. I was seriously so tense through the second half of that film. *sigh* I suppose it was well done... I'd just have preferred it if it had stopped halfway through.

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Happy (belated) Valentine's day!

13 February 2015

Guess How Much I Love You | Young Rubbish Vlog | Episode 24

As previously discussed, I have to be quite particular about what I show and/or discuss regarding my students... so today's video, which is a film of the 3-4 year olds we made for their Valentine's day assembly which has them talking about how much they love their mummies and daddies. It is possibly the cutest thing of all time, and I'm quite sad I can't show it to more than just my family. 

But all is not lost, I still have a little nugget or two of cutest to share. Valentine's day in the UK isn't quite as big of a deal as in the states. The children don't make or buy valentines for each other. So, it is kind of a big deal when a kids spontaneously make you one. The following are a few of my favourite cards some of my students made me to let me know how much they care:

First card comes from comes from Lena. You'll see a lovely photo of her and I. Notice the excellent spelling of my name (Mis Jasiku) and that we are roughly the same height. I got lucky enough to be the one with "a sun close to [my] heart," which I think it pretty fab.

This little girl actually did bring me chocolate and a card. I was pretty jazzed about that. Chocolate is the way to every teacher's heart.

 This little munchkin decided to emotionally blackmail me with her card. I had told the children the day before how Valentine's cards were my absolute favourite. She went home and made me one, but handed it to me this morning saying, "I made this for you, but I'm only going to give it to you if you promise to tell me a story with a princess, a golden apple, a pillow, a dragon, a good witch, a cottage.... and a pink feathered hat." Obviously, she'd put some thought into it. 

At first, I wasn't entirely sure about what this one said, but was so pumped by its Kandinsky-esque vibe I took a photo of her with it anyway. It says "Diyu Mis jask luv" which means "Dear (with a British accent) Miss Jessica, I love you." So darn cute.

This one made me laugh. You can't see it so much on this page, but the other side starts off with hearts then followed by very long laundry list of people. "Look Miss Jessica! You are one of the people I love!" She's so stinkin' adorable I guess I don't mind sharing my valentine's real estate with the rest of the planet ;)

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08 February 2015

Three for Tea | Vlog Episode 23 ● by Jess

Yesterday, our adopted auntie, Claire, took Jon and me out for a proper English tea. Claire is one of our most favourite people of all time; as Jon put it yesterday, if we could use one word to describe her, it would be "charming." She really is one of the loveliest people we've ever met.   
Tea was meant to be at the Wolseley, this very fancy, shamncy restaurant near Piccadilly Circus. If you look it up online you'll see that lots of celebrities head there for nibbles, which is kind of fun.

On our way, we walked by Buckingham Palace, which I realised Jon and I have never seen together before.  It was strangely empty round the palace for a Saturday, but that might just be because I last time I really spent any time in the area I was watching the changing of the guard, which draws huge crowds.
Part way through our walk round Buckingham Palace we got a text from Claire saying that the Wolseley had booked us for lunch instead of tea by accident so we had to rebook elsewhere. Luckily the Cavendish Hotel was just around the corner!

For those that don't know, going out for tea isn't like going out for a cup of coffee. It's much more involved and far more exciting... At the Cavendish Hotel they serve each guest, not only tea, but four small sandwiches (crusts removed), two kinds of scones (with clotted cream, jam and lemon curd), chocolate mouse, lemon merengue pie, blondie brownie, macaron, some kind of green mouse, and candy floss. Whew! You seriously walk out feeling so full, and very thoroughly hydrated because you've just drunk so. much. tea.

After several hours (which just seemed to fly by) we left and walked to the glasses store because Jon is now the proud owner of contacts! Oh boy!

Then we went home and Jon found this picture, and literally spent 10 minutes laughing-- and I LITERALLY mean 10 minutes (think about the fact that most of our "laughs" are only about 5 seconds or less). He was rolling over in tears, which was actually more funny than the picture itself. I don't know what tickled him so much about it, but he woke me up twice by giggling about it after we went to bed. Decide for yourself: here it is.

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