Thursday, May 26, 2011


Last night, Nicole and I met up with Alex, a friend of hers, at Ottolenghi. My mouth literally dropped open when I walked up to the window.

First of all, the taste was just as amazing as it looked. 4 of the pictures above I ate. I can't remember the exact names, but I had the sweet potato dish (above), the eggplant dish (above), the Blackcurrant Meringue (above; I bought a bag of mini blackcurrant meringues to bring home to the fam), and the White Chocolate Cheescake (above). De-lish.
Second, I'm really bugged that the pics came out blurry. It didn't look like it when I checked to make sure it was in focus. So mad about that. Still learning. So sorry.
Third, I have a new British friend! haha Meet Alex!

This picture makes me laugh. I thought the candlestick was really neat while we were eating dinner and so I'm glad the waiter got it in the picture. ;) Apparently, he thought the candlestick was cooler than we were too.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

leaving on holiday

We had a mini pedi-mani party in the house today to get ready for our first trip in a few days.
Can you guess where we are going?

It is warm, sandy, and the number one place I have wanted to visit my whole life...

Tim is calling himself the "Dream Fulfiller" these days because my list is slowly being checked off by him.
I can't wait!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

the city

Everytime we walk somewhere where it is crowded and busy Marisa asks, "Mom, are we in the city?"
And actually, most of the time we are.

Today we started the day at Westminster Abbey...

London is great for kids. I love that everywhere we go they have a little something for children to keep them interested at their level. At the Abbey, while Tim and I listened to the tour on headsets, Marisa got a clipboard and pencil with a "Children's Trail" paper to mark off the things she sees inside. She loved that. She sat in the stroller the whole time and would circle things off as we went along. Natalie, on the other hand, preferred to climb past the roped off areas and climb ancient tombs where famous kings and queens are buried. Like Henry VII...

We couldn't take pictures inside obviously, which is too bad because it is amazing inside. We could only take pictures in certain areas which aren't worth taking pictures of actually, except for this...

Britain's oldest door. Probably built somewhere in the 1050s. How random and cool is that?

We were told in the beginning of the tour that the girls would get a chocolate gold coin at the end of the tour for doing the sheet/participating and we thought it would be some small little thing, but we were wrong! They were huge and the girls were so happy.

Next, lunch-time. Because a lot of the tube lines were closed we walked a lot and took a lot of detour routes to get where we wanted. We walked to Victoria Station...

and walked past The Monument...

to reach The Borough Market.  Let me begin by saying that this place is definitely London's little treasure. This afternoon we were just there and Tim and I are already having serious cravings for everything we saw and actually did eat.

It is a big outdoor market where you can buy local produce and other bits and pieces, but it mainly is a place to try food and eat it. We were told to come hungry. This place is serious eye candy. My pictures don't do it justice, sorry. I was too busy feasting my eyes on everything.
I ordered fish and chips for the girls. First time for all of us actually having the famous British dish. Tim had this wild boar hot dog which looked and smelled delicious. I promise better pictures next time. Because you better believe there will be many next times.

After a delicious lunch we went to Tate Modern. I will sum up our experience there with what Tim said inside.

"I'd rather go to a baby shower."

If you knew Tim well, you would know exactly what that meant.

Ironically during dinner when we asked Marisa what her favourite part of the day was she said the "treasure hunt", which was at Tate Modern.

Level 3 has a children's section for various activities for children under 5.

We chose to do the treasure hunt for the girls where they were given a big felt-board bag and various felt items which corresponded with items in some of the art work. She loved searching for the items in the paintings and sticking them on.

Once the treasure hunt was completed we quickly left and headed to St. Paul's Cathedral. We crossed over the Millenium Bridge where we found these tasty treats, again. Just about at the ends of every bridge there are these caramelised peanuts. Way good and way cheap.

We entered St. Paul's near closing time so we are going to have to go back and see the inside another day. So we settled for soaking in the light rays on the cathedral steps, girls giggling while chasing pigeons, and calling it a good day...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


It is no surprise that I'm having a harder time adjusting. And today is another day I can add to my list of days that don't exactly help.
My experience so far feels like a roller coaster ride. I do have days that seem to start out great. Even if one thing, one small thing goes right, I try to look at it as though things are moving up. But once that spark of encouragement comes then the ride suddenly vears sharply to the left and plummets down rapidly. And then the ride continues again, things start to look up, and then a sudden vear to the right and loops and twirls all around.
Today, for example, is the perfect scenario of just that.
I get an email that my John Lewis order, (yes, another one) is arriving this morning. It comes early in the morning and ALL the items are in the box! Yay! Yay, for easy deliver and no hassle.
But then I managed to get on the wrong bus going to town and I had to back track half of the way, cross a major busy street, and lug two kids who want to complain the whole time. But, the second bus driver was so very kind to me and helpful. I love those rare moments of kindness from Londoners.
I go to the post office once I get off the correct stop to see where my parcel is. No luck, they don't know, they will get to me tomorrow. But, the girls and I got to buy fresh fruit and bread at the local markets in the village. So fun!
We then went home afterwards to find my missing parcel right by my post box. Yay! TVs are here! Double yay! Two good things in a row!
But, Marisa got to watch one movie and then it stopped working. Really....
Then, landlord sends someone to get a quote on a window that needs to be fixed. Again, very rare moment when you can talk to a kind man, but our conversation went like this.

"I can tell you are from the states but where about?"
"Oh, I'm from California!"
"And why would you come to London??"
"Ugh! Don't say that! I've gotten that so many times already!"
"But it's true! I mean, look outside! It's cloudy and cold and everyone here walks around staring at their feet completely miserable! People here are kind of a$$holes to be honest."

We had a good laugh after that and for the first time someone could agree and see what I feel on a day to day basis. I have never had someone say, "Oh neat! Welcome to London, you are going to love it here!" They almost always say, "Oh, I'm sorry" or "Do you find that people here are miserable?", when I tell them that I have just moved here for two years.
The gentleman was extremely nice and talkative which is rare for a Londoner. We talked about the attitudes of Londoners, life here, and the crappy customer service in the UK. (Amen, brotha!) Although it was so nice to just chat with someone, even a stranger, I did feel a little discouraged after he left. Even a little teary-eyed.

For so long Tim and I have had lots of discussions on how valuable it would be to live abroad. The things we get to see, places we get to visit, and the cultures we and our girls get to experience. You just can't buy experiences like that. You only live once and we want to make the most of life for us and our children.

I know getting settled in is hard anywhere you move, especially internationally, and I'm fully aware we are in the midst of it, but it is really discouraging when I wake up each day and I have to battle the constant up and down in a single day. One second I see a ray of sunshine and the next several hours is nothing but dark clouds. I wish I had just 1 day of things going right. Even one simple thing like the fact that all I want is to take the right bus and get off at the right stop the first time!!!
I can't explain enough how grateful I am for the sweet old ladies and men on the bus who graciously help Marisa down the aisle of the bus while I try to push my buggy and a screaming 1 year old off the bus, and for those few people that give a smile or compliment to me and my girls at the park, store, or bus, and for those other few people who are kind and gentle in their words.

Nicole told me on the phone today, "It's ok. Tomorrow is a new day." And she is right. Tomorrow is a new day. I need to remain optimistic as possible.

I have always loved this...

ever since I saw it at a store in Fashion Island. Little did I know that Rachel Ashwell lives here in London. I really need to take this motto to heart and not let the natives here get to me or any other humps on the road get to me either. Despite the major adjustment I still very much want to be here, (don't get me wrong I'm not complaining that I live here!) and couldn't imagine being anywhere else right now in my life. Tim and I have never felt this was a wrong decision. We very much strongly feel this is where our family is to be.
So, here's to taking the right bus the first time!!! haha

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kensington Gardens and Science Museum

I love that there is so much to do here. And a lot of free things to do here too. We haven't even left the city of London and we feel overwhelmed with the amount of things to do. In fact, we have weeks planned out ahead of us. And don't even get us started on seeing Europe. We almost get frantic thinking that two years is not enough time to see Europe!

Because it seems like we have been dragging our kids from palace to palace we thought we would do a day for them to roam free and play and just go at their pace. We started our Saturday by going to Kensington Gardens, adjacent to Hyde Park, which has the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Playground. It has a loose Peter Pan theme - the centrepiece is a pirate ship, with a mast that older kids can climb, a stone crocodile with a stone beach cove where you can play in water, tepees, and so much more.

Once they had their fill of the playground we then walked around the park to head to the Science Museum, but made stops along the way to see the bronze Peter Pan statue...

and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.

We had no idea that this beautiful building was across from the museum. (It is located in an amazing, expensive area and I can't imagine how much the church pays for that building.) I believe this is where the Hyde Park Ward meets, right Shannon?

The girls favorite part about the Science Museum was the water play area. Marisa made sure that no one took the only purple boat there and Natalie made sure that no one took 3 boats she tried holding in her hands all at once and playing at the same time. So possessive that little girl.

Most museums are free here except for some of the exhibitions. Love it. We were seeing things faster than we expected so after the Science Museum we headed right next door to the National History Museum. There was a butterfly exhibition called Sensational Butterflies on the grounds of the museum so we did that first because the girls were SO giddy about it.

The girls loved carrying these little cards around the exhibit to collect stamps along the way as they learn about butterflies. They didn't like that not a single butterfly landed on them. :( Although, one butterfly got so close to Natalie that its wings brushed up against her eye. She didn't like that. She kept saying, "Eye..." and the scowl on her face afterwards was hilarious.
The butterfly above was Tim's favourite. When its wings open up it is this really pretty light blue. Marisa's favourite butterfly was all black with pink tips on its wings. Of course.

We did go inside the National History Museum for a quick glance since we were obviously right there, but the place is so massive so we are definitely going back. And check out the building that it is in. Amazing. And the inside is stunning.

We kept hearing about a restaurant called Nando's here and it has been recommended by my friends who have lived here before as well so we decided to hit that up for dinner. I had my pepi-pepi sauce HOT and Tim had his EXTRA HOT, which is the hottest available. It was actually really good. So hot and good I couldn't stop eating or else my lips and tongue would burn like fire. So good though!

It was a wonderful day. I look forward to weekends so much here. Our girls are getting used to us dragging them everywhere. They love it though.
But note to self: Check tfl BEFORE heading out to the city for the weekend for closed tube lines. It took us like 2 hours to get home last night... :) Still learning.
At least we got to walk across the London Bridge! Another item to check off our list.


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