Monday, April 29, 2013

London - Day 2

We slept in this morning until 8:30am, which was needed after the long flight from yesterday. Our first stop of the day (after Costa for a tea), was Shakespeare's Globe for a tour. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. The tour was mostly outside and it was snowing off and on.  I learned that the globe was was designed by an American and was the exacts size as the original, which burned to the ground during a show. The original fit 3,000 people, but the new one only fits 1,500. They obviously packed the people in back then. I hit the gift shop after and bought Colton a London ABC book.

Shakespeare's Globe

From there we walked over to the Tower Bridge and headed to the Tower of London.  The Yeoman  Warder live there and protect the Crown Jewels. Fun fact: they have their own bar on site! I didn't know the tour was going to be outside. I froze my bloody bum off. I'm surprised I didn't lose a toe. Seriously. This was the most expensive tour of the day and in hindsight, I wouldn't have done done the tour. However, I did learn a lot. The Tower of London was the sight of several beheadings. If you were lucky, you got beheaded inside the tower. For most, beheadings took place on a hill outside the tower. After the heads were chopped off, they would place the heads on sticks and put them out on the London Bridge to warn any potential traitors. Before we left, we got to see the Crown Jewels! I was slightly disappointed because we had to get on a moving conveyer belt to see the jewels. We didn't get to look at them for long and we weren't allowed to take photos. The queen's crown and scepter was gorgeous.

Tower of London

By now, we were starving. We hopped into a Pret (they are EVERYWHERE). Luckily I brought my umbrella because it started to rain. 

After a late lunch, we took the tube to shop. The next stop was Harrods! This department store was beautiful! We didn't get to spend much time here because we had 2 other places to visit. However, we did walk thru their food hall, tea/chocolatier room and the gift shop. I bought a pale pink id holder for only 7pounds. Before we left Harrod's, we saw the Princess Diana memorial.

Next up, we walked to the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery. The oil painting of Kate Middleton was there (Read the controversy)! I feel lucky to have seen it because it's only going to be there until September. We also got to see the original painting of Queen Victoria and some of Vincent van Gogh, including the sunflower painting. Georges Seuret is an artist who paints by dotting. The paintings  were stunning.

By now it was dark, but we still wanted to see Buckingham Palace. We ended up walking there in the chilly mist that is London. I wish we saw it during the day, but it just wasn't in the cards. Finally, we went on the quest for dinner. We met a few locals at a beer tasting the night before who told us about a pub called Harp. It took us a while (30 min?), but we finally stumbled upon it. This place was hopping!  We walked through the lively crowd up a small winding staircase to only find no seating. Fail. We went to 2 other places until we finally found a pub that served food after 10pm. We thought we were doomed because the menu said they don't accept credit cards, but they did! What a relief because we were hangry. I've never had fish in my life, but when in Rome, do as the Romans do. So, I had my very first fish and chips! It wasn't too bad. 

By now, it was 11:30pm and we headed back to our hotel to watch Scandal. : ) Ashlee downloaded it on her iPad. What a sight. 3 grown women on a king size bed watching Scandal on an iPad... we're loyal fans. 

After a quick Skype with Scott, it was bedtime. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

London - Day 1

April 21, 2013

We landed in London at about 8:30am and was able to get through customs fairly quickly. I got to say I was there on holiday (vacation), which made me sound more like a local. We hopped on the London Express for 16 pounds and was in the city center within 15 minutes.

Our hotel is pretty nice! There is a big picture of the Queen above the check-in desk and I can't help but wonder why her eyes are shut in the photo. After an 8 hour flight, we wanted to clean up for our first real day abroad. The shower here has a half glass shower door (weird). It was hard to shower without the water going out of the shower area. We also couldn't figure out how to get the main shower head to turn on, so we had to use the hand shower head. As the tallest member of this traveling trio, it made it really difficult to shower! After we got cleaned up, we headed out on foot to explore the city.

We walked around the Food Hall and then hit Oxford Street to do some shopping. I bought a blazer and skirt at Uni Qlo, both of which were on sale! It's hard to restrain yourself because there the amount of shops is unreal. I didn't expect to see so many Gap, XXI, and H&M stores within 2 city blocks. They are everywhere.

After shopping, we took the Tube to Afternoon Tea at The Royal Horseguard. It was one of the most luxurious experiences I've ever had. We sat there for about 2 hours and ate mini sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, and pastries. We also got to pick our own pot of tea (I chose the royal earl grey). The food was so simple and delicious. Maybe what made it so appealing was the fact that it was served on pink and gold china.

From there, we attended choral evensong services at Wetsminster Abbey. Yes, THE Westminster Abbey where William and Kate were married. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take photographs inside the church. I tried to soak up as much as I could to remember the moment. The ceilings were high and grand. It was a rather spiritual experience and I am honored that I was able to attend the service.

The Abbey is right by Big Ben and the London Eye. It was freezing and windy, so we took a few quick pics and headed back towards our hotel via the Tube. 

We made one last pit stop at the Food Hall for a beer free beer tasting. Ashlee attracted a gentleman (not!) who was quite fond of her. After swooping her away from the old, creepy drunk man, we got to the free beer (amen). As my friend Sarah recommended,we chatted it up with some of the locals.

All in all, it was a fantastic first day!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Europe - Travel Day

April 20, 2013

It's here. The moment I've been thinking about for 27 years is here. I'm about to earn my international wings! After the longest work day of my entire life (not really), we hopped into a cab and headed to O'Hare. 

Carrie has United silver status which proved to have many perks. We got to cut the line at the airport to check in and for security. To make it even better, we got access to the United Club! We weren't sure if Ashlee would get in because her ticket wasn't bought with Carrie's premiere status, but they let us all in. What a VIP moment (baller!). The room was huge and offered great people watching. There were people of all ages and walks of life. Food? Oh yes. There was free trail mix, cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, cheese/crackers, tea, coffee and beer/wine. All free! I really wanted a glass of red wine, but I was afraid it would make me sick since I was already a little nervous about flying over a huge ocean. I skipped the wine and grabbed a few packs of Milano cookies and 2 bags of tea for the flight.


I've been on my fair share of flights, but never international. I took my first step on the plane and was pleasantly surprised to find they play classical music while you board. How delightful. Carrie and I sat in a 2 seat section and Ashlee was just a few rows behind us. Carrie thinks the plane is a little old because the tv screens are small. It doesn't matter to me because I think it's pretty cool that the tv tracks your flight journey.  So far I've heard several accents: Australian and British.

I just discovered that my neck pillow is too small...child size. Crap. 

** TAKEOFF! ** 

Dinner on the flight was just okay. Bland pasta with the smallest meatballs I've ever seen. The salad was actually pretty tasty. I ate the whole salad, had a few bites of pasta and an entire roll with melted butter ( because the tray was so hot). Through dinner I watched Silver Linings Playbook. I just saw it a few weeks ago, but it was nice to watch it again.

After the movie, I put on my eye,ask and tried to get some shut eye. I managed to sleep for a few hours, but woke up freezing. The airplane is quite chilly. I tried to fall back asleep, but no matter what way I moved, I was still uncomfortable and cold. My bum started to hurt. Toss-turn. Toss-t Finally I said, screw it...I'm up. I asked the flight attendant for a cup of hot water so I could make a tea. I played a few games on the iPad and watched half an episode of It's Always Sunny.

By now, the sun is starting to come out and people are waking up. The map on my tv screen says we have 1 hour and 8 minutes left in our 'journey'. The flight attendants all say 'cheers'. It makes me feel very international.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Summer 2013, where are you?

Chicago in the winter is just plain crappy. That's why I spend all winter planning a kick-ass summer. So far, this is what I have planned: 

This might be work related, but I look forward to it all year! I still can't believe I have 'concert planner' on my resume. #amazing

Fact: Boyz II Men was my very first cd. I'm going to 'The Package" with a few co-workers in July.  Unfortunately, they changed the date of the show so I had to turn down tickets to Pearl Jam at Wrigley. Sad day. 

I scored tickets to the Gentlemen of the Road Tour featuring MUMFORD AND SONS over Labor Day weekend. I can't even begin to describe how excited I am to see them for a second year in a row.  Troy, Ohio - here I come! ROAD TRIP! 

In October ( I know, not summer - but whatev), the hubster and I are traveling to Charleston, South Carolina for a  wedding.  I've never been to SC, so it will be a great trip. 

Planning for Summer 2013 just started, but it's already shaping up to be pretty amazing. What do you have planned? 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pure Joy

Beautiful things are on the horizon and I can't wait to explore what life has to offer.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Ari Moment

Last week I was told I was playing hardball. Maybe it's because I tapped into my inner Ari Gold. I didn't know I had it in me, but it felt damn good.

Be brave. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

A little dream

If you could choose a new career path, what would you choose? For me, it's easy. I would open up a business and work for myself. 

There's something to be said about owning your own business. My dad owned his own company for over 25 years and I grew up in that world. I would love to build something from the ground up and pave a culture that I envision. 

There's a vacant corner shop open on Armitage Avenue right near the brown line. Every time I walk past it, I see my little dream. There's 2 sets of floor to ceiling windows that can open up during the gorgeous Chicago summer. The natural sunlight would pour into the shop and glisten on the hardwood floors. I see local students sitting at the window bar typing on a laptop and domed cake stands displaying my sweet treats. 

Have you guessed yet? I would own a bakery called One More Bite. My top selling item just might be slices of my chocolate eclair cake. Cupcakes have had their day in the spotlight and it's time to bring back cake slices and pastry items. Oh, and I would have tea time, because it's the little things that matter. 

I also love watching people in the kitchen. In fact, I prefer to sit at the back table bar at Floriole so I can watch everyone in the kitchen measure, stir/sift/chop/dice/you-name-it and create incredible food. I attended cooking demonstrations by Richard Blais and Amanda Freitag at the Cultivate Festival this past summer. Simply said, I love the joy of being in the kitchen and dream of a little bakery called One More Bite.