25 Nov 2013

The weather has been pretty chilly these past couple weeks so it's no wonder I had a slow start to my week; warm baths and down comforters are kinda my thing-- so sue me!

Thursday afternoon, I headed out for some sightseeing around Trafalgar Square and Westminster Abbey. It is such a beautiful area, I would definitely recommend exploring this area if you come to visit! 

James and I stayed in Friday night and cooked dinner and relaxed. YUMMMM Indian food!

Saturday morning, we headed out to run some errands and grab some lunch on Oxford Street and then Saturday night we met up with some friends at Winter Wonderland for some fun at the Bavarian Village.

Winter Wonderland :: Bavarian Village
disturbing/disgusting condiment udders ::  grumpy security guard
heyy ladiessss


22 Nov 2013

Here is a bit of my lyrical genius for your entertainment this Friday night.



Beautiful buildings,
Beautiful sights,
Silly blue roosters,
And bumps in the night. 
Tons of museums, 
and churches and steeples,
Home of Big Ben, 
and of course the Beatles!

If you’re missing my face,
Know that I miss you too,

Keep reading the blog,
And we’ll see you soon!


18 Nov 2013

I am super pumped to finally share that we are coming back to the States for the holidays! Initially, we planned on spending Christmas in Europe, but our world got turned upside-down when my genius brother-in-law scored six tickets to the Billy Joel NYE Concert in Brooklyn. Sisters + Billy Joel + Hubbys= ULTIMATE NYE EVER. I can't describe how excited I am! Our schedule is pretty full, but we want to make sure to see everyone that we can while we are home.

Here is our schedule:

Charlotte: Sunday, Dec. 22-24
Winston Salem/ Raleigh: Dec. 25-29
NYC: Dec. 29- Jan. 1
Raleigh/Winston Salem: Jan. 1-2
Charlotte: Fly out Friday, Jan. 3

We have a lot of coordinating to do, but I can't wait to see everyone in a months time! We have some catching up to do!

team starnes


Week 7 is definitely in the running for one the best weeks so far. I did a decent amount of sightseeing by myself during the week and even more with James over the weekend, so get ready for LOTSS of pictures!

After feeling a bit homesick last week, I knew that I definitely wanted to start reaching out and creating a network for James and myself. I reached out to a friend-of-a-friend who, a year ago had gone through a similar transition to James and I (lived in Charlotte, moved to London). Monday was pretty standard, nothing blogworthy going on there, but I was pleasantly surprised that I woke up to a response email from my new, potential friend asking if I wanted to get together on Tuesday. We exchanged a few emails and confirmed a time and date. SUCCESS!

Kristen and I planned on meeting up at a pub in Chelsea so I headed out a bit early to do some walking around on my own. It's such a nice area. There is a ton of shopping and restaurants and some seriously prime real estate. Chelsea is one of the nicest areas in London. It would be a dream to live in this area, but it is exclusive to London's most wealthy.
ootd :: sloan square :: st. luke's church
Kristen and I met up around 5 at a pub called 'Trafalgar'. The pub was super quaint and comfortable; I didn't take any pictures but here are a couple from the website.
Obviously, I was super nervous. I haven't been on a first date in a long time so I tried to play it as cool as possible. It was really nice to chit-chat with someone who understood what I was going through and she made me feel so much better about basically reaching out to a perfect stranger for support! 

At the end of the night, Kristen said she had a surprise for me. As we were walking back to the tube, we veered off the path and headed into a store called 'Partridges'. For those of you non-Londoner's, Partridges is an import store with a Dean and Deluca feel and it has American food! I'm talking JIF Peanut Butter, Rotel, Fruit Roll-Ups, Kraft Mac-n-Cheese and so much more! It's seriously expensive, but I will definitely be hitting it up if James and I are desperate for an American treat. What a nice surprise!

Wednesday was low-key. James worked in London and then headed up to Aberdeen for a work event. I hung out around the flat and cooked some Buffalo Chicken Meatballs, which turned out pretty good. (I actually made them again on Sunday, so I think that says something!) Successful meal, check! First night sleeping solo in London, check!
As I mentioned in last week's blog, I was planning to check out a woman's club on Thursday. The more and more information I gathered, I had serious doubts that this club would be a good fit for me. 

Here are a few red flags:
#1 They meet at 9:30 AM during the week. (People my age should be working at this time.) 
#2 It's a bit pricey to join. (I have no money.)
#3 Their guest speaker is from a clerk from Parliament (ZZZZZzzzZZZZzz) 

I was skeptical, but being the adventurous woman that I am, I decided to see for myself! As I rounded the corner of Kensington High Street, I immediately knew that my gut was right; lots of gray hair, lots of older women, all headed in the same direction.  I entered the hotel lobby unsure and assessing the situation. I must have looked confused because a very nice lady came over to me and asked me if I was here for the woman's club and proceed to lead me to the sign-up table. SHIT!!! Slightly panicked, I paid the entrance fee and was ushered into a room with tables set up for Bridge, Knitting, Empty Nesters, Bible Study, Walking, etc... To make a long story short, I snuck out a side door and found a service elevator to get me back down to the lobby and never looked back. The ladies were all so nice, but there is no way I could have sat through an entire hour of "What goes on in Parliament". It just wasn't my scene, No harm, no foul!

Since I was already out and about, I decided to take the time and do some sightseeing. I hopped on a bus and took it north until it terminated and then hopped on another bus and rode it until it terminated. I ended up in the middle of Oxford Street at rush hour and had to pack in like sardines with everyone on the tube. Overall, even though the woman's club didn't pan out, I made the most of the day and saw some amazing things.
I woke up Friday feeling rested and decided to tackled the flat that I had let go while James was away. It took 5 hours and but I completely deep cleaned everything; mopped, vacuumed, washed everything, in every room. The place looked and smelt great. I've always struggled with keeping my room/apartment clean but I always feel so good about myself after its done. I try to do a proper clean at least once a week; plus it's not a huge space, so it's doable!

Friday night was also low-key. A 'Five Guys' opened in our neighborhood this week, so James brought home burgers and fries. We love Five Guys so this was super special to us. We just lounged around and watched TV and relaxed.

Saturday morning, James and I were up and out by 10:30. We headed to a local bakery for some coffee and breakfast before heading out for some sightseeing.  James and I were riminiscing about the past year and we realized that Nov. 16th was the day before we got engaged last year. It's amazing how much has changed in a year and we were just shocked at how everything has fallen into place for us. If everything in our lives hadn't happened the way/when it happened, there is no way that we would be in london right now. It still amazes me.
After breakfast, James and I hopped on the #11 bus at Liverpool Bus Station and rode it all the way until it terminated at Fulham Broadway. For those of you who plan on coming over to visit, I would recommend taking this bus as a cheaper option to the London Bus Tours. This bus took us through many of London's historical landmarks like Big Ben, Westminster, St. Paul's, Trafalgar Square and many more. It was fun to be tourists and see this amazing city that we live in.
Once James and I finally got home from our sight seeing adventure, it was a quick snack and then time to get ready for dinner. My new London friend, Kristen, had invited James and I to join her and her boyfriend and another couple for dinner so of course I said yes.  We met them at an organic restaurant called 'The Duke of Cambridge' in Islington and had a wonderful time. The boys all got along and it was nice to have some girl talk at the other side of the table. After dinner, we headed out for drinks at the Slug and Lettuce where Kristen introduced us to 3 other friends who were equally as nice. It was a perfect night, minus an encounter that I had with a huge spider*. It was exactly what I have been craving and I hope that there are many more night like that to come! No pictures from this night. I was too busy having a great time! 

DISCLAIMER! You might have nightmares after hearing what happened to me.

*Apparently a huge spider was making my black skinny jeans his home. I saw the spider on my foot after getting the first pant over my ankle. I freaked out and James had to rip my pants off. I COULDN'T GET MY PANTS OFF! I could only flail. James and I both lost many years off our lives because of this. My body is so sore from trembling so much. I have never been so scared in my ENTIRE LIFE! I THOUGHT YOU PEOPLE TOLD ME THERE WERE NO SPIDERS IN LONDON! Anyways, James eventually found the huge spider and killed it. I'm still very paranoid and jumpy. I HATE YOU DEMON SPIDER!


15 Nov 2013

I stumbled upon this YouTube video last week and even though it's a bit crude, I had to post because it reminds me so much of James and I. Every time I watch it, it just cracks me up!

Enjoy! xo

PS- I don't/didn't know who Stephen Lynch was, so for those of you who do, sorry I'm behind the curve!


11 Nov 2013

you did good sir, you did good.
Thank you to all the soldiers who fight everyday to protect our freedom!

A special Happy Veteran's Day shoutout to my dad; a man who has dedicated his entire life to keeping America safe.

I love you dad! xo


10 Nov 2013

Alright, so I will just go ahead and tell you... This week... I participated... In a FLASHMOB! It was exhilarating and exciting and challenging and I LOVED IT! Granted, it was not some high production FlashMob that you might see on TV or in a movie but it was still pretty well organized and I would definitely be interested in doing another in the future!

I found this opportunity while surfing the web last Sunday night... James and I were watching Homeland and I was scouring 'TimeOut London' for events going on in London and this was the first thing that I clicked on. I have always wanted to be in a FlashMob, it's definitely bucket-list material; I think this goes way back to the good ol' cheerleading days, so I wasn't going to let this chance pass me by.

I signed up for the FlashMob and James immediately recognized that I was acting weird. He looked at me with a questioned look and I knew that he was wondering what I was getting into. I couldn't keep something like this a secret so I just blurted it out, "I JUST SIGNED UP FOR A FLASHMOB AND MY FIRST PRACTICE IS TOMORROW!" James, being the sensible husband that he is, gave me the "yes, dear, that's great dear" answer, while probably thinking to himself, "this beyyyyotch is craaaazzzaaayyyy.."  

My first practice was Monday. I was super nervous so I got all dolled up and I went to Castle to pregame to get some dinner and get in the right mindset to actually go and physically show up and practice for the said FlashMob... 

The training session went well. I definitely had a lot of practice to do before Thursday but I was in good spirits. I was so much fun and all the people there were as awkward as I was so I felt right at home!

I had another practice Wednesday night and then we had an hour practice before the actual FlashMob on Thursday. Nerves and excitement were both high and I was just trying not to give the secret away the whole time that I was heading to the location...
trying to act normal on the tube... trying not to tell a stranger, "i'm going to be in a flashmob today!" 
I am super disappointed that I can't find the video of the actual performance, but I am going to call the dance studio and find out where I can see it so I can post it to the blog. I'm sure it's hilarious...most of the people involved had no dance experience and had no idea what they were doing. (This includes me y'all, I was kinda a mess!) I had a great time and I am proud that I put myself out there to experience this. I want to make sure that I don't let life pass me by while I'm over here just because I am doing most of it own my own.
Our flshmob spot in Covent Garden. This is as much proof that I actually participated in said flashmob.
I'm loving living in London because I literally have the world at my fingertips, but it's hard because I have to get out there and explore and do things by myself the majority of the week. Back in the States, I looooooved going to the mall BY.MY.SELF, eating meals BY.MY.SELF, going to the movies BY.MY.SELF, spending quality time BY.MY.SELF but since I am by myself more than I am with other people, I'm not as comfortable doing everything on my own... I am (regrettably) a bit lonely. I am determined to not let this feeling render me from experiencing London to the fullest and I plan on putting myself out there to take care of my physical, mental and emotional health.

I think the Flashmob was a step in the right direction of me putting myself out there to mingle and make friends because frankly, I need some (in London)! It's been 6 weeks and I need a person, a tangible person. Facetime and Groupme have been saving me and keeping me up-to-date with Charlotte friends, but I need someone in London to vent and let loose with. I am taking my aunt's advice and checking out a woman's club in Chelsea on Nov. 14th and hopefully I will find someone there that I click with. Fingers crossed!

Overall, I think the consensus is that both James and I were a little homesick this past week. We both miss our friends and family back home, and we both really miss Winston. A couple of times this week I was teetering on edge of going to the local dog shelter, but I could never cheat on Winston like that or at least not let him have a say (or butt sniff) in who we brought into our family... I just miss his sweet cuddles in the morning and giving him 10000 hugs a day. I just flat out miss him. Desperately.  I suppress these emotions by surfing Pinterest images of "Mastiffs" and pinning anything that brings a tear to my eye. Sorry if I blow up your Pinterests! I might be an emotional cutter, but hey, it's what gets me through the day.
here a few of the images that reminded me of Winston
James and I's weekend was spent in Islington. We went to the Angelic on Friday and relaxed and caught up and then we went out for Italian on Saturday. I had the most amazing butternut squash risotto. It was insane! I can't remember the name of the restaurant but we will definitely be back so I will let you know next time!

As always, Sunday was lazy; just the way we like it! We grabbed pizza, coffee, and groceries and then headed back to the flat for more down time. ManU was playing Arsenal so we decided to head out to the local pub, 'the Arc' to watch the game... Man, that is the way to watch a proper match! With everyone invested in the game, it's just really exciting to watch! And we won!
wayyyyy more crowded than it looks
This upcoming week James will be heading to Aberdeen for work and I plan on heading out for some more exploring.  We will be spending Thanksgiving with my Aunt's family in Aberdeen in a few weeks and I am thankful for that. It will definitely come at a perfect time for us.

London is ready for the holidays; Christmas lights, trees and decorations are everywhere and the holiday advertisements are out in full force. I am really excited for the holidays, once we figure out what our plans are for sure, I will let you know!
it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas


8 Nov 2013

We are still acquiring different items for the flat. It's been more of a process than I initially thought it would be... I mean, seriously, we just got a microwave last week; who would have thought that two Americans could last without a microwave for 5 weeks, but hey, you adapt!

Along side of my microwave I also got a Crockpot, a mattress topper and a cheapy computer, but right now, I am just going to focus on my friend, the Crockpot. I knew that I had to get a slow cooker while living in London because the weather here just screams out for warm soups, stews, roasts and chili. I don't know if they actually eat "chili" here, but it's definitely a Fall/Winter staple in the Starnes' house, so we'll just throw that in!

When I unpacked the slow cooker, I immediately got a nostalgic feeling and I knew that I wanted to dedicate my first Crockpot meal to our old stomping ground, Good 'ol North Cackalacky! I love Eastern North Carolina Barbecue. I love everything about that hot, tangy, spicy vinegar sauce. I know I am a die-hard North Carolinian because I absolutely hate all other tomato-based barbecues. 

I've struggled to make NC BBQ in the past, so I researched a bunch of recipes and then took what I liked from each of them and overall I think it came out pretty accurate...
I'm typically not a huge fan of my own cooking, but I think it turned out great and I will definitely make this again!

nom nom


7 Nov 2013

I've been looking forward to Thursday all week. Knocking one off the bucket list with a little liquid courage to make sure I don't chicken out... Fill you in later this week! 

xo, A

i've got moves you've never seen


3 Nov 2013

Okay.. I'm just going to be upfront and say that I consider this to be a "lost week." I have really nothing to say about this week except, ISWEARONCEGREYSANATOMYISOVERIWILLBEMOREPRODUCTIVE. (I started watching old Grey’s episodes on Netflix a couple weeks ago and I've just fallen into an abyss; don’t judge me!)

James and I basically stayed in this weekend. Even though it's exactly what we needed, it's just not that glamorous, so, sorry, there are no pictures. I doooooo actually plan on making this week count so stay tuned… :)

On a different note, I can't believe that it's November! Where did the time go?! I am very excited for the upcoming holidays, I think they are going to prove to be some of the best holidays we have seen thus far! So excited!

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