31 Jan 2014

Here's some exciting news...

I was nominated for the Leibster Award! 

The Leibster Award is given by new bloggers to other new bloggers, and it is a fun way to discover new blogs and boost a blogger's reputation if he/she has under 200 followers. Alexandra, the author of A Yank in Blighty, was sweet enough to nominate me. 

They like me, they really like me!

Without sounding too lame, I would like to thank all of you who find this blog mildly interesting and follow along. It started out as a weekly travel diary, and since it has evolved into something more. So, thank you, thank you very much!

The Rules:
1. Mention the person who nominated you with a link in to their blog
2. Answer the 11 questions provided by the person who nominated you
3. Nominate other bloggers with less than 200 followers
4. Create a new set of 11 questions for your nominees to answer

1. What day do you post on your blog the most? Do you have a set schedule? On Monday mornings I post a Weekly Update so that followers can read about the happenings of Team Starnes. I also randomly post throughout the week highlighting popular London establishments such as museums, landmarks, boroughs and restaurants. Recently, I've been posting about 3-4 times a week.

2. What do you love about blogging? I love being able to looking back on what we've done and what we've accomplished in London. When this year is over, we want to get the content of this blog published and create a coffee table book for ourselves!

3. If you can have any blog out there, whose blog would you want to have? This is still TBD. I don't follow any one blog religiously, (with the exception of my friends' blogs) and I try not to covet others' blogs; everyone's different, everyone will have something different to blog about. I like many different blogs for many different reasons. One might be a badass lifestyle blog, another might be a blog with great fashion advice, or travel experience... It really depends. I am just trying to evolve my own blog and focus on making it the best that it can be.

4. What color clothing do you wear the most? Why? I live in London. Black. Is that even a question?

5. What do you hate about blogging? I think we bloggers can agree that there are certains parts of the 'job' that we enjoy less than others.  Let me know if you agree with my list...
#1: I personally get very caught up in the design of my blog; I want it to look a specific way--I want to be proud of it! There is a lot of HTML code that goes into designing a blog and I have spent hours figuring it out. I did not use an external design template, so what you see is what I have created all by myself!
#2: Resizing and editing EVERY SINGLE PICTURE is definitely very time consuming. 
#3: It's stressful to be on a schedule (if you choose to be). I know I don't have to be on a schedule, but my goal is to upload weekly posts and I want to hold myself to it. 
#4: I am new to blogging (and writing in general), so I stress a lot about my grammar and not making a fool out of myself. I sometimes struggle at putting my thoughts into words, but it's getting easier with practice!

6. Which Social Media App do you use the most? I use Instagram almost daily. It's definitely my go-to. I still use Facebook, but not as much for social media purposes, but to promote my blog posts to family and friends that don't have Instagram. And Twitter, well I just started using Twitter.

7. What can you not leave home without? My fedora. Definitely. Or at least one of my many fedoras. I love hats! They are like a security blanket for me. Oh! And red lipstick is a MUST!

8. Describe yourself in one word. Dynamic. (James is laughing at this one!) I love using that in interviews, but it's so true! I'm constantly evolving and changing. A life in motion, stays in motion!

9. What was/would be your first dance wedding song? J and I danced to "Your Song" by Elton John. It's always been "our" song so it was very special to us.

10. Tell me something funny that happened to you. This one time, at band camp... I don't know, I will have to get back to you on that one! 

11. What is the main reason you started a blog? (Being Heard, Being Seen, Popularity, Hobby, For Friends...) The reason I started this blog was to keep in touch with our family and friends back in the States. I am not working, so I have the time to devote to exploring London and developing interesting (hopefully) content. With that being said, the blog has started to evolve and I am adding and incorporating different series' into the blog to give it some new mojo. Not only do I have my weekly recapsI also have EAT&DRINK, the SEE Collection, WALKABOUT and I am excited to announce that in a couple weeks I am going live with a new series called ADJUSTING, where I will light-heartedly discuss the cultural differences between American and British culture.

WHEW! Well I hope you enjoyed getting to know TSTL a little bit better! Check back frequently for more updates from Team Starnes! xoxo

I nominate:

Here are my questions:
1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What do you love about blogging? 
3. If you could move anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?
4. What is your earliest memory?
5. What do you hate about blogging? 
6. What website do you spend the most time on?
7. What can you not leave home without? 
8. Describe yourself in one word. 
9. What was/would be your first dance wedding song? 
10. Tell me something funny that happened to you. 
11. What is the best piece of advice you've been given/found?

Alright baby bloggers, Enjoy! xx


29 Jan 2014

I am really kicking myself in the ass for, ONE, not buying a real camera before we came to London (come on girl, you're moving to another country, an iPhone might not be sufficient), and TWO, not buying a real camera while we were back in the States for Christmas. What were you thinking? (USD, helloooooo???) It was the perfect opportunity for me to get something reasonable with all the holiday sales going on... It just burns me up inside. YOU GO GIRL!

I am still learning how to be domestic. I bought a few extra pots and pans when we got back from the States with high hopes of being a domestic goddess. They are still unused and with the packaging on. YOU GO GIRL!

In another attempt to be a domestic goddess, I decided to freshen up our white sheets with a little bit of bleach. I wasn't able to locate any laundry detergent with bleach, so I ended up buying the standard (off name-brand) liquid bleach that you would find in any home improvement store. I apparently put in wayyy too much bleach, and when I got back from the grocery store, the entire flat smelled like a community pool. I basically got green hair just by walking into our kitchen. YOU GO GIRL!

How is your week going? xx


28 Jan 2014

I'm not all that great with food porn.

I am a hungry girl that is all too consumed with her need/desire for carbs. There is rarely a second in between my plate being placed down in front of me and me digging in. Not only am I always starving, I am typically "hangry". Definition: angry due to hunger.

I was especially lacking in self-control while on a date at Kipferl simply because the food was just that damn good! 

I apologize for the shotty and half eaten pictures ahead of time. In fact, you should probably expect shitty food porn from this blog at all times.


Kipferl is located on one of the most adorable side-streets in Islington called Camden Passage. Camden Passage has great furniture & clothing boutiques, coffee shops and vintage finds. It's so quaint; it literally has something for everyone.

I am smitten with Kipferl for a few reasons--
First, it's local. Second, it is a coffee house by-day and restaurant by-night.  Third, in the world of restaurants, culturally, it's different!

James and I are not picky eaters, and we enjoy trying different foods. We are hoping to visit either Switzerland or Austria for a ski weekend, so we might as well get acclimated with the food ahead of time! I was excited to get a good review of Kipferl from a local friend, so I went in with high hopes.

I found the Kipferl menu to be on the modest side which was a relief to me. No need to overwhelm your customers with choices-- no one can pronounce the authentic Austrian names anyways!

James and I ordered a couple of Austrian beers and a couple of starters. Unfortunately, the starters didn't make the photo sess. (Revert to that lack of self-control I mentioned earlier.)

We got the Grilled Goat Cheese on Red Lentil Salad and the Mixed Salad. Goat cheese is my JAM! I love it in any way, shape or form. Seriously, I could eat it every day. This appetizer was no exception. I wanted to get territorial about it, hoard it, but then decided to share since James just got back from a work trip. 

I had better be nice. 

The Mixed Salad was very refreshing. It was a combination of carrots salad, potato salad and regular salad? Not sure if I got that 100% right, but I would recommend it if you're looking for something lighter.
We didn't have to wait too long for our main dishes. Like I told you, mama's hungry. James ordered the Panfried Veal in a Mushroom and White Wine Sauce, and I ordered the Schweinsmedaillons, which is pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon with paprika cabbage and seasonal vegetables. 

James loved his dish. I think he got it specifically for the mushrooms. I don't like mushrooms, so he never gets to eat them. Though he was thoroughly pleased with his meal, it wasn't the most photogenic plate, so we didn't snap a shot of it.

My pork dish was very delicious and visually appealing! Bacon wrapped pork, I mean, helloooo?! I will order this again before venturing onto something else on the menu. It was thattt good!
Other traditional plates on the menu were Kasespatzle and Wiener schnitzel. Obviously there is more, but you can check out their menu for yourself!
We settled our bellies with another beer for James and some sparking for moi. 

Once again, I am sorry for featuring the remains of what used to be a beautiful plate. This desert (Kaiserschmarren- thick, shredded pancake with raisins and morello cherriespassed by earlier in the night and I knew that I needed it. It looked like funnel cake, and I LOVE funnel cake! So I convinced James that I needed it and we made a little extra room for something sweet.
After feeling very satisfied with our first Austrian restaurant experience, I can tell you that I will seek out other Austrian restaurants.

Though I can not speak to the Kipferl coffee house, I am sure it is a lovely experience. I will definitely stop by soon!

For more information about Kipferl check out their website at:


27 Jan 2014

Let me preface this post by saying--

James was more available this week!

Since returning from our Christmas holiday in the States, work has been non-stop for James.  But, on Monday, he completed a major milestone and so I was able to see him at home between 6:30-7:30ish the majority of the week.

Okay. (Straight-face.) Back to business.

I took a walkabout around Shoreditch on Tuesday.

The weather was really nice; bright blue skies, sun was shining. Since having lunch there the other week, I was excited to check out this cool new area just around the corner from us.

I decided this would be the opportune time to break in my new Madewell booties that I picked up in the States as a Christmas present for myself.
Shoreditch is such a cool area... and so close to Islington!  I can't wait to take James.
Here are a few teaser pics from the walkabout!
Even though the sun was out and shining, it was still a bit chilly. Maybe I should have bundled up a bit more because the next day I got a cold. Great.

The next two days were a bust. I don't handle colds very well. In fact, I'm quite pathetic and worthless. I felt very similar to when I got sick before our Christmas holiday... I wonder if it just went dormant?... Hummmmmm.
Because when you're just too lazy to keep going downstairs for drinks and the decision between coffee and tea is too exhausting, you just bring it all back to bed.
Due to that pesky cold, I am now behind on posting my recent happenings... Hopefully I will catch you up later this week!

On Friday, though, I finally pulled it together. This happened in part due to a stern command from my husband, and a strong combination of Mucinex and coffee. James was available and wanting to do something (a rare combination)... so I couldn't miss the opportunity. I got serious with the Mucinex and coffee and plugged away at the computer for a while.

James called to tell me that he would be able to leave at 5:00 PM-- FIVE O'CLOCK PEOPLE! I'm not sure that has EVER happened in our almost seven years together.

I've been waiting to try this steak and chips restaurant ever since I read about it on a fellow Londoner's blog. They don't do reservations, so we were anticipating a long wait. I made James bring home a bag of chips (or crisps for you Londoners) for a snack, and I also smuggled them in my clutch just in case.

We ate at Flat Iron in Soho. It was an A-MAZ-ING experience...

One which I will go into further detail at a later date.
James and I slept-in Saturday morning. We leisurely drank our coffee, got dressed, and had a quick lunch at Pizza Express before heading to the Natural History Museum.

I was really excited to go to the NHM because I wanted to see the dinosaurs! This was James' first available Saturday since Thanksgiving (no exaggeration), so I wanted it to be something worthwhile. I sold him on the idea, and we were both excited.

This would be our first London weekend museum experience.
This was, quite possibly, my last London weekend museum experience.

The museum was WAYYYYYY crowded. Completely unlike my other two peaceful, mid-week trips.
I had TOTALLYYYY misjudged the audience of this museum. It was basically a child's museum.
And I didn't realize (or have any reason to suspect) that you had to queue for the dinosaur exhibit. Needless to say, we didn't see the dino's that we were so excited about. Sad face.

I will go into more detail about our NHM experience at a later date, but here are a few pictures to document that James really did make it out!

After all that walking, we needed to rest, so we headed home to relax and have some Team Starnes time.  

And so, in true Team Starnes fashion, we let someone else do the cooking (Lebanese-- Yum!) and we made a pallet on the living room floor.

And Sunday, well, we are still just hangin' out on our pallet, watching TV and catching up on work... and other non-income-producing hobbies.   ;-)


25 Jan 2014

For me, every restaurant in London is a new restaurant. 

It is so exciting to learn of "new" restaurants in London that I need to try, or even better, places that I have tried and want to take my husband back to!

Pizza East definitely falls under the latter.

I am starting a new series of blog posts where I will highlight notable restaurants and pubs in surrounding areas of London. If you have any suggestions of restaurants that I need to try, please leave a comment or reach out to me via email or twitter! xx
I had a ladies lunch at Pizza East in Shoreditch a couple weeks ago, and I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn't just your run of the mill pizza joint. This place had character.

When you walk into the Pizza East, you're immediately taken aback by the openness of the restaurant. It is a huge, airy, obviously-converted old warehouse, and you feel a lightness come over you, like you can just now finally breathe. Deep, I know!  Some restaurants can be so stuffy, sometimes you just need a little bit of space!
Pizza East is definitely pulling off that industrial, rustic, farmhouse-chic feel. Between the exposed brick and metal air ducts, the inviting farmhouse tables, the down-home country napkins and the playful, sparkly lighting, you're definitely getting an eclectic experience.
We had a 1:00PM lunch date, so we had the entire back-half of the restaurant to ourselves.  It was lovely to be able to chat and goof-off without anyone sneering in our direction. 
At first, I was a little put off by how the wine was served, (in little tumbler glasses), but after round two, who cares! I will say, it totally grew on me! I love how unpretentious it is. I mean, you gotta drink it out of something, (the bottle?) and I think it goes perfectly with the rustic feel.
Tapas style food is my favorite type of food because I like to try a little bit of everything. Even though this isn't necessarily a tapas restaurant, we treated it as such and shared everything. THOSE ARE MY KINDA GIRLS!

We ordered the Soppressata, Burrata, Tomato & Olives pizza, the Buffalo Mozzarella, Tomato & Basil pizza and just as a shout out to the Good Ole' US-of-A, the Mac ‘n’ Cheese.

Everything was delicious, and no, we did not need a takeaway box.
As we were leaving I got these shots of these two cozy nooks. I love the contrast between the whimsical chandelier lighting and the wood stacks.

I would like to sit back there next time I go with Mr. J! 
For more information about Pizza East check out their website at:


23 Jan 2014

The Victoria & Albert Museum is one of the largest museums in the world. It holds 4.5 million permanent objects of decorative art and design. Thanks, Wikipedia! 

The museum is located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in a heavy museum-populated area, so it is really easy to find. Other museums that are in the area are the Natural History Museum, Royal Albert Hall, and Science Museum.
It's a really nice area in general so I would suggest going on a nice day, start early (the museum is going to take a while to walk through) and then go out and explore the area.

I like to give myself plenty of time at these museums. I have yet to go with a friend because I like to walk at my own pace and I enjoy the peacefulness of being in my head for a while!
I am very methodical when walking these museums. I refuse to leave before I walk into/through every, single room. I want to make sure that I don't miss anything. I use a map and put an 'X' on every room I enter and then I KNOW that I am finished with that level and can move on to the next.
The V&A has seven different levels; six of which I completely walked (the fifth level is board rooms and such). The museum is split up into five sections: Exhibitions, Asia, Materials & Techniques (Ceramics, Fashion, Ironwork, Jewellery, Silver, Paintings, etc...), Europe and Modern (20th Century). 

I was not as interested in the Ceramics, Glass, Ironwork. I think I sped through the sixth floor, which was all ceramics and furniture. I really enjoyed the seeing fashion and clothes through the ages, sculptures, paintings and jewelry the most.

One thing I found unique, yet did not partake in, were the interactive/hands-on exhibits. There were tons of these stations where you could try on clothes, draw, research online, etc. There were a lot of students and organized groups going through the museum; it makes learning much more enjoyable!
I watched THIS VIDEO! to get an idea of what I needed to keep a look out for. I didn't want to skim over a famous piece of art in the museum since they don't advertise that such pieces are more special than others.
Even though I tried my best, I probably only saw/took pictures of half of the pieces listed on that video. There is just so much to look at, it's nearly impossible to see it all in one trip. 

This is random, but I was surprised at the extent of the large collection of religious artifacts this museum had. Maybe it's my fault for not doing research before hand, religious artifacts aren't really my thing, but my mom would love it. 
Something that is "special" or famous to someone else might not catch your eye or inspire you in the same way. That's why I just take pictures of things that move me in some way, shape or form. 

To each their own!
I read somewhere that travelers or sightseers should insert themselves in their pictures, otherwise you can just find the same picture online. So that's what I'm doing! #selfiecentral

For more pictures of the V&A Museum, CLICK HERE!
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