Thursday, February 24, 2011

National Portrait Gallery

Some days I enjoy being lazy. This is the first time I haven't had a job since I was 16. I don't really have friends do to activities with. The only responsibilities I have are to make myself and Eric happy, and make sure everything is going okay back home.

I see myself having two options: go into a slump of sitting at home all day every day and continue to be lazy, or just go out and explore (perhaps occasionally indulging in retail therapy). I choose the latter.

Eric took off on a business trip yesterday and so I took off to the that National Portrait Gallery. You can't take pictures inside, so I got a picture of the outside. It was huge and full of paintings of the landscape from all around Europe, lots of pictures of stories from the Bible, and even more pictures of royalty.

After being to many history museums, I have discovered that if I lived more than 250 years ago, I would like to be royalty. I would have pictures of myself, I would get to bath more often, and I wouldn't be a poor peasant.
The front of the National Portrait Gallery from Trafalgar Square

Last night I made a delicious dinner of roasted zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, and garlic over a bed of brown rice with lemon and cheese. All this was topped with chicken satay (ordered from Busabas down the street) and coconut milk. I am definitely making this again when Eric is not a vegetarian anymore.

Today was sunny, so I put on my flip flops, (got strange looks,) went in the sunshine to read a book, and got waxed - so much better than getting threaded.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Despite the rain, Eric and I went to Greenwich (where the Prime Meridian line is, as in the center of the world, 0° longitude). It was surprisingly lovely. We stumbled upon Greenwich Market, which featured a few absolutely delicious food stands and high quality goods. I had one of the best cupcakes I have ever had from the Real Baking Company. I saw these skirts that I am in love with - they were £45, so I will have to do some saving up, but I will get one and I will blog about it.

We took a thorough walk through the National Maritime Museum, which informs about anything and everything having to do with the ocean: development of boats, sea explorers and migrations from all kinds of places and history, and exploration of the under the surface. Neptune was even there - seriously. Some guy dressed all in aqua with an aqua beard and long aqua colored hair was going around the museum and teaching children about life under and above the sea.
hardcore scuba gear.
Exploratory submarine.
 Behind the Museum, was the Royal Observatory of Greenwich. From the picture, you will note the acres of Greenwich Park surrounding the observatory on the top of the hill. It is always so nice to walk in a park with Eric. He is completely in his element when he is out in nature. He and Annie (my dog) are so much alike. The walk was nice and the observatory was good.
In front of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich
Due North on the Prime Meridian

Eric is in two hemispheres at once.
Royal Observatory - I love the architecture in London.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day or a long post about lovely food

As previously mentioned, I thought the restaurants would be too crowded on Valentine's Day, so I decided to make something delicious. I get e-mails from (which I am pretty sure is put out by Martha Stewart), and there was a recipe for a Pumpkin-Sage Cream Sauce that looked perfect for the special day. I also made some Lemon Roasted Broccoli, cucumber salad, and I tried to make rice pudding. Unfortunately, we did not get any pictures, but this meal tasted so much better than it looked anyway.

Here in London, they don't have the "heavy cream" or "half and half" that we are used to in The States. I wouldn't say "instead of the American creams," but I will just say that here, they have "single cream" and "double cream." These creams, that I am sure are actually good for you (not), seem to be the equivalent of heavy cream and heavy cream+.

Knowing that information, for my pumpkin-sage sauce, I used some single cream; a half can of pumpkin; 6 fresh sage leaves, confettied; and 1/3 cup finely graded Pecorino cheese (which is like a cross between Parmesan and Manchego). Just so you know, I have only once successfully made Alfredo sauce - it takes too long to simmer down, has to be at the exact right temperature, and always turns out watery for me. But this sauce from Monday night, magnifico. The pumpkin does the thickening for you, so all you have to do is add everything to a sauce pot, along with some cracked pepper, and heat it up. When it's heated, add a dollop of butter, stir, and serve over some nice linguine.

Mmm Mmmm. In the words of Eric, "This broccoli is like candy." Yeah, except there was no sugar added. Broccoli florets,  thinly sliced garlic, walnut oil, olive oil, sea salt, pepper - roast at 425°F for ~20 minutes, stirring after 8 minutes, adding sliced almonds in the last 3. Take it out. Put it all in a serving bowl. Squirt with lemon juice. Top with cheese (I used the pecorino). Yet another party in my mouth.

Eric brought home "tulips. Because you have two lips that I like to kiss." I also scored several kinds of chocolate. Love him!

Thanks for the Kisses mom. Obviously, they were delicious - that's all we have left.
Last night we went to a restaurant called Tom's Kitchen at Somerset House (Check out that link...fancy). It is located right on the river, and we sat in a big fancy booth and ordered too much good food that we get to have for leftovers today. Also today, I also get to walk off all that good food we had last night that was drenched in cheese and butter.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Harry Potter Walk

 Friday night I had the opportunity to go on a guided walk around London and got to see some of the places that Harry Potter was filmed. I was kind of bummed that it was at night because none of my pictures turned out except this one that was very well lit. 

 Platform 9 3/4 was originally filmed between Platforms 3 and 4 at King's Cross station. The sign had been kept in that spot, but since it was actually near a platform with people constantly walking by and crowds of people gathering to see it, the station found it prudent to move it. Unfortunately, there is also tons of construction going on, so the sign wasn't even on a real brick wall. Still a nice picture.

We also saw the place where the Death Eaters went though the streets of London (near Trafalgar Square), the alley that Diagon Alley was based off of, the visitor's entrance to the Ministry of Magic, and two locations that were used for the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron (one near Borough Market and the other was a strange phone store or something). My favorite part was the boat ride we took on the River Thames right under the Millennium  Bridge (which was destroyed by the death eaters in HP 6). Like I said before, it was dark so I didn't get many pictures, but as I go by these locations again, I will take more pictures.

In other news, I think I am finally getting comfortable here in London. I know my way around pretty well with the tube, the buses, and on foot. I've found that I like the grocery store called Waitrose, and all the others are more expensive and/or worse quality. I found my favorite fruit and veggie stand on Twyford Place. It's about a 40 minute walk, but it's near good shopping in Covent Garden and Leicester Square.

Eric and I moved up to the top floor in our apartment building. We have a bigger bedroom and a really nice balcony in the back that catches the morning sun - that is when it is sunny. Today is laundry day again and it still takes 2 1/2 hours to WASH one load.

Yesterday, we celebrated Valentine's Day at home, and tonight we are going out to celebrate. Eric booked us reservations somewhere romantic. I told him that we would celebrate V Day on the 15th since the flowers and chocolates would be cheaper, and the restaurants less crowded. Pictures to come.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Things I like: London - Episode 1. Also Something Sick!

There are plenty of things to complain about here in London: I miss my dog, it's mostly cloudy every day, the people don't really speak English here (or is it the other way around?), I've been constantly sick since I got here (see picture below for latest sickness), I miss my friends, I miss open space and my dog.
Awww. How do I not miss that?

But who I am to complain - I have a 4 month, accommodations paid, holiday in London. As I am bound to have some days where I go about doing nothing that is worth blogging about, I will be starting a segment I choose to call "Things I like: London."

Thing I like #1 - Honeycomb candies from Burnt Sugar
I have talked about these before - the Burnt Sugar candy from Borough Market. These babies are delicious candy honeycomb covered in chocolate. I've gone back quite a few times just for these. Luckily the candy from the Burnt Sugar stand is priced by weight and their heavy fudge is not good. The honeycomb candies are sweet airy pieces of heaven that snap off when you bite into them like a two month old Peep (right, Deb?). Since they are so light, it doesn't cost a lot for a delicious piece of chocolaty heaven in your mouth.

I believe the smaller ones are better because they have more chocolate on them.
Borough Market is open tomorrow, actually...

Here is the canker sore picture I promised:
I made this small just in case you didn't want to see - click to make it bigger. Sick, right?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Happy Tuesday

Today was a very nice day. This morning, after sleeping in, had some delicious honey yogurt for breakfast, and I did a fantastic ab workout. This was followed by watching Glee and then eating a small but nutritious lunch before grabbing a book and heading out to the River Thames to catch some serious rays.

On my way there, I stopped by Ben's Cookies and got a dark chocolate ginger cookie - aka Party in my Mouth*. I picked up some sparkling lemonade at Boots, and went to find a nice area to sit. I found a place just east of the London Bridge with some chairs, benches and even a spot of grass. Being able to read in a nice area flooded by the sun kind of makes up for all the gloomy days. Perhaps I will go back there again soon, she said as she hoped and prayed for more sunny days to come this week.

*Note: I often find myself grabbing a cookie, doughnut or crossant and really don't feel any guilt. Why you ask? Today I walked 3 miles, yesterday I walked 6 or so. A very light and lazy day is walking only about mile to the grocery store. Hello skinny jeans!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tate Modern

Eric and I went to the Tate Modern Museum today followed by a quick shop through Borough Market. There a few unique pieces there that I did not fully appreciate, but these are some of the displays I felt were worth noting.
Monet's "Water Lilies". Eric knew what this was called before even looking at the cheat sheet.
This is too good - Whoever can come up with the best caption for this one wins!
All this stuff is actually not what it appears to be. That's not a VHS, it's made of something completely different. No, those cookies are not edible. And no, those boots are not flexible and you cannot wear them. There was a whole room like this.
Eric looks good, but what are those things behind him?
Oh, it's 100 MILLION hand painted porcelain sunflower seeds - we wondered where the artist stored these before this exhibit was brought to the museum.
Someone stuck a mirror on a canvas and called it art...we made our own art.
Eric said I was the most beautiful piece of art there...Awwwwww! This is his modern art photo.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Band of Horses Show

Luckily Band of Horses was playing in London while we were here. The band was great. I really liked their music to begin with, but at the show they totally rocked out all their songs and were crazy. But not as crazy as the girl jumping next to me. It would have been awkward to take video of her, but she was totally jumping up and down and doing funky interpretive dance moves the whole night. I just had to laugh though. I found out that she and her husband had traveled here from Estonia and BOH is her favorite band, ever!
Each song had a different photo or quick slide show of awesome photography.
Most of the photography was from US National Parks or other amazing scenery.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

St. James's Park

St. James's Park was absolutely beautiful. It is great for a few reasons. 1) For the same reason all parks in London are lovely: year round greenery, 2) It is surrounded by the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, 3) Many ceremonial parades and royal activities happen here. 

Palace through the Park
Buckingham Palace
Me in front of the Palace
Royal Guard. I felt really bad for the horse - he didn't want to stand there. Note the sign.
Apparently the bird keeper of the park. My friend Amy and I walked up and this guy was feeding fish to the Pelicans. That's the Bird keeper's house built in the early 1800's.
My friend the Pelican standing next to the pond.
We also walked past Big Ben, Westminster Abby, and lots of other things that I wasn't sure what they were. Mostly I didn't know what they were because I went through another wormhole. I really need a compass. I just mapped it out, and I walked about 10 miles yesterday. Needless to say, my leg hurts today.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Camden Market

This weekend was one of those cold weekends that we've heard people talk about when referring to the weather in London. After walking around Camden Market for about an hour, I couldn't feel my toes anymore. It may be for this reason that I am not going to go back to Camden Market - ever. Or maybe it's becasue I found nothing that interested me, and I found the people quite creepy.

We didn't get any pictures - I didn't want pictures of Tattoo and piercing parlors.

I can see how people would like it there if...

You like free samples of Chinese chicken; you like cheap t-shirts; you want a piercing anywhere on your body; you want to do funky shopping, you want to see some punk, gothic British teens; or if you really enjoy crowds. 

It wasn't all bad though - I had my first crepe in London that was very tasty. It was cheese, fish, and spinach, and the lady added cream. I also had some organic, homemade hot chocolate - it was orange and cardamom flavored.

I like hot chocolate. The amount of hot chocolate I have had in London is one of my favorite parts about being here. Just to gauge that, I like hot chocolate and dinosaurs about the same - a lot.