Friday, October 5


I've been in Alabama for the past month!  It's been pretty great, though I am ready to start real life again.

Yesterday Melissa, Will, and I went on a wander near Lake Tuscaloosa.  We saw a snake!  Eeeek.

Happy October!  It's by far my favorite month.

Thursday, August 23

Feeling lucky

Right now I'm in Italy with my parents and Hannah, enjoying the first leg of my long vacation (before starting a job - but we won't think about that yet).

We've visited Cinque Terre and Pisa and cooked (and eaten) some really good food and told (and retold) some good stories. Tonight we video chatted with Melissa in Alabama, watched some Friends episodes, and put Lyra to bed, and I stayed up extra late booking a flight to see friends next month when I'm in the States.

I'm feeling lucky.  Being with these three people is like a breath of fresh air.  And I'm looking forward to going back to London for a couple of days, when I can see Dave and wear pants without sweating. (Read: I've totally forgotten what hot weather is like.) And I'm looking forward to going back to Alabama (for like two weeks!) and spending quality time with more friends and family.

It's going to be hectic. And I'll probably spend too much money.  But life is all about the people and I know so many good ones.

Okay, gushing and slideshow over.  I've gotta be up in five hours.

Sleep tight, y'all.

Thursday, August 9

London Breakfast Club: Caravan

I finally visited Caravan in Exmouth Market last weekend. This is the place to go if you want to feel like a trendy Londoner while eating yummy food. 

We sat outside. Glancing around, I noticed that every single person was remarkably fashionable, even the babies. Not in the glitzy name brand way but in the artsy hipster way. Earthy colors, well-worn leather lace ups and sneakers, six or seven layer ensembles with messy hair and unique patterned tights. Plenty of big square glasses and baggy skinny jeans. How do people dress like this every day?  Is it effortless?  Do they spend a fortune on thrifted vintage and an hour getting ready every morning?  I don't know, but London is indeed the fashion capital of the world and I need to get my act together. 

Anyway. The vibe is trendy. The menu is trendy, too. All the brunch items were recognizable but most dishes had a twist. Creamy soy mushrooms. Baked eggs, tomato, and pepper ragout. (I don't know what ragout is. I bet it's French.) Ham and cheese muffins. For me, the obvious choice was cornbread french toast with bacon, rocket, avocado, and paprika-spiced maple syrup. You'd never put those ingredients together, right?  But you know it's going to be delicious. And it was. The downside was the portion size. It was plenty, yes, but I could've eaten twice as much. Maybe that's my own problem.


Linking with love: inside Caravansignageoutside Caravan

Monday, August 6

Camping in Dorset

This weekend Dave and I drove down to Dorset and camped on Northdown Farm, in between Osmington and Weymouth.

Gratuitous couple picture. Upon arriving at the campsite, before we got all gross and dirty from nature.

The forecast was iffy. But it only rained twice, while we were sleeping. Woo!

The farm campsite was fresh, spacious, an easy half hour walk to the beach, and close to lots of country pubs.

One day we drove to Weymouth, where the Olympic sailing events were happening. We couldn't see much - just a distant fleet of white sails, which was pretty - but we enjoyed iced coffees and scones at a cafe called The Tea Bush. We returned a couple days later for breakfast.  Yum. Recommended.

We intended on cooking for ourselves. I bought a new cookstove and everything!  But it was so windy, and the gas cartridges were moderately complicated, so we ended up going to pubs instead. Fish and chips. Pan fried sea bass. Crab sandwiches. Cottage pie. One morning, we acquired some boiling water from the campsite shop and made lukewarm oatmeal and coffee.  Cooking?  Check.

Dave and I have a long history of failed campfires. It's turned into a thing. Every time we (he) fail(s) to build a successful fire, I get sad and irritable. But on our third night, lo and behold, despite my skepticism, after an hour of poking and prodding, Dave built an awesome fire.  It was hot and cracklin' and it burned all our firewood down to ash. We were both very pleased. I started calling Dave 'Fire Maker.'

As always, getting out of London was refreshing. I've missed camping!

Happy Monday,

PS, if any of you are following the Olympics, be sure to watch the USA v. Canada women's soccer match today.  The winner goes to gold on Thursday, and I'll be there!

Saturday, July 14

Harry Bird and the Rubber Wellies

If you like folk music, you should check out Harry Bird and the Rubber Wellies because:

1.  their album art is pretty
2.  their music is pretty great
3.  and my friend Molly knows them so it's like you know them too

My favorite song is The Butterfly Song. You can listen here. It's happy and folky and not serious.  And the lyrics make me smile.

oh, the more you have to struggle through
the sweeter victory tastes to you
from the ashes beauty flashes
that's the cry of the butterfly
trust me son, your life's about
to take an astounding route
you're a brave fella, young caterp-ella
i see you flying high in a fancy suit

I think so.mb
Linking with love: lyrics

Friday, July 13

Rain, job, life update

My blog lacks life updates.

I've been going through an awkward phase for the past two years. I've tried not to be all philosophical and Generation Why-ee on the blog. But every time I start writing life updates, things get 'philosophical' and Generation Why-ee real fast. So I delete everything and post some Instagrams! This is me inside a tree.

Here's what's happening. 

London is wet and chilly. Summer hasn't arrived and I'm not sure it will. June was the rainiest June since 1910, and we received 3x the monthly rainfall average in the first ten days of July. For as long as I can remember, the ten day weather forecast has consisted of rows of gray clouds with the occasional red lightening bolt.  Last week I couldn't find my raincoat and refused to buy another one, in protest. (I've since found my raincoat, thank goodness.) It's yuck. I know it's hot in the States, but I would give a little toe for sun and shorts and the sweet relief of a cold beverage. I like London when the sun's out. But the sun's rarely out. And in the never ending rain, it's soggy, dirty, and gray.

One quiet Friday afternoon at the bank, my dear colleagues were googling each other and stumbled across this blog. As they clicked through, I was mortified. I was also very thankful I choose not to discuss my job (in detail) online. If you ever have questions about investment banking or my role in the industry (is that vague enough?), please email me. My internship ends mid-August, and then I'm meeting Hannah in Italy for a few days of traveling. And then… no idea. 

I mean, I have ideas. Lots of them.

I've been busy applying for jobs, interviewing for jobs, worrying about jobs, discussing jobs for a few months now. My strategy targets the continental United States, London, and Australia. I'm covering all my bases. The search has its ups and downs. I love the rush after a good interview and the hope after applying for that perfect job that I'm overqualified for (which happened once, and 24 hours later, I was rejected, but you know… the hope in the beginning was great). I enjoyed writing my first four cover letters, but now I begin every cover letter by opening Word and grumpily typing 'JUST GIVE ME THIS JOB.' 

When I'm in a good mood, it's exciting 'having options' and being young and talking about the future. When I'm in a bad mood, I'm convinced I'm going to be broke, alone, and cynical forever. And if you send me articles about the bad economy, god help you.

I've come up with a system to help me deal with uncertainty. I list all my options and highlight the pros and cons for each.

Some examples.

No job, sleeping on my sister's dirt floor pantry in Alabama 
Pros: sunny weather, being near family, biscuits and gravy
Cons: no money, no friends, no Dave


Interning for free at a nonprofit or comms agency in Colorado 
Pros: sunny weather, work experience I want, Shelley lives in Denver
Cons: no money, no family, no Dave


Working in finance in London 
Pros: money, Dave, being in the same place for 1+ years
Cons:  the *&^**%&*! rain, professional angst, I miss my friends

Basically, I will enjoy and benefit from being anywhere, somehow.

Fun things I've done lately: a girls weekend with church folk, staying out til the sun came up, eating lots of pasta and pizza, reading good books. Tonight I might go to a surprise birthday party, if I convince myself to change out of my sweat pants and venture back outside (lame, I know). Next weekend we're going to a friend's wedding in Oxford. Then the Olympics, then Italy, and between now and then, I've got four days off to squeeze in.  

Life ain't too terrible.

Saturday, June 23

thank you [for daily bread]

Some things that made me happy in May and June...

* working on resumes together til 1am
* big windows, 7pm sun
* licks from a golden retriever puppy
* reading a good book in a single afternoon
* pad thai (first time!)
* indie plays in tiny theaters on Monday nights
* phone call from Australia
* Dave making me a tuna melt when I want a tuna melt
* second interviews
* cherries straight off the tree
* talking about life with Melissa over bad Italian martinis
* bike rides through fields
* Dave writing a book
* raspberry and ricotta scones
* praying together
* salmon
* Friday nights alone
* Modern Family
* Sunday lunch at Luis's
* take out curry & Ocean's Eleven
* iced lattes at Kaffeine near Oxford Street
* "give us our daily bread"
* Skyping Alabama folk
* five-day-old pancake batter still makes good pancakes

Most nights since September, I've written down two or three things I'm grateful for. Too soon to tell, but this might be the best habit I ever develop.


The Capital Ring (and my sister met Obama)

London is great, but it's a city and when you live here, you do city things. Like going out for coffee and pastries, or beers, or your choice of ethnic food, or dancing, or theater. I love it all.  But most of it doesn't involve nature or exercise. And last weekend, I was craving nature and exercise.

Refusing to wallow in city woes (okay, I wallowed for a few hours), I did some research and discovered the Capital Ring, a 78-mile walking path around the edges of London, through some of the city's prettiest and oft forgotten green spaces. Despite gloomy weather forecasts, Dave and I headed to west London and walked seven miles through Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park. What a beautiful, blustery, refreshing day. We saw a historic flour mill, stood on the historic hill where Henry VIII hung out while Anne Boleyn was beheaded, watched ducks and squirrels, climbed ancient oaks, and most lovely of all, gave our legs a good stretching and our lungs some clean forest air. I'm going to walk as much of the Capital Ring as I can during the next few months. Nature's beauty aside, it's a fun way to explore new parts of London.

And oh yeah!

In case you didn't hear, my sister met President Obama on Thursday. 

Yes, they are smiling at each other in that photo, bonding over student activism and education policy, no doubt. And yes, this is the coolest thing my blog will ever report.

Analyzing my jealousy, I realized I may have a slight celebrity crush on Barack Obama.

Analyzing my crush, I realized it's because he's intelligent, witty, fun, not bad looking, and progressive... and because of this video.

I watch this video whenever I'm worried about jobs, unemployment, and the future. Yes, that's correct. I watch it every day. It makes me laugh and gives me hope and I temporarily forget about economic policies that may or may not be affecting my job prospects.  Thanks, Barack and Carly Rae (and whoever put the two of you together).


Monday, June 11

Ricotta scones

Did you hear?

The Queen recently had her sixtieth anniversary of being queen.  Hurray!  The UK loves their Queen (for the most part). We got two days off and people flocked to London and fleets of ships sailed down the River Thames and there was an epic concert and Elton John wore hot sparkly pink under a brilliant fireworks show.

Melissa was visiting over this Jubilee weekend. We went to a musical, ate at a fancy restaurant, enjoyed an indoor British barbecue (it was raining, but my, what delicious salmon), and headed to the pub after Monday night's concert.

Perhaps my favorite part of the weekend, besides spending time with kinfolk, was baking scones. I was feeling grumpy and cold and unpatriotic and our afternoon tea plans had fallen through. So I baked scones. Ricotta and raspberry scones, recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, to be exact.

They are amazing. Truly delightful. You don't even need to butter them (if you're American) or top them with clotted cream and jam (if you're English). They're perfect all on their own. I've baked them twice in the past week. I will bake them again before the month's over. Do try them for yourself, in honor of the Queen, or just because they are heavenly.

Linking with love: photo from Smitten Kitchen (best food blog ever)

Monday, May 21

Follow your dreams

Investment Banking:
True Stories of Hope And (Mostly) Despair

Follow Your Dreams

It's Monday morning, but I'm feeling good.

On top of that, today is a senior manager's fifteenth anniversary at the bank!  Free cake for all!

We're standing around eating cake, congratulating the senior manager on her fifteenth anniversary at the bank. She waves her hand in the air, getting our attention.

"Thank you, Bob and team, for the bottle of wine," she says.  "Actually, most of you don't know this, but it's been fifteen years and ten months since I joined the bank. After ten months, I quit to travel and follow my dreams... of course, inevitably, I came crawling back!"

Everyone chuckles and takes another bite of cake.

I die inside.

Linking with love: photo of tall building

Sunday, May 20

My top ten

Yesterday my business strategies professor asked us to list the ten "most important things" in our lives, without overthinking. I came up with my first three immediately.

1. friends - building community
2. family - building community
3. being outside, sunshine

Then I had to think for a few seconds.

4. serving God/people - helping
5. self sufficiency - $

Five through eleven slowly came to mind.

6.  travel/adventure
7.  being useful, accomplishing something significant
8.  music, writing, creativity
9.  good food
10. telling stories
11. reading

Can good food be that important?  I think it can.

Linking with love: beautiful photos from a well traveled woman

Friday, May 18

The post I meant to post last week....

Let's talk about gay rights.

Just kidding!

Longer post coming soon.


Linking with love: rainbow

Tuesday, May 8

A new series...

Investment Banking:
True Stories of Hope And (Mostly) Despair

Never Get Up

It's 7am. In that half awake dream state, I hear Winston Churchill say,

        Never ever, ever, ever, ever ever give up. 

Warm and fuzzy in my bed, I'm relieved to hear those encouraging words because yesterday I cried a lot and worried that somehow, against all odds, I was going to be trapped in finance forever.

Over and over again I hear,

       Never ever, ever, ever, ever ever give up. 

       Never give up.  Never ever give up.

I smile sleepily. I won't ever give up. My fuzzy thoughts float from Winston's advice to last night's Homeland finale to the morning light and the cool breeze quietly slipping through the window. I roll over and snuggle deep into the covers.

      Never ever, ever, ever, ever ever get up. 

Some time later, it dawns on me that Winston's words have changed. Over and over again I'd begun hearing,

      Never get up.
      Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever get up. 
      Never. Get. Up.
      I am never getting up.

I'm awake now. I think about calling in sick. But eventually I get up. 

I go to the bank.

Linking with love: photo of a bank

Saturday, April 28

Going home to Tuscany

It's been raining, all day, for the past sixteen days. I'm not exaggerating. In fact, it might be more like nineteen or twenty days. It's not pleasant. I'm at home in my pjs for the second weekend in a row. Last Saturday night, my mom asked what I was doing. I told her Dave and I were waiting for our sweet potatoes to finish baking and then we were having dinner. She said, "you sound like old people." Thanks, Mom. I'd like to blame the rain.

Last month I visited the folks in Italy, twice!  Here are some photos. Look at that beautiful sunshine.

Tuscany really is gorgeous and the food does not disappoint. I visited Rome and Venice back in high school, and I remember eating lots of pizza and pasta. But this time, my favorite dish was simple fish and vegetables slow cooked in generous amounts of olive oil. And ravioli in walnut cream sauce. And the creme brulee. Mmmmmm. And the coffee, too. Italian espresso isn't as caffeinated as the American and British stuff, so I could have a coffee after every meal if I wanted. 

Dave came along on Easter weekend. We strolled around Florence, shopping for shoes, eating gelato, taking naps on benches at the base of the duomo (that was just me). We explored bits around Pisa and walked around Lucca's walls. On Easter, we took the train to Cinque Terra, which is a string of five quaint, colorful villages along Italy's coast. It's touristy but totally worth a visit. I want to go back and hike through all five; it takes four or five hours.  All day, a thunderstorm hung overhead, creating awesome clouds and lightening. 

Looking forward to visiting again when Melissa hops over the ocean.

Stay warm and dry,

Tuesday, April 24

Anybody wanna lend me a fancy hat?

I've been meaning to ask...

Does anyone have any fancy "old fashioned" hats?

Because in June, I'm going to the Royal Ascot horse races. We've actually gotten passes to the Royal Enclosure where all the upperclass and royal folk go. (Don't get me started. Another post.) And I need a hat. I could buy one in London, but that's (a) expensive and (b) not as fun as borrowing a hat from family or friends!   

Some Google images of Royal Ascot hats:

 Good color.


Big. But elegant.

I'm just looking for a hat. It doesn't have to be a parrot or anything. Though, it does have to be "big enough." That's right, there are specific, minimum hat measurements for women entering the Enclosure...  

If you think you might have something, get in touch!  My sister is flying to Europe in a couple of weeks and could personally escort any available hats across the Atlantic.

Happy hat hunting?

Linking with love: hat, hat, hat

Sunday, April 15

This weekend...

Having a pint at my fave pub, The Island Queen,
after getting caught in a very cold rainstorm

... I went to see One Man, Two Guvnors with the Masoms.  It's opening soon on Broadway, if you're in New York and want a laugh-out-loud play. It's so British and the physical comedy is really well done. My sides hurt from laughing. I spent a fortune on groceries and discovered my two new favorite foods: cashew butter and kiwifruit. I also made tuna salad with homemade mayonaise! We went dancing and out to brunch at a fancy London place on Piccadilly. Now I'm going to meet some friends at Look Mum No Hands, a bicycle and coffee shop!  Hip and happening.

It's been a busy month so far. I've been going to Italy and applying for jobs and buying into fad diets and basking in as much sun as I can get my hands on. Photos and more posts to follow soon!


Saturday, March 31

thank you [for springtime]

Some things that made me happy and grateful in March, 
as recorded in my little notebook...

* having parents who are happy, married, and adventurers
* organizing drinks with my coworkers, finally!
* the movie Hairspray being on TV
* my friend Olivia's engagement!
* good coffee when I'm sleepy
* a letter from Aunt Betty Lou
* London at 6am - crisp, pretty, hopeful
* Heidi wanting to get coffee and talk about deep God stuff
* funny unexpected emails from friends
* The Hunger Games
* snuggling
* sitting in the sun, five days in a row
* Shelley moving to Denver!
* travel plans with Melissa
* my parents' ideal Italian farmhouse
* strawberries 

Happy April Fool's!

Monday, March 19

This weekend...

... I became a fan of The Hunger Games. I started the first book on a bus ride to Bristol and I finished the next day.  I was reading around other people who kept asking if it was really that good. If you're only into literature or complicated characters and plots, then maybe The Hunger Games isn't for you. But I love good adventure fiction written for kids. It's simple and powerful. Oooh... I just watched the movie trailer and got chills.

Speaking of adventures for kids, my friend Megan and I went to see We Bought A Zoo. I hadn't been to a light hearted PG movie in a long time. (They say "bad words" in PG movies these days! Or did I just not hear them when I was eight?) In short, Matt Damon's character buys a zoo and lives on the property with his two kids. There are lions and tigers and a big ole grizzly bear. I may have cried a little bit. Did you know the movie's based on a true story and the actual zoo is in England?  Stay tuned. I'll most definitely be taking a day trip this spring.

Happy adventuring,

Linking with love: Hunger Games, We Bought A Zoo