a wordle to pass the time

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i am avoiding my work at the moment & my mind is drifting elsewhere to far off exotic places where i'd much rather be. in the mean time-- i discovered wordle creations courtesy of a new blog i found, "chronicles of me" to keep me occupied. i found it oddly entertaining seeing what sort of collages come up from the random words in my blog. if you want to play too--you can make your own here.


how to do london on a budget

according to forbes, london is the third most expensive city in the world just after moscow & tokyo. i'm not questioning this cause i live here & i'll vouge that sometimes i don't know how i've survived here financially so long with the sheer expense of things. what i'm saying is that before you completely cross off coming to visit london especially with the doom & gloom we hear about everyday with the 'credit crunch' & a weak dollar- it is possible to see the real london for free or really cheap for those of you on a budget.

so here's what you can see in london for free:

-all the major art galleries like the national gallery {my favorite}, the tate modern & the portrait gallery. *i've mentioned a bit about free galleries in a previous post of mine.
- big ben {you can go inside the houses of parliment in the summer but it costs £12 & booking is required}
- the outside of westminster abbey {worth it to go in although it costs}
- the outside of st paul's
- the outside of buckingham palace {you can only go in in the summer anyway}
- the changing of the guards
- covent garden {& the street performers}
- the major museums {like the british museum, victoria & albert, natural history museum}
- trafalgar square
- the outside of the globe theatre
- the outside of kensington palace
- carnaby, bond & oxford street
- abbey road {you can get a pic of the crosswalk & road sign}
- london bridge
- number 10 downing street where the prime minister lives {from a distance}
- leicester square
- the prime meridian line at the royal observatory in greenwich { 0 degrees longitude}
- the royal observatory & queen's house in greenwich
- the old royal naval college {painted hall & chapel--loads of movies filmed here}
-piccadilly circus
- the horse guards
- the old bailey {one of the most famous courthouses in the world--oscar wilde tried here & they still wear wigs!}
- the parks {my favorites are hyde park which has its own lake & a statue for peter pan & of course greenwich park}
- hampstead heath & blackheath {both have really cute window shopping & wide open spaces to relax}
- the markets {including portobello road, borough & greenwich}

the above list is most of what there is to see anyway in london. it is possible to do most of it by walking & not the underground which will save you money on travel. get an oyster card if you are here a few days, it will save you a lot & go to streetmap.co.uk to print out maps so you don't have to buy one.

if you are into walking you can do the 'london walks' for £7 ($14) which are amazing, a good deal & you get to see the back streets. my favorite {and oddly creepy} is their 'jack the ripper' tour that goes through the exact spots in whitechapel where all the murders took place.

don't do the bus top tour---you can see everything yourself for cheaper. the london eye is worth it only on a clear day and london doesn't have many clear days unfortunately. there's a great view of all of london from greenwich park & the observatory that i think is better than you'd see w/the eye.

theatre trips---a definite must here {its like going to nyc w/out seeing a broadway play}--go to the half price ticket booths.

music-- many of the church's including st. martin in the fields do free lunchtime concerts.

cheap ways/places to eat:

- tesco's & sainsbury's all do mini versions of their grocery stores in the city---buy a snack from here for lunches
- instead of subway---go to paul's {there's one in covent garden} that has great handmade, european style sandwiches.
- wagamama's is everywhere which serves a lot of healthy asian food that's cheap
- carluccio's is one of my favorites too--great quality & inexpensive italian food
- greenwich has loads of cheap eateries
- pubs have cheap & filling food
- find a fish & chip or kebab shop {its how the locals eat}
- the markets all have food stalls where you can fill up
- covent garden has great food too: wagamama's, carluccio's, cornwall's pasty shop, & ponti's are good

tips on where you stay:

avoid staying right in the center of london or anywhere near a park--it will be more.
- greenwich & canary wharf have nice hotels
- try to get breakfast included in the price {it will save you money elsewhere & not many places open up for breakfast--except greenwich does nice english breakfasts at the organic cafe}

tips on shopping:

shopping in london will cost you an absolute fortune. the markets are probably the best place to go to save a buck--greenwich again is my favorite as 80% of it is all handmade or artisan items. if you want to save huge amounts at the normal store---try visiting mid to late august & january which is when the sales are. john lewis is one of my favorite department stores & is cheaper than selfridges. harrod's---locals avoid it like the plague as its a tourist trap & you'll pay through the teeth. if you want high end shopping the locals love harvey nichols as well.


so as you can see it is possible to come & visit without having to sell any vital organs to visit. i do have one request though--if you do come, be sure to pop by greenwich to say hello & i'll treat you to a nice cup of tea!


free scrapbooking stuff


hey all you crafty, creative people! don't you feel lucky today cause i'm giving away some free stuff just for you! i was cleaning out my scrapbooking materials as part of my recent quest to de-clutter my life & decided to get rid of some craft paper, die cuts & stickers that i just don't want/like anymore. i figure what one person hates is another persons treasure eh? this and at the moment i'm in serious need of good karma so what the heck! so if you are interested in the below---leave a comment and tell me why you enjoy art/crafts/being creative. deadline for entries is 9 a.m. {pacific time, 5 p.m. in london} on thursday 7 August {next week} & a randomly picked winner will be announced later that day or fri.

sorry about the rubbish picture--i'm in serious need of a new camera at the moment. if you double click you may be able to see things better. if it helps this is what's enclosed:

die cuts: 1 blue helicopter, 1 brown baseball mitt, 1 brown football, 1 green truck, 1 gray football helmet, 1 brown teddy bear

paper: 2 springtime bunny w/pot, 1 light orange, 1 dark orange, 1 brown, 1 blue, 1 light green, 1 yellow, 1 dark green, 1 angel w/blue country stitched border, 1 w/ plane, train & automobile, 1 beach scene, 1 w/camera roll, 1 sunny days with sun, bees and picket fence, 1 country stitching on cream checkered background, 1 bunnies, bees & butterflies repeated pattern, 1 fruit pattern & 1 carrot pattern {18 pieces in total}

plus some left over travel stickers for the heck of it.

good luck!


kew gardens

the english sure know how to do their parks & gardens. london may be a huge city but you can easily find several places to unwind & commune with nature. kew gardens is definitely one of these places to escape from it all & the weather this weekend provided the perfect opportunity for us to pop over to richmond-upon-thames {sw london} and check out these botanical gardens for the first time. for £13 you get 300 acres of solitude filled with every type of plant imaginable from all parts of the globe. kew gardens is reknowned for their conservation work & their love of the environment which is obvious from all their business practices down to the loos, cafe's & even their gift shops.

kew gardens houses some of the oldest & largest remaining victorian glass houses. the above picture i took was my favorite & definitely one of the more iconic images of kew. when you walk in to the glass house, its obviously a 'green house' & is humid but i found it oddly relaxing smelling the various greenery & plants.

even with the 3 hours we spent we didn't manage to see everything. if you want to see the whole thing, its definitely an entire day excursion. there's loads of activities for all ages & the gardens are big enough you can easily bring a picnic and find a secluded area to enjoy lunch. out of what we did see today my favorite parts were the waterlily house {see above} & the treetop walkway {see my flickr photos in sidebar}. they were absolutely amazing!

kew gardens is one of the most beautiful places i've seen within london. not many tourists make it out to richmond, but if you come and visit & have a day to kill i guarantee you'll love this place like we did!


food on the mind

image from here

i managed to do something fabulous to my back this weekend. i pulled something somehow that has triggered/inflamed other aches & pains that i've been dealing with for the last year & a 1/2. i've been feeling under the weather the last few days trying to get the pain to go away & have been seriously seriously hurting. waterbottles, hot baths, lots of sleep, good books & audrey have been helping pass the time.

food has been on my mind since this weekend too for some reason. maybe its the pain that's making me want soup, chocolate & warm burritos? well anyway--i seem to be noticing food everywhere at the moment including some of my favorite blogs. check out these beautiful blogs & see if afterwards you aren't a tiny bit hungry.

101 cookbooks

snippets of life

simply breakfast

pioneer woman cooks!

the habit of being



what an absolutely sweet, adorable movie. for a cartoon its amazing how much they jam-packed into it - love story, social commentary & a profound environmental message. none of these themes are heavy handed or forced upon you too much & I felt they said so much more by saying so little {not much talking in the movie}. i found myself laughing, rooting for wall-e & even shedding a few tears when he gets the girl {yes i cried in a cartoon!}. the funny thing was that when james & i were looking around the cinema before it started---there were only a couple of kids & the rest were adults! to me that's a sign of a great flick where there's that kind of universal appeal. i love movies that make you feel like your better off for seeing them & wall-e completely fits this bill. so thanks pixar & disney for making one of your best movies in years!



i am feeling rather blessed to have lived in such an amazing city as london for nearly 7 1/2 years. i think back to when i arrived in march 2001 how innocent i was & how much life experience i lacked. i was 25 & literally just out of college & besides visiting england beforehand--had never really been anywhere or done anything. college was tough for me & on leaving i really desperately wanted to travel the world and do something spectacular with my life. the opportunity arose randomly to move to london & i just ran with it, sold nearly everything i owned & flew across the world with just 2 suitcases. boy i was scared & if the 60 lbs i put on a couple months later was anything to go by {have since lost nearly all of it}--it was an adjustment to say the least.

fast forward to 2008---i'm 32 now & had so many opportunities & experiences i never thought possible. i've traveled the world to places i've always dreamed of, met loads of celebrities, seen some of the most amazing theatre productions, musical performances & some of the best art in the world. i live 10 minutes from one of the coolest parks ever, only 20 minutes by train from big ben & the heart of the city & only two hours by train to paris. i wouldn't trade any of these experiences for the world & i know it sounds slightly cheesy but these moments i've had have made me the girl i am now.

i don't know what path my life would have taken if i had never moved here nearly a decade ago. who knows if i'd be married, if i had the career of my dreams, that white picket fence, kids or even a pet dog. i'm happy though with what experiences i've had so far & i feel like the many layers of me that were inside finally were peeled away & allowed to shine through. my perspective on life & the world around me has completely changed--i know what sustains me & what i want more of in my life. i want to surround myself with good food, yoga & exercise, travel, books, music & absolutely all things creative. i want to watch more old movies of audrey hepburn, eat gelato in rome & people watch in a sidewalk cafe in paris. things like these remind me that life is truly extraordinary & you have to take it by the scruff of the neck & ride it till the sun don't shine. if i died tomorrow, i'd look back & say my life was spectacular & i wouldn't have it any other way.

so i guess you could say i love growing up. i love seeing where you've come & figuring out where to go in the future. i'm grateful for these moments in london, that james has been right by my side & helped along the way and for everyone who has crossed my path these 7 years---thank you. thank you for being my teachers in every possible way & teaching me to love this gift that has been given to me.

i can't wait to see what the next 7 years will bring.

t.v. swapping across the pond

don't watch television much but because of our lovely satellite dish {only way to get more than 4 channels in this country} when i do i have a wide array of shows both american & english to choose from. it wasn't until i moved here though that i started noticing how much both sides of the atlantic rip of show ideas/concepts from each other. you may find it interesting the following lists:

us show { originated in uk}

american idol, {pop idol} -both have simon cowell
the office: an american workplace, {the office} -both ricky gervais produced
dancing w/the stars, {strictly come dancing}
whose line is it anyway?, {whose line is it anyway?}
supernanny us, {supernanny}- both have jo frost
who wants to be a millionaire, {who wants to be a millionaire}
the weakest link, {the weakest link}-- same host
wife swap: trading spouses, {wife swap}
the muppet show, {the muppet show} --originally produced in the uk
baby borrowers, {baby borrowers}
bob the builder, {bob the builder}
teletubbies, {teletubbies}
honey we're killing the kids, {honey we're killing the kids}
antiques roadshow, {antiques roadshow}
brat camp, {brat camp}
faking it, {faking it}
sanford & son, {steptoe & son}
three's company, {man about the house}
welcome back kotter, {please sir}
all in the family, {till death do us part}
how to look good naked, {how to look good naked}

more can be found here

uk show {originated in US}
wheel of fortune, {wheel of fortune}
gladiators, {american gladiators}
saturday live, {saturday night live}
this is your life, {this is your life}
the upper hand, {who's the boss?}
the apprentice, {the apprentice}
queer eye for the straight guy uk, {queer eye}
the brighton belles, {the golden girls}
days like these, {that 70's show}
loved by you, {mad about you}
married for life, {married w/children}
family fortunes, {family feud}
the price is right, {the price is right}

more can be found


Duck Love

meet our neighbors 'george & mildred'. they are two 'resident' ducks that are always lounging around brookmill park {5 min walk from our flat}. you can always guarantee that when you see one, the other will be not far behind--they are literally inseparable {talk about true 'duck' love}. they don't do much besides sit there next to the lake, soaking up the rays & gorging on free fish right there & food from the locals {what a life eh?}. they do seem to be getting on in years as george's beak has faded & his feathers are everywhere & mildred just sleeps all the time. but we love them anyway & we always make a special attempt to stop by & see our fair feathered 'retired friends' when we go running or walking. I would love to live out my last few years like they do, wouldn't you? Just check out their set-up:

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ode to our washing machine

washing. by djbass

6 weeks ago you left us for no reason
without explanations
or finishing the job.

oh how we miss thee dear washer
the clean socks
the fresh spring scent.

you seem determined to stay broken forever
even after people have tried to fix you
& paying them too much money.

we promise if you won't die
we'll be more gentle,
we'll talk nice,
won't hit,
we'll stop seeing the other washers,
will feed you good soap,
& only put you on spin once, not twice a day.

we love you dear washer
come back to us soon
we need our clean clothes,
we need you.


inspired by.......

what i love about things that are homemade is how they almost 'draw' you in with the collective love & energy put into their creation. there's a story behind each & they speak to the part of us that's perfection & complete stillness. to me-this is what art is & i'm grateful that others share a little bit of themselves in their work so people like me can be inspired to 'create' too. So here's a few pieces of 'absolute harmony & grace' i've stumbled upon recently:

photos by tara whitney

the photos by tara whitney are just fabulous and complete scream of personality, character & life. i like how she does the whole traditional portrait thing in a untraditional way. its easy to get lost in looking at her portfolio & i'm amazed about how someone can think of the shots she does. i only wish she didn't live across the world so i could have her come to my house!

(the above artwork by E. Falconbridge is available here}

i've mentioned how much i absolutely love emily falconbridge's blog {*e*} in previous posts, but she's recently started selling her artwork in her etsy shop. how gorgeous is the above? i love how she mixes & matches mediums. as soon as i've saved a few pennies i'm seriously buying one of these babies as its just completely fuses with my personality {& my living room}. you should also check out in her shop what she can do with a camera strap--who would have ever thought?

{photo by marta designs, products available here}

again, i know i've mentioned marta from marta.writes recently as well. its just i'm consistently inspired with her sense of style, her creativity & what she can do with paper. i would love to someday make my own journals & cards like she does. she's just one seriously talented cookie.

drawing by stephen w. taken via the telegraph

stephen wiltshire- you've got to see his drawings of landmarks. this guy {nick name 'the human camera'} draws in exact detail from memory places he's seen & they are incredible. he's one of only a few that are considered 'autistic' savants in the world. i saw a documentary on him a while back & since then i've popped in to look at his work every now & then. you may not be able to afford his 'original' work just yet, but its still inspiring to look at in the meantime.

image available here

i love the vintage feel of these handmade frames from obrien & schridde. i randomly saw these frames surfing the other day & thought they were absolutely an utter delight.


happy 4th of july

{double click for larger view}


i'm not a mommy blogger

so i'm 32 years old and i'm not a mommy blogger or even a soon to be one. don't get me wrong i frequently stop by many that would fit into this type of thing { my favorites: *e*, pioneer woman & marta writes}. i enjoy reading about people's expected new arrivals, how their little ones lost a tooth or even mundane things like what a kid did or didn't eat for breakfast or how they just recently went through potty training. i like reading these {including many non mommy blogs too} cause yes, don't laugh- i enjoy reading about 'life' & i feel connected to the 'journey' others are taking {ya-da, ya-da} . but i guess part of me has felt bad sometimes when i'm reading about 'susie' learning how to swim or 'billie' saying his first words cause i feel like it should be my kid in the pictures.

i'm at the age where people start wondering why you don't have kids. they wonder if something may be wrong with you or if you are just plain selfish because you want to put yourself first. 'don't worry, one day it will be your time' --is a phrase i hear frequently. i grew up mormon as well and the idea of family was seriously pushed into my head from a very young age too. being 32, unmarried and childless in that culture-talk about social suicide! socially it can become quite awkward if you don't have a kid & all your girlfriends are starting to have them. the ladies with kids do eventually flock together and hang out together because they have so much more to talk about. it's the same whole thing with family get together's & you start to wonder if you've become invisible. parents and future mother & father in laws start gravitating towards those who have given them the grandkids. call me crazy, but all of the above is true.

i guess at the core of all this is i don't want to be left out in life because i don't have a kid. i'm really really trying to learn to accept my life for what it is & that includes the fact that i'm not yet a mommy blogger/mommy/mom/mum/mother and that its ok. not everyone may be meant to be a mom and i've got to just find my own niche in this world. whether i will eventually have children {or whether i can even have them} i don't know, but everything in its proper time & place. whatever happens will happen & i'm going to promise myself i'm not going to worry or waste time anymore comparing myself or thinking of the what if's. the future is just that--the future & i've got way too much to share with this world in the meantime.