London I Am Still Latching onto You

I wish I had started this blog in 2007 so I would have a place where I had documented my travels and time in London, but alas, this is my first post about London, which was such a deeply important and monumental time in my life.

Actually, I take that back… If I’m honest, I had a blog called “bedroom ninjas”, which I thought was a funny name at the time, but it was this crappy, elementary-looking Blogger site that I had to take down because it was filled with a mix of sappy myspace-type music lyrics and London experiences – it didn’t have a clear voice and it was not exactly the type of representation I was looking for myself at the beginning of my career!

The only legit post that I had written was about how you’re not going to find a burrito in Hammersmith, which (ironically) 8 years later, doesn’t appear to be the case.

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So today, I’m going to tell you about my head-over-heels love affair that I still have with London (part 1), and why Leo and I flew across the pond for a weekend with a follow up post.

Moving to London

To give you some context, I moved to London when I was 21 and straight out of college. I had a family friend who had worked at a commercial real estate firm with a guy named Michael Hatt, who happened to be CEO of said company. I got an interview with him, and he opened the doors to me – they agreed to sponsor me for a visa. While I had initially viewed this as a way to travel Europe, I got lucky enough to land a marketing role where I really was abel to excel.

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Not only was I sponsored for a visa, but during my time there, I took the lead on launching the company’s email marketing & digital programs, and became great friends with some amazing people along the way – work mates, roommates, and my favorite American mates.

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Hatty (as we called him) maybe never knew how much the opportunity that he gave me influenced my life, but I am sure grateful for it. I reflect on how I actually managed to pull it off and it’s quite crazy. I had never been to London, and I managed to get a job, a visa, a flat, open a bank account, get a phone…. all when I was 21!

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After the economy had tanked in 2009, the visa I was had could no longer be renewed, and I had to return back to the states. Leaving London was terrible – I just wasn’t ready to go!

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And after returning the weekend back in my old stomping grounds, I can positively say that I am still just as in love with the city as I was 8 years ago.

London I Am Still Latching onto You

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I can’t actually believe I waited this long to come back. Life has a funny way of throwing different experiences at you, and there just hadn’t been a good time to go back. But I’m so glad we did.

London is full of dichotomies: with the craziness of the tube you find the peace in the parks, with the brand new sky towering buildings you find the buildings that still stand after hundreds of years, with the uber-posh West End you have the artistic and hipster streets of Shoreditch, with the years of history of English gentility you find the clever yet crass nature of their humor.

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That’s all I have for now… I’ll have a follow up post shortly with more stories about our trip! xx

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Birthdays, Weddings and Festivals Galore

I am the worst.blogger.ever. I’ve been completely MIA for the past few weeks, but I can assure you that it hasn’t been for a lack of trying. In between my obsessive running and barre classes, I have been (slightly) drowning in wedding planning, wedding bridesmaid-ing, and trying to have somewhat of a normal life. pink barre So here’s what’s been going on this month!

Birthdays, Weddings and Festivals Galore

Leo and I celebrated a big birthday this month… Rexford turned 1! Can you believe it? Our little terror turned 1. We decided to have a little birthday for him with some friends who have bee nice enough to watch after our little rascal on a few of the weekends we’ve been out of town. Rexford's first birthday

There’s no doubt our little man is spoiled. We had a birthday hat, birthday treats and presents! I even made a peach and blueberry greek yogurt cake (a healthy & delicious option, of course) from Julia’s Album for the grown ups to enjoy.  The cake was so easy to make… and SO good! I’ve never touted myself on being much of a baker, but I must say it wasn’t bad for my first time! I didn’t take any proper pictures, but here is an idea of what it’s supposed to look like. peach and blueberry greek yogurt cake

Let Wedding Season Begin

April marked our first of 4 weddings this summer. We headed down to Orlando for my cousin Keely’s wedding, which was such an amazing weekend! 15817_10103821504745687_1844836003804020625_n Favorite things from the wedding weekend:

  • Seeing old family & meeting new family
  • Beautiful wedding colors, flowers & setting
  • An amazing escape from a rainstorm
  • An incredible group of bridesmaids
  • A weekend full of fun & dancing

One successful wedding down. 3 to go.

Sweetwater 420 Fest

Despite all the fun we had in Florida, I unfortunately became so sick from allergies. Allergies didn’t really have a meaning for me until I moved to Atlanta. When you hit a pollen count of 6800, you might as well just throw in the towel and call it a day.  I was quite literally floored for 48 hours in a fetal position on my couch. So even though we had plans to see Snoop Dogg on Friday, and dance for 3 days straight, we only made it out for a very short time for our friend Drew’s 30th birthday. sweetwater 420 fest But, we made it out, we celebrated birthdays, and we knocked another thing off our Atlanta to do list!

Oh, and I’ve also been dodging tornadoes this week. So there’s always that. There’s more adventures coming up soon, so I promise to be better about capturing my updates, my loves! xoxo

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Barre, Run, Sleep. Repeat.

That’s right people. It’s wedding season, which means it’s exactly the right time for me to become overly obsessed ansd self-consumed with my wedding body.

While I tend not to be the crazy girl who counts every calorie, I am vain, and luckily for Leo’s obsession with running, it was an easy change to my daily routine.

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Barre, Run, Sleep. Repeat.

Have you done barre before? One of my girlfriends did it before her wedding 2 years ago and she looked AMAZING. She had this skin-tight silk dress that hung tight in every curve, and gosh darnit did she do it right!

Now I would not normally inflict this type of pain on myself (I guess this is a sort of not-accurate statement), but Leo loves to work out…. So he bought me a bunch of classes at our barre studio downstairs.

Guys Doing Barre

Have you ever seen a guy in you’re barre class? Me neither.  In all fairness, the woman at Pink Barre did warn Leo that there was only one other male who had enrolled for classes.

But, Leo decided to join anyway.

So every Wednesday at 6am, we head down to our barre class, and it’s quite possibly the hardest yet funniest thing I’ve ever done. By nature, I’m about as ungraceful as you can get (I mean, I broke my wrist when I was standing up straight – that is hard to beat!). The only person who has less graceful moves than me is Leo, and watching him do pliets and working the bar with his arms isabout just as funny as Jimmy Fallon’s lip synching contests.

It’s actually quite bizarre because when Leo runs he looks like he is floating. If I looked like that when I ran, I would not walk ANYWHERE – I’d run. But, to be candid, I look like an elephant who has just finished 27 bottles of whiskey when I run. It’s an ugly sight.

At any rate, barre is challenging, I feel like my hips are going to pop out of their sockets, and I seriously wonder if I’m going to get any better. I guess time will tell!

The Georgia Publix Marathon

Yay! Another Atlanta to-do list item to check off!!! I signed up for this race a few months ago with one of my best friends here, Laura, who absolutely killed her first half marathon (1:51)!!!

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This was either my third or fourth half marathon, and I’m glad it’s over. Although I thought my barre, run, sleep, repeat routine was fail proof, I happened to really hurt my sciatic nerve the week before my race at a barre class. (Realistically it happened before the barre class, but the class definitely did not help it one bit). I’ve never really been injured before a race, but the pain goes from my lower back down the backside of my leg to my ankle. Ouch!

I finished in under 2:30, which has been on my slower side. Even so, it’s another one in the books! As a shirt I saw on the course said, “I’m a completed, not a competer!”

Maybe one day I’ll get close to Laura’s time :)

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Shower Optional

Funniest part of this whole day was after we got home from the race. We decided to go home, shower and clean up so we could celebrate with pizza and beer since there would not be a beer tent available on Sunday due to the Blue Laws. 

It had been raining the entire course, and after you’re toes, fingers and body have been wet for over 3 hours, all you want is a nice hot shower.

But, just imagine if the water main on your road broke, and there is no running water at your apartment…..

True story. No running water when we got home. There were some little tiny drops coming from the shower head so I decided to jump in and scrub whatever I could. The water stopped before I could get my hair.

Poor Leo had to wash his hair in the sink – I had to pour bottled water on his head. Talk about absolute disaster!

At any rate, we freshened up, we went out to celebrate with our best friends in ATL, we slept, and then we repeat!

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An Authentic Taste of Mexico

I’ve been to Mexico twice: to Tijuana when I was about 8 years old, and for spring break to Cabo when I was in grad school. Needless to say, I’ve never had a real authentic experience in Mexico.

Fortunately, Leo got accepted to an inter-semester program to IPADE in Mexico City, where his family lives, which gave him an excuse to get school credits and visit his family.

One last minute decision later… I bought a flight to join him for 5 days to meet his family before our wedding in July!

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An Authentic Taste of Mexico

Oh my gosh. Where on earth do I start? Mexico was so different than I had imagined – it’s diverse, the food is incredible (ok I did expect this much), the history is rich, there are so many subcultures, and most importantly. I can’t wait to go back! This is my first trip out of the country since my South America trip 2 years ago.Although Leo and I have done an excellent job of exploring the South this year, this has been my longest period of non-international travel in my 20’s.

Needless to say, I was so excited to be in a completely foreign city where I spoke only two words of the language: cerveza and bano.

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Tio Alberto and Tia Toya’s “Guaps”. It’s a 300 year old painting. Amazing.

Day 1: Mariano’s 7th Birthday

When we arrived in Mexico, we were picked up by Leo’s uncle, Tio Alberto, and his driver. We went straight to Tio Alberto and Tia Toya’s house for Mariano’s birthday. I had met his aunt and uncle last Christmas when they had visited California, but this birthday party was my first time to meet Leo’s cousin, Beto, and his two adorable kids, Mariano and Juane.

These two boys remind me of my own nephews, who are the same age. They are so sweet and too cute for their own good.

Also, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much in my entire life. His aunt would not stop feeding me, and I joked that if she didn’t stop, she’d have to roll me all the way back to ATL from Mexico.

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Day 2: Museo Nacional de Antropología y Polanco

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I’m so glad we stared our trip at the museum because there are so many historical artifacts, and it also gives a really rich and detailed history of Mexico. I always geek out at these kinds of places because it’s incredible to think that artifacts have been preserved since B.C., or that historians know as much as they do.

Interestingly enough, Mexico City was surrounded by a lake (which as now dried), and many of the buildings are sinking into the ground due to this.

After the museum, we strolled over to Polanco, which is an upscale area with beautiful shops, restaurants and homes. It’s kind of like the Rodeo Drive of Mexico City. I was so impressed with the way people dressed, and the general vibe. Everything felt alive. People sat outside to enjoy the warm weather, music was playing from each restaurant, and there was a general buzz of people enjoying long lunches.

Naturally, we stopped for refreshments.

After a siesta at Tia Toya and Tio Alberto’s, we headed back to Polanco for dinner with Leo’s cousins to El Japonez, a sushi restaurant. But it wasn’t just a sushi restaurant – it was a sushi-Mexican fusion restaurant. I had no idea there was such a large asian influence in Mexico City. The food was incredible.

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Day 3: El Centro

Every morning we woke up to a completely authentic Mexican meal. His aunt made the best chilaquiles, black beans, and different types of hot sauces I’ve ever had in my life. I unfortunately didn’t take photos, but I will learn to make it as good as she does. I seriously wish I could express to her how much I love what she cooked.

But, she doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Spanish. Anyway, that’s a different life goal that will happen at some point.

After breakfast, we met with Leo’s other cousin Gordo and his wife Tete. We went to explore El Centro, and we first started at an exhibit called Bici at Museo Franz Mayer.

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Tons of awesome bikes from all over the world. A hipster’s paradise.

Next we walked past the Palaceo des Bellas Artes and wandered through the square.

Then, my quince dreams came true….

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Amazing, no?

Then we stopped by Azul Historico for some food…. and dios mio it was amazing. You’re walking in this very old, historical part of town, and you enter into this place, and it’s a beautiful, modern courtyard with huge trees decorated with hanging tea light candles in the middle of the square.

Plus, if you’re looking for some sun, there’s an amazing rooftop bar with plenty of spots to lounge and a pool.

On the menu: mescal, guacamole with crickets, tacos el pastor, and some rose.

After lunch, we went exploring to the main square, Zócalo to see Palacio Nacional the and Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María. I have been a single female traveler for a while, and from time to time, you can feel out of place – especially if you’re a blonde. Places like China or Egypt or Turkey I would  stand out. I never felt unsafe in Mexico, but all eyes were on us as we started getting deeper into the city.

We were searching for the cathedral where the Holy Inquisition happened, and although we couldn’t find it, it was great to experience the streets. One thing that struck me was how everyone who passed the cathedral made the sign of the cross. You’d never see something like that in the US.

Day 4: Pyramids & Roma 

On our last day, Leo’s cousins Toyi, Jorge and Beto took us to the pyramids, and they were incredible.

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We walked all around the grounds, up the pyramids, and took some incredible photos. I loved spending the time with his family and seeing history from the Aztecs!

To round out the trip, we finished our day in Roma. We ate another amazing Mexican-Asian fusion restaurant called Sesame. Roma was so cute with tons of personality, amazing restaurants, beautiful buildings, and some very detailed street art (I’m a sucker for street art).

Mexico City was an incredible experience. Not only did I feel so loved by Leo’s family, but the history, the food, the colors of the city, and the city vibe were all amazing. I am very much looking forward to going back.

Thank you to his family for the very warm welcome, and taking the time to show us around. I am so appreciative of everything you did to make our trip so memorable!

BESO!

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Bucketlist: The Tabernacle in Atlanta

Bucketlist: The Tabernacle in Atlanta

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YES! Last week I finally made it to the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is one of the items on my epic Atlanta to-do list.  I had been wanting to come to this venue because it’s a pretty epic venue in Atlanta. It’s an old church that got turned into a concert venue right in downtown Atlanta.

I love venues like this because it feels really small, and you feel really close to the show, regardless of where you are in the venue.

Plus, check out the ceiling!

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My favorite venue in San Francisco is the Warfield, and the Tabernacle completely reminded me of it because of the way the ground floor slopes up, and it’s pretty much the best place. You feel like you’re right in the middle of everything.

The 18 bit lilts opened up for Above & Beyond, and they were pretty good too.

My only beef with the show is that I went with a girlfriend to grab some beers, and they closed off the ground floor even though Leo and our friend, Prateek, were there! It’s kind of bizarre because people aren’t mean or pushy at those types of shows… It’s not like you’re going to get knocked out in a mosh pit. Lesson learned – I won’t be leaving the floor before the main act comes on.

Anyway, the Tabernacle was awesome. I’ll be back for sure!

 

Photos: Courtesy of Above & Beyond’s Facebook page and the Untz.

 

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Throwback Thursday!

Who doesn’t love a solid #tbt? It has taken me a while to get these photos uploaded to my computer, but I finally got them thanks to my AWESOME sister who collected them for a slide show she put together during our engagement party!

Here are some real gems (with commentary, of course).

Throwback Thursday!

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Leo riding his first bike in ’89. Check out those sweet kicks!

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Looking cute with a pumpkin.

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There’s no way that life jacket would ever saved Leo if he drowned. Thank goodness he didn’t.

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The first of the hat series – this is what I like to call my “Chiquita Bonita” look. Apparently fruit and veggies can be a pattern. #fashionneverdies

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“WTF is this little thing? I think I like it…. I think I’m tired… I think I’m not sure”, Taylor at the age of 3.

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Leo’s first crush.

12Leo’s 7th birthday. Ladies loved him back then.

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Not sure if my mom brushed my hair. I’m sure she tried. I sometimes have a mind of my own. Then again, so does my hair.

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IGUANA!

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Fox hat – check. Superman shirt – check. Rabbit cookies – check.

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A sparkly super hero. Leo might kill me for this.

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Another hat photo. Thank god for this. I went through a big sunflower obsession back around ’93. The denim ensemble doesn’t disappoint either.

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AH HA! Zorro!

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Hanging out with my sis and grandpa, Poppy, in Vail for the 4th of July. I’m still nerdy.

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Yeehaw. Getting wild at Kindergarten.

34Leo has always been in touch with nature.

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Toothless sister photo.

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Mud monster on the loose!

49This could have been another 4th of July…. My mom loved putting us in matching outfits. Matching dresses, matching headbands, matching socks – no problem.

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Noel, our puppy!

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The first indication of Leo’s good driving skills.

72Exploring the pool tides with Mama Rodriguez.
73HOWDY!

75Forever in my heart <3

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Experiencing Snowmageddon in Hotlanta

Our favorite waitress at the General Muir once told Leo and I, “Atlanta is the only place where you can experience all four seasons in a week”.

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Yep. That’s an accurate description. I wish someone had told us that, like, a year ago, because “Hotlanta” is a completely innacurate description of the weather in this city. (No one here actually calls it that so maybe that was the first hint).

It should be called: “Cold and Hotlanta”, or “Radlanta”, or “Really fucking indecisive Atlanta”, or “Hotlanta with a chance of ice”, or “I like to vary by 100F Atlanta”.

Experiencing Snowmageddon in Hotlanta

Does anyone remember Snowmageddon in Atlanta last year?

Snowmageddon was this terrible thing that happened when all of the streets and freeways in ATL froze over with millions of people stuck on freeways for hours. A few of the people I work with had to sleep in the office over night because they couldn’t get out. (Although I keep saying that the bright side is that they were the first to the office the next day.)

Now, the city is completely ill-prepared for any type of inclement weather: there aren’t enough snow machines to put ice down, there really isn’t enough snow that ever sticks, 132 square miles is too big to cover (not including metro ATL)… You get the idea. There’s a number of things against us here in ATL, and the biggest problem here on top of it all,  is ice.

Being from California, I have no idea what this means. In my narrow understanding of weather, I just through there were 4 categories: sunny, fog/cloudy, rain, and snow. There happens to be a variety of different categories within snow – sleet, freezing rain, ice, snow.

I know ya’ll are probably laughing at me, but there you go. I had no idea.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve started to experience some of this wonderful “inclement” weather, and to be honest, it’s pretty crazy. For example, I work 11 miles from the office – which in ATL traffic can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour – and when I left home it was raining, but by the time I got to work, it was snowing. Just 11 miles and a complete weather change.

Anyway, I FINALLY got my first snow day (WOOOOO!), which was the most anticlimactic snow day ever. We got released around 2pm so we could be on the road before the temperature dropped below freezing. There was freezing rain and huge snowflakes when I left, but then it stopped falling.

Thank goodness Verizon had our global emergency response team “actively monitoring the situation”. It was dramatic, yes. But compared to other businesses or schools, it was probably on the less dramatic side.

Emory, along with all the schools, completely shut down for 2 days. The governor declared a state of emergency, and there was No snow on the ground, no storming within the perimeter, but everything was shut.

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Luckily I came home to a very prepared fiancé….

So there you have it. We survived our first ice storm, and we got to enjoy some great wine for our first snow day.

While I laughed at everyone freaking out about the weather, I do have to say I’m very grateful for the precautions because no one wants to spend 9 hours stuck on I400. Atlanta freeways are already a god-awful place.

I know we are not out of the clear quite yet, but here’s to hoping that we warm up quickly in March. Bring me that heat!!

In the meantime, best of luck to everyone in the Midwest and Northeast.

 

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