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Thursday, October 31, 2013

His & Hers Gallery Wall

It’s finally done! I feel like I’ve been working on this gallery wall forever!

When I first started planning the room I really wanted to make the office a place my boyfriend and I could both enjoy. Since we decided to build one long desk to share (more details here), I figured that would be the perfect place to incorporate both of our interests. So I decided to hang a his/hers gallery wall over the desk – items he loves on his side and items I love on my side, separated by the TV.

My boyfriend loves fishing, so on his side I hung a large fishing lure from Hobby Lobby, a picture of the lake, and an “I’d Rather Be Fishing” sign (more details here). He’s also a big Nebraska football fan, so I added a Huskers parking sign that I found at the swap meet. The number 14 sign represents his high school football number (more details here). He was the quarterback in a small town, so those were definitely his glory days.

My side of the wall has a few pieces with special meaning, but mostly they are just pretty/fun things - such as the metal bicycle from Hobby Lobby and the butterfly specimen art from IKEA. I made the Eiffel Tower wood shim art (more details here) in celebration of our Paris trip and the framed picture of the Palace of Westminster/Big Ben/Westminster Abbey is from our time in London. I finished off my side with some cute bunting because who doesn’t like bunting?!


I added our initials and an ampersand above the TV to tie our sides together. I love how it all turned out!

It’s been awhile since we looked at the ol’ to-do, so let’s see where I’m at now:

Sell old desk on Craigslist
Clean out room
Paint stripes
Replace outlets and switches with white ones
Build desk
Paint chairs 
Buy file cabinets
Cords/modem/router solution
Mount TV on the wall
Create a gallery wall around the TV
Build pallet artwork
Additional artwork
Sew curtains
Buy sleeper sofa
Buy end table
Buy dresser?
Paint dresser
Sew pillows
Add accessories 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

{Travel Tuesday} Notting Hill, The London Eye, and Abbey Road

We’re down to our last day in London =(

We started our morning at the Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill. 


It’s basically a street-long flea market. There are antique shops, souvenir booths, clothing/scarves/purses, and food stands (we had a delicious ham and cheese crepe for breakfast). It’s a fun stop and I found some great items to bring home. I already showed you one of the prints that I bought, but I also bought a hand-carved crown stamp and a brass lion-head door knocker - fun items that will always remind me of London!


We had made it the whole week in London without any rain, but our luck finally ended and we got rained on at the market. It wasn’t coming down very hard, just enough to make my hair frizzy! We finished up at the market after a couple hours and left Notting Hill and headed to the London Eye.


We lucked out and it wasn’t raining on that side of the city, so we were able to ride the London Eye with clear skies. In fact, the rain stopped for the rest of the day. We ended up buying the quick passes for the London Eye because we were feeling impatient. We boarded pretty quickly, so it was definitely worth the extra money. Although, in general, I think the London Eye is pretty pricey. 

Anyway, the view from the London Eye is amazing. You can see St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, and of course, the Palace of Westminster/Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.

I think this is my favorite picture from the whole trip.


Once we got off the London Eye, we walked down the river a bit to get one last look at the Palace of Westminster/Big Ben and take a few pictures with this amazing backdrop. 

Finally it was time for lunch – we stopped at All Bar One near the London Eye. It took a while to get our food, but it was worth it! I ordered the steak sandwich and it was one of the best I’ve ever ate! I think it was the onion chutney that made it so delicious.

After lunch we took the tube to the St. John’s Wood station to see Abbey Road.

I’m not a huge Beatles fan, but I think Abbey Road is a must while in London. Although, no one ever mentions that Abbey Road is actually a really busy road. You had to dodge traffic to make it across the street and get your picture taken, which is why this picture is kind of blurry. 


We ended our night (and our trip) at the Tower of London to witness the Ceremony of the Keys. The Ceremony of the Keys is the locking up of the Tower of London and has taken place every night for over 700 years. Tickets are free, but you have to send (by mail) a written request to get tickets. They only allow a small group (about 40 people) entry, so you have to request tickets 2-3 months ahead of time. 

I would highly recommend getting tickets because it’s very interesting. Just being in the Tower of London at night, with only a small group of people, is pretty awesome.  We ended up being the first people through the gates, so we had a great spot to watch from.   


And with that, our time in London was over! We had an amazing trip – truly the trip of a lifetime!

Next Week: Paris!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

{Travel Tuesday} Leeds Castle, Canterbury, and Dover

Today we’re heading outside of London to the county of Kent, located in the southeast corner of England.
I’m not a huge fan of big bus tours, but sometimes they are necessary to see certain places. We really wanted to see Leeds Castle, but since it’s so far outside of London we didn’t want to try to find our way there by ourselves. So we made reservations with Evan Evans for their Leeds Castle, Canterbury, and Dover tour. Of course I’m going to give you all of the details, but I want to say right now that we had a great experience and would recommend the tour. Although, I do want to note that finding the right bus at Victoria Coach Station was kind of confusing…

Anyway, our first stop was Leeds Castle. Set on 500 acres and surrounded by a moat, it’s easy to see why it’s nicknamed “the loveliest castle in the world”.
I think we were some of the first people to arrive, so we were able to walk through the castle undisturbed by other visitors.
After we finished inside the castle, we headed down to the ruins of the original building and around the moat to see the side-view of the castle (the best view by far). 
On the other side of the castle, the water is full of white swans, black swans, ducks and geese. For those of you who don’t know, I’m terrified of birds. I don’t mind ducks, but geese are pretty menacing looking so I was a little uncomfortable when they all started coming ashore. 
We still had a little time left before we had to board the bus, so I headed down through the garden, eventually crossing a field for another great view of the castle. 
Our next stop was Canterbury for lunch and a tour of the cathedral. We joined the group lunch for fish and chips, which was nice because they had our order ready when we arrived. After lunch we met up with our tour guide in front of Canterbury Cathedral. 
According to our guide, Evan Evans is the only company allowed to lead tours inside of the cathedral. They have these nifty audio boxes that they hand out and you can listen to the guide through headphones. It works out nicely because the guide can be respectful and talk quietly inside the cathedral, but everyone can still hear what she’s saying.  
We had a little bit of time left after the cathedral tour to do some shopping. A couple weeks ago I talked about how I usually suck at buying souvenirs, but I actually bought a nice necklace in the Canterbury Cathedral gift shop so I actually have a nice souvenir from our day.

One of the things I loved about this tour was the flexibility. When we arrived in Canterbury we had the option to join the group for lunch and a tour of Canterbury Cathedral or do our own thing. We chose to join the group for lunch, but ate fast so we could explore a little before the cathedral tour. Then we joined the cathedral tour, but skipped the crypts so we could do some shopping. 
Our last stop was the shores of Dover to see the White Cliffs. 
We were only there for a few minutes, but it was plenty of time to walk down to the beach and take a few pictures. They say that on a clear day you can see the coast of France from this spot, but it was cloudy so we couldn’t see it. 
Here you can see Dover Castle on top of the hill, overlooking the water. If I ever go back to England, I want to visit that castle!  
After our stop on the coast, we headed back to London. The bus driver was nice enough to stop at couple different locations throughout the city instead of just dropping us off in one spot. So while I usually try to avoid big bus tours, I can honestly say that we had a great time and would take a tour with them again. 

Next Week: Notting Hill and the London Eye!

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Craigslist Couch

Actually, the title should probably be ‘Craigslist Loveseat’ but that doesn’t flow nearly as well as ‘Craigslist Couch’. 

For the past year I’ve been searching Craigslist listings for a sleeper sofa/loveseat. I was looking for something neutral, about 6 feet long, like-new condition, and less than $400. Most of the couches for sale were either really dated/worn looking or too large for the space…or too expensive. Finally last week I came across this picture: 
At first glance it wasn’t much to look at and I almost dismissed it, but the “like-new La-Z Boy, bed never used” description and $250 price tag caught my eye. Looking closer I noticed it was 2-cushions wide (so it’d probably fit my space) and the arms had nice clean lines. So I sent an e-mail asking how long the couch was, if it was a non-smoking home, and what was under the blanket – any stains, rips, holes. The reply said it was 6 feet long, he didn’t smoke, and the blanket was just to protect the couch and the fabric was in excellent condition. It sounded perfect, but with Craigslist you never until you see it in person.  
As it turns out, the couch really was like-new and the seller was one of the nicest people I’ve ever dealt with on Craigslist! We bought the couch without hesitation and he helped us load it in the truck (it was WAY too heavy for me to lift). My boyfriend’s brother met us at our house and helped carry it into the office. And just like that – new (to us) couch!
Of course I still need to replace the throw pillows, but I love it! It fits the space perfectly! Plus it opens up into a full-size bed! It’ll be so nice to have an extra bed when we have friends or family stay over.  
And most importantly, it’s Ringo-approved! I found him sleeping on it the other night while we were all watching TV in the living room.  
And with that, I’m one step closer to finishing the office! 


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

{Travel Tuesday} St. Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace

Oh man! Today was probably the best food day of our trip, but let’s start at the beginning:
We started the day at St. Paul’s Cathedral (using our London Pass). As usual, we were there early so we didn’t have to worry about waiting in long lines or dealing with big crowds.

After listening to the audio guide for awhile, I decided I was going to climb the 257 steps to the Whispering Gallery. My mom was sick of stairs, so I went by myself. The stair case starts off wide and easy, but then it turns into a narrow, winding stone staircase. Let’s just say I was breathing hard and happy to finally reach the top.

Then my audio guide mentioned that it was only 119 more steps to the Stone Gallery, which encircles the outside of the dome. Not one to miss a photo op, I headed for the next staircase. This one was even narrower, but I made it and the views were definitely worth it. From the Stone Gallery you can see all the way from the London Eye to Tower Bridge.


It’s 152 more steps to the very top, but at that point I was sick of climbing stairs and didn’t want to wear myself out first thing in the morning…plus I still had to climb down the 376 steps I’d gone up, so I headed down. I found my mom and we finished our tour with a walk through the crypt.

Our next stop was across the river, so we headed for the Millennium Bridge. But before we crossed the bridge, we took some shots of the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral.


Anyway, back to the Millennium Bridge. You might recognize it from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie – the death eaters destroy it and it collapses into the river– a fact my mom didn’t really want to hear that while walking across it. Ha!


On the other side of the bridge is Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.  The Globe Theatre is a reconstruction of the first Globe Theatre where Shakespeare worked. A tour of the theatre was included with our London Pass, so we decided to stop in before lunch.

While we were there, they were doing a dress rehearsal for The Lightening Child (which was opening the following day). We watched for few minutes and it seemed really weird – of course the part we saw was a man dressed like a pimp teaching another man dressed like a woman how to dance…


After our tour of the Globe Theatre, we headed over to the Borough Market for lunch. I’m not going to lie - this was one of the stops I was most excited for! This girl loves food! And of course, right by the entrance is the famous Brindisa chorizo sandwich. Oh, and it’s as good as they say! We only made it a few more steps before we decided to try a duck sandwich and sangria – also delicious. You can’t go wrong with a glass of sangria at noon!

We made a few other stops along our way towards the back of the market for a toasted cheese sandwich from Kappacasein. It was cheesy, gooey, greasy goodness!


Seriously, everything we ate here was amazing!


At this point we had finished everything earlier than planned and still had some time before our Buckingham Palace tour, so we decided to head to Baker Street and see Sherlock Holmes’ home.


We didn’t go in the museum because the line was long and hardly moving, so we just took some pictures of the address plaque.


After that we took the tube towards our last stop for the day -Buckingham Palace. We got off at the Green Park Station, so we had a nice walk through Green Park to Buckingham Palace.


In front of Buckingham Palace is a statue of Queen Victoria (the longest reigning British monarch, although Queen Elizabeth is less than 2 years away from catching her).


Buckingham Palace is only open to visitors for couple of months in the summer. Unknowingly we planned our trip during that time period, so we were able to tour the inside of the palace!


At the end of the tour you exit through the back of the palace to the lawn and garden cafe. The massive lawn, lake and trees definitely do a good job masking the fact that you are right in the middle of busy London.


We had to be up early the following day to meet our tour group, so after a full day of food and sightseeing we called it quits and headed off to dinner and our hotel. 

Next Week: Leeds Castle, Canterbury, and Dover