The Purchase That Changed Our Lives (In England)

For a girl who grew up in Louisiana, you'd think I'd be used to humidity, but I think England's got the bayou state beat. As I'm writing this at 8:30 am, it's 90 percent humidity outside according to Tonight, it will be 97 percent. Any more and we'll be able to swim in the air.

But the worst part about this kind of humidity is how it likes to creep into our apartment and make everything feel cold and damp. The bathroom doesn't have a vent so once you take a shower in the morning, the walls are wet for the rest of the day. When you do laundry and put your clothes on drying racks in the living room (because the dryers here don't actually dry your clothes), it can take up to two days for them to dry. And my favorite (not): getting in bed at night and feeling the damp sheets. It's disgusting.

We're definitely not the only ones with this problem. Christopher's coworkers say this is something everyone in Oxford deals with. And, we were at dinner the other night at our neighbors' and noticed their apartment was much warmer and less damp than ours. Jealous, I asked them their secret. Greg came out of the bedroom with a jug of water from his dehumidifier and said it was the second time they had emptied the tank that day.

So, we decided to break down and finally buy one of these machines that removes moisture from the air. Thanks to Amazon Prime, we got it the next day. It put us back around $200 (blah), but it was so worth it!

We've had it running for less than 12 hours and it's collected almost two liters of water. TWO LITERS! Can you imagine two liters of water floating around a tiny one-bedroom flat? It's made all the difference in the world. I couldn't fathom living here without one for the rest of the year.

So, if you're planning to move to England, my advice for you: buy a dehumidifier the second you get here. You will thank me later!

Have you ever bought anything that seriously changed your quality of life like this so quickly?

This is How Oxford Drinks Beer

Last week, we met up with some new friends at the Oxford Beer and Cider Festival. When I think of a beer fest, I picture outdoor tables and perhaps a less refined atmosphere. But this one was a little different from ones I've attended before. It took place at the town hall, a beautiful historic building dating all the way back to the Victorian era in 1897. Drinking beer under gorgeous chandeliers and large paintings of old and (presumably) important men was quite the experience!

Still one of the weirdest things for me to see is 18-year-olds drinking legally, but I'm getting more and more used to it. And even though Oxford is a college town, there's always a nice mix of undergrads and people all the way up to 100.

Most of those in our group were our age. And hilariously, a couple of them had an obsession with America. One guy, originally from Ireland, gave us a list of why he wanted to ultimately move to the US one day, based on a month in Chicago and Los Angeles a few years ago:

Fun Reads: October 17, 2014

Coming up with topics every week for this blog is sometimes tough, but there are tons of articles out there with blog prompts for this very purpose. And today, I came across one that suggested, "Write about the bravest person you know." That's easy--it's my mom. Through the years, I've written many articles about her ridiculously amazing strength when it came to fighting breast cancer when I was in high school. She is all better now, and ever the optimist, she claims it actually changed her life for the better. I feel like it changed mine too. Seeing someone you love so much go through something like that makes you never take time and people for granted again.

As you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I thought it'd be nice to dedicate this week's Fun Reads to the cause in honor of the bravest person I know.

I was super excited when Teen Vogue asked me to write an article for them about what teens need to know about breast cancer. I interviewed the founder of and actually learned a lot of things I wish I would have known when I was younger. Please share with any young girls in your life (and I promise I'm not saying that for self-promotion but because I genuinely think it's important.)

One woman wrote down a list of 45 life lessons after being diagnosed with breast cancer the day before her 45th birthday. This list is so inspiring and universal that everyone -- even those who have never even been touched by breast cancer -- can appreciate it.

You'll probably also be able to appreciate this woman's open letter about why she doesn't breast feed, which has now gone viral. It's crazy how quick-to-judge some people are before knowing all the facts.

BCAM is also about raising money for breast cancer research. Refinery29 has a good roundup of 25 cute fashion items that benefit organizations working to combat the disease.

And research is important, as you'll find in this article from the Huffington Post which shows the latest potentially life-saving findings that have been published from researchers around the world.

Have you seen or heard any other interesting stories about breast cancer awareness this month? Share in the comments below!

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25 Actually Good Movies That Are Streaming on Netflix Right Now

Gif via Giphy
Since we've been living in England, Christopher and I have survived solely on the Internet for entertainment, mainly Netflix. Since we don't have a TV in our apartment, we watch everything on a laptop. Needless to say, I feel like I've become quite an expert at what to watch on Netflix.

We're currently binge watching Friday Night Lights, and I may have to watch every episode of Friends again since it was just announced it's coming to Netflix. But, there are also great movies on there, contrary to the reputation the site has for its streaming movies.

So, I put together a list of recommendations for movies you might like, and in turn, I'd love to get your recommendation for something I might have missed (win, win!)

Movies That Make You Laugh
The Guilt Trip
Girl Most Likely
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Coming to America
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

Movies That Make You Cry
My Girl
Steel Magnolias
Life Is Beautiful
Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Movies That Have Adventure
Pulp Fiction
The Blair Witch Project
Pirates of the Caribbean
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

Movies That Make You Think
My Girlfriend's Boyfriend
Best of TEDx
New York, I Love You

Movies You Want to Watch Over and Over
Love Actually
Mean Girls
13 Going on 30
Dirty Dancing

So, anything else to add to this list? The England winter is coming, and I have a feeling we're going to need a lot more options!

Fun Reads: October 10, 2014

©Thomas Donley
This Sunday, Christopher and I will celebrating our six month wedding anniversary! I used to think it was silly to celebrate anything that wasn't a full year, but I'm excited to toast to this half milestone because these past six months have been anything but ordinary.

Tonight we're going to dinner at a cute little Oxford restaurant (I've learned you have to put the words "cute" and "little" in front of every Oxford establishment when you're talking about it). Our sweet friends Andy and Scarlett sent us a gift certificate to celebrate -- they've been married for seven years and have the most adorable little boy. I love that we have so many friends who have marriages we can look up to, and I hope that one day we can be the experienced couple that our future newlywed friends can do the same with.

Anyway, all that to say, I'm focusing on love and marriage for this week's link roundup. Enjoy!

I wrote this "Is He a Good Boyfriend?" quiz for Seventeen years ago when I was an editor there and took it the day before our wedding. I'm very happy to say Christopher passed the test (phew!)

Does the cost of your engagement ring or wedding determine if your marriage is going to last? One study says it might…

But nothing is as priceless as this story: A paralyzed woman made a goal for herself to walk down the aisle on her wedding day, and she did it! How amazing is that?

And when you're married, that automatically means you have to do a couples costume for Halloween, right? PopSugar has a 101 really cute ideas.

Finally, I laughed out loud at this Buzzfeed post "Marriage on Instagram vs. Marriage in Real Life." Too funny!

Hope you all have an amazing weekend! XOXO

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Quintessential Oxford: Punting on the Thames

ducks by boat punting in oxford
Some cute little ducks came to say hi
This weekend, we hosted our very first visitors in Oxford. My friends Emily and Chris from Shreveport, LA, made a day trip to our quaint little town on Saturday (they had been vacationing in London for a week.) Oxford is quite small but all of the fun stuff is in one area -- the city centre -- so Christopher and I planned out a day's worth of activities that would hopefully keep them entertained and make them fall in love with this place as much as we did.

On the agenda: Coffee at Queen's Lane Coffee House (the oldest established coffee house in Oxford), The Covered Market (a cute little shopping area filled with fashion and food vendors), the Museum of the History of Science (where Albert Einstein's chalkboard hangs), and a new adventure for us, punting on the Thames.

According to people we've met here, this is one of the most quintessential Oxford things you can do. The flat-bottomed boat is typically used to get around small rivers or shallow water, and requires a large metal pole (about 16 ft weighing 10 lbs) that you use to steer. We opted to steer ourselves even though you could hire someone to do it for you. I mean, what's the fun in that? We quickly found it was much harder than it looked, but it was quite a fun and hilarious experience. Note: I was the only one who didn't try steering. With little faith in myself, I figured no one wanted to end up in the water. Not only was it cold, but there was a fee for overturned boats (must happen a lot!)

We spent an hour riding on the Thames and met quite a few little ducks (see above), and got a really beautiful view of the city. I highly recommend this if you're going to visit Oxford (although, I'm not sure how fun it is when the weather is cold or rainy--we definitely lucked out.)

Weekend Adventures: Paris

Last weekend, Christopher and I took the Eurostar from London to Paris to enjoy a little romantic getaway for my 30th birthday. It was everything I expected!

Our hotel was only a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower so naturally, that was our first stop before we even checked in. We then walked around the city to soak it all in and landed at an adorable little outdoor cafe for dinner and a glass of wine. A mother and son sat next to us and in between their conversation in French, they'd strike up a conversation with us in English. The tables were so close, it felt like we were eating together anyway, so it was nice to get to know them!

The next day, we went on a walking tour (I'm now realizing this is becoming a Pennell vacation tradition.) It was nice to get familiar with the city and have someone explain the stories behind the major tourist attractions. For instance, the Pont des Arts footbridge (aka "Lovers Bridge") is a place where couples attach a padlock to the fence and throw the key in the water -- it's gotten so heavy with the thousands of padlocks that part of the bridge has actually collapsed! But one thing our tour guide pointed out that I wouldn't have known was that this bridge hasn't always been filled with padlocks. The trend on this specific spot actually picked up after a Carrie and Big scene took place there in Sex in the City. Gotta love Hollywood!

Lovers' Bridge Pont Des Arts in Paris

We spent a whole day at the Louvre and didn't even crack the surface of seeing all the pieces in it, but we did get to see the masterpieces, including the Mona Lisa. Granted, we couldn't get that close to it because of the 30-people deep crowd surrounding it, but it was worth it just to say I saw it.

A Crowd surrounds the Mona Lisa at the Louvre