Weekend Adventures Part 2: The Old Operating Theatre

For someone who shudders at the thought of blood and can't stand talking about anything medical, I think it's pretty ironic that I ended up marrying a surgeon. When we read before bed (because yes, we're old), I'll be engaged in something by Judy Blume while he's engrossed in something called The History of Blood and Guts (probably not the exact title but I swear it was something like that last week…) Often times he'll interrupt my reading with, "Do you know how they used to [insert something medical here]?" And the answer usually causes a vile reaction on my end.

So, naturally, when I told him I was taking him to London to celebrate his birthday last weekend, his only request was that we go to the Old Operating Theatre. All I know about this place is that it's where they used to do surgery without anesthetics (so, ew), but everyone knows you can't say no to the birthday boy.

After our walk around Portobello Market, we headed near the London Bridge to check it out. It's one of the oldest in Europe and is housed in the Herb Garret of St. Thomas Church. It used to be part of the old St. Thomas Hospital.

Visitors have to enter a super narrow spiral staircase that seems like it's never ending, especially when you're surrounded by people in front of and behind you and you're claustrophobic. I wondered if that's how patients had to enter and exit the building (because coming out of surgery and having to do this would be pretty uncomfortable), but there was another entrance that they went through thank goodness.

Can you sense my excitement?

The first room you entered once you made it into the museum was the roof of the church, and it smelled delicious since it was filled with herbs. The space was used by St. Thomas' Apothecary to store and cure herbs.

Spotted: A skeleton surrounded by herbs

This display of an old amputation set kind of made me want to faint at first, but then I just became super thankful that medicine has come such a long way since then. This was before they even knew what germs were so doctors would do operations without gloves and with dirty hands. Could you even imagine?!

The set contains: 1 saw, 2 spare blades, 2 forceps, tweezers, bone shears, 5 amputation knives, 0 anesthetics

Weekend Adventures Part 1: Portobello Market

A few weeks ago, I met my friend Lauren in London, and she took me to her old stomping grounds in Notting Hill. It was later in the day, and unfortunately we had just missed all the action of Portobello Market. "You have to come back and experience it," she told me.

So that's what I did on Saturday! Christopher and I boarded the Oxford Tube and headed to London bright and early (I mean, 9ish) to experience the bustling street market for ourselves.

The market stretches for about two miles on Portobello Road which is in the heart of Notting Hill. On Saturdays, street vendors set up shop and the crowds swarm the displays of antiques, new goods, and delicious food. I used to go to work in Times Square every day and can say that there were more people on this one street than the Crossroads of the World (except for on New Years Eve... that's just ridiculous.)

I spy Christopher in the crowd.
We went in with the goal of buying an antique tea pot to take back to the States with us. We've been trying to buy something from everywhere we go, but are quite possibly the worst shoppers ever and have only bought one official keepsake from our travels so far: a painting in Paris. We failed yet again and did not leave with a tea pot this time. But there were a lot of really great ones all over the market (another reason why I'm embarrassed we're so bad at this...)

So many choices!
This antique doll house was one of my favorites things I saw all day. I secretly wanted to play with it all day but Christopher wanted to keep going, and also I'm 30. Sigh...

Which room would you choose?
Then we came across some old-timey cameras--they were cool, but not Instagram friendly.

Say cheese!

New York, I Love (and Miss!) You...

When you live in New York, being away from the city for even just a long vacation leaves you feeling antsy and out of your element. You mean to tell me not every place in the world has cab drivers who tell you the meaning of life and all-you-can-drink brunch? It's been over seven months since I had to blatantly ignore the Mariachi band on the subway during my commute to work (anytime but morning guys… come on!) or wait in a line that wrapped all the way around the block at Trader Joe's (sometimes you just gotta stock up…), but quite frankly, I miss it.

Here are some other things about NYC that have me a little homesick for the best city in the world:

1. Dunkin' Donuts -- This one goes out especially to the adorable worker who always greeted me with a smile before work, had my iced coffee order ready without even asking me before I got to the checkout, and sometimes threw a free donut at me. I miss her so much! <3

2. Street Performers -- From the breakdancing teens who create a crowd so big you have to walk out of your way (I'd be annoyed if Michael Jackson wasn't blasting from the boom box…) to the jazz player outside your office providing some fun background noise for your afternoon project, there's culture everywhere you turn.

3. Five Dumplings For a Dollar -- Enough said…

Our First Snow in Oxford!

I know this post will mean nothing to any of you reading from the Northeast or Chicago, but I am so excited to say we finally had our first snow in Oxford! Each morning, I wake up and open the curtains in our bedroom, taking a moment to look at the view. Quite often it's rainy or dreary (although it's sunny more times that I imagined it would be.) But today, without warning, I looked out onto this!

Seeing the snow made me want to do my happy dance a little longer this morning.
Since Christopher's at work all day today, I decided to take a field trip to the park by myself to take it all in. Apologies for the lack of quality in the pics. I took them with the camera on my cheap replacement cell phone, so needless to say they're not the best. But it'll give you a sense of our neighborhood park!

Our miniature golf course
This is the path in the park I cut through multiple times a week to get to the local cafe.
There are little walls like these all over Oxford. It makes it feel so charming every time I walk by one.
Our local library where we feed our reading addictions.
This playground is awesome. It has a zip line!
Just to give you an idea of how green the grass is here--even in the winter!
Tonight, we already had grilled cheese sandwiches and creamy tomato soup on the menu so it couldn't have been more perfect!

Hope you're staying warm wherever you are!

Weekend Adventures: Stuttgart, Germany

When I was younger, my grandpa would write me letters, and parts of them would be in German--just for fun. I'm sure he would have been excited to hear about this next trip if he were still alive today. On Friday, we took an hour and 15 minute flight from London Heathrow to Stuttgart, Germany to visit my friends Elise and Truett, who I know from working on the college yearbook. They're doing something similar to us, but they've been living abroad for a little longer. We're so lucky to have had this experience with them (and finally meet their three adorable little boys!)

The day started as soon as we touched down at the Stuttgart airport at 11:30 am. We headed to their house for a yummy lunch of goulash (this isn't the exact recipe, but one I found that looks pretty good.) Then, we headed to the Porshe Museum where Christopher deepened his desire for one (I told him if he started saving right now, he might be able to get one during his mid-life crisis down the road….)

We also checked out a German grocery store. I don't know why, but I'm obsessed with looking at the different foods and brands at supermarkets around the world. I had a little tour guide to show me around the store (and we were on a mission to find the candy aisle, obvs.)

His compass brought us right to the chocolate.
That night, we went to a cute restaurant and ate Flammkuchen, which is a German-style pizza! I went big and ordered one with sausage and sauerkraut (when in Germany…) It was delicious. We also ordered a pitcher of German beer. Here, they clink the bottom of their glasses, look everyone in the eyes, and say, "Prost!" when toasting.

I wonder how the Germans would say, "Go Bulldogs!"?
The next day, we left the kids at home with a babysitter and visited the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial. It was something no one "wants" to see but something that should be done. Our tour guide put it into perspective: while we're never going to understand why or how someone could do this, it's our responsibility to educate ourselves so that we can prevent it from happening again. She said that after the camp was liberated in April of 1945, the US armed forces made all of the residents in the town of Dachau pay a visit the camp to see what was really going on. The stories and images were extremely emotional and impactful. There are no words for a lot of the things we heard and saw.

The Results Are In! Looks Like We're Going To....

Thanks to all of you who helped us choose our anniversary trip destination in last week's poll. We had over 60 votes, and it looks like we have a winner:

We're looking forward to Italy! It came in first place with 24 votes. Greece followed closely behind with 17. Iceland came in third with 13, and Dubai got 6. We also got two write-ins, one suggesting Ireland and the other suggesting Lafayette, Louisiana (Dad, was that you? :P)

So, now comes the fun part of planning. Actually, I take that back-- I hate planning. I wish we could just crowdsource the whole trip, but that would require me doing even more research. Instead, if you've got any recommendations of where to go or what to do, please share in the comments below! Basically, my only requirement is that we eat carbs for every meal, which shouldn't be a problem hopefully.

Of course, we're still planning on going to Greece, Dubai, and Iceland at some point in our lives (and yes, Dad, I'm coming to see you soon, too!)

Crowdsourcing Fun: Help Us Plan Our Anniversary Trip!

After months of debating where we should celebrate our first wedding anniversary, Christopher and I are at a standstill. Every day, we change our mind. One minute, we fantasize about drinking wine and eating delicious pasta in Italy, the next, we see ourselves sipping on cocktails while lounging on the beach somewhere exotic like Dubai. It's gotten to the point that we want to just relinquish our power to decide and instead put it in your hands :)

And that's what we're going to do today. Will you help us choose where to go in April? Here's where we're thinking (but of course if you feel passionate about someplace else not on the list, please let us know!)

What we love about this idea: Pasta, bread, wine, romance.

What we love about this idea: Islands, scenic landscapes, gyros, warmth.