London Trip

One of the most incredible parts of my summer {and life in general} was, no doubt, my trip to Europe with one of my very best friends, Amanda.  While living in Okinawa together, Amanda and I had always wanted to take a girls trip somewhere in Asia, however, due to timing and other things always going on, we never ended up making it happen.  I'm totally fine with that, though, because we more than made up for it on this trip!

Amanda and I spent an absolutely amazing couple of weeks travelling throughout London, The Netherlands and Croatia, making some great memories.  I want to share our travels with you of course, but I've decided to break it up  into a few posts to help get the true feeling of each place.  Up first... London!

I had my first Air BnB experience in London, as we stayed with the most sweetest young family south of the city center in the Clapham area.  We rented their upstairs loft, and we had a short walk each morning to the tube station through an adorable neighborhood full of parks, coffee shops, and tall row houses. 

Everything in London that we wanted to see was somewhat spread out, which led to us spending quite a bit of time hopping on and off the underground subway {or "tube" as they refer to it}.  We did end up jumping in one of those famous little British taxi cabs one time, just to say we did.  If you ever spend more than a day in London, I would definitely recommend getting an Oyster Card for the tube - it was an incredibly easy system to use, and it just makes everything so much quicker!

Beside hitting most of the main attractions in London, our main priority was experiencing Afternoon Tea while visiting.  It's kind of our thing:)  Plus, missing out on Afternoon Tea while in London would be like missing out on swimming while in Hawaii - it's a must.  We made reservations in advance to two of our favorites {there were so many choices that it was beyond difficult to decide on just two}: Sketch + The Orangery at Kensington Palace.  While it was such a treat having tea in a gorgeous garden, at a real palace, our stand-out favorite was tea at Sketch.  What a unique place - decorated all in a powdery pink with velvet upholstery, and of course - quirky sketches adorning each of the walls.  We loved it! 

Another highlight for me was climbing to the very top of the dome at Saint Paul's Cathedral - the place where Princess Diana was married to Prince Harry.  It is an incredibly large and gorgeous building, and the Whispering Gallery inside the large dome was really cool to see as well {you can whisper at the wall in the dome, and someone all the way on the other side can hear what you whispered as the sound travels along the wall}.  It may have been 528 steps to the very top {with a lot of sweat dripping, not going to lie}, but the view of London and the Thames River from the top is amazing - especially on a clear day like we had!

The Tower of London and London Bridge were some other favorites, as well as visiting Notting Hill and the famous Portobello Market.  What an adorable neighborhood - I could have browsed the market and the streets, just staring at the colorful row houses for hours and hours!

The nightlife, the gardens, the detailed and historic architecture, the curved streets, the plethora of adorable pubs... and the generous amount of sunshine we were able to enjoy... all pleasantly surprised us!  I don't know if I'd take another trip to London unless it were for a specific reason - I enjoyed this city very much, but I got a good feel for it in the 4 days we were there.  Plus - there's just so much more of Europe to explore!! 

Thanks for following along on my journeys!


Cedar Raised Garden Beds

It's been an amazing summer, and I know I've been MIA for a good while.  Let's catch up on a few things that have been going on!  One project that we started at the beginning of the summer {we got a bit of a late start on this one} was our raised garden beds.  We've been wanting to start growing some of our own fruits and veggies but didn't really have a place for them. 

After deciding that raised garden beds was the way I wanted to go {we may have easily shifting clay soil over here in east Austin, but it is supposed to be excellent for growing things}, I found some basic ones at Home Depot that seemed easy enough to assemble.  As it turns out, Matt was more interested in building our own boxes than these pre-fab ones, so back to the store they went. 

After selecting our cedar lumber, I drew up some plans in Auto CAD {something I do on a daily basis at work}, and Matt got to cutting and assembling the boxes.  He ended up constructing 2 boxes approximately 3 feet by 6 feet in size and stapling a plastic tarp to the inside walls of each box to help keep the soil inside.  I chose a natural stain to really bring out the beauty of the cedar wood without masking it, and Matt got a little creative with his "MADE IN TEXAS" etching on the box tops.  He even went a step further and installed his own irrigation system in each of the boxes to help with watering our garden.  We keep a hose hooked up to the nozzle he installed in the sides of the boxes, and all we have to do is turn on our water nozzle to get the built-in sprinklers going.  Genius! 

After moving the boxes out to the backyard, laying newspaper on the ground {a tip from our local garden center}, and too many dirt-filled wheel barrows to count, we finally got some planting done.  Tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, okra, basil, mint, rosemary + chives are our current picks.  So far, the garden is thriving - maybe even too much!  We are thinking of building more boxes in the future, but for now, this is our first try at being gardeners, so I'm not complaining! 

This project made us start getting excited about finally using and enjoying our yard more {it's only been 3 years *cringe*}, and it has spurred us on to more outdoor projects - coming soon!