Top 10 London Essentials

As I decide how to tackle my packing project I decided to make a list of the “must haves” while I am in London. Granted a lot of things can be purchased once I get there; however, some of these items are things I just can’t risk not being able to find once I get there. 
1. Keens Toyah MJ– I was told by multiple people that Keens are the way to go when traveling by foot. Although they may not be the most stylish, especially paired with a chic pencil skirt, they will be my shoe of choice while abroad. So fellow classmates, pictures knees up please! 
2. The weather isn’t quite as warm in London as it is in Minnesota. Since when does Minnesota have better weather? Anyway, I wanted a loose fitting skirt to wear on the cooler days and on the warmer days. Although the jersey material doesn’t suit my body type 100% I think it will be worth it to have, and good thing I am not looking for a suitor!  
3. Red Trench Coat– London is rainy, and if my hair is gonna look horrible I may as well have a cute coat to go along with it!  
4. It was suggested that we bring our own sheets to the school. As this will be my only college dorm experience, and I will not use these sheets again, why not go with pink polka dots? 
5. It was suggested we don’t bring our laptops abroad. How will I ever conveniently update my blog from a rad coffee shop or pub without it? It will be coming with me. No questions asked. 
6. Harry Potter Studio Tour tickets can be purchased abroad, but since I already have mine I don’t want to forget them! I can’t wait! 
7. Asics Gel Nimbus running shoes- I need to keep working on my fitness while I am away, and what better way to see the city than by jogging through it?
8. Tums– My stomach, in most instances, is feeling a little wonky. Even on my wedding day a good friend gifted me with some before leaving for the church. So, they will be coming with me to London as well! 
9. Kipling Cross-Body Travel Bag– It is water-resistant, can store a lot of goods, and can be warn across the body for safer keeping. Seems like a win to me! 
10. Jimmy Choo Eyeglasses– My distance vision has regressed just a little since having LASIK eye surgery in 2006. In order to clearly see the theater performers in London’s West End I better not forget them.


The Perils of Packing

The first time I went to Europe was in February of 2005. I went with three friends from high school and visited London and Paris. I was a brunette, wore a ton of clothing from the Gap and was a bit skinnier than I am now. I packed two suitcases full of things I really didn’t need, and I was gone for 10 days.

Red phone booth in London. 

The second time I went to Europe I went with my then, older brother’s girlfriend, who is now sister-in-law, Georgia.  I took some notes from February of that year and down sized to one suitcase. It was September of 2005 and we visited Italy and Greece. The weather was nicer so my clothes weren’t as bulky, but mostly still from the Gap. My hair was lighter, but still darker than normal. I was gone for 14 days.

Georgia and I at the top of the Acropolis – City of Athens in the background.

This time I am going to London with high hopes of weekend trips to Scotland, Paris, Ireland and Belgium. I am packing for about 33 days, and I really don’t have any idea where to start. I will be returning to Europe as a blonde and if most of my clothes are from the Gap it is because they are severely outdated. (sadly, the Gap obsession ended when my discount did.) I will be cramming as much as possible into one, relatively normal sized, hot pink suitcase for this adventure. I am hoping I have learned a thing or two about packing over the last seven years, and won’t make any rookie mistakes. However, I have never traveled with the intent to stay some where long enough to feel like I am living there. I will have a room that I don’t need to check out of, my suitcase will be unpacked, and I will be able to receive mail from the postal service if I wanted too. The only thing really missing will be my husband and dog. Because home can’t be anywhere they are not.

Don’t Let The Door Hit You…

Last Friday was my last day at work, and although I plan on returning as a casual, part-time employee, the end of life as I know it is over. I decided that after returning from Europe having some sort of part-time income would not only be beneficial for me but also for my marriage. Justin feels really good knowing he isn’t going to be the sole earner. After all, people keep telling me the job market is horrible, and emails keep arriving stating, “Thank you for your interest in such and such position, but we have decided to pursue someone with more experience.” So, a little income isn’t going to hurt anybody!

I couldn’t leave work without a proper send off even if my return is looking inevitable due to our economy. Luckily, a few of my co-workers felt the same and decided that we needed to have a happy hour, even though we all knew it would turn into happy hours, to celebrate my departure.

Although I rarely recommend celebrating with a round of shots, let’s face it, we aren’t 22 anymore, we thought it was necessary at the time. In hindsight, it wasn’t, but we sure had a good time!

Finally, All Done!

Wow, I cannot believe I haven’t posted since February. I was doing so well for a while. The last few months have been a whirl wind. Absolutely amazing. I don’t think I could feel any more blessed than I already do. I posted in January about some exciting changes coming my way, and I am happy to report they are unfolding beautifully before me.

At the end of February my older brother and his wife had a baby girl and named her Lainey. She is by far the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen. I was shocked by the amount of love I had for such a little baby who wasn’t even my own. It scared me a little bit and made me wonder how much love her parents must be feeling.

At the end of April I turned 27. I was able to celebrate with my husband by going to see Mamma Mia at The Orpheum in Minneapolis. I received tickets, as a complete surprise, from Cities 97. I have never loved being a frequent listener so much! We had so much fun on our date night. I am a firm believer that you are never too old to celebrate your birthday.

That same week I finally, yes finally, graduated from college. What a road. I began the journey 2003. I received many W’s. I have an F on my official transcript. I often went home in the winter when I couldn’t find a close parking spot. I was on probation-academic probation. I took multiple semesters “off”. I traveled to Europe twice in one year. I moved far too much. I had many wonderful roommates that taught me so much about life and friendship. I kissed a couple of boys, yes just a couple, and they all resulted in strep throat. I learned an exceptional amount about eyeballs. I worked at the Gap and was paid in clothes. I had a beloved car named Bonnie, until it was replaced by Bonnie, and then Manny. I danced…a lot. I wore pink…a lot. I developed an aversion to vodka. I learned how to drink beer. I cried. I laughed. I was promoted. I wrote a lot of papers. I presented more in front of people than I ever thought possible. I received an Associated of Arts degree. I received a Global Studies certificate. I went on a blind date. I continued to love JT. I became a Godmother. I fell in love. I managed multiple panic attacks and kept my anxiety at bay on many occasions. I survived being “the one at home” over a year long deployment. I made amazing friends. I became a wife. I got a dog. I moved to the suburbs. I tried really, really hard. And finally…I earned my Bachelor’s degree.

And two weeks later, Justin graduated too! He graduated with his Master’s degree from Concordia College in St Paul. We are both so thrilled to be done with school and look forward to what our futures hold.