Life in London: Seven Days In

It’s officially been a week since Amity and I moved in to our flat!

The first few days in London were a bit disorienting.  Getting in to our flat was like a big sigh of relief, but pretty soon that gave way to wondering where exactly we were and what to do with our empty rooms.  Little by little, we’ve been furnishing good old Flat 12 and finding our way around our new neighborhood in a new country.  Here are some of the everyday little things in my new British life that are making me smile:

1.  My little milk frother.


Okay, I’m jumping the gun to say that I love this guy, because I’ve forgotten to get batteries for him yet.  So I haven’t actually frothed any milk.  But I’m quite sure that he’ll do the job admirably once he’s powered up, and I can’t wait to have “fuzzy coffee,” as my mom calls it!  Also, I think it’s funny that his name is Groggy.

2.  Our slowly-growing kitchenware collection.



It’s a little sparse at this point.  Our kitchen came unfurnished except for appliances (or whitegoods, as they call them here!).  However, a few trips to IKEA and it’s coming along.  Amity and I are unreasonably enamored with our mint green dishes, and I think our motley crew of glasses and mugs just looks charming in the cupboard.  Speaking of that, let’s have a quick moment of silence for the teal water glass (bottom left) that I broke while jumping off my desk to swat a giant mosquito from the ceiling.  All in the name of safe sleeping, folks.

3.  This stuff.


Dairy is so different here.  There’s no half&half (Brits stick to milk OR cream – none of that waffling in the middle nonsense).  Milk is skimmed, semi-skimmed, or whole, and cream is single or double.  Greek yogurt doesn’t appear to be as much of a thing as it is in the US.  Our little Tesco express, the mini supermarket right around the corner, doesn’t have a huge selection, so maybe I’d find more at a larger store, but I did happen upon this “proper organic bio live yogurt” which is absolutely heavenly.  It tastes like the actual yogurt version of Surfin’ Spoon’s Honey Vanilla Greek flavor, which is ridiculously incredible.  I’ve been having it with cereal and blueberries almost every morning.

4.  The fact that our fridge is the long-lost brother of our fridge in New Zealand.

nz june 083IMG_2242

On the left, meet Mr. Fridge Face, the frosty friend of Flat O119 in Christchurch, New Zealand.  This guy brought us endless amusement with his goofy expression, and my flatmates and I can generally still be found doing “the fridge face” whenever we Skype with one another.  It’s a sight to behold, I assure you.  On the right, the dashing gentleman in white is our as-yet-unnamed refrigerator in Flat 12, London, England.  I mean, I get that the magnets-as-eyes really add to the illusion, but it’s hilarious either way.

5.  British money.

uk money

I actually had to line all the coins up like this the other day to figure them out once and for all (the notes [bills] are easy enough).  I love that they have one-pound and two-pound coins, like they did in NZ dollars.  The thing that was throwing me off was that the five pence coin looks exactly like a US dime.  I had more than a couple of awkward cash register moments in my first week here.  “Five pounds ten.”  “Here you go!”  “…five pounds TEN, miss.”  “Oh, sorry… um… this one?”

6.  Profiteroles.


Finally, I know what these things are!  I always wondered what Jemaine meant when he said “Could’ve said something nice about my profiteroles.”  Actually, I used to think he was saying “professor rolls.”  And yes, I talk about Flight of the Conchords a lot.  Anyway, profiteroles are basically magical, magical cream puffs.  These ones were inexplicably called Billionaires Profiteroles.  I’m not sure why, but I suspect it might be because of the nugget of pure gold on top of each one.  Just kidding, that was spongy weird stuff, like hokey pokey gone stale or something.  Still yummy.

So that’s it!  No big adventures today.  No grand tours or mountain climbing or sightseeing at the mo – just a collection of the little things in life that are making me happy and making London feel a little more like home each day.

What are you loving lately?

Work This Out

Why yes, I am referencing this:

I am definitely too old to have been into High School Musical, but it happened.  Can I still do that fancy footwork from the chorus?  Yes I can.  Penny, since you read this now, I expect you to choose the most embarrassing moment possible to call me out on this at work.

Anyway, as those of you who are my mother already know, I have been hittin’ it hard at the gym lately.  This is partially because Abby and I are running the Color Me Rad race in Richmond next month and we want to finish it with relative ease so that we look super cool and not like hot sweaty messes in our epic race photos.


I like the stoic man in the yellow shirt in that picture.  He is not having it with those Color Me Rad shenanigans.  Color Him Mildly Amused.

So the other reason I have continued to hit it hard is that I’ve gotten hooked on some of the awesome group fitness classes that my gym has!  I had tried a couple before but never attended regularly.  I started going a lot more in January because one of my good friends from work introduced her own new strength and circuit training class (called Xhilarate) and did a couple weeks of “demos” with us before she premiered the class to the general public.

I was always a little hesitant to try group fitness classes because, even though it’s counterintuitive, I felt like I should be in super shape already before starting so I could keep up with everyone.  Basically, I was just self-conscious about working out in groups and not knowing what I was going in for.  Honestly, I’m so glad I bit the bullet and tried it because these classes are probably the most fun I’ve ever had working out!

Through Xhilarate, I was also introduced to a workout class called Dance Body Boot Camp, which combines ballet barre fitness, weights, and resistance training.  Despite the name, there’s no dancing involved.  It’s this kind of stuff:


It’s pretty hard.  The technique is something I was totally unfamiliar with because I have no ballet background at all, but it’s an incredible workout.  I love it so much that I asked the girl who teaches it if she would give me a little lesson on the theory and technique behind it so I’d be able to work out DBBC-style on my own when I leave for grad school.

And that’s actually the main point of this post: she one-upped my request and said she’d train me as an instructor!  That will provide me with such a great knowledge base to keep doing barre workouts once I leave the OBX.  I’m not going to be teaching here at all, but I’ll have the training and ability to do so if the possibility were to arise somewhere else!

So up until a few days ago, “fitness instructor” was pretty far from my list of ambitions, but I’m really excited about this new opportunity!  Anything that will set me up to be happy and healthy as I move on to the next stage in my life is probably a good idea.  And hey, it’s grad school, so there’s a good chance I’ll be eating ramen noodles exclusively.  A little more exercise couldn’t hurt.

Do you take group fitness classes?  Any faves?  Any other HSM fans out there?  Oh, just me?  Okay, cool.

Harlem Shakin’

Have you guys seen these Harlem Shake videos that are the latest thing to take over the internet?  I hadn’t until last week, because ever since graduating college I’ve gotten exponentially lamer by the second (seriously, Evan teaches me new abbreviations every time we talk).  Anyway, the basic concept is that it’s a dance video that is super easy to replicate, which is probably why it’s taken off so quickly.  One person wearing a helmet dances by themselves, then a lot of people wearing crazy clothes dance around really spastically together.  That’s literally it.

I think this is the original:

But here are a couple other good’uns.  Here’s a Norwegian army troop:

And some random office workers:

The best part is finding the most random “dance move” in the group, like the person flopping around in a sleeping bag in the army one or the dude punching the inflatable giraffe in the office one.  This is why people say our generation is getting stupider.

But you know what?  Sometimes it’s fun to wear weird costumes and dance around with your friends.  And it’s even more fun when you get to dance around on the tallest sand dunes on the east coast!


A few of us grabbed the goofiest clothes we had and headed over to Jockey’s Ridge yesterday to Harlem Shake it with the local radio station, who was organizing the whole shebang.  We parked, confused a lot of drivers by crossing the street in our getup, and climbed the dunes.

This was for sure the weirdest little parade I’ve ever been a part of.  I wish I’d gotten a picture of the dog wearing a Jack Sparrow wig.


Then the Easter bunny went paragliding by real quick:


And then it was time to shake! 

I’d give the radio people an A+ for enthusiasm and about a C for execution. We all agreed that the effect would have been way cooler if everyone had spread out on the dunes and they’d shot from below – we could’ve filled up the entire area with crazy dancers! But they wanted us sort of lined up in one place, and it was their plan, so we rolled with it.

The only one of us you can really see well is my friend Chris, way in the background of the video.  He’s the one in the cow costume, naturally.  If you look close, you can catch a glimpse of me a couple of times, all the way over to the left next to the beach umbrella.  Just look for my sombrero.

In the end, you can hardly see anybody except for the people in the front row, which was the big problem with this setup.  But I repeat: it was still fun to dance around on the dunes with my buds on the nicest day we’ve had in weeks.


It’s days like this that make me appreciate my beach life so incredibly much.  There aren’t many places where adults are allowed to act like this!  Shake responsibly, my friends.

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