Everyday Reading

October 31, 2014

London Adventures: The London Zoo

Hippo Statue at London Zoo

Pretty much there is nothing that makes my girls happier than visiting a zoo. And since we live within walking distance of the London Zoo (although, to be fair, we live within walking distance of pretty much everything in London), there was no way we could leave without making a visit.

London Zoo Map

I'd visited the London Zoo back in 2006 but my memories of it were super foggy, and Bart had never been, so we were all pretty excited, although Ella definitely won the prize for being most enthusiastic.

We lucked out with a perfectly clear and fairly warm day (the weather has been ridiculously nice this whole time), and we had the most delightful morning.

London Zoo in the Fall

It's a really beautiful zoo, with a great layout, plenty of green space and playgrounds, and tons of interesting animals. 

Birds at London Zoo

There are quite a few hands-on things, including tunnels to crawl through and then stick your head up in the middle of exhibits. I . . .did not attempt to crawl through any tunnels, thank you very much. 

Tunnels at London Zoo

There is also a little petting farm area, which Ella was thrilled about and Ani was thrilled about until she realized it included touching actual living animals, and then she was zero percent thrilled.

Petting Zoo at London Zoo

The animal structures are really well-done in that the animals seem to have a fair amount of space, but the viewing areas are set up so that you almost always can get very close to the animals and really watch them move around.

Silverback at London Zoo

And it's not the biggest zoo you've ever been to (although it's certainly good-sized), but it's laid out in such a way that it feels much larger than it really is. We spent several hours there and still didn't get to everything.

Meerkats at London Zoo

The tiger preserve is especially impressive with multiple levels of viewing and five total tigers; we spent a good amount of time watching them play around together and climb up and down the walls and splash in the ponds.

Tiger Zoo

And then, of course, tiger statues to fool around with at the end of the exhibit. We basically never miss a chance to sit on a statue. Some bloggers are into photobooths; we're into animal statues.

Tigers at London Zoo

To be honest, I love going to a zoo just about as much as the girls do - I always like reading the signs and learning more about animals, seeing how the zoo has designed the exhibits and layout, and watching my girls go totally insane over the various animals.

Ani, here, is completely absorbed by an exotic and rare. . . rabbit.

Toddlers at the London Zoo

Oh and this is the best ever carnival cut-out board ever. Bart and I have been laughing about this photo for a week.

Gorilla Cutout

Have I mentioned how much we love living in London? Almost every day, Bart and I say, "I'm SO glad we did this. It's worth every penny and every bit of effort we put in to make this happen."

I feel like we could be here another year and still not even get close to seeing everything. But we're making our most valiant effort anyway.

Parents at the London Zoo

October 30, 2014

It's Not All Visiting Museums and Jaunting Around Food Markets

I kind of can't remember what it was like to have an office with a desk (and, let's not forget, that giant unused queen bed behind me to spread out all the papers on). I just made the mistake of looking at the photos I snapped of my office back in the spring and now I'm missing that house even more than I usually do.

Now I do all my work sitting on my bed. The good news is that I have no paperwork, because basically no one has my address over here (let's not talk about how much paperwork has piled up at my parents' house while we've been gone. At least it'll give me something to do when I'm up with the girls at 4 a.m. when we get back and are all dealing with severe jet-lag).

One of the work-y type things I've been doing is writing for Conde Nast Traveler (because there is only so many travel photos you can inflict upon one single blog), and it's basically the most fun gig in the world.

In October, I wrote four posts:


And, a couple of Disney Baby posts because, what else are you going to do on a Thursday? (Besides, you know, actual productive things):

And. . .this is the face I'll be making if we get a house in Durham that has an office again. 



October 29, 2014

Black and Brown

Pregnancy Belt

Black Maxi Dress


Pregnant Style

Forever 21 Flats

Target Maternity Dress

Black and Brown

Almost a year ago, I rescued this dress from Merrick's donation pile (that's the beauty of sisters who are nearly your same size).

It's a maternity dress, but I didn't think you needed to be pregnant to wear it.

What you DID need to be, I quickly discovered, was a little bit taller. Also the sleeves were just a little too big and the neckline a little too low. Happily a seam in each shoulder fixed all three of those problems at once.

And yes, I made my mom do those seams. What other benefits are there to living with your parents for six weeks? (Aside from someone making you dinner, entertaining your kids, and watching movies with you in the evening).

The other thing this dress needs besides a couple extra inches of leg is a belt.

The fates were smiling on me when we stopped in at H&M one morning in Arizona and this belt, which was sitting on the clearance rack, marked down from a whopping $5 to $3. And then everything on that rack was 50% off the clearance price. (Needless to say, when they rang it up, it didn't take off the 50% discount and I had to be the person who said, "Um, I think you've charged me a whopping $1.50 too much for this very high quality belt here").

I finally wore it this past week and it's sky-rocketed to the top of my favorite items. Of course, now that I've discovered how much I like this dress, the temperature is probably going to drop drastically so I can't wear it again until long after my baby is born.

But, like I first thought back in January, you don't actually have to be pregnant to wear it.

Dress: Target Maternity (I can't find the same dress anymore since it's several years old, but this one and this one are similar-ish). 
Belt: H&M (similar, but not $1.50)
Shoes: Forever 21 

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