Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Reading List


Even though I have always loved reading.. summer reading lists in school were always procrastinated until the end of the summer. I have always admired people who kept an organized list of what they wanted to read, but have never been able to make a system stick. I love reading and read quickly but a lack of organization has lead to big gaps between books not knowing what should come next. So a week or so my in-laws ordered me two books and then I got a few more the next day. I figure if I physically have another book to start reading I'll keep up my progress. (Maybe explaining this is totally boring.. haha!)

I'm really excited about the books that I've chosen!

The Duck Commander Family I've never seen a single episode of Duck Dynasty.. but this family intrigues me! And this book came highly recommended. I purchased the second book for the same reason. 

The Women of Duck Commander 

Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke I also never saw the video on this topic that went viral a while back. But the idea of reading the book was intriguing to me.

Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford Ben has started reading parenting books, even though we're not in that season of life yet. He reads them and loves them and I decided to jump on the bandwagon and get some information early. 

The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle Before we got married, I read tons of books about marriage and tucked it away for the future... and that's where it's stayed. I decided I really wanted to pick up a few marriage books to really be reminded or what I'm called to live out on a daily basis. 

Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle Ditto Parenting book.

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller Ditto Marriage book. 

What have you been reading? Have you read any of these books? Any other recommendations to add? :)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Straders in Europe: London (Day Three and Four)


Let's start off day 3 with this smiling face!!!

First on our list for the day was going to Kings Cross Station to see Platform 9 and 3/4. I read all of the Harry Potter books starting in third grade and have seriously read them a million times. For a long time, before the 4th book and so on.. the 3rd was my favorite. I lost count after reading it 17 times. I promise I had friends I just loved reading. Still do. Ben on the other hand has never seen a Harry Potter movie and for sure hasn't read a book. He literally had to have me explain what it was. Good thing my brother is as obsessed as I am so we texted nonstop about this experience and got to nerd out together.



I'm supposed to be showing motion like my scarf is blowing in the wind here but let's be honest there were literally 50 people waiting and seriously 4 random foreign men taking my picture too so I was shy.



I had to include a photo where you can kind of see the guy working the job of putting on people's Harry Potter scarves. He had the best sense of humor ever and it was really funny to watch people speaking totally unknown languages taking a million pictures and confusing the workers and I truly think a youtube video about this could go viral. Hold on let me make sure that hasn't already happened.

Couldn't find it. Someone get on that! When the guy asked Ben if he wanted his photo done I quickly said "he doesn't even know who Harry Potter is!!!!" and Ben laughed and told the guy sorry and he leaned forward to us and whispered "don't tell the people in the line" and he's so funny and we'd like to be his best friend.

Then we decided to shop and of course came here:






The store was huge and unlike any one I had ever been in... the displays were so detailed. I mean look at that decorative rock chair thing.


I also loved the check out area with the stained glass and lamp and flowers. I bought a pink skirt that was a European brand that you can see the girl folding.


A goal for the trip was to try on a fascinator. Harrods was too intimidating with the thousand dollar hats and legitimate people trying them on with ball gowns so we stuck with M&S. I wanted to bring this home for all visitors of our home to try on but Ben wasn't feeling that.

We were then hungry and exhausted and ate at a cute little place called Wildwood just yards from our hotel.


This skillet baked brie was life changing. Mmmm.


Before ordering they told us we would for sure need our own orders and that ended up with wayyyyy too much food. Yikes. Still yummy though. :) Also please note the difference in amount of cheese American pizza has vs British pizza.

The next day, day four in London (day something overall) ... started with brunch at a place we had been eyeing.. Muriel's Kitchen. It was probably my favorite place to eat of the whole trip.


I was seriously in love with how this place looked. A lot of the ingredients were farm fresh.



We started off with coffee and fresh squeezed apple juice.


The baked goods looked awesome but we didn't try because we were there for breakfast!


Yum. Eggs Benedict and an Avocado breakfast sandwich. Soooooo yummy.


At this point I realize you probably don't care to know that we got a side of fruit but I will want to look back one day and remember. :)

We then scooted over to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Because everything there was design related, it was really fun.



We loved going to the wedding dress exhibit, which showed wedding attire from overtime. No photos were allowed but it was really fun!

We decided then that the perfect way to spend our afternoon would be in Hyde Park, reading our books.



It was a really relaxing and fun way to spend our afternoon. People watching was out of control.


That night we went to the Lion King.. which was amazing! I had already seen it once years ago and we had so much fun! :)

Fingers crossed I can combine more days of travel to keep there from being a million posts.. I promise they'll be over soon if this isn't your thing! :)



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Straders in Europe: London (Day Two)

Hi! This message should have gone on my last post.. but thank y'all so much for the overflow of sweet comments on our Paris photo shoot. Y'all. I've truly never been so happy with a set of images in my whole life and I felt like I was celebrating something super fun with a bunch of friends. Y'all are sweet. Prints are ordered and I can't wait to share what I ended up getting. Coming soon! :)

Our second day in London was all about knocking out those main sights. This was a day that we did a TON of walking. I miss that life. It was so fun walking so far that my calves pinched a bit, arm in arm with my hubby, navigating somewhere new. Miss you, travel life!!

However we did start the day on a double decker bus... which called for a selfie.


We had been spoiled with really warm, sunny weather on our trip so far.. and I was really excited to wear a cute outfit for some photos in front of these iconic sights. I imagined frolicking through the sun outside Big Ben, etc.

Then the sky looked like this:


Add in the wind from riding on the second story of the double decker bus, and this romper clad girl was freezing her hiney off. We weren't prepared at all. I think when packing it just seemed so ridiculous to pack anything but warm clothes when we were leaving behind 100 degree weather in Texas. This was really the only day that we had issues, simply because I left the jacket in the hotel and was wearing shorts. Yikes. No regrets, baby!!



Riding the bus was a fun way to get an overview of the city. I remembered that I always liked driving over the Tower Bridge as a little girl, and that was fun.. but little did I know that walking on it a few days later would be even cooler.


YAY! I was thrilled when we reached Big Ben. This gloom and doom photo doesn't do it justice, but this is where we hopped off the bus. It was perfect because we could walk across and take our time taking some fun photos!


The London Eye was also right where we got off... and it made us excited to go there a few days later.

I INTERRUPT THIS BLOG POST TO BRING YOU: a little something I like to call, trying to get a great photo of you and your husband taken by a random stranger


Blissfully oblivious that I am cut out of the photo partially ... and the tower is completely.


For this shot the person decided my whole body deserved a spot.. but still no clock tower.

"Oh wait did you want the clock in the photo?" "Yes!"


I call this.. "Blurry with Raindrops"


This was our closest success. Someone cooler than me could probably photoshop off the random passerby.




Then we just settled for selfies and solo shots. :)


After crossing the bridge and turning around the corner.. Westminster Abbey is right there!




BAH! Royal Wedding excitement!



Why do I love candid photos so much? :)



I feel like my possession of a British passport should keep me from taking a photo in a photo booth but whatever!! I'm not too cool!

We then huddled up in a Starbucks for a few minutes to get warm, before walking over to Buckingham Palace.


Gorge!





A girl came and asked me to take a group photo and I don't think she even realized how lucky she was to find someone who shared her desire to get all people and the sight in the same photo.

She took one for us in return. (!!!!!)



It really does look so dark and cloudy in all of these photos, but it was so pleasant when we were walking around. We loved the cooler weather!


We then hopped back on the bus and rode back to our hotel to rest before our evening plans.


On the bus ride back we got to observe something. I'll call it.. the selfie on a stick. This lady had her phone on this stick and proceeded to take selfies literally every two seconds. We could see ourselves in the background of the photo 90% of the time. I wanted to pose but Ben vetoed that fun idea. :(


That evening we attended Hillsong London. SO much fun. It was really neat for us to see likeminded worship take place in a foreign country, and to pray for the needs of the church. It felt really neat to me.

Here is a link to the service we attended- totally worth listening to!


After the service we got to go sushi and ate it in the lobby of our hotel. Honestly one of my favorite meals. We talked all about the day and the service we had attended and chowed down and the soy sauce was in little bottles so obviously that's amazing.

I am still so grateful for that day!