Saturday, December 31, 2011

Boxing Day

Everyone knows what Black Friday is in the United States.
Honestly, I was kind of bummed this year on Black Friday, being in London, and missing out on all the excitement and shopping deals in the States, since this day doesn't exist here.
But London does their own Black Friday.....
It is called Boxing Day.
It takes place on the 26th, the day after Christmas.
When I first heard of "Boxing Day," I was thinking it was like Boxing, the sport, and that maybe they had a big Boxing tournament that you watched on TV or went to.
But nope. It is like boxing, like boxing up a present.
I don't think Boxing Day is as hardcore as in the states for Black Friday.
Like, there aren't people camping out the night before, or even two days before just so they can get their deals, but people line up about 3 hours before the doors open.
The stores also open a little later than in the states.
No 3AM, or 5AM deals, but it is more like 9AM, which is nice to sleep in a little.
Here is what Wikipedia says about Boxing Day-
"Boxing Day is traditionally a day following Christmas when wealthy people in the United Kingdom would give a box containing a gift to their servants. Today, Boxing Day is better known as a bank or public holiday that occurs on December 26. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and some other Commonwealth nations. Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much like the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price reductions. For many merchants, Boxing Day has become the day of the year with the greatest revenue. In the UK in 2009 it was estimated that up to 12 million shoppers appeared at the sales."
Nate and I decided to check it out and see what this day was all about.
We got to the shops around 10ish and it was crazy!
There were so many people, body to body on the sidewalks,
that it was a struggle to get anywhere.
A lot of the stores would make you wait in a little line to enter different corners of the stores that would be roped off, just to keep things more orderly and civil.
There were some great deals though! Holy crap!
London is usually so expensive, but on Boxing Day, prices are great!
This is definitely the day to shop!
Here is my favorite find of the day:
Dressy Black Leather Boots to the Knee
What made these boots stand out to me was the bow and the button on the sides. Love that!
And they fit me perfectly, seriously like they were made for me.
So comfortable and easy to walk in.
Nate actually found them for me and said,
"You got to try these, they are definitely your style."
He is super good at finding cute things.
This is Nate's favorite find of the day:
A Charcoal/Black Suit
After going to many different stores, trying on lots of different styles, cuts, and shades,
Nate finally chose a suit that he loved at Selfridges, and for a screamin good price.
Boxing Day is the best day to buy a new suit because they are around 50-60% off!
As we were walking home, the traffic of people started to get really congested, even more than usual. Some people were turning around and coming the opposite direction. It was a nightmare trying to fight your way through. When Nate and I finally got to the front, we realized that there were a bunch of policemen and the whole section of the sidewalk and the road were roped off. It was right in front of the Disney store. We realized that it would probably be a while before we got through, so we turned around and went a different way.
The next day, Nate was reading the news, and he saw that there was a stabbing on Oxford Street the day before right in front of the Disney store!
We realized that that was why it was all blocked off.
We felt very blessed that we hadn't gotten there any sooner
and witnessed it or been involved in it in any way....
But yeah, we got home safely and everything was fine.
We had alot of fun shopping and experiencing our first Boxing Day in London.
Later that afternoon, we went over to Heather and Steven's
for leftover Christmas food/goodies, and games and movies.
Happy Boxing Day!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Day!!!

Christmas Day turned out to be lots of fun this year.
Since Christmas was on Sunday this year, of course we had church....
but in London it is kind of difficult to get to church when all the public transportation is closed!
Yes, all the buses, trains, tube stations, everything, closes down on Christmas.
You are stuck finding your own transportation method.
And since owning a car here is a luxury,
we thought that church was not in the cards for us for Christmas Day.
But our Bishop told us that if we could rent a car
that the funds would come from the ward budget!
So that is what we did.
There weren't that many cars left by this point, booking it so last minute,
so poor Nate had to walk about 2.5 miles each way to go and get the one and only car available.
Talk about getting your morning workout in early! :)
He picked me up, then we went and picked up Heather and Steven,
and off to church we went!
There were actually a lot of people there which I was surprised about
because lots of families are out of town for the holidays,
but they combined our ward, Whitechapel, and the Lea Valley Ward, so it was pretty packed.
It was nice to see everyone on Christmas, sing Christmas carols,
and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, our Savior Jesus Christ.
Then we headed over to Heather and Steven's house for Christmas brunch!
We had cinnamon rolls, quiche, sausages, OJ, and crepes with all the fixins- maple syrup, nutella, bananas, strawberries, mascarpone cream cheese filling, spray whip cream, and chocolate sauce.
It came together perfectly and was a super yummy brunch!

Nate and I had decided not to get each other Christmas presents this year as a way to save money. We had talked about it about a month before Christmas. So I stick with what we decided and don't get him anything, but of course he cheats and gets me a present.
He then posted on Facebook later that night....
"My wife "forgot" to get me a Christmas present this year.....Sad."
Lots of people made comments about how sad that was, and how thoughtless I was, and my cousin even said that I reminded her of her ex-husband which was a slap in the face.
One friend said, "Mikelle would never forget that! I am sure she will surprise you with something really big and great tomorrow!" Thanks Ash.
They didn't know the truth of the matter, that's all.
Nate goes and makes me look like the bad wife when I was just sticking with what we decided!
Anyway......
I loved my present.
I had been eyeing it for a while every time I walked through Covent Garden shops....
A "London Loves Me!" sweatshirt!
I love it!
So cute how the "L" is Big Ben, and the "Me" is a red double decker London bus!
I wore it the next day of course.
Now I know that when Nate and I talk about not getting each other presents to save money,
that he is just joking and being silly. He doesn't really mean it.
He actually means the opposite of what he says.
Now I get it.....
Kind of like a girl when they are asked "Do you want to talk about it?" and they respond "No." But they really mean yes, but just want you to keep on asking them and give them attention before they finally talk about it.
Girls are complicated like that.
Or when a husband asks his wife that has been giving him the silent treatment
for the last hour if she is mad at him, and she says, "No....."
Actions speak louder than words, and her actions say "Yes."
For girls "No," most times means "Yes."
I guess I'll figure Nate out someday. :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Eve!!!

Last year at Christmas, if someone would have told Nate and I
that we will be in London for the following Christmas,
we probably would have laughed at them, and said, "Ya, right!"
But, ya, it happened.
Nate and I spent our 2nd Christmas together as a married couple in London this year.
London is quite magical at Christmas time.
We had a lot of fun and created many memories.
Christmas Eve was spent at Heather and Steven's house.
We also had the Elders over and our friends Maryanna and Gamzat from Kazakhstan.
Gamzat is in the same Master's program with Nate at LSE.
6 Christians and 2 Muslims....it was really fun!
The night consisted of:
Dinner, Christmas message, White elephant gift exchange,
Dessert, and Gingerbread house decorating!
Rock, Paper, Scissors war to see who gets to go first in the White Elephant gift exchange!
Heather and I were the final two, and then I beat her after 2 trys. Sorry Heather. :)
I guess we didn't explain the rules of the game too well to our Kazakhstan friends....
Instead of bringing one present from each of them, so two presents total,
they brought a present for everyone at the party!
They knew there were going to be eight people there,
so they brought eight presents.
We felt so bad!
Next time we will be more clear. :)
Heather got the best present of all!
A banana holder for her lunchbox, and a back scratcher/shoe horn!
Elder Park and his present went together perfectly.
He got a rice bowl with an Asian person on the front.
He was excited because he LOVES rice!
Big Ben piggy bank for Elder Tingey.
This was the present that I brought......
and also the one that I stole at the end!
Since I was the person to go 1st,
I got the chance to go again at the end.
So, I stole my present back!
Now Nate can give to head massages all of the time!
I am sure he will excited about that one....
Even Elder Park loved it!
Gingerbread Houses!!!
This is a tradition that the Young/Simon family does every year.
Our Kazakhstan friends had never heard of decorating gingerbread houses before so it was fun to see them do it for the first time. They actually didn't know much about Christmas at all or why we celebrate it. The Elders were able to give a Christmas lesson to explain about the birth of Jesus Christ and why we celebrate Christmas. We also explained to them about the usual holiday traditions such as Santa coming down the chimney, filling stockings with toys and goodies that are hung from the fireplace, leaving cookies and milk out for Santa and carrots for Rudolph.... They didn't know about any of this!
It was so interesting to realize that not everyone in the world celebrates Christmas like we do.
Somethings so obvious to us, aren't really that obvious to everyone.
Different people have their own beliefs and own holidays that they celebrate.
But, they loved every second of the party.
They kept on making comments like,
"I feel like I am in a movie or something! This is so much fun!"
They also explained about some of their holidays and celebrations that they take part in in their country and with their Muslim religion.
Our finished product!
When the Elders were just about done with their house,
it completely broke and fell!
It was pretty hilarious.
Elder Park is from Korea and Elder Tingey is from Las Vegas.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ostrich Burgers and Mini Churros

Ostrich Burger....

Supposedly higher in protein and lower in fat

than beef, turkey, or chicken burgers.




The verdict....they loved it!


and mini churros with chocolate dipping sauce....



Very tasty!


Nate and I and Steven and Heather

went to a Christmas market by the River Thames.

They had different booths and vendors and Christmas-y type of decor.

But the best part was these fun foods that we got to try.


Happy Christmas Adam today Everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Borough Market!



I think I found my favorite market in London.

It is called Borough Market!

It is right off of the London Bridge tube stop and is definitely worth going to.

I know I will be going there at least once a month from now on.

Loved it.

The whole market is a food market. It is catered for people who love food, like me.

There are different vendors with all of these homemade, gourmet foods to sell.

I was in heaven with all the samples, and tastings.

It blew Costco samples out of the water. :)




Bread.

There was lots and lots of bread.

Not just any bread, but good, chewy, fresh, European bread.

We were lucky that we were there towards the end of the day, because they were doing buy 1 loaf get 1 loaf free. So we jumped on that deal and got a walnut bread loaf and a sourdough loaf.




Chocolate.

I mean, who doesn't love it right?

And European chocolate is made in heaven, it is so good.

This place sold boxes of chocolates and normal goodies...

but the cool thing was that they sold "mis-shaped bags" of chocolates that were mess ups from the factory that couldn't be sold normally.

So they bagged them up and sold them for a great price.

It is a gamble, because you don't know what kinds are in your bag when you buy it.

"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get."

Our bag had some chocolate hazelnut centers, seafoam, chocolate ginger and others.


Cheese.

Fresh, organic, yummy, cheese.

This place knows how to make some good cheese.

They gave us this sample that was divine.

They took a certain kind of cheese and grilled it with salt and then cut off little pieces for us to try. Wow. It was kind of crispy on the outside but gooey in the middle. So good.

They also were making grilled cheese sandwiches with their cheese,

so we bought one and shared it.

Yum!


Nate enjoying his fresh gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.


Fudge.

Funny story...

Most of the booths here have samples.

You just go up and help yourself, take one, and be done.

So I go up to this booth, grab a piece of fudge and eat it.

Nate turns me around and says, "What are you doing? You just stole that! That wasn't a sample!" I told him that I thought it was a sample, and that it looked like a sample.

I guess I got a little too excited.

Nate told me that the guy working there saw me take it.

I was embarrassed and started walking away.

Nate was polite and bought some from the guy to make up for his wife stealing some.

You know me....such a thief! :)

So Nate came back with a little baggy of different kinds of fudge for us to try.

Kind of a waste of $ too, cause the piece I "stole" wasn't even that good.

My mom's fudge is ten times better.













Here are some more pictures of the different booths.

They had everything you could imagine!

I only wished that my stomach and my wallet were bigger so I could have bought more things!

They had pies, tarts, jams, mustards, syrups, granola, licorice, meats, jerkies, cookies, cakes, candies, pastries, currys, homemade pastas, salsas, baklavas, Turkish delights, hummous, etc....

The list goes on and on.

Burough Market with definitely be seeing me again soon.

And I will try not to "steal" this time....

but I can't make any promises.