Strawberry Cakes Forever

Sometimes you just need a pink cake. I’ve never been a very “pink” girl and it could be related to having a baby girl last September… but recently I’ve been very comfortable with a rosy palate. When I saw Smitten Kitchen’s Pink Lady Cake I knew I needed to try it. I hate processed strawberry flavors but if it’s natural — and this cake is — I’m in. I ended up finding a different recipe to work off though as I wasn’t okay with THREE cups of sugar in the batter alone, and #noregrets.

Why did I bake a cake in the middle of March? I started a book club through a Facebook moms group (ed. note: it’s crazy how all of a sudden when you have a baby you’re like okay now I’m cool with new internet friends) and I hosted the first month. Inspired by the book cover’s color motif & my raspberry kisses blowing baby I gravitated to strawberry cake recipes and found this one by Sally’s Baking Addiction. Plus, do I really need an excuse to make cake?

IT. WAS. DELICIOUS. And beautiful! With no food dye! I don’t even like cream cheese frosting and I 100% endorse this recipe.  Adapted directions below, I wouldn’t change a thing next time I whip this up, which I will.

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup reduced strawberry puree
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice (my addition for coloring the cake which it did not! but tasted great so I’m not changing a thing)

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries
  • one 8-ounce block full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Make the reduced strawberry puree and allow it to cool completely. All you do is put all berries in food processor and then drop the puree into a sauce pan and heat gently for 30 minutes. It should reduce by half.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Butter parchment paper cut for 9-inch cake pans.
  3. Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, and baking soda together. Set aside.
  4. Using mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the egg whites on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Then beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk *just* until combined. Do not over-mix. Whisk in 1/2 cup of reduced strawberry puree, making sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick. If desired, stir in the juice.
  5. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
  6. Make the frosting: Using a blender or food processor, process the freeze-dried berries into a powdery crumb. You should have around 1/2 cup. Set aside. In a large bowl using a mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, berry powder, 1 Tablespoon milk, and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy.
  7. Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake keep its shape when cutting– it could slightly fall apart without time in the fridge.

PS: I do recommend the book we read, The Heart’s Invisible Furies. It was a sad story following a man’s life in Ireland, but it still made me chuckle at times. Long read. But good. Not the best choice for a mom’s book club (we don’t have time to read much beyond The Happy Sleeper (GET IT)) but still brought a few new moms together!

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2017: Like a Mother

Like a mother

My mantra this year was “treat yourself,” well… “treat yo’ self” to be exact (see pic below) because when there is a human growing inside of you, you deserve it. There was ice cream, and cake, doughnuts and Shake Shack. All year long.

We moved from London to NYC and I spent the first few days of the year saying goodbye to my favorite city, wining & dining (although mostly dining, obvi) and savoring my favorite park walks. I wanted to give NYC a try and while it was a tough transition for me, I decided to find places I love and to explore as best I could. I spent most of the year pregnant and exploring ice cream shops in search of the best scoop in Manhattan and the rest of the year snuggling the best baby girl and perfect addition to our family.

2017 is a year I will never forget (in no particular order):

  • Became a family of three. 
  • Pretended to do Dry January to cover for my pregnancy and fooled the world. DO YOU GUYS EVEN KNOW ME.
  • My family thought we made up the term Duncle to describe Madison & Matt’s new roles (Dad and Uncle) and then Googled it and decided nope, not going to use that name.
  • Made an ombre cake for my 30th birthday and was really impressed with myself. (Victoria: 1, Pinterest: 0)
  • Got into baking cakes in general and bought more bags of flour and sugar than the doctor recommends.
  • Spent the first three quarters of the year marketing YouTube Red Originals which involved outreach to famous cats of Instagram.
  • Was almost on a call with Channing Tatum.
  • Ate the best reuben ever at my aunt and uncle’s own restaurant.
  • Came this close to starting the newest dance craze during the Teen Choice Awards. Can you even High Water?
  • Went cold turkey with coffee and lived to tell the tale.
  • Tried to grow herbs in my new apartment but ended up using the baby as an excuse for their swift decline.
  • Made a catnip sock for the cats to show them we love them even though there is small human now living with us and it’s sitting in the closet now because they were not impressed.
  • Didn’t do the laundry once in our NY apt. Madison, you are a real stand up guy!!
  • Took the subway the wrong direction one afternoon (express train, oof) and in doing so also gave tourists bad directions which I insisted were correct. Chalking that one up to pregnancy brain.
  • First trimester had me so sleepy I almost missed the end of the Super Bowl this year and omg I never would have lived that down!! #YeaPats
  • Developed a fear of flushing the toilet in my apt as don’t want to wake the new resident. WHY does it sound like we are on an airplane?!
  • Shared Madison’s LinkedIn post about his new job at LinkedIn.
  • Tried 22 ice cream shops in NYC (I will meet you at Morgansterns, Van Leeuwens or Ample Hills or Ice & Vice any day, just say the word) and ate ice cream pretty much every day of my pregnancy – shout out to the Whole Foods freezer section and Brickley’s in RI.
  • Cried for joy when we opened the envelope from the doctor and found out we were having a girl.
  • Went to West Elm 6x before settling on the right couch.
  • Twinned with my bitmoji in our preggo yoga attire.
  • Went to yoga once a week. THIS IS A BREAKTHROUGH. But don’t get too excited, I still can’t touch my toes.
  • Saw a momma whale teach her baby how to breech in Maui & somehow managed not to puke on the boat without dramamine.
  • Joined some moms groups on Facebook so I can up my lurking game.
  • Dug a pit for my belly at the beach so I could tan my back (okay Madison dug it).
  • Got snowed in while at Sundance Film Fest and also saw Ty Burell. Oh I also saw Anne Hathaway in Central park! #Squirrel #CelebDoppleganger
  • Shared my daily ice cream treat to IG stories and became an actual ice cream influencer (Thanks Breyers). Also probably lost a few followers who didn’t feel like craving ice cream every day.
  • Our boat was stormed at sea (the pond), don’t worry though, just the Coast Guard this time doing their routine check. Pirates would have made a better story, I know.
  • The number of times I discuss my baby’s BMs per week is more than I would have anticipated pre-baby. Also, she pooped in 3 different states on one day!! That has to be a record, right?
  • Confirmed it’s #truelove (twuewuv) when Madison gave up wine with me this year
  • Within a 24 hour period had someone spit up on me, poop on me and pee on me. #momlife
  • Exclusively shop on Amazon now.
  • Spent a day with new friends at a baby massage class. Note: need to find Mom massage classes.
  • Decorated my apt with non Ikea furniture, and feeling quite grown up.
  • Never had so many doctors appointments in all my life.
  • Hosted my first Thanksgiving (hey, I made the cranberry sauce!), saw the Macy’s Day balloons get blown up (Olaf was a hit with the two month old) and also bought our first real Christmas tree!
  • On that note, my stocking now says Mom. 🙂 🙂
  • Added some sunshine and IG prowess to the Anchor team. (Lulu is a total #GirlBoss)
  • Brought a baby back from the UK (in case you were wondering).
  • While my miles weren’t as good as 2016, I still made it to London, Park City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Maui, Charleston & Pawley’s Island, New Hampshire, DC, Philadelphia, Albany, Chicago & Rhode Island.
  • Watched Stranger Things and now do a double take when I see Christmas lights.
  • Pretty much stopped using Twitter except for a few choice moments.

Inspired by the last song I heard in the Uber on the way to Mount Sinai East, here are Victoria’s New 2018 Rules, I count ‘em:

  1. One. Don’t pick up the phone bc it’s always on silent so we don’t wake the babe.
  2. Two. Wake up, wake up, no seriously, minimum 3x a night.
  3. Three. Sleep when the baby sleeps. You know you’re gonna wake up groggy in the morning. And if you’re sleep deprived, you will look like Mommy Zombie.

 

Mommy Zombie and all, there’s no getting around that this year was all about le bebe. It’s been so special meeting her and learning more about her as she grows after nine months of anticipation. I love being a mom, and now that Madison and I have a daughter I can’t even imagine what life would be like without her. 2017 gave me the best gift ever, an outpouring of love from friends and family and got me… like a mother.

-V

 

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My Name is Victoria and I’m Gonna Have a Baby

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Let the record state that this was not me!! I was always very nervous to become pregnant. As a kid if you asked me if I wanted babies (why is this a thing for little girls!?) I would have told you “No way Jose, I’m adopting!” I did not want to stretch out my belly and babies come out where?! Nope. Then, I grew up. Got married. Decided we were ready to start a family… and if other women were brave enough to do it then why not me? (This was the same philosophy I used for learning how to drive when I was terrified of the highway.)

Madison and I had an epic year in 2016 exploring Europe with our London home base and it felt appropriate to leave with an export. So, 2017 began an amazing journey. as soon as I could take a pregnancy test, I did. I woke up at 4am on the first day the test instructions said I could check. Apparently early morning is when you get the best results and was basically shaking as I peed on the stick, having woken up without my alarm at 4 am on the dot. The rest of my family was sleeping — I was living in RI while Madison was still in London finishing up work — and I waited for the results to show. It was a weird test (it WOULD be!) and didn’t clearly show positive or negative results. It looked positive, but then again, I couldn’t be positive. I kept the test in my backpack until I could dispose of it in a public place. Mom is too good. She definitely would have found it and then the secret’s out! I waited another week, truly testing my patience, and on my way to Salt Lake City for Sundance I stopped in Boston for a night to see friends and at the airport Marriott, and took another test. This one was more in line with modern times and the device clearly read PREGNANT. Holy shitttttttt that ovulation app worked! I was bursting with joy, couldn’t sleep and immediately had to know if it was a boy or girl.

The rest of my trip involved me googling slyly on my phone and deleting the searches after: “Can you eat cheese while pregnant? What fish can you not eat while pregnant? Is turmeric okay while pregnant? Can you drink coffee while pregnant? How much caffeine can you have per day while pregnant? How much caffeine is in a cup of coffee? How much caffeine is in tea? Can you drink chai tea while pregnant? How much caffeine is in chocolate? Can you eat chocolate and coffee on the same day while pregnant? When can people tell you are pregnant? What should you eat while pregnant?”

One week later, Madison picked me up at the airport in NYC and we drove to RI. We were barely out of the airport loop when I told him the news. He was so quiet processing the news and pulled over to give me a huge hug. He has never driven so slowly or carefully as we made our way to RI. Precious cargo! I unfortunately left SLC with the flu-like virus that infected the whole YouTube marketing team and spent a few days in bed googling what medicine I was allowed to take. (You can’t even have Riccola cough drops!!) After surviving my first and only virus while preggers I spent the rest of the month preparing to move in February, pretending my coffee wasn’t decaf, researching healthy diets for baby’s development, and convincing my family that Dry-January is an actual thing.

The stars aligned and we moved into our new NYC apt ON February 1st so I simply couldn’t have that “end of dry-January celebration drink” with my family. Phew! Madison and I drove all our belongings after a snowstorm to New York and spent the next few days unpacking. That was a Wednesday. By Saturday I felt like a truck had run over me and spent the weekend in bed. It was the start of WEEK 6 and the first time I felt any pregnancy symptom. No amount of coffee could ever make you feel more awake in this stage and I attribute that with my success in weaning myself off my daily 3 cup habit. I worked from home frequently and would sleep in until 10am and take a 2 hour nap mid-day, dragging myself to my bed and collapsing into a slumber immediately. Oh yea, and I was in bed by 8pm. I couldn’t eat anything except for baked potatoes some days and you can absolutely forget all those plans I had to eat healthy. Green vegetables were completely out of the picture. Madison would cook dinner for me every night and then rub my head in bed as I fell asleep. The first trimester I lived in a fog.

A nauseous fog! Somehow I managed to never Face Vomiting on Google Android 8.1 and even though I was hyper sensitive to smells and in a constant state of nausea. I held my breath every time I was on my floor waiting for my elevator or frantically trying to get my keys out (smelled like some weird cleaner/air freshener that made my stomach flop) and avoided the 4th floor at work (smelled like mold). Since it was winter, I didn’t have to worry about the rotting trash stink of Manhattan streets in the summer. Count your blessings! By week 16, it was like a switch went off and I had my energy back! For a few months I’d even forget I was pregnant until I looked down and saw the bump.

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The hardest part of being pregnant was giving up my evening glass of wine. Totally fine without sushi and unpasteurized cheese. Coffee surprisingly wasn’t on my mind. But wine needed a replacement. Enter: ice cream. It went beyond a craving. I challenged myself to try all the ice cream shops in Manhattan to find the best scoop. If I wasn’t at a new shop, I was eating mint chocolate chip or chocolate peanut butter from my freezer. Every. Day.

I was also surprised to have my palate change while I was pregnant. I now preferred peanut butter over almond butter and ate a banana a day (I NEVER eat bananas). I ate cereal for breakfast every day in the summer… the last time I poured a bowl was freshman year of college. I found myself in the kitchen more and more baking up treats. It wasn’t so much that I had specific cravings for food (besides Shake Shack and ice cream), but if I saw a dish in my Instagram feed, I’d have to have it. I even made “adult spaghetti-os” one night!! So unlike me. Pancakes were a frequent treat and breakfast transitioned from banana oatmeal to smoothies with cereal as the weather warmed up. I’d make myself very simple meals for lunch… and no judging here… pb&j sandwiches and sausage and beans were my favorite options. With a pickle (duh). It was hard not working out. Not that I’m an intense gym-goer. But I like to power walk. I like to spin. I took it easy working out with park walks planned around public restrooms and classes at the Prenatal Yoga Center. I’ve never been so flexible in my life. Oh yes, the irony.

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I feel very, very lucky with my first pregnancy. Not only was I very healthy throughout (prenatal vitamins are AMAZING and I’m never going to stop taking them), but Alice was born a healthy baby girl with a relatively quick and safe labor. Soooo hashtag blessed. I also actually enjoyed being pregnant! Weird, huh?! In the first trimester my mom gushed to me, don’t you just love being pregnant!? My response was more along the lines of “ehhh, it’s fine?” because I was still in the so-tired-you-are-a-walking-zombie-breathing-through-your-mouth-so-you-don’t-smell-anything-that-will-make-you-want-to-hurl-phase. Once I was past week 16, had my energy back, could see a growing bump and later could feel the baby moving… that was incredible. It felt special when my stomach entered rooms before me, and when I would be sitting in a work meeting and all of a sudden the little resident had the hiccups. It’s just an experience like no other. Your body does crazy things (it’s the hormones, always.) so you forget the pain and continue to further the human race. Before I forget everything I wanted to jot down memories from my pregnancy – the good & the weird. Enjoy!

Pregnancy Memories:

  • Went super cliche with the pickles and ice cream thing. NOT TOGETHER. Just often.
  • Didn’t touch a vegetable for about two months.
  • I put peppermint oil on the soles of my feet at night to help with the nausea but it was always a gamble because some nights that oil was the cause of the nausea!
  • Broke the news to my parents with a soggy Shake Shack bun in the oven. 🙂
  • Baby had the hiccups every day, and continued to after she was born!
  • My food intolerances disappeared… hello carbs and dairy!
  • On March 17th we found out we were having a girl and it was one of three times I cried while pregnant (the other two were when I needed to nest but had no space to do so).
  • In July we were on my parents boat when we were pulled over by the Coast Guard (routine stuff) and they tested the fog horn. Baby girl did a somersault in the womb in response and that startled me more than the noise.
  • She hated loud noises! The first time I felt her move inside my belly was during the fireworks we set off on Gabriella’s graduation weekend. 🙂
  • I ate peanut butter and date smoothies every morning… do dates actually help induce!?! Maybe…. But chances are very low this girl will have a peanut allergy.
  • Do not buy a new foam mattress when in your first trimester. I couldn’t breathe in the scent of my own bed. It was the worst!!
  • Some people thought we were having twins thanks to Madison’s pregnancy announcement on Instagram.
  • Every time I was home in RI I went kayaking to strengthen the core. You couldn’t see the abs but guys, they were there.
  • Pregnancy acne had me feeling like a teenager again. Kind of.
  • Madison had my Shake Shack order memorized. Extra pickles ya’ll.
  • I walked every day, even if it was just a quick walk around the block. Most days I did a good loop in Central Park. Breaking a sweat in my Old Navy preggo leggings. Out of breath with every incline.
  • Took baby in utero to Park City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Maui, Charleston & Pawley’s Island, New Hampshire, DC, Philadelphia, Albany, Chicago & Rhode Island.
  • Although Maui was our honeymoon we went for our babymoon too because it’s zika free and such a special place for us. I was just finishing the first trimester and walking around in a bikini looking like I had a giant cheeseburger for lunch didn’t make me feel subconscious at all!
  • The girl with the good hair! And yes, I had very mild… but ever present heartburn at the end of the pregnancy and when baby was born we could all see why!!
  • My family threw me an ice cream bar shower and it was the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me. Ice cream from Brickley’s, all the best toppings and all my favorite people together celebrating baby Calvert. My cousin’s boyfriend guessed the delivery date out of everyone at the shower. Abbie, he’s a keeper!
  • When your stomach is stretching out in front of you, people notice. I got very used to people looking at my belly. Strangers would randomly congratulate me, and weirdly it was mostly construction workers who would say “Congrats lady.” Only one random woman touched my belly without permission and she was my grandma’s age so I forgave her.
  • My husband gave up alcohol the nine months I also was not drinking. TRUE LOVE!
  • They say your bladder preps you for all the nightly wake up calls once baby arrives. I don’t see why this is necessary but I did pee an avg of 5 times a night. That was fun.
  • For the last couple of months, baby was head down, with her bum sticking out. She was most active while I was laying down, and I would tap her booty to let her know I felt her moving. She always reacted by freezing up – definitely a deer in the headlights.
  • Turning from one side to the other at night in bed was a process and involved grunting and both hands to prop myself up. And don’t ever take for granted the ability to sleep on your back.
  • NYC subways are so crowded that getting a seat even when looking like you’re about to pop isn’t a guarantee. I especially want to thank all the ladies who did notice my bump and would start announcing my presence and demanding a seat for me. #futureisfemale
  • Sat on a doughnut pillow for the last 4 months to take the pressure off my tailbone and got to the point where I’d carry it around with me. NO SHAME.
  • Baby girl danced at two weddings and attended Auntie G’s graduation in utero. Girl likes to party.
  • Packed my hospital bag the night before I went into labor.
  • Finished a book while In Labor. #Warrior

The morning of Sept 21, I had a feeling something was up. I was almost 39 weeks and for the most part feeling pretty good. I was done working and finished all my major “administrative” tasks I’d set aside for the beginning of my maternity leave – expenses up to date, office cleaned and organized, bills paid. We were staying busy, seeing as many friends as possible, with plans every night that week. It was the last day of Summer. The night before I’d finished packing my hospital bag which had been a huge mental block (I was finally ready!) and the morning of the 21st I started writing a blog summarizing my pregnancy so I wouldn’t forget anything (this post that I am now uploading, ha!). I had one more stop on my pregnancy tour of NYC ice cream shops. I was mentally prepared for labor and labor is what I got! I took a selfie before going to bed mid-day (you’re supposed to rest when in pre-labor if at all possible) and I wanted a photo of me at my most pregnant. And boy, did I look pregnant. I was texting Madison updates with a smile on my face.. “More cramps! Eeek. Probably nothing…” and then, “Cramps again, I dunno this could be it…”. I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. I read in bed for a few hours, saving my energy and hydrating. I did end up napping a bit that afternoon, and by 3pm I was awake and feeling better. No more cramps. At that point I had already cancelled our evening plans. It would be too much going downtown when I was feeling that lousy. Madison cancelled dinner too. I texted him “False alarm, feeling great now.” Oh well, we could just have an easy evening.

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Madison came home from work excited, asking me if I was sure I wasn’t in pre-labor? Nope. Nothing! We used the time to set up the stroller and after that we decided to go for a walk and see if things would get moving again. We walked down West End and on impulse decided to grab dinner at Carmines. We sat outside to enjoy the last evening of summer and shared chicken parmesan and spaghetti.

It was a really nice night. Warm, with a breeze, and not humid at all. We walked some more and after we got home we watched two episodes of Billions, including the finale. I was googling pre-labor during this time and honestly was pretty disappointed that I wasn’t actually in labor. I had mentally prepared myself as much as one can during the day, and I was sad I still had a wait to meet Alice. Boy, was I wrong! Sweet Alice Margaret was born at 7:43am on September 22. 7 lbs 6 ounces and 20.5 inches. It was so special finally meeting our #fearlessgirl.

Pregnancy is such an adventure. I don’t want to end this post on an entirely sappy note, but I have the sweetest memories of Madison feeling her move in my belly, seeing (and feeling) her reposition herself in my belly to get the best tan at the beach and kicking me in the ribs as I tried to sleep (how can you be mad!? The girl needed more space!). It’s the strangest feeling to give birth and all of a sudden realize you are no longer pregnant. You become so used to never being alone. And now, onto this parenthood adventure!

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2016: W2 4ee

15726536_10103947730124034_6102863706995657556_nAs I sit down to reflect on the past twelve months, I’m feeling a little selfish. The world is giving 2016 a big middle finger. But the truth is that for me 2016 was epic. Calling London home for a year is something that can never be overshadowed by a year of political instability. A check off the no regrets bucket list. It was a year of adventure and proving that you CAN have it all…until you have to move home and work East Coast hours. 🙂 Turns out that five hours ahead is just enough to make staying in touch with friends and family inconvenient. When we realized we felt separated from everyone back home, we started to work on plans to move back. But while we were here, we lived it up.

After a year, I can confidently say my London assimilation is complete. See image below for photo evidence, although living in Notting Hill was one of the most American decisions we made after moving over here, and it’s one I’m v okay with. As we explored London there was no neighborhood we didn’t love. The white row houses, quiet streets and access to Hyde & Holland Park made living “west” worth it. There was nothing better than Saturday morning foggy walks through Hyde Park with all the neighborhood dogs romping around you (not on leads) scaring the geese away.

So, what’s it like living in London? (#LondonbyLondoners):

  • There are long summer days – with sunlight until 11pm on the best days. And v. short winter days. Say goodbye sun @ 3:30pm.
  • There are beautiful parks everywhere because the British know how to garden like no other
  • Fashion here is stuck in the 80s and 90s and it’s awesome. When it doubt throw on a jean jacket & trainers
  • You have easy access to Europe. Brexit and all – just hop a short flight.
  • The flats are small. No getting around it.
  • The weather is consistent year round. I wore jeans ALL SUMMER. Eek! But winters aren’t brutal. Carry a brolly at all times.
  • You have to ask for filtered coffee. Or just get a flat white.
  • There are abnormally large spiders in the UK
  • Avocado toast is a way of life. And it will set you back £8+.
  • You will drink. Beer. Cider. G&Ts. In pubs, in gardens, on rooftops and most likely, at members only clubs.
  • There is an obsession here with Jack the Ripper. Play along.
  • Grocery store produce here is so cheap but that doesn’t stop the city from turning up at markets across the city every weekend for cheese, olives, mulled wine & hot salt beef.
  • They love squeaky cheese aka halloumi. Is this in the states? Anyone?
  • Happy Christmas!! From “Halloween” to NYE… Happy Christmas!
  • Football is religion, and you must sit with your people.
  • Indian food is the national food and deservedly so. Deliveroo, do your thing.
  • Oy!
  • Ehrm!
  • Proper!

While we spent a lot of time exploring all of London’s neighborhoods, we also checked off a few places in Europe. I’m not playing favorites but you must visit Copenhagen, and Paris. And Israel. And Dubai. And Edinburgh is my spirit animal. Countries I visited:

  • Croatia: “Hey lady, would you like this whole fish?!” 
  • Denmark: best danish ever
  • France: sacre bleu!!! Took us a long time to get here.
  • Israel: sun, salt & may God be with you
  • The Netherlands: low lying, high flying… so we hear 🙂
  • Spain: ay ay tapas and Rioja, chicos!
  • Scotland: We tried the whiskey. Did not try the haggis.
  • Sweden: Fika all day, Smörgåsbords all night
  • The UAE: Tall buildings. Progressive?
  • Wales: Conquered 7 castles

My favorite 2016 memories:

  • Threw a ballin’ party for Madison’s 30th & to say goodbye to our dear friends
  • Kicked off the year herding unicorns at the Today Show
  • Witnessed one too many handshake exchanges on Pembridge Gardens from our balcony & in our Uber
  • Got really good at making reservations & yes… missed cooking
  • Got a bitmoji and felt like she really represented me
  • Had a balcony for 3 months
  • Someone in the flat made it to level 23 in Pokemon Go
  • Spiders found me and a new fear was born inside me
  • A toaster from Dubai became the best gift and made for magical mornings with soft boiled eggs & avocado toast
  • I drove on the left side of the road like a BOSS
  • Learned more curses than I ever thought I’d know from  a football match
  • Was in a constant state of jet lag
  • Experienced British Summertime and verified that no London festival is complete without rain
  • Spent most nights working until between 12 and 2am
  • I ate ants and loved them. Will always remember the tangy experience at Noma
  • Made a friend in the Cotswolds who introduced me to friends in Champagne
  • Tried VR @ Vidcon and remembered why I don’t skateboard
  • Decided that from now on I drink G&Ts from a goblet
  • Started drinking my coffee black
  • Tried my hand at show marketing and ended the year as friends with Mariah Carey’s social media manager
  • Ate way too many meringues
  • Bought way too many sneakers (trainers). Just kidding, you can never have enough Nikes.
  • On Sundays we biked park to park to park to Big Ben
  • Re-branded  Anchor Media (check out the site!)
  • Paid off my student loans. All. of. them.
  • Binge- watched Westworld and The Crown. John Oliver every week. AND YTO.
  • Learned that my fingerprints are fading… I’ll let you infer my next step and why we’re moving back stateside… cough…. CIA.

Looking into the new year, I am excited to try a new city. NYC makes sense. My resolutions this new year’s eve are to will remain positive and open minded. As I write this, our president elect tweeted a nice happy new years message and I’m reminded that the presidency should never be our focal point for inspiring positive change in this world. I’m looking to all of you to kick off 2017 with the love and support we all deserve to receive and give each other.

xoxo,

V

PS: the title of this post is my London post code which I never memorized – every time I flew back to London I had to ask Madison our zip code for my landing card. I think it was my subconscious knowing this amazing city was temporary.

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