London Calling

As I write this post, I’m finally regaining control over the jet lag beast after a whirlwind week in London, and what a little adventure it was. My first time out of the country (passport stamp to prove it) with six days of listening to those lovely British accents and heck of a lot of tourist moments to prove it.

When I found out there was a chance I would be heading across the pond for business, I purposely kept my excitement level at about a two all the way up until the point I crossed through international security on Thursday evening – from there, all bets were off.

I traveled with two of my favorite coworkers, making the journey that much more exciting. We started the trip with a stop at Ecco for a drink – a Long Live the Queen seemed appropriate enough.

Long Live the Queen

Side note – how sparkling are the floors of the new international terminal at Hartsfield? Maybe I’m the only one who is dazzled by them every time I’m flown out of that are.

We landed around 7 AM London time, so I was beyond grateful to our hotel for the early check in around 9:30 AM. Bags dropped and we headed off to find food – sleep later. After lunch, we wandered over to Tower Bridge and Tower of London. In honor of World War I, there is currently a poppy installation that is absolutely breathtaking. I had caught a glimpse earlier in the week through US media, but was more drawn to Duchess Kate’s coat that time around, so it was such a pleasant surprise to see the grand scale and painstaking detail in person.

Tower of London Poppies

The next few days continued with more adventures, which seemed to also conveniently align with either champagne or sunshine. Rather than give you a play by play, here are the highlights broken into three categories.

1. Activities that included a glass of champagne

First up, a champagne tour of the London eye.

London eye

London eye champagne tour

London eye view

Second, a stop at Harrod’s.

Harrods Champagne Bar

Finally, not a champagne stop, but this adorable little owl drink at Night Jar – a fantastic speakeasy.

night jar owl

2. Tourist stops I wasn’t afraid to obnoxiously photograph (which was everything)

During the month of August when the Queen is away, Buckingham Palace offers tours inside. I would highly recommend it.

Buckingham Palace

I couldn’t resist a double decker bus begging me to share with the home state.

share a coke

3. Morning run routes that allowed me to see more of the city (and look like a sweaty, lost tourist)

Run club over Tower Bridge – at a balmy 6:00 AM.

tower bridge

While the 40 kid line kept me from an actual photo of platform 9 3/4, I couldn’t resist making a trip to Kings Cross.

kings cross

While the week has been packed with work as well (hello sixteen hour days), I was so thankful to get to spend some time making the most of this incredibly gracious, welcoming and charming city. My next international adventure will be to Belize in just a few short months with a slightly different travel agenda and companion (hello honeymoon) and I cannot wait.

tea

Until then, I’ll be dreaming of those delightful British accents and tiny tea pots.

#YouBetterBelize It: Planning a Honeymoon in Belize

If I had to pick the most stressful element of planning this entire wedding thus far, it would have to be hands down, honeymoon planning. Those 300 hand calligraphed envelopes have nothing on the honeymoon monster. So let me tell you, booking flights this week was a huge weight off of our shoulders. Belize, here we come.

Belize

With the world as our oyster, our planning pretty much went like this for about three months:

Strategy number one: pull up Google Maps, choose a country, Google weather in that country, then look at flights on Kayak.

Strategy number two: hire a travel agent. While this certainly helped rule out a few destinations, it certainly didn’t cure my indecisiveness.

Strategy number three: go back to the always reliable Rory Gilmore pro/con list. Here was ours:

  1. We are spending two weeks, so somewhere we could travel every few days, though not live out of a suitcase
  2. Stay within budget, so we can travel comfortably, maybe even splurge here and there (if you know us, this will likely mean dinner where we spend more than $30 ;))
  3. Beach. Has to have a beach
  4. Make that a beach with activities – P gets bored quickly
  5. Not spend days on planes, trains and automobiles getting there
  6. No big resort accommodations. We are drawn to little local places, boutiques hotels and the like for the charm and personal feel

After this, we seemed to have narrowed things down a bit:

  1. Rules out Peru. Too much hiking for this trip
  2. Sadly, this is how New Zealand and that dream of Bora Bora died
  3. Europe, we’ll see you someday, but too cool temperatures in November kinda kill the beach vibe
  4. Most small islands, out, not enough adventure variety
  5. Bali, though still SO high on the list, lost due to its 38 hour travel. Yuck
  6. Hawaii came SO close, but then we did some more homework and stumbled upon BELIZE

We booked flights (and our first destination) this week and could not be more thrilled. We’re planning to spilt our trip with one part jungle, two parts islands.

The jungle is booked. First up, we’ll be heading to Caves Brach where we are staying in a freaking treehouse. Please note, I believe I’ve used the adjective ‘freaking’ every time I describe the treehouse.

Caves Branch

Next up, we’re exploring two of the cayes, four days each. Currently, our front runners are Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker.

We now know why everyone counts down the days to the honeymoon and we can’t wait. 94 days and counting.

Learning Copperplate Calligraphy

My most anticipated wedding DIY is finally starting to come to life and I couldn’t not be more excited.

I’ve always had a passion for print and design and after about a year of trying to replicate what I thought was copperplate style of calligraphy and spending countless hours searching for online classes, I finally bit the bullet and enrolled in a five week crash course program with Sam Flax here in Atlanta.

calligraphy addresses

While I still have a long way to go, taking on calligraphy has certainly been a test of patience and practice.

calligraphy practice

Nibs: I’ve learned quickly which nibs I love and when to use each. A Nikko G is still my front runner but a more flexible nib works wonders for thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes, which translates nicely for digitizing.

Grip: It is clear to see how my style of holding the pen has changed. I’ve realized that great lettering is a result of shapes and pressure – not your handwriting style.

Paper: Quality paper is worth the investment. A calligrapher who can write on kraft paper without snagging is my hero.

calligraphy envelopes

Finally, after nearly 100 practice sheets, five months of testing and goodness knows how many hours, I am bringing my own wedding envelopes to life and can proudly say they are now more than 75% finished.

I cannot wait to have the babies  in the mail in little less than a month. For those of you receiving one of these in the mail, do me a favor and linger a little longer before you rip it open.  I do hope they are as loved by our guests, as I’ve loved working on them over the past few months.

I’m excited to continue to hone my skills to start adapting to larger print pieces, send pretty snail mail and maybe even help out with someone else’s big day in the future.

Next on the horizon is digitizing my writing to use on our actual invitation. As a little secret, the draft is done and I’m finally pretty pleased with a process, stay tuned for details that adventure very soon.