Monday, 26 December 2011

We Are Off To Moscow!!

Hi everyone, we hope you are enjoying your Boxing Day! Just a quick note to say we are off to Russia! We will be in Moscow until New Years Day. I'm so excited!!

See what we did on our first Christmas Day together HERE!!

Have a lovely week, and Happy New Years - we plan to spend our New Years Eve at Red Square watching the fireworks over St. Basil's Cathedral!!
Hopefully it will look like this!!!
See you all in 2012!!

Love always, Laura & Sarah

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Our First Christmas Together - What We Did!

Feliz Navidad, comrades! Sarah has left to spend the evening (and tomorrow) at the parents' house (boo!) so I thought I'd write a post to let y'all know what we did today on our first Christmas together!

Looking a tad teary, but only because it was such a wonderful Christmas!
SO...

We woke up at like 9am - earlier than I wanted to considering we didn't go to bed until after 2am, but one of the things I love (but have to suffer through) about my darling Sarah is that on weekends, holidays, before trips, etc, she always wakes up really early because she is 'excited to spend time with me'. I'm excited to spend time with her too of course, and I think it's super cute, but I like my sleep!

Some of our Christmas decorations!
We opened our stockings, which Santa (read: Laura) filled with lots of sweets and even alcohol (I didn't know Santa had access to Baileys and Absolut!) and we tucked right in!


Then I cooked us a 'proper English breakfast' of eggs, sausages, baked beans, tomatoes, fried bread and potato waffles (the poor man's hash brown?) and we ate it while watching the Christmas episode of Mike & Molly (btw, who else loves that show? I think Melissa McCarthy is pretty much amazing in everything she has ever been in! Examples include but are not limited to Bridesmaids, Gilmore Girls, and Samantha Who? ! Anyway.)
Eating Christmas brekkie
When you've been in a relationship for almost three years and are starting a life together, you think you've asked all the big questions. You know all sorts of things about what your partner wants to do/be in the future, raising kids, etc, but I have one piece of advice for you: don't forget to ask one thing - how do they do their Christmas? It turns out, super excited Sarah likes to get up early and open all the presents quickly, but memory/photo/Christmas crazy me likes to taaaake my tiiiiiime and open presents slowly, not too early, because I like to capture everything on film, enjoy each present as it's opened, and I get a little sad after we are finished opening because I feel Christmas is over for another year. Yes, I know this paragraph has made me sound quite old and a bit nuts, but it's my favourite time of the year - I just want to really appreciate every moment!! So obviously we figured it out, but do us a favour - your first Christmas with the one you love, find out how they want to celebrate before the day!!

Our tree- so beautiful!
I am so lucky - I got so many great presents from Sarah and my family this year!! Sarah and I got each other 12 gifts (12 days of Christmas? you know!) and my family completely spoiled us both. Some of the (many) highlights we received are below:

Sarah and I bought ourselves a Wii and Guitar Hero Six - with two guitars!! So now we are completely obsessed with it!!
Um YESSSSS
My family got me a brand new amazing camera - just in time for our trip to Russia tomorrow! It's a gorgeous one with lots of different features and 16x zoom! OMG so excited to take photos of all our 2012 trips!!
And my family and I got Sarah a new laptop! She was so touched and thankful when she got it - so cute. My parents are amazing and so generous.

Sarah with her presents from the Smith fam!
My little brother got me the Michael Buble Christmas CD (which we've listened to all day!!) and a lovely card. I was really excited that his present arrived in time for Christmas!


I also got two of my favourite movies on DVD, two awesome lightup margarita glasses from Priscilla Queen of the Desert (my fav show!!), Photoshop and Microsoft Office, a cute fluffy hat perfect for Russia, and lots of other lovely presents!


I got Sarah some nice earrings, and a special teddy bear :) among lots of other things.

Aww Sarah and her new teddy bear
How awesome is this Christmas card I got for Sarah? I thought it was impressive and good luck that Clintons did 'girlfriend' cards, and the girls even look a bit like us! Score!!
Inside says 'How much I love you!! Merry Christmas'
We then ate lunch - a mix of candied yam, green bean casserole, and a bunch of little party foods (I didn't want to cook a full Christmas dinner because it would take so much time away from Sarah on our day!) and watched Love Actually (don't you adore that movie!?)

We spoke to my Mum at home (my Dad and brother are in Las Vegas - very random, but they went for a college football game (GO BOISE STATE!) and we... packed for Russia. And now Sarah is at home, and I'm writing, and drinking mulled wine.

It's safe to say it's been a pretty perfect Christmas!!

I hope you've had a great one (or are having a great one, if you are in the USA and it's not over yet) - what is your favourite part of Christmas day?


Lots of love, Laura (& Sarah, in spirit) xoxoxo

Friday, 23 December 2011

Sarah's Fabulously Festive Fun Fact Friday!!


Hello, and welcome to my final Fun Fact Friday of 2011! In keeping with our Christmas theme, find a cosy corner and enjoy....

First of we will start with the man of the moment (and I don't mean JC)- Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, and simply "Santa", is a figure with legendary, mythical, historical and folkloric origins who, in many western cultures, brings gifts to the homes of the good children during the Christmas Eve, December 24. The modern figure was derived from the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas, which, has a basis in hagiographical tales concerning the historical figure of gift giver Saint Nicholas.
Santa Claus is generally depicted as a portly, joyous, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots. He did not always look that way, and Coca-Cola advertising actually helped shape this modern-day image of Santa.


2006 marked the 75th anniversary of the famous Coca-Cola Santa Claus. Starting in 1931, magazine ads for Coca-Cola featured St. Nick as a kind, jolly man in a red suit. Because magazines were so widely viewed, and because this image of Santa appeared for more than three decades, the image of Santa most people have today is largely based on that advertising. 

Before the 1931 introduction of the Coca-Cola Santa Claus created by artist Haddon Sundblom, the image of Santa ranged from big to small and fat to tall. Santa even appeared as an elf and looked a bit spooky. 



Through the centuries, Santa Claus has been depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to an elf. He has worn a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. The modern-day Santa Claus is a combination of a number of the stories from a variety of countries. 


According to a tradition which can be traced to the 1820s, Santa Claus lives at the North Pole, with a large number of magical elves, and nine (originally eight) flying reindeer. Since the 20th century, in an idea popularised by the 1934 song "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", Santa Claus has been believed to make a list of children throughout the world, categorising them according to their behavior ("naughty" or "nice") and to deliver presents, including toys, and candy to all of the well-behaved children in the world, and sometimes coal to the naughty children, on the single night of Christmas Eve. He accomplishes this feat with the aid of the elves who make the toys in the workshop and the reindeer who pull his sleigh.


Talking of old school stories shaping our Christmas did you know that Charles Dickens created quite a few of our current Christmas traditions with his book 'A Christmas Carol'? He wrote the book in only 6 weeks yet the impact has truly lasted.....


1) Charity - in the story, Scrooge changes from Mr. Bah Humbug to Mr. Christmas Cracker (not literally, but you know what I mean) - the point is that 'kindness at Christmas' can be life changing, and the hardest hearts can be melted if shown others suffering.


2) Turkey - Until the book came out, the 'upper classes' ate beef at Christmas and the 'poor' ate goose! When Scrooge brings turkey to the suffering family (and little Tiny Tim) a new tradition was invented overnight and turkey became the bird of choice at Christmas! Those turkeys must have really loved Charlie! hahaha


3) The Family Christmas meal - The Crachits' Christmas meal sent out the powerful message that a good meal, good fellowship and the family coming together in spite of the demands of work, is a right for everybody. Home and the comfort and safety it provides are strong themes in the book! And anyone trying to get home this Christmas, we wish you best of luck!


It's actually the bicentury (200 years) of Charles Dickens birth next year and spanning over 50 countries, the British Council will engage audiences overseas with Charles Dickens and contemporary British creative talent through a programme of film, exhibitions, readings, theatre and educational events called Dickens 2012!
Having studied English Literature at A-Level, I LOVE Dickens' stories. Although he's a writer from the Victorian era, Dickens’s work transcends his time, language and culture. He remains a massive contemporary influence throughout the world and his writings continue to inspire film, TV, art, literature, artists and academia. 


Find out what Dickens 2012 events are taking place near you by visiting the Events Calendar and follow them on Twitter for updates on the bicentenary plans.


Chances are you will be seeing 'A Christmas Carol' or a Coca-Cola Christmas advert so enjoy and just think something you do this year could well be a tradition of the future! If you've been reading our blog, you will know it's our first Christmas together this year (yay!) and the traditions we have so far are:

  • Christmas movie Tuesday (for every week in December)

  • Christmas PJ's ready for Christmas Day (they will be worn ALL Day)

  • Stockings hung and ready to be filled (we will take turns to fill them each year - Laura is going first) 
and finally... 
  • 12 presents each for Christmas Day! (We have a set budget, but we have to get 12 presents within that!)

We can't wait to add more but we'll see how this year goes first and if you have any suggestions or traditions you always do let us know!





Merry Christmas!
Love
Sarah (and Laura)
xoxoxo



Wednesday, 21 December 2011

What We Love Wednesdays - A Very Merry Christmas!!

Hello everyone, and welcome to a very festive WWLW!


I’m sure you hadn’t guessed from our posts over the last month or so, but we LOVE Christmas.
We go nuts over anything festive, over every Christmas song or Christmas snack. So we figure that as
Christmas is only 4 days away, nobody could knock us for doing a little MOTHER OF ALL THINGS CHRISTMASY AND AMAZING POST TO END ALL CHRISTMAS POSTS! Or maybe not ‘end’ them, but make them pale in comparison. ;)

Are you feeling Christmasy yet? If not, then open a new tab, go to google.com and type in ‘let it
snow’. Do it now! … Okay, now that you feel as if you’re walking in a winter wonderland, we can begin.


There are so many things that we love about Christmas, we probably won’t be able to fit it all in one post.  So, we’ve picked our very best bits to share!

Sarah's Christmas Crackers:
  • Laura's Excitement....it starts in September and builds and builds until the end of November when it EXPLODES and EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that can become Christmassy gets the Laura touch!
  • Advent Calendars - a chocolate a day - yes please! Would it be wrong to have one leading up to my birthday?
  • Snuggling - I would snuggle Laura ANY TIME but there is nothing better that when it's cold outside!
  • Fairy Lights (Christmas lights to Americans), who doesn't! They make every room look better - our bedroom looks like Santa's grotto right now.
  • Christmas Trees - the one place you can put as much Christmas stuff as possible and no-one can complain - as this was the first tree we gotten together we went for IT ALL - tinsel, lights, baubles, decorations, beads, sparkles, bling and stars!
Our first Christmas tree together!
  • Wearing LAYERS.....or wrapping up warm - I am a fan of being warm! As I write this I am wrapped up in 4 layers and I LOVE IT! Whether I'm out walking in the fresh air or on a couch watching TV, as long as I've got my layers (and my Laura) I'm happy!
  • General jolly-ness - I love it when random strangers wish us Merry Christmas, and people are nicer in their daily lives only at this one time of year!
Sarah jolly in the snow in Idaho!
  • Hoping for (and hopefully getting) SNOW - my absolute favourite pre-Christmas event was snow last year! After a year in Australia we headed back to Laura's home town and timed it perfectly for SNOW! As you can imagine, a suitcase of Australian clothes did not cater for the snow, so I spent 3 weeks in Laura's brother's skiing gear. The trip was AMAZING - the highlight was two days skiing and an overnight stay in a wood cabin in McCall. We exchanged Christmas presents, snuggled in a warmed bed and made a gingerbread house (my 1st!) - it was one of my favourite trips we've ever taken!  
Our bear themed cabin, us skiing in McCall, and our first (messy but amazing) gingerbread house!


Laura's Festive Favourites:
  • Of course, the FOOD! Everything tastes better at Christmas, and it is the one time of year you can eat almost anything (heck, you can even cook with marshmallows, like I did for Thanksmas!!). We've stocked the house up with cookies, crisps, cakes, meats and gorgeous cheeses from around the world, and I've baked more this month than I have my whole life - so we are eating our way through the holidays! As someone who has an emotional attachment to food, I wouldn't have it any other way!
  • On the same note, I also LOVE Christmas markets! My favourite kind of course are the ones that do Christmasy foods, mulled wine (vin chaud, in Paris) and hot chocolate (chocolat chaud)! We love walking around, soaking in the atmosphere, and warming up with a mulled wine. My Mum sent me some mulling spices this year, so I have a ready supply of Christmasy love!
  • I also love Christmas music! Whether it's choirs singing carols (or me singing carols!) or the mid-work-day Christmas tune on the radio, there is not much I love more than Christmas music. I start listening to it in November, if not before (it came from when I was in school - I was in show choir, and we'd start learning festive music at Halloween!). I love everything from the old classics to the more contemporary stuff - this year we've heard a lovely bit of Buble and I actually really love the Justin Bieber Christmas album! Yes I know, we're not pre-teens anymore, we can't listen to Bieber, but his album has UH-mazing duets with Mariah Carey (All I Want For Christmas Is You), Busta Rhymes (who I LOVE so much), Boyz II Men and Usher among others! So give it a Christmas listen it's obviously a little cheesy and poppy, but isn't that why we love Christmas music? I wouldn't be admitting to a secret love of Bieber songs if it wasn't worth it! *Rant over*
  • Christmas Movie Tuesdays!!! Really, though, Christmas movies on any day of the week will do! My favourites are Love Actually, the ORIGINAL How the Grinch Stole Christmas (see my Christmas apron!), and Last Christmas, an apparently not as good as I think it is (thanks Sarah) movie about a big family coming home for the holidays.
  • Finally, my last but not least favourite thing about the holidays is spending time with family and loved ones. For me, Christmas is a time for making memories, coming together and appreciating the people you love. I really miss my family at home in Idaho this year, especially because my usually Grinch-y Dad (er, Grinchy on my terms, probably more like a regular person) has decided to become Mr. Christmas this year, putting up the lights and tree without nagging from me! Let's hope it lasts until next year! I am thankful that next year Sarah and I should be able to be home with them for the holidays. And I'm so thankful for Sarah!
The Smiths in USA, our dog Abby thinking she's a present under the tree, and the love of my life!
We hope you've enjoyed our super Christmasy list of some of the things we love about the holidays. Of course, though we each have our preferences, and the aspects of this time of year we each love the most, there is one thing we can agree on - the BEST thing about Christmas is being able to spend quality time (eating, snuggling, watching Christmas movies, etc) with each other! We wouldn't have it any other way.

video

Lots and lots of love and joy and SNOW,
Laura & Sarah xoxo

Monday, 19 December 2011

Tips & Recipes From An Un-Domestic Goddess: Festive Sugar Cookies!!

Hello my lovelies,

I hope you are all having a great Christmas season! We sure are!! Let's jump right in!

This week I'm posting my Thanksmas-famous sugar cookies! It's a nice, basic recipe that goes down REALLY well with everyone - young and old! In fact, if you work at Frost with me, be excited - I'm bringing some in this week to share with you all for Christmas! :)
Finished product!
So, here's what you'll need to make about 30 cookies:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups margarine
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup icing/icing sugar for topping!

Nothing too 'out there', right? I, luckily, have a ready supply in our kitchen of all these ingredients!

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium sized bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt - then set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then the vanillla extract. Stir in the dry ingredients gradually, until just blended.

3a. What we do: Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it's about 1 cm thick, and make into shapes with cookie cutters. Place on an ungreased cookie tray. I don't know if anyone would try to do this except me, but do not grease your cookie sheet with butter/marg - it makes the outsides of the cookie kind of bubble, and the shapes don't look as nice.


3b. Alternatively, you could roll the batter into balls, put on the ungreased cookie tray about 2 inches apart, and flatten slightly. Personally, I prefer my sugar cookies in the shape of Christmas trees - they taste better ;)

4. Bake for 8 - to minutes, until light brown. When taken out of the oven, allow the cookies to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes or so before moving them to a wire cooling rack.
Yum yum yum yum
5. Ice and decorate!!
A whole forest of deliciousness!
I'm sure these will go down as well in your home as they did in mine!

As usual, let me know if you give it a go - I'd love to hear from you!

Bon appetit! Laura (or as I'm called by one satisfied customer, 'Chef' haha) xoxoxo

Sunday, 18 December 2011

What's Happening Hot Stuff 18/12/2011



Hello and welcome to this weeks WHHS! So Christmas is fast approaching and our Christmas shopping is just about complete....we even managed to get some food supplies in- our first Christmas is set to include a feast. Our Christmas party is over and the end is at sight at work but that's enough about us....on to the news!
You have to watch this video of a gay couple being told they are going to become grandparents. It has become a viral hit on Youtube a year after being uploaded to the site.
Check it out HERE!
In the video, a young couple surprises the two men by asking what they think it will be like being grandparents, and the parents react with disbelief.
It is unclear what caused the recent surge in popularity for the video, which was recorded just before Christmas 2010, but one father’s particularly excited reaction to the news has proved popular.
One Youtube user said: “Every child should be born into a house with this much love and joy, the world would be a much better place.”
Another added: “I challenge anyone (with a brain, heart or soul) to see such genuine love and tell them it’s wrong.”
It just made us go ARRRRRRHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! As I (Sarah) have un-supportive parents, I always appreciated seeing those lucky enough to experience it.
Stateside the mayor of the fourth-largest city in Mississippi has been forced to come out of the closet after the receipts from his expenses claim included a visit to a gay “lifestyle store and sex shop”Greg Davis, mayor of Southaven, who was divorced from his wife last year, had been subject to a criminal investigation for allegedly misusing $170,000 when receipts revealed he spent $67 at a gay shop in Toronto, Canada. Davis, who has three daughters from his marriage and ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2008 promoting “family values”, also spent thousands of dollars at local liquor shops. Davis told the Commercial Appeal: “At this point in my life and in my career, while I have tried to maintain separation between my personal and public life, it is obvious that this can no longer remain the case." We have said that being forced out of the closet is never a good thing but then neither is breaking the law! I promise my expenses from my Sheffield trip include nothing more controversial than a McDonald's.
Mississippi Mayor - who has very little to smile about!
I promise I didn't approach my Maccy's with such vigour.

Sheffield wishes you all kinds of festive wishes.

Femme-visibility has another ambassador, American actress Amber Heard who officially came out at an awards ceremony in Los Angeles. The actress attended the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) 25th anniversary event on Saturday night with her girlfriend Tasya van Ree. The couple have been together since 2008 and Heard said that she did not want to be “part of the problem” by staying in the closet.
Amber Heard & her girlfriend,
Reading her interview on AfterEllen.com she says: “I think GLAAD is one of the many reasons that I, as a 24 year old, can come out. I think that organisations like GLAAD make that possible because if it weren’t for opinions being changed, people being influenced, people being engaged to do the right thing, then there would be no prerogative for anyone to come out. Like I said, I can’t be a part of the problem. I hate the idea of a label just as much as anyone else but I’m with who I’m with, I love who I love and I’m if not a better actress than I was yesterday and my personal life should have no effect on that. I personally think that if you deny something or if you hide something you’re inadvertently admitting it’s wrong. I don’t feel like I’m wrong. I don’t feel like millions of people are wrong because they love who they love or they were born how they were born.” 
It's great to see more positive role models speaking out in the media! My favourite point is the last part: 'I don’t feel like millions of people are wrong because they love who they love or they were born how they were born'.
Finally Obama pledges aid and asylum support for overseas gay rights. It is the first US government strategy dedicated to combating rights abuses against gay people abroad. In the memo, issued yesterday, Obama writes: “The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights. Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal." With the news from Russia and Ghana it's good to see another gay-friendly announcement from America.
And so I return to the Christmas wrapping- the Christmas tunes are playing and the candles are lit it feels a lot like Christmas.....and seeing Laura's cheeks a glow makes her look even cuter! I really am a lucky lady!
My lovely lady!
Enjoy your final week and the 7 sleeps till Christmas! 
Check out our Christmas card....HERE!!!