Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Is Marriage Equality Coming to the USA?

We are happy to bring you some exciting equality news for your Tuesday!!

In a historic move, the Democrats unanimously approved the addition of support for gay marriage in their platform at the Democratic National Convention in September. Can you believe it? This goes beyond getting the endorsement of the party leaders (Obama and Biden), but means it would be a focus of the party should they get re-elected later this year.

It is not clear exactly what the party will say at the Convention - will they voice support for gay marriage, or to repeal DOMA (please??), but either way it's a big step for LGBT equality. They are also thought to want to make discrimination in the workplace laws include LGBT workers in all states.

We are very excited at this news, because it makes us feel a lot closer to having rights in Laura's home like we do here in the UK. We've always said we'd like to move to the USA eventually, and it would be a dream come true to be able to do that sooner than later.

We can't wait until September to see what they commit to!

Love always,
Laura & Sarah xo

Sunday, 29 July 2012

London Olympics 2012 - Road Cycling!!

Hi all,

I hope you've had a great weekend, and have been watching a lot of the great Olympic games!!

Sarah was at home all weekend (boo), but I got to experience my first Olympic events - the Men's and Women's Road Cycling! This was an event I was really glad I could watch - as my Dad and brother are both avid cyclists (and triathletes - seriously, how come I didn't get any of those genes?) I'm pretty interested in the sport, and wanted to be there to represent my family.

The Cycling starts and ends at Buckingham Palace, but goes all the way out to Surrey via Putney Bridge - which is only a 15 minute walk from our flat. So Saturday I set off to see the men's race at 3:15pm - they weren't scheduled to come in through Putney until 4:05pm, so I thought I'd be nice and early. I soon realised after arriving, a full half hour before schedule, that the main pack had already come and gone!! Heartbreaking! I was able to watch a few stragglers come by, but was thoroughly disappointed.

Men's stragglers
Luckily for me, I was more interested in the women's race, anyway, which was on Sunday. The reason I was so excited? One of the athletes (and favourites to do well in the race) lives in my hometown of Boise, Idaho!! I just HAD to be there to cheer on Kristin Armstrong, and the rest of the USA and UK teams. So I got up and dressed to be at the location for 11:45 (the race started at 12:00) so I could make SURE I didn't miss them come out on their way into Surrey.

This time, our friend Martha met me - it was so nice to be able to cheer them on with someone!! We waited until 12:10, and right on queue, the women came around the corner. One woman, a Brazilian, had broken ahead of the pack (never a good idea that early on, as we saw later when she didn't even finish top 10!) but at the very front of the big pack of riders was Kristin, of Team USA!! I was so excited! Of course they had been and gone in a flash, but I can definitely say I was there.

I rushed home to watch the rest of the race on TV, which was so exciting and definitely the most fun I've had watching cycling (my parents watch the ENTIRE Tour de France each year - what a yawn-fest!), and I got upset when Kristin crashed about halfway through, and never regained the lead :(

I actually cried at the end, when Lizzy Armitstead came in second - the first Team GB medal of the London Olympic games!!! She should be very proud, and it was a really exciting race.

I do love this Olympic spirit!!

Love, Laura xo

Friday, 27 July 2012

The London 2012 Olympics Are HERE!!!

Hello athletes and athlete wannabees! ;)

It was only a week ago that we were highlighting the changes we have been seeing in and around London, but as today’s the day it all starts we thought we’d bring you a Friday Olympic update!

We have well and truly gotten into the Olympic spirit this week; it was London’s turn to welcome the torch and although we weren’t together, we were able to catch it at different parts of the city.

Sarah weaved her way from Victoria to Sloane Square with 3 other girls from work to see it pass and was lucky enough to have it go by just a metre or so away – literally right in the action.

Laura, on the other hand, had to use her height to see over the masses that had gathered near Trafalgar Square but still managed (as always) to get some great footage.

The Olympic torch, in our humble opinion, has been a secret success of this Olympics – we touched on its journey last post but to think it has passed by within a mile of where every person person in the UK lives and on every single stretch it has been greeted by so many people is incredible. As it goes by there is a strange sense that you are part of something big or that you have just seen something you will remember forever. It’s brief, and even without the media floats you are still witnessing this relatively small torch that has travelled the entire UK. It makes us feel proud to have been there!

We actually caught up again with the torch when it was welcomed by a 60,000 strong crowd at Hyde Park. The ‘Torch Finale’ was an evening of music organised by Coca-Cola. Because we are working women we were only able to get there for 5:30 so had missed some bands but watched Katy B & Mark Ronson, The Wanted and Dizzee Rascal.

We were joined by Martha and her flatmate Jules and while they headed to the bar we headed to the Coco-Cola tent - and as well as picking up random merchandise we got our pics taken with a torch – yay! It also gave us over an hour of chatting and hugging and generally being all lovey-dovey!

Once reunited, the 4 of us headed towards the stage and witnessed the torch arrive on stage. It lit a huge cauldron that burned brightly for the whole night.

The Mayor of London, Good Ole' Boris (not his official name, but that's what we like to call him) made a very touching and inspirational speech. Love Boris!! Here's his speech and the lighting of the cauldron - we were in this giant crowd!!

The things we’ve seen and done in Hyde park havebeen some of our most random experiences. We love it as Winter Wonderland, it’s great to cycle around – or run around finding Easter eggs! We’ve seen running races and rollerbladers and now we’ve seen it covered in bark to host the Olympic celebrations! All the rain we’ve had, had turned it into a mud pit so the solution was bark!

The party itself really got started as it got dark though. Dancing in bark = painful! But with Dizzee Rascal putting on quite the show it was an amazing evening! It also turns out that we know far more The Wanted songs and actually really like Dizzee Rascal!!!

Our celebrations continued into today – the papers greeted us with front pages highlighting that the ‘Best of British’ is getting ready for the Opening Ceremony and Olympics. We had lunch at Trafalgar Square with Town Criers and a bagpiper. Were given freebies at the station and the outfits, oh the outfits….everyone is in the party spirit. Well we presume that’s what it is and people don’t normally go around draped in the USA flag (well, besides Laura of course) or with the Union Jack painted on their faces!

Sarah even got a call from her Dad to say that he had seen the mayor’s speech at the concert last night and conceded he finally gets it! Today is a proud day to be British, it is great day to live in London, and seriously, what's a bit of extra traffic when you get look back and say ‘I was there!’ Seven years in the planning this will certainly be the most memorable Olympics for us. Sarah was 23 (the age Laura is now) when London beat Paris to host 7 years ago and the scenes of celebration back then still get talked about now so we can only imagine the hours of memories our kids will have to sit through. We're just glad we are together to welcome London 2012 Olympics!

And if you are visiting the UK for the Olympics - we found this article that may help acquaint you with our way of living?! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18983558

We hope you are enjoying the Opening Ceremony - we know we are!! We've moved our couch all the way up to the TV so we can be a part of the experience haha!!

Love always (and let the games begin!!)

Sarah & Laura xo

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

What We Love Wednesday - Going Gay For Chick-Fil-A!!

As more states recognize same-sex marriage, extreme Christians are increasing their crusade to preserve what they define as traditional marriage between a man and a woman. But, as we find them stepping out of the church and into the limelight, it is becoming clear that they are on the wrong side of history, and are no longer 'preaching to the choir'.

In England, the main opponent to allow gay couples to marry instead of becoming civil-partners is the church and the senior, prominent church members who wish to defend 'traditional' marriage.

Thankfully, and being half Scottish, Sarah can say this, the Scots have seen sense and as of today they have legailised gay marriage! This morning the Scottish Government put Scotland on the road to being one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. They have gone further than the Westminister government proposes - allowing both civil and religious & humanist marriage in Scotland (for those religions that wish to conduct same-sex marriages). This is the most progressive option, allowing for equality and religious freedom. It’s not 100% there yet - the legislation still needs to be drafted, and passed by the Scottish Parliament. This will happen in the coming months, and with majority support in the Scottish Parliament, it is expected that the first same-sex weddings to happen will be in 2014.

Such great news and after a Pride March in London that had Google leading the way with the slogan ‘Legalise Love’ lets hope England is next!!! With Google employees located in offices around the world, they have policies focused on non-discrimination that are universal throughout the company. Their part in pride parades were deliberately to show they are proud to be recognised as a leader in LGBT inclusion and equality efforts! Legalise Love is their drive to ensure that all of their employees have the same inclusive experience outside of the office as they do at work.

We have all seen the news:

Yet those of us in committed homosexual relationships are banned from such a constitution because of a religion and so-called quotes in the bible that aren't even relevant anymore - see a great article explaining on our friends Sarah & Lauren's blog HERE!

In America, the battle to allow gay marriage is happening in states across the US but it was Chick-fil-A, an American fast food chain, president Dan Cathy's comments in the Baptist Press, that brought it back into National headlines! In the article he pleads "guilty as charged" for his company's advocacy of 'traditional' marriage based on biblical principles:

‘We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We operate as a family business ... our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that.’

To support this, the fast-food chain has made the commitment of donating millions of dollars to anti-gay groups and causes, including the Marriage & Family Foundation and the Family Research Council. The company's WinShape Foundation also has refused to admit gay couples to marriage counseling. Last year, Chick-fil-A cosponsored a marriage conference with the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which lobbied against a state effort to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In another interview on the Ken Coleman Show, Cathy suggested that the nation could face God's wrath for supporting gay marriage!!!!

On a side note, another ignorant and ridiculous part of that quote is 'and we are married to our first wives.' Surely Chick-fil-A doesn't discriminate against heterosexual employees whose partners have died, so they've remarried, or who have divorced? We agree the divorce rate is much too high the world over, but it is just plain ignorant and dis-inclusive to include a statement like that. What about people who divorced out of abusive relationships? Are they no longer worthy to work at Chick-fil-A? This guy needs to be taught a lesson.

It is well reported that Chick-fil-A is a successful, private business that trains its employees "to focus on values rooted in the Bible." It stays closed on Sundays. It has over 1,608 restaurants nationwide and uses its sales to support sports stadiums, as well as at major sporting events, such as the Chick-fil-A Bowl in the company's hometown of Atlanta.

Don’t get us wrong - the president of Chick-fil-A is entitled to his opinion, and to run his business by his standards but when that involves casting public judgment over a part of society already discriminated against, then in our opinion that over steps the mark.

With that in mind, what we are loving this Wednesday is the backlash this homophobic, ignorant company is FINALLY receiving!
Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts, Thomas M. Menino is vowing to block Chick-fil-A from bringing its Southern-fried fast-food empire to Boston — possibly to a popular tourist spot just steps from City Hall, where the first same-sex couples in the country got married — after the family-owned firm’s president suggested gay marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”

“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion,” Menino told the Herald.

“That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail.'’ Yay to the Mayor of Boston!!! We love the thought of having someone in government so open-minded and inclusive!
Read the Mayor's entire letter to Dan Cathy here!
A Chicago alderman also wants to kill Chick-fil-A's plans to build a restaurant in his increasingly trendy Northwest Side ward because the fast-food chain's top executive vocally opposes gay marriage.
Everyone’s favourite childhood puppets are even taking a stand for gay marriage. The Jim Henson Company—creator of the Muppets—announced recently that it would no longer do business with Chick-Fil-A following recent anti-gay marriage comments made by Dan Cathy.

The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors,” wrote the organization on its Facebook page. “Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD,” the post concludes.

As if all that wasn't enough, thousands of people have vowed to boycott the chain - there have been protests and demonstrations, Universities voting to oust the chain from their campuses, spoof videos, and there is even a same-sex 'kiss in' planned. The backlash from his comments no doubt surprised Dan Cathy, but obviously made enough of an impression that the company issued a statement - not apologising, but committing to staying out of politics in future. They very obviously know they are on the wrong side of history with this one - and the damage has been done. Their reputation will no longer be of great chicken, funny ad campaigns (Eat mor chikin) or 'family values' - but bigotry and hatred.

We hope that the tale of Chick-fil-A is a cautionary one to any other companies who want to spread homophobia and ignorance. What we love this Wednesday is not that Chick-fil-A royally put their foot in their mouth, but that people are coming together to defend the LGBT community, and we think this controversy has sparked support even from those who didn't have a strong opinion on the subject before.

Love always (& remember to give your hard earned money to companies who appreciate ALL of their customers),
Laura & Sarah xo

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Sarah's Big Birthday Present - A Trip to New York City!!

Happy Saturday!!

This time last week, Sarah was receiving her big 29th birthday present!!

Here's a video so you can see what she got, who was at her surprise party, and her (absolutely adorable) reaction to her present!!

PS. Check out Laura's mad rhyming skills!

What's the best birthday present you've ever received?

Love always, 
Laura & Sarah xo

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

What We Love Wednesdays: London Getting Ready for the Olympics

It's no secret that Laura and I are lucky enough to live in the greatest city in the world (in our opinion) and from the moment London was announced as the host for the 2012 Olympics, we knew 2012 was going to be an AMAZING year.

The thing with London is even though it is a 'big' city and is generally packed 24 hours a day, it is a city you can find your own space in - and you can really make it your own. We have blogged about our love of Borough Market, Southbank, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Camden Market, the theatres, the restaurants, the free festivals etc etc but NOTHING has created a buzz like the Olympics.

Our Instagram followers will have seen more and more pictures being put up about the changes taking place in London. On our trip around the city to see the Shard opening we drove in and out of Olympic Lanes - decorated but not yet in use at that time - although very much in use now!

Sarah's walk to work is now lined with flags telling the hoards of crowds arriving at Victoria where to go for the Horse Guard's Parade (and the beach volleyball). The corners are filled with tourists trying to read maps and head to Buckingham Palace (it's the main place S gets asked about!).

Every tube station is displaying fushia signs pointing out where to disembark for Olympic events, and most tube stations now have 'tour guides' pointing out where to go. At Earls Court (our first station in the mornings) we have our very own 'Get Ahead of the Games' advisors telling us how to walk or cycle to work! Who are they kidding! Maybe if, you know, it was DRY outside!

A new addition that always makes us smile is Boris Johnson (our Mayor) bellowing over the PA system that we should make sure to check online to 'Get Ahead of the Games' - as we smell the armpits in our faces and get a little too up close and personal with the people around us, we can't help but think - that info may be more useful pre-entering the tube.

And then there is the BRANDING! It started a few months ago but over the last few weeks everything you see, eat, drink, use seems to be getting in on the act :

From a local perspective, the lack of road works is nice to see and the effort to run efficient transport has been noted - less cancellations and more communication! There are more Union Jacks decorating windows and shops than ever before and our parks and streets are gleaming! It's almost as if we are being judged :) The Mall especially has had a face lift this year - thank you Jubilee and Olympics.

Despite not being fortunate enough to get Olympic tickets (although, the fact that if your event gets postponed if it rains, you can't sell your tickets, so you have to come back - coming back from Thailand would be...erm...EXPENSIVE) we are still loving the atmosphere. We hope the summer weather arrives in time!!!

The free Metro paper has become obsessed with reporting every tweet that the athletes put up as they arrive in the city or at the Olympic accommodation.

It's also hard to ignore the once no-go area of Statford is now ordering people to come and visit - with a fast train heading that way and cable cars to transfer you from one side of the river to the other at ONLY £3.60 on an oyster card! Bargain! You can also see the Olympic structures from afar. The only thing we are slightly baffled about is the 'abstract' Arcelor Mittal tower! The view from it is meant to be spectacular but it's not the best looking sculpture we've seen. Laura has just realised it is supposed to be the Olympic flame!!

In all honesty, if the cable car doesn't provide the view you want, there's always 'UP' at the o2 Dome - you could bounce your way over that :)

The other event(s) you can't fail to notice if you live in the UK is the journey of the Olympic torch! 8000 people carrying it 8000 miles and touring the entire UK! It has been tightrope walked, rowed, climbed and ran through the streets of the UK. It's been held by the Queen, Olympic athletes past and present, Lewis Hamilton (of F1 fame), music 'stars' including Will.I.Am (not sure when he became British), old people, school kids, charity workers and two relatives of people Sarah works with (including Martha!). It even visited Sarah's home football club - Madjeski Stadium! Her Dad summed it up when he said 'It is like nothing I've seen in this country!' - literally hundreds of people spill out into streets as it passes, regardless of time or weather. It creates a real sense of pride to say you were there!

Living in London we will be lucky enough to see the finale at Hyde Park! We are heading to a concert held for its arrival and to celebrate the end of its journey! Bring it on!!!

It also dominates conversations whereever you go and everyone has something to say on it. Despite the press, from our experience it's been mainly positive! London is always going to be busy in summer, you accept that, so it's nice that they are making an effort to get the city ready.

Are you excited for the Olympics?

Love always,
Sarah & Laura xo

Monday, 16 July 2012

Sarah's 29th Birthday!!

In case anyone missed it, I had a birthday on Friday the 13th July! And it was AWESOME! 

Originally L and I had agreed not to take a day off on my actual birthday as it was a Friday and we thought we would be able to chill out at work together - that plan was ruined on the day Laura found out her contract wasn't being renewed - if you missed that story, it's HERE! So the new plan was that we would meet for lunch and then celebrate my birthday officially that evening.

Lunch was interesting, as the English summer decided that wet weather was in order, so we took the party inside. Chris and Martha from work joined us as we tucked into the very typical English food of battered sausage, chips and curry sauce!!!!

After work I literally ran to meet L from work - it's amazing how my heart still skips a beat when I see her, I was SO EXCITED! We met at Oxford Circus and after dodging puddles, wound up in Bodeans - London's original smokehouse and home of oh-so-tasty food! As soon as we met in Oxford Circus I was hoping it would be our final destination, and as we turned the corner L knew she made the right decision as I beamed! We met Chrissie and her sister Steph there and tucked into the delicious food. Pre-dinner however I got the incredibly thoughtful gift of a book of vouchers for Diet Coke, Nando's dessert and a haircut at Steph's salon in MAYFAIR!!! OMG I was stunned at how thoughtful and fantastic the present was. And I got to enjoy their company!

We continued the evening at Bella Italia for desserts, indulged in cookie dough lava cake and entertained the ladies next to us with stories of our latest antics - L couldn't end the night before bringing out the presents though. This cute pink union jack bag appeared and inside were gifts from Sarah & Lauren! The first gift out was a London themed passport & cardholder (both already in use), a heart mobile photo frame (that we will have fun filling) and a chocolate Olympic medal from the amazing Cadburys - who doesn't love chocolate on their birthday!?

Laura, however, held off the surprise of the evening.....and I believe with a little help from Jemma.....we have tickets to see Singing In the Rain in the West End - in the Grand Circle!!!! It was a great way to spend the evening of my birthday. 

After our amazing Friday night - which was SO good!!! - I was packed off home on Saturday morning. I arrived at 12ish and had a really nice afternoon getting my hair cut, I got presents that will come in handy in Thailand and enjoyed dinner at a really cute pub before heading back to London. I was told to be back for 7:30 and as I am usually late I did my utmost to be back for that time. I ended up driving in at 7:28 and essentially surprising my surprise party guests. Lauren & Sarah (from 2bridesto2mummies), Megan & Whitney (from What Wegan did nextwere all getting out the car and froze - and I was just like 'What are you guys doing here!?!?!' - Lauren & Sarah as they are from BIRMINGHAM - that's like 2 hours away!!! And Wegan as they don't drive!

So after my shock, and I'm guessing theirs, subsided, I sat in my car texting my Mum to say I was back and I'm guessing they went into the flat. Little did I know that Laura had seen the whole thing from the kitchen window - so she saw everyone's reaction in the car park. :D 

So I was sat texting and oblivious to the outside world, singing loudly and badly in the car and Lauren opened my car door - I jumped out of my skin!!! But it was so amazing to see them, I always feel sad when they leave and as we got last weekend with them - I didn't think we'd see them until after Thailand so I was SO happy. 

I went back into the flat and to my surprise 1) it was spotless - and the way I had left it it was VERY far from that! (it must have taken L hours!!!) 2) It had wonderful Wegan there - in all their fabulous-ness and it's always lovely to see them! 3) Wally was there from Brighton and I hadn't seen him since last November and had really been missing him of late! 


So everyone sat, drank, chatted - enjoyed the novelty of red solo cups - why don't we use them here!? It was such a great mix of people and with Martha coming along a bit later it was a lot of fun. 

At present time I got: 
From Wegan: a beach towel for Thailand, Easy A DVD (love that movie!!), House Bunny DVD & 1 other, and a really cute heart that said 'People walk through our lives but only true friends leave footprints on our hearts' - really, really sweet (and tear inducing :))  

From Marth & her flatmate Jules: £20 nando's voucher - hell yeah - we all know I love my Nandos!! 

From L: well, well, i'm still in shock........ 

I was handed this handmade book and it was a story / poem that said I am going to NEW YORK for NEW YEAR'S - I'm crying just writing this!!!! And not for a night, or a weekend  or a long weekend - 6 WHOLE NIGHTS!!!! And in our own upper west side flat!! And OMG OMG OMG OMG NEW YORK at NEW YEAR - TIME SQUARE, Statue of Liberty, BROADWAY = OMG!! L's parents got me a guide book so it will be PLANNED and OMG NEW YORK here we come - can you believe it??!!!! 

So yeah, not only am I going to Singing in the Rain - set in New York right?!  I had New York cheese cakes, sparklers, bagels the whole thing - I CANNOT WAIT!!!! It will be AMAZING!!! 

The rest of the party was a blur - probably because of alcohol, but other key moments included: 
Sarah & Lauren bringing in Willow - there oh-so-cute dog who fitted in like any other guest, snuggled in between people on the couches, making friends with everyone and generally meeting my need to own a dog! She even stayed Sunday (with S&L) so we could go on a walk and hang out! It's a good job she stayed as I wouldn't have spoken to anyone else if I knew I was on a dog countdown :) 

Sarah and Lauren made cupcakes with PURPLE icing, PURPLE glitter and PURPLE stars - that tasted delicious! 

Wally was the only guy in a room where almost every girl was gay - seriously the things I get Wally involved in :) 

Megan & Whitney got me champagne! A first on any birthday I think! 

Laura had rosy cheeks and looked so proud (very rightly so) ALL night until we realised we had NO idea how to shut down a party!!! 

Martha ended up sharing a bottle of Smirnoff Ice with the table instead of the cups and Jules looked more stable with Sarah's support than on her own so Wally offered to escort them home and that was that party over. Sarah, Lauren & Willow stayed and we probably ended up in bed at 3! 

Did I mention LAURA got me a TRIP to NEW YORK!!!!! BEST present yet Miss Smith - it'll be hard to top I can tell you now!!! Before I even read the book the effort and thought was so evident that I immediately said - maybe you should have saved this for my 30th!!! :) 

After all was said and done I can NOT thank everyone enough who texted, tweeted, facebooked and emailed their wishes. To L's Nan who almost gave the surprise away when she rang to check I had my card and caused L to make up an excuse that I bought hook-line and sinker! To L's parents who I know had more than a little something to do with my impending trip! To Chrissie and Steph for such a great and thoughtful gift(s). To the girls and Wally who made the journey - to Willow who sat and accepted my petting for an entire day (and S&L for training her to be the best behaved dog I've ever met)! 

And of course to Laura - the most amazing, fantastic, brilliant, wonderful, marvelous, tremendous girlfriend I can ask for! I am SO SO SO lucky and so so so grateful for EVERYTHING that she organised and for making this the birthday yet!!!

I am a little nervous about L's upcoming birthday but that's a WHOLE other story!!!

Love always,
Sarah xo