Sunday, 30 September 2012

What's Happening Hot Stuff - What a Wonderful Week!

What a week! We can't remember the last time we had time to sit and update the blog but I guess that's a sign of a a great week. So we thought we would use this post to share with you What's Been Happening with  Us and follow it up with photos and actual posts later in the week!

Laura's high-school friend Alison has been staying with us since she arrived last week and we wanted to make sure that we had a least helped her tick off some of the main tourist sights so our weekend was spent 'being tourists' and it was sooooooooooo good!

Today we went to see the 'Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest festival' at the Guildhall and immerse the 'Americans' in all kinds of English traditions - Morris Dancing, Maypole Dancing, Donkey rides and of course Pearly Kings and Queens! Today however was the second tourist day.....

The first we like to call 'perfect date day in London', not because we were trying to date Alison but because if you EVER want to organise the 'perfect' date in London this day would have all elements. From a feast of food at Borough Market involving taste tests and filling our face with delicious food we headed to the river at Southbank. Here we strolled taking the sights before hitting the heights in the London Eye to enjoy the city at sunset. The evening was spent at London Bridge before ending our night at the 'date' bar over looking Tower Bridge, we can woo anyone our way!

Our London tour-guiding was just limited to this weekend however! On Thursday night we played tour-guide for a night time city drive with Lauren and Sarah from 2 Brides to 2 Mummies. We will do a full breakdown of the journey and the sights in the post later this week but touring our friends round our city makes for an AMAZING evening!

Sarah also got to attend the Civil Partnership ceremony and afternoon tea for the girls over at What Wegan Did Next. It's the first time either of us have been to a Civil Partnership and as Lauren and Sarah were staying with us they kindly looked after Sarah while Laura worked. We tried every which way to get her out of it the working day but a lack of holiday meant she couldn't be there :(

To kick of the week of up and coming posts we thought we include a tribute to our favourite season- Autumn or Fall!

We have sooooooooo many photos and have suuuuuuuuccccchhhh a wonderful week with such AMAZING people that we can't wait to relive it through the blog and we hope you check back and enjoy it too!!!

Sarah & Laura

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Tips & Recipes From the UN-Domestic Goddess: Delectable Sweet Potato Chips!

Wow, it has been a really long time since I have done a recipe! However, I made some fantastically amazing sweet potato chips yesterday, so I thought - you should definitely make them!

What you'll need:

  • Sweet potatoes - 1 small one per person
  • Garlic, about 1/2 clove per person 
  • Olive oil, drizzle
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Step 1: Wash and peel the sweet potato, and cut into chip shapes (however you'd like) - place the chips into a bowl.

Step 2: Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes, and mix to cover.

Step 3: Microwave garlic for 10 seconds (to soften and bring out flavour) then chop into small slices. Add to the potatoes, sprinkle salt and pepper, mix well to coat.

Step 4: Place on a baking tray, heat on 200 degrees Celsius (395 degrees Fahrenheit) for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Step 5: Eat. And make more. Because they are delicious!!! Maybe put them with a main dish.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

What's Been Happening Hot Stuff!!! 23rd Sept

Welcome, welcome, welcome! How's your weekend been? We thought we would split today's What Happening Hot Stuff into 2 parts; 1 - our take on What's Been Happening out and about in the world and 2 - What's been Happening with us!

Sooooo let's start with the good ole US of A and the up and coming election. We are very pro-Obama in this household, of course his support of gay marriage is a plus for us but we just can't imagine Mitt Romney becoming President.

We follow the elections through the UK media as well watching things like the Daily Show and reading the updates we find and it is very clear that Romney is an IDIOT! We watched both convention speeches and seriously, unless you are a rich white American WHY would you vote for him?!

We have also seen all the craziness surrounding terribly made anti-Islam film 'Innocence of Muslims', the most recent news being that Obama has paid for adverts showing him condemning the film on Pakistani TV. It's madness that media can have such a quick impact on the world as a whole.

In other sad news Australia gay marriage bill was defeated. With 98 voting against the bill and only 48 voting for it. Of course it's disappointing to see that happen anywhere but for us Australia is an option on our 'to end up living in list' and we liked them to be ready to welcome us. Having said that there are positives as Australian Marriage Equality national convener Rodney Croome said: 'I take heart from the fact that the last time the Senate voted on marriage equality in 2009 only six Senators voted in favour and today that number has increased four-fold.’

If you are keeping up with X Factor either side of the Atlantic whose your favourite? We are LOVING Britney Spears being part of the panel, and the fact that she's got a rather bitchy side makes it all the better. 'It's Britney Bitch!' Or if you're watching it in the UK have you seen this guy:

His name is Brad Shakleton, he drives Harleys and plays Polo and........we worked with him! That's right almost a claim to fame :)

But we are rooting for Lucy Spraggan, I think we mentioned her before when we first saw her audition, for those of you that missed it here it is again:

In other news for us, Saturday happened! Saturday to us was a day that we had very mixed emotions about as we were BOTH meeting my (Sarah) Mum and sister for dinner and to see Jersey Boys. The plan was to meet at 4ish and head for dinner, as it turned out we probably met nearer 5 so needed a dinner location near to the theatre and Leicester Square. We settled on TGI Fridays and for the first 20 minutes were spent waiting for a table at the bar, thankfully conversation flowed covering off all the major topics: work, weather (we are British after all :)) our journey in, and my cousin's boyfriend my Mum and Sister had met the night before. We were BOTH hugged on arrival and it was not nearly as awkward as we thought it might be.

Laura is AMAZING, seriously! I know in previous posts I have said how grateful I am to have someone in my life who puts up with the giant challenge called 'my family's lack of acceptance' but more than anything I am so thankful that even after ALL the hatred that has been rallied in her direction she stills stands tall and accompanies me. I am so incredibly lucky to have Laura.

When we sat down at dinner Laura's eagerness meant she ended up sat next to my Mum instead of me. For me it wasn't a bad thing as I got to look at her gorgeous face as we ate but as my Mum is just under 5ft and Laura is almost 6ft the height difference and loud music made sure conversation wasn't particularly easy. We all got on though, recalling our Thailand holiday, the dog bite story and my sister's decision process to choose her new boyfriend.

By the time we left to head to the theatre we had enjoyed a drink and were in good spirits. Laura led the way (as she always does thanks to the knowledge she gained on her many walking tours when she first moved to London :) ) taking us through Soho. If you've been to London you will know that Soho is home to the gay bars and the famous G.A.Y club. We wandered past Ku Bar , through China town and arrived at the Prince Edward Theatre that just happened to be right next G.A.Y! We were hoping that through osmosis my Mum would see that gay people aren't different!!

On arrival at the theatre we were met by our 'private butler' William. We had special access tickets as my Mum has back problems from a car crash that makes walking stairs difficult. William showed us to our seats, first row in the dress circle as it was at street level, and was so helpful, even taking our drinks order ready for the interval. He even brought my sister and Mum booster seats so they had a better view.

The show itself was AMAZING and I found out Laura is a 1960's jukebox, she knew every word to every song - seriously impressive! We knew a bit about what to expect as we had seen a preview at 'West End Live' at Trafalgar Square in the summer. The show surpassed expectation though, we could definitely see why it has been so popular. Every song was a hit and the lead actors played their parts to perfection. We were all singing along and having a great time. If you are in London and you can go and see it!

After the show we walked back to the nearest tube only to find the tube line needed by my Mum and sister to get back home was shut so Leicester Square was PACKED. As my Mum is not the biggest fan of crowds on tubes we decided to plan another route home. The route involved my Mum coming back to the flat with Laura and I and then driving her back to my sister's - half an hour away.

We hopped on a bus to Fulham Broadway then took a taxi back to the flat. Here Laura became the GREATEST prospective-daughter-in-law of the century. As we live on the top floor the stairs would have been too much for my Mum so I waited by the car as Laura and Alison organised a hot-water bottle and car picnic that included Smirnoff Ice (my Mum's favourite).

As we waited at the car we had a chance to talk and reflecting on the evening my Mum said how nice it was to spend time with us both and how lovely, caring, thoughtful and helpful Laura was. It gave me the opening to push the whole 'well why can't you accept her' topic. I got as much as it's not about Laura (an improvement as Laura had been made into this demon figure) and more about the fact that it's about the whole 'gay girl and girl thing' and that it just doesn't make sense and makes her uncomfortable. Again I addressed how it will be something she needs to get over. She said she really would like to do it again, hopefully another step in the right direction, and I agreed that as long as I could see an improvement in her acceptance then we would be happy to hang out again. The thing is I have ALWAYS said this. Way back when I left for Australia my Mum said she felt like Laura was 'stealing' me and that was before she knew we were together. So I said if you want more time with me (I try to head home once a month) then hanging out with the two of us would get her that time. Let's hope this time it works!

As always with these types of posts there is an air of caution. The Mum that arrives in London ready to hug us both and enjoy the evening is not always the Mum on the end of the phone ready with judgment and guilt trips. When I think of what I want this to mean it comes down to something so simple - I just want it to mean that they accept what will make me happy. I'm not asking my parents to become gay advocates or suddenly do a 180 and admit they were in the wrong (I can hope, but I'm realistic), I just want them to say 'we can see Laura makes you happy and that's all we ever wanted'.

We got Alison along for the drive back from the flat to my sister's; the journey whizzed past with constant conversation and at my sisters there were hugs and kisses all around. A successful evening by all accounts.

Bringing Alison along also meant we could do our 'London by Night' driving tour that was scheduled for Friday night but postponed due to rain. We headed to the City and ticked off all the major sights - London Eye, Houses of parliament, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Place, the Mall, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, Monument, the Shard, the Gherkin - you name it, we passed it or saw it. I know we've said it before but we LOVE London!

We arrived back at 2am and were buzzing (L & Alison from the chocolate and alcohol) so we ended the night discussing the wonder of meat flavoured crisps - weird that the US don't sell them - and convincing Alison that Britney Spears and Glee are AMAZING!

It's crazy what you can fit into 24 hours! Lets hope the legacy of this 24hours is positive one though!

Sarah (& Laura)

Friday, 21 September 2012

Friday Roundup Sept 2012!

What a week! What a month!! What a year!!!

For the first time ever we have welcomed an old school friend of Laura’s to London, and to our flat! We love having new people to show around the city we LOVE and Alison has proved a willing victim/guest. We plan on taking her on her first food/grocery shop and a ‘drive by night’ tour of the city tonight to help her get her bearings and because we think London looks amazing at night.

Alison is here to stay and will be living in London for at least a year so we will take it easy and take our time showing her all the highlights but we love nothing more than a willing tourist.

It’s getting cold here in the UK, so autumn is definitely upon us. The trees aren’t quite changing colour but flip-flops have been put away and jackets have been brought out. For those of us who love the summer and the heat, the darker evenings and cooler mornings are normally a sad sign, but I have Laura and through her an appreciation of Autumn that I have never had before.

Talking to one of our friends on email today about how fast this year was going and how Christmas would soon be upon us, this was Laura’s response:  

What about autumn?
Crisp cool days, beautiful autumn leaves, hot chocolate, scarves and sweaters, fireplaces, my birthday, Halloween, pumpkin flavoured things, THANKSMAS, potential for snow, soups, stews, boots, hats, soooooo many great things about my favourite time of the year!!

I guess someone likes the time of year around their birthday J

In other news, we have a family event tomorrow that involves Laura and I BOTH joining my Mum and sister to see Jersey Boys at the theatre. NEVER have I been so torn about going to see a show. Those of you who have followed us for awhile will know that WE love a good musical – Shrek, Singing In the Rain, Priscilla - you name it, we have seen it or want to see it. But with my Mum! With Laura and my Mum TOGETHER! *shudder*

Sooooo we all know how my parents would rather ‘ignore’ Laura’s existence and pretend I will get over my ‘phase’ and end up marrying Mr Right sooner rather than later. And you may remember how our meeting at my sisters seemed to go fine but then NOTHING changed, in fact it hasn’t been mentioned since, besides the odd threat about not telling anyone in my family about us.

Well, it was actually my Mum who suggested this London rendezvous, and is paying for it as our Christmas present – excuse my French at this point – it’s kind of a mind-fuck!!!! I have asked my Mum outright what she thinks she’s doing and her explanation is that ‘getting to know Laura in London is different’ – so make what you will of that.

Worst still my ‘time’ to confront my Mum over ANY issue that I have is forever being postponed by drama, and most of it is bad drama! The fact that she has known about us for over 2 and a half years and there has been very little change, or willingness to change: the only thing that has changed is the name calling and evil emails have stopped - makes it even more frustrating.

For example, I wanted to confront my Mum this weekend about her nastiness and threats the day we went to see Lady Gaga, but my sister has just had a very urgently needed hospital appointment postponed and my Mum is now frantically trying to get it rebooked, cancel non-refundable hotels and is in tears on most calls.

Thankfully she was pulled over by the police last night for……wait for it…..DRIVING TOO SLOW!!!!...hahahahahahahaha!!! And I say thankfully because at least it stopped the tears and gave us all a laugh.

The time before that I was heading home, all ready to say my piece and my Aunt’s dog died; I think this time it was more me in tears. I first met Evie as a puppy so small she could sit in my hand, I looked after her whenever my Aunt and Uncle went away and she was the first and only dog I got to see grow up and change over the years – I loved her and will forever miss her soppy face.

But seriously, the level of drama that my family manages to create means my internal and eternal frustration at their lack of acceptance is always secondary. I always feel incredibly selfish wanting to demand to be heard and am constantly going in thinking ‘what if I make things worse’. Laura thinks it’s the way I grew up – my Dad had a brain haemorrhage and was hospitalised for almost a year when I was 8 so I was looked after by my grandparents and tried to stay out of trouble and be ‘the perfect child’.

When I was 12 my sister had a spinal bleed and was hospitalised for 18 months in Oxford, my parents went to stay with her and I either stayed at friends, neighbours or my grandparents, again I tried to work hard, do well in school, look after everyone, and stay out of trouble. I learnt that kicking up just caused trouble and never got me the attention I wanted. I just tried to be helpful and supportive. I was no angel but I was drama-free.

It means it’s against my nature to stand up and confront my parents, and it is always about everyone else before me. It has gone way past behaviour I can forgive and I know it has to change, and that the way I compartmentalise things is not the best way to ‘deal’ with life, but causing upset amongst drama just isn’t my thing.

I agree with L when she says with my family, there will always be drama, but with so much other stuff going on in our lives, and so much of it good, do I need to rock the boat and bring more negative attention? Do I really want our wedding plans mixed with evil texts and hurtful emails? I LOVE the life Laura and I have built, and the fact that my parent’s attitude has already impacted that makes me reluctant.

This has turned into a stream of consciousness now rather than a post with a point but boy does it feel good to get that out there. I always find writing down these things useful. I feel like I cleared a bit of space in my mind. Laura and I tend to talk about things like this on our journeys together but that means there’s an end point – we either have to kiss goodbye and head to work or arrive home to plan dinner but either way it never gets resolved. I appreciate the blog for that. I can spend some time to just ‘empty’ my thoughts on to a page…..imagine doing that to a poor unsuspecting colleague who asks what you’re thinking about J
To end on a lighter note have you seen this: GANGNAM STYLE – brilliant!!!

Enjoy your weekend!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

What's Happening, Hot Stuff?? Paralympics London 2012!!

It's been a few days since our last post, but we didn't want to finish this week without updating the blog with our Paralympics experience - and what better place to do it than 'What's Happening Hot Stuff'?!

We were lucky enough to get tickets to the Friday evening Paralymic Athletics session at the Olympic Park. We had tried so hard and entered every ballot to get tickets for the Olympics that the Paralymics ticket process seemed relatively straightforward. Before we set off to Thailand we checked the website and had a look at available sessions and there were £20 tickets for the Athletics sessions. Little did we know that on our return from Thailand, tickets would be almost sold out and we would be going to a sold out session, and the first Paralymics to sell out!

Friday afternoon flew by and before we knew it we were meeting at Green Park station to start our journey together to the Olmpic Park. Throughout the Olympics there were people wearing Pink jackets dotted around at the major tube stations with maps and advice on the best way to get to each venue. They were known as 'Games Makers' and we saw so many on our journey that we understood why they 'made the games'. At every station they were directing the crowds and making sure everything ran smoothly.

Our journey was simple, get on the Jubilee line, that took us straight to the Olympic Park. On arrival at the Olympic Park it was obvious the whole area had been 'Olympified', every building had posters and every space had some reference to the games. As we approached the stadium we were guided along walkways with the Water-polo arena on one side and the Swimming pool on the other. We were lucky it was a beautiful sunny London evening and we could really admire the park area.

As we had arrived straight from work, our first priority was to find somewhere to eat - we weren't short of options, but when there was the biggest McDonald's in the world as an option it would have been rude not to :) We tucked in sat on bench sets in the shadow of the arena and we could hear the party starting inside.

Before we entered the stadium we had one final stop - the shop! What was meant to be a 'quick look around' ended up being more of a 'supermarket dash', we knew we wanted to get a memento but we just couldn't pick! We ended up with t-shirts and then at the till told than because we had 2 we could get a 3rd free! Normally that would be good this situation it meant the two of us racing round the store shouting 'what about this one' or 'this one' or 'just pick something' to each other across the store. We were in our own Olympic race :)

Shopping bag in hand we headed to the stadium. Sarah was like a kid at Christmas, bouncing around, getting teary and generally getting more than a little excited. Laura was taking photos of EVERYTHING - the side of the stadium, the flame sculpture, the grounds and of course us!

Once we were inside we were shown to our seats, this stadium was steep! We kept our heads down as we powered up the stairs and as we turned around the view was incredible. To get to our seat we had to shuffle to the middle of the row and there is not much space between rows so EVERYONE had to stand up for us. Once we were seated we discovered that we had an American in front us, an American to the left us and then with Laura - Sarah was surrounded!

In terms of action the first thing we saw was a medal ceremony with a British singer so no sooner had we got comfortable we were on our feet singing the national anthem loud and proud. Looking towards the centre of the stadium there was so much going on. In one corner there was someone throwing shotput, in another discus, we had someone doing long jump and then every couple of minutes there was track action. We saw wheelchair racing, blind running and various levels of disability running. It was incredible. As if that wasn't enough we saw numerous medal ceremonies and had the great experience of seeing USA and Australian competitors get medals so Laura could sing along with anthems from each country she has a passports for!!!

To help, the screens in the stadium played highlights and each time a medal was awarded the receiver was shown on the screen. It really helped us keep up with the action.

The atmosphere was electric from start to finish and it made us, but especially Sarah, very proud to be British. Every athlete was applauded but when a GBR competitor was introducing the crowd was SO loud, except in our case the USA competitors also got screams!

At the end of the session we were sad to leave. The closeness of the seats made for an intimate atmosphere and it felt as if you had made friends. People were offering to take each others photos in the rows and we saw people posing with flags from so many countries. There are not many places you can ever enjoy a night like that.

To top off the wonderful evening we came across Angela Madsen, of Team USA - she had won a bronze medal for shotput and was happy to meet us and let us take a picture with her medal. That's right we HELD a REAL Paralympic bronze medal!!! Reading her story on the way home we found out she was paralysed after a botched back operation but since being paralysed she had rowed from Hawaii to California- impressive!!!

Our journey home was filled with lots of 'OMG what an evening', 'OMG what an experience' and 'how lucky are we'. We knew we couldn't let the Olympics happen in our backyard and not be a part of it so we were so glad we got tickets and it was worth all the hours spent on the website - London 2012 was incredible and certainly unforgettable! We are sad its over and since then, London seems to be missing something......

However, we have so much coming up for the rest of the month we certainly aren't settling into our Autumn hibernation just yet.

On Tuesday we welcome Laura's old school friend Alison who will be starting at London's School of Tropical Diseases in the coming weeks and we can't wait to see her! She will be staying with us for a week or so while she finds a flat.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Lady Gaga's Born This Way Ball!!!

Hi lovelies!!!

As you know, we went to see the incredible Lady Gaga this past Saturday at her Born This Way Ball, Twickenham Stadium in London. Seriously, it was one of the best concerts we've ever been to!!!

We were lucky enough that Sarah's family friend lives right across from the stadium, so we were able to drive in and park with his resident's permit. Which meant the whole way there we got to sit comfortably and cool, blasting the tunes and drinking copious amounts of Diet Coke.

Upon arrival, we were surprised at how dressed up people were - in all sorts of Gaga costumes - really, we were surprised we didn't think to dress up in costume (we usually do!!!) but we were pretty colourful, so it was okay :D

The opening act was none other than The Darkness - Sarah was a little surprised at what a fan Laura was!! Laura was singing along and took a million photos - turns out she knows all the words to most of the songs! The Darkness really are ridiculous - such a guilty pleasure band. They put on a great show, and were really comfortable with the crowd, which was evident. And there is just so much amazing hair in the band, how could you NOT love them?

Gaga was a little late (20 mins or so) - not a giant deal, but when you'd been standing up for hours already, it seemed like ever. But as soon as the show started, we forgot our aching feet!

The sold out stadium!
Wow, she is such a performer. We were able to move our way up until we were 15-20 rows from front (thanks to crafty little Sarah's expert maneuvering skills), so we had such a great view, and could see her facial expressions and everything!! So exciting.

There were so many costume changes, she sang every word and danced constantly. Each song was a performance, and the whole show was awesomely dark.

One thing we thought was pretty amazing, was how you could tell how much she loved London, the UK, and appreciated all of her fans. She mentioned being in London, and the UK, quite a lot - which made us feel like she really was here the whole time, and we weren't just one of thousands of shows, in any random place in the world. Does that make sense? And we loved how genuinely grateful she was that we were all there.

It must be such a dream for her - four years ago, we saw her open for Take That - and didn't know who she was. And now, we (and 55,000+ people each night of her sold out show) pay the big bucks to see her!! She's come such a long way, already re-invented herself so many times, and you can really see how she's grown up over the last few years from 'Just Dance' to her darker, meaningful, more recent hits.

Obviously, with this being the Born This Way Ball - it appealed to a certain audience. We swear, it was the gayest place we've been since Pride London!! What she said really struck a chord with us (so much so we can remember it word perfectly!) 'When I came to my producers with 'Born This Way', they said to me- 'You realise you are marketing yourself to a very small, specific niche of people.' Well 55,000 people is a pretty big f***ing niche!!!' 

Black Jesus!
There couldn't have been truer words. The crowd at the Born This Way Ball was made up entirely of LGBT people and allies. Gaga has managed to sell out venues all over the world for a tour that is centred around the belief that gay people are born gay. As Laura's Dad said - 'Nobody under 30 cares if people are gay anymore - now its just Republicans in their 60s and Sarah's parents' (haha!)

Lady Gay Gay
The lesbians at the show were truly a sight to behold in themselves. We were so surprised, and impressed, at the variety of lesbians in the stadium - we know quite a few femme couples, but we were still surprised at how many lesbian couples were there who didn't fit the lesbian 'stereotype'. It is proof that the lesbian dynamic is changing - we aren't mostly butch lesbians with a few femmes, we are beautifully all so different from each other! And we all love Lady Gaga :)

Gaga performed an acoustic version of her song 'Hair', about being accepted for being who you are - and after the first few lines, we were both full on crying in the middle of the stadium. With all the trouble surrounding Sarah's relationship with her parents, the lyrics really spoke to us, and they were beautiful.

Whenever I'm dressed cool my parents put up a fightAnd if I'm hot shot, mom will cut my hair at nightAnd in the morning I'm short of my identityI scream, "Mom and dad, why can't I be who I wanna be, to be?"
I just wanna be myself and I want you to loveMe for who I amI just wanna be myself and I want you to knowI am my hair
I've had enough, this is my prayerThat I'll die livin' just as free as my hairI've had enough, this is my prayerThat I'll die livin' just as free as my hair
Next she performed an acoustic version of John Lennon's 'Imagine' - one of our favourite songs, and it was stunning. All 55,000 people sang along, and it was truly an emotional and inspirational moment.

If you have a chance to, definitely go see Lady Gaga in concert. (Go see it twice, like our friends Danielle and Sarah!) She puts so much into it - you won't be disappointed.

Thank you, Gaga, for your continued support of the LGBT community, and of anyone who is 'different'. Thank you for putting on a truly kick ass show!! We love you and can't wait to see what you come up with next.

Have you seen the Born This Way Ball?? What do you think of Lady Gaga?