Thursday, 28 February 2013


As modern, up-to-date, blogg-y girls (these are official terms), there are some recent trends we did not like - but we kept silent, and now we're kind of okay with them. Kind of.

Like Hello Kitty

Crazy nail art

Giant glittery 4 year old child phone cases

Duck lips (okay, we haven't really kept quiet or become okay with that unattractive trend, but you get our drift)

But thanks to an awesome blog post by Adventures in Mediocrity, we've decided to speak out about one that has really REALLY been bothering us.


We, along with Meghan (and hopefully you'll join and we'll all start a revolution!) want to stop people on Instagram (yes, thats us, you and everyone we know) using #foodporn.

We all know at least one person who photographs their food (hey, we do that too, that's not the issue!) and always hashtags food porn. Maybe its baking. Or breakfast. Or a before and after plate photo (we've seen them! Trust us, we know what happens to food. We don't need a photo of the aftermath). But all of this is most definitely not porn.

This is #foodporn
This is not.
#food makes us think 'mmmmm, get in my belly'

#porn makes us think 'how has this account not been blocked yet?'

#foodporn makes us think 'is that hygenic?'

It's simple.

Lesson over. As homework, please pop over to Adventures in Mediocrity to read Meghan's views on the subject, and IMPORTANT: Watch the video. All the way through. And imagine two of the people on your Instagram feed who always #foodporn as the two people in the video.

It's not pleasant, but nor is any shock therapy. Trust us, you'll never #foodporn again!

Join the #notfoodporn revolution today!!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

UK vs USA Wedding Differences!


As you know, Laura and I are a USA/UK partnership - over the past couple of years our different upbringings have seemed to have less and less impact on our daily lives. What we eat, do and say are becoming more and more alike. This time last year we even did a post on our language differences - something we are still working on :)

As we are now at the start of wedding planning we are noticing that this important event is done differently on both sides of the Atlantic. The fundamentals remain the same; a wedding is a joining of two people who are in love and want to make a public and legal commitment to each other till death do they part. The details however are more different than we'd have thought!

We have checked our understandings with friends to make sure we aren't making things up or confusing our limited wedding experiences with episodes of 'Four Weddings' or 'My Fair Wedding' or any number of wedding shows we have recorded.

So what differences are we talking about?

Lets start at the very beginning as it turns out that there are differences on how weddings are organised! For instance, the Bridesmaids - in the UK bridesmaids dresses are paid for along with shoes and accessories. I understand that generally, this is NOT the case in the USA. When it comes to pulling their weight/doing their duty as a Bridesmaid, American Bridesmaids also tend to step up more to offer help with DIY and are significantly involved in the planning. British bridesmaids are not greatly involved until the day of - it's a walk in the park in comparison :)

Language difference alert: BACHELORETTE vs HEN party. In essence they are one and the same, except for a few details, such as that in the US they don't have 'L plates' for the brides. Laura does not want us having a Hen Party. I have conceded on this one as we will be having our party in the USA and I'm not sure explaining that we are a 'Hen Party' will work at every venue. We will share our plans on what the Bachelorette party will be when we have it confirmed.

Attire - dress-wise we will both be wearing wedding dresses, so that's not the issue - but when it comes to the guests that's where things start to change. In the UK, as guests we wear hats to weddings, or more recently fascinators! It's common for all most all the ladies to be modelling some sort of head gear - though that's not as much the case in America!

Royal wedding fascinators!
To the wedding ceremony, when do bridesmaids walk - before or after the bride? In the USA bridesmaids lead the bride, they pass down the aisle and make their way to the front where they remain standing for the ceremony. In the UK the bride leads and the bridesmaids tend to follow and help with the train if necessary. They then sit on the front row.

Best Bridesmaids ever
In fact, being a bridesmaid in the UK seems a WHOLE lot easier - they don't pay for much, their responsibility is mainly on the day, in the USA they really work for the title!

In the UK the groom (not relevant in our case but still a point to note) must remain facing forwards until his bride arrives at the front - how difficult would that be! One of us will be at the front and there is NO way we'll have our back to the congregation, we want to see and enjoy it all.

At British weddings we have a wedding 'breakfast' regardless of the time! It is held after the wedding ceremony. According to Wikipedia the reason is:

'The name is claimed to have arisen from the fact that in pre-Reformation times the wedding service was usually a Eucharistic Mass and that the bride and bridegroom would therefore have been fasting before the wedding in order to be eligible to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion. After the wedding ceremony was complete, the priest would bless and distribute some wine, cakes, and sweetmeats, which were then handed round to the company, including the bride and groom. This distribution of food and drink was therefore a literal “break fast” for the bride and groom'. 

We will not be having a wedding breakfast, we are doing the American version and will have a wedding meal/dinner! At the meal, our first entrance as a married couple will be in the USA style, that  is accompanied with an announcement, applause and the band. In the UK a polite round of applause suffices but we want to start the meal as a celebration!

At dinner there is also the difference with the top table - in the USA the table tends to seat the bridal party - in the UK it tends to be the Bride/Grooms family. We will be going for something that isn't US or UK! Stay tuned!!

Oh and then there's who comes to the wedding meal. That may seem obvious but its not so. In the UK we  have two separate celebrations, we have the formal part with the ceremony and the meal, then we invite additional evening guests. Laura explained that doesn't happen in the USA, everyone invited comes to the whole day. As we are having a destination wedding it makes sense that everyone will come to the whole day.

Now something we both found weird was in the USA people apparently hit the dance floor between courses! We both love to dance but pre-dinner!?! We will therefore be doing the British way of serving all our courses THEN dancing. That way everyone will have the energy to dance into the night.

Then there's the cake - traditionally, wedding cake has been a fruit cake in the UK (though we know brides are moving away from this tradition!) and displayed using pillars between layers where as in the USA the cake tends to be stacked and made of something delicious! We will be going for the delicious cake but the design is yet to be finalised! We know it will be red velvet and we know it will taste SO GOOD as we've already chosen our baker!

As you can see we have quite a few things to discuss and as with the rest of our life it will be a fantastic fusion of USA/UK! Just wait 'till we get started on the food :) I think there may be a sizable amount of Dairy Milk chocolate coming with us!

Friday, 22 February 2013

We're Planning A Wedding!!

FINALLY we are going to do a wedding post!! Yay!!

Do you like the banner? We made it for our wedding website, and similar things will appear throughout our big day!

We are so excited to be planning our wedding, even through all the ups and downs that have been going on.

We are getting hitched in Laura's home state of Idaho (woohoo!) on the last weekend of June next year!
Laura's beautiful hometown
First of all, we got ourselves the most wonderful wedding planner - Brandi from Soiree Weddings & Events! We are so thrilled that she is going to help us plan our big day. We thought it was very important to have a professional help us make our day everything we dreamed about because it would be so difficult to plan everything from a different country. We are so excited to work with her!

Because we are super awesome planners, when we were at home in December, we checked out two wedding venues!

Riverside Lodge in Garden Valley, Idaho

We almost didn't make it to this viewing! Garden Valley is about 1.5 hours from Laura's house, but we had to pick up the keys at the office in nearby Crouch (attractive town name, right?). When we got there, we couldn't find the office, so we parked where the Sat Nav told us it would be, and called the letting company. The woman told us we had 'gone too far' and to come back where we came from. So we drove back through the town, and called again. We were told that we were in fact 9 miles away and had to go into Garden Valley. ....Okay.... so we drove. And drove. And drove. Finally, our poor pregnant wedding planner called the woman again. To our surprise, the woman said we misunderstood - that she was telling us where the cabin was, and that we did need to get the keys from her in Crouch. As you can imagine, hotheaded Laura & her dad were seething at this point. They were SO annoyed, and Sarah & Laura's mum were trying to calm them down. L was worried we wouldn't see the lodge before the sun went down - complete disaster in the countryside where there are no lights! When we finally got back to the office in Crouch, she waved us down. The office was - no joke - 100 feet from where we first called her from. So the whole fiasco was because instead of 'you've gone too far' which implied we were far away, she should have said 'oh, you're right here!' Seriously. So Laura & Bob successfully got through the conversation with her without being unpleasant (besides their kick-ass dagger eyes, of course) and we headed off to the venue. It was, thankfully, still light outside once we got there, so all was forgiven :)

We also visited the Roseberry Barn in McCall, Idaho

The barn was beautiful, but we absolutely fell in love with the lodge. Once we arrived, there was just no question. It is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains and a river, and just absolutely beautiful. The best thing is that because it's so secluded, it can just be one big celebration for a whole weekend!

Beautiful view from the back of our venue
So we booked it! Venue = sorted!

We have chosen our bridesmaids, but as we haven't asked all of them yet we will do a post dedicated to them when we have!! We will say we are so lucky to have so many wonderful ladies around us, and will do as we become Mrs. & Mrs.!

We had a wonderful photographer, Sara Byrne, contact us on Twitter a few weeks ago now. We'd been looking for an awesome Boise based photographer, and we immediately spent hours pouring through her wedding photos - and loved them. We had to book her only a week later to secure the date , and am excited to be her first 2014 booking, and first lesbian wedding! (Though that's not surprising in Idaho, we expect to be a lot of people's firsts!) Also, her fiance and co-photographer has incredible facial hair - and we only work with men with good facial hair (please refer to our mustaches post).

Phew! We've been engaged for 2 months today (the time is FLYING, we are still constantly staring at our rings!) and feel like we've got a lot done already.

Oooh when we were in Birmingham a few weeks ago to see our lovely friends Lauren & Sarah, they took some stunning close-ups of our engagement rings - we thought we'd share with you! They are so beautiful, and we love that they aren't yet scratched haha!

Sarah's ring - it says 'Past, Present, Future' on the inside with a few diamonds - as they say, it's all in the details!
Happy planning!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

What We Love Wednesday - Date Nights!

I love Laura. Have I made that obvious yet?! The thing about love is it has to endure the good times and the bad and right now we are are pulling together to get over the bad news from my parents. Laura couldn't have planned this date at a better time.

I was told on Monday that we were heading out on a date on Tuesday but that I wasn't allowed to ask anything about it. I spent all day Tuesday feeling like we were newly dating - I had butterflies, I got giggly when people asked if I had heard anything about the date but most of all I was so excited that clock watching made the afternoon drag.

At exactly 6pm I bounded out the door and headed to my destination - Green Park! I was a little confused as Green Park on a Tuesday night doesn't seem like a great date location. As soon as I spotted Laura on the other side I bounded across the road, it felt like we were first dating and I loved it!

As soon as we were together Laura marched us off in the direction of Piccadilly Circus, and I was still completely in the dark about what was in store! The closer to Piccadilly we got the more Laura was checking her phone for directions. Eventually I recognised that we were near Carnaby Street and after a few more turns we were in Kingly Court and outside the Marshmallow Apothecary.

We had spotted the pop-up store on Instagram and Laura had looked into it for date night. The idea behind the store is that you are prescribed various marshmallows depending on your symptoms. There was a list on the counter explaining what was on offer and the 'Doctors' let you try a selection. We were prescribed some for a cold, for a pick me up and for anti-rabies (well after Thailand we thought we'd play it safe).

Within the pop-up store there were more marshmallow shaped seats, cushions and tables than you'd ever need! We made the most of it by getting comfortable to enjoy our prescription!

After our health fix we headed for dinner at TGI Fridays and enjoyed the French Canadian Burger - Laura's favourite - and copious amounts of Jack Daniels Sauce on my chicken and shrimp! So good!!!

Once dinner was finished we strolled through Leicester Square to Covent Garden and to check out a potential venue for our joint engagement/ 30th party. On arrival at the venue we met the manager and got a tour of the available spaces, we fell in love with 2 rooms so plan to head back on a Friday night to check out the atmosphere! The free drinks we were given definitely helped us enjoy the visit. Oh and the fact that we accidentally walked into an Indian speed-dating event, it was like a scene from New Girl!!

We love Covent Garden, there's always something going on and plenty of photo opportunities - it's such a nice place to head on a date. We also discovered that there is a Wholefoods invasion happening in London. We first discovered the joy of Wholefoods in Boise so to say Laura was happy to find it here is an understatement! We are sure that there will be more a few paycheques spent here - or as Wholefoods tweeted us to tell us we can head to Kensington and visit the biggest store they have so it may be spent there!

I was so grateful to Laura for organising the evening, the time together was much needed and it allowed us to focus on just being us and as us we're great! I forget how funny Laura is but last night we spent a lot of time laughing and really enjoying each others' company. I have an endless list of reasons I'm marrying my beautiful Laura including the fact that she knows just how to pick me up when I need it.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Drama, Drama, Drama.

Drama, Drama, Drama! I was hoping to write this post with a weight lifted and with happy news but unfortunately that isn't the case. To explain further, I, Sarah, went home yesterday to share some of our wedding plans and to ask the all important question to my parents 'Will you be coming to the wedding?'

In previous posts you may have seen hints that we are in fact getting married in Idaho. There are a million and one reasons why we decided to choose Laura's home town and the fact that it is just beautiful for a Country themed wedding. I knew it would make things more difficult for my parents and I also knew it would mean getting things organised way ahead of our wedding date - just over a year away.

Part of the organisation involved finding out if my parents would be there as that would impact room plans, flight costs and just about everything else. I had prepared myself to hear that they wouldn't come. I knew after the negative reaction to the fact that we were getting married chances were slim. I had spoken to others who had a hard time with their parents and they all said that they're parents eventually came round and attended their weddings. As much as that gave me hope I didn't want to get my expectations raised, I was pretty sure that they would say 'no'.

I was right! I didn't just get a 'no', I got a 'no, never, not going to happen'. In fact when I explained some of the plans and how I would like them involved I got told that the only reason they would come is to kidnap me and make sure they were there to say their piece when asked if someone knew of a reason we shouldn't get married. With that reaction I told them not to bother coming.

The thing I really struggle with is the comments don't come in anger, they come with tears, confusion and frustration. My parents feel like they did something wrong to stop me being 'normal'. Should I not have gone to Uni? Should they have stopped me moving to London?! Was it who I hung out with?! When I explain that I was born this way they can't understand why no-one else in our family is gay, it therefore it can't be genetic.

They feel like I should have tried harder to resist, I should have fought to be straight, I should have tried harder with my boyfriends. Or maybe if I had told them I had 'gay feelings' earlier they could have got me help!!! They want to find a way to turn me straight.

And here's the thing: I want to be angry, I want to scream and shout at them for being ridiculous. They know they are alone in their views, that the rest of the family is judging their lack of acceptance but they can't change. They say can't, not won't, just can't. They say that the thought of us is disgusting and that it breaks their heart.

In loving Laura I have been accused of many things including being selfish but in truth loving Laura has been the best thing I have ever done. My parents are right when they say I went full-on into a relationship knowing they would disagree, I continue it knowing it hurts them and in all honesty, I am making my happiness a priority over theirs, and I will continue to do so. If that makes me selfish so be it.

Am I being selfish when I say I am relieved they aren't coming to the wedding, as I want to enjoy what will be the best day of my life so far? I want Laura to enjoy it. I don't want the worry of them standing there glum, not participating and not accepting causing a scene.

That brings me to now. What do I do now? I don't know who I am asking - I guess I am asking me. Laura is out tonight, and I am meant to be writing a letter to explain to my parents that I do feel let down and need a break from talking to them but right now I just feel numb. I knew what was coming - it's not unexpected, but what is is the fact that other than the hurtful comments they still tell me they love me, they support me, they want me to be part of their lives. They just don't want to be a part of biggest part of mine. So I just don't know how.

Can kids disown parents?

Maybe I am fearful of being the one that says 'That's it, all in or all out'. But then, what's my end game? I don't want to push them to attend the wedding for the reasons I've said, so do I want to give them an ultimatum? But I do want a relationship with my family, but a relationship that takes my whole life into consideration - not just part. I was hoping writing this post would help would get me to a point of clarity - it hasn't.

It has cleared my head though, I know I can't bury my head and ignore it. I need to talk it through. I just need to protect what I have and most importantly who I have. Laura is my future, my family and the one I am committing to. I need to do what's right for us. I don't want to hurt her by giving my parents time that I could be spending with her. How would I feel if she gave up days with me to spend with people who don't acknowledge me or our relationship, and say awful things about me?! Hurt. Disappointed. Let down. Sad.

The only conclusion I currently have is to put pen to paper and explain how I currently feel to my parents - explain that I'm confused and take time out from them. Clear my head. Decide what I want to happen. Could I handle cutting my parents out completely, even just for the moment? I know whatever I do my parents will accept. I know where they stand and I know that won't change. Maybe I just need to be brave. I am just not one for confrontation - how will I look back in 10 years knowing I cut my parents off. It doesn't matter who or how many people tell me it would be their own fault I still kinda feel like it would make me no better than them. They can't accept me yet they want a relationship. I can't understand or accept their behaviour yet I want a relationship. But how can we have a relationship that doesn't acknowledge my wife to be? Do I even want that?

Ah drama, drama, drama. I guess every family has theirs - right?!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Love Makes the World Go 'Round: Valentine's Day 2013

Love - it's such a little word, yet there is so much meaning in it. As you may know, our blog is as much a record of us and our lives as it is a place to share stories and news, so when an event like Valentine's Day comes around we like to capture as much of it as possible. Before I get started though, Laura put a status on our Sprezzatura Facebook page that summed up 2013's Valentine's Day for me:

The reason I say that is this year has so far been a year of love coming at us from all angles. Since getting engaged, friends, family, our blog friends, Twitter followers and work colleagues couldn't have been more generous or thoughtful. We've had so many heart warming cards from around the world - from family in Australia to blog friends we've never met, it shows love really does bring happiness. In addition to that we've had such thoughtful gifts from Laura's cousins and our bridesmaids who between them have offered to do our wedding invites, thrown us an engagement party with the best food (by Sarah & Lauren) and been so generous it took our breath away! We really are so lucky!

Back to Valentine's Day this year and we decided once again that we wouldn't do presents because we are SO good at sticking to that rule :) The day started in a rush as I had a 8.45am meeting at work - clearly no-one in my office thinks of romance in the the morning! I did however manage to sneak a card into Laura's bag.

My card to Laura xoxo
Laura had packed me off with a cake tin filled with delicious homemade cupcakes for my team and I was able to put a smile on everyone's face as soon as I had finished my call. Who wouldn't want to start the day with a banana cupcake with the most delicious real strawberry icing?! Certainly no-one in my office resisted. It's amazing how nice it feels to be nice, it was an unexpected present I got to enjoy courtesy of Laura, I even got a few hugs!!

Over at Laura's office, giving out her cupcakes was postponed to after lunch as one of the guys in her team had brought in brownies. However, the feedback on tasting them was pretty much the same as it had been in mine:

We had hoped that meeting at lunch would be possible but now we don't work as close it's only possible if neither of us have meetings immediately after lunch as we have to rely on public transport. Thankfully things worked in our favour, or maybe cupid was playing his part but Laura was able to get a bus and walk the 15 mins to meet me as my tube pulled in to the station. Our romantic lunch date location - McDonald's haha!! Mainly because we knew we could get a table and the service was quick enough to give us time to talk and gaze lovingly at each other, as much as you can in a McDonald's :)  Funnily enough this McDonald's did play love songs the whole time.

The highlight of the lunch date was getting to spend half an hour catching up and enjoying each other company, oh and the fact that I left with this GIANT COOKIE:
I'm a lucky lady, Laura made this!!!
My present for Laura arrived when she got back for lunch and combined with picking her up after work put me as the joint best present giver in her office! I'm not sure if I should be pleased or disappointed! I always like to send L things to show her I'm thinking of her, Valentine's Day or not.

As I was finishing work early, L's generosity continued in her office - each person was given a pack of Lovehearts with historical Valentine's Day cards - this girl does holidays and she does them well!!!

My time at home was spent bringing back part of my proposal. As it had been windy and a somewhat emotional time up at Lucky Peak Laura had said she hadn't had a chance to read all the hearts I had written so I had hidden the hearts when we returned ready for this very day. I laid them out so each one could be read then lit candles and tidied, the lounge was ready for our evening of chilled romance.

I met Laura straight from her office and we ordered Chinese ready for delivery when we got in, as with everything else that day it worked perfectly and by 7pm we were snuggled on the couch enjoying the Bachelor. There's nothing quite like hugging the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with while watching others find theirs.

Laura's card to me was perfect, with photos of our engagement her head was obviously in the same place mine was! There is something about being engaged that made this Valentine's Day feel extra special.

Valentine's Day to me is a great opportunity to stop and make sure everyone I know is smiling but no-one more than Laura - I mean it when I say I love her more each and every day!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

What's Happy Hot Stuff?? Gay travel, equal marriage & Scouts!!

Just over a year ago we posted 'Not-So-Gay Travel: Better to be safe than sorry! One of the reasons behind the post was because we were looking for destinations to head to on our next holiday and were interested in finding out how accepting different countries were of gay people. Even though Egypt featured on the Top 10 list of places that were NOT gay friendly we had a great day trip there last summer- but we were cautious not to be overly affectionate in public.

The recent news in the UK that the house of Commons has backed the gay marriage bill has brought equality and treatment of gay people back into the news and that is never a bad thing. (See L's post on it here). However while the UK may be showing that equality is the way for the 21st century there are still plenty of countries that are left in the dark ages.

The latest update we have seen on countries stance came in the Metro paper on Wednesday - alongside the article on gay marriage! So if you didn't see the article here's the latest list of punishments you could expect in certain countries:
Antigua and Barbuda: 15 years' jail
Barbados: Life in prison
Dominica: Ten years in prison or sectioning (put in a secure unit)
Grenada: Ten years in jail for men
Guyana: Life in prison
Jamaica: Ten years' hard labour for men
Kenya: 14 years jail time
Malaysia: 20 years in prison
Mauritius: Five years in jail
Morocco: Three years prison time
Saint Kitts and Nevis: Ten years jail time for men
St Lucia: Ten years in prison for men
St Vincent and the Grenadines: Ten years jail time
Seycelles: 14 years in prison
Solomon Islands: 14 years in jail
Singapore: 2 years in jail
Trinadad and Tobago: 25 years in prison
Tunisia: 3 years in jail
United Arab Emirates: Deportation or death!!!!!
The most Homophobic Countries
Some of these countries featured on our previous top 10 but it's always surprising seeing so many beautiful countries ready to imprison people for showing love! Crazy in a world where there is so much anger and violence, surely the more love the better!!!

On the positive side, the countries that have come out to welcome gay people include:
Scandinavia - Denmark especially
Great Britain (of course)

On the note of gay/equal marriage there was another BBC article that came out in the wake of the commons debate that summed up what happened that day and it's fair to say that some of the comments that came out were truly shocking. The day in quotes is here: So while the majority of UK people have supported a huge step forwards in progress there still remains some who are just as homophobic and outdated as ever.

Funnily enough in a conversation with L's grandparents and later her Dad they both highlighted that holding on to outdated views is no way to make the better place. To explain further we were discussing how in the States the Scouts are currently debating on whether gay people should be allowed to join. The debate featured a young Scout advocating that without allowing gays the Scouts will are discriminatory organisation. The guy arguing the opposite was an older guy who stood fast in his belief that 'the old way was best' - as L's Dad said - when kids look at joining the Scouts whose the opinion are they more likely to take into consideration: a young, up to date Scout or an out-dated old guy who will be dead soon?! (and hopefully his views with him?!) See what Ellen has to say below:

Enjoy the rest of your weekend