Hello, there. It’s been awhile, no? How’ve you been? Read any good books lately?
As for me, well — I’ve been BUSY. Right before we left for London, I had grand illusions that everything in our lives would pretty much pick up the second we arrived at Heathrow airport. We’d collect our baggage, pile into a big van and sail off into the sunrise, ready to start our adventure as Londoners.
The thing is, I really should’ve known better. It’s not like we haven’t moved before. Actually, by my count, we’ve actually moved to three different cities in the last three years. In our “forever” home back in the DC suburbs, I never even bothered hanging pictures. The dust had barely settled on our home renovation before we’d found out we were moving to London. Pictures on walls make me feel like our home has some degree of permanence, so I just gave up and watched reruns on Netflix instead.
As if an international move with young kids wasn’t complicated enough, a few days before we left the U.S., I found out that I’d been awarded funding to attend a culinary program at Leith’s, one of London’s top cooking schools. I’d lusted after this program for nearly a year, and I could hardly believe my luck. The hubby was totally on board to introducing even more chaos into our lives, so a few days after we arrived I started my program.
To say that attending Leith’s was a dream come true is an understatement. While I have truly loved and obsessed over every dish I write about on this blog, I’ve always had a nagging sense of self-doubt when it came to cooking and posting recipes. I have wondered whether I really have any sort of credibility, being an entirely self-taught cook. I mean, I have a lot of degrees and licenses to back me up on my day job, but I felt like a hack when it came to this hobby of mine. Being a student again, having instructors give me feedback, learning new skills and feeling validated in so many ways — well, it was just plain amazing.
In the midst of this intense daily school schedule, shortly after our move we also learned that the housing we’d planned for wasn’t going to work out, and we ended up spending a few weeks longer in temporary housing than we’d anticipated. Of course, we really couldn’t complain because the housing we were staying in was really nice and in a fantastic location in central London. However, if you’ve never lived out of a suitcase for seven weeks, let me just say this: it gets tedious. I missed the most random things, like a step stool for the kids. This might sound really silly, but our kids still can’t reach the sink in most bathrooms, which meant that every day for seven weeks I hoisted at least 35 pounds of kid up to a sink to help wash little hands. I did that multiple times a day. Water gets splashed everywhere. I did not have dry pants for weeks.
Then, three weeks ago, our furniture and household goods arrived, and it was like Christmas. I have spent every free minute of my time ever since getting us settled in to our new apartment. Before we left the U.S., I carefully and meticulously purged our belongings, trying to save very little for storage. In the end, most of our furniture didn’t make it to London because of weight limits from our movers. We had to buy replacements here, which we mostly did at IKEA. Somehow, though, when our stuff started coming into our apartment, it was still a lot of freaking stuff.
I can confidently say now that we’re feeling pretty settled, which is to say that everything has been stored away and (if possible) into a labeled container of some sort. Still, I spend at least 15 minutes a day roaming our apartment and yelling, “WHERE IS IT?!!”
Most importantly, look! We hung pictures!
Our dining room is massive and has the largest spans of uninterrupted walls in our apartment, so I took advantage by clustering all of our pictures together in one space. As I mentioned, for me, hanging pictures = permanence. We officially live in London now.
Our apartment overlooks a fairly busy street with a bus stop right below us, and the kids love perching themselves on the sofa and looking out at all the double-decker buses passing our building.
The kids’ “playroom” is actually just part of our living room with a series of IKEA Kallax shelves that I filled with bins from Wal-Mart that take up the entire space of each shelf. I drew pictures on chalkboard labels that depict each type of toy that goes into the bins, and miraculously, the kids do a decent job of putting things back where they belong (but of course, I took this photo when they weren’t home).
My favorite new additions to our hanging picture collection are these Umbra hanging photo galleries. Over the years, we’ve accumulated quite a few photos, and framing each one would take up massive amounts of space. Plus, I love that I can just keep switching or adding photos as we take new ones.
We also have a lovely balcony (still a work in progress) which gets great morning sun. One of these days I’ll actually get out there and do a very British thing by having tea while reading the morning paper.
For now, I’m just super happy we have step stools again. Step stools in the house = dry pants for me. Hooray!
(And thus I am back to blogging…nine weeks after we left the US…)