i heart london.

June 20, 2016

London quickly tied with Sydney when it comes to places I would love to live outside of the United States. The first night we arrived, Max and I went off exploring and I'll forever remember walking along the Thames as Big Ben chimed 8 that night, just as we were heading back to our hotel. Seeing London in the movies and pictures, and imagining what it might be like honestly can't compare to the real thing. I love London, I love it so much, and although we only spent a few short days there, I hope with all my heart we will be back soon.

We tried to fit in as much as we could while we were there, but in order to keep this brief the highlights would have to include morning prayer at Westminster Abbey, Les Miserables at Queens Theater, and strolling through Hyde Park on a Sunday afternoon.

Once we left the city, we visited Stratford and Oxford (both incredible!), and stayed in a legit haunted hotel at Ettington Park. In fact, as soon as you arrive they hand you a little pamphlet detailing the hauntings and recent ghost sitings throughout the hotel. I was so excited about this part of the trip... right until we pulled up that evening. Just look at it. It screams haunted. I'm not one to get creeped out easily, but after exploring the grounds that night, and walking through the small church and cemetery in the back (nearly 1,000 years old) -- frankly, the best way I can describe the place is constantly feeling like you're being watched, even though the rational part of your brain knows you're not. I quickly learned that eerie just isn't my cup of tea, and I may/may not have had to sleep with the lights on.

And last but not least, the Upper-Slaughters in Cheltenham had to be the most beautiful place I've seen in all my life. There are no words I can say, or pictures that have been taken, that could do anything about this place justice. I imagine Cheltenham was created with heaven in mind; I never wanted to leave, and it was the best possible way to end our time in England.

maybe it's time to move to amsterdam

June 19, 2016

For years we've talked about visiting Europe as a family, and this last Christmas an envelope waiting underneath the Christmas tree announced that 2016 was finally going to be the year! Amsterdam was the first stop and the canals, bicycles (it's a miracle none of us were run over by one, they're everywhere), the windmills, the small villages - ALL OF IT was right out of a picture book.

I think I took this photo just right before we turned a corner and stumbled upon the infamous Red Light District. You could smell the weed from a mile away, and some of the shops, toys, and girls in the windows, nothing in Vegas can compare to.

Max illegally snapped this picture of me touching the real bookcase that hid the Frank family during WWII. I wish we had been allowed to take photos, because the whole experience was incredible. Walking into the actual room Anne Frank once shared in the "secret annex", and seeing her pictures of Greta Garbo and Ginger Rogers still taped on the wall, was moving beyond words.

A painting of a Holland windmill at the Rijksmusem, 
and then seeing the real thing the next day

We visited a few Dutch windmill villages, but my favorite of all was Zaanse Schans. Put this on your bucket list ASAP.

If you follow me on snapchat, you would have seen our stop at Muiderslot Castle. I've never laughed so hard in my life, it really felt like some sort of a Twilight Zone episode when we first walked in. Everything was weird and it was totally not worth the 20 euros, or the claustrophobia, but at the very least it's a good memory.

And finally, the little village of Edam. When Ken snapped this photo I immediately had her send it to me! Who knew Holland would be such a dream?

this is a true story.

June 12, 2016

People don't refer to me as Monica from Friends for no reason. For years I've always been more anxious than probably your average teenager or 20-something-year-old, and if you've got something to worry about - I'll usually worry about it for you.

With that being said, imagine anxious-me (alongside with Max) meeting with a financial aid advisor at the U to discuss tuition/loans (edit: unsubsidized loans)/cost of living/etc. over the next four years. About an hour later, as Max and I were sitting at a mall in downtown Salt Lake, and after a realization of the amount of debt we are taking on sunk in, I started to cry. I don't know what came over me, aside from that all too familiar feeling of anxiety, but I cried. In the middle of the food court. In the middle of the day. And the worst part is, I couldn't stop. Max eventually had to grab napkins at the Subway counter because the mascara was streaming --- which thankfully was right around the time I remembered something dear Oprah Winfrey once taught me: "Say thank you!"

It's a lesson I've learned, will continue to learn, and one that I hope to practice a lot in the months and years ahead: Say thank you! As Oprah would say, for the blessings you have, or even as Pinterest put it, to interrupt anxiety with gratitude. 

And maybe just like any other twenty-something year old, or any other wife whose husband is about to begin medical school, or really any other person alive on earth, there are times we'll all feel tremendously uncertain, or for a number of reasons feel inclined to doubt ourself or our circumstances instead of having faith. Whatever the case, when I try to remember the things that I have been blessed with, and I remind myself of the way things have always fallen into place, my faith as well as my gratitude increases. 

I'll jump off the soapbox. But maybe at the end of the day if I work really, really hard on all of this, people will finally refer to me as Rachel from Friends instead. That's the goal.

one can dream.

June 5, 2016

Though it might be a long time before we can actually buy a house, my daydream home is a hybrid between the following three:

Father of the Bride Home (which was just listed!!)

Kathleen Kelly's You've Got Mail Apartment:

And this Cottage in Bewitched:

Dream, dream, dream.

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