Category Archives: tv

the tail-end of the year of the dragon

Hi, everyone (reading this)! Happy 2013! If your New Year’s resolution was to read more really long not-that-interesting blog posts, then … you’re welcome.

Our Christmastime/Winterpalooza was really nice. So many people skip town that London gets really quiet and peaceful almost. Luckily our Aussie friends stayed and so we had Christmas Eve lunch with them at – where else – Wagamama. And Greg came to visit the weekend right before the holiday and it was great to have him for like the 5th time or something. In his honor, we all made the terrible decision to order Papa John’s late one night. This bad American pizza does not improve on other continents. And did you know they charge extra for the garlic dipping sauce now?

IMG_2331 Line up Simon Jonah Adeline 241212

IMG_2546We bought this beautiful Winterpalooza tree this year but after just a few days, it completely dried out. Watering is not my forte- I think because I am Jewish and therefore ill-equipped in holiday decoration management. So it looked a little Charlie Brown-ish for about a week or so, but that did not dampen the pure elation and joy that little kids bring to Christmas. I feel like Jonah is at that sweet spot age: old enough to know about all the secular aspects of Christmas lore, old enough to fervently and excitedly believe in Santa Claus, and old enough to get ridiculously excited over every detail, like seeing a picture of a snowman or leaving carrots out for the reindeer, but NOT old enough to be greedy nor understand quantity, volume and monetary value when it comes to gifts. He gets as excited over a jar of bubbles as his much-requested Mike the Knight toy. We really enjoyed one of our last years before our kids start asking for iPads and mobile phones and gaming systems and cold, hard cash for bail. We also got Jonah into Elf – a win for everyone.

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Even though this was not our first rodeo, it had somehow escaped us that Boxing Day is like the biggest, craziest shopping day in the nation (and what’s with the 1/2 price perfume thing??). So when Bryan set out to exchange a shirt at Zara, I got some desperate SOS messages on my phone- in one of them he said in the store “It looked like God threw up human beings”. The possibilities for that visual have delighted me for days on end.

Bryan’s office was closed through the new year so we basically had our first ever, true Staycation. London was pretty much overcast and rainy almost every single day of it, but we did not let that deter us. We visited the:

Horniman Museum

IMG_2635Horniman is a private collection of natural history, musical instruments, photographs etc. on a huge family-friendly expanse in South London and I had been wanting to go for a while. We really enjoyed it, and the bonus at the very end were the views to central London.

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V&A Museum of Childhood

IMG_2651This is another museum I had been wanting to check out for ages. It was so engaging and good for kids and adults alike, that we ended up there twice in a two-week span. It’s a collection of child-related toys, objects, and clothing from the 1600s to modern times, as well as containing numerous fun activity stations for kids like a sand pit, climbing frame, arts & crafts, robots, light show etc. So basically while the urchins were distracted, Bryan could absolutely FREAK OUT about seeing an intact Tyco electric racing set (no seriously, that is him looking longingly at it) and I could exclaim victory when finally coming across a Jem and the Holograms doll.

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And it reminded me I had the Heart Family too!


And I am drooling for this vintage Maclaren. Wish they still made the pattern.


Windsor Castle

IMG_2725Who knew when we spontaneously decided to finally visit the castle and charming town, we would be sharing the train with 9,000 die-hard rugby fans going to a match at Twickenham. Decked out in their gear and drinking and carrying on, no one could believe we didn’t want to alight at Twickenham. Yes, we were the only people left on the train after that. I have never felt so American. The day was very rainy and there were lots of people queueing and crowded in at the castle and there was the obligatory welcome audio message from Prince Charles (his posh/congested accent grates), but the castle was totally worth the visit. Pretty spectacular actually. We couldn’t take pictures inside, but managed a few in the pub afterwards. It looked pretty similar to the Queen’s State Apartments.

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Science Museum

IMG_2785I take the kids to the Science Museum all the time, but it was fun to go with Bryan and have more time there and also on a day when over a school break so the place was teeming with families. There is a lot I have never even explored there and it just solidified for me again that it’s one of the most amazing museums we have ever been to. Jonah always loves the space shuttle and astronauts and planes and this time we took the kids to an IMAX 3-D. It was Simon’s first ever movie and he wouldn’t wear the special glasses, so I guess sorry about the vertigo, my toddler. There was also a bubble show every half hour that I have to admit even I was pretty into. But no matter how many cool things to see and do, nothing can ever compete in the eyes of a little kid with the water feature and toy boats in the playroom in the basement. It is a mass of young children going ape-shit with excitement and equally with paranoid horror that someone might steal their boat. It’s a frenzy, a free-for-all, a total and utter scene of toddler/preschooler crack-addled chaos. And the parents all just hover around trying to take pictures and break up gang fights.

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Our New Year’s was low-key and IMHO, perfect. We went out for dinner, had a dance party at home (to Jonah, the elevator scene in Gangnam Style has not jumped the shark) and then Bryan and I stayed up to watch the British chat shows where things happen like celebrities do shots of Jager through the nipples on an ice bust of Alan Carr, play games like “Who would you shag?” and pummel a piñata of Boris Johnson – thus reminding us this is not American TV.


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The fireworks looked incredible and I didn’t feel bad passing out at 12:15. My inspiration came from the hilarious Albert Burneko in Deadspin:

One of the things that changes when you become a haggard, grayfaced grownup is how you spend New Year’s Eve. When you were a hip, attractive, energetic young person, you spent the night traipsing between crowded, noisy bars, meeting interesting people and talking excitedly about your plans for the future, and your whole goddamn life was like a sexy neon-lit music video, and you were immune from consequences, and, God, you were just the fucking worst. Now you’re old, and the overwhelming odds are that you’ll spend the evening at a similarly old friend’s home with fellow exhausted parents, desperately fighting to stay awake so you can feel if only for a fleeting moment as though your entire life were not the property of your job and/or kids.

And if I couldn’t love Waitrose more, they were selling Jell-o shots for New Year’s.


OH and how about the Redskins?! Since the Jets are the embarrassment of the League right now (but read Bryan’s blog anyway), I think it’s fine for us to dig into the roots on my side of the family for once and Hail Victory. Both my brothers will be traversing the country this coming weekend for the playoff game, and Jonah and Simon will be wearing burgundy and gold.

I also wanted to thank so many of you for helping make my dad’s book so highly ranked in several Amazon best-seller categories. I was blown away by how many friends of ours contacted us to let us know they had bought copies – sometimes multiple – to gift to someone for Christmas or Hanukkah. It means a great deal to my father, who is passionate about history and writing. And it means a great deal to me to know you would support my family that way.

It’s going to be a good 2013, right? A time of renewal and hope and courage and I am sure the US Congress won’t do anything to depress us. That would never happen. Plus, Baby Kimye is coming. And Royal Baby. And I am getting a new niece or nephew!!! That’s the most important one: the baby coming straight out of Seattle and into my heart. Yeah, 2013.


Filed under beautiful joy too, celebrities, culture i guess, family, fiscal responsibility, holidays, london, photos, politics...sike!, royals, sports, tv, weather

run up to crimbo

I am one of those people who orders holiday cards at the last minute. Sometimes they still turn out okay. This year: not so much. But that’s not my point. My point is that I waited so long to order them this year, they physically arrived at my doorstep this past Saturday. Less than 24 hours after unimaginable, inconceivable brutality was being reported out of Newtown, Connecticut and an entire nation – and great swaths of the world (certainly it was the biggest news here) – felt a sharp, searing stabbing directly into our individual and collective hearts. And so, between long bouts of crying, I stared at my pile of stupid ugly un-creative rushed holiday cards. How could I write pithy one-liners in them? How could I mail a bit of cheer out to my loved ones? How could I engage in such a mundane annual ritual, one which is at least 33% an exercise in polite reciprocity? I was very close to dumping them in the recycling. Then, two things happened. First, Bryan looked up from the sofa and said: “You better f*cking believe you are sending out those cards.” Not because he loves YOU or wants to send YOU cheer, but because he will be DAMNED if we are going to WASTE one pence on that order.

And second, because it occurred to me it matters. And it’s good. And a lot of us really need things that matter and are good. For a lot of us, Things Mattering and there being Things That Are Good are the only reason we don’t just drown in a sea of preemptive hopelessness.

This, from the NY Times, spoke to me:

It was not simply a question of rescheduling a ritual, a party or a gathering; these celebrations, from all the faiths and from none, push back against the dominance of the long winter night. No one is more essential to them than humans between, say, ages 5 and 9, who are balanced between the world of reason and the world of magic.

In two sentences, it kind of tied up nicely a variety of things I have been heavily contemplating this year. So I’m going to keep Jewing up Christmas (as P says) and I’m going to keep having my mind blown at how beautiful it is to have a taste of these holidays through a preschooler’s eyes. And I am going to keep blogging about it. So, what we’ve been up to lately:

Emma is a milliner on the side and we went to see (and buy!) her hats at the West Hampstead Christmas Market. Yay Emma!


the Halls had an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party which only those two could pull off: an entire restaurant closed just for the guests and a sit-down dinner, a storytelling game where every person had to tell the next part of a spontaneous Christmas tale woven out of copious amounts of champagne and wine, and a 40-person singalong of carols


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I can report the best Hanukkah presents I gave Bryan were a DVD of a crackling fire, and tattoo sleeves. The best one I received was a $3 donation made on my behalf to Wikipedia. Finally! The meanest thing I did was I wrapped up as gifts random things I needed to get Simon anyway. Travel sickness wristbands, a new toothbrush, etc.

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Jonah was in his first-ever “pageant”-like school holiday show. I was not prepared. That happens a lot I think with a first child. Bryan and I walked into the nursery school and there was a sea of parents – cameras at the ready – and eighteen little kids dressed in all-white and wearing halos. We both lost it. (And god bless this country with not even a hint of self-consciousness or societal pressure to be PC and inclusive. Christmas is BIG in England. So you better just go along with it. Every single British person who knows me and knows I am Jewish, has wished me a Merry Christmas. So have the shopkeepers. If you want to buy wrapping paper with dreidels on it, you can just go ahead and punch yourself in the face and then head straight to Heathrow for a flight over national borders, because no one is going to sell you any.) But back to my story. We both lost it and I had only 15 discrete and separate moments of euphoria watching my first baby in his little show. He welcomed all the mummies and daddies from the stage, and then later we saw him dressed in a robe as Joseph, while a 3 year-old dressed as Mary was cradling The Baby Jesus. Jonah has been telling me a lot lately about The Baby Jesus. You know what? The head teachers at the school are Muslim, and damn if they didn’t whip those little kids into shape to PROPERLY DEMONSTRATE THE BIRTH OF THE BABY JESUS. Because, as I mentioned, this is England. Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Rastafarian, Trustafarian… you will celebrate Christmas and you will like it. I know I do. Also, I got picked TWICE for the raffle! The other parents were giving me the evil eye. As though I would rig anything where the prize was an M&S Christmas Pudding (aka fruit cake). Ga-ross.

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Bryan’s office had its really cute annual Children’s Christmas Lunch (CHRISTMAS). Jonah was the first London office kid and now there are five, with three more on the way. The kids loved running around.

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the day before, Bryan was being filmed for a short being created for the company. Such a diva


our fifth London Santacon!

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we took the kids with friends to see Santa at the Zoo. I thought it was weird that this year he didn’t ask Jonah what he wanted. Weak, Santa. Weak as sh*t.


and then we celebrated Isaac’s birthday a little early. His mom had him deliberately on Christmas Eve to try to deflect some of the attention away from The Baby Jesus. That might fly in Chicago, but this is England. As if!

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Whoa- that was a long post. It’s pretty evident season 2 of Homeland is over, eh. Also, did you know in the UK they don’t say “season” for tv, but “series”? Series 2 was great. Now I just have to bide my time until I can spend Christmas day watching the 2-hour Downton Abbey special. Suckas!


Filed under beautiful joy too, culture clash, food, friends, holidays, horror, london, mommyblogging, photos, tv

the past week or so in overshare

Two weekends ago, on the third attempt, we finally successfully visited the Cutty Sark (yep, I italicised). Our first foray to Greenwich was awesome, even if the ship was still being repaired from a devastating fire. The second time with friends, we had terrible time management and no one was into anything. This time was perfect because we had seen everything else around and so could just take the kids on the ship. I always assumed it was from some naval battle. That’s how good I am at history. I assume things. In fact, the Cutty Sark is a famous merchant ship. The last surviving tea clipper, to be exact. It tells a story of a different time and the way goods were traded by sail from Asia- first around the horn of Africa, and then through the Suez Canal beginning in 1869 which meant the demise of sailing ships for trade since only the steam ships could manage a passage without the help of trade winds. I just dropped some knowledge on you, and it was fascinating. Also, Bryan and I have always had a weird obsession with scurvy. And so you can imagine how excited I got when I saw the replica canister of lime juice.


Then this past weekend, I can report that we saw Killing Them Softly (I italicised again. Boom.) at the cinema (I’m so pretentious) and not one, not two, but three couples walked out in the middle of the film. I cannot remember the last time I saw that happen. People didn’t even leave Anaconda when I was watching it in 1997 at AMC Courthouse. It doesn’t make sense.

We also did the pedalo boats at Regent’s Park. I always want to do them and Bryan never wants to and then like once every five years I win. I won!

We had Family Fun Evening with the Trainballs and the kids were all well-behaved and Jonah didn’t even mind not having Elmo pajamas from Primark. Did Primark make it to America yet? Get thee there.

Bryan, a true fan, bought tickets to see Radiohead both nights they were in London this week. We went Monday with friends and it was an amazing show in many respects, but there was not even close to enough old material for me. I get stressed out when musicians just play new stuff. I was so distracted that I was checking Twitter to see if anyone else felt the same, and that’s when I discovered Aaron Paul aka Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad was at the show. Inexplicably, with Pierce Brosnan in tow. Jesse Effing Pinkman. Be still my heart. And so what do you know- when Bryan went back Tuesday night with different friends but not me, Radiohead played lots of their classics and the boys ran into AARON PAUL AKA JESSE PINKMAN. Apparently David shook his hand or patted him on the back or something. But first he yelled “Breaking Bad!”

 +  +  = 



Filed under celebrities, friends, london, music - HA!, photos, scurvy, sports, tv

london olympics 2012: days 7-10 … some other stuff

Our friends Nikki and Scott were in London and we were super happy to spend some time with them on Saturday. Nikki and I met as passionate feminist law students and we’ve channeled those idealistic and intellectual pursuits now seven years on: me as a stay-at-home gossip magazine reader and Nikki by working on human rights campaigns in her spare time outside of her white shoe law job. Both of us still have obscene loans though so I am thinking I am blazing the better path.

Not planned.

Nikki is a former Olympian (as a swimmer for Canada in Barcelona and Atlanta) and has a special passion for ending various forms of inequity in the Olympic Games. Just last week she was interviewed by CNN International in London on gender inequity in the 2012 Olympic Games and I am so proud of her I could burst. Watch her awesome self here.

courtesy of Scott

courtesy of Scott

In equally important news for the future reputation of the Olympic Games, my dad sent me this awesome article showcasing this new craze of women athletes getting flag manicures.

Here are two really important things that have nothing to do with the Olympics but deserve mention on one of the most popular blogs on the internet with the IP address from my laptop:

First, our friend Bridget (Bryan’s long-time friend from LI) has written a book:

By the time I post this, she is already world-famous and totally doing the publicity circuit. She might forget who we are, except she may or may not have used our names in her book!! No, for real. I’m just saying you should run out, or press a bunch of buttons, and buy it. They may even be filming the movie right now- I have no idea.

The second and last important thing to mention is that someone cut a hole in the scaffolding tarp outside our window. Vandalism on a construction site is serious business and as my retinas adjust to the first view of unfiltered natural light in seventeen years, I am going to ponder the gravity of the situation.

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Filed under flat, friends, london, olympics 2012, politics...sike!, tv

so far not homeless

It’s only been a week and a half, but in that time we managed to receive an eviction notice (I am sure it has a nicer name), looked at new flats, negotiated a flat, let prospective buyers into our current flat and contemplated how to sell our 10-month old furniture on the UK equivalent of craigslist – gumtree. Nothing says tangible talent like making used Ikea furniture seem like a true find. We’ll throw in a free Allen key!

It all happened so fast, we only had a little time to be super angry. Which is good because I don’t have a lot of extra time these days. Which is especially confounding since I resigned from my job. Which which which. I am now a totally busy Lady Who Lunches. At home. By myself. Shazam.

Is thing on?

So if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you’re thinking: why would a wealthy foreigner sell his property investment when it currently looks like this from outside and in?


Cause he can. BOOM.

In case you have some cash to burn, here she is in all her glory: Check out all our personal belongings!

At this point it feels like ages ago, but let’s mock the week, shall we?

Elise Testone got kicked off American Idol. I know at least one of you voted each week for her. So one person, thank you for the support. We all know Elise will be famous anyway and to her credit, she stayed longer than the inscrutable tween vote should have allowed.

Also, am I officially the last person on earth to discuss that soft porn book that so many women are buying? I haven’t caved yet. I just don’t know if the Kindle is Kinky enough to handle it.

Every time I catch a glimpse of the “American” aisle at the Selfridges food hall, I get nervous that people think these are the main foods that my people miss. When obviously the real answer is Teddy Grahams.

Bryan is such a white person, he insists on going to the farmer’s market under any condition. Have I mentioned how much he loves the farmer’s market before? It’s bizarre. He comes home every Sunday with basically a year’s worth of kale. And refrigerators in central London are roughly the size of a car’s glove compartment. So basically mine is just a kale receptacle now. And Bryan rarely cooks. So it’s implied I will use all the kale. And so of course even though it’s currently the wettest April on record “since records began” (I didn’t even make that phrase up), we had to go to the Farmer’s Market on Sunday. And Bryan asked me three times if we needed kale. Need? That’s not the verb I would choose to describe my feelings towards kale.

I loved recently A.A. Gill’s NYT article for London-bound tourists: My London, and Welcome to It.

…If New York is a wise guy, Paris a coquette, Rome a gigolo and Berlin a wicked uncle, then London is an old lady who mutters and has the second sight. She is slightly deaf, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

With more guilt, I realize that London may be a great metropolis, but it’s not very nice to people. We’re not friendly. Not that we’re rude, like the Parisians with their theatrical and frankly risible haughtiness; nor do we have New Yorkers’ shouty impatience. Londoners are just permanently petulant, irritated. I think we wake up taking offense. All those English teacup manners, the exaggerated please and thank yous, are really the muzzle we put on our short tempers. There are, for instance, a dozen inflections of the word sorry. Only one of them means “I’m sorry.”

It’s a love letter if I have ever read one.

Speaking of London, Marissa is sort of new here. I met her through this blog because on the eve of moving here with her husband from New Jersey, she “reached out” (I just made a British person throw up) because she knew how well we would get along. We emailed back and forth a number of times before finally having lunch. Then dinner. Then lunch again. Marissa has a blog and I really (sun heart) her way with words, her ability to make me laugh, her skills with the phone camera and re-living my London beginnings through her. She will say everything is wonderful and she loves it here. And she would be telling the truth. But I know from 2008 that there are hard moments too. And so to Marissa I want to say: It Gets Better. (Like the slogan for those beautiful video testimonials made for gay people but without the deeply moving and critical human rights issue part)

The other night I went to my law firm’s annual “Summer” Party. It’s not summer and it wasn’t warm and I have resigned but I went anyway. And it was great. The theme was Highland Fling which meant everything was Scottish in some form or another. I was in a room with maybe a thousand people and I was one of maybe 5 Americans (less?) and there was haggis on my plate. And then I left at midnight by myself and took in the illuminated view right across and down the Thames from Old Billingsgate: the Shard, Tower Bridge, OXO Tower… And then I walked all the way to Chancery Lane, down the inevitable many side streets, before I could find a cab. And it struck me – in that way that things strike you as really profound and important when you’re drunk and walking in heels like you’re some kind of badass rather than a sloppy ageing Gen Xer – I sometimes know my way around this town. And I love this town.

But I also love America. And so isn’t the USA lucky that My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding just debuted there on TLC! If you are not watching it, you are just hurting yourself.


Filed under a bunch of boring stuff, food, london, tv, weather

i can’t see out the windows anyway

We’re on our 97th consecutive week of crap weather. The word “spring” is being bandied about but everyone has their winter coats on and their umbrellas up. It’s entirely possible that there are finite weather combinations that can be happening in the world at any one time and the U.S. East Coast stole all the good weather from the UK. Forever. Yep, that’s my prediction. We’re just in a long march to next winter.

Do I sound negative? It might just be the monster toddler who swapped bodies with mine about a week ago. I am pretty sure he will be here at least another year. And the little one is crawling now. That’s never great, is it? I mean, we pretend it is with clapping and encouragements. But it just means the modem keeps getting pulled down and he ignores the toys to play Russian roulette with the doorjamb.

Usually under these circumstances, I would write about one of my Favourite Things. But I can’t think of any this second. So I am going to revisit and reminisce the last week of my life.

The good juju starts with last Wednesday. It was the day before my birthday. Since I ditched my kids on my actual birthday, I took them to the zoo the day before.

And then on the walk home through the park, the most outrageous thing happened. They both fell asleep. And the sky was blue. And it was warm. And so I sat down on a bench with my pig-in-shit expression and just shook my head slowly from side to side. It felt a little like winning the lottery for about 20 minutes. Happy birthday!

The day I actually turned 36 I went to the mall by myself. It’s been a sometime dream of mine to look for clothes without the company of a small human with an attention span akin to a fruit fly. It turns out, I have the attention span of a fruit fly too. But I did get some aqua-colored jeans. YAY FAD. Then at night Bryan surprised me with dinner and second-row seats to the Zach Braff play in the West End, All New People. I thought the show was really, really good. Thoroughly entertaining. And I was mere feet from my longtime-Scrubs crush. We realized that every play we have seen in the past ten years has starred someone from Hollywood. I should be embarrassed about that, prolly. But, I’m not.

I felt the love in the way it comes: cards, phone, Skype, text, emails, e-cards, that wily devil of Facebook. Our families were so generous and then look what Faye & Trish got me a subscription to!:

It’s a gift they will benefit from also, just like the German chocolate cake Faye baked me, AGAIN! It’s the most delicious cake I have ever tasted in my life. She could quit her job and just sell them. IJS.

The Trumbells hosted their annual Passover Seder. And we had our annual good times. Jonah got to again demonstrate the 10 Plagues. This time Lice was a personal favorite.


On Sunday Sarah had scored the impossible reservation and organized a group brunch at a newish joint in Fulham, Harwood Arms, that specializes in using only UK-sourced (and therefore, in-season ingredients). Which is why this exchange between me and a slightly impatient server lady took place for real:

Me: Hmm, I don’t see any- um, I want like a Bellini.

Exasperated Server Lady: We don’t have that.

Oh, well… um, let me just scroll though… uh, do you have like, I don’t know a mimosa or something?

We use seasonal ingredients so we don’t do fruit purees.

Oh, so can I have just some kind of Prosecco drink with a fruit juice?

No, that’s what I was saying.

Can I get it with pomegranate juice or something?

We don’t have that.

I just want- ugh. Well how about you put a few strawberries at the bottom of my Prosecco? That should be fine.

We don’t have strawberries. That’s what I am saying about local and in-season.

Oh, right. Yeah… sorry. Okay, how about just bring a Prosecco with some asparagus!

(Death stare.)

Just Prosecco will be fine, thanks.

Note: Prosecco is from OUTSIDE THE UK. But I forgive. Look at this double Sunday roast!

Also, lots of other exciting things happened over the few days. Matt & Trish asked Jonah to be their ring bearer when they get married in August in California! (Just ignore my bad photoshopping.)

On Sunday, Girls debuted on HBO. The advance hype and post-airing dissection have been pretty intense. Before it even aired I knew I was going to be a fan. Then I saw it and I am a super fan. At 36 I guess I am a Millennial-wannabe. Don’t care.

Today marks 100 days until the Olympics. Look at those silly Foot Guards.


Filed under celebrities, flat, food, friends, london, photos, product placement, tv, weather