Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Eating Denver

As you know from past posts during work trips, the bustle of the day leaves only food to share, unless you really want to know about standards in technology education (which I know some of you actually might, so check out ISTE). On Sunday night my Airbnb host suggested Steuben's for an amazing veggie cheeseburger and fries. He also suggested their coconut cake but I was way too stuffed to take part.
My co-worker and I walked by Denver's Union Station on our way to dinner on Monday night and hit up the Wynkoop Brewery for some Saison de Seigle (rye saison) and yummy salads (mine was an Asian Cobb, so good). 
After Day 1 of the conference's lunch experience included a scrounged granola bar from a random stranger, I made a point to make it to an actual lunch on Day 2. I went early and got an inside/outside table (my fav -- with optimal people viewing and a/c with a natural breeze) at Uncle Joe's Hong Kong Bistro. I ordered the five spiced crispy tofu and the Sichuan edamame, which were both pretty incredible, although the Sichuan snuck up on me eventually -- face on fire!
My Airbnb host also suggested Root Down for dinner, so we hit that up on night three. We each started with a Coconut Ginger Fizz and a mushroom consommé and shared the roasted baby beet salad and the spinach gnocchi. Rounding out the meal with a passion fruit caramel and a dark chocolate and smoked sea salt truffle, we left stuffed but happy.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Lovely London Landmarks

On Thursday evening we went on quite the walkabout (and got in too late to post this earlier). One of my teammates planned an amazing walk around the city complete with all the iconic sites I hadn't yet seen. We walked by Buckingham Palace (seen in the upper right corner of the bottom left photo) and gardens and the Horse Guards building, built in 1753.
Westminster Abbey
Big Ben, the London Eye and the River Thames
We stopped at The Silver Cross, my first English pub of the trip, and I had fish and chips and a shandy, yum!
St. Paul's Cathedral
The next day was our last at All Hands. After going through a billion post-it notes, we toasted each other with champagne and headed to the steampunk closing party at a converted brewery. I got to dance the night away with some new friends and it was a blast. Thanks for following along!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lovely London - A Spot of Tea

With 80% of my day spent in meetings, I bring you my evening adventures in tea. I chose the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason from a lovely top ten list from The Telegraph, partially for the name but mostly for its casual dress code and tea selection. Located on the top floor of its beautiful retail space, the tea room was very fancy (complete with a grand piano).
The color scheme was so classic and pretty with beautiful china and silver accents.
The waiter suggested the Countess Grey Tea and I later chose the Moroccan Mint. Both were delicious, the first slightly orange-flavored and the second, a green tea, refreshing. Note, two pots by yourself is a lot of tea (especially after 7pm; I was up until after 2am, wide awake).
The towers of food were limitless, although one pass through was enough for me. The finger sandwiches were the best: 
Cucumber with Mint & Cream Cheese 
Carrot Hummus, Golden Raisins & Watercress 
Rare Breed Hen’s Egg Mayonnaise, English Cress 
Grilled Peppers with Tomato Cream Cheese

I also had scones with clotted cream, blueberry preserves and lemon curd, and a plate of desserts, including an amazing chocolate mousse inside a chocolate shell. They even sent me home with a beautiful box of sponge cake filled with raspberry preserves and mascarpone cheese because I was too stuffed to visit the cake cart. Plus, my blood sugar was already dangerously high at this point, even without any sugar in my tea. In all, it was a wonderful and relaxing experience to have at the end of the day. Hope you find a moment for you today!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Lovely London - Day 3

Blue laser lights, a drum line and a Dr. Who theme (I need to get caught up on this for the references) welcomed our whole group of 1,317 Mozillians into our work part of the week. We then spent the rest of the day in our smaller Foundation team learning about each other's work, talking about our strategic plan and getting to know each other.
After our work sessions were complete for the day, we headed out to group dinners. Half my group walked across the city to our restaurant, Rosa's Thai Cafe. Along the way, we saw a million British flags, pretty sidewalk gardens, statues and a bagpiper.
Dinner was amazing! Pictured here are all the items that came with the vegetarian option (see here if you're interested). We had a group of 11 from across the Foundation and chatted about everything from our childhood fears to our awkward introductions to new people during this trip in London. All in all, a great time. Hope you had a fantastic day too, wherever you might be.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Lovely London - Day 2

After 12 hours of sleep, I was ready to take on my second day in London, which reminds me a lot of New York City, but charmingly British. This morning, I found the quintessential red phone booth on the sidewalk, picked up my badge/t-shirt for my All Hands meeting (the reason I'm here), and blogged over a latte and a pain au chocolat.
Then I hopped on the tube and headed for The British Museum. This amazing, huge museum is free to enter, with a suggested 5£ donation, which makes it very popular and crowded. Sadly, the Japanese print from 1831 I wanted to see, Kanagawa-oki nami-ura, wasn't on display (you can make an appointment on Wednesdays for a private showing). However, thousands of treasures from around the world were available for viewing, including the Rosetta Stone (middle right), the Three Nereids from Xanthos, Greece 390-380 BC (bottom left), and a beautiful Ghanaian tapestry woven out of flattened soda bottle tops.

The only British exhibit I saw was the Waddesdon Bequest (upper left) which was an amazing collection of 300 objects left to the museum in 1898. Quite remarkable (said in a British accent). Finally, even the food court was stylish - the pastry display and my lunch were pretty and I had my first proper bag of crisps.
I always love strolling around drugstores and grocery stores when I am abroad. They usually have great things you can't find anywhere else - like the sunscreen (P20) I found at Boots which isn't approved for the U.S. but provides all-day protection in one application (I need this!). I also checked out Marks and Spencer, part department store part fancy grocery store with a whole aisle devoted to biscuits. I was on the hunt for this picnic basket (get ready to scroll for days but it's so cute!) they just gave out at Her Majesty the Queen's 90th birthday picnic on Sunday. M&S sponsored the lunch, so I thought I'd take a chance.
The day ended with the opening reception for my meeting - London-themed. The food was amazing and the wandering musicians were great. I was able to put lots of faces I've seen via video calls to actual people (heights were varied, unlike on calls). All around awesome way to start our week together and now I must rest up for our first real day tomorrow, night! 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Lovely London - Day 1

Arriving on an overnight flight, I literally had a whole day to explore London. I took the Heathrow Express train to my stop at Paddington Station, dropped my bags at my hotel and headed out for some breakfast (not pictured) and then to Kensington Gardens and Palace. Although it was raining - and will be all week - I had a great walk and saw some beautiful fountains, buildings and plants.
The palace was amazing. They had dashed lines along the walls to take you on four different paths - the King's apartment, the Queen's closet over the years, the life of Queen Victoria and the Queen's quarters. I took a selfie of Queen Victoria and I outside the castle. The dresses and accessories pictured were worn by different queens and princesses. The stairway is the entrance to the King's apartment.
After walking about 10 miles, I was starting to tucker out and had to navigate the tube. I already have public transportation anxiety (I know, it's dumb), and being up for most of 36 hours had me feeling victorious when I actually arrived near Harrods, which included a line switch - woohoo! The photo down the street has Harrods on the right with all of the British flags. Wandering through the iconic store was also like a museum. The store houses all of the items you see in magazines along with the caption, "price available upon request." Every high end designer had it's own little shrine and people were buying like crazy. I just looked.
After checking into my room, and fully unpacking (since I'll be here for six nights), I relaxed for a bit and made a dinner reservation for Satay House, which seemed silly at first but the place was rather small and packed, they turned away two other single diners. A short walk from my hotel, this Malaysian restaurant was a hit for me. The decor was primarily flower impressions in the walls and a bouquet of beautiful flowers next to the kitchen. I had a Sirap Limau (rose syrup and fresh lime juice), the vegetarian satay and the Mee Goreng Sayur. Everything was delicious and I ate until I was stuffed and headed back to the hotel. Time for sleep, thanks for stopping in!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Packing Challenge: Tortuga

Brian is the researcher in our house, thank goodness. Whether the purchase is big (car) or small (air filter for said car), Brian scours the internet for reviews and videos and user guides. If we're in a store, he will ask for advice and opinions from experts and strangers alike. I would rather take my chances with something that has a cool logo or packaging that I like, no matter what it is. Sometimes this ends badly - my car is awful in inclement weather but sometimes I get lucky.

As we have been preparing for our trip to Japan this fall, it occurred to me that copious amounts of train travel might not be ideal for my trusty wheelie bag. (Quick note, if you are in the market for an awesome, lightweight carry-on bag, click the link, it's on sale from $110 down to $34.99!) [Btw, on carry-on versus checked, once you've had your luggage lost, a nail polish explode or waited an hour at a baggage carousel, it's hard to justify ever checking a bag. Unless it's full of wine!] Knowing that Brian might also want a new bag, I conducted research on his behalf so I could get something I liked and that he might also go for. Matching anniversary bags!

I did my version of "lots" of consumer research and picked out the Tortuga Travel Backpack. I liked their blog (complete with this post that includes how many leather-bound copies of War & Peace the bag can hold) and reviews from other travelers. I also liked all the pockets - especially the ones on the waist straps - and the ability to zip the main compartment completely open. Finally, the fact that it's from New Zealand sold me, okay fine, and the cute little turtle logo. I presented my choice to Researcher Brian and, after conducting his own research, he agreed that it was a good pick, I only had to knock out one other alternate selection.
I went through my packing list (I love these pre-printed ones from Knock Knock) and laid out everything I need for my trip to London next week. Luckily, it's super casual so I didn't have to worry about packing suits or heels BUT I'll tell you that not everything in this little photo made the cut.

I scrapped the bathing suit (the hotel doesn't have a pool), two t-shirts (I still have five), a running skirt (I have two other pairs of running shorts), my raincoat (which I will wear), a sweater (also planning to wear), and a pair of socks (to delete another item - victory!). OH, and a tiny hat on a headband didn't fit - don't judge, we're having a steampunk themed dance party and they said there will be prizes!
The 19 lbs of stuff (well, the bag weighs 3.7 of those) includes my toiletries (oops, forgot to squeeze in a brush), two pairs of shoes, four pairs of pants and I still have some room to spare. I am impressed so far and excited to go out for my first road test. Thanks for letting me share my random review with you!