Saturday, 31 December 2011

A Tiny Little Thank You

Just a little post to say thank you to everyone who's read my blog these past five months! It's been so fun and rewarding sharing my thoughts with all who will read them. 2011 has been such a momentous year for me from engagement to marriage to moving to London - it's been incredible and inspiring. Thank you to those who have encouraged me from the start...looking forward to blogging in 2012 and beyond!

[Image via Pinterest]

Friday, 30 December 2011

Ringing in the New Year!

There's always a sense of anticipation and excitement leading up to New Year's Eve and this year is no different. Although it might be a little more low key over here in London this year without one of the fabulous San Francisco soirees to attend and without all of our dearest friends around us, we will definitely still make it a fun affair. Here are a few images I stumbled across while Pinteresting that got me excited for the big day!

Sequined frocks definitely say New Year!
Obviously champagne is a must...served on a platter, even better!
Hoping the fog will roll away so we can see these London fireworks from the Thames!

Hope you're all looking forward to celebrating in style this New Years...cheers! x

[Images from top to bottom via and Pinterest]

Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas Morning Sticky Buns

A few lazy Sundays ago, I was catching up on Ina Garten and saw her Barefoot in London special where she went around London tasting local food from the best, most authentic restaurants and bakeries in town. Everything from a Ploughman's Lunch to Bangers and Mash. My favourite recipe that she ended up making back home was these easy but decadent Holiday Sticky Buns, which were inspired by the Chelsea Buns they make here in England. I can't wait to make these on Christmas morning, along with coffee, a frittata and mimosas!

- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
- 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted

For the filling
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup cranberries
- 1/2 cup white raisins

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 12 tablespoons of butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, 1/4 cup of the cranberries and 1/4 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam-side down. Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2 inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, about 1 1/2 inches each. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon) and cool completely. Enjoy!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Weekend Getaway to Bath and Stonehenge

We spent last Saturday touring Bath and Stonehenge amidst a crisp winter day. I'd gotten a half-off Living Social package for a day long trip - love a good deal! It was so nice to get out of the city for a day and explore the English countryside.

Our first stop was Stonehenge, where we walked around the World Heritage Site and snapped photos, all while shivering in the brisk wind! Next, we spent the afternoon in the picturesque city of Bath, where we walked through the Roman Baths which are absolutely fascinating, peeked in the beautiful Bath Abbey as service was starting, walked around the Christmas market stalls and shopped around town. It was incredibly busy, as are all touristy destinations this time of year, but still lovely.

Definitely recommend visiting Bath if you have more than a few days in London and want to take a day trip to the countryside. It's well worth it for the shopping, incredible architecture, and the nearby spas where you can go for a day of pampering!

Such a gorgeous day to visit Stonehenge
Incredibly picturesque
Sheep grazing in the fields
A surprisingly sunny winter day
The Roman Baths in Bath
Bath Abbey
City view strolling through the streets
Gorgeous buildings built with local Bath stone
Enjoying the last rays of the day
The view from Bath Circus townhouses

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Holiday Shopping on the High Street

Shopping on the "High Street" (the English word for the main street in a town or city) is quite amazing here in London. There are loads of fabulous boutiques along with all the top chain stores dotted around several main shopping areas in town...

Here are my favourite shopping areas (so far):

- Oxford St. and Regent St. (quite famous, and beautifully decorated with Christmas lights this time of year)
- King's Road in Chelsea (boutiques and lots of great home stores)
- South Kensington to Knightsbridge (all the main chain stores plus hip boutiques)
- Portobello Road in Notting Hill (eccentric little shops with knick knacks and a few nice boutiques)
- Westfield Mall in Shepard's Bush (huge shopping centre with literally every store you could heaven!)

And a few of my favourite shops:

- Zara (always in-style, and somehow the European stores seem to be better stocked than in the States)
- Liberty (fabulous department store off of Oxford St. filled with high-end products)
- Massimo Dutti (beautiful, one of a kind clothing and shoes)
- H&M (the standard for less expensive, trendy pieces)
- Oliver Bonas (amazing home decor)
- Harvey Nichols (very posh department store, mainly for window shopping)
- Reiss (lovely luxury clothing store)

I've been doing a bit of holiday shopping over the past couple of weeks but still have a few things to tick off my list. Hope you're all having a lovely time gathering special treats for your loved ones!

Happy Holidays!

[Photo by Glitter Guide]

Sunday, 4 December 2011

English Thanksgiving Feast

This year's Thanksgiving was a wonderful, relaxed celebration at our flat in London. We have so much to be thankful for, including our family, friends and this wonderful experience.

I'm very proud to say that we made just about every recipe that I included in the previous post, and they turned out fabulously! First, my friend Erica and I made a pumpkin pie the night before to take away time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day, which was such a smart idea that allowed for a little extra socializing. I'd never made one before but it was so easy! I was a little scared of being in charge of the turkey for the first "real" time, but it turned out so well (probably because of all that butter I basted it with)! The side dishes were simple to put together and we ended up improvising a bit with the stuffing, adding sausage, apple and challah to a simple cornbread, sage and onion stuffing. And we threw together a quick cheese plate with some English cheddar, French brie, a rustic baguette and some red grapes - all complemented by a selection of red and white wines from all around the world. To top it off, we got to test out the beautiful serving sets and we received at our wedding, so it made everything look that much better. :)

Here are a few photos from the festive affair...enjoy!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

San Francisco Meets London

This past week we had our first visitors, Erica and Michael, in town from San Francisco and it was so fun touring the city with them. We saw the sights, tasted traditional British food, drank beers and ciders and had a lot of laughs. We also got a chance to see our friend Henry, who's originally from England and now lives in San a local, he definitely showed us a good time!

Luckily Michael and Erica were here through Thanksgiving to celebrate with us. Our meal was a group effort and it turned out fabulously...I'll share photos of the feast soon! Until then, here are some photos from the past week's adventures...

Strolling through St. James Park after seeing Buckingham Palace
A view of St. James Park
Delicious fish & chips at Bumpkin in Notting Hill on our first night!
A view of Westminster Abbey
Tasting delicious cookies, olive oil and sandwiches at Borough Market
Enjoying some mulled wine, our new favourite afternoon beverage
St. Paul's Cathedral at dusk
An amazing night out at Public in Chelsea!
Sunday walk through Notting Hill and a stop in Portobello Market
So happy to have met up with our good friend, Henry!
Martinis at the Mint Leaf on their last night!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Thanksgiving Abroad

This year we're spending Thanksgiving on our own in London, but luckily we have a few of our best friends and family here to celebrate with us, so it feels a bit like home! I also have a couple days off so I can spend more time nesting and cooking and Skyping. Now normally they don't carry turkeys regularly here until Christmas, but I was able to order one through Whole Foods which was very exciting. And after one big shopping trip at Waitrose (kind of like Safeway) this Wednesday, we should have everything we need to prepare a proper Thanksgiving, including canned pumpkin from my friend Erica!

Over the past week, I've been scouring food websites for Thanksgiving inspiration and have come across some delicious recipes and fabulous table settings that I wanted to share. Hope you're all having fun preparing for your feast!

Pumpkin Table Setting
Casual Autumn Table
Assorted Cheese, Baguette and Grapes
William Sonoma's Rolled Stuffed Turkey Breast
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Sage and Onion Stuffing
Roasted Garlic Green Beans
Classic Pumpkin Pie
Jamie Oliver's Mulled Wine

Will update on how our meal turns out's hoping for a perfect turkey! But if all else fails, we can always fall back on the side dishes and lots of wine (and mulled wine, a new favourite of mine). 

Happy eating!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Today's Motto

This saying is plastered all around London, but I still love it and find it to be very true. When life gets a little busy, you just have to take a moment to keep calm and carry on!

[Photo by Liz on Luxe]

Monday, 7 November 2011

Scenes from Amsterdam

Last weekend’s holiday in Amsterdam was our first European adventure since we’ve been living in England and it was absolutely incredible. One of the best things about living here is how convenient it is to visit other countries. I'm very pleased to say that we saw everything we set out to do (see below post)!

Holiday highlights include: drinking Heinekens with new friends on Friday night when we arrive, the surprisingly warm weather for late November, visiting the emotionally powerful Anne Frank house, eating Dutch apple pancakes at Pancakes!, enjoying amazing art at the Van Gogh museum, noshing on baguettes on the gorgeous, peaceful surroundings of Vondelpark, strolling through the Red Light District (never a dull moment there!), and admiring the tulips at Bloemmarkt (the famous flower market).

Can’t wait til our next European holiday!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Jetsetting: Amsterdam

We're off to Amsterdam for the weekend and I can't wait to explore the beautiful canals, take in the architecture and eat loads of pancakes! I've been once before several years ago but am so looking forward to going back.

Here's our list of "must-sees":
- Breakfast at Pancakes!
- Van Gogh Museum
- Vondelpark picnic lunch
- Bloemenmarkt
- Red Light District
- Anne Frank House

If you have any other amazing recommendations, please send them my way!

[Photo by All Things Europe]

Sunday, 30 October 2011

London Professionals

It's back to the daily grind for us here in London! Jim and I have both started work here in England and are now fully in the swing of normal life! Jim's already a month in, and I just finished my second week. My office is in Notting Hill...a very easy commute from our flat in Fulham, and Jim is all about town (and the country) travelling to clients near and far. The tube system is working out quite well (despite on the weekends when there are always planned closures!).

There really aren't too many differences between the London office and Voce back in San Francisco...the people are so friendly, also pretty funny and very welcoming. Here are a few facts to note about my work life so far: If you get up to get a coffee or tea, it is mandatory to ask everyone around you if they'd like one as well. And you get coffee or tea several times a day. You get in around 9:30 and it's totally fine to leave at 5:30. Fortnightly means every other week....this was definitely not in my vocabulary pre-move. Also, everything sounds a bit more proper and I now use the word, "quite" quite a lot.

The most enjoyable treat at my job so far is that when it's someone's "leaving due" or last day, or their birthday, there's a "drinks trolley." At first, I thought this meant a San Francisco-type trolley that would take you around to pubs, but no, I was mistaken. It's a small little cart that someone in the office will push around, offering wine, beer and canap├ęs and treats to everyone. It's a really cute tradition that signals the beginning of the weekend.

Here are a few photos!
Ernst & Young London office where Jim works sometimes.
Ernst & Young Reading office near the train station.
This was taken in Reading on Jim's first day!
Porter Novelli London office...feels like home!
Here's the street I work on.
Me awkwardly taking a photo on my first day since Jim had already left!
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