Wednesday, 19 December 2012

I'll Be Home For Christmas

And I'm off! Heading home to San Francisco tomorrow for a whole two weeks and I could not be happier! I'm so looking forward to seeing families, seeing friends and celebrating my favourite holiday with loved ones. 

I just wish I was heading home via this red Fiat instead of a plane...

[Image via Pinterest]

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Christmas Pinspiration

I found these festive creations on Pinterest and just felt compelled to share them. I love the vibrant colours and the white / green decor with the pine cones ..looks like something I could (maybe) whip up with a little free time but alas, I'll be packing and beautifying tomorrow so won't be able to this year. The white wreath looks so plush and fancy with the red ribbon...although we don't have a wooden door to hang a wreath, this (or something similar) could definitely go above a door for little festive decor. And finally the cake...I love those cranberries dotted along the edge that add a fresh burst of colour. I could definitely add cranberries on top of Giada's lemon ricotta cookies that I'm making next weekend for our annual family Christmas party. So many ideas, so little time. Happy Christmas!

[Images via Etsy, Dust Jacket, StyleMePretty]

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Winter Weekend

Gail's Bakery has opened a new location on King's! I know where I'll be for weekend brunch now on...
An impressive selection cowboy boots on the King's Road. A pair of these would be ideal for our Tim McGraw concert next spring!
Handmade fruit wreaths for sale in Chelsea...a bit pricey but worth it for the amazing fresh winter scent.
Mulled wine and shopping with my brother-in-law and husband at the South Bank Christmas markets. 
Anderson Valley Boont Ale at Borough Market's beer shop (an ongoing Anderson family tradition).
Pints and half-pints at The Anchor on the Thames...the perfect way to get off our feet after braving the crowds at the Christmas markets.
Quick stop at Monmouth Coffee Company to top off an amazing pumpkin tortellini lunch on-the-go at Borough Market. Their flat whites literally taste like coffee ice cream.
An adorable biscuit (cookie) icing store in Notting Hill...everything looked delicious and precious.
Christmas trees on Portobello Road. A little sad we don't have one up this year but can't wait to see our families' trees this week!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Ice Skating + Valentino

I've been loving the holiday season in London this year and have been trying to partake in all the festivities. It makes you appreciate living in a city with 'real' season where you can feel the coldness of winter and all of the traditions that go along with it. Ice skating at Somerset House topped my to-do list so I made sure to book far in advance to make sure we could get in (they sell out quickly!). The rink is in the courtyard at Somerset House (also where London Fashion Week takes places) and it provides such a majestic setting. All of the buildings surrounding the courtyard are illuminated by colourful lights and the big, beautifully decorated tree in the middle provides the perfect festive touch. Loved it!

Lucky for us there was also a Valentino exhibition on at the Somerset House so we stopped in to browse the designer's amazing masterpieces before our ice skating date. I'd read about it in the fashion magazines so was really looking forward to perusing and the exhibit didn't disappoint. The pieces were laid out on a runway with cream and beige chairs that displayed names of famous models, socialites royals. These were mixed between the designs which documented designs through the decades , ranging from frocks in the 60's to Julia Robert's Oscars dress. Unfortunately I couldn't take photos inside the exhibition but there's a cool video you can view which takes you inside the exhibition. It's on through March so definitely worth a visit if you're in town. 

Christmas is so close now and I am just counting down the days until we head back. This week it's all about last minute shopping, Christmas drinks at work and planning Christmas menus!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Christmas In Covent Garden

The big Christmas tree in the centre of Covent Garden...a friend said it's actually several trees spliced into one. At least it looks amazing!
Everything is massively decked out for Christmas...they really know how to do the holidays in London!
The fabulous Covent Garden market entrance, which is made up of several halls of stalls ranging from arts and crafts to restaurants to designer boutiques.
Here's the Apple Market, where we browsed the arts and crafts before ducking into to grab a bite to eat.
Love this Rudolph recreation made of greenery, isn't it beautiful? The lights behind it are gorgeous too, especially at night when they're twinkling.
This is a tree entirely made of Jack Daniels, a guy's dream Christmas right?
I absolutely adored this shop design. It looks like a gorgeous home but it's actually in a really crowded area of Covent Garden.
Here are the lights in Seven Dials, a cute little intersection of streets in Covent Garden.
And finally, the Chanel pop-up store featuring loads of nice perfumes and make-up.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I just love this time of year, especially in London where everything seems to be red, green and sparkling (although freezing!) Only thing that's missing is family...which I'll get to see in just three weeks. Counting down the days until I'm enjoying our Christmas tree by the beautiful California coast!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Scenes from Madrid!

Last weekend's trip to Madrid feels like forever ago...this week's just been so busy. Even so, I wanted to make sure I captured all of the memories since it was such a fun trip. It was literally college all over again...the three roommates back together. We got in on Friday and walked around Plaza del Sol which was close to our hotel. We grabbed some tapas at a casual little bar which consisted of five tostas (basically toasted bread with meats and cheeses on it). As with most parts of Spain, Madrid seems to have very meat-heavy cuisine which isn't the best for my taste buds, but I made it work with the help of a little sangria. I loved this the Mercado de San Miguel where we went for a quick glass of wine...along with wine and beer bars it has fresh fish, sweets, olives, cheeses and more....would probably be a great place to stop by during the day. After that we popped into a few bars for some cocktails and Spanish music and then called it a night...traveling even for a weekend trip can feel so draining!

On Saturday we started with cafe con leches and chocolate croissants right off of Gran Via and then headed straight to the Prado museum. We checked out some really intriguing exhibits from Goya, Rembrandt and Van Dyck. It's a large museum so you have to pick and choose your favourites or else you could spend hours on end there! Just after midday we'd worked up an appetite so walked towards Retiro park which is an expansive beautiful open space. I love how you can pop into any cafe, no matter how fancy or shabby, and get a great lunch at pretty reasonable prices. We completely stuffed ourselves with paella, calamari, fried fish and white was fabulous and filling. And it was the perfect reason to spend an hour strolling through the park taking photos and people watching. 

Later on that evening after a little siesta, we walked to the palace which is absolutely beautiful at night lit up. Right next door is the main and state working very closely together! We then wondered over to La Latina which is a well-known area for great tapas and wine bars...ideal for what we coined a 'tapa-hop' or the Spanish version of a pub crawl. I especially loved this one wine bar (but I can't remember the name!) since they had a great selection of wine with free delicious snacks (fresh chorizo bites and Spanish olives). Highly recommend popping over to this area if you're in the mood for a casual night out. A definite highlight was ending the night at Chocolateria San Gines, where they serve Spanish churros with thick, so good. That's about it for stories as Sunday was just a quick lunch and off to the airport. Overall a great trip with loads of laughs and good times!

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