Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Hello Spring... that you?'s definitely still winter here, and I'm a little confused as it's March and sunny skies are nowhere to be seen in London. And on top of that I keep hearing about the amazing weather in California! Living over here had definitely made me appreciate the lovely temperate weather we have on the west coast. Anyone who's lived in a colder climate can attest that everything just seems a bit more difficult when it's snowing or raining incessantly. When it gets below 3 Celsius, morning workouts, drinks on a terrace, walks along the water are all out the window in my book. On the upside, you can have endless weekend lie-ins without feeling guilty, drink loads of hot cocoa with no remorse, watch movies all day, go for long, leisurely meals out and bake for half the day without feeling like you're missed out on anything. That aside, I'm looking forward to a few more pink blooms to pop out in April so we can enjoy the gorgeous outdoors in London before we leave! Here's hoping...

[Image via Pinterest]

Monday, 25 March 2013

Abbey Road Crossing

In an attempt to check a few things off our London 'to do & see' list, Jim and I made the trip to Abbey Road  zebra crossing on Saturday. The weather was dire - freezing snow and rain - but we just pushed right through and made the best of it with coffees in hand. Hard to believe it's nearly April with this kind of weather! Abbey Road is one of those iconic London attractions, but in reality it's a bit underwhelming when you arrive...just a few people trying to cross the street and cars honking because it's a busy road. Nevertheless, I'm glad to say we did it. What came after was definitely more enjoyable: my first trip to Selfridges (the shoe department is incredible!), taco lunch at Chipotle and then a quick tour of the National Portrait Gallery where we saw Kate Middleton's new official portrait. Great weekend to start off the week....happy Monday!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Kew Gardens In Bloom

The other weekend Jim and I ventured west to explore Kew Royal Botanic Gardens with our friends Danielle and Tom. Kew Gardens comprises 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses between Richmond and Kew in southwest London, England.  Although it was absolutely freezing that day, several of the exhibits were inside glasshouses so we were able to warm up while admiring the beautiful blooms. The big draw was the orchid exhibit they were running through the beginning of March – most of the above photos were taken there. Apparently there are over 30,000 different kinds of plants at the gardens…I certainly didn't count that many but I can say that it was expansive, beautiful and well worth a visit.

There’s also a restaurant where we went to warm up with tea and fluffy scones with clotted cream and jam – naturally! And right next door is the Kew Palace which is quite small but still very grand. The actual Borough of Kew is really lovely too – there was a Sunday market going on right outside the tube station and there were some nice restaurants and shops along the little high street. Seemed like a nice place to settle down a little outside of the hustle & bustle of central London! With only a few more months left here, I can't wait for more weekend adventures in London!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Perfect Serving Chocolate Chip Cookies

About a month ago when I was sick at home, I spent a while looking through blogs and stumbled across this AMAZING recipe from Melissa at No. 2 Pencil. I was craving chocolate chip cookies but didn't want to make a huge batch, partially so I didn't eat them all. This recipe is genius because it only makes two big cookies...yep, just two. The cookies are perfectly chewy and crunchy and I threw in a few too many chocolate chips so they were a bit richer. This is definitely one to add to the recipe book or Pinterest board...I've already made it three times this month!

Here's what you'll need:

2 tablespoons of butter
2 firmly packed tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 egg yolk – discard or set aside egg white for a different use
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
3 heaping tablespoons of semisweet chocolate chips

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a microwave safe bowl, heat butter just until it starts to melt and is softened. Blend softened butter, sugars, salt, and vanilla together by hand. Add egg yolk and stir again. Add baking soda and flour and stir until combined. Then stir in chocolate chips.

Form the cookie dough into two balls and place on baking sheet. The cookies will spread during baking, so make sure they are several inches apart. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
Remove baking sheet from oven and give the baking sheet a firm, but careful bang on the counter top. This will deflate the cookie and give it a perfect wrinkly appearance.


[Image via No. 2 Pencil]

Monday, 11 March 2013

Iconic London

Photo © Jim Anderson

One of the things on my 'bucket list' over here is to take photos of iconic things in London so that we can capture beautiful memories of our time here. Since I now have the right camera, I thought I'd give it a go and brave the tourist crowds near the Thames - above are some of the shots we took near Parliament and Westminster Abbey on Saturday. This is just a start as we still have many more things to photograph from our favourite tube stations to favourite bakeries and places (hello Gail's!). When we're back home I plan to frame the best ones on a gallery wall in our flat...this way we can remember London everyday!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Tory Burch Style

Last week I was able to attend a fun shop & champagne event at the Tory Burch store on New Bond St. courtesy of Stylist (my favourite magazine). They sent an email out earlier in the week inviting a select number of readers, so of course I jumped on it! My friend Katie and I went and had a fabulous time chatting, browsing and sipping bubbly. The clothes, shoes and accessories are so gorgeous - I literally wanted everything in the store but held back (everything is cheaper in the States)! Especially loved that red purse above and the matching wallet, but would probably stick to typical black for everyday wear. They had a fun photo booth where your photo was turned into a Tory Burch branded flip book that we got to take home. We also entered ourselves in a raffle to win that beautiful tweed and cream totebag...fingers crossed! And on the way out they gave us little goody bags with a Tory Burch candle...the perfect addition to my office desk. I just love being able to do impromptu things like this; it's one of the many reasons I love London.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Scenes From Dubai

The water fountain show at the Mall of Dubai
The massive Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world
The incredible view from the top of the Burj cool!
A visit to the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
This was taken right before I put on my burka to head inside the mosque
The Dubai Marina...lots of big yachts and shops right on the crystal blue ocean
This was taken from the Palm Jumeirah, the island shaped like a palm tree. You can see the Burj Al Arab hotel in the background including the helipad at the top
Inside the Souk at the Dubai Mall before dinner on our last night. The Dubai Mall is the biggest mall in the world and has every shop you can imagine.
The Souk Al Bahar at night, so beautiful and majestic especially when the fountain show starts up
Family reunion in lucky to be able to meet up half way around the world!

Here's the last post on our fabulous trip to Dubai. Major highlights include the view at the top of the Burj Khalifa, the beautiful mosque in Abu Dhabi and a family dinner at the Souk Al Bahar overlooking the fountain show. Wish we could go back part for the amazing 80 degree weather but also for the company and the sites. Until next time...

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