Friday, 31 May 2013

Back To San Francisco

The day is finally here! I can't believe we're saying goodbye to London for good. It's been such a wonderful home away from home for us, and we've completely fallen for all its charms (and downfalls!). I am truly sad to leave this city, but I will definitely make it a point to visit sometime in the future and wander around all of my favourite places. I am so thankful that we had the chance to take this journey as a newly married's been quite the experience and I wouldn't change it for the world. 

On the bright side, I'm giddy with excitement to see our family and friends. San Francisco, here we come!

[Image via Cachemire & Soie]

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Aix-en-Provence to St. Tropez

I'm still in reminiscing mode about out trip to France, and kind of wish I was back there basking in the glorious sun. At least I have some good photos to sum it all up! The top three were taken in Aix-en-Provence, which we visited after leaving Bonnieax in the Luberon valley. Aix such a lovely town with great shopping, restaurants and beautiful sights to see. The streets are just so small and pretty and everything seems to have this lovely caramel glow about it. Speaking of caramel, the salted caramel macarons I tasted were to die for. We made sure to go to this beautiful flower market I'd read about and then made our way to the fresh produce market a few streets away, where they sell everything from lavender to fresh produce. If we ever go back to Provence I would definitely consider making Aix our base.

After touring Aix for the afternoon, we drove to St. Tropez. Despite the winding roads in a little traffic, we loved the beautiful harbor and glitz & glamour that make this place so special and sought after. The yachts are so impressive, everyone seems to be putting on a bit of a show and literally every designer you can imagine has a store there. It's truly a shopper's paradise if you're willing to splash out. We didn't stay long as there was a massive queue to leave (there's only one road in and out), and we ended up in traffic for more than two hours on our way to Nice. Luckily that was the only real low point during the entire trip. Next up on our French trip is Nice...I'll share photos soon!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Farewell London

Our final week in London is upon us, and everything is happening so quickly. Today was my last day at work, we move out tomorrow and then fly to San Francisco on Friday – crazy! It’s surreal seeing our stuff strewn all over the flat and having our bags packed for the next month. In just a few days our lives will go back to normal California living and this will all seem a bit like a dream.

I’ve been feeling melancholy the past week as it’s bittersweet to be leaving this beautiful city. I will miss so many things about London from the Brits’ obsession with tea and chatting far too long about the weather, to a good pub lunch and Christmas in London (there’s nothing else like it). And then there’s the ease of traveling anywhere in Europe and always having the upper hand with currency. Above all, I will miss the memories we’ve made in this city and the incredible people I’ve met.

It has been such a great experience and one that I would do again in a heartbeat. Leaving is definitely difficult, but it’s been made a little easier by the rainy weather today (how fitting) and the fact that San Francisco is an incredible place. And obviously we cannot wait to see our family and friends! I’m sure I’ll be a bit sentimental the next few weeks and months posting about all the things I miss, so bear with me.

Friday, 24 May 2013

The Engagement

I have some HUGE news to share…my fabulous sister Myriah just got engaged last weekend to the love of her life, Corey!! I am literally beyond, beyond excited about it and have been busy being joyful about their news, hence why I haven’t been blogging for a week. It all took place on Mt. Tam last Friday where Corey popped the question overlooking the ocean (he also document the proposal which is incredible). He then whisked her away to Mendocino for the romantic.

I’m so happy that I’ll be able to take part in all of their celebrations since we’re heading home so soon – next week to be exact – gasp! I just cannot wait for all of the planning and parties to commence, first and foremost with some bubbly next Friday. I’ll definitely be documenting all the festivities on the blog so stay tuned!

And congratulations, Myriah and Corey! Love you both so much.

[Image via Style Me Pretty]

Friday, 17 May 2013

Scenes From Provence

Our trip to Provence, Nice and Cinque Terre was nothing short of spectacular and I’m still feeling (slightly) relaxed despite being back at work. I fell in love with Provence even more than I thought I would – the rolling hills, beautiful fields of flowers, wineries and decadent food – everything is just so perfectly French and refined. We made a little village called Bonnieux our home for three nights and it was a great hideaway nestled in the hills above the Luberon valley. The drive from Marseilles was easy and scenic as you drive on these little narrow roads sprawling with greenery and yellow and purple flowers. Our bed and breakfast, Les Terrasses du Luberon proved to be a great base and the owners were lovely and gave great recommendations for restaurants and nearby villages to visit during our stay. One was L'Arome, a great (but pricey) French restaurant where we went our first night. The seared scallops were delish!

The Luberon valley, and all of Provence for that matter, is a place I’d love to go back to…maybe rent a house with the rest of my family and stay for three weeks, spending lazy days walking through villages and markets and tasting wine. Here are a few scenes from our trip…

This was taken when we first arrived to our B&B in Bonnieux. Although it was a bit overcast, it was still warm and the valley had this beautiful haze of lush greenery.
We passed this field on our drive from Bonnieux to a nearby market for lunch. I love the vibrant yellow colour and I would've gotten knee deep in it if it weren't a swamp underneath! The matching pants weren't planned, I swear. 
Later that day, we browsed fresh produce, lavender and handmade goods at L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue market on Sunday morning, our first full day of adventures. Lavender is all over Provence but unfortunately doesn't fully bloom until June.
Here we are on the top of Les Baux de Provence, a beautiful village about an hour from Bonnieax that's built in the stones. There's an old castle called Ch√Ęteau des Baux that you can tour on the top of the mountain, but the best part are these scenic views. 
We visited the Fontaine-de-Vaucluse on our first day and it was absolutely beautiful - a surprising find as I really wasn't it expecting it to be that cool. But the water was a pretty turquoise colour, and as you can see, the surroundings and little village were picturesque.
One of the highlights of our trip was visiting the Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine region where we tasted some incredible red wines and enjoyed the sunshine with fresh baguette sandwiches. Highly recommend visiting this area!
Sampling away local wines for free, a nice perk in a pricey place. We picked up a few bottles to take home....we're saving one for our last weekend in London but we ended up breaking in to the other one in Italy.  
I found this beautiful painting on a wooden driveway door in Roussillon, a little village in the Luberon valley that's known for it's red pigmented architecture.I love the romantic feeling of the artwork.
This was our local wine tasting spot near our B&B in Bonnieax. We'd stop by after our daily adventures for an afternoon taste before watching the sunset.
Here are the rustic buildings in Roussillon. You can see how the pigment has dyed the buildings, very cool. 
Vineyards and fields of purple flowers in Chateauneuf-du-Pape - simply gorgeous! We stopped to take in the view and a few photos on our way home.

Next up I’ll be sharing scenes from our time in Aix-en-Provence and St. Tropez which were our stops on the way to Cannes. More on our tour de Provence to come soon!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Mustard Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas

I'm just getting back into the swing of things since returning from our French/Italian holiday (which was looovely...more to come soon!), so I'm a little behind on posts, but I wanted to share this gem of a recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow's It's All Good cookbook. I've already made it twice since getting it in the mail a few weeks ago! It's just the perfect mix of healthy, filling and flavorful. I know these cauliflower and chickpeas don't sound that amazing, but the combination of the mustard dressing and parsley really makes it pop. Here's what you'll need to make it:

1 can chickpeas, rinsed, drained and dried with a dishtowel
1 head of cauliflower, broken in florets
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon seeded mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Then toss the chickpeas and cauliflower together in a large roasting pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch of salt. Roast, stirring once for 45 minutes or until everything is dark brown and the cauliflower is soft.

Meanwhile, whisk together the mustards, vinegar and 1/4 cup olive oil with a big pinch of salt and some black pepper. While the chickpeas and cauliflower are still warm, toss them with the mustard dressing and parsley. Serve warm and ENJOY!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Tour de South of France

Our final European trip is upon us! I have SO loved all this travelling we've done and I feel so lucky we've had all of these wonderful chances to see the world. For our last trip, we're going to soak up the culture and sun in the South of France and then in Cinque Terre. It all starts tomorrow in Marseilles where we'll fly in, rent a car and then end up in a tiny village at a tiny bed and breakfast in Bonnieux in the heart of Provence. We spend three days exploring Provence, from Avignon to Aix en Provence, and then on Wednesday we'll drive along the French coast to Nice. I've been to Nice once before with my sister so I know it'll be lovely and full of croissants and sunny beaches. We'll stay for four days, taking day trips to St. Tropez, Eze, Cannes and a little island off Cannes called Isla Santa Margarita. And then we'll go via train to Monterrosso in Cinque Terre where we'll relax for a few days before coming back to London. My bags are almost packed with my sunniest attire and I simply cannot wait for this last farewell trip. I'll share photos when we're back!

[Image via Deliciously Organized]

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Mediterranean Salmon

I recently discovered a new way to cook salmon and I'm so excited to share it with you. It might look simple but the flavour combination is so good and I think it’s slightly different to the recipe I'm used to  – the typical lemon, garlic and butter. The chili gives it the perfect amount of spice while the tomato and basil give you the flavours of Italy.
Step one is preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Chop one pint of cherry tomatoes and one pint of teardrop tomatoes in half and place in a bowl along with the julienned basil. Pour two tablespoons of olive oil over the mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir around. 
Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of a rectangular baking dish and place salmon fillets in the dish. Drizzle very lightly with more olive oil. Squeeze half a lemon over four good sized salmon fillets and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Chop one red chili finely and sprinkle evenly over the salmon fillets. 
Then scoop the tomato and basil mixture over and around the salmon fillets. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until the salmon is cooked through and set aside for a few minutes before serving. 
If you’re thinking of making a side dish, try an avocado, arugula and toasted almond salad with an lemon & olive oil vinaigrette and a side of garlic and herb cous cous. It's a lovely light complement to the salmon dish. 

I hope you enjoy it!

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