Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Showgirls & Slayers of Harrods Swarovski Christmas Windows

This weekend while shopping for holiday gifts at Harrods, I got good look at their window display sponsored by Swarovski.

Though the name "Crystal Christmas" might bring shining bright icicles to mind, what Swarovski presents is a much darker interpretation- where the shine might just be coming from the edge of a knife.

From glittering gothic showgirls exhibited in a Ziegfeld Follies-esque tiered cake of mirrors,

to beautifully haunting scenes out of a murder-mystery.

Bejeweled birdcage songbirds appear from behind a sheer white veil,

as a python dominatrix rules the wintry forest floor.

These beautiful windows certainly stand out on the Knightsbridge storefront, seem to be themed more "The Nightmare Before..." than Holly-Jolly Christmas. In fact every child passing in front of the windows exclaimed "That woman is dead!" and "Is she killing him?! Why is she killing him!" 

So fashion slaves should flock to Swarovski's wintry windows, but those looking for more of a traditional Christmas with a jolly man dressed in all white should stick to the holiday decorations of Harrods' interior.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Present & Settled

There has been a blog-sized hole in my life the past two weeks, but now I have returned to fill it.

My absence has not been for some glamourous beach holiday, or some soul searching meditations.

Instead it was carefully counting up all the facts, figures and hopes of the past two years and slipping them into carefully color-coordinated and labeled plastic sleeves.


I bundled them all up and carried them sleepy-eyed across a London sunrise to sit in a grey waiting room as an immigration officer and a computer took the story of my life and stripped it down to ticks off a checklist and a few easy sums. 

An email, phone call and four cuticle-biting hours went by before "Application Number Thirty-Five please come to Window Twenty-Two" crackled over the loudspeaker, as my blue passport slipped through the extra-thick bulletproof safety drawer, complete with a shiny new crown-adorned sticker.

I am finally a permanent resident of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and one more step closer to my dreams.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

New Street Art at Portobello Market

This weekend was spent exploring Holland Park and Notting Hill. A craving for some delicious tacos at El Camino turned into a chance to see a live art show.

A collective of street artists were collaborating on a large wall.

It was amazing to see these works of art come to life in front of us...

 and to witness the techniques of the artists first hand.

Though there must have been 30 people watching them work, they didn't seem to break a sweat or make a mistake. Not something I think I could do!

I am excited to go back and see the final result!

To see the art for yourself- they sit at the entrance to Ladbroke Grove Station entrance to Portobello Market (right next to the A40).

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Secrets of All Saints Church in Fulham

Shooting film photographs with my vintage Halina Paulette camera can be a fun way to explore the city.  I put the results on my flickr.

Though I took these photos a few months ago, their creepy atmosphere goes perfectly with the facts I recently unearthed about All Saints Church in Fulham.

All Saints was used in the classic horror movie The Omen. The tower is where *spoiler alert* Father Brennan gets impaled by a lightning rod.

Bishops Park

Yes, this is the church which filled childhood nightmares that were not about Jaws.

All Saints Graveyard

The cemetery is also a mix of beautiful and creepy.  The foundation dates back 900 years, though the tower is from 1440 and a majority of the church was rebuilt in the 1880s.

It sits on the River Thames adjacent to Bishops Park and more than a few Bishops of London have been buried here.

Though not on the usual circuit of London churches to visit, if you love film or hauntingly beautiful places, Fulham's All Saints Church is the perfect place to visit.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Ghost Signs of London

across from Ladbroke Grove Underground

on Camden High St

hidden signs like ghosts
a city's past life on top
the bricks of London

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Scenes of Cambridge in Autumn

If I had to pick anywhere else in the UK to live, it would be Cambridge. When I visited a couple weeks ago, I mentioned there was punting, but the day was also spent soaking in the town's atmosphere.

Living here, I sometimes feel desensitized to cutesy, old, famous things. Cambridge, however, always manages to impress.

With the historic stone and brick houses...

The collegiate autumnal feel of campuses covered in fallen leaves...

The cute shopfronts with hand painted signs...

The winding twisting roads...

The ubiquitous push bikes with wicker baskets blocking every path... 

The road signs from 1857...

The buildings that have inspired academics for hundreds of years...

Yes, Cambridge, I really like you.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Harrods Crystal Christmas Decorations

This weekend's chilly grey weather got me thinking it was the Christmas season.
With only 7 weeks left until the day and 5 more weeks until our holiday vacation, it nearly is!

Yesterday we took a tour around London to see the best Christmas displays. Normally Fortnum & Mason is our favorite, but Harrods really impressed this year.

Every year the store picks a different theme for the decorations and window displays. This year was Crystal Christmas as the windows, which deserve a post of their own, were presented by Swarovski. 


Don't worry, there are plenty of traditional decorations peppered throughout the Christmas shop.

With no Thanksgiving to look forward to here, I find myself getting excited about Christmas extra early. Are you excited for the holiday season yet?

Friday, 4 November 2011

Beetle Juice! Models Own's Newest Nail Range

It was my husbands birthday yesterday but today felt like my birthday when a deliveryman brought me a package containing the item I have been coveting for a month: the all-new Beetle Juice Golden Green nail polish (or varnish, in British English).

About 30 seconds after I ripped open the ASOS box (did you know they have free shipping?) I started painting my nails, which had been stripped of color the day before in anticipation.

It took  two coats to get the opaque color. On the nail it appears a refective yellow-green, which when hits with sunlight, shimmers with gold. Also depending on the light, the Golden Green can seem like a dark blue-green, which would be a nice color all on its own.


The verdict? While I do like this color, and will re-wear it, I was hoping for it to be a darker deeper green gold like the Butter London's Wallis.  
(Aside: Why do they add London to their name if it is so gosh darn hard to get their products here?! )

With their facebook and media coverage, plus the countdown clock for theTuesday morning web release, Models Own had a definite smash hit opening for this range, having all the British fashonistas screaming "Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetle Juice!".

Pinky Brown and their Box Set of the range have already sold out (in one day!) but you can order the other BeetleJuice colors on the Models Own website.

What do you think of this range?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Fall punting in Cambridge

Though I travel to Cambridge once a month for business, I never get the chance to be a tourist. Having a friend in town is the perfect excuse to try out all the fun things I sometimes put off.

Two weeks ago I went punting in Cambridge for the very first time!

Some of you might be wondering what exactly is punting?
It is a lot like a gondola ride, where you sit in low, flat boats and a "punter" stands and uses a long stick to push you along the river.

with our tour guide Frank

I have always thought of punting as a summer pastime, but a crisp autumn day is the perfect weather for sitting underneath a cozy blanket for a peaceful ride along the river Cam.

The river is especially nice this time of year, since there are virtually no tourists and you have the river to yourself. As a bonus the slow days can mean the punting companies will offer generous discounts on tickets.

Cam sits in between a few of the historical colleges of Cambridge, so punting offers you a unique view of St Johns, Trinity, Kings and Queens Colleges.

The bridges:

oldest bridge on the Cam

The Bridge of Sighs

The wildlife:

The scenery:
I am dissapointed that I have waited 2 years to go punting in Cambridge and after this fun experience I can not wait to do it again.

The only thing I would change? Next time, I will definitely be bringing some mulled wine for a fall punting session. Or maybe champagne in the summer!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween Movie Monday: An American Werewolf in London

This weekend walking around Soho in the rain, I didn't see a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand. However, I did see witches, vampires, and zombies milling about on their way to and from Halloween festivities.

It is exciting to see today get bigger and bigger in the UK and this year there was noticeably more Halloween goodies in stores. The one truly lacking facet (besides candy corn) of the holiday is all the great Halloween themed movies on TV. 

Hocus Pocus, Halloween and It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown are all the favorites I am giving a miss this year.

Though I am not dressing up today, I decided to celebrate in expat theme by watching the horror classic An American Werewolf in London.

Watching this movie and maybe singing a few Warren Zevon verses is how I am spending my Halloween.

Tomorrow November is here and I will still be in the holiday spirit- trying to buy discounted candy corn at every expat's favorite grocery store Partridges and hopefully my hands on Model's Own new Beetlejuice collection that comes out tomorrow.
Look at that gold-green on the left!

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Proper Cup of Tea

I love tea time! And the Soho Secret Tea Room was the perfect place for a traditional cuppa.

If you want to make an excellent cup of tea, I highly suggest picking up a loose leaf. The SSTR serves some delicious blends- I went with the Earl Grey. 

After letting the leaves steep for 4 minutes, the tea should be ready to drink.

Step 1: Add sugar to your cup. I like one tea spoon, or one sugar cube if you are being fancy.

2. Add a strainer for the leaves, unless you happen to know a mystic skilled in tea leaf reading.

3. Pour brewed tea through strainer. Careful not to miss like I did! My dreams of being a geisha are now fully dashed.

4. Add milk to the strength you desire and stir! Some suggest putting the milk in first, but I find I end up over-pouring. Generally I like strong teas- either black or just a touch of milk.

5. Now sip and enjoy!

Thanks to Leila for being my model and Soho Secret Tea Room for their delicious afternoon tea!

What is your favorite way to take tea?