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?

Friday, 28 October 2011

#Occupy London: Scenes from St Paul's

Yesterday I said I was going to write about a proper cup of tea. If you are really excited about it I would come back to see it tomorrow. 
Today with all the news coverage, and especially the comments during last night's Question Time made about #OccupyLondon at St Paul's, I decided to post some photos of what the protest looked like last week.

Out front of London's iconic church was a scene different than what the newscasters had presented. The place was actually really organized, with little rows of tents, taped off areas for news cameras, pedestrians and sightseers.

There was no litter.
No raw sewage.
The front of the church was not blocked by any protesters, tents or news crews, it was easily accessible for anyone visiting.

I have no idea why St. Paul's closed or why they are trying to remove the protesters for "health and safety reasons". The first two minutes of any given music festival has more health code violations than this group of protesters has made in over a week.

I have seen other protests. I have seen chanting, shouting and threatening police. 

This was calm, quiet, collected. People just engaging in honest conversation about the social and economic inequality in the world. 

It was actually nice.

When we have a very current history of violent protest, it is an illogical and even dangerous move to not allow a place for peaceful demonstration. So why is the government looking to push protesters from this site?

It is sad that many politicians fail to attempt understanding the motives behind this worldwide protest and I truly hope it does not create a situation like NYC and Oakland have witnessed.

And well. That's all I wanted to say about that.

On a more lighthearted note, I saw this while punting in Cambridge:
I'm pretty sure y'all ARE the 1%

Thursday, 27 October 2011

London's Secret Tea Room in Soho

During my friend's stay we took a visit to the gorgeous Soho Secret Tea room. Though in the midst of the bustle of touristy Leicester Square, the Secret Tea Room offers a calm refuge to take a relaxing tea.

A thoroughly vintage theme runs throughout the room (and it is just a room with 8 or so tables) and early 20th century records spin, making your mind believe it's in a small teashop in the 1930s.

Even the customized cake stands have a fun kitchy flair. Check out the Chuck and Di cameo below: 

Field flowers in jam jars looked like they have been handpicked the same day. They rested on the mismatched antique lace tablecloths- which is exactly what covered the tables at my wedding party, so I had an immediate soft spot for this place.

But I know what is the real focal point of this story: the afternoon tea!

For only £14 you can treat yourself to a traditional tea with sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, a cupcake, and a choice of pie/cake. Of course it also comes with a pot of delicious loose leaf tea, which I will discuss more of tomorrow.

As I look at this photo I am salivating at the thought of going back!


Now the Secret Tea Room is a secret, so I won't tell you how to get there, but this photo has several clues:

You might see something familiar from my birthday post.

So far I have yet to have a poor afternoon tea experience (last one here), but Soho's Secret Tea Room was definitely the cutest and I will be back!

Do you prefer your afternoon tea to be served in high class style or with a quaint vintage flair?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

London Eats: My Week in Food

I am not dead. Well, yet. The non-stop fun-having with a visitor last week, plus the flu that seems to be making its way around London this week, I have been away from the computer. 

While there are some fun posts coming up over the next week, I thought I'd leave a little preview photo of food I have eaten in the last week with my friend Leila.

There was brunch in Putney, tea & macaroons in Chelsea, lunch in Cambridge, sushi on the Southbank, high tea in Soho, tapas in the Spitalfields, noodles in Chinatown, almost-General Tso's in Camden and a goodbye pub meal in Fulham before Leila headed back to Philadelphia.

My immune system might be extra-low today, but my heart (and stomach) is full.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Pinkberry Treats Served in London's Selfridges

It has been a couple months since Pinkberry started swirling frozen yougurt inside Selfridges food halls, but October was the first chance I had to treat myself to a taste.

Fro-yo wasn't a 'thing' in the 90s in London, like it was in the States (TCBY, anyone?), but now it is getting to be pretty popular, with smaller chains opening around the area such as the tartly named SNOG.

Pinkberry is the first American fro-yo chain to grace the city and I'm not one to miss a chance on having Hollywood's favorite accessory after Starbucks (and DUI's).

Hidden in the back of the Selfridges food hall, Pinkberry serves up the same lo-cal treats as in their US stores- even offering Cap'n' Crunch!

What did I swirl? My favorite: watermelon frozen yogurt, Cap'n' Crunch cereal, and kiwi fruit.

VERDICT: Delicious! My husband had a hard time adjusting to the semi-sweet chocolate and frozen yogurt flavours, but I am a fan and loved this healthy(ish) frozen indulgence.

Have you been to Pinkberry yet? What is your favorite flavor to swirl?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Tune Tuesday: The Spinning Leaves and Mumford & Sons

In Philly they might say "This is my jawn!" when a particularly favourite song comes on the radio- in London it is "Tune!"

For this chilled-out Tune Tuesday, here is a song about Philly:
Bridges for Free by The Spinning Leaves
'love landed somewhere in Philadelphia'

And a song about London:
Winter Winds by Mumford & Sons
'As the winter winds litter London with lonely hearts'
perfect for the blustery cold day

What are you listening to this week?

Monday, 17 October 2011

TOP SECRET: The Week Ahead...

A friend from the States has arrived today for a week in London! You can expect to see a lot of photos like this pop up:
Actually taken in Maryland
The theme of her visit is the secret side of London. Underground performances, pop up restaurants and speakeasies are all in store for this week.

Here is our list:
Thats what I will be exploring this week.
Are there any London secrets you can tell me?

Friday, 14 October 2011

Urban London Landscapes

This is a quiet post. 
As my husband recovers from the flu and I prepare our flat for a house guest next week I thought I would take a little blog break today and share some scenes of everyday, non-touristy London.



Hope everyone had a healthy Friday and has a beautiful weekend!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

70s Autumnal Birthday Swag

There seemed to be a theme running through the wonderful gifts my family and friends gave me for my birthday. Pumpkin orange, black, gold, and brown?

Someone must have anticipated yesterday's 70s post or know how excited I am for this autumn!

Camera pendant from my friend Nathalie. Prefect for my love of vintage cameras.

A cosy pumpkin colored slouchy jumper from my Mom.

Dachshund pendant by Daniela Sigurd from Kevin. I spotted it at the Thames festival, Kevin took note then ordered it from the website. SO happy he remembered and now I have this cute little guy in my life.

The black cloche hat from my birthday pinterest wish list.

A nice grey-brown cardigan from my Mom again. (Though it looks more grey here)

My £3.50 birthday present to myself: a cute bird to-go porcelain coffee cup from Wilkinsons.

Apparently I am really drawn to these 70s/Halloween-y autumn colors this season (or they are drawn to me).

What colors are you really digging now?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Oregon Trail to Kings Road with River Island's Chelsea Girl

I got sucked into the gold rush playing the vintage computer game Oregon trail last night. Did you know you can play a whole load of old Apple games online

Anyhow, it was the FIRST time I ever made it to Oregon alive! I even got in the top 10 of the game leaderboard. 1991 is so proud of me.

I was re-living the trans-prairie victory today while online shopping and came across River Island's Chelsea Girl collection that could fit right into 1848.

Clockwise from top left:
  1. Hedgehog print jumper
  2. Cream victoriana blouse
  3. Frill front blouse
  4. Oversize cape
  5. Ankle boots
  6. Midi skirts
  7. Suede bag

It is based on the Chelsea Girl brand of the 60s and 70s which eventually evolved into the River Island of today.

During the 60s and 70s the King's Road in Chelsea was the center of London counterculture. Hippies roamed the street in the late 1960s, while in the 70s Dame Vivienne Westwood opened her first shop on the King's Road selling to the punk scene.

The collection might have some pieces that are "fording the Snake River" than River Island, but it does blend together nicely the 1960s Kings Road with 1860s Oregon Trail for the modern day Chelsea girl.

Are you into frontier/ hippie style or should it get lost on the trail like one of my oxen?

Try to beat my 2244 score on Oregon Trail here and to get a good idea of the Kings Road style of the 1960s check out the Kings Road Rocks! tumblr by @kingsroadrocks.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Timeline of a Birthday Weekend in London

Glam Factory at the National Portrait Gallery with friends followed by dinner at a Portuguese cafe Canela. Then off to Victoria for some beers with more friends.

Cakes and Carbs at Canela
Veg around at home watching the Importance of Being Earnest. Inspired, decide to ditch the plans for Italian to eat at Oscar Wilde's former haunt, Kettners.

Kettners, a British institution

Barely make the reservation, but still have enough time to soak in the historic ambiance. Indulge in some cheesecake while pretending Oscar is sipping some absinthe in the corner and Bing Crosby is crooning at the bar.

After dinner surprise with Priscilla Queen of the Desert tickets. Hilarious and almost as much fun as a real drag show in the beautiful (but way too hot- I think I went through menopause in the second act) Palace Theatre.

Remember going out to clubs all night for birthdays? This time wander the streets of Leicester Square to get Honeydew Bubble Tea and Passion Fruit popping boba from Bubbleology.

Wake up to a delicious birthday treat of Pumpkin Whoopie Pies from Hummingbird Bakery (from my Birthday list).

After opening presents, take a ridiculous bus journey (curse you TFL!) to see the first Renegade Craft Fair in the UK in Brick Lane.

Check out all the cute hip craft stands and find this gem:

Viva Las Vegas by Patrick Edgely

A print by Patrick Edgely with Viva Las Vegas on it. For people who got married in the Viva Las Vegas wedding chapel? YES, PLEASE! 

Shopping for crafts can make you hungry. Conveniently the Sunday Up Market on Brick Lane is downstairs, so pick up some dumplings.

Maybe the vintage start to the weekend is to blame, but the urge to get 'Chips' served in newsprint from a retro Fish & Chip shop strikes, so its good Poppies is on the way back from Brick Lane.

Return home to west London exhausted. Cancel the plans for dinner and drinks in Fulham in favor of Mexican delivery from Tacuba and the Red Riding Hood dvd.

While Amanda Seyfried may disappoint, pulled pork nachos never do and it is the perfect way to unwind after a great weekend.

Hope you had a good weekend too!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Working a Late Shift in the Glamour Factory at the National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery and a few friends helped me kick off my birthday weekend in style with their vintage Glamour Factory museum Late Shift. Old time studio star factories- where they invented and churned out their contract actresses was the story of the event.

A chic black and white dress code was enforced and I wore a variation of this outfit, but with silver screen Giuseppe Zanotti heels and a faux fur collar.

Upon entrance I was handed a studio contract, christened with a stage name and was typecast before I even took a sip of my fizzy Gin & Ginger cocktail.

Meet Brenda the Sophisticated lady.

Ok, maybe not too sophisticated if my Walk of Fame hand print has anything to say about it.

My friend Nat works on her Hollywood John Hancock.

If you had the will power to stand in a queue, there was a fancy retro salon where you could get a glam pinup makeover.

I, however, was more drawn to the Broken Hearts Cocktail Lounge, though over-crowded had some great 1920s & 30s tunes playing while we were there.

Seeing what people were wearing and how they did their gorgeous pin-up hair was the best part of the evening. Unfortunately the planning did not live up to the amount of publicity and many more people were in attendance than they anticipated so it ended up being a lot of waiting around in a queue for those of us lucky enough to get in, as many had to be turned away.

We ended up skipping the talks and the pinup makeup for some breathing room elsewhere in the city.
 However if they run this event again and have it much larger, or ticketed I would definitely go back and try the things I missed!

See future Late Shifts at the National Portrait Galley and read about my experience at the V&A Friday Lates. Have you been to any museum lates?