Friday, June 24, 2016

Highlights From Taste of London

So, last Saturday, I decided that it would be perfectly sensible to meet Udita at Taste of London for a quick whizz around the food stalls before attending an interior design workshop at Heal's. WRONG. You really need the following optimum conditions to enjoy "the world's greatest restaurant festival":
  • time
  • waterproof shoes (apparently, as my Tory Burch espadrilles were absolutely ruined by the mud)
  • patience (the lines were so long)
  • a bottle of water (since the only beverages available seemed to be - in this order - gin, champagne, beer, and coffee)
But, still. We had a great time and sampled some delicious food. Had I not been rushing to my next destination, I would have happily stood in line for Golden Grahams soft serve at Duck & Waffle, the barbecued pork things that everyone else was chomping on at Roka, and other seemingly tasty things that looked good from a distance. 

So, here were the highlights:

These incredible "sari cakes" from, well, Sari Cakes. I marvelled at the intricate designs and colorful, henna-like patterns.

Lamb meatballs and grilled octopus from Sea Containers. Perfectly scrumptious when washed down with shot-sized sample of Doom Bar. Also: jamon from Jose Pizarro. Perfectly scrumptious when washed down with shot-sized sample of Doom Bar.

I stopped to smell the roses at Bloomon - I can't resist a beautiful bouquet. It's become my Thursday/Friday ritual to buy fresh flowers to enjoy over the weekend. A weekly floral delivery service is a little too tempting to me ...

By the time we'd finished nibbling our "mains", we set off in search of dessert and instantly went all googly-eyed over the beautiful displays of pastries and cakes at Coup de Pates.

I brought home a lemon meringue tart for John, but by the time it had made its way through Regent's Park, sat through a workshop at Heal's, travelled on the sweaty Victoria line back to Walthamstow ... it had melted, to my disappointment. And he was too ill to eat it. So I ended up eating it over the sink. With a fork. In the box.

So glamorous.

Predictably, since I was with Udita (and the two of us seem to always find ourselves in bizarre/hilarious situations), some funny moments occurred, namely:
  • the patissier who mistook our enthusiasm for the reunion of the cast of The Hills (a US reality TV show) as enthusiasm for the cake we were eating;
  • the lady behind us in line who was trying to decide what to order when Udita piped up with, "The jamon Iberico is excellent!" ... only for her suggestion to be rebuked with, "I'm actually vegetarian."
  • the lady serving samples of Doom Bar who seemed to always just miss Udita (or was purposely avoiding her) until I practically shouted, "HELLO! HI! OVER HERE!"
Next year? I'll be bringing wellies (unless we have a miraculously sunny and dry June) and my A-game to Taste of London. Did you go? What did you think? Let me know!

Our tickets to Taste of London were complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Angloyankophile Featured in Layer Home!

Hi friends, just a quick one today, but I'm so, so excited to share that I've been featured in an interview with Layer - one of my favorite destinations for antique furniture and homeware. I randomly discovered Layer on Facebook a few weeks ago and instantly fell in love with the pre-loved designer and vintage furniture - especially those chairs!

As you know, John and I love hunting for antique furniture and home decor, even bringing back a few souvenirs from the antique markets of Bordeaux. I'm currently scouring the Layer site for our next collectable piece of furniture or art. I was so flattered when Faith wrote to ask about my interior design inspiration and tips, which I've shared in the interview.

If you have a chance, please take a look - I'd love to know what you think!

And if you're on the hunt for new stuff for your house/flat, take a look at these posts:

- A guide on where to shop for what

- Colorful tableware for summer (I love a colorful table!)

- 6 beautiful pieces of abstract art for your walls

- How to transform your room with a market basket

Thank you for reading, as always. xo


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Flowering Tea Rituals At Home

Last week was full of appointments and social events. By the end of it, I felt exhausted and drained. John arrived home on Saturday after a business trip, travelling between New York, Boston and San Francisco for a week so the energy in our house felt very, very low.

Halfway through Sunday afternoon, we quietly made our way into one of the guest rooms and I brewed JING's beautiful flowering teas in a JING "tea-iere" - like a cafetiere, but for tea, which is genius for people who like to drink loose leaf teas like me!

Have you ever tried a flowering tea before? They're also called "blooming" or "artisan" teas, and originate from Fujian province, China. Flowering teas are made with green tea buds and are hand tied with aromatic flowers. When you pour boiling water over them, they slowly unfurl and make a beautiful display in your cup (along with the tea-iere featured here, JING also makes these fantastic twin-walled cups that would give the same effect). Sometimes, I order these flowering teas as a treat when I'm having dim sum.

But on Sunday, I decided to pull them out at home because John and I both needed to wind down. As the tea brewed and we watched the flowers magically bloom, suspended in hot water, John and I chatted about our ongoing garden works and our travel plans for the rest of the summer. I realised that we often talk to each other while doing something else at home, like a chore or cooking. How nice is it to just sit down and chat without any distractions in sight? We're both so busy that sometimes we need to force ourselves to put down our phones and just take the time to relax.

We tried the Flowering Jasmine and Lily and Flowering Osmanthus teas from JING. Both have a wonderfully fragrant but subtle taste - perfect for unwinding after a busy day or week. I love the idea of having a mini "tea ritual" every weekend, especially when I'm feeling low in energy or anxious about the upcoming week. Just the sound of tea being poured is sometimes enough to calm me down.

I felt so chilled out after our cups of tea, I even managed to finish two books I'd started earlier in the week, which felt like a triumph!

How do you like to unwind on the weekend? Are you a fan of flowering teas? I'd love to know!

My flowering teas and tea-iere were generously provided by JING, a company whose products and ethos I love. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Angloyankophile! You can buy your own JING tea here. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Interior Inspiration: 6 Beautiful Pieces of Abstract Art For Your Home

I recently discovered the beautiful, original art on FineArtSeen - an online art gallery - and have spent nearly all my free time browsing different artists' work and styles. Today, I'm sharing with you my top picks of abstract artwork I've been contemplating for our blank walls.

Since we bought our first house in London last year, John and I have been searching for that perfect piece of original art for our home. I want to invest in a piece of art that I love; not because it matches my sofa. A piece that makes me smile or think or yearn or remember.

We've visited Christie's and art fairs, but nothing has really "spoken" to us - yet. Art is so personal. It's one of the first things I notice when I walk into a hotel room or a friend's house. Is it a landscape? Abstract? Bright? Calm? Avant-garde? Have they chosen a typography print? A Star Wars poster? A framed quote? Is it modern? What media? Oil? Screenprint? Watercolor? I'm fascinated by the decision to choose a particular piece as much as I am about the artwork itself.

Here are my favorites so far from FineArtSeen, and I'm telling you why:

Birds XXXIV, along with XLII (above), are two beautiful watercolors by artist Maria Iciak. I love the calm, barely perceptible figures of the birds swooping and think that these two paintings would make excellent focal points for the master bedroom or living room.

The bright colors and textures of Circus 1 by German artist Daniela Schweinsberg are really exciting and fun. I love the oversized statement that Daniela's paintings make and am considering this one for our dining room.

I tend to gravitate towards blues, greys and greens when I think of art for our home. I think it's because we have so many bright white and barely-there-blue walls, and these cool-toned colors offer a lovely contrast, without being too jarring. This acrylic painting by Lorraine Tuck entitled, And some days were perfect (love that name!), is no exception to my blue/grey/green tendencies.

And how unique is this vibrant-hued, oblong acrylic painting by Valerie Erichsen Thomson? It's called Lightfall and I can think of at least a dozen different places for it in our house. Its narrowness lends itself perfectly to unexpected spots in our hallways, stairwells, and landings.

Finally, Subtle Reflections by Omar Obaid is modern and powerful - it reminds of rain-streaked glass as viewed from within in the Pacific Northwest (where I'm from) or even a window in London!

All of the pieces I've featured above are surprisingly affordable for being original artwork (trust me, I've been to art fairs billed to be "affordable" when they are anything but!) and I can't wait to pick something out with John. Click on the link in each title to find out more about pricing and the artists themselves - I love reading about their inspirations and processes!

What do you think? Would you hang any of these pieces in your home, or are you more of a photography fan, or a bit of both?

This post was sponsored by FineArtSeen, an online gallery that features beautiful, original artwork by artists from around the world. All opinions are my own. Photographs © FineArtSeen Ltd

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Workshop Coffee, Fitzrovia

A few weekends ago, we went to babysit our sweet little niece in Finsbury Park, but I wanted to grab breakfast in town beforehand. It's rare that John and I stumble anywhere farther than a 5-minute walk from our front door on the weekends, but for some reason, we were feeling particularly motivated (especially we knew that caffeine would be helpful in entertaining a 2-year-old for a whole afternoon) so I browsed citizenMag for ideas of where to go. I love the short, at-a-glance reviews in citizenMag, and was happy to read that one of my favorite coffee shops, Workshop Coffee, had a new(ish) outpost in Fitzrovia.

Unlike its larger, sister café in Clerkenwell, Workshop's Fitzrovia location is more akin to its Holborn sibling: an coffeebar serving its usual delicious range of roasted beans accompanied by a wonderfully curated selection of pastries and granola. Tucked away from the frantic pace of nearby Oxford Street (we managed to pop into Topshop afterward for a last-minute present for my sister-in-law), this branch of Workshop is a welcome pause from the din of modern life.

There's a small, but perfectly formed seating area in the back where you can take a copy of your favorite paper (NYTimes for me) or magazine (Kinfolk would probably fit best in the surroundings) to peruse alongside a flat white.

The decor is simple but beautiful. Since we bought our house last year, I tend to take note of even the smallest details (for example, I wanted to walk off with one of the gorgeous gold and marble tables above, but a) it was heavy and b) um, that would be stealing) and these days, I tend to spend a little too long in restaurant bathrooms taking pictures of tiles and brass sconces. Welcome to adulthood, people.

But I digress.

We went a little crazy over the pastries, especially the kouign amann (which I'd never tried before, but tasted like a syrupy, sweet croissant) and the jam donut. John dug into a delicious pot of granola and yogurt (he's the healthier one).

We sipped our soy flat whites, read the news (on our phones) and by the time we greeted our niece at the door, my caffeine and sugar levels had prepared me for a rigorous game of "Pirate Ship" (which consisted of sliding her off the ottoman in the living room into a "shark-infested" ocean of pillows and a shark backpack, much to her squealing delight and to cries of, "Again! Again!").

Although this smaller outpost of Workshop in Fitzrovia didn't serve my favorite full Workshop brunch menu (you've got to try their French toast in Clerkenwell), the quality was still there and the service just as friendly.

Have you been to Workshop Coffee? What did you think? If you don't live in London, then this is definitely one to add to the list for your next visit! It would make a great break from sightseeing and shopping ...

We were generously hosted at Workshop Coffee in Fitzrovia by citizenMag - thank you! All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Not My Tribe

I'm in my early thirties now, so I'm pretty much an adult.

(I think.)

I may regularly fail at adulting (e.g. procrastinating on my tax return while opting for popcorn and a Real Housewives marathon on the couch instead or - who am I kidding - the new Minions movie, really), but I'm an adult.

One of the many observations and lessons I've learned as an adult is that my time is becoming increasingly precious and, as a result, I'm kind of reluctant (really reluctant) to spend that time with people who ... aren't in my tribe.

When I say "tribe", I don't necessarily mean friends. Or family. Or my partner. They're all in my tribe. That's a given. I chose them, and they chose me (well, except for family - you know what they say about family. Luckily, mine are in my tribe).

What I mean by "tribe" is a collection of people (who I may or may not have met yet) who have the same core values as me. Occasionally, these people have common interests too, and that's great. But at the end of the day, we just click.

I tend to think that it's pretty easy and straightforward to be in my tribe. There's just one rule: don't be a dickhead. Then again, some people may meet me and think that I'm not in their tribe because I'm a dickhead. That's okay too. We'll go our separate ways and that'll be that.

Case in point: Rebecca and I recently attended a workshop where we sat across from a couple of #meangirls (and yes, #meangirls constitutes one word and a hashtag preceding it). They spent the evening loudly bitching about their mutual friends, giving Rebecca an icy glare [pause] fake laugh [pause] when she made a friendly, inclusive joke before one loudly proclaimed that she "could never live in America because she can't stand American accents," to which I replied in my deepest, nasal drawl possible, "EW, mah GAWD." (By the way, of course it's fine to express your dislike of American accents - it's your opinion and, to be honest, ME TOO. Sometimes. I tend to think that my Northwest accent is quite nice!)

See? Not my tribe. I also recently sat down to dinner at a friend's house that was very much akin to the "smug married couples" scene from Bridget Jones' Diary. You know the one. Anyway, it was very much a case of, "And what do you do?" (John wasn't available to be my wingman, unfortunately) before I realized, halfway through being interrupted for the umpteenth time by someone's husband who thought that the sentence I had started really wasn't worthy of completion, that, 'Hey, these people aren't my tribe. I really don't get along with them - but I'll try.'

And that's okay. I'll never have to see them again. I can grin and bear it for the duration of this dinner party or workshop or wedding reception or event.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, we move through our lives in little bubbles, going from point A to point B, every day. We interact with people we have to interact with at work, at the store, at the restaurant - and then we hang out with our tribes after work. On the weekends. In our "spare time".  This is especially true of London. Aside from the odd jerk on the tube who insists on using your head as a rest for his newspaper/book (this actually happened to me), you forget how many jerks there are in the world. And how lucky we are to not have friends like them.

Whenever I meet someone who isn't in my tribe, I recognize this. It reminds me of how gosh-darn-lucky I am to have the friends I do. It makes me grateful for those little moments of interaction with strangers (like the lady who sat to my right at the said workshop above, who was funny and nice, and with whom I'm now Twitter friendz) who are in my tribe. I clock them, I smile in recognition, and I move on - happy in the knowledge that they exist.

Who's in your tribe? What's it like?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Expat Talk: Just One Week

These are Rainier cherries - and they're my favorite. I love their two-toned hue as much as I love the fact that they're cultivated in Washington state (not to be confused with Washington D.C., which is on the East Coast!) where I'm from and that they're named after Mount Rainier - that beautiful, snow-capped peak that greets me at every turn when I'm back home.


I've struggled with this word on/off for a decade or so, ever since I moved to the UK. I've decided (in this instant, as I type this) that it's okay and acceptable to have two homes. So, instead of feeling guilty or dumb or weak for not swearing allegiance to one or the other, I've decided that I have two: one in London and the other in Washington.

"You're going home?" a co-worker asked, before I switched my out-of-office on two weeks ago. "For just one week?"

"Just one week," I replied. Even I heard the doubt in my voice: would one week be enough, after having not been back for over a year and a half? Surely, it should have been two? I felt a twinge of remorse and guilt at having indulged in two vacations already this year.

The anxiety crept in: my visit would be emotional. I'd be a wreck. I wouldn't want to leave. I'd fall into a deep, familiar depression as soon as I landed in London.

But guess what?

None of those things happened. Of course, I cried a little when I said goodbye to my family at airport security. I confessed on Snapchat that waiting to leave felt like "waiting for the executioner" (dramatic, much?). I cleaned up my mascara-streaked eyes in the airport bathroom.

But it turned out that one week was just enough. One week allowed me to connect with my parents and my brother in a way I hadn't done for a long while. I cherished their company: I listened to my mom when she talked; I felt joy as I ran next to my dad at the gym; I laughed really, really hard with my brother in the conspiratorial way that only siblings can.

I saw that they were getting on just fine without me being there - and it made me endlessly happy.

And then I cleaned out my room. I took a journal back with me to England - one I had shared with my best friend in high school - but other than that, I put clothes in bags and items in boxes for Goodwill. It was alarming that there was no sign of my adult self in those bags and boxes - as if I continued to return as a ghost, occasionally haunting my room with my presence while my past self lived on in its scrapbooks and photo albums and childish key rings and framed high school awards.

Or maybe it was the other way around.

"You've done a lot in just one week!" my mom exclaimed next to me on our way to the airport. "We've managed to fit in a trip to Snoqualmie, you've shopped for everything you wanted to, eaten everything you've wanted to ..."

And I agreed. Just one week was enough to pull me out of my reverie of living in the past. Just one week allowed me to truly appreciate every moment with my family. Just one week encouraged me to look toward the future, to their visit (hopefully!) to England again this Christmas.

I did not return to London with those pangs of gut-wrenching homesickness I used to feel after longer visits - a sickness that used to hit me like a sailor being knocked side-to-side on a rocking boat. Instead, I felt even-keeled and calm.

I longed for the peace and friendliness of the Pacific Northwest, for my mother's familiar footsteps on the floorboards above my head, for the stairs whose height I'd memorized by feel. But, this time, the longing was of a gentle, nostalgic sort - not hysterical.

And I feel at peace with that.
© angloyankophile

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