Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Interior Inspiration: 5 Buys To Prettify Your Home For Under £25

We're knee deep in bathroom renovations at the moment and I could not be more excited for these transformations. In fact, I turned to John today and said, "I'm SO glad it's Sunday, because it means the builders will be back tomorrow and they can get on with the rest of the tiling!" He smiled, but also looked at me like I'd grown two heads. I feel like all I have room for in my brain right now is the name of our bathroom fans (the Airflow Icon15, if you're interested) and the delivery date of my Fired Earth tiles (St. Ives Frost for the floor and Boho Soho for the walls, FYI).

Still, it hasn't stopped me from picking up a few bits and pieces to prettify the rest of our home in the run-up to the builders' arrival last week, so I thought I'd do a little round-up on the blog, since these purchases were all under £25!

First, I found this amazing bracelet bar at Target when I went home to the US two weeks ago. The gold hardware and linen bar give it a luxe feel, and it works beautifully well on top of my dresser.

And before you go complaining "but there's no Target here!", I found a similar one for you for £6.97 here. You're welcome.

I'd also been scoping out eBay for some pretty, vintage ice cream bowls and struck gold when I found these rose-colored Depression-era glass bowls on the eBay US site:

You can find very similar ones here on the eBay UK site (I just liked these because they have a sweet little handle on the side) for less than £15. I filled them with vanilla ice cream topped with Washington state strawberries, bought at the local fruit stand near my parents' house. They look beautiful - imagine serving your guests ice cream in these bowls!

I'm always combing Etsy for great wall art. I recently discovered this artist, Erisha of AThingCreated, who happens to live in Seattle, and instantly fell in love with her fashion and travel-inspired watercolors. I bought two tiny 5 x 7 prints and framed them in these brushed gold frames that I found at Target (again - for $11.99!) but sadly, one of the frames didn't survive the journey in my suitcase, so I'll need to get it repaired at my local frame shop. I'm planning to buy another print for our first floor bathroom, and I've got a larger print of hers to frame as well for our gallery wall (which is still not quite there yet). These print start at only £13.82!

I stopped into West Elm a few weeks ago to pick up a gift card for my brother-in-law and his partner, who moved to Walthamstow recently with my adorable little niece and nephew. While staff scrambled to find an envelope for the gift card, I browsed the clearance section (no shame in my game) and found this beautiful knit cushion cover for just £19.99. It looks great with our Secret Linen Store linen and White Company XXL decorative pillows.

Speaking of The White Company, between the builders' arrival and the heat wave we'd experienced a few weeks back, our house seemed to develop a ... summer stinky smell. I don't know how else to describe it. Musty, stale, and unpleasant, when throwing open the windows didn't seem to help, I marched over to The White Company during my lunch hour and splurged on a three-wick candle and this diffuser. At £27, it's a little over £25, but worth it for the lovely scent that wafts over when I'm typing up a blog post in front of Netflix.

So. What do you think of my recent purchases? Have you made any great (bargain) home-buys lately? Tell me!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Recipe: Rose-Infused Lemonade Iced Tea

One thing I miss the most about living in the US is the abundance and variety of iced teas - both in stores and in restaurants. It's the ultimate, thirst-quenching summer drink. Fortnum & Mason recently published three of their tastiest "teatail" recipes - cocktails made with their world-famous tea: the fragrant Rose Negroni, the refreshing Earl Grey Aperol, and the zingy Jasmine Sour.

Though I've been alcohol-free for almost a year now, this didn't stop me from whipping up my own, non-alcoholic "teatail". Inspired by Fortnum & Mason's Rose Negroni, I made a batch of rose lemonade iced tea yesterday, using Fortnum's Rose Pouchong tea. The delicate notes of rose add just an extra little oomph to this popular summer drink - making it the ideal aperitif to serve at summer garden parties.

I estimated the measurements for most of my ingredients (isn't that what summer's all about? Being a bit slapdash and carefree? No? Just me, then), but to make this recipe, you'll need (give or take):

- 1 lemon and 1 cup of granulated sugar (for the sugar rim)

- 5 - 6 teaspoons of Fortnum & Mason's Rose Pouchong loose leaf tea

- lemonade (either from concentrate, homemade, or store-bought - I was in a rush, so I cheated and used store-bought!)

- ice cubes (as many as you'd like, though if your tea is especially strong, you might want more to dilute the drink as they melt)

Zest your lemon, combining the zest with the sugar in a bowl. Run a wedge of lemon along the rim of your glass and dip it in the zest and sugar mixture, before setting it to one side (feel free to skip this step if you're not a fan of sugar-rimmed glasses!). Meanwhile, make your tea! Heap the teaspoons into your pitcher and fill it halfway with hot water (just-boiled) water. Let it steep for 3-4 minutes before filling the rest with cold water, leaving it to sit at room temperature and popping it into the fridge for half an hour or so. When it's ready, pour the tea into another pitcher, straining the tea leaves with a sieve. Drop 2-3 large ice cubes (or as many as you'd like) into your glasses and fill the glasses two-thirds of the way with the tea, and top it up with a lemonade of your choice (I bought sparkling lemonade, which was delicious!). Stir well. Serve with a slice of lemon, and a rose petal, if you so desire!

What do you think of this "teatail"-inspired summery drink? I'm looking forward to making it for guests this summer!

Picnic hamper, tea towel, glasses, straws, and Rose Pouchong tea provided courtesy of Fortnum & Mason. All opinions are my own. Shop Fortnum & Mason's delicious blend of teas here.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Lately, I've Been Wearing ...

Whenever I go home to the States, I get a little ... shopping crazy. Partly because the prices can be so good (I always, always buy my Nike/Adidas sneakers there) but also because ... well, my parents still give me spending money when I go home!

I know, I know - I'm way too old for that. But my mom hands me bills before we go shopping like it's Monopoly money and then my dad asks me if I have enough and I'm like, "IT'S NOT EVEN MY MONEY!" and, yeah. It's pretty embarrassing, but extremely endearing, and I'm very lucky!

Another reason why I love browsing the racks in the US is because of all the different stores and brands that aren't available here in the UK. Before I went, I had some items shipped to my parents' house from Oak + Fort - a Vancouver-based brand specialising in accessories and apparel with a distinctly minimal/normcore aesthetic (think COS).

Since I've been back in London, I've been wearing some of my new purchases, namely:

This eye-catching orange top from Madewell (J. Crew's sister brand, which now ships to the UK!), which caught my eye when I visited their University Village store in Seattle with my brother last week. I loved the knot detail in the back and the flattering cut so much, I bought it in a size large, because it was the only size left! I've been pairing it with a pair of extra-wide-leg striped culottes from J. Crew, which I scored on the clearance rack, and which my brother recoiled in horror at as I lifted them from the rail to show him. Whatevs, I'm a fan (please excuse the butt-wrinkles). Oh! And the bright blue beaded tassel earrings in the first photo are from J. Crew too. They're fun.

 This leather city tote from the Coach outlet store (it was $100!) in barely-there grey. It's perfect for summer (if I don't inevitably drip ketchup and mustard all over it at Shake Shack) and holds all the junk I cart with me back and forth to work everyday. I also invested in a new pair of Adidas Stan Smith in the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, which go with practically everything and are super comfy for traipsing around London in.

This bracelet stack - again, from J. Crew and Madewell - along with my Welly Merck watch, which I've blogged about before and which you can get a 20% discount on if you use my code "ANGLOYANK20". You're welcome.

This buttery soft leather Oak + Fort crossbody, which my brother noted, "looks like a sideways CD case". Thanks, yet again, little bro. On the rare occasion I don't have to carry a bazillion things with me (eye drops, hayfever pills, tissues, etc.), I love to go hands free. I've also been loving this knitted tank which I found at, of all places, Old Navy, for a bargain price of something like $17.

Still, despite all the alluring retail opportunities, I have to think hard about whether something I buy in the States will actually translate to the style I typically end up wearing in London. More often than not, I return with a handful of dresses and tops that get shoved to the back of my closet and end up going to the charity or consignment store. I was a little more discerning with my purchases this time, so I think they'll have lasting power!

By the way, if you're ever interested in shopping any of the items in my Instagram feed or on my blog, I believe you can do so directly from the widget at the bottom of this page, or any post in my Instagram feed with the LIKEtoKNOW.it icon in the bottom right corner ... from Instagram, you can simply screenshot or "like" the photo to shop the exact items I've tagged in the LIKEtoKNOW.it app! (I'm a total fashion stalker, so I definitely buy things that I like on other people via this app.)

Let me know what you think about my new purchases down below and feel free to add your two cents about the CD case/bag ... (insert laughing emoji here).

Thursday, June 22, 2017

1022 South J

If you're ever in Seattle, drive about half an hour south and you'll find yourself in the city of Tacoma, a port city situated on the Puget Sound.

People flock to Tacoma for all sorts of reasons: art (the Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Art Museum are known for their collections of both international and Pacific Northwest artists' works, including Dale Chihuly's), culture (the nearby Pantages and Rialto theaters host concerts and dance performances), delicious waterfront dining, antique shops, indie boutiques, and - of course - a Northwest favorite, coffee. And, if you want, you can take a ferry to the beautiful Vashon Island - a tranquil, atmospheric island lined with evergreens, light houses, strawberry farms, and fantastic views of Mount Rainier. It's one of my favorite places in Washington state.

A lot has changed in Tacoma since I left fifteen years ago: new restaurants have opened, yoga studios have taken up residence in former unused buildings, and more people than ever are moving into the charming Craftsman-style houses. If I had to move back? I'd head to Tacoma.

1022 South J is one of the places I'd hang out at a lot if I moved to Tacoma. Helmed by talented chef Riley Morgan, who brings his Southern roots to the menu (think big bowls of grits, mac 'n cheese, oyster-stuffed po'boy sandwiches, and fried chicken with slaw and aioli), this cocktail bar and restaurant had the same vibe as the pubs in our old neighborhood of Dalston (and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd miss the pubs the most if I ever moved back to the States!).

We visited the bar on a Thursday, where the seats filled quickly - even at 6 pm. Those who couldn't get a table perched at the bar and it was clear that it's the place to go to for an after-work drink and catch-up with friends.

We began our dinner with aperitifs and a generously-portioned charcuterie board, followed by mains of grits and po'boys.

My blackened-shrimp po'boy was fantastic, with meaty shrimp spilling onto my plate and the crispy lettuce giving it a deliciously fresh crunch, but it was my brother's bowl of cheesey grits with prawns and vegetables that I kept reaching over to dip my fork into: it nearly tasted like a risotto! Rich, creamy, and hearty, its savoury flavors made my tastebuds sing.

I loved visiting this little bar and restaurant for an evening out with my family, and it was great to meet Riley too, who's been friends with my brother for years.

So, if you ever find yourself in Tacoma (or if you live in the area and haven't been in yet) stop by 1022 South J for some delicious comfort food with a cool, relaxed atmosphere.

Oh, and the name? It's a little more than a nod to the restaurant's location: 1022 South J Street, Tacoma, WA 98405. Clever, right?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What to See in Seattle: Chihuly Garden and Glass

Last week, while I was back in the US, my brother and I took the commuter train from our parents' house in Sumner up to Seattle so I could spend the day doing all kinds of touristy things (but mostly shopping and eating). One place I'd been dying to visit (after seeing photos on Instagram, naturally) was Chihuly Garden and Glass - Dale Chihuly's long-term exhibition located at the base of the Space Needle, which opened in 2012.

I'd grown up seeing the American glass sculptor's work around town (he even came to my elementary school for a demonstration and painted all our shoes!) but didn't take too much notice of it. I ran into his work again recently in London (his Rotunda Chandelier sits in the V&A) and it immediately reminded me of home.

This particular exhibition features eight galleries of his work, with the Glasshouse - a 40-foot tall glass and steel structure inspired by garden conservatories around the world, but especially Kew Gardens here in London - taking centerstage. In the garden, Chihuly's sculptures are interspersed within a magnificent display of trees, plants, and flowers.

Born in Tacoma, Washington, Chihuly is known for his beautiful, colorful and often larger-than-life hand-blown glass sculptures. I love his work because it is unmistakeable: the particular shapes, colors, and patterns he creates are undeniably his, and the incredible scale of some of his sculptures make me pause in wonder. 

The galleries also feature items from Chihuly's personal collection, like these stunning Pendleton trade blankets, textiles that were directly influenced by traditional Native American Navajo design:

I don't want to spoil it by sharing too many photos (as it would ruin the surprise and enjoyment of visiting Chihuly Garden and Glass in person), but there's a magnificent gallery featuring a glass ceiling display which makes you feel as though you're underwater, looking up. It's simply amazing:

Gallery staff even encourage you to lie on the floor if you wish (but beware of being trampled by over-enthusiastic tourists!) and I would have loved to do that for hours!

Chihuly Garden and Glass is so very special - one of the most magical exhibitions I've seen in a long while. I loved that the garden had spaces for seating (and a café), so we could sit and truly take it all in.

But most of all, I loved sharing the memory of my visit with my little brother (who treated me to tickets!), who's not so little anymore. It was fun discussing our favorite pieces and sharing our reactions to particularly stand-out installations.

He also has a great eye for Instagram, as evidenced by this shot:

Tip: if you're planning to visit Chihuly Garden and Glass, go early! Doors open at 8:30, and tickets are discounted by $10 if you visit before 10:00 a.m. We raced up to Seattle (much to my brother's chagrin, since he'd been looking forward to sleeping in that morning) first thing, but it was worth it to be able to enjoy the Glasshouse and the other galleries in peace. The gallery also hosts free, short (about 3-minutes in length) talks by gallery staff as well as glass-blowing demonstrations, so it's worth checking ahead of time if these are being offered on the day of your visit.

Have you ever been to Seattle? What did you think? I grew up just south of the city and have always loved it!

Chihuly Garden and Glass is located at 305 Harrison Street, Seattle, Washington, 98109. Tickets can be (easily!) purchased at the machines by the door, or in-person at the ticket counter in the exhibition.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

What's In Your Clutch?

You know how it goes: you're at a wedding and your friend hands you her clutch and says, "Can you hold that for a sec? Thanks." And you're left thinking, what's in this thing? It feels like a brick!

But, I get it. While I'm excellent at packing light for weekends away or even last-minute trips to Hong Kong, I'm pretty terrible at fitting in all the "essentials" in a clutch. I'd love to be one of those women who can get away with using a super cute, tiny little box clutch, but I'm much better off with something a bit more substantial.

Radley has some beautiful and sophisticated leather clutches this season, and I'm especially fan of the Goose Green clutch - a leather wristlet with a removable wallet at the front in case you just want to grab and go (which is what I like to do in the evenings if John and I are heading out to dinner somewhere local).

How handy is that? I also think it's one of the more elegant accessories I own, which is useful for making an outfit look pulled-together and smart.

As for what I've managed to cram in it?

Quite a bit, actually: my phone, keys, blush, powder, brush, perfume, spare bobby pins (or "kirby grips", as they call them here in the UK - so funny!), lipstick, cards, cash (in the front wallet) and I bet I could slide in a few tissues and ibuprofen as well (nothing worse than being stranded with a headache, IMO).

I like that the wristlet strap is totally optional so, there's no need to dangle a brick from your wrist if it's truly heavy - it can be tucked under the arm or just, you know, held in your hands.

I have it in black, but I love it in the Ash Grey color as well. I'm also a fan of this Half Moon clutch, which would look equally great with a maxi dress at a wedding as it would paired with distressed denim at a BBQ (I like my accessories to do double-duty, as you can tell).

Have you got an arsenal of clutches at home that you take out for special occasions? I know I'll be using this one a lot on the weekends, as we tend to stay close to home and I hate bringing a huge bag with me if we're just meeting friends at the pub or a nearby restaurant.

Huge thanks to Radley for sending me this beautiful clutch. Shop the collection here. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Dining Al Fresco: My New Favorite Activity

On Saturday morning, I found myself on my hands and knees at the Stratford location of T.K. Maxx (and yes, for all my American readers, this is the UK version of T.J. Maxx), fishing for a bashed up, non-descript box at the back of the lowest shelf. At last, I succeeded in maneuvering it to the front and, triumphant, opened the top to check its contents. Bingo: a tall, ornate carafe, the color of the ocean. Made of acrylic and (almost) indestructible if dropped - perfect for outdoor dining. I added it to my already-full basket, laden with a tasselled outdoor throw, matching plastic glasses (dead ringers for the real thing), and a light grey Le Creuset casserole dish (ideal for oven-to-table masterpieces).

That night, we had my father-in-law over for dinner, and I made the easiest meal: BBC Good Food's harissa chicken traybake; which consists of throwing a bunch of ingredients in a ovenproof dish (hence, the new Le Creuset dish - let's not talk about what happened to the one we used to have, as it nearly always starts an argument) and forgetting about it for about an hour or so. I'd highly recommend it.

We've been eating dinner outside a lot lately, mostly because the weather's been so warm and mild, but also because our garden is really beginning to grow. The fennel has formed its own little forest; the alliums (which are now just past their time) standing proudly upright; and the foxgloves springing up faster than I can say, "green thumb". Thankfully, we don't have to do much to it except trim it back, but John's been trimming the grass religiously - even resorting to using scissors for precise edges! For our table's centerpiece, I cut a few sprigs of lavender from the lavender bush in our front garden - simple, lovely, and fragrant.

As I've mentioned on the blog before, I love the challenge of finding treasures at T.K. Maxx - it's part of the fun. I make one, two, three, four rounds of the aisles - reaching back behind shelves to search for hidden gems and meticulously combing the clearance sections for ultra-reduced goodies.

Just as I found the beautiful carafe by accident, I walked past this blanket twice without noticing it, before its blue tassels caught my eye. It reminded me of something I'd find at Anthropologie or West Elm, but for a fraction of the price at £19.99.

The water glasses were a bargain £1.99 each (£1.99!) and they look so pretty on the table. We tend to go for neutrals in our home: lots of white, blue, cream, and grey. Although there were a lot of exciting and fun colors and patterns (I was really tempted by a bright, tropical outdoor cushion), I managed to resist and find items in keeping with our (boring but classic) aesthetic, though I think the throw is pretty fun!

I can't wait to have friends over for outdoor dinner parties this summer. Are you a fan of dining al fresco? We tend to throw open the French doors as soon as we get home lately!

Blanket, carafe, glasses, and casserole dish provided courtesy of T.K. Maxx. All opinions are my own.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Where To Stay in St Ives: Trevose Harbour House

We arrived in St. Ives on a slow crawler of a local train from St. Erth - a pretty, 15-minute ride taking us along the southwest coast of Cornwall, a sea of blue shimmering below. At Trevose Harbour House, we were greeted warmly by Jess, and I marvelled at how naturally bronzed one could be in May in England - and vowed to get that Cornwall glow myself, even if aided by St Tropez Gradual Tan.

After sipping tumblers of ice cold water infused with strawberries (greatly appreciated after a long and sweaty train ride down from London, during part of which we stood), we eagerly headed up to our room, the Harbour View Petite Superior, Room 4.

With beautiful, sweeping views of the rooftops and St Ives harbour beyond, the room was small but perfectly formed. I fell in love with every little detail: the ceramic patterned kettle; the single yellow tulip in a bud vase; the mid-century modern dresser re-envisioned as a bathroom vanity unit; the homemade ginger cookies that were refreshed every evening.

The next morning, we met the owners, Angela and Olivier, at breakfast. Friendly and charming, they flitted between tables enquiring about guests' plans for the day, offering to help with walking routes and restaurant reservations.

And although breakfast is the only meal served at Trevose Harbour House (besides a champagne afternoon tea hamper that can be prepared on request for nibbling on the beach), it's serious stuff: the milk comes from local Trewithen Farm (although Lactofree and soy were also available), the granola (John's favorite!) is homemade, and the cooked breakfasts range from a choice of hot 'croque croissant' (St Endellion Brie, tomato and dry cured bacon) to avocado toast with fresh leaves, coriander, asparagus, poached egg and tomato salsa (it's divine).

One morning during our stay, we took advantage of the briefly good weather (the afternoon saw torrential downpours that sent everyone running for cover under shop awnings) and enjoyed our breakfast (with the newspaper, nonetheless) al fresco.

I couldn't resist trying the English breakfast with poached eggs, potato rosti, sausage, dry cured bacon, beans, and the most delicious, flavourful mix of mushrooms I'd ever had in a cooked breakfast. I mentioned this to Olivier, who explained that the traditional use of closed-cup mushrooms in English breakfasts seemed "boring", so he threw in other varieties, like shitake.

And although I had toast with delicious marmalade and jam to enjoy in front of me, I couldn't resist helping myself to a generous dollop of fresh yoghurt topped with Olivier's addictive granola and fresh berries.

After a tough hike along the South West Coastal Path, we returned to Trevose Harbour House with stones in our shoes and a serious craving for a cup of tea. Relieved of the prickly objects and with a cup of English breakfast in hand, I sunned myself on the sun-trap roof terrace, while John went shopping for a wetsuit to go swimming in the sea. On our bed was a personal invitation to an exhibition launch at a local art gallery that evening - so lovely! Unfortunately for us, the walk had rendered us sleepy and useless, so we skipped the launch in favor of taking a long nap before dinner time (though we managed to fit in a quick round of frisbee at Porthminster beach as well).

Trevose Harbour House was a lovely base for us to explore St. Ives from. Its proximity to the centre of town, as well as the train station and Porthminster beach (all within a 5 minute walk or less), meant that we never rushed - instead, adopting a leisurely, slow pace befitting of people who were, you know, on vacation.

And of course, the beautiful blue and white interior decor made every aspect of our stay Instagram-worthy:

It was magical to climb into bed with the windows open (which was necessary as our room was unusually hot and would become stuffy throughout the day, though a fan solved this), watching the sun set late into the evening and falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves.
© angloyankophile

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