shop hopping

I Feel SmugDrink, Shop & Do Hoxton Monster Supplies Labour and Wait

Soon after moving here I attended a London Bloggers picnic and one of the gals that I met was Andrea of Lotus Events. She and her husband, originally from Vancouver, have been busy working on their first UK Got Craft? event happening this weekend. I'm really excited to check it out and support their work and that of other creatives. I just love me a good craft fair!

One of the things that I love about Andrea is that she seems to know about every little shop, cafe, and neighborhood in London - she really gets out there! So, when she asked me to do the photography for her Shop Tour guest posts on Poppytalk (great blog btw) I couldn't resist. I've gotten to know some great little spots since working with Andrea and I can't wait to see what else she comes up with.

The photos above are of some of the shops we've done so far. We have more on the way but I figured that these snippets were worth finally sharing!

I Feel Smug Hoxton Street Monster Supplies (they recently launched their online shop!) Drink, Shop & Do Labour and Wait Handmade Interiors

Oh and it's time to announce the winner of the DIY Couture How to make a cloak book from last week's post! Drumrroolllll pleasseee.......Penny Patten, congrats to you! I'll be in touch via email ;) Thanks to everyone who commented, hopefully you got a little inspiration for a fun autumn fashion DIY!

{about town} pomp and circumstance at buckingham palace

changing of the guardchanging of the guard changing of the guard changing of the guard changing of the guard changing of the guard changing of the guard

Call it blasphemy but I think the whole thing is silly. I get the tradition and the history but the entire pomp and circumstance of the Changing Of The Guard seems completely unnecessary these days. Well, actually it's completely necessary for attracting tourist like us who pour billions of pounds into the English economy every year.

While I did enjoy seeing the ceremony and thinking back to when the Queen actually needed to be guarded in such a manor, I couldn't help but think that I was watching a Civil War re-enactment or something like that. I mean, why not just hire actors to do all of this instead of using actual trained soldiers who could probably be more useful somewhere else? We all know that it's a dog and pony show for tourist any way - the band played a theme song from James Bond for crying out loud!

My mom said that the Queen should come out on the balcony and wave because "its the least she could do" (I love my mom). Her comment proved what an attraction the entire royal family has become, a living museum basically. I know that I don't know all of the facts and that there are some English Royalist (royal supporters) who would have my head after reading this but hey, it's just me as an outsider looking in.

{about town} drinking our way through scotland

whisky tasting @ cadenhead'swhisky tasting @ cadenhead's whisky tasting @ cadenhead's whisky tasting @ cadenhead's whisky tasting @ cadenhead's whisky tasting @ cadenhead's

I wanted to share a bit more on this weekend's whiskey tasting not because I love the drink (still acquiring the taste-buds for it) but because the shop is so rad.

I love the hand scripted signs , labels, and wood crates stacked as shelves that add to the sense of originality and pride - Cadenhead's is, after all, Scotland's oldest independent whiskey bottler.  As for the tasting,  I didn't know anything about whiskeys going into it but I quickly learned about different varieties, proofs, distilling processes, and even how to add water to "open" up the flavor. To my surprise I did really like one bottle from Springbank - the oldest independent family owned and operated distillery in Scotland. Based on the history lesson we received, the fact that Springbank is still completely independent and family run is a pretty big deal where craft, quality, and taste are concerned. Apparently the big guys have taken over and devastated many local Scottish whiskey industries and as a result, there's a lot of crap whiskeys out there...probably what I've tried and hated in the past. It was awesome to sneak away for an afternoon to learn about (and taste) a part of Scotland's cultural heritage. I'll definitely be saying my "cheers!" with a new found appreciation for the spirit.

{about town} london gets colorful with carnival

notting hill carnivalnotting hill carnival notting hill carnival notting hill carnivalnotting hill carnival notting hill carnival notting hill carnival notting hill carnival notting hill carnival notting hill carnival notting hill carnival

The music, colors, energy, and food of yesterday's Notting Hill Carnival were incredible.

We arrived before noon and luckily got in a few hours of parade watching and relative calm before the crowds hit. And by crowds I mean nearly every Londoner between the ages of 16 and 30 coming to drink and dance the rest of the evening. I'm all for drinking and dancing but this was the kind of thing that you had to be mentally prepared for - we definitely were not. There were DJ stages set up on streets surrounding the parade route and by the time we were ready to leave, those areas were so packed that it took us an hour and a half to find a way out of the carnival zone! There were moments where I got a little freaked "crap, we're the only sober people here!" while everyone around us carried forties or home-made cocktails in large water bottles. Drunkenness in England is a whole other story...

Craziness aside, it was great to get a taste of Carnival culture without traveling too far from home. Brazil is next ... I will definitely prepare for that :)

see more photos here

brighton + {brilliant beats} the go! team

play me...The Go! Team - Ladyflash[youtube] brighton brighton brighton brighton IMG_6043 brighton brighton brighton IMG_6085 brighton

A little music with some photos ain't bad, eh? Today's brilliant beat is from one of my favorite bands, The Go! Team, who just happen to be from Brighton. I love their song,'s the perfect soundtrack to a great day.

Brighton was just that, a great albeit windy day. Ten rounds of vintage penny arcade games for a pound, fresh hot donuts on the pier, the most amazing lunch at Plateau, stumbling upon the Royal Pavilion, and enjoying the ocean air. The only bummer was discovering the stores and goodies on North Road too late - both the farmers market and flea market had just wrapped up. Oh well, makes for a perfect excuse to go back!

On a side note, hen and stag parties (aka. bachelorette/bachelor parties) seem to be the thing in Brighton. Come 6pm we felt like we were in Vegas soberly watching throngs of party people gearing up for a big night out. I'm not gonna lie, I was happy to get on the train to go back to London for the evening. It was getting crazy.

Want to see more photos? Click here.

{about town} eyes on london

Now that I'm back in London after being away for the last two weeks, I thought I'd finally share these photos from our spin on the London Eye.

I don't remember why but at some point a few weeks ago I decided to plan a surprise date night for Joe. I wanted to do something that we'd probably make excuses not to do due to crowds of tourists (we live here now so we don't count!) or the weather. So, the London Eye it was.

Our tickets were for a thirty minute ride, or one full rotation, but once we were up there it felt more like five minutes! London is an impressive city from the ground up but it was even more beautiful to see the town from a birds-eye view along the Thames. It was especially fun now that we're familiar with different areas and buildings and could spot things and places as we went up, down, and looked all around.

Post-spin, we walked to The Archduke for dinner, drinks, and live jazz. The restaurant is set underneath the railway arches of the Waterloo station and the integration is absolutely beautiful. Needless to say, Joe loved his surprise!

{out and about} piccadilly circus

Of all of the things to see and do in London, Piccadilly Circus was almost non-existent in my book. Not only because we pass through it when going to Soho anyway but mainly because in my mind once you've seen one Times Square, you've seen them all.

I found myself at the famous landmark one night after a bus diversion forced me to get off there. I was happy to have my camera with me because however tacky and unnecessary massive digital ads may be, at that point in the evening just as the sky was about to go completely dark, the entire area felt a bit magical. I guess it's not so bad after all.

P.S. Thanks for all of the love on yesterday's post. Looks like I need to start doing more DIY-ing around here! That or bring Earl around more often.

weekend, we

Margate train stationIMG_4567 Margate

Hello! How was your weekend?

We decided last minute on Friday that we should take advantage of our proximity to England's coastal towns and get away for the weekend. We picked Margate for no real reason other than having casually heard about it and then reading this article to seal the deal. I'm glad that we were feeling spontaneous because it ended up being a really fun and  easy going trip.

Just an hour and a half from London via a high speed rail, Margate is noticeably making strides to reclaim it's glory days of being England's "Original Seaside." The revitalized Old Town is sprinkled with charming vintage shops, boutiques and cafes, the Harbour Arm boasts art galleries and dining options, and there's the beautiful new and modern Turner Contemporary. It was interesting to have our hotel be a ten minute walk from the all of the action because we actually got to see what the town is trying to revitalize itself from....let's just say that most of it still looks like a run down, semi-impoverished, and forgotten 19th century seaside destination. It's a shame because a lot of the rundown buildings are actually really architecturally beautiful.

Grungy stuff aside, Margate offered the perfect amount of things to do and see for a quick getaway. Saturday was all about shopping in Old Town. We particularly loved the retro shop Helter Skelter (pictured above) and the recently opened vintage store Paraphernalia. There's a handful of other tiny shops too, each with their own personality and attentive owner on hand. On Sunday we hit the boardwalk for some hot doughnuts (YUM!), a walk on the Harbor Arm and a visit to the Turner Contemporary. I'm glad that we saved the museum for Sunday because it was a good excuse to be indoors and away from the bone-chilling winds. However, the BEST excuse to be inside was having afternoon tea at the Mad Hatter's Tea Rooms, where every day is Christmas and the cakes are lovingly made by the Mad Hatter himself.  It was what I always imagined a traditional and quirky English tea room to be and made for the perfect setting to wrap up our first visit to a traditional English seaside town. Let's just hope that next time we can make use of the beach :)

More photos here!

{about town} tate modern + st. paul's

It's 6:30am and I'm off to Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park. I was exhausted last night so Joe offered to take a stab at writing today's post about our day at the Tate and St. Paul's. I love the way he writes but I'm also sharing it at the risk of making my style (and possibly grammar) look really bad!

I can't wait to share my Sunbury finds with you!

This weekend we stayed local, but it was certainly no stay-cation.  London, like Los Angeles, has so much to do that you can't possibly cover it all in a weekend, or week, or year, but at least here there is public transport which makes hitting a few city destinations in a day or two fairly easy.  But still, be ready to be overwhelmed...

First, the Tate Modern.  Housed in a massive former power plant that must have once juiced the entire electrified planet, the Tate Modern is no less than a full-body experience.  It swallowed us in, chewed us up, and spit us out after the half-tour.  We were beat.  After a few hours appreciating the masterworks here, just looking at Miro's "Ladder" paintings made us cringe and think 'ugh..ladder..climbing..let's get out of here'.

We tumbled out of the Tate to the River Thames, Millennium Bridge, and the looming landmark St. Paul's Cathedral, all three massive, imposing, and no less impressive than the museum.  Ironic though...the river has been here for millennia, and the footbridge for just a few years.  The Cathedral has dominated the City of London skyline for a few hundred years, but will soon be eclipsed by the nearby modern glass pyramid to be called "The Shard", an architect's homage to broken glass, erected of mostly glass.  Get it?  It'll be the tallest building in Europe, so you'll see it in the next Bond film or in a renegade base-jumping stunt soon.

The Sunday bells at the cathedral were in full-swing, and afternoon service was about to begin, so no photos inside were allowed.  Look it up.

After a stroll around the hallowed ground, we crossed the street to One New Change, another modern development in the City of London.  A multi-purpose commercial property, One New Change is a beautiful blend of indoor and outdoor space, glossy glass and CorTen patina.  Look for the nail; this new landmark piece of public art is a massive steel spike in the shape of a framing nail which seems driven into the concrete pavement between One New Change and the Cathedral.  There's probably not a real nail in service in either the steel-and-glass modern galleria and the giant stone church, yet this sculpture seems to fit the neighborhood.  It's driven deep, and not going anywhere soon.

All this within sight of the St. Paul's tube station on the Central Line.  Wear yourself out, and let TFL drive you home.

{about town} camden lock

the canal in actionmaking an entrance great collection of boots at Berty and Gerty vintage looking towards the canal the stables welcome you hand-crafted leather accessories vintage inside the stables packed full. the way I like it. an excelent collection of vintage suitcases, stacked up high

I've visited Camden Lock twice now and I must say that going on a weekday is the way to do it if you can swing it. Without the crazy crowds blocking everything in sight you can fully soak in what this hub of markets has to offer: independent designers and shops, antiques, quality street food from around the world, and a unique setting.

While the majority of non-craft stalls are reminiscent of cheapy Venice Beach and Melrose Avenue merchandise, there are some gems to be found if you wind your way through The Stables. I loved seeing a leather accessories maker pounding away at his craft, finding a great little rug made in India, and of course, coming upon the antique underground hall with its selective group of vendors. Prices weren't as marked up as you'd expect for a tourist destination but the downside is that most antique stalls only open on the weekends.

During my last visit I was tempted to dig through racks of vintage clothing but ultimately felt that I didn't have the patience for it like I used to. It was a sad moment of realization but I perked up when I came across a great bin of old photos that kept me entertained for ten minutes.

I ended up taking 15 or so vintage landscape photos home with me along with a bar of natural homemade soap, and a bow tie that I have DIY plans for. Should that project turn out well you'll see a proud and glittery post about it. Should it fail...well, it may get an honorable mention somewhere. Also, I'll be sure to go back to Berty and Gerty for boots come fall (pictured above). They have an incredible selection that is very easy to comb through. Actually, no combing is necessary :)

For more photos click here!

down by the waterway


A few blocks from our flat we have a little slice of Venice, Italy via London's historic Waterways. This past weekend the canal was filled with decorative narrow boats, food and craft vendors, and lots of sunshine.

I was initially hesitant to go due to the intense winds that were (and still are) provoking my allergy attacks but I'm glad that we ventured out. It was fun to see the boats' elaborate and personal exterior details as well as the well-maintained original interiors...I'd never seen such beautiful stove pipes! The best part actually was seeing several elderly boat owners fast asleep inside their tiny spaces, paying no attention to us spectators peering in through their open doors. Oh, life on the canal...