one year, two different worlds

I didn't think that we could top last year but as I look back on 2012 I realize that we're only just getting started. We truly lived in two different worlds so I wanted to collect the most memorable moments, places, things, and thoughts into one post. I don't really use Facebook so I'll think of this as my "timeline" :) Travels will be on Thursday! Here we go....

Enjoying a rare sunny winter day in London. Primrose Hill was Joe's favorite place to fly his kite.primrose hill, london

A soothing cup of coffee and spot in the sun after my first (and thankfully only) mini-seasonal "i need to feel the sun's warmth" breakdown

Street art in our hood, W9. I loved walking past this everyday as a reminder of how much we had made London our home.street art w9

Back on Primrose Hill after the first snowfall, Joe proposed. His kite stayed home but he brought a gorgeous ring instead.engaged

Experiencing my first winter-to-spring transition felt so magical. I'll never forget how this warm day felt and how good that cold beer tasted. Can I just say how badly I miss London's pubs?!? Nothing else comes close.chiswick mall dove pub @ chiswick mall

Watching Feist bring the house down at the beautiful Royal Albert Hall. It was so cool to see her rock out in such a proper and classic venue.royal albert hall

Recapping our first year in Londonsmooch

...and then having to say goodbye shortly after

... and hello to a new landscape. Hello, Malaysia, you beautiful tropical place!palm leaves

Moving into our new apartment. Happy to have a few simple furnishings provided by the landlord.Untitled

Checking out our first wet market and being amazed by all the different varieties of fruit and fried food. I'm still learning what all of them are.chow kit, malaysia

Indulging in all said fruit. They're so nice to have after experiencing the blandness of the ones available in London.penang by Ana Maria Munoz

Receiving love scribbles from my nieces in LA just as I was feeling homesick.from home

Snapping out of my homesick funk and breaking in our building's BBQ for a little Fourth of July celebration of our own.weekend 070712_5

...and then doing it local style with the most amazing satay and peanut sauce ever. weekend we <3 you

Having front row seats to awesome thunder and lightning storms that happen nearly every afternoon. Even if we're outside when they occur, it's so warm out that it doesn't matter. weekend we <3 you

Finding beauty in KL's nooks and crannies.Kuala Lumpur

...and in more obvious and opulent places like the Petronas Twin Towers.weekend 102012_6

and last but not least, the feeling of growth that comes from exploring new territories both physically and mentally. 2013...bring it on.Batu Caves

... and i'm back, kinda

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I meant to write, I really did. But between long days of travel, a new client's rush job, and enjoying bits of London on the side, my poor blog was left behind. With only three full days in town I didn't get up to too much but the little that Joe and I did do together was simply perfect. We were ecstatic to be home again. From feeling the naturally cold air on our faces after stepping off the plane (no AC!) to taking out our Oyster Cards and riding the tube - we relished every moment that indicated we were back in London. I didn't even take my camera out once because I was so happy being back and feeling as if we had never left. Strangely I felt more excited to be "home" in London than I did when I was back in Los Angeles (yes, former Ms. LA can't believe she said that, too). LA, I realized, is the type of home where my family and friends are and where the things I grew up with will always be. But London...sigh...I can't even put into words what it does for me. It's just a bad-ass city. Period.

I was due back in KL today but yesterday's flight via Abu Dhabi was delayed by five hours and would have left me with an eighteen hour layover (yuck!). Joe had a later flight straight to Abu Dhabi to stay for business so by the time he arrived at the airport I was able to change my ticket to join him. Might as well stay with him one extra day in a hotel rather than see what the airline would have figured out for me! So, now I'm in the UAE until Friday morning. I went from the jungle, to a cold island, to the desert - all in a matter of days. I totally tripped out when I looked outside of the airplane's window and saw nothing but sand. And then I freaked out when I realized that I had nothing but sweaters in my luggage! I guess that means that I'll have to go shopping...I wouldn't want to die of a heat stroke or anything. But first, lots and lots of coffee. I feel like I could sleep for days but I'll power through...gotta make the most of this unexpected trip!


one year in london - hurrah!

Yep, you know you've been in England for a while when you start saying "hurrah" instead of "hooray." The word slipped out the other day but it felt appropriate given the fact that this weekend marks my one year anniversary of living in London! I can't believe how quickly it has gone by. Joe marked his in March so now I'm all caught up and ready for another year of who-knows-what. I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking since I've already professed my love to this city in writing. I really do love it. Without further delay, here are some of my favorite moments, places, things, and thoughts from the year....

learning to love bunting almost as much as the British do. they're crazy about it.southbank bunting

watching the wedding of the century at Hyde Park royal wedding

slowing down to lay on the grass, enjoy the sun, and have a treat at Kew Gardenskew gardens

making our first home together home

this being the normal afternoon snack tea @ cake hole

discovering the awesomeness of London's museumsv&a

wearing wellies and getting muddy along a public footpath in Devon devon

indulging in rest and country comfort at Hotel Endsleigh in Devon hotel endsleigh

playing tourist with my mom during her visit. this was the only way we could get a shot of her in front of the gate as police kept foot traffic moving! changing of the guard

being prepared for rain at any time. it's no big deal now. london b&w

getting caught in the wind with these guys on Brighton Pier brighton

pointing to our neighborhood and places we've been to from the London Eye. we felt like such locals. london eye

looking up and seeing colorful and interesting details like this in covent garden

learning the best bus routes to/from our favorite destinations color inside the double decker bus

windy days that turn joe into a little kid with his favorite toy kite

wanting to learn how to samba after Notting Hill's Carnivalcarnival

finding random places to chill on a nice day like this parking lot lounge/street food market in Shoreditchred market

hiring Barclay Bikes and riding around Hyde Parkbarclay bikes

sunset walks along the canal in Little Venice weekend

experienceing quintessential London moments and sightings weekend

exploring the unexpected in Hampstead Heath Hampstead Heath

seeing the first signs of fallfall

hopping on a high-speed train for a quick day trip to Windsor windsor castle 'the long walk'

weekend mornings spent trying new cafes and catching up on the papers cafe brunch

finding the beauty and charm in every pub vintage silhouette frames

ice skating at the Natural History Museum natural history museum ice skating, london

joe proposing under a beautiful tree canopy on the first snow day of the yearengaged

realizing that this river taxi view was just part of a normal day's commute. felt so blessed. river taxi

as is this view from Piccadilly tube station. cranes and all.piccadilly

and best of all, learning and doing it all with my favorite person in the world.smooch

Foreign travel moments and sights are next! Those will definitely be worth a "hurrah!"

when the sun comes out

primrose hill, londonprimrose hill, london primrose hill, london primrose hill, london primrose hill, london primrose hill, london primrose hill, london primrose hill, london

All you LA/So Cal people? Yeah, I see your tweets and posts about how sunny and warm it is right now but I'll have you know that the low 50's are my new 80's. Okay okay, we're lucky if we hit 80 degrees during the summer here in London but Monday was a surprisingly gorgeous day so I'm going to boast about it because it's what I've got.

Our "it's so sunny we have to be outside" destination of choice was Primrose Hill. It was a particularly windy afternoon so the little hilltop was perfect for flying Joe's kite. I wish I could say that I got in on the action but I was more than content to just enjoy the scenery. It was beautiful, so simple and peaceful. I soaked in every tiny bit of the sunset's golden glow, watched dogs run around like it was the most exciting moment of their lives, was inspired by joggers out in their winter running gear starting the new year off right, and smiled whenever I looked at Joe, the ultimate big kid, having a ball on a windy winter day. This may not be my norm for this time of year (I'm from LA in case you're new to the blog) but I can sure appreciate the change of scenery.

it's teatime o'clock

tea @ cake holetea @ hotel endsleigh tea @ winter garden, landmark hotel tea @ the tate modern tea @ cocomaya tea @ drink shop & do tea @ mad hatter's in margate tea @ clifton nursery cafe

I bought some truly amazing tea over the weekend and sipping it made me think of how much I love the English tradition of Afternoon Tea. This roundup is of some of the Teas I've done and what's nice is that no two are alike. Afternoon Tea can be as fancy or as simple as you want it to be and done as a little nibble or as a main meal (for me at least!). I hardly ever need and excuse to sit down for a "cuppa" and a piece of cake, a scone or a selection of finger sandwiches. It's so easy and normal to do when nearly every shop and cafe has something simple and yummy to offer at any given moment. I only wish that we did this in the States, like, instead of saying "let's meet up for coffee" you'd say "let's meet up for Tea!" - sounds so much better, right???

Maybe this post will inspire you Stateside readers to start a teatime revolution while I'm away. In the meantime, I'll see about taking more proper photos (and fewer fly-by iPhone shots) though that might be a challenge. I'm usually too preoccupied savoring every crumb and last drip to bother with my camera :)

p.s. I've yet to master the etiquette so please excuse my cup-grasping shot above. The pinky will go up. Eventually...

{about town} london gets colorful with carnival

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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

{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.

{market memo} old spitalfields antique market

Last Thursday I spent the morning combing the aisles of the Old Spitalfields' antique market. I can't believe that it took me so long to get out to a London treasure trove! Perhaps Paris's Vanves Market was that good?

I really enjoyed hunting at Old Spitalfields despite it feeling more commercial than traditional markets. Well actually, the location is where markets (previously food) have been held since the 1800's. So it is traditional but today a modern shopping center surrounds the historical square.

What's nice is that the market was totally manageable in size for a morning visit. The vendors were super friendly and there was a little bit of everything for all curiosities. I was hoping for some more furniture since that's where my head is at but no such luck. I did however find some great pieces for future projects and a few knick knacks for the home like my first English tea cup!

I'll definitely go back soon and also take advantage of its proximity to the famed indie shopping street, Brick Lane. There is much to see and do in this town!

Descriptions + more photos here!