a year's worth of wanderlust II

This time of year always makes me reflect and one of the things that I'm most grateful for are the opportunities we've had to travel. We set out to live internationally for many reasons but traveling was/is priority numero uno. Looking back, I think we did a good job a sticking to our plan even though some days it feels easier to just veg out at home! Here are my fave moments, sights, and thoughts from our 2012 travel adventures....

Breaking away from Europe and landing in Marrakech. High hopes and expectations were met with a chaotic Medina with a character all its own.IMG_9915

Passed Berber Villages in the Atlas Mountains and seeing nothing but beautiful vistas. And snow. Who would have thought Africa had snow?!IMG_0120

Sipping on fresh mint tea while picking out our new/old Berber rug...the perfect souvenir!rug shopping

Our first LA visit together and indulging in three things: In N Out burgers, Mexican tacos, and fresh American donuts. This photo was from our morning binge session while doing loads of laundry next door.LA day _ weekend_3

Re-discovering the cool designs and colors found in LAgarage design, manhattan beach los angeles

Taking a quick break from LA to Anchorage, Alaska for a visit with Joe's parents. It was so awesome to be in the house he grew up in and see his childhood town.walking on a frozen pond

a day-trip to Oxford - LOVED it there. For you Hogwarts fanatics - their cafeteria is just off to the left.weekend_oxford_4

Stopping in Florence en route to Chianti. It's so true that the entire city is a museum.

enjoying an impromptu lunch overlooking vineyards near Greve Chianti. Hands down my fave meal of the trip...for sentimental reasons, mainly, because the other meals were aawweesooomme.italy_2

a "booze and chocolate tour" of Brussels with some sight-seeing on the side. A flea market was also involved - this one was one of the most legit I've been to.

brussels brussels

Leaving our love-lock in Paris as we wrapped up our time in London.paris

Our first trip after moving to KL: Penang. So colorful and vibrant.penang by Ana Maria Munoz

and with charming old character everywhere you look.penang by Ana Maria Munoz

Piggy-backing on one of Joe's business trips to Bangkok and exploring by boat.bangkok long boat

Visiting Singapore for the first time and wishing we had moved there instead since it was so clean, organized, and seemingly perfect. It was during a rough point in my new-home adjustment but now love and appreciate the imperfect and real character of KL.

singapore singapore 7

The beach holiday that ruined it for any other ones in the future. Con Dao, Vietnam was utter perfection. Honeymoon is done and done. Untitled

Going back to LA to give these little ones hugs and kisses and begin research on my new venture. Untitled

Making a long-weekend out of Joe's business trip to London. We'll take any amount of time there, no matter how long the flight. Plus, Joe needed to stock up on his favorite Whisky and you can pack more with two people + checked bags than you can with one ;) Image 1 Image 3

The unexpected layover in Abu Dhabi from London. I did my best to make the most of my 48 hours there despite major jet-lag (I was only one week back from LA!)Abu Dhabi

Getting to know and love the bits of Melbourne that give it it's reputation as a hub for good coffee shops and interesting street art.

grace cafe in fitzroy melbourne street art

Hanging out in Bondi Beach where I used to splash around as a toddler. Can't believe that we used to live just down the road. Part of me wonders what it would have been like to grow up there and be a little beach bunny...

bondi beach

... or just dance around The Opera House all the time...sydney opera house at night

...and with Australia, that brings us to a wrap!

But we won't be idle for too long. With the US, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa covered in one year (that is cray cray!) it's only fitting that we kick off 2013 with South America in February. Yep, I cannot wait to visit my parents in Colombia and say our "I Do's" with family, friends, and buñuelos!

I'm so thankful for this beautiful year....and to you guys for sharing it with me. I'll stop before I get all sappy but know that interacting with you via this blog, twitter, instagram, email is such a joy. And if you just joined me this year, you can catch up on where we went in 2011 by clicking here. Oh, the places we will go......

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 breakdown.post "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

friday pic & pin

friday pic & pin 19 Happy weekend, everyone. We're off to London for a few days and I am really pushing my packing time to the limit. It's always such a last minute thing for me but I'll do my best take the pieces that have been out of rotation since we moved to the tropics  (poor sweaters ain't getting any love!). I'll use the sassy lady above as inspiration, she is just too perfect.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

This week's three rad links...

• I Need Nice Things is open for business. Super rad and affordable art.
Field Trip, a new free phone app that reveals quirky, fun and secret places that are near you as you walk via Say Daily
• LA's biggest block party, CicLAvia, is this Sunday. Experience the city in a brand new way. We did and we LOVED it.
(image left: view from the London Eye, London by Ana Maria Muñoz, right: Pin via Stunning Street Style)

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!"

feels like yesterday

london books Where does the time go??? Next weekend marks my one year anniversary of living in London and though we have done and seen a lot in this beautiful town, we've barely made a dent in these guide books. I think I'll dust them off and pretend like I've just arrived all over again since there's still so much to explore. In addition to planning new adventures around town, I'm going to commemorate our first year as American Expats by compiling my favorite photos and moments for next week's posts. There's plenty to share on that end so stay tuned!

weekend, we

Hi, how was your weekend?

It was so nice to be home after being gone for the past three in a row. We kept things simple since I had a photography gig on Saturday but we did go out for dinner and drinks with friends at night. If you're looking for the best cocktails and speakeasy ambiance in London, the Experimental Cocktail Club is the spot. We go there as often as possible and they have the best DJs spinning retro funk and soul.

Sunday, the most beautiful day of the year thus far, was nearly wasted by sleeping in until 1pm (wah wah). No, the drinks are not to blame, I'm unfortunately still fighting off a bug and my body is resisting it like crazy. The good thing is that Friday's spring wishes did come true - the weather was perfect. So picture perfect in fact that I didn't even take photos! I guess I was too mellow to be snap happy but it was beautiful, warm, and bright, believe me.

Here's to wishes coming true and to having a productive start to the week!

(image: from a sunny day out at Kew Gardens, London)

happy friday!

street art in w9street art w9

I've spotted these tiles around our neighborhood and I'm on the hunt for more. There's just gotta be more!

Here's to a weekend of discovery and taking note of the interesting things around us. Enjoy!

This week's three rad links... • the art of making bread by Kinfolk. so beautiful and simple via EcoSalon • okay, jennifer of I ART U has officially convinced me to book with Airbnb. check out that space! • i love the way sharon designs her yummy instagram photos - that girl can sure cook (and sketch)

{market memo} clocktower market

clocktower market, greenwichclocktower market, greenwich clocktower market, greenwich clocktower market, greenwich clocktower market, greenwich clocktower market, greenwich clocktower market, greenwich clocktower market, greenwich clocktower market, greenwich

Sometimes I love my flea markets big but other times small ones do just the trick. When I first learned of the Clocktower Market in Greenwich I was ecstatic to have yet another reason to head East and spend time there. Greenwich has such a charming village feel and this small but quality flea market on its High Street only adds to the area's appeal.

Not all of the stalls were filled but the vendors who were there were friendly and helpful. I always find it interesting to overhear them chatting amongst each other about how "things aren't how they used to be" and how slow business is these days. It's literally the same conversation at every flea market and antique fair that I got to. I wonder how much of it is true or if they're just trying to indirectly guilt me into buying something. Either way, I appreciate them and all of the vintage treasures they share with us day in and day out. The goods for sale were varied though I did notice that winter coats and fur hats were a major deal for obvious reasons. I, of course, ended up buying a black sequin blazer for twenty quid (that's "bucks" talk in UK English) regardless of actually needing a winter coat! What can I say, it made me feel like a disco diva and that feeling is hard to resist.

Though tempted by a pair of suitcases (DIY side table?) we left with just my blazer and a funky piece for the shop. The market was perfectly manageable and non-exhaustive which is definitely key considering that just around the corner you've got Greenwich Market, Greenwich Park, the Royal Maritime Museum, and the Observatory. Lots of fun to be had!

weekend, we

my new blinggreenwich park view of the royal maritime museum from the observatory view from the observatory it got this cold overnight view from greenwich park we break for churros @ greenwich market enjoying some sun while we munchboarding the thames clipper (water taxi)cross-town river taxi brixton market for dnner westbourne grove cafe brunch post "i need to feel the sun's warmth" breakdown i love him

Hello everyone, how was your weekend?

Despite temperatures reaching freezing levels overnight, London got some beautiful blue skies. We enjoyed Greenwich on Saturday by shopping their local flea market (see my new sequin jacket), walking through the park, and breaking for churros from one of the stands in Greenwich Market. We then got a craving for Colombian food so we hopped onto the Thames river taxi and headed west to Brixton Village. We really love that place...great dining options, unique little shops, and all of your grocery needs wrapped into one eclectic package.

Sunday was much more mellow with time spent in Westbourne Grove and Notting Hill. I actually had a bit of a surprising meltdown after breakfast that day. Temperatures were in the high thirties and though I was perfectly warm with what I was wearing, I desperately wanted to sit in the sun feel it on my face.  After walking to several cafes I thought might have some sunny outdoor seating, I was quickly devastated to see that the sun was too low (even at its peek) and there was nothing but more cold shade. Feeling defeated, we walked back to get some grocery shopping done but as we stopped at a crosswalk divider to wait for traffic, I felt it. The sun was shining through the cross street in full force and I felt its warmth from head-to-toe. I closed my eyes to surrender to it for a quick moment of nirvana but once we crossed the street and stood on the corner, a sudden feeling of total panic and anxiety came over me and I was practically whimpering. I had no idea what was happening and even though I recognized how crazy I was getting, I couldn't stop myself. I wanted so badly to sit outside, enjoy a hot drink and soak in the sun's rays. I had never felt so desperate in my life. Like, hello sun...I can see you but I can hardly feel you! I literally had a seasonal breakdown. My first and hopefully last.

Joe, being the amazing man that he is, squeezed my hand and lead me down that sunny street. It was the opposite direction of where we needed to go but he was determined to find a warm place to sit and calm my nerves. Of course, our detour wasn't without any of his playful teasing (he grew up in Alaska so he simply can't relate) but we eventually found a sunny spot at a little french cafe near Hyde Park. As we sat in the sun and I sipped my cappuccino, I couldn't believe how hysterical I had gotten. I felt so helpless, so silly. I've never in my life have had to make such an effort to get direct sunlight but I now fully recognize how much I cherish it. You can take the girl out of Southern California but you can't take So Cal out of the girl.

cassettes aren't dead + {brilliant beats} dragonette

cassettes[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_t56jJOcNk?rel=0&w=640&h=25]

How could a door covered with cassettes and a "sold here" sign not catch my attention? Unfortunately the store/recording studio(?) in Shoreditch wasn't open but I love that they're keeping the cassette alive. I have such fond memories of standing by the radio all day with the "pause" and "record" buttons pushed down, ready to capture my favorite songs for the ultimate mix-tape. This fave from Dragonette may have missed the cassette-age but it still feels like a flashback anyway...in a good way, of course.

{show & tell} car boot sale finds

show and tell: car boot sale One of the things that I miss about LA is driving past yard sale signs, slamming on the breaks, and parking the car to go hunting for new (to me) items on the cheap. Though I know that I'm not guaranteed to find anything vintage, yards sales are a great way to buy second-hand goodies without having to dig through a thrift store. In fact, yard sales, vintage/thrift stores, Craigslist, and flea markets have always been my main source for home-decor shopping. I guess I just really enjoy the satisfaction of finding something rather than picking one-of-many off the shelf.

This Saturday morning was perfect for a yard sale. It was bright and crisp but the only thing missing was, errr, a yard sale. In London - due to the obvious lack of lawn space - they have community car boot sales instead. These sales, often located in church or school lots, began with people hawking items directly from the trunks (or boots) of their cars. Now the norm is to set up tables or lay everything on the floor or on a blanket. This was only my second car boot sale but I've quickly learned that to find even one thing that you like, want, or need,  is to call it a shopping success. Here are the items we found that made us pretty happy...

1) A single cotton pillow case that will make a great set of napkins - i love little sewing projects!

2) Pair of heavy duty glass containers that we can use for anything. They hold our grains for now but I think they'd be great as vases, too.

3) A lock for our next trip to Paris. You can bet we'll be throwing the keys into La Seine :)

4) A nicely textured brass vase...perfect for displaying the cabbage flowers we bought later that afternoon at Portobello Road Market.

Still on our list of items to buy for the home are dining chairs and a side-table. I think I'll have to go down to Sunbury for that as they seam to sell more furniture than any other London-city market. It'll be a great excuse to pick up a few items for the shop, too ;)

weekend, we

sidewalk artfalafel wrap @ portobello road market trimmings @ portobello road market beautiful bread @ portobello market produce @ portobello market winter skies breakfast planning

Hi everyone, how was your weekend?

Ours was nice - very local, relaxing, and productive. Saturday was all about a morning car boot sale (aka. community rummage sale) and an afternoon visit to Portobello Road for lunch and shopping. It was actually the first time that I've ever been to that market without going to the antiques section! Felt like such a local simply going there for sewing trimmings, fresh produce, and flowers.

Sunday was focused on the home which was easy to do since it was so grey out. We listened to the radio as we did our chores, prepped for the week, and in my case, prepped for the next couple of months. I've had tons of projects and ideas on the back-burner but now I'm committed to making them happen in 2012. Anyone else planning on putting their lingering ideas to work this year?

i've always loved you + {brilliant beats} the real tuesday weld

london b&w[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW71BzQ54NI?rel=0&w=640&h=25]

The Real Tuesday Weld - I love the rain

Last night we went to our favorite  hole-in-the-wall Persian restaurant for dinner and then did our week's grocery haul. Nothing special of course but as we walked around, carried our grocery bags, and waited for the bus, it was raining and we were getting soaked. The old me would have been quick to open an umbrella or better yet, wait for a dry day to run any errands at all. The new London me, however, has no problem going out when it's wet and unless it's really pouring (or I'm having an extra good hair day) my jacket's hood does just fine to keep my dry.

As we made the last stop at our favorite baklava bakery, I giggled to myself at the thought of how normal the scenario had become. There we were, wet clothes and wet bags, hitting up our routine spots on Edgeware Road just as we would on any regular day. Heck, a maintenance guy was even squeeging the glass walls of the bus stop shelter not minding that it got spotted with rain drops immediately after! For those of you who live in places where rain/cold/winter is common then this whole posts might sounds crazy. But to those of you more accustomed to year-round sunshine and warmth, you can probably relate to the "I don't do anything when it rains" mantra.

I must be truly acclimated because don't think or say that too much these days. Then again...I've always loved the rain and for the first time in my life, I get lots of it.

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.

weekend, we

Hi, how was your weekend?

We slept, lounged and watched lots of online TV and movies. Yet after a 1pm breakfast on Saturday we somehow mustered up the energy and enthusiasm to go out to Greenwich for the afternoon. By the time we left the flat and got to the river taxi it was nearly sunset. I was initially bummed to have missed the day's sunshine but quickly got over it as we cruised east on the Thames with a beautiful warm glow trailing behind us.

Greenwich was fantastic. Though we were only there for a few hours and didn't stray too far from the market, I saw just enough to fall in love with its village charm. The market was full of great indie designers and artists, the street-food stalls were just the right mix and quantity (I ate Ethiopian, Joe ate English), and the shops and restaurants around the market block were equally independent and intriguing. It was a mad house as lots of people were doing their Christmas shopping so I'd love to return on a quieter  day to take my time to visit each store (especially a vintage one that had an amazing coat in the window!). We didn't leave empty handed though. We quickly fell for the Arty Globe drawings of London artist Hartwig Braun. We're not really into traditional tourist souvenir items but 1) we needed coasters and 2) his cityscape drawings are awesome so if you're going to buy something "London-y" then this is your guy.

After a round of the best mojitos in town, it was back to the river taxi and onward to our local pub for a final night cap. They have a seasonal hot drinks menu and I'm taking all of the hot cider and hot toddies I can get. We've been spending a lot of time there lately but can you blame us? Especially this time of year when it looks and feels extra extra cozy? On the walk home (literally 45 seconds) we spotted exterior Christmas lights on a residential building - a very rare sight in London as I've only seen retail stores do anything outside. I'll be you anything that those flat residents are American but, I'll take it as it instantly put a smile on my face. Tis the season indeed.