Last year for Christmas, Richard and I spent a month traveling (side note – am I the only one who always tries to spell this travelling?) around the UK. We spent time in England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and even drove through Scotland (albeit without stopping) while visiting his family! For some reason, one of the things we remember most is getting stuck in the wind and rain outside of our hotel beside the Giant’s Causeway after a fire broke out. Not exactly the most fun we’ve had, but the reward was worth it!
We were in the middle of a wonderful breakfast at the hotel, when one of the dryers in the laundry caught fire, and we were told we had to go outside right away. Unfortunately it was in the middle of December, and of course we forgot to wear our winter coats to the dining room. After freezing outside for a while, we were brought into the nearby visitor center to wait until the firemen cleared the building. Luckily nothing was damaged.
a few photos from our trip last winter
As we were checking out after breakfast, they asked us if we had managed to finish our meal before the fire. With the exception of a cup of tea or two, we had, but we asked them if they could do us a favor in lieu of the rest of our meal. Would they be willing to share their wheaten bread recipe with us? I doubted they would as restaurants/chefs aren’t normally known for that sort of thing, but lo and behold, the chef not only gave us the recipe, but a loaf of bread (still warm from the oven) to take with us! (more…)
Sorry, this post is kind of light on the photos (even though I brought my camera with me)!
Side Note – Does anyone else feel super awkward and embarrassed taking photos? It’s something I am working on, as I often look back and wish I had taken more photos… hopefully this blog can help me get over that! As Richard often reminds me “you are a tourist” – so I need to stop worrying about looking like one.
Last weekend was Richard’s birthday! I had asked the head baker at work if I could have that day off, and not only did he agree, but he offered to rig the schedule and give me a four day weekend!! The one thing Richard kept saying he wanted for his birthday, was to go home (to Northern Ireland). His sister Katherine still lives not too far from where he grew up, and he wanted to visit her and her husband, as well as see his wee nephew (who is growing so fast!).
So Saturday morning, we caught a flight to Belfast and spent much of the weekend simply relaxing and playing with his nephew. (Our previous weekend was spent doing much of the same with Richard’s Aunt. Apparently family oriented, stress-free weekends are our thing?)
On Monday, with Richard’s nephew at daycare, we decided to venture into Belfast and spend the afternoon doing a little shopping, lunch, and visit a couple of pubs. We started off just outside Victoria Square, as Richard wanted to buy some clothes for his nephew as a belated birthday gift. This area is mostly full of brand names and chain stores, but there were a couple of shops nearby on Ann street, that caught my eye. (more…)
A few months ago, Richard and I became the proud owners of an allotment! We had been trying to grow some things at his brother’s place, but found that we rarely had the time to make the drive out there in order to tend to it.
After talking to a neighbor in our little building, he mentioned that he was part of an allotment garden just a 10 minute walk down the road, and that he thought there might be spots available! Turns out the space right beside his was available, and so we put in our request. Unfortunately, by the time we did so, it had been claimed by another person. However, we found out that three more plots were becoming available by the end of the year, and we could come take a look if we wanted.
In this instance, not getting the plot we asked for turned out to be a blessing in disguise! One of the three plots was even better than the first! Our new little garden has not just one, but four fruit trees already established! (It also has one tree that we have no idea what it is. It could be fruiting, or ornamental, but we won’t know until spring/summer.) (more…)
A few years back, in my first apartment, I made a large gallery wall using IKEA RIBBA black frames, and black and white photos. It was modern and striking – which suited my industrial-loft style apartment. In my last place, I switched to all white frames with colourful photographs and artwork. Still a gallery wall (bigger too) but again, using IKEA RIBBA frames. While I do look back on them fondly, there’s something too simple about the way they looked now. They never quite matched my eclectic style, and felt too much like I was copying someone else’s aesthetic.
the Framebridge ‘Cairo’ frame
In our current flat, I’m thinking I may forgo the gallery wall, and instead focus on larger scale art pieces, and a few small pairings. I’m hoping to use a combination of new modern frames (maybe even RIBBA?) as well as some antique ones. I fell in love with these burled wood frames from Framebridge a few months ago, but didn’t want to spend that kind of money on just a frame. Then, as luck would have it, I managed to find a couple of antique ones, just the right size for £10! After researching a bit, turns out I got quite a good deal, as burled wood is expensive…
Since then, I find myself noticing this material more and more, in all kinds of furniture. It has such great warmth, and visual interest. Who knows, perhaps I’ll find a cool piece of burled wood furniture in the coming months? (more…)
While Richard was away for work, I decided to tackle painting the bedroom. As discussed in earlier posts about dark bedrooms, and my plans for this room, we had chosen to paint it Farrow + Ball’s Hague Blue (using Valspar paint) a few months before, and I am so glad about that decision. The paint has such a lovely teal-y green undertone to it, that makes it feel warmer (in my humble opinion) despite how dark it is.
Now painting without Richard meant lots of time spent on a ladder, with no one to see if I fell… but the worst part of doing it alone, was not having a vehicle! Unfortunately Richard took it with him when he left… not that it really mattered as I still haven’t learned to drive on the left side of the road! (more…)
I’m pretty sure that Richard would agree, I spend waaaay too much time on my phone, browsing stores. It’s not like I have the money to buy any of the things, but I often find myself saving pages and items for some mythical-future-influx-of-cash.
I figured that since I’m not going to buy any of these items anytime soon, perhaps I should share them with the world, and someone else might give them a good home.
First up we have Anthropologie – oh how I love thee! I can’t help but stop in their stores every chance I get. Great stuff and such inspiring window displays!
I haven’t been looking much at their clothing lately, but that wood spoon rest would be amazing. We still don’t have one in the kitchen yet, and I like the warmth that wood brings. The marble bowl could be used for food, or organization, and those textured pillows would be so fun on our bed (along with some indigo accents)! However, I doubt Richard would be a fan of the tassel-y bits. (more…)
One of the best things about Richard is that he not only enjoys cooking, but is quite good at it too! Since I am a baker by trade, he told me that he won’t bother trying to get really good at baking/breads/etc. – that’s my thing. But he does want to have something that he’s better at than me, something that our future kids will request (“dad’s —-“).
To that end, he has decided he will work on being the best at Asian cuisine. Right now, he’s focusing on Indian curries, and bought the cookbook Rick Stein’s India. You should have seen how excited he was when it arrived! It’s a really great cookbook, full of truly authentic dishes. The best part is that it’s not like recipes you find online, where you’re using store bought pastes or spice mixes – this book has you grinding cardamom pods, making your own coconut cream, etc.
So far, we’ve made three recipes from the book, and are excited to try more! (The masala chai tea is quite delicious!) (more…)
There are a few rooms in our flat where I know exactly what I want to do – the two most solidified in my mind are the hallway, and the bedroom. The hallway is easy to figure out because it’s such a small space. Add a single piece of furniture, some artwork, a mirror, a few accessories…. and bam! Done!
The bedroom is similar in that it is dominated by one piece of furniture – the bed. It takes up so much of the room that it becomes simple to determine the items required to finish the space. In here, I’m thinking lots of texture, and a sort of nomadic world-traveler sort of vibe. (Is that a vibe?!)
The room has two large windows with great moldings, but they let in a lot of early morning light
Here is the bedroom just after we moved in. The bed frame was left behind by the previous owner, and the little tables beside the bed are stools that Richard brought home from Nepal. They’re just temporary, but they were a great solution to our lack of… well.. anything. (more…)
My first job after high school was working at Starbucks. It was a pretty great job because the hours were good, the people I worked with were friendly, and you got an insane amount of free coffee per shift.
People have always raved about the Starbucks oat bars (flapjacks here in England), but there was another bar that they used to carry that was my favorite. The coffee shops where I lived used to serve what they called a flax bar (flax seeds = linseeds), which had all kinds of seeds as well as some great citrus flavor. I’m not sure, but I think it wasn’t available everywhere except maybe the west coast of Canada, because I can’t seem to find a copycat recipe anywhere!
So I did what any sane person would do – I read ingredient lists online for a company that used to produce them for the local Starbucks (they still make them for their own store). That way, I would know exactly which seeds they contained, and in what order (to determine quantities). Then, I took a flapjack recipe from a friend and altered the amounts of oats/seeds it contained, adding a bunch of citrus zest! (more…)
One of the things that Richard and I looked forward to doing after coming back from Greece (while we still were on holiday), was to visit the Sunbury Antiques Market. It’s a twice weekly market located at the Kempton Park Racecourse, and features over 700 vendors both inside and outside.
We’re both huge fans of eclectic spaces, filled with a mixture of antique and new pieces, and were hoping to find some furniture or accessories for our flat. One of the best and worst things about this flat, is that the woman who sold it left a few pieces of furniture behind; it’s great since we can take our time finding the right pieces (and the money to pay for them), but it’s also kind of frustrating as the furniture is bland and boring. We pretty much need everything for the flat – sofa, coffee table, rugs, dining table, chairs, bedside tables… you name it, we need it.
With over 700 stalls, we were hoping to at least find something to take home.
Alas, we found only a few small items, no furniture. But despite our lack of finds, we still had a good day out in the rare English sunshine. There was so much to see – we didn’t quite realize just how big the market was until it just kept going, and going… and going! There was a huge selection of everything from antique jewelry to old farm tools, with a lot in between. I found an amazing little antique painting (like tiny), only to find out that it cost £250!?! I thought maybe it would be £50 but never imagined so much! (more…)