London Week :: Days Two & Three

Aaaaaannnnddd ... I'm finally getting around to sharing the rest of our London trip! Day two was a glorious day of Mom and daughter shopping heaven. We hit the King's Road, merrily shopping our way down to Chelsea. It was all very girly and one of those days when I was so ridiculously thankful that my only child is such an amazing young woman. Actually that is most days, but this was a really good one. We spent loads of time at Anthropologie:

We loved the windows at Osborne & Little and The Designers Guild:

Later that night we enjoyed the lights on Sloane Square and had delicious and super relaxing dinner at  Made In Italy:

My sweet, beautiful family and that's me on the walk home in my inclement weather hat (yes, there was inclement weather). It was a great day and I was excited to get to visit a lot of the shops I have heard about, including the Shop at Bluebird where my sneaky daughter bought me a Christmas present!

Day 3 was very mellow with a trip to the Victoria & Albert Museum. The best part, for me, was lunch in the music room:

After the museum, we took in the sights of gorgeous South Kensington:

It was nice enough to sit outside at a sidewalk cafe and have a coffee. We were all exhausted and still had a few days to go, so we decided to have sushi at home that night. I think we were all in bed by 10 pm! This is what happens when you deposit 3 people who are used to the pace of the English countryside into the hustle and bustle of London!

Wishing you joy, peace, and an abundance of blessings!!

x, Beth

Inspiration :: Joy

More about our fabulous week in London coming soon, but for now, some joyful inspiration:

Happy Christmas Eve!!!! x, Beth

London Week :: Day One

Today we were mellow because Will just got in from New York. We went to lunch at The Orange which is so perfectly decorated, I just want to move in and live there. All lime washed wood and campaign chairs. Lovely and I finally got to have an authentic Caesar salad. It was heavenly.

This was recommended by fellow blogger, Heather, who writes the blog Canal Notes (yes, I have cool friends!). She is also an expat American. It was perfect and really close to where we are staying. After lunch we enjoyed the window displays around Sloan Square.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the AMAZING Saatchi Gallery.

Is it wrong that amongst all this amazing art I was having trouble focusing on anything beyond how much I loved the floors? Those floors! And THIS:

This just blew our minds and we talked about it a lot throughout the rest of the day. That's what good art does. It makes you think and it brings you around to it again. It was fun to see my daughter come alive in the way she responded to the art. So much fun. Such a blessing this little adventure.

Do you know about what is in the picture above? I won't spoil it for you. Come to London and see it yourself. x, Beth

Inspiration :: Christmas Decor

I know you have all probably already decked the halls this year, but I came across some really great Christmas tree photos I wanted to share today. They are inspiring me for Christmases to come. I love the topper on this tree from Country Home.  It's all just so redonculously glam and coordinated. I do have a rug just like that in storage, so that's a start right? So this is my "someday I will live in my own home again and decorate the crap out of it and have a fabulous tree that matches everything, including my dog" tree.

THIS, amazeballs little tree from Martha Stewart (styled by Kevin Sharkey) is a faux bonsai all gold leafed and be-jazzled to the nines. This will be my "I'm too old and fabulous for all this tree decorating nonsense, pull out the bonsai, call it Christmas and get me another martini darling" tree for when I am an over the top old lady. Read more about that here.

And this sweet, simple little colorful tree from Susana at Citrus & Orange just makes me happy. That's all. Maybe when it's all said and done, I just want my Christmas tree to reflect the sweet, simple and colorful life that I lead. 

Susana also made this lovely centerpiece. Yup, she is super talented:

In case you were wondering, we did get our tree all trimmed in homemade goodness. Carolina spent three nights stringing popcorn and cranberries. She is a champ and the garland was just the finishing touch the tree needed. Here are some shots of the finished product:

It all turned out pretty well. The tree is really wonky and it messes with my love of symmetry, but it smells so good that a stray branch here or there is easily forgiven. I'm a little worried about this guy because we are down in London all week and he won't get any water (it's a He). Hopefully he will survive until Saturday. Otherwise, Merry Christmas kids, your presents are under the pile of brown needles! Hang in there Frasier! (his name is Frasier).

More about our family fun week in London coming tomorrow. x, Beth

Beautiful Spaces :: Alice Lane Kitchen

This kitchen makeover from Alice Lane Design is so well done:

I love, love, love the open shelving and the entire wall of tile.

This space is proof positive that a hard working kitchen can also be beautiful.

It almost makes me want to go back into kitchen design. There are days when I really miss creating something functional and beautiful and even the thrill of controlling such a high stakes project. I always got a bit of a kick out of knowing that my clients trusted me with this kind of investment and it was up to me to deliver on their expectations. As stressful as it could be sometimes, I really loved that challenge.

I hope whatever is next for me brings those elements together, because I know it is not design, but I also know all that has happened has prepared me for what is to come.

I look forward to what is to come.

all photos by Meikel Reece via Alice Lane

Be sure to check out the 'before' pictures of this kitchen over at Alice Lane. What kind of transformations are you experiencing these days - kitchens, life or otherwise? I would love to know!

Beginning to Look A Lot Like (a handmade) Christmas ...

I just made my stovetop potpourri following THIS recipe ...

our frasier fir tree was delivered (smells amazing!) and Carolina is busy stringing these for garland ...

We made paper snowflake ornaments with the gorgeous pages of the Gudrun Sjoden catalogue. We also found some adorable printable bird ornaments from Rebecca Kallem.

The story of our handmade Christmas continues ... stay tuned!

Wishlist :: A Wee Printer

Why so tiny? Why at all? I don't know! But I love it.

Hello Little Printer, available 2012 from BERG on Vimeo.

Shopping :: Hatton & Harding

When we first moved to Warwick, just a little over one year ago, I was excited about living in a small country town with charming shops and a stunning castle just across the road. I spent my early days here, wandering around town and exploring. One day I noticed a beautiful building with windows covered in brown kraft paper. People were busy at work inside, so this could only mean one thing - a new shop was coming to town! I had a feeling it was going to be something special, but I had no idea how special  until the paper came down and Hatton & Harding was born.

This lovely shop is not only filled with the most wonderful selection of home accessories and personal items, but it is owned by two of the most charming and kind people I have met here in England. David Hatton and Jerry Harding graciously allowed me to spend the afternoon last Thursday taking photos and hanging out chatting and laughing. I was also making a massive mental wishlist for Christmas!

Both Jerry and David have an amazing eye for detail and quality. They have carefully curated a selection of beautiful, but affordable items that can be best described as casually elegant. With their store styling and offerings they have achieved that rare balance of comfort and luxury. Distressed wood furniture covered in silver baubles. Textured linen chairs draped with sumptuous faux fur blankets. It's also just the right mix of masculine and feminine - something else that can be hard to achieve in design. It's one of the few stores where both my husband and I love everything.

Honestly though, the best part of the Hatton & Harding experience is the genuine effort that has clearly gone into making it come together and shine. David and Jerry are an inspiration to anyone who has a dream and is willing to do the hard work and make the sacrifices to attain it. The store recently celebrated its one year anniversary. David has been working at the store this year, while Jerry continued in his role at Diesel in London, wanting to be a larger part of H&H, but knowing that the timing needed to be right. I know from experience, this is a very smart, but difficult thing to do. When you start a business with a partner you want to both be equally involved, you don't want one person to feel more burdened and you don't want one person to feel left out. It can be very tricky, but they have handled it beautifully and with very positive attitudes. There is so much joy and good energy behind what they are doing. Earlier this month, Jerry joined David full-time in the running of the business. I'm so happy for them and wish them continued success and all good things. Aren't they adorable?

So, if you are thinking about a trip to the Midlands, be sure to stop by this treasure of shop - it is styled gorgeously for the holidays. You can also find items exclusively sold here including Cowshed, Spitalfields Candles, Mulberry Home and the amazing scarves of Duppoini (tops on my Christmas list!). They offer a service where you can go in and make your wishlist and then just offer a big hint to your significant other about where they should shop. Brilliant. All in all, it's a very special and personalized shopping experience. The kind of place where you are offered a drink, good design advice and fabulous merchandise all in one! You can connect with Hatton & Harding HERE on their website. Follow them HERE on Facebook and HERE on Twitter.

A huge thank you to David and Jerry for sharing their day and their story! xo, Beth

In Fashion - Kelly Wearstler Cinnabar Jacket

I really don't even have words for this jacket. Let me try. Fabulous ... Ridiculous ... Over The Top Fabulous ...  Fluffy Goodness ... wait, I think I've got it ... Ridiculously Fabulous Fluffy Goodness. Yes, that's it.

Oh, Ms. Wearstler, you blow. my. mind.

Find it HERE. And have a very Happy Wednesday!

Food :: Butternut Curry

Here is the promised recipe. This is very amusing because I attempted to document while I was cooking, but I am the MOST distracted cook and, as you already know, the world's worst photographer. So, I kept forgetting to take pics and then I did not realize I was taking the pictures with Hipstamatic instead of the regular iphone camera, so the photos are all hipster. Hipster cooking photos. Great. So, while the photos will not add anything at all to the value of this post, it's the recipe that really matters anyway right? So, here it is (with profound apologies to food stylists and photographers):

Every time I make this dish it's a little bit different. I actually make it quite often with a combination of butternut and sweet potato (the pre-cut comes this way and it saves lots of time). I use 1/4 tsp. of pepper and 1 tsp. of salt and around 1/8 tsp. of red (cayenne) pepper and that is usually perfect. When I buy the pre-cut squash/sweet potato I use two 300 gram bags. You could also add spinach (instead of coriander), or even cooked chicken to this. Also, I make this a lot, so I don't always use heavy cream. You can use milk, but remember the cream tempers the spice to don't go too heavy on the cayenne if you are using milk or it might be too hot (unless you want that of course).

And it must be noted that this recipe is adapted from the Gaining Ground Table cookbook. An amazing cookbook if you can get your hands on one. I think it is out of print. I shared another recipe from this book a few months ago which you can find HERE. So, that's it. Enjoy and let me know if you make it and what you think!! x, Beth

Art & Artists :: Radio

Love these graphics from the talented folks at Radio in Cape Town ...

And yes, I really miss South Africa. If you have never been ... go. I'm serious. Just go. It is the most amazing combination of breathtaking natural beauty, adventure and good people. It's magic.

I think I'll write more about our African adventures soon. Would you guys like to hear them?

See more of Radio's work HERE. Happy Monday - wishing everyone a great week.

x, beth

Sew on badge from Best Made Company.

Favorite New (to me) British Word

One can also be "chuffed to bits" (stoked) and "chuffed to buggery" (proud as hell) - and to make things even more fun 'chuffed' is also an auto-antonym, though I have yet to hear it used in the negative sense.

Even though we have been here over a year, I only heard this first (twice!) this week. This does not surprise me as the English are a modest bunch. Not a lot of 'tooting of one's own horn' going on here. I find this both refreshing and frustrating. Probably because I come from a country that is completely the opposite. It is certainly an endearing quality, just not one I am accustomed to.

It is these subtle differences in culture that make me feel lonely and, quite literally, like an alien sometimes. There is this sense of longing for my people, not because they are preferable as people, but because they are what I know and understand. And because all my life I have yearned to belong, it's even more difficult because the message is 'you don't belong'. I know there is something at work here. I know I am being challenged to grow and find my way through this.

This, for me, has been the essence of the expat life. The balance of getting to experience new and wonderous things with the ever present tension of not belonging. Hang with me as I figure it out, OK.

Art & Artists :: Abigail Brown & A Completely Unrelated Conversation

A huge thank you to one of my BYW Blogging friends, Fay Vowell of Bitten London for introducing me to the work of Abigail Brown. I don't know when I have ever been so enamored with someone's art. These bird sculptures are simply amazing.

I think what I love most about some of these is that I have a personal connection to them. These gorgeous guys are currently living in our courtyard:

These funky little guys used to hang out in the backyard of our house in South Africa:

And, we used to see these colorful beauties in Namibia:

I want all of them.  I could be the crazy bird lady! You can see more of Abigail's work HERE.

My oh my, Will and I have been watching the American TV series Friday Night Lights. Here is the conversation we had before we started watching the show:

Setting: On the couch staring at the TV

Me: What do you want to watch?
Will: I don't know. What is on?
Me: You know I cannot figure out the TV situation. My question is more general - comedy, drama, or reality?
Will: Sports
Me: Not an option. How about a drama?
Will: How about a drama about sports?
Me: That is an oxymoron.
Will: Did you just call me a moron?
Me: There is a drama about high school football. In Texas. Oh dear Lord. Should we watch that? (in my head: please say no)
Will: Sure, whatever.

Two weeks later:

Will: Are you ready to watch Friday Night Lights?
Me: I just need to check my email, give me a minute.
 Will: Ok, but hurry, and maybe we can get in 4 episodes before bedtime.

Yeah, we kind of like it.