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Happy Days at the Darkest Time of Year

craftcoffee

It’s been a busy few weeks. This last week especially has been glorious.

I found out my four-digit tax return is twice what I thought it would be, had a lovely dinner with a new friend, discovered that my Kindle hadn’t given up the ghost despite brief contact with my bath water, got a raise, and won a big deal award at the annual work Christmas meeting.

When they read out my name I was surprised, overwhelmed and elated. I never for a second thought I’d actually win one of the awards: there are only eight to go around and realistically, I’m only eligible for two. I didn’t know I was even shortlisted. I can barely remember what I said on stage as I accepted the award, and what I do remember wasn’t particularly eloquent, but I’ve been told it was clear I was very happy and temporarily speechless (if you know me in real life you’ll know that is a rare occasion).

I was reminded that I work at a fantastic company, full of unbelievably lovely people. The company update and awards ceremony was followed by a fancy dinner, after which the music came on. Time to dance and drink the night away.

This weekend was a write-off. Surprisingly, I didn’t have a hangover, but running around like a hyper-active, over-excited chihuahua for an evening drains the battery!

Fortunately I knew just what the doctor ordered: there’s nothing quite like the exquisite Craft Coffee to recharge. I took the picture above in their cafe earlier today (iPhone style, so it’s a bit grainy, but it shows off the lovely decorations) while getting my second day’s dose of cappuccino.

As Things Get Colder

20131123-145445.jpgI invested in winter wear just in time this year. I bought a big woolly hat that got delivered last week, and stopped by John Lewis for some gloves earlier this week. All this allowed for a trip to Borough Market and a walk by the river today.

It’s easy to give Borough a miss for all the tourists that believe the middle of the path is the best place to evaluate ones digital pictures, but you’d be missing out on so much culinary goodness. Like this spectacular Mortandela from the Ham and Cheese Company (not two food groups I’ve traditionally been known to associate with, I know, but they do tremendously good salami, plural).

I also wasn’t about to skip the mulled cider stand, which facilitated may briefly taking my gloves off.

It’s not that cold yet, but I run cold anyway, and I always find the first days of winter the hardest. Come February I’ll laugh in the face of -1*C and consider going without a coat in such balmy temperatures, but for now, it’s damn cold. And a fantastic excuse to wear my new hat, of course.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a shy armadillo that made me smile earlier this week. Enjoy!

List It Tuesday: Holiday Faves

Here are some of my favourite things about the holiday season:

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- Carol singers at tube stations
- Gorgeous lights in the trees lining busy streets
- Birds close to the house looking for a bite to eat cause its cold outside
- Knowing the shortest day of the year is fast approaching – it’ll be in the rearview mirror soon, as the mornings light up again
- Clear, crisp mornings (snow optional)
- Candles
- The scent of Christmas trees

I’m spending Christmas in London this year, the Londoner’s family have kindly adopted me. I’ll miss my family and our special way of celebrating Christmas, but I got to spend five days at home in the Netherlands just a few weeks ago, so that should last me until the new year.

What are your holiday faves? Join List It Tuesday here.

List It Tuesday: Overheard

You’d think a 16 year old girl in central London would have seen an impaired pigeon before…

Of course, it’s only now that spell check throws up that my automatic spelling of “pigeon” (“pidgeon”) is incorrect that I realise this, and the spelling error in my illustration for this week’s topic. Oh well, here’s to spontaneous illustrations with the odd error. It’s not the first time! ;) Perhaps it’s a good theme for another List It Tuesday week: words that trip you up every time! :)

Joining in – on time this week – with Aimee’s wonderful List It Tuesday initiative. To see more entries and find out next week’s topic, join the fun here.

List It: What I Love About Where I Live

Hot on the heels of my recent move to London (that’s kept me from joining in for the last two List It Tuesdays), the topic this week is What I Love About Where I Live.

  1. Big Parks. Richmond Park and Kew Gardens are my favourites, but I won’t pass up a stroll through Regent’s Park or Hyde Park if offered.
  2. The Londoner and friends. After more than a year of commuting back and forth between my social life in London and my home in Cambridge, it’s so nice to have it all.
  3. Courses. Because I’m here full time now, I can go to foreign policy/journalism lectures at the Frontline Club, sewing classes at Ray Stitch, or creativity-fuelled evening classes at Central Saint Martins. Also on the wish list: bookbinding at Falkiner’s, and perhaps a ceramics class, desperate as I am to recreate something as wonderful as this. The possibilities are endless!
  4. London Underground. By no means perfect, frequently out for maintenance on weekends, hot and smelly in summer, but my god is it a convenient way to whizz around London.
  5. Gateway to everywhere. On a train to Southampton, Brighton, or even Edinburgh; on a plane to anywhere… London makes it easy to travel, and I do love a trip!
  6. Great book shops. Everybody needs a book shop, and I’m not talking about regular chain stores such as WHSmith. Waterstones is passable, but shops like Foyles, Magma and the London Review of Books really  make my heart sing.
  7. Arts supply shops. I never did manage to find anything in Cambridge beyond the haberdashery section at the local John Lewis. In London, I’m spoilt for choice. The aforementioned Ray Stitch for anything sewing related (and copies of Uppercase Magazine); Blade Rubber for all my stamping needs, the London Graphic Centre for just about everything, the massive Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road for all my paper-based fancies, and Cass Art for a great bargain.
  8. London opening hours. Shops are open till 20:00 most weeknights. All shops. This is such a blessing for someone who used to have to race home to get to the shops before 18:00.
  9. Foodies. Independent food retailers are everywhere. Coffee shops, butchers, greengrocer’s with vegetables I’ve never seen before, bakeries. It is utterly delicious.
  10. Wholefoods. I love visiting Wholefoods for weird and wacky dinner ideas, cosmetics or yoga attributes. They’ve got several shops in London covering all my hippie-esque needs.

What do you love about where you live? Tell us and join in at List It Tuesday on Artysville here.

List It: Nostalgia

List it Tuesday, not so much on Tuesday this week. Frankly, in a week where I’ve both moved house and changed jobs, I think I get a pass! :) More about both at a later date, no doubt.

For now, I present you with this week’s List It theme: nostalgia. Autumn and nostalgia are almost synonyms in my book, and as you can see, I didn’t quite manage to contain my list to one page. However, in the interest of getting something up (versus trying to get the perfect list up and not getting around to it before the next Tuesday), I present you with a delightfully imperfect list of items that make me nostalgic, and an eternal conundrum about the final item you can’t quite see on page two:

To join in or to find out what next week’s theme is, visit Aimee at Artsyville here!

The Simple Things

The second pic from the left at the top? That’d be me! How lovely to be mentioned on the Simple Things magazine blog! It’s one of my favourite things right now, even if they’ve only published one issue so far. It just seems like someone peered into my brain and made a magazine based on things I like. (Apart from the cheese special. I still don’t like cheese.)

If you’re not familiar with the magazine (yet), and you live in the UK, be sure to check out your local magazine-selling shops soon, as the second issue is out on the 4th of October!

List Tuesday

I’m excited to be joining the wonderful Aimee from Artsyville in List Tuesday.

I don’t know about you, but I love a good list – it helps focus the mind and keep track of things. If you write it down, you don’t have to worry about remembering it any longer. Handwritten lists are the best, because you get the satisfaction of crossing items off.

This week’s theme is “goals from now until the end of 2012″.

For next week’s topic and to join in, you’ll have to check out Aimee’s post!

Spoke Too Soon

Summer is back!

I spoke too soon! Summer came back today – it was in the high twenties/near thirties. After the chill of the last week, it was quite a surprise. I went from jeans, a top and a jacket to jeans and a tank top, to a dress. It was just too warm in anything else!

This photo was taken on my way to what was the first step in a day full of delicious food: St John’s doughnuts. These were followed by a Coffee Mate cup of coffee, and stunning chorizo from the Ham & Cheese Company. We may or may not have sneakily enjoyed a beverage from the Kernel Brewery in the sunshine outside (very naughty, you’re meant to stay inside with alcohol). I had some delicious nougat and stracciatella gelato at Gelatorino in the afternoon. Let’s hope it’s not the last one this year!

That’s a Wrap!

Gift wrapped for wonderful Alice :)

This is the gift I put together for my lovely friend Alice. I’d recently received some beautiful twine as part of an order from Studio Carta (credit where it is due: Geninne posted about this wonderful webshop last week).

The wrapping paper was made using some thick A3 copier paper and a hand-carved stamp. I used a blue stamp pad… Mostly. (Can you see the smidgen of pink on the top edge of the parcel? :)

I used washi tape to secure the paper and then tied the cotton twine. It also looped into a small glassine envelope with a made-to-measure light blue card. I stamped the message on the front of the card using one of these, and scribbled a personal message on the back. Done!

It was so much more fun than using store-bought wrapping paper – I’m itching to try more!

PS. The gift inside was a copy of Nora Ephron’s inspiring and funny “I Remember Nothing“.

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