The Christmas Tag.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

It's December which officially means that no one can whinge at me for playing Christmas music or movies – even if I was in the spirit mid-October this year. Time to roll out the garish jumpers, fire up the baking oven, and untangle your tinsel...
Tag questions courtesy of MilkBubbleTea

1. What is your favourite Christmas Movie/s?
It's a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, The Grinch, Elf, Polar Express, The Santa Clause...I'm all about those classics. 
2. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Always Christmas morning! We do open one on Christmas Eve with our family friends who we spend the evening with. We come home from dinner and all exchange gifts but ONLY those!

3. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
I don't have a single standout memory because there's not really a year that outshines the rest, so really just the simple things around Christmastime. Always loved picking out the tree to bring home – a real, green one, matter how often my family teases me that they're going to get a flocked one. Since I've been in England I haven't been there to put up the yard decorations which we usually do the day after Thanksgiving so I miss being home for that! 

4. Favourite festive food?
Not exactly a traditional festive food but we always have cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning and I'm a big fan. 

5. Favourite Christmas gift ?
My grandparents always spoiled me and my sister terribly with American Girl Dolls and their accessories so I have really great memories of receiving those and being really excited. My favourite gift I've given was a few years ago when my sister and I snuck down to my aunt and uncle's house and my aunt who is a professional photographer took nice photos of us and we surprised our parents with a book of them with cute little quotes from us about family and sisterhood...I will never forget that reaction! My parents are really into cute mushy stuff like that ;)

6. Favourite Christmas scent?
CHRISTMAS. TREE. SCENT. Douglass Fir? Pine needles? Whatever it is! In college when I didn't have a real tree I would buy the Christmas tree room spray from the store and spray it on my fake tree to pretend it was real. 

7. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

I don't think there's an hour on Christmas Eve that ISN'T based on a family tradition. We get dressed up and take photos in front of our tree before going to church. We go out to eat with our family friends at the same restaurant every year which I never get sick of, it started with my grandparents and we just never stopped going. The manager always comes around to our table and jokes that it's officially Christmas Eve now that we've arrived. We then head home for hot chocolate/coffees and exchange gifts between our family friends and then after they go home we watch It's a Wonderful Life - the old school black & white version. My sister and I still of course put out cookies and milk because Santa (...) has a sweet tooth. This was always the one night a year where I would crawl into my sister's bed so we could wake up at the same time, we've done this every year but we'll see what happens now that she's married...I think I may be getting the axe. Oh well, maybe I'll get dibs on cuddling with Audi.
8. What tops your tree?

For most of my life it was a Waterford Crystal topper until one year our tree toppled over in the middle of the night and it smashed. After that I think we used an angel but we were so bummed about our classic topper we eventually stopped using a topper at all. A few years later my sister found the exact Waterford topper that had smashed on Ebay and we surprised our parents with it when we were decorating our tree that year. So the crystal ball/stick topper tradition is alive and well!
9. As a kid what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?

I'm pretty sure I asked my mom if I could get a baby brother one year when I was little. LOLZ. To be honest I'm glad that wish never came true. 
10. What’s the best part about Christmas for you?

We always drive down and see both sides of my extended family on Christmas Day so it's a lot of family and fun in one day. My family does not mess around when it comes to traditions, and even though I've lived far from home for the past 7 years or so, we always manage to squeeze them in when I arrive home. When I was in undergrad and Christmas break rolled around, I would pack up my car and blast Christmas tunes for the 7 hour car ride and we would go pick out a tree and start the traditions the minute I rolled into the driveway. So I actually love the build-up to Christmas the most, and Christmas Eve is my favourite day of the year! Is it weird to love Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day?

If you are a Christmas fan then please do the tag yourself or answer a few of the questions in the comments below! I love hearing about other people's favourite Christmassy things and family traditions. 

Cliffs of...Mud.

Monday, November 30, 2015

I only had a quick three days in Ireland but time was not going to get in the way of one of my major bucket list items. With my base in Dublin I could get to just about anywhere in the country and juggled the idea of visiting Cork, kissing the Blarney Stone, and exploring the picturesque Kerry County – but only having enough time for one day trip I knew there was a bucket-list item I just had to tick...

Dublin the Whirlwind.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Early November I spotted a sale on good 'ol Ryanair, the airline that everyone loves to hate and vice versa. Considering I had studied abroad a few years ago, traveled Europe a couple of times, and have lived in England for over a year now, I had actually never flown with Ryanair. *Pause for dramatic effect* I know, I know. But the £10/15 one-way flights were too good to pass up and I decided to go for it for a short weekend getaway.

Castle in the Sea.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

St. Michael's Mount off the south coast of Marazion near Penzance is one of those dreamy bucket list destinations. If you type Cornwall in to just about any search engine or Pinterest, you'll find countless images of this mysterious and magic-like castle looming from the sea. 

Snapshots // St. Ives.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Being by the sea gives me a little pep in my step. The air is crisper, the food is fresher, and there's just something really soothing about hearing the constant crashing of waves. With the UK's gloom and grey stigma, beaches aren't exactly the first thing people think of - but if my trip to Brighton in January taught me anything it's that English seaside towns in their dormant state might just be my favourite. Without further ado, here's my St. Ives story time + photo dump...

Why I'm Addicted to Airbnb.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Last week I rolled over in bed to see the sun rising over the horizon, shocking pink against a pale blue sea, stretching out for miles. The little town below hadn't quite woken up yet so after hitting the snooze button a few times, I flopped a blanket over my shoulders and shuffled into the hallway to make a cup of coffee. After flipping on the kettle I nosed my way through a large glass jar of custard cream biscuits (this was a holiday after all) and shifted through the large selection of teas out of curiosity. I brought my coffee back in to my powder blue room and sat at the window taking in the view of St. Ives, while the fluffy bright orange house cat meowed at my feet and persisted for a back scratch.

Borough Market.

Monday, October 19, 2015

When you're with a group of friends or you simply can't make up your mind about what type of cuisine you're craving, snacking your way through food market stalls is hard to beat. Borough Market is one of the biggest and best that London offers to suit just about any craving for breakfast, second breakfast, or lunch, and it's conveniently a hop and a skip away from the London Bridge tube station. 

Scents of offerings with local and far away origins float through the air and you can hear people excitedly remarking to their comrades about the duck confit sandwich they just had, shutterbugs squeeze their arm through the crowds to snap the perfect shot of a stack of football sized cookies, and vendors call out to offer you a free sample. You can spot everything from fresh fruit to octopus to cider. 

There's something for just about everyone, and I could spend hours weaving my way through the various rows and sampling as much as possible. The highlight of my nibbles from this particular morning was definitely the scotch egg I picked up from the Scotchtails stall. 

^^ The look of sheer, food-fuelled joy captured by my friend JD - go follow her on Instagram, you won't regret it!

After you've snacked enough for about 5 meals, you're in the perfect spot to walk across London Bridge north of the river for more mooching around the East London. Spitalfields is only a 30 minute trek away through the City, so you can knock out food, history, and shopping all in one Saturday!

Get the opening time details and latest news here

What's your favourite food market? 
@ Londoners: Is the queue at Monmouth Coffee actually worth it?

Primrose Hill Sunset.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Primrose Hill is easily one of my favourite spots in London. There are few things I love more than seeing a city from above and the adorable surroundings of the quaint neighbourhood is just the cherry on top. It's also a stone's throw away from Camden, one of the coolest areas to eat, shop, and explore.

When the weather is nice and the skies are clear, there's no better place to see the whole of London's skyline. You can spot everything from the Shard, St. Paul's, the Eye, and so much more. As we were staying in the area and were heading to Bristol late the next day, I took JD here before heading to dinner at El Parador in Camden.

Between the amazing Autumn weather, the adorable dogs running around, and the guy nearby strumming the guitar, authentic Spanish tapas awaiting us was truly the only thing that could have pried us away from the perfect end to our day.

Once again, JD took + edited the photos I am in, all other were snapped by me! 

^^ Please no one show my posture to my mother. 

If you are looking for a place to catch the sunset in London, check out the skyline, or even just to have a picnic when the weather agrees, you must go to Primrose Hill. It's less than a 15 minute's walk from Chalk Farm station and can't be missed.

Where's your favourite spot to catch a sunset?

Belgravia Bakes + Bubbles.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Remember a few years ago when cupcakes became super trendy and it was impossible to turn the corner without bumping into a new shop or seeing a new recipe on Pinterest? While the proliferation of delicious baked goods is fine with me as I have a major sweet tooth, I definitely feel like the quality of certain treats go down when they suddenly become popular. Enter: plain flavours, grainy icing, and uninspired designs. I had really gone off them the past few years other than the occasional bite at a birthday party.

Recently, a friend from the states I interned with a few years ago with hopped across the pond for a quick weekend visit. Our first order of business was to find a snack to help fight off her jet lag and my exhaustion from catching a ridiculously early train to London, and of course to catch up with each other as over two years had somehow passed since we last saw each other! She led me to a cupcake shop that she had been itching to try after seeing it raved about on a blog or two, and I was in no position to turn down sugar at this point so I put aside my opinions on cupcake shops and cheerfully obliged. We took advantage of the beautifully sunny and crisp October weather and moseyed our way from Sloane Square up into Belgravia. 

Also, JD happens to be an extremely talented photographer which is why photos from her trip on here will be stunning and I'll actually be in some of them for a change! Check out her website here if you are in the South Carolina area and in need of beautiful photos and follow her on Instagram here. Her feed is dreamy and I say that in the most un-biased fashion although I'm totally biased towards the human behind them. 

Obviously any photos in this post that I am physically in were not taken by me, all credits to JD! It was a fun (and weird) change to be on the other side of the lens, although I was reminded just how awkward I am when the tables are turned. 

Still refusing to believe that she had just completed 7+ hours of traveling! 

Walking through some of the wealthiest and most picturesque neighbourhoods in London, we were met with a blinding block of pink against the monochrome homes lining the roads. 

Peggy Porschen Parlour arrived to Belgravia 5 years ago, although the company was founded in 2003 by Peggy and her husband. Everything inside of the teeny shop was white/pink, impeccably clean, and basically epitomised the word pretty. Teas, packaged treats, and books lined the wall and the girl behind the counter greeted us with a smile. We both picked out our cupcakes - Cookies & Cream for me, Strawberry & Champagne for JD, and opted for a glass of champagne each to celebrate being reunited. The weather made the adorable outside tables irresistible and our treats were brought to us immediately. The glass of champagne ended up actually being a miniature bottle each, which was a most welcome surprise.  

I patiently waited for her to photograph our set up before diving in.

...Although I could only wait so long before getting my paws on that champagne after that early morning start and traumatising train journey. 

1 out of 2 isn't bad! 

Perfect people-watching seats in one of the most beautiful spots in London town aside, we agreed that these were honestly the best cupcakes either of us had ever had. Mine had an actual Oreo baked INSIDE the cake which was just the right consistency of soft and moist without falling apart and most importantly, the icing. I feel like the icing on cupcakes is usually where they lose me. This was by far the softest, tastiest, least-grainy icing I think I've ever had. Lots of "best I've ever had" phrases being thrown left and right here, but I'm not exaggerating! There's a clear reason why her cakes have graced the parties of A-list celebrities and royals, although our afternoon visit by no means broke the bank. If you are a cupcake lover and find yourself in Belgravia, you should definitely pay a visit to Peggy Porschen.

Speaking of delicious baked goods, I'm so sad this year's GBBO is over! Even though I was #TeamTamal from day one, I couldn't be happier for Nadiya. She seems so lovely and her speech after her win had me in tears. Did you watch Bake Off this year?

50 Shades of Orange // Brandon Hill.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

In case you haven't picked up on all the Anne of Green Gables quotes filling your social media feeds this past week, October has officially arrived! It must be nice to be October, it seems to be a lot of people's favourite month...

October means many things: Halloween, earlier sunsets, cooler weather, etc. Much to my excitement, it also means all of the trees start changing to vibrant shades of orange and red. It may not sound earth-shattering to those of who have always lived somewhere with a vibrant-coloured Autumn, but for someone from Texas where trees go from green straight to dead, it's pretty dreamy. 

Brandon Hill is one of my favourite places in Bristol. Walking to the top can make you feel a bit out of shape, but the views are hard to beat. It's a great park for jogging/walking, dogs-watching for those of us who don't have a furry friend, and trekking up Cabot Tower. It buzzes with families and picnics during the summertime and even has a resident ice cream truck that sits atop the hill.

During Sara's recent surprise visit to Bristol (which I had mischievously known about for weeks, hehe) we met up at Brandon Hill on a sunny Sunday afternoon in order to get a few shots of her and J that weren't selfies for a change. I think we succeeded, aren't they the cutest? Having Sara back in town was so nice and went by far too quickly. 

I'd be lying if I said I was too excited about winter creeping up on us - save Christmas and getting to go home and see my family, I'm not a big fan of cold weather and shorter days. That being said, I'm definitely enjoying Autumn! How can you not with colours like these and the "not too cold but not too hot" weather?

Are the leaves changing colours in your neighbourhood?

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