Saturday, January 26, 2013

I GO: Columbia Road Flower Market

As many of you already know, I'm a big fan of lists. In fact, one of my simplest and greatest pleasures is checking off an entry on a list.  When I was studying abroad in London, I had quite the ambitious to-do list. I managed to make my way through the majority of it, but one of the things I never got around to doing was visiting the Columbia Road Flower Market. Unfortunately, it only runs on Sundays from 8 AM to 3 PM, with the best selection disappearing by little after noon. Not ideal timing if you have the sleep schedule of a vampire. 

So I'm especially proud to say that while in London this winter break, despite the grizzly rain, I finally made the early morning trek out to Columbia Road. My friend B and I bought some gorgeous flowers and spent the rest of the day wandering East London's hipster shops and charming markets. We even snapped some outfit close-ups, which I've thrown into this post. Bucket list success.

Enjoy the pictures after the jump!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I EAT: Hobbs House Bakery

My friend A is a bit of a bread snob. Earlier in the year she'd watched a BBC documentary about a bakery committed to producing the perfect sourdough loaf. As it turned out, said bakery happened to be the charming Hobbs House Bakery just down the road from our hotel! Hobbs House's sourdough masterpiece is called the Shepherd's Loaf, and according to A, it deserves all its praise. I'm hardly a bread expert, so if you're interested in learning about what it takes to earn the title of world's best bread, you can read this lovely article by a true bread connoisseur. Or if you want to try it out for yourself, you can order from Hobbs House online here. 

Despite its fame and artisanal breads (fig and walnut! pumpernickel! basil!), Hobbs House manages to retain the feel of a quaint local bakery. The loaves pop fresh out of the ovens first thing in the morning and are sold out by the early afternoon. The fridge is stocked with locally-produced Jess's Ladies milk, the freshest, most delicious milk I've ever tasted.  And the staff is warm, helpful, and cheery. Everything a girl could ask for when purchasing bucketloads of carbs. 

Enjoy the pictures after the jump!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I EAT: Williams Fish Market and Food Hall

On our first full day in Nailsworth, it rained heavily. Which made the prospect of venturing outdoors dreary and the alternative course of action that much more irresistible. I am, of course, talking about the option to spend the day hopping from warm restaurant to warm restaurant, gorging ourselves on expertly-prepared, locally-sourced goodness. Our feast began at William's Fish Market and Food Hall, a delightful grocery in the front and a no-fuss eatery in the back. 

True to its name, upon entry, I came face-to-face with large pink slabs of freshly-caught fish chilling on mounds of rocky ice. Past the impressive seafood counter lay hazelnut meringues the size of my face and stacked jars of autumn apple chutney, redcurrant jelly, and pear & ginger jam. Everything locally-made, except for the back corner which was crammed with specialty tidbits imported from France and Japan. NOT your typical grocer.

Breakfast kicked off with a freshly-sliced baguette, perfectly warm and fluffy with a crispy crust, served with French butter so tasty I was tempted to shovel it down with a spoon. Disgusting, I know, but well-made butter has that effect on me. William's oysters are famed. And though oysters for breakfast are a bit too rich for my taste, I have it on good authority from A that the accolades are well-justified. I went for the classic smoked salmon and scrambled eggs combo, which turned out to be one of the best renditions of the classic I've ever had. That's saying something considering, in my diet pyramid, smoked salmon might as well be its own food group.

Enjoy the pictures after the jump! And look out for more "I EAT" posts from Nailsworth. The town is foodie paradise. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

I GO: Nailsworth (in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds)

Brief catch-up on my winter holidays thus far for those of you that don't already know via my Instagram: I spent Christmas, New Years, and my 22nd birthday in London and am now currently in Los Angeles for a little over a week. After spending Christmas and Boxing Day in London, my friend A and I decided a reprise getaway to the English countryside was utterly necessary. Given the weather was far drearier than it was the last time we made the trip, we decided against going on another rambling (walking) adventure, opting instead to find a quaint town to nestle in for a couple days. After some intense Googling, we decided on Nailsworth, a lovely little spot that used to be a mill town. In fact, the hotel we stayed at (the Egypt Mill Hotel) was converted from a 16th century corn mill.  For some geographical context, Nailsworth is located in the Nailsworth Valley, which is one of the five Stroud Valleys, whose epicenter is the town called Stroud, and all of which are in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds. 

The town itself was tiny, little more than a cluster of shops along a short central road. But, in the summer, it's apparently a great jumping off point for rambling. And if you're like us, and are stubborn enough to visit in the winter, Nailworth's shops are lovely treasures worth taking the time to peruse through. I'll prepare separate "I EAT" posts to document my foodventures in Nailsworth, because trust me, the food deserves it. But for now, a quick photoreel, predominantly set at our picturesque hotel and my favorite shop in Nailsworth, James Lear of Arundel, which sells vintage knick-knacks, all-natural soaps, candles, and scents, and other lovely odds and ends. I walked away with the lovely brass pocket change plate you see in one of the shots below.

Enjoy the pictures after the jump! And click here and here to check out my earlier adventures rambling through the Oxfordshire Cotswolds.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I THINK: Here Comes 2013

You didn't think I'd forget to pen a New Years blog entry, did you? On December 31, 2011,  I left you with a list of year-end reflections. This year, I decided to kick 2013 off with a list of resolutions. Perhaps many of you find such goals silly. After all, you might just wind up next New Years feeling foolish for having set ambitious promises you've long forgotten to keep. But I think there's something to be said for setting them anyway.  So here we go.
  1. Stop biting my nails. This one should look familiar to all of you. It was on last year's list as well. And for a while in 2012, I was actually successful. But I don't suppose partial completion deserves a checkmark.
  2. Get back in shape. Words chosen carefully because as lovely as the idea of being "Victoria's Secret model skinny" is, it's honestly far more important to be and feel healthy. As seems to be common, the quality of my dietary and exercise habits deteriorated rapidly upon heading to college. Guilty confession: I don't even own a pair of sneakers. But now that I'm no longer an undergraduate, I suppose there's no justification for inhaling obscene amounts of desserts without engaging in some form of regular workout. Body image issues aside, it's just plain unhealthy. So sneakers, a gym membership, and a regular workout schedule it is.
  3. Be nicer. I love many things about New York; its brusqueness even happens to be one of them. But while self-absorbed brattiness is a common side effect of ambition, it's hardly an unavoidable one. The climb to the top can be stressful, but it's important to remember that our loved ones aren't rhetorical punching bags. And, if that's not enough motivation, there's that nasty little bugger of a concept: karma.
  4. Get a summer job.
  5. MOVE. I tend to overanalyze everything, an unfortunate habit given it yields zero productivity and infinite unnecessary stress. What if I'm not good enough? What if this isn't what I really want? What if I'm not living to the fullest and my life passes me by? Lately, with my 22nd birthday looming nearby, I've been looping that last question in my mind. There's a fantastical myth about one's 20s. It's been portrayed as the decade in one's life when one should gallivant around, living as loudly and vibrantly as possible. It can be a lot to live up to. But I suppose the first step is to stop worrying about measuring up. Sometimes that calls for leaping forth without a complete contingency plan. A terrifying thought for a risk-averse person like me, but the truth is, my brightest memories from 2012 were utterly unplanned. Not that you should expect me to throw caution to the wind. But a smidgeon of spontaneity and recklessness? That I think I can, should, and will muster. 
Happy New Years everyone. 

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