Wednesday, April 24, 2013

UK Wedding Traditions: The Fascinator

As an American, I have always LOVED the idea of wearing a big hat or a headpiece as a guest at a wedding, in the States it rarely happens! A hat is great, however a fascinator is event better, smaller {sometimes} and stylish, a lady with a fascinator makes me think fashionable.  A fun little headpiece to add a bit of sparkle and fancy to your day! So for all of you American readings....what is a Fascinator? Read On....
Back in the days a fascinator was described as a lacy headdress that covered your head. Today, a fascinator may be worn instead of a hat on special occassions like a wedding. Generally women wear them with fairly formal attire, commonly covered with feathers and beads. During the reign of Louis XVI ladies use to decorate their large bouffants with small cages, brooches and feathers to name a few, to add decor to their head. When the 1920's came around flappers decorated their headbands with feathers and jewels, but these were not named fascinators either. It wasn't really until the 1970's that the famous milliner Phillip Treacy spoke about these small headpieces again as fascinators, even they it didn't cover your face, since then, they have stayed. It has become common to see both royal and regular guests sporting a fancy fascinator to a wedding and I have to say...I LOVE IT! 

You will often see the Duchess sporting some rather fantastic fascinators, big ones, small leaves, I would love to her closet of headpieces!
 Guest at a royal wedding, oh yes, you must sport classy headdress....or crazy butterflies? How can I convince my guests to wear a fascinator!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Light my Fire! Creative Workshops

I have been wanting to write this post for awhile and after waking up every morning for the last week thinking of only this things, I thought I mine as well see what feedback I can get. I find that I have more people reading my blog then I sometimes think and it is always fun to connect with like minded readers and get your opinions. SO here goes.....
{Molly Jacques Illustration}

For the past many months I have been in quite the rut, while living abroad is oh so exciting {it really is, every day is new!} it has also made me question my professional career and the what is next for me. I feel super bad for my Beau who listens to me complain day and night and I want to change it for me and for him and for everyone. I spent my years in Washington D.C. working at two major venues as a catering manager, working around the clock hours, planning big lavish events and small not so exciting meetings, some days it was magical and some days it got the best of me, however I learned A LOT! I worked on the side for my great friend Elizabeth, helping her on site at beautiful weddings and started to love the business. I moved to Florida to be together with my man and worked with a fun group of women at a corporate event planning company but soon realized maybe strong sales was not my passion. It was when I met Laura and we started Floridian Weddings that I truly realized I loved styling, giving couples ideas for their big day, flowers, wedding planning and all that jazz. I left my job a few months before moving to London and also was able to gain some clients on my own to plan their big days. I experienced a crazy few months of travelling, moving to another country and a taste of what having my own business would be. Flash forward a few months and here I am in London, working at a venue as a wedding executive with a lovely team at a location in North London. I have a lot to grow at the current business and a lot of networking to be done, I am searching for my dream clients to book their weddings at my new place and hope it will happen. I can't help but wonder though, is this what I meant to do for the long run, be in an office or be on my own? My passions for cooking, baking, styling events, flower decor, personal touches, all of things clutter my mind all day long, longing for that little taste of my own thing I had to come back. Since we are planning a wedding and wanting to travel and well, have those things called bills, I need a steady job at the current moment, so doing my own thing full time probably isn't brilliant. However, I do need an outlet! I have been thinking a lot of investing in some workshops where I dream of meeting like minded women to spend a few days learning from their experiences, stretching my mind and training in all of the other aspects of my industry that I have been wanting to learn to make me well rounded. Some days I even think of working for free on the weekends if another planner or stylist needs help, to learn the local market, it is hard to start over from scratch. Below are a few ideas of workshops I have found to get my creative mind coming back. Have any of you ever participated in these? I would love your ideas! Email me your thoughts! I keep thinking I will wake up, the light bulb will go off, the money will be there and I can do it all, but no, if I am going to invest I want to make it worthwhile! 
Top on my dream list is Joy Thigpen's workshop in Georgia this August. This would include me purchasing a big fat international plane ticket, but the experience seems amazing. Have you been?
One of London's most talented florists teaches a week long floristry course. Yes, there is a hefty price tag, but it is something that I keep saying to it. do it. do it! 

Do I sign myself up for a proper, legit, wedding planning program? This could help my current job and my long term goals? What are your thoughts on wedding planning courses? Have you taken one?

I know a few people who have taken this and it sounds like quite the amazing experience! Ladies, speak up, is this a good thing to light my inner fire and have Emily and Lara push me to my limits?
Blogshop. Feeling that my blog needs a little professional brush up but not sure if the price tag is worth it. What do you think? I mean, Bri seems amazing and the networking alone would be fab!
A more local event, Blogacademy, is on my list, but bummed because the next one I would have to miss a day due to work. Have you been? Seems inspiring. 

Please, any other ideas on workshops in the States or London, let me know. Flower classes, wedding styling, wedding planning, beginner photography, stories of how you begin. It is time for me to start thinking ahead, to start planning what will make me my happiest! 


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Heading to the English Beach!

After months of rainy, cold and dark days in England, we decided to plan a little get away out of the city this weekend! Beau and I are packing the car, and Oliver, with two of our good friends and heading South for a couple of days. We keep joking that it is SPRING BREAK 2013, but honestly, even if I have to wrap myself up in scarves, it will be nice to get away and walk near the beach. I've been sick all week with a yucky cough, and some fresh air and sun on my face is just what I need! {the weather forecast says 0% rain, really!!!}

I can't wait to lay around in my jeans and a sweatshirt, throw on some "trainers" {aka: sneakers} and take Oliver to the beach for a long walk. A bottle of Pimm's to keep us company as we play Jenga and my favorite Taboo, lots of English tabloids and a long lazy breakfast accompanied by some homemade yummy scones I will bring. Sounds like a nice weekend away? We are pretty excited for our little adventure! I can't wait to share how it is! 

Florida sunny beach, English rocky beach, doesn't matter....we are heading to the Beach! 


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dining in London: Modern Pantry

Last weekend I met up with the ladies I had over for "Girls Night In" for a proper brunch! Yes, correct, a proper one {very British of me to say} I was so excited that all of us decided on The Modern Pantry for brunch because over a year ago when Beau and I visited London we stayed right next door and I fell in love with this spot! The Modern Pantry was just as good as I remembered it the first time. 
Tucked away in St. John's Square, just off of Clerkenwell Road lie this adorable brick building, the home of The Modern Pantry. The building is made up of a a casual cafe, sit down restaurant and a pantry shop where you can buy items like their delicious jams, chutneys and baked goods. The restaurant has a lovely atmosphere filled with sunlight from the huge windows {if we are lucky in London!}. The menu is a mix of classic items with a new and exciting twist. For example a normal every day English muffin comes with Vanilla Gooseberry Jam instead of every day Raspberry {HIGHLY recommended!}
I started brunch with a delicious Raspberry & Rose Bellini! Across from me is a Passion fruit, Banana, Orange & Honey Smoothie....hello lovely! 
It was truly the perfect day for brunch. It was the first day in WEEKS that the sun had been shining and with all of the pretty flowers in the window, it felt like Spring was in the air.
I ordered the fried egg served over grilled corn bread with spicy chorizo and avocado salsa. Correct, this was not Paleo friendly...well the cornbread, but you bet I licked the plate clean. I would order this again it was so amazing!
How about some decadent raspberry ricotta with berry compote and creme fraiche, oh mmmmmm geee! 
On the upper levels they have a few rooms that can be rented out for private parties. I have to say, I can certainly picture hosting a bridal shower or a rehearsal dinner here {hint hint}. The service was good, the food was delicious and the atmosphere of the restaurant I love. It was fun to be back out at a brunch with girlfriends, it got me missing my girls from the States, but now I have a new little chapter of my UK girls;) Modern Pantry was the perfect place to start brunch dates! 

The Modern Pantry | Location | Ph: 020 7553 9210 | Twitter | Facebook


Monday, April 15, 2013

Olivers favorite Dog Parks in London!

If you follow me on Instagram you probably see that we spend a lot of time on the weekends taking Sir Oliver to the parks in London. When we first moved here we had no idea where to bring him to run around but we have over time learned that London is full of amazing parks that dogs are allowed in. I thought I would share a few of the our favorite parks we have discovered in case you were clueless like us as well. Want to have a puppy date, let me know;) 
Hampstead Heath is so far my favorite place to bring Oliver on the weekends. I feel like bringing Oliver to the Heath is quite the treat for him, running around on over 700 acres of land, it is an absolute treat for him! Hampstead Heath has a cafe, swimming ponds, walking trails, a zoo and beautiful open spaces for picnics. Most places allow your dog to run off his leash, but around the cafe and the gardens you have to put him on his leash, it is a good excuse for him to take a break;)
From the top point of Hampstead Heath you can see an amazing view of London that is pretty spectacular! 
Recently I discovered Clissold Park. Clissold Park is located in North London, a 15 minute walk from Highbury tube stop or a quick bus ride from the tube. The park is not as large or nature filled as Hampstead Heath but there are always a great mix of other dogs there for Oliver to run around with and people do not seem to mind the other dogs. The photo above is of the adorable cafe in the center of the park that is perfect when you want a cup of coffee on afternoon dog stroll. Dogs are allowed off the leash here which is great...until Oliver discovered the pond full of swans, then I put him on his lead! 
In the middle of the city you have beautiful Kensington Park. Never in a million years did I think I would be taking my dog for a walk in the same park that Princess Diana lived and is now the home to Kate and William! For some reason I always feel a bit less comfortable letting him run around the palace area {can you image him running up to the Palace and not coming back! hahaha}. However there are a lot of other people that bring their dogs to the area and lots of grassy areas to run around. It is clearly indicated where the dogs need to be on their leash and where it is OK to be off. 
Oliver took a liking to Queen Victoria's statue and for a minute I thought he was going to jump in the fountain, this would not have been ideal for sure!!! Beau and I walk from Kensington Park to Hyde Park and sit outside for lunch at the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen that allows dog, its the perfect morning!
It never gets old seeing Beau carry Oliver on the escalator! hahah. Luckily London is pretty dog friendly! We take Oliver on the tube and all the bus on a weekly occasion. 
Highbury Fields, our hood;) Olivers local park, hee hee, is a nice 25+ acre park in between Islington and Highbury. We chose our flat because it is right on the park and on rainy/snowy days it is perfect to bring him out on a walk and on sunny days, he can run his heart out on the fields. The park is not enclosed however, we have trained to stay near us on our runs around the park. You start to know, if someone has their dog on a leash, keep Oliver away, if their dog is off their leash.....time to play! If you are in the area of North London I recommend bringing your dog for a stroll here, tennis courts, soccer fields, ice cream trucks, it is a great park in the neighborhood. 

All in all we have found there are countless parks in the city; Regents Park, Richmond Park and Greenwich Park are great to. I won't lie, I was a bit nervous allowing Oliver to run around to other dogs, I thought he was being a mis behaved little "hound" however, hey, the Brits love their furry friends too! Look at the Queen with her corgis! My recommendations if you have a dog in the city: bring them a lot of places to get use to the hustle and bustle {Oliver's been to the Oxford/Cambridge boat race and frequents the markets}, bring them on the bus and tube to get use to people, be polite because who knows when there is a little old lady or sweet little boy that does not like cute puppies and....pick up your dogs poo! If you don' may have to pay £80! 

We are so glad we brought Sir Oliver here! Any other dog park recommendations...send them our way! 


Friday, April 12, 2013

Happy Hour! : The Rhubarb Collins

Springtime usually calls for blue skies, flowers blooming, sunshine starting to peak out behind the clouds, lighter jackets and more refreshing drinks and meals, right? Well this has not been much of the case this past month in England. April has really brought cold, chilly, winter like days with more of a reason to add a scarf on, rather then to remove a jacket. Feeling in the mood to create a Spring dinner for Easter, I decided I would create a pretty, Spring feeling cocktail, something from the market and something that well, would be delicious. Enter the seasonal rhubarb, enter prosecco, both things I love. 

The recipe creates a delicious, light, pink cocktail perfect for a Friday evening! 

1 (4 ounce) stalk rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2 -inch pieces (about 3/4 cup total) 
or 3/4 cup frozen rhubarb chunks
1/2 cup sugar
2 ounces gin
1 ounce lemon juice
2 to 4 ounces chilled Prosecco

In a small pot, combine the rhubarb and sugar with 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until slightly thickened and bright pink in color, about 20 minutes. Let the syrup cool then pour through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. 
Press down gently and discard the solids. 
{DO AHEAD: The rhubarb simple syrup can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.}

In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 ounce of the rhubarb simple syrup with the gin and lemon juice. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously until completely mixed, about 20 seconds. Strain into your favorite pretty glass {coupe champagne glasses for me!} and top with Champagne or soda water.

Enjoy your Happy Hour! xoxo~ Becca

I Fancy Friday v. 7

Happy Friday everyone! Having just had two 4 day work weeks, this full week has felt like it lasted quite a bit longer! I am quite excited to see the weekend! I have a lot of projects on the horizon and with way too many plans and not enough time, Beau and I put together a little schedule for my life, and hopefully I will be posting more and more places around the worldwide web! I will keep you posted when it all happens. In the meantime, I have been finding a lot of sweet items that I fancy! Here is what caught my fancy this week....
1. Fun Bright Sabine Necklace!
2. Yippee! I am glad I discovered the Meringue Girls in London! I'm dying to book a class, who wants to join? 
3. Ooo how I love this Banana Republic necklace! So perfect for Spring. 
4. I have no reason or place to wear a new swimsuit! This one is way over my budget, but guess what, I love it! 
5. I have read SO many articles about the cult of the Shu Uemura cleansing oil and how amazing it is. After trying out a lot of face products with the change of climate, I think I'm now a cult member. 
6. I'm looking for a new phone case, are you surprised that pink chevron and monogram caught my eye. 
7. So much about these cleverly cute mugs makes me want to pour a big cup of Jo! Loving one for me and one for the fiance:) 

Happy Friday! Anything you have been fancying? 


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wedding Venue Visit: Fulham Palace

Deciding on a wedding venue has been quite an extensive search for the two of us. Unlike if we were to get married in Washington D.C. or Florida where we are familiar with so many venues,  everything here in London is new to us! There are so many amazing venues that are overflowing with charm and history that it has become a fun but overwhelming process. I am the type of person that I feel like by looking at their website and browsing photographers sites from past weddings, I can quickly tell if the venue is for us or not. Castles, old manors, converted churches, beautiful gardens, the options are amazing here in England. Having all of our guests come over to London makes us both want a really fantastic place. We love the idea of the country home, but we have become to realize that it may not be convenient for our guests. When we were introduced to Fulham Palace, we thought it may be the best of both worlds.
Fulham Palace was the home of the Bishop of London since 700, correct, 700 not, 1700 or 1970, craziness! The venue is located across the bridge on the Thames, close by to Chelsea and Kensignton. As you enter the venue there is an adorable pink house on the left {hello! A sign for me!} as the gate keepers home. You continue walking down a long drive {this would be a fantastic guest entrance} and then you enter through the courtyard that is overflowing with lavender for what could be used as cocktail hour.
We have visited Fulham Palace twice now, the first being a beautiful sunny day and the second being a gloomy rainy day. We have seen the best of both weather settings. During the Summer time when the lavender is in bloom, and hopefully, fingers crossed, the sun is shining, I imagine the courtyard overflowing with candles and lavender for a beautiful cocktail reception. 
The on site chapel has drawn me to this location because it is absolutely perfect for our size wedding. We are looking into having 100 guests at our wedding and we could hold a blessing in the chapel. 
Isn't this chapel precious! 
Guests could exit the ceremony to the beautiful lawn area for Pimm's cocktails and passed canapes while playing a little croquet? How much of a British Summer wedding would that be! 
I love the option at the palace that there is an existing marquee {yes, in the States we refer to as a boring old...tent}. The Marquee is set up in the garden and is not an additional to fee to hire. With strings of bistro lighting and beautiful flowers and linens, oh the reception could be so pretty. It helps that the garden itself has blooming hydrangeas all Summer long. 
There are a two more spaces in the building where guests could move in for dancing; the grand hall and library, I love that it has options and isn't so cookie cutter. Bovingdon's is the exclusive caterer at the venue, some people do not love the idea of an exclusive caterer, however, having worked as one site in DC for years, it has its perks of really knowing the venue and how it works. Julie is the Director for the venue and she has been a pleasure to connect with, as I imagine if we move ahead she would be throughout. 

So what do you think so far at our options? Beau and I have one more location to look at this evening and then we are hoping to really make some decisions. Once we have the venue selected, it will all fall into place and we can start planning all of the fun details! Hello glitter! Hello flowers! 

See a couple other venue sites here and here

{most images taken on my iPhone. Other images from HERE and HERE}

Monday, April 8, 2013

I've got Flamingo Fever!

Happy Monday everyone! This weekend London had a change of scenario, sunshine! Oh yes, 50 degrees weather with sun! Recently, both of us have found ourselves longing for an afternoon spent by our old pool in Florida, with our feet in the water and a margarita in hand, however, instead I spent my afternoon in my puffy winter coat, eating an ice cream on my balcony with my face in the sun, pretending I was in Florida;) I think it might be the change of season and sunshine that has also made me want everything possible with the adorable pink, Florida birds all over it, the Flamingo! From dresses, to prints, there are so many ADORABLE Flamingo items out this season! I completely am having a Flamingo Fever moment, I want these little pink creatures on everything in our house! 

An adorable British store Oliver Bonas  has a dress and a sweater that has my name written all over it with pink flamingos! Did you see the amazing Tory Burch line with flamingos EVERYWHERE, where can we go where I need to buy this swimsuit? Now my mind is full of flamingos everywhere, even as drink stirrers during our British wedding. Why not incorporate our past life in Florida! How about that print above?!?! Do you think Beau will allow me to hang it up in our hallway?

Tell me, is anybody else loving the flamingo craze as much as I am? I hope so! 


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

British Wedding Traditions: Wedding Breakfast

Wedding Wednesday! Here in London I work in the wedding industry as an onsite wedding coordinator at a venue in North London, I also happen to be planning my own wedding {I'm sure you have realized that by now!}. There are not a lot of HUGE differences in English weddings compared to US ones, but the little differences I have really loved sharing with friends. This week I am going to talk about the wedding breakfast. No, this isn't the day after wedding brunch....
{Image from Martha Stewart Weddings + InStyle Weddings}
Eggs and Pancakes for your wedding meal? When I started writing proposals for clients, my colleagues would cross out, wedding dinner and write breakfast. When I get quotes from caterers and look around online at menus, it always talked about a wedding breakfast. I kept thinking that it was so weird being that we are planning an evening wedding, why is it a breakfast? Well, a wedding breakfast has nothing to do with bacon and eggs and mimosas and waffles, I am glad I asked! 

The wedding breakfast is actually the dinner/meal that a couple is given following their wedding ceremony. It is common to call it a breakfast in England, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia and some other English-speaking countries. The name begin back in the day when this was traditionally the first meal a couple shared together and the first meal the couple ate on their wedding day. Traditionally the couple had been fasting before their wedding mass so the reception was the first time the couple ate, they broke the fast together, hence a Wedding Breakfast. 

So do not think we will be serving a breakfast buffet at our English wedding, however I bet putting "Wedding Breakfast" on the invite at 7:00pm would really confuse our guests! I am thinking our "breakfast" might look something more like this; mini burgers, fish and chips! 
{Images from Peter Callahan Catering & Brides }
Do you know of any other British wedding traditions? I would love to hear and share along! 

xoxo ~Becca

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dining in London: The Beach Hut

There are  SO many amazing restaurants to go to in London and we certainly haven't been able to get to half of them they we want to. Saving money for our wedding, following Paleo {most of the time} and get together with friends, we have been trying to eat at home quite often. However, Saturday night when my friend Ann asked if we wanted to get together for fish and chips in our neighborhood, I jumped at the idea. Not a fancy night out, but she had told me about this cute little spot and it was on my list of places to go. 
May I introduce to you, an adorable little spot in Highbury Barn, The Beach Hut
This teeny little spot in Highbury is a five minute walk up the street from our flat. The Beach Hut is only open in the evenings, so you may walk by it during the day and not even realize it is there. Located in a small little courtyard across from the Highbury Pub and next too the adorable green grocer Mrs. Lovell's Greengrocer sits this beach decorated fish and chips shop. My sister laughed and said "You can take the girl out of Florida but..", maybe she is right, a little cheesy seaside decor and I was happy as a clam. The restaurant is BYOB with no corkage on top, so for a cheap night out, it is perfect!
Traditional English fish and hand cut chips {Americans, that's french fries to us}, mushy peas, onion rings and prawns covered our table with a few bottles of wine. The music was a fun mix of the Rolling Stones and David Bowie, perfect to add to the fun British ambiance.
Hello little Prawns!
This dinner is for sure, not Paleo friendly! However, living in London, you have to live like a Brit and have a night out of fish and chips! Pretty simple plate huh? But it tasted so good! Ladies, a small size order is PLENTY. Beau ordered a medium and we laughed picturing how big of a fish you got if you ordered a large. 
Now I really do not think of waffles and fish and chips, however, this is what they offer for dessert and you know works! The four of us shared a freshly made waffle with salted caramel ice cream and it was completely, absolutely, decadent and delicious. 
I noticed the adorable prints on the wall are for sale and I really want to go back and get one. Isn't the zebra print, "Life's a Beach" adorable? A local artist, Mister Peebles, is displaying their fun artwork there for the month. It was the perfect addition to this spot. 

I'm looking forward to the Summer time to be able to sit outside at the tables with board games and chips. I will certainly be bringing our Summer visitors to the Beach Hut! For less then £30 its the perfect, fun night out! 

The Beach Hut: 28 Highbury Park Islington London, Islington, London
Tues–Fri 5.30pm–11pm Sat 1pm–11pm.

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