American Gal’s Guide to Thanksgiving in London

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday – even more so than Christmas. For the most part, it is one of those holidays that brings back a lot of great memories growing up. Every family has their own traditions, but the universal commonality is that friends and family come together over the dinner table and bond over an incredible feast. We give thanks for the people in our lives and things we are fortunate for.

Thanksgiving has made its way over to the UK and there are more and more restaurants celebrating it each year with special menus and fun events. For those of you who are American expats living in London and want to celebrate with an evening out or if you’re a Londoner and simply want to jump on the Turkey-Day bandwagon before Christmas hits, I’ve rounded up London’s top places to celebrate.

BBQ Thanksgiving at Bodean’s

Make the pilgrimage over to your local Bodean’s BBQ this Thanksgiving, London’s premiere KC BBQ joint, to try out The Pilgrim Burger. Grab the family and give thanks while chowing down on a chargrilled turkey patty with cornbread stuffing, home-cured BBQ turkey ham, fresh cranberry and orange sauce, watercress and a drizzle of turkey gravy.

OR, eat your heart out with a three course feast – featuring BBQ pulled pork, chicken or veggies, followed by turkey with all the trimmings.

A Very Texan Thanksgiving at TX Joe’s

Garrison Brothers bourbon has partnered with Texas Joe’s in Bermondsey to showcase  ‘the Texan way’ of slow-smoking turkey, chipotle glazing vegetables, adding jalapeños to cornbread and Texan-measures of bourbon. Celebrate the Lone Star way with a feast the size of Texas, including smoked turkey, bone marrow mash, smoked creamed corn, chipotle-glazed sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, poblano chorizo cornbread and good old fashioned Pumpkin Pie. Wash it all down with two Texas-sized shots of Garrison Brothers Single Barrel Bourbon.

True to the tradition of celebrating ‘fall bounty’ the single priced menu of £40 per person is ‘all-you-can-eat’ including two Texas-sized shots of Garrison Brothers.

TX Joe’s | 8-9 Snowsfields | London | SE1 3SU

Thanksgiving the Absurd Bird Way

The folks at Absurd Bird are embracing the American way of life with a Thanksgiving feast inspired by the Deep South. Give thanks this year with family-style sharing dishes of spicy chilli and butternut squash soup or Mississippi Sin Di served with whole grain tortillas. Tuck into a twisted take on the classic bird with stuffed turkey crown rubbed in Southern spices, or go for something a bit more absurd with Mama’s favourite Southern style smoked whole chicken. Top it all off with Pumpkin Pie and Peanut Butter & Crack Brownies. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the libations – wash all the Southern goodness down with Hill Billy Iced Teas, laced with Absurd Bird’s home-brewed Moonshine, sweet peach tea and lemon juice.

The menu is £18.95 for two courses or £22.95 for three courses. The menu is available from 21st November – 27th November.

Absurd Bird | Delish Cafe | 25 Peter St, Soho | London | W1F 0AH

Bea’s of Bloomsbury

Bea’s of Bloomsbury, the masters of scrumptious cakes, are putting on a Thanksgiving dinner with lots of delicious pies (we know where we are getting ours from this year!) Kick off your dinner with Glorious Pumpkin Soup or Spinach, Avocado Pomegranate Walnut Salad, followed by Roasted Turkey with all the trimmings – gravy, onion stuffing, cranberry sauce. Sides include buttery mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and oven roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary (yum). Top it all off with Classic American pie, pumpkin spiced macaroons and berry passion fruit cheesecake.

The special menu is available on 24th November and is £35.50 per person.

Bea’s of Bloomsbury | 44 Theobalds Roa | London | WC1X 8NW

Thanksgiving at Home with Rhug Estate

There is nothing better than enjoying a family Thanksgiving in the comfort of your own home. Impress your guests this Thanksgiving with a luxury plump turkey from Rhug Estates. The free-range, Great Taste Award-winning Dee Valley bronze turkeys are available to order online to be delivered direct to your door. These famed feathered fowl are supplied to some of the UK’s best restaurants, so you can take solace in knowing you’ve got the most incredible turkey as your Thanksgiving centre piece! Order here: https://www.rhug.co.uk/

Eat Pumpkin Pie at Dominique Ansel Bakery

 Following the highly anticipated launch of the famed Dominique Ansel Bakery London last month,  Chef Dominique is bringing Thanksgiving tradition across the pond with an assortment of sweet signature pies. Fan-favourites served at Dominique’s famed Pie Nights in New York will be making their British debut, as the London bakery gears up to celebrate the holiday. From Wednesday 16th until Sunday 27th November, individual slices of Extra-Silky Pumpkin, Salted Caramel Apple and Bourbon Pecan Pies will be available in-store (£6 per slice). To accompany the pies, Blossoming Hot Chocolate – Chef’s homemade hot chocolate, served with a marshmallow flower bud that blooms to reveal a chocolate Bon Bon inside (£5.50) – will also be available to order. Guests can now also pre-order whole pies online (£35) for pick up in store between the same time period.

Dominique Ansel | 17-21 Elizabeth Street | London SW1W 9RP

Thanksgiving The Cure + Cut Way

You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving leftovers to get your Turkey sandwich fix this year. Head to Cure + Cut during the week of Thanksgiving for hickory and honey smoked turkey sandwiched together with smoked bacon, celeriac slaw, cranberry sauce between slices of crusty ciabatta. I love a good sandwich.

Available from Monday 21st – Friday 27th November.

Cure + Cut | 36 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials | London WC2H 9HB

Dance Off Your Thanksgiving at Blue’s Kitchen

 The Blues Kitchen’s legendary Thanksgiving feasts are taking place on Thursday 24 November at ShoreditchCamden and Brixton. An epic menu includes a New Orleans Gumbo: Smoked sausage, chicken, okra, peppers & long grain rice, served with corn bread. Followed by Slow-Roast Turkey & Ham served with all the USA trimmings: chestnut stuffing; candied yams; cornbread; carrots; greens; red onion gravy; cranberry sauce. And a Sweet Potato Pie with bourbon and orange cream for dessert.

Priced at £29.95 per person and including a welcome Brooklyn Pumpkin Ale. After the feast, it’ll turn wild as it does every year as people give thanks on the dance floor with live New Orleans brass & piano, rhythm & blues and soul. 

 The Blues Kitchen | Shoreditch | 134-146 Curtain Rd | London EC2A 3AR

Brixton | 40 Acre Ln, Brixton | London | SW2 5SP

Camden | 111-113 Camden High St | London |  NW1 7JN 

Thanksgiving at The Riding House Café

Celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday 24th November, Fitzrovia-based modern brasserie The Riding House Café is serving up a special feast perfect for sharing. Kicking off with a warming welcome cocktail made with Applejack brandy, Scrumpy reduction, roasted pumpkin and autumn spice puree and candied waffle, followed by the main event with Roasted Norfolk Bronze Turkey with all the trimmings. Sides are always a focal point at any Thanksgiving dinner and you can look forward to cornbread and sausage stuffing, maple-butter sweet poatoes, truffled mac & cheese, creamed corn casserole, sprouts and bacon, green beans, and of course, cranberry sauce. 

Dessert will comprise of a choice of two classic American pies – Pumpkin Brûlée Pie and Chocolate Pecan Pie, each served with whipped vanilla cream.

 The Riding House Café | 43-51 Great Titchfield St | London W1W 7PQ

Christopher’s Covent Garden

Come Thursday 24th November, the capital’s original American restaurant, Christopher’s Covent Garden, has more than one reason to raise a toast, as it celebrates its landmark 25th Anniversary year too. A one-off menu of innovative twists on US classics by Head Chef Francis Agyepong, who has been at the helm twenty-three years. It be served all day from 12pm to 11.30pm, in Christopher’s glamorous dining room, within the Grade II-listed building which was once London’s first casino.

 Priced at £58 per person for a choice of three courses, highlights include Maryland Crab Cake with Red Pepper Mayo & Rocket Salad; Caramelised Orkney Scallops with Celeriac & Truffle Cream, Apple Crisps, Cobnut Praline; Slow-cooked Ballotine of Organic Turkey with Corn bread, Hazelnut & Michigan Cherry Stuffing, Cranberry Relish, Buttered Beans & Creamed Potatoes; and Pear & Almond Cobbler, Blackberry Compote & Salted Caramel Ice Cream.

 To accompany the menu, Christopher’s Covent Garden has introduced a series of three dedicated Thanksgiving cocktails – Pumpkin Pie Martini, Providence and Orange Blossom (non-alcoholic) – available throughout the day both in the restaurant and in the Martini Bar. Expect a Christopher’s Thanksgiving feast even greater than the many gone before at this special venue. The Martini Bar will be in full swing too. So, make sure to book a table and join the festivities with one of London dining’s iconic institutions.

 Christopher’s | 18 Wellington Street | London WC2E7DD  

Thanksgiving Cupcakes at Hummingbird Bakery

Hummingbird Bakery has my all-time favourite cupcakes in London and this year, they have created a selection of very special Thanksgiving-themed delights that are perfect desserts to bring along to your Thanksgiving feast. Available from Monday 21st – Sunday 27th November, the adorable cupcakes are Chocolate and Pumpkin flavoured as well as Candied Yam flavoured (which I am really excited to try)! They are decorated with turkeys and pumpkins, making them the perfect festive treat!

Happy Thanksgiving, ya’ll!

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Expat Talk: Saying Goodbye

Family

1st December 2014 had arrived – the day that I would leave my comfortable life in Kansas behind forever for a completely new chapter. The time had come to pack up the car with my suitcases and I wanted none of it. Panic had set in and the anxiety overwhelmed me. ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ ‘If this was the right thing, why am I so upset?’ I remember thinking. It was one of the hardest mornings and one I’ll remember so vividly for the rest of my life. I calmed down and was reassured by my mom, sisters and fiancé, that this was for the best, that I was off to exciting and new pastures, that I would be happy once we touched down in London. They were right.

We made it to the airport and in typical fashion, we hit the bar for a send off drink, a little tradition my Mom and I have done every time I’ve flown to London in the past. This time was different though. This time I sat there, in floods of tears, feeling nothing but despair because I didn’t want to leave. Saying goodbye to my mom was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. When would I see her again? I didn’t know, which made leaving so much harder. This time, I wasn’t coming back in a week or two, this was for an unknown amount of time, and it’s the unknown that is terrifying.

Saying goodbye to the people you love is hard. It’s not fun and I’m going to be honest – it’s the worst part of living halfway across the world from your family. I know this sounds dramatic, but it does feel like something is being ripped away from you and it’s really hard to focus on anything else for those few hours. But eventually, the heartache fades. As soon as I got to London, I had so many other things to focus on – setting up a bank account, getting a NI number, searching for a job, not to mention being unimaginably happy to be with my fiancé and letting it all sink in. It was all new and all exciting and I didn’t have time to focus on being sad.

I’ve had to say goodbye a few more times since then, and sometimes are easier than others, but the truth is, it will always be momentarily heartbreaking. It’s okay to cry and feel emotional – truth is, you will likely feel really overwhelmed, and that’s 100% normal. It’s all part of the process. It’s emotionally draining and it may take a few days to feel back to your self again, but if I’ve learned anything from having to say goodbye quite often, it’s to allow yourself the time to recuperate but remain focused on the positives and always have something to look forward to. Make it a point to plan the next time you’ll see your family, or plan a holiday, or just a night out with friends.

Also, think about the laughs and the good times you just had with your family and friends. Think about all of the wonderful experiences in your life and why you love living in the country you are in. Skype and FaceTime are life-savers as well. Just a tip – you can get different Skype Packages on your phone to make unlimited calls to any country for as little as £5 a month. I use FaceTime quite often and it’s free.

If you’d like to contribute a guest post about your experiences being an expat and moving/living abroad, I’d love to hear from you – colleen@blondeacrossthepond.com.

Blonde Across the Pond – The Expat Series

_r016932-2On 1st December, I will have lived in London for exactly 2 years. It’s been a whirlwind of a time between getting engaged, applying for my UK visa, packing up my life into five suitcases and making the leap across the pond to live here indefinitely. I absolutely love London, but moving over here was one of the most difficult experiences I have ever had. Adjusting to living in a new country permanently is a completely different ballgame to simply visiting or even studying abroad. But sometimes, the road less travelled is a good thing.

When I moved over here, we lived with my fiancé’s family for about a year until I got a job and we looked for our own place to live. Finding a job was an uphill battle – I got the door slammed in my face numerous times, but kept on going until I eventually secured one. Finding a place to live – was also an uphill battle, but alas, we found an amazing little home that we can finally call our own. Simply being away from the comforts of home was really hard and there were times I wanted to raise the white flag, throw in the towel and say to my fiancé, let’s move back to the US. But, I’m so glad that we didn’t because even though it was (and still is) difficult navigating being an expat, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Throughout the trials and tribulations, I have had some truly wonderful experiences and have met some fabulous friends along the way.

You may be wondering why I am sharing all of this with you. Well, for the first time in the two years, I am really content with my life here in London and really proud of the journey thus far. I’ve had some time to reflect over the past few years – the good and the bad – and I’ve wanted to add a new element to Blonde Across the Pond beyond just sharing tips for restaurants and bars. When I moved here, I had wished that I had a guide to read about the ins and the outs of living abroad. I wished that there had been a book filled with stories about other people who had moved to a different country as it would have been nice to have something to relate to and look to for advice.

So without further adieu, I’m going to be starting an Expat Series filled with stories, tips and practical advice for fellow expats from around the globe with the hope that it helps those making the leap across the pond a little bit easier. If you’re an expat or have recently moved and would like to contribute an article, please get in touch, I’d love to hear from you! (colleen@blondeacrossthepond.com).

Thanks for following along! Here’s to new beginnings…

Where to Watch the NFL in London

nfl-in-londonIt’s that time of year again and American football season is back in full swing! Sometimes, there’s nothing better than having a lazy Sunday with some beers, burgers and football streaming on the TV, all day long. For those of us Americans living in London, we don’t always have that luxury and we’ve got to head out of our flats and houses to catch the action elsewhere. It can be really hard to pinpoint which bars and pubs will be streaming the games, so I’ve come up with a list of where to watch the NFL games in London.

Greenwood in Victoria – Located in the heart of Victoria, Greenwood is an upscale pub and restaurant that has a Sports Lounge of dreams – including six screens (two mega screens), showing all the NFL action! They’ve also got an American 8-ball pool table and two shuffle board tables. They’ve also got an awesome bar menu with delicious croquettes, pizza strips, burgers, and more served all day. This is my ideal spot to spend a Sunday afternoon watching football!

Greenwood | 170 Victoria St |  Westminster | London | SW1E 5LB

The Hippodrome Casino – Located in Leicester Square, The Hippodrome Casino is the ultimate spot to cheer on your favourite team. Every game has it’s own screen, they’ve got an awesome all-American food and drink menu and everyone comes in their team’s jerseys so you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to the USA.

The Hippodrome Casino | Cranbourn St | Leicester Square | London | WC2H 7JH

Bodean’s – Known for it’s awesome Kansas City-style BBQ, Bodean’s has multiple locations throughout London AND shows several of the games every Sunday. Locations include: Balham, Clapham, Fulham, Old Street, Soho, Tower Hill, Covent Garden and Muswell Hill. Beers, BBQ and football – sounds pretty good to me. Call your local branch ahead of time and ask what games they’re showing for that day.

Frankie’s Sports Diner – An American-inspired sports bar in Fulham, Frankie’s has 12 HD screens to catch the action of the games every Sunday. When you buy a bucket of Bud, you’ll get a basket of buffalo wings for free – game on.

Frankie’s Sports Diner | Stamford Bridge | Fulham Rd | London | SW6 1HS

Belushi’s – Another awesome American-style sports bar with multiple locations across London. Belushi’s has backstage access to regular season and playoffs and replays with a Season Plus Game Pass. Any game you want to watch – they are able to screen it for you. Even better, if there’s a big group, you can reserve a spot for a front row spot, pay £10 each and get a bucket of 5 Bud Lights and a Tex Mex platter. Sounds ideal.

Showing games in: Camden, Greenwich, Hammersmith, London Bridge and Shepherd’s Bush.

Riley’s Sports Bar – Haymarket – This place is one of the ultimate sports bars in London. There’s 34 screens showing 70 sports channels, so you’re guaranteed to catch the game you want. They also have pool and ping pong tables, 4 different bars, and a great beer list. In addition to NFL, they also show college games and basketball! Check out their schedule online to see what games they’ll be showing every Sunday and get there early to snag a seat.

Riley’s Sports Bar | 80 Haymarket | London | SW1Y 4TE

Wembley Stadium – And of course, the best place to watch a game is at Wembley Stadium! The International Series kicks off tomorrow with the Colts vs the Jaguars. We went last year to watch the Kansas City Chiefs and had a blast. It was definitely a highlight of my year and if you get the chance to go you definitely should!

NFL

If you prefer to watch the games at home, you can buy Sky Sports, which shows some of the games, Game Pass, which will give you access to 256 regular season games, and you can watch highlights on BBC iPlayer.

If there’s any other sports bars to watch the NFL in London, please let me know!

Go Chiefs!

 

 

Dear NYC Foodies

Dear fellow foodies of NYC,

I’d like to preface this letter by saying when I came to London four years ago, I had absolutely no interest in the food scene, and even worse, did not have the desire to branch out and try something new. I, of course, liked good food, but I did not have an appreciation for all that goes on behind the scenes in a kitchen and the thought that is put into a well-conceived menu. I spent my summer in London eating at chain restaurants that serve food I could have had back in Kansas, my hometown, remaining well within my comfort zone. It was a real shame to say the least, because there was and is a huge world out there with phenomenal food.

Growing up, I wasn’t necessarily exposed to cultural cuisine and I grew up in a family full of ‘BBQers.’ We grilled everything – steak, chicken, burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, etc. I was brought up with typical, all American food, which is by no means a bad thing and BBQ is still my favourite today, but when I came to London my eyes opened up and my horizons broadened (even beyond the awesome food).

One day, my fiancé Ciaran and I visited the Brick Lane Sunday Market, which is filled with an eclectic mix of food stalls featuring everything from Indian, Spanish, Chinese, Turkish, etc. All of these foods I had never experienced before and I was intrigued. I had never eaten Chinese food before and Ciaran ordered a shredded duck pancake with hoisin sauce and told me to take a bite. A bit put off at the thought of Chinese food as well as duck, I hesitated and then quickly realised that life’s too short, so I went for it. It was love at first bite and it was a pivotal moment as my perception of food had completely changed. From that point forward, I made it a promise to myself to try as many different cuisines as possible and to try everything once (within reason).

Luckily, my world was flipped upside down the following year when my fiancé and I spent the summer visiting different markets around the capital. London is known as the city with ‘a million markets’ and it’s one of the things I love the most about this beautiful city. The diversity of cuisines that exist is limitless and I love that you can go to literally any market and try specialty food from a far away country.

_R013148Food began to really excite and inspire me and quickly became a huge part of my life. I started to explore hidden restaurant gems throughout London and developed a real appreciation for the restaurant industry and for the creativity, talent and thoughtfulness that goes into making fantastic food. I am a true believer the food feeds the soul and nothing can turn a bad day around like an incredible meal. My new-found passion lead me to work in restaurant PR as well as inspired me to begin writing my blog, Blonde Across the Pond, which explores all that this wonderful city has to offer.

For the past two years, Ciaran and I have continued to explore London’s burgeoning food scene. Living in London means that the world is literally on your doorstep and you can indulge in any type of food that you fancy, even your favourite type of cuisine from wherever you consider your original ‘home’ before moving to here.

For example, London has fantastic BBQ for when I need some cowtown comfort food. Namely, Shotgun BBQ in Soho, which has the best Kansas City burnt ends that could very well rival those made in my hometown. Shotgun BBQ is the real deal and is 100% authentic American Q that can’t be beat. Headed up by Mississippi-native Brad McDonald, Shotgun uses two types of smokers in the kitchen, one that is made by Southern Pride and actually burns whole logs as opposed to wood chips, to give all the meat that smokey, mouth-watering flavour. There is an array of American-inspired restaurants in London that attempt to do barbecue, but Shotgun was started by Americans who know their craft incredibly well. When I visit, it’s as if I am being transported back to the Kansas. It’s great to find a piece of home in London and I think it goes to show the high calibre of restaurants that we are blessed with.

shotgunWhile eating comfort food is well and needed at times, the past couple of years have also been ones of exciting ‘firsts.’ For the first time, I tried several cuisines that I wouldn’t have dreamed of trying and ended up discovering some of my favourite types of food.

A first for me this year was trying Peruvian food at the fabulous Coya in Mayfair for my friend’s birthday. Coya is a sophisticated yet super fun restaurant, featuring a large bar that specialises in bespoke pisco infusions that are ideal to enjoy pre-dinner. Coya keeps their food on the traditional yet modern side and has a Ceviche Bar, an open charcoal bar and a central kitchen so you can see all the action behind the scenes. Coya is all about sharing and I love that we were all able to sit around a large roundtable and pass each unique dish around family style. The ceviche was some of the best I’ve had as was the Chilean Seabass with lime-infused risotto and chilli. The best part of our meal was being able to share it with friends and celebrate. We all bonded over how delicious each dish was and it was a really memorable occasion. Coya is one of those restaurants that leaves a lasting impression and will have you going back time-after-time. Growing up, I did not encounter any Peruvian restaurants and it was incredible to taste the different flavours and sample cuisine from Latin America. It’s even inspired me to take a trip to Peru in the near future as I’d love to experience the culture.

cevicheAnother type of cuisine that I must mention is Indian food. There is a reason curry is the National Dish of England, and that’s because it’s so damn good! I had my first curry experience at Aladin Indian restaurant on Brick Lane in East London with Ciaran a few yeas ago. In my opinion, Brick Lane the ONLY place to experience your first foray into Indian food. Most of the Indian restaurants that line the streets aren’t posh or fancy, but that’s the beauty of it! Many of them are BYOB – which is always awesome in my books.

We headed to the liquor store around the corner and grabbed a bottle of wine to share. Growing up in the US, the amount of Indian restaurants I have come across are far and few between (then again, I probably wasn’t paying attention), but I  can confidently say there isn’t a plethora of them in Kansas. I was really nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect and I don’t have a big tolerance for spicy food. I left the ordering up to Ciaran, who ordered pompadoms, a range of chutneys and sauces, paratha bread, naan bread, a Tandoori Chicken Tikka for me, Vindaloo Spiced Chicken Dhansak for himself and pilau rice. I loved all the starters – Naan bread is the best and I developed a new love for mango chutney. I remember it like it was yesterday, the Tandoori Chicken Tikka was tender and juicy and the spices were unlike anything I had tried before, but I greatly enjoyed it. Not too spicy, but just enough of a kick, it was perfect for me.

We’ve been to several Indian restaurants in London since those days and it has truly become one of my favourite cuisines, something I never thought I would say four years ago when I first came to London. I have slowly expanded my repertoire, trying something new each time we go out for an Indian.

tikkaLondon is a melting pot of phenomenal food – from market stalls, to pop-ups, small and spectacular restaurants to bigger, world-renowned ones. There is never a dull moment in the London restaurant scene and there is always emerging talent cropping up. It is ever-evolving and there is always something new to try, which I love. Just the other day, I tried Ethiopian cuisine from Borough Market and it was quite unique and delicious. If there is anything I have learned over the past four years, it is to always step outside your comfort zone and try something new and London is filled with vast opportunities to do so.

I feel very blessed to live in a vibrant and eclectic city and have a deep love and appreciation for all that it has to offer. I was thrilled to have been invited to the Transatlantic Tables dinner at Grain Store in King’s Cross hosted by OpenTable last week. I have met some of my very good friends through our mutual love and appreciation for food and there is nothing better than catching up with old friends and making new ones over a fantastic meal. To me, food goes beyond the the dinner table though and it is about pushing yourself to go beyond the norm and order something you wouldn’t normally try. 

I am really happy that I have had the opportunity to write this letter for a chance to win a Gourmand’s Dream Trip to New York City. It’s been great to reflect on the past four years and think about some pivotal experiences that have in one way or another shaped my life. I love the London food scene and New York City’s is just as incredible. It would be an exciting opportunity to explore some of your favourite restaurants in the city, get out of my comfort zone and try something new.

Thank you for reading about my road to food discovery! Now, I’d love to hear about yours.

Cheers,

Colleen

 

American Gal in London

This is my first link-up post and one that really resonated with me when I read Angie’s post about how home is where the heart is. I am originally from the US and moved over to London permanently in December 2014. Growing up, I lived all over the USA – I was born in Iowa, moved to Kansas, then over to Georgia, spent six years in California, followed by my teenage years in New Jersey, and finally back to Kansas again!

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 13.02.33Everybody always asked me growing up if it bothered me to move so much, but quite honestly it was the best experience to have as I was exposed to all sorts of different people from unique backgrounds and cultures. Living in different areas of the US – West Coast, East Coast, Midwest, South, etc, allowed me to grow up with an open mind about different cultures and instilled a sense of wanderlust from a young age. You become more adaptable to various situations. It was also wonderful to be able to see so many cool parts of the US and it truly shaped me into who I am today.

The US will always be my home and specifically Kansas, but when I studied abroad in London in 2012, it captured a part of my heart and made feel as though it was where I belonged. A feeling I had never had before of pure clarity, as in “this is where I belong, this feels like home.” 

10352382_10202264826445363_4425772004461568387_nWhen I studied abroad in 2012, there were so many exciting events happening in London – the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee, to be specific, and it was truly one of the best summers I’ve ever had. I had never really ventured outside of the US before and it was fantastic to be exposed to even more cultures from all over the world. I felt as if I had found myself in this melting pot of unique individuals with both similar interests and not-so similar interests who I learned from. I also made some life-long friends while I was here and connected really well with so many people.

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 13.01.00I loved that there was never a dull moment – from concerts in the park, to food festivals, lectures and talks, museums, pop-ups, history, architecture, easily accessible travel, etc. London is truly one of the most spectacular cities in the world and one that I believe is so easy to fall in love with. I went back to Kansas to finish school and was left with a bit of a deflated feeling. Not that Kansas City isn’t awesome, I absolutely love it there too, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

ciaran and colleenFast forward a couple of years, I got engaged to a Londoner and made the move across the pond to live here for good. I have lived in several other states and cities and while all of them are great in their own ways, none felt truly like home as London does to me. I really believe that home is where the heart is and I’m so fortunate to live in a city that I love with the person that I love! London is fabulous for thousands + reasons, the people, cultures, food, the positive energy and vibrancy, but I think perhaps one of the top reasons I love this city is for how inspiring it is. Everyday, I am continually inspired by different aspects of this city’s beauty and I have found my true self here. Do I miss Kansas City from time to time? Of course! There are definitely times I do get homesick and miss my mom and family to death, but at the end of the day there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than right here in London (rain or shine). IMG_7582Have you visited anywhere and fell in love with it (or someone there) that you considered moving there? Have you made the leap across the pond? What makes somewhere feel like home to you?

How to link up your post

Just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th July 2016) and add it to the link up widget found on Angie‘s, Jessi‘s, Mine or Polly’s blogs.

No real rules – just check out some of the other cool bloggers; tweet a few of the posts out to your followers that you think they will love and make a few comments here and there.

Lately | 22.05.17

PicMonkey Collage

Another week has flown by and I can’t believe it’s almost June. This past week was a bit more relaxed than usual. I met my friend Ayushi from the Foodie Diaries for a fantastic Hawaiian dinner at Black Roe, the new Poke restaurant in Mayfair and Ciaran and I had a BBQ feast at Shotgun in Soho this past Friday. For work, I took a few snaps of a couple new gin cocktails that will be launching at Mr Fogg’s Tavern in Covent Garden for World Gin Day on 11th June – each are infused with Butterfly Blue Pea Flowers to give them a gorgeous purple/pink hue (they taste great too!).

Other than indulging and trying out some new restaurants, we’ve been thinking a lot about our wedding and have officially decided on a date, which we’re both really excited about! I’ve been going through my older sister’s beautiful wedding photos to get some inspiration for our own. Exciting times ahead!

What have you been up to this week? Wishing you a wonderful and peaceful Sunday! x

Lately | 15.05.17

Happy Sunday! Today, I am lazing around my flat after one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in a long time. It was jam-packed with events but was a great week nonetheless! This is what I’ve been up to lately:

Eating: 

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I have become slightly addicted to Halloumi as of lately and can’t seem to get enough of it. Ciaran made this delicious Mediterranean-inspired salad with arugula (rocket), roasted peppers, tomatoes tossed in mixed herbs and olive oil, toasted pine nuts, and grilled halloumi drizzled with a bit of balsamic and lemon juice. So simple to make and absolutely delicious.

Events: 

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The new Humble Grape on Fleet Street is officially open and the PR company I work for headed up the launch. It was a brilliant event and the space is incredible. Humble Grape specialises in seeking out fantastic wines from relatively unknown vineyards from all over the world. We learned all about the origins of several different wines and the stories behind them are just as interesting as the wines themselves. It was great to know the history behind what we were drinking. Head here for a wine tasting or a date – you won’t be disappointed.

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We celebrated the Official Top Gun Day with 1980s-club Maggie’s at a private screening of the cult classic at the Cineworld on the Fulham Road. Everybody was gifted fighter pilot jumpsuits and aviators to rock during the film. We grabbed some Bacardi drinks and popcorn and sang along to Highway to the Danger Zone. Afterwards, we all headed to Maggie’s down the road and the Top Gun madness ensued. If you love the ’80s, definitely check out Maggie’s for a really fun night out – it’s one of the most fun clubs in London.

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On Friday, we headed over to the shiny new Kiehl’s shop on the King’s Road for the new store launch. Barts, the hidden speakeasy-style bar located in Chelsea, created Kiehl’s-inspired cocktails for the occasion and it was the ideal way to toast to the weekend. We all got skin consultations and had a look at all of the products. I bought a few new fabulous skin care products too that I’ll be sharing soon.

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On Saturday evening, we headed over to Cahoots’ 1st birthday aboard historic warship, HMS Belfast for a night of dazzling cocktails and swing. Everybody came dressed to impress in their 1940s-vintage best and it truly felt as if we had been transported back in time to post-war Britain. The ship itself is spectacular, with stunning views of The Shard, the Walkie Talkie building, the Gherkin and Tower Bridge. After enjoying champagne and 1940s-inspired rations, we headed below deck for live music and swing dancing. It was definitely a shindig not soon to be forgotten!

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Excited for: 

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My mom and sister have officially booked their tickets to come to London for the first time and I cannot wait. They are coming at the end of August and it’s one of the best birthday gifts I could ever ask for. I can’t wait to show them all around London and take them to some of my favourite spots. If you have any suggestions for where to take them, please let me know!

Planning: 

Next week, I am going to Black Roe, the new Poke restaurant with a few friends and having drinks at Mr Fogg’s Residence’s Botanical Terrace in Mayfair. It’s an ideal spot for drinks on a sunny day. I highly recommend checking it out!

Have a great rest of the weekend and thanks for reading x

A Toast to 2015

2015 has been the quickest year of my entire life and I don’t think I could have packed more in to one year than I did this year. It’s been an absolute whirlwind. It has been a year of many firsts and there have been many ups and downs along the way. At the end of 2014, I packed up my bags and traveled across the pond to live in London permanently with my fiancé. Speaking quite candidly, I hadn’t gauged just how hard it would be to leave the life I had established in Kansas City and leave some wonderful friends and of course my family. It was the most terrifying thing I have ever done to leave a lot of things and people that I loved to start over anew half way across the world. However, I am a firm believer that people grow the most when they are taken out of their comfort zone. My older sister had said to me, “Think of all the wonderful things you won’t be able to experience if you don’t go” and she was right.

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Focusing in on the positives, in 2015, I searched for a job and eventually secured a job, scoured London looking for flats to rent or buy and after more than a year, we have bought the perfect home in Clapham – good things come to those who wait. I travelled to New York City twice, once for my sister’s beautiful wedding and the other to be with my whole family on Thanksgiving, both of which were some of the best weeks of 2015. I made the plunge to start my blog and it has been incredibly rewarding and I’ve met some of my best friends through our love of food, travel and exploring London. I visited Cornwall for the first time with Ciaran and fell in love with the beautiful seaside town. I have grown incredibly close with my future in-laws and we’ve had countless good times over wine and cheese after a long day of work. The best highlight from 2015 though is the fact that I have had the opportunity to share and grow my life with my best friend.

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2015 was one of the hardest years yet, so much so there were times I was ready to wave the white flag and hike back to KC, but I am really glad that I didn’t because London truly feels like my home now and I can’t really imagine living anywhere else. Reflecting on it all, all of the good times have easily outweighed the bad and I’m really thankful for all of the new experiences I had in 2015.

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I am really excited to see what 2016 brings and I’m hoping that it goes by a bit slower than 2015! We’re moving into our new flat at the end of January and I’m really looking forward to it! We’re planning a few more holidays and weekend getaways for later in the year. We’re going to (hopefully) start planning our wedding for 2017. My mom is flying out to visit in the spring (woohoo!) My goals are to work on my photography skills and continue to write my blog. In a resolution to be a more positive and optimistic person, I think it’s essential to always have things to look forward to and I definitely think the best is yet to come in 2016.

What have been your highlights from 2015 and what are you looking forward to most in 2016?

Happy New Year to you and yours! Wishing you the best year yet. Cheers! x