Tuesday, 15 July 2014

USA: PLATE | Stowe, VT

PLATE, a china dish that frequents your kitchen cupboard and dining room table, or, Jamie's latest offering in Stowe, VT, a restaurant marrying the flavours of local Vermont with her healthy Californian heritage. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Thinking about lately | Fear

Some of the most exciting and life altering adventures I have experienced are those I have been most afraid of but continued on anyway. Perhaps then it should be fear itself that we should be most fearful of. For fear restricts us, controls us and limits us in the guise of keeping us safe. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2013. Life was but a dream.

13, such an unlucky number and yet 2013 delivered me one of the best years I have ever had. Quite a statement from somebody that had to leave NYC to come back to England, face unemployment until I found a new role and deal with a less than 24 hours lifestyle after a year of no sleep and lots and lots of crazy times. I’ll be sorry to see the back of 2013 but alas I must say goodbye.

2013, for me, was the product of my life in 2012 and what a fabulous end-result that was. The year prior, despite an unbelievable opportunity that should have left me reeling that 2012 was the best year of my life, was tumultuous to say the least. It was a year of the unknown, the unexpected, the unusual, the unsavoury, the unmissable, the unlucky, the unhappy and the unforgettable. It was a rollercoaster of situations and emotions that left me both euphoric and devastated, whilst painfully lonely. I reference one early start at my desk. I was in so early that the PATH train still stopped at Hoboken before heading to midtown. Sending frantic texts to my parents for them to call me. It was 6am and I was sobbing down the phone to them, making outlandish statements like ‘This isn’t for me…I think I need to come home…It’s not what I thought it would be…I feel so alone…I have no friends…I don’t trust anyone…I’m not being me…’ The last statement was true. I wasn’t being me, this wasn’t me. But I couldn’t tell you where I’d gone either. I couldn’t find her. Where was she?

Truth was, I still don’t know what the deal was. Maybe it was the speedy move to NYC, I did so in 10 days from being placed in my job and getting my visa. Perhaps I hadn’t mentally prepared myself? Perhaps it was the lack of sleep because of the demands from my job that no one else on my program seemed to have? Perhaps it was the quick recession into what felt like a return to University? Great at 19…not so cool at 27. Perhaps it was the shady behaviour of certain characters I met along the way?

There are many lines of thought that fall hand in hand with my bizarre behaviour that have been considered, debated and defined but quite frankly I’ll probably never really know. And then six months in to my year in New York, and eight months in to 2012, as if it were the climax of all my troubles, my nan passed away and I hit breaking point.

Time spent back in the UK, for the funeral, with friends that had known me for years and close family meant that upon my return to NY I felt refreshed. Was I still upset? Yes. Did I still face numerous shortcomings? Yes. But somehow I was better equipped to deal with all of them. I tried the whole ‘fake it until you make it routine.’ NY friends said I seemed different, I was happier, more excited, less stressed. I know that I wasn’t really any of those things. I still went through periods of deep loneliness, uncertainty and fear but I carried on bouncing and exclaiming terms like ‘boom’ and ‘yolo’ and ‘whatevs’ to disguise them.

As I bounded into 2013, I prepped myself to start living my life to the maximum in the first three months of the year, and my last three in NYC. Molo and I convened over cocktails at The Wayland in alphabet city that first Friday of January 2013 and declared that we were strong, powerful and motivated to be ourselves, do our own thing and ensure that every moment was filled with all the eccentric personality that NYC had to offer.

I was standing up for myself in a way I’d never done before. I wasn’t afraid of anyone or anything. I pushed my way into situations I wanted to be a part of simply because I wanted to be a part of them. I was ballsy (a statement I throw around a lot and is ridiculed by family often). I didn’t do anything I didn’t want to do. I was selfish. I was honest. I was present.
But come end of March this feisty version of myself didn’t depart as I did NYC. Perhaps my change of attitude had forced the breakage of a bad habit? Perhaps I’d learnt the meaning of life (although I couldn’t tell you what it was)?

Whatever the reason, I came to learn very quickly that I wasn’t the same person I was prior to New York and I definitely wasn’t the same person I was in 2012. Friends noticed too which was the best compliment I could ever receive from anybody this year. Not because they were unhappy with the person I was before, she is of course still there in lots of shades of my personality, but because she is simply happy all of the time and if she isn’t then she’ll sure as hell not stay that way for very long.

So why has 2013 been so epically fantastic?

Because subconsciously I carried all the lessons I didn’t realise I was learning in 2012, into 2013, and made my life better than I could have ever imagined, especially post-NYC.

I’ve learnt to trust my ambitions and instincts beyond those that influence my life. Sometimes the people you love and look up to are not always right, sometimes only you know what is right for you and who you are right now. From learning to say no, I’ve landed the perfect job for my aspirations and for everything I learnt in my role in NYC. For once I stuck to my guns and thank god I did.

I’ve made new friends, re-connected with old and developed my NY friendships.

I’ve taken that hunger for new and interesting things to do in New York, back with me to London. Now my weekends are never dull and I could never be accused of being stuck in a rut.

I’m my own person in every sense of the phrase and although I might not dress exactly how I used to (yes mum I know you hate that army shirt), I’m going to do it anyway because this is who I am right now and I’m going to embrace that because I’m young, so young, and I shouldn’t ever forget that no matter how many of my friends now have families.

On that note I’ve learnt to appreciate my path. I’m not on the same journey as you. Constant engagement and pregnancy announcements on my newsfeed don’t fill me with envy and sadness as they did pre-2013. It’s exciting for you and I hope someday for me too. But right now I am enjoying never-ending cocktail sessions, speakeasies, dinners, independence, partying, money and all the lack of responsibility that comes with being just me. One day, again I hope, it won’t be just me and I won’t be as free as I am right now and I never want to look back and think of all the times I could have been leading this crazy, interesting life, but instead I was dwelling over co-dependency and pro-creating. If I had got all of those things when my friends did I would never have gone to New York and that, quite frankly, is one scary concept.

I am moving outside of my comfort zones more so than I ever have. This year I signed up to my first marathon, taking place in 2014, which if you know me is laughable in itself. I hate exercise, I hate the gym and I am a terrible runner.  But I’m doing it, abroad, on my own and whilst attempting to achieve a 3hr 35min running time so that I can qualify for the Boston marathon the following year.

And to top 2013 off I am committing to something, which I only recently discovered I have struggled to do these past few years. I am currently in the most hellish house buying experience and it couldn’t be more exhilarating. If it doesn’t work out in 2014 then what an amazing learning curve and that’s the only attitude I can take with this absolute nightmare of surveyors, solicitors, estate agents and vendors.

Because that’s what this whole year has been about, attitude. Have it, change it, force it, whatever it takes. It’s you that has the power, I just had to realise that first.

So whilst there were moments of 2012 I despised and disappointment that I couldn’t have been more carefree in my year in NYC, I have to thank it and appreciate it with all my heart. Because 2013 wouldn’t have been anything without 2012.  They came as a package and whilst it would be nice to not have a 2012 rear it’s ugly head in future I couldn’t stay mad at it for long because I’ll always know that a 2013 will be right around the corner.

I don’t believe in resolutions but I do believe in a statement that you want to carry forward into the new year. An affirmation, a motto, a self-fulfilling prophecy. In 2012 it was ‘Work hard. Play hard. Love hard.’ In 2013 it was ‘In pursuit of magic. And more sleep’ and so after careful consideration I bring you my future…

2014. Focused. Fearless. Fortunate.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

NYC: Speakeasy | Shhh! Please Don't Tell!

The Shark and the Mezcal Mule at PDT, NYC
Please Don't Tell, or PDT to those in the 'know' is one of New York City's most infamous speakeasies. So infamous that reservations are practically non-existent.  In fact my roommate tried relentlessly for months, to no avail.  I somehow miraculously managed to bag myself a table for two on my first try and so here's an account as to how you can succeed too, why you should succeed and just what you should drink during your success. #Winning.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Thinking about lately | Stowe, VT - A snowy sanctuary

I've been keeping myself incredibly busy these last few months because as soon as I slow I become agitated. A quality I'm sure I've picked up from my year in New York. But yesterday I woke up craving the sweet snowy silence of Vermont. A long winding drive through Stowe Hollow. A maple iced coffee from the Black Cap Cafe. A leisurely and picturesque ski down the Toll Road. And an afternoon daydreaming by the cosy stove staring out at Mt Mansfield. I'm craving Stowe. Perhaps it's all the Christmas adverts that have suddenly begun, perhaps it's the promise of winter just around the corner. Or maybe it's the sudden influx of snowy pictures that Vermont are posting as the first flakes are beginning to fall. Whatever the reason, I wouldn't mind slowing if I was there right now.

*Image taken from Stowe Mountain Resorts facebook, view from the top of the Quad.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Thinking about lately | Getting all my ducks in a row

The last couple of years 'I need to get all my ducks in a row' has been a frequent phrase escaping my mouth.

I found it poignant and quite symbolic last Thursday that I took this photo...

I'm the most happy I've been for...well I can't even remember.  I have a sense of contentment and I am embracing life.

I really feel that indeed, my ducks are all very much in a row.  And I even have the picture to prove it.

Happy Monday Y'all!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Love | 40 Days of Dating

Thanks to the people at HelloGiggles I've been exposed to 40 Days of Dating.

Meet Tim and Jessie. 

These two designer friends are dating for 40 days to try and break their bad dating habits and they've invited us to join them on the ride.

Jessie falls in love too quickly and expects too much too soon...sound familiar?

Tim is a commitment-phobe.

New Yorkers by choice, this project is brimming with NYC uniqueness.  There's something about the city that instills this kind of crazy 'I can do anything' mentality.  And seeing it in typeface on their site makes me realise how I need to try my hardest everyday to keep this mentality with me, even though I am so far away.

I've been sat here for the last hour catching up on their 40 days.  I'm on day 11 so far and have discovered the following...

1. I'm loving the insight into their daily lives not just because of their interesting journey they've embarked on but also because of references to a not-so-average NYC daily life with pit stops at familiar places to me along the way.  Just seeing 39th street or the Village referenced makes my heart skip a beat.

2. Tim's video he sent Jessie on day 8 made me grin as much as I'm sure she did.  It felt a little like I was in my very own rom-com and I suddenly had to remind myself that: TIM DID NOT SEND THIS VIDEO TO ME!

3. Apparently he's ended up dating a fair few girls he's met in Whole Foods in the last six years.  This made me a, wonder why I never met anyone in the Union Square Whole Foods in the last year and b, I should probably try and shop in the Piccadilly Circus one more often.

*Image taken from 40 Days of Dating

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

LDN: Star Spangled Banners | Independence Day Events

If you're craving a slice of home or you just love all things stars and stripes, just because we're not in the USA doesn't mean that there aren't a host of Independence Day events taking place this Thursday.  If you're going to be in NYC this week then head on over to yesterday's post, in which I outline my party picks for July 4th.  If you'll be LDN based then read on...

It's not Nathan's and it's not Coney Island but in true New Yorker style you could partake in this Dog eating contest at the Blues Kitchen, Camden.

Or maybe ribs are more your thing?

Liquid connoisseur?  The White Horse at Parsons Green should be frequented for their American Beer Festival....Brooklyn Brewery anyone??

Speaking of Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bowl is closed in NYC but Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes are very much open this 4th of July for LDNers.  Okay, okay, not an event per se but hark back to your Brooklyn roots nonetheless.

Speaking of non-events...this isn't one either BUT if you're looking for an American way to spend your Independence Day in LDN then look no further.  Bubble Dogs is quite frankly the most unique LDN eating digs there are.  They are soooo New York.  So clink your glass of champagne in celebration and chow down on their Fourth of July dog.

Finally, promising a Coney Island-esque event, Dime Bar & Diner in Clapham are offering "Coney Island Dawgs", themed cocktails and American craft beers.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

NYC: Star Spangled Banners | Independence Day Events

If you're a New Yorker then this week means there's some public holiday lovin' right around abouts Wednesday afternoon, through 9am Friday.  It is of course the USA's famous holiday of independence on Thursday!

Last year we laid low and chilled in Hoboken, NJ where we lived, dipping in and out of bars such as Scotland Yard, a British themed establishment but we made sure we did it US stylee with numerous games of beer pong.  We completed our day's independence from work with the Macy's 4th July fireworks, which are synonymous with the holiday in NYC.  The perfect view could be had from Pier A Park in Hoboken, albeit no musical display could be heard, with the big lights and obtrusive but beautiful structures of Manhattan outlining our backdrop to the sparkling bursts of themed lights above.  It was also decidedly more successful than when I saw these same fireworks back in July 2004, in which both myself and my friend ended up with ash in our eye.  Yay - result 2012!

I wish I'd done more but there's nothing I can change about that now, so instead I've compiled a list of what I consider to be some of the most rockin' events for this Thursday's Independence day in NYC!  So, whether you're a native New Yorker or a tourist for the day, see my selection by borough.

It wouldn't be Independence Day if there wasn't a bunch of fast-foodies in one of New York's famous beach resorts chortling down as many hot dogs as they can mustar-d! Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island is a holiday ritual that's been shocking and amazing onlookers since 1972. 68 dogs were scoffed by last years winner Joey Chestnut, so if you've qualified for the contest then you've got your work cut out for you...

...And if you're planning on hitting up Coney Island but still want to see some fireworks then get yourself down to Coney Island's MCU park.  There'll be a "beers of New York" beer gardem, entertainment, activities and more, with 4th of July fireworks to complete!

Quirky movie theater, Nitehawk, is famed for it's comfortable viewing style, offbeat film choices and it's fun spin on it's food and drink accompaniments. I'm still distraught that I didn't make their Halloween session, thanks Sandy, but they've got an American classic this week with a matinee showing of much loved Jaws (1975) on July 4th. Settle down for this USA oldie but goodie with their Shark Bite cocktail and an Amity hot dog (with homemade beer mustard - wowee!)


If you're too lazy to leave Manhattan then the Iron Horse, in the Financial District, is holding their annual block party.  Grab a picnic table, play some games and stuff your face with some all-American goodness, hot dogs, burgers and pig-roast are all free but you're encouraged to leave a donation to support the Wounded Warrior Project.


Not made it to Brooklyn's finest pizza palace, Roberta's?  Take your chance now as they're hosting a USA themed event in honor of 4th July at the Knockdown Center, Queens.  They'll be joined by fellow American taste-makers and NYC based bands to celebrate everything America! 

Staten Island
Historic Richmond Town could not be further removed from the contemporary skyscrapers of Manhattan.  Join them for a colonial-esque afternoon, with quirky activities such as pie-baking contests, to churning old fashioned ice cream.

The Bronx
Yo people of the Bronx!  Where it at?  If you know some awesome happenings in the area please comment below...I came up with zilch!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Housekeeping | To ELLE and Back... Google Reader's bye bye so come find me on Bloglovin

Just a small matter of housekeeping guys.  If you happen to get updates from me via Google Reader and would still like to hear from me from time to time then, as you may already know as the blogosphere is alive with these posts, Google Reader goes bye bye tomorrow, 1st July.  Bloglovin seems to be the replacement of choice so I'm going to let these guys explain it better to you.

I look forward to reaching you via bloglovin, thanks for reading and your continued support.  Some exciting posts coming up this week so I hope not to lose you to this switch over.

Big love!
Louisa xx
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