Wednesday, 26 November 2008


Today I took a short course about jewellery at my favourite museum in London, the Victoria & Albert Museum. Talk about bling - I got to handle some gems that would make any gansta rapper say 'daayaam!'

I learned a few practical tips for caring for your own sparklies:

a. most metals can be cleaned simply with mild soap and water, away from a drainhole of course, and even a bit of saliva will do!

b. do not store your metals and gems in oak or beech boxes - the gases from the woods will ruin them eventually. Instead store them in something polyester or in special bags you can purchase at jewellery shops.

Did you know:

That even real gold tarnishes?

That pearls do not get shinier with more wear?

That most rubies are naturally a purplish colour but are heated to give it the pink/red shine we normally see in the shops?

Don't quote me on these since I can barely decipher my handwriting from the notes I took and I have an awful memory. Check the V&A jewellery website for more info.

If you are ever in London and want to see some of the most beautiful jewellery ever made, then come to the V&A. The William and Judith Bollinger Jewellery Gallery is absolutely stunning. Below are a few of my favourite pieces. They aren't really my style, meaning I wouldn't seriously wear any of them, but I appreciate their history and they sure are fun to look at.

Brooch Gold and enamel brooch in the shape of a flower and hornet / Designed by Charles Desrosiers / Made by Georges Fouquet Paris, France1901
Pendant with ship / Aachen, about 1860 / Made by Reinhold Vasters (1827-1919) and Alfred André (1839-1919) Gold with enamel and pearls
Bodice ornament / Probably England, about 1850 / Brilliant-cut and rose-cut diamonds set in gold
Top of entry / Breast ornament / Probably France, about 1620-30 / Gold with enamel and table-cut and faceted point-cut diamonds

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Marylebone Farmers Market

Doing the local thing again this Sunday at the Marylebone Farmers Market on Cramer Street. For my American readers, Marylebone is apparently pronounced mah-ruh-lee-bone, said quickly. I'll try to spell out the other nonsensical English names in later posts. We happily walked in the cold and rain to this local gem to buy fresh produce like kale, tomatoes, oyster mushrooms and pink fur apple potatoes (no, they're not really furry). We also got some fresh crab from Cromer (pronounced crew-mer, north coast of the U.K.) and hake fish. 

And then we cooked all this stuff and ate it. 

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Fitzrovia, Fitzrovia

2nd weekend flat-sitting on Warren Street in an area known as Fitzrovia. The Husband and I spent the day doing things around the neighborhood, giddy with the thought that we were true (but temporary) locals. 

1. An autumnal stroll through Regents Park. There were still a few resilient flowers at Queen Mary's Gardens and quite a lot of fragrant roses - beds and beds of roses with names like 'Belle Epoque', 'Renaissance' and 'Thinking of You.' What would you name a rose? I like the sound of something like  'Shaniqua.' 

2. Oohed and aahhed at colourful fish at the aquarium shop. My favourites: the lazy looking purple tang and the venomous lion fish. Bubble, bubble. Roar. 

3. Mexican Wedding cookies at a bakery/resto called Villandry on Great Portland Street. Dee-licious! I'm going to consult Nigella Lawson about a good recipe. 

4. A bit of childish fun at Pollock's Toy Museum. This charming, old toy shop goes way back - before WWII I believe. I don't really dig kids but I sure dig toys made for kids and fun for adults too - i.e. kaleidoscopes, music boxes, and Pollock's specialty: paper theatres.

5. To end the day we cooked a humble dinner at the flat, played with the moggy Ed and commiserated about the rising costs of real estate. If you think it's bad in America, a 272 square ft. studio flat in this neighborhood and in many parts of London, can set you back, waaay back,  $455,000. Help us, Obama. 

Monday, 10 November 2008

waltz with bashir

Last night I watched the animated film Waltz with Bashir. It's about Israeli participation in the Lebanon war and the perils of memory. I really dug the graphic design - fresh and vivid, like Persepolis. A Q&A with the artistic director followed the film. The audience was a bit uneasy and emotional but they all had a lot to say. I don't have many strong convictions, but I think war is bad bad bad. 

Saturday, 8 November 2008

warren street

For the next three weeks I'll be flat/cat-sitting on Warren Street for my friend Vic. I normally live in a suburb in North London 20 minutes from the city centre, but now I'm living seconds from the urban madness. I can walk to work in twelve minutes. The relief of not having to take public transportation during the busiest hours is this city girl's dream come true.  I can breathe! Except for when I have cat hair stuck down my throat. Yuck. 

Thursday, 6 November 2008

two to the six

Today I turned twenty-six. I've decided to take a mug shot every birthday from now on. If I get really old, it'll be hilarious to look back on it all...

Pic to be posted soon. 

Monday, 3 November 2008

Seattle <--> London

At the last PRBC (punk rock book club) gathering someone asked me what it's like living in London as an American. Well, these days i don't have many answers, but I can answer this one:

London is a big ass city with tons of people from all over the world. Being a foreigner is common here. When I walk around I don't think 'by golly shucks where can I get a slurpee?' I eat kebabs and run after buses just like everyone else. The only thing that identifies me as an American is my accent, which some people have mistaken for Canadian anyway, and sometimes my 'friendly' and 'open' manner, which has offended the 'conservative' English.

Should this blog be about my life as an expat? Since I'm from Seattle should this blog be a friendly battle of Seattle v. London? What do you think readers?

This Seattle print is by artist Nate Duval. It fills me with nostalgia. I think his stuff is fantastique! He also makes tee-shirts and posters. Check out his blog and website.

The London Town print up top is by the ladies behind 'Delicate Mayhem'. I know it's a bit hard to see, so you have to come to London and see it for reals. They definitely know how to capture the craziness of urban living. Check out more of their cool work here.