Saturday, June 18, 2016

London Town - Part Two

A great way to start off the day is a visit to Westminster Abbey, Parliament and Big Ben.  I'm a fan of the London Eye (and I don't like heights), it's pricey but a fun way to see all around London.  You can take a walk around St. James park to stop by Buckingham Palace (through July there is Changing of the Guard every day at 11:30 am).  And a walk through Green Park on to my favorite department store, Fortnum & Mason (a smaller classier version of Harrods) located on Piccadilly.  It's a wonderful place to have high tea or get food gifts.  My personal favorite is their lemon curd.  And the window displays are amazing. Right next door is the largest Cath Kidston store.  This is a great place to get gifts, and if you don't at the flagship store, there will be one at Heathrow Terminal 4. Past F&M you will see St. James church with craft booths called Piccadilly Market.  It's small but I've bought several gifts there.  Next door is a nice bookstore, Waterstone.

Next up is Piccadilly Circus and then go left to Regent St.  Lots of good browsing including Hamleys (toys) and then make a right at Great Marlborough Street for Liberty of London.  They have a great paper goods shop on the first floor and great fabrics on the 5th floor. I saw Usher there once. They have a wonderful Christmas shop starting in October.  Another great store for shopping is John Lewis on Oxford St.  They also have a great store at the airport.
Liberty of London

Covent Garden is a fun place to shop and eat, especially on the weekends.  You can pick up theater tickets in Leicester Square.  My favorite is Phantom of the Opera but we recently saw The Book of Mormon, which was hilarious. 

I like to stop in at Marks & Spencer (the grocery store) to pick up some lemonade and room munchies.  I think its fun to go to a local grocer to see the selection.  Boots is the local drugstore, I like to get a little bit of make up or lotion there, as a reminder of my trip.

For museums, I love the British Museum (it's located in a neighborhood so get good directions) and Victoria & Albert museum. 

The London Underground is the best way to travel around the city by buying an oystercard when you get there and topping it up, if needed. Their Plan a Journey page is a valuable tool. Be aware that many of the tube stations have long steep escalators - not my personal favorite but I take a deep breath and jump on.  And if you travel during rush hour, hold your purse close to you at all times.  Don't make eye contact with anyone and for heaven's sake, wear dark colored shoes.  American's stick out like a sore thumb when they talk loud and wear white "trainers" or worse, sandals!

Best way to come into London from Heathrow is the high speed train, Heathrow Express.  It is easy to find and a quick 15 minute trip, ending at Paddington Station.  Buy your ticket from an agent or the box, it's cheaper than while on the train.

Best way to get English currency is when you arrive, through an ATM.  Be sure and let your bank know you are traveling internationally (most banks have an online form you can complete) so they won't lock down your account when it is being used in London.
The English love to make up pet names for each other and their buildings too.  Here you see the Walkie Talkie, Cheese Grater and the Gerkin.  Across the river (not shown) is the Shard.  You will be tested on this when you arrive at the airport.  Just joshing.

I've had the good fortune to be on the top floor of the Walkie Talkie and taken photographs of each vista.  Click on the photo and you can see the London Eye in the distance and St. Paul's Cathedral straight ahead.

At night, you should walk across the Millennial Bridge and take a photo of both sides of the river. 

That's what comes to mind when going to London.  Seems like I do a lot of shopping, huh?  I'm going to do another post about a must-do visit to the town of Windsor, where HRH the Queen spends her weekends. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

London Town

I work in the insurance business, where you buy insurance in the London market (Lloyd's) and have had the good fortune to need to visit the city a few times each year.  It is one of my favorite cities in the world and I thought I would share some of my favorite places.  This may need to be two posts!

Lodging - we normally stay near Lloyd's in the insurance district at the Andaz or Doubletree near the Tower of London.  I've also rented a flat just north of there in Hoxton through Airbnb at $125/night.  I've also used Priceline's "name your price" for a 4-star hotel in Mayfair for about the same price. 

Shopping Markets - my favorite is Old Spitalfields Market, which is near the insurance district.  It's open air but covered consisting of market stalls (awesome crafts) and shops and plenty of places to have tea or sweets.  I've found great gifts at Inspitalfields and great fish and chips at a little joint called Poppies on Hanbury St. You can spend an entire afternoon exploring the market.  I also like to have a simple dinner our first night at Wagamama, which is a chain restaurant with Japanese noodle dishes.  Or go fancy at Chamberlains.  Spitalfields market is open 7 days a week. 

Just north of Spitalfields you'll find converted railcars turned into small shops at Boxpark in Shoreditch.  It's a funky area with amazing graffiti and you'll feel just a tad nervous, but don't be.  Keep going north/east to Columbia Road and an amazing little stitching shop owned by Jessie Chorley.  She's very talented and a joy to visit.  I also enjoy her Instagram posts.  Be sure and pop your head into all the little shops on the road, there's a few resale shops and a garden shop.   

Sweetest shop - look at the Steiff dog on wheels!

If you've got a free Friday morning, head south across the Tower Bridge for Bermondsey antique market.  It starts at 6am and fun for the search.  At first look it may seem pricey but keep looking.  It's also fun to walk back across the bridge and snap a few photos of the black taxis or red double decker buses on the bridge. 

I've never made it over to Borough Market which is on the same side of the bridge, just west of Bermondsey.  It's a food market and a lot of people rave about it, I've just never made it there.  If you've been there, do you like it and would you recommend it?

And while we're on this side of town, an interesting excursion is taking the boat down to Greenwich where the world's clock is set (Greenwich Mean Time) - you can stand in two time zones.  It's a sweet little town, nice to walk around with a small crafts market, a maritime museum and the Cutty Sark.  The boat can be caught at the Tower of London where you will ride down the Thames river to Greenwich and then up the river to Westminster and Big Ben and the London eye.  It's a very enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.

If we're talking about antique markets and London, of course we have to talk about Portobello, with market day on Saturday.  I don't care what anyone says, you should go and see it.  Yes, it's expensive.  Yes, it's crowded.  And you really should experience it, at least once.  Take a look-see in some of the brick & mortars. There's a vendor that sells printers blocks and trays - my hearts desire!  Start as early as 8 am and walk the entire street.  Stop at Biscuiteers and Cath Kidston for a look-see (but buy at the large store on Picadilly - later post).  Have some breakfast at Mike's cafĂ©, across from Notting Hill Bookstore.  Or eat from the street vendors.  Just experience it! And keep walking on Portobello, past the crowd until you get to the vendors that lay their wares on the ground.  Now you may find something you must have. 

I'll come back this week with more London shopping suggestions. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Have You Been There?

Today I rediscovered an awesome store in central Houston near River Oaks.  Tell me if this looks familiar and that you've been there?  It's like visiting London, Paris, Italy, NYC all in one store! I saw products from all of these locations while I was there.  I was so surprised, as they recently expanded and have even more amazing gifts and lovelies.  I loved these sock animals, especially the pink cat on the right. 

Next I came upon their Maileg displays, which of course, I love. 
Maileg is a Danish company started by Dorthe Mailil.  I fell in love with it a few years ago when I saw it on Nanacompany blog and then recently, at my friend, Tove's house. 

Little did I know I could find it in Houston! I recently purchased some of their characters online from My Sweet Muffin.  I have two prams, a bed and ironing board (here's the bed and a pram). 

Okay, I got off subject, back to the store.  They have an adorable pet section, with plenty of choices.  I love this display rack. 
I couldn't quite capture in this photo how great the pet display is, with the two elephants and then animal heads on the wall.  You will have to go see it for yourself.

Aren't these dishes adorable!

The store displays are a designer's delight, full of inspiration and absolutely unique with huge signs everywhere.  Where do they get this stuff?  Do they make it?

The Traveler section will make a Texan proud with its Catstudio pillows and glasses.  See that sign?  It says Round Top Inn... Tourists Rooms Meals.  Way cool. 

I remember seeing these assemblage dolls at Bloomingdale's in NYC in 2010.  They are stunning, look at the details.  I'm a big fan of John Derian's decoupage trays.  I always say I'm going to buy one but somehow walk out of the store without one.

These soaps caught my eyes, they are just beautiful.  They were next to some lotions and potions from Italy.  I even saw the soap I purchased in Tuscany last year at this store...

These statues are amazing, and I only captured a few of them.

And if you know a flamingo fan, there was plenty of merchandise to select...

Although this one had a strange looking baby in it... I had to shoot from the other side.  The face is freeeeeaky!

The final display I'll show are these cute coasters.  A good laugh.

So, tell me.  Have you been to Kuhl-Linscomb lately?  It's owners are Dan and Pam Linscomb.  It's a great shop that provides inspiration and great gifts.  I didn't leave empty-handed and I will definitely be back. 

Friday, February 06, 2015

Project Show & Tell

Long time, no speak.  Here are a couple of projects I recently finished that I thought you might enjoy and I hope inspire you.  I LOVE Pinterest and was inspiration by this purse organizer made from a place mat.  I found two singletons in my kitchen and made these:

It is a simple process of folding the place mat long-ways (what some folks call hot-dog style) towards the middle and then adding a colored hair tie to one side and a button on the other side.  Sew the button on first (obviously - which I didn't the first time!)  And then sew straight lines based on the measurements of your purse contents. I just eyeballed it.  Fold it over & slip the hair tie around the button and you can start filling it up. With the black one I made a few pockets too tight so for the yellow one (summer style) I made sure they were wider.  The middle can hold larger items, like my hand sanitizer and mints.  I just grab it firmly when I'm lifting it out of my purse.  It such a great idea - I love not having to dig in my purse for a pen or whatnot.  
The second project was actually an original idea  Imagine that!  These hangers are available at The Container Store for $8 and I thought it would be cute to add the baby's monogram to each side.  I searched through my alphabets for the right size and color and attached - some were stickers, others I used Beacon's 3-in-1 craft glue.  I love that stuff and use it on everything.  Container Store also have zoo hangers - I thought these were cuter.  The note was chipboard that I covered with baby paper and inked the sides.  I thought about adding pink ric-rac to the top, but didn't go overboard. 

I have a couple more projects on the board for the weekend.  I'll post as soon as I finish them.  Thanks for looking.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Hello there!  I've had problems with uploading my photos on Blogger and I finally solved it by changing to Firefox.  I know, its almost a year later.  Whew - I have alot to say!  I've spent the past year making banners with my next door neighbor (Hi Kathy!) and learned a few things along the way, that I thought I'd share.  Technically its a rosette banner, like this:


Banner Instructions:

Select patterned paper or cardstock and cut 1.5" x 12" strips.  Each rosette will be one and a half of the 12" strips or 18" (minus 2 cuts - explained in a minute).  I use a Scor-Pal and score every half-inch.  Combine 1.5 strips by cutting off one score on each end of the short 6" piece - that will make attaching the ends to the 12" piece in sync (i.e. peaks and valleys will match up).  Attach with a hot glue gun and hold 15 seconds.  Make the rosette by flattening the 17" piece and add a small scrap of chipboard to the front and back (for stability).  This will take a little practice and you have to "work" with the rosette.  The center hole should be small, almost tiny.   
Print your letters (OH BABY) either in MS Word or using Martha Stewart's alphabet found here on white cardstock.  If you're using Word, change the font size to 155 and pick a nice clean font like Arial Black and allow enough space between letters to punch using the Marvy Mega scalloped circle punch.  You can decorate the punched letter different ways:  1)  rub some diamond stickles over the black letter.  Do this at the very end of the project 2)  drag different colored stamp pads across the edge and the surface of the punched cardstock - to match the rosette (patterned paper) 3) for the font,  print only an outline and color the inside with colored pencils - to match the rosette.  You can also add stickle dots on the scallops - again at the end of the project.  Attach the letters to the rosette with a glue gun. 
I use a grosgrain 1/4 inch ribbon to string the sign and attach it using two staples from Tim Holtz tiny attacher at the top of the rosette.  This takes some practice and will feel awkward the first 20 times - trust me.  Leave enough ribbon to hang from the ends.  I use a piece of cardboard as a spacer between each rosette. 
It really would be easier for me to do a youtube video but I've never done one so I've tried to be as explicit as possible - its all been learned through trial and error.  I first attached everything using redline tape and that just got expensive and didn't hold perfectly.  I've made a ton of these - its a nice gift for a girl's bedroom, especially if their name is unusual.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September Ketchup

At the end of August, I had the chance to attend Oprah's Lifeclass in Dallas with Bishop T.D. Jakes as the teacher.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I was on the fifth row and going to ask a question, but they ran out of time.  Disappointing, yes but I had such a great weekend that the disappointment lasted 2 seconds.  I also had a fabulous dinner at The Porch the night before. 
Found these baby shoe molds in Canton
Since I hadn't been to Dallas in a while, I wanted to check out the square in old McKinney and made my way north as soon as the show finished taping.  I had a great time checking out the shops and actually ran out of time, because I wasted time eating!  I fell in love with Happiness is Quilting - lots of beautiful 30s reproduction fabrics.  They're famous for their Dutch chintz and she had plenty of it.  I loved the look at Ambrosia and spent some time at Homepieces talking to the owner.  She has a gorgeous piecrust mirror that I wanted but walked away.  Now I'm obsessed with piecrust mirrors (scallop) - hopefully I will see one at Round Top this week.  Another very cool and trendy place was Patina Green - loved looking at their shop.  Take a look at their blog and tell me if you don't agree.  Awesome. 
On Friday I headed over to Canton for First Monday, something else I haven't done in a while.  If you've never been to Canton, it is something to see - prices are good and there is plenty to see.  I found some goodies but it was absolutely too hot and after a couple of hours I rented a scooter so I could get around and see everything.  I found 4 wooden shoe molds, some typewriter keys, printer blocks and small insulator knobs (great for box feet). 
There was something new at Canton that I haven't seen before - LauraAnna's, an amazing shop down the street, towards I-20.  It's vintage meets new, if that makes sense.  I bought some papers, a clear plastic milk carton/creamer and dog creamer.
I spent the night in Gun Barrel City (eat at Hector's) and headed over to Waxahachie the next morning.  And boy, am I glad I had the opportunity to spend the entire day there because there was alot to see!  Obviously, I was going to Crafty Scrapper - one of the best scrapbook stores in the world with the largest stash of May Arts ribbon.  Next month Paula Cheney will be teaching three classes and I'm going to miss that, boo hoo.  Next door is the Dove's Nest and I finally got to eat at the tea room - something that has never happened before.  The chicken salad was yummy.  I started, however, at Cozee 's Little Cottage on the next street and found a TON of stuff that I love, and I bought some of it too!  See below.  A red rimmed enamel cup, baby shoes, cutter quilts, a book and two Dutch figurines - and that's only part of it.  They had great displays and there wasn't much in the store that I wasn't attracted to!  You know, sometimes how a place just speaks to you. 
They suggested that I go over to the Red Barn (one street over) early since it isn't air conditioned and I'm so glad I did.  I found this beauty sitting on a bench and when the girl said $10, I couldn't run fast enough to grab her.  She is really big and yes, the bottom of her shoe is missing some paint but she is perfect otherwise.  I love her and don't think I'll sell her - she's huge. 

So, long story short, I made my way until about 5 pm up and down the streets of downtown Waxahachie and had a good time doing it.  It was Labor Day weekend so I still have two days at home to unpack and enjoy my new playthings.  The End.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Junking July

A couple of weeks ago I went up to The Woodlands for CKC, a scrapbook convention in order to work with Cheryl Mezzetti at the Splash of Color booth.  I thought it would be fun.  And it was but man, oh man - it was a lot of work, standing on your feet the whole time.  Definitely something I'm not used to doing. The saving grace was that I got to hang out with one very cool chick, Cindy.  She worked too (because I signed us up for this craziness) and so we laughed about it together.  I don't think she's going to listen to any more of my cockamamie ideas. Yeah, oh well.  Here's the product I got for working those two days:  some Silks paints and modeling cream and other goodies.  We also got paid but there just isn't enough money for me to do that again. 
Yesterday we traveled to Fort Bend County Fairgrounds for Junk Hippy Roadshow.  My first time there and while I did find some good stuff, it was not enjoyable and we were out of there within an hour.  It was super crowded with small aisles and sticky hot even though it was inside.  They allowed strollers/carts and it just wasn't enjoyable.  Want to see what I found?   My favorite find was a vintage quilt for $45.  I just love the colors and its in great condition.  Also picked up two trays - I already painted and papered the bottom home turquoise in order to hold my washi tapes.  The other tray I'll use for my little bits.  I just went through them last weekend and put them in a couple of plastic cases but I think this will be nice to have some laid out.  It has the months of the year across the top - not sure what it was used for.  And the prayer is just so adorable, made of burlap in pinks and blues.  I just love it.
From the top left is a sweet English biscuit tin (good to hold treasures), a couple of scoops - I'm not sure why I wanted the galvanized one but the wood/metal one is cool.  Loved the vintage quilt teddy bear - he's a bit worn but I couldn't leave him.  The ticking fabric is a small remnant and a couple of linen pieces - the circles will be good to cut up.  The other white piece will make an excellent fabric book cover. 
After that we headed south/west to Glenflora and the Glenflora Emporium, where I always find something good.  I still have to thank Sandy Hoho for telling me about that place.  And then over to Wharton (which is right across the road) with of course, a stop at Bucee's for a cold drink and some beef jerky.
In Wharton we walked into a junk shop that had a bad mold smell and I was wondering how long I could stay but then it faded.  I saw these baby bed pieces and she said $5 each!  And the other baby bed had a price tag of $85 so I passed it up but when I asked, she didn't have the rails so she said $10 each.  Now, tell me - aren't they perfect chalkboard signs... We saw several at JH.
And finally, I love this blog (nanacompany) and really do want to start quilting and sewing more when I look at her gorgeous handiwork.  After one blog hop (which I cannot find now!), I saw this fabric and fell for it so I had to order it.  It's called Petal by Tanya Whelan and I got it from Shabby Fabrics.  I also saw some gorgeous French map fabric (Paris Flea Market) there that I had wanted to order previously and, so I did.  In two different colorways - blue and pink.  The little heart piece is hand stitched, I found that at Glenflora.  I figured it would make a sweet book cover on a fabric book.  Loved the shape of the flower frog ($1) and the glass piece  I don't know what those are but I have two of them.  I also found some chippy wood pieces at Glenflora and a nice small strainer at JH. 
We also made our way to Rosenberg and had a great hamburger at Another Time Soda Fountain and then we called it a day.  Whew - a long day, that started at 8 and ended at 5... It was so nice to hang out with Cindy and do what we love to do best! 
And now the fun starts.  This weekend is a scrapping weekend with the girls at Camp Allen, a place near Navasota - my first time there.  Cindy said there's scorpions.  Dammit.  And the following weekend is a plane ride to Baltimore and a visit with Megan and some work after that.  But on Thursday, Cindy and I are headed to southern Louisiana, a plantation and some good times at the inaugural Southern Craft Academy.