Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas!

The holiday season has officially kicked off and London is arguably one of the best places to be during this time of year. 

James and I eased ourselved into the holidays a few week-ends ago by visiting both of the capital's major Christmas markets.  We started with a visit to the Hyde Park Christmas Wonderland.  Christmas has literally vomitted tinsel and twinkly lights all over the park and it is AMAZING!

We stuffed ourselves full of burgers, mulled wine and lots of sugar while checking out the market stalls.  We followed this up to a visit to the Southbank Christmas Market on Sunday with some friends where we continued to stuff ourselves with mulled wine and amazing food.

First mulled wine of the season, happy Christmas!
Cheese stuffed sausages are DELICIOUS things!

Chimney Cakes = a perfectly reasonable choice for breakfast

Last week we really kicked into high gear with a very festive Saturday which involved picking out a very small but very expensive christmas tree, making a batch of mulled wine and baking up, christmas cookies and shortbread to bring to the first christmas party of the season.  As I write this Wembley just took a topple from the top of the tree...silly muppet!

We're really looking forward to coming home in a few weeks to see everyone and celebrate Christmas at home! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Giving thanks

It's been a week since thanksgiving and I've had a chance to reflect on what I'm thankful for - aside from delicious leftovers.
James' thanksgiving masterpiece - definitely thankful for his cooking skills!
Thankful that this adventure didn't turn out to be a bust so I
didn't have to pack this all up again to bring it home!
I'm thankful that James and I took a chance and moved to Europe. Quitting our jobs, giving up our apartment, selling all our furniture and moving to a foreign country in the middle of a recession without any job prospects was a totally sane thing to do....yup we're nuts....and the beauty of hindsight is that we've only just realized this now!

I'm thankful for our families who have supported us over the past year with words of encouragement, a roof over our heads and a little extra money in our bank account when times got tight.

I'm thankful for all of our friends and family who have made the trip over and checked into Hotel Dixier. We've loved hosting each and everyone of you and wandering around Londontown together. For those of you who haven't visited yet, what are you waiting for?!

I'm thankful for the amazing group of friends we have collected since we've been here. We've reconnected with old friends and made new ones. I'm thankful for friends who will put up with us taking over their living room floor for six weeks while we get ourselves settled in London - M&S we are soooooooooooo thankful for the two of you!

Thankful for these two awesome people!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Back to blogging

Somehow the summer has slipped away and it's been two months since we've blogged. Lots has gone on since then - I've started my job with JDRF, ran a 5k race, we took a vacation to Amsterdam, visited family in Bristol and hosted an unending stream of visitors. Instead of a long blog post I'll just post some pictures of the highlights from the past few months.

Now that I'm setteld into the new job, blogging should return to it's (semi) regularly scheduled programming. There should be lots to blog about as we're finally buying furniture and decorating our flat, planning some mini-breaks in the next couple of months and hosting more visitors from Canada. We've also been busy exploring London and I have a few blog posts saved up about must see and do things in the city!

Thank you to everyone who donated, offered words of encouragement and cheered me on at the race. I ran the Adidas Women's 5k Challenge in 39 minutes and raised £110 in support of Mind.

Call me crazy but I'm thinking I might sign up for a 10k later this fall and a half marathon in the spring!
Whizzing by James at the 4k mark

Damien Hirst's 'Charity Girl' in Bristol

James, Rachel and Maxine on the Gorilla Trail in Bristol

Manchester comes to London - Matthew and I at the Serpentine Gallery

Canada comes to London - Mariangela, James and I
James, Val and Scott at the market in Amsterdam

James and I in Amsterdam
Lunch with the parentals in Covent Garden

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Help me help Mind

I've decided to give myself a challenge and signed up for the Adidas Women's 5k race this September.
I ran my first 5k last year in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and decided it was time to have another go at a race...and this year I actually plan to train for the event!

In order to participate, you are encouraged to fundraise in support of a charity and I have chosen to fundraise in aid of Mind. Mind is a mental health charity here in the UK that advocates for good mental health and provides vital services for people who experience mental distress. I had the opportunity to work for them for a short period of time - they do great work and are worthy of support!
You can sponsor me online at: - no donation is too big or too small!

To learn more about Mind and the work that they do and how the funds I raise will help make a difference, check out this short video: or visit their website at
Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


This past week-end James and I celebrated our years of being best friends and two years as co-pilots in global explorations...or husband and wife.

We celebrated by treating ourselves to dinner at Jamie Oliver's Italian. As Food Network obsessives we were giddy about finally getting to check out one of his restaurants and it did not dissapoint! We toasted the occasion with a few glasses of prosecco and dug into breaded cheese stuffed courgette flowers, cheese stuffed risotto balls, pasta carbonara, truffle risotto and a scrumptious chocolate brownie for dessert. Perfection!

While James was at work yesterday, I decided to get to work in the kitchen and surprise him by recreating our wedding cake. I baked up a small vanilla cake with lemon curd and raspberry filling and decorated it the way our cake was. I also presented him with a card in which I wrote lovely things and a bottle of prosecco to toast - all lovely gestures that I think are deserving of some sort of wife of the year award.
Exhibit A - Wife of the year handy work

James surprised me with this.........

Exhibit B - Proof that James might want to work on his literacy skills

Apparently he also surprised himself because he swears that when he bought it at the store it read 'I Love You' so he was a bit confused when he got home and went to sign it and especially embarrassed when he went to give it to me.

Happy birthday to the next year of our relationship and here's hoping it's just as great as the last seven have been!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

London as a Local - El Camion

One word - Nachos!

Our love for mexican food has been well documented in this blog. One of my favorite things to do in Toronto was head down Kensington market on a week-end and hit up any of the Mexican restaurants in the market. Whether it was Big Fat Burrito or one of the food counters in the back of the grocery stores or buying all the ingredients and making our own ultimate supreme best ever nachos at home, I was in my happy place. So when we discovered that one of the 1# rated restaurants on Portobello Road is a mexican joint, I was giddy. James had the chance to check it out when I was back in Canada and hadn't been able to stop talking about their nachos and burritos. A few week-ends ago we headed there with our friends Michelle and Sean to try it out.


A thing of beauty
They aren't  your standard tex mex nachos with the shredded lettuce, tomates, ground beef, etc. These are more like a nacho lasagna.

They are smothered in the most delicious queso and then topped with every type of dip you could want - guacamole, salsa verde, sour cream, red pepper salsa and black beans. Kudos for getting the queso all over the chips - the worst is ending up at the end of the plate of nachos with a whole bunch of dry chips and nothing left to dip them in.
We rounded off the meal with our favorite Portugese custard tarts....more on these later.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hi ho, hi ho it's off to work I go...

temporarily anyway....
After nearly 8 months of freelancing from the comfort of my sofa I'm officially heading back to the 9 to 5 grind.

I've just landed a temp position with a charity here in the city and I start tomorrow with them for three and half weeks. As fun as working in my pyjamas has been, I'm really looking forward to being in an office again and being around people during the day.

As I get ready to jump back into the workforce. I've been reflecting on my mini sabbatical and what I've done with the time. Aside from getting us settled into the life in the UK I have taken up a new hobby with knitting and gotten pretty darn good at it, read loads of books, done loads of sight seeing around England, started to learn German, brushed up on my piano playing skills, and just generally enjoyed the chance to take a little break.

The search continues on for a permanent job, but the temp position will be a great opportunity to get some UK experience, which is currently lacking on my resume and something that employers seem to be looking for.

Fingers crossed that it goes well!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The whirlwind month of May

This might be a long one since I haven't done a proper post in awhile besides my last post celebrating the fact that I got my Visa. While I was home in Canada I kept myself busy while I was waiting for that precious piece of paper. Despite it being a longer than expected trip it was a great chance to spend alot of great quality time with family and friends that I wouldn't have otherwise had the opportunity to do.

I spent a good bulk of my time in St Catharines with my family and catching up with friends in the city. I headed to Toronto for part of my stay for slumber parties with my girl-friends and early morning getting ready for work dance parties -thanks Leah and Michelle for hosting me in Toronto!

While in Toronto I also made sure to pack in lots of my favorite things. Real Thailand for my favorite meal - Kand Ped Nuer, coconut rice and thai iced tea, Quesada for a chicken burrito, a beautiful yoga class at Kula yoga studio, dinner at the Red Room and an Orange Julius.
From Toronto I headed onwards to spend a week in Ottawa with my bestie waiting for her sweet baby girl to arrive. We used every old wives tale in the book to will her to come out...she decided to wait until the day I arrived back in the UK to bless us with her presence. I'm so happy she's finally here and can't wait to meet her and snuggle her in person in the fall...until then staring at her on Skype will have to do.

James joined me in Canada towards the end of the month where we met up in Kingston to spend time with his family and have an early celebration for the birthday boy with delicious gluten free brownies from

We organized a lightning round catch up with friends on our favorite roof top patio, The Pilot in Toronto. Thanks to everyone who came out to catch this limited run engagement - it was so great to see you all!

We rounded off our trip celebrating Bryce and Mallory and their beautiful wedding on Toronto Island and then partying the night away to at C'est What - congrats you two and kudos for throwing an awesome party!

Cheers to weddings and cupcakes!
Adding some British Flair to the wedding festivities with a fascinator
Not really happy about this whole wedding party business

Now that I've been back in London for a week, life has resumed it's normal schedule I've hit the ground running looking for a job in the UK. I've registered with all of the charity recruitement agencies here and have started submitting my application for things. Fingers crossed I get something soon!

We've also been busy collecting furniture for our lovely little abode. We trolled Portobello market this week-end and found ourselves a lovely coffee table and added to that a couch that we found online and a wardrobe from IKEA. Slowly but surely it's starting to be a comfortable cozy home. Soon it will be all ready for all of the guests that have already made their reservation at Hotel Dixier. Bookings are now being taken into the fall so if you plan on visiting, which we hope you your spot soon to avoid dissapointement!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Best email EVER!

I opened my email this afternoon and found the following message:

'Your visa has been issued. Please allow a minimum of 3 days for Priority or DHL to deliver your documents and before tracking your package with Canada Post or DHL. WorldBridge will contact you directly if you chose to pick up your documents in Toronto.'

All I can say is what a sigh of relief! Partially because it means I get to fly back with James to the UK at the end of the month and more importantly (sorry James) because it means I won't miss the Take That/Robbie Williams concert!!!!!

Can't wait to see them perform this live!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Life update

The excitement is building about moving into our new flat - only a few more days now!  We went out on the week-end and bought a bed and a few odds and ends and we now have the beginnings of a fully functioning home! Before pictures coming soon and I'llpost pictures as we start to decorate.

Unfortunately there have been some unexpected hick-ups with getting my Visa (I'll spare you from the painful details) but long story short I need to go back to Canada to do this...grumble grumble grumble stupid UK home office grumble grumble grumble... So after having only been in our new place for a whole week I get to fly back to Canada for an undetermined amount of time to apply for my Visa...and I'll miss the royal wedding! Fingers crossed that it doesn't take too long because I absolutely no negotiation must be back in the UK for June 8th....I have a date with Take That and Robbie Williams that I would be devastated to miss!!!!!

The silver lining in all of this is that we did have plans to come home at the end of May for a friend's wedding and to meet a friend's sweet little baby so with this change in plans it just means that I'm home a little longer than planned.

I will be home on Monday April 25th and will be based in St Catharines with trips to Ottawa and Toronto planned and would love to squeeze in as much quality time with friends and family as possible!

Monday, March 28, 2011

21 sleeps until moving day!

Less than a month until moving day and we're so excited to move into our new place and to start nesting and making it feel like home! After 10 months of living with family and what will be a month and a half of living on a friend's living room floor we are soooooo looking forward to having a space to call our own again! We're so grateful for having the family who is willing to put a roof over our heads and friends that don't mind having us as room- mates and we promise to pay it forward to the next person that needs our help.

While I'm twidling my thumbs waiting for my residency paperwork to be sorted out and approved so that I can start to look for work I've been dreaming up how I want to decorate our new place. Since we're living on one income and working with a tight budget (thank you London for being a redonkulously expensive city), we're going to be getting crafty and creative! 

We're lucky to be inheriting a ton of stuff from some our friends/current room-mates who are moving back to Canada in a few months including a ton of kitchen stuff and a mattress so we have a good start. Hooray for not having to sleep on a blow-up mattress! We also plan to bring back a bunch of stuff when we visit Canada in May - I can't wait too be reunited with our zester, my cake decorating tools and any other of our kitchen gadgets that I can stuff in my suitcase.

I think we've settled on 'DIY repurposed vintage' as our decor theme. That's my fancy designer speak for free/and or cheap second hand things. Between IKEA, Freecycle, Craigslist and Portobello Market we're hoping to find everything to furnish our home sweet home.
I've been searching the interwebs looking for pictures to create an 'Inspiration Board' and to make sure James and I are on the same page decorating-wise. Thanks to the Martha Stewart website for all the pretty pictures, great ideas and step by step instructions on how to make them happen! 

I plan on unleashing my inner DIY diva on this flat! I'll be posting pictures as we go sharing the trash that we turn into treasure and how my DIY attempts turn out. Here are some of the pictures I've collected for inspiration so far.

If anyone has any recommendations for good home decorating websites/blogs that inspire you, please share!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

London as a Local - Dalston Farm Shop

As we get to know this city we now call home, I thought I'd start a feature on the blog to highlight all of the interesting places and things we come across that you wouldn't necessarily see as part of 'Movie London' and the typical tourist attractions. It might be a great restaurant, a cool local business, a lovely outdoor space, a fun festival or market or anything that happens to catch our attention. I hope that if you ever find yourself in London Town that you'll check some of them out.

For the first installment of London As A Local I'd like to introduce you to the Dalston Farm Shop. Yes you read that right - it's a farm in a shop!

James and Katee and I came across this little gem a few week-ends ago and I just had to share. We popped into the shop while we were wandering through Dalston and got a tour of the space from one of the people working there.

The people behind the project have taken a run down shop space and have transformed it into an urban farm. They are raising and using the water from the fish tanks to fertilize the soil that they are using to grow a variety of herbs and lettuces hydroponically. 
The tilapia fish tanks in the front of the shop

Some of the herbs being grown
Fish aren't the only animals in the shop though - they are raising chickens on the roof who are laying eggs daily that are selling and soon there will be pigs in the back garden. You'll be able to buy 'shares' in the pigs which will eventually yield you some tasty tasty bacon!
The chicken coop on the roof
The Farm Shop a great way to repurpose an abandoned space, bring the community together and teach people about urban farming. It's showing people that you don't need acres of space to exercise your green thumb.

You can check out their website here

Thursday, March 10, 2011

An Ode to Portobello Road

In honor of our soon to be neighbourhood, I thought I'd post a clip from one of my favorite childhood movies, Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Portobello Road - where you can buy anything your heart desires and have multicultural dance-offs in the streets!

Enjoy this vintage oldie but goodie!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

London- Week 1

Life went from 0 to 60 in the matter of a week!

Two weeks ago we were sitting in Manchester wondering where we were going to end up, where James was going to get a job, if he was going to get a job in Europe or if we were going to be heading home to Toronto with the last four months havin been one verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry long vacation.

Thankfully, James was offered a job and we were able to make the move to London. We couldn't be happier! James got through his first week of work last week and is loving it. The office, the projects he's working on and the people he's working with are all great.

While he's been at work it's been my job to find a place for us to live...a full time job in and of itself!!! Flat hunting in London is NOTHING like trying to find an apartment in Toronto or Kingston. Most apartments are rented through letting agents, who are similar to real estate agents in Canada. Apartments, or flats here, are small, expensive and usually not very well maintained.

The search to find our new home sweet home was feeling like a pretty fruitless and frustrating exercise but I finally lucked out and found us a a great place in a fantastic area!

As of April 18th, James and I will will be calling a lovely studio flat in Notting Hill home! It's in the lower level of a Victorian house and is a 20 minute walk to James' work and a 5 minute walk to Portabello Road and Portabello Market. Hotel Dixier will be open for business on April 19th and we can't wait for guests!

Since we don't move in until the middle of April so we're crashing with friends until the big move and planning on how to make the flat feel like home.  There are lots of antique and vintage furniture stores near our new place and we're excited to go hunting for one of a kind finds. And when I say we, I really mean me...James can already see me mentally furnishing our new place and he's a little frightened!

Now that the apartment issue is settled we have to focus on getting me my leave to remain so that I can start looking for work. In the meantime, I plan to play the part of a tourist and do some sight seeing during the day while James is at work.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

And our final destination is.....


We're so excited to be sharing the news that James has finally landed a job! He was offered a position with Amanda Levete Architects ( and he starts on Monday!

Needless to say, we've gone from not having a whole lot to do to being sent into a frenzy of packing and planning! Thankfully, we have amazing friends in the city who are letting us take over their couch while we find an apartment, apply for my residency, open a bank account, apply for our national insurance numbers, etc, etc, etc!

Stay tuned as we take on London and blog all about it! With a royal wedding, the 2012 Olympics and a great big city to explore we'll have lots to write about!

And as soon as hotel Dixier is open for business we insist you come and visit us!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dear 20's, we're almost through!

A million thank yous to everyone who helped me ring in the final year of my twenties last week, I couldn't have asked for a more perfect birthday! All of the phone calls, emails, Facebook messages, flowers and presents made me feel warm and loved even though I'm far from home and the people I usually celebrate with.

The festival of Sarah started on the Saturday before my birthday when James and I headed to London to celebrate with some friends. Huge thank yous to Katee and Tymon who hosted us once again by giving us a place to rest our heads and filling our bellies with yummy food and drinks.

We celebrated that night with Katee, Tymon, Michelle and Sean with dinner at Mestizo, a great little Mexican restaurant near Camden Town and it was delish! I hadn't had tacos el pastor since leaving Toronto and they did not dissapoint. When we arrived at the restaurant someone at the table made a point of making it known that it was my birthday so I was appropriately ambushed with a giant sombrero, a shot of tequila and a yummy dessert at the end of the meal. I was also spoiled with a Pret a Manger gift card (clearly my friends know me well) and a great pair of gloves from Glove Love.

Feliz cumpleanos to me!
After dinner we wandered into Camden Town and headed to the Lock Tavern for drinks and to meet up with an old work friend, Michelle, who was in town for her graduation. We rounded out the night with a late night visit to a jewish bakery that was still open at 1 in the morning and walked out with three bags full of blintzes, challah bread, croissants and other delicious baked goods which we promptly scarfed down.

Michelle, me, Sean and Tymon at the Lock Tavern

Me and Katee
I have the best husband ever!
Michelle and I - yay for reunions!
Sunday, started earlier than our bodies would have liked when our alarm went off at 6:30 in the morning, but it was necessary for the next part of our week-end which was spent at Herstmonceux Castle, my favorite place in the world and the place where James and I met. We hadn't been back since the spring term we both spent there and being that it's only a few hours by train from London, we couldn't resist making the trip and it didn't dissapoint.

We spent the afternoon wandering around the grounds, which weren't as colorful as they were when we were there in the springtime but they still managed to take my breath away. And thankfully I had received a shiny new pair of Hunter wellies which made walking around all the more fun! To make the nostalgic castle experience complete we finished our afternoon visit with lunch in the cafeteria, which was just the same as we remembered it - we'll leave it at that. I feel so lucky to have been a student at the castle and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect birthday present than to go back to this place which means so much to me and is place that is such an important part of mine and James' relationship.

The grounds are normally closed to visitors this time of year so huge thank yous go to the castle staff who accomodated our request to visit and made us feel so welcome!

You can also see the rest of our pics from the castle here:
Wearing my new wellies and ready to go back to the castle

The back view of the castle frome the gardens

The front of the castle
James and I in spring 2004 when we first met

It still takes my breath away
That evening it just so happened that there was a concert being put on in the ballroom of the castle so James and I got prettied up to attend. The performance was by a German pianist named Michael Rische who played a tribute to Haydn. It was the perfect way to end a perfect day.

The day of my actual birthday I was suprised with beautiful flowers from two of the most wonderful friends and great presents from Irene and Matthew including a new change purse, earrings, a throw blanket and a cookbook!

I have the best girlfriends ever - thanks Rachel and Leah!
My birthday celebrations were rounded out with dinner with James, Irene and Matthew at a lovely vegetarian restaurant in Didsbury called Greens, which is so far my favorite restaurant meal I've had since I've been here and a divine chocolate orange cake made by my lovely husband.
Irene and Matthew post dinner

James and I post dinner

Making my birthday wish

The delicious chocolate orange cake baked by the best husband in the world!
I think 29 is going to be a great year!