columbia road flower market & shoreditch

The other day Emma and I went to a flower market on the edge of Shoreditch and it was pretty magical, with all the flowers and cute little shops nearby (I got a tiny cactus and a tea towel).  I am in love with Shoreditch.  That is all.

colorful in kensington

Not surprisingly, I'm the only person I've seen in Kensington with bright tights.  I've seen a few dark purples on the tube, but nothing to rival my lime green, hot pink, or bright yellow ones.  It's a little unnerving being the odd one out in a sea of black and gray figures, but I'm trying to embrace it.  I just need to get back out to Shoreditch (where the Brick Lane markets I mentioned were) to discover the more colorful bits of London.  Across from where Eva and I took photos was a cute little furniture store with this crazy and colorful patchwork that was even more colorful than me, which I appreciated finding amongst the posh designer stores nearby (although the prices at the furniture store were just as expensive).  

I absolutely love Kensington.  In our neighborhood, we have beautiful residential buildings, a lovely French pastry shop called Aux Merveilleux with meringues and chocolate brioche, an "authentic American" cupcake shop called Hummingbird Bakery, and multiple free museums.  I have so much more left to explore. More museums, more pastries!  The other day I went to the Natural History Museum with some people, and today Eva and I saw a small part of the Victoria & Albert Museum, including the fashion section which was so wonderful.  We're making progress, but there is so much more to see!

Dress/vintage, Cardigan/H&M, Headband/J.Crew, Earrings/Kate Spade, Ring/Kate Spade, Tights/Angelina, Shoes/Dansko

keeping it classy

School has officially started, although I have to say that "school" does not quite sum up what we've been doing.  Our culture class is taught by a brilliantly personable and fashionable man who we basically just chatted with for three hours and it never got boring.  Our theatre teacher is an interesting man, who I think we will all grow to love as we get to know him.  He's definitely more approachable out of the classroom, as our six hour walk around London proved (more about that later).  Our art history teacher is a young, attractive Italian-British guy who is incredibly charming and humorous.  I learned so much in our first three hour class!  All of our proceeding classes will take place in museums.  Yep, that's happening.  I'm so excited.  
For our first theatre outing, we went to see The Odyssey at the Bussey Building (which is a super cool warehouse space).  It was an improvised piece in a small thrust theatre with only hula hoops and sticks as props.  They kept the story fresh each book (there are 24 books) by passing around a pot of shards with little phrases on each to inform them how to perform the book.  It was fascinating and impressive how they were able to improvise the narrative on such short notice. 

For our second theater class, we literally walked everywhere, reading scenes from plays from long-ago, referencing the old buildings or the ground they once stood on.  Six hours of walking around London. That was our school day yesterday.  I feel so extremely lucky to have London as my classroom. 

a series of firsts

I've been in London a week now, but it's taken me a while to feel settled in enough to blog.  So much has happened already--it's intimidating thinking about blogging it all.  I apologize in advance for the lengthy post...  I generally prefer posts with fewer photos, but I have a lot of ground to cover in this first post!

The first night was a heavy-headed blur of jetlag and confusion, but after a much needed nap, those of us who had arrived went out to dinner and took a little stroll through Trafalgar Square in the rain.  It was quite picturesque, I could literally not believe I was there.  Maybe it was the jet lag, or maybe just pure rainy magic, but it was a top-notch way to end my first night in London, I must say.
The next morning we woke up for a long-winded orientation that left me completely exhausted and restless.  Thankfully afterwards a few of my friends and I went to our first pub (funny how normal pubs have become since this) and Hyde Park to liven our spirits.  I split the Wild Berries Rekorderlig cider with Ted, which was a solid life decision.  Sitting in the window, looking out at Hyde Park across the street, tiny British children in their uniforms, posh people with their posh dogs, and double deckers passing by, it just felt right.  Don't even get me started about Hyde Park--more people and dog watching, random monuments every which way, and oh, a palace.  We live very near William & Kate.  No biggie.
Yet as magical as those moments were, the two days following I hit kind of a rut.  Of course, even these days were completely jam-packed with awesomeness.  I mean, we went on a bus tour, saw Buckingham Palace, and toured through Parliament.  No complaints there.  Yet despite these epic times in fantastic places, the city and people who were at first magical were now overwhelming me, and what was new and exciting was now kind of frustrating and unnerving (random pastries and fresh air helped).  I knew that this would happen, I just didn't realize it would happen so quickly.  Thankfully this passed as soon as it came on.  Two days of this is pure magic, two days of Okay, this is still magical but like, what is even happening?  I don't know what to do with myself.  I am still the awkward Kaylie I was in the States.  I am going to be really quiet and drink my cider., and then two days of Yes, yes, yes.  I love London.  I can see it becoming a home. 
We went to Brick Lane in East London (we live in West London) to browse the markets (see Spitafeilds above) there.  There are tons of markets and Indian restaurants (they sure are competitive, too) in the area, so the group of us divided and explored until a specific time to meet up again for lunch.  When we got to Brick Lane, a sign that said "Vintage Clothing Market" immediately caught my eye.  Eva, Siani, and I marched forward and scoped it out.  Walking into the market, it was the first time I felt truly at home in London.  Kensington is very posh and I feel very fortunate to live here (the buildings, you guys.  They are all so beautiful), but being in a different part of London made me realize that there are going to be places that I feel much more myself in.  Being amidst all the vintage clothes and trinkets, I felt much more Kaylie than I know I will feel in posh High Kensington stores, as much as I love checking those out too.  A lot of the time I wish I was more posh (can you tell how much I love having this new word in my vocabulary?), but I have to admit to myself that it's just not me. 
Monday was another fantastic, reaffirming day.  After anxious sleep, I woke up at 9:15 to get ready for my meeting with the woman I am interning with (she runs Crafty Fox Market).  It turned out even better than I anticipated, and I only felt a little self-concious (I caught myself saying "awesome" and "cool" far too many times).  We met up at a little cafe which was quite Portland-y with its exposed wood, vintage suitcase tables, and mason jar cups.  We walked around Brixton Village for a bit and I loved the vibe--I intend to go back as soon as possible because it's really cool and awesome (hah).  Apparently the area was virtually nothing four years ago and has become a hub for small businesses.  A lot of it was closed on Monday, so I will be sure to go on a weekend when it's bustling.  She pointed out the pub that she hosts some of her events at, and I am so thrilled I get to be a small part of what she does.  After taking the tube home, I bought myself a cupcake on my walk home at Hummingbird Bakery to reward myself for facing my fears and most importantly, not getting lost.
A week has now passed and I can finally say I'm starting to find some balance in this lovely, magical, but crazy, huge city.  More about classes soon.

four goals for 2014

It's 2014!  Erin and I rang in the new year right with lots of good conversation and a Gossip Girl marathon.  I'm a lucky girl to have such a lovely best friend like her.  This morning we had a tea party brunch with her sister.  This year will be the YEAR OF TEA, I can feel it.  England, here I come.  

New beginnings keep me refreshed, so I'm all about the concept of making resolutions for the new year.  Every year it seems like I take a different approach, which I suppose makes sense, because every year I'm looking to change something different.  I guess that's a good thing.

The four simple goals I made for 2013 were more like life-long goals.  (Be happy, healthy, brave, confident.)  Because to be honest, most of these things I will probably be struggling with my entire life.  They take effort and time and a whole lot of patience and forgiveness.  Each year I hope to improve on these four goals in some way.

I will be the first to admit that 2013 was one of my harder years.  Okay, let's get real here--it was definitely my hardest.  I hope my 20's are a little easier on me than they have been so far.  I've always known that life gets harder, but also more rewarding.  Now I know this personally, because despite the obstacles, I have learned more about myself, my relationships, and my dreams for the future--much more than if everything had been peachy keen.  Becoming an adult is hard, guys.  Major kudos to my mom who somehow managed to raise me while she was still this young.  I know I certainly couldn't do it!  Nope, not even close.

So this year, I am going to keep those four former goals in mind and set four achievable goals for 2014.  Goals I can look back on and say, "YES, I did that." or "Hah, NO, I did not do that."

1)  Remember to take my vitamins.

2)  Read one non-school related book a month.

3)  Create a crafty travel journal to document my European adventures.

4)  Have FUN.