Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving celebration with your nearest and dearest. We celebrated Thanksgiving slightly early this year as my good friend was in town for 10 day work trip. She and I have known each since I was 15 years old; we went to high school together, bonded over student government activities; and went to Berkeley together. 

This past Sunday, I invited her over for a smallish Thanksgiving meal. Miss Haile pooch greeted my friend at the door. Though Miss Haile was suppose to go home on Saturday but as her parents decided to extend their trip, we kept her for a few more days.

I couldn't find a turkey small enough to feed three people so opted to make a French-inspired roast chicken with all the trimmings -- walnut-pear-blue cheese green salad, green beans and mushroom, buttery mashed potato, roasted asparagus, and a charcuterie board of foie gras, jamon, and a selection of French cheese. We caught up on her week in London, her first Rugby game at Twickenham, British culture, and her upcoming holiday plans. It was really nice to share a Thanksgiving meal with a familiar face from home! Muchas gracias for coming over and come back to London soon!

On Thanksgiving Day, another fellow expat couple friend kindly open their lovely Holland Park flat and hosted a small group of American for Thanksgiving. This couple friend went to UC Davis with Keenan and moved to London two years ago to pursue a master degree in human rights and public policy. My friend took half day off to roast the 15 lb turkey, made gravy from scratch, and even had time to bake an amazingly delicious pumpkin pie. Hats off to the chef. Everyone else bought sides to share -- cheesey mac and cheese, potato gratin, brussle sprouts, spinach, cranberries, etc. Delicious.

We then went around the room to say what we are thankful for. Keenan and I feel incredibly blessed to have amazing family spread across the globe in CA, Hong Kong, India; for our health; our jobs that allows us to travel for work and pleasure; and good friends in SF and London. Cheers to all of you!

Happy Thanksgiving from London!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Autumn Walks around London

Keenan and I have been on doggie duty for the past two weeks, pet-sitting for our friend's sweet, sweet dog whilst they are back in the East Coast for a visit. Miss Haile pooch is no stranger to Auntie Lily and Uncle Keenan's flat. Being the big dog lover that I am, I offer to watch Haile whenever her 'parents' go away on business or pleasure. We even keep Haile's portable doggie bed in our flat; that's how often she comes over.

Autumn is upon us; the leaves are changing colour, the temperature is dropping, and the days are getting shorter and shorter. We've been taking Miss Haile pooch on long walks around Clapham and southwest London to enjoy the fresh crisp autumn and get a bit of 'training' in for a big hike up Mt. Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia in December. Yikes, better step up the training. 

One of my favourite walks in Southwest London is a circular walk along the River Thames starting from the south side of Putney Bridge to Hammersmith Bridge. If you live in London, then you know that Putney Bridge is the starting point of the famous Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race held annually in March. This leafy part of London feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of Central London, and makes for a leisurely 4.5 miles walk. It passes through the London Wetland Centre, a great place for kids and nature lovers, crosses Hammersmith Bridge, and back towards Bishop Park and Craven Cottage, home of the Fulham FC.  Haile probably knows this walk better than anyone as she lives just a stone's throw away from Bishops Park. I think she wanted to make her way back to her lovely Fulham flat.

Back in our neighborhood in Clapham, we've been taking Miss Haile pooch to all our favourite pubs, The Sun, The Calf, the Bobbin, and the Draft House, all which are very dog-friendly. Only in London that I could bring a dog  in for  a quickie pint. I could never get away with that in California. She is the perfect pub dog, super mellow, friendly, and polite. It makes us want to be get a poochie ourselves but our lifestyle, work schedule, living on a 2nd floor flat without a garden, and travel makes it very difficult to be a responsible pet-owner. We may consider getting a poochie after we get our UK permanent residency next year? Maybe... For now, we're happy to pet sit sweet Miss Haile pooch until she moves back to the U.S. next fall.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Emeli Sande shines at the Royal Albert Hall

There must be another 'British Invasion' in music as lately a series of British artists have exploded on the music charts -- Adele, Mumford and Son, Florence + the Machine, Jessie J, Muse, Taio Cruz just to name a few. Yes, indeed, it must the third British Invasion.

Yesterday, Keenan and I had the pleasure to support one of my favourite new artist, the Brit Award winner and singer-songwriter Emeli Sande at a charity concert for The Prince's Trust (a great organisation) at the iconic Royal Albert Hall. I quickly became a huge fan of Emeli Sande after hearing her hit songs 'Heaven' and 'Next to Me.' Like everything else in London, I booked these tickets back in June, well ahead of the London Olympic Games where she performed in front of a global audience at both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, singing a beautiful rendition of 'Imagine' and her very own hit 'Read All About it.'
Keenan and I were joined by my very good friend from high school who is in town for work and my 2011 BBC prom date (no not the high school prom, but the classical music festival held at the Royal Albert Hall each year). Little did we know, this concert was being recorded for a live album, set to be released in February 2013. As we watched her orchestra take their place with a row of back-up singers all clad in black, we knew we were in for a treat.
Beneath the gorgeous domed ceiling of this prestigious concert hall where so many big voices have performed in the past, Emeli Sande hit every note so beautifully to the sold-out crowd's delight, showcasing her incredible talents as singer and an accomplished pianist. Her breathtaking vocals and impressive range is even better live. In a concert lasting for nearly two hours, she sang every song from her best-selling debut album "Our Version of Events," dedicating each song to the nearest and dearest of friends and family including her sister, parents, her new husband, and "My Kind of Love" to the Prince's Trust for which she serves as an Ambassador. 

Two very special guests joined her on  stage, British rapper, Professor Green for his rap segment in "Read All About It" who got the crowd on their feet, and later Labrinth for their hit duet "Beneath Your Beautiful."

Performing at the Royal Albert Hall is her biggest solo concert yet, and no doubt Emeli Sande will have an illustrious music career ahead of her, and this is just the beginning. She will indeed write her very own version of events.