The Street Where I Live

British by birth, New Yorker by nature.

The Street Where You Live

TGIF- 22/04/16

The Street Where You LiveAlexandra kingComment
Alexandra King-Lyles TSWIL

TGIF darlings! What are you up to this weekend? If you haven't already, be sure to check out TSWIL's latest muse, Meghann Halfmoon, who lives on the tiny Caribbean island of Saba and who shared her street with me yesterday. I can't stop looking at the photos and dreaming about sunshine and beaches! It's been a crazy one for me, work-wise, this week, as I've been covering the Paris Climate Agreement in New York, and holding down the fort in NYC while Isaac is at an art fair in Brussels. So this weekend equals chillllll. For me this means yoga class, wine on the stoop with friends and binge watching Broad City. YAS KWEEN. My weekly round up below.

Though I'm pretty diehard about an all-white bedroom, these insanely pricey linen, blush-colored sheets, like in the ones above, are making me swoon.

Loving this fabulous head board (does anyone have an apartment they want me to decorate? I've got the urge)

A stunning piece of radio on the hell that is Middle School (that's ages 12-14, fellow Euros)

Which reminded me of this, one of my top ten songs of all time ("would you be an outlaw for my love?")

A simple salt cellar for your kitchen table is one of those things you didn't know you needed. I get complimented all the time on this simple little wooden number, which I picked up at Target

Loup is killing it right now. I love this (perfect for sweltering days in the city) and this. And wouldn't this be lovely for a summer wedding?

J-Law on Adele

Shakespeare: A Wonderfully Filthy Bugger

I adore the minimal, sustainable aesthetic of this California clothing brand

St Vincent has designed a guitar especially for women (room for boobies! Applause!)

T-shirt vibes

TrumpDonald.org

The Street Where You Live: Meghann Halfmoon, Saba Island

The Street Where You LiveAlexandra kingComment

American-born Meghann Halfmoon lives with her husband and two kids on the tiny Caribbean island of Saba (population: 1824). Since moving to paradise a year ago, this bad ass designer, Mama and world traveler has launched her own business, built a home for her family and even learned to adjust to ‘island time’. So, run, don’t walk down the street where Meghann lives, making sure to take a moment to admire the local volcano, pick a banana from your tree, and don’t forget to wave (you’ll find out that this is very important) to the locals.

On her journey to Saba:

I’m originally from small town America – Yakima, Washington. I was born and raised in Yakima, but I always had an ardent desire to travel and see the world.

I studied International Business at UW in Seattle, which included a semester in Nantes, France. That’s where I met my husband, Koen, who is Dutch. A few years and a few countries later, we were living in Amsterdam with two children, my son, Tipp, and daughter, Loula. We’d had a half-year stint in Mozambique, and loved it so much that we had the itch again to live abroad for a longer period. That’s when Koen was offered a position on the Caribbean island of Saba, which has been a “special municipality” of the Netherlands since 2010. After briefly considering the potential challenges of moving from a world city to an island unknown to a good part of the world and with a population of less than 2000, we decided to go! And, if we didn’t like it, we could always move back, we told ourselves. So here we are! We’ve just passed our one-year mark and, while it definitely took me some time to get used to, life is good!

On a transatlantic love affair:

When I first met my now husband Koen, I had a boyfriend, and I didn’t even know that he had a thing for me. Fast forward two years, and we serendipitously met again at a party. That was when sparks flew! In the next two-and-a-half years there were multiple countries, long distances, a short break-up, a make-up, Master’s degrees completed and, eventually, a marriage on a Monday morning in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Monday was the free morning, and we had just finished school, so the price was right! We were never engaged. We simply realized one Saturday morning over pancakes that I would have to go back to the US once my masters program was finished if we didn't start making some real decisions. So, we decided to get married. Six weeks later, we were married at the town hall, with four friends as witnesses, and celebrated with a champagne breakfast in the park. A year later, we had a small wedding ceremony on a beach in Seattle. It all turned out to be very romantic! That was ten-and-a-half years and two children ago.

My son Tipp is my master builder and budding pilot and future musician. He can spend hours engineering complex buildings with Kapla blocks and crafting airplanes with lego’s. He also plays djembe drums and is learning to play the guitar. My daughter Loula is my tiny dancer, artist, novelist and comedienne. She loves to practice ballet and often gets the urge to do a little dance. She also likes to do lots of crafty work and is absolutely hilarious. Recently, she decided she’d also like to write a book. And as she’s only 5, she asks me how to spell every word- this could take some time to finish! They both love snorkeling and jumping off the pier in our harbor. We love that they are at the age where they are becoming a bit more independent, but still think that everything we do is terribly cool!

Meghann Halfmoon Saba

On finding the perfect island home:

Mine is a steep street leading from the center of town up the side of a volcano. It is lined by white wooden houses with red roofs, green gardens and banana and mango trees. Just like in a postcard!

We live in a typical Saban wooden cottage, painted white with green trim and surrounded by a lush yard, which includes our new vegetable garden (we’re slowly, but surely, becoming home farmers!) and our cistern, where we collect rainwater. I love that my house is typically Saban and so has character and a story. But let me tell you that humidity, mold and termites are real.

As a good deal of the population is related to each other, we found our rental home when living temporarily next to one of the grandsons of the woman who used to live here. His father grew up in this house, and is an older brother of our neighbor.

Halfmoon pottery

On following her career dreams:

My job is to make things that I love and that I hope other people will also love! My label is called Halfmoon, which I started in my home in Amsterdam in 2013. I design and make bags using vegetable tanned leather that I import from Italy, as well as limited edition organic clothing and hand-build stoneware pottery.

Meghann Halfmoon

I didn't work my way into this job so much as dove into it! I used to work as a grant writer with an international development NGO in Amsterdam. It was a fabulous gig that allowed me to work on amazing projects in some of the poorest, but also most beautiful, places of the world. At some point though, it just didn’t fit me anymore. I questioned my career and sector. I wasn’t the Mom I wanted to be. I was terrified of flying and I became really depressed. So I left. And I started using my hands again, because I hadn’t had the time, or given myself the time, to be creative in years (my mom had taught me to sew as a child). I decided bags were a good place to start, so I invested in an industrial sewing machine, purchased scrap leather, and set up shop on one wall of our dining room in our 700 sq. ft. apartment. Since then, my business has grown very organically, and I’ve gradually added new crafts that I love, like designing and sewing clothes and hand-building pottery.

I love my job! I am always so touched and thrilled by the comments and reviews I receive from customers. It’s amazing to think that I can think up and make something that somebody somewhere else in the world then wears and loves. It’s surreal! A few of my customers have returned to make multiple purchases, and I don’t know if they quite understand what their support means to me. It means the world! It gives me the confidence to keep going.

On the challenges of island life:

Here on Saba, water scarcity is a part of life. Houses are connected to individual cisterns, which collect water from the roof and then feed into the house through an electric pump. We can literally walk out the door and look at how much water we have available. It’s fun to watch it fill during a rain storm, but less so to watch is be depleted during a drought. A leaky toilet can be a real disaster! It is possible to purchase desalinated water, but the cost can be a huge burden for a good deal of the population.  

Also being an island means that pretty much everything is imported. While Saba used to be an export island, selling produce to other islands in the region, the coming of supermarkets and regular shipments meant that purchasing goods became easier. And so sadly, today, few farmers are left. However, there are efforts taking place to revive agricultural activities on the island. Of which our beloved veggie garden is a small part!

On having a very unusual address:

The street where I live is officially called ‘Carrot Street’, but other than the post office and a few people in government, I don’t know if anybody on the island actually knows that. About a year ago, we all received letters from the government telling us what our street name and address was. We still haven’t put a number plate on our house, and there is no sign indicating that this is in fact, Carrot Street! Locally, we still use the ‘address’ that most people on the island know and have been using for decades: ‘Miss Melanie’s house’ or ‘the house to the left of the tourist office, just up from Swinging Doors’.

On becoming a seasoned hitchhiker:

Hitch--hiking is a totally safe and common way of getting around here on Saba! We are just above the main road, called “The Road” (!) and so can easily hitch a ride from the intersection to anywhere on the island.

I’ve only recently realized how accustomed I’ve gotten to getting rides from strangers. A couple months ago I had to stay one night on St. Maarten to catch an early flight to the States. I had booked a taxi through my hotel. But, 6:30 came and went, and no taxi. So I started to walk out to the main street to see if I could hail a cab. Three or four cars passed me, walking with my suitcase, on the way to the main road and none of them stopped to ask if I needed a lift! I was so annoyed! It felt so rude! And then it hit me how used to Saba I’d become.

On some sweet Saba etiquette:

On Saba, people wave in passing…all the time…to everyone. It’s really funny at first. Then you get a bit tired of it. And then, once you’re off island, you realize that you also wave at everyone. Ha! It kind of requires having one hand on the wheel, and the other just resting there prepared to wave at any moment. When passing on foot, we also say “hi” to nearly everyone we pass. In fact, even on my morning jog, I wave to passersby!

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Describe your street in five words:

Kneuterig (a non-translatable Dutch word that includes the concepts of kitsch, old-fashion and social control), unspoiled, central, steep, picturesque

When you walk down your street, what do you feel in your heart?

Joy.

On a perfect day off in her neighborhood:

A perfect day off starts early but with a long lazy morning drinking coffee and reading the paper and blogs in bed, either next to my husband or my sweet babes if they’ve switched places during the night. We always prepare the coffee the evening before, so my son goes and flips the switch on for us. We’ve taught him so well!

Sometime around mid-morning, we head down to the Bizzy B Bakery for a morning treat. We bring our goodies home and enjoy them at the table, chatting all together. By noon we’re hungry again, so I make spinach, mushroom and feta omelets for a healthy, nutrient packed lunch.

In the afternoon, we’ll usually be starting to feel restless and so it’s time to get out of the house. We pack some drinks and snacks, load up our beach basket and snorkel gear. If we’re lucky, there’s sand at Well’s Bay and we can go swimming and snorkeling there. I recently saw four sea turtles and two little stingrays! Otherwise, we go to the harbor where we often run into friends and swim, snorkel and jump off the pier. Around 4 or 5pm we get some juice and beers from Pop’s Place bar and eat empanadas as the sun goes down over the sea. We feel so lucky to live here and we drive home with content smiles on our faces.

And because this is a “perfect day”, we’ll assume the babysitter is arriving soon after we get home! Haha! We get the kids ready for bed, and get ourselves ready to go out. We bring our kick-ass headlamps with us so we don’t trip and break any bones walking up or down the steep steps through the rain forest to the Ecolodge Rendez-vous restaurant, where Keith, Kelly, Kat and their volunteers hold a weekly family-style barbecue and bon-fire. Cure rub-a-dub ribs and lots of good stuff from their garden on the table. Good times. 

Thank you so so much, sweet Meghann, for showing us around your extraordinary corner of the world. Be sure to check out Meghann's beautiful handmade clothes, bags and ceramics in her online shop. And you can also follow more of her Saba adventures via her Instagram, here.

The Street Where You Live: Rawan Rihani, Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

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RAWAN RIHANI

Today in The Street Where You Live you're meeting Rawan Rihani- designer, floral artist and entrepreneur. I met Rawan back in 2014, when, after fan girl-ing over her stunning, wild flower arrangements, I asked her to create my wedding flowers (you can see what she made for me here and here). Rawan is a true original who has managed to create a thriving business from her art, and her ethereal, uber creative and gentle energy, not to mention the fact that girlfriend rocks her vintage wardrobe like no other, makes her the go-to girl for Brooklyn brides and flower aficionados, who flock to her for custom bouquets, naturally dyed textiles, flower crowns and wall hangings. Now, take a walk with Rawan down the street where she lives in Brooklyn's lesser known gem of a hood, Ditmas Park, and get to know the girl behind the gardenias.

Photo by Christopher Gregory

Photo by Christopher Gregory

On her neighborhood of Ditmas Park, and her loyalty to Brooklyn:

Im grew up in Rhode Island, but I moved to Brooklyn in 2006.  And I'm super loyal to my neighborhood! Ive been in Ditmas for the last five years. I live with my fiancé, Zac and our two cats, Lulu and Lali.  Zac is a musician and composer and really fun to live with :) Our cats are pretty hilarious too. 

Rawan Rihani TSWIL

We rent in an apartment building- we found it because a good friend was living here.  Before this apartment we were living in an old Victorian home in Ditmas, but we had roommates. As much as we loved the people we lived with, Zac and I were ready to create a life together (we're getting married in June!) and so we moved here. I love it!

rawan rihani

I LOVE my hood.  Ditmas Park is such a diverse neighborhood.  Everyone is here. No specific kind of person lives in it, it's a true diversity.  My neighbors are the nicest people, they are always giving me a hand and are just generally happy and helpful. It's just a really pleasant and a wonderful place to live, good for all ages, and everyone old and young. I've also thrown a couple of amazing parties here- last year on Halloween and New Years for friends and neighbors. Our New Years Party was a dance party and all of our friends jammed on the piano. Then as a group we wrote our worries on pieces of paper and burned them outside on the back area in a little bonfire. Then we danced until 4am. It was amazing.

On owning her own business

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rawan rihani TSWIL
RAWAN RIHANI

I own my own business called Aurora Botanica, which focuses on floral design, natural dyes and wedding designs.  Soon, I'll have clothing and headpieces, which will be launching in the Spring! The business is basically the result of all the creations of my life as an artist and designer. Everything Aurora Botanica is either made with or inspired by flowers and botanical elements.  And because my job is basically freelance, each day is totally different from the other, since I do flowers for events and nothing is a routine. However, every other day without failI  I get up early and drive to the flower market in the city, picking the best of the best in an inspired palette and then coming back to the studio to create and arrange. 

 

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RAWAN RIHANI

I usually spend the mid afternoon creating, designing, and following up on emails for different projects and events I am planning and working on.  Then the nighttime is when I tend to get most inspired. I sketch, dream up new concepts and think of fun new ideas to do over tea. Then if Im lucky I snuggle up with the cats and Zac for a little movie and chocolate.
 

TSWIL Rawab Rihani


On her journey to becoming the Brooklyn bride's wedding florist du jour:

I went to Rhode Island School of Design, and majored in fashion design because I thought it just fused so many things I love about art and design together.   was drawn to clothing design because of my love for textiles, and also because you can create a mood and story though color and materials and bring clothing to life, watching it in motion on a person. That was fascinating to me. But after moving to NYC and working as a fashion designer, I found that the insane hours, the overload of work, and harsh expectations were becoming a huge drag on my creative brain. Eventually I got burnt out and decided to take a break. So I waitressed for a while, before one day taking up a job at a local flower shop down the street. And that was it. I fell in LOVE with working with flowers, it was absolutely refreshing! Over time, that evolved to creating flower crowns and making bouquets and bridal accessories for friends who were getting married. I was then inspired to get into the bridal market, and I discovered Stone Fox Bride, who embody a bohemian cool vibe. I loved their relaxed aesthetic as I felt it was similar to mine. So I met with them and ended up collaborating and working with them for three years! It was really fun and I got to create so much and meet wonderful people. But the time came when I felt that I had learned as much as I could and I felt that I was truly ready to launch my own business. I am so grateful for their support and am now so excited about this next step!

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On misconceptions about her hood:

The only thing I don't like about my neighborhood is that people think Ditmas Park is like living in a different country or something, they think we live so far away! The truth is that it take 30-40 minutes to get to the city which is not bad! It's on an express train! The worst thing is sometimes seeing kittens that need shelter, and occasionally hearing the loud construction, which can be annoying in the morning. But all in all, I’ve got it good here. I really can't complain.

rawan rihani TSWIL
rawan rihani
ditmas park rawan

Describe your street in five words:

Lush, pretty, picturesque, kind, genuine

rawan rihani

 

When you walk down your street, what do you feel in your heart?

I feel connected to the trees.  They are truly magnificent and wondrous trees. They are beautiful.

RAWAN RIHANI TSWIL

On how Ditmas Park made her who she is today:

Ditmas saved me!  As soon as I moved to this neighborhood, I relaxed and felt like I could breathe.  Before I moved here I had spent six years living in the cool but much more gritty neighborhood of Bushwick. Bushwick made me so anxious and distracted. It’s so much more quiet here, and it feels like there is so much more space both literally and psychologically, which is how I like to create and work. It really helps me focus.  Bushwick is fun, but I prefer to visit and shop there or dine there rather than live there. It was an endless party for me there! Here, I feel so relaxed and focused and I think the environment absolutely has to do with that. The magnificent trees on my street are my favorite, its the opposite of Bushwick! I feel so much closer to nature here.

tswil rawan rihani

On her perfect day off in her neighborhood:

My perfect morning in Ditmas begins with an iced decaf soy latte at Coffee Mob, or at Cafe Madeline.  I love to stop in and visit my friend Suzanna at Stems (which is a flower shop at Sycamore Bar). Then try and stop me from buying a beautiful candle from Collyer’s Mansion on Stratford, they have such beautiful things for the home. Then I'd want to finish my day by meeting Zac and friends for dinner at Lea or Castello Plan or Cafe Tibet. Such good food!

Rawan's top seven places to go in Ditmas Park:

Lea- a great Italian! Best Margherita pizza and ravioli and great wine too

The Farm on Adderley- I love to get lunch here. I love their french fries and kale salad.

Coffee Mob-  An awesome cafe, really great pastries and great coffee.

Cafe Madeline- Yummy coffee, smoothies and sandwiches

Cafe Tibet- The best Tibetan vegetarian food.

Sycamore Bar- I don't drink spirits but I love to hang here to meet friends that do! I'm told that they have great whiskey.

The Castello Plan- wine!  

RAWAN RIHANI TSWIL

Thank you, darling Rawan. You rocked my wedding day and my world. Make sure to follow RR on Instagram for serious floral inspiration. And if you're an NYC bride in need of flowers, give her a shout at rawan@aurorabotanica.com.

The Street Where You Live: Amanda Lee, Charlotte, Vermont

The Street Where You Live, TravelAlexandra kingComment
Amanda Lee TSWIL

Today in the latest installment of The Street Where You Live you're meeting Amanda Lee, New York make-up artist turned countryside-dwelling skincare entrepreneur. Though she describes herself as nomadic by nature, Amanda has found a little slice of heaven and her forever home in the beautiful state of Vermont. And what a place it is, as Isaac and I learned this past year (after my interview with Amanda I spent two hours fantasy crawling Burlington real estate, and I have no doubt that she will cause a similar reaction in you). Truly, I'm so psyched that TSWIL gets to play host to this badass, soulful babe. Now scroll down and take a walk with Amanda down the truly stunning street where she lives.

TSWIL Amanda Lee

On her adopted home of Charlotte, Vermont:

I live in Charlotte, VT (pronounced Shar LOT).  I am originally from Delray Beach, FL. My husband Ben, whom I met in NYC, is originally from Vermont. From time to time we would come to visit his family and I grew to really love the area.  It was always so refreshing to leave the city. After being together in the city for a couple years, we both felt a little burnt out, and decided it was time for a change. We knew we wanted a more relaxing environment. We both love the outdoors too. After a lot of thought, we settled on Vermont! It was the perfect combination. We would be near family, we would be in a relaxed environment where the quality of life would suit us well, and we would only be 5 hours from NYC to visit on weekends from time to time! The town of Charlotte is very quant. It has a tiny center with its primary store, The Old Brick Store. Although it is small, every single street is stunning.  The beach here on Lake Champlain and the view of the Adirondack Mountains is unbeatable (there's nothing like bringing a cooler and some floats to the lake for the day). Although I live and work in Charlotte, I spend a good amount of time in downtown Burlington, which is about 20 minutes from my house. Church Street is a beautiful pedestrian street filled with shops and little restaurants. I may never have moved here if it weren’t for spending time in Burlington, it is such an excellent small city, filled with artists and students. A lot of people compare it to Portland, ME or Asheville, NC. It is the kind of place where you can easily become a regular, whether it’s at my favorite restaurant, The Farmhouse Tap & Grill or my favorite brewery, Zero Gravity, you are sure to run into a familiar face.  I have quite a love affair with it.

TSWIL Amanda Lee and Ben Lee

On her beloved husband, Ben, who moonlights as house lumberjack (whatta man):

I live with my husband, Ben Lee.  Ben is truly the most loving and caring individual I have had the honor of knowing. We got married this year. He is warm, kind and selfless.  He is also a dream to live with, especially because I get coffee in bed EVERY morning! We met on a concert cruise called the “Rocks Off Concert Cruise" which is a boat that goes down the New York Harbor while bands play.  That night I had gone with friends to see an old punk rock band called The Bronx (although they are originally from California.)  Ben was also mutual friends with the people I went with and he met up with us.  As they say, The rest is history!  Ben is a really great roommate.  We have a good flow of having our specific little duties to keep the house in order.  I do a lot of the cleaning, but Ben makes sure to stack the wood (our house is primarily heated by wood stoves) take out the trash and keep our ice trays full! We are still riding the high of being newlyweds and are really enjoying these moments together.

TSWIL Amanda Lee

On finding her home:

We live in an old farmhouse on 16 acres of land. We named the house The Northern Bayou. We are currently renting but have started looking to buy in the near future in the same area.  When we decided to move from New York, we were constantly looking through Craigslist for just the right spot. We knew we wanted to be near Burlington, but not directly in the city. Ben found some good places to look at and came up one day to see them. Unfortunately, I had to work.  When he found our house, he called me and said he was sure it was the one. I trusted him, although there was a little reservation of course, and we signed the lease. I didn't even see the house until we moved in! It was better than I could have ever imagined! 

amanda lee TSWIL

On her bucolic block:

My street looks like a scene from a postcard.  Its a wide dirt road, lined with trees. It is a warm and loving street and is very welcoming, and it feels safe and cozy even on the coldest of nights. We are completely surrounded by nature. We can't even see our neighbors house from ours, just a big beautiful red barn across the street. In the summer, they host a theatre Summer camp in the barn, which I adore. At the end of our long, winding road there is a large horse farm and sheep. Indy and Graham, our two dachshunds, love those sheep! You are more likely to see horses walk down my street in the Summer time, than cars drive down it. Our neighbors are all over the age of 50, and they love having a young couple in the neighborhood! Regardless of their age though, they are very similar to us; they love the outdoors, are animal lovers, and are passionate about living in Vermont. It’s always a pleasure to run into a neighbor on a walk with the dogs. On the downside, though, because our house is a rather old farmhouse, the foundation is stone and it can be a bit drafty. That does allow for a great cool basement that we use as a wine/beer cellar but it makes it easier for various critters to come inside (eeep). After living in cities for 10 years, it took some time for me to get used to seeing a spider regularly. Now I realize it’s just a part of living in the country, but I would still say this is my least favorite part of the house! But my backyard more than makes up for it. Our home sits on 16 acres and we have a gorgeous apple orchard. In the fall, it looks like the trees are on fire and the apples are abundant. In the winter, we go snow shoeing right in our backyard.  In the Spring, the flowers begin to bloom and our garden of produce begins to thrive. In the Summer, the grass is a lush green and there is nothing like laying in the hammock under the trees. Every season there is something to look forward to.  You also can’t beat the stars out there. Because there is zero light pollution, on any clear night, you can see thousands and thousands of stars. It is really astounding. 

TSWIL Amanda Lee

On becoming entrepreneurs:

When we moved here, both Ben and I decided to start our own companies. Neither of us knew what would come of it and we were both working other jobs for income, of course, but we began the long and difficult process of seeing what would happen if we took a chance. Three years later, our two companies are my primary jobs. We co-own both and I could not love it any more!  Our first company is called Northern Bayou Cold Brew. It's a cold brewed coffee company. We sell bottles to various stores throughout the Burlington area and we also take part in the Burlington Summer Farmers Market and various other pop-up shops pouring our coffee on tap. The response has been incredible and in just a short time we have already moved into a facility that has allowed us to increase our production. We also are officially FDA Approved, which allows us to ship out of state! The other company is called Northern Bayou Apothecary. We make small-batch handmade salves, oils, and aromatic products. The apothecary shop is primarily online, which allows us to sell products all over the country. It is so much fun to start thinking about what is in store for our future. I have never been someone who plans too far ahead, but for now we are staying deeply committed to our businesses. We do have plans to get ourselves a camper to start exploring our country's National Parks, networking along the way. No matter what we are doing, however, this will always be home.

TSWIL Amanda Lee

On the inspiration behind her products, and her journey to found her company:

I attended the Art Institute of Boston and had a ton of interesting jobs over the years-  I've always been more of a gypsy than an office type. I would say the craziest career change I have had is when I sold all of my belongings and moved to Barcelona to become a nanny/English Teacher. Then about six years ago I began to work as a makeup artist at Sephora in NYC.  I loved doing it, but I found that all the chemicals and synthetic ingredients in the products were doing terrible things to my complexion.  That was when I decided to start making my own products that were natural and soothing to my sensitive skin. I started reading books about natural health and researching constantly. When we decided to move, I knew we would have more time and space to begin experimenting and producing these products. That is when Northern Bayou Apothecary was born.  As I was doing this, Ben began to startup the cold brew company. Now, both are up and running. And going strong!

Amanda Lee TSWIL

On adjusting to the seasonal pace of Vermont:

Moving to Vermont was a major change for me. I grew up on beaches in South Florida! There were lots of changes I had to make. The most traumatizing thing was having to retake a driving test to renew my license. Not only did I have to take a driving test, which by the way, seemed so much easier when I was 16, but I also had to learn how to drive in snow! Trust me, you did not want to be driving behind me that first winter… I’m not sure I ever exceeded 20 mph! My beauty philosophy shifted hugely. I went from making sure my nails were pristine every day, to making sure the garden was tended to in the Summer and wood always burning in the wood stove in the winter. Looking polished became less and less a priority and getting my hands dirty became everything!  Also, a huge misconception about Vermont is that people think there is nothing to do here.  That couldn't be further from the truth. You just have to go out and find your own adventure! This is a "four season" state, which means there are a ton of activities to do every single season. Whether its swimming, kayaking or ice skating, you can use the lake all year, and whether its on foot, on a sled, skis or a snowboard, you can always be active.  In a place like this you really have to embrace the outdoor lifestyle. As for apres-ski, Vermont has more breweries per capita than any other state in the country. 

TSWIL Amanda Lee

On what home means to her:

Home to me is a lot of things.  It is being surrounded by love. It is a wool blanket. It is maple trees. It is a hot cup of coffee or an ice cold beer. It is my husband and my dogs. It is sitting around a warm fire and having a place to hang up my jacket. 

Amanda Lee TSWIL

Describe your street in five words.:

A breath of fresh air.

TSWIL Amanda Lee

 When you walk down your street, what do you feel in your heart?

I feel genuine gratitude. It constantly reminds me of how lucky I am to live in such a majestic place and how lucky I am to be doing something I love and be living my life with someone I love.  Moving here was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made and it truly feels like the place I belong. 

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On her perfect day off in her neighborhood:

I wake up around 9 AM and lay in bed for an hour to read the news and catch up on social networking. Ben always brings me coffee in bed. Then I get up and head downstairs to do some yoga and really get my day going. After yoga and a lonnnnnnnnggg warm shower, Ben and I take the dogs on a hike, either on our street or on one of the various hiking paths in the neighborhood. After this we head downtown for some lunch at The Farmhouse and do a little shopping on Church St. Now we head over to Healthy Living, our favorite grocery store. We are definitely going to cook up a storm tonight! We head home, I have a glass of Chardonnay and Ben has a beer as we begin cooking dinner.  Lately we have been cooking a lot of interesting Asian dishes!  After dinner, we get under ALL the wool blankets we own with the dogs, and lie on the couch and watch a movie before heading back upstairs to cuddle up in bed, safe and sound.

Amanda Lee TSWIL

Photos by Travis Perrotte and Amanda. Ok, are we all ready to pack it all in and move to the country? Thanks sweet A for taking us on a tour of your beautiful part of the world and sharing the story of your home. You can follow Amanda on Instagram here. Also make sure to stop by The Northern Bayou Apothecary  store for all your gifting needs this Christmas. Handmade by the beauty above.


The Street Where You Live: Emma Gannon, Hackney, London

The Street Where You LiveAlexandra king1 Comment
Emma Gannon, The Street Where I Live blog

Today you're meeting the badass that is Emma Gannon, a country girl with a city heart who lives in Hackney, East London. By day, Emma is Glamour UK's Social Media Editor, and in the bits in between she's the author of the wildly popular Girl Lost In The City blog. Oh yeah, and she has a book coming out next year, casual, not to mention being a doppleganger for a 90's Drew Barrymore. What more is there to adore about EG? Now scroll down, take a walk down the street where she lives, and fall in love with her your goddam self.

Emma Gannon, The Street Where I Live blog

On being a country girl with a yen for the big city

I moved to London five years ago, after I graduated from University. I’m not from here originally, I actually grew up and went to school in Exeter, Devon, where our house is close to the town but also a 15 minute drive to some gorgeous Devon beaches. But I always knew I was a city person at heart. Although Devon is totally beautiful and I feel so lucky to have my family living there, the pace was always a bit slow for me. I had to get to London!

At first, I moved to Stoke Newington with my bestest friend in the world and we lived there together for four wonderful years in domestic bliss. It was the best. We did all the rebellious things you do when you’re young and living in your own London flat, going out late, meeting boys, having parties, hosting boozy dinner parties, LOTS of funny memories and forming silly routines like always ordering too much Sushi for dinner on Sunday nights on the balcony, smoking Vogue cigarettes and watching tacky MTV shows. I fell in love with the area- all the cafés on Stoke Newington High Street are firm favourites, like Café Z and Lazy Social. I also loved the little vintage shops and all the different Turkish places for breakfast.

But in January of this year it was “time” for me and my boyfriend Paul of 4 years to move in together, and we bought a flat in Hackney that we love. Thankfully, we are still a 10 minute walk from my best friend so we still go over for dinner. It's just short walk through Hackney Downs park and I’m at her house. 

Hackney, London, The Street Where I Live blog

On living in Hackney

I live in a apartment block in Hackney, on a corner that hasn't changed much over the years. This is home now. About 100 red London buses go by every day. Street music. Little shops. New things to discover around every corner. I live on Dalston Lane and it’s always buzzing. Even when I’m getting out of a taxi at 2am, lights are on, corner shops are open, people are outside smoking, playing music, having a good time. I’m a two minute walk from Hackney Downs park and my local is The Star by Hackney Downs for a nice pint in the sun. I also love the Pacific Social Club. The Pembury Tavern does good pizzas, too. And I go to the Pages of Hackney book shop a LOT. They always have amazing new reads but also second hand books in the basement too. I enjoy feeling all snug inside my house knowing that there are so many people in other flats around me. I like that everything is on our door-step. The train station gets me into central London in half an hour.  It's crazy when I think about the countryside where I grew up- such a contrast! I love going home to visit my parents at weekends, but staying in a house that is quite remote from other people now freaks me out a bit! I immediately miss the hustle and bustle whenever I go back home. I wouldn’t change where I live for anything. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I feel so happy here. I often feel like I'm in my own little bubble.

sunflowers in Hackney, The Street Where You Live

On finding her home

It’s our own little nest. We haven’t been here long so there’s still so much we want to do - I’m getting into making Pinterest boards of interior inspiration for the first time ever! I am totally in love with our flat. We saw it being advertised one day when going past on the bus and wrote the number down on a scrappy piece of paper. Paul, my boyfriend, went along to see if we could put a deposit down, but they’d all been bought already! But then, luckily, at the last minute, someone pulled out so we jumped at the chance. My little sister is currently living in our spare room and I love having her to stay. I suddenly feel very grown-up, being able offer a spare room to someone. It’s also just so nice to have my very own space for the first time. Back in April this year, I organised a surprise party for Paul. I covered the flat in balloons and party-poppers, turned our kitchen table into a fully stocked bar and invited lots of our friends round. A mutual friend of ours took Paul to the pub across the road while everyone arrived, then when they came back, BOOOOM big surprise party with speakers and music and drinks. Realising we could host good parties in the flat was always an important thing to test out! The balcony with the view of the Shard and Gherkin is pretty nice for when people are outside mingling, too.

Emma Gannon, The Street Where I Live blog

On loving what she does:

I love love love my job. I work at British Glamour magazine which is a pretty amazing place to work, and I’m surrounded by brilliantly creative people. My “job” as a whole seems to have gathered quite a lot of other moving parts along the way however, mainly because I’m a firm believer in having “side-hustles” and  gathering new projects. I have a blog which I adore and I post whenever I possibly can. It brings me lots of fun opportunities. I’m also writing a book which is out next year, so I have lots of different things going on but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I get bored very easily (hence why I’ve moved around and freelanced in so many places) but I just love dipping into different projects. No day is the same at Glamour and I love that.

Emma Gannon, The Street Where I Live blog

On how she got there, and the importance of following your heart:

I zig-zagged my way in. I read Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” recently and her advice for getting your dream job is not to think of a “career ladder” but a “career jungle gym”. That’s exactly how I’d describe my career as I’ve done a whole lot of side-stepping. My first job was interning at a global PR agency in Soho and I realised that I loved the digital side of things and so worked my way up in social media marketing. I moved up quickly, and by 23 I had a senior position managing a team of five people with a salary I could never have dreamt of having. However, plot twist: I was miserable, I didn’t enjoy managing people, I missed doing the writing and creating myself and I didn’t enjoy having to tackle spreadsheets. It wasn’t me. I wasn't being creative. So I took a bit of a “step down” in responsibility and salary to go and find myself a job in digital journalism so that I could create things again, and it was the best decision I ever made. I was writing and building up a portfolio the whole time I was working in marketing, so by the time it I wanted to make the side-step I had a lot of writing and social media skills to show magazines. Now I’m exactly where I want to be, for now. So for anyone considering a career change I’d always tell them to just do it as soon as possible. You can always go back to your old job, but if you don’t make the move you never know what could have been. It's scary, but usually worth it.

emma gannon, the street where i live

On travelling solo, but not alone:

I am really lucky to get to travel for work and for my blog. I love discovering new cities and new places and although I do sometimes take my boyfriend, I’ve learned to really enjoy travelling alone too. I feel like as long as I’ve got my little Macbook Air with me I'm good. Last weekend I actually went to Ibiza for work and although I was totally on my own I still felt totally connected- blogging and Whatsapping with my friends from my outside desk. I think social media is amazing for that; we no longer feel too far away from anyone. As for when I return, I always get that “back in London” buzz and I look forward to a cup of tea and sleeping in my own bed. I love our bedroom and having all my things around me.

Hackney, London, The Street Where I Live blog

On loving East London:

The plan was always to move to London with my best mate from home, though I had no idea just how much I’d fall in love with East London specifically. But this place does get a bad rep at times. People hate East London because of all the hipster bullsh*t. There’s always one part of every city that gets ripped apart for trying to be too cool. And I totally get why: the bloody Vape shops and all the novelty cafés (Cat café, Cereal café, the beards, the over-priced vintage, and the guys in tweed who ride Unicycles to work), but I still just love the vibe round where I live and I kind of love how bonkers it all is. People long for the good old days of East London, before Shoreditch got too hip, but I just love it because I’m near my mates and there’s so much creativity all around me.

Emma Gannon, The Street Where I Live blog

Describe your street in five words.

Busy. Diverse. Loud. Comforting. Home.

Emma Gannon The Street Where I Live

When you walk down your street, what do you feel in your heart?

I feel like I definitely belong in London. When I’m walking down my street I’m normally on my way to work or a book meeting or meeting with a PR so I normally feel excited and happy at how much I love my job. Or I’m walking home from a busy day and looking forward to getting into my pyjamas and snuggling up on the sofa with my boyfriend or cooking dinner for a friend.

Emma Gannon The Street Where I Live blog

On her perfect day in Hackney:

Normally it’s going for eggs and a latté at a nearby café, going for a stroll through Hackney Downs, picking up the newspapers and then coming home and listening to a podcast while I tidy the flat and then pop over to a friends or go to the cinema at Hackney Picturehouse, my favourite cinema in London.

Thank you sweet E! I want to run off into the sunset with those leopard print trousers right now! For more Emma, you can follow her on Instagram here, Twitter here, and read her fabulous blog, Girl Lost In The City, here.

 


The Street Where You Live: Isabelle Schäfer, Mexico City

The Street Where You LiveAlexandra kingComment
isabelle schafer mexico city

This week in The Street Where You Live you're meeting the sensational Isabelle Schäfer, who lives with her hunky husband Jose in Mexico City. Get ready to fall in love with this multi-lingual, multi-talented Mexicano, and take a walk with her down the street where she lives, in the beautiful enclave of Coyoacan.

street isabelle schafer

On her city, and her neighbourhood of Coyoacan:
 

I live in Mexico City, near the Coyoacan neighborhood, where Frida Kahlo once lived. I'm not from here originally – I am French and German – but my husband is Mexican. I arrived in Mexico over four years ago, after a year of long-distance with my then-boyfriend, after deciding to give him and his country a fighting chance! And I guess it worked out, seeing that we are married and I am still here!
 
I met my husband, Jose in New York. We were both studying at Columbia University Journalism School and we actually met on the fateful night of October 14th 2009, when we were both randomly invited to attend the Cabot Prize ceremony (a prize that goes to journalists that cover Latin America). The fanciness and the wine helped, and we talked all night. We started going out the next day and have been together ever since! 

isabelle schafer mexico wedding

On her Mexican and Swiss Weddings

We got married last year – twice. The civil ceremony took place in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, in my parents-in-law's little garden, followed by a party, complete with Enchiladas, Mariachis and Micheladas. A few months later, we got married in the beautiful Strasbourg Cathedral, the city where my parents had gotten hitched almost 30 years earlier. Friends and family, many of whom I hadn’t seen in years (being far away has clear downsides), came from all over France and Germany – and also Mexico, the US, Italy and even Peru! It was the most wonderful day. 

In terms of how different the two ceremonies were from each other, let’s start with the sheer size. There were more people at our small Mexican wedding than at our big European one. Mexican weddings are HUGE! My husband has four times more relatives than I do, even if I count the children of my cousins! 

Though the garden party we had can’t really be considered a real Mexican wedding, I have been to quite a few since  so I can tell you how ours would have looked like if we had chosen to do everything here. First of all, we would have needed more a lot more accessories for the religious ceremony. In Mexico, you not only exchange rings but also coins. They also place a big rosary around you and your betrothed. And the bride has to give the Virgin Mary a bouquet of flowers!

isabelle schafer wedding

I actually did that last part, in Europe, at our religious ceremony. I had my little bouquet ready for the Virgin Mary, but because the French priest didn’t know about this ritual, I just quickly went and laid it at her feet before we all left the church. But she got her flowers!

Then, Mexican weddings are huge parties. You arrive at the venue, you eat, you drink, you dance and you have a good time. A lot of tequila flows. Sometimes there are live bands. They hand out accessories, hats and masks, to disguise yourself while dancing. Most importantly, they hand out slippers for the women after a few hours. So thoughtful.  It’s a lot of fun!

In Europe we make more speeches, and the tequila is replaced with wine. But at the end of the night, everyone is on the dance floor, same as in Mexico. At our Strasbourg wedding, our Mexican friends actually brought Tequila - every person brought one bottle! And we had decorated the tables with small Mexican figurines. And my mother brought disguises for the dance. We made sure to represent!

 

isabelle schafer

On her street:
 

We live on a big, busy avenue, where the traffic is relentless. But once you cross the street you suddenly find yourself in Coyoacan, which has the feeling of a small, picturesque Mexican town. This is because it WAS a small town years ago, before Mexico City expanded and engulfed it.

There are cobbled streets, deep blue and orange facades, striking flowers and little coffee shops where locals stop to chat. In its ancient town centre, you will find one of the oldest churches in Mexico, a traditional market and a big square where you can hear music while eating at one of the restaurants and drinking mezcal.

People here have either been living here forever in big old houses that are probably family inheritances, or are students that appreciate the vibe and the short distance to the nearby university. Or foreigners who like the relative authenticity, or hipsters or hippies. It’s kindof like Mexico City’s Brooklyn.
 
We live in a rented apartment in a building that towers above the rest of the neighborhood, which means we have a lovely view of Mexico City’s skyline and its beautiful coloured skies . What I most like about it is the light – three quarters of our walls are windows and the light just keeps streaming in. It’s quite small, but we can use the building’s terrace to hang out, and there’s even a little gym space, where I run sometimes when it rains outside. I also love that our home is relatively near my work – I walk every day 20 minutes to my office, which is a complete luxury in the sprawling metropolis that is Mexico City. Here it’s completely normal to drive over an hour to your work place, or more if you are stuck in traffic. Also, it is near a beautiful park, where we can go for a run or just breathe a little and get away from the craziness.

isabelle schafer shelf


On her job, and learning Spanish fast!
 
I work as an online producer for an international organization in Mexico City. I love it, as it means I get to travel around Mexico and to other countries from time to time to shoot videos and write stories and take pictures. I get to write stories on topics that I care about, like education, health or other development issues in Latin America. And I work in an international environment with experts who really know their topic.
 
 When I first arrived to Mexico, my Spanish skills were rather basic. So I started taking Spanish lessons in the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico for about three months. There is a center for foreigners with daily Spanish classes, and excellent teachers. Noww I am working and writing more in Spanish than in English! 

isabelle schafer the street where you live

On Mexico City
 
People think that Mexico City is big, polluted and dangerous. I know, because that is what I thought before living here. This is partially correct, but there is so much more to it!
 
It is big of course, but there are pockets of the city that seem to be small cities by themselves. Every neighborhood has its own vibe, its own cultural activities and its own centre. I have to admit I probably know about 10 to 15% of the city, not more.
 
And there ARE problems with air pollution, mainly because of the heavy traffic. But there are many ways you can get around without a car, and the public transportation is very good – get ready to be squeezed with lots and lots of people, but you’ll probably get to your destination quicker. Also, in some places of the city you can rent bikes and go from bike station to bike station, and there are more and more bike lanes. And there are beautiful parks. The Chapultepec park is the biggest, but next to my building lies the Viveros Park, one of my favorite places in the city. You can  or sure find tranquility and green spaces in Mexico City!
 
As for the danger, well, you do have to be careful. But if you follow certain rules, like not taking taxis right off the street, or not walking alone in an unlit street, you will be fine. You do have to stay alert, but you certainly don’t have to stay inside all the time!
 
Also, the food in Mexico City is incredible and the variety of what you can find, both in markets and in restaurants is amazing. The food is what made me fall in love with the city, really.

isabelle schafer the street where you live

On the cultural differences for a European in Mexico

The biggest difference for me is the punctuality! When we are invited to dinners or parties, Jose knows that it doesn’t mean we have to arrive on time, while I worry a lot about us being late. But there have been so many times , even after arriving 45 minutes late, that we are the first ones there! In Mexico, wedding invitations often say that the ceremony starts 30 min earlier than it actually does, so people are on time. The problem is, if people know that, they’ll arrive even later! I’ve also learned to always have lemons and a bottle of salsa handy at home. Both are musts on our weekly shopping list. Even if I think it doesn’t go with what we are cooking, I know Jose will probably squeeze some lemon juice and salsa on his plate. I’m also now a big fan of fresh fruit with lemon and salt, which is how Mexicans eat their fruit.

 

 

And well, then there is American football. It’s huge in Mexico and people are crazy about their favourite team. I also got used to watching a lot more Spanish and Mexican soccer games, and I have come to like it, but American football is still quite boring for me to watch. I guess it makes a difference if you have watched it with your family forever, or, like me, when you still don’t get where the heck they are all running to. Anyways, I have been explained the basic rules over and over again by kind and patient friends, and I feel a little less ignorant. Don’t get me started on baseball.

isabelle schafer mexico city the street where you live

On Mexico City’s reputation for street crime

I haven’t had any problems so far (knock on wood and fingers crossed and all that). I think you need to stay alert in any big city, but there might be a few rules that are different. Here, for example, you shouldn’t hail a cab directly from the street, because they could be unregistered cabs that are used to kidnap people or rob them and so on. You should only unregistered cabs that have their own taxi station, with a telephone number, and proper licensing etc. I don’t walk on unlit, lonely streets after dark, because muggings do happen. I also try to not wear any flashy clothes and accessories so as to not draw attention to myself on the street or on public transport. Basically, what I am trying to say is you have to be aware of your surroundings. Like in any big city, I guess. I have a friend who had lived in Mexico City a long time, and never had any problems. Then she moved to NYC and got mugged!  Also I am always quite impressed when I talk to Mexican friends and they tell me their tricks and reflexes they have acquired throughout the years to avoid any problems. Some know their driving route so well, they know when to drive slower or quicker so as to avoid stopping at a red light, where people might try to mug you.

isabelle schafer the street where you live

On her multicultural, multilingual family

My parents speak spanish because they lived a couple of years in Argentina (and they actually met in Spain while taking Spanish courses), so there were no language barriers at all. Actually, most of my family, both French and German, speak Spanish. Some of my aunts and uncles even refreshed their Spanish skills so they could talk to Jose and his parents, I thought that was so sweet. Only with my grandparents, who also don’t speak English, do I have to translate. And Jose speaks a bit of German, so it’s all good. Everyone was super welcoming! 

My parents were actually very supportive of me going to Mexico, although it meant less stability for a while and it meant being far away. They get along very well with Jose, and I think they trusted us. 

In Jose’s family, I was very warmly welcomed since the beginning. Although it's considered unusual  in Mexico for couples to live together before marrying, nobody ever said anything. They actually threw me a welcome party with the family when I arrived to Mexico!

Mexico City is also a really friendly place for a European. There are many foreigners living here, and although I am not very close to the expat community, I often hear French and German in restaurants and in the street. There are many professional opportunities here too. Also, the food. I always come back to it, but it is SO important. People here love  to eat, and it makes everything more convivial. 

I also know quite a few German-Mexican couples, and French-Mexican couples, so apparently it works!

isabelle schafer the street where you live

On the pollution

The air quality varies here a lot. Before we go for a run, for example, we always check the government website to see what the air quality is that day. If it is really bad, we avoid running outside, because you might get a headache.

Mostly I feel the pollution when I walk on the street: sometimes my eyes will start burning and tearing up, and my nose starts itching and running. A bit like an allergic reaction. It's great when the rainy season comes, the air quality improves a lot! It somehow rinses away everything.

isabelle scafer the street where you live

On being homesick (mainly for bread)

Oh my goodness, I miss German bread, by which I mean dark, crusty, grainy bread. Here the bread is mostly white and/or sugary. And I miss butter. There is butter here, of course, but it just doesn’t taste the same. And I miss French cheese. I always miss French cheese. When I come home to my parents, I usually spend the first two days stuffing my face and then I get indigestion!

But if I lived in Europe I would miss the corn tortillas, the cheap, delicious avocados, the mangos and the guayabas, and just all the delicious dishes. And the mezcal. You can’t have everything!

 

On a place to call home:
 
This is going to sound cheesy, but home is where my husband is. I have moved so many times with my family to  different countries, so I don’t really associate a certain place with home. Home is where my parents are and now it is also where I live with my husband.

isabelle schafer

Describe your street in five words:
 
Busy. Lively. Modern. Lovely. Practical.

On her hilarious (but noisy) neighbours
 
Right next to our building is a small, very lively church. We can see it from our window. The churchgoers´ favorite way to show their joy is to shoot off fireworks. We can hear and see deafening fireworks for days in a row at Christmas, Easter, the local saint’s day or just any random Sunday. It is an impressive show and somewhat endearing, but it does mean sleepless nights from time to time, because they will go on for hours. The most extraordinary event I have witnessed so far was when Pope John Paul II became a saint. They had somehow built a wall of fireworks in the form of the late pope. Pretty impressive.
 
Next to the church there's a small school. Every morning at 7:30AM, they will start the day by something similar to gymnastics, which I guess is supposed to make the children focus. The teacher will have a loudspeaker, of course, and will scream into it: “Right, right, left, get in line, Juan, I told you to get in line, Paulina, stop talking, left, right.” It’s cute, hearing these little echoes of daily life.

isabelle schafer mexico city

When you walk down your street, what do you feel in your heart?

Sometimes it just hits me that I am really living in Mexico and I am still surprised!

flower salad

On her perfect day off in her neighborhood:
 
A perfect Sunday will start out with me making breakfast, usually scrambled eggs with vegetables and the inevitable delicious avocado, then fruit and home made coffee. Afterwards, we will spend an hour or so reading, writing e-mails or watching European soccer (my husband is a big Real Madrid fan).

Once we’re done, we love to go down to the Viveros park, a real oasis for us, where we would go for a run and then rest underneath the trees. We always get a fresh green juice from a little stand at the park’s entrance – they give it to you in small plastic bags with straws, so it’s easier to carry around. On our way back, we usually stop by our neighborhood bakery, and get pastries for later- most often a croissant and a concha, which is a Mexican brioche with sugar on it in the shape of a seashell.

After we’rehome and ready to head back out, we will stroll down to Coyoacan’s city center and have a bite at one of the restaurants – I love to have the flower salad at the “Café Ruta de Seda”, where you can enjoy the sun and tranquility, next to a small, hidden square. We also love the excellent cocktails and Italian food at the “Septimo” restaurant, and the Mexican food from Oaxaca and amazing mezcal at “Los Danzantes”, which has views on to the the main square. Then we’d top off our meal with a coffee or hot chocolate at our favorite coffee shop Café Avellaneda, which uses beans from Oaxaca and Chiapas, in the South of Mexico.

Towards the end of the afternoon, we might go to the Cineteca Nacional, a five minutes walk from our place, which is a cinema center that shows indie and European documentaries and films, and which has been recently transformed in an open, cultural space with libraries, coffee shops, and little stores.

After that, we would probably go back home, maybe hang out on terrace and watch the sunset, order some pizza, or pick something up from the taco place nearby- just enjoy life while fighting the Sunday blues!

Thank you so much, querido Isabelle. Gimme that flower salad right now! 

The Street Where You Live: Sarah Spencer-Ashworth, Brockley, London

The Street Where You LiveAlexandra king8 Comments
Sarah Spencer-Ashworth

In today's Street Where You Live, I'm thrilled to announce that you're meeting Sarah Spencer-Ashworth- Francoise Hardy's South London-dwelling twin, actress, puppy Maman and fresh and shiny new wifey to dashing husband Jack. Inspired by her English and French childhood, this interior design maven knows how to transform even the most daily and domestic of tasks into something sublime. Now scroll down and take a walk on the street where she lives, in Brockley, London. You're in for a treat.

brockley

On living in bucolic Brockley:

I moved into this beautiful enclave 5 years ago and just bloody love it.  I am a London girl by birth and grew up between Chiswick, West London and very rural, central France and as a result, crave Liberty's and trees and quiet in equal measure. I live on a beautiful wide, leafy street (that my mother calls a 'boulevard') with my new husband Jack Spencer Ashworth (artist/architect/handsome person) and a very small dog/meerkat named Pantoufles. My house is in a conservation area that has protected a 150 year mishmash of architectural styles; Brockley was the country retreat for Georgian Londoners and as such, there are beautiful, grand houses with long gardens. 

Brockley, London

On Brockley's unique identity:

There's a strange misconception sometimes that Brockley is out of London.  But it's Zone 2 and I get quite defensive about that! For me it offers the best of both worlds- village living in the world's best city. It is full of actors, digital brand consultants, artists and graphic designers alike.  They managed to sneak in between 1890 and 2009, before anyone realised it was here and it was nice.  There are lots of Conversed/organic tote carrying parents with beautiful children, called Arlo or Rafferty, who have their organic veg delivered and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sarah and Jack Spencer-Ashworth

On the sexy (and literary) way she met her future husband:

I met Jack on a weekend with friends; I lost/won a dare and had to lapdance him (!) Then we talked about William Boyd.  I was hooked. The hound baby joined us two and a half years ago when I visited a Dachshund breeder on the South Coast, with the full confidence that I was 'just looking' having been told that we, categorically, were not getting a dog.  The two of them are my world.

Sarah Spencer Ashworth

 

On being an actor:


I do lots of things and am rather greedy with my ambitions for domination in several industries, but above all else, I'm an actor- which is a silly game.  It is full and empty and amazing and terrible but ultimately, I choose to stick at it.  Theatre is my favourite acting and TV pays the bills, along with a host of part time jobs.  I had a very classical actor training at RADA at 18 and probably was not mature or intellectual enough but muddled through and had just the best time.  While friends were writing dissertations and developing their knowledge of narcotics, I was keeping a diary about my feelings on Stanislavksi techniques and learning to fake fight with a broad sword.  It was probably as dramatic as you'd expect, but I really loved it and though the real world is slightly less fun, I cope.  To furnish this career I have been a PA, a project manager, interior designer, hostess (not sexual), receptionist, waitress and sales assistant. I have also dressed up as an Innocent smoothie in Regent's Park, only to be kicked by a child, four times smaller than me. I love being self employed; a quiet and sunny afternoon, in the garden, with a book, totally justifies my terrifying credit card balance. I have many grand ideas about a vast future property portfolio to compliment my acting career; through which I can indulge my other great passion of interior design.  Must start earning some money.

  

Sarah Spencer Ashoworth home


On her gorgeous flat:


My home is a ground/sort of lower ground floor flat with a magical rose garden that I bought five years ago and every day I think about how lucky I am to have this special thing. I knew, the moment I clapped eyes on her, that she was the one for me. 

 

Sara Spencer Ashworth home Brockley, London

The previous owners were a wonderful gay couple in their 80's, one of whom had been a Major in the army and the other, a director at the London College of Fashion. They spent two hours explaining every nook of the place, plying me with Lapsang tea and making sure I wrote down the name of each garden rose. They had moved in the day I was born and they hadn't touched the place in 25 years.  The day before we completed the sale, they rang to make me promise I would water the hydrangeas as soon as I arrived.

When I began the renovation process it was a jumble of maritime prints, mahogany furniture and wood chip walls (4 layers deep, I later found out) but it was a real and beautiful home. I have spent the last 5 years doing it up.  It needed re-wiring, new floors, new plaster, new heating- the lot. Every time I get a little bit of money in, I replace the Ebay furniture I filled it with in the beginning. 


On her beautiful garden and some great (and not so great) neighbours:

Pantoufle in the garden


I adore my garden and generally, how much green there is in Brockley. The highlight of my week, aged 30, is 'Gardener's Question Time' on Radio 4.  And the people; everyone remembers my dog and asks about him if they see me on my own.  The three times I've left my key in the front door, someone has rung the bell to tell me, which is reassuring. Having said that, there is a block of flats opposite us where a Staffordshire Terrier dog is left permanently on a tiny, second floor balcony, all hours of day or night, come rain or shine and it makes me cry.  Despite reporting it so many times, the RSPCA can't do anything as it is not considered a "priority case" and neither can the council, and I can't bear it.  

Sarah Spencer Ashworth streey


Describe your street in five words.


Peaceful. Leafy. Handsome. Friendly. Eclectic.

 

Sarah Spencer Ashworth Brockley


When you walk down your street, what do you feel in your heart?


Lucky, safe and relaxed.  We have lovely church bells just up the road from us and when I hear them ring out, I really could be in any lovely village and totally forget it's London.

Sarah Spencer Ashworth The Street Where You Live



On her perfect day off in her neighbourhood


If it was a Saturday morning, we would head to Brockley Food Market, which is wonderful.  There are so many great food stops and farmers' stalls and it's great for people watching the afore mentioned ironically trainer-ed creatives who populate these parts.  At some point in the day, I will head to Browns of Brockley for very good iced coffee.  They make a massive fuss of the dog and feed him leftover madeleines.  He likes this and I pretend I think he is spoilt.  We walk up to Hilly Fields, which is a friendly, small park with lovely views across South London, and Pantoufles propositions other dogs.  We always walk home a different route so I can decide which other houses I'd like to buy (haha).  There is no greater pleasure than pottering in my garden, with my boys, and that would always be my afternoon activity of choice.  I re-pot things and prune things and dream about when it all looks perfectly overgrown.  There are two favourite dinner options of Mezze Mangal, a cracking Lebanese grill and Masala Wala Cafe, which does wonderful Pakistani home food and then back to the garden for wine and nice friends. 
 

Brockley South London, TSWIL

Thank you, sweet Sarah, for letting us hang out in your beautiful home. Can I teleport into your beautiful home for tea right this minute?