Wednesday, October 19, 2011

HALLOWEEN is almost here! Gold Pumpkins & Cute Costumes!

I learned last year that the UK and the USA celebrate Halloween differently and with just shy of a week to go before this AMAZING Holiday,  I thought I'd highlight some of the differences along with my Halloween LOVES!!!!

LOVE:  The idea of spray painting your mini pumpkins GOLD and maybe even kicking it up by gluing some glitter over!  I found this idea on my favorite blog and think it's easy for those of us without the time to carve a pumpkin!!!

LOVE:  CANDY CORN!!!!  They don't have it over here in the UK and many have NEVER HEARD OF IT (or tootsie rolls if you can believe it!).  My parents blew me away by sending two GIANT containers over.  The first was gone in 30 minutes so I've hidden the 2nd for next week!!!  They rule and SO DOES CANDY CORN!!!

LOVE:  CUTE BABY COSTUMES (and all costumes for that matter).  Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE DRESSING UP IN COSTUME!  I have had a few outfits that I'm quite proud of and I live for transforming into someone or someTHING totally different.  I was surprised (and disappointed if we're being honest) when I found out that people ONLY dress as SCARY things here....witches, ghosts, spiders etc.  ...even the babies!  I have collected some of my favorite baby costumes from the states to give my UK peeps an idea of what we're dealing with in cuteness from back home...I hope you love them as much as I do!!!!

This is my dear friend Laura's BEAUTIFUL daughter dressed as a potted bunch of flowers.  I'm going to shout her out and mention that she MADE this costume.  She makes lots of cool baby stuff!  Check out her Etsy page HERE.   I melted when I first saw this costume.  I don't think she was walking yet...can you think of anything more perfect!?!?!

Martha Stewart always has such GREAT ideas when it comes to holiday decorating, entertaining etc.  She did a whole story on baby costumes and these are my faves!!  

A little Chicken!  Why not!?!?!

Maybe the cutest Bat I have ever seen.  Ignore the hands holding our little super hero up!!!

The below isn't from Martha's's a gem I found while researching.  I think you would need a BABY for this one...who would just chill out in their AIR FRESHENER costume...HILARIOUS!  I love it!  I pity my one day child...we are going to have SO MUCH FUN with costumes!!!!

...and finally,  my favorite little monkey of them nephew Ryder is READY for a night of trick or treating!  Could you just melt!?!?!  Those ears?  That little BANANA!!!  I can't deal with how cute he is sometimes!!!!  I think I'm going to have to bring this tradition from the states...over here to the UK!  

Happy weekend everyone and GET AMPED for Halloween next week!!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Scotch Eggs, Cheese and the Queen?

I have been told many times by my British friends,  that I need to try a Scotch Egg.  The thought of it made my stomach turn and I didn't even know what it was.  I was imagining  a raw egg covered in something...but I wasn't sure what.  I had the amazing opportunity/invite to dine at The Hinds Head Pub in Bray this past Saturday.  This isn't just any pub, was voted Pub of the Year in 2011 and its sister restaurant is the Michelin 3-star rated The Fat Duck.  The chef, Heston Blumenthal,  is known around the world for his slow cooking methods and, as a result,  AMAZING food!  THIS WAS WHERE I WAS HAVING MY SCOTCH EGG!!!

Scotch Eggs are hard boiled eggs (in this case, a quail's egg I think as it was quite small)  surrounded by ground sausage and finished with bread crumbs and then deep fried.   They can be served cold on salads or hot.  For all of my American peeps,  you can get them on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair!!!  Check it out! 

I can now make it official...I'm a HUGE fan!  I'm going to have to learn to make these (fairly easy I would imagine) as I don't think anywhere will top The Hinds Head!!!!

My fellow diners (our friends from up the road and The Tester/my boyfriend) also had beautiful starters.  Check them out! 

Above is the Soused Mackerel with Beetroot and Horseradish.  

The tester had the Ham Hock and Foie Gras Terrine with Piccalilli.  It was pretty fantastic and extremely rich!  


I had the Poached Cod (above) with Celeriac, Beetroot, Smoked Fennel and Brown Shrimp (which I learned are mini-me shrimp).  It was flaky, light and full of flavor...the perfect portion size!

My friend had the Free-range Pork Belly with Pearl Barley and Wheat Beer.  I didn't try this one but she said the Lentils were AMAZING.

This is the "BEFORE" of the Oxtail and Kidney Pudding.  I tried it and it was SO RICH...I didn't think I could handle more than a few bites.  My friend, on the other hand........

Yeah, THIS is the "after" photo.  It was his birthday...I say "GO FOR IT!"

I'm full just writing about it!  I do have enough room for dessert though!!

The men had the Warm Chocolate Pudding with Orange Mamalade Ice Cream (above) while the women enjoyed the CHEESE PLATE SELECTION (My favorite no matter where I am!!!)

We got to enjoy some fine British Cheeses along with some oatcakes,  fruit bread and fig chutney.  My favorite was the stilton cheese spread on an oatcake with fig.  The perfect salty/stinky cheese/sweet combination!  You can get fig spread at most grocery stores.  I highly recommend blending it with stilton.  

I could eat only cheese for the rest of my life and be completely happy!  The lunch at The Hinds Head was such a beautiful meal that I will remember for a long time.  I hope you enjoyed the photos.  If you know of other amazing spots in England...let me know about them!

ONE MORE THING on The Hinds Head!!!  If you know my blog at all,  you know I am obsessed with coffee cups and (strangely) bathrooms.  Check out the beautiful photos of a young Queen Elizabeth that were on display in the bathroom at The Hinds Head!  

This one I have seen a few times before and it never gets old.  She was a stunning young queen.

This one I haven't seen.  My friend pointed out (and I also think it's fantastic) the beautiful brooch/corsage.  This makes me look forward to more postings on the blog about what Kate is wearing!!  She is the new generation and I love that this blog follows her every wardrobe success, failure and malfunction!!!

That's all for now...Have a great week everyone!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pancakes, and tulips and cheese OH MY!!!

I had the wonderful opportunity of heading to Amsterdam this past week as part of my 9-5.  While working,  I stumbled onto some cool finds in this amazing city.  While there aren't too many photos of the architecture,  there is some other cool stuff.

How cute are these water bottles?   When you order water at a restaurant,  you don't get tap water (not even an option),  or large bottles of still water....but rather,  these cute tiny bottles.  I won't dwell on how much they set you back ...but cute enough...

...while shopping,  I stumbled onto these amazing primary color goodness stereos...If anyone knows what they are...let me know.  

Let's stop and enjoy the view...from my hotel room.



more fruit

beautiful fruit!

...and the smallest oranges I have ever seen...the size of a grape.

Whole Figs...haven't seen them whole before...maybe I have been living under a rock.

Enough fruit....CHEESE!!!!!!   Gouda, Edam, Goat's Cheese, SMOKED Cheese!!  Woot!

These selections will do...I'll try a bit of this...a bit of that!

Piles of smoked tasty!

Night has fallen,  let's head to the red light district.  If you have never heard of this area,  read about it here.

Now that you have read...yes,  prostitution is legal in the Red Light District.  I had no interest in that so I decided to awe over this dress in a window near by...amazing!!!!

Next day,  en route to breakfast,  I got to see The Flower Market!.  It was amazing and I saw flowers that I didn't know existed!  I hope I can go to The Tulip Festival one day.  Apparently,  there are tulip fields as far as the eye can see!!!!  

Bulbs waiting to be purchased and planted!!!

This is one I haven't seen before...

Let's get to the good stuff...the food of the region.  More specifically,  my dutch pancakes!!!!  I have this thing where I'm loving taking photos of coffee.  You may recall the cup of joe from my last post on Paris.   It was more feminine and shabby chic in appearance.  In Holland,  the cups were glass sitting on a bright yellow saucer.  I loved how cute (but different to Paris) it was.  This will be something I continue to photograph as I travel.

I give you...DUTCH PANCAKES!!!!!  These were a mini-version covered in powdered sugar and (yes you saw that right)...BUTTER!!!!  It was as delicious as you are imagining!!!

 I couldn't believe I stumbled onto some POST-IT war art!  I read about this new street art  phenomena happening around the world where people make art with post-it notes.  Check out more images HERE from a story run by The Guardian recently.

I know there isn't too much in terms of tourist photos but that isn't ultimately what this blog is about.  It's more of the random stuff...and I found plenty of that in Amsterdam.

Here are a few more things I'm obsessing over recently....

1)  I need these sequin pants from Reiss. 

2)  I was at a coffeehouse and their tip jar was a £ sign (UK Money for US peeps) on a plastic computer key like this one.   

4)  A new FOODIE blog!!!  I can't wait to try some of these great recipes!!  Check out the roasted tomato soup with broiled cheddar.  HAPPY FALL!!!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Welcome Back Southern Stump....Where have you been? In Paris of course!!!

Hi everyone.  Yes, I have been away for a while and lazy with my blog.  That all changes now.  I went back and saw some posts and thought "You have done some super fun things since July and have some beautiful pictures that might make people smile,  make them hungry,  or just get them away from life's stress for a bit" I'm back.

As a first post in a few months,  what better to cover than my trip this past weekend to Paris?!  It wasn't a big long holiday,  just a quick stop in so I could see some old friends and do a bit of wandering around while enjoying the sites, smells and tastes of this gorgeous city.

I think growing up in a coastal town in North Carolina,  the idea of New York, London, Rome, and Paris were so exotic to me.  I knew I wanted to spend time in these mysterious places I had only seen in movies and read about in glossy fashion magazines....but I don't think I could have ever imagined that I would live in two of them and visit the others multiple times.  I have been very lucky with the opportunities I have been given and in the people I have met (especially my amazing man-friend who introduced me to London where we live now).  I hope you enjoy these pictures of beautiful Paris....

As far as Architecture goes overall,  I haven't seen anywhere that touches Paris.  Rome is beautiful also and I love it (prob. more than any city) but when it comes to overall cityscape and the beauty of every block...Paris takes the prize.  If you can't make a trip to France,  head down to New Orleans in The United States...they have loads of architecture with Parisian influence.  Check out my New Orleans blog HERE 

My first afternoon in town, I wanted to get some chocolate as I wandered around.  I went in a few places before finding Fauchon.  It is similar to a Dean and Deluca in New York but they have a whole separate store full guessed it...Chocolate...or as the French say "Chocolat"...

An Eclair with a thin Chocolate wafer placed on top looking at you.  I think I recognize that woman!

One of each please ;)

I don't have words.  Wet looking/amazing/beautiful.

Fig, Blackberry, Blueberry Tart.....(mouth = watering)

Every city I visit,  I like to enjoy the food (obviously).  There is always one dish that sticks with me.  In Florence,  it was the Gorgonzola Pear Tortellini.  Check out that goodness deliciousness on my Italy blog HERE.   In Paris this trip,  the standout/handsdown/no question dish that I will remember forever was the Black Truffle Omelette I had at Laduree'.  I saw it on the menu and questioned the marriage of truffles with breakfast,  but figured if I love omelettes, and I LOVE truffles....why not give it a try?  It basically changed my life.

It is rare that a meal defeats me. 
This omelette was SO RICH that I couldn't finish it.  
Paris - 1  Southern Stump -0

How cute are these cups?  I went to crop this image but I thought the blue "borrowed from the boys" shirt that my friend is wearing in the background is so effortlessly tres' chic that I decided to keep it. 

I tried a new restaurant this trip called Patrelle.  I have just gone to their website and it is FANTASTIC...full of beautiful pictures.  It took me back to my meal I had while there...delightful!  My favorite bit about this restaurant was the fact that they had one chef cooking for the entire restaurant.  His kitchen was in clear view of our table and I was just mesmorized by him.  It looked like he was in his kitchen at home making a meal for his family.  I was able to sneak a photo of him....the website does a much better job of illustrating how cool his kitchen was but for our purposes,  this will do.

My photos from the meal aren't great as the restaurant was dark and I felt like a touristy loser using my flash so not too many to share.  Again,  look at their website to get an idea of how BEAUTIFUL all of the ingrediants were.  I was able to doctor up the image of our complimentary appetizers. 

This is a puff pastry sitting on a bed of radishes and topped with mushrooms.  I can't remember what else was on them but they were lush!!!

The next photo and final note on Patrelle... is a perfect segue into the last portion of today's blog where I'll just add some randomness....The BATHROOM at Patrelle was really cool.  The walls were covered with overlapping oversized shells.  It was 3-dimensional and just looked really cool.   There was also a sign written in French that I thought looked interesting.  I hope it doesn't say something graphic relating to bathrooms!!!  Even if it did,  it's in French and that makes it beautiful!!!

Here are just a couple more random fun shots from my trip....

Empty Frames on a Bright Orange Wall = Southern Stump Amore

I stopped by a pop-up museum and bypassed the exhibit to head straight toward the giftshop!  As people where leaving,  they stuck their "I've paid for my entrance" stickers on a board at the exit.  I took a shot of all of the stickers slabbed together because I thought it looked quite interesting.

Outside Chanel....going for the "Caged Glamour" shot here....not bad if I do say so myself!

Thomas Jefferson is quoted saying, "A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life."  I definitely agree with that.  When in Paris,  you have to slow down,  enjoy the beauty, the food, the wine and as a are enjoying life.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!