Falling for Fall

Fall, Autumn, whichever you may call it; there's nothing quite like the way London does it. There's something so beautifully dismal and calming about waking up to a rainstorm in October. In my short three weeks here it feels like I've lived in London a lifetime, this city knows my soul, it compliments me in every way. I can enjoy walking down the electrifying streets that make up Shoreditch's infamous Brick Lane just as much a I cherish an escape into Kensington Gardens for a picnic and meaningful conversation with a dear friend. Other cities don't compare to the chaotic mess that is London.

Bun-day Fun-day

Much like the weather, the city constantly pulls me in every direction; each hole-in-the-wall cafe and mom and pop shop vying for my attention. But it's more than just the sipping and the shopping. There's something to be said about the way each store, each big red bus that whizzes by (in the wrong direction I might add), each piece of this city connects me to a feeling, a memory that makes it feel like I'm taking a deep breath of fresh air every time I walk around a new street corner. 

Harrod's Perfection

Black & White Watercolor

This week has been full of new discoveries- in the city and in the classroom. I got the chance to dabble in illustration this week and it's something that usually puts me out of my comfort zone- needless to say I'm a big fat perfectionist when it comes to my artwork and this week it was about letting go of striving for perfection and going with the flow of your paintbrush. Instead of being allowed an hour or so to work on each piece, my class was given no more than ten minutes to create a watercolor illustration; and thus I was given anxiety. First instinct told me to sit and analyze and calculate how I wanted my piece to turn out but the time didn't necessarily allow it. It became about learning to utilize my unique illustration style and to not strive to be like another artist; because what I can create is what makes me differ from others. Otherwise we'd all be the same and then where would we be? 


Sculptures outside of the Saatchi

Skipping over to exploring more of this vast and captivating place I now call home. I've settled into a routine- a lesser favorite of mine is the task of grocery shopping. Don't get me wrong I love exploring the isles for that  jar of Nutella just as much of the next girl, but putting it on a schedule where I can only buy what I need once a week leaves me eating plain pasta for a week (here's where I mooch and say if anyone would care to send me real food you know where to find me). My good friend Kiri and I sauntered through the local grocery store on Saturday morning before heading off to the Saatchi Museum to spend a girls day out perusing the many floors and hallways; narrowly escaping a horde of giant ants and pausing for a breath to take in the rooms filled with prepossessing modern art.

Don't they jut give you a good dose of the heebie jeebies?

Why are you smiling? Run Away!

Fascinating graffitied glass and Kiri having a look at the opposing side.  

Shadows are lurking. 

Snap Snap.

The artist used Sharpie as the medium. Amazing. 


My new Church: The Brompton Oratory.

Sundays are reserved for early morning mass (after an extensive search I finally found a Church I can call home located in Kensington and it is wonderful) and long afternoons with my dear friend Anna exploring new and revisiting old pieces of London that delight our spirits. The day started off with catching up over some of the best coffee (try a vanilla latte with on lump of brown sugar and it's like you just tasted heaven) at our go to place- Pitfield London a local coffee shop + cafe + and odds and ends store located just near her flat on Brick Lane. We then meandered down to Columbia Road Flower Market where we discovered mini pink pineapples and big faced sunflowers are sold side by side.

Infamous Vanilla Latte and a morning read. 

Also some of the best toast I've ever had.

This week we were feeling a bit homesick for the comforts of the food back home so we stumbled into the large open-aired room of Pizza East and hunkered down to a hearty pan of wood oven mac n' cheese and a delicious margarita pizza. They were each gone in seconds. 

She's a beauty!

Come to momma. 

Gone before you can say "Mac n' Cheese." 

As I sit here typing away at two in the morning; sometimes it is necessary to surrender sleep in order write what truly pulls at your heart; I will never understand why natives and visitors alike, whip out there umbrellas at the first sign of rainfall. I can't get enough of the way the rain pelts you in the face and seeps through your clothes as the crisp Autumn wind whisks around your body as you walk to your destination. I suppose I don't, and won't, understand because I love the rain, I love how it softens the outlines of things. The world becomes softly blurred and I feel like I can melt right into it. And that's one of the many reasons I've fallen for London and fallen for Fall. 

 

Note: All photos and illustrations are property of Haley Sieben. 

Toe Blisters & the Big Move

I am squeezing in the time to whip up this post before the rest of the week jams up with craziness from class induction. It includes collaborating with three other students from a country other than our own to create an extreme fashion design based off of our respective countries that will be walked down a runway and judged by the rest of our peers (think materials such as paper, trash bags anything cheap you can find really). It's like getting to play with your food but better. 

Rainy London, my favorite kind of day (This city knows me well).

A look down my street in Islington.

This is a mammoth of a post, be forewarned. I am now all moved in and situated in my very own flat in East London, in a borough named Islington. I can tell you I'm most definitely not in Kansas anymore! London is such a vibrant city full of life and quirks and surprises around every street corner. 

It's been a magnificent and overwhelming week adjusting to this beautiful city and all that comes with it. I was so blessed to be able to have my sweet Mom accompany me on the starting leg of this amazing adventure and we had a right old time exploring and living like locals together!

Ah more rain. 

Be sure to look right not left!

Our flight finally pulled into London at the bright and early time of 6 o'clock in the morning and were greeted by our surly (young) cab driver. He must not have been a morning person either because he hardly spoke five words to us and then proceeded to drop us off in the middle of Camden Town and went on his merry way! Note: I suppose one way to learn your way around the city quickly is to be dropped off twenty minutes away from your intended destination. All that aside, Mom and I navigated the bus for the first time like a pair of old pros and made it to my flat building in no time and I was able to set up camp lickety-split. 

My flat - I bring the important things, like pink running shoes. 

No beard, No problem. 

Making home all homey. I even bought some fresh sunflowers at Columbia Market to bring a bit of Kansas to London.

Overrun with confidence we set out to find Mom's flat that she would be staying in for the week. Little did we know how directionally challenged we would be without working mobile phones to help us navigate the treacherous streets of London. We spent thirty minutes taking the "scenic route" only to discover the flat was, quite humorously, right across the street from my own building. 

Where I found the holy grail of American Products i.e. JIF and Lucky Charms. 

The first day and a half really consisted of exceedingly fun activities like heckling bank tellers to help me set up a bank account as quickly as possible, getting my own UK mobile number set up, and deciding wether or not to buy UK peanut butter or go hunting for my, no fail US JIF peanut butter (I was successful and now have my JIF safely stored in my cabinet in my room). 

American Football is taking over Regents Street.

They're everywhere. And they smell. 

She's so beautiful. And Pensive. 

The rest of moving in consisted of highs and lows- such as learning to travel on the Underground (or the Tube as the Brits like to call it), and running around Regents Street breathing on the windows of stores I could never afford, like the Burberry Flagship and Liberty of London.

My favorite portion of Liberty: the flower shop. 

I'm living a fantasy. 

We found a Pub on this street and grabbed some afternoon Pints and Fish & Chips. 

Insane live plant wall at Anthropologie. 

Close up and artistic. 

And this Perfumery.

We were later joined by my Uncle Jacob who I unexpectedly ran into on the street after we had been waiting a few hours for his arrival- afraid he was lost in the streets of London (we later learned it was due to a flight delay). He delighted us to an early morning exploration along the Thames River and a tour of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, and even though he is not one of my favorite authors, the history and magnificence that is the Globe is captivating; and hey, they even had a piece on all the costumes of the period so my designer's heart was more than happy! 

Running across the Thames? Falling? Gliding?

The Globe Theatre.

It wouldn't be right if there wasn't at least one picture with my eyes closed. 

Can you name the Designer?

Speaking of fashion, we made a stop to the Victoria & Albert Museum which is truly something else. We circled around an exhibit based on the transformation of fashions throughout history (which has always been a favorite of mine!). Then spent some time exploring a jewelry exposition that had pieces dating back to 700BC and beyond, completely mind blowing. After ignoring our stomach growls and aching feet for far too long we strolled out to the courtyard and sat ourselves down to enjoy people watching, the beautiful overcast sky, and a darn good scone with jam. 

 

The Courtyard. 

Intricate mosaic tiling outside the museum.

Markets were another agenda on the list, we briefly made it to three: Camden, Borough, and Columbia Road Flower Markets. Two hustling and bustling with the days commuters popping in for a quick lunch and morning florists off to get their flowers for the week. At Camden we happened to arrive right when it was opening so strolling along the canal minus the crowds was an unusual plus.

Borough Market

Brownie Mountain. 

This was the coolest, and it smelled pretty amazing too. 

Columbia Road. 

I wouldn't mind spending Sunday mornings here. 

Unreal!

Quiet morning in Camden.

Later on Sunday, Mom and I made our way over to Kensington Gardens to try our hand at the traditional Afternoon Tea. Arriving about an hour ahead of schedule we made time to gallivant around the park and explore the goose-lined shore's of Round Lake. It's a moment like this where I realize how much I already love this city. To be able to escape into a massive haven right in the middle of a busting metropolis is unparalleled. Meandering our way over to the Orangery (did I mention the Tea Room is located in Prince Harry's house? *Harry I'm definitely single*) and were served some of the finest tea and sugar I've ever consumed, as well as a handful of delicious scones and pastries and savory sandwiches. 

Round Lake in Kensington Gardens.

So much space!

Prince Harry's House. Ahem. 

Tea Time!

Here a sip there a sip.

I can fly!

Though this fun week with Mom has ended (and she's moved on to the greener pastures of Paris-thanks for taking me [I wish!].), and the real work is starting now, I can't be more thankful for the blessing of getting to have my Mom help me move across the ocean. Although she might not be able to help me track down and kill gargantuan bugs that fly through my window (that's a whole other story), she will always be there to give me the love and support she has shown for me throughout my life. 

 


Choosing No Favorites

I thought I'd include a recent post from an assignment for class starting this coming week. Enjoy reading my homework. 

"Hi all it's so lovely to finally be here in London and I am equally enthused to meet everyone when classes start on Monday!

Projects like these are always impossibly difficult for me since choosing favorites is almost unthinkable. There are so many styles I admire that I tend to borrow from a few. My style has an overall relaxed vibe with a little bit of tomboy, a few indie influences thrown in and notes of feminine on occasion. I also love layering so I tend to wear two or three layers on top-hence why fall is one of my favorite seasons to dress for (One of few things there is a clear winner).

All dressed up and ready to explore.

Keeping with the no favorites theme, I can hardly choose one place to be the best of from my hometown. I hail from Kansas City so when most people first hear that their first instinct is to ask about the Wizard of OZ or cows or something else stereotypical of the area!

My favorite place in KC is not necessarily a physical place-it tends to be wherever I am with good company. Where I can spend it with my beautiful friends and family. Whether that be grabbing lunch at a local Farm-to-Table restaurant downtown, snagging some amazing Nutella Banana crepes with a friend before work, or relaxing on a bench in my outdoor garden at home; the whole city is my favorite place to be when I am surrounded by the ones I love.

Photo Credit to Mary Tullis 

Missing Quay Coffee with Mary Tullis! 

As for a favorite place in this beautiful city we all get to call home I am very much drawn to the little roadside flower carts/markets and anywhere you can be outdoors- I'm still exploring and learning left from right when it comes to looking before you cross the street-but I have driven by Regents and Hyde Park and they are nothing short of astonishing. I think it's so fantastic and unique that there are such huge and beautiful parks in the middle of this big urban city. All the more reason to love London!"