&what | happy londonversary.

Exactly 1 – year ago I packed my bags and moved across the pond, changing the life of ashley madeline as I knew it – to be only slightly dramatic.

The past year has been full of amazing memories, unique experiences and lessons that I will always treasure. To say I have grown up and become more London Fresh in the past year is an understatement. With this growing up, has come a few words of wisdom from yours truly.

1. Always follow your dreams. Everyone has dreams, but not everyone has the courage to follow them. London was my dream and I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way of achieving this. One of my favourite quotes is ” I would rather life a life of ‘oh wells’ than a life of ‘what ifs'”. There is something to be said for never letting your dream be the ‘what if’ in life – trust me, it is always much better for it.

2. Friendships are not about quantity, but quality. When friendships are no longer a matter of convenience, you realize which friendships are true. They say after high school you see this, but trust me when you move half way across the ocean – it is an even bigger test. Fortunately, I am happy to say that my nearest and dearest have stuck by my side and although we don’t talk everyday, nothing has changed. We’re still part of each others lives and my favourite part is that – even if it has been 6 months, it is exactly like it was when we had sleepovers every day of the week. Those are the true friends that cannot be replaced. The same can be said for people you meet in a new city. There will be plenty and it will be lonely at times, but you must remind yourself that 1 or 2 quality friendships are better than a dozen in-genuine ones.

3. Life is short. This should not be confused with YOLO mentality. No, that is just silly. However, it is always good to have a gentle reminder that we aren’t going to be here forever, and you won’t always be 22 with all the freedom in the world. This year I have learned to take advantage of every moment and live it to the fullest. You really do only get one life and if this year is any example, it goes by VERY quickly. So cherish every experience and be happy through it all. Because the bad times don’t last and good times don’t either. You just have to decide what you want more of.

4. Do what you love. Some people are lucky and they find what they love at an early age in life. Others need to walk a few different paths to find it. Through a series of events, I was lucky enough to find what I loved at an early age and work towards this. I couldn’t be happier in my career and find it the perfect creative outlet for me. It is important to have a passion for what you wake up and do every day. If it gets to the point where that doesn’t bring you happiness, change it. This year I realized the potential for success you have when you love what you do. And trust me, it is much higher when you enjoy it vs. force yourself to love it.

5. We are the masters of our own destinies. Every decision and choice made impacts your destiny – some more than others. I feel like people raise their hands and wait for things to happen if they’re ‘meant to be’. This is a perfectly fine (and often used) strategy, however, people often underestimate what they actually have control over in their lives. If you want something bad enough and you work hard enough, you can make it happen.

6. Never get too comfortable. When you are comfortable, you don’t grow. Unless it is being comfortable on the couch – then maybe you grow a belly. Anyways, a good friend of mine always said you can never stop paddling in life. If you think of life as an ocean and you are swimming against the current, every time you stop paddling you move backwards. This year has taught me that no matter how comfortable you get in a place, or even how uncomfortable you are in a place, you must always keep paddling and moving forward. The things that are waiting for you could be amazing.

7. Your health is your wealth. Wise words from my parents. Of course, when you are completely run down, sick and still have to keep going you remember them. It is so important to eat healthy, exercise, take breaks and try your best not to be stressed. There comes a time where you can’t do it all and usually your health is the first warning sign to let you know this. A healthy lifestyle is so important, you do after all, only get one body. Take care of it.

8. Everyone needs someone to lean on. Most people assume that the type of person to move to a new city is independent and has a strong outer shell. It may appear that way, but everyone cracks. During those days when things aren’t going your way, everyone needs someone to lean on. If you’re special enough to have someone like that, make sure you let them know how much you appreciate their listening to you while you catch your breath between the tears.

9. You have to put yourself out there. Moving to a new city can be is hard. You come there with nothing and have to build a new life for yourself. A whole new group of friends, a new home, a new comfort zone and pretty much a new foundation all together. The only way to do this is to put yourself out there. You may be an introverted person and uncomfortable in certain situations but if you want to build all of these things, the only way to do it is to get out there and find them.

10. Don’t doubt things. Ask anyone, my biggest problem is doubting things. It can be the most insignificant to the most important thing in life, and I will always find a way to doubt it. This year, i have learned to not doubt things. Life is full of experiences and things do happen but you have to believe in some things, whether it be the future, love, friendships until you are given a reason not to – it will take away hours spent on worrying.

Happy anniversary London! Cheers to many more years together.

&what. x

&what | YUM.

So, lately I have been stuffing my face with the delish delights of London! Anyone who says the food in London is gross, clearly isn’t going to the right places. So where are the right places according to &what you ask?

1. Burger and Lobster: This place is simple. Just the way I like it. No menu, you choose between a lobster (garlic & lemon butter or just butter), lobster sandwich or a burger for 20 pounds. You also get a whole tin of skinny fries and salad (so tasty!). I went here once on a date with the boy and once with the girls. We were chatting about whether or not it would be a good date place, and for me it was ideal! You put on that plastic bib on and get down and dirty in that lobster. 😉

2. The Book Club: Get the nachos and I promise you, no matter how much guack or melted cheese there is, no plate of nachos will ever satisfy you again. There is magic that goes into making those nachos. With the little help of a deep fryer. And really, tell me one thing that doesn’t taste out of this world after being deep fried. The Passion quilla is the best one to have one too many of.

3. Aubaine: This is the loveliest place for ladies who lunch. Especially for a lunch that turns into early dinner after you are about 5 bottles of wine down. My favourite part, when you are all done they bring over a plate of desserts for you to select from. They should know next time to just leave it in front of me. I’ll take care of it.

4. Hawksmoor: Did you say steak? Yeah, and bone marrow, creamed spinach and skinny fries. (that really aren’t skinny because they are cooked in the beef drippings off your steak. Unbelievable.)

5. Honest Burgers: This is the best burger in London, honestly. My first Honest Burgers experience was at their original location in Brixton during my first week living in London. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been back. The retro Gin & Tonic complete with a paper straw and mason jar glass is the perfect sip between bites of burger and rosemary,herb chips. For a lady that hates condiments, the onion relish they put on top is made by the Burger Gods.

6. And, for the finale! BIG EASY: This place makes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the best days of the week in my eyes. Probably Tuesday is the best of them all because you can get UNLIMITED shrimps, with fries, coleslaw and a free frozen margarita on the side. Seriously, you will still be full the next day!

& what x.

&what | got it from my mama.

Happy Mother’s Day!

I’ve already wished my mom Happy Mum’s Day in the UK (30 March), but she’s awesome enough to get two of these days a year.

They say your relationship with your mom changes as you grow up. Some become closer, others part ways and others have a relationship that is always the same and still involves calls to make sure they’ve packed everything or their room is clean. I’m lucky to say that in this year, although I have been an ocean apart from my mom, we have never been closer. There have been so many adjustments and new experiences that I’ve gone through and couldn’t be happier knowing my beautiful mom was there for all of it.

Thanks for being my #1 lady! Love you.

&what x

&what | the september issue.

A little late on the bandwagon (ok, actually a lot!), but have you seen The September Issue? It’s a 2009 documentary on the creation of Vogue’s September issue – the biggest issue of the year, as it leads up to the most profitable fashion season and includes the most advertising. The biggest September issue was officially 870 pages.

This documentary was amazing from start to finish, sharing insight into how the leaders of the fashion world work, think and execute one of the most beloved magazines from concepting to publishing. They are ruthless in their critiques and so decisive in their decision making. Anna Wintour was the first editor to spot the rise of the celebrity and feature them on the cover. It’s hard to believe that now famous fashion bloggers like Chiara Ferragni are gracing the covers of Vogue, as the iconic faces of fashion. My, how things change.

In these 90 minutes, I also managed to fall in love with Grace Coddington. Not just for her fabulous hair, but rather her work ethic, assurance in herself and her ability to stand up for what she knows is best. We could all use a little Grace in us. I will definitley be picking up a copy of her memoir soon.

& what x

&what | dream on.

I read an article in the Guardian the other day about how two thirds of people in the UK give up on their dream career before the age of 20. The main hindering factors being a lack of confidence, skills or the trade off between risk and financial security.

Stuart Semple (2013), an artist and curator wrote, “Be it a dream career or a dream holiday in an exotic location, dreams are things that fill each and every one of us with hope and excitement. In fact, dreams are so potent they have been the motivating force behind some of the greatest moments in our human history – wasn’t it a dream that led a certain Martin Luther King to challenge and help dissolve centuries-long racial inequality?”

I think this perfectly sums it up. Reminding us, why how it is so important to always be dreaming and setting goals to follow and achieve your own. This doesn’t mean you have to quit your day job to make your dreams come true, yes that is an option for some, but dreams are a powerful thing. They have the abiltiy to keep you going when you are down. They can remind you of who you are when you’re a little lost along the way and the best feeling inthe world is achieving your very own dream.

Read the full article here: Don’t give up on your creative dreams

& what x