Monthly Archives: May 2012

Cocktail Ambassador

For those of you who read my little bio over there on the right and think, Cocktail Ambassador… wtf? I’m happy to say I’m here to enlighten you.

When David and I were first talking about moving to the UK I had a two very serious concerns.  The first was how readily I’d be able to purchase my favorite bar staples- things like jiggers, craft-made bitters and my favorite whiskey.  My second was that our Hobbit Town likely wouldn’t have any real bars where we could hang out and meet new friends.  In light of these two obstacles, I decided that I would move here as a sort of evangelist of the cocktail movement- a Cocktail Ambassador, if you will.  In my head, my Ambassadorship marries my love for brand development to my other love, cocktailing* and I can say with great certainty that it will be a great marriage, indeed!  

I’m not going to give away any secrets regarding my Master Plan, but essentially what this means is that I’ll be hand-selecting bars that already have a successful cocktail presence, and helping them focus their brand, provide something special, and create a really wonderful customer experience. Because you guys, there are some bars here that kind of get it right, but they could be getting it SO RIGHT, and I think I can really help them. 

What this means for you as a reader is that you’ll have to see and read a lot more about cocktails (I know, I know, you thought it was bad already…) as I’ll be sharing my favorite places to celebrate the cocktail hour(s) and notes on my favorite drinks.  This journey will be interesting seeing as it’s difficult to get a good drink in this country (especially at a reasonable price), and it’s even more difficult to get good service.  When I bring this up to residents here, they just shrug and say that it’s the English way, but now I’m here and I’m asking, But what if it doesn’t have to be? 

So now you know what a Cocktail Ambassador is.  Hurray!    

*Cocktailing is the combination of drinking, getting to know people, and having a great time.

Hotel Bar

After dinner last night, David, Ben and I bundled up and walked down to our local Hotel Du Vin for some whiskey and a cigar.  What I’ve always liked about Hotel Du Vin is the way they thoughtfully convert old spaces into comfortably luxurious hotels.  Yes, sometimes the hallways are a bit wonky or you feel as if the stairs could be a little hazardous, but that’s a part of their charm.  Instead of building a super modern hotel with an old-worldy facade, they actually amend the space so you feel as if you’re visiting something that isn’t exactly old, but definitely doesn’t belong to this modern world.  They create special spaces, and I’ve always enjoyed visiting their hotels, though I’ve never actually stayed at one.  

I also like that they’re  mindful of creating quality bistro, bar, and outdoor spaces, too.  David and I often go just for the cigar huts, which are complete with open air breezes, heated floors, and fireplaces so you can comfortably smoke no matter what the weather.  Best of all, their staff know how to make a proper drink.  You don’t have to coach the bartender as they clumsily put together a Manhattan, and you don’t need to sit anyone down and explain the difference between rye whiskey and bourbon- they know their stuff.  Plus, they’re very attentive, which is a major rarity in this country.  It’s for this reason that I am declaring my little Hobbit Town’s Hotel Du Vin as our new Franklin- our new Hotel Bar.  See you there, maybe. 

p.s. How badass are my Evil Stepmother nails?   Guys, I got this position on lock-down.

p.p.s.  Many thanks to Christa Young for giving David and I such a lovely cigar to share.  We’re already looking forward to smoking the next one!  Perhaps on a summer evening in a London park…

Ambassador Kate, Part II

It’s announced, it’s official!  Jump over to The Adventures of Samantha House Jewelry to read a little bit more about my take on style, why I am so excited to be working with SHJ, and what I think her spirit animal should be.

Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, too!  I cannot even begin to imagine how much fun I’m going to have in this new position and I hope that you share the experience with me!  Like, we are going to have so. much. FUN.

Again, many thanks to the very talented Ollie Reimann for the pictures.   

xxx 

p.s. I’m wearing a Samantha House Slinky Earring in Gold in the photos.  I’m really enjoying this asymmetrical look for summer, which, by the way, is off to a glorious start here in England!

My Favorite Things

On Saturday, our 15 boxes of stuff arrived from America.  Having our things here allows me to finally feel as if I actually live here at Cox Quarters, and I’m not just a strange visitor.  I’ve had a fun (and frustrating) time arranging everything in the new space and slowly our flat is becoming our home.  Obviously I have my favorites amongst my processions, and I wanted to share some of My Favourite  Favorite Things with you.  I’m so so happy to have them back in my life!

  1. The only things I actually collect (barring shoes) are Blanton’s Bourbon bottle stoppers.  Did you know that each bottle of Blanton’s comes with a horse and jokey bottle stopper and on each stopper is a letter which, when you have a complete set, will spell out Blanton’s?  David and I have been collecting the stoppers for a little over a year, and it wasn’t until a week before our move that we completed our set (thanks for the bourbon, Lauren!).  I’ve seen Blanton’s at a couple bars in London, but have yet to find a place that serves it in my little Hobbit Town, though my local liquor store said they’d special order some for me, which I must remember to do soon!  
  2. It is so comforting to have my books back!  Books are like old friends and even if I neglect them from time to time, it’s always nice to look over at my book shelf and fondly remember their stories.  I love the tangibility of books and have always found the written word to be enormously inspiring. 
  3. I was very worried that my vintage champagne glasses, and ice bucket would arrive in hundreds of little pieces after being jostled around during the move.  Luckily, they all arrived in pristine condition and are ready for use!  Not only do I love them because they’re pretty, but they’re especially dear to me because they were wedding gifts from my parents.  I’m excited to share more pictures of them with you when I shoot some at-home mixology posts… Oh, they are so so glamorous!
  4. My vintage mink stole still takes my breath away.  As you can see in the second picture, the lining is frayed and in need of repair, but I can hardly bring myself to get rid of the sweet original monogramming.  Sentiment aside, I think it’s almost time to make the fur mine and get it re-lined and re-monogrammed, this time with my own initials!  (If anyone has a recommendation for a great fur restorer in London, I’d be glad to hear it!)
  5. I have gone the last month without wearing heels!  Well, that’s not entirely true- I’ve had one pair with me, but I’ve been missing my collection of wonderful sky-high footwear!  I’ve especially been missing these Isola pony hair leopard booties.  When the weather cools down, I’ll definitely be wearing them with white denim and black tank tops.
  6. These Proenza Schouler sandals are slightly more practical for summer and I’m so pleased to have them back in my closet (and on my feet).  I was absolutely enamored with these sandals last summer and I’m excited to see what adventures they take me on this year, too. 
  7. And finally, my kimono, which my dad bought for me ages ago on a trip to Japan.  In my world, I wear this kimono as a house coat and can be found most mornings with it wrapped tightly around me as I sip coffee and fiddle around on my laptop.  I LOVE my kimono.  My mornings were definitely not the same without it. 

p.s. Happy Memorial Day to everyone in the States!  Between sips of your margarita, I urge you to take a moment to honor those who have served and protected our amazing homeland.  THANK YOU, GUYS!  xoxo

Right Here, Right Now: Me

So here it is:

I’ve always wanted to write a book, a novel.  And have it be published.  I’ve always wanted my name on a strip of treated leather that binds 150+ pages that people stroke with their forefinger and display on a shelf.  Since I was little, I’ve wanted to be a writer.  And just right now, sitting on a lumpy hide-a-bed couch in a (our) flat in Tunbridge Wells, it just occurred to me that now is the time.  I have no idea where it’s going, but I know how it begins- and it’s right here, right now.  I am writing a book.  My book.  A book by me.  I’ll share snippets with you along the way.

I’ve been in the UK for a little over two weeks now.  I’m settled and I’m lonely, but not in a sad way.  I’m lonely in a way that makes me brave.  I feel strong, creative, and fresh.  When David and I decided to move, I told him I wasn’t going to compromise my vision, I wasn’t going to work just to be paid, and I wasn’t going to do things I don’t believe in.  Well, here I am, with ample time on my hands, an amazing support system, and ten strong fingers.  I am going to write this book.

I just wanted to tell you that. 

xxx

Africana

Remember when I told you that David has a whole bunch of cool African art around the flat from his childhood in Nigeria?  Well, here’s the proof.  How great is this stuff?   He also has boxes (and boxes and boxes) of stuff in a closet that I have yet to go through.  I vaguely remember him once saying that his family may even have a coat of arms… if he does, I’m totally getting it tattooed on my face, or something.  I didn’t take his last name* but I’ll totally take his coat of arms!

*His last name is Cox.  Kate Cox is a stripper name.  Therefore, I opted to continue being known as Kate Sims.  Can you blame me?

The Bait and Switch… Or Something

Perhaps you’ve noticed something different about the look of this site… if you’re having trouble putting your finger on what, it’s just the big huge picture of my face up top.  You see, when I started this blog, I knew I wanted to do something that would allow me to reach out to my people- whomever they may be- in an authentic and engaging way.  Initially, I had grand plans of writing about the trials, tribulations and triumphs that come with running a small business in addition to writing about my life* and the things I like.  In the last few months, it was becoming clear to me that I was having trouble focusing my writing because this space didn’t feel enough like me- in the back of my head I kept thinking Kate, you have to make it more business-ey, focused and informative and that made me feel stressed instead of excited about writing a post.  Though things have changed since I started writing in January, the premise I started with has stayed the same and even from the get-go, I knew a few things for certain:

  1. I wanted to generate all my own content and post my own photos, work, etc.  If, for whatever reason, I put together an inspiration post and feature the work of someone else, I will absolutely give them credit. The internet is for sharing, not stealing, amiright? 
  2. In addition to writing about my life and work, I want to use this space to feature people and businesses who are doing a great job of doing something creative, exciting, and unique.  It’s important to me that this space focuses on optimism and authenticity and it’s my dream that it somehow allows for the world to become a more beautiful place, even if it is in a super small way. 
  3. Cocktails are going to play a big role in the content on this site.  I haven’t quite gotten my bearings- or my cocktail glassware- in this country, but as soon as I do you can be sure to see a lot of booziness right here!
  4. Sometimes I will get serious and, seeing as I do consult with small businesses to help them focus their brand and creatively engage with their clients**, I will sometimes talk about the trials, tribulations and triumphs of small businesses.  It won’t be all I talk about, but I will certainly touch on it from time to time.  
  5. This space is going to be fun.  FUN FUN FUN.  At least for me it will be… but I sincerely hope you have fun, too.  

So, there you have it- a slightly improved version of what was.  Hurray! 

And many thanks to the handsome gent below for taking my new photo and for putting up with me for many many many hours yesterday.  Ollie Reimann, you are a shooting star!

*Having recently moved continents, I find blogging to be a great way to let my far-away friends and family know what I’m up to.  Regardless of whether or not people find it interesting, it’s a way for me to feel more connected to the world and allows me to flex some creative muscle. 
**Shameless plug.  Sorry. (Actually not sorry.)

A Tale of Joy & Much Woe

Remember when I told you that Samantha House made me two pieces right before my eyes when I visited her home studio a couple weeks ago?  Well, the above two photos are the pieces she made me.  The first was the Lauren Key necklaces, and the second are the super-long Slinky Earrings which I’m planning to wear in tandem from my left ear all summer long for a fun asymmetrical look. 

This is when the story transitions from one of joy to one of woe… My first weekend in London, David and I stopped at London Bridge for a view of the city from the River Thames.  As I leaned over to get a better view, my beautiful necklace hit the stone railing and shattered into a million* pieces!  It was beyond tragic and I maybe sniffled a little bit as I knelt down and picked up the pieces.  Despite my sadness, I’m sure I’ll find another use for my silver agate and quartz beads again.

*Okay, more like five pieces.

Bling Bling

I got my left ear double pierced yesterday.  Though I got a couple recommendations from friends, I opted instead to go to Royale Retreat here in Tunbrige Wells.  I’m not in London again until Thursday and I was getting to the point where I had to do it now or I’d chicken out (though really, it didn’t hurt at all… silly me!).  More details (and focus) tomorrow. 

xx

Ready, set, HELP!

 One thing I’ve never been good at is asking for help.  Way back in my wee days when I was home-schooled (only for a hot sec, THANK GOD) I rebelliously developed this aversion to asking for help because I didn’t want to ask my ‘teachers’ (uh, parents) to help me because my parents were my parents and I didn’t want their help [insert foot stomping and door slamming here].  After my poor mumsy and faja lost all faith in teaching me themselves, they flung me into the corruptive public school system and, though I was only in the second grade, the habit was stuck and I still saw asking for help as a terrible weakness.  (Did I mention that my brain wasn’t fully formed at this point and most of my childhood decisions were completely irrational?)   As you know, old habits die hard and I still have to remind myself that asking for help is not a sign of weakness- on the contrary, asking for help allows people to be open with each other and often draws people closer.  Asking for help allows us to learn from one another and feel value in the goodness of humanity.  Asking for help is awesome!

I’ve had to ask for help a lot a lot a lot since moving here.  From train schedules to ear piercing, I’ve sought out guidance from strangers and have been so touched by how generously people offer their advice, knowledge, and assistance.  I hope I’ll be able to return the favor often.

Here’s a shortlist of some things I need help finding right now.  If you have a solution* for me, by all means… 

  • I want to find a cool salon/boutique in London to get my left ear double pierced.  I do not want a chain shop and I also do not want to contract hepatitis C, so please keep your recommendations to places that will offer a great experience, a good service, and a clean environment. 
  • To harken back to my aforementioned rebellious streak… I’m going to Ascot on the 23rd of June and have just read the dress code for the Royal Enclosure.  While I’m super excited to be going to such an amazing event, something about all the rules makes me want to push some boundaries, and instead of wearing a bridesmaidy dress and giant hat, I want to find a menswear inspired vintage suit and I want to adorn my own hat, probably with quail feathers.  Ergo, I am looking for the best of the best** vintage shopping in London.  And perhaps a good milliner, too.
  • What are these flowers on this shrubby tree thing in the above photo called? (Mom, you’ve gotta be all over this one…)  I saw them along the canal in London yesterday and was struck by how blue they are.
  • Cute London-based home goods boutiques?  I need some solid, well-made kitchen and bath things to make my English Gentleman’s old bachelor pad a more welcoming place to live.  Besides, who doesn’t love a great boutique full of homey things**? 
  • Once my yoga mat arrives  later this week (along with all my heels & books, YAY!!!), I will once again be in the market for a good yoga studio.  I prefer to practice Forrest yoga, but I don’t mind Vinyasa or some of the hybrid classes that keep you flexible and moving.  I prefer not to attend a studio that asks me to chant things or try to sell me on some kind of spirituality… unless it promises me a Diane Kruger bod after just one class, in which case I might reconsider. 

*Advising me to ‘just Google it’ is not a solution.  I’m looking for legit word-of-mouth recommendations here, folks!
**In my book, ‘best of the best vintage’ = ohmygosh!-worthy deals & truly quality pieces. 
*** If you’re in Boston and are looking for a wonderful home goods boutique, I cannot recommend Pod in Brookline Village enough!  From petite Spanish tumblers (which I am at this moment using as mini wine glasses) to eco-friendly shower curtains, linen scarves and glorious bath salts, Pod will have you covered!