Monthly Archives: January 2013

On the White Cliffs of Dover

You’d think these Minnesotan bones would be comfortable in the cold, would welcome it, even.  You’d think I’d know to always carry a pair of warm gloves and remember to regularly waterproof my leather boots.  You may assume that a functional coat with roomy pockets would be a go-to in my closet and I’d have a pair of earmuffs somewhere in my house, but no.  No, no, no.  I’m afraid I’m terribly unprepared for this wet and rainy winter.  Luckily, I’m still enough of a Midwesterner to be tough and though the wind blew mightily and the rain came down cold and fast, I still made the trek along the White Cliffs in Dover. 
Call me insane, but prior to our arrival, I assumed the walk along the cliffs would be leisurely, picturesque and enchanting.  I imagined David and I walking arm-in-arm under our red umbrella, pausing to take pictures as gulls called overhead.  I was spot on with the cliffs being picturesque and enchanting, but leisurely our day was not.  My lipstick, springtime brights and freshly done hair didn’t prepare me for the mud, sleet, and wind, my ankle boots and pocketless coat did not protect me from the elements.  My coat collar is stained red from the uncountable times it blew into my lips, my hair was matted and torn by the wind (I’m still getting used to this long hair business), and my beautiful H by Hudson boots were almost ruined by the waterlogged earth.  But we survived, dear reader, with raw skin and dirty hands, with muddy feet and dripping wet coats.  We survived!  And we have some nice pictures to prove it.  
After the traipsing and trudging was over and our skin was beginning to warm, we stopped at a pub for a warm meal next to an open fire; a glass of wine was a happy sight, indeed!

A Treasure Hunt

It has come to my attention that I never shared pictures of my marriage ring or, rather, rings, with you.  Here they are, all banged up and well worn, almost one year later.  The bands are silver and the stones are tiny, rough cut black diamonds.  I chose to have two rings because I like the way they move together on my finger, the way it feels symbolic of how two people move together in a relationship- sometimes off-kilter, sometimes aligned.  I cherish my ring, love the way the light dances off the uneven surface of the diamonds, and admire the way the silver shows its wear.  It’s a nice ring and I think it suits me perfectly.

Like many women, I was adamant that my ring fulfill some conditions, specifically:

  1. The main stone could not be a white diamond. They just don’t do it for me, you guys. 
  2. It had to cost less than $500.  Marriage may be forever, but my style is not.  Perhaps one day I’ll grow tired of this ring and will find something more suited to my evolved taste.  Perhaps I’ll have a collection of fabulous marriage rings that I interchange and match to my outfits? Maybe I’ll become a millionaire and wear a jeweled glove, instead.  Who knows!
  3. It had to be made by a local designer.  Because I’m passionate about supporting local artisans and wanted something handmade and beautiful. Boston jewelry designer Michele Mercaldo suited my needs perfectly. 

Now that almost a year has passed since our nuptial soirée, I’d like to find an awesome local designer to make me a pair of earrings to match.  Something small and simple, something rough and elegant.   Let the treasure hunt begin!

I feel like everyone I know is getting engaged, or is soon to be engaged, so tell me, dear reader, what are your ring requirements?  How did you decide on your ring and have you ever fallen out of love with it?

Stuck in the Web

Welcome back to my weekly web round-up where I show you mine and you show me yours- but only if you want to, of course.  Cool?  Cool!  Let’s begin:

Are any of you watching Mr. Selfridge, the new iTV period drama about that crazy American, Mr. Selfridge, who came to London and told everyone what’s-what whilst opening the very best department store in the history of mankind?  Well, I sure am!  Even despite the fact that Jeremy Piven has an overabundance of pazazz and the bravado of his performance seems to suggest that he thinks he’s performing onstage rather than on television, I’m still going to tune in Sunday for episode two.  Mr. Selfridge’s blind enthusiasm reminds me so much of how my own grandiose plans were met with many a dull stare and curt shake of the head when I first moved here, so obviously I can’t wait to see how the story plays out.  Plus, the styling is excellent.  Who knew 1908 was so chic?

Did you know that Dita Von Teese has a taxidermy Ostrich in her house?  Honestly, I’m obsessed.    She is such a lady, she makes me want to buy hot rollers and substitute saying nail polish” with “nail varnish.”  Le sigh… Her entire interview with Into the Gloss is totally worth a read if you’re at all interested in fabulosity (which, of course, you are), and the pictures of her home are lovely.

I love this portrait of Anthony Bourdain by David Choe.  It has great energy and poise, and I keep enlarging Bourdain’s twitter picture to look at it again.  It makes me wonder, if you could have anyone paint your portrait, who would it be? 

My friend Brent sent me this funny tumblr of Lady Edith with Googly Eyes.  Oh, Edith!  Bless.

Kathleen recently shared an update about her six months in the same jeans challenge and it has made me even more keen to get my hands on (and legs into) a pair of raw denim all my own.  David loves his Nudie Jeans, but I’d love to know if anyone else has any brands they recommend.  Have you ever worn raw denim?  How did you like it?

And lastly: I maybe vomited this morning in the middle (well, the end, because I stopped immediately after it happened) of a jog sidewalk flop.  Not hot.  Because I never ever ever want that to happen again, I’ve been looking into tips for beginner runners and was curious if you had any nuggets of wisdom to share, too.  Even if it’s roll-your-eyes obvious, I’d love to know how you found your pace, kept your breathing consistent, and finally achieved that illusive runner’s high.


Photo via (edits by me)

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, January 8
Simple & Simply Spectacular
 David drew this.  It’s a picture of Jim.  Remember Jim?  I think it’s pretty neat.
Around Christmas, I decided that, going forward, I want to be a little more like Lucy Liu and a lot less like Drunk Kate. This means more tea, less red wine, and regular(ish) exercise.  To address the latter, I’ve started running trotting around outside in my sneakers and spandex leggings a couple times a week.
I told David’s son, Tom, that I have a goal to be able to run five miles without stopping by the end of the year and he was like, “Oh, that’s easy, you’ll be able to do that in no time.”  Friends, it is not easy and don’t try to convince me otherwise until you’ve me run gallop about.  After a half hour of trying to control my breathing as I ran slouched past neighbors on the sidewalk and faking a side cramp so I could walk up the hills, I arrived home and collapsed on my yoga mat with a glass of water.  A much more thorough post about my “exercise regime” will come soon (I have so many thoughts and questions on the subject), but until then, you can feel my agony emanate from this 11 o’clock photo.
The sun came out for, like, two seconds.  All of South East England rejoiced.
Whilst shopping in my closet, I found these earrings that my mother gave to me many moons ago.  Cute, non?
 I enjoyed a delicious flat white and falafel sandwich at my favorite local independent, Black Dog Cafe.  Funnily, it shares a name with my favorite Minnesota coffee shop, Black Dog in St. Paul.  Fate?  I think so.
This bad boy lives next door to the art store where I buy lino and a plethora of other artsy things that I keep in my Ariel Cave of a studio.  I love this lion.  I want to buy it and paint it neon pink and keep it in my entryway one day when I have an entryway.  If I can’t have a neon pink lion, I want a taxidermy zebra.  One or the other; I will not settle for neither.
 Back at home, I rummaged for a snack but only found an apple.  It was a very pretty apple, I think.
I keep my lino on the heater so it will be soft and easier to cut. 
This is what it looks like from the back.
Exercise makes me ferociously hungry.  David made this for dinner.  It was delicious!
After dinner, we turned on Jamie Cullum’s radio show and worked on our own personal projects as it played in the background.  This is something I doodled in my sketchbook as an idea for something bigger.
More on this another time, perhaps.
David is the real capital a Artist in the household.  This is the beginning of a portrait sketch he’s working on.  I love that he’s exploring his creativity again, after years (decades!) of inactivity.  I think it’s brave and inspiring.
After many glasses of water, I finally decided I was hydrated enough to enjoy a glass of Jameson.  I also decided to cap the camera for the night and spare you the pictures of my laptop keys ond totally adorable socks.  I will have you know, however, that the rest of the evening involved internet rabbit holes, the first episode of Mr. Selfridge, hot cocoa, and kitten cuddles.  It was cute.  
Cute like you.
Thanks for reading!

> Photos & Scene < Dunorlan Park

At first, she didn’t want to go.  The sky was grey and the world was waterlogged after weeks of rain.  ”It’ll be fun,” her husband promised as they pulled on wellies and buttoned their coats.  ”The dog will love it.  You’ll love it.”

The park was close and they walked the path around the pond with the dog between them, behind them, then pulling them forward, tugging against the restraint of the lead.  When the dog wandered off the pavement and ran along to investigate a scent, her paws kicked up bits of turf and left small imprints in the mud.  ”We’ll have to put her in the shower,” the wife said.  “The towels will need bleaching again.”

The fog was heavy and trees loomed through the mist like ghosts.  “I love how green the world looks against a grey sky,” he said, sidestepping a puddle but staying in step with his wife.  ”It’s like they’re glowing almost, illuminated from within.  You can feel the energy of the green.”

“The energy of the green,” she repeated. She picked a leaf from a nearby plant, traced the veins with her finger and cut through the greenness with her fingernail. 

Halfway around the pond, they stopped at a bench and let the dog off the lead.  Together, they sat in a contented silence and watched; children ran through puddles, their laughter muted by the breeze and the backs of their jackets flecked with bits of mud.   Men cast their fishing lines into the brown water and ducks clambered over one another, fighting for the bits of bread being tossed into the water by two boys on the bridge.  The husband laughed as their dog chased a black and white spaniel around an evergreen and the wife kept an eye on the pit bull that was running laps around its owner in the field on their right.  Inhaling, they could smell the heaviness of mud, the wetness of the leaves and the rubber from their boots.  The greens in the park were vivid- so vivid- and the world felt very much alive around them.

At two-thirty, the husband checked his watch and then called for the dog.  The three of them began their walk home, the dog running here and there, her fur muddy, her tongue lolling out the side of her mouth, her nose wet.  Naturally, they fell into step with one another and, as they walked along the path toward home, they both felt glad.

Photos taken yesterday at Dunorlan Park

You’re Ace!

Today, I cut and hand printed a few copies of this card.  The inside reads, “You’re Ace!” and though they’re not perfect (whatever that means), I’m pretty darn proud of them. 

For a while now, David and I have been playing around with linocutting.  Admittedly, David is much better at it than I am (which he proved when he made two beautiful landscape prints for my parents this Christmas).  Happily, I’m slowly learning and have even made it to the point where I now cut more lino than I do fingers… those little tools are sharp, you guys!

This weekend, my friend Jill is coming for a Hobbit Town slumber party and David and I are hosting his sons for řízky on Sunday. What are you up to, dear reader? Whatever it is, I hope it’s marvelous!  

Outgrowing Our Pots

This is Jim.  He is a plant and belong to David’s son, Tom, and currently lives on our windowsill in the living room.  Jim is a nice plant but he has one crucial problem, he’s outgrowing his pot.

Yesterday, I quit my job.  My Job, that makes it sound so important.  Let me start over: Yesterday, I quit freelancing.  Like Jim, I found that I’d outgrown my pot.  My legs needed room to move, my arms to stretch, my mind to grow.  I’ve been craving a more routine schedule and the ability to work as part of a team- alongside people I can share ideas with and an occasional laugh, too.  It’s important that I leave my flat, establish myself here and focus on filling a new pot, in a new space, on a new windowsill.

Obviously, I’m terrified.  But I’m so so so excited.  I’m keeping my mind open as I enter this next phase in that I don’t care what I do so long as I work with inspiring, creative people, am intellectually challenged, and am given the chance to flex my creative muscles and grow.  I want to meet new people, work hard, and turn out quality work.  I want to get my hands dirty and sharpen my skill-set.  I want to learn things and I want to share the knowledge I have, too.  I want to make this world a more beautiful place, someway, somehow.  Like I said, I’m excited!

So, dear reader, onward and upward- let’s see what Tunbridge Wells has to offer.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday With Vous

Tuesday, January 1, 2013
The Redcoat on New Year’s Day Edition

Last week I asked Kate if she was going to invite me to contribute to Tuesday With Vous, and she said yes!! It was coincidental that she then suggested I do next week which just happened to be New Year’s Day.  I had already decided it was unlikely that I was going to follow her usual structure as I doubted I had the patience to take a photo on the hour, every hour, so I broke from that format and did my own thing.  I’m married to her, I don’t have to play by the rules… So, without further ado, let’s begin.

It was most exciting to be greeted by a very blue sky first thing in the morning, (okay – it was actually 10 am before we got up – sorry, before I got up, Kate was still in bed) as we have not experienced such a glorious splendor very often since we arrived here, back in May.

 This was less exciting………

But this made me feel better again, to see the sun warming our little Christmas Fern. It is actually a Norfolk Island Fern – which we both love because we don’t have to pick up any needles and we can re-use it again next year.

I went out for a quick stroll and thought how appropriate this signage was for the start of a new year. I had not noticed it before.

And when I got back, I prepared breakfast for us both. I know, uncooked sausages are not particularly attractive or appetizing to look at. Take my word for it though, they were very tasty.

After breakfast and because it was so nice out, we decided to go for a walk. I got these shoes out in readiness………

Kate said, “I thought we were going on an athletic walk.”  So, a little reluctantly, I put these on instead.

 And we set off!! It was a melancholy day for Kate, so I decided to keep my distance. We did walk together at some points but mostly we were at a distance……..

It was therefore not total harmony. We often walk together but not, if you see what I mean, and one of the things I love about Kate is that we are very similar in this regard. There are times when we talk as we walk, and other times when we are both quiet, reflecting on things separately, coming together at certain points on the journey and then drifting off slightly. One thing for sure though, is that we are always in perfect step with one another.

After our walk, we had some more coffee. Kate read quietly and I played Scrabble with friends on my iPhone.

This year though, I shall do less of that and more reading.  Jeff and Kim bought this for me for Christmas, and I promise to do my best to read it.  Loved the film.

It was getting dark as the sun began to set. This is at the back of where we live and I just loved the colours (colors, USA).  

And on the other side there is St John’s Church. The sky was still quite blue, even in late afternoon.

Around 5 pm I opened up an email from a friend (Simon) who had written to wish us a Happy New Year. His email told the story of a French Professor who was presenting to a group of Senior Executives from a number of US companies to talk about time management. The presentation started with an experiment whereby the Professor produced an empty glass jar which he then proceeded to fill with large stones. When he could not fit anymore of the stones into the jar, the Professor asked if they thought the jar was full? To which they all cheered Yes!! The Professor then found some smaller pebbles and began to fill in the gaps between the large stones. Again he asked the question and this time the executives, starting to understand where he was going replied No! The Professor then poured sand into the Jar and finally he poured in some water. He paused at this point and stated that the purpose of the experiment was to demonstrate that if one had filled the jar up firstly with the pebbles and then the sand and water, there would not be enough room for the larger stones. The executives were a little confused, until the Professor explained the significance. What are the large stones in your life? Health? Family? Friends? Your Goals? Doing what you love? Fighting for a cause? Taking time for yourself? What we must remember is that it is most important to include the larger stones in our lives, because if we don’t do so, we are likely to miss out on life altogether. If we give priority to the smaller things in life (pebbles and sand), our life will be filled with less important things. Because of this, never forget to ask yourself, what are the are stones in your life?

After reading his email I browsed through my Instagram. I have always loved Instagram, ever since Kate downloaded the app to her iPhone when it was first launched, I was so jealous!! I only had a Blackberry. Now that I have an iPhone, I can share pictures and comments with friends all over the place, it is FUN!!!

If you can get hold of this, do. I threw together some chopped carrots, spring onions, fresh ginger, garlic, mushrooms and rice noodles to make a glorious soup for our supper.

I did not take many photos after this, apart from when Kate and I played cribbage later in the evening while enjoying a couple of Manhattans, a drink Kate introduced me to. I am happy to say, however, that I did take these last two photos because I WON!!!!

Really bad photograph

And a very sad, defeated face…… LOVE YOU xxxx

Happy New Year

Kate here- hi.  Oh my glob, that picture! Atrocious.  And by atrocious, I mean a winning example of glamour.  I mean, are those forehead wrinkles?!  Whatever.  Anyway, many thanks to David for taking over photography duties for the day (though he disregarded all my posting requests- tisk tisk) and a big thank you to you for sticking with us and for checking in. Kisses!