Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Great Cake Debate

CAKE

My amazing officemate and friend, Lily, made this cake which, after photographing, I devoured with great enthusiasm.  However, this simple slice has sparked a cultural lesson here in the office and it’s gotten quite intense.  Here’s the deal:

In the UK, cake is not just a dessert.  No.  In the UK, dessert is but a course in a meal and cake, well, the jolly ol’ Brits sometimes like to eat cake before a meal or between meals.  For instance, they often enjoy cake for elevenses (it’s real, you guys, not just for Hobbits) and will have an array of cakes available for tea.  Sometimes, as was the circumstance this afternoon, there will be cake but no tea though still, it will be tea.  It’s all very mysterious.  That being said, you may choose to enjoy cake for dessert if you’d like, but cake is not limited to the Dessert and Celebration categories as it is in the States.

Dessert, on the other hand, could be anything sweet, including a cake, and is eaten after the main course in a meal.  A tart, for instance, or ice cream are both perfectly acceptable desserts.  To add another element to this delicious confection of conversation, let’s talk about pudding. Pudding is a course in a meal, much like dessert, but the term is generally referencing the jellied and jiggling, such as, well, pudding.  Rice pudding, Christmas pudding, spotted dick (don’t Google it unless your safesearch is on), hasty pudding, figgy pudding, sticky toffee pudding… you get the idea.

Suffice it to say that it’s kind of like how all squares are rectangles but rectangles are not squares.  All puddings are dessert, but not all cake is dessert.  Are you confused?  Me too.  And I haven’t even made it to pastries yet!

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, February 26th

8I had an aha! moment over the weekend.  I’ve been in need of a subtle reading light in our bedroom that will allow David to sleep whilst I’m living the life of an insomniac– reading, drawing, writing in bed on nights when sleep is difficult to find.  To solve my problem, I had the genius idea of putting a nail in the wall and hanging my twinkle lights in a messy bundle.  It provides a pleasant glow, is bright enough to read by, but subtle enough to sleep beside.  I love it!

9It’s been three weeks in the office, but I’ve finally established a routine of sorts.  Whilst I prepare myself for the world in the morning, I put on some toast and boil two eggs to bring to work.

10I’ve started using Muji notebooks at work.  As much as I love my Moleskines, they’re too precious for client doodles and brainstorm scribbles.  Muji notebooks, on the other hand, are perfectly utilitarian while still being simple and stylish.  I love.

11

These are our neighbours at the office.  Hi neighbours!  We like them ’cause they’re quiet.

12

I needed to give my work some space, so I treated myself to a fragrant and tasty afternoon snack.

13

 

And then, an hour later, I settled in for some lunch.  I like my boiled eggs with a soft yolk and drizzled with salt, pepper, and chili flakes.  I sometimes put paprika on them, too.  Simple, delicious.

14

My elephant helps me write.  He reminds me to bring a playfulness to my writing and to say thing simply, so even an elephant could understand.

15

This is the view out our front windows at work.  That little cul-des-ac area is going to be the bomb come summer. Outdoor workstation?  Yes, indeed!

16Another window, another view.  This is where the birds live.

17

Yesterday was my dear friend, Natalie‘s birthday.  She lives in LA and is amazing.  Facebook told me it was her birthday and, because I am a bad friend, I hadn’t sent her a card.  To partially redeem myself, I sketched this, photoshopped it, and sent it to her online.  Happy Birthday, Natalie!

18

Lo and behold, another friend of mine named Natalie had a birthday!  Hers was on Monday, so I made her a birthday picture, too.  This Natalie is a bartender in New York and, when I met her, she made me a mighty fine Manhattan.  Natalie has some really rad tattoo sleeves, but unfortunately my stick people’s don’t have thick enough arms to get inked.  Alas…

19

In the middle of the afternoon, I had received word that David and I were to have a surprise visitor for the evening, our nephew Joe was coming to visit from Cambridge.  He arrived just after seven and we had a meal together before kicking off the evening.

20

To start, I hurried off to The Black Pig for my Tunbridge Wells Writers meeting.

21I stayed for a while, hung out with the likes of my super-stylin’ friend, Lucy, and then made me exit.

22

I then walked to meet David, Ben and Joe at The Beau Nash for quiz night.  Now, dear reader, I do not often participate in quiz night and last night was proof as to why.

23

After many wrong answers and a particularly distressing moment when I couldn’t recall Garth Brook’s name to answer a question in the American Country Music category, our team found its way to last place. This, my friends, is the face of defeat.  :(  (Actually, it’s just the face of Joe, but close enough.)

After pub trivia and a chat with some friends, we made our way home and then to sleep.
Thank you for sharing my Tuesday with me.

Things I Believe About Success

Things I Believe is a series of mini essays exploring something I fundamentally believe to be true, from lipstick to metaphysics, they’re meant to offer a little insight into a little (or big) something.

Success

There were a few afternoons last week when the sun came through the windows at the office, refracted through a cup of water and settled on the wall in a soft little pyramid of light.  On those bright and warm afternoons, I convinced myself that we were having an early spring and daydreamed about bare limbs and fizzy drinks.  This week, the damp cold is again creeping through the windowpanes and burrowing deep into our bones; sundress season, I’m afraid, is still a long way off, but mentally I’m totally there

I’m not one to dwell on the past.  Instead, I’m usually stretching my arms as far as they’ll go, clutching at the future.  I close my eyes at night and imagine what will be; I anticipate obstacles, rehearse speeches and see myself championing difficult situations that will eventually lead to something people define as success.  But the success that I envision is as vague and fleeting as that pyramid of light on the wall.  To me, success isn’t as simple as having Mercedes on the driveway, a plaque on the wall, or a villa in Tuscany, it’s not a plateau on which I’ll stand and look down with satisfaction on all I’ve accomplished.  No, for me, success is the pursuit.  It’s having a goal to chase, a task to accomplish, and a new adventure to begin. The minute you declare you’ve reached the top, the only place to go is down. 

After her win for Best Actress at the Oscars, Jennifer Lawrence, who every girl in the world is vying to secure as their BFF*, answered questions about her win, her fall, and her future.  The last question she was asked –which starts at the 2:45 mark– was, “At 22 years-old you’ve got your first Oscar and you’ve already had two nominations, um, it’s awfully young to have so much success so far.  Do you feel, is it a good thing that it’s coming so early in the career?”  Jennifer’s answer is playful and sarcastic, she hopes it’s a good thing. The journalist then asks, “You don’t worry about peaking too soon?”  

She rolls her eyes: “Well now I am, God.”  

Unless she were to have expired right there with her Oscar in hand, there’s no way this would be her peak.  She might not win another Oscar, but will that make her future efforts unsuccessful?  Will that mean she will never top this performance?  Absolutely not.  So long as we’re challenging ourselves and growing, we’re on a path of success.  As long as we’re working hard and doing what we love, we’re succeeding.  

Just as I know that spring will eventually come and the afternoon light will shine through the window and again cast flickering shapes on the wall, I know that I will always be in pursuit, will always be pushing myself to overcome that next challenge so the brightness behind my eyes can briefly come into focus before forming a new shape and then slipping away, again, just beyond my grasp.  

What does success mean to you, dear reader?  I’d love to know so feel free to share in the comments. 

*For real, I will fight you for her.

Daffodils on My Desk

Around+The+Office Around+The+Office+2 Around+The+Office+3

You know when you’re dating someone and they start spending a lot of time at your house so you buy a spare toothbrush, which will feel like a big commitment, and then all of a sudden half their wardrobe is stuffed in your closet and they have a pile of their books stacked on the end table?  You do?  Great, because that’s exactly what’s happening with me and my desk.  It started small– just me and Granddad, my older than Methuselah Macbook– and slowly I’ve added things to pile on my desk.  One day it’s a pair of glasses, the next a pile of books and then a vase of flowers.  It’s cute, my slow accumulation of stuff, and before I know it, I’m pretty sure my yoga mat will be stashed behind my desk and there will be a blackboard on the wall.    But the flowers, the flowers are the most important part.  For there’s nothing happier than a vase full of daffodils to welcome you to work in the morning.

I wish you a wonderful weekend, dear reader.  David and I are looking forward to snuggling, daydreaming, and watching the rugby.  I hope your adventures are equally as relaxed.  xx

Make Yourself Relevant

Make+Yourself+Relevant

“There is a reason, after all, that Gen. Y–which is only becoming more important as we get older and begin pushing and stimulating our economy–has been dubbed the entrepreneurial generation. Many of us couldn’t land the jobs we wanted, so we just made our own. Sure, the training isn’t traditional but my generation is brilliant; we are over-educated and often over-qualified for the jobs that we do take. Tradition and innovation have little to do with one another and in the battle of success and relevance between the former and latter, the latter has proven itself quite victorious.”

I was catching up on some très important blog reading last night when I came across the above quote in this post by Leandra Medine, the genius behind the Man Repeller.  The sentiment of her post had me nodding my head and saying yes, emphatically, yes!  We are an entrepreneurial generation, we have been blessed with the ability to pull ourselves up by our fetching bootstraps, and we’ve had to make a name for ourselves because no one was there to do it for us; but it’s not just Gen. Y that has felt the need to innovate and make themselves relevant, it’s every entrepreneur.  Whether you’re opening a cafe, starting a fashion line or branching out as a freelancer for the first time, one thing is true- if you build it, they will not come.  Not necessarily, anyway, not unless you entice them.  You can do this by making yourself relevant.

So, how do you do that?  Easy!  Here are 3 Simple Ideas for Making Yourself Relevant by creating something, sharing it with your people (whomever they may be), and growing your tribe.  Let the drum-banging begin!

  1. Respond to something already relevant.  If you’ve recently read an article that made you fist-pump the air and yell, “Yes!”, or, conversely, made your hands start to shake as you muttered, “No, no, no, NO!”, then take a page from Leandra’s book blog and passionately respond to that piece.  Your response could be a blog post, a video, a song– anything that allows you to share your point of view in a shareable and articulate way.  It doesn’t have to be long, but be sure you make a claim and succinctly support it.  Share your piece via social media and encourage others to join the conversation, too.  Sure, some people will disagree with you, but the ones who don’t, the ones who share your feelings, they’re going to become allies, clients, supporters.
  2. Join or start a movement.  Perhaps you’re passionate about clothing designers paying their employees a liveable wage, perhaps it’s recycling to-go coffee cups, or saving the seals– whatever it is, join-up and start sharing your experience.  Not only will you have just joined a ready-made tribe, you’ll also be attracting others who think like you, too.  (Nudie Jeans has done an excellent job of building a tribe of like-minded customers around their economic and environmental initiatives; you can read my post about it here.)
  3. Host an event.  A tea party, picnic, gallery tour or themed walk– anything that will get a group of awesome people together for something out of the ordinary.  Invite everyone: friends, local business partners, mentors, and clients, then share snippets of the day online (via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Vine).  Encourage others to do the same and BAM, you’ve allowed your tribe to multiply, your message to spread, and your existing clients to see you in a new light.  Fun!

Of course, there are a bijillion other ways to make yourself relevant, to spark a dialogue and better connect with, and grow, your tribe, but I hope these three suggestions helped to plant some seeds.  I firmly believe there’s more than enough business for everyone out there, it’s just that we need to think creatively to find it, sometimes.

Tuesday With Vous: René Sterling Edition

When I started Tuesday With Moi, it was an exercise to focus my eye and my lens on something beautiful every waking hour, on the hour.  Since I started last June, it’s helped me develop my eye as well as my technical abilities but has also proven to be an interesting way of visually charting my own movements, feelings and growth.  A couple months ago, I asked some friends to contribute to the genre and thereby started Tuesday With Vous, which lets us see from a different perspective and experience the day in the life of someone who will introduce us to a whole new world, their world.  

Today, I’m pleased to share these terrific black and white photos by René Sterling.  These are the first film photos I’ve had on the site, which is very exciting as I have a great appreciation for film photography and am hoping to try my hand at it this coming summer (if we’re lucky enough to have one, that is… Oh England!).  I love René’s work and, as I scroll through his photos, I find myself fascinated by the situations he finds himself in and the quiet way he captures the commotion around him.  His life seems so full- full of creativity, full of art, full of that intense energy of living- and I find his work both moving and inspiring. His creativity seems boundless, and in addition to taking photos, he produces videos, DJs, and makes simple wooden jewelry that I’m a little bit in love with (but more on that in another post).  Plus, René has great boy style, really great boy style.  He’s like a Hip-Hop Star Pirate and just exudes coolness.  Obviously, I’m thrilled to feature him on the site.

Because René was shooting film and because Wednesday is my day to post TWM/TWV, we elected to have him share his Friday with us.  These are the images he captured.  Enjoy.

Friday, February 15th 
2. treeforestrow 3pm15:00 Tree Forest Row

3. coffee&cig 4pm16:00 Coffee & Cig

4. drive 5pm

17:00 Drive

5. 6ochoc

18:00  6 O’Choc

6. necklaces 7pm19:00 Necklaces

7-1. cherub 8pm20:00  Cherub

8. tawn 9pm21:00 Tawn

9. est1989 10pm22:00 Est. 1989

10. ltdedition 11pm23:00 Ltd Edition

11-1. station 12_25am 0:00 Station

12. lastcall 1am1:00  Last Call

13. steamed2am2:00 Steamed

14. sug 3am3:00 Sug

You can find René on Twitter and Tumblr and view more of his work on his website.

Bonsai, Part II

Bonsai1Bonsai2 Bonsai3 Bonsai4 Almost a year ago, I took these pictures.  I was still learning how to shoot on a manual setting, still teaching myself about light and shutter speed, still holding my breath with every shot and checking the viewfinder to see how it turned out, if it turned out.  These photos were taken in one of my favorite places, The National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at The National Arboreatum in Washington DC, where some of the bonsai trees, manicured and twisted in their small pots, are older than the United States.

Almost a year ago, I posted about my trip to the bonsai garden and compared running a business to a growing bonsai tree in that it’s constantly ‘in training’ and needs to be tended to, trimmed, cared for.  With an ever-changing digital landscape, this metaphor is more accurate now than ever before.  Many independent businesses and artispreneurs have their brand established, they just need help tending to it and making sure it grows strong, healthy, and in the right direction.

Almost a year ago, when I took these pictures, I was still training my eye, I was still learning, developing, cultivating, and you know what, I’ll be learning, developing, and cultivating my skills for the rest of my career.  But I’m also now in a place where I’m able to reach out and help other business owners develop their businesses, too, which is why I’ve re-branded and re-launched with the bonsai garden as my aesthetic and philosophical inspiration.  I’ve started my next chapter, The Etiquette Shop, where independent businesses and artistpreneurs can shop my services and hire me to tell their story, charm their clients, and make a lasting impression.  You can see my service list here, and you can contact me for more information at kate (at) ladykatherinesims.com.

Almost a year ago, I didn’t know what I’d be doing today, but I hoped it was something I loved.  I’m pleased to say that I’ve fulfilled that wish.  I love my office in The Warehouse, where I’m surrounded by inspiring people all day, every day.  I love getting out and meeting people who open my eyes to new delights.  I love working with forward-thinking, passionate people and helping them be even better at that thing that they do- whatever it may be.  And I love you, dear reader, for tagging along.

xx

Happy Birthdays!

Yesterday was my youngest brother’s 21st birthday. I sent him a card.
Today is my friend Brent’s 25th birthday.  I don’t have his address, but I wanted to wish him a happy birthday.  I hope you don’t mind me sharing my well wishes here.
HappyBirthdayBrentHappy Birthday Philip and Brent.  I love you!

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, February 24th

These days, I get up early.  The room is dark and cold; I turn on the heat, but not the lights.

It takes me three minutes to walk to The Warehouse.  Four, if I’m walking slow.

I like living within walking distance of where I work, I like passing the same people every morning and giving them that I’m-walking-to-work nod as we shuffle past each other, our hands in our pockets, our chins buried in our scarves.  I like having a place to go to, a key that fits in a lock, a desk that is my own.

It’s only been a week, but already I feel at home in my new space.  I drink coffee and tea throughout the day, cup after cup after cup.  I still work for myself, but I do it amongst others.  Work feels like work again, which I like.

Our windows look out on an old graveyard and some very handsome trees.  The birds sing to us throughout the day and when it’s foggy it’s almost as if we’re floating in a cloud.

The atmosphere in the office is cool and relaxed.  The three of us who share the space get on with our individual projects and sometimes break to tell stories, refill our coffee cups, or ask for a reality check.

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been taking myself through my own branding method, the Brandstorm.  I’m learning a lot.  Soon, I’ll start sharing my experience with you.

We like to celebrate here in the office.  Yesterday, our neighbor on the first floor, Paul, had a birthday.  We made him a card and then gathered for cake, candles and champagne.

After a moment of birthday cheer, it was back up on the top floor for a few more hours of work. 

And a few more cups of coffee and tea, too.

Slowly, I’m moving my things into the my space, slowly I’m making it mine.

Meanwhile, my desk at home is becoming less and less mine with each passing day.  Tom is living with us right now and my at-home studio is operating as his man cave.  

Last night, the Tunbridge Wells Writers gathered again.  The Black Pig was only accepting cash for the evening so I stopped in a grocery store to visit an ATM.  As someone who enjoys good food and eating well, I find big-box grocery stores incredibly depressing. And these flowers?  If my significant other bought me any of these flowers for Valentine’s Day, I’d break up with them.  Even if it wasn’t Valentine’s Day, I’d break up with them.

After the depressing grocery store incident, I enjoyed many inspiring conversations about books and writing, art and philosophy in the function room at the pub.

We had a terrific turn-out last night and it’s exciting to see the group grow and mature.
It’s funny, I’ve only been to Tunbridge Wells Writers meetings on three occasions, but already I feel like they’re mine, my people, my tribe.  I enjoy the dynamic personalities in the group, the diverse writing styles represented in the group, and their willingness to open up and share their work and wisdom with others.

They’re also incredibly obliging when it comes time to leave and a lady would like a lift home.
My friend Peter often plays the role of DD and, along with his dashboard friends Bernard and Oscar, he gave a group of us a safe and warm ride home.

To close out the evening, I read a few pages of my much loved collection of short stories by Andre Dubus, which I’d meant to lend to my friend David earlier in the evening but had forgotten at home.  I think Dubus is a masterful storyteller and I admire his work enormously.  If you’re looking for a good read, I highly recommend any of his books though Finding a Girl in America and Broken Vessels are two of my favorites.  
After a few pages, it was off to bed, and thus concludes my Tuesday.
Thank you for reading.
xox