Category Archives: A More Beautiful World

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

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

> Open Hearts, Open Doors <

Let me preface this post by saying that today, I wanted to get personal.  It’s been too long since I cracked my heart open like a chestnut and shared some feelings with you.  Truth is, I haven’t needed to.  Things have been going well– so well!– and I’d almost forgotten to acknowledge my blessings and show thanks for them.  But these past few days, I’ve remembered; this post is an offering of thanks and a small representation of my psyche.  I wish I could say it better, but for now this will have to do.

You know that part in Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth realizes that she’s the one who’s been too proud, too prejudiced, and too blinded by her own stubborn judgements and vanity to see the goodness that stood directly before her?  Well, you guys, I am Elizabeth, and it turns out that Tunbridge Wells is my Mr. Darcy.

Since hanging up my freelance saddle at the beginning of the year and promising myself that I’d live in the present and experience all this town has to offer, I’ve been overwhelmed by the diversity, creativity, and kindness of the people I’ve met.  I’ve been touched by their helpfulness, flattered by their curiosity, and so encouraged by their spirited discussions and visions for the future.  Already, I have friends I cherish and places in which I know I’ll feel welcome.  More than once, I’ve been moved to tears by the richness of this town and the goodness of its people.  Slowly, I’m finding my tribe, and my only regret is that that I let my spirit be clouded by hasty judgements and fear for all those months before.

As I look back on these first eight months (nine, almost nine), I wanted to implore you to remember that an open heart opens doors and an open mind is keen to grow.  This world is a beautiful place, dear reader, but sometimes we need to stop squinting to see this to be true.  I don’t know where these coming months will lead me, but for once I don’t feel troubled by uncertainty.  I’m happy here.  Happy to learn, happy to grow, happy to meet new friends and have adventures.  And oh, what a wonderful adventure this is!

Thank you for being here (there), dear reader, thank you for putting up with me, and thank you for reading.  xx 

>   A Captive Audience? by David Reekie, 2000.  Photo taken at the Victoria & Albert museum.  <

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!

> 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

Cereal

Today, dear reader, I would like to introduce you to my newest must-read, the completely gorgeous quarterly magazine, Cereal.  Full of captivating imagery, interesting articles, and even a few mouth-watering recipes (and, might I add, no ads) the magazine has me flipping through the pages time and time again.

The magazine’s strap-line says it all, almost: “In pursuit of food and travel,” but also, I think, in pursuit of community.  Intellectual community, creative community, and a vibrant global community united through the shared love of food, travel, craftsmanship and beauty.  Editor Rosa Park brings focus to the world around us, highlighting delicious details like those found in the simple, yet lovely, multi-purpose handkerchiefs by -Cheif or those being uncovered by the team of diverse food enthusiasts at the Nordic Food Lab.  Articles teach us about the many varieties of carrots and take us on a walk through one of the most cherished arboretums in all the world.  The magazine is truly a delight for the senses and is a publication that deserves a prime spot on any coffee table or bookshelf.  I cannot recommend it enough.

For those of you scrambling for last-minute gifts, a subscription to Cereal would charm most any reader interested in food, travel, and thoughtful design, and at £35 for four issues, I feel a winning gift is but a click away.

If you’re of the ilk who would prefer to purchase your copy in the flesh, I bought mine at the gift-haven, Magma Books, in Clerkenwell (seriously, there’s a book or magazine for anyone and everyone there), but if London isn’t convenient, you can check out their other stockists located here and there throughout the globe, too.

xoxo

I hate to hate, but I hate.

Everything I’ve tried to write since Friday sounds clunky and inconsequential.  Either too trivial or not enough- not strong enough, poignant enough, insightful enough.  I’m angry, too, and as everyone who’s ever written anything out of anger knows, angry words lack the clarity they need to open minds and warm hearts.

I hate what happened in Newtown.  I hate that it’s more difficult to get a driver’s license than it is to get a gun in the States.  I hate that children have another reason to dislike school and that safe places cannot be guaranteed.  I hate that the technology available to us and our cultural lust for never-ending content, rather than quality, has sullied facts, rushed reports, and damaged additional lives.  But most of all, I just really hate that this happened.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the nation and my votes will be with law-makers who support stricter gun control, advocate for the health and care of the mentally ill and don’t want to fight violence with more guns, more violence.

I don’t bring up political issues often in this space (though I find this particular case to be a human issue rather than a political one) but my silence on the topic isn’t because I don’t care and tomorrow, when I go back to posting about other things- less important things- it’s not because I’ve forgotten.   I will never forget.  Promise that you’ll never forget, too. 

Let’s make this world a more beautiful place, a safer place, a better place. 

Read Books [shop local]

Two things before we all embark a weekend of holiday shopping and merriment-making:

ONE:  I read this article about Karen Hayes and Ann Patchett’s indie-bookstore and, you guys, I cried. Happy tears, wet face, shoulders shaking, all that.  The bookstore is called Parnassus Books and if you’re ever in Nashville, you should check it out.  If you’re somewhere else in the States and want to buy a book for someone, please buy through your local independent, which you find find here

If you’re in the UK and have any great independent bookstore recommendations, I’d be delighted to hear them!  I’ve found a couple small, specialty shops but I’d love to find others, too!  Hobbit Town, sadly, doesn’t have an independent bookstore.  Alas…

TWO: I’m off to London in a few hours to spend the evening with my friend Jill and while I’m in the city, I’m going to purchase the first issue of the new- and totally gorgeous!- Cereal Magazine.  I have this sneaking suspicion that I’m going to love it. 

And for all my Boston friends, if you’re interested in getting your hands on a copy of Cereal, too, my friends at Olives & Grace are stockists.  They’re in the South End.  Check them out.

Anyway, I must dash.  Have a pretty & literary weekend, friends. xo