Category Archives: Food

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

TWM_August26_2014_8You know in sitcoms when a kinda normalish character has a totally ridiculous view of the city and you just kind of roll your eyes and think uh-huh honey, whatever. Well, this past week, we were cat-sitting in London and the flat we were staying in has exactly one of those views. It was the kind of perspective that makes walking up five floors totally worth it (even when you’re carrying a typewriter and a bottle or two of wine!). It’s a pinch-yourself-each-morning kinda view, and when you hear Big Ben ring every hour, you definitely feel blessed.

(For all ya’ll who are shrugging your shoulders, here’s another photo. Yep, that’s Westminster, Big Ben, Parliament and The London Eye and The Shard. All places I like a helluva lot better from up above than I do walking by on the ground.)

TWM_August26_2014_9Tuesday morning was rainy and grey and cold. In typical English fashion, we all obsessed over the weather and I kept stating that it definitely feels like autumn whilst sitting in the cocoon I made out of a duvet on the sofa (I’m so good at being British, you guys). Liam, on the other hand, was a total trooper. He poured himself a hot cup of a coffee, put on a sweater jumper, and just got to work.

TWM_August26_2014_10I really love homes that have an eclectic, lived-in feel. Every object in the flat we were staying in had a story– from the mid-century modern furniture to their paintings and their mugs– which were all Disney mugs. And boy, did they have a lot of Disney mugs! But the 101 Dalmatians mug was my favourite.

TWM_August26_2014_11When it comes to homes, natural light is #1 on my must-have list and I especially like homes that have an open plan with windows on both sides (or, better yet, all sides!) of the space.  This flat had the previously pictured fantastic tourist trap view and then a beautiful view of Vincent Square on the other side. Since the flat was nestled in the eaves of the building, it was almost like we were floating above the neighbourhood, secluded and private in our white-washed oasis. I absolutely loved it!

TWM_August26_2014_12Speaking of white-washed, how ’bout this beautiful marble table?! I don’t know who they paid to carry it up five flights of stairs but whoever it was, I hope they got paid some major cash money, as opposed to my “movers” who are really my friends and who I pay in pizza and beer.

TWM_August26_2014_13Even though I’ve been working for myself for a while now, I still feel guilty about spending my time planning, creating, and editing posts for our Gradient blog during business hours. I’m always like This is fun! Surely I shouldn’t be doing this right now. But then I give myself a grown-ass lady talk and remind myself that I am my own marketing and business development department. Then I feel better about doing things to promote myself. In this instance, I was getting my ducks books in a row for this month’s Gradient Reads post, which took me two days to get around to actually shooting because I kept thinking Oh, I’ll just do that later after I do some real work. Ugh. When will I learn?!

TWM_August26_2014_14One of my favourite things about London are all the secret gardens. The city is full of green spaces that must of us will never see or ever even know are there. Green spaces like this. Sure, it’s not a forest or anything, but it’s still mighty fine.

TWM_August26_2014_15Two things that I think make a home really great are lots of books and original art (it doesn’t have to be expensive art!). This flat had plenty of both, which is why I think we all felt immediately comfortable upon walking in. It helps, too, that the flat also had a charming and beautiful cat. I’d like to say that no home is complete without a cat but I do know of a few cat-free homes that I’ll happily retreat to, thereby disproving this rule. But a cat helps. Usually a lot.

TWM_August26_2014_16Nick fell hard for this beautiful (and oh-so-comfy) Saarinen Womb Chair. Funny enough, as we were watching Legally Blonde later that evening, we realised that Elle had the same chair in her dorm! We always knew Nick had good taste, we just didn’t know how good.

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After it stopped raining (finally), I rallied the troops (Liam and Nick) and we set out on a very important mission. A coffee mission! We were out of our usual Perk & Pearl roast, so we trekked to the nearest Workshop– my London favourite– for some beans and a flat white. Not only does Workshop do killer coffee, their shops are wonderfully inviting and unique to boot. Their shops are more than just another café, they’re coffee experiences. And I think that’s really important.

TWM_August26_2014_18Once the coffee was finished, it was time for a cocktail! Together, we headed to my current favourite bar in London, Berners Tavern in The London Edition hotel. Whilst sitting at the bar, Liam realised that he used to work right next door to what is now the restaurant before he moved to Tunbridge Wells. “What was it before it was a hotel and restaurant?” we asked. He didn’t know. Whatever it was, they had some pretty great ceilings!

TWM_August26_2014_19The best thing about being in London this week was being able to take advantage of the wealth of ethnic food the city has to offer. We at Turkish, Mexican, Indian and, in this case, Korean. (We also ate lots and lots of gourmet pizza. You know how I roll.) Thanks to an old friend who was gracious enough to be my Korean culinary guide whilst I was in college, I fell hard for Korean cuisine and consider many Korean dishes amongst my all-time favourite meals. Lo and behold, Tunbridge Wells doesn’t have any Korean restaurants, so hitting up Bibimbop in Soho was a rare treat. And a pretty delicious treat, too!

TWM_August26_2014_20With full bellies, we meandered toward home but stopped outside Daks to plan our AW2014 wardrobes, which we’ll wear when we go fox hunting with Her Majesty The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, and The Prince of Wales, of course.

I’ll have this, this, and this, please!

TWM_August26_2014_21After we made it back to Pimlico, the boys went home and I wandered the square and the surrounding streets to a) find wine, and b) talk to David on the phone. One of the things I loved to do when I lived in Boston was aimlessly wander the streets at night whilst talking to the phone. I’d chat to whomever (my parents, mostly) and ogle the beautiful interiors (I saw lots of crown moulding and chandeliers) of the stately homes in Beacon Hill, Brookeline, and along Comm Ave whilst laughing and sharing stories with the voice on the other end of the line.

Since moving to the UK, I don’t talk on the phone much and I don’t speak to my friends and family in The States the way I used to– spontaneously. The time difference dictates that our communication is something that needs to go on the To-Do list– To Do: Text Mom to Arrange Skype Call– rather than the comfortable and easy hello that it used to be. Instead of daily catch-ups full of hum-drum tidbits that I happily listened to and shared as I circled city streets, we now keep our catch-ups limited to just the big events.

Okay, I’m actually getting weepy writing about this right now. Ugh. Anyway! TUESDAY: So on Tuesday night, as I walked through Pimlico and looked through every residential window I could, I called and talked to David. We didn’t speak for long as we had only been apart for one day, but in that short time that we spoke, I was reminded of those streets in Boston and the way we fell in love in the city. I remembered telling my mom about David for the first time whilst I walked through Brookline. I stopped at a park and was sitting on a bench when I did the whole “I met someone” thing, the scent of summer roses heavy in the air. I could hear her breathing on the other side of the phone as I told her more. I watched a family walk past as I spoke and imagined their daughter calling and saying the same thing I was saying to my mother to her own mother, who had curly hair and a stern mouth. It’s nice talking to someone on the phone when you’re outside in the city– it reminds you that the things you’re saying aren’t the only things that matter. That we all have stuff to say, people we love, people we’ll hurt and disappoint, and people we’ll pass in the night and never know. Cities are cool like that.

Back in Pimlico, the square was quiet as I said goodbye to David. A man with a dog confidently walking lead-free beside him passed me and I could see a woman in a bathrobe flip channels as she stood in the window of her third floor flat. I felt alone but totally connected to so much that was happening around me. Alone, but electric. When Big Ben told me it was 9 o’clock, I pointed my lens between the railings of the fence surrounding the green and took this picture. My heart was aching with nostalgia.

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Back in the flat, we enjoyed some wine and decided to watch Legally Blonde, which is when Nick had his realisation that his beloved chair was actually Elle’s chair which temporarily gave him mixed feelings about it.

TWM_August26_2014_23Because taking a photo of the movie would be BORING, I decided to take a picture of our vacant hosts’ art books on their bookcase, which spanned the entire wall. I was so jealous of their books and their massive bookcase, which is basically everything I ever dreamed of. David and I are already planning to make (ahem: buy)  a copy-cat bookcase of our own because it was just so simple and good and perfect. It literally made me feel the same way Belle’s bookcase in the Beast’s house palace? made me feel when I was six years old, which was a pretty amazing feeling of desire and aspiration.

TWM_August26_2014_24When the evening came to a close, I went to bed alone. But I wasn’t really alone because the eye is always watching!!!!!!!!

And that was my Tuesday, friends. What did you get up to? I want to know everything.  (No, seriously I do.)

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

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The Christmas lights are a twinkle light bedroom lamp again.

8Breakfeasting on  bagels that I made myself, yo.

It was just over a year ago that I first made bagels. Remember? I love experimenting with different flours and spice toppings. This batch I made with spelt flour, sea salt and rosemary. Delicious!

9My friends Liam and Kate have inspired me with their 2014 resolutions and it’s changed the way I enjoy two things: my time with friends and my coffee.

First, Liam decided this year to sit back and enjoy the things we take for granted on a daily basis.  Things like good coffee and good wine. Things like kitty snuggles and sandwiches.

Kate inspired me with her resolution to put her phone away when she’s with friends so she can focus more acutely on being with the people she’s spending time with.  I think that’s really nice, don’t you?

Anyway, coffee! I’ve cut back to one cup a day and I only drink the good stuff (thank you Perk & Pearl!). I Aeropress it and then I savour it and it’s awesome. No coffee dehydration, no caffeine shakes. Just delicious coffee. And maximum enjoyment.

10David and I stumbled upon a mid century furniture treasure trove over the weekend and scored these Gordon Russell nesting tables. The lady who ones the place, The Kula, is amazing.  I like to refer to her as my Furniture Fairy Godmother.

11I’m juggling a number of exciting projects right now and they’re all in various stages of completion.  Here’s a snippet of an upcoming video shoot that’s still in the sketching and storyboarding phase.

12I know, I know, I need more stuff in my office.  I got nothin’ besides this jade to photograph. It’s getting kinda sad.

13On my lunch break, I went out to buy some coconut oil and other provisions. Whilst walking back to the office, the paper bag I was carrying ripped open and everything fell out. #Sadface. So this is the awesome photo I took with my one free hand whilst walking. So good, right?

14One of my provisions. Almond butter. Yum!

15This is just someone I saw on the street and decided to sketch. Hey, dude.

16Oh, did I ever tell you that I work with psychos? Because I do. This is proof.

17Green tea sipping vessel. No matter how many times I look at it, I can’t help but think of a penguin.

18And then it was time for a meeting at my favourite meeting spot, Fuggles!

19And it was at Fuggles where I had the great honour of hanging out with Matt Harquail.  He’s the incredibly talented photographer behind Kudos and he’s just as lovely in real life as his photos are. This photo does him absolutely no justice (sorry, Matt!) but trust me when I say he’s super handsome and also a giant.

20And then, after a little while, Liam joined us. Also, it’s come to my attention that Liam hasn’t always been credited in my blog soooooo here is his Twitter, his website, his other Twitter, his other website, and his Pinterest. Love you, Liam!

21And then Nick arrived.

22And then David arrived (wherever I go, I make it a party!) and, when we got hungry, we all went to La Fiamma because, well, obviously.

23After a delicious dinner, we went home and began an episode of Dexter but I was tired (and intoxicated, so maybe I didn’t sit and enjoy every sip of my wine quite as much as I should’ve… or maybe I enjoyed it too much?) so I went to bed.

And then I slept a wonderful sleep. The end.

Remember, people! If you’d like to contribute to Tuesday With Vous, you can find all the details right here. It would be great to see what a day in your life looks like!

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

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Early morning journaling in the blue morning light.  I signed up for Braid Creative‘s email series, Coaching for Creatives, a few weeks ago and started the 4 week, 16 part series on Monday.  Yesterday was my second day and prompted me to journal with the mantra Be Here Now in mind. Here’s some of what I wrote.

It’s fitting that I’ve started my Be Here Now journal on a Tuesday, the day that I focus my mind and my lens on one thing that is happening around me on the top of every hour. I started TWM with the intention of focusing on the present but I need to be honest– lately I haven’t felt inspired by my TWM posts. My photos feel tired and dull. I’ve been blaming the light– or lack thereof– for this change, as the English days are dark and grey, but the real problem stems from feeling a lack of creativity and passion.  

Just writing those words felt liberating. Simply admitting that I’ve needed space and time to explore creative forms of expression made my head clear and I realised how nice it felt to hold a pen in my hand and to write for myself rather than for a client or a deadline. It slowed down my thinking and made me feel present– and in that present place, I felt creative, passionate, and resourceful. And then I did something that I haven’t done since college, I turned the page in my journal and wrote the lyrics to one of my favourite songs, Be Here Now by Mason Jennings.  The verse I love best goes like this:

Be here now, no other place to be
All the doubts that linger, just set them free
And let good things happen
And let the future come into each moment
Like a rising sun

After setting the tone for the day with that journal entry, I decided to take a simple, silent moment to be here now before shooting each of the following photos.

9As I was admiring my shadow in the morning light, I thought about how funny it is that we live with things that are unfinished, sometimes.  I painted these striped walls over a year ago and I’ve still not  managed to sit down and paint the baseboards. Every time I walk through the hallway I think, I should really paint the baseboards, and yet I never do.  Why is this?
Do you have a totally easy unfinished home project like this?
Do you want to make a pact to finish them?
I’m being serious.

10Great news: I haven’t killed my bonsai yet!
Bad news: Le Chat keeps eating my bonsai tree.  See those nibbled leaves in the upper right-hand corner?  Yep, Le Chat. Feasting!  She’s so weird.

11A stray paper feather is all I’ve got in the Desk Decor Department right now.  Go ahead and add my desk space to my “unfinished decoration” list… Though I have a sneaking suspicion the desk will come along faster than those sad baseboards.

12Yesterday was Jez‘s birthday so I drew him a cake. It was a very healthy cake. Zero calories.

13The leaves on my jade are picking up a burnt red hue now that she sits in direct light for much of the day. (Please note: “direct light” not “direct sunlight”. This is England, after all.) I like watching the subtle changes my plants go through. I like the way my fern arcs toward the sun, the way my aloe gets sunstroke if I leave her in the window too long, and the way this little jade, whose leaves are thick and heavy like rubber, slowly changes colour.  It’s such a joy to watch.  (Ohmygosh, is this what having a baby is like?!)

14Look, you guys, blue skies!  I am always very thankful for blue skies and sunshine.

15Even though I’ve been in the new space over a week, I didn’t get my keys to the office until yesterday.  Now that I have keys, I have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot of late nights here.

16Green tea, yellow teapot. Over the past few months, green tea has replaced coffee as my beverage of choice. Throughout the day, I’m always sipping something green from Perk and Pearl (they have a terrific selection), but when I need to get away from my desk for a while, I head next door to Scallywag Café and order a pot of it.  There’s something so nice about drinking tea from a teapot.  The ritual, the soft clink of the pot’s spout as it graces the edge of the cup, the dizzy noise of a cup and saucer… it’s all very nice, don’t you think?

17Liam and I have been working on Artists Unveiled ideas (did you see that we have an AU Meet and Greet this Saturday?!) and our own little master plan for the future a lot lately and we’ve made Scallywag our own little office away from office. It reminds me of living back at home-home (as in Minnesota), all this coffee shop hangin’, and I really love it.

18What I especially like about Scallywag is that they’re open until 7:00 PM. Plenty of time to accommodate our lengthy laptop-crowded discussions.

19At 6:30, Liam and I met with a wonderful local business at The Black Pig to talk about their needs and how we might be able to creatively meet some of those needs together. I won’t say anything more about it until the time is right…

20Except this: we’re really excited!

21After our meeting concluded, Liam’s gentleman and my gentleman joined us for a drink.

22And whilst they chatted together, Liam, Sam (who had joined us by this point) and I snuck upstairs to the function room to hang out with the Tunbridge Wells Writers.

23After we’d chatted with some new and old friends, it occurred to us that we hadn’t eaten yet. With rumbling bellies we fumbled around searching for a place other than the kebab shop to grab a late dinner. Much to our surprise, we learned that you can order food until 11:00 PM at the Bar & Grill.  Did you know this? Nightcaps at the Bar & Grill, everyone!

24The clear skies from earlier in the day were long gone by the time we left the restaurant and rain was falling as we zoomed home toward warm beds and…

25a very sleepy Le Chat!

Sun comes up and we start again
Sun comes up and we start again
Sun comes up and we start again
Sun comes up and we start again
Sun comes up and we start again
Sun comes up and we start again

And so concludes my Tuesday.  Thank you for reading! And don’t forget, if you’d like to contribute a Tuesday With Vous, you can find all the details right here.  xx

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My fabulous little life is a whirl of boozy Christmas celebrations, long lunches and belly laughs these days. Prepare yourself for TWM Christmas Crown Edition!

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Considering how much I really detest our current bed, I sure do spend a lot of time in it! Yes, yesterday was another very dark work-from-bed morning. I’m very much looking forward to the Solstice on Saturday and the days getting longer.

9But unlike some days, I wasn’t working from bed all morning out of routine but rather because we had houseguests and I wanted to stay out of their way. My dear friend Max and two of his friends crashed with us for a few days as they journey across Europe over their winter break.  Oh to be in college again!

10See, here they are! Cuties.

11Back in the office, I got into the Christmas spirit with some chalk art before the true festivities started.

12What Christmas festivities? Well, yesterday I was lucky enough (i.e. doomed) to have two 3-course Christmas dinners to attend.  The first of the two was a friend-filled Christmas lunch at Signor Franco.

13Once the wine was poured and the Christmas crackers popped (cracked? opened? I don’t know…), things got out of hand rather quickly. My office buddy, Martin, became a Christmas ninja.

14This classical bust decided a career change was in order and left town to become a Christmas elf.

15And the lady with the sauciest Ladybits in all of Tunbridge Wells got Santa stuck in her chimney!

16After lunch, I went back to the office to settle a few things for the day but quickly realised that the spirit of the season (ahem, wine with lunch) had squandered my ability to get any real work done.

17So I tailed it out of the office and joined everyone else at Fuggles where the merriment continued!

18You know what, I really love Fuggles. It’s simple, it’s comfortable, it’s fresh. Every time I go, I feel like I’m stepping out of Tunbridge Wells and into Narnia… if, of course, Narnia was a bar where interesting people congregated and sipped delicious booze, I mean.

19The ever-changing beer selection at Fuggles is supposedly really great, too, though I wouldn’t know anything about that…

20On my way to Christmas Dinner #2, tragedy struck and I twisted my ankle stepping off a curb and face-planted on the pavement.  As I result, I arrived to Javabean Café with a bloody knee, a run in my tights, and gravel stuck in my palm. So basically I showed up to the party looking every bit the lady that I am… (Thank you, Liam, for this photo of my I want to die face.)

21Despite my elevated level of hot-messness, a wonderful evening transpired with the Tunbridge Wells Writers! We ate, we  laughed, we played a very difficult quiz game….

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And we celebrated a birthday, too! (Happy Birthday, Emma!)

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And Liam’s photos twinkled down on us from the wall like stars in an inky sky… or whatever.

23And then it was time to go so we all hugged goodbye.  (Class Couple 2013 goes to Kat & Sam, obviously! Bahahaa.)

24Once home, I cleaned my wounds and then snuggled under my infinity duvet* to sleep like a queen.

The End and Merry Christmas!

*Like an infinity pool but in duvet form. Essentially, David and I are getting a new bed soon and it’s going to be about twice as big as our current bed. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but we’re upgrading from a Double (i.e. Divorce Bed) to a Super-King (i.e. Happy Marriage Bed).  Last week, when we were preparing for our house guests, we realised we needed another duvet to accommodate them. To solve the problem, we bought our Super-King-sized duvet and gave our visitors our old one (we washed the duvet cover, promise). Wow, so this is a long story!, but the point is: we’re now sardining it under a GINORMOUS duvet until we get our new mattress and already this change is such an improvement. Literally, infinity duvet! Never again will I wake up shivering, wondering where the covers are. Totally life-changing!  I highly recommend.

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Greetings from Minnesota where I’ve been laying low for the past week. After running here there and everywhere seeing my nearest and dearest, I have finally found a moment to share my day with you. Enjoy!

8First, and most importantly, let me introduce you to the newest addition to my family: my MacBook Air! Methuselah is getting angry and uncooperative now that she has to share my affection with another, but she’ll enjoy retirement, I think.  She and the Spinning Rainbow Wheel of Doom will have many happy, quiet years together now that they’re empty nesters.  It’ll be cute.

9These Minnesota days have been bright and sunny but also freezing cold. There’s nothing like a warming coffee to get the gears working in the morning.

10Did you have an imaginary friend as a child? I did. His name was Little Fox and he was (you guess it!) a little fox that would follow me around and keep me company.  When my mom saw this  ornament, she immediately thought of Little Fox and got it for me. It actually looks a lot like Little Fox except my LF stood on his hind legs and smoked a pipe, naturally.  Still, I love him! His scarf is adorable.

11What’s great about the US is that there’s a definitive Christmas season and it begins after Thanksgiving. In the UK, it starts getting cold and suddenly you enter a waiting game where we all watch each other trying to guess who will be first to say the ‘C’ word. Here, we all know that it’s not time for tinsel and holly until after the pumpkin pie has been devoured and someone has gotten trampled at a midnight Black Friday opening at a Best Buy or WalMart. We don’t start listening to Christmas music until Thanksgiving day. That’s the rule and it’s a sacred one.

12We call this room in our house The Library.  I didn’t realise that calling it that was pretentious until I went to college and some girl in a writing class called me on it.  Anyway, it’s a super cosy room and I love our little library, which is full of books that include The Atlas of Middle Earth, a set of Encyclopaedias from the 80s, and basically every book written by C.S. Lewis ever. Plus so much more. It’s a magical place and I have many happy memories here.

Also, my new knit scarf! Isn’t it pretty? It’s by The Gold Thread Collective, a group of insanely talented Minnesotans.  Be sure to do some shopping with them in their Etsy store and, if you’re local (in Minnesota, I mean) be sure to visit them at the Holiday Bazaar on December 7th. It looks like it’s going to be a really fun day and I’m super bummed I won’t be there for it!

13You guys, Minnesota is such a magical place.  People who have never been to Minnesota don’t understand this, but Minnesota, and specifically the Twin Cities, are a mecca of talent.  Food! Music! Art! Medicine! Big Thoughts! There. Is. So. Much. Talent. And whoever made this Huevos Rancheros at The Kenwood Restaurant is among the super talented. It was so good!

14After devouring our delicious meal with our dear friends Sarah Vande Kamp (remember her?!) and Joe Whitson (who should totally do a Tuesday With Vous because his life is like a magical hipster history book), we went for a walk around my favourite lake, Lake of the Isles.  The lake had already started to freeze over and our faces were quickly following suit so we abandoned our walk after strolling only a quarter of the way around the lake.  Despite the frigid temperature and wind chill, it was still a beautiful walk.

15To bring some warmth back to our limbs and faces, David and I stopped at French Meadow Bakery & Cafe for some hot chocolate.  Just like the wizards in Harry Potter, I firmly believe that hot chocolate has healing powers.

16Back at home, we watched the sun set and waited for the next part of our day to unfold.

17Sitting on the sink in our powder room, my mom has put together an adorable rock tower with stones she collected at Lake Superior over the summer.  Isn’t it the cutest?

18I can’t even tell you how nice it’s been being home with my family.  It’s nice to take the time to stop and smell the flowers and to eat too much and drink too much, too.

19It’s also been nice to see my family’s neighbours that I don’t often see.  Neighbours I’ve grown up with who used to feed me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches after school and now feed me bourbon. I don’t complain….

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Friends who we kiss goodbye under the mistletoe.

21Every time I visit, I daydream of moving to Minneapolis. And when I do move back, I’m going to move right next door to Bachelor Farmer. This was my favourite dish of the evening, the Beet Carpaccio. The flavours were spectacular, diverse, and surprising in all the right ways.  Everything about the meal was fantastic, in fact– the food, the music, the ambiance, A+ all around! Plus, one of my favourite bars in the city, Marvel Bar, is conveniently located directly beneath. If you go, be sure to have a whiskey sour. It’ll change your life! (Okay, maybe it won’t change your life but it will certainly make your night a little more fabulous.)

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There’s nothing I love more than a hearty meal and great conversation.  Sitting around a table with my love and my parents is one of my all time favourite ways to spend an evening. I’m thankful to have such spectacular people in my life!

23On the way home to the ‘burbs, we drove past the most intricately lit tree in the whole wide world. Every branch is wrapped in white lights and has been standing as a beacon of joy for as long as I can remember.  It’s a sight to behold and you can read all about it right here.

And now, my dears, is Turkey Time.  Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for reading!  KISSES!

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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Operation Wake Up Early has been relatively successful. I woke up just after 7:00 yesterday and did some writing and planning whilst Le Chat slept on my feet, keeping them toasty warm.  With David gone this week, I’m extra thankful for my kitty cuddles.

(Sorry, I just have to add that a part of me dies every time I write “kitty cuddles” but I can’t stop because I love them so much and oh my gosh is this what being a mom is like kinda?!)

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For my birthday last week, I was gifted a film camera (!!) and film to use with it (!!!).  Film is precious. Much like Charlie’s bar of Willy Wonka birthday chocolate, I know it’s something that must be used in order to be enjoyed, but I feel a great burden to not waste it or be frivolous with it. As a defect of my personality, I run the risk of keeping this film forever for fear of wasting it on a silly subject only to find it one day expired, so I was thinking some friendly reinforcement would help me get out and start using my new camera.

My idea is this: Film Lover Photo Walks in Tunbridge Wells! If you love shooting film and like walking, let me know and let’s arrange a walk with some like-minded friends! And maybe you can give me some film photography pointers, too…?

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You Guys, meet The Bag. The Bag, meet You Guys.  The Bag is my super perfect, beautiful, always-there-for-me friend.  And You Guys are my totally fun friends who constantly make me smile.  I think the two of you will really like each other!  Talk amongst yourselves whist I go top-up my drink… Bisous!

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Seriouse Face Time: my friends are way too good to me and I’m so thankful for their (and your!) kindness and support. My office-mate, Martin, who has to put up with me all. day. long. got me a blackboard mug for my birthday. Every morning (when I’m in the office) I’m going to write or draw something on it and either Instagram or tweet a picture with the hashtag #mymorningmugshot. Make that a latte with an extra shot of creativity, I guess!

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Obsessed with autumn. Obviously.

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I hate throwing styrofoam away but I like making friends out of it! Meet Jim. He just ate a pomegranate.

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Obsessed with autumn, take II.

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This table sits there all day and dares me to eat my lunch on its matte black surface.  But I don’t. Instead, I eat my lunch hunched over my keyboard like all the other civilized people…

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Pretty sunsets these days make me want to be like, so I guess my work here is done… but then I look at the clock and realise it’s only 4:00 and I cry a little inside. #WinterIsComing

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I didn’t explicitly mention it last week on my Birthday Resolutions edition of TWM, but I have big plans for my business this year.  The first step?  Hiring myself to re-inspire my outpouring of unique and useful engaging content. The number one challenge my clients have is not knowing how to talk about their own awesome work, so I’ve decided to lead by example and take on the task of being more open about my own awesome work.  Yesterday, I published my first business-related post in a long time.  I’ll be honest, it was exciting but also a little bit scary.  Take a look!

>Pitch Time< Blog posts! Tweets! Newsletters! + and all the other fun ways you have of communicating with your people! What do they have in common? They all need interesting and engaging targeted content. If you’re someone who struggles with knowing what to say and how to say it, I’m here to help. And right now, I’m offering complimentary 30-minute Skype consultations to anyone who’s interested in digitally expanding their outreach. Interested? Drop me a line at kate(at)ladykatherinesims.com.  >Pitch over<

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Washing dishes with my rings off. Living like a single lady for ten minutes. Oooh, la-la!

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You know when you wash dishes and tidy the kitchen so you can cook dinner and then by the time you finish you’re too lazy to cook so you go to La Fiamma instead?  That’s exactly what happened last night.

Right now, the restaurant is completely decked out for Halloween, which is adorable. My stomach also thought the cheesy garlic bread and pizza were adorable, too.  So much so, in fact, that when I had finished, my stomach sent my brain a message that read: “Yumyumyum. I love it here so much that when I die, I hope I wake up to find that La Fiamma is heaven!”  Sooo cute, right?!

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After a delicious dinner it was time to go to a very special Fright Night meeting for the Tunbridge Wells Writers. We were running a tiny bit late (I was carrying a pizza baby, remember?) so I snapped this photo as we walked past Trinity Theatre. Spooky, no?

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Oh, the writers!  They are a lovely group.  We crowded around a candle-laden table in a function room at The Black Pig and read bone-chilling stories that were written by our very own talented members. In this particular photo, we have the ever-wonderful Jess reading her piece.  Her presentation skills are spooktacular (sorry, I had to) and her story was creepy in all the right ways!

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My fellow North American in the group carved this pumpkin for us. Wasn’t that sweet of her?  You betcha it was!

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After listening to something like 15 stories, I couldn’t help but feel that something wicked this way was really truly coming and I was already anticipating the nightmares.  In fact, I was almost to the point where I would’ve sold my soul to a witch if it meant that David would magically be whisked back to England to sleep by my side so I guess you could say I had a case of the creepy crawlies real bad.  I mean, take this picture, for instance– can you see that tiny ghost?!

(The frightfully fantastic story that I couldn’t get out of my head last night was by Simon Jon Cox and you can read it here: Atoc. But be warned, it’s not for the faint of heart!)

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But David was not magically in bed when I came home last night.  But do you know who was?  Le Chat! And with her nestled beside me, I drifted into a surprisingly lovely slumber.

As always, my dear sweet reader, thank you for sharing my Tuesday with me. xx

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Boston Edition

Boston. Oh, Boston!  I lived in Boston for six years before moving to the UK.  If you’ve met me in person, I’ve probably told you that I lived there for seven, which is a lie, but a well-meaning one as I’m very bad at math and didn’t realise I was lying until right now.  Regardless of the actual number of years, I lived in Boston for the most transformative years of my life. They were good years.

David and I met in Boston and fell in love and married there.  As individuals and as a couple, the city means a lot to us and we had been anxious to get back for quite some time.  When a friend’s wedding gave us the opportunity to take a prolonged vacation in Beantown, we happily booked our tickets and found a sweet little oasis near the beach in Southie to rent.  And it was in this little seaside rental that my Tuesday began.

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Typically, I didn’t take any real time off whilst on holiday and woke early each morning to complete a few hours of work before the rest of the house began to stir.  Jet lag made rising early easy, but the cocktails the night before sometimes made my eyelids long for more sleep.

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If you’ve never been to Southie, you should go.  Go before it changes too much.  Walking around, you can still see the characters that have defined the neighborhood walking down Broadway and cutting through the back streets, but more and more, those quintessential characters are being replaced by 30-something corporate types with good jobs and practical shoes.  The neighborhood is changing; new construction is going up on almost every block, established Boston restaurants are opening new locations in Southie and the greasy spoons and corner pubs are being squeezed out.  It’ll be interesting to see what it looks like in another five years… probably a lot like the South End.

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When we were in Boston, we lived in Southie for two years.  “In Southie.”  Technically, we lived just over the bridge from Boston in a swanky high-rise.  Sometimes we’d see junkies at the bus stop or hear a crowd of sirens moving into the projects when we were walking to brunch, but for the most part we were far removed from the heart of Southie.  Think The Departed, Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone.  We knew those streets existed, but we didn’t live on them.  This trip, we were closer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Ben Affleck and Matt Damon films accurately depict the reality of Southie.  No.  Like any community, Southie’s made up of families who care about each other, their community, and their people.  Sometimes you hear stories about shady characters going missing and bodies washing up in the ocean, but that kind of stuff goes down in any city.  For the most part, people keep their heads down, work hard and look forward to the weekends. For the most part, it’s a really great place.

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Whilst we were visiting, I was amazed by how quickly my life in England seemed to evaporate. My feet remembered the streets like no time had passed and we fell into familiar conversation with our friends without missing a beat.  In many ways, it was good that I was working, good that I had something to tether me to my life in Tunbridge Wells.  If I didn’t, I don’t know if I would have come back.

(Note: I love living in the UK and I love Tunbridge Wells.  I also love Kudos, a new magazine that my friend just started.  I like to joke that it’s the Tunbridge Wells magazine that you can actually read, but really, it’s true– read it! It’s all about living local and loving local, which are basically my two favourite things. Plus it’s super pretty so be sure to check it out!)

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It was our pleasure, whilst away, to share our apartment and our time with my old roommate and greatest friend, Brent.  He lives in Washington DC and works at NPR (so cool, I know) so as you can imagine, the two of us don’t get the chance to see each other very often. It was really nice to just hang out with him again.  Drink coffee in our pajamas in the morning, play Ticket To Ride on the couch, go on long walks and remark on everything that’s changed.  Simple stuff.  Normal stuff.

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After Brent left us to go to a museum with his girlfriend, David and I went for a walk along the ocean.  The day was grey and humid and the ocean oscillated between smelling like heaven and like rotting fish.  After a while, we stopped on a bench to look out over the harbor.  Gulls sounded in our ears, a group of school children picking up trash laughed and flirted in the background, and my heartbeat fell in time to the lapping of the waves. In England, I really miss the ocean.

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We continued our walk to the very tip of Southie where the planes fly so close you feel you can reach up and touch them.  I took this picture to add to my dear friend Casey’s #aplaneaday hashtag on instagram.

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The sky got dark and threatened rain so David and I returned to our apartment.  The roofers across the street continued to work and we heard the slap of shingles hitting the sidewalk as we waited for the rain that did not come.

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David decided to nap and relax for the afternoon so I struck out alone and walked through Southie to Boston to meet Brent and Acacia.  I loved walking through the neighborhood alone and noting all the things that are different.  Cupcake shops and yoga studios are opening where credit unions and sandwich shops used to be. Barber shops and liquor stores still seem to be thriving.  This mural is still on the wall…

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Upon meeting my friends, we decided it was high time to enjoy one of my favourite foods of all time, nachos!  Here is Brent and Acacia looking nacho happy!

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What’s great about Brent is he’s always forcing me to try new things or urging me to do things that I really don’t want to do in an effort to broaden my horizons.  Sometimes these things are fun, and sometimes they are the worst.  On this particular evening, Brent made me take the T at rush hour.  I don’t like being underground to begin with and don’t even like riding the T when it’s off-peak, so you can imagine my happiness when he forced us to cram into a completely full train on a very warm day.  This particular moment is one in which I made him pretend to call for help because I just couldn’t deal.

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Happily, we got off the T in Brookline and explored our old stomping grounds on foot.  I love the architecture in Brookline.  Everything is orderly and the homes stand in confident even rows, brick on brick, sturdy and secure.  The trees are tall and strong and the sidewalks are even.  Brent and I used to joke that you could get pregnant drinking the water in Brookline because the summer we lived there everyone seemed pregnant.  It’s a very popular part of the city to start and raise a family.  Also a very popular place to eat delicious bagels!

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One thing I almost never do is venture anywhere near Kenmore Square when there is a Red Sox game on.  On this occasion, I made an exception and sometime during the first or second inning we all settled into Hawthorne for a drink.

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The challenge with visiting a city you love in which you have a wealth of friends is that there is no possible way that you can spend quality time with everyone.  Rather than picking just a few people to go out to dinner with during our stay, David and I announced ‘office hours’ at bars around the city and urged our friends to meet us there en mass.  For the most part, it worked very well, though I will say that I wish I had time to sit and catch up with everyone individually.  Unfortunately, as humans, time is not on our side and we were content instead to see many great friends each and every evening.

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After a delicious whiskey sour and a beautiful Manhattan, we relocated to Franklin Southie, our old ‘hotel bar’, to see another group of friends and fill ourselves with beef cheek tacos and red wine.

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We wiped our fingers on damp wipes like children and laughed like we didn’t have a care in the world, because when you’re on vacation, the cares melt away and you live in an alternate reality where real life doesn’t exist.

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No matter how long you’re away, some things never change. Laughter, drink and food still draw people together, good friendships never die, and being welcomed home to a stand of twinkle lights will always feel like the coziest welcome ever.

                                                                                                                                                                

As you’re well aware, dear reader, I am now home in my UK home with the cat curled at my feet and the cares of the world heavy on my shoulders.  I’ll admit to being rather glum since our return– I should have taken more pictures, written more things down, seen more museums and gone out with more friends!– but I’m happy to say that I think I’ve mostly recovered from my holiday regrets and am able to move forward and focus on some exciting new projects now.  The holiday blues… if that’s the worst thing going on in my life, then boy do I got it good!

Tuesday With Vous: Jason Wain

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Name: Jason Wain
Location: Royal Tunbridge Wells, UK
Occupation: Freelance Photographer (and check out his blog, too!)
Camera: Nikon D7000 with Nikon 17-55 f2.8 lens

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The alarm goes at 07:00. I usually do battle with the snooze, which goes every five minutes, for about half an hour. Sometimes even up to an hour. Today I manage to reach consciousness after only 15 minutes or so. Bravo.

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After dragging myself out of bed, I go for a jog to wake myself up. Also, I know that most of the day will be spent indoors, so I want to make sure I at least get some fresh air, even if only a measly 15 mins! Exercise followed by standard shower breakfast etc, etc.

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I like to start the day (after the jog and before the work) by reading a little bit from my Bible. Sometimes it provides inspiration, sometimes encouragement, and sometimes a challenge.

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And thus the day at the ‘office’ begins. Sorting through and answering emails takes the first hour and a half of Tuesday. It really shouldn’t, but I’m always über thorough at checking things through and editing before I send it. Once you’ve hit the ‘send’ button there’s really nothing you can do about embarrassing mistakes.

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Coffee time. Sometimes I take a break (particularly if it’s very sunny), sometimes I just plough on with the work. Today I just get on with it. I used to think it was just a thing in our family to have coffee at 11:00, but more and more I seem to notice references to 11:00 being coffee time everywhere I go. Do you do it?

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Still at the computer working on dull admin. This week is the first week of August, so I have all the end-of-month stuff to do, such as archiving, spreadsheets, printing receipts and invoices blah de blah blah. This is my only ‘office’ companion, a basil plant who I imaginatively named Basil (it says a lot about the great heights of my creativity, does it not?).

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It’s pretty much lunch time but I can’t be bothered to do anything about it at the moment, so a kiwi and a bit of staring out of the window will suffice until then.

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After lunch I set about editing some photographs I took last week of a ‘Chilled Tomato, Lime, Basil and Lemon Grass Soup’, for food writer Rose Prince’s website. The recipe comes from her second book, The New English Table. That mark on the cloth will have to be removed…

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Early to mid afternoon is traditionally the low point of my day, especially on miserable, grey, rainy days like today. Inspiration is at an all-time low, and I just can’t focus. In the same way that a king can be held prisoner in his own castle, I am held captive by my various to-do lists. My brain is rebelling right now and is arguing against every single item on that list.

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Time for a cup of tea and cake. Things usually get better from hereon in. There’s nothing like a little break and a cup of tea for helping to recharge one’s motivation. I am currently working on my Grandfather’s WWII stories at the moment, so I opt to grill my Mum whilst she’s sitting still on a few of the many small details that need checking.

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The advantage of working off a laptop: I can move to another room, which for some reason often helps a lot in terms of productivity. Continuing with the war stories, I work on mapping out my Granddad’s journey. Not very photography-related, I confess, though I do feel that it is a task that simply has to be done.

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Early finish today as I have dinner with an old pal, Matt, who is back in town from depths of Norwich. We decided to check out the new Côte Brasserie, as they have a good set-menu offer before 19:00.

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Going for a three course menu, one expects to be seated for at least one-and-a-half to two hours. But no, service is so efficient that by the time it’s 19:00 we are already on pudding. Incredible, but almost too efficient. The food was great though, (hence no good pictures – too busy eating!) and the meal finishes with the chocolate pot topped with crème fraîche, pictured. A complimentary shot of a fruity liqueur is a welcome surprise too, considering the set menu only costs £11.90.

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We head off to the private view at the (new?) Art Pull gallery in Camden Road, where we are joined by my brother, a web designer. Here we meet Lady Katherine herself, and Liam who is exhibiting some pictures. The room is very, very hot. And crammed with people.

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After a rather nice banter with Liam and the Lady, my brother, Matt and I depart. We fancy a drink and decide to head to Pulpito, the (relatively) new Spanish place in Camden Road. They have done a great job of creating a wonderfully mediterranean ambience. An Estrella and some complimentary nuts go down nicely with more good bantah.

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In between the last part of 21:00 and 23:00, I come home, make a nice cup of spiced fruit tea and sit down in an armchair with a book, where I am greeted by purring Pippin.

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Finally hit the sack. Happy Wednesday!

                                                                                                   

Awe, that was lovely!  Because I’m a terribly nosey person, I just love seeing what other people get up, how they live, what they eat, etc.  Even when they’re taking horribly unflattering photos of me (seriously, do I really stand like that?!), I’m thrilled to see the world through their lens.  So thank you, Jason, you are a shooting star and I loved your photos!

If you want to contribute to Tuesday With Vous, check out the details and then send me an email at Kate (at) ladykatherinesims.com and we’ll work something out.  It’ll be fun.  Promise!

Tuesday With Moi

Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Birthday Edition

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Yesterday was David’s birthday (the celebration of which, as you will soon see, is  responsible for this post’s tardiness) and this is the card I painted for him. I wanted to paint a much nicer design on the tie, but David came home from work early and disrupted my painting the previous night, so I settled for this.  Not my greatest work, I must say, but still made with love.  9

Growing up, I always wanted to have a house that had trap doors and hidden passageways.  Cox Quarters doesn’t deliver on either front (YET), but if you pull our mirror aside a pile of books is unveiled and I guess that’s kinda cool.  But not as cool as a crawl space to a hidden dungeon.
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It’s been warm recently.  Not so warm that that I’ve filled a kitty pool with ice and am sitting in it, wearing only a swimsuit, in the middle of the living room, but it’s pleasant in the shade and hot in the sun.  Now that we’re actually having a summer this year, it turns out that I quite like English summers and much prefer them to the humid, swampy heat of Boston, where you would sweat through your clothes slowly walking to work and getting on the T was unbearable June through September. Anyway, all that to say that I finally bought myself a new pair of sandals!  These Chloé beauties I got for a song (does anyone say that anymore, got for a song?) at The Changing Room over the weekend.  I’m liking them very much. 11

Remember when I went to America in May?  No?  Oh, is that because I still haven’t posted any photos from the trip? Well, I went to America in May and visited my family.  During this visit, my mother gave me so. much. pottery.  She’s been taking classes and I guess the stuff just piles up, so she gave some to me.  I really love the shapes of her pieces and her earthy glazes, and I promise to dedicate a whole post to her work soon.  Until that day, enjoy this preview of a candle in one of her bowls.
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This is a close-up of the cover of Cereal Vol. 3.  I’ve written about how much I love Cereal before (here and here) but this third volume has blown me away again.  It really is one of the most beautiful magazines I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading and I savour each volume like Charlie savoured his yearly chocolate bar.  The insect photography in this volume is particularly amazing; I urge you to check it out. 13

You know, I really do have the nicest friends.  No matter where I am, I’m just really lucky to fall in with truly fantastic people.  For instance, on the 4th of July, I showed up to my networking breakfast with the Tunbridge Wells Business Network to find that there were American flags and red, white and blue party necklaces on all the tables.  I’m the only American in the group and they went out of their way to make me feel special.  Isn’t that the sweetest?  I still have the flags on my desk and they make me smile as they flutter in the breeze.  So, if you want to network with some great people, follow TWBN on twitter or get in touch and let us know.  We’d love to have you along!
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Speaking of local business owners, look at this guy, chilling in his Google glasses (not to be confused with Google Glass), getting a ton of work done.  Rad.
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As it was David’s birthday, he decided to treat himself to a midday shopping trip and I decided to help him.  16

And it was on this shopping excursion that a funny thing happened.  As david was trying on clothes in a dressing room, a gentleman walked past me, gave me a look, and then asked, “Lady Katherine?”  Now, because I’m not a real lady, this was quite shocking– for how did a stranger realise that I was, in fact, a lady of the highest made-up degree and should be addressed in public as such?  Turns out the gentleman was none other than Neil Chapman and recognised me from Twitter, where I’d posted a photo of my iconic red shoes.  Long story short, my shoes are famous in Tunbridge Wells.  Also, Neil is a super nice guy.  It’s so fun to make twitter friends real friends, too!
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Back in the office, I downloaded the new app Crowsflight by CW&T. I haven’t had a chance to play around with it too much yet, but it seems really cool.  As it turns out, Minneapolis is 4,035.45 miles from me, as the crow flies.  Cool! 18

Also at the office, Lucille now has a hat to wear to help her keep cool in the heat.  Don’t you think it suits her?
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And here he is, guys, the birthday boy.  I took him to Thackeray’s for dinner and it was excellent.  20

The service was excellent, the food was excellent, and we had an excellent time! But we always have an excellent time.  Well, almost always. 21

After dinner, we relocated to their terrace and had one of the best cheese plates I’ve ever had.  Seriously delicious.  I highly recommend.  22

And then the light went away and we were left in the dark.  We also, by this point, were joined by some friends to continue the celebration, which was lovely.  23

We laughed and drank and had a merry old time. 24

Until the point where I was like Okay, pack it up, time to go home!  Oh, no, wait.  That wasn’t me who said that, it was the barman at Sankey’s who kicked us out… so that’s why this post is going up so late: because I have a hangover from partying like a teenage last night though, as you can tell from my forehead wrinkles, that I am not a teenager anymore and these old bones need sleep.  Older and wiser?  Maybe one day…

(Edited to note that Liam Rogers, who you may remember from his Tuesday With Vous post, took the last picture of my scowling face.)

TWeet & Savoury

TweetAndSavoury+1Oh, dear reader, what a marvellous long weekend the past three days have been!  Full of watercolour painting and catching up on NPR’s Ted Radio Hour, dog walks with Millie (remember Millie?) and warm breezes that carried the scent of magnolia blossoms.  It was lovely.  Especially lovely on Saturday afternoon when David and I attended TWeet and Savoury, a Twitter-organised event that’s all about bringing people together and making food social.  Tucked away in a fab little garage turned foodie lair in the middle of town, a group of us gathered, armed with savoury treats,  bottles of wine, and decadent desserts.  I guess it was kind of like a potluck, only way more chic.  (I mean, there was bunting and homemade focaccia.  Très chic, non?)

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TweetAndSavoury+7It was a really terrific afternoon full of new flavours and new friends– like that beautiful tomcat above!– and trust when I say that these pictures are doing it no justice at all (between this event and the pizza party last week, I’m realising how difficult it is to snap pictures whilst balancing a plate of food in one hand and a glass of wine in the other).  No matter the quality of my artistic representation, I’m ever so grateful for everyone who organised the afternoon (thanks, guys!) and want to bear hug whoever got stuck doing the dishes (thanks, whoever you are!).  It was a totally awesome afternoon and I’m already looking forward to the next one!

Speaking of the next one, as Laura Goode says in her excellent post, you don’t need to be an expert chef to attend Tweet and Savoury.  If I can go and prepare food without accidentally poisoning anyone, you probably can too, so follow TWeet and Savoury on Twitter and look out for their next event.  In the meantime, you need to decide, are you sweet, or are you savoury?  It’s an important question.  Decide wisely.