Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oysters & Olympics

David and I treated ourselves to some oysters whilst in London recently.  They were harvested in the north and were surprisingly creamy, like poached eggs with warm, runny yolks.  They tasted like calm salty pools and made my heart ache for New England, for the beaches and humidity and the sounds of the ocean.  We drank a bottle of crisp white wine and then left to meet a friend.


The Olympics are in full-swing and I feel incredibly fortunate to be in (and near) London in the midst of the games!  I'm thankful the BBC doesn't break for commercials (sorry everyone in the States...) and love how thorough the coverage is.  The Olympics have always inspired great emotion within me and I'm constantly weeping with happiness at the sportsmanship and pride of the athletes.  They have accomplished truly great feats and I'm so inspired by their dedication and hard work.  And here I go getting teary again.... it's just so beautiful! That being said, the Opening Ceremony was not beautiful, except at the very end when the fireworks went off and a group of us ran up my friend's fire escape to watch the stadium alight on the other side of the city.  The sky flashed with light and for a moment we felt like we were at the center of the Universe.  That moment was beautiful, very beautiful indeed.

What's been your favorite part of the Olympics this year?  I'm hopelessly addicted to badminton...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Professional Impatience

Just two photos I took recently and quite like.  They feel calm and comfortable to me.


My plate is pretty full with work this week.  I'm in the middle of a campaign that's going well (yeyeyey!) and am in the middle of a massive re-branding that has my to-do list constantly growing.  All of this is good.  Good good good!  But sometimes, working over here, alone, I feel really isolated.  I miss being able to pick up the phone to bounce ideas off my clients, look them in the eye, and follow-up in person about how things are going.  I'm a major people person and I thrive off human interaction.  Sadly, Skype doesn't always cut it. 

As I become more settled in this country, I'm looking forward to growing my business and picking up some new, local, clients.  I can't wait to get my hands dirty, to have brainstorm meetings over coffee (or wine), and to physically see how my work is, well, working.  Right now things are good, but I can't wait for them to be superamazingawesome!  I guess I have a classic case of professional impatience, but I'm just so excited about so much it's difficult not to.  You know?  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tuesday with Moi

Tuesday, July 24

Yesterday was a rather bizarre day.  I had big plans to run errands in the sunshine but I woke up with the beginning of a migraine so I simply worked from home all day.  Here I am in bed with my laptop, catching up on everything that happened in America whilst I was asleep. 

The day before, I bought some sunflowers.  They make me feel cheerful.
David and I are soon going to hang some photos above our couch.  I was preparing the configuration. 
One day (soon, I hope) I will have a desk again and won't have to work on the coffee table & couch all the damn time.  Until then, here's my work space.
Caught Le Chat in a precious moment. 
My head was hurting a lot a lot a lot so I worked with my glasses on.
As per usual, I felt very fatigued in the afternoon and decided to combat my exhaustion with a walk.  Yesterday was so beautiful and sunny!
Unfortunately, I came home from my walk feeling drained of all energy so I took some Advil and a two-hour nap.  When I woke up, David was cooking a chicken for dinner.
Back to work.
Another scene from my desk/coffee table.
Maybe when I get myself a desk, I'll buy a bookshelf, too... 
Cuddling on the couch with David.  I love that he always wears colorful socks.
My headache seemed to have subsided, so David and I took a stroll to our neighborhood pub for a glass of wine and a chance to sit on real chairs (we do not own real chairs, just a stool and couches right now, which makes our bums very sad).  We passed this cute antique store on our way.  I like their little window. 
We finished our beverages, came straight home and promptly went to sleep.

And that, my friends, was my semi-sickly Tuesday.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rooftop Romps

I caught some sun on The Madison's rooftop early Sunday evening with my favourite gent and lady.  The view of the river and of St. Paul's Cathedral was stunning and solidified the fact that one day I want to live up high, one day I want a view. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gin & Tonic Time

It finally feels like summer.  Real summer.  Like, sweat-dripping-down-your-back-as-you-carry-groceries-home summer.  Afraid-of-public-transportation-because-people-will-smell-bad summer. OMG-I-WANT-TO-STRIP-DOWN-TO-MY-UNDERWEAR-RIGHT-NOW summer.  And you guys, it is glorious!

David and I woke up to a joyously warm morning and went for a two-hour hike through Hobbit Country.  I've said it once and I will say it a bijillion times more: I love the English countryside.  I don't want to live in the English countryside, but I have a profound appreciation for its beauty and greatly enjoy voyaging through it on occasion.  The wooded footpath we wandered along smelled green and earthy and, except for the terrible moment in which David sank into a mud pit (seriously), we had a really wonderful time.

I returned home from our walk feeling energized and strong and with the most intense craving for a gin and tonic.  Lo and behold, my neighborhood liquor store doesn't carry any of my trusted gin brands, so I'm experimenting with Martin Miller's Gin, which is made in England but distilled using 100% Icelandic water.  It's smooth and refreshing in my G&T, but the verdict is still out on how much I love it until I use it in a couple other gin cocktails.  Don't worry, I'll report back when the time is right.

Off now to get some work done.  Working on American time from the UK is sometimes a bummer, but usually wonderful.  It gives me the flexibility of getting things done during the day- and enjoying the sunshine- and then relaxing as I work in the evening, which I love.  I hope your day is half as beautiful (and sunny!) as mine!  Xox

p.s. After putting it off for a long time (it didn't want the book to end!), I finished Papa Hemingway.  Reading about the last year of his life was really difficult.  Of course everyone knows Hemingway shot himself, but what many people don't know is that Hemingway had a disease  called Hemochromatosis which made him psychologically imbalanced and paranoid.  He was treated twice at the Mayo Clinic, where he was given shock therapy (eek!) which made him feel as if he was being robbed of his memory and, incidentally, his craft.  At the end of the book, Hemingway is quoted saying, "Hotch, if I can't exist on my own terms, then existence is impossible.  Do you understand?  That is how I've lived, and that is how I must live   or not live."

Hemingway's father, brother and sister all committed suicide, too and are believed to have also suffered from the same disease.  So, that's sad...  :(

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Little Shop

This shop is nestled in a neighborhood street a few blocks from our house.  I passed it on my afternoon walk the other day and was charmed by the green trim and the typeface.  Who would've thought there'd be a glass supply shop right here? I thought to myself as I snapped this photo and continued my stroll.  I wondered about the owner and how the shop got its start.  I wanted to know their story, so I Googled it...

Cyril Knapp, the owner of Glass Supplies was, and I quote from the website, "so dedicated to Glass Supplies that he continued working until the age of 95."  (Swoon!)  The company, which is now run by his son, differentiates themselves by saying, "We are dedicated to providing quality glass products at competitive prices with excellent customer service. After all, the glass we sell is no different to other businesses, it's the service that we endeavour to provide that counts."  They offer "Good Old Fashioned Service" and they make my heart melt.  (Okay, but really the glass isn't exactly the same because they do custom-made stained glass and stuff, too.  Cool!)

Now, there are two things I want to say about this little company, and small/entrepreneurial businesses in general:

1. Good customer service, a dedicated staff, and a smile will do wonders for any small business.  When it comes to building relationships with clients, educating your consumers, and negotiating with suppliers, honesty, helpfulness and a firm handshake still go a long way.  Of course, there are still people in the world who value a good deal more than they value a good experience, which is why small businesses need to be clever about how they're differentiating themselves in their market and how they're communicating with their customers.  There are more people in this world who care about quality than most of us realize, businesses just need to find a unique way to communicate their quality and reach these consumers.  Having a well-defined and welcoming voice is a great way to start...

2.  How wonderful is it that Cyril Knapp worked until he was 95?  If you know anything about me (other than my love for Gwen Stefani), know this: I do not believe in retirement.  Wouldn't you rather fully live your life the whole way through with a healthy combination of work and fun-time than work your ass off and wake up at 65 wondering how you got there?  I think work makes us young, keeps us healthy and allows us to focus on the future rather than counting our ever-dwindling number of elderly friends.  Working gives us purpose and place and I have great respect for people like Cyril Knapp who are dedicated to their work their whole life through.  I hope I'm still contributing to projects and working when I'm 95, too! 

Because Glass Supplies has such a sweet and honest approach to communication, I will definitely use them if I ever need something they offer.  They've won me over and I'm not even a consumer, yet... 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How We Got Here

Or, Evil Stepmothers Need Big Dreams & Handsome Princes, Too...   Welcome to this week's installment of the E.S.M. Chronicles!

David and I were talking the other day about ambition and the motives that drive us to achieve the things we dream about.  Growing up, David didn't have much.  He had happiness and a great family, but after his father died and they moved back to the UK from Africa, things were tough.  David got into an art school for college but providing for his family was more important to him than pursuing art so he got work instead and he worked hard.  His retail jobs soon turned into management positions, which led him to corporate jobs which later brought him to America, to me.  He told me that he always wanted a nice car, a nice home, and the ability to provide for his family.  Those were the things that drove him, and those are things he achieved. 

When David and I fell in love, I shared a secret with him.  I told him that I'd always wanted to struggle with my partner in our early days so we'd appreciate the good times so much more when our hard work paid off.  I wanted to build a life with my partner based on shared ideals and passions.  At the time of this confession, David had a good job and there was no reason to make us think he'd ever have to struggle again.

Two years later, David lost his job and was abandoned in America.  We were shocked by how abruptly he was let go and the way in which the company washed their hands and walked away, leaving us nothing.  David was angry, of course, and together we experienced a spectrum of emotions that ranged from total desperation to bravery and optimism.  One day he said to me, "This is your fault.  You wanted to struggle, well here you go, we're struggling."  He smiled at me when he said it, because this struggle is a beautiful thing.  He smiled at me because I taught him how to dream again and we're working hard toward building a life that will allow us to be strong on our own. 

Shortly after losing his job, David told me he wanted to move back to the UK to be near his sons.  We were sharing a pizza and a bottle of wine at a restaurant in Davis Square and I took my time chewing, waiting to hear what he had to say.  "I want you to come with me, but we'll have to get married," he said.

I nodded, "I'll go anywhere you need me to."  

We continued our meal and a few minutes later he put down his fork and knife, looked me straight in the eye and asked, "Was that a yes?"

"Was that a proposal?"

"I haven't got a ring but will you marry me, Kate?"  That's when I started crying, like crying, and said yes. 

And now we're here and we're starting all over again.  We have dreams, so many dreams.  Dreams of a simple life filled with laughter, love and long talks with dear friends.  Dreams of traveling the world and quiet mornings when we can sit together in contented silence.  Dreams of white-washed floors and of getting our hands dirty.  And those dreams will all come true just as David's dream of having a nice car and a nice home came true, just as my dream of sharing a struggle came true.  And there is no one I'd rather share this struggle and these dreams with than David. 

Both of us are working diligently on many things that have us very excited, but these things take time.  We came over here with a plan, but we've had to amend that plan.  I underestimated how long it would take me to feel organized, to feel like this was my home and that I wasn't intruding on David's family and happiness.  David didn't realize he'd feel like a soldier returning from years away at war to an estranged family, and he's had to battle through it.   It's a work in progress but that's the beauty of life.  As our work yields results, I'll be here to share them with you.  As always, thanks for reading.

The illustration at the top is the one I made for our wedding invites, however the graphics are different.  xox 
EDIT: David tells his version of how it happened in the comments....  Oy vey! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tuesday with Moi

Tuesday, July 17

 Got out of bed laaate.  I have a good excuse, promise.
(No, I actually don't,  That's a lie.)
These are the shoes I wore out for David's birthday the night before (also the shoes I wore for my wedding).  Naturally they were in the middle of the floor yesterday morning, right where I'd kicked them off.  Whenever I take my shoes off, it looks like a murder scene.  They're always wonkily abandoned and I just know that one day someone will see them and start searching nearby dumpsters for a body.
Instead they'll just find me.  Alive, hopefully...

Remember when I said I was working on a top-secret new project?  Remember when I said I was going to write a book?  Well, secret's out and I'm writing (and illustrating) that book.  Yesterday was a work day. 

Looking for that one photo I needed for my project.  Could not find it.  Of course.

I kid, I kid, kid.
But I'd just gotten out of the shower and my photo alarm went off and then this picture happened.
I'm like a more demure (& less talented) Lena Dunham.  :/

This is David's clock.  It's from an old train station in Cambridge.  We do not wind the clock, so that was not the actual time.  It hangs above our kitchen sink. 

Every day at 15:00 I either need to get out of the house or take a nap.  
I don't like napping and on my walk yesterday I found this mini apple tree.
Mini things are soooo cuuuuute!

Back at home, sketching and story-boarding.
This drawing perfectly illustrates how I feel about this English summer.

Annnnd, more.

 Had just finished a sketch of Big Ben and was waiting for my computer to ring for my Skype date with Vandie, who is adorbs to the extreme.  Always so punctual, she called approximately thirty second later.  It was so good to see her sweet face and hear her sweet voice!

I don't eat dessert very often, but I couldn't let David have the pleasure of polishing off the Half Baked all on his own...  I poured cold coffee over mine and it was yumstrordinary! 
(Yumstrordinary is a real word, by the way.)
(No, no it's not.  Don't listen to me.  Ever.)
And yes, that is Little Spoon, which is a spoon I've been eating with since infancy.  I've moved it all over the world with me and I still lovelovelove it. When David uses it for something simple like stirring his coffee it outrages me.  He does not understand that Little Spoon is a special spoon for special things, but I guess most people don't have strong feelings toward spoons and can't relate...

The light was dying but my mint plant is thriving!
I need to re-pot it because it's growing like a monster and needs water constantly.

I stole some lavender on my walk and I kept it next to me to make my life more fragrant as I worked.
I love lavender. 

And then, dear reader, I am appalled to admit that I spent the entire rest of the night watching 24.
David's forcing me to watch it with him and as much as I'm constantly rolling my eyes and pleading with him to turn it off, I just. can't. stop. watching.
I hate it.
But I love it.
But really, I hate it.
 I also hate Keifer Southerland's blonde hair.  It's fakeyfakeyfakey and I just can't stand for that.
His voice bothers me a little bit, too.
A lot a bit, actually.


To balance the fact that I wasted precious hours watching 24, I enhanced my life by watching the video for No Doubt's 'Settle Down' and it was ahhhmazing!  If you only know one thing about me, know this: I love Gwen Stefani.  She's the perfect combination of ladylike & tomboy badass.  And did you know that she's 42 years-old?!  When she said "I'm just a girl & that's all that I'll ever be", bitch meant it because she looks just as youthful and fabulous as ever.  Not that 42 is old, it's just that Stefani seems to have accomplished agelessness and she's rockin' around as mightily as ever. In fact, the entire band looks great and I'm stoked they have a new album coming out. 
I hope I'm one fourth as hot as Gwen at 42.  Or ever.  Also, I want/need/have-got-to-have her pants in the 'Settle Down' video.  For realz, they are amazing.

Anyway, thanks for taking a peek at my super mundane Tuesday.  And HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BEAUTIFUL MOTHER today.  If you know her, give her a call and tell her how special she is! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

London Libations

I'm thrilled to report that I've finally settled on a favourite* bar in London- The Booking Office at St. Pancras (their website is horrible, FYI).  Of course this is subject to change, but for right now the place is in my good graces because it offers the rare combination of good (and relatively fast) service, a robust cocktail and spirit menu, quality nibbles, and a pretty kickass ambiance.  Granted, everyone there is either staying at the adjoining hotel, on a date, or is throwing one back before hopping on a train, but regardless I think it's a pretty quality place to camp out for a couple hours over a cocktail and good conversation.

Pictured on the left is a delicious-to-the-max whiskey sour with Buffalo Trace Bourbon (they don't have any rye on the menu, rye whiskey is as rare as unicorns in this country!) and egg white.  I wish I'd taken the straw out for the photo opp... The drink on the left is a white tequila, grapefruit, Creme de Peche, and lemon concoction with a rock-salt garnish that made me happier than a newborn fawn with a salt-lick.   Yumz to the extreme! 

*Did you see how I snuck that 'u' in there!  I am soooooo British now!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekend Walk

My wonderful friend Greg was in town for a fast and furious 24 hours on Friday and I spent the day strolling the city and dodging rain showers with him and the Redcoat.  The photos above were all taken in Chelsea.  I have a major soft spot for the vine-covered home in the top photo on the left.  I bet the people who live there are really lovely.  They probably have a library stocked with first edition hardcovers and collect art from around the world.  She probably has the elegance and composure of Maryl Streep and he still wears tweed waistcoats and gets his hair cut by a proper barber.  They probably laugh a lot and always have someone staying in the guest bedroom.  They are probably fabulous! 

Speaking of fabulous, today is David's birthday!  He's being all grumpy and quiet about it, but I'll force some tequila down his throat and do what I can to cheer him up.  I'm a lucky lady to have such an upstanding gentleman as a husband and I think he's worthy of celebration every day.  LET THE PARTY BEGIN!  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Survival Friends

I took an noontime train to London yesterday to visit my dear friend Jeff who happens to be visiting the city for a few days (he's blowin' it up in NYC, mind you, so keep an eye out for his awesome work).  We had a gloriously gluttonous day in the city, starting with lunch at Dishoom and ending with drinks and dinner at Wahaca (aka Yumzville!).  As the clock was nearing midnight (okay, really it was 10:35), I raced to the train station to board my chariot home only to find that every single train was cancelled (insert panic-face here).  Supposedly, as I was busy wining and dining, there had been a torrential downpour that flooded railway lines to my Hobbit Town, Tunbridge Wells.  The loudspeaker (aka quietspeaker) cackled to life and someone mumbled something into it that left people groaning.  My sleepy heart sank.  What is a lady to do?!

The answer is this: Find someone who is going to the same destination and follow them.  In a moment of desperation, I put on my best American accent and asked if anyone was going in my direction and then latched onto two panicky old ladies who were pushy and panicked enough to get answers out of the one* National Rail employee on staff, who told us to jump on the next train to London Bridge where we'd be bussed, shipped, helicoptered and submarined home at some point**.  I looked at my old lady companions and said, "Girls, I'm with you."

On the train to London Bridge we took inventory- whose phone still had enough battery power to last through the night, where each of us were going, etc.  When I announced my final destination, a girl who'd been quietly lurking behind me looked up from her phone and said, "I'm following you***." 

And this, my friends, is how we will come to survive the zombie apocalypse.  I've always been skeptical of movies about the end of the world in which a group of strangers join together against all odds in the name of survival.  Together they run through abandoned subway tunnels, sleep in deserted homes (where one of them inevitably does something stupid like light a candle or put on a record which draws all the zombies to them within seconds, as if zombies are actually observant... whatever), and contemplate the v. important question of, if we were the only two people left to repopulate the entire world, could we find it in ourselves to procreate?  People in these movies are always attractive with straight, white teeth and the ability to run for miles to evade danger, and the answer is always yes.  Yes, they will fall in love in that gross urban hideout and they will build a better world together.  (Assuming they kill (rekill?) all the zombies, of course.)

Last night, I learned these same partnerships also happen in real life when a group of people are faced with imminent doom.  Whilst helplessly staring at the monitors at London Bridge, BECAUSE THERE WAS NOBODY THERE TO HELP US!, my new friend and I developed a tall, sandwich-eating shadow and before I knew it our small two-some had turned into three.  As we hopped from train to parking lot, to train, to bus, to home, the three of us had swapped stories, shared complaints, and talked a lot about the Olympics.  We had become survival friends!   At 1:30 the bus stopped across the street from my house and, in a moment of panic, I shot out of my seat, quickly waved goodbye, and RAN my ass home to take a shower and snuggle in bed with the Redcoat.  There's nothing like a natural disaster to make you appreciate a clean towel, a soft mattress, and the arms of someone you love wrapped tightly around you.  Even if it is a super minor natural disaster that was actually more fun than cumbersome and made you feel like a navigation pro for making it home in the end. 

Zanna and Jaime, if you're reading this, it was an absolute pleasure to share the worst commute ever with you!  Perhaps we'll run into each other in town one day, or maybe we won't.  I'm sorry I made you play the What are you thankful for? game (my optimism never dies!) and I'm sorry you both had to wake up earlier than I did this morning.  :(

*UNO, EIN, ICHI, people, ONE!  Where did this country learn their customer service?!
**He didn't really say that, but, like, basically he did.  It was the most convoluted action plan I've ever heard of but it sure as hell beat the possibility of having to crash on someone's couch with unbrushed teeth and feet that smell like water-logged leather.  Ewz!
***Uh, gooooooood luuuuuucccck! (Note, when you're stranded somewhere, it's generally not the best idea to find the sole foreigner in the group and decide to follow them.  Like, I can be really assertive in moments of crisis but I. do. not. know. where. I. am. going!  Even when there isn't a crisis, this is true.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tuesday w/Moi

Tuesday, July 10th

This is my favorite mug ever.  I think it's important to have a favorite mug.  
It makes morning a little more bearable.

Literally running out the door.  David and I had to sign some papers at a boring government office.  It was very official and very depressing.

I cheated, it was really 11:09 when I took this picture, but I was detained in the aforementioned depressing government office at 11:00 and had to wait to bust outta there before taking this picture.

Fetal position on the couch in my Alexander Wang sweatpants writing yesterday's post.  I'm still beating myself up about that post... I don't know how to say the things I feel in the right way, but I'm afraid if I wait, I'll never find the right way to say them and they'll never actually be said.  
And I want to say them.  Need to say them.  You know?
I read this by James Franco on Huffington Post yesterday about his take on the first season of HBO's Girls as well as the London production of Gatz.  He wrote,  I think the show and Lena Dunham have done something right by writing about what they know and not worrying about it being perfect.  I think this is very true and good advice.  If we wait for things to be perfect, we will live in a constant state of ennui and idleness.  Sometimes it's brave to say things that aren't perfect as long as you're telling the truth.  Also, things will never be perfect, so why wait?

I tried to draw Le Chat but accidentally drew my spirit animal, a fox, instead.
Hi Little Fox! 
True story: Little Fox was the name of my first and only imaginary friend.  He was, as the name suggests, a little tiny fox who followed me everywhere and was my best friend.  

Lunch.  Cheese sandwich with butter and tomato.  I kinda love but kinda hate how the Brits butter everything, but mostly I think I love it.  Yumz!

Our walls are painted, OUR WALLS ARE PAINTED!  I'm obsessed with the color (Skimming Stone by Farrow & Ball) and I'm so pleased the curtains actually match something now! 

Yesterday was laundry day for our light colored clothes.

Took a walk (to buy some wine) and passed St. John's as the clock struck 5:00.  I think I'll go to a service on Sunday.  I think it's time I go back to church.

My mom mailed me that pressed flower.  Isn't she sweet? 

Creating things.... Next week is BIRTHDAY WEEK and I have so many cards to make!  
These watercolo(u)r postcards are my favorite thing right now. I need to remember to buy more when I'm by Cass tomorrow...

Okay, so this was supposed to be my mom's birthday card for next week (don't worry, Mom, you'll get something else instead) but I ruined it! with this crappy color scheme and terrible glitter application!  I also got superglue all over my left hand and had a panic attack because I couldn't get it off.  EEK! Anyway, happy early birthday, Mother!  Start celebrating RIGHT NOW!

Freshly polished shoes.  Mine can fit inside David's.  His feet are soooo big!

Let's skip 22:00 because I was on a Skype call with my BFF, Brent, and I think he'd kill me if I posted the photo I took of us talking.  SO, here I am at 11:00.  In bed, with a candle beside me, and talking to my wonderful older brother who always helps to put things in perspective for me.  Two great Skype calls in a row, what a lucky lady I am!  

So that was my Tuesday.  Thanks for reading!