Friday Links

“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
― Alan W. Watts

Another busy week and I literally worked myself sick (again) and lost my voice as of this morning. But on the whole I’m pleased with how my projects are moving along, freelance is becoming much more manageable, and the weather is gorgeous. There’s nothing to complain about! Here are your links, tell me what you’re up to this weekend.

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“Hashbrown, no filter.” And if you’re not watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, get educated!

Wonderful prehistoric artwork.

Food for thought. Since I stopped following most of the parts of the internet related to mormonism (affectionately referred to as the Bloggernacle), it’s been interesting to see how things that pop up in my Facebook feed, for instance, have changed. Our world is built on algorithms and information is no different. When I was immersed in one community and its conflicts, it’s news and conversations and events was practically all I saw. When I stepped away, it was eye opening to see how comparatively small that amount of information had been. And it was even more interesting to see how the algorithms of information created echo chambers. In spite of the torrential flow of data out there, unprecedented in human history, I think media has allowed us to isolate ourselves pretty easily with those with whom we already tend to agree.

Dandies forever!

Well, that’s just…horrible

I ask my eternal question when things like this happen, how did you lose this stuff?!

Development is an complicated industry.

Let’s do it, Jeff!

Synesthesia is such an interesting thing, and this artwork stemming from it is downright gorgeous.

Why not?

Nerdy things to look forward to!

Two Words: Customer Loyalty

“Buy what you don’t have yet, or what you really want, which can be mixed with what you already own. Buy only because something excites you, not just for the simple act of shopping.”
― Karl Lagerfeld

Our Easter weekend meanderings was a fascinating example of the best of shop culture that I’ve found in Britain and not found anywhere else. America might be run by consumer culture, but I’ve never lived anywhere that does shops like I’ve found here. On the other hand, I shouldn’t be surprised, Britain has been built on shopkeepers and mercantilism for centuries. But in an age of brand shopping, fast fashion, ready made everything, and general convenience being king, it’s kind of great to see how personal business can be.

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Our first stop of the day was Alexeeva and Jones, to pick up some Easter chocolate. We got to chatting with the woman assisting us, and it turns out that she was one of the founders! I expressed how much I enjoy the fun and unusual chocolates they carry and she immediately asked if I was a repeat customer, and had I been given a discount? Yes, and no respectively. She immediately whipped out her business card and wrote us a personal 10% coupon, no expiry date.

Feeling pretty pleased, we headed up to 282 Portobello Road. I have been on the hunt for a tweed jacket for months and to be frank, most off the rack stuff doesn’t fit me. I’m a petite woman with a short waist, and a definite hourglass figure, but broad ribs. It’s a tricky business finding me any clothing that fits correctly–believe in tailoring, kittens–and I’ve not had a lot of luck with jackets in general.

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As far as I’m concerned, if you’re looking for vintage clothing that focuses on classic British houses, cuts, and tailoring, Claudia is the woman you need to see. I’ve written of my unabashed enthusiasm for her before, but life and work have been so busy for months now and I haven’t had the time to visit old favorite haunts. Well, after months of looking in all the wrong places, I walked into 282, and found a 1950s jacket almost immediately that looked like it was cut to my exact frame. The sleeve length, the lapels, the fit…it’s perfect. As she was ringing us up, Claudia glanced over at us and declared, “You guys have been here before.” We had, but as a mentioned, it hadn’t been in months. I said as much but she just beamed, “I love it when people come back and find something they love.” And she gave me an instant price reduction.

Finally, on Sunday we went to Spitalfields to get a “scotch egg brownie” from Flavourtown Bakery–maker of the finest cupcakes in the city, as determined by SDS Industries. We hang out at Spitalfields regularly on the weekends and have been buying treats from Flavourtown for months. The owner recognizes us, knows our favorites, and makes recommendations. That day was no different except that we had a long chat about how they’ve started supplying two of the most famous department store foodhalls in the city, how one of their lead team members had to leave due to family reasons, and the general ups and downs they’ve experienced. In the end, we bought a box of cupcakes (along with some helpful tips on how best to freeze them so as not to glut ourselves on sugar), and got the last “secret” flavor of the week cupcake thrown in. Pro tip, like them on Facebook, fans get extra treats.

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In rapid succession, I saw how personal relationships build business. As someone who has (believe it or not, based on this post) tried to cut down on a lot of unneeded consumerism in her life, it was an insightful weekend. A woman learned I valued her product and immediately provided me a way to enjoy it more, benefiting us both. Another woman recognized me as a repeat customer who expresses enthusiasm for what she’s enthusiastic about, and helped me get something I’ve wanted for months for just a little bit less. I know I’ll be back to buy from her again, and it has nothing to do with the discount. And finally, a guy who probably enables my sweet tooth too much, and who has countless of customers across multiple markets and shops, takes time to recognize his regulars and engage with them genuinely. As a result, we make it a point to keep coming back to say hi and see how he’s doing. We inevitably come away with a treat.

It’s not just these guys either! Now that the weather is warming up, I’m shopping at markets again and I get recognized by produce stand owners, cheesemongers, and breadmakers. I’ve asked shopkeepers for advice from cloth to cuts of meat and gotten minor educations. I don’t know if it’s the tradition, the relative small size of the country, or just something in the culture, but the British do shops far better than anywhere I’ve lived, and they seem to do a better job about sustaining them as well. It is possible to build a business out of something someone is desperately passionate about here in a way I’ve not found in a lot of other places. I hope I never have to give them up.

Easter Weekend Brunching

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”
― A.A. Milne

A four day weekend meant that we got to get out and spend some time exploring the city with reduced crowds, since a surprising amount of the population heads elsewhere on holiday. The weather is just starting to turn to spring and daylight savings time kicked in so the light lasts long enough to get your vitamin D back on track after months of deprivation. We needed to get out, we needed to do something nice. In short, we needed brunch.

We headed to Grainger & Co. in Notting Hill, a place I’ve wanted to try for ages due to it’s reputation for Ricotta Hotcakes. Because, obviously!

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There are no reservations at this location, and there is normally a huge wait, but thanks to the holiday, we were seated in about 20 minutes. I’ve seen some tourists completely lose their cool over a wait time like that, but for plenty of Londoners that’s a breeze! You spend time talking, you gauge the menu, you chat with the people in line, you charm the staff so they provide you regular updates, you enjoy yourself. We’ve slowed our eating time since moving abroad, and it’s been much for the better.

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I geeked out irrationally over the hot chocolate, made with actual chocolate and milk that you mix together for yourself and sweeten (or not) as you see fit. The last time I had a pot made thus I was in Brussels, so it was a welcome treat to put together.

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A major joy of a long weekend is lack of makeup (minus lipstick of course) and headband you pretend are “workout chic” fashionable.

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Ricotta hotcakes, kids. Don’t just walk, run.

Pancakes as we think of them have only recently started worming their way into Britain. What they think of as pancakes is far closer to crepes in the American view, so occasionally I get a craving that typically cannot be fulfilled without substantial effort on my part (since I’ve only found buttermilk sold in a single store in hilariously small quantities). It’s bothersome, but it gives me a chance to explore when something like this comes along. These hotcakes are fluffy and light but still manage to have a slightly dense and pleasantly chewy aspect to them due to the ricotta. They are incredibly filling, topped with honeycomb butter, and sing when topped with maple syrup (also not terribly find-able in London).

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Jeff went for the “Full Aussie” breakfast which, according to Jeff, is an improvement on the Full English. Either way, I can attest that the sourdough toast is amazing and I have no idea how they get their eggs looking like that but it tastes pretty darn good.

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After brunch we decided to wander Hyde Park a bit and even though some of the trees were still a bit bare…

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Others were over winter.

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But the real highlight was seeing what was in the trees! Several years ago some parakeets escaped captivity and took up residence. Today, they can be found in all the major London parks! I’m sure there’s a valid conversation to be had about invasive species, but I can’t help be be delighted to have finally glimpsed these jewel toned birds finally.

 

Saturday Links

“If you’ve done 6 impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe?”
― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

A day late but hopefully not a dollar/pound short. My week consisted of a series of increasingly difficult tasks that at one point veered far out of realm of probability before I managed to drag them back. And I was not alone, the whole of the office team was well and truly snowed under and tempers were high, eyes suspiciously bright, and everyone was ready to burst. In short, a weekend was needed. Desperately. Here are your links and tell me what you’re getting up to!

At least London has decided it's spring!

At least London has decided it’s spring!

On my never ending quest to build a work wardrobe that is functional, easy to wear, well edited, and doesn’t break the bank…I’ve thought about this question more than once.

Give the woman a standing slow clap.

I’m a fan of the declutter and “less is more” movement, but this piece had me rolling with laughter. Let’s face it, we all know someone who takes it stuff like this too far. Heck, Gwenyth Paltrow has built a brand on it!

Lovely.

I want to go to all of there.

What a find!

I shan’t trouble you with the story of how this came into my presence, but I thought all and sundry needed to know it existed.

A long history of courtesan culture in Japan featuring beautiful kimonos, the male gaze, the rise of the shogunate, and more.

Childhood restored!

If you build it…someone somewhere will want to keep on building it.

Sometimes I don’t think we comprehend how incomprehensible it was, not that long ago, that practically everyone in the developed world (and a surprising number of the undeveloped world) would have personal phones. That we carry around with us. In our pockets.

Bring these back, I want to brunch in one of them.

Friday Links (A Good, Good Friday Edition)

“Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
― Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

It’s Friday, and a long bank holiday weekend so I’m on vacation. Adios, kids!

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Because I am still fascinated by the whole arc of this story.

And while we’re on the subject of British royalty, a number of succession laws have been updated including the sexist ones.

My inner Grumpy Cat says good. My inner Grumpy Cat, as it happens, hates soda.

Tom and Lorenzo have a podcast now! Get thee to an iTunes subscription!

Speaking of, since she’s the first guest on the aforementioned podcast and since there’s a lot of hoopla about the winding down of Mad Men, here’s an interview with costume designer Janie Bryant.

Weird and wonderful photos of animals in utero.

It’s been a while since we’ve had vintage photos with colour on the blog, let’s amend that!

I have very little patience for people who bang on about how much more horrible things are these days than [insert time period here]. Sure, we’ve definitely got some issues as a species, but as a collective, we’re doing demonstrably better than we ever have.

Any post that begins by quoting Euripides has my heart.

In this week’s lady news… (h/t Jeff who keeps an eye on all things sports in the SDS household)