Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: Looking Back and Letting Go

What a year it was.

The past 365 days gave me a good many opportunities to learn, grow and make mistakes. But I also experienced a few points of celebration that will keep me going and pushing for bigger wins in the year ahead. A few of the highlights.

  • I can run. I've never been regarded as an athlete, but 2012 ushered in the opportunity for me to complete three half-marathons. I only walked about half a mile in the first race and I consider that a real triumph for me. I've since lost my running habit but I intend on reviving it to take on new adventures in 2013.
  • I can love. This past year reminded me that I know how to love, but also the hard lesson that a relationship involves hard work by both parties. I discovered I have a generous heart and lots of passion, and those two traits aren't enough to make a relationship work. I'm counting on 2013 to bring on new chances for love and occasions when I can open up and be myself with someone I care about.
  • I have wonderful friends. There's a world of difference between knowing lots of people and having close relationships, and in 2012 I pulled back from "the scene" to work on the latter. From the Chinatown Bus to an invisible bat in my apartment, my friends have joined me for adventure and have offered limitless support. I've also learned some people are meant to be in our lives despite our best efforts to sever ties. I'm grateful 2012 returned to me one of my closest relationships.
  • I thrive when I work in a place that lets me do my thing. This past year brought with it the opportunity to work in a new environment with talented people tackling incredibly creative projects. I am so grateful for the chance to play with my words, to be a leader, and to grow the experiences on my CV. I can't wait to see what new professional experiences 2013 brings with it.
Looking forward, I know 2013 is going to be another great opportunity for growth. April brings with it a trip to Dubai and Bangkok; I thrive when I have the chance to experience some adventure, and trekking to the Middle East and Asia will stoke the fires of my passion and yearning for discovery.

May you find peace with the year behind you and look at every experience as an opportunity for growth and learning. And here's to hoping 2013 brings us all great peace and prosperity, happiness and bountiful love with family and friends.


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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Friday, December 21, 2012

$5 to $500 - The Best Gifts For The Lady On Your List

It's the thought that counts, really.

But when you get right down to it, the holidays can be a well intentioned horror flick full of stress, shopping mall road rage, and terror induced by Seasonal Affected Disorder.

SAD, indeed.

Rather than crunch the numbers and gnash your teeth over holiday gift giving, here's a great list of last minute items to pick up for girlfriends, sisters, spouses and "work wives."

$5 - A Boot of Beer and a Taco at Bakersfield

Sometimes the best gift you can give someone is the gift of your time. And a quality moment at Bakersfield is a perfect way to share that gift - especially when the gift involves beer and a delicious, freshly made taco. Bakersfield sells $2 glass boots of draft PBR and several of its tacos are $3 a piece. What better way to give a cost effective, quality gift? I dig it. 1200 block of Vine St. in Over-the-Rhine.

$10 - Keep Buzzin' Tangerine Hand Cream

Perhaps the best hand cream I've ever used, Keep Buzzin' is 100 percent natural and sustainable, and made in the good 'ol U. S. of A. You can get yours in a variety of scents including fresh lemon and lavender; I went crazy for the tangerine. I picked up mine for around $10 at Park + Vine at 1202 Main St.

$25 - ModelCo Fibre Lashxtend Lengthening Mascara

Some ladies forgo making an investment in their mascara, instead sticking with the much heralded, tried-and-true "Pink and Green" tube from the drug store. If your lady friend is one of those gals, surprise her with this phenomenal lash extender from ModelCo. The formula includes tiny fibers that attach themselves to the end of your lashes, giving you a longer, fuller look. I got a tube in my monthly Birchbox subscription a month ago and my eyes haven't been the same. Bonus: One length of the tube is covered with a mirror, giving you an easy vantage point for on-the-go touch ups. $24 at Birchbox.

$50 - Many Beautiful Things at Mannequin Boutique

Some of you may be lamenting a popular chorus this time of year: "She has everything! I just don't know what kind of gift to give the woman who has everything!" The answer is easy - vintage. Mannequin is a vintage resale shop that features a variety of gently used designer pieces and vintage goods. A quick perusal through the store and you'll see familiar labels like Chanel, Prada and Manolo Blahnik. But you'll also know many beautiful pieces that hearken back to another time when people enjoyed finer, well made things. In the $50 price range you can score a variety of items including darling, structured handbags from the 1940s or chunky, on-trend accessories straight from New York.

And the proceeds from every purchase go to seven local non-profits including Freestore Foodbank, Lighthouse Youth Services, Stop Aids, and UCAN Spay/Neuter Clinic. 1400 block of Vine St., OtR.

$100 - A Pair of Tickets to Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati

Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is a vibrant, creative enterprise that draws thousands of theatre fans to Over-the-Rhine every year. From productions ranging to the deep and powerful Good People, to the silly and trippy Alice in Wonderland, this venue is a delightful little theatre amidst the restaurants at 12th and Vine. You can score a pair of tickets to any show for $84 or less.

$250 - A Bottle of Bond No. 9

My favorite fragrance line came out with a new scent this fall - Manhattan - and it would make a perfect winter fragrance. Its top notes include hints of nutmeg and coriander, supported by wafts of chocolate and gingerbread. A musky scent, it's bold enough for winter and is sure to stand out from everybody else's flowery perfumes. $190 for 50 ml; $270 for 100 ml.

$500 - Elsa Peretti Open Bottle Pendant at Tiffany & Co.

Let's be honest. Any girl will squeal with giddy delight upon receiving a Tiffany box in Pantone 1837 (yes, Tiffany has its own Pantone color. But I digress). I've envied this design ever since I was a tween. Its graceful curves and practical applications are limitless. You could pour a bit of your signature fragrance in it, allowing the scent to warm as the flask rests upon your decolletage. You could also turn it into a sneaky, tethered shot glass - perfect for stealing a nip during a mind numbing meeting.

The chain is 28 inches long and the bottle is 45 mm by 35 mm. $495 at the Tiffany & Co. at 5th and Vine.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bacon + Booze

"Guess what I had last night."

"An Old Fashioned?"


"Some bacon?"

"Well, kind of both of those."

Metropole at the 21C Hotel is serving up a cocktail where two worlds collide:

Pig in the City

Metropole's bar manager says he infused Bulleit with bacon fat to give the beloved bourbon a smoky profile you'll notice at your first whiff. One of the tenders says he carried the first infused bottle into the bar like a baby.

No doubt it was precious cargo.

The cocktail is smoky and sweet all at once, punctuated with a bit of silky umami thanks to the rendered bacon fat.

Metropole's bar doesn't open its door until 5:30 p.m. on weekdays, but you're able to grab a seat in the plush, well appointed lounge and a cocktail server will fetch you a drink if you're a wee bit early.

If bacon isn't your thing, I highly suggest the Don & Dirty, a festive take on an Old Fashioned.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Sleep No More

Spend any time in the Big Apple and you will likely have a moment when you exclaim, "Only in New York."

A visit to the McKittrick Hotel will certainly prove to be one of those moments.

This old hotel in Chelsea was built by a wealthy family right before World War II. The war kept its doors shut, forcing the grand McKittrick to sit dormant for years.

Rich damask wallpaper, beautiful woodwork and velvet-upholstered furniture - the luxury hotel was locked up and  sentenced to a long, quiet slumber.

Enter Sleep No More.

More than 70 years after its near-opening, the McKittrick is alive and well with a live, choose-your-own-adventure theatrical experience by London's Punchdrunk, an immersive theatre concept.

Guests are asked to check their coats and handbags upon entering the hotel. The coat check attendant gives you a playing card (ours were the Ace of Hearts) and you're ushered into a bluesy, speakeasy type space with two cash bars. The staff is decked out in period wear - flapper-era costumes, timeless tuxedos.

We ordered a couple champagne cocktails and surveyed the dimly lit scene. Every guest was given a white mask - it fitted our faces around the eyes but jutted out in front of the mouth like a beak.

It was weird.

The "Ace of Hearts" group was taken to an elevator where a gentleman served as host, giving a cursory explainer about the hotel. He told us to keep our eyes open, follow things that interested us, and explore to our hearts' content.

(Side note: guests aren't allowed to talk to each other or touch the performers. This former point was a bit of a challenge when trying to stay together.)

The entire evening presented wildly dramatic scenes transpiring on several floors. Provocative, threatening, seductive - the silent Shakespearian drama included a cast of characters who floated amidst all of the hotel's levels.

And the rest of us followed - or chased - the action wearing our creepy, white masks.

During the three-hour production, guests are able to take a break and return to the speakeasy lounge to enjoy cash bar cocktails and hot jazz. Several unassuming, black masked guides can point you in the right direction if you can't find your way.

The scenes repeat themselves over time, giving you the chance to follow one actor the first time, and the other during a repeat execution. There's always a subtle nuance to catch or another interaction to witness.

Tickets are around $100 per person and completely worth it. The evening has several "seatings" - our late night show allowed people in as early as 11 pm and concluded at 2 am. If you go, I suggest an earlier time to allow you to catch as much action as possible.

And if you get invited on a private, solo adventure, do not hesitate - it alone is worth the price of admission.

For more information: Sleep No More and ticketing.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Saturday, December 01, 2012


What's in a number, anyway?

A lot, actually.

36 is the atomic number for krypton, so that must mean 36 is as strong as balls. Or repellent for Clark Kent.

It's also the ASCII code for the "$" symbol. I'm hoping that means 36 is rich - in wealth, experience, and value.

There are 36 inches in a yard, and when you roll a pair of dice, you can expect one of 36 different outcomes, including "Snake Eyes."

36 is a powerful number where religion is concerned. In the Jewish faith, God's light shone for 36 hours on the first day of creation. The Torah has 36 references of loving, respecting and protecting strangers. And the modern day celebration of Hanukkah involves burning 36 candles in the menorah over the holiday's eight-day period.

Symbolism all over the place with that one.

And for all of us academics, 36 is a perfect score on the ACT.

Who knows what this new year holds, but I'm hoping for a little bit of wealth, a lot of luck, new love with strangers and plenty of growth - academic or otherwise.

And, heck. I'd be happy with Clark Kent, too.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.