It takes a village to make a website. This week, we're introducing you to Home and Design Editor Amanda Sims—who tells us some of her, um, interesting ways of eating pickles and why she dons mad scientist gloves at work sometimes.
Amanda likes a mess. When we started an herb garden, Amanda lugged soil and rocks and pots and other tools from somewhere in the city to our office, fashioned a gardening corner, and let us kids play in the dirt. She was patient when we spilled dirt all over the floor and when we giggled more than we were helpful. She taught us how to properly pot plants with scrappy solutions for doing it well. (Use a wine cork stuck into a chopstick to make the top layer of soil smooth and even.) Amanda knows tricks that feel like old wives’ tales, ones I thought could only come from many decades of life.
Maybe Amanda likes to make a mess because she’s unfazed by them and enviably good at making them better and beautiful. She’s handy and thrifty and knows how to do stuff. She knows how to plant plants, yes, but also how to get a cab in Midtown at 5 PM, how to get from here to there quickly, how to wear a jean vest from middle school and not look like she’s in middle school. She has good style that comes from a joy for objects that would tell good stories if they could talk. I’ve never been to her apartment, but I imagine it containing weird ephemera (a banana sculpture?), thrifted gems, and items she made from trash.
Once you take Amanda out of her overalls and get her writing and talking, she is sassy, a little spicy, whip smart, and witty. Someone in her Southern family has probably called her a firecracker at some point. She’s enthusiastic and fiercely passionate about her words, new ideas, and bringing beauty to all of us in an unpretentious way. If she ever offered to be my camp counselor or interior designer or big sister, I’d say yes.
But the biggest, not-secret secret about our home and design editor is that she is a really good cook. The food she likes to cook is comforting, down home, and a little messy: an egg salad with a vinegar zing, enchiladas that could always take a little more cheese, a no-bullshit pickle salad. You might get your hands dirty eating her food, but that’s just what Amanda had in mind.
Here's a little more about her:
Amanda handling the elements at our rainy-day urban picnic.
Where did you come from?
Originally, the Tennessee Valley, a place famous for its rivers, dams, and power providers, where catfish are said to grow as big as small cars and everyone swims in the lakes anyway. Today, I walked across town from my quiet, big-windowed apartment on a very loud, very eclectic, very storied block in the East Village. I like a little contradiction in a habitat (and in general).
I know, I know, there's no normal day around here. But what's an example of a day in your life?
Today was pretty typical: Woke up, wish I'd gone running, crept over to get a pitch-black coffee at 71 Irving, put on comfy jeans and flats, lugged this green antique cooler I have to the office for a shoot (so cute, but so stupid heavy), edited an article about a wedding that used a bay leaf garland as decor, then went out to lunch—which, while I don't do that often, is typical in that I left the office midday because I do like to get out—came back, went to a meeting in which we discussed the merits of a French-themed email versus a space-saving solution email, and then went to a Shop product review where I got to taste cacao-flavored peanut butter with a fork.
Just for contrast, another typical day recently was one where I spent the better part of it wearing two aprons, goggles, and plastic yellow mad-scientist gloves, testing a recipe for DIY sparklers on the office fire escape.
What's something you do often that could get you fired?
Careful or you will expose your hidden agenda here! I almost got fired recently for trying to use canned green chiles in an enchilada not-recipe. Just kidding. Kinda. (Sorry, Kristen!)
What's it like being a home and design editor at a mostly-food website?
If you must know, it's a bit like floating between friend groups (something I've had a lifetime's experience mastering), since I work really closely with a lot of teams like Shop, Marketing, and Art besides just our editorial lot. Yes, there are days when I feel like a martian—because all the editors know so! much! about food and cooking and I'm just someone who likes very much to cook but gets distracted by things like mapping out how I'm going to rearrange all the stuff on my walls.
Ultimately, it's very freeing: I get to produce pretty much any idea we're excited about that helps make decorating, DIY-ing, and designing both inspiring and accessible. There's a lot of pretty things out there and someone's got to extrapolate the good ideas. Was I complaining before?
What is your spirit piece of furniture (and, okay, vegetable)?
I recently wrote an ode to the side table (dependable, makes wine night better), but I think I would say lamps. Who knows how they're wired (actually, I do) but it doesn't matter because they make your face light up.
Is a pickle a vegetable? Just kidding—broccoli stems. Wait, not a vegetable either? Radishes. Always surprisingly spicy.
What is your absolute favorite thing from The Food52 Shop and why?
Right now, I am lusting after this dusty pink stone-washed linen Euro Sham. It's already broken in, stuffed with a too-big pillow (genius), and in a color you'd have to be crazy not to love. Plus, it's bedding—and therefore one of the clearest indicators of how very truly our Shop is starting to roll out products for every part of the home. Who doesn't want the perfect set of linen sheets? (Stay tuned for more.)
The Stonewashed Linen Pillow Covers Amanda has her eyes on (left)—to match the pink ones she already has (right).
We heard you like pickle juice popsicles. Tell us more.
My older brother was a very athletic kid (quarterback, pitcher, etc.), and I spent many a day of my childhood attending his sporting events, wearing overalls, playing in the dirt, never knowing who won (sorry, John!). There was a baseball team he played on at some fields—you guessed it—by the river, and the concession stand served pickle pops for 25 cents. The handle was a toothpick. They were happy days.
People call you "Amanda Any-Sauce Sims." (Just me?) Care to tell the world why?
Would you eat a spring roll off a menu filled with turkey, cabbage, and "any sauce?" Once upon a time, for one of my early food assignments as an editor here, I did. Coolio's cookbook taught me that you can make spring rolls using "any sauce" in your fridge, a frighteningly open-minded way of cooking that I've tried to forget but the world will not let me.