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Weekly Round-Up

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This weekly round-up is incorporating the weekend, for a change. Nothing clears the air and opens up the waves of communication and creativity like a dramatic rain storm, and this is how the weekend began. Pounding rain and smears of traffic lights while I hid out under the BQE on my bike, trying to make a plan for how I was to make it to the city without getting (more, entirely) soaked. It actually felt energizing to be in the midst of such chaos after the oppressive air of Mercury retrograde had lifted.

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Our final destination for the evening (after stashing bikes in Joe’s classroom in Downtown Brooklyn) was the birthday party of our dear friend in her Chinatown apartment. Dumplings and red wine and champagne and cucumber slices with Ponzo fueled our post rainstorm bliss and we spoke and danced and reconnected and became closer. This sweet friend and her sweet husband bring together some of the most enchanting people from all walks and being in their home (a veritable museum of art, handiwork and natural curiosities from their worldwide adventures) is always calming, fortifying and inspiring. I am so moved to be with people and interact with the world now that my self-inflicted mercurial misery of the past weeks is over.

Rachel, Joe and myself were even motivated to “play Korea” as we often are, calling upon our surreal time together so long ago in a foreign place, and went in search of late-night, authentic cuisine in one of the last corners of New York City that remains extraordinary, curious and exciting. Our adventures in late night dumplings brought us to Mission Chinese, which after much run-around from the host, introduced us to some of the better food we’ve had the joy of eating. Authentic and fringe and tucked away it was not, but the experience was certainly wild and bizarre which is what we were hoping to encounter.

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I was so lucky to have spent time with the immensely talented Jack Woertz this past week. Seeing her work space and learning the ins and outs of one of my favorite crafts—leather tooling—from the pro herself was a blast and I cannot wait to share her story here on the blog. We first spent time together back in August at the oasis of a Brooklyn home she inhabits with her lovely girlfriend (the site of the Bohemian Collective photo shoot for Morphologically with Dawn Marie West). I had been dying to get back to that space and hear the full story of Jack’s life and work after having a sneak peek into her world. And now, more than ever, I want to shout from the rooftops: “Get out there, people, and MAKE THINGS WITH YOUR HANDS!” It’s what the world needs more of. IMG_6647-2

Finally, I found this INCREDIBLE floral jersey at Beacon’s Closet in Park Slope on this gorgeous Saturday past and I have been wearing it ever since (including to the Brooklyn Nets Open Practice on Sunday morning because it felt totally appropriate for the occasion). The piece is one of my most exciting finds in recent history as I seem to have stepped away from thrifting lately. But, after finding it, I was inspired to watch (at long last) IRIS, the documentary on the goddess of self-expression through dress, Iris Apfel, making me fall even more deeply in love with it. It makes me feel so amazing and empowered for an inexplicable reason and I am honestly going to try to incorporate this top into as many outfits as possible, and see if I can’t work it into a “professional” ensemble for a meeting or an event. I think it can work!

Wishing you late night dance parties, happy rain storms, craftiness and all the love in the world.

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Hands of Creation

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Fall, in its infinite crispness and newness, always brings me deeply in touch with my meditative side. I turn inward after the mania and excitement of the summer months and celebrate the opportunity to get back to routine and back to nesting after summer’s nomadism. Fall is also my favorite time to delve into life’s slow arts—cooking, crafting, creating in all manner—and so it is appropriate that I should have the pleasure of introducing to these pages a wonderful creator who has come to discover the slow art that moves her most and who is making her life for it and from it.

It was still the height of summer when I first came to visit Ivy Weinglass at her studio in all her sprightliness and warmth. It never ceases to amaze me that, while wandering the streets of Brooklyn, one can be in the presence of such magic, tucked away just beyond sight and consciousness. And so it was that I came to discover her ceramics studio, cool and earthen smelling in delightful contrast to the tinny August heat, nestled in an unassuming building off of a dead-end street in Williamsburg. Here Ivy spends her days in the company of other artists who share this studio, the healthy buzz of creation filling the railroad style space and the gift of a grape-vined secret garden in the back to escape to for moments of calm.

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A voracious crafter of all disciplines, Ivy has tried her hand at many projects. And something that she may do just to pass the time inevitably yields enviable and covetable results. Her vintage bandana bags and quilts, for example, are straight out of a southwestern, wanderlust dreamscape, conjuring images of cowboy kisses, dusty road trips, and sleeping under the stars. Likewise, her latest adventure in embroidery has garnered well deserved attention from all angles and adorns the wearer in a happy neo-grunge halo. But it is her work in ceramics that, above all of her other artistry, makes her feel completely herself. She found the craft after a stint of creative drought and took to it feverishly, compelled by the challenge and patience that it required. And here she is today, creating truly stunning pieces (now available at ABC Carpet and Home {yeehaw!} among many other awesome outposts across the country) that feel simultaneously ancient and cutting edge, original and universal. She says that her devotion to long hours in the studio surprised her at first, having thought of herself previously as someone lacking in attention. But the nature of working with clay has found her in complete meditative clarity and possessing a work ethic with a laser beam focus to achieve the pieces that she envisions.

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Perhaps her most iconic pieces are her ceramic hands. Always having been drawn to the symbol—collecting hands of all mediums from thrift stores, markets, etc—she conceived of her own motif completely out of function, to serve as an elegant spot to snub out her beloved palo santo sticks that she burns incessantly in her home. (It is her practice, even, to gift purchasers of her ceramic hands with a stick of palo santo, known for bringing balance to the spaces in which it is burned.) The result, of course, is the perfect, soulfully pleasing designs that enchant every person that lays eyes on them. The ideal talisman to adorn our homes with as we settle into these months of sacred nesting, with shorter days and falling temperatures.

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What I find so special about Ivy’s story is that she has truly made a life of her passions, seemingly unfettered by any commonly used excuses or frequently referenced obstacles like time, money, and the thing her mom calls “monkey brain” (aka the chief demon of all creatives: the little voice that tries to stop us each day as we sit down to make our art). Her recipe to keep focused when the voices of doubt and distraction surface is to take a break. When her work flow is off and things don’t feel right in the studio, she escapes completely until she is ready to return to the task at hand. And it turns out that sometimes those days away are more important to her continued work than days spent at her bench. She references, and I couldn’t agree with her more, that we have to be our own best cheerleader if we are ever to accomplish (and still find joy in) our work. Ivy also fights against the societal constraint to put money above all else by reveling in the beauty of trade. She’s found many other incredible artists on Instagram whom she has cultivated relationships with and made exchanges of her work for theirs, rendering her life and her spaces full of amazing artifacts that fuel her creativity. But money inevitably comes with great effort and determination, and I am so happy for all of Ivy’s well deserved success.

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It is the solid influence of friends and family and the vision of other creatives that keeps her motivated and inspired. She is intimately aware of the fact that when you keep trying your hand at “making it” in the creative arena, something is bound to stick. And like the sage she is, she acknowledges that inevitably  one will have to keep trying to break through to the next source of inspiration. One thing that she never hopes to be is complacent, understanding that complacency is the ultimate enemy of creativity. And so Ivy strives to keep learning, keep exploring and keep building upon her creative foundation. And we, the awestruck admirers of her work, couldn’t be happier for it.

To purchase, or for more on Ivy’s work, visit her at her brand’s website: IIIVVVYYY.

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Weekly Round-Up

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This weekly round-up is shaping up to be appropriately witchy and womanly. And if I am to continue with this theme, I would say that it all begin last Thursday night at the 13th annual New York Burlesque Festival where much red wine was imbibed and much whooping and hollering was done in the name of female empowerment. The weekend rounded out with a fall inspired photo shoot in my backyard that somehow became very late-90’s-girl-power (with heavy influences of The Craft) very quickly. My favorite thing is when a shoot takes on a life of its own without my control. And Nadine and Rachel had a lot of stories to tell…so I let them do their work.

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It has to be the total lunar eclipse and Blood Harvest Moon that has us all a’twitter. It feels like a very heavy time creatively and emotionally and I take it as a sign that all of the intentions I set on the evening of the eclipse are working their magic and mixing everything up. I couldn’t have asked for a better woman to hang with in the wake of all this celestial turbulence than Nicole Katherine Alexander, the Captain-Queen of Vintage and Empress of Girl Power. Basking in her ultimate witchiness this past Thursday helped to shake a lot of things loose and I am so excited to share her story (and the epic photos) with everyone here a.s.a.p…

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Even the weather seems to be serving this heavy energy. The pending hurricane has been pounding NYC with rain and here I sit with a water slicked window listening to Stevie Nicks (because what else do you do in the midst of all of these witches) and getting ready to hunker down and enjoy the storm. With the events of the past week, I’ve been wanting to watch nothing but 90’s horror films (we have some serious Horrotober gems cued up with Netflix), and nothing lends itself better to that than a rainy weekend indoors with no where to go. Also, all of these awesome stories in the works won’t write themselves, so it is a self-issued sentence of house arrest for me. Stay safe out there, kids! 
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Astrology for the Creative Entrepreneur

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This weekend past was last ever installment of The Blogcademy, held for its final class in Midtown, Manhattan where it all began, which I feel so lucky to have been a part of. For all of those who know me well, they know that I am a person that loves to live with purpose, which is what taking classes provides me. It gives me direction, focus and a fresh perspective on whatever the task at hand. So, being able to delve more deeply into the business behind blogging was a perfect way to spend a weekend. For all you creatives in your post-grad-daily-grind phase, I recommend participating in as many classes, seminars and workshops that you can fit in to your schedule. It provides you with the concentration and the network to get closer to your goals. But, aside from the knowledge we (pay) for, what is so special about getting back into the student’s seat is that we encounter an entirely new cast of characters outside of our daily routines, that inevitably serve to open us up to some reinvigorated points of view. For example, I was not expecting to learn so much about my self and the amazing benefits of astrology for the creative entrepreneur by way of my unique star chart during a weekend devoted to content creation and target audiences. But that is exactly what I did, during the hours before class started, the short breaks during the day and in the days since the seminar closed.

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My amazing classmate Colin was the catalyst in this self discovery. A student of The Blogcademy with aspirations of bringing his fresh new blog to the market—the content of which is so inspired that I won’t even share the specifics here, for fear of it being poached—dealing with astrology, self love and individuality. You’d think that being the only male in the class (and I believe one of 5 in all Blogcademy courses ever) would be the reason that he stood out, but it was his delightful energy, his humor and his eagerness to speak—and make true connections—with everyone that did it. Needless to say, I felt energized and so positively influenced when he began schooling me in the complexities of my individual star chart.

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My take-away and advice: don’t just say “I’m a Leo” and leave it there. There is so much to take into account, as we artists and creatives can be especially affected (and benefit from) astrological alignment. After reading my in-depth personal analysis via Astrolabe (as recommended from the pro himself) I have such a clearer understanding of the little nuances in my personality and how to really hone in on my particular talents in building my business. It all makes so much sense. And, there was even a salient tidbit pertaining directly to my creative work from my Jupiter-in-Aries-self :

 

The way that you grow and develop is by being an uncompromising individualist. You have a great need to be yourself and to explore your latent talents and abilities. Do not be afraid to let yourself go and develop self-confidence and pride in your accomplishments. But try not to become so self-centered that you ignore the needs of others. Also, you may have to build up your self-discipline in order to focus your energies properly.

 

From the gal who works from home with Netflix always a click away, I can totally relate and take heed of the final sentence in that quote. Likewise, I need to remember to close my MacBook sometimes, even when I am totally engrossed in my latest piece of writing, and strike out into the world for some personal connection. The needs of my loved ones are super important and I can’t forget that. Moreover, my next source of inspiration (and perhaps a new special friend) is out there somewhere. So hey, creatives, get your stars aligned and move onward. And stay tuned for Colin’s site.

Here’s to a weekend of learning and the happy surprise of life affirming circumstantial knowledge!

 

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Featured photo via Unsplash, Leo astrology image via Commons.

Weekly Round-Up

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This post is presented under the guise of a weekly round up, but it is actually a mind storm of the past couple of weeks in photos. I remember, in years past, that the beginning of September spawned a back-to-basics (or might we call it a back-to-school) mentality. All manner of adventuring and manic creation (and living on very little sleep interspersed with too much sleep) would take a back seat to the more somber tasks of getting ourselves organized. 2015 has seemed to laugh in the face of this tradition, bringing with it what feels like even MORE excitement, travel and creation than the summer months.

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The end of summer always feels like a scramble to check off the last minute items that we may not have gotten to between all of the out-of-state vacations. For me, this means taking advantage of trips to the local NYC beaches. It’s true that the Maine beaches offer moodier and more magical waters, more privacy, and the added bonus of being able to drive to them in a matter of minutes…but there is something really gritty and hip about Coney Island and the Rockaways. Like little time capsules of a bygone era of New York, these beaches give us a sense of wild freedom in a city that becomes more and more tight-laced as time goes on.

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As a member of the Brooklyn Museum I try to visit as often as possible. Truly, the curators of this wonderful space serve up some of the best shows I have the pleasure of seeing, and all the while creating a wonderful sense of community and pride in local artists. The current show FAILE: Savage/Sacred Minds is super amazing and taps into that great gritty spirit of NYC that I mentioned above. Focussing in on

“our relationship to consumer culture, religious traditions and urban environment by blurring the boundaries between fine art, street art and popular culture.”

Spoiler alert: there is a fully active arcade within the exhibit, you should definitely make a point of visiting this show before it closes on October 4th.

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Though the Morphologically x Bohemian Collective shoot was in August, the article went live on the site the second weekend in September. It was so exciting to have so many of my favorite creative minds come together on that project and I don’t feel guilty in the slightest bit about making another humble brag about my latest guest post! September you’re full of inspiration and opportunity!

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With all the madness of NYFW, blogging and brand launches, it was important to get away for some meditation and relaxation at the dawn of a new season. I love nothing more than to travel to the Hudson River Valley each autumn, and this year’s trip was particularly special with its camping under the stars, waterfall dips and the frenzied arrival to our motel during an epic downpour after being rained out of our campsite. I tried to capture the spirit of the amazing seediness of Motel 19, forgotten by time and tucked away into the Catskill Mountains, in the above picture. Sheets of rain were falling outside our window and with nothing really modern to speak of in the room—including wireless internet—and the city miles away, we could really live in the moment and luxuriate in long hours of togetherness.

A Fashion Week Blitz: Daniel Silverstain S/S 16

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So, Mercury is back in retrograde. Can you feel it? I definitely can. This past week seems to have evaporated into a puff of pink smoke, leaving in its wake nothing but sheer chaos. So, while I was temporarily on a blissful, hooray-for-fall tip, I am now white-knuckling-it until things settle down a bit. C’est la vie!

All chaos talk aside, I will admit that I only made it to one show during the entirety of NYFW. Between our blissful trip to the Hudson River Valley (more on that later…) and the aforementioned retrograding throwing a few curve balls my way, it was all I could seem to fit into my schedule. But honestly, if I were to make it to any presentations, I am so happy that it was Daniel Silverstain!

Last season was the first time I encountered Silverstain’s collections, and I immediately felt a fondness for his designs and for his philosophies. His creations, calling upon the aura of the original jetsetters, introduced pops of lucious color meant to evoke the untapped, far-reaching landscapes that the “New Tourists” of the 1960’s would have encountered. In general, Silverstain’s designs translate a feeling of intrepidness, manifested in futuristic silhouettes that suggest intergalactic exploration.

His Spring/Summer 2016 collection offered up many of the same gems, kicking-off with an exciting, vintage inspired invitation declaring “Redez-Vous a Montreal!” and reminding us to pack our cameras (apportez votre appareil!). The models walked down metallic, silver runways sporting clothes that can only be described as cosmic hostess uniforms in a 1960 meets 2050 parallel universe with a bit of interstellar seductress flair. The results were totally inspiring and trend-provoking.

So happy to share these photos with you! Looking forward to seeing Daniel Silverstain next season, and hopefully making it to a few more shows…

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Naked City Style + Bohemian Collective

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I am so honored to have had the opportunity to guest post on my absolute favorite blog, Bohemian Collective.  Laura Mazurek is a true goddess and a dream to work with. What she has done for artists and creators via this collective, and her work with the staggeringly beautiful print publication, moves me greatly.

Melissa and Dawn, I wish for many more collaborations in our brilliant future! xo

Please see the story below, accompanied by photographs by Dawn Marie West (featured) and Laura Mazurek (all of the below):

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We felt transported that evening, kindred spirits surrounding a Brooklyn backyard bonfire with homespun guitar riffs drifting into the humid air.  Melissa McGill, founder of lifestyle aromatherapy brand Morphologically, in true form—always finding a bit of magic in the most unexpected places—had led us to this hidden paradise.  Highway 27 was just across the street and below an underpass—cars moving at 75 miles per hour in both directions and undoubtedly leaving some part of the city behind them—but in the cool underbrush of budding sunflowers and amidst the tendrils of backyard vines, you really couldn’t be sure where exactly you were.  Here, outside the surging cadence of the city, we sleep to dream of wild nature, the newfound company of extraordinary strangers, art and endless possibilities. Because, the thing about Brooklyn is, we all bring our individual, far-reaching stories around the campfire, and there is a gravitational pull for the creative, the crafty, the bohemian.  A world away from the pulsing epicenter of the city that never sleeps, we find ourselves in the presence of harmony.

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Growing up on a self-sustaining farm in Western Canada and a practitioner of aromatherapy for the past 16 years, Melissa lives the life she has always known, but nestled within a metropolis, instead of folded inside the patchwork quilt of endless acreage.  Her home in Brooklyn, adorned by spider plants, wall hangings and tapestry rugs, has a clarity and a calmness to it, no doubt owing itself to her purifying candles burning endlessly in each corner of the space.  An altar to her creations, in the form of massive industrial shelves full of pure soy wax, sacred oils and Himalayan salts, towers along one wall of her light-filled living room, her silver wax warmer simmers in the corner closest to her door. For Melissa, being a holistic soul seeking an environment of balance in the midst of this city, so frequently associated with depletion, means pouring her self into the creation of handmade candles, aromatic woods and tinctures.  Through the creation of her wares, she cultivates a life energy that she shares with everyone she meets.

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It was Melissa who brought us all together that evening: the writer, the photographer, the artisan and the aromatherapist, each of us filling the space with our unique stories.  Community is important to Melissa, and fundamental to the way she has built her business. Her collaborative vision and her ability to find synergy in the people she guides into her circle somehow translates into the way the scent of each of her products permeates through a room, blanketing the user in a glow of warmth and wellness.  Her joy in creating custom blends for anything that ails you, her openness to share with you all that she knows about this craft and her quest to find other holistic practitioners with whom to create a collective, further supports this sense of community.  Finding the natural amongst the urban, as exercised by Melissa, is the quest for sustainability of mind and body, cultivating balance and reaching out to care for those gentle souls that make up your city.  This practice, like the experience of her wares, is a breath of serenity within the chaos of life.

See the full story here.

#NakedGemGiveaway with The Grateful Gemhead

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This collaboration began as a beautiful desert dream back in May.  Maria and I were exploring the Mojave, marinating on how we could marry what it is that we both do—me; finding and featuring amazing babes doing note worthy creative things, she; sourcing gorgeous gems from around the country and beyond and, most recently, setting up shop near her home in Long Island to create gorgeous, earthy jewels with her bounty of stones—and we knew that whatever we did together would have to inspire the wanderlust and bohemian lifestyle that brought us both together in the first place.  Maria and I have bonded endlessly over how simultaneously wonderful and frustrating it is to be a creative entrepreneur in today’s world.  We’ve shared ideas, motivated each other and inspired one another, and I couldn’t be more excited for how far her business has come and her first steps into the world of jewelry making, something she has been working towards for the past year or so.  It is with this same joy that we bring you the #NakedGemGiveaway featuring items that symbolize both of our stories and our respective creative passions: a tooled leather Moroccan satchel, pre-loved and purchased in the covered markets in Fez, carrying with it the energy of far-flung destinations and boundless exploration.  An Arkansas quartz crystal cluster, sourced with love by the Gem Head herself, and the tour de force, the hand made sterling silver and turquoise pendant designed and crafted on Maria’s bench.  In the spirit of our shared love of adventure and our favorite season, we are asking that you tag #NakedGemGiveaway in the Instagram photo of your most beloved summer travel moment, be it to an exotic country far away or a staycation of camping and sunbathing in your backyard, for your chance to win this beautiful package.  Wishing you well and hoping that all of your summer fantasies come true!

Consider the Lobster

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Portland has a sort of windex-clarity characteristic of moody coastal towns where storms roll through at regular intervals.  The colors appear more vividly, the horizon stretches out just a bit further and, of course, the air has a crispness that reinvigorates your dull city senses.  Smells are very available here in the crisp air: pines and low tide and seasoned fish; and each time I come back, I find myself falling more deeply in love with Vacationland.

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It’s funny to have your hometown shown to you through another person’s eyes and to hear voiced in perfect sound-bytes why it is that a place is so infectious: the coblestones of downtown, the seagulls crying in the morning, the smell of woodsmoke lingering until dawn.  The weather was serving us nothing but sunshine during our adventures in and around Portland and the ladies gave me such good face as I persistently snapped their photos.  Good friends can always be counted on to model for you on a moments notice, and it helps when your friends are knock-outs and the landscape you’re working with is unparalleled it its beauty.  Our photo story quickly became a color study with weathered beach-side shingles in grayscale, electric reds of handpicked berries in blue-green boxes that picked up the color of the ocean and the sky, desaturated tones creating vintage pin-up vibes, and neon signs seducing us with the finest lobster rolls—this is what what we tried to capture.

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I have always floated in a cloud somwhere between belonging and not in Portland, due to my not having been born there and spending so much time away even when I was a resident. But I realize that certain things make me an undeniable local, like the way I happily jump into the coldest of water and the ease with which I squish and squirt through even the most formidable barriers of seaweed.  I can’t say that I don’t get lost driving around the serpentine roads of coastal Maine—I often get turned around—but eventually muscle memory takes over and I find myself (and my guests) right where we ought to be: somewhere between vacation dreams and blissful reality. 
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We unearthed so many new haunts on this trip back: my savvy band of girls took to the city like true travelers and lead me down new streets, into new shops and introduced me to new tastes that I would have otherwise continued to overlook.  “Consider the Lobster” became the token saying of our adventure and I realize now that, in addition to the lobster, there are so many things to consider when you find yourself in awe of a place that you thought you were finished discovering.

 

Places of interest when visiting Portland: Two Fat Cats Bakery, Ferry Beach State Park, Street & Co, Maxwell’s Farm, Bliss.

We Are the Young Americans

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My recent trip to Los Angeles did nothing to dispel any notions that A. everyone is beautiful in the City of Angels and B. life is a never-ending flurry of auditions and shoots.  In fact, I am now completely convinced of those two points and warming up to C. everything is better on the “Best Coast.”

As a New Yorker I am predisposed to have an aversion to LA.  Long New York City winters blowing slush and sadness into our hearts have conditioned us to think that Los Angelinos, with their backyard palm trees, their perfect tans and their balmy Christmases, have it easy.  But what I found this past trip was a group of people, albeit gorgeous people, working nonstop to live out their creative dreams one day at a time.

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I had popped over to LA to see my dear, childhood friend Riley Rose, (writer, actor, editor, costume wrangler) of the hysterically funny sketch group BFT Comedy, among other feathers in her cap. It was she that had introduced me to the lovely Valentina Mitzkat a year ago in Los Angeles.  I was immediately taken with Valentina’s spirit, she possesses an old-world, classic beauty that I can’t stop looking at: porcelain skinned like a pinup but spritely at the same time.  She is an incredible musical talent with an intoxicatingly beautiful voice, in fact, her single Going Home has been on repeat since our first meeting a year ago.  During my trip to LA this year, Valentina was shooting the video to her new song We Are The Young Americans, an upbeat and infectious tune, and Riley and I were invited to take part in the video.  I am such a fan so, of course, I couldn’t resit being a part of her latest piece of magic, camera-shy be damned!

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It was a perfect afternoon in sunny California, a fruit-tree lined street in The Valley was the location of the day-after-house-party themed video and a an outdoor couch full of young stunners surrounded by succulents and all manner of flora greeted us upon our arrival on set.  The idea behind the shoot was to focus in on a group of (young) Americans who, seemingly wasting a day idling about hungover from the previous night’s debauchery, build something beautiful out of what dregs the party (or society) has left behind for them.  The concept is genius, especially because it takes place in a city that, no matter what anyone says, is totally and completely on its grind, further supporting my newly recognized affinity for all things Los Angeles.   I can’t wait to see the finished video and share it with everyone as soon as it is ready.  And, in the meantime, while I may not be packing my bags to move across the country just yet, I plan to cultivate as much California cool (and go-getter-ness) into my everyday as possible.

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Until next time, Los Angeles!