Travel Tones

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Even though we are in the boring renovation phase of spackeling + scraping, I am gathering ideas for how to paint the perfect dream space to share with our future house guests.

We have been tossing around the question of which colors to use in the upstairs bedroom, hallway and kitchenette without much luck. But, while taking a walk last week with Joe, I came across the most beautiful flowering tree, with luscious blooms in a deep, full, purply-crimson. The best possible color to paint a little kitchen nook where guests will sit to sip tea and gaze out the window, I immediately thought. And this got me thinking about how to encapsulate all of my favorite elements of nature and design—my favorite travel tones—and joyfully let them loose inside our home.

After we returned from our Scandinavian springtime, all I could think about was bathing our home in minimalist, warm whites, contrasted by modernist black and vintage woods. It was only the colors themselves, but the clean, calm feeling that the colors created. Our previously bright turquoise and blood-red sheets were swapped out for simple, charcoal-gridded, white bedding…that matched our new laundry basket. I wanted to pull everything off the walls—photographs, wall hangings and candle-adorned shelves—to make way for vast, blank walls and single, bold statements. But, as Joe so wisely noted, this would all change as soon as we returned from our next travel…perhaps Mexico or Thailand or South Africa…when wild colors would again reign.

Without having to commit to one style choice for your entire home, single rooms can embody a certain spirit from abroad. So how to you convey your favorite travel memories simply in hues? I started poring over my archived photos from trips past, and used the Benjamin Moore Color Gallery to match my favorites. Summers in Maine, the minimalist interiors and ancient exteriors of Norway, and the regal, West Coast greens are all translated below into paint colors.

I hope these stirring colors draw something out in those future travelers to 509 3rd street and inspire vivid memories of their stay with us.

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Mojito Watermelon How-To

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One of my best friend’s favorite stories to tell is from five summers ago when we were in the midst of a classic New York City heatwave. Back in our airconditioner-less Bushwick apartment, Joe and I were at each other’s throats; the infernal heat thickening our blood and making us crazy. I sent my friend an S.O.S. and she demanded that we drop everything and come to her apartment, a 5 minute walk away. We did as she said and rambled through the streets, dripping with sweat—he in cargo shorts and a well-loved Jordan jersey, me in cut-off jean shorts and bandanas worn as both shirt and headband—to her front door, where we were greeted by a wave of frozen air and a plate of watermelon salad.

Cut to the summer of 2016 (not quite as hot and in which we have an air-conditioned bedroom). It was last Tuesday night at the Beirut concert in Prospect Park, sitting with our other best friends and enjoying a perfect evening outdoors. Just as the show was drawing to a close we were approached by a sweet-faced stranger, holding a platter of salmon-colored shapes. “Do you guys want some mojito watermelon? I made it for the picnic, but I’m not going to take the leftovers home. I’ll just throw it out if you don’t want any.” Of course we wanted some. Not only did she have me at “mojito…” but, as paragraph one of this post describes, I have a very positive history with watermelon dishes. We all took quick bites and gushed over how good it was. Our benefactress rattled off the ingredient list and then disappeared into the sunset. I was hooked and wanted to make it myself.

A Google search yielded mostly recipes for watermelon mojitos (which, OK, also look DELICIOUS), but after some digging I did find a recipe from Country Living that describes how to make this dish. It calls for sugar, which I don’t think it needs at all, so I experimented a bit and came up with my own, similar version. The fact that I can use the fresh mint from my garden really appeals to my farm girl fantasies…here it is!

+ Ingredients +

  • Watermelon
  • Limes
  • Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Mint

+ Directions +

  • Cut up watermelon in nice chunks.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and lime juice.
  • Drizzle with olive oil.
  • Top with fresh, chopped mint.
  • Enjoy chilled

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Ta da!

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Enjoy! xx

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From Napa, With Love

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California continues to be a seductive, siren of a place luring me closer and closer with each visit. It is a place where my east-coast-drive melts into a west-coast-commitment-to-self. A place where the passing connections I make with the Golden State’s natives turn into intimate memories. A place where the heart-wrenching beauty of the everyday becomes routine, but never loses its power.

Even months after my latest trip to California I remain blissfully under its spell, allowing myself to be lost in frequent, passionate day dreams of a perhaps, not-so-distant future amidst its cacti and redwoods. During my stay in wine country at the end of May, I was excited to spend time with Oona Achard, a prolific leather artist, whom I met during the designer trunk show I was working. Indulging my most beloved pastime of meeting the movers and makers of the places I visit, we chatted about her art over the course of the weekend. In between tidbits of her Swiss background, talk of the micro-climates of Northern California and advice on where to eat and drink in Napa and Sonoma Valleys (Goose and Gander in St. Helena, Aroma Roasters in Santa Rosa), she explained that, after attempting to commission the teachings of an age-old artisan who was just too tired to continue his work, had purchased his antique machinery, site unseen. She had then hired him to tutor her in the privacy of her home where his tools enjoyed a brand new chapter in their long-lived story.

The fruits of her labor are the leather creations, the bucket bag pictured here among others, all stamped with the custom brand she created. The timeless, fashionable beauty of the pieces characterizes a bit of the California way in my mind, the stunning result of so many diverse, yet complimentary elements: rustic and refined, natural and manmade, fluid and structured. Just like Oona, with her Italian and Louisiana roots, living in an Americana small town within a Mediterranean climate.

Oona described her struggle to keep herself focused on her work and to maintain her creative practice even as life continues to throw obstacles her way. It is a struggle that I am intimately acquainted with, and we bonded that weekend on how to keep motivated toward our respective crafts. For me, meeting Oona reignited my passion to tell the stories of talented creators whose stories might otherwise go untold. Our meeting will remain another lovely memory I have of California and one I keep close to my heart until my next visit.

For more of Oona’s work: www.atelierachardleather.etsy.com

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MariNoLoves || Norway Through The Eyes of Designer Mari Norden

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Snow was falling when we arrived in Oslo, Norway—albeit spring snow, the kind that melts the moment it touches the ground—and we were immediately reminded that we were arriving in a place where warmth, sunlight and color is a luxury. There was some sort of marathon in the city center that kept us laughing as we acquainted ourselves with the city streets. The runners were galloping in circles and in criss-cross fashion. They went up and then down the same streets, marked by partitions and onlookers yelling encouragement, around Oslo Center. The Norwegians were out in large numbers, some bundled appropriately against the still frigid spring, and some letting the strengthening sun of late April kiss their exposed skin. We were witnessing the frenzied energy of the return of the warmer months and feeling the palpable excitement of the Nordic people who must hideaway throughout much of the year against the truly fierce cold.

We were seeing Oslo during its seasonal awakening, a spark of life emerging after the dormancy of winter. There was a palpable excitement of the Nordic people having left their wintertide hiding places.  It was only appropriate, then, that we visit the studio of designer and silk screener Mari Norden whose designs exist as a reflection of this excitement and as a spark of color emerging from the staid Scandinavian design scape of black and white.

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Designer Mari Norden, who’s namesake brand MarinoLoves sparked my attention on an evening scrolling through Instagram searching #NorwegianDesign, is a beautiful blaze of color and warmth. The aforementioned snow was falling on a particularly grey morning when we came upon Mari’s studio in an old industrial-residential area of Oslo. When she opened the door to invite us in out of the cold it was like stumbling upon a stoked fire in its hearth.

“It’s not chic, it’s sheep.” – Mari Norden

Her bright, friendly eyes—as full of sparkle and smiles as she is—see the tradition of minimalism in Scandinavian fashion a bit differently than I do. When I used the word “chic” to describe the controlled, color-blocked street fashion of the Norwegians, she immediately corrected me with the quip, “It’s not chic, it’s sheep.”  Mari’s almost counter-culture view on fashion in the land of black & white—that it should excite, draw attention and be an extension of your own energy—is no surprise when you walk around her studio. A rainbow of color in silks and wools, so vibrant it almost vibrates, paints the clothing rack positioned in the corner of the room. Tufts of snow cone colored reindeer hair—the same that adorns the lapel of her fuchsia coat pictured above—seemingly grow from a section of wall in her studio. The models that grace the pages of her look book carry balloon bouquets and wear balloon crowns. When you discover that the first piece of clothing she ever designed was made from a sky-blue bean bag chair that she deconstructed, followed by years of finding those little synthetic balls all over the house, the picture completes itself.

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After beginning to sew at age ten, Mari daydreamed about her future as a designer getting good grades along the way, and arrived at Middlesex University in London where she studied fashion. It was there, during her last year of university, that she got really into silkscreen printing, practically living in her school’s excellent printing facilities. You’ll recognize this technique in her work to this day, balancing the solids of her collection with playful patterns.

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But not all of Mari’s approaches to design are counter to her homeland’s approach to fashion. She focuses on all natural fibers and sustainable practices that fall directly in line with the Scandinavian tradition of social and environmental consciousness. It is this cobimnation of mindful, yet unfettered, creation that makes Mari’s pieces such treasures and her collections exemplary of a new understanding of Scandinavian design.

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After spending the morning chatting with Mari about Norway, New York City, The Netherlands, London, cinema, fashion, art, and beyond, it was clear that, while her last name—Norden, or “The North”—identifies her as a native daughter, we were meeting a person that redefine what is considered quintessentially Norwegian. In a land of people perceived (and often identifying) as introverted, wild emotions—especially those in opposition to the norm—are rarely visible. Mari’s unique perspective on design and true passion for turning the conventional on it’s ear is an inspiration.

We said our goodbyes and emptied back out into the frigid spring air. There was a context now, for this vast, snowy land and a comfort in knowing—at least in one specific example—how the beautiful minds of this society stoke their own creative fires. Our eyes were attuned now, finding the pops of color, warmth and rebellion wherever they sprang up. Be it a grafitti’d wall blooming amongst the concrete, an underground club washed in the cathartic screams of Death Metal or the radiant rainbow of the MariNoLoves collections, the Norwegians are getting their fix.

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For more on Mari Norden and MariNoLoves, please visit: www.marinoloves.com.

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On The Road

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Life has become, for me currently, a dizzying dance between packing and unpacking. It is hard to believe (even for myself, who has lived to tell the tale) that since the beginning of 2016 I have been on the road to Arizona, Puerto Rico, Texas, (there was a Hamptons weekend in there) California–the entire seaboard, mind you–got surprise married, planned a reception & did my taxes. For a girl who sometimes feels the pangs of anxiety in preparation for something as routine as a dinner party, I relish the fact that I am able to maintain some sense of self in a time that, for routines sake, is in complete upheaval.

Our 8-day long journey through Scandinavia did wonders for the spirit and to recenter myself. From what we saw, the Nordic soul knows little if it doesn’t know how to bathe in the clear, bright light of minimalism and walk the delicate balance between work, life and self. I won’t dishonor that experience by lumping it in with this brief reflection on the past months, but rest assured that there will be much more on that to come.

I had words for each of these past trips and for the months of January through April, but I can’t remember them now. They are a wild forest of overgrown brush, too complicated and tangled to sort through and organize in any coherent manner. So, I will leave you with a montage of photos in hopes that it conveys a bit of the wonder and the awe I feel at having the unique experience to call an airport my second home and America my backyard.

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Weekly Round Up – Puerto Rico

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Some would use the phrase, “It’s like rain I’d never seen before.” But as powerful and relentless as it was, I had seen rain like this before. It was the same rain that tinted our windows black in Gwangju, adding a pause in the day to consider the sound of your own loneliness. It was the rain that rarely came in Sevilla, but when it did the town would briefly fall under a spell and come out smelling like sodden clay. It was the rain that rose up past the tires of our car on my first trip to Puerto Rico and turned palm trees and lights into shadows and smears.

As we drove the dark and mountainous rode from Ponce to San Juan I felt the electricity–a mixture of terror and ecstatic delirium–that comes to me in moments when I am completely out of control of what is to come. This feeling happens often in travel when I’ve been in a place long enough to have a routine, but something occurs that reminds me that I am still at the whim of this foreign place. It happened to me on this recent trip to Puerto Rico because, despite the fact that I had landed on the island only 12 hours prior, I was blissed out to be back among Spanish speakers in a capacity other than “tourist.” I was also duly petrified by the combination of darkness, lateness and infernal rain we were experiencing.

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It should go without saying, as I sit here writing this, that we made it safely back to San Juan. A fate for which I owe everything to the adeptness of my companion and driver to whom a little tropical rain storm is nothing if not routine. I spent the next days falling more deeply and deeply in love with my temporary life as an Islander, delighting in my cafe con leches purchased in Spanish, my daily commutes to work on which I often had the same taxi driver and my moments (though infrequent) to feel the Caribbean sun turning my skin rapidly brown.

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IMG_8213I fell asleep each night to a chirping Coqui and awoke each morning to the sight of a reflecting pool stretching out toward the crashing waves of the open ocean. I felt blessed to be back, if only for a moment, in a place just foreign enough to feel that specific electricity.

So, until next time.

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Featured rain photo courtesy of Unsplash.com, Photography by Christopher.

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Dawn Marie West

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I had the pleasure of working with Dawn Marie West in the Summer of 2015. She beautifully photographed the Melissa McGill, Morphologically feature that I wrote for Bohemian Collective. She is the kind of woman that surprises you with how truly driven and entrepreneurial she is, only because she emanates such a serene and unruffled nature that you find yourself wondering how she keeps calm with all of the coals she has simultaneously roasting in the fire.

Dawn has a sharp eye, a peaceful spirit and she moonlights as a hula-hooper—seriously check out her Instagram for reference—and she is a fierce champion of her fellow creatives. In addition to her photography, she is the founder of Maison Made NYC a budding art house and platform for the emerging artist.

Read all about her work and her vision here for this week’s installment of Wisdom Wednesday!

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1. Tell us a bit about your brand, Maison Made NYC, how you conceived of the idea and how you see the brand growing.

Maison Made NYC is an art house and platform for artists to have their work collectively represented to an alternative art audience while serving as inspiration for the emerging artist. As of right now, Maison Made is based online where I feature studio visits and interviews with emerging artists throughout the city.

Maison Made originated as a collective of the artists in my circle of friends. As an emerging photographer myself, we collectively decided to put on group shows together, representing every medium. It came out of the idea to have our work represented independently, as it has become increasingly more difficult and less realistic for many emerging artists to show their work in more prominent galleries of New York City. I interned as a Curatorial Assistant at a high-end contemporary photography gallery in Chelsea. It was that experience where I saw the disconnect for emerging artists, as only those with well-known connections and national or international recognition actually made it into the gallery. I realized how underrepresented many artists are, and saw that there was a need to be fulfilled. From there I decided to launch Maison Made as an alternative platform for emerging artists to gain recognition in their local market.

Currently, I am working on a range of journals for artists and creatives that focus on setting goals and intentions. The journals will be available through Maison Made. As for growth, I envision Maison Made to eventually become a co-working cooperative and rotating gallery space for our roster of artists. I have already seen so much momentum with Maison Made since launching in September of 2015 that I can see the expansion to a physical space in the near future.

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2. What are the biggest challenges you face day to day as a creative entrepreneur building your business?

I think the challenges I’ve encountered the most in building this business – and in my art work as well – is letting go of perfectionism. I won’t release a work until I feel it exceeds my own expectations. In my experience, it is our own perception of perfection that holds us back, and so the remedy for me is just getting the work out there. Placing a deadline on myself helps with that. It is scary at first, but once I let go of the idea of it being perfect and get it in front of my audience, I am always amazed with how it is received.

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3. What are the skills that you’ve cultivated throughout your life that help you in your work?

I think having to critique work in school is one of the skills that really made me a stronger artist. It also has made receiving critiques of my work a little less of a blow because I’m so used to it now.

I also put a lot of emphasis on aesthetics and I find that having a solid, cohesive brand is the strongest ambassador of the work you put out. A lot about branding and knowing what you want to convey through your brand is about looking inward at who you are, what your voice is and how to translate that in your business.

Finally, I’ve cultivated skills that have absolutely nothing to do with my work, and somehow I’ve been able to incorporate those skills into my work in some way. An example that comes to mind is, I worked as a retail merchandiser, and before becoming a merchandiser I didn’t know the first thing about using a drill. It kept me from landing an internship at a gallery actually. After I started working at this retailer, I became really good at cutting signage and using an impact driver (not to mention, I felt really cool to be that chick with a drill.) After learning how to wield one decently, a year later I had the opportunity to let the curator know what I had learned as a merchandiser, and ultimately she allowed me to come work for the gallery I had initially been turned down for. So, I think learning as many skills as possible, even the most far out will eventually give you leverage in your work.

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4. When you’re not working, what are you up to? Projects, Fun Stuff, etc.

When I am not working, I am more than likely at a music festival hula hooping, or at a coffeehouse trying out the most exotic blend I can find (I stumbled upon lavender lattes last year, changed my life.) I recently also got into aromatherapy, and have been learning everything I can about it from my friend and owner of Morphologically, Melissa McGill. She makes these rad candles, (but you knew that already.) I also am working on a solo pop-up show of my body of work; Botanical Luminary. The work is based on botanicals and abstractions. I hope to have this show confirmed by mid-summer.

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5. What are your words of wisdom for other people (or perhaps your 5 years younger self) on how to chase your dreams and work hard to get to a fulfilling place in work and in life?

Take every opportunity you possibly can to either learn something really intriquing or to get your work in front of someone. You have no idea who you may meet, that may very well change your life, or how learning something unusual may lead you into new experiences. Our time is so limited, and so I say pursue what makes you the absolute happiest. If you have to take a 9 to 5 – which most of us do – make sure you have a side project. Your side project often times becomes your main project over time as it can bring more joy and fulfillment than what we are doing currently. Maison Made started out as a side project for me, It’s now a huge part of my existence and I love every moment of it.

6. What are the 5 items you can’t live without?

Coffee, or more specifically, espresso.

My Canon 5D Mark II Camera.

An amazing candle. Shout out to Morphologically.

A great mixtape. I’m all about Kaytranada.

Flowers. I’m not ashamed to say I buy them for myself.

 

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For more on Dawn Marie West and Maison Made NYC visit www.MaisonMadeNYC.com.

All Photos by Dawn Marie West.

 

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Kassandra Nicholson Jewelry

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Kassandra Nicholson and I worked together to brand her namesake jewelry business, a line of unique and powerful handmade pieces—talismans that act as emotional armor for the wearer—that I am overjoyed to have seen take wings and build the following that it deserves. Kassandra is a true creative; whose energy inspires me to keep writing, even on those days (as with today’s blustery and steely grayness) when taking a long nap seems favorable to turning out another story. Her stunning works flow outwardly, seemingly without much effort. But, of course, as with any artistic entrepreneur, there is a great deal of effort behind the making of her gorgeous pieces. I was lucky to be able to pick her brain a bit on her creative process, so read on!

May these pearls of wisdom that she shares below—for this week’s installment of Wisdom Wednesday—kickstart your day and toss a log on the inner fire that may be dwindling in mid-Winter’s wake.


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1. What is your morning routine as it relates to your designing? 
I’m a night owl, so my mornings are laid back. I take a long walk with my dog around the neighborhood, stop for coffee, and soak up the surroundings. Williamsburg is full of personality, like a giant canvas for artistic expression. By mid-afternoon, I’ve made it to my workshop with good creative energy; it balances the solitary aspect of focusing on the bench.

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2. What is your advice on harnessing the intense energy of New York City and not letting it overwhelm your creative process?
I’ve always been drawn to things with a darker, grittier undertone, and my dry sense of humor keeps it fun. I find the city’s intensity endlessly entertaining: the graffiti, the sporadic shouting, the limitless stories. That said, I think most New Yorkers have a secret spot to gather their thoughts… mine would be my building’s rooftop, or the boulders where the East River meets Brooklyn.
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3. What would you advise a younger person (or even a younger version of yourself) on how to follow your dreams?
Artistic people seem to attract a great deal of advice, so it’s important to have your own strong vision to follow, for your own satisfaction. One of my best choices has been to surround myself with mentors whose work I admire. As a jeweler, New York is an ideal place to learn from others in the industry. The more you understand your medium, the more confidence you will have creating with it.
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4. Where do you look first for inspiration in life and in your craft?
I usually start with the places I’ve found inspiration before. Things I’m grateful for existing, like California’s beach towns, Africa’s wildlife, or New York’s history… I instinctively want to carve that feeling into a design, and have it become a part of my work.
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5. What are the 5 items you can’t live without?
My passport. If I’m not traveling, I am daydreaming about the next place or remembering the adventures I’ve collected.
An open seat at the counter of a café nearby… like Zinqué in Venice Beach, or Black Brick in Williamsburg.
A worn-soft beach sweater to keep me warm on a creative day.
An animal sidekick: my Boston Terrier, Lily.
Layers of too much jewelry: a mix of souvenirs, special gifts, and things I’ve made.
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Learn more about Kassandra and shop her designs at online at KassandraNicholson.com
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The Power of the Mood-Board

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My mom used to keep one tucked inside the inner pages of her work agenda. It had mostly pictures of my father and me, some pictures of beautiful homes that she cut from magazines and of course pictures of far-flung locales that she would one day travel to. She has since traveled to them, because that is the power of the mood-board.

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Oprah suggests that you create your board using images of your hopes and dreams and that, somehow (magically), the act of you cutting out photographs from a magazine and taping postcards to a piece of paper or tacking it to a framed piece of cork manifests your destiny and actualizes your aspirations. Philip Lim collages images of galaxies, cacti, exotic flowers and shaggy rabbits and it leads to the season’s most coveted runway looks. That is also the power of the mood-board.

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My personal recipe is simple: mix in equal parts happy memories and fanciful wishes, add some photos of loved ones, tack up quotes and excerpts that help to guide your journey, make it image heavy and always leave a bit of blank space on the canvas for tomorrow’s daydream.

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Just as I began this winter, hunkered down with some of my favorite ladies at our solstice & chill, I plan to revel in this weekend’s pending blizzard with some expressive mood-boarding. It’s been a season full of sacred nesting, craft and collage and there is no reason to stop now with temperatures dropping.

Happy snowstorm!

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Jewelry Awards Season

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This Friday kicks off the jewelry awards season with the annual Gem Awards held by the Jewelers of America in New York City. Tomorrow we head to the Waldorf Astoria for the 24 Karat Club Gala and, finally, Sunday is the 2016 Golden Globes–a veritable smorgasbord of glimmering eye-candy!

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Tonight’s Gem Awards is much closer to my heart than in past years, as the master Sevan Bickaci has been nominated for a prestigious award. We will all be holding our breaths as the announcement is made for the GEM Award for Jewelry Design!

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In other exciting jewelry news, the designer Kassandra Nicholson with whom I worked to brand her newly launched collection, Kassandra Nicholson Jewelry, was just featured on GemGossip.com. Danielle of Gem Gossip has an incredible way with the stunning jewels she photographs and styles on the site and she was an absolute pleasure to work with as always. Both of these ladies make me excited to be a part of this industry and I wish them all of the best in 2o16. Be sure to check out both GemGossip.com and KassandraNicholson.com for more!

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And, it wouldn’t be a true round-up of the best of the jewelry world if I didn’t speak to my true gem-love Anthony Lent. With a newly launched website and a complete branding makeover, Anthony Lent is set to take 2016 by storm. And, what better symbol of soaring to new heights, than the gilded wings pictured above in the newly designed Flying Heart Ring. All of Anthony Lent’s winged pieces are in the spotlight this month, so visit us on Instagram to keep up on the #TakeFlight series.

Now, it’s time to get dolled up and kick off the weekend in our black-tie best!

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