NYC Tag Archives

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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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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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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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.