Category Archives: exploring

This is What Democracy Looks Like

What a wild two and a half months. In January, some friends and I attended the Women’s March on Washington, which was, for lack of a better word, surreal. We were so fortunate so be apart of “herstory,” and hear from many of the people who have stood up for women’s rights throughout the past 40+ years. Here’s a brief rundown of that weekend:

The night before the march, I visited with my dear friend and fellow activist, Christin, and stood in line for three hours  – yes, you read that right – to pick up some souvenirs from a special pop-up shop. The camaraderie in line was incredible – we shared pizza and stories, and drivers honked and cheered in support of us. I was interviewed by a Danish journalist for Jyllands-Posten, and it was pretty cool to hear his perspective. Jorgen had spent some time in Georgia at Jimmy Carter’s home, and was eager to talk about his experiences with the former President. img_0523

After the pop-up, I stopped in a bookstore whose name I now forget, and picked up a copy of Our Bodies, Our Selves from 1972 – hand stapled and everything! The record cafe nearby, Songbyrd, was pretty cool, too, but I resisted the urge to buy any vinyl, due to difficulties getting it back home.

My friend, Bridget, hosted me at her house with her sweet corgi puppers, Pebbles and Skylar, and has the most comfortable bed EVER. She also spoiled me rotten with her amazing cooking! I had to get up pretty early Saturday morning to take the Metro into the city to meet Liz, her daughter, Abby, and their friend, Aleia, and it was none too easy get out of that comfy bed. Nevertheless, I did, and with a bit of trepidation for what the day might bring. The Metro ride was eerily quiet, with us marchers gearing ourselves for the day. Once we hit our stop, however, it was mind-blowing to see the amount of other people getting off with their signs, hats, and jubilance.

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Liz and I had to meet a reporter from my station’s DC Bureau for an interview and in a sea of hundreds of thousands of people all gathering in the same place, this was no easy feat! We found each other and ultimately landed in a prime location for the event.

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Liz being interviewed by Gray Reporter, Peter Zampa

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Gloria Steinem

 

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Angela Davis

Again, we stood for hours. But it was so worth it. We shared snacks and helped each other see better, and supported each other in general. Mid afternoon, we finally began to march. Onlookers cheered from the promenade of the Newseum, and people came from every direction. I cannot stress how many people were there – they took up every.single.street. We opted to stop at the Washington Monument, rather than continue to the White House, as it was already so late and we were pretty much starving at that point. Marchers left their signs on the lawn, and it was a sight to see.

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Exhausted, but fulfilled, we went on the hunt for food and ended up in a Greek restaurant in Alexandria. Every. single.place was PACKED.

I spent the rest of the weekend visiting the US Botanic Garden, the National Women’s Party Museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and a brief stop at the National Gallery. I also had the pleasure of meeting my mom’s old college friend and art historian, Peter Lukehart, and had the most delicious lavender hot chocolate ever. My bff, Crystal, and her other bff, Catherine, had come into town and we spent a weird night at an underground goth dance party, because why not? Photos from the rest of the weekend will be saved for another post.

Just when I thought things would be back to normal, a month later, Liz and I found ourselves with Maxine Waters, Jehmu Greene, Tom Perez, Bob Bland, and Howard Dean at the DNC Winter Reception. Saving that story for another blog post, as well!

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summer wine

July was wild. It’s my favorite month because we make our annual trip to Hilton Head, the days are rife with summer storms, the gardens are overflowing, and there are many celebrations. This July was particularly full, as we enjoyed the beach, drove into Savannah, toasted a friend’s engagement, and then I flew off to Philadelphia and New York for the DNC and to see two of my best friends. Now that I have a month off from the 2nd of my 4(!) jobs, I will have some time to catch up and actually write! While I get everything in order, here’s a sneak peek through photos of what is to come.

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sunsets at Hilton Head

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sunday morning tea blending

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trespassing through a nearly demolished recording studio in Savannah

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vegan blueberry banana bread

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twilight hour engagement parties

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the shakespeare garden in central park

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celebrating the success of nominating HRC as the first female candidate of a major party

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thrift store finds & birthday surprises

Fingers crossed I can get on a regular schedule here! 😉

 

West or Bust

Where to begin! I got really lucky in February and found an amazing price on tickets into LA, on which I just couldn’t pass. Double that luck when my parents’ best friends said I could stay with them during my visit! They live right around the corner from Mt. Baldy, which is a simply stunning mountain. Passion fruit smoothie in hand (assimilated quickly to the West Coast!), I headed up the mountain with Jim my first morning to take in some views. It’s pretty amazing to go from 70 degree weather to snow in just a matter of minutes. Aside from the natural amenities, the village of Mt. Baldy actually has a lot to offer, including a Zen lodge, a museum, and restaurant. It’s such a great escape that’s a mere 5 minutes away from the rest of civilization. I wouldn’t mind having that in my backyard!

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view from Mt. Baldy

I spent the rest of the afternoon in Sherman Oaks with my friend, Shannon, looking at pups up for adoption at the local animal shelter, and driving into LA. Shannon and I have been friends since our art department days in college, and it was so nice to get to catch up with her and hear about her plans for the future.

I was eager to find a cute little store I follow on Instagram called Pygmy Hippo Shoppe. It really is the most darling, tiniest shop ever! I picked up a few goodies for my pen pals, a Heinz pickle pin for my pickle-hating boyfriend, and found a pink vintage AKC rosette for my Rosie. This is the perfect shop for finding a unique, one-of-a-kind gift, and fortunately, they are online, too! I’m still eyeing their heart printed rain bonnets…

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just look at those adorable bonnets!

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souvenirs from Pygmy Hippo Shoppe

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mural by Chris Uphues

We drove through Beverly Hills and Laurel Canyon on the way back to Sherman Oaks,  hitting up Melrose, Sunset, and Mulholland Drive, among other notable streets. It had rained a bit that afternoon, and California drivers canNOT deal, haha. It’s like when we southerners get snow flurries and the city shuts down. Bree made the joke that instead of locals running to the store for bread and milk like they do here, they rush out for bread and soymilk. Ha! I will say, however, that California drivers are so great. As long as your blinker is on, they will let you over, and move out of the way to help. While rush hour traffic does suck, they just deal with it and are straight up nice about it.

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Shannon and I getting caught in the rain ❤

I closed out the day with dinner at Loving Hut with Beth, Bree, and the kids. Vegan cheeze sticks, steamed dumplings, & chocolate chip “cheese”cake! Yum! I always knew I’d be able to eat in California!

The next day there was to be a meet-up at the dog beach in Newport. Though it sounds like something I would do, I actually did NOT plan my trip around seeing a dozen Boston Terriers, hahaha. I just got lucky that the first meet-up of the year coincided with the weekend of my vacation, and I was absolutely going to take advantage of it to meet some of Rosie’s friends! Plus, I wasn’t going to turn down the chance to go to the beach and stick my toes in the Pacific Ocean! Get ready for an overload of BT photos….

Sweetheart Day, pt. 2

I’m very lucky to have a partner who humors me when I say that we should go to the Korean spa and get naked with a bunch of strangers. Being a nude model, I don’t mind shedding my clothes around people, and this is a far more relaxing (and warmer!) way to do it. Naturally, Jeju has segregated locker and bath areas, so we were only able to go to the large saunas and restaurant together. Even then, I like to be as warm as possible, so while I spent much of my time in the Rock & Salt sauna & the steam rooms, he prefers cooler temperatures and enjoyed the frigid meat locker known as the Ice Room. Off our separate ways we went!

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restoration in the Jewel Sauna

Once most people pulled out their mats to go to bed, we headed back to the hotel. At only $25 for 24 hours, I’d have no qualms about staying overnight! But, it was nice to fall into that big king-sized bed, replete with fluffy pillows and hotel amenities. The hotel in which we stayed was a childhood favorite, full of gardens inside and out – including a little Japanese one! We overslept, but still had plenty of time to get in all of our planned excursions before heading home. We hit up The High first, where we were pleasantly surprised to find free admission due to a big family festival they were having that day. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the museum that crowded! It’s nice to be able to go there and the Columbia Museum of Art and experience all the different events both museums have to offer.

I’m a big fan of the American and Folk Art wings, and had to take the opportunity to snap photos of work by some of my favorite artists – Bill Traylor, Joseph Stella, and Howard Finster, just to name a few. I’ve got my eye on a Bill Traylor anthology, as well as a Walker Evans one they have for sale in the museum shop. They may have to come home with me on our trip to see the Basquiat exhibit!

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“The Lion and the Bear”

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close-up of “Purissima,” Joseph Stella

After the museum, we grabbed a quick lunch from the food carts positioned outside of the Woodruff Arts Center (a veggie burger & plaintains for me, pasta and spicy meatballs for him!) and skipped down the road to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The Tropical Rotunda is just full of the most perfect plant species, especially all of the varietals of Philodendrons.

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I’ve never been one who favors photographing flora, but I have to admit that I do enjoy taking portraits of strange plants and curious leaves.

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a close-up from the High Elevation House

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your cliche “hand on plant/#liveauthentic” photo

During our visit, we delighted in the Nepenthes, or Asian Pitcher Plant, exhibit. I love love love carnivorous plants, and these were a sight to see!

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sweet nectar

 

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next painting subject?

I’m working on a couple of photo series’ right now, as well as some smaller watercolors for another project, and trying to decide which one I want to go with for an upcoming show in the Fall. Plant portraits are weighing heavily on my mind, and I certainly have more than enough photos from which to choose now!

Speaking of photography, my boyfriend is also a talented photo-maker, and he surprised me with an image of a really special moment. We went to a Clinton rally a couple of weeks ago, where we got to hear former President Bill Clinton speak, and I even managed to take a selfie with him! While taking said selfie, my sweet beau jumped on the risers and snapped a photo of us, and gifted me a print of it for the holiday. I ran around the station with it, proudly sharing it with everyone and anyone, and now have it hanging up behind my desk. It was such an honor to meet him, and to have that second captured in time truly is a treasure. #endgushing!

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You’re due for a Rosie post, so look for one soon highlighting the her souvenir from Philadelphia and her Valentine’s present. She’s also highly in need of a bath, so I may give you a glimpse into what a spa day looks like for her!

 

Sweetheart Day, pt. 1

This Valentine’s Day, we decided to get away from it all and headed to Atlanta for a quick, but relaxing, overnight trip. About a month ago, I had booked an appointment with Radiant Human at Young Blood Boutique to have my aura photographed, and couldn’t decide if I should just drive up for the day solo and then have a quiet Valentine’s Day at home or if the boy and I should go together and explore. We like a challenge, so we decided to go for it and pack in as much as we could in those 24 hours!

Our first stop was at Argosy so I could get my cards read by my friend, Katie, of Psychic Joy. She was eerily accurate in December, and I was curious as to what she and the cards had to say a couple of months later. She was right on the money again! You should definitely check her out during one of the Argosy Swaps, and take a look at her goods at Psychic Joy Shop.

Surprisingly, I had overlooked Young Blood each time I was in the Highlands, always spending the afternoon in Highland Row Antiques digging for records, jade dishware, & vintage adornments. Nutmeg Vintage is without a doubt my favorite booth, so give her some love next time you’re there! As for Young Blood, they carry almost all of my favorite brands – Mudpuppy CeramicsNative Bear, Portland favorites Betsy and Iya & Imaginary Authors, & Group Partner, just to name a few. I managed to get away without causing too much damage, with a long-coveted tee from Otherwild, some chocolate from Compartes, and the most adorable plum-flavored lolly from A Secret Forest.

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also shown: a lovely labradorite I picked up for some extra good energy

I’ve been dying for one of Michael’s All-Seeing Eye Hand Amulets, and now I’m obsessed with his decal adorned skulls, particularly the boob one! Seems like it would be pretty perfect for my desk at work, no?

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Getting my aura photographed was all that I hoped it would be. Christina is so kind, and she took the time to explain what the colors of each person’s aura meant. The purple/violet color at the top represents my consciousness – being a visionary who is  unconventional, non-judgmental, playful, loves to be inspired and delight others. The red right represents the exterior, the energy pushing out, or how the world sees me – strong with great will power, someone who looks to new beginnings, leadership, action, and practicality. It is encouraged to get plenty of exercise and get into nature to achieve balance. As for the lower left-hand, that represents how I see the energy coming in, or the lens in which I view the world – a blue color stands for depth of feeling, trust, devotion, loyalty, nurture, personal relationships, supportive, intuitive, and sensitive, and it is recommended to pursue creative endeavors. I’d say that’s me in a nutshell!

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Christina is based out of Portland, but is constantly on tour photographing auras. I urge you to check her dates and see if she will be in a city near you so you can do this, too! It is an experience I will always treasure – and definitely not a bad start to a lovely Valentine’s Day weekend! Next up, Jeju, the High, and the Botanical Gardens!

Motownphilly’s back again

I’m super hungry today and all I can think about is the amazing food I ate in Philly. Because Crystal works at VStreet, that was my first stop the night I arrived, where, as I mentioned previously, she had saved me a soft serve “Cruise Ship:” piña colada ice cream with chunks of pineapple upside down cake and a cherry on top. It’s seriously what dreams are made of – vegan ice cream perfection!

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cruise ship soft serve

After a day at the Mutter Museum and Chinatown on Friday, I met back up with Crystal at VStreet for dinner and I seriously thought they might have to roll me out of there. She hooked me up with some appetizers to start – mint chutney green beans with papadum and Peruvian fries with aji Amarillo, cilantro, dried olives, & peanuts. I could eat those fries everyday – not to say that I’ve ever met a potato I didn’t like BUT these were some of the best I’ve ever had. The Indian-spiced green beans had a really commendable flavor, as well.

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mint chutney green beans

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Peruvian fries

For my main course, I ordered the Korean fried tempeh tacos. Large pieces of tempeh were cradled by a soft tortilla and enrobed with radish kimchee, grilled tomato sriracha and sriracha thousand island dressing. I added some other sauces, whose names I forget now, but both of which added an extra kick of heat to the tacos. I’ve been imagining them all day! Perfect for a taco cleanse, eh? Even though I was pretty stuffed, I couldn’t leave without another dish of soft serve, and they sent me out some of their caramel popcorn, too. By this time, the snow had begun to fall and snowpocalypse was on the way, so I decided to get a cab back to the house in order to beach out on the bed and contemplate the bad decisions I make in life. 😉 The best part – all of it was vegan!

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jumping on the taco diet bandwagon

I love eating at local spots when visiting new places, and enjoying the most authentic food as possible. No chain restaurants for me! On my list of foods to eat was Polish or Russian food. Since we were snowed in and couldn’t get into NYC, we had to pass on Russian fare, but were able to hike over to Port Richmond for Polish dishes. The aureate decor included disco balls and the sound of Polish soap operas permeated the acoustics of the bar – New Wave Cafe was the very epitome of authenticity. Every Eastern European meal must have hot tea, and they fortunately had some chamomile (I’ve been caffeine-free for two years now!), so I imbibed on that while Crystal tried one of their Polish beers. We split some potato and cheese pierogis with sour cream to start and I was in absolute heaven. Coupled with the fact that The X-Files was to premier that night, it was just too much for me, and I may or may not have started crying over anticipation of the rest of our meal and seeing Mulder and Scully again.

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pierogi!

Crystal ordered stuffed cabbage (I love making a vegetarian, Lithuanian version at home) with a side of mashed potatoes and beet salad, and I got potato pancakes and sauerkraut, accompanied by sour cream and applesauce, of course. The beet salad was definitely the best I’ve ever had – sweet, tangy, sour, earthy, and savory. All the flavors balanced each other perfectly. I wish I had gotten some borscht, too!

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eastern european bliss

Because we traveled far and wide to eat, it didn’t take long to get hungry again. My next request was for some legit Italian food. Thanks to the snowstorm, a lot of places were closed, but we traversed through the Italian Market, anyway. Though on the hunt for spaghetti and/or pizza, Crystal took me to Rim Cafe, where Rene made me a $12 hot chocolate called a “Volcano.” I ordered the 80% dark chocolate ganache “Lava,” but I considered trying the mascarpone one! Topped with more ganache, dark and raspberry chocolate shavings, it was incredibly decadent. I also ordered a mini cannoli, but I’m sad to say that it wasn’t very good – didn’t even touch Deborah’s at Yo Pizza. Watching Rene make the hot chocolate while surrounded by “Godfather” paraphernalia was an experience, nonetheless. If I had had an extra $100 to spend, I would have tried them all!

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“Lava” (apologies for the out of focus photo)

We did end up finding some pizza and spaghetti to round out the evening, and my appetite was finally satiated. I’ve been thinking about those damn tacos all day, and seriously considering trying that taco cleanse – tacos every day can’t be that bad, right? RIGHT???

#WCW

I feel compelled to write a #wcw post as I just got back from visiting my favorite Mick, Crystal, in Philly. Though advised not to travel while Mercury was retrograde, I had booked my flight over a month ago and was not going to change it, and thus was lucky enough to be engulfed by snowstorm Jonas. I was actually looking forward to it – I always enjoyed the snow in Detroit, and seeing as how we rarely get it in the South, it was a fun experience! That said, trekking through 2 feet of snow for approximately 6 miles each day was definitely challenging. Crystal gets a special s/o for putting up with my ass for insisting we travel 45 minutes to get Polish food across town, getting naked in the snow, and hoofing it through the city to sled down the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

After getting off of work at VStreet (where Crystal saved me a cruise ship sundae, which I’m now craving constantly), we were both starving, so she took us to David’s Mai Lah Wah, where we promptly ordered everything off of the menu and destroyed the restaurant with duck sauce.

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right before she squirted duck sauce all over herself

I arrived on Thursday night, and had almost all of Friday to explore before the snow started. By Saturday morning, her roommate had to shovel out a path to leave the house and we began the search for warm beverages and brunch. The storm was intense – we might as well have been in the Eastern Bloc, the way everything looked.

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the virgin mary of south philly

After hemming and hawing as to whether or not we should go to the museum, we decided that we had to go, because why not? How many times does one get to sled down the famed “Rocky” steps? Since we weren’t able to get into NYC, we had to do SOMETHING. The expedition over there was a little daunting, but we were prepared with sledding materials and beer – all the necessities. Not only was the local ABC affiliate shooting footage, but The Weather Channel was at the museum as well! We could hear yelling and laughing several blocks away, as tons of people of all ages had come out to sled. Many thanks to the 90’s ravers who opened our bottles for us!

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the path to a Dateline episode

Once we got home, and because we have no boundaries and no shame, we stripped down and ran around naked in the snow with the cats for a few minutes. A space heater and down comforters have never felt better! After all of those shenanigans and multiple mile slogs in the slush, we pretty much collapsed for the night.

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assholes

Sunday night was a Very Important Night as it was the premier of the new season of “The X-Files.” I mean, I was legit crying over my pierogis earlier in the day in anticipation. I ordered us some Santucci’s while the wife set up the cable box, but of course, Comcast was fucked up due to the storm. It was nearly a disaster, but I luckily found a live stream on the internet and the crisis was averted, spaghetti enjoyed.

There will be a food post upcoming, as I still managed to eat some crazy good food despite Snowmageddon. The only thing I didn’t get to eat was a 31 cent pretzel (so sad, Ainsley!) BUT I will be back there in no time, and devouring one as big as my face.

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Thanks for letting me crash, Flanagan. Next time, I’m stealing Loaf.