Category Archives: holiday

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! ūüėČ

 

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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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heliamphora

 

brightcups

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!

 

#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 РI 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.

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I hope everyone’s holidays were wonderful! It was a VERY busy month in the lands of television and the arts – numerous gallery openings, luncheons, parties, & parades – I was definitely ready for a much needed break!

I ended up taking the afternoon off of work the Monday following Christmas in order to go to Jeju, the Korean bathhouse, and to get my hair done by my friend & stylist extraordinaire, Rami, of Ludlow Blunt in NYC.

Jeju was, for lack of a better word, amazing. While savoring a bowl of deliciously spicy ramen, I texted my boyfriend that we were just going to have to have a long-distance relationship; I was never leaving the spa.

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spicy ramen & kimchi!

Upon entering the bathhouse, one goes into the segregated locker rooms and undresses, either staying nude to go to the wet area or putting on the traditional Korean spa clothes in order to sit in the communal saunas. Attached to the locker rooms are the steam & cedar saunas, the massage, body shampoo, and hip bath areas, and the cold, medium, and hot tubs. I considered being brave and stepped into the cold bath first – quickly regretted that and went off to find much warmer temperatures. Few things are as liberating as being completely naked with a bunch of other strangers. Having posed nude for painting classes, I was already accustomed to it, but this was much more enjoyable (sorry, Tom!). Within the wet area, the steam jade sauna was by far my favorite part. A little hard to breathe at first, but once the steam started relaxing my ever-stiff and aching joints (hello, neuropathic pain & Gaucher disease), I was able to really inhale the aromatics and sweat it out. After realizing I was probably going to faint if I didn’t eat something, I threw on the regulations shirt and shorts and headed off for the common area.

As mentioned above, the ramen was straight up epic, and the side of kimchi didn’t hurt, either! And not only that, it was dirt cheap -$6! One of the best parts about the common area and restaurant was that the floor is heated. I am always, always freezing, so this was literally a warm welcome. After satiating my appetite, it was off to check out each sauna. The jade, charcoal, and baked clay saunas were slightly smaller and not quite as hot, though they each came with their own benefits – helping to increase¬†metabolism & circulation, relieve arthritis pain, eliminate toxins and build up resistance to disease, and flush out impurities & release dead skin cells.

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charcoal sauna

I then moved on to the larger, more intense kiln saunas: Rock & Salt, Gold & Silver, & Jewels. The Rock and Salt room, full of pure crystal rock salt, is  utilized to relieve stress and tension, the Gold and Silver room is supposed to help with nerve stability, and the Jewel room emits calmness and healing powers. I definitely felt some release in the Rock & Salt room, and the Jewel room helped me cleanse both my mind and body.  They were all so relaxing that it was hard to decide in which one to spend the most time!

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Rock & Salt room

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sweating out the toxins in the Gold & Silver room

Unfortunately, I hadn’t brought a bathing suit in order to take advantage of the heated, saltwater Jade swimming pool, but that didn’t stop me from dipping in a toe. I’ll be hitting it up next time, for sure! I also peeked into the Ice room -had to try it all, you know? That was definitely NOT for me. After a brief appearance there, I ducked back into the Jewel room to warm up again!

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how beautiful is that pool?!

Being on a deadline to meet Rami, I couldn’t spend as much time as I would have liked there, though those few hours were definitely magical. Next visit, I plan to stay overnight (it’s $25 for 24 hours -WHAT!), nap in the sleeping rooms, add on some extras, and really just let go. One of my best friends is flying into Atlanta next week and will be visiting Jeju while there – I am Jade green with envy!

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stone starburst

 

Detoxing and purifying at Jeju helped wash out the last bits of 2015 (I even washed out my hair color by having Rami dye it blonde!) and prepare me mentally, emotionally, and physically for 2016. So far, it’s been looking pretty damn good (even with Mercury Retrograde!) Happy New Year, friends! xo!

Bostonland

So many Boston Terriers! While visiting Nicole in Olympia, I got to meet her two Boston babies,¬†Lucille Marie¬†and Kumba, Rosie’s BFF and boyfriend, respectively. LM is kind of a celebrity, having been on the cover of magazines and the winner of many photo contests, so it was a pretty big deal! She’s a feisty little fireball, and bosses her much bigger son, Kumba, around all day!

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Sweet Kumba!

Kums wears the most adorable bow ties-both pups are always in their Sunday best, and that day was no exception. Lucille even got a package of new dresses while I was there!

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Lucille & her mama, Nicole

Nicole and I made sure to dress appropriately, as well: Boston-themed clothing so everyone would know we were crazy dog owners when we went exploring!Surprisingly, only one person asked about our clothes – she inquired as to whether or not something was going on with our dogs that day. We replied that there is ALWAYS something going with them!¬†On our way into the city, we stopped at her neighbor’s house and found ourselves a Wee. Willie, aka “Wee,” is another Boston who lives down the street from her and who often spends time at her house. He is soooo cute – I’m going to go back and steal him!

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WEE!

During our trip to the¬†Farmer’s Market, we stumbled upon a craftsman¬†who forms displays out of metal. Not only was there a Boston, but a Basset Hound one, too! I would have gladly bought both, had I had enough room in my carry-on to take home.

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Needed this for my garden!

When we got back to the house, we were pleasantly surprised by the appearance of yet ANOTHER Boston. Moose, another of Lucille’s children, had come to visit! Moose decided he was going to hide in the laundry room, as he was a little nervous. The only pup missing that day was Lulu, Lucille’s daughter, who was at home with her family. Four snuggly Bostons in one day, though! It was almost too much to handle!

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Moose, a little Nervous Nellie

Naturally, we had to exchange Boston presents. Nicole gifted Rosie a super cute dress and shirt, and some socks for me! Boston Terrier owners will buy ANYTHING with a BT print on it. ANYTHING. And we will stop at nothing to get it all!

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presents for my well-loved rescue pup

When Nicole came down into Portland that following Monday, we got to stop in the best dog shop,¬†Lexi Dog, and got our babies a few items. If you are looking for the perfect outfit for your pup, they really have the best collection. I picked up a little t-shirt that I felt adequately described Rosie’s sentiments toward me on leaving her for several days.

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bad-ass Rosie

Now that the holiday season has arrived, we’re starting to collect little trinkets for our Boston friends. More importantly, we will be giving back to the shelter pups (and kitties!) who won’t get to enjoy the luxuries of presents, special treats, and warm houses. One cause that is near and dear to our hearts is that of our Instagram friend,¬†Booger Dawg. They’ve fallen on hard times and desperately need our help while stuck in the frosty Colorado snow. Please donate or send any items you can! Their GoFundMe account can be found¬†here. It’s imperative to remember that this could happen to any of us at any time, and we should always help when we have the resources to do so. Rosie and I hope you will join us!

Killer Tofu*

Before continuing to write about my PDX trip, I want to share with you some of the goodies I’ve been making! As a slight chill has begun to whisper its way into the season, it has moved me to create some warm dishes, full of rich color & flavor. I’ve been particularly fond of using fresh rosemary in both savory and sweet fare this past month. Having a kitchen stocked full of fresh herbs makes daily cooking even more enticing!

Root vegetables have taken center stage for me this Autumn. After enjoying a summer full of beet and peach caprese, it’s now time to slice up the beets -golden & red- and roast them with garlic, sweet potatoes, and carrots. I’m a big enthusiast of “eating your colors,” and there’s no better way than a jewel-toned dish like this one! Toss with fresh sage, parsley, oregano, and rosemary, and you’ve got some beautiful and delicious side dishes.

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roasted sweet potatoes, beets, & garlic with fresh parsley, sage, & oregano

An added bonus-they are completely vegan options! Another pantry item I can never have enough of ¬†is olive oil. From sauteeing a mirepoix for soups and sauces to drizzling as a final touch on top of tomato pies, olive oil is one of those perfect ingredients that brings a recipe together. Not only that, it’s one of the healthiest fats you can eat! Nourishing for your hair, heart, skin, cognitive abilities, etc, it’s just about an ideal food.

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carrots & beets roasted in balsamic, olive oil, & rosemary

Root vegetables don’t have to be just roasted to be enjoyed – I’ve been using them for cozy soups, as well. I enjoyed a homemade parsnip soup in Michigan last Christmas, and decided to try my hand at my own version. This one included carrots, sweet potatoes, and apples, spiced with fresh ginger, tumeric, thyme, & roasted pepitas. Served with a steaming cup of mint tea (also fresh from the garden!), it’s an excellent meal to serve up on a grey, rainy day.

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root soup prep!

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finis!

What’s a dinner without dessert? I always, always have room for something sweet, no matter how big the dinner! I’ve been really in the mood for brownies lately, and instead of brightening them up with mint or orange, I made some with rosemary and sea salt. The recipe¬†I found for these makes a chewy, wonderfully dense (I am not fond of cake-y brownies) brownie that surprises you with it’s hint of chili powder. Drizzled with dark chocolate and sea salt, the flavors compliment each other amazingly well. I did worry that the rosemary would make them taste…weird…but it was actually a pleasant surprise! The rosemary and chili powder heighten each other’s flavor profiles, while the dark chocolate balances them with it’s rich sweetness. These were dairy-free but they did contain eggs. I haven’t tried making them with an egg substitute yet, so if you do, let me know what works best!

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rosemary sea salt brownies

I really, really love the art of food – from the act of creating something delicious to sharing it with others. It doesn’t matter how tired I am after a full day of work, I still love to go home and immerse myself in the soothing process of making something from scratch. The change in the weather brings about a welcoming change in the process, too. It can be a little more complex as we begin to fill our refrigerators full of comfort food rather than the summer’s simple, freshly picked fruits and veggies, but the dishes created quietly warm your bones and your soul. Plus, who isn’t enticed by one’s kitchen becoming an indoor garden, those lush herbs begging to be eaten?

*props to anyone who gets the title reference!