Category Archives: lifestyle

Memphis in June

Or, at least, the South in June…

I can’t believe how quickly Summer is approaching – it’s been a busy Spring!

Between work (all three jobs, plus smaller side hustles!), my involvement with the Young Democrats of GeorgiaThe Young Democrats of Augusta-Richmond CountyThe Columbia County Democratic PartyRCSAS, school (all As, thank you very much!), and as a contributing writer for Live Your Dream, it’s pretty much non-stop all day, every day. I can’t really complain, though, as it’s all fulfilling, and on top of all of that, I also get to flex my creative muscles with weddings, cake baking, & personal writing, so the balance is starting to fall into place. Since my facebook and twitter feeds are already full of politics, I’ll not bore you here with it and instead share a few of the other things I’ve been up to over the past month and a half.

My mom and I went to the lavender farm in upstate South Carolina and came back with a plentiful supply! Lavender simple syrup was made first, followed by blackberry lavender jam, and I’m still filling jars full of dried lavender buds. The simple syrup was used to soak lemon cakes – one of which was for a Memorial Day low-country boil at a friend’s house and the other for Humanitree House.

 

img_2744

lavender infused lemon cake

 

Each cake was iced with a lemon buttercream and sprinkled with fresh lavender on top – all vegan, of course. I was really happy with how this recipe turned out – a nice combination of moist and fluffy, with just a hint of lavender that wasn’t overpowering.

Strawberry season started early this year (looking at you, global warming) and ended this past weekend, but I took as many opportunities as I could to hit up the u-pick. We’ve got jars of strawberry preserves stocking the fridge, which are even more delicious when spread on homemade strawberry loaf!

 

img_1883

freshly picked strawberries with honey from Duck Feather Herbs & handmade wooden spoon from The Hermit & Co.  plus mint from the garden

 

In between baking, I was fortunate enough to have two pieces of work published. The first was in WSU’s literary journal, LandEscapes, and the other was in a book produced by Weaver House Co. about textiles. There are still some books at Weaver House available, as well as some really beautiful weavings!

 

img_2787

 

There’s really nothing like fruits and veggies this time of year. We planted artichokes last summer, and they finally produced! I was SO PROUD of these delicious gals! It was *almost* too hard to eat them, but somehow, I managed. 😉

 

img_1680

 

One of my co-workers has backyard chickens and every Friday, she sells the most beautiful eggs. I don’t always eat eggs, but when I do (insert meme here), they are always fresh! Look at these pretty colors!

 

img_2254

 

I’m now salivating because blackberry season has finally started! I had wanted to pick my own, but they won’t let you do that at the farm with the strawberry patch due to snakes! Regardless, I got a bunch that were pre-packed, ready to make jams and cakes! The farm also has rows and rows of gladiola and zinnias and I can never leave without filling my car to the brim. I’ll save those for another post, though!

 

img_3028

ready to become blackberry lavender jam

 

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

blackberry champagne cake

 

Finally, with the premiere of the new season of ‘Twin Peaks,’ I had no choice but to make a cherry pie. I know I wasn’t the only one enjoying a slice!

 

img_2517

I suppose I should have made something for the latest season of ‘House of Cards,’ which gave me LIFE. Also, Robin Wright in ‘Wonder Woman’ is seriously the greatest thing ever. I could wax poetic about her right now, but then I’d end up crying (again) so instead, I’ll just daydream about owning the Antiope Barbie doll.

In other news that will be detailed in the next update, baby Iris turned 1 and we adopted an 11-year-old deaf Boston baby named Spanky, who I like to call Spankmaster Flash. He is just the sweetest and they are getting along swimmingly! All the heart eyes for my babies.

Fingers crossed I can knock out another blog post by the end of the month. I’ve got a wedding this weekend, and am super excited about the flowers we’ve ordered – plus, the site is incredible. Now, if only I could decide what cake flavor to make next…any suggestions?

 

 

Advertisements

bread and roses*

Since I’ll be baking a blackberry cobbler tonight for a friend, I’ve got dessert on the mind and thought I’d share some of the cakes I’ve made recently. I had a last minute order for a birthday cake this past weekend that was fun to do, as I was given carte blanche in regards to the filling. I used my beloved vegan Lithuanian white cake for the base, soaked the layers in a homemade lemon simple syrup, and enrobed it in a fresh strawberry icing. Because I was short on time, I opted to decorate it with strawberries and candied lemon slices, leftover from the lemons I used for the simple syrup.

img_0963

My jadeite cake stand is one of my favorites, and it always looks good with pink icing! The best part about cake-making is leveling the tops – delicious scraps for days! I inevitably have leftover icing, as well, so makeshift cake sandwiches are made frequently. I’ve yet to use the scraps for cake pops, as I’m still on the fence about those. I know that sounds weird, but THEY seem weird to me!

img_1045

The client I had before this one had requested a cake with a bohemian theme, with fresh flowers. She also wanted the white cake, but with fresh raspberries for the filling and icing – this happens to be my favorite combination, so I was quite eager to make it and lick the spoon!

img_5592

I really enjoy using fresh flowers as decoration, and will never tire of using roses and raspberries together. Again, the color palette of jade green & rose pink will never grow old…

img_1044

She also wanted a bit of the “naked cake” look, so the icing wasn’t applied on it too thickly.

img_1043

those flowers, tho!

We have “treat day” at the station each year which encompasses delicacies of both the savory and sweet variety,  and, naturally, I bring some kind of dessert. Last year I made a vegan dark chocolate yule log, but this year I decided to go with something a little simpler, and made a gingerbread cake with cream cheese icing and candied cranberries.

img_5198

We are savages at work when it comes to food, so the cake was gone within an hour, at best.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

holiday cake baby

Last, but not least, I made a dark chocolate cake for my former 😦 co-worker’s birthday. I don’t really like chocolate cake, and because I think they all taste bad, I can never gauge whether or not mine are okay, haha. Still looking for that perfect chocolate cake recipe, so if you’ve got one, PLEASE send it my way!

img_5012

Inspired by one of my friend’s love for violet-flavored candies, I’ve got violet simple syrup on the mind now, and am thinking of making that the star of my next cake. I’m also leaning toward a slightly tart, slightly sweet grapefruit and poppy seed cake – doesn’t grapefruit curd sound so good?!

*extra credit if you get the title’s reference!

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.

img_5680

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.

img_5684

Liz being interviewed by Gray Reporter, Peter Zampa

img_5698

Gloria Steinem

 

img_5735

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.

img_5751

img_5753

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!

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.

img_1644

sunsets at Hilton Head

img_1285

sunday morning tea blending

img_1654

trespassing through a nearly demolished recording studio in Savannah

img_1365

vegan blueberry banana bread

Processed with VSCO with f1 preset

twilight hour engagement parties

img_2436

the shakespeare garden in central park

img_2265

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

img_2577

thrift store finds & birthday surprises

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

 

Hotline Bling

So, Mercury is about to be Retrograde and I pretty much just want to cover myself in crystals and stay in bed until it subsides. But since I can’t reasonably do that, and have to go out in the world, I’m settling for decking myself out in wearable stones from some of the lady makers who are killing it in the gem world.

Two problems here: 1) I have stupid small fingers and wrists, and it can be challenging to find jewelry that fits. Bracelets are the worst, and I don’t find them very comfortable, anyway, but I do love rings. 2) After working for a high-end jeweler, and receiving perks and knowledge from that job, I find it difficult to shell out the cash for overpriced, mass-produced goods. What to do?

I can be found cruising Etsy most afternoons, searching for vintage goods, original designs, & apothecary elixirs, and it was through here that I stumbled upon Lazuli Handcrafted. Based out of Rhode Island, Erica creates sparkly baubles from raw gemstones to adorn your hair all the way to illuminating your fingers, and they won’t break the bank like all the overpriced commercial designers. These magical, electroformed pieces are just splendid – and better yet, she makes them in an array of sizes! Not all jewelers will make rings smaller than a 5, which can be disappointing, and because of the electroforming process, they cannot be re-sized, or have beads put in them. Finding a 3.75 is hard, so I usually just stick with a 4, giving my fingers some room to swell during these sweltering days. But I digress – the jewelry! I took advantage of her “Trio Tuesday” sale, and with Erica’s suggestions, picked out Herkimer diamond, emerald, and turquoise rings. Herkimer diamonds are great because they are ethical, conflict-free, and an ideal alternative to a real diamond. I’ve loved emeralds since seeing Return to Oz as a child, and who doesn’t relish a strong piece of turquoise?

img_8337

dainty gem trio with viburnum

I wear mine as a stack, but each one is unique and handsome enough worn on its own. I love the juxtaposition in Erica’s jewelry – delicately made bands supporting powerful, energizing stones. As mentioned, she creates more than just stunning rings: hair pins, earrings, necklaces – and she’s just released some Tibetan quartz chokers that this Leo is on the prowl for- you can practically feel the cleansing vibrations! I’m also highly lusting after her Herkimer Diamond 5 Stone Rings. What a great band! Any of you lovely ladies getting looking to get engaged? A single Herkimer diamond with the 5 stone band would be a flawless wedding set! Not into the whole marriage thing? Nbd – celebrate yourself with a few of these beauts!

When I have been able to tuck myself away indoors, I’ve been trying to channel the ominous energy from Mercury Retrograde and turn it into something good. I’m currently working on a Zodiac-inspired moon watercolor series, complete with – what else?- crystals! My muses are the minerals my guy and I brought home from a dig this past weekend, and, with paintbrush in hand, rings on my fingers, rocks by my side – I think I’ll be able to get through the next three weeks with little to no scarring. Even with 5 planets in retrograde this time, I feel like this one won’t be too bad. It’s a good time to slow down, reflect, and evaluate how we communicate with ourselves and the world. Best of luck to you all!

Review: Soft Focus Mask by Wildcare

It’s no surprise by now that I love a good facial product. When Wildcare announced they were introducing a new face mask made from pineapple extract, coconut milk, and pearl powder, I just had to try it! With each purchase of this new release, they were offering a sample of their Wild Melon facial oil, a little potion created from watermelon seed, black currant seed, ylang ylang, and other intoxicating scents – a perfect follow up to lock in the benefits of the face mask. One of the things I love about the face mask is that it contains only FOUR natural ingredients!

The Soft Focus face mask has a fragrance to it that takes you back to bright summer days, lounging by the pool, freshly-squeezed juice in hand. It’s a nice little pick-me-up for a grey, rainy day but also a splendid way to refresh on a hot, sunny afternoon.

image

Pearl powder has been used in China for thousands of years as both a dietary and beauty treatment. One of its benefits is that it can prevent the development of melanin, which is what causes freckles and dark patches due to sun exposure and aging. This is particularly helpful to me, as my Eastern European heritage has left me developing some hyper-pigmentation on my face as I age, and while I don’t hate it – it’s a symbol of who I am -, it’s nice to have a product that will help prevent it from getting out of control. I’m also a Leo-a fire sign, and a July baby, so summertime is one of my favorite seasons. This means spending as much time outdoors as possible, especially at the beach, and while I take precautions to protect my skin, one can never do enough. The pearl powder in this mask will help reverse any sun damage from those afternoons at the JCC and Hilton Head! It’s also extremely beneficial in preventative practices now, as I’m constantly out in the sun, tending to my gardens.

Combine this with pineapple extract, organic coconut milk powder (an added plus: it’s dairy-free!), and white kaolin clay, and you’ve got a face mask that will leave your skin feeling porcelain smooth.

Processed with VSCO with q4 preset

herbal tea, vintage peignoir, a weighty book, & a face mask = perfect evening!

As for the Wild Melon oil: I’ve added that to my morning routine, in between washing my face and smoothing on lotion. There’s always a bit of apprehension when applying an oil – will it leave my face looking greasy? But this one is quickly absorbed into the skin, leaving your face lustrous and soft.

I love that Wildcare is based on the therapeutic qualities of indigenous plants in the PNW, and a dedication to herbalism. That’s just another of the many things I love the most about the Pacific Northwest – everyone out there is so encouraging of their community, and creating & sustaining a beautiful environment. Being able to support brands like this is the best feeling – and now their Golden Hour body oil and Lemon Light hydrosol are next on my list of goodies to try!

 

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!

IMG_6609

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…

IMG_6632

just look at those adorable bonnets!

IMG_7113

souvenirs from Pygmy Hippo Shoppe

IMG_6653

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.

IMG_6650

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….