Category Archives: magic

rebel, rebel

I don’t know about you, but I spent the entirety of my holiday break in pajamas, watching Netflix, baking cookies & cakes, and eating potatoes. Having spent the past several months working four jobs, volunteering, and earning As (!) in my classes, on top of the political nightmare that continues to unfold, disappearing for a few days was much needed. And yet, there was still that lingering feeling of being unsettled. I envy those who are able to get off the grid, who can carry on with their daily lives, not a care in the world – or for what’s happening in it. Unfortunately, it’s just not who I am and never has been. But there sure are times when I wish I could run away to some hidden cabin in the woods and pretend nothing else matters.

One of the more recent things  weighing heavily on my mind right now is this mass of celebrity deaths. I think everyone can agree that this has been quite a devastating year. The reality is, we don’t know these people – but we feel like we do. Celebrity deaths matter because these extraordinary people make an impact on our lives. The represent the beauty of escapism, characters we dream of being. Why do you go to a movie or listen to a song? For entertainment, yes, but often we go to get away from it all. We sit in a dark theatre or lie in bed, headphones on, and willfully surrender ourselves to another realm. Carrie Fisher’s untimely death resonated with a lot of people, I think, not just because of her trials in life, but through her characters on screen. Princess/General Leia, to generations of people – women, especially – represented strength, courage, and of course, hope. While those characteristics will live on, they’ll be tinged with a bit of sadness, as we wanted our heroine to live forever. We want the dream to live forever. Because of the fantasy provided on screen, the character became ours, the actress someone to whom we felt a connection. When we become engaged with a character, it is often because we see something of ourselves in that player, or endeavor to be like him or her. Even if it’s a cartoon, we may find ourselves thinking, “I want to embody those aspects,” or, “I do those things!,” and they provide reassurance of our own humanity. When you have stars like David Bowie or Prince, artists who owned their individuality, and who explicitly declared that it was okay -nay, GREAT- to be different, to be weird, they become our idols. They may live fantasy lives and project otherworldly images, but we watched them achieve those illusions by talent, yes, and also by challenging the “norm” and furthering the acceptance of diversity. Music, like film, transports us. Regardless of whether a song invokes a sad memory or a feeling of empowerment, there’s still that connection to the musician, that s/he is speaking directly to us, and therefore this magical, untouchable creature knows exactly what we feel. Again, the lyrics, the melody, and the message remain, but when the translator of said message ceases to exist, it can shake our very core. Celebrities often represent the things we often cannot do or say. When they die, our voices, through theirs, feel silenced. We mourn because we feel grateful. The person who watched Star Wars, knowing she would not be an actual princess saving a galaxy, became a politician, an advocate, a teacher – encouraging others to learn and find the fortitude to guide others. A voice. The person who may have been a terrible guitarist, but heard the call to create, to own that Flock of Seagulls haircut, became a designer, a store owner, an ally to others who felt like they didn’t “belong.”

So last weekend, as I watched Carol, Suffragette, Ghost World, Cafe Society, and binged on the entire season of Hello, My Twenties, I was thankful for that escape. Inspired by the historically-based and real-life characters of Carey Mulligan and Natalie Press, identifying with Steve Buscemi’s nerdiness, and motivated to go out for black bean noodles (we’ll be dining at a local Korean restaurant tomorrow night!) , these are examples of how celebrities and their art affected me in a span of a simple few days. Nothing particularly life-changing, but they made a small impact, and they helped me find some solace when the future can seem rather bleak. This is why the arts, and the lives who contribute to them matter. They afford us the ability to disappear, even if for a mere two hours. As Princess Leia said, they brought us “hope.” And for that, I am grateful.

rebel

 

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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! 😉

 

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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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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!

 

*Kawaii BB*

As every little girl in the early 80s, I was IN LOVE with Sanrio & Hello Kitty. My dream job was to wear the Hello Kitty costume at Sanrio Surprises in the mall (lofty goals, I know), and I distinctly remember being distraught over the loss of my “sea foam green” (the seven year old artist!) Little Twin Stars pencil. They were my favorite, alongside My Melody and Spottie Dottie, with Tuxedo Sam rounding out the group. Did anyone else watch Furry Tale Theatre on Saturday mornings? Wasn’t it the best?! I may or may not have bought the newer versions on DVD in the 2000s… 🙂

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my sweet mama surprised me with a stuffed Totoro last Valentine’s Day

Fast forward a few years to the English release of My Neighbor Totoro & life would be forever changed. I was fortunate enough to have a friend whose uncle designed stickers in Korea, and he would send us tons of Japanese and Korean stickers, with lots of Miyazaki ones included. Practically wearing out my VHS, all I dreamed of was living in a giant Camphor tree and eating bento boxes with that fluffy giant! I settled for collecting Bonsai trees and gobbling up noodles, though, and to this day, think of Totoro every time I pick up an acorn or see a soot sprite. A couple of years ago, Cine in Athens had a Miyazaki fest, and I finally got to see my beloved film on the big screen (although it was the newer, Disney dub which I do not love quite as much). It was hard not to cry, being able to experience a childhood favorite the way it’s supposed to be seen. One of my best friends, Karen, is also a huge Japanese/anime fan, and I recently lent her a copy of the film so she and her kids could watch it.  It’s been so rewarding to hear how much her little sprites love it as much as we do!

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special birthday presents!

Karen gifted me some Totoro items from Japan for my birthday two years ago, and we shared some snacks from Okinawa just recently. Making the food from all of our favorite Miyazaki films and a day full of Studio Ghibli screenings is next on the list!

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treats from Okinawa

Another one of my besties, Savanna, and I joke about “finding our people.” Thus, she is also a lover of all things Kawaii! When we went to see one of our most treasured bands, Eisley, back in October, we made sure to dress up in our “Lolita” best – braids, bun-buns, swan socks, gold shoes, ruffles, & pink! In our excitement, we neglected to get full photos of ourselves, but we did get a little one with Christie Dupree, so that’s what counts, right?! Savanna and I hit up our favorite local Asian markets last weekend to stock up on snacks and other necessities for making pho, rice bowls, and the like. My mom and I have always loved the strawberry & chocolate wafer sticks, but I picked up some ube flavored ones this time – and boy, are they are delicious!!! I did get some more strawberry ones, but the tin is not as cute as the one they’ve been in in the past. First world problems!

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strawberry wafer sticks and lychee candy from last year. also, these Sucre shop utensils!

Yesterday, I received one of the best things ever – my first Kawaii Box! This adorable company sends you 10-12 Japanese and Korean items each month from their shop, Blippo, ranging from brands such as SanrioPockyAlpacassoPony Brown, and, of course, Totoro! I was squealing with delight as I opened each item – the package arrived in perfect time, too, as I am getting ready to hop a plane to Philly and NYC to see my loves, Crystal & Zach, and now I will have a new coin purse, notebook, & stickers to take with me! At under $20/month plus free shipping, you just can’t beat receiving a pink and purple wrapped box in the mail each month full of the cutest treasures. Alongside these boxes, the company also has Japan Candy Box, a similar box full of sweets and treats – also under $20/month! Splendid gifts for the Kawaii lover in your life….or for spoiling yo’ self! Thanks so much, Kawaii Box!

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Kawaii Box + blush pink Kanken + Rosehound pins

It’s safe to say I am ready to visit PurolandHarmony Land, the Ghibli Museum, wander the luscious Biei lavender fields, hunt for Morizo & Kiccoro, and look for my very own Camphor tree. I also wouldn’t mind taking home a capybara! Rosie even has some friends in Japan – George & Mimi Shugasuki, to whom we would love to say hello!

幸せな一日、友人

Oh, Canada!

I’m so excited to finally be able to share more of our trip to Michigan & Canada with you! One of the ways I prepped for this trip was by collecting, if you will, shops and places to visit via the Instagram accounts of the makers and shakers of those who reside in those cities. One such creative is Megan Campagnolo, the designer behind Rosehound Apparel. Her sweatshirts, totes, & dresses make my heart race, and her Twin Peaks-inspired collection pretty much did me in this season. Through her account, I was hipped to Toronto store Victoire, one of the shops that carries her wares. Victoire also stocks such lines as Yo Sick and Falconwright, two other labels of which I can’t get enough. It was difficult to not go into straight fan-girl mode, as we walked into Victoire, but I tried to play it cool. The Birds of North America and Samantha Pleet dresses had me salivating, any of which would be perfect paired with the ‘Mild at Heart’ tote by Rosehound. Sit me down with a copy of Worn in one of those frocks and I’d be content for days!

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How great is that storefront?

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                “Black as midnight on a moonless night”

I was there with a mission, however, and that was to take home one of Megan’s new ice cream sandwich pins. I was eternally bummed that they were sold out, (but happy for her!), so I just got a Yo Sick pizza pin to add to my collection and the Rosehound Twin Peaks matches that are unavailable for mail order. Take that, customs! HOWEVER! Megan and I had been in touch via that lovely little social media outlet, Instagram, and had been trying to make plans to meet at her studio for coffee at some point. Matt and I ended up stopping by the next day where I was able to see that pink haired lady in person and purchase my coveted ice cream sandwich pin. Her studio is in Chinatown, and is pretty amazing. The snowstorm that was happening around us only added to the magic! Now, if I could only learn to be less awkward, I’d be set…

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                               Big snow in little China

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            Mastering the art of being socially awkward

One of my friends gifted me a super cute animé pouch from Korea when I got back home, and I decided to use that as a new home for my pin collection. Here, you can see my Rosehound pins and matches, the Yo Sick pizza pin, and an assortment of other goodies!

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Getting back to the topic at hand, Victoire was everything I imagined it would be. Toronto is amazing, especially when it’s 12 degrees and your hair is full of big, fat snowflakes. I keep trying to convince Matt that we need to move there asap!
Next up: my search for vegetarian poutine & visiting the dreamy Bicyclette!