new years resolutions: 2014


Just as I did last year, it's now the time for me to declare 2014 resolutions. I must say it's exciting for me to see this blog come full circle. Once again, I begin the yearly cycle. Before I ecstatically charge ahead, let's look back at how I did last year. In 2013 I set out on missions of kindness and self reflection. In some areas I held strong where in others I weaned off. I have to say that my yoga practice was pivotal. What would I do without that mat and those minutes set aside? Not only is my body stronger, but it also helped me become more accepting, the other side to my yearly mission. I've always been fairly open-minded, but sometimes my head would jump to judgement before I could stop it. Through deep breathing and a shift in mentality that sort of fell out of the picture. 

But what did I learn from it? Why be more accepting? By opening myself to more people I was able to see life through thick and thin. Life happens, we all choose our paths, but what it comes down to is love. You have to love people despite of what they are because that is all that will make things better.

Love towards a stranger presents itself in the form of a smile. Love towards a friend is accepting. And romantic love gives our souls safety. It's a place to retreat when things get hard, and a place to grow and be all that we're able. If you can love everyone around you, in whatever form, then the world will present itself in full force. I've found that rich experiences are more likely to come your way, and life takes on a quality that is much more fulfilling, positive, and happy. Love will always win.

Onto 2014, shall we?

(source: 1 // 2)

My New Years Resolutions - 2014
The Year of Sustainability

Here it is, guys, the year that I decide to lower my impact. I already eat mostly local and organic, I recycle, and I have LED light bulbs, but I also drive a car, shop like crazy, and use a washing machine. It's time to push myself to do better. I've laid out a few rules to get me started, and each month I'll be focusing on a new area of life to see how I can make it more environmentally friendly. 

1. I will not buy any brand new clothes except shoes and underwear. Vintage and second hand apparel is fine, but I want to avoid consuming new goods, and instead focus on recycling. 
2. I am no longer allowed to drive to work unless I am bringing the dog. Public transportation and my bike it is. 
3. If I can buy it locally, I am not allowed to order it online. When I purchase an item at a brick and mortar location, I figure resources are more economized in transporting it to my doorstep. Not to mention, I can find local producers who are working in an environmentally green way, and I can support them and the local economy. 

I promise not to turn into a smelly weirdo that no-one can relate to. Part of my goal is to show that we don't have to sacrifice who we are to lower our impact. I can't wait to share the ride with everyone, so be sure to follow along.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

battle of the oils


Above are some shots that I recently published over at Free People's BLDG 25 Blog. I loved them so much, I had to share them here as well. If you're interested in which oils you really should be buying at the grocery store, go check out the full article.

breaking the silence


Please excuse the silence, it has been a busy time of year! So busy, in fact, that the camera has really just been out for special projects. Above are outtakes from a shoot I did last weekend with NJ health food blogger, Alicia. That is all I can offer up for now, so I hope you enjoy. Promise to be back full force in the New Year!

my father


My father is a funny man, but oh how I love him for it. He has a passion for the miniature, and ever since I was a little girl he’s been a model train hobbyist. It’s insane, really. He builds these enormous setups, constructing mountains, buildings, and railways. Down to the last detail, everything is so lifelike. Little lights even change in the stop lights, and small people animate the town. He collects special engines, sometimes going as far as to pick up rare models when we go to Europe that aren’t available in the US. He puts a lot of work and time into building these little fantasy lands, and then he plays. As my mom preps dinner I linger at her side, and the whole time we hear the echo of steam engine hoots. Getting him to dinner (his second favorite thing after trains, is eating) is like ripping a child away from a brand new toy. Last time I was at home, we sat in the train room and watched him go at it. It’s funny to remember the days when I used to jump at the chance to help him build a miniature house, or to pick out people for the town. I remember those trips to the hobby store and the all-encompassing fantasy that would sweep you up. All grown up now, I may have lost a tiny bit of that feeling. The fact that my father has been able to maintain such an untouched imagination through the years is something very heartwarming to me. In a way, he’ll always be a kid. A very large, bearded, kid. I hope that a part of me will be able to follow in those footsteps.

These photos are of his most recent projects, taken over Thanksgiving vacation.

Love you, Babbo!

teapee amerindian herbal teas


This is simply the coolest tea packaging I've ever seen. Sadly, I think the actual brand does not exist. What I've gathered from my research is that Canadian student Sophie Pepin designed the line for a project. Very inventive, Sophie. From the name, "Teapee," to the way the packages open and the shape of the tea bags, I'm blown away. Now, when we actually buy it?

philadelphia's first snow


We had our first snow, everyone! Of course, I got a little taste when I went home for Thanksgiving, but it was still fun to have some more. Philadelphia got hit pretty well with eight inches. I had been planning to spend the day with friends, making a road trip to a town outside the city. Roads were crappy though, and plans had to change. We ended up heading to Greensgrow Farms to check out their Christmas trees and Holiday Bazaar. They did a great job getting one-of-a-kind local vendors into the space (if you live in the area, they have another one going on tomorrow & I highly recommend it!). I must say, I was very inspired. The rest of the day we hopped around Fishtown, warming up with soup, hot toddies, and good friends. I love how the snow brings people together for fun memories like that day. It may have canceled plans, but we built a whole new day instead.

weekly scenes


The indoors are getting cozy. Do you feel it?
Winter has moved her way in, making morning toast and heartfelt gifts all the more warming to the soul.
Not that I don't enjoy nature in winter. Oh, very contrary. 
She's quiet. She's exposed. She's beautiful.
But she's cold. And she circles her cool breeze around pockets of warmth, creating small cocoons for living creatures to find refuge.
Bright lights ignite rooms while snow crystals fall outside the window.
Four walls are a tightly wrapped blanket of love, light, and happiness.
Here, we find our comfort and what it means to be cozy.

jill bolte taylor - a good talk


I'm a TED Talk junkie. It's a self-proclaimed weakness, and I declare no embarrassment about it. With each talk my thoughts give way to something new. Not only while I'm sitting down to watch the talk, but also in the evening, weeks, and months to follow. TED Talks plant seeds in my brain that flourish into flowers of intellect and enlightened points of view.

Brain scientist, Jill Bolte Taylor, recently planted a couple of those seeds when I sat down to watch her 2008 talk, "My Stroke of Insight". In the talk, Jill delivers an animated recount of a stroke she experienced in 1996. She went through a hemorrhage in her left brain that caused the hemisphere to shut off. She became a human being operating solely on right brain capacity.

Both sides of our brain have very different functions. They process information in different ways, think and care about different things, and have their own view of the world. Our right brain focuses on the present moment. It thinks in pictures, learns kinesthetically, and experiences the world through an influx of sensory information, or what Jill calls, energy. The left brain lives in the past and the future. It takes the collage of energy brought in through our right brain, picks out the details, associates them with what we’ve learned in the past, and projects into the future all of our possibilities. The left brain also thinks in words, where the right brain does not.  

The experience opened Dr. Taylor up to something new. As a right brain human, she lived entirely in the moment. Anxiety, what I consider to be, “fear of what could happen,” is an illness of the future. It was gone. Living in the moment, she could feel her brain talking to the rest of her body, telling her muscles, “contract, relax.” She looked down at her arm, and could no longer define the boundaries. The atoms and molecules of her being blended in with the atoms and molecules of the wall. Because she could no longer tell where she ended and where the outside world began, she felt enormous and expansive. She was at one with all the energy that was. She felt, euphoria.

One can’t help but think of meditation and yoga when listening to Jill’s account. I realized, all who are enveloped in the world of yogic spirituality are shooting for one thing: to quiet their left brain hemispheres. The goal is to turn off the chatter, the words, and just be. We leave the left hemisphere to sooth anxieties of the future and calm remembrances of the past. So often you hear in yoga class to, “notice how your body feels.” You pay attention to the breath and how it moves through your entire body. By focusing deeply on physical sensations we are able to live in the present moment. The rest of the world is left behind, and it is just us on the yoga mat, at one with the music, the classroom, and those in it. The yogic philosophies teach that we are all connected – to each other and to the world around us. All of the mental abilities that we are striving for in yoga and meditation are what Jill experienced during her stroke. It takes mental exercise to learn how to get ourselves there, and that is what meditation is.

But then Jill went on to plant another seed in my brain. She ended her talk with a declaration that we have the power to choose. Right here, right now, you can step into the consciousness of your right brain or left. Perhaps, if more people spent more time choosing the right (myself included), we could have a more peaceful world. So spread it to all that you can. Take a deep breath, feel your body – the space around you – and look at the world as a web of interconnections. It is the path to inner, outer, and global peace.

Go give Jill's TED Talk a listen. 

thanksgiving, you were perfect


Dogs, fresh snow, lots of love...what else does one need to make a great Thanksgiving? Adam and I headed up to Syracuse where the air was ten degrees cooler and the ground covered in powder. It made for great snow shoeing weather, Adam and Marley's first time. Poor little Marley was very chilly towards the end, but she got over it quite quickly when we arrived back home where the fire was blazing and a cozy dog bed laid out in front. She, along with the rest of us, splayed out to relax in the living room before we got to work. Us humans enjoyed an amazing spread of fine cheeses. Finally, it was time to help my mother finish up the meal. All hands were on deck - chopping, peeling, setting plates. When we all at down a bottle of wine had already been finished. It was a great crew with interesting - enlightening - conversation.   I will speak for everyone and say that we all went to bed full of food and happiness that night. It was a great day. For the dogs, for the snow, for the immense love, I am beyond thankful. Here's to many more perfect Thanksgivings!