Apr 15, 2014
I don't know why I thought that this baby would come out of me and my body would be all tight and rockin the following day. Or week. Or month. Or two months. Admittedly, I had a little setback with such a hard recovery so I haven't had a chance or the strength to start working out like a Victoria's Secret model before a show. (Hey, what is UP with those girls looking hotter and walking a runway naked three weeks after having a baby?! Seriously!) This is probably my biggest hurdle in this whole baby thing.
I want my body back. I want my strength back. I want to be able to hold my baby and do a crazy headstand at the same time. (I wouldn't actually do that, but I want to be able to!) Here's a confession: most days I beat myself up pretty badly about this. I've never been this size in my life. And I know that I am beautiful and that motherhood looks awesome on me and that I should give myself a break, but...
I've got to give myself a break.I'VE GOT TO GIVE MYSELF A BREAK. I've gotten into the rhythm of taking each day with the baby as it comes, and I should do the same with myself. Comparison is the thief of joy. Let me say that again:
COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY.
I know there are so many other people out there facing weight issues. I feel for you, and I encourage you. YOU'VE GOT THIS. Be nice to yourself today and make healthy choices.
I'm going to go play with my baby. And I am excited that THAT counts for moving and shaking.
Apr 14, 2014
So I am currently obsessed with taking photos of something cool or a cool pattern or capturing good light and then running them through a bunch of apps to make cool stuff.
First, I take all of my photos in the VSCO app. And I usually put a filter on it and adjust exposure, contrast and fade in the app, too. I save the image to my camera roll and then run it through a combination of apps: Afterlight for light leaks and film effects, Fragment for the trippy tessellated type stuff (the geometric shapes and fragmenting), sometimes Tangent and PicFrame too.
I wouldn't say there's any secret to it. You just have to see a good photo and its possibilities and you have to know when to stop. There's good and bad design. Figure out the good when you're making it. As hog wild as you can go, you have to exercise restraint. And there's nothing wrong with starting over from scratch.
Do you have any amazing apps to recommend? And if you want to see more of these, check out my Instagram.
Apr 8, 2014
Every time Spring rolls around I get this big ol' frisson of energy and excitement surrounding warm months and never ending sunshine. Ideas run a plenty and every day holds the dream of doing just really awesome stuff. And most days do, in fact, consist of doing awesome stuff.
Anyway, right now I am allllllll about the desert with its dry heat, crunchy warm colored ground, wild succulents and crazy legends. I've been fortunate to travel a lot of places in my life, but I've never spent any time in the desert. I want to pack up my little family and our best friends and high tail it out West.
1. RANCHO DE LA LUNA.
So there's this amazing recording studio out in the middle of Joshua Tree. With the desert views, meals prepared together by sunset and eaten under desert moonlight, this is the place that Duquette and I want to go with a small group of our friends and just CREATE. We keep saying this year is about getting weird and, baby, this is a place to do that. Strip away the weight of the city, get elemental and just DO.
Here's a little video about this incredible, magical space...
2. WIGWAM MOTEL.
So there was a chain of motels in the 40s and 50s, called Wigwam Motel...and they were a bunch of "teepees," a delightful little place to rest your head when out on the road in your grand automobile. There were a handful of these and today three of them remain: San Bernadino CA, somewhere in Arizona and one in Kentucky. (And man, I just read that there was one in Bessemer, AL just miles from where I live, but it fell into disrepair and was demolished. BUMMER.)
3. DESERT PLANTS.
Why can't cacti be a reason to go to the desert? I've got a whole collection of succulents and such on Pinterest.
4. VERBENA "THE DESERT."
I have always loved this song.
It just so happens to be my husband's old band.
Love y'all. Have a great day!
Morgan, Duq, Tennessee
Apr 7, 2014
Apr 3, 2014
You know when your brain just feels sucked dry? That's the place I am at right now. It's nota bad thing, just a super exhausted state that leaves me walking circles a little bit. I do believe that exhaustion can cause breakthroughs though. Like you suddenly get this spark or something and burst through to a whole new level. I'm ready for that. Sometimes you need a little kickstart, and color and pattern are totally getting me going. I am sure it has something to do with the arrival of Spring and warmer weather. Dig it. (And all images come from my Pinterest and link to original sources there).
Y'all have a great day. Go be inspired. Go inspire someone else.
Morgan and Duq and Tennessee
Apr 1, 2014
PICASSO BABY. I happened upon this video of Jay-Z's performance piece "Picasso Baby" and I think it is just amazing. The music is great, the energy is insane and you observe this intense commentary of celebrity, on boundaries, on looking and seeing into the soul of a person. It's a more popular culture spin on the pieces of Marina Abramovic (she sits or stands in a gallery and anyone can just walk up to her, sit, stand, stare, yell, whatever). And in a cool twist, Abramovic is IN the Picasso Baby piece, along with a whole lot of other cool movers and shakers in the world.
Watch it. Dig it.
Mar 31, 2014
Duquette and I have always been vibey people. In every aspect of our lives, whether it's him in the studio or on stage, me in the painting studio or just in our homespace at different points in the day, scent governs so much of the vibe. Scents evoke memories and guide moods, loosely shaping the course of events. When you get down to it, I suppose it's just straight up aromatherapy.
I had never looked at it so purposefully until the last weeks of my pregnancy when I was on strict bed rest for elevated blood pressure. I couldn't take any medicine. I had my own blood pressure cuff to check each hour, and man, it caused me some serious anxiety. If I had a high reading, I would panic and only cause it to go higher. A friend of mine recommended some oils. They totally brought down the numbers. The details of all that are another blog post entirely, but it's a testament in part to the power of aromatherapy.
Here are some of the olfactory staples in our lives these days.
1. Palo Santo sticks. So there are these trees that grow on the coast in South America whose wood is sacred and cleansing and wards off insects and bad vibes. The branches have to fall off and lay around for a decade or so before use. So they're sustainable and slowly procured. Shamans use it and so do a bunch of regular people, too. We get ours from Imogene and Willie, note: they don't come in the I+W box. That's the Soul Candle. Another perfect scent. And read more about the amazingness of the Palo Santo stick, here.
2. Chandrika Ayurvedic Soap. No, this is not a prop from a Wes Anderson movie. It's a $1 soapy natural dream that's been around since 1940. I realized that my whole body and mind was out of balance after having a baby and major surgery and then a major illness. I want to approach my recovery as a whole life revolution based in nutrition and fitness and happiness. Anyway, I read a little on Ayurveda, via Deepak Chopra's dosha quiz, and it kind of blew my mind! (Seriously. I have some semi-free time on my hands while I breastfeed.) It's totally natural with coconut oil, lime peel, patchouli oil and sandalwood oil, ginger, orange and more and smells like bohemian heaven without getting too stinky hippy.
3. Goe Oil. It's the oil that you use for just about everything. I know everyone is alllllll about coconut oil, but I just can't handle smelling like a pina colada. My hands have been wrecked from overwashing and resemble a 90 year old's red prickled, blistered, cracked, sad hands... until I broke down and got this stuff. I don't remember where I heard about it, but it was worth the $40. It's 28 different fruit and flower oils/butters, smells slightly citrusy and fresh and restores and seals moisture like petroleum jelly (without being chemical, at all). Tip: let the heat of your hands melt the oil a little for even application.
4. I've been buying this brand of incense for several years now, and I always stick to these sticks. Maybe I am guided by the soothing grassy colors and awesome packaging on handmade paper. The Vetiver is my favorite. You can get it at Whole Foods, just FYI.
Have a beautiful start to your week. Surround yourself with lovely people and places.
Morgan, Duq and Tennessee
Mar 27, 2014
LIFE HAPPENS. And life is GOOD, but don't forget that what you put in your body should only be to the benefit of what you're trying to put out in life. It can be hard, especially when you have dietary needs (I can't do wheat, corn or soy) and/or limited time or constraints of big efforts. I love preparing a complex or slow meal more than anyone, but sometimes... sometimes that ain't gonna happen.
I found this recipe on Pinterest a while back and threw it on the meal plan, now that I am making a meal plan. (What?! Seriously, I ask myself daily if I am now actually a woman who makes a meal plan, and yes, yes I am.)
I made a few amendments to cut out the wheat, change the flavor a little, and here it is. Super easy, super healthy one described by my husband as "One of the top pastas ever made in the Johnston house."
spinach pasta (wheat and corn free, you can find this at most grocery stores next to the rice noodles)
1 box or can of diced tomatoes with juice, 16-25 oz depending on how much tomato you want
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 cloves garlic, chopped as fine or coarse as you want
1 sweet onion, vidalia (sliced to about 1/4 inch pieces)
red pepper flakes, I used about 1/4tsp (but it's to taste)
dried thyme, I used about 2 tsp (but again to taste)
raw sugar (totally to taste, I put maybe 2-3 tsp, it marries the acidity of tomatoes, sweetness of onion and the salt)
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
one bunch of fresh basil
fresh grated parmesan
1. Get out a big pot, we like using cast iron around here. The flavor is sealed in the iron, it's the best.
2. In pot, combine dry noodles (trust me), tomatoes, vegetable broth, chopped onion and garlic.
3. Sprinkle red pepper flakes and dry thyme into pot, drizzle olive oil (maybe a tsp).
4. Cover pot and bring to a boil, stirring so noodles don't stick to bottom of pot.
5. Reduce to a simmer, adding sugar, salt, pepper to taste, stirring occasionally. Remember that it takes a few stirs for the flavors to develop. (TIPS: if it tastes too acidic of the tomato, add a little salt. If it tastes too salty, add a little more sugar. If you got it too sweet, add a small dash more thyme and pinch of salt.)
6. You'll keep it at a simmer with the lid on between stirs and adjustments long enough for the liquids to reduce so that there's only about a quarter inch of liquid left. This can take 10-15 minutes.
7. Once reduced, chop up your fresh basil leaves and stir into pot to release flavors. You only need to put them in there a minute or two before serving. Ideally, the leaves will be a slightly deeper green and slightly wilted when you've got it just right.
8. Serve and shave or grate fresh parmesan on top.
It's super easy, super delicious and has so many potential variations. Add fresh cherry tomatoes or mushrooms and olives or capers. Or change up the flavor using oregano. And you can always add a protein by using leftover chopped chicken or pork or...
I don't claim to be an amazing chef. I just love real, good, beautiful food. Let me know if you try it!
Mar 26, 2014
I'm not a person who lives by other people's quotes, but I came across the following while tripping down the Pinterest rabbit hole... "What made her strong was despite the million things that hurt her, she spoke of nothing but happiness."
If you keep up with us on Instagram or Facebook, you know we had our beautiful baby boy five weeks ago and that shortly after my difficult birth, I became seriously ill with a dangerous bacterial infection. Rather than talking about the sucky details of all that, I just want to share about how we came through it. Because it's pretty amazing and pretty beautiful.
When I laid in the hospital (again), being treated for c. diff after my c-section, Duquette won the MTVu contest to get his video for "Dancing Song" in rotation. (Which is so amazing and couldn't have been accomplished without the serious love of his friends and fans!) I found myself sick as all get out on a stretcher, posting about this cool thing on Instagram. What was I doing?!? It was a serious priority check, confirmed by the doctor with strict orders for bed rest and self care.
Duquette and I went home, prayed about it and definitely knew that what we were supposed to do was go on hiatus, a ten day PAUSE. We turned off our devices, got off social media, set up auto responses and we rested as a family. We talk about priorities in our life: God first, each other second, family thereafter and everything else after that, but we had found ourselves in the most shake-up-your-life transitional time EVER and things had gotten a little out of whack, becoming literally life threatening.
Man, this was a scary thing to do. Especially when you are your own boss and your livelihood totally depends on the work you put in. It felt like walking straight off a cliff. How could we do this? With prayer, affirmation and something my husband refers to as "Crazy to Believe." My faith grew so much in this period, not only in trusting God with my beautiful child (whose little life is this beautiful little flame that I want to protect and nurture and help grow into a great fire), but I also had to trust God with my own life. THAT is a seriously hard thing to surrender to, those moments where your health hangs so delicately between recuperation and a grave state. I had to believe that God would take care of me, however that may be.
And God took care of me through another BIG lesson in life...coming to understand what community really looks like. Duq and I love using Rugged and Fancy as a forum for sharing some much needed love in the world, and we talk about community a lot. We have always loved to help people, to spread goodness and love on people through what we do. But we never allowed ourselves to really show our own needs in a very personal way and we never accepted other people's generosity in vulnerable times. Though we are very open about our lives, I think we were pretty private about certain vulnerable parts of certain situations. Coming home with a new baby, a very sick mama and a papa who was stretched too thin to do it all, we learned to accept the generosity of others, the meals that fed us every day and night, the extra hands to hold the baby and clean, the nurse to stay the night when I couldn't physically care for myself or my child, the people all over the world that really prayed for things to get better. I don't know how to sincerely thank these people other than to reciprocate that love and giving in the world around me. I remember laying in bed, crying to my husband in a moment of just being overwhelmed and saying, "I can't wait to do this for someone else."
Help someone. Love someone. IT IS THE BIG PICTURE.
And rest when you must rest, this is a message that I had to learn the hard, hard way. And it's a message that our modern lives don't really condone. Be bold, take a leap, and land yourself in a place to rest without the noise, the breakneck pace, without self distraction. I made a miraculous turn for the better about three days ago. Still in the PAUSE, I found myself spending time watching the changing face of my son, relishing the moments without posting it real time online. I cooked a couple beautiful, healthy meals for my husband (who I just want to shower with loving gestures after his attentive, selfless care of me). I sat in the backyard with our son's godparents and we laughed and relished the warm, sunny day and the wild cries of a hungry baby. I think we all would benefit from the occasional pause. Yeah, it is difficult in its own ways (we had to literally delete apps from our phones and iPads and put on do not disturb so we wouldn't check it with the speed or mindlessness of a reflex). But it refocuses you on what is important in life.
We love you. We thank you for sticking in this with us. I am going to go listen to our cooing son as the sun comes up this morning. And then I am going to do some work. I look forward to sharing more about family and creativity and making in work in the coming days and weeks and months and beyond. And here are a couple pictures of our beautiful boy, Tennessee Wolf Johnston.
Morgan, Duq and Tennessee
Feb 5, 2014
Well obviously we have been on a slight break, not completely intentional, but still and break and there will be some missing days on the blog as well in the near future. Our son Tennessee Wolf Johnston will be joining us very, very soon. Hell by the time you read this we might be at the hospital, well hopefully not until the 17th.
While we have been running around getting ready for the baby we had a sudden blast of serious winter weather last week in our hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. If you did not see it on the news then you must have been hibernating in your winter cave. In a very short period of time our city was brought to screeching halt by ice and just a few inches of snow. It was truly wild. All the videos and photos on the news and even more so on our friends social media feeds were very apocalyptic. Streets, highways, interstates were littered with abandoned cars, people were stranded all over the city at work, doctors offices, schools and more.
Of course people from around the country had many laughs without realizing the scope of what are city was in the midst of. What they did not realize was that our city was in the midst of doing what we do best and that is coming together in a time of crisis. I could write page upon page of stories about strangers helping each other on the roads, taking in stranded motorist to their homes, teachers staying with students who were stranded at schools, businesses sheltering customers and feeding them and a city that stepped up to the plate when they needed to the most.
So out of this Morgan and I wanted to make a few shirts to remember the events during the winter storm the news called Leon. We have been wanting to collaborate with our friends from Yellowhammer Creative and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. So we sketched out some ideas, exchanged some quick text messages with Brett from Yellowhammer and by the next morning the shirts were available for pre-order. We even made one for our neighbors and friends, and Killer Mike, in Atlanta.
Many people have asked why not Snopocalypse 2014 or Snowmaggedon 2014. I will tell you why not. People did pull together during this, but several people died, people were hurt and to some it was a negative event. We do not want people to remember the bad but to remember the good. To remember the total strangers who offered shelter, to remember the new friendships forged, to remember that even though to the rest of the world we looked helpless we were in fact stronger than ever. Here is to a great 2014 with more positive movement forward for our incredible city and its citizens.
We love y'all.
Duq, Morgan and Tennessee Wolf