Mar 29, 2015
Last night I took our son to see his first concert and it was a really special one. His daddy had assembled a Birmingham super band for one night only, to say farewell to Bottletree Cafe. (Can I just say right now there were two drummers and it was freaking awesome?)
I am really emotional about the end of this era. I am also very hopeful and confident that this major chapter in music history has laid the ground for a new future where music and art are accessible to anyone seeking to experience it.
This is what I wrote last night on my personal Facebook page when I got home. And I will share it here...
Duq and I were really fortunate to be there from the very beginning. My first shows I remember there were Will Oldham, MAN OR ASTRO-MAN? (Official Page) and BrightBlack Morning Light (Nathan brought driftwood and sage and a dog for the stage and he had eagle feathers tied in his hair and he was walking around with the stinkiest jar of_ like he was in the desert or something).
We were always treated like family-- I would get to run around taking photos of the biggest freaking bands. Merrilee let us in so many times when we were freaking broke as hell. It was the first place I had ever experienced that was AN EXPERIENCE. It was artistry and a place where each of our weird asses and the things we are passionate about were welcomed and fostered. Birmingham always had a history of people trampling each others' success or maybe getting in its own way of progress. Bottletree seemingly came out of nowhere and was the lightyears progress that this city needed to make a name for itself. It was a visionary place, and it inspired so many people in their music, their art, their personal journeys.
For decades to come, people all around the world will talk about Bottletree, that insane trippy as hell venue with the insane sound and the cool ass trailers and the best artist hospitality ever. It wasn't just home to us; it was home to thousands of bands out on the road, exhausted and aching and needing love. Bottletree was home. Bottletree was and always will be LOVE. I'm so proud to have been a part of this really monumental chapter in music history. To Merrilee, Brad, Brian, Tom, Daniel, Rebecca, Brad and the rest of the Bottletree pillars, thank you. Thank you for giving every ounce of yourselves to this, to us and to whatever the future brings. You have made a fucking rad ripple in the universe. LOVE Y'ALL. Thank you.
Here are some photos from last night. As someone who has been at Bottletree from the beginning a decade ago, it was really cool to be there with my husband and our child. When 7pm rolled around, I packed up my son and we went home for bedtime. It was a beautiful full spectrum moment, and I happily shed a few tears as I pulled away from the back door, hearing both the faint blare of rock and roll and the chatters of a baby in the backseat. This is truly rock and roll y'all.
Hanging out backstage.
Tennessee running around backstage while people load in and eat.
Behind the club.
Duq played with:
Drums: David Hickox (Plate Six, Broken Letters, Wooden Wand, Gum Creek Killers, etc) and Brad Davis (Plate Six, Broken Letters, Wooden Wand, GCK and more)
Keys: Michael Shackelford (The Grenadines, King Carnivore, Rebel Kings, etc.)
Bass: Greg Slamen (Through the Sparks, Cosmonaut Vacation, Rebel Kings, etc)
Guitars: David Swatzell (WRAY, Grenadines, Rebel Kings and more) and Jody Nelson (Through the Sparks and Rebel Kings and more)
Vocals: Bekah Fox (Great Book of John) and Many Rae (rock and roll queenie!)
Our Bottletree family portrait. PEACE.
So much LOVE today.
Mar 25, 2015
I am on a serious mission to switch to 100% natural, safely sourced, health promoting self-care and beauty products.
It can be so confusing, and packaging and branding can be so deceptive. When you read a lable, it's really important that there are no parabens or preservatives and chemicals, BUT it's also important to know what's organic and where certain things like Vitamin C, lactic acid, soy lecithin (an emulsifier) are sourced from. That can be really difficult as there are no standards in the green/organic beauty industry. I am still learning so much about all of this and it's something I am really excited to share with everyone.
Here are five products I am DYING to try:
1/ Soveral Mandarin Kiss Lip Balm. Lip products are one of the things that we really should be thinking about. I heard a statistic that in our lifetime we will CONSUME something like eleven POUNDS of lipstick. I mean, we are putting a thick substance on our lips and reapplying up to twenty times a day. We lick our lips and we eat food while wearing lipstick. It adds up, and we need to start being more conscious of this NOW. Especially because most lipsticks contain seriously toxic heavy metals, like lead. This product is gluten free and doesn't have terrible, horrible palm oil in it. It's supposed to heal and moisturize and seal and protect and encourages cell growth. Sounds awesome to me. Less than ten ingredients and they're all real oils and essential oils.
2/ May Lindstrom facial treatment bowl and brush. I am allllll about loose clay masks, the kind that you have to mix yourself and apply with a brush. It's primal and luxurious at the same time. My friend Ashley (hey girl!) recommended May Lindstrom to me and even gave me a sample of her prized May Lindstrom Problem Solver mask and I FELL IN LOVE. You really need a small bowl and a small brush to mix and apply a mask properly. I used a ramekin and a basting brush from my kitchen and it lacks the spot on purpose and the ritual element that I want with my sacred self-care time. This bowl and brush from May Lindstrom is just beautiful and feels kind of ancient and precious. Like I am partaking in the same ritual as empresses and queens.
3/ Pursoma Ocean Potion Bath. I LOVE BATHS. It is one of my top ten favorite things in life. It's a time to relax, detoxify your body, get elemental with temperatures and water and salts, and you can just tune out and tune in at the same time. And this is coming from someone with a really terrible tiny ceramic tub in a 1960s pink-tiled bathroom. Bath are freaking awesome. So this bath soak packet detoxifies, balances and remineralizes the body with French grey sea salt, seaweed and algae sourced from the North Atlantic Ocean. It stimulates the lymphatic system, which coupled with some skin brushing and lemon oil in your water, makes your skin glow and makes your body just more vibrant.
4/ Kahini Organic Argan Oil. Remember like ten years ago when EVERYONE was talking about that magical oil from Morocco that would make your hair as lustrous as the dark haired Berber women in the faraway lands of Arabia? I had a bottle of this imported argan oil from a beauty supply store that was of course laced with chemicals, but it smelled fantastic and made my hair amazing. Then there was Moroccan Oil, that giant behemoth that I am not really sure even uses argan oil in its products... Anyway, I haven't found REAL argan oil in years... and here it is. Argan trees are strong and resilient and survive the harsh desert by planting roots so deep they can't be shaken. The oil is harvested from the tree's seeds. I want this stuff like yesterday.
5/ Sun Potion Wildcrafted Shea Butter. Shea Butter is the miraculous deep intense moisturizer that no one is really talking about. It treats fine wrinkles, deeeeeeeply penetrates the skin and is even a natural protectant from the sun's harmful rays. I take a bath or shower and with damp skin, I slather the thick butter all over my body, and it locks in moisture for DAYS. (Because showering everyday is soooooooo overrated anyway.) I heard about this brand from one of my favorite over the top hippy California vibey bloggers, Shiva Rose. She's one of my favorites. Check her out. And I am IN LOVE with the couple behind this brand. They're out there and I love them.
Do you have any other recommendations?? Let me know!
Mar 23, 2015
I felt compelled to write. I feel like the past year--especially the past couple months-- have been a phase of purification in my life. A phase of refinement. Refining precious metals is an ancient practice. A metal would melt, fuse, be strained, sifted and purged. Dust would be blown away and the process would begin again, until one day what's left behind is pure and clear.
I feel like the past several years have been heavy refining. It's been hard. There's been trials in our marriage, deaths, births, illness, complete financial turmoil, being forced to face God and faith and to take up a practice of gratitude for the things that we tend to overlook. It's been hard and beautiful. I've gotten tired. I've questioned what is the freaking point. I've laid on my face and cried and begged for things to change. And they have changed. They do change. Every day something is changing-- in our lives and in our hearts.
I am learning that what really matters in all of this and unlocks everything like some shiny master key is this: EVERY STEP OF THIS LIFE AND YOUR PURPOSE BECOME MEANINGFUL WHEN YOU PRACTICE PRESENCE AND GRATITUDE.
How often do you spend time thinking of that stupid thing you did or said or pining about what you really hope happens one day? How often do you dread that thing coming up on the calendar? How many times do you simply count down the days until that really exciting thing happens? What about this very moment? I have spent so much of my time preoccupied with the future: where we will live, what we will have built, the places we will go, and it has prevented me from being here right now in this moment, accepting it as it is-- joy, pain, stress and peace and all. It's as simple as pausing and breathing and taking note of the things around you. BE HERE NOW.
And that brings me to gratitude. It is so easy to bitch about the things you DON'T have and to compare yourself to this, that, the Other. When you neglect to acknowledge the incredible gifts around you and within you, when you fail to exercise gratitude for the immense blessings in your life, you will be miserable. This beautiful day? I am grateful for it. This hot cup of coffee that smells decadents and tastes delicious on my lips? I am grateful for it! The way it feels when my little boy runs up and throws his arms around me and buries his face in my shoulder laughing? I AM SO INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL FOR IT!
Look, there are big, bad, scary, hard things in life. Those things are bound to happen. The difference here is in how you respond to those big, bad, hairy things. I'm not telling you to jump up and down in glee about your house being foreclosed or debt collectors banging on your door. But you can choose to be present with your reality. Work as hard as you can to change it if it needs changing, of course. But be able to still appreciate the amazing and wonderful things in your life. Even amidst hard times.
This is so rambly, and I hope it makes some sense. There's so much swirling around my head right now and swirling in our lives, too. It's scary. But we are present. We are working hard. AND MORE THAN ANYTHING WE ARE SO GRATEFUL for so many things big and small.
Today, I challenge you to breathe steadily throughout your day, and when a negative thought, emotion or situation arises, express gratitude about something- yourself, your surroundings, whatever. Give thanks.
Mar 8, 2015
It has been a long Winter. And I am beyond ready for warmer temperatures, sunshine, bare shoulders, laying around the yard and frequent trips to the park. We had two beautiful days over the weekend, and I have completely shed my all black Winter wardrobe and am ready for some vibey colors and patterns and looking at the world through rosey colored glasses (and rosey colored VSCO filters).
The ocean is totally my Spirit place, where I feel most peaceful, most rested and calm and centered and authentically me. With the last day or two's sunshine, I am ready to go to the ocean...
And these colors are perfection...
All images are appropriately cited on my Pinterest page, here.
Mar 5, 2015
I have had such reservations about writing here lately. I haven't felt the inspiration or the motivation or the connection. Those are all words for excuses, and I am not really one for excuses. Ever. We are in a new adjustment phase. I feel like life post-baby will be filled with many of these phases. Something new comes up in life, you adjust to a new rhythm and you eventually move forward without what was previously a struggle. Right now, as the youths are sayin,' THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.
Maybe I am being hyperbolic. Maybe. I struggle with wanting to achieve my own standard of perfection. I know that is completely unrealistic, but it is a strong motivator for me. I have insanely high standards, and I use them to gauge how well I am performing or executing or pacing. This is a phenomenon that has only happened to me since becoming a mother. I was a really shitty time manager before I had a baby.
I know my time is ultimately governed by my tiny human's need for rhythms. It's a successful strategy for us (I think so, anyway). I know when he's going to wake, to eat, to nap, to need my attention and when he's going to sleep. I know that I go off to work three days a week and can work without any interruptions or breaks. I know when I come home, I need to relieve Duq so he can go work. I know that I need to wake up a little earlier to keep my standard of Rugged and Fancy, and I know I need to stay up a little later to paint and try to hustle a little more. But right now, I need my sleep. I need the brain downtime. I need to sit in bed in pajamas at 7pm and watch reruns of Modern Family.
I think that is what I have done the past couple weeks. In my free time, I totally checked out. It felt good. And now I need to pick up pace again. I have to allow myself to believe I really can do all of this. I don't doubt myself; I just sometimes get really introverted for the sake of self-preservation. I recharge. And then I move forward. It's okay to very occasionally get worn down by the hustle. Sit down. Stand up. Shake it off. Shake it some more.
Grown up life can be heavy with responsibilities, but you can strive to make it the life you dream of. And you have the power to choose how you see it.
I want to thank the people who have reached out to us over the past couple of weeks when I haven't really wanted to share here, when I have questioned the value of this space and when someone stole images of our little family from here and created a fake Facebook profile (it's gone now). It means so much that each of you comes here, cares about what I have to say and encourage me when I obviously need a little love.
So here is some encouragement for wherever you are today: Comparison is the thief of joy. If you're going to look at those around you, do it as a gesture of encouragement or appreciaton. Don't compare yourself. Don't judge. Don't criticize or condemn. Smile gently to that person and confidently to yourself and move forward with peace and joy.
Have an awesome day, y'all.
Feb 25, 2015
I had every intention of posting here with all of my usual fervor and effort. And I just haven't lately. I am adjusting to working in an office three days a wekk, and when I come home I just do not want to be on a computer again. But I also miss this space. This week I had a stomach bug. UGH. And now Alabama is in an official state of emergency because it may snow.
Anyway, here are a few things I am kind of dreaming of lately...
1/ Those vintage Chanel t-strap flats. DREAM SHOE. I want to wear them with skinny black jeans and black tank tops every day. Every. Day.
2/This Aranaz Noli bag, hand-woven in the Phillipines. Spring and Summer mean woven leather or straw bags to me.
3/ An open knit blush cashmere sweater from Vince. I am OBSESSED with this color. Obsessed.
4/ Satya Jewelry's long hand knotted silk mala. I recently finished that amazing 40 Days to Free workshop with Villager Yoga and we made our own mala, which I use to meditate SEVERAL times a day. So right now, of course, I am looking at all the different kinds of mala and thinking about making myself one with semi-precious stones. (I will be writing more soon about my experience with Villager Yoga!)
I hope this reaches you all in a happy, productive, satisfied and grateful place. I will be back to me here in this space soon.
Feb 20, 2015
You guys. I am feeling so much burnout here right now. I've been working full steam in my new position that I am not really talking about much in this space right now. Duq and I are basically passing ships that pass off the baby between each of our work, and Tennessee is currently sitting beside me just straight up throwing fits over a banana. I've been feeling really private lately, trying to remember what real life was like before we had computers on our phones and three devices on us at all times. Before social media and perfect filters and, geez, before selfies.
I have been working hard, and in my free time I want to spend time with my family, cook delicious and healthy food, paint and read, do some yoga, meditate. It's been completely satisfying and fulfilling. This is an adjustment period.
But there's still cool stuff I need to tell you about.
1/ Rose quartz. It's been used for thousands of years for bringing about well-being, especially in your closest relationships (hello, married people!). It opens the heart chakra and can bring peace, forgiveness, love to situations. Hence it's the perfect material for a, um, personal product. I now introduce to you the Chakrub. (Please tell me you are putting two and two together here.)
2/ Jade Rollers. The ancient Chinese empresses used these beautiful jade objects to improve circulation, cleanse the lymphatic system and promote clear skin. This cool medicinal stone depuffs your face and gives you a totally health promoting massage with that little bit of luxury and mysticism that I think we all want to experience in our products. I can't wait to order one of these babies.
3/ @ihavethisthingwithfloors. This is my favorite Instagram account ever. It's all amazing patterned, mostly mosaic floors. And shoes. It's an amazing source of inspiration for me. And wanderlust.
Do y'all like posts like this? A few things that I just think are cool and that you might want to know about? You guys mean a lot to me. Have a great weekend.
Feb 18, 2015
I haven't posted much in the last week, which is atypical for me. It's important to ask yourselves why you do what you do every once in a while. That process can reveal so much about what you're doing, where you want to go and can clarify what your motivations behind it are.
Why do I do this here? Sometimes I don't know. Right now, I don't know. I'm not going away anywhere. I am just taking a few days to decompress after some ridiculous interactions/comments/requests I have received lately.
There's a big conversation going on right now about whether what you present to the world via web sites, blogs, socials is honest and representative of that person's life. Yeah, some of my stuff is pretty because I do strive to make some beauty around me in my life. It's a lens through which I choose to look at my own life. And I am super open about our struggles and shortcomings, too. That's real life, amidst the pretty things.
This space is a place where I can talk about everything.
I hope it helps someone, encourages someone, shows something special, pretty, cool. But it's my space.
I will be back here next week.
Feb 17, 2015
Today is our son, Tennessee's first birthday. One year ago I was in labor, beginning to push, pissed that no one told me I couldn't have coffee that day, haha. I would push for four hours. They would try forceps. I would have an emergency c-section. I remember seeing Tennessee for the first time and being so shocked, I simply couldn't even handle it. I remember holding him in the first few hours of his life and thinking, I made this little person. He is with us for life now. And I remember that thought both giving me a deep sense of pride and also gripping me with fear.
The first few weeks at home with Tennessee were INSANE. No one prepares you for what life is really like with a baby once you leave the doors of the hospital. We didn't know how to feed him, how to get him to sleep, how to sleep ourselves. We actually hallucinated from sleep deprivation. Friends would come visit, bring food, pray for us and we would just cry from not knowing what to do.
I got sick. We spent last year restoring all of our health and being a family. It was a huge hit financially- Duq had to take care of both me and the baby, so neither of us could work. But we got to be a family, together for every moment of this amazing first year as parents. So many people came into our lives through the past year that helped us and to whom I offer the deepest love and gratitude.
I forgave myself for being sick.
Today my baby is officially a toddler. I cried about that a lot yesterday. I don't know if I will or can do this again. There are days that I can hardly keep it all together from the difficulty or the stress- YET I want to have the huge family that Duq and I dream of. I want to hold a baby again. I want Tennessee to have siblings to play with and fight with and run around and one day carry on whatever our legacy is.
I had no idea my life could be this meaningful. I had no idea my time could be so well utilizied. I had no idea I could be so loving, so resilient, so tough. This is amazing. Yeah, I occassionally doubt myself or feel like I just can't do it. But I get up and do it. Because I have to. And eventually there is a moment or a few days or even weeks that come with ease and beauty and memories so good, you forget those occassionaly crap day.
Today we celebrate my boy's first year in this world. And it's a good day.
Here are photos from his first birthday party. It was amazing.
I needed to figure out how to do a memorable party with LITERALLY NO MONEY to spend on it at all. I had been wanting to paint some animals so it started there.
Tennessee's godmother made the banner with printed paper cut in diamond shapes and folded over in half and taped, spread along some cool decorative rope. She also made jungle crowns with patterned craft paper.
The palms all came from godmother Shannon's backyard and really created the jungle vibes. I happened to have the birds from my holiday decorations.
Giselle the Gazelle.
Our friend Lauren Sharp Gavin is an amazing baker. She made Tennessee's smash cake with no grains and very little sugar.
She also made me a tiny cake in the back with no grains and no sugar! It's almond and coconut flour, honey, coconut oil, egg. It was the first time in a year I have been able to eat cake. And it was a game changer.
Tea bar. I found that camel that is holding the straws at the thrift store years ago. And the pheasant feathers were a gift from my father many hunting seasons ago. I occassionally scout the thrift store for fun party trays and this colored grass tray is super festive.
We did super easy veggie/meat/cheese platters. I mean, 3pm for a baby party. No one's really counting on the good stuff, right? haha.
Yes, it's a real turtle shell. I have had it since I was a kid.
This is my grain free and sugar free cake. IT WAS SO GOOD. The frosting is grass fed butter, honey and lemon. MMMMMMMMMM.
What is it about balloons and babies??
Candelabra from Morocco. Palo Santo sticks on an old vessel.
Shannon made the paper crowns and my mother brought me the beautiful succulent.
I made the garlands for a friend's baby shower a few weeks ago and got to reuse them.
I got the Vetruvian face vase many years ago at Tj Maxx. For ten dollars. I twas legendary. The copper and brass vessels were thrift store finds.
Opening presents was a hoot.
Tennessee had no interest in cake. HA.
Us and the godparents. It's the first time ever we have all had a photo together. We love them so much. Family forever.
Happy Birthday Tennessee. You changed my life forever.
Feb 11, 2015
Duquette and I have been loyal Malin+Goetz customers for YEARS. What started out as a small family apothecary with a desire to provide products to men and women with sensitive skin, Malin+Goetz has maintained its mom and pop vibe while growing into an internationally recognized name. While the products aren't 100% natural, they're pretty close. You can choose to get a little less chemically while scoring an even better product for your regimen.
The scents are pretty amazing, too. If you've known Duquette for a while you know he has always had a signature scent. For years it was the Malin + Goetz Cannibis oil. Everyone loved it. It was subtle and powerful and musky and slightly sweet. And then a whole bunch of people started wearing it so he moved on. (They also slightly reformulated it, so there's that too.) NOTE: Open Shop doesn't carry the oils.
The brand hasn't been available in Birmingham since our favorite store ever, Bellwether closed its doors two years ago... until now. OPEN SHOP in Woodlawn, a historic neighborhood of downtown Birmingham, now carries a wide, wide selection of Malin + Goetz.
There's a huge assortment of candles. We are burning Vetiver at home; it's super crisp and clean. Check out the Cannabis candle for a really intoxicating scent. And the votive trio includes Tobacco (which is simply one of my favorites).
If you're into travel sizes, there's a really great sampler/travel pack that would make a great gift for someone. Or yourself.
Somehow I didn't get a photo of the deoderant. Look, if you're needing something aluminum and chemical free that actually works throughout the day... this is IT. Thank me later.
Be sure to check out OPEN SHOP in Woodlawn. Follow along on Instagram at @openshopwoodlawn to be in the know about all the amazing happenings going on down there. If you stop in, be sure to mention Rugged and Fancy sent you!