Sep 28, 2015
words by Tonia Trotter / photos by Rugged and Fancy
I am and have always been a girls' girl to the core. Nothing makes me feel more in my element than a good old fashioned girls' night. True friends aren't always easy to come by, especially as you grow older and your schedules tend to revolve around your families... and especially if you relocate to a city that is anywhere other than where your girls are.
Two years ago I packed up and moved my little family from Nashville, Tennessee to Birmingham, Alabama. I felt isolated and desperate to recreate the close female friendships I had cultivated in my twenties in Music City. It took some work and going out on a limb to find my people here, but I am now incredibly happy and thankful for the women who I have come to call my friends here. They're smart, interesting, funny, genuinely kind and authentic.
Julia Child famously proclaimed, "People who love to eat are always the best people."
Since I always insist on being friends with the best people, it goes without saying that a passion for good food is definitely a common interest within my crew. I love to cook for my friends and family, and I often get requests for Korean dishes since they aren't exactly common in the land of cornbread and fried chicken. Don't misunderstand, I really love those things, too. This past Sunday marked not only a significant lunar event (so I have heard) but also Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving and, most importantly, a rare evening that all my girlfriends had a free night without their babies and husbands.
THIS fact alone warranted a celebration. And since I am especially grateful for these friends this year, it was the perfect opportunity to host a Korean-themed girls' night in!
Traditionally, you'd eat rice cakes on Chuseok, but since I am only half Korean and was raised in the land of fried okra and sweet potato pie, I decided to prepare some of my personal favorite foods that I know are beyond foolproof.
I'm a firm believer that all celebrations call for champagne, so we ladies kicked the party off with some "YEOWANGS." Korean for QUEEN, the Yeowang signature cocktail is a lychee-orange libation topped with a little bubbly.
Following cocktails and chatting, we gathered around the table. The tablescape was a gold and soft blue theme with an eclectic contemporary vibe and key Korean details. I combined some tradition from my own Vera Wang china and cut crystal and everyday glasses with some of the amazing new pieces from West Elm.
I made my mom's Yaki-Mandu, a pork and veggie dumpling that is pan-fried and steamed, sauteed Bulgogi, thin strips of steak marinated in a sweet, savory and slightly spicy marinade. As a Southern nod, I served a cooked seaweed and spinach salad to serve as a bed of greens.
For the second course I prepared my all-time favorite Korean dish Naengmyeon, a chilled buckwheat noodle soup. I set up a DIY bar of noodle bowl toppings, including daikon radish kimchi (made by mother and tightly sealed and double bagged until serving on account of the, ahem, strong odor), hard boiled eggs, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, chopped green onions, red pepper and sesame seeds. Chopsticks optional.
For dessert, red bean popsicles were a hit. Popsicles can absolutely be a grown up treat when served alongside a stemless wine glass. You don't have to worry about slurps and drips when you can simply place the pop in your glass. The final touch was a cup of hot ginger and rosebud tea that paired beautifully with the red bean popsicles and served as that final moment to relax with my girls and pour over funny stories, in-depth discussions on style, motherhood, new reads and TV indulgences.
Around that table and over that meal, we five women shared bonding moments over personal struggles and achievements, and maybe a couple moments of over-sharing, too. (Of course there was plently of that. We are girlfriends.)
The night ended later than expected and definitely past all of our bedtimes, and it made me feel like the night was a great success. I cleaned up and floated to bed on a cloud of garlic and wine with a full belly, a full heart and a very thankful spirit. It was indeed a happy Chuseok.
RECIPE: YAKI-MANDU (PORK DUMPLINGS)
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Drop a small spoonful of stuffing in gyoza skin. Dampen edge of skin with water, fold and press edges together.
Pan fry uncovered with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil until golden brown on one side (about five minutes) on medium heat.
Carefully add 1/2 cup of water to the pan. (CAUTION: the water may pop!) and quickly cover to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
FOR DIPPING SAUCE:
Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar and ground red pepper to taste.
To follow Tonia Trotter's adventures in food, fashion, motherhood and more, click here. This was not a sponsored post, though the fine folks at West Elm at the Summit loaned us some beautiful items for the night, including the chargers, votives, table centerpiece, prep bowls, table runner, branches and berries.
Aug 10, 2015
Did you know that 90% of illnesses are linked to stress, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, psychological disorders, auto-immune disease, depression and more? Stress hormones are no joke! Your body and your brain can get stuck in a state of stress/distress and your immune system goes into overdrive and suddenly you're in health crisis.
I know. Because I've been there. Almost two years ago I had my first child via a difficult labor and c-section, contracted a bacterial superbug that shut down my organs, couldn't breastfeed and I was SO STRESSED. Even as I began to heal, the stress level just wasn't changing, and in turn, I wasn't completely getting better.
And then I picked up my yoga practice. When practiced regularly, yoga has been proven to decrease anxiety, improve your body's ability to heal, and it increases your overall well-being. Yoga was the missing piece of my body/mind/healing/wellness puzzle. Yoga gave (and still gives) me a safe place to just let it allllll gooooooo. I can get on my mat and tune into my breath and turn away from racing thoughts or searing pain. Yoga reconnects me to everything: my body, my mind, the universe around me, to God.
A year ago, I connected with Annie Damsky, owner of Villager Yoga and president of Sweet Om Alabama. She took me in as a student and a friend, empowering me with the tools to progress on my path and connecting me to the incredible yoga community here in Birmingham, Alabama.
A HUGE part of the yoga community here is Sweet Om Alabama, a nonprofit organization with the mission of cultivating health and wellbeing and bringing the healing qualities of yoga to people who lack access to it. Sweet Om Alabama currently has programs at Children's Hospital of Alabama, Pathways women's shelter, Alethia House, AIDS Alabama, East Lake United Methodist Church, St. Anne's Home and Yoga of Recovery.
As someone who has survived life threatening illness and the emotional side effects of that time in my life, I can attest that yoga is powerful, transformative and so important to make available to the people that need it.
So last night, Sweet Om Alabama and Athleta at the Summit invited some people to hang out after hours, try on Athleta's new collection for Fall, strike a pose (look on social media for #omyourpose!) and learn a little more about some exciting events coming up!
(My Warrior 1 is a little weak here. See how my right hip is higher than the other? They should be even! Proper alignment is super important to your yoga practice and prevents injuries!)
So what's going on? Global Mala 2015 is coming up SEPTEMBER 19th at Vulcan Park! This is such an incredible event that gathers over 300 people on top of Vulcan Park, overlooking the city of Birmingham to do 108 sun salutations in an effort of love and peace. And all around the world, on the same day, people will be doing this very thing with us!
It's a free event with an awesome DJ, incredible teachers leading, some really cool sponsors (including Athleta!) and all you have to do is show up in something comfortable. It's a beautiful experience that I really hope you'll share in with me!
Here's a photo from last year's Global Mala. It was such a perfect day!
As Sweet Om Alabama is a non-profit 501c3 organization, it depends on donations to keep these programs going, and 2016 has big plans for FIVE new programs and a scholarship program for organization personnel to become certified to teach yoga, thus carrying on the practice within their programs.
To donate, go here or attend any of these awesome upcoming community events...
TUESDAY AUGUST 18 5.00-10.00pm at ROJO: 10% of food and drink sales go to Sweet Om Alabama!
SATURDAY AUGUST 22 11.00am-2.00pm at WHOLE FOODS: "The Giving Grill," Whole Foods will be grilling outside! 100% proceeds will benefit Sweet Om Alabama. PLUS $2 raffle tickets for free yoga gear and accessories!
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 17 6.00pm- 9.00pm. GLOBAL MALA KICK-OFF CELEBRATION at TRIMTAB BREWERY! It's free and open to the public! Come out and meet the yogis from all over Birmingham, #omyourpose in a photo booth, eat and dance your booty off!
Sort of like this...
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.
Dec 2, 2014
1/ THE LOCALIST WISH LIST PARTY. Our friend Carrie Rollwagen just released her first book, The Localist. It's about her year spent shopping exclusively small businesses and then turning around and opening her own (Church Street Coffee and Books, my favorite home of the Yerba Maté latté). Anyway this is her big book release party, and in true Carrie style it's a rad get together of some of her favorite small businesses/artisans. So basically, come out Wednesday 12/3 to The Nest in Avondale at 6pm and drink free beers, eat yummy treats and shop for your people. And congratulate Carrie on her badass book!
2/ THE BALLAD OF SHOVELS AND ROPE. You guys, I can't even tell you how excited I am about this film finally getting released! This film and the band's wildfire success brings the greatest hope and JOY to our hearts. Michael and Cary Ann are long time friends of ours, and I get so emotional seeing them take on the world. They deserve this so much. Keep on supporting their sweet family! Check out the web site for screening cities and dates and times. But here is the trailer...
3/ 2nd ANNUAL GARDEN & GUN JUBILEE IN CHARLESTON, SC. We are so excited to hop in the car as a family and drive up to Charleston this weekend Dec 5-7 for this insane event. It's a weekend of meeting the makers behind your most cherished goods, food events with the best of the new garde of Southern chefs, special sporting demos and private hunts and so much more. Visit the site for all the details and be sure to get your ticket so you don't miss out.
4/ ****SHHH.... So you should mark your calendars for Saturday evening, December 13th in Birmingham, Alabama, specifically in the Woodlawn area. Something will be happening that you don't want to miss. Just saying you might take note.
Y'all have a great day! And if you're looking for a really unique gift and want to help support our little family, I am having a special art sale of my paintings over on my Instagram.
Nov 12, 2014
Trying to live a life focused on helping change the world in positive and productive ways can be such a challenge is this digital age where the web is littered with trolls who thrive on negativity and stirring the pot until it is ready to blow up in your face. It is exactly why I want to help spread the word about our dear friends' Rohan Anderson and Kate Berry's newest venture in their journey called The Nursery Project. I am not sure if there is a man more passionate about helping others learn to live a healthier life than Rohan and a strong woman and mama dedicated to changing the world for their children's generation.
I will be the first to say that Rohan can be controversial and his ways are not for everyone. But in his heart of hearts, his mission is pure and he truly wants to share with the world his story and how it has saved his life and given him a new one. Let's face it, the world is set up so the easiest food is cheap and quick and is so incredibly toxic for your body, filled with strange chemicals and fillers and preservatives. But there is another way-- it just involves being willing to change, putting in extra work to either grow and produce your food or source your food properly so you might prepare food for you and your family that is delicious, nutritious and actually gives you life. Believe me I understand this better than many people do. If you have followed my wife's journey after being so sick earlier this year, then you know we had to make radical changes to our lifestyle and the way we eat. It was literally a matter of life or death in our household as my wife faced a potentially deadly bacterial infection in her guts and organ failure from complications. For her to heal, we had to change everything overnight. It has been one of the greatest decisions we have ever made, and it actually started when we first met Rohan over a year ago. Before the actual necessity for change arose, we spent time with Rohan in Birmingham, Alabama and were so deeply affected by the passion with which he spoke about his own life changing revelation of health, food and a better life. It stuck with us. It made us start questioning things and wondering if life really could get that much better by modifying our relationship with food. The answer is yes, absolutely.
We recognize how difficult and overwhelming and daunting these kinds of changes can sound. It doesn't have to be that hard. You just need to start somewhere, and that somewhere could be the way you think. The work of it comes easily if you can just start with looking at something with a different perspective.
Rohan and Kate have become family to us and we support them whole heartedly, even as we live in the United States and they're all the way in another hemisphere in Australia. They are a beautiful family, working to change the world by changing the way we and our children and future children will eat.
They are currently in a fundraising stage for their blood, sweat and tears project The Nursery Project. Basically, they need our help to raise $100,000 to purchase land, build mess halls and educational facilities and to cover administrative costs. The gardening? Yes, it'll go there, too because that's what they do. They're making this place so that people have a place to go to learn skills, to learn about food, to touch the food and prepare it and eat it. It's about life and health and community. And that's what we are here, a community. We implore you to become a part of this story--- GO HERE AND SHOW SOME LOVE!
All the love,
Duq, Morgan and Tennessee
Nov 7, 2014
It is probably a significant understatement to say I have an obbsession with barber shops. Several years ago while touring in a band called Gum Creek Killers, my band mates joked I should start a blog called Barbershop Junkie. Well I have not done that, yet. But I do want to start sharing some photos and ramblings about barbers I trust who are keeping the trade alive. See your barber is one of your inner circle, one of those people you trust with your life. Because it's the one man you have confidence in with a razor to your neck. The old timers are harder to find, hell for a while in some areas barbershops all but disappeared and some cities just had salons. Babrbershop culture remained largely unaffected though in black communities and rural areas and today through social media you can follow barbers from all over the world and the small towns and communities where you live, whether black, white, hispanic, indian, whatever. And you can find some very passionate folks sharing thier craft with the world.
I've been to barbers young and old and to several old timers who will just not give the cut you ask for, "Oh you don't want it that short!" or "Why do you want the top messy?" So it's been cool to watch some of the new barber movement use classic techniques mixed with some modern style and the attention to detail amounts to providing a great experience. Recently in Florence, Alabama a young man returned home from NYC to open a classic barbershop with some modern touches. This is why I fell in love with Austin Shirey's Greasy Hands Barbershop. It is the perfect use of an intimate space in a uniquely intimate town.
If you follow Austin Shirey online you can tell how passionate he is about being a barber. Meeting him in person and getting a cut from him leaves no doubt that he is living his life in his purest form. I'm a freak about the blend on a high and tight or someone's fade. You see lots of guys going to salons and walking out with such a straight line it could be used in a DUI checkpoint. Austin not only gives the sides texture, his blend is flawless.
There is something about a barbershop work station set up right. The smallest items are cared for so delicately that you know you can trust the man with a haircut, beard trim or shave. These are a man's tools, and how a man treats those items says a lot about that man and his craft. Plus, the Imperial barber products are some of my favorite out for men right now.
I've always believed that going to a barber shop with your dad is a rite of passage. The day you go from the booster seat to the big chair is monumental in the journey from boyhood to manhood. While Tennessee hasn't had a haircut yet, it was special to have him there watching his dad get a cut. And one day I will take him in to Greasy Hands to carry on this family's tradition. You trust your barber with your life, and that ends up creating a relationship that you feel able to open up to the guy. Many barbers are advisors and confidants to people. Hell some are like a therapist for clients with a little extra pampering thrown in-- hot towel service among my favorite.
If you are ever in Florence, Alabama whether for the music, shopping at Billy Reid or going to the river, be sure to make time for a visit to Greasy Hands barbershop. You will be taken care of right. I know I am, and I look forward to many future visits.
Oct 24, 2014
Today we are asking Shannon Harris five questions. I don't know what to say about this woman because she's one of my best friends and godmother to my boy. She has great vision, really cares about her city, works harder than any woman I know and is just amazing. She's been a big part of Design Week Birmingham from the get go, and you should totally go see her at the Printer's Fair at Trim Tab Brewing Co. this weekend.
Here are five questions with Shannon Harris...
1/ What Pantone color is Shannon Harris? 805c
2/ What is your favorite period of design? What three characteristics make it your favorite? The New York School pragmatism, informality, symbolism
3/ If Shannon Harris was a band, what would it sound like or who would it be? The Cars
4/ What are your favorite tools for your trade or otherwise? Adobe pen tool, box cutter, bar spoon
5/ Drinks with any designer dead or alive...who is it and what are you each drinking? Tibor Kalman, founder of M&Co and the creative force behind Colors magazine. He's having a Negroni and I'll have the bourbon version, a Boulevardier.
Shannon Harris is a Senior Art Director living in Birmingham, Alabama. She works at BIG Communications with her husband Matt Harris and dog Booda Harris. She likes bold graphics, simple messages, good office vibes, and connecting the dots.
Sep 10, 2014
I love a lot of people, it's true. But I LOVE love Carrie Rollwagen. She's my bookseller. She's my coffee maker. She's my friend. She's totally hilarious, has the prettiest blue eyes ever, rides Amtrak back and forth just to have the ideal writing experience and she shopped 100% local for a year. And then wrote a book about it. With her wit, honesty and love for ma and pa shops, I am DYING to read this book!
Sep 4, 2014
Our friends Sean and Alex are happy newlyweds. Their sweet little Camry is about 310K miles deep and nearing her last breaths. So they made a car commercial to enter in a contest to win a new car for their new little family. The car commercial is pretttttty funny, so just share and 'like' it and share it a lot on Facebook to help them get ahead a little. And what makes this so much cooler is that for every 'like' they get, they're going to donate $1 to John Mark and Ashley Dorough's journey to adoption. This is the kind of stuff we love- a simple action that will bless two families. Share it.
Jun 27, 2014
Man, this Essential Summer list is a special one, contributed by our very dear friend Tebogo Bogatsu. We met Tebogo via Instagram. He has been a huge supporter and encourager of us. It was born out of a love of style, family, music, life. We emailed and exchanged addresses, sending each other care packages around the world. Tebogo is from South Africa and lives in Italy with his beautiful wife and two children. In this relationship, we've really come to appreciate how amazing the Internet can be, connecting people that might not ever have the opportunity to meet otherwise. In Tebogo's words he considers himself "a jack of all trades and master of none for now." He loves to meet new people and trying out different things as he feels that's "how we grow and acquire experience." "I live my life by the day and only things that matter are planned, otherwise I dive in headfirst."
Eating/ I am South African so I eat almost anything because of all the different nationalities that I grew up around. Now been living in Italy for eleven years, which now means eating more three-course meals at home (instead of everything in one serving) so here goes: pasta, rice salad, pizza, mozzerella, tuna finishing off with lovely summer fruit peaches, apricots, etc. (However I still love my double cheese burgers, kebab and chips.)
Drinking/ Well very many Italian families have a small vineyard which means that we too make our own home red wine so there is never a mean without wine, still water, espresso no sugar, black long coffee two sugars, tea with two sugar no milk
Practicing/ streetstyle photography, I have had a passion for photography since I was a little boy. Now I can experience it.
Mastering/ being a good father, concentrating, listening. I find that these are all traits that are good for me to live by.
Learning/ to brainstorm in a team, digital photography. While I'm trying to specialize in the photography, I'm busy starting some collaborations. Brainstorming is a vital key especially in a group.
Trying/ to be creative, do collaborations, cycling. I'm in love with creativity and keep chasing it around. So I need to be creative in an attempt to bring creativity closer.
Playing/ Meshell Ndegeocello, Finley Quaye, Capleton, Bob Marley, Grand Puba, Queen Ifrica, Duquette Johnston, Sade. Music is life and has the power to withdraw you from any given situation and relax you. I listen to different kinds of music for my life has different moods.
Reading/ blogs, poetry, interviews, style reviews, "streetfashion photography," "fotografia digitale," the monk who sold his Ferrari. Books are nice and it's always a pleasure getting a new book (unfortunately at times we leave them halfway) so I hop in and out of various books, blogs, etc. They live in symbiosis with my mood.
Wearing/ Bismillah shirts by ACF, khaki trousers (normal and drop crotch), white tees, espadrillas, my twelve year old mid top Converse, over 15 year old vintage vintage cap, fedora hats. I take pride in the way I look and like the other things I stated. My mood governs what I wear.
Cooking/ pasta with pesto, home made bread, pizza, BBQ, anything quick. I love spending time in the kitchen... The secret is making it enjoyable and not a must. Five minute cooking good, too.
Working/ CNC machining and programming, writing for a local online journal (in Italian). Trying to work on a lot of levels and keeping things going moves me.
Traveling/ just been to Belgium and intend on going back. England always in my heart and South Africa hopefully in August.
Wanting/ a vintage bicycle, more fedora hats and more collaborations. Wanting is not always about greed.
Enjoying the Essential Summer lists? You can check out more here.
Jul 3, 2014
We connected a while back with Christopher Thomas of Made South via social media, following each other and liking posts. You know how it goes. When I was crazy pregnant and on bed rest, a couple of unexpected packages arrived in the mail. We opened them up to find a glorified goody box of Southern made goods (standout items included these peanut butter and jelly truffles that I ate in three seconds flat and a box of letterpressed notecards with Southern-isms on them). There was a kind note from Christopher and a warm feeling in our hearts. They're family people and in true Southern style, they're people who reach out with a kind gesture when you're going through a time. That package meant a lot to me when it came. (Y'all I was so pregnant.)
Made South is a subscription service that delivers a box of great regionally made products that you may not have a chance to experience otherwise. Their latest box in all about Summer- baseball, barbecue and a long shower after a sweaty day.
Jun 23, 2014
Julie Garcés is one of those super hot, wildly stylish, hippy hearted New York City women. She and I connected over Instagram a while back and often offer each other feel good compliments and support and good advice on being mamas. That's a friend, y'all. In her words, she's "35. sales director for a chef and his restaurants, my babe is Rio Bonham (named after Zeppelin drummer John Bonham) he's 2. Sound engineer husband. Brooklyn for past 12 yrs. Surfer/skateboarding hippie in NYC, haha. That's me in a nutshell." Follow her awesome NYC adventures on Instagram, @julsgarces.
Trying/ a bunch of new sunscreens. Mama needs no wrinkles but doesn't mind freckles.
Cooking/ nothing. Grilling everything. Salads with micro greens, watermelon, salt, pepper and evoo are what I'm existing on.
Drinking/ rosé. Always. Peppermint iced tea with a dollop of raw honey mixed in.
Wanting/ more vintage adini dresses. Scouring eBay and yard sales in Woodstock (my summer place) for these treasures.
Playing/ with Rio. At the beach and in our garden.
Wasting/ money on fancy moisturizers. Coconut oil is where it's at!
Deciding/ between more blonde highlights or strawberry blonde status.
Enjoying/ where my career and motherhood balance is headed. And new friendships I've been lucky to gain this year.
Considering/ neighborhoods we want to buy in. Bronx vs Brooklyn. (Yes, Bronx is the new Brooklyn, now you know.)
Watching/ my weight. I tend to eat a ton of ice cream in the summer. My jeans are snug.
Needing/ lazy summer days in Woodstock including 4pm cocktail hour by the pool and later on a martini on the porch around 10pm.
Smelling/ patchouli lavender oil and sunscreen. Loving both. I know it's summer when I smell these two.
Wearing/ my hair in messy knots and braids. Mascara and lip stain only. Raquel Allegra tunics and cutoffs.
Noticing/ things about my husband that I haven't appreciated in a while and remembering it's what I fell in love with.
Buying/ dry shampoo (thanks Morgan!), lots of summer fruits, drinks out with the girls when I can.
Enjoying these Essential Summer lists? You can find more of them here.
Jun 20, 2014
Today's Essential Summer comes from Sheyda Mehrara, an old friend of mine and Duquette's. She's wildly stylish, gets more done and makes more happen than just about anyone I know and she comes from a Persian family. So basically, she's my dream girl! You can follow her on Instagram @sheyda_m and also at Time&Truth&Hearts.
SHEYDA: The name "Sheyda" is first referenced by Hafez, an ancient Persian poet. The meaning translates to "lovesick." Little did my parents know the impact the name would carry throughout my life. I catch myself falling in love countless times daily. Whether it's with a movie or a food or a friendship. It's particularly handy in the editorial and creative world, as it helps me connect with a story and feel the desire to share it.
Eating/ sautéed sweet potatoes with sliced avocado and drizzled balsamic vinegar. Or just an avocado half. Safe to say, I'm obsessed.
Drinking/ a simple gin and tonic from time to time. If I'm feeling fancy, I'll muddle some raspberries and thyme.
Practicing/ patience. I'm known for my curiosity, but sometimes the answers aren't readily available. It's a conscious effort to be at peace with that.
Mastering/ my sense of style. I lean toward clean-cut lines within a neutral palette for my daily wardrobe. It's becoming more about curating a quality-over-quantity closet.
Learning/ how to get around Atlanta without Siri. I just moved here for my new position, and it's a win every time I get from point A to point B without the maps.
Trying/ to keep my voice down. My vocal volume tries to compensate for my petite frame.
Playing/ hard to get. Kidding.
Remembering/ how blessed I am to be what I'm doing at 22 years old. I just returned from a weekend in Birmingham, where my parents held a graduation party for me. It's humbling to be around that many people who love and support you.
Wearing/ Aritzia. When I lived in Manhattan with two of these stores a few subway stops away...man, that was dangerous.
Cooking/ all the time. As annoying as food allergies can be, I've come to prefer cooking my own food.
Working/ at Eidé Magazine in Atlanta. It's surreal to work for a magazine with the mantra "World Culture, Southern Style." After countless summers traveling, Eidé provides an anchor for all my interests and experiences.
Traveling/ this summer is quite odd for my track record. I'm usually spending time with family overseas, but it's a nice change of pace to just adventure around Atlanta. It keeps my itch to travel at bay.
Wanting/ my own vegetable garden. And a sheep. Just one.
Want more Essential Summer? Check them all out here.
Jun 16, 2014
These Essential Summer lists are some of my favorite posts we do. It gives me a better glimpse into the lives of people I admire and just generally gets me even more excited about this Summer. Today's Essential Summer comes from Tonia Trotter, former gallerist, current domestic goddess, epicurian enthusiast and dancing queen. Tonia and I connected via Instagram as we carried babies at the same time and admired each other's impeccable tastes. And she's wickedly funny, too. Check out and follow Tonia on Instagram (@toniatrotter).
Eating/ Salads galore! This rainy summer has been good for my herb garden so far. I've been tossing tons of basil and mint in with micro greens, my fave seasonal fruits (peaches, watermelon and figs) and goat cheese from Stone Hollow Farmstead. I eat some combo of this every day.
Drinking/ Everything! Just kidding. Tequila, St Germain, sweet tea, muddled peaches and basil. I'm calling it "Tequila Mockingbird." Rose with dinner. Vision Cellars and Belle Glos are my faves right now.
Practicing/ Patience- with my family and myself. With a toddler, a newborn and a type A personality, that isn't easy.
Mastering/ Living on very, very little sleep (see aforementioned newborn).
Learning/ To let go. It's okay if my home isn't constantly magazine spread ready because there are toys scattered on my living room floor. It's okay if my body isn't immediately snapping back into pre-baby shape a la Gisele Bundchen. It's okay if I take a hiatus from my career to embrace this season of motherhood with two little ones. This is my current mantra.
Trying/ Ballet, a bob haircut, to cuddle with my husband when the kids are asleep.
Playing/ First Aid Kit, Local Natives, St Paul and the Broken Bones, Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 for pool days and early 90s hip hop. Whenever it comes on the radio, I can't help but start dancing. It's an automatic response.
Reading/ Not much right now. Skimming the news is about the best I can do with a one month old. Blogs on my iPhone at 3am while I'm nursing.
Remembering/ To be thankful.
Wearing/ Flats and anything floaty, linen and/or white. Insect repellant. Alabama summertime is no joke, y'all.
Cooking/ Simple salads, cous cous with mint and dried apricots, roasted chicken or fish overstuffed with herbs and citrus fruit.
Working/ On building our new house. I'm playing designer. It's fun but harder than I thought!
Traveling/ The lake, the Gulf and my old stomping grounds Nashville to visit friends.
Wanting/ A deep tissue massage and eight hours of sleep.
Want more of the Essential Summer lists? You can find them here.
Jun 13, 2014
Earlier this week I posted my Essential Summer list for these upcoming hot and bound to be memorable months, inspired by James over at Bleubird Blog. I sent the list around to a few friends and it's kind of turned into this really awesome thing. So today's list comes from Matt Lane Harris, the Bill Murray of design, Associate Creative Director at Big Communications, maven, evangelist, godfather to our son.
Eating/ From a lot of Trucks, BBQ, Vietnamese, Grape Fruit, Peanuts, Anything on a Cracker
Drinking/ Margaritas from Collins Bar, Glenlivet 12, Modelo Especial, Mountain Valley Water, Fresca, Slim Fast
Practicing/ Articulating, Temperature-Control, Knife Sharpening
Mastering/ Room Reading, Haggling, Cranking a Quadrajet in need of a rebuild, Iron-on patches, Metal Restoration, Found Line Art Extraction, Pomade Application
Learning/ To Remember Names, To Delegate, To navigate the car's sounds system, Amateur Antique Appraisal
Trying/ 10,000 steps on Fitbit, No Socks (Goldbond), Better Grooming Products, Ebay, More incense
Playing/ Spotify to Bluetooth, Noisli App, Aquarium Drunkard, First Aid Kit, Extra Classic, Lee Bains, Afghan Whigs, Real Estate, Sturgill Simpson, Nikki Lane, Endless Boogie, James Booker, Late 70's Stones, Black Uhuru, The Gladiators
Reading/ Preachers & Misfits, Prophets & Thieves (given to me by Morgan), The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, Collective Quarterly, American Frontiersman, Warranties, Wikipedia, The Selvedge Yard, Silodrome, Mashable
Remembering/ Times in my life I should of enjoyed more.
Wearing/ My first pair of shorts that weren't cut-offs, 'cone mills selvedge 505s I've had for a couple of years, old Ralph Lauren chinos I've patched back to life, black t-shirts, short sleeve button-ups, turquoise and silver, olive drab, dirty white Sperry CVOs, chelsea boots, Nike running shoes, assorted mesh-back truckers, clean drawers
Cooking/ Nothing that can't be grilled.
Working/ T-Shirt designs, Brand Work, Furniture Moving, Synergies
Traveling/ The Beach, The Lake, The Wiregrass, Atlanta, Nashville, anywhere John Montgomery will take me.
Wanting/ Spring back, The Right House, New Jeans, Liturgy, Southeast Asia, A spit-cup, Saltwater, Honda US90, Old Carbon Knives to Clean, Flyknits, Vintage Scuba Equipment, Equity, Red Dead Redemption 2, The Rob McDaniel Charcuterie Plate, Danger Pay, The Head of Alfredo Garcia, A Fresca
Want to see other Essential Summer lists? Click here.
Jun 6, 2014
I wanted to take a brief moment out of what I consider a hectic day, which my grandfather would have laughed at, and thank all the men and women who served in one way or another during World War II. Every war sucks and since I have never experienced it personally I will not begin to say one is worse than the other. What I do know is how WWII affected my grandfather, Robert Joseph Duquette. D Day was brutal as was the rest of the War and it was fought by young men, hell kids in many ways. My grandfather was more of a man by the age of 18 than I am at 41. Hell with out his influence on my life I would be a lost little boy. Duke was a captain of a platoon by the age of 23, that is insane to me. My grandfather was an incredible leader during the war, and came home to be an incredible leader to his family and his community in which he served. Thank you granddad for all the sacrifices you made in life so that your children, grandchildren, and everyone in this country could live a better life. You are my hero. I miss and love you everyday.
May 28, 2014
Sometimes the world can get you down. And then sometimes you see something so beautiful that it makes your heart swell up into your throat and you're thankful and hopeful in God, in individuals, in moments.
This video overwhelms me. Just take a moment.
Morgan, Duquette 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
Jan 3, 2014
I know the birth of my son is coming very, very, soon. When is completely up to God and this wild child who is currently trying to exhaust his mother before he is even born. I can not wait to meet Tennessee Wolf Johnston, my first son. I can not tell you the amount of hours I spend thinking and meditating on what it means to be a father to a son, thinking about my own childhood with my father and my grandfather and how they both impacted me. I consider myself blessed since I was essentially raised by both my father and my moms dad, spending the school year with grandfather and summers with my father.
Both of these men helped shape the man it would take me so long to become and both let me fall and get hurt, and make mistakes, and chart my own path to where I needed to be. They did not always like the decisions I made, but they were always supportive.
This video speaks volumes to me. It reminds me of my Grandfather Robert Joseph Duquette. It reminds me about how I was raised. My hope for all of you fathers, and mothers, on this Friday is that this inspires you to be a better parent, to love unconditionally, to teach your child about value, of his value and the value of others in the messed up world we all live in.
Duq, Morgan, and Tennessee Wolf
Jan 2, 2014
2014 is going to bring a lot of really exciting developments in the Johnston/ Rugged and Fancy world. We are just kind of waiting to see when our son is going to make his grand appearance, which is surprisingly not dictating our day to day right now. Yeah, my bones hurt really badly but I keep trucking along...and making plans for this year.
Last year was huge for us, without us really even realizing it until having come through the end of it. Rugged and Fancy really took shape and we figured out what it is, Duquette released this amazing record that took us to this whole new level of work and creativity...and just days later we found out we are having a baby. THAT was a shock. And sharing this may comfort or encourage someone... Duquette and I have been together 12 years and really thought that we just couldn't have a baby. It goes to show that it's in God's timing and that miracles can happen any day.
So this year, 2014 is about GETTING WEIRD. And creating a lot more. Eliminating the things in our lives that distract or cause bad noise. Especially TV, seriously. So what do I mean by getting weird? It's this phrase that Duq and I use to talk about getting to a creative and productive place where you let go of inhibitions and insecurities, take a chance, try something OUT THERE. It's the greatest place of creativity, I think.
I don't like resolutions, but I do like challenges. So every day I will be drawing something, and every day I will be taking a photo with the theme of "family." I will be sharing each of the images daily over on my Instagram (@ruggedandfancy) and posting images once or twice a week here on the blog. (Cool note: I make videos of the drawing process that will be posted only on Instagram, so check it out!)
Here's what came out of yesterday:
I actually did two yesterday just because it was so fun.
I am really excited about both of these series/challenges, but maybe extra excited about this one because we are having our first child in just weeks and I will have a year's worth of images, one a day, for his arrival and early months and the family of such cherished friends around us.
Here is the first image of the year:
This is Tennessee Wolf's room, a corner of it anyway. We still have SO much to do to prepare that space, BUT I have the reading corner set up. This chair belonged to Tennessee's great, great grandparents and the flag was his great grandfather's. Reading is so special and so important to me that I wanted this to be the first spot we set up. I go in there and rock and read to this dude in my belly. I love it. I think he loves it.
Anyway, I took this photo at 2am on Jan 1st. We had just gotten home from the best new year's eve ever, spent with our best friends and baby's godparents. We cooked a ridiculous amazing meal and exchanged gifts (a cool tradition for NYE that stemmed from 3/4s of the group having the flu over Christmas). I was so touched and surprised that everyone got our baby Christmas presents, a few of which are the awesome grey Wolf stuffed animal and Golden Books on the shelf.
Do any of you want to join me on this 365 photo challenge? Let me know what subject you choose and I would love to follow along! Just comment below!
Here's to getting weird, creating more and loving big in 2014.
Morgan, Duquette and Tennessee Wolf
Dec 20, 2013
Right now I am sitting in the recording studio waiting to rehearse for an event tomorrow, wondering when my son will be born, planning for his arrival and more. So my writing might be rather scatter brained, just being honest here.
I am very fortunate to be a part of Pipe and Gun and get to record and write in an such an inspiring and incredible space. From my vantage point Pipe and Gun is an art house. I will not try to go into what all Pipe and Gun is doing. This about an experience, it is about art, the art of music, the art of clothing design, the art of food, the art of painting and beyond. A Pipe and Gun event is a living thing.
So tomorrow in the neighborhood of Woodlawn, at a new venue Sound and Page, will be the first Pipe and Gun open shop. There will be clothing from LyonState out of Fairhope, Alabama, Bushsmarts camping gear, grooming products from Baxter of California, food from the kind gentlemen of Knife Party, libations from Joseph Yancey and music by Armand Margjeka, Noel, and myself. I hope you can all make it out.
Dec 18, 2013
Dec 12, 2013
I'm back, two days in a row. Who knew it was possible? We are making progress getting our home ready for the arrival of the little man, well the doctor says "big baby." I am so curious to meet him, but I do pray he waits until his due date to join us here in this world. The whole thing is straight alien... but aren't we all?
I know Morgan and I are not the only ones with too many tasks scribbled on paper, typed on apps and calendars, for ourselves and loved ones to help us remember them all. I know I never do. Hell, if it were not for my wife I would probably be a complete mess, just being honest. One thing I am very down with is getting rid of clutter, simplifying and being able to focus on the important things in life instead of running in circles. With that, I believe in using quality and buying less. Sometimes this means spending a little more money up front. It's just worth it, and we discuss and think through all purchases together, usually.
We believe in quality skincare products 100%. I've given my rambling speech about why I use what products I use on one than more occasion. Right now, here on planet earth in the year 2013, we are so fortunate to have access to so many incredible small businesses,independent businesses, people making a difference in their community and creating quality goods and services. I wanted to share just a few with you today and encourage you to support them as you're considering what to buy for gifts this season.
I started using the Ursa Major Skincare line earlier this year and I see no reason why I should ever quit. Based in Vermont, they have incredible ethics and run the company with the utmost integrity. I wrote a post last year about a different skincare line and it did not last. Morgan usually laughs about the number of times I have changed products. Those days are DONE, my friends. I started using it in Spring, through the heat of late summer, and now it's just as good in 20 degree weather. Ursa Major, it lasts a long time. This gift set comes with a dopp kit from Topo Designs another phenomenal American made company, but more on them later.
I am not sure how may times we have posted about Malin and Goetz and if you know me then you know how obsessed I am with one of their oils (that I try to keep close to my sleeve). They are based out of New York and have the best customer service around. I have been ordering from them for a few years and have never had a single problem. For me, the deodorant is well worth the price. It does an incredible job and is NOT full of aluminum or other crap. Trust me, the life you will get out of one stick of deodorant will shock you, and your friends and loved ones will be glad you don't stink like a monkey cage.
I have followed Juniper Ridge for a bit, but just recently picked some up while visiting Imogene and Willie in Nashville. I was originally drawn to the soap because the packaging reminded me of my childhood in Wyoming. I spent a better part of my early childhood getting bathed in creeks in the Big Horn Mountains and the soap was all natural and packaged very similar to the Juniper Ridge. So I dug into the company and how they are making their incredible soaps and colognes and you can not help but want to support them. They are artists in my eyes. Much like the time and effort I put into making albums, these folks spend many hours harvesting and making these products. I'm currently hooked on the Big Sur trail crew soap. You can nab it online or at some stores across the country like Imogene and Willie.
I hope this helps with some Holiday Gifts for men. Or women. Or yettis. You will be supporting small businesses and American owned and made companies. There are so many incredible, passionate people creating quality goods right in your hometown. Go meet them, support them and shop with them this holiday season.
Nov 20, 2013
Nov 19, 2013
It's really important to me that we listen to people's stories, especially when it comes to our parents (and grandparents if we are fortunate enough to still have them around). It's in these stories that you can gain deeper understanding of who those people were and are, what the world looked like to them and what that time was perhaps like before you came into it.
My most vivid story I have heard from my parents is their stories of where they were when President Kennedy was shot. Each of them were about ten years old. Each of them were in their elementary school classes, my father in Birmingham, Alabama and my mother in the same city as JFK, Dallas, Texas. Both of my parents distinctly remember sitting in class when the principal came over the intercom "with some very sad news, President Kennedy has been shot and killed." And each of my parents then recounts the flood of emotions felt by a ten year old who just lost their president, in a time when children idolized and respected the president, whoever he may be. They felt fear, grief, confusion and deep sadness. And the each tell me that they began to cry. Everyone was crying.
My dad told me that the biggest scandal he can remember as a child was the potential of electing a Catholic president, his Southern Baptist family gathered aound the long kitchen table with cigarettes and coffee and radio and whispers and protestations. But at the end of the day, Kennedy became president and people respected him.
How in 50 years have we gone so far from real patriotism and being so enamored of Our President the Hero? I am not saying we should or shouldn't see the president as anything, but it's something to think about in the passing of time, the changing of our culture, and while we somehow all look back today at the most picturesque family in American history with a little romanticism and sadness.
Y'all go do good stuff.
Morgan, Duquette and Tennessee
(Image source: Pinterest.)
Nov 14, 2013
This week has felt like Christmas to me. Maybe it's the quick approach of cold, cold weather or starting the week with a holiday or having suddenly realized that this is the only time in my life that I will be expecting my first child and I should really try to savor the moments.
Today, I just want to post a few beautiful photos of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas. They had a float in the Veterans Day Parade this Monday, and I was just blown away by the multiple generations gathered, wearing ceremonial costume, performing these amazing dances. There were many Coushatta veterans, and it was cool to see them honored in such a special and intimate way publicly.
When I was a kid in the Alabama public school system, we learned Alabama history in fourth grade. A large section was about the Indian Tribes of Alabama. This section of history class fascinated me more than anything. The deep South is incredibly rich in Native American history with so many historical locations to visit and learn (the Moundville Archaeological Park is one of my favorite Alabama treasures).
I also was really fortunate to spend some close time with the Santo Domingo Pueblo of New Mexico. My dad was a hot air balloon pilot for a spell. He had always spent a lot of time out in Taos and Albuquerque and had made some very close friends within the tribe. I remember being nine years old and spending the day on the Santo Domingo reservation with Mary Rosetta, a beautiful elderly woman who you would assume is crippled with age but was still so full of life and energy. She was a master jeweler, mother, grandmother, probably great grandmother. She and my parents had been friends for years and she invited our family to her home to share a meal and to show me how she made jewelry. Maybe this was the beginning of my fascination with adornment. Maybe this instilled some underlying desire to create jewelry. I remember standing outside her home, watching her pull hot flatbread from a clay oven. And I remember her taking me to pick green apples from her trees. It was the best apple I have ever had.
There's a big conversation going on these days surrounding Caucasian appropriations of Indian themes, especially in fashion. I am not attempting to address those issues. Just educate yourself. Be respectful. We are all in this together.
Love, Morgan, Duq and Tennessee
Nov 12, 2013
I am going to be honest. Yesterday's Veterans Day Parade was the first one I have ever attended. I can't tell you why, and I can do no more than tell you that I will be in attendance every year possible in the future. It was a really emotional moment for me, standing as a young pregnant woman, applauding hundreds of heroes. There were the wheelchair bound WWII veterans and the wheelchair bound Iraq veterans. There were women who gave their lives to nursing over 60 years ago. There were biker gangs of Vietnam vets. There were mothers and fathers in uniform, clutching onto their children who were so proud and happy in that moment. There were the parents of young soldiers who lost their lives in battle. There were moments when my eyes met the eyes of someone who has seen more intensity than I will probably ever know in life, and I got to say thank you. And those veterans thanked me in return. That was such a powerful and unbalanced moment. I shouldn't be thanked for simply showing up and showing respect and love.
We all need to show up. In whatever way we can. Whether it is volunteering, spending time and listening to the stories that need to be told and heard, donating, showing up and saying thank you. Please consider connecting with these worthy organizations, and share with anyone you can.
Support the USO.
Help our homeless veterans.
Say thank you. I mean it. "Thank you."
I love y'all. So much. I am really thankful to have the opportunity to tell you this. Daily. Duquette and I are really big believers in just showing people love. Please go do the same. Let yourself feel something big and sometimes overwhelming. We are all in this together.
Morgan, Duquette and Tennessee
Nov 11, 2013
The photo above depicts the 1970 Veterans Day Parade in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. Hundreds of thousands of people had assembled to honor and celebrate those who served in any war. Veterans Day goes back to 1945, sparked by a WWII veteran's idea to expand Armistice Day to a day recognizing all who fought in a war. And Birmingham, Alabama is home to the oldest Veterans Day Parade in the US!
There's a really beautiful web site for the event that lays out the history, here. All of our grandfathers served in wars. They were handsome, brave, maybe a little reckless (I know one did it partially for the travel and the girls). All of these men, our grandfathers, were full of life and love and wisdom and a strictness that came from that military training (and contributed to any sense of responsibility and regimen that Duq and I have today).
Today, we all put our politics aside to say thank you, we honor and respect you because you have taken a path that often seems more than anyone could or should ever walk, for believing in something greater than yourself and on the behalves of everyone else. Thank you for being brave and strong. We are glad to see you home.
And to everyone, please find a way to give something toward helping veterans. For many of them, returning home is not the end of their battle. If you want to know how to give back to a veteran, click here.
And come out for the parade today. It's going to be beautiful! For full details, click HERE.
Nov 7, 2013
Yesterday morning I woke up before dawn, got layered up and hopped in the car with Duquette and took the back roads out to Childersburg, Alabama to spend the morning on Stone Hollow Farm. They're the people that create the most delectable, natural, fresh from the farm food that I often pick up at The Pantry in Crestline Village.
Duquette and I both grew up far outside of cities and those years spent around animals and trees and wide open spaces hugely impacted us as adults. We each ended up being really curious and filled with a desire to get in the car and go get lost outside of what we know (what we know, being the city these days). It's funny how once we crested a small Alabama mountain and looked out into the valley of nothing but trees and fog, I just breathed this huge sigh of relief, of gratitude, of peace, of fresh air.
We all need that. To get outside of the city for fresh air and some much needed perspective. As we hugged curves and passed through little towns with beautiful names that you might miss if you blink your eyes (Vandiver or Vincent or...), it occurred to me that so many people, especially kids and teenagers, are growing up all over the place without ever seeing some of these things that I was looking at in that very moment. They may never see the full breadth of Fall's colors from the top of a mountain. They may never see an old downtown with a central street, an old timey gas station, a barber shop and people sitting doing nothing and everything on a corner bench.
Once you get to Childersburg, it's straight up farm land. Again, this is something I am afraid is rarely seen firsthand by people today. There's something so cool about driving down old roads, through open fields of crops and seeing a 200 year old house every dozen miles. People still live in those houses. People still get out and work in those fields. And, to my great delight, a few kids are still growing up this way. Guess what, a lot of these locations don't have any cellular service or Internet access. The quiet out there is beautiful and liberating. (Though even I will admit to picking up my phone a few times to see if I had 4G yet.)
Being on the farm was just a delight. I hadn't smelled straw and a stable since my childhood at my grandfather's horse farm. It was an intense sensory memory that I am so thankful I had yesterday. It was crazy how attentive I was to everything out there, like I just wildly wanted to absorb the sights and smells and sounds and kind of have it absorb me in return. Hey, I had on my tall rubber boots after all.
I walked among goats and chickens and turkeys and geese. Like, I actually walked around with them only inches from me in every direction. It occurred to me that a lot of people may have never been that close to these kinds of animals, especially without a barrier dividing them from "the wild." Is a petting zoo really an encounter with an animal? I don't know that I think it is anymore. Funny story, a goat had knocked down a gate door that had only recently been put up. The goat just wanted to roam a little bit more. #FarmProblems, haha.
At the end of our visit, through the drive back to the city and well into the night I just felt more alive, more myself and deeply, deeply satisfied. Go get in your car, get out on an old country highway or road. Turn off everything. Visit a farm. Take your kids. Wear your mud boots.
Love y'all deeply,
Nov 6, 2013
This morning Duquette and I are going on a farm visit, which I am SO excited about-- Fall foliage, crisp weather and mini goats, YES PLEASE.
But here are two amazing stories:
1. Over $1 BILLION in art stolen by the Nazis has been recovered! Check out the story, here.
2. An eight year old wrote the beginning of an actual novel. And his parents hosted a book reading, here. I really hope to be that kind of parent, who encourages daring greatly and helps my kid to see that hard work can pay off beautifully.
We love y'all and hope you have an awesome day!
M, D, T
Nov 5, 2013
Alabama can be unpredictable with its seasons. My country Alabama childhood had so many memories of cold Falls with firey colors streaked far above my head in the trees and sunsets. The Winters were collllllllld, wearing parachute puffy jackets and leg warmers and playing in the snow on Christmas. There were even a couple Thanksgivings with abundant snow dusting. Dad would pull me down our hill on a sled before Mom pulled out my sponge rollers and put me in my velvet and peter pan collared fancy dress. Last year was a disappointment seasonally. We went from a HOT summer straight to cold and just WET. It was sad and too grey.
BUT THIS YEAR... this Fall is the prettiest Fall I can remember. I find myself driving slower so I can look at the purples and oranges and yellows and reds all around me. I walk slower in my backyard in case there is that perfect leaf of color that I really should pick up and hold onto.
And all I want is to spend time with my family and friends.
Here are a few photos from Day of the Dead this past weekend. Duquette and I had not been to the celebration here in several years, and man, it's grown! It was the first year we have worn makeup for the occasion, too. And my favorite part of the night was helping everyone with their makeup at a friend's loft and then sitting around a giant fire in our backyard afterwards, making s'mores and looking like skeletons.
This is me and Duquette. We gave him an alter ego, El Duq.
This is Morgan and Jordan. Check ut Morgan's blog, Darling Mint. I love it.
And these are a couple photos from a smoke machine/strobe light dance party that suddenly happened at the loft.
Duquette and I went to my dad's house on Sunday. He lives on top of a mountain, and his backyard overlooks a beautiful valley. It's one of our happy places, and I've just never seen it this beautiful.
These are actually two different trees, on two different parts of the property.
I am getting outside today to soak up the beauty of this season, pick up some leaves, take some photos. I hope you have the opportunity to do the same!
Morgan, Duquette, Tennessee
Nov 1, 2013
Duquette and I haven't really celebrated Halloween in 10+ years we have been together. It's just not the Halloween that we go all out for...well, except that year I totally dressed up as Amy Winehouse will a full sleeve of fake tattoos and giant beehive, and I convinced him to go as Lou Reed with a wig and leather jacket... I digress. We are more Thanksgiving and Christmas people, but as we get closer to bringing a little baby into the world I grow more and more excited about Halloween and the imagination and surprise it will entail for our son.
We hung out in Woodlawn last night, handing out candy with Communicating Vessels to neighborhood kids who braved the pending storm to get decked out and come down. I haven't been in a Trick or Treating situation since I was a kid, so I was so happy to watch all these candy crazed little kids running around. Ninjas and princesses were big themes, but I was really amazed at the sheer use of color, random items and attitude behind it all.
Here are some of my favorite photos from last night. And, y'all I am having such a blast carrying around an actual camera again!
Oct 30, 2013
Do you ever have those moments where you are just so crazy excited to be a part of something? Last night there was a huge street party in Woodlawn, officially part of a community development initiative but, more importantly, a chance for the people who live there and have lived there to get out, share music and dance and food and dance like wild in the middle of the street. It started with Woodlawn High School's marching band, marching from the high school down the street and around the corner to an empty parking lot. It was amazing. They are amazing. I got really emotional between the deep thud of the bass drums and seeing the intense pride and ownership these high school kids have when they play.
It was something hopeful to me, a beacon of the future and possibilities. And it inspired me so much that I picked up my old Canon for the first time in over a year. I was flying around the crowd like a crazed woman, and let me tell you, I crouched down low for some shots and definitely forgot I have a considerable pregnant belly to mind.
My favorite images from the night are of the dance team. These girls are beautiful and talented and sassy, and the lines created by their movements and hair are really dynamic. And the facial expressions, too. Of course. Come on.
This image above has this Charlie's Angels slash Beyonce vibe. It also reminds me of when I was a little girl and thought the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders were the most beautiful and most important women alive. This is a true story. I was three.
I am just really proud of this image above.
I am really obsessed with street style, especially inner city style. And these young kids totally have their own thing going on. I was psyched to get to hang out with them and take some photos in between dancing.
If you're in Birmingham, y'all come down to Woodlawn this week. There's amazing stuff going on all weekend. If not, get out and walk around the streets of your city. There is so much inspiration everywhere.
Oct 29, 2013
Day to day, Duquette and I change up our work locations, sometimes making me feel a little bit like Goldilocks. It's too cold, too hot, too close to bed, too crowded, too many stairs, too familiar... We are so thankful to get to live creative lives and getting the freedom to choose where we are working, and we totally feel the need to change it up when we start getting comfortable or feeling stale.
And right now is a pretty exciting time in the city we call home, Birmingham.
This week we are working down at Communicating Vessels in Woodlawn during the REVIVE Birmingham street life project. This is totally one of our home away from homes, getting to work and hang in a really inspiring space, around some of the most creative people we know. The door is wide open this week, too for you to come down, say hey, listen to some new records in the store front, and be sure to check out the afternoon happenings! Tonight from 4-6pm a bunch of badass Birmingham marching bands and step crews are coming down for a street party. And then there's a show at Sound and Page (Red Harp and Preston Lovinggood). And Ferocious Dogs. Yum.
For a messy kitchen, it sure looks pretty.
I find myself catching glimpse of odds and ends just laying around that really inspire me.
We were among the 75 people at the Sound and Page opening last night on 1st Avenue South. This was before the doors opened, Duq is listening to sound check and it was just picture perfect. That whole space is.
And this is a ticket from Sound and Page. I really appreciate the attention to detail. The stamp of authenticity is a fingerprint inked on before the show and each ticket is numbered.
Seriously, y'all come see us. We've got Woodlawn High shirts for sale, too. But mostly just come say hey and see all the cool stuff happening.
Morgan Duq and Tennessee
Oct 24, 2013
Tonight, 7PM sharp at 212 24th Street North BHAM... Mountain Child is a really great humanitarian organization that provides aid to children of the Himalayas. A group of people are traveling to Nepal to hike for days up into the mountains to provide food, medical aid, education and love to children who have a 50% chance of survival to their eighth birthdays. (If you want to help out but cannot attend tonight, just click here to donate online!)
So come out tonight and help get these people to the other side of the world. Help to help people. Duquette Johnston will be playing a very rare set of songs from unreleased albums with a special appearance from Caleb Chancey of War Jacket, The Clay States and Wilder Adkins.
And afterwards, we will all head to Bottletree Cafe to see Langhorne Slim and Jonny Fritz.
Love y'all. Have a good one. Be kind to each other. Practice love and not violence.
Morgan, Duq and Tennessee
Oct 3, 2013
So you probably know that this week we are participating in the Revive Birmingham downtown week. For Birmingham, this is a first time experience with putting multiple business owners/vendors in multiple empty properties in a concentrated area. We have had a blast sharing a space with Big City Brand, Made in the Magic City and Yellowhammer Creative. We have this huge semi-constructed space in a former department store and each of us has worked to create an experience for shoppers, but the coolest thing has been how we have gotten to know each other, planning for future collaborations, blasting ridiculous music in that afternoon stretch of time where there just isn't traffic in downtown Bham...
And the after:
Duquette and I went into this really having no idea what to expect other than an interesting market test, and every day is getting better with increased traffic, repeat visitors who come to sit and talk and listen to music, and all I could ask for more would be that Revive lasted a month in one location with lots of vendors and shared locations and store fronts...and I would love to serve a good glass of Whiskey in those 5pm to 8pm hours.
So what really is a pop up? And where did this all come from? In the late 1990's a company out of California wanted to see what would happen if they got niche retailers with limited edition products, put them in a space temporarily and each stayed open until they ran out of their product, then moving to a new targeted space to do it all over again. That company, Vacant is still around today creating unique shop experiences putting it really well, "Not all shops are created equal." I agree.
So the pop up shop hit NYC in 2003, with heavy hitting names and cool people brands. This incarnation of the pop up is what we are all pretty familiar with. There's also a crew of people utilizing the pop up experience for do it yourself urbanism. Popuphood is a great example of this working well, revitalizing neighborhoods block by block by getting small businesses in empty spaces.
So what is this whole concept? It's the idea that suddenly a well thought, good looking shop/space/experience opens its doors, when only the day before it was a dark, vacant space. And just as quickly as it came, it would one day suddenly disappear. It's great for a brand in that it creates a whole new relationship with the consumer, often gaining new customers and fans...and it's great for the consumer in that it's a full experience, customized to the location and the people. It's engaging. It's non traditional. And as a pop up shop participant, it's really cool to think that you are building relationships and helping people see things a different way through your created experience.
For us, Rugged and Fancy, it looks like a cabin inside a cypress forest, with a ceiling of branches and boughs that carves out a large-ish alcove in which we have a Lookout Mountain Rocker, bench and a couple other chairs set up to encourage sitting a spell, relaxing, enjoying the moment. And walk around a bit and see the vintage military pieces we have from around the world, the deadstock 60s Ray Bans that sit on a table with great vinyl and woodwork and the best smelling candle ever. Oh, look over there are these really great long, thin tables with some really cool gift books that totally go with the vibe of the forest shop, some great jewelry for men and women and man, that rosemary smells great. Price points range from $20 limited edition t-shirts to $200 Rhodesian military jackets (ask me the story, it's REALLY cool). And all we want is for you to come say hey. It's not about the sales this week, necessarily. It's about building relationships. Just like we have with the other shops sharing the space.
So after this? We are launching the official Rugged and Fancy online store. And people keep asking about a brick and mortar... I will just say we are believers in strong foundations and longevity. But you'll see us around. And be sure to say hey.
Love, Morgan and Duq
Oct 1, 2013
We just wanted to check in before going down to the shop to open up for the day. They're trying to figure out Internet for us, but until then we've got our phones and iPad and a Square if you feel like picking up something.
Here are some photos of our space. Come down and see us 1914 Third Avenue North, Birmingham, AL. We will be there through Friday, 11am-8pm. Come take a seat in the little forest cabin we've built.
Sep 27, 2013
This coming Monday through Friday, we are setting up a temporary shop with our friends from Big Communications as they launch their latest project, Big City Brand. There's this thing happening called Revive Birmingham and from 9/30 to 10/4 a bunch of people are going occupy a stretch of Third Avenue North in downtown Birmingham. We will be in the Burger-Phillips building (1914 3rd Avenue North), formerly a department store.
We will have an edited selection of vintage Pendleton, LL Bean, wearable militaria from around the world, 1960s deadstock Ray Bans, vintage Coach and leather bags and more, alongside Rugged and Fancy Collection jewelry and the debut of Rugged and Fancy Apparel!
And we are really excited to be working with Wood Studio, Garden and Gun's Made in the South Overall Winner 2012 with a curated selection of wood studio furniture and small goods. We can't wait to share these pieces with you!
Also, we have worked with Church Street Coffee and Books in choosing a collection of amazing books that go along with the vibe of the shop that we will be offering in the space next week. It was so cool working with Carrie Rollwagon on selecting these incredible titles!
Sep 19, 2013
Last night in the humid concrete valley of downtown Birmingham, Alabama 100+ people gathered by twilight on one city block, amidst cabbages and kale, arugula and seven foot wild flowers. The smell of city exhaust disappeared once crossing onto Jones Valley Teaching Farm, where the thick billows of barbeque smoke and fresh turned dirt filled your nostrils. It was the 8th Annual Twilight Supper, a tradition that goes back to the farm's first incarnation, a large-ish lot on a busy street in the Southtown Projects.
Duquette and I have had the honor a few times to attend the Twilight Suppers, on the original farm, out at Mount Laurel and now in The Gardens at Park Place. The Twilight Supper has evolved from a very small gathering with some good food to a select and intimate event for JVTF's greatest visionaries and supporters, with some fantastic music, superb cocktails, a spectacular live auction and a meal prepared by some of the greatest chefs our country has to offer.
It's the Benevolent Order of the Long Table, BOLT, and the people gathered at that long table, only a foot from the very foods they sit and share together as a family, are there to share in the joy and hope of the night's festivities and fundraising and tomorrow's education of young minds. The people that gather at the table are taking responsibility and investing in the future of children and their education through school food and farming programs in the inner city. At the hands of director Grant Brigham, JVTF has achieved its goal to educate 10,000 students in 2011 and launched the Good School Food program to bring hands-on food education into schools. In 2013 JVTF has educated another 10,000 students and is in multiple schools across the Birmingham Metro area. Grant is really inspiring to me and Duquette-- inviting people not to give or donate, but to invest in a long-term vision and to spread the gospel of good food. This really is community.
And last night that community included The Fatback Collective, a group that now includes chefs, restauranteurs, thinkers and entrepreneurs from across the country. They strive to challenge the average, to build community and to support farmers, artisans and good causes.
Who They Are:
These are the heavy hitters in food, y'all. You need to know them, you need to eat at their restaurants. You need to follow them-- online and to the events they put on.
The meal was ridiculously indulgent, with rounds of red snapper and corn salad, followed by whole pork porchetta and black eyed peas, followed by BBQ chicken and the most delicious potatoes I've ever had. I got so excited about the courses, so caught up in the process of clearing room on the table to help each other portion out this delicious fare, I forgot to take photos of the food. But I think that is a strong testament to just how good something is-- you forget about chronicling it and you just EXPERIENCE it.
This is a whole pig porchetta. You take the bones out, roll it up in itself and let it cook over hot coals for a really long time. It was beautiful.
After dinner we all made our way to a rolicking live auction featuring 20+ year old bottles of Pappy van Winkle, trips to Brazil and a personal 10 guest dinner prepared by Chef Frank Stitt. Following the auction, Nashville musician Nikki Lane took the stage as revellers grabbed anyone in the vicinity and danced into the night.
And as you made your way to the outskirt of the farm, before crossing that threshold back into the sights and sounds of the city, you once more passed the giant glowing "BOLT, " shining brighter than the full moon above. JVTF graciously gifted each attendee with a copy of Rohan Anderson's Whole Larder Love, a treasured tome about hunting and gathering and changing your life with food. Rohan spent some time in Birmingham and with Jones Valley earlier this summer, which you can read about here. He came all the way from Australia, and it just goes to show that community is so much bigger than your geography.
Join us in spreading the message of good food, in taking back our health and in helping bring up a new generation of people connected to their land, connected to their health, connected to their food.
Sep 11, 2013
It's 9/11 and that's a date none of us can forget. I struggle with commemorating horrific events, but I do encourage pausing and reflecting on where we are, where we've been and where we are going. There are so many just terrible things going on in the world, in our country, in our own streets. There's an apathy that hangs thick in the air these days and it's up to each of us as sentient human beings to bat it away, blink our eyes and do something good.
Just do good.
It's pretty simple.
I want to do my part to create and preserve some beauty in this world. Do yours. We'll be good.
Love y'all, seriously.
Morgan, Duq and Nugget
Sep 6, 2013
Sep 3, 2013
Have you ever seen a Scuppernong? It's a giant golden grape that only grows in the South, where temperatures seldom drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. With average sized hands, I can only fit about five in my palm, and with a rather big mouth, I'd be lucky to get more than three in there. But that's not the sort of "grape" you start shoving fistfulls into your mouth.
Growing up in the deep South, I remember finding muscadine vines out in the country that just seemed to have planted themselves and grown there for generations. To a small child, such a large grape seems like something out of a bedtime fable. (Well, when little girls go walking in the woods and happen upon a giant vine with giant grapes...) There were a few times I saw old glass jugs passed around a small gathering, containing Muscadine Wine, a strange sweet and pungent libation that just wasn't very good. You're not going to see a lot of muscadines or scuppernongs unless you know to look for them, and they're not something people are clamoring to buy at the market. Their skins are tough, their pulps are thick and filled with so many seeds, and it's just not a food I would ever sit around and eat (though the taste is both sweet and sour and worth the experience).
So why am I writing about Scuppernongs? We ended up with two pounds of them last week in a little farm basket, a gift from a kind 65 year old farmer who lives in Hayden, Alabama. Long story short, Duquette never meets a stranger and spent the day with Mr. Mann on his farm after having a conversation that morning at his farm stand just at the bottom of Smokerise Mountain. I let those Scuppernongs sit on my counter for days. I looked at them and thought how beautiful they are, but didn't have the slightest idea about what to do with them.
And then Labor Day weekend came, the last days of summer. I wanted to cook a big meal for friends, and those Scuppernongs were singing the faintest song, challenging me to do something amazing with them. With my cookbooks and iPad on the counter in the kitchen, I searched and searched for a Scuppernong recipe that people would actually enjoy. There were a lot of results for jellies and wines, but that's not what I wanted. I wanted something old Southern, traditional, and tasty. And then I found Rebecca Lang's food blog and "The Recipe That Almost Died," belonging to her grandmother Tom. An old Southern recipe that was in peril of extinction? A woman named Tom? This was it!
Let me tell you that working with Scuppernongs requires time, dedication, and the sure belief that it is going to be worth it. Separating the hull from the pulp and seeds took about an hour. Or more. But I believed in it, and I tasted the cups full of juice it was yielding, this nectar sweet tartness. I should also mention that your pie will be mostly made of of the HULLS of Scuppernongs. I was nervous but on a mission. Did I mention this is the first pie I have ever made??
The result, after about two and a half hours of prep and nearly an hour and a half of baking, that pie came out of the oven just as guests arrived. What started as the most beautiful golden grapes became a rich berry color, bubbling through the um, "rustic" crust of a woman's first pie. It smelled DELICIOUS. We waited until after dinner to cut into it. The anticipation and nerves had certainly built after A DAY spent making this pie. It was still slightly warm and we paired it with Vanilla Bean ice cream...
IT WAS THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER MADE. Everyone was raving about the wild sweetness with a slightly sour aftertaste (which paired perfectly with the ice cream). The hulls had softened and caramelized, making the perfect filling. And even my ugly crust was just perfect. Everyone had seconds... and talked about it all weekend. I wrote the recipe down on a 3"x5" card and stuffed it in my much loved recipe box, the newest addition to the Johnston family arsenal of amazing desserts. I will probably reserve it for once a year, when the Summer is drawing to a close and you're gathered with family and friends with nothing to do but sit around and eat pie.
Special thanks to Rebecca Lang and her grandmother Tom for this! Want the recipe? Follow the link above!
Aug 30, 2013
It is so important to take time to stop and spend quality time with friends and family. With our family getting ready to expand with the pending arrival of little Nugget, this is becoming more important to us. Even with clients emailing and calling you have to know when to say the day is done and it is family time.
This week has flown by with me out scouting farms for a client's video and Morgan getting things organized for shipping out the vinyl copies of my album, which we are so thrilled finally arrived from the production company!!
This is the Wizard Jeffrey Cain holding up a clear copy of the vinyl.We've pressed clear vinyl for the first limited run.
Aug 28, 2013
Aug 23, 2013
Well I had all these great things to write and show y'all about the Sidewalk Film Festival going on in Birmingham, Alabama this weekend, but my computer or this website is not letting me add links so I will just tell you to get off your ass this weekend and go explore your city. Shut off the computer, turn off the phone and go do stuff with friends and family, hell make some new friends. If you are in Birmingham Alabama or nearby go check out the Film Festival, or one of the many incredible shows or music shows going on. Like tonight the album launch party of my friends and label mates Shaheed and DJ Supreme at Parkside Cafe, or War Jacket at Workplay, or tomorrow night my friends Joey and Kelly from Glossary are playing a house show in Birmingham. The list of this weekends events are pretty endless, there is something for everyone.
I'll be heading up to Florence, Alabama for the Billy Reid Shindig. I love Billy and his entire team and the events they put together. Billy understands community and supports it like few people do. First I might have to hit up my barber for a quick tune up. Gentleman don't forget to see your local barber and if you do not have one email me and I can connect you with the right person.
Have a beautiful Blessed weekend.
Aug 22, 2013
A year or so ago I met a man who goes by the name Basement Fox. I began following him online and was blown away by his creativity. Not only how creative he was, but the different outlets in which he used his gifts, music, photography, and film. The work ethic which he puts into his craft, very purposeful, very provocative is so inspiring. On a recent trip to Nashville I went to hang out at my friend Eric Masse's studio the Casino. There is always incredible music coming out of this spot in the middle of a neighborhood, Rayland Baxter, Caitlin Rose, Escondido and much more. Add to that list the work Basement Fox has been doing with his music.
The day I went by Basement Fox was working on a music short film. The story for the film came from a song he had written, then he deconstructed it to make the soundtrack for the film. I was just blown away by his entire process. When you get around people who do not waste their days on this planet it is infectious. I love to be around people who might wait tables or bar tend or something, but when they get off work they are honing their craft, working on personal projects and sometimes paying projects, but either way they always creating, not being complacent or content with where they are.
So with less rambling from me I will let the music short film presented by Basement Fox showcase just a peek into the mind and creativity of this great man.We will have more from Basement Fox in the future.
Aug 6, 2013
Part of Rugged and Fancy is sharing really great things going on in the community, whether it's close to our Birmingham, Alabama base or via the incredible network of people that become family through the Internet. Worth Motorcycles is doing something really important, really valuable and really, well, COOL.
Did you know that 680,040 fewer people would return to prison every year if the majority of US prisoners learned to restore vintage motorcycles?
Worth Motorcycles is a non-profit that offers community-based skill training to at-risk youth, teaching vital social and occupational skill sets in the form of vintage motorcycle restoration. Visit their web site, which is beyond rad. Read about it and then donate to the organization. And then follow the blog to learn more about vintage bikes, the sociology of at-risk youth and a heck of a lot of just awesome stuff.
Y'all have a great day.
Morgan and Duq
Aug 2, 2013
This is a beautful world we live in. Sometimes we forget that because we are bombarded with drama, and negativity and darkness. These things tend to sell more ads and this keeps the wheels greased and then the powers that be get lost in this instead of using where they have been placed to bring about positive change. Living in Birmingham we are surrounded by an incredible community of people who pouring their hearts into this city to bring about positive change and to bring more beauty into this world.
Go outside today, see the beauty of your community, see the beauty of your friends, enjoy your time with them as we are not promised tomorrow. Go live and share the beauty that is out there with the folks you come in contact with.
Duq and Morgan
Jul 22, 2013
Some people look far and wide across this crazy world for sources of inspiration and causes to support. What so many people miss out on are the people and organizations in the their own local community working diligently everyday to change the lives of others around them and they do it because they believe in change and working on change through positive outlets. One such organization is Jones Valley Teaching Farm.
I have been around JVTF since it began many years ago on a tiny piece of property right in the heart of the South Town housing projects in Birmingham Alabama. I do not want to wax poetic about where they have been, but I do want you to know about where they are going and the vision that the brilliant new director, Grant Brigham, has for Jones Valley Teaching Farm.
They just launched the online fundraising campaign to bring their Good School Food program to more schools and the surrounding communities in Birmingham. Good School Food is a comprehensive educational approach to working with school communities to close health and achievement gaps through innovative food education. The ripple affect a movement like this can have on a community is incredible. This is the first of many posts we will be making to support Jones Valley and their Good School Food program. Watch the video and please donate and support.
Who is inspiring you today?
Duq and Morgan
May 17, 2013
If you know us, or know my husband Duquette Johnston, you know we have spent the past year and a half working on his first new full length record in three years, "Rabbit Runs a Destiny." I say "we" because it has been a family affair between us as husband and wife, Armand Margjeka of Pipe and Gun, the family at Communicating Vessels, a group of the most talented musicians from around the country, Pledge Music, Peter and the entire Toolshed Media family, Standard Deluxe, Matt Lane Harris, Jason Hamric, and our community, including all of you.
Being a musician today, or the partner of a musician is hard. It's not all glamorous and it's definitely not as easy as just writing, recording, touring. You have to work really, really hard and really believe in your calling and your message, and lay everything on the line for it. It's scary. It's stressful. It's the most laborious thing you could imagine. But it's gratifying and emotional and exciting, too. But you do it because it's something you believe in. It's scary, but it's exhilerating, and it can only come from a place of true belief and dedication.
Part of what is making it really meaningful for us is partnering with Pledge Music. Maybe you're familiar with crowdsourcing platforms, like Kickstarter or Pledge Music. It's a really exciting, kind of new way for musicians, artists, entrepreneurs, organizations to raise money to fund their endeavors by asking YOU to partner with them in making something come to fruition. By investing in someone or a project, you become a part of the community surrounding it, with some really cool incentives, personal updates, and essentially a stake in a project's success.
We chose Pledge Music as the platform for getting "Rabbit Runs a Destiny" out there because we get to partner with an organization, giving 10% of our money raised to Pablove Foundation, who fights childhood cancer with love. It is something really important to us. We believe in giving, and Pablove is something really close to our hearts. Why? Pablo Thrailkill Castelez was five when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. In the year that he fought that battle before losing his life, we followed the blog that documented his journey and his family's journey. It was personal and honest and invited total strangers from around the globe to become a part of that journey. It touched us and spoke to some really personal places in each of our lives: Duquette's childhood mentor fought cancer for decades and he witnessed a dear friend's little brother valiantly fight and succumb to cancer at only 17. For me, I befriended a girl when we were five and she already had cancer. It was a part of our friendship. She passed away a year later. I also lost both of my grandparents to cancer, the people who raised me and I looked up to the most. Pablove is a legacy and is helping and changing many, many lives, and we want to do anything we can to ensure they get to keep doing this.
And it's that same sentiment that we come to you with. We need your help to keep doing what we do, what Duquette does, and in turn, we get to help others. Something I have learned in this year long process is that you can't rely on the notion that someone else is going to do it. If you want to see something happen for someone else, you have to get up, take part of it, and help. With the convenience of technology and the ease that it offers us to do things, we need to actually take the 30 seconds to retweet, email, follow a link, click the button. I've been guilty of putting it off until later, telling myself that there's someone else doing it so it's okay if I don't. No, it's not okay.
We need community, all of us. And there's something so exciting about having actually played a part in it. Take pride in it. Take ownership in it. Build a relationship. Just like we feel this way about partnering with Pablove, we want you to partner with us. Because we need you.
And here is how you can help:
Become a part of this record, our life, and Pablove via Pledge Music, here.
Tell people about it via Facebook, Twitter, email, word of mouth.
And here is some free stuff for you:
Free Rebel King EP on Noise Trade, here.
Free download of song "Rabbit Runs a Destiny" on NPR, here.
We thank you so deeply, for your support, encouragement and belief!
With so much love,
Morgan (and Duquette, too)