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Jan 19, 2016

My Experience at Elements Float Spa

Maybe you've heard about Floating AKA reduced environmental stimulant therapy (REST) or sensory deprivation. I'll admit I didn't know much about the therapy other than vague images of 1960s sci-fi iron lungs and a loose memory of an episode of The Simpsons where Homer and Lisa go into pods and trip out in the darkness. That said, I keep hearing about Floating and all the amazing physical and mental benefits it offers, and BOOM Birmingham has the only float spa in the state (and region, I believe), Elements Float Spa. When they invited me to come experience my first float I jumped at the opportunity. 

The main entrance to Elements. Really pretty and serene.

Me before my float. I seem a little uptight, right? I wasn't afterwards!

What is floating? So there's this amazing space age pod filled with 10 inches of water and 1000 pounds of medical grade Epsom salts, creating an environment where you absolutely float (think like the Dead Sea). At 93.5 degrees F, the water perfectly maintains your body temp, allowing your body and muscles to fully relax, and within 15-20 minutes you're in a really profound state of relaxation. 

What does that mean? So our brains operate of various wavelengths. Floating gives us the unique opportunity and environment to subtly change our body and brain's chemistry, switching to the parasympathetic nervous system and Theta brainwave frequency. It's in these states that the body fast tracks healing on a cellular level and the mind becomes quiet and still without falling asleep. It's a meditative state. You're not going to be hypnotized or be thrown into some deep state, unless you want and allow yourself to go there. 

What does it feel like and is it clean? Elements Float Spa is immaculately clean with all the vibes of a therapeutic spa. There are two rooms for floating, each room with a shower, a pod and any amenities you may need. You shower prior to your float, you get in the pod and you push a button to begin and the lights turn off, the filtration system stops and it is perfectly quiet and still. If you have issues with being enclosed in the dark, you can leave the pod door open or crack it and you can float in darkness or with a gently colored light that you can control. There's also the opportunity to plug in your own music if silence isn't your thing. Also, they offer you petroleum jelly if you need to cover any open scratches, cuts or sensitive skin that you don't want exposed to the salt. (I have a couple patches of eczema that I did not cover and while it burned pretty intensely for about 60 seconds, the salt was ultimately good for it.) They also give you standard earplugs if you worry about allowing your head to fully relax and be submerged in the salt water, and there's a mini foam roller to place behind your neck if you need some neck support. 

Each float room has earplugs, water barrier for sensitive skin, towels, flipflops, a foam roller for the neck and more.

Cleanliness is a top priority there. The salt content of the water itself is 30% and pathogenic organisms cannot survive higher than 10% salinity. And when you're not in the pod, there's a 24 hr/day UV and ozone filtration system at work. Firsthand experience, everything there is spotless and I feel super safe. 

When you get in the pod, the water feels dense and warm. In one hour I never became chilly or too hot, though the air does get a little thick with the door completely closed. You can always crack it if you need to, but I really enjoyed the door down and the air heavy. When you pull yourself out of the water, it feels almost gel like on your skin, though still being liquid. Your skin feels slippery and super hydrated. Your skin and hair do not get dried out or pruney! After my float was over, I simply rinsed off in the shower, not using soap or shampoo. And my hair looked freaking awesome for DAYS.

There is a relaxation lounge for use before and after your session. It's really peaceful and serene.

What was the float experience like? I was nervous at first because I went in there with these expectations that I should slip into a deep meditative state ASAP, and I actually struggled to fully relax once I was simply left with myself in the stillness. This speaks so much more to my own stuff that needs the therapy of floating: I am constantly in fight or flight/stress mode. I struggle to turn off because of being overstimulated in my day to day life. My first several minutes in the float pod were marked by recognizing this and accepting it. I also noticed that with the weightlessness of floating, I could pinpoint where actual physical pain exists. It's a little freaky at first because without all your other senses turned on, your thinking mind rushes to the place where there is sensation. Once I gave up trying to adjust myself and accepted myself, fidgety minded and a little achey in the neck, I started to relax. I focused on my breath. I fidgeted occasionally. I reminded myself that this was my time to accept rest, to accept peace and quiet and the benefits of the salt water. At a certain point I even sat up in the tub and just let my limbs move around and I had this memory of being a little kid and pretending to be a mermaid in anybody of water I could get in, and the words "sacred bath" popped into my head and I smiled and felt myself actually relax. This is not a New Age experience, but it was a deeply personal moment for me and speaks to the fact that each float is unique to the individual.

When I got out of the float, I felt lighter. My joints and the weight of my body felt lighter. I felt pretty radiant and man, my skin and hair looked radiant! And I felt those effects for three or four days afterwards. I noticed I handled stress better, that my baseline was less stressed, that I slept better and that I didn't have the body aches I normally do. That's the minerals at work on a cellular level! Magnesium is a mineral that we ALL NEED SO BADLY but are frequently deficient in. The float gave me a superdose in it that lasted for days!

The relaxation lounge has couches, info on floating, materials for journaling and a beautiful offering of teas and waters. 

What are the health benefits? There are SUCH EXTENSIVE benefits. Here are just a few that have some science behind them:

  • Help reduce the pain associated with Fibromyalgia and MS
  • Lowers cortisol levels, reduces stress, increases endorphins and dopamine production
  • Improves focus and concentration
  • Expediates rehabilitation and recovery
  • Improves circulation, oxygen levels in the blood, lowers BP and heart rate
  • Increases creativity and problem solving when brainwaves shift from Beta to Alpha to Theta (relaxation state)
  • Can promote greater emotional wellbeing from hormone balancing, Theta state, lowering cortisol and any meditation/inner work you may do in your Float

***If you have acute health conditions, talk to your doc and let the Spa know ahead of time. Floating is beneficial to pregnant women after the first trimester. 

In summary, I get it. I totally get why this is such a phenomenal healing modality whether you're looking at it from a purely medical/ physically therapeutic POV or if you're wanting some of the mental/emotional/spiritual benefits, too. And I fully believe that regular floats (weekly or 2/month) could mutually compliment other healing modalities (physical therapy, exercise, meditation, energy work). I have heard some really amazing testimonies of long-term float benefits in the improvement of depression and anxiety and chronic pain. It isn't cheap, but there are packages where you get good price breaks. 

Additionally, Elements Float Spa offers an infrared sauna and you can also book an energy session, wellness coaching appointment or Reiki with Sheri Bagwell. I met Sheri a while back, and she has become someone I cherish very deeply. I recently experienced one of her energy healing sessions to address some adrenal fatigue and some deep rooted energy blocks going back to my childhood and it has ROCKED MY WORLD in the best way possible. I will be having quarterly sessions with her as part of my Sacred Self Care regimen. But I will write more about that next week.

To book a session at Elements Float Spa, click here. It's a super easy process. And be sure to tell them that Rugged and Fancy sent you!

So Much Love,


CommentsCategories health and wellbeing Tags elements float spa sheri bagwell floating sensory deprivation rest fight or flight theta brainwaves rugged and fancy holistic wellness

Sep 28, 2015

FOOD FOR THE SEOUL: Celebrating Korean Thanksgiving

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. 


  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 cup chopped Chinese cabbage
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 stalks chopped green onions
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 package round Gyoza skins

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. 


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. 

CommentsCategories community food Tags west elm dinner party tonia trotter rugged and fancy korean thanksgiving chuseok yeowang pork dumpling recipe easy korean recipes

Sep 11, 2015


I love Tonia Trotter. We met via Instagram shortly after she moved to Birmingham from Nashville. We bonded over simultaneous pregnancy, glamour and art. She's a gallerist/curator on sabbatical after having her second child. We go to yoga together, text each other OMG photo moments of both Porter magazine photo spreads and ridiculous baby stuff, and we encourage my son Tennessee and her daughter Elise to kiss each other while we take pictures. Yeah, I know that sounds creepy and will expire in appropriateness very soon. 

Tonia is no stranger to Rugged and Fancy either. You can read her Korean beauty secrets here and if you're so obsessed with what she's obsessed with, you can check out what she was into last Summer here

PHOTO: Kenslie McGuire for Soca Clothing.


EATING// Noodle bowls. So easy, versatile and perfect for picky kids or entertaining. I prepare lots of toppings and everyone can make their own. My fave combo is buckwheat noodles in beef broth with kimchi, chopped kale, radishes, hardboiled egg and lots of green onions.

DRINKING// Very little alcohol. After two years of pregnancy and subsequent nursing, I have become such a lightweight! I can catch a buzz off of half a glass of wine these days! Since a full night of sleep isn't guaranteed with two munchkins, I've eschewed booze during the week for quality rest. I drink kombucha or herbal tea instead. On the weekends, I'll sip on a glass of Four Roses bourbon, Trim Tab's Raspberry Berliner Weisse, or Montinore Estate's Pinot Noir.

READING// All the September issues! I've devoured them every year since I was 13! Also, Judd Apatow's "Sick in the Head." I'm a sucker for a funny guy, and I have a girl crush on his wife, Leslie Mann.

LISTENING// Jenny Lewis, The Mavericks, Moon Taxi, Elle King, The Weeknd, Fetty Wap.

PRACTICING// Yoga. I've practiced on and off for a decade and have amazingly maintained my status as "beginner." I decided to step it up this summer- practicing 3-5 times/week, attending classes and pushing myself into more advanced poses and the ones I tended to avoid in the past because I always fell over. I would still describe myself as a novice, but I can feel myself getting stronger with every practice.

MASTERING// Dressing with purpose. I committed to the capsule collection movement this summer and have loved it! I enjoy having a uniform. I feel like I have such a better understanding of my style and how to compliment my body type than I did in my clotheshorse 20s. 

WORKING// I have been so fortunate to have been able to take some time off with my daughter. I took a year off when my son was born too, but that proved to be a difficult time financially and ultimately not as stress-free as I intended it to be. This time, we are a little older and more stable and have been able to live comfortably off og my husband's income, due to his hard work and keen budgeting. He has been immensely supportive of my staying at home with the kids, although sometimes, I wish we could trade places! I am definitely feeling ready to get back to work but am carefully considering what I want to do and how to balance it with motherhood. My background is in fine art, design, marketing and public relations, and I am always drawn to the creative. 

TRAVELING// My bottle-shunning 16-months old is nearly weaned, and I can't wait to go away for a few adult-only weekend trips! The Gulf Coast, Nashville, New York and Auburn are on the docket for this Fall.

DREAMING// Of a second honeymoon. My husband and I will celebrate our 10 year anniversary next year, and we are planning a romantic getaway. We're debating whether we want pampering or adventure. 

FEELING// Liberated! I have both kids in preschool a few days a week and finally feel like I'm not drowning in motherhood. I actually feel ike a kinder, more engaged mom because I've had some time to myself. 

PLAYING// Explorers with my kids. We live on a river with lots of incredible plants and wildlife exclusive to our area. We are always hiking, fishing, canoeing, skipping rocks and digging for fossils. It's so fun to watch them develop a love for science!

MAKING// Chai and matcha lattes with coconut milk, banana bread and pumpkin quinoa waffles with cashew butter, sliced apples or figs and local honey. Basically anything that tastes like Fall!

WANTING// Cooler temps and some kick-ass Fall boots. I'm drooling over Chloe's knee-high "Susanna" shit-kickers, because you can take the girl outta Nashville, but not the Nashville outta the girl.

Follow Tonia's adventures in life, art, fashion and family @toniatrotter

CommentsCategories ESSENTIALS Tags tonia trotter rugged and fancy fall essentials 2015 chloe susanna knee boots

Aug 27, 2015

Life Lately...

I believe a new chapter is starting in the life of Rugged and Fancy. I have personally been steadily improving my health over the last 18 months, and I finally have confidence in my health, my body, my wellbeing again. It has been a journey, for sure. Duquette and I have always been creative hustlers, and I say that in a way that means you just move your ass, you hit the proverbial pavement and you make things happen. We have done a lot of heart work the last few years, and I know in my heart that we are right where we are supposed to be today, triumphs, struggles and all. 

I watched the documentary Happy last night. And it made me really sit and think about what is it that I want in life? I want to provide well enough for my family through our creative gifts cover all our needs and some of our wants. I want it to be more than enough so that we can help others see their dreams come true, even if it's just getting out of a tight spot to move on. (We've been there. Everyone needs help sometimes.) I want adventure in our lives. That's one of my highest values in life. I want our family to see the world together. I want my son to see the broad world out there and how different and similar we all are within it. I want us to be happy. What does that mean? That there's peace and joy and minfulness. That we live in the moment, consciously and with great love and open hearts. 

Here is Duq, taking stolen moments to get in the studio and work on two new records. It can be a battle many days to find the time to do. I try to do what I can to give him that space and encouragement. 

Tennessee's first "guitar," a little ukelele that he strums and hums to and claps for himself. And his best friend, Tigre. 

The temperatures have been a perfect 70-something degrees the past few days, so we have been outdoors as much as possible. This is Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham. It is spectacularly beautiful. 

Railroad Park occasionally has a free yoga class. It's a beautiful time to experience all of nature, including the sounds of trains in proximity, thunderstorms over the mountain (hence the pavilion location) and just big open space. There were ducks walking beside our mats. Cute little ducks. 

Overnight there is ivy crawling up our bedroom window. I haven't pulled it off yet. I am so fascinated by the way that nature will overtake things if you allow it. To see the backside of the ivy and it's tiny white fibrous claws is pretty mind blowing.

Candlelight in the daytime and zinnia from my first garden from seeds. Every flower I clip and bring inside gives me a deep sense of accomplishment and joy.

My 31st birthday, catching rainbows and laughing with my boy. 

I marvel at how beautiful he is. Constantly. And I often think "I hope I am doing this right." I think we all hope for that. 

We have started taking morning walks together. We go to the neighborhood where I grew up and we just walk as long as we feel like it. We talk a lot. We stay quiet a lot. We smell flowers and say hello to the dogs that run past and just take it all in. It's my favorite thing we do these days. 

I have really been working on maintaining a home yoga practice, which is honestly tough for me. I love a class. I love someone leading me and the ability to surrender to a guide. It can be hard to guide myself. But I am overcoming that. I am doing it. This photo is HILARIOUS to me because I was taking a photo of this great modified down dog and I hear Duq screaming as Tennessee comes running around the corner laughing maniacally. Duq yelling "He's got poop on his hand!!!!" And it was perfectly captured. AWESOME. HAHAHAHAHAH.

The struggle is real: most of my day is spent trying to teach him NOT to climb on the table. Or catching him as he falls OFF the table. Geez. Can I just get rid of the chairs all together and just do a Moroccan table setting??

Duq is working on a new acoustic record using this beautiful D'Angelico guitar that they kindly sent down to him. It's so beautiful, the sound, the mother of pearl inlay details, the sunburst. It's magical. 

Relishing beautiful afternoon in the backyard. I scored these handblown glass cups at the thrift store for a quarter apiece. WHAT. Yes. 

Late summer/early fall blooms and Nikes all walking long!

I started coloring. It's a big thing, and yes, grownup coloring is a great form of meditation. It means you're NOT spending time on your phone. 

The magical forest backyard. 

I really want to know.... WHAT IS HAPPINESS TO YOU?? 

Love y'all and hope you have the happiest day.


Morgan, Duquette and Tennessee

CommentsTags family rugged and fancy railroad park yoga birmingham

Jan 29, 2015

Blue and Gold: from the photo files of Rugged and Fancy

I have really loved going through all of these photos and creating photo stories. Today is blue and gold. It's making me really excited for warmer months coming. 

A little town by a little river in the South of France.

Nice, France.

Our former office space.

Nice, France. 

Duquette at Camp Wandawega, Wisconsin.

A window in France.

Woodlawn High School cheerleaders. 

Sunset over St Paul de Vence, France.

CommentsTags blue and gold color story rugged and fancy st paul de vence nice france

Jan 28, 2015

Green as Grasse: from the photo files of Rugged and Fancy

Century plants in Le Bar Sur Loup, France.

The old infirmary, across from the old cemetary in Ashville, Alabama. 

Nice, France.

Nice, France. 

European electrical system. Antibes, France.

Chef Frank Stitt and Duquette Johnston at Chez Fon Fon.

The Var, France.

Alys Beach, Florida. 

CommentsTags south of france rugged and fancy photography the var antibes le bar sur loup

Jan 19, 2015

An Introduction to Essential Oils

If you know me, you know I am ALL ABOUT the essential oils. I was a very quick convert when I was nine months pregnant on bed rest for really scary blood pressure that just wouldn't come down. It was causing me such panic, making it so much worse. Doctors gave me sedatives and told me to go to my happy place and neither worked. A friend dropped off a little package for me and simply said, "Try it." It was tiny vials of Young Living "Valor" and "Peace and Calming." I happened to have a diffuser, put a couple drops in, a drop on the back of my neck and my blood pressure immediately returned to normal. I remember checking it with an electronic monitor three times in a row because I simply couldn't believe it. 

After coming home with our first baby and all the new things we were suddenly facing: sleepless nights, fussy baby, spit up/poop/pee everywhere messes and later my major illness. We ordered the big Premium Starter Kit, dove in and have never looked back.

I particularly love Young Living's dedication and stringent practices in ensuring that their essential oils are pure and authentic, safe for use on your body, in your home and (if indicated as a supplement) can be used internally. We had briefly been using the Aura Cacia brand from Whole Foods, but once looking a little closer at the says "fragrance" and "not for internal use." Read your labels closely. 

So as a starting place for getting into essential oils, I particularly love this Everyday Oils collection (which comes in the Premium Starter Kit). Thieves is the miracle disinfectant; it's antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal. Stress Away calms my nerves when I just feel frayed (and smells AMAZING). PanAway has soothed pulled muscles after maybe pushing my body too hard. Frankincense is the best oil ever-- it's a holy oil. It antitumoral, immunostimulating, antidepressrant, muscle relaxing, increases spiritual awareness, promotes meditation, improves attitude and uplifts the spirit. I used it topically to help break up some internal scar tissue that built up after my C-section and was causing me serious pain. Lemon has incredible detoxifying properties and can be drank in a glass of water or used in a homemade cleaning product. Peppermint and lavender are total panaceas, helping with digestion, allergies, body temp regulation, burns and so, so much more. Melaleuca is tea tree oil and amazing for skin conditions. Joy is a beautiful blend of several precious oils that smells amazing, uplifts the spirit and promotes a really positive outlook on life. Purification is a blend to ward off insects (summer is coming!), get rid of stinky smells (animals or shoe funkiness)... and I think that may be the briefest run down of the oils ever. Ha. 

Thieves is so cool. It was created from research absed on legends about a group of 15th century thieves who rubbed oils on themselves to avoid contracting the plague while they robbed the bodies of the dead and dying. When apprehended, the thieves were forced to tell what their secret was and disclosed the formula of herbs, spices and oils: clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus radiata and rosemary. It's highly antiviral, antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-infectious. We diffuse it. We clean every surface in our house with it. We even brush our teeth with it. And amazingly, if we have started to feel a little under the weather, we diffuse it and have simultaneously improved. Just saying.

So my good friend Jenn and I put together a little Introduction to Oils 101 class and hosted a few ladies last week to get together, have some hors d'oeuvres and chat about the oil basics. Jenn set up this super cute little Citrus Bar with chilled water and options of Citrus Fresh, Jade Lemon and Tangerine to add some great flavor. I kind of want to do this at all of my parties now. (Always drink out of glass containers and straws when adding oils to your water!)

It wouldn't be a party in the South without a little extra hospitality with these Lavender Detox Bath Soaks we gave to guests as we said goodnight. Jenn whipped these amazingly luxurious soaks up in no time and has kindly shared the recipe here:

Lavender Detox Bath Soak

Combine one part Epsom salts and one part baking soda with six drops of Lavender oil for every 1/2 cup of ingredients. Add lavender buds for looks (available at your local health food market). Simply mix the ingredients well and store in an air tight container! Add to a warm to hot bath, stir and soak to your heart's content!

Jenn and I will be hosting another Introduction to Essential Oils 101 class in Birmingham on Thursday, February 12th. If you haven't yet experienced the amazing properties of essential oils, send me an email at to get more details! If you're interested in getting any of the oils I've mentioned today, simply email me or go here and sign up as a member to get 24% off retail value using referral code 1720800!

CommentsCategories health and wellbeing Tags young living young living essential oils rugged and fancy healing powers of oils thieves cleaning with essential oils essential oils and babies

Nov 11, 2014

Garden & Gun Jubilee and Five Questions: chef ashley christensen

December is my favorite month. Streets and windows are aglow with bright and colored lights. People run around with a kind frenzy, rushing to get home to their families while still saying "happy holidays" and holding a door open for a passing stranger. Somehow everywhere you go you hear the faint jingle of bells, though this Alabama native has never seen a sleigh in her life. And now I have another reason to love December-- the Garden & Gun Jubilee weekend December 5-7 in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Garden & Gun Jubilee is the tastemaking publication's celebration of Southern culture and craftsmanship, featuring an incredible marketplace of the best makers in the South, book signings, more special food events than I can wrap my head around (hello, Southern food truck rally, oyster roast and Jubilee feast!), great sporting events including a special quail hunt and an opportunity to have some quality hang time with artists, chefs, designers, writers and friends

You should totally get your tickets now for December 5-7 in historic Charles Towne Landing in Charleston, SC. And we are excited to tell you that when you use the code SUBSCRIPTION when buying your ticket, you get a free one year subscription to Garden & Gun (while supplies last). 

So today we are talking to James Beard award winning Chef Ashley Christensen who will play a big culinary role at the Garden & Gun Jubilee. Native of Raleigh, NC and owner and executive chef to eight amazing concepts, including Poole's Diner with its famous comfort food classics, local sourcing and a little French technical flair, we have had the pleasure of seeing Chef Christensen in action with the Fatback Collective at several fundraisers, and we are super excited to see what she dreams up (and cooks up) with Chefs Mike Lata and John Fleer for the Jubilee Field Feast. 

Here are five questions with Chef Ashley Christensen...

1/ You're stranded on a desert island with unlimited supplies of five ingredients. What are they?

Lemons (zest and all)


White Acre field peas

Chicken thighs, heavy on the skins


2/ Dinner with a dead chef, who is your guest? My mother's grandmother...she wasn't a professional chef, but she was the "Original Gangster" professional chef in our family. I'm fairly certain that the cooking that she passed on to mother is one of the reasons that my father married my mother, and I'm ABSOLUTELY certain it's the reason I'm a chef. 

3/ If your culinary style was a movement of art which would it be? Is there a particular artist from this movement you feel particularly akin to? It would be which ever movement was catalyzed by an artist who was not formally educated, cared not for fancy frames and simply wanted to make the folks standing in front of the art feel considered and part of the work itself. And, you know, to make delicious "work."

4/ When you prepare the Garden & Gun Jubilee feast with Chefs Mike Lata and John Fleer, what will be your soundtrack?

RL Burnside

Drive By Truckers

War on Drugs

Built to Spill

Talking Heads

5/ You're a superhero-- what's your name and what is your special power? Greyhound Girl (fueled by Tito's vodka and scurvy-fighting fresh grapefruit). I am bulletproof and omniscient. (I happen to be sitting across from Wright Thompson, who consulted on my superhero name and power, and I insist that you include this in the interview.)

CommentsCategories five questions food travel Tags chef ashley christensen garden & gun garden & gun jubilee charleston south carolina poole's diner rugged and fancy rugged & fancy

Jun 25, 2014

BAG DUMP: andrea behrends, one of my fave photographers in the world

So today's bag dump is special edition! One lady, two bags. Andrea Behrends and I met the first time at 3am at The Basement in Nashville after one of my husband's shows when I was nine months pregnant. She looked like a beautiful, badass lioness with a mane of thick golden hair, sultry eyes and a leather jacket I envied. In my memory, she had a film camera on her person in a casual, it's-just-an-accessory kind of way. The second time we met made us lifelong friends and sisters, over a five hour dinner with friends awaiting the arrival of their first child, talking about crazy love stories and alternative medicines and oils and ashrams, et cetera. I love this girl. And, by the way, she's one of my favorite photographers ever. Her portraits are particularly among my favorites. I'm convinced her really strong and focused and peaceful spirit brings out the REAL in a person. 


DAY BAG= All the stuff.

1. THE BAG. Vintage Coach Crossbody Saddle Bag. Given to me by my mom. I cherish the bag. (similar to here)

2. ESSENTIAL OILS KIT (Morgan's fault pretty much).

Lavender, Lemon, Valor, Peppermint, Stress Away from Young Living

Open Mind by Golden, my new fave local Nashville product, headaches leave within ten minutes of application.

3. PERFUME ROLL-ON. OLO "Palo Santo," I'm literally obsessed. 



6. SMITH'S MINTED ROSE LIP BALM. (available here)

7. iPHONE W/LUNATIK CASE. Best case ever, has a soft inner layer with a hard slipcase, super protective and all the cords you want to fit/do without case removal.

8. CHEAP SUNGLASSES. These aviators are from Urban Outfitters. I'm not allowed to buy any over $20 because I lose/scratch/destroy all sunglasses.

9. SNAKESKIN WALLET. Gift from my man, vintage.

10. KEYS

11. NOTEBOOK. Duh.

12. PENS. Always a Pilot Precise, always a Paper Mate in a fun color.

13. MAKEUP KIT/"OH MY GOSH I FEEL UGLY FIX IT" KIT. Morrocan Oil for hair// Mineral Fusion concealer// Benefit Watt's Up// Stila liquid eyeliner. I should note that Urban Decay's original primer+ Stila liquid liner= the MOST unstoppable combo. Like, wake up the next day and go to brunch with the same eyes good.)

NIGHT BAG= just the essentials. 

1. THE BAG. SE Sherrick Foldover Clutch (large) in Pebbled Black. Susan is a good friend and a lovely person. This clutch is soft and fits under the arm perfectly no matter how full. Perfect for a night out and lays flat so it foes with me no matter what. 

2. OTHER ITEMS. Snakeskin wallet/ Open Mind by Golden (see above)/ Perfume Roll-On (see above)/ Notebook and Pens (see above)/ Toothpicks/ Disposible Camera/ Lip Balm (see above)/ iPhone/ Cheap Sunglasses/Keys

CommentsCategories bag dump Tags andrea behrends nashville photographer nashville style bag dump rugged and fancy

Jan 8, 2014

News That Matters… Goodbye Incandescent Bulbs

I love incandescent light bulbs, better known as "plain old light bulbs." You know that beautiful soft, slightly warm glow of a 40 or 60-watt by which you curl up on a couch, read a great book, smooch on your sweetie... 

January 1st marked the end of the light bulb as we know it. You may not have noticed the slow phase out of 75-watt and 100-watt bulbs over the past couple years, and you still may not have heard about the banning of our beloved 40 and 60-watt bulbs. Well, it's happened. As of the beginning of 2014, incandescent bulbs are no longer in production in the US as part of George W. Bush's energy efficiency standards of 2007. Hey, I was around in 2007 and don't remember hearing anything about this. And I honestly didin't hear anything about the most recent quick phase out either. Y'all, I am bummed. 

Go stock up on your light bulbs now, because once they're gone...well, that's it. It's a sad day for everyone who bought those beautiful and expensive fixtures that focus on Edison-style light bulbs. I will be stocking up on my 40s and 60s to save for when our soon to be born son is old enough. I imagine I will screw in one of the original bulbs and say, "Son, this is what light used to be." And he will be amazed and perplexed. 

If it's just too much for you to bear, the oldest existing incandescent bulb is still going strong in Livermore, California's fire house. It's almost 113 years old, has its own "keeper," and a live web cam so you will always be able to look at your computer screen and see what a light bulb is. 

Rest in peace you beautiful bulbs...

"News That Matters" is a recent addition to Rugged and Fancy, providing you with, well, the important stories you may have missed out on. They are completely based in fact (with resources) and written by the sometimes witty Morgan Johnston and illustrated by designer extraordinaire Shannon Broom Harris. A semi-regular topic on the blog, we hope you laugh or smile or maybe learn something that matters!

CommentsCategories News That Matters Tags light bulb ban incandescent light bulbs rugged and fancy shannon broom harris livermore fire department

Nov 21, 2013

Friday Roundup: The Best of the Web This Week

Happy almost weekend! And going into Thanksgiving week, this is just getting to be my favorite time of year! We are heading up to Nashville late this weekend and to hang around Monday and Tuesday before heading home for Thanksgiving and Duquette's birthday next Friday! Duquette and his full band with string section are playing a totally FREE show at The Basement on Monday night at 7PM. Y'all come out and say hey. And I am super excited because this may be the last trip I get to take before becoming a mama. Holy crap. In the best way possible. 

So here's what I have been digging on the web this week! Did I miss something awesome? Let us know over on our Facebook page.

I am totally buying this book for all my girlfriends this Christmas!

Camp Wandawega, a bunch of the coolest men you will ever encounter, beer, food, GOODBEERBUCKSHOT #2.

Duquette's new video for "Dancing Song" premiered this week and it features wild man artist Scotty Lee, Duq as a barber, me very pregnant and a stowaway rabbit.

The FACE-O-MAT is an analog photo booth and it traveled around the world making the best portraits ever

Weld wrote an article about us.

And today is the 50th Anniversary of JFK's assassination.

Y'all have the best weekend ever. We love you. Spend time with the people you love and be thankful. We are so blessed. 


Morgan, Duq and Tennessee

CommentsCategories friday roundup Tags duquette johnston best of the internet what's going on this week birmingham al nashville tn rugged and fancy

Nov 7, 2013

The Secret Sisters Tonight at Sound and Page!

Morning y'all! 


We have had so many amazing things going on this month so close to our home here in Birmingham. And tonight is one worth making a trip out. The Secret Sisters are playing a very intimate show at Sound and Page, a dreamy new space that is set up to be a listening room. I can only imagine those hauntingly beautiful voices floating across a book-lined room filled with antique rugs and candles. (That is not meant to sound like a fire hazard.)

For exact information and tickets, click HERE.

And can I just tell you how much we love this video? Check out the guys who made it, 1504 Pictures

Have a great one.

Morgan, Duq and Tennessee 

CommentsCategories music Tags the secret sisters sound and page 1504 pictures rugged and fancy birmingham events calendar

Oct 15, 2013

Mother Monday on a Tuesday... thoughts on Nesting

I am 22 weeks and I am starting to wonder when this nesting phenomenon kicks in. Lord, please let it be soon because there is SO much I want and need to get done before this baby gets here! I hear that I am going to get crazy bouts of energy and basically detroy and rebuild my home for about 20 hours a day. I've got the destroying everything down, it's the putting it back together that I have gotten stuck on. 

I have this vision of a white, minimal home with only a select number of beautiful and functional objects sitting around. It's good for me and Duquette and our head space and creativity, but I think it will also be good for our son. For him to grow up day to day seeing beauty and function, connecting with a few select things instead of the chaos of rooms overfilled with just stuff, and surely this will contribute to the development of his own creativity and taste and... I can't believe I am even attempting to write about some sort of "parenting philosophy!"

Honestly, having less stuff will aid in keeping less of a mess. And I need that: LESS MESS. So here are some images that are really inspiring me for our home. And maybe one day soon I will wake up and remodel/redecorate/clean like a madwoman. Hallelujah.

Y'all have a beautiful day. We went to the doc yesterday for the full anatomy scan and our little boy looks to be perfectly healthy and we are so grateful and excited. I think getting to watch him wiggle around and kick me as I felt him was so surreal and cool. I am beginning to really fall in love with him. And we also have shared our baby's name... Tennessee. It's the river that sings. Be thankful for something today. And smile more. 


Morgan and Tennessee (and Duquette, too)

CommentsCategories mother monday Tags white home decor minimal home design motherhood nesting rugged and fancy

Oct 4, 2013

Friday Roundup: Some great looking stuff

On Fridays I usually like to share my favorite blog posts/articles/videos from the week, but I haven't had a chance to read up on my regulars this week since we've been running the shop (today is the last day!). So today, I want to share some images from this awesome site I came across, Good and Sturdy

Y'all have a great weekend and do something you love.

Morgan and Duq and Nugget

CommentsCategories friday roundup Tags vintage clothing levi's red wings old tshirts rugged and fancy good and sturdy

Oct 3, 2013

What is a Pop Up? A Brief History of the Pop Up

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...

The before.

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

CommentsCategories community style Tags pop up revive birmingham rugged and fancy big communications yellowhammer creative made in the magic city

Oct 1, 2013

The Shop: Rugged and Fancy's Temporary Shop rugged and fancy store

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.

CommentsCategories community style Tags rugged and fancy store revive birmingham rugged and fancy wood studio pop up shop

Sep 27, 2013

A Rugged and Fancy Store

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! 

There's going to be a HUGE launch party Monday at 5:30-- with food from Jim N Nicks, Dixie Fish and Todd English Pub, beer from Trimtab and a special set from Duquette Johnston

We are sharing the space with Yellowhammer Creative and Made in the Magic City and will be there every day 11am-8pm.  Come down and see us. 

CommentsCategories community Tags pop up shop rugged and fancy revive birmingham big communications

Sep 13, 2013

Friday Roundup and an Anniversary!

Happy Fifth Anniversary to my soul mate, my best friend, my partner, my Baby Daddy-- I have loved that man since I was a teenager and he was this crazy musician I kept running into. We have been through so much together and it just keeps getting better. Five years ago today, we drove into Birmingham from having played a music festival in Nashville, went to our friends' house and walked out and got married in front of about 30 people. It was magical and the best decision I ever made.

+My greatest discovery this week is Isabella Rose Taylor, a 12 year old from Austin who has designed a clothing collection that I COVET. Seriously. Know her.

+You know those sexy, sexy perfume bottles that you covet without ever having smelled them? Check out Byredo's newest, rarest addition at Into the Gloss.

+Our friends at Imogene+Willie talk about how friendships are born on the leather couch and introduce Wilkins, the man and the denim jacket. 

+I have spent years trying to perfect the carryon bag. A Pair & A Spare has the best carryon packing list I have ever seen.

+Our buddies at Bearings Guide illustrate the basics of dove shooting and also how to shine your shoes.

+"Show Me Your Stack," the best web site category ever. 

+"Night Animals," a photographic series of animals in streets at night that has that creepy vibe and Postscript's explanation of J.K. Rowling's new project, a film about the guy that wrote a Hogwart's textbook. 

CommentsCategories friday roundup Tags friday roundup anniversary true love love duquette johnston rugged and fancy five year anniversary isabella rose taylor into the gloss byredo imogene + willie imogene and willie wilkins a pair & a spare carryon packing list bearings guide postscript blog

Mar 8, 2013

Water Liars


Good morning everyone. I've been absent fromt the our site for a few months while focusing on mulitple new music releases and planning shows. A few of those shows will be this April with my friends Water Liars. We have mentioned before how improtant music is in our lives and the influence it has on us. My mood can be shifted in a spit second by the right song from bad to good and from happy to sad and on and on.

We recently made a video for my song Silver and Gold using some old footage from a 1941 Superman cartoon. Once I heard the new Water Liars single Linens I started searching for some cool footage with Morgan so we could put together a fan video for the track. 

Be on the lookout for more videos soon, both archival footage and new, and please go support musicans and buy their albums, merchandise, and maybe even throw them a tip. For yourself this weekend I suggest you pick up the Water Liars new album Wyoming. Listen to it driving in the sun with the windows down, or if you are caught in the last blast of winter rock it playing in the snow, or sitting by the fire. Until then stream it below and let us know how you like the video.




CommentsTags water liars music video big legal mess fat possum rugged and fancy wyoming archival footage

Jan 30, 2013

Musings on Tornadoes

Good morning little sunshines! It is just before 6am, and Duquette and I are wide awake, hard at work, and tuned in to the incomparable James Spann (the weatherman), as we have some serious storms heading this way. I love, LOVE a good weather event! I can sit and watch the weather man in front of those colorful graphics and listen to countdowns to warning expirations FOR HOURS.

I think it touches on a childhood spent in the country and vivid memories of tornadoes and taking shelter. On our horse farm, there was actually an underground bunker/shelter that I remember running inside with moments to spare. Or the Victorian house I grew up in, I recall the smell and feel of its dirt basement, damp and earthy, a little mildewy.

When I was in elementary school, you still went to school in a "significant weather event." I LOVED when the sirens went off and we all had to sit in the hall together. Often, we younger kids were directly facing the older kids, which I loved. I got to look at the older boys. ;) When I was in fifth grade, I attended a writers' conference at the Civic Center. I didn't get my award that day because we all ended up in the basement tunnel system as a serious tornado passed over head, lifting and crushing a good part of the building above me. That one wasn't fun. A ten year old's brush with mortality and the brutality of nature-- you should've seen how my creative writing changed then!

Through my teen years and early twenties, I had nightmares about tornadoes all around me, the big dark cartoonish funnels that dance and laugh at you. In these dreams, I HAD to get to this parking deck for shelter and anything and everything was an obstacle to get legs were jelly, my parking pass expired and they wouldn't let me in, I forgot my lipstick. Yeah, I know. These dreams made me sick, feeling that panic and fear. And interesting little trivia bit here: that parking deck in EVERY SINGLE nightmare, was the parking deck across the street from my performing/arts high school where I got busted smoking cigarettes A LOT.

As an adult, I don't have the flippant attitude of my childhood years, nor the terror of teenage years. I respect a thing that is so, so , so much bigger and more powerful than me. Yes, I pray for my husband's safety, my family, my dogs, and my home. When there's a warning we run to our basement: me, him, three dogs, a radio, a lantern, and without fail, a giant bag of random stuff I grab...just in case. In the devastating storm of April 2011, I wore a band leader's helmet and clutched a bag with my laptop, external hard drive, camera, diamonds, a random random assortment of medications, and a 3/4 empty bottle of water. And the stack of hundreds of letters my husband and I wrote to each other in the beginning of our relationship. That item is very important to me.

I keep saying I'm going to deck out that little cinderblock room in the back of the basement, for events just like this. Haven't done it. And regret it every time we get stuck down there for hours at a time. But, man, I am thankful for that little safe spot. Y'all stay safe today.

And what would be in your bag?



CommentsTags tornadoes tornado mother nature nature natural disaster alwx james spann abc 33/40 memories rugged and fancy writing

Jan 3, 2013

First playlist of the year!!!!

I can't believe it's time to post the first playlist of the new year!! I am so excited about it that I am posting it about twelve hours early. I mean, come on! Our schedules are kind of jacked from all this holiday time, so why not kick in some jams to get the weekend going. On a Thursday night. ;)

I would love to start hearing from you guys, about what you're listening to, questions you've got, cool things going on. Connect with us here in comments, via email, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter by clicking on the pretty buttons on the right side of your screen.

Okay, let's get dancing.

CommentsTags playlist weekly playlist funk soul hip hop rugged and fancy

Oct 22, 2012


Hey Y'all. Sometimes life gets ya. And you may lose touch with the things you love and do. And it's okay, just get back up, brush yourself off, and do stuff. With that said, here is the greatest video ever made. Ever. Literally. It's the sound of the easy roll, the getting back up, the stumbling but not falling for good, the weekends that last four days (and maybe five); it's friends. It's family.

Like I said, we are back. Love y'all. Morgan and Duq

CommentsTags ramsay midwood maybelline grease duquette johnston morgan jones johnston rugged and fancy

Aug 24, 2012


Rugged and Fancy is heading to Muscle Shoals for Billy Reid's fourth annual SHINDIG!! One of the best parties of the year, y'all. We are curating a playlist for one of the parties this weekend, and we've made a special edition playlist with selections from the party playlist for your weekend listening pleasure!

Get down and get dirty, y'all!


Morgan and Duquette

CommentsTags shindig billy reid rugged and fancy weekly playlist muscle shoals fashion music fashion and music parties party boogie get down fourth annual shindig billy reid shindig

Aug 23, 2012

Our First Letterpress

The game changes when you get your first letterpress business cards. You feel, honestly, like what you are doing and who you are, who and what your brand is, is suddenly real. Lasting. It's that extra gesture, a fine detail that says, "I value the details. I value craftsmanship. I value tradition. And I believe in my brand."

So I am very, very excited to present Rugged and Fancy's first run of letterpress cards, crafted by Cory Bordonaro of Four Hats Press, based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Aren't they beautiful? The paper is Savoy, a heavy, creamy white that allows for printing on both sides with no problem whatsoever and it holds the ink beautifully. I honestly don't know anything about letterpress, but I know a good/great/amazing product when I see it. 

Cory's press is fully manual and nearing its 100th birthday, for which she is planning a huge birthday bash in 2014. I must admit that upon hearing this magical confession, I kind of fell in love with her.

Here is Cory in the Four Hats Press studio, with her beautiful beast of a press. It took a lot of prayer, many friends and an industrial lift to get this baby in the basement space from which she currently operates.

There's so much more to Cory and Four Hats--and when I get back from Europe we are going to do a proper studio visit with her. I really must know the process now that I know the amazing product.

Until then, here is a behind the scenes video on Cory, made by our friend Paul Bryant of Kinora Films.

Four Hats Press :: Behind the Scenes from Kinora Films on Vimeo.



CommentsTags cory bordonaro four hats press letterpress rugged and fancy business cards manual press corybo birmingham alabama kinora films process

Aug 3, 2012

Country of Madness

via Pinterest.

Heading into the weekend, it's all about the things that get you inspired and, ultimately, what you then go out and do. But the inspiration- those sights and sounds and tastes and smells are the things that get us all going, get that blood thick and get us ready for the sweat and tears and laughter and joy of the hard work part.

Grab inspiration from every place you can find it and take it, take it, take it. Hell, it's a very valuable thing that's just out there for the picking.

For example, this week's playlist. Duquette and I look forward to creating the playlist every Thursday night. We lay in bed and bounce songs off of each other and these beautiful moods kind of surface, depending on the weather or our week or whatever strikes our fancy. We laugh and dance together in the process, reliving moments in our lives, moments in great movies or history or creating new moments as we discover new songs.

We hope y'all enjoy this week's playlist and have a really inspired/inspiring weekend. Just kind of open your eyes and look around. Pretty great stuff.

CommentsTags inspiration spotify playlist go outside rugged and fancy weekend desert madness the oh sees cults shovels and rope rolling stones bob marley best coast francoise hardy t. rex bob dylan mott the hoople

Aug 1, 2012

5 Things

I am in the middle of a photo shoot that has me sweating out in a concrete jungle, but the heat has kind of got me thinking about some really great things:


For me, it's all about the Ivory Coast, old Mexico, Rajasthan, New Guinea, Turkey, even Japan with all the amazing indigo... Hot for Fall, yes. Not for everyone, no. For me, it's the incredible colors, textures, techniques, the history in the pieces and the cultures revealed therein. 

Moroccan Fibulae via Old Beads.

The colors and pattern. Her skin tone against that bright pink and red and yellow. And the location. And the caftan. Via Pinterest.

She is so dark and powerful. Look at those small tattoos on her arm. And notice that slightest bit of hot pink at her clavicle. This is amazing. Photo by Mitchell Kanashkevich.

Dinka Scarification. Via Ali Eminov.

This image, "Ready for Marriage," by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher has been hugely inspirational to me in the making of my first collection. It doesn't have anything to do with the style of jewelry or the colors, but the impact it had on me as an image when I first saw it. Their gaze is so strong and so distant. 


Using gemstones, rocks, minerals in my jewelry collection has really blown my mind as to where these beautiful little things come from and how they are created. There's something really special about knowing where your goods, your staples, your treaures come from. We should try to connect with as much as we can in our lives, and if I can literally go out hunting for these gems with my hands and a hammer, that seems amazing to me! Do any of you have any info on hunting for geodes and minerals? Email me!

How amazing is this?? "Lace Agate 2" Photo via Captain Tenneal.

Natural pools in Turkey. Via Exodus Travels.

Pyroclusite via Pinterest.

Danxia Landform in Zhangye, Province of Gansu located in China. The Danxia landform is a unique geological phenomenon. The color is the result of an accumulation for millions of years of red sandstone and other rocks. Via Pinterest.

Fingal's Cave, Staffa, Scotland. Via Wild Vanilla.


I like bones, particularly skulls and teeth, a lot. Animal, human, they're wonderfully sculptural and symbolic and have a great color and so many uses. I have all my dogs' puppy teeth in a little jewelry box to make into jewelry one day. I also have a lucky tooth from 1963. I don't know who it belonged to; I found it in an enveloped marked "luckiest tooth 1963" in a secret compartment in a jewelry box that I got an estate sale. It was a really giant tooth. 

Via Navajobodies.

"Hunting Trophies" British albumen silver print by unknown artist, c. 1870, via Morbid Anatomy.

A Geode skull, so beautiful! Via Pinterest.

Elevating it to fine art. So beautifully displayed. Via Pale.

TEETH! I love this!!! Via Retronaut.


As much as I am having a bright color moment (so rare for me; it must be heat exhaustion), I am really all over some indigo. And indigo is all over me. Or will be, when I try this indigo process:

Get the recipe here at Growing Indigo.

This Boro would be an amazing robe, dress, overcoat, jacket, whatever you want it to be- because it is awesome. You could just hang it on a wall and that would be awesome. Via FuruglStar.

Japanese Textile Book, via Miette.

This is a cyanometer; it measures the blue in the sky.Via Lost.

A denim ledger. I think this is just brilliant. Via Pinterest.


Just a few more images that just work.

The youths. Via Paracosmic.

The tools. Via Pinterest.

The style. Via Weird Friends.

The chief. Via Lostateminor.

The critters. Via The Acid Sweat Lodge.

All right. Y'all go do great stuff and have a blessed day.

xo Morgan

CommentsTags 5 things top five five things tribal ethnic ivory coast mexico rajasthan new guinea turkey japan indigo colors textures techniques morocco fibulae caftan mitchell kanashkevich dinka tribe scarification carol beckwith angela fisher gemstones rocks minerals rugged and fancy agate lace agate captain tenneal exodus travels pyroclusite danxia landform zhangye gansu china sandstone fingal's cave staffa scotland bones skulls teeth taxidermy crystal skull retronaut indigo process furuglstar textile cyanometer denim acrobats tools africa indian chief bear chair greaers motorcycles

Jul 31, 2012

Behind the Scenes: Rugged and Fancy's First Intern

[Today's blog is our first guest post, featuring someone very near and dear to me, Lindsay K. Lord, Rugged and Fancy's first intern, who will be returning to Bloomington, Indiana for her senior year at Indiana University. Wildly talented, organized and motivated, this young woman is bound to do great things in life, and we have been so thankful to have her as part of the team. She has been absolutely invaluable and we wanted to let her share a little bit of herself, her taste and her vision. The studio and the shoots just aren't going to be the same without you, LL! We love you! Now read on, and look forward to future posts from special guests in the future. -MJJ and Duke]

My summer began with nothing more than the notion of driving myself eight hours from my home in Indiana and living with my aunt and uncle in Birmingham, Alabama, to find a job and stay there for the whole summer. That's all I knew. I wanted this summer to be something different from the rest. I wanted something more than what I know and what I am used to. That goal has sure been attained.

I got to Birmingham in early May. The job interview that I had set up before I left home did not go as planned; I was too young to qualify for the position. This left me in a panic, realizing I was in a foreign place without any plans or ideas for an alternative job. At this point I was very anxious, but the last thing I was going to do was repack and go back home.

About a week later, I got an email from Morgan. She had been contacted from the company I originally interviewed with, saying that I may be a good fit for her if she needed an assistant. I was ecstatic. The next thing I know, I meet Morgan for coffee to discuss whether or not I would be useful for her.

When I walked in this coffee shop, I had a good feeling about this opportunity because the atmosphere was warm and indulging, and I immediately felt calm, enthused and excited all at the same time. Then Morgan walked in and was very warm and welcoming, leaving me enticed from the get-go. Not to mention, I loved the way she dressed as well as her overall style and persona, and I thought that she was incredibly relatable to myself.

The way a person dresses as well as their style is so important to me because it's not just an interest of mine, it's my future. I am studying apparel and fashion merchandising in school at Indiana University as well as a minor in business. Being able to work with Morgan this summer has taught me much more than I thought was possible in the area of my studies. 

I am incredibly drawn to color, pattern and texture. Specifically, I have always been interested in textiles, which I have been exposed to this summer, with the help of Morgan. I feel as if this shared appreciation has been able to form a bond between us, as well as a permanent friendship. When we were able to go to Nashville, we went to some of the greatest stores I have ever been to, in addition to the Belk fashion preview, both of which have been covered here on Rugged and Fancy. It was such an honor for me to be able to attend these events, because it is such a huge passion of mine, and all of the people we met while being there were so knowledgable and helpful. 

Pictured below are some of the experiences I have shared with Morgan, as well as pattern inspirations and artwork of my own.

Pattern Inspiration:

Collage of flowers.

Love this pattern. 

The waterdrops on the rose makes this image appealing with the contrast of texture.

The trending ombre effect.

Love these poppies.

Alabama flowers.

A closeup of a lily. Clearly I can't get enough of flowers.

This is a Moroccan rug..I love the colors and shapes.

Very French-looking, the shoes match the pants perfectly.

Favorite Patterns:

Times with Morgan:

These were found while Morgan and I were sourcing for a photoshoot.

Precious Johnston dogs.

Here is a ring of mine..I feel like it would go well with a piece of the Rugged and Fancy jewelry collection, like the Roni necklace pictured below.

Pattern I stumbled upon while sourcing with Morgan.

Sneak peak of the studio.

My Creations:

Peacock drawing with black and white charcoal pencils.

Textile digital print, used photoshop.

Both are pen and flower drawings.

Handmade bracelet with beading.

Drawing with sharpie.

As I said before, my goal of having an above an beyond summer has already been achieved. It is now July 30th, and I will be heading back to Indiana in 2 days. Along with me and my belongings, I will be taking back home with me more confidence, inspirations and relationships with all of the people that I have been fortunate enough to meet. My horizons have been broadened, and I encourage everyone to remember that traveling to a new place is one of the best ways to grow and learn as a human, and if you do it for the right reasons, it will always be beneficial. 

I am sad to leave a place that has given me so much motivation for my own future, but I know that I will have this experience with me forever. And that I will be seeing Morgan again someday. It is a blessing to be involved with the development of Rugged and Fancy. I truly believe it is something that has the potential to be something incredible. It is unique and something I know that is more than worth taking the time to look into, and I hope you all will learn to appreciate it as much as I do. This company's creators are two of the neatest people I have been so fortunate to get to know; they live their lives to the fullest. They live their lives in pure form.


Lindsay Lord

CommentsTags guest blog lindsay lord lindsay k. lord indiana university fashion merchandising textiles patterns colors internship assistant rugged and fancy summer internship bloomington indiana art illustration fabric design photoshop photo shoots

Jul 30, 2012

Masters in the Art of Living

The masters in the art of living make little distinction between their work and their play, their labor and their leisure, their minds and their bodies, their information, their recreation, their love and their religion. They hardly know which is which; they simply pursue their vision of excellence at whatever they do, leaving others to decide whether they are working or playing.

-James A. Michener

(Happy Monday from Rugged and Fancy. xo Morgan and Duquette)

CommentsTags inspiration creativity quotes james michener james a. michener the art of living masters in the art of living work and play rugged and fancy philosophy

Jul 23, 2012

Road Trip Roundup

Duquette and I have been longing for a road trip together, so when we got the invitation to my cousin Eric's wedding in Paducah, Kentucky, we said HECK YES. Second to the really high priority we put on family and the awesome celebration of love, we LOVE a road trip. It's part of our story, having trekked across the country together several times, seeing many a mountain range, many a wide open plain, many a great city, many a less than great city, and found some truly hidden gems.

Paducah, Kentucky is just one of those hidden gems. There's not much out there on the Internet about Paducah, other than it's the Quilting Capitol of the World (yes, that's right) and home to the National Quilt Museum, the largest fiber art museum in the world. Yep, you got it. There's also a rich Civil War history right in the downtown area that you can learn about in the Market House Museum.

But see, there's so much more! There is a momentous artists' relocation program, fully supported and encouraged by the city and federal government, aptly called the Artist Relocation Program. It's become a national model for using the arts for economic development, creating the Lower Town Arts District. Artists from all over the country have relocated to Paducah, where they can get a space (a historic building or Victorian home) for literally next to nothing. At one time the city was selling the properties for $1. The artist was required to restore the building up to historic code and live and work there. That's it. Phenomenal.

Historic downtown Paducah is a hotbed for antiquers, with streets lined with curiosity shops, antique malls, small boutiques, and old timey general stores. One of our favorites was Jeremiah's

The industrial part of town was also a favorite for us as we drove around taking photos of the incredible old signage, vintage cars, and more.

But I must say, our favorite part of the trip was our afternoon spent with leather artisan Philip Phillips of Dixie Leather Works! A real character himself and the greatest craftsman I have met to date, we are reserving a whole post for him that will go up tomorrow, so be sure to come back and check it out. Not to be missed. I assure you that. 

To tide you over and to give you a better picture of Paducah, we are giving you pictures! If you have any questions about what anything is, or if you're interested in any Paducah info, comment below!

Somewhere along the Tennessee/Kentucky border. There's something really special about speeding down Southern Interstates, windows down, music up, hair whipping, sweat rolling. You look out your windows and you see this everwhere, unadulterated. Amen.

The sweating and the hair whipping in my father's 1970s Ray Ban CATS. They weigh nothing and everything looks great through the amber lenses.

It's easy to keep driving when the sky is this big. You just want to chase the rays.

A lone wolf with some serious triceps. Digging the walking stick.

Duke outside the empty Happy's Chili Parlor on the outskirts of Paducah. We saw this old mural and HAD to stop for photos. A good portion of our weekend was guerilla style jumping in and out of the truck, snapping shots and hauling off. 

Future Home of Paducah School for the Arts, an amazing industrial building the size of a city block. This town's goodwill towards artists had us considering ways to up and move all weekend. Paducanites (not Paducians, much to my dismay) are just good hearted, eclectic people. It reminds me a lot of Dahlonega, Georgia, a small community (40,000 people, I believe), a couple industries, and a genuine effort in revival of the area and preservation of the arts.

Kentucky is a tobacco farming state and there were several great tobacco-related signs around town.

This old school has been converted into residential apartments. 

A barber's sanitation set we saw at Jeremiah's antiques. Didn't buy it, but liked the look of it. Duke is obsessed with barber history and tools.

Here's some more barber paraphenalia from a shop we went in, also located downtown. Good looking, huh?

Cousin Eric and his bride Chloe's wedding was at her grandmother Momo's garden. They're both artists and it absolutely captured their bohemian spirit. Mirrors hung around the fence line, antique furniture among the late blooming hydrangeas, flowers filling the pool, fireworks ringing through the air. It was a magical space, unlike anything I've ever seen. 

Duke in the sunset.

Eric and Chloe dance in the garden.

We guerilla stopped at the town's gorgeous old cemetary to take some photos of the mausoleums before heading back to Bama on Sunday.

On the outskirts of town, we came across this WILD used car lot that had this earthship teepee and a hell of a lot of 60s model cars that were just amazing. A little rusty, but dang! 

And here is our favorite baby on that lot. Those lines! Whoowee!

In true Rugged and Fancy style, we got off the Interstate and took a few less travelled routes. Okay, it was out of necessity as there were major bridge closings in both Nashville AND Huntsville. But it meant we got to travel backroads through Athens, Alabama and across the Tennessee River. And we got to see this. 

MJJ and Duke

CommentsTags roadtrip kentucky alabama tennessee photo diary paducah national quilt museum jeremiah's antiques pickin picking artist relocation artist incentives hidden gems lower town arts arts district rugged and fancy duquette johnston morgan jones johnston chloe york eric quick road trip

Jul 18, 2012

Nashville: New Fashion Capital, USA

If you have access to the Internet, television, or a pulse, you've caught on by this point that Nashville is quickly becoming a major force in fashion. There are so many incredible companies based here, specialty boutiques, a phenomenally fast growing Fashion Week, and people with really noteworthy style, whether they are celebrities or not. Yeah, some people wear their granddaddy's cowboy boots (if that's their thing), but it's not the stereotype of the Wrangler-wearing, 10 gallon Stetson-topped country star. Walk around the 12th South area or East Nashville and you'll see a variety of styles, often denim and boot driven, and lately, very much dictated by the temperatures. 

But let's talk boots and denim. I had the distinct privelege of touring Peter Nappi yesterday. Located inside a  former meatpacking factory near the railroad tracks, admittedly (and awesomely) off the beaten path, Peter Nappi is owned and operated by Phillip Nappi and his wife Dana, grandson of Peter Nappi, an Italian immigrant and shoemaker.  Taking up the family tradition of shoemaking, and adding handcrafted bags, incredible ephemera sourced from around the world, and antique furniture that both decorates this incredible space and is for sale at any given moment, the Nappi's have become family with the Italian artisans who so precisely craft their gorgeous boots (for men and women) out of the finest leathers. And you can sense this genuine quality about the people at Peter Nappi in the way you are welcomed and cared for. The amazingly gracious Erin took me on a tour of the store and storage, telling me about Phillip's sourcing trips to Europe, offering me ice water as we were all just drenched in sweat (it's 100+ degrees and so humid). Having grown up myself in a sewing factory, I felt super at home in the industrial location, but then I wondered if I really just felt AT HOME. Turkish rugs, lush leather couches, taxidermy, Japanese indigo throws, a baby grande piano and guitars, the smell of leather. 

Now, Nashville denim. Two names, one little gas station: Imogene+Willie. Duquette and I have been friends with I+W for about three years now, and I just can't tell you how much I love this store, the people, the clothes, their web site and the content they generate. They just have it all RIGHT. The I+W story is another story of grandparental influence and craftsmanship and hard work. The story is really beautiful and powerful and they tell it like they will probably tell their children and grandchildren, so go read it here. Their denim doesn't have bells and whistles. It's just damn good jeans. In a limited number of styles and washes. When you go in, you're going to be fitted by someone that knows what is going to look good on your body (and denim) better than you do. That denim is going to be tight as hell (as it is supposed to), and you've got to trust them and, for God's sake, don't wash them. Wear them. Wear them out. And beat them on rocks in a river. Or wash them in a sink. Or stick them in a freezer. My point is, the I+W family, as evidenced by their coffee table book and blog, Love Fades, know denim, love denim, and want you to experience it all too. They've got such a great community in such a tiny gas station. There's a whole patio out back where people gather for Supper and Song, to hear the likes of Karen Elson, Dan Auerbach, Nikki Lane, etc., eat tacos, let kids and dogs roam. Every year they have their Pinewood Derby, a sight to behold. It's community. It's the traditions their grandparents have passed on and they're spreading through, not just Nashville, but the world. It's pretty awesome what we can do with a platform, right?

Trends will pass, but the importance of tradition will always be integral to our culture, and I am loving seeing this embraced so much in fashion.  Tradition is something so important in the South, yes. But tradition in fashion means bringing back jobs to artisans and craftsmen, thinking more about the choices we make and why, and knowing from where they come in terms of inspiration and source. 

CommentsTags rugged and fancy nashville fashion nashville fashion week peter nappi leather boots italian crafted italian industrial imogene and willie carrie eddmenson matt eddmenson denim selvege denim selvedge denim jeans sartorial country music turquoise jewelry chambray railroad stripe workwear imogene +willie

Jul 16, 2012

Welcome to Rugged and Fancy!

Welcome to the new home of Rugged and Fancy! We are so blessed to live our lives creating amazing things every day, whether it’s in production, jewelry, art, music, our community,  or with the incredibly talented people around us that we want to share the visions and stories and creations right here. 

There are a few things that we know you can expect- every Friday we will be posting a playlist here on the blog and Spotify to help carry you into the weekend. Our perfect Saturdays are spent spread out in front of our record player, surrounded by stacks of vinyl. We hope you dig the music, hear some treasured songs and find new favorites, and then go buy lots of vinyl! Here is a special edition playlist for our first post at the new site, and come back on Friday for another.

Another feature we will have here at Rugged and Fancy is profiling artisans, craftsmen, musicians, stylish people, movers and shakers, etc. And...there will be some special collaborations between Rugged and Fancy and some really gifted people that will be going in... the Rugged and Fancy STORE (launching very, very soon).

We are treating this space as a living place that will grow and change as we see fit and as YOU shape it, so please feel free to communicate with us! We are alive and well through the blog right here, email on the site, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and more. (To connect, check out the Widgets to the right.)

This week, join me as I blog a couple of road trips to a couple of different states, some sourcing trips, a fashion preview, and more.

Thank you all for joining us on this awesome adventure. And special thanks to David Blumberg, who did our amazing branding, Jason Hamric, my assistant Lindsay Lord,  Roni Nuby, and Andy Birdwell.

CommentsTags rugged and fancy lifestyle art fashion blog lifestyle blog duquette johnston morgan jones johnston morgan johnston damien jurado washed out jurado alexander the meters duke spirit richard swift jessie baylin kevin augunas artisans craftsmen jason hamric lindsay lord andy birwell david blumberg