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Authentic Lives | Andrea Tamburrini

Ben Ashby

Known for his delicious European moments, here are some images from our archives by Andrea.  

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Authentic Lives | Alex McDonell

Ben Ashby

We’ve been friends with Alex for forever. We recently discovered some of his early work in our archives. Check it out.  

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Authentic Lives | Scott Bakkin

Ben Ashby

Canadian photographer Scott Bakkin is known for his landscapes of the Canadian Rockies and the western regions of Canada. Over the years we’ve collected a few of our favorite images by him.... 

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Hillenmeyer Christmas Shop

Ben Ashby

Hillenmeyer Christmas Shop, a fun and family-friendly experience where the nostalgia of the past meets today's Christmas traditions, is opening its doors for another holiday season starting late November each year.

Inspired by yuletides of yesteryear, Hillenmeyer Christmas Shop invites guests to enjoy hot cider, marshmallow roasting, animals, a vintage sleigh and visits from Santa. Visitors are welcomed by the smell of fresh pine and holiday spices as they discover an extensive assortment of freshly cut trees, custom wreaths, garlands and more. Partnering with hand-selected regional merchants and growers allows the shop to provide the freshest greens and quality goods available.

Since 1950, the Hillenmeyer family has been providing a Christmas experience for Lexington. A family-owned business, today Hillenmeyer Christmas Shop is owned and operated by husband and wife team, Joseph and Shannon Hillenmeyer, whose vision is to bring holiday traditions to life for generations of families. Steeped in local heritage, a visit to Hillenmeyer Christmas Shop transports guests to a simpler time while bringing families together in celebration of the season. Offering a unique and eclectic experience, visitors will find cups of hot cider to enjoy along with a fireplace where bags of marshmallows are ready for roasting. Inviting families to enjoy themselves leisurely, children can visit the live nativity scene and even pet the shop’s sheep and donkeys. A large vintage sleigh, originally belonging to Joseph Hillenmeyer’s great-great grandfather, sits within to create the perfect opportunity for family photos. And occasionally, Santa comes to visit and listen to children’s Christmas wishes while spreading holiday cheer among visitors.

Guests can visit Hillenmeyer Christmas Shop at 3389 Tates Creek Road, Lexington, Kentucky 40502 where it is open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 8pm and Sunday from 11am to 8pm. For further information and a compete schedule of activities, please visit http://hillenmeyerchristmas.com

"Shortly, It Will All be Memories" || Meet Patrice Plouffe

Ben Ashby

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Photographer Patrice Plouffe has enchanted us with his dark and moody landscapes from across the globe. We wanted to learn more about his photography and his adventures so we sat down for a chat. 

 


Why do you adventure?  When I’m on an adventure, I am by myself. Being far away from others and big cities makes me feel alive and helps me manage my stress. 
 


 

Why do you explore? I love to take pictures of wild animals. I explore to be able to find their most hidden dens and capture pictures of them in their natural state. 
 

 

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Why take risks in life? I used to never take risks I was comfortable with the stability. But things happened in my life and that’s forces me to push myself and my limits. Sometimes even if you don’t want to, you have to. Personally, my best memories are from when I took risks. 


 

Where are you from? I am from Québec, Canada. I was born and raised the very small town of Saint-Sulpice (population of about 2,000). My backyard was fields and forests. I think that’s why I’ve always loved wildlife and why I’ve always had a special connection with nature. Presently, for work, I live in the much bigger city of Montreal, unfortunately. I do however on weekends get out of town as much as I can! 

 
 

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What is your 9-5? I am the project manager for a downtown Montréal artist/designer company. 


 

When you were growing up what or who did you want to be? When I was very young I wanted to invent things, like an industrial designer. After, a little older, I started to play guitar and was in a band. So at that point I wanted to be a rockstar (haha). I’ve always be a very creative person: I play music, I draw, I take pictures. My big goal is to live off my art.

 

 

 

 

Favorite place you've visited? Everywhere in Iceland, but Jökulsárlón blue lagoon was magical. 


 

Place you most desperately want to visit? Indonesia


 

What is the single greatest moment of human humanity you've experienced while traveling? I will always be amazed how generous people are towards strangers. 

When I was younger I played music in a band. We used to do a lot of shows and tours away from home. For weeks we had little money and no place to sleep. 

People were always ready to invite us in to their homes, let us take showers and made us food even though they didn’t know us personally. There was also one family in Iceland that will always be in my heart. They were so generous with my friend and myself. They invited us, complete strangers, into their home. They made us dinner, gave us a place to sleep, shared their knowledge of Iceland with us and even lent us their car. 


What has changed about you because of your travels? I'm much more grateful for what I have in life. I enjoy the simple things that surround me.


 

If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why? I am used to traveling alone but if I had to choose it would be with my good friend Micheal. He’s not complicated, he’s as easy going as I am and we’re often on the same wave length. He pushes me to take more risks and be more adventurous. 


 

 

Must haves for travel? Toilet paper.


 

Travel tips: If you’re short on time and cannot take a long term vacation be sure to rent a car. By relying on public transportation you loose a lot of time. You’ll be so much less stressed and another perk, you can always sleep in the car if necessary. 


 

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Give us a story: I traveled alone in Costa rica and everyone told me that it was a very safe place, but in the city of Tamarindo I ran into trouble. I was out at a club with a lot of Costaricans, it was the only night of my trip that I decided to go out to party. A Costarican was bothering me the whole night, trying to sell me cocaine. A little later in the night, a couple of drinks in, I had made friends with another traveler who was staying at the same hostel as I. I was honestly a bit tipsy and had to use the washroom, but it was very far in a dark corner behind the club. When I got out of the washroom the same guy who was harassing me to buy cocaine came at me with a knife in his hands telling me I have to buy his cocaine or I would be in a lot of trouble. Not knowing how to react I told him I had no money on me, but I would be back quickly with some. He obviously followed me back into the club. This is where I saw the one friend I had made at the beginning of the night. I told him I was in a lot of trouble and needed his help to get back safely to the hostel. He took a moment and tried to talk to the Costarican, without success. He couldn’t do anything for me because the Costarican had pulled a gun on him. At this point I must admit I was pretty scared, not to mention the club was closing in less than an hour. I didn’t know what to do. I told the Costarican that I needed to get to the bank and at that point I just bolted. I must have ran 6KM in 2minutes (haha) to get back to the hostel. Luckily I met a security guard who calmed me down and reassured me. Apparently in the drug “low seasons” in Tamarindo it happens a lot. I don’t have to tell you I didn’t sleep one wink that night. I would have to say, be extra vigilant and careful, you never know what can happen when you’re alone! Words of advice when you’re alone: don’t drink too much and keep your head straight. 


 

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Based on your travels what is the single most needed improvement for humanity to be stronger: Humanity has lost its way, If I could remove one thing on earth to help the world it would be all the hatred, terrorists and religions. Every single human needs to accept everyone as they are. When defining religions, we create differences, thus separating us all instead of drawing us all together.

 

What would you say to someone who has never travelled before? Take time to enjoy and relax, don't be hurried. It’s over way too soon. Shortly, it will all be memories. You will regret if you don’t enjoy the moment.

 

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When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that lesson? Every time I travel I'm out of my comfort zone. I travel with only a backpack and a limited budget. That's what I love and I learn every time to be more grateful of what I have back home. The time I’ve felt the most out of my comfort zone was the Costa Rica incident previously mentioned. I felt very alone and powerless. I’ve learned to be more careful and not go to crazy partying alone in a club so far  away from home ;)


What would you say to your former self? Time changes everything, stop stressing, be patient, everything will fall into place.


 

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What gives you hope? Photography, nature, landscapes, wildlife


 

Where to next? I would love to visit my country.  The Rockies, British Columbia. Also for my next big trip I would visit Norway. 
 


 

Is flannel always in season? No :/ I'm always hot. 

 

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Jail House Knits || Give Authentic 2017

Ben Ashby

I thought I'd seen it all, but then Jail House Knits joined us this Christmas season with their hand knitted paintings. I hope you love them as much as I do...

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Tell Us About Your Business

I'm Tracie the maker behind Jailhouse Knits. I use my passion for color, pattern, and texture to create stitched paintings, knit and crochet accessories, and rag dolls.

Where are you located?

Hickory, North Carolina

Why should people shop small?

Shopping small means you are helping a creative achieve their dreams.

Why support makers?

I support my local makers by sourcing my materials from local yarn and fabric shops located in Western North Carolina and my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. So, supporting other makers is vital to help their businesses thrive and survive.

What is your most popular product?

I'm just starting out with Jailhouse Knits, so I really do not have a 'popular product'. But I will say, I get the most positive feedback about my rag doll...Ms. Sheep.

What is the greatest reward in being a small business?

Oh my gosh! Being able to create all day long is a blessing. It is the entire process of the idea becoming a real product. I really enjoy taking photos and staging my products in mock ups too.

What is the greatest struggle in being a small business?

I wish I could clone myself ten times! More help would be wonderful. Being a one woman show is a struggle to juggle. :) Ha! I like to rhyme!

What is one piece of advice you'd share?

Do not compare yourself to others. If you knit a kick-ass beanie, then put it out there! If you can paint a beautiful flower, put it out there! The more you create, the better your creations will become.

What is your favorite Christmas song?

Silent Night

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The Painted Lily || Give Authentic 2017

Ben Ashby

I feel like The Painted Lily has created timeless products that are perfect for any generation. Say hello...

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Tell Us About Your Business

My stone coasters, ornaments and barn wood pieces are made in small batches in our rural farm studio in Pennsylvania. I incorporating vintage images and artwork with beautiful tumbled marble tile. I create for people who love unique statement pieces for their homes.

Where are you located?

Pennsylvania

Why should people shop small?

Shopping small helps you to find products that are made with love and spirit and all things cozy and warm. I feel that every piece that I create passes through my hands and becomes imbued with love and good vibes. I hope that my customers feel that too when they receive their pieces from me.

Why support makers?

Makers aren't just making beautiful products. Makers are creating a new way of life... investing in their local communities, building connections and changing the way that business happens all around the world.

What is your most popular product?

My most popular product is my stone coasters. People love the rich colors, the smooth texture of the tiles, the tumbled stone that I use and they love how durable and beautiful the coasters are.

What is the greatest reward in being a small business?

The greatest reward is watching my business grow in surprising ways, in slow and steady ways. It's so rewarding to build something from the ground up and watch it take shape before your eyes.

What is the greatest struggle in being a small business?

Work/life balance, always. I think it's the main struggle of any small business owner who also has a family.

What is one piece of advice you'd share?

What is your favorite Christmas song

Without hesitation, it's O Holy Night. But only if the singer stays true to the song. No crazy riffs or vocal gymnastics. Just a pure tone and the beautiful melody and lyrics.

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Roots + Crowns || Give Authentic 2017

Ben Ashby

Portland really must have the best makers. We were so excited to discover Roots + Crowns this Christmas season...

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Tell Us About Your Business

Roots & Crowns is a one-woman apothecary out of Portland, OR. I specialize in Tincture-based Bitters, Herbal Remedies, Botanical Skincare, Aromatherapy, & Ritual. Roots & Crowns as a simply put mission, is "plant power to the people." I only use organic and/or wildcrafted ingredients and every product is inspired by the needs of people in my life. I strive to make sure my work is both helpful, while also enhancing the beauty and joy in as many lives as possible.

Where are you located?

Portland

Why should people shop small?

The more we support small and/or local economy, the better off we all are. Contrary to what huge corporations want their shareholders to believe, unlimited growth is both impossible and unsustainable. With growth comes the necessity to cut corners/aspects of quality. That's just the way it is. Smaller is actually better in terms of quality and craftsmanship.

Why support makers?

Moving off my reasons for people shopping small, I believe that by having more makers receive support from the population, we are encouraging more people to live on purpose. This means a happier, more vital society at large.

What is your most popular product?

Rose Face Serum

What is the greatest reward in being a small business?

When I get emails from customers telling me that my work has helped them heal. But really- all the feedback I get from folks who notice what a difference my work makes in their lives. When I get a message like that, it's like an energy boost for the rest of the day.

What is the greatest struggle in being a small business?

The uncertainty. Constantly hoping that I will be able to make ends meet, and maintain a healthy work/life balance.

What is one piece of advice you'd share?

If you have a deep yearning to do something, try it! Fear is part of every risk, but I choose to see certain risks as a leaps of faith. Usually those deep yearnings are intuitive gut instincts that help guide us to what we really, really want to do with our lives. I'm not going to say it's always easy, but I believe when you follow your heart and work hard, everything is possible.

What is your favorite Christmas song?

I wish I had a more obscure thing to say, but I have to say Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You"

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ADME Apothecary || Give Authentic 2017

Ben Ashby

ADME is making simple, easy to use, and beautiful apothecary products. I am so excited to introduce them to you this Christmas season...

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Tell Us About Your Business

ADME Apothecary was created by a public health nerd, passionate about making routine beauty products healthier. The name was inspired by how anything we put in our bodies, or on our skin, travels through our bodies. ADME Apothecary is dedicated to creating products that replenish and repair daily damage to your skin without leaving anything harmful behind. ADME uses high quality, organic ingredients, and develops blends for all skin types. Each product is made by hand, in small batches to ensure you receive the best possible product. ADME Apothecary is also dedicated to making a difference in the world. I truly believe that business is one of the most powerful instruments for meaningful change. I am proud to give back to causes that inspire my products: women's issues, environmental sustainability, and human health. Currently 5% of all profits from my products are donated to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, a world leader in cancer research and patient care, and whose sole mission is to defeat cancer. I also created a product that gives 50% of the total cost to supporting efforts to rebuild in the Caribbean Islands through Unidos por Puerto Rico, and the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. Both of these charity efforts are very near and dear to me, and being able to give through my work is the most rewarding part of ADME Apothecary.

Where are you located?

Fresno, California

Why should people shop small?

There so many reasons to shop small, but I think the biggest one for me is that shopping small helps to support and build your own community. You're not only investing in a product, but also the people around you, and that can have a really incredible impact.

Why support makers?

As a maker I put my heart into every jar of scrub, or bottle of oil. I really want you to enjoy the product as much as I love making it for you. As a maker you share your passion with others, and it creates a better product.

What is your most popular product?

My most popular product is the Rosemary & Peppermint Body Scrub.

What is the greatest reward in being a small business?

You can connect with your customers in a really incredible way. I've also had several customers request custom body scrub, which has evolved in new product ideas.

What is the greatest struggle in being a small business?

Balancing work and life. Often they blur together, and it can take real effort to disconnect.

What is one piece of advice you'd share?

Invest in yourself. If you have an idea or passion, invest what makes sense into cultivating it, and see where it goes. The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn't work out as you imagined, but at least you tried.

What is your favorite Christmas song?

I'll Be There With Bells On, by Loose Ties

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The White Crowe || Give Authentic 2017

Ben Ashby

I am obsessed with these beautiful works of art The White Crowe creates. Say hello and learn a bit more about them below....

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Tell Us About Your Business?

The White Crowe is a small home studio by Lauren Crowe, a freelance graphic designer and printmaker.

Where are you located?

Boone, North Carolina

Why should people shop small?

When individuals shop small they know their economy goes directly to that one person's family, putting food on their table, paying bills, supporting a dream and a passion.

Why support makers?

It's important to support the makers because when you do so you support a dream and help grow an inspiring world.

What is your most popular product?

My piece "Moonshine"

What is the greatest reward in being a small business?

My greatest reward by being an artist is being able to share my work with others and see a piece of myself travel to a new home with a new story.

What is one piece of advice you'd share?

If you have a passion and you're good at something, share it with others.

What is your favorite Christmas song?

O Come Let Us Adore Him by Shane and Shane

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Selena Ashley Designs || Give Authentic 2017

Ben Ashby

Say hello to maker Selena Ashley Designs! 

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Tell Us About Your Business: I’m a designer and hand-letterer.

Why should people shop small? When individuals shop small they know their economy goes directly to that one person's family, putting food on their table, paying bills, supporting a dream and a passion.

Why support makers? It's important to support the makers because when you do so you support a dream and help grow an inspiring world.

What is your most popular product? Hand-lettered Globes

What is the greatest reward in being a small business? My greatest reward by being an artist is being able to share my work with others and see a piece of myself travel to a new home with a new story.

What is the greatest struggle in being a small business? Making people understand the difference between handmade artisan prints and mass-produced art and helping them to see the value in the authentic decor. It's easy to go online and just buy any old print, but that's the equivalent of going to a mall and blindly buying a t-shirt. We want people to understand that a significant art purchase requires more than just a quick online glance.

What is one piece of advice you'd share? If you have a passion and you're good at something, share it with others.

 

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Why Must We Protect Our Public Lands?

Ben Ashby

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WHY MUST WE PROTECT OUR PUBLIC LANDS

ESSAY BY AMY HAYDEN || PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAIGE DENKIN

 

The question was asked...why must we protect our public lands and parks... Amy Hayden responded with a beautiful essay

Here is a simple history lesson for you. You do realize that's how these places became national parks. Someone wandered onto the land and saw the beauty and decided it needed to be known that it was a beautiful, majestic wonder the earth created, and it needed to be known that there were many people that came before us and they put their mark on it and called it home. And when decades later it was discovered people went to great lengths to protect it, and to teach others about it, to help preserve such a wonder, a rare beauty. Beauties that every state in our country once had tons of and now everyday we are losing more of them from natural disasters and political disasters. If no one stepped foot into these areas there would be no beauty to admire. No one would know or care about such places. We'd be suffocating with cities filled to the brim with people.

 

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These places are our history, my history, Native American runs through my blood and I would love to know what my ancestors experienced before I die, so I too can find a way to leave my mark on this earth for future generations to see and experience when I'm long gone. To remember who came before them as we are now remembering who came before us. That's what national parks/monuments are all about. To teach us to be grateful, to show us that we were not just handed all this. It's to teach us that one day this world will no longer exist in the beauty we see it today. Stepping foot into such a place is not killing it, it's making it a beautiful memory. But drilling and mining miles down underneath it, Say goodbye resources this beautiful land survives on. Say hello to a wasteland caused by greedy, power hungry humans. Open your eyes and see the answers are in these places.

@REBELLIOUSWALLFLOWER

A Peak inside Village Common

Ben Ashby

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VILLAGE COMMON

A PEAK INSIDE THE CATSKILLS SHOP

 

They're one of our favorite candle brands. We've known Ben and Blake of Village Common for years, long before they created their continually growing brand. Back in the fall we popped into their Catskill, New York shop to see the new space and to learn more about the brand and their journey into retail. 

 


 

Who are you? The Village Common - Blake Hays and Ben Lebel

What is the story behind Village Commons? Beginning in 1968, and from where we get our name, the first Village Common opened its doors in Avenel, New Jersey. It was run by Grandma Bernadette, current owner Ben Lebel’s grandmother. In its first incarnation, Village Common was an antique store of carefully selected, fine pieces from all eras. Grandma Bernadette also had beautiful plants and flowers for sale on the front porch that always attracted passers by to stop in. 

In 1984, the Village Common moved to Stroudsburg, Pa., on the property of the Stroudsmoor Country Inn, and was re-imagined into a country store by Susan Lebel, Bernadette’s daughter and Ben’s mother. Antiques were still available alongside candles, soaps, homemade canned goods, and unique gift ideas. Susan has since blossomed this once country store into a thriving floral and decor studio. 

 From our southern roots, Billy Hays, current owner Blake Hays’ grandfather, opened his first country store in Pineville, Louisiana in 1960. It served as a vintage bodega; offering local produce and custom goods. Because of the construction of the new “American Highway”, Billy moved and opened his second store in 1978. This time offering mouth watering barbecue and other country store favorites. After years of serving his community, he decided to close the doors to his store. 

We bring to you a new installment of these family traditions blended together. Creating handmade, natural apothecary goods, kindled by their family history, we are continuing the legacy of the Village Common.

 

 

 

Why did you want to become a maker? I believe it’s just who we are and born to be. We were always making something as individuals and as partners. We saw the yearning for quality goods and something besides the mundane or what was available at every corner store. We wanted to create that for people. We also found a beautiful community of makers in the Hudson Valley and Catskill region of New York and wanted to contribute our skills and heritage to the movement. 

 

 

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What were each of you doing prior to Village Common? We were both working for Ralph Lauren in NYC. Ben was in store development and helping to create new spaces for Ralph Laurent stores. I was working for the website creating the content you would see and shop from. Our jobs were very exciting and challenging but we both knew that we were ready to create our own lifestyle brand. So, we set off and haven’t looked back.


 

 


Tell us about the Catskill community: Catskill is growing so fast! The community is one that is layered, evolving, quirky and so warm. We have become a very tight group in a short period of time. It feels like we are at the beginning of a very cool thing. It feels like a blessing to be a part of it. 

 

Why did you decide on that town? We felt like Catskill had everything we were looking for. We could afford to produce, have a shop and live in the Village of Catskill. That was really important for us. We are also so close to Albany/Troy, Kingston, the Catskill mountains are 10 minutes down the road, and the train ride to NYC is 2 hours down the river. We felt like Catskill had been overlooked and we were puzzled as to why. So, we moved in and love calling it home.

 

 

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How has it been adapting to the Hudson Valley way of life? It has been quite a ride in the best way possible! We have had so much fun opening a store and getting to know the community in and around the Hudson Valley. Life is beautiful up here. The hiking, small towns, farms and events keep us busy and finding new ways to enjoy our life up here. We love the Hudson Valley!

 

 

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What made you want to open a store? We have been dreaming of opening a store since we started the Village Common over 3 years ago. So, it was always on the radar. We wanted to have a space where people could come and see us and where their candles are made. It works out really well that we have the candles made in house. We also wanted a place to display more of our lifestyle vision for Village Common. In our store you will find anything from handmade bags by local artisans or vintage barware to tool boxes and spices from our neighbor. We try to have something for everyone. This was a way for us to also reach deeper into our community and establish ourselves as a member of the Catskill growing maker/retail scene.

 

 

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What are your most popular products? Our most popular product is our American Landscape candles. It was the first thing we created and people continue to express their love for the scents. We only use essential oils to fragrance our products and I feel this is what people keep coming back for.  

 

What challenges have you faced being in a small town and how has the shop/business adapted to those? Our biggest challenge is getting people to our town and in our store. We adapted before we opened creating a space to fulfill orders in the back of house right in our shop. So, we create all of our product and have the store under one roof. This helps us with the slow traffic because we can still be working while we entertain our guests that do happen to visit us. 

 

 

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What is the most rewarding aspect of being in a small town? Community for sure. There is nothing like a small community behind you and all of your fellow business owners cheering you on. 

 

What’s your favorite product in the store? Besides our Village Common product, we carry vintage African indigo textiles and that is one of our favorite things to share with our clients and thrown on ourselves.

 

 

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Walk us through the design/aesthetic process a bit: This is an ever evolving and constantly shifting process. We are always putting together drawings, colors, designs, ideas and building things. It’s also a lot of trial and error. We have a clear vision, but actually creating what we see is the tricky part. I think the process is just that, a process. It’s just Ben and I so we get to figure it all out. Sometimes this is challenging but it is always rewarding to put into motion what we are dreaming. 

 

 

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When we visit the Hudson Valley what other shops/places should we visit? The Hudson Valley is so vast with so many great places to visit but here are a few we think you should stop in:

Circle W - Palenville, NY

Clove and Creek - Kingston, NY

Northern Grade Barn Days - High Falls, NY

Lovefield Vintage - Kingston, NY

Mansion+Reed - Coxsackie, NY

Otto’s - Germantown, NY

 

What’s next? We are planning to grow our personal line into more products and we are also planning to expand our store and hopefully dive deeper into the lifestyle portion of our Village Common dream. 

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Five Alternative Uses for Fruitcake

Ben Ashby

 

Truman Capote’s 1956 short story “A Christmas Memory” opens on a chilly, late November morning to a young boy’s surrogate mother looking out the kitchen window. Her breath fogs the pane and “Oh my,” she exclaims to him, “it’s fruitcake weather!"

 

BY: D. GILSON

 

I’ve been thinking about this boy and this woman a lot recently, as my own breath fogs the frosty mornings and the local food co-op in our New England town puts out its annual order forms for fruitcake, displayed carefully between menorah candles and commemorative winter solstice prayer cards.

My mother doesn’t bake. But lo-and-behold, every holiday season a fruitcake adorned the giant red sideboard next to our kitchen table. My mother and I would drive to the local Sam’s Club, grab Diet Cokes from the hot dog stand, peruse the aisles of colossal cheese and salami trays, gallon jugs of Jack Daniels, permafrost boxes of Hot Pockets and Pizza Rolls capable of feeding a small legion of junior high boys for the better part of a month. We’d end at the bakery, plop a shrink-wrapped, over-sized fruitcake into our cart, and make for home. Freshness isn’t an issue with fruitcake, the food that, along with Twinkies, may very well feed us in a post-nuclear apocalypse. 

Our fruitcake held court upon the vintage milk glass cake stand for a month or so, a month when we’d peck at it until New Year’s, when my mother would throw what remained in the backyard, where stray cats and birds would finish what we couldn’t.

Yes, it’s popular to hate on fruitcake. And though I don’t particularly like it — even the artisanal ones this site will inevitably link to, made by hipster bakers with pretty blogs and thick framed glasses smudged with organic, locally-sourced, hand-ground flour — I want to offer you five uses for fruitcake that don’t require eating them.

XO,

D.

 
 

Rise to social media stardom. Jesus is not the reason for the season, and Santa is drunk on a beach in Cancun. This leaves room for a new holiday star: you. Bake a fruitcake (or buy one, it doesn’t matter). Snap a picture of it next to your bare ass. Tag with #FruitCAKE. Drop to Insta, Tumblr, Facebook, Reddit (even trolling, closeted Republicans need holiday eye candy). Watch your likes grow and your star rise, bringing many a wise man to lay in your manger.

 

Win the passive-aggressive winter Olympics. That racist cousin whose name you always draw for the family gift exchange? That co-worker who sends you “Long Live Lady Gaga” playlists on Spotify? That guy who gave you chlamydia junior year but is now married to a rich patron with a Lower East Side loft and cabin in Asheville? Yeah, fuck ‘em with kindness. Bake the driest fruitcake you can, wrap it in butcher paper, tie it with twine, add a sprig of spruce, and send it alongside the happiest holiday card you can muster. Up goes your karma count, no one can say you didn’t try, and hey, maybe your untouched fruitcake will draw rats to their well-appointed kitchen.

 
 

Plan a date. Tell your crush to bring dried fruit and the door will be open. Splay yourself upon the counter, covered with flour, eggs, butter…whatever else goes in a fruitcake. See what happens.

 

Throw a costume party. Invite every gay man and every woman you know to a Fruitcake Party. Dress: ho ho ho. Décor: low lighting. Drink: liquid fruitcake (orange zest, a cinnamon stick, but mostly gin). Distraction: Love Actually on loop. Don’t forget: carb and gluten free fruitcake bites and plenty of mistletoe.

 

Reconnect with your mother. You don’t call enough. You haven’t given her grandchildren. You live so far away in that city now. And yet, you are naturally her favorite. Spend an afternoon baking with your mother, margaritas in your cups and Dolly Parton on the stereo. Tell her about the boy who broke your heart last month. Let her tell you he wasn’t good enough anyway.

 

D. Gilson is the author of I Will Say This Exactly One Time: Essays (Sibling Rivalry, 2015) and Crush with Will Stockton (Punctum Books, 2014). He is an Assistant Professor of English at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and his work has appeared in Threepenny Review, PANK, The Indiana Review, The Rumpus, and as a notable essay in Best American Essays. Find D. at dgilson.com or on Instagram @dgilson.

Happy Birthday, National Parks!

Christophe Chaisson

"The beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel." — Theodore Roosevelt

PHOTO + ESSAY: PAIGE DENKIN

I was asked to write a quick piece about the National Parks and why they’re important. I spent a long time debating the rich and deep rhetoric I could create about our beautiful lands and how inviting and scared they are. But I couldn’t bring myself to write these words. At least not seriously, not whole-heartedly. After questioning why writers blocks would strike me on a topic I’m so fixated and passionate about, I realized the shallow facade of a piece I’d be creating if all I did was sugar coat our country and the way we treat our National Parks. So this isn’t a fluffy feel good piece about America, it’s a PSA in honor of our endangered land. A birthday wish that in another 100 years, we find the confidence and commitment to take a stand for the protection of our only planet and our beautiful country.

Do I need to include an quick explanation of how magnificent our country’s terrain is? Perhaps. As someone who wasn’t afforded the luxury of travel while growing up, I’m still humbled by the smallest of foothills and the biggest of skies. Now as I near 30 years old, I’m happy to say I’ve at least driven from one coast to the other and had the opportunity to see the differing atmospheres and topography. This country is massive, my friends. It is hearty, it is as diverse as the people who live here and it is drop dead gorgeous. And 100 years ago, Woodrow Wilson made the National Park Service a federally managed and funded bureau, allowing them to preserve and honor the magnificent sights and locations that make our country what it is.

Though encouraged for personal and cultural gain, please travel vast corners of the globe as much as this life affords you to. Many of us cannot. But I know you have a weekend coming up that’s completely free. Maybe some of you have travel points saved up or a car sitting in the drive way that only knows the route to work and a few pokestops along the way. You need to do yourself a favor and make an honest attempt to visit as many of our National Parks as you possibly can. Now. With nearly 60 national parks, ranging from the deserts of Arizona and the mountain peaks in Alaska to the sands of Hawaii and the caves of Kentucky… they’re out there. They’re begging to be loved, viewed and respected. The lands give way to more than 18,000 miles of trails and is home to multiple endangered species. I can’t stress to you enough the beauty that can be found in our own backyard. It doesn’t have to be a trip to Iceland or Australia, it can just be a road trip with your friends or a long weekend with your significant other. Or maybe just an over night camping trip with the dog and your fishing pole. It’s there. It’s accessible. And no excuse is worth missing these moments.

Now I can sit here all day and type out facts and show pretty photos of Yosemite and Yellowstone, but the unfortunate truths are never as pretty as we hope. Lately the ongoing trend of doing anything daring or risky for a photo, has literally begun the collapse of fragile ecosystems, preserved for centuries within the parks. The lack of respect for our own home land is concerning to say the least. Not only is it becoming more frequent for tourists to carve graffiti into trees and rock faces (and then post it through their social outlets) but visitors proudly take home fauna, debris and even living creatures as a collected prize, leaving the land a little more vacant and resulting in a less fulfilling experience for future generations. And if destruction and theft isn’t enough, the unnecessary death toll continues to rise. From falling off cliffs, to breaking through acidic springs.. The stories are abundant and more come out all the time. I mean, can we talk about the insanity that is dying in a national park from lack of respect for the land? My friends, it’s an old tried-and-true concept.. respect the land and the land will respect you. Before visiting one our truly sacred and gorgeous parks, understand that we are simply guests on mother earth and you will never win an argument with her so don’t even bother, darling.

It has been 100 years of preserving our land. 100 years of fighting and battling to keep Earth’s legacy alive and today, on the centennial of such a great accomplishment, I ask you to evaluate your relationship with the outdoors. Maybe you don’t see it enough, maybe you see it too often and take it for granted. Whatever the case may be, today is the day to pay your respects and toast a drink to our diverse, rich and magnificent country that is The United States and thank our stars there are people willing to continuously fight to protect those locations that make us all go “ooh” on Instagram. These places wouldn’t be around anymore if it wasn’t for them and wasn’t for the National Park Service. This entire country could easily have been fracked for resources and turned into a super mall by now, but for the time being.. we’re lucky enough to have soaring mountain peaks, seemingly infinite canyons and crystal blue waters. Please, never take it for granted. Offer your donations to help continue their efforts, take time to visit and appreciate the parks or just have a conversation with a friend about the importance of protecting the sights and locations our forefathers wrote about, traveled through and discovered. This ground is the exact same ground history was written on, and it’s our duty to continue the efforts of preservation.

Happy birthday, National Parks. You’ve always made America great.

Take Better Portraits: Tips from Brandon Roberts

Ben Ashby

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Like yesterday's story with Emil we sat down with Seattle based photographer Brandon Roberts while he was in New York City to discuss his journey towards mastering portraits. After introducing Brandon and Emil to each other they went out into the city to create a series of portraits of each other to demostrate how their styles differ. 

 

Who are you. Where are you. Give us your links.  Brandon Roberts, currently residing in Seattle, WA. www.betterrugged.com. @betterrugged.

How long have you been a photographer. Is it your main job? Ever since I was a kid, I’ve taken photos. In high school, I spent time shooting and developing my own film. That’s when I became captivated. It took years after that to look at photography as a career and not just a hobby. Currently, I split my time as a reality tv producer and part-time photographer. I’m not far away from being a photographer full-time. #goals

 

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When did you take your first portrait? I feel like my first portrait is from when I was 15 years old, in my awkward, clumsy days taking pictures of my friends for my high school my photo class. One of the first is of my best friend, Annie. I had her sit and pose on my plaid-covered futon in my teenage-boy bedroom. In this black and white photo she’s looking off to the side with all my crap around her. In the photo you can see a Marvin the Martian poster, Real World poster, an expired Washington state license plate, a Lucille Ball set-photo of her losing it in the chocolate factory, a CD boombox and a fish tank (DANG. hahahaha). This was a photo I shot and developed myself. 

 

How have you progressed over time? What do you feel has been your most improved quality? I’m constantly progressing. That’s always going to happen as long as I keep shooting. My style has changed over time because I continuously create a space for myself to try new techniques whether that’s in-camera or during my editing process. My most improved quality while taking portraits, lately, is editing in a way that celebrates the subject. I don’t want to them to seem dull or fade into the background while in their environment and I try to add a bit of magic to help set the tone. That and just making sure there’s not a lot of noise, the image is properly exposed and the eyes remain sharp. If I don’t have these, I don’t have a portrait. 

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What makes for a good portrait? A good portrait makes me feel something immediately. When a portrait makes me feel, as a viewer, I want to figure out what story is presenting itself to me. Lighting is beyond important as this helps set the tone for what story is being told. The gestures or reactions the subject delivers help elevate each portrait I take. Connecting and adapting to my subject is part of my process, I’ve got to be able to make them feel comfortable enough to decide where they want to go with my directing. Getting the best results in camera sets me up for a successful edit. 


Do you prefer natural light or artificial? Why? I have crafted my portrait skills mostly with natural light. However, I’m getting more into studio portraiture lately. They’re both so different. I like them for different reasons. When I’m out taking pictures of strangers or other subjects, I love to honor where they are in that exact moment, using the natural light to help tell their background story. With natural light you start to discern what part of the world they’re in, where they might be going, where they’re from or how they’re feeling. When using studio light to shoot a subject, I’m able to slow down the process and really get to know my subject. It’s way more intimate and that shows through the lens because as soon as the subject allows you to snap one pic you have successfully gained your subjects trust to tell their story, whatever that might be.  

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How important is composition and what makes for good composition? Composition is essential in portrait photography. We have wandering eyes and short attention spans, so grabbing ahold of the viewer is the goal. Composition helps grasp the viewers attention. Good composition allows the viewer to navigate through the image effortlessly, with purpose and reason. Composition shouldn't be clumsy, it has to make sense. Cropping is an important tool to help with composition. One should always try to master my composition in-camera, to help setup a successful edit. 

Color or black and white? I currently shoot in color. There’s something about seeing the setting as it is. I like the hints of many colors the world has to offer in order to create a little bit of magic I like to exhibit in my photos. I’ve been shooting a lot more in the state of Washington and I cannot imagine not seeing these greens pop in photographs, nor would I want to take away all of the endless colors New York City has to offer. 

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What Camera do you shoot with? Canon 5D Mark Iv


Any final advice? Go on photo-dates with other photographers who interest you, or you’ve never met in real life. Walking through the fear of not feeling capable or qualified diminishes once you get to know other photographers. I have pushed myself the last few years to do this and it has met me with incredible results. I’ve managed to make best of friends and continuously become inspired to keep going as a photographer. I have learned new skills, different shooting techniques and take the inspirations I receive during these little friend-dates to get me to the next level. It’s fascinating to hear and understand someone else’s photo journey. We’re all just trying to figure it out at the same time. 

Take Better Portraits: Tips from Emil Cohen

Ben Ashby

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Sometimes you meet people in random places. Sometimes you meet characters that need to be photographed. This Christmas season as people are gathering together we wanted to propose the idea of taking portraits of friends and family. To learn more about taking the perfect portrait we asked five of our photographer friends about their portraits and for tips on how to make yours better. 

Our first photographer is New York based Emil Cohen. I ran into Emil at American Field in Brooklyn earlier this month and knew right away I wanted to go to him for advice. I quickly introduced him to Brandon and they did a dual portrait session. Tomorrow we will see Brandon's portraits of Emil, but today it is all about Emil and his advice to you...

 


 

Who are you. Where are you. Give us your links. I'm Emil Cohen, I'm a New York based photographer specializing in portraits and people. You can see my work at www.emildcohen.com / www.instagram.com/emilcohen and www.instagram.com/portraitsinprovincetown 

How long have you been a photographer? Is it your main job? I've been an amateur photographer my whole life. Photography has been a family interest dating back to the 19th century.  In 2011, I began the graduate program at Tufts University's School of the Museum of Fine Art and received my MFA in 2014. I mark my first day of grad school as when I became a professional photographer.

 

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When did you take your first portrait? I can't tell you when I took my first portrait, but I do remember the first time one of my portraits was recognized outside of my immediate world. It was August of 2009, and I had one more semester of college left. I had taken a photo with an alpaca earlier that summer and decided to enter the photo into a contest run by The Student Travel Agency, an internationally renowned company for students and young adults who want to travel the world. When they announced my name on Facebook, I "whooped!" so loudly, that I got yelled at by my superior at my internship at National Geographic. But it didn't matter because part of the winning prize was a free trip to Europe! By December, I was off on a plane and would be back for eight weeks. Photo below: 

 

 

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How have you progressed over time? What do you feel has been your most improved quality? Over time, I feel that my aesthetic has become stronger. I continue to study other photographers and artists whom I admire, but rather than mimic them, I try to incorporate what I love about their work and apply it to my own vision. My most improved quality has definitely been the working dynamic that I create with my subject. As a photographer who specializes in portraits, it's crucial to have the person who's in front of the camera trust you, the photographer. In doing so, they let their guard down which will therefore, allow me to capture a true version of themselves. Sometimes you're given days or hours, and sometimes just a few minutes, but each experience has to be unique and met with the same amount of tenacity and determination.  

 

 

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What makes for a good portrait? To me, a good portrait is an image of person or place that shows the true version of who or what they really are.. There is a fine line between a headshot and a portrait, and the difference is honesty. With a headshot, you're trying to sell yourself to a casting agent which, while it's an attractive photos of a person, might not showcase who they really are. Photographers like Peter Hujar, Irving Penn and William Klein are portrait photographers who stripped away the background and forced a viewer to gaze at the subject head on. Then you have photographers like Alec Soth, Larry Clark and Nan Goldin who create portraits of places and communities and are just as strong and evocative as the studio photographers. In the end, what all these photographers have in common is that the camera disappears in their work, leaving the viewer gazing into a window of a raw and real moment caught in time. 

 

 

 

Do you prefer natural light or artificial? Why? Both! Natural light and artificial light both have their advantages. A photographer who knows their way around strobes will be able to recreate sunlight using flashes and use the strobes to create intentional dramatic lighting. The key is asking yourself how you want to light the photo before you shoot and then plan accordingly. For my studio portraits, I rely on a defused light which creates a soft and even light on my model, but when I shoot outdoors, I have to decide what time of day and what weather conditions I want to be shooting in. Will it be around dawn or sunset for the Golden Hour lighting? Or do I want a cloudy day that will act as a natural soft box? And look at other people's work that you love and figure out how they did it! Always a useful idea when trying to plan a photo. 


How important is composition and what makes for good composition? This is a tough question because it's so subjective. For me, composition is crucial to achieving the best version of the photo that you envision. A composition will include a few key thoughts such as framing, depth, leading lines, and symmetry. If you need a refresher, here's a great list published on Photography Mad. 

 

 

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Color or black and white? Both! Before I take a photo, I try to think whether or not the image will be black and white or color. Both palates have their own benefits. Photographers like Penn, Richard Avedon, Horst P Horst, Bruce Davidson, Vivian Maier and Diane Arbus, utilized black and white film to their advantage. These photographers started only having black and white film and therefore thought accordingly: creating photographs that are high in contrast, rich in detail and having the color removed, forced the viewer to gaze specifically at the subject that was being photographed. It's like the Wizard of Oz. The beginning of the film in Kansas features some truly breathtaking cinematography because they knew they were shooting in black and white and therefore, had to think in black and white while they shot it. 

Then Dorthy lands in Oz and all of a sudden, you catch your breath at all the incredible color. 

Color photography is amazing because you get to think differently. With color, you start thinking of complimentary colors, temperature, color balance etc.  I love artists like Cathy Opie, Todd Hido, Joel Sternfeld, Greg Crewdson, Jim Dow and David LeChaplle because of their eye for color and their ability to use the color as tool for composition. 

 

 

 


What camera do you shoot with? Canon 5D Mark iii, Iphone 8 and a Pentax K3000 35mm

 

 

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Any final advice: Two things: 

 

1. SLOW DOWN. Taking a 4x5 Large Format class was revolutionary for me because I was forced to slam the breaks on my shooting. Due to the high cost and many steps that it takes to take one image, you as a photographer can't just point and shoot. Large format photography takes time and precision which is often forgotten in a day of digital photography. I challenge any photographer to limit themselves when their out shooting a project or portrait. See how much stronger your work becomes when you allow yourself the time to breathe and think before you shoot. 

 

2. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. I am of the belief that no idea is truly original anymore. However, that doesn't mean that you can't create original work, it just means understanding the conversation that already exists and how you as an artist can join in on the discussion. Do research online or the library. Whether it's Google, or Tumblr or going to a museum of photo gallery in your city, go and learn about who else is out there. Support your fellow photographers and be inspired at the work their creating. 

 

 

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Bedding by the Sea

Ben Ashby

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BEDDING BY THE SEA

BEDDING BY MACY'S CHARTER CLUB DAMASK COLLECTION

 

I've been shooting product photography for years…but I stepped back at the beginning of this year to look at my past work, and I  realized I wanted to challenge myself to create more elaborate and elevated images. Last month while standing on the banks of the Pacific in La Push, Washington I could visually see this very cinematic moment of a bed on the beach with the waves crashing around it and the cliffs in the background. The sky would be grey and the bedding would be shades of the nature sounding the bed. When I returned home I discovered Macy’s American grown damask collection and I knew this was the bedding fit for the ideas I had filling my head. 

 

Macy’s Charter Club Damask Bedding and Sheets are made of Supima cotton grown in the US. The bedding and sheets come in a crazy broad variety of colors, but for this set I stuck with the charcoals, greys, and navy from the solids and stripes collection. I loved that I could mix and match the solids and stripes and still feel like I had a cohesive look. 

 

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For the shoot that ended up in the images I hopped from La Push, Washington on the Pacific over to Montauk, New York on the Atlantic. I had events in New York City that prevented me from flying back to the Pacific Northwest and after seeing images from friends of Montauk I knew I could easily create my original vision down by the lighthouse at the very end of Long Island. 

 

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Whether you’re styling a photoshoot by the ocean or putting together a cozy and inviting bedroom space I have some tips that I, as a bedding hoarder, have learned over the years. 

 

  1. Give Supima cotton a try. It is deliciously soft and smooth. 
  2. Never be afraid to mix and match. The Charter Club Damask collection thrives when the colors and textures vary. Keep top sheets and bottom sheets the same color, but be open to having different colors and patterns of pillow cases and pillow shams. Nothing is more boring that bedding that is all the same and same color. 
  3. Incorporate natural elements into every room. Keep plants or fresh flowers in every space to provide a freshness and breathability to the space. They help encourage positive energy within the space. Use rocks and driftwoods as additional elements. 
  4. Think seasonally. I change my bedding out with the seasons, not just because of the temperature change, but to help brighten the mood during the long and dark winter months. I am drawn to lights and brights during the winter while drawn to neutrals and calming colors during the summer.
  5. Make your space uniquely you. For me I always mix super modern new elements, like the grey and navy of the Charter Club Damask bedding with antique and vintage elements. I like a space to have a narrative and share a story. 

 

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Homemade Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Ben Ashby

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I think I have had PSL overload after the past three years of everything being pumpkin spiced. This year I have been all about the apple and the apple cider. From apple cider cakes, to apple pies, to apple butter...I have been baking at least two or three dishes a week with apples in them. I recently partnered with Kenmore to try out their 5 Quart Slow Cooker. I developed a super easy Slow Cooker Apple Butter recipe for their newly redesigned blog

 

 

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So, after you head inside from a picture perfect trip to the orchard to load up your pantry with enough apples to survive the winter, head over to Kenmore’s website  and give my recipe a try. Don’t worry, it only takes six apples, that you don’t even have to peal....and store bought apples will do.

 

MAKE IT NOW

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Paul Tellefsen | Adventure Lessons

Ben Ashby

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We've known Texas based photographer Paul Tellefsen for years. We are always inspired by his spirit of community and for adventure. We sat down with him to learn more about what he has learned from years of criss crossing the globe as a full time photographer. 

Why do you adventure? To push myself into uncomfortable, out of rhythm experiences to see what I’m really made of.

Why do you explore? Because I believe we were made to.

 

 

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Why take risks in life? What is life without risks? Boring.

Where are you from: Born and raised in Dallas, TX

What is your 9-5: I quit the 9-5 and am a full time commercial photographer and work with @socality.

 

 

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When you were growing up what or who did you want to be? I wanted to be a doctor for a long time because my mom said I had a good bed side manner. Then for a short time a chef and an architect. But I knew early on I was gifted at creative mediums like design and photography. It came naturally. So that’s what I ended up pursuing.

Favorite place you've visited? 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road in Australia. It was a lifelong dream to visit Australia. And this place took my breath away.

 

 

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Place you most desperately want to visit? Northern Norway. My dad is the first generation in America from Norway. So our family still lives in Southern Norway. We went back this Summer after 18 years and I was in awe. Flights from there are super cheap up North too.

 

 

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What is the single greatest moment of human humanity you've experienced while traveling?

New York City with Cubby Graham. I was flying to NYC for my first big photo gig with Cadillac and didn’t know who I was going to stay with or what I was gonna do. At the last minute, while I was at baggage claim, Cubby’s house opened up. Then the airline lost my bag. I spent two full days with no clothes or toiletries.

But Cubby showed one of the greatest moments of hospitality and care in my life. He offered to buy me clothes, borrow clothes, go back and wait on the baggage truck, by the way which never showed up), he gave up his bed. The list goes on. I’ve never felt so loved, but basically then a stranger. It changed my life.

 

 

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What has changed about you because of your travels? My capacity to love. I’ve grown to love more and judge less.

Who is the most dynamic and thought provoking person you've ever met? Scott Bakken. Hands down probably. He’s one of the most dynamic people I’ve ever met and now have the chance to work with. His ideas on topics inspire and challenge me relentlessly. I’m forever marked by the time I’ve spent serving underneath his leadership.

 

 

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If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why? I would pick Tanner Wendell Stewart (@tannerwendellstewart). I travelled with him a lot this year and just really enjoy seeing the world through his eyes. Highly respect his creative gift and his passion for nature. If you ever get the chance, travel with him and his wife!

 

 

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Must Haves for Travel:

  • Away Luggage
  • My weird looking, but awesome neck pillow
  • Mobile charger
  • Good book
  • Journal
  • Camera with one variable lens
  • Bathing Suit cause you never know

 

Give us Some Travel Tips:

  • Always take the window seat. The view is worth it. I’m 6’4” and I always scrunch to do it.
  • Travel Solo at least once.
  • It’s not about the city you travel to, it’s about who you experience it with. 
  • As part of your journaling while you travel, pick a flower or piece of a plant and put it into the journal to remember the trip.
  • On long flights take NyQuil. Make a game of trying to sleep the entire flight.
  • Wear your heaviest shoes onto the plane to save weight

 

 

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Give us a story any kind of story from one of your trips: This summer I travelled to Norway to see my family and part of me expected to get these epic, crazy photos that you see from there. Now we did take one day of the two weeks we were there to drive to an amazing fjord, but most of the time was with family on our farm.

What I learned on this trip is to embrace the purpose of the trip you are on. If it’s to travel and drive all day to get the shot then enjoy it, but if it’s to be with family then be with family and enjoy that too. 

 

 

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Based on your travels what is the single most needed improvement for humanity to be stronger: A desire to gain understanding of people different than us.

What would you say to someone who has never travelled before? GO! Save up. Getting outside of your normal bubble is the best thing I ever did.

The location doesn’t make the trip, the people do. I’ve travelled to some incredible places, but no matter how beautiful or EPIC the place is, if you are with the wrong people it will ruin the trip. Be thoughtful on who you bring with you.

 

 

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What is the single greatest lesson you've learned from someone that is different than you? To not seek to prove someone right or wrong, but seek to understand. I use the phrase “Help me understand” a lot these days.

When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that lesson? It’s honestly more of the same for me. We can’t judge someone regardless of their background or beliefs or what not. All we can do is have a heart of compassion towards all people. Seeking to care and not fix people different than us.

 

 

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What would you say to your former self? Calm down. Take a deep breath. You don’t need to be perfect.

What gives you hope? Jesus. period. I know that’s super Sunday school. But in my life it’s truth.

 

 

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Where to next? I’m actually writing this right now on a plane to Nashville to work with Tennessee Tourism.

Is flannel always in season? Yep. I have some packed away in my suitcase.

 

— @technopaul

 

 

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