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Fujifilm’s X-E2S in Tribeca || A Review

Ben Ashby

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Over the past month we asked Tribeca based photographer Ethan Barber to play around with the Fujifilm X-E2S and give us his thoughts about the camera and its ability to take shots around the city. We wanted to see how a mid level camera could handle content production and would aid in production with its easy to use interface and built in wifi. 

 


Over the course of the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to try the Fujifilm X-E2S. As a full-time graphic designer who commutes into Tribeca each day from northern New Jersey; portability is one of the most important factors in a camera for me. Having a small bag, space quickly fills up with my laptop, snacks, and assorted winter gear. My old DSLR was bulky and heavy, but I lugged it around because the quality of photos I was able to capture with it were worth it. Switching over to this Fuji, I was able to capture photos with the same quality and depth as my DSLR, but with the lightweight feel and smaller body that this mirrorless camera packs. Despite its deceivingly small size, it easily compares to much more expensive and larger cameras currently on the market.

 

This camera is perfect for:

  1. Entry-level photographers
  2. Photographers who need to save on space.
  3. Small weekend trips and quick portraits.
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Historic Staple Street Skybridge | Tribeca || FujiFilm XE2S

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Duane Street | Tribeca || FujiFilm XE2S

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Greenwich Street | Tribeca || FujiFilm XE2S

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The Corner of Crosby and Broome | Soho || FujiFilm XE2S

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Building entryway on West Broadway | Tribeca|| FujiFilm XE2S

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The intersection of Broadway and Howard | Soho || FujiFilm XE2S

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Church Street | Tribeca || FujiFilm XE2S

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West Broadway | Tribeca || FujiFilm XE2S

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Church Street | Tribeca || FujiFilm XE2S

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Historic Staple Street Skybridge | Tribeca || FujiFilm XE2S

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Corner of Howard and Crosby | Soho || FujiFilm XE2S

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Corner of Howard and Crosby | Soho || FujiFilm XE2S

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Lower Manhattan skyline | Hoboken, NJ || FujiFilm XE2S

Special thanks to Ethan Barber for reviewing this camera. See more of his work:

INSTAGRAM || WEBSITE

To Check out the camera CLICK HERE

Where do I Want to Adventure to Next? || Luke Gottlieb

Ben Ashby

Where do I Want to Adventure to Next?

Meet Photographer Luke Gottlieb

 

Luke Gottlieb, the photographer behind Victor of Valencia on Instagram has been one of my very favorite photographers for a very long time. I dream of the day when I have the photographer skills and editing skills he has so brilliantly mastered. I wanted to learn more, so I made my way out to Colorado to learn Luke's backstory and life advice. 


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"Adventure is one of those things that keeps life interesting and completely fresh with experiences. It’s certainly the driving force behind most of my passions in life. It’s something I think about every morning I wake up too; where do I want to adventure to next?"

 — @victorofvalencia

 

Why do you explore? To me, exploration allows the unexpected to come to the surface of our lives. Without exploration, we never learn or see anything new. I also have this constant feeling of wanting to know what exists around the corner. As a child, it seems your whole existence is all about exploring and being curious. I think that we cary some of that same drive throughout our lives as we get older. 

 

Why take risks in life? Without risks, growth is absent. To me, evolving as a human being and having a better understanding of the world can’t happen unless you take risks or unless you really step out of your comfort zone. 

 

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Where are you from? I grew up in a small mountain town in Colorado called Carbondale. It’s an outdoor hub surrounded by old ranch lands, rivers, forests and mountains. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. 

 

What is your 9-5?  I was never one to resonate very well with a 9-5 job. I’ve worked for myself the last 3 years and I can say it’s the best fit for me right now. I’m a full-time photographer. It’s amazing, but certainly has the challenges that comes with it. I often can’t remember what day it is, but maybe that is the point of it all… to just live life and experience every day as a new and exciting adventure. 

 

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When you were growing up what or who did you want to be? My dad was a musician and my mom was a music lover as well. I think when I picked up the guitar at the age of 12 I fantasized about being a rock star… as a lot of teenage boys do. I still play music, it’s in my blood and will be till the day I die. I record and do the occasional tour with my band. I don’t think I ever really had a firm grasp on what I wanted to really be in life, but I think that I have found my lane as a portrait and lifestyle photographer. 

 

 

 

Favorite place you've visited? There have been a lot of profound experiences in my life. Traveling has always been a part of them. I think that my experience in Israel was amazing. It had a lot of impact on me. The history is stark and complex, but the culture and people are beautiful. 

 

 

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Place you most desperately want to visit? I have always wanted to post up in a bungalow on the beach in a place like Fiji or Tahiti. I have had a fascination with surf/island culture since I was really young. So much of my family is from southern California, so the ocean has always captured my heart and soul in a lot of ways.

 


What is the single greatest moment of human humanity you've experienced while traveling? I’m going to circle back to my experience in Israel and say that it’s the greatest moment of humanity has been seeing and feeling the resiliency of that place. It’s a powerful area, with religion, history and humanity all wrapped up into a complex web. Germany was another really powerful experience. Seeing the concentration camps in person floored me. It’s wild thinking about the past while standing on the very ground it all those terrible events took place. 

 

 

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What has changed about you because of your travels? For me, traveling has expanded my view of the world. From that I feel I have become much more humble and modest. Maybe sometimes to a fault, but there are just so many amazing people and places in this world that it has forced me to be much more selfless and inspired as well. 

 

Who is the most dynamic and thought provoking person you've ever met? I think a lot about this actually, who has been the most thought provoking person I have encountered. My dad would definitely be that person. We have had challenging and deep conversations my whole life and he certainly has encouraged me to think of the world in various different ways. 

 

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If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why? I think I would have to say Edward Abbey. To some, he was an extremist in his views of the environment, but his passion for it and his love for nature is something I have resonated with throughout my life. His heart is in the southwestern desert as much of mine is as well. He is a deep thinker and adventurer and to see the world with him would be incredibly fascinating. 

 

What are your must haves for travel? Pack lite, don’t plan too much and say YES. I have been more of a YES person as I have gotten older and what not a better time to say YES then being far away from home. 

 

Give us a travel tip: In college, I did my senior internship in the Bahamas. I was part of a research team traveling around the islands and documenting the state of coral bleaching that was taking over the vast reefs surrounding the islands. It was pretty eye opening swimming around with the sea life and seeing the extent in which the reefs were dying. In the grand scheme of things it is a small and tiny area, but it was a direct way to become more aware to the state of our planet. 

 

 

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What would you say to someone who has never travelled before? 

I think that if we could learn more about each other and be open to new ways of looking at the world it would allow us all to improve as humans. There is just so much diversity on this planet both in body and mind to think selfishly.

 

I would definitely not preach to them that traveling is necessary, but I would encourage them to reach outside of their comfort zone. To me, that is the largest hurdle for someone who has never traveled. Things come easy here (your native country), it is what we know best, but, to insert yourself into a country where your native language isn’t spoken as the first language is awesome. It makes you very self aware. 

 

What is the single greatest lesson you've learned from someone that is different than you? This goes back to the diversity answer, but I think it has taught me more about being a humble human being. When you really focus on the idea that everyone experiences this life in their own individual way it makes you more self aware and accepting of others. 

 

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When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone. What did you learn from that lesson? I can't think of a particular moment where I felt super out of my comfort zone. I feel that traveling in general always has moments where you feel that. It's easy to feel overwhelmed or unsure of how to do something when you are in those situations. I think a lot of people can relate to that. I typically just take a step back and know that I will be ok and that I can figure it out. It goes back to our primal problem solving skills. You just kind of get through it! That is the biggest lesson, to trust you will be ok and that being uncomfortable is quite normal for a lot of people. You just have to take some breaths. 

 

What would you say to your former self? I would probably tell myself to take the money I would spend on meaningless things and put it towards International plane tickets.  

 

What gives you hope? Meeting genuinely nice people who care about others and our planet gives me the most hope. Seeing people really connected with their place, wether that is culture or environment is a beautiful thing and makes me feel encouraged that that will be passed on to the younger generations to come. To all the people dedicating their lives to sustainable farming, you may give me the most hope.

 

Where to next? As I have gotten older I have an ever increasing itch to see more of the world. I’m a sucker for cinema and connecting to storytelling. I want to see all these places that just have existed on paper or on the big screen. This fascination I have with period pieces and historical storytelling makes me want to be inserted into the places they exist. 

 

Is flannel always in season? I grew up in the mountains, so flannel will forever be a staple piece in my closet and truck. I probably wear flannel every 5 out of 7 days. It’s the best! 

 

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Finding the Happy || Our Guide to LA's Los Feliz

Ben Ashby

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Finding the Happy

Our Guide to LA's Los Feliz

 

Heath Stiltner takes us on a colorful walk through his favorite Los Angeles neighborhood—Los Feliz—to share a few of his top places to visit and things to see. With a rich Spanish-Mexican heritage and artistic influence Los Feliz is his favorite place to visit in LA when he wants that cool California vibe with a sense of history.

 


As I pulled on my olive green overalls, the strong smell of my first coffee of the day filled the small studio cottage my friend had offered to let me stay in for the week. I’d been to the City of Angels before, but had never stayed so long in this neighborhood—Los Feliz. With its lively and diverse small-town atmosphere it was hard not to feel right at home here. 

 

Bright and modern Spanish bungalows lined the street gently rolling through the neighborhood like old dirt roads recently paved, everywhere there was a feeling of the cool LA vibe version of a frontier town. You just can’t help but smile in Los Feliz, so a name which translates to “the happy” seems fitting—though it gets its name from its Spanish-Mexican colonial land grantee, Jose Vicente Feliz. Los Feliz is home to one of my favorite LA breakfast haunts, Sunset Junction Cafe. While I love the bright diner atmosphere of Sunset Junction, the thing that always brings me back is the amazing staff. (I live in Kentucky, and when I revisited the spot almost two months later they remembered me.) If you’re looking for that cinematic place where you can go work on your script and have amazing Eggs Benedict, this is your place. Sorry, I can’t guarantee James Franco will be sitting across from you, as well.

 

Full of coffee and eggs I go back out to explore the neighborhood, finding myself a comic nerd haven in Secret Headquarters, stopping for an American-made clothing fix with Buck Mason, and visiting several sets of hidden staircases for which Los Angeles is famous. Micheltorena & Prospect stairs are two such staircases in the Los Feliz neighborhood, Micheltorena is the more colorful of the two having been painted with hearts and rainbow colored risers. Los Feliz is a neighborhoods ideal for long strolls to discover hidden gems like these, and can be an amazing place for photographers looking to catch that authentic ‘sunny California’ vibe. 

 

With Griffith Park to its north, the Los Angeles River to the east, and Hollywood and the Hills to its south and west, Los Feliz is the neighborhood to visit when you want to see all that LA has to offer. In only one day you can walk from Alfred Coffee on the edge of Silver Lake, have breakfast at Sunset Junction, shop and browse your way down Sunset Boulevard, hit the vintage shops of Hollywood Boulevard, get the best view the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Park from the stunt Barnsdall Art Park property, and hike all the way over to Griffith Park itself. Los Feliz houses some of Los Angeles’ most famous architecture, and Barnsdall Art Park is no exception. Located at the crest of Olive Hill, Barnsdall Art Park is a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument that houses Hollyhock House designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and commissioned by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall as an arts & theater complex. If you want to touch a part of LA’s architectural history and get one of the city’s best view, I suggest visiting Barnsdall.

 

After spending much of my trip hiking the urban landscape, an escape to Griffith Park with my friend Keegan was a necessity. When you want a peaceful hike and an escape from the busy streets, Griffith Park is your haven. Donated to the City of Los Angeles by Griffith J. Griffith in 1896, the Park has some of the best sweeping views of downtown LA, the Pacific Ocean, and the Hollywood sign—as well as free tours of the observatory.

 

After a long day packed with adventure, one needs to reflect with good friends and food. Making my way back down to the valley below, I stop for dinner in my favorite little Italian restaurant, La Pergoletta. Tucked away just off Hillhurst Ave., this gem makes some of the best pasta I’ve ever had in LA—and I love carbs. Taking a seat at one of the red and white gingham covered cafe tables outside I begin to unravel my day. The many faces and places I’d met in just just a day, and how many more lie in waiting just down the street. After devouring a large bowl of lobster ravioli and more bread than I care to admit, I start my walk back to the small artist’s studio At my friend’s home that I have grown to call home in LA. The giant cacti on seem to grow in the moonlight as I walk down Hillhurst Ave. It’s hard to believe that one small neighborhood can hold so much magic and history, but it’s not hard to believe the neighborhood where, sitting in his uncle’s garage, Walt Disney drew his first sketch of the world-beloved Mickey Mouse. Los Feliz feels like the hometown of Los Angeles, and it’s a hometown where everyone is welcome.

 

 

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Dinosaur Coffee, Los Angeles.

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Dinosaur Coffee, Los Angeles

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Hache LA, Los Angeles.

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Alfred Coffee, Los Angeles.

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Secret Headquarters, Los Angeles.

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Secret Headquarters, Los Angeles.

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Sunset Junction, Los Angeles.

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Sunset Junction, Los Angeles.

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Hollyhock House, Barnsdall Art Park, Los Angeles.

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Buck Mason mobile, Los Angeles.

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Los Feliz, Los Angeles.

 

— @heathstiltner

Risks Lead to Lessons | Adventure with Yoni Gill

Ben Ashby

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YONI GILL

RISKS LEAD TO LESSONS

 

Paige first introduced me to Yoni a couple of years ago as we were driving across the US. Yoni, a recent college graduate was still in school in Nebraska. He met up with out group and took us to what I think was a bison range. I'm not super sure, nor am I sure we even saw any wildlife. It was cold, dark, and we were less than halfway across the US. For years I had assumed, like most Americas that Nebraska was simply a fly-over state. In that short chilly afternoon Yoni introduced us to the wide open beauty of the plaines. As a photographer Yoni travels the globe shooting portraits and weddings, for me, I was eager to learn more about how Yoni made it from Israel to Nebraska and how that altered his world view.....

 


 

Why do you adventure? It's in my blood, my father is a man of great adventure, I grew up listening to his stories of places he's been. When he met my mom (She met my dad while traveling the Sinai desert, while backpacking through Europe.), those adventures just doubled. They have boxes and boxes of photos they took from all of their travels, beautiful old school film. They can tell me the story of each photograph. That's probably the single most intense drive I have for adventuring and traveling.

 

Why do you explore? It’s the only time I ever truly feel like myself. I get restless easily, if I don't go on a trip often I start to lose my mind.

 

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Why take risks in life? In the words of Ash Ketchum, “nothing in life is a waste of time.” Plus risks lead to lessons.

 

Where are you from? I was born in Israel, I moved to Papillion, Nebraska when I was 10. My mom's side of the family is from western Nebraska, so they all lived there. That's why I went from the desert to the icy winters of the Midwest.

 

What is your 9-5? Is that slang for job? I photograph humans, my dog, and landscapes on occasion. I just finished my degree in advertising at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

When on a trip it's more like a 5-midnight, because you almost always want that sunrise shot?

 

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When you were growing up what or who did you want to be? I actually really wanted to be a mechanical engineer. I wanted to design car engines. My Dad is a private car dealer (that's a title hard to explain) I grew up around cars my whole life. Then I realized in college how terrible I was at Chemistry, that's how I ended up picking up photography.

 

Favorite place you've visited? There was this lake, outside Mammoth, California. Convict Lake, it's kinda famous. I went there with my friends Greg Balkin, and Taylor Burk. We stayed with another friend Josh Wray, who runs some advertising for mammoth. Anyway we woke up super early one morning and went out to this lake, in November of 2015. It was cold, like 6o, and Greg & Taylor needed to shoot for Oru Kayak. Being the only one not working for them, it was my job to be the guy in the kayak. I got in and almost fell in the lake, but I caught myself by plunging my right arm into the lake. Then I had to kayak for 25ish minutes with a freezing arm. I almost passed out getting back to the car. Not sure why but it's one of my most fond memories, maybe it's because I felt really courageous after that, or maybe it's because we went to a diner and I got chocolate chip pancakes.

 

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Place you most desperately want to visit? I NEED TO GO AFRICA. I went as a kid but I don't remember any of it. I have a huge passion for animals. The bigger the better, and my heart aches daily for the ivory poaching that happens on that continent. I want to photograph some rhinos and elephants before I can't.

 

What is the single greatest moment of human humanity you've experienced while traveling? In high school I was on a trip to Poland with 150 other Jewish teens from around the country, we had a holocaust survivor with us. Just the cutest tiniest lady named Trudy, we were walking through Majdanek (the most "put together" death camp still in existence). Anyway I hadn't gotten more than a hundred yards through this place, with Trudy by side when she grabs my hand. At first I thought she might need my support, then I realized I was the one crying my eyes out. The human heart is an exceptional piece of understanding.

 

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What has changed about you because of your travels? I feel that I grow a bit each time I get on a plane, I've learned most from meeting other people, and the farther away they are the more I seem to learn.

 

Who is the most dynamic and thought provoking person you've ever met? Dallas Clayton, he writes children's books.

 

If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why? This question really stumped me until I saw "or in present" I would love to go on a trip with Obama, which I know sounds like a super lame cop-out answer, but it's not for political reasons, I just think he would love to hangout with some elephants as much as I do.

 

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Must haves for travel? Stuff you should always pack?
Underwear. Everything else you can just buy, unless you don't have any money, then you should make sure you packed it. I always make a packing list, even if it's common sense stuff, you don't want to be at the airport and realize you forgot all of your t-shirts on the bed.

 

 

Give us some travel tips: You will learn to hate sitting in the back of the plane, not because of the comfort, but because of how long it takes to get off when you get somewhere you really want to go. Buy a car you can set up to sleep in comfortably. I suggest a Subaru Forester, mine's named Humphrey, he's really rad.

Buy a camera, even if you're not a photographer, you don't need to be, just take photos of everything you see, the market, the hotel, the car you're in, the views you see, the people you meet. We don't have perfect memories, we do forget, and those things you don't want to forget,

 

...trust me. Print the photos, keep them in a shoe box.

One day you might show these pictures to your kids.

 

Also be stupidly kind to the people who work in travel, you never know when you'll get an upgrade or a perk for being nice even when everything has gone wrong.

 

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Give us a story any kind of story from one of your trips that was impactful: It's okay to travel alone, even for a day, the world is not out to get you. Sometimes I get the most out of a trip when I take a day to explore alone. Recently I walked 13 miles through Seattle in one day and when I got to the space needle, I just sat there and soaked it all in. Then I got some tacos. - always get tacos. It doesn’t always have to be a whole day alone, if you're not like that. I got to Granby Colorado for a wedding weekend in August, I got there an hour before the sunset, and I knew I had to get some photos before I met up with everyone. I went on a trail run and ran out of light before I got to the meadow I was trying to get to, I thought it was going to be a total flop. On the drive back, I found a group of elk that just came off the mountain, they were so graceful, I stood out of the sunroof of my car and observed. I remembered to snag a picture before I left, it’s kinda blurry but I love it.

 

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Based on your travels what is the single most needed improvement for humanity to be stronger Make flights cheaper, make borders more transparent. We need to meet each other. More accessible tacos.

 

What would you say to someone who has never travelled before? Adventure isn't on top of a mountain, it's not the beautiful waterfalls or cliffs. It's everywhere, you've travelled before, I can almost guarantee it. You just didn't know you were.

 

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What is the single greatest lesson you've learned from someone that is different than you? How different they're not.

 

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When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that lesson? I can't sleep in tents, I was backpacking with my brother once in the mountains of Colorado, and we had a little incident with a moose, it's a fairly long story but it got me good, and now I can't sleep in tents. Put me in a tent and you'll have a very uncomfortable Yoni.

This might lead you to the question:
"How do you sleep when you camp then?" I don't, or I just sleep in my car.

The greatest lesson I've learned from this: you CAN overcome challenges, no matter how impossible they might seem, you just have to think out of the box, and accept some situations but you have to try first.

 

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What would you say to your former self? "Hey thanks for everything you tried to do, don't worry we figured it out, also one day you'll become lactose intolerant so please binge on ice cream, you can lose weight later"

 

What gives you hope? I'm a lame hopeless romantic, I've yet to meet a person that has made me completely lose hope in humanity. Then again, I haven’t met Trump in person yet.

 

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Where to next? California to Yeah Field Trip! After that some more domestic trips, then hopefully somewhere new.

 

Is flannel always in season? If it's not, you can always get flannel boxers and just not tell anyone you're wearing them.

@YoniLiveOnce || YoniGill.com

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A Certain Curiosity — Adventure with Cole Kiburz

Ben Ashby

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AN INTERVIEW WITH COLE KIBURZ

PHOTOGRAPHY BY RYAN NEAL CORDWELL

 

I've known LA based photographer and videographer Cole Kiburz for years now. I continually find myself longing to be on all of his adventures. I decided it was long past time to introduce him to you...

 


 

Why do you adventure? Adventuring is a great way to disrupt the status quo of your routine and creates conditions where possibilities for growth, self-discovery and evolution are abundant. 

 

Why do you explore? I’ve always had a certain curiosity that I’ve carried with me since childhood. I always have to know what’s just around the bend. 

 

Why take risks in life? No one has ever done anything of great significance or value without taking risks. I’ve learned as much (if not more) from failure than I have from success so I’m not really afraid any more of the ramifications of taking calculated risks. “Shoot for the stars, land on the moon”, etc.

 

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Where are you from? I’m from Arizona but spent some of my formative years living on a farm in Iowa. I wasn’t much of a fan at the time, but I do appreciate the lessons of the land and the work ethic that time instilled in me. Currently, I reside in Los Angeles, CA. 

 

What is your 9-5? For the last 6 years, I have worked as a freelance photographer, filmmaker and writer. 

 

When you were growing up what or who did you want to be? I told my mom when I was 5 that I wanted to be an environmentalist haha. I also always wanted to be an actor and I pursued music pretty aggressively for a while. 

 

Favorite place you've visited? That’s hard because different places can bring out different sides of ones personality. I’d say that Alaska was awe-inspiring with all its untamed beauty and adventure at every turn. India was the most visceral and culturally foreign place I’ve ever traveled to and I would certainly love the opportunity to go back.

 

Place you most desperately want to visit? I am really hoping to plan a safari to Africa to document some of the tragically endangered species there. I’d also love to visit the Maldives before climate change and rising sea levels overcome them. 

 

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What is the single greatest moment of humanity you've experienced while traveling? I think one of the best parts of traveling is the random people that you encounter along the way. The people in Costa Rica are incredibly kind, helpful and laid back (“Pura Vida” for those in the know). The best example of humanity I’ve probably witnessed is a tuk tuk driver in India named Torry who I now consider to be a brother. Torry was known in Agra as “Torry of the dogs” because he’d spend a good portion of all the money he made driving a tuk tuk to buy food for all the stray dogs. He’d find sick puppies in the street and nurture them back to health. We’d wake up at sunrise some mornings and go to temple and then go feed all sorts of animals from monkeys to chipmunks to birds. Torry is an angel on this earth I simply adore him.

 

What has changed about you because of your travels? I grew up in a very conservative household and I think that traveling broadens your horizons and shows you that, in the end, most people want the same things—to love and be loved and just to enjoy their lives and their families. I’ve also learned to be a better listener and more present in the moment.

 

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Who is the most dynamic and thought provoking person you've ever met?  I’ve been fortunate to work with some of my favorite musicians, artists and entertainers over the years. I don’t think I could choose one person, but I am very grateful that my work has put me in to some rooms I never could’ve imagined being in.

 

If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why? The first person that came to mind was John Muir but I think I’d have to go with Bob Dylan—there’d still be the poetic-ness to everything, but the campfire jam sessions would be out of control and he’d be able to teach me how to train hop which would be pretty cool!

 

What are your must haves for travel: @atlassupplyco backpack, @moment lenses, @ezraaurthur journal, @nisoloshoes boots, @brixton wide brim hat, @swellbottle, micron pens, pocket knife, headphones, Canon DSLR, and a guitar if possible otherwise a harmonica. 

 

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Give us a few travel tips: The road can be romantic and magical, but it can also be exhausting and unforgiving. Take care of your body the best you can. Pack zinc, a good multivitamin melatonin, and plenty of socks. A high-quality neck-pillow can be a worthwhile investment. Also, a good translator app and a Mophie battery pack can come in very handy. More abstractly, I’d strongly suggest writing in your journal as often as possible and, more specifically, write about the experiences as sensorially as possible (what did the village smell like? What sounds did you hear that were new or foreign? What flavor profiles did you experience for the first time?) These details can often be fleeting as if in a dream, but if captured, can help to ground you and recall more specific s of how a place made you feel

 

Give us a story from one of your trips: Most of my experiences on the road have been incredible and a large part of that is the people I have traveled with whom I have shared in both triumph and tragedy and a million laughs in between. That said, it’s important to really know who you’re traveling with and make sure that they are someone who will be able to go with the flow and not cause unneeded drama or stress. As the survivor of at least one trip where I did not account for this, trust me, it can change everything and profoundly affect your journey and spirit. 

 

Based on your travels what is the single most needed improvement for humanity to be stronger? We need to talk to each other more; more specifically, we need to listen to each other more. Many people are predisposition to fear what they don’t know and it’s rather unfortunate because I believe the majority of people are good. We need to remember that borders are artificial creations of man and that most often wars are fought to the benefit of the ruling class. We are all brothers and sisters sharing this planet; and it’s a planet that we should cherish and care for.

 

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What would you say to someone who has never travelled before? A lot of times people say to me “you’re so lucky to get to travel all the time” or “I wish I could travel like you do”. I want people to know that I don’t come from money and that, on my journey, I’ve encountered at least as much bad luck as good luck, but I made a conscious decision that traveling was of high priority to me and I worked hard to manifest a reality where it was possible. The hardest part of any journey is the first step, so if you’ve never traveled, pick a date and a place and just MAKE IT HAPPEN. Once you get going, you will be called to do it again and again. Traveling really isn’t that expensive if you are willing to sacrifice a little comfort for life-changing opportunities. Sleep in a hostel or in a tent. Buy food at grocery stores. A lot of countries are cheaper than America, focus on visiting places like that at first. If nothing else, hop in your car and drive a few hours on a day off and just explore somewhere you’ve never been!

 

What is the single greatest lesson you've learned from someone that is different than you? I had the incredible opportunity this year to spend a couple weeks with Tibetan Monks as they created a Sand Mandala. I learned from them the joy and peace that can be achieved through staying present and not having attachments. Life is transcendental and the only constant is change—embrace that as the truth. 

 

When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that lesson? Be it hot air-ballooning through the final-frontier or repelling down a 200ft water-fall in the rainforest, I have chosen to face my fears head-on in an attempt to conquer them. Anytime you do something you didn’t think you could, you become a fuller, more confident version of yourself. 

 

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What would you say to your former self? I’d tell myself to not speak or think in self-defeating terms. Our brains are funny machines that often create “shortcuts” in the way we think in order to arrive at the quickest answer. Because of this, if a parent or teacher told you that you weren’t good at something or that something isn’t possible, you may be repeating that same Iie to yourself without even realizing it. If you daydream about being something, it’s already in you to be that. If a secret passion sings in your soul, you have to listen and follow it. Time is precious, put in the work and get going—this is your one life, make it count!

 

What gives you hope? I think that the internet and the gift of its infinite access to knowledge and to each other is helping to wake a lot of people up to the ways of the world and is creating a more educated and active youth that is rejecting the blind materialism of the past; one that is anxious to live in a more compassionate, conscious world that is more of accepting of one another and more protective of the natural world we inhabit. 

 

Where to next? Hopefully Cuba with @ryannealcordwell.

 

Is flannel always in season? Being yourself is always in season.

 

@COLEPLAY

Thats What Traveling is All About! Meet John Thatcher

Ben Ashby

We've known photographer John Thatcher for years. We've been constantly inspired by his images of California and the life out west. We felt it was time to finally sit down and learn about the man behind the camera. 

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Why do you adventure? I adventure and explore so that I can prove to myself that more is out there than what I can see on a screen or magazine. I need to find out how finding these new places or trying new things feels. I already know what it looks like.


Why take risks in life? Life is about takings risks. Whats the point of living if you only live one way for your whole life?

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Where are you from? I'm from the San Francisco Bay Area.


What is your 9-5? I'm a fashion and lifestyle photographer for a day job and a songwriter for my non day job.

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When you were growing up what or who did you want to be? Growing up I wanted to be a professional skateboarder. I was pretty close to almost kind of sorta doing it.


What is the favorite place you've visited? My favorite place I've visited was the Saguaro Cactus Reserve. I love me some cacti.

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Place you most desperately want to visit? 

The place I want to visit the most is probably France. The whole country, but mostly the parts where there are wine and cheese.

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What is the single greatest moment of human humanity you've experienced while traveling? The single greatest moment of humanity that Ive ever experienced while traveling was in Denver when a waitress gave me and my girlfriend a free pancake because she knew we needed to try it. I almost cried. 
 


What has changed about you because of your travels? I think the thing that has changed most about me is how I feel about material things. Since traveling more, I care about that and less about having stuff. Stuff can be replaced, but experiences cannot.



 

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If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why? I would travel with John Muir or Ansel Adams for obvious reasons.

 


Give us a travel tip: Most essential travel tip is definitely ask for a hand check when going through airport security for your film. Don't let them x-ray it! EVER!
 


Give us a story: When you're traveling, you meet tons of different people and more importantly...dogs. I once was at a little camp near Yosemite and I met a man and his basset hound named Chopper. Years later a friend went to Japan and texted me a photo of a basset hound she met. I asked if it was Chopper and it was! What a crazy coincidence. Thats what traveling is all about!
 

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Based on your travels what is the single most needed improvement for humanity to be stronger? The most needed improvement for humanity is cheaper living. If more people were able to get out and do what makes them happy more often, then people would lead better lives and pass on their better moods to everyone else. For a lot of people, money is the route of their problems and if we fixed that, we could change the human experience. Also, puppies. People need more puppies.



What would you say to someone who has never travelled before? If you've never traveled before...go get in the car or on a plane now for no other reason than to just try something new. Its about the journey, not the destination. Go anywhere for any reason.

 


 

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What is the single greatest lesson you've learned from someone that is different than you? I've learned that everyone feels differently about everything. Just because you have the same experience as someone else, it doesn't mean you both feel the same. It's too easy to argue with someone over how they feel and you can never win that argument. The lesson is just accept other peoples feelings and move on.



When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that lesson? I never really feel out of my comfort zone. I have an ability to kind of adjust to any situation. I've never been to a third world country before. I think that would be hard for me. 
 

 

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What would you say to your former self? I would tell my former self to travel more often earlier. I thought I shouldn't travel because it was expensive and I could use that money for things that will last longer than a trip, so I never really went anywhere until a few years ago. I wish now that I had started when I was younger. 
 


What gives you hope? A sunrise and fresh morning gives me the most hope. New day and new possibilities.


 

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Where to next? Not sure where I'll go next. Hopefully France! Need some wine real bad.
 


Is flannel always in season? FLANNEL IS ALWAYS IN SEASON.

 

— John Thatcher

Fount Leather Goods

Ben Ashby

Heath recently sat down and was able to chat with Jackie and Phillip Watcher of FOUNT, a leather goods business based in Cleveland, Ohio to learn more about them and their brand.

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A Handmade Holiday

Ben Ashby

A Handmade Holiday

The History + Art Behind Vintage Valentines

BY JEN O'CONNOR || EARTH ANGELS STUDIOS

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Valentine’s Day is a decidedly handmade celebration. How can it not be when love is so personal, friendships so treasured, and the traditions of the holiday so old, that a simple love note penned from the hand seems a most apropos gesture of the heart?

 

At one point or another, we’ve all ventured to fashion a Valentine card. Bits of construction paper, the frill of a doily, markers, crayons…these are the things of school days’ crafting that have survived memory and time. They’re still present at the most technologically advanced of today’s grammar schools and likewise, in our habits of dashing off a love note festooned with a doodled “heart” or an “x” and an “o”…or two.

 

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We learned early on, the gesture of a simple card is perfect, if the sentiment is true. Valentine’s Day is best celebrated when we're given the excuse to express sweet feelings in a few, well-chosen words, or with the help of a more-clever writer’s imprinted ditty or eloquent dedication.

 

And while there are a legions of commercially produced Valentines onto which you can add that personal flourish, something given by hand – however simple, charms the recipient. Indeed since Valentine cards predate postal service by centuries, those most traditional among us still hand deliver cards – a gift in themselves -- with envelopes unsealed, simply tucked in as etiquette dictates all hand-delivered correspondence should be.

 

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A Peek at the Sweetest Holiday’s History

 

While there is little reliable information to confirm one Saint Valentine, the most common of histories describe him as a Roman priest imprisoned and killed for marrying Christian couples. That said, we have acknowledged February 14 as the feast day of “Saint Valentine” since the 1400s. This feast day has grown in fact and fable, history and tale, and has long been associated with the declaration of courtly love.

 

The first statements of love in honor of Saint Valentine’s Day, were said to be sung or recited and are referred to as poetical or amorous addresses. Handwritten notes emerged in the 1400s with the very first written Valentines attributed to the imprisoned Charles, Duke of Orleans, in 1415. During his time of confinement in the Tower of London, the besotted young Duke passed time writing romantic verses for his wife, far off in France. More than 60 of his heartfelt poems have survived and are preserved among the treasures of the British Museum.

 

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So how did Valentine greetings become tradition in a time when reading and writing, paper and pens were not the things for the common man or woman? Love finds a way.

 

The tradition of putting forth heartfelt sentiments continued as it could among Western Europeans and by the Eighteenth Century exchanging written Valentines was in vogue among the educated and wealthy, and an emerging tradition among those with less means.

 

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The San Francisco Guide to Nature

Ben Ashby

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When I travel I really want the best of all possible worlds to be right around me. I want nature, I want the city, and I want it to mix perfectly together. This was my first trip to San Francisco and I had no idea that this city would provide both worlds with great ease. The idea behind this trip was to spend three days in San Francisco. Our goal was to spend as much time as possible photographing the area. Before we arrived Paige had already made a list of all the places and spaces she wanted to visit. We broke those into three areas and decided to tackle one area a day. The following is our guide for three days in San Francisco. 

 

For the trip our home base was the Marker Hotel. It is just a few blocks from Union Square and has much of the city within walking distance. Their onsite parking made frequent in and out trips super easy.

 

 

Day One: The Golden Gate Bridge and North

 

We’ve all seen that opening to Full House. We’ve seen the car and the family going across the bridge, and as kids we all dreamt of the day we too would go across. That nostalgia is most certainly why the northern area had to be our first location.

 

This guide can really be done in any order,

we typically plan things around the position of the sun. 

 

Stops:

Golden Gate Bridge (Fort Point) — this Civil War era fort sits under the south side of the bridge. The area around it provides a perfect spot to get that under the bridge photo or a shot of Alcatraz in the distance.

 

Muir Woods — we were really surprised at the sheer beauty of this park. The redwoods, while only 2/3 the size of those found further inland are still massive and truly a sight to see. The wooden footbridges throughout the park create a wonderful aesthetic and harken back to days gone by. Do this park during the day as light is on short supply below the tree canopy.

 

Mount Tamalpais — go at sunset. This mount is one of the highest peaks in the bay area. Known for its golden hills and its views above the clouds and fog this is the best photo moment of your trip. While there we were surrounded by grazing deer and other wildlife. 

 

Fort Baker — is on the northern side of the bridge. It gives glorious shots from above the bridge looking into the bay. This spot is usually crowded. Plan enough time to hunt for parking. The view is worth the wait or hike. 

 

Kirby Cove — there is a swing that hangs over the water. It is the perfect photograph, but it requires a rather long and steep hike. We did not venture to this spot, but have heard it is worth the hike.

 

Point Bonita Lighthouse — the hours at this lighthouse are odd. Check the hours before you go. Once you’re there follow the audio walking tour to learn about the park and the lighthouse. It was a highlight of the short trip to the lighthouse. From here you get a really wide shot of the entire city, bridge, and bay. Hike up above the lighthouse for amazing views of the Pacific. 

 

 

Sadly we didn’t take any time for food stops while north of the city. We ended our day at the Cheesecake Factory. 

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Day Two: Inside San Fransisco

 

Sutro Bath Ruins — we started our day well before sunrise. Paige’s favorite spot of the trip was our sunrise at the ruins of the Sutro Baths. When built in the late 1800s it was the largest indoor pool complex in the world. The entire property burned in the 1960s and the ruins have since become iconic for their weathered concrete pools and amazing glassy reflections. The waves of the Pacific crash along the shoreline behind the ruins. Before you go educate yourself on the ruins. It was a fascinating story. If you go in the afternoon or evening eat at the historic Cliff House on the cliffs above the ruins.

 

Lands End — this park and area of the city is heavily wooded and sits along the coast. We stopped at two beaches to get views of the bridge in the distance. We also spotted cute sea life along the shore. Locals say Baker Beach is a great stop for views of the bridge.

 

Ferry Building — the perfect stop for breakfast or lunch. Vendor and food stalls line the hallways of this historic building. From here you can take a ferry across the bay for wonderful shots of the city. 

 

The Painted Ladies — the iconic park scene from the Full House opening comes to life high on a hill in the city. If you’re looking from the house with the red door that the Tanner’s lived in…you’ll find it three short blocks away.

 

 

Day Three: South of San Francisco 

 

For our final day we wanted to see the area south of the city so we would be closer to the airport. 

 

If time allows go to Big Sur. Before you go check on road conditions. If the weather and roads are good this is a must do drive while in central California. 

 

Bixby Canyon Bridge — a classic on Highway 1. Wide turn offs allow for sweeping views of the bridge as it crosses the cliffs of this historic highway.

 

Shark Fin Cove – sunrise at Shark Fin Cove is a must do. Rock formations out in the water look identical to a shark fin. The sand covered cove has a cave with crashing waves surrounding it. This is the spot to get your coastal pacific cliffs image. Stop for breakfast in the town of Davenport after you leave the beach.

 

Big Basin Redwoods State Park — surround yourself with hundreds of ancient redwoods as you take leisurely hikes. The roads into the park also allow for high vistas above the tree lines. 

 

 

Sadly we know we missed many other spots are the city and around Central California. When planning your trip to the region keep in mind that many of the roads are winding and steep. Speeds are slow, but with nature all around you, surely you’ll want to drive slow and take it all in. Cell service is rather spotty in most of the areas, even those just a short distance from the city. 

 

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Our Tips for Your Trip

 

1) Our biggest tip for visiting this area is pack plenty of water. While the city and the bay area typically has a cooler wetter climate, you’ll notice as soon as you leave the bay that the temperatures rise. Pack water and plenty of snacks. 

 

2) When renting a car keep in mind that you’ll most likely be staying within the city. Think compact. The majority of the roads to the parks are easily doable in a compact car. Small cars also allow for easier maneuvering around the tight switchbacks. 

 

3) Plan ahead. If Paige hadn’t been as well prepared with a list of all the places she wanted to see we wouldn’t have been able to plan as strategically to fit in as many stops as we did.

 

4) Slow down. After years of doing these overly fast photography trips I can assure you nothing is worse than rushing. While you may think you’re only in these places for the photographs, you want to enjoy your time there. Slow down and step away from the camera. Create an experience and a memory to go along with your photos. 

 

5) Make friends with locals. While looking at a map in a coffee shop a local beside us offered her recommendations for local restaurants and shoppings spots. Take their advice. Nothing is worse than a bad food experience. 

 

6) Leave the selfie stick at home. When you’re traveling please be aware that you aren’t alone. Don’t ruin others memories by parading around selfie sticks, live streaming, or droning your entire experience. Ask someone to snap a photo of you, or stick to images of nature. 

 


SPECIAL THANKS TO:  JDV HOTELS (THE MARKER) || BH PHOTO (WE USED A CANON 5D MARK IV) || MAKERS MARKET, AVIATE, STOCK MFG CO, AND BUCK MASON FOR CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES)

Additional thanks to: National Car Rental and Delta Airlines

 

The Art to Scone Making

Ben Ashby

THE ART OF SCONE MAKING


By: Debbie Anderson || The Scone Lady

Photography: Kimberly Taylor

 

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Walk into a tearoom in the UK and order a scone, and you will be given three options —plain, sultana (with golden raisins), or cheese.  Google “scones” here in the US, and you will find that the flavor options are limitless.  There are recipes for everything from the traditional plain (or cream) scone to a wide and creative variety including blueberry, cranberry, pumpkin, gingerbread and countless other flavors and combinations.  We Americans have taken the traditional British teatime treat and added our own unique twists and creativity to that simple little quick bread.

When I first started baking scones, I began by working my way through a book of scone recipes.  Each recipe was specific to a particular flavor of scone and seemed to require significantly different ingredients than the previous recipe.  It actually became fairly annoying to have to go on a search through the pantry to find out if I had all the ingredients needed to bake a particular flavor of scone.  Many, many of those early scone-baking sessions resulted in the neighborhood birds and squirrels enjoying a scone feast—for countless recipes resulted in dry and tasteless scones.  

 

 

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As I became more adept at scone baking, I began to understand that the secret to flavor variety was not going to be found in a cookbook of 100 different scone recipes.  Rather, the key was to find a good base (plain) scone recipe (or scone mix) and then learn how to adapt that scone into a multitude of flavors.  If the plain scone wasn’t good—then no amount of additions and toppings were going to improve its flavor.  

And so the quest began. I finally found a scone recipe which met all of my criteria for the perfect scone, and over time I learned how to change it to create distinctly different flavors.  Sometimes that adaptation was born of necessity—I can’t tell you how often I stood in front of the pantry frustrated that I was out of sugar—or chocolate chips—but I had brown sugar on hand, or canned pumpkin—and suddenly a new flavor was born.  It does help, I learned, to have completely honest and captive guinea pigs—in my case, my then-teenage children and their friends, who were always in and out of the house and more than willing to sample a new scone flavor. 

I have learned a few things over the years—and made a lot of mistakes as well.  I was convinced that there was no mistake anyone could make that I haven’t already made—until one of my customers (a Bed and Breakfast owner) confessed that she set her oven on fire one morning while baking strawberry scones (and sent her husband down the street for an emergency bakery run!).  

 

 

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Creating a different flavor of scone is really pretty simple—as long as you follow a few basic principles of baking.

Keep the total volume of liquid the same as what is called for by the recipe or mix directions For example—suppose you want to make a pumpkin flavor scone, and plan to add some pumpkin puree to the scone recipe.  The puree behaves like a liquid—so you will need to cut back on the liquid called for in the recipe, and replace that liquid with pumpkin puree.  If the recipe calls for 1C liquid, and you want to add 1/2C pumpkin puree, then spoon the ½ C of puree into your measuring cup and then bring the total volume up to 1C with the liquid called for in your recipe (usually cream/buttermilk/milk).  Stir to blend completely, and use when directed in the recipe.

Do not change the total amount of dry ingredients called for by the recipe.  Let’s way that your recipe uses 2C flour, and you want to add oats to the dough.  To do that, you will need to cut back the flour by the same WEIGHT as the oats that you add.  Dry ingredients are most accurately measured by weight, not by volume.  (an easy rule of thumb here—3C of flour weighs 1 pound).

Different ingredients get added at different stages in the scone making process.  You have three basic stages of scone making—measuring the dry ingredients into the bowl—cutting in the butter, and then blending in the liquids to create your dough.  In general, dried spices get added to the flour mix, before cutting in the butter.  Nuts and dried fruits can be added after the butter is cut in, but before the liquid is added.  Fresh or frozen fruits are best folded into the dough gently after the dough is made, but before you cut the scones (see side bar for specifics).  I learned this one the hard way—I was making blueberry scones for the first time, and put the berries into the bowl after the butter was cut in—then tried stirring in the buttermilk.  Immediately the berries began to crush and spread blue juice and goo throughout the dough.  That batch of scones has been immortalized in our family history as the day mom created Smurf scones!

 

 

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Some of the easiest ways to change the scone flavor include:

Swapping brown sugar or a combination of white and brown sugar for the granulated sugar usually indicated in the recipe. 

Adding dried fruits or nuts to the dough.  Classic is always a winner.  If you want to kick the results up a notch, toast the nuts before adding them to the flour and butter mixture.  It not only intensifies the flavor but it helps maintain the texture and crunch during the baking process.  

Enhance the flavor with spices, extracts, or citrus zests.  Spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg are natural add-ins, depending upon the flavor you are trying to produce.  Citrus zests will also flavor the dough, as well as enhance the flavor of many different fruits you might be choosing to add (think blueberry lemon or cranberry orange).  Dry spices can be added before the butter is cut in; zest should be added after cutting in the butter, but before adding the liquid.  If you are adding extracts, stir the extract into the liquid ingredients before adding them to the bowl.

Add fresh or frozen fruits to the dough.  If you are using frozen fruit, do NOT thaw the fruit before adding it to the dough.   In general, soft fruits and berries are best added gently by hand once the dough is completely formed, but before you cut the scones.  Roasted apples are an exception and can be added to the butter/flour mixture, before the liquid is added.  

Fruit or vegetable purees can be substituted for much of the liquid ingredients.  Remember to keep the total volume of liquid equal to the amount of liquid called for in the recipe—otherwise you will end up with a very soupy dough.  Substituting purees for some of the liquid ingredients works particularly well in recipes that call for cold butter to be cut into the flour mixture, and then a liquid such as buttermilk, milk, or cream to be added. I would be cautious about this substitution when there is no butter in your ingredient list.  In this case, the recipe likely calls for heavy cream, and the cream is then the sole source of fat for the baked scone.

 

 

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During the holiday season, I like to take my plain scones and dress them up with holiday flavors.  My current favorites include Cranberry Gorgonzola , Apple Ginger, and of course Pumpkin Spice.

 

Pumpkin Spice Scones—Using your favorite plain base scone recipe (see below if you are still searching for the perfect scone recipe) or mix, make the following additions/substitutions:

  1. Add 1T pumpkin pie spice to the dry ingredients, and stir to distribute evenly
  2. Cut in butter as directed
  3. Substitute half to 2/3 of the total liquid called for in the recipe with pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling!).  Blend the puree into the milk/cream/buttermilk, and then follow the recipe as directed to create your dough.
  4. Pat out to a thickness of ¾-1”, cut into desired shape.  Bake immediately or freeze dough for baking later.

* The baking time might be extended by a few minutes, since the pumpkin puree adds to the density of the dough.

Cranberry Gorgonzola Scones —These scones smell absolutely wonderful in the oven, and are a perfect addition to a lunch or supper of soup and salad.  Again, start with your favorite base recipe or mix.  

  1. Once the butter has been cut in, add 4-5 oz (a small container from the grocery store) crumbled gorgonzola cheese.  
  2. Add milk/cream/buttermilk as directed and form your dough.  
  3. Pat out the dough on a floured surface and add a generous handful of fresh or frozen cranberries to the top of the dough.  
  4. Fold the dough over onto itself 2-3 times (again, do not overwork or knead) and re-pat the dough to the desired thickness (I recommend ¾-1” thick). 
  5. Cut into desired shapes and bake immediately or freeze dough to bake later.

 

 

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Apple Ginger Scones—these are a little trickier to create, but are well worth the effort. 

You will need: 

  1. 1C roasted apple chunks (peel, core and dice 2-3 baking apples.  Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375 until fork tender—15-20 minutes).  Cool completely before using.)
  2. 1T Powdered Ginger
  3. 1/2C unsweetened applesauce
  4. Molasses (2T or so)
  5. 1/2t cinnamon
  6. 1/2t allspice
  7. Brown Sugar

(When I make these, I actually usually start with our (Victorian House Scones) Gingerbread Scone Mix.) 

If you are starting with a plain base recipe

  1. Substitute brown sugar for the white sugar.  
  2. Add 1 heaping T of powdered ginger, 1/2t cinnamon, and 1/2t allspice to the flour and other dry ingredients.  Stir to distribute spices evenly.
  3. Cut in the butter as directed by the recipe.  Add the cooled roasted apples to the mix and stir to distribute throughout the mixture.
  4. Blend together 2T molasses and 1/2C unsweetened applesauce, then bring up to 1C (or total volume) called for in the recipe.  Stir into the flour/apple/butter mixture to form the dough.  (if less total liquid is called for in the recipe, reduce the molasses and applesauce proportionately).

Turn out onto a floured board, pat to desired thickness, and cut into desired size and shape.  Bake immediately or freeze the dough to bake later.

 

 

 

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Scone Making Basics Sidebar

Use cold (or even frozen) butter when making scones.  A very easy way to cut in icy cold butter is to first grate it with a cheese grater.  Wrap it lightly and freeze for 15-20 minutes (while you assemble the rest of the ingredients).  When you are ready to use the butter, drop it into the bowl, and cut it in with a pastry cutter, or mixer or food processor.  It will go in very quickly, and leave perfect little nubbins of butter scattered throughout the mixture.

 

Handle the dough very minimally.  The less the dough is handled and kneaded, the lighter it will be.  I once saw a demonstration where the woman was incorporating the liquid into the butter/flour mixture with her hands—or rather, with just ONE hand.  When asked why, her comment was that this way she would have scones, not STONES.  Using both hands together would result in the dough being kneaded and overworked thus yielding tough and dry scones.

 

To add fresh or frozen fruit to the dough, pat the dough into a circle as if you were getting ready to cut your scones.  Put a generous handful of fruit such as blueberries on top of the dough.  Gently fold the dough over the fruit 2-3 times, and then gently re-form the circle.  This process will work the berries into the center of the dough.  Take care not to overwork or knead the dough.  Reform the circle and cut the scones into desired shape.  

 

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Links to some basic scone recipes or mixes

www.elmwoodinn.com/recipes/elmwood_scones.html  (offered with permission of Bruce and Shelly Richardson of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas)

www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/scones-recipe

(Each of the above recipes call for eggs.  Not all scone recipes need eggs—our mix uses no eggs, and buttermilk rather than heavy cream or half and half.)  Ultimately your favorite scone recipe or mix is going to be what you believe tastes the best!


Slow Cooker Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Ben Ashby

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If you're anything like me you have an irrational fear of burning chocolate. I found a solution for this by melting chocolate in a slow cooker. Basically you're creating a double boiler, but one that will melt your chocolate and allow you to work at your own pace. This winter I've been creating several treats with melted chocolate. Below is my way of melting chocolate in a slow cooker.

 

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

This technique works for any kind of treat you'd like to create using melted chocolate. 

Fill your slow cooker, I use a Kenmore 5 Quart Slow Cooker, with several inches of water. You will want it to go about 2/3's up the side of your bowl you'll use for melting. Turn your slow cooker to low or high, depending on how long you have to create your treats. 

Place your chocolate chips, chunks of bark melts, or whatever sort of chocolate you will be melting into a microwave safe bowl. Place the bowl into the water, making sure not to get any water inside  the bowl. Water in the bowl will cause the chocolate to be grainy. 

Allow your chocolate to slowly melt, uncovered. Stir on occasion to ensure even melting. 

Once the chocolate is fully melted dip your pretzels into the chocolate. Place on waxed paper to cool. If you'd like to sprinkle with sprinkles, do so while the chocolate is still hot. If you're in a hurry place in fridge or freezer to speed up the cooling and setting process. 

I found that one regular size bag of chocolate chips will cover around 40-50 pretzels. 

 

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Images created with Canon 5D Mark IV | Slow Cooker by Kenmore

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American Field Portraits

Ben Ashby

Last month Paige and I popped into American Field Brooklyn to do a natural light portrait series. The concept was inspired by a series GQ created at American Field a few years ago...but we decided to change it up a bit by incorporating natural light and natural elements we had sourced from various thrift and antique stores in Brooklyn.  

 

AMERICAN FIELD PORTRAITS

BY PAIGE DENKIN

 

AMERICAN FIELD PORTRAITS

BY BEN ASHBY

Make Canning Jar Snow Globes {with Tractor Supply Co.}

Ben Ashby

This Christmas I have been in an uber crafty mood. This is the first Christmas I've actually enjoyed in years. For some reason I wanted to challenge myself to make lots of budget friendly projects, decor pieces, gifts, and Christmas themed goodies. The following series is a grouping of projects I teamed up with Tractor Supply to create using items from their stores.

The challenge was to create the projects and have them use at least one item found at your local Tractor Supply. This is a series we will continue into 2018. 

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CANNING JAR SNOW GLOBES

 

The first project was creating these simple canning jar snow globes. The jars were an easy find in the canning section of Tractor Supply. These are the same jars you would use to do at home canning of fresh vegetables from your garden or farmers market. 

I decided to select a variety of sizes so I could create groupings, however since these jars come in multipacks, feel free to stick with them all being the same size. I would recommend the pint and quart jars, as the half pints are too short for most trees to fit in. 

 

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Materials:

Canning Jars (size is your preference) 

Hot Glue Gun 

Fake Snow

Twine, String, or Ribbon

Shop Cloths

Paint pens or Oil Based Sharpies 

Small Embellishments (we used bells and greenery) 

 

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Directions:

1) Take your jar and make sure it is clean. 

2) If you would like to draw designs or illustrations on your jar, now is the time to do so.

3) Using hot glue anchor your trees or figurines to the bottom of the jar. Place the glue on the tree or figurine then insert it into the jar.

4) Fill to the desired level with fake snow. You can also use epson salt for a more refined look.

5) Depending on how you'd like you're red shop cloth to look:

For a close cut, trace a circle around a jar lid on the shop cloth. The circle should be slightly larger than the lid of your jar. Cut and glue to the top of your lid. The ring will hide any rough edges.

For a more creative homespun look cut a liberal circle from the shop cloth. Place the lid and ring on the jar and tighten. Place the cloth over the top and tie down with ribbon or twine. 

To finish the jar simply embellish with festive adornments. We used hot glue to adhere them to the jar. 

Create trios and groupings for a festive filled moment. 

 

 

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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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