7.17.2014

On the Road: Wildsam Detroit Guide Launch

If a Wildsam field guide is absent from your library, you're doing something wrong. Seriously. Readers beware: you might develop a new obsession. #truth

It's not just the design aesthetic that makes these guides so special; no, it's the content between the binding that blow all other city guide books out of the water. I'm sorry, Lonely Planet, but these are infinitely cooler. In addition to the best places to eat, shop, see, and do, each guide offers a history of the city through clips of almanacs from decades past, and spotlights individuals in the community who evince its culture.

When I heard about the Detroit guide launch at a fancy USA-made watch retailer, I decided why not take a day trip, see the city, get a new copy, and meet the creator. It was pretty incredible.


Detroit as seen from Windsor, Ontario 

I'll admit I didn't know what to expect visiting Detroit. I purposely waited to buy the guide at the event and didn't do too much research because I knew I wanted to drive into Canada (my first visit), to get the best view of Detroit, and wouldn't have too much time. Everyone you talk to, it seems, will warn you of the dangers of the Motor City and display shock when you announce you plan to visit. Yes, issues of bankruptcy and high crime rates cause anyone to cringe, but it's a city on the mend with many hidden gems that are worth exploring. Plus, practicing safe travel always goes a long way. 

Honestly, Detroit itself was much like any other large city in the midwest: aging architecture, odd roundabouts, and history for miles. I loved it. Just driving by Comerica Park gave me chills. While I didn't get to see very much, I plan to make a nice weekend trip up sometime, Wildsam guide in hand.

Shinola, a Detroit-based, USA-made leather goods retailer, hosted the event and gave guests an opportunity to mingle, take in the finery of tanned leather watch bands and handsome bicycles, and meet the makers. 


One of each, please! 






For my literary friends: The Wildsam name was inspired by the novel East of Eden by Steinbeck.




The most memorable experience outside of meeting Taylor Bruce, the founder of the Wildsam project, was meeting Naomi Long Madgett. The 91-year-old, long-time Detroit resident, and poet laureate, had much to share during our brief conversation.

She loves Detroit (originally from Virginia) and has lived in the same house for 53 years. She explained to me the ways in which refrigerators used to be kept in the homes-- built-in, with motors powering them in the basement. Her brother, and confidante, was one of the distinguished Tuskegee Airmen during WWII and survived a POW camp. I can only imagine the changes she's seen in the city's landscape. If it weren't for her interview in the guide, I would never have heard her story, learned about her powerful work; it was truly an honor.

Wildsam doesn't simply suggest the best things to see and do, but also celebrates the diverse and beautiful individuals who inhabit a city, who make the city, who bring it alive. It's a refreshing look at travel and I'm embracing it completely.


*Wildsam currently only features cities in the United States (Austin, San Francisco, Nashville, and Detroit at present); however, a recent partnership with JCrew produced London neighborhood guides, so keep an eye out. **Not a sponsored post.


So, what are you waiting for? Support small business and grab a copy today!


6.19.2014

Summer is Here (Almost)





While it's technically not summer just yet, I sort of feel like we can act like it is when it's so hot out and you can kick it with your friends on the patio (and enjoy a cold brew or whatever you fancy). While summer makes me think of wondrous things like fruit pies, dining al fresco, sandy beaches, and sunshine FOR DAYS, I also consider it the best time to compile giant reading lists I'll never actually have the opportunity to tackle. A girl can dream...

Recently notified via a very pleasant email from Netgalley, I realized that I had a ton of galleys and few reviews. Sadly, it's not that I've read the majority of these titles and then failed to hold up my end of the bargain and not post. No, it's more than I've either hated the title OR never even glanced at it after being approved. Netgalley for me is like a kid in a candy store with absolutely NO adult supervision. It can't be helped. I click to request and request and request until I'm passed out in the corner from exhaustion.

In an effort to do good on my word, I'm going to seriously try and complete the latest titles that I've been so graciously granted access to. ARCs out my ears, people.

In no particular order, here are a few titles I hope to finish in the near future (many of these have release dates not too far into the future so you'll be seeing them soon):






 
 



1 How to Ruin a Queen by Jonathan Beckham

Another book about Marie Antionette and her diamonds. Look, I'm a sucker for this stuff so no judging. Plus, everyone needs a healthy dose of non-fiction, ok?

2 The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

Look, I actually didn't even stop to read what this one was about because I'll read anything Moyes writes. Yes, I'm guilty of getting a copy of One Plus One from Netgalley and not reviewing after finishing, but let's just say that it wasn't that great and leave it there. Otherwise, I've always enjoyed her other books so I'm just pretending I didn't read that particular title.

3 Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

It's been October since I've sat down to a good gothic tale. I find that most of my novels in this genre come from writers from decades/centuries past and I wanted to finally try something more modern. I can't say that this will be as good as classics by Wilkie or Poe, but I'm willing to give it a go. A man inherits a spooky mansion from a relative he's never heard of (cliche yes... bear with me) and all goes to hell after that. I'll let you know.

4 Dad by William Wharton

The title and the cover art got me here. Yeah, I judged a book by its cover. It happens. This family drama drew me in with its focus on the father as opposed to the mother (like so many I've read before). I love my father but we've always butted heads and I guess seeing another relationship (even if its fictional) is interesting in some way.

5 The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

Remember that time I went on and on about Makkai's first novel, The Borrower? No? Probably not because I loved it while everyone else gave it lukewarm reviews. Anyway, Makkai offers a tale of an ancient house that once thrived as a dwelling for an arts colony. Her last novel was pretty insightful and hilarious, so I'm hoping this is similar.

6 Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

Ah yes, Mr. Koch. Last year, his novel The Dinner (which I also received via Netgalley) was all the rage. People were waiting for the next Gone Girl and it fit the bill. In SHWSP, a doctor is faced with charges of malpractice after one his patients dies suddenly. While I wasn't blown away with his work, I was interested to give Koch another chance. I'm currently reading this and I'll say that it's already more disturbing than The Dinner ever was.  Ok, so the summary above seems tame, but Koch has a knack for creating characters that crawl under you skin and stay. Unless the conclusion just totally kills it, I'm already thinking this will surpass the previous novel.

That's it. A list of novels, in addition to what I'm reading for my local book group, I'll be desperately trying to complete before this beautiful season is over. Wish me luck!


What novels are you anticipating?


6.13.2014

Adventures in New York City

I recently took a short trip to New York City to celebrate the 30th birthday of one of my leading ladies. And while, in theory, seven women should be able to take the town hard, I found many of us were mostly content with wandering the streets snapping photos, enjoying slow meals, having some cocktails, and calling it a night early (that's not to say that some didn't stay out to witness the sunrise). I have to admit that I'm really trying to accept the fact that my early twenties are so far behind me. I guess it happens.. C'est la vie!

Now if I could only think of something to do for my own 30th this year! Sure, I might not do anything near as exciting as escaping to one of the busiest cities in the world, but I'm sure it'll be great all the same. Without further ado, here are some photos from my adventure...

*Scroll down to the bottom for spots I especially enjoyed on this mini-vacay.

foggy


Laura, sweet Laura.


Brooklyn 


 Midtown



the High Line





                                                    



Central Park






these street performers were KILLING it




The Frying Pan (or, a place for people who like to wear boat shoes and nautical-themed apparel when approaching a boat) (also, kinda fun)

For many of you, a list of all the best spots in NYC might be a no-brainer, but it had been ages since I had been and wanted to visit some places that might not be on everyone's must-see lists.

Some of my favorites included:

The Butcher's Daughter Juice Bar & Cafe
19 Kenmare Street, New York, NY, $$

Fresh vegan eats at a pretty affordable price for the city. We were able to sit outside, albeit underneath a scaffold for construction, which actually worked in our favor because it was raining. The restaurant itself might be the cutest place I've ever eaten, and the food was pretty incredible. Go! (The place next store has great ambiance if you're looking for a pre-show cocktail. The pop music from my teens that started halfway through our visit, however, was a little off-putting. Beware!)


The Coffee Shop Restaurant
29 Union Square West, New York, NY, $ - $$

I have some mixed feelings on this place. First, I really liked the atmosphere at the front of the house; however, our party was seated in the back and it was COMPLETELY different. It was a bit too loud to actually have any type of conversation, but the cocktails were A+ in my mind (try the passion fruit bellini). The food was so-so. I had a salad with some interesting toppings but nothing to write home about. All and all, I've heard great things but didn't really see it myself. Go for the drinks but maybe settle for a meal somewhere else. (This place is notably open 23 hours a day, so probably for the drunk crowd who can't really tell what food tastes like at that point anyway.)

Momofuku Milk Bar
Multiple Locations
15W 56th St, New York, NY (between 5th and 6th avenues), $

Momofuku Milk Bar was a stop on this trip no matter what happened. I actually ventured there by myself after strolling for hours at Chelsea Market and realizing I didn't really care about what everyone was looking at. I headed to the shop near our hotel, in Midtown, and picked up an assorted variety of freshly baked cookies to bring home (try blueberry and cream, compost cookie, cornflake marshmallow, and confetti). I'm also guilty of indulging in a cereal milk milkshake because where else are you going to find those? Bonus: my friends surprised the birthday girl with a cake from this place and it was TO DIE FOR. So moist and delicious. IF you are in New York, go, and try ALL THE COOKIES! P.S. The other half once had compost cookies shipped to me in Atlanta and I've been craving them ever since (easy peasy shipping, people). Momofuku is also famous for their noodle bar, so hit that up too. I wanted to try the ramen but just couldn't work it in.


We actually visited quite a number of little cafes in Brooklyn to enjoy a beverage and rest for a bit, but I didn't manage to document those places despite how pleasant they were. Darn! I can definitely say skip the Thai in the food halls at Chelsea Market, DO NOT order a specialty cocktail from the Beauty Bar, unless you enjoy drinking straight sugar (note: head towards the back with a beer to avoid the fumes of nail polish and you'll be rewarded with comfortable seating and prime people watching), and try to see a show at The Bowery Ballroom if you're hankering for live music. The space is beautiful, the sound is good, and drinks reasonable. Just make sure you like the band you're seeing or it'll be a long night.

I know I missed so many cool spots in the Big Apple, but it was a short trip and I really enjoyed spending time with my lady friends now that we're scattered all over the world (literally). Hope you can use some of this information to plan your own trip and maybe share some spots that you think should never be missed.

Bon Voyage!







5.08.2014

My New Love: StitchFix



If you haven't heard of Stitchfix* and have been looking for a little help in the wardrobe department, consider your prayers answered. Seriously. My lady friend, and new blogger, Allison (http://lifeastheyoungestseniorcitizen.blogspot.com/) mentioned getting a fix in the mail and loving it. A fix? Ummm.. I was curious as to what that was exactly. Fortunately, I knew it A) wasn't going to get me into any legal trouble and B) would be kickass because Allison knows about EVERYTHING cool. 

So what is it? Stitchfix is an online company that allows you to create a style profile and then have clothes shipped out to you based on your wants and needs. An individual stylist reviews your preferences and selects five items they believe will suit your figure and tastes. If you choose to purchase all five items, you get a rather generous discount of 25% off. There's a stylist fee, but it's not too much considering they're picking out some pretty lovely items for you to choose from.





My first fix! Isn't it fancy and fun?! 










They even provide a little styling guide on the different ways you could mix the fix up.


























How does it work? Once you've tried on the items, you have three days to decide and return. Stitchfix provides a prepaid shipping bag, so you simply throw the unwanted items in the bag and drop off for the mail carrier.

After you've decided which items didn't work for you, simply log online, and fill out the form available, really giving the stylists an idea of why the items didn't work and what you want to see more of. The items that you keep will also be listed, so you can add information about why you liked it and why you'd like to see more like it. From here, you can check out and pay for anything you kept. Easy peasy! You're not charged shipping costs to and from so it's really a steal with the small styling fee.

Anyway, I'm on my second fix and have a beautiful dress AND a sweet pair of jeans (yes, I actually kept jeans that I received in the mail that I didn't pick out myself) to show for it. Keep in mind that you might not LOVE everything you receive the first couple times because the world is full of shapes and sizes and it takes a bit to really get it perfect. However, I have to say that they've done a great job with the information I provided and even manage to find items I really love but might never have considered before. It's convenient, fun, and a great way to change up your style with a little help.

Tips for success:

1. Be honest about weight and height.
2. Provide the most detail you can in the character count allotted.
3. Link up to your Pinterest style board if you have one so stylists can review what you're into. 
4. Give it a shot or two. Who doesn't love receiving pretty mail?!

Like what you see? Use my referral code to receive your first fix:

https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3552309

Once you've received your fix, I'll get credit and you'll get your own code that can share with all your friends... so pass the awesome along! :)



*referral code included
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