Finding Solace


I haven’t written anything in the last few days…Which feels substantial, since I started this blog with the intent to publish a post five days a week.  I’m realizing that, perhaps, I’m not cut out for blogging every single day, because I can feel myself feeling mentally drained and pressured.  (Maybe publishing just a few times a week would be more realistic with my already busy schedule…?)  I’m going to keep riding things out, to decide what’s comfortable for me.

Anyways…  In other news, I’m (very) happy to report that my passion for illustration has been completely rekindled; and that I am currently updating my portfolio with new work!  (For example, above is a tiny sketch I was working on this evening, for an illustration series that I’m developing.  I took some of my inspiration, from the Saipua image that’s below.)   In the upcoming weeks, I will be unveiling new paintings and I have plans to open an online shop!  So, stay tuned for more details.


S&S Exploring… The National Infantry Museum

A few years ago, while visiting my mother and stepfather for Thanksgiving, I was introduced to The United States Army National Infantry Museum.  Opened in 2009 and located in Columbus, Georgia, the NIM tells the story of the US Army infantryman, from the American Revolution to Afghanistan. The museum houses artifacts from all eras of American history and contains interactive multimedia exhibits. The NIM emphasizes the values that define the infantryman, as well as the nation he protects: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.

Furthermore, the museum is also located near Fort Benning.  Infantry soldiers from Fort Benning were approached, during the construction of the museum, for the wartime-reenactment exhibit that’s shown below.  (No, the following images are not of actors – they’re models that were cast from actual soldiers. Amazing and lifelike, aren’t they?)

I was fascinated by the collection of artifacts and memorabilia, from the early 20th Century to the 1950s.  Not to mention, the lovely “Hall of Valor” – a breathtaking gallery that pays tribute to American Infantrymen who have received the Medal of Honor, the US’s highest award for bravery.  (The very last photo, depicts a portion of this hall.  Each of the pictured soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor; and, I should mention that I only captured a small portion of the dedication hall.  It’s a huge exhibition space.)

If you’d like to view all of the images from our visit, you can see the full gallery here.


Falling in Love with Woodworking

brooklyn_to_west_giveaway_02(Photography Credit for image above and below: Ariel Alasko)

Lately, I’ve been obsessing over the beauty and craftsmanship of woodworking. I’m in the process of researching various artisans, as I’d really like some quality art and/or furniture pieces in our home. Most recently, my favorite woodworkers have become Ariel Alasko and Blair Sligar of Hog Eat Hog.

Yesterday, I informed Hubby that I’d like to reach out to Ariel and speak about commissioning one of her large wood panels, for our living-room.  (I think he’s on-board with the idea; which makes me completely ecstatic!)

While I’d like to do a little more research on Hog Eat Hog, I’m feeling pretty compelled to reach out to Mr. Sligar, to learn more about the types of wood he works with; and to commission his services for the entryway table I’ve been dreaming of.

Oh yes… I need more of this in my life.


Welcome to Beer House


We don’t get many trick-or-treaters on our doorstep, for a few reasons. For one thing, our home isn’t very far from a busy(ish) intersection. For another, there aren’t many families on our street with small children. So, on Halloween-occasions when we DO hear a knock on our door (followed by hearing three familiar words), it’s an exciting moment.

For the first time, last night, we received a few visitors who were well into adulthood. (Which I fully support – Because I, too, adore Halloween. And I’m not the sort of person who believes that Halloween festivities should be reserved for kids.) When two “matured” trick-or-treaters knocked on our door, wearing amazingly detailed “Día de Muertos” costumes (that were, also, homemade), Hubby thought it was only right to say, “You both look amazing! Hey, can we offer you guys any beer, instead of candy?”.

The man, out of the costumed couple, started to look as if he was just told he’d won the lottery. “Are you serious!?”, he exclaimed.

“Sure! Wait just one moment!”, said Hubby, leaving and returning with two chilled bottles of Yuengling. The costumed couple was very appreciative, needless to say.

After they left, Hubby and I returned to our living room, where we were watching “Insidious” for the first time. (Which was awesome, by the way!) About thirty to forty-five minutes later, we heard another knock on our front door. When we opened the entryway this time, we were greeted by a new costumed couple. The man’s costume wasn’t impressive…I think he went dressed as a cockroach. The woman’s costume, however, was AMAZING. She was a winged devil, with these bat-like wings that would fully extend, as if she was about to lift into the sky and take flight. “You guys look incredible!”, I said. (Really, only referring to the woman’s costume.) With that, I extended a few pieces of fun-sized Milky Way candies into each of their bags.

About ten seconds of silence went by, with the couple staring down at my chocolatey offering. “Um…Thanks.”, said the winged lady. “So…Is this the house where we can get some free beer?”

To me, this was hilarious. Graciously, Hubby retreated back to our kitchen; and reemerged with a single bottle of the chilled drink. “Ok…”, he said. “But, this is our last bottle. So, you two are going to have to share it.”

The couple didn’t mind, that they’d have to share. They thanked us and went on their merry way.

Hubby and I just looked at each other. “Well, hon…”, said Hubby. “I think our job, here, is done for this year.” With that, we pulled the homemade “Trick-or-Treaters Welcome!” sign; and turned off the front porch light, as a signal that we were closed for business.


Life Imitating… The Others


Halloween is my favorite holiday, hands down.  (It has been, ever since I was a small child.)  I just love the feeling of possibility and magic, during this time of year.

When I’m in the mood to watch a film to enhance the “spirit” of this season (and, yes, I just went there), one of my first choices is The Others.  Set in 1945, Nicole Kidman stars as Grace, a devoutly religious mother of two ailing children who has moved with her family to a mansion on the English coast while awaiting her husband’s return from World War II, though he has been declared missing. Their children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), both suffer from a rare photosensitivity disease that renders them extremely vulnerable to sunlight, prompting Grace’s rule of having only one door open in the house at a time. When Anne begins claiming to see ghosts, Grace at first believes her newly arrived family of eccentric servants to be responsible, but chilling events and visions soon lead her to believe that something supernatural is indeed going on.

If you’ve never seen this movie before, I don’t want to spoil anything for you.  All I’ll say is that it makes me want to visit the English countryside; or, curl up in a comfy chair with a thrilling book and soft lighting.

That is, aside from putting me in the mood for a ghost-hunt…


  1. Medium Etched White and Gold Night Light Hurricane Lamp, Lamps Plus
  2. Churchill Leather Chair with Nailheads, Restoration Hardware
  3. Leather Monira Ankle Boots, Ralph Lauren Collection
  4. Silk Pleated Dress, Jil Sander Navy
  5. The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle
  6. Skyscape A-Line Wool Coat, Nanette Lepore

S&S Exploring… Coral Castle


Though I’m unable to recall the way that I was first introduced to Coral Castle, I can say (with 100% certainty) that I was instantly curious about this strange destination.  Nestled between the Florida Keys and Miami, Coral Castle is an astounding monument to one man’s determination. Often referred to as America’s Stonehenge, it has baffled scientists, engineers and scholars since its opening in 1923.

Coral Castle is a stone structure created by the Latvian American eccentric Edward Leedskalnin (1887–1951) north of the city of Homestead, Florida.  The structure comprises numerous large stones (mostly limestone formed from coral), each weighing several tons.  Local legend claims it was built single-handedly by Leedskalnin using reverse-magnetism and/or supernatural abilities to move and carve numerous stones weighing many tons.  (There are, also, legends of people viewing UFOs from the site.  Due to its scientifically accurate replication of the solar system.)  It’s estimated that 1,000 tons of coral rock were used in construction of the walls and towers, and an additional 100 tons of it were carved into furniture and art objects:

  • An obelisk he raised weighs 28 tons.
  • The wall surrounding Coral Castle stands 8 ft. tall and consists of large blocks each weighing several tons.
  • Large stone crescents are perched atop 20-ft.-high walls.
  • A 9-ton swinging gate that moves at the touch of a finger guards the eastern wall.
  • The largest rock on the property weighs an estimated 35 tons.
  • Some stones are twice the weight of the largest blocks in the Great Pyramid at Giza.


Above: Other tourists wander through Leedskalnin’s creation.  (By the way, there is nothing holding the blocks of stone together, other than the sheer force of gravity.  No mortar, nothing.  Isn’t that incredible?)


Above: The infamous crescent moon…With a colorful little visitor perched.




Above: A view of the “throne” that Leedskalnin carved.  There is almost no “actual” furniture on the property; only pieces fashioned out of the stone.


Above: My comrade for the day, and good friend, Marie.


Above: This is where Ed Leedskalnin lived, during the time in which Coral Castle was being constructed.  He lived pretty simply, with just the few personal belongings that you see here and as you continue below.



Working alone, Leedskalnin (who is pictured life-sized, above) labored for 20 years – from 1920 to 1940 – to build the home he originally called “Rock Gate Park” in Florida City. The story goes that he built it after being jilted by his fiancée, who changed her mind about marrying him because he was too old and too poor. After wandering around the U.S. and Canada for several years, Leedskalnin settled in Florida City for health reasons; he had been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

He began building his coral home in 1920. Then in 1936, when a planned new subdivision of homes threatened his privacy, Leedskalnin moved his entire home – and its many tons of coral – 10 miles to Homestead, where he completed it, and where it still stands as a tourist attraction.

How Leedskalnin managed this feat of engineering has remained a mystery all these years because, incredibly, no one saw him do it. A secretive man, Leedskalnin often worked at night by lantern light. And so there are no credible witnesses to how the small, frail man was able to move the huge blocks of rock. Even when he moved the entire structure to Homestead, neighbors saw the coral blocks being transported on a borrowed truck, but no one seems to know how Leedskalnin got them on and off the vehicle…

The Art of Tim Burton

One of the first artists ever to influence me is the incomparable Tim Burton. He influenced the way that I process images and visual storytelling, so early in my life that I didn’t even realize what was happening, as I was learning. (Most people don’t realize that he was an animator for Disney, before he became a renowned director. He contributed as a storyboard and concept artist to Disney’s The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron – which are two films that I loved, growing up.)

Though I’ve been less thrilled with most of TB’s film-projects, following (the stunning) Big Fish, I still consider myself a big fan.  And, when I heard that some of his closest friends and colleagues were collaborating to celebrate him, by publishing  a book of his (never-before published) artwork, my heart immediately started to pound!

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Hubby surprised me with the DELUXE EDITION, as a Christmas present.  (Not only that, we managed to snag it in time, to get it as a FIRST edition!)  Above, a bookplate that was signed by the man himself.

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Above: A special-edition lithograph, signed by the man himself.

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Above: An illustration drawn by Tim Burton, as a child.

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Above: Concept artwork of Catwoman and the Penguin, for Batman Returns. (I was obsessed with this version of Catwoman, growing up. In 1992, I was Catwoman for Halloween; and I still remember how awesome that costume was!)


Above: “People in line for Rocky Horror show.”

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My Own Meaningful Decision

JamieBeck_Journal(Photography Credit: Jamie Beck | Ann Street Studio)

Let me start by saying that this essay isn’t what I’d originally intended, when I began writing today.

After waiting five (yes…five) excruciating weeks for my iPhone 5s to arrive, my new baby – Siri – finally appeared yesterday.  I was going to tell you all about how much I love her; and how she’s already starting to make life a little more convenient.  But, that won’t be what I’ll share about, today.  Ultimately, I’d rather talk about something that’s meaningful.  (Does anyone really need another, “OMG, I got my iPhone!” update, anyways?)

Instead, I’d like to talk about a recent decision that I acted upon…  What lead to making it, why it’s meaningful, and the consequences that have followed.

Decisions are, generally, pretty simple things; right?  Each of us makes them, every day.  “What shirt will I wear today?” or “What will I have for breakfast?”…  (Or, even: “Do I WANT breakfast, today?”)  We decide on how to live out our days, with such ease that the choices become unconscious.  That is, until something presents itself that is so striking, you’re forced to pause and really think about how you should act.  How would you handle yourself, if someone accidentally spilled coffee on the shirt you’re wearing?  Or, if you were served breakfast with an insect in your meal, how would you react?  In moments like these, decisions have the potential to go from “ordinary” to “extraordinary”…whether we realize it or not.

For me, my typical nature is to be laid-back about things.  My philosophy is that incidents like “spilled coffee” or a “fly in my omelet” are accidental…not intentionally offensive.  Though it’s not in my spirit to behave assertively in accidental moments of disrespect, recently, I made a decision to take a stand.

What lead to making my decision?  (And – What exactly happened?)

Well, I’ll tell you…  In case you’re new to knowing me, I’m not just a blogger.  I, also, have a background in marketing; and I work for an organization that produces nationally-televised shows on a major TV network in America.  (One thing I haven’t mentioned, is that I’ve also been the Managing Editor of a women’s magazine…and that I’ve interviewed some notable personalities, such as Olivia Newton-John, Josie Bissett, and Denise Austin.)  I disclose these things here-and-now, not to toot my own horn or pat myself on the back; but, rather, to explain that I’m someone who (though I’m still relatively young, at 31 years old) has a degree of journalistic credibility.  In plain terms, I’m not new to writing articles or interviews.  True, I’m not someone who has been published through Conde Nast or Meredith; but, I do know my stuff.

Not long ago, I reached out to an entity and proposed writing an article/interview, for this very blog. (For personal and legal reasons, I will not disclose the identity of this entity.  I will only say it is an entity that is growing in popularity; but, is relatively new.)  Without spelling out more info than necessary, the Entity declined my “pitch”.  But, here’s the thing: the Entity was dismissive, toward my request.  No – the Entity acted dismissively, towards me.

Nobody likes feeling rejected.  (Especially, this little blogger/marketer/editor/suffragette.)

And, so, after taking some time to collect my thoughts…  I made the conscious decision to reach out to the Entity again…  This time, with a purpose to expose how things could have been handled differently.

Why is this meaningful?

Because, it’s been a great lesson in tolerance, professionalism, and tact.  I’m always learning about myself; and, through this experience, I discovered where I’m really willing to draw a line…and “not” be passively-tolerant.  I also learned that it’s really important to strive for “staying classy”, even in situations when you might feel emotional.

In my message to the Entity, I tried to strike a balance between being firm…but, also, being “kind”.  Like the imaginary server bringing me the imaginary fly in my (imaginary) omelet, the Entity wasn’t out to upset me.  Most likely, they were totally clueless that they’d done anything “wrong”.  Therefore, I positioned my message from a place of thoughtfulness, so that we both (myself and the Entity) could gain something from our exchange.

What have been the consequences?

It’s hard to tell, whether my memo had much impact on this entity.  Up to this point, the “E” hasn’t responded.  But, I think…no…I know…that the Entity got my message, loud and clear.  The “E” must have taken some of what I said to heart, because I’ve noticed a difference in the way that they interact with others who aren’t so different from myself.

So, do I have any regrets, in taking my stand?  No.  And, yes.

I’m proud of myself, for getting out of my comfort zone and directly expressing my views.  It wasn’t an easy decision to make, particularly because I’m a gigantic enthusiast of this entity.

On the other hand, I have potentially risked closing the door on any future opportunities, when it comes to working with the Entity down the road.  (Not happy about that.  If anything, it saddens me.)

In the end, I just have to tell myself that I did what I felt was the right thing to do.

My Favorite Space

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If someone were to ask me the question, “What would you say is your favorite space, in your home?”, my immediate response would be… My living-room.

At least, it’s certainly where I spend the most of my time, when I’m at home. Here are a few reasons why…

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It offers some of the best light, throughout our house. In the morning, the light pours into the dining room; but, it increasingly strengthens into the living room, throughout the rest of the day. By dusk, the room has a nice glow.

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For another thing, it houses our delicious television, along with my entire library of movies and TV shows. I haven’t even begun to talk about my fetish for movies or TV; so, if you’re new to knowing me, you have no idea of what kind of cinephile I am.

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And, It maintains a cozy and safe place for Bella (pictured above) and Caspian (not pictured), when we’re away.

Being my favorite space, it’s the room that’s received the most of my attention, when I focus on home-decoration. (Plus, it’s…literally…the first room you see, when you enter. So, it has to stay pretty!)

Unfortunately, I fear that too many neutral tones will result in a room that’s a bit drab; so, my plan is to get some colorful window treatments, for my sparse windows. (Something along the line of this, to really pop against the grey walls.)

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Additionally, I’m on a mission to find a console table, to be placed along the wall, under my Jim Datz print. The carved hummingbird sculpture that I bought on our recent trip to Jamaica (pictured above) would look sooo pretty, on a console like this beauty from West Elm.

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What are some of your thoughts? Share them with me, in the comments!