Exploring Boston!

When Liam expressed interest in enrolling in an enrichment program at MIT, my little nerdy heart just about burst at the seams. I had never been to MIT’s campus and was so excited to explore the campus and surrounding neighborhood. Typically when we plan on visiting a new place, we research and research all the interesting things to do so we get maximum vacation enjoyment. This time was different though. It felt odd dropping Liam off and just walking away. It felt a little too much like dropping him off for college. (I still have 4 years left, who hit the fast forward button?) So without much planning at all, we allowed ourselves the room and space to just wander around  just near Cambridge. We ventured into every building at MIT (what beautiful buildings, the light that comes through those tall windows was wondrous), ate at restaurants that looked interesting just from the window, and did an informal survey to determine the area’s best hot chocolate. Here are some photos from that weekend.

First it must be said that every good vacation must start off with some mandatory dancing on the bed. Finn takes this part quite to heart.boston1 boston2 My beautiful boys.boston3 boston4 boston5 boston6 boston7 Finn playing hide and seek in Killian Court(quite loudly, mind you. He’s great at the seeker part).boston8 boston9 boston10 Any restaurant that displays its menu in the shape of the period table is stellar in my book. Miracle of Science was an oasis for this new vegan in a sea of bacon.boston11 boston12 boston13 We even made time to visit one of Vader’s high school friends who now resides in Boston. While we bowled they talked, retold stories, and laughed. It’s so good to see friends. boston14 boston15

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Week 13 of the 52 Portrait Project

finn week 13 liam week 13 seamus week 13“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.”

Finn: This is what savasana looks like.
Liam: This is what semi-formal prep looks like.
Seamus: This is what Salvador Dali channeled through Seamus looks like.

This week marks a return to my 52 project. I’ve been photographing the boys but unfortunately sometimes they don’t all want to be photographed. I don’t push. I want this project to be fun and for the boys to enjoy it so on weeks when I can’t get them all, you may see some or none at all. Really grateful to be taking part in Jodi’s beautiful project.

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How to become a vegan overnight

greenshake
After a heart to heart talk with my doctor, where I expressed my desire to not be on lupus medication for the rest of my life as well as my desire to ‘feel normal’ again, she suggested a course of treatment that has proven successful for many patients with autoimmune diseases. She suggested eating a primarily plant based diet or what I call 95% vegan. Besides my many various vitamins, I am supposed to get most of my daily fuel from plant sources, but also avoiding processed foods. I don’t have to be crazy strict with the meat or dairy, I am allowed a 5% variance for things that can’t be avoided but essentially I am to adopt a vegan lifestyle. Studies have shown that a switch in diet such as this can sometimes ‘reboot’ a person’s immune system and provide a more stable level of energy. Sincerely, after feeling so drained and unlike myself for so long, her dietary recommendations seemed like such a simple solution and I gladly boarded the plant based lifestyle train and have not looked back. That appointment was exactly one month ago and that is how I became a vegan overnight.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. When I walked out of my doctor’s office that morning I admit that it seemed like a daunting task to tackle; just where do you begin? Luckily my doctor pointed me in the direction of some good vegan websites to help and I was off.  I went to my local health food store and just meandered through the aisles, putting things in my basket that looked appealing or things that I wanted to try. In went sprouted bread, chia seeds, and plant protein powder. I guess it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be because I was eating healthy before the reboot. I had been eating lean meats and vegetables for most meals but wouldn’t bat an eyelash at downing a donut (or three). It was definitely a shift in thinking but it wasn’t impossible and that has kept me positive and happy. So for those of you pondering such a lifestyle change, I give you these 3 helpful hints to make your transition to a plant based diet an easier one.
1. You don’t have to go all the way. (Sage advice for most situations.) While I did go cold turkey, leaving myself that 5% has been a lifesaver. If I am cooking for myself, it’s easy to choose all the right ingredients. It’s when I have to find lunch at a random restaurant that I find the 5% coming in to play. Allowing a bit of bacon in a sauce or knowing that there’s egg in a muffin gives me flexibility and I don’t feel like every restaurant is out to ensure that I never eat a delicious thing again.
2. Pinterest is your friend.
I think you already knew this but it bears repeating. There are some amazing people out there who are creating delicious vegan recipes and sharing them on the internet. Sadly I can’t discover them if I don’t know their URL. Pinterest is an amazing aggregator, compiling all that goodness under one neat little hashtag. #vegan I started a board on my Pinterest if you’re interested. I’ve placed vegan recipes on there, as well as ones that could be made vegan rather easily.
3. Embrace your weakness.
Everybody has one food that they just can’t live without, mine just happens to be chocolate croissants and a cup of coffee. (Ok, that’s two.) I gave up coffee but figured out pretty early that if I was to maintain my mental stability with this diet I was going to have to come up with a full repertoire of vegan sweets. You’ll have to figure out what foods bring you ultimate happiness and then find a vegan alternative. If rack of lamb happens to be your comfort food, not sure I have any suggestions. Email me though, I’d be happy to help you brainstorm.

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Road Trip: North Carolina

nc0Sometimes when winter is being particularly abusive a strange phenomenom takes place. Dedicated northerners start with whisperings of defecting. Very often it starts subtly with Facebook posts filled with beautiful photos of tropical destinations and the words “Can’t wait for summer!” But as the season stays cold and becomes unseasonably bitter, the talk turns a little more serious and discussion can be heard of friends who have moved further south and who are enjoying 60 degree weather and are currently wearing ‘light sweaters’ or worse yet, shorts. As the inches of snow pile high along sidewalks and driveways a direct correlation can be made to the amount of people you can talk to during the day who normally you would never speak to but all of a sudden are your ally against winter. Cries of “I’m done!” can be heard on the lips of most people sick of shoveling, weary drivers tired of winter roads, and surprisingly enough, children who will most likely be attending school until July due to all the snow day school closings. I admit, I was done with winter after the first snow storm in November and need no prodding to head south. This year as part of our goal to take 6 road trips to new places we’ve never visited before, we decided to head to North Carolina in February to enjoy their warm weather. Of course, we had no such luck. In fact, I think winter heard my elaborate plan to escape its grasp for a weekend while wearing a sundress and it jinxed me. North Carolina had an unheard of 3 winter snow storms prior to our arrival. The photos below are photographic proof that we wouldn’t let winter ruin our good times.

We started out with a trip to Durham, eating at Fishmongers (which we found from the ever insightful Design*Sponge City Guide, they have them for most cities), and then visiting the amazing hands-on Museum of Life and Science.nc1 nc2 nc3 nc4 nc5 nc6 week7_finn nc7Our long time friends, Jessica and Pat, live in North Carolina and truly this road trip was really just an excuse to visit them. Jess, to put it mildly, is hysterical. She was one of my bridesmaids and I love that she and I still continue to be friends to this day. Jess and Pat have great kids who showed us around their favorite Raleigh haunts. Jess makes me laugh, as you can tell.  I love that I don’t see her all that often and the jokes and stories fly around as though we still lived down the street from each other.nc8 nc9 nc10 nc11 nc12 nc13 nc14 nc18 nc15 nc16 nc17 nc19 nc27 nc20 nc21 nc22 nc23 nc24 nc25 nc26We climbed all over, did some park bench yoga, and got very sandy at Pullen Park. We ate some amazing food and had very delicious cocktails at Raleigh Times, and then meandered through the lovely streets of Raleigh before we wrapped up our day at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. It was nice to not have to wear our heavy winter coats and it was nicer even still to be in the company of good friends. This trip will keep my soul warm and happy for a long time.

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Our They Might Be Giants Adventure Book

s1More than a few years ago, when there were actually 4 members to the King clan instead of 5, also known as the time period BF (before Finn), we took the boys to see their first They Might Be Giants concert. (Actually I’m lying. We took them to see TMBG  when Seamus was 6 months and Liam was 3, but since they scarcely remember that concert, this concert is recorded as their first TMBG event they can remember.) Not wanting to miss a moment, I documented every delicious second. We came home, the photos got uploaded to my computer, I sighed and said “I’m going to make a book of that one day” and soon after, the photos were buried.  A few months ago, I was sifting through my hard drive and came upon these photos and became determined to do something about them. I had heard such beautiful things about Artifact Uprising’s photo books so I decided to give it a shot and make a short book about our adventure. And oh, how happy it has made us!! Since the book arrived last week, my older boys have adored pouring over the pages and marveling at how they looked ‘when they were little.’ Finn, on the other hand, wants to manhandle the pages and stare at all the confetti. He also seems to believe that the two Johns are part of our family, as are all the other children in the audience. We gladly accept this theory. Take a look at our beautiful extended family album. cover1 1cover sp1A few of my favorite pages.took the stage sp5 sp11 sp15After having gone through the process and actually having a book in my hands, I am very excited to sift through some old photo files and bring them to life. I love digital photography and the creativity it affords me but creating a book with words that paints a story that my boys can physically look through is just magic. I highly recommend a quick perusal of your hard drive. Inspiration may just strike you.

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Week 6 of 52: The 52 Portrait Project

finn week 6 liam week 6 seamus week6“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.”

Finn: Looking at all that snow. It’s pretty much an every day event. We’re all tired of it, except for Finn.
Liam: Sometimes with all this snow you have to improve and by improve I mean, a flashlight in a dark room. I really like the eerie glow.
Seamus: A rare smile.

This week I decided to play with the concept of profiles. Sometimes the kids cooperate, sometimes they don’t. I love the challenge of capturing them in their element. Really grateful to be taking part in Jodi’s beautiful project.

 

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Birthday Balloon Hallway

avabday9My friend Jodi has created a beautiful tradition at her house where she fills the hallway outside of her daughter’s bedroom with balloons the morning of her birthday. I’ve seen other people fill their children’s bedrooms with balloons on their birthdays as a surprise but had never much prescribed to idea for two reasons. 1. My kids are light sleepers and I’d get one balloon filled when they’d be rubbing their eyes and saying, “Hey, what gives?” Then there was always reason number 2. I did not want the mess of dealing with a room full of 50 balloons. I admit that, it’s not very lovey mama, it’s more practical mama, but it’s the truth. I think 50 balloons, then I think 50 balloons sat upon, then I think 50 balloon shards, then I think 100 ways for my baby to choke on balloons and then I say, forget it! So when I saw Jodi’s beautiful balloon hallway filled with helium mylar balloons I fell in love with it. The balloons get snuck in and placed in the hallway after little children have rested their sweet heads. The beautiful part of helium-filled mylar balloons is that they stay up for a long time and generally don’t pop into bits. I managed to get a few shots of the balloon hallway at the party with the just the birthday girl. It was actually a tough task because of just how many kids kept running down the hallway, touching all the strings. Even adults felt strangely compelled to walk down the hall with their arms outstretched. It was really a wonderful sight. I even surmise that one could set up a lovely Valentine balloon hallway doing something similar. Maybe your balloon trail will lead to Valentine’s treats? A special Valentine’s breakfast? So many wonderful possibilities!                                                                                                                                                                      avabday6 avabday5 avabday7avabday8
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Week 5 of 52: The 52 Portrait Project

liam_week5seamus_week5finn_week5“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.”                                                            
Liam: Finn was trying to make Liam laugh by tickling his toes. He succeeded.
Seamus: Games are always so much cooler when they’re on mama’s phone.
Finn: If I am practicing yoga and Finn is awake, I usually have a small partner. This is his best anjali mudra in siddhasana. I wonder what he’s thinking about.

This week I decided to go with stark images this week, playing with light and dark. Such fun taking part in Jodi’s beautiful project.

 

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Week 4 of 52: The 52 Portrait Project

liam week 4 seamus week 4 week 4 finn “A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014.”

Liam: Always intrepid.

Seamus: Sometimes quiet.

Finn: Never stationary.

Thank you for stopping by and checking in with my project. This week has been challenging because of all the snow we’ve been getting lately. It’s pushed me to think creatively and I’m so very glad to be involved in the project.

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A Dino-mite Valentine’s Class Card Idea

you rock dino rockI love Valentine’s Day. It is a wonderful combination of paper products, candy, and love. It’s dreamy.  Since Liam is a bit too old for the whole Valentine card exchange thing and Seamus & Finn are homeschooled this leaves me with the distinct pleasure of mailing Valentine’s to our friends and family. And since we all know that Valentine’s Day is really a made up holiday, you, my friends, are not bound by the confines of any person’s rules. Do you LOVE your mailperson? Give them a valentine!! Just ADORE your yoga teacher? Give her a valentine!! Really I see Valentine’s Day as a way to spread a little more cheer throughout the land.

This Valentine’s Day I am so ultra excited to partner with Pear Tree Greetings to bring you a fun and creative way to spread your Valentine’s love. They have a literal ton of different classroom cards to choose from, so it was pretty hard to decide. In the end, I let Finn do the picking. He is in love with all things dinosaur, so we chose their “You Rock!” card and a fun and messy project that every kid would love to get to accompany it. Here is a step by step guide on how to make your very own dinosaur rocks, complete with one tiny and very lovable dino pet.make your own dino rocksThis DIY starts with  a bag of miniature dinosaurs toys and 4 basic ingredients. 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of used coffee grounds, 1/2 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of coffee. Mix them together. This is the messy fun part.4 ingredients mixOnce it’s thoroughly mixed up, take a small clump and flatten it. Then take a mini dino and bury it into the dough. Use your fingers to make a dino burrito, if you will, and completely envelop him until he is nestled into his own dino rock. Once this is done place them on a piece of foil or parchment. If you have ample time, like a week, you can leave it out on your countertop and let it air dry. If you are pressed for time (which I’ve been known to do. No judging here.) throw those bad boys into the oven on the lowest setting you have and let it bake for a couple of hours. You know it’s done when the outside feels hardened. An artistic aside here: Once our rocks were dried, they had lightened to a grey color which I did not like. I rubbed a paper towel soaked in coffee over the top until I got the desired patina.patty burritorock like The best part of this whole project is the absolute joy on the kids faces when you tell them they can break open their rocks to find a real dinosaur inside. DISCLAIMER: This can get messy. If you don’t want to be ostracized by ALL the moms of the 3rd grade, write a small note suggesting they break open their rocks on a tabletop or on some newsprint. (Below are just a few pics of Finn rescuing his dino from the rock. He really loved this part.)opening rockbroken rockI bought little plastic cupcake boxes and baker’s twine from Amazon, but you can find these at Michael’s or AC Moore’s, rather inexpensively. These dinosaur rocks, along with the perfect card, will be an absolute hit. We can’t wait to mail ours out!rock in boxyou rock dino rock

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An Interview with Nicole Argento: Archived

nicoleargentoanjalimudraI am so very psyched to share today’s interview with you all today. Nicole has absolutely amazed me with her dazzling artistic endeavors since the day that I met her and she continues to do so today, some 20 years later. When I first started the Archived series I knew I wanted to feature people who were adventurous, daring, and truly inspiring. Nicole is all of those things. Join me as she shares her beautiful story of balance, motherhood, and honoring your art no matter what.
1. Tell me a little about you, your art background, and what you’ve been up to lately.Hi Tanya! I am so happy to finally be sitting down to do this interview,  (on the bus while commuting). It has been a busy few months. I just recently started working in magazines again after about an 10 year hiatus. Six months before my first son, Christian, was born  I left my position as Art Director at Glamour Magazine to become a full-time mom. I do not think at the time I realized how hard it would be to forgo my creative outlet, and instead be nursing and changing diapers. So after Micah, my second son, was born I needed to find an outlet. I completed a 200 hour yoga certification (something I have always wanted to do), started my own design company, Warrior Heart Studio (warriorheartstudio.com) and became the Design Director for an online start up called Nomad-Chic (nomad-chic.com) which I helped launch with the founder.
(Just a few of Nikki’s pieces that are my favorites below. These and so many more can be found at warriorheartstudio.com)

{ at the same time }: warriorheartstudio.com

{ at the same time }: warriorheartstudio.com

 

{ laugh at yourself }: warriorheartstudio.com

{ laugh at yourself }: warriorheartstudio.com

 

{ pink sky series }: warriorheartstudio.com

{ pink sky series }: warriorheartstudio.com

 

{ either way }: warriorheartstudio.com

{ either way }: warriorheartstudio.com

As you know, Tanya, but your readers might not, I went to school for Fine Arts with a concentration in Graphic Design. I have always loved magazines. Ever since I can remember I was carrying one around. I used to beg my mother in the grocery store aisle to buy me “just one more!” I am a dreamer and magazines were my escape, my window into another world. My first-ever “real” job out of college was an internship as an art assistant at Working Woman Magazine in 1994. Honestly, I had no idea what I wanted to do after I received my BFA, I just knew that I LOVED magazines. So without any help and very little knowledge about the industry, I went to the book store (no internet back then) and grabbed a stack of any and every magazine that looked interesting… and off the resumes went. I didn’t know it yet, but I was quite lucky. A chance meeting with a freelance graphic designer at that internship would end up landing me a job as Art Assistant at YM magazine. This job brought me to the next two at Cosmo and Glamour where I worked on extremely successful redesigns with a group of creative and talented designers and editors. Two amazing mentors for me were (and still are) Art Director, Henry Connell and Creative Director, Donald Robertson @donalddrawbertson. They really helped to shape my eye, the way I see design and visual content; and how that merges with telling stories through words, images, and pop culture.Merging all my worlds together has been challenging; my children who are always my top priority, my art, my job, projects, and of course yoga & meditation. I find myself squeezing things in when and where I can. Mediating on the bus, creating visual images while putting the kids to bed, and yoga on the weekends or early in the morning when everyone including the dog is still fast asleep. It’s definitely a juggling act! Nevertheless, I am happy to be working again and getting to interact with all these amazing and talented people at Conde Nast.

2. I love your instagram feed because of the art/yoga/zen feel to it. How did you come to find yoga and what part does it play in your life now?

{ recover uncover } : warriorheartstudio.com

{ recover uncover } : warriorheartstudio.com

Thank you SO much. I love creating original content for my Instagram feed. In many ways it is a meditation of sorts. It cleans out my brain! I am constantly being inspired by the culture around me from vintage fashion, movies, and music to nature, trees, and the sky. I like combining this and my intrigue of spirituality and mysticism together. Each inform the other in some way. Even the way I found yoga happened because of my love of the 60s and 70s. Believe it or not…I had an obsession with the movie LOVE STORY back in the early 90s(mostly for the fashion!) At the time, Ali McGraw had a yoga video out and I purchased it. I have always been an active person and someone who likes to delve into things that are on the edge. In the early 90s not many people were doing yoga and it seemed mysterious and intriguing to me. Unfortunately, Ali’s video did not sell me on yoga, but it made me even more curious. It was not until I came across a a set of Power Yoga videos by Bryan Kest that I was completely hooked. Shortly after this time, I moved to NYC and was working hardcore. I started voraciously taking yoga classes all over; Jivamukti and Laughing Lotus Yoga being my favorites. It was during this time that I discovered Ashtanga Yoga and started working with a private teacher, Kathleen Kierny Barney on the Primary Series. My own practice and teaching is what I consider a playful and creative vinyasa flow, which has been cultivated by my strong love for Ashtanga, my passion and love for creativity and music. I have completed workshops with Kathryn Budig (one of my faves), David Swenson, Bryan Kest, Seane Corn, Travis Eliot, and Kelly Morris. I also play the Harmonium (an indian musical instrument one chants along with) and last year I finished a course on Vedic Meditation with Charlie Knowles. I really love saturating myself in all areas of yoga, mysticism, and spirituality; the more I learn the better. For the past year on my Instagram feed each Monday, I post a quote with an image I create or curate, from one of my favorite gurus, a Buddhist Monk, Pema Chodron. I keep thinking I am going to change it up, but then I read another quote or passage by this amazing being and I just have to post it. The feedback I get from people makes it worth it each week!

3. How has your art evolved now that you are full-time mama and work full-time hours? Did motherhood change the direction of your art at all?

{the center of it}: warriorheartstudio.com

{the center of it}: warriorheartstudio.com

Hmmm…this is an interesting question. I think motherhood opened a window for me. Before my kids I don’t believe I had the capacity to think the way I do now or to love the way I love, which really has affected how I look at the world. Being a mother, a single mother especially, has taught me an immense amount about patience and compassion. Work stress just does not sit the same as it used to. It rolls off more easily. Maybe it was getting through two natural births (one being a waterbirth) and feeling like I accomplished something so incredible that it makes any other hurdle or heaviness seem like a hop, skip, or a featherweight. Perhaps it was learning how to stand on my own two feet again these past few years, while becoming a single mother. Or possibly, it is just because I am older and wiser and have ten more years experience of yoga and meditation under my belt that helps melt away the stress. It is probably a combination of all three, and while the past few years have been extremely hard, I have learned how to handle things I thought I could not, I have learned to sit with pain, heartbreak, and worry. Sit with it and feel it and not be afraid of it; not try to run from it. Pema Chodron’s words have helped a lot. I highly recommend her book “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. It is great for everyone and anyone…even if you have it all together. *wink*

4. Are there any projects that you are currently working on that you would like to share?

Nicole's work for Kjaer Weis

Nicole’s work for Kjaer Weis

 

surrender: Nicole's work for A Green Beauty

surrender: Nicole’s work for A Green Beauty

Currently, I am just getting settled in to my new position at Allure Magazine. Super stoked, as I am often inspired by beauty and fashion. This past August, I created visuals for a beauty line called Kjaer Weis. It is a visionary and forward thinking cosmetics line created by Danish born, New York based makeup artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis. A brand like this inspires me because it is recoginzes health and beauty equally. Along the same lines is a site called A Green Beauty (agreenbeauty.com), natural organic lifestyle magazine founded and edited by Mara Schiavetti, promoting sustainable living, holistic health and beauty. I just completed visual designs for their second issue. I am also a contributing designer for Pan and the Dream, a surrealist site about fashion, creative talent, and the rush of the new by a very talented husband and wife team stylist Natalie Agussol and photographer Paul Westlake. (panandthedream.tumblr.com/) I really look forward to working with them again in 2014! And of course last but certainly not least, the work I did with the founder and creator Diana Oberlander of Nomad-Chic (nomad-chic.comduring my tenure, I am still most proud of. Immersing myself in the launch of this site was a great learning experience. So much of what I learned there has informed the direction in which my visual art and design has gone.

Nicole's work for Pan and the Dream

Nicole’s work for Pan and the Dream

 

Nicole's work for Pan and the Dream

Nicole’s work for Pan and the Dream

I have received a lot of inquiries about prints of my work so that is also something I plan on getting to soon. But until then…you can find a daily dose of my Warrior Heart bohemian modern blend on my Instagram and tumblr, as well as, all of my daily curated images on Pinterest. <3

*Thank you so very much, Nikki, for sharing your story with us.
If you wish to keep up with Nikki’s gorgeous works of art on the daily, you can also find her here: http://www.pinterest.com/warriorheart/ and here: http://instagram.com/warriorheart

 

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