Dining & Wine
Adventures Under the Moroccan Sun
If you’re looking for your next getaway, look no further than Morocco. The amazing experience of traveling through the varied Moroccan landscape promises an adventure of unforgettable magnitude. Stepping off the plane and into the African sunshine you are met with kind and welcoming smiles. Having spent some time there myself, I was always surprised by the helpful and generous nature of the Moroccan people, who always seemed ready to lend a hand.
The project I directed there with the Landmarks Foundation was focused on the protection and restoration of an ancient synagogue in the town of Essaouira. The unique and rich culture of Morocco has always been a place where Jewish and Muslim people live in peace, and to this day many Jews return to visit their families, ancestral graves and old neighborhoods. This unique place of religious tolerance and respect is to me a symbol to be honored and learned from.
Not only is its people and culture beautiful, it is also aesthetically beautiful; it seemed everywhere I stayed there were endless roses. Roses in the fountains, scattered on your bed, vibrantly lining walkways, the smell was intoxicating. Also, the food was absolutely delicious, rich flavors masterfully combined and always presented with great artistic appeal.
One of the most amazing memories I have of Morocco is riding a glistening black Arabian stallion through the dunes along the coast of Essaouira. We came around a bend and there before us was the vast ocean and a seemingly immense red sun, slowly setting along the horizon. This image and the exhilarating feeling of exploration stand out in my mind and will always be one of the most magical moments of my life. I recommend everyone to have a look for themselves.
Article by Haley O'Neil
From Point Dume to the Point of Why We are Here
What is my PURPOSE? Many people ask themselves this question. Many never find the answer. It is an imperative of humanity to feel purposeful. Those that do not, often feel lost and discontent, which is a blessing by the way. It is this discomfort that forces us to seek the answer. However, due to fear, many people stop along the way. I emphatically state to you that I have not.
On Monday November 21st, I had one of the most LIFE CHANGING days of my life. It started in a parked car in Malibu, where I conducted my phone interview with Cindy Crawford about Women Empowerment. Mother to Mother, Business woman to Business woman, human to human, I listened to her story. I drove away with a "New" perspective on Women Empowerment. I learned from Cindy that a Woman's power comes from what sets her a part from men. There is a strength that comes from the decisions in our lives that take the well being of our families into consideration. There is a conviction when a woman chooses not to take a promotion or job, if it means that there will be less time with her children and partner. The fact that we worry as mothers about our children, in a way our husbands do not, when we travel for business, is a part of our nurturing nature as women. Cindy had me look at these decisions with new eyes. Her story taught me something about her, myself and all the women in the world.
After my interview, I met with 2008 CNN Hero of the Year, Marie Da Silva. We met in a small "French-like" cafe in Brentwood. Marie Da Silva is the founder of the Jacaranda Foundation and School, http://jacarandafoundation.org/. Started in 2002 in Marie's family home, the Jacaranda Foundation and School supports and educates the orphans of Malawi. The contrast between Brentwood and a rural village in Africa, forced us into the reality of our discussion. Working for years as a nanny for Ricki Lake, Marie saved her earnings and sent them home to Malawi. With this income, she returned to Malawi and slowly grew her foundation and school. However, it is still struggling. I told Marie to forget seeking the money. Instead, I told Marie to focus on increasing awareness about her work. I assured her that the money would come. People just need to learn about her work. Recently, she returned to the United States to support Ricki Lake in the Dancing with the Stars competition. Ricki Lake dedicated all the proceeds from her participation in Dancing with the Stars to the Jacaranda Foundation. The proceeds will be used to build a boarding school. Even with this generous donation from Ricki Lake, she says that it is still not enough. Marie added that even with being the 2008 CNN Hero of the year and the exposure via Dancing with the Stars, people still are not aware of what she is doing in Malawi. She said that the spotlight from being the 2008 CNN Hero of the year soon faded and that she felt as though she was forgotten. I understood. The public can be quick to forget, when distracted by the next big cause. However, she must not give up. She must keep spreading the word. She must continue to share her story. On that note, I ended our conversation by telling her that I would make it a point to share her story with as many people as possible.
Right after meeting with Marie, I zoomed down Santa Monica Boulevard and made my way through busy and congested Los Angeles on to glamorous Beverly Hills and ended up in the intimate and edgy West Hollywood. Little did I know, that it would be the setting for a full circle moment. I parked my car and walked into the Urban Zen store. Honestly, it was more of a Balinese retreat than a store. With a canopy of trees at the entrance, you felt as if you were walking into a Buddhist dream. Lit by candle and filtered sun light, all you felt was Zen in this Urban jungle. Funny thing, I almost did not make it there. I was so tired after staying up all night thinking of last minute questions for my interview with Cindy that I was inclined to go home and rest with my son and husband, but something told me in my gut that it was in my best interest to go. So, I did. The minute I walked in, it was like meeting family. I first met Jerome from France. Then I met his wife Lisa. Lisa works at the Urban Zen retail store with her husband Jerome. I would consider her more the curator than anything else. She has worked for Donna Karan for over 25 years. She styles and directs all of Donna's fashion shows. Now a mother of two, she and Jerome have settled in Pacific Palisades, after years of traveling the world. After drinking Green tea and eating healthy nibbles, I had the opportunity to learn first hand what Urban Zen was all about. One of the ways was hearing Lisa's stories of meeting Donna in San Francisco during the early years and being taken under Donna's wing. Before she knew it, Lisa was in Paris and New York City, helping to build a brand that is now globally recognized. Lisa went on to explain how she too, like so many women, made the choice to slow down and have a family. Then I had the opportunity to learn about Urban Zen through the clothing. I tell you now that I could live in these clothes. Donna takes all aspects of being a woman into account, when designing her Urban Zen collection. The fabric clings in all right places and not in the places it shouldn't. As a woman that sends business emails, oversees the editing of a magazine, walks her 7 year old to school , makes alone time with the hubby and manages a home all in what seems to be one breath, I honestly believe that these clothes gave me the opportunity to breathe in every sense of the word. Finally, through Donna Karan's words, I was able to understand the full meaning behind Urban Zen. Urban Zen marries philanthropy and commerce. The Urban Zen retail stores support the Urban Zen Foundation. "The Urban Zen Foundation creates, connects and collaborates to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of well-being, preserving cultures and empowering children in mind, body and spirit." Donna saw me in her clothing and styled me so everything looked just right. I told her that I was committed to sharing the story of Urban Zen and supporting her expansion on the West Coast. She said, "Let's do it, Let's collaborate!". She introduced me to everyone on her team at the informative gathering. After telling her about my work, Donna pulled me aside and said, "You are a Vision on Light...You are a Visionary!" I was overwhelmed. Talk about full circle. I love FASHION, Always have! I started off walking the runway in my living room with a blanket on my head. With my magazine, I incorporated my love for FASHION with my passion to increase awareness about Sustainability and Global Advocacy issues. Then, here I am, having Donna Karan, a Fashion Icon, telling me that I am a VISIONARY! It was more than I could ever imagine. It was then that I realized that I had not found my purpose, my purpose had found me.
It is my purpose to share the stories of people fulfilling theirs. I know this, from a place I can not explain. Remain steadfast, for your journey may take you to unknown territory. Although you may be afraid, continue to follow your instincts, because it is your intuition that will align you with your purpose.
A Week to Remember in La La Land
Well, we finally moved into our house in Malibu. Around the corner from Sean Penn and Barbra Streisand, we are living in the land of the STARS. However, honestly, I am more interested in "celebrity" being used as a vehicle for CHANGE, as opposed to the personal lives of celebrities. Over the week, one thing repeatedly reinforced was that celebrities are just normal people with families, love, passion and heartache. They are just like the rest of us. The only difference is that with "celebrity" comes the power of influence. This week, I met many celebrities committed to using their positions of influence to create a beneficial global impact! During this week, my first one on one introduction to this first hand was at The Annenberg Space for Photography. It continued until the end at the Hollywood Palladium.
Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
At 5:00pm PST, I was heading into Los Angeles, CA from Malibu, CA. If you know L.A., you know to AVOID driving into L.A. during commuter times at all costs. However, I had managed to score a ticket for this event by the skin of my teeth. So, there was no way that I was NOT going. You see, I have been following Charlize Theron's twitter account and wrote about her and her foundation, Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, in my article titled Ethical Knitwear. CTAOP is committed to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS and sexual violence amongst Africa's youth through preventive education. It was via her twitter account, @CharlizeAfrica, that I heard of the lecture by Photographer Randall Slavin being held at The Annenberg Space for Photography in L.A. At this lecture Randall Slavin was to discuss the stories behind the 24 Celebrity photos that he shot for a silent auction and exhibit called REACH. The proceeds from REACH go to support CTAOP and their work in Africa.
When I finally arrived, I felt the familiar sense of "There I go again, into an event knowing no one and feeling nervous about what I should do or say." As always in these situations, something took over and I was fine. Iyanla Vanzant refers to it as 'Calling the Queen to the Throne to mind the kingdom.' In this instance, "The Queen" took control and the nervous woman stepped back into the background. The lecture was AMAZING! Randall Slavin's funny anecdotes about his shoots with President Bill Clinton; Tom Hanks; the late Dennis Hopper and more, kept the audience entertained and engaged. Although Charlize Theron introduced Randall Slavin, a dear friend for over 20 years, at the beginning of the lecture, we did not see her again until the Q&A at the end. I knew this was my moment to make my impact. So, as soon as questioning opened up, I raised my hand. The lovely woman that was managing the questions gave me a nod of recognition that she saw my hand. Let me tell you, as my turn approached, the nervous woman returned, but I kicked her to the back again. Then, the microphone appeared before my face. It was my moment. The Queen took to the throne again. I asked, 'How CTAOP and Mr. Slavin were going to help expand people's perception of Africa as more than just a setting for Famine, Dictators and Civil War?' Growing up in the U.S. as a Ugandan American with parents that fled Idi Amin's regime in the 70s, I was always bothered by the narrow depiction of Africa and of her individual countries. In response, Charlize stated how she agreed with me, but that we could not forget that Africa was at a crisis point. She added that as an African, she was committed to dealing with the immediacy of this crisis. After the Q&A, I was able to speak with Charlize and her mother directly. During my question, I mentioned that I had recently lost a cousin to AIDS in Uganda. They offered their sympathy and condolences. They were both gracious and passionate when they told me of their experiences in Africa. As I left The Annenberg Space of Photography, I found out Randall Slavin's REACH exhibit and silent auction was to be held there the following night. As soon as I got back home, I tweeted both Randall Slavin and Chalize Theron about attending the event. Randall Slavin replied with an invite hyperlink for the event. It was a momentous start to an unforgettable week.
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
So here we go! It was the night of the Exhibit. After digging through boxes and suitcases for a dress and shoes, I found my outfit! Make-up on and hair "did", I headed back out to L.A.. However, it wasn't that smooth. My husband Jamie had a business dinner that was running long and I still had my 7 year old son, Jediah. So I knew that I would be late. Oh well, that's the life of a working mother. Well, I made an arrangement with my husband for me to drop off Jed at his business dinner. Then, he took Jed home and I continued on to L.A.. Complex...I know, but we are new to the area and we did not know anyone that we felt comfortable leaving him with...yet! You got to make it work! So, off I went. Upon arrival, I saw someone that I recognized. Even though I was 40 minutes late, it appeared I had ended up arriving just on time. As I approached the Step and Repeat (you know the area on the red carpet where people get photographed with the logo of related organizations and sponsors posted on the background), I saw Ciara just arriving and Charlize being interviewed. Talk about lights, camera, action! It was Glitzy and Glamorous. Other than Charlize, of course, I saw Zach Braff from the hit comedy T.V. show "Scrubs", R&B vocal artist Ciara and comedian Sara Silverman to name a few. I spoke directly with Sarah Silverman at the bar. I went on to tell her how beautiful her photo was and the interesting story behind it, as explained by Randall Slavin himself. With a quick hello and congratulations to both Charlize and Randall, I made it out side and met two wonderful women. The three of us hung out and talked until the end of the night. I could tell you more, but I won't!
Not only was this event star studded, it was all for the greater good of others. This is exactly what GEOF magazine is about! GEOF Magazine is about Living Glamorously and Thinking Globally! When I say "Living Glamorously", I'm not talking about flaunting a lifestyle of excess; I am talking about living your life to its fullest. Living Glamorously can look very different depending on the individual. However from our perspective, Living Glamorously means you are putting your BEST self forward and walking in the light. Coupled with a global perspective, living glamorously allows you the opportunity to use your light to enhance the light of others. I believe that Charlize Theron is doing just that through her work as an actress and as an Activist!
Friday, October 14th, 2011
Well the celebrity train kept on chugging! With a confirmation email from the Press Office of The Clinton Foundation that provided me and my crew with press credentials for the Clinton Foundation's "Decade of Difference" Gala, Joann (my photographer and friend) and I headed off to the Hollywood Palladium. Joann was irreplaceable! She was snapping away as I interviewed and took photo opportunities with celebrity after celebrity. At the Gala to celebrate 10 years of Global Contributions by the Clinton Foundation and President William J. Clinton's 65th Birthday, celebrities arrived on the 'Blue" Carpet, such as Fergie (wearing Georges Chakra and fierce Christian Louboutins) and Josh Duhamel (wearing Alexander McQueen), Michelle Kwan, Tracy Anderson, Rachel Zoe (wearing vintage Bill Blass), Julia Ormond, Maria Bello, Zach Braff (seen for the second time this week), Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy, Stevie Nicks, Jessica Alba and Cash Warren, Mira Sorvino, Genna Davis, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and girlfriend Lu Parker, sisters Roseanna and Patricia Arquette (wearing Dolce & Gabbana), Jayni and Chevy Chase, Sugar Ray Leonard, Julie Benz, Petra Nemcova (wearing Marchesa) and Sofia Vergara. When asked about their opinion on how The Clinton Foundation has contributed to the Global Community, the following celebrities shared their thoughts:
Tracy Anderson said, " I do a lot for Domestic Violence, but my husband is really active with the Clinton Foundation...the work with the Clinton Foundation is really gathering young people, smart minds together and creating really great solutions!...I understand the value of the celebrity platform. I did not create the (Tracy Anderson) method for just celebrities...But what is so nice with having had so many celebrities doing it over the years is that I can really reach so many women to help, affect and change their lives on so many levels... and for President Clinton, to have that many voices behind you, it works!" Then Tracy went on to tell me that she was in her first trimester of pregnancy, therefore she would not be going to the "Decade of Difference" Concert the following night.
First, I asked Rachel Zoe about her newborn son. She said, “He’s amazing. He’s absolutely extraordinary; it’s hard to leave him at night!” In respects to President Clinton, she added, "I think he has made tremendous contributions in everything from environment to AIDS and health to jobs and everything. I think the list just goes on and on!"
After I asked him to distinguish one contribution as the most important, Chevy Chase said, (in a very cheeky manner) "I don't know...There are so many things... (Like) standing behind Haiti...It just doesn't stop!" I loved the delivery of his answer, because you could feel his humorous nature, even though he was being very sincere and serious. Can I add, Chevy Chase was holding his wife's hand throughout the entire interview. You could feel the LOVE!!!
The Round Up: New York Fashion Week September 2011 that Almost Wasn't
On Friday, September 9th, New York Fashion Week did not seem to be a possibility. On Sunday, September 11th, 2011, I went from LAX to LGA and landed at the EDUN Pioneers Project Event. With Performance Artist, co-founder of Peace&Happiness and lifelong friend Lalibella at my side, I had an AMAZING conversation about Uganda with Ali Hewson (Co-founder of EDUN and Bono's wife) and Gary Jermyn (Director for EDUN). Not only did this happen on the first night of my trip to NYC for Fashion Week, let me tell you, this set the tone for the rest of the week. You ask, how did I get to New York Fashion Week? I got there on a wing, a PRAYER and a lot of FAITH!
So lets back up a minute. Over the past few weeks, I have been rallying all my resources to get an AMAZING young man and his mother to New York Fashion Week. So who is this young man? I can not tell you his name, but I can tell you that at 17 years old, he uses the strength gained from overcoming the lure of gangs and self destructive behavior to mentor children at his local Boys and Girls Club. On August 25th 2011 in Florence, SC, I attended an event honoring Darla Moore for her philanthropic work in the local community. At this event, I was told his story by another INSPIRING individual, the director of the B&G Club where this young man attends. You see, along with being Editorial Director of G.E.O.F., I am also the founder of The Red Cardinal Foundation (TRCF). TRCF uses the Arts as a vehicle to break the cycle of poverty. However, you won't see any popsicle and glue sticks at TRCF. We raise the bar by providing the opportunity for children living in poverty to experience the Arts at the HIGHEST level of EXCELLENCE. After hearing how passionate this young man was about the Fashion Arts and Painting, I felt so empowered to help in anyway that I could. However, it was not until I heard that this young man lost his father just months prior to hearing his story that I was moved into action. At that moment, I told the Director that I was going to help this young man get to Fashion Week. Now I had not even been to Fashion week and it was my lifelong dream to attend, but at this point, I was not concerned about what I wanted. I focused on getting him there for an experience that I knew had the power to change his life for the better.
I called and emailed everyone that I knew. I was determined to get the travel, accommodation and expenses paid for this young man and his mother. Living in poverty, I knew that this child needed to see Fashion at its BEST, where else to take him than New York Fashion Week. Considering he lost his father and his mother lost a husband, I saw this as an opportunity to not just help him, but also give the gift of this experience to his mother. Well after weeks of calls and emails at all hours on Friday September 9th 2011, I was told that this young man's mother was too emotionally overwhelmed to have him go to New York City. I must admit, my heart was broken. However, I understood that his mother just needed more time to grieve and to come to grips with such a big and new experience. Although I had been invited to attend the ARISE "Made In Africa" Show by Penny McDonald, the managing director of ARISE Media UK Ltd herself, I realized that I could not even go. It was to that show that I planned to bring this young man and his mother. The tickets had already been arranged. At this point, I was tired. So I spent the rest of that Friday with my son and husband at an evening event at my son's school. Then, I went to bed early.
The next morning, I woke up revived. I checked my FACEBOOK and saw that EDUN was having an event launching their Pioneers Project. I knew that I was supposed to be there. I had no clue how I would get to NYC or if I could even get into the event, but something in my heart told me that I should try. So once again, I went on intuition and not reason and explored all possibilities to get to NYC. I finally began to understand that I should rally as much for myself as I do for others. In the end, I was able to go to NYC. Although I knew that at such short notice making EDUN's fashion show by Sunday at 2pm would be tough, I had a chance to make it to the Pioneers Project launch event. What makes EDUN so special? Not only have I been writing about EDUN for years. I feel a deep connection to their work in both Africa and specifically in Uganda. Quite simply, my family is from Uganda. I am very passionate about any beneficial work done there. I also knew that there was a confirmed opportunity waiting in the wings with ARISE magazine. So, off I went!
On the flight to NYC, I met AMAZING men; one was Chef Kelvin Fernandez and the other Hair and Make-Up Artist Paul Anthony Garcia . It was a flight of INSPIRATION, both coming from very humble beginnings; they both have achieved a level of EXCELLENCE in their fields. You can find Chef Kelvin Fernandez at The Strand Hotel in NYC. You can find Paul Anthony Garcia in at the Jose Eber Salon in Beverly Hills.
With me off the plane and to the EDUN Pioneers Project Event, you are back to where we began this story. After all the traveling and anxiety, I took Monday as a day to BREATHE. However, the inspiration continued througout the week. On Tuesday, Lalibella and I met with a dear friend and co-owner of PRPS jeans, Jahayra Harrell. PRPS Goods has an AMAZING studio on West 36th Street in Midtown Manhattan. Lalibella and I walked into the studio and gasped in AWE! With a rugged sophistication, PRPS had its Men's Spring 2012 line on display. Amongst rustic decor and colorful ranunculus perfectly placed throughout the space, our eyes were opened to how beautiful denim could be!
Later that afternoon, we went to Bryant Park to relax our feet. Although our shoes were HOT, our feet were not! Relaxing in the beautiful weather, we were able to observe all the interesting personalities of Fashion Week. We saw people that were dressed on POINT and some that seemed to have missed the POINT! I love New York City!
On Wednesday, I was supposed to meet with a friend, but her honey played Mister Fix it that morning and installed the wrong alternator. Got to love a guy for trying! But that evening, I was able to meet up with my new friend Chef Kelvin at The Strand for a tasting. It was there that I had a dinner to remember. From Savory Scallops and Risotto to the Perfect Fish and Sweetest Moroccan Lamb, this meal was fit for a Queen. At this point, I was feeling like one. Jesse and Nathan introduced me to wine that took my palette all over the world without leaving my stool. Yes, I ate at the bar. As a mother, I rarely get the opportunity. So when the opportunity presents itself, I take it! To top it all off, I met a wonderful woman that was just embarking on a new part of her journey. I was moved in all directions that night, mouth to mind!
Thursday was the kicker! Thursday was the "Made In Africa" show by ARISE Magazine. Four women looking FIERCE, Lalibella, her sister Ssanyu, a friend and fashion designer Chantelle and myself walked in to this show feeling on top of the world. Watching the AMAZING fashions by designers from all over Africa, I knew we were in the presence of GREATNESS! The show was PERFECTION!! To top it all off, the after party seemed to take the soundtrack right from our youth. We danced to Micheal Jackson to Bobby Brown to Chaka Khan. Just when it could not get any better, R. Kelly came out and performed all his greatest hits. I was overwhelmed. The night was AMAZING!
On Friday, I woke up and received an email with Christy Turlington Burns's Q&A responses for our interview. It was a week of a LIFETIME. After a day of an sumpmtuos meal with Lalibella and a stroll through Soho and NoLiTa, early the following morning I flew back to the two people I love most in this world, my husband and my son.
Like the song says, "Don't Stop Believing...". Most importantly, don't stop Believing in YOURSELF!!!!!!!!
Don't worry about that young man. He was not told of the plans to take him to New York Fashion Week. So he was not disappointed. However, with more time, we are looking to bring him and his mother to New York Fashion Week in February 2012.
Because...I won't stop Believing that their are no limitations to what I or anyone else can achieve!
Sex and the 'Boro
Whitby, Hutton–le-Hole, Morpeth, Staithes, Redcar and even Middlesbrough are places that posses a beauty that you can find nowhere else. It is a story about the true beauty of this area, its people, which begs to be told! So here we go!
Now we all know about Carrie and Co. in Sex and the City, but who would have ever thought that you could cross the pond and find yourself starring in the northeast equivalent, Sex and the ‘Boro! Yes you may laugh…You may guffaw…you may even cry!! But I was witness to class, sophistication, creativity, and modern spirituality…the stuff that dreams are made of; right here in the Northeast Corner of England.
I know it may be hard for many to believe, especially those from the south of England and probably many from the Northeast itself, but I found something here that was magical and affirmed my belief that anything is possible. Having the blessing to witness the 2010 UK National election, I feel that I was a part of history. My son, amongst many other volunteers, canvassed the area and delivered flyers on behalf of Mr. Ian Swales.
Me and My family with Liberal Democrat Member of Parliment, Mr. Ian Swales
As the Liberal Democrat candidate, Mr. Swales ran for Member of Parliament for Redcar/Cleveland, where my husband grew up. (His kids were in swimming club with my husband, Jamie.) With the help of my six year old, he WON!! Hey if Ian Swales, now Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for the area, can be elected in a traditionally Labour Party stronghold, anything IS possible! I met Ian at a barbeque during this trip to England and I know from our conversation that he has been given the opportunity to do a lot for this area and he seems up for the challenge!
However, let’s move from Politics back to Fashion! I told my husband that I was meeting Lucy in Middlesbrough and would be back in Redcar to change for the fashion show and then back to Middlesbrough for the event. Well with time pressing by while window shopping in the hottest shops in town, Psyche and Triads, I did not make it back to Redcar. But I did make it in time to meet with Lucy. I was told to meet her at a Pop Up shop turn studio only a few streets away from the shops. I asked one of the sales clerks directions and headed straight there, knowing there would be no time to head back to Redcar to change.
Now you ask, what is a Pop Up shop? Well due to this area, as with so many others in the world, being hit hard due to the poor economy, many shops have been forced to close. Unfortunately, with shops closing, there are many abandoned store fronts that the owners still have to make good on. So as an incentive to revitalize the area, owners are allowing organizations to set up shop for a fixed period rent free as long as they pay for utilities. And that is what brings me to the amazing fiery red haired Helen Stevens. Helen owns Designer Marketplace, an organizations that provides venues for local artisans to display and sell their wares.
Well Lucy, an artsy fairy-like blonde, is one of them. Growing up in Redcar, her degree in Textile Design had brought her to London, where she learned more about her craft within London’s edgy fashion scene and established her own business, Lucy Leaver’s Handmade Shopper Bags, and then back home to the Northeast. Very “The Alchemist”!
Lucy in Saltburn-on-the-Sea, One of her bags, Lucy at work
Lucy’s bags are eco-friendly, with the use of gorgeous vintage fabrics. Now living in beautiful Saltburn-on- the-Sea, she has the opportunity to now be a Big Fish in a Small Pond and reconnect with childhood friends. By the way, She grew up with my husband Jamie. Although we live in the US and come back about twice a year to visit, I feel welcomed by this family of friends every time. There is a tight knit community amongst all of those that Jamie grew up with here in Redcar and Lucy is part of it. Now, our son Jed and I are too. But back to Lucy…and the Pop Up Shop…
Lucy, Victoria, Artwork
Well I made it to the shop, but it did not look like a shop at all. It was more of an artist studio with artist intently working on new inspired pieces. The energy was filled with raw creativity and the air was filled with the smell of fresh paint. As an artist, I felt a feeling of euphoria and it was not brought on by the fumes, but rather from this feeling of artistic connection and synergy. I introduced myself to Victoria Dektereff, a resident artist, and Helen. Then I greeted Lucy with a hug. It was amazing and magical. These three women were totally engrossed in their work!! The pieces were a glimpse into the lives of these women. The works of art detailed who they were and who they hoped to become. Full of swirls, bold color, detailed illustrations and angry black patterns, these pieces evoked a power that could inspire the Gods. After the introductions, they all told me a bit of why they were there. But Helen went on to explain why this Pop Up Shop was no longer a shop. Well honestly, Helen was not making any profit from selling the artist wares. The location of the shop was not the best in my opinion. As we know about retail…its all about LOCATION!! But out of her frustration, Helen decided to turn the shop into a studio. In her hopes for making some money by selling what she loves and helping local artisans, she felt that she had lost her connection with her true self and purpose. Ironically, out of her disappointment came a place for therapy, release and reconnection. Victoria was quieter about her motivations, but agreed that when inspiration comes, what you first conceptualized as the finished work can change before your very eyes into something completely different. As Lucy was working on her piece and I was capturing its evolution with my camera, I saw a running theme in her work.
The subject was usually a girl/young woman, alone with an ever changing backdrop. Sometime the backdrop was floating, full of fun and whimsy. While other times the backdrop was grounded in British iconography. Who was this girl? Through her art, I think Lucy was trying to discover just that!
Lucy and I left the studio to eat dinner a few streets away. From there we walked and met with Helen and her mother at a posh Indian restaurant. Changed and renewed, Helen greeted us with a smile. Both nearly finished with their meal, they got the bill and we headed across the street. Lord knows…we did not expect what we found!
A far cry from fashion meccas such as New York, Paris or Milan, there was no expectation of a line/queue for Middlesbrough Fashion Week. Well we were wrong. There was a line that formed behind us as far as the eye could see. Luckily, provided with a VIP wrist band, I did not have to wait in line for long. With Lucy and company by my side, we stopped and took a big long look at the place. The atmosphere was buzzing. And the free drinks and cocktails took the buzz to the next level. The fashion show was being held in Psyche. With multiple levels of designer digs, we floated from floor to floor exploring the clothes and weaving in an out of the maze of people. I was so impressed with the turn out and so were the ladies. As we approached the runway, it was announced that the adult fashion show would start in ten minutes.
Helen, Helen's Mother, Lucy and Me
With seats clear from the children’s show, we quickly claimed our spots in the front row. After more drinks and conversation, the show begins and my preconceptions of Middlesbrough left my mind. This was classy, stylish and current. I felt like Carrie!! SO forget Sex and The City! You don’t have to been in New York to experience finer things, such as Beautiful Backdrops, Fine Art, High Fashion, Delectable Dining and Sumptuous Wine. You can find just that in the Northeast of England, minus the irate yellow cabs!
Make sure to visit, Lucy Leaver’s Handmade Shopper Bags on Facebook !
Don't Stop, Hit It, Hit It!!!
Now put on a Justin song, no matter where I am, I might as well be in a club! YES MAAM!!!!!!! Now I love me some Justin, but I am not that big a fan of golf. But hey…many of my friends are. They tell me to try it. I say I will. But have I? No!
However, if you put Justin Timberlake and golf together you get, ECO-luxe golf course, Mirimichi, located in Millington, Tennessee. Now this course might get me off the dance floor and on to the green. I must admit it is gorgeous. And the fact that its development and maintenance are infused with eco-friendly sustainable ideals really gets me going.
Originating from Justin’s love of golf and sustainability, Mirimichi was erected and another soulless development project bit the dust! Providing a public GREEN haven, Mirimichi makes full use of reclaimed rainwater through irrigation and drainage facilities. It also provides natural habitats for local wildlife with beautiful marshes, lake areas and recirculating streams. As a result, it was the first project in the United States to receive the Audubon International’s Classic Sanctuary certification. A “Natural Resource Management Center” on site provides a biodegradable treatment of rinse water. In the future, Justin looks to incorporate the full use of solar powered golf carts. Also, he is preparing to build a LEED certified clubhouse.
All of this may even inspire me to get all the way to the 18th hole. But I think I am getting ahead of myself. Shoot…but that is how I always role. …Always reaching over the moon.
Well next time you hit the green, think to yourself! How GREEN is it?
At least at Mirimichi, the grass is not the only thing that is GREEN!
Photos courtesy of www.socialorg.com
Mirimichi Golf Course
Bedford’s Stamp on Eco-Luxury Hospitality: The Bedford Post Inn
Arriving in time for Sunday Brunch, I was greeted by the warm smile of the gentleman whom runs the valet. It was his smile that set the tone for a wonderful experience.
After our exterior shoot, Rob and I had brunch in The Barn, one of the two restaurants on site. Of the two, The Barn is more informal in comparison to the more formal restaurant, The Farmhouse. The use of organic and farm fresh produce is the backbone of their menu selection and local gourmet chef Brian Lewis brings it to life. I could not wait to get a taste! I ordered the banana pancake, two eggs scrambled with cheese, hash browns and a side of bacon. I was hungry…OK! The food was amazing! The Banana Pancake was a dark golden brown on the outside and with a soft, fluffy cake like texture on the inside. It reminded me of the traditional pancakes cooked in a cast iron skillet. If you have not noticed already, food is one of my passions as well, not forgetting a balanced diet and regular exercise. How else can I eat the gorgeous decadent options out there, I have to be at the gym five days a week. But it is all worth it in order to enjoy a meal like this without guilt!
It was there where we met Jacki, the Innkeeper. Greeted with her fresh faced smile and welcoming demeanor, Jacki started us on our tour of the interior of the inn. Jacki’s enthusiasm and youthful sophistication made the energy of the Inn seem current, open- minded and forward thinking. Jacki’s comforting eloquence proved that she knew the Inn inside and out. Although she was not the typical innkeeper I expected, I must be honest it was refreshing.
Now there are eight rooms for occupancy, most serving as large doubles with queen or king size beds. However there is a King Size room with a convenient sleeping nook for a small child. Adjacent to this room is another large quest room. Both can be closed off to form a large double room suite. Such as this room, a number of the rooms provide outside seating on a beautiful deck. Picture this, as you breathe in the view from the deck off of your beautifully tailored room, you see within the same visual plane a copper trimmed chimney that exudes traditional New England charm and Asian influenced bamboo rod roofing. Wow, I love the unexpected juxtapose of both the Asian and 19th Century traditional influences. In the rooms, you find luxurious
According to Gere, there are hopes for this Inn to provide a micro-climate for Global Change, where visionaries can gather to share their ideas. To me, this Inn is not just a place to lay your head; it’s an experience, an eco-friendly, global and spiritually relaxing experience.
To all those at the Bedford Post Inn…until next time and THANK YOU!
For more information on the Bedford Post Inn, please visit www.bedfordpostinn.com !
Photos courtesy of Robert Goldberg Photography
First you can view the beautiful organic gardens set amongst the majestic scenery of the Cotswolds, a range of rolling green hills in west-central England. The Cotswolds are also known as “The Heart of England”.
After becoming acquainted with cottage garden staples, butterflies and heirloom vegetables, you can learn how to cultivate this organic abundance yourself with the guidance of a course conducted by Daylesford Organic Farm School.
After your cookery class, you prepare these fruits of the earth with an end result that leaves you satisfied and ready to fully surrender to spa treatments, yoga and pilates sessions offered at the Hay Barn Spa.
Bamford Bath and Body products are also sold. They offer organic, holistic, botanic and baby product lines. Their organic line contains 95% organic ingredients and all the packaging is both recyclable and reused. And let me not forget to mention, they also sell beautiful clothing, house and garden wares at Bamford Barn!
All photos courtesy of www.daylesfordorganic.com
Be Kind and Rewind in Luxury
Napa Valley is known for its peaceful green rolling hills of wine vineyards. However, the wine vineyards are not the only GREEN you can find. Amongst this beautiful setting, you can find another GREEN oasis named Solage Calistoga. If you are looking for a beautiful GREEN destination stateside, Solage Calistoga fits the bill for any fine eco-conscious connoisseur. This eco-chic resort provides luxurious Green accommodations with the use of plush wool upholstered furniture with non toxic finishes, low voc paints and crisp modern fabrics and décor made of hemp, bamboo and reclaimed cedar.
Let’s also give the 20,000 square foot spa its due; specializing in customized cocktail mud baths ranging from an invigorating mint infused “Mud Mojito” to the relaxing lavender infused “Lavender Mudtini”. Afterwards you are welcome to a purifying dip in the Solage Olympic size swimming pool that is cleansed by an ozone–based cleaning system that keeps the use of chlorine to a minimum or a mind, body and spirit clarifying yoga session.
As an avid cyclist, I was excited to see that Solage Calistoga provides guest with the use of bicycles to explore the resort and the surrounding sites. And I give kudos to this resort for promoting cycling as the primary mode of transportation for the staff. Woo Hoo, I love that!
Finally as someone that not only loves to cook organically, but also loves to eat organically, Solbar, the resort’s gourmet eatery, does not stop short of organic nirvana for the decisive palette. With dishes made with ingredients from the local farms such as Big Ranch Farms and Long and Bailey Farms and the finest wines in the world at your finger tips, Solbar is organic gourmet dining at its best!
All in all, kindness towards our environment in combination with the rewind of daily stresses back to a peaceful state can exist in a luxurious environment. Solage Calistoga is a resort that provides organic chicken soup for the SOL!
For more information please refer to www.solagecalistoga.com
References: www.solagecalistoga.com , Traditional Home, Green Space by Jenny Bradley and Amy Elbert, Pure Pleasures, April 2009 issue
Photo courtesy of www.ecoluxury.com
The Green House at Soneva Kiri, Thailand
Run on alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and hydro power, these A-list accommodations provide sumptuous organic food and low environmental impact activities such as sailing, windsurfing and kayaking. After a day of earth friendly food and activities, you can return to your luxurious villa and relax with the soundtrack of palm trees rustling in the balmy breeze and a view of a sunset that beckons with the promise of more relaxing days and nights yet to come. Go to www.ecoluxury.com for further details!
Ras Mbisi Lodge, Tanzania
If seclusion is what you are looking for on your eco-holiday! Than Ras Mbisi Lodge is one of the best places you can find it, while no one is finding you! As you arrive on this five mile island with only nine exclusive thatched huts, you are greeted with turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and sigh filled ocean breezes. Your beautiful hut, made of local coconut wood by local craftsmen, provides you with your own personal panoramic view of the African coast. Ras Mbisi Lodge also provides amenities such as solar heated water and a restaurant a menu that includes fresh caught fish and vegetables from the organic garden on site. Eco-Paradise Found! Go to www.africatravelresource.com for further details!
Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, Australia
Calling all DIVERS! If eco-luxe diving seems tempting, how does eco-luxe diving in the NORTHERN TERRITORY OF AUSTRALIA sound? Yes, the beautiful setting for the epic movie AUSTRALIA, but you won’t find dust storms and dingoes here! Beautifully balmy tents furnished with four-poster beds, organic bed linens and eco-friendly products galore! With views of Kangaroos to the glorious western Australian coast from your platform perched tent, northwestern Australia is you oyster! Speaking of oyster, with delectable cuisine and stupendous array of local wines, your distinguished palate will not find anything lacking. Guided walks in the gorges by day and starlit strolls on the beach at night. You may even need a bit more Australian wine as you recall your swim with sharks just hours before. By providing you with the best in eco-amenities, Sal Salis is able to support the Australian Wildlife Conservancy that protects the best the earth has to offer. Go to www.salsalis.com.au for further details!