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103 N. Main
Beaver Dam, Kentucky

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Meet Bowen Outdoors

Ben Ashby

As part of our series of maker spotlights, we recently teamed up with Zack of Bowen Outdoors to talk about how he turned his passion for the outdoors into a business. For Zack, owning her own company is a way that she can give back to the causes and programs that matter to him, like nature conservation and camps and training programs that help children experience nature. Read more below to find out how Zack started Bowen Outdoors, and how he's making sure a new generation can enjoy the great outdoors.

 

How did you get started creating an outdoor brand?

We founded our brand on one mission: to inspire families and children to get out and explore more. During our conversations about our biggest influences, we realized the brand we wanted to create should be founded on two principles: family and exploring. These influences led us to creating a social enterprise driven outdoor brand where we give 10% of all net profits to programs all around the country that provide training, education and camps for children and families to experience the outdoors. 

A lot of our passion comes from relationships with our families. We were both raised as active outdoor children and were heavily influenced by the experiences and lessons a child can learn from being exposed to the outdoors. Having our own kids now we see that the idea of going camping, hiking and exploring outside is starting to fade and with that we think children are losing their sense of adventure, curiosity and wonder.  

Who taught you to start your own brand, or were you self-taught?

We have learned a lot of valuable skills about overall business operations from past experiences in family business and in college. We have learned a lot since starting Bowen Outdoors. Many of the important aspects of creating products, brand image, creative development, etc. were all things we did not know much about. We have had a lot of trial and error and picked up on different skills as we have gone just by trying and doing and asking for help from friends and family. It hasn’t always been perfect, but we have definitely learned a lot along the way.

Did you know you would start your own brand, if not what spurred it?

I have always known I wanted to start something of my own. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and business owners, so I  think that the drive to create and build upon ideas is somewhat in my blood naturally. I started working for my grandfather’s business when I was 13 years old because the idea of running a business seemed fun and interesting to me. I worked there from 13-20 and as I got older, I would always have people call me the “little boss man” and tell me how I would one day be running the company and I would always just laugh. Although I have always felt fortunate enough to have had the option to work in the family owned businesses, I always wanted it to be in a field that I was passionate about and wanted to pave my own way.

Bowen Outdoors and the idea behind it happened somewhat naturally for us. Getting outside and exploring has always been something I have been passionate about, but growing up in the Midwest I never thought about creating an outdoor brand because I didn't feel that we were in an area that was “outdoorsy” enough. Now that I have started a family of my own and do my best to get my kids to explore all that life has around us, I realized we don't have to always be in the mountains to explore. The opportunity for exploring is all around us.

How do you get ideas for new products & photo shoots?

Bowen Outdoors is focused on providing outdoor lifestyle products and apparel for people who are just as comfortable in the city as they are on the trail. Our product ideas come from trying to inspire and motivate people to live life outside of the cubicle, living room or their cell phone. 

 

What are your inspirations?

My greatest inspiration overall has been my father. Since I was young, I remember his passion for the outdoors and the part it played in our relationship. My Dad is every part of the word, outdoorsman. Growing up, I lived in a log cabin in the woods, we had a couple of horses, played in the woods and creeks daily, and he participated in all of those things with us. Our vacation every year was in a state park or campground where we always went on hikes and climbed around on rocks. He really taught us about the outdoors and instilled his love for it in us. To this day, my greatest memories with him have involved camping and exploring. Just a few weeks ago, we had one of the best trips I have ever been on in my life and conversations while exploring that I will never forget. He is a tough guy who still loves rock climbing, backpacking, and finding new places to explore.

Outside of the outdoors world, my father is a quiet yet smart and calculated businessman. He is passionate not only for his business, but also for the people working for him. I have always admired the way he has done his best to treat people fairly and respectfully even when it meant less overall profit for the business in the end. The kind of compassion for people that is greater than the desire for money is a rarity in this world and I really look up to him for that.

Overall in life, combining his love for the outdoors and his business knowledge and compassion for people, he is a pretty cool guy. What I am sure most people wouldn’t expect to read is that my Dad is legally blind, and if his eye disease has it’s way, will be completely blind sometime in his life. To see a man who has never stopped rock climbing, walking on narrow trails at the top of a mountain, crawling through caves, and skydiving despite not being able to see is the most inspiring to me. He has never let his sight keep him from living life and laughing and that is one of the things I will always remember most about him. He lived his life to the fullest and didn’t what people thought he should or shouldn't do keep him from truly living.

How do your hobbies influence what you make?

We are family guys, and most of our time is spent with our wife and kids. We try our best to get out with them and teach them about the outdoors, being safe while exploring, and about the incredible things you can find while you are out on an adventure. The best part about being an outdoor brand is that we actually live this life so we are able to take those experiences and work toward creating products that reflect them.

 

What has been your biggest challenge?  

I would say our biggest challenge has been lack of knowledge. We started this brand on a shoestring budget. I have a wife and three kids under 3 years old at home and the idea of using our savings or getting a loan just didn't seem like the best idea while trying to keep their well-being as a priority. When you make a decision to start a business without a lot of money, things start slower in terms of products available and slower in general. This is something we are navigating; yet trying to keep our priority of family as our main focus. 

What's been your best advice you've been given?

My father once told me, “I am not going to stop living life waiting to die just because I can't see. I am going to live my life to the fullest, doing the activities that make me happy and if I die climbing down a mountain, at least I died doing something I love” It may not have been real advice that he was trying to give, but the impact that the idea of really going for what you want, never settling and taking chances, will stay with me for a lifetime.

What's your favorite thing about sharing your art with others?

The impact it has had on families and children. When we give back to community programs that help support exploration and adventure it's an incredible feeling. Knowing that not only are we providing great gear and apparel, but that we are actively making a difference in people's lives is the best part of what we do. At the end of the day, it doesn't feel like we're running a business - it feels like we're creating something special and something we believe in. 

 

Our Favorite Special Apple Cider Recipes

Christophe Chaisson

CROCKPOT HOT SPICED APPLE CIDER By Superheroes and teacups

Most of the time crockpots are used for stew and pot roasts, yet this holiday season we wanted to spice it up with some hot apple cider. This recipe is so simple, you throw everything into the pot and just wait. The smell of spiced cider will fill your house as you allow for this sweet drink to simmer. 

Superheroes and Teacup's Website

 

Apple cider Mimosas by What the fork

Mimosas are a must for brunch year round, so why not customize them to fit the season? It only takes mixing two ingredients to get the holiday cheer flowing with these apple cider mimosas. The sweetness of cider pairs perfectly well with the smooth bubbliness of champagne. There is always a reason to celebrate during the holiday season, so let's do it with a mimosa in hand.

What The Fork's Website

 

Hot MuLLed Apple Cider Sangria By The Crumby Cupcake

This is a warm seasonal drink with rich flavors to get in a festive mood with friends or even just curl up with a good book near the fire. Clementines, apples, and honey add a distinct taste to this wonderful drink. The longer you let it sit, the sweeter and richer the flavors become, so don't drink it all at once!

The Crumby Cupcake's Website

Hot-Mulled-Apple-Cider-Sangria-2.jpg
 

Apple Cider Breakfast Smoothie By On Sugar Mountain

 

A smoothie in the morning is always a tasty way to start the day. Enjoy this cool refreshing drink in the warm confines of your home before venturing out in the cold of winter. This is one of the ways in which you can enjoy dessert for breakfast guilt free because you are basically drinking apple pie! But it's healthy because it is a smoothie, right?

On Sugar Mountain's Website

 

Spiked Apple Cider Rum By Simworks Family Blog

This adult beverage is a perfect way to help celebrate this Christmas season with good friends. It can even make for a tasty mocktail for all the kiddos. The spices of cider complement the spiced rum perfectly. You can taste the fullness of the seasons with this drink. It is guaranteed to fill you with cheer during the holidays. 

Simmwork's Website

 

All of these drinks are splendid as we leave Thanksgiving and Autumn behind to transition to Christmas and Winter. It is always delightful to have a delicious beverage in hand whether around a fire or a socializing at a holiday party. With all these apples a day, the doctor will be far away. Cheers to good health and tasty drinks this year!

Adventure Because You Can | Meet Blake Pack

Ben Ashby

— There is something innate in mankind to look to the horizon, a beach, or a mountain top and say, "I wanna go see what things look like over there."

 

MEET BLAKE PACK....

I've known Blake Pack for years. He is one of those guys I've followed on Instagram 2011 and have lusted after his western life daily. To be surrounded by the mountains and the salt flats of Salt Lake City just seemed to be such a magical place to be. Blake, along with his group of friends have been documenting their adventures through photographer for years now. I thought it was well past time to learn more about Mr. Pack and why he adventures. 

 
 

Why do you adventure - Adventure because you can. Because you have a privilege the majority of the world does not: to travel with means and comfort to understand and come to better know the world we live in, and for the most part the small state of that I live in.

Why do you explore - It's pretty much on par with why I adventure: there is something innate in mankind to look to the horizon, a beach, or a mountain top and say, "I wanna go see what things look like over there." It's crucial to our development and well-being. Most of my explorations comes takes place in nature. I believe at some point in time we forgot that we are a part of nature, just as the trees, beavers, and bears. I'm not talking in a hippy-dippy kinda way; I mean in a literal cognitive reset. We evolved from the wilderness and at our core, we are all animals. I think it's important to keep that animal alive and wild and exploring does that for me. 

 
 

Why take risks in life  -  Because lines are meant to be crossed and boundaries pushed. You will never know how far you can stretch and reach if you don't not try. 

Where are you from  - Idaho Falls, Idaho, baby!

What is your 9-5 -I run marketing for a tech company called Needle, where I do most of the content creation, copy writing, and design - I also have a person shirt company called badastronot.com, and help another guy with his website and content creation... and suddenly I am realizing why I don't have as much travel time as I'd like.

 

 

When you were growing up what or who did you want to be - I still wanna be what I wanted to be as a kid: and astronaut. Clearly that path veered, but at the rate we're going, I totally plan on one of my last adventures and explorations to be in a rocket to space where I can see earth as a whole; I want to see the full, big picture. Till then, I am going to pause my "growing up" and stay a kid who is viewing the world on a more micro level.

Favorite place you've visited - Big Sur - not so much because it was gorgeous (I mean, duh, it is) but more so because of the company I was with, the conversations that accompanied us, and mishaps that shaped our trip, and the amazing food we shared.

Place you most desperately want to visit - Hmmmm. Probably New Zealand, Antartica, or Cuba. 

 
 

What has changed about you because of your travels - I find focus when I travel. Unfortunately that focus blurs as time from that travel wears off, but the longer the trip I take away from it all, the clearer I see the world, my problems, etc. 

Who is the most dynamic and thought provoking person you've ever met - Dallas Hartwig. 

If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why - I wanna do a 50 State Journey with Sufjan Stevens. He can continue his 50-State Album project while I interview him, hear him play diddies on the banjo, and make amazing images of the country and the people we encounter. We'd definitely be traveling by pick-up truck with an in-bed camper - very Travels with Charley (Steinbeck). So it'd be cozy, too.

 

 

Must haves for travel - Camera, food, and underwear. But, underwear is rather optional.

Travel tips - Don't plan it too much. Be informed enough that you don't miss the must-sees, but don't get caught up or pass up moments and memories because of schedules. When it comes to traveling, I view the first chapter of Steinbeck's book to be my bible for travel planning:

"A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us." John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley. I think every traveler should read the first chapter of that book before they take a trip.

 

 

Based on your travels what is the single most needed improvement for humanity to be stronger - It's easy to get caught up in capturing that image that will blow peoples' minds. There is nothing wrong with wanting that. There is nothing wrong with wanting people to "like" your work. But if you only view the world and places you explore by looking at the back of a digital screen or through a viewfinder, you're missing the point. Remember to put the camera down, or better, away entirely. And always make a point to look at the stars in whatever place you're visiting when possible. 

What would you say to someone who has never travelled before - Don't worry about going BIG. You don't need to go to Iceland or Norway or wherever to travel. The vast majority of people don't even explore their own backyard (i.e. state, national parks, or even their own downtown). I find it hilarious, for example, that so many people from PNW are headed to the red rocks of Utah and how many Utahans (myself included) who are so set on getting to PNW but neither have really spent much time traveling through their own state.

What is the single greatest lesson you've learned from someone that is different than you - You have to do what makes YOU happy. I learned after decades of trying to live up to peoples expectations for me was actually holding me back. What I learned from people different from me is that 

 

 

When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone. What did you learn from that lesson - I feel like I am repeating myself, so sorry, haha. But I believe in crossing lines in a positive way. Certain lines are not crossed because they cause unnecessary pain for others and thats never acceptable. But every other line should be crossed. I, of all people, am guilty of staying in my comfort zone. But the moments and images that stick out in my mind as cherished memories came when I was in a place of physical discomfort (like heights) or the posting of some images that are more intimate and personal (such as some of my dark and revealing portraits). Those put me in a place of emotional/mental discomfort because I feared the judgment people would make about me for sharing a picture of a rather naked man and his body, but there is nothing more exhilarating as an artist to be accepted, loved, and praised for work that put you in an uncomfortable place, and forming friendships with people who love the real work you do, not just the "safe" work that nearly everyone (like your grandma) will like. 

 

What would you say to your former self - You can't be happy trying to make someone else happy. If the people around you aren't happy when you truly are happy, then they aren't people worth having around.  

 

 

What gives you hope - Obi Wan Kenobi

Where to next - Somewhere tropic this winter, or possibly Australia.

Is flannel always in season - In doses. Not daily. Unless you're in Nirvana, an actual Lumber Jack, or Maple Syrup Farmer.

 

Chandler Bondurant

Christophe Chaisson


Christophe C: Why do you adventure?

Chandler B: I wouldn't necessarily say that I go out and pursue something just for the sake of 'adventuring'. For me there's always an intentional reason for each trip, and the unpredictable events that happen along the way are what turn a normal trip into an adventure that you go home and tell your friends about.

 

CC: Why take risks in life?

CB: Why not? The way I see it, you only have one shot at life. And I know that's a cliche thing to say, but I don't think most people really realize the weight of that. You've only got one go at this whole thing, so why not take some risks and see if they pay off? I'm a firm believer that the higher the risk, the higher the reward.

 

CC: What is your 9-5?

CB: I currently barista one or two days a week at a cafe because it makes it easier to save, but aside from that I pay my bills with photography.

CC: Where are you from?

CB: Originally I'm from South Georgia but I currently reside in Atlanta.

 

 

 

 

 

CC: When you were growing up what or who did you want to be?

CB: For the longest time I wanted to be an astronaut, but apparently now I'm too tall(6' 2" is the cutoff).

CC: Favorite place you've visited?

CB: East Africa by far. The culture and landscape made for one of the most incredible places I've ever had the opportunity to experience.

 

CC: Place you most desperately want to visit?

CB: This is a difficult one. If I had to pick one place right now it would probably be Nepal. I'd love to experience a landscape on such a scale as the Himalayas as well as the unique culture and people there.

CC: What is the single greatest moment of human humanity you've experienced while traveling?

CB: My friend Melissa tops the list for this one. When I was in Alaska in 2015 she let me stay on her couch for FREE for over a month when I had nowhere else to go. I'm forever grateful for her and everybody else that has opened up their home to me while I've been on the road.

 

CC: What has changed about you because of your travels?

CB: I'd say the perspective on life that I've gained. Staying in one place really limits your viewpoint on life and can make you very close-minded over time. After I left South Georgia my perspective on life and culture changed dramatically because I was able to experience and understand other people's opinions and ways of life.

CC: Who is the most dynamic and thought provoking person you've ever met?

CB: Our driver in Africa, Gilles, has to be one of the most interesting and friendly people I've ever had the opportunity to talk to. Originally from Rwanda, he was living in the country 20 years ago when the terrible Rwandan genocide took place, but has since taken up a career in driving for tour companies and started a family. We had lots of time to talk on our long drives between Rwanda and Uganda and I'm really glad I had the opportunity to get to know him.

 

CC: If you could travel with one person in history or in present who would it be and why?

CB: This may sound crazy, but definitely President Obama. He seems like a cool, laid back dude with pretty good taste in music. Also, access to Air Force one would be pretty convenient.

CC: Must haves for travel?

CB: I've always got a digital or film camera on me. Always. It's very important for me to be able to photograph things on a seconds notice, especially if it's for a job or project. If I'm going on a plane, I make sure to always have my laptop, external hard drive, and headphones on me. I've also learned the hard way that having a rain jacket in your bag at all times is never a bad idea.

 

CC: Travel tips?

CB: Never try to be on too tight of a schedule, and be okay with the fact that your trip is NEVER going to go exactly as planned. I've begun to embrace this, because like I said earlier, the unexpected things that happen on a trip are usually the things that are worth telling stories about. It's also good to always be prepared for a change in the weather. I always keep a rain jacket and some sort of extra layer on me because too many times I've been stuck exposed on a trail when a rainstorm appeared out of nowhere, and it is zero fun.

CC: Tell us a story! 

CB: The closest I've ever come to dying was in Alaska on Matanuska Glacier. I was with a couple of friends and we were there to shoot some photos for a brand. In preparation for this, we had rented some basic ice gear(mountaineering boots, crampons, etc.) from REI and for some reason I thought that made me an ice climbing expert. We got to the glacier and while everyone was shooting photos, I thought it would be a great idea to go exploring by myself. Now anyone with any sort of glacier experience will tell you that this is a very stupid thing to do, and they're right. This did not occur to me at all at the time though because I was cocky and thought that I was invincible. After about 5 minutes of wandering around, I misjudged the thickness of some ice and fell straight through into a hidden crevasse. Luckily it was filled with water and I didn't fall to an immediate death. However, the sides of the crevasse were sloped in and I wasn't able to simply pull myself out. After what seemed like an eternity of struggling, I managed to pull myself out using my ice axe(thanks to Willie Dalton for letting me borrow his). Luckily I didn't get hypothermia after all of this; though I did have to walk close to a mile back to the car in nothing but my base layer. I also lost all of my camera gear and cell phone to water damage. If there's one thing I learned from this experience, it's that you should always have your personal safety in mind, because mother earth does not care and will kill you without a second thought. I got extremely lucky that day, and if there wasn't water in that crevasse, or if I didn't have an ice axe, I could have been seriously injured or killed.

 

CC: Based on your travels, what is the single most needed improvement for humanity to be stronger?

CB: Compassion and understanding. There are too many people that I've met who are afraid of and made uncomfortable by other cultures and people, and I think this comes from willful ignorance and a lack of understanding.

I genuinely believe that if everyone were to work hard at understanding people of other races, cultures, and religions, the earth would be a much better place.

 

CC: What is the single greatest lesson you've learned from someone that is different than you?

CB: Everyone has different definitions of happiness, and just because someone doesn't particularly align with yours, does not mean that they are wrong.

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

 CB: Do it.

CC: When did you feel you were most out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that lesson?

CB: When I was flying up to Alaska for the second time, I only had a place to stay for a week and had absolutely no idea where I was going to be staying after that. I had barely made any friends yet and definitely none that I thought would be nice enough to let me stay with them. I was terrified. Luckily it worked out in the end and I had somewhere to stay for the following month. For me this just reinforced that it's almost always worth it to take risks. Worst case scenario, I would have gotten a hotel and flown back to Georgia. Fortunately however it worked out and I got to stay and enjoy Alaska for longer.

 

CC: What gives you hope?

CB: Enjoying the small things in life. Even if I'm not photographing it or writing it down, I always make it a point to appreciate every little thing about a situation.

CC: What would you say to your former self?

CB: Don't act like a hot shot know-it-all all the time and actually listen to people that may know better than you.

CC: Where to next?

CB: It's looking like I'll be in Iceland in the next few months, which will hopefully be really incredible. I'm challenging myself to go there and come back with photos that are different than the typical Iceland photos and that really illustrate the beauty of the country and culture. I'm also in the planning stages of a possible trip to India/Nepal next year, which if it happens, should be the trip of a lifetime.

 

Ben: Is flannel always in season?

CB: Hell yes.


Thriving Photography: An Interview with Bronson Farr

Christophe Chaisson

California raised, New York living, Bronson Farr is a phenomenal photographer whose love and passion for people is evidently displayed through his work. His very presence lights up a room with his radiating optimism & positivity, which is a pretty useful skill to possess being in a profession dependent on light.  We had the privilege to hear about his journey and career as a photographer.

 

Christophe: When did you first become interested in photography?

Bronson: Growing up, I though photos were really only to commemorate the happy stuff in life. When I was a child, I went to a wake for my Gramps. My uncle was taking photos of Gramps in his coffin and I super confused by it. I asked my Uncle why he was photographing this particular moment. He replied with something along the lines of "all aspects of life are important to document, even death". For me, this was a total and complete revelation. Photos aren't only for the happy moments, but photos are for ALL moments. Moments that we will all look back on and pensively reminisce over and moments that our posterity will look upon and know that we all existed and lived good lives. There is something magical and romantic about that, this is when the idea of photography became something meaningful to me. 

 

 

C: Were you self-taught or did you learn in school/from a mentor?

B: Self, Friends, Youtube tutorials.
 



C: How did you develop your style?

B: Practice and Collaboration.

 

 

B: Natural light is my absolute jam! I like to work with interesting locations in the city where there is a good mix of direct sunlight and shadowed back drops. Most times, my subjects choose me. For my art series, @bronson.skin a lot of subjects reach out via instgram, but if I think you look interesting I have no problem being that creep asking to take your photo. When it comes to clients, I always have a consultation to make sure the vibe is right. Nothing is worst than working for a client you can't stand or truly collab with. 

 

 

 

 

C: How do you find and choose you subjects or locations?

 

 

 

 

 

C: What inspires your work?

B: My absolute favorite part of my work is working with people. People inspire me and my work. 



C: How do you compose an image?

B: One thing that is always on my mind is the rule of 3rds. 

 

C: Do you go into the shoot with a specific shot in mind, or does the inspiration strike when you place your model in the setting?

B: A bit of both. You need to know what you want to accomplish in any given shoot. Location, tone of voice, lighting etc should be worked out before your shoot, but if you aren't open to inspiration in the midst of creating- then what's the point? If you are looking at the model and your set and get a great idea that you are enthused about- the best advice I can ever give is to try it! You'll hate yourself if you don't.

 
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C: What do you hope your art says to people?

B: I really just hope it makes people happy and make them want to work with me or try to execute what they've seen me do. 

C: Why did you choose photography as your craft?

B: It's the best mix of working with my hands, working directly with people, and actively trying to be creative and thoughtful. It just works for me.
 

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C: How hard was it to become profitable at it? 

B: Thankfully I didn't struggle too much to get in the green. One of the first projects I worked on was a fundraiser for my friend's dad who had throat cancer. I shot loads of family sessions and gave all of the proceeds to my friends family. A few days after the project was done one of my roommates handed me an envelope with all of the money I had made and donated. He said someone dropped it off for me and said to not mention who it was from. To this day, that person is the reason why my equipment is paid for. 

 

C: Any suggestions to newcomers to the field?

B: Just show up. Take every opportunity to shoot and learn.
Be with other creatives. Train your eye and your hands.
Cloud based storage will be your friend.
Shoot RAW and in manual mode.
Practice with prime lenses.
Stop if you don't love it. Thrive if you do.

 
 
 


C: If you couldn’t be doing your craft, what would you do instead?

 


B: You know how Uber partners with hella companies to do cool stuff? I wanna be the guy to set up those partnerships...

Puppies would be in every car.
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C: Any favorite moments of your career so far?

B: Shooting an huge Indian wedding in San Francisco. The groom's family blocked off part of Union Square and the family danced and sang while the groom rode in on a white horse. It was the most magical display of tradition I'd ever seen. 

 

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C: What would you do differently if you could start from scratch?

B: I was transfering data from one hard drive to another. I got a bit too stoned and ended up deleting every.single.photo. If I could start from scratch, I would get that cloud based storage off the bat, for sure.

 

C: Is there a defining moment in your career so far?

B: I was shooting a fashion show for Marc Bouwer and got to meet some of the cast of Orange is the New Black and some of those Housewives from BRAVO, that was pretty cool.

 

 

Ben: Is flannel really always appropriate? 

Bronson: Obviously.

 

 

C: Biggest pet peeve about the industry?

B:I don't think I've been around long enough to have too big of complaints. 

 

To capture all the moments of life as Bronson does really causes him to stand out. That to me is authenticity at its finest. He captures the good times, the hard times, and everything else in between. To follow his journey or even be a part of his shoots, check out his Instagram and Website below!

Bronson Farr's Website 

Instagram @BronsonFarr

 

 

December | Week 4

Zack Peterson

It's officially here, y'all! The day some of us wait for all year long - Christmas Day. Spending the day with loved ones, giving gifts from the heart, and not missing out on any cookies. This week's playlist brings together Christmas classics we've all grown up listening to, sung by even bigger classics. Andy Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Perry Como and more delight our ears this weekend for the big day. Sit back, snuggle up in that slightly tacky throw your aunt knitted those many years ago, and enjoy our December Week 4 playlist. Don't forget to follow us on Spotify to catch up on our previous December playlists, and be sure to tweet us to let us know which one is your favorite. From our family to yours, we wish you a very, Merry Christmas. 

 
  1. Winter Wonderland - Ella Fitzgerald
  2. A Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives
  3. Silver Bells - Perry Como
  4. The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
  5. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Frank Sinatra
  6. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Gene Autry
  7. Snow - Rosemary Clooney
  8. A Marshmallow World - Dean Martin
  9. Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
  10. Feliz Navidad - José Feliciano
  11. Sleigh Ride - Mel Tormé
  12. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Andy Williams
  13. All I Want For Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey

Five Alternative Uses for Fruitcake

Ben Ashby

 

Truman Capote’s 1956 short story “A Christmas Memory” opens on a chilly, late November morning to a young boy’s surrogate mother looking out the kitchen window. Her breath fogs the pane and “Oh my,” she exclaims to him, “it’s fruitcake weather!"

 

BY: D. GILSON

 

I’ve been thinking about this boy and this woman a lot recently, as my own breath fogs the frosty mornings and the local food co-op in our New England town puts out its annual order forms for fruitcake, displayed carefully between menorah candles and commemorative winter solstice prayer cards.

My mother doesn’t bake. But lo-and-behold, every holiday season a fruitcake adorned the giant red sideboard next to our kitchen table. My mother and I would drive to the local Sam’s Club, grab Diet Cokes from the hot dog stand, peruse the aisles of colossal cheese and salami trays, gallon jugs of Jack Daniels, permafrost boxes of Hot Pockets and Pizza Rolls capable of feeding a small legion of junior high boys for the better part of a month. We’d end at the bakery, plop a shrink-wrapped, over-sized fruitcake into our cart, and make for home. Freshness isn’t an issue with fruitcake, the food that, along with Twinkies, may very well feed us in a post-nuclear apocalypse. 

Our fruitcake held court upon the vintage milk glass cake stand for a month or so, a month when we’d peck at it until New Year’s, when my mother would throw what remained in the backyard, where stray cats and birds would finish what we couldn’t.

Yes, it’s popular to hate on fruitcake. And though I don’t particularly like it — even the artisanal ones this site will inevitably link to, made by hipster bakers with pretty blogs and thick framed glasses smudged with organic, locally-sourced, hand-ground flour — I want to offer you five uses for fruitcake that don’t require eating them.

XO,

D.

 
 

Rise to social media stardom. Jesus is not the reason for the season, and Santa is drunk on a beach in Cancun. This leaves room for a new holiday star: you. Bake a fruitcake (or buy one, it doesn’t matter). Snap a picture of it next to your bare ass. Tag with #FruitCAKE. Drop to Insta, Tumblr, Facebook, Reddit (even trolling, closeted Republicans need holiday eye candy). Watch your likes grow and your star rise, bringing many a wise man to lay in your manger.

 

Win the passive-aggressive winter Olympics. That racist cousin whose name you always draw for the family gift exchange? That co-worker who sends you “Long Live Lady Gaga” playlists on Spotify? That guy who gave you chlamydia junior year but is now married to a rich patron with a Lower East Side loft and cabin in Asheville? Yeah, fuck ‘em with kindness. Bake the driest fruitcake you can, wrap it in butcher paper, tie it with twine, add a sprig of spruce, and send it alongside the happiest holiday card you can muster. Up goes your karma count, no one can say you didn’t try, and hey, maybe your untouched fruitcake will draw rats to their well-appointed kitchen.

 
 

Plan a date. Tell your crush to bring dried fruit and the door will be open. Splay yourself upon the counter, covered with flour, eggs, butter…whatever else goes in a fruitcake. See what happens.

 

Throw a costume party. Invite every gay man and every woman you know to a Fruitcake Party. Dress: ho ho ho. Décor: low lighting. Drink: liquid fruitcake (orange zest, a cinnamon stick, but mostly gin). Distraction: Love Actually on loop. Don’t forget: carb and gluten free fruitcake bites and plenty of mistletoe.

 

Reconnect with your mother. You don’t call enough. You haven’t given her grandchildren. You live so far away in that city now. And yet, you are naturally her favorite. Spend an afternoon baking with your mother, margaritas in your cups and Dolly Parton on the stereo. Tell her about the boy who broke your heart last month. Let her tell you he wasn’t good enough anyway.

 

D. Gilson is the author of I Will Say This Exactly One Time: Essays (Sibling Rivalry, 2015) and Crush with Will Stockton (Punctum Books, 2014). He is an Assistant Professor of English at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and his work has appeared in Threepenny Review, PANK, The Indiana Review, The Rumpus, and as a notable essay in Best American Essays. Find D. at dgilson.com or on Instagram @dgilson.

Own Less, Do More: An Interview with Zack Helminiak of Nomadix

Zack Peterson

We spoke with Nomadix Co-Founder Zack Helminiak to discuss products that blend well with a functional lifestyle, being active, and how one eco-friendly towel can do it all.

 
 

How did you get started creating?

Zack: In the winter of 2008-2009 we were all working for Vail Resorts in the Rocky Mountains. Chace was a snowboard instructor, Hunter was on-mountain guest services, and I worked in a rental shop. We had many adventures that year, including a springtime trip to Canyonlands in Utah. That first night was sat around a campfire overlooking the Canyon, sipping cheap brandy (Hunter’s camping M.O.), and hatched the idea for a company that makes eco-friendly, multi-purpose travel products. Shortly after landing in California, we began designing a towel that fit the California lifestyle of weekend camping, weekday surfing and yoga, and really anything you can throw at it.

 

Who taught you to start your own brand, or were you self-taught?

Z: For the most part I would describe us as self-taught, although I wouldn't want to take away from anyone that has given us advice along the way. We’ve received advice from family, friends, and other business owners in Southern California that was definitely formative. Small businesses also lean on each other to promote, throw events, and give advice, and we have benefitted from that community. But if you look at the day-to-day of running a business; we wanted to build a brand that is a voice for environmentalism, and in that we are carving our own path, not taking shortcuts, and much of that is self-taught.

 
 

Did you know you would start your own brand, if not what spurred it?

Z: All of us have had a creative, entrepreneurial spirit, since we were young. I don't want to say that I knew the future, but none of us took much convincing once the idea for Nomadix formed.

 

How do you get new ideas for products and photo shoots?

Z: Ideas for our products, both in function and design, come from travel. Our products are designed to perform in every activity you encounter, they have travel inspired prints, and we test them thoroughly on the road. Our photos are typically not from a photo shoot. They are almost always documented photos of our travels, and we always bring a towel.

That goes for customer submissions as well. Our customers, whom we love, have sent in photos of themselves with a Nomadix towel on all seven continents. Even our best photos are much more candid than they might appear.

 

What are you inspired by?

Z: We are inspired by adventure travel and environmental activism. Companies like Patagonia, leaders like Doug Tompkins and Elon Musk, the photography of Chris Burkard, our friends at Changing Tides Foundation, and the folks that run Fashion Revolution. There are a lot of voices, large and small, that speak up for the environment and respect the outdoors. We believe that the most important players in combating climate change are consumers, and you see a similar mentality in the campaigns run by some of our role models.

 

How do your hobbies influence what you make?

Z: Our hobbies are very directly responsible for the creation of Nomadix. We are all very active, whether it’s surfing, yoga, traveling, camping, or rock climbing. We also spend a good deal of time traveling internationally, and are very passionate about the environment.

A few years ago there was a specific towel for yoga, a different towel for camping, and another towel for the beach and surfing. It seemed both expensive and wasteful to buy three/four towels when one would do, so we created a towel that performed in every activity. We decided to make it 100% recycled according to Global Recycle Standard to keep plastic out of the ocean, and the Nomadix towel was born.

 
 

What has been your biggest challenge?

Z: Our biggest challenge is that we want to make a big impact, but as a small business you have to start slow. But starting slow is also our strength. We have built the business in a very “grassroots” way, starting with crowd funding, then going door to door at yoga studios and surf shops in Southern California. It was a slow process, but it makes all the difference to meet your customers face to face. If we started with a bigger advantage (money, connections, etc.), we might not know our customers, and our business, as well as we do.

 
 

What's been your best advice you've been given?

Z: The best advice I’ve been given was on a 10-day camping trip when I was a kid. Our camp counselor told us the number one rule is “leave no trace.” This is something that we struggle with today. Consumers rarely think of the product life cycle when they buy a product. Where does the packaging go, how long will I use it, can it be recycled?

We believe that every product should have a carefully thought out plan for the end of product life, which is why our towels are 100% recycled and recyclable. Our next phase of the company will be to create a recycling system so people can turn their towels back in when they are done with them. Our towels are durable and we’ve only been around for two years, so this situation has not come up yet.

 

What's your favorite thing about sharing your art with others?

Z: The best thing about sharing our art with others is the photos we get from travelers. We’ve gotten photos from every continent now, including Antarctica, so there are tons of customer stories.

One that stands out in my mind; A recent customer, Lexi, did a 14-day bike packing trip in Tanzania with The Foundation for Tomorrow, from Mt Kilimanjaro to the coast. The organization does amazing work in education, and they usually bring a few students on the trip. The Tanzanian student that joined them on the bike trip had never seen the ocean before, so it's was very inspirational. During the trip, Lexi thought to snap a photo of her Nomadix towel and send it to us. It’s so special to be included in moments like that.

 

For more on the Nomadix brand, visit www.nomadix.co

 

Lanona

Zack Peterson

We recently spoke with the man behind Lanona, Ben Ransom, about seeking inspiration, personal hobbies, and how wanting one pair of custom shoes turned into the creation of many shoes for his very own company.

 
 

How was Lanona founded?

Ben: Our brand first started when I went on a search for a custom pair of shoes. I found a shoemaker in the US that had been hand-stitching shoes for over 30 years and recently setup a small operation out of his garage. Through the process of working with him, adjusting designs and observing what a quality shoemaking process looked like, it sparked my interested to start a footwear brand.  I continued to work with this shoemaker for over two years before our brand was launched. In addition to product development, I’ve been lucky to partner with @ocupop for our brand identity and overall design, they’ve been instrumental in telling our story and connecting the dots with where we want to go as a brand.

 

Were you always interested in starting your own business?

B: I was. I studied Entrepreneurship in college and have family members that ran their own businesses. After school, I focused a lot on experience and sought out diverse opportunities to build a broad range of skills like - marketing and sales for a manufacturing company, field work - installing towers for wind energy farms, and selling vintage gadgets to name a few.

 
 
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How did you learn the trade of boot making?

B: I don’t personally construct each boot from start to finish and don’t want to take away from the talented craftsmen and women we work with on a daily basis. But all of my knowledge within the industry has been self-taught. I can attribute most of where I’m at now to -  getting out there, not being afraid to ask questions, being humble, and building a network of people you can trust and rely on.

 
 

How do your hobbies influence what you make?

B: I enjoy sailing, we have a sailboat on Lake Superior. The Spaulding boat shoe is a direct inspiration from being on the water. It’s definitely my go-to shoe while sailing. Our Harrier outsole is super lightweight and gives surprisingly excellent grip on the boat and dock.

 

How do you get ideas for new products and photo shoots?

B: A lot of ideas come from vintage footwear. Gokey was a footwear manufacturer based in Minnesota that offered a wide variety of styles and I’m always scanning eBay and other sources for interesting designs they had. As for ideas that are finally produced, we try to envision the customer and how each style will be used on a daily basis. With that in mind, we work towards structuring a photo that would resonate with that vision. Additionally. we’ve been lucky to partner with some really great brand ambassadors who naturally work well with our existing styles and we give them freedom to be creative with our products in the field.

 

What's been your biggest challenge?

B: Our biggest challenge has been getting our brand in front of people. Lanona is a true bootstrapped operation and we don’t have investors or a trust fund to dip into to put towards a sizable marketing and advertisement budget. We have to rely on word of mouth, and let our products speak for themselves. This is a slow growth approach, but we believe that operating lean now, will pay off down the road.

 
 
Write here...

What are your inspirations?

B: A big part of my inspiration for Lanona is weather related. Having a home base in Minnesota, the elements can get pretty harsh, especially in the winter. Our products need to accommodate for that fluctuation in temperatures and weather conditions. Another inspiration is the focus on sourcing and producing all of our products in the US. Working closely with everyone involved with our production of our brand is inspirational and motivation to continue to grow our business and be competitive within a global market.

 
 

What's been your best advice you've been given?

B: As we continue to grow as a brand, I like to keep this saying in mind, which was given to me from @leatherworksmn - “little pigs get bigger, big pigs get slaughtered”

 

What has been your biggest lesson?

B: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Focus on what products or services resonate best with your company and build off of that. Don’t compromise quality to accommodate growth.

 
 

What's your favorite thing about sharing Lanona with others?

B: The favorite thing is seeing our product out on the streets. It’s great to see what was originally a concept/design/sample, turn into a boot that someone wears around town.

 

For more on Ben and the story of Lanona, visit www.lanona.co

December | Week 3

Zack Peterson

Today marks the day for Week 3 of our December Playlist series, and this week it’s a bubblegum pop Christmas! We’ve covered country and indie/rock so far, and now it’s time for a new genre of cheer to make it’s way through. Featuring the ultra sweet sounds of holiday pop favorites, such as *NSYNC, Ariana Grande, Wham! and more, this playlist is sure to get you in that extra festive spirit! It’s a blast in a red and green colored martini glass for cryin’ out loud! Make sure you’re not behind, only nine more days until days until Christmas and seven until our Week 4 Playlist comes to town! Be sure to follow us on Spotify, and tweet us your favorite Christmas pop anthems this season!

 
  1. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - The Jackson 5
  2. Man With The Bag - Jessie J
  3. White Christmas - Michael Bublé and Shania Twain
  4. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays - *NSYNC
  5. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday - Kylie Minogue
  6. Baby, It's Cold Outside - Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey
  7. Underneath the Tree - Kelly Clarkson
  8. Last Christmas - Wham!
  9. Santa Tell Me - Ariana Grande
  10. That's Christmas to Me - Pentatonix
  11. Oh Holy Night - Christina Aguilera
  12. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Sam Smith
  13. All I Want for Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey

Pursuit of Intimacy: An Interview with Dusty St. Amand

Christophe Chaisson

Dusty St. Amand is an incredibly talented photographer living in New York that we had the pleasure of interviewing. His work is absolutely beautiful and can definitely be described as sexy. Be prepared to have your breath taken away. 


Christophe: When did you first become interested in photography?

Dusty: I’ve had my eyes on erotic and/or pornographic media for a *long* time. I’ve always been inspired (whether it sent me towards good or ruin) by the way homosexual sex and intimacy was depicted in art and in the media. I’d venture to say that an obsession with intimacy has pushed it out of my personal life and into what is now my photography. The camera is how I choose to participate in conversations about the sexual and emotional lives of men. I’ve been playing with cameras for just under a decade but I’ve been more focused on shooting with intent for the past 3 years.

 

C: Were you self-taught or did you learn in school/from a mentor?

 

D: I’ve been fortunate enough to grab a lot of technical information from friends and from the photographers who used to photograph me (I “modeled” as, like, an "art-hobby"). From the shoot to the final photos, I was absorbing a lot know-how from the other side of the lens. I follow a lot photographers on Instagram who I see myself reflected in. With really open eyes, I take notes from them constantly. All the photo info in my head was entirely self-sought, but communally taught.

 
 

C: How did you develop your style?

D: I think limitations guide your style. I used to live in the Bronx with a tiny, narrow kitchen that I shot in. I had one tall blueish softbox light that barely fit in front of the models and I taped a grey curtain to the far wall. And I only had a fixed 85mm lens, so I’d have to press myself into the last inch of the opposite corner in order to fit the model in the frame. All of my images were coming out with extreme shadows and were often cropped into specific body parts. My obsessive nature started to thrive in that light scenario. It was moody and sensual and sexy and sad. And that’s the vibe I incorporate into everything now.

 

C: What themes do you explore through your work?

 

D: I play with identity. Sometimes I want the people in my images to have no discernible face or name so that more viewers can look on with empathy, less altered by bias or attraction.


When you boil an intimate and/or sexual experience with another person, so rarely are you absorbing all of the visual information they offer in one scope (as a photograph would). We take one another in through glimpses. Flashes of tone and motion. I like to see those vignettes that make you feel like you’re there. A neck, shiny from a kiss. The middle of the back where the muscles butterfly outward. The gap in the teeth. The belly, overgrown with fur. My work is occasionally lonesome. Occasionally manic and egotistical. To me, it’s delicate.

 

C: How do you find and choose your subjects or locations?

D: Many of the people I have photographed have not been purposeful models. A lot of them have been friends and lovers who I happened to have near my camera. But a lot of them have also been those dudes that twinkle to me. They’re either beautiful in some specific way or they’re fresh off a big achievement or they vibrate somewhere near the weird plane of thought I live on. Locations are so circumstantial. If terroir is important to whatever I’m trying to express, I do what I can to organically factor the surroundings into the work. I like to go walk and shoot too.

 

C: What inspires your work?

 

D: How delicate masculinity is. Taboo feelings towards sex. My pursuit of intimacy. Humorous men who are honest with themselves.
Sex workers.
Porn.
Dance.
The body compartmentalization and dehumanization of the people we fuck.

 

 

C: How do you compose an image? Do you go into the shoot with a specific shot in mind, or does the inspiration strike when you place your model in the setting?

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D: The latter. I try a ton of different settings throughout and see what sticks. If it’s a winning location, I take my time and compose things. Otherwise I’m just buzzing about, clicking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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C: What has been your biggest lesson learned through creating your art?
 

                                    D: How to balance performativity in work and life- learning to commit to things because I love them not because I want to be perceived as loving something.

C: Why did you choose your craft?


D: It’s my way of telling stories in a very digital image-centric cultural.

C: What do you hope your art says to people?

D: That intimacy is something everyone needs and deserves.

 

C: How hard was it to become profitable at it?

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D: I’m still working on that but… if you can manage to find a good client or a good array of clients that pay you enough to keep yourself a float and maybe then some, reinvest into yourself while you have the money to do it. Freelance jobs often won’t have deductions in your pay, so a huge tax bill can hit you if you’re not managing and writing off expenses to balance that a bit. It’s kind of a feast or famine career (not photography in general, but this very unique career that I’m still in the process of starting).

 

C: Any suggestions to newcomers to the field?

 

D: I’m totally still a newcomer to photography, in a technical sense, but I’ve been an artist within some medium or another my whole life… so let’s say the field is “profitable art when you’re a person who finally reached their breaking point and vowed to stop working for other people in jobs that brought you misery”. Just do what you love.

Make work that’s you, through and through. Devote your time and resources (whenever possible) to getting better, networking, and promoting your work. All of the work that’s come my way is from clients who found me because they love what I’m already generating.

 

C: If you couldn’t be doing your craft, what would you do instead?

D: Singing
while gardening.

 

 

C: Any favorite moments of your career so far?

D: I’m currently shooting a large portion of the visual assets that Grindr uses to market themselves globally. Millions of people engage with my images every time they’re featured. Getting hired by them (and subsequently hired again and again) has been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding professional experiences I’ve had. Shooting HBO’s ‘Looking’ star, Raul Castillo, was pretty rad. And I got to photograph this kid that I was really mean to when I was like 11 years old and we became friends.

 

C: What would you do differently if you could start from scratch?

 

 

 

D: I’d fill more of my time with technical training (lighting and studio management) so that I’d have been able to utilize those skills to support myself during slow financial times.

 

 

 

 

 

C: Is there a defining moment in your career so far?

 

D: I had my own solo art show at The Leslie+Lohman Museum for Gay and Lesbian Arts, in Manhattan, during this past Pride. The show ran for three days and I sold three pieces into the museum’s collection. That was pretty fucking major.

C: Is there anything you really enjoy in your craft vs another line of work?

D: I like that I’m able to engage people in honest, emotional conversation as opposed to hiding my feelings for the sake of hospitality.

 

C: Biggest pet peeve about the industry?

D: There are so many industries attached to photography, so I definitely can’t speak to everyone’s experiences. But I can address concern within the social/artistic queer sphere that I find myself in- I just want people to maintain some level of clear-headedness when it comes to comparing oneself to the curated projection of people’s lives and personas. These flat, tiled images are rooted in reality but they aren’t reflective of the way things truly are. They aren’t full truths.

 

Ben: Is flannel really always appropriate?

D: I don’t think I own any, but I also don’t try to be appropriate.


I for one am very happy Dusty isn't just singing in a garden. His passion for photography and people is definitely displayed in his powerful and beautiful work. You can see more of his work on his website and Instagram.

Instagram: @Dusterzdeux

Website: SuchDustyPhotos

Our Favorite Holiday Fudge

Christophe Chaisson

Fudge isn't just a holiday dessert, it is a lifestyle. I normally advocate healthy eating and living, yet when it comes to fudge, just throw sugar intake and serving size out the window. I have always been mesmerized by the wide diversity of fudge flavors, so to discover some that embody the holiday season makes this year a whole lot sweeter. If you're a fan of fudge, Christmas, and all things delicious get ready for some mouthwatering delights. 


 

Hot Chocolate Fudge by Wonky Wonderful

Curling up with a cup of a hot chocolate is a holiday staple. The slightest chill in the air is a reason enough to break out the cocoa. This year you don't have to just enjoy the pleasure of drinking hot chocolate, but devouring it as well. You don't have to be a professional confectioner to make it either; it's 4 ingredients and made in the microwave!  The sweetness of milk chocolate combined with the creaminess of white chocolate topped with marshmallow goodness is reason enough to throw a holiday party.  

Recipe on Wonky Wonderful

 

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut fudge by The view from Great Island

Hazelnut isn't just a flavor for lattes or Nutella, it adds the perfect crunch to this silky smooth fudge. This is a rich, filling fudge that will leave you satisfied, yet always manages to convince you to take another nibble. Dark chocolate and nuts are a timeless combination that pair well with holiday season. Fudge always makes for a wonderful gift that is easy to make and even easier to eat. It may not be that easy to give away once you have a taste though!

Recipe on The View From Great Island

 

eggnog Fudge by baking beauty

 

Another favorite holiday drink has been transformed into edible satisfaction. This creamy eggnog fudge will have you singing Christmas carols in seconds. Quick and easy to make, this a must for your holiday parties. Topped with nutmeg, these delicious bites make for truly happy holidays. 

Recipe on Baking Beauty

 

Candy cane fudge by barefeet Kitchen

By the time the December rolls around, there always seems to be an abundance of candy canes to go around. Whether for decorating or eating, these peppermint treats seem to surround the holiday season. They definitely are a Christmas Classic, but it doesn't hurt to add a little something extra to the mix. Especially when that little something is scrumptious chocolate fudge. Oh, did I mention it only takes 5 minutes to make? Never again am I going to throw away perfectly good candy canes now that I have this simple and delicious recipe. 

Recipe on Barefeet Kitchen

 

Gingerbread Fudge By DELISH

It's not Christmas without gingerbread, whether houses or little cookie men. I enjoy the flavor thoroughly, but they tend to be quite dry. Not anymore! Now we can enjoy the spiced goodness of gingerbread complemented with the smooth, silkiness of fudge. You're gingerbread house might may make for a festive decoration; this fudge will make a flavorful sweet feast for all your friends and family to enjoy. 

Recipe on Delish

 

Okay, enough waiting. Go put on some Christmas tunes and turn your kitchen into your own personal fudge factory. I'm sure your mouth is watering just as much as mine, so enough reading! Pick a recipe and start fudging! 

Our Favorite Gingerbread Recipes

Christophe Chaisson

Christmas is just over two weeks away from now, which basically means it'll be here before we know it. To make the holidays more festive we are compiling all of favorites of the Christmas season. You can make all these treats and crafts with friends and family or even to give out as presents. Lets spread love and joy (and sugar) this holiday season.

 

Soft Gingerbread Cookies by Made to Be Momma

 

You can never have enough cookies during the Christmas season. Whether you are leaving them for Santa or eating the whole cookie sheet yourself, these soft gingerbread cookies are scrumptious. Perfectly soft and spiced, this recipe makes cookies that will practically melt in your mouth. 

Made to Be Momma Website

 

Gingerbread Pancakes by Cooking Classy

Why not start your day off right by whipping up a batch of gingerbread pancakes? The spiced sweetness of gingerbread paired with the fluffiness of pancakes makes for a delicious breakfast. Chowing down on these pancakes while enjoying a nice cup of coffee is the perfect way to start the day filled with the holiday spirit. 

Cooking Classy's Website

 

Gingerbread Loaf by Taste's of Lizzy T's                     

 

For all of you loaf lovers, this is the perfect seasonal recipe for you. This gingerbread quick bread is a recipe that has been perfected. The soft, sliceable loaf has the perfect consistency. Aromas of molasses, nutmeg, and ginger filling the air are reason enough to give this delicious a try. This is simple recipe makes a tasty gift for friends, family, and neighbors! 

Tastes of Lizzy T's Website

 

Chewy Gingerbread Brownie by I Heart Eating

 

Brownies are my absolute favorite dessert, so to find a gingerbread brownie recipe was a Christmas dream come true! These brownies are soft and chewy and have the distinct gingerbread flavor perfectly partnered with chocolate. If you're looking for a way to spice up your brownies and make them more festive, this recipe is a definitely for you. 

I Heart Eating's Website

 

Gingerbread Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting by My Busy Family

Cupcakes are never a bad idea, especially when they are topped with cream cheese frosting. Throw gingerbread into the mix and you have an irresistible Christmas treat. These cupcakes are moist and wonderfully spiced. Perfect for parties, not only will they leave a yummy taste in your mouth but will fill the air with the scent of cinnamon, ginger,  allspice, and all things nice. 

 

My Busy Family's Website

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These recipes are incredible and we hope you and your stomach enjoy following them. Baking is a wonderful opportunity to get together with family and friends and create something delicious all while spreading Christmas cheer. 

December | Week 2

Zack Peterson

It's Week 2 of our December Playlist series today and we hope you're just as excited as we are! This week's playlist is curated to fit the likes for all of you hipsters out there with impressive enough beards even you might get mistaken for Santa Claus. So let that moody, natural lighting in, take a VSCO filtered Instagram photo of your trendy yet minimal Christmas decor, and listen to the sweet sounds of Paul McCartney, The Lumineers, She & Him and many more. Don't lose track, only seventeen days until Christmas, and eight until our December Week 3 Playlist! Make sure to follow us on Spotify so you don't miss a beat (literally), and tweet us your favorite holiday jingle suggestions!

 
  1. Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town - Bruce Springsteen
  2. Santa Stole My Lady - Fitz and The Tantrums
  3. Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney
  4. You're Just Like Christmas - The Crookes
  5. The Man with the Bag - She & Him
  6. Thank God It's Christmas - Queen
  7. A Great Big Sled - The Killers + Toni Halliday
  8. Lonely This Christmas - Lucky Soul
  9. Tracks In The Snow - The Civil Wars
  10. Christmas Lights - Coldplay
  11. Blue Christmas - The Lumineers
  12. Happy Xmas ( War Is Over) - John Lennon
  13. All I Want for Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey

December | Week 1

Zack Peterson

Happy December, y'all! Today is an extra festive day not only because this is our first ever playlist, but because we're launching the first of four holiday playlists for this month! Four weeks until Christmas means a new playlist each week. Every playlist is separated by genre, and what better way to kick things off than with a two-steppin', nothing but twang, country Christmas! Featuring twelve holiday classics sung by country artists both new and old, along with a Christmas hit to really get you in the extra festive spirit, give this playlist a listen while sitting by the fire, in the kitchen whippin' up some family recipe sweets, or even in a rocker on the porch. Be sure to follow us on Spotify, and let us know which Christmas songs you enjoy on Twitter! Now y'all come on back next week for an all new playlist, ya hear?

 
  1. Country Christmas - Loretta Lynn
  2. Christmas Cookies - George Strait
  3. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley
  4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Kelsea Ballerini
  5. Let It Be Christmas - Alan Jackson
  6. Tennessee Christmas - Amy Grant
  7. Christmas Makes Me Cry - Kacey Musgraves
  8. Silent Night - Johnny Cash
  9. Hard Candy Christmas - Dolly Parton
  10. Celebrate Me Home - LeAnn Rimes
  11. Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town - Faith Hill
  12. Winter Wonderland - Brett Eldredge
  13. All I Want for Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey

Our Favorite Brooklyn Instagrams

Zack Peterson

As we prepare for American Field - Brooklyn to take place this weekend, we wanted to share with y'all just some of our favorite Brooklyn Instagrams! Which Brooklyn Instagrams are you following that you think we should be following as well? Let us know! Can't wait to see you at American Field this weekend!

 

 

@brightbazaar

Will Taylor is the creator of the colourfully popular blog Bright.Bazaar and author of two successful interior design books, photographing his vivid journeys one photo at a time.

 

 

@ryanfitzgibbon

Ryan Fitzgibbon is the founder of a bi-annually published magazine, beautifully curated to explore the stories of men who date men, better known as Hello Mr. And he also happens to take wonderful photos as well.

 

 

@JustinLiv

New York City lifestyle blogger of Scout Sixteen, Justin Livingston writes about fashion, home, and travel to inspire and seek new discoveries for others.

 

 

@SweetPaulMagazine

Drawing inspiration from his Norwegian aunts and grandmother, Sweet Paul is an adorable and cuddly lifestyle. With modern and elevated Scandinavian design in mind he creates a colorful world of crafts, food, and lifestyle content.

 
 

 

@tuckerstanton

He's not just another freckle-faced kid, Tucker Stanton Howe is a king of casual luxury, travel, and style. A Texas born New Yorker with an eye for design, the elegant masculine form, and his pup, Theodore.

American Field - Nashville

Zack Peterson

 

This past weekend we had the pleasure of being at American Field's first pop-up market in Nashville, Tennessee. Taking place at Track One, just outside from downtown, an eclectic and creative group of American made makers opened up shop to the people of Music City. We wanted to feature a few of our favorite brands in attendance who we feel should be your favorites too. Check 'em out! Photos by Zack Peterson

Be sure to come to the next American Field market happening in Brooklyn, NY on December 3rd and 4th! For more details, click here and don't forget to follow American Field on social media (Instagram, Twitter)!

 

 
 

B u l l

a n d

B u c k

Boston, MA

Ball and Buck; a brand designed around one mans vision to create the best American made clothing. Created for the man that believes in quality, integrity, tradition, the wildness, and the excellence that only American can produce.

 

For more on Ball and Buck, visit ballandbuck.com or follow on Instagram, @ballandbuck

 
 

 
 

R A N G E R

S T I T C H

Nashville, TN

Nashville local Matt Davidson is the master behind the machine of Ranger Stitch. Creating beautiful custom Chain stitched art in the bed of his Ford Ranger, this one of a kind look is a forever classic.

 

For more on Ranger Stitch, visit rangerstitch.com or follow on Instagram, @rangerstitch

 

 
 

T H R O N E

W A T C H E S

Brooklyn, NY

Starting out by giving vintage watch faces new life by re-strapping them with a  new, top quality leather band, Throne Watches has seen much success since launching. Now having made three original lines (1.0, 1.5, and 2.0) as well as various leather goods, the guys at Throne are eager to see what time will tell for them.

 

For more on Throne Watches, visit thronewatches.com or follow on Instagram, @thronewatches

 

 
 

L I L Y A N 

J A M E S

Nashville, TN

 

With a handbag collection made from equestrian leatherwork, Lilyan James' philosophy behind each and every piece is to cater to the everyday woman; creating lifelong bags that are each individualistic in their own way. Whether you're on your way to a meeting, wandering around the city at night, or rushing out the door for brunch, each shape of every accessory is crafted to help you live your best life.

 

For more on Lilyan James, visit lilyanjames.com or follow on Instagram, @lilyanjames

 

 
 

W H E A T

& CO.

Nashville, TN

Dan Rouse of Wheat & Co. offers a top notch selection of quality made apparel and lifestyle goods right here in Nashville. Partnering with local barbershop Scouts, the two believe that quality wins all for a purposeful life. 

 

 

For more on Wheat & Co, visit wheatandco.com or follow on Instagram, @wheatandco

 

 
 

M O R T O N

&

M A B E L

Nashville, TN

 

The best in children's clothing is here, and it's brought to you by Mortan & Mabel. Started on the idea that clothing for growing kids should be simple and timeless, while being made with the finest of fabrics to be passed on for many years. Made in the U.S.A. and working with Soles4Souls, there's no other way to dress the next generation.

 

For more on Morton & Mabel, visit mortonandmabel.com or follow on Instagram, @mortanandmabel

 

 

Capturing Coffee Culture : One Cortado at a Time

Christophe Chaisson

No better way to start a Monday than doing it with a cup of coffee in your hand. Coffee isn't just a bitter brown liquid with caffeine, rather coffee has its own culture and ability to gather community.  Grab yourself a cup however you like it and join me and Laurie Unger as she talks about coffee and photography. 

 

 

Christophe: What is your favorite coffee shop?

Laurie: My favorite coffee shop is Zoka @zokacoffeein Kirkland, Washington.  The high ceilings and the light and airy atmosphere is what originally drew me in, but the coffee and sense of community keeps me coming back.

 

 

 

 

 

C: What Is your favorite coffee shop drink?

L: A Cortado or a triple espresso is my drink of choice.  I occasionally will drink both if my energy level needs a boost. I really enjoy tasting the flavors of strong coffee so I don’t usually drink coffees that have lots of milk in them.  

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                        

C: What makes a good coffee shop?

L: A coffee shop that is flooded with natural light and a good design sense (especially if it has lots of black and white) is always my first choice.  Of course, great coffee is the most obvious, but without good lighting it is a no go.  I live in the Pacific Northwest and there are a lot of grey days and rain. Light and bright is important to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

C: Why do you love coffee/coffee culture?

L: The coffee culture has brought in a modern sense of community/gathering place. It is more than just drinking coffee; it is an experience wherein in you can enjoy meeting up with friends, conducting business, or just relaxing and taking time to enjoy a cup of coffee any way you might like it.

 

 

C: Your favorite coffee culture photo tip?

L: Paying attention to natural light is perhaps the single most important step in taking a good photo. I always try to be aware of what time of day it is, weather conditions and the direction of the light.  Walls, tables and floors are always good backdrops to be aware of so that the picture is interesting.



 

Laurie captures everyday bright moments that adds a special light to the day. She finds the adventure in the simplicity and joys of everyday life. To follow more of her creative journey, you can find her on Instagram here: @:LAURIEUNGER

It is now time to pour ourselves another cup.

Happy Monday everyone!

Queer Expression: An Interview with Kirk Lorenzo

Christophe Chaisson

Kirk Lorenzo, a queer Latino from New York City, shared with us his journey of discovering a passion for photography. His work gives voice and sheds light on topics such as identity and queerness.

Embrace yourself, Express yourself. Love yourself.

Christophe: When did you first become interested in photography?
Kirk: Ooof, ummm...I wanna say sometime in early high school. When I was super obsessed with having a very well curated tumblr blog! My blog consisted of photographs and illustrations I found to be beautiful and inspiring, so that interest has sort of been there for a while. I just never acted upon it till my first year of college; four years later when I finally picked up a camera!


C: Were you self-taught or did you learn in school/from a mentor?
 

 

K: I've been in an art specialized learning institution for the past eight years of my life, so all of it has been learned from teachers, professors and other practicing artists!

 

                                     

                                                      C: How did you develop your style?
 

K: Hahaha, definitely via tumblr! Who hasn't fallen in love with a beautiful VSCO film emulated photo on tumblr? However I don't use VSCO as often in my own work, but I do give my photos a film-y emulation I've put together myself on photoshop.

 

C: What themes do you explore through your work?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              K: Being a queer man, sex, non-monagamy, queerness, bsdm, and politics such as race, class, age and gender.

C: How do you find and choose you subjects or locations?


K: Towards the beginning it was a lot of asking guys I hooked up with if I could photograph them, so I'd find these men via Grindr and Scruff ("Dating" Apps for queer men), though mainly Scruff. Then Instagram and now its a mix of those two plus Facebook and folks I've meet in night life/friends of friends! Locations? I tend to wander a lot by myself, I'm also constantly on google maps searching for the "green areas", and if it's not an outdoors location it's sometimes and indoor location that can be anywhere from a friends place I've visited, to a subjects home, to a bar, etc.

 

                                             C: What inspires your work?

                                  K: Sex, nature, sex!
Hahaha, but on a serious note yes sex, nature, but also night life, queerness, bsdm and the politics that surround our everyday lives!

 
 
 

C: How do you compose an image? Do you go into the shoot with a specific shot in mind, or does the inspiration strike when you place your model in the setting?
 

 

K: I started composing my images for the purpose of how I curated them on Instagram, but now its just become second nature and I do it even with my images that I deem more "fine art." However it tends to be a mix of both, I do go into a shoot with a specific shot in mind but the inspiration also often strikes in the moment too!

 

 

 

 

C: What do you hope your art says to people?

K: These queer bodies existed, were resilient, and pushed through.

C: What has been your biggest lesson learned through creating your art?
 

K: Learning how to trust myself.

JasperC_018.jpg
 

C: Why did you choose your craft(photography)?
K: I came out of high school certain that I was gonna be a painter but when I got into college I realized I was getting frustrated with not being able to articulate what I wanted to say as quick as I wanted to say it. Being a slow painter on top of how slow painting is as a medium, was getting to me. So I ended up picking up a camera, and became relieved at how in sync I was with the pace of the medium.

C: How hard was it to become profitable at it? 
K: Hahaha, it's still hard. I wouldn't say I'm anywhere near as profitable at what I'm doing as I'd like to be, but I don't doubt I will be soon. Currently finishing up school is consuming a lot of my time so I just need to finish up school so I can start filling up this wallet!

 

C: Any suggestions to newcomers to the field?
K:Trust yourself, remember that there's not one way to do things, be ethical, and stay humble!

 

 

 

 

C: If you couldn’t be doing your craft, what would you do instead?
K: Ooop, I don't like this question haha! I've always led myself to believe that art is the only thing I'm good at. I don't like following directions, I don't like being told what to do, and I DO NOT like 9-5s haha. But for the purpose of this question I'd have to say something along the lines of an outdoors instructor, flight attendant, night life stuff or like social work or something.

 
 

C: What would you do differently if you could start from scratch?
 

K: Not a single thing!


C: Any favorite moments of your career so far?
 

K: Oh oh oh! I'd have to say meeting the beautiful and inspirational people I use to see on my tumblr feed who I wouldn't have thought I'd ever meet and getting to befriend them as well as being able to photograph them. All the internal fan girling I've done throughout my career thus far is kinda humorous!

C: Is there a defining moment in your career so far?
K: Constant ones, moments like this where others want to interview me about my me or my work, the messages I get from others asking me that they want my work in their publication, as well as those messages I get from others wanting to shoot with me. We all have tons insecurities and it moments like those that remind you that you must be doing something right. Those are the most affirming moments during one's career! 

 

C: Is there anything you really enjoy in your craft vs another line of work?
K: Printing my photographs. As someone aspiring to be a fine artist when I get to print a photograph to display somewhere and get to see the image on paper and not just through as screen. It's a very blissful and magical moment.

 

C: Biggest pet peeve about the industry?
K: The politics surrounding accessibility; people who can just up and quickly purchase the latest gear and think that because they own expensive gear that It makes them a photographer. Along those same line, people who claim they're a photographer and take their access to resources for granted. There are some of us who have to work twice or even three times as hard to get access to the resources some of our "contemporaries" have. 

 

 

Ben: Is flannel really always appropriate? 
K: Depends are you aiming for some masc4masc foolishness? Or are you serving some butch queen looks?

Photography is a powerful form of expression that Kirk uses well. His art is barrier shattering, dialogue creating, and all around beautiful. To continue following Kirk's work you can click on the links below. Instagram: @kirk.lorenzo  Website: kirklorenzo

An Interview with Photographer Beau Simmons

Christophe Chaisson

Beau Simmons is a 26 year old photographer/cinematographer living in Laguna Niguel, CA. His fresh creative outlook provides amazing content that is never boring or repetitive. Whether it is landscapes or portraits, you can be sure his photography will be beautiful and the highest of quality. 


When did you first become interested in photography?
“I first became interested in photography at a pretty young age when my Father was a film photographer/sports journalist. It didn’t become a serious profession until about 2013 though.”

How did you develop your style?

“Lots of late nights spent on my computer and head banging to hard rock music.”

Were you self-taught or did you learn in school/from a mentor?
“Self-taught”

What themes do you explore through your work?
“I like to either capture old school 70’s/90’s looks or put the model in a very unique location/landscape.”

How do you find and choose you subjects or locations?
“I love to visit National Parks and find new places or I find random spots in neighborhoods with great lighting.”

What inspires your work?
“Always looking back at photos I’ve taken and thinking of new ways to recreate them.”

How do you compose an image? Do you go into the shoot with a specific shot in mind, or does the inspiration strike when you place your model in the setting?
“I tend to be pretty tedious with my shots. I usually put the outfits, poses, and locations in my notes and just shoot until I have everything I wanted.”

What has been your biggest lesson learned through creating your art?
“Don’t look at other photographer’s work. Stick to one style.”

What do you hope your art says to people?
“This shit is amazing.”

Check him out on Instagram @beausimmons to continue seeing moments of beautiful people in stunning places. We have enjoyed following Beau for a while now and it was a privilege to get together and hear more of his journey as a photographer.