I Wanna Be You: James Douglas

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I’m a little overly-excited to bring you this next installment in the “I Wanna Be You” series. Why? Because I had the chance to sit down with a really groovy photographer who decided — with his own free will — to leave New York City and move to Cleveland.

Meet James Douglas of The James Douglas Studio:

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Since arriving in the 216 about a year and a half ago, he’s wasted little time establishing himself as one of the city’s premier photographers. Besides shooting with models from Taxi Talent Management, James and his small-but-mighty crew (Cleveland-native Julia Toke, (AKA “Jules”), serves as his Senior Producer and his own wifey, Erica, fills the role of manager) are already in the production phase for a series of short films entitled “The Blue Laws,” a satirical look at the absurdity of certain state ordinances. For this project, James enlisted the help of his buddies over at “Purple Films,” a–you guessed it–Cleveland-based independent video production company. Oh yeah, and he’s currently in the process of looking for land on which to build a house and start a family. Sounds like alot, huh? Lucky for me, he and Jules made some time for me to come and snoop around …

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Age: 29

Degree: BFA in Digital Communications, University of Delaware

Current Gig:  founder/owner of The James Douglas Studio

Why Cleveland?: (James was born and raised in the greater D.C. area, while Erica grew up in North Olmsted.) “It’s always good to have family nearby. We knew we wanted to move eventually; I wasn’t going to raise a family in New York City.” One thing James credits CLE for is its unexpected art scene. After visiting a few times, it became apparent that the city had just what he was looking for, without the price tag of Manhattan. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘Oh this is the Gordon Square Arts District… wait, WHAT!?’ It definitely opened my eyes a little bit.”  The couple finally settled about a year and a half ago in Fairview Park, an easy decision considering “…the Fathead’s Brewery is right there!” And for James, as I soon discovered, libations are no trivial matter. When asked if he has yet adopted a personal mantra of some sort, his answer came without a moment of  hesitation: “Blood, Sweat and Beers.” A true Clevelander at heart, you guys.

Favorite Places to Eat: “Do I have to name just one?” was his response. So we crafted a handy chart based on one’s predicament and/or location at time of said hunger.

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So how does James think our lovely little Mistake on the Lake compares to the Big Apple? “It won’t chew you up and spit you out in quite the same way as Manhattan. It’s a small(er) place where you can get a ton of things done, but (still) with a big-city vibe.” And if you’re looking to “vibe” with The James Douglas Studio anytime soon, don’t be a stranger. As I so quickly learned from my first encounter, he’s always open to working with new people and learning from those in his craft. Take, for example, his view on collaboration: “Come on over for beers and let’s talk shop.”  Something tells me he is going to be just fine making new friends in Cleveland.

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Why Matt Nathanson Should Come Back to Cleveland Soon

Somehow between ridding my closet of its summer attire and carving pumpkins, (OK, let’s be honest– I didn’t “carve” my pumpkin, per say. I painted it white and sprayed glitter on it. Because I am a creative visionary), I lost track of the time. And now BOOM! It’s November. We’re one delicious meal of turkey and stuffing away from Santy coming to town. Or, in my case, Santy AND Hanukkah Harry.

But let’s not get TOO ahead of ourselves. Looking back, I made sure to have a puhretty damn good end of October. Here are some highlights:

Picking up lox (read: smoked salmon) from Kate’s Fish at the West Side Market

Thrifting at Deja Vu in Lakewood

Getting my Yellow Cake “Hullabaloo” tix (…and watching owner/designer Valerie Mayen finish up pieces for the show!)

Eating unnecessary amounts of candy corn and pumpkin spice Hershey Kisses

Dressing up as Target Lady from Saturday Night Live for Halloween

…and finally, going to see Matt Nathanson and Joshua Radin at the House of Blues this past Sunday.

In addition to being a child of the 90s, I also consider myself to be a social media celebrity whisperer. One time I tweeted at one of The Real Housewives of New Jersey and she responded within a few minutes. And fortunately, it would appear that I haven’t yet lost my groove; a similar situation happened after Mr. Nathanson played Sunday night .

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… and ya know what? He really should. Because I bet November has just as much in store.

The Little Things: Coming Home

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This past weekend I made the trek down to Ohio University for my very first Homecoming Weekend as, AHEM, a bona fide alumna.

Since graduating this past May, I haven’t really even had the time to be homesick for my alma mater.  Between traveling this summer and starting my big-girl job this fall, all the beloved memories of OU seemed a bit foggy.* Or, at the very least, fall secondary to the new memories I’ve been making here in Cleveland.

*With, of course, the exception of craving Souvlaki’s gyros every Friday night around 2 AM. Those f*ckers are not easily replaced.

But all it took was 24 hours in the magical microcosm that is Athens, OH to remind me just what I’ve been missing:

As my one friend put it, it’s the people you miss when you graduate and move out of Athens, not so much the place itself. This is partly true; some of the relationships I built over the last four years are comparable to those I’ve had my whole life to cultivate. But there’s something special about this college town and the way you miss it just like you would an old friend. And fortunately for me, Athens and I picked up right where we left off.

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I’m excited for Cleveland to become my second home-away-from-home .  After all, I’m sure I can find a decent gyro place up here, too.

Tasty Tuesdays: Wine & Dine Me

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf

 

Happy Tuesday!

 

 

In the past week I’ve been lucky enough to check two items off of my ever-growing list of places to eat. Seeing as I’ll be making the trek down to my alma mater this weekend, where Natty Light and cheap liquor will be a flowin’ in mass quantities, I was all for spending more than usual at happy hour. And that’s a decision I’m not regretting. At all.

 

1. Humble Wine Bar in Lakewood :

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Pumpkin creme brulee and white sangria

Nothing says fall quite like a heaping mass of pumpkin puree drizzled in honey and topped with a peanut brittle wafer. I washed it all down (yes, “all”… no sharing for this girl) with a glass of white sangria that tasted surprisingly like 7Up. That is, if 7Up cost $8 a pop and included fresh slices of fruit.

2. Prosperity Social Club in Tremont

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Pimms Ginger Cup

I love Prosperity! The atmosphere itself is reason enough to go. I sat outside on the back patio, (which looks like something out of a 1960’s campground:  twinkle lights, colorful lawn chairs, and vintage posters), and ordered based on the waiter’s suggestion. I’m a sucker for anything with Pimms after studying abroad in London, so this sucker did the trick.

 

 

Cheers (literally) to new places and big-girl beverages! x0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Little Things: It’s OK.

It’s been a while since my last post and I’m chalking it up to being busy. Busy and tired. Work is finally starting to feel like, well, work. The days are growing shorter and getting out of bed in the morning seems like the absolute worst idea in the world. To top it all off I caught a cold that decided to make its home in my body for THREE WHOLE WEEKS. Cue the violins.

But here are a few things that kept me going, even amidst some crappiness.

1. Going to see my sister’s football game last Saturday.

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2. Getting to wear boots for the first time since last winter.

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Boots: Sam Edelman, Nordstrom

3. Being featured on one of my favorite blogs, “Polish my Crown,” and catching up with its writer/creator, my friend Andi .

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4. Celebrating my roommate Nicole’s birthday — and remembering why I’m so lucky to have her around.

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5. Running in the  11th annual Akron marathon… and managing to keep a puhretty nice pace for my share of the relay.

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And finally, remembering that it’s ok to have days or even weeks where you feel out of it.  I love this excerpt by Chelsea Fagan from Thought Catalog:

Perhaps most of all, though, you deserve to be okay. You deserve to know that a day in which you can just barely get out of bed because you are sad, or sick, or simply not ready to see the outside is not the end of the world. You deserve to know that moments of weakness do not make you fundamentally weak, only fundamentally human, and that sometimes we’re not going to be effusively happy, and that is okay. You deserve to be happy just existing and not constantly holding yourself up to a standard of fake smiles and forced cheerfulness. You deserve to not beat yourself up when you do not reach perfect acceptance of your body, your personality, the love you receive, or anything else that may come your way. Though you should know that you are worthy of these things, learning to be happy just in a kind of stasis with yourself is a long process, and you should know that we are all working on it. You deserve to live through all of your emotions, all of your states of motivation, and know that as long as you are treating everyone with kindness (including yourself), you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and quick week. xo

Song(s) of Summer’s Ending

“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
―    William Shakespeare

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I know it all too well, that it’s time I accepted the date on the calendar and resign myself to being content with the happy summer I spent in New York and Cleveland. This time of year is always sad to me; not because I hate fall, but because it’s just so sad to say goodbye to summer. I miss wearing shorts and sweating my makeup off at the pool. I miss eating ice cream for dinner and not having to worry about drying my hair. Pumpkin flavored everything helps fill the void, but sometimes it’s nice to simply reflect and feel a bit down. Here’s your playlist for that.

1. summer skin

Death Cab for Cutie’s melancholy tune brings so much visual imagery to mind– fading tan lines, peeling skin, and long hazy days filled with the dread of fall approaching. I fell in love with this song during high school, and it always makes me think of going back to school.

2. summertime sadness

Lana Del Rae’s hauntingly pretty ballad is both melodic and rhythmic. I love the techno/dance version for running, and the way the lyrics are both sad and sultry at the same time.

3. october road

I’m a fan of just about anything James Taylor turns out, and this one is no exception. The perfect piece to listen to in the car mid September when the leaves start to fall.

4. bottom of the river 

Newcomers Delta Rae have adopted a sound not unlike a mix of ZZ Ward and the Civil Wars. Their stirring harmonies and bold drums draw from slavery-era call and response hymns. The eerie tone gets me in the mood for Halloween.

5. autumn leaves 

How I love me some Ed Sheeran. This track, off his debut album, hasn’t gotten tons of airtime, but it’s a personal favorite. It’s impossible to listen to the lyrics and not feel like you’re missing someone.

6. st. patrick’s day

A John Mayer classic. You can almost hear the leaves changing color as you listen to this song. He basically takes you through the seasons from fall all the way to spring. And who wouldn’t want to spend half a year with music’s reigning guitar god?

7. winter winds 

The opening lines of this Mumford and Son’s hit takes me back to studying abroad in London during college.

As the winter winds litter London with lonely hearts
Oh the warmth in your eyes swept me into your arms

 I LOVE this track and the video that accompanies it. The trumpet just adds to the excitement of this piece, and actually makes me excited for the snow and cold.

Did I leave anything out? Let me know in a comment below, or tell me what you’ve got on rotation right now. Happy (almost) fall!

Gatsby, Old Sport.

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Due to a rather uneventful Sunday night, I decided to hoard myself up in my room and watch a recent favorite, Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby.” We read the novel in high school and ever since then I’ve had a crush on Jay Gatsby.*

*Yes, I just admitted to having feelings for a fictional character.

Die-hard book fans might not take to the hip-hop infused film version, (Jay-Z himself produced the soundtrack), but if there’s one thing the movie has going for it, it’s the visual appeal. In other words, you’ll get an eye boner from all the glitter, sparkle, champagne, sequins, and pearls. And I love that.

Plus since when did it suck to stare at a dapper dressed Leo DiCaprio for two and a half hours?

…never.

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In fashion, everything old becomes new again, and Hollywood no doubt took note of the rising popularity of 20s-era garb. Shorn hairstyles–the year of the pixie cut– and special add-ons like fringe and feathers began popping up everywhere.

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image courtesy of Free People

Carey Mulligan is stunning as Daisy.

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“I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self respect. And it’s these things I’d believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn’t all she should be. I love her and it is the beginning of everything.”

Crop-top corsets, knee-length skirts, and A-line frocks even saw their fair share of time on this past week’s runways in New York.

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Photos courtesy of Stlye.com : Christian Siriano Spring ’14 RTW

Detail-oriented accessories, sparkly headpieces, and anything gold screams roaring 20s. It’s all about the appearance of wealth– whether you have it or not.

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“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”

Of course the clothes don’t matter if you don’t have the right attitude.  It means never saying no to a good time. And never losing hope. Being an optimist. As Gatsby says,“Can’t repeat the past?… Why of course you can!”

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Now go out and be merry, Old Sport.

I Wanna Be You: Zoe Adams

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Hi! This week’s “I Wanna Be You” post was an easy pick; my friend Zoe Adams is one of Cleveland’s biggest cheerleaders.  She works for Ohio City Incorporated, thus making her the go-to lady for anything OC related. I had a hard time apartment shopping without various landlords and neighbors saying “Oh! I know Zoe!”
 
I’m feeling very lucky to have met Zoe in college– we’re both Ohio University bobcats, namely tour guide alums — and to have the opportunity to hang out with her now, in post-grad Cle.
 
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 photo: Cleveland Flea & Suzuran Photography
 
 
Age: I’m 24!
 
Degree :I have a BA from Ohio University, double major in French & Political Science
 
Current Gig: I’m the Events & Marketing Coordinator at Ohio City Incorporated and a Hostess at Bier Markt- Bar Cento
 
Your Style Summary: I like outfits to be simple, easy and I don’t wear a lot of jewelry. When I get dressed, I usually have to be able to go from multiple activities, jobs or events so I’m pretty versatile. I wear a lot of printed pants (too many), anything that reminds me of France, polka dots and stripes…
 
 Favorite places to shop in Cle: Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack, American Apparel, Sydney Sue, Winds of Change, Room Service, The Cleveland Flea. I’m ready for Downtown to have better retail.
 
Why Cle? Oh boy. When I went to college, people acted as if I shouldn’t enjoy being from Cleveland, but I have such a great life here and I felt a need to defend it. I love a lot of other cities, like Seattle (where I was born) and NYC but I feel a genuine connection to CLE where it means something to me to be here. I see Cleveland like a project- it’s more fun when there are things that haven’t been done. Since moving back after college, I have met some of the brightest, most creative, caring and genuine people who share the same passion for the city. I’m also NEVER bored.
 
 Perfect Summer Day in Cle? A Sunday with kayaking or boating in the AM. Brunch on a patio with my friends and then go to Whiskey Island. Grill at someone’s house in the evening and hit up the Parkview or Luxe for a nightcap.
 
I feel happiest when: After a hot class at Inner Bliss!
 
Best little-known spots in Cle: Ontario Street Cafe! Barking Spider!! Grovewood Tavern. Tartine. Tina’s Nite Club. Shh don’t tell anyone, k?
 
I am looking forward to: Coming up I can’t wait for: Roar Along the Shore! Cleveland Garlic Festival, the Ohio City Harvest Festival, Stars at the Beachland Ballroom, Youth Lagoon at the Grog Shop, a trip to Toronto with Column & Stripe. Let the good times roll 🙂
 
Why should people move and stay in Cle? There’s the popular cost of living reason, which actually is totally true. Beyond that, if you have an idea or a passion you can follow it here. There’s space and people will support you. The amenities are nice too- we have a rockin food scene, great arts & culture buzz, outdoor spaces to play. I’m not saying there aren’t things I would improve, but the more people who live here, the better it will be. Cleveland is changing a lot right now- the people who are here will shape it, so if you want a say, now is a great time to move to Cleveland.

On Courage.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”– e.e. cummings

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Let’s talk balls. Yeah I said it, balls. Cahonas. Nuts. Guts.

Courage.

Too often in life we pass up experiences because we’re simply too afraid. Afraid to fail, afraid to embarrass ourselves, or afraid to fall short.

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But we will do ALL of those things if we fail to do one simple thing: try.

Having the courage to build the life you want can be tough. But it’s really all we have. The choice to make the life we want to live each day is a gift we’ve all been granted. And to back down or walk away from our true desires because we’re afraid is the worst thing we can do.

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Perhaps the worst kind of fear is the fear of giving love and receiving it in return. If there’s someone you want to be with but you’re too afraid to dive in, just know that hearts can break, but they can also mend.

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It is better to love and lose than to not love at all. And the beautiful thing about being human is we are allowed more than one love in our lifetime. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said ” There are many different kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice.” Let your various relationships all mean something. Take the good things: the memories, the compassion, and the lessons, from each relationship and let them add to the wonderful collection of moments that make up who you are. Don’t feel guilty for loving multiple people in different ways…each has some value to bring to your life.

Have the courage to love- and love all the way- because not knowing or having to wonder “what if” is the saddest thing in this world.

Don’t be scared to love. Don’t be scared to try. Don’t be scared.

Courage. It’s a pretty amazing thing.

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Rock ‘n Roll ‘n Down Dog

“I practice yoga because it feels damn good.”

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Last night I went to a yoga party. WTF is that, you might be asking? Well believe it or not, sticking your feet on the back of your neck and balancing on your head can actually be a really good time.

Lululemon and Inner bliss sponsored a giant gathering of Cleveland yogis at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame downtown. From 8 to 9:30 we bended, stretched, balanced, reached and hopped amongst one another in the sunset-lit front patio of the building.

It was cool to see so many fit, mindful Clevelanders in one place. It was also funny to me that more guys didn’t come; hello, if I had a penis I would be FIRST in line at any function featuring 300+ ladies wearing spandex. Let this serve as a head’s up for any 216 bachelors.

I went with two girlfriends, and on the way there we gave thumbs up to the many yogis that chose to bike themselves to the spot. Like a cycling exodus of long, lean women.

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Afterwards we hung around briefly for some vegan snacks (cranberry lemon bars and handmade fruit bars) but ultimately decided our zen was directing us towards some heavier noshing. (Read: we got pizza and beer in Tremont.)

Can’t wait for this same event next year — and I hope to see more yogi boys in attendance.

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