Monthly Archives: December 2016

[LA Life] Say Yay to Snow Days!

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Halfway between a creature of habit and victim of circumstance are a multitude of reasons that I’ve barely ever visited the snow.  Growing up as a swimmer in the Bay Area, I loved the sun and water more ways than I could count; while on family vacations we constantly favored beautiful beaches with their sandy waves over the glistening snow-capped mountains.  I barely ever made it to the snow as a child and can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen it in person.  Not to mention, I can be quoted as saying “I’m a Image may contain: tree, snow and outdoor‘Hawaii’ kind of girl” more times than I can count, because bless my parents – they still like to remind me of all those years before I turned into such a nature nymph. To them, it’s any wonder that I’ve turned from a self-professed city kitty into a rough(er) and tumble(r) snow bunny, but here I am – ready for business, and by business I mean nature-inspired personal pleasure.

One of the many, many fantastic things about living in Los Angeles (Southern California…and just California in general),  is that on any given day you can make a trip to the sand or a trip to the snow; if you’re feeling frisky, you can even get a delightful dose of both! Beach days, though beautiful, are proverbially a dime a dozen in the land of palm trees, blue skies and power lines and let’s get real – everyone flocks to the sandy shores: your housemates, your neighbor, your landlord, celebrities and vacationers all come for the beach – which makes hitting those pearly slopes significantly sweeter.  There are near trips and far trips, day trips and trips you should probably make a whole weekend out of. Don’t quote me on exact travel times because, HELLO Los Angeles traffic, but if you’re in the mood for a fantastic day trip – Mt Baldy and the defunct Mt Waterman Ski Lifts make for excellent treks and are just an hour outside of LA proper in the San Gabriel Mountains, while Big Bear in the San Bernadino National Forest is a little over two hours away.  If you’re feeling like an adventure is in the works, Sequoia National Forest is a few hours away and makes for an epic Winter weekend journey.

Pack + Play

For as fun as a snow day is, being fully prepared for your snow day will make things go a hell of a lot smoother (and, warmer!). First things first, make sure you have enough hydration and nutrition to last the day – and then some.  Make some sandwiches, grab some snacks get a good combination of both salty and sugary foods; in case anyone’s body starts going into a bit of shock – it’ll bring them right back! When it comes to water, even though the weather might be a big frightful and frigid, it doesn’t mean your body isn’t working overtime – especially if you head out on a hike.  Make sure you have twice as much as you think you need, and enough for any pups (or, brave cats!) that are along for the ride. Just like in the movie Shrek, when it comes to clothes in the cold – it’s all about layers, so snag a scarf, get a beanie, and a hoodie – or two; if you’ve got fur, this is the perfect time to rock it.  Because of the nature of snow, if you’ve got waterproof pants, socks and or shoes, bring ’em out. Basically, waterproof everything is a plus – GoPro, iPhone 7, you name it – it’s perfect for the snow.  Also, booze…responsible boozing also makes the snow a whole lot more fun.


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[Wedding DIY] Say ‘I Do’ to Creatively Customized Invitations

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Image may contain: one or more people, tree, sky, outdoor and nature

Plan a wedding, they said – it’ll be fun, they said.  Don’t get me wrong – because this is all sorts of fun; but a kind of detail-oriented, take-charge type of fun where you’re always second guessing yourself because most likely, you’ve never done this before – nor are you planning on ever really doing it again type of fun.  Thankfully, I’ve discovered some clutch resources that have made the initial steps infinitely easier.

Pin + Plan

The initial planning stages always seem the hardest, going from the grandiose, umbrella idea of a fabulous wedding to whittling down nuanced details on color, style and formality. Now that your wedding date is tangible, the reality of your ideas have manifested into a horse of a different color where compromise is key, so at the very least get a grip on your ideas with a solid brainstorm session with your significant other.Hands down, Pinterest has proven to be a great resource for both researching and cataloging ideas, especially now that we can have collaborative Pin Boards.  I’m sure there’s a lot of us whose Wedding (and Engagement, and Bridal Shower…) Pin Boards are older than our relationships, but in our defense – it’s not like we haven’t been dreaming of this day since we were little kids, we’ve just been waiting for the perfect way to organize it.

Capture Your Love Story

If you asked me what I thought of Engagement Photos a year ago, I probably would have laughed at you – not that I don’t think they’re beautiful, I just always found them to be superfluous, ostentatious, pseudo-omnipotent views of love. But then I thought about the idea of love, letting it’s truth wash over me like a light rain and I realized that love is supposed to be larger than life, or at least larger than us as individuals, and it should be opulent in all of it’s hidden riches that hide deep in the heart, so – yes, let’s capture it, let’s capture love in it’s purest form. And the more it truly sunk in that Danny and I were tying the knot, the more I wanted to capture this version of our love in a time capsule that I can hold close to my heart.   So, tl/dr – a thousand times yes, invest in your engagement photos because it’s really a gift to yourself.

When it comes to your photos, my suggestions here are twofold. First -pick a location that resonates at the same frequency as your relationship, pick a special place that the two of you find as beautifully unique as your relationship. For our pictures, we spent a weekend frolicking around the stunning Sequoias hand in hand, kissing around every corner – and it reminded me a thousand times over why I’m over the moon excited to be spend the rest of my forever with him.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, tree, outdoor and nature

Second, and equally important: find a photographer that you can feel vulnerably yourself with, and in effect ‘naked’ in your love for each other.  If you’re around the Southern California, or East Coast Area – I highly and absolutely recommend Juliana Bernstein, better know around these parts as Get Tiny Photography, for any and all photo duties.  I met Juliana back while I working with The DJ List but it wasn’t until my time with The Confluence that I finally had the pleasure of getting to know this sorceress of creation. Even though we got to know each other under the neon lights and late nights of music festivals, what turned me on to her as our engagement photographer was the way she can capture an effervescent moment in time, full of vibrant colors, depth and shadow play. Beyond being a beautiful soul with a keen eye and a mind sharp as a tack, Juliana is literally the cutest, sweetest thing in the entire world and I’m still trying to figure out how to keep her in my pocket, feed her skittles and take her with my everywhere.

For more of Juliana’s work – check our her website and socials:

Website | Instagram | Facebook | E-mail

Be Inviting

There are a few ways you can go about making your Saves the Date and your Wedding Invitation.  First, you could hire someone to take the reigns and do it for you – which I’m sure is nice, but as someone who gets off on the creative process there’s no way I would just give that up.  So, if you’re trying to DIY the damn thing, there are a few great online resources at your disposal.  The lovely folks at Minted will send you a sample package of their wares so you can get a grip on the types of paper and color combinations at your fingertips, while PaperSource has a whole host of links available for the scatterbrained bride-to-be.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, shoes, tree, sky, outdoor and nature

 

Customize Your Creation

As beautiful as the invitations are for Minted and Paper Source, the only way to have a truly customized invitation through Paper Source is to have their corporate office approve your design to actually be on their website (which is damn cool), but it was a round about process that left me wanting – thankfully, I stumbled across Basic Invite and all my problems were solved.  After getting a feel for the wedding invitations that were already out there, I realized that I saw everything as a wonderful jumping off point; a rough draft that I wanted to paint in technicolor.  I literally caught myself wanting to customize very well every facet of the Saves the Date, the Wedding Invitation – and even the RSVP card. With Basic Invite, you can upload all of your own images to create completely customized creations – yasssss.

Now, I’m definitely not a pro with Photoshop but I’m not graphically impaired, either – so with some ideas in mind, I took things into my own hands, made everything from the ground up.  The biggest issue I ran into was having a file in a large enough resolution and format to be loaded.  After some trouble, I found that saving my Photoshop Files as .TIFF files, and loading them into a private Flickr album did the trick.

After just a few round of tweaks, I’m pleasantly surprised with how everything turned out, but for the record: let’s just say that every meme you see about Graphic Designers and their clients is very, very true.   Now, I don’t want to spoil the surprise until after the New Year when the invitations are sent out, and trust me – it’s worth the wait 🙂

Pro Tip: Flirt with Free Fonts.  To quote my Fiance – all of the stock fonts in Photoshop look like they’re out of a middle school science fair presentation, so if you’re thinking of going all the way customized – I would think outside of the text box.  Of all the sites I found, I would recommend Brushez and Fonts 101.

 

Stamp of Approval

Sure, regular stamps are cool – but romantic, whimsical, wedding inspired stamps are invariably so much better. Check out the USPS website, or even take a gander inside one of your local Post Offices (yes, those artifacts of buildings still exist!).  If like Kanye, you’re accustomed to customizing – you can always order out custom stamps on Shutterfly.  It was a fleeting thought, but in a moment of pure serendipity last night, my Aunt-in-law sent me the very stamps were were looking for – and they arrived in the mail at the same time as our final invitation prints!  Suffice it to say, we’re set to send.

So, Now We Have These Pictures?

So, finally – almost three years after we got engaged, two months after we took our engagement photos – we’re ready to ship!  We used maybe 4 or 5 of the 150+ engagement photos for our invitations…and as much as it’s killed me, I’ve basically kept the good ones a secret from almost all of our friends, family – and most importantly, social media.  Not to be a curmudgeon, but I truly feel that the first time someone sees your Saves the Date photo should be when they physically open the envelope; maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, maybe I have a thing for ‘Wow’ factor – but these photos are special, you should really treat them as such. Since we used literally less than 3% of our photos, that means we invariably have a plethora of pictures for other avenues: post them all over your Instagram and feel the love of your love, reuse your photos as Holiday Cards for your friends or framed photos for your family, crop yourself a fancy new LinkedIn profile picture; the options are basically as endless as your romance, so use as you desire!

What are your favorite Wedding Invitation resources?  What creative ways have you reused your engagement photos? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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[The Audiofiles] The Gem and Jam Festival Set to Rock Tuscon in February

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In just a few short weeks, Arizona’s fabled Gem and Jam Festival embarks on their 11th magical, musical journey to a new location – Tucson’s Pima County Fairgrounds – from February 2nd through the 5th with both single day and full weekend passes still available. Happening in parallel with the largest Gem and Mineral show on the West Coast, the Gem and Jam Festival has evolved into a staple of the boutique festival circuit and draws crowds from every corner of West Coast. Facilitated by the move to a new location, Gem and Jam will now be camping festival, so bundle up and get ready to bounce!

Purchase Tickets Here!

Talent for this year’s event includes a veritable artistic cross-section of movers and shakers in the dance music industry – modern musicians, producers, and DJs who prefer to throw it back to when real instruments were the preferred method of choice and jamming out was a soul’s improvisational release in this rigid world. Artists for this year’s Gem and Jam Festival include the funklord Gramatik, Phish bassist Mike Gordon, The Floozies, Lotus, EOTO, G Jones, Thriftworks, The Russ Liquid Test, Poolside, Opiou, Com Truise and so many more.

Festival Details
February 3-5
Pima County Fairgrounds
11300 South Houghton Road,
Tucson, AZ 85747

One of the best parts of the Gem and Jam Festival are the esteemed and expertly curated pre-parties that pop up all along the West Coast, if you can’t make the trek to Tuscon – groove your way down to Los Angeles for A-Bun-Dance’s Pre-Gem and Jam Party featuring the artwork of Alex + Allyson Grey.

RSVP on Facebook to LA’s PreParty

For more on the Gem and Jam Festival, head to their socials –

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

[Self Discovery] How Do Your Stars Align?

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Raised as far away from organized religion as possible, my personal view on life and the world around us is that we’re inhabiting a universe built on vibrations emanating from a master source, strung together across infinite planes of existence.  So, to a large degree, it’s no wonder that I believe that the exact placement of the planets and stars around our sun are indicative of unique personality traits based on the day of our birth.

Born on a Full Moon during Mercury Retrograde, my lifetime long obsession with horoscopes, astrology, numerology, tarot, rune stones, and the like makes infinitely more sense. As a child, my parents unwittingly fanned my medium-esuqe flames.  They let letting me run rampant in used bookstores and gifted me ‘The Secret Language of Birthdays‘ when I was still in Middle School. Fast forward to High School and I was handed down my first tarot deck -a beautiful Ryder-Waite deck from the 70’s.  All of these events grotesquely shaped my view on the spiritual and physical worlds and I’m eternally grateful that I’ve discovered a bevy of resources for my metaphysical mind to wrap itself around.

Though I’ve considered myself Sagittarius through and through, the older I get2457724028830 – the more I realize that sun signs are only one piece of your complex, personal puzzle. To get the entire picture, you’ll want to delve into the entirety of your natal chart.  Plain and simple, your natal – or astrological – chart gives you keys to unlock and understand key personality traits.

To get a look at your natal chart you’ll need your birth place and birth time – an approximation will do, but exact is always the best.  Astrolabe is currently my favorite online resources for natal charts, and even better – the basic chart is free. For the cosmically curious and astrologically enthused, I suggest snagging a copy of Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Astrology – it’s the perfect introductory reader, and you’ll learn tips and tricks, including how to compute a natal chart by hand.

Beyond your sun sign, you’ll discover your moon sign – an emotional, and feminine energy that plays into your shadow self and subconscious behaviors.  If you were born on a Full Moon like me, it’s a pretty easy formula: our moon signs directly oppose our sun sign – my sun is in Sagittarius, and my moon is in Gemini.  In parallel with the moon sign, the moon phase when you were born equally indicative of deeply ingrained personality traits; if you don’t know the moon sign for the day you were born, you can calculate it here.

The more I delve into my own natal chart, the more I answer unasked questions about my personality and inherant behavior.   Do you notice anything divine about the way your stars align?

Let me know in the comments below!

[LA Life] Get Lit at the Descanso Gardens This Holiday Season

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I’ve been known to gush about the plethora of wonderful parks, gardens and green areas in Los Angeles – so when I found out that the Descanso Gardens was hosting an illuminated evening befit with lights from every direction – I was all ears and eyes.  In tandem with the LA Zoo Lights event, the fabled Descanso Gardens in Altadena is joining in the fun – creating their own Enchanted Forest for the holiday season.  During the day, the sprawling landscape of Descanso consists of a Lilac Garden, a Japanese Garden, California Natives and a sprawling 5 acre rose garden – and at night  for the next four weeks, it’s transformed into a whimsical wonderland with expertly curated and interactive exhibits.

 

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Daytime at Descanso

Technically, hypothetically – it’s helpful if you and your crew acquire your tickets ahead of time but I’ve discovered that anything is possible the day of, especially if you put your mind to it.  If you’re into planning, tickets for the Enchante Forest can be purchased either online or in person at the Descanso Gardens during normal operating hours. Tickets for the Enchanted Forest event run about$30 for weekends through their official website, but I found a discount link through a company called Goldstar for only $21 for as long as tickets last.  Each ticket is timed to a specific entry time, and you’re allowed to enter at any point after and stay until close at 10pm.

Purchase Tickets to Enchanted Forest

As a warning, it gets packed – not to the brim, but you should know that to get in, there’s only one line; it moves fast, but it gets pretty lengthy by the end of the night. There are several bars inside that give generous pours, and some snacks and winteresque drinks like apple cider and hot chocolate.  Perfect for a date night, family night or just a night out on the town with friends getting a dose of something a little different in their lives.

For more on the Enchanted Forest + Descanso Gardens, head to their social media channels:

Facebook | Website | Instagram | Yelp

1418 Descanso Dr

 La Canada Flintridge, CA

 

 

 

[The Audiofiles] My Heart Is With Oakland

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Artwork from Elizabeth Reyes

Dance Music evolves at a lightning fast pace, and as we rush into the next moment, next song, next event and next festival at an exponential speed it somehow feels easier to forget the humble beginnings of the scene.  Now in 2016, EDM has bulldozed its way into the mainstream while the population has evolved into all inclusive hodgepodge of every type of soul the world has created.  But, a decade ago – two decades ago?

Dance Music was for the freaks and the weirdos, minorities and queers, artists and poets, lovers and friends, people questioning their social identity, people questioning their gender identity and people questioning life.

The dancefloors are full of personalities that felt they couldn’t fit in anywhere else, so instead of retreating into our loneliness, we used that feeling to bring us together, curating a safe space for us to coexist; it just so happened that we coexisted in the modern trenches, in warehouses, in pseudoaffordable units that more resembled a bohemian commune of like-minded individuals rather than the imposed housing infrastructure of common society. Because let’s face it, most forms of societal infrastructure seem null and void to many of us.  For a group of individuals that have stopped finding value in the monetization of life, the community gave something of actual value to us.

Our community was born in the dark recesses of abandoned spaces, decorating them with their technicolor energy and otherworldly grooves.    And the more underground the event? The better the crowd, and the beautiful ethos the events created felt palpable – like a silent passion by which each of us lived.  It’s easy to forget where you ended and the rest of the dancefloor began, as hot, sweaty bodies boldly paraded every which way around the dance floor as we slowly became one breathing, loving, living, dancing, conscious organism.

On Friday, December 2nd – the Dance Community was shaken by tragic news out of Oakland. An artistic collective known to some as Ghost Ship, others as Satya Yuga, caught on fire around 11:30 with dozens of people inside, with stairwells made of pallets, wooden decoration haphazardly strewn throughout the venue and exposed electrical cords.

 Image From Ghost Ship’s Website

From New York City to Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and more high-density metropolitan areas – the popularity of Warehouse Parties has never dwindled, and the power of the internet has propelled their popularity while keeping some of their elusive secrets. Like many of my friends, when I first caught the news out of the Bay Area, my first thought was it that could have been any of us.  I was at a warehouse party just two weeks ago, I’m going to another on Saturday, and I’ll probably go to a handful every year, for the next decade. If you don’t go to warehouse parties, chances are you have a friend that goes, or will go – a best friend that delights on the dance floor, a lover that lives for the nightlife, a brother, a sister, maybe even a parent – because that’s the thing, unlike the way the real world feels every now and again, these events actually are all inclusive, they let you breathe, they let you be free and live precisely within the moment.  They’re a wonderful, whimsical ride – and to think that lives were taken away in the middle of one of those moments is enough to bring a grown person to tears.

The fire also highlights something that artists have felt in large urban areas forever – the financial pinch for housing.  Prices are astronomical and starving artists who live, breathe and eat their work will do anything, live anywhere, to fuel their creative fire.  Live with 10 strangers in a makeshift home? Sure.  Build a personal space in a loft with a dozen other creatives? Of course! Because artist housing isn’t afforable.

The unfortunate circumstances of the fire evoke a menagerie of feelings, from sorrow for my Bay Area dance community, to the empathic horror of the victims and victims families, to understanding the true nature of both the events we go to and the community we choose to thrive in.  From all accounts, Ghost Ship was as beautiful as it was a safety hazard – with exits boarded up, flammable decorations and a staircase made of pallets.  Things that from now on it’s up to the rest of us to call out, because again – from all accounts – this could have also been avoided if we chose to truly hold each other accountable.

As it stands, this is one of the deadliest structure fires in recent United States history. To assist victims of the Oakland Warehouse Fire, San Francisco’s Grey Area Art + Technology Group have put together a Donation Page while Professional Sports teams from the Oakland Warriors, who play at Oracle just a few miles from the venue, as well as the Oakland A’s and Raiders have a donation page as well. As of today, they have combined to raise over 600,000 for victims and victims families.

Grey Area Donation Page

A’s + Warriors + Raiders Donation Page

The nature of the fire has pushed Dance Music and Warehouse culture into the mainstream, and in an unfortunately negative light.  Event production companies will have to think twice, maybe even three times about the safety of their patrons and the venue, and the crackdown on both the artist collective lifestyle and warehouse parties themselves is almost inevitable… but please – don’t stop dancing.

For your own copy of the Oakland print, please head to our talented DJ List photographer Elizabeth Reyes’ ETSY. – all proceeds go towards the relief fund for the victims of the Ghost Ship fire

[The Audiofiles] The Road to the Desert Hearts Spring Festival is Paved with House, Techno and a Whole Lot of Love

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Over the last five years, Southern California’s Desert Hearts troupe has blossomed from a homegrown hub of House and Techno into a global party sensation. After taking the Fall season off this year, much to the dismay of Desert Hearts fanatics all over – Desert Hearts is proud to announce their triumphant return to the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation from March 31 to April 3, 2017.

Playing host to an intimate number of attendants, the festival is capped at 3,500 and the warm, bubbly ethos that the size of the event curates is delightfully palpable. Between the various Desert Hearts virgins and assorted Desert Hearts vets, the weekend is as much a festival as it is a family reunion…with the grooviest soundtrack on the West Coast. Musical tastemakers to grace the decks have included Tiefschwarz, DJ Harvey, Monkey Safari, Rodriguez Jr., DJ T, Claude VonStroke, Marc Houle, Olivier Giacomotto, Mark Henning, M.A.N.D.Y, alongside the usual suspects – Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Marbs and Porkchop.

The road to the Desert Hearts Spring Festival is paved with House and Techno from coast to coast as the squad heads out on their 21 tour date City Hearts Winter Tour. The mobile micro-festival vibe will takeover premiere festivals in previously unexplored markets for the burgeoning brand including Brazil’s Som & Sol Festival, Costa Rica’s Ocaso Festival, Tucson’s Gem and Jam, plus return trips to Brooklyn, Denver, Miami, Salt Lake City, its prized home turf of Los Angeles and San Diego, and many more standout shows.

Tickets for the highly anticipated and long awaited Spring 2017 Edition of Desert Hearts go on sale Tuesday, December 6th at 12 PM PST.

RSVP on Facbook and Rally Your Squad | Snag Tickets Here!

For more on the Desert Hearts squad and their upcoming roster of events, head to their social media channels –

Website | Facebook| Twitter | Soundcloud | Instagram