A hub for all things to do with design, furniture painting, photography, style, event planning [and some foodie bits for good measure].  

Wildlife Photography: my close encounter with a Grizzly Bear.

I've mentioned the trip before, but I was lucky enough to get to visit Alaska this summer, and it was one of the more breathtaking places I've ever seen.  Even if you're not a nature enthusiast like myself, anyone can appreciate the beauty of Alaska.  Here are a series of photos I took while on a side trip to Haines, Alaska.  We went on a tour with a local woman, who was going to help us find wildlife to photograph.  The irony was that this woman seemed to be terrified of wildlife.  I had no idea at the start of that day of the close encounters that I would face later on.  We stopped to take photos of this beautiful vista of a lake [which I'm completely forgetting the name of].  Below, you can see the last photo of me that was taken...before the BEAR ATTACK! 

Continue on for the harrowing details...

Just kidding!  No attacks thankfully, but moments later, a grizzly bear did pop out of the water right behind where I was standing.  The bear was around 20 feet away, which is apparently the closest you ever want to get to a bear, while still feeling somewhat safe.  Of course, this bear was making its way rather quickly along this river that flowed into the lake where I stood, so before I knew it, the bear was within earshot!

I wasn't remotely afraid, since this had to have been the most adorable grizzly I'd ever encountered [as if I meet them on the street regularly..] and had ears like a teddy bear! [All I can hear in my head as I write this is the Winnie the Pooh song..."chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff!']

This bear was actually tagged on its ear, meaning the parks department is monitoring his profess, and tracking his movements periodically.  

Despite being cute and cuddly in appearance, this junior [no longer a cub, but not a fully matured adult] was significantly larger than I am, and could have easily mauled me if things had gone differently.  I was on slightly higher ground, so I felt safe, but I really should have made my way out of the area slowly and quietly, rather than standing there snapping photos. [I found this rather amusing, but useful guide on how to escape a bear]  Lesson learned [sort of], but what an amazing experience it was!

Here you can see the green tag in his ear.  But doesn't he look just like Winnie?

Meet my [teenage] bedroom.

I was passionate about photography and had fun displaying my photos of Hawaii along the wall in a trail.  Really graphic and fun.  

Color. Music. Posters. Art. Color. Everywhere.

I've been a 'designer' since I was a kid.  I've always been changing the spaces I inhabit, on a constant basis, and I recently found some proof of my earlier days of design mayhem.  While transferring all my digital photos onto my new computer [having everything in one place rather than fragmented on multiple external hard drives is a dream come true!], I found these photos.

This is my bedroom from my childhood home in New York.  These were actually taken sometime during my freshman year of college, somewhere between 2004 and 2005. I'm still trying to look for photos of my old college dorm rooms, because they were something to behold [I went a little overboard]. This room isn't too far off from that though, and if there's one thing you get my from my design back then, it's my personality.

Everything was perfectly laid out, strewn about the walls, and organized in a perfect chaos.  If you wanted to know what music I listened to, there was a poster for it.  If you wanted to know my favorite books or CDs, they were organized in bookcases I built into my closet. My love for Hawaii was all over the place: in tiny hula bobble heads, in floral leis, in the photography I would display. Little hints of my love for impressionist art are all over [in my calendar, in my paintings, even in my favorite Simpsons poster mimicking Georges Seurat]. My obsession with the color green was pretty obvious too.  As a kid, it was purple EVERYTHING, but I matured into a bright granny smith apple green. Now I love teal and different shades of grey [totally not a reference to the book...].

It's amazing how tastes evolve.  My style has absolutely changed over the years, but it's interesting to see how I still hold onto a certain atheistic.  

I hope you enjoy this peak into the younger Jo.  More [current] design to come...

My obsession with band art hasn't changed.  I'll admit though, it wasn't always for the right reasons. I remember loving the band in the corner, not because they were particularly great, but because I thought some of them were really cute...I was never one to put up posters of the Backstreet Boys or N'Sync, but you bet I had ones up of my punk rock bands!  I've since stopped putting up posters of boys [shocker, I know]. Here you can also see one of my favorite Salvador Dali pieces, as well as this light up art of the Brooklyn Bridge [it was a little tacky, yes, but at night I loved how it gave my room this bluish glow].

My biggest regret is not taking care of my band art the way I should have.  Most of these posters are really tattered on the edges, and some downright ruined due to the constant moving of them each year of college.  I was able to properly frame some of them, but these really bring me back...

I built these 'custom' shelves with my Mom, mostly because I didn't have enough room anywhere to house my massive CD and book collection!

I love having old pictures [check out little Jo with her awesome bowl cut bangs!] around and check out my adorable bobble heads [not sure where they are anymore, how sad!]

More of the overflow of DVDs and video equipment. I wonder where my Wiffle ball bat is these days...

I kept that vase of artificial gerber daisies around for the longest time. Now I hate the thought of fake flowers.  I love having real deal around when I can these days.  I think the daisies finally retired to my mom's work office.  And check out my old iPod! That isn't my original one, since that was actually stolen at a party the year before.  Back then who could have predicted my large succession of Apple devices to follow...
I'm not sure if I knew I was taking a picture of myself or not, but there I am at 18...where has the time gone?!

New York in Black and White.

I walked into my hotel room, and this is what I found.  Just breathtaking.
I just returned from a work trip to New York. I grew up here, so every time I return, I get such a sense of nostalgia for this great city.  I go through phases where I think I'll sell everything I have and figure out how to make my way back there. It's so beautiful and exciting and there's just no end to what you can do, see, eat, and explore.

The view from my hotel room was unbelievable.  Normally, I get a lovely [ahem, sarcasm]  view of the building directly across the street, where the most I can see is what the apartment across the way is watching on TV [I've actually watched Jeopardy through someone else's apartment window once- "Alex, I'll take Unknowingly Creepy Tendencies for $300"].

This time, we stayed on the 32nd floor of the Affinia Dumont in Murray Hill, and somehow, every building around was lower than ours, so we had a direct view of the Chrysler Building [which I find to be the most architecturally beautiful and classic buildings in Manhattan or anywhere for that matter], along with a view of the east river to my right and the Bank of America tower to my left [I actually didn't know the name of this building until I wrote this- this is currently the second tallest building in New York, after the Empire State].

As I was writing this post, I was horrified to hear that there was a shooting this morning right by the Empire State Building.  I literally just passed on this street everyday for nearly a week, so it was surreal to see the chaos happening on TV this morning. Despite moments like these, I actually feel completely safe in New York [even safer than I do in Atlanta at times] so I hate when moments like this happen, since it gives people the wrong idea about this amazing city.  

More to post about my trip to New York [including my perfect night in Little Italy!], but here are a few pictures to help give you an idea of why I love NYC so much...

The view of the Chrysler at night, taken from my hotel room.
One of my most favorite views of New York.  I love seeing the New Yorker sign juxtaposed to the Empire State Building.
This place brings back such good memories of me and my grandmother.  In the summers, we would take the bus from my neighborhood in Queens over to Macy's, and we would walk together, arm in arm, admiring all the pretty things.  I miss that so much.

Just a random parking sign, but I loved the detail of the bricks next to the big, graphic letters.

One of my best photography moments.

This was taken on the Leopoldskron Palace grounds in Salzburg, Austria.  Once a family residence of the prince archbishop Firmian in the 18th century, the palace is known for its grounds and the lake on the property.  Its claim to fame was its role in many scenes of The Sound of Music.  Today, the adjacent building on the property is a hotel, where guests can overlook this idyllic lake and walk the pristine grounds. The hotel wasn't any great shakes [I did actually stay there for a night], but it was worth it for the view alone [and the opulent breakfast that was held in the palace ballroom, but that's another story].  

I love this photo for its composition and symmetry.  The balance between the benches in the foreground, the terra cotta flower pots [one with just a hint of rosy pink color], the ducks in the background and the wash of green from the trees and shrubbery; it was just a perfect little spot. I also love how the lake mimics the foliage in its reflection, like a Monet peeking through the water. 

I'd love to paint this, if I get back into my more artistic habits one day. Shortly after I took this, a group of ducks and geese came up to the benches, begging for food, and I was happy to impart some Wheat Thins [my favorite snack] I had in my bag. So that was just another little travel memory.  I've got so many stored in my head [and on my hard drive], it's hard to keep track of them all!