a simpler sound.

Dough Therapy: the art of making pie.

Flour. Butter. Water.

Just a handful of ingredients can create the most incredible, flaky pie crust. There's something so therapeutic about the process of making a dough.  It's all in the cool temperature and the gentle process of rolling, rotating, adding flour, and rolling again.

The only reason I don't make pies on a daily basis is because I know how much butter goes into that crust, and I might not make it past 60 if I ate as much as I'd like. Using butter with wild abandon is not my typical modus operandi, but every once in a while, everyone needs pie. 

Here, you can see an up close look at 'dough therapy' from this Thanksgiving [special thanks to my Mom for being the on-hand photographer while I cooked] and the completed [and utterly decadent] apple pie with marzipan [recipe to come later in the week].

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!

Catching Flight.

I'm [s l o w l y] working on editing all my photography from Alaska, and there are TONS of wildlife shots.  I'm talking close to a thousand [imagine when I finally go on an African safari one day? I'll be so overwhelmed!]. While I'm working on my current nature photography- here's one of my favorite wildlife 'stories.'  

I took these photos while in Salzburg, Austria looking over the Danube river. This duck was just hanging out on the riverbank, admiring the summer flowers, when it turned to acknowledge me. After a few moments of pondering, he decided to move onward and took flight.  I snapped that second shot, and managed to capture his wingspan beautifully, and even caught the tiny flecks of water beading off his feathers. It was a simple, brief moment in my trip, but turned out to be so memorable because of these two photos. 

Travel Photography Clean up: a man and his alphorn.

I've done quite a bit of traveling over the last year and a half.  Mostly for family reasons, sometimes just for fun, but regardless, every trip has been a truly one-of-a-kind, unforgettable experience.  I usually go on a photography rampage when I travel, and my little Macbook Pro 13" is getting tired.  I've pretty much maxed her out, and on this most recent trip to Aruba, I had no choice but to go through my 8,000+ photos [this actually being only half of my actual photo collection, since everything pre 2011 is backed up on my external hard drive] and start making decisive cuts.

I get a little trigger happy, especially with the action setting on my SLR, so there are tons of photos that I can part with, since there are 7 or 8 more nearly identical to it.  The other issue is these SLR files are massive.  Gone are the days of my 4 megapixel Canon Elph circa 2001.  I've got to work on continuously editing this opus of photos, but I never seem to keep up with them.  Since I leave for another big trip tomorrow [SO excited for my retirement cruise in Alaska with my Mom!] and I know I'll easily take 500+ photos while I'm there, so I've got to continue the photo purge.  

Therein lies my rediscovery of this Swiss man and his alphorn. I started going through the thousands [yes, thousands] of photos I took while in Europe last summer, and I came upon the day I met my first alphorn player.  This traditional Swiss instrument dates back to the mid 16th century and was used as a mode of communication in mountainous regions throughout Europe.

We had taken a lift up to First Mountain in Grindelwald, and this gentleman arrived right along with us.  We waited in the lodge restaurant, because a heavy cloud cover moved over the mountain, causing nearly zero visibility.  While we waited, I noticed the man pull several wooden tubes out of his small black backpack. I watched as he slowly began to assemble them together. In short order, he  had a nearly 11 foot horn sitting in front of him, right there in the middle of the lodge.  He hoisted this monster horn up and brought it outside, in the thick of the clouds. 

As if by magic, the cloud cover began to dissipate, and he began to play these long, low notes.  I was convinced the vibrations of the horn broke up the clouds and cleared the skies.  A small crowd gathered, and we watched this man create beautiful music alongside the breathtaking mountainside.    It was definitely one of those surreal experiences.  I probably took a hundred photos of the man and his horn, but I saved quite a few, since the intensity on his face was so fascinating.  I love that even years from now, I can still look back at these photos and recall this day.

Ponce City Market: A Tour.

Last week, I went on a tour of City Hall East, a building that used to be a major hub for Sears for many years, and is now the future site of Ponce City Market. I was lucky enough to snag a few tickets that were made available on their website [tours are free, but tickets are hard to come by].  Seeing as this major undertaking is just three blocks from my house, I needed to see things for myself.  It's a project that will dramatically affect my neighborhood, so it's really exciting for me to learn as much as I can about it. This behemoth of a building has stood there, quietly looming for years, so it will be really captivating to see such a massive transformation and witness some life breathed into this Atlanta landmark. 

I'm not going to lie, I was pretty pumped to wear a hard hat and walk around, though the head gear seemed fairly unessential once we got inside. There's also the fact that they had me sign a waiver, basically stating that if I fell down an elevator shaft or was flung off the side of the building, they weren't liable for anything, making the hardhat more of a novelty.  

I took over 200 photos during my two hour tour, so I think I'll do a series of posts introducing this place to you.  I find the history behind the building as well as it's future completely fascinating, and I think you will too.  So for now, here's a brief photo story of the very start of my tour.  I can't wait to share the rest of it with you!

Amazing Album Cover Art: Alberto Seveso

I really miss the days of CDs. I used to love flipping through the album booklets, and reading the lyrics and band credits. I always loved when a band's album art was particularly creative or interesting. This same love goes for records, but I'm without a record player [something that I'm currently on the hunt for], so for the meantime, I'll just reminisce about CDs. 

I saw a post on Apartment Therapy today, about this artist Alberto Seveso, who creates beautiful art by photographing ink in water with a high speed camera.  I was completely mesmerized by the combination of colors and the organic, milky texture and shape of the images. 

There was something so familiar about this photography, when I realized I just bought a CD using the very same artist.  The Temper Trap [which you can see their latest album at the top of this post] are fans of Seveso as well, and used a number of his photographs for all their current and upcoming singles.  Check out Alberto Seveso's site, and see how breathtaking ink can be.

1. Photographs found on Alberto Seveso's website

The ballad of jake and maggie.

In this scene, I imagine Maggie [left] speaking in a shy, nervous stutter and Jake in the voice of an older, grumpy British man. They always find the most ridiculous places to sleep, this case being my friend's opened suitcase full of clothes.

Meet my two insanely adorable, strangely owl-like Scottish Fold kittens, Jake and Maggie [they're actually two and a half years old at this point, but will forever be referred to as kittens]. Their namesake refers to the esteemed acting duo, siblings Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

On this blog, I will try to keep my cute kitten photos to a minimum.  I promise I'm not a weird cat lady [I do have a dog too, Kona, so she negates any cat lady tendancies!], but I thought these two deserved a brief introduction.

A Fallen Magnolia.

Sometimes, a photo or two [or five] speaks volumes.  I found this fallen magnolia flower beneath a tree as I was leaving Forsyth Fabrics [I'm working on sewing project- curtains for my Mom- I still need to buy a sewing machine, but that's besides the point].  It must have just made its way to the ground, because the flower was in perfect condition: milky white with waxy green leaves.  The flower stamen looked like a hundred tiny inch worms wriggling out of a minty green bud. What really impressed me was the flower's size.  Its wingspan [yes, this thing was massive enough to warrant this word] was around 13 inches.  I've never seen a flower so big, and it was really something to behold.  The thing about magnolia flowers is their beauty is so brief.  Before you know it, they've turned a muddy brown color.

To preserve this flawless piece of nature, I took probably over a hundred photos of it.  I really loved how it looked up against the wood grain of my worn deck. You can also see me holding my Scottish Fold cat, Jake [his namesake being this guy] beside the flower, for a little perspective on size. He's in awe of the magnolia too.

So next time you see something beautiful lying on the sidewalk, stop and take note [or a picture].

All photos taken by Jo Torrijos [me]

© a simpler sound.

Musings on a nightstand: water and writing.

I figured out why I decided to share my nightstand with you.  I mean really, how long can a  person wax poetic about a lamp? [in my case, quite a bit] In reality, I think this might actually give you a little insight into me and my quirky habits, some of which may become recurring themes here, and others I may try to repress and plead plausible deniability that they were ever shared with you.  Think of this as 'show-and-tell' for adults. [I LOVED show and tell in kindergarten- I'm pretty sure this habit of mine traces that far back, maybe even further]

Rather than repeat the same photo I took of the nightstand [with the addition of helpful numbers, just in case you get confused between the glass of milk and a flower- these things are tricky] I figured you could just refer back to the previous post, or use a little imagination.

2. Water: I'm always thirsty, and being parched reaches its all-time high when I'm asleep.  I have an irrational fear of being without water, or really any drink [insert image of the little girl in the M. Night Shyamalan classic, 'Signs' with her 37 glasses of water strewn about the house]. The water pictured here is a rather large bottle of Acqua Panna, the self-proclaimed 'finest still mineral water.' I've never been one who can really taste the difference between obscenely expensive water and water that's free. I'm pretty sure I started refilling this bottle with tap a long time ago, so don't take me for a water connoisseur.

3. 5-Year Journal: I have to be the world's worst diary/journal keeper.  Since I was just a little Jo, I was obsessed with these wonderful, tiny books that held the potential of keeping your deepest secrets under lock and key. I probably had a whole box full of diaries. I could also probably count the number of pages I wrote on with two hands.  Then came the 5-Year Journal, a perfect device for someone like me since all it requires is one brief line about your day.  I've even went so far as to jot down just one word [it still counts!].  This one is a particular favorite of mine since it's filled with Jane Austen quotes that I adore. [I'm that girl who re-reads Pride and Prejudice yearly and watches the movies any chance I get...]

4. Music Journal:  I have no issues filling the pages of this book.  Since I was twelve, I've had a penchant for writing down lyrics from my favorite songs.  They usually had to do with some boy who I thought was just the BEST [but later would probably find him to be the WORST...the trappings of young love].  Fourteen years later, this exercise has become much more therapeutic, and is far less about silly boys, and much more about music that moves me, or reminds me of my past [or future?].  Usually, I just have a standard journal that I'll fill every inch of, but while I was in L.A. this past March, I found a bonafide *Moleskine music journal, which has proved to be very useful. Lyrics are so often overlooked, that it feels right to give them a place to 'speak.' 

5. Writing implements: simple enough, but I have specific tastes when it comes to these sorts of things. I always like to keep a #2 pencil [old-school yellow preferred] and a flair pen in navy or army green or black. [I told you I was specific!]

*fun fact: I've always pronounced Moleskine the way you would pronounce molester [it sounds even more inappropriate when pronounced by this British man] and it's a habit I have trouble breaking- so no, I don't have a molester journal, and no, I'm not a pervert...

a girl's nightstand holds all her secrets.

Maybe not all her secrets...if that were the case, anyone who entered my home would be privy to the whole of it, and that wouldn't be very wise on my part.  What you will find are several items that are essential to my nightly routine. 

When I took this photo, I was having one of those 'everything looks like art' kind of days, where I'll take 30+ photos of random objects in my house or while I'm out on a walk with the dog. [I know I've gone too far when even the garbage bin I throw her 'business' in has an interesting form..]  This compulsion doesn't stop when I'm lying in bed, which is how the 'nightstand series' came to be.  Initially, this was just going to be one post about the objects next to my bed. What was seemingly going to be a brief exercise, has become rather lengthy, so I'll post a bit each day to give you a glimpse into my life. 

The 'composition' starts with a round, white pedestal table I found at an antique store for $25 [$22.50 with my all cash discount- a fairly standard deal at these sorts of places, and every penny counts!] while I was staying on Amelia Island back in November. It's a little wobbly, partly because my 1930s wood floors have lots of 'character' [an endearing term for uneven] and partly because it's a twenty-something dollar table. It's got a great, wide top, which helps me ignore any flaws in design. 

Set atop the white 'canvas' are ten objects that are invariably always there. 

1. Lamp: I'm so particular when it comes to lighting. I have this weird aversion to overhead lights. Even more-so, I loathe the harsh wash of fluorescent bulbs. I know, I know- this is terribly anti-environment of me, but I'll rant about this more another time.  This lamp has a dark, coffee shade, which bathes my bedside in a warm glow.  This object is also essential for my reading and writing, since other than the local coffee shops, this is the only place I do those two tasks. [I'm sitting in bed as I write this, with four pillows propped up against my back- don't judge, it's all very professional...]

Stay tuned for more musings on my nightstand [trust me, things get really interesting by #4, I promise...]

the sunset. the catalyst. etc. etc.

West Palm Beach, FL

I was in south Florida this past weekend helping a friend move [and spending some brief, but much needed time with my long, lost love- the Atlantic Ocean] and caught this unbelievably saturated sunset on my last day before heading back to Atlanta.  I snapped this photo [and quite a few more] with my phone, regretting I didn't lug my SLR around with me. I never seem to have it when something beautiful crosses my path [and if this guy ever crosses my path, I'll certainly need more than my Canon to capture the moment...wink wink].  Nevertheless, my iPhone does come in handy, and I must say, it takes a decent photo.  

[Now, get ready for the cheese...]

What motivated me to get the cogs in my blog turning again was how moved I was by such a gripping wash of colors in the sky.  I'm so inspired by color and nature, and a thousand thoughts stream through my mind when I see [or hear, or taste] it. It can be hard to sift through it all. I was hoping to hold off on starting a blog until I decided on the most perfect name [a task I may never accomplish] and a focused concept.  But in reality, I can't focus on just one topic. [this speaks volumes of my personality..] Don't get me wrong, I'm insanely passionate about cooking and photographing every meal I eat or create [much to the chagrin of my friends and family]. But my mind is constantly wandering between different facets that intrigue me.  Music. Photography. Food. Design. Nature. etc. etc. etc. 

Maybe you'll just find 1/100 of what I post interesting, but I'm curating this more for me and all my etc.