Monday, April 29, 2013

High Heeled Traveler, The Magazine Contributor Grace Barkley

I'm still reeling from the excitement of launching my first magazine (purchase a copy here!). Setting my sights on a goal and actually taking the steps to accomplish it was incredibly difficult and rewarding. To say it was a learning experience is an understatement and I welcome more growing pains as I get ready for issue two

I couldn't have created such a successful publication without my awesome contributors. I'd like to highlight them each here over the next few weeks (check back every Monday!) as a thank you.

First up is Grace Barkley. I met her through the internet (how I make most of my friends, thanks Twitter!) and was excited to include her story The Farm House in the inaugural issue of the magazine. She currently lives in Savannah, GA and earning her MFA in Writing from Savannah College of Art and Design. Her blog, Runs With Markers, is a great mix of highlighting objects she loves and daily musings in her life (like dressing guinea pigs in sweaters). She is a freelance writer and designer, too, so check out her professional work here and hire her! :)

Thanks Grace for being apart of my crazy magazine fantasies!

If you are interested in contributing to the magazine, go here for submission details.

Monday, April 22, 2013

While I was away...

After a chaotic week in South Florida then a weekend visit from my mother-in-law, I'm finally getting back into the swing of things back in DC. While I was away, the lovely Hitha of Hitha On The Go included me in her series En Route With... where she interviews travel bloggers and frequent travelers about their packing habits, and airport, and airplane rituals. I pretty much go through the exact same process every time I get ready for a trip. What do you do?

Nicole Aguirre is taking the creative world in DC by storm with her forthcoming The Dream Issue of Worn Magazine and recently launched Worn Creative. I was so flattered when I stopped by her pop-up shop at the DC MEETMarket a few weeks ago and she asked to take my picture. Check it out here. (PS - I had the leather jacket I'm wearing in Nicole's photo custom made by hand in Buenos Aires! I love having a bit of my experience there with me wherever I go. Could there be a better souvenir?)

To&From Magazine Classic Man's Birthday Gift Guide

I don't know about you but I wasn't quite finished with the weekend when I woke up today. If you're in the same boat, perhaps you can benefit from a little online shopping this week. I had the pleasure of contributing to Meg and Katie's gift guide magazine, To&From, along with many other fab bloggers and tastemakers!

Their quarterly magazine is on it's third issue for the spring and includes gift ideas for weddings, baby showers, birthdays, graduations, and all your other spring time festivities. You can do your shopping directly from the magazine, too! By clicking on the objects you will be directed to the website were the object is available for purchase.

I curated gifts for that classic man in your life who just doesn't need another tie. He will, however, need some staples to get him through the spring and summer like a ball cap to wear to baseball games, travel gear for using that paid time off, new reading material, a lightweight multi-use button up shirt, and even objects for his home (a map of his favorite city or monogramed whiskey glasses). The guide is Gman approved including his favorite moisturizer, champagne, and flip flops.

Happy shopping!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Exploring Wine: 6 Ladies Night Bubblies Under $20

I haven't done a wine round up on the blog yet, and its long over due. With the change in weather all I can think about is having my best girlfriends over for some bubbly in the garden. Here are six sparkling wines under $20 that would be perfect for ladies night...

1. Riondo Procescco, Veneto, Italy $11
2. Marques de Monistrol 1999, Brut Reserva Privada Cava, Catalonia, Spain $15
3. Chandon Rose, Napa Valley, CA $15
4. Gran Gesta Brut Cava, Catalonia, Spain $14
5. Chandon Blanc de Noirs, Napa Valley, CA $15
6. Bisol Crede Prosecco (Prosecco di Valdobbiadene), Italy $15

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Shoe Love: Flamingos

Sophia Webster Flamingo Printed Vinyl Sandals via Net-a-Porter

As you read this I'm en route to the Sunshine State! I'll be there mixing work and play with family and friends. Many people think of Florida when they see flamingos but the only time we ever saw them growing up was at the zoo! Alligators, seagulls, herons, and squirrels make me think of my home state. Those are all much more abundant. I do, however, need these flamingo heels for my trip. Don't you think?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wardrobe: Cherry Blossoms and Springtime

With the arrival of 80 degree weather and the blooming of the Cherry Blossoms, DC finally welcomed spring this week. Although it felt like we skipped spring and went right on into summer (grumbles). Everyone was out to see the blossoms yesterday, and Gman and I got right in there with the mix of tourists and working professionals. It was fun to people watch and see how each person chose to capture their pictures. There is something captivating about the pillowy puff balls of flowers on the strong, dark branches. Walking through them feels like you are walking through a secret magical garden in the clouds - except that everyone else is in on the secret and wearing tourist costumes. 

I wore the JCrew stripe shirttail dress (sold out but here is a similar one by Lilly Pulitzer) with my favorite Madewell sandals and handbag (old but I like this one and this one too). My necklace is from the Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida and my lipstick is NARS Funny Face. I love this dress because it transitions easily from indoor working to outdoor happy hour. I also loved the contrast of the bright blue stripes against the pretty flowers.

Just in case you are wondering, the flowers aren't particularly fragrant. :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thoughts on Eating Octopus

It was a chilly spring evening in March. The kind we anticipate wearing lighter sweaters and no tights but instead throw on wool coats and closed toed heels. Tammy and I arrived at Brasserie Beck five minutes late. Unusual for us as we always arrive right on time, the first ones to every party. The hostess directed us to our group, most of whom where already waiting at the table. The lovely ladies of Gilt City were hosting us and six other bloggers for a night of fine dinning and a little getting-to-know-you conversation. We all warmly greeted each other, I was so happy to see such familiar faces and looking forward to what the evening held. As we chatted one server took my coat and helped me with my chair, and another offered me a glass of Sauvignon Blanc to start our dinner. I like to start a multi-course meal with this varietal as it usually appeals to many taste buds and goes nicely just about anything usually served to first. It pairs particularly well with cured meat and cheese (including bleu cheeses) and oysters, which is what we were generously served to begin our communal meal.

I realized mid first course that we were in a Belgian restaurant specializing in seafood. I hoped my fear wasn’t detectable on my face. Since I was in the womb I have not had a taste for any creature from the ocean. And by that I mean - if I smell fish I get nauseated and I certainly don’t eat it.

The story starts when my mother was pregnant with me. She is a seafood lover. She loves sushi, grilled grouper sandwiches, scallops in pasta, steamed mussels in butter sauce, raw oysters, and most of all, crab cakes. An ideal meal for her would be a 4 oz. piece of grilled fish with a huge pile of grilled veggies to accompany it. She would eat this meal outdoors in the fresh air with perhaps a glass of chardonnay in hand. It would be near sunset and the landscape would have a golden hue. As if being ripped out of fantasyland and much to her surprise, when she was pregnant with me, she was sick at the mere suggestion of eating seafood. Lucky for her, she was back to normal after I was born. Now, it is common knowledge in my family that I will throw up in a fish market and I cried once when I saw a live lobster thrown into a boiling pot of water.

When I was a little girl, my parents tried to get my sister and I to eat fish sticks. My sister gladly ate them while I could barely gag them down – even though they were fried with delicious breadcrumbs and slathered in ketchup. I went through a phase when I was between 6 and 8 when I would eat Blue Crab legs if we were in a restaurant where they only served seafood. The taste of the ocean lingers in the air in those types of places and overpowers all other flavors. Even the burgers taste like fish. My eating the crab legs was a relief for my parents because my sensitive palate could be accommodated. Then suddenly one day, I hated Blue Crab legs and I haven’t had them in twenty years.

At the age of 16 my family took a trip to the Grand Canyon. We flew out to dude ranch then spent three days rafting down the Colorado River and camping on the banks of the canyon, an incredible experience. There were four college-aged kids in charge of 40 people on our expedition. They cooked everyone three meals a day and set up camp every night. We all slept on cots in the open air and went to the bathroom in a metal bucket that was somehow private while always having the most magnificent views of the canyon. For lunch every day we got tuna salad sandwiches. It was the only choice and if you didn’t eat it you would be mighty hungry when dinner rolled around five hours later. So I ate it. And it was fine. I didn’t gag or whine or embarrass myself. And I thought, maybe my palate changed with adolescence and I like seafood now? Unfortunately, it must have been a time and place type of situation because when I tried to recreate the sandwich at home, I was so disgusted that I ended up giving it to my sister.

As I consider myself a lover of food, I don’t like being limited by my taste buds. I want to be able to participate in life and all of its abundance. At least once a year I try to have something I’ve never eaten before. This usually happens easily when I’m put in similar situations like I was in the Grand Canyon. I’ll be on vacation in an unfamiliar place and sometimes have to order food in an unfamiliar language. There have been times when I’m not even sure what I ate but I was glad to have a warm meal.

At Brasserie Beck I got away with not eating the oysters. It seemed like everyone around me really enjoyed them but I was afraid to. I ate my weight in cured meats and cheese to compensate. My glass was refilled with Sauvignon Blanc at least twice by the end of the first course and the conversations were flowing like a glacial stream on a hot spring day. I wanted everyone at the table to be my best friend and for the night to never end. Several waiters cleared the table and presented the second course. The head chef, Robert Wiedmaier, paid us a visit at this time. He asked how everything was and encouraged us to enjoy this next course. I looked down at the table to find long charred octopus tentacles staring back at me.

I noticed Tammy watching me from across the table. We locked eyes as my new friends gobbled up the sea creature. I could no longer get away with quietly not eating. She outed me by shouting, “Jamie, are you ok with this?” All attention was turned to me. I felt my cheeks blush as someone said, “do you not like seafood?” I didn’t know what to say.

It is universally considered rude to not eat food that is served to you by your host. If you are visiting friends and they spend the day cooking for you, it is insulting to say, “oh sorry, I don’t eat that.” You don’t turn your nose up at someone’s generosity and hospitality. The same rules apply if someone hosts you at a restaurant instead of their home. The last thing I wanted to do was offend the kindness these women were showing us. So finally I said, “I don’t usually have a taste of seafood. But I’ll give this a try.” Then as the words left my mouth, I received an influx of encouragement from everyone at the table, “the texture is like a tender grilled meat” “try it with the salsa on top, it’s a nice combo” “just take a little bite” “let us know what you think.” I was terrified and shaking as I took a piece off of the platter. I smiled and did my best to divert the conversation back to someone else.

The words around me faded to white noise. All I could see was my plate in front of me. I cut into the tentacle. It was tender, a white meat, slightly flakey and softer than a scallop. The salsa was fresh and bright, a combination of cucumbers, roasted peppers, and shaved red onions dressed in oregano and caper vinaigrette. I balanced a quarter-sized amount of meat onto my fork and with as much salsa that would stay on. Then put it in my mouth. It was good. Great actually. It didn’t have an “of the sea” flavor at all. In fact, it was fresh and new and interesting. The combo of the wine, salsa, and octopus made me want to sit on a sun drenched porch somewhere on a beach with white sand and crystal clear water. It made me feel like suddenly winter wasn’t clinging to the air outside. I ate the rest of the portion on my plate and went for more. I surprised my companions and myself. They applauded my efforts discretely as we all commented on how lovely the meal had been thus far.

I couldn’t help but smile. I was so proud of myself. The table was cleared again and the salad course served, arugula with one large prawn. As I looked at the prawn, a wave of excitement came over me. I thought about an episode of Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations where he and his travel companion were eating prawns. They stared by sucking the brains out, and then devoured the bodies. I shivered, then cut the body from the head with my knife and ate it in small pieces with the salad. I left the head alone, baby steps. I felt like a champion. I felt like I climbed a mountain, and a steep one at that. Adrenalin pumped through my veins.

It was now time for the main course and our wine was switched to red. A Pinot Noir to accompany the Thursday night special: roasted Moulard duck breast with brandied sweet potato puree, fricassee of winter vegetables, kumquat marmalade and Madeira jus. By the time dessert and dessert wine came, I was in a state of pure bliss. My taste buds and stomach were sufficiently challenged, then rewarded. Conversations lingered past the table being cleared and check paid. We were making plans to see each other again, to reunite over happy hour or the next blogger event, and vowed to run a 5K together. We put our coats on and dispersed in cabs back to our homes, still squeezing in one last bit of gossip as we parted ways.

That night I realized something. For those of us who have a curious soul and traveling mind, we don’t always have to go far from home to experience the rush of encountering the unknown. Sometimes, all we have to do is choose something different on the menu.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Call for Submissions! High Heeled Traveler Issue Two: The Road Not Taken

Hello, dear readers! Thanks so much for all your support for the launch of High Heeled Traveler, The Magazine. I am nearly sold out of Issue One: Exploring Home (so exciting)! So if you would like a copy, go here to purchase.

As soon as the first issue was printed, I began working on issue two (talk about a whirlwind!). Issue two will center around Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken. Here is the poem in case you are unfamiliar:

Mountain Interval
The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost (1871-1963)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim, 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I always choke up when I read this poem as it touches me in a very real and emotional way. Sometimes it can be hard to make as simple a decision as what to each for lunch. Other times we are faced with life decisions that can lead us down on path or another. I see this more and more in relation to my career as I age. As I made decisions not to take the traditional path, some doors close that can never be reopened. But the path I've chosen is refreshing and challenging and welcome. This applies to all aspects of our lives, private and public. Taking control of our lives and making impassioned and courageous decisions instead of living in fear, can make all the difference.

I am looking for artists, writers, poets, chefs, historians, musicians, and experts in their fields to share their stories and images inspired by this poem. Topics can include anything related to art, architecture, culture, science, gastronomy, travel, style and even personal memoirs. Submissions can be made by email to Please submit poetry and writings as PDF documents and artwork or images as high-resolution TIFF files. Don't forget to include your contact information. All work must be original and created for this issue. Deadline for submissions is JUNE 1.

A special note if you are interested in submitting original music or video, I would love to include these by publishing the lyrics and stills in the magazine with a link to the song or video on my blog.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Exploring Wine: La Crema Pinot Noir

La Crema, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2011, $21.99
My rating for this bottle? I would drink a few glasses.

As I've become known amongst family and friends (you, dear readers!) as a wine enthusiast, when I have guests over they love to bring me their favorite bottle of vino to try. They want to share something they love with me and gain my approval of their affections. As with anything taste driven, this can end in a new found favorite to add to my list, or in polite disagreement. I normally don't review wine friends give me on the blog as I don't want to play favorites. In the case of this La Crema Pinot Noir, I've gone against my own rule. 

This is my mom's steadfast, dependable go-to. She buys this Pinot when she's stressed, exhausted, overwhelmed and not interested in searching through the racks. She buys this when she is just looking to buy something she knows will be good. At my liquor store it was a few dollars over the $20 limit for this series, however she said it is under $20 at her grocery store. She brought this as a hostess gift the last time she visited.

When you first open the bottle and poor a glass, it smells like you just stepped into the woods on a dewy morning. It has an earthy wetness to it that is followed by, when sipped, a burst of black cherries. The flavors are subtle and it is light-medium bodied. Once the wine opened up a bit the earthiness gave way to the fruitiness. You could easily drink this by itself while watching [insert guilty pleasure trashy TV here] or with pasta and red sauce, a hearty salad, or some deliciously charred grilled meats. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Weekend Recap: Magazine Launch Party

Last Saturday night I hosted a launch party in celebration of my magazine. I decided to host the party at my own home to go along with the theme of "Exploring Home". What does home me to me? Being able to share my private garden with family and friends.

My mom and two of her sisters were in town for Easter weekend and since one of them was a contributor for the magazine, I thought it would be lovely to have the party with them here. Luckily most of the flowers in the garden were in bloom (except the Cherry Blossom! boo) so I only needed to add a few bouquets to round out the decorating. Flowers are always my indulgence when entertaining! Even if I just have overnight guests, I love the excuse to bring some color and freshness to my home.

The party was a grand success - wine flowed like water, great conversations were had with old friends and new, and I felt so special! Towards the end of the party, people were purchasing the magazine and asking me to sign it for them. I've never done something like that before and I felt like I really made it in the world! I was slightly embarrassed to do it, but so happy that I could take a chance on a new venture and have such dedicated support from my friends and family. You all give me the courage to do it again! Cheers!

I also want to give a special shout out to my friend Liz Nunziato. I had this whole toast prepared, but my mind went blank when I went to speak. Liz is one of my dearest friends and a very talented graphic designer and artist. I call her sensei as she taught me how to use InDesign and gave me a crash course in the graphic design and publishing worlds. I literally could not have done this magazine without her guidance and hard work taking my ideas and making them a reality.

PS - Order a copy of Issue One: Exploring Home here.

my family!

my beautiful friends

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