Photo by Trey Ratcliff

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Beyond the Sea and Sand in Curacao - Art + Culinary Adventures

If you find yourself on the Caribbean island of Curacao, try to pull yourself away from the beach and head to the interior where Evelien Sipkes, a well respected ceramicist and jewelry designer, has her atelier, gallery, workshop and home. I spent quite awhile with her, discovering how she crafts necklaces, bracelets, rings and ceramics with inspiration from the surrounding nature. But, it's even more fascinating to discover that her creativity goes beyond these artistic objects. She's also a chef who hosts wine-paired dinners, high tea and lunches where she not only creates the culinary delights but also the table ware.  I recently interviewed Evelien for ForbesLife.






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Friday, December 29, 2017

Urban Winter Wear for Frigid Weather

With most of the eastern half of the U.S. swathed in frigidness, there's more reason than ever to layer up with lightweight, but warm, fabrics. These (below) are some of my favorite items most from Smartwool that's noted for its Merino wool products -- many of which I've been wearing the past week when the temperatures in Manhattan hovered around 10 degrees at times.
Men reading this article can scroll through the Smartwool inventory as well as that of Stio, the other company I mention to find warm wear that looks good and performs well.


Smartwool Cascade Valley Asymmetric Tunic Sweater


What's especially great about this tunic is that the zipper on the neckline converts into a thick, cozy turtleneck. So it looks fashionable when paired with leggings but it also performs well in the cold.

I like to pair this dress with a fleece vest, like one sold by Toad & Company.



Smartwool Flip Mitt gloves



Smartwool neck gaitor



Smartwool Marble Ridge cap



Smartwool leggings or tights



And, because I get exceedingly cold, I pair these leggings with fleece tights that are sold by a number of manufacturers.

Smartwool underwear



As to all the additional outwear, I favor jackets made by Stio, a company many people are not familiar with.

This is their Sweetwater Fleece Jacket



I often double this jacket with the insulated Azure XT Hooded Jacket


And if I need even greater body coverage to protect me from the elements, instead of the insulated jacket I'll wear the Hometown Down Parka




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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Book Review: Painting Outdoor Scenery

Aside from writing about my travels, taking photographs, and sometimes even recording sounds, whether I’m listening to indigenous music or just the ambient tweeting of birds, I also occasionally paint outdoors, something that’s referred to as plein air painting. I tote a set of watercolor postcards and a micro-size travel watercolor kit. So, when I recently received a copy of The Art of Plein Air Painting: An Essential Guide to Materials, Concepts and Techniques for Painting Outdoors by M. Stephen Doherty, I looked forward to reviewing it. However, I wouldn’t call it an actual guide to the techniques and nor does it provide a wealth of specific tips on plein air painting. Instead, I found it to be of historical interest, with lovely images of Edouard Manet and Claude Monet painting in the woods or in a boat, as well as their works and those of other artists, such as the American Impressionists. There is information provided on the techniques of various painters and schools of painting, including Jean-Baptise-Camille Corot, considered one of the most renowned landscape painter, and The American Hudson River School, most famous for its dramatic images of New York State’s mountains and rivers. However, again, these chapters are now a “how-to,” but rather simply provide inspiration for the budding painter. The back of the book does include some helpful resources, such as additional books on the topic, blogs and a Facebook page that may be worth checking out.

I don’t take my watercolor kit with me on all my trips because there often isn’t enough time to sit quietly and paint. But, among the places that I’ve visited where I have painted outdoor is New Hope, Pennsylvania that’s noted for what’s often referred to as Pennsylvania Impressionism.

                                        





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Monday, December 25, 2017

Independent Art Fair - Video

I and a fellow artist, Oliver Correa as well as additional artists: Ash Fox, Cadence Hooks, Ari Fraser, Bibi Tran, Vanessa Burkly, and Marine Naotika recently showed our contemporary paintings, collage works and photography at two independent art fairs that we set up in New York City.  (Oliver showed several paintings of his dad, Alfredo Correa, a prominent Venezuelan artist.) It's something we hope to do several times a year. The fair was a big success, both for the congenial vibe as well as the networking options, and being able to get the word out about independent artists.

My photography prints that are mounted on board are for sale all year on my website . And, any additional photos from my Instagram feed are also available upon request.

This short video shows off some of the varied works from our art fairs.






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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Modernist Villa in Turks & Caicos

When I visit the Caribbean, whether I'm hiking, visiting a spa, or lounging in my accommodation, I prefer to be connected with nature. So while driving in Turks and Caicos, I visited Sol y Luna, a luxe villa, and immediately fell in love with it, not because of it's architecture -- though there's much to love, given it's modernist sensibility -- but, rather, the fact that no matter where I roamed on the property, I was connected with the sky and sea. I recently interviewed the owner of this stellar property for ForbesLife.






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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Gear Review: Tiny Convertible Backpack

Unlike most people, I didn't immediately jump on the Fjallraven bandwagon. Fjallraven is a Finland-based manufacturer of sturdy gear that now has a loyal following, including customers who would never set foot on a hiking trail or a ski slope. Nonetheless, I recently got ahold of one of their products, the Kanken Mini that, like many of their products, comes in a rainbow of color choices. I didn't choose this to make a fashion statement, however, but I wanted to test it out as a small convertible bag/backpack to tote along on the plane for the bare necessities as well as once I land as a backpack to carry a beverage, lunch and sunscreen once I hit the trail. It's exceedingly light (barely 8 ounces) and small, measuring just over one inch by five inches by just under eight inches. It's waterproof, which is more than I can say for most packs where you're still forced to wrap everything inside in a plastic bag to keep things dry. I wore it recently during a snowstorm in New York City, and found that it kept everything completely dry. The only downside I found: I literally had to watch a short video in order to figure out how to convert it from a hang bag to a backpack! But, once you follow the directions, you're all set.


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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Avoiding Extras on Budget Flights

A budget airline may sound like a great deal, until the extras pile up, whether it's the pricy food options or the minimal free carry-on baggage allowances. I get around all of these add-ons by doing the following:

1- I bring my own healthy snacks, such as hummus dip with red pepper and unsalted pretzels; shelled unsalted pistachios, low-fat cheese, high-fiber low-sodium crackers, non-fat plain Greek yogurt, red grapes.

2- I don't check any luggage. Instead, I have a small carry-on that fits the airline's dimensions. I wear my bulkiest clothing and, aside from the shoes I wear, I only pack one additional pair.

3- I don't pay extra for choosing a seat, opting, instead for the seat I'm given.

I was recently interviewed on this topic and my one of my biggest tips is gaining access to an airport lounge without having to pay the day rate. American Express gives its Platinum members free access to lounges all over the world. Not only are lounges a prime place to de-stress but they also have numerous food and beverage options. In some, you're able to take a shower, which is a real perk when traveling across numerous time zones internationally and then having to deal with a long layover. And you can check email without paying a surcharge. Of all the lounges available, its AmEx's own Centurion lounges that are some of the best. The image below reflects just one of the many placid spaces in their lounge at the otherwise horrid LaGuardia Airport in New York City.



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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Gear Review: Micro-Sized Toiletries

How much space in your luggage do your toiletries take up? I traveled with someone recently who had full size bottles of shampoo, body wash and conditioner, despite the fact that I told her to take travel sizes because we would be carrying everything on our back as we walked a trail day after day for a week. When I want to significantly cut down on the size of toiletries -- because I'm on a long-distance bike, hike or bike trip --  I can go even more minimal than travel sizes. I use products that fit in the palm of your hand. These are not liquid but rather dry leaves -- like the pages of a book -- and they come as shampoo, laundry wash, body wash, conditioner, and hand wash. I also can pack a small bottle of concentrated liquid soap that does triple duty as a body wash, laundry detergent or dish washing liquid. Trek & Travel or Sea to Summit are some of the brands that you can find on Amazon, REI (including in their stores) or in other outlets that specialize in sporting goods/camping gear.
When I'm on a trail, carrying gear in a backpack for 10 miles or so, every ounce counts.



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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Enjoy A Flower-Centric Menu in Bangkok

Anyone who has a love affair with flowers and gardens as I do will want to visit a new restaurant dedicated to edible flowers. Midnight Moon recently opened in Bangkok on the property of the Museum of Floral Culture. The latter museum is ringed by a stunning garden, and the museum honors Queen Sikirit of Thailand who has long been a proponent of preserving gardens. Reserve a table at Midnight Moon for the multi-course, flower-centric menu and you'll also be treated to a guided tour of the garden at night. Find out more about the Museum and Midnight Moon in the article I recently wrote for ForbesLife.


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