Architecturally Aspen



I knew Aspen was originally a historic mining town and the adorable Victorian cottages were de riguer at the turn of the century.  I knew Jerome Wheeler settled here in 1883 after the nomadic Ute Indians moved on ~ they believed that movement was life.  What I didn't know was Mr. Wheeler (of the Macy's family fortune) settled here and invested heavily in the Aspen silver ore mining business. 




The town was so isolated there was no way to get the ore out, so Jerome was instrumental in bringing a railroad to town.  That solved the problem so well in fact that a second railroad came in and this little town was booming.  Women and families followed.  They say women bring civility.  Aspen became a very desirable, albeit a hard to reach destination.  It still is, but that's what makes it so special!

Prefab homes from kits from places like the Sears catalog and Pan Abode were pretty standard and efficient.  When men came into money they would add on a porch or bay window here, fish scale trim there.  The homes grew as the families' wealth did.






I love the original carriage stones.  Women would step on them to help lift themselves into carriages.  It is common to see hitching posts and old fashioned boot cleaners.







Subdued color schemes became popular and landscapers were soon picking up on the trend.  The colors of the home were repeated in the planting material to balance out the alpine landscaping.  Now we tend to see rock gardens and cottage style plantings bursting with many diverse blooms.




Life was good in Aspen till the panic of 1893.  The silver economy collapsed.  Ranching and farming  became the new normal.  People were happy, though.  The town needed to reinvent itself.  With a fresh infusion of money, skiing and snow sports became the next natural viable way to attract people to Aspen.  Elizabeth Paecpke persuaded her husband Walter to invest in the cultural ideas of the time and bring thought leaders to the valley.  Aspen has respected world class culture and art programs that are globally recognized.




The ski company was formed in 1946 and once again Aspen's population began growing like crazy. Brick mansions were springing up along side the Victorians and US Grant style homes.  Larger Victorians remained popular but bigger soon became better and controls and restrictions on growth and development needed to be put in place residentially and commercially.






To stop the creation of "new Vics" or faux Victorians, the historic Victorian homes must adhere to a strict code of building additions that are contrasting in architecture.  Often the additions were 3 to 4 times the size.  You can clearly see the original home and clearly see the addition. 










"Peach blow" sand stone from the quarries in Basalt (the town next to Aspen) brought over on the railroad were used for the home foundations back then.  Today you can tell if a home (or part of a home) is an Aspen original if you can see the peach blow stone foundation of days of old.

This house is presently getting a little face lift.  It is not unusual to see original homes that may be, shall we say, " little off balance." I have talked to people who seem to either love it or hate it but...






that's what makes this small town so charming and endlessly fascinating!!








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The Class



If you haven't heard of The Class by Taryn Toomey you soon will.  There is a reason why Well and Good deems 2017 the year of Taryn Toomey.   With big expansion plans, a collaboration with Lululemon, campaigns with New Balance and J. Crew, retreats that consistently sell out, a high vibe jewelry line and I don't know what else, Taryn's devotee list is growing, and I am now one of them!




The class began organically.  Taryn started by teaching friends, which led to a rental space in the Flatiron district.  Now with a permanent space of her own since January, I was dying to see the new "energetically balanced" studio in TriBeCa.  It does not disappoint!




From the moment you walk in (after walking up 3 flights of stairs, which seems slightly cruel) a kind of calm washes over you.  The chic pinky-taupey gray neutral space with its fashion forward decor, famous crystal embedded floor, flickering candles, uber chic bathroom with luxury driven products is hard to completely classify, just like the workout.  The design was done by class regulars The Crystalline.  The girls wanted people to experience moments throughout the studio.  I can confirm they achieved their goal.  From the moment I walked in to the moment I entered the powder room before I left, I oohed and ahhed.

After falling in love with the sculptural quality of  Christoper Boots metal lighting and the pendants by Kelly Wearstler, everything fell into place.  Taryn wanted a warm space that people wanted to spend time in.















The space is so beautiful and I appreciate the attention to detail AND the intention in the design, BUT it is the icing on the cake because what you really come for is The Class.

The workout is an immersive mind, body, spirit experience.  It's been called cathartic, life changing, marriage saving, transformative, character building, an intense boot camp meets therapy session.  It is an exercise in space clearing.  With its slow build of moves like jumping jacks, leg kicks, burpees, planks, and lunges, these exercises are not unfamiliar.  You start slowly and the intensity builds.  As the music gets louder and louder, you are being tested (without judgement).  You are creating the fire within.  Can you go deeper, further, letting go of anything that is holding you back?  You get lost in the moment, in the music.  You breathe audibly, sometimes shouting "hut" in unison and it feels amazing!  It is difficult, but knowing you will come back to yourself momentarily helped me get  through it.  Each round of exercises begins and ends with you checking in with yourself, feeling centered.  Placing your hand on your heart reinforces, by touch, the intention of letting go to create the full mind, body connection.  By fatiguing yourself, doing a little free flow dance, then shaking it off as it were, you are shedding emotional baggage.  Working through the exercises is a metaphor for working through life's challenges and releasing what doesn't serve you.  You leave everything in that room and all that remains is a sweaty body and a clear mind.



Taryn is well on her way to becoming a lifestyle brand, one with a message similar to mine.  Holding space for transformation and healing is what a life coach strives to do.  We must always go inward.  It starts with our thoughts.  They can keep us from being our best selves, so if we shed negativity, self doubt, coulda shoulda's ~ we are clearing a path forward, one that is healthier and allows us to Live BeautiFULLY.





Through a very personal experience Taryn had in Peru she intends set up a 1:1 business model.  "For every class taken in New York, a child in Peru has access to toiletries, school supplies, or a similarly taught class to help them find a physical, emotional and mental release."  I ask you ~ what do you do for physical, emotional or mental release?






photos: Taryn via Jennifer Medina for RackedNY, crystal pendant via Jamie Baird, workout via Michael Sofronski for NYPost, CLI, The Class

Dreaming BIG in Chocolate



Did you know July 7th is National Chocolate Day?  Neither did I till I saw it where I get all my news now ~ social media.  It is perfect timing because I discovered not only the perfect chocolate for any gift giving occasion, but one with an inspirational backstory as well ~ all wrapped together in pretty perfect packaging.


Maggie Louise Confections is an Austin, TX based company that makes haute custom designed chocolates.  Maggie Callahan, the Cordon Bleu trained chocolatier firecracker is the woman behind the sweet brand.  Combining art and science inspires the whimsical designs that are not only a visual feast for the eye, but also have the power to soothe the soul.


Not unlike a fashion line, new collections are introduced seasonally.  Maggie is inspired by fashion, travel, entertainment, iconic references; some with a nostalgic twist.  Customization is also a big part of the business.





What I am truly inspired by, besides the obvious, is Maggie's journey from Harvard educated lawyer to confectioner.  She followed her passion, melded her analytical side with her creative side, and broke rules along the way in order to live happily and authentically.




The Going Bananas gift box benefits St. Jude's Children's Hospital, a charity which is near and dear to my heart since visiting there several years ago.  If you are interested, see the post here.  Maggie Louise Confections collaborates with artists, organizations, and celebrities in an effort to raise awareness, raise money, or simply to raise the fun factor!




The black and white packaging and the decor of the store are as fashion forward as the artisanal  chocolates made within.  This helps create a rich, full, indulgent experience.  After all isn't that what it's all about?  The candy atelier transports you out of Austin and into a Parisian salon, with its graphic, Art Deco references and jewelry like display cases.








How are you dreaming BIG?  Are you breaking the rules and following your passion?





I'm certainly inspired (and hungry).  You do know chocolate is good for you too, right?  Do what's right ~ we all have the power within to be happy and live authentically and beauty~FULLY!









The Ibu Movement



An Ibu is a woman of respect in Indonesian.  The Ibu Movement is a movement of women helping each other grow into economic self sufficiency.  Artisans, craftswomen, collaborators coming together to lift each other up economically through "the art of their hands."

Ebullient Susan Hull Walker began this movement just a few years ago.  Woman from 34 countries and 71 cooperatives around the world create beautiful textiles, jewelry, home decor and more, to enrich their lives and the lives of others.  It is a matter of independence and self respect explains beautiful Ali McGraw, Ibu's ambassador extraordinaire this season.  I had a chance to chat with Ali who was so gracious, and at 79 years old, listening to her speak, I could't help but feel like I was in the presence of a very spiritual soul.  Obviously passionate about furthering the cause, she took time and care with everyone she spoke to in an effort to make sure each of us understood Ibu's message and her belief of being of service and helping raise up women around the world.  The self esteem a woman feels when helping her family and making money of her own is  completely transformative!




I really loved everything I was seeing and noted how modern everything was.  In some cases Susan and her team design things in house and have them executed by global craftswomen.  Ibu also buys things they come across from places far and wide.  I especially loved the message bracelets woven out of caña flèche fiber by a Zenu artisan group in Northern Columbia.  Mantras can be created by pairing words that have meaning for each of us.














Ali thanking Susan and her team

I am a huge believer in empowering others to help themselves, so I especially loved this message.  These women work hard using their talent and craft to enrich themselves and their standing in the family.

From the Kuma Indians in Panama to the Massai women in Africa to the Miao women in a tribe in Southwest China, and beyond ~ Ibu by exposure, encouragement and collaboration help give these of women and others self respect, the ability to carry on family traditions and save a dying art form.







Ali mentioned her love of connecting with others.  The world has gotten so small.  Connecting women around the world and changing lives has a ripple effect that is far reaching.



Ibu has a showroom in Charleston on King Street that is on my short list of places to visit in the coming year but until then the website is shop able.

Ibu collaborates next with Charlotte Moss, and knowing Charlotte's aesthetic, this is sure to be another show stopper!




photos myself, Ibu Movement