Southwest Road Trip

Back in January, I learned I'd need to go out to Arizona for the full-time job and my wheels immediately started spinning. "Southwest road trip in March???" I texted Jake with a cactus emoji. He didn't hesitate, putting together three possible itineraries nearly overnight that would take us through the desert, down canyons, over mountains, and more.

Well, over the last week we put 1200 miles and a thick coat of orange dust on a rented Toyota doing just that. Starting in Scottsdale, we traveled North up Arizona to Sedona, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, and Monument Valley, then over into Utah to see Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. 


After Jake met me in Scottsdale, southwest sushi take-out in hand, we hit the saguaro-lined road headed North in search of red rocks. They showed up in the distance after about two hours, amidst cooler temperatures and passing rain showers. It’s a dramatic entrance into Sedona, buttes rising all around, their glowing red sediment beckoning you into Northern Arizona.  

We stayed at The Orchards Inn, which was my favorite stay of the trip – it may have been too nice, we were totally spoiled on the first night. A cozy corner fireplace, king bed with seven (!) fluffy pillows, and a back deck with just about the best view in town made us want to stay the rest of the week.


The hiking in Sedona is so very pleasant. Jake’s itinerary included PLENTY of hiking to no one’s surprise, and Sedona’s perfectly maintained, scenic trails were just the way to warm my wimpy winter legs up. We explored the Baldwin Loop the first day, an easy two mile trek around Cathedral Rock that leads to a perfect little swimming hole, and then the Mystic Trail, Hogwash Trail and Broken Arrow Trail on day two, which totaled to six miles over and around the red rocks. The views are incredible, so there were plenty of stops to take it all in and snap photos (I brought my twin lens reflex). Even at the end when we emerged at the Chapel of the Holy Cross, I felt like I could have gone further.

But we didn’t, and instead I got a double order of avocado toast and scrambled eggs at Pump House Station, to Jake’s amusement when they brought two separate place settings all for me. I cleaned it up.

Sedona is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and the mystic vibes, vortex-seekers, UFO tours, and kitschy crystal shops only add to it. I could hardly believe it was only the beginning of our trip, and it was tough to leave such a desert haven.  


We climbed the mountains along the Oak Creek Canyon, spiraling up towards Flagstaff. Towering evergreens begin to line the landscape, snow-capped Mount Humphrey looms into view, and you begin to wonder if you’re in the same state. Arizona is incredibly diverse, a range of elevations bringing on wildly different climates that make for a packing challenge (so many layers). We were shivering when we got out of the car at The Weatherford Hotel.

This historic hotel had that old New England creepiness that I feel at home in; no doubt that place was riddled with ghosts. Our room was charming. The bathroom was a Wes Anderson moment, offering an emerald claw foot tub complete with a hand-held shower head. Not our first choice after a long day of hiking, but it was awfully cute and did the job.  

The real destination in Flagstaff was Pizzicletta, an infamous local pizza joint. I’d been once before last summer, on another work trip, and had talked it up to Jake ever since. The tiny establishment serves up beautiful wood-fired pies, and we enjoyed arugula-laden slices at a long family-style table, dough flying around behind us. We talked late into the night and watched locals filter in and out.

Grand Canyon

After an early breakfast at Tourist Home Café, where we loaded up on eggs, root veggies, and more avocado toast anticipating the hike ahead (and the lack of decent restaurants to come), we hit the road toward the Grand Canyon. The South Rim is only about an hour and a half away.

We started at the East end, at the Desert Watch Tower. You’ve never seen something so big in your life as the first time you lay eyes on the Grand Canyon in all its glory. Tourist-ridden though it may be, that big hole in the earth is worth seeing again and again and again.

We made stops along the rim, and ventured down into the canyon at the South Kaibab Trail. It’s a very popular hiking spot, and for that reason, a bit intimidating; heading down the initial switchback you witness some people in way over their heads coming back up the steep trail, red in the face, huffing and puffing. The further down we wandered, the better the view got, but the more nervous I became about climbing back up as glassy eyed tourists trudged on by.


We ventured just a mile in to Ooh Aah Point, which certainly lives up to its name. To my delight a caravan of beautiful mules clopped by, surefooted along the steep trail. My fellow bipedal tourists were not so thrilled; farm girl though I am, I have to say the inevitable manure is POTENT and in high concentration, adding quite a bit of funk to the hike. One guy couldn’t handle it, gagging his way down the trail. We chuckled.

The hike back up was not as bad as it looked, and I felt good emerging to the endless view once again. Although, I personally can’t imagine hiking down to the Colorado river and back up. Maybe someday, but not today!

We hit the Visitor Center gift shop on the way out, investing in an irresistible Grand Canyon edition Pendleton blanket. This in turn made us members of the Grand Canyon Association, for which we also received a stuffed bighorn sheep we named Rammy.

Rammy on the dashboard, it was back in the car, another two hours to go until Monument Valley. We covered a lot of ground that day. 

Monument Valley

A key decision we made was to stop at the Whole Foods in Flagstaff, and stock up on snacks and peanut butter sandwich supplies. Food gets pretty scarce at this point in the journey, and there really isn't even much at Grand Canyon - it's all sort of bland looking and overpriced. Monument Valley, in all its awe and beauty, is not exactly a place to go eat. Bring your own supplies. 

It was a race against sunset; we sped down the endless, lonely highway to catch those glowing buttes as the sun creeped nearer the horizon line. We arrived at The View Hotel just in time, photographers making a nightly pilgrimage to capture the three iconic mittens entering twilight. We burned rubber, Jake practically exiting the moving vehicle in a tuck-and-roll, clutching his DSLR. So worth it though. This was possibly the most beautiful, picture perfect sunset I have ever seen. 


The hotel itself was great, living up to it's name 100%. Waking up to those three mittens peeking outside the sliding glass door was just surreal.

Riding in Monument Valley was the highlight of the trip for me. We took a rental-smashing drive down the treacherous Valley Drive Road to find Dineh Trail Rides, where we met up with our Navajo guide Jerome and the three mustangs that would carry us through the reservation. 

Seeing the valley through the ears of my mount, Geronimo, was one of the best experiences of my life. We trotted across the desert, Jerome pointing out the passing buttes named for their curious shapes, and the settlements of Navajo families, illustrating the history of his people's connection with the land they were placed on. "They sent us here to die," he explained. "But we are resilient. We survived, we're still here today, and we have embraced the land we live on and our way of life."

Patting our horses in gratitude for an unforgettable ride, and thanking Jerome who bid us "hágoónee", we loaded back into the dusty rental, destined for Bryce Canyon. We made a quick stop in Page for excellent Mexican food and a quick view of the Instagram-favorite Horseshoe Bend. We made it to Bryce Canyon just before nightfall, exhausted as we tucked into a sort of weird spaghetti dinner at a cowboy buffet.

Bryce Canyon National Park

The next morning we awoke early thrown back into winter; a light snow had fallen and the thinner air was a chilly 30 degrees. Jake scraped ice off the Toyota's windshield and we headed towards the canyon.

If you want to get an idea of what it's like to live on Mars, Bryce Canyon National Park is the place to go. And what a treat to have it frosted with a little snow! The orange hoodoos rising from the steep cliffs, dotted with Ponderosa pines offers a gorgeous pallet that I wanted to live inside. 


We hiked down from Sunrise point and over to the Queen's Garden Trail. There were so many fun nooks and crannies to explore. Lots of little doors are chiseled out of the rocks and natural windows frame picture perfect views. It was dreamlike and romantic - and sort of a difficult hike back up! Wrapped up in all the surreal beauty, you don't realize how far down you've gone.

But we made it up just in time. We watched a little blizzard sweep over the canyon, and fade the orange landscape into creamy white. We made it to the car just as the view was completely erased by falling snow.

Zion National Park

Our final destination was Zion National Park, not too far from Bryce. The drive into the park along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is sublime, the road curving around towering sandstone cliffs, sending you through a mile long tunnel carved into the center of a mountain and spilling you down an impressive switchback, into the little town of Springdale. You expect a T-Rex to come around the corner at any moment. 

We had (Jake had) hoped to attempt The Narrows, a gorge hike down the Virgin River. I was feeling very nervous about this one, water levels high as snow melt trickles in this time of year and cold currents making for numb toes. And it's not an easy hike to boot. Jake had faith in me though, and I nervously tried on neoprene socks and a dry suit in preparation for the next day.

To Jake's disappointment and my relief, the river flash flooded overnight after a downpour, and the trail was closed to hikers. I promised Jake we'd come back in warmer temperatures and a gentler current. Instead, we decided to take on the Hidden Canyon Trail; if we couldn't see the park from the bottom, might as well climb to the top.


The most difficult hike of our trip, the initial switchback going up Hidden Canyon isn't much fun, but things get easier even as they look more scary. You become very exposed as the narrow path cuts into the side of the steep canyon, grab-chains offering a little comfort for your left hand. The views are sweeping though, and you forget to be scared. The hanging canyon that the path leads you to is serene and fun to explore, and we sat down to snack on a granola bar. 

We did two more little hikes after this, The Canyon Overlook Trail and Emerald Pools Trail which both offered easy access to incredible vistas (and waterfalls!). It was a full day and we saw the park from all sorts of interesting angles. At the end of the day, we just hopped on one of the shuttle buses to do a full loop around the park, sleepily taking it all in one last time.

We had an indulgent celebration dinner at Zion Pizza & Noodle Co., where we ordered both pizza AND noodles, and enjoyed it on the deck as sunset illuminated the mountains. It was the perfect ending, and we went to bed early in preparation for the journey home. 

I can't recommend doing this trip yourself enough - it was such a refreshing perspective on our country, offering all sorts of adventure. I'm most happy to be home, New England spring within reach, but I'll always be ready to grab my cowgirl hat and head back out West.

A Quick Escape from Winter

Winter on the farm means pulling on my heavy insulated overalls, breaking through frozen water bucket after frozen water bucket, lugging hay out to barren pastures, and a host of other frigid, less-fun chores that often leave me dreaming of a warmer escape. Luckily there is one nearby that I can always count on, offering chilled bones and runny noses some tropical humidity, lush flora, and soft white light from every direction. That's the Botanic Garden at Smith College.


I spent the 20 degree morning on Saturday getting the horses set up for the day out in their frosted pasture (they don't mind), and arrived home chilly but game to finish a little last minute holiday shopping with Jake in downtown Northampton. The weekend before Christmas, you can imagine the chaos. Pushing through Thornes at noontime I was still pretty frozen and feeling sleepy. We made the executive decision that the only good, right place to be in that town at that moment was the Botanic Garden.

Passing through the first door to the Warm Temperate House, the first deep breath of dewy air is like a drug. How had we forgotten August so quickly? Layers are shed in the heat, attention turned to the omnipresent plant life. Every shade of green, every strange variety, blooming from the ground, creeping along walls, and cascading from the ceiling. 


The greenhouses became a labyrinth, and we wandered along the paths from glass door to glass door. The stillness was such a relief after being caught up in a swell of panicked shoppers downtown, plants oblivious to the number of days until Christmas. 


I felt so much better after submerging in that tropical cleanse for an hour, fingers, toes, and mood thoroughly defrosted. Green plant life, natural light, and warmth are actual medicine. (The happiest of memories are too. Jake and I went to the Botanic Garden on our first date.)


This winter, don't forget about the Botanic Garden. Treat yourself to a little time in there and suddenly spring won't seem so far away.

Custom Holiday Cards

It's hard to believe how quickly Christmas is coming...I hate to rush it, Thanksgiving pies not even in the oven yet, but I'm already starting to feel the pressure of everything that needs to get done in December. 

I did get a jump start on my holiday greeting cards this year! A little line drawing of my barn. And, I'm taking orders for custom cards! If you want your farm (or home, or studio, or cat, or anything) on the front instead of mine, drop me a note! I think it's a nice personal, but subtle, take on holiday correspondence. 


37 days until Christmas...? Place your orders soon!

Logo Design: Stephanie Boyd Works

When Stephanie Boyd led me down the stairs to her pottery studio in Williamstown, I was blown away by the depth and breadth of her work, and the evidence of an intense practice. Finished mugs lined shelves, several works in progress awaited colorful patterns and a final glaze, and new ideas were sketched out not far from her throwing wheel. Stephanie was particularly excited about a new process she was trying out involving monoprinting right onto her clay, creating funky patterns and interesting textures.


I get so excited to see other artists' workspaces, getting a window into their unique creative process. There was a lot going on this one; Stephanie has played with an impressive variety of styles and methods since she devoted herself to pottery full time four years ago, creating an exciting body of work under the business Stephanie Boyd Works. She was feeling like it was time to start bringing it all together under a recognizable brand though, so we started on a logo!


We wanted something clean and versatile that would speak well to her wide breadth of work, from timeless tablewares to bold statement pieces, as well as whatever new direction she may take next. It was important to keep things fun, too, because Stephanie's work is super fun. Did you see that monster plate?! 

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The final logo makes use of one of my hand drawn potted plants, with a little Matisse flair that Stephanie has been infusing into her own work lately too. Each element of this one is brush stroke heavy, reflecting Stephanie's artistic approach to each piece and the confidence and freedom she does so with.

Here's a few alternates that I will not soon forget. Pottery is so relaxing to doodle, bringing me back to freshman year drawing class where hours were spent with in front of colossal still life sets with dusty charcoal in hand.

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The empowered mug hand was meant to speak to some of her more socially and politically focused work. Stephanie is organizing an impressive collaborative art project called Vessels for Change, in which local potters and artists are joining forces to create and sell mugs to benefit the Berkshire Immigrant Center. They've already sold out on the mugs, but you can still make a donation!

This was such a fun project to work on; developing brands for artists is particularly important work to me and I'm happy with the direction this logo took. Thanks Stephanie!

All images courtesy of Stephanie Boyd Works

Finger Lakes Road Trip

The Finger Lakes are a place I lament to admit I didn’t fully appreciate when I was in school out there; I feel like I was always counting the days until I was back in Massachusetts. Now I miss the rolling wine country terribly, and always look forward to my annual pilgrimage back to Western New York. And this year Jake came with me!

Our first stop was the little town of Skaneateles, which sits perched on its clear, crystal blue lake. It was lunchtime so we stopped into Skaneateles Bakery, where we split a turkey sandwich on homemade bread and an almond cookie (in anticipation of a huge dinner). We poked around the village, stopping in an antique shop or two and then got back on our way towards Geneva. 


Geneva is striking when you first drive along Route 14 and see Seneca Lake in all its glory; especially this time of year as the leaves turn. Colorful row houses lead the way to Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where I spent my collegiate days. I pointed out the places I used to live to Jake, and took him down to the boathouse where the lake was still as I’d ever seen it. 


We met Western New York friends Katie and Aaron at one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Ports Cafe, and indulged in an autumnal feast. You always start with a baked brie at Ports, which was garnished with cherries and walnuts on this particular evening, and then I enjoyed a perfect piece of halibut with butternut squash risotto. We were too full leaving the restaurant, especially after the chocolate banana tort finale, but went on to our favorite wine bar, Microclimate, anyhow.

I’m not a wine drinker anymore, but I was so happy to be back in that cozy, rustic little bar on Linden Street. I helped Jake (sort of) with his flight of Finger Lake reds, and we laughed late into the evening.


The next morning the four of us had a very trendy brunch at the new H.J. Stead Company, also on Linden, which served an impressive cast iron tostada. We took one last stroll around campus and said goodbye to Katie and Aaron, and were ready to head South along the lake to Watkins Glen, and then on to Ithaca. 

I visited Watkins Glen once previously as part of a geology class, and it was even better than I remember. The carved passageways and cool, wet air as you descend into the gorge seem so exotic, and waterfall after waterfall complemented by stone bridges, mossy sediment, and cavernous twists and turns makes you question if you’re even in New York anymore. 


Jake took a quick shower in the glittering Rainbow Falls.


The only drawback to Watkins Glen is that it's a major tourist attraction and packed with tour buses; and we were there during peak traffic on Saturday afternoon. Much better to go during an off-time in the middle of the week. 

We headed a little further South and arrived in Ithaca. It’s really such a unique place; you may have heard, it’s gorges. We stayed in the lovely Hotel Ithaca which was recently redone, scoring a fabulous corner room with a fall panorama of the city below, Cayuga Lake looming in the background. We met up with my brother, Drew, who goes to Ithaca College. He had a whole list of “secret spots” for us to visit.

First, he took us to a sunset spot just behind a bunch of creepy Cornell frats, reeking of circumstance, pomp, and cheap beer. We climbed down a wall of shale and passed through a spooky tunnel that must just be a hub of debauchery after dark. I was grateful that I couldn’t see the ground I was walking on. 


But we emerged within a gorge at the crest of a towering waterfall overlooking the luminous sunset, a second waterfall just behind us. It was a perfect introduction to Ithaca. 


More waterfalls were abound Sunday punctuated by a rugby game in which Ithaca College was victorious partly thanks to a try (score) by Drew. First we went to Six Mile Creek per Drew’s recommendation, which is made up of two major dams set amidst an old abandoned watermill; It’s a little chilling. There are plenty of cliff jumping opportunities into the emerald water, and we watched some college kids plunge into a deep spot just below the mill. 


Drew’s third recommendation was our favorite, and probably one of the most impressive waterfalls I’ve ever been to. Lucifer Falls is deep within Robert H. Treman State Park; we had a little trouble finding the trail but I think our own lack of research was to blame. Once we were headed in the right direction, we were in disbelief of this gorge and the lead up to the falls; it truly felt like you were walking along the paths of some ancient civilization, forgotten by time and reclaimed by nature. 


The falls themselves were incredible, and light enough this time of year that we could take off our shoes and wade right up to the base, letting the cool mist hit our faces. The climb back up the rim trail was a serious glute workout; LOTS of stairs, but worth it for the view.


Monday morning was rainy and grey, good weather for heading home. But not without a stop at Collegetown Bagels, where we had our favorite meal:


We took the road-less-traveled back East through the Catskills, making quick stops in Phoenicia (had to check out the Mystery Spot, and that diner with the killer branding), Kingston, and then familiar Great Barrington once we’d crossed the state line. 


The Finger Lakes are perhaps New York’s best kept secret, and I can’t wait for the next journey west.

Fall Playlist

I can't believe how short the days are getting; it's proving deadly to my evening productivity. And chilly! I woke up to the first frost of the season and it was tough to leave my warm bed + cat. A good playlist helps, though.

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So much good new music this fall! I'm loving the tracks Slaughter Beach, Dog is putting out especially. A few halloween themed items sprinkled in there too. Enjoy!

Logo Design: Kelly & Co.

We are so lucky to have a robust community of makers and creatives in Western Massachusetts that is growing every day. A few months back, I came across one such local maker Kelly & Co. on Instagram, and fell in love with the handmade clothing and home goods like this linen pinafore apron. I was so excited when Erin reached out, interested in revamping her logo and further developing some branding. 

Simplicity, durability, and beauty are crafted into every one of the small-batch goods available in Erin's shop, and she wanted the logo to exude those ideals in a single mark. 

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The flax flower is a significant symbol for Kelly & Co., and Erin was keen on incorporating it from the beginning. Erin crafts most of her wearable goods from natural linen, which is woven from the fibers of the flax plant. The final logo utilizes a silhouette I drew in effort to complement the calssic serif font. 

I played around with a lot of other flax symbols leading up to this though, and even a little doodle of the everyday dress. Here are some interesting alternates that came about in process:

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The entire project of crafting a clean, elegant logo that spoke to Kelly & Co.'s goods for good living mantra was so much fun; it's always most satisfying to design for a brand you already believe in and admire. 

All photos via Kelly & Co.

Summer in 35mm

I did a lot of film photography this summer, hardly touching my DSLR once. In the age of iPhone auto focus and Instagram filters I admit film has become more of a pain in the neck, but man is it worth it when you pick up an envelope of freshly developed color prints and go through images you forgot you had even taken weeks before. The hues, grain, glow and imperfections (slight, hopefully) are something you simply can't reach with digital cameras, and it (almost) always feels well worth the extra effort and patience.

Here's a few of my favorite 35 mm shots I took on my Nikon this summer:

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(the roll from the Vermont Road Trip was extremely tragic, full of split frames, light leaks, and scratches. I like this "dyptic" though.)


This week, the first roll of 120 film taken with my Brimfield TLR will be ready! Fingers crossed.

Vermont Road Trip

It was time to escape August humidity in the Valley and head North up 91, crossing the state border to Vermont. A summer road trip through the Green Mountains was something Jake and I had been planning since early spring, swimming holes and cool, green forest trails on our minds.

Our first stop on a journey through downpours up 91 was Quechee, to visit the famous Simon Pearce store. The 19th-century mill it operates out of is perched on a cascading waterfall, nestled into the quiet village. Watching the artisans blow glass was a mesmerizing process, especially in the cavernous, molten heat of the glowing ovens on such a dreary morning. It made me sleepy. 


Next, we made a quick stop in Woodstock, which was a busy and charming town with lots of shops and cafes. We had lunch at Mon Vert Cafe, stacked summer sandwiches on golden baguettes.

Two highly anticipated waterfall destinations befell us along Route 100. The first was Moss Brook Falls, which offered both fanned and plunged falls right off the road. 


The second was Warren Falls, a local favorite. We were stunned as we emerged from the pines and came upon this woodland oasis, ogling at daredevils jumping from high cliffs, flipping into the deep aqua pools fed by tiered cascades. Jake immediately ran back to the car to change into his bathing suit, but I was content to take photos being the mediocre swimmer that I am.


The coolest part of this natural waterpark was probably this rock slip-n-slide. Perfectly sculpted for butts by water and time, it chutes you straight into one of the swimming holes.


Our final destination Saturday night was Montpelier, where we found our quaint accommodations complete with a cookie jar and a black and white cat at the Inn at Montpelier. We strolled around the state’s capital and enjoyed a riverside dinner at Sarducci’s


The next morning was my favorite breakfast stop of the trip at Down Home Kitchen. This place brings authentic Southern cooking way up North, in a community-minded setting with big, family style tables. My breakfast sandwich was served up on *the best biscuit I have ever had* - it was buttery and soft and crumbly in all the right places. And it’s a good thing I had a hearty breakfast because Sunday presented my biggest challenge - hiking Camel’s Hump.


Vermont’s third-highest peak loomed in the distance as we drove up 89, the only crest touching the clouds. We parked at the base of the Monroe Trail, laced up our hiking shoes, and began the ascent. It was challenging but a breathtaking path through thick foliage, mountain streams, and geological wonders. My legs ached a few hours in and I felt the temperature dropping, but Jake kept me laughing the whole time.


I won’t lie - the top was a little scary. The sudden exposure to whipping winds and vertical slate shocked me a bit, and the open views were dizzying. It took some encouragement but I made it up and over the hump, taking in the sublimity of it all through clenched teeth.

Jake had a Snickers bar stashed away for me when we made it back down, five hours later. Chocolate never tasted so good and I felt pretty accomplished.


A highly anticipated post-hike evening in Burlington was next, and began with the most gorgeous pizzas at Pizzeria Verita. The zucchini, ricotta, and flower pie was almost too pretty to eat, but ended up being just as delicious. We finished up with some well-earned Ben & Jerry’s.


We spent the night at Hotel Vermont, one of the coolest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. It’s rustic and classy and hip, with personal touches like handmade Vermont soaps and a Tivoli radio by the bed. Breakfast in bed the next morning was the highlight - blueberry pancakes.


Barge Canal Market was our last Burlington stop on the way out, a vintage spot we’d been Instagram-obsessed with since we found them at Brimfield. They had an awesome space, filled with mid-century modern furniture and decor.


Heading South down Route 7, we paused along the river for perhaps my favorite meal of the trip: peanut butter sandwiches.


Seeing this sign along Route 125, we hung a quick left. We couldn’t pass up a place with a name like Texas Falls.


And thank goodness we didn’t! This place looked like it was straight out of Middle Earth, with emerald waters and winding pathways, smooth white rocks and mossy trees. It was a perfect last taste of paradise.


Who needs skis? Vermont in the summer is a wooded haven. I only wish we could have stayed a few more days.