51. welcome rufina park, contributing photographer

the smiling flowers of jeju island
jeju, korea

you may start noticing a new perspective behind some of our photos this summer. we are so happy to welcome rufina park as our new contributing photographer! rufina is the curator behind the blog chomsongdae, which showcases her photography and writing about social entrepreneurship and education. we thought we'd ask rufina some questions so that you could get to know the lady behind the lens a bit better:

what initially sparked your interest in photography?
when i was an undergrad, i had a close friend who took some amazing photos for our circle of friends, i really appreciated how he captured our memorable times and looking at his photos allowed me to see the value in photography. later on, in the summer of second year of university, i experimented more with my first mirrorless/semi-dslr (olympus e-pl1). i also took a free online course offered by canon korea; through that i learned a lot about perspective, aperture and shutter speed then, and continued to develop my interest in photography.

how would you describe your aesthetic?
i would describe my own photography as natural, pastel and carefree. i try to capture beautiful scenes from everyday life or travel that i miss when i am too busy or focused on work. when i do photography for clients, i try to adapt and change my color to accommodate to their particular needs. i like experimenting with different styles and scenes, but i usually don't do photography unless i have a strong connection with the subject. for instance, i profiled young social entrepreneurs in korea, whom i wanted to know more about, for a government agency; i enjoyed the opportunity to combine my interview skills and do photography at the same time.

you spent a significant amount of time in korea, did that change of scenery have any influence on your photos?
it did. before moving to korea, when i was going to university in toronto, i had a handful of acquaintances and friends who were very talented and, perhaps because of that, i didn't think of myself as a photographer. my first job out of college was communications coordinator for a newly opening international school in south korea. there, i was in charge of designing the parent and staff newsletters and promoting the school online/offline. we didn't have many staff members, so i juggled various roles as a part-time designer, photographer and social media coordinator. from there on, photography continued to be important when i was a freelance journalist and photographer for various outlets. with the portfolio i built up in korea, i got some of my photographys published in moon living abroad in south korea.

favorite sources of inspiration:
book cafes (where you can find books, magazines, light food, refreshments and good music). i used to like to go to these cafes in seoul, but i haven't found anything similar in boston. do you have any recommendations? gift shops (where you can find handmade cards by local designers, specialty books,small gifts and trinkets)

i draw inspiration from looking at other people's works. one of my favorite blogs is park & cube. i also love flipping through home, lifestyle and travel magazines to look at different ways to present pictures and words. one of my favorite korean lifestyle magazines is around

daddy, i'm hungry
seoul, korea
what is your dream project?
to publish a handful of great books that people want to read over and over again. among other things, i would definitely like to publish a photo book in 2-3 years. i think my books will combine, to varying degrees, my photography, quotes, writing and drawings.

cambridge, usa

what is the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?
danny gregory's book the creative license: giving yourself permission to be the artist you truly are. the title captures it succinctly and the book speaks for itself.

what is the best piece of creative advice you have to give?
i think it's important for people just starting out to have fun and be creative for the sake of it. if you start thinking too much early on (by asking questions like: how can i monetize this? how can i grow a following?), you can easily get sidetracked, lose your own unique style, then being creative suddenly loses it's intrinsic value. you can always think about developing a hobby into a career later on, if at that point you decide that you want to and you still like what you do. also important is to never box yourself in by the rules or expectations set by yourself or others. be free, experiment, fail and keep doing it if you still want to do it!

yufuin, japan

thanks rufina. we're so excited to be working with you!


50. weekend to-do's

  1. shake it off. tonight is the annual cambridge city dance party. i'm so lucky to live in a neighborhood that blocks off a busy area, allowing residents to dance and celebrate summer together.
  2. healthy summer pot-luck. we invited some dear friends over for an informal backyard dinner. this lemon scented quinoa with scallions and mint, courtesy of the wonderful blog sweet amandine, should be a hit with our guests.
  3. speaking of sweet amandine - the woman behind the blog, jessica fechtor, just published her first book, stir, my broken brain and the meals that brought me home. i can't wait to finish it this weekend and then check out her launch party at the harvard book store on tuesday.
  4. set a sophisticated table. pod in cambridge sells the most beautiful serving-wear and linen napkins. perfect for showcasing summer recipes.

  1. happy birthday ringo! lawn on d is featuring an open-air screening of yellow submarine tonight as part of their friday night flicks series. and, as if seeing a movie outside wasn't great enough, some of the most talented musicians i know are playing a live set of beatles tunes at 7:00 pm before the movie to celebrate!
  2. garden inspired appetizers. the rosemary in our garden has been growing like crazy so i am testing out a roasted fig with honey and rosemary recipe that i have had my eye on. paired with feta and table water crackers and i will be a happy girl.
  3. stretch it out. i'll be catching a much needed yoga class at the corner studio in medford. i know i've mentioned this studio before but, it really is a treat to practice in such a sweet space with great natural light.


49. profile: julie rhodes, singer/songwriter

singer julie rhodes has a presence that belies the relatively brief time that she's been performing. her lyrics are wise and world-weary and her voice has a bluesy growl that forces you to listen. we are so excited to profile this extraordinary musician and share some of the photos from her recent album artwork shoot:

what are some unexpected everyday sources of inspiration?
i always find myself the most awe-inspired after seeing live music - especially when something unpredictable happens. the singer forgets the words and improvises or you hear a rowdy bar crowd moved to silence. those are the kind of things that make me want to run home and write a song.

favorite or most inspirational place:
my most creative moments usually come out when i'm driving, so i gotta say the car is my most inspirational place. there's just something about being on the road that's very freeing. it also makes for a very interesting and hilarious collection of iphone voice memos.

can you tell us a little bit about the imagery for your album artwork?
sure! the imagery for the album artwork really comes from the songs. the album, which is called "bound to meet the devil", is centered around a couple different themes and i wanted the artwork to bring those themes together. when i first started writing for the record, i was at a dead end job working for people that didn't treat me well, so many of the songs came from that. i think we tend to get so wrapped up in our jobs sometimes that it sort of consumes us and we forget to live. so that's where the concept of "digging" came from; the idea that working yourself ragged can feel a lot like digging your own grave. that's why i wanted to have the shovel as the focal point of the artwork. then there are some underlying themes tied in, in the "garden" theme that comes from the opening track "in your garden", which is sort of an anthem for the rejected. the two concepts just happen to fit nicely together.

you recently recorded that first album at muscle shoals sound studio. what was that like for you?
yep! we actually did quite a bit of traveling for this record and got to do some recording at a few different studios around the country. fame in muscle shoals was our second stop. it was a really cool experience. i had only just started making music at that time, and i had never really been in an actual studio before. so, it was all very exciting for me. you get this overwhelming sense of history just walking through the doors. everywhere you look there'd be some cool old photo or artifact just sitting there like it hadn't been moved since the 60's... like duane allman session tapes just casually sitting on the shelf. basically, there was a lot to geek out about.

who are some of your major sources of musical inspiration and why?
there are so many artists that i love, but the ones that really inspire me are the ones that have interesting views or a moving story. bill withers is a huge inspiration of mine - he has such a simplistic view on music and i can really relate to that. he was no virtuoso... just a regular guy who wrote some of the most iconic songs in history while working at a job making airplane toilets... that's incredibly inspiring to me!

what is your dream project?
there's this band that i grew up listening to called rx bandits. they were my intro to music with substance at a time where most of the music i was exposed to were three chord emo/pop-punk love songs. collaborating with matt embree, the singer/songwriter of that band has always been a dream of mine, even before i was making music of my own. his voice and writing were always very soulful to me.

what is the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?
"keep at it"... seems like the most obvious and simple piece of advice, and i've gotten it from nearly everyone i speak to, but it's really the best advice. on those days when you think your music is inferior, or you have writer's block for months, or you play a show for people who are talking through your set... remember why you do it, strive to progress, and just keep at it.

what is the best piece of creative advice you have to give?
one of my biggest habits as a musician is overthinking everything. so, i was going to say "stay out of your head"... but i think my real advice would be to stay out of other peoples' heads. don't worry about what other people will like or won't... just express what you're feeling. that's how you find your true creativity.

be sure to stay tuned for julie's forthcoming debut album! in the meantime, we highly recommend catching one of her live shows. here is a taste of what to expect:


48. weekend to-do's

  1. greet the summer solstice with some sun salutations. sunday is international yoga day and people all over the world will be practicing. there are lots of great events planned locally - i'll be headed to the top of savin hill in dorchester to participate.
  2. enjoy a night in. it's been a busy week and i'm so excited to spend some time at home, cooking a summer-inspired meal. a friend recently gifted me the beekman 1802 hierloom vegetable cookbook and it's absolutely beautiful. preparing some of these healthy seasonal recipes will be the perfect way to relax.
  3. saturday night soundtrack. i am in love with the new leon bridges album coming home. it's soulful, romantic and has all the hallmarks of a classic. i mean, come on.

  1. head to nyc! i'm heading to the big apple this weekend to play a show with my band parks at the silent barn in bushwick tonight! friends in brooklyn this weekend, come on down.
  2. pick up some peck's. i have it on recommendation that this is the place for a delicious breakfast sandwich and a sweet little spot to sit in the backyard. can't wait to get my hands on the egg sandwich served on a portuguese bun.
  3. brooklyn flea. over 100 vendors gather on saturdays at the fort greene flea and there is always a great selection of unique art, vintage clothing, and delicious food.
  4. moma it up! this coming sunday, the moma is featuring a sunrise gathering celebrating their exhibition yoko ono: a one woman show, 1961-1970. even if i can't get my butt out of bed for this, i'm excited to take in the photographic work of harry shunk and janos kender (also known under their hyphenated moniker, shunk-kender) who photographed many artists between 1950 to 1970 in both paris and new york.


47. beeswax candles

we love the cozy ambiance created by lighting a candle. everything immediately looks warmer and softer. beeswax candles are a healthy, natural alternative to the artificially-scented paraffin candles often found in stores. in fact, the negative ions released from burning a beeswax candle can actually help to draw toxins out of the air.

making your own beeswax candles is a fairly simple process (not to mention a great way to re-purpose your glass containers).

filtered beeswax (roughly chopped)
coconut or palm oil
cotton wicks
double boiler
wooden skewers or chopsticks
candle jars or heat safe containers (we used old jelly jars)

we highly recommend supporting your local beekeepers when seeking out your beeswax. we purchased our 1lb bricks from beverly bees. if you have trouble finding someone locally, mountain rose herbs is a great alternative. 

beeswax is a very hard wax with a high melting point. this can lead to a weak flame and unsightly cracks as the candle cools. an easy fix for this is blending the beeswax with coconut or palm oil. you will want a 50/50 ratio of wax to oil. the size of your container (or number of candles you plan to make) will dictate the amount of beeswax and coconut oil you will require. for our 2 small candles, we used a 1/2 lb of beeswax and about 1/2 cup of coconut oil.

since beeswax candles are slow burning, you will need a fairly thick wick. we used a #4 braided wick. cut the wick to be about 2 inches longer than your jar.

melt the beeswax in a double boiler over medium heat. after the wax has melted, gently dip your wick in the wax. lay flat to cool. add the coconut oil to the wax using a skewer to slowly combine.

once the mixture is fully melted, pour about a half inch into the bottom of your jar. immediately place your wick in the center. hold the wick in place until the wax begins to harden. rest a wooden skewer on top of the jar and wrap the remaining length of the wick around it. when the wick is secured and straight, finish pouring the wax mixture into the jar (you will want to leave a bit of room at the top). set the candle aside in a cool dry place to harden completely. once the candle has cooled, trim your wick to leave about a half inch of length.

you are now ready to light your candle and enjoy it's subtle honey scent and warm golden glow.


46. weekend to-do's

  1. get some r&r, vermont style. i'll be joining some good friends for a weekend in burlington, vt. i'm looking forward to board games, bike rides and great company.
  2. get lost in a new book. celeste ng's everything i never told you just came out in paperback. i recently had the pleasure of hearing this local cambridge author discuss the book and it's inspiration during a talk at harvard book store. can't wait to read it!
  3. jazz fest. we'll be in burlington just in time to catch the last weekend of the burlington discover jazz festival. highlights for this weekend include mavis staples, rubblebucket and the colin stetson & sarah neufeld duo.
  4. brunchtimes. i have it on good authority that penny cluse cafe is the place to brunch in burlington. gingerbread pancakes? yes please!

  1. make a sweet treat. the garden is overflowing with rhubarb right now so i am looking forward to making a batch of this compote to put on my yogurt in the mornings!
  2. local live music. i can't wait to hear julie rhodes and the union band at bull mccabe's saturday night. this small venue has a great sound and there's always a little space to dance. julie's voice is incredible and her band is tight.
  3. bike ride. recently got my bike tuned up and ready to take a relaxing ride on the minuteman trail. any suggestions for new trails in the somerville area are seriously welcome!
  4. bbq!! every year, formaggio kitchen sets up their huge weber grill on the sidewalk in front of their cambridge store and serves up delicious, savory, grilled food. can't wait to get my hands on some smoked pork shoulder and caramelized onions. delicious!


45. travelogue: rochester, ny

every time i go back to visit my family in rochester, ny, i always make sure to take a stroll through the park ave area. there are so many great restaurants, bakeries, and local businesses in a concentrated area that it feels like a neighborhood in brooklyn to me. could the city i once moved away from be growing up and becoming a hip place to be? (wait, what?! could this be?). 

this past weekend, my sister introduced me to so many great places and while it was a super short trip, we packed in some good eats, well-made coffee, a local clothing shop and some sweet treats that i will not soon forget. for anyone who is visiting the rochester area, here are a few places on park avenue that should not be missed:

light, airy, and modern coffeehouse with locally made reclaimed wood furniture and delicious nitro cold brew coffee. they also make a drink called the mocha kick in case you like your caffeine spicy.

sweet little bakery with serious chops. their custom made sweets and cakes are not only delicious but gorgeous. i highly suggest the lemon lavender macaroon and the traditional chocolate chip cookie.

vintage and modern, flirty and sweet. this boutique is a local shop started by designer tanvi asher. all designs are made in a small run of each size, so every time you visit there is something new and unique.

this all vegan restaurant sits on the corner of oxford st. and park ave. with a little patio area for eating in the sunshine. and, they have mac and cheese nachos. enough said.


44. weekend to-do's

  1. chill out with a kakigori. our friend (and catalogue contributor) kimberly scott is bringing her noodle kakigori pop-up to the somerville flea this summer. kimberly creates the kakigori by using her special cast iron machine to spin a block of ice into a fine powder. she tops it off with a selection of her own flavored syrups. just don't call it a "snow-cone" - as kimberly puts it, "the texture is so fine it's incredible as opposed to the chunky ice pellets of our childhoods". come see for yourself and meet kimberly on sunday!
  2. support community herbalism. the wonderful steph zabel of flowerfolk founded herbstalk in 2011 to inspire people to learn more about herbs and wellness. this yearly event offers classes, urban plant walks and an herbal marketplace with vendors offering handmade herbal products and live plants.
  3. fiction-fest. the annual new yorker fiction issue is out and i can't wait to make a cup of tea and set aside some reading time on my back deck. this year's issue features works by zadie smith, jonathan safran foer, karen russell and more!

  1. weekend getaway! i'm traveling home to rochester, ny for a few days to spend time with family and visit some of my favorite hot spots. stay tuned for my travelogue next week!


43. june playlist

for our june playlist, we asked the marvelous nazli rex of the band ghost box orchestra to share some of her favorite songs. what she sent us was a very special and personal collection that we know you will swoon for it as much as we did (especially when you read her description below):

"this playlist is a selection of songs that i put together for my wedding. it was a gorgeous late-spring day and took place in my parents' backyard. the first song "hoppipolla" by sigur ros was the processional for my wedding party. it has a beautiful build that really fit the idea of all of my loved ones gathering to see this important union. my dad walked me up to the tree where the ceremony took place to "bounce & float" by my band, ghost box orchestra. i chose this song because that's how i met my husband! he's plays drums and i play keyboards in the band. we've had many rock and roll adventures together. for the recessional, i chose "ageless beauty" by stars. it's a triumphant song that marty and i both love. the other songs are some of me and marty's favorites (highlights being "my cabal", "we own the sky" and "ask"). it's been a wonderful year full of love and a new baby. i hope you enjoy."