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Lexi duPont’s Lesson of Grit and Grace in the Outdoors

“I was SO excited to have the opportunity to interview Lexi duPont, professional big mountain freeskier, for Darling Magazine. Lexi’s story is amazing and her grace and strength are incredibly inspiring. 
This post originally appeared on Darling Magazine’s blog. Visit www.darlingmagazine.org to read other wonderful articles, some written by me!

Enjoy! xx Jessica” 

Lexi duPont, professional big mountain freeskier, stands at the edge of a massive Alaskan mountain. Below her are miles of steep, snow-covered cliffs. One minute she is at the edge and the next she takes off, freeskiing down the mountain at breathtaking speeds, navigating around difficult terrain and dramatic drops.

While initially your stomach might do a nervous back flip as you attempt to process such a seemingly terrifying feat, suddenly you become completely relaxed. Lexi’s strength and skill becomes apparent as she gracefully makes her way down the slopes. So much so, that watching her navigate the snow becomes similar to watching a dancer waltz across the stage. Fear is replaced by admiration and amazement.

This admiration and amazement has left us wanting to know more about what it takes to be a high performance athlete like Lexi duPont. Her list of accomplishments is as impressive as her humble and graceful demeanor. As a Freeskiing World Tour contender and former Junior Olympics competitor, Lexi has been featured in several films and is currently a member of Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent Guide & Athlete Team. Despite the fame that comes with these many accomplishments, she is passionate about service and encouraging others to pursue their dreams.

Lexi’s dedication to the environment has lead her to live an off the grid lifestyle in her small home in the mountains of Sun Valley, where she does everything in her power to stand up for the environment. Nature is her playground and we love the way she cares for it. You might assume that being a big mountain freeskier would be enough athleticism for a lifetime, but Lexi spends her time off the slopes surfing, climbing, biking and flying.

Lexi duPont is a name worth knowing because she is a woman who sets goals and achieves them. She comes face to face with fear and uses it as motivation. She sets her sights on the highest mountain and then masters it.

And watching her makes us want to master a mountain of our own.

We got the chance to chat with Lexi a bit more about her passions, career, and what inspires her:

Darling Magazine: You are one of the most sought after athletes in your field. What initially drew you to big mountain freeskiing? Was it something you always wanted to do?

Lexi: Skiing has always been my passion and my world. It affords me such a great amount of self-expression, and my only limitation is my creativity, which is a beautiful position to be in.

DM: We know that extreme athleticism runs in your family. Can tell us more about the ways your family has influenced and supported your passion for skiing?

Lexi: A love of adventure is in my blood, and I am inspired by the accomplishments of my family. My mom was one of the first females to do a backflip on skis. I grew up looking at pictures of her in our house doing huge aerials. She was a trailblazer for women in action sports and I feel so lucky to have that kind of inspiration and drive in my life.

I also come from a long line of aviators on my dad’s side. My grandfather was the first to land a plane in New Guinea. I have been raised to believe that anything is possible. It will take a lot of work, but you must dream big. As a kid I was introduced to a lot of different sports, which cultivated in me a love of the outdoors and confidence in my capabilities. Growing up my parents always supported everything we wanted to do, and there was no quitting: We didn’t have to be good, we just had to try it and see it through.

I have been raised to believe that anything is possible. It will take a lot of work, but you must dream big.

DM: What is your favorite part about being in an industry that spends so much time outdoors?

Lexi: Mother Nature is my church and being able to spend so much time in the natural environment is a dream for me. Because I love her so much I feel like I need to use my position in the industry to really speak for her and protect her.

DM: What are some of your favorite winter travel spots?

Lexi: I love my home, Sun Valley, ID and I spend a lot of time in Revelstoke, British Columbia. In Revelstoke I work with CAPOW, Canadian Powder Guides, where we take a group of young kids into the backcountry and teach them about avalanche safety and how to travel in the backcountry. It is my favorite part of the season seeing those kids expand their skills and share the beauty of the outdoors with them.

Alaska is where is all comes together for me, though. It’s where I get to challenge myself and where my “tribe” of fellow Big Mountain skiers meets every spring.

DM: What you do is very physically demanding. What is your approach to health and wellness?

Lexi: Health and wellness is my life. One of the most important and beautiful things about being an athlete is the need to stay in shape mentally and physically. I meditate for 20 minutes every day, I cut sugar, gluten and dairy from my diet, and I try to get outside and move my body every day. This routine has helped me cultivate a healthy mind and body.

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DM: You seem to balance the incredible grit needed for your industry with such a kindness and grace. What does this balance mean to you?

Lexi: I think grit was nurtured in me from a young age, so it comes naturally to me. Balancing it with kindness is extremely important in this industry. I am eternally grateful for every opportunity I am given, and I truly see other female skiers successes as my successes. We are such a small group, and we need to support each other at every step.

DM: Watching footage of your work had us on the edge of our seat! Have fear or nerves ever played a part in what you do? How you do you manage a healthy relationship with fear?

Lexi: I definitely have a high fear tolerance, which is practiced. Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely afraid when I get out on top of the mountains, but I try not to let it paralyze me and instead use it as a productive and motivating force until it becomes instinctual. Everyone experiences different types of fear, though, and one kind of fear I do experience is that which affects matters of the heart.

DM: Talk to us about being a woman in this industry. What was it like to break into a heavily male-dominated world?

Lexi: It was definitely intimidating at first. I had to become very in touch with my male self, and to speak their language. I struggled with the fear of showing weakness, until I began to accept that being feminine can be just as strong. When you are confident in your feminine self, it is a really beautiful power.

When you are confident in your feminine self, it is a really beautiful power.

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DM: What advice would you give to other women pursuing an athletic career?

Lexi: I would tell them to go for it! Go for it 100%. It will be a lot of work and you will have to make heaps of sacrifices but if you really love it, it won’t feel like work at all. I would tell them to ground down and get in touch with yourself. Then you will be in a powerful position to offer your resources and yourself to others.

I would also say be the girl of your dreams. She is inside of you just waiting for the opportunity to express herself. Be physically strong, eat healthy food, be creative, expand your mind, inspire those around you and challenge yourself. We desperately need more women in the action sports world so do [it], girls.

DM: Are there any major goals that you haven’t reached yet? What’s next for you?

Lexi: I always have goals and I will never stop exploring myself and the world around me. I think one of the most beautiful things about being a human is that we always have the ability to learn something new. In my opinion to stop growing and evolving is death.

I am currently working towards my pilot’s license and in the next 5-10 years I would like to redo my family’s first flights. I want to fly across America like my aunts did, then I want to fly the Amazon like my uncle did, and then I want land a plane in New Guinea like my grandfather did. I have this vision board in my room where I write my wild ideas. Even if its super crazy I put it up there. The power of manifestation is transformational. It really works!

To check out Lexi in real-time, watch the below:

 

12 Podcasts to Brighten Your Morning Commute

 “Confession. I am obsessed with podcasts. So I wrote this article about some of my favorites for Darling Magazine. Visit www.darlingmagazine.org to read other wonderful articles, some written by me!

Enjoy! xx Jessica” 

The morning commute…

Many of us fall victim to those long hours spent in the car, hours that often have the tendency to bring out the worst in us. This frustration is heightened when we’re inching along the freeway, stuck in morning traffic on our way to work. When we finally arrive, we’re grumpy from sitting in our car rather than motivated to start a productive day at the office.

The good news for the commuting woman is that there is a tool to help her restless mind break free from the car jail cell and into another world. This tool is the podcast, a way to take back control over your commute. Podcast selections are endless, providing listeners with their choice of suspense, comedy, education, advice and motivation. Podcast listeners are an inquisitive and passionate community, ready to grasp any opportunity to explore and learn just by listening.

“But where to start?” You might ask. Picking your first podcast is like walking into a bookstore filled to the brim with thousands of books, and then trying to decide on just one. Whether you’re a seasoned podcast lover or new to the scene, here are 10 podcasts perfect for the Darling commuter.

1. If you’re fascinated by the human mind…

Criminal

Criminal is not your everyday crime show. Instead of the traditional crime show structure of walking the listener through details of a grisly murder, Criminal specializes in crime of a different kind. One episode takes us into the world of a man tasked with breaking up a Venus flytrap theft ring, while another follows the mysterious case of a clever thief with a fondness for rare books. These episodes include both stories and interviews, giving a fascinating look into the minds and lives of criminals and those who fell victim to their crimes.

*Where to start: Episode 5: Dropping Like Flies, Episode 23: Triassic Park, or Episode 22: Ex Libris

2. If you’re a boss lady (or dream of being one…)

Girl Boss

Girl Boss is the perfect podcast to get you pumped for a successful day at work. It’s lighthearted with a healthy dose of comedy, however it also dives into the stories of successful women who are making big things happen in their career. The show’s hosts, Sophia and Liz make a point of sharing their own lives with listeners, whether that be what they wore to a party over the weekend, the results of a recent therapy session, or a recent #girlbossmoment. Whether you are a girl boss or on your way to becoming one, this podcast will shed a light of inspiration on your morning drive.

*Where to start: Payal Kadakia, Co-founder and CEO of ClassPass

3. If you consider yourself a part-time detective…

Serial

From the creators of This American Life, host Sarah Koenig brings her listeners alongside a story, told week by week over the course of a season. Listeners were so invested in season one of Serial that it quickly rose to the top of the podcast charts. The stories are told with such detailed devotion to the characters and plot that you don’t want the episode to end. Similar to binging on your favorite Netflix series, Serial will get you so hooked that you might just sit in your car once you have arrived at work because you NEED to hear the end of the episode. Start at the beginning and listen in order. Your morning drive will suddenly seem shorter.

*Where to start: Season 1, episode 1.

4. If you’re driving to work but would rather be embarking on an exciting adventure…

Roam + Golightly

Those who long to express their creativity and live adventurously will love this podcast. With an inspiring list of guests, Roam + Golightly proves that it is possible to live authentically when we seek to incorporate passion into our lives in creative ways. You might be sitting in traffic on the way to your 9:00-5:00 job, but if your heart craves adventure, then these interviews will help you find a way to access it.  There is no better boost of confidence than hearing inspiring words from those you relate to, both emotionally and artistically.

*Where to start: Episode 1, “Grand Possibilities” with Ziza Bauer of Darling Magazine

food podcasts

5. If much of your day is devoted to thinking about food…

Burnt Toast by Food52

Delightful and charming are the two words that come to mind after listening to an episode of Burnt Toast. If you’re a foodie, this podcast will fill you with inspiration and give you a chance to hear from influential members of the culinary community.  Hosted by Food52 cofounders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, the Food52 podcast is a way for you to forget the stress of the day and be transported into the kitchen. You won’t be sitting in traffic, you’ll be cooking with a friend in Italy, enjoying a glass of wine with The Barefoot Contessa, or devouring street tacos in LA. You might want to have some car snacks on hand for this one.

*Where to start: Episode What We Cook When We Don’t Feel Like Cooking or EpisodeJudith Jones and Her Life in Food

6. If you want to know the stories behind the music you hear on the radio…

Sodajerker

Founded by songwriters Simon Barber and Brian O’Connor from Liverpool, this podcast serves as their own creative outlet. This songwriting team interviews guests such as Lennon and McCartney, Bacharach and David, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Goffin and King, The Lumineers and The Chic Organisation. Hearing the stories behind our favorite songs provides a whole new experience to listening to them. Barber and O’Connor know just what questions they need to ask in order to bring out the best in their guests, giving listeners an intimate look into the minds of musicians.

*Where to start: Episode 91: The Lumineers

7. If you constantly wondering how things work…

Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know was recognized as one of iTunes’ Best of 2008 podcasts. And it’s only gotten better from there. Often abbreviated to SYSK, this podcast educates listeners on numerous topics that range from everyday mechanics, to mythological and political. The hosts use pop culture references to give a touch of comedic relief. When listening to an episode of SYSK, you quickly become engrossed in the inner workings of the most random topics that otherwise, you would probably have never stopped to think about so deeply.

*Where to start: How the Gender Pay Gap Works, How Mermaids Work, or How Internet Censorship Works

8. If the words “401k, taxes, and investments” give you anxiety….

So Money with Farnoosh Torabi

Money is confusing. For many, knowing how to responsibly budget, plan, and invest our hard earned money is a constant struggle. Award winning financial correspondent and bestselling author Farnoosh Torabi understands our struggles. The show makes topics surrounding money accessible and relatable, providing candid conversations with top business minds such as Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, Gretchen Rubin, Danielle LaPorte and many others. They share their philosophies, failures, successes, habits and luxuries in a way that is easy to understand, even if you don’t have an accounting degree. Coming out of college in debt and drained herself, Farnoosh empathizes with young professionals who don’t feel totally in control over their money and is therefore passionate about educating that demographic on how they can handle their money wisely.

*Where to start: Episode 459, Lauren Greutman

morning podcasts

9. If you love pop culture and the sound of Alec Baldwin’s calming voice…

Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin

Produced by WNYC Studios, Alec Baldwin describes his podcast, Here’s The Thing, as a series of intimate and honest conversations. He talks with a variety of guests including artists, policy makers, and performers to learn more about what inspires them, how they got to be where they are now, and what relationships influence their work. The conversations are real, witty, emotional, and inspiring. A successful actor himself, Baldwin connects with his guest on a level that truly does yield honest conversation. And who wouldn’t want a quick visit with Alec Baldwin on their way to work?

*Where to start: Mary Brosnahan on Homelessness in New York or Sarah Jessica Parker and Ian Schrager.

10. If you’re a hopeless romantic…

Modern Love

Modern Love is podcast that features stories and essays, read and written by guests about modern love experiences. Warning: this one might occasionally make you a little teary-eyed on your way to work. One episode will dive into a romantic and tragic love story, while the next will have you laughing at the ridiculousness of someone’s experience with love. The podcast shares love’s joys and tribulations, read by guests including January Jones, Judd Apatow and Catherine Keener, followed by words from host Meghna Chakrabarti, Modern Love editor Daniel Jones and sometimes the essay writers themselves.

*Where to start: The Doorman | Modern Love 22 by Cecily Strong or A Heart Outrun | Modern Love 18

11. If Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers is your favorite onscreen duo…

You Must Remember This

You Must Remember This is a fascinating podcast that takes you backstage into the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century. The show boasts an impressive list of guest stars such as Dana Carvey, Adam Goldberg, Steve Zissis, Noah Segan, journalists Max Linsky, Mark Olsen, screenwriters Kelly Marcel and Craig Mazin, and many more. Every episode opens with a haunting rendition of the old classic, As Time Goes By, transporting us into the romantic and fast paced days of old Hollywood. Some stories span over multiple episodes, immersing us into the lives of stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford and Frank Sinatra.

*Where to start: MGM Stories Part Fourteen: Elizabeth Taylor from Michael Wilding to Eddie Fisher/ December 15, 2015

12. If you’re in need of some peace and inspiration….

Wonderfully Made

Wonderfully Made is a podcast dedicated to sharing the stories of inspiring women who know their value, and are using their talents to better the world. Founded as a nonprofit organization, Wonderfully Made works towards their goal of helping young women discover, strengthen, and reclaim their true value and worth. For whatever stage of life you are in, their podcast gives you the tools to understand that you can live a life of lasting purpose, beauty and worth. You’ll arrive at work with a renewed sense of peace and motivation.

*Where to start: Episode 1, Allie Marie Smith

What are your favorite podcasts?

Images via Amanda Greeley Written by Jessica Tomkins

Why Every Woman Needs to See “Photograph 51”

“My jaw fell open and my pulse began to race.”

These are the words of Nobel Prize winning scientist James Watson taken from his book,The Double Helix. I

These are the words of Nobel Prize winning scientist James Watson taken from his book,The Double Helix. In this quote he is describing his emotion upon first seeing a photograph taken by fellow scientist, Rosalind Franklin, his competitor in the race to discover the secrets of DNA. This photograph was no ordinary photograph. After hours of studying DNA structure using X-ray diffraction, Rosalind Franklin had discovered something that would change the course of DNA research forever.

Featured photo: The famous x-ray: Sodium deoxyribose nucleate from calf thymus, Structure B, Photo 51 taken by Rosalind E. Franklin and R.G. Gosling.

Franklin, along with her assistant, had discovered through hours of research that there were two forms of DNA, a dry “A” form and a wet “B” form. The photo that caused James Watson’s pulse to race was Franklin’s X-ray diffraction picture of the “B” form of DNA, famously known as Photo 51. This is the photo responsible for understanding the structure of DNA. You would imagine that Franklin received honor and recognition of the highest academic standard for such a discovery, but she didn’t. The story that follows seems somewhat unfathomable. Anna Ziegler’s play Photograph 51, coming to Broadway this year with Nicole Kidman in the lead, tells the story of this amazing woman who was forced to stand in the shadows of the men who claimed ownership of a discovery that was not rightfully their own.

We can’t wait for this play to hit the streets of New York because we can’t think of a more important story to be told night after night, under the lights of Broadway, than that of Rosalind Franklin and her Photo 51. Rosalind Franklin’s story will inspire and frustrate you. But most importantly, it will make you want to tell everyone you know. That’s what it did to us.

Here’s why:

An Early Visionary

Born into a wealthy Jewish family in 1920s London, Franklin showed signs of exceptional intelligence from a very young age. At age 15, she was determined to become a scientist, despite the disapproval of her father. In a time when women of her class were funneled into a life of philanthropy and social events, Franklin longed to deviate from the traditional path. However, her father disapproved of university education for women, and refused to pay for her tuition. It was only when her mother and aunt strongly pushed for her education, her aunt even offering to pay the tuition herself, that her father finally gave in.

You would imagine that Franklin received honor and recognition of the highest academic standard for such a discovery, but she didn’t. The story that follows seems somewhat unfathomable.

After earning her Ph.D in physical chemistry from Cambridge University, where she learned crystallography and X-ray diffraction, she worked for a lab in Paris before finally settling in London in 1951. Here, she began work at King’s College with her sights set on DNA research. Scientists everywhere were in a race to discover the secret of life, which they knew would be found in the structure of DNA. Understanding DNA was the key to unlocking the blueprint for all life on earth, and how it is passed down from generation to generation.

Franklin began working in the biophysics unit as a research associate. Director John Randall recognized her expertise in the area of X-ray diffraction techniques on DNA fibers. She applied these techniques to her work, spending hundreds of hours taking photos on a machine that she had refined herself. It was during these hours of research that she and her assistant took a photo of the B form of DNA that contained insight unknown to any other scientists working on DNA at the time. She saved the photo and put it aside while devoting more time to the A form, planning to revisit it when she was ready to publish her work.

However, someone at King’s College got in the way of this plan. His name was Maurice Wilkins.

Belittled and Betrayed

Franklin’s strict work ethic had alienated her from some of her fellow scientists. She had a particularly tense working relationship with a colleague named Maurice Wilkins, a relationship that yielded unfortunate results. She was determined to single handedly discover the structure of DNA, but Wilkins viewed her as an overbearing assistant, and a threat to his position at the university. He sarcastically nicknamed her “Rosy,” a nickname that Franklin hated, but one that Wilkins and others called her behind her back.  Their relationship hit an all-time low when, without her knowledge or permission, Wilkins found and then disclosed the valuable photo to her competitor, scientist James Watson.

At this time, James Watson was hard at work on DNA research of his own. He was attempting to create his own DNA model with Francis Crick at Cambridge. Thus far, their efforts to build this model were fundamentally flawed, receiving strong criticism from the scientific community, including Franklin. However, Franklin’s Photo 51 changed everything. Amazed by her findings, they used the photo that Wilkins gave them as a basis for their new DNA model, published in 1953 for which they received a Nobel Prize. Taking full credit, their published work in Nature magazine included only a footnote saying that they were “stimulated by a general knowledge” of Franklin’s unpublished photo. In reality, without Photo 51, they would have no model to publish.

Franklin was unhappy at King’s College, a place of sour relationships and absurd sexist rules. Despite her accomplishments, she and other female scientists were not even allowed to eat or gather in the common dining room, a room reserved only for male scientists. She found work elsewhere, and returned to her previous study of viruses. She published 17 papers within five years, working with a group of scientists to lay the foundation for structural virology. According to Franklin, working out the complex structure of a virus and locating its infectious element was her “greatest discovery.”

Her Final Years

Sadly, in the fall of 1956, Rosalind Franklin was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, sending her into two years of operations and experimental chemotherapy. Many speculate that her intense work with X-Ray radiation was the cause of this cancer. However, all the while, she continued working. She worked in her home and then in the hospital up until just weeks before her death on April 16, 1958, at the young age of 37.

Photograph by Vittorio Luzzati

In his book, The Double Helix, James Watson cast Franklin as a villain, claiming she was an unattractive, uncooperative, stern woman who hoarded her research. In reality, others who knew and worked with her remember her as a beautiful and successful woman with a vibrant social life, loved by her friends and family. Watson’s book was highly criticized by fellow scientists, including Crick and Wilkins, who felt that it was an inaccurate representation of facts and unfair to other scientists mentioned. The only scientist that was painted in a flattering light was Watson himself. In his book, Watson boasts of using Franklin’s research without her knowledge or permission, saying, “Rosy of course did not directly give us her data,” intentionally using the patronizing nickname that she had knowingly disliked. However, by this time Franklin had passed away, unable to defend the unfair accounts made of her, as well as defend the work that was rightfully hers. The book was an immediate best seller.

Why Her Legacy Matters

This story may seem hard to believe. It is inspiring and frustrating, but what is most surprising is that it is generally unknown. While scientists and science students will perk up at the mention of Rosalind Franklin, her place in history remains generally under-appreciated. Until now.

With Nicole Kidman receiving wide recognition for her portrayal of Franklin, Anna Ziegler’sPhotograph 51 is eagerly awaited in New York with high expectations. Previously run in London’s West End last year, the play is set to open at either the Lyceum or the Broadhurst Theater this fall. As the shining star in an all-male cast, critics are suggesting that Kidman has seldom been cast better than in the role of Rosalind Franklin. Kidman is the perfect match to take on Franklin’s famously humorless and intimidating nature. In the play, a scientist says that talking to her about her work is “like speaking bad French to a French person who insists then on speaking to you in English just to show you you’re not good enough to speak to her in her own language, that she can walk all over you in any language, anywhere.” Kidman plays this role unapologetically, giving justice to a woman that survived in a world of patronizing men. Men who downplayed her accomplishments due to intimidation and sexism.

While scientists and science students will perk up at the mention of Rosalind Franklin, her place in history remains generally under-appreciated. Until now.

Franklin claimed that she was never wrong about her work, and wasn’t afraid to say it more than once. In a world where women in the workplace are often too quick to apologize, downplay accomplishments, and lack confidence, Franklin is a beacon of inspiration. Despite sexist working conditions, personal attacks, and pressure from her colleagues, Rosalind Franklin stood strong in the face of adversity with uncompromising dedication. To her, DNA research meant understanding the secrets of life. It meant making a difference and using science to contribute to the betterment of humankind. She passed away without knowing just how much of her research was used for Watson and Crick’s famous “discovery,” without knowing just how vital her photo was to their success. Or if she did know, she never uttered a word about it.

When Photograph 51 opens on Broadway this fall, we will be there, sitting at the edge of our front row seats. Because Franklin’s contributions, so under-recognized for so long, do not go unrecognized by us. Because Rosalind Franklin was not just good enough, she was exceptional — she was not just here, but was here for an incredible purpose.

Featured Image via the Museum of London; Written by Jessica Tomkins

When I finally got to wear my rain boots

Spring Break could not come fast enough this year. With a semester full of difficult classes and long nights of studying, disappearing into the forest of Olympic National Park was the perfect escape. It also happened to be the one year anniversary of when my boyfriend and I went on our first date. We decided to do something special so we booked the perfect Airbnb and set off for a week of adventures.

We arrived in Seattle early Sunday morning after managing to catch our 7:30am flight on time (a true miracle.) This gave us a full day in Seattle to explore. We were greeted by rain and cold wind, a big adjustment for a California girl. This weather was surprisingly refreshing for the two of us, a much needed change from the rainless, warm weather in Southern California. Luckily, we were staying with friends who gave the insiders tour of the city, starting with the famous Ballard Locks. The Locks are a must see for any Seattle vacation. They carry more traffic than any other lock in the US and visitors can watch as the boats enter, see the water rise and lower, and then watch as they sail away. This process prevents the fresh water of the lakes with the sea water of Puget Sound. The rest of the day was spent browsing antique stores, window shopping, and stuffing ourselves full of amazing food.

We had one more day before we planned to drive out to our cabin in Olympic Park, so we planned a busy day in Seattle. We started with a trip to the famous Space Needle. Originally built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, the Space Needle is now an iconic symbol of Seattle, providing gorgeous 360 degree views from its observation deck at 520 ft above the ground.

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Later in the day, we took the Seattle Underground Tour, a historical tour of the city under the city. We got to walk the original streets of Seattle before the massive fire that destroyed the city in 1889, prompting the community to build a bigger, healthier city above the one that once existed. The tour guide led us through old, underground tunnels that once were the home to saloons and general stores of Old Seattle. We finished the day with a delicious dinner at Ivar’s with friends, and a walk along the water.


 

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Day 3 of our trip started the adventure in Olympic National Park. We took the ferry and drove out to Port Angeles, stopping along the way to eat lunch and enjoy the beautiful views. We arrived at our Airbnb cabin in the afternoon, just outside of Port Angeles. It was the perfect location to enter the park but also close enough to town for necessary coffee runs and groceries. The upside to having your own cabin is that you can get groceries to cook and pack food for the day. This comes in handy when you’re spending your days in the park, ready to come back to a hot shower and a homemade meal after a long hike.

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There are no words or pictures that could fully describe the beauty of Olympic National Park. We decided to hike near Crescent Lake, where there are numerous hikes ranging from easy, family hikes, to uphill hikes for a more challenging experience. The water at Crescent Lake is a clear, blueish-green that sparkles and stretches for miles. VSCO Cam-1-1We spent the whole day exploring the trails around the lake, only leaving when it started getting dark and rainy. We left wishing that we had one more day to relax in our little cabin but thankful for the time we had in the beautiful park.

 


 

We spent our last day in Washington driving along the coast and through the trees back to Seattle. We wanted to stop by the famous Pike Place Market area, the home to the very first Starbucks and countless little shops and cafes. We grabbed a coffee at Starbucks and strolled around the market.VSCO Cam-1-2 We were there in the evening, however if visitors come in the morning, they can watch the fishermen bring in fresh fish to the market.

 


 

VSCO Cam-3-2We made one last stop in the market at the famous gum wall, where thousands of visitors have stuck their contribution piece to the wall, creating a colorful piece of art.

 


 

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Seattle and Olympic National Park, you were beautiful. It was the trip that I did’t want to end. Between the fun of the city life and beauty and peacefulness of the park, we had the perfect combination for an exciting and relaxing vacation. Spring Break 2016 is one to remember. We’ll be back!

 

 

Dress Like a Grandma

Treasure hunting in a vintage store or at a flea market is a favorite past time for many, including myself. Finding an old dress, necklace, or piece of furniture is always an exciting moment. Who used to wear this? What home was this in? Knowing that your dresser was in the home from the 30’s is somehow much more exciting than knowing it came from the Fall 2015 IKEA catalog.

But vintage shopping is even more fun when you do it in your grandma’s attic. After my grandma passed away, my family began going through her things, finding comfort in the memories that many of them brought us. One thing that caught my eye was a jumper that had been my grandma’s when she was young. The wide legs and small waist were intimidating at first…I didn’t know if I could pull it off like she did. So for a while, it just hung in my closet.newjumper

But finally, enough was a enough. The other day, I threw on the jumper with a pair of sandals and took Spike, my boyfriend’s dog, for a walk. Wearing a vintage treasure and wondering who it belonged to in its past life is fun, but wearing a vintage treasure and knowing who it belonged to in its past life is even better.

Take Away: Don’t be afraid to dress like a grandma.

To Tahoe We Go

Roads trips can be the best trips. Being in the car with good people, good food, and good tunes (or in our case, good podcasts) is a great way to make the most out of a vacation, even if it’s local. Over the summer, my boyfriend and I took our first mini road trip together, to Lake Tahoe for a friend’s birthday. Tahoe is beautiful and the long weekend we spent there was amazing…

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but some of my favorite memories from the trip were from the time we spent in car.

On the way to Tahoe from Los Angeles, Matt and I took the speedy route so that we could get to the cabin asap. The trip was indeed speedy, but anyone that has ever taken the 5 freeway knows that it does not make for an eventful ride. Podcast and snacks were our saving grace and helped pass the time. The way back to LA was when the fun happened.

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We decided to take the 395 home, a freeway that is known for it’s scenic views and fun stops. It did not disappoint. We enjoyed beautiful mountains, empty roads, small town charm, and yummy food stops along the way.

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Just before leaving, we stopped at the Resort at Squaw Creek. Growing up, my family and I always vacationed at this resort, so going back for a brief stop was a walk down memory lane. I got to share some of these memories with Matt, which made this little pit stop even more special.

IMG_2281After Squaw Creek, one of our favorite stops was at Mono Lake where the views were stunning and the people friendly. The nearby town of Lee Vining welcomes you with smiling locals and small town charm. We ate lunch at a small BBQ restaurant called Bodie Mikes that had a beautiful view and delicious food. We left will full bellies and to-go boxes full of BBQ.

We made more stops along the way, off one lane roads that pass through small towns. We were greeted by old buildings, farm houses, cows and horses, and people that smile and strike up friendly conversations. The difference between these small towns and our massive city of Los Angeles were so striking that at one stop, we found ourselves sitting on a picnic table under a tree to just eat a snack and take in the beautiful surroundings, enjoying true peace and quiet.

Just south of Lee Vining, we passed June Lake, Mammoth and Bishop, all providing us with more stunning views and future trip destinations to add to our list. There is nothing like a road trip to show you how much you miss when you fly to your destination, instead of driving.

Road Trip #1: success

 

Lauren & Bill’s Rustic Wedding

Over the summer, I had the pleasure of helping my friend, Lauren Palotay, plan her beautiful, rustic wedding in Moorpark, California. From the beginning, Lauren had envisioned a lovely night under the stars for her wedding. So, together, we worked on bringing that vision to life.

In addition to conceptualizing the overall theme of the night, Lauren asked me to design and execute some of the details of the night and also coordinate the day of the wedding.

walnut-grove-romantic-rustic-wedding130-XLFor the welcome table, we decided to create a DIY, custom table assignment station, using a frame we bought at the Melrose Trading post. After attaching rows of twine from one side to another, we hung tiny, hand-printed name cards from delicate pins, purchased on Etsy. This created a very whimsical and personal experience for guests as they found their names and table after the ceremony.  I also added some framed photos of the bride and groom, beautiful flowers arranged by Brooke Foley, and a welcome chalkboard alongside the frame. Apple crates are a great addition to a table if you want to create some height and add dimension to the space.
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Bill and Lauren picked a delicious Dark and Stormy as the signature drink for their guests, in addition to the wine and beer served throughout the night. I designed and executed the chalkboard art to be placed on the bar alongside some flowers. For all of the chalkboard art created for this event, I used a chalkboard pen, purchased at Michaels, rather than traditional chalk. This gave me the ability to produce more detail without being bothered by pesky chalk dust.

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During our flea market treasure hunt, Lauren and I purchased some vintage soda bottles to display on the drink table. Flea markets are great places to find little treasures that add sweet and original details to an event. I put flowers in the bottles we purchased and then placed them alongside the baskets of limes and lemons on the table.

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One of my favorite details from the wedding was the vintage suitcase I transformed into a guest book. After cleaning the suitcase and giving it a little bit of TLC by gluing the edges and adding a custom “Leave A Note” banner, it was placed on the guest book table where guest were encouraged to write a note to the bride and groom and drop in the trunk. I put the trunk alongside framed photos of Lauren and Bill throughout the years that gave guests an opportunity to browse some memories as they filled out cards for the guest book.

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One of the most featured tables of the night was the dessert table, prominently placed on the stage by the bride and groom. This table was filled with delicious treats including Sweet Arleen’s cupcakes, homemade cookies, pies, scones contributed by Lauren’s friends, and decadent macaroons from Bottega Louie.walnut-grove-romantic-rustic-wedding248-XL With so many beautiful desserts, I wanted to make sure each of them was displayed just as beautifully.

For the cookies, I used a desk drawer that I lined with white napkins and marked with chalk board labels. The desk drawer was taken from my own home desk! I love to see if I can incorporate pieces that I already own into events like this. walnut-grove-romantic-rustic-wedding244-XL

The delicious pies were brought by some friends of Lauren and Bill and were displayed on various plates and cake stands. I used some of my own and found others at HomeGoods, a great location to find affordable treasures for events. Using mismatched plates added a more eclectic feel to the table.walnut-grove-romantic-rustic-wedding262-XL

The macaroons were placed in another vintage suitcase, also purchased at the Melrose Flea Market. While the suitcase came a little bit worn and dirty, some cleaning and super glue brought it back to life.walnut-grove-romantic-rustic-wedding264-XL I lined the suitcase with white, linen napkins and made sure to add the Bottega Louie bow so that guests would know where the cookies came from.  Again, I used apple crates to add height and dimension also giving me little nooks to place desserts and flowers.


 

walnut-grove-romantic-rustic-wedding1382-XLLauren and Bill’s special day was not only beautifully designed and executed, but also a beautiful commitment of love by two dear friends who I am so happy to see now living life as husband and wife. I was honored to play a part in bringing Lauren’s rustic wedding vision to life and can’t wait to see what’s in store for Bill and Lauren as they live their new life together in marital bliss.

All of the photos displayed in this post were taken by the lovely ladies at Sun and Sparrow. Check out their dreamy wedding photography at sunandsparrow.com.

 

 

 

Welcome

Hi, everyone! Welcome to my blog! My name is Jessica Tomkins and I’m currently a student at Pepperdine University where I study advertising with a minor in multi media design.

When I’m not at school, soaking in all of the latest, exciting news in the advertising world, I love to create art of all kinds, explore beautiful and exciting LA, cook, dance and now, blog! Artistic creativity of all kinds has always given me a way to express myself and keeps me feeling happy and fulfilled.

This blog is a way in which I can share all the things I’m passionate about whether that be my most recent work, event designs,  fashion inspiration, food discoveries, and more.

Thanks for stopping by!