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Dutch Envy

So yesterday we woke up in Amsterdam and today we're back in the good ol' US of A. Home in Madison, but without an actual building to call home. It's a strange feeling. The last week of our 9 week European tour went by in a blur. It seemed that by the time we got to Holland it already felt like the trip was winding down, and exhaustion was creeping in. Not that we didn't have a great time there. In fact, this was my third trip to the Netherlands, and I have to say that I like it more each time that I visit.
When coming back from a long time abroad, America can smack you in the face with its. . . well, American-ness. And this seems especially apparent when coming back from a- -ok, I'm going to use a naughty word here- "socialist" country like the Netherlands. When we were there, I kept commenting to Josh on how nice everything is. Sure, there are jerks who live there (though I didn't meet any) and of course they have their problems. But, there are some really noticeable differences between Holland and America. For one, there are no homeless people. As my friend Muriel told us, "no one is super-rich, but no one is super-poor." Of course, they pay nearly half their salary in taxes (something most Americans can't fathom), but they want for nothing. No one worries that they might go bankrupt if they get ill. No one has to take to robbing convenience stores to feed their family because they got laid off or are unable to work. There are safety nets for everything and everyone. Also, the roads are fantastic, as well as public transportation, and it's very clean. I think these things make the general standard of living very high, which makes people happier and nicer.
Another thing I noticed is the lack of billboards. This is also true in most other European countries. I don't think most Americans think about it when they're driving down the highway, but billboards are everywhere.  And they are such an eyesore. In fact, advertisements of every kind bombard us everyday here in the States, and it seems to get worse and worse every year.
Finally, something that is very noticeable in Holland, is that there are almost no fat people. I know, this might sound harsh, but it's no secret that one-third of adults in America are obese. And of course this is due to diet and lifestyle- mainly lack of exercise. In Holland, everyone bikes everywhere. I'm not sure when this trend started, but it seems to be a well-rooted part of their culture at this point. When you arrive at any train station, you will find a sea of thousands of bikes locked up outside. There are bike lanes everywhere, and bikes always have the right of way. With such an active lifestyle being an everyday part of the culture, it's no wonder most people are healthy. Not to mention equal access to excellent healthcare, and a diet that doesn't typically include foods laden with preservatives, which we are so fond of in this country.
I know what most Americans think of when they think of the Netherlands. . . the legalization of marijuana and prostitution. That's an unfortunate fact, because in reality those things aren't noticeable at all. On this trip, we ended up not going to Amsterdam at all (except the train station), and so we avoided seeing a lot of the touristy side of Holland. I can't remember ever seeing a woman, or man, dressed "slutty" this past week. . .a  common daily sight anywhere else. In general, the Dutch seem very modest and practical. Supposedly, there are brothels and "coffee shops" in every town, but they just aren't noticeable unless you know where to find them, I assume.
Well, I hope I don't sound like a traitor to my country. It really is good to be home, but I think traveling is so important because it gives you a realistic picture of your own country- it's flaws and its greatness. It's really sad to me that only 38% of Americans hold a passport. How can you say that America is the greatest country in the world if you've never been anywhere else?  There is so much we could learn so much from other countries, small and insignificant though they might be.

but for now I've got some serious jet lag to get over....


Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving 2012. . . sitting in a pub in Monaghan, Ireland.  Josh and I just had a Thanksgiving "feast" of cheap, mediocre Chinese food in the empty restaurant next door. I couldn't be more thankful.
We're already nearly 6 weeks into our 9 week European tour, which is just the beginning of a year-long mega tour. I have been meaning to write for all of this time, but just haven't found the time/ energy/ inspiration/ wi-fi connection. Until now.
We've been having a fantastic time- after a month in England & Scotland we're now into our second week in Ireland. Throughout our travels and Josh's gigs we've met dozens of truly wonderful people. No one in any of these countries has made us feel like an outsider. However, it can be really exhausting, mentally and physically, traveling nearly every day, sleeping in other peoples' houses (sometimes strangers) or dusty hotel rooms. And since Josh has a show almost every night, the late-night pub culture is especially tiring. I certainly can't complain, though, because I don't have to entertain people night after night like he does (I also don't do any of the driving. . .).
I had been feeling really fatigued the last week or so, like all of this traveling and socializing and late-night partying was starting to catch up to me all at once. But yesterday, in the remote west coast town of Clifden, was a turning point. Two extraordinary events caused me to reflect on why I chose to go along with this year of touring (besides doing it for Josh's career), and why I am so grateful to be where I am.
After checking in to the Abbeyglen hotel, a converted castle-come-hotel that we got a really, really good off-season deal on, Josh and I went into the lobby for tea and a warm fire. Within a few minutes of sitting down, we were joined by a much older gentleman who was having tea and asked if he could join us. His name is Tom Conelly and he has lived in Clifden his whole life, though he's traveled all over the world. He told us that for 5 or 6 decades he has helped tourists who come to Ireland find their Irish ancestors and sometimes living relatives. Five years ago, he and his wife took a trip to Wisconsin where Tom's aunt had immigrated a century ago. They were greeted by something like 150 distant relatives, who all wanted to meet their Irish family. This was the last big trip Tom took. His wife died a couple years later, and since then he says he can't bring himself to leave Clifden. He tried to describe why traveling by himself just isn't possible. . . the most touching thing he said was that if he went somewhere and his collar was messed up, there would be no one there to fix it. I think traveling was probably something that he and his wife had always enjoyed doing together, and it just seemed wrong and pointless for him to travel without her. This made me tear up, of course, and also reminded me of how lucky I am to get to travel all over the world with Josh. We've had so many adventures over the years that now on the rare occasion that I go on a trip without him, it feels terribly wrong. This is why, when months ago he brought up the idea of giving up our apartment and touring for a year, I didn't hesitate. Home isn't necessarily where you keep your things, after all.
So after this interesting tea-time conversation, we said our goodbyes to Tom, who had just remembered that he was supposed to be at a funeral. Besides, we had to get to dinner and then to Josh's gig at the Boat Club. This unique venue was kind of out of the way- down a tiny country road (which we drove in complete darkness), on the water. However, there was a good crowd of about 25-30 people who were really excited for the first ever music performance at the Boat Club. About 10 minutes into the show, a sudden lightning storm started up. It was a beautiful, dramatic backdrop to Josh's performance, and probably rivaled him for people's attention. Then Josh took a set brake, during which there was a loud crack and all the lights went out! Luckily, there were already candles on most of the tables, and the room was so small that Josh didn't really need a PA system. So we  decided that the show would go on. . . unplugged. Peter, the bartender, and Simon, the manager, hurriedly put out more candles and everyone huddled around the small fireplace in the corner of the pub. The show was already going well, but this new intimate setting made it great. Suddenly, there was a real sense of community- all of us coming together, against the elements, for the love of music. This is the second reason I am on this journey with Josh. Despite the fact that there have been days where I just want to put on pj's, crawl into my own bed and not talk to anyone, there are also days like this where unexpected things happen and I end up in a beautiful place with wonderful people and a real sense of belonging, thousands of miles from home.
   from a helicopter above Tipperary, IRE. more photos here.



Big Change in the Air

Wow. What a crazy summer it has been! Last time I posted, we had just started the Good Style Shop Collective. So far, it's going great! We've got new stuff coming in almost every day and the local response has been super supportive. And it looks like October 1st we'll be moving to a new, bigger space on E. Johnson St., which has much better foot traffic! Unfortunately, I won't be much help with the big move, though. . .

On October 9th Josh and I are embarking on a huge multi-national tour! We fly to London that day and will be in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and (hopefully) Spain for two months! This will be our second (annual?) European tour, and I feel really good about it because we learned so much from the last trip and have this one very well planned.

Ok, so we get back in the US on December 13th, but the tour doesn't stop there! When we get home we're planning to fix-up and old van that Josh's parents have and then we're hitting the road for almost a year! First we'll head down South to spend a month or two with my parents in Atlanta, while touring around the Southeast. Then we'll head to the Northeast. . . Eventually, we want to spend around 2 months in each part of the country with "home bases" in cities like New York, Boston, Austin, Seattle, and more. Josh will be playing as many shows as possible, while re-connecting with old friends and meeting other musicians. I'll be pretty busy too- helping with all the booking, press, web design, photography/ videography, merch sales, etc. PLUS of course, selling vintage on-line! And I plan to stay involved as much as possible with the GSS. . . I won't be here to work in the shop, but I will be sending them clothes from the road and working on whatever I can remotely on-line.

So it's hard to believe that 6 weeks from now I'll be leaving Madison for an entire year. . .But it's starting to feel very, very real. We moved out of our apartment of three years this week and are staying with friends until we leave.  As always, moving was very stressful, but now I'm excited to have this time to enjoy the rest of the summer in my lovely city!



The NEW Good Style Shop Collective

Well, first of all, Happy (belated) 4th of July! I hope yours was better than mine. . .Unfortunately, I was quite sick the last two days with what I thought was strep throat, so I spent our nation's birthday laying on my couch watching British period dramas on Netflix and eating ice cream. It wasn't all bad, though, at least I had an excuse to stay inside and avoid the 100 degree + temperatures we've had this week!
Luckily, today I am feeling much better because it's my first day working at the new Good Style Shop Collective! Myself and 6 other vintage sellers have joined forces to form the first shop in Madison of it's type, carrying a very diverse and ever-changing stock of vintage clothing, accessories, records and more! We've all brought in so many things the last few days that the shop has taken on a totally new look- super stocked and fabulous! I'm very excited to be a part of this and I hope it gets the local attention it deserves.

On July 14th we're having our big "re-opening party" which should be a blast! And then in September we're moving to a bigger space! Just one more thing to keep me super, duper busy this Summer!



Saturday was the first ever Thread & Ink Indie fashion fair and it was great! It was sort of hectic trying to put together a fashion show while manning my booth, but it all came together. The High Noon Saloon is not very big, so it was totally packed with amazing things! Besides me, there were 2 other vintage sellers, plus several printmakers and a guy who makes custom jeans.

I didn't spend a ton of time on the fashion show- I only had 4 models- but they all looked great! The "theme" ended up being a 1960's glamorous gold look.
hanging out after the show, acting very "Mad Men"
From top left: Eve in sparkly bronze pencil skirt & 1960's black ruffled blouse, Erin in rose-print party dress (on Etsy), Kylie in 1960's colorful print shift dress & leather fringe jacket (on Etsy), Lainie in 1960's couture beaded gown (on Etsy).

This weekend I'll be moving into the Good Style Shop as part of the new vintage collective! I'm super excited, especially since this means I'll get to do more shopping!



I've got a very busy couple months coming up. . . starting this weekend with my first of two vintage markets. Thread & Ink is this Saturday and will feature independent designers and vintage sellers. There is also going to be a fashion show which I'm a part of!

I'm a little behind on getting my "looks" together, but I think I'm going to go with a glamorous gold and sparkle 1960's theme. In looking through my recent purchases, I noticed I have a lot of items from that era in shades of gold, cream and pink, some with sequins or gold thread. And finally I found a petite model who fits perfectly into this amazing couture gown!! So I will definitely be featuring this as one of my looks.
The big news is this though- A week from now I'll be 1/7 owner of a vintage store in town!! My friends at the Good Style Shop have decided to make it a collective, and they invited myself and a few other on-line sellers to join up. Next month we'll have our grand re-opening party and by then the shop should be totally renovated and packed full of awesome stuff! I'm super excited!
So for now I better get back to work on planning this fashion show. . . I'll post pictures next week!




Vintage Prom Re-Cap

So last weekend was the second annual Vintage Prom. It was soooo much fun, but man am I glad that it's over! We had a crazy couple of weeks between setting up and taking down the pre-prom pop up shop and then decorating for Prom over 3 days. My parents and sister came up from Georgia & South Carolina which was really fun! I think all-in-all it was definitely better than last year. We were so lucky to have beautiful furniture lent to us by A La Crate Vintage Rentals and funky 70's decor for our "lounge" (aka the make-out room) from Costumes With Character.
The "Prom Committee": Me & Rebecca
 The Prom King & Queen arrived in style in this gorgeous red 1960's limo!

Just like last year, the absolute most popular part of the evening was the photo booth by Voltaic Visual. Something about the way he takes pictures, makes everyone look sexy and glamorous!
Check out all the photo booth pics on Facebook!

So next year we'll have to top ourselves again. . . which means even more work, but I'm excited because people really seem to enjoy getting dressed up and dancing like high schoolers!



PROM Season!!

So it's that time of the year again. . .time for the Second Annual Vintage Prom on May 12! I can't believe how quickly it's coming up. And just this week we'll be running our pre-Prom Pop Up Shop at the Project Lodge! I have so much clothing right now, it's actually overflowing out of my studio. So, yes, it's time for a pop up shop. . . hope I sell a lot! 
The next couple weeks are obviously going to be very hectic, but I'll try to post some updates on Prom planning and the pop up shop!




Whoa, I can't believe this is my first post of the year! Shame on me! It has been a very busy and eventful year so far. . . traveling around the country a lot, planning events in Madison, and working on various projects. I'll get into that later, but for now I'm sitting in a hotel room in Tulsa, OK.
Josh and I are on a mini-tour through a part of the country that I really hadn't spent much time in before. Two nights ago we were in St. Louis and had a great time with some musician friends. Yesterday we drove through some pretty intense weather in Missouri and into Oklahoma (right now we're crossing our fingers that a tornado isn't heading this way). I forced him to pull over when we passed through Springfield, MO because I knew the Red Velvet Vintage boutique is there! I've been following their blog, A Beautiful Mess for a long time so was very excited to see the brick-and-mortar store. It was very cute and well-merchandised, full of very nice, reasonably-priced pieces but not so packed that it's hard to look at everything. I have always said that if I ever open a store it will look like Urban Outfitters but be filled with unique vintage pieces. The RV boutique definitely fits that description! It actually reminded me a lot of a smaller version of the Blitz vintage "department store" in London.

Turns out, downtown Springfield has several vintage shops (and not much else). . .but unfortunately, we were in a hurry to get to a gig in Tulsa and didn't have much time to rummage. Ah well, next time!