Friday, September 28, 2012

England by Instagram

We spent four fun days in London, and then headed out to the English countryside. Right now, we're in the Yorkshire Dales, which are gorgeous -- huge, grassy hills and more sheep than you can count. A flat tire and a runny nose tried to spoil our fun, but we're savoring this last little bit of our trip. Tomorrow, it's back to New York. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

How to Breathe Life into Your Vacation Photos

Amy is not only one of my dearest friends, but one half of a talented husband and wife photography team, Reams Photo. She lives in San Diego with her husband, Paul, and their adorable baby girl, Lucy.

We've all seen vacation photos - a series of pictures of people standing in front of one gorgeous view or historic monument after another. But vacation photos so often lack those amazing emotions you felt while taking the picture! Here are a few tips to help bring some life to your camera:

Stop. Breathe. Appreciate where you are.

What makes the place you're standing in feel beautiful, monumental... reviving? Is it the way your husband is tightly holding your hand? The clouds and the tension of soon-to-be rain? The little girls running around with their souvenir snow globes? Then take pictures of those things! Then if you have time, try framing the "worthy" subject with the "feeling" subject. Shoot from a different angle so the fancy castle is surrounded by the ominous clouds. Or focus on the joyful girls with the view in the background.

Get some guts.

Ask the shop owner if you can take his picture in the middle of his store. Get closer than you normally would to the boy walking his donkey. Stand still for 2 seconds longer to reshoot something you didn't get the first time even if it's awkward. Here's the thing, though - be nice. Photography has the potential to be the medium of theives. You aren't looking to steal an image at the expense of someone else - especially not on vacation when it really doesn't matter. Give street performers and beggars money before you take your picture. Ask people for permission whenever you can. Say thanks a lot. As much as photography can be about taking, it can also be about connecting - about finding yourself in a conversations with people who you might not have stopped to talk to, but now keep up with on Facebook.

Take pictures on 2 and 4.

1,2,3... cheese! Maybe it's all those awkward family vacation photos mom took when we were growing up, but the real smiles always stop on three. If you're in the market for a new camera, get one with an instant shutter and take three pictures every time you say smile. Or better yet - say something funny or do something ridiculous then take the picture before your subjects collect themselves.

Don't be critical.

This is HARD for me. I document memories for a living and it's all too easy for me to ruin vacations because I don't feel like I've captured a moment well enough. Silly, right? But it's so important for me to remind myself that the memories are first and the photos are second. I was not sent to this place by The New York Times. I bought my ticket here so I could hang out with my husband, my girlfriends, whoever and to make lots and lots of awesome memories! So what if my gelato picture lacks dynamism? It's vacation. Forgive and move on.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Accessories for the Traveler

Kelsey of Pinegate Road is a super-talented graphic designer, who lives in Savannah (woot-woot!). She has an eye for loveliness, particularly if typography is involved, and her color studies are pure eye candy.

Hello! It's Kelsey from Pinegate Road here to fill in for Natalie today! I was thrilled when she contacted me about doing a guest post while she was away, and maybe even a little bit more to reminisce about my times spent abroad over the years. After a little searching, I decided to find a couple of new tried and true items that would be able to travel will you seamlessly to almost any location, but that would also integrate themselves into your life back home as well. I'm all about those items that can multi-task—they save space, time and the hassle! Bon voyage mes amis!

THE DUAL-ACTION CAMERA BAG — I've been on the hunt for the perfect camera bag that would hold my new DSLR camera and act as a purse when I'm out on a photography adventure and I think this might be it! While many of you might not take your camera around with you daily at home, when traveling the camera is almost always a must and this bag can keep it safe while still having enough room for what you need to tote around with you for the day. At home it can act as a nice cross-body bag for shopping at the market, crossing campus, or heading to work—or it can do it's real job and still hold that camera!

THE LARGE PATTERNED SCARF — Have any of your been walking around town for a while, building up a little bit of a glisten (we ladies don't sweat around here, right?) and then you step in to an air conditioned building for a while and things take a little turn to the more antarctic side of the scale? Well that's when a large thin scarf will really come in handy! I carry a variety of these types of scarves in almost all of my bags, and they are such a life-saver—they wrap up to the size of almost nothing and fit in the tiniest places. I love this one with the cute little pom-pom's and geometric print!

THE VERSATILE ANKLE BOOTIE — Wear with a dress? Check. Jeans? Check. Shorts? Check? That romper you may or not be packing? Yep. A versatile bootie will pair with almost any outfit and any kind of weather. With both black and brown hues, you don't need to worry about matching! The shorter heel gives you enough support that your feet won't sink throughout the day, and it isn't high enough that you're crying in pain after a couple miles of walking.

Do you have any must-bring travel accessories or tips?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Travel Advice: Meet Me in St. Louis

My dear friend Annie is a world-class traveler and blogs about reading and writing at Book Hunger. She and her husband spent a year in Spain teaching English, and they just moved from Maryland to California, driving cross-country to get there.

When traveling, one of my best pieces of advice is this: talk to the locals! I was amazed at how friendly people were all over the United States and how eager they were to let me know the best places to eat and sightsee.

In St. Louis, Missouri, the husband and I stopped in Jazz, Blues and Soups, a local bar that hosts great blues bands every night of the week starting at 9pm (unless the Cardinals game runs over). We came in for some great barbecue and to see what St. Louis had to offer.

It was a weeknight, so the bar wasn’t crowded at all—just the lone bartender (his co-worker decided to go to the game) and an older couple sitting on stools beside us.

It doesn’t take long for people to notice we’re not from around here (“what exactly are hush puppies?”) so the bartender started to ask us about why we were visiting. Between the bartender and the couple beside us, we got the low down on how to make the most out of our stay.

“If there’s two things you do here in St. Louis, go to the Arch and the City Museum.”

Of course, we went up the Arch—it’s one of those things you have to do in your lifetime. While the ride up the top is not good for the claustrophobic, the views of the city are amazing!

I hadn’t seen much on the City Museum while I was searching online. I had expected we would just go to an art museum or something. Actually, it’s more like an adult playground, filled with art, décor, and animals! During the day, there are a lot of kids running around, but in the evening, there are more adults and a nice bar on the rooftop.

When traveling abroad, try to talk to locals as well. In big cities, you should be able to find people who speak English. It was our experience that the pharmacists usually knew a bit of English (good to know when you’re lost in the city!) But if you’re not traveling and sticking to a strict schedule, bumping into new finds is—in my opinion—the best way to travel!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Armchair Traveling

Today's guest post is from Shoko of Sho and Tell. I like to think she has her finger on the pulse of all things quirky and whimsical. Her blog consistently makes me smile and think about things in a new way.

I caught the travel bug in college, after going to India (my first big international trip without my family) the summer before senior year. Since then, I’ve taken a road trip through Eastern Europe, taught math and English to schoolchildren in Cambodia, milked goats in New Zealand, visited cat cafes in Japan, and devoured buttery lobster seaside with my hands in Martha’s Vineyard.

My travel wish-list for the future is lengthy, but my work schedule at the moment makes the possibility of taking a big trip unlikely - for the next few months anyway. No matter - I’ve found there are ways to explore the world that don’t involve the purchase of plane tickets. Some of my favorite books (A Fine Balance, Paris Trance, Travels With Charley) and movies (Lost in Translation, Darjeeling Limited, The Motorcycle Diaries) are transportive. And experimenting in the kitchen with exotic recipes from around the world is one of my favorite ways to travel without leaving home (check this out for inspiration).

It may not be quite the same thing as getting on a plane, but for now, it’ll do. Are you an armchair traveler, too?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad!

To the guy who's always ready for an adventure and who taught me about things that shaped my whole world, love you, Dad. Happy Birthday!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Paris by Instagram

Bonjour (that's just about the extent of my French), friends! Paris has been so wonderful. We've been walking everywhere, exploring gardens and museums, fumbling through French, marveling at the Eiffel Tower and conducting a very serious croissant taste test. Today, we head to London! One more week of fun guest posts headed your way! Have a fantastic weekend!

Wanna follow along? Find us on Instagram at: natalieaerin and savethejonahs

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Travel Photography Tips and Tricks

Kelly from Pine to the Pacific is a girl after my own heart. She always seems to be exploring her city, hanging out with fabulous friends, taking beautiful photos or enjoying bottomless mimosas.

Hi SoHo readers! My name is Kelly, and I blog about life in San Francisco at Pine to the Pacific. My passions are definitely photography and travel, so I thought I’d share some tried and true tips for capturing great photos while on vacation!

For blue skies, shoot with the sun at your back.
Ever wonder why a gorgeous day turns into a weird white sky when you try to
capture the scenery? That happens when you aim your lens toward the sun! If you
shoot with the sun at your back, that sky will look bright blue and make your photos

Turn off your flash.
The instinct can often be to keep you flash on when you're in dim light, but that can
completely wipe out the mood of a photo. Travel photos are especially important for
capturing ambiance, since the goal is to transport you right back to that feeling! In
nighttime or low light situations, turn up your ISO as high as it can go, lower your
shutter speed, and keep a steady hand. Your photos will glow!

Set the scene from afar.
As fun as it is to get close ups of friends and scenery, sometimes the most
memorable photos come from when you can get to a high (or faraway) vantage
point and grab some epic scenery photos. If I'm in a situation that involves steep
hills, a million steps (ugh) or hey, even a gondola, you can bet I'm making my way
to the top to get some sweeping views. These always end up as some of my favorite

Don’t be afraid to go for (or ask for) the shot you want.
Was I nervous to get in the donkey’s face for the photo below? Kinda! (and then I
rode one…all bets were off!) I never hesitate to ask my friends to snap a quick photo
of their food if it's something interesting and beautiful - though it's silly, in the grand
scheme of things it's one photo and can be a great memory! And most importantly,
what do you do if you want to photograph – but NOT buy – some local goods? I
simply ask the shopkeeper if it’s allowed. Sometimes they will say no, and that’s
ok, since it saved a potentially awkward situation. But most of the time people are
happy to let you take home a photograph of something lovely.

And finally, when blogging your photos – put them together!
I love making collages of interesting photos that might not ordinarily go side by side.
It adds a lot of interest and helps create a little vignette.

Thanks for reading! Hope these tips might help out on your next adventure. :) And thanks for having me, Natalie!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Travel Planning: Capri, Italy

Rebecca from The Daily Muse kindly created this travel post (I hope she does go to Capri, just so I can see the pictures). She blogs about life in New York, healthy and delicious food and her dog, Sam Wiggins, who I'm pretty much obsessed with.

Ed and I have been saving for our next big adventure and the funnest part is (of course!) deciding where to go. I procrastinate by watching too much Food Network and Giada De Laurentiis planted the Capri seed in my head. She's all Capri this and Capri that while making caprese salad, and all I'm thinking is how beautiful the photos would be. I also highly doubt the food will suck.

Besides the hotel and location, we tend to put very little effort into planning a trip. Camera in hand, we walk the city. Ed ensures we don't get lost and I'm in charge of properly packing the backpack. My job is meaningless seeing as how I'm with the human compass, but thanks to me you won't get sunburnt.

Know your role, my well-traveled friends.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

{Dinner} Party Like the Parisians

I'm telling you if I ever get invited to a party by Lauren of Amen {Inspired} Design, I'm going. I just love her sense of style, her positive outlook, and she's based in Charleston. As Lauren would say, "Can I get an Amen?"

Bonjour! My name's Lauren and I'm an interior designer from the lowcountry of Charleston, South Carolina. It's such an honor to be making a guest appearance here while Natalie is enjoying London and Paris. Although, I must say, I'm a little jealous. Ok, a lot jealous.

So for those of us who aren't soaking in a little ex-pat time, I thought it would be nice to talk about how to bring a little charm of the city of lights to you. And what do Parisians enjoy more than a lovely, engaging dinner party? I mean, I know it's one of my favorite ways to pass a beautiful late-summer / early-fall evening. Good food, good wine, good friends...ahh...c'est la vie.

If you were coming to my place for such an occasion, here's what you'd find.

Naturally, there'd be wine, like this pretty Made in Provence rosé. And cheese. Lots of cheese. Displayed on this rustic-chic slate cheese platter from one of my fave go-to's: High Street Market.

And while I was picking up my cheese plater, I'd also grab some vintage Eiffel Tower place card holders, also from HSM. Besides that fact that they're an obvious choice for the evening, a good French dinner party never leaves seating to chance. Hosts put thought into this detail. And homme-femme arrangement is preferred.

The dinner table (I'm seeing something long, banquette-style) would be dressed to the nines with this oh-so-french black and crème ticking stripe runner from The Stichin' Chicken. I love this runner for it's slight frill. Not too sweet. Just right.

These garland napkins are the perfect table linen compliment.

Dinnerware would be from Anthropologie, the best place, in my opinion, to find such pretty fluer-de-lis dishes, rose bistro-style wine glasses and vintage-inspired flatware.

It'd also be the place to grab some lovely architectural beeswax candles to intermingle with oh-so-French Bougies La Française tapers in whimsy artisan aged-bronze candlesticks from Crate & Barrel.

And the table just wouldn't be up to the occasion without an elegant bouquet of freshly picked flowers (from the garden or the corner market). The pictured arrangement is from Martha Stewart. But hey, we're not all Martha. And we don't have to be. I think an arrangement a little more on the haphazard works for this. In fact, maybe even more so. Just go with it. 

After all, that's the point of this little soirée, right? 

I'm so glad we had this chat! 

We can talk more over at my design blog: Amen Life + Style. Let's meet up again soon!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Traveling in Style

I'm kicking off the guest posts with my favorite namesake blogger, Natalie of Natty Michelle. She's great at finding inspiration for your home and closet, puts together some clever DIY projects and makes the sweetest hand-painted stationery.

Hello! I’m Natalie -- or Natty -- and I blog over at Natty Michelle. I can only imagine what kind of European adventures Natalie and her Mister are getting into -- it’s no doubt that this will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip! She has been so kind to ask me to guest blog while they are away, so today I’ve put together a few must-haves for comfortable, stylish travel. Without further ado, here’s my list:

1. Open knit top by Aiko Amelie. The perfect texture, color and weight for fall.

2. ASOS metal top keyhole sunnies; stylish, unique and casual.

3. Michael Kors iPhone clutch case. The perfect accessory when you don’t want to lug a big purse or bag around all day. Everything you need will fit into this tiny wristlet, and it has the perfect pocket for your iPhone (loaded with the TripAdvisor app, of course)!

4. Thermos Nissan 18-Ounce Stainless-Steel Hydration Bottle. Great for traveling and busy lifestyles, this Thermos keeps water cold all day -- even when the temperature is scorching hot outside.

5. Orange floral silk shorts. While they’re a little pricey, silky, floral shorts are a piece that could easily go from day to night.

6. Camera strap; needed in order to snap touristy photos in style all over Europe.

7. Hole-punch flat sandals; comfortable shoes that will keep feet feeling -- and looking -- fabulous throughout your trip.

8. Polka dot bag; because you’ll need a chic carry-on bag for your 3,400 + mile flight across the pond. And besides, who doesn’t love polka dots?

I’d love to hear -- are any of these items on your packing list? What are your go-to pieces for comfortable, stylish travel?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Au revoir!

The big day has finally arrived and come tonight, we're bound for Europe! I'm so excited! I'll be in Paris and London or thereabouts for the next two weeks, but I have some fantastic guest bloggers lined up for you, and I think I'll drop in a time or two to fill you in on my adventures. Can't wait to tell y'all all about it!

Here are a few random things I just can't keep to myself:
Have you seen Sleepwalk With Me? I thought it was funny and sweet and felt authentic. I'd recommend it.
I won't have a kitchen for a while, so someone please make these pumpkin cookies and eat one for me.
Regardless of where I'm going, this song always gets stuck in my head before vacations.
This whale is my new favorite thing ... ever.

Have a wonderful weekend! Be back soon-ish!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sweet Treat: Bubble Waffle

TKettle is a little tea shop on St. Mark's Place, a street in New York you should visit if you're in the market for a piercing or a pair of fingerless pleather gloves. While the tea is the main attraction, they also make a bubble waffle using a special waffle iron. It's thin and chewy and has pockets of puffy goodness all drizzled in honey or topped with whipped cream if you prefer. Much like bubble tea, it's sort of a novelty, but it's tasty and fun to eat. It also goes nicely with a sweet, milky tea. I passed on the bubbles this time because I had just read a story saying they may contain carcinogens, and I don't like balls of tapioca that much. For now, I'll just keep the bubbles in my waffles.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On Blogshop and the World of Blogging

As I mentioned on Monday, I attended Blogshop over the weekend. The two-day class is taught by the mega-talented Bri Emery and Angela Kohler (who took the photos below) and is basically Photoshop bootcamp created with bloggers in mind. It was so helpful and fun for someone like me who only knew the teensiest bit about Photoshop. Now I feel pretty comfortable with it and am eager to play around and experiment. My mom is also very excited about my new ability to remove wrinkles in photos.

For some reason, I always feel strange talking about blogging on my blog. I don't know why, but I have this "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" feeling about it. Whenever I talk about my blog with people, my inclination is to get very shy about it and say it's just a hobby, and while that's true, it's more than that. I love sharing photos and ideas and moments and things I love with you, and I love hearing back from you and seeing glimpses of your life. And while there are times when writer's block, bad lighting and that beast known as comparison creep in, creating this little space brings me a lot of joy as do all of you who take the time to visit it.

So I may spend more time editing photos, I may try to incorporate graphics and gifs and prettier fonts, and I may finally get around to that redesign I've been thinking about for two years, but all of that isn't really the heart of it for me. What I care about is The SoHo adding a little bit of brightness to your day with something that makes you smile or say "ooo" or occasionally makes you hungry, okay more than occasionally. That's the part of this whole blogging thing that keeps me inspired and motivated, and I thank you all for sticking with me. You're as wonderful as a chocolate cookie sandwich!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins

It's September so bust out the pumpkin! That tends to be my rule even if it's 88 degrees outside. I don't know why I don't eat pumpkin year-round since I love it so much, but I guess it would lose its specialness if I did. Like having Christmas lights up all year or eating birthday cake every day. Actually that doesn't sound so bad, maybe I'm on to something here.

Anyway, these pumpkin muffins are soft, moist, not overly sweet and the crumb topping adds the right amount of crunch. I lined half of the muffins with parchment paper, which made them perfect for a breakfast on the go.

Pumpkin Muffins with Walnut Crumble
Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 cup (heaping) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 whole egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Crumb Topping
1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease or line muffin tins. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Cut in butter with two forks or a pastry blender until it is fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin, cream, egg and vanilla. Pour pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Fold gently until mixture is just combined. Pour into a muffin pan about 2/3 full in each. Set aside.

For crumble topping, coarsely chop walnuts. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle unbaked muffins with crumb topping. Bake muffins for 25 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove and allow to cool. Makes 10 to 12 muffins.


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