Author Archives: jjbegonia

Woodstock, Vermont Wassail Weekend

My “Christmas spirit” was severely lacking earlier this month.  Are you familiar with that old Faith Hill song “Where are you Christmas”, from How the Grinch Stole Christmas?  I felt as if I was walking around with that playing on a constant loop.

This was weird for me.

I am actually someone who typically (annoyingly) belts out that song, and any other holiday tune that comes to mind to anyone who will listen to me.  I start slowly pulling out my decorations in October; of which there are many.  I keep running lists of the gifts I want to buy for people, all year long.

But this year, meh.

I am not sure what brought this about…maybe I was too focused on a couple of the long-term projects I’ve been working on.  I tend to hone in like a laser (Eye on the prize, you know?) and am practically bursting at the seams to complete and share some things with you in 2017.  Or perhaps, I was just too far in my own head.  There is a part of me that felt very “How is it December, again“?  This year flew.

What I do know for sure is that when I get into that space, the best thing I can do is to “go”.  It can be anywhere really.  There are plenty of country roads near my home that I can ramble down, trails to hike, or sweet small towns to visit.  I’ve never shied away from booking a plane ticket either.  I like to get lost, and simply put, it’s the best way for me to get back to myself.

In this case, I found the happy medium with a road trip to Woodstock, VT for Wassail Weekend.  It was either an instance of extreme serendipity or of astute Facebook algorithms, but I was seeing mentions of this festival everywhere!  All of the photos I clicked on looked like scenes straight from a Currier & Ives print, so I figured if there were any place I could find a bit of that Christmas magic, it would be there.

I was right.

 

I took approximately 987,654 photos for you, but in words, these are a few of the things that I loved about this beautiful celebration (and place):

The decorations!  Not a corner of Woodstock was left untouched.  Even the cars were decorated!  Each home, shop, and restaurant in the very least had a wreath, and all were so unique and fitting to their locations.  I loved that the Vermont Flannel Company for example, had potted trees outside their storefront with flannel bows tied to them.  My favorite display, however, was the big sleigh, which was perched in front of a flower shop.  The door to the shop was covered in lit garlands and twigs and dried flowers; so gorgeous.

I realize that I had a pretty limited scope, but I felt a true sense of community in this town.  The people that I met seemed genuinely excited about the goings on, and were eager to share not only information about Woodstock, but to lend a helping hand in general.  All of the businesses were extremely crowded by the end of Saturday, visitors were lost, and it was freezing cold outside to boot – but there was nary (from what I could see) a Scrooge in sight!

This is somewhat in keeping with the above, but I went into several restaurants while I was there, and each one had a chalkboard or visible menu that listed all of the local products and ingredients that the establishment was using, all the way down to the Farmhouse Pottery I was eating out of.  We have a little bit of this in Upstate NY, but it would make my heart happy to see more of it.  Coming from a family of small business owners, I know that this is how small businesses grow; through sharing and support, starting in their own communities.  It’s such an awesome thing.

 

woodstock-wassail-weekend-house-tour-1

(more…)

Honeyed Pear and Prosecco Cocktail

Thank You so much to Lunetta for sponsoring this post!  As always all opinions are my own.

 

honey-pear-prosecco-cocktail-hero-1

Can you picture how the sky looks an hour or so before a big snow squall is about to hit?  In the way that the clouds turn hazy – as if a fog is rolling in – and the sun peeks through for one last hurrah; a mix of grey and pink and yellow?  It’s peaceful and pretty, and what I believe we commonly refer to as the “calm before the storm”.

That was happening outside as I took these photos and looking at them now, I think I may have been channeling some of that vibe when I was staging them.  The light was pouring in in a way that made my house feel both cold and warm at the same time.  I can’t explain it any better than to say that it looked like the best version of that illustrious “Golden Hour”, especially because it was taking place around 1:00 in the afternoon (not during the sunrise or sunset), and it had a very pronounced rosy glow to it.

I actually stopped what I was doing for a minute to admire it.  I had been using a sequined jacket in my setup and the light was giving said jacket a disco ball effect.  You might think this is corny, but to me, it was a simple, sparkly moment of pleasure to behold.

Lunetta (meaning “Little Moon” in Italian) is a brand that celebrates the small pleasures in life.  I am particularly excited to partner with them on this post as Prosecco is by far my favorite libation.  It’s the drink I order when I am out, and the one bottle I always have on hand at my parties.  I even add it to my food, recipe permitting, of course.

I am A-OK with a glass of Prosecco on its own, but I like to throw in special touches here and there as well.  This cocktail has that in the form of pear nectar with background notes of honey and vanilla.  Bear with me here, but it kind of reminds me of that light I was referring to above, in that the flavor profile is cold (chilled dry-ish bubbly, pear) and warm (vanilla-y honey) all at once.

I am planning on serving this drink to my family on Christmas Eve, however, I am looking forward to sipping on it well through winter of 2017 too!

 

lunetta-prosecco-bottles-peach-glasses-10

(more…)

Leading with Your Gut, with Tropicana Probiotics

Thank You so much to Tropicana for sponsoring this post!  As always, all opinions are my own.

 

“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair.  We’d never have a friendship.  We’d never go into business, because we’d be too cynical.  Well, that’s nonsense.  You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” ~ Annie Dillard

Once upon a time, I was a girl who strongly disliked (“Hate” is probably a better word here, but I try not to use that in any capacity, because it just promotes bad vibes, all around, you know?) her job.  I’ve talked about this before and I probably will again.

When I graduated from college and moved to New York City immediately thereafter, I wanted to become a magazine editor.  I wasn’t entirely sure what that would entail, but I was certain that I loved to create and write, and that thinking about things like branding, packaging, colors, and layouts very much excited me; they still do.

To get my foot in the door so to speak, I began temping at magazines like GQ and Lucky.  I would work at each for 2-3 days at a time doing very glamorous things such as organizing fashion closets and stuffing PR mailers.  I really enjoyed those tasks though, in part because I always felt that in doing them I was getting one step closer to my dream of becoming an editor.  We all have to pay our dues.

Eventually, I landed a full-time position at another magazine…in sales.  I had never considered working in sales before, but I was young and naive and above all, reasoned with myself that I would do this particular job for a year or two at most, and ultimately cross over into editorial as planned.  Right.

You might guess by now where this is going.

Without me even realizing it, one year turned into almost ten.  Time is good like that; it flies.  I did a lot of things in that period of my life, of course.  I moved back to Boston and got my MBA.  I traveled as much and as often as I possibly could.  When I graduated from Boston College once again (I also did my undergrad program there.), I moved to Los Angeles.

In all that time, I continued to work in sales in spite of the fact that my heart was never in it.  What I know now is that I was never cut out for sales, and if I am being honest, I was never very good at it either.  Yet in every new position that I accepted, I continued to reason and make concessions with myself as to why I kept on keeping on.  I suppose I had decided that I would make a change “someday”.

Before I go any further, I want to say that in the handful of jobs that I had in that decade, I met some incredible people and made some of my very best friends.  While I was not once particularly thrilled about the work in front of me, I was learning; a whole bunch.  I will forever be grateful for those two things if nothing else.

The truth is, however, I knew deep down that for as long as I continued to work in sales, I would never be genuinely happy.

That realization practically smacked me in the face by the point at which I landed in L.A.  The company that I was with at the time had numerous internal problems.  Those problems definitely made me feel worse off, but – that aside – what the situation boiled down to is that I was utterly unfulfilled.  Not even a new job with the coolest company, or the kindest people, or the best perks, (insert superlative here) etc., etc., etc., would change that.

What I still wanted to do was to create.  I spent my free time taking photos of random objects and scenery.  Where I could, I planned adventures and road trips.   I invited my friends over for dinner parties.  On the weekends, I wandered from farmers’ market to farmers’ market obsessing over the pretty produce California had to offer and dreaming up new recipes.

I also found that age old thought running on repeat in my mind “There has to be more to life than this“.

 

(more…)