Thanks for stopping by! Here on BECOMING LOLA I share stories on becoming minimalist, as well as living a pure clean life as a style-obsessed digital nomad with a no BS approach to ethical fashion + travel. Grab a glass of wine and start here: Building A Minimalist Wardrobe.


Oct 20, 2011

happy birthday to me! a year in review...

The breeze outside is ferocious. I can hear the newly birthed autumn leaves whipping against the pavement, a sound so melodic, even over the loud humming of the trains that whiz by in the distance. Sometimes I think, when I listen close enough, I can hear the city. An orgy of buzzing folk, traffic, and even the air. It filters out into its own sound, smoothed out like butter once it reaches my ears. I hear all that sitting here at my home office, alone, on my birthday. It makes me wonder how I got here. Being alone with your thoughts has that affect. Its almost as if it takes another's memory to induce my own. Do you ever feel that way, like you can't remember your own experiences unless someone reminds you? That's how far removed I am from myself. So what better to do than think back on a year that brought me where I am now....

Funny enough I can remember this same time last year as if it were yesterday. I had gotten out of yet another long-term relationship, lived in a great big fancy apartment, had a great big fancy publishing job in midtown Manhattan, and spent all my money on absolutely nothing. I decided to go back to school for writing and French (remember that?!) and moved in with my dear old mama to save on rent. If you can remember that far back, it was the epitamy of my nightmare living situation. Why? There was no kitchen! At that time I was newly obsessed with really obsessed, and I had no kitchen. I had expensive cookbooks upon cookbooks and magazine subscriptions galore, but no kitchen. I had bakewear and recipes and people asking me to bake, but no kitchen. It was like stripping the clothes off a runway model. I felt naked and useless. Needless to say school quickly fell off my list of things to accomplish at that very moment, even though I was very fortunate to get a free ride via financial aid. And just when I was deciding if a culinary school in the deep south was more up my alley, low and behold I find a new love. A hey-nice-to-meet-you-we-are-in-love kind of love. It all happened so fast and seem to come over me the same way the new winter season was washing over the city with pellets of white fluff. I then had a new partner in crime in which to share dreams and laughter. The new dream? Open up a boutique tea and pastry business. The money it required was not a dream, so instead we decided to do specialty food, chocolate and wine tours. It was quite a hit if I say so myself. Who wouldn't want to spend their weekends schmoozing with seasoned travelers, pining over a cute chocolatier or young chef, indulging in truffles and three layer cookies while sipping on Chardonnay? Certainly I had no complaints. While on weekends you would find me chatting up a storm to any foodie who would listen, during the week I was Martha Stewart's darker, younger, and more socially inclined clone. I was baking, decorating, and even cooking. Yes, I cooked. On a stove. Not in an oven. Sweet potato ginger soups with lemon chicken, lamb and chorizo chillis, old-fashioned casseroles with southern buttermilk biscuits, brioche french toast and chive egg breakfast cups. Everyone thought it was me who needed a magazine. But that was not my goal, I simply got myself in the kitchen every single day for month's on end for one reason- I was in love with doing so. Suzy homemaker lifestyle was my cup of tea. We did everything together, including turning into health nuts. Everything had to be clean, green, and good for the environment (hence the array of organic recipes I've been spewing at you). But then flowers turned to crisp warm grass and sun rays turned to sun showers and breeze into wind. I knew before long, no one would come trek through the city with me in search of sweet treats when the blizzards hit and hail tumbled down. I also realized that my love was not the true kind, for many reasons, and I would have to let him go. So I found myself right where I had started. In a great big fancy home with a comfortably fancy career path that was headed nowhere. No friends and family in sight to boot. It got me thinking, what is a loner's best friend? Mail! If ever there was something more delightful than seeing a pretty package all tied up in string waiting for you on your porch. You know the feeling....getting off the bus, walking up the road, or driving up to your garage door, spotting something in the corner of your eye and the adrenaline rush surges through sparking curiosity. An envelope could be bills, but a package...oh no, that is something truly more enticing. Did you order something? The feeling of not remembering...the anxious excitement ripping open the package....the comfort of reading a handwritten note. That is something I never had in my life. And as time was getting closer to my birthday, a day I expected absolutely nothing to arrive for me in the mail, that was the time I realized I wanted to give a piece of that magic back to everyone and anyone who wanted it, and in turn, live vicariously through that magic I gave to others. I would start a sweet treats club where beautiful packages came right to your door every month. So there was my idea, but still it was no replacement for the amount of myself I had lost. I lost being Suzy Homemaker. My kitchen forgot my name. Its as pristine clean as it was two months ago, not a pan or bake dish touched. I had no one to cook for, no desserts to surprise someone with, no new recipes to care about. So yesterday, I decided a new age meant a new outlook. I would make myself into the ultimate urbanista solo cook. I bought a couple books, was given a few magazines, sampled some inspiring dishes...and I'm ready. For the new chapter. Are you ready to venture with me?
My first ever foray into baking! A triple layered cake with dulce de leche creme, german chocolate filling and two chocolate icings that I made for a past boyfriend. And yes, there was some Duncan Hines involved back then. From-scratch was not yet in my vocab. For me now, just gonna head to get some cookie ice cream and call it a night!

Oct 15, 2011

living a minimalist life is heaven on main street

heaven on main street bakery
*After receiving a wonderfully surprising comment from Taylor herself, I had to reintroduce this post and hope that inspires some of you just in time for the weekend. If you're like me, you'll get a journal and sketchbook handy, grab some hot cocoa and s'mores, and whip those dreams into something rivaling reality. Until then...*

Its frigid here in New York. The last of the autumn leaves have fallen. December is not being timid in greeting us with its blistering night winds. I'm eternally longing for hot cocoa every time I step out of the house. My long daily commutes leave me with only my harvesting thoughts to keep me warm. I catch myself daydreaming constantly lately, and its as if these consuming thoughts of mine make the cold in my blood fall away sheepishly just like the dying leaves. You won't be surprised by my latest fantasy of course, as you know me all too well now. Last night you can see me fumbling around with the idea of bringing back Bed & Breakfast Queen to the blog, simply because I never want to lose sight of where I want to end up. And that will always be somewhere far away from here, perched atop a luscious rolling hill in San Fran or the South of France, in a magical Victorian cottage old enough to tell a thousand stories through its walls. And each morning I'll wake up, happier than the day that preceded it, as giddy as a kid on Christmas to prepare warm buttery croissants and cafe au lait for the guests of my B&B. Perhaps they'll invite friends along for the afternoon high tea buffet I'll make sure is always brimming to the vintage silver rim. But alas its just a dream for now. Or not. Something came along this week that had visited me once before in the form of a magazine article...way before this time of my indulgent nature and infatuation with food. It was a simple article about a simple girl who long had a dream about opening a bakery. Fast forward a couple years and I stumbled across her website, only to find she closed up shop. I sighed with devastation. I'll never get to visit this place. This place to heaven on Earth.

minimalist baker taylor of heaven on main street

Heaven on Main is the story of me. Well okay no, granted, its the story of gorgeous model turned pastry chef Taylor, and her handsomely savvy husband cum business partner Josh, but still, just go with me on this one. The article I had read only half consciously those years ago was all for show. It rang on about the organic this and healthy options that, never really capturing the essence of what I imagine Heaven on Main was. The moment I saw the old Victorian mansion staring back at me from the website, its the moment I knew my own dream was feasible and not just fleeting. Even though Taylor only wanted a bakery to call her own, she was pleasantly surprised to find the mansion came with two apartments on the top floor, which she rented all the while to make extra income. Wouldn't it be splendid if I could one day find something similar...a house grand enough to house my pastries and tea at the bottom, and decadent B&B palace at the top? "Rather than being a traditional rural retreat, Heaven has essentially become the town’s living room," is how this NY Times article introduced me to Taylor's humbly sweet business venture. Taylor went to CIA, the creme de la creme of all culinary schools (right here in NY of course) which I mentioned before I longed to attend, but at sixty grand a year, that will never happen. After graduating she modeled in Europe, which with that face, is no surprise. While in Paris modeling, she did research, keeping a journal...of cookies eaten at Ladurée and pudding-thick African hot chocolate sipped at Angelina. She literally ate at every great bakery in Paris, something I just just mentioned in a previous post. Small world. One day while standing in a couture gown, she called up a real estate broker and requested to see a few spots in the deep suburban areas of upstate New York. No sooner did she hint at launching her own dream did she find this mansion which swept her off her feet. The rest is history. I only wish I had a chance to visit and be embraced with the wafting fragrances of fresh from-the-oven brownies or the lingering hints of gingerbread cookies and blueberry pie. For now I'll just have to admire Taylor from afar, but always secretly thank her for showing me a dream is only a dream if you keep it that way.
all images courtesy Heaven on Main
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