Location: Houston, TX

A Few of my Favorite Things

With the holidays coming up I'm constantly on the hunt for one-of-a-kind and unique gifts for my friends and family. This season I've teamed up with Shop Catalog to curate a small collection of prezzies that the people in your life might enjoy. I painstakingly picked each and every item on this list and one of my favorites are the Katie Diamond Lana Studs I'm wearing in the photo above. Earring jackets have come back in a major way and every time I wear these beauties I get a wave of compliments. Be sure to check out the entire collection here.

photos // jessica ofelia
Location: Denton, TX

Meet the Artisans: Julian & Kate Pastrana

Julian and Kate of Pastrana Studios are true artisans. They create timeless, hand-made pieces with the goal of designing things that compliment our homes and the way we live. So much thought and energy go into each and every item that is made. From locally sourcing the materials, to the fine craftsmanship behind each piece, their careful process allows them to create heirlooms for you and your family that can be passed down for generations. Read on to learn about Julian and Kate and discover why their work is so timeless.

How did you get your start?
Kate and I have always been people who are driven to create, it was one of the things we bonded over when we first met. When we got married, we started making small pieces of furniture for our own house out of necessity. Once we realized how well we worked together and how we enjoyed designing and creating functional furniture for our home, we decided that we wanted to start our brand, Pastrana Studio. The main goal since the beginning has been to extend the opportunity for others to experience the aesthetic of our lifestyle through our products. Our company is just an extension of how we live day to day. We also wanted to create an atmosphere, through the function of each our pieces, that was conducive to communal gatherings.

Describe your process when creating new pieces.
The way a piece usually starts out is by Kate and I seeing a need for our own house and deciding, "hey we should build ourselves a better coffee table," or something along those lines. Then from there we start brainstorming and drawing up designs. This stage is where Kate really shines. She is really good at translating our thoughts and ideas onto paper, and she is much better artist than I am. We pull a lot of inspiration from mid century design and shaker style furniture. Then once we have a design that we like, it's on to the shop for prototype building. I'll usually use a less expensive wood or ply wood for this part of the process because typically the first one or two prototypes will be discarded. Sometimes it can take a few efforts to get the final vision for the piece to come to fruition. But then once we get it, I'll make templates from the prototype and recreate the piece using a higher quality material. It can be a long process depending on the piece. Sometimes it is quicker than others, but it's not often you get it on the first try. Experimenting and failing is part of learning and growing as a wood worker. I'm continually finding new ways to improve how I go about building these pieces. 

Where do you source your materials from?

We like to use local saw mills to source our materials. They have a variety of different types of domestic and exotic woods. Sometimes we will take fallen trees and we go and get them milled for lumber that we can use in the future. I would say that the majority of our material comes from Texas.

What's your favorite sound in nature?
Where we live is pretty secluded. So in the mornings, usually while we are reading and drinking coffee, we can really hear the birds singing outside. It really creates a beautifully calm atmosphere to start the day. It also reminds us of how blessed we are to live where we do, surrounded by trees and wildlife.

Things that make a house feel like a home?
For us hospitality is a huge part of our home. We want to create an environment for people to be welcomed. Our home is not big so being creative and thoughtful with our furniture is key. For example, our Boxcar Stool is primarily used as a side table but when people come over we can use it as extra seating. Also, what makes our house feel like a home is a sense of warmth and natural feeling that we get by using hardwood products throughout our space. Nowadays so much synthetic goods are made because its cheaper but they just don't give the same warmth that we desire. 

What makes Pastrana Studio special?
The thought and intentionality behind each piece. We don't create anything that we don't use ourselves.

Quotes or advice to live by?
The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.

If you could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Julian: I would choose fine woodworker and master craftsmen, the late Sam Maloof. He is a big inspiration to me and it would be nice to be able to pick his brain about what he learned over all his years of building furniture.

Kate: Alfreda Maloof, Sam's wife. She was responsible for encouraging Sam's craft and his biggest supporter. I would love to soak up her wisdom on how to better encourage Julian. She was also an artist herself and spent a lot of time in New Mexico, which is a favorite of ours. I can just imagine the four of us sitting there, Julian and Sam talking about technical woodworking and Alfreda and I art and design.

Describe Pastrana Studio in three words.
Quality, Heirloom, Timeless
images via pastrana studios
Location: Houston, TX

Thinking Out Loud

As the seasons change, so do the feelings I have for you. The bond that once brought us closer than ever has started to disintegrate, just like the battered fallen leaves fall victim to fierce winds. The smallest gust of mistrust blows our almost relationship away into nothingness.

Souls as kindred as ours were never meant to be together. Souls like ours were meant to intertwine for a brief moment in time and never cross paths again. In our fleeting time together we pushed each other to be better people, to be better creatives. It was a breathtaking whirlwind that neither of us will forget. After all, a romance like that shakes you to your core. But my unwillingness to let you in seems to have taken its toll. After trying to break my seemingly impenetrable wall over and over again, like a bad case of deja vu, I saw you break just like the rest of them. And as the summer changes to autumn I can feel your once comforting presence fade away like the oppressive heat.

In many ways the absence of your presence is what I will miss most. There was always something comforting in knowing that I could always contact you in my hour of need. There was something about the way your steady familiar voice would quiet my fears. I'll miss the warmth and wisdom behind your eyes, miss listening to the carefully chosen words you spoke, miss the way we'd dream about the future while we lay in bed. A future we once believed was attainable for people like us. I could tell I was losing you. It was effortless. And in the blink of an eye the snow stared to fall and the magic was gone.

I know these feelings will subside eventually. Our souls were on two different paths and I hope that one day our worlds collide. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, good things come to an end. And as we said goodbye to one another, outside in the freezing cold, we couldn’t help but linger for a moment after our final embrace. We gazed into one another's eyes knowing this would be the last time. Searching for something. Searching for anything. Speaking the silent language only lovers turned to friends can possibly understand.
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Meet the Yogi: Alexis Novak

Meet Alexis Novak, a talented yogi and world traveler; learn what brought her to her practice, what makes up her daily routine and how she disconnects from the everyday nosies of an "industrial" city.

When did you realize that yoga was something you wanted to pursue?
I tried yoga for the first time when I was fourteen years old. I have been a dancer my entire life, so the movement and poses felt fairly natural and I liked how it was similar to dance.

What kind of yoga do you practice? 
Depending on the day, my personal practice consists of a variety of yoga styles: Restorative, Vinyasa, Sculpt, and Hot Yoga. 

How do you start your mornings? 
I start my mornings with some meditation, coffee, and good music!

What's your favorite sound in nature? 
My favorite sound in nature would probably be the lack of "industrial" sounds in nature. I love the quiet, so being surrounded by only the gentle breeze in the trees or a few bird chirps is calming to me.

What do you love most about your city? 
I love the variety in atmosphere! There truly is a group, stage, place, and restaurant for every walk of life in LA. I would also say I love the passion and drive of the people who live here. It is known for being a cut-throat city, but I feel it's because everyone who lives here has a definitive intention. Most people who live in LA have left their familiar lives and decided to do something unique and very uncertain with their careers! And finally, I love the yoga community (of course!) I have found such a warm and welcoming home within the yoga community in LA. In a very busy and individually driven city, it is so comforting to know that I have a group of like-minded people to connect with and share space with.

What was the last meal that made you smile? 
The last meal that made me smile would be a vegan dinner I had with my boyfriend a few nights ago. I love eating healthy, but sharing meals with people I care about makes any meal special.

Biggest accomplishment? 
This year has been amazing thus far, and I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given. I don't think I can narrow it down to one BIG accomplishment. I would say I am pretty proud that I am able to wake up every morning excited to go to work. I love my fellow teachers and students so much!

Where's your favorite place to unearth buried treasures? 
What a good question! Ha! Bali is a treasure. I would say that I unearthed some internal buried treasures when I went there in May. I am going back in March 2016 to lead a yoga retreat! You should come, it's a magical place!

Quotes or advice to live by? 
There are a lot of great quotes out there. I would probably say it's an original "We are in control of what we let into our bodies and out of our mouths, don't ever forget that you are the source of your own power." We as people are always handed tough times, how we endure them is what makes the difference!

Follow Alexis on Instagram, and take one of her classes if you're in the LA area!
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Solé Bicycle Single Speed Review

I purchased my Solé a few months ago. One look at the mate black finish paired with silver trim alongside deep turquoise wheels, and I knew I had to have the Foamside. You can see the full specs here I had been looking for a commuter and decided to take a chance that this might be the perfect solution for me. When it comes to affordability and bike aesthetics Solé definitely knows what they're doing. I ride about 5 - 10 miles every day, sometimes more when my friends and I go out, so I was willing to take the risk. 

Solé Bicycles was formed in 2009 by some friends and is one of the few companies out there that makes durable yet stylish single speeds and fixes. They're based out of California and have a reputation for producing quality bikes at pretty low prices. 

When my box arrived I was pleasantly surprised that the packaging seemed to do a decent job of protecting the bike. I think one piece was broken in transit but it appeared to be a supporting plastic piece, not something vital to the construction of the bike. There was also a mark on the frame, but it was cosmetic so I wasn't going to ship it all the way back. I quickly started unwrapping so I could put this bad boy together. 

Assembly was pretty painless, the frame feels and looks well made and the wheels were downright breathtaking. I think the only issue I had was needing to tighten the brakes because they were extremely lose. After that everything was good to go. The bike comes mostly assembled, requiring only the attachment of the front wheel, handlebar, seat, and pedals. I'd say it took me 35 - 45 minutes total to completely assemble and thats partly because I was taking my time tightening each piece.

Out on the road, this bike draws attention. The other day I had a kid ride up next to me and eagerly ask if I wanted to trade him bikes, tempting but I declined. The Foamside feels sure-footed. Even on gravel or uneven pavement I don't feel as though I'll slip. Performance is amazing, even on a single speed I can keep up with my friends who are all boosting 12 speeds or higher. It's not super quick and it's not a road bike, it's somewhere in the middle without the claim of being a hybrid. But I don't think it's trying to be either. It's the perfect bike for me since I live in the city and it doesn't hurt that heads turn everywhere you go. The only issues I've had to date have been one of the nuts falling off, but Solé sent me a new one that same week. The reflectors on my pedals also fell off, I mentioned that to customer support as well but they only sent over the nut. Meh. Also, the back tire  valve is a little messed up, sometimes the air will start to come out if I don't have the little silver piece in the right spot. I still haven't figured out what all is going on there, but usually if I wiggle it the right way the valve will close and I'll be able to ride without any problems. Where I live we have a bunch of different air pumps, so it's possible that one of those pumps may have messed up the valve. 

All in all, I love my Solé despite the minor issues. If budget is a concern I suggest doing what I did and waiting to get your Solé on sale. You can get 30% off for President's Day, and I believe they have 2 for 1 specials for Valentines Day. If you're willing to wait, I highly suggest signing up for their newsletter so you can snag a deal. The Foamside is a super smooth ride for my everyday commute and I mean for this price you really can't beat the Solé.
images via jessica alvarenga