Zoë: Mazama Wares Mug
My boyfriend and I are total coffee nerds and my family makes fun of us for it. The coffee shops we go to are the kind where the baristas glare at my dad for asking for half-and-half. My sister got me this fancy mug for my fancy coffee birthday this year for my birthday. It’s handmade with natural materials and I think it’s really well done. I use it every day!
Zoë: Grandpa’s film camera
My grandpa bought this camera in 1980 and has taken it all over the world. I’ve been learning to use it myself but am a total amateur and am definitely not doing the camera justice. He and my grandma were the classiest couple out there and traveled all over. My grandpa today is 96 and so full of life – he always ends up floating into my conversations because I have a ton to say about him. We’re always losing him at restaurants because he wants to talk to everyone in the room, even if they are comfortably sitting and enjoying meals with their families, and they all love him. If you’re looking for some good stories, get in touch with this Westchester Senior Citizen Hall of Famer – he’d love to chat.
Zoë: “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace
This book is basically my life philosophy. It’s really rare to read something and think, “this changes everything” but this book did that. It’s actually a graduation speech that the late David Foster Wallace gave at Kenyon College in 2005. I reference it so much that it’s been gifted to me twice, which I think is awesome. It’s not fair to summarize the whole thing into a sentence but if I had to take a stab, it’s about your relationship with the world and people around you and keeping your perspective in check. I found this book in a time where I super needed it, and actually based my one and only tattoo off of it. I also wrote about it in a Medium article that actually still makes me kind of nervous. https://medium.com/i-m-h-o/thinking-about-what-everyone-else-is-thinking-6cab21bc0010#.bnz1dokt4
Zoë: Vintage gold accented cups from my parents
My parents live in Upstate NY and I hate feeling so far away from them in the Midwest. They come to visit every summer, and last time they were here they bought me some vintage glassware that I fell in love with while we all went window-shopping. They wanted something in my apartment that made me think of them. Since then, they found some similar-looking glasses and bowls on the East Coast and carefully shipped them to me to start a small collection. They’re always going above-and-beyond for me. I think it’s really cool how much a gift like that can mean to someone.
Zoë: “I Wonder” by Marian Banjes
This book is pure creativity. It’s a journal/manifesto/design inspiration book. Marian is a typographer, illustrator and letterer, and she combines all of that into one story. I love the fluidity of it and really relate to that her stream-of-consciousness style. I look to this book when I feel stuck or just to feel in awe of something.
Zoë: Opal ring
Growing up in the bad part of Brooklyn, my mom’s best friend saved up for a while to buy my mom a nice present like this ring. Eventually she stopped wearing it and gave it to me – it’s been on my same hand since I was 13. My mom and Ronee were best friends since age 12 and went through everything side-by-side; puberty, marriages, divorce, kids, vacations, and eventually Ronee’s battle with cancer – it still chokes me up to think about it. My mom has had a really rough time since we lost her a couple years ago, nothing’s ever totally been the same. It feels important that I’m still wearing it today. It’s pretty amazing how a material object can hold so much meaning.
I love everything about frisbee. It can be fun for anyone, but mastering it takes lots of practice. You can take it–and play it–just about anywhere, and it can also be a fantastic workout. It’s also one of those things that kind of brings people together. Go throw a frisbee in the park…I bet someone who walks by will want to jump in and toss a few.
I’ve had this ‘bee for years, and it’s been played by most of my favorite people in most of my favorite places.
Pick your favorite color, but be sure to get one that’s 175 grams.
Joe: “Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Every summer I visit my sister in a remote part of Vermont–no cell phone, TV, or internet. It’s amazing. In 2004, I stopped at a used book store in the tiny town of Lancaster, NH and picked up a few books, including Cat’s Cradle. I paid $1.95 and read it for the first time. It’s a gem of creativity. I reread it nearly every summer in Vermont, and I enjoy it more with each read.
Joe: “On Fire” by Francis Mallmann
At the risk of sounding like a caveman, this book represents my love of fire–and was a lot easier than bringing my grill to the office. I love cooking with fire, but also simply being around it. It mesmerizes me.
I actually just looked up the definition of “mesmerizes” after writing this and it is absolutely spot on: hold the attention of (someone) to the exclusion of all else or so as to transfix them. This is exactly what fire does to me consistently and without fail.
Francis Mallmann is probably the coolest guy on earth and his approach to cooking is really inspiring, but the best thing about this book is that it was a gift from my fiance, Sara. We’re getting married in April, and I just feel really damn lucky about that.
If you’re sufficiently particular about what you drink, you might find the need for a flask. I have two. Each of these was a gift–one from a great friend, Jon, before I left New York for my travels; the other was a birthday gift from Zoë (inscribed with our internal #overcome motto).
One is for rye whiskey (Bulleit, most likely, but my chef friend Pat recently turned me on to Basil Hayden’s) and the other is for tequila (almost certainly Partida).
I took this backpack with me while traveling around the world in 2010. It’s been with me for adventures on six continents, and is still in fantastic shape. A little scuffed, maybe, but never the worse for wear.
I still use it for hikes today, and it’s always in my Jeep filled with emergency supplies. If it can keep my Macbook Pro safe while driving through Uganda, it can handle just about anything.
Joe: BLUNT Umbrella
My thoughts on umbrellas were shaped when I lived in New York, and are quite simple: own a good one, and have it with you when it rains. For downpours, there is no substitute for a good umbrella, and it should be big enough to actually keep you dry.
Blunt makes really good umbrellas. They didn’t invent them, but they made a few really powerful design tweaks, and manufactured them to perform.