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3191 Miles Apart: A Friendship in Photographs

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h1 We try to search out unique and inspired things that resonate with us, that have a story behind them and, in most cases, that are useful.

MAV, 3191 Miles Apart

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Best friends Maria Alexandra Vitesse (MAV) and Stephanie Congdon Barnes (SCB) live exactly 3191 miles apart—in Portland, Maine, and Portland, Oregon, respectively—but they stay in close touch with their weekly side-by-side photography blog. Stephanie is the mother of two, and shares lovely everyday motherhood moments, including whole-wheat chocolate-chip cookies she packed in sack lunches and board games she plays with her kids. MAV lives in a flat that was built in 1891 with her sweetheart and two cats. Together they have created a beautiful space that offers a glimpse into both their lives – and which has become a publishing platform in its own right. They've created books, a quarterly magazine, brand campaigns and even a shop.

Recent additions to the Say 100 parenting channel, we checked in with MAV to find out more about how she works her magic on the site, why you won't find comments there, and her favorite product and design finds for the season.

You started 3191 Miles Apart several years ago. What was your breakout post or thing you did that put your site on the map? Our first project went online in 2007. It was called A Year Of Mornings. I can't be 100 percent sure but I think we were the first people to approach a two-person photography blog in this manner. I think people really responded to that. We were not expecting such a following but were so pleased when people starting following and enjoying. We followed that project with A Year Of Evenings which people enjoyed as well. It was a quiet blog ... just photographs of our daily life. I think people must have liked having a calm place to visit. Both of these projects were then turned into books and again I think we were early in the game on that as well. There were not many online projects being turned into books. It was nice to be at the start of that trend. We both feel proud of where 3191 has come and how it has naturally progressed.

What opportunities has your site opened up for you that wouldn't have happened otherwise? The biggest opportunities are when Stephanie and myself are hired as a team to photograph and direct photography for a campaign or a book. We have done a few such projects. We love working for clients and executing their vision with a bit of ours mixed together. Collaborations are always so fun and rewarding!

You both have a great eye for products and design finds. What is catching your eye this season? I love beautiful and useful things. As with everyone my tastes change quite often and that is what I like about life! Change! Right now here are some favorites ... My favorite notebook is Postalco. My favorite pen is Kaweco Sport. My favorite bowl is Eric Bonnin Sylvia's Oatmeal Bowl. My favorite lace-up boots are Dieppa Restrepo Lupe. My favorite dishtowels are Fog Linen Thick Chambray. My favorite coffee is Tandem Coffee Roasters. My favorite socks are by Alessandra Taccia. My favorite bracelet is the Odette Arrow Cuff.

You don't allow comments on your site which is very unusual. What made you decide to go that route – and what have you found to be the pros and cons? We wanted to continue the tradition of our site being quiet. We like the idea that people can come and visit and have their own personal moments with the content. We like that people need to reach out via email or through the post if they want to talk with us. It seems old fashioned and we think it lends to a more intimate and mindful discussion.

Do you get print letters from readers? Why do most people decide to write? We do! We get a lot of letters from people telling us what recipe they tried or what project they liked. They also might just want to say hi and send well-wishes. We are very grateful. In 2013 we are starting our 3191 Album where we will be able to share photographs from our readers. We are very excited about this. Maybe they made a 3191 recipe or project and they want to share their photo ... well we will have a place full of 3191 imagery but not ours. It will be a nice place of connection for our little community of readers.

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You publish a quarterly print magazine. What did you feel you could do in print that you couldn't do online? We love books! Stephanie and I have a great respect for the printed piece. We wanted our readers to have something they could hold in their hands ... something they could integrate into their lives in a way that something on screen cannot. We are very pleased to share our photography in print because it also is more alive this way! We are careful about our design decisions, about the paper and about where we print (proudly in the USA). And we are so pleased that our readers fund the project. We don't take on advertisers or anyone else's mission but our own. That feels so right to us and we are so proud of where our little 3191 Quarterly has gone. It feels right.

You've got a shop on your site too – what was the inspiration for that and how's it going? In early 2012 we decided it was time to strengthen and build on our believe in well-made, well-loved and well-found goods for our homes, bodies, lives and souls. We both feel passionately about living with minimal "stuff" and making sure that the "stuff" we do indeed choose to purchase is special. We don't buy a lot but instead try to search out unique and inspired things that resonate with us, that have a story behind them and, in most cases, that are useful. This concept is important to us, and always has been, so we thought it was time to bring our idea of "well-made, well-loved and well-found" to our friends and longtime fans. All of the goods in our new shop are handmade by, designed by and/or curated by our team at 3191 Miles Apart. We will offer several collections, varying in theme and content, each year. We have absolutely loved having the shop and have some fun surprises coming in 2013.

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How do you like to work with advertisers or brands? We don't take on advertisers of any kind on our site or in 3191 Quarterly. We prefer to tell our readers about products we find and love on our own. As for brands ... we are happy to collaborate with brands if they hire us to photograph/direct campaigns. We have worked together in the past for Starbucks in this manner. It was a blast!

Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo calls 3191 Miles one of her favorite sites for parents. What are yours? Jo is such a supporter of 3191 and we appreciate it so much! We are very happy to welcome everyone to our website parents or otherwise. I have two nephews and adore working on projects and creative play with them. It's awesome to have a space in which to share those adventures. A few blogs I like include Unruly Things,Le Traine Phantome, Le Dans La,101 Cookbooks, and >O<.

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What's something your readers would be surprised to learn about you? Well I have a big blond streak right in the middle of my otherwise dark brown hair. I think the readers think I dye my hair. I think a lot of people in my life think I dye my hair. But I'm here to tell you that I've had this blond streak since birth! It's my birth mark. I'll run into friends around town and they will say, "Oh I see you've touched up your blond" or "Oh you dyed your hair!" and I have to tell them again and again, it's natural! In the summer I get very blond. Wild! When I was little and my mom used to take me places she'd get dirty looks from mothers who thought she bleached my hair at a young age! :)

Follow MAV and SCB on Twitter @3191MilesApart.

[All photos 3191 Miles Apart]

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