Friday, July 30, 2010

Beauty/Fashion: Why do I care?

Why is it that we are all so vain? Part of me hates the part of me that cares about how I look. Part of me hates the part of me that decides not to do my hair or makeup, and just go au naturale.

Let's discuss. Most days, I decide to let my hair air-dry, I forgo all makeup and I wear what feels comfortable and yet appealing. I frankly hate having to get ready- because getting ready means not only buying in to the idea that in order to be beautiful one must be mainstream, but also because it is a pain in the ass. So, for years, while friends and co-workers don their 30-minute to an hour's worth of product, I generally opted for some lip gloss and a coat of mascara. While people spent their mornings trying on various outfits I put on whatever felt right. If you ask my college roommates they would tell you that would mean a pair of ripped jeans, my favorite O.A.R. t-shirt, and flip-flops. Flip flops, in fact were worn even in the winters of North-western Pennsylvania, unless there was snow-- but I digress. Even today, I tend to go for comfortable clothing over form-fitting va-va-voom outfits.

There have been, especially more recently, times in my life when I did give a damn about my appearance. Most formal occasions, for example. On holidays and weddings, my sister is delegated to putting on my makeup, an arduous task, because I frankly look like a monkey when it comes to putting on my own face, and she is generally embarrassed of my attempts (think:tons of various blushes, concealers and moisturizers open, as I shakily put eyeliner everywhere on my eyelid but the proper place). So, I stick to my mascara and lip gloss, but stare at counters fully of beautifully packaged beauty products longingly and wonder if I can be taught to put it on. . . Then I suddenly feel silly- why do I need all that gook?

Admittedly, once I graduated from college and got out in the real world- I had a bit of money and began to pay attention to fashion- I liked looking polished and a bit more put together, and then I liked following fashion even more closely, and now it has hit an apex, wherein I spend hours staring at the latest new thing, read my Vogue hungrily, and lean close to the point of self-destruction when I realize I do not have the money to buy half of the crap I long to have. Just now, I spent an hour online staring at the new Fall Fashion Trends for this year on and added about 50 unnecessary items to my wish list. What has happened to me?

Now, I think maybe I'm being a little bit hard on myself: Is it bad for me to want to look good, to take an interest in my appearance? no. Does it mean I think that appearances are all that matters? no. Do I judge others on their appearance? no, not really, unless I meet them in a dark alley I don't tend to make snap judgments about people. Can someone be independent, free-thinking, and feminist-leaning and still care about their appearance? I think so. Or is it that I am being beaten-down by all the media hype as to who I should be and what I should care about, making me really not as independent, free-thinking and feminist-leaning as I thought? mm, I hope not.

There, now I feel better. Sort of.

In any case, all this really started rolling around in my head after I read this interesting article from The New York Times on French Women's Secrets to Aging Well- and then wondering what really drew me to the article i.e. Why am I worried about aging when I am in my late 20's? Should I really care this much now? At least the French may have it right- age gracefully, proudly showing your age but maintaining Style and Dignity.

Comments? Questions? Concerns?

P.S. What do you think of this romper? Too Much?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose. . .

If you couldn't guess by the title of today's Post- According to this handy-dandy writing analyzer, I write like Gertrude Stein!

I write like
Gertrude Stein

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I can only wish to write like the lovely, indelible, Ms. Stein. Stein is an idol of mine for her part in American/ex-patriot and feminist writing. An American writer who spent most of her life in France, Stein was a catalyst in the development of modern art and literature.

I, like Stein, am preferential to the stream-of-conscious writing, unfortunately, I have a feeling that though the above website claims to look at your style and diction, I'm sure it either auto-generates something flattering or looks at your main theme- or something equally profound- and throws out an author with similar leanings.

((Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in Paris- courtesy of Yale archives))

Regardless- have fun seeing who you write like, and report back.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I want to Bring some Color into My Life

Those who know me know my outfits are very rarely colorful. For some reason, I stray from anything which is not an earth-tone, black, or white. This also tends to be my style when it comes to decorating a room as well- mossy greens, deep reds, browns and blues are the only colors present in the home the Boy and I now share.

HOWEVER- something this summer has sent me over the edge- color, I mean, really, in-your face color. Lime Green. Electric Yellow. Turquoise. Slowly but surely, my closet is beginning to look more like a brilliant rainbow than a depressing landscape. (Although I did buy another black dress last night- but one can never have too many little black dresses- right?)

So, in honor of my new obsession, here are some items which will allow Color into all our lives:

"Instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I see before me, I make more arbitary use of colour to express myself more forcefully ... To express the love of two lovers by the marriage of two complementary colours ... To express the thought of a brow by the radiance of a light tone against a dark background. To express hope by some star. Someone's passion by the radiance of the setting sun."
Vincent van Gogh, 1888.

"Colour helps to express light, not the physical phenomenon, but the only light that really exists, that in the artist's brain."
Henri Matisse, 1945

"The craving for colour is a natural necessity just as for water and fire. Colour is a raw material indispensable to life. At every era of his existence and his history, the human being has associated colour with his joys, his actions and his pleasures."
-- Frenand Leger, "On Monumentality and Color", 1943.

((in order of appearance: Penguin Cloth-bound books, Sebastiaan Bemer acrylics on print, pillows from seesaw, Brandi Strickland mixed media, and vintage cushions from Seesaw Vintage, modern chartreuse clock from Uncommon ))

Monday, July 26, 2010

Vintage Color Block

I am absolutely in love with this outfit! I definitely feel as though I need to begin to incorporate some vintage into my life, especially when I see gorgeous outfits which allow both the vintage piece and all of the accessories shine. YUM.

Giovanna Battaglia in Vintage

((photo courtesy of Jak & Jill Blog))

Friday, July 23, 2010


Last Tuesday I walked into a cafe in a town I had never been to,(two hours from my home-town), just killing time while the Boy played in a practice round-- and I ran into my best friend from middle school.

The next two hours, as you might imagine, were filled with stories, gossip from back home, exclamations and explanations. We caught up and reminisced and it was as enjoyable as it was surprising.

The next day we spent the morning and the better part of an afternoon together driving around the (beautiful) surrounding area searching for all things fabulous and unique at various antique malls-- and more importantly we were getting to know each other all over again.

The experience was utterly amazing for me. I am so happy to have found my long-lost friend to be so free-spirited, independent and successful.

((me, melissa and sarah- @ the 9th grade dance))

It was funny to think about how much has changed and refreshing find how simple and familiar we still were. I think both of us were pleasantly surprised with how easy it was for us to reconnect, and how invigorating it was to spend time together.

As I drove home from her house, I could not help but to smile at the thought of all the things I had not said- all the things I still had to share. I forgot to confess, for example, that I have finally (after years of trial and error) managed to perfect her mother's tuna fish sandwich (a perfect tuna-to pickle ratio has thankfully been found). Nor did I think to point out how grown-up we were since last being face-to face- here we were talking about dinner parties and cookware,(admittedly we did still talk about men). The two of us must have exchanged scores of notes and - perhaps as a reflection of our constant communique- we are both pursuing writing careers. It's amazing to see how far we have come, and yet how true to ourselves we stayed.

I could not help but to smile today, both at the memory of our pranks as teenagers and our recent run-in with each other.

So, here is what I have to say about Friendship:
Friendship is patient. It waxes and wanes. It is as quiet as a spoon stirring the leaves in a teacup and it is loud like fireworks on the Forth of July. It is resilient.

((kathleen, kimmy, myself, and heidi @OCMD-Senior Week)

Even when you least expect it, when you aren't even aware you need it, friendship finds you.

Thank goodness for friends; both found and waiting in the wings, past, present and future.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Accomplishments today= 0

Yesterday, I was kicking a** and taking names- cleaning the house, going to the bank, planning out my life, getting a bunch of writing done. . . And then today hit. Yes, I did still wake up at 5:00 a.m. and got my work-out on, but outside of that I haven't accomplished a single thing. Well, I did take a shower. And I have fed myself. But other than that I have been staring at the internet. Which reminded me of my favorite blog, Hyperbole and a Half, and one of her more hilarious/sad but true posts.

She just, gets me.

Did you look? Do you love it? Is any body else having a hard time getting started today?

Monday, July 19, 2010

A new Take on an A-Frame

While browsing through some Architecture Blogs, I found this off-beat A-Frame, called the Allandale House, set in the woods. What a wonderful, natural-yet-hip setting. I feel as though loads of creativity would pour out of your soul while spending time in this house!

I am usually not one for minimalist decor- but the fact that the items on the shelves are the only color throughout makes the house seem even brighter- plus the large windows let nature be the main focus. What do you think?

((photos courtesy of

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sleepy Saturday . . .

Sorry I have not posted in so long! I have been traveling around the tri-state area, and therefore unable to post consistently. . . I promise I will post something new and more creative soon, but as for right now, I just want to give you something to look at for the rest of this sleepy weekend.

I am officially in love with this wallpaper idea from Sweden!I don't know how practical it is, but the wallpaper certainly is dreamy, isn't it? Although the website I found this product on shows it in a breakfast nook (where it certainly shines), the flower-ed wallpaper would look great in a library, where the other three wall are ceiling to floor bookshelves. Don't you think? Can't you just imagine how wonderful and bright it would feel in any room with this wallpaper in it?! What room in your house/apartment would you put it in?
((photo from Front Projects))

I will settle for fresh flowers surrounding me. . . As you all know, fresh flowers are one of my favorite things. And if I had the money and the choice, I would get weekly arrangements from Siapua, whose arrangements are just so natural! I feel like each of her arrangements looks as if they were snipped from an immaculate garden and arranged by a master such as herself, with simplicity and nature in mind.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


So, The Boy and I are currently on the cusp of vegetarianism.

We have been doing our best to eat both locally and organically since even before we were going out, but recently The Boy felt as though being a vegetarian was the next step.

Frankly, I was scared I would miss meat. Sorry to all you vegetarians out there, but I loved me some steak, chicken was my stand-by, and pork products were heaven. Fish was only on occasion and a fully vegetarian meal meant pasta.

Then, I started talking to my cousin who is vegetarian, and she was able to siphon off some recipes on the spot which she loved. Next, I read Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals- which I reviewed for y'all about a month ago. After reading his novel, I began to realize that vegetarianism is not just a "animal rights" issue- eating animals (conventional animals, especially) creates an environmental impact as well: communities, human health, animal health, and more.

In short, things started falling into place and The Boy and I are now making a conscious effort to eat vegetarian about 4 or 5 days out of the week. It isn't a lot but it is something. And usually, those other two or three days, we are eating fish. Chicken is now a treat- only occurring once a week (if that) , and beef and pork are almost unheard of in our diet.

And, I have to admit: I Don't Miss Meat. I love Vegetables. I feel as though I have more energy, I feel healthier, more alert and I have been loosing weight with speed.

One more admission: I love finding new vegetarian recipes,making dinner for friends and family who are not expecting a vegetarian meal (tell someone who eats meat the meal you will be preparing is vegetarian and they assume they will be eating rabbit food)- and everyone ends up LOVING it.

I feel like I am converting people every day.

In any case, so today I will share with you one of my favorite quick and easy vegetarian meals:


1 cup cooked organic black beans
1/2 cup prepared organic salsa
2 cloves of organic garlic, minced
2.5 tsp. ground organic cumin, divided
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup frozen organic corn kernels, thawed.
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4 6-inch whole-wheat tortillas (Whole Foods carries a 365 brand)
12 organic baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup jarred organic roasted red pepper strips
1/4 cup coarsely chopped organic cilantro
2 small organic green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese (optional)

1. Bring beans, salsa, garlic, and 1 tsp. cumin to a simmer in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to medium low, and cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until soft.

2. Heat skillet over medium-high heat, and coat with olive oil cooking spray. Wrap corn in paper towels, and squeeze out excess water. Add corn to skillet in a single layer, then sprinkle the remaining 1.5 tsp. of cumin, as well as the black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste. Cook 5 or 10 minutes, or until golden and crispy, stirring frequently.

3. Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 350. Toast the tortillas for one minute to soften. Fill each tortilla with 1/4 beans, 1/4 cup corn, 4 spinach leaves, red pepper strips, cilantro, and green onions. Top each taco with cheese, if using.

((per serving -2 tacos- 362 calories, 14G protein, 4G total fat, 74G carbs,, 0 MG Cholesterol, 904MG Sodium, 14G Fiber, 9G sugars))

This recipe & picture are courtesy of Vegetarian Times.

Monday, July 12, 2010

These are a few of my Favorite Things

When the dog bites. . .
When the bee stings. . .
When I'm feeling sad-
I simply remember my favorite things- and then I don't feel
So bad!

Sorry, I had to type out the song, it was irrepressible. But, in all seriousness, here are a few things that I can't get enough of:

1.) Brown Paper Packages tied up with string. I'm not kidding. Ever since I was little I have loved receiving simple paper packages. I think it's the sturdiness of the paper, I don't know, it just makes my heart sing!

2.) Penguin cloth-bound classic novels- bibliophile or not, I think everyone can appreciate the style of these books. They make the perfect addition to any collection of books, and would even work great as a centerpieces for wedding tables. Check them out!

3.) Vintage Books- I love the process of finding books- rummaging through boxes at yard sales, staring at shelves in Rare and Used Book stores- hunting for something which complements your style and fills a spot on your bookshelf.

4.) Fresh Flowers. Pretty much any type of flower makes me happy, but my four favorites would be anemones, peonies, star-gazer lilies and sunflowers. My dream is to have every room of my house filled with flowers. Right now I only have two small vases in our living room and main bathroom- but one day, my flowers will take over the house!

5.) Vintage Pyrex. I love it. It's colorful, and the patterns are precious! If I had more room in my kitchen I would have bowls in every color. For now, I am focusing on a collection of turquoise. Go and get yours on Etsy!

6.) Speaking of Etsy. . . I love it! If you haven't been using it, then you should start. Etsy is a website where you can buy and sell anything hand-made or vintage. i.e. go here for everything from baked goods to artwork, from vintage books to one-of-a-kind clothing. Check out my favorite seller, SadieOlive - and the vintage book collection I am drooling over!

7.) MODERN HOUSES. I want to eat them up. My new obsession is the magazine Dwell- which covers modern residential architectural design, and takes a green approach to all it does. One the houses I am currently drawn to is the Fish House in Japan (view more pictures here).

((picture compliments of Guz Architects))

8.) Farmer's Markets. They are are a great resource for local, organic and fresh foods, and a great way to support your community. Find one nearest you!

What are some of your favorite things?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Making a Good Brain Great ((review))

Making a Good Brain Great, by Dr. Daniel G. Amen, M.D. was, quiet frankly, a book which was thrust upon me by my boy. At first, I thought perhaps he was becoming a bit neurotic- for the book reads as a bit of a self-help, and the back and front covers splash a claim that within fifteen days you too can have a better brain.

"Trust me," said the boy, so I did.

It helps that Dr. Amen is a clinical nueroscientist, psychologist, and brain-imaging expert, who leads a world-renowned clinic for this sort of thing. With all of those credentials and one easy message, the book became an engrossing and eye-opening read. What was that main principle? Your brain is involved in everything you do- so treat it right.

Amen has a quite a few main ideas, which he illustrates very clearly:
Recognize Stress Can Make You Sick
Amen says that stress hormones kill brain cells in the memory center and cause serious trouble for the body. Just realizing that and deciding to work on reducing stress is a good step.

Get Enough Sleep

"As a species we have not evolved to need less sleep," says Amen. "Six hours isn't enough. We really need nine hours of sleep and almost no one gets that much." Sleep deprivation is very harmful to the brain.

Exercise Regularly
Amen says that regular exercise boosts hormones that keep your brain young. And, there are studies that show that exercise increases the circulation to the brain that promotes cell health.

In his book, Amen calls table tennis the best brain sport. It improves hand-eye coordination. It's aerobic, uses both upper and lower body and causes you to use many different areas of the brain to function.
Amen also speaks out against sports which may cause brain injury. Another main principle of his is this: Your brain is very soft, housed in a very hard skull—injuries can change your life. So, sports like football, hockey, and soccer, and even snowboarding and skiing (where your head is most likely to slam into another object) are even more dangerous than one might think. “As a society,” says Amen, “we have no respect for physical fragility of the brain.” So, the next time you are about to play a contact-sport you might want to think twice.

Avoid Substances Which Stress The Brain

The chief offenders in this category are caffeine and nicotine, drugs and alcohol. These substances actually decrease the blood flow in the brain, which is damaging and can cause premature aging.
Dr. Amen includes side-by-side brain scans in most of his chapters, but none are as chilling as those in his chapter in which he speaks out against substance abuse. Show your child these images, and they will never laid a finger on drugs of any sort.

Take Supplements

In Chapter Five of Making a Good Brain Great, Dr. Amen provides a quiz which will give a complete picture of your brain health (as complete as you can get out of a generalized quiz, that is). After taking the quiz you will find what areas of the brain might be problems. One quick fix to many of these issue is supplements.

There are lots of things you could take, but Amen wants to keep this simple. He says that there is research that shows that Omega 3 (fish oil) and a good multiple vitamin promote brain health. Brain health, he says, can also be regulated by a healthier diet, rich in proteins and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Develop Internal ANT-Eater

Dr. Amen calls ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) stressors for the brain. These are the daily, automatic negative thoughts that go through your head in the day. "Whenever you feel sad, mad or nervous, you need to write out what you are thinking. Look at them," he says. "Are they reasonable or are they torturing you unnecessarily? And then you talk back to them. You don't have to believe every thought you have. Thoughts can lie. Correcting them will go a long way to treating depression and anxiety."

If you feel a little frazzled at the end of the day, misplace your keys, have a short attention span during discussions, or seem to get stuck in negative thoughts or behaviors-- Making a Good Brain Great is an interesting book, which you will find pivotal in your search for a cure.

In fact, you will find yourself spouting off to friends what supplements they should be taking, and what risky factors they might want to stay away from to keep their brains young and fit.

If you think I sound a bit neurotic, what my regimented exercise and supplement popping- then I suggest you read a copy of Making a Good Brain Great anyway, just so I can prove you wrong :)

(photo compliments of The Mind Perspective)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Net-a-Porter!

I suppose now is as good of a time as any to let you in on my obsession. . . Net a Porter has been, for the past 2 years, my personal playground in fashion. Although I can't always afford everything they have to offer, Net-A-Porter is a great resource for the fashion forward to learn new trends, find fashion basics and learn new and exciting designers-- and of course to buy fashionable frocks.

Designers range from the late Alexander McQueen to Burberry, from Versace to Theory, and everything in between.

Do you need another great reason to check out Net-a-Porter? Well, I can give it to you. The face behind the name of this wonderful company is a creative, inventive and determined Natalie Massenet. Natalie is the founder and Chairman on the world's premier luxury fashion retailer, Net-a-Porter. Massenet graduated from UCLA with a bachelor's degree in English Literature and a passion for fashion- it wasn't log before she was writing fashion columns and testing entrepreneurial ideas. Net-a-Porter started out in 2000 with a handful of employees in a small flat, but boy has it grown!

Now, Net-a-Porter is referred to as the "barometer of fashion" by the Financial Times and is credited by Vogue as "revolutionizing the way we buy designer clothes." Natalie Massenet was able to do all this by living her life via a simple quote: "The best way to predict the future is to create it." (Abraham Lincoln)

So- go celebrate one woman's dream coming true- Go stare at couture or shop for some basics. Find a few key pieces to enhance your wardrobe with- or even just go looking for inspiration.

And, by the way- it's their 10th anniversary

And, if you are afraid to browse around Net-a-Porter, then take a look at their sister site, another brain-child of Natalie Massenet- a fashion outlet dubbed the Out-Net.

Last but not least- keep your eye out for Ms. Massenet's latest and greatest website- Mr. Porter- exclusively for men, which is due out soon.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy 4th of July Weekend!

Hey y'all, I hope everyone is ready to enjoy a beautiful Holiday weekend!

I am sure you will all be paying visits to Family and Friends; enjoying long summer days filled with sunlight and staying up well into twinkling summer nights, trying to squeeze every moment out of life. Remember what it is like to be young again, and hold tightly to those who help you remember who you were as well as who you are. Life is too short to stop having fun!

Not only is the 4th a time to catch-up with Family and have fun with friends, but is also a time to remember we are commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain! Be thankful to be in America, the land of opportunity, and be thankful for all of those men and women, past and present, who solidify that freedom.

Have a happy and safe holiday weekend!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Picnic Perfect

Again all I have is the weekend on my mind! Thankfully I will be spending this holiday with friends and family-- and taking in a lot of the great outdoors.

I think that almost everyone will be attending a cook-out or picnic of some sort this weekend- so I decided to do some fussing around on Polyvore again, to create some inspiration for the perfect, romantic picnic - from blanket to bubbly.