a blog by jennifer cho salaff

Friday, March 6, 2015

Caden's rap (Happy Friday!)

Fun links from around the web. (Cup of Jo)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

On living alone

Have you ever lived alone?

If so, what was your experience like? Did you enjoy it? Was it lonely or did you like being alone? 

I started listening to this great podcast called Death, Sex & Money and there's an episode about living alone that got me thinking about my 20s in Los Angeles.

I was 23 when I moved from Berkeley to Los Angeles. I was fresh out of college and starting my first job in the "real world." I was thrilled about starting my career, making my own money and having my very own place. I was lucky to find an affordable one-bedroom apartment that also happened to be charming and clean.

Oh my, how I loved that apartment.

There are perks to living alone: decorating every room exactly the way you want; eating whatever you want whenever you want and letting the dishes pile up (or in my case, indulging my inner neat freak). But the best part of living alone was cranking up the gangsta rap REALLY LOUD on my stereo and dancing in my underwear.

Like many 20-somethings I loved going out. My girlfriends and I would often spend Friday nights at clubs or shows, Saturdays shopping and exploring LA, and Sundays meeting for brunch. But even for an extrovert, I was thankful to have a space where I could decompress. It was quiet inside my apartment (when I wasn't playing the gansta rap). I savored the silence. I also learned something important about myself: I really enjoy being alone.

A few years later, to be closer to a new job, I moved to a less affordable part of town and shared an apartment with a roommate. Then I went to grad school (two roommates), moved back in with my parents (to save up for my wedding), got married and had kids. 

Something about motherhood that's always been difficult for me to reconcile is the fact that you're never alone. Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with my kids. But wanting alone time is pretty normal when you've got little ones making demands and needing attention and crawling all over you (even your body is not your own anymore). It's why you always see moms drinking copious amounts of coffee or clutching a bottle of wine. That latté or glass of merlot can really give a person head space.

Virginia Woolf was really on to something when she said a woman must have money and a room of her own. Though she was referring to writing fiction and having a career -- and ultimately establishing a legacy -- I think you can apply the same thinking to motherhood. Give a mother some "alone time" (a quiet bath, a manicure, a solo excursion to Target-- you get the idea) and you've got one happy woman.          

Click here to listen to the Death, Sex & Money episode, "Living Alone and Liking It. Sometimes."     

Bedroom in Arles by Vincent Van Gogh (c. Sept 1889)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The perfect purple pout

I'm happy to report that I've found the perfect purple lip color!! I use double exclamation points because I've been on the hunt for quite some time and yesterday I hit the jackpot. 

This matte lipstick from MAC is bold but not overpowering and is the most lovely shade of violet meets lavender. And what's not to love about its badass name? (Heroine.)

Kisses, -j. 

The power of makeup.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Abode: Hudson home tour

Amy Pouliot with the newest member of her family, Baroness Bonnie Bedelia. 
Photos © Hilary Bovay

My friend Amy has one of those "magazine homes." You know, the kind you might see in publications like Dwell or Domino or House Beautiful. I could spend hours (and I have!) roaming from room to room gazing at paintings, getting lost in coffee table books and dreaming up recipes while sitting in her immaculate kitchen. 

There are so many gorgeous things to appreciate inside Amy's Hudson, Ohio house. But the best thing about her place is all the stories. I was struck with how nearly every object had a tale to tell: the stuffed pheasant (affectionately named Colonel Mustard and a gift from her niece, Tirzah); her Royal Doulton figurine collection (inherited from her grandmother, Nelly); a Paul Newman watercolor (an 18th birthday present Amy gave her daughter, Jael).

I'm excited that Amy is going to share these stories with you-- her favorite room, why she loves art, decorating tips, and what she wants you to feel when you walk into her home. 

Thank you Amy, for opening up your home and being love, -j.'s very first Abode story! 


Me (JCS): There are so many amazing rooms in your house! Tell me about your favorite one.
Amy Pouliot (AP): The sunroom is my favorite. It has a beautiful view of the woods behind our home and it's perfectly set up for conversation. It’s where my husband, John, and I have coffee together. I chose the chairs, sofa and the wallpaper for the room before we moved in. Wallpaper can be over-powering, expensive and a huge regret. But I love it more and more. The rug was a “mistake”—purchased on eBay for another room (it's perfect in here!). This room has taught me: #1 it's important to consider what you want to use the room for and #2 sometimes less really is more if they’re things you adore.

JCS: Speaking of your sunroom, I love the chalk drawing above the cocktail tray table. Who is this mystery woman?
AP:  My grandmother, Nelly, had it done at a fair or amusement park and it was taped to the wall in her office/sunroom. Nelly surrounded herself with beautiful things. She would take her grandchildren to the club to swim or golf, taught us to play gin rummy and always made Jell-O when we came to visit. But my dad's mother never brought to mind any of the traditional characteristics of a mother or grandmother. She had a dark, mean streak and seemed to long for a more extravagant life. Her lack of warmth and maternal instincts made her tough to understand for a long time. Recently I was able to appreciate her for who she was and to focus on the happiest memories. I also realized her sense of fashion and home décor were unique, inspiring and educational to me. I shared this epiphany with my sister and she gave the chalk drawing to me. I had it framed immediately.

JCS: What is your favorite item in the house?
AP:  I struggled choosing a favorite item. This question might be too hard! I think the best things are beautiful and have a story behind them: the shelves in my office (built by my grandfather and that lived first with my brother after our Pap died) fit like they were built for the wall; my secretary in the dining room was bought by my husband for our anniversary (the gift that my now 23, then 5-year-old, son couldn’t keep a secret); the teak credenza was won on an auction and picked up via road trip with my sister; the marble top chest that we didn’t “need” and wasn’t in our budget at the time. I do really, really love the reddish-pink antique runner in the hallway. If the house was on fire and I could only grab one thing—that would be it.

JCS: Tell me about the overall vibe of your home. How would you describe the décor?
AP: I would love someone to describe the décor to me! Eclectic is a cop-out. I think everyone is eclectic to a certain degree. I tend to love things that are more traditional but I incorporate the current trends. I enjoy the mid-century modern look but not too modern and definitely not the streamlined/Scandinavian versions. I have a few antique pieces and pieces I call "Federal" (does anyone use that in décor anymore?). I like to think it's big-city-townhouse/traditional family.

JCS: What do you want people to feel or notice when they step foot into your house?
AP: I love fashion and interior design. I love family and friends hanging out, eating good food, watching a football game. I want people to walk into my home and see that I am passionate about all these things; to think it's beautiful and unique but also warm and comfortable.

JCS: One thing I noticed right away when I was in your home is all the great art you have collected over the years. How do you choose your art?
AP: Technically I could come up with a list of things that are important when choosing art. Really all that matters is how it makes you feel.  How do you explain the feeling of being drawn to something? That is art. The mood, feelings, memories it conjures when you look at it.  

JCS: Tell us about some of the art in your house.
AP: "Miss Pierce" is the name on the back of the painting in the dining room. I purchased her at an estate sale of this woman with a large, flamboyant Miss Haversham-type mansion. I was a mother of two boys under the age of four and my husband was working full-time and finishing college at night. I had no business being there but I imaged my own grand house one day. I loved Miss Pierce's simple face and elegant green dress. But she terrified my boys. They, and their sister a short time later, and for almost 19 years since, swear her eyes follow you!

"Show Me Your Eyes" (over the couch in my office) is a print by Zoe Pawlak. Her work is currently popping up in many home tours, magazines and on-line publications. When I was little, I used to put my fingers around my eyes just like that and try to scare my mom. I would use a ghostly voice and chase her saying, "Yellow-pinkie, yellooooow-pinkie!" I love it because it's beautiful and evokes so much in me. 

"The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet" was inherited by my husband from his godmother and godfather. We don't really know how old it is or if the print is numbered. The original painting is in the collection of the US Senate. It could just be an inexpensive print in an old frame. It is special to us and fun to fantasize about its mysterious (and most likely humble) past. 

JCS: Where do you shop? Do you have your go-to/favorite places?
AP: I have made a few purchases on eBay and Craigslist. I have found some treasures hidden in antique stores, garage and estate sales. Most of my seating (couches and chairs) are new and were purchased at Arhaus and Anthropologie. Some of my favorite pieces came from sales from my friend, Colleen Locke. She recently moved to Nashville so I get inspired by her blog. West Elm, Crate & Barrel and CB2 have some interesting pieces that mix well with other items. Sites like 1st Dibs, One Kings Lane and Chairish are great resources, too.

JCS: Decorating advice?
AP: An often-repeated piece of advice is that a home shouldn't be decorated all at once. Items should reflect your life and travels and history. I have been able to do this, not because I am patient of have great vision. It's simply because I have been gathering and editing pieces for a long time (25 years!). I love to "clash"-- feminine/masculine, old/new, expensive/inexpensive, formal/modern. The mix keeps things interesting and current. It's important to know what you like. Look at the things that make you do a double take.What is it that drew you to "heart" or pin something or tear out a page?

JCS: One last question. What makes a house a home?
AP: This house is the best expression of me and the things I'm passionate about than any house I've ever lived in. It's the first time I felt confident to do the things I wanted, in decorating and in other areas of my life. I feel at home because I am more myself here than I have ever been. This quote by Coco Chanel puts it the best, "It's not houses I love, it's the life I live in them."

Photos by Hilary Bovay for love, -j.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Week in review

What you may have missed this week: backstage with the models of J.Crew, Banksy's cute Gaza kitten and why Benedict Cumberbatch is the best husband ever (besides mine, of course). 

Have a happy weekend!

love, -j.


Banksy's Gaza Kitten is shaming your internet habits. (Vulture)

A different take on Patricia Arquette's "equal pay" Oscar speech. (Motherlode/NYT)

Madonna takes a major fall during her performance at the Brit Awards but, being the pro she is, kept on going.  

Christina Aguilera does spot-on Cher, Shakira and Britney Spears (my favorite!) impressions. (The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)

Backstage at J.Crew during NYFW. (Cup of Jo)

Lipstick tricks for dummies. (Cupcakes & Cashmere)

Easy crockpot recipes a la Gwyneth Paltrow. (Goop)

Niagara Falls turns into a frozen rainbow. (Huffington Post Canada)

Watch these Louisville school children rock out to Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir." (Laughing Squid)

Why we love Benedict Cumberbatch. (BuzzFeed)

[In and around Cleveland:]

Heinen's in now open in downtown Cleveland. Yay! (WKYC)

Tomorrow is the last day of Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week. (Downtown Cleveland Alliance)

Photo by Suhaib Salem for Reuters.