Thursday, August 21, 2014

Real life Iron Man

A fishing-related explosion nearly 35 years ago left Sun Jifa without hands. Unable to afford prosthetic limbs, Sun designed his own out of scrap metal, plastic and rubber. 

The Chinese inventor has spent the past decade making more than 800 artificial limbs for the disabled, most of whom cannot afford it. "I feel like this is my mission in life," Sun says. "I can help others, despite being disabled myself." 

What a truly great human being.

35 photos that will restore your faith in humanity. (Slice)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Denim: a love story

Did you know denim first showed up on this planet when Italian textile workers started weaving blue jeans for Genoan sailors during the 17th century? Some 200 years later, Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss would invent blue jean overalls and riveted denim pants for miners and cowboys. Then in the 1950s, movie stars like James Dean and Marlon Brando would immortalize this hard-wearing twill-weave cotton fabric.

Ah, the blue jean. What could be a more ubiquitous fashion item?

Since we're on the subject, I'd like to share a few denim trends this fall. Some I'm super excited about. A few not so much.

patchwork jeans

I've been in love with patchwork since I was a little girl. There's something about the placement of cut-out mixed prints against soft denim. So much good fashion is about contrast. Maybe that's why I love this look. I'd pair mine with a romantic blouse and a pretty pair of heels.

In fact, I saw this pic and I'm on a mission to DIY my own pair of patchwork jeans (aren't they super cute?):


the jean skirt

Jean skirts are a great way to high-low an outfit. My favorite look is the pic on the left. Again, romantic blouse paired with pretty heels. Love.

I'm most excited about denim overalls making a comeback. For two reasons: 1) they look super cute on just about everyone, as long as you get the fit right -- not too baggy, but fitted (you don't want to look like a farmer!) and 2) overalls are always forgiving on the waistline (which is always a win in my book). 

mom jeans

Yes, you read that right. The mom jean is making a comeback. Say it ain't so!! The folks at Vogue are trying to make mom jeans "cool." I'm sorry but the light wash, wide leg and high waist isn't doing anyone any favors (not even for the rail-thin model in this video).

I'm on the fence about flares. In some cases I get it (see photo of chic girl on the right). In most circumstances I don't see the appeal (see rest of the photos). 

What I can't stand most is when the flare is so big it engulfs the entire foot. Like this:

It kinda makes you say, "What happened to the poor girl's feet?" Even more of a travesty is if said girl is wearing a beautiful pair of shoes under there.

The always luminous Marilyn Monroe perhaps wore denim in the best way possible: casually, playfully, sexily and powerfully. Isn't this the best jean photo ever?

How about you? What's your favorite way to wear blue jeans?

These folks may have rocked mom jeans back in the day, but let us not repeat fashion mistakes from the past. (Huff Post Style)

Emily Current and Meritt Elliott of Current/Elliott tell their jean love story. (LA Times) 

Monday, August 18, 2014

On work-life balance: is there such a thing?

There is so much chatter today about work-life balance that it often gets me riled up. A modern woman just can't win: you manage a full-time career yet feel like a bad mother for missing out on things like school drop offs and pick ups and the occasional recital or sports competition or you're just plain out of energy after a 8-10/hour (or more) workday and the thought of cooking a nutritious dinner plus baths, brushing teeth, pajamas and reading before lights out is enough to make any grown-up cry.

Or you decide to stay at home with your child(ren) and while you're thankful YOU get to be the one witnessing all the firsts (first laugh, first steps, first playdate, first solid meal, first homework assignment, first heart-to-heart talk in the car after school), there's this longing coming from deep within you, inside this secret box with nagging questions like, "Should I be doing more? Shouldn't I be using my college/post-graduate degree? What is becoming of my life?" 

I know because I've been there. 

I've held down a full-time job with two kids (at the time, my son was a preschooler and my daughter an infant). I've also put my career on hold to stay at home. 

For me, there was no "balance" in either scenario. 

When I worked full-time, I gave my best to my team -- fresh-faced and ready to tackle the world together -- meanwhile I felt awful because I came home beyond exhausted. I felt like I was giving my family second-best, the crumbs off my work table. I remember picking up my baby girl from daycare and smelling another woman's perfume on her. I just about died from guilt.

When I decided to stay at home with my son, I left a career that was just beginning to take off. I had my dream job: writing about Arts & Culture as well as penning my own column about impending motherhood for a small Southern California newspaper. I had hopes of taking that experience and going to a major metropolitan newspaper then moving to magazines and eventually giving New York City a shot. But after my son arrived, naturally my heart felt pulled in two different directions. Eventually my mother's heart won. I savored every newborn/infant/toddler moment with him and wouldn't have traded that for even the most fabulous job. But I would be lying if I told you I didn't have days where I wondered, "Where would my career be if I just kept going?"

You can't be in two places at once. Something's gotta give. That's why discussions about work-life balance and leaning in leave me rather annoyed. It took me years to finally reconcile the fact that you can't have it all (and while we're on the subject, what does "having it all" mean?). Can a woman (or a man, for that matter) have a stellar, jet-setting, on-top-of-the-world kind of career AND be the parent who's there for all of those little things like drop offs and doctor appointments and school plays and firsts?

For Max Schireson, CEO of billion dollar database company MongoDB, the answer was no.  

In a recent post on his blog, Schireson writes about stepping down from "the best job [he] ever had" to spend more time with his family. "I recognize that by writing this I may be disqualifying myself from some future CEO role," Schireson admits. "Will that cost me tens of millions of dollars someday? Maybe. Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family..."

Schireson made headlines with his memo and while I applaud him for being so open and honest, I also look forward to a time when a CEO leaving a high-profile, high-paying job to spend more time with family doesn't make front-page news.  

Perhaps we're having the wrong discussion and it isn't about balance or leaning in or opting out or giving it up or having it all. Maybe it's about seeking, trial and error, being allowed to make mistakes, not having all the answers and releasing our expectations to be perfect.    

Work and life and family: it is what it is and we're all doing the best we can.

Read CEO Max Schireson's full blog post here. (

Friday, August 15, 2014

California is thirsty

While in California this summer I couldn't help but notice how parched it was. Granted much of the Golden State is in the middle of the desert, but even in the desert things grow. It was as if I could hear the land crying out, screaming to me, "I am so THIRSTY!!!" 

And no wonder. Nearly 82 percent of the entire state is experiencing extreme drought conditions. This means mandatory water restrictions -- you can't wash down driveways or sidewalks, you're not supposed to water outdoor landscaping and in many restaurants patrons are being asked to pay for drinking water.

My friend Jeff Goodman (a son of Ohio and an honorary Californian) and his family spent a month visiting family in California. In this stunning and dramatic photo he captures the sad story happening right now.   

And it's not only California that's suffering. Six other states are also running out of water. Scary.


San Luis Reservoir
By Jeffrey Goodman

...This is my first photo documenting the severity of the drought in California. 

My boys are standing in the San Luis Reservoir in Central California. The reservoir is 74 percent empty. You can see the old water line to the left of my boys. If you look waaaay far in the front you can see a little black speck of where the water is now. 

I didn't ask my boys to put their arms around each other. That just spontaneously happened. 

Photo by Jeffrey Goodman.

California's drought launches a new gold rush. (National Geographic)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fashion prodigy: the jeweled "evening gown"

I consider myself a pretty lucky gal to be a part of the Anthropologie family. It's my most favorite shop in the world and so wonderfully reflects my style sensibilities: eclectic, free-spirited, romantic.  

Izzy calls it "the fashion store" and loves visiting me when I'm at work. Her favorite thing to do is try on the clothes -- especially the dresses. It never crosses her mind that she's about 12 years ahead of schedule. If it doesn't fit then use a rubber band to cinch the waist! Or tuck it in at the sides! Or roll up the sleeves!

For Izzy, there's always a way as long as there's imagination.

On this particular afternoon it was all about evening gowns. This dress was her favorite. "I feel like a princess!" she said as she pranced around the fitting room. Izzy asked me to take a few snaps (see photos below) then walked to the front of the store to look for more dresses. That's how I got the pic (above) with that thigh-high slit.

I must say, the look works. Nice job, Iz!

Another Anthropologie number: the LBD.