Monday, March 31, 2014

Links mar31


  • A day in the life in Chengdu. (Vice)
  • Heathers, 25 years later. (The Atlantic)
  • Best and worst of April fashion magazines. (New York Magazine)
  • Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin to the world: Divorce? No, it's "conscious uncoupling." (The New York Times) 

Men who wear shorts

Maybe it's my untrained eye, but I'm having a hard time accepting the trend du jour in men's fashion right now: tuxedo shorts.

Pharrell Williams has shown up all over the red carpet in formal wear and shorts and caused the biggest stir at the Oscars earlier this month ("The Oscars is not the right time to wear a shorts-tuxedo," the stylist George Kotsiopoulos commented on Fashion Police. "It's not the Grammys."). 

Though I'm a traditionalist when it comes to men and their tuxedos (long pants, flattering cut, no ruffles please!), there is one upside about this look -- the incentive to wear a really, really amazing pair of shoes. 

Should the calf be put out to pasture? (The New York Times)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A card is worth a thousand words

Does anyone send cards anymore? 

Can you think of the last time you sent or received one the old-school way (read: in the mailbox?). I was at the market the other day and happened upon a lonely kiosk of greeting cards, tucked away in the corner next to the produce and fresh flowers. They were simple 5x5 cards, many with inspirational quotes or pithy phrases.    

Some of my favorites:

It made me think about how much I love getting cards in the mail. Sounds corny, but I get a rush when I see a handwritten envelope with my name and address. It's the same feeling I had as a child on Christmas morning. Excitement and suspense. 

Sometimes love is as simple as a good wish stuffed in a paper sleeve with a 49-cent stamp on top.  

Handwritten notes are a rare commodity. (Harvard Business Review)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Drool-worthy abodes

I have a badly neglected Pinterest board but if I had the time and wherewithal it would be covered with images of drool-worthy apartment interiors. I love dreaming about exactly what I want my home to look like. Even more fun is making that dream come to life.

Just like a mama bird who builds her nest branch by branch, I collect pieces one by one, with thought and intentionality. That flea market picture frame, the second-hand ceramic coffee mug, that hand-me-down chenille rug. Everything in my home will tell you a story.

Of course, that was before we sold everything, packed all of our belongings in 43 boxes and left California to forge our way eastward. And while on an extended pit stop here in Cleveland (before heading to our final destination: NYC), my husband and I are dreaming about what we want our new home to look like.   

Something like this.

And this!

I'm in love with this elegant blue armchair.

And this Peruvian-inspired sectional is so me!

This violet lamp, gilded sunburst mirror and arrangement of glass grapes make me happy.

Something like this for my map-obsessed, music-loving 8-year-old.

And this for my pink princess.

And finally, what I would want our bedroom to look like.

If you were to start over, what would you want your home to look like? If you dream it, you can make it come true! XOXO.

Take a look at this NYC apartment. That bookshelf! Love. (A Cup of Jo)

Modern, multi-hued interiors. (Dwell)


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

This is what 80 looks like

Today, Gloria Steinem turns 80. 

Why is this important? "Steinem occupies a singular place in American culture," writes Gail Collins in The New York Times. "In the 1960s and 1970s, the whole concept of women's place transformed -- discrimination was outlawed, hearts and minds were opened."

        There were all kinds of reasons that the change 
        happened at that particular time, and a raft of 
        female leaders who pushed the movement along, 
        says Collins. But when people think about it, 
        Gloria Steinem is generally the first name that 
        pops up. She's the face of feminism. 

From her prolific journalism career and tireless work for women's rights to her world travels and great optimism for the future, Steinem certainly has been a good steward of her eight decades.

Happy 80th, Gloria.

Illustration by Rachell Sumpter for The New York Times.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The lost art of the "hot letter"

"Whenever Abraham Lincoln felt the urge to tell someone off," Maria Konnikova writes in Sunday's New York Times, "He would compose what he called a 'hot letter.' He'd pile all of his anger into a note, put it aside until his emotions cooled down...and then write: 'Never sent. Never signed.'"

Honest Abe was quite sensible.

In an age of instant communication, I think we could all benefit from writing our own "hot letter" every now and then. Those wise words our grandparents used to tell us ("If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all!") certainly got lost in the Internet Age. Now we say pretty much anything we want and don't mind that the whole world reads our dirty laundry.

        We may have more avenues to express immediate 
        displeasure than ever before, and may thus find 
        ourselves more likely to hit send or tweet when 
        we would have done better to hit save or delete,    
        Konnikova argues. The ease of venting drowns 
        out the possibility of recanting, and the speed 
        of it all prevents a deeper consideration of 
        what exactly we should say and why, precisely, 
        we should say it.

And it's not just vitriol clogging our News Feed. Over-sharing is the new normal: we unashamedly post half-naked selfies and upload awkward potty-training photos of our kids; we write long-winded, rambling political posts and tweet how food poisoning or drinking too much resulted in a night spent hugging porcelain. 

It begs the question: Is nothing sacred? 

I enjoy social media and apply it liberally when required (although a friend warned me to "stop now while [I] still possess a soul" when I recently joined Twitter). But I'm afraid this 21st century-style catharsis is making privacy an endangered commodity.

What would Lincoln have thought of all this? Something tells me Honest Abe would have advised us to not be so honest all the time.

The lost art of the angry unsent letter. (The New York Times)

Andy Warhol's landlord probably wrote a first draft "hot letter" before sending this angry yet self-controlled one. (Flavorwire)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thursday wish

My wish for you Dear Reader, 

That your days would be filled with good memories, fun weekends, work you love, satisfying sleep, children to laugh with, family to support you, friends who understand you, delicious meals, sunshine, sweet music and great health.

Happy Spring!!


This spontaneous happy dance at the office will bring a smile to your face. (A Cup of Jo)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Links mar19

Selling balloons near a cemetery in Lima, Peru.
(by Miko Torres Ramirez, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards)


  • Breathtaking photos from the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards. (The Atlantic)
  • An honest and heartfelt remembrance of the designer L'Wren Scott by fashion writer Cathy Horyn. (The New York Times)
  • Brutal early reviews of classic 20th-century novels. (Mental Floss)
  • Grits for breakfast? I could eat this dish all day long. (A Cup of Jo)
  • Making stuff: Brooklyn-based ceramist Helen Levi knows how to throw. (Cool Hunting)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Japanese beauty products (I can't live without)

One of Shiseido's first advertisements, circa 1927.

My Japanese sisters know what's up when it comes to beauty. I mean, have you ever noticed a Japanese woman's skin? Flawless, glowing, gorgeous.

The Japanese beauty market is saturated with all kinds of products -- from "secret" drugstore buys to the bizarre and down-right terrifyingNose straighteners, breast rollers and face-slimming mouthpieces aside, here are four Japanese beauty products you'll always find in my medicine cabinet:

majolica majorca lash expander mascara
I do not leave home without wearing this.

the cure natural aqua gel
A facial in a bottle.

shiseido pureness oil blotting papers
This is in my purse at all times.

biore deep cleansing pore strips
Horrifying, yet strangely satisfying, when you see the results.

What are your must-have Japanese beauty products?

The power of make-up.
22 cult beauty products from Asia. (BuzzFeed)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Winter pie chart

What happened in Cleveland this winter.
(Illustration by Sarah Lazarovic)

I saw this pie chart today (interestingly enough, on Pi Day) on one of my favorite blogs and it really sums up this cold, hard, brutal winter. In fact, we survived a blizzard just two days ago. A blizzard. In mid-March. Enough already.

Snow is fun and all -- but not for five (!!) months.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

5 things to do for your kid(s)... every day

You are your child's greatest influence.
(Original illustrations by Mateo Waite for love, -j.)

Being a parent is the role of a lifetime. It's also the hardest thing on the planet to do well. Some days are triumphant (like last night when I convinced my 4-year-old it was better to tell the truth than lie). Other days you feel like you are holding on for dear life (when same 4-year-old rolled her eyes at me like a brooding teenager). And then there are those moments you want to preserve in a bottle and carry close to your heart for the rest of your life (like every time I sneak into my children's room at night to watch them sleep).

In an almost-decade of motherhood, I have found these five things helpful in my parenting toolbox. I hope you do, too. 

Affirm them

Make it a point to share something positive at least once a day -- like what makes them special, what they're good at or why you love them. It could be something as simple as, "I really like the way you make your bed," to the more profound: "You are special to me because there is no one else like you in the universe."

Talk to them (really talk to them)

Wisdom once told me: "This should be the most important goal when you talk with your child -- he should walk away from that conversation thinking, 'My mom sees me. What I say and do, my hopes and fears, really matter to her.'" 

Encourage them to dream

Let your child believe there is nothing in this world they cannot accomplish -- because in fact it's true and a belief one sadly loses as an adult.

Hug them, hold them, kiss them

A simple touch can speak a thousand words. Plus, you can't hug or hold or kiss a child too much. No such thing.

Pray for them (and with them)

When I was a child, my mom taught me how to pray ("Often, with a grateful heart and humble spirit," she told me). In our house, it's become a nightly ritual to pray with the kids before bed. "What do you want to talk to God about?" we ask them. It could be anything. Something they were grateful for at school. A request for more Barbies. A prayer for a sick friend. 

Once in a while, with the mad rush of baths and teeth brushing and pajama slinging, we'll forget to pray. "Wait!" they call out from under the blankets. "We forgot to talk to God!"

"Dear Jesus," my son prayed the other night. "Thank you for this comfy bed. Thank you for my snuggly Pillow Pet. Thank you for food to eat every day. And thank you for the whole earth."  


Illustrations by super-talented 7-year-old Mateo Waite for love, -j. Thank you, Mateo. You rock!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

This week's obsession: Mexican food!

Mexican food makes me think of summer. Carnitas. Steak fajitas. Chicken chilaquiles. Tequila shrimp nachos. Avocados. Cilantro. Tomatillo. Maybe it's the heat of the chiles that stirs up nostalgic feelings of sun-drenched beaches and delicious margaritas.

I want a street taco. Like right now. 

Photo by @eatpuesto.
Did someone say kimchi tacos?
Try these traditional homestyle Mexican recipes. (Mexico in My Kitchen)

Links mar11

Never Before, Never Again by Faile.


  • Artwork inspired by the upcoming Darren Aronofsky film Noah. (Flavorwire)
  • The traditional wristwatch as kinetic sculpture. (Cool Hunting)
  • Bicycle rush hour in the Netherlands -- where 1/3 of the population rides a bike! (YouTube)
  • You've got one shot to get your family to like cabbage. So try this recipe. (The New York Times)

Monday, March 10, 2014

On relationships: that thing

One of my favorite movies of 2012 is the Noah Baumbach/Greta Gerwig-written Frances Ha. Shot stylishly in black-and-white and reminding me a lot of Woody Allen's Manhattan, I loved this film for Gerwig's endearing portrayal of Frances, perfectly summed up by a review from the Village Voice:

"Frances is a little dizzy and frequently maddening, but Gerwig is precise in delineating the character's loopiness: her lines always hit just behind the beat, like a jazz drummer who pretends to flub yet knows exactly what's up."    

My favorite scene is when Frances, who is at the most awkward dinner party ever, talks about what she wants in a relationship.

        "That thing when you're with someone and you 
        love them and they know it and they love you 
        and you know it. But it's a party, and you're 
        both talking to other people and you're laughing 
        and shining, and you look across the room and 
        catch each other's eyes, but not because you're    
        possessive or it's precisely sexual but because 
        that is your person in this life...And it's this 
        secret world that exists right there, in public,       
        unnoticed, that no one else knows about."        

Have you ever experienced "that thing" in a relationship? Do you remember that moment when you knew that was "your person?"

16 ways I blew my marriage. (Single Dad Laughing)

Friday, March 7, 2014

An afternoon in the Garden of Eden

I am a giddy sprite in the middle of a magical Cleveland!

The skies are blue, the snow is melting and it's a balmy 50 degrees today. Spring is almost here. Hallelujah! I know, you're tired of me talking about how dreadful the winter has been here in Cleveland. But sub-zero temperatures, five months (!!) of constant snow and the second-coldest winter ever in Northeast Ohio has made me look at flora and fauna differently.

I have a new appreciation for Mother Nature and her gorgeous colors and infinite variety. When God created humans, he placed us in the Garden of Eden for a reason. He knew flowers, greenery and sunshine is good for the soul. Real good.

We recently had a good-for-the-soul experience while exploring the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Founded in 1930 as the Garden Center of Greater Cleveland, it was the first such organization in an American city. The Botanical Garden covers 10 acres in the heart of Cleveland's University Circle and its masterpiece is the $50 million, 18,000-square foot Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse.   

The Glasshouse was our favorite part of the Botanical Garden. Divided into two different landscapes --  the spiny desert of Madagascar and the rainforest of Costa Rica -- its structure boasts 3,400 pieces of glass, 738,000 pounds of steel and features 350 species of exotic plants and 50 different types of butterflies, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Caden found his favorite place: tucked underneath the waterfall.

When we stepped into the "Costa Rican" rainforest, the delicate orchids, blooming shrubs and tropical trees (including avocado, coffee, papaya and chocolate!) watered our very weary souls. Our eyes feasted on small bromeliads, fluttering butterflies and tiny jeweled birds darting through the air.

By the end of the afternoon, we felt different. Renewed. Refreshed. Recharged. 

Aren't we a happy bunch!

Can't you see it in our faces? :)

My favorite things in Cleveland.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Spring wish list

Sixteen more days until spring! I'm counting down the days like a crazy person. The other day I caught myself staring so hard at the naked trees outside my window I thought it would make the buds sprout faster. 

I'm so looking forward to shedding the heavy winter boots, scarves, gloves, hats and multiple layers of clothing. It was fun while it lasted. But enough already! I think I'll do a happy dance when I see my first flower. And I'm gonna celebrate by wearing lots of pink, pastels and floral floral floral!

My spring wish list:

Fresh flowers: this gorgeous maxi skirt makes me happy.

A rose is a rose: simple yet beautiful

Spring to summer staple: the chambray shirtdress.

I am completely obsessed with these sandals!

And these metallic slip-on sneakers are a must-have!

What's not to love about this shirt?
Stripes + South American patterns = love.

Pretty in pink: like flower petals on your fingertips.

A swipe of spring color on your cheeks.

Rose-colored glasses: a girly take on the classic.

Get your face ready for spring.