Monday, September 29, 2014

This week's obsession: jackets with faux fur

The leaves are starting to change here in Cleveland. Green is making way for gold, pink, deep reds and burnt orange. Autumn is absolutely lovely here. The air is crisp and it starts to get a bit chilly. Which means sundresses and sandals exit stage right while chunky sweaters, scarves and bootcut jeans become the main show.

I'm most excited about all the faux fur I'm seeing on fall jackets and vests. The one above from Free People looks so fantastically cozy. It could easily transition from autumn to winter snow.

This Anthropologie faux fur vest was a recent impulse purchase. I couldn't help it. So pretty! The best part is that the fur collar is removable. Genius.

I feel like I would find this gorgeous furry number on a chic Montana cowgirl.

This Vera Wang Herringbone coat with faux fur trim is simple yet elegant. Perfect for a night out.

I love this Mackage bomber jacket with faux fur collar and would wear it every day. A splurge but would be totally worth it.  

How about you? Are you feeling the faux fur this season?

Falling in love with fall denim.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Week in review

What you may have missed this week: women speaking out against campus sexual assault, how LeBron coming back to Cleveland has jacked up Cavs ticket prices, and John Malkovich like you've never seen him before.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Photographer Sandro Miller recreates famous portraits with John Malkovich as his model. (Bored Panda)

In her new role as Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, Emma Watson delivers a powerful speech to launch the HeForShe Campaign to end gender inequality around the world. (Vanity Fair)

Sounding off on growing up in LGBT families. (The Sound of Ideas)

Lunacy is the going price of Cavs tickets. $7,500 for a Cavs vs. Knicks game, anyone?

This is what happens when a naturally introverted New Yorker attempts to strike up conversations with random strangers. (A Cup of Jo)

Be still my heart. Radiohead's Thom Yorke has released a new album. (Laughing Squid)

La Carnada tells the story of a 13-year-old Tijuana boy as he embarks on his first drug smuggle across a notoriously fatal stretch of desert on the Arizona-Mexico border.  

Photojournalist Byran Denton, "Thousands of Syrian Kurds have broken down the border fence and are streaming into Turkey." (Instagram)

Meet the college women who are starting a revolution against campus sexual assault. (The Cut)

This fantastic interview with Cosmo editor-in-chief Joanna Coles ran last week, but it deserves a mention. (Refinery29)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fashion prodigy: the pose

For Fashion Prodigy, the magic is not just in the clothes -- it's as much about the pose and attitude.

Take this series of snapshots (taken exactly one year ago for this Throwback Thursday). Izzy chose this schoolgirl chic outfit one morning before school. She was really into her lace-up high tops at the time and paired it with striped leggings and an adorable gray three-tiered scooter skirt. I suggested the green Splendid t-shirt (which she later turned into a skirt) and cashmere Marc Jacobs hooded zip-down sweater. Perfect ensemble, right?

Actually what I think pulls everything together is her confident poses. The first one is just plain flat-out cute. The second screams, "I'm too cool for school." And the third has so much attitude it would make Tyra Banks proud.

See what I mean? Magic.

Fashion prodigy's take on the jeweled evening gown.

A day on the lake, pt 2

The kids had the day off school today in observance of Rosh Hashanah. So what do you do on a perfect sunny 73-degree day in Cleveland? You head to the beach, of course.

It turns out Northeast Ohio has its own Huntington Beach. Nestled 30 minutes outside downtown Cleveland and located on the lower western portion of Lake Erie, this beautiful strip of beach was just the oasis we all needed.

When you're raising little ones the days and weeks and years fly by. I can't tell you how many times I find myself scratching my head and saying out loud, "How is it the END of month? How is it the END of the year? How come my kids are growing up so fast?" Time doesn't care that you're trying to hold on to your children's childhood for as long as possible. My 8-year-old son is right on the cusp of that loss of innocence (he doesn't yet know what the birds and the bees is and still considers me his #1 girl).

And my 4-year-old daughter still lets me, thank God, kiss her uncontrollably. I tell her she'll always be my baby, no matter how grown up she is. "I'm not a baby!" she demands. "But you can still kiss me all the time, Mommy." 

We had a most wonderful afternoon. I didn't have a care in the world. Just soaked up the fresh lake air, marveled at the California-like blue skies and watched my beautiful children play. 

I thank God for days like today.

Shana Tova, everyone.

A day on the lake, pt 1.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Lena Dunham's new book

Lena Dunham's memoir (penned at the wee age of 28!) will hit bookshelves next Tuesday. Part advice book, part storytelling and partly inspired by Helen Gurley Brown's 1982 book, Having It All, Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl is getting great reviews so far. 

"She is acerbic and vulnerable; self-absorbed and searching; boldly in your face and painfully anxious; a survivor of the many dating and friendship crises experienced by her 'Girls' characters, though still flummoxed by the mysteries of adulthood," writes Michiko Kakutani for The New York Times. "Ms. Dunham describes terrible dates and cringe-making email exchanges with self-deprecating humor. She chronicles her doubts and fears and neuroses, her dependence on a therapist, and her icky sexual encounters with an assortment of jerks." 

A young woman who can look back on her life thus far, poke a little fun at herself and then dispense advice with an older person's sort of wisdom? Sign me up.       

Read the full NYT review here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Los Angeles in time lapse

I love New York City with a passion and Cleveland holds a soft spot in my heart, but I will always be a California girl. This beautiful short film of Los Angeles in time lapse is a good reminder of that.

Speaking of short films, you must watch "La Carnada," a story about a 13-year-old boy from Tijuana who embarks on his first drug smuggle across a notoriously fatal stretch of desert on the Arizona-Mexico border.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Week in review

This week around the world: Scotland rejects independence from the UK, Nutella turns 50, and grandmas who accidentally tag themselves as Grandmaster Flash.

Have a restful weekend!


Scotland votes not to go it alone. (Daily Record)

Paving the way for low-income students to attend elite universities. (The New York Times)

President Obama to send 3,000 troops to West Africa in response to the Ebola crisis. (Reuters)

Microsoft buys Minecraft for $2.5 billion. (AP News)

Thanks to Nutella, the world needs more hazelnuts. (NPR)

Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes welcome a baby girl. (Refinery29)

Japan loves their CDs and just won't make the move to online music. (The New York Times)

Try making this delicious peppery tofu dish this weekend. (Week of Menus)

To spank or not to spank a child. (The Sound of Ideas)

Grandmas who accidentally tag themselves as Grandmaster Flash on Facebook (thank you, Autocorrect). (Laughing Squid)

Can you solve this riddle? (A Cup of Jo)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ballet at 40 (the leotard)

Trying on a leotard for the first time in 30 years kinda made me feel like
the woman in Picasso's Girl Before A Mirror: grotesque and distorted. 

There's a fine line between a leotard and a sausage casing. I learned this during a recent trip to Capezio, the ubiquitous dancewear store and reckoning point of self esteem.

Here's the thing about taking ballet -- you need to dress the part. Which means you have to wear a skin-tight leotard. Though a dress code isn't mandated for the adults, everyone showed up to the first class in traditional attire. Even the lone guy in my class donned tights. I wore yoga pants and a tank top and felt like a misfit ballerina among my peers.

The next day, I stood before the mirror in the Capezio dressing room with at least a dozen different black leotards staring me down. "Try me! Try me!" they earnestly called out. "Put me on and you'll look and feel like a true ballerina!"

Those damn leotards lied.

I tried every size and every style from halter and camisole to tank and short-sleeved. At 5'1" and 120 lbs I'm usually a size petite, but in the world of ballet apparently I'm gargantuan. I barely got my ass into a small. The medium? Not on Anna Pavlova's life. I took a deep breath and asked the salesgirl to bring me a large and extra-large. 

Here's the other thing about ballet -- you spend A LOT of time looking at yourself in the mirror. Exorbitant, ungodly amounts. I felt pretty low in the dressing room that afternoon. My critical eye examining every flaw -- my flat chest, broad shoulders, flabby midsection and fleshy thighs. The leotard does not lie. 

I showed up to the next class looking like a proper ballet student: the tights, the sheer flowing wraparound skirt, the damn size large leotard. And while I should have felt good about my graceful pliés and beautiful pointed toes I spent the entire hour in self loathing. 

"How was ballet?" my best friend, a wonderful and accomplished dancer, asked later that week. I told her about my disappearing waist, how my leotard accentuated my back fat and how unforgiving it was of my paunch. 

"Ah, yes," she said in that soothing voice I love. "That's the journey every dancer has to make. Doing the work, not just learning the moves and what to do with her body, but the work inside and eventually coming to accept and love her body -- flaws and all."

I turn 40 next month and taking ballet is my proclamation, a testament to myself and to the world that I'm taking my body back. I want to see what I'm capable of. I want to trust in my abilities. I want see how high I can jump, how far I can leap, how many times I can turn.   

And although I wasn't expecting ballet to be a journey of the soul as much as it is an exploration of the body, I look forward to doing all the hard work it requires.   

Making the sweater leotard insanely cool, as only David Bowie can. (Cheezburger) 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The importance of a crappy job

Everyone should have a crappy job at least once during their lifetime.

A crappy job will make you grateful. It will teach you about ambition. And most of all it will confirm all the things in life you don't want while affirming all of your non-negotiables.

I recently read a fantastic interview with LA-based designer, web developer and entrepreneur Jon Setzen in The Great Discontent. Jon's path was unconventional: in college he majored in photojournalism because he thought he wanted to be a photographer only to discover he hated the program; worked at a small radio station then dabbled in web and graphic design; got a job at the San Francisco Chronicle in interactive design; moved to New York after 9/11 and started his own company; and eventually landed in Los Angeles where he is currently creative director for a web hosting firm, founder of an artisan candle company AND co-host of a popular podcast and breakfast lecture series.

"I still feel like I don't know what I truly want to do," Setzen says about having an "Aha!" moment in his career. "But I do know what it feels like when I do something that I want to do."

Moving to a new city, having no money or job opportunities, and enduring crappy jobs like being a furniture mover in Queens taught Jon the value of hard work and resilience.  

I've had my share of shitty jobs. As a kid I spent a summer delivering advertorial pamphlets door to door to earn extra spending money. I stuffed envelopes at a radio station during a college internship. Stocked shelves and worked the cash register at a convenience store. Organized 3-foot mounds of newspaper clippings and random documents for a crazy, germ-phobic pack rat who called herself a "political activist" (that job lasted one day). And was a coffee girl for a political talk show host who absolutely loved to hear himself talk (hint: his show is still on the air!).

During these crappy jobs, there were times I hated my life and asked myself why I didn't have rich parents or why on earth I had to endure such torture. These moments of self-entitlement were usually preceded by me dropping soup cans on my foot or getting chewed out by a superior or being told to wear a hairnet because the crazy political-activist-pack-rat-lady was allergic to hair.

But it turns out I learned a lot from these crappy jobs. They gave me faith in my abilities. They taught me about gratefulness. They reminded me that kindness and goodness are always in short supply and because of that, to spread them like germs. They forced me to persevere, to delay gratification and to keep things in perspective.

In a weird way, all those crappy jobs made my life big. Because they fueled my ambition and helped me figure out what I really wanted out of a job, a career, a life.

How about you? Have you ever had a crappy job? What did you do? Did you learn anything valuable from it?

Read the full interview with Jon Setzen here. (The Great Discontent)
Illustration by Marcus Connor. (Brainless Tales)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Career advice from smart women

A great post today on one of my favorite blogs, A Cup of Jo. Good advice -- for career and life -- from smart women. 

This nugget of wisdom from Anna Quindlen really resonates with me:

          Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. That's what I have to say. 
          The second is only a part of the first...There are thousands of people out there with 
          the same degree you have; when you get a job, there will be thousands of people 
          doing what you want to do for a living. But you are the only person alive who has 
          sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at 
          desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of 
          your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul...
          People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a 
          résumé than to craft a spirit. But a résumé is cold comfort on a winter night, or when 
          you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the chest X ray and it 
          doesn’t look so good, or when the doctor writes “prognosis, poor.”
And this one from Tina Fey:

         Speak in statements instead of apologetic questions. No one wants to go to a doctor 
         who says, “I’m going to be your surgeon? I’m here to talk to you about your 
         procedure? I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so?” Make statements, with 
         your actions and your voice.

And finally this one, from Nora Ephron:

         Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not 
         to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble 
         out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf 
        of women.

Girl with Black Eye by Norman Rockwell.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Star Wars airport in 2014

If our planet had an airport that supported the spacecraft in Star Wars, this is what it might look like. Don't I wish!

We may see Robert Downey, Jr. and Hugh Jackman in Star Wars Episode 7. (Metro) 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Week in review

Bloggers love kicking off a new series so here I am, kicking off a new series. Each Friday, I will lovingly and painstakingly present to you 10 curated links to various articles, essays, columns, videos, photos, short films and other forms of media from the past week. Some will be quirky, some you may have missed and others will be obvious news items but with a twist.

Happy reading, happy watching and have a fab weekend!



worth-the-read perspective on the Ray Rice domestic violence fiasco. (Rolling Stone)

Gloria Steinem on feminism today. (The Sound of Ideas)

Apocalypse Pooh, if Wes Anderson had directed Forrest Gump and other movie mashups. (Kottke)

Tomboy perfume. Do or don't? (Cup of Jo)

A child helps your career, if you're a man. (The New York Times)

19 glorious moments from NYFW. (The Cut)

I have no need for the new Apple Watch. But I most want it pronto.

Spoken word artist Prince Ea on why he thinks this world should end. Really powerful -- you need to watch this.

Obama's speech on ISIS, in plain English. (The Atlantic)

13 years later, not forgotten. (Mashable)

Illustration by John-Patrick Thomas for The New York Times.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Let us not forget (Sept 11)

New Yorkers and the rest of the world are paying their respects to those lost on this day 13 years ago. I will spend the day thinking about two New Yorkers I met several weeks following the Sept 11 attacks.

I was a journalism student when I interviewed Kris McFerren and Dorothy Cubas. Kris lost her fiance, Brad, and Dorothy lost her son, Kenneth, that day. Both Brad and Kenneth worked in the Twin Towers. Brad Vadas, 37, was a senior vice president at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods and was one of the firm's top traders. Kenneth Cubas, 48, was a vice president for Fiduciary Trust and died attempting to help others escape the South Tower.

It's been a very long time since I talked to Kris. But I remember the way she looked when she talked about Brad. Her eyes would light up. Her voice would get soft. I'm sure all she could think about in those weeks following Brad's death was a future that would never be. She would never see Brad again. She would never be his wife. So she told me she spent a lot of time skating, finding solace alone on the ice.

I still exchange Christmas cards with Dorothy. The Staten Island native lives in the same house. I know her address so well I've memorized it. Last weekend, the corner of Richmond Terrace and Dongan Street was renamed in honor of her son, who is considered a local hero.

Today, I remember Kris and Dorothy and all the individuals who lost loved ones.

Explaining 9/11 to my son.
The worst day of Steve Kandell's life is now NYC's hottest tourist attraction. (BuzzFeed)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Social media is changing your brain

Technology is rewiring our nervous system. Crazy.

Checking your text messages during sex and other social media offenses. (Time)

Monday, September 8, 2014

This week's obsession: lips like Rihanna

I usually cringe at the thought of a celebrity hawking their merchandise and me willingly buying into it. But I confess, I was curious about Rihanna's collaboration with MAC and had to try the "Viva Glam Rihanna" lipstick.

I love it and am now wearing it almost every day. And although I may not look as smoking hot as Rihanna (above), I do have a pretty pout.

Rihanna will debut a new MAC collab for Fall 2014 -- the Rihanna 2. (

Friday, September 5, 2014

The vicar of Baghdad

With the chaos happening in Iraq, I think this Vice documentary is an eye-opening testament to all the good that is going on there, too.

British-born priest Andrew White has spent the past 15 years preaching peace and reconciliation on the streets of Baghdad. He lives and works in areas few Westerners dare to go. The most destitute, poverty-striken areas in the Red Zone is White's mission field.

Dubbed the "Vicar of Baghdad" because his church is the only remaining Anglican church in Iraq, White does very important work for the Iraqi people, including brokering communication between Shia and Sunni leaders through his Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East.   

White's Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis 17 years ago hasn't stopped him from helping people. Neither have death threats, kidnappings and being "locked up in rooms with bits of finger and toe and things." 

"I can honestly say I have never been afraid," White says at the end of the film. "Because perfect love casts out all fear. And what we have here (looking out at Baghdad neighborhood) is perfect love."

I was left absolutely destroyed by the end of the documentary. Tears, heartbreak, love.   

FInd out more about The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East and read Canon Andrew White's blog here

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fashion prodigy: the bandeau top

We are riding out the last days of summer here in Cleveland. It's been warm and humid but the kids are loving the long summer days and looking out for lightning bugs at night. 

Izzy hasn't worn this Burberry-inspired skirt in a while. She was surprised when she found it hiding between all the dresses in her closet. At first she wasn't sure what to do with it. But in true fashion rebel form, Izzy transformed the skirt into a top.

The look is kind of like a bandeau with a generous peplum overskirt. At first she wanted to wear the top as a mini-dress but I said, "No way -- too short." So she paired it with orange loose-fitting leggings.

Not many girls can pull this off. But I think she can.

When feeling like a red head, just add a wig.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ballet at 40 (my first class)

I had survived my first ballet class last night and I'm happy to report that I didn't trip, fall over myself or like this photo, devolve into a hot mess by the end of the lesson.

In fact, it was fun. Dare I say it -- I may get hooked.

I got a crash course in French (plié, relevé, rond de jambe, anyone?), I revisited my childhood, and I was surprised and pleased that my body remembered what to do even though it's been 30 years since I was a ballet student.

It was packed in our little studio. Nine women of all ages (the youngest was in her early 20s and the eldest in her 60s) and sizes (short, tall, slender, plump, athletic, hourglass) and one man named Meredith, oddly enough.

We spent an hour going over ballet basics: learning arm and leg positions, doing barre exercises to pretty classical music, and walking across the room on our toes. 

We also spent a lot of time looking at ourselves in the mirror. This part I have to get used to because I default to self-conscious mode ("Ugh, look at my stomach! Maybe I can suck it in a little more!") rather than confidence mode ("Wow! I can relevé pretty damn good!").

I'm already seeing and feeling the benefits. After just one class I'm paying more attention to my posture, I'm walking with my head a bit higher and I feel my muscles (the ones hiding under all the fleshy parts). I woke up this morning a bit sore. But the good kind of sore where your body, once a rusty engine, is now coming alive. Plus, I had the best sleep last night. And it's been a long time since I had a good night's rest.     

Here's to doing something every day that scares you. See you at the next class!  

Best ballet Instagram accounts. (Elle)  
When Jasmine Malone rediscovered ballet, she fell in love again. (The Telegraph)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Happy dance

Dynamic duo (and husband and wife!) Keone and Mariel Madrid's "Happy" dance is just electrifying. I keep watching this video over and over again. How can they do that with their bodies? Wow.   

Speaking of dance, my first ballet class is tonight. I'll report back the entire experience. Wish me luck!

Misty Copeland proves ballerinas can be graceful, athletic and kick some serious ass.