Sunday, November 30, 2014

Quote for Sunday

"Life is like a bicycle. 
To keep your balance, you must keep moving."
-Albert Einstein

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving gems

These videos are Thanksgiving gems! 

This first one is too cute not to post. A dedicated man lovingly prepares a tiny Thanksgiving feast for his tiny, furry friends. Precious!

What can I say about the next video? #lol #funny #hilarious #youknowyoudothesamewhenyougohomeforThanksgiving

Be forewarned about the last video: it's a tearjerker. 

An Argentine boy receives a cutting board for his birthday. The grateful boy tells his parents he can't wait to use it to cut food. Then his parents surprise him with a second gift, a much-wanted tablet.

Apparently, his mother saved and saved so she could buy the expensive device for the boy. His reaction to his mother's generosity is just priceless. A beautiful, shining example of the true meaning of thankfulness.

Happy Thanksgiving, loves!!

Thanksgiving etiquette

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving dos and don'ts

There are some things that are simply imperative on Thanksgiving. Like a perfectly golden-brown turkey and cranberry sauce made from scratch (never, I repeat never, use the canned kind!). 

I grew up with a Korean mom who lovingly and painstakingly took up the American Thanksgiving tradition. For as long as I can remember we had the full Thanksgiving spread: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy made from the turkey drippings, green beans, buttered corn. On the other side of the American feast was its Korean counterpart: kalbi (barbecue ribs), a variety of kimchi, japchae (glass noodles), buchim (potato pancakes) and plenty of panchan (assorted marinated vegetables and roots). 

Mom cooked and prepped all week. Every chance she got in between her busy full-time work schedule and raising us young pups, she would slave away in the kitchen boiling and salting vegetables, marinating beef short ribs, making homemade kimchi and studying her trusted turkey recipe. 

Now that I'm a mother myself and raising my own young pups, I think of all the details my mom put into Thanksgiving to make it a beautiful and memorable occasion. In fact, I always think of her when setting a table or preparing a meal.

I came across this great article from Bon Appetit about modern Thanksgiving etiquette. I think it offers fantastic advice appropriate not just for Turkey Day, but any event where you find yourself a dinner host or guest. I think Mom would approve, too.  

Ten of my favorite nuggets:

> There must be music: a music-less house is missing something. 

> Organize your home: so there is room for coats, a place for children to play and somewhere for the adults to escape.

> Guests should be prompt, but NOT early: the unexpected early guest is a pest.

> Ignore the host who tells you to "Just bring yourself" -- you should never arrive empty handed.

> Hosts should take every care in creating a seating plan that encourages lively conversation, quarantines quarrelsome personalities, sparks new friendships and accommodates the delicate (consider the sample seating chart below).

> I LOVE this bit of advice regarding conversation: The victorians played a parlor game where participants stood in a circle and tried to keep a feather aloft by blowing. Too soft a blow and the feather falls; too hard, and it flies out of the circle. This is exactly how conversation should work: where everyone cooperates to keep a subject afloat, without wallflowers or blowhards deflating things (again, consider the chart below). 

> Argument is not conversation, and rudeness is never wit. Keep jokes short and stories shorter. Listen and laugh.

> Let kids be kids: it's a long day -- give them space to watch a movie or play outside.

> Phones are the nemesis of conviviality. Meals like Thanksgiving should be havens from the intrusion of work and social media. So Instagram your thumbs off before and after the meal, but in deference to the cook, turn off and put away all devices while there is food on the table.

> Modern technology has not yet replaced the handwritten thank-you note -- rather it has made it more precious.

Click here to read the full article.

Illustration by Mary Kate McDevitt. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Monday, November 24, 2014

This week's obsession: cheap nail polish

Who doesn't love pretty nail polish? And who doesn't love it even more when it's cheap? My current obsession is Wet n Wild's Spoiled nail color line. I especially appreciate the thicker, larger brush (for easier application) and the formula sticks (even after two weeks, my manicure will rarely chip)! 

But the best part is the price tag. You can find all 72 shades at CVS for... what? Yes, $1.99 each!

Pretty ice blue nails, just in time for winter. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Every now and again, one comes across a set of words so beautifully crafted (like a lovely string of pearls!) that it leaves a mark on you. I feel that way about this Rudyard Kipling poem. 

Words of wisdom to last a lifetime. Hope you are inspired and blessed by it, too.



By Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a [wo]Man, my [daughter]!*

(*adapted from the original poem) 

"Flying Bird" by Calum Margetts.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Yep, I like Taylor Swift

Okay I'm coming out of the pop music closet and admitting to you all that I'm falling in love with Taylor Swift. I just can't get her new album, 1989, out of my head. 

Watch this hilarious sketch from Saturday Night Live to see why there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of us Gen Xers who just can't shake Taylor off. 

16 reason why we love TS but are too embarrassed to admit it. (BuzzFeed)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fake it 'til you become it

Can our body language change the way we think and feel about ourselves? Yes, says social psychologist and Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy.

Look at the photo of Wonder Woman (above) and take in her "power pose." When you feel powerful you're more likely to pose like this. But it's also possible that when you fake it -- say you strike a confident pose while not necessarily feeling very powerful -- you can alter the way you feel about yourself. You can actually affect testosterone (the dominant/power hormone) and lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in your brain!

We all know our minds can change our bodies. Turns out our bodies can change our minds, too.

Check out Cuddy's fascinating and inspiring TED Talk.

Next time you're feeling pitiful, stand in a posture of confidence. I was feeling pretty powerless yesterday (see my post about feeling blue). So this morning I tried power posing for two straight minutes (Cuddy's suggestion). And you know what? I felt a lot less like the Cowardly Lion and more like Wonder Woman. 

Our bodies can change our minds.
Our minds can change our behavior.
And our behavior can change the way our lives unfold.  

Want to lean in? Try a power pose. (Harvard Business Review)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Feeling blue

I wish you could see outside my window right now. Not all of the trees are bare yet. Orange and yellow leaves are hanging on for dear life as a light snow dances around them. Like maple leaf-shaped cookies dusted with powdered sugar. Something's not right: poor autumn couldn't figure out how to exit stage left so winter could make its grand entrance. 

But wait, isn't the first day of winter like five weeks from now?

I never understood how profoundly the weather could affect me until we moved from California to Cleveland. When the human body has absorbed an overly-generous amount of sunshine over a period of years, even decades, and then moves to a part of the globe where snow and gray skies can linger for half the year, the results can be traumatizing. I never saw a doctor or got diagnosed, but I'm pretty sure last year's Polar Vortex gave me Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

I'm a California girl doing my best to thrive in Midwest conditions (well, I was born in Iowa and lived there for a decade so I should know how to survive a winter storm, right?). But even after almost two years here, some days are harder than others.

Today, I feel kind of blue.

Maybe it's because it's 31 degrees outside and the sun is nowhere to be seen. Maybe I'm just impatient and I want my dreams to materialize. Or maybe I just want a little bit of this right now:

Last summer, my cousin and I were talking about surviving bad weather. She mentioned her stepdad, who is from Norway (a country where its inhabitants endure long, dark winters and sometimes no sunshine for two months!). Norwegians arm themselves every year with a steady supply of cod liver oil, light boxes, exercise and fresh air, and plenty of positive attitude. When darkness falls, they embrace their cozy sweaters, hearty soups and lots of candlelight.

This year, I'm going to do the same. 

How about you? Does the weather affect you, too? In what part of the world do you live and how do you cope? I would love to hear!

Illustration by Yours Truly.
How Norwegians survive dark winters. (My Little Norway)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

This week's obsession: letters & initials

Doesn't the English language have a wonderful-looking alphabet? I love the power in the straight geometric lines of letters like Z, V, T and L. And the whimsy in letters like O, Q and S. Then there are letters that play both roles, fanciful and bold, like P and B.

Of course my favorite letter is J. Not only it is the first letter in my name but it is lovely in form and function. I can picture myself hanging out on the scoop, my bottom snug in the J's curve while my legs dangle off its end. On rainy days, I could add a line to the top of my J to keep me dry. When the sun is out and I want a tan, I can go without the "hat." J's next door neighbor I is the only other letter that can have it both ways. Aren't we the lucky ones!

Here are some of my favorite things featuring letters, initials and monograms.

A lovely monogram crest journal.

An art deco-inspired sterling silver monogram necklace.

The ubiquitous and must-have canvas tote bag.

This monogram tote is pretty cute, too.

Pretty plates designed by a calligrapher.

Holiday cocktails on this gold-leaf monogram serving tray.

Tell me letter writing isn't a lost art. 

This gold initial necklace is just lovely.

Letter hooks to hang your coat.

A monogram glass globe ornament to adorn your Christmas tree.

And these felted monogram ornaments are just darling.

Put your initials on this soft dip-dyed ombre throw

I give these monogram mugs as holiday gifts every year.

Monogram Marquee Lights. (Anthropologie)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Kristina Wong

I recently discovered actress, writer and performance artist Kristina Wong. I'd totally have a martini with this chick. 

Smart, funny, irreverent, thought-provoking. My kind of girl. 

Best interview ever. Kristina totally killed it. (AM Tonight)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How we got here

The journey to outer space begins in the womb...

The birds and the bees, explained. (HowStuffWorks)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ballet at 40 (portraits of a rookie)

Girl before a mirror.
(All photos © Hilary Bovay)

"So when are we gonna see photos of you in ballet class?" my best friend asked when I first told her about my Ballet at 40 series. "I want to see you in your leotard!"

OK, loves. Here you go. 

Me in all my spandex and lycra glory. 


A big THANK YOU to the wonderful and talented Hilary Bovay for capturing images of this wanna-be ballerina. And a shout-out to Cleveland City Dance and my ballet instructor, Julia Galletta, for letting me stay after class and doing extra barre exercises with me.  

Photos by Hilary Bovay.