Friday, January 30, 2015

Breakfast serial

I'm a little late to the party but I'm sure glad I made it nonetheless. Have you listened to the true-crime podcast Serial? I downloaded the first episode last week and I'm halfway through the first season (12 episodes total).

It's so good!!

If you've been living under a rock for the past three months, here's what Serial (a spin-off of This American Life) is all about. This is the synopsis of the first episode:

It's gripping, irresistible and can't-put-my-iPhone-down good. I have mad respect for co-creator and host Sarah Koenig. Her reporting is top-notch. For her, Serial was never about entertainment but journalism. 

I'm hooked and I've integrated this into my morning routine. 

Serial with my breakfast.    

Will there be a Serial season two? (Hollywood Reporter)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ice, ice baby

Look at these magnificent ice formations my friend and photographer Hilary captured while visiting Lake Erie a few weeks ago. Mother Nature's frozen sculptures are absolutely mesmerizing.

The form below looks like a thin old man with a long white beard, sitting hunched over with his bony knees pointing toward the sky. The next sculpture reminds me of funnel cake. Can you see it? 

And I have to point out Hilary's chic winter attire. The woven oatmeal scarf, fitted parka, those mustard yellow gloves and that adorable knit cap with pom pom. You are a stylish adventurer, my friend! 


Photos courtesy Hilary Bovay.
Star Wars' wampa isn't on Hoth. It's here in Cleveland!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Links jan28


  • Three brothers brilliantly recreated childhood photos to make a wonderfully nostalgic calendar for mom. (Sunny Skyz)
  • A bad (but hilarious) lip-reading of the NFL. (247 Sports)
  • Making amends with those who trespass against you is good for your health. (The Atlantic)
  • And you probably had no idea that the world's largest vacuum chamber is here in Cleveland. (BBC)

Photo via Sunny Skyz.

Morning coffee

Am I right or am I right? :)

Best cold brew coffee in Cleveland.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

This week's obsession: oil of oregano

Last year, I was sick more times than what is normal. "Normal" for me is coming down with a cold once or twice a year. But getting blasted five or six times, then closing out the year with the flu? 2014 was rough.

A few months ago, I told my cousin Shana how puzzled I was by my seemingly suppressed immune system. "Has anything changed?" she asked me. "Are you eating anything different? Are you exercising? Getting enough sleep?"

"Nothing significant has changed in terms of my diet or lifestyle," I told her. "I'm eating everything I normally eat. Trying to drink lots of water. I'm getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night. Exercising -- not very consistently but what mother of young children does?"

I was frustrated. I couldn't nail down one particular thing that was making me sick all the time. Sure, the kids brought home germs from school. And living on Hoth for six months certainly didn't help.

When Shana visited us over the holidays, she came armed with all kinds of natural and homeopathic remedies. Oil of oregano, oscillococcinum, an immune support herbal supplement, zinc throat lozenges. She was my one-woman immune support angel!

For the past month, I've been incorporating a new regimen into my routine: 

  • I put two drops of oregano oil and 2 mL of this herbal immune support elixir in a glass of water and drink
  • I do this every morning and every evening

Apparently, oil of oregano is a powerful antioxidant and has strong antibacterial properties. Hippocrates used oregano oil as an antiseptic. Scientists and natural health enthusiasts claim it fights colds and flu, keeps the digestive tract healthy and soothes problem skin. Even Lena Dunham swears by it ("It's literally life-changing for me," she gushes in the February issue of Elle).

I use this brand of oregano oil.
You can find it at Whole Foods for $30.

I'm also using oil of oregano for trouble spots on my face (read: those pesky zits!). I mix equal parts oregano oil and water in a small amber glass vial with dropper. I squeeze one or two drops on a cotton swab and apply directly to my skin. The downside: you go to bed smelling like a pizzeria. The upside: the swollen red bumps shrink by morning. (Warning: pure, undiluted oil of oregano is powerful stuff. If you don't mix with water or another carrier oil, like jojoba or grapeseed oil, it will burn! Take extra care NOT to get any of it in your eyes.)

Of course, consult with your doctor or wellness expert if you have any questions or concerns about the uses of oregano oil. I personally love it because it's all natural. The stuff has existed here on God's green earth since the beginning of time. Good enough for me.    

Photo from Urban Farm Hub.

Monday, January 26, 2015

New year, new look!

Drum roll please...

I am thrilled and OVER THE MOON to announce the new look of my blog! My site has undergone a complete makeover from its name (love, -j. which takes inspiration from how I sign letters and emails), to the new header (inspired by this greeting card from Rifle Paper Co. and illustrated by my crazy talented sister-in-law, Sunha Yoon Salaff of Sun&Ha studio) and overall site design (masterfully crafted by Cleveland-based graphic designer Carly Bartel).

You'll notice new features like a more streamlined design; Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc. share buttons on each article (we're keeping with the fun balloon theme here); larger photos and video; "You might also like" links; and my favorite vintage typewriter font unifying the look throughout the blog.

I'm really proud of all the hard work that went into this redesign and so grateful to Sunha and Carly for helping me to make this happen. And of course a HUGE thank you to all of YOU for reading and inquiring and inspiring me to keep going going going.

Time to uncork the champagne!

love, -j.

p.s. what's up with the VW Beetle? Well, my first car was a purple 1974 Beetle. My second car was the same one only silver. And my third was the updated 2001 version in black. Notice an obsession a theme, here? :)   

Illustration by Fabrice Fortin via Paris By Appointment Only.

Friday, January 23, 2015

A good friend vs. a best friend

A good friend would bail you out of jail, but a best friend would be the one sitting next to you saying, "Damn, that was awesome." 

23 things only close female friends get. (BuzzFeed)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Quote for Wednesday

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Around the world in 343 days

Let's travel around the world: 343 days, 17 countries, 19 planes, 58 buses, 18 boats, 6,237 photographs. From Chile and Peru to Egypt and Morocco to Paris and Indonesia and Yosemite -- one incredible journey wrapped into a 4-minute and 49-second time lapse video.

So much to see. So many things to do.

The 10 most beautiful abandoned places in the world. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Food for thought on MLK day

The Academy Award nominations were announced last Thursday and I couldn't help but notice that the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic, Selma, didn't get more Oscar nods.

Only two nominations (for best picture and best song)? 

I read this level-headed piece by David Carr of The New York Times and I couldn't agree more. "Many would say that it should suffice that '12 Years a Slave,' a film by a black director about black history, won best picture last year, and 'Selma' was nominated this year, and that any grievance is a conjured one. I disagree," Carr writes in Sunday's Media Equation column.

"Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and given the context, it is an interesting moment to ask whether it really matters that the Motion Picture academy failed to nominate the black director and the black lead actor of 'Selma[.]'... But yes, it still matters."

Consider Ava DuVernay, Selma's director. She is a black woman who found the studio backing to make, in Carr's words, "great cinema, not a history lesson." And British actor David Oyelowo (who gave a flawless performance in my opinion), playing a "heroic black figure in the American narrative -- not the victim of white oppression, but the corrective to it."

This is what I love about film. The opportunity to put myself in the shoes of others. To walk their journeys, if just for a few hours, and expand my perspective on love, life, power, injustice, courage, hope, humanity and so much more. 

Food for thought this Martin Luther King Jr. day. 

The director gap. (The New York Times) 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pretty much every day

Typographic print by Latte Design via Shoply.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Quote for Wednesday

"A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business."
-Eric Hoffer

Friday, January 9, 2015

Lake Erie's frozen monster

My friend and photographer Jeffrey Goodman braved the cold yesterday to take pictures of Lake Erie. Despite frigid temperatures and a -15 degree wind chill, he captured some beautiful and truly eerie photos of waves frozen over.

"I felt like I was on planet Hoth from Star Wars and had stumbled upon a Wampa beast's ice lair," Jeff says. "It really looked like I was on another planet!"

That's exactly what I feel looking at these photos. It's as if some kind of alien monster from an arctic underworld is rising out of the water. A hairy, bearded, multi-legged creature with sharp teeth and a bad attitude.

"This is at Perry Township Park," Jeff explains. "The lake along the shoreline was half ice, half water. The waves had crashed and sprayed water, which had long since turned to ice."

Jeff's winter photos have become quite a hit here in Cleveland and beyond. His gorgeous snowflake photos (captured with a macro lens on his iPhone) has garnered the attention of local news, CNN and USA Today.    

I think it's only a matter of time before you see his work in National Geographic. 

Photos courtesy Jeffrey Goodman.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The young man and the sea

He was just about to turn 30 when the doctors told Hayden Peters he wouldn't live a long life. "You should start to confront end of life plans," they told him. "And you should not pass on this gene." In other words, don't have kids, they warned.

So Hayden sought refuge in the ocean. The power of the sea brought everything into focus. "I think my problems are so big and awful and horrible... Then I get out into the ocean and I think, 'Whoa, my problems are tiny. Minuscule compared to what's going on out here.'" 

A must-see. Visually stunning and moving.

An awesome aerial video of NYC.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cold can't stop me

Snow arrived two months late here in Cleveland. We missed out on a white Christmas and instead of snuggling by the fireplace with hot cocoas in hand, we took the kids to the playground and watched them frolic in 50-degree weather. What a difference from last year!

A winter without snow? No way. Not in Cleveland. 

Three days ago, the entirety of northeast Ohio got blanketed. A blustery windchill made it feel 20 degrees colder outside. Brrrr... it was C-O-L-D.
Yesterday after work, I walked a half mile in the snow with three bags in hand. On one shoulder was my purse, weighing about as much as a small child. Hanging from the other shoulder was my laptop bag. And lastly a shopping bag filled with items like my lunch sack, water bottle, ballet flats, headphones and a copy of Anna Quindlen's Living Out Loud rounded out my hobo look. 

I trudged through that crunchy snow, the wind whipping at my face so hard I could barely keep my eyes open and told Mother Nature, "Bring it!" I felt so alive, placing one heavy boot in front of the other and with each step feeling my calves and thighs getting stronger. I don't know, maybe surviving last year's Polar Vortex has given me a new fierceness.

You can't call me a wimpy California girl anymore. Because in Cleveland, you've got to be tough! 

Beware of the winter blues.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Quote for Tuesday

"Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you'll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you'll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room."
-Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things

This week's obsession: argan creamy oil

The cold weather and heaters doing overtime is just awful for my skin. My hands are so parched I can see tiny flakes of dry skin. Gross. 

Of course there's a simple solution: hand cream. But I'm weary of using them for two reasons. Many of them are heavily scented (one of my pet peeves is when a person smells like they used a crop duster to apply their perfume or cologne). And worse, sometimes hand creams leave you feeling greasy. 

I recently tried a small sample tube of Josie Maran's Argan Infinity Intensive Creamy Oil and found my perfect hand cream! My skin happily absorbs the argan oil without the slippery factor. It's light and has this fresh, lemony scent.

I also use it for chapped lips and dry, cracked heels. You can mix it with powder blush or eyeshadow to instantly transform it into a cream. 


Oil on your face? (I wasn't a believer, but now I am!)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Star Wars trailer remake

I'm sure by now you've seen the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But have you seen this brilliant remake?

Watch the side-by-side comparison here. (Dumb Drum)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Here's to 2015

I'm going to use basketball language here, in honor of my bball-loving son: are you going to make 2015 a game-changing year? I sure plan to.

First thing's first: wake up 15 minutes earlier. It may not seem like a lot, but forsaking the extra 15 minutes of sleep will translate to a less-frantic morning routine. Second: boost my immune system. I was sick more times in 2014 than any other year (four colds and one bout of influenza). My cousin gave me this immune support elixir over the holidays and I've been faithfully taking it every day. Third: practice patience and continue to look at the big picture. It's amazing how much clarity you gain when looking at every situation with perspective.    

How about you? 

What kind of year will 2015 be?

New Year's resolutions. Do or don't? (A Cup of Jo)