Friday, February 27, 2015

Week in review

What you may have missed this week: backstage with the models of J.Crew, Banksy's cute Gaza kitten and why Benedict Cumberbatch is the best husband ever (besides mine, of course). 

Have a happy weekend!

love, -j.


Banksy's Gaza Kitten is shaming your internet habits. (Vulture)

A different take on Patricia Arquette's "equal pay" Oscar speech. (Motherlode/NYT)

Madonna takes a major fall during her performance at the Brit Awards but, being the pro she is, kept on going.  

Christina Aguilera does spot-on Cher, Shakira and Britney Spears (my favorite!) impressions. (The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)

Backstage at J.Crew during NYFW. (Cup of Jo)

Lipstick tricks for dummies. (Cupcakes & Cashmere)

Easy crockpot recipes a la Gwyneth Paltrow. (Goop)

Niagara Falls turns into a frozen rainbow. (Huffington Post Canada)

Watch these Louisville school children rock out to Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir." (Laughing Squid)

Why we love Benedict Cumberbatch. (BuzzFeed)

[In and around Cleveland:]

Heinen's in now open in downtown Cleveland. Yay! (WKYC)

Tomorrow is the last day of Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week. (Downtown Cleveland Alliance)

Photo by Suhaib Salem for Reuters.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


What were you doing in 1993? I was a college freshman and listening to the Cranberries, Nirvana, Portishead and St. Etienne on my Sony Discman during my walk to campus. 

I close my eyes and it's a #tbt for my ears: I can see Telegraph Avenue, I can smell the pepperoni pizza baking inside Blondie's, I can see grungy-looking kids gathering in front of Sproul Hall.

Thank you, UC Berkeley for the all the great memories. 

One UC Berkeley law student is paying his tuition by doing this. (CBS)

Quote for Thursday

Photo by Ben and Raisa Gertsberg via Fine Art America

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


I see her in me. And she sees me in her.
Illustration by Phoebe Thomas for love, -j.

She waits for me to come home. 

"When's Mommy going to be baaaaaack?" she cries softly to her daddy. "I miss Mommy!!!" 

I've only been gone for 45 minutes. It's Tuesday night and I'm at my ballet class. Still, she whines quietly from the safety of daddy's arms. Daddy is awesome. But Mommy is still her #1.

My firstborn, my 9-year-old, is in the midst of rocketing off into the male world -- switching identification to his father. But my daughter, my 5-year-old, she cleaves to me.

No one tells you on the eve of motherhood, as you lay on your backside howling like a she-wolf, how this tiny human about to be born will, voluntarily or otherwise, come under your spell. "I find myself in a relationship which, by its very nature, can never really be equal nor free from a skewed balance of power," Anna Quindlen writes in Living Out Loud, a compilation of her "Life in the 30s" columns for The New York Times.

Oh many are the ways a mother can wield her power.

Motherhood has a weight stronger than gravity itself. I can almost see my daughter's heart swell with confidence when I plant kisses on those luscious cheeks, when I get lost in the scent of her hair as we embrace, when I tell her "You can do it!" "I believe in you!" "You are my treasure!" She occupies the most tender part of my soul.

I have also discovered how a mother’s power is closely linked to the way she views herself. My confidence (or lack thereof) spills over to my daughter. Am I happy with the decisions I've made? Am I at peace with my mistakes? Am I going after the things I want in life? Am I comfortable in my own skin? How I answer these questions will boost (or bust) my daughter's self-esteem.

It’s why I never talk about my body issues in front of her (“I wish my legs were longer!” “If only my boobs were bigger!” “My soft paunch, my fleshy thighs—-Ughhhh!!”), instead I openly praise the things I admire about my body: my shapely muscles, my expressive hands, my size-6-will-look-good-in-any-pair-of-shoes feet. It’s why I teach her that her mother is also an “other”-- a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a woman with dreams and goals and ambition (this way, if she chooses to be a mother someday, she too will remember that she is a multi-dimensional individual).

But power is a double-edged sword. When brandished carelessly, parents can leave their children with lasting wounds.

I think about that afternoon we got in a fight. She, only four but with an attitude of an angsty 14-year-old, using her iron will against me. I don't remember what we argued about (Cleaning up her toys? Putting on her winter boots?). I’m sure it was something petty. But important enough to us that we both wanted to win. Put two stubborn, fiercely independent and unyielding females together and you’re bound for an explosion.

I know I'm the adult, but that afternoon I withdrew my affection. I did the very thing I knew would hurt her most. I did it and I'm not proud. Will she remember this fight? Probably not. But in her storage of memories to come, there will be the inevitable squabbles (read: the teenage years) where careless remarks are hurled with abandon.

Parents become, effortlessly, just by showing up, the most influential totems in the lives of their children, Quindlen writes. This is both exciting and terrifying. We want our good intentions to hold weight, but our mistakes not to leave an indelible mark.

What gives me comfort in this skewed balance of power is the fact that my daughter has cast her own powerful spell on me. What she doesn't realize now is how much she makes my heart swell, how her "I love yous" turn me to mush, how she absolutely obliterates me with that gorgeous face.

One day, she will realize this power. And every now and then she may use it against me. That's OK. Because she will always be my #1 girl. 

Illustration by Phoebe Thomas for love,-j.
5 things to do for your kids, every day.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cheap and chic (sexy and strappy)

I was running errands at Target last night and somehow got sucked into the shoe aisles (as I often do when I'm enjoying a solo shopping outing). I saw these cheap and chic Sam & Libby heels and just had to give them a whirl. 

"Wishful thinking especially in this weather, huh?" I said to the woman next to me who was trying on a pair of faux patent leather pumps. "No kidding!" she replied with a smile.

A girl can dream, right? 

These must-have sneakers are the cat's meow.

Oscar fashion 2015: my favorite 3

Emma Stone in Elie Saab, Rosamund Pike in Givency (my absolute favorite!) and Margot Robbie in Saint Laurent. Flawless, ladies. 

Hot (and not) from the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Oscar Red Carpet.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Week in review

I took a stroll around the neighborhood this afternoon and my, my it was freeeezing (8 degrees to be exact). Have a fabulous weekend and stay warm, my fellow Clevelanders and East Coasters.

love, -j. 


Yep, it's cold outside. (Yahoo News)

What Chinese New Year reveals about the world's most vibrant economy. (Forbes)

10 things no one wants to admit about parenting. (What I Wore)

The best looks from NYFW. (Harper's Bazaar)

My favorite thing about NYFW: fantastic street style. (Racked)

The two SNL 40th anniversary sketches worth watching. (Wired)

Birds in flight. (Kottke)

Sorry kids, Minecraft has about as much inherent educational value as an overhead projector. (The Atlantic)

Oscar predictions: Birdman or Boyhood? (Vulture)

The Apple iPod, iPhone and soon... iCar? (New York Times)

[In and around Cleveland:]

This cold snap is breaking all kinds of records in CLE. (The Plain Dealer)

The Cleveland Museum of Art is officially putting the kibosh on the selfie stick. (Cleveland Scene)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Women and clothes: Helen Kim

Women love to talk about clothes. It's like a code. A secret language of the sisterhood which can bond females quickly and forever. Clothes can give us confidence. They express our values and our politics. They help us reinvent ourselves. For some of us, it's an almost-sacred daily ritual. Clothes serve as our armor or disguise.

Inspired by this fantastic book, I'm kicking off a new series on my blog called Women and clothes. There's more to talk about in fashion than, "Who are you wearing?" and I'm really excited about bringing those conversations to you. 

I knew immediately the first woman I wanted to interview. My friend and graphic designer Helen Kim has a style sensibility that's so indicative of her personality: fun, irreverent, smart, sexy and brave with a I-don't-take-myself-too-seriously vibe that's utterly charming. When Helen's not running her LA-based design studio, The Think Farm, she's pondering the big little things on her blog or knocking back oysters at the nearest $1 oyster happy hour.


Jennifer Cho Salaff (JCS): What is one article of clothing you cannot live without?
Helen Kim (HK): Bright-colored heels have permanent residence in my closet. They ramp up the fun quotient to practically anything, from everyday-jeans to that special “it” dress, and give this girl a boost of confidence as she heads out the door! People worry that bright colored shoes would be difficult to incorporate into their existing wardrobes but I find that the brighter the color, the easier the shoes are to "match" with neutrals. 

JCS: Should one keep up with fashion?
HK: I am of two minds about this. Fashion can guide, empower, inspire and revitalize. Trends are opportunities to consider something new or look at something familiar with a new perspective. On the other hand, fashion trends can be vapid derivatives of an original idea. I think it's completely fine for fashion to help you identity with a group and/or have a sense of belonging. Not to mention the fact that retail therapy is furreal! But when keeping up with fashion is simply about “keeping up,” it becomes a liability to your uniqueness and freedom of creative expression. If this happens, I’d say it's time to tune out the noise.

JCS: Is there a difference between fashion and style?
HK: Yes, particularly if ones definition of fashion is "trends." As such, fashion is a cultural phenomenon and can't exist without the multitudes. Style, though it can be embodied by and represent a larger group of people, exists also within the individual. Style is much more personal and fashion can be utilized to finesse and/or expand upon ones sense of style over a lifetime.

JCS: Is there a difference between style and taste?
HK: Yes. Style is, among other things, about aesthetic preference, cultural connection and personal expression. Taste is used to execute style. You can have great style concepts implemented with terrible taste or a ho-hum style elevated by good taste. Sometimes though, bad style and bad taste can be utterly delicious! As filmmaker John Waters wrote in his book Role Models, "You don't need fashion designers when you are young. Have faith in your own bad taste... Get on the fashion nerves of your peers, not your parents-- that is the key to fashion leadership." I don’t think this advice only applies to the young but Y-E-S.

JCS: Who is your fashion muse?
HK: Call me ageist, but I'm so over the early-twenty-somethings representing the complete spectrum of relevant fashion, from street to avant-garde. I love the ladies of the Advanced Style blog. This quote from Barney's creative director Simon Doonan says it all: "The whole idea of shifting the view onto these women who are older [60s to 90s] is quite anarchic and provocative, and very much against the prevailing fashion system. If you're looking for punk rock anarchy, look at Advanced Style." Also, Joni Mitchell in this photo in the February 2015 issue of New York Magazine is EVERYTHING.

JCS: Most ridiculous trend in fashion (current or past)?
HK: There is a special place in my heart for the ridiculous but I must say I’ve never been a fan of the uber-platform heels that became a pervasive trend as a result of the mainstream-ization of porn. I think any kind of aesthetic tradition is compelling at some level and I am a big fan of appropriation so I am not too bothered by the porn aspect.

My beef is twofold. I know people who favor platform heels say they elongate the legs but I think they actually make you look like your legs abruptly end in a pair of stumps. Also, there was a tortured period during which a whole parade of starlets wore them on talk shows. The talk show hosts had to hold them steady by both hands as they wobbled up the two little steps on to the interview, looking nervously down at their feet the whole time. Modern-day foot-binding, anyone? As someone who roots for powerful, self-assured examples of women in media, I thought this period was completely mortifying. I hope Julia Louis-Dreyfus bitch-slapped her stylist after she saw herself on Conan.

JCS: Can you remember the first time you were conscious of a thing called "fashion?"
HK: When I was about five years old, I went to a children's clothing store with my mom. There was a blue knee-length dress with a patchwork design on the chest that the sales lady referred to as "the Cinderella dress." In retrospect, the dress looked nothing like what Cinderella would wear but that didn't matter one bit. As soon as the sales lady said "Cinderella" my imagination exploded and I saw the possibilities of that dress. I knew I had to have it.

JCS: Describe your figure.
HK: I have sizable boobs considering I'm of Korean descent but they are normal for an American. Like a typical Korean, though, my butt is nowhere to be found. My midsection inflates or deflates depending on how many bars of Snickers I've had. Lately, I've had a lot of Snickers. This may not be the best way to describe my figure but I never understood my body in the context of apples, pears or oranges.

JCS: When do you feel most sexy?
HK: When I am not stuffing Snickers bars into my face. More specifically, when I am feeling confident and self-possessed.

JCS: What are you trying to do or achieve when you dress?
HK: Going back to the Snickers, they are obviously indicative of some internal stuff I'm dealing with at the moment. So, at the moment, I am trying to achieve invisibility or at least inconspicuousness when I get dressed in the morning.

On better days, which I believe are to come, I dress to suit the emotional needs of the day. If I am meeting with a client, I dress to create a connection or sense of empathy. I pick out things from my wardrobe that will give the client a visual cue that I'm on their wavelength. If I need a little pick-me-up, I dress a little fancier than usual as a treat for myself. If I am getting ready for a night out, I dress to feel sexy, powerful or rebellious (that could mean a lot of things), depending on what I'm anticipating.

JCS: What would you say is "you" and "not you?"
HK: I would say contradictions and a sense of humor are “me.” I love the juxtaposition of seemingly incongruous textures, patterns, colors and styles, and it's an added bonus when this is done with a wink. I would also say that simplicity is "me." I don't like to be fussy. With all the contradictions, juxtapositions and winks going on, it's good to keep things somewhat streamlined so as to walk the fine line between interesting and bonkers.

Much to my mother's chagrin, refined and subtle are "not me." I can do either when necessary but I can't help myself from sneaking something irreverent or out-of-place into the ensemble somehow. 

JCS: What do you admire about how other women present themselves?
HK: I admire women who are bona fide on-trend. I admire their energy and tenacity to keep up! I admire women who are effortlessly elegant. True elegance comes from within and is without affectation. If that’s not admirable, I don’t know what is. I similarly admire women who have mastered the understated cool. My friend Karin does this quite well and I sometimes feel like a Pokemon standing next to her. I admire women who go for it, put the pedal to the metal. No regrets and total commitment – how bad-ass.

Most of all, I admire women who defy the dictates of societal conventions and expectations, not with rebellion as the main intention but being present to the unique experience of their person. These women do this regardless of how they are represented, misrepresented or not represented at all in the public discourse. I hope to be thusly admired someday.

Photos courtesy Helen Kim from her blog, Facebook and Instagram
Photo of Joni Mitchell by Norman Jean Roy.
Photo of Christian Louboutin Daffodile pumps via 21cn-shoes.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Think like a Parisienne

Excerpt from How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Modern life

As much as I love my iPhone and instant messaging, I must say modern life is sometimes pretty bonkers.

Happiness is dependent on stuff. The economy is one big roller coaster. In the workplace you're highly disposable. Advertisements promise a better you ("Only beefcakes drink Budweiser!"). Our self-esteem has been reduced to the number of "Likes" we get on a Facebook post.

This article on Good Magazine's website features British illustrator John Holcroft's cynical-yet-brilliant take on social media, obesity, marriage, fast food, big banks and other modern accoutrements.

Like the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  

All images by John Holcroft.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Love is nothing...

Til you give it away. Happy Valentine's Day!!

XOXO, -j.

True love.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

It's magic! (my favorite Vine star)

Have you heard of Zach King? If you enjoy illusions, comedy and often wonder, "How did (s)he do that?"  then you need to check out this compilation. So fun!!

Click here to visit Zach's YouTube channel.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Butt(er) crack(er)

I found this on Caden's desk this morning. "Butt crack" it reads. But wait... Flip the page and it says, "Butter cracker."

Bet that made you smile.

Bravo, my boy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

This week's obsession: the belted scarf

Want to know a really EASY way to upgrade your outfit from an "8" to a "10"?

A belted scarf.

Simply drape a long or mid-length scarf around your shoulders and cinch with a belt. This can effortlessly transform your look in the chicest way. Brilliant, right?

Burberry's Fall 2014 collection showcased this trend with attention-grabbing scarves layered on printed dresses and overcoats. I love mixing prints. They kinda clash, but in the best way possible. Never boring.

Here are some more beautiful ways to rock this look.

Click here for a how-to tutorial. Have fun!!

Photos via Burberry, Miroslava Duma, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Maddinka and Pinterest.
Orange lips, cheeks and nails. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Red Carpet genius (Grammys 2015)

Forget Beyonce, Taylor and Gaga. Sia and muse Maddie Ziegler totally owned the Red Carpet at last night's Grammy Awards.

I was curious what kind of disguise the fame-averse pop star would show up wearing. It's become Sia's trademark -- the platinum blonde wig, the bag over her head, turning her back to photographers -- and all of it makes the Australian songwriter even more intriguing.

"I don't want to be famous," Sia told Chelsea Handler in a rare appearance. "All my friends that I write pop songs for are super famous, and it really fucked them up. And, like, being hunted, paparazzi-style, doesn't appeal to me."

Her resistance to bask in the spotlight is one of the qualities I admire about Sia. In our media-saturated, fame-obsessed culture, Sia chooses to deal with stardom on her own terms. She's forcing her audience to focus on her music and not all the distractions that go with marketing an album. "I don't wanna go out and sell my soul, my body, my peace of mind," she told NPR last summer.     

At the Grammys, Sia hid in plain sight once again. And with such style. I love the whole look: the black cape, mandarin collar, the skinny slacks, chic black pumps and of course, the signature red lip. Her sidekick, dancer Maddie Ziegler, who starred in the Chandelier and Elastic Heart music videos, looked pretty dapper, too (nice wing tips!).  
As for that ridiculously pouffy wig? Love! (But how did she see through that thing?)

Meet Sia Furler, reluctant pop star.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Week in review

Bonne Bell -- the cosmetics company that invented the world's first flavored lip gloss -- will close its doors, how a Jewish man from the Bronx dominated the American soy sauce business, and why Brian Williams still has a lot to explain about his Iraq helicopter.

Have a great weekend!


Harper Lee's second novel, Go Set a Watchman, is already #1 on Amazon.

Eddie Huang is our Richard Pryor. (Salon)

The mysterious, murky story behind soy sauce packets. (The Atlantic)

It could have been the world's tallest ice sculpture... Until they heard the cracking. (The New York Times)

Snoop Dogg's son will play football with P. Diddy's son at UCLA. (Time)

Brian Williams' helicopter in Iraq. What's up? (Slate)

The number of women purchasing beauty products falls to a 6-year low. Shocking. (Fashionista)

Sia's eight best disguises. What should we expect at the Grammys? (Vogue)

Meet Greta Lee. (NYT Style)

Free diver Guillaume Nery looks like an astronaut floating around space in this underwater video. (Kottke)

[In and around Cleveland:]

Bonne Bell says goodbye to Cleveland. (The Plain Dealer)

19 underwater photos of Lake Erie shipwrecks. (Cleveland Scene)

How Jackie Chan does action comedy. (Every Frame a Painting)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Fresh off the boat

Restaurateur, chef and food personality Eddie Huang's new sitcom, Fresh Off the Boat, based on his brash and unapologetically hip memoir of the same name, premiered last night on ABC.

Did you catch it? 

Unfortunately the rabbit ears on my TV don't work very well so I missed it. But the trailer is intriguing. Partly because it's the first show in 20 years (!!) to feature an Asian American family on network television (All-American Girl, starring Margaret Cho, aired in 1994 and lasted only one season) and partly because the show's characters (especially Eddie's parents) seem, at best, hilarious, and at worst, like caricatures. 

Fresh Off the Boat is a really big deal. Huang saw it as an opportunity to portray the Asian-immigrant experience without compromise and signed with ABC in an effort to alter mass perceptions about race. He's been outspoken in his criticism about the development process. "What did I expect?" he says in a New York Times interview. "I expected I could change things."

As an Asian American and a child of immigrants, I say HOORAY and IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME for shows like Fresh Off the Boat to make its way to primetime again. Yeah some may say it's a watered-down, saccharine version of the Asian immigrant experience blah blah blah.

Big picture: it's always a good thing when a TV show prompts us to share our opinions on race and culture. 

Watching Fresh Off the Boat with 999 Asian Americans. (Vulture)
Huang's World. (Munchies/Vice TV)

Quote for Thursday

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

High five (Happy Birthday, darling!!)

Today she turns five.

Oh how she was looking forward to this birthday. "Mama," she said, her eyes as wide as the moon. "I'm a really, really big girl now. I'm getting taller. I can reach the light in my bedroom. I can use kid scissors all by myself. And I'll be in KINDERGARTEN soon!!"

Yes, my darling. You are a big girl. But you'll always be my baby.

Here are some of my favorite snapshots of Izzy this past year...

A slice of pepperoni at Blondie's Pizza in Berkeley.
Fashion prodigy's off-the-shoulder "sheet dress."
Channeling her inner-Martha Graham.
Enjoying an afternoon on the shores of Lake Erie.
She wants to know, "What does the fox say?"
Lady in red.
The girl is pure joy.

Watching her grow up at 1, 2, 3 and 4.