Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Favorite posts of 2015

Perhaps you're like me and can't believe another year has zipped by without warning. It's as if 2015 stopped by to say a little hello and then Poof! Goodbye, love. That was a nice visit! 

I look back on this past year and feel a sense of gratitude and accomplishment. Thankfulness for another year of doing what I love: writing, exploring new places, being mom to my two favorite little people, and plotting adventures with my partner and fellow dreamer.  

As I looked through nearly 200 posts from 2015 I pulled my favorite ones. They run the gamut from design and style to artist profiles, regular series (Women and clothes, Fashion prodigy and Sex and the single girl, for example) and everything in between. I wanted to take a moment and say THANK YOU for taking the time to visit and for being the motivation of why I do this blogging thing. It's the hardest but most rewarding thing I've done so far in my career. 

Enjoy the reads below and Happy New Year!!

love, -j. 


Two gorgeous and inspiring Cleveland homes.

Fashion and beauty musings: how to style overalls; Tevas, harem pants and other fashion sins; my daughter just slays it with her fashion instincts; I love Anthropologie; my hair went through a lot of changes in 2015; the power of makeup; finding the perfect purple lip color; best cheap nail polish; and liquid eyeliners for under $10.

On being a woman and loving clothes: Helen Kim, Kristin Davidson, Dominique Lee, Hilary Bovay, Courtney McCrone, Debbie Council, Danielle Wood Bolin & Anna Wood, Shiho Johnson, Lydia Goossens, Jennifer Slagle and Yours Truly.

Advice on how to cultivate your allure.

This year, #ProjectCaden made its social media debut. Now the world is watching this dream come to life!

Celebrated love, -j. milestones in 2015, including a redesign and hitting 100,000 page views!! Hooray!

My friend David Sandler shared what it's like to be a relief worker in northern Iraq.

Why the shootings in Charleston affected me so much.

Thoughts on parenting: why raising kids can be all joy and no fun, we have a power stronger than gravity itself, wickedly funny things kids do, making a case for NOT having children, the lost art of phone etiquette, and the photos I found in my cell phone.

Happiness is when you accept your 40-year-old body and when you wake up the morning after ballet class and everything hurts like hell.

Three things that changed my life in 2015: oregano oil, Mario Badescu drying lotion, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Making beautiful, hand-crafted leather goods in Cleveland.

Speaking of Cleveland, you gotta be tough! Subzero weather and fierce snowstorms made for some beautiful and spooky ice sculptures on Lake Erie.

Just for fun: a coffee cup that says it all, Sia's Red Carpet genius at the Grammys, an explanation for millenial behavior, daring to dream, and finding beauty in the most unexpected places.

Opening photo by Jeffrey Goodman.
Illustration by Phoebe Thomas.
FOUNT photo by Hilary Bovay.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Women and clothes: Jennifer Slagle

Jennifer Slagle kills it with her style. 

I once told her she could show up to work dressed in a burlap sack and make it look chic. In fact, Jen would probably throw on a belt and cute boots to complete the look. Only she could get away with it.

We met three years ago at Anthropologie and have become good friends ever since. I've always admired the way she pulls an outfit together and how she uses clothes to reference a time period or pay homage to past trends. Jen loves to play with clothes.

When the Ohio native isn't offering much sought-after style advice to her customers at Anthropologie, you'll find her tending to her garden, pursuing her photography or building up her business, WE (Weddings&Events), where she offers interior styling and floral arranging services.

A true style maven with an eye for beauty.

Jennifer Cho Salaff (JCS): You have such amazing style. How would you describe it?
Jennifer Slagle (JS): Sub/urban. Boho/vintage.

JCS: Where do you shop? For the vintage items, where do you go treasure hunting?
JS: I shop wherever I find something I like. Target, TJ Maxx, Anthropologie, Free People. I have a favorite bracelet from a souvenir shop. It was a dollar. Honestly, if I find something I like it doesn't matter where it's from. For vintage, I shop thrift stores like Unique and Salvation Army.

JCS: Do you have a fashion muse?  
JS: I'm not sure that I have a muse (I've been compared to Mia Farrow) but mostly I'm inspired by my mood.

JCS: You're a dead ringer for Mia Farrow! You know that's one of the first things that popped into my head when I first met you. OK Mia, er-- Jen. Worst fashion crime?
JS: I had a tail haircut in elementary school.

JCS: Haha!! OMG, really?!! OK, what about favorite fashion trend (current or past)?
JS: Menswear tailoring, a la Katharine Hepburn. I love the extension that menswear tailoring gives to a woman's body. For example, a blazer. I have little shoulders so the fit through that part of my body makes them a more pronounced. Then the piece tapers at the waist, giving me a stronger silhouette. 

JCS: Can you remember the first time you were conscious of a thing called "fashion?"
JS: In elementary school a few things stood out to me: my first pair of Adidas, Jordache jeans that I begged my mom for for so long that when I finally bought them with my own savings, I got them at Hills, a discount store. And the aforementioned tail haircut.

JCS: What is one item of clothing or accessory you wear or carry with you every day?
JS: Sunglasses and bobby pins are both extremely necessary. I know you said one but both are so important!

JCS: What sorts of things do you do -- clothing of makeup or hair wise -- to feel sexy or alluring?
JS: When I have my hair up, put on a great pair of earrings and wear a pop of color on my lips. I wear a bun most days to just keep my hair up and out of the way. But I love a great chignon or Heidi braids, as us Anthro girls call them. My lip color can be subtle nudes, or if I'm really trying to up the game a berry lip or classic red.

JCS: What outfit makes you most happy?
JS: If I am comfortable, then just about any outfit. I don't wear anything that doesn't make me happy. Lately however, this white trapeze blouse I got at Anthropologie and a cropped trouser with a bold black and white statement necklace, a red lip and a high bun (for work). At home, my black distressed Target overalls, black thermal, plaid Pendleton coat (that I stole from my husband) and my camel wide-brimmed hat (and a berry lip if I'm out running errands or having drinks with the girls).

JCS: If you could take a fashion time machine back to any decade, which one would you pick?
JS: I would pick the 1940s. The hemlines were a little longer, separates were really starting to come into play. Silhouettes were more natural and women were more alluring. And designers really started having some fun with prints.  

JCS: Where do you go, what do you read, watch, etc. to get fashion inspiration?
JS: W, Elle and Vogue magazines were my go-to, before the era of fashion bloggers. Now I spend most of my time scanning the Internet. There are four blogs I follow: Man Repeller, Stockholm Streetstyle, love, -j., and The Sartorialist. Scott Schuman (of The Sartorialist) made street style its own fashion genre and has the most effect on me. The layering I often see on his beautiful picks changed my coat game tremendously. I often will wear two to four layers topped with some sort of fashion coat and a scarf.

JCS: How has your background (where you grew up, your cultural heritage, etc.) affected how you dress?
JS: I went to a handful of schools growing up in Toledo, Ohio. I think because of that I learned to adapt easily to my surroundings. Perhaps it's why I'm so well-rounded with fashion and why it's my environment that inspires me. I take what I like from my surroundings and layer it into my style. 

Toledo is like any other small town with its pockets of different cultures and subcultures. I always had a desire for new experiences and while forming my identity through my teens and early 20s I was able to immerse myself into a great music scene. Particularly at this bar called Frankie's. I spent a lot of time listening to music and dancing many nights away. On a weekend you could have a great indie band, hip hop, rap, metal or goth group playing upstairs and downstairs you could hear house music or any other genre of dance music. My style during this time was all over the place -- from romantic layering of lace to a slip from Victoria's Secret with platforms or wearing JNCO baggy jeans, wife beaters and Adidas. I also worked at a bar called the City Lounge in Perrysburg. You could hear swing, rhythm & blues, jazz and other forms of Americana. My vintage wardrobe expanded considerably at this time. There was not a flea market, thrift store or vintage shop that I didn't scour.

JCS: That's such a cool insight. On that note, how do you layer Cleveland into your style? What about Northeast Ohio -- the people, the culture, even the weather -- inspires you?
JS: I've lived in Cleveland for 18 years. I've had a daughter, gotten married, worked at Anthropologie for almost a decade, eaten a lot of great food, and I can finally say in my 40s that I've come into my own. I still enjoy going to shows, going dancing, traveling to any coast or island. My love for the water was spawned early on growing up on boats and now, married to a man who aspires to be a waterman. Cleveland has been great for me. It's rounded out the rough edges and I love the seasons here. They are so dramatic (most years) and it really forces you to change up your wardrobe. I definitely have learned a lot more about layering after living here.    

JCS: Describe your figure.
JS: It's like a giraffe -- long neck and legs with a curvy body. I love my body when I've been working out or just being consistently active. But during the winter... Ugh!!

JCS: Can you say a bit about how your mother's figure and style have been passed down to you or not?
JS: My mom is a petite 5'4" frame. Our faces are pretty identical. She loves fashion, too, but she definitely is way more conservative in her style. Where I almost try anything once.

JCS: Speaking of mothers and daughters, what kind of style advice do you share with your own daughter, Emma?
JS: Always wear what feels natural.

JCS: What kind of style advice do you give your customers at Anthropologie? What's the one fashion question you get asked all the time?
JS: The same as what I say to Emma: It can't feel forced. Your outfit should feel like a natural extension of your body. So rocking it all the time -- even if it's your athleisure wear. A big question I get asked by my customers at Anthro is, "How can I wear this or incorporate this into my wardrobe?" Take a chambray shirt (my favorite piece), for instance. You could pair it with a blazer, a fit and flare party skirt with a boot or bootie. It could be a second layer over a tank or over a summer dress on a cool evening, for a more casual look. 

JCS: What do you admire about how other women present themselves?

JS: Confidence. Because it looks good on everyone, no matter what they're wearing! 

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Slagle and Anthropologie.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Wishing you merriment and joy and the happiest of Christmases. Sending you lots of Xs and Os.

love, -j.

Why Christmas is celebrated on Dec 25

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

'Tis the season

Image via Instagram.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Abode: Shaker Heights home tour

Margaret Richards Frankel sits pretty under her favorite item in the house,
an antique Venetian glass chandelier given by her husband on their first
wedding anniversary. (Photos © Suzanna West Makowski

A house becomes a home when there is love, happiness and memories shared inside its walls. It also doesn't hurt to add a dash of style and sophistication.

Margaret Richards Frankel of Shaker Heights, Ohio can certainly say that about her Tudor Revival-style house. The home she shares with her husband and daughter is a fantastic mix of Medieval architecture (ornate woodwork, small diamond-shaped window panes, brick masonry) with a touch of the modern (colorful artwork, mid-century furniture) and vintage (antiques gathered from all over the world!).  

It's an eclectic mix that works thanks to Margaret's keen eye, strong instincts and sophisticated taste. "I want [my guests] to see and enjoy all of the house's natural beauty," she says. "But I also want them to enjoy my unique choices."

Take a step inside and be inspired.          


Jennifer Cho Salaff (JCS): What style is your house? When was it built?
Margaret Richards Frankel (MRF): It's a Tudor Revival, built in 1934 and there was an addition in 1937.

JCS: Tell me about the overall vibe of your home. How would you describe the interior décor?
MRF: The home itself has an inviting and yet formal vibe. The ornate plaster work and woodwork is in the traditional Tudor style making it cozy. Our décor makes it more inviting, adding color and warmth.

JCS: You've told me you love vintage items and antiquing. Where do you shop? How do you pick your pieces?
MRF: I pick up vintage and antique items from all over the world. But locally, I have found that the antique stores on Loraine Avenue (in Shaker Heights) have some amazing finds. Also, June Greenwald Antiques (in Woodmere)!

JCS: What qualities about your home made you fall in love with it?
MRF: The house is my mini-mansion. I love the attention to detail, the modern kitchen, the four full baths and our built-in bar in the basement -- complete with a small wine cellar.    

JCS: What is your favorite room?
MRF: My favorite rooms are the upstairs den which has the most amazing regal fireplace and my daughter Scarlett's room, because I was able to design and decorate it from a blank slate to completion.

JCS: Scarlett's nursery is adorable! Tell me more about it. What's your favorite part about this room?
MRF: The wallpaper is just so happy! The yellow color adds warmth and the floral pattern is pleasing. I also love the different fabrics in her room! 

JCS: What are you favorite items in your house?
MRF: I adore my antique Venetian glass chandelier hanging in my living room. It was my first anniversary gift from my husband. I also adore my daughter's canopy over her bed. It was my own design. It's whimsical and lovely.

JCS: When you want to relax which room do you go to?
MRF: I relax in our upstairs den. In a fur bean bag chair!

JCS: Your basement is so fun! It must be such a great space to entertain guests, especially with that fantastic bar. Have you had a lot of parties down there?
MRF: We have held several parties there. My husband's 30th birthday was Great Gatsby-themed and we used the basement as the speakeasy, complete with a bartender. It was a blast!

JCS: I've never seen wrought-iron gates inside a home before. What's the story there?
MRF: We don't know much about the wrought-iron gates, but an architect once told us he doesn't think they're original to the home. It is these kinds of details that made me fall in love with this house.

JCS: What do you want people to feel or notice when they walk into your home?
MRF: I want people to see and enjoy all of the house's natural beauty but I also want them to enjoy my unique fabric choices and the décor -- vintage, eclectic and sophisticated.

JCS: Decorating advice?
MRF: Decorate with colors and pieces that make you smile! If you need help honing your style, ask an expert! (Interior design books are very helpful!)

JCS: What makes a house a home?
MRF:  A house is a home when it is filled with love. My house is a home because my husband and daughter and I live and love there.     

Photographs by Suzanna West Makowski for love, -j.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Ten. 10! A decade!! DOUBLE DIGITS!!!

Boy, oh boy! Caden, we are so proud of who you are: kind, generous of heart and spirit, adventurous, hilarious, full of life and love and laughter. The world is better because you are in it.

Happy Birthday, Son.

Mommy and Daddy.  

This kid cracks me up.

Friday, December 18, 2015

There's been an awakening (#StarWars)

We saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens last night. And (no spoilers, don't worry) it was magnificent. Especially for the kids. A new generation of Star Wars fans is born.

Go see it now!! 

The biggest opening in movie history. Wow. (Money)
Star Wars airport.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Fashion prodigy: the party ensemble

Fashion prodigy is at it again.

My daughter loves to raid my closet. Shoes, purses, sunglasses, hats, scarves, jewelry. On this particular afternoon, she spied Mommy's sparkly, strappy heels and glittery silver-on-black clutch. She paired it with her favorite party dress, leggings, layers of beads, her pink butterfly necklace (gifted to her by big brother), oversized sunglasses (of course!) and matching embroidered owl purse.

Izzy has a knack for putting an outfit together. I'm loving this whole ensemble. Fun, fashionable, lots to look at without being over the top or too much. And a fashionista can't forget the fierce poses.

"Ready for all those holiday parties, Mommy!!" she announced.

Ready you are, my love.  

When a t-shirt becomes a dress.

Monday, December 14, 2015

#MondayMuse (brave enough)

Image by Reese Witherspoon via Instagram.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Under pressure (#SiliconValleySuicides)

My heart broke so many times while reading "The Silicon Valley Suicides" in this month's Atlantic.

I remember all too well the unbelievable pressure and expectations in high school to perform, perform, perform. Achieve, achieve, achieve. Win, win, win. And I don't lay all the blame on my Tiger parents. It was also the expectations I put on myself, competition with my peers, and a culture of achievement that was so pervasive in my high school (University High School in Irvine, California was very much like the schools depicted in the Atlantic article).

We didn't have train tracks nearby. We never contemplated swallowing bottles of pills. But what if we did? What if, in 1993, I had entertained those options?

When I got that D in AP Calculus my senior year, I thought my life was over. But what could I expect? Five AP classes, ASB President, Varsity swim team, Latin club, Tae Kwon Do champ, church Sunday School teacher, dutifully fulfilling the role of "perfect student" and "perfect daughter." Craziness. It was too much for anyone, let alone a 17-year-old kid. I couldn't keep it all from falling apart. I had my first nervous breakdown.

It's weird, but looking back I think failing that class saved me. I realized life went on and I think something in me learned to say, "F*ck it!!" I survived high school and made it to college. I tried my hand at pre-med ("You hate math and science, dummy! What are you doing?!") and after nearly failing Intro Chemistry I said, once again, "F*ck it!!" and followed my heart. I pursued what made me happy.

My insides ache for the kids at Gunn and Paly. My heart breaks for the parents. As someone who survived that kind of brutally competitive atmosphere, I would tell those kids IT'S GONNA BE OK. I PROMISE. I would tell the parents to CHILL THE F*CK OUT. HAPPINESS TRUMPS ACHIEVEMENT. AND YOU ARE GOING TO BE OK, TOO. I PROMISE. 

Let's stop the madness. Let's be kind to ourselves. Let's embrace failure as much as we strive for success. Because the beautiful mess is what makes us human. 

Illustration by Julie Peterson for The Pioneer.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Portrait of an artist (as a young boy)

I can't help but beam with pride whenever my son picks up his violin. The music he makes is so sweet, so pure, so inspiring. This past Sunday he and 50 children from the Cleveland Institute of Music's Sato Center for Suzuki Studies shared a lovely repertoire at their annual Holiday Circle Fest.

Caden looks so serious in this photo. I wonder what he's thinking. I really like this song. I must concentrate real hard. I hate that Mom makes me dress up for these things. 

Happy Holidays!!

My inner Tiger Mom.

Monday, December 7, 2015

#MondayMuse (Strong women, pt 2)

Art by Shiho Johnson.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Trumpet pants (#PSY)

I love this video so much. From the crazy Korean guy you brought the world "Gangnam Style." Thank you, PSY.

Who's your daddy?