Friday, January 29, 2016

CLE pride

Like my new bag?

The best part is it's made from recycled materials, is 100% cool and was given to me by a really good friend. She got it at Heights Arts, the non-profit community arts organization here in Cleveland that supports local artists and facilitates public art and design projects.

Win win win all around.

39 things I love about Cleveland.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Remembering Challenger, 30 years later

On Space Shuttle Challenger. (Kottke)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

66 positive things

One can never have too many tools in her parenting toolbox. And what a beautiful thing to learn something new every single day!

I had coffee with a friend this morning and she introduced me to this awesomely helpful list of 66 positive things to say to your child. The ones that really struck me: "Your words are meaningful," "We can try your way," "Don't be afraid to be you," "Your friends are lucky to have you," "Being your parent is my favorite job," "You make me better," "That's a very fair point," and "We all make mistakes. Yes, me too."  

We have the power to make our children feel good or bad about themselves, which is the greatest power in the world.**

Let's choose our words wisely.

Text by Alessia Santoro for POPSUGAR.
Quote (**) from Living Out Loud by Anna Quindlen. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

What does it mean to be sexy, really? (#DarlingMagazine)

Here's me waxing poetic on the merits of sexiness. Happy reading!


What Does It Mean to Be Sexy, Really?
By Jennifer Cho Salaff for Darling Magazine

When was the last time you felt sexy?

Think back to that day, that interaction, that moment. Close your eyes and let your thoughts linger there. Was it something you wore? Maybe someone noticed something about you and affirmed it. Maybe you were doing something you love and it filled you with purpose, passion, conviction.

Perhaps you can’t think of the last time you felt sexy.

Maybe it’s because you don’t feel like you fit the mold. After all we learn, from the time we are young girls, what makes a woman sexy. Just look inside the pages of a fashion magazine or watch reality TV or go see a big Hollywood blockbuster. Images of stereotypical female “sexiness” abound: She’s buxom with long flaxen hair, batting her feather-like eyelashes, applying cherry red lipstick on that perfect full-lipped pout, always the object of another man’s gaze.

In America, where women strive to embody that size 0/Victoria’s Secret model look, there are places like Mauritania and the South Pacific Island of Tonga where female obesity is considered sexy. For pastoralist Kenyan women, lip plates are beautiful. The Kayan women of eastern Burma wrap gold coils around their necks to feel desirable. In New Zealand, Maori women tattoo their faces.

The idea of sexiness is ephemeral, like sex itself.

Think about this: What if the concept of sexiness doesn’t originate from one’s outer appearance and instead comes from the inside?

Consider these attributes: CONFIDENCE, ORIGINALITY, VIRTUE.

There’s something wonderfully delicious about a woman who is unfazed by the ways of the world. The CONFIDENT woman is poised and self-assured yet doesn’t have to be the center of attention all the time. She knows how to hold her own but isn’t afraid to step out of the spotlight once in a while. She speaks up; she knows when to listen. She locks eyes with you and makes you feel like the only person in the room. She delights in her strong laugh and isn’t afraid to laugh at herself, too. She is sexy.

There is only one of her. Created directly and personally by a particular artist. Since there is no one else like her, she is free to be her true, authentic self. She adorns herself as an outward expression of her uniqueness. She simply shines and shows the world she is empowered. She has talent and a gift. She is an ORIGINAL. She is remarkable. She is sexy.

Yes, a woman can be both sexy and VIRTUOUS. These are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it is extremely sexy when she shows the world her goodness, integrity, honor and worthiness. If something goes against her principles, then she knows when to say no. She is a leader and inspires others to use their power to make a positive change in the world. She is sexy.

Now close your eyes again and meditate on this: You are a confident, original, virtuous woman.

You are sexy.

How do you define sexiness? How does it affect your relationships?

Photo via Hart & Honey for Darling.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Man and his BBQ

Nothing can come between a man and his barbecue. Not even a 7-degree windchill.

Happy Friday, y'all!!

22 grilling recipes. (Bon Appétit)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

9 things to do before 9am

Starting your day off right is so important.

Most mornings, after the alarm on my smartphone mercilessly taunts me, I just want to close my eyes and doze off again. Which puts me in a ugh-I-don't-want-to-face-any-responsibilities kind of mood. That's why this year I want to be more intentional from the moment I wake up. I put this list of tools together and perhaps it might help you, too.

9 things to do before 9am:

wake up
This means getting a good night's rest. I usually need eight hours of sleep to feel rested the next morning. Some things that help me to relax before bed: a few tiny dollops of this lavender-infused balm on my wrists and behind my ears, a soothing pillow spray, and a good book.

express gratitude
Say a prayer or meditate on something you're thankful for ("Thank you for giving me another day in which to breathe, express myself and give love to others," "Thank you for this warm, comfy bed,"). I find when I do this first thing in the morning, it really helps me feel positive about the day ahead of me.

make your bed
Even if I don't accomplish much that day, at least I can say with pride that I made my bed. Trust me, you'll feel really good about yourself after you've smoothed out those sheets and carefully placed that blanket/duvet cover. 

put your best face forward
For me this means brushing my teeth, washing my face, combing my hair and putting makeup on. When I'm working from home I make it a point to get out of my pajamas and wear "outside clothes." Oh, and wearing a bra is a must.

eat protein
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I would take that a step further and say protein is the most important part of breakfast. My power food is eggs. I eat one every morning (fried, scrambled or hard-boiled with chimichurri sauce). It keeps me full longer than other breakfast-type foods (cereal, bagels, toast, etc) which helps me to concentrate and be more productive.

refrain from social media
No Facebook, Instagram or Twitter before breakfast. Period.

make a to-do list
I always keep a to-do list next to my computer. I write daily items, weekly items and then long-term vision stuff. Putting pen to paper and articulating my ideas keeps me focused. Plus, it feels pretty good to cross items off that list (but keeping in mind I won't necessarily check everything off the list that day -- I rarely do!).

Three times in and out.

go get 'em!
Stuart Smalley always said, "Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone it, people like me!"

Photo via Jess + Co.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fierce female friendships

I don't have sisters by blood. But there is a small band of women who are my chosen family. These kindred spirits make the world so much sweeter. These magnificent women, they are my lifeline.

The past three years have been filled with tremendous ups and downs, often making me reflect on my relationships. When I have something to celebrate, who will be there to receive my good news? When I'm stuck in that lonely dark place, who will be there to throw me a rescue rope?

She who loves me unconditionally.
She who sticks around.
She who keeps in touch.
She who laughs with me.
She who makes a tough call.
She who believes in me.
She who will defend me.
She who thinks I deserve the world.

I was curious to hear what other women thought. So I asked, "What makes a female friendship good and true and forever?" Here's what they had to say.


"Trust, compassion and loyalty are the usual words to describe a friendship. To me, a female friendship is more than something to be needlepointed on a pillow. I consider myself a 'girl's girl' and have many female friendships. What defines a wonderful friendship is the ability to see your friends for who they are. As a young woman, I have enough people raising their eyebrows at my decisions, garment choices, etc. Why try to change another person? It's simply... not good. None of my friends are alike and I love it. They all play their own tune and I'm so happy to be able to listen to the beautiful sounds." 
-Helena, New York City

"It's really simple, at least for me: The relationship is just easy. No judging. It lifts you up. It's natural. We can be our authentic selves. It's comforting and supporting. And we can laugh A LOT... Girlfriends are what keep the world together! On the flip side, I've also experienced the pain that comes from a close friendship going south. The. Worst." 
-Emily, Cleveland

"I think those long-term, fierce friendships are forged when you are out of the nest and adopt a new family. There is something particularly striking about these. Some of them wane and drift away, and a few stick -- like a sister or a brother. Perhaps you bonded over music or a particular subculture, but it really takes compassion and genuine love and total acceptance to stay friends. When I would move away or my friends would move away, I would feel sad that not only I wouldn't see my friend any more, but that I wouldn't be able to make new friends like those, as though I had to be in my 20s in college or unmarried to accomplish this. Now, at 40, married and a mother and living in a new city, I see how silly this was. It can be as simple as taking a couple of hours now and then to have coffee or lunch." 
-Tara, Seattle

"A true, forever friend is one that stands by you and is always there for you even when life's circumstances or physical distance might keep you apart." 
-Greta, Tucson

"Female friendships are my lifeline. In my teens and 20s, it was my girlfriends who I traveled with, hit the town with, spent too much money on uber-fancy handbags with, cried with about bad dates. We exchanged the highs and lows of starting our careers. Building each other up and over analyzing every work day/date/bad skin trauma we were experiencing. In my 30s the game of life got very real with losing my parents within five years of each other to terrible and heart-wrenching illnesses. Then came the unexpected loss of my brother three years after my mom's death. Three of the most influential people in my life gone within [a span] of eight years. During those very dark days, it was my girlfriends who were my family. They were the ones who I relied on most and who I needed the most. And while we were all in different points in our lives -- some were just getting married and others starting their own families -- it was my sisters-from-another-mister who helped me get through some very damning hours and days. They shed tears like I did, sat in hospital rooms witnessing unsightly things, they fed me, hugged me, and helped convince me that one day things would get better. I'd be lost without them." 
-Susan, Chicago

"Vulnerability is the quality I admire most in relationships. Friends who let me have a safe place to be honest and real about things I don't understand, or struggles I have, are priceless. And to know you have people with whom you can fully be yourself, and they wouldn't turn on you. I mean, there is nothing better on earth." 
-Erika, Los Angeles

"It's an almost indescribable feeling to know you have a good, true, forever friendship with one or more females. I think that type of friendship is very similar to the bond that one shares with a soul mate or partner. In fact, I have joked that our best girlfriends are really our true soul mates and that our husbands are just practice in this life. Haha! I will love my girlfriends through thick and thin and with no judgement. I recently lost a close female friend because of judgement she put on my relationship with my fiancĂ©-now-husband. If another female can love you through it all -- you see each other fail, cry, laugh and succeed. That is what bonds the friendship even more. I am truly blessed to have a forever friendship with two different women." 
-Desiree, Las Vegas 

"No matter how close you are to your friend, or how long you've known each other, always respect your friend by putting your best foot forward in any given scenario. This is the best way to avoid any unnecessary hurt. This is what makes a female friendship good and true and forever."
-Jane, Gig Harbor WA

25 famous women on female friendships. (The Cut)
Image via @reesewitherspoon 

Monday, January 18, 2016

I have a dream (#MLK)

Black leaders as obituaries portrayed them. (The New York Times)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The perfect pinky nude lip

Regarding makeup, what's the one item you're still searching for?

Until recently I had been on the hunt for the perfect nude lip color. I couldn't find anything that wasn't too beige or made me look washed out. Then, over the holidays (during one of my shifts at Anthropologie), I discovered this pretty pinky-nude shade (Albeit Lipstick in Peony). 

Now if I could only nail that dramatic, smoky eye to complement my soft, nude pout....

The color purple.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Making a murderer

Are you watching Making a Murderer on Netflix?

If you haven't and you're like me -- you're drawn to crime dramas be it Law & Order, The Forensic Files, Sherlock -- then brace yourself. I'm halfway through this 10-episode documentary series (10 years in the making!) and I'm just gobsmacked. 

Thoroughly engaging with a story that's equal parts horrifying, fascinating and unimaginable, Making a Murderer is making my head spin. I've walked away from every episode so far shaking my fists in the air and shouting, "Unf*cking believable!!" 

There are so many layers to the Steven Avery story: justice and inequity, the educated vs. the ignorant, the poor and the rich, corruption, abuse of power and social class in America. I feel like I could talk about it for days.

But I won't. 

I'll continue binge watching until I'm done and get back to you. We'll discuss. Really, really hoping for a happy ending here (and truth and justice for all!!). 

10 facts about Making a Murderer. (A Cup of Jo)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My social media diet

"Ugh, I'm depressed!" I wailed jokingly to my husband one morning while scrolling through my smartphone. "I posted a pic on Instagram yesterday and it only got, like, four likes!" 

My relationship with social media can be summed up in two words. Love-hate. I love it for the same reasons you do: It's a great way to keep in touch with far away friends, the news feeds are useful when you want to find out what's going on in the world (current events, memes, pop culture) and it's fun keeping a virtual scrapbook of your own life -- bookmarking a thought, a cute photo of your kids or pets, or something that inspired you that day.

I hate it for the same reasons you do: trolls, shamers, your annoying "friends" clogging your news feed with their annoying political rants/check-ins/pet videos/kid photos. 

I also hate when I allow social media to make me feel small. 

How did my self-worth get reduced to the number of Likes I get on an Instagram photo or Facebook post? Why am I using it as a tool to compare my life to others? No wonder we've coined phrases like FOMO (Fear of Missing Out = anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may be currently happening elsewhere, often perpetuated by posts seen on social media). No wonder there are studies linking Facebook to depressive symptoms. 

Complaining to my husband about my lack of Likes that day -- a sincere moment of self-doubt cloaked in a half-joke -- was the reason I decided to ban myself from social media over Thanksgiving. Nine days without Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. No posting. No peeking. No lurking.

At first it was really hard to resist. 

It made me realize how automatic my interaction with social media had become. Opening up my Facebook or Instagram page was like brushing my teeth. A habit. An essential. A necessity to living.

Good thing I'm stubborn. When I set my mind to something I will do it even if it kills me. One day without social media turned into two, then four. Then a whole week went by. Instead of reaching for my phone I dove into a book I had been meaning to read. I spent more time snuggling with my kids and just being present with them. I stopped caring and wondering about what other people were doing, what they were eating and wearing, where they were vacationing and how glorious and glossy their lives seemed to be.


If you've never gone on a social media diet, I highly recommend it. Even for a few days. See if it affects you in any way. Take notes. Does it change your behavior? Does it make you feel less anxious? Is your FOMO better or worse? Does it help you carve out time for something else?

Let me know how it goes.

love, -j. 

Illustration by Liam Walsh for The New Yorker.
The death of conversation.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Flawless (#GoldenGlobes)

Cate Blanchett can do no wrong.

This Givenchy gown she wore at last night's Golden Globe Awards is proof she is, again and again, a Red Carpet Goddess.

Bold. Daring. Genius.

All the looks from last night. (Vogue)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

When breath becomes air

There are some people in this world with the ability to move us simply with words. Pure. Purposeful. Uncomplicated. Dr. Paul Kalanithi had that power.

Which is why I cannot wait to read his memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, when it hits bookshelves on Tuesday. Kalanithi, a Stanford neurosurgeon who died this past March (at age 37) from lung cancer, was a tremendous human being. Though I never met him, like so many others I felt like I knew him. He shared with us, without self-pity and without being overly sentimental, the heartbreaking and illuminating fact that he did not have much time left.

"I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option," Janet Maslin writes in her review for The New York Times. "There is so much here that lingers, and not just about matters of life and death: One of the most poignant things about Dr. Kalanithi's story is that he had postponed learning how to live while pursuing his career in neurosurgery. By the time he was ready to enjoy a life outside the operating room, what he needed to learn was how to die."

I first learned about Kalanithi's journey from my favorite blog, A Cup of Jo (founded by Joanna Goddard, Kalanithi's sister-in-law).

"Paul himself was an introvert. He was smart and lovely. He had a deep kindness and laughed at every joke," Joanna wrote in a blogpost yesterday. "But since he was often quiet (and uncomplaining), I wondered -- as I hung out in their living room across from him -- what was going on in his mind as he grew sicker. I knew he was brave, but was he sad? Was he scared?" 

Joanna's twin sister, Lucy, who was married to Kalanithi, wrote an extraordinary essay in The New York Times. I read it and re-read it and was absolutely moved and devastated, all over again. Her opening paragraph brought me to tears:

                  "When my husband died from cancer last March at age 37, I was 
                  so grief-stricken I could barely sleep. One afternoon, I visited his 
                  grave -- in a field high in the Santa Cruz Mountains, overlooking the 
                  Pacific Ocean -- and lay on top of it. I slept more soundly than I had 
                  in weeks. It wasn't the vista that calmed my restless body; it was Paul, 
                  just there, under the earth. His body was so easy to conjure -- limbs 
                  that had linked with mine at night, soft hands that I had grasped 
                  during the birth of our daughter, eyes that had remained piercing even 
                  as cancer thinned his face -- and yet, impossible to hold. I lay on the 
                  grass instead, my cheek against the ground."

I loved Lucy's thoughts on becoming a widow:

                  "One night recently, alone in bed, I read "A Grief Observed" by C.S. 
                   Lewis, and I came across the observation that "bereavement is not 
                   the truncation of married love but one of its regular phases." He writes 
                   that "what we want is to live our marriage well and faithfully through 
                   that phase, too." Yes, I breathed. Bereavement is more than learning 
                   to separate from a spouse. Though I can no longer comfort Paul, the 
                   other vows I made on our wedding day -- to love Paul, to honor and 
                   keep him -- stretch well beyond death. The commitment and loyalty, 
                   my desire to do right by him, especially as raise our daughter, will 
                   never end. And I am keeping another final promise."

Kalanithi said the days are long, but the years are short (he was referring to residency, but its application is universal). Indeed, in his death, he has much to teach us about living.   

Photo by Stella Blackmon for A Cup of Jo.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Well get to it

Working toward a goal and making an (im)possible dream come true reminds me of a sculptor tirelessly chipping away at marble or stone. Doing it daily, laboriously, and sometimes resulting in mind-numbing emotional anguish.

There are many days when it's hard to stay motivated. Some days I need a lot of this to get me through. Other days I need to get myself in the mood, even if I have to fake itBut I never want to call it quits, no matter how blue I get.  

Here's to just doing it! Who's with me?

Image via Instagram.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Winter survival guide (2016 edition)

Thirteen degrees outside and all I'm thinking is, "It's gonna be a long road to spring..."

You may be living in cold, cold climes like me, where the earth -- once teeming with flowers and insects and magnificent trees wearing magnificent coats of green -- is now barren and frozen solid. Maybe you're sick of me talking about the weather and thinking, "Yeah, yeah in Cleveland you gotta be tough, you've already told me that!"

OK, so this California girl is really proud of herself. After three winters here (two of which were B-R-U-T-A-L) I feel like I'm becoming a cold weather veteran. It's like having gone through parenting a newborn and surviving the haze. You know what to expect the second, third, fourth time around.

How do you survive frigid temps and not seeing the sun for weeks? 

In 2016, these are my tools:

I will forever preach the miracle that is oregano oil. A powerful antioxidant with natural antibacterial properties, two drops of it in my orange juice every morning keeps the doctor away. And if I feel the onset of a cold, I double the dose and I swear it's like smashing that virus before it becomes full-blown.  

My hands get crazy cracked in winter. I never leave home without my favorite hand cream. It smells delicious and will not leave your fingers feeling greasy.

Anthony Doerr's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is keeping me up late at night. The Cleveland-born author spins gorgeous sentences together, so impossibly simple yet pure genius. I just can't put this book down!

This totally awesome ceramic coffee dripper was my favorite Christmas gift. I brew a fresh cup almost every morning. I'm ruined.

I think my favorite part of this relaxing pillow spray and sleep mist is that fact that it, "works great on overactive children." It really says this on the label! 

Chapped lips are not sexy. Use this scrub on DRY lips and then gently wipe off with a warm washcloth. It will do wonders on that pretty pucker of yours. 

A beautiful, bright lip is an instant winter pick-me-up. My favorite pink is called Schiap (named for Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli).  

It looks like a weird tea pot with a long snout. One of my girlfriends introduced me to the neti pot years ago and it's become a year-round staple. It naturally irrigates your nasal passages, removing excess mucus, pollen, dust and other irritants. Using it takes a few rounds of practice but you'll get the hang of it.   

Chocolate will definitely help you get through winter. (Cup of Jo)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Sweet Sixteen

I'm ready to get 2016 off to a good start. Are you?

Though I'm fighting a cold and the it's-too-good-to-be-true 60-degree weather is over (reality strikes: Cleveland is now cold, snowy, bleak and 27 degrees outside) I'm staying strong and going to show up for my Sweet Sixteen.

That's what I've decided to call this year. Bright, beautiful, innocent and full of promise.

How sweet it will be.

What to expect in 2016. (Wall Street Journal)

Friday, January 1, 2016

Farewell, 2015

It was a good year but not without its challenges. Here's to always growing, stretching and doing the hard work. Saying goodbye to 2015 and looking ahead to Twenty Sixteen. 


love, -j.

Bae, swag and cray-cray? Banish these words in 2016. (CNN)