Monday, February 29, 2016

Oscar fashion 2016: my fave

I remember reading somewhere that Asian women shouldn't wear orange. Whoever wrote that obviously hasn't examined Olivia Munn's red carpet A game.

She was an orange dream at last night's Oscars. I appreciated the simplicity of this Stella McCartney dress. Accompanied by minimal accessories, swept back hair (love how it was parted in the middle) and matching shade of lipstick -- the overall look was orchestrated so beautifully.

Unfortunately, much of the rest of last night's Red Carpet lacked inspiration. Some looks were tackyunfortunate and made me say, "Eek!"

What did you think of last night's Oscar fashion? 

Missed opportunities. (NYT)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sleep trick

Do you have trouble sleeping?

Most nights it takes me up to an hour to drift away. I lay there envious of my husband next to me, his heavy breathing telling tales of sweet slumber. "You've left me behind," I sigh to myself. 

If something wakes me up in the middle of night it's often hard for me to fall back asleep. I'll toss and turn and start thinking about everything from my current errand list and what I need to pack for the kids' lunches to deadlines and who I need to call/text/email back. And then I'm done for. My brain is fully awake even though my body is tired and screaming inside.   

It's pure hell.

The other night I tried something unorthodox and it really helped. I flipped my body to the other side of the bed. I placed my pillow at the foot of the bed and my feet by the headboard. Maybe the mattress is firmer on that side, but everything felt more comfortable. I fell asleep pretty fast. A bizarre sleep hack for sure. But hey, it worked. 

What do you do to ensure a good night's sleep?

Danae by Gustav Klimt, c. 1907.

Monday, February 22, 2016

This week's obsession: blue fur coat

I'm not sure why the concept of a blue faux fur coat is bouncing around in my brain but I just saw this one on Alexa Chung and now I'm completely obsessed.

Jackie sure knew how to rock a fur coat.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Five fun things

We're in the middle of a deep freeze here but I refuse to let that dampen my spirit. Here are five fun things that happened this week. Because sharing is caring, after all.

love, -j.


Neon orange lipstick (see above), because why not?

Marc Jacobs and the close of NYFW, written with heart
(Man Repeller)

Eight fun Instagram accounts. (Cup of Jo)

These breathtaking government buildings are a testament to architectural achievement. (Slate)

James Corden drops another fantastic carpool karaoke bit, this time with Sia.

Slate link via Girls of a Certain Age.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mind your manners

Renewing Faith in Our Social Graces
By Christopher Alexander Gellert for love, -j. 

Once upon a time, I needed a place to crash on a visit to New York. A friend said I could sleep on his couch a couple nights while I took care of some visa business and caught up with the city. When I returned home I sent him a thank-you note. He told me it was the best mail he’d received since Time Warner sent him a new cable offer. 

Courtesy should not be a fairy tale. We owe respect and consideration to those around us. We so often forget.

It’s one thing of course to eye the drugstore clerk skeptically as he bobbles his head at the register and asks, “How are you doing?” as he scans the bottle of Extra-Strength Tylenol you picked up in aisle four, and quite another to greet someone kindly, to show attention and concern in a hello.

I believe we are often so caught in the expectation of what the French call politesse — the demand that you follow certain social conventions regardless of any faith in them, or any real regard for those around you (for example: asking someone how they are when you have no wish to know; holding the door for someone so far behind you that they have the rush to the door to thank you for making them hurry; saying yes to plans you don’t really have time for so as not to offend and then canceling at the last minute for foreseeable reasons). True courtesy demands no knowledge of rules of etiquette. It expects something far greater — the ability to empathize with and appreciate others’ needs.

When I sent my friend the letter I wanted to express my thanks for our time together, and to convey my appreciation for the trouble he went to put me up— especially as his was the kind of New York apartment where you can’t walk more than four feet in any direction without bumping into a wall. When I arrived, I brought a bottle of wine for us to share for much the same reason, but also because I knew I’d want some and he wasn’t likely to have any in the house. This might appear a selfish act, but it’s as important to anticipate our needs, as to respond to others’. By doing so, we demonstrate a regard for others, but also relieve them of an obligation to attend to us — we allow for ease and grace in company.

Allow me to illustrate. During the dead of winter a friend tromped through the snow to visit me, and upon her arrival, shaking the snow from her boots she set down a brown bag. After she had unlaced her boots she removed two pink slippers and settled into tea and nibbling, warm and happy. She knew that if she didn’t remove her boots, she would track the horror of January in with her. So, rather than melting, she foresaw her cold toes and planned accordingly, and I didn’t have to go about searching for moccasins in her size.

When we consider others, we must not only recognize their needs, but where we are: the cultural context. In many small towns it’s considered polite to smile at strangers. In New York, you try grinning at someone and they’re likely to question your sanity or remark on the view from their bedroom. Timing is important, too. Remember my friend and the weather.  

And sometimes we can become so lost in our own expectations of what people are about that we stop listening. After enough waiters and waitresses telling me their name, and inquiring how I was this evening as though we were on a blind date and about to join me for dinner instead of serving it, I resolutely answer, “Fine, thank you.” Last week, a tradesman who had come to our home asked me how I was and I responded with my habitual rebuttal to vapid disinterested chatter. He asked me again, and I realized that to feel welcome in my home, he needed to exchange some small words, to feel that we were both occupying the same space and time, and to be acknowledged as someone who also had to deal with bad roads and the wear of winter. So we talked about the weather and he fixed the toilet, and he didn’t feel so much like an interloper.  

Reader, you will find guides to proper etiquette that will instruct you on which order to lay forks and knives, and whom to serve first. The grace of true courtesy lies not here, but in kindness. 

Illustration via Mister Crew.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Go Taylor (#Grammys)

She won Album of the Year (the first woman to do it twice). Her acceptance speech was awesome. And loved the pops of color in her Red Carpet look.      

You go, Taylor.

Florence Welch wore Gucci (my second fave look).

Quote for Tuesday

Dan Pallotta on altruism. (TED)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Sex and the single girl (#TheONLYSecretToSuccess)

The ONLY Secret to Success
By Erika Abdelatif for love, -j.

Look. I know it’s February. 

I’ve seen the candy hearts. I’ve been harassed by 1-800-FLOWERS commercials. I’ve read all of the click-bait articles promising the secrets to a powerhouse relationship. (Trust me. I’m not kidding when I say all of them.) I fully plan to sneak tiny bottles of Chardonnay into a screening of How to Be Single, even if I have to go alone. Valentine’s Day is my porn, and I’m reveling in all of it.

But I won’t succumb to writing an article about singleness. No. Not this year. I won’t do it.

Instead, I want to talk about success. Because, even when climate change kills off all the people and relationships are a thing of the past, you’ll still have dreams. You’ll still be wondering how to achieve them.

You’ll still be wondering if you’re good enough. You’re still be wondering if you can create anything worthwhile. You’ll still be wondering if it’s time to throw in the towel. And, if the climate change scenario becomes reality, you’ll have to be your own cheerleader.

So, remember this: Nobody knows what they f*** they’re doing. No one.

I don’t know if any single thought is quite so terrifying and empowering.

Pretty regularly, when I sit down to scrape through conquer a new project, I waste a lot of time trash talking myself. My internal dialogue sounds something like this:

Why bother? No one is going to care!
I can’t do this. I don’t know how. Everyone will know I’m full of sh*t.
I should probably read ten billion articles and get a Masters degree in this subject first.
Wow, pizza sounds good right now. This project is fleeting, but pizza is eternal. I should make some.

(Who am I kidding? I’ve never made a pizza! It’s Domino’s delivery EVERY. TIME.)

I know I’m not alone in this. I recently workshopped a friend’s article. When I finished, she looked flush and discouraged. I wasn’t trying to discourage her. I was trying to pitch notes to strengthen it. But, when I asked what was wrong, she responded: I just don’t know how to do that.

Well, no kidding! If any of us knew how to do a thing right the first time, we’d have already done it. We’re all learning. Unfortunately, part of learning is the sticky, scary experience of trying.

You have to try something before you know how to do something. I’m sorry to say, there are no shortcuts. It’s all just trying, and digging, and sweating.

But that’s actually good news, even if it’s scary. It’s good news because it means you really can do anything. You just have to start.

What are you waiting for? Domino’s will come to you while you’re hard at work.

Illustration via Cliparts.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

CWRU School of Law, 10:56am

Juliet Kostritsky comes alive in the classroom. 

No wonder students at Case Western Reserve University's School of Law voted her Favorite Professor six different times and bestowed upon her the Teacher of the Year Award in 2015. And the admiration is mutual. 

"They inspire me with their passion," Kostritsky says of her students. "They are amazing both by their desire to learn something new and by their kindness to others."

Perhaps what makes Kostritsky's teaching style so dynamic is her willingness to be surprised, even after 32 years in the classroom. Because law is about so much more than learning rules, she says. "How can we know what rule is best until we know how people will respond to those rules?" she asks. "In deciding what the law is, you have to have an understanding of human behavior. It is that fundamental."   

Who: Juliet Kostritsky 
What: First-year course on contract law
Where: Case Western Reserve University School of Law
What makes a teacher "good?": "This question is a provocative one. There is no one way to be a good teacher but the best ones I've had [when I was a student] had a passion for the subject. I remember a poetry teacher who was a quiet speaker but his passion for Yeats, Synge and James Joyce was so palpable. 

The best teachers care deeply about the students and want them to learn the subject but also be inspired by it. The best teachers do not lecture. They welcome and carry on an interactive dialogue with their students. I love it when students come up with answers that I have not even thought about. That is wonderful and it makes me smile." 

This is Cleveland.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Home clothes

Do you have an item of clothing you wear at home all the time?

I have been wearing this plaid shirt almost EVERY DAY for the past two weeks. It's what happens when you work from home. I think fondly of those days when I worked in an office. Putting on the war paint and fabulous outfit, feeling ready to conquer the world. 

After a fulfilling day at work, I looked forward to my Mister Rogers Comes Home Moment. Remember when Fred Rogers would sing that cute tune, change out of his jacket and Oxfords and slip into something more comfortable -- which was usually a cardigan and pair of canvas sneakers? That was my reward at the end of the day. Kicking off my heels and changing into my slippers and favorite pair of comfy pants.

Admittedly, it's hard to feel like you're slaying when you're wearing pajamas or sweat pants or the same flannel button down every single day. I recently read about the concept of "home clothes" on one of my favorite blogs which got me thinking about articles of clothing you would might not want to be spotted in. Though I really like this flannel shirt I'm starting to think people might notice I wear it all the time. 

It's becoming my uniform.      

The definition of sexy.


Meanwhile... Outside my bedroom window.

Winter survival guide.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ladies, now let's get in formation

Queen Bey is slaying the Internet with her newest single, "Formation."

The video, released the day before the Super Bowl, with zero promotion and without fanfare (in signature Beyonce style), is a visual anthem referencing everything from Hurricane Katrina and the Black Lives Matter movement to Beyonce's roots and the black South to high fashion and becoming "the next Bill Gates."

I've watched the video about a dozen times (completely obsessed) and I keep coming back to the same ideas: freedom, resistance, empowerment, feminism, heritage, identity and general badassery. The fashion (Gucci! Fendi! Chanel!), the little boy defiantly dancing before the riot police (moving), the nod to the trans and queer community (visually and vocally, "I did not come to play with you hoes, I came to slay, bitch!").

Fierce, ambitious, unapologetic.

And the poetry is so on-point: 

I came to slay
I see it, I want it...
I dream it, I work hard

I'll grind 'til I own it...
Sometimes I go off, 
I go hard
Get what's mine, take what's mine
I'm a star
Cause I slay...
Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper. 

Young, gifted and black. (The Cut)
Beyonce and Bruno Mars at the Super Bowl.

Monday, February 8, 2016

This week's obsession: pom pom heels

When my pocketbook allows for a shoe splurge I look forward to welcoming these Aquazzura pom pom heels on my feet. Pretty little things. I mean, aren't they E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G?

I've been obsessed with designer Edgardo Osorio's footwear ever since I stumbled upon his Instagram account a year ago. The Colombian-born Osorio has such a keen eye for what makes a shoe really, really good. Sharp, delicious, drop-dead gorgeous, must-have. His signature design, The Wild Thing, is one of my favorites. 

For now, I'll have to settle for this knock off from Banana Republic. And of course there's the ubiquitous Aquazzura Christy flat.

Shoe goals 2016.

Cold weather street style. (Man Repeller)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Five fun things

Five things from around the Web that will brighten up your Friday. It's almost the weekend!

love, -j.


Waking up old, pooping in your dreams and other irrational fears. (Cup of Jo)

Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes before an awards show? Securing the dress, perfecting the final look, wardrobe malfunctions and more, as told by an insider. (Cupcakes and Cashmere)

What this Russian gymnastics trio can do with their bodies... Whoa. Just, whoa. (Kottke)

Amy Schumer's homage to female bottoms has a good point about our obsession with booties.

When a piano becomes the inspiration piece. (DesignSponge)

Illustration via deepdarkfears.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Six years ago today

A #tbt in honor of my daughter's 6th birthday today. Look at her! All bundled up with a knit cap made by one of the nurses at the hospital. My little new potato!!

Happy Birthday, my darling girl. You are as fierce as a thunderbolt. You are as dazzling as a ray of sunshine.

I see her in me. And she sees me in her.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The best part of your life