Friday, May 31, 2013

Fabulous Friday: The Gift of Siblings

Yesterday was my little brother's 24th birthday, so family was on my mind. Yesterday, I also happened to come across this article , The Gift of Siblings, in the NY Times. Frank Bruni writes, "We marched (or, rather, crawled and toddled) into this crazy world together, and though we had no say in that, it’s by our own volition and determination that we march together still. Among my many blessings, this is the one I’d put at the top." I couldn't agree with him more.  If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that my family is my absolute top priority and the thing in my life of which I am the most proud. One thing I have thought a lot about over the last few years is how you keep a family together when you become separated by geography, when people marry and other personalities are introduced into the mix, when differences in finances, and lifestyle, and children start to enter the scene. So far, so good. Two of the four of us are married and our spouses value family in the same way my siblings do. Though we're separated by distance, we commit to being together whenever we can.

Bruni also writes, "I’m convinced that family closeness isn’t a happy accident, a fortuitously smooth blend of personalities. It’s a resolve, a priority made and obeyed." On my brother's birthday he might wish that he was having a party with his friends in New York, but he was having dinner with J. and me. And in a few days we are both going back to the East Coast to spend some times with my sister before she goes to London for a few months. Then in July the whole crew is going to London together. We prioritize family. As Bruni says, our closeness doesn't happen by accident. Like a good marriage, or a strong friendship, or an important career, you have to put in the time. The best thing about family time is that it's my favorite time.

One of the parts of the article that moved me the most is the way the Bruni notes that our siblings are with us throughout our lives in a way that no one else is. We have a limited time with our parents, our spouses, and our friends. But, our siblings knew us as children, they knew us as teenagers, and they will know us as adults. They are there for the long haul, and there is a distinct kind of comfort that comes from being with people who know you in that way. I am my ugliest, most horrible, most bitchy self around my siblings. I am also my funniest, happiest, kindest, and most selfless around them. And they are cool with whatever they get. For better or worse, they keep coming back.

Had we met under other circumstances (like high school), I don't think that four of us would have been friends. We are a veritable Breakfast Club: the jock, the brain, the popular girl, and I guess that makes me that weird arty girl with the dandruff...(Maybe it's not a perfect analogy). We are very different people. But, we are very different people with one thing in common: we'd do anything for each other. Always has been that way, and, because we are all committed, I believe it always will be.

So, this Friday I am thinking about how fabulously lucky I am to be friends with the three awesome people who are my brothers and sister. There's nobody quite like them.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

On the Horn: Phone Cases

I am in the market for a new phone case (and, frankly, a new phone), and there are so many terrific options. I usually end up with the industrial ones because I am quite clumsy, but I think it might be time to branch out!
'Fine Yellow' Case by Kate Spade SaturdayTortoiseshell Case by Case-Mate'Millionaire Quote' Case by Kate Spade'Banana Leaf' Case by Milly'Pick-Up Sticks' Case by Kate Spade Saturday'Spanish Rose' Case by Rifle Paper Co.'New York' Case by Rifle Paper Co.Deco Scale Print by Jonathan Adler'Flamingo' Case by Tory Burch'Gold Stripes' Case by Rifle Paper Co.'Circle Print' Case by Milly'Hello Hello' Case by Rifle Paper Co.Cork Case by J.Crew'Hello Sunshine' Case by Kate Spade 'Call Me Maybe' by Carly Rae Jepsen iPhone Cases

(Just click on the case for the link!)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Painted Doors: Cape Cod Colors

My sister and dad are up in Cape Cod working on the house. They are painting and refurbishing. I will be there in two weeks, and I cannot wait to see what they've done. My sister mentioned wanting to change the color of the front door. It has been dark purple for over twenty years. I liked that color, but it might be fun to change it up since everything inside is getting a facelift. The house is a traditional Cape style with shingles that have weathered to a gray color. The neutral shade of the house means that almost any color door will work. Here are some that I like:

colorful front doors
 Of course, we could go with a more classic choice in black:

classic black front door

But why go traditional when you can go bold?

bold colored front doors

It is the beach afterall! Which door makes you want to open it and go inside?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday Beauty: Pucker up!

Colorful Lipstick Crayons by Kate Spade
I am not a big lipstick person. I always feel a little silly when wearing almost anything but a nude lip color. The one exception to this was when I was in Paris. I wore red lipstick every night and loved it. Must have been something in the water...

Here are some picks I recommend for summer lips that won't make you feel clownish if you are on the shy side when it comes to bold make-up like I am:

Sugar Rose by Fresh: This is my go-to. I wear it everyday, all day. It is perfect for work because it gives just the subltest hint of color that doesn't scream "I'm wearing make-up."

Brilliant A Levres in Bright Pink 20 by Bobbi Brown: A terrific summer gloss in a color described as "watermelon pink." Bobbi Brown lip gloss is a little bit sticky, but the colors are great.

Creamy Lip Color in Crystal Pink by Bobbi Brown: A staple neutral shade. Looks great with a matching gloss layered on top.  I go with Nude.

Lip Glace in After Hours by Laura Mercier: Whisper pink with a hint of sparkle. I am not sure that this particular shade is still available, but the line has many that are similar.

Pure Color Gloss in Pink Kiss Shimmer by Estee Lauder paired with Pure Color Crystal Lipstick in Tiramisu: I got this combo as a free sample and it has been one of my favorites. The colors are perfect with the lipstick underneath and the gloss on top.

Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey by Revlon: This lip balm/stain combo is a light pink and, because it is a stain, provides color that lasts.

I am also a big fan of Bite lip glosses. I have tried a number of colors and have liked all of them.

When I want something really bold, I play with the Colorful Lipstick Crayons by Kate Spade.

On my "to try" list for summer are the Clinique Chubby Sticks and the Estee Lauder 'Sheer Rush' Gloss in popsicle colored shades. 

What are the shades you can't live without? I must know!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday Musings: Happy Memorial Day!

Here are some peeks at what we've been up to this weekend... hope you're still celebrating!

San Francisco Giants game at AT&T Park.
Cracker jacks.

Tickets to the San Francisco Giants game

A special Memorial Day fireworks display over the bay at AT&T Park.
Barbecued oysters and garlic bread at the Marshall Store.
Chocolate chip cookie at the Marshall Store.

Tomales Bay view from the Marshall Store
Wildflowers and the surf at Bodega Bay

Overlooking Bodega Bay
See you tomorrow! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fabulous Friday

It's Friday again! While I am usually chomping at the bit for the weekend, this one is a little different. I finished my last full day of work for semester, but now the hard work of reading papers, writing reports, and generally trying to see the light through the mounds of papers has begun! I have about ten days to go to the finish line. I need to make this a working weekend. Boo to that. But, yay to the little moments of beauty in my week.

1. Peonies are all abloom at Trader Joe's. They are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen.

Peonies from Trader Joe's

2. A basil gimlet and a fresh manicure.

Basil gimlet
3.  Finally getting to wear the beautiful ring I got for my birthday after having to wait for a different size to become available. I think I'm in love.

Birthday present ring
Oh yeah. I forgot to mention that I will be spending this evening in a luxury box at the Giant's game. Somebody got the hook up... I don't really love baseball, but I do love living it up with friends on a beautiful Friday night!

What are you up to on this long weekend? Hope it's something Fabulous.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Sunnie Situation

Last week I lost my sunglasses. Boo. I also broke another pair. I am wearing some oldies right now, and I think I'm in the market for something new. Here are some of my faves.

Rebecca Minkoff Baxter SunglassesElizabeth and James Fairfax SunglassesOliver Peoples Jacey SunglassesAnthropologie Two-Tone Audrey ShadesAnthropologie Costa ShadesRag & Bone Ridley SunglassesMichael Kors Savannah 58mm SunglassesElizabeth and James Isabella SunglassesElizabeth and James 50mm Retro SunglassesGucci Classic SunglassesRebecca Minkoff Chelsea SunglassesRetroSuperFuture Basic SunglassesCarrera 56mm SunglassesRay-Ban Clubmaster 51mm Sunglasses
 What do you think? Which would you buy?

(Note: Just click on the brand to check them out.)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Summer Style

Sandals, dresses, and swimsuits from J.Crew, Kate Spade, Calypso and more.

ESSIE cute as a button and haute as hello - LANDS END beach towel  - CALYPSO tunic - J.CREW swimsuit - CALYPSO linen tee - ESTEE LAUDER lip gloss - ANTHROPOLOGIE wallet - KJL necklace - PERSIFOR bag - KATE SPADE SATURDAY dress - SOLUDOS (with chevrons, oh my!) - LEMLEM coverup - KATE SPADE wedges - REPORT sandals

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday Beauty: Affordable Make-up Brushes

Make-up brushes from Eco Tools
When my skin went to hell in a hand-basket this past winter, I shed some tears. Yes, embarrassingly, I did. My mom comforted me (generously because I was, no doubt, being melodramatic) and told me to buy new make-up brushes so that I could wash the ones I had more regularly and have an alternate set for when one set was drying. I had a set that was made up of brushes from department store luxury brands, a set that had taken me a few years to collect. I wasn't going to spend that kind of money again, so I went to Target. Because my skin was so out of control, I was looking for something organic that wouldn't make the irritation worse. Enter Eco Tools. These brushes are amazing. No doubt about it. They are an amazing deal, come in an adorable carrying case, and are soft, natural, and easy to clean. I really don't even use my fancier brushes any more. I bought the starter set and an additional set so that I could get the kabuki brush for bronzer. They are also terrific for travel because they are on the small side. I can't recommend these more highly. If you don't use makeup brushes, buy these. If you already have a set, buy a second like I did. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Musings: Sing your heart out, baby.

As promised, I am here to talk about one of my favorite singing shows, The Voice. This season is all about the new blood. These two certifiably insane people judges are out:

Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera on The Voice

 And these two are in:

Shakira and Usher on The Voice

Anyone else think we've upgraded? Usher generally says things that make absolutely no sense, so he was clearly recruited to fill the void created by Cee-Lo's (and his parrot's) absence. At this point, I have a full on girl crush on Shakira. She is just the cutest thing ever. She always says nice things to the contestants, and she has amazing skin. Done and done. I am totally loving her, especially when I compare her to good old X-Tina. Although, I did get a little fearful this past week. Up to this point, Shakira has shown that she has a cool, fun, and appropriate-for-all-audiences sense of style as evidenced by her ensembles in the first few weeks of the show.

Exhibit A:

Shakira on The Voice

Exhibit B:

Shakira on The Voice

Tasteful. Anyone would approve, right? Wrong. Anyone except good old X-Tina. You know she is sitting at home screaming at the tv, "More boobs! More boobs!" Because, you might remember, X-Tina loves showing her boobs. Unfortunately, I think that someone on the crew of The Voice heard X-Tina's plea because this happened:

Shakira on The Voice

Beautiful Shakira brought the boobs in this terrible ice-skater costume. You think this had nothing to do with X-Tina? Think again.

Christina Aguilera on The Voice

Someone is happy. 

The singing is always the least entertaining part of the show. Unfortunately, my absolute favorite, Mary Miranda, got knocked off early. This probably happened because she couldn't seem to open her eyes. She generally looked slightly stoned and aggressively unenthusiastic. If those weren't reasons to keep her on the show, I don't know what would have done it.

Mary Miranda on The Voice
Mary Miranda on The Voice

RIP Mary. You are missed. Now that you have some free time, maybe you can take a nap.

A large portion of the remaining contestants look and sound exactly the same. Thankfully, we still have the unique vocal styling of Michelle Sham-wow Chamuel keeping it fresh and introducing me to my new favorite song. (By the way, after you watch the real video, check out this one.) One suggestion: Could someone get a hairstylist on this case? K, thanks. 

Michelle Chamuel on The Voice

In case you are extremely bored, unemployed, or me, there are at least four hours of this show to be watched every week, so tune in! Happy Monday.

 images: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fabulous Friday

Breaks are the best part of working - M. Levy

When vacation is almost close enough to touch, I have trouble getting down to business. However, one of my best qualities is that I deal with personal stress by throwing myself into work. Because I have been rather emo lately (cue the music) I have been extremely productive. That's good, right?

During these days, I look forward to little treats to keep myself on task. On this fabulous Friday, I thought I'd share a few things that perk me up:

Blogs: I do really love reading blogs. I try to stagger my reading throughout the day so when I need a little mental vacation, I visit Ashley, Emily, Molly and Sally, Mackenzie, Liz, and Garance. Beauty is calming. Om.

Hersey Kisses: I have one Hersey Kiss everyday after lunch. I look forward to it all morning. Delicious.

The Good Wife: Throw this show up on the iPad, work it out on the elliptical, and feel accomplished. Yesterday, I watched the season finale and didn't get off the machine until the show was over. That's motivation.

The Voice: It's BAAAAACCCK! X-Tina is gone, but we rock on for insane amounts of hours every week. More on that next week. Full recap to come.

Fruit is back at the Farmer's Market: It's been a long winter, but all the delicious fruit of summer is starting to make an appearance. I spent an exorbitant amount of money on produce last weekend and enjoyed every morsel of it.

Counting down the days until I head to the East Coast: In two weeks, I will visit with my sister before she heads to London for a summer program. After she leaves, J. and I are headed to Cape Cod where we will celebrate our five year wedding anniversary. (I plan to visit this spa gem, Supple Apothecary, I just read about. Yay!) Keeping my eye on the prize.

And, when it's been a really long week and none of those little things turn my frown upside down, I always like a good snuggle with my hubs on the couch. Cures most things. (That and a glass of wine...)

What are the little "breaks" that get you through the week? Do tell. Maybe I can add some more to my list.

Have an amazing weekend, and let's talk about tv next week! So much to catch up on!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Eyes on Eyelet

In anticipation of summertime, my East Coast sensibilities take over. Eyelet will always mean spring and summer to me, and it is decidedly un-San Francisco, but I still love it. What do you think?

Eyelet fashion from Old Navy, Madewell, J.Crew etc

There is eyelet for everyone! All price points are represented above from the $15 shorts (which may be for children--I can't quite figure it out) to the $325 dress. Take your pick.

And, if you are as in love with eyelet as I am, might I suggest this fab Old Navy dress, or these Annie Griffin shorts? How about a little Madewell frock?

J.CREW sweatshirt - JOIE tank - GAP sandals (These are a must for me.) - FOREVER 21 shorts - J.CREW FACTORY skirt - JACK WILLS dress - TOMS - TIBI dress

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Warm Weather Dresses

Summer dresses from J.Crew, Gap, Target
I went a little crazy this week, but hear me out. I was running some errands at my old favorite, Target, and I thought to myself, why not browse through their clothes? I don't do that often because I am usually trying to keep my eyes on the prize (cleaning products), but I was amazed by a few of the dresses they had. I bought two.

Then I needed to return something to J.Crew. I also had a gift card in my pocket, and a dress I had been looking at was on major sale. I bought it.

My brother was with me and he wanted to stop by Gap for some tees. And they were having a big sale. And I spotted another cute dress. And I bought it.

Now before you condemn my reckless spending, let's look at the deals I scored, shall we?

First off, the two Target dresses were both under $30. I love the blue and white print on this dress. It reminds me very much of Cape Cod where I will be heading in a few weeks. The dress came with a belt, but I will likely take it off and add a colored belt to kick it up. The red tee-shirt dress is perfect for throwing on on a lazy day, and the fabric is akin to what you'll find for a much higher price at somewhere like, oh, J.Crew.

The J.Crew dress was, with all the discounts going on, $50. I had a $50 gift card. Consider it free. This dress is totally versatile. I can be worn with heels or flats, chunky jewelry, a scarf, a fun blazer, a jean jacket. (It is no longer available online, but this one is similar.)

The Gap dress was $32.99 (cheaper in store) with an additional 30% off. It is beachy and flowly. It would transition from a beach cover up to cocktails by the ocean.

So, if you are looking for some dresses for summer because, let's face it, we don't all love shorts (I hate wearing them), you don't have to spend a lot to get some great options.

Headed somewhere this summer and don't know what to wear? Leave a comment or shoot me an email, and maybe I can help!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday Beauty: Hair Care

Kerastase, Kiehl's, Bumble and Bumble
I have really thick hair. I am also in the process of growing it out. Most men love long hair. My husband says when it gets too long I look like a pinhead. (He says this, of course, in the nicest way possible. Obviously.) I work hard to get my hair under control because it is that texture that isn't straight or wavy. It is just a little cray cray. I have committed to washing my hair no more than every other day, and that helps because it takes me forever to make it look presentable. (I know some people wash it once a week, and I aspire to be more like them. Someday.) This is what I am using right now:

I wash with Kiehl's Amino Acid shampoo, condition with Amino Acid conditioner (I just recently switched to this from the Forumla 133, which was more of a detangler), then I apply a heat protectant and a serum. To finish, sometimes I use a color protector/UV protector. (If I am just going to bed--because I do my hair at night---I skip this step.) The Bumble and Bumble will be good in the sunny weather, but I am not religious about using it. On the other hand, I am in love with Kerastase. It is expensive. Really expensive, but it is the top of the line in hair products, and I am insanely vain about my hair. Right now, my hair and I are in a fight because I hate the length, but if I am patient and stop myself from getting "necessary" trims, I am hoping it will be long and luxurious in no time.

Speaking of hair, Connie Britton, the hot mamma from Friday Night Lights, was named in People Magazine's "Most Beautiful People" issue and wrote a thank you on behalf of her hair, which apparently has its own Twitter and Tumblr! This lady is funny, smart (she went to Dartmouth), and hot. Lucky her. Apparently she skips shampoo...If I could look like Connie, I might consider it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Musings: On Friendship

"I like people too much or not at all." - Sylvia Plath
This is pretty much how I feel about people.
Friendship is something I have thought a lot about as an adult. I was the kind of kid who had a few "best" friends, mostly because I was so shy, but also because I like feeling deeply known by someone. Though my parents tried to explain this to me, I didn't understand the concept of having different friends with whom you might do different kinds of things.

As I got older, I still gravitated towards a small number of intimate friendships, but I came to the realization that it gets harder and harder to make the kind of friends I had as a little girl. Moving to CA meant leaving my amazing girlfriends behind, which was hard. But, what was harder was figuring out how to make new friends in a new place. I did make a few friends at work. But, my husband runs his own very small company. He wasn't meeting new people. We knew a few people out here, but not many. And, we generally like to hang out together, which means that a lot of the time it just the two of us. In trying to build friendships, it felt like I was going on a lot of first friend dates, but those first dates rarely turned in to meaningful relationships.

With women, if you are ambitious and driven, chances are that you want to be around and to be friends with other ambitious, driven women. Frankly, however, that sometimes leads to competition. In the words of Varys from Game of Thrones (I cannot believe I am quoting that ridiculous show), "Who doesn't like to see their friends fail now and then?" (By the way, I know that is not grammatically correct, but I am quoting.) Something I've seen and talked about with my girlfriend (who is moving-damn her) is that it is often difficult to be genuinely happy for the successes of other people. When I think about that, I remember why it is easier just to hang out with my husband and my family. Those are the people who are genuinely happy when I'm happy and genuinely sympathetic when I'm not. But then there are those Saturday mornings when I want to go to brunch, and I think "Where are my girls at?"

Friends expose you to new ideas, perspectives, experiences, and world views. I cherish the things I've learned from my friends, and I wish I had little circle of besties here in SF. Bottom line: if you are in your early thirties, and you are looking for a friend, I'm accepting applications. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fabulous Friday: Mother's Day Edition

"No great thing is suddenly created" - Epictetus

Whenever I sit down to write a mother's day (father's day/birthday/anniversary) card, I try to think of something fresh to say to tell the person to whom I am writing what they've done that has shaped me, inspired me, challenged me, molded me. After a lot of cards and a lot of years sometimes I struggle with new words to say thank you.

A few years ago I went to a poetry slam in NYC. I heard an inspirational poet, Jon Sands, perform, and I started following him on Facebook to keep up to date with his work. Recently I read this article that he had published about his mother. In the article, there was a quote, and in it I found the words for my own thank you to my mother. He wrote,

"I can see all that I have inherited in this life from work my mother did before she ever knew me..."

Before my mother ever knew me, during all those years she thought she would never have children, she was doing the work and becoming the person who would be able to give her child innumerable gifts, gifts I have inherited simply by virtue of being her daughter.

My mother has embarked on a amazing new venture in the past year. She is working to open a charter school. I have moaned about it because the work has made her extremely busy, extremely stressed, and extremely invested in her job. At a time when most people think about winding their careers down, she is ratcheting hers up. And then last night I went to a talk by the celebrated author and educational activist, Wes Moore. He spoke about the absolute unequivocal necessity of having adults who champion kids who, in a multitude of ways, are undeserved. In that moment, I thought about the magnitude of what my mother is trying to do. She did a lot of work before she ever knew me. And since she's known me, for, oh thirty years now, she has done a lot more. She didn't stop pushing herself. And because she pushes herself, I know I need to push myself. In his article, Sands talks about his mother's desire, the one that lends itself to his title, that if she die, it matter. My mother is leaving a legacy, whether this school ever opens its doors or not, that will matter. Not just to me, not just to her family, but to her community, and potentially, as those people in her community spread their wings, to the wider world.  That's kind of a lot to live up to. Damn you, Mom.

In honor of Mother's Day, to each of you who is a mother, think about the amazing inheritance you give your child by virtue of having grown up to be the person you are. And for those of you who have mother's (all of you, I'd be inclined to assume), think about all the work that went in to creating your life before you were even born. And say thank you in whatever (and whoever's) words you can find. 

Happy Mother's Day to each mother out there, particularly my fabulous one.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dream Room: Bedroom Design - Finishing with Furniture

I am coming to the end of the design for Annie's dream bedroom. After giving her the options for bedding, she was surprised that she liked the grey and white stripes. That got me to thinking about how I could incorporate those colors into the whole room. So, this might not be how I started, but I kind of like where I've ended up. Obviously, in a room you have to take into consideration the dimensions and proportions of furniture, the amount of furniture, the way you want to light the room, what kind of window treatments you prefer, etc. Also, you want to think about how shades of colors might vary in person and in different lights. But, this is a rough sketch of some core pieces I think might be great.
Bedroom furniture from C. Wonder, Furbish, and Pottery Barn.

Lighting: If the room were to have an overhead light, I think that this white fixture would be great. For the dresser, perhaps, I picked this gray gourd shaped lamp. For the bedside, I might do something like this.

Furniture: We decided on this terrific bed with a great shape to its headboard. (Pillows: Furbish and C. Wonder) I think the room needs one if not two nightstands. I like breaking up all the white with something metal like this option from Pottery Barn. I also think that a tray stand like the one from West Elm could be terrific for a second nightstand. It is easy to move should you need that surface elsewhere in the room. I love having a bench at the end of a bed. I also think a chair to read, or to sit in to use the computer, or to chat on the phone is great. I threw in two ottomans because I like putting my feet up on a pouf, personally, and this Moroccan inspired ottoman is just so pretty, I couldn't resist. Annie mentioned that she will have a large closet, but this dresser has a top that could be used as a vanity, which I love. Hang that to-die-for mirror above the vanity for a beautiful combination.

Pops of color: I like the idea of color in an area rug and pillows. These are easily switched out should your tastes change. You could also add a throw at the end of the bed, some colorful trays to corral loose objects and items on the vanity, a vase, prints on the wall, the list goes on. Annie mentioned having blue in the room somewhere, and I could see some ginger jars looking beautiful somewhere.

So, how'd we do?