Thursday, November 27, 2014

Embracing 'No'

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your holiday is filled with lots of love, stuffing and plenty of relaxation. But if you're like most Americans, you may be feeling a bit of holiday stress. If so, I hope you're able to find some peace amid the ensuing chaos. I'm determined to keep from succumbing to holiday stress this year, and I have a strategy.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sprucing Up

The Fall edition of Domino does not disappoint. I dogeared many pages for inspiration and even ordered some the fine home furnishings featured inside. So all in all, it's a dangerous glossy, and I highly recommend picking it up :)

A few highlights:

Friday, November 21, 2014

My Kind of Crew

J. Crew is one of my go-to brands. I love J. Crew's easy, comfortable yet chic pieces. A few favorite buys include this coat, these pajamas and this scarf.

My husband also happens to be a fan, so we'e basically a J. Crew couple. In fact, our wedding featured a J. Crew tux worn by the hubby and J. Crew bridesmaids dresses adorned by my maids. We even got Vans from J. Crew for the groomsmen. The overall style was easy, elegant and fun. And decidedly us

Of course the J. Crew catalog is an absolute treat. I dog-ear lots of pages and hope my chosen items go on sale. I'm currently coveting:

Elsie Fabric Pumps
I'm not normally a shoes girl but these are just so pretty and provide the perfect pop of print and color. 

Marble Coasters
These match everything, and would look great with practically every bit of home decor

Water Bottle
I'm ashamed to admit I still sip on plastic bottles. And I drink tons of water.

Band-Aid Bandages
Yes, band-aids are on my wish list. These happen to look totally rad. And I happen to be a complete klutz. I currently have not one, not even two, but THREE self-inflicted injuries. 

Happy shopping,

[J. Crew Style Guide, December 2014]

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hector and the Search for Happiness, Francois Lelord

I just finished Hector and the Search for Happiness and I'm seeing its messages everywhere. Maybe that's because happiness is a universal message, but I'm always attuned to happiness-related information. 

Many books focus on the more mundane science of happiness. While I appreciate the facts and research behind finding lasting joy, I really enjoy learning through interesting stories. Hector's story is realistic enough and so spot on when it comes to observations about human beings. 

Hector is a French psychiatrist who sets out to see what makes people happy. He seeks wisdom beyond his studies and work experiences. He travels to Asia, Africa and North America and shares his observations along the way. Below are Hector's lessons learned while accidentally falling for a prostitute, befriending a drug trafficker, hiking with a monk and trotting across the globe. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sweet Surrender

I have a serious weakness for sweets. This isn't ideal, as sugar is proving to be poison. But as a yogi and commonsense person, I know that desserts consumed in moderation are alright. But how does one consume an addictive drug in small portions and feel A-ok? I've learned the hard/delicious way, through trial & error. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Get More Sh*t Done

I have a friend who is a super successful marketing executive. She also happens to be a fantastic chef. I'm always in awe of her work + recreational feats. Where does she find the time? It's been said that we all have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce... But does everyone get as much sh*t done as Queen Bae?

Friday, November 7, 2014

What I Love About Me

Marie Claire's "What I Love About Me" section is refreshing. Each issue the magazine spotlights a city and features local real women showing off their signature styles and sharing tidbits about what makes them feel beautiful.

The November Marie Claire focuses on San Francisco. The San Fran locals' answers to "What I Love About Me" range from "my mysterious eyes" to "my friendliness." One woman feels great about her ability to cut her own bangs. Another has "a naturally pouty mouth that looks good in every shade of lipstick." My favorite out of all the SF ladies' prized features are Krystal Bick's "dark, bold brows." Bick and I are basically soul sisters. I often get complimented on my brows. They're naturally thick and can get pretty crazy if I don't groom them, but alas, I do! I see brow specialist Maral Balian every few months and I do my best to upkeep in-between appointments. Thanks to Balian, I look presentable even without makeup. Oftentimes women comment on my brows in exercise classes. I suppose this is because most women bare their faces sans cosmetics during workouts, so these kind eyebrow admirers know mine are the real deal. In fact, my favorite barre teacher remembers me as "Amy with the great eyebrows." I love it. 


P.S. A huge thank you to my friend Alex, restauranteur and native New Yorker, for the Maral Balian introduction.

P.P.S. Check out this brow-related web read

P.P.P.S. Do you, too, find that beauticians make the best spiritual advisors?

["What I Love About Me" Marie Claire, November 2014]

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham

I finished Not That Kind of Girl in less than one week's time. It was an impressive, quick read. Lena Dunham is no doubt very smart and insightful. One slight reservation I have, however, is that much of her book's stories are the same as those depicted on her hit HBO series Girls. So readers be warned: much of Dunham's material is recycled.
That being said, Dunham is certainly courageous. Her writing is vulnerable and funny, and she candidly discusses her extreme neuroses with a refreshing comedic spin. And if you ask me, bearing your soul in print is much braver than exposing your naked body on TV -- something Dunham is (in)famous for.

A few of Dunham's essays really resonated me with me:

Falling in Love
After walking us through her first three serious-ish and ultimately doomed relationships, Dunham touches on the history of her parents' courtship. She then bounces back to relationship #3 before cryptically introducing her current Prince Charming: "Then he appeared. Gap toothed, Sculptey faced, glasses like a cartoon, so earnest I was suspicious, and so witty I was scared." She goes on to say that he and she evolved from friends to more over the next few months. But surprisingly for this notorious over-sharer, she doesn't divulge details. Dunham tells the reader that yes, she has written those sentences, but that they are hers, and she's not sharing. This portion of "Falling in Love" feels a little stingy. Why even go there if you're not going to go there? Dunham then loops back to the old boyfriends. (Yes, this particular essay is a bit circuitous.) She never really loved those first boyfriends. But she can now appreciate and love her own younger self. She ends with a retrospective, this being the portion of "Falling in Love" that touched me:
Everything has changed in a way that sounds trite and borderline offensive when recounted over coffee. I can never be who I was. I can simply watch her with sympathy, understanding, and some measure of awe. There she goes, backpack on, headed for the subway or the airport. She did her best with her eyeliner. She learned a new word she wants to try out on you. She is ambling along. She is looking for it.
'Diet' is a Four-Letter Word
When talking about body image in "'Diet' is a Four-Letter Word" Dunham includes a sample of her 2010 food diary, prefacing it by saying that this documentation "has been the most humiliating document on [her] computer." It actually doesn't seem that embarrassing to me, although she does share some intimate medical info. Maybe I just have horrendous eating tendencies and embarrassing medical issues, too. Perhaps one day I'll share my own humiliating food diary with you. In the meantime, here's a taste of Dunham's:
Late night snack: 4am
3/4 container of Fage 2% Greek Yogurt (110 calories)
raspberries (20 calories)
Breakfast: 6:30am
          Gluten free honey oat toast (120 calories)
w/ almond butter (100 calories)
30 raspberries (35 calories?)
weird orange juice/tracking liquid for cat scan (100 calories?)
5 Raisinets (38 calories)
1/4 turkey on rye bread w/ lettuce and mustard (300 calories?) 
2 bottles Teas green tea 
1/4 small container saag paneer and white rice (380 calories?)
1/2 container chocolate soy delicious ice cream (230 calories)
green tea 
Total caloric intake: approx 1,433 
Notes: Spent day in ER. Diagnosed with acute colitis. (Not the chronic kind! Maybe from the laxative tea?) Lots to say about that and I'll type it when not on jury duty. By which I mean Percocet. I meant Percocet and typed "jury duty." I think I overestimate my calories sometimes.
A Guide to Running Away
In "A Guide to Running Away," Dunham's final and most moving essay, she advises readers on how to run away at ages nine and 27. Her advice for a 27 year old looking to escape? Take a long shower, ingest pills or say you're sick. Dunham explains that she personally no longer needs to escape herself and/or her circumstances regularly. She can be in her body, especially when she's a "tool", i.e., acting as a creative outlet. (I totally get that!) Dunham also feels supported by true unconditional love: "Even when [I] cry or misbehave or show him how terrible [I am] at planning festive group outings. He seems to be there without reservation." Dunham admits that sometimes that old feeling of "being outside your body" slips back in, but she has "learn[ed] a new rule and it's simple: don't put yourself in situations you'd like to run away from."

Amen sister.

Bottom image via Nasty Gal

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Strand

I did some damage at the Strand last Tuesday. The famed bookshop happens to be on my work commute route, which is both awesome and dangerous. Books are to me as shoes are to most ladies. And having finished Not That Kind of Girl the previous week, I had been going barefoot.

So I had to stop by the "home to 18 miles of books." There was a whole shrine to Lena Dunham and her literary picks both in the store window and inside. Having been there and done that, I was drawn to an ICYM section ("in case you missed it," for those not familiar with the language of hashtags AKA my parents). It turns out I had missed The Secret History, the first novel by Donna Tartt. I loved Tartt's recent bestseller The Goldfinch, and I can't wait to dig into the author's first book.

Next I hit up the "Best of the Best" table. I picked up Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami and Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord. I'm halfway through Hector and it's fantastic. Review to come. The Strand always steers me in the right reading direction.

The Strand is always packed with browsers, but the checkout line is typically null. This probably doesn't bode well for business, but it makes the shopping experience pretty painless. (Just like stationery shopping!)

Another great thing about the Strand is that the store buys back books. I think I got about four dollars and change the last time I sold a stack of used books. You don't exactly get rich quick from selling your old tomes, but you can earn cash or store credit. And here's an insider's tip: If you select the in-store credit option, you get a 10% bonus. Even more incentive to keep purchasing bound beauties! Try finding a deal like that at your local shoe store.



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