I have been blogging since I was eighteen years old, away at school for the first time using LiveJournal. The only people who read my blog were a handful of friends I had grown up with, scattered around New York state mostly. I put the link on my AOL instant messenger profile, or wrote the URL down on scraps of paper for people who expressed interest.
Now it's 2018, and everything is different. We create a story with what we post, and people spend so much time and effort creating a narrative for themselves, for others to consume. It's a way of telling everyone we know, have known, or may never know, what our worth is. How cool we are, what we are into, and how successful we are, are all conveyed in Instagram and Facebook posts.
I remember a friend asking me in 2003 if I though it was self-aggrandizing to have a blog. Why assume that you are so interesting that people would want to read about you and your life? Now everyone has a little digital space, on so many platforms, where we can learn about them. People follow YouTube vloggers instead of television dramas.
I'm not saying any of this is bad. For the most part, Instagram is a source of inspiration and gratitude for me. I've hear it being described as bragging, vapid, or a poor reflection of one's actual life. And I do agree that people tend to neglect the difficult moments. No one posts a selfie where they are crying over insurmountable bills or loneliness. I am guilty of this.
The more distance I put between myself and blogging, the harder it became to write in this format. I would make excuses about having to find more direction or revamping my site first, before anyone saw my writing again. At the same time, I was writing for magazines, newspapers, blogs (other than my own), and clients, so I wasn't ignoring writing entirely. I started a new business where I take care of pets (linked in the PET CARE tab above) that took off more quickly than I could have imagined it would.
Since my last post in spring 2016, I have gotten to know myself more. I learned to embrace my time alone. I have traveled to amazing places and overworked myself to the point of tears. I have surrounded myself with beautiful people I would do anything for, and learned from toxic relationships, people who took advantage of my optimism and desire to help. Not a week went by in that time that I did not think about blogging, capturing those moments, feelings, and revelations. I love the low-risk nature of writing online and I miss sharing with people. As for when my next blog will come, I don't know. I would love to commit but life moves extremely fast these days. I do know this, I will enjoy every single moment of this little life.
First off, I cannot believe I haven't posted on here since March. I have been busy, but more than that, I have been neglectful and lazy. And now it's time for another bi-monthly favorites. How embarrassing to have two back to back! Anyway, I have been keeping a running list of my favorite things from the past few months.
I had been wanting to try out the Beauty Blender for quite some time, but when JAS Naturals offered to send me one of their makeup blenders, I decided to try it out. I didn't have really high hopes since it was a dupe. I was pleasantly surprised with how absolutely wonderful this makeup blender really is. I loved the way it buffed foundation into my skin, making it look as though I was not wearing any foundation at all. It's so gentle because you wet the sponge and ring out the excess water. I love how it does not tug at my skin and provides a great application. Streaks are a huge pet peeve of mine, which is why I usually stay away from foundation brushes. This is an absolute must have!
I know, a cell phone holder or stand is not a revolutionary invention, but it's handy as f*ck. I use this little guy every day. I love the walnut finish, and that it's bentwood. It just looks mid-century modern. I have another larger version for my nook. For the past couple of years, I have had very large phones (I currently have the iPhone 6 plus) and this stand is not too small. I imagine it would work well for smaller phones, too. I use this when I am in my kitchen cooking dinner or washing dishes and want to watch a video. It's great for FaceTime or video chatting, too. When I take a bath, I'll prop my cell phone in this. Sometimes I'm multitasking with multiple screens and having my phone in the holder is handy. Also, if you take conference calls on your cell phone, this acts as a nice secure place. For $7, you can't really go wrong.
This album came out in October 2015, but I didn't hear about it until late December when they were featured on NPR's Tiny Desk Series. El Vy features a member from The National, which is one of my favorite bands, and one from Ramona Falls. The sound is related to The National, but more poppy and upbeat, with some similar low-key interludes. Matt Berninger has one of the sexiest voices I have ever heard. It's low, gritty, effortless, and just so damn gorgeous. He's also super nice. I met him at the 2014 Riot Fest in Toronto when I was backstage. I also got to see El Vy in Niagara Falls, NY on May 1st and they played a great set--all of their songs and a really funny cover of Technotronic's "Pump up the Jam." They were chatty and put on a great show.
I know this link says season 7, but I effectively binged on seasons 2-8 of RuPaul's Drag Race during the months of March and April. I would have watched season 1 but I could not find it anywhere on the interwebs. I watched seasons 2-3 and 8 on Amazon, and seasons 4-7 and All Stars on Hulu. Let me tell you, this show is amazing. I knew very little about the drag world before watching this show. I had seen Paris is Burning in a Critical Theory class in college, but did not really connect with it or remember much of it. Now, over ten years later, I am amazed by the pure artistry of drag. Not only that, but the stories of what these queens overcame is really beautiful. Tonight is the season 8 finale and I cannot wait to see who will join some of my favorites in the winner's circle!
I have been LIVING in these shoes, ever since I purchased them in January. I have small feet so I was able to get away with the children's version and saved myself some money. Even at the adult price, these are worth it. They are lightweight, comfortable, and perfect for running. I have also been wearing them when I know I am going to be on my feet for a long period of time. For my birthday I traveled up to Toronto and walked for miles exploring the city. I am so happy that I wore these shoes. They're also so sleek and minimalist. I think they're the perfect chic city girl sneaker. Shout out to my girl Kayta for introducing me to them; she has the best style.
I've been toying with the idea of doing a favorite-style blog series for a while now and have decided to commit to doing a bi-monthly post. Most of January was spent on the West Coast with only a suitcase and a backpack of personal belongings, so some of these favorites traveled with me there or were discovered on my trip. Let's get started.
My friend Katya, whom I spent half of my trip in California with, was batting her beautiful, full lashes and I just HAD to find out what she was wearing! She told me she had gotten the Stila Huge Mascara in an Ipsy glam bag and loved it. Once I got home, I caved and bought one for myself (which is fine considering I've had my Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara for way past its expiration date). I am loving the volume in this formula. It's very build-able and actually rivals the Better Than Sex mascara. I'm still deciding which one is better, but it's definitely in my top two!
A good shower head can completely change your entire bathroom. Most people who know me know that I am much more of a bath person. I don't love showers the way I love baths. Baths are just so relaxing. But, I never knew how amazing showers could feel with a great rain shower head. This soaks whole body with so many streams of water. It feels incredible. Not only that, but this shower head has a water-proof Bluetooth speaker so you can listen to music, podcasts, or audio books while you shower! And you can hear everything perfectly, unlike if you had a speaker outside your shower. You would have to blast it to hear anything. The sound is so clear. It makes showering that much more enjoyable, especially since I get to utilize my Audible and Spotify accounts. It's the future, baby!
When I told my friend Nicholas that I was listening to this album on repeat, I don't think he believed me. The thing is, I don't listen to rap. Or hip-hop. I don't have an issue with it, but it's just never something I was drawn to, kind of like jazz. I first got interested in Nicki Minaj when I saw a documentary on her on cable (MTV maybe?) and I thought she was just so rad. She's a feminist, body positive, and super talented. She just seems like an awesome lady. When I listened to her music, I was blown away by her flow. She's so fast! She stands up for herself and I really enjoy the accents she uses and her intonation. Bravo, Nicki. Thanks for introducing me to rap.
When I was choosing a book to bring with me on my three week trip, I decided that a big book would be better than bringing a bunch of small books. I'm really glad that I decided on this one (at close to 800 pages). I really loved the narration in this book, the story it told, and the characters Tartt created. It was in no way predictable and there were so many parts that I could absolutely relate to, despite different circumstances. I like epic books that take you on a long road, and that is what this book did. It was beautiful and refreshing. I plan on reading Donna Tartt's The Secret History sooner than later.
I bought these boots two years ago and they have been the best all-weather boots I have ever had. They work great in Buffalo winters with frigid temperatures and icy surfaces--just add some thick socks and you're good to go. They were great in winter L.A. weather (60's and 70's Fahrenheit) because my feet didn't heat up too much and they looked cool with leggings, skinny jeans, or tights. And they held up against the Portland rain, keeping my feet dry. These couldn't be more versatile! My cousin, Lauren, her friend, Melissa, and I were all wearing these shoes and someone even pointed it out to us while we were having brunch. I think they look super cool (even though my sister calls them 'murder boots'), very 90's grunge.
Amvets, which is my local thrift store donating profits to the American Veterans, does annual 50% sales and so on February 13th (aka Galentine's Day) I went hunting for treasures. I knew I wanted black jeans. I didn't have any that fit me at the moment, so I pulled a bunch to try on and I ended up with these awesome Calvin Klein jean leggings! They are the perfect amount of denim and stretch. These are so flattering, just awesome to wear with a blouse or a t-shirt. And they're super comfortable. They look exactly like jeans, too! I have been wearing mine (which I got for $4!) nonstop. Depending on your size, they are not outrageous online. The above link has a number of sizes. Who knew Calvin Klein jeans would actually be so good?
Really, that's been my attitude for most of my life: f*ck Valentine's. I hate the consumerism of it all and the overarching theme that life is not complete without a significant other. Even when I have been in a relationship during Valentine's, it's often with someone who does not like being told when to buy flowers or go out to dinner with me. It reinforces traditional gender roles and just makes people feel super jealous of everyone else. I know ladies who don't log onto social media on February 14th because they really don't want to see pictures of the ornate floral arrangements and jewels earned by being in a relationship.
On the other side, I love all of the gifts that Valentine's Day offers. Flowers? I love flowers. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to them. Chocolates? Yes, please! I don't think I would completely trust someone who did not like chocolate. Jewelry? Yup. I like that, too. As long as it fits my taste of course (generally speaking minimal or with a vintage flair). And anyone who knows me knows that my natural habitat is my bathtub. I love bath goodies.
So, ladies and gentlemen, why not treat yourself to your favorite Valentine's Day? Have a "you day" and don't even bother worrying about spending a little bit of your hard earned cash on yourself. Buy yourself a bottle of wine, draw a bubble bath, and eat cake for dinner. Buy yourself flowers because you love them, and you deserve beautiful things. Eat take away from your favorite place and download or Redbox a movie that you have been wanting to watch. Treat yourself as well as you would someone you love, because you should love yourself.
Pictured above: a plant (I love plants just as much as flowers, by the way) I smuggled in from Ikea Canada, chocolates from Lagusta's Luscious, Beauty by Earth Bath Bomb in Relaxing Detox, and a minimal silver circle necklace. I have added some more inspiration with links and comments below. Enjoy your special day with your ultimate Valentine: yourself.
I had been lusting over the West Elm Metallic Cord Set for quite some time, when it occurred to me that I may be able to find something similar on Etsy. After a little bit of poking around, I found the shop Vintage Wire. It had copper cords and sockets at killer prices (just $13 for the cord and $8 for the socket). Not only that, but it had a wide selection of Edison-style bulbs starting at $6. I already had an antler that would work well as a sconce and mounting adhesive from another home project. Along with shipping, the entire order cost me about $30 (versus the $49 West Elm cord set, $29 sconce $10 bulb, and $14 shipping...in sum, $102!).
Screw, or pry off the bottom of the socket. You'll see two screws. Loosen those and set aside.
Locate the wires on the cord and remove cloth material about half an inch. String the bottom of the socket through the wire.
Strip the wires. Grab the top part of the socket and wrap the exposed wires around the screws, then tighten the screws. Screw the bottom part of the socket to the top.
Screw (again, lots of that in this tutorial) the bulb into the socket and plug it in to test it. The bulb should illuminate.
Add mounting adhesive to the sconce and adhere to wall.
Step 6: Wrap cord around antler and you're all set!
All in all, the most difficult part was stripping the wires (step three). The tutorial I read online did not specify exactly how to strip wires, so I used a scissor to shave the rubber off the wire until I exposed the copper. I'm sure there is a much easier way to do this, but that's what I came up with, given my supplies and experience.
I really think this industrial copper pendant light looks awesome. I am super proud of it and really happy that I got what I wanted (dare I say, better than what I wanted?) for way less money. Pendant lights also allow for me to save room on my bedside table, which is great, since I do not have a lot of space.
Total time spent: 30 minutes
Total amount saved: $76.55
You may have noticed a new section at the top of this website that links you to an Etsy shop...my new Etsy shop! I am so excited to begin this journey. I have toyed around with the idea of opening a vintage shop for quite some time, but have only become serious about pursing this for the past couple of months. During that time, I have been planning, shopping, creating a shop name and logo, as well as overall aesthetic. Then comes the photography and the research. There is quite a bit that comes into it.
A small collection of about ten items are up right now, but more will be coming soon. I have some shopping trips planned and am hoping to recruit live models in the future.
I love vintage clothing. I started getting into thrifting in college and I have a decent personal collection. I feel very fortunate to be able to curate a collection for others who have less time, energy, and resources to sift through thrift stores.
My friend Sheena, who owns Ruby Threads Vintage has been really helpful and supportive in this whole process. She has answered a lot of my questions and walked me through how she has grown her business. I also read #Girlboss, which is by no means a "how to start a business" book, but it has a lot of insight and was encouraging to read.
I encourage you to stop in to the shop periodically and to follow my account on Instagram (@214Broadway), where I will post pictures of some of my best thifting finds. Here's to new adventures!
Halloween just might be my favorite holiday. I work up to it in the same way that people do for Christmas. I watch scary movies and television shows. This year I have been reading a lot of creepy books in October (The Graveyard Book, The Devil in the White City, Psycho), which will undoubtedly turn up in in a #2015readingchallenge recap. Whenever possible, I decorate. I go to haunted houses and corn mazes. When I was a child, I was unusually into witches, ghosts, and the supernatural. I just love this holiday.
I did not want to have to buy a bunch of stuff I would never use again for my Halloween costume, and being a moderate francophile, I came upon the idea of a French mime. The only extra makeup I had to purchase was the white foundation, and the only clothing that I needed was a bib, beret, and gloves, all of which I purchased on Etsy from vintage sellers. I paired it with a striped gray and black sweater, black pants, and black ballet flats.
For the makeup, I began with a clean face, popped in my contact lenses, and pulled back my bangs. Because I do not want my makeup rubbing off, I began with a primer (I used the ELF primer) then I used the Manic Panic Virgin Dreamtone Gothic Foundation in Vampire White. I found that with this foundation, I had to build it up, applying about three layers. To achieve a more opaque white, I would use this as a primer and follow it up with the Manic Panic "Goth White" Powder Cream foundation.
Since my brows are dark, the foundation alone did not conceal them. I decided that instead of drawing brows on higher than my natural brow pattern, I would accentuate what I had using the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper. I gave them a worried expression. Next, I tight-lined my eyes (lined the inner water line of my eyes, top and bottom) with Smashbox eyeliner and added a Harlequin style lip with a bright red Stila lip stain, I also used the tattoo liner around the border of my white face makeup (which I tied up with coconut oil).
Since this is a trial run, I decided to try out two eye looks to see what would work best. I learned that my liner pen did not work super well over the foundation. I also tried the Smashbox pencil eyeliner, and that did not work too well for details either. After all of that trial and error, I found that black eye shadow applied with a brush worked best. I used an ELF eye shadow and a peach colored blush in a circle at the center of my cheeks from the same palette. I topped the look off with some of my favorite mascara (Too Faced's Better Than Sex).
A good tip is to reference photos on Pinterest to help come up with looks. Trials, like this one, are always great because they allow you to see what works and what does not. I am in no way a makeup artist, but I find this stuff really fun, and that's what Halloween is about.
Because I am against animal testing, all of the makeup I used is cruelty-free. Even though I love scary shit, I am in no way interested in the cruel practice of animal testing. I hope you have a fun and safe Halloween. What are you planning on dressing up as for Halloween?
Though I have been reading at a ferocious pace, I have not kept up with posting about the books I've been reading for this challenge (see Part 1 for more information). That means, this post is a double edition: 20 books! These were read in a little less than two months. I'm hoping I will be able to keep up the pace and read all 54 for the challenge.
Pages read thus far: 8045
Even with my recent obsession with aromatherapy diffusers, I still hold a special place in my heart for candles. That warm, burning light, crackles, and aroma that fills the whole room, it's something so simple and so beautiful.
I've always loved candles. They were a luxury, like most things, when I was young. I have graduated from cheap, quick burning candles to quality small-batch artisanal candles. Candles with warmth and depth of aroma are my favorite. I like woodsy blends, nothing too sweet. Though I love vanilla, I do not like vanilla candles. I love floral accompanied by darker, musky scents.
I heard the hype associate with P.F. Candle Co., I still wanted to try it. Maybe it was because of the hype, the simple apothecary packaging, I was curious about this scent, Teakwood & Tobacco. It's deep and strong, but not overwhelming and it does not spell like a pipe room. The woodsy tobacco is perfect for a cool fall evening.
I had not heard of Frostbeard Studio candles before I was gifted a few myself. They're quite a perfect gift for me, a bibliophile and candle lover. Most of the candles are references to fantasy young adult novels, not my favorite genre, but I am definitely not a stranger. This scent, Bookstore is a blend of mahogany, leather, coffee, and driftwood meant to imitate the look and feel of bookstores. It's a beautiful, earthy scent. I have also burned Oxford Library, which I liked even more. It's a blend of leather, oakmoss, amber, and sandalwood. The brand packaging is not as classic as I would like; it's a bit too cartoonish, but I enjoy the product nonetheless.
Linwood Candle Co. is a relatively new candle brand, born in Buffalo with great aesthetic and fantastic aroma blends. I discovered Linwood via their gorgeous Instagram. It's important to me to support Buffalo businesses. The people in Buffalo are so creative and talented. The arts community is inspiring. Most of the artists in Buffalo also have other jobs, so they really hustle for their art. Even if you were to take out my preoccupation with Buffalo goods, I can honestly say that this is my favorite candle brand. It burns so long and the aroma is on point. Linwood carries about a dozen scents. The candle that I have burning right now is Adirondack Woods. It is complex, but not overwhelming, and reminds me of my childhood growing up in the Adirondacks. Like a perfume, it has top. middle, and base notes. The top notes are fruity, middle notes are floral, and base notes are woodsy. It's an inspiring blend. I have also tried the lavender tea lights, and even with a single note, the candles are just as lovely. It's clear that their fragrance and aromatherapy oils are quality.
What are some of your favorite artisanal candle companies?
Admittedly, I had a late start to this reading challenge. I have been sick, on and off, and traveling. Normally, traveling is great for reading, but when I went to Puerto Rico in February, I left my book on the plane. I was so frustrated. It was A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra and I was over a hundred pages into it.
In late spring/early summer, I got more into the swing of my book challenge. I will list these in the order in which they were read. While I read some earlier this year, the majority were completed fairly recently.
Pages read thus far: 3,080
A Book with Bad Reviews:
Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" by Lena Dunham
I was excited when I heard that this book was coming out. I had read some of her stories in the New Yorker and watch the HBO show, "Girls," all of which I've enjoyed. Unfortunately, the book was not that interesting to me. It felt sort of slapped together. Some stories were better than others. I think Dunham is a talented writer when she takes the time and energy to write something really telling about characters or situations, but those instances were few and far between in this book. She's producing so much content all the time that I wonder if insight has escaped her. Overall, I'd give it a 2.5/5 because it was well written, interesting, and there were brief moments of insight.
A Book that Scares You:
The Art of Dying: by S.N. Goenka
I do not usually read spiritual books, or books about a particular lifestyle. I was raised Roman Catholic, grew up to be an Atheist-leaning Agnostic, vegan, liberal lady who is stubborn as it gets. Reading about religion or spirituality honestly scares me. I had heard quite a bit about Vipassana meditation because Rivers Cuomo from Weezer practices it, as does my acupunturist, Ashlyn Pardee. I try not to always have the "I am right" outlook, but I do, especially when it comes to religion. However, meditation has always seemed like something I could benefit from, and would really like to try, despite its spiritual ties. The stories in this book are about people near death, or written by close friends or family of a dying Vipassana practitioner. The stories were very insightful and its clear that ideology changed with each person who began practicing this type of meditation. It won't cure what ails you, but it will teach you a way to experience life and death in an arguably more comfortable way. I enjoyed the book, but I think the only way to really know if it works for you is by attending a retreat, of which there are many. I am considering signing up for one. I would give this book a 3/5.
A Book that was Originally Written in a Different Language:
Norwegian Wood by Haruku Murakami
When I posted a picture of this book on Instagram, my friend Aimee told me that he's her favorite author and this book is different than any of his others. It's a love story, and it's sad. It's beautifully written. Some critics have drawn parallels between the author and protagonist. I enjoyed the book. Would I read it again? Probably not. There was not an intimacy between the reader and the world/characters in this novel to make it especially powerful. Perhaps it's the translation. Maybe the story was not compelling enough to me, personally. I enjoyed it, and I could see how this novel would be an earlier novel for a writer who would later garner accomplishment with a major, critically acclaimed novel. This book earns a 3.25/5 from me.
A Nonfiction Book:
Bad Feminist by Roxanna Gay
I really wanted to love this book. I'm a feminist, and I'm always looking for more perspectives and insight. Though she recognizes her imperfect position as a feminist, enjoying rap music that also degrades women, I found this book to be a patchwork of contemporary media analysis with a gender and race perspective. It looks like these essays were written for conferences and pieced together into a book with themed segments. Nothing was particularly insightful, and her analysis of media like The Hunger Games was boring and rudimentary. Maybe I enjoy a historical perspective better, or sociological, anthropological.... I was just so bored by this book. I would give it a 1/5.
A Book You Can Finish in a Day
One More Thing (Stories and Other Stories) by B.J. Novak
I was surprised with how genuinely witty and well-written these short stories were. The formats were varied and it was actually really inspiring. I loved it--it was strange and funny and gave you all sorts of feels. I want to read it again already. It was my favorite book read in this first part of the challenge. It gets a 5/5.
A Graphic Novel
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Book 1 by Joss Wheton
I love Buffy, so I'm a bit biased. Switching from one platform (television) to another (comics) was interesting. There were no limitations for the monsters/big bad guys, so that was cool. At the same time, I have little experience reading comics and always have a nagging sense that I'm doing it all wrong. I did enjoy this, and was left with wanting more. I give it a 3/5.
A Book that Became a Movie
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I was surprised I would like this. I still have a deep-seated book snob that lives within me, and it's tough to get her to read something that's such a recent hit over a classic novel. But, once I got her to shut up, I really enjoyed this fucked up little piece of literature. I do think that there were parts that could have been expedited. Overall, it was a really nice read. I give it a 3.5/5.
A Book by a Female Author
The First Bad Man by Miranda July
I had high hopes for Miranda July's first novel. I loved her short story collection No One Belongs Here More Than You. This novel was so highly anticipated. I liked it. But I didn't love it. The story and the characters weren't that interesting to me. The revelations that the characters had were...meh. Nothing resonated. The characters and the story is strange, but that did not deter me. It just did not seem special. It gets a 2/5.
A Funny Book
Yes Please by Amy Pohler
Sometimes when an actor or comedian writes a book, they lose their voice. The book doesn't sound like them. This was not the case with Yes Please. I could hear Amy Pohler, comedic timing and all, in this little book about life. It was a quick read and I enjoyed it. I liked it more than Tina Fey's Bossypants, even though I usually like Tina Fey's projects a little more than Pohler's, and I liked it more than Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? I think Amy Pohler showed a real sense of her true self in this book and it was a fun, lighthearted read. I give it a 4/5.
A Book Based on or Turned into a Television Show
Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman
The language in this novel is much different than I had expected. When you see the Netflix television show, you expect it to keep a certain voice. In actuality, the book is a darker and more matter-of-fact. It focuses less on the other inmates and more on Kerman. It's not completely without humor or self-actualization. The events play out in a much less dramatic way. Less happens in this book. Although I love the show, I also really enjoyed this toned-down version. You see the prison system through the eyes of a virgin criminal, and you find how it shaped her. This book gets a 3.5/5.
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