Tuesday, March 11, 2014

20 Strangers Kiss for the First Time in First Kiss

This beautiful video is so awkwardly cute. Directed by filmmaker Tatia Pilieva, First Kiss chronicles the brief encounter between pairs of strangers just as they're about to kiss for the first time. It totally helps that the 20 strangers chosen are really good looking, but I was smiling during the entire thing - from the first shy hello, to the nervous giggles and jokes to break the tension ("What's your name again?"), to that hot moment when they just go for it. And even though they were two strangers when they embarked on this experiment, it's clear that the connection lingered for the minutes that followed the encounter. After the first kiss was over, some remained close to their partners either in mutual embarrassment or shared triumph or they hugged in order to cling to that moment for just a bit longer.

What were your first kisses like?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Back Home


So we've just returned from our trip to Chicago and man, what a fun time we had out there. We managed to fill our four days with hours of walking through the city's impressive architecture, trying to stay warm, hanging out with friends and stuffing ourselves with some aaah-mazing food (including repeat trips to a couple spots because even though our time was limited, we just couldn't get enough of them). While I don't think we packed in a boatload of to do's into this trip, it still feels like we covered a lot of ground. A. and I are fairly laid-back travelers and while I do like to have some idea of things to see and do in a new city, we're also happy just roaming around and seeing what interesting things we stumble upon. A. said that other people would probably find us boring since we're not going to shows or out drinking and dancing, but I just think that we have the ability to be deeply entertained no matter where we go together.

I'll be sharing some photos from our latest adventure this week!

P.S. In honor of International Women's Day, which was March 8, Oh My! Handmade Goodness has created a list of 50 Women Who Inspire & Inform and they've included me! It's crazy considering how many wonderful women who've inspired me these last few years are right there alongside me. I'm very honored and have been browsing through the list and finding other survivors and creative entrepreneurs that I need to add to my collection of badass women I need to know.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dead Flower Arrangements


For my birthday/housewarming a couple months ago, my sister gifted me a beautiful amaryllis flower that has been blooming and blooming and stems are still shooting out from this little pot. I don't know how many more are hiding beneath the soil, but I've been enjoying all the color it's brought into our kitchen. Unfortunately, it's also brought in a bunch of gnats and A. wants me to get rid of the source of the problem, but I'm hoping that now that the buggies have died down a bit, we can keep our leafy pet.

As the flowers bloom and dry, I've been collecting them into a little arrangement of sorts. It might not look so fresh, but after seeing the pile of dried petals on the table, I just couldn't bear to throw them away.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Love the Pain As Much As the Glory


A few weeks ago I read an interesting article about the pain it takes to reach success. Essentially it said that while it's easy to say, "I want to be rich/fit/happy," it's the pain it takes to attain those goals that you should focus on. Everyone wants the rewards, but can you handle the hard work and pain it takes to achieve them?

Try and try as I do to make some fitness routine stick, eventually I fall off track and run in the opposite direction. Oh I'd love to have toned arms like Michelle Obama and tighter abs, but I've never been one to crave working out except for the occasional jog to clear my mind. It doesn't help that I've never needed to hit the gym because I've always been petite (sorry, please don't hate me), but I'm fearful of the Gain Weight Once You Move In With Your Boyfriend Syndrome. It's only been three months and I've already gained four and a half pounds. Now it's not that I don't want to gain weight - in fact, I need to - but I've been trying to gain six pounds since 2009 with no luck and now…four and a half in three months.

I tell myself it's because I'm calmer. Now that I'm not schlepping back and forth, commuting between A.'s place and mine, the food has a chance to stick. Hell, I have more time to eat all day because I'm stationary. And that's where the danger comes in: working from home, sitting at my desk, and making constant trips into the pantry for snacks is really not going to do any wonders for my expanding thighs. So last week A. and I started a new fitness routine in the hopes of motivating each other to work out regularly.

Mornings are for yoga. We wake up early and head on over to our mats, which seem to have become a permanent part of the decor since they just remain on the living room floor. I'd joined the DoYouYoga.com 30-Day Yoga Challenge last month and so my inbox is filled with their daily videos of 10-15 minute routines. It's a great way to shake off the sleep, wake those muscles up and feel ready to tackle the day. For a longer, more intense workout, we use my Pocket Yoga app, which is good for weekend mornings when we have more time for a deeper workout.

Evenings are for P90X, the intense strength-building regimen that manages to kick my ass even though I can't even do half the things these super fit workout junkies can do. We've gone from working out zero times a day to twice a day and after working on our legs this weekend, I'm so feeling the burn and I like it. It means I did the work and improvements will eventually come. My goal is to stick with it so that the weight I do gain is converted into muscle rather than fat and to build upper body strength. The yoga will serve me well with flexibility, core strength and muscle tone. And I guess it would be kind of cool to get into pretzel position without breaking my neck in the process.

What fitnessy things have you been doing lately? A. and I have been tracking our progress on this free printable goal chart I downloaded from Creature Comforts and color in each day depending on whether we worked out or not. Our reward if March is mostly blue at the end of the month: Urban S'mores from Max Brenner and I cannot wait for that delicious victory treat.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

So What's Really Good with Scandal?


After years of being nudged by everyone to jump on the Scandal bandwagon, I finally gave the show a chance this weekend (and dragged A. along for the ride). While the first season was pretty interesting with its twists, fast-paced timing, and "What the hell with happen next??", now that we're in season 2, we're rather...meh. The writing isn't exactly astounding and, frankly, Grey's Anatomy (writer Shonda Rhimes' first show) had more depth than this. I'll still watch because I'd love to get explanations at some point, but I just don't get what all this hype is about. Kerry Washington is still a rock star in my book, but her character Olivia Pope loses a few points with me when all she has to do is call up her Presidential Boyfriend to step in when her ass is on the wire. With everything so "high-stakes," it's a little mind-boggling and unbelievable that everything manages to wrap itself up neatly by each episode's end.

Do you watch Scandal? Why do you love it? And don't you dare spoil anything for me!

Image: hollywoodreporter.com

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Windy City Bound


First off, hi! Hello! I'm here! February started up and I just got a stream of Porcupine Hugs orders to package and ship away in time for Valentine's Day. And then…well, then I don't even know what happened to the rest of the month. I've been hacking away at work, hanging out with friends, making homemade marshmallows, getting back into calligraphy and using my Wacom, and planning out new designs and products to release on the shop this year. So while things may have been a bit quiet on the blog front, trust that I've been doing lots behind the scenes. (Just take a peek at my Instagram feed.)

I've also starting planning a trip to Chicago with A. He's heading there for a one-day business conference and I'll be tagging along to explore the Windy City for the first time with him. I'm excited because it was supposed to be a stop on our road trip back in 2012, but in the end the group decided that hauling an RV into the city would not be a good idea.

I've already fielded some suggestions from friends and followers via social media:

- Burlesque show at the Wiggle Room
- Dinner at The Girl and the Goat and Scoozi
- An architecture boat tour (but unfortunately we're visiting right before the season reopens)
- Deep dish pizza at Giordano's
- The Shedd Aquarium
- Shopping along the Magnificent Mile and strolling through Millennium Park
- A drink at the top of the John Hancock Center
- Munch on the Chicago Mix (caramel + cheddar cheese) at Garrett Popcorn

The fact that it's still snowing around these parts makes me wonder just how frigid it'll be in Chicago when we arrive. We love to walk everywhere, but it might be uncomfortable if the wind is cutting up our face the whole time. Perhaps we'll spend our time hopping from one eatery to the next?

Have you ever been to Chicago? If so, I'd love to hear your recommendations on places to see and things to do!

Image: flickr.com

Friday, February 7, 2014

Wall Décor for the Home

Now that we're all settled in and the major pieces of furniture have been bought, I've started thinking about what to hang on our bare walls. Aside from photos from our travels and our families, we want to have some fun art on display that add some needed color to our rooms and serve as conversation starters. I didn't grow up in an artsy household so I never really bought into the whole art collecting thing - until A. and I walked by a SoHo gallery in December and were immediately mesmerized by Peter Lik's The Sentinel hanging on the storefront. We could have stared at it for hours and wanted so much to take it home, but alas, $9,000 is way more than we can afford.

Below are a few prints and wall décor that have been collecting in my bookmarks folder over the last month and are much much more gentle on my wallet. I just discovered The EveryGirl's prints and I'm kinda obsessed! And I'm really hoping that Congo Studio restocks her shop soon, because I was so disappointed to see that the "Some Things Take Time" print had been sold. As for Emily McDowell, the woman has been on absolute fire lately, getting tons of buzz left and right, and am excited to attend her meet and greet at Pink Olive this Saturday!


1. Anek Plums print | 2. Felicita Sala Maple Apple Cake Illustrated Recipe | 3. Anek Wine Anatomy | 4. Cute Stencils Geometric Triangle Wall Stencils | 5. My Igloo Shop "In My Kitchen" | 6. Red Raven Studios Porcelain Envelope


7. My Little Pixels Beach Set | 8. Alicia Bock "Floating on a Cloud" | 9. Paperchat Shoppe Treat Yo Self | 10. My Little Pixels Nautical Set


11. Jessica Illustration World Map for Dennis | 12. Teacup Piranha Carpe Diem | 13. Famille Summerbelle New York Papercut | 14. Maybe Sparrow "Balloons over New York City"


15. Emily McDowell "Peter Pan" Waiting for Me | 16. Emily McDowell Strangers on the Internet | 17. Emily McDowell Though She Be But Little | 18. Congo Studio Some Things Take Time | 19. The EveryGirl Success Is Not Easy

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Manhattan's Best Coffee Shops By Subway Stops

This is genius! Butterfruit Labs has created New York Coffee Map, a free Andoid app that maps out the best coffee shops near every subway stop in Manhattan. According to the app, locations were selected based on equipment, beans, professional and customer reviews and duplicates were avoided. The majority of the spots are indie coffee houses that represent their neighborhood so I was happy to find a few that I've visited on the list: Buunni, Lalo, Indian Road, Chipped Cup, and Java Girl. It's definitely giving me the itch to grab my MetroCard and check out some of their other picks.

Manhattanites, do you agree with their choices?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Guide to Upper East Side Eateries


When A. lived in the Upper East Side, we used to eat out a lot. A LOT. That has completely changed since moving in together and while I'm happy that we're cooking every day and saving money, sometimes I miss some of our old haunts and dishes. Below, a list of our favorite restaurants in the Upper East Side.

BURGERS

Brgr - I've lost count of the times we've eaten here and fully admit to dining here multiple times a week. The burgers are just so so good and the fries are just as delicious. It's a pain for me to get to now, but I still dream of making my way over for a Down on the Farm burger. Mmmm, they got me hooked on fried eggs on burgers!

Bareburger - This place prizes itself on serving organic and all-natural fare.

Shake Shack - The lines might be crazy at Shake Shack, especially when the weather is nice, but it's worth it. I like that the burgers are not huge so I don't feel so disgusting after wolfing one down and their crimped fries, lemonades, and shakes are also quite tasty.


DIN DIN

Honky Tonk Tavern - This was our go-to place when we wanted to meet someone for drinks. The nice thing is that along with some great frozen margaritas, they also had a menu filled with yummy Tex-Mex offerings like pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, burgers, and quesadillas.

Blockheads - A.'s spot for a tasty chicken quesadilla.

Chirping Chicken - This was some good and juicy charcoal broiled chicken.

The Meatball Shop - Huge Meatball Shop fan here especially of their arugula and apple salad and classic beef sliders with parmesan cream. The UES location is the latest shop in this growing chain.

Fresh Basil's - We'd order penne pasta with shrimp and share the meal because it was so much food. We'd also argue over who's eating more shrimpies than the other so maybe we should've just forked over the money for two.


ASIAN

Fatty Fish - This Asian restaurant can serve up a mean sushi roll, but I can count on one finger the number of times I ordered something than the Kobe beef burger and sesame fries. So good!

Ginza - Oh Ginza, how I loved and miss your perfect little Gyoza dumplings, miso soup, and fried rice. The sushi was quite nice, too.

Ahana - This was a newcomer in the months preceding our move and an instant favorite. A., who is picky with his General Tso's chicken was really pleased with his dish, and I, who's super picky about my Gyoza dumplings, finally found a closer restaurant that could compete with Ginza.

Yakitori Torishin - This was an experience that you need to try at least once. With the Chef's Omakase menu you'll spend a couple hours feasting on a steady stream of skewered meats and veggies grilled to perfection. Ten little plates filled with the chef's selection of fresh produce and meats of the day will really fill you up (before being served chicken and eggs over rice, soup, and sorbet!) and send you home beyond satisfied.

Lilli and Loo - Aside from dumplings, noodles are another food I could probably eat every day and not tire of it.

Dai Hachi Sushi - Another one of A.'s favorites for sushi.

Wong Finest Asian Cuisine - This was our go-to place for some greasy Chinese food.

The Nuaa - I held my birthday at this restaurant last year shortly after it opened its doors. They get you hooked as soon as you sit down with this shot of mysterious yummy delicious soup paired with an orange juice chaser to cleanse your palate before your entrée. And I always find myself staring at the carvings on their wall decor.


LATIN

El Porrón - Fiending for amazing tapas and good wine? Head to this dimly-lit romantic spot to get filled up with so much savory goodness. Don't miss the calamari in garlic sauce, Spanish veal meatballs, and the jamón serrano on toasted garlic bread.

Rosa Mexicano - Sometimes a girl is just craving a plate of short ribs with rice and black beans and a molcajete full of guacamole made fresh right at your table.

Aprovecho - Good for a quick empanada to go.


BRUNCH

Cascabel Taqueria - Yummy Mexican style brunch that includes choices like eggs benedict on corn bread with chorizo or carnets, chilaquiles with chicken and fried egg, and my favorite, huevos revueltos in green sauce. Don't forget the ancho chili-infused hot chocolate.

Johnny Foxes - Brunch in a bar setting so you know those mimosas taste good.

Barking Dog - At some point in the past year, I became obsessed with eggs benedict for brunch. This place has one of the best ones I've tasted in the area.

Yorkville Crêperie - Whether you opt for a dessert crêpe or choose a savory one, it'll be such a delight for your taste buds. My top pick: the Fungi crêpe with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, ricotta, caramelized onions and mozzarella, a house favorite.

Silver Star - A pretty standard diner that never ceased to amaze me with their expansive menu. Too bad I always stuck to the same dishes I loved. The California omelette wrap is a must-try.

Ritz Diner - The first time A. and I ordered curly fries from this diner, we devoured them in a matter of minutes and then wondered where the hell they all went. And as an orange juice snob, their fresh squeezed juice is very delicious.

Big Daddy's - The place oozes 1980s vibe and serves up tasty American foods like burgers, crispy tater tots, and thick milkshakes.


SWEET TREATS

Dylan's Candy Bar - You'll find any candy imaginable here (like gummy bears separated by color!) along with nostalgic faves.

Baked by Melissa - I went crazy for their bite-sized cupcakes when they first opened years ago and they've been steadily spreading throughout the city. How happy was I when they opened a shop in the Upper East Side last year?

Wafels & Dinges - While they have trucks that spread their waffly goodies around the city, you'll usually find one stationed at the south east end of Central Park.

Maison du Chocolat - It's always nice to treat yourself to something fancy - even if it's just a little bite.

Godiva - Last summer, A. and I decided to indulge a bit and buy their Godiva milk chocolate shake with chocolate chunks. Oh my sweet, sweet Lord…so good without being overkill.

Hot & Crusty - The chocolate rugelach from here received top marks from A.


COFFEE SHOPS

Gotham - A good place to bring over the laptop and get some work done while lunching on hot panini.

Java Girl - If you want a more intimate vibe with cushioned seats and tiny tables, head over here.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How Hard Would You Try to Have a Child?


Because taking my breast cancer medication means I can't get pregnant for the next four years, I find myself thinking about children a lot. I wonder if I'll have a boy or a girl. I wonder what we'll end up naming them. Will I have one or try for two? Mostly I wonder if I'll have any issues trying to conceive at the age of 36.

When my oncologist said I could look into freezing my eggs to use after my treatment is complete, I knew that wasn't really an option for me. When you have student loans to pay off, medical bills stacking up, dreams and a savings account to fund, that leaves little money left for a gamble. It costs $10,000 to $15,000 to harvest and freeze a batch of eggs, $500 to keep storing them each year, and then another few thousand to undergo in vitro fertilization. Conception is not guaranteed. Adoption fees are also no small investment either so it brings up the question: how badly do I want a child?

It's a discussion that A. and I have had a few times. We both agree that we don't want to go broke in order to have a baby, but who knows how we'll feel years from now. If you ask any of the elders in my family, they'll say the same thing: your life isn't complete until you have a child. The mentality is frightening especially when you consider folks who've had kids when they could barely sustain their own lives or that welfare is their answer to my hesitance over the financial burden.

Whether it's money spent to conceive or money spent to raise a child, I don't want to go into debt for this, but I still dream of holding our child in my arms, teaching them all we know, and watching them grow and play in this world. Would I be okay if I discovered that I couldn't conceive? Probably. I'd be sad, but I also hope I could grow to accept that fact, consider alternatives that are within my means, and live on. A. keeps joking about the two of us becoming DINKs (dual income, no kids) to which I reply absolutely not. At least I'm not ready to throw in the towel before the races have even begun. We'll see how our story plays out down the line and hope that our toughest decision is simply agreeing on a baby name.

What about you? How hard would you try to have a child? Would you invest all you could into making your dream happen?

P.S. "Do you find you are not yet ready to obliterate any chance you have left to enjoy life to its fullest? Then try Not Having Kids!"

And have you met Theo and Beau? If not, here's their story (and how they're growing up so fast). Aren't they the cutest things ever?

Image: instagram.com