Friday, March 25, 2011

A Girl and Her Dad

I rarely mention my dad here, but I really do owe a lot to that man because despite the ups and downs this family has faced in the last 10 years, he's there as soon as you need him. He's worked incessantly my whole life - and still does - but he's always made time for friends, for bedside visits or to drive two hours to help a stressed-out college freshman get through her first architecture project. (I should've known that was a doomed course from the start.)

He'll call 5,000 times a day and bug the hell out of me, but I secretly love that he can quickly sense when something's off and swing by for a visit. Last night he came over, bearing goodies from his grocery store, and we talked about randomness for a while: lunch, work and how important it is to save money for the future because you need to plan and have goals and blah blah blah. And even though his big kid antics are borderline annoying at times, they eventually get a smile out of me.

"You know," he started off in Spanish, "I'm really proud of the things I've accomplished. I became a citizen while knowing very little English, managed to get my own business and I have two successful daughters." [We're still working on the younger brother.]

"I don't know how you people pass that citizenship test," I muttered over my laptop screen. "That study guide is full of topics I've learned and forgotten three times over by now. Did they make you name all the Supreme Court justices and list every president?"

"Nah, they only asked a couple simple questions. What colors are on the flag? Name a few of the first states..."

"And it was all verbal?! Dad, what if you made a mistake?"

"It wasn't hard. Then they made you write out a sentence in English. I still remember it."

"Ay Dios, what was it?"

And with a giant grin he squiggles at the air in front of him and triumphantly says, "Today is cloudy."


Thursday, March 24, 2011

For Change to Arrive

What does it take for change to arrive? Does it come only after you've suffered some great loss because you didn't learn the lesson? What if you just gave it enough time? Or maybe, just maybe, you could love someone so hard it breaks open the seeds inside. Could it happen then?

Or would it only lead to a perpetual cycle of tears, loss and wondering "Why this again?"

There are those who say change only comes from within, but can't it be sparked from without? Can't someone else set you aflame to writhe and cry out in pain and later rise anew? Maybe the mere possibility that they could would be enough to incite motivation.

But then desire is only armor for the battle.

Does change come from distance and days of introspection? Does it creep in peacefully in the quiet, in blurry moments between sleep and wake? Or does it charge out in the maddening dark, shaking you violently until you finally give in to it?

No answers to be found in this messy void and the only things guiding the way are Bravery and a flickering light called Faith.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Milk Toof

Have you guys met ickle and Lardee yet? They're these two little baby teeth that just showed up at artist Inhae Lee's door one day and she invited them to stay. Okay, no not really, but they're still really cute and get into all sorts of misadventures as they explore this big world of ours. I've been following their antics on her blog for a while now and was thrilled to learn that their book "My Milk Toof" was just released. Check out the behind-the-scenes video below. If the teeny tiny props don't make you smile, the music sure will.

Monday, March 21, 2011

For Japan

I wanted to round up a list of creative ways you could help the earthquake/tsunami victims of Japan and spotlight artists, shops and bloggers who are using their work to raise funds for disaster relief.

But then I started going through photos of the aftermath and watching footage of the tsunami devastating everything in its path. See, up until now I've mostly shielded myself from watching any of it. Sure I read the news online and know about the natural and now nuclear crises Japan has had to deal with in the last week, but there was just no way I could wrap my head around how massively bad it really is. Watching the tides crashing in and sweeping away whole houses like driftwood at sea is beyond terrifying.

And then my original idea seemed so...frivolous. Who needs to buy posters and crafts to give what they can to those suffering overseas? Why not cut out the middle chunk - complete with marketing ploys and shipping and handling fees - from the equation and just donate the money without acquiring more stuff? Or perhaps it's to entice those who wouldn't contribute without being rewarded in turn? Maybe the thought of providing food, medicine and emotional support to the hundreds of thousands currently crammed in evacuation centers isn't as comforting as say, lavender sachets?

But maybe that's just what it takes for some of us, right? Below, a list of organizations providing relief and recovery in the area without sending you any goodies in return:

- American Red Cross
- Japan Society Earthquake Relief Fund
- Save the Children
- Doctors Without Borders
- ShelterBox

It should be noted that some of these groups (namely the last three) will not earmark your donation solely for the recovery efforts in Japan, which means your money will go wherever it's needed most. The only good to come of what happened in Japan is the fact that they had a solid infrastructure and emergency response plan in place unlike Haiti. Still, help is on their way, but if donations exceed the needs of the country, funds will be directed to another place where it will still do a lot of good.

Image: via

Catching the "Super Moon"

Since I missed the blue moon on New Year's Eve 2009 and then chose sleep over standing outside for December's lunar eclipse, I thought I'd make the effort to catch a glimpse of Saturday night's full moon at perigree. That means the moon is full when it's also closest to the Earth making it seem 14% larger than when it's farthest away, or at apogee. Not super rare as it happens once every two to three years, but still a full moon on any day is nice.

And how'd I learn all this lunar info? I follow Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist and the director for the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, via Twitter. Geeky, perhaps, but he's so good. A. and I attended a recent panel discussion Tyson moderated on string theory and even though they lost me at certain points, I left the event with my brain stimulated and full of questions.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy Weekend: The "Wah! I'm Sick!" Edition

So after a fun dance party in A.'s apartment last night (complete with those chocolate + Nutella + Fererro Rocher cupcakes I wanted to make), I woke up feeling pretty craptastic. What made it worse was the fact that it was so sunny outside that being sick felt downright cruel. So we roamed the streets of the West Village, Harlem and Morningside Heights and I'm sure my fit of rebellion will bite me in the behind shortly. I turn into a big baby when I feel yuck and have been nudging and begging this one for a nice body massage and to take care of me so, of course, what does he do as soon as we get back home? Crawls into bed and falls asleep. Yeah, I can feel the healing already, A. 'Ta bueno darte un cocotaso ahora mismo pa' que asi duermas bien...

So what if we did walk roughly five miles today? I did it with an impaired immune system and sore legs from Thursday night's 2-mile run (so out of shape, guys)! Anywho, I'm done complaining. Hopefully I can fight this off because tomorrow I start a brand new freelance gig: writing and producing content every Sunday night for!

I totally want to copy Katie's idea and leave little notes in random spots for people to find. Actually no, I want someone to leave a note for me to find. That would so make my day right now.
A party? I want to plan an entire lifestyle around these festive paper straws.
I love this idea of wrapping gift boxes with a rainbow of yarn. Simple yet pretty.
Clever word puzzle universal wrapping paper and tote bag. Makes me wonder how I didn't think of it first.
Must remember to attempt this leprechaun trap cake next year.
A touch of designer whimsy in Scrabble, jewelry and home decor.
Next time someone causes you to give them a piece of your mind, be sure to hand them an invoice for services rendered as well.

Hope you're all having a happy weekend and remember: wash those hands and stay away from nasty sick people who've no business milling about among the healthy.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's St. Patty's Day

I couldn't possibly be further from Irish, but Happy St. Patrick's Day anyway! Instead of dragging the Irish holiday (and your dignity) through the mud by getting piss drunk, why not learn how to make rainbow pudding with the kids or share a little tin of shamrocks with your buddies? If anything it sure beats rolling into work with a hangover in the morning. In fact, I work right by where the NYC parade started this morning and people are already passing out and peeing along 6th Ave. Fantastic.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Emotion That's Taking Me Over

"You're just a little bundle of emotions," he explained to me, "and I'm laid-back and quiet. You come from a lot of pain. I don't."

I have this tendency to get easily emotional to the point where rational thought gives way to raw feelings. Some have said that I'm much too sensitive, that I'm not ready nor strong enough to endure life's cruelties. Perhaps, but I've also defended this trait by explaining how it helps me connect with others, how it allows me to really feel for those going through a hard time. I actually like that aspect of my personality even if I sometimes allow it to permeate too far.

Last week, A. and I encountered a difficult moment in the relationship, one that turned quite scary for me at least. And while I was busy freaking out and experiencing one anxiety attack after the other, he was off being too practical about it - almost mechanical. I needed him to see the situation through my eyes and panic along with me. Instead, he kept his cool and continued on as if nothing were wrong while I let this hypothetical weigh me down day and night. "He simply doesn't give a crap," I'd decided without stopping to consider his end of the spectrum.

See what I keep failing to accept time after time is that we each respond to the same situation in our own way. When things get tough, my sensibilities shut down and I sound the alarms full force. A., on the other hand, quickly shifts into Mr. Fix-It mode and refuses to let emotions get in his way. Once a clear solution has been uncovered, he moves on and fast. I wrap myself in it and dwell.

He's worried about my ability to come around on my own strength rather than relying heavily on those around me to help me through a crisis (as well as my habit to deem everything a crisis). Meanwhile, I'm concerned about his inability to intuitively provide comfort without my asking for it.

"Baby, we're so different on the emotional scale," he finally offered after hours of explaining our sides.
"So what are we to make of that?" I asked. "Meet somewhere in the middle or find others who are closer to us on the scale?"
"Or...we could adapt?"

It's frustrating when the other person doesn't see things from your perspective or when both are too stubborn to admit that your way is not the only way. We're simply two individuals who've grown up to view the world before us through two completely different lens forged by our past experiences. Perhaps for us the answer lies in patience, acceptance, figuring out how to work around the other person's limitations and learning that when a woman is upset, the last thing you should say is, "Relax."


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In Other Minimalist News

British designer Patrick Smith created this collection of posters illustrating a few common mental disorders. Apparently he got the idea after coming across a list of disorders while researching mental health. Could you figure out what they describe without looking at the captions? I think the third one is pretty spot on, don't you? (via Minimalissimo)


The Anatomy of a Cupcake

I know the cupcake obsession is slowly getting old, but in my attempts to hold onto it for as long as possible, here's a creative print I just stumbled upon.

And with a certain festive gathering at the end of the week, I'm brainstorming some fun mini cupcake ideas to fuel guests in between all the spaztastic dancing. I was thinking of drawing little music notes into the icing and making tiny G clef cupcake toppers. Or maybe topping white frosting with crushed Oreo crumbs and dicing Snickers bars to sit atop a little mountain of milk chocolate icing. Sunday night I even dreamt of a cookie recipe where bits of hazelnuts were embedded into the dough and then drizzled with Nutella. "Mmm," I thought. "That could work as a yummy cupcake too." And then God reached down from Heaven and guided my browser to this devilish delight:

Oh, baby...

Images: via and

Monday, March 14, 2011

How Was Your Weekend?

I'm still recuping from mine and beyond tired, but I can't even really go with the "we lost an hour" excuse. Especially not when A. and I rolled into bed at 4:30 am after a Saturday hangout, attended a writing group meeting (in the best apartment ever no less) on Sunday afternoon and then spent the rest of the day karaoking 'til midnight. So I don't care that I was fighting to stay awake all afternoon and then drifted off as my D train sped me back home to the Bronx. It's just the result of a well-deserved damn good weekend and I'll gladly take sleepy Mondays for another one like it.

Image: via

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Zack Hample, Baseballs and It's a Small World

So here's a little story I've been sitting on for the past year. Remember that baseball book I mentioned at the 8:51 pm and 9:25 pm marks during the debacle known as live-blogging the 2008 All Star Game? The same one I later added to Merc3069's guest post on the Perks of Being a Sports Babe book roundup? Well imagine my surprise when, in late 2009, I walked into A.'s apartment for the first time and spotted the very book Mr. First had given me two years before.

"Omg you have this book?!" I exclaimed grabbing it off the shelf.
"Open it up," he replied from the kitchen.

Inside, the author had written "For A., who's already such a big baseball geek, he (almost) doesn't need to read this book. Thanks for making the writing group more fun, and for talking so much baseball with me." Not only did he know Zack Hample, but they were actually friends. And now I'm lucky enough to call him my buddy too.

Over the last year I've attended the writing group Zack created nine years ago, meeting in different apartments, hopping around the city and discovering a whole new circle of great friends. We'll write for an hour (sometimes I do and sometimes I just think about it), introduce ourselves and then give feedback to those who choose to share their work with the group. Well for the better part of two years, Zack has been sharing snippets as he worked on his third book "The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches." This man has pored over every sentence in that book, fighting for interviews and uncovering secrets in the MLB ball-making industry that it's almost hard to believe that it was FINALLY released today! (He was even sweet enough to mention A. and me in the acknowledgments.)

Now I know not all of you give a crap about baseball (and you're probably nowhere near as obsessed with this sport as Zack is), but every time he read us a chapter from his book, you couldn't help but be intrigued or genuinely amused. It makes for such an entertaining read that even non-baseball fans will be able to glean something new without getting lost in a sea of stats. The best part (well, after the section on freak accidents caused by baseballs) comes at the end when he gives tips on how to snag your own Major League ball and as the world record holder for the most snagged game balls (4,662 to date), I'm going to go ahead and say the guy knows what he's talking about. As to what he does with all those balls? Well he gives some away to children at the end of every game he attends and he uses his yearly totals to raise money for the non-profit charity Pitch In For Baseball. Pretty stand-up guy, huh?

Incidentally, I never did get "Watching Baseball Smarter" back from Mr. First. After I returned it in a fit of breakup madness, I couldn't bring myself to ask for it back...until last summer. But by then the book had already gone missing. Last night he sent along a text during his part-time shift at his local Borders saying, "I see your bud has a new baseball book out tomorrow so I'm making sure it gets a good spot on the front of our new paperback table. He's representin' in [here]." I guess that makes up for it.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Live the Language

So we're back from warm and sunny L.A. and were greeted by a rainy, gray and dreary NYC. Freakin' fabulous. I'm so ready to take off again unless Mother Nature stops screwing around. But since that takes money and valuable time off work, I'll just settle for these short "Live the Language" videos made for the EF International Language Centers. Not only do they teach you a few vocabulary words, but also give you a quick taste of each city's culture.

Oy, I want to go to Europe so badly! But not just for a week-long vacation, no. I want a year abroad and truly wish I'd taken more advantage of that during my college years. In 2002, I up and went to France for a month to attend the Centre Internationale d'Etudes Francaise at the University of Burgundy and although I was ready to head home by the end of that July, I now wish I'd spent more time there. I still relish those moments I had to myself, spent wandering around aimlessly through the alley streets of Dijon, popping into random boutiques and pastry shops, pronouncing "oui" as a laid-back I'm-a-local "weh" instead (it took a bit to shake it off once I was back in the States). The tragic part was the rushed weekend tour I spent in Paris. It was unbelievably beautiful, yes, but it much too short. I didn't even get to run up to the damn Eiffel Tower! No, Paris definitely needs to be redone. And while I'm there I might as well visit Spain and Italy and Portugal and...

Have any of you ever spent a long stretch of time abroad? At work I'm surrounded by people who've traveled the globe and taken residence in random countries working odd jobs to supplement their savings so it's hard not to want that little adventure as well. Oh, and Jordan Ferney's recent move to Paris? SO not helping.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I just saw this pretty stargazing print on Etsy...
and immediately thought of this photo A. and I took last month.
I'll be enjoying the shimmering skies of L.A. Here's hoping you get to do the same wherever you are. Happy weekend!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

An Awesome Plane Ride and Meet the Baby

A. and I made it to his parents house safe and sound and insanely tired. And guess what? A friend of ours decided to also head to L.A. at the very last minute and booked a seat on our flight. That meant I had someone to play with the entire six hours (especially since A. just wanted to read the whole time). Read Jona's account of all the silliness that occurred, but know that it involved watching a lot of crappy TV, trying to solve a gender mystery in the seat in front of us and taking lots of pictures.

This afternoon we finally met the little one and I don't know about you, but there's just something so sweet and sexy about guy holding a baby. Just look at them!

Images: courtesy of Jona and A.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

On the Road Again

Tonight my travel buddy and I are heading back to L.A. This time we're meeting his month-old nephew! I solemnly swear I will try not to go baby crazy and freak the bf out.


Cursive New York

Last week, during a quick trip to Grand Central Terminal, I stopped by Cursive New York. Now if you're someone who loves all things sweet and cute like moi, then this shop could very well be the end of you. There were tidy shelves filled with stacks of notebooks, cups of pencils and art supplies, delicate letterpress cards lining the walls and colorful accents and wares for the body and home. I actually exclaimed, "I want to buy the whole store!" (Don't worry, dear reader, for I somehow managed to quickly regain my composure in the name of journalistic integrity.) And lucky for us, Elena Carey, the lovely lady with the awesome hair behind the counter, answered my questions and let me take all the photos I wanted to share with you.

The boutique can also be found on the first floor of ABC Carpet & Home and after looking through that store's directory (10 floors of home textiles, gifts, accessories and home furnishings), I just might have to head there next. In the meantime, Cursive just launched their March Madness giveaway so pop on over to their blog to enter to win items from Motel Deluxe's Galapagos Collection every Friday.

Some of the companies you'll find in their GCT shop (along with a couple products I'm suddenly craving):

Dee & Lala letterpress stationery. I simply couldn't resist buying this little card.
Night Owl Paper Goods. I've been wanting their yellow birch wood cards for quite some time now.
The artistic packaging for Compagnie de Provence's bath products are so bold and colorful, they'd be eye-catching in any bathroom.
For a more sophisticated creative flair, check out Ink Dish dinnerware.
Positively Green Cards.
You know I love me some MT Masking Tape from Japan.
Ink + Wit and Yellow Owl Workshop stamps.
Whimsical hand-painted illustrations make Rifle Paper Co. invitations oh-so-sweet.
Tiny little spoons from Beehive Kitchenware.
K Studio makes me smile with their quirky illustrations and this iPad sleeve made from natural hemp cloth looks way cuter in person.

So if you're ever at a loss for what delightful and quirky thing to get your BFF, coworker, hostess, mom-in-law, honey bunny, whomever, just give this place a visit and I bet you'll find something interesting they'll actually want to keep.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Finding the Lesson in Every Breakup

Remember this relationship resume I created last year centered around the fact that there's always something you can take away from your previous loves? Well I used that to pitch Latina a story on what to learn from a breakup so read on for tips on how to assess four different scenarios, stop pointing fingers or wallowing in self-pity and prep yourself to get back in the game. Hope they help!


Travel + Leisure Family

I had the pleasure of working on this biannual insert soon after joining the Special Projects team and it's been so much fun (and yes, so much work). I've had to: ask hotel PR reps for amazing hotel deals and family travel packages, call in cool new carry-ons that cater to different members in the fam, research and pull in cute clothes and accessories for a fashion page and interview a teen about his favorite places around his hometown.

Not all appear in the print edition of the magazine sent to target subscribers (the roundup of roll-aboard luggage and travel deals do), but if you get the T+L Family iPad app, which rolls out in a couple weeks, you'll get to read all of the above and then some.


Latina's March "Ask the Doctors"

In this month's "Ask the Doctors" column in Latina, experts answer your questions about breastfeeding with implants, the HPV vaccines, gum disease and body cleanses. Quite the mix, huh? I learned a lot myself while conducting the research. For example, did you know aspirin therapy could lead to bleeding gums and that some health professionals advise against detoxification?


Family-Friendly Miami

March was a very good month for me. I know it's only the first day of the month, but in Magazine Land, March started about three weeks ago and I had pieces in three different publications. I'll be posting links to those throughout the day so be sure to pop back in to see what I've been up to.

The first is my debut in a fairly well-known magazine. And even though it took eons for my travel story to appear (I submitted it last June), I was very happy when I flipped open the current issue of Woman's Day at a local drugstore and saw my name staring back at me.