Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Naked Cupcake T-Shirt

Doesn't this Fresh Cake T-Shirt A. bought for me fit in perfectly with my obsession? For cupcakes that is, not running around in my birthday suit.


Imagine a store were rows upon rows of handcrafted gelato, sorbetto and froyo on a stick await you in endless flavors, layers and add-ons. Popbar's smooth and tasty ice cream bars are made daily from fresh fruits and natural ingredients imported from Italy. After the initial shock at the variety they offer, you can either pick one pre-made or customize your own myPop with three different kinds of chocolate dips and toppings like nuts, shredded coconut, granola, brownie chunks or biscotti crumbles just to name a few. Kind of takes popsicles to a whole new level, doesn't it?

My mango sorbetto bar was just the refreshing treat I needed to hold off on dinner and cool off in the summer heat. I'm just sad it was done so quickly!

Sidenote: I felt a bit silly standing in the empty store and taking pictures of the popbars until three women came in and started doing the same. "Oh, now I don't feel so bad!" I exclaimed.

"Have you ever seen so many?!" asked one.
"What does it meeeaaaan?" asked the other.
"It's starting to look like a triplelicious!" I added as we all laughed. Then A. and I walked out the shop, popsicles in hand, marveling and smiling at the fact that we all got the crazy rainbow guy reference.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Giveaway: Essence Cosmetics

To this day I can't bring myself to spend tons of money on brand-name cosmetics no matter how wonderful they claim to be. Diamond-infused lotion? No thanks. Caviar face mask? Um, pass. Regular old mascara that's marked up way too high so you check the other ones right behind it just to make sure it's not a mistake only to discover that it is in fact overpriced? Argh. Plus, I'm so picky (and my skin's so sensitive) that it could very well get a one-time use before it expires. But when I get into girly mode, I do like having different options and colors to choose from especially when it comes to eye shadows and nail polishes so I usually head to local drugstores to find bargains there.

Well Essence Cosmetics, a popular European brand that recently made its way to the United States via Ulta, offers trendy products at super cheap prices. So if you can't choose between this lip gloss and that bronzer, you don't have to worry about making a dent in your pocket if you go for both. (The subtotal is less than five bucks.) The company definitely seems to aim towards the younger crowd with their shimmery colors and nail art, but they also sell beauty tools that come in handy no matter how old you are. And starting in October, they'll be expanding their line with new shades and products for everything lips, eyes, nails and face, which is good because they could definitely bulk up their current U.S. offerings.

This week, one of you will win a Glossy Lipbalm, Eyeshadow Quattro and Colour & Go Nail Polish in the colors of your choice. Just visit the site, take a look a round and leave a comment below. A winner will be announced on Friday!

CONGRATULATIONS: Anonymous is this week's winner! (And yes, we all know who that is.)

How Was Your Weekend?

Mine was pretty damn good and tiring...

1. A. got out of work early on Friday so we met up at Washington Square Park, passed by Popbar for an afternoon dessert (more on that tomorrow) and walked a giant circle around the West Village before popping into Berimbau, a Brazilian restaurant, for dinner.

2. On Saturday, we swung by Madison Square Park, grabbed some Jamba Juice and then made our way down to Union Square Park where we spent hours people-watching, listening to a live band and looking at the fresh produce at the farmers market. For dinner, it was back to Republic for some noodle broth because I just can't get enough of that place. Afterward, we went into Barnes and Noble. I want to practice my french so I bought my beloved Le Petit Prince and had A. talk me out of buying yet another set of cute notebooks. I have a thing for them. Too bad I also have a thing for leaving them unfinished once I find another one I like better.

3. A. set up a discussion group to meet up at Central Park on Sunday so we spent about three hours talking about religion, politics, science and society among other things. There were some really interesting view points presented and the attendees were all into it so kudos to him for taking initiative and doing something he's been wanting to create for so long. Perhaps next time I'll contribute a bit more than I did. (Baby steps, I guess.) We finally ended our weekend at Fatty Fish where I sang along to the background music while rolling my eyes at his refusal to accept that it doesn't all suck. But he recognized Sade so we are making progress, people!

As for that package I received on Friday:

After avoiding it for two years, I finally got the nerve to ask Mr. First for three VHS tapes of old-school cartoons I never bothered to retrieve after we broke up. I figured enough time had passed that if he still had them and could send them over, fine, and if he didn't, I wouldn't be too distraught over it. Thankfully, he sent them along with a knitted orange scarf his co-worker had made a while ago and two bags of what was my favorite red gummy candy. I felt the slightest pull in my heart...before I ran off to get ready for my date.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy Friday!

So it seems my mood - and the weather - has done a complete 180 over the course of a week. Last night, A. and I went out for dinner at Brgr and I was just a giggly mess. We spend an hour munching on yummy burgers and fries, flipping through a travel magazine and singing along to pop music. Okay, so maybe the last part was just me, but I'm sure he was singing on the inside. "Baby! If this was our first date, what would you think of me?" I asked, perhaps a bit too eagerly.

"That you were crazy," he calmly replied. "I wouldn't even let you see how to get to my house. I'd just blindfold you there and back."

Thanks, kid. Let's see if you still think that when you see me in my BAM! outfit for our date this evening.

So what are you sillyheads doing for the weekend? It's gorgeous outside so we might walk around the West Village, grab some happy hour drinks and pop in for dinner somewhere, anywhere. We're wild like that.

As for the weekend, mine is pretty much open, which means I could very well spend my sunny days in Central Park wishing I owned this bookshelf tower or lived in this Swedish town house. I'd have a whole wall full of seize-the-day activities. Or I could dream of a festive party with pop-the-balloon invites. Actually, scratch that. Popping balloons makes me nervous. These would be a much calmer approach.

I'd just lie there on the grass hoping for mini gardens in my mailbox and entertaining dreams of flight. This would be the story of my life and these would be the perfect treat while I waited for the rest of the world to catch up to me.

Or I-

*ding, dong*

Heh, or maybe I could just entertain myself with this package from Mr. First instead.

Images:flickr.com via ohsobeautifulpaper.com and facebook.com via jordanferney.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 26, 2010

DIY Holder from Origami Paper Sacks

It should come as no surprise that my advent calender is still hanging in my hallway - I mean I didn't even bother putting my Christmas tree away 'til end of May - but because I put work into those cute paper sacks, I didn't want to just throw them away. Cue my creative ingenuity and behold, a mini paper container to hold treats, office supplies and other miscellaneous goodies.

First, you'll need to make a few origami sacks. They're super simple to make and you can use any kind of paper you'd like. I made mine out of magazine pages that were roughly 8.5" x 11".

For one container, grab three sacks and some double-sided tape. Mine are numbered because they served as a calendar, but obviously you can decorate yours any way you choose. Or not. Whatev.

Push in the bottom of each sack to open them up and give each compartment room to hold your little things.
'You see how they fit neatly into each other? Each compartment should have two straight edges that touch the other two sacks and a slightly-curved outer edge.

Place some double-sided tape along the top of the straight edges and stick the three sacks together.

Et voilà! You've got a three-compartment holder that'll stand up quite nicely on your desk.

You can tuck in sticky notepads, tea bags, candy, little messages or any other treats that help you get through the day. Or you can give one out as a thoughtful gift for a friend. On Monday, I made an "I'm sorry" one for A. with bite-sized Butterfingers and mini cupcakes wrapped and tied with a charm. Then we kissed and made up.

P.S. I was originally going to attempt this newspaper gift bag, but then realized that I didn't have any papers in the house. Thank the Internet.

P.P.S. How cute is this tiny bag from envelopes and decorative tape?!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I'm fully aware that this is probably not the best time to write anything. A couple days of very poor sleep had me lashing out at A. a few days ago for no reason (other than the fact that I handle lack of sleep much worse than PMS). It's been raining for days and I keep having these nightmares about leaks and water. Or it could be because my bathroom has completely flooded twice since last night and could very well do so again before today is through.

So in other words, I'm not exactly in the best state of mind.

Still, I feel like I've hit a wall. A massive, insurmountable wall called Life as an Unemployed Writer. Nine months as a freelancer and I feel like I should have more to show for that time. Yes, I've churned out about 10 magazine stories and more online articles than I care to count, but it's not enough. It's not a set schedule with a steady wage and coworkers to complain about. It's not brainstorming sessions in the conference room feeding off of each other's ideas. I miss having one product I can put all my efforts into and feel like I'm contributing towards something promising be it a flourishing magazine, my career or both.

When millions lost their unemployment benefits in June, I freaked out along with them. I saw my savings start to go down and gave myself until the end of summer to find a new full-time job. Luckily, those benefits were reinstated a month later, but it taught me not to rely on this government to bail you out for too long. Well, unless you're a money-hungry bank owner.

But as summer winds down with few prospects in sight, I'm beginning to give up those lofty dreams of actually finding something solely in my field. The magazine industry - one that's already so hard to break into - isn't in the greatest shape right now. Plus, it's all about who you know and milking those relationships to your advantage and unfortunately that's never been my strong suit. But I suppose hoping that my work and enthusiasm would just speak for itself without the need to toot my own horn is pure naivety.

So what does a person do when she realizes that she can't really follow her passion right now? That she might have to get off her high horse and pay off her master's degree with a retail job? What else could she do that would make her just as happy? That's what I'm currently trying to figure out, quickly, before I wind up settling because time has simply run out.

Image: flickr.com

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On the Dinner Menu (Recipes Included!)

Friday night's dinner with A., my sister and her boyfriend went incredibly well. So well, in fact, that I hardly took any pictures (sorry)! We just sat around the table, eating and chatting about life and whatnot. It means so much that the four of us get along this great and can't wait to host dinner for us again soon. (Yes, guys, I do enjoy playing domestic goddess, blah.)

On the menu: carrots with garlic hummus, tortilla chips with guacamole, penne à la [pre-made] vodka [sauce], breaded lemon chicken breast (using this delicious lemon marinade recipe), steamed broccoli and salad, garlic bread, fruity cupcakes and a selection of drinks including beer, white wine and sparking strawberry lemonade. Now I may be a bit biased, but I have to say that my homemade guac and strawberry lemonade were off the HOOK! (My guests agreed though.) Below are the recipes for both. Oh, and I've been wanting to take pics since the dinner, but this week has been so incredibly gloomy that every photo I take indoors just comes out dreadful.

Kick-Ass Guacamole: This recipe is a combo of basic recipes I found online along with one gathered from Boudro's, a yummy bistro I dined at during a press trip to San Antonio.


- 2 ripe Hass avocados
- ½ red onion minced (about a half cup)
- 2 tbsp cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp orange juice
- ½ tsp sea salt
- a dash of pepper
- ½ ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped

1. Mash and mix everything except the tomatoes. Leave those until you're ready to serve and then gently mix in. For those who can handle spicy foods (I'm not one of them), feel free to add chiles to your liking. The Boudro's recipe also specifies roasted tomatoes and Serrano pepper, but I'm not fancy schmancy like that. Serves 2-4.

2. To store, cover with cling wrap directly on the surface on the guac to prevent oxidation and refrigerate until ready to serve. It doesn't keep long though.

Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade: I'd originally wanted to remake a drink I tasted at someone's house a few weeks ago that consisted of sparkling lemonade, vodka and a splash of peach juice with half a peach sitting at the bottom of the flute. When I failed to find that lemonade at any of my ghetto supermarkets, I figured I could make it myself. Luckily, a few online searches led me to this refreshing alternative that was so good and perfect for summer, I'm about to make another batch. I'm sure the strawberry portion could be substituted with a range of other fruits.


- 1½ cups simple syrup (recipe included)
- 6 freshly squeezed limes,* about 1 cup of juice
- 16 oz. container of strawberries, cleaned with stems removed (aka "hulled")
- 1 qt sparkling water (I used Schweppes Lemon Lime Seltzer Water)

1. Simple syrup is 1 part water and 1 part sugar so in a small pot, bring 1½ cups water and 1½ cups sugar to a boil. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved and then cool down. I'm an impatient beast so I popped mine in the freezer while I prepared the strawberries. (FYI: Simple syrup is used in many cocktail recipes so store any leftovers for future mixes. It'll keep for a few weeks.)

2. Pop strawberries and ½ cup simple syrup into blender and blend until smooth. You can strain the purée to remove the seeds, but I chose to leave them in. And by chose, I mean I totally forgot that this was even an option.

3. Pour the 1 cup lime juice, strawberry juice, another ½ cup simple syrup and 1 qt sparkling water into a pitcher and mix. For extra sweetness add more simple syrup. Chill and serve over ice garnished with mint or strawberries.

*You're probably wondering why I'm using limes for a lemonade. Well, growing up we always used limes in our homemade lemonade and will admit that up until a few years ago I honestly thought the green ones were the lemons! Silly, I know, but I still haven't been able to go for the yellow stuff. Plus, I've heard that limes are much sweeter anyway :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

An Underwater Fashion Show

These dreamy photos were taken at yesterday's Underwater Hanbok Fashion Show for the opening of a new mall in Seoul. The collection was designed by Park Sul-nyeo, a top designer of the traditional Korean dress known as hanbok.
Images: emirates247.com

Friday, August 20, 2010

Happy Friday!

Yay it's almost weekend time! I'm about to start prepping for a mini-dinner party tonight. I invited A., my sis and her bf over for some food and bonding time so that should be fun...unless there's a cooking disaster.

You might not recognize Steve McCurry's name, but you're probably familiar with his work. Here are 22 more amazing photos of exotic lands far far away. (via [BB-Blog])
As a visual person, I love infographics. Here are two I just discovered: movies and fast food.
Five reusable, plastic-free straws.
Seafood lovers might like this handy guide on what's safe to eat and what's not. (via Stephmodo)
I reeaally want this scratch map!
Beer popsicles? Um, no thanks.
Good gravy is this "Can We Date?" flowchart detailed.
CUTE = Penguins chasing a butterfly (This kid doesn't fall far behind though.)

Happy Friday everyone :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

365 Sex Positions: A New Way Every Day for a Steamy, Erotic Year

If you're hard-pressed for creativity in the bedroom, then 365 Sex Positions: A New Way Every Day for a Steamy, Erotic Year is more than eager to please, but perhaps it tries to stretch a bit too much. They're clearly reaching with some positions, but I guess even acrobats could use tips on freshening up their sex sessions. Each page illustrates a position with vibrant photos, hot models (of course) and quick hits on why the move feels so good. The photos are "tastefully explicit," which means there's really nothing in there for show - other than boobs and butts. Which begs the question: why is it that in every single sex book (and movies, too) women are much more likely to be exposed than men? Anyway, I digress.

This little guide is a fun one to flip through on a whim and find new variations of your usual go-tos. You might discover that merely changing your angle was just what your G-spot was waiting for. If anything, the names are good for a chuckle (or a raised eyebrow). Among the most amusing name-wise: Who's Your Daddy?, Take Me to Your Leader, The Butter Churn, The Cow, The Crazy Cat, Foot in Mouth, Gooooooal!, Spork, The Wow Wow, and last but not least, the exciting-sounding Yawning Position.

A. says: Well it seems like they consider moving your foot two inches to the left as a new position. Or here you're bending your knees, but if you keep your legs straight that's a new position. If you put your hand on her hip instead of her shoulder then - voilà! - new position. And some of these angles look like they bend a guy's dick like a boomerang. I don't know about other guys, but I'm relatively straight.

So how do you keep things interesting in the bedroom? Do you usually stick to your tried-and-true positions or do regularly introduce new ones into your sex life?

Image: amoratapress.com

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Coping with Singles

Last year while I was still single, I gave some well-researched tips on how to handle coupled friends. Now that I'm on the other side of the fence, it's only fair that I approach hanging out with the single crowd with the same journalistic authority - by pulling them right out of my...brain.

1. Practice your comebacks to the following questions: "Are you guys living together yet?" "So when are you buying that ring?" "Can I be a bridesmaid at your future wedding?" It doesn't matter if you've only been together a month, the questions will quickly start rolling in. In the beginning, it'll be awkward, but will eventually shift to cute. You'll look at each other and smile all lovey dovey, straight brewing in your honeymoon stage. After that you'll start worrying if he's freaking out and he'll secretly wonder if you're just putting your friends up to this. Fast forward a few years later and you'll be the one piping in with "Yeah! When are you buying that ring?!" every time "Single Ladies" comes on.

2. Don't assume that every invite you receive extends to your significant other. Sometimes the girls want a "no boys allowed" outing and the same holds true for the guys. Make sure it's okay before you ask him/her to come along. After all, no matter how much sex you have, you're not actually attached at the hip.

3. Avoid asking your single friends when they're going to finally settle down because, you know, "time's a-ticking and it's not like they're getting any younger." It'll only make them go on the defensive and list all the reasons why being unattached is the best thing everrr and why relationships are just another oppression that suck the life force right out of you. WARNING: Any mentions of biological clocks, spinsterhood, cat breeds, eHarmony or singles parties are legit grounds for a smack-down.

4. Some people don't feel comfortable being hooked up or set up on blind dates (shout-out to Anonymous for trying to help me 1, 2, 3 times with no luck) so avoid pushing them towards Relationshipville if they're still not ready to invest in any real estate there. Plus, studies show that 85% of daters suffer a severe drop in social life coolness after settling down* and you know full well that a part of you lives variously through their weekend debauchery.

5. But if they do want to get hooked up, then by all means pimp out your partner's single friends like a, um, pimp. You see, now that you're in a relationship, a whole new pool of available men and women are at your disposal and if you can't date them you might as well give your buddy a shot at the goods.

6. Don't be disgusting in front of your friends. I know you couldn't wait to be in this position, but remember how much it sucked to be single and exposed to over-the-top PDA? This includes, but is not limited to: blatant groping, tongue wrestling, dry humping, TMIs, hand-feeding whole servings to each other and Eskimo kisses while calling each other "snookie pookie bear." Light kisses and embraces are fine, but if you're both getting too worked up (read: obnoxious), then excuse yourselves and find a dark corner, a dirty public bathroom or just hightail it home to continue your naughtiness there. Friends don't make friends throw up their dinner.

What other tips would you add?

*Source: A gross generalization derived from personal experience.

Image: corbisimages.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

There are times when a relationship becomes so tough that you have no clue if you should break things off or stay and fight through the hard times. "Relationships that are oppressive and don't let you live are not worth it," says psychologist Ana Nogales. "But relationships that, even when there is some kind of difficulty, help you mature, grow and expand, those are probably worth it." Read on for her relationship advice on four common situations. Have you ever been completely confused about what your next step should be?

Image: blogthecoast.com

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Giveaway: EarthLust

EarthLust water bottles are so sleek and awesome, I couldn't help but coordinate to give one away. Like I mentioned below, the stainless steel bottles come in 1 L, 20 oz. and 13 oz. sizes and are BPA-, phthalates- and PVC-free so they won't leak any toxins into your beverage. Plus, new nature-inspired artwork and designs are constantly rolling in to keep the collection fresh. They also have their Birds & Bees line so the little tykes can share in on the eco-friendly movement.

This week one of you will win a 20 oz. stainless steel bottle in the design of your choice (except for Swallow). Personally, I've got my eye on Cow Parsley, but browse through their selection and comment on which one you'd love to own. A random winner will be announce on Friday!

CONGRATULATIONS: Janet is this week's winner!

Image: seventeen.com

Seven Safe and Stylish Stainless Steel Water Bottles

As a follow-up to last week's Just Say No to Bottled Water post, I thought I'd do a round-up of cool stainless steel water bottles that are safe for both you and the environment. High quality, food-grade stainless steel bottles are not only extremely durable, hygienic and easy to clean, but they won't leak toxins, such as Bisphenol-A (BPA), into your liquids. Oh, and they're 100% recyclable. So here are seven that caught my eye:

1. EarthLust: When owner Allison had her first-born, protecting his health and the environment became top priority. Her company offers BPA-, phthalates- and PVC-free water bottles in three different sizes (1 L, 20 oz. and 13 oz.), accessories and a collection of baby bottles. There are so many lovely design to choose from, I'd have a tough time choosing just one, but pop in later for a chance to win your own!

2. New Wave Enviro: If you want more sizes at your disposal, then browse through this company's selection. These durable water bottles range from 12 to 40 oz. and some come with a carabineer for easy attachment to your bag. They even sell stainless steel water dispensers that would work well in any home or office. Lord knows there are plenty of companies that could kick their eco-movement up a notch.

3. Ecotanka: From their 350 mL Teeny Tanka to the 2 L Mega Tanka, you can be sure that everyone in your family will be covered on the water bottle front. Insulating Kooler covers are meant to keep your liquids cooler for longer, but their yet-to-be released Polar Ice Tanka promises to do the same with a double wall design.

4. Zojirushi: Although they offer regular water bottles (with lids that conveniently double as cups), I was drawn to their stainless steel vacuum mugs with a tea strainer instead. The plastic strainer lets you brew tea into your mug right before you drink it, its vacuum insulation keeps your beverage hot/cold for hours and if its iced tea you prefer, the mouth is wide enough for ice cubes. Two other features I liked: the plastic cover lets you insert a customizable wrap you can print from your computer and the lid has a little compartment to store tea leaves and bags.

5. The WaterGeeks: These bottles come with a filter attached to the cap that supposedly removes chlorine, lead and other contaminants so you can run over to any tap to fill up without worry. Though last time I checked (with a TDS meter), tap water quality wasn't too far off from certain bottled waters.

6. Klean Kanteen: Another alternative to plastic and lined aluminum bottles, I love the design of their classic bottle. They're vibrant, slim enough to fit most holders, feature a wide mouth to pop in ice or fruits and come with a bunch of different BPA-free cap styles to choose from. Winos who want to take their drink on a hike or a picnic by the beach can check out the Wine Karafe. Since stainless steel doesn't retain or impart any flavors, your wine will taste as good as it did in its bottle.

7. OrganicKidz: And while you're looking out for your health, you might as well take a close look at your baby products, too. Stainless steel baby bottles are a good replacement for the plastic, aluminum and glass varieties you might have around the house. They're durable, lightweight and easy to clean - just pop them in the dishwasher. This line offers bottles in a range of sizes all of which include a built-in 2 oz. measuring cup as the lid. And for baby bottles, I must say, they're pretty damn sleek!

Images: naturallysustainable.com.au, newwaveenviro.com, ecotanka.com, closettherapyblog.com, thewatergeeks.com, kleankanteen.com and organickidz.ca

Friday, August 13, 2010

Happy Friday!

No links this week as I'm on deadline again (eek!) and am having the hardest time concentrating.
So instead I'll tell you a joke A. told me a few days ago:

*Knock, knock*
Who's there?
To who?
To whom.

Geeky, I know, but I liked it. Heard any good ones lately?

Image: imgur.com

Miniature Pencil Point Sculptures

Check out Dalton Ghetti's tiny carvings meticulously sculpted out of pencil graphite. The Brazilian-born Connecticut-based artist/ carpenter has been honing his skill for 25 years using razor blades, sewing needles, sculpting knives, crazy eagle-eye vision and a whole lot of patience to create his designs. A single project can take several months to complete (though his toughest took two and a half years) and once done, Ghetti refuses to sell his pieces, instead choosing to give them away as gifts and sell photos of the finished works.

Images: oddstuffmagazine.com

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Helicopter vs Free-Range Parenting

I don't think I've ever given as much thought to how my parents raised me more than I have been these days. It's not because I'm trying to test the waters myself anytime soon, but rather because A. and I are now regularly discussing parenting styles and the results of raising your child in a sheltered environment versus a more liberal approach. While he's a product and a complete supporter of "free-range" parenting, I grew up in a protective bubble made out of fear and the walls of our one-bedroom apartment in Uptown Manhattan.

Crazy thing is my parents were raised fairly free-range themselves. Sure they each had an incredibly strict parent, but you can't get more free-range than the campos of the Dominican Republic. They grew up on farms probably sharing a bed with the chickens they raised; they walked miles of dirt roads to get to school; hitched rides on the backs of motorcycles; muddied their clothes, played with dirt, pigs and sticks and climbed coconut trees for a snack; and they packed their mules with harvested produce to go sell on the city streets.

But us? Ha! It seems that once they came to New York City, the urban jungle scared the daylights out of them because my siblings and I were extremely overprotected by our mother. We couldn't go outside on our own because of the thugs that hung around the area. We were supposed to come right back home when school was done (though this didn't apply until I finally started commuting on my own in junior high). If the train was delayed, my friends and I would all line up at a pay phone, quarters in hand, to let our parents know we hadn't been kidnapped yet. Oh, and the rapists! It just so happened that there was always one "lurking" wherever we happened to be. For all my mother knows, there's probably one living next door to me now.

These parents have eyes everywhere, which is how they get you to be on your best behavior at all times. You just never know who could be watching you because in my culture, "it takes a village" is law. Other parents and friends, also known as pajaritos or "little birds," will check on you and snitch if you so much as think about stepping out of line. Growing up, Mom would freak me out with her "A little bird told me..." stories so much so that I thought the woman practiced black magic while I was off at school. And the news continue to come in to this day! Just last week she said, "Oh, so-and-so saw you walking around downtown with A. the other morning."

"What? Where? ...What were we doing?"

Needless to say, I grew up extremely sensitive, skittish and hesitant to rebel. Although you automatically gain street smarts just by living your whole life in the city, there's still this underlying fear that affects the things I do. I'm scared of being pushed into the train tracks. I still have nightmares about being kidnapped and raped. I'm constantly worried about pleasing others and making choices is oftentimes a nerve-wracking experience. I clearly remember Mom saying she'd never support my decision to go away for undergrad even though it was only an hour and a half drive away and feeling torn about my decision. (I did her one better when I chose a grad school four hours away - the same one I'd rejected for a much less prestigious one in undergrad because it was simply too far from home.) But even though I've gained some independence over the last several years, I'm still too dependent on my parents' presence. I find comfort in knowing that if I do need them, they're only 15 minutes away.

A. on the other hand was raised by liberal parents who gave him and his older sisters the freedom to do as they wished. Early on in our relationship, I couldn't get enough of his childhood stories. There were those about riding his bike God-knows-where and getting into all sorts of trouble; about spending hours at his friends' houses and his lax curfew. I admire his gutsy decision to leave Los Angeles for New York on a whim, without a job or an apartment secured. I would've been a wreck. Actually, that's not true; I would never put myself in that position to begin with. But I wish I had such adventures to tell and when we find ourselves dreaming about up and moving away from here, I also find myself hoping I'm brave enough to follow if and when that time comes.

But despite the short leash I was raised on and the consequences of that type of parenting, I don't know if I'm carefree enough to give my child the kind of freedom A. experienced. I'd be a bundle of nerves every single second wondering if they're hurt, if they're in trouble...if they've been kidnapped. My list of things I want to protect them from grows with each passing week: skateboards, roller blades, actually all things with wheels, pedophiles, night time, bullies, the Internet, Mom, but I know that I could never be everywhere at once and would only drive myself mad trying to do so. A. on the other hand is looking forward to the opportunity saying, "Expect injuries." How comforting.

How were you raised and how do you/ will you raise your children?

Image: svusd.k12.ca.us

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Vacation and Memory-Keeping Crafts

I'm always collecting new craft ideas to hopefully try in the future (when I stop thinking about it and actually do them) so here are five I found and loved while perusing Martha Stewart's 38 Vacation and Memory-keeping Crafts.

As-You-Go Vacation Keepsake: For those who don't have time to sit down and play with scissors and glue.

Memory Flip Book: A fun flip book made out of short video clips? Done.

Bottle-Cap Magnets and Thumbtacks: Because my fridge could ALWAYS use more magnets.

Baby Face Thumbtacks: I think little floating heads would make anybody smile.

Envelope Books: And this would serve well to collect all these wonderful ideas I might never get around to doing.

How Did You Two Meet?

During our California weekend, A.'s family kept asking us how he and I met and I realized that I never really went into detail on that here. Sure I quickly mentioned him after attending a NYC meet-up for 20 Something Bloggers at Fat Cat back in December, but did you know that I was thisclose to walking out before A. came up to me?

I headed to the bar without a clue as to what anyone else looked like. I'd left a comment on the meet-up thread telling the other attendees to look out for a short curly-haired chick with a green jacket and hoped someone would recognize me. Only I get to the place and it's unbelievable crowded. So after making a couple rounds, beer in hand, and even daring to ask one group if they were a part of 20SB (yeah, um, they weren't), I sat at the bar, wishing I could e-mail the only person who knew I'd be there and feeling like a total loser cause I sure as hell wasn't going to ask anymore people if they were part of some social network for nerds. "I'll give this 10 more minutes and then I'm out," I thought.

And there I sat trying to look super cool while forcing myself to drink a giant glass of nasty beer when this tall, thin, geeky-looking guy came up to me and asked, "Are you here for the 20SB meet-up?"


Ok, in my defense, I was sitting ALONE at a bar where I knew NO ONE for like, I dunno, 15 whole minutes! This was my salvation right here. Turns out the man recognized me, but we weren't able to recognize anybody else who attended that night (although A. could have totally lied just so he could have me to himself, that sneaky trickster) so we spent the entire time chatting it up about an endless stream of randomness and having a great time. I only wanted to leave when I realized it was getting harder to keep my eyes open. So we took the train together where I quipped, "Damn kid, you're mad tall," exchanged e-mails and took off running from there. We'd e-mail back-and-forth for hours and it took less than three days for me to realize that this guy was going to be trouble. A very good kind of trouble.

So that's our story. What's yours? How did you meet your current significant other? Juicy stories from the past are also welcome ;)

UPDATE: Check out this post on 20SB's blog!

Image: limpidd.deviantart.com

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Two Gangster Ways to Quit Your Job

If you thought cursing out your flight passengers, grabbing a beer from the beverage cart and then escaping the plane via emergency slide was one gangster way to quit your job, then meet Jenny.
Upset with her sleazy boss, Jenny supposedly decided to quit to her job yesterday morning through an awesome series of dry erase board photos, which she then sent to every other employee at the firm. In them, she reveals how her boss Spencer called her a hot piece of ass and just how "productive" he is on the computer. Way to stick up for yourself, girl! View her resignation here.
UPDATE: So apparently "Jenny's" story was a hoax, but it was an entertaining one nonetheless. Thanks for the tip, A.!

Images: thechive.com

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Giveaway: Betsy Ann Paper

There's nothing sweeter than giving someone a hand-written note, but here's how to do them one better: send them a hand-made hand-written note that's been individually drawn with thought and care. That's why Elizabeth Moorhead created Betsy Ann Paper, an Etsy shop that features her illustrated and hand-lettered greeting cards. "When someone sends me a hand-written card, they're giving me a piece of their time, a bit of their thought," she says. "Whether you appreciate hand-made cards or couldn't care less for paper goods, it's always worth it to put an extra bit of thought into special occasions or even everyday."

While planning for her wedding last year, Moorhead became completely obsessed with paper products, but when they faced having to choose between mass-produced/generic cards and beautiful, but outrageously expensive options, she and her now-husband Joshua decided to forgo both and create their own wedding stationery instead. "We wanted something unique and inexpensive that reflected us," she explains. "Soon after, I figured that if we could have so much fun creating our wedding stationery and making it special, maybe we can help other people make the everyday a little more special, too."

Incredibly minimal, but just as adorable, her cards leave the sentiments entirely up to you. "I'm inspired by design that's purposefully simplistic to direct the focus on the true message," Moorhead says, "Each of the cards is plain and fuss-free without lengthy sonnets or intricate pictures to distract from the real point. We don't want to put words in your mouth." She's also a big fan of everything vintage and channels a time when things were more thought-out and paper mail was still common. And her favorite part about the whole process? Imagining the recipient of each of her creations. "Getting a card, whether it's for a birthday or a simple note, is always a special occasion," she adds. "By making each little card, I get to be a part of all those special moments."

And Moorhead and her husband have a special moment on the horizon as well: they just found out they're expecting! "As a result I'm drawn to all things warm, bright and nurturing," she says. "I've found this nesting instinct that I didn't know I had!"

This week, one of you will win a Variety Occasion Card Pack with four watercolor cards and coordinating envelopes. Just leave a comment below and a winner will be announced on Friday!

CONGRATULATIONS: Ali is this week's winner!

Image: etsy.com

Just Say No to Bottled Water

Bottled Water

Friday, August 6, 2010

Happy Friday!

I'm feeling so unbelievably listless these days even though there's a mountain of things I could and should be doing. I blame August and the Internet; it's just too hot to move. Even Toby's taken to lying around like a vegetable...

These 3D door stickers are pretty cool. I'd want one to lead me right into the photo above.
Newsflash: TV reporters are ruthless creatures! They destroy sand castles, giant Jenga towers, ice sculptures and knock over children with no remorse. Well, maybe a little.
How pretty is this corset ring?
Need help in the English department? Then meet Grammar Girl and follow FakeAPStylebook for quick and easy tips on how to not sound like a moron.

And Summer Streets is back in NYC. For the next three weekends, Park Avenue will temporarily close down to vehicles and host a selection of summer activities:

- Register by 5 pm today for tomorrow's New York Road Runners 5-mile Fun Run.
- Go for a Joy Ride: a group bike ride set to music that ends with a picnic in Central Park.
- Go dumpster diving: MacroSea has turned clean, unused shipping containers into pools, which will be located near Grand Central Terminal.
- Head to SoHo to catch the New York International Fringe Festival's theater shorts and play samplers.

Image: pixdaus.com

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Book Art

During our stay at the Clement Monterey, a couple pieces of artwork in the hotel really caught my eye: Cara Barer's book art photography. She takes used and unwanted books and manipulates them into unique sculptures using the contents and type of book to determine how she will approach each particular project. "My photographs are mainly a documentation of a physical evolution," Barer explains in her statement. "I have changed a common object into sculpture in a state of flux. The way we choose to research and find information is also in an evolution. I hope to raise questions about these changes, the ephemeral and fragile nature in which we now obtain information, and the future of books."

I don't know why, but I just found this art so fascinating. How long does each piece take to make? Are the book edges already colored or are they dyed afterward? I loved following each page as it twists and curls out of its binding, reaching out past the edges of the photograph, morphing into something more than what it was originally meant to be.

Images: carabarer.com