- Chantez et vous trouverez votre chanson -

Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.
     -George Bernard Shaw

It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves- in finding themselves.
      -Andre Gide

Monday, December 27, 2010

the Dragon Tattoo Phenomenon

After hearing so much talk about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, I finally tackled the trilogy of novels.

Set in Sweden, the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo introduces a cast of characters including investigative journalist and ultimate bachelor Mikael Blomkvist, genius hacker and antisocial 90 lb Lisbeth Salander, and private security company owner Dragon Armansky. Through a series of events, they team up to solve a near 50 year old crime and sift through an intense family drama that includes more scandal than you would ever think possible.

In the second book, The Girl Who Played with Fire, we learn the backstory of Lisbeth's own family drama that shaped her life and caused her general mistrust of all authority figures. Along the way, Lisbeth is wrongfully (maybe??) accused of 3 high-profile murders and is the center of a nationwide manhunt.

And finally, in the third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Lisbeth's small group of trusted confidantes comes together to expose a huge government cover-up that's lasted 30 years and ruined many lives, including Lisbeth's and her mother's.

The three books all carried a common theme of exposing sexual violence towards women, but more than that, it even felt a bit like feminist literature. It seemed odd at times that it was in fact, written by a man. All the female leads were incredibly strong women - Lisbeth is 4'11", 90 lbs, bisexual, and knows how to box, handle weapons and kick any guy's ass, Erika Berger is the Editor-in-Chief of a major magazine and has an open and sexually creative relationship with her husband, Monica Figuerola is a hardcore policewoman, body builder and remains single and unattached to guys...you get the point.

Each chapter in the first book opened with an alarming statistic like this one: Eighteen percent of the women in Sweden have at one time been threatened by a man. In the third book, each chapter opened with a story tidbit about women in power throughout history, for example: An estimated 600 women served during the American Civil War. They had signed up disguised as men. Hollywood has missed a significant chapter of cultural history here - or is this history ideologically too difficult to deal with? Historians have often struggled to deal with women who do not respect gender distinctions, and nowhere is that distinction more sharply drawn than in the question of armed combat. (Even today, it can cause controversy having a woman on a typical Swedish moose hunt.)

Reading the various statistics and watching the development of these powerful women through all 3 novels almost made me feel bad. It brought me back to my 'French Women in Literature' class during my freshman year of college. I've just never felt "feminist enough" or something. Of course I'm proud to be a woman and I'm incredibly grateful for the women who have come before me and allowed me all the freedoms I enjoy today, but I've never felt like a minority and don't really feel the need to call so much attention to those topics.

But reading these books made me think. Do I play into gender stereotypes and baby myself because I am a girl??

Silly example, but over the past few years, I've been attempting to improve my athleticism. I've never been a couch potato, but now that I'm grown, I don't have three nights a week of dance classes and cheerleading practice and I want to fill the void with skills that are more universal and can be continued all my life, like running. But do I give myself excuses because I'm a petite woman? I've been running on and off for about six years, but I never felt confident or any good until this year when I trained and signed up for my first 5k race. I'm still pretty darn slow and I tell myself it's because I'm tiny...but really, I probably just need a drill sargeant to light a fire under my ass and make me go harder, longer, and without stopping in order for me to really improve.

It's an interesting thing to chew on. I mean, women and men are built differently, but do we play into these differences too much? Women's rights have come a long way, but we definitely still think of certain careers and lifestyle choices as more masculine or feminine. How much of it is necessary and how much is basic prejudice and stereotyping? I feel like this is a debate straight out of a Sociology 101 class, but if we didn't give girls dolls when they were little, would they still ask to play with them?

Ah well, anyways, it's a great set of novels and really pulls you into the drama. The only negatives I'll say about the stories are that they suffer from "Stephen King syndrome" - they're super intense and full of action, but drop-off in the ending (I could've done without the last 1/4 of the first novel). And on a minor note, the Swedish character names can be really difficult to keep track of; they all look the same! I'm excited to see the film adaptations of these books in the next year or two - hopefully they don't disappoint (even though most book translations to movies don't ever live up...).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I'm domestic, who knew? The Pecan Pie Adventure

It's one of those classic stories from my childhood that I'm still teased about - one time while trying to make chocolate chip cookies with my best friend, we didn't read the recipe correctly and put a 1/2 cup of baking soda in the batch instead of a 1/2 teaspoon. Salty and disgusting, it was determined that I was not a baker.

Over the years I've learned how to cook various things, and when provoked, I really can cook a nice meal. Problem is, I'm not provoked enough and the "kitchen" in my studio apartment is literally the size of a small recessed closet, so it's extremely difficult to make anything of substance in there. I'm a work in progress and still waiting to figure out what kind of cook I'll be when I "grow up."

My mom is what I'd call a good midwestern cook - she loves the crock pot, her top dishes are meatloaf, chili, baked mac 'n cheese, and homemade soups/stews, and she's known for her crunchy fudge sandwiches (a butterscotch and chocolate version of rice krispie treats - yum). And somehow, she didn't know until about 5 years ago that garlic came in other varieties than powdered seasoning. My dad is the grill master - he loves his classic Weber charcoal grill, and uses any opportunity to bbq. Every year we do our Thanksgiving turkey on the grill in fact, and it never disappoints.

In college, I dated an Italian guy, and discovered all sorts of delicious foods I hadn't been exposed to previously. I never thought I'd learn to like anchovies or olives, and never realized just how delicious a good veal cutlet was. My stomach grew 3 sizes while we were together. I acquired so many great recipes from his grandma and impressed my Irish/German/French/Dutch/English family (I'm basically the European Union) on vacations with alige, mashed chi-chi beans, zucchini pie, and sauteed vegetables.

Living in France, I learned the value of eating real things versus synthetic and processed foods. There is no substitute for real butter, herbs, cream and sugar - if you're gonna do something, do it right. Helping the chef Bernard in the kitchen of the monastery in the mountains, I saw the care he put into each dish, and the joy of creating a meal from scratch and presenting it to others.

I try to take something from all the great cooks that have touched my life, but I've never conquered baking. I don't have as much interest in it (I have a latent sweet tooth, and I'm a mindless eater, so it's best for me not to make or buy sweet treats) and I'm always afraid of screwing it up. With cooking, you can sort of fudge your way through things, but not so with baking - one little mistake and the whole thing gets messed up!

This Thanksgiving, however, I decided to learn to make a pie. I wanted to pick an interesting one to be my sort of "signature." I decided on Southern Pecan Pie. Yes I knowww it's like one of the sweetest, worst-for-you pies, but if you only eat it once a year, it can't be that bad. Plus, it's delicious, not your basic apple pie, and reminds me of my Florida roots and my Aunt Regina that used to always make it for holidays growing up. And guess what - it was easy and I didn't mess it up! Maybe I can bake after all!

Here's my Aunt's recipe:
3 eggs
2/3 c. sugar
dash of salt
1 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 c. broken/chopped pecans
1 nine-inch unbaked pie crust

Beat eggs thoroughly. Add sugar, salt, corn syrup, vanilla, butter and continue mixing with a whisk or hand mixer on low setting until it starts to foam/bubble (about 5-10 minutes).

Layer the bottom of the pie crust with pecans. Make sure the bottom is completely covered and that no pie crust shows through. Pour mixture over pecans (the pecans will rise to the top).

Bake 350 degrees for 50 minutes and voila - all done!

I admit I used a pre-made Pillsbury pie crust, though. One step at a time people!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ombre Hair

I first read about "ombre hair" around January of this year. I was bored with my haircolor and kept seeing pictures of celebs (including one of my favorite style icons, Rachel Bilson) with dark hair that gradually faded to a light brown/blond at the tips. It looked so naturally un-perfect with just the right hint of surfer chic. It made me wish my hair could be sunkissed despite the frigid cold temps and I made the goal right then to go lighter and get these "ombre" highlights as soon as the weather warmed up.

As the months went by and I continued to daydream about kickass highlights, I saw more and more articles about the style... WhoWhatWear, Allure, Glamour, etc. It seemed like every actress I loved was embracing the look, too. So I assumed that when I went to a Manhattan salon in late May, the hairstylist would totally understand the look I was going for. Au contraire, my friends. She had no idea what I was talking about when I said "ombre highlights."

"You don't want your roots done?? Umm okay..." (with a scrunched up stank face, I might add) was her response.

Uh oh. Thank goodness I brought pictures with me. I know every magazine tells you to show your stylist pictures of celeb hairstyles you like before a cut/color...but do you guys actually do that? I always feel so corny whipping out a fan photo of Nicole Richie. Well, pride aside, I've learned my lesson over the years, and sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand descriptive words. Good news - the highlights turned out great. It was subtle and pretty and grew out to look even better than it initially did. And, special bonus, once I actually got some sun over the summer, the highlights lightened even more! I haven't had to touch the color since May.

But now, six months later, the color is fading away and my hair is unruly (it's long and thick and turns into a knotty bird's nest if I don't trim it every few months), so I decided to redo the color and get a cut over Thanksgiving at a salon back home in Pittsburgh. Good ol' mom called and booked the appointment for me yesterday and guess what - hairstylists still don't know what ombre highlights are! Say what you want about Pittsburgh, it's no New York and sometimes trends do get there a little slower...but the term "ombre highlights" has been used on ten million beauty blogs and magazines over the past year and 1 in 5 Hollywood celebs are rocking the look. Why do I still have to fully explain myself and sound like a crazy person that "doesn't want their roots done?"

...Or AM I a crazy person? Does no one else outside of the beauty PR world know what ombre highlights are?

Sigh, someday you all will catch up to my coolness and ahead of the curve-ness (kidding).

*check out my lovely little montage of various ombre-headed actresses...plus me, with wind-whipped and messy but oo-la-la ombre hair in Cali this September. Jolie, ne c'est pas?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

San Francisco and the Perfect Aura

A wise fortune cookie once told me (well, last month), 'The attitude within is more important than the circumstances without." I needed to hear that.

See this summer started out really fun, but somewhere towards the end of July, things started going sour. Financial issues, family stuff, career ruts....I started feeling a bit lost.

In the midst of all this, I remembered that I had planned to go to San Francisco over Labor Day. It's always good timing to go on a cross-country trip when you have no money! Argg. Well, I picked up weekend shifts at two different bars and worked hard to play hard. Despite the crazy work schedule, the trip gave me something to look forward to through the month of August (and my fortune cookie reminded me to refrain from getting too cynical or negative about things).

Well, the SF trip has come and gone. The outcome? I love San Francisco and my bank accounts haven't been frozen (...yet). It's the only city I've visited in California and it was only my second time there, but both times, the city completely brightened my outlook on life right when I needed it.

I love that people in SF seem happy and healthy. I love that dogs are treated like people, that everyone has one and that they run free in the parks. I love that people have active, balanced lifestyles and that laidback attitudes are more prevalent than stressed and unhappy ones.

During my stay, I got to do so many fun things. Our first day we spent doing touristy things (bang 'em out and get them out of the way in my opinion). We wondered through the streets until we found crooked Lombard St. and then headed to Fisherman's Wharf for chowder bread bowls. On a whim, we decided to go on a $15 boat ride around the Bay (the BYOB sign was calling us) and took lots of pictures. It was a great way to spend a sunny and windy first afternoon. That night we headed down to Chestnut St. in Cow Hollow for dinner and drinks with friends we knew in town.

Over the weekend, we headed to Napa. So pretty! We went on the Napa Wine Train one evening for a gourmet meal...our attempt at being classy after the previous night's debauchery. It was really scenic and the food was great, but we were clearly the youngest people there, and we were so tired and hungover that the older couples showed us up! They were partying and having fun while we were trying not to fall asleep and just wanted off the train, haha. I'd skip it unless you're 40+. The next day we did lunch at Mustard's Grill (yum!) and visited Rubicon Estates for some wine tasting. Rubicon happened to be Coppola's fancy pants vineyard (compared to his more family-friendly Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville). It was so picturesque! The wine was good, too...I suppose that's more important.

Back in SF for the remainder of our time, we did sushi and sake bombs off Chestnut St. the Sunday evening before Labor Day. Of course we were THAT group being loud in the restaurant while other people were on dates...oops? We followed it up by sake-fueled dirty dancing until who-knows-what-hour. We spent Labor Day laying in Golden Gate Park (hungover) and soaking up the sun when it peeped out from behind the clouds. Perfection. The other girls left a bit earlier than me, so I spent the rest of my California escape hiking through Sausalito and the Marin Headlands, and thrift shopping in the Mission and along Haight. I even hit up a Yang Yoga class at a climbing gym in true West Coaster fashion - I could get used to that life. Sigh, why does California have to be SO far from my family in Pittsburgh and my friends in NY?

More than just having a great time, being away from work and stress in NY gave me time to do some soul-searching. For laughs, the girls and I visited a psychic in Napa and the strangest thing happened. The woman read everyone's palms but mine! She actually stopped, looked at me and said, "I'm sorry sweetie, but I can't give you a reading today. You don't need one. When you walked in here, I saw your aura right away, and it was full of bright, beautiful colors. Your life and your karma are perfect, and everything will figure itself out within a year."

Um, what?

I mean, I just wanted to give the lady my $25 and have her tell me if I should stay in NY or consider a move, and if I was meant to have a career in PR like everyone else. But hearing that made me happy. It was quite an oddball thing to tell someone, but I think it was a reminder that I don't need to worry. All the issues I've been having are temporary (and there will always be issues and pitfalls to deal with), and all-in-all, my life is coming together. More importantly, my life is fun.

Thinking back on 2010 so far, I have to agree that this has been a pretty great year (and my horoscope tells me that the rest is gonna be fab, too. The Pisces is the luckiest sign for the remainder of 2010!).

Despite the bumps in the road, I've been able to look inward to figure out who I am and what I really want this year. I finally released an old sadness that I held onto for far too long, developed a lot of new friendships and strengthened old ones. I set goals to try new invigorating activities (running a 5k, learning yoga), and remembered to keep up with the things that make me happy – other than boozing with friends (painting, reading, Marlon, being independent...I like sober activities, too!).

I also accepted going with the flow this year, and embraced trips and people that landed in my lap. Going to a wedding in Alabama where I didn't know any other guests? Sure why not? And now I have new friends, a couple of which were just in SF with me. Planning a trip to SF for no particular reason with a girl I only met once (at said wedding)? Sounded like a great opportunity to get back to a city I love and get to know her even better. And it was.

I can't wait to see what else is in store for me...I think I'm on the cusp of something big. Hi life, I'm here, along with my perfect aura. Help me figure out what to do next!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Montauk...the end. And the LI summer beach roundup

This summer I've done a nice lil' tour of Long Island beaches - first a week in Long Beach, then 4th of July on Fire Island and finally a weekend in Montauk. I can't decide which I like best! Each time I arrive at a new beach, I'm in awe all over again and immediately wish I lived there.

I don't know what it is, but I've been craving natural beauty lately. It's a strange feeling for a girl that left Pittsburgh for 'the big city' to have an exciting life. Right now all I seem to want is peace...space...and to be outside! I just get this sense of release when I'm in the fresh summer air, whether it be laying in the sun and walking through the park with Marlon or bobbing in the ocean and tackling waves covered in sand and seaweed. No rushing to get somewhere, no stress, no doing my hair or makeup, and most importantly - no staring at a computer screen all day.

I love being outside on a beautiful day no matter where I am, but for me, the beach takes the cake. I guess I've always been a beach girl - growing up I constantly teased my parents about wishing we would've stayed in Florida (the 3 rivers just didn't do it for me). Honestly, at the moment I think it's just that I'm sick of New York. NYC in the summer is hot, sticky, smelly, and empty. Everyone deserts the city on weekends via the LIRR or the Hamptons Jitney to hit the beaches...it was about time I joined in.

Here's my sum-up of my fave beach spots so far on Long Island:

Long Beach is great because I have a bunch of friends that live there, and it's one of the closest beaches from the city by car or train. Plus it sits on a strip of bars and restaurants that are fun every night of the week. I also like the community feel - you could live here year round (most people do!) and it wouldn't be strange.

Fire Island is fun because you take a ferry to get there and are on a literal island with no cars. On Davis Park where we went, there was one bar/restaurant for the whole beach - Casino (and it was a-maz-ing), one grocery store and snack shop (that ran out of eggs one morning - what??), and a boardwalk flanked by tree-shaded beach houses. Another plus? TOTALLY dog-friendly - Marlon's coming with me next time!!

And then, there's Montauk, the end of Long Island. Literally. I had fond memories of Montauk from a childhood vacation - my family came out to NY for a relative's wedding and then stayed in a little beach shack for a week. I loved it! We went sailing, saw the lighthouse, and my dad and I went on a deep sea fishing excursion. Actually, the deep sea fishing trip wasn't so awesome - the seas were rough that day and both my dad and I got seasick. First memory (and only I think/hope!) of watching my dad barf over me into the ship's port-o-potty. Good times. I felt like my body was rocking with the waves for 3 days afterwards. I digress.

I didn't really know what it would be like this time around...had it become more like an extension of the Hamptons? I mean, the Hamptons are tres mignon and all, but I like a laid-back, barefoot beach town. No shoes for me please. Montauk didn't disappoint. After 3 hours on the train, we stepped off and got into a cab painted like a surf board with a 40 year old driver blasting metal to head to the hotel. Our room's patio doors opened to the beautiful, simple beach. We drank on the deck that night, walked to all the bars on our block, and ordered pizza to be delivered to the pool the next afternoon hungover. Perfection. And let's not forget about our amazing dinner at the open air Crow's Nest restaurant, the 'Main St.' of boutiques and shops, and of course karaoke with Nanci and Jim (ha).

I wish I had a job that let me peace out for the summer months so I could get out of the city and into a cool and vibrant beach town. Sighhh wishful thinking I guess. Until then, at least I live in a city surrounded by beaches!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Makeup and the Morning Commute

I've lived in NY awhile now and I take the N train everyyy morning to work, and there's one thing that I'll never understand (actually there are lots of things I'll never understand on the subway, but that's besides the point) - the ladies who get a seat and immediately whip out their cosmetics bag and proceed to spend the rest of the stop n' go bumpy ride to apply tons of makeup.

Not just a little lip gloss mind you, I'm talking LOOSE powder, mascara and eyeliner - as in a SHARP pointed object aimed at your EYES.

I just don't get it! In my opinion, if you wrangle a seat it should be used in one of 3 productive ways:

1. reading a book
2. reading a trashy magazine
3. zoning to music/sleeping.

I can barely function on the morning train sitting still, let alone apply makeup coherently. I'd end up looking like a freak show with eyeliner streaked down my face! Not only that, but I don't really like to do my makeup in front of other people - it makes me feel like I rely on it too much and seems superficial. Maybe it's because I'm at the wise old age of 25, or maybe because I have some summer color, but I don't really care that much about having lots of makeup on for work.

I'm not judging because I remember a time when I thought I needed a full face of makeup to be seen in public (basically late middle school through high school), but that me has come and gone. Unless I have an awful breakout, I'm meeting with clients at work or I'm going out at night, I have a 5 minute makeup routine. A little tinted moisturizer, concealer, mascara and cheek/lip stain and I'm good to go.

What do you think? How much makeup do you wear in the morning and are you one of those girls that does it on the train? If you are, HOW do you manage?? You have a skill I have never acquired - props to you!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My BFF Becky Bloomwood...and other ways of learning French

Last week I watched Confessions of a Shopaholic with Isla Fisher, and though it got pretty terrible reviews, I have to admit, I thought it was sorta cute. Sure there were a lot of hare-brained schemes that wouldn't pan out in real life (Pretending that you can speak Finnish? Knowing nothing about finance and becoming a popular finance writer? Getting out of massive amounts of debt through a garage sale?), but I have a soft spot for Rebecca Bloomwood.

See, me and the main character of this book series-turned-movie have a special bond - she helps me practice French.

When I started L'accro de shopping dit oui, reading in French finally clicked. In college I took so many French Literature classes, and reading even excerpts of classic French novels made me want to rip my hair out. I couldn't understand the archaic language, I would get bored from working so hard to comprehend it, and I would fall asleep. Or I would attempt to skim and understand the story through my intuition and street smarts, only to fail miserably during the class discussions the next day.

Reading comprehension of a foreign language is one of the quickest things you pick up, and one the skills you tend to retain the longest - but if you hate what you're reading and the language isn't modern, it won't help you in day-to-day life if you ever visit that country. I learned so many commonly used phrases and new vocabulary from reading the French Shopaholic series. How to say 'blow dryer' in French? Learned it from Becky Bloomwood!!

While we can't change the location of our country, I do wish we could change our attitude about the importance of other languages and cultures. Even though French isn't the most useful foreign language to know (Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin anyone?), I realized when I first set foot in Charles de Gaulle Airport that there's a whole other world out there where those vocabulary and reading comprehension lessons suddenly mattered.

When it comes to language - the way we communicate just about everything in life, full of nuances, slang, dialects, changing vocabulary and difficult grammar (where there's an exception to every rule) - you need to practice daily. I've always had such a strong desire to "get it" when it came to the French language, but I realize now after all those classes and my 2 month immersion escape in '08 that gripping the ins and outs of French will always be a challenge and every little bit helps.

Entertainment is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to maintain language skills but I wish things like this were more accessible in the US. At FNAC shops in Paris (a French version of Barnes & Noble), you could buy English or French translations of most popular books. I stocked up on the Gossip Girl series in French, the Shopaholic series and some books by Marc Levy (a well-known French author that's supposed to be easier to read). Here it's a lot harder to find popular novels in foreign language editions (it's all mostly textbooks and classics - blahh). You can try ordering books through Amazon.fr (or whatever other country you're interested in), but navigating the site in another language and with foreign currency can be complicated. I also recently found this site, French Bookworld where I saw French editions of Harry Potter and other recognizable titles.

If you're not a huge reader, watching DVDs with the foreign subtitles is also interesting. Anchorman with French subtitles is pretty hilarious (as if it wasn't already). Actual foreign DVDs are even better, but you'll need to invest in a zone-free DVD player...yet another annoyance of trying to immerse yourself in a different country's culture without leaving the States. Due to copyrights and other things I'll never fully understand, there are certain coded DVD zones throughout the world and our DVD players and laptops will not play DVDs made in a different zone. Sighhh.

Until I can get myself back to France (and with the look of my current bank account, it's gonna be awhile!), I can always pretend through books and movies, and make sure I don't forget all the vocab I worked so hard to learn over the years.

PS - Happy Early Bastille Day! :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Newsies and their Influence on Boy Bands

Today we were talking about Newsies at work. Don't ask me how the 1992 Disney movie about newspaper boys in New York came up, but regardless, any convo about Newsies is a convo I want to be a part of.

I feel like the movie was a little under the radar for anyone my age or younger - I was only in 2nd grade when it came out. You need to be more of a preteen girl to properly appreciate the awesomeness of Newsies, and when I was 13 and was part of a dance recital number to a song from the movie, my friends and I become obsessed. Like OBSESSED. My fave character was Spot...you know "never fear, Brooklyn is here!" My thirteen year old self is swooning.

Let's also not forget that Christian Bale was the lead character - he's done more than just Batman and An American Psycho people!

Annnnyway, I'm getting off topic. After a thorough discussion of our favorite scenes and characters, we decided that watching the musical numbers from the movie was a necessary part of our work day. Just as amazing as I remember! However, I noticed something that I never caught before....Newsies is totally the precursor to the boy band movement of the late 90s/early 2000s!!! Check out these sweet moves from the Seize the Day video:

And now, for your viewing and comparing pleasure, let's go back to 2000 and check out 'NSync's Bye Bye Bye video. Ummmm do their dance moves during the chorus look familiar?

Love it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yes We Can - vote Histoires de Parfums!

So, if you read this blog, or know me personally, you probably know about my love of all things French (reference my posts from August - October 2008!). Well, lucky for me, my agency began working with Parisian fragrance collection Histoires de Parfums last December.

The collection of 16 fragrances has the coolest backstory - for those with zero knowledge of the French language, "Histoires de Parfums" translates to "Perfume Stories" and each scent tells a story - of a historic figure, legendary place, revered plant or idyllic year. It's fun to learn about the muse behind the fragrance - even the boxes are shaped like an old book to complete the theme.

I have a tough time with fragrance - anything too strong tends to give me a headache - and these are some potent traditional French eau de parfums... But as I've worked with the collection I've learned so much about the power of scent and how to properly appreciate it. My favorites so far? Vert Pivoine: a fresh and watery peony scent, 1889 Moulin Rouge: a unique scent with notes of absinthe and lipstick, 1969: a spicy unisex scent with citrus and chocolate notes, and Tuberose 3: a warm unisex scent with plum and dried grasses.

Speakingggg of Tuberose 3, I have a favor to ask. Histoires de Parfums's new Tuberose Trilogy has received the incredible honor of being named a Top 5 Nominee for the 2010 FiFi Fragrance Foundation Awards. This is HUGE! We're so proud to have made it this far - but now it's up to you!

Everyone is invited to vote for their favorites in each category through this link. If you want to support us, we'd be ever so grateful! Voting is open from today, Wednesday 4/28 - Wednesday 5/19 and the Tuberose Trilogy is nominated under the Unique Boutique category.

Here's some more info about the nominated Tuberose Trilogy, a trio of distinctly different scents all based around the tuberose flower:
  • Tuberose 1, Capricieuse: a powdery floral with top notes of bergamot and saffron, middle notes of ylang ylang and iris, and a dry-down of suede and cocoa. A little sweet, a little salty.
  • Tuberose 2, Virginale: a floral oriental that opens with mandarin and cherries, leading to middle notes of jasmine and frangipani, and base notes of vanilla and patchouli. Cheery and fruity, and the most feminine of the bunch.
  • Tuberose 3, Animale: a leathery floral with top notes of neroli and kumquat, strong middle notes of plum, herbs and dried grasses, and a dry-down of immortelle flower and blond tobacco. The most masculine of the three, but the ladies like it, too!
Not sure if you'd like the scents? I'm happy to send you a sample of your choice (I'm capping this at 10 people though, sorry folks)! Just send me a note or a comment below with your fave of the trio and your address.

Don't forget to vote - Yes We Can, or Oui Nous Pouvons!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

my first 5k!

I ran my first 5k this weekend. No stopping, no walking....BOOYAH it felt good.

See, I've always felt kind of pathetic when it came to running. My dad - a runner. My brother - any sport comes naturally to him so he's running a 1/2 marathon in two weeks. Sighh, me - not so much. I was always more into dance and cheerleading growing up. I'm extremely petite (to put it nicely) and my face tends to turn tomato red after running about 10 minutes.

But, in January, when it was freezing cold and I was miserable and feeling the weight of eating too much junk over the holidays, I decided to run a 5k this year. If old men can run marathons, surely I could at least manage to run 3 miles in front of other people without stopping.

So how'd I do it? A cool little training schedule I found online called C25k or 'couch to 5k'. It's technically made for extremely inactive people with zero running experience, so I figured there would be no way for me to fail. The program is 9 weeks long with 3 short runs a week. Week 1 began by alternating 1 minute of running and 1.5 minutes of walking for 20 minutes (easy peasy!) and slowly built up to running 20 minutes straight after 6 weeks, 25 after 7, 28 at 8, and a final week of three 30 minute runs. And voila - 30 minutes is (give or take) about how long a 5k run should take. I felt so good at week 7, I skipped week 8 and went straight to running 30 minutes. My biggest problem ended up being boredom! Running on the treadmill in my apartment facing the wall got pretty boring. I even tried to spice up my wall decor by adding a fake naked picture of Johnny Depp I cut from Cosmo, haha.

I chose a small race in Astoria Park this past weekend for my 5k debut. Just in case I ended up being super slow, I didn't want to get pummeled by a bunch of NYC Road Runners! The race benefitted QSAC - Quality Services for the Autism Community of NYC and LI. That's another cool thing about races - the proceeds always go to good causes, so you feel like you're contributing to something bigger than yourself.

And how'd I do? My finishing time was 33:40 - not so bad for a first time!! I even ended up passing up some guys which made me feel pretty good about myself. I won't lie and say it was easy...I was tired, and I wanted to stop during that last mile, but i didn't need to stop. I knew I could do it. And it was kinda fun having people cheer you on on the sidelines - I liked being cheered for instead of being the cheerleader for once!

In summation, if you need a kick in the pants when it comes to fitness, set a goal for yourself. I do so much better when I have a standard to hold myself to. Things can get boring when you do the same jog, or the same yoga workout every week. If you want to check out the program I used, here's the site: www.c25k.com. Summer is around the corner - so get your butt on the treadmill! ;)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper

Recommended to me by a friend, I recently read Diablo Cody's memoir Candy Girl. What a quirky and fun story!

Somewhere along the line I learned that the writer of Juno had a background in stripping and that she was funny, but reading this drove the point home. You can easily read this book in 3-4 days - I mean, obviously the subject matter (stripping in all its glory) is intriguing, but the way she brings you into that world widens your eyes, cracks you up and makes you not want to put it down.

Candy Girl chronicles Diablo Cody's one illustrious year as a stripper. Working at a dead end office job in Minnesota, she randomly decided to try out for an amateur night at a seedy townie strip club for curiosity's sake, but the curiosity didn't stop. Pulled into the crazy nightclub, cash rich, boobs=power lifestyle, she kept stripping on the side and eventually did it full time, with a stint as a peep show doll and a phone sex operator thrown in there, too. Her candid, honest take on the sex industry combined with her absolute normalcy and blatant sense of humor made this a great read. I realize why I liked the movie Juno so much now (And on a side note, I really should check out Jennifer's Body and the United States of Tara).

Aside from the entertaining subject matter, her voice is what really got to me. I saw a bit of myself in there. As the subtitle states, for her it was "A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper." As she developed into a stripper - buying the wigs, cheap bikinis and platform heels, becoming friends with her fellow workers, and grinding on strangers for tips night after night - she kept the perspective of someone on the outside looking in. Never quite sure if she fit the part and was indeed a "stripper" with all the stigmas and stereotypes attached.

I have the habit of trying out new personas - kind of like an actress going through life and trying out new roles every few years. In junior high, I set a goal to become a cheerleader. I played the role well but I was never sure if I fit in or had the right character for the job. At 18, I decided to become a New Yorker. I've lived here 7 years now, but I still don't embody the typical "New Yorker" attitude and I'm not sure I ever will. At 20, I became a bartender. I love the power, fun and cash that come with the title (and this may be the happiest and best fit I've found for myself so far), but I still doubt myself and my ability to blend in at times. At 23, I decided to travel to France and throughout Europe by myself. I don't know if I fit the mold of a true "world traveler," but I did have the time of my life...

This book almost made me consider taking a spin around the ol' stripper pole, butttt not quite. I already know that cash heavy, boobs=power world full of quirky middle-aged regulars and hopeful college boys, and I'm happy I just have to serve them drinks and nothing more (ha).

So, if you're curious about the world of stripping but can't see yourself hitting the next amateur night in your town, try this instead. Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thoughts on Beauty and Life as a Girl

I remember using Cision (PR speak for the Yellow Pages of editors, bloggers and producers) for the first time almost 3 years ago at my first job. I was updating our Beauty Bible of editors and thought it was a tad strange that they were all classified as "beauty and grooming editors." The word "grooming" conjured up images of cats licking and matting down their fur...why not just call them beauty eds?

Fast forward to last week when I was leaving the salon near my office after getting a wax. It suddenly hit me...in today's world, beauty IS grooming.

grooming - to care for the appearance of; to make neat and trim

And let me tell you, for ladies, there is a lot to care for. Manicures, pedicures, brow tweezing, waxing and shaving everywhere, expensive face creams, makeup, lash enhancers, haircuts (TG I don't have blond hair, getting regular highlights would be such a bitch)....

And this really isn't an exaggeration - there is NO SUCH THING as a natural beauty. We aren't in the times of Adam and Eve anymore. It's not being fake, it's just the reality of being a girl.

The upkeep can get exhausting and I swear it's not always fun (some parts of grooming do NOT feel good), but without shaving everyday, getting regular hair trims and just generally taking care of ourselves, we wouldn't be considered confident women...and we probably wouldn't get any dates either.

That's all. Just a thought on grooming's place in the world of beauty. It's both the savior and bane every girl's existence!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ah, the joys of New York living...

Hey dolls, it's been a bit. Not sure why I've been out of touch - long hours at work, winter slump, lack of inspiring things to write about...excuses, excuses I know.

Well, even if it's only to explain how stupid I am and have it in writing that I plan to change, I felt the need to write tonight.

I have lived in New York for almost 7 years now, and for the first time, I had my bag stolen. I've been extremely lucky thus far considering I can be careless while out at bars - I tend to put my things down and forget about them and I may have thrown a phone or two into oblivion on a tipsy walk home, but I've always managed to come out without much damage. Not anymore apparently.

Last weekend I was fist pumping away to Pauly D's spins with my Snooki poof and JWoww dress at Sutton Place (yep, I really did that - check out my quote and pic here) and some GRIMY GUIDETTE stole my bag!! My expensive, favorite Botkier bag with all my belongings inside including nice digital camera, wallet with license and credit cards and apt/car keys. Miraculously I still have my phone. One second the bag was with me, the next it was gone. I must've been beatin' up the beat while texting, because there's no other explanation for me to have my phone and nothing else (hooray for multi-tasking!). Searched the bar, called the bar next day, filed a police report, posted a message on Craig's List...nothing. Tried tracking down my last remaining spare car key to no avail. I am now replacing door locks, car locks, credit cards, insurance cards, and sending away for a new license - not fun.

Game-changer. It's time I quit trusting people and became a full-blown skeptical, paranoid New Yorker. How am I going to change? Ohh let me count the ways.

1. No more expensive bags. If I'm only 24 and can barely afford my rent, I have no business carrying a bag that's over $100. Nuff said. For now, I'm relying on Urban Outfitters and sites like Lulus for trendy and not terribly cheap looking bags. And when I go out? Wristlets and bags somehow attached to my body only.

2. No more cameras in bars. Do I think I look good in drunk pictures? Because I don't. There's no need for me to take an expensive camera when I go out. I hate posting pictures on Facebook anyway. I'll leave the photography and bad pictures to someone else.

3. Multiple spare keys left in multiple places. And they need to live near me. Getting a key mailed from another state takes far too long and I've racked up way too many tickets. Thanks alternate-side parking laws!

4. Only one credit card and $40 max are allowed to come with me to a bar. I didn't have much cash on me when the bag was stolen, but seriously all my credit cards? What was I thinking? Canceling 3 credit cards and a debit card is a-nnoy-ing.

5. Time to become a NY resident. I'm sick of mailing PennDOT money and waiting weeks for a new, valid license every time I'm up for renewel/I lose it. Over it. I hate my latest PA driver's license picture anyway and I'm ready to quit paying double state taxes.

My 25th birthday is in exactly a month. Guess it's time I reel it in and man up to responsibility. Oy, wish me luck.