New Year’s intentions: by J

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Like many people, despite its cliche, I still look at the New Year as a time to bring a better version of myself into being.

I started thinking of my New Years resolutions as intentions a few years ago. Resolutions felt more external to me, where intentions were more about an internal direction.

This helped me because my goals are usually about my internal landscape. Less about losing weight and more about being less critical of myself and others.

As intentions, I can look back and decide if I have made progress and not just completed a task.

Starting this blog with K, has been one of the greatest achievements for me as it helped build a bridge between the 2582 miles between us, it forced me to write most days, it brought me face to face with my deep inner critic, which I learned to quiet, and it forced my writing into the world, whether I liked it or not.

So thank you 2012, and to you lovely people for reading and your comments, and to K for being the perfect blog partner for me,

and welcome 2013,

xo J

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perfect party: by J

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My idea of a perfect New Year’s eve outfit.

A black and gold dress for the right mix of glamor and beauty. Dark red nails, and a subtly stained lip.

Sadly I wouldn’t last 10 minutes in those heels, and I’m not even sure I’d have the guts to wear a dress like that, but why not dream.

I hope you have some sparkly New Years plans,

xo J

Kristiana dress by Alice + Olivia | Ingrid clutch by BCBG | Sully platform pump by Enzo Angiolini | Chinatown blood nail polish by NARS | Tinted lip balm by Burts Bees | Kissing Elixirs breath mint

leather and lace: by K

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I did that thing again where I convince myself I am a unique fashionista whose idea it is to bring leather and lace back into the picture. Why don’t I realize when I am being brainwashed. This frightens me.

Anyway – Leather and lace are back and better then ever and apparently I had nothing to do with it.  I love the black leather dress above from French Connection – Though I am only five feet two inches, so I need a leather dress that stops above the knee, not below.  I also need one that is less then $400.

My dress of choice for this new years is the deep V lace French Connection dress. I am not sure if I am brave enough to wear it, I’ll know that as soon as I try it on.  This will be my first actual new years eve bash where I am required to dress up so I am half excited half totally stressed. I need to fit into what right after Christmas??

After all of the complaining I do year after year when it comes to this fateful night, I finally have a fun party to go to with a dance floor and everything – and all I can manage to do is stress about a dress.  Ain’t that always the way.

That aside, I am determined to start 2013 off in a fabulous way and so whatever I wear must be fabulous. Maybe a little risky too. Because that’s also a good way to start a new year.

Have you figured out your new years outfit yet? Or did I just stress you out…

xoxo k

Deep V Lace Dress from French Connection|Leather Dress from French Connection|Lace Dress from BCGB

a cioppino christmas: by K

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And now begins the count down to the next Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve in my family is everyone’s favorite night of the year, across the board. My parents host at their house in Westchester and 14 members of the family get together to eat for 8 hours straight. We also open presents and sit by the fire and blah blah blah … but eating really is the main event.

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My mom and Nana prepare a meal that all 14 of us dream about all year long. In the traditional Italian way, our Christmas Eve dinner consists primarily of seafood … “the 7 fishes” as they say:

breaded and baked shrimp and clams, the best seafood salad you have EVER tasted in your LIFE (roughly consisting of chopped shrimp, calamari, scallops, olives, lemon, garlic, onion and drizzled olive oil), crab legs, filet of sole, lobster tails and plenty of melted butter.

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And at the center of it all is my mom’s amazing Cioppino fish stew with homemade foccacia bread. Cioppino has been part of our Christmas Eve dinner since before I can remember and right before my move out west my mom revealed that the inspiration for the dish came from one of her trips to San Francisco. For those of you who, like me, didn’t know, Cioppino originated in the Italian American community out in SF.

This new bit of information definitely made my transition out in a new city a tiny bit easier. Feeling homesick? No problem. Let’s go to the Fog City Diner and order a dish of their famous Cioppino. Not a bad touchstone to have.

I’m getting older and am realizing more and more each year how much work really goes into this special night. And therefore my mom becomes more and more amazing in my eyes. It’s because of her that all 14 of us look forward to this night each year. She won’t agree. She knows its a lot of work but believes anyone can do it. She doesn’t realize how much love goes into what she creates without her thinking twice, which is what makes it so special. I only hope I can create half of the magic she creates for my family down the line.

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Stay warm my fellow east coasters… another nor easter is on her way.

xoxo k

ps all pictures taken by myself and my sweet sister

A hot Christmas: by J

* image via Noble Mission

It’s definitely a different experience to wear shorts on Christmas.

I’ll be attending my first mass tonight, and after we’ll have a traditional chicken soup among other things.

I’m enjoying the different culture here. And while the houses are strung with lights and decorations, it doesn’t completely feel like Christmas.

One thing that is absolutely the same is how much delicious food there is to eat. I’m hoping my yoga pants still fit when I get back.

Happy Holidays,

xo J

End of the world: by J

We spent the end of the world appropriately. Perched on the lip of a inactive volcano that houses a smaller volcano in the depths of its now water filled centre. The Philippines seems to be filled with wonders like Taal.

With family we had a lunch of grilled pork belly and squid, crispy pork, chicharon, sigsig, and pansit among other things.

I have a feeling that Filipino food may be the next big thing if it isn’t already.

Happy Friday,

xo J

sandyhook help: by K

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I ride the subway to and from work everyday and am constantly witness to frustrated, angry, impolite people.  I love NYC and can certainly appreciate the “edginess” of this place, but sometimes it does affect my day in a negative way.

This morning I witnessed something really simple. A man saw a young girl carrying a few bags, stood up and gave her his seat. No words were exchanged, just a relieved smile from the girl and a subtle nod from the man.

Do you remember that commercial from a year or so ago – I think it was for an insurance company – that showed how one good deed directly inspires another, and another and another until the whole world is in this perfect harmony of politeness and butterflies? As idealistic and overly simplistic as that commercial seemed when I first saw it, I became aware of how accurate that concept is this morning. After seeing that sweet gesture from that man, my walk to work was a little bit lighter. I held doors a little longer, I smiled a little more often. And I can only hope that the positive energy I was sending out (genuinely) was having the same affect on someone else.

The happenings of this morning led to a bigger thought. J & I haven’t touched yet on the Sandyhook tragedies – mostly because, I have no idea what to say. I don’t have anything but anger and frustration to add to the conversation. There’s no sense to be made here. Just when we thought our nation couldn’t possibly be more angry and violent and terrifying…it suddenly is.  My only genuine thought has been, what kind of world do I live in?

Then this morning I saw this nice thing happen and I became aware of how that nice thing made me – someone not involved at all – feel. And faith in humanity and our crazy world began to creep back in a little. There are literally no words for what occurred on Friday. I’ve re typed this sentence about eight times and no word does it justice. But, when we as human beings become aware of our surroundings amazing things happen. And knowing that a simple smile or act of good will on your morning commute could potentially change the way a whole person feels, gives me hope.

A co worker of mine organized a paper snow flake making corner of the office today. The new school the children are being transferred to is hoping to get as many snow flakes as they can to decorate the school into a winter wonderland.  It’s not much, but if it makes any of those little kids smile, I’m in. And it seems we all are feeling the same way. My office is on pause right now while everyone sits down with scissors and glitter making the best damn paper snow flakes ever made. We all want to feel better about our world and we all want to help. We just don’t know what to do.

So, don’t take my word for it. Try it today if you haven’t already. Be aware and do something nice for someone else and see how that makes you feel. And let’s hope that each time we make a move like that, someone else is watching and is inspired to do the same thing and someday we will live in a world filled with politeness and butterflies.

Here are some other ways to help and an address to send letters of support to families:

Sandy Hook Elementary School
12 Dickenson Drive
Newtown, CT 06482

xox k

Charcuterie: by J

A charcuterie and cheese board is my favorite way to cozy up in winter for an intimate dinner, or just to have something to snack on with cocktails or wine with friends. It is such an easy simple indulgence.

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My favorites include, prosciutto, spanish chorizo, Mount Tam brie cheese, cavelstrano olives, this pesto tapenade, and a fresh chewy baguette.

xo J

Flight plan: by J

* photo via Quite Curious

I’m not a big fan of flying.

I’m not particularly afraid of it, I just don’t really like it.

Specifically the recirculated air, cramped space, and the extreme restlessness that sets in. I always end up feeling nauseous, dry and exhausted.

I’m also not sure if this is due to the flying itself or the horrible choices I make food wise when in a plane. All ideals of healthy eating typically go out the window in replace of a food is near me so I eat it mentality. I hoard the tiny packs of salty snacks, and usually eat a jumbo sized bag of twizzlers or something as ridiculously lacking in nutrition.

I’m getting a little wiser though and packed carrot and celery sticks, raw almonds, homemade sandwiches, and as much water as I could cart, with of course a mix of tiny cookies and chips to balance it out, for our 16 hour flight.

Do you have any flying tips?

Happy Monday,

xo J