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Monthly Archives: May 2013
In a few weeks, I will be turning thirty-five years old. I guess this will be a milestone birthday, especially since I will now officially be part of a different age bracket. I don’t anticipate transforming into another human being, but I do have one goal. On the cusp of turning thirty-five, I vow to no longer be a “meh” person. Allow me to explain.
This week hasn’t been that great. I encountered several disappointments and I reacted the way I normally do: Meh. My Cancer-Crab tendencies are to close up and act indifferent when I feel hurt. Sometimes it is true; I don’t really care or it doesn’t really bother me. However, other times I do feel hurt and a bunch of other emotions. Instead of just reverting to my “meh” ways, I want to learn how to embrace the disappointment, vocalize it and do something productive with it.
I am very expressive with Mr. ShuGar and sometimes a bit too much. It’s easy to be yourself with the person that has vowed to love you forever. Yet, I don’t want to let out my frustrations and pain out on him, as, unfortunately, I have done on many occasions. It’s rarely him who is the cause of my hurt. He deserves better than that. In fact, he has been the one person who has never disappointed me. This is just one of the billion reasons why Mr. ShuGar is my heart.
I want to remove apathy from my vocabulary. Instead, I want to immerse myself in the hurt and move forward. This blog is one avenue I now have to work through the disappointments. I am really proud and happy I am accomplishing my life-long dream of writing. Blogging nourishes my soul; it’s as if I was born to write. For many years, I ignored this part of me because it felt like a distraction to my daily responsibilities. Now, I feel whole in a way I have never felt because I am writing. I don’t even know if anyone reads this, but it doesn’t matter. Blogging fulfills me and I am loving every minute of it.
As the first step in my promise, I am signing up to take a photography class. I want to use photography as another avenue to avoid that “meh” tendency of mine. This is something I can do as an outlet when I feel blah. I have always wanted to master the art of photography and now is the time to do it. Mr. ShuGar has a new DSLR camera and I have no idea what all those buttons are, but I want to learn. Using my blog as a platform, I hope to share my photos with you so you can explore my city and life with me.
Another lesson I have learned in these thirty-four and ¾ years is that life is full of disappointments. Rarely do things go exactly how you want. You may have crafted a master plan for your life, but, as the talented John Lennon stated, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” Instead of fighting this, I would like to practice a different approach. When life imposes tangents that detour my plans, I want to accept it and find the silver lining, even if it’s a tiny positive outcome. It’s the only way to not be infected by “meh.”
Thank you for reading my blog. I am excited to share much more of my heart and soul with the blogging world! I plan on taking you on my photography journey in the upcoming months. No mas “meh” for me!
I hope you had a nice Memorial Day weekend!
I don’t know how many floral dresses I had growing up as a child, but I can guarantee I had a closet full. The ones I wore as a child were cute, but the ones I wore as a teenager seemed more cheesy than cute. Eeew..flower ruffles!
I credit summer for inspiring this dream of flowers. I am looking forward to planting flowers in our yard to add some color to all the greenery. Lately, I’ve been going to the supermarket and looking for different bouquets to decorate our house. I currently have peonies in our living room thanks to a recommendation from a friend that said they are very economical at Trader Joes.
This summer I am loving the revamping of the cheesy floral fashion. Florals are very much in season literally and figuratively. I was inspired by these two floral canvases when I was searching through Pinterest. You can use florals as a statement piece with one of these sweet dresses/pants or you can embrace a touch of florals in your flats. Using a floral print is also great for your garden summer parties or during this wedding season time. Flowers in your fashion exemplify summer fun outside in this gorgeous weather. When I see any of these floral pieces, they just make me smile!
Happy Short Week!
Music covers are tricky. I feel that most of them suffer a similar fate as that of movie sequels: They rarely measure up to the original. However, there are a lucky few music covers that manage to pay homage to the original, but add a fresh twist which almost make them feel like “new” songs.
Mr. ShuGar and I are music lovers. In fact, this was one of the first things I noticed about our chemistry when we first met. We both enjoy discovering new music and we welcome any chance to experience live music, especially at the Hollywood Bowl. This is why LA is a perfect home for us – it brings musical talent from all over the world right to our backyard. I love that Mr. ShuGar appreciates harmonies, instruments, composition etc. It makes me love him ten times more!
Recently, Mr. ShuGar and I had a conversation about the “best music covers” and, of course, we agreed on most of them. What I found interesting was that we both gravitated to covers of either The Beatles (of course!) or The Beach Boys.
For this Memorial Day weekend, I present to you my five favorite music covers in no particular order.
Regina Spektor’s Real Love (John Lennon)
I definitely have a girl crush on Regina Spektor. She embodies a songstress. I just adore what she does with John Lennon’s Real Love. Mr. ShuGar and I actually chose this as our first wedding dance as a married couple. The lyrics are simple, yet they tell the profound story of our love and devotion. We were lucky enough to see her in concert at the Greek a year ago. She’s even more breathtaking in person!
Fiona Apple’s Across the Universe (The Beatles)
Fiona Apple’s voice adds a new dimension to this Beatles classic. It’s alluring, enchanting and a bit melancholic. The perfect formula for a touching song! I just dig Fiona’s style and her take on the original version. Plus, this just happens to be one of my fav Beatles song and I think I might like her cover more than the original! (Read about my Top Beatles songs here.)
Karina Denike’s The Lonely Sea (The Beach Boys)
I credit Mr. ShuGar with discovering this cover by Karina Denike. He is a huge Beach Boys fan and I am learning to appreciate Brian Wilson’s genius thanks to Mr. ShuGar. The original is so beautiful, but this cover by this female trio is amazing! Their harmonies blend so well and they definitely add their own style to this song. I love to see female vocalists embrace the power of their voices in this way. I hope more people discover Karina Kenike’s talent!
She & Him’s I Should Have Known Better (The Beatles)
Is there anything Zooey Deschanel can’t do? I love this band and I especially like her quirky style. This duet works so well and I think they really create their own version of this Beatles song. I still really like the original, but this one works so well. It has a softer, breezy tone and I appreciate them embracing this “Hawaiian” style, while still staying true to the song.
Matt Pond’s Holiday Road (Lindsey Buckingham)
Does anyone remember National Lampoon’s Vacation? I seriously don’t know how many times my sister and I watched this movie – maybe 1,000! I grew up hearing this Holiday Road song so I have it memorized. When I heard Matt Pond’s version I fell in love again! It’s at a different pace than the original, but it’s so rad. It has a deeper feel and I think it’s especially apropos for this holiday weekend.
I know there are a million covers out there, but these are some of my favs.
Hope you are having a happy Memorial Day weekend!
Summer is almost officially here and I am getting ready to enjoy it! First things first, I went to CVS to get some new nail polish because I had to do something to prepare for the days being longer and the sun shining more (although in So Cal it shines lots anyways). I decided to pick out these two summery colors: Mint green and Lilac. They do have a spring feel to them, but they also translate to the fun summer vibe.
What I like about these two colors is that they pop with whatever you are wearing. Sally Hansen’s #270 Lacey Lilac is nice and soft and the #340 Mint Green has a bolder tone.
Both are cute and perfect for summer outfits. The best part is that they each cost under $4.00! Add a vibrant color to your nails to welcome summer!
Photo credit: Peter Shushtari
Font & graphic layout – We Lived Happily Ever After
Eleven letters. Fourteen characters. Three words.
I forgive you.
It has been a life-long struggle of mine to say these words and mean them. In my adult years, I have mastered the other three words – I am sorry. Those words were high priority in order to succeed in relationships and also at work. Now, I can say “I am sorry” with conviction. But those other three words – I forgive you – still cause me anguish.
I’m not referring to when someone is late to a meeting and you forgive him for being tardy. No, I am talking about the forgiveness you give when someone you loved blatantly and unequivocally broke your heart. When it comes to a broken heart, I have not mastered forgiveness.
I don’t regret having had my heart broken. In fact, I appreciate it now because it made me stronger and taught me what I deserve. I am also not still in love with him anymore. That’s not what this is about. I have moved on and found love, a deeper love, and I am thankful every moment of my existence. That heartbreak ultimately brought me to Mr. ShuGar.
However, the aftereffects of a broken heart still linger in subtle ways. Sometimes I don’t even realize the scars remain because they are usually hidden and rarely on my mind. When Mr. ShuGar and I have certain arguments, I know that it’s not always what he has done, but what someone else in my past has done to me. Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I understand now that in order for me to release this ghost I must forgive him. Three not-so-easy words.
This is not the time or place to air out my dirty laundry. Nor do I want to bash him. That would mean that I hold resentment and, thankfully, I don’t any more. Yet, experiencing betrayal is earth shattering. It makes you doubt everything from that moment forward and everything before that moment. This is why trust is so valuable. It’s the foundation of a healthy relationship.
The reason I have a hard time with forgiveness is because I wonder if all was just a lie. Was he lying when he said I love you? Was he just using me from day one? What kind of a person betrays and humiliates someone they love like that? These are questions that still haunt me and remain roadblocks in my path towards forgiveness. How can I forgive what someone did to me when I would never do those same things to anyone I loved?
The challenging part is that I cannot get answers. Forgiveness comes despite getting all the answers. This kills me. If I had all the facts, then I could make an informed decision. But, life is not black and white. It’s moments of gray that are nebulous.
I don’t wish him any harm. I actually hope he is happy wherever he is. I hope I can say those three words one day so that I can feel a sense of release. Without forgiveness, there is a weight on your heart. It sometimes clouds your judgment. I know the moment you open your heart, it becomes vulnerable. That is love – a leap of faith. The heart has an amazing capacity to not only heal, but to forgive. I pray my heart mends and embraces those three words one day.
I want to forgive you….one day.
* P.S. A good friend recommended this book about forgiveness – “Forgive for Good” by Dr. Fred Luskin. It’s on my reading list and I will review it once I read it.
I am really silly with Mr. ShuGar. The only other people I ever act like this with are my family. I sing to Mr. ShuGar random songs I make up in the moment; I do these funny dances right in front of him; I make up funny words or nicknames. All of this to get his attention and to just act playful in front of him. It’s a part of me I give to him for “his eyes” only. These bursts of silliness are little parts of me that I give to him.
One of the silly phrases I frequently tell Mr. ShuGar is this:
I’m going to put you in my pocket and take you with me all day.
It may sound cheesy, but I do literally want to insert Mr. ShuGar into my pocket and have him “be” with me all day. So much of my day is spent without him. So much of my day is spent with people I cannot be silly with because I need to be “professional.”
I daydream for a mini-Mr. ShuGar in my pocket because I want to carry that love with me throughout the day. I am constantly amazed at how cold and, frankly, how mean certain people can be. Our daily interactions with people can be jarring and sometimes upsetting when stress and conflict are involved. Whenever I want to escape any difficult situation, I fantasize pulling Mr. ShuGar from my pocket so that he can give me a hug and tell me, “Don’t worry. Everything is going to be ok. Remember, I love you.”
That’s all. Is there anything more special than that? In an instant, he can make everything all better.
I heard a song on the radio the other day that reminded me of this silly pocket phrase I tell Mr. ShuGar.
The song is called “Penny” by Hanni El Khatib and he sings about a penny he wants to keep in his pocket and never lose. Hanni repeats throughout the song, “You’re my perfect little penny. So please shine on.”
Mr. ShuGar is “my perfect little penny.” If only I could sneak him into my pocket so I could face life’s daily challenges with him by my side. He would be my little pocket secret. But for now, coming home after a long day of work to receive a hug and a kiss is as close to heaven as I am going to get.
|1| Turquoise Necklace |2| Geometric Neon Leather Necklace |3| Indira Necklace |4| Bamboleo Necklace |5| Lizzie Fortunato Necklace
Confession: I am an accessories addict. If you know me, you can verify my claim. Accessories can make or break an outfit, sometimes more than the actual clothes you are wearing. My perspective on accessories is that our bodies are a blank canvas. I welcome the chance to “decorate” myself from head to toe to reflect my personal style: quirky cute.
Chunky necklaces are the easiest way to take any outfit from drab to fab. The trick is knowing what to pair your chunky necklaces with and what accessories (not) to wear with them.
First, let me start by saying I do not shy away from any color in my wardrobe. I know some people like to stick with certain color paletttes, but I welcome everything, just not all at once.
Above are 5 of my current chunky necklace obsessions – all different, but all gorgeously bold. One of the things that you will notice right away is that the color blue is a common thread among several of them. After all, it’s my favorite color and turquoise is my favorite stone. Necklaces #’s 1 and 4 show turquoise in different variations – oh so fun!
When wearing chunky necklaces, you really need to tone down the rest of your outfit so that the necklace itself is the signature piece that draws the most attention. You can certainly wear a patterned blouse, but patterned pants on top of a patterned blouse topped off with a chunky necklace might be too jarring. However, fashion has no rules so you can probably make anything work!
When I wear chunky necklaces, I usually wear simple stud earrings or opt out of wearing any at all. I don’t want to overpower these bold necklaces because they demand all the attention. You can have accessories with different shapes. For example, #5 gold necklace reminds of the current Great Gatsby trend and it resembles more of a choker than a longer loose necklace. Bibs are also great because they lie perfectly on your chest and can carry many different stones on them. Another trend right now is geometric neon shapes as seen in necklace #2. You can dress this necklace up or down if you wear it with a plain white tee or an elegant flowy blouse.
I recommend experimenting with chunky necklaces – you won’t know what will look good on you until you try! Fashion should be about having fun. I say, “Go chunky and bold or go home!” =)
There are not many streets in LA that cut through the city from east to west with so much diversity as that of Wilshire Boulevard. Starting from Grand Avenue in Downtown LA to Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, Wilshire Boulevard is eclectic, gentrified, bustling, a bit dodgy at times and one of the many reasons why I heart my city. Where else can a street have all of this and end mere blocks from the beach?
I stumbled upon this rad infographic on Pinterest. I am currently obsessing over infographics as they really do a great job of communicating raw data in a digestable format. This Wilshire Blvd. infographic is taken from the website: good.is and is filled with all sorts of other informative goodies.
When people outside of LA think of LA, they certainly don’t conjure up images of Wilshire. Instead, tourists believe Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards exemplify LA. I beg to differ with the tourist masses; Wilshire Boulevard is LA. If you take a closer look at the infographic you can see why.
Allow me to share my love for Wilshire Boulevard.
Before I do so, I’d like to provide a disclaimer. I am well aware that Wilshire is heavily congested and is a pain in the neck at times. I experience that every day since I take it as part of my commute. However, there’s so much more to this street than traffic jams and bumpers almost kissing other bumpers.
Let’s start driving in Downtown LA
My first job out of college was in the heart of downtown right off of Wilshire and Figueroa. Before that job, I thought downtown was dead all the time – a place where the homeless walk around and harass pedestrians. This is so not the case, especially during the day! There is so much great, bustling energy when you work downtown – lunch is a big thing in this area. I loved spending my lunch time break outside the Central Library. So gorgeous!
Next Stop: Koreatown
As fate would hate it, another job that brought me to the streets of this uniquely special part of Wilshire. The only thing I ever knew about Koreatown growing up in LA was the LA riots. Boy, was I wrong! This is by far one of my fav places for food – so much yummy variety of authentic ethnic cuisine.
The Korean food is divine and there are so many cute boutique shops! I actually bought my wedding dress (for really cheap) blocks away from Wilshire. I’d like to highlight one of my ultimate favorite Korean food eateries: BCD Tofu House. Every time I go, I order the Soon Tofu seafood soup – a (scalding) hot bowl of goodness made with chunks of tofu and fresh seafood, served with rice, lots of Korean spices and other delicious side dishes. On a cold LA day, there is nothing like a bowl of Soon Du Bu!
Park & Explore the Miracle Mile
Love, love, love this area! It’s the artist in me that wishes I lived here. Museum Row is where I want to spend all my day– so much art in this one block. As a kid, I used to visit all the time because my parents took us to La Brea Tar Pits. Boy, did I love seeing the fossils of the dinosaurs and trying to pull that metal pole from real tar – so hard! I bet many people don’t know that LA has tar beneath it.
But, by far, my favorite thing to do in the Miracle Mile is explore LACMA. Mr. ShuGar and I have spent so many weekends going to film screenings, like seeing Jackie Brown and having Mr. Quentin Tarantino himself and the members of the cast show up at the end for Q & A! Surreal! LACMA always has the coolest exhibits from the most talented artists, such as Tim Burton’s Halloween exhibit or the current Stanley Kubrick exhibit (read my Kubrick post here). As I said before, LA is art and The Miracle Mile is proof.
Cafes, Restaurants & Shops…Take a right or a left!
You really don’t have to venture too far from Wilshire Boulevard to find things to do – it’s the center of many tasty treats & fashion finds. Although it doesn’t directly hit Wilshire Boulevard, Sawtelle Boulevard is not too far away and its mini-Japantown is worth the drive. It’s a small version of downtown’s Little Tokyo but the quality of restaurants is just the same. Some of my favs include: Chabuya (ramen…yummm), Seoul Sausage & Beard Papa’s cream puffs. Pure decadence in a one mile radius! (Thank you to my friend Angela for introducing me to this area!)
Last Stop: West LA & Santa Monica
There is nothing more quintessential LA than this final stop off of Wilshire. As luck would have it, I am now working in West LA off of Wilshire Boulevard because I just seem to gravitate towards Wilshire jobs.
The movies always capture this part of LA and you can see why. It’s so trendy and has the beauty of the Southern California beaches within walking distance of great restaurants and shops. One place that I still like to go to even though it can be crowded is Literati Café. It’s a great place to just chill, enjoy a cup of coffee and work on your laptop. What I especially like is that the place is filled with both students and artists – a perfect combo to inspire you to hang out there and people watch.
I am proud to live in a city that has a street like Wilshire – it may not always be picturesque, but it is infused with LA character. The eclectic, urban landscape of Wilshire is one of the many reasons why I heart LA.
Although I would like to consider myself an avid reader, I am not. It’s not because I don’t want to be, but more because of my time constraints. It seems that the time Mr. ShuGar and I dedicate to reading inevitably is before bedtime and, nine times out of ten, I will fall asleep after reading the first sentence or two. I am one of those people who has to read sitting up in a chair (or sofa) during the day. Of course, this characteristic severly restricts my reading time.
I am so excited that I am now officially part of a book club comprised of a few close friends. Now I can blog about my book club readings! As an official member of this club, it forces me to sit down and make time to read. I love this! Plus, we give ourselves plenty of time to read the designated book, which for this first round was Blankets by Craig Thompson. Mr. ShuGar and I, as hosts for the first book club meeting, had a lot of fun thinking of ways to tie the theme of Blankets into the food, activities and questions for our fellow bookies.
I know I am currently late in the game with the whole graphic novel movement, but I am really enjoying this writing medium. If illustrated and written in the right way, graphic novels can really enhance the words on a page, more so than the traditional book format. It’s like a more elaborate movie storyboard where you still rely on your imagination, but the pictures make the words three dimensional. By far, my favorite graphic novel is Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis.
Blankets is Thompson’s autobiographical coming-of-age story of two teenagers, both from dysfunctional, Christian Evangelical families, who meet in Bible camp and fall in love. But, it is deeper than a cliché love story; The novel explores the complexities of sibling and parental relationships, spirituality, sexual abuse and identity development.
Craig and his younger brother Phil live in a poor, rural part of Wisconsin where their entertainment as children consists of exploring the vast fields of snow and playing games in the bed they share. Even though Craig and Phil fight with each other, typical of many siblings, they are also bound by a childhood comprised of strict and emotionally abusive parents, sexual abuse by a babysitter and their mutual refuge in drawing.
During one of his Bible camping trips, Craig meets Raina, a teenage girl wounded by her parents’ impending divorce and other family obligations. The two instantly connect and they begin a heart-warming relationship that explores their sexuality and first love.
The illustrations depicting Craig and Raina’s courtship are so intricate and truly reflect the beauty of their love. There is a sadness in Thompson’s tone as ultimately his love story is a tragic one, like many first loves. The novel captures the spirit of the author’s agony as he learns love can be fleeting and finite. The imagery of Craig surrounded by blankets of snow needs no words; It captures the isolation and loneliness Craig battles throughout most of his life. He always feels like an outsider and Raina is the only one that makes him feel wanted.
I was especially moved with the theme of blankets – the blanket Craig and Phil shared in their bed, the quilt Raina made for Craig and the blankets of snow used as the backdrop for much of the novel. A blanket conjures up feelings of warmth, security and closeness. We use blankets to protect ourselves from the elements, but we also use them to share intimate moments with people. My sister and I, much like Craig and Phil, shared the same bedroom and would play with our blankets all the time. Many families have blankets that are heirloom passed down through the generations. In my parents’ house, we have a blanket from my Abuelito who is no longer with us. Even though he is gone, each fiber of this blanket contains his spirit and his love for us.
The novel ends with this beautiful line:
How satisfying it is to leave a mark
on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement
no matter how temporary.
This is life – a series of movements we make, some temporary and some permanent, which leave marks on our souls. Even though your (first) love story ends, it melts into part of your identity and shapes your life. Craig and Raina learn the pain of letting go, but they also gain insight as to who they are. I give this graphic novel 3 1/2 hearts out of 4 hearts. I highly recommend Blankets because anyone can relate to a story of love and loss, no matter how temporary it may be.