Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mom

Since it’s Mother’s Day, I just had to take a moment out today and say a few words about my mom. She is a very special lady. She has taught me a great many things, from how to write a check to how to bake a pie. She taught me that I could do anything, be anything, create anything, as long as I put my mind to it.

mom_3

She has always given me the best advice, and then offered me help when I didn’t take it. She’s a tough cookie, a dedicated teacher, a great friend, a beautiful woman, and as of this year a cancer survivor.

momma

We show our true mettle in the face of fear, and this past winter my family and I witnessed how tough my mom could really be. It was a long, dark, hard winter with a lot of sadness and pain. Cancer, it really F*ing sucks. But, just when the trees started budding in early April, her first fuzz of hair started growing back on her head. She was right in tune with mother earth, coming back to life again. It had been hellish watching her in pain and feeling helpless as she suffered all winter, but watching her rejuvenation this spring has been utterly beautiful. It makes this Mother’s Day extra special, because I am extra thankful and extra proud to have her as my mom. So to her, and to all you tough, beautiful mommas (and mommas to be) out there — Happy Mother’s Day! xoxox

mom_mothers_day

3 Comments

Filed under advice, Uncategorized

Cyber Never Land

I haven’t posted here since July and that just sucks so damn hard.

The internet is littered with abandoned and forgotten blogs, not dead, not living, but floating somewhere in limbo. You do a Google search, click on something interesting, and end up on a blog only to realize it’s been neglected for months. It’s depressing, like a half knitted scarf (I have a bunch of those too) or an abandoned exercise routine. I’m scared my blog is slowly flying off to cyber never land to live with the other lost blogs—and that makes me really, really sad.

In June I was finally liberated from the agony of semi-employment. It’s been great to have stability and a feeling of upward movement again, but everything in life is a compromise, and time is not a luxury I have right now. I get home at 7, eat food, shower and then pout about going to sleep until I finally realize I’m dead tired. There is very little room for anything else in there.

Blogging is hard. I think there’s a belief that since it can be fun and provides both an outlet and entertainment it’s something that’s easy to do, but if that were true there wouldn’t be so many lost blogs out there. It takes a lot of commitment to keep a blog going, and when life is happening and other commitments start to take over, it can be easy to forget the little space you’ve created on the internet.

Ok, this post is sounding a lot like whining, so I apologize. I’m so grateful to be working again, and I’m well aware there are a lot worse things than an abandoned blog, but I felt I owed an explanation to anyone who supports this blog, or happens to stumble upon it. I still love you, I’m sorry.

I feel like my blog is dying. I don’t know whether I should put it out of its misery and then mourn for it, or if I should clap my hands and try to bring it back to life. I’ve been avoiding looking at it, I shudder to see my sadly depleted page views. I feel guilty because not only do I miss it, but I’ve been getting comments on old posts and I feel like I’m neglecting a lot more than just a personal project, but a community that I really liked being a part of.

So, I’m going to try harder. I really am. Even if I just put up a picture of a nail polish I like, or an unappreciated movie, I don’t want to neglect this place just yet, I don’t want to quit. Those forgotten blogs make me sad, because let’s be realistic, Never Never Land is really just a metaphor for the place dead children go (am I the only one who thinks this?), and I don’t want my blog sent to that creepy, Victorian, child-ghost land, even if it’s full of fairies and pirates.

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Beauty Mish-Mash

I can’t even call this  post a grab-bag as I usually do because it’s lacking in any organization whatsoever, so please excuse my haphazardness, it’s been a hectic week!

The royal wedding was almost a week ago now so I’m a little late to the party, but how pretty was Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, huh? I wasn’t really in to all the royal wedding buzz, but it was fun to look at the pictures and I thought she looked really beautiful and classic in her Alexander McQueen gown.

I read that the lace on her dress was hand-appliqued by the Royal School of Needlework and held representations of symbols from the British Isles including rose (England), thistle (Scotland), daffodil (Wales) and shamrock (Ireland). I read that the craftspeople who prepared the lace had to wash their hands like every 30 minutes to keep it as white as possible—sheesh, I hope they were paid well!


I loved the cute angora sweater Kate—excuse me, Catherine wore over her second dress which she changed into for the dinner/reception celebration. Even though these dresses are both fairly simple, it’s the way they fit her so well that make them exceptional. Fit is so important, it can make a beautiful dress look awful and a mediocre dress look fantastic.

Some good news and bad news for you today. The good news is that the NYC Rebecca Minkoff sample sale is here again! The bad news is that it comes at a time when I am completely broke—but maybe you’re not, so it’s double good news for you! In that case you should definitely check it out because her bags are unique and beautiful. At this sale most of her bags will be up to half-off their list price and you can’t beat that.

Here is a pic of the cherry tree that sits in my window, I’m so glad it has finally blossomed. It took forever this year but it is a sign I always wait for to confirm that spring has arrived. Aren’t they the prettiest trees?

It’s Cinco de Mayo, celebrate Mexican culture with tasty food like guacamole and get out an enjoy this beautiful day!

Don’t forget to check out Beauty in the Movies tomorrow!

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Beauty in Paris

I’ve been MIA the past week, partially because I was out of the country and partially because I picked up a nasty bug on my travels and have been mostly laying in bed and whining about it since. Sadly, I haven’t pulled it together to do beauty in the movies this week. I promise a return to posting next week, but for now please accept some pictures from our trip to Paris instead.

A stolen picture of the art nouveau rooms at the Musée d’Orsay. I want to live in these rooms.

The Two Windmills Cafe, just like in the movie—no sign of Amelie though.

The view from our hotel, the Montmartre cemetery, it might be creepy to some, but the dead make for quiet neighbors and it’s actually a very beautiful graveyard.

Lots of black cats to watch too.

We were in the red light district which means there were tons of sex shops.

The Eiffel Tower is quite the phallic symbol.

The beautiful St. Pierre De Montmartre, the site of the equally gorgeous wedding which was the real reason for our trip.

A peek into a storage room at the Louvre.

The ridiculous hubbub around the Mona Lisa—with so many insanely gorgeous paintings it seems unfair that she gets all the attention.

We were right around the corner from the Moulin Rouge, unfortunately we could not afford the two hundred euro to see the show.

Thankfully they weren’t in need of our business though, as you can see by the massive line outside on Valentine’s day.

Our own Valentine’s day party—macaroons, champagne, and Paris, what more could we ask for?

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Ugh, Snow.

Snow can be so beautiful, so pure, fluffy, and magical. It casts a pristine blanket of white on top of an often ugly world. There are dozens of songs about it—Let It Snow, Walking in a Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, if you grew up with cold winters you associate snow with days off from school, snow men, snow angels, and fun. Snow is a delight when you’re a kid, and when the first snow falls each year, many of us hearken back to those shining days of our youth and forget what a complete and total pain in the butt snow can be.


Alright I’m just bitter, but seriously, snow can put a major damper on your plans, even if all you want is to go to the supermarket. I’ve had major beef with snow for most of my life. Sure, there have been times when I’ve adored it, playing and sledding and throwing snowballs, but there have also been times when I wished I lived in Florida. Having a winter birthday, childhood parties were often canceled as the snow piled up outside. I turned 17 and my Jr. license finally became a full-blown drivers license, just in time for the roads to be hidden in a foot of snow. And I can’t even count the number of times I’ve slid on sidewalks and fallen down subway steps. It’s in these times that the magical wonder of glittering snow seems like a forgotten memory.

This morning I woke up early, made some coffee, started day two of a weeklong freelance job, and then suddenly—zip. With a pathetic “whoomp” the power was gone along with my work, my hopes of getting paid, and my temper. As I cursed the power company, the snow, and my own dependence on technology, my husband dialed the local Starbucks only to find they were also without power. Plan C involved calling my husband’s godmother who lives nearby, “yes” she told us she still has power—and internet. HALLELUJAH! My car at this point was barely visible under the snow, so it was on with the boots and out into the cold. Of course, since the fates think it’s funny to screw with our lives, after the mile walk through snow drifts and over ice, we received word that the power had come back on.

In retrospect it wasn’t all that bad, which is why I need to remind myself to stay calm and know that the world can be a jerk sometimes. I just remember that people are dealing with far worse snow-related situations, like being stuck in airports and train stations, or outside, or without heat.

There was a silver lining too, my husband, James, got some pretty pictures—maybe you’ve wondered what the beach looks like when it snows? Well in case you ever did, here’s your answer:

It pretty much looks the same as it does without snow, except the snow appears much higher because the sand and snow have sort of blown into each other and become indistinguishable in some places.

Behold—sand-snow!

I’m sure many of you have snow horror stories of your own, so feel free to share them, they probably put mine to shame. You may even be stuck somewhere right now due to that deceptively beautiful precipitation, if so, I’m sorry and I hope you get home soon. Maybe some of you are someplace warm where you never have to worry about digging your car out  of snow drifts or slipping on ice, if so—well good for you.

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A (Slightly Cheesy, but Honest) Christmas Message

I wanted to say something about Christmas before I get distracted with baking, or cleaning, or another year passes me by and I forget. Obviously coming from a part-Jewish, part-Catholic, Part-atheist-pagan woman, I know it’s easy to scoff and pretend I don’t know what Christmas is all about. But when you’re exposed to so many different beliefs you really have to take a look at the truth of things, not the surface, not the gifts, but the real spirit of the holidays. Christmas, Hanukkah, the Solstice, Kwanzaa, are all about finding light in the darkest time of year when all warmth and lushness has gone from the world. When the trees are free of leaves and the sun goes into hiding—we celebrate. We, as humans, as people, as family, take the darkness that surrounds us and we make it into joy, and love, and happiness—and that’s a miracle. You might be celebrating the birth of Christ, or the lasting power of oil, the beginning of a new year, or the magic of the solstice, but it’s no coincidence that we celebrate it now. We’re joined together in the need for a holiday, and we share it with everyone on this planet.

There is no need to be possessive of our specific holidays, or worry that meaning is being stripped from them by the inclusion of others, because at the root they’re all about the same things; love, light, and wonder. Forgetting that we share this world, and all the joy and love within it, has often gotten us into trouble. The holidays, and Christmas especially, is a time to meditate on peace. It’s a time of belief, maybe in God, or Santa, or that one day we will set aside our differences, but above all it is a time of enduring hope. Hope that we will live another year with the ones we love, and that humans will be capable of accepting and sharing the miracle or our existence—not fighting to prove who is best. I know some might disagree with me, and that’s OK, I’ve just often felt the meaning of the holidays gets lost somewhere in all the labels, the separations, and even the salutations. My main point is that today, more than any day, we should hope for understanding and celebrate how amazing it can be, no matter the source, to find astonishing brightness in the coldest and darkest of times.

Happy Holidays everyone, I wish you all love, peace, understanding, and of course, let none of us ever abandon our hopes for a better, more accepting world.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Birds Of A Feather…Fly Into Glass Surfaces

On Monday morning I was upset to find a dead bird on my doorstep. I don’t think anyone likes to see dead animals—or dead anything for that matter, so I was pretty sad about it. It seemed strange because my front door is in a breezeway where there isn’t a place to perch or fall from. Maybe it was the cold weather? I’ve heard plenty of stories about cats leaving birds on doorsteps as gifts, but I don’t think any of the neighborhood cats are particular enamored of me. It did occur to me for a moment that a female cat spotted one of my Tabbys in the window and fell in love, they can be pretty cute, but unfortunately my life is not a Disney movie.

I called my dad who was kind enough to bury the poor thing and I went back about my life. The next morning as I was walking past my front door I heard a thud and was pissed that someone had thrown something at my house, but it was too small to be a newspaper and not hard enough to be a rock. I ran over to the door and lo-and behold, another bird laying in the exact same spot! It was then I realized these birds were flying themselves into my door cartoon-style, only it wasn’t very funny in real life.

I called my dad once again because I’m a baby and like I said, dead animals are really upsetting. Thankfully once he arrived the little bird was twitching and after a few minutes popped up and started to dazedly blink, he wasn’t dead, just stunned. After doing some research it turns out this is quite a common thing and I should have know about it. No one knows for sure, but it seems that birds see the reflection of sky in the glass and charge forward without thinking twice sometimes inadvertently killing themselves. This is why those big glass buildings all over Manhattan are not only ugly, but also anti-bird, so we should totally get the Audubon society after them. You can help the birds help themselves by breaking up the surface of glass, which is why my front door is now decorated with William Morris wrapping paper—I hope the birds appreciate it. So far there haven’t been any more incidents.

I feel like there is an important metaphor in there somewhere about flying head first into things, but I’ll leave each of you to draw your own conclusions. It was just too weird not to blog about it, maybe you’re all familiar with this phenomena already and have your windows and doors covered in bird friendly wrappings, if so, I apologize for my ignorance!

In keeping with the bird theme, check out this cute new peacock feather patterned scarf that just arrived in the mail from modcloth:

It’s not warm but it’s adorable, comfy, and goes with everything! While we’re on the theme, I’m also loving this new nail polish, Cuckoo For This Color from OPI’s Swiss collection. It’s a sparkly greenish blue that looks bright in the sunlight but muted and dark in the shade:

And that’s all there is in bird news today folks! Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the return of Beauty in the Movies!

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Post-Wedding Daze

Guess what? I’m married!! Huzzah!

I never thought I would be taking a break from blogging for two full weeks, but the week leading up to the wedding got so crazy hectic that posting just didn’t happen. I spent this week walking around in a total daze after returning from our little honeymoon weekend on Monday night. It took me way too long to unpack and respond to all the nice e-mails, and then there were the pictures. Between my dad’s 300 hundred plus snapshots, facebook galleries of friend’s pictures and hundreds of others from various family and friends, I’ve spent most of the week clicking through sideshows. Just when I would sit down to be productive again, I ended up going back to look—just one more time, at the best night of my life so far.

I definitely suffered from some post wedding let-down, how can you not? Our culture forces this idea in to your mind:

“this is the BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE—ever! No seriously, you will not have as good a day for the rest of your life, it’s all down hill from here. You won’t get to have fun or be pretty again, not like this.”

Obviously that’s not true, and it runs in direct contradiction to the whole point of marriage, but that is the bill we’re sold from the beginning. Then you spend months planning every detail, and by the last few weeks everything has become saturated with wedding preparations. Finally the anticipation reaches fever pitch and you can forget about sleeping or relaxing. Once the day actually comes, it passes by faster than any other day in your entire life.

People told me it would go by fast, and I kept telling myself  “enjoy this, remember this”, but no matter how hard I tried, the whole thing ended up a beautiful, joyous, magical blur that was over in the blink of an eye leaving me with memories that feel like nothing more than the best dream I’ve ever had. All those smiling people, the people I love, the people I wish I could see more often, they were all there with me. There is definitely something heaven-like about your own wedding, it feels like a fantasy. Not only do you get to marry the person you love and commit to stay with them forever, but you get to be surrounded by all your favorite people, and wear a really nice outfit too, what more could you ask for?


You pretty much get to feel like the luckiest person in the world on your wedding day, and then it’s over and you go from being a fianceé, to a bride, to a wife in one day, and all the while you feel like exactly the same person. In some ways that’s the strangest part, all this hubbub and joy, all this talk of “crossing a threshold” and transcending, but when you get home from your honeymoon your cat is vomiting, and there is dirty laundry where you left it, and you and your new husband still dance around the kitchen singing in funny voices like idiots and you realize that you’re both the same people you always were. The only difference now is the affirmation that you have amazing, wonderful, generous, kind people all around you and that you’ve made the promise to be a goofball with your best friend for the rest of your life—and those are both truly things to be grateful for.

Forgive me for my recent lack of posts, and for not getting it together to do Beauty in the Movies this week, it will be back next week—scouts honor. I’ll share more pictures once they come back and do a more in-depth wedding post soon too!

*Special thanks to David Shazar for the great photos!!

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Beauty Grab-Bag: Randomness

This post is just a mash-up of pretty and/or cute things for you to look at while I run around and make phone calls, search for a wedding band for my fiancé, and get all my wedding ducks in a row. The next 10 days are going to be light on blog posts, but I’ll try to make up for it after the wedding! If anyone wants to contribute a post, a picture, a haiku, or anything else, please send it along to me at justinezwiebel@gmail.com!

In response to my post last week on my love of homemade Halloween costumes, my wonderful friend Ilana sent me these unbelievably adorable photos of her and her two sisters on Halloween over the course of three years.

First Ilana’s mom made her this sweet Snow White costume:

Then her younger sister Sareena wore it.

And then her youngest sister Arielle got to wear it.

Aren’t they too adorable? It looks like that purple princess dress was passed down too, it’s fun to see siblings in their hand-me-down costumes over the years. Anyone with a mom who can make such a cute costume is very lucky indeed!

Moving right along, in my search for hats last week I came across this awesome old Yardley ad from the 1960s featuring the gorgeous model Jean Shrimpton,  I  just love it and thought it was pretty enough to share.

This is my future mother in law’s cat Nemo, there is no other cat like him!

Um, yeah this post lacks cohesion, but my mind is all over the place right now. Here is a picture of a baby hedgehog to make up for it!

Let me know if you have any post contributions—obviously I need help!

 

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

For the Love of Homemade Halloween Costumes

Yesterday Jezebel posted this Target ad in which a kid is clearly embarrassed by his homemade Iron Man costume made by his proud mom. It’s meant to be cute, and obviously Target is in the business of convincing people they should buy their costumes rather than make them, so you can’t get all that annoyed at them, but it did get me thinking about homemade Halloween costumes and why I always find them so much more interesting.

What a kid wants to be for Halloween is a big deal, it reflects who they want to be, what they’re afraid of, or who their role models are. It also lets them express themselves and can be both a fun bonding experience and a creative challenge for kids and parents alike. While a kid, or an adult, can have just as much fun dressed in a store-bought costume, there is something about homemade costumes that’s uniquely charming. Whether answering the door for trick-or-treaters or attending a party for grown ups, it’s always exciting when you see a one-of-a-kind costume. Obviously, as the Target ad shows, it can be hard to make a costume for a licensed character who looks a very specific way, but plenty of kids want to take on a persona that can be created without buying a package.

For example, my older sister as Cyndi Lauper in the early 1980s at around age three, there was no sewing involved, just stuff we had around the house, some spray-on hair color, creativity, and lots O’ fun, the result—adorable!

Here is my fiancé as Hulk Hogan a few years ago. I’ve gone to the Halloween parade in Manhattan many times and I’ve never seen people as excited by a costume as they were when they saw him that year. People were constantly stopping to take his picture and shout catchphrases at him—and he threw this costume together in a couple of hours. There were other Hulk Hogans in store-bought costumes, and they didn’t get nearly as much attention.

This owl costume was a combined effort, I made the head-piece and the glasses to wear one year, and my lovely future sister-in-law improved on my original costume a few years later with the fur trim, feathers, and orange owl feet—hoot!

My friend Jessica donned this awesome Joan Holloway costume last year, I’m shocked there aren’t packaged Mad Men costumes out there yet, but this shows how you can use stuff from your own closet (plus a few store-bought accessories) to come up with a great costume.

My Grandma made these adorable Campbell Soup kids costumes for my dad and uncle sometime in the mid fifties—simple, creative, and cute!

Me as Courtney Love and My fiancé as Ernest P. Worrell, both fun and easy costumes to make.

This was the first costume I made all by myself. My mom made me wear that stone-wash jacket over it since it was cold out so you can’t see it here, but I found an old satin dress, tore it up, caked on a bunch of face-paint, put baby powder in my hair, and threw on a tiara just for kicks. I called it “bloody Mary” I think I got the idea from an episode of Are you Afraid of the Dark?

Anyway, my point is that sometimes (like if your kid wants to be Iron Man) a store costume is necessary, because moms can be busy and kids are easily embarrassed. But putting together your own costume whether you’re a kid or an adult, can be lots of fun, and usually yields more entertaining and memorable results—plus those packaged costumes can be damn expensive.

If you don’t have anything in your closet that works as a costume, check out a thrift store, or the sale rack at Forever 21, you may even wear it again unlike the flimsy polyester packaged costumes. Get any accessories you may need that you can’t make (horns, wings, wigs) at the bigger stores, and never underestimate the potential of pipe cleaners and a hot glue gun!

On a side note, clicking through the pages on the Party City website has convinced me I need to do a whole post on inappropriate packaged costumes—I’m truly disturbed by some of the stuff out there for both kids and adults.

Send me pictures of your best homemade Halloween costumes—I know you must have some great ones!

10 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized