Category Archives: art, life, & CULTURE
June 24, 2016
Welcome to the final chapter of summer sixteen’s “Best of…” series. This post highlights some seasonal style suggestions for the family. Here to handle the mother/daughter segment is the always-slaying Terra, whose return to blogging earlier this year was the most electrifying un-retirement to happen in the ‘Burgh since Lemieux in ’00. Everything that she does should be branded with the caption “Goals AF” and I highly suggest that you check ahht her site when you’re done enjoying our posts below. First up is my father/son part so let’s get on to it!
After my son was born, I struggled with maintaining the level of swag that I’ve grown accustomed to. Why spend time putting together a fly outfit if it would just end up adorned with spit-up in an hour? I immediately began to feel the pull of the Dark Side of Dad Fashion, and its promise of comfort through cargo shorts and crocs. But unlike Anakin Skywalker, I refuse to give in to the temptation. Though I rarely end the day without my son wiping some indiscernible schmutz on my outfit, the self-confidence that comes along with dressing well makes it all worth it.
Dressing my 3yo son presents a similar conundrum. He’s potty trained now so thankfully I do not have to worry much about the three p’s. However, much like his idol Hulk, it doesn’t take much time for him to wear-out even the toughest Toughskins. Thankfully kids clothier Carters manufactures plenty of stylish outfits that are reasonably priced so I don’t get too mad when he rips the buttons off his shirt to show me his muscles.
My go-to #OOTD for summer showcases a couple simple classics – a V-neck t-shirt and garment-dyed cotton shorts. This ensemble is available in a wide assortment of bright colors, but I’m embracing my inner Goth here. Not only does the monochrome look standout amongst a sea of pastel polos and boat shoes on the soccer field sidelines, they also serve as a sharp contrast to my boys’ colorful ensemble. There’s no chance I can complete with him as far as cuteness goes, so why even try?!?!
Item Sources: 9” Stanton Short & Slim Broken-in V-neck T-Shirt (both J. Crew), Jack Purcell Signature Sneakers (Converse), Leather Suffield Belt by Polo Ralph Lauren, Sunglasses by Rayban, Animal Squirters by Floatzone, Toddler Boys’ 2-Piece Striped Shirt & Shorts Set by Carter’s, Paw Patrol Canvas Sneakers by Walmart, Spiderman Sunglasses by Target, Southampton Bucket Hat by Grandparents
And now to Terra!!!
So far, June 2016 >> June 2015. Do you remember how much rain Pittsburgh had last year? Wow! The difference is amazing. And I for one will take these steamy sunny days anytime.
Each season, I tend to find a few pieces that I want to live in. This summer is no different. For me, it’s all about the perfect denim cutoffs and off-the-shoulder anything. The only thing sexier than a clavicle (besides any other word) is an open back. Either are a great way to show off your bronze skin.
Speaking of… wear sunscreen. PLEASE. It’s so important. There’s nothing more stylish than when a person takes good care of their skin. I adore Neutrogena’s spray-on sunscreen. It’s light, smells great and doesn’t feel like a gross film on your skin. But how do you show off that aforementioned bronze then? Self tanner, all the way. There are a couple that I really like but Jergen’s makes a fantastic gradual self-tanner that smells nice.
And when you’re lounging by the pool or sliding your toes into sand, you need a phenomenal bathing suit and a great book. This monokini is polyawesome. It cuts in all the right places to not only show off your beautiful curves (even if you’re like me and don’t actually have natural curves) but to also sit still if you want to be active. I prefer to tap my inner sloth when I’m sunbathing so I defer to my books and magazines. “Primates of Park Avenue” is a really easy and entertaining read. Perfect for the pool or beach.
Now, to the little one. Stella plays hard and sweats like a mother. I don’t really sweat so that sentence is inherently erroneous but let’s not dwell on that. She insists on wearing dresses all of the time. If that’s what she’s going to wear when it’s 85 degrees, then the dress better be lightweight, able to withstand crude karate moves and sidewalk chalk art. This dress has been in heavy rotation along with these comfy sandals. The sandals are fantastic because she can run around in them all day without earning blisters or the stinkiest of feet.
I’d also like to take a moment to call your attention to GoldieBlox. Stella is obsessed. They’re fantastic kits that teach girls (or whoever wants to play with them) engineering, math and building skills. There are stories and dolls and all of the typical “girly” equipment, but they’re not just fluffy cupcake toys. They actually teach important skills but they’re wrapped in a package that is attractive to little girls. If you know a little girl and she doesn’t have GoldieBlox, help a sister out and get her started with one.
I hope you enjoy your summer as much as I plan to! Just remember to protect your skin, nourish your brain a little and wear something sexortable. That’s sexy and comfortable ALL AT THE SAME TIME. What could be better?
June 23, 2016
When I was a kid, the onset of summer meant one thing and one thing only – NO SCHOOL! And since the responsibilities associated with school (waking up early, doing homework, wearing shoes) represented the bulk of my adolescent life’s burdens, summer brought with it three solid months of unbridled freedom that as a grownup I’ll never know again. #FirstWorldAdultProblems
Thankfully, every now and then I’m #blessed with a handful of weekend moments that aren’t prescheduled with activities or encumbered by parental responsibilities (Daddy, come wipe my butt!). I prefer to make use of these respites by indulging in the same unproductive pastimes that I did as a youth – reading comic books and watching professional wrestling.
My friend Elizabeth is a super-busy mommy/lawyer/blogger who cherishes her infrequent free time just as much as me. She was kind enough to carve some time out of her packed schedule to suggest some relaxing ways for all of us to spend those precious obligation-free moments. Surprisingly, none of them involve musclebound men beating the crap out of each other.
I remember those many long years ago, before I had a 5 year old who poked me in the face and demanded I pour her a bowl of rice krispies at 6am, I used to have these long, leisurely weekend mornings where I could do whatever I wanted, for as long as I wanted, and still find time in the day to go for a run, go grocery shopping, and whatever else I felt like doing.
Those days are gone. Now most weekend mornings are consumed by ballet lessons, kid-related social plans, and this, that and the other thing. I recently was surprised by a morning that was completely obligation-free, and I realized how precious that unplanned free time is. For my contribution to this “Best of….” series, I would like to share with you my favorite activities when I have a few unexpected moments to myself!
When I was in law school and a baby lawyer, somehow I had all this extra time that I didn’t even know I had. I got really into baking bread, and baked loaf after loaf trying to perfect my challah recipe. Bread baking is really easy to do at a somewhat competent level, but extremely hard to perfect. I love mixing the dough and then putting it out in the sunshine to rise, and I love enjoying its smell as it bakes in the oven, especially when I have mixed in rosemary, basil or sun dried tomatoes.
Coffee and Magazines
The magic combination. I have several magazine subscriptions but can never manage to read them as they come in. They buildup in a massive pile in my dining room. When I finally get to reading them, I experience the twofold joy of reading the magazine, and also clearing things out of the “to read” pile. Also, coffee. Yum.
Stroll through the Park
I haven’t been able to get back to running as regularly as I would like. I would like to run 5 times a week, but lately I have only been running about one. My favorite places to run are Frick Park, Schenley Park and the Homewood Cemetery. They are all wooded, beautiful and tranquil.
At Home Spa
It’s $8 for a pack of 4 bottles but HEAR ME OUT, Dry Water is like a tiny spa. They have flavors like cucumber, ginger and lavender, the flavor is heavily infused, not sweet, and tastes just like the water you are served at a spa. This is not an everyday type beverage. Rather, this is the kind of thing you sip leisurely, with a refreshing sheet mask on your face. It is so incredibly relaxing. When I bust out with the Dry Water and the sheet mask, my husband knows to keep my kid out of the way, because I am getting in the relaxation zone.
June 22, 2016
“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James
Whereas the cold winters of Pittsburgh are prefect for staying indoors and binge-watching Netflix, summer is all about getting ahht of the house to explore the great attractions that our lovely region has to offer. And who better to give us some suggestions on how to get the most out of these summer days than a school teacher?
After spending the past nine months steadfastly preparing the young minds of Woodland Hills to lead us into the future, my buddy Heidi is now here with some daytrip ideas that are full of adventure and fun. I look forward to fitting them all into my schedule…between my mandatory hammock-naps of course!
Hey y’all! One of the best parts about living in Pittsburgh is the wide array of destinations and restaurants that are well within driving distance. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a little “daycation” from time to time? With brief travel time and minimal packing, daycations are an activity that Pittsburghers should embrace wholeheartedly. Thus, for this post, I would like to share with you some of my favorite spots in the Laurel Highlands that everyone in the area should visit this summer.* Now let’s go day tripping!
The Stone House Restaurant & Inn (3023 National Pike | Farmington, PA | 15437) is a classic spot along Route 40, our National Road. With charm, character(s) and a fantastic menu, The Stone House has something for everyone. Special events are common, especially live music and bike nights. My advice? Try the wings ($5/5, $10/10, $14/15), the salads and anything that incorporates their house sauces and dressings; grab a bottle of Pittsburgh Winery wine while you are there too!
Out of the Fire Café (3784 State Route 31 |Donegal, Pennsylvania | 15628) is a casual BYOB restaurant. With an open kitchen, Out of the Fire offers an American menu that patrons can enjoy from inside of on their deck. The view is beautiful and the location is in close proximity to many mountain attractions. My advice? Try the Sea Scallops ($32, coconut and cilantro risotto, roasted red pepper, mango & arugula salad, Fuji apple vinaigrette) and/or the Charred Pineapple Salad ($13, field greens, kiwi, red grapes, cherry tomatoes, toasted cashews, blueberry balsamic vinaigrette).
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater (1491 Mill Run Road | Mill Run, PA | 15464) and Kentuck Knob (723 Kentuck Road | Chalk Hill, PA | 15421) are architectural masterpieces tucked away in the Fayette County mountains. With a little planning, you can either visit one on its own, or arrange to see both in the same day. I happen to be an architecture fanatic, and I’ve seen both of these houses in many seasons both on their own and in the same day. The local history associated with the homes is fascinating, the grounds are picturesque, and the gift shops are quite marvelous. My advice? Don’t miss the opportunity to see something that thousands of people travel from all over the world to see every year. And get your tickets way in advance!
Fort Necessity National Battlefield (1 Washington Parkway | Farmington, PA | 15437) is a worthy stop along Route 40. With the popularity of Hamilton: An American Musical on a steady rise, this is a great place for fans and history buffs who are interested in George Washington lore. See where Washington opened the action of the French and Indian War in 1754, ultimately setting the American Revolution in motion. Jumonville Glen and General Braddock’s Grave are also nearby, for a bonus round! My advice? Ask them if they remember the girl who won an art contest there in 1990; she created an epic rendition of Washington’s life called “The Cherry Tree of Life.” Ha! Kidding. No one needs to bring up my short-lived career in the visual arts.
*I left off Laurel Highlands juggernauts like Ohiopyle and Nemacolin Woodlands because of the likelihood that yinz have already been there. Not that I wouldn’t work stops at either of these into a daycation from Pittsburgh, but I wanted to bring to light some lesser known attractions.
June 21, 2016
I’ve done extensive scientific research into the subject of chillaxation, which is defined as “a state of total tranquility that comprises both the restfulness of body (chilling) and peacefulness of mind (relaxation)”. As it turns out, there’s no better activity to achieve this blissful state than enjoying a cold beer on a hot day.
I’ve enlisted my childhood friend Monica to help substantiate my hypothesis. Along with holding a PhD in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, she’s also conducted numerous field studies at the establishments that make up our region’s exploding craft beer and microbrewery scene. Monica is now going to report on her research by giving us some beverage suggestions that are guaranteed to maximize your chillaxation all summer long!
(First off, I have a short confession to the readers: I don’t like hoppy beer. My IBU scanning of selections usually have me choosing the lowest numbers by default. If you are a hop head, you’re likely not going to have fun with the following.)
In the regional area, there are approximately 70 breweries. The boyfriend and I have a list and a google map and are slowly visiting them all. Hell, we even made it to Milkman Brewing and they were open for approximately 20 minutes. There are many beers that we can consider both local and good for summer drinking. Not all of my suggestions are local, but many are. Support your local brewer.
This being said, I’m also a big qualifier of information. I have a thing for parenthetical comments. When I’m asked a question, I instantly go through the multitude of answers that could be correct, and qualify when each answer is appropriate. I thought that it would be most helpful to have a list of common summer situations in which beer is the appropriate answer and then qualify them. Here it goes:
The “I just spent a ridiculous time performing lawn maintenance in 90F weather for a lawn that I only go in to mow” beer.
The appropriate beer here is one that won’t be contaminated by the taste of the sweat running down your face or the smell of grass stuck in your nose. It won’t be super high in ABV, nor will it be super astringent. This beer will quench your thirst, but also give you a taste of something that will remind you of something other than lawn work. It’s not a savoring beer, it is a thirst quenching beer. (Yes, I do my own lawn work.)
I’m recommending a Doc G’s beer called “Orange Blossom Wheat”. It’s a 4.8% ABV with a hit of orange. It is all of the things that I think go well with a shitty lawn job. Now, you all can go over to yelp and look at the reviews of this place (it’s in DuBois), and well, they’re not good. What I can say is that I have insider information that the brewer has changed, and this will likely impact your beer enjoyment.
The “It’s Friday, my coworkers have the intelligence of horseshoe crabs, and I need to go in tomorrow anyway” beer.
Sometimes you need to sit at a patio and bitch about life while sipping a beer. This calls for a quality drink. You can have a couple of drinks, but then you realize that real life is going to set in early tomorrow, so you want to make them count. You want something that is a pleasant taste and buzz, and go well with that water you’re going to have after them.
I’m recommending the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale by Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling. It’s 8.19% ABV is going to have you pleasantly forgetting about the idiots you work with and have you moving to a discussion about what you’re going to do on vacation. (I’m calling this local because you can get it at Giant Eagle.)
The “I’m being forced to spend time with my family” beer.
If you are obligated to spend time with your family and need beer to get through it (and they’re of the Bud Light variety), you are going to need a beer that satisfies several criteria. One, it must be worth it to take to the location. Two, it’s going to have to be something that someone else is not going to want to steal. Three, it likely has to not be too heavy as to not compete with the potato salad. Four, it needs to be a session beer (We know what you think of your cousin’s new boyfriend, but we don’t need to do this now).
I’m recommending the Ellicottville Brewing Company’s Blueberry Wheat beer. It’s fruity, so all of the old white-beards in the family aren’t going to want any. It’s a lighter wheat beer, and it’s just a hint of blueberry, so it goes well with the standard cookout fare. Lastly, it only has a 4.8 ABV, so you can finish the 6-pack while the rest of the family is harping on you to get married.
The “F*@K this I’m out, night before vacation” beer.
Sometimes you can be one of those people that packed for vacation 2 days before you leave. Other times you need to walk out of work realizing that you have to get up at 6 AM for the flight and haven’t washed clothes for 2 weeks. When the latter happens, you can hole up at a local brewery (bonus points if there’s a food truck and the mayor is wearing shorts) and have a beer or two. Because, really, you’re going to sleep on the plane anyway.
While I said that I’m no fan of hops, for some reason the hops I do like are the Nelson hops. These New Zealand based hops aren’t nearly as piney to me, and provide a nice astringent taste and a floral aroma that’s refreshing.
The “Sitting around the bonfire watching the stars” beer.
Sometimes you need a relaxing evening with friends, sitting around a summer bonfire, picking out the constellations in the sky. It’s way after dinner at this point, you don’t have any plans in the morning, and sitting and chatting are the only thing you want to do. Not high level work discussion, not philosophical discussions about what the world looks like to you, just telling stories and shit-talking your friends.
To save the best for last, I’m imploring you to get some of Helltown’s Hefeweizen (5% ABV). It’s the sitting around beer. It’s the ‘hold my beer so I can tell this story with hand movements’ beer. It’s the beer of friendship and remembering who has the embarrassing pictures of you as a child.
June 20, 2016
Welcome to the first installment in a series of posts celebrating the start of summer sixteen. Kicking off the festivities is a hot af mixtape by Pittsburgh’s bestest audio scientist RJ 2020k. After enjoying the tunes below, please be sure to check out RJ’s website here and follow him on the twitter @twenty20k!
Mixtape Name: XXXTRALRGICEDCOFFEE
7) Be Thankful For What You’ve Got by Massive Attack
8) Good Time by Brazilian Girls
9) High Road (Baio Remix) by Cults
10) C’mon by Kesha
11) I Get Around by 2Pac
12) Two Months Off by Underworld
BONUS TRACK: Everybody Loves The Sunshine by Roy Ayers
Liner Notes: Normally, my mixtapes are well thought-out concepts so I thought it would be fun to destroy the concept and list the most high energy, sonically sunshine-stained songs I could possibly think of.
Layered Electronic tracks, high energy throwback Rap, glittery Pop, well-known and obscure names proudly litter this track list. There’s something for everyone, so get in your car and turn this up!
As caffeinated and random as this playlist is, there are two songs in particular that I would like to point out as having significance: The Delta Foundation booking Kesha’s appearance at Pittsburgh’s 2016 Pride in the Street was a bold, rightfully supportive move that brought me to tears so “C’Mon” is my way of showing support to both parties (I’ll obviously be roaming the streets that day, so come say hey!).
The Roy Ayers inclusion is a funny one because I was Googling “Everybodylovesyou.net” to look at previous playlists and “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” popped up, so the iconic song was thrown in as a bonus track as a nod to this lovely website.
Spotify Link: XXXTRALRGICEDCOFFEE
Apple Music Link: XXXTRALRGICEDCOFFEE
April 1, 2016
Welcome to the 4th Annual Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event! Much like the Hunger Games of Panem, this yearly occasion is meant to entertain and provide a brief distraction from all of the world’s oppressive problems (poverty, suffering, Trump, etc.).
Today’s guest post comes to us from Jessa, the stylish and swashbuckling creator of the blog Wavy Alabaster. After reading her musical musings about the iconic Stevie Nicks, don’t forget to check out all the other participants in this year’s event by clicking on the links in the coda. Happy reading!
Stevie Nicks is the mother of all style inspirations. The Reigning Queen of Rock n’ Roll, to no one’s surprise, is a great influence to my curated style. Before you go pulling a version of the quote from The Devil Wears Prada, “Stevie Nicks? For your style inspiration? Groundbreaking.” read me out. I too rejected Stevie’s influence at one point, actually pretty recently. I felt what every writer/creative/style-driven blogger fears most: being cliché. But, I got over myself quickly. I did not revere Stevie because it is popular to do so. The deep admiration was born from a pure space. It started with hair (It’s always starts with hair).A picture stumbled upon me while navigating the dreaded middle school years, the time of JNCO jeans, over-sized WNBA jerseys and a leather choker with a basketball pendant, basically my style low point. She saved me in the nick of time. The details of this specific moment fail to come into focus, but I distinctly remember Stevie, her style, and those locks.Drawing inspiration from the legendary Stephanie Lynn Nicks was easy. Converting this influence into a tangible every day wardrobe and attitude is a bit more challenging. Below are tips n’ thoughts I’ve amassed to merge the style of an icon with that of your own.
“I am pretty fearless, and you know why? Because I don’t handle fear very well; I’m not a good terrified person.” – Stevie
When I initially was introduced to Stevie, my self-presentation was not automatically changed. As my personal style was built, experimenting with looks I now cringe over, the musician’s influence grew and eventually blossomed to the forefront. The biggest step was taking the initial leap in experimenting. The label “style icon” does not stumble upon an individual, it is built and assembled. It might not be perfect at first, but keep going. It might not be perfect at attempt ten either, but alas, keep going. When you are ready to take the leap, I would…Start with one.
“But time makes you bolder…”
Start with one piece. Land on a look which draws your attention and interest, and don’t limit yourself to just the clothes. Style is a form of expression and clothing is just one puzzle piece. Attitude, makeup or lack thereof, tattoos, accessories (hello hats!), hair or lack thereof all fit together to create one cohesive picture. Maybe the color palette draws your eye or the wild strand of hair dancing in the wind; whatever it may be start there. Now build from that one sliver of inspiration. Add on additional influences as you feel comfortable. However, warning to the wise, beware of…
“I want to be age appropriate. I don’t want to be that girl you see walking away and she looks 25 and then she turns around and she looks 90.”
This three-letter word; never forget it. Stevie rocked the tight cropped tops that we swoon over from the 70’s better than anyone. The looks are tough and sexy and freeing. I’d love to strut down the Strip in this look, but a cropped top rocker will never be added to my style resume. It is not in the cards for my body type. People notice poor fit before they notice good style. Be mindful of your own body shape and how you can rework looks to fit you. Instead of a crop top, I opted for this vibrant vintage tank top with a plunging neckline from Eons or this Free People bodysuit.You and your body are the foundation so always remember…
Don’t lose YOU
“I didn’t want to look like anyone else – like Janis Joplin or Grace Slick. That’s why I never went to any of the big designers.”
Set aside her haunting voice and mystical style, Stevie was and is unapologetically herself. Through the ups and downs served on a public platter, she maintains a fearless sense of self. If nothing else, hold onto that lesson from Stevie. Be you. Style inspiration isn’t a copy and paste process. The fun lies in creating looks that fit your lifestyle and enhance your being. After all, “it’s only right that you should play the way you feel it.”
And, if you are having difficulty merging your personal style with that of Stevie, or any other style icon for that matter, give me a shout and let’s go create together.
All good blog posts end with a shameless plug, right?
2016 Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event participants: Harvest + Bloom // Yes, Wear That! // jelly jars // Glam and Graffiti // To The Streets // In Pursuit // Pittsburgh & Pearls // Beezus Kiddo // Goodness Madness // Last Minute Panic // Steel City Intrigue // Crank Crank Revolution // Amanda Narcisi // Pittsburgh is Beautiful // From Cats to Cooking // Yum Yum PGH // Breelicious Bites // Parmesan Princess // Coffee & A Blonde // The Steel Trap // Wavy Alabaster // everybody loves you… // Eat with Emily // Don’t Forget to Eat // Sloping in the Sky // From Farm to Turntable // Secrets in the Wall // Red Pen Mama // Feedback Soup // The AP Collection // Blog Or Die PGH // Pittsburgh Happy Hour // Friendly Fitness Foodie // Small Town Dad // Josh’s World // Geeky Sweetie // Sean’s Ramblings // Lunges, Long Runs and Lattes // Try it and You May! // lil Burghers // Orange Chair Blog // Ya Jagoff // Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents // Melissa Firman
March 17, 2016
This travel blog post is unfortunately not about Naples, Italy. Though I hope to one day make a pilgrimage to the holy birthplace of pizza, we’re sticking stateside as I detail the highlights of a recent mini-vacation my wife and I took to the town named after the capital of Campania – Naples, Florida.
You’re probably thinking right now “Naples is full of nothing but super-rich octogenarians. Why would two hip thirty-somethings go there for a vacation?”. Well, let me tell you! My in-laws are snowbirds who nest in Fort Myers during the winter months, and we started making an annual vacation visit two years ago. It’s always been a good time, but the thought this year of spending eight days and seven nights in a two-bedroom condo with poor Wi-Fi and a potty-training toddler just didn’t sound like a relaxing time.
Thankfully my mother-in-law offered to babysit our son for a few days so that my wife and I could venture out of town on our own. Naples seemed to be the best option due to its surfeit of dining/shopping options and the fact that its overwhelmingly elderly populace meant that the beach wouldn’t be full of toddlers screaming for “ONE MORE PAW PATROL”.
Below are some of the highlights of our visit, which overall could best be summed up as the definition of “relaxing”. Though lacking in excitement and nightlife (most restaurants close at 8pm), the laidback lifestyle is hard to complain about when most of my life is spent either at work navigating quixotic Microsoft Project deadlines or at home being screamed at by my son for, you guessed it, “ONE MORE PAW PATROL”.
It was windy during our stay so we didn’t get to hang out on the beach too much, but from what I saw it was quite beautiful. The sands along the Gulf of Mexico were as white and well-manicured as the second wives that walk upon it, and some old guy told me that the lovely turquoise waters are “chock full of snook and Spanish mackeral” which I’m assuming are fish so I guess that must be a good thing.
7th Avenue Social & Bayside
Though the collective vibe of Naples is much more “hip-replacement” than “hipster”, we were able to find a trendy gastropub that more than satisfied my need for craft beer, rustic decor and seasonalocalartisanal comfort food. We also had a great (and great-ly expensive) meal at the upscale Bayside, which was nestled in a swanky shopping enclave entitled The Village on Venetian Bay and had a lovely waterside view.
5th Avenue South
This posh shopping district has more than seventy retail stores and forty restaurants. Most of the clothiers cater to the Tommy Bahama/Chico’s crowd so I didn’t do much clothes shopping, but I did make it rain at many of their near-omnipresent gelato shops. Turns out old people really love their ice-cream, which makes sense since having teeth really isn’t required to enjoy a hot fudge sundae.
February 3, 2016
Though my son is just a toddler, I still thought it would be a good exercise to write a blog post detailing some “words of wisdom” in regards to dating advice. I began to put some thoughts together and then quickly realized that I’m no longer qualified to cover the subject since I’m:
C) A dude who counts Sam Malone, R. Kelly and Tucker Max amongst his idols.
Thankfully my friend and modern-day renaissance woman (educator, baker, runner, whiskey-drinker) Shannon agreed to assist me. Please enjoy her enlightened advisement!
I did a little Googling to see what kind of advice was already out there. I think my favorite tip out there on how to treat a woman was, “Not all of them eat like birds, allot of them can eat like whales” (spelling error their own). I’m not convinced this is a tip on how to treat a woman or how it’s relevant dating advice at all, which is why I find it so amusing.*
I found vague advice (tell her you love her), outdated advice (when walking on the street, walk on the street side), and downright sexist advice (guys tend to be more logical, so don’t expect her to display male logic). I couldn’t seem to find anything that would actually be helpful if your goal is treating women right in today’s dating world.
Before I get to the five simple rules I came up with, I’d be remiss if I didn’t first share the caveat that I’m a single, white, 30 year old straight woman. I don’t pretend to know the dating rules for the LGBT community or cultures that follow traditional dating rituals. I hope the rules I’ve come up with translate for all humans, but I want to acknowledge that they may not. Now…onwards!
Rule #1: Respect her.
This seems pretty obvious and straightforward, but you’d be surprised about how many men get this wrong. Rather than regale you with an Aretha-worthy lesson on respect, I’d rather show you how easy this is by simply mastering the remaining four rules.
Rule #2: Believe her when she tells you who she is.
I can’t think of more frustrating dating experiences than those when men refused to believe me when I shared things about myself. It can be something really simple like telling me I’d like the burger better than the eggplant parm despite the fact I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years. Or it can also feel pretty serious.
I’ve spent about 99% of my adult life valuing my independence and exploring new ideas and people without ever feeling the need to be romantically tied to anyone. This was totally my journey and what felt right to me. However, almost every guy who wanted something serious with me tried to convince me that I was lying to myself because I was single—that I really did what a relationship (because apparently that’s all women really want out of life).
I don’t think they were intentionally trying to be paternalistic, but that’s exactly how it felt. There is no greater way to violate rule #1 than to discount my perspective and replace it with your own.
Rule #3: Chivalry might be dead, but maybe it’s alive or maybe it’s a zombie.
I’m not trying to sound afterschool special sappy here, but we’re all unique in our own way. Some women’s view of romance means she expects to be put on a pedestal and treated like a princess. Some women value the effort that goes into showing you care, but don’t necessarily want classic-movie style romance. Some women will tell you not to hold doors for her, and the alternative isn’t slamming them in her face (yes, this happens).
The alternative is letting her open her own damn door (and—gasp—being comfortable with her holding it for you). Take the time to get to know which woman she is. Basically, what I’m saying is—if you didn’t catch it from my zombie metaphor—chivalry comes in all forms.
By not respecting how she displays and wants to receive affection, you risk violating rule #1. It might be that you’re not compatible with each other and it’s time to move on. And before you think, “she’s just never had a guy treat her well,” see rule #2.
Rule #4: Sometimes she is more important than you.
Women are badasses (co-signed by Obama). We have careers, side hustles, families, friends, dreams, goals, etc. Sometimes that stuff is more important than happy hour with you. Bourbon on the rocks and witty banter won’t get a woman her dream (though bourbon and banter sounds like an okay dream to me…).
The thing is, you’re probably not trying to date this woman because she’s 100% available, waiting by the phone for you, eager to please. At least, I hope you like her for more than that. You can easily abide by rule #1 here by realizing that the things that attract you to her may also be the things that keep you from her sometimes. And frankly, doesn’t that make you swoon harder (wait, do men swoon?)?
Rule #5: Read rules #1 through 4 again.
Frankly, four rules feels like a weird amount, but I couldn’t come up with a fifth because I did such a great job on the first four! So for good measure, read them all again. Really internalize them.
*I’ve been known to house an entire large pizza by myself in one sitting, so I’m clearly of the whale persuasion. I know you’ve been wondering what that asterisk was all about.
January 11, 2016
Mixtape Name: Retrospective Mega Mixtape Mashup Monday Retrospective
Liner Notes: Mashups are a thing; megamashups are a more recent thing. For a megamashup, the game is to meld more than just a vocal and an instrumental: megamashups fold in five, ten, fifty songs into a single track. Megamashups often get released at the end of summer, incorporating all of the season’s hits in some way or another.
The year-end is the season to watch, though, because of constraints change: most mixers set the goal at including (somehow) tracks that reached the top of the charts, or tracks that did well at home and abroad, or some other formula for choosing what has to make it into the mix.
This often means finding clever and artful ways to combine songs that would make each other shake, shiver, and shy away in shame. A small group of mixers and DJs has been getting better at this for a while now, finding ways to make it all work.
Sometimes, it works really well.
I’ve made choices here, to present my list of the best year-end mashups of the past seven years. My choices are not always sure, or even reasonable, but here they are. Here’s the thing: everyone I name here is very, very good. Seek ’em.
2009: DJ Earworm, Blame It on the Pop
This is the first year the mega mashups really started to come into their own. DJ Earworm put out an effort for 2008, but it wasn’t as cohesive, didn’t stretch or hold. In 2009, Earworm put down this track, and it was immediately clear that this was the new bar. And that DJ Earworm was good at this.
2010: DJ Earworm, Don’t Stop the Pop
What I remember about this year was the pop music landscape made this exercise difficult. Earworm has the best effort here, I think, but only just: Daniel Kim, Ben Stiller, and a bunch of other folks made some good stuff.
2011: Mashup Germany, What the F**k
Parked on the end of his 2011 Promo Disc (highly recommended!) this storming little thing pulls on boots and stomps through the year’s popular music without relent. Video edit by Panos T, who is good at that.
2012: DJ Drybones, Carry Me Home, Maybe
My unreserved selection for 2012. Where DJ Earworm said “hey, I can put all of these things together with cohesion,” DJ Drybones steps up and says “hey, I can put all of these things together with a story.” Plus, a neat solution to the problem that was Gangnam Style. Also, pretty good at this. This one is great.
2013: Robin Skouteris, PopLove2
Another year of complicated musical terrain. Hot on the heels of the ridiculously fun PopLove, Robin Skouteris follows up with a mega mashup for the year. Daniel Kim had a good outing here, too, as did Isosine, but I think Skouteris found a better way to make sense of it all. Plus ducks.
2014: DJ Earworm, Do What You Wanna Do
2014 was a mighty strong year for Mashup Germany and both DJs Earworm and Drybones, but I’m going to give this one to Earworm for finding the cohesion this year, in a careful and artful way. And say that all of ’em are very good at this.
2015: DJ Earworm, 50 Shades of Pop / DJ Drybones, All About It
Very, very good at this.
YouTube Playlist Link: Retrospective Mega Mixtape Mashup Monday Retrospective
December 24, 2015
Welcome to another installment of our seasonal style guide. With me, as always, is the stylish white female and fashion blog O.G. Terra [Terra: Party on, Alex! Alex: Party on, Terra!]. We’re here to highlight some of our favorite father/son and mother/daughter ensembles that are delightful even when the weather outside is frightful.
Three words best summarize my approach to winter style – cardigans, cardigans, cardigans! Here I put together a chunky lambswool cardigan with a pair of straight-leg, dark-rinsed indigo denim jeans. Corduroys would have made a solid choice as well but when I have my toddler in tow, I usually default to jeans since they’re easier to clean after he invariably wipes something gross on them.
Alex – Cardigan and Shirt: J. Crew, Jeans: Fidelity (from Nordstrom), Boots: Wolverine, Scarf: FC Zurich Club store in Switzerland
Finn – Jeans and Spider-Man hat: H&M, Shirt: Gap, Shoes: Stride Rite, Sweater: Crewcuts by J. Crew
Though gingham is typically associated with spring and summer, a darker shade (such as navy) is versatile and wearable all year round. Completing the outfit are comfy cotton socks, cap-toe leather boots, and a colorful scarf representing FC Zürich.
My toddler’s outfit also starts with the basic “sweater over a button-up” ensemble, but is given a shot of panache by the skinny-fit red jeans and stylish sneakers from Stride Rite. And since he won’t leave the house without at least one super-hero adorned piece of clothing, a Spider-Man winter hat provides the perfect finishing touch.
Now let’s turn this over to Terra for her wintery #OOTD selections and a bonus book recommendation!
Terra – Sweater: Joie, Jeans: Joe’s (from Jack & Jules), Tank: H&M, Shoes: Zara
Stella – Leggings: H&M, T-shirt: Zara, Boots: Zara
Let’s talk some truth – I’m not built for winter. My hometown is a notch in the snow belt, so you’d think I would have the mettle for the cold. The truth is as soon as temperatures dip below 60, I’m wrapped in the warmest clothing I can find and I stay that way until Memorial Day.
While I love to get dressed up for holiday parties, more often than not you’re going to catch me in snuggly sweaters and jeans. So let’s break down some winter casual gear.
If I’m going to wear the same thing day in and day out, it had better not bore me. This Joie sweater looks good with everything. From a simple black dress with over-the-knee boots to my favorite skinny jeans and a white tank, this long, snuggly sweater goes the extra mile. Seriously, I cannot stop wearing it. On cooler days, I grab my black booties. But we’ve had some scorchers this year, so I’ve been grabbing my strappy flats more often than not. They’re comfortable but snappy, so if I haven’t had time for more than a bit of dry shampoo and a swipe of lip gloss, I’m still pretty pulled together.
Now how about that kid of mine. Well, she’s a dress kind of gal. But when I can get her in a pair of pants, these are my (her? no my) favorites. Simple black skinnies with bad ass faux leather knees. The Minnie long-sleeve T keeps everything from getting too serious. Especially when your gaze gets to her feet and she’s stomping around in her patent leather combat boots. Stella means business at all times.
Are you in a book club? The one I joined earlier this year is not only full of pretty amazing women, but I haven’t been this motivated to read since my Stephen King days (a long time ago). We’ve plowed through several books. “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern is our most recent. I’m in the middle of it so I don’t want to say anything definitive about it. What I can say is that I’ve been entertained thus far. It’s worth a look if you enjoy a plot centered on the impossible.
Between a comfy sweater and a good book, I hope you all stay warm this winter! Believe me and my many years of searching when I say warmth does not have to be frumpy. And when you find something that works, don’t be ashamed to wear it daily.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
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