Wednesday, October 31, 2012

halloween sweeties

baby costumes for halloween

polyvore set here

Aside from all the candy, the sweetest thing about Halloween is the overdose of baby cuteness in all sorts of ridiculously aww-inducing costumes. Is it weird that I (not so) secretly look forward to the day when I buy one of said costumes for my own baby? Yes? Never mind then. Carry on.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

hurricane survival

hurricane survival

 polyvore set here

I may be here in Chicago while Hurricane Sandy pounds the Eastern seaboard, but even here in the Midwest, the storm is making itself heard. Here's to everyone staying safe and warm and dry inside out East. In Chicago, we're taking the rising waves and blustering wind as a cue to think of loved ones in the middle of the storm and as an opportunity to stay in and catch up on simple pleasures.

How are you (safely!) weathering the storm?

Friday, October 26, 2012

just in...

This is a story of the bad and the good. The bad? My PC died. The good? This baby came in.

It's our first "shared" major purchase. We decided since my laptop went kaput and his is sure to follow shortly, we should invest in a shared laptop.

I guess the moral of this story is there's no better way to take your relationship to the "shared big ticket items" level than a Mac. Ok, maybe not. But it's pretty sweet nonetheless. 

And this ends my geek moment.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

currently reading

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Lately I'm finding that a lot of the books that I've taken the time to read have been books translated into the English from other languages, namely from the Spanish, the Portuguese, and the German. It's a nice reminder that there are flourishing authors that aren't recognized by the larger American audience.

Also check out Mr. Zafón's other novels, including The Shadow of the Wind, to which The Angel's Game is a prequel.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

songs in my head

On a lighter note, these songs are currently on my replay loop. Keep calm and play on indeed.

1. Algo mas/ La Quinta Estacion

2. How Will I Know/Whitney Houston (a classic!)

3. Springsteen/Eric Church

4. Home/Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

5. Poison & Wine/The Civil Wars

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

this is what uncertainty feels like

I feel like life after college has been one big question mark that sums up the feeling of being neither here nor there, of being in transition. I am now an "educated woman" (as the president of my university told me on my graduation day), and yet, I feel like I am taking a crash course through life, and I'm struggling to pass. 

I know of course that in some ways, this is normal. To be twenty-four is to still be figuring things out, to still be on the way to something and struggling to keep up with the twists and turns of the path ahead.

James and I graduated from college in 2010 and 2011, respectively. We are lucky to have found jobs relatively quickly in such a tough economy, and we are lucky to have each other to make the going easier. We now make almost as much as our parents do now and realize firsthand how hard it must have been for them, especially in having to raise us and support themselves. We make enough for us to have a decent roof over our heads, food to eat, more clothes than we need, and some money left over for some fun now and then. This is more than my parents had when they left the Philippines in their mid-30s to start over in America with a 4 month old and a 6 year old. It's more than James's mom had in the 70s when she was on welfare and responsible for his two older siblings. Which is why feeling a little bit lost and overwhelmed seems so petty. If they can do it, so can we.

Except that it gnaws at me that my parents feel as though I didn't live up to my potential - that I should now be in medical school or in law school, spurring on at full-speed towards a graduate degree and financial security. This I can deal with maybe, but then I start thinking about all they gave up so I could do those things and I start thinking about maybe I'm being petty again. It makes me want to prove to them that I didn't make a mistake falling in love and building a life with my best friend, that yes, the going is tough but we're happy and we're getting there. 

But, honestly, that's not the hardest part. The hardest part is watching the disappointment on James' face every time a job application comes back in the negative, every time we have to tap into our savings for an unplanned car repair or medical bill, every time he can't get me x, y, or z because money's tight as always, even though I tell him it's okay. I want to cheer him up, to wipe away the doubt in his eyes, because I love him and because soothing his doubts soothes mine. 

So, I hold his hand a little tighter, I pray a little harder, and I believe a little deeper for both of us as we keep on keeping on.

Monday, October 22, 2012

currently eyeing


1. a delicate necklace I can wear every day

2. black moto boots to take me through winter

3. adorable red flats (the bow is icing on the cake)

4. a necklace that makes a statement

5. a luxe perfume that has an underlying note of leather

6. navy + green + elbow patches + merino = great sweater  

As the weather keeps dropping, I get more and more into things that are comforting and luxurious at the same time, whether it's a warm perfume or a warm sweater.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

weekend snapshots

scotch and gin makes James a happy man

This weekend was busy, but in a good way. Between my boyfriend's birthday and my best friend's birthday on Friday and Saturday, needless to say, today was a lazy Sunday. I woke up late, ate leftovers, and watched football (I wasn't kidding about the lazy).

Hope you're all enjoying your weekend!

after dinner drinks at our favorite bar, The Map Room 

 a sushi lunch (most welcome after the meat overload that was Fogo de Chão - sooo good, but sooo  much)

 shoe lusting in Nordstrom's shoe department: Jimmy Choos are always great for understated sexiness and glitter, and I'm loving those Tory Burch flats in the oh-so-fall orange

eye candy and outfit inspiration at J. Crew

window shopping in front of Michael Kors: I love the mix of oversized knit with leather pants,and I'm still crushing hard on the Hamilton tote in that color

actual shopping at Forever21...finally found an affordable collar necklace I liked

Friday, October 19, 2012



polyvore set here

My boyfriend, James, turns 24 today. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, he said some high quality liquor, but specifically a single-malt scotch. Knowing next to nothing about whiskey (I prefer vodka or tequila), I did some research. I found that good scotch, especially good single-malt scotch, gets expensive really fast. I think I found a good balance between price and quality with the Balvenie that a mutual friend of ours recommended.

My search on Amazon led me to the books above, and having done a quick read-through of Bitters, gave a shout-out to two of the most famous bitters around.

I think my present of gin, scotch, and a book on bitters earns me at least a nomination for awesome girlfriend, don't you think? :)

Happy weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

recent buys - october

recent buys - october

polyvore set here

J. Crew oversized merino sweater in heather blue - $75.22 (after 25% off sweaters + 15% off student discount)

Essie "Don't Sweater It" nail polish - $5

NARS Autumn Leaves lipstick - $24

NARS Rajasthan duo eyeshadow - $34

JustFab Magnate handbag - $19.96 (first purchase promo for new members + free shipping)

J. Crew pave link bracelet - $93.37 (after 25% off coupon)

H&M oxblood leather gloves - $24.95

ShoeDazzle Liv gold flats - $29.96 (after 20% off first purchase for new members promo + free shipping)

Old Navy Rockstar Jeans - $19 ($19 Rockstar Jeans promotion)

Total - $326.06

all prices before tax

This is a lot more than I usually spend in a month but I think I gave in to the temptation of shopping for my birthday early. I initially bought the J. Crew oversized merino sweater above in grey and then promptly went back for the heather blue version (it also comes in a tomato red). It has pockets, is oversized, and super comfy in oh-so-soft merino wool...what's not to love? I think I'm going to live in this sweater between now and March.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

halloween dressing

what I'm wearing on Halloween

I never really went trick or treating as a child, which probably explains why I don't really get into Halloween very much, although I am always in awe of people who go all in and celebrate the day in amazing (often homemade!) costumes. For those of you who, like me, are a little bit shy/inexperienced when it comes to dressing up, here's my alternative: a moody outfit with a little bit of Halloween drama. I like to go all-black with a little bit of edge (try booties with a great detail like studs) and a little bit of a nod to the holiday (the shirt above is from Target for $6!). Since I'm usually about neutral makeup most of the time, on Halloween, I take full advantage of the opportunity to kick things up a notch: vampy lips, smoky eyes, black eyeliner, and as-black-as-possible curled eyelashes. And voila, my version of a modern, low-key, urban Black Widow.

What's your Halloween look this year?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

seven things (right now)

a tree in my neighborhood in full fall regalia

 1. It is halfway through October, and I have yet to take a prolonged walk outside to take in the leaves changing color and the brisk air. I need to change that stat before it turns frigid.

2. I am excited about the Bears sitting atop the NFC North. I won't make any conjectures about playoffs and Super Bowls; I'll just keep cheering and watching to see if everything pays off later this winter. 

3. My boyfriend turns 24 this Friday, and we will be eating dinner at Fogo de Chao. It will be our first time, and we'll be with friends from college. Cannot wait!

4. I can't wait until the election is over. I try to be a politically aware, well-read and well-informed person, but my tolerance for the general nastiness of election year politics reached its limit about 27 days ago. 

5. #4 being said, I mailed in my ballot. As annoyed as I may be at the whole childish atmosphere, I'm quite serious about voting. Will you vote/have you voted?

6.I'm going to try and start writing again. Nothing too ambitious or long - I just want to get into the habit of taking the time to write essays when the mood strikes.

7. My boyfriend and I recently struck a pact to set aside one day a week to just spend time together. It doesn't have to be anything fancy; we don't even have to go out. The "rules" are just that we take the time to put everything else down and to the side to take the time to check in and enjoy each other's company. Our lives are so busy, and I think sometimes we have "us" time only when our schedules allow. Now, we'll try to carve out that time first and fill everything else around that.    

Monday, October 15, 2012

red tips

There are some "holy grail" items that are so basic and classic yet seem impossible to find: i.e. the perfect red lipstick, the perfect pencil skirt, the perfect silk blouse, the perfect black bag, etc., etc., etc. 

Before yesterday, I had found only one of those hard-to-find perfect-for-me classics: my perfect matte red lipstick is NARS Cruella. Yesterday, I found my perfect red nailpolish: OPI Kennebunk-port. It's just dark enough to satisfy my tendency to pick moody/vampy colors, yet red enough to still show through as red without venturing into undertones of brown. Plus, it's a little infusion of color that's still work appropriate. Win-win.  Now if I could find a silk blouse that's petite and busty friendly...

What are some of your "holy grail" products?

Friday, October 12, 2012

coffee is my drug of choice


I love coffee. I love the way it smells as much as the way it tastes. Sure, I'm a fan of tea, as well, but coffee to me equals energy, a step towards productivity, a new start while tea for me is the drink I choose when I want to slowly ease into sleep. I found some great coffee accessories that I've put together on polyvore - loving the etsy print above, the cheeky cow creamer, and the Intelligentsia coffee (seriously great coffee plus it's from Chicago, my hometown!). 

In the fall, a perfect day would mean cuddling up in a blanket with a freshly made cup of coffee, doing nothing but reading and spending time with my boyfriend. I intend to do just that this Sunday.

Have a lovely fall weekend!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

inspiration (solange)

All photos from Madewell

I find Solange Knowles's style inspiring because of the fact that it's so different from what I usually go for - her use of color, her hair, her choice of prints, etc. are so bold yet on point, eye-catching yet not costume-y.

I find her style a reminder to go ahead, infuse some color/print/crazy sexy hair in my everyday routine; I find her outfits powerful and fun. And, really, isn't fashion about having fun? Otherwise, what's the point?

Whether you stick with the classics or go for the new and bold, it should be about having a good time and dressing in a way that makes you feel good. No matter what she's wearing, she always looks like she's loving it. 

Good clothes can make you look good, but wearing clothes that make you feel good make you look better every time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

daily makeup

I am not the most consistent makeup person, probably because unless I'm going out with my boyfriend for a date or dinner with friends, I'm perfectly okay with going au naturel or as close to it as possible on a daily basis. But lately, as the weather has gotten colder and as my skin begins to start its annual metamorphosis of going 3 shades lighter than I normally am in the summer, I find that I start getting pasty, and so daily makeup is a must to infuse some color on my face.

It's pretty basic. I put on some face primer (I'm a recent convert and am trying out different kinds...right now, I'm testing out Smashbox's original photo finish primer, but I've heard good things about NARS' pro-prime so will try that one next) and some tinted moisturizer with SPF. I like tinted moisturizer over foundation because I like how light it is as compared to foundation, especially in the summer. When I want a little more coverage, I use tinted moisturizer and some concealer ( I use Make Up For Ever) or opt for a true foundation.

Next, I work on my eyes, which I happen to think are my best feature. I tend to focus heavily on my eyes and just go fairly neutral on my lips. My go-to every day eyeshadow is NARS duo eyeshadow in "cordura" - the bronze shade is neutral yet interesting, and the dark, cocoa shade amps up the color for night or for more intensity. I use NARS eye primer for longevity. (I promise I'm not sponsored by NARS...I just find their products to work well for me, and I appreciate that they have a full range of shades for women of color). Lastly, I use chocolate brown eyeliner (softer than black for day) and black mascara (my favorite is a drugstore brand - L'Oreal Voluminous mascara; I've tried many, many mascaras at all different price points, and I keep coming back to this one). 

Other extras: a little highlighting blush (my shade is "Luster"), a little highlighting shadow for when I want my eyes to look bigger (I like "Cyprus"), and a Shu Uemura eyelash curler to give my stubbornly straight lashes some curl. I top it all off with Laura Mercier invisible loose-setting powder.

My favorite brushes are by eco tools. The eye set above was around $8. The brush hairs are soft, easy to clean, don't fall out, and I love that each brush in the eye set is labeled for its purpose since I'm not the most makeup savvy person. I think they're a great set of quality brushes for a reasonable amount of money. 

I know this seems like a lot, but I get this done in less than 10 minutes if I'm taking my time and less than 5 minutes when I'm rushing to get out of the door. 

What's your daily makeup routine?

Monday, October 8, 2012

weekend snapshots

 pretty tissue paper from Kate Spade (I returned the item I purchased but I kept the tissue paper :) )

 Received my Baggu order - how cute are the elephants and alpacas?
 Friday night outfit: black H&M coat (old) black ASOS heart patch sweater Old Navy Rockstar Jeans in dark grey, Topshop pumps (old), J. Crew Edie purse in casablanca blue

 Looking at owl necklaces for my little sister (she picked the blue one)

 Tried on some things I'd been eyeing (from left to right): J. Crew oversized merino pocket sweater in heather blue, J. Crew tribal print wool scarf (can't find online), Madewell contrast cardigan in dark camel and flame, Madewell letterman sweater jacket 

I bought the letterman jacket (100% wool, super cozy, I sized down and had it still fit me in a loose, borrowed-from-my-boyfriend way), and have my eye on the other things for my birthday next month.

My absentee ballot, done and done. Regardless of whomever you're voting for, just vote. It's a right that shouldn't be taken for granted. You have a voice - make sure it counts!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


After surveying my bag collection, I realized that I didn't have a single,  small lady-like bag. My lifestyle demands that I carry a little bit more so most of my bags are satchels or hobo-esque shoulder bags, often with the option of a longer strap. When I do get the change to carry less, I go to the opposite extreme and opt for miniature clutches or small cross-bodies. But a true lady-like structured handbag - bigger than a clutch but smaller than a shoulder bag -, I just didn't have...until my new Edie purse arrived today.
The blue is rich and saturated, the minimal metal accents are perfect, and the structure is exactly what my closet was missing. The best part? The length of the shoulder strap (not shown) - it's long enough to be worn on one's shoulder but not long enough to drag on the ground should one choose to carry the bag on the arm instead. Alternatively, it can also be detached from the bag itself for a handbag option.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

white bubbles

Took advantage of a Living Social that had these ILY Couture necklaces for $16 each. Bought two vouchers and claimed them for a black one and the bright white one above.

Because you can never really have too many statement necklaces...especially when they're this fun.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

beauty buys

Updated my make-up collection with some fall-friendly pieces: vampy nail polish from Estee Lauder (as lusted after here) and NARS, a serious moody berry lipstick from Givenchy and a burnt orange one from NARS that really does look like autumn leaves, and a handful of Smashbox samples courtesy of my Sephora points, including the brand's famous primer. I also asked for a sample of NARS' primer with SPF and am eager to compare the two to see which I like more. 

Any primer recommendations? I'd love to know!