Wednesday, February 27, 2013

can we talk about...

...what happens when your significant other loses his or her job?

James lost his job yesterday, and I am still shell-shocked. I want to be so supportive and hold his hand, while at the same time trying to quell the panic going on inside my head.

A day removed from the news has given me enough distance to realize that we will be all right. We have a great support system, and while it will be hard until he finds a new job, we'll be fine, and we have plenty of blessings to be thankful for, not in the least the fact that we have each other.

So I guess all I can do is let him know that I love him and that we're in this together. He's been so proactive about this whole thing (much better than I've been, I admit) and already has a handful of jobs he's already working on cover letters for.

To everyone struggling, I know it's hard to keep going, to keep believing, but keep on keeping on. You're certainly not alone.

Have you had a significant other or loved one lost his or her job? How did you cope? What did you do? I would really love to know. 

Thanks for stopping by. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

wishing for spring

wishing for spring


Looking through Madewell's online store has me wishing for spring twice as hard. It has been my go-to place for cute, reasonably inexpensive shoes every since I bought my first pair of their famous skimmers this past Thanksgiving. 

On a semi-related note, taking a break from shopping has really allowed me to take inventory of what I need in my closet, namely:

1. black leather boots that can be dressed up or down (I have super dressy leather ones and semi-casual suede ones and nothing in between)

2. a pair of brogues (in this color, they'd go with everything)

3. an easy-as-pie dress (or two, for the days when my coordination skills are seriously lacking)

4. wear-them-every-day sandals (this or this...or both?)

5. animal print skimmers (because leopard is a neutral...wink)

6. cute caps (good for my eyes and my inner fashionista)

I'll keep these in mind and try to cross off the list as the year goes on. 

I love the See by Chloe dress, but at $275, it's out of my budget, so I'll either wait for it to go on super sale (fingers crossed!) or try to find something similar. I've also decided that for the spring/summer, I wanted one simple, adorable, flat sandal for everyday and one dressier yet season-appropriate pair of sandals. I'm debating between the Madewell ones above and this one. As for the dressier pair, this pair has stolen my heart. 

In addition to the two pairs of shoes, my spring/summer wishlist rounds out as follows:

1. Aviator sunglasses

2. white shorts

3. white jeans

4. white t-shirts (see a trend?)

5. a big umbrella

6. rain boots

7. summer scent

8. bright bag

Now, if only spring would actually come...

Do you have spring fever? What have you been eyeing?

Friday, February 22, 2013

this weekend

James and I are planning to go to the Philippines this April. My hometown of Bangui, Ilocos Norte is so beautiful (the picture is of the beach about a 10-minute walk away from our house). I haven't been back home in over two years, and this time, I'll be going with James. I'm so excited for my family to meet him. Here's to his passport coming soon so we can buy tickets!

This weekend, I'm going to be thinking about home, and all the things I love about it:


soda in a bag


barbecue (and street food in general)

Here's to good memories, old and new.

Have a great weekend!

images via 1 2 3 4 5

Thursday, February 21, 2013

bag love

bag love #4


Clearly, the only thing I'm questioning about this bag is which size I should go for. ;). 

I've wanted a bag/clutch that had an element of PVC/clear material in it but that a) didn't cost an arm and a leg and b) wasn't so trendy that I wouldn't dare wear it when this season of PVC-madness goes away. It's got enough classic features - the structure, the substantial hardware - to make this bag less kitsch and more a twist on a classic. I love the color, and I'm a fan of Marc by Marc Jacobs purses - not too expensive for great quality and style. Definitely a contender for my spring/summer bag.

Would you wear a clear bag? Which of the two above would you pick? I'd love to know!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

can we talk about...

...the Art Institute of Chicago?

I've lived in Chicago since I was six years old, and I do consider it my American hometown. I love its big city sophistication with its small city charm and super friendly people. We midwesterners shoot it to you straight, and I appreciate the simple honesty in that. In addition to the amazing people, Chicago has tons of amazing places to visit, one of which is the Art Institute.

In addition to being a school, the AIC is also an art museum. I've visited numerous times, and I haven't come close to seeing everything. Every time I visit, I give myself at least four hours to do the visit justice. As you can see from the picture above, the museum is grand with such beautiful architecture that truly rivals the art it showcases. It's always lovely to see surroundings reflect and enhance the contents on display. 

While I usually make it a point to see this painting and this painting every time I visit, I specifically wanted to see a new exhibit on Greek, Roman, and Byzantine art and didn't visit those paintings this time around. Even so, there was so much to see, and I felt compelled to take some pictures to share.

On our way back from the exhibit, I was drawn to this Buddha sculpture...

...and this sculpture on the west side of the Grand Staircase.

I am always incredibly impressed by art, in all forms. As someone whose drawing skills begin and end with stick figures, I am incredibly fascinated by such vivid works of art, be it an incredibly ornate Bible, an ancient necklace, or great sculptures that are imbued with such minute details that I forget they're made of stone and I really do feel the Buddha's sense of peace and the strain of muscle as man fights lion. 

On a silly note, we each snuck pictures of each other!

 If you're ever in the Windy City, stop by and see the Art Institute. It's totally worth it!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

shoe love

For these next few iterations of shoe love, I thought I'd delve into shoes I own and love. 

These pumps were bought on major sale around November of last year. I love the rounded toe, the manageable heel, and the bright pop of color. I wouldn't call them go-to all-day work heels, but I can keep them on for a good 5 hours before they start to become uncomfortable. I'm planning on wearing them more as it warms up (wedding season, anyone?). 

I've also got my eye on these. Fingers crossed for a sale (yeah, right).

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 18, 2013


James and I celebrated Valentine's Day the weekend before at a lovely restaurant, but some presents from my lovely fiance came this weekend.

I love a neutral eye with a little bit of a "wow" factor, and once I saw this palette , I was sold. I own two eyeshadow duos and two eyeshadow singles from NARS, and I've always had great color payoff. The texture of my shadows are so buttery and easy to blend, and with NARS' eyeshadow base (the set comes with a mini travel version as well as a short-handled eyeshadow brush), they don't budge for the entire day. The compact is great for travel with its slim size, and the palette is so versatile for day or night that I can see me just bringing this for eyeshadow on a trip and being completely satisfied. Total LOVE.

This nail polish has become a quirky new fave: the pink base is quite classic, but the micro glitters and the bigger pieces make it really fun. It comes in 5 perfect-for-Spring shades.

My nails look like mini Cadbury eggs. How fun is that?!

This lipstick is so creamy and glossy, I loved it at first swipe. I was strolling through Sephora with gift card in hand and was drawn to the sleek packaging and a rainbow of colors. After swatching a couple of colors, I went with #12. I think it will be great for spring, and I have nothing like it. I haven't always been a fan of YSL beauty products - they were and are a bit pricey for me. But with a gift card and James pronouncing it "a great color" (this is high praise from him), it came home with me. As did this mascara, which has become a new favorite. I wanted a mascara that gave me some drama and volume without clumping. This does that for me, and then some. Plus, it smells good. YSL's beauty products all have a little bit of fragrance - nothing overpowering and the scent goes away after awhile, if you're sensitive about scents. I'm all about how something smells, so it's a bonus for me for the mascara. It comes in several colors, in addition to a true black. I went with the sea black, a blackened navy.

#12 is a lovely coral (its name is Corail Incandescent). The color payoff is wonderful - rich color with a sheen of gloss. After a few hours on me, the gloss goes away but the color remains and ultimately fades over time. I find myself touching up sometime in the early afternoon if I put it on around 8:30 a.m.  and then another touch-up in the early evening.

I didn't spend all of my gift card, but a good chunk of the remainder went to these two powders: the one on the left is loose, and the one on the right is pressed. I had been unsatisfied with my previous powder: there was always some discoloration no matter how little I used. I decided to give this one a try when I heard good things about it - some have called it "photoshop in a pan". If that's the case, then that will be a bonus - I just want a powder that sets my foundation without leaving a chalky residue. I prefer loose powders, but I bought the pressed one as well for ease of travel.

The compact is very generously sized, and although it looks a ghastly white in the pan, it goes on sheer on your skin.

It's so nice to receive gifts, especially from someone you love. Thanks, baby!
I hope all of you had a lovely Valentine's Day.

Here's to a great week and Happy Monday!

Friday, February 15, 2013

this weekend

this weekend


Happy Friday!

I'm so glad the weekend is here. Aside from getting some car maintenance work done and grabbing some groceries, I'm looking forward to just sitting at home, cuddling up on the sofa with some coffee and a good book, and just not doing anything. It really is a luxury.

Here are some interesting reads to check out:

How sushi became a worldwide phenomenon (my current read) 

A memoir from a fashion icon

About belonging as a teenager (one of my favorites, as a teen and since I've stopped being one)

For a little history and insight into a legendary president

On the woman who posthumously contributed to scientific advancement

An accessible yet not watered down theological read

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

bag love

bag love #3


I'm super happy about Coach's comeback. They've gone back to sleek designs in their signature leather. They've just released a whole new collection for spring, and this satchel is calling out to me. It comes in 5 colors and a perforated version, but I'd pick the yellow.

Psst! For all you in need of a last-minute Valentine's gift, see above. ;) Happy Valentine's Day!

Which would you choose?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

can we talk about...


I certainly don't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable by overly discussing this Christian season, but just a quick discussion as today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I'd just like to say that Lent is my favorite season in the Christian calendar. I love Christmas, but Lent, I feel, is when I'm at my best. It's the season that corresponds to the 40 days (not counting Sundays) before Easter, and it is a time of contemplation and preparation for Christ's passion and resurrection. It makes me take a step back and re-evaulate my life and the roles I occupy - as a Christian, a friend, a co-worker, a sister, a fiancee, a daughter, etc. It helps set me back on the right course and to re-prioritize. 

This is why I want to talk about it, because I think we all need a regular re-evaluation. Life gets so busy that a lot of things get pushed to the wayside, and we all need the opportunity to step back and remember the things we've pushed aside and re-engage in the effort to become better. 

Today is Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent. It's customary in some traditions to "give up" some kind of luxury for Lent. In the spirit of becoming more appreciative of what I have and to cherish them, I am giving up unnecessary shopping - shopping for clothing, accessories, beauty, decor, etc. Groceries and emergency supplies don't count (like, a car battery). It's my personal take on "fasting", which we often forget can be done with every thing, not just food. I'm fasting on the endless cycle of always wanting more, more, and more in order that I appreciate having enough (or more than enough) when so many don't.

I think this "ban" will be hard for me, which is definitely a reason to institute it. I'm pretty good about not making big purchases hastily, but my downfall is the endless little purchases - a shirt on sale here, a pair of shoes on clearance there, etc. I want to get back to the mindset when I considered shopping a luxury I treasured, as opposed to a luxury I'd gotten accustomed to. I grew up shopping Salvation Army where I was allowed just one item every time we went. It was all we could afford. I remember a suede skirt and a simple, cloth necklace that I picked out on two trips. I loved them. I wore them to death and took care of them like they were the latest fashion and made out of precious metal. They were incredibly treasured. I want to feel that way again about every little thing, and I think that will be easier by opting out of adding anything new. 

Please don't get me wrong! I love fashion and glitter and baubles as much as anyone else, and my shoe collection makes me smile every time I open my closet. Luxury is wonderful; everyone deserves a little luxury. I just want to revel in the luxuries I already have without continually desiring for more. Everything in moderation, right?

Thanks for reading along. 
I'd love to hear: what do you do when you want to take a step back and re-evaluate?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

shoe love

shoe love #3


What's more classic than a Sperry boat shoe? I love shoes that are no-brainers - put these on and suddenly, you've got just the right mix of casual and put-together. Great with everything, comfy, and practical. You'll wear these to death.

Find them here in a rainbow of J. Crew colors.

Monday, February 11, 2013

valentine's day for him: under $100

valentine's day for her: under $100

v-day for her: under $100


I have a love/hate relationship with Valentine's Day. There. I said it. Am I the only one? Sometimes it feels so silly to have to set aside a day specifically to show/tell someone you love them; we should do that every day. On the other hand, having that specific day also serves as a good reminder to pick up your game if you haven't been as loving or as attentive as you should be (it happens to all of us). My fiance tends to want to pull out all the stops on Valentine's Day: dinner, presents, flowers, chocolate. I love it because I love that he would do that for me (the presents are nice, too, but they come in second to his effort!). Even if he didn't pull out all the stops and just bought me a card or a little cute something, I'd still love it because it really is the thought and not the amount that counts.  

For the lovely ladies in your life, here are some gift ideas, all for under $100:

a candle that smells as good as it looks :: red lips and tips :: a cheery card case:: a whimsical bangle ::
 a ring that says "eat your heart out" :: an elegant case to store all those baubles :: owl and flower ear candy :: 
flowers to make her smile :: cheeky china :: a shirt that spells out exactly how she makes you feel :: 
a sweater that says it all with one image ::a scarf that shows off her love of shoes :: a subtle, feminine scent :: 
fun notebooks + awesome pens 

 Coming right up: gift ideas for him under $100.

Friday, February 8, 2013

this weekend

James and I are dining at Girl & the Goat this Friday for our Valentine's Day dinner. I know Valentine's Day isn't until next week, but we've learned that food is never good on any big day/night (think New Year's Eve, Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc.) and eat out the week before or after (or stay in and cook our own delicious meal!). James will be away on business until 7 p.m. on the 14th this year anyway. I'll let you know how it goes, but I've heard so many good things from so many friends, and I'm so excited!

Aside from our night out on Friday, we'll probably keep it pretty low key the rest of the weekend. We're really trying to take the opportunity to stay in, enjoy each other's time and company and the things we're lucky enough to be able to enjoy at home.

Here are some things to see/check out this weekend:

If you did love Beyonce's half time show and wanted more, tickets for her upcoming world tour are now available for LiveNation app users (all tickets available on Monday).

Read about the Emanuel Brothers: Ezekiel, Rahm, and Ari.

Channel your inner baker and make these awesome Nutella treats (and stay awhile at A Cup of Jo'll be hooked!).

Go see Silver Linings Playbook to see how romantic comedies are done.

 Have you ever wondered what your signature says about you? Find out here.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

bag love

bag love #2


I love a great minimalistic tote in rich, supple leather, and I love it even more when it comes with just a slight touch of edge - like these rose gold metal corners on this Alexander Wang tote. Super clean but super rock and roll, all in one. What's not to love?

Find it here or here in animal print.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

can we talk about...

Beyonce's Super Bowl halftime show? 

If you haven't seen it, here it is:

I thought her performance was insanely good. I loved it. I was in complete awe of her choreography and dance skills, her amazingly fit body, her confidence, and her voice. She was working hard and working it! While most of my friends loved it, too, I've heard others comment on how they wished she'd sang more or had more clothes on. Now, I'm always up for more of Beyonce singing, but I thought considering how much cardio she was doing, she sang well and for an impressive amount of time. I personally wasn't bothered by her outfit - I thought it was sexy and revealing but not distasteful. You can read what an article in The Atlantic thinks here.

But what about you?

What did you think of the show? I'd love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

shoe love

shoe love #2


I recently bought these from The Outnet at 60% off. Even so, these are easily the most expensive shoes I've ever purchased. I'm half hoping they'll fit and my wedding shoe search will come to an end, but I'm also half hoping that they won't fit or they'll be ugly or massively uncomfortable so my credit card balance looks smaller, ;). 

Would you keep them or return them?

Monday, February 4, 2013




One of my goals at the start of the year was to develop a routine to take care of my face and stick to it. After spending some time in Sephora trying out an entire range of products, I think I've found a set of products that work for me. I use this cleanser day and night; it's super gentle and has a very mild scent. When I want extra cleaning, I use this 2-3 times a week. I've used these makeup remover wipes for years and buy them in bulk at Costco (good for a quick or heavy-duty clean, or when you're traveling), and I recently discovered this toner (this cleansing water is great, too). This moisturizer with SPF from Sephora's line has become a favorite  for day- it keeps my skin moisturized without feeling like I put a ton of stuff on it. For night, I turn to this night masque for ultimate hydration. I wake up in the morning and my skin feels so soft. It's definitely a splurge, but a little goes a long way.

I also wanted to develop a "fail-safe" makeup routine that was easy to do yet still pretty, for those days when I've hit the snooze button too many times and I've only got 5 minutes. I have to say, taking care of your skin goes a long way to making 5-minute makeup effortless. In addition to products just applying more easily, adding all the extra stuff is just not necessary since your skin is lovely the way it is. For the most part, the only makeup I use throughout the week is five things: eyeliner (brown for day, purple or black for night), mascara (a favorite since high school; this is an equal favorite), neutral eyeshadow, lip balm/lipgloss/lipstick (always/often/sometimes), and a blush if I want more color. I leave the heavy stuff for the weekends for dates or nights on the town when I want a little bit more oomph and drama than my M-F look. 

* The specific shades in the collage are MAC lipstick in lickable, NARS eyeshadow in cordura, and NARS blush in orgasm.

What's your daily beauty routine? I'd love to hear some beauty product recommendations!

Friday, February 1, 2013

this weekend



I love football, so I will most definitely be tuning in to the Super Bowl on Sunday night.

Whether you can't wait for the big day or can't wait for it to be over, here are some things to do/check out this weekend.


Football treats to make and eat.

Late to Downton Abbey? Check out Maggie Smith's Lady Grantham.

Need a new lipstick? Ends on Saturday: 20% off at Ulta.
Say goodbye to Liz Lemon as Tina Fey signs off.

Preview and earmark the Prabal Gurung for Target lookbook. The collection will be available in stores and online February 10.

Read about the man behind Tod's

Have a lovely weekend!