Hand-written

One of my favorite things to receive is a hand-written letter. Whenever I get the mail, I sift through what’s there, seeing what’s important and what’s not, and if ever I see an envelope that’s hand-written, I’m usually tearing it open before I reach my front door. In a day and age when communicating via email, texts, social media and the like are the norm, the letter has been all but forgotten about. Almost obsolete. Yet it is one of the most sincere and intimate forms of communication. It requires thought and effort. Anyone can pick up their smartphone and shoot a quick text/email. Yet those same exact words written on paper and sent in the mail took that person time. It was considered. Each word thought out. The stationery chosen. The address written. The stamp placed. And it is guaranteed to make the recipient feel appreciated. A few weeks back I got the most lovely letter from a friend. For no good reason at all, she sent me the most heartfelt sentiment and it really made my day. She wrote “Some days you just need a smile and a happy thought, so I’m sending you one in case today is that day for you.” (I haven’t told her I’d be quoting her-hope you don’t mind, R!!) The letter went on to say some of the most lovely things I’ve heard from a friend in a really long time. And what’s more, I know the effort and thought that went into that letter. She could have easily shot me a quick text, as we do with each other nearly every day, but this was different. Her gesture made me want to do the same. To reach out to friends ‘just because’. I have always kept pretty stationery on hand for just the occasion. Whenever I’m at a shop and I see lovely notecards, I pick them up. You never know when you’ll want to send a note to a friend, whether it’s to say thank you for cooking dinner, sorry about your dog, congratulations on your promotion…the occasions are endless. You just might be more inclined to send that special note if you have something pretty to write it on. Take a look and maybe you’ll find something you like. I know whomever is on the receiving end will like it too. Make someone’s day-they won’t forget it.

Images from my Pinterest.

Happy Easter and have a lovely weekend!!

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If I read one more Dora book, my head will explode.

Books have always been important in my life. Ever since I can remember, I have loved to read. I have vivid memories of getting lost in books like Ramona the Pest, A Wrinkle in Time, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on. Books have such a way of transporting you. Of showing you things you’ve never seen. Of showing you the world, whether its this world or one imagined by the author.  So it’s only natural that I pass this love of reading onto my children. It’s not coming from  my husband-reading a magazine about the latest BMW engine is his idea of heavy reading. (There is always a stack of car magazines in every bathroom in our house.) Thankfully, they’ve responded. I’ve tried to incorporate into their library books that are of educational value. Books that teach a lesson. Books that broaden their horizons. I have this vision of my children being so ahead of the curve by the time they get to kindergarten their teacher says to me: “Oh my, Mrs. Lee-your children are so intelligent and well-read! It must be from all of those wonderful books you’ve been reading to them.”  Unfortunately, my daughter now only reaches for books about Dora (puke) and Barbie (double puke). As hard as I try…. sigh…. But the reality is that after reading like a gazillion books with the line “Swiper, no swiping” (really???), the teacher will most likely pull me aside and say “Mrs. Lee-your daughter is hoarding all of her pencils and folders for fear some kleptomaniac fox is going to steal them. Do you know what this is about? Oh, and she talks to her her backpack and refuses to take it off. Like ever.” Parenting win. No, really, we do read a lot of different kinds of books. My favorite ones are the ones that show diversity. The ones that show that not all people look the same. That there are different skin colors. Different eye shapes. Different religions. Different ways of doing things. I think that lesson is one of the best ones I can teach my children. That the world is diverse. And to accept things that are different from them. My kids are, in fact, a minority (I am Caucasian and my husband is Korean), and it’s good for them to see other people that look like them, and people that look nothing like them. And know that it doesn’t matter. (side note-we recently had gifted to us a “Korean” Barbie. She really looks like NJ Housewife Barbie who spent too much time in the tanning salon. Is ‘Korean’ that hard to pull off???) One of the ways I can do that is through books. I’ve rounded up some of my favorite books for kids that show them the wonderful world that they live in. And that there is no fox stalking them waiting to steal their stuff.

Rama and Sita. My kids became captivated with this story after seeing it read on Nick Jr. (I probably could have come up with something that sounded way better than that) It’s an ancient Hindu legend with princes and princesses, evil kings and monsters. It’s a book that teaches morals. And it’s beautiful.

The Story of Ferdinand. I adore this book, and it’s one of my son’s favorites. It’s about a docile bull named Ferdinand who lives in Spain, who is like no other bull around him. He likes to lie under his favorite tree and smell the flowers, while all the other bulls like to fight each other. There’s a lovely lesson here with some Spanish culture.

For me, this one’s a no-brainer for my kids. They’re just starting to understand what being Korean is, and what a great way to instill their culture in them. I recently discovered this on Amazon and have since ordered it.

Kiki and Coco in Paris. This book is responsible for my daughter’s love of all things Paris-related. She’s obsessed with the Eiffel Tower and thinks that all electrical towers are “Eiffel” towers. It’s the story of a girl named Kiki and her doll Coco who travel to Paris, and about all the places they see while they’re there. The photography  is absolutely beautiful and I just love when my daughter asks me to read her this one.

This is New York takes you on a tour of the city’s famous ethnic neighborhoods and introduces little ones to the history and culture of one of the most amazing cities in the world. Love, love, love.

Pea Boy and Other Stories from Iran. A lovely book of beautiful fairy tales from Iran. It’s truly fascinating  to see how another culture tells stories.

The Family of Man is a stunning book of photographs from countries all around the world. It’s a great way to show children just how diverse this world truly is.  Disclaimer: if you’re not prepared to explain what “boobies” are, steer clear. It gets a bit National Geographic.

The Family Book is a must for anyone whose family is “different.” If your family has two mommies, people of different races/cultures, single-parent families or anything that’s not considered traditional, this book is for you. If all children would read this book, I think  the future would be a much more accepting one. Come to think of it, we should ALL read this book.

So while I’m grateful to Dora for teaching my kids some Spanish, (they both call out “rojo!!!!!” or “verde!!!!!” at traffic lights), I really wish they’d put that crap down and stick to reading these. I don’t want their teachers to think I suck.

Home sweet home

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A house is defined as “A building for human habitation, esp. one that is lived in by a family or small group of people.” But a house is just a house. It’s made of bricks, wood, and cement. What transforms that house into a home is what’s inside. What the people who live there bring to it. The things that show who they are, where they’ve been, what makes them happy, and what they love. Those are the things that make a house a home. I like to walk into someone’s home and immediately get a feel for who they are. By the pictures of their family and friends on display. By the objects collected from the wonderful places they’ve been. By the art that inspires them on the walls. Those are the homes that truly inspire me. But I think the home that should inspire you the most is your own. Do you look around your home at the things you’ve placed there and feel content? Like it represents you? I most definitely do. Our home is rather modest; we’re not winning the most square footage award anytime soon, but I love where we live. It is our home. When I walk in the front door, I am comforted by all that I see. It represents who my family is and it is filled with things that we love. Whether it’s art that my daughter brought home from preschool or a chair that I covet or my favorite flowers, I love everything that’s here.

Over the last few days, I took a bunch of pictures of my favorite things in my home. These are the things that I love to look at. They make me happy. They are the things that make my house a home. Come on in…..DSC_0513

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And while I love all these things-particularly my kids’ room and my black bathroom, it would all mean nothing without:

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Family. Because that’s what really makes a house a home.

My one piece bathing suit kicks your bikini’s ass

There are so many things that no one tells you about being pregnant/having a baby/life after baby. No one tells you that you will hardly sleep after being about 7 months pregnant because your lungs and your stomach are basically in your throat and your back feels like someone is actively pouring acid on it. No one tells you that while you are delivering your baby that things will come out of you that one should never, ever have to see. (My poor husband.) No one tells you that even after having your baby, you will still look 6 months pregnant. After my daughter was born, I had a woman ask me “When are you due?” To which I replied, “I already had my baby. A month ago.” And no one tells you, that even after a couple years have passed, your body may still not be the same. May NEVER be the same. Scratch that-WILL NOT be the same. I’ve come to terms with that. Things are wider. Lumpier. My jeans don’t look the same on me, and bikinis are out of the question. My stomach has come a long way (I gained weight the equivalent of a Backstreet Boy while pregnant), but my belly button…..is scary. It looks like it got caught in the middle of 2 lions fighting over a piece of meat. It’s just wrong. And sad looking. And must be covered up at all times. With spring here and summer right around the corner, I have bathing suits on my mind. But not just any suit. Things must be strategically covered up so that they don’t look like I’m trying to cover them up. Like I want to wear this one piece over the gorgeous bikini I have at home that I only got to wear once. But luckily, one-piece bathing suits have had a resurgence of sorts. I’ve so been digging them and I actually think I’d be wearing them even without the unfortunate belly button situation. So moms with funky stomachs and anyone else who isn’t comfortatble putting it all out there, rejoice! You can wear bathing suits that still flatter you and make you look your best. The one-piece is back, baby. Check these out:

I love all three of these suits from Anthropologie and I’m deciding on which I’d like to buy. I love the color blocking of the first two, but the black one with the keyhole is so va-va-voom! Can’t go wrong with any of these. And you won’t miss your bikini. Find these at http://anthropologie.com/.

JCrew probably has the best swimsuits around, in my opinion. The ones I have are beautiful, flattering, and well-made. They have ruching in all the right places and every time I’m wearing one, I’m not worried about what’s flapping or bouncing around. Because it’s all locked in tight like a sausage. (But not in a bad way.) They make you look your best. And they’re classic. Buy at: http://www.jcrew.com

Oh hi, Hotty McYouarehot. I can totally see Beyonce wearing this on her yacht while hangin with Jay Z and Blue Ivy. And me. I’m definitely there too. Available at http://www.shopbop.com/

I’ve had my eye on this Zinke number for two seasons now. I look at it often and think I just need to take the plunge and buy it. Oh, and did I mention it comes with a removable peplum? Go now to: http://zinke.myshopify.com/

I have a slight obsession with Mara Hoffman and this suit is no exception. Her prints are vibrant and graphic and just basically amazing. Buy at: http://www.barneys.com

I think red and pink are my favorite color blocked colors, so naturally this suit must be mine. Join me at: http://us.topshop.com.

So with all these amazing options, still think you’re missing out on the whole bikini thing? Yeah, me neither.

Have a great weekend! x

Your cashmere sweater needs you to read this.

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At no point in my life have I ever thought that I’d be so excited about laundry products that I’d just have to tell people about them. Well, such is the case. I read about The Laundress in Domino magazine years ago (have I mentioned how much I miss that magazine?) and it has changed the way I think about and do laundry. Although initially this may seem like such a trivial matter, it really is, quite important! You spend time choosing what you wear. You spend lots of money on it. Shouldn’t you take care of it the best way you can? That’s what these products are-the best way to take care of your investment. The company was started by two women from the fashion industry who were looking for a better alternative to care for their clothing than chemical-laden dry cleaning. After doing much research, they discovered that 90% of what says ‘dry clean only’ can actually be machine washed. Major!  So they developed an eco-friendly line of products that will almost completely get rid of your need to ever to go to the dry cleaner. Like ever. And, in turn, save you money. Win-win! There is a product for nearly every type of clothing you own: cashmere, denim, bathing suits, baby clothes, gym clothes, wool, lights, darks, lingerie…you name it, they’ve got a product for it. They also have a line of cleaning products and tons of tips for laundry and cleaning on their website. And the scents. Are. Insane. They have different scents to choose from and they’re all divine and made from essential oils. No artificial fragrances here. Add lovely packaging and you’ve got the perfect product. How badly do you want to get your hands on this stuff?

Here are a few of my tried and true favorites:

Ahhhhhh, the Crease Release. I haaaaaaaaate ironing. Like really hate. Avoid at all costs. With this little bottle of pure gold, I’ve been able to cut it way down. (And I hand it off to my husband when it simply must be done.) A few sprays of this and your wrinkles magically disappear, leaving nothing but a lovely scent. If I’m traveling, this is one of the first things I pack.

The Delicate Wash. I let nothing else touch my pretty girlie what-nots. Nothing. (well, detergent-wise, anyway, *wink wink*) It has the “lady” scent, which is so, well, lady-like.

With the Wool and Cashmere Shampoo, your precious sweaters will never have to go to the nasty dry cleaners ever again. And they’ll be in better condition and last you longer. Seriously.

These are my baby essentials. The baby detergent has the lightest, sweetest smell and I use it on my own clothes as well. And anyone with children (or with a spilling issue, like myself) will love the wash and stain bar. I have one that lives in my diaper bag and it’s definitely spared a shirt or two (or ten) from being thrown in the trash.

Lastly, the Signature Detergent. It’s just the best all-around detergent I’ve ever used, hands down. I’m partial to the classic scent for this one-it’s just light and clean and my husband doesn’t complain that his clothes smell like a chick.

So maybe the next time you’re headed to the dry-cleaners, turn around, go to the bar instead, and order some of this stuff. Way more fun. On both counts.

Available here: http://www.thelaundress.com/ and  here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_10?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=the+laundress&sprefix=the+laundr%2Caps%2C184

Spring has sprung……sort of.

If you live in the northeast, then surely by now you’re among the millions who have put a hit out on Puxatawney Phil’s head. That dimwit could not have been more wrong and clearly needs an ass beating.  Many of us had snowy and icy conditions over the last couple of days and I, for one, am over it. Although the calendar says spring, it doesn’t feel anything like it, so I thought I’d give you some images that may help get you in the mood.

Happy spring!

Images from my Pinterest.

Ballerina Project

My first true love was ballet. I started taking classes at the age of 3, and it stirred within me a passion so great it remains with me to this day. Like so many little girls who put on their first tutu, I dreamed of one day becoming a ballerina. I would practice hard and often. My parents would take me to acclaimed music schools so I could take lessons with the best around. I even had an invite to audition for the NYC Ballet summer company-an audition that I would go to, make it past the first round of cuts, and then be sent home devastated. Somewhere in my parents’ home there is a picture of me from that day-in a pink leotard, eyes a little red, eating a Devil Dog. (which I hear are still available on ebay.) Alas, it was not meant to be. And although that experience was both heart-breaking and humbling, my love for the ballet never went away. I still cannot watch it without crying. Within seconds of the dancers coming on stage, I am in full on tears. Not because I’m thinking “boo hoo, I wish that was me” (ok, maybe a little bit), but because I find it so stunningly beautiful it literally moves me to tears. Every single time. Last Christmas, my mother and I took my daughter to see a children’s version of The Nutcracker, hoping to ignite a similar passion in her. As soon as the music came on, I felt my tears-just hearing The Nutcracker Suite has a similar effect-but after seeing the children basically fall over themselves, tears soon turned to smiles. My daughter enjoyed it, but for the most part just wanted to get the hell outta there so she could pee and get a cupcake. And after an hour and half of watching kids trip over their own feet, I was ready to get the hell outta there too.

About a year ago, I discovered something called The Ballerina Project. The Ballerina Project is the brain child of photographer and creative director Dane Shitagi. His idea to shoot ballerinas amidst the landscape of New York City began 12 years ago and was shot solely on traditional film up until 2012, when digital photography was introduced. Although the project was initiated in NYC, it has since included locales such as Boston, Miami, Toronto and Hawaii. The ballerinas are from renowned dance companies from around the world. The project itself is described “a collaborative work of dance, fashion design and photography played out against the city’s landscape.” I find it particularly captivating and I really love the juxtaposition of the beautiful dancers against the grittiness of the city-which is probably why the subway shots are my favorite. Now give me a ballerina in a pas de deux with a homeless crackhead pan handler… that’s a major moment.

Pretty major, right? All of these images and many, many more can be seen and purchased at http://ballerinaproject.com/. The site itself requires a yearly $14.95 subscription fee. You can also find Ballerina Project on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theballerinaproject?ref=ts&fref=ts, Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ballerinaprject/, their blog: http://ballerinaproject.com/blog/, and Tumblr: ballerinaproject.tumblr.com.

I’m thinking a spin-off of this with my kids may be in order…