Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Graduation of Grief: Four Years of Remebering My Father

Today is the day. Four years. If my grief were a high school student, it would have received it’s diploma. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to figure out how to put my thoughts into words. When my father’s illness progressed, I made the decision to chronicle my process and blogging my way through has been very healing.

Reflecting on my fourth year without my father has been bittersweet. There is a feeling of both guilt and relief when you get through another year feeling a little less worse than the year before. At different times over the past few years I’d wished I just never knew him, because through the fog of grief it seems like a less painful option than accepting the loss. Don’t get me wrong, it still gets me. The grief monster still lurks in the shadows. Oh.... sometimes it gets me BAD. Every time I see a father/daughter dance at a wedding or overhear a laugh or sound that reminds me of him, my heart breaks with a true and deep ache that I don’t think will ever go away. Four years later, I’ve learned to live with the ache.

I will be forever grateful that I had my dad for 26 years. He was one-of-a-kind and the best father I could have ever hoped for. He may have been the gambler, but when he and my mother adopted me and took my colic-y infant self home from the hospital I was the one that won the lottery. I’m forever a daddy’s girl. I still miss him so much- and that will never change.

I love you, pops.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dibs on Scary Spice: Group Halloween Costume Ideas

Halloween is the best time of year. Hands down. Some years are more inspiring than others. Two years ago my friend Carrie and I went as Toddlers & Tiaras contestants, the year before that I was a zombie Amy Winehouse and last year I just threw together a few costumes with the leftovers from the previous years. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by very talented make-up artists at least five days a week- and at MAKE UP FOR EVER we celebrate Halloween in a big way. So even if I try to keep it low-key, there’s always something going on. I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with killer costume ideas, and I think I’ve figured out at least one. I’m sure I’ll have a few more within the next couple weeks.

At some point in my life I’d like to do a really rad group costume. Group costumes are some of the most fun and at the very least it’s always a blast to have a costume buddy. So if you’ve got a group and you’re thinking of costumes, I’ve got a couple suggestions. Now, every group costume comes with it’s own set of challenges. There’s always a character that EVERYBODY wants to be and a character that NOBODY wants to be and a few in-between. I'm sure you'll figure it out.


Not only is A League of Their Own one of the best movies ever- it’s also a fairly accessible costume and can lend itself well to large or small groups. Instantly recognizable but not so sexy that you won’t be able to eat bread for a week.
Fight over: All-The-Way Mae
Super sassy Madonna was the bombshell. Everybody wants to be her- call dibs early.

Take one for the team: Doris Murphy
You’d think it would be Marla Hooch, right? Nope.

Unexpected but awesome: Kit Keller
“Why do you gotta be so good!?” Just the right amount of angst and pigtails to be fun.

I remember setting up a pretend Babysitter’s Club headquarters in my parent’s garage, surely I wasn’t the only one. You also have options, you can go with the OG Babysitters or the major motion picture version.

Fight over: Dawn Schafer
California girl style, health food addict and tree hugger.

Take one for the team: Mallory Pike
What a dud. Why would anybody want to be Mallory?

Unexpected but awesome: Kristy Thomas
I was talking with my friend Elaine about this earlier and she brought up a very valid point that the 90’s tomboy outfit potential for Kristy is just unparalleled.


It’s been long enough and platform tennis shoes are back, so it seems appropriate. As the tan girl with curly hair- I was ALWAYS Scary Spice.

Fight over: Ginger Spice
The most iconic of the bunch. The union jack dress and the red hair with blonde highlights. If you are the redhead of the bunch, congrats you’ve got dibs.

Take one for the team: Sporty Spice
Although it’s arguably the most comfortable costume, it’s really the least fun.

Unexpected but Awesome: Piers Cuthbertson-Smyth
Admittedly he's a left-field character from Spice World. When the option arises to be Alan Cummings, that option should be explored.

Bonus Idea:

Dibs on Poncho Punch.

Friday, August 30, 2013

My Best Friend's Wedding

Today is my best friend’s wedding. Today also marks their ninth year as a couple. Man, time flies. It seems like just yesterday I was hearing stories about the cute boy she met at the coffee shop. Through the ups and downs, they are just perfect together. He’s the cheese to her macaroni and she’s the chips to his salsa. Their differences create a harmony and they just make sense together. They’ve had a marriage long before a wedding was ever in the picture and this day is just beyond special. A day to celebrate their journey as a couple and as people. Today my best friend is marrying the love of her life and I wish them a lifetime of happiness and bliss.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sage Wisdom: Candle Nerd Late Summer Picks

Candles are the scent soundtrack to my life. A bit dramatic, I know. I just can't get enough. I've got different candles for different seasons and always have a few perennial favorites around the house. At the beginning of summer I go cuckoo for coconut. My house is a tropical oasis. Towards the end of July, it's time to start the transition into more bold fall scents. I simply cannot ABIDE pumpkin and food scented candles (with the exception of the occasional vanilla hybrid scent)- so I tend to gravitate toward woodsy, herbal and floral scents. It's now late July and save for my Capri Blue Mango Mandarin candle, I've finally burned through all my stock (including what was left over from LAST summer) and I've put an embargo buying anymore tropical candles until next year. A girl's gotta have something to look forward to, no? Anticipation is one of life's simple joys.
Illume Good Nature, Avocado & Mint (Anthropologie): Recommended by a my friend Sara, this little guy is very fresh and subtle. Great for kitchens and small rooms. 

Bath & Body Works, Black Peper Bergamont (Bath & Body Works): A bit more on the spicy side, but still balanced, fresh and slightly masculine. 

Pure. Clean. Soy, Green Tea Sage (Target): My friend Chris had this one going at her place the other day, it's a clean and uplifting scent great or large rooms. 

Izola, Lavender (West Elm): I have almost bought this candle at least five times, a beautiful single-note lavender that is really good for any space. 

Voluspa, Mokara (Anthropologie): A soft floral option that I find myself going to when transitioning from spring to summer as well.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Choose Your Own Adventure

Summer, every year I am reminded of how awesome you are. As a semi-recent Los Angeles transplant, I'm still sorting out my social life. Perhaps it's the effects of the season, or my inner overachieving 6th grader who wants to write the best "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" essay ever or perhaps I listened to Natasha Beddingfield's "Unwritten" one too many times- either way, I've been trying to extract the maximum amount of fun in this three month stretch. My friend Blair once told me "in LA you can find whatever you want and a lot of it", boy, is that the truth. While I wouldn't call going to bars and cruising to various local landmarks around any kind of spectacular soul searching experience, but it is nice to just be in the moment and live. Ah yes, summertime- I'm all about you. I was fortunate enough to have three days off in a row and apart from the mandatory cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping day- I managed to squeeze a tiki expo, trip to the flea market and a cemetery adventure into my remaining two days. Now I've had a weekend full of adventure and my apartment is spotless. Bring on the week.

Don the Beachcomber in Seal Beach

An amazing mai tai situation.

Melrose/Fairfax Flea Market

Beautiful handmade pillow cover.

Joann is sharing her smart-girl secrets with the world. 

Such a happy accident finding this exhibit when we were lost at Forest Lawn.
"I only date tall dudes, because they make me feel small"

Joann and the Aztec calendar.

The OG bitchy resting face. I feel your pain.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer Obsessions: A Pair of Denim Shorts, A Nude Manicure & A Fig Tree Walk Into A Bar...

Clockwise from bottom left: Gold Hoops, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Jon Contino Print, Old Navy Denim Shorts, Left of Center Black Tank, DevaCurl Set It Free, MAKE UP FOR EVER Full Cover Concealer, Ray Ban Tortoise Clubmaster, Vans SK8 Hi Top, OPI Nail Laquer in Don't Pretzel My Buttons

Gold Hoop Earrings: Simple or gaudy, I just can't get enough of this staple. I am not the fanciest lady,  I've pretty much been living in a simple $5 pair from H&M for about a month now.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree: I've been seeing them all over interior design blogs and my friend Tyler has a pretty epic one in his living room- so, I've been back-and-forth about getting one for a while now. My plant care skills are below average at best, I'm a total plant killer. I've got some hydroponic pothos clippings in vintage soda bottles and a few succulents around the house, and I've more or less accepted my plant limitations. I took the plunge and picked up a smaller fiddle leaf fig at the Melrose/Fairfax flea market and so far so good. Since it originates from a tropical environment the stuffy indrectly lit vanity area in my bedroom seemed like the perfect spot. If it manages to survive long enough to outgrow it's spot, let's just say, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

"A Good Deed Brightens A Dark World" print by Jon Contino for When I was still living in Costa Mesa I saw a postcard version of this print. A quick internet search yielded more and more beautiful work from the NY based artist, but this is the one that has stuck with me. I haven't ordered the print yet, but I've got a silver ribba frame just-a-waitin' for it.

Old Navy Denim Shorts: No explanation required, summertime and denim shorts are like chips & salsa, they just make sense together.

Left of Center Tank (Anthropologie): Every so often I find a garment that just speaks to me, this is easily my favorite shirt of the summer. I own it in three colors and I will probably buy a few more. When I am choosing an outfit, I have to actively force myself to not wear the same shirt everyday. The back is just long and tunic-y enough to wear with skinny jeans or shorts.

DevaCurl Set It Free Mist: I've been wearing my hair natural pretty much all day everyday, this mist is my knight in shining armor. It reactivates the curl and gives it that good-frizz natural bounce. my hair is pretty fine, so it can't handle too much heaviness- so this is perfect for me.

MAKE UP FOR EVER Full Cover Concealer: A super sturdy waterproof concealer that can be used to cover blemishes, tattoos and scars. While I may use it to cover the occasional spot, I use it to keep my make-up in tact under my glasses. Using my ring finger, I dab it all over nose and the apples of my cheeks- let it set and then apply foundation around it. Since it's waterproof not bulletproof, it does shift a bit but not nearly as much as foundation alone.

Ray Ban Clubmaster Sun Glasses:  Talented-Mr.-Ripley-Keifer-Sutherland-in-Lost-Boys vibes for DAYS. Can't get enough, and I just love the combo of the tortoise and gold detail.

Vans Sk8 Hi: Vans will always have a special place in my heart. I used to idolize my older brothers and their aqua net flock-of-seagulls hair, Baja ponchos from Mexico, Vans and all. I can't remember a time in my life that I didn't own at least one pair. I've always got the classic Spicolli slip-ons, but I've developed a fondness for the Sk8 Hi style as well. A random trip to the Vans outlet in my hometown of Lake Elsinore left me with my two favorite summer sneakers- I've got a pair of Sk8 Hi in cognac leather as well as a pair in a vintage blue hawaiian print from the Van Doren collection. I got both pairs for $40. It was a good day.

OPI Nail Laquer in Don't Pretzel My Buttons: My obsession with "mannequin hands" has been previously documented. I'm always on the lookout for perfect "naked" shades. This is one of my new favorites and it goes on easy and wears beautifully.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Get Busy Livin': Work/Life Balance for Dummies

While cruising Instagram for memes to torture my friends with (and because there really are no mysteries left) I stumbled upon an inspirational quote on my bikini waxer’s feed that really resonated with me. A tile of wisdom that read: never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. What a fantastic concept that is so utterly in tune with where I'm at right now. Last summer I transitioned from full time freelance artistry to a permanent position with a cosmetic line, one thing led to another and I now find myself in a full-time management role in a new city.

Impromptu girls' day at the Getty Center. Can't beat the view!

The move from Orange County to Los Angeles, and a new leadership role combined with living on my own for the first time made it very easy for me to fall into a very work-centric lifestyle. I really love my job- I love doing make-up as well as the corporate/retail side of the business. Although I was not physically at work more than 37-45 hours a week it was completely dictating my lifestyle. I would wake up exhausted and come home exhausted and on my days off I’d drive back to Orange County and attempt to resume the life I’d left behind. That's the thing about loving your career, you put so much into it- it can be challenging to not lose yourself. One of the major reasons I transitioned from a freelance life was to have more balance, plan for my future and establish myself.
My new life in LA consisted of very little other than walking my dogs, grocery shopping and work. After a couple months, I had to have a come-to-Jesus talk with myself: 1) my social life couldn’t exist in a completely different county and 2) reruns of Sabrina The Teenage Witch on hulu are not suitable replacements for real hobbies.

Personal time is crucial.
 The idea of work/life balance is a lot easier said than done and at times breaking the cycle can be a very hard diet. I had to allow myself to reach a breaking point and decide there was no other option than to find balance. I started making new friends, connecting with old ones and made myself get out there. In the past couple months my workload has tripled, but I’m having the time of my life. The truth is, to find balance, you just have to do it. You’ve got to rally and be your own cruise director. I don’t go out and party every night, but I make time for the things and people in my life that are important to me. I love to karaoke, therefore I karaoke one to two times a week. My dogs are a lot happier and mellow when they get to run around, so we go to the bark park daily. Honestly, I feel like I’ve got a completely new lease on life and a newfound affection for a city that I’ve spent years dreading. Do yourself a favor and disconnect from the rat race. Go to a museum. Sit under a tree. Call your friends and plan an activity. Do SOMETHING. Life is too short.

Photobooth at Edendale in Silverlake

 Also, if you live in Orange County and are looking for a fab waxer, you HAVE go visit my girl Cami at SoCal Waxology in Laguna Beach!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Just Assume It's Pee: Simple Truths and Lessons Learned

I woke up this morning and realized that I’m going to be thirty in a little over six months. Thirty is this Bermuda Triangle where a lifetime of expectation and reality meet.I find myself more and more anxious for the big three-oh. I know myself, my needs and my capabilities a million times better today than I did a couple years ago and if self awareness and confidence are the side-effects of getting older, I’ve got three words for you: sign me up. Truthfully, I thought my life would be a lot different than it is. I did not anticipate ushering in my thirties as a single lady flying solo in Los Angeles- but every day I become more and more impressed with the person that I’ve become. It’s not that I’m Mother Theresa or anything, but for the sheltered girl from Lake Elsinore who assumed I’d be a married stay-at-home mom by the time I was twenty-three, I’ve grown a lot. It’s not that I’ve figured everything out, but there’s a lot of stuff that I have figured out.

Nothing is ever worth the extra five minutes of sleep..
Not only will the extra five minutes do absolutely nothing for you- but it’s just not worth it. It’s not worth it to be late for stuff. Parked on the street? That extra five minutes is JUST about the time that the little City of Los Angeles Parking Enforcement Car is making the rounds. Sidebar: for those who are new to parking in Los Angeles, read the damn signs- those meter-maids are RELENTLESS. Parking aside, there is always some sort of unexpected snafu that occurs as I’m walking out the door, those extra five minutes- that’s my snafu margin. As a pet owner I’ve learned the five-minutes rule the hard way. I have laid in bed and convinced myself that Nigel is just being antsy or that Henry heard a noise and wants to investigate. Either way it always ends with me stomping on paper towels or playing the “name that smell” game, which leads me to my second point....

Just assume it's pee...
Oh the lies that we pet owners tell ourselves, just to avoid this simple concept. It’s probably not a leak from the dishwasher or a wet spot from me running out of the shower to answer my phone. It’s pee. We all know it, just assume it and save yourself the trouble. Don’t get into weird crampy crawl positions to do the sniff-test. I love my pups, but I live in a one bedroom apartment with no balcony, accidents happen- I’ve got my handy portable carpet shampooer and a jumbo tub of Nature’s Miracle on hand at all times. If you live on carpet, I highly recommend the Bissell Spot Bot. Moving on...

Candles are the perfect gifts...
I’m a total candle nerd and I buy GOOD candles. It’s a problem. Even when I was a poor college student, I managed to find the funds to keep my house smelling like Henry Bendel Quince candles. It was ALL OVER when I discovered Capri Blue and Voluspa. I still can’t pass up the Bath and Body Works sales on three-wick candles. It’s all good. Candles as a very personal gift and a luxury that most people won’t spend on. A beautifully scented candle in a beautiful jar (not a Yankee Candle, guys) is just wonderful.

I buy things that put a smile on my face and make me feel good...
I just bought a tote bag from West Elm that has pictures of goats on it along with the caption “Totes Ma Goats”- it was $18 and I regret nothing. I’m looking at it right now, and it is just the best thing ever. If it makes your soul feel good and you can afford it, buy it and display it. This mindset is how I ended up with a Waffle House mug, a lucky wooden seal miniature and an Admiral Akbar figurine.

I don’t convince myself to feel romantic
It’s pretty self explanatory, but not everybody is meant to date and not everybody I’ve realized this. It’s not about being an asshole and hurting feelings- but more or less, knowing myself well enough to know that if I have to convince myself to go on a second date, I’m already over it. It’s okay to not be into a guy and it’s OK for a guy to not be into me. It’s OK to think they may be a great friend, but it’s also OK to not be friends too. I’ve allotted far too much mental real estate trying to convince myself to get psyched about some guys and some dates- and if I’m not organically psyched- it’s just not worth it.

The list is every growing, who knows I may look back on my fortieth birthday and laugh at myself. As I get older I become more comfortable in my own skin, with my choices and my life. While I may not have is 100% together and my dogs still pee on the carpet occasionally- I’m looking forward to the upcoming decade.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Scarlett "D": I'm Divorced. Really, Who Cares?

I got married when I was 21 (almost 22) to my college boyfriend. I got married because that was just the cycle that I assumed life was supposed to go in. You go to college, meet a guy, get hitched, etc...

J and I met through mutual friends my third year of college. We had initially started talking because I was trying to set him up with my friend. I was so convinced that they’d be a perfect match, that I even accompanied her to meet him. It was about half-way through my self-imposed third-wheel situation, that my friend turned to me and said “dude, I think YOU guys are the match here.” She was right. He and I continued talking. The beginning was very sweet. We went on picnics, totally said “I love you” two weeks in- we were young and in love- something we both desperately wanted and never experienced before.

Our relationship started to show signs of wear about a year in. We figured we’d get married to each other. I was a virgin. He was the first dude that ever got past first base. A relationship was something we both wanted. However, J and I were different. We were different and it didn’t work. Our relationship was failing before we ever walked down the aisle- both of us stressed and arguing constantly- bound to roles that we didn’t want to fill. For J, it was having his own family structure and for me it was to be taken care of. A mix of obligation and a massive post-graduation panic attack.  Our wedding happened after a brief argument that ended in J calling my “let’s just go to Vegas” bluff and us both being incredibly defeated and prideful. His parents were there, mine were not. I didn’t even tell my parents until months later.

Our marriage ended a couple weeks after our 1-year anniversary and by that time we were already living separately. J had already met somebody else. It was time. We knew it was over and that was that. It was a hot mess for a while. We hated each other and had mean passive aggressive Myspace fights. We were both young. Then we grew up. J and I are even more different now than we were 9 years ago and over the years we’ve managed to establish a friendship. He’ll always be somebody important in my personal timeline, but to be completely honest- sometimes I forget that we were ever married. It feels like a lifetime ago. It certainly isn’t anything I dwell on.

As much as I have moved on, my divorce is this weird thing that haunts me in relationship-land. I don’t see myself as a divorcee, honestly, I totally forget about it...then I started dating. People are REALLY weird about it and this thing that I rarely ever think about becomes this weird source of insecurity. I don’t want to hear about exes on a first date, but it seems that people think I need immediately talk about my divorce. Like, oh better put it out there because it’s such a BIG DEAL. It’s really not. I promise. I don’t want to talk about it, you don’t want to hear about it. It's really not that exciting.

My experiences (good and bad) have made me into the person that I am. I definitely don’t want to get divorced again, but I wouldn’t re-write my story. I am very pleased with my life. I work hard. I am a unique person with a unique point-of-view. I care deeply for others and always try to do the right thing. There are a LOT of antiquated opinions on divorced women- even from the most well-meaning of people, I’ve heard them ALL. I'm not made of stone, my feelings get hurt. I’m not damaged goods. Guess what? I’m almost 30. The men I date are also in their 30‘s. We've all boned other people, have exes, broken hearts and had our hearts broken. By this age, we’ve all got stories. To everybody that bet on the right horse the first time around, that is AWESOME! I still have aspirations and dreams of falling in love, getting hitched and growing old with somebody. I certainly don’t think that being divorced is that weird- I don’t see it any different than the baggage that comes from any other relationship. It’s not a scarlet letter. It’s just me. It’s just life. It’s time to move on.

"So what? Who Cares?" 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

I'm not sure where this graphic originated, but I did not make it :)
2012 was a good year for me- filled with ups and downs, but overall a time of tremendous personal growth. I couldn't be happier to ring in 2013 and all of the hopes, dreams and goals therein.