Cinnamon and Soderbergh

Two goofballs in Laguna Beach, feeling just as giddy as the day they met

Two goofballs in Laguna Beach, feeling just as giddy as the day we {err, “they”} met

The Halloween to Thanksgiving stretch always feels extra special to me, because it marks when my sweet and I first met and began courtin’ (as some of the old-fashioned Southerners I was friendly with at the time called it). Right about now marks the fifth anniversary of that super-nostalgic feeling for me, and whenever I breathe in the crisp air of fall I can’t help thinking about my husband’s and my first date in a Mexican cantina, where we sat on the patio for hours, had a Diet Coke drinking contest, debated the merits of Soderbergh films, and I proceeded to question him relentlessly about every last piece of minutia of his work and personal dreams. It’s crazy to think that since then we’ve both quit drinking Diet Coke and moved halfway across the country from that cozy patio. But, funnily enough, our new home is right up the street from a Mexican restaurant by the same name as that Austin-based cantina, and each year since we’ve been in Los Angeles my husband has brought home takeout carnitas on the anniversary of our first date.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to bask in all the memories that Mexican takeout and chai-spice lattes conjure up, while I soak in fleeting sunsets and experience what little glimpses of fall Southern California has to offer. Now that I think of it, enjoying the nostalgic powers of seasonal smells and cinnamon-filled drinks is yet another great way to beat the Daylight-Savings blues. What do you think?

Psst: After chowing down on carnitas takeout, we took a three-day vacation in Laguna Beach to celebrate the anniversary of our “meet cute” last weekend. It was so nice to take a little time off from work and stroll by the seashore whenever we pleased, especially since our wedding anniversary this year was so low-key (and very work-filled). Is there a special way you like to celebrate anniversaries? Do you like alternating between keeping it laid-back and doing full-blown celebrations, or do you like to stick to routines and very specific traditions each year? Leave a comment.

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Kitsch Fix #72: Niagara in Technicolor

A giant statue of a Mounty (the Royal Canadian Mounted Police)

Giant statue of a Mounty (a.k.a., a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police)

On a recent trip to visit family in Toronto, I had the opportunity to see Niagara Falls for the very first time. I was quite literally left breathless at the sight of these giant waterfalls, which were engulfed in a thick mist that created a new rainbow to marvel at every few minutes. I also couldn’t help being struck by the majestic beauty of Niagara Falls juxtaposed with the kitsch of the tourist traps surrounding the area. Here are a few of my favorite tourist trappings…

A waving Hershey's Kiss welcomes visitors in ot the casinos and ice cream shops

A waving Hershey’s Kiss welcomes visitors into the casinos and ice cream shops

A giant, foil-wrapped kiss teetering on the corner of a building

Gargantuan, foil-wrapped kiss teetering on the corner of a building

A super-detailed sign warns against the dangers of climbing over the fence that surrounds the falls

Gotta love how detailed this sign is that warns against the dangers of climbing over the fence surrounding the falls

Coca-Cola and cobblestones never looked so vivid

Coca-Cola and cobblestones never looked so vivid

The magestic falls and a rainbow arcing over a tour boat

The majestic falls and a rainbow arcing over a tour boat

Psst: Have you ever been to Niagara Falls or another big waterfall? Were you similarly awestruck? Or, perhaps have you seen the Marilyn Monroe/Joseph Cotten movie “Niagara” (1953)? The film just so happens to be in Technicolor. Leave a comment.

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Daylight Elevations

A photo from Laurent Chehere;s Flying Houses series, currently on display at the Muriel Guepin Gallery in New York City

A photo from Laurent Chehere’s Flying Houses series, currently on display at the Muriel Guepin Gallery in NYC

That time of year is upon us again, when the mornings come far too soon and the nights end before they’ve begun. I often respond to Daylight Savings’ fall-back-an-hour-and-make-the-world-horrendously-dark time shift by staying indoors, eating cookies, and bundling up in every piece of wool I can find. Shortbread-chocolate-thumbprint pastries, pumpkin-spiced anything, socks, snickerdoodles, blankets — check, check, check, check, and check. This year I’m trying to stay a bit healthier, though, and I’m desperately scouring the internet and my friend’s noggins to figure out every possible secret of staying productive and upbeat while the world around us turns so dark.

I really think it is the physical darkness that makes this autumnal time shift so difficult; the sun sets so dang early after all, and very few of us have the kind of job flexibility that lets us come home and spend time in nature before 5 p.m., so life can start to feel downright gloomy. I don’t know about you, but when brisk, late-afternoon strolls with my pup start disappearing from my schedule, my days start feeling very devoid of joy. An ingenious pal recently suggested I nip this downtrodden feeling in the bud by waking up an hour earlier and actually switching some of my outdoor rituals to the morning. Sure, motivating myself to throw off my covers and get moving at the crack of dawn on the chilliest days of the year will be a little challenging at first, but that’s why I’ve already started wearing wool socks 24/7 anyway, right? I think the idea to exercise in nature early in the morning and really capitalize on the hours of daylight is a wonderful way to elevate and brighten the mood of even the darkest days of the year. Are there any other fall/time-change coping mechanisms that you have or you’ve been planning to try out? I would love to hear about ‘em! Leave a comment.

Photo by Laurent Chehere via the Holiday Boutique Blog.

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Sick Days

Coffee in bed, or in my case the mug would be full of soup

Coffee in bed, or in my case the mug would have been full of soup this past month

Doesn’t it always seem to happen that just when you get in the swing of things, life sneakily disrupts your plans? In my case, this topsy-turvy life force took the form of a nasty stomach virus that bowled me over back in September. As a result of these germy-germs, I’ve spent the past month and a half either in bed or at work (albeit taking it very easy on myself whenever I’m out of the house), and I’m only now starting to get back on track with my personal writing, film projects, and non-broth-based culinary creations.

Although I admittedly let myself get a tad down while I was sick, I am trying really hard to stay positive and approach my overflowing in-box with a sense of calm instead of chaos. It can be so easy for us to go the route of chaos, though, don’t you think? I mean, in the lonely days when I was laid up in bed with an angry Puggle barking at me to play and an even angrier calender dinging incessantly with all the deadlines I was missing, I couldn’t help feeling a little defeated, and I often found myself oh-so-melodramatically wondering if I would ever feel on top of things or accomplish a single goal ever again. Whenever I forced myself to flip my thinking, however, I realized how awesome clean bed sheets feel, how cool it is that I was still meeting lots of deadlines, and in those other instances how honest e-mails go a long way toward extending deadlines. Oh, and did I mention that I realized how incredibly darn lucky I am to be in good health most of the time?

So what if I’m a month behind on work, or need to start back at square one on my sugar-free-green-smoothie cleanse, or even if I seriously need to rebuild my relationship with a certain persnickety Puggle? The important thing is just to start back up, dive into our goals, stay calm, and breathe. After all, sick days come and go; the thing that truly keeps us healthy is a positive outlook on life. Corny as it sounds, I really believe this is true. How about you? Leave a comment.

Image via Pinterest.

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Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes founded Ms. Magazine in 1971 and are just a few of the women who've made America what it is today

Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes founded Ms. Magazine in 1971 and are just a few of the women who’ve made America what it is today

Have you seen this fascinating documentary yet? It’s a three-part series titled “Makers: Women Who Make America” and, even though I first discovered it this past winter, I’ve found myself thinking about the amazing women it introduced me to a lot lately. When I first watched the documentary I was amazed (and admittedly a little embarrassed) by some of the things I never knew about the women’s movement in the United States, and the series left me feeling truly inspired to make the world better — to continue the work of the women who have given me the chances I have now, and to improve the chances for women and other minorities of future generations. PBS’s editing keeps the pace of the documentary energetic, entertaining, and often humorous, and Meryl Streep’s narration lends the piece the kind of comforting, smooth patter that allows you to forget you’re actually learning a ton while watching.

I highly recommend the documentary to anyone who wants to feel inspired or uplifted by vivid, personal stories, and maybe even learn something new about history along the way. You can watch all three parts of the series for free on the Makers website. Do let me know what you think once you’ve watched it…Are there any other books or movies about the women’s movement that have been meaningful to you? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

Image from Pop Revolver via Pinterest.

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What I’m Watching Now 2013 Edition

"Orange Is The New Black" promotional photo

“Orange Is The New Black” promotional photo by Jill Greenberg

Although long weekends are most famous for barbecues, fireworks displays, and road trips, in my mind they are perfect for TV marathons. As such, I figured it was high time I gossiped with you about my current television obsessions. Here they are…

  • Orange Is The New Black (Netflix) – This hour-long drama set in a women’s correctional facility is perhaps the best piece of new television I’ve seen in the last decade. It is uproariously funny, yet deals with real emotional issues in a masterful way. I love that this show depicts flawed female protagonists and doesn’t shy away from dealing with their psychology or sticky issues, like race and sexuality. If you still haven’t seen it yet, I seriously envy you your first viewing. If you have seen it, are you already re-watching it and scouring the internet for season-two spoilers like me?
  • Scandal (ABC) – Created by Shonda Rhimes (the powerhouse behind “Grey’s Anatomy”), this soapy drama centers on a team of DC lawyers who manage political crises and fix scandals for a living. Chief among the show’s scandalous characters is the brilliant and manipulative Olivia Pope, who just so happens to be having an affair with the president. This show is sexy, often deliciously absurd, and undeniably addictive, so I highly recommend it. Bonus: season two just became available on Netflix Instant, so you could easily get caught up on the series this weekend.
  • How I Met Your Mother (CBS) – Friends had raved about this sitcom to me for the longest time, but whenever I watched a random episode now and then I wasn’t too impressed. I was quickly singing a different tune, however, when my husband and I sat down and started viewing the series from the very beginning this winter. It centers on the haphazard romantic lives of five 30-somethings, and draws a lot of humor from the nature of memories, the subjective way we tell stories, and the way we each sensationalize or romanticize different aspects of our lives. Every episode finds me laughing and crying along with the characters, and I’m psyched for the ninth and final season to start up this fall.
  • The Americans (FX) – Set in the 1980s, this spy thriller tells the story of two married KGB agents who are raising their children to live the American dream while they carry out covert missions on behalf of Mother Russia. Full of sexy storytelling, suspense, and great performances from Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys in every episode, this show is definitely worth catching up on before season two starts in January 2014.

Psst: There have also, of course, been the old reliable shows that I’ve been watching on the edge of my seat from week to week this summer. I mean, Tuesday nights just wouldn’t have been the same without Pretty Little Liars…And, what TV fan could live without cringing and gasping every Sunday night as Dexter and Breaking Bad careen toward their series finales? Do you have any current TV obsessions? I’d love to hear about them. Leave a comment.

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Two Days/Years/Lifetimes

My sweet and I playing with our pup on our two-year anniversary

Silly selfie of my sweet and me playing with our pup on a very low-key wedding anniversary {we both worked in the morning, then played Bananagrams in the backyard and went to an outdoor taqueria}

My husband and I celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary this month, and — man, oh man — there’s nothing like a milestone to make you abundantly aware of what a trickster time is. Lounging in our backyard playing with our dog and his crush of the moment (a squeaky, stuffed-cow toy), my husband and I marveled at how vividly we can still remember our wedding day. I can recall not only every minute of that day, but all the emotions, smells, sounds, and other sensations, too. The way I’m able walk back through that day in my mind and relive all of its mushy moments is beyond photo-realistic, making the phrase “it feels like only yesterday” seem like a major understatement. And yet, when I think about all that has happened since those moments of white satin and purple lisianthus — about the career changes, moves, house renovations, and different health crazes passionately adopted then quickly abandoned by a certain well-meaning-but-chocolate-addicted someone — our wedding seems like it happened way more than just two years ago.

So, exactly how is it possible that a day can exist 24 hours and a lifetime ago all at once?

Answer: I have no frickin clue.

Only adding to these confusing properties of time is the fact that I’ve been expecting to feel a shift in our relationship after being married a while, and this simply hasn’t happened. It’s not that I’ve been sitting around waiting for the other shoe to drop or praying that we’ll magically transform into a perfect 1950s-style couple, but hearing frequent jokes along the lines of, “Just wait until the honeymoon period is over,” I couldn’t help but keep an eye out for a new phase of marriage somewhere on the horizon. And so, over the past two years in which we’ve been insanely busy with work and travel, I’ve also had my nose to the ground trying the sniff out any sign of change in our relationship. There have been plenty of changes around us, sure, but I feel like our relationship is one of those rare things that remains constant and keeps going…My husband and I just keep on trying to be the best possible partners for each other — offering support, romance, sympathy, and space whenever the other person needs it — and we keep doing this day after day, and year after year.

No matter what other work emergencies or enticing adventures come up, we know we have to make time to be there for each other and actively love one another. I guess this is the one piece of wisdom I have gleaned from our still-very-young marriage: you need to make time for each other and you need to do it often. Lather, rinse, repeat. Perhaps I’ll find that this repetition-steeped approach to our love and life together is blinding us to relationship changes that are actually happening before our very eyes, or maybe it’s simply what’s making the years blur by so blissfully. Only time will tell. But, time is such a tricky minx that I doubt she’ll give anything but the most cryptic of answers.

Psst: You can relive my wedding day right along with me here, here, here, here, and here…Do you feel like relationships have phases, or do you feel like time plays tricks on you? Are there any tidbits of relationship wisdom you’d like to share? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment.

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Painted wooden door outside a shop in Ghent, Belgium

Painted wooden door outside a shop in Ghent, Belgium

Crickets. Yup, that’s been pretty much the only sound coming out of this blog lately. Life has been very busy and noisy in the time that this site has been quiet, but I’ve felt a bit remiss about the fact that I haven’t indulged in these shouts, screams, and cackles of laughter right alongside you, dear readers. Perhaps I should have posted one of those vintage TV test patterns months ago and asked you to bear with me through the wee hours that were to be devoid of programming. Do you remember those still frames of static and incessant beeping? {Sometimes they were a cartoonish image of a vertical rainbow, and other times they were a black-and-white bull’s eye with the bust of a Native American man above it.} Oh, how those stagnant images taunted my insomniac childhood…But, that’s neither here nor there. The point is: I’ve missed you.

While I admit that when I first shifted away from the once-daily posting model a year ago it was quite liberating at first, I now find myself really missing the ritual of blogging and sharing stories with you. I do not know how exactly I am going to find enough time to blog on a regular basis while working and writing up a storm on other projects, but I wanted to let you know I’m currently taking a serious look at my schedule, making plans and priorities, and I hope to start posting several times a a week very soon. In the meantime, just know I miss you and send my apologies for all these pesky crickets. Leave a comment.

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Two Feet

Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon in 1966

Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon in 1966

Forty seven years ago, Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon. By taking those figurative and literal strides in a time when females were not yet allowed to officially race, Gibb not only helped change the rules of this famous sporting event, but she changed public perception about what women were capable of accomplishing with both their bodies and minds. She did this simply with her own two feet and a whole lot of determination, and she continued running even when marathon officials and protesters tried to stop her.

Growing up in Boston, it was this kind of story that always struck me with awe whenever the marathon rolled around each year. After all, the race has come to symbolize the fact that –no matter our skin color, nationality, gender, or religion– as humans, we have the power to go great distances by merely using our own two feet. Furthermore, the marathon shows us that if we don’t have the use of our own two feet we can cover great distances by using our arms to propel a wheelchair, and if we don’t have use of our arms the human spirit can propel us along in the form of a loved one running behind us and pushing our chairs. It was this celebration of humanity that brought me, my parents, siblings, and cousins to a street corner every marathon Monday of my childhood, and I daresay we partook in this event more religiously than we did any other holiday. No matter what personal dramas any of us were going through, we always made the time to go cheer on the runners, and I have such fond memories of holding out paper cups of water for the athletes, and of my aunt learning all the top-contenders’ names so she could call out personalized encouragements as they ran by.

For me, these memories will always be what the Boston Marathon is about: Dixie cups, and curbside lessons on the power of my own two feet. And today, as I breathe a sigh of relief that my family is all safe and sound back in Beantown, I invite anyone else reading this to bask in these kinds of fond memories with me and to celebrate the trailblazers of this world who make a difference with nothing more than determination and their own two feet. Leave a comment.

Image via Pinterest.

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Vintage Valentine

Coca-Cola ad circa Valentine's Day 1969

Coca-Cola advertisement circa Valentine’s Day 1969

It is no secret that I am a sucker for all things vintage. Sometimes it’s because of the simplicity, yet others it’s all about the ornateness. I guess I’m smitten with this vintage Coke ad thanks to a combination of the two–that lacy doily fills me with nostalgia for making Valentines out of red construction paper and doilies with my grandparents so many years ago, and the caption (as commercially driven as it is) makes me smile in wonderment at all the simple ways there are to be romantic with our sweets. Wishing you a happy day filled with two straws, one glass, and lots of love! Leave a comment.

Image from Pinterest via Snippet & Ink.

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