Monday, December 31, 2012

Mini Playlist

It's not Friday but I wanted to put up a mini playlist of some songs that fuel celebration and some that remind me of entering the New Year. Enjoy!! Cheers (and drink responsibly)!

Random Acts of Kindness (#26Acts)

Earlier in the year, I started doing gratitude projects to celebrate the people and things in my life I am grateful for. Then, we hit December and the tragedy in Newtown happened. Out of the ugly wretchedness of that situation has come Ann Curry's 26 Acts of Kindness campaign. Over the holidays, many of my friends either did random acts of kindness to honor the victims of the shooting or started to make plans to do something in the new year. After visiting Newtown to pay my respects, I started my 27 (added one for Nancy Lanza) acts and have decided along with several people I know to make this a regular thing. I hope you'll consider doing the same. Let's spread love and kindness in 2013. Be blessed.

Don't know about the campaign yet? Visit

Monday Quotable

Celebrate what you want to see more of.
- Tom Peters

I'm not officially back from my holiday vacation but the last day of the year happens to be a Monday so I had to post the final quote of 2012. This has been a year of ups and downs for me but I am still here. I can't complain about that--not when so many can't say the same. Life is precious and I plan to live the rest of mine thanking God for each new day and then trying to do something meaningful with it. I want to see more love, joy, good health, peace, stability, passion, fulfillment, wisdom, relaxation, presence and kindness in my life. I plan to celebrate all of those things as the new year starts and each day after that. Be blessed! See ya in 2013.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Instruments of Peace

As the nation shared a moment of silence and bells tolled around the nation for each of the Sandy Hook School victims, I came across a prayer that struck a nerve and I wanted to share. Be blessed.

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Friday Playlist: Celebrate Life

If we've been reminded of anything in the last few months of 2012, it is that life is fragile and short (even if you are lucky enough to live to be 100+). Life is a strange, beautiful, painful, joyful process. There are highs and lows. Growing moments and moments of complete devastation. We mourn and we celebrate. We cower and we thrive. In moving through this journey of contradictions, the biggest favor we can do for ourselves is to celebrate the time we have. Celebrate for your own well being, celebrate for those you love, and celebrate for those you've lost as a memorial to their lives. Celebrate for the higher power that gave you life. Also know that everyone doesn't feel like celebrating. Lift those people up in any way you can and help remind them that there is still good in the world. Be the celebratory moment in their day.

I know Christmas is Tuesday so it is logical for me to do a festive winter wonderland-esque playlist. Well, I already did one of those, so today, I am doing a playlist filled with positive, uplifting songs about finding the love and joy in life and hitching your kite string to it. May you soar into the New Year with lessons learned in 2012 firmly planted in your mind and a song in your heart.

If you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas.

Happy New Year (though I will post at least once more before then)! Cheers!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Monday Quotable

I know this is the Monday Quotable and its Thursday. Sorry about that. It has been a hectic week to put it mildly. Today's quote kind of states the obvious and most inspirational quotes probably do. I find though that sometimes I need a reminder of the obvious.

This quote reminds me that there is life beyond the moment. Stepping out of the tough moments in your life and reflecting on the bigger picture, may lift your spirits. Going through a tough moment may feel like the end of the world and sometimes, it is--at least the world as you know it. Most times though, you wade through the grief/anger/turmoil, etc. and come through on the other side.

Today, let's focus on the happier times that may wait on that person being changed inside you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Playlist: In Memoriam

I was all set to post a stocking stuffer gift list and a Friday playlist celebrating the weekend. Then, I heard about the tragedy in Newtown, CT. It came on the heels of a news story on the mall shooting in Oregon on Tuesday. This time, the victims were mostly elementary school students between 5 to 10 years old.

As I listened to the story unfold over the course of the day, I was overwhelmed with sadness. My heart bleeds for the affected families and friends of those that were lost. I don't know what to do other than pray. Today's playlist is dedicated to the memory of those who needlessly lost their lives.

Hug your loved ones. Share your feelings while they are here. Don't just celebrate the weekend today. Celebrate life. It is a limited and precious gift. Do something good with it. God bless.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Gift List: Something for the Kids

Often, the pure joy of the season is embodied in children. I enjoy shopping for them the most and they are undoubtedly the most excited recipients. As I was preparing the Gift List series, I knew I had to do one for the kids in your life (or the kid in you). These gifts span the spectrum from educational (tablets and books) to traditional (bikes, toy cars and dolls) and I've thrown in a few old school toys (old as in from my 80's baby childhood, not jacks or jack in the box--though I can still play a mean game of jacks) that are still popular just for good measure. As always, links and prices are below. Happy Shopping!

1. The Sing-a-ma-jigs --$4 to $18
2. My Little Pony--$22
3. Hot Wheels Mega Loop Mayhem Track Set--$50
4. Bikes--$60-$100
5. Y-Volution YFliker F1 Scooter - Green and Black--$80
6. Furby-$54 each (depicted in different sizes just for the photo)
7. LeapFrog LeapPad2 Explorer Crayola Creativity Bundle--$130
8. Skylanders Giants Starter Pack for Nintendo Wii--$75 (generally the same price for other gaming systems)
9. Xbox 360 250GB Kinect Holiday Bundle--$350
10. Tabeo 7 inch Kids Tablet--$150
11. Choose Your Own Adventure Box Set --$21
12. Big Art Set--$32
13. Scientific Explorer's Disgusting Science--$23
14. Strawberry Shortcake Berry Best Collection Doll Set--$40
15. LEGO Ninjago Epic Dragon Battle--$140
16. Discovery Kids™ Fabric Activity World Map--$15

The Gift List: Luxe Gift Guide

Today's Gift List spotlights high-end designer and specialty goods. This list is for those of you who want to splurge (and in some cases REALLY splurge) on something luxe for the loved ones in your life. There were so many options to choose from and honestly, curating the list was like the best window shopping I've ever done--except with research and reading of reviews. I can't afford to splurge on many of these things for myself (unless, I want to be homeless and fabulous) but I have a feeling some of you can.

So, without further flourish, here is the Luxe Gift List. There are no $30,000 Musical Walk on Roles (see the Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gift Guide) but I decided to put it in e-book form using Issuu anyway. I hope you enjoy flipping through the pages. As always, links and prices are listed below. Happy shopping (or dreaming about shopping).

If you can't see the catalog above, click here.

For Her

Linked Cuff by Anthropologie--$198
Jennifer Meyer Gold Wishbone Bracelet--$250
Jennifer Meyer
White Gold and Diamond Wishbone Necklace--$2,525
Irene Neuwirth Rose Gold and Onyx Earrings--$1,870
Christian Louboutin
Pigalle Spiked Pumps--$1,195Givenchy Shark Tooth Covered Shaft Knee Boot--$1,695Rag and Bone Flats--$295Miu Miu Studded Toe Sneakers--$550
Phillip Lim
Pashli Satchel--$875Helene Berman London Ruffle Front Coat--$445
Givenchy Shawl Collar Cardigan--$1,549 (on sale from $2,575)

Tory Burch Madeline Sweater--$275
Tom Ford Sunglasses--$380
Diane Von Furstenburg Color Block Gloves $185Michael Kors Cashmere Scarf--$135
Michael Kors 'Mercer' Chronograph Bracelet Watch--$275
For Him

Deakin & Francis Silver Tie Bar with Skull--$325
Felisi Top Zip Briefcase--$1,250 (or you could go for a more casual option: Serapian Leather Leisure Messenger Bag--$509 (on sale from $850)
Burberry London Circle and Square Medallion Tie--$150
Brera Sorromarino Diver Watch--$750
Nigel Cabourn Military Coat--$1,925
Bloomingdale's 5 Button Cashmere Sweater--$147.50 (on sale from $295)
Prada Blucher--$695
Lanvin High Top Sneakers--$795
Gucci Caravan Aviator Sunglasses--$310

For Home

Breville Barista Express--$750
Breville Juice Fountain Crush--$500

Le Creuset Ultimate Cast Iron Set $1000 (marked down from $1275)
Nason Moretti Burlesque Glass Set--$98 per glass
Sheesham Ice Bucket by Anthropologie--$198
Anthropologie Bonne Terre Bedding--$128-$698
Arlotta Cashmere Woven Throw--$375
Brass Bamboo Console Table--$669


La Mer Moisturizing Cream--$150
Claudio Riaz Double Sided Brush Collection Set--$950

Mason Pearson Custom Hair Brushes--$88-$190
Bobbi Brown Caviar and Oyster Makeup Palette--$75
Zwilling Three Piece Grooming Set--$120
Art of Shaving Unscented Shaving Kit with Badger Brush--$160

Kyoku Bath Products for Men--$23 to $38 each
Task Revitalizing Serum for Men--$75

Three Months of Williams Sonoma Croissants--$100
Platine Hot Chocolate & Scones Sampler--$70
La Maison du Chocolat Assorted Chocolate Gift Box--$100
Perfect Endings Vintage Cakes--$80-$90
Silver Oak Cellars Collector Gift Pack –6 bottles $430
Debauve & Gallais Black Toffee Tea--$20
Blue Mountain Coffee
Taylor Vintage Port ’07--$100

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Quotable

Service to others is the payment you make for your space here on earth.  ~ Mohammed Ali

There isn't really a need to elaborate here (but I always do, so I will). I went to dinner with a friend over the weekend and we were talking about some of my health issues and she noted that she thinks I do too much. She didn't say it in a mean way. It was more out of concern and I know it came from a good place.

I appreciate her concern for me but I also feel an obligation to serve. I don't know when that happened for me because I certainly wasn't that way in my high school and college years. Sure, I volunteered in soup kitchens and did community service for honor society requirements but it didn't feel like an obligation for me until sometime later.

Now, it's part of my life. Yes, I have health concerns. Yes, I could probably use more time to sit on the couch and rest after work but as long as I'm able, I'm going to serve. It takes me right out of a place of pity for myself and into a place where I know I'm super blessed. In serving others, I'm paying "rent" for the space I occupy but I am also serving my spirit.

Do you feel the same? Why do you serve? What drives you to give your time to others?

Friday, December 7, 2012

American Horror Story and A Lesson on Christmas

Do you watch American Horror Story? It is one of my favorite shows and has been for the last two seasons. That said, I never thought it would be the place for a moral lesson. Yet, the other day, it was just that for me. Somewhere between the murder and suspense was a line about society replacing the meaning of Christmas with the pursuit of things. Creepy, murderous Santa helped drive he message home. 

I thought about all of my gift lists and references to the season on the blog. I plan to keep doing all of that but I did wonder for a second if I was losing track of the "reason for the season." I don't think I have. For me, it is in the love of those around you, the forgiveness of past wrongs, and the joy in people's faces when you give a thoughtful gift. It is in time with family and friends away from the grind of work. It's a time when things seem to settle down, if only for a few days. It doesn't matter what you celebrate. It's how it makes you feel and what amount of reverence you give to the beliefs behind it.

Shopping for and wrapping gifts, curling up with hot chocolate, listening to Christmas carols, cooking a feast for the family or decking the halls (and the tree and the door) are just a manifestation for the joy I'm feeling on the inside. Remembering my happy 5-year old self when I see Santa doesn't mean I forgot about the Christ in Christmas. My ability to have peace through all that's going on in my life comes from my connection to Him. That said, the note from AHS was a good reminder to really be present and focus on what matters at this time of year. What a good lesson...who would've thought I'd find it in a show where a devil-possessed nun is taking over an insane asylum with a Nazi war criminal that is conspiring with a priest to experiment on the deranged and forgotten (again, if you haven't seen AHS, catch up!)

Thought I'd share. Happy Friday and to my Jewish friends, enjoy the start of Hanukkah tomorrow. Hanukkah Sameakh!

Friday Playlist: Pop Star Christmas

With all the gift posts and holiday decor talk going on around here, you had to know this was coming. I decided to kick of the December Friday Playlists with a Pop Star Christmas compilation. Most are traditional carols but some are originals.

I will confess that I generally go for the Motown Christmas songs but I'm open to everything. Justin Bieber singing Silent Night? Destiny's Child on Little Drummer Boy? N'Sync on The Christmas Song? Why the heck not???

As for the Trans Siberian Orchesta's appearance, how could I not? They may not be the typical definition of pop stars but they're rock rendition of Carol of the Bells is awesome. If you haven't heard it, you might want to skip ahead. It closes the playlist.

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland this weekend? Take this playlist with you. Happy Friday!

The Gift List: For Him

As I was curating The Gift List series, I realized I wasn't giving the guys much love. Not that guys wouldn't love organic mulling spices, ikat printed dinnerware or watercolor cashmere scarves but perhaps, they'd prefer a cool new watch or some indulgent shaving products just a bit more. So, just for the men in our lives, I give you The Gift List: For Him.

1. The WeWood Watch ($120)
2. Ursa Major Shaving Products ($106 for the Big Kahuna Set)
3. Axwell USA Shaving Set RBS Series ($75)
4. KBL Silver Storm Sunglasses in Matte Gold ($160)
5. Brompton Brown Business Card Case ($60)
6. Moore and Giles License Wallet ($60--with monogram, $70)
7. Cufflinks ($60 to $125) or Subway Token Cufflinks ($64) Clearly, I am partial to NY but there are so many options out there. Pick something that's unique to your guy (or grandfather, father, uncle, son, friend, etc.)
8. Herschel Novel Duffel Bag ($80)

9. Mophie Powerstation ($60)
10. J. Crew Cashmere Scarf ($98)
11. Hats from Topman ($16 to $40)
12. Gap Cashmere Half Zip Sweater ($55)
13. Beats by Dre ($200 to $400)
14. Odin New York Fragrances ($125 to $205) Odin EDP No. 7 won Men's Fragrance of the Year, which is why it is sold out but all of the others are just as nice.
15. Sena iPad Case ($99)
16. Wilouby International S/3 Flasks with Case ($59)

Honorable Mention: Owen and Fred Luggage Tags ($26 to $45). Let me be clear. I LOVE these luggage tags but had to given them honorable mention because they are on backorder until after Christmas. They are totally worth the wait and you could always give the recipient a photo of the tag and a promise for a post-holiday delivery. They pre-made tags will ship in late December and the customized tags will ship in January.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Gift List: $75 and Under

Today’s gifts are in the $75 and under category but the gifts really range from about $30-$75 given the separate $25 and under list. The items range from functional to totally frivolous but that’s what gifts are about—giving things to folks that they’d love but never buy for themselves. Here’s to a little joy this season.

1. Loliware Edible Cups ($30 for a box of 4). This one goes in the cool but frivolous category. They are only sold in New York City for now, but you can reach out to the company to explore out of state options in the future. The cups come in Bitter (bitters), Salty (lime), Sour (lemon), Spicy (pepper) and Sweet (vanilla) in sets of 4, 12 and 48 cups. Talk about conversation piece for a cocktail party. You can also find recipes on the site that are compatible with each cup flavor. Order at AHA Life or on the Loliware site.

2. Fornash Derby Bracelet ($38 at Fornash but on sale at Open Sky for $29 until December 13, 2012). Bracelet comes in black, blue, orange, white, pink and green. The bracelet is 100% leather and closes with a gold plated horse bit.  

3. Morrocan Tea Glass Set ($40 for a set of 6). These glasses are beautiful because of their jewel tones (you can also find them in orange, red, and gold). While traditionally used for tea, they can also be used as votive holders, small vases or in the bathroom to hold makeup brushes, cotton swabs and cotton balls.  

4. Angie ring by Robert Chiarella ($58). It's always good to have a cute statement piece. Necklace, cocktail ring or otherwise. Robert Chiarella is a great source for that. I chose this one because of my love for all things green but there are many options. The ring is also on sale at Open Sky for a limited time ($44).    

5. Cubist Appetizer Serving Set ($50). It's party season. This sleek and modern serving set will make a great home for appetizers before they are snatched up. Consider giving it to the hostess with the mostest (yes, I really just said that) in your life.  

6. Table Topics ($30). It's always fun to have something on hand to get the conversation going at a dinner party. This cute set is sure to help make some memories...especially after a couple of cocktails. Sets also available for families and for girl's night out 

7. Customized Dog Collar ($40). I can't forget gifts for the pet lovers in my life. I love my little fur babies. They are worth a splurge. Somehow, I think my fellow pet owners will agree.  

8. Me & Kashmiere Cashmere Scarf ($62 on Open Sky). Love the bright colors and 60% discount on this pretty scarf. I have tons of scarves to get me through the cold NY winters and feel like you can't go wrong with them as a gift.  

9. Cashmere Intarsia Monogram Gloves ($58). Cashmere with a nod to techie needs. These gloves allow you to use your touch screen phone, tablet, etc. without freezing your fingers off...and they're personalized. Love.  

10. Horse Bit Layering Necklace ($48). Generally, I like statement necklaces but for gifting, you never know what statement a friend or family member wants to make. That makes me keep it simple. This necklace can be layered with others or worn alone on more casual days.  

11. Pebbled Leather Continental Wallet ($68). I'm a sucker for a colorful wallet and I change them with the season. This one adds a nice pop of color in the cold winter months. It also comes in black, beige and red.  

12. Ikat Print Dinnerware: ($10 to $14 per piece): I love the idea of mixing bright colorful dinnerware into my standard collection. These pieces pop and would work well with standard white plates. Adding 4 salad plates would only cost you $48 and would add a nice splash of color.