Thursday, December 30, 2010

Back Soon...

Hi All,

I apologize for not posting anything recently.  Expect a fab post soon...and leave any blog suggestions in the comments below!  Lord knows I could use it.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Online Shopping Triumph

I thought I'd share this little online feat that makes me excited, and is a great example of the product of following the book of rules - my previous post "Online Shopping Bible".  It's the little things!  This bag:

Was being sold at Bloomies for $499.  I did a little online research and found it for $170 on .  I love it, it's by Delsey and it is white white white, my favorite color...and I love how it's faceted like a gem.  It has a TSA lock on it as well as a 10 year warranty.  Pretty good considering I could have paid $330 more for it!  It's really durable too...just like a Tumi.  For all those non-online shopping believers...BELIEVE.  Perhaps I should start up a little biz on the side where you tell me what you want and I'll find it online for you for a small fee.  For all those too lazy or busy to go out and hunt for that blouse they loved and tried on in the store but was one size too small.  I can work miracles best friend even says it's "my specialty", lol.

Can't wait to use my new rollie toy at the Beverly Wilshire when I go to LA for Disneyland!  

Enjoi...thought I'd share my new favorite luggage website with you all.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Men think about the way things are, women think about the way things could be".

Men think about things the way they are, and women think about things in terms of the way they could be.  I'm not sure when and where I came across that statement, but it definitely has resonated and stuck with me over the years.  It's true.

I think about things too much sometimes.

Maybe if I (we) stopped thinking about the way things could or "should" be and actually enjoyed and appreciated what we have right now, it would allow things to happen and progress on their own momentum and we would end with what we wanted the entire time, maybe even a better outcome than what we thought we wanted. I am a culprit of worrying and stressing over how things are going to turn out.  Often times I think this actually hinders the natural progression of things and in turn actually works in the exact opposite way I'd like it to, similar to jealousy.  Jealousy has the exact opposite effect you'd like it to have.  Don't let what could be distract you from the reality of what is, as whats happening is only going to happen once, and you just might miss it while its here.  You can't control everything, and sometimes its easy to forget that.  You have to practice when to step back and let life take you there.  The act of obsessing over what you want and why it's not a certain way can skew your grasp on reality, and before you know it you've become lost in your own head.

Take it from a self-proclaimed worry wort: it's NOT worth it!  Overall, it just makes things worse, and it also turns men away...something else to consider.

Enjoy your weekend, ladies.

Don't worry, be happy.
[Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. ring, Mac lipgloss]

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Somebody Has to Say It

If you're a celebrity and you're going to do a perfume, for god sake, please do me a favor and keep it anonymous.  Is is just me who feels this way, or are all celebrity perfumes tacky tacky tacky?  There is not one that I'd wear without shame.  I bought Kim Kardashian the perfume a while back because it smelled a lot like Michael Kors which I am allergic to sadly, and I never wear it because 1. I was always too embarrassed to utter "Kim Kardashian" when people asked me what perfume I was wearing and 2. It's junk and made me break out in a rash.  I saw it at Walgreens the other day and all I could do was shake my head at myself.  On a semi-related tangent, that girl will hawk anything for a dollar - I saw a picture of her at a toilet paper release party for Charmin the other day.  *Hangs head in shame*

The celebrity perfume trend is getting ridiculous, almost every big celebrity has one!  Have a little humility people!  It's different to have a celebrity endorse a perfume made by a respectable brand, of I'm not addressing Charlize Theron for Jadore for example - that's acceptable because Jadore is a great, high quality perfume that isn't cleverly named "Charlize Theron".  If you as a celebrity want to do a perfume that badly, keep it anonymous and put some earnest effort into it, so that it's not making people break out in rashes.  Administer some taste, because the LAST thing the world needs is another stinky cheap perfume with your name and image slapped on there.

Class not trash!


I wouldn't be caught dead wearing this.
[Heat by Beyonce]

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Over the years, there has been much disagreement between my friends and I regarding the book of grey-area rules that apply to the availability of dating friends' ex's.  What is considered an ex?  What are the guidelines?  Does a guy you/I dated for two months fall into the category of "untouchable" in the long run?  What about an ex significant other that I dated for years but ended on very amicable and non-romantic terms with?  Or the guy who winked at me in the bar last Saturday...could you date him instead?  Where does it begin and end, this is what I'd like to know, and WHY.  There are so many grey areas with this one...I think this may be the main reason why people shy away from the subject altogether, in fear of angering their friends.   

Some individuals are painfully sensitive about this and don't want their friends to date ANYONE they've been associated with, even with someone they went on just one or two dates with.  I happen to fall in the more liberal end of the spectrum with this one, as I feel most guys I've been associated with in the past are fair game for my friends, unless there was and continue to be significant emotional ties to that relationship.  I read a quote today that perfectly illustrates the way I feel about this:  "If you cry over a guy, then your friends CAN'T date him. It can't even be considered." 

I'm not saying any ex is fair game, and I definitely feel in many instances, it would be disrespectful to go for a friend's ex.  However, I do feel like some people go overboard with this and use it as a tool of manipulation to shelter their own ego, not because they have lingering feelings and emotions tied to the person at hand.  We've gotten to the point in this day and age where we all date multiple (double-digit) partners.  In addition, I believe a lot of the same opinions and feelings about relationships have lingered from years ago in our parents' era where people dated one or two partners in their lives, got married and lived happily ever after.  This is no longer the case, by any means.  It is quite common for people to date multiple partners in the process of finding a permanent mate, and I feel like it's unreasonable to stake claim on every single person you've dated in your entire life.  Shouldn't we all lighten up a bit?  There are definitely some untouchable people, say...the guy that broke my friend's heart, for example...that's an obvious one.  But what about the cutie that she met at a bar three years back, went on a few dates and never really developed with?  Is that fair game?

If there are no longer any heavy emotions involved, I think it's A-Ok to let a friend go ahead with a person you were once associated with.  I guess there will always be disagreement with any subject when there's a fine line to walk.  People will often see things slightly differently, and this makes all the difference in a situation like this when people's feelings are on the line.  I myself wonder why people can be so possessive over their ex's, especially my women friends.  It makes me think that it is an issue related to insecurity?  An ego issue?   I still am not really sure, and I'd like to hear some opinions on this from all you lovely individuals out there.  In any case, I think the key is communication.  Talk to your friend; try to understand where they are coming from and why.  And, if you still feel like they are being unreasonable, this is when you have to consider whether or not this is a battle worth picking.  Letting it go will salvage the friendship, however, this could support an unreasonable and continuing selfish attitude with this person.  Each situation is different, and the key is going to be communication between you and your dear friend.

I've said this before and I'll say it again, the traditional rules of relationships are often outdated and irrational in these modern times.  Lets all open ourselves up a bit to relationship rules.  Like my friend Beth says, "Every couple has the right to make their own rules."

Happy Holidays
Obviously, the groom is untouchable.   
[Eel & Ermine pencil dress, Aldo pumps]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Baby Bullies

As I was clicking through the profile picture album of a Facebook friend of mine, baby picture after baby picture after baby picture, looking for an actual photo of the person themselves instead of their baby, I was reminded of my many encounters with what I like to call: baby bullies.  Babies babies babies....

I guess if someone is a rude person to begin with, that will always equate to what makes a rude parent as well.  Not every parent is or has to be a baby bully.

A baby bully is a person who uses their children and the fact that they are parents as an excuse/weapon against other non-children-wielding people.  Someone who takes the "family perks" a little too far.  It's frustrating enough that people with children get tax breaks, discounts, special parking zones, line cutting privileges among many other benefits in life, but do they really have to be obnoxious along with that as well?  I could really do without another runover toe or scratched heel from someone's stroller that they decided to slam into my backside in a hurry.  And the "baby on board" car signs - yea, please feel free to ram into my car otherwise, since there's no baby on board here!  In addition, maybe bringing your little one to a fancy dinner at a five-star restaurant isn't the best idea either...he or she will end up crying and ruining other people's ambiance that they're paying top dollar for at some point.  Am I being rude?  I apologize, but it's true to how I feel.  Maybe I'll become more empathetic after I have a child, but as for now, I'm speaking on behalf of all the single people out there who haven't decided to have kids and are tired of being treated like second class citizens!

Historically, I have had rough goings with baby bullies in the past, because it is something that really ignites me like no other, the fact that some people with children expect the rest of the world to bow down and lay a gold-plated brick path beneath their feet to support their decision to have babies.  Why should someone else's decision to breed negatively affect my existence?? I mean, I can empathize with crying babies or  uncontrollable tantrums and whatnot - I'm talking about more advanced levels of baby bullying.  The person who decides to park their stroller in the middle of a busy throughway in Peets while they obliviously chat on their cell phone, stirring sugar into their coffee as the kid is running wild.  I am in support of having a family and raising children. BUT, there has got to be a line, and parents should apply the same pre-baby rules and etiquette of society to post-baby life as well.

In an attempt to be diplomatic, I do think it's unfair to say that most people become this way after having their babies, because most people who are behaving rudely and obnoxiously were already pissing people off way before that kid came into existence in the first place.  I think it is important, however, to remember that after you have a child your manners, attitude and appearance shouldn't necessarily have to take a plunge either.  I recognize that it's hard being a parent and nerves can run shaky after a long, stressful day with the kiddies.  I guess I'm just trying to be a voice for the non-parents out there, to remind you to please, keep it courteous.  Theres no reason to take up an entire row of seating at the airport with your hoard of strollers, diaper bags, carriers, ect.  I can see how easy it is to get lost in kiddieland.  But remember...there's a real world out there too.


I had to throw the classic "Angry Baby" picture in 
[Angry Baby]

Monday, November 8, 2010

Paw Paw: Another Town Left to Rot

Right in the middle of my high school experience growing up in San Francisco, I was hastily uprooted from the state of California and transported to a small town in Southwest Michigan titled Paw Paw.  The time I spent in this town was the peak of my youth's turmoil in numerous ways.  The terms in which I had been sent to Michigan were rocky to begin with, and my mindset entering this new place was nervous, frustrated, confused, unsure and saddened all together.  I wanted to be with my friends, the people I left behind in San Francisco.  But, there was nothing that I could do about it at the time, and I knew that I had to buck up and prepare myself for the next two years of finishing high school living in this new, strange and geographically secluded place.  My first initial feeling moving to Paw Paw was that of isolation.  The town is located about thirty minutes outside of a larger town/city called Kalamazoo.  Yes, there is a town that exists called Kalamazoo.  Somehow I had found myself thirty minutes AWAY from a town that nobody where I came from had ever heard of.  I was an outsider in every way -  personality, appearance, experience, expectations, way of life.  I might as well had come from another country.

The point I'm trying to make is that I came into Paw Paw as an ignorant, untainted individual who had no idea of what the town was like, what the people were like, what the people did and what I had in store.  Boy, was I in for a surprise.  I had no idea that what lay ahead - the things I'd see.  They were unlike anything I'd ever seen before - I had come from an upper middle class family and lived in the heart of San Francisco my whole life- a true city girl.  I had no idea that I had just stepped into the middle of a full blown, out of control meth epidemic at the age of 16.  I want to forewarn anyone about to read this piece: what lays ahead might offend you.  And, please keep in mind that there are exceptions, not every single family or person I met was like what I am about to describe.  But, I'm not going to keep my silence on this generally ignored subject any more.

I hadn't ever met anyone who had used meth - let alone people who use meth, sell meth, MAKE meth.  I expected life in the middle of nowhere to be excruciatingly boring and uneventful, but what I got were visions and experiences that will haunt me forever.  I learned first hand that meth is the single most despicable, family-ruining, health-destroying, insanity-inducing, life-ending substance known to human kind.  I learned first hand that meth, in a matter of months, has the capability of turning an otherwise good person into a half-dead corpse that will stay awake for weeks - yes, weeks - at at time.  These were large numbers of teenagers - kids 16, 17 - that all of a sudden looked like ailing elders in their late stages of life with scabs all over their faces.  Meth: the new mind altering substance of choice that seemed to have replaced the original "gateway" drug (marijuana) and drinking alcohol. I learned for the first time what a staph infection is.  I learned that if you shoot/inject meth with a syringe into the wrong body parts, that pockets of staph-infected puss fill those parts of your body and develop infection until one can be seen by a doctor to have them lanced and treated with antibiotics.  I learned that a person's teeth are delicate bits of porcelain-like material, and will rot away after only a handful of months using this substance.  I learned that an alarmingly high number of my high school peers were using meth with their family.  Including their parents.  I learned that meth also commonly goes along with hoarding - and that pets are often the innocent souls that are left to die when their owners go on their latest meth binge.  I learned all of this from first-hand experience watching this drug eat away at the lives and souls of an entire community.  I feel lucky to have witnessed it the way that I did - as a newcomer with an unpolluted mind who had no experience with rural life or with meth.  This allowed me realize and watch what was going on with the upper hand and as a bystander: people who had been exposed to this slowly and steadily for so long that they became victim to the demon without even realizing it.  Slowly and slowly, it got closer to home and more of a common occurrence.  Before they knew it, their cousin was on meth.  Then, their sister.  Then, their best friend, then themselves.  Because I was so suddenly exposed, I was lucky enough to watch what was happening as an outsider and therefore realize the weight of the situation and just how unbelievably out of control things had become.  How had it gotten to this point?  How had this not been spotlighted in the media?  How had so many good families allowed their children to die?  To slowly kill themselves?  To allow themselves to become wrapped up in it with their children?  The questions were endless.  And, it seems I still don't have answers after all these years.  I do know that to this day, the problem is still as prevalent as it was throughout the two years I lived there from early 2002-late 2003.  People are still dying, still abusing, still being abused. 

I'm so thankful I never got into meth use throughout my time in Michigan, and I accredit that to the multitude of types of people, diversity and array of experiences I was exposed to at such a young age growing up in San Francisco.  My parents protected me, but they did not shelter me.  I had to learn lessons the hard way - and I definitely messed up a few times.  Before Michigan, I had been around under aged drinking, smoking marijuana, other various drug usage and slight violence that entailed drunken high school kids beating each other up at keg parties.  But, what I saw was mostly recreational - out at parties, on an occasional basis.  This was nowhere near a way of life - the way meth is used in southwest Michigan.  Violence involved with meth equals bodies being set aflame when meth labs explode and crazed individuals going on killing sprees.  This was a far cry from the things I'd seen in California.  The problem was so severe while I was there, that authorities actually sent in an undercover federal agent into our high school my senior year disguised as a female student who transferred in from another county to investigate the meth situation.  We came to learn this after her six month stint, when she successfully gained enough evidence against a group of kids in my class who were involved with meth distribution  to prosecute them.  This memory is one of the only bright spots against the war on meth I can recall throughout my time there.  Otherwise, the police spent most of their time busting kids for smoking pot and underaged drinking.

There is one idea that consumes my mind, even still after seven years since leaving southwest Michigan.  The idea that those were people who truly started out good, and had gone bad. People who had settled in such an isolated location in the first place as an effort to seclude their lives and their children from the potential of exposing their families to violence and drug use.  How ironic - the people that originally had good intentions of preserving the safety of their families have now become the epicenter of the worst kind of lifestyle imaginable.  I do know that I saw a lot of parents choose to remain ignorant to what their kids were doing, believing that their kids couldn't possibly be getting into too much trouble.  The fact of the matter is that it only takes a few weeks to go from a first time meth experimenter into a full blown addict.  Are the parents victims?  Or are they the perpetrators?  Who's fault is it?  How have so many lives been lost to this?  How did this happen?  I have spent countless hours pondering this, and I have never come up with an answer.  It is almost as if the meth epidemic is *too* crucial to have just happened on its own - this had to be intentional.  It has gotten so severe, the thought that it just sort of evolved this way on its own is mind blowing.  However, sadly that seems to be the case - this is a problem that slowly crept up on society, without anyone really taking notice or giving it enough thought, and while everyone had their backs turned, had suddenly exploded out of control.  

This isn't just an issue in rural southwest Michigan, this is also very prevalent in many rural areas in America.  I'm left with many questions: is city life now a safer bet than rural life?  Does rural life even have the capability of being as safe as it once was?  While city life provides more access to trouble and an array of trouble to get into, does it also provide more ways and opportunities to escape or avoid it altogether?  One of the main themes throughout my stay in Michigan was that of desperation.  Many people I met, feeling lost, hopeless and desperate.  Many people resentful that they've been stuck in a small town their entire lives with seemingly no way out.  I believe that this is a huge contributor to the reasoning behind why people open themselves up to meth in the first place - because it's a way to escape.  After my time there, it is my opinion that many people feel threatened by the idea of leaving the one place they've known their whole lives to venture out on their own - were they really strong enough to survive in the outside world?  So living in a small town has now become a burden instead of a privilege, and has left people ill-prepared for life outside this tiny bubble.  So, they take a vacation.  A vacation with a piece of foil and a lighter.  This was the outlet without actually having to leave. Meanwhile, the parents with good intentions of protecting their children maybe have protected them a little too much.  Maybe protection has become sheltering - and has left these individuals with many less opportunities than if they were to have grown up in a more urban area.  It's a new phenomenon - small town rural American life actually being more of a threat than city life, and parents are incredibly ill-prepared and unaware of this.  It's time that parents wake up and deal with the weight of this issue - your children are completely vulnerable to this.  

Without meth I believe small towns would be much safer than cities, but we need to face reality - meth is now an everyday staple in rural life, and as long as it's around, your children are not free of harm.  I think a great amount of parents do have good intentions and in an ideal world would like to keep their children away from bad influences, myself included, but if I had a choice to raise my child in either an inner city or a rural town, I would hands down, instantly choose the inner city.  Rural area parents need to be just as - if not more- cautious, aware and hip to the fact that their kids might as well be living in the middle of a crack-infested inner city ghetto.  From my experiences there, its was evident to me that many parents were simply cavalier and overly confident about what their kids are up to - whereas if they were living in that metaphorical ghetto - they would parent in a completely different way.  And this is when it goes back to the population being snuck up on- many people did not see this coming.  It has blindsided the entire community, and parents are left defenseless after their children become completely enchanted with the drug and it's too late.   I'm not sure what action to take against this evil phenomenon, but I know that it's still raping and ravaging Paw Paw.  In the last two months alone, I've heard of two people I used to know when I lived there who have died as a result of being involved with meth.  It's time this silent epidemic is realized.

There is one thing I'd like to say to anyone who feels desperate living in a small town: the only thing stopping you from your success and your growth is yourself.  I felt like a lot of the people I knew in Michigan wanted to leave, but were too scared, felt hopeless and like prisoners. You may feel like it's impossible to escape your situation, but if you have the aspiration to leave make the risk and do it.  It will be hard at first, but it will be incredibly worthwhile.  With honest motivation and determination there is no way you will fail, and you will only improve your life.  You don't have to live the existence that you feel like you are trapped in.  You owe it to yourself and to your future to provide yourself with better opportunities and a better way of life.  You're not alone.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Haute Holidays

 ['09 Holiday decor at Miette Patisserie]

I don't keep it a secret that the Holidays are my favorite time of the year.  These days, I feel it is more common to hear from people that they dread the holiday season and cannot wait until it's over, so much so that I even find it cliche..."oh, of course the holidays are such a drag for you, poor thing." The holiday's are coming, so why not at least attempt to enjoy the season a little bit?  I think anyone who says they truly don't like any aspect of the holidays should try to at least appreciate the family and friends aspect of this time of year.  For me, there are SO many benefits: dressing in cozy warm clothes, fireplaces, the skiing season, nice dinners, holiday-inspired drinks...the buzzing holiday feel all over the city with lights and decorations, all the shopping and gift giving, the decorating, the food...I love it. 

1.  Decorating your household for Christmas seems like a pain in the butt, but I think it makes coming home so much more rewarding.  At the very least, do a "winter cleaning", and rearrange/organize your house in preparation for guests, or just to make it a little nicer for yourself.  I'm due for a good cleaning at home, and right after that is when I'll be busting out the decorations to make my home a little homier.  Maybe it'll even inspire you to host a little holiday shindig too!

2.  When decorating, I think it's key to stick to a theme.  You want to stay away from the mish mash of every type of holiday decoration out there all thrown together - tacky.  It will end up annoying you and discouraging you from decorating again in the future.  I like to choose one household color theme for each year - last year my tree was silver and blue.  This year, I may stick with red and white, or maybe gold and green.  Also, I always go with white Christmas lights only.  I think it looks much more neat, tasteful and aesthetic to the eye.  However, if you have kids, it can be fun to play with colored lights, but keep the other holiday decor tamed down to balance it out.  In my opinion, if you are going to make the effort to get a tree and decorate it, stick with only a real tree.  I have yet to see a fake tree that doesn't look really fake.  Another tip: consider going for a tabletop 3-foot tree.  It is just as festive as a human-sized tree with much less of a pain in the ass.  My favorite type of tree is Douglas Fir - it sheds the least and looks the best, but it doesn't pack as much of a smell as some other varieties unfortunately.  And lastly, the earliest to put up a Christmas tree is the day after Thanksgiving, and the last day until it needs to be thrown out is within one week after New Years Eve.  (I wish I could give some tips on Jewish decorating traditions..I'll have to consult with one of my Jewish friends for advice.)

3.  Start thinking about your gift giving now.  There's nothing that discourages me more from buying gifts for people than being rushed and indecisive at the last minute.  I'm already slowly looking around and taking note of what to get my friends and family this year.  Once you get the gift giving bug, it begins to run on its own momentum and excitement.  There's no feeling comparable to doing something nice for someone or giving them a well thought out gift.

4.  Holiday fashion can be really fun to play with.  My favorite winter wardrobe picks include: velvet, jewel tones, lace, fur (faux or real depending on your preference), black and brown together during the daytime, scarves (of course), and last but not least, winter white.  The old saying that you shouldn't wear white after labor day is baloney and completely outdated.  White is one of the freshest, chic-est colors you can wear no matter your size.  When done right, white won't add pounds, and it will leave you fresh faced and glowing.  Also, if done right, you can still wear your open toed heels if you wear them with tights (not nude).  My favorite go-to for the holiday season are black tights in every variety, and I like pairing them with everything from dresses, to shorts, to skirts.

5.  Don't forget to tip well around the holiday season.  Keep in mind that service industry workers commonly do not have holidays off like most of society, and are usually working on those days.  Show your appreciation by expressing kindness, gratitude and a nice tip is always a perk as well.

6.  To prepare for holiday traveling, read my Tips on Traveling in Style blog to ensure your easygoing yet fabulous flying experience.  Also, organization is key: locate that passport and travel documentation now and put it in a safe spot.

7.  If you're thinking of throwing a holiday party, start planning now.  Also, I highly recommend making it a pot luck unless you're prepared to pay at least $500 for food and bev alone.  I've thrown one for the past 4 years, and while it can be a little stressful to plan, it has always been worth it.  I'd recommend having one if your house is large enough to hold 30-50 people.  And when attending holiday parties, always RSVP to the event, ask permission to bring guests, show up generally on time, bring a small gift for the host, consider bringing your camera and taking pictures (since the host is usually too busy to do it themselves) and it's always nice to offer to help with anything while you're there.

8.  It can be easy to pack on weight over the holidays.  Save the splurging for holiday parties or on the actual holidays themselves, not all season when you're constantly surrounded by goodies on a daily basis.  Also, I've heard of people who go sober for the month of January to de-tox from all the boozing.  I've always wanted to do this, and I think it can be a great way to drop some added lbs from the November and December months.

9.  Stay away from wearing any kind of bells or flashing light jewelry.

It's officially the holidays, so even if you're a "holiday hater", try and embrace the season.  It will make it easier on you and everyone else.  You'll be surprise how fun it can be!  Cheers!


Tis the season for champs!
[Free people bandeau, Rare Opulence ballgown skirt]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ask Viva

Can you define the line between saying something funny and being offensive?  

This is often an issue when the two people communicating here are of different genders.  Men and women think very differently, and it is common for one person to become upset over something said, when the other person simply didn't meant it in an offensive way.  I think the two keys here are: be empathetic, and when in doubt, withhold. When speaking with the potential victim of the offensive comment, think about what kind of a person he/she is, and what they've been through in their lives.  Considering this will give you an edge and some needed know-how throughout the conversation. If they grew up in the Midwest, a "fly-over states" joke isn't going to go that well. If you find yourself unfamiliar with what this person has been through and their history, chances are you just don't know them well enough to be making risky and inappropriate jokes.

In addition, when dealing specifically with women, I'd advise to always be a little more sensitive than you would be usually until you get a good grasp of who she is.  Most women are very sensitive, especially with men, and will take offense.  If there is any kind of romantic connection, have the foresight to realize the repercussion of how your comment is going to come across.  I will say that from my own personal experience, whenever I become offended by something, after the dust has settled I usually look back in retrospect and feel that I was being overly sensitive.  Being empathetic indeed goes both ways - for the person feeling offended as well.  If you find yourself getting defensive or feeling hurt, stop for a minute and think of where the other person may be coming from, what they are like, their sense of humor.  Often times, we are being oversensitive for no good reason.  There are times where people are just plain rude and need to be put in check too, though.  However, I think it's safe to say that if we were all a little more empathetic about where each other is coming from, it would be beneficial for everyone involved.  Most of the time, people are being thoughtless, rather than malicious, and I believe it's important to remember that.

So you've offended someone.  Now what?  It's going to happen; it's impossible to live a conflict-free existence.  Theres hope: in almost all circumstances, having the right attitude after the offending comment has the power to successfully smooth things over and put you back in the happy zone.  There are always things that can be said and done to make people feel better.  It happens often in the media - a celebrity says something offensive that is taken the wrong way, they vehemently apologize, and people calm down and forgive.  However, when not handled the right way, the effects can be lasting- take Chris Brown for example.  He didn't issue a public apology - let alone even address the incident - until well after, and in my opinion the backlash was worse than it had to be.  A good example of a blunder that was well made up for was Dog the Bounty Hunter and the "N word" scandal.  That was taken out of context, and while everyone freaked out at first, after he immediately publicly apologized, the incident quickly died down and his show was signed for another season.  Apologizing after the offending comment, and in a genuine way (because people will only become more angry if it is sarcastic or not genuine) will usually bring it down from a 10 to a 6.  

To sum it up: use your head beforehand.  Be empathetic, and if you mess up, be genuine about your apology and learn from your mistake.  You'd be surprised how even the worst gaffes can be recovered from.

Now good luck, a-hole!  (Just kidding!) ;-)


Sending flowers never hurts, either :-)
[Gaslamp district, San Diego, CA]

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tips on Traveling Style

This bag was actually a pain to travel with. Go for a more malleable bag with a shoulder strap for comfort and ease.
[Tara Subkoff for Bebe blouse, Louis Vuitton handbag, American Apparel tights, Aldo wedge heels]

I've read a bunch of articles on traveling in style and I'm sure you all have too, so I'll keep this one an easy read.  Traveling in style requires walking a fine line between comfortable and fashionable.  Here are some tips to ensure your easygoing, head-turning traveling experience.

-Always wear makeup, even if you have an early flight.  Just because you might not run into anyone you know on your traveling excursion doesn't mean that is reason enough to slack off on your appearance.  You never know who you are going to run into or meet randomly, and you want to put your best face forward when you are going to be exposed to hundreds of travelers.

-Never wear sunglasses going through security or customs. It makes you an instant red-flag, and you will get searched every time.

-Wear shoes that are either a.) easy to slip off or b.) cover your feet and require you to wear socks.  You should choose which one is more important to you: going through the security checkpoint with ease (slipping your shoes off easily and quickly - i.e. flip flops) or protecting your feet from the dirty and disgusting carpeting that thousands of other people walk on every month - i.e. boots.  I personally am not completely grossed out by taking my shoes off and walking for a couple of feet, so I tend to go for the easy-off wedge heel for speed (glamorous me still prefers a comfortable 4-inch wedge, lol).  However, there is something to be said for wearing shoes that cover your entire foot on the plane, because I tend to get very cold on board.  I waver between the two depending on my mood.  Men- covered shoe with socks only please.  And I'd say no Uggs.  Save those for running errands on a rainy day.

-Again with my favorite: bring and wear a scarf!!  A scarf will be very helpful because you can take it on or off depending on which of many microclimates you have encountered (and you will), and you can also use it as a blanket on board so you don't have to use that nasty old felt thing provided by the airline.

-Don't forget to spritz on your perfume/ will provide a nice little fresh microhaven amongst the heards of smelly people you will encounter, and a pleasant surprise for your seat-mate on board.  It's the little things.

-Wear comfortable bottoms.  You are going to be cramped into that little seat for who knows how long; you want to be wearing pants, jeans or leggings that are going to give you adequate coverage from the seats of a million butts, but something that's not going to cut into you uncomfortably the entire flight either. My favorite are my lululemon wunder under leggings.  They are stretchy, warm and make my butt look fab.  However, the main goal is to keep your legs and butt covered up and not exposed to random disgusting public surfaces.

-Always bring a jacket.  You can always take it off if you're hot, but it's better to be prepared.

-Be generous with drinking a ton of water.  It combats the dry, pasty complexion you get as a result of persisting in that dry, recycled air.  I get goosebumps just imagining it. (shudder)   Also, be generous with the facial lotion that night after the flight, and a nice steam doesn't hurt either to set things straight.

-Consider not checking any bags, and if you absolutely must only check one piece of luggage.  Checking a bag forces you to a.) get to the airport at least an hour and a half before your flight b.) stand in line at the counter to give your bag over to them and c.) retrieve your bag from baggage claim after the flight.  This process adds about an additional 2 hours to your traveling agenda.  Only check if you really need to, and other than your main piece of luggage, keep it limited to one on-board personal item (including shopping bags of knick knacks, magazines, candy ect that you purchase at the airport - it should all fit your two bags...believe me it will make your life easier).  Also, keep in mind that each bag costs about $25 nowadays, unless you're flying Southwest.

- Check in at home.  This way, you can arrive at the airport an hour before your flight and whisk right through security on your own, without ever having to deal with that s l o w airline counter (seeing that you're referring to the previous post above).  Also, I always store the flight conformation number as an event in my smartphone's calendar so that I have easy access to all my reservation information, both going and returning, preventing me from searching my archived messages for the original flight conformation email.

-Last but not least: traveling in your pajamas with a pillow in-tow is the number one traveling crime that a woman can commit.  Never ever, matter your age.  Terrible on multiple levels.

Happy travels!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Online Shopping Bible


Ladies and gentlemen! Don't fear the world of online shopping.  It can be used as a powerful tool in your attempts to achieve the most rockin' wardrobe.  I feel like a lot of people avoid online shopping thinking that they won't ever be able to find anything that fits them, but if you follow my advice below, I guarantee you it will improve your online shopping experience and end in success.  I get a large percentage of my pieces online, as I browse online at various things I'd like to purchase (or dream about purchasing) daily. Sadly, it's become a part of my everyday routine (lol).  Wake up, shower, dress, coffee, check email and Facebook, online shop/browse.

I have some useful tips for those who view online shopping as daunting, because you are missing out on what these websites have to offer especially if you live in San Francisco because unfortunately, we all know that SF's in-person shopping selection is not what we'd describe as a fashion-savvy person's dream.  Online shopping is an SF girl's (or guy's) way of getting what is only available in Europe, New York, Vegas or L.A.

Be familiar with your measurements. Every brand runs their sizing differently.  A size 2 in some brands is equivalent to a medium-large in others, and an xs can be considered equivalent to a size 6 as well.  So, being familiar with your sizing really helps, as most online shopping websites have information on whether that particular brand runs small, large or true to size.  Also, many sites offer "customer reviews", and I find these to be very helpful in determining the fit and quality of the product in real-life.  I usually read a bunch, and then take what is repeatedly being said in numerous reviews as accurate.  It also helps to be familiar with a particular brand themselves.  For example, if you happen run across a brand you know you like in person, try a few of their items on just for sizing (even if you aren't interested in buying them).  That way, you'll be familiar with how their clothes, shoes ect. fit you when you are deciding whether to pull the trigger on a piece you've found online.

Be selective about who you order from.  There are so many options when it comes to online shopping nowadays that there is no reason to settle for a website that charges a ton of money for shipping, seems a bit shady or has a bad return policy.  If you find a piece that you like on a particular website, google search the exact item name of that product.  That way, you can find out if it is being sold on any other websites for cheaper or with a better return policy.  This has happened to me a few times, and I've actually saved money doing this as well.  Another good reason to shop around between websites is that you get a chance to view the item photographed in a variety of different settings/lightings.  This is helpful because often an item ends up being a different color than what was portrayed in the picture, and you can view it on different models as well which will give you a better idea of the true fit.  A great website for this specific purpose is - they will actually find all the different websites a product is offered on and will list the item pictures with prices as well (in a well-layed out, comprehensive arrangement).  They are also helpful because they will provide a variety of products if you only have an idea of what you're looking for, for example "purple miniskirt" - and will scour the internet's most popular sites for a list of items that match that description.  Lastly, it is often convenient to order things from websites that have stores in your area, that way you can return it in person without having to deal with shipping.

Here is a list of a few of my favorite go-to shopping websites. - Amazing customer service which includes free shipping both ways and a very flexible return policy, and a large selection of items as well.

Forever - I can return anything that doesn't work out to their store and receive store credit, as I know I will be purchasing from them again, so for me it is basically the same as cash.  Also, there are items on the website that are not available in-store. - They have an amazing (probably the largest I've seen) selection of fine couture as well as young independent designers, and their shipping policy has improved as of late and is now free within the United States.  Also, they do not charge tax. & - Two more similar-to-shopbop-type websites with large selections of items that you can't find in person. (Mens clothing as well) - Lots of hard to find cosmetics (such as my worth-its-weight-in-gold Stila Hair Refresher), and they offer free shipping as well. - I highly recommended searching for ANY home product you are looking for before going to Bed Bath and Beyond or any other home store, as they have a great selection of reduced priced items, and their shipping is fast and only costs $2.95. - Phenomenal selection of clothing, bags and accessories. - Great selection of reasonably priced well-designed clothing and accessories that you won't find in the US. They are based out of the UK, so their packages can take a bit longer to get to you, but that is made up for in their stellar stock and selection. (Mens clothing as well)

All the big store name websites - Nordstrom, Neimans, Saks, Barneys

Happy hunting!  And also, one last tip for those who online shop frequently: you might want to think about getting a mailbox at a ups store type of place.  Packages often come when I'm not home, or can be left at my doorstep even if I haven't signed for them, so this can be very useful if you are an avid online shopper.  Mailboxes usually cost about $200 a year.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ask Viva

Lately I've been asked a few questions by some of my readers (so flattered and surprised anyone actually cares to ask lol!).  I thought I'd shed some light on these little tidbits.

What do you consider to be a substantial fashion don't?

I guess I'd have to say that what I consider to be the biggest fashion don't in my book would be dressing in a way that doesn't reflect your personal style and personality.  Usually, with that will bring a whole slew of fashion don'ts along with it.  I remember I just had to have this one gorgeous deep purple Jill Stuart handbag that I fell in love with on a couple years back.  It looked so gorgeous in the photo, and that thing cost a fortune.  And its lovely, sadly sits in my closet, unused season after season.  It just does not fit my personal style, and buying it was a mistake.  Hopefully I'll put it to use later in life...but it definitely fits into this category.

You can be rocking the most fashion-forward, luxury couture pieces, but if they do not fit you well, it is going to come through in your look and will appear awkward.  It's the whole becoming enchanted with certain pieces in the store thing that I mentioned in one of my blogs before.  You can drop a load of cash on an amazing piece, but when you bring it home and it doesn't compliment anything else in your wardrobe, I'm sorry to say that it's just not for you.  I know you don't want to, but if you can't envision at least 5 different outfits you'd pair it with, you should take it back.  So, to summarize...just be true to yourself.  

How would you describe your personal style?

I have a wide variety of looks I like to achieve on different occasions.  I should actually probably scale it down more, to be honest...and stick to one arena of style.  There are days that I like to go for the rustic city chic look, with leathers, feathers and scarves...but I am also a big glamour girl as well.  I usually am wearing a lot of eye makeup that gives a dramatic effect with whatever I wear, I guess my personal style would best be described as glamorous. Any look I put together is going to have at least one element of intensity or surprise in there. For example, I like to spice up an otherwise toned-down look with big glamorous sunnies or my foxtail that I connect to my purse.  It brings an edge.

What are your favorite trends for this season?

I'm digging the lace trend.  I was just gifted some amazing Nicholas Kirkwood black leather and lace booties that I adore.  I like how when worn right, lace adds just the right amount of luxury to an outfit, but can be dressed up glamorously or dressed down for daytime too.  If you're going to wear it in the daytime, make sure your lace is limited to only accentuating parts of your look and not having it be the centerpiece.  Also, as with every winter, I am loving jewel tones again.  Especially when paired with velvet and satin.  I just wore a lovely amethyst colored satin dress to one of my best friend's weddings, and the deep purple color and shiny satin finish came out beautifully in the pictures. Perfect for the holidays.  I'm envisioning a deep sea blue satin dress with black lace boudoir accents for this winter...a great combination of some of the ongoing trends.   I will find one!

What do you consider to be splurge worthy?  Not worth a splurge?

Anything you would consider a staple for you is spurge worthy.  A staple piece is one that you will use/wear regularly.  Something that will inspire you to design outfits around. 

Also, an amazing dress is splurgeworthy, but only every once and a while.  The thing about dresses is, you're only going to wear the dress 3, maybe 5 times - top.  Most of them only once or twice.  So, it's hard to spend upwards of $300 on a one-time deal.  I think its ok for a special occasion every once and a while, however.

I think a good rule of thumb for splurgeworthy items is: if it's made impeccably, and you feel that it fits and represents what you want your style to be, then go for it.

What I personally don't think is splurgeworthy is ANOTHER  lbd or pair of black heels.  BO-ring.  Yea, we all need them...but these are items that can be achieved for much less than a ton of cash.  Some (probably most) people would feel the exact opposite, but I feel like a girl should spurge on unique, remarkable items that are going to stand out, not what we've been told by our mothers and grandmothers to covet.  I'm not really even a fan of the lbd.  It has to be pretty phenomenal to make a lasting impression, and most of them aren't.  For me, at least.

Oh and lastly, another spurgeworthy item: a trip.  If you are presented with the opportunity to take a spontaneous trip somewhere, usually I say go for it.  My life has been dramatically changed (in a good way) by a few spur of the moment trips that I spontaneously decided to take, and they both propelled my life in great directions.  It's most likely not going to be something that you will regret, so go ahead and spurge on that luxurious hotel room and spa treatment.  The memories will be there to covet.

Who decides when a fashion risk 'works' and when it doesn't? Also, can you define a "fashion risk?"

Well, I guess my first instinctual answer to this would be: the top and most respected designers should be deciding when a fashion risk works. BUT, I have seen on many an occasion high end couture pieces designed by these same top designers being a disaster when actually worn off the runway and in a real-life setting.  I'd say its on a case by case basis.  Additionally, if 2 out of 3 of your most fashion-savvy friends say DON'T, then I'm gonna shake my finger disapprovingly of it most of the time, because they know you best.  

For defining "fashion risk", I'd say that it's an act one takes in fashion that most will say no to when only presented with the idea.  Most will still disagree with it even after they see it.  It's usually the "fashion risks" that appall me at first, and they then have this sneaky tendency to begin to grow on me, and before you know it, its a have-to-have look.  I think we should all be a bit more open minded when it comes to fashion, and take into consideration the context and personality behind he/she who is wearing the fashion risk and the nature of the event (time, place, ect) that they wore it to. Often times, those "fashion police" articles in the back pages of the tabloid magazines peg celebrities in these seemingly horrific outfits that were worn, however I've come to find that often, they are completely appropriate for the occasion or event the person was attending.  For example, one time I remember they showed a celebrity wearing a "ridiculous" french maid outfit, only to find out that it was a french-themed event and was actually very stylish for that specific party.  So, I'd say that timing, placing and appropriateness decides when fashion risks work, and not just people themselves.  It's a collaborative effort.

Feel free to send me any questions you'd like to ask Viva. 


This was a fashion risk...I think it worked. :-)
[Rare Opulence ballgown skirt, BCBG clutch, Free People bandeau]

Monday, October 11, 2010

Our Secret Weapon

One of our best weapons to our avail is our scent.  And men, I'm talking to you too.

It can be easy to get into the habit of not putting perfume on regularly, because hey, it's not like we need it and you forget the effects it has after you put it on when you get used to the scent and stop smelling it, so it doesn't seem that out of place to just not put it on in the first place.  BUT, I'd like you to stop and think about when someone else smells good.  It's always such a pleasurable experience, right?  I love it when a woman or man walks by and smells's so refreshing and lets be honest: a turn on.  It draws you to them.

This, my dears, is why I suggest you put on cologne or perfume every single day.  Unless you're's always better to have some on than not.

Traditionally, women were pretty faithful to one particular scent.  However nowadays, more women are buying numerous scents and wearing them to suit their every and any mood.  I personally have a collection of about 6 different scents, and I enjoy choosing from a variety to compliment my outfit, location or emotion.  However, if you find a perfume that does really well for you, its A-ok to stick to just that one.  Also, I always carry my perfume on me, so I can apply it numerous times throughout the day (if your purse is small get an atomizer).  Applying it once in the morning doesn't cut it. Keep in mind though, your perfume should never upstage you.

For the ladies: I really like to display my fragrances somewhere in my house in a location where they can be grouped together and where they look beautiful.  It will really inspire you to put them on and feel wonderfully feminine.  It's nice to get a mirrored tray that you can place them on as well...I have mine on my bathroom windowsill and on my vanity grouped together.

Men's cologne is a little bit tougher.  I feel that the majority of mens' cologne all smells the sameish. Pretty musky, masculine and typically Axe-like "mens cologne" type smell.  I prefer more off-beat scents on a man.  Alfred Dunhill Desire is a good example of a cologne for men that smells very different from what you would expect.  Also, the Tom Ford line is great for both women and men.  I am increasingly beginning to enjoy darker and more unisex scents on women, and sweeter, more spicy scents that may be a bit more feminine on men.  I like that it's unexpected.  However, you do not want to overdo it by going too far in either direction...not too cologne-y for women and not too sweet for men.

Some of my favorite scents include Lolita Lempicka (which I wore a lot in high school), Kai, Angel, YSL Paris, Miss Dior Cherie, a few of the Bonds, Marc Jacobs (gardenia), Jean Paul Gaultier (spice) and Calvin Klein's new scent Beauty.  I tend to gravitate towards more feminine/floral scents.  I am keeping the scents I currently wear under wraps, however. (Hee hee hee). For men, I really love Marc Jacobs, various Le Labo scents, various Tom Ford scents, Curve and John Varvatos as well.  There are SO many can find a bunch that smell wonderful.

One last thing...I think it's safe to say that any of the body sprays from Victoria's Secret or Bath and Body works are a no.  Hey I liked them too growing up, but it's time to leave them in our days of underaged drinking and afterschool activities.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Forget the Shades of Grey

There's a saying out there that I can't agree with more: It's either black or white - I don't do shades of grey.  If you're going to dance around a line, be a man and cross it already.  It's one of my biggest pet peeves in people- dealing with flakey people "pussyfooting around" as my dad would say.

Dishonesty will not pay off in the long run.  Be true to yourself and stand behind the decisions you make - and don't hide when life blows up in your face after a bad decision, that's how we live and learn.  

Being a honest person does not mean you will have a boring life, in fact it becomes much more interesting that way.  If you're bold and brave enough to stand behind your riskiest or most controversial decisions or opinions, it will be worth the criticism you may receive as a result.  In addition, this will put you on the fast track to learning from life's lessons.  You are kidding yourself by dancing in the grey zones, and lying and hiding will only stunt your success.  Being real has the best rewards.

xo, Viva

(Getting ready to fend off the flak with my brass knuckles,  ;-) jk)
Alexander McQueen brass knuckles

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Living Well

 (Working on getting my second pair of workout shoes)
 Nike shoes, Longchamp tote, Forever 21 tank

What we eat influences our lives more than one might suspect.  We are currently in a food crisis in this country, with the lack of authentically healthy, cheap food readily available to the public and generally how misinformed American citizens are on what is considered healthy.  Anyone who hasn't already seen the movie Food Inc. should definitely watch it.  It will provide you with a better understanding of what you should and shouldn't be eating and how to accomplish that.  If you're living in the Midwest, let me tell you from experience, you definitely have your work cut out for you in terms of finding healthy, organic food.  But, it is extremely valuable and I urge you to make it a priority in your life. 

It's not such a crazy thought: if you eat crappy your whole life, you will look and feel crappy.  If you eat and treat yourself well, that will show in your mood, your appearance, your weight and your overall being.  It really is true, we are what we eat.  If our bodies aren't getting enough nutrition, it's only a matter of time before your body will deteriorate.  Not cute.

Make sure you are eating plenty of vegetables, fruit, raw food, healthy fats and proteins and take a food-based multivitamin.  It's mind blowing how many people regard this as "hodgepodge".  It's your one and only body and you get one chance - and when it fails on you, you will regret all those years you neglected it.  Give yourself the nutrition and respect you deserve.  Exercise regularly and don't ignore what your body is telling you.  Drink at least 70oz of water a day to ensure that your body is getting the right nutrients delivered to all your many parts. As a general rule, everything in moderation and balance is key.  You can still eat the bad things, just a minimal amount. (I'm a total sugar junkie)  Eat a variety of foods, and participate in a variety of different activities to keep your body moving.  My body has been giving out on me recently in a few different ways, and the steps I've made towards taking better care of it have really shown and been effective. I read some amazing advice the other day from my holistic chiropractor: "More water, less sugar. The end." 

Even if you can't accomplish everything that goes into a healthy lifestyle, try your best to do as much as possible.  I've still got a long way to go before I've got the perfect diet and exercise routine, but every little thing helps and will encourage you to do more. There is no secret to looking and feeling good.  Eat healthy, work out. The end.

xo, Viva