Best Time-Saving Apps

Thursday, April 19, 2018

 I was a bit of a technical luddite at first, but I've seen the bright ways of the technology sitting in the palm of my hand vis-a-vis my i-phone. In a world where many of us are desperately trying to carve out time for our art/hobbies/passions/side gigs, time is always in short supply. I consider it my most valuable, nonrenewable resource and since we got a puppy, I've been exploring apps that could buy me back a little more of it. Adulting is hard, but certain things are becoming easier. Here are some app things that are helping me tick away the moments that make up a dull day:


Sun Basket

You've seen the Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, etc. meal kit delivery services for years (I have). I've honestly been checking (for years) for one that would do gluten free meals, and none would until recently. Sunbasket! They have all sorts of diet plans for those that eat Vegan, Paleo, straight up vegetarian, Mediterranean, Dairy Free, Soy Free etc. The produce is organic and domestically sourced when able. The meats, you can opt up for organic/grass-fed/free range for each meal (I never utilized the opt up, but I liked having that option.) I can't tell you enough how much I enjoyed groceries magically showing up at my door and having every ingredient necessary to make a delicious meal from a recipe. It was luxurious. I hate to be dramatic, but I'd also call it life changing.

But lemme back up a little.You should know how much I loathe the grocery store. I loathe it. The second I walk through the automatic doors I feel murderous. It is the biggest time sink for me because of other stupid inconsiderate, poke-ass slow, aisle hoggin' shoppers,  and our local markets constantly change up the aisles so I get lost and flustered, can't find ingredients-which takes more time away from me, which makes me even more frustrated and stabby. The entire time I'm in Giant Eagle or Costco, there's a hammer smacking me in the head and screaming, AAAAUUUUUUGGGGGGHHHH YOU HAVE SO MANY OTHER THINGS YOU SHOULD BE DOING RIGHT NOW, WHY IS THIS TAKING SOOOO LOOOOOONGGGG. Every week I want to leave the store wailing like a banshee and ditch my grocery cart full of perishables in the toliet paper aisle, all because the gluten free bread got moved, yet again. For years I used to walk into grocery stores and just buy whatever fresh stuff looked good to me and leave. It was easy and it quickly got me out of the place I most hate to be. I would get home, Josh would ask me what I got and I'd shrug. Josh and I had fun iron cheffing our way through whatever the hell I tipped into my cart, but at the end of many years of doing this, we didn't really have a good anthology of recipes that we could fall back on. I had a rough fall, and summoning inspiration for what to make for dinner just added to my stress.  I needed to make food without much thought.

Enter Sun Basket. We ordered three dinners for two people once a week. Including the shipping, it was $78, which is less than we typically spend when we go out one time. We got three meals a week for about 3-4 months. I have to tell you it wasn't just that food showed up at my door,  and there was less of me at the grocery store...I actually learned so much about combining flavors and cooking techniques. And soon I had a stack of recipes under my belt that I wanted to make again and again. Sunbasket really helped me to find my love for cooking again and I am excited to share that I have a special introductory rate for you! If you follow my highlighted link or go to ( sunbasket.com/invite/Meryl977954 ) you'll get $40 off your first order of three meals, with no commitment! Three organic meals for two people for $38? You can't even get one meal for that price at a restaurant. You can try the service, choose a menu, and then cancel after your first shipment if you want. While we haven't gotten any meals in a couple months, I keep my eyes on each week's new menu for things I'd like to try. Sunbasket runs specials too, where you can get discounted meals every so often, and I know that is when I'll dip back in for a week. Sunbasket has a super handy app that I actually love to scroll through and I refer to it quite often when I duplicate their recipes. A few of our favorite recipes include: Gluten Free Mushroom Stroganoff with Spinach and Peas, Chicken Piccata with Apple Brassica SaladRed Lentil and Leek Gluten Free Pot Pie, and a Quinoa Bowl with Kale, Mushrooms, and Herb-Crusted Goat Cheese Medallions.


Plate Joy

While I would love for food to show up at my door step via Sunbasket indefinitely, the cost of weekly meal kits do add up, especially for my technically part-time salary. Enter Plate Joy. This app takes your dietary needs (gluten free for me), time you'd like to spend cooking (not much for breakfast or lunch), and comes up with weekly healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Once your menus are ok'ed by you, it asks what you already have in your "pantry," then it makes an organized shopping list. After that, I go to the grocery store and buy from the list (my least favorite part) and then I have everything we need for the home-cooked meals Josh and I will eat that week. I'm trying this app out for 6 months. The cost for 6 month's of Plate Joy is $69. (a year is $99 which further cuts costs).

So far, I love not having to think about meal planning and typing out shopping lists for myself. Plus, having a grocery list that is organized by the store departments is also a time saver. I also enjoy the less than 10 minute breakfasts and lunches. I don't mind spending up to an hour on dinner, but I don't have much time for lunch and breakfast. While the recipes aren't as "foodie" and adventurous as Sunbasket, they are still solidly tasty and healthy and I learned about gluten free microwaveable chocolate chip banana bread mug muffins (life-changing.) They also allowed a new feature where you can add your own favorite recipes (from outside the app). I haven't done this yet, but I certainly have a few sunbasket ones I'd like to add. Did I mention how much I don't want to think and worry about food until it's time to eat it? This app is the best for that. Too bad it can't do the grocery shopping for me - but fear not, grocery delivery is the next time-saving thing I'm going to look into because I work 6.5 hours a day and I have a book in need of big picture, character arc and prose edits. Time Time Time.

 

Sweat

Another thing I'd prefer not to have to think about. Exercise. Are you sensing a pattern here? That I don't want to think? It's not that I don't, it's just that I don't view the world in black and white terms, so literally everything becomes worthy of serious consideration and contemplation, even when it's not. There are certain things that are just better off when they're done and over with, like exercise. When you think too much about something, that probably means you aren't doing it...at least that is the way I operate. Anyway, my sleep got disrupted by the new puppy last spring, I fell off the exercise bandwagon and my pants stopped fitting. You can read about that here. The Kayla Itsines sweat app helped me construct a week of low intensity cardio sessions (3x, 35 minutes a go) and strength training sessions (3x, 28 minutes a go). Before I got halfway through the program, my pants fit again. When I finished the 12 week program I had some seriously nice toned muscles going on, especially in the mid-section. The sweat app is challenging and I love the way it motivates me to get the job done. It was worth the $19.99/month (if you pay the yearly cost upfront, it's even cheaper) -which costs less than 30 minutes with a personal trainer; the mental and physcial results are worth it.

Unfortunately I'm currently on a fertility drug regimen, and the side effects are low energy, mood swings, hot flashes, flatulence (sexy!), and headaches. I'm tired and headache-y all the time and I don't even have the energy to care that I can't work out right now. I just sort of go about my days like a farty slug with a migraine, so I suspended my subscription to Sweat, but you can be sure that I will resume Sweat when I start feeling better. I'll probably need to soon, as after a month and a half of very, very intermittent exercise, my pants are getting tight again! UGH THE STRUGGLE IS SO VERY REAL.

 

Glow

How many times have you gone to your OB GYN...or any doctor really, and they've asked you, "when was your last period?" Come on. Like I wanna remember that anniversary. Like I even have a special portion of my brain reserved for that. Like I have my stuff together enough. None of these things. I can inside joke about Family Guy and Archer all day long, be haunted by a SS05 Chloe seersucker suit, but remember the date of my last period? No. Thank God there's an app for that. This was the first app I got when I got a smart phone in 2011, and I always pull it up at the doctor's. Glow also tracks symptoms in case you are trying to self diagnose stuff and/or need help learning approximately what days to avoid/gun for sex depending on your babymakin' goals. So yeah, it's an invaluable tool and it's free.


Lutron

When we bought our new home in....2015? (I'm the worst at remembering personally significant dates), we made a lot of upfront renovations that didn't seem very sexy to me at the time, i.e. leveling floors, re-wiring light switches. I can't think of anything more boring and terrifying than electrical work. maybe plumbing. idk. We got Lutron and I didn't realize it at the time, but after it was installed...lights, three floors down could be turned off with your phone...while you are laying in bed. (!!!!!!!!!) Then in 2017, we got an Alexa and we could turn lights off, by telling Alexa to do it....without our phone, while laying in bed with a pillow shoved in our eyes - this is something that has become radically more important to me these last couple months due to my hormonally induced laziness. 


Chewy

I hate shopping IRL. You should know that by now. When you own two dogs and live in a city, you constantly need something. Chewy, that's your cue. Funny story. I learned about this app for dogs and cats by a guy that lives on my street that also has two Jack Russell Terriers. What are the chances? Chewy has my information and I just order what I need and I'm done. Often times things arrive the next day. I've even signed up for auto-ship on a few items like dog food and poop bags. It's just so easy, and I love easy, like, really, really love it. By the way, I started a dog account on instagram follow my two cuties @thejagrussells


Insight Timer


This last one is the least time-savvy app of the lot. But, it could buy you a few more years of life sooooo stress and stressing. yeah. Stress is something I carry around inside me. Most days, I feed off of it. To feel the diamond fine edge of the blade on the bottoms of my feet while I tenuously tightrope it, well, most days it's divine. But that's me. I like pressure and deadlines. They energize me (when they are things I can control.) Infertility is something that is largely outside of my control. And everyone has ideas about things you can control and do to hopefully encourage more fertility within yourself. Don't drink. Don't take amphetamines. Eat womb-shaped vegetables. Don't eat soy or dairy. Don't stress. Think positive. Take a break from your novel for a few months. This is all the most boring busywork I can think of, but here I am doing it, or rather, not doing it. Which, leaves me with some anxiety because I'm not as busy as I was (which is good in some respects because I SO TIRED). They say idle hands do the devil's work, or in my case, idle thoughts come straight from the devil. Doctors and therapists have always been like, what do you do to manage stress? CARDIO-WINE-WRITE I always used to say, but now that I can't do that, I never thought I'd say or do this, but I'm meditating. Insight timer has a lot of guided meditations, which is nice, because I certainly need my hand held for this, and Josh and I are meditating together. It helps to have someone help you feel less like a woowoo dum dum. 


What apps help you with life or make it more enjoyable? I'd love to hear them.


Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh, 


Style Evolutions and Cool Girl Clothing Sources

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Almost a year ago, I had a fashion breakdown here. Turns out I needed to give my personal style permission to be myself, but who or what was that? I set out to find out and I started in my closet. I spent some time purging sentimental articles that were holding me back. I purged other articles that I called "glue" pieces....you know, pieces that aren't really your style, and can only be worn with a handful of other disparate pieces which leads to the I-have-nothing-to-wear syndrome which then hastens more random purchases and attracts even more disparate things into your closet and further compounds your problems. Yeah, those glue pieces.

Glue pieces = exponential closet growth and personal style confusion.

I wanted my articles of clothing to work effortlessly with one another, but the reality of my closet was I had very specific uniforms for all of my compartmentalized roles. Writer, artist, art professional, wife, dog mom, day job, fashion blogger: There was a huge disconnect between them all. The most glaring example of disconnect was I felt like I'd rock and roll all weekend and then Clark Kent, my boring alter ego, would show up for work on Monday looking like Mr. Rogers. I was sick of leading a double life and the closet clutter, (the clutter! so much clutter! Quelle horreur!) so, yes, Last April, I embarked on finding a style that brings all these aspects of myself, our creative class lifestyle, and my life choices crashing together in a comfortable and presentable second skin.

Nothing good happens overnight, Rome wasn't built in a day after all, so I really took my time assessing myself and my closet goals. #amstillassessing Personal style is the combination of your experiences, your lifestyle, your personality, and a bit of your hopes and dreams. When you get dressed, it shouldn't feel like drag. It should feel like...I'm about to get a little metaphysical here, which is kind of out of character for me...but I honestly feel when you look at or pick up the right piece of clothing, it should vibrate at that same frequency you are. Your heart should beat a little faster and you should smile. If you feel anything else or dead inside, heave ho. Once I chucked all the superfluous clutter in my closet, I looked at what remained and what it told me. Here's what I learned:

I've always kind of known, deep down what my innate style was, graphic, dark, edgy, minimalist victorian/regency, cyber punk biker, architectural details femme fatale, high heel obsessed tom boy, washed up jedi, militant romantic, subversive prep, rock and roll gallerista. What I know I like: I like asymmetrical hems and layers. I like acres of rugged leather accessories. Patina and texture. Only a small handful of polish, maybe even just the nails on my fingers.What I know I want: I want to dry clean as little as possible. I want to iron as little as possible too. I want unfussy. I want things that dog hairs don't weave themselves into. 

My style  is slightly eccentric and hellbent on putting toes over the traditional tokens of femininity...there's a push and pull, and if one element is present, there is almost always an opposing force threatening to usurp it. Masculine-Feminine, Good-Evil, Antique-Modern, Can you relate? Something tells me I might be shouting into a giant void here. But if by chance, I've tapped a proverbial tuning fork and there is someone else out there, vibrating on my level, I just want you to know I've found a few retailers that I keep checking back with as I slowly add to my closet and carve out the personal style that can also accompany me to work, or where ever I go.

I've always adored the designs of Alexander McQueen, Ann Demeulemeester, Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood,  Helmut Lang, and Rick Owens but there were never any affordable options that got even remotely close to my sartorial leanings, yearnings and salary earnings, until fairly recently. They are as follows:



ASOS White - ASOS's newish line of design forward clothing. Think drapey and architecurally cut pieces. I can't get enough of it, but you have to act fast, sizes sell out so quick on ASOS. Check out some of my latest favorites below. (also, size down. I find ASOS White runs big, unlike most other ASOS lines).



H&M Divided Gray - It's technically not called 'Divided Gray' on the website anymore, but I still see the design aesthetic I'm looking for mixed into the regular Divided line. i.e. biker jeans/leggings, biker jackets, asymetrical tops, dark and disturbing tie-dye patterns, drapey anorak hoodies, punk sweaters.... See below.


All Saints - They've changed up their line a bit, but it's less dark and drape-y than it was, but I still adore their skinny jeans above all other skinny jeans, and their jackets are what day dreams are made of.





Kit and Ace - Design-y professional clothing for athletes when they're away from the gym. The majority of the clothing is machine washable and iron-free! I own a 'technical cashmere' long sleeve t-shirt that is handsdown the warmest base layer I own. I also own a couple asymmetrical drape-y t-shirts by them. I love, love, love their grunge-y scarves. 

photo: Kit and Ace


Noctex - Louche, Drape-y, thumbhole-y, achingly cool designs with a limited color palette (blacks, grays, whites)...they also happen to be socially and environmentally responsible (which is something I'm becoming increasingly aware of). 

photo: Noctex

Shades of Silence - Small batch designs that have a witchy, 19th century appeal. Their accessories are the stuff of my nightmares, which interestingly enough also happens to be where I take my style cues. I'd love to try out their coats so I can perfect my Sirius Black asset rich/cash poor aristocracy look. 

photo: Shades of Silence

Lastly, a new place popped into my cone of attention. Simple Moderne They have a collection they call "boho punk" that I'm quite smitten with, but I'm nervous about their return policy, sizing, and being overseas....but I've been thinking about them non-stop for two weeks, so I may have to bite the bullet and try. 
photo: Simple Moderne


What about you? Do you have subversive leanings? Do you have some good and affordable sources for me to check out? Let me know in the comments below. 



Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh,


Make-up Review: Foundations for Dry, Sensitive, and Aging Skin

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

 
 close-up picture of my skin. photo credit: Joshua Franzos

Here's something that happens in your thirties, that youthful essence starts to loosen its stranglehold on you and suddenly those crazy late nights you used to be able to get away with as a fresh-faced teenager and twenty-something, well, it shows now. I used to be able to get away with wearing foundation only when I was hired as a model. But nearly fifteen years ago, I had a make-up epiphany while I sat in a beauty salon chair, hair freshly washed, black cape snug around my neck, stylist looming behind me. My dripping, wet hair was plastered against my sallow face. The salon lights created dark hollows in my eye sockets. My lips were colorless and pinched. In short, I looked like the ugliest ghoul, not-so-freshly returned from an earthen grave. For the next 45 minutes, I gaped in horror at my Ivan Albright-like visage in the mirror while my hair was trimmed. Not fun. I vowed to never again visit a hair salon without a full face of make-up. So, it started there but eventually as I blasted my way into my third decade, the make-up and skincare became an everyday thing and avoiding the ugly death omen in the mirror became a way of life.

I'm actually wearing Bobbi Brown foundation here. photo credit: Joshua Franzos

Segue to foundation. I don't love foundation, but I love the way I look with a good foundation, and loving the way you look isn't vanity, it's important. My goal with foundation has always been to look healthy and natural, never fake and overly made up. I also don't want to feel it on my skin. I have different tactics when it comes to everyday make-up vs. photoshoots, but I always have at least one stand-by foundation on hand. This also means I'm constantly on the prowl, looking for an age-defying, skin evening, time-stopper in a bottle. This means I've tried a lot of foundations and will continue to. 
Cue the Law & Order music.
In the fashion and beauty system, there's a special division of real-life beauty bloggers that aren't paid to review products. Here are my stories. Pong Pong.

Neutrogena Hydroboost foundation




I was attracted to this foundation because I've been hearing a lot of good things about Hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid attracts water molecules deep into your skin, a very good thing when you have skin as dry and prone to eczema as mine. This was described as a hydrating tint and I expected minimal coverage. I was surprised that it gave me medium coverage. It was very moisturizing. There is a wand and sponge tip applicator which I think I liked...not sure how sanitary that is though. The look of this foundation was very dewy; which was something I'd never experienced before, but I tried it out for a few weeks. I ultimately decided this kind of dewy is not for me. It just looks shiny and greasy. What I disliked most about this foundation, was it came off all day long. (I guess I touch my face a lot). I had this make up all over my clothes and hands because it seemed like it would never fully "dry" and set. It slipped and slided all over my face and by the end of the work day, it was mostly gone. I threw it out well before it was empty.
Price: Nice, drug store prices are hard to beat! $9.99-$16.99
Overall Grade: Fail

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour foundation



I am new to the amazonian clay hype- apparently amazonian clay self-adjusts to the needs of your skin whether you be oily or dry and everything in between. I picked this up because I was looking for a creamy foundation, with good coverage, that could be dotted on and applied with my MAC buffing brush - Side note: I think I most prefer how foundation looks on my face when buffed out with a brush, rather than using my fingers or a sponge. This foundation has medium coverage and a little bit goes a loooong way. Also, it stays put. But, I've noticed it tends to dry my face a tiny bit. I will probably keep this one around because it is a good bargain for everyday, but I don't think it will hold up for photoshoots.
Price: not a bad price, I've seen it retailed for roughly $37-$42
Overall Grade: Pass. (B)

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream with SPF50+



A friend of mine used this and I loved how her complexion looked with it, so I bought it myself. I didn't love this. Even though it is particularly marketed towards sensitive skin, SPF ingredients are often a culprit for me, they seem to irritate my eyes and my eyes end up watering all day long. Which is exactly what happened with this cc cream. Also, this formula lends a dewy look that is best described as a light to medium coverage; but it says full coverage, but my freckles were still very much on display. Out of the bottle and freshly applicated, it's very pretty. However, and the final nail in the coffin for me, it never quite "sets/dries" so it comes off, on my hands, on my clothes, on my husband, on my dogs, and by the end of the day, I look like hell.
Price: $36-$42
Overall Grade: Fail

Makeup Forever Invisible Cover Ultra HD Stick Foundation



My go-to foundation for when I'm doing photo shoots, (since 2015) want to look my absolute best, or have zero time because I'm running late. I love this creamy stick. I just swipe some on my forehead, nose, cheeks and chin, and buff and blend it out with a brush. The finish is the look of health, and luminous skin right before the dewy level. It covers freckles like a boss. The only complaint I have with this stick, I believe it clogs my pores and causes comodones, so I try to use it sparingly, and really deep clean my face afterwards.
Price: not cheap, but this will last me at least a year's worth of photoshoots, magical evenings, and running late days $43
Overall Grade: Pass (A-)

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Le Teint Radiance Awakening Foundation SPF 22




I find myself a little sensitive to this formula - which means cue the weeping eye syndrome of mine, I think this is due to the SPF being chemical, rather than a physical blocker. This is a lighter formula which looks very pretty on if you don't have lots of skin issues/blemishes.
Price: expensive, $58-$60
Overall Grade: Pass (C+)

Urban Decay All Nighter Liquid Foundation



It's true, this make-up will last all night. But, and it's a huuuuge but. It is very pigment dense and subsequently full coverage, BUT it is verrrrry drying. I will note, this could be a good thing for younger women with oily skin, but as is, this equals not at all flattering for thirty+ year olds with dry, aging skin. All the lines you didn't even know you had suddenly pop up to the cracked surface of your face. My skin looked like a cracked desert floor. I've been mixing this up with YSL to use it up, because, dude. This cost $40 and the YSL cost $60, so....I can't wait until they're both gone and out of my life.
Price: not cheap, $40ish, which makes it incredibly expensive for something I hate.
Overall Grade: Fail

Bobbi Brown Long Wear Even Finish Foundation SPF 15




I've been using this since 2013.This gell-y liquid formula was a favorite of mine. It had medium, buildable coverage. I applied it with my fingers and was happy with it for everyday use and for photo shoots. It has SPF too and I didn't cry! It stayed on all day. I really liked this foundation, but didn't like how hard it became to buy it. Sephora stopped carrying it, so I had to internet order it, and when you internet order foundation, you absolutely have to remember what color you are (remembering my foundation color and passwords are not my strong suit). I loved this foundation, but a Bobbi Brown rep confirmed that it's getting discontinued:( Bobbi Brown is toting a new foundation, Bobbi Brown Long Wear Weightless Foundation SPF15. If you blink, it basically looks and sounds like the exact same thing. I will try that one next and report back. 
Price: hated the price, but it's so good that I paid it over and over again, $50.
Overall Grade: Pass (A-), sad to see this one go.


Sephora 10 HR Wear Perfection Foundation



Sephora Collection 10 HR Wear Perfection Foundation was recommended by a favorite blogger of mine whose make up always looks flawless, and....I hated it. I could feel it sitting on my face and the finish was streaky and uneven. I eventually threw it out. I cannot recommend this product. 
Price: so nice! $20. I wish it were a better foundation.
Overall Grade: Fail



There you have it. The Makeup Forever Invisible Cover, Bobbi Brown Long Wear, and the Tarte Amazonian clay are my current top three foundations out of the eight I've tried so far. Please note, I have dry, super sensitive, and aging skin. Beauty products aren't cheap, so I highly recommend you find beauty bloggers with skin types and conditions similarly aligned with yours for best results. Don't just fall in love with a pretty face! 

Do you have any foundations you'd like me to test out? Do you have dry, sensitive, aging skin and like foundation that doesn't rub off, and know something I should definitely try? Hit me up in the comments below.


Your bosom friend in Pittsburgh,


Show, Don't Tell

Friday, February 16, 2018




Do you remember the first time you told someone you loved them and how the butterflies tickled your stomach? Did you feel your heart grow a hundredfold if they returned your love? Did you feel your brain shrink and recoil in horror if they didn't? Maybe you said nothing and your pining heart bled for keeping such a feeling quiet. What a risk, love, and putting yourself out there is. 


As for things I love, writing is one of them. It is my most tempestuous love, but still, I've created a fictional world within approximately 422-450 pages (depending on how it's formatted). I love it like a parent loves a child. It has made me laugh and cry and think and empathize with the human condition more than I ever thought possible. It has also made me beat my head against countless walls and white hairs sprout from my scalp. We've been together, my manuscript and I, just the two of us, for so long now. Five years exactly, and like real love, all I saw were its merits and none of its flaws. So it was time to kick it out of the nest and have someone else read it. I conscripted two beta readers that I knew would be tough with me and show me where to make it better.



Prevailing wisdom says a writer should forget about a manuscript while it's in other hands and start writing something new. I do have another story I'm kicking around. But I don't want to dive headlong into that. I want to finish this story that I've taken from nothing to something and I just can't let go. I think I'm afraid the creative fire will die out if the thread that connects us is dropped. 





So instead, I'm a pacer, a picker, a bloody hang-nail flicker. I have demons in my head and anxiety pumping through my veins. Of the two Beta readers, one didn't like the story. One loved it. One ripped me a new one on what it takes to get published, (it actually doesn't look good for anyone). The notes on getting published were so discouraging, I'm actually depressed and questioning all my life choices. Both beta readers say the precious book baby I've coddled into existence needs work. I knew it would, revisions are part of the process, but my hands are still tied because I don't even have all of their notes yet. So while I hurry up and wait, I absentmindedly pace up and down halls. I pick at my dry cuticles, and my brain pick-pick-picks at the possible flaws of my story. I forgot to kill that one character who knows something! Should I add more internal dialogue...or would the story be even more powerful if I change the narration's point of view to first person? How many more years will the re-writing take? How do I pull this off? From where did I summon the hubris to attempt to do any of this? And where is that hubris now?  My brain also worries about getting published. Will I really only get rejected by literary agents and publishers after I invest at least five, but probably more like seven years of blood, sweat, tears, sanity, and countless dollars into this story? Did I really leave my professional career off the hook for the starry-eyed chance of something that may never even happen? What have I done? Where am I going?


"To Love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard of life is to risk nothing." - Leo Buscaglia

I'm pretty indifferent about many things, but when I do fall, I fall hard. Joshua was no exception. Early on in our relationship, I told Joshua that I loved him. He thanked me, but he did not reciprocate with those three words I desperately wanted to hear. It didn't sit well with me, and I felt like I'd just stamped an expiration date on our relationship. How long can an 'I Love You' hang out there all unprotected and unrequited before it goes sour? I picked and poked at what was unsaid like a sore on the inside of my cheek.The bottom line was he wasn't ready to say it. I had no reason to think he didn't love me, but he took a stance and I fixated. I pressed further, I mean, if he didn't love me, what the hell? The female neuroses came out whole hog. What am I doing? Where is this going? Poke, pick, prod. Joshua, thoroughly exasperated with me at this point, yelled because I clearly wasn't hearing him,"What do my actions toward you indicate? Have you ever stopped to think about what they say?"



I sat there, stunned. I'd never thought of it that way. I traced all of Josh's actions toward me on a macro level - over the course of our relationship, and on a micro level -through the course of a typical day for us. Everything he did, he did for me, for us. Even though his lips were still sealed like a vault to those three words, he was constantly showing his love, respect, and devotion to/for me through his actions. Every single day. I immediately thought of my last failed relationship where those three words were said more times per hour than I could count, but they were never followed through with action. I set everything I thought I knew to be true about love and relationships aside and examined it. I learned all that I knew from failed relationships. So I suppose if I wanted to continue failing at them I could stick to my guns. Or, I could take a leap of faith, wait, and in the meantime try out a different love language.Prevailing wisdom in writing says you're supposed to show not tell, perhaps the same was true for love? I threw my expectations out the window. I followed the intuition in my gut and had faith. I followed the optimism in my head and hoped. Instead of saying what was in my heart, I showed that it was love. And, yes dear reader, yes, of course, he did eventually say what I wanted to hear and it was also awesome, but by then it was backed with so much evidence I almost didn't need to hear it.


There's probably some ancient wisdom in a big, old book about having faith, hope, and love. But instead of drawing you into some religious allegory, maybe I should just stop a pick-pick-picking and apply my hard won revelations about love to my own novel. Continue loving the writing journey even though it hasn't told me what I want to hear. Continue hoping that my writing will one day be good enough to be published, and have faith that one day it will be. Faith, Hope, and Love. May it all fulfill us and forever inspire our actions on this romantic day and all our days.





What I Wore:
cold elbow shirt: past season ASOS
Sweater vest: old Ann Taylor Loft.
Jeans: Mast by All Saints
Gucci fur slide dupes: eBay! for $30, search 'horsebit fur loafer'

Home Decor: 
Vintage George Nelson for Herman Miller desk: Joshua found this at a garage sale for $20. (It was one of many reasons why I fell so hard for him; we both have a Herman Miller furniture obsession.) If you want to find an identical desk, there's one on 1st Dibs, here.
Orange desk lamp: purchased locally from Weisshouse.
Charles and Ray Eames armchairs: purchased on sale at Design Within Reach
Blue Dot Coat Rackhere.




Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh, 



joie de vivre

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

red tights, patent leather brogues, american in paris
photo: Joshua Franzos

People that know me sometimes call me morbid. But that's not entirely accurate because I do not, "have an abnormal or unhealthy fascination with death." Even in the best of times, I do have a natural inclination towards being what I can only describe as, sepulchral. Not morose, not gloomy, not melancholic, nor sullen, nor cheerless. Sepulchral, of relating to the tomb, as in, quite aware of my own mortality. I can be full of joy too, at the same time even, but these are the limitations I have to describe my character in the English language. The knowledge of my death makes my life all the sweeter. Not because I want to die, but because I know death is inevitable, therefore time is limited, therefore I focus on what I want to see and accomplish, and on the people and activities that add joy and meaning to my life. The realization of all this and getting to share my life with Josh has made me my most happiest and realized self yet. 

photo: Joshua Franzos

However, this fall has been a hard one for me. I lost two friends. Big ones. I was sure I had some years ahead of me before my pack started thinning. I was so very wrong.Their deaths were both shockingly sudden. Months have gone by and I'm still reeling. I haven't just been sepulchral, I have been broody, sullen, uninspired, and not myself. My brain started to tick the boxes of depression symptoms. I knew it wasn't only the death of my friends, that was the straw. It was their deaths multiplied by everything else eating at me. Why can't I finish editing this book? Why can't I get pregnant like everyone else without spending a fortune? Why won't the puppy tell me when he has to go outside? Why won't taxes do themselves? Why can't I shake this cold that I've had for 6 weeks? Where did all my savings go? Why can't I shed this layer of fat? Why do all of the things in our house have to break at the same time? WHY CAN'T REPAIRMEN COME DURING TIMES THAT WORK FOR YOU SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO USE VACATION TIME??? And on and on. The moral here is, we're all sensitive creatures, stuff adds up, and sometimes life just takes an unsolicited shit on your chest. 

photo: Joshua Franzos
dior purse, patent leather purse, quilted purse
photo: Joshua Franzos
Chanel brogues
photo: Joshua Franzos

Fashion blogging was so beyond the reach of my grief and anxiety, that it was trivial in comparison. This is at odds with the spirit of the blogger sporting season, a.k.a The Holidays, when we spur the economy with gift guides and perpetuate the fantasy of all the parties that happen this time of year that require party wear. (I'll assume all my invitations to said parties got lost in the mail). In short, I wasn't feeling it, I just couldn't deal with it, so I didn't. 

photo: Joshua Franzos
But I had to start putting the slippery slope of my mental health into check. I've compartmentalized my fertility issues into a Gringott's vault, to be picked up later. I'm seeing my old friend Ritalin to get me out my rut. I've picked up Sun Basket to help relieve some of my anxiety and lack of inspiration around healthy meal planning/ennui of grocery shopping. After finally kicking an epic upper respiratory infection to the curb, I'm exercising regularly again. We're checking the annoying adult and house stuff off our list. We put up a Christmas tree and a menorah. I'm editing. I'm writing a writing blog. I'm relishing the small pleasures: a kiss on the back of the neck from my husband, a puppy catching snowflakes in his mouth, a friend stopping by with quail eggs from his flock, a manuscript that is under 100k words. And just recently, I had the itch to think about fashion again. But not my usual drab grays , blacks, and neutrals. I found the stuff in my closet that sang and popped and twirled because even though I can still cry at the drop of a hat right now, there is so much joy in the world, life is such a joy to live, but ironically, it's quite easy to get lost in the shadowy valley sometimes. I'm not the first, you won't be the last. If you've lost someone recently or are feeling sad or hopeless for other reasons, I want you take that first step towards helping and nurturing yourself. Ain't no shame in it. I hope that you will endeavor to re-center yourself this season and new year, and like me, find your way back to the Joie de Vivre. 

photo: Joshua Franzos




What I wore: 
Beret: $7 on Amazon, here.
Scarf: Vintage. Burberry.
Dress: Vintage
Vest: old Lululemon.
Tights: $3.99 on Amazon, here.
Patent Leather Purse: gift from my sister-in-law, Christian Dior.
Patent leather brogues: gift from my sister-in-law, Chanel.



photo: Joshua Franzos



Many Holiday Blessings and New Year Wishes From Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh, 




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