Saturday, January 30, 2010

Don't Leave Home Without It

Yesterday as I was preparing to go out to run my errands, my man saw me running around the house grabbing all my essentials. "What are you looking for?" he asked. As I ran back down the stairs from retrieving my cell phone I breathlessly responded, "All the items I can not fathom to leave the house without". With that I looked into my purse to make sure that the 5 most important things were indeed in it. Realizing that even one of these things are not in my purse when I make the last minute check after I buckle into my vehicle will prompt me to rush back into the house to retrieve it. What are these things, you may ask? Here are CJ's five "Don't Leave Home Without It" list....

My Verizon EnVy 2. It's my calls & texting, I do them both with ease on it. Of course, I dream of upgrading to the iPhone, but since AT&T has the exclusive rights to it till next year, I have to make do with this phone. Not that I am complaining. I love my phone!

Absolutely anyone that knows me knows I can not live a day without music. This is the very first thing I grab the moment I get into my vehicle. And it's fully loaded with hundreds upon hundreds of songs. My man is anti-Apple, and I am his arc-nemesis! I love ALL things Apple. Hence,, the reason why I want an iPhone. The reason why I dream of purchasing a MacBookPro. And the reason my eyes gleamed with delight this week when Apple unveiled their iPad! *SIGH* My iTouch is an extension of me...a literal life support if you will. I don't go anywhere without it!

We have already established that I am a MAC fanatic. Therefore, you will always find a MAC lipstick & gloss in my purse. Since Christmas the color of choice has been the Viva Glam VI. The honey so sweetly stuffed my Christmas stocking with them and I have been happily using it ever since.

Anyone would ask, "Hey CJ, I don't see any mention of credit cards or cash on this Never Leave Home Without It list?" Well, that's because I can not go anywhere without my wristlet. I got this exact one from my best friend several years ago for Christmas and I have lovingly used it ever since. She was generous enough to gift me a Coach wallet for my birthday this year which I do carry around, but I can't bear to part from my Coach wristlet. It is the perfect size to contain my cash, my credit cards, my driver's license and my insurance and registration. It goes with me everywhere!

And last but not least.....Water! Because hydrated skin is healthy skin. I am a firm believer of that. A bottled water always finds it's way out of the house with me no matter where the day will lead.

So my question to you is..... What are your top 5, can't leave home without, essentials?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

One Reason I Miss NYC

I often times listen to my friends complain about living in apartment buildings and noisy neighbors. They complain about the constant vehicle emissions that pollute their air on a daily basis. They also complain about the high cost of providing a descent home, food, and clothing for their families. Whenever I hear this, I can truly sympathize with them. I also thank goodness that we moved out of the city 8 years ago to a home in the suburb. Cost of living is cheaper, you get more home for your money, and you can breath fresh air without the fumes making you dizzy. But there is one thing (of a few) that my family and friends who still live in the Big Apple have a variety of that I miss terribly.....


Sure we have food here....and a multitude of restaurants. But what my town lacks is variety. No matter where you are in New York City you can find an array of culinary options to choose from. Last night I was speaking to a friend online and realized....there are so many ethnic foods that I ate on a regular basis that I can not obtain here. One such choice....Greek cuisine. When I thought back to the last time I had a gyro, I astonished myself. 8 years!!!! And it's been that long since I had baklava as well.

This morning my main man decided to scour the internet for the closest Greek restaurant. And he found one about 20 miles away. Tonight for dinner I was able to experience a delicious gyro and baklava as though it was for the first time. It was delicious, filling, and oh so satisfying.

NYC I miss you!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

If Money Were No Object.....

If Money Were No Object.....These Alexander McQueen peep toe, ankle strap, black patent leather shoes would definitely have a loving home in my closet and become an integral part my wardrobe.

Have a great week!


I couldn't resist anymore....

For the past several months I have been a "good girl" and have worn blinders while walking past the MAC Cosmetics store at the mall. See, MAC makeup is a weakness of mine. But today, 4 months of not purchasing a thing came to an end. I was wooed in by the dashing MAC Pro and 15 minutes later I was dolled up and walked away with a new blush (I needed one anyway) in All's Good, and an eyebrow mascara in Mink.

I have to say I heart the MAC pros.....Had I walked up to the counter I would have never chosen All's Good. I actually said "You're kidding right?" when he came to me with it in his hand. I was thinking, there is no way I can look good in a color that dark. But looks can be deceiving....what looked really dark went on beautifully on my olive complexion. Did I say I heart MAC? Yes, I do!

Today, I walked out of the mall with a skip in my step. I had come out of my makeup drought with two fine purchases! Good day, indeed!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Decorating Inspiration

It's that time.

Naturally, like most newlyweds, hubby and I started off with nothing. We rented a beautiful, large, one bedroom co-op apartment in Westchester County with not one piece of furniture. It was a blank slate. Being a goal oriented individual, I knew if I was going to have children, my furniture selections needed to take the abuse children can cause. Not jumping on the sofas, since my two were taught to respect and care for their home. More the 4am, bleary eyed, rocking the child with 102 fever on the sofa while watching yet another rerun of Seinfeld on the television before the "Oh Mommy!" no warning....mess that sofas tend to take. Yes, my family room furniture has been well loved, and it shows!

Our furniture made it's way from the apartment in New York to our first house in the Garden State that we now call home. Twelve years later, it still sits, a bit abused, but proudly in our family room. We decided once I start working again we would give the ground floor of our home a complete overhaul. The room I can not wait to get my hands on is the one we spend most of our family time in.

I have been scouring the internet and perusing home decor magazines for just the right look. One of my favorite shops to browse is Restoration Hardware. The above room always seems to be the one I spend the most time looking at. I love warm neutral colors for my family room. I love decorating with the changing seasons, so neutral colors is the way to go. I love the attached chaise at the end. I can just close my eyes and picture myself curled up with a good book and a throw blanket over my legs enjoying the brief getaway.

I can't wait to get started on the renovation project. I know it will be a tedious task, but one that will be rewarding in the end!

P.S. What are some of your favorite home furniture sites?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Making Time for "ME"

Photo from Moroccan magazine Tourism & Gastronomie

Last night I had a long chat with a young woman online. With the exception of a couple of key factors, this woman bore a striking resemblance to me just a few years ago.

As a woman, we are naturally inclined to take on the role of nurturer. We do everything in our power to make sure that our children, our husband, our family & friends are happy. We spend our day in a whirlwind of activities, running to and fro, making certain that we do not miss even the most minute detail. We think we can do it all! In the interim we begin to ignore crucial aspects of ourselves.

"I only have 15 minutes to get Johnny to baseball practice and I want to make sure I bring those surprise goodies I bought for his team that is sure to make them all smile. I don't really need to put on some makeup...."

"I have to go pick up husband's dry cleaning, and go to the market for the ingredients for tonight's dinner, then pick up Sue from dance classes. It's just so much easier to pull on the sweats sitting in the corner of the bedroom floor, than looking for the perfect top to go with those jeans....."

It starts off as neglecting the little things. Who really cares about an outfit, hair and makeup anyway? But gradually we begin to let go of little things that brought us great joy. Whether it be painting or reading, or going out for a drink. Because we feel being Supermom and Alluring Wife must take precedence over those things. What we don't realize is the fact that in order to even attempt to be on top of our game as mother and wife, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend.....we must make "ME" our top priority. No one is going to make us their #1 concern, so we need to make sure we do.

I remember one day in late spring 2007, I walked over to my full length mirror and looked at my reflection. It wasn't me looking back at me. Sure the person in the reflection had my dimples and my eyes. She even had something resembling my smile. But this person in the mirror was not ME. And then I began to assess in what other areas had "me" disappeared?

I am an avid writer. I enjoy writing screenplays most of all. Yet, when I looked at my laptop, the last time I had written anything to completion was in the Fall 2002. Five years!!!! Sure, there were a couple of 3 sentence ideas for screenplays haphazardly written throughout the years. But they were just that. Three sentences with an idea....nothing else. I didn't discard writing altogether. I had written in my blog about my happy family life. Because family life was indeed happy. But writing for pure enjoyment? That had been on an extremely long hiatus.

I noticed gradually throughout those 5 years I had slowly let "ME" to take the back seat. I'd only dress up when I knew people were coming over. I'd pull my hair back in a tight bun and dab on a little lip gloss on every other day. I stopped subscribing to my favorite magazines and buying things for me, because I money could be used better on something for the kids or the house. Never once did I realize back then that I was losing sight of myself. To the world around you, they see the smile and hear you laugh and think "Hey, she's great". But on the inside "ME" was battling to get out.

So on that balmy Spring 2007 day, the real "ME" finally emerged and told the me that was in there presently wrecking havoc upon my reflection. Time's up! I have been dormant for too long and it is time to let me use my wings to fly again. That was it. At that very moment I turned around, marched to my closet, took out my favorite pair of jeans, Nine West boots, a pretty fitted top and went to work. I showered, got dressed, donned my makeup and literally took every sweatpants and sweater I owned and ceremoniously dumped them in the recycling container for unwanted clothes. Enough was enough. And when my husband arrived home that evening he took one look at me and said "Wow, you look great."

Of course, the re-emergence of of me didn't happen over night. I slowly started getting myself back into the hobbies I loved.....scrapbooking, reading, writing. Especially writing....that was the one I missed most of all. I was in complete awe. I sat at my computer and feverishly typed away. Three days later I looked down at my laptop and realized I had written a whole 98 page screenplay. I also began letting my hubby know, I need to dedicate alone time to myself. Keep in mind people really do get accustomed to changes that become the norm so having him on board with my re-acquaintance with myself was very important. And sure enough that know, the one that truly reaches your eyes, began to appear more frequently. I learned to set limits. I can't be Superwoman. And I learned to accept that fact.

What is most important is not losing sight of ourselves. We do not want to become a person we don't recognize in the mirror. Staying true to ourselves and the things we enjoy not only make us happy, but everyone around us happy as well.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Beautiful Things

Odessa coat -

When I get bored, I tend to surf the web for all of my favorite things...... recipes, scrapbooking inspiration, home decor, name a few. But one I always tend to navigate towards is fashion. Couture to be exact. I am a fan of the truly feminine. It's fun being a girl, why hide behind men's clothing?

Anyone that knows me, knows I always say...."When I win lotto, I will.....". I truly believe that in a past life I must have been royalty or filthy rich. Because my taste are pricey. This coat is custom fit to order. So of course it is in my bookmarks under "Dream Purchases".

Takes a dollar and a dream..... or maybe one day I will be notified that a long lost aunt passed away and left her million dollar fortune!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Guilty Pleasure

I admit....I indulge in many guilty pleasures. Sometimes more often that I care to admit.

Let's define Guilty Pleasure, shall we?

This is Wikipedia's definition:

A guilty pleasure is something one considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it. Often, the "guilt" involved is simply fear of others discovering one's lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes, rather than actual moral guilt. Fashion, music,[1] and food (especially unhealthier foods high in sugar and/or fat) can be examples of guilty pleasures.

I am mere minutes from partaking in one of my guilty pleasures, and am looking forward to every minute of it! For the past 2 years I have been paying careful attention to my dietary habits and have made adjustments accordingly. I tend to refrain from eating foods high in fat, I take my coffee with skim milk, make sure I have fiber in my diet, use Splenda as a substitute for sugar, and almost totally abolish sweets from making it's way into my eagerly awaiting mouth. Notice I did say almost.

There is one thing I am totally helpless to saying no to. I see it, and my mouth waters. My brain starts screaming I....WANT.....YOU.....NOW!!!!! And at this very moment I am anxiously awaiting for my timer to "beep" and the cool down to be complete on one of my absolute favorites of a long list of guilty pleasures...... Red Velvet Cupcakes. The pretty red little cupcakes dressed up to the nines with a slathering of cream cheese frosting stare up at me and seem to sing "I know you want me, you know I want you" to the heavy bass beat and come-hither voice of Pitbull. And who am I to say, No.

I will devour the moist velvety confection and let out a soft sigh. No, there is no way I could have possibly abstained from it. Of course two cupcakes later I start feeling guilty and that little CJ on my shoulder with the pretty, perfect little angel wings and the annoyingly sugar coated voice whispers in my ear...."Now, did you really need to eat two?" I wish I could flick her off my shoulder and tell her "Oh shut up, little miss perfect!" Then the sexy, voluptuous CJ dressed in red from head to toe, perched with her legs crossed on my other shoulder looks at me with a sly smile and tells me in her sultry voice "But you know you enjoyed every minute of it!"

Red Velvet Cupcakes.....Guilty Pleasure Indeed!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Where's My Mojo?

My scrapbooking mojo, that is!

I hate to admit, it has been almost a year since I touched my scrapbooking supplies. And I have an abundance of them! As with any hobby, we tend to accumulate a vast array of anything and everything related to it because....let's face it. We may very well need it one day. With me, I take it to a whole new level. I buy it because "Oh my goodness, this is beautiful" even though I may not have any pictures whatsoever for it. But that's alright. I will dress my children in matching outfits, take them to a location that would reward me with proper lighting, and pose them in such a way that....VOILA! I instantly have achieved the desired photographs that will fit perfectly with that paper or stickers that found it's way into my supply cabinet.

Before any of you call child protective services on me for forcing my children to take pictures they otherwise wouldn't have taken for the sake of my assured they are willing participants....most...of ....the ...time.

This morning I decided, enough is enough. I must get my supplies in order and perhaps that will stimulate my creative juices. It was nice getting reacquainted with my darling paper supply, but sad to say, today was not the day to make my masterpieces.

Maybe after getting some sleep and running through my inventory in my head, I may wake up tomorrow in a more creative mood......till then!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Coffee, Tea, or Me?

I have a confession to make.

I am ADDICTED to coffee.

There I said it. People would say that is the first step in the road to recovery. Admitting you have a problem and then seeking the help you need to overcome it. But I have to admit, I don't want to be fixed.

My obsession with coffee started when I was about 5 years old. Aghast! Five?!?!! Yes, that early. My parents have always been avid coffee drinkers. They can not start their day without a freshly brewed cup o' joe. I remember sitting my parents lap as a little girl and shyly asking for a taste of what they were drinking. To many wee ones, the bitter taste would immediately bring forth a nose wrinkly declaration of "Yuck, gross!" But I fear, that was not my reaction. I looked up into my mother's eyes with a twinkle that proclaimed, this is tasty! It was then that my fondness of coffee was born.

At that young age my mother gave me half of a demi cup full of cafe au lait. I would dip Ritz crackers into it and have it for breakfast on certain days. I gradually started drinking more and more. Of course this meant that by the time I went to University....where most students would use coffee to keep them up in order to study, I had to bypass the regular stuff and join the big league and request mine with a double shot of espresso. It was around this time that Starbucks started showing up in every street corner in NYC and I was in heaven. My coffee poison of choice? Caramel Macchiato.

I suppose many would say it is due to this consumption that I live up to my nickname of "The Energizer Bunny". I beg to differ. I think I am just naturally predisposed to having the knack of multi-tasking. Personally, I don't think coffee gives me a jolt of energy. Quite frankly, I think it has the opposite affect. I feel it calms me. Not only does it warm me up, drinking it gives me a sense of relaxation. I take my time to savor and enjoy it and everything is well in the world.

Christmas this year brought me a Keurig gourmet coffee maker. I must say, it is the best present I have ever received. It has only been 10 days since I first used it, but I have already tried Breakfast Blend, French Vanilla, and Butter Toffee. I've tried it with flavored creamers as well. I can safely say, this is one present that will truly be used daily.

Who needs a ten step program for recovery when it comes to coffee? Not me!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Obsessed with Words

I love books.

Correction: I have an obsession with books!

Ever since the moment I could read, I have had a love affair with words artfully weaved together and bounded into hardcover or paperback. I have my mother to thank for that, of course, because if it weren't for her persistence from infancy to sit me on her lap and read to me, I probably would not have developed such an extreme desire to read anything I could get my hands on. I really can't say that I have a particular genre that I stick to. Anything from the classic to popular, obscure authors to pure smut.....if the synopsis intrigues me, I read it.

Over the last few weeks I have visited second hand shops, bookstores, the Internet, and garage sales and without fail I have picked up a book or two to add to my reading list. Presently a neat little pile of 10 books lie on top of desk waiting to be discovered.

Running with Scissors Augusten Burroughs
This book was highly recommended to me by my sister. A memoir of the author's life after his parents divorce and his mother gives him up to her psychiatrist and who then raises him in a home with no rules or direction.

Money Martin Amis
A certain 23 year old listed this as one of the books he enjoyed reading. I happened to come across it at a garage sale, read the back and thought....Hmm..this looks rather interesting, let me give it a try. This young man seems to have a rather wide variety and eclectic list of literary preferences which fascinates me, since I simply adore discovering new authors. Needless to say, this book found it's way home with me.

The Rachel Papers Martin Amis
This book was sitting next to the previous one, I picked it up, read the short description and my attention was piqued. So who am I to allow it to sit there all by it's lonesome?

Living Dead in Dallas Charlaine Harris
Anyone who knows me well enough, knows that I have a weakness for vampires. Ever since I was a wee little girl, I have loved the creatures of the night. And as I became older and discovered their dangerous sexiness, the fascination with them grew abundantly. So it is no surprise that I would be drawn to the Sookie Stackhouse series. Especially since I am addicted to the TV show True Blood, which was derived from the book series. My brother gifted me the first 2 books for my birthday and of course like anything that is taken from written form to the small or big screen, the book was much better. Having finished book one, I am quite excited to curl up with book two. (Especially since I'll get to read a whole lot more of my favorite bad boy vampire, Eric, in it!)

The Eaten Heart: Unlikely Tales of Love Giovanni Boccaccio
I have a bit of a weakness for European poets and classical writers. I was briefly introduced to this Italian poet when I attended University and I fell in love with him when I studied his work. One morning while I browsed through the pages in, I happened upon his name. Immediately this book made it's way into my shopping cart.

Pride & Prejudice Jane Austen
I heart Jane Austen. I studied her in high school. I studied her works again at University and Pride & Prejudice became a favorite. This book is a re-read for me. A walk through a secondhand bookstore brought me face to face with a beautiful hardcover copy for the outrageous price of $1....$1 for a classic! I paid for it and ran out to the car as fast as I could before the shop owner discovered her fatal error.

Her Fearful Symmetry Audrey Niffenegger
The storyline captivated me: A pair of sisters inherit a flat in London from a long lost aunt that is haunted by a woman buried in the nearby Highgate Cemetery. I'm hooked!

The Satin Sash Red Garnier
This one looks like total smut....but who cares! I do not discriminate.

The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
I had this book on my list of books to read a while back, and never did get around to picking it up and reading it. Now since the movie adaptation is being released, I felt the strong desire to read it.

Handle with Care Jodi Piccoult
A visit to my best friend's house brought me face to face with this book. She shares the same love for reading that I do and we have been known to swap books we feel would move us. This one was thrust into my hands with the warning....have tissues nearby, you will thoroughly enjoy this.

With the holidays over and things getting back to some sense of normalcy, I can not wait to curl up with a cup of coffee and get reading!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe that another year has breezed by us. Where do the days go? Each and every year on December 31st, I look back and contemplate the very same question.

2009 was filled with many happy memories. It ended a bit rough. But I live by this motto: We need some trying times in order to appreciate the abundance of good ones we have in our life. I am positive that 2010 will be filled with many excellent opportunities for my family and friends.

And as I do every first of the year, I have written out a list, resolutions if you will, of goals I would like to accomplish within the coming year. I learned long ago not to make dramatic resolutions that will take a miracle to accomplish. This will only be setting ourselves up for failure. For instance, losing 25 pounds. Really? I know I love carbs and there is not a cupcake I have passed up. So why be foolish and make a commitment to lose an outrageous amount of weight that will restrict me to eating 2 jelly beans, a huge bowl of leafy greens and sipping water for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Instead I resort to creating realistic goals that I know I can accomplish.

- Health related: Taking multi-vitamins daily, exercising, drinking more water.

- Spiritually related: Taking the time to access my day and writing it down, start meditating.

- Goal related: return into the work force, pay down debt, save money, get back into scrapbooking.

- Family related: exhibit more patience with those that all they seem to do is try it.

These are added to the ones that I had from last year which I achieved but would like to continue improving on, such as: always think positive, put my best foot forward and be a good role model for my children, continue to help my children achieve their hopes and dreams, read and write more, and eat right.

At the end of 2010, I will sit back with a glass of wine and determine how many of these goals I have accomplished. They are all resolutions that are within reach. It just takes a little determination to achieve them all.

Hope 2010 is filled with promise for everyone!