26 May 2010

Summer Style

I don't know about all of you, but summer has come up so quickly!
Where did Spring go?! Ugh... I needed a style overhaul.

So: A few weeks ago I started a project, I dubbed
"Regain-My-Style-Sanity Project"

There were 3 phases to this project

Phase #1: Break-up with some clothes that don't work for me.
Get rid of any clothes, regardless of whether I think they are cute or not, if I haven't worn them in the past year, if they don't fit my body, or are too big.

Phase #2: Let the keepers shine!
Organize my closet and jewelry to make it easier to create outfits and accessories.

Phase #3: Create great summer outfits!
Work with the clothes I have to make them work for me and my style.

[I apologize for the quality of these photos. I self-timed most of the photos and they are less than spectacular. Kim, if you are reading this, next time would you want to take photos for me????]
Too see any of these pics up close, just click on the pictures to enlarge them!
Here is the end result of my closet.
Everyone's closet should work for them, so you can get the most out of your clothes. You work hard for your money and your clothing purchases, therefore your closet should reflect what they mean to you.

While I have been going through my clothes, I've discovered some pieces that I absolutely LOVE.
Such as a white blouse I bought for the Hubby's homecoming from his first deployment. I only wore it that one night and haven't touched it since. Simply because I didn't know how to style it.... Now that everything is organized I was able to come up with a couple looks for it.
Bragging Rights:
Dark Denim: DKNY found on super sale for $4. I had them altered to fit my body for $13. So $17 for fully tailored, super slimming jeans!

Gold Flats: Bought on sale for $3 at the BX. 

The Hubby bought the pink pearls for our first Valentine's Day as a married couple!

I purchased the second blouse last fall for $1. Yes One-freakin-dollar! But, I haven't found anything that I can wear with it... I get so frustrated, because I love the colors and the print, but the shape of the shirt makes it difficult to style. I've put together two day looks for this super casual (super cheap) blouse. 
The dark denim shorts were a splurge 2 summers ago:
Lucky Brand for $40. 
My philosophy on shorts:
Shorts are difficult for me, I rarely find shorts that fit nicely (without being hoochie) therefore I will pay full price for any shorts that I find! No.questions.asked.

In addition to the dark denim jeans that I had tailored, I also had a pair of white jeans hemmed. 
They are a great pair of white jeans that I picked up on super sale during the GAPs white denim trend a while back. Many of my girlfriends say that they shy away from white pants...
WHY?! It screams summer! 
Make sure it's 100 % cotton, breathable, and fits in the waiste, butt, and thighs. 
Here is what I've done with my white denim:
The first look, is a shirt a bought a year ago and I love the sexiness of the lace and the cut of the shirt.
Look #2 with the tiered tang top is SO flowy and breathable! It is a Harajuku-Forever21 find during a day of shopping with the girls! Thanks ladies - I'm so happy I decided to buy this!
 The green shirt is an Airman's Attic find. Cost = $0!!!! 
My third a final style collage is how to take basics and pump them up for a summer date or girl's night out! 
The shorts are a boyfriend-cut & are much more forgiving and not as short as cut-offs. 
The lighting is terrible. I'm so sorry. But I think you can get the idea. 
The black shirt was a $7 find at UNIQLO. It's a Japanese store, that can be found in SoHo. 
[Jess: You MUST check this store out! Super cute basics!]

Heels with shorts is totally acceptable. It lengthens your legs, like whoa! And it adds that touch of fancy that can take your basic outfit up a level. Add some frosting (necklace, cute earrings, belts, scarves) and it will be a great summer date look! 

Again, I apologize for the quality of these pictures. If I do this again, I'll be sure to enlist the help of a friend (cough, cough..Kim!) who may have skills in taking photos with a wicked camera!
I hope that this has inspired a few of you to see what you already have in your closets and see if you can re-style some blouses to make them work in your summer wardrobe! 

Have fun with it!

25 May 2010

Honesty & Tact

Ever since I started this blog, I knew that I was going to remain diplomatic in most issues. I rarely, if ever, talk about "hot topic" issues such a politics, religion, or sex. But, that doesn't mean that you, my readers, don't get a sense of who I am as a person.

Does it?

Being honest, but being tactful about it, goes along way in my book. I take great care in directly giving my opinion in the softest way possible. That way they understand I'm not trying to hurt their feelings, but I can tell them the truth.

If someone is tactful, it means they show skill and sensitivity when dealing with people. It means that they have a sense of what is fitting for the situation and show consideration and respect for others.

I have been blessed to have several people in my circle of family and friends that posesses this trait naturally. Therefore, I've been able to learn and observe people handle themselves (and what they need to say) with grace.

So, it's not a shocker that I would want to do the same in my writing.
Though, some may argue that I will never be a successful writer if I cannot commit to one side or the other. 

But, I argue, that I commit myself to understanding all people and their views. I work hard to understand different cultural, religious, and political views. And it is important for me to make others feel welcome to discuss these things without being judged. This is where honesty comes in. In order to find a place in me that can look at someone's life, no matter how vast a difference, and feel like we can connect, takes honesty. I have to be honest with myself.

It's difficult.
Can you look at yourself and pick out the prejudices you have learned?
What stereotypes do you hold on to?
Do you make generalizations about groups of people?

See.... its hard to do...

I truly believe that this is essential to building meaningful relationships. Without it, it can be limiting.

Back to honesty and truthfulness....
As you are trying to understand another point of view, it is perfectly okay to say that you disagree.
But, does it have to be harsh? accusatory? degrading? or belittling?
Can you find words that can get your point across without hurting someone's feelings?

I guess my challenge is to: 

Be honest with yourself, so you may be open to opposing views. Be tactful with your words, because there is a person on the receiving end of them.

23 May 2010

Let me elaborate...

Yesterday I posted a little post about first impressions. 
I've been doing some thinking and decided to expand on this topic. 

"You only get one first impression."
False. Today you have several chances to make an impression. Take advantage!! We have reached a dot-com phenomena, where people post status updates, twitter twits, photo tags, and public displays of all sorts of behavior. It is instantaneous and very difficult to take back. Every time you post a message, you are giving an impression of who you are. Is it accurate?

In addition to this public access to your life, there are also times when you only get an impression on one piece of the puzzle. Like my example yesterday, the man that I was talking about was only ever seen in a competitive nature. It wasn't the whole picture. I saw this side of him, with his wife and children, that was so loving and soft.

People are multi-dimensional. 
Keep your mind open to the other sides to someone. 

"Don't be over self-confident with your first impressions of people." 
-Chinese Proverb

I was over self-confident and I was wrong. The impression I got from this man was how I perceived him to be in all other parts of his life. I completely dismissed him as possibly being anything else.

Sound awful? 
It is. 

But is is just human error? Can we blame it on the flawed nature of the human mind? 

Absolutely not. Flaws are mistakes and misunderstandings. This is different. This is an inability to keep the mind open. It is more than a miscalculation, it is stubbornness and defiance towards someone that is barely known. It is unfair. 

To echo the words from yesterdays post: I allowed myself to apply my first impression to every aspect of this man's life without knowing him at.all.

I few comments and e-mails have brought to my attention that this is bi-directional. It is absolutely possible to get a first impression of someone sweet and kind, but later see a side of them that is unrecognizable.

Therefore, I'm challenging myself to keep my mind open. To keep it open enough to accept other possibilities and understand that the impression I'm getting may only be a small fraction of who this person really is.

Just some food for thought. 
And I would love to hear your comments on this!

22 May 2010

First Impressions

First Impressions aren't everything.

I had an impression of a person on my Hubby's softball team.
I thought he was a self-involved prick.

I sort of dismissed him and didn't pay any attention to him.
Until, today, when I saw him with his wife and two children. It was amazing -I saw a glimpse into someone's life and I felt like it was a gift.

Is there anyone in your life that you may only know in one context?
Perhaps you haven't grasped all sides of that person.

Lesson Learned:
despite what I think I may know about someone, I probably don't know anything at all.

Happy Weekending!

18 May 2010

Change is in the air....

Nothing particularly changing in my life directly...
But have you ever felt like you can feel change happening? 

Like the people that have left your daily life have left it vacant - and now things have to change and you can actually FEEL it?! 

And its not just me - a lot of people that I knew when I first got here are heading out. I'm not friends with them, I don't even really know them. But, I knew of them... and now their either gone or are leaving. 

It's crazy. And now those vacancies are being filled with new people. Friends or not, their new. And its weird being the one that has been in Japan the longest. It's weird being the one talking about their impending PSC in a year! A YEAR! 
The Hubby and I were discussing the changes we have seen cosmetically around base. 
Different buildings. Different streets. Different gardening. 

AND I've been living in this city long enough to notice changes in menus, restaurants, stores, and closings. 
Just the other day I noticed a new Ramen shop. It opened. And then it closed before I even had a chance to try it. Crazy I tell ya. I never imagined, when I first arrived, that I would eventually be a local. (As local as an American living in Japan can be..)

It's not better, it's not worse. It's just different. 

17 May 2010



I loathe the fact that I have to......

type up an observation and write up a research paper. 


So instead.....
I've rearranged my living room.

I've potted some peppers! 
(This wanna-be gardener is going to make her some SALSA! (Hopefully by August!)

I've written some e-mails. 
(And some "hello-it-has-been-to-dang-long" cards to send out.)
And now I'm here. Writing about my procrastination. 

If that isn't bad then I don't know what is... hmmmmppphh!

Want to see my dreeeeaaaam office? 

Who could procrastinate here? 

Well, maybe I could find a way...

16 May 2010

Pure Bliss.

Happiness comes in many forms. 
But it definitely comes in the form of the Hubby's week off from work!
It was a last minute decision that was well received! Every so often, the Hubby's head looks like it's going to explode... so, I am very understanding when he needs to have some time for him.
A special bonus for me has been having him home when I get home from work.
Plus, it is nice to have him refreshed!!

Tomorrow we are back to a normal work week...
But, happiness also comes in the form of summer vacation, which is only 24 days away!

And it comes in the form of two little brothers traveling to Japan at the end of June.

We may even be bribing the housing office to allow us a pooch.
[We, the stupid humans we are, went to visit the pet section at our local equivalent of Lowe's (w/ a pet section!). And fell in love with a little fluffer.]
So, I said I would put in a call to housing and see what they can do. They allow cats, but not dogs in our buildings. But, my defense will be that we have a dog park at the park just down the road (3 min. walk).
Yea, I highly doubt that they will let us, but it's worth a try! 

Savor the rest of your weekend!

11 May 2010


I came across a group on Facebook that the Hubby and I have joined.
It's about a small community, not to far from my hometown, that is looking to honor a local hero and dedicate a small strip of [NY] State Route 13 in his name.

What is incredibly disappointing is that this has sparked some controversy with the community.
It seems that the village board has some reservations about this proposal. And unfortunately, this family has been on the receiving end of some insulting and cruel comments.

Basically, in not so many words, they are asking:
"Why is this one soldier so important?"

Which is a major disappointment!
Especially to the individual sacrifices that are made daily by these men and women. When I saw this, I choked up. And then I got angry.
I am angry that this proposal has been bogged down by misinformation and small town gossip.
I am angry that this family has to justify why their son should be honored.
I am angry that there are people that cannot muster up support for our nation's fallen heroes. 

All across the U.S. commemorative ceremonies have been made dedicating routes, buildings, parks, and playgrounds in the name of our fallen heroes. When the proposed idea came to the family, they graciously accepted to find a way to honor their son.

I know that this may not be YOUR city, YOUR state, YOUR community... but it is one of our service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

I give my fullest support to this group on Facebook, and I have already submitted my letter (Which is available on the Facebook Group page).

Here are some links to check out:
The Family's Statement
Sgt. Elisha R. Parker Memorial Highway [Facebook Group]
Eli's Obituary
Sgt. Eli Parker Page [They are doing some really great things, check this out!]

This was a great man. This is a great family.

Just take a little bit to learn about Eli and the Parker Family and their story.

Stress-Induced Baking

What happens when you have 2 papers due and don't know where to start? 

You whip up a batch of mom's-recipe chocolate chip cookies (a.k.a.the recipe on the toll-house package). 
[Mom must put extra love into them, because mine aren't nearly as good as I know hers are.]

I'm not a baker, but I sure do like taking out some stress while mixing the dough. 

And, the Hubby and friends benefit from this quirk, because good news is......
I share! 

Back to finish my last week of class & my last paper for this class. sigh.....

Maybe I'll bake some cupcakes this week. 

08 May 2010


I'm a huge coffee fiend.

I discovered it very quickly in my first semester at college in NYC.
Late nights & early classes tend to lead to a craving for anything that will help keep your head off the desk and your eyes open.
(To be honest, I'm sort of a dork when it comes to school - so I really was that girl who was actually interested in class - you know the one... always asking questions, first to raise her hand, always answering first. Pitiful, I know. What can I say?? I'm a good student!)

Yes, I too needed to be alert for 8 am literature, so coffee found it's way into my heart and into my blood stream. Since then I've had a love affair with it. Plus, it didn't help that there is a coffee shop on every street in the city - so my addiction was readily available and there were cafes all over just waiting to take my money.

But as my semester neared it's end, my decision ultimately was to leave the city (partly due to my inadequacy to fit into a catholic college that I clearly was at odds with.), but mostly because I wasn't actually ready to be quite so irresponsible (how mature of me!).

[Side note (Jess, you will get a kick out of this): I was scorned by the nun that I talked to about transferring & she reminded me,in a very sharp tongue, that I would not, under any conditions be accepted back. If only I weren't such a wuss...I would have swift kicked her right in her jaw. But she took an oath to God, but God help her if she hadn't. I'm kidding. You know that right?!]

Back to coffee.... So I left my cafes, baristas, and Starbucks in NYC and moved back upstate.
Just my luck - my city just scored THE cutest hometown coffee house ever - and it would become home away from home. I even dragged the Hubby there a couple times while we were first dating.

Sighh...the memories..

So again, here I am in a different place, still addicted to coffee.
Only now I take a little less sugar and a lot more espresso.
& I take less foam to make room for more caffiene.
And, just my luck (again) Japan is a coffee powerhouse. Seriously.
They have cafe au laits that would rival any European selection.

Where was my coffee yesterday (Friday) when I thought it was Saturday - which all started on Thursday (which I thought was Friday) - Hence me thinking Friday was Saturday, when really I was supposed to be at work (because it was Friday) - And how come no one said anything when I was telling everyone, on Thursday, to have a nice weekend, when really I had to come to work the next day.......FRIDAY!

Did you get that?

Ugh the woes of thinking tomorrow is today and today was yesterday....

Confused? Me too...

Happy Weekend-ing! 

05 May 2010


I am not one to turn down any compliment, but recently I've discovered a slight annoyance.
Who am I kidding, it bugs the s#*t out of me.

It has plagued conversations for years, and started showing up in higher frequency in my facebook comments and in my inbox.
It has been used so much as a compliment, for me, it has become a non-compliment.

What is it?? 


That shirt it cute.
You are so cute.
How cute!
You look cute today.
Awww, CUTE!

Don't get me wrong, I take what I can get, especially in the compliments department.
But, I simply cannot escape this.
Is the word 'cute' a compliment cop-out?
Is it a safe and easy compliment that is dished out when there is nothing left to say?

Basically, I'm asking if 'cute' has any meaning any more?

This leads into a further discussion about compliments that I give.....
I use the word 'cute' very often,not only describe other people, but other things.

So I'm challenging myself to explore the English language to find words that will give better compliments.
"That dress is fabulous. Very flattering to your figure."
"I'm crazy about that necklace you are wearing!"
or some other compliments that my friend T and I came up with today were,
"If I didn't know you and I saw you wearing that dress, I would hate you."
"If we weren't friends, I would steal that from you."

It comes down to this:
Can we, as a society (American and beyond*) come up with better more specific and descriptive compliments that will evoke feelings of warmth, appreciation, and humbleness??

*I mentioned beyond American society because in Japan the word kawaii (directly translates to 'cute') is used for anything and everything. It is used the same way as it is in English and causes me to hate that word in TWO languages!

Please weigh in on this.
I've set up a poll to the right of this post. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday with Hepburn.

Not too long ago I blogged about some biographies I got from the library. Audrey Hepburn was one of them.

I LOVED that book. And I loved all the quotes that went along with it. She was a very approachable and warm person (so I read.) and was very affectionate. [For the purposes of satisfying my good mood, I'm going to skip over the parts of the cheating and the depression]. Here are a few quotes that Audrey has said that have really stuck with me:

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”

"Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!" 

*"You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him." 

Once my life settles down (read SUMMER VACAYYYY!) I am going to try and create some pretty canvas with some of her quotes. Among the 100 other projects I want to start, not including the 50 already started...

Let's play a little game called Good News, Bad News.
(I'm a good-news-first-kind of person.)

Good News: There is only 5 weeks left of working with cranky middle school teenagers.
Bad News: For 2 months I eat cheap ramen noodles because I'm broke.

Good News: My brothers are coming at the end of June (after my brother graduates highschool).
Bad News: I'm going to be even more broke.

Good News: We finally got some sunshine around here! (My threats to the rain dancers were heard! They're scared!)
Bad News: It's not supposed to last through this weekend.

Good News: The Hubby and I are trying to plan a trip back to the states later this year, with all my fabulous students!
Bad News: I won't be buying any new clothes or shoes or purses or decorations, because all our money has to be saved towards this trip.

Well....training for tomorrow has turned into a field trip for some good student!!!! We are visiting the World War II Museum in Tokyo and going to visit the VERY controversial Yasukuni Shrine. Why so controversial? I'm planning a blog post about it when we get back. Can't wait, I wiki-ed it.

So I'm off to work, then out for some sushi.

Happy Wednesday-ing!

* I love this quote in particular because I recently started really LISTENING to the people I'm with. And it is so true, that you can learn more about a person from the way they are talking about others. Try it.