Fear and loathing in America, now with a side of euphoria.

Good morning, Tuesday. It's a gloomy day and probably the last of any semblance of warmth. Rest of the week looks brutal. It is winter after all...happy to be nesting.

And even though we're all hibernating, you've no doubt noticed of late that less people are drinking. It's pretty crazy considering the state of things, but it's true. I'm not sure if it's the millennials who are keeping it sober are supporting this trend but many of my non-millennial pals are tee totaling as well. Even I find myself succumbing to alcohol on rare occasions, or when I'm seated next to someone fun at a dinner party who keeps refilling my glass. Otherwise, i've left alcohol in the dust. Admittedly, watching the news these days makes me want to chloroform myself. But I digress. Because lots of us are just not drinking much.

According to CNBC consumption of beer, wine, and alcohol is down for the third year in a row in America. But that doesn't mean people won't seek other ways to alter their states, and I'm beginning to see a lot more stuff in the mindful space. And of course, the buzz around legalized Mary J is legitimizing pot use in a way. I don't know if new audiences are really going full tilt into weed world, but I do know a lot of people who already partake are feeling empowered and are far more casual about their usage than ever before. And CBD oil is everywhere and is being used for everything from anxiety to major pain- they're selling a salve at my barre studio that hardcore workout folks are swearing by for aches, pains, and soreness. 

Maybe it's that weed and drugs like Ahayuasca have perceived health benefits. Pot can help with pain and pms for instance, while a good Ahayuasca trip is said to open the mind and clear out past trauma and help with addiction issues.  If you're not familiar, Ahayuasca is a spiritual brew that is has high hallucinogenic properties. It's a traditional ceremonial tonic used by indigenous people in the Amazon. And it's now at a yoga studio near you- hush hush of course, but you can still go on a vision quest in Tribeca, dressed in all white, if you so choose.  Or of course you can go down to Kentucky, the setting for my new favorite show from Vice, "Kentucky Ahayuasca", where a former bank robber/prisoner with very little dental work is now the shaman-in-chief of a tripped out church where heroin addicts and trauma victims can come and transform their lives.  My friend and I were fascinated by this, but admitted we would prefer to do this at somewhere far more fabulous, like Amangiri, where we'd be clothed in beautiful white caftans with thin gold thread, while our supermodel-like spirit guides would gently dab our mouths of puke as we laid our heads on super high thread counted sheets while Alice Coltrane played softly in the distance. Fyre festival much? ;)

I'm also intrigued by a new category called Euphorics. The other day on an Insta stroll, I came across the brand Kin, a company whose tagline is "Euphorics for humankind" and whose hashtage states "#risewisely". Kin is a beverage composed of what seems to be something called Nootropics( GABA, phenibut, 5-HTP, tyrosine, and some other goodies)  and and the newly trendy adaptogens, a group of plants said to help "balance the body", according to the Kin site. My husband recently attended an event at the more poshly spiritual version of Wework, the Assemblage where adaptogen cocktails were served. He claims that during a group meditation, he went into a fairly trippy state thanks to said adaptogens. 

According to Kin's website, "Kin was born from the desire to unite all creators through meaningful connection. We believe in a night where social isn’t sinful and self-care doesn’t stop at sunset". Pithy for sure, also expensive (each bottle is $47) and also completely sold out unitl February. My trend hat has me predicting a big, big interest in non alcoholic beverages that serve a higher sort of purpose. Kin is clearly cashing in on the trend. Here's a review on Vogue.com. I have to check this out for sure. Oh and best of all? No hangover. 

With so much interest in mindfulness and purpose and things that bring you joy, I expect a big cultural shift towards more higher minded ways to unwind and relax.  Interesting that. I'm completely open to all of it- I've never been shy when it comes to better living through chemistry, so bring it on. WWHTD aka What would Hunter Thompson do? He'd probably ask for a side of raw ether; rumor has it it goes well with euphorics.

Cause that's what's up this I want a new drug kind of Tuesday in the 718, Yours, in healthy, happy trails. XO

Maven style file: When less is more, and more is more too

Good morning, Monday. Had a lovely breakfast with an old friend and now back at it, trying to get in the groove. Good weekend spent doing New Yorky things like museums, walks, and brunch with friends. All good. Now on with the work week.

So the couture shows in Paris. Blah blah blah, right? I mean- as a fashion nerd I can't help but gawk at them, and that Valentino show was surely one for the fashion books.  See image below. 

It was transcendent and beautiful and absolutely over the top in the best of ways. Dreamy clothes for the .000000001 percent.

And as a (not so) casual observer, I couldn't help but note the explosion of tulle all over the couture runways last week. It was the 80s all over again with frothy, fluffy confectionary dresses that could make your teeth hurt, as well as you wallet.  Love the Viktor & Rolf wink at the top of this post. Clothes with a sense of humor always make me smile. And as a thoroughly modern type,  I don't love a fussy dress. It does not work on me at all. But I do love that girly girl looks are everywhere, as are more modern silhouettes. Case in point at last night's SAG Awards. 

Two of my favorite looks felt very different in tone, but both so gorgeous. I always adore everything Emma Stone does on the red carpet. This look from Louis Vuitton was just the end. Modern, formal, and altogether perfect. And loving the darker red hair color- Megan Mullally sported a dark red do too and I very much approve.

On the other side of the spectrum was the marvelous Rachel Brosnahan, whose ice grey/blue Dior gown was so traditional, yet updated and modern but super feminine all at once. So stunning- the makeup, the hair, the earrings. I died. She really wears a dress so beautifully.

So regardless of which way you swing when it comes to style, there's something for you. And there's not one influence or one silhouette or one reference that we all want to emulate or copy. Instead, be girly. Be a bit more masculine. Be whatever you want to be. As fashion becomes more democratic by the hour, there's as much a place for couture powder puffs as there is for boiler suits. I like this. I like it a lot.

Today I passed by Wildfang on my way back from breakfast and admired the very androgynous pink jumpsuit in the window. I love that the very definition of female dress has caught up to the times. Well played.

Cause that's what's up this mode of a Monday in the 718. Yours, in having all the cake, and eating it too. XO

Turn off the news, and call me maybe.

Hiya, Friday. Had the chance to catch up with an old friend last night and it's truly amazing to me how easy it is to take up where you left off. Something to be said for that. Not sure what but it's a powerful thing. I feel very lucky to have such lasting connections in my life.

And on that note, I'm vibing very heavily into a frequency that is less than pleasant, but equally powerful. I've heard from a lot of my friends of late that they're hurting, and feeling alone and a little lost as the new year takes hold. This is certainly not uncommon for January, but it feels really heavy right now. As an empathetic person, I can't help but want to wrap my arms around everyone who needs a hug or a hand or a chat right now- I feel these things so deeply. And if you're in that boat, please reach out. I'm here to listen. Life is really tough right now. This government shutdown is hurting a lot of our own citizens deeply, and damn if that does not have an effect on every single one of us in some way. And if it's not upsetting you, regardless of what side you're on, I don't know what to say. It's just awful in every damn way.

I really think we need to help each other as much as we can right now. This is not all woo woo at all. But this whole every person for themselves model does not seem to bi working. I challenge you to find someone or something you can devote yourself to this weekend. Whether it's protesting or simply calling someone you know would love to hear from you or adopting an animal in need. Just do something. I believe that if we all stand together and do compassionate things, maybe we can tip the scales and change the frequency. Enough is enough. And for those feeling strong, self care this weekend could mean caring for someone else who needs it. Doing good things is a wonderful way to take care of yourself. When I was working on a project some time ago for Dress for Success, I realized the incredible potency of sharing stories that are hard and painful to tell, and the grace of hearing those stories and feeling compassion for people you know very little. And how asking for help and realizing they needed help was putting something very good into the world- because on the other end are people who are willing to lend a hand and bring some good into the world.

And don't worry if you're feeling down or lonely or a bit desperate right now. These are beyond trying times. But just know that asking for a hand or help when you need it is never a bad thing. I know it's hard. When I'm down I completely close up and don't want anyone near me. That's the Cancerian in me- I head straight for my little crab shell.  But we need more push/pull happening and the idea of asking for help and getting help may just help tilt that axis to something a little more pleasant in the future. Oh and turn off the news. Just turn it off. I decided to listen to "Exile on Main Street" this morning instead of watching CNN. I can't.  And you shouldn't either. It's just too much. My pal in the local UPS store in my neighborhood (no doorman at my casa so I see him a lot) says it's better to give yourself an hour and listen to the BBC News Hour and then be done with it. I'd have to agree- they're far less prone to dramatics than our media folk.

Cause that's what's up this help is available kind of Friday in the 718. Yours, in reaching out and turning off the news. And keep going. XO

Stella, I love you. Now about my hair...

Good morning, Wednesday. Gloomy but warmer today in the BK.  The element of surprise was alive and well this morning when I spontaneously decided to take an early spin class which happened to have a sub which happened to make it a brutal class which happened to lead to a whole lot of unexpected extra level sweat.  OK then.

So as I was cooling down, I spotted this Burberry story in February British Vogue, shot by Willy Vanderperre and featuring my girl crush of all girl crushes, Stella Tennant. How do I love Stella? Let me count the ways. Ok I can't. Because I love her to infinity. So regal, so stylish, so traditionally beautiful but not all at once. And that HAIR. How can you not love a Bowie/Stella kind of vibe like this? Over the top? Yars. Fabulous? Uh huh. Totally. Which gives me pause. 

Because I've been trying to grow my hair for a minute or two now and to do that, I simply throw it back and off my face so I can forget about it. A recent cut got me to that place I love more than anything- the shaggy Keith Richards vibe I'm always after. But any time I see Stella, it makes me want to hack it all off. As a long time short haired lady, growing my hair feels futile. But I persist. Because change is good. And I need change. But Stella...argh. You get it. You get me. And yea, I'm not Stella Tennant. But channeling her is always a very cool idea.  I could never do that slicked back vibe but that short hair is just the most chic.

Hoping this is my biggest drama of the week ps. I'm feeling in my zone lately and don't need any setbacks, of the follicle variety or otherwise. Cause that's what's up this STELLAAAAAA of a Wednesday in the 718. Yours, in to trim or not to trim.

Maven recommends: A leave on mask for dry, winter skin

Good morning, Tuesday. Cheers from the deep freeze. It's bonkers outside. But even worse are the heat pipes in my apartment- I can literally hear them sizzling. Thank goodness for humidifiers but skin really does take a beating in weather like this and heat like that.

I've written about how much I love Laneige's lip mask to keep chapped lips at bay. But a recent trip to Sephora for a random whatevs yielded a great gift to winter skin- and that's Laneige's Water Sleeping Mask for the face. I am OBSESSED with this gel based miracle. In the winter I always switch to a more heavy duty moisturizer that is more like the consistency of embalming fluid, but this moisturizer is whipped and cool and so light. it feels wonderful on dry skin and using it at night has made a huge difference on my skin.Now if only I could find the perfect hand cream- something I've never, ever needed before ps. Aging is FUN. Any recommends?

Oh and the best part? A big tub of this stuff is 25 dollars, and should last you most of the winter because you don't need to slather it on to excess. They also have a cooling Eye Sleeping Mask which is great on dark circles and costs 35 dollars. I know the idea of cooling is a hard sell in this weather, but that's what parched skin requires.  I love the idea of fixes while you're sleeping. Why not multitask during REM sleep? WHY NOT?  Both products won Allure awards, and they know a thing or two about a product or two.

Hang in there cold weather friends. We'll get through this. You just need the right gear,  and that should most definitely include the right products. Cause that's what's up this ice, ice baby of a Tuesday in the 718. Yours, in better living through skincare. XO

What's it all about, mommy? The evolution of mommy style

Good morning, Monday. I'm not sure why the work gods smiled upon me the past few weeks, but grateful to be working from home right now because it's insanely cold outside. Hope wherever you are, you're staying warm. It hasn't been this bad all winter, yet here we are.

So something on my mind- about a week ago I posted an article  from the NYT (link here) about mom style in Brooklyn, and how it involves a No. 6 clog boot and something called a Salt strap, a fancy, crafty looking strap that you can attach to all of your favorite handbags for a bit of funky flair. I knew nothing of the strap ps although I can swear one of my fav stylish moms in Boston shouted this out a few years ago. Anyway, I'm well aware of the clog boot. Every mom and non mom alike in my neighborhood of Cobble Hill rocks them everywhere. I'm a big fan of a clog but somehow never bought these- I have a cool pair of No. 6 clog pump type things and a few pairs of Rachel Comey clog like objects. I've never been without a clog of some type in my wardrobe come to think of it, and I'm not even a mom. Mom by osmosis because of where I live? Perhaps. I was taken by how many of my friends had opinions and comments on the piece, with an almost overwhelmingly positive response while a few asked if the clogs were truly comfortable. I've always been intrigued by Brooklyn mommy style- the clogs, the oversized silhouettes, the hair in a bun revealing expensive highlights but lack of a hair brush. The perfect, fresh faced skin. Sure there's some that look a bit worse for wear from all night marathons with baby, but in general I've been amazed by how great and stylish the moms are in my neck of the woods.

I got to thinking about mom style and its evolution, as one does. I've always been a geek for fashion history, so I couldn't help but think about how mom dress has changed throughout the years. Obviously we are no longer in an era of leaving it to beaver in terms of style- the nipped in waist, full skirted look has not been in since the 50s. In the 60s I think many moms defaulted to the Jackie O. if they were not doing the hippie thing. My own mother was super chic with her blonde beehive and sleeveless sheath. This photo is from the 60s when my sister was wee and I just love it. You can see where I get it from, right?

Anyway, if I can look at my own mom, the 70s were a bit of a mixed bag- the true emergence of a more casual, laid back approach when it came to mom style- note the mom bun on my very own mom above, as well as some pretty tasty bell bottoms. I don't have a ton of pics from the era, but I recall a lot of silk head scarves, bell bottoms and button downs tied at the waist (that's my dad's mom, my dad, and my mom looking super duper fly). My mother was always a stylish type and I never, ever remember her dressing like a typical mom, whatever that implied. And then of course the 80s came and went. I will say this- I don't recall that many sexy moms in my come uppance, not like we see today. Or "cool" moms for that matter. Moms were just, well moms. 

That's why I'm having a hard time recalling what they dressed like in my true coming of age. All I have as a barometer is my own mother, who wore a ton of CP Shades and panne velvet in the 80s. Oh and a ton of gauze in the summer time. By a company called New Hero. It was cute. And bright. A lot of turquoise and coral if I'm remembering correctly. Here she is above with her popped collar and pearls and my ever present well dressed father, clowning for the cameras as per usual. He was a huge fashion plate too- and I now realize he was kind of hip hop in a weird way. Tons of Polo, Porsche Carrera shades, and shell toe Adidas.  I do recall that my own mom did not wear a ton of jeans once she hit her 40s, and neither do I. Strange that.

Enter the 90s and the ubiquitous mom jeans era. When those suckers became ironically stylish again, I almost threw up. That's a never, ever silhouette for me and that's that. Also- enter Peg Bundy, the mom who gave not a single F and dressed like a floozy and embraced a ton of mom do nots like NOT cooking, NOT dressing appropriately, etc. Her wise cracking, outsized tressed version of motherhood was refreshing, not to mention the mothering style of Roseanne, or lack thereof. Both of these sitcom moms came onto the scene at the tail end of the 80s, and dominated the 90s with their rebellious version of mommyhood.  Oh and coincidentally, this was also the era of "Sex and the City" where the notion of singledom and non motherhood became not only acceptable, but chic. I think that show affected me more than I care to admit. Suddenly, the option of tons of friends, tons of shoes, and no babies was completely ok. True I got married, but I can honestly say I never, ever felt societal pressure to have children. And I never imposed that on myself.

And now that most of my friends are mom, I'm the odd one out. My style is not reliant on picking up kids at school, play dates, or soccer practice. In that same NY Times article, a particular winter coat simply referred to as the "Amazon jacket" was mentioned, and to be honest, I had no idea what it was. As someone who follows fashion with a savant like ferocity, I felt remiss in not knowing about this phenomenon. And then my cool friend showed up wearing it at Balthazar for breakfast the other day. And she's the coolest mom I know. It's interesting how a phenomenon like that jacket can completely pass you by if you're not part of the mom brigade. I wondered if it would be weird if I wore one, though I do have a fur child so surely that could count? 

And then last night on Shark Tank I saw a very pretty young woman come on promoting her company, Sonnet James, a dress company for moms who are not the clog type and more the dress type. I admit I looked at these dresses and judged them as prissy at first, but then her story of a difficult childhood and then single motherhood had me flipping to her site and darn if I didn't see some really cute things there. I was touched by her journey and though I chalked her up initially as yet another Type A mommy from Silicon Valley, how wrong I was. Judging mothers is not nice by the way. And in my guilt, I bought a dress from her site. This leopard one. Because supporting other women is beyond important to me, even though I'm not a mom I figured I could pull off this dress. PS- aware of the obvious homage to Peg Bundy. 

What's striking to me most of all is there are plenty of options for all mommy styles. And though I've often thought about what my generation of "cool parents" will be like for all the kids who have to deal with parents in slouchy ski hats and designer sneakers, I think it will all be ok. Like everything, fashion evolves and flexes and I think it's cool that moms are even talking or thinking about preserving their personal style as their lives become more about the kiddos than spending hours in their closets.  And as I've aged out of dressing with too much this or that hanging out, I think I've embraced a bit of mama style myself. I often wear yoga pants all day, I crave comfort over everything else, and although I spend a good bit on my hair color, my hair style is often bed headed beyond bed headed. I suppose the bottom line is this- there's no big difference between mommy style and grown ass woman style. We all want the same things from our wardrobes. We all have busy, always on lives. And we all want to be stylish, but not spend too much time, money, or effort thinking about it.  And I do think the fact that women have babies so much later nowadays contributes to their desire to keep their personal style, and their sense of selves, intact. Case in point? One of my style icons, Christine Barberich, one of the founders of Refinery 29.  She just had a baby at age 49, and look how incredible she is. That's her above. I give her so much credit for doing it, and no, I'm not getting any ideas other than style tips from her. 

Just thought I'd share some thoughts on mom style, and the fact that although I'm well aware I live in a very chic style bubble known as New York City, I appreciate the rocking moms I see everywhere, looking fab as they juggle a million things all at once. Cause that's what's up this moms rock kind of Monday in the 718, Yours, in mom jeans and everything in between. XO

Shutting down during the shutdown (and a few other thoughts)

Good morning, Thursday. I do believe this government shutdown has me shut down. I'm having a hard time finding inspiration right now and hoping putting it down for all of you to see will spark something within.

It's true that I've been WFH quite a bit lately, leading to a self imposed hibernation as winter takes hold. I've literally been waking up, working out, and then coming back home to work all day, not leaving the house unless I need to walk the dog. And inevitably, I have CNN blasting all day long while I do this. A very bad idea. For obvious reasons. Depressing.

Like so many, I re-found my voice when social media was born. I was a lifelong writer, then stopped for many years to pursue other things, then found my way back to writing leading to this blog and gratefully, professional writing assignments. We know that the playing field has been crowded for a minute in terms of bloggers/vloggers/tweeters. But I think we've reached absolute fever pitch and it's causing me to want to just be quiet. And I wish more people would be to. As in, please shut up.

I'm tired of brands taking a stand. Truly. I'm tired of tweets and retweets and hashtags. I'm tired of joining the conversation. I'm tired of being told what to buy, what to wear, and how to wear it. Look- I'm guilty of doing all of these things, and I love sharing my ideas and inspirations and thoughts with all of you. But I feel like this sea of dissent is starting to reach tsunami status. And it's taking me down. Or trying to anyway.

The Gillette commercial is a perfect example. People hate it. People love it. But why on Earth do we care about it? We're in pretty bad shape if we are looking for brands like Gillette to change the way men behave. I'm so so tired of this trend. Of brands trying to connect with new audiences by taking a stand. I like brands that take a stand, mind you. But I have always felt they should do so only when it makes sense for them to do so. Like Nike. Like Patagonia. And I loved what Dove did. But this? Meh. If they had real men talking honestly about men that would have been better. Or put your money where your (supposed) heart is and host discussions about how to create change in the world. Or better yet, just sell razors. And worry more that men are not shaving as much as they used to. Because that should be your cause. These truly are desperate times- I get it.  But do they call for desperate measures? It sure seems like it. What is a brand's true intention when doing something like this? 

I think my Gen X cynicism is really coming through lately. We hated brands that were so obviously trying to market to us. We didn't care if they took a stand. And as millennials become full fledged adults, maybe they'll become cynics too. I can only hope the generation behind them is as cynical as everyone says they are. Because maybe all of this grand "standing" will stop. And I've worked in advertising my whole life so I'm aware these are dicey waters. Advertising at its best is of course a reflection of the times, but these times are completely unprecedented and not sure words should speak louder than action. It's action time. That's my thought. Don't wait for a brand to tell you how to act. Be the change. Enough said.  And before you jump down my throat- I support positive change in the world. From the way men behave to the way women behave to the way people behave. I'm just not a big fan of how it's playing on prime time. Thing is, we've been told our voices need to be heard. But now it's all just screaming. Nonstop screaming.

The collective anger is palpable and as an empathic kind of person, I'm feeling depleted. Because sometimes you just want to buy a razor without a big old message. And you expect your government to make you feel safe and protected and not shut down for weeks on end. Today I'm having lunch with a friend and hopefully having a laugh or two. I really need to step away from my apartment and my television. Hopefully I'll get some much needed respite from all the doom and gloom and gather some inspiration to help bring back Maven's regularly scheduled programming. Also when did it become super ok to be a sheep? To be told what to eat, what to wear, who to be? Rinse. Repeat. Enough.

They say silence is deadly. But a little quiet wouldn't hurt would it?  Maybe all this noise is deadlier than silence. It's all just a bit too much.

Cause that's what's up this what's going on kind of Thursday in the 718. Yours, in shut downs, break downs, and meltdowns.  XO

It's Friday, I'm in Love: My top five picks this week

Good morning and happy happy Friday to all. I've got my hands in many pots this week but enjoying the journey of getting back to it. I admit it's not easy but I woke up this morning feeling energized after my workout and looking forward to some fun new projects. And with the weekend on the horizon, I'm psyched to catch up on some must see movies (The Favourite, Vice, etc.) and hang.

Anyhoo, here's five things I'm super digging on this week. Have a look and happy weekend:

Gucci Westman foundation stick.  Loving this stick from famous makeup artist Gucci Westman. I was a stick skeptic until I tried this one, and though she makes a very expensive foundation brush, you really can apply directly onto skin and blend with your fingers- I found that application better than my Sephora foundation brush. Love how natural this formula is- not a ton of coverage but a beautiful and sheer finish for those who love that no makeup/makeup vibe. Have I told you about this one before ps? I can't recall. Well it's that good so worth shouting out again if so. Buildable coverage and no yucky ingredients. All good.

Paraboots. OMG. A very chic French woman I follow had a pair of these on in a recent Instagram post and I fell back in love with these. I had a pair in high school if you can believe that- so ahead of my time. Ha. Loving these practical shoes that have been around for over 100 years- very chic with cropped trousers or with a skirt or dress. So chic.

The Real Real. Oy vey. The Real Real. Where have I been when it comes to this amazing site full of gently used luxury goods? Amazing deals on all your favorite designers. So good. Currently eyeing up a Proenza Schouler bag. Back in love with that brand big time. Need to visit their brick and mortar in Soho. Or do I?

Christophe Robin moisturizing hair creme. I love CR products so much. They are excellent all around but currently loving this sandalwood infused hair creme that's a leave on conditioner. Makes your hair super soft and manageable- bonus points if you use after the lemon mask to get rid of any product build up and leaves you hair super clean and healthy but not too fluffy.

Meg trousers. I'm a dress girl. We know this. Lately I'm loving pants too. And these pleathery pants are all that. And they're on sale. They're part jogger/part trouser/all amazingly chic and comfortable. Love them. Wear with everything you own. Lovely lines and super easy peasy. They're out of stock online but available in store. Ooh and they're warm too.

Hoping you have a wonderful weekend. Cause that's what's up this five alive kind of Friday in the 718. Yours, in favorite things. XO

Can't commit to your resolutions? Give 'em a little lip service (courtesy of Glossier)

Good morning, Tuesday. Is anyone else having a tough time getting back to real life after the break if you had one? I know i am. Big time. And everyone's endless resolutions on social media are making me feel ill. So in that spirit, let's talk about lipstick. Because certainly you can commit to spending under 20 bucks for something new that doesn't feel as daunting as say- getting control of your carbs, becoming a lady boss, or Kond'oing your closet (just looking at her stresses me out). 

I bring you the humble new formulation of Glossier's Generation G lipstick. I don't know about you, but I'm not a fan of a freshly applied lip. I like to blot it about ten times onto any paper I have available in my purse so it looks more settled and stained than heavy. I think I've told you before I have  a real love/hate thing with lipstick- sometimes I feel like a clown mouth when I wear it. But this lipstick is perfect for the lipstick averse, and you don't even need to lose a single pound or declutter to enjoy it. Word of warning: I'm not in love with the texture as it feels a bit drying even though they reformulated, though I think a sheer, matte lip is a brilliant idea. To solve that I can't recommend Laneige's lip sleeping mask at night time enough- I've written about it before and it's a wintertime savior. No chapped lips here. 

Anyhoo, I'm loving the Cake color from Glossier. That's the one I ordered because I love a barely there lip. It's the perfect just bitten, peachy hue and goes with almost anything else you put on your face. I also have Jam which is a deep berry (also nice) and am currently coveting Zip, a red hue and Like, a pinkish rose (my go to).  So pretty and barely there. I say make a resolution to get some damn lipstick and forget everything else. The rest will happen. But good lipstick shouldn't wait.

Cause that's what's up this beauty resolution of a Tuesday in the 718. Yours, in a little lip service. XO

Learning, haggling, and very little chewing: my thoughts on ten days in Israel

Good morning, Monday. Back at it back at it back at it.

So let's get to it. I know you all are dying to hear about my trip to Israel so without delay, here's my take.

Israel is not a country of pleasantries. 

It is a homeland. A battleground. A sacred space. But it's rough, and for those more superficially inclined, a bit unpleasant.

I want to tell you that somehow my Judaism came running back to me with fervor and gusto and passion. I want to tell you that Israel feels like home because I'm a Jew. I want to tell you I listened in rapt attention to every last detail about the motherland and why it matters so much. But I can't. Because for all intents and purposes, that was not exactly my experience. My Jewish self loathing would not exactly allow for such epiphanies. Because I was too busy being hit across the bridge of my nose by an Orthodox man's hat just after takeoff from New York, a perfect metaphor fo the trip really, but more on the meaning of said hat thing later.

So back to the basics- we departed for Israel on Christmas Day and met my husband's father and his wife in Newark, along with the rest of our tour group. Yes, tour group. I said tour group. We greeted our group with bagels from New York City, in a bid to win over a bunch of Jews who wanted to get really, really Jewish. Think olive branch, but the Brooklyn version. It worked. 

After we boarded the plane, things got biblical.

Take the two Orthodox ladies, in full babushka'd regalia, running back and forth down the plane aisles because one of them lost their passport. Which, ps, you needed to board the plane so...really? This went on for what seemed like forever until they found them and collapsed into their seats. But then it turns out the Orthodox man in front of David could not sit next to a woman during the flight, so a game of Jewish musical chairs ensued, in which my father-in-law's wife had to give up her aisle seat in favor of a middle seat, just to take one for the team. Good on her. Noble.

And then our plane got evacuated. Because of a belligerent kid who didn't want to check his skateboard. I can't make this up. Oh and next to me was the Israeli Fran Lebowitz. Quipping and cracking with what appeared to be a much younger boyfriend, who seemed apt to laugh at every one of her snarkisms.  But I digress.

Because after the Israeli Tony Hawk got 86'd from the plane, we re-boarded and took off. And that's when the fun really started.

Over 10 hours of people pacing, shining big lights on prayer books and frantically discussing when to pray considering the 7 hour time difference, and an incident where yours truly got hit across the bridge of my nose by the hard edges of that aforementioned hat.  Crazy. And very much like Israel itself.

Israel is a place where your values are confronted with some very hard facts. Where everything is in your face, yet often difficult to see until you really see it. It's a place where you get bumped into  relentlessly, and your hummus is almost always slammed on the table instead of placed delicately in front of you. There is nothing delicate about Israel. Because there is no time for that. When you are surrounded by hostile borders and enemies, it seems irrelevant to say excuse me all the time, or worry that your table manners or waiter service are less than erudite.

 I couldn't help but wonder what all the Japanese tourists I saw were thinking- having been to Japan I'd say Israel is almost the opposite. Japan is quiet, considerate, delicate to a fault. Israel? Israel is loud, bustling, aggressive. Funny as a New Yorker I find any of that jarring, but I do. New York is not as abrasive or abrupt as people think. Israel on the other hand? Don't ever expect an excuse me. It ain't happening.

But it is also extraordinary in its richness of culture, character, and strength. Does it have the cleanest public bathrooms? No. It does not. But what it lacks in finesse it more than makes up for in importance. It's important to know that Israel, though a young country, has been through it time and time again. That its fighters on Masada thousands of years ago would rather commit mass suicide than be enslaved by the Romans. That three world religions- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all have bled for Israel and will most likely do so again. Israelis are rough, tough, and completely wonderful. You just have to accept that they are not going to be polite or anything less than 100% real. 

Here's a few other thoughts I had while there:

If you are toothless, you will eat like a boss.  The food, though delicious, is often quite mushy. Think hummus, yogurt, and many other soft foods that require little more than a set of gums. I will admit this wore on me after a while. Plus it's hard to get past the presentation. As a visually motivated person, more often than not, the food in Israel looks largely regurgitated (David and I took to calling it much much (get that chhh sound at the end(. But like most things in Israel, get past the way things look and dig in. Because if you can ignore the visuals, you will enjoy some of the most magical food of your life. A favorite? The hummus at Abu Hassan, a joint in the truest of senses. If you don't know what you want, don't worry. There is no menu but the Arabic owned business will take care of you, as long as you don't mind your amazing bowl of chickpea'd goodness being slammed down on the table. Hard. Absolutely amazing food, and experience- full of local lunch time people and some in the know tourists. Good eating. Oh and- should you feel tired of all the dippy things, go for pizza in Israel. It's kind of great everywhere should you tire of the relentless mush. And coming from New York, you know I know my stuff.  Also so much garlic. Not great for romance.

Be prepared to go back to school. Listen I'm the last gal who ever thought I would be on a tour group, yet there I was, on a bus every day and I'm eternally grateful to my father-in-law for taking us on this incredible adventure. Again- I'm not much of a tour type. I'm rebellious and independent and require a great deal of personal space and free time when exploring a new place. But because Israel's history is fascinating, dense, and rich, it is nice to have someone tell you why, when, and what when it come to major historical importance. I admit my attention span ain't great, but I learned a ton. And there's a good chance I would never, ever go to an underground bullet factory or former refugee camp. Looking back, I'm happy we saw as much as we did. You truly can't avoid the touristy stuff in Israel, it's a big part of the experience. But be sure to build in some time to soak in the place. We bailed on the tour one day in Tel Aviv and found ourselves loving our walk through the Florentin neighborhood (Israel's answer to Bushwick) as well as a long jaunt through old Jaffa, my favorite place of the whole trip. Amazing old market and fabulous new designer boutiques. So so good.

Let push come to shove. This one's a doozy for Americans and most cultures. Israel is a place where you will most likely be bumped into repeatedly while perusing the halvah at the souk. It's going to happen. And you can't be mad at it. It's just part of the culture. Plus Israelis and Arabic people almost always sound like they're yelling, even when they're not. Takes some getting used to but then becomes a relief to not have to apologize all the time. And your elbows will come in incredibly handy when trying to navigate all the meshugas.

Haggle. A lot. One of my favorite things about Israel from the both times I've been there have been the amazing stalls in the markets of the Old City in Jerusalem as well as in Old Jaffa in Tel Aviv. Never, ever pay the price they quote you for that necklace, scarf, or trinket. They expect and want you to haggle with you. And don't be surprised if you get that leather satchel purse down to a quarter of the price you were originally quoted. I know. Because it happened to me. Also I found myself loving the game- the hustle is ancient and amazing in this part of the world and it's a lot fo fun to watch and participate in. You will more often than not end up in the back of a stall where something "special" awaits. The challenge is to get out of the stall with some shekels in your pocket. Good luck with that.

Enjoy the old, but embrace the new. Sure the old city in Jerusalem is magical, but don't forget about the amazing newness that Israel can offer. Two places that stood out for me were the amazing OCD in Tel Aviv, a tasting menu restaurant with two nightly seatings featuring the most amazing kitchen theater and food ( think eggplant ice cream and sublime fish). Then, I fell hard for Anny Jacobsen, a local designer whose store had me wanting absolutely everything in it.  And the amazing Neve Tzedek neighborhood is the oldest in Tel Aviv but home to shopping that can rival any fashion capital's, amidst old edifices and thousands of street cats.  I'm an old soul as you know so adore the mingling of old and new just about everywhere. Divide that by the mix of cultures and you've got the most special sauce around.

Oh and a quick style note- saw an excellent exhibit on Israeli style at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and it was great. In terms of style is it apparent in this land at all? Not exactly. It's not a place for flashy labels or fashion bloggers, a huge relief. It's truly the most casual country ever. One trend I noted was that everyone  (and I do mean everyone) was rocking Blundstones, the Tasmanian born shoe that's a cross between a Chelsea and a hiking boot.  I like 'em.

Don't expect a miracle. In terms of my Judaism, did I feel any more connected to it than I did before? Not necessarily. I'm not a religious person, but I know who I am and I am proud to be Jewish, but did not necessarily feel a pull towards being more observant. One highlight on the religious front happened in Jerusalem where David and I received an Aliyah (blessing) from the rabbi who bar mitzvah'd him. Incredible. It is hard to ignore the spiritual aspect and expectation of such a trip, but I'm not sure it made me want to be more observant. Though it did make me want to visit this magical land again and again. This time, heading south to Eilat and soaking in some sunshine. And I think that all of us on that tour bus, from all different mindsets, disciplines, and walks of life felt the same. And that's saying a lot. I did see a ton of kids doing birthright and to be honest, they could not have been more annoying (or more full of hickies). Bizarre.

Also funny- Israelis like to present things in questions. As in: "What would you do?", said with a shrug of the shoulders. I suppose this is because living in Israel is all about having to make very fast decisions, amidst a constant threat of attack or who knows what. I will say there was not a single second where I felt scared. Even when literally staring at some hostile borders or driving through some less than friendly places. And considering the actual national emergency of gun violence we have in this country, Israel felt safe. Very safe. Until it's not. And as many Israelis will tell you, it's not an if. It's a when.

And back to the Orthodox man and his weapon of choice (his hat), it's true the blow to my nose was not welcomed. But sometimes a blow to your comfort and quiet is a good thing, and truly, Israel will take you there. You will watch countless cheesy videos at tourist sites and wonder why someone like Spielberg can't do this country a solid when it comes to tourist films, but you will understand more about the complicated nature of this country, even when it feels blunt and painful and somewhat shocking. 

I suppose that's it for now. I've got to get my head in the game but part of me is still strolling around Jaffa in the sunshine, enjoying my daily bread amidst the most beautiful patina I've ever seen. If you like your patina with a side of hummus and a double dose of reality, go to Israel. It's quite an experience, religious or otherwise. I adored it and found it intriguing, frustrating, and absolutely delicious. And like many things worth unpacking, it's complicated. Cause that's what's up this first day back kind of Monday in the 718. Yours, in excellent adventures. XO