Monday, June 21, 2010


I have a new obsession.

Alright, alright, I know they're not technically new for most people, but I am just now latching onto the trend.

It's a good trend, though.

TOMS Shoes is a company that was founded on the idea of "one for one". With every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS will donate a pair of shoes to a child in need.

On their website, they explain "why shoes?":

"Many children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or going to school, these children are at risk:  A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause. Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected. Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential. "

Some might question how a company will survive on that premise, but Blake Mycoskie has hushed all skepticism. Mycoskie traveled to Argentina in 2006 and realized the children he met had no shoes to protect their feet. Motivated to help, he started TOMS and returned later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes as a result of customers' help.

As of April 2010, TOMS has given away 600,000 pairs of shoes to children in need.

By inspiring other companies to do the same, TOMS has somewhat reinvented the foundation of business on the realization of how much people want to be part of something bigger.

TOMs carries shoes for men, women & children.

My particular favorite?? The glitter version in gold & silver:
Too sparkly, you ask? Nothing is ever too sparkly.
(all images from their website)

They are THE most comfortable shoes. If I walk around Manhattan all day in flip flops, A. the arches of my feet hurt and B. I'm exposing my feet to the germy subway and all the feet-stompers in congested areas. Not anymore!

Great arch support/more coverage than flip flops/cuter than sneakers/for a good cause. And at ~ $50/pair (actually TWO pairs, if you think about it), that's pretty darn fantastic.

The popularity of TOMS started on the West Coast and has since spread. You can't even find some of the styles/colors online since they're completely backordered until the end of July. I'd suggest searching another online retailer (Nordstrom, for example) or click here  to find a store near you.

Still not convinced you want to be a part of the TOMS movement? Watch this video.

until next time,


Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Present About the Past

As I get older, I realize how much I cherish discussions with my parents about their lives. I love hearing their memories and what they have taken away from the years they have lived -- and despite whether or not I can relate to their opinions or if what I have become as an individual proves to be vastly different, I want to hear their stories.

So, in my plan to document them, I begin with my dad.

My dad is a big story-teller. He has a story or an opinion on everything, with which I don't necessarily always agree.  For this Father's Day, though, I bought him a hard-cover book titled "Memento: My Life in Stories" by Michael McQueen.
In McQueen's heartbreaking foreword, where he recalls the series of events that motivated him to write the book, he also makes an interesting claim:

Having worked with over 80,000 students, I can attest to the fact that young people today are searching for a meaningful connection with their family heritage more than ever before. While this may come as a shock to many parents and grandparents, I would suggest that the reason for such a yearning is clear -- this younger generation has grown up in an era that doesn't value the past. After all, not that long ago the process of "passing down" through the generations was at the core of our social fabric. Culture developed, history was preserved, craftsmanship was taught, and wisdom was bestowed through the stories passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, grandparent to grandchild. Whether around the campfire, the watering hole, or the dinner table, our elders showed us how the world worked and the meaning of our place within it. In just one short century, though, so much has changed. We have shifted from a "build-to-last" society to a "quick-fix" culture. We crave the newest cars and fastest computers, while anything deemed to be dated, old, and "yesterday" is simply disregarded or disposed. Our obsession with progress is typified by the modern-day doctrine that everything old is "bad" and everything new is "good". The link between generations is under increasing threat and young people sense it. In homes across the Western world, a dramatic role reversal is occuring: for the first time, it is the "tech-savvy" younger generation teaching their elders how the world works. While it is true that older generations were raised in a vastly different time, it is equally true that the principles, values, and experiences that guided and shaped their lives are as relevant and applicable today as they were in centuries past. I suspect that the advice and comfort to be found in the wisdom of older generations is needed even more than younger people recognize (or are willing to openly admit).

McQueen then fills the book with empty ruled pages listing questions at the top. He asks things like: "Who was your most influential teacher and why?" / "What was your first job and how much did you get paid?" / "What is your favorite sport? Why this one? What game or event was the most memorable to you?" / "Who and what were your biggest political and religious influences?" / "Do you believe in miracles and why?" / "How do you define success? Has this definition changed over time?" / "What do you remember about your grandparents?" / "Can you describe where you were when man walked on the moon, JFK was assassinated, Princess Diana died, and the attacks of 9/11 happened?" / "How did you feel when you first became a parent? What are some of your most vivid memories of your child(ren) as they grew up?"

I am hopeful that the collection of answers will provide a story and a very valuable keepsake. And yes, I realize this is a completely selfish gift, but I hope he enjoys it just the same.

To all the fathers in my life - my dad, my stepdad, my Papa, & my two big brothers -- I love you all.

Happy Father's Day.

until next time,


Monday, June 14, 2010

"The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner"

First, there was
and then 
and then
and then
and now...

I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive about reading the fifth book in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga, "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner". I was more than content with the four-book series that transfixed my attention last summer. Even more so, I missed the world that Meyers had created in her stories. Still, I didn't want the novella to ruin it. In the end, I suppose my curiosity took over (not surprisingly). 

Stephenie Meyer, you did it again. I couldn't put the book down. As odd as it sounds, I also wanted to drag it out; I wanted to save the story and read little by little. And then that voice in my head was quickly overruled. With only 178 pages, I found myself reading as fast as I could. There are no chapters so it feels like one big readysetgo and a race to discover the end. Even pressed between sweaty and grumpy commuters on the subway, I still managed to hold the book with one hand (other hand holding on for dear life) and turn the pages in a strategic, albeit not graceful, move where I used my hip to balance the book while I thumbed to the next page. 

(Btw, I hatechu, Kindle/Nook/iPad owners.)

The funny part is that I know how it ends, but yet I was still completely bewitched by the story, remaining on the edge of my seat until the last words. Somehow, in 178 pages, Meyer not only provides us part of the story we already know in a fresh and intriguing perspective, she creates new characters and relationships, with whom readers inevitably empathize. Readers quickly "become" Bree Tanner, completely naive to the situation and remaining hopeful until the end.  Like with any event, once you know the entire story, you can understand things in a whole new light. Sympathy materializes when you least expect it, secrets become clear -- and you're forced to re-examine what you already know. 

Cliff's notes version: If you're a fan of the books, I'd definitely recommend adding Meyer's late addition to your Twilight repertoire. 

"People do not want to just read Meyer's books; they want to climb inside them and live there." - Time

until next time,


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Process of Art = Art

My favorite childhood activity was asking all of the artists in my family to draw so I could watch. My dad was the best at horses and my great aunt sketched all of the Winnie The Pooh characters with her shaky hands. My favorite participants in the game of "you draw, I watch" were my older siblings. They'd return home from college and I would chase them around the house with a pad of paper and a pen begging them to draw something. Fascinated by their different techniques, I'd memorize how they held their utensils and the speed at which they drew. I'd always keep the final picture, but I wouldn't hang it up. I'd draw it...over and over and over again...until I was able to pester them into drawing me a new image. I eventually learned, by imitating their steps, things like how to quickly draw an ellipse and that starting with the eyes of a person is best. It completely captivated me. It was the same fascination I had with my sister applying her makeup and my brothers playing the piano. It wasn't the final product that intrigued me - the done-up face or the sound of the song - it was how many times my sister swiped mascara on each set of eyelashes and the face she'd make while applying her concealer. It was watching my brothers' thumbs and pinkies stretch between octaves and noticing when they decided to press the sustaining pedal with their feet. It was the act. It was the process.

While I'm a fan of many works of art, I am a bigger fan of the process of art. Perhaps that's why I chose Printmaking as one of my degrees, which is ALL about the process -> intaglio, lithography, relief printing -> etching metal, grinding stone/applying chemicals, cutting blocks of wood, etc. The process of making the art becomes art in itself.

My mom sent me a video yesterday; she called me and told me I had to watch it because it made her immediately think of me. She knew how impressed I would be by the mesmerizing techinique.

It's a video from Ukraine's Got Talent. The contestant's name is Kseniya Simonova and she is a sand animation artist. This particular performance is about Ukraine during World War II. Not impressed yet? You will be. Watch.

until next time,


Thursday, June 3, 2010

The HomeCentric's Shop

If you've ever lived with me or seen my apartment, you know that I love pillows. Lots and lots of pillows.

I currently have 9 pillows on my bed. Sometimes I have 10. Pillows are no joking matter.

Although I'm mainly a fan of the big European-sized pillows, I also love the smaller throw pillows that can give a bed, chair, or couch an instant pop of fun.

(how many times can I say the word pillow(s) in one blog post?)

Check out these adorable pillow (!) covers from The HomeCentric's Shop on Etsy. Prices range from ~ $17 to $30.
Too cute. You can buy pillow (!!) inserts at your local craft store or online.

I ♥ PILLOWS. (!!!)

ok. I'm done.


until next time,

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