Two “F” Words

Fun + Fashion. It’s your life, so e-n-j-o-y  it…first and foremost. I guess that’s why I’ve never stopped playing dress up. When it comes to fashion,  we don’t need a license to express ourselves freely. Yes, judgement wiggles its way into most things, but it doesn’t stop my fellow nefelibatas (those who refuse to obey the conventions of society). With so many trends and styles to play with every season, it’s easy to form a fresh, cohesive, one-of-a-kind look. 

What about monochromatic outfits? Or mixing textures? Listen. I’m always here for surprising details. Monochromatic looks mixed with texture can be more interesting; tell a richer story. Fall is coming and so is this fashionable post…so catwalk over to your kitchen, pour a glass of _____ (insert your adult beverage of choice), and let’s get into it.

Firstly, what the heck is monochromatic fashion? Let’s use our etymology skills and break this baby apart. Mono meaning single and chromatic meaning color. So, monochromatic = pieces of one color. Challenge accepted! Now, wearing the same color outfit (with no pop of color) may sound like an outfit for Boring Betty. However, trust me when I say, you can rock single-hue styles + different textures, and execute a show-stopping look!  Annnd, I personally believe black is the simplest color to get started with. 

Now what? Keep reading. If black is not your color, choose one that looks beautiful against your skin tone and makes you feel like you own every room you enter. A quick visit to fashion failure is wearing a color that discourages instead of uplifts your mood. So, take a mini trip to your closet and find items in the same color that you would love to wear. Start experimenting by mixing and matching pieces into outfits.  Some will work beautifully and others may make you cringe. That’s ok…keep at it! Rome wasn’t built in a day. 

“I do my hair toss, check my nails, baby how you feeling? Feeling good as hell.” -Lizzo

If you’re feeling ready to level up, mix textures within your monochromatic outfit! This will grab the attention of others, create a show-and-tell visual, a sense of depth, and add dimension to your look…so it’s not bland and lifeless. With my black monochromatic outfit, the textured princess style skirt was my focal point. The hardware on the leather jacket brought in elements of surprise and risk. And my shoes covered in Swarovski crystals were the magical cherry on top. 

Some texture unions that pair well are: leather + knit, velvet + silk , faux fur + sequins, metallics + cotton. 

Let your liberations and creativity run wild. The world is your runway and I’m your supportive girlfriend sitting in the front row smizing at all your fashion glory. “Real queens fix each other’s crowns without telling the world it was crooked.”

Servin’ Face

“I definitely owe myself an apology for all the s*** that I let slide in my 20’s” (SZA). Being a twenty-something-year-old was flat out hard (for lack of a cuter word). There was a ton of doubt, first-time sorrows, ego-bruising, and to top it off…I grew an entire human in my uterus. Talk about the ultimate growing pains. 30 is definitely the new black. Not because it makes me feel better when I say it (ok, maybe a little bit), but all the acquired knowledge, experiences, and perspective I have now makes life a little more enjoyable and carefree. Time out. No stage in life is without trials (let’s be super clear). My 30’s have also had their peaks and valleys. But, one thing is new…age is all of a sudden a ‘thing’. And the beauty regimen…it definitely takes a lot longer as I’m deliberately fighting back against ALL signs of aging with a lot more tools in my designer fanny pack. So, what do I serve my couture skin these days? Pull up a seat, and let’s get into it!

Petit Déjeuner (Breakfast): In this order

  • Drunk Elephant Jelly Cleanser – A non-irritating, light, and satisfactory cleaner for all skin types. However, if you prefer something heavier + with a lather, this is not the one for you. ($32.00)
  • The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toning Solution – A concentrated toner that nicely exfoliates and blends uneven textures. ($8.70)
  • The Ordinary Caffein Solution – Who knew I could get a double serving of caffeine every morning! If you need to wipe away dark circles or reduce puffiness under your eyes, please give this baby a try. The science behind it is: the combination of caffeine and highly-purified Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside (for a quicker read, EGCG) work together beautifully to put those raccoon eyes to bed for good or while the bottle lasts. ($6.70)
  • The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid – This magical liquid delivers a multi-depth hydration with a boost of Vitamin B5, visible plumping, and an all-day glow. Filler without the filler? I’ll take it. ($6.80)
  • Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer – Addressing the elephant in the room…YES, this bad boy is expensive, but the last time I checked…we only get one face. A cream that improves tone and texture while aiding with firmness. The Protini is like having a shot of protein for collagen support, maintenance, and loss prevention. ($68.00)
  • Glossier Super Glow – Who doesn’t want to grow and glow all year ‘round! If you’re in search of a brightening serum…give this one a try. However, I do have something to confess. After finally realizing that any excess moisturizer or serums for your face should be shared with your hands, I started using this one for my hands only. Even more so because the super glow effect was a miss on my face. ($28.00)
  • Sunscreen – This is a tricky one depending on personal preference, so I endorse the one that works best for you….just please do me a favor and APPLY IT. Sunscreen prevents acne scaring and wrinkles; it’s the cherry on top for any morning routine. 
  • Lip Balm – Recommendations: Bite Beauty vegan lip balm ($14.00), Ohii Lip Jelly ($8.00)

Le Déjeuner (Lunch): Keep it lite

  • Trader Joe’s Rose Water Facial Toner – For a refreshing pick me up, this bottle is at your service. Contains real Damask rose water, Damask rose oil to bedew and moisturize, Witch Hazel for balancing and toning, and a tiny bit of Soapbark extract to soften and condition. Most importantly, it smells like roses. So, when you find a moment to reset and smell the roses, you will actually do just that. ($3.99)

Diner (Dinner): After cleansing, freestyle the order

  • Eve Lom Cleanser – A rare, multi-function formula packs an exclusive combination of essential oils: Clove oil pinpoints blemishes and stimulates clear skin, Eucalyptus oil to battle toxins, Hops oil to tone, Egyptian chamomile oil softens and soothes, and Cocoa Butter moisturizes. This is cleanser has been the holy grail for my face. It leaves my skin purified from the day’s gunk, but also feeling silky and replenished. ($80.00)
  • Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask – I use this one 2-3 times a week for a deeper cleanse and to minimize my pores. The Umbrian clay has a high mineral content and it dries pretty fast. 
  • The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toning Solution – Details above
  • The Ordinary Caffein Solution – Deets up top
  • The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid – Scroll up, please
  • The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% – Reduces signs of aging, like retinol, but without the irritation. ($9.60)
  • Lip Balm – Optional, but who wants to wake up with a dehydrated  pout?

If we could all sleep on our backs….maybe gravity would be enough. But, I can’t take that chance in my 30’s. Ladies, invest in your skincare while you can, because there’s no going back once you cross the threshold of botox and fillers. 

*Note: The Suspicious 6 (essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical screens, fragrance/dyes, and SLS) are not found in any Drunk Elephant products. They support the International Elephant Foundation and are cruelty-free. 

Pretty Poison

A few months back my nails were practically deceased from using gel nail polish off and on for the past year or so. My nails were literally the strength of cooked noodles. Shocking fact because my nails have always been super strong, which is why I secretly thought they were invincible. Surprise! Jokes on me…Hi, my name is Amber and gel manicures ruined my nails. I’m a recovering pretty poison user. How’d I get here? Gel nails are almost ever-lasting, ridiculously glossy, full of overflowing color options, and all the rage in the nail world. But, even more so, the real beauty and most addicting feature of gel nails is not having to wait for them to dry once your appointment has concluded. We women feel so helpless with wet nails. And since we truly run the world, everything basically stops until we can effectively use our hands again. Gel nails… save lives. So, that’s the backstory on how I became a loyal customer. 

However, this is what I unknowingly signed up for with gel: butylated hydroxyanisol (BHA), a known cancer-causing agent. The National Toxicology Program lists it as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” And, the so-called “Toxic Trio”: dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde. Something tells me you already had an inkling there were harsh chemicals in gel polish because literally everything we touch and/or consume, minus water (I think), causes harm to our bodies. Here are a few more fun facts:  1. It’s very difficult to file off the hard gel without touching the nail plate. This means the removal process can significantly thin the natural nail. 2. Soaking the natural nail in acetone temporarily softens the surface making it more susceptible to damage from any implements that separate, push or force the remaining residual UV coating (gel) from the nail plate. 3. Not only does the nail polish absorb into your skin but think of all the ways your fingers come in contact with your mouth (eating, whistling, nail biting, etc). Toxins are damaging, period. So, if I want healthy painted nails, what’s a girl to do?! 

I even gifted my daughter a set of gel nails. #momfail

After pumping my body with vitamins to bring my nails back to life, I recently stumbled upon the holy grail for me and maybe you too. I quote my recent IG post when I say, I’m so hyped about this nail polish! Now that I’m not up against your monster swiping thumb on Instagram, I have a little more time to elaborate. MiniLux is a California based nail franchise with three locations (West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Brentwood…the OG storefront). Their quest is clean self-care. “We stand for self-care and beauty with a clean conscience. It doesn’t take much to give yourself a little love, hit reset, and show up just for you. Together, we celebrate craft, creativity, and self-expression through mini moments that make you feel good.” Whoever wrote that…I respect your word craft! 

MiniLuxe offers two nourishing nail polish options. Pure Polish is free of the eight most toxic elements present in nail color. These stylish bottles with rose gold tops also contain strong pigmented colors. All made in the USofA. However, I tried and fell in love with their Performance Polish (aka Dazzle Dry). It’s vegan, cruelty-free, full of vitamins, strengthens, dries complete in 5 minutes flat, and removes like basic polish. Did you catch that? I’m basically saying it wears like gel, but removes like regular nail polish. No LED lights required, and it stays put for up to two weeks. Not.even.kidding!

If you suspect your nail relationship is toxic to your health, make an appointment at your local MiniLuxe or shop Dazzle DryThank you gel polish for all the memories, but next.

Birthday Staycation

July 22nd, the day this queen was born, I went to bed completely stuffed with birthday joy, AND I woke up without a lick of guilt looming over my head. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is always another story (rolls eyes). 

Sunday, my Birthday Eve, was spent enjoying all things simple: friendship, belly laughs, flavorful food, mimosas, chauffeured rides, siestas, discovering a new fav place to dine, complimentary desserts, and being woken up to midnight birthday kisses all over my cheek from Lulu (aka best friend and soul sister). I guess that was my birthday theme this year, unelaborate and fulfilling. I wanted to soak it all in with positive people who love and support me. No club scene, no traditional sequin party dress, and definitely no 3-tier birthday cake. I was craving a 24-hour break from the word Mommy mixed in with some self-love, and that’s just what the universe delivered. In the words of June Osborne, praise be!

I floated into the 1 Hotel and let me tell you, what you see online is what you get, but much more (we all know this isn’t always the case). In the common areas there’s beautiful baskets of fresh fruit available, tons of white, beige, and green decor all over the place (ironically my wedding colors, go figure). It’s like being transported into an indoor magical forest of modern impeccable design and detail. A calmness and peace immediately covered my mind and body for the duration of my stay. And to top it off, my room was ready for an early check in at 1:00 pm…ayyyyyy! Birthday blessings and good karma make for unexpected and delightful surprises. 

Photo by 1Hotel

The room! It looked to be the work of Joanna Gaines, the goddess of HGTV. A sustainable art piece: plush white linen couch, textured white walls, floor-to-ceiling windows, beautiful wooden headboard, chalkboard on the nightstand in place of the usual pad and paper, hangers recycled out of homework (the teacher in me was tickled but not pink), a yoga mat (definitely not for me, but I appreciated the gesture), and the sweater-like cozy robe that put me to sleep. It was just what I ordered. At one point, there was a random knock at my door. Turns out the hotel team curated a generous display of sweet treats along with a celebratory message. I felt like a princess! It’s really the little things that mean the most. 

The next morning, I woke up with such gratitude and wholeness, the clouds from the year parted and light was shining all around me. This must be what happiness feels like. So, I danced, entertained myself with a few rounds of karaoke, courtesy of Spotify, had a breakfast-in-bed date with my selfie, a soak in the tub, and enjoyed the company in the room with me, myself, and I.

Birthday takeways: Take time to really appreciate what is pleasurable, nurturing, and sustaining to your soul. Delete or cut (don’t paste) what is annoying, frustrating, and hurtful. Adopt an attitude of gratitude. Be present. Live. 

Writefully So

While almost everything around us continues to evolve, speed up, and offer instant results, we must not forget about those small but mighty gestures. The reality is, we all love receiving cards from our friends and family. Why? Because it shows us how much we are cared for. “Handwriting is intimate and reveals personality. We express emotion when writing a greeting card. Equally time is the most precious thing we have to give, so if we spend time choosing, writing and sending a card we are helping people feel valuable and worthwhile. Who would have thought a greeting card could do so much” (Shaw, Lynda)

Mysydneyjames offers inclusive contemporary greeting cards for almost every occasion or motivational words for your mood board. Either way, you can’t go wrong with this unique collection. Take a peek and make your purchase at Writefully So

Fear vs Want

Trying to figure out your next move? Chasing what we love can lead us to amazing places, and tackling our fears can do the same. Don’t believe me? Check out this journaling exercise that I mentioned on my recent IG post. This should make you a believer!

Journaling Exercise by Krista Suh

Draw two big circles to form a Venn diagram (a great tool for brainstorming and showing relationships). Label one circle “Fear” and the other “Want”. Write down everything you fear and everything you want, but if there’s anything that fits for both, write it in the middle where the two overlap. The place for overlap is where the fairy dust appears and the magic happens. If you want something but you’re fighting against it at the same time, there’s much more to unpack and sort through. You will reap major benefits from pursing what’s in the overlapping section with a laser beam focus.

Venn Diagram

Plus, if you fear something and have no interest in it, this exercise also communicates that we don’t have to take on all of our fears. I have real trepidation when it comes to heights. It even shows up when I’m driving over bridges, through mountains, or along elevated highways. However, while planning a summer trip to Canada, I developed a strong desire to walk across Vancouver’s Capilano Suspension Bridge and experience that raw feeling of accomplishment. It remains one of the best moments in my life, underscoring that my fears won’t stop me from living. On the flip side, I also have an inherited terror of snakes (thanks, Mom). But, I have not one small inkling of desire to hold, touch, or be in the room with this reptile (although, I’m sure they are lovely creatures). Therefore, there is no need for me to focus my energy here. 

Anything out there you doubly fear and want occupies a larger room in your mind. You truly care about it, but have talked yourself out of it with all the ways in which it could go south. So, in this case, would we call these real fears or counterfeit ones? Uncover your happiness the moment you get rid of those imposters living in your head. 

Too Soon for HBD!

“Owning your feelings and your truth.” A simple yet positive vibe that makes me feel empowered (insert power pose) and definitely aligns with my beliefs. Well, I can’t just talk about it…I have to own it through my thoughts and actions.  So, here it is…my truth…deep breath. Turning 36 feels f***ed up and completely terrifying. Besides the intimidating number, (technically speaking, in the world of math, my age rounds up to 40 and in dog years I’m pretty much dead), I’m just not ready. Literally, where has the time gone? I’m a single mom of two with so many more goals and aspirations. It feels like I’m on life’s treadmill. The longer I run, the more tired I get, and eventually I’m going to tap out. Do I have the time and stamina to get to my personal and professional destinations? Wait. Please hold….ok, rewind. The world keeps inserting its expectations and definitions into my thoughts. It’s so easy to let this noise cloud our beliefs. Inside of me is a person waiting to fully emerge. But, in order to successfully do this, I have to spend less of my priceless time focusing on what I could be by cherishing the life I currently have, my truth.

Aren’t we all looking for peace within ourselves; the moment when we can comfortably stop the treadmill and retire to pure greatness, queendom. We want to be the architects for the lives we love, nourish our passions, and walk off that treadmill with no regrets.  For the rest of this year, I’m making a promise to work on staying more present and enjoying the now. I’m proud of who I’am. Why shouldn’t I be. I’m accomplished, a bada** mamma, a good person, a beloved daughter/sister/auntie/friend, always aspiring to be better than yesterday, aka Amber. This is what it looks like to reject the boxes created and recreated for us. Some days are better than others, so we have to constantly put our own selves in check until we no longer have to. This is my life, my path, my choices, my losses, and my gains. I’m feeling right where I should be. Getting older means valuing my odyssey and being true to myself at all costs. This year, getting older means learning to release my fears and enjoy the marathon. 

““Brown down, break through, break the shell, elevate, and fly.” – India Arie

Am I a Lazy Parent?

Here’s the Tea, Mamas

I recently scrolled across an article, by Brooke Hampton (a fellow mommy blogger), on the subject of being a lazy parent. Immediately, at first glance of the title, I became defensive at the idea of someone thinking I don’t already do enough for my lovable little time snatchers. This article better not even hint at the idea, or I might just lose it with my computer screen, I told self. To my surprise, everything this article touched upon left me in a 180 degree wonderment on just how lazy I could be. Unlike helicopter or lawn mower parents, “lazy” parents empower their kids to become independent doers, way before college and the real world starts knocking on the door.  How? You might want to get out a pencil and some paper for this part.  Even the notes feature on your iPhone will suffice. Personally, I still prefer the touch of paper and fancy writing tools, but I digress. Parents don’t usually think to entrust their toddlers with the dishes or their tweens with managing a household budget. So, are they expected to acquire life skills outside of the home when life has no plan to slow down and give them a one-on-one tutoring session? It’s more idealistic to prepare your children for life after childhood with you as their teacher, right? Yes, your toddler is not equipped to handle your favorite William Sonoma dishes that you found for a steal during that holiday sale…trust me, that stresses me out for the both of us. But, why not let him rinse, clean, and dry your fancy treasures with your guidance. Does it take longer? Yes. Does it feel unnecessary in the moment. Yes, again. Your 30 minute dishwashing session just became an hour-long ordeal with an added clean up of the mess your toddler is wearing. However, you are adding life treasures to his piggybank.

Still Undecided?

I get it. The more responsibility we release to our kids, may feel like we are being “lazy” parents. We get into a grind of thinking we should and must do everything.  This mindset allows us to manage our tight schedules with little room for lateness. But, don’t we want our kids to learn for themselves both inside and outside the classroom? I consider the home-front  to be the first place of development and risk taking. While my son learned to talk through our interactions at home, he also learned how to crawl/jump out of his crib. In my home I’m creating, I want my kids to have personal integrity, workplace literacy, civic awareness, and (of course) academic proficiency. Building confidence in kids is key, along with caring parents who have high expectations for their little humans to grow into good people. We all have different parenting approaches and that’s one of the beauties about having your own kids; you get to choose how much therapy they end up needing.  In a world that is constantly judging and criticizing people of all ages, any approach that empowers your kid to feel like the s***, is one worth noting. 

P.S. This is me working harder on being a lazy parent. My kids asked to ride their bikes through the neighborhood, so I followed along to observe their readiness (mine included).


The Genesis

The Genesis

I am…an all-girl high school graduate, empowered to project my voice within a world of male dominance. “Aspire to be a doctor, lawyer, or entrepenuer,” they drilled into me. “Women can achieve the same success as men.” So, I became a feminist. Not a mis’andrist but simply a feminist. I am an advocate for social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

After escaping the bubble wrap I was enveloped in and heading off to college, ready to run the world, I decided to reinvent myself. Well, not so much of a reinvention but more like a remix. Why not? I was still exploring the depths of myself and there was so much more unclaimed territory. At this time, naive and I were the best of friends. I only saw the good in people and managed to dodge more dark clouds than most. I was a bubbly eighteen-year-old, floating down life’s runway.

Itching to express my creativity and passion for film, I strutted into Norris Theater with my coffee colored, vintage Gucci backpack and felt fitted. I studied the phenomenal works of Micheaux, Hitchcock, and Coppola, to name a few. Soon, I found myself entranced with the powers of a camera and a well-executed script. I would from that point on, proudly wear my appreciation and fascination with cinema-television, everywhere life would take me. Perhaps a doctor, lawyer or entrepenuer were better suited for my other cohorts. I preferred to project my voice through my analysis and self-expression of art, whether it be film, television, fashion, music, or beauty. I am a storyteller (through various outlets), lover of fashion not style, music is my therapist, and I fancy the thought of cutting edge makeup to enhance my personal canvas.

Three years later, upon commencement, I was soon forced to add more to this remix. I unexpectedly toddled into parenthood feeling concerned, young, and completely unprepared. Being a “mommy” just wasn’t mentioned in college, or any of my private high school classes and I’m pretty sure that agreement was written in the fine print below the price of tutition. With a great support system and thirteen years of experience under my multicolored leather Louis Vuitton belt, I am a proud mom of two of the sweetest mini people I have ever met.

So, what’s the next part of the remix? How do I combine who I am…an educated, creative, soul who my kids refer to as mom, and further explore the rest of who I am meant to be, without neglecting any of the above? At this point, I’m still working on an answer. However, having a place to voice my ideas, frustrations, concerns and daily rewards along the way, is one reason this blog was born. I’m not looking for approval from anyone; just a place to continue expressing who I am and where I am going. You coming?