Ode to a Face Scrub


I know I’ve talked about my skincare routine ad nauseum already, but I can’t resist raving about my newest obsession: Body Shop’s Seaweed Exfoliator. I received a sample a few weeks ago and finally purchased a full-size bottle. I am in love. It smells great and isn’t too finely gritty, but really sloughs away all of the dead skin and makes my face glow. I only use it every three days or so, at night in conjunction with the Tea Tree Oil Face Wash, otherwise my skin gets too clean (and as a consequence starts overproducing oil to compensate for being scrubbed and dried to oblivion). I only use both of those at night, to take the day off, and I’m still sticking to Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser in the mornings. My skin has never looked better.

My other secret weapon? CVS brand Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5% cream. I slather a thin layer on before bed and it completely stops breakouts from developing. I accidentally gave myself a mini chemical peel by using too much of it once, oops. They make Benzoyl Peroxide in strengths from 2.5-10%, but I won’t even touch anything higher than 2.5% unless I had an interest in burning a hole in my face. It’s probably terrible for me, but it is effective. I’m also spritzing my face with Caudalie Eau de Beauté, which I picked up in Paris, to off-set some of the drying from the Benzoyl Peroxide.

Any skin care regimen secrets you guys have?

Happy Weekend


This is the notebook where I’ve been scribbling and writing away on my book. The big chunk of it resides on my computer (and backed up on my Google Docs cloud drive, because if god forbid my computer crashes and I lose it, I’ll have to be committed), but I’ve found that keeping a notebook on my bedside table is helpful late at night, when the best bursts of inspiration appear. I got into the bad habit of saying, “I’ll remember that in the morning,” and inevitably I never did. So, enter Moleskine. I’ve had it for a few months and it’s been immensely comforting. Sometimes nothing beats pen & paper, despite all of the technological advances we have. I don’t always use my dad’s Mont Blanc I inherited (by stark contrast I mostly use a cheap ballpoint pen I took from the Hilton in Paris last year), but when I do the whole thing just feels reverential and, dare I be so bold, divinely inspired. I mean, it probably does nothing for my actual creativity, but it makes me feel fancy and connected to my dad a bit, so there’s that.

I thought I had the whole story down, with this great linear trajectory of New Year’s to New Year’s, and I mapped out the first six months of the year, developing side characters and story lines and beautiful (in my opinion) bits of dialogue…and then I ended up scrapping it. It’s for the best, the story makes more sense but it’s also pretty much drastically changed from what I thought it was at the beginning, and it’s jarring. Writing is weird. It’s like the story existed out there all along and I’m just a translator for it, an archeologist getting it down on paper, and I was shining my flashlight at only one part of the wall all this time. That might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever written.

What are you guys up to this weekend? Tomorrow JAMAL and I are playing mini-golf and then taking my Mommom out for dinner for her birthday. She turned 88 on Tuesday! Sunday I want to throw the windows open and spend some quality time with that notebook. Have a great one, kiddos.



I’m currently in the middle of reading five books. I was in the middle of reading four, pictured above, and then I went to Barnes and Noble before work yesterday as a morning treat to myself, and ended up buying another two. I’ve already started one. I’m more or less in the middle of all of these four, with the exception of “Writers on Writing,” which I really want to like but am having a hard time getting into. The essays are only two pages or so long, so the tone of each narrative is constantly changing before you have time to adjust, and it’s really jarring. And yes, I’m reading a book about punctuation (“Eats, Shoots & Leaves”), don’t judge me.

Anyway, my to-read list is getting out of hand. I don’t really understand the compulsion to read as many books at one time as I do, but I guess that’s one of life’s mysteries, just like why Tyra Banks consistently picked girls who were “too cutesy” and then berated them for being “too cutesy” in photos. Or why Tyra Banks picked pageant queens and then acted surprised when the girls were plastic-y and rehearsed. Or why Tyra Banks did any of the questionable things she did on America’s Next Top Model (can you tell I got sucked into a marathon this week while JAMAL has been away for work? I had to offset all this reading with something mind-numbing).

I went to Barnes and Noble when they opened at 8am yesterday, and let me tell you, there is something magical and skin-tingly about wandering an empty, just-opened bookstore. There was even someone vacuuming on the 3rd floor as I was browsing. I went in with the intention of only buying “Seven Days in the Art World” and then as I was coming down the escalator, something else caught my eye.



“Paris” by Edward Rutherfurd is a whopping 806 page long behemoth. It’s beautiful. It’s an historical fiction spanning multiple centuries and I knew the moment I saw it I had to buy it. I’m waiting to finish the other five (FIVE! it’s insane!) before I dive into this one, because I have a feeling this will require a lot of my attention. Also, and I know you’re not supposed think this, it has one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen. So far, “Seven Days” is incredible. It’s an insider’s account of all aspects of the art world, including art fairs, auctions, artist critiques, and art review magazines. I am in heaven.

What are you guys reading these days? I promise I won’t rush out and buy any of your suggestions. If I buy any more books I’ll have to quit my job and sit home and read all day. NEW LIFE PLAN.

The Great Gatsby


Inarguably one of my favorite books of all time, “The Great Gatsby” has stayed with me ever since I read it in high school. I re-read it every year or two, and find new things about it, parts of dialogue that stick out more than the last time, and I fall in love with it all over again. My friend Tom used to joke that he was going to get the last paragraph of the book tattooed on his arm…in Swedish. I get the sentiment, loving a book so much you want to forever keep it as close to you as possible. There’s something about the last line, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” that just makes me weak in the knees.

So when I saw this collage of various Gatsby covers, a collection spanning 83 years from F. Scott Fitzgerald biographer and scholar Matthew J. Bruccoli, in last week’s T Magazine, my jaw dropped. The collection includes a few different languages and artistic interpretations, including the iconic blue cover by artist Francis Coradal-Cugat. The version I have isn’t shown, funnily enough. It goes without saying that this is basically book porn for me. The collection is now housed at the University of South Carolina and is worth several million dollars. Bruccoli didn’t care about the money, saying “You don’t buy books as an investment,” he said. “You buy them because it gives you pleasure to read them, to touch them . . . to see them on shelves.” Amen.

Paris Flower Markets



I found these photos in my Paris 2013 folder last night while cleaning up  my computer. They apparently didn’t make the cut for my recap of vacation photos after we got back from Paris in March, but I think they’ll do just fine for a grey day like today. These were taken in the rain on Rue Cler on our very first day there. Oh, how I would love to have ubiquitous flower markets on every corner in my own city. Parisians really know how to live. Inexpensive, readily available flowers, wine, and cheese on every street. A rainy day in Paris even beats a rainy day here. But that doesn’t surprise anyone, now does it?

What are you up to this weekend, kiddos? My brother’s birthday is Sunday so we’re getting together to celebrate. My cold is abating (yay!) so I’m hoping I have a productive weekend of writing, as well.

Watercolor Maps

Have you guys heard of Stamen? Chalk this up to one of the cooler things I’ve found on Pinterest. You can make maps of anywhere in the world in a variety of stylized versions, including watercolor. So obviously, my first thought was PARIS WATERCOLOR MAP.



Suddenly Philadelphia looks a whole lot prettier. Paris always looks pretty, I don’t care what sort of artistic overlay you give to that city.

I’m back to work today for the first time in two days. I’ve been home sick with what I’m pretty sure isn’t bird flu, but still totally felt like bird flu, what with all the hacking. I didn’t have a fever, but oh, there was a lot of phlegm. And now that I’ve successfully nauseated all of you, I’ll go ahead and wrap this post up.

Oh, Fitzwater.


I meant to write about this sooner but I’ve been having problems processing it all, so traumatizing was the whole thing.

Last Friday night, Fitz ate both of JAMAL’s parents’ pill boxes, the kinds with the day-of-the-week compartments, while we were out to dinner. His parents were down visiting for the weekend and left them on the table, not realizing I guess that the dog is a lunatic and only days piror had managed to pull a brand new loaf of white bread off the kitchen counter, devour the whole thing, most of the plastic included, and then poop on our floor. Let me tell you, the blind panic that washes over you when you walk into the house and see two empty, mangled pill boxes on the floor is something I never want to experience again. I almost passed out.

Fitz didn’t even seem embarrassed, let alone sick, but we started carefully compiling a list of what he could have possibly ingested before we called our vet and animal poison control. Here’s what we came up with: 800mg of baby aspirin, 9000mg of fish oil, 6000mg of calcium supplements, 3000mg of CoQ10, blood pressure medication, multivitamins, and gummy vitamins. The animal poison control hotline (which definitely went up in price since the last time I called when Fitz ate a box of matches, from $35 to $65) recommended we go to the closest pet emergency room, and our vet said the same thing. So we got in the car at 10pm and drove over to University of Pennsylvania’s animal hospital, thankfully only a quick drive away. The place was packed. Packed! Someone saw us right when we came in and scooped Fitz out of our arms (we were carrying him not because he was sick, but because there were other dogs in the waiting room and he would spaz out) and took him to the back where they induced vomiting to get as much as they could out of his system. Thus began a three hour long waiting process.

We spoke with the attending vet several times throughout the night, and he kept us updated on what they were doing and what they had found. Fitz, meanwhile, was in the back howling his head off like he was on a hunt and had found a fox, thank you Beagle-genes. The crowd in the waiting room slowly started to dissolve around midnight, when it was just us and another couple who brought their Shih Tzu in after a dog bite. Fitz was given a dose of activated charcoal to bind whatever  toxins were left in his body. Calcium in high doses can be lethal, apparently, but the vets never pushed anything on us and asked for our permission for everything they did. Like we were going to say no, or something? “This can save your dog but it’s about $40.” “Ew, no.”

Finally, at 1am Fitz was discharged with a prescription of Pepcid to help his stomach, and the funniest discharge paperwork I’ve ever seen.


“Fitz has a history of eating things which he should not eat.” That is going on my grave. Not his, mine, because this dog is surely going to be the death of me.

We went home and Fitz conked right out, exhausted from the long experience. We all slept until 10:15am the next morning, which has never, ever happened as long as I’ve known JAMAL or had Fitz. Neither of them are capable of sleeping past 8am. Fitz went out on his walk, and came back in and looked a little woozy. He plopped down on the rug by the front door and wouldn’t move, even when called or taunted with toys. Nothing. We finally got him into a sitting position and made him walk over to us, and that’s when we realized his back legs weren’t working. At all. He was walking like he was drunk. JAMAL scooped Fitz and set him on the sofa, where he proceeded to wheeze weirdly, until I hysterically called Penn Vet Hospital again and then told us to come back in. AGAIN. We had left a mere nine hours before, but we had to go back because something was clearly wrong with Fitz. I spend the whole ride crying, holding him on my lap as he shook.

Don’t worry, he didn’t die, but it certainly felt like a possibility at the time. We spent another three hours at the hospital Saturday morning, where the vet determined Fitz had likely strained something in his lumbar during the “aggressive” vomiting from the night before, and that he wasn’t suffering from some neurological deficit caused by, and I believe the medical terminology is, Being an Asshole and Eating a Pharmacy. This time we were given more hilarious paperwork claiming Fitz was “an adorable patient!” and a scrip for Tramadol, with strict orders to rest him for two weeks. Tramadol is a hell of a drug, if you’ve ever taken it, and it’s made Fitz super sleepy and calm. I want to give it to him all the time.


So that’s the story of how we spent $300 on a stomach pump and both needed a stiff drink afterwards. The rest of the weekend passed without issue, though we’re back to crating Fitz anytime we’re not home (this must seem like the most “DUH” move of all, but whatever, we’re learning). The vet warned us Fitz could have wicked stomach upset over the whole thing, but the only adverse side effect we’ve noticed is that his royal highness will now only eat his dinner if we put the bowl on the sofa next to him. We did that the first two days because he was too achey to stand on the floor and eat normally, and now he scoffs at you unless you bring him his food. What a diva.

Just kidding. I love you, Fitzwater. You crackhead.

Hang in There, Boston.


photo / quote by Willa Cather

My dad and I spent a week in Boston and Salem every summer for a number of years growing up. My dream college was there,  my dad’s friends were there, it was like no other city in the country. Smaller and nicer than New York, and simultaneously foreign enough from and similar to Philly to be exciting and the perfect place to stretch my wings after high school. Not everything works out the way you planned, and I had to content myself with coming back to school here after the fall semester, but I never really let go of Boston, even though I haven’t been back since.

The bombing yesterday at the Boston marathon broke my heart. I left work early yesterday and got home a little before 4pm. I turned the tv on and it felt surreal. A senseless act upended what was supposed to be a joyous tradition and a celebration of human endurance, that despite the best efforts of those behind the terror, was still a celebration of human endurance. Watching marathoners and spectators run towards those injured to  help, not knowing if there was a third bomb or more danger, proved more about the capacity for bravery and kindness than accomplishing 26.2 miles. I still don’t understand why someone would want to do this to innocent people, but we’ll never understand terrorists. I’m not focusing on them. I’m focusing on the light and overwhelming human spirit exhibiting by those who helped yesterday.

Hang in there, Boston.

I’m Ready

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I had a dream I was back in Paris last night. It wasn’t anything splashy or iconically Parisian, no vistas of the city or accordion music. But we went to Ladurée and I ordered macarons en Français and then we went to a poetry reading (?). I need to be there now. It’s been a month and two days and I’m ready to go back again. Especially after seeing this video, by photographer Andrew Julian, on how amazing Paris in the winter (duh, I could have told you that, though not as beautifully). I’m watching this on repeat today and looking at flights. I’m ready to go back.