27 December 2013

Crossing Kensington

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18 December 2013

The Getting of Grit

The acquisition of grit, strength of character, was a crucial aspect of my upbringing. I was raised to be an independent thinker. Naturally, there were moments when I desired to be merely one in a crowd. That route, the one more traveled, seemed easier. But indifference for others' opinions of me shattered any chance I had of being in the majority.

I form my own opinions without any regard for political correctness. I argue using evidence to support my claims. If I were a politician, you would never see my stance sway. Lukewarm, I am not.

I do not understand how one expects to have the courage of one's convictions, if one does not have any convictions. "It's not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are," said Roy Disney. Making a decision and seeing it through with perseverance stems from strong character.

Like the foundation of a building, grit is so significant to success. 

17 December 2013

Trainer Days

I have been enjoying my fair share of trainer days due to an increase in weekly standing hours. I build my ensemble around the retro, low profile New Balance 420. The crossing of Kensington Gardens is a walk on air.
Trainer Day


11 December 2013

Make A Life

Making a life gets pushed to the back burner when one is so busy making a living. I know the feeling. For me, it resulted from the execution of unpleasant work, void of breaks and culminated in lack of enthusiasm for dressing suitably. I have no desire to ever return to that overworked, anxious state of mind. Instead, I will be spontaneously this holiday season.

Kick Your Heels Up


09 December 2013

Royal Academy Till

It is customary to conclude my exhibit visits with the purchase of corresponding postcards. Thus, after taking in Daumier (1808-1879): Visions of Paris at the Royal Academy, I took advantage of the opportunity to select a perfectly pocket sized Daumier print. I elected my favorite lithograph, Nadar, élevant la photographie à la hauteur de l'Art. In this 1862 work, Daumier depicts Nadar, the first aerial photographer, in a hot air balloon, whimsically capturing Paris from above. The subject's windswept hair, disregard for his unstable top hat and bellowing coat-tails convey the photographer's enjoyment of his craft.

I decided two postcards bearing this image where necessary. One to remind myself of the importance of enjoyment in the workplace and one to send that vital message to a friend. Dreaming of ballooning above Paris, I approached the till. "There is a five pound minimum," said the cashier, shattering my vision. I withdrew my bank card. S. kindly lent me £1.40. My adoration of Daumier's satire of the 19th century "photography as art" debate continued.
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05 December 2013

Notebook and Pen

I set out in search of pizza. I held notebook in my left hand and pen in my right. As I rounded the corner, I thought how typical it was for my accessories of the moment to be writing related. I smiled at the perfection of it all. I have always been that girl with her notebook and pen.
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30 November 2013

House: A Castle

One must make house a castle and spend time there.
Home: A Castle


25 November 2013

Signature Scent

The search for a signature scent is taxing. The French, Diptyque, was the first brand I investigated if only to see their photogenic candles in person. Liberty and John Lewis played hosts to my French fragrance hunt.  On both smelling sprees, Eau Duelle emerged as my favorite. With other options to pursue, I pressed on, this time to the British brand, Jo Malone.

The assistance I received at the Jo Malone boutique was unparalleled. I met every single scent in just about every single form (perfume, eau de toilette, candle, room fragrance) but was not captured by any of them. However, Lime Basil and Mandarin did raise an eyebrow of interest. The possibility of making a custom scent by layering more than one looked grim. I could not decide on one scent, let alone two. My nose could not bear to extend the smelling session and I planned to revisit this raved about brand in the distant future.

Back to the French I went, in the form of Chanel. I owed Coco a chance to sway me. It was a brief confrontation. Nothing she had to offer was slightly impressive; not Number 5 , Number 19, or Chance, did I give a chance.

Dior swooped in for an opportunity to impress and Christian did not disappoint. I approached the Dior boutique. Miss Dior and I had already gotten fairly acquainted via Autumn 2013 advertisements featuring Natalie Portman in a black dress. At our actual meeting, I was swept into the perfect dream that only perfume can induce. I insisted on meeting J'adore and Addict for protocol's sake, only to leave with Miss Dior. We are spending every day together. Only if I purchase more when her 30 ounces are up will she be cemented as a signature scent. Time will tell. 
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21 November 2013

How to Be Type B (Particularly for the Type A Variety)

1. Spend less time being impatient.
2. Be whimsical - do things on a whim.
3. Do not work seven days a week.
4. Go to sleep at a decent time and minimize unnecessary moments of worry.
5. Rise early to seize the stillness of morning, not to check the same email inbox you looked at eight hours ago.
6. Spend lunch break away from workplace.
7. Turn off the Internet.
8. Make home a castle and spend time there.
9. Reflect on the day and be thankful for it.
10. Read a book for pure enjoyment.
11. Drink water when thirsty, not after completing several "imperative" endeavors.
Acknowledge growth. 
13. Consider what is happening now to be most important.
14. Do not anxiously anticipate opportunities in the future, while unaware of the one taking 

      place at this very moment. They are actually called blessings and are limitless.
15. Celebrate small achievements with a macaroon or truffle.
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18 November 2013

Twenty Pretty Pounds

I was pleasantly surprised when I met the pound. It is gold, one of my favorite colors and bears the image of Her Majesty The Queen. The varying designs on the reverse represent the United Kingdom and its four constituent parts. The GBP is heavier, prettier and more powerful than the USD. A weighted purse is a small sacrifice for beautiful currency and substantial buying power. 
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15 November 2013

Acquiring the Classic Ballet

Step 1: Selection
The interior, body, insole and sole of the ballet flat should be made of leather. It is acceptable to have some sort of cotton lining over the leathered interior. The height of the heel should be between 1-1.6 cm. Combined with the height of the insole, your heel should rise approximately 2 cm from the ground. Cheap ballets, consisting of man-made materials, tend to be very flat and offer no support. Quality is at the heart of selecting a pair of classic ballets (or any shoe for that matter). And no, your ballet flats should not bend in half.

Step 2: The Tap
Once you have selected your classic ballet flat, it is time to pay a visit to your cobbler. You need to ask him to place taps on the heels. These may be made of either plastic or metal. They are hammered into the upper right area of the right heel and upper left area of the left heel. This protects the heel from rapid wear. Bid goodbye to your cobbler. You will be visiting him again.

Step 3: The Bow Tie
If your ballets do not come with an adjustable and/or self-tie string, you may proceed to step 4. If the loose string on your shoes is meant to be self-tied, step 3 is crucial.

a) Turn your ballets, toe box is facing towards you.

b) Begin by crossing right string over left string, with a pull, to make a knot.

c) Then make two loops (a.k.a. bunny ears).

d) Cross the right loop in front of the left loop.

e) The left loop then goes over the right and through the middle hole. Pause - do not tighten the knot just yet.

f) The right loop then goes to the back of the hole and through to the middle. Now you may pull on the knot to tighten.

g) Arrange the tails of your bow. 

For visual instructions with sub-steps d-f please view The Ultimate Knot

Step 4: The Initiation Outing 
After tying your perfect ballet bows, get ready to take them outside for a stroll. The socks you wear with your flats should not show, unless they are a deliberate component to your look. You may have to shop around until you find an ideal pair of no-show socks. But keep in mind, the perfect socks for your perfect flats do exist. Take a stroll down the pavement, steering clear of gravel. You are preparing your soles for step 5 and need them to be a little worn, but by no means punctured. This step could have been completed manually by the cobbler, but I take pride in doing it myself. Once you have scuffed up the soles of your shoes, you need to revisit your cobbler.

Step 5: The Rubber Sole 
Ask your cobbler to apply a thin rubber sole to your flats. In the past, I have requested oval shaped anti-slip pads. But recently, I have decided on the superiority of the thin rubber sole, due to its durable nature. The rubber sole protects your ballets from puncture, preparing them for outings in the city.

Step 6: Your Moment
Once you have completed the ballet flat acquiring process, it is time to live and relish the imperfections of life. It is time to sing and dance like no one is watching...read, write and speak like you have a sense of self...be yourself... make a mark on this world, your way...never compare yourself to others...be chic in your own right.

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14 November 2013

Twinings Spell

My earnest attempt to live at a slower pace has affected my tea drinking habits. I find the steeping of tea in a pot, tranquil. A cup and saucer have become imperative, along with the ten minutes I set aside to enjoy my favorite drink. Twinings products have quickly multiplied in my pantry. Clearly, I have made it a personal rule never to deny myself opportunities to indulge in a wide variety of tea.
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09 November 2013

Required Rest

Day of Rest


07 November 2013


No school or profession has ever required me to wear a uniform. However, I have adopted my own version of uniformity that I find most appropriate when doing battle of the academic kind. Lately it seems that combat in the library has been taking place everyday. Thus, every day I am dressed in some version of the outfit below. Dissertation disorder rages on.

01 November 2013

Operation Smythson

I arrived home to find a pack of biscuits paired with a lovely note from Y. Immediately I was placed in an urgent situation. There was not one sheet of Smythson nor an accompanying envelope upon my desk. It was impossible for me to fashion a note of thanks. Amidst the bustle of daily demands, I had not been prepared to find myself the target of such a thoughtful, unpredictable gesture. Two days later (thank you note already overdue), I made my way along Sloane Street with intention. Only when I had selected the White Laid Kings writing paper and envelopes did I allow for leisurely browsing. Needless to say, I penned my note of appreciation the moment I returned to my desk. I hastily placed the sealed envelope with an assortment of chocolates in a small, plastic Peter Jones bag. I ran to Y's door like a student delivering an overdue assignment. Adjusting the bag around the door handle, I was met with relief. Operation Smythson was complete. 
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28 October 2013

Peace After the Storm

The storm had passed. I observed the fallen leaves through the window while checking my email. "To reiterate, the class on class is cancelled," wrote Professor L. Having spent the last three days dissecting David Felman's chapter titled Class in Burke's History and Historians in the Twentieth Century, I was a bit disappointed. Fallen trees had evidently 
taken away my chance to discuss the works of Eric Hobsbawm and E.P. Thompson with peers.

Like Queen Anne realizing the potential for Ascot, I seized the opportunity to visit the British Museum on a week day. I had just been there the day before but the madness of the masses cut my visit short. Needless to say, I reinforced my policy of not going out on weekends.

Taking up my tote and trench, l hastened to the bus stop. Upon swiping my Oyster card, I reveled in the emptiness of the red bus. Seating myself by the wheelchair area I dreamt I would be able to claim just as much personal space in the museum. Greedily, I imagined myself in the presence of the Rosetta Stone sans tourists.

As I ascended the steps and passed between the Ionic columns, museum goers spilled out of the main entrance bordering Great Russell Street. Once inside I was relieved to not meet my death by crowd suffocation. Sitting on the floor unaccompanied in the King's Library
 was the pinnacle of my trip.
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23 October 2013


I made a right turn from Knightsbridge, abandoning the view of Harvey Nichols. The stoop that surrounded the side of Burberry was appealing. I wanted nothing more than to sit on it to physically claim out a space for myself. I drew as close to the stoop as I could without actually sitting. According to the map, Harrods was just around the corner. "Go to Harrods," J.H. and K.B. had instructed. I continued my turn onto Brompton Road and took a moment to mentally applaud my navigating ability. I looked right and then left, recognizing that my instinct to look the correct way for oncoming traffic had been committed to implicit memory. Tourists were photographing Charles William Stephens' epic structure. I felt inclined to follow their example before heading inside. I am not in the market for a £1,000 bag today, I thought. But if I were, I would know exactly were to go. I traveled uninterested, through the sea of decadence . When I landed upon the books, I was amused but did not take time to browse intensely, bearing in mind the impact books have on the weight of a suitcase. Omnia Omnibus Ubique, goes the Harrods motto. Having brought myself to the food hall, I was still doubtful of the store's potential to fascinate me. Then I began to crave chocolate and inquired after its location. For the rest of my visit I swirled around in the fine company of Prestat and chocolate by Harrods. Truffles by the former were consumed before exiting the food hall, despite notices asking costumers to refrain. A chocolate bar by the latter was enjoyed on the walk home westward on Knightsbridge.
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17 October 2013


It took 2 1/2 weeks for me to finally feel settled in London. I am at greater liberty to move at a slower pace.

I make a greater effort to chew my food instead of practically swallowing it whole. By food I mean that which I cook myself. I discovered, just because a restaurant is full (even with what seem to be repeat customers) that does not mean the food is edible. Here, restaurants with exceptional food need to  be purposefully sought out. One does not stumble upon good food easily like one does in New York.

Not only can I now cross a 5th Avenue sized street but I have slowed my walk to a carefree stroll. This decrease in speed due mainly because I walk so often that I get tired but also it is a way to observe my new city under a microscope.

The science of my shopping usually takes the form of a mission. I prefer to go solo and with purpose. But now that I am in Europe (sort of) I am desperate to thrift, a process that calls for patience. After seeing The Words (2012), I dreamt of finding old manuscripts in old briefcases. There is nothing like a primary source to a historian in the making. 

Homework at the postgraduate level consists of independent reading. Thus I am obligated to devour Smuts' The Court and its neighbourhood: royal policy and urban growth in early Stuart London while luxuriating at Banqueting House. When I wear out my welcome under Rubens's ceiling, the London Eye is a 14 minute walk away, well maybe 22 with my newly perfected stroll. 


11 October 2013

London in Autumn

London in Autumn


04 October 2013

Reflections on Day Five

I have been in London for five days and have not seen anything.

The vacuum cleaner is called the hoover. It has a face and its name is Henry. He does not clean well.

Vehicles will not readily yield to pedestrians. Since I am not yet fully confident when crossing the street when it is my turn, this has been problematic. I am however getting used to looking the correct way for oncoming traffic.

A salesperson will not readily assist you. You must ask for help when needed. The United Kingdom is a country of negative politeness.

Curtains and cotton bedding at John Lewis were well worth the price. I did not know people actually bought polycotton sheets. 

The flat sheet, fitted sheet and pillowcase are all sold separately. I have yet to see them sold together in one pack - "it's like à la carte but without food," jokes best friend.

There is a music room, TV room, laundry room, computer room, study room and bar. There is not a fitness center.

There is no wine at the bar? That's the only thing I drink.

It took four days to find a Brita.

"They gave you four burners and a microwave?" asks Mommy. 
"No," I say. " They gave me two burners and a microwave."
"I guess they want you to use the microwave instead of an oven. I guess that's why they call it a microwave oven."

The light and the light switch may not be located in the same room.

The Underground is actually way under ground. The deepest station in central London is Bank at 41.4 metres (136ft) below street level.

Floor 1 is a floor above the ground floor.

White seedless grapes from M&S = perfection. I ate a whole container of them in one day.

I have been to Nando's twice in 5 days.

A party can actually be lame, in which case it is perfectly alright to leave. Fergie says, "a little party never killed nobody." But a lame one certainly has a drowning effect. 

I need a pair of Chelsea boots. Everyone else has them.

The women here really know how to work the black tight.

1 USD = 1.77 GBP

7 pounds tip is too much for a 19 pounds taxi trip. 

Taxis should be used only if absolutely necessary. The Transport for London is fantastic.

"The Oyster card? I really want some oyster crackers," I thought while at Gloucester Road.

Settling in a new city takes time. I will keep calm, and carry on.


05 September 2013

Lessons from the Workplace

No one could have prepared me for the nonsense that ensues in the workplace. Having a job has drawn my attention to the fabricated nature of outward appearance.

A manager may be handsome but lack leadership ability. Owners of a company may pride themselves on an open door management style but resist all suggestions for improvement. An employee may execute her job to the fullest of her ability but still become the victim of sabotage while management turns a blind eye.

In a climate where promotions are given to people who abuse authority due to personal insecurities, it is necessary that I declare my limits.

I will not unreasonably flatter someone with the purpose of inching my way into his good graces. I do not show up to the office to pretend that I am still in high school. Acquiring fast, fake friends is not my objective.

I will not complete tasks clearly designated to someone else. In every workplace there exist an employee who reckons his work is beneath him and attempts to pawn off his work on the one employee ignorant enough to accept it.

I will not be spoken to or treated in a condescending manner. This stifles any opportunity for honest communication.

Management's acceptance of my fundamental principles secures our professional bond until I discover mutual respect was feigned on the leadership's side. Disorder sets in when management is exposed for deviating from its existence as an unbiased independent body. When the leader becomes a puppet persuaded heavily by employee(s) who do not hold any management responsibilities and when rewards and recognition are based on favoritism and not work ability, it is impossible for me to salvage anything positive from the wreckage that was once my job.

When all of my principles are breached and I am treated with disdain, thought of as lazy for attending to my assigned tasks only and looked at as insignificant for not exhibiting obsequious behavior, it is time for me to resign and count down to greater things.


10 August 2013

Navy Neutral

When summer is interrupted by a premature autumn breeze, I become anxious for the forthcoming season, which signals new beginnings. I begin to assess my collection of clothes to determine which autumn essentials to place on my list of things to acquire. For the past seven years, navy staples, neutral bags, and gold shoes have dominated the top of that list; unshakable, familiar and perfect when diving into unfamiliar endeavors.

Navy Neutral


18 July 2013

City Face

He observed me as we both were taken above ground by the escalator. Our common trajectory glided us through the building corridor. Dark sunglasses masked his eyes and he wore an oversized white tee shirt. Usually I press along the city streets with songs like Florence and the Machine's Howl to pick up my steps. Lack of music amplifies comments from uncivilized city people and in this instance I heard him inquire after my uninviting facial expresion.

"Oh!" I exclaimed. "That's just my city face." I explained that I was still evaluating the success rate of the stowed away smile against unwanted recognition by strangers.

He was amazed by my wit and asked where I was from. I accosted his expectations and took my rightful stand as a city girl.

"What is your name," he asked, struggling to sound intellectual by omitting grammatical contractions. 

At that moment my lapse of judgment ceased and I realized we had been in each others presence for one minute too long.

"I don't think that's very important," I shot. Sharply I turned on my heels. My black dress swerved with me as I crossed the street, my nose held high.


09 July 2013

City Summer Black

The New York Girl does not labor over her look but chooses her outfit with purpose. Since a New York minute is shorter than a minute elsewhere, the NYC Girl must be extraordinarily efficient with her 24 hours. There is no time for reneging on first, second and third ensembles while the day is waiting to be seized.
No matter where she ventures in Manhattan, no one will question her decision to wear black, even in 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The little black dress is a summer staple in The City and perfect for play in the 10021, 10022, and the 10128. 
Minimal makeup and nail polish are her only necessary accessories. Footwear options are unlimited, like the number of sustenance-selling establishments for which she stays ready.
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27 June 2013

The Always Appropriate Ten

A cup of tea is always appropriate. One is entitled to tea breaks. Period.

Of all cosmetics, mascara is the most fun to apply. It also boasts the quickest application time besides lip gloss.

A spritz of perfume or body spray is always becoming. A signature scent or perhaps two or three is highly encouraged. One should bear in mind the goal is not to overpower. This is not a war. 

It is impossible to regret a bit of reading, unless the book of choice is L.W.'s Chasing Harry Winston (pretty on the outside, rubbish on the inside).

One should always take an extra step. Climb stairs instead of utilizing the lift. Volunteer to pick up the office lunch instead of requesting delivery. Travel on foot as much as one's allotted time, attire and footwear allow.

A conversation with a loved one is always opportune, especially on emotionally fatiguing days.

When offered water, one should always accept, unless the lavatory is an abnormally far distance or the water is offered by a shady individual under shady circumstances.

A look in the mirror reminds one of who one must live with. Improvements (and I do not mean those that take place under the knife) can not be made if one does not assess. Besides one must gage the success of one's outfit so as not to repeat dreadful wardrobe pairings.

One must have a favorite song. Therefore one should listen to it whenever one feels inclined, unless said song happens to be the work of the low-rent rapper set. Disclaimer: One's favorite song should be not be played to the general public from one's cell phone.

One should make use of one's please and thank you. Even if one was not raised right, one does not have to announce one's bad upbringing.

09 April 2013

Implicit Memory

The building of implicit memory is exhausting. Grasping a new task is difficult but every time one performs the task in question, it becomes a bit easier each instance. Procedural memory by definition is built by repeating a procedure. Recalling the process by which one learned tasks in the past can serve as evidence that new tasks will be firmly comprehended with practice. Nonetheless it may be extremely difficult to envision oneself effortlessly performing the new task at hand due to silly, literal belief in the “seeing is believing” idiom. In the words of Martha Graham, “Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles…” It is the enemy of self-doubt that has the power to divert one’s path off the road of progress. One must persevere with a little faith tucked away in one’s pocket. Eventually one learns to soar.  photo a710afce-b0fc-4569-af05-234903693851_zpsbf4d354e.jpgM.J.W.

20 March 2013

Rain New York

In New York City rain does not suffice as justification for an insufficient outfit. When in The City, one should allow oneself to be inspired by the relentlessness embodied in the souls of New Yorkers. One should rise above the precipitation for the opening of the skies is merely a drizzle to the resilient city dweller. One does not put off the wearing of Versace due to rain. Like events held in Bryant Park, the show (or the displaying of one’s A-line skirt) must go on.

Precipitation rarely brings sporting events to a halt. Likewise wet weather should not halt the silent display of one's fabulousness. "I want to wear it but its raining" should stop at "I want to wear it." Styling plans one has for oneself should be followed through during rain time. Hunter wellies, monogrammed canvas tote, compact umbrella and trench coat serve as smart armor during downpour.

Once the journey has concluded with one's arrival on dry land (The Met, Sarabeth's, Sotheby's), wellies may inconspicuously give way to pumps, umbrella and trench hung to dry, and delightful smile surfaced at one's triumph over the elements.

Rain New York City

10 January 2013

Winter Floral

"Florals? For spring? Ground breaking," remarked frosty Miranda Priestly. Jocelyn's response to the editor's call for suggestions regarding accessories in the April issue of Runway sank in a sea of half-filled Pellegrino bottles. "Well...they're showing a lot of florals right now, so I was thinking..." was the insufficient beginning that had warranted a characteristically appropriate interruption from the shrewd occupier of the chief editorship.

Perhaps if Jocelyn had been sitting in a board meeting dedicated to the October issue she may have had an opportunity to finish her sentence. For it is common knowledge that autumn and winter florals (which often present themselves in the shape of pants) break more ground than predictable spring florals (which have been exhibiting their commonness for years in dress form), therefore rendering them spectacular. 



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