Friday, August 21, 2015

The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

I read the most inspiring book last week and have to say that this kick ass book is a total game-changer! The author published this classic in 1959 and it continues to remain relevant and something I should probably read every year.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is wants more out of life in terms of career growth and relationships because it holds the power to transform your mindset in your life. It’s a manual for success by building confidence in yourself because typically a person's thinking is always in the process of becoming small and marginalizing itself. The book is a powerful reminder of the great things that can be accomplished with the right attitude so I found it a very effective motivational tool. This is an absolute must read in how to create a success plan in life. The best part is he summarizes the main points at the end of every chapter. Here are some excerpts I found insightful:

"Blaming others is destructive. You gain absolutely nothing from "proving" that someone else is wrong. Have the courage to be your own constructive critic. Seek out your faults and weaknesses and then correct them."

"Acquire the quality of relaxed easy-going so that things do not ruffle you. Be extremely careful to avoid the petty cut him-down language. Before complaining or accusing someone ask yourself 'is it really important? In most cases, it isn't and you avoid conflict."

"The successful people are active; we'll call them activationists. The just average people, the mediocre and unsuccessful are passive. We'll call the passivationists. Mr. Activationist is a doer. He takes action, gets things done, follows through on ideas and plans. Mr. Passivationist is a "don'ter. He postpones doing things until it's too late. Example Mr. A  decides he should attend church regularly. He does. Mr. P thinks it's a good idea to go to church regularly too, but he finds ways to postpone acquiring this new habit. In the end Mr. A gets things done and gains confidence and self-reliance. Mr. P doesn't get the things done he wants done because he won't act. Thus he loses confidence in himself, destroys his self-reliance, lives in mediocrity."

"Ever notice how seldom children complain about the weather?  They take hot weather in stride. Complaining about the weather makes you more miserable and it spreads misery to others.  Other people want to be around alive, enthusiastic people. Being around complainers and half-dead people is uncomfortable."

"Remember, your appearance "talks." Be sure it says positive things about you. Never leave home without feeling certain you look like the kind of person you want to be. People do evaluate you on the basis of your appearance because it is the first basis for evaluation other people have. The well-dressed person's appearance says positive things. It tells people, "Here is an important person: intelligent, prosperous, and dependable. This man can be looked up to, admired, trusted."

"Pay twice as much and buy half as many. With everything you wear, quality is far more important than quantity. Your garments will last more than twice as along because they are more then twice as good.  You owe it to others, but more important, you owe it to yourself to look your best. Your appearance says here is a person who has self-respect, so treat him that way. Go first class: that is an excellent rule to follow in everything you do, including the goods and services you buy. "But I can't afford to go first class." The simplest answer is: you cannot afford to go any other way. It's better to have fewer things and have quality than to have many things and have junk."


"The person who does the most talking and the person who is the most successful are rarely the same person. The more successful the person, the more he practices conversation generosity, he encourages the other person to talk. Conversation generosity helps you learn more about people."

"One characteristic of successful people: enthusiasm. Always spread good news because it garners enthusiasm and please people. No one ever won a friend by broadcasting bad news."

"Average people recent progress. Soak up all the good ideas you can. Be an experimental person."

"We've found an amazingly close correlation between a person's job respect and his job performance. Impressed when a job applicant thinks his present job is important, even though there may be something about it he doesn't like."

"If you mispronounce or misspell someone's name, that person feels that you feel he is unimportant. Learn to remember names.  The most important person present is the one person most active in introducing himself. Drop a personal note or make a phone call to the new friends you feel you want to know better. Go out of your way to meet new people."

"Being fired from a job can be a blessing in disguise. You might not really like the job much and might have stayed there and never have gone far. Now you have a chance to find something you really like to do. The difference between success and failure is found in one's attitudes toward setbacks."

"Prolonged association with negative people makes us think negatively; close contact with petty individuals develops petty habits in us."

"Compliment people at every possible opportunity."

"Set monthly goals for yourself of accomplishment. You will only accomplish what you set out to do. The most regarding kind of investment is self-investments, building mental power and proficiency. Set goals to get more energy. Set goals to get things done."

Check out this post of mind about goal crushing.

Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After | Foxy's Domestic Side
Puppies & Pretties | Making the Most of Everyday
Mishaps & Mayhem of Solitary Life | A Lovely Little Wardrobe




There's a phrase I like that goes "look better than you feel." We're judged on how we look, fair or not fair, and I'm not talking about vanity here. So if you're in a hurry, or just running errands or feeling under the weather, you always want to present your best self when you step outside of your home because it says you respect yourself and thus you demand the respect of others. A good example is a man in a suit will be treated with more regard than a woman who shows up in yoga pants for a plane ride (check out this article).  

I thought his comment on not buying cheap clothing was really insightful. Just to be clear, this is not about buying designer clothes and spending a lot of money, he's just saying cheap looks cheap.  It's better to have a few nice quality shoes, that are constructed well, than to have a zillion cheap shoes that hurt your feet and look raggedly. Both collections of shoes end up costing the same, the volume is just different. 



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen Cookbook


My favorite food blogger released a cookbook! I'm working my way through the book and created a meal plan for two weeks. To make my life simple I ate the same breakfast, lunch and dinner for the course of the week. The book has 220 recipes but only a few color photographs. She lists her stable ingredients for a vegan pantry, things I already stockpile like  nutritional yeast, lentils, quinoa, cashews, virgin coconut oil, almond milk, tahini, tempeh, tumeric, avocados, chia seeds, almond milk  and lemons. She recommends glass food storage containers which I already use.  Here's what I ate:

Week 1
Breakfast - White Bean Burger

Lunch - Mango Avocado Arugula Salad with Smoky Tempeh Bacon
This was such a colorful, filling salad. I ate lunch with my co-workers one day and they were impressed by this rich salad that I also added to orange bell peppers, grape tomatoes and fat free feta. For a fresh homemade salad dressing try my Cilantro Lime or Peach Vinaigrette.

Dinner - Spicy Peanut Noodles with Veggies
The recipe called for a creamy homemade peanut sauce to which I use fresh udon noodles.

Week 2
Breakfast - Lentil Walnut Cakes on raw marinated kale


Lunch - Black Rice Peanut Kale Bowl
The raw kale was massaged with a peanut dressing.

Dinner - I made my first ever pot pie! The crust had something to be desired lol but the filling was delicious! For the base I put raw cashews in a blender with stock and nutritional yeast and came out with a creamy yummy filling! 

I'm a vegetarian and love my cheese, but these two past weeks I saw how easy it is to go without it. Check out another delicious vegetarian cookbook I worked my way through here. 




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Monday, August 17, 2015

Dark Places



Dark Places is the movie adaption of Gillian Flynn's book published before "Gone Girl." Per usual, the book is better than the movie because there’s simply too much going on in the book to condense into a two-hour movie which doesn’t come across nearly as dark as Flynn’s book reads. The movie is a puzzling thriller with a strong list of actors including Charlize Theron, Corey Stoll, and Drea de Matteo. Charlize plays Libby Day the sole survivor of a massacre in a rural town in Kansas. Having witnessed the murder of her sisters and mother in what appears to be a Satanic cult ritual, she manages to escape and later testifies in court against her teenage brother Ben. Twenty-five years later true-crime fanatics called the Kill Club enlist Libby to exonerate her brother Ben, whom they believe in innocent, but first they must convince Libby.

The chilling story has some similarities to Charlize's real-life experience as a teenager. When she was 15 she witnessed her mother shot her alcoholic and abusive husband in an act of self defense. Charlize has spoken publicly about it.

I was scared to start this book because of the topic matter and because the reviews were very melodramatic. But honestly only 2 pages were devoted to details of the murder, the rest read like a dateline investigation series of who done it. I was perfectly fine reading it at night in my dark bedroom. This book kept me guessing throughout as it kept switching back between narrators. I highly recommend this book as a great mystery!

 But how does a movie based on a bestselling book and starring A-list actors get dumped into an extremely limited theatrical run? It was released in April in France, then opened in the US 2 weeks ago with no publicity and will go straight to video. I guess the powers that be decided the film wasn’t made well enough to spend money on promotion so it’s only made less than $1 million at the box office so far. Check out the trailer: 


Check out my list of books coming out as movies this year.



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Monday, August 10, 2015

Tips to survive hot summer nights without air-conditioning

My air-conditioning seems to have a problem every summer. I have a little portable humidity reader in my bedroom that tells me if the indoor humidity is at an acceptable level.  When I saw how high the humidity was, I looked into cost effective ways to get it back down. Everyone I spoke to about the issue, highly recommended DampRid which I heard of before but found it at Bed Bath & Beyond. DampRid is a bucket filled with calcium chloride crystals which absorb excess moisture out of the air. The process works in that the crystals turn into a solid mass then they dissolve and liquid drips out of it. Once I opened up a tub in each room, my humidity reader said the humidity levels went down 10%.  In my closet I used DampRid's Hanging Moisture Absorbers and look how much water has come out of it! I highly recommend this product!
Here are some tips everyone should know about keeping your home cool in the summertime.

1. Keep your blinds closed. Doing so keeps the temperature in your apt lower and saves you money on your a/c bill. You don't want the sun heating up your apt!

2. Let air flow naturally through your apt by keeping doors open. This was a new one to me but I found it worked. 

3. Focus on the temperature of your body by  cooling yourself from the inside outDid you know there are lots of pulse points in your feet so dip them in cold water before going to bed. Apply ice packs to your wrists, necks, elbows, angles and behind the knees to cool down. Drink ice cold water, did you know hydration can prevent you from sleeping well. Popsicles are an even colder option! 

4. Wear breathable fabrics such as cotton and linen and switch to a lightweight cotton for your sheets. I have different sheets for summer and wintertime, 600 count sateen and flannel, makes a world of difference. You can stick your sheets (in a plastic bag) in your freezer for a few minutes before bed to cool it down.

5. Turn off the lights in rooms as they give off heat.

6. Don't use the stove to bake anything, you're just adding more heat to the apt. Swap big meals for lighter dinners like salads and fruit. I have a fan tower that I keep in the kitchen for when I absolutely must use the oven. 

7. Turn on your bathroom fan as it pulls the hot air that rises after you take a shower. 

8. Go outside. I know it seem like an odd idea since it's hot outside, but it's a different kind of hot than in your apt. Plus there's a breeze outside unlike inside your apt. 
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Friday, August 7, 2015

My Succulent Terrarium



If you don't have a balcony or outdoor garden, a terrarium is a great idea for a house plant. Succulents are low maintenance, they just need some sun and a little water. Terrariums are easy to make, even if you don’t have a green thumb. I think it adds a beautiful touch to any room as the plants come in all kinds of colors. Since my living room is painted orange I wanted to create my terrarium around a vibrant orange moss. I recently read the book The Signature of All Things which talked about the world of mosses in great detail. Did you know 12,000 species of moss exist?

I really enjoyed the process of making my terrarium into its own tiny biosphere. I started off by picking the perfect container to build it in. The beauty of terrariums is that you can plant one in any container, the sky is limitless! Terrariums can be potted in cactus soil or sand. I arranged mine with a composition of different materials to create their own little world including colorful plants and crystals. I think the crystals create a great sparkle factor and natural beauty in my miniature landscape. I also added two airplants, also known as Tillandsia, which don’t require soil to grow. See they get all of the water and nutrients they need through their specialized leaves. In nature, air plants use their roots only for attaching themselves to rocks, trees, shrubs, and the ground. But in my terrarium I remove them once a week for a soak in water so they can absorb water into their leaves.

Succulents can thrive indoors in containers that don’t drain as long as they receive some light during the day and as long as you’re careful not to overwater them – a few drops of water once a week is really all they need. I also added some activated charcoal and pebbles at the bottom of the bowl to help with drainage and possible mildew issues. The more sun a succulents gets, the brighter it’s color. My plants only get morning sun from my window, but the species I have could potentially turn orange and red! And once a year they will bloom flowers! I love how they are sticking out of the bowl and spilling out.



Last summer on a business trip to LA, I walked by the vendor below on the street and fell in love with the succulents but thought how will I pack the spiky plant to take home? Well when I got home I showed this picture to my mom and she knew exactly where to get one locally and bought me a moon cacti. At first I kept it in a dark room and the cacti turned orange. That’s when I realized that it needed to be on a window to get sun. Once I put it there, it returned to its bright red color. I also spray painted the potter gold.


On the side bar to the left are the plants I have in my terrarium. I've only had my plants for a month, but with enough sunlight they will reach their full color potential. The air plant is the second from the bottom. My tallest plants are slowing turning the red you see in the middle picture.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Grapefruit Love

I had a fun and relaxing weekend. I went to the Comedy Club, hung out with friends, and spend two days at my pool. I love love the taste of ruby red grapefruit! I order myself a box for Christmas and make grapefruit popsicles in the summertime. I also love anything that smells like grapefruit so here's a list of my favorite grapefruit scented products.


Yes to Grapefruit Paper Mask
Paper facial sheet masks are just gaining popularity in this country, although they are super cheap in Korea and sold everywhere. These sheet masks are formulated with vitamin C to help refine pores while brightening skin. While I’m always look for ways to brighten my complexion up, but I wouldn't say these are made string enough to fade dark spots. The sheet masks are made from a thin paper-like material and are water based with glycerin and aloe to add moisture so they felt nice on my skin.  If you’ve never used a sheet mask before they are a fun and easy way to treat your skin to instant moisture. For $16 you get 5 masks which comes out to $3 a mask, half the price of Sephora's masks
Yes To Grapefruit Pore Perfection Toning Mist 
I had been looking for a toner and just love the way this smells! You get a mist of grapefruit, kakadu plum, and infusions of vitamin C. It also delivers hydration and helps at setting makeup. 

Pecksniff's England Grapefruit & Citron
My pilates studio had this in the bathroom and it smelt so amazing I had to go out and buy a bottle of my home.
Method Grapefruit Soap is a close second in smell.

Droplet ruby red grapefruit + neroli deep moisture body wash
This is what I'm using in the shower these days and it smells heavenly! 
La Croix Grapefruit Sparkling Water I have a co-worker who is always drinking La Croix during meeting and I was curious what it was since I had never heard of it before. Unfortunately I had to buy a whole case of it at the grocery store, but it was super cheap. This zero calorie carbonated water does not have artificial sugar in it, however the grapefruit flavor is underwhelming.  

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Friday, July 31, 2015

3 Fascinating Memoirs

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland
Last month Misty became the first Black woman to be named a principal in the 75-year history of the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. Prior to that, she was the first black soloist with ABT in twenty years. It’s a historic breakthrough when “ballet has lone been the province of the white and wealthy.” Her daily toe-crushing exercises make her $80 pointe shoes disposable. She fought for ten years to be recognized, to show she had the talent and ability to dance in classical ballets. In her book she says that “it was so important for people to understand that just because its 2014, racism is still real in the world and in classical ballet.”
She explains that in the world of dance, there is a genre called "white ballets" and Swan Lake is one. The characters play animals that have to wear white costumes and she often had to wear foundation shades too light and powder her face white. There were no other black women at ABT for her to connect with. And throughout her ballet career she “was a little brown-skinned girl in a sea of whiteness.”
 She started ballet late in life as her childhood was filled with constantly moving due to her mother’s multiple husbands. Eventually Misty and her 4 siblings ended up living in a motel. When she finally made it to the most prestigious dance company in America, at 100 lbs she was told she needed to lose weight termed “lengthening” in the world of dance. She did some workshops with the Dance Theater of Harlem where she finally felt like she fit in. She also danced with Prince in one of his music videos and on tour together. Misty's memoir is a story of success through adversity. 



Down the Rabbit Hole - Holly Madison

I used to watch the Girls Next Door and didn't like Holly on the show because she seemed like an "ice queen" and a "gold digger" so I was embarrassed to read her book. However I have to say it was a juicy and fascinating read and understand why it was number 1 on the NY Times best seller list. I read two other books by women who lived in the Playboy Mansion who made similar claims to Holly (spilling all the secrets of the mansion) so I really do believe the things Holly said. Kendra spoke out to say Holly was lying, only because Holly paints Kendra in a negative light in the book. With the way Kendra has portrayed herself in the media this year I don't believe much of what she says.  Holly described Kendra as having "incessant tardiness, endless excuses, and toddler-like tantrums." 
Holly lived in the mansion for 7 years! For most of that time she shared a bedroom with Hef as his number one girlfriend. She got a $1000 weekly allowance, plus a clothing allowance and all the plastic surgery she wants. In exchange for the free rent she had a 9pm curfew, no guests were allowed to visit, and had to spend all holidays with Hef. The mansion had wall to wall white carpets covered in dog poo. Holly described Hef as a spoiled child in an old man's body and goes to tell how the Playboy francise was in a bad financial state. Hef doesn't even own the mansion, he leased the rooms in it.  Holly filmed 5 seasons of the Girls Next Door but didn't get paid for the first season. After Holly left the mansion she was on Dancing with the Stars then had her own show in Vegas called the "Peepshow" which lasted for 4 years during which she filmed 2 years of her own reality show "Holly's World".  She's now happily married with a daughter named Rainbow. 


Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin
The book is an interesting case study of Manhattan’s richest mommies on the Upper East Side with an anthropological twist. Based on the author’s experience navigating the weird subculture of wealthy mothers, it gives a fascinating look at how ridiculous and excessive their world is. We’re talking about a group of women who are educated but literally given nothing to do and are absolutely financially dependent on their husbands so their identity hinged on hosting playdates and having a perfect home (many hire professional organizers). The mothers spend their days endlessly providing activities to foster their children's intellectual development as their toddlers must compete to get into the best preschools. The wives are given allowances that pay for the women's charitable work which is their ticket to the public world. The person who suggested it would be far more efficient to simply write a check to charities instead of attending excessive fundraisers was ostracized. The author explains that most of the wealth on the Upper East is “intergenerational” meaning it is inherited from family thus relationships with family has an uncomfortable dependence on each other. 
The popular thing for everyone to do is vacation in the same locations: Aspen, Hamptons, and Palm Beach. Dinner parties have men and women sitting at separate tables in separate rooms, the author found this “sex-segregation practices bewildering”. The women are thin, size 00, which is a marker of beauty and wealth in their circle. Barre and cycle classes are popular as are monthly facials and peels. The author explains that anxiety and stress are diseases of the west and many of these women are either on medication or are recovering alcoholics due to their fear of not fitting in or falling out. What intrigued me the most was descriptions of popular fashion all the ladies wore, brands I’d never heard of: crinkly Lanin flats, Chloe scalloped flats, the illusive Birkin bag, and Pomellato stacking rings. The book was criticized in the NY Post but the author countered to explain that she did not write it in chronicle order and she told other people’s stories as her own to protect their privacy. To me the article read only by a disgruntled person who was portrayed in an unflattering way in the book.


Check out the last set of memoirs I enjoyed.
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