Book Review: Everything I Never Told You

IMG_2149

Here’s my book club’s latest read! “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng was heartbreaking, breathtaking, interesting, and at times…unbelievable. Unbelievable, but yes, what you see with the Lee family, really does happen…and their stories need to be told.

The book starts off with the family’s teenage daughter, Lydia, is declared dead. From the beginning, Ng is clear with everyone’s theories of what could have happened to Lydia. We also find out Lydia’s own story, and what led to her disappearance and death. Although a painful page-turner, the novel moves slowly to the final, devastating conclusion. The date and place are important as our breaking news society and popular social media would have made this a completely different story. Their culture, heritage and place in society are also crucial. But for who?

A heartfelt story of a Chinese American family living in Ohio in the 70s will be felt by anyone who has ever felt out of place. They struggle to fit in without ever communicating their fears to each other. Five family members living their lives to break stereotypes and have others recognize them, don’t recognize each other after Lydia is gone.

I loved “Everything I Never Told You” and had to hide my tears as I decided to read it on 2 flights! Let me know if you pick it up!

Plaid Through Winter

DSC_3082

DSC_3092

DSC_3095

While in Chicago, I raided my sister’s closet and found an array of plaid shirts in there! Seriously, about seven of them. I was inspired by one of Lily’s posts and considered adding one to my closet. But honestly, I felt I would look super grunge (where’s my Nirvana CD??) and just didn’t bother to own one since the late 80s/early 90s. My free spirit sister is also 12 years younger, far more trendy and luckily… she has no recollection of that sad, yet comfortable,  grungy stage in our lives.  She has a fresh outlook and pairs her plaid shirts in a super feminine way.

I wanted to make sure I could pull off this fall trend well into our current winter. When I got back to New Jersey, I stopped at one of my favorite local boutiques, Bungalow, and guess what? They were carrying so many plaid shirts! A nice plaid rainbow of them too. As always, they helped me style a simple warm shirt with very contemporary details…and I LOVED the results.

Visit Bungalow for your daily needs or for your dress up ones. They still have lots of items on sale! Happy shopping!

Plaid Shirt (Skies Are Blue)
Moscow Suede Skinny Pants (Greylin)
Lava Swarovski Beaded Bracelet (Deux Amies)
Triple Wrap Bracelet - In navy (Deux Amies)
Liselotte C Vintage Leather Bag - New Stone (Liebeskind)
Booties (Ivanka Trump)

CR Photography

Weekend Within

FullSizeRender (4) I have been an emotional mess this weekend. In a good way! I had the opportunity to reinstate meditation in my life with the help of all the lovely people at The Chopra Center in Carlsbad, California. My comadre, Vanessa, and I wanted a little weekend getaway and because she remembered my experience working for The Chopra Center years ago, she threw the idea my way. Of course, after several big moves and 3 little boys later, I thought, “Brilliant!” I was ready to read some of Deepak’s books again and to try meditation in my life as well.

Because we live in a non-stop, always connected, and very stressful environments, Weekend Within was such a great reminder for us to dig deep and ask ourselves hard questions in order to connect with ourselves again. It’s important to become more aware and well balanced. The program served as a refresher course for my meditation and yoga practice.  We had the honor to listen to Deepak Chopra and Bhava Ram speak about amazing examples of the power of meditation. We learned to let go, we were encouraged to live in the present, and most importantly–we learned that when we are connected to ourselves, there is no burden.

So why so emotional when it sounds like we had a fantastic time? Because when I stop to see what I have, what I am so grateful for…it fills me with so much joy…I burst! When someone tells me that there is still room for improvement, that I have potential, that I can change situations around me by personally changing ME…it makes me want to be more patient, more nurturing, more loving. It just moves me. Kindness moves me. Gentle, self-less, spiritual people just move me. It was an unforgettable experience. So worth it.

If you have dabbled with a little mediation but can’t seem to get the hang of it, I truly recommend a Weekend Within course. People (including Vanessa) said that the way that The Chopra Center teaches meditation, makes so much sense. I completely agree. And there are so many other programs you can try! Check it out!

Here are your weekend links! Please notice that the links were picked especially for this post. ;-)

Curvy Latinas can do yoga. Thank you, Helena.

Reading next: The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents

34 Ingenious Ways to De-Clutter Your Entire Life

Awesome. Just awesome. Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt!

Raising The Screen Generation. Thank you, Hubby.

For more pictures of my Weekend Within, follow me on Instagram!

Have a great week!

Inspiration: Gina Rodriguez

Gina-Rodriguez_-2015-Golden-Globe-Awards--01-662x998

I’m jumping on the bandwagon. I knew of Chicago-native, Gina Rodriguez and Jane the Virgin, but I didn’t know about her real star-like ability to inspire. When I heard her speech, I cried. At that moment, my Twitter feed went wild! There was genuine happiness for the actress and when I heard the speech again yesterday while watching Access Hollywood’s recap of the Golden Globes, I cried again! I had to share what she said…just in case you missed it

“Thank you to my mom and my dad for telling me to dream big and to never stop dreaming. To my siblings, to my sisters Evelise and Rebecca for being the biggest role models in my life. This award is so much more than myself. It represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes. My father used to tell me to say every morning, ‘Today’s going to be a great day. I can and I will.’ Well, Dad, today’s going to be a great day. I can and I did.”

I have learned through the years of teaching and writing that when you have a platform and when you stand in front of others with the opportunity to say something…use it to inspire. Gina took her Golden Globes Best Actress in a Comedy Series award to the next level.

Let’s talk about her subtle, classic, elegant look too! Her Badgley Mischka strapless was perfect and I love how she kept her jewelry and makeup simple while still making a statement. I have Gina’s step-by-step makeup by Jenna Anton for you. Jenna was inspired to bring out the essence of Gina’s personality, as she describe as, “fun, flirty and comfortable in her own skin.” Gina’s skin naturally glows, so she created a warm matte sunset look for the eyes.

STEP 1: For the eyes, Jenna applied a warm matte yellow shade from the lash line to brow.

Tip: Jenna always starts off with the eyes and ends with skin.

STEP 2: Jenna lined the lash line with L’Oréal Paris The Super Slim by Infallible Eyeliner ($8.95) starting with a thin line from the inner corner of the eye and then gradually thickening it with a small wing at the end.

STEP 3: For the lashes, she applied a few individual lashes at the outer end of the eye to elongate the lashes, then applied L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Intenza Mascara ($8.99).

STEP 4: Jenna used a combination of L’Oréal Paris Infallible Eyeshadow Crayon in Enduring Rose and Everlasting Gold ($7.99) and blended in the inner corner of the eyes.

STEP 5: She went for a full and fluffy fresh brow using L’Oréal Paris Brow Stylist Plumper ($7.99).

Tip: Use a color that is lighter than your natural hair so the brows won’t be so dark.

STEP 6: Jenna used a combination of L’Oréal Paris Youth Code Pore Vanisher and L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Miracle Blur to prep Gina’s skin for a smooth finish.

STEP 7: She then applied L’Oréal Paris Visible Lift Blur Blush ($12.99) on the apple of her cheeks and layered on L’Oréal Paris True Match Blush ($10.95) over the crème blush.

Tip: When applying blush create a backwards ‘C’ starting from the ear and moving towards the apple of the cheek and back.

STEP 8: Jenna used L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Last Lipcolor Permanent Blush  ($12.99) on the lips.

STEP 9: To keep Gina’s look on all night, Jenna sprayed L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Spray & Set Makeup Extender Setting Spray ($16.99).

Gina_Rodriguez_LOreal_makeup_MFBS

Here at home, we can’t wait to start watching more of Gina and of course, Jane the Virgin! Will you?

Staying Warm and Stylish

DSC_3057

DSC_3055 (1)

DSC_3070

DSC_3050

Are you staying warm? It’s been so hard to do a photo shoot in this incredibly harsh weather. I was so happy to be styled by Bungalow on this particular day because the leather, tights and the coziest of all sweaters kept me nice and warm. They have plenty of items to help you stay toasty and stylish for the next few months!

I fell in love with this leather skirt the second I saw it. Pairing it up with a soft, feminine and oversized sweater was my goal and this knitted beauty did not disappoint. We kept the blouse light and breezy so it wouldn’t interfere with the thickness. My Tory Burch booties were dedicated to this ensemble and honestly, I can’t stop wearing them because they are super comfortable. I also took the skirt to Chicago last month and wore it twice!

Bungalow continues to be my favorite place to discover new jewelry. I couldn’t part with these Ewelina Pas rings. There are so many affordable pieces and like this Splendid clutch…it all makes this winter outfit complete.

New Jersey friends, got cabin fever? Head over to Bungalow today (there is still a major sale going on) and treat yourself to something nice. If you are not in the area and see something you like, give Erika or Eve a call to place your order. They’re sweet like that!

Chunky Knit Cocoon Sweater (Olivacious)
Notch Collar V-Neck Blouse (1. State)
Eloy Leather Skirt (BB Dakota)
Pyrite Choker w/ Lotus Disc (Deux Amies)
Coronado Clutch (Splendid)
Wide Band Single Druzy Ring (Ewelina Pas)
Double Druzy Ring (Ewelina Pas)
Tory Burch Booties (I found them! And on SALE!!)

Images: CR Photography

blah blah blah

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Liliana . The opinions and text are all mine.

Interview: Joya Dass of LadyDrinks

Joya-Dass_MFBS

By day, she’s telling us about top lines and bottom lines. By evening, she’s helping other South Asian female professionals to mind theirs. I am excited to be chatting with the co-founder of LadyDrinks. Joya Dass is being featured as one of MFBS’ inspiring women. In this interview she tells us how she went from business news anchor to helming a women’s movement.  And why drinking Riojas is in her near distant future…

Betty: Joya, you wear several hats. Can you tell MFBS readers about how you went from interviewing CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to founding a women’s movement?

Joya: Hi Betty. Thank you for having me. Yea, this is a common question.  I’ve been a business news anchor in New York for the last 15 years. I’ve logged time with Bloomberg, CNN, and ABC. These days, you can see me reporting from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for NY1. Business news works with my no bullshit personality I think. The markets are either up or down. Oil is either higher or lower. I also enjoy the math and science that goes into explaining why business news is important.  About five years ago, I had been on a tough morning news schedule, where I was up every morning by 2:30, into work by 3:30 and on the air by five. I logged those hours for 4 years, and decided that this brand of journalism just wasn’t feeding me anymore. I went freelance and launched my production company. But I remained on the air part time. In order to mind the massive projects I was on, I took a partner. She had great success founding LadyDrinks in Toronto, in response to the Recession. We began the New York iteration July 2012.

Betty: How does LadyDrinks work?

Joya:  As we turn three years old next July, the business model remains the same. We host an event on the first Thursday of each month. Each month’s event is different. For example, one month, we had five LinkedIn experts come in and attendees signed up for 20 minute slots with each to revise their profiles. The sixth station was a hair, makeup, and photography station to generate a new LinkedIn Profile picture. Our October event was a panel discussion on “How to Get Clients?” We had a doctor, lawyer, a real estate developer and someone from the beauty industry on it. And so on.

Betty: Where do you host your events?

Joya: All over New York City. Generally at a boutique or store owned by a female business owner. We like to be able to support them too. Catering of food and drinks will also work to support other small business owners. The pendulum has also swung the opposite direction where we’ve also hosted at Henri Bendel and DeBeers on Fifth Avenue.

Betty:  In 2015, LadyDrinks turns 3. What new events or programs are you introducing?

Joya: We will continue with our monthly events, including a panel on “How to Network Better” and a “Pitch the Media” event in March. We are introducing a film and theater series to galvanize women on, say a Saturday night, to enjoy another way to meet.  I am thrilled to announce that this April I will be leading my second five-day women’s retreat.

The retreat will start on April 14th and end on April 19th and be held in Basque Country, Spain.  The idea being that I eject you WAY out of your comfort zone to some place beautiful. And we take dedicated time to investigate how fear is keeping us from being more confident and fearless in our lives. And have conversations about our hurdles as professional women. Conversations we’re not having with our spouses, parents, or friends…because there is no time. Last year’s retreat in Florence was life changing for the five women who attended. Zankhna Parekh made the biggest breakthrough in launching her bespoke and custom tailored business.  There will be guided meditation sessions to kick off each morning, and lots of time to share meals and evening Riojas while bonding with like-minded professional women.

The retreat will take place at a chateau called Irarte Jauregia, nestled deep in the north of Spain, just outside of San Sebastian. The facility has a gourmet chef, spas, and a forest for hiking. I am anticipating seven to ten women on this year’s retreat.  I am so excited about this retreat that I wish it could start even sooner than April!

Betty: Ooh, I might come! How do ladies sign up?

Joya: Deposits are due by January 20th. You can sign up at www.lady-drinks.com.

Betty. I’ve seen you in action. You make it seem so seamless and effortless when you’re on camera. Do you have any pre camera rituals?

Joya: I have the uncanny ability to block out everything around when talking to camera. This probably comes from years of reporting on the testosterone-filled floor of the stock exchange —-smack in the middle of the daily melee. I have to drone out all the ambient screaming and yelling around me in order to do my job.

I do yoga at least once a week.   I can tell the days that I haven’t gone. My focus is different when I turn to face the camera.

Betty: Do you consider yourself a role model?

When we started LadyDrinks in July 2012 and much to my surprise, some 300 South Asian women were showing up to my events. I realized that I had something here. So I began curate the programming and introduce panels, workshops, lectures, events, and speakers, whom I had access to because of my journalism career.  My nose is always down on the grindstone, trying to find new and exciting ways to engage women in the membership. I should look up more often I guess.

Betty: What else should we know about Miss Joya?

Joya: I love big bold red wines. I love peaty mossy Scotches. And I would be bereft without a life of travel. Nothing makes me happier than experience new lands and new cultures. I go to at least two international destinations a year.

Thank you, Joya!

RETREATGRAPHIC4

Top Image: Jinsey Dauk

A Happier 2015!

FullSizeRender (3)

Happy New Year! Can you believe it? It’s officially 2015. It’s taken me a while to deliver this post and I forced myself to do it (as I have others pending!), but I wanted to send you plenty of good wishes and I apologize for taking 6 days to do it.

After much deliberation and a long road trip back from Chicago, I have finally decided what I plan for myself in the next twelve months. Aside from my every day, every season, and every year fitness goals, there’s so much more to think about.

Have you set any goals? Many people don’t do new year resolutions. People plan on changing a couple of things, some plan to focus on unfulfilled past promises, and some set out to do some serious life changing. I plan on keeping things simple and the turn of the year always helps me take care of little things. I’m a firm believer that when you add them all up, they make a significant change.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking:

1. I really want to focus on slowing down (hence, this super late New Year’s post!) and savoring each moment just a little longer.

2. I really need to say NO more and be okay with it.

3. I really need to sometimes just keep opinions to myself. This is super hard when your friend has sooo much to say.

4 I need to listen more. And listen well.

5.I want to disconnect on the weekends. I’m so lucky that I can say that checking Facebook, engaging on Instagram and Tweeting is part of my job! I love social media. Nevertheless, looking up and around is a must.

6.I have to remember to only speak Spanish at home!

7.I want to give more. I want to give without anyone watching. I want to give without it being expected. I want to give because I always have the desire and best intentions…but it ends up on the bottom of my to-do list.

8. I have to accept my imperfections.

Is that a lot?? With the exception of number 7, which is the only new one, I believe these are some of the things I always try to work on. I’m conscious on what I need to do for me to live a happier, more positive (that was my 2011 resolution!), more spiritually fulfilling life. I have learned that singing in church with Diego makes me burst with joy. Even if we sing in quiet voices, I can feel the energy we are creating. It’s so simple, really. The little things.

I would love if you could share one or two of your 2015 goals. Please comment below! Here’s to a happy, healthy and successful new year to you all!

7 Steps for a Sophisticated New Year’s Eve Look

dove_MarioAnton_MFBS3

dove_MarioAnton_MFBS1

dove_MarioAnton_MFBS2

I really think I’m going to try this simple, sophisticated and modern hair style on Wednesday night! What do you think? Seems easy enough, right? Dove hair ambassador, Mario Antón shows us that special occasion hair doesn’t have to be so frustrating to achieve. I have my Dove products, and since I’m staying with my mom and sister, I’m sure I can find the rest of the few hair tools required.

What you’ll need:

Decorative New Year’s headband
Hair pins
Hair ties
Comb
Paddle hairbrush
Medium round brush
Hair dryer
Dove Pure Care Dry Oil Nourishing Treatment.
Dove Style + Care Strength & Shine Flexible Hair Spray

7 steps by stylist and Dove Hair ambassador, Mario Anton:

1. Prepare your hair by washing it with Dove Pure Care Dry Oil Shampoo and Conditioner to leave it soft, with natural movement and without frizz. This will be important for this hair style.

2. Blow dry your hair on medium with a medium round brush to give it volume and style at the front section.

3. Part your hair on your favorite side or down the middle, then take the comb and create volume at the top of your head by softly whipping the root. Apply some spray so that the volume stays, and with the paddle hairbrush, softly brush all the hair back without removing volume.

4. Attach your hair with hair ties in the bottom of your neck, creating a low pony. Apply two drops of Dove Pure Care Dry Oil Nourishing Treatment in your hands and run your fingers through your pony to control the frizz and all those bits of hair, leaving the pony styled.

5. Little by little, start rolling your pony towards the right until it starts creating a bow as it rolls into itself. Attach it with pins to the base of the pony.

6. To finalize, set your hair with Dove Style + Care Strength & Shine Flexible Hair Spray, making sure that your hair looks styled in the front section as well. Don’t forget to put on your New Year’s crown and attach it with hair pins on each side.

7. Apply red lipstick to take on the New Year with this modern and sophisticated look!

dove_MarioAnton_MFBS4

Holiday Weekend Links from Chicago

IMG_1813

Hey! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! We are currently in Chicago with our extended family and as always, we are feeling the love from all of them through food! jajaja! We are eating and drinking well out here and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Can you believe another year has gone by? Super fast? Last year’s weekend links looked like THIS as I did a nice re-cap/year-in-review for 2013. Today, I just can’t stop reading articles and posts that come through my Facebook stream or pop up when I open my email. And then when I find the good stuff, I want to share it with you. I also received a sweet book surprise from my friend (of The Mindful Family) right before Christmas, and I can’t put it down.

Are you ready for the new year? I recently wrote, 5 Reasons to Start Your New Year’s Resolutions Now and if you want to get a head start, go for it! Even it it’s 3 days away! I like to think that every day is a chance to start a good habit, to focus on wanting to be better, and do better. This year, I will continue to work on all the things I have promised in the past years but I really want to focus on only speaking Spanish at home. Why is it soooo hard?? UY! We’re going to do it! jajaja!

Dear readers, have a wonderful, joyful, healthy and prosperous 2015! Enjoy the weekend links…

What My Flawless Holiday Card Says About Me as a Mom. Trust Me: It’s Not What You Think.

Transforming communities by empowering vulnerable women and spreading kindness. Please do a #DeedADay

10 Incredibly Touching Reasons Why Couples Stay Married. My favorite? Because life is scary without backup. Because life is meant to be shared.

 Sleep, I Miss You… Thank you, Celeste!

The 3 Decisions That Will Change Your Financial Life. Thank you, Maggie!

13 Awesome Characteristics of Highly Sensitive People.

Dresses on sale!

This baby shower

 5 Things Confident Women Do Differently

 52 Children’s Books to Read in 2015

I need to make this Strawberry Mango Salsa!

50 Things I Want for My Little Sister.

IMG_1890

Sharing coffee with @lily_and_coco

Have a great week!

Get it Right with Bungalow

DSC_3008

DSC_3007

DSC_3009

Do you have your outfits ready for your holiday festivities? I do! I’m also starting 2015 right…with the perfect items in my closet.

My one-stop shop for all my fashion needs in town is Bungalow. The adorable boutique offers everything from casual chic wear to super stylish and trendy outfits. I love Bungalow for my date night or girls’ night #ootd! I also appreciate the range in prices. I feel comfortable going in there and saying what I want to spend, and still walk out feeling fabulous.

Eve and Erika are always ready to help anyone coordinate their outfit with statement jewelry and reliable clutches and bags. They know style. They listen. They know how to help you look and feel great! The ladies at Bungalow are also having a 30% sale throughout the holiday season and we don’t want you to miss out!

If you’re in the Millburn area, stop by! Friends from all over, visit HERE, shop on line, or give Bungalow a call! Let me know what you pick out!

Lucent Textured Knit Dress (Greylin)
Vegan Leather Jacket (Blaque Label)
Brass Cuff w/ Hematite Pave Stones
Brass Cuff w/ Hematite Stones
Geometric Brass Necklace (One Oak by Sara)
Coronado Clutch (Splendid)
All can be purchased at Bungalow

Tory Burch Booties (sold out)
images: CR Photography