Back in Style: Jellies

Do you remember when you were in the single-digits of age and absolutely needed a pair (or several pairs) of jelly sandals, probably from the Gap? Well, good news for those of you who are still suffering from the trauma of not owning every color and glitter style of jellies back in 1997: they're back!

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British luxury shoe designer, Sophie Webster, has created a pair of multicolored plastic jellies that hopefully won't leave your feet as dirty and sweaty as the original Gap style. For only $193!  They have a leather sole, and definitely have more of a polished look than the mass-produced jellies in children's size, but they're still plastic shoes.

And for fancy ladies, the jelly heel, brings a new level of class to the plastic summer shoe.

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Will you be wearing these this summer?

Issa's Favorite Things 2013

Well, Oprah beat me once again this year, but not to fret because... IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR.  MY FAVORITE THINGS LIST IS OUT!!! (Last year's is also still relevant).

Disclaimer: I will not be giving these things to a large, or small, or any studio audience, but presents and re-tweets are always welcome.

And now, in no particular order: ISSA'S FAVORITE THINGS 2013

Vince Camuto Windetta Booties.  These were my splurge of the season, but they're stylish, comfortable, and match pretty much any outfit and any occasion.

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MoleskineMy weekly notebook is my best friend. I'm not sure how I'd function without it.  With one calendar side for planning and the other weekly page for notes, to-do, lists, etc, I can stay organized.  Plus there's a nice pocket in back to store business cards and Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons.

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Scoutmob. The (free) app makes my life so much more enjoyable!  With 50% deals at tons of local restaurants and businesses, I've been able to go out much more than I can truly afford, and usually at great places, as the app is curated by supposedly knowledgable community managers.  Note: two types of businesses are frequently on the app- new ones and old ones hurting for business.  Read reviews and know what you're getting in to, there are plenty of awesome finds!

The North Face Down Vest. It may be very suburban middle school of me, but I'm slightly obsessed with my metallic purple puffy vest.  Purchased on Black Friday last year, this item is the perfect layer when you don't want to wear a coat, when your stylish coat isn't warm enough, or you just want something snuggly over your pajamas.  Also, wearing it feels athletic, because I can show off my biceps?

 

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Canada Goose Trillium Parka. So I don't actually own one of these babies yet... ($650! For a jacket!) but I tried one on at Bloomingdales and it was the most comfortable and warm I've ever been. (Get the hint, readers.  Another hint: my birthday is on Thanksgivukkah).

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Reusable Starbucks Cup.  At $1 and $.10 off every drink you buy, this cup practically pays for itself.  Plus, if you're poor you can make coffee at home and then drink it at Starbucks as if you're a paying customer (you once were!) and perhaps even use their soy milk. 

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Kate Spade Wallet.  Post-grad life seemed to require a professional looking wallet from which I could produce my shiny new credit card and semi-crumpled business cards. My dirty, shredding Bat Mitzvah wristlet from Coach wasn't going to cut it  This would have been a splurge, had I not purchased it with graduation money (thanks!), and the few cents I had left fit perfectly in the inside zippered compartment.  I love this thing!

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Avocado. I don't take enough time to appreciate these majestic, sweet and savory fruits.

Joffrey Ballet School.  Their adult classes are awesome.

Lucky Peach. David Chang's food journal is not too academic but also not too fluffy, full of well-written, well-researched articles that are insightful and educational and just fun.

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Vita Coco.  This sweet but not sugary box of coconut water helped me survived the insane NYC summer heat. I may not be writing this without it.

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Orange is The New Black.  This is the best thing that Netflix has ever done.

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The Mind of a Chef. This is the best thing that PBS has ever done. (Sorry, Arthur).

Blue is the Warmest Color.  This is the best thing modern French film has ever done.

Harney & Sons TeaThe shop in Soho, which matches you with a personal tea consultant, who brews you teas to suit your tastes (fo' free), is the best.  Plus, the teas are delicious and encased in silk bags, 20 to a pack, which comes in a cute decorative tin, in the $6 range.

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Mophie. I received this in a gift bag and it has since been my life saver.  Charge the juice pack, keep it in your bag, revive your phone during a long day out.  Amazing.

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The New Yorker. Purchasing a subscription was easily the best money I spent all year. Though I recently switched to reading the iPad edition, having something informative, entertaining, and conversation-worthy in my mailbox each week is fantastic.

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Fireball. It was gross and unsophisticated college, but now that I'm an adult, spicy cinnamon whiskey shots are fun in the most ironic way possible. Think atomic fireball candy in powerful liquid form.

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Nantucket and Napa. I took not one, but two lovely white people yuppy trips this summer.  I wish I could give you all first class tickets and hotel rooms.

Bumble and Bumble Pret a Powder. I don't want to wash my hair everyday and now I don't have to!  This yummy sparkly powder just rubs into your roots and makes your hair look even more glamorous days after bathing. I'm obsessed.

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Lancôme Bienfat Aqua Vital Cream.  Also known as: moisturizer.  I have no idea how this luxurious product appeared in my bathroom, but using it every morning is a pleasure.

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NeuralPop.  WHAT AN AMAZING WEBSITE.

Being a college graduate. Being a professional writer.  Being part of my family and group of friends. Being a person.

Life is good! Happy Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and birthday to ME!

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We'll Always Have Paris

There's no good way to say goodbye to Paris. In fact, I'm not sure there's any good way to say goodbye to a place. You can't hug it and promise to text in the morning,  I can't poke the Eiffel Tower on Facebook or Skype into my favorite cafes. It was hard to leave new York, I was scared about what the next month would bring, but i knew I'd be back in 30 days, which is no time at all.  When I booked the car to take me to Orly, I realize I. Had no idea when I'd be back. If ever. I planned to spend my last day re-visiting all the sights I loved, trying to check museums off my list and photograph anything and everything that I'd seen everyday and would suddenly not see the next morning.

Thursday morning I met up with my friend's high school French exchange student, Anne Charlotte, at Le Carousel de Louvre, which is basically a glorified food court.

We caught up on the last few years and headed to Les Arts Décoratifs to see an exhibit about Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs, a less intense version of the Met's Alexander McQueen exhibit last summer. There's something about seeing clothes presented in a gallery rather than just on the rack that's so intriguing and beautiful; you can appreciate the art, design, and construction of the pieces rather than thinking about how a dress would look on you or where you'd wear it to. Seeing the evolution of the Louis Vuitton trunks from quality checkered travel cases to the gaudy bags/status symbols they are today was also surprisingly fascinating.  We both enjoyed tiny exhibit on Babar and rooms of Art Deco architecture at the museum.

That afternoon, convinced a few friends after class to venture to the legendary Longchamp Store.  The rainbow of purses, plus the surprising discount, made another rainy day adventure totally worthwhile.

We ventured through the pouring rain for one last dinner at Fuxia, an impressively cheap and amazingly delicious Italian restaurant we found in Le Marais that had another branch near the Luxembourg Garden.  I'll seriously miss the food here.  Especially the tomato carpaccio...

Friday morning was spent with chocolate chaud, edits, laptops, edits, more edits, and reading, eager to meet our 5:00pm portfolio deadline for workshop.

After completing my work faster than expected, I headed out with a friend to do what we all really come to Paris to do: shop.

And shop we did: clothes, shoes, lingerie, gifts, jewelry.  I had a few euros to get rid of and I took full advantage.  Unlike American shopowners, Parisian shopowners are honest.  They'll tell you if something looks bad on you, and not encourage you to buy anything unstylish.  It seems like their overall goal is customer happiness, rather than making a sale, which is oddly comforting.

Naturally, I overslept Saturday morning, Bastille Day, so my plan to have my last petit dejeuner was already ruined. This year's Bastille Day was Disco themed, so enormous mirrored disco balls covered the city, making the day extravagantly bright.  If only Fourth of July had themes...

I decided to walk to the Orsay, grabbing a baguette sandwich for lunch on the way. I can't believe i waited so long to visit the Orsay- it was incredible! The museum is housed in an old train station, so in edition to its amazing collection of impressionist artwork, the building itself is a spectacle to enjoy.  The views over the Seine were also gorgeous, even in the overcast weather.

Since I'd arrived in Paris, this was one of my first days wandering the city alone. No company, no agenda, just the city. I reveled in being a free agent, but found after a few hours I was sad not to be able to share my reveling, my enthusiasm for Paris with someone else. (I did, however, stop into a few puppy shops, and share my enthusiasm with a few too many adorable dogs...)

I wandered the streets aimlessly, trying to remember every little cafe and beret and landmark. I had the best chocolate eclair I've ever eaten at a small patisserie only a few blocks from home. It's funny how you only start seeing a place in a new way when you know your time there is limited.

That night, in lieu of crowded Bastille Day festivities, I met friends for Indian food at a restaurant in a building from the 17th century.  We're dubious to whether or not this is actually true.

Food is not spicy in Paris. Flavorful, but never spicy. Even the various chutneys, curries, and other dishes we enjoyed barely had a hint of spice. Indian food for beginners.

After gorging ourselves on lentils and cauliflower and naan, we went out for one last gaufres avec glacé (we wanted macaroons, but all the patisseries close far too early, yes, even Paris has its weak points...)

On the stoops of the Pantheon, we watched fireworks explode behind the Eiffel Tower, the best cliched way to end my month in France.

It seems surreal actually, that I lived in Paris for a month. Getting back to New York was shocking, I was convinced that all the street lights and crossing signs had been replaced while I was away-- everything is just so bright! I just jumped back into real life- apartment, job, friends, work- as if a month of my life hadn't been sent elsewhere, disrupting my usual pattern. I feel like I was in Paris forever and I simultaneously feel like I never left.

I'm sitting in a tea house in Park Slope, listening to some guy sing about how sad he is to be single (maybe because you're playing for an audience of mommies and lesbians. Just a thought), and I can't help comparing it to Paris, just like I compared Paris to New York every day I was there.

I'm so happy I went to Paris. I'm so happy to be back home in New York.  I'm happy I had space from my regular life, to learn and grow and get a new perspective, and I'm happy that Paris encouraged me to take risks, challenge myself, and explore the world.

Paris I love You but You’re Bringing Me Down

I’ve survived the greatest fear of my generation: losing an iPhone. Wednesday marked my first day of disenchantment with Paris. I woke up early to walk to Starbucks to catch up on work. The petite dejuneur at a Parisian Starbucks offers fresh squeezed orange juice, an espresso beverage of choice, and a pastry of choice, so I was set to camp out for the morning. An hour into editing, negotiating, and iMessaging later, a kid comes up from behind me and rattles paper in my face and over my laptop screen, while his sister yells at me in French.

“Go away, go away.” They left. As I turned back to return to the review I was working on, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Yes, my iPhone had left its comfortable spot on my keyboard, and was gone forever. Apparently, this paper-waving distraction is a common trick, it’s all about getting you to lose your focus, but I was not aware of this until after it happened. “Oh, the paper trick, that happens all the time!” That would have been good to know…

So Paris is not perfect. I already knew this much with their overpriced salads and stupid Metro tickets that only work when they want to, but really? My phone was taken by kids? And there’s nothing I could do about it? Paris was getting less magical by the second. Yes, it’s just a phone, and it’s easily replaceable, I’m still safe and healthy, so it’s nothing to get too upset over. But being stolen from is a pretty terrible feeling. I was taken advantage of right before my eyes and there was nothing I could do to stop it. While I still feel safe in Paris, perhaps safer than in New York in many instances, there’s now this suspicion I can’t leave behind, that at any time, in any place, someone may try to take something from me, with or without my knowledge.

After the child-theft, I walked to class for a writing workshop followed a lecture by a woman who translates American books into French, including all of Mary Higgins Clark’s work. After class, we grabbed dinner at an Italian restaurant (after only a week and a half I’m easily known as the girl who eats only pasta, and I truly appreciate everyone’s effort in finding me delicious pasta-serving places) and then headed to what is becoming our regular bar, WOS, to watch the Spain vs. Italy game and mourn the loss of my iPhone.

End of blog post for Wednesday. Text me for deets, BFFS.

Shopaholic Takes Paris

Thursday morning was gorgeous! Finally nice weather in Paris! I walked to the Musée Maillol, which is not one of the more famous museums in Paris, but was highly recommended by a friend, and I completely endorse that. Artisde Maillol’s artwork and art collection is featured permanently in the upper-level galleries, and the current visiting exhibit is of Artemesia Gentileschi’s paintings, who I originally fell in love with on a trip to Italy a few years ago. In short, she’s a female Baroque painter with plenty of masterful portraits of women kicking ass. Go see it. It’s worth the 9 euros. The museum also has a beautiful tearoom and restaurant, with extremely reasonable prices for a classy afternoon meal.

A friend living here told me that sale season would soon come to Paris, and I would be overwhelmed by all the Soldes signs in windows. Overwhelmed by shopping? Moi? I’m a pretty expert shopper, but I’m going to say she was right on this one—the entire city is on sale! Where to start? Where to go? Am I getting a good deal or is this 90 euro shirt that’s half off and then 20% off still overpriced? Am I at the Forever 21 or J Crew of Paris? Why are all these colors on the same dress? I went into many, many boutiques, and left empty handed. PARIS WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME? Everyone in Paris looks truly fashionable, but I’m having a hard time figuring out where they actually purchase their clothes…

Thursday evening after class we had Salon, in which writers presented their work along with other various talents. We were treated to unbelievably delicious varieties of goat cheese and cream puffs, and a bit of Paris’ magic was re-instilled in me. After Salon, I walked to Odeon to meet a high school friend for crepes, where we caught up and reminisced, all while taking in the streets of Paris.

Friday began with more crepes, and a walk to les Marais to visit the Picasso Museum, which it turns out, is under renovation. Why I never think to consult the Internet before planning my day is beyond me.

I decided just to wander, because getting lost in Paris is every American’s dream! I walked around the Orthodox neighborhood; many Parisian Jewish women look indistinguishable from hipsters: vintage peasant skirt, headscarf, oversized sweater. Is Brooklyn headed in this direction? #Assimilation.

Before crossing the river back home, I stopped into Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville (BHV), the big Parisian department store, similar to Harrod’s or Macy’s. I browsed clothing and makeup on the 0 level, and continued on up to look at everything from art supplies to window treatments to sushi and gelato. Paris is a place to be looked at and a place to be seen, but at BHV I finally felt that anonymity I love about the streets of New York. Everyone was too self-absorbed and determined in their shopping to care about what I wore or how poor my French was. Only I could feel at home in a department store. Or walking down streets where dogs think they're cats...

I headed home for a Friday night pasta dinner and met friends on the steps of the Pantheon, where local students hang out at night. At risk of sounding like an alcoholic, New York’s open container laws are making less and less sense to me. While yes, there is always potential for street-drinking to go awry, it’s so nice to share a bottle of wine with friends outdoors on a beautiful summer night, and not be forced into a sketchy bar or tiny apartment in order to socialize. In Paris, while wine is more popular than water, drinking is not about getting drunk, but much like getting coffee, about socializing while enjoying a beverage, sipping slowly and talking quickly and not worrying about where the night will end up.