Women, Strong & United

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Created by O, The Oprah Magazine senior designer Tova Diamond.

Our entire office wore red today in honor of International Women’s Day and the women’s rights movement. Though we’ve made great strides in equality, there’s still a ways to go, both around the world and here at home in the United States.

Whatever your political views or cultural background, we should stand together as women, strong and united. There is so much to celebrate about each other: our tenacity, our individuality, our accomplishments, our collective voice.

In that spirit, I’d like to share some wisdom imparted by women (the last quote is my favorite!):

  • “Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.” -Amelia Earhart
  • “I am an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them. I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity.” -Michelle Obama
  • “I do not demand equal pay for any women save those who do equal work in value. Scorn to be coddled by your employers; make them understand that you are in their service as workers, not as women.” -Susan B. Anthony
  • “I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves.” -Mary Shelley
  • “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” -Madeleine Albright
  • “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” -Maya Angelou
  • “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” -Audre Lorde
  • “I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story—I will.” -Amy Schumer
  • “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” -Sheryl Sandberg
  • “Do not live someone else’s life and someone else’s idea of what womanhood is. Womanhood is you. Womanhood is everything that’s inside of you.” -Viola Davis

New Year, New (Old) Me

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Our first picture of 2017, just before our midnight run through the neighborhood.

While reviewing last year’s list of resolutions, I was happy to see that I achieved many of them: I lived healthier, ran a half marathon, and attempted to be more appreciative. But the year also came with some disappointments. I learned a few basic language skills, but failed to really improve my Hungarian. I tried a few new things, but not as many exercise classes or out-of-the-box activities as I would have liked, and I’m still anxious about going to those kind of events on my own. I read 50 books, but basically failed to do any of my own writing. So, in 2017, though I have a bunch of new goals, I also want to especially focus on those old ones and familiar ones that have stuck with me.

Learning
love increasing my knowledge, whether it’s by reading National Geographic on the subway or downloading a dozen apps I think I’ll use. But often I take on too many learning projects and some of them end up falling by the wayside. In 2017, I think I need to prioritize which mean the most to me, and which I’ve been trying to achieve for the longest time. My Hungarian is at the top of the list: I’d like to find a way to improve my fluency, even though I have no one here to speak it with and don’t know when I’ll visit the country again, since I just went on my honeymoon. But it’s important to me, to how I define myself, and I don’t want to lose those skills just for lack of practice.

Experiencing
I’ve always felt that part of an experience’s joy comes from the people you share it with; that’s why I try to pack my schedule with as many hangouts with friends and as much time spent with Todd and family as I can. But time alone is also a blessing; it allows you to better know yourself and to allow yourself a little space and a little quiet to think and breathe and just be. In 2017, I want to venture out on my own a little bit more. To take that ballet class or go to yoga even if I don’t have a companion. If I don’t start proactively doing things, I’m never going to try anything new. That said, I am still going to treasure my experiences with other people, like going to a French pastry-making class with Todd (it was one of his Christmas gifts to me) and training with him to run the New York City marathon in 2018.

Writing
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. The urge to put pen to paper lives inside my muscle memory and aches when it goes unfulfilled. And yet, I often don’t write. The litany of excuses is endless: I’m too tired. I don’t have enough time. I can’t get my ideas in order. I have other things to do. But my word of 2017 is focus, and that’s what I’m going to try to do. Focus on one idea, on the words, on the Hemingway quote I had inscribed in my iPad when I first bought it: “The writing is the only progress you make.”

I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, and goal-crushing new year! What are some new resolutions you’ve made? Are there any old ones you’re still working on achieving?

Blogger Secret Santa

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This year I had the chance to participate in a really awesome blogger Secret Santa exchange, hosted by the women behind Classy Cathleen and Living the Gray Life. I couldn’t wait for my Secret Santa gift to arrive, and when it did, I was so happy with what I received from Kristine, a college student who posts great advice and tidbits about her life at My Little Box of Tricks. Thank you, Kristine!!

I opened the box to see this really pretty and sweet card (the tissue paper was much neater; this was after I tried to re-create it, following my tearing open the box and rummaging through it):

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She got me sour candy! Yum! So excited I had to take a picture with it even though it was morning and I looked like a sleepy mess 🙂

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Along with the candy, I received some cookie cutters (perfect!) and a really gorgeous journal with pages that shine on the sides:

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I even used the cookie cutters today when baking my grandma’s Hungarian honey cookies!

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I definitely want to do the blogger Secret Santa again next year, and maybe some of you can join, too. And now…onto Christmas gifts!

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas…

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We’re working hard at work to get the February issue out the door, so I’ll save my lengthier posts for next week. For now, a photo tour of what the start of the holiday season looks like in this little nook of the world!

First, our dining room and our bathroom, which have both gone red and green…

We hung our cute Mickey & Minnie stockings in the living room (can you see we have a Disney theme going on? That’s Dale in our table centerpiece, not to mention the cookie jar and Advent calendars nearby.)

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And, of course, here’s a before and after of our tree!

Last weekend we spent some time in the city taking in the holiday decorations. Here’s a glimpse at the ones we saw at Saks Fifth Avenue:

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And finally, the Rockefeller Center tree…

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Oh, and how could I not include this cute picture of Todd dressed up as an elf during our Black Friday shopping trip?

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Have the holidays come to your neck of the woods? Share some pics; I’d love to see!

A Boo-tiful Halloween

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Wow, I’ve been busy! I’d spent some time planning snacks and activities for a Halloween party held at my friend’s house in Connecticut, and I’m pleased to say that it was a success. We had a sleepover the night before so that we could wake up and get an early start on all of our creations, from chocolate cupcakes to fruit cups meant to look like candy corn.

Clockwise from top left: Elina and me, wearing matching Halloween socks, with Ghost; chocolate-covered Oreo cookies made to look like pumpkins; a salad topped with a sour cream “spider web”; spinach “toxic waste” mac & cheese; and orange, pineapple, whipped cream “candy corn” fruit cups.

At the party we also took pictures with Halloween props and watched Poltergeist, a horror classic that isn’t scary but is fun to poke fun at. We even carved pumpkins! Todd and I went the easy route and just turned out pumpkin into a bat, but some of our friends etched out some really creative designs.

On Sunday, I decided that we still hadn’t had enough Halloween sugar, so I baked a lemon-ricotta cake with cream cheese frosting and a layer of lemon curd, then decorated it with some Halloween sprinkles. I also made mini cupcake versions, but those were topped with a vanilla-malt frosting. Mom and I baked vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting, too, and had fun scarify-ing them with spooky ghosts and gummy worms and any other candy we could find.

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To burn some of those calories, Todd and I did a six-mile run to the Botanical Garden in hopes of seeing some fall foliage. Most of the trees hadn’t begun their transformations yet, but we saw some stunning fall colors near the entrance of the garden. When we got home, we quickly washed Todd’s car before it rained, falling in sheets so thick you couldn’t see through them. It was nice to relax and listen to the storm after the busy weekend we’d had.

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Unfortunately I missed out on seeing the cute costumes of trick-or-treaters because I had to work late yesterday, and it’s likely to be busy and late all week here at O magazine. But it’s okay: I have plenty of sweets and candy to help me power through!

My Bachelorette Painting Party

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In the time since my last post, we’ve mostly been busy with wedding planning. We finalized the music selections for our ceremony and reception. We organized our seating chart and coordinated with the florist. We ordered our cake topper, created a program for hotel guests, and figured out our favors. We sorted hundreds of pearls based on size and shape: flat-bottom, large, medium, small, very small. But the best part of the past two weeks was the one thing I didn’t plan: my bachelorette party! Continue reading

And So Lent Begins. Only 39 Days until Easter.

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Yesterday morning I took a little detour on my mile-long walk to work and stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Despite being dwarfed by the skyscrapers that surround it, the cathedral cuts a majestic figure, all towering Neo-Gothic spires and stained glass. It takes up an entire city block on its own; more than 3,000 people can find solace in its pews. Once inside, I joined a quick-moving line of city dwellers and tourists, all marveling at the intricate statues and prayer stations along the walls. Then it was my turn—a smiling priest dipped his thumb in dark ash, from palm fronds blessed last Palm Sunday, and rubbed it on my forehead in the shape of a cross. Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. It was Ash Wednesday, and Lent had officially begun.

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