The LA Times

I escaped to Los Angeles a few weeks ago for a brief work trip, but also had the chance to pay my best friend of over fifteen years a visit. If you glanced at our wardrobes, you’d think we were drastically different. Uyen is a tiny Asian girl with piercings and tattoos who once toured the US with a gritty metal band, has the softest voice when she speaks but can belt a ballad that will move you to tears, tears up the LA street art scene, is a respected art director, and still manages to cook for an army. She is a rare breed of female with a strong sense of self and compassionate to the core. Truth be told, our vast differences make for a very ying-yang synergy. Carrie had Samantha and I have Uyen. 

If I could wish any kind of friendship for my future daughter and for you, it would be to have a friendship like this. The kind that will save you when you’ve lost all hope in humanity, the kind that doesn’t need anything from you but your company, the kind that is an effortless two-way street. But, most importantly, the kind that will teach you how to be the best version of yourself.  

1. Found Greece in LA on a solo date at the Griffith Observatory | 2. Our choice of patterns says it all | 3. No colors were harmed in the making of the biff's closet | 4. A very basic travel outfit | 5. Morning cup of Joe at Alfred Coffee | 6. LA, you're beautiful.

Beauty Essentials

I think I'm going through a phase. My beauty routine used to be pretty mellow and low-maintenance: clean face with Clarisonic, moisturize, fill in eyebrows, go. I probably spent $100/year on beauty-related products. These days, however, I am taking my skincare and beauty routine just a little more seriously and have found some essentials that really work for me. Most of these were tested and referred by trusty friends, with the exception of the Maybelline concealer which I discovered (and swear by) at Target. What are some of your beauty essentials?

1. Sonia Kashuk Totally Orderly Costmetics Bag ($15) - Super spacious and low-key bag with plenty of storage to keep everything organized. Travel-sized toiletries fit perfectly in the pockets for easy traveling. 
2. Laura Mercier Mineral Powder in Natural Beige ($39) - I only use powder for those 'special pretty days,' but when I do this powder blends easily and a little goes a long way.
3. The Face Shop Chia Seed Eye Cream ($20) - My younger sister introduced me to The Face Shop, one of Korea's top beauty stores. Their products work so well for Asian skin. This eye cream uses chia seeds to moisturize and whiten the dark circles. I started noticing the effects after about two weeks!
4. Maybelline Cover Stick in Medium Beige ($5) - My miracle stick that covers all the blemishes and dark circles as well as evens skin tone. I recently shared this beauty secret with Style Bistro.
5. Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Medium Brown ($21) - Kim introduced me to wonderful brow pencil that naturally fills in eyebrows. The only bummer is the price! I usually go through 2-3 pencils a month.
6. BeautyBlender ($20) - To evenly and thoroughly blend concealers, foundation, BB creams, etc use this sponge!

The Power of Not Reacting

One of the most valuable skills I've learned from my mentors is how to be proactive.  My logistics-obsessed mind is adept to and loves planning the five hundred steps before executing. I also learned that competition is necessary in business. In any given market, you're miles behind if you spend time reacting to your competitors. In chess, for instance, reacting to instead of anticipating your opponent's next moves can cost you the game. I've long kept my head down when I worked in IT, education, and operations. Those industries weren't focused on a competitive work environment but on productivity. Or perhaps, I just didn't play into it? Recently, however, a few incidents had me disappointed in business relationships. Completely and mentally consumed, I lost almost a week of productivity trying to justify my looming reaction. 

Maybe in self-help books, but what they don't teach you in textbooks is how to effectively react. Or better yet, not react. My natural tendency when I'm feeling riled up and livid is to let my emotions all out, which usually leaves me feeling regretful or obsessing over my reaction. This time, however, I took a page out of Josh's book - the book of no emotions and reason and combined that with my business approach. Instead of being threatened, I re-strategized and became an asset. It's not a game of if you can't beat them, then join them. But, it is a game of leveraging your craft and value.  Playing into or breeding competition makes you lose focus on what you uniquely bring to the table.

When it comes to phones, Samsung will always be a hundred steps behind Apple because here's the thing:  Apple's got a mind of its own. You can't replicate greatness, but why not help cultivate more greatness? That's my new strategy. We all win and I'm sleeping much better this way. It's going to happen to you and certainly many more times with me, but the next time you feel you've lost control (even in personal relationships), don't react. Instead, try to regroup and develop a strategy. 

Not quite winter

Sophie Hulme Twin Keyhole Clutch   | Theory Cafe Coat | Rag & Bone Abbot Fedora | One Teaspoon Bandits | Helmut Lang Turtleneck | Woman by Common Projects

It was delightfully 60 degrees here in New Orleans during Halloween. Then, true to its bi-polar nature, New Orleans returns to the low-80s. I came to this harsh realization when Josh and I awoke with cold-like symptoms. It made it difficult to get work done, but somehow it made me more determined to check off a thousand to-dos in record time! Being sick also makes me aggressively online shop. And so, I hopped over to one of my favorite online destinations - The Dreslyn - to find some not-quite-winter pieces to pair with my new One Teaspoon shorts! I plan on attacking the Sophie Hulme clutch first followed by the Theory Coat (because there's a huge sale and 10% additional discount with the code NOLIMITS). I think these two will be perfect additions to my coming-of-winter wardrobe, don't you? 

Happy November to me & an even happier November to you!