Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day + Sapphire Bee Giveaway Winner!

While many of you are celebrating your three or four-day weekend, please take a moment to reflect why this holiday is observed. It is a day to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the US Armed Forces. Don't forget to thank those who are currently serving, too! I hope everyone is enjoying the day, spending time with family and friends.

Veteran proudly marching in one of the many  Memorial Day parades on Long Island.
Photo Credit: Mary-Jo Peritore.

For the Sapphire Bee Giveaway, the winner is comment 32, Despina! Congratulations and thanks to all who entered.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May Angels Lead You In.

Throughout the week, I have been thinking about what I would write in this post. Where do I start? How should I phrase this? What if I forget something important? Last night, I decided I would wing it. This might not make sense to you at the moment, but once you reach the end, you will see why putting this post together was so important to me.

When I was younger, I was informed that my Aunt Anita, Uncle John, Aunt Angie and Joe-Joe were not actually related to me. I don't remember how old I was, or what spawned the topic of conversation. What I remember taking from that conversation was that just because they weren't blood relatives didn't mean they weren't my family. The unbreakable bond that holds us together is love.

When I was around the age of two, I tripped on our carpet and landed on the edge of the brick fireplace, gashing the area next to my eyebrow and part of my eyelid. Panic-stricken, my mother got ahold of Aunt Anita, who lived across the street. She rushed us to the pediatrician, then the hospital, where I got my stitches, courtesy of some plastic surgeon. Aunt Anita was there on my first day of kindergarten, as I boarded the bus and waved goodbye to my mother, who was witnessing one of the many milestones her baby girl would achieve. Oh, I should also mention that she was the one who arranged my mother's baby shower, while I was safely nestled in the womb, enjoying copious amounts of Carvel's chocolate soft serve ice cream - mom's favorite at the time. I could tell you stories for hours, but you get the idea - she's amazing, and she's my aunt.

Last Sunday, I called my mother. She was panicky, and was telling me she had to go, she was on the phone with Aunt Angie. I was worried, so I spoke with her firmly, and asked what was wrong. I wanted to make sure everything was okay. Everything was far from okay. My fourteen year old cousin, Dominic, had died. An accident on the jet ski. I froze, and told her to call me back. I knew the phone call on the other line was more important. As soon as I hung up the phone, I ran to my closet to put a proper change of clothes on. I didn't know where I would be going, but I knew that I wanted to be with my mom. I called Erich's job in a panic, telling him what I knew, and that I was going to my mom's. Before I walked out of the door, my mom had told me to just go to my Aunt Anita's house, she would meet me there.

As I arrived at the house, I had my sunglasses on, to hide my tears. Joe-Joe (I just call him Joe now) was outside with a few other relatives, and with Dominic's younger brother, John. I walked over, said hello quietly, and little John started talking to me about the ants on the walkway. I kneeled down, trying to hold back my tears, and explained about the ant hill, and told him to watch the ants walking through the cracks of the sidewalk. Matter-of-factly, he told me that this wasn't a sidewalk, it wasn't close to the street. At the tender age of three and a half, he corrected me. I said, you're right - this is a walkway, not a sidewalk. We looked at the flowers outside for a bit, then he grabbed my hand, and asked me to push him on the swings.

As I walked into the backyard and put him on the swing, I told him that when I was little, his grandma and grandpa had a swing set for us to play on. He said, "When you were three?" I smiled, for the first time in hours and said, "When I was three." He smiled, and seemed to be amazed that at one point, I too, had been three. I don't know how it happened, but I saw the back screen door slide open, and out came two of his cousins and his younger sister. I guess one of the adults heard me in the backyard, and knew they would be safe with me. I looked at all of their faces, realizing how much they had grown. With work, life, and everything else that had come up, I didn't see them often at all. I knew from that very moment, that I needed to be present in their lives.

When the skies became darker, I led the little ones inside and took them downstairs to the basement, which has been a play room for as long as I could remember. Many of the toys I played with were there, and I had a strong sense of nostalgia. I also thought of Dom immediately. When Dom's grandfather had passed away a few years ago, many of us retreated to the basement, just as we had when we were younger. Dom and I had formed a special bond at that time. When we were at the wake, he and I sat outside the room and talked. School, music, sports, food - we talked for hours. I also told him that I would take him to go see the new Miley Cyrus movie, Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, just as long as his parents were okay with it. We had a blast at the movie, and I am so glad that we got to have the experience. As he got older, and grew out of this phase, I would often ask him how Miley was doing. He would make a face at me, and we would both smile. He knew I meant well, but I couldn't resist teasing him!

Whenever I had free time throughout the week, I made sure I was at my aunt's house to help out. I spent most of my time with the little ones, playing in the basement, along with help from other adults in the house. I told them each night that I was there, that we would have a pajama party in the basement. I figured with all of the chaos going on, I'd try to make this as positive as I could for the little ones. Going home at night was rough. Everything I held in during the day became uncorked when I came home. I would watch the news, think about things, and would search for songs for Dom. I don't know what I would have done without Erich. He held me as I cried, listened to my stories about Dom, and rubbed my back when I was having trouble sleeping.

Erich and I attended the wake in the afternoon, because he had to work that night, and I was watching the little ones that night. As soon as I walked into the room, it really hit me. This was really happening. My cousin Lisa must have seen the look in my eyes, because she came right over to me and hugged me. I broke down in her arms. As she held me, she told me that since I had been so strong and so busy, it was finally real to me. She was right. As I knelt in front of my cousin, I prayed to God to make sure he took care of him and made sure he was safe. I told Dom that I loved him so much, and that I missed him terribly. I told him that I was helping with the little ones, and that I would make sure to be there for them. At the evening portion of the wake, over 1,000 people came, waiting in line for hours to pay their respects, and to share stories of Dom. At the young age of fourteen, he touched so many lives.

The line outside of O.B. Davis - it was down the side street, too.
Photo Credit: Frankie Daloia.
Waiting patiently in line to honor Dominic. Beyond grateful to all of you.
Photo Credit: Frankie Daloia.

The following day was sad, but we were all together as a family. In the church, Lisa's son Matthew wanted to sit in my lap, and I started to cry as I held him. I told him that I loved him, and he hugged me back, and said, "I love you too, Shelly." Those beautiful babies, my gosh. If it weren't for them, I honestly don't know how I would have gotten through the week. In a time of sadness, I was also surrounded by love and joy. The little hugs, sloppy kisses, and calls for "Micheley," to either bring them upstairs to go potty, or to get them a cookie - they were truly my saving grace this week. Dominic's cousin Vincent also led his cousins to the altar, while he gave a wonderful speech they had prepared the night before. It was funny, heartwarming and beautiful - just like Dominic. How blessed we were to have him in our lives!

My mother wrote a poem that brought comfort to me, and I would like to share it. 

I asked God, God why did you take Dom from us so soon. Such a young soul with so many things left to do. So many dreams still undone. God, how will we get through this pain, the emptiness in your heart, the darkness in our world. He was our joy, our laughter, our shining star that lights our world. God told me, “Dom had a wonderful life here on earth and his work here on earth is done. I have important work for Dom here in heaven that cannot wait. You have seen how he has touched so many lives here on earth, well here in heaven he will be able to reach so many more souls that need his tender touch, his joy, his love. He will light the way for others in need.”But God we love him, we miss him. What are we to do without him? God laughed at me and said “Look around you, his sprit is all around you. He will live on through all of you, through the memories you share. Do not cry for he is safe and happy to be here with me. You will all see him again when the time is right.”- cg

Although I am still sad, I have made it a point to smile, laugh and find the beauty in life this week - after all, that is what Dom would want me to do. Friday night at dinner, I laughed so hard, and truly enjoyed myself for the first time in a week. I have a great story from dinner, involving my uncle and a biscuit, but i'll save that for another day. It was a memory made and Dom definitely would have found it amusing. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Man Behind Karmaloop's Killer Shoes.

It all started last summer with my search for a pair of Jeffrey Campbell Lita's. I was chatting about sneakers via Instagram, with Karmaloop's former Lifestyle Marketing Director. I had casually asked if he knew when the store would restock black Lita's, which had been sold out everywhere. A week or so later, I received a reply from someone I didn't know, informing me that the Lita's had been restocked. I was thrilled with the news, and snagged the coveted shoes immediately. After my order was placed, I went back on Instagram to find out who had tipped me off to the restocking. Lo and behold, it was the head of women's footwear for Karmaloop, Joe Farese. No wonder he knew they were back in stock - he was the one who ordered them! Since then, I have picked Joe's brain on more than one occasion about shoes and fashion, and he has always answers me promptly. I'm not the only person who has noticed Joe's knack for stocking the hottest shoes around. Celebrities Jeffree Star and Jenna Jameson have both sported Karmaloop treats on their feet. I approached Joe regarding an interview, and he was more than happy to contribute. He spoke about his career in the industry, his influences, and creating the Jeffrey Campbell x Karmaloop collection (!!!).

Joe Farese, Head of Women's Footwear at Karmaloop.
You are currently the women’s shoe buyer for Karmaloop – what are some other jobs you have had in the fashion industry? 
Well when I was still in college, I did a summer internship for L.A.M.B. at their New York offices. That was my first step into the fashion world, apart from retail jobs. I also worked at Luna Boston, a local high end retailer who actually became really popular online for a while.

When choosing the shoes for Karmaloop, do pick the styles on your own, or gather input from your coworkers and friends?
When I go to trade shows or showroom appointments it is usually on my own, however recently I hired an assistant buyer. I have been working with her for a year so it was more like a promotion for her. I now have her take a look at the orders before we send them in, just to be sure I did not miss anything or I ordered something that she thinks is terrible! We are so different; I want all black, studs and 7 or more inches high. And she is more of a flats and cute wedge or chunky heel. So we are a perfect match.

Which fashion icons have had an influence on you?
So many! When I was younger it was more musicians that had influence on what I liked and thought was cool. Bjork comes to mind as a BIG influence. Before you say how is this kid a buyer and Bjork is his muse? Well take a look at her outfits over the years… I guarantee you 90% of them were custom Alexander McQueen couture pieces. She just gets a bad rap for that one avant-garde swan dress! But she is actually one of the most brilliant people alive today when it comes to creativity. Also she and McQueen were best friends… not many people know that, she actually sang at his private funeral service.

Shooting new Jeffrey Campbell promo in the  Mojave Desert with Bridgette from JC.

What are some of your favorite shoes, from your personal collection? I was going to ask you what your favorite pair was, but I realized that it’s impossible to choose just one pair.
That’s a tough question! While I do have a LOT of shoes, I usually cycle through them season to season, from the Karmaloop brands. I currently love my pair of Coltrane’s… I wear them literally every day! I also just got the Judas Spike sandals I can’t wait to wear all summer. I also love the soon to be released JC x Karmaloop collaboration shoes I designed. (YOU JUST WAIT!) Unif Hellraisers are also always in heavy rotation. For designer, my Vivienne Westwood pirate boots for Fall, my Rick Owens Suede sneakers for Winter and my Gucci runway 2009 loafers for Spring/Summer and my McQueen dragonfly iridescent dress shoes for fancy time!

I heard there is going to be a Karmaloop x Jeffery Campbell collaboration. Would you be able to divulge a bit of information to the readers, or is this top secret?
All I can say is its AMAZING (and not just because I designed the collection, shah)! They are truly out of this world. They are sneaker wedge hybrids… but more extreme than anything else currently on the market. The collection is entitled “Paradigm” and all you need to do is imagine Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh, Lady Gaga and an Alien had a baby…..
 They will be out in late June / early July….. Keep checking my Instagram for sneak peeks of the collection!

Sneak peek at the Karmaloop x Jeffrey Campbell collection, Paradigm.
What trends will take us through the remainder of 2012? What about 2013?
 Spikes! Spikes are still going strong, and will continue into summer then fall. Also sneakers are making a comeback, but heeled sneakers, and not tacky heeled sneakers. Lots of hidden wedges, platforms (but not all Spice Girl Platforms), and lucite heels are big along with geometric floral prints a la Givenchy. Not sure on 2013 yet, I will see the spring collections in August in Las Vegas!

Are there any other realms of fashion that you would like to explore?
Right now I am happy being a buyer, and I could not be luckier than to be working with footwear. Right now footwear is THE trend. You can wear a potato sack, and have a killer pair of heels and the outfit will be out of this world.

Anniel glitter shoes paired with H+M metallic skinny jeans. 

What are some shoes that every woman should have in her closet?
 BLACK. Anything and everything black and you cannot go wrong. Also people take you more seriously in the industry if you keep your look monochrome, at least that’s how I feel.

How about for the gentlemen?
Same goes for men, but also you need a good skinny pant (black obviously). Believe it or not I get mine from the girls section at H & M for $24.99! I have been since college, they are extremely tight and I can wear them every day. I buy them in bulk. Stay away from my size 4’s!

Surrounded by shoes in Joe's office. Sweatshirt: Givenchy; Jacket: Versace.

If you could style anyone (alive, dead, or a fictional character), who would it be?
 Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. And Madonna.

Fashion and music go hand-in-hand, so a soundtrack that inspires and motivates is essential. Choose ten songs to share with the readers.
 *Checks iPhone for top 25 played songs*
1.     Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – Eurythmics
2.     Derezzed – Daft Punk
3.     ScheiBe – Lady Gaga
4.     Year of Silence – Crystal Castles
5.     Mercy Street – Fever Ray
6.     Mutual Core – Bjork
7.     Seaww – oOoOO
8.     The Beast Within – Madonna
9.     Dancing Mad -  Nobuo Uematsu
10.  Soft Power – Ladytron

I am so stoked for the Jeffrey Campbell x Karmaloop collaboration to arrive. While you wait patiently for its arrival, head over to Karmaloop and check out what Joe and his assistant have stocked the store with. If you use the rep code ShortGirlLongIsland, you'll save 20%, which is always a plus. If you're on Instagram, be sure to add Joe (bullshit_be_mine). You can also access the playlist with Joe's picks on Spotify - click here to listen to shoes, shoes, shoes.

Drawings + inspiration for the Karmaloop x JC collection adorn Joe's office.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Revolution: The Replacement For Lost?

While Erich was watching a video on YouTube, a commercial popped up. He had the option to skip it after a few seconds in, but it caught his attention. He called me over to watch it, and we sat there for a few minutes, in amazement.

Since Lost has ended, Erich and I haven't found a show that we both religiously watch. Granted, I was a few years late to the Lost party, but once Erich introduced me, I was hooked. We had Lost marathons, then we would sit around and discuss what we had just watched. The last season brought lots of tears - remember the Jin and Sun episode? We have dabbled into other shows, but nothing has compared to our love of Lost.

Now, after seeing the trailer for Revolution, I am hoping that this will whet my appetite for a gripping television series. JJ Abrams (executive producer of Lost, Fringe, and Person of Interest) is behind this series, along with director (yes, the actor) Jon Favreau and writer/producer Eric Kripke (Supernatural).

The storyline is interesting, and is some strange way, reminded me of The Hunger Games. Not the love story fluff, but the idea of a country in upheaval. This will be in a prime time slot, so there will definitely be alludes to romance, but I hope that isn't the main focus of the show. From what I can tell, this will definitely operate in a Lost-like fashion, with a plethora of flashbacks. 

Even in four minutes, you can tell which characters will help carry the show. Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Gospel Hill, The Usual Suspects) commands presence, even before he utters a word. Billy Burke, who most tweens will recognize as Bella Swan's law enforcement father, from the Twilight franchise, ditches his pornstache for some sweet sword wielding. Will Tracy Spiridakos be just a pretty face, or will she prove to be the Katniss-like heroine her father needs her to be? Only time will tell. 

With this show, there will be no grey area - it will either be a hit, or its going to flop. I'm hoping its the former, because the show, if done correctly, could quite possibly fill the void where Lost once was. 

Image via NBC

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day Gift Ideas.

This Sunday is Mother's Day. Usually, I purchase these gifts weeks in advance, but occasionally, it slips my mind until a few days before. If you happen to be in that situation, have no fear! Here are a few gift ideas I put together.

French Farmhouse Crate and Bottles ($16), Kintage.
Vintage Style Glass Heart Bracelet ($45), MerCurios.
Z340 Instant Digital Camera ($300), Polaroid.
Grill Salt and Pepper Set ($16), Target.
iPad, ($399), Apple.
EcoBeauty Essentials Green Makeover Box ($250), Spirit Beauty Lounge.
Pour-Over Brewing System ($13), Starbucks.

Don't have enough time to pick something up, and these aren't striking your fancy? Have no fear! Go the DIY route. Make a card, create a few awesome IOU's (examples: dinner and a movie, clean the house, plant a garden together, breakfast in bed, etc.), and you're good to go! When making the IOU's, make sure you keep her likes and interests in mind. If you know she can barely keep her bamboo plant alive, an IOU for gardening probably isn't the best idea. If your don't know how to cook, make sure the IOU is for a night out to dinner. 

Good luck, and don't forget to wish all of the mommas you see a happy Mother's Day!

Same-Sex Marriage + Where I Stand.

I usually don't discuss politics with anyone except my family, unless they are part of my friend Jessica's family. I am a registered voter. I selected a political party when I registered at the age of eighteen, but I have often voted outside of the party. I listen to what the candidates have to say, and do some research on my own. I have never been one to follow the leader - I march to beat of my own drum and make my own decisions. I voice my opinion, even if it gets me in trouble (which it has on more than one occasion).

In the realm of politics, President Barack Obama publicly stated this week that he supports same-sex marriage. Also this week, we learned that voters in North Carolina approved a constitutional amendment, banning not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions.

Kudos to you, Mr. President - in an election year, this was a gutsy move to make. I applaud your openness to support this issue, because you know this statement can make or break your chances of being reelected, depending on the Republican candidate who secures the presidential nomination (right now, the only three Republicans who are in the picture are Fred Karger, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney - two of these gentleman support same-sex marriage, one of them being the first openly gay presidential candidate to represent the Republican party).

I believe everyone should have to right to voice their opinion without being ripped to shreds. As my father would say when I was younger, "You were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason." Listen to what people have to say, without interruption. You might not agree with them, but there might be something they have said in there that you do agree with. There might be something you learn while listening. Now, I will probably get flack for what I am about to say, but I mentioned before I voice my own opinion. With that said...

I am all for same-sex marriage. Why? Well, why not? 

Will I eventually get married? Probably. Anytime soon? Not likely, which is fine by me. 

But I have the ability to make whatever decision I choose to, and that is the beauty of it all.

After this news became conversation on numerous social media sites I frequent, I connected with my friend, Shawn. He and his husband, Justin, were married in October 2009. I asked Shawn a few questions about how their relationship, and how he felt regarding the recent activity in politics regarding same-sex marriage.

How did you two meet?
We met in September 2003 at the local gay hangout.  I had just started being present in the gay scene after having only recently come out.  I was working part time at a restaurant as a host, and one of the gay servers organized an outing for the employees at the gay bar.  After the bar closed, I was drunkenly socializing with my co-workers in the parking lot when (my now good friend) Sherry – very tipsy herself – came up to me and started complimenting my looks.  We chitchatted for several minutes before finally leaving to go home.  

Since I had such a fun time at the bar, I decided to go out the following weekend despite not having a friend or date to hang out with.  I had been awkwardly sitting at the bar having a drink by myself for a little while when Sherry (in a more sober state than I had last seen her) approached me with some friends and asked if I was the cute Asian she had been talking to in the parking lot the previous weekend.  Grateful that I wouldn’t have to spend the rest of the evening alone, I humbly said that I was in fact the cute Asian, and she promptly invited me to join her and her friends.  I followed them to the back patio not knowing what I was getting myself into, and I quickly befriended her small clique of friends (that Justin was well a part of) that would end up being my social group for the next couple years.  After an hour or so, Justin showed up having just gotten off work and hung out with the rest of us.

When did you start dating?
After a couple weeks of hanging out in our little friend group, Justin and I increasingly flirted with each other, talking on the phone and IMing.  The first time we hung out with each other without our friend group was maybe three weeks after we had met, and it wasn’t a date per se, but we did have dinner and ended up going on a nighttime visit to the beach.  The following week, we decided to go on a proper first date at an Italian restaurant.  Dinner went swimmingly until the end, when I tried to pay with a card at a cash-only restaurant.  Justin had to run to an ATM down the street to get some cash so we wouldn’t have to dine and dash!  

Who proposed?
There was never a formal proposal per se, since our ability to get legally married was sorely limited. (Sure, we could have had a non-legal commitment ceremony, which many choose to do, but we never really entertained that option for whatever reason.) A couple years into the relationship, we did get each other rings (which we wore on the wedding ring finger) as a visible sign of our commitment to each other.  After we had been together for about four years and had moved to Illinois, we started to entertain the possibility of getting married.  We liked the symbolic nature of the act of marriage as a formal ceremony where two people commit to each other, but we appreciated the pragmatic aspects of it as well, such as power-of-attorney and being able to make legal decisions about the other’s life (e.g., in the event of a life-threatening injury).  Although we would have been able to draft legal documents giving us that decision-making power over each other without the need for marriage, there have been cases where those kinds of non-marital powers-of-attorney have been challenged, for instance, by healthcare providers when one of the people is in the hospital.  In 2008, when same-sex marriage became legal in Iowa, we decided to get married the following year, partly due to the state’s close proximity.  

When did you two get married?
We got married in October 2009, with our moms, my grandmother, Justin’s two sisters and their daughters, and my younger brother.  Our good friend and Justin’s coworker, Angel, married us on a brisk Autumn day on the banks of the Mississippi River in Pigeon Creek Park, just outside of Davenport, Iowa.  

Do you plan on starting a family?
Since we’re both students at the moment, we’re not in a place where we could feasibly entertain the idea of starting a family.  Once we’re both done with school, we’ve considered the possibility of adopting a child.

How do you feel regarding the decision to ban same-sex marriage in North Carolina?
As I understand it, North Carolina is the 30th state to pass some law or amendment banning same-sex marriage.  It’s understandably disheartening but not entirely unexpected, given the general culture in North Carolina.  It’s also dumbfounding when you think about the fact that people are so threatened by the idea of two men or two women getting married that they use up all these resources and exert all this energy drumming up support for the ban.  There are so many more pressing issues in this country.  It seems so odd to me that two people of the same sex wanting to enter a legally-binding commitment to each other bothers such a large subset of Americans (ironically, the same Americans who laud stable relationships and implore the government to stay out of their lives, but whatever).  

What was your reaction to President Obama’s statement supporting same-sex marriage?
Obviously, I’m really happy to hear the President say, without any reservations, that two people of the same sex should be able to get married.  However, I know that for a lot of LGBT people, this lengthy process of “evolving” in his thinking on same-sex marriage has been a bit frustrating, but at least we’ve got his wholehearted approval now.  It’s an historic moment to have a sitting president make this statement.  A news story that I read in passing said that Obama still feels that same-sex marriage is still a states’ rights issue, so I’m not sure exactly how that fits into his administration’s approach to DOMA and possibly leading an effort to overturn it.  But Obama’s administration has shown increasing support for LGBT rights, from repealing DADT to instructing the DOJ to refrain from defending the constitutionality of DOMA in several federal lawsuits, so there are some positive signs coming from the White House.

Do you think marriage is taken seriously in this country?
With the exception of some of these high-profile celebrity marriages that end in divorce after only a short time, I would guess that most people who get married do take it seriously. However, given the fact that most marriages end in divorce, I’m not sure that most people necessarily expect marriage to be a life-long commitment sort of deal anymore.  People may enter into the marriage contract with every intention of sticking it out until the end, but it more often than not doesn’t turn out that way.  While “‘til death do us part” is certainly the idealized version of marriage, relationships are complicated and are not always easy, and sometimes the best solution is for them to dissolve.  But I don’t know that it necessarily means that because most marriages end in divorce, people don’t take marriage seriously.  

How do these political decisions affect your lives?
It’s the pragmatic aspects that have the most effect.  We were married for over a year before we were able to enjoy any kind of legal protection in Illinois, as a result of Illinois passing a civil unions bill that honored same-sex marriages and civil unions performed in other states.  Before that law went into effect, Justin and I only enjoyed the legal protections and benefits of marriages if we were physically in Iowa (where we didn’t reside) and if we happened to be present in the handful of other states where same-sex marriage or civil unions were legal.  We don’t enjoy the federal tax benefits that heterosexual married couples enjoy because DOMA doesn’t allow the federal government to recognize us as married.  Issues such as property and pensions will also come into play depending on where we live when those kinds of issues become pertinent.  If DOMA remains as it is and we happen to live in another state where same-sex marriages aren’t recognized, we’d have to draft legal documents just to have things like power-of-attorney and the other legal-related issues.  It’s pretty unfair that same-sex couples have to jump through all these extra hoops to ensure certain aspects of their relationship because of the fact that both parties happen to be of the same sex.  A ridiculous argument that some people make is, hey, marry a person of the opposite sex, and you’ll have all the marriage rights you want!  I think these are the same people who think LGBT people want to marry their pets. 

Image via LA Weekly.
So, what was the point behind this post? I believe everyone deserves the right to choose and everyone deserves to be happy, in all aspects of their lives. We are all unique and different, which makes us wonderful. We all have varying beliefs and we should be able to express our opinions, our true selves, and our love. It makes me sad to see people in this country denied the right to marry.

The Sapphire Bee Giveaway!

Happy Friday, everybody! I hope your week has gone well, and that you have a wonderful weekend ahead of you. The latest contest has been a secret I've been keeping for weeks. Two weeks ago, I showed readers the wonderful wares designed by my friend Brittany, the gal behind The Sapphire Bee. I mentioned that all of the pieces are one of a kind, and that I was made a custom necklace, that no one would have but me.

Welllllll, that wasn't entirely true. But I couldn't spill the beans! Brittany made two of the cameo necklaces - one for me, and one for a lucky reader at short girl, long island. This piece was carved out of grey resin and hand painted by Brittany. It was set on an antiqued silver setting, and adorned with eight red Swarovski crystals. It hangs from a 24" silver link chain, and is perfect for all seasons! 

To enter:
Go over to The Sapphire Bee and check out what the store has to offer. Then, come back here and leave a comment (with your name and email address), telling me what your favorite item is in the store.

Bonus entries (up to 5!):
Follow short girl, long island via Bloglovin' or GFC.
Follow The Sapphire Bee via Bloglovin' or GFC.
Like short girl, long island on Facebook or Twitter.
Like The Sapphire Bee on Facebook or Twitter.
Tweet about the contest, using this tweet: "Check out The Sapphire Bee giveaway @stellarmichele + @thesapphirebee are holding over at short girl, long island.:"

Now, for any extra entries you complete, you must post each in a separate comment. If you put them all into one comment, they will not count. Be sure to include your name and email address, blog link or twitter name in all of your comments, so I can reach you if you are the winner.

Contest ends May 25, 2012 at 11:59p, EST. Winner will be notified via email and will have forty-eight hours to respond.

Good luck!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ladies and Gentleman, Tony Lucca Is Back!

When we have our television on, its usually for background noise. The only time I really pay attention is when I want to watch the news or The Big Bang Theory is on. One night, as I was surfing the 'net, I heard the name Tony Lucca mentioned on television. Growing up a fan of the Mickey Mouse Club, I knew that name and immediately looked up. I said to Erich, "Tony Lucca is on TV!" He had no clue who I was talking about, so he didn't really care. As I listened to him briefly speak about his life since MMC, I was very excited to hear him sing. He chose Ray LaMontagne's "Trouble." As soon as he opened his mouth, I had chills, followed by tears in my eyes. Watching the reaction of Lucca's wife and son, as all of the judges "said yes" melted my heart.

Since that evening, I haven't watched The Voice. I started training for the 5K, I had school, and other things going on. I basically forgot about my rediscovery of Tony Lucca. Then, tonight, I saw a video of Adam Levine joining Tony on stage, singing the Beatles' "Yesterday."

Chills, again. Now, I should be writing a research paper that is due tomorrow that is barely started, but I started watching videos on the NBC site, listening to Tony's voice and studying his performance. This, my friends, is a true artist. On the urging of Levine, his Voice coach, Lucca took on former mouseketeer Britney Spears' 1999 hit "Baby One More Time" and made it his own. 

Now, the links I've included are to the iTunes singles of the songs, but in all honestly, the studio does Lucca's voice no justice. He truly shines on stage, during live performances. Need more proof? Check out Tony's performance of Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me," back in 2009, from the comfort of a friends living room.

When you head over to iTunes, make sure to check out Lucca's music library - the singer/songwriter has released a number of albums with his original work. I played a a couple tracks off each album while doing some academic research, but I will need to give each album a good listen from start to finish over the weekend. I don't want to pass judgement, good or bad, on something that did not have my full attention - it would not be a fair assessment.

Over the last fifteen years, I have seen more musicians perform live than I can count. But musicians that can put on a great live show with vocals on point, plus engage the crowd? Well, I can name a few off the top of my head: Jason Mraz, Lauryn Hill, Blink 182, Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Maroon 5 and Phantom Planet, and No Doubt. I'm sure there are more, but as I said, this is off the top of my head at 1:45am, and I still have to write this damned paper. From what I've seen, Lucca would definitely make the cut.

I would love to see Lucca perform live. Not with the touring Voice circus act (no offense to any other artists from the show, but those tours are always the worst), but something along the lines of an intimate gig at a smaller venue. Hell, he would even fare well as an opening act for Mraz, LaMontagne or Maroon 5 (make it happen, Adam!). I would love to say he could do his own major headlining tour, but I think he needs another year or so to put another album out and show the rest of the world what they are missing.

As Lucca said in an interview, this is now the second chapter in his life. I'm happy that he has had the opportunity to show the world what he can do, and I am definitely glad that I was given the opportunity to rediscover him.

image via

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bracelets By Cindi + 20% Coupon Code.

When I was going through jewelry to wear for one of my recent photo shoots, I realized that I had no bracelets. Why? No clue. When I wear jewelry, its always minimal, but I really love when I see gals with an armful of bracelets. One afternoon, while I was on Instagram (what else is new?), I came across these beautiful bracelets, custom made by Cindi Fontanilla. When I had asked Cindi to create a few for my bracelet-less self, she happily obliged. I pretty much told Cindi to make whatever she thought would suit my style, as I didn't want to stifle her creativity.

A few weeks later, I received a package from Hawaii - my bracelets had arrived!

  Cindi sent me four bracelets - two black and chrome bracelets and two from her THINK PINK line. One of the black and chrome bracelets is from her contemporary line, and the other one is a new style she was working on.

The bracelets from the THINK PINK line are my favorite, because breast cancer has taken a loved one from me. When I was eleven, my mom lost one of her best friends to cancer. For years, I watched her fight for her life, stay strong for her children, and hold her head up high throughout it all. I will never forget visiting her in the hospital before she passed away. She was bloated beyond recognition from treatments, but still had a smile on her face. I am usually a very strong individual, but I started crying. She held me as I wept, as tears welled in her eyes. She knew this was the last time she would see me, and being the amazing woman she was, she comforted me, as she had always done. Since then, I make it a point to donate funds or purchase items that donate portions of the proceeds to breast cancer.

Cindi will be donating ALL of the proceeds from her THINK PINK line to the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation. She will not be releasing this line until September or October, but has said if readers want them sooner rather than later, they can contact her at

All of the bracelets that Cindi sent are awesome. They look great stacked together or on their own. I was pleasantly surprised at the closures on the bracelets. Both black and chrome bracelets have a hex nut closure, where the THINK PINK bracelets sport a button closure.

Now, I briefly mentioned a coupon code. Cindi has graciously gifted readers with a 20% off coupon code. When you go to Cindi's Etsy shop, all items might be sold out - she has a hard time keeping the bracelets in stock. What I've been telling friends to do is look at what Cindi has sold in her shop here. She completes many custom orders, which the coupon code is also valid for. Email her at, and tell her what you're interested in. She will set up a custom order for you. When you are ready to purchase use the coupon code MICHELE, and you will receive the 20% off your entire order.

I was just perusing her sales, and I'm in love with her triple wrap bracelet. One of these in a bright color would make a perfect summertime accessory!

To see more of Cindi's work, check out her blog, Instagram, Twitter, and Etsy.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Following in My Father's Footsteps.

The summer after I graduated high school, a former flame told me that I would turn out to be exactly like my mother. I scoffed, telling him he had no clue what he was talking about. Twelve years later, and some self-reflection along the way, he is right - to a degree. I will catch myself saying or doing something, and say, "Ugh, I am turning into my mother." I don't mean that negatively at all, its just that I've always said, "I'll never turn out like my parents," which is a laughable statement now. I've picked up habits from my mother, but the ones that are usually unnoticed or not mentioned are those of my father.

Dad's family, 1986. Check out the parentals + their hair (far left), hah!

My dad and I have a unique relationship. I have so many vivid memories of him from my early childhood. Apple picking, dancing in the kitchen, eating ice cream, and watching The Muppet Show. I don't remember when it was, but I remember him calling the house, when Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called To Say I Love You" was on the radio, so he could sing it to me. Once I was in elementary school, I saw mom more than I saw dad - he was working, and mom volunteered at my school. By middle school, I was locking myself in my room, blasting the local alternative station, and ignoring my parental units as much as humanly possible.

By the time I got to high school, we developed a better relationship. It was never strained, but I wasn't his little girl anymore, and conversations were usually about school, marching band, or about how I needed to stop turning to dryer on to get the wrinkles out of my clothes. My dad would wake me up for school (twice, because I wouldn't get up the first time), iron my clothes if they needed pressing, then drive me to school. En route, he would stop to get me breakfast - bagel and a cappuccino. I was beyond spoiled and didn't even realize it. After football games (I was a marching band geek - I was forced to be at the games, only to watch our miserable football team lose nearly every game), my whole family would often go out to Applebee's, Chili's or Pizza Hut, along with a plethora of other band students and parents. He and my mom chaperoned at most of the time - even for away games, and my poor little brother was dragged along for the ride. If it was a home game and I was too tired/antisocial, my dad would make a food stop for me - nine times out of ten it was for a Nachos Bell Grande, with extra sour cream. 

Yeah, I had it made in the shade, folks. 

As I have gotten older, I have a greater respect for my parents. They are human, flaws and all - just like me. They also have quirks, which takes me to the reason for writing this. I have developed habits that definitely make me my father's daughter.

Whenever I listen to Billy Joel in the car or on my iPod, I almost always put on songs that my dad used to sing in the car. Music was also something we bonded over on those morning car rides. I can vividly remember him singing "She's Always A Woman," staying on pitch the entire song. My grandfather could sing and dance like a champ, so I guess this shouldn't have come as a surprise. When I put on Abbey Road, I go to "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" first, as this is my favorite song on the album. Out of nowhere one day, I asked my brother what Beatles song reminded him of dad, and without hesitation, he said "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." 

Besides music and other little quirks that are my father, this last one would make him smile. Last year, I bought a pair of TOMS, which he would say are overpriced - even if they do give children in foreign countries footwear. Anyway, a few months into wearing them, I noticed that when I would wear them around the house, I was folding them down in the back. My dad did the SAME THING with every single pair of his slippers. He never purchased backless (?) slippers; he always got plaid loafer looking ones, that were supposed to cover his heel. As soon as he would get them, he would fold the heel in, and proceed to wear them until he wore them out. 

When I wear my TOMS with jeans or shorts, I fold them back up to wear in public, but they feel weird. I know it sounds crazy, but they are so much more comfortable with the backs folded down. My dad was onto something with those slippers of his. I'll call my dad tomorrow, while he is driving home from work, and tell him about my shoes. Its funny, I just realized that most of our conversations take place while we are both driving. Guess those years of talking in the car still exist.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Two Sundays ago, it was pouring buckets. With so many fires breaking out on Long Island in the last few weeks, the rain was welcomed with open arms. I had two shoots lined up for that day, so we had to alter our plans a bit. The first shoot, which will be featured on another blog at some point in the Spring/Summer, was shot outside. It was so cold out! We had to run around in the rain to get to a covered area. We decided to head to a local library to shoot the second portion. It was a lot of fun, and some of the library staff asked what we were doing. They didn't mind; we were respectful and I'm pretty sure they found it amusing.

Perusing the history books.

I'm only 4'11", so I needed a boost to see the top shelf.
Brett found a Star Wars book for me. He knows what I like!

It was really nice, just relaxing in the library. We sat on the floor and talked about school, work and how much we wanted summer to be here already (although once the August heat is unbearable, we will be crying for autumn to arrive). I found a copy of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and started leafing through the book. I had seen the movie and liked it, so I'm sure the book would be pleasurable. There are lots of music references, which I'm a fan of, so maybe I'll check it out. I need to get a library card, though. I have one for the college, but not for the town libraries. Its foolish, because the libraries out here are AWESOME. 

One of the corners we occupied while frequenting the library.

Leafing through a copy of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

Another amazing ring, handcrafted by Mary-Jo Peritore. She's a genius!
Getting really into an excerpt of the book.

Top: Trash + Luxury, $33.80
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind, $159
Boots: Dr. Martens, $125
Ring: MerCurios, custom order
Necklace: Chandler the Robot, $25
Glasses: Fendi

I'm super stoked for you to see the other photos from the earlier shoot that day, but it'll have to wait until it surfaces on the other blog. Until then, we will all just have to wait and see. :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

NONA has Arrived!

Back in 2003, a friend of mine was talking about this band called The Format. Over the years, I downloaded tracks and added them to mixes. With all of my music ventures, I'm surprised I never saw them live. In 2008, The Format parted ways, and I haven't really thought of them much, unless I listen to a mix of mine, which has Time Bomb, from their album Dog Problems. Earlier this year, I heard the song "We Are Young," by the band, fun. Realizing the voice was familiar, I Googled the band. Lo and behold, fun. frontman is Nate Reuss from The Format! I also found out that Sam Means, who co-founded The Format with childhood friend, Nate, was also working on his solo career. I went over to Sam's site, to check out his tunes. I was excited about what Sam had created, and I could not wait til his EP, NONA, was released.

NONA is named for Sam's daughter, Lola, who had trouble pronouncing her name - hence the title of the album. The EP contains five tracks, most of which fall under the three minute mark. Have no fear though, Means created some quality tunes. All of the tracks showcase a variety of instrumentation, which are tastefully arranged. Means is a talented musician, and it shows in his work. My favorite track is "Will You Hang Around," but I truly love the entire EP. Its not often that I find new releases that I listen to from start to finish, but NONA is definitely noteworthy. 

As of yesterday, NONA is now available on iTunes. If you'd rather go the independent route (which I highly suggest), you can download it from Sam's site by clicking here. If you go to the aforementioned link, you can listen to the EP in its entirety before purchasing. If you're a collector like I am, you can also purchase the exclusive Record Store Day release 7" NONA vinyl, which includes the digital downloads. Either way, you can't go wrong.

Here is Sam performing an acoustic version of "Will You Hang Around." Happy listening!

Will You Hang Around? (Acoustic) from Means on Vimeo.

You can find Sam Means on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Image and video via Sam Means.