Archive for December, 2011

{Thankful November} 26: A Great Haircut

December 27th, 2011 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

Hair freshly cut (Christmas 2011)

Since changing professions, I had been holding off on getting a real haircut.  Several months ago I took advantage of a discounted hair coloring deal that included a free “haircut”, but it was so bad I’m not going to even call it a haircut.  Not long after, I decided to take matters into my own hands and gave myself bangs.  I did a lot of YouTube research, and the results actually weren’t that bad after I thinned them out a little and let them grow out past the “Dumb and Dumber” length.  I have been trimming them every few weeks ever since.

Last week I decided it was time to let a profession intervene and saw Cheryl at Arrojo Studio, a true hair genius.  I discovered her through a friend of a friend soon after I moved to the city, and many other friends’ hair has been artistically sculpted by Cheryl over the past three years.

Getting my hair cut by Cheryl at Arrojo Studio (Christmas 2011)

When I was in middle school, my hair transformed from being stick straight as a child to a unfortunately fluffy mass.  Neither I nor any of my hair stylists at the time were equipped to deal with it.  As such, I spent many years with shapeless haircuts, attempting in vain to blow dry it straight.  In high school, I tried everything from drug store hair masks to dipping it in ice water after washing it to coax my hair strands into a cohesive shape.

More than once I’ve had my haircut by a stylist who haphazardly dried my hair into a unflattering poof and told me there was nothing I could do about the cowlicks.  One stylist even suggested I put my headband back on at the end of the haircut.  I can’t believe I actually paid her.

My life changed when I was visiting my college roommate’s family in Texas and had my hair cut by a stylist who introduced to the ceramic flatiron.  I finally found the tool I needed to compete with the cruel Georgia humidity.  This improved my hair aesthetic tremendously, but I still hadn’t experienced anything more than the simple, lightly layered haircuts that boring stylists love to give.

Fast forward to Cheryl.  The first time I saw her I was just starting my job at the law firm, and I was nervous about how I was supposed to dress.  I told her I wanted to look professional but a little sexy.  It was a conservative request, but she gave me the perfect look:

Davina and me, both clients of Cheryl (Fall 2009)

This was the first time someone cut my hair taking its natural wave into consideration.  She actually let it dry a little first to see where the waves were and then cut it so that the ends didn’t stick out in a weird way.  It was simple but brilliant.

I made an appointment to see Cheryl again several months later.

Davina and me (Winter 2010)

I was still being conservative the second time around (adding a swooping side bang… oh la la), but Davina (pictured above) went for something a little more funky.  Both haircuts were fantastic.

When I was getting my hair cut that time around, I asked Cheryl what she would do if she could do anything she wanted to my hair.  She told me she would cut it to chin length.  I agreed to come back in a few months.

Summer 2010

By this time, I knew Cheryl could be trusted.  At my third appointment, I asked her to do whatever she thought would make me look the best.  She cut it short and added full bangs.  It was a huge success, and I felt amazing.

There is, at least for some, a definite connection between hairstyle and attitude.  A sassy haircut renders a sassier person.  When you can be confident that you look great, you tend to be more sure of yourself, which manifests in your life in so many positive ways.

If you are in the New York City area, whether permanently or simply for travel, do yourself a huge favor and book a hair appointment with Cheryl at Arrojo Studio.  She’s not cheap, but she cares about and understand hair more than anyone I’ve ever met.  Consider it an investment in yourself.

I’m definitely going to miss Cheryl after I leave.

Davina and me (Christmas 2010)

{Thankful November} 25: Thanksgiving…

December 23rd, 2011 | Rachel

…and other people or food-focused holidays.

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

Thanksgiving Spread 2011

Here we are, the namesake of this whole “Thankful November” blog feature.

Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for a long time.  I remember contemplating the essence of Thanksgiving back in high school, so we’re talking at least ten years now.

I don’t particularly care for holidays and events that involve gifts.  This might make me look like a scrooge, but I don’t like birthday presents or Christmas presents or even wedding presents per se.  What I do like is finding something that makes me think of someone and getting it for them or purposely seeking out some sort of token to show someone I am thinking of them.  I also prefer shared experiences over tangible things.

This is just one of the reasons Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  There are no gifts exchanged at Thanksgiving, no societal pressure to buy your kids the coolest toys or give your significant other something they can brag about to their friends.  No, the only purchases made at Thanksgivingtime are made at the grocery store.

The focal point of Thanksgiving is, usually, the Thanksgiving dinner.  With the food is the main event, a natural byproduct is sitting around a large table and conversing with one another.  It is in every way a communal holiday.

Although I was not able to spend Thanksgiving with my family this year, I did participate in a lovely Southern-style traditional Thanksgiving dinner c0-hosted by my friend Arthur.  We had a great group of about 12 guests including Steve, several of our church friends, a friend’s visiting mother, a Canadian and a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen since college who happened to be visiting from San Francisco.

Thanksgiving Co-Hosts (2011)

Delicious Roasted Turkey (2011)

Dinner was about an hour and a half behind schedule, so there was plenty of time for our guests to catch up with the people they knew and get to know the people they did not.  When the turkey — a gift from my bakery — was finally finished, there was much feasting, followed by even more fellowship.  It was everything a holiday should be.

Christmas is coming up this weekend, and even though gift-giving is an expected part, there will also be many opportunities to focus on the two far more important aspects: food and people.  I am greatly looking forward to both.

My brother, father, and grandfather loading up their plates on Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving for two with my mom (2008)

{Thankful November} 24: Steve

December 22nd, 2011 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

Steve with turkey cookie in Park Slope (2009)

This is the first photo I took of Steve a little over two years ago.  I’ve been documenting his every move with my iPhone ever since.  Ok, it’s not that extreme, but the album of Steve and Rachel photos would be pretty extensive already if I ever took the time to put it together.

Steve and I have somewhat of an unconventional relationship due to the fact that he works on a ship and is away roughly three to five weeks at a time and then returns for a similar duration before going back to the ship.  When we first started dating, Steve was working at a shipyard in South Korea.  Right now he is five miles off the coast of South Africa.

Steve and I met probably the only way a merchant mariner with penchant for traveling and a busy New York City litigator could meet:  I had been sifting through messages from lame 40-year olds and guys with severe grammatical impairments when I did some browsing of my own and found Steve’s handsome face and witty profile. It took us three months to finally meet due to Steve’s work schedule and the fact that I kept cancelling our dates.  When we finally did meet, it was at a wine bar near Flat Iron and I was already three or four glasses down the rabbit hole thanks to a wine class right before our date.

We sat and talked for several hours, well past closing time, until we could no longer ignore the daggers coming from the eyes of the waiter and bartender.  We had our second date a few days later and a third date a few days after that.  Fast forward two years and we’ve island-hopped in Greece, road-tripped in France, house-hunted in California, Magic-Kingdomed in Disney World and taken full advantage of the cultural and culinary offerings of New York City.

I was initially captivated by Steve because of his love of adventure and great listening skills.  Steve is *almost* as well-traveled as I am ;-) and when you talk to Steve, it really feels like he cares about what you are saying.

Not long after that, I learned that Steve is also really good at planning things.  A few months after our first date, Steve sent me a detailed list of 24 dates he wanted to go on, including “23. Tango lesson… followed by Argentinean Steak dinner and pisco sours” (which we did) and “2.  New York Philharmonic and afterwards visiting the famous cheese cart guy” (we’ve been to the Philharmonic several times, but I don’t know about the cheese cart guy).

Steve has a great sense of style (in his own special Steve kind of way… both in his wardrobe and his apartment), and he really cares about his family.  He is very smart, very supportive, very sweet and a little spontaneous.  And he’s good at fixing things.

Steve is a lot to be thankful for, and he’s the perfect companion for this crazy adventure that is going to start next year.

Artistic representation of Steve with turkey cookie (2009)

{Thankful November} 23: Discomfort

December 22nd, 2011 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

If you read the title of this entry and immediately thought of an ad for FiberOne, you are not alone.  It did not go over well with my test audience.  Still, no one could think of a word that better summed up my point.  If you have a suggestion, please share.

Simply put, I am thankful for the times we are inconvenienced, uncertain and uncomfortable because those are times we are the most creative and resourceful.  Those are also the times we are inspired to consider other possibilities and try new things because it is easier to see how much we have to gain… and how little we have to lose.

A prime example of this is my last job at the law firm.  It was no secret that I wasn’t loving the job anymore, and I regularly joked about what I would rather be doing (namely, moving to France and opening a bed and breakfast, which is how this blog was named).  Even though I knew I would be happier doing something else, the fact remained that I was making a very comfortable salary at the firm and enjoyed a lot of other perks of being a “successful” professional in New York City.

Then the day came when two partners walked into my office and informed me the firm was “terminating its relationship” with me.

The first emotion to hit me was that of indignation.  How dare they tell me they didn’t need me.

The second was of panic.  What did this mean about my financial stability?  My career?

The third and longest lasting emotion was that of annoyance.  The Plan was to work at the firm for five years and then take my life skills and nest egg elsewhere.  Instead, I was suddenly faced with the question of “what do I really want to do?” two years early with barely any legal experience or money in my bank account.

At first, I tried to find a similar law firm job to keep in line with my original plan.  However, as the months passed and my severance came to an end with no job prospects in sight, I realized I was going to have to start considering other possibilities.

I had already filled out the paperwork to collect unemployment when I stumbled upon the help wanted sign at my present bakery.  Sure, when it came to lawyer jobs I didn’t want to consider anything that paid less than six figures, but when it was an issue of collecting piddly unemployment versus getting paid $9 an hour, the decision wasn’t quite so extreme.  Unemployment would have paid more, actually, but I knew I needed the daily structure and was curious to gain more experience in the hospitality industry.  Plus the bakery offered health insurance.

Throughout those first few months after I got laid off, I kept telling people that I wished I could see myself in six months because I knew everything was going to be ok, but I didn’t know how I was going to get there.  All I knew is that the transition was going to be very uncomfortable and little bit scary.

Curbing my spending habits and moving out of my apartment so I could sublet it and save money were a huge pain in the ass.  Sorting through the mountains of paper in my office and moving out all of my personal belongings was beyond inconvenient.  Packing up all of my kitchen supplies, furniture and clothes and putting them into storage until I move to California was downright annoying.

Still, I am thankful for all of the discomfort I’ve experienced over the past year because it is pushing me towards a life far more fulfilling than the comfortable life I was living before.