loving in…june

lovingjunehello, friends! the blackhawks championship parade is today, so as you can imagine, everyone & their mother are in the city. my metra express train this morning was packed. it’s supposed to be a wet one again today, but a little rain isn’t going to stop this party. aside from the hawks, here’s a roundup of some of the other things I’m loving this month.

one | florence & the machine’s new album is the soundtrack of my life right now. great album cover, great album.

two | I’m a fan of the original bumble and bumble surf spray, but I may love this (very similar) new version even more. it still gives my hair that windswept, beachy look but is a little less drying. the scent is the same, which is good because nothing says summer quite like the smell of salty ocean air.

three | humidity is a full face of makeup’s kryptonite. I don’t even bother with liquid bases this time of year if I can help it. I prep with some sunscreen & a little moisturizer, some concealer as needed, and top it all off with this. done & done.

four | I’m going to come right out and say it: this is the perfect nude lipgloss (in petal). not sticky, not gloopy, just the right amount of my-lips-but-better color that you can actually see (even on my pigmented lips).

five | and of course, da hawks! after decades of drought, we’ve been spoiled lately. I, like the rest of the city, am absolutely thrilled.

let’s talk | life lately

Under the Elwhy, hello there. life around these parts has been going at about 100 miles per hour, and I’m still trying to figure out how to keep up. let’s play catch-up together:

1. I am finishing up my last round of prerequisites, and my current schedule has me in class monday-thursday in sugar grove (60 miles west of Chicago) when I work full-time monday-friday in the city. getting to class in the evening requires an intricate juggle of bus, train, & car, with minutes to spare. I’ve been praying to the traffic gods frequently, trying not to stress out about things that I can’t control…

2. …speaking of which, stress management has been something I’ve been working on lately. a lot. I make it to class in the evenings with about 4 minutes to spare if everything goes to plan. which, if you’re as anal about time & schedules as I am, means that I’m constantly checking my watch and worrying about being late. which I was, last thursday, by 10 minutes. and as I sat in class, sweaty & grouchy & grumpy & out of breath from the 2.5 hour commute I had just gone through, I realized it wasn’t worth it. the worrying, the stress, any of it. my life is much easier if I just let things go and do my best to show up without obsessing about every little second ticking away. it’s still something I’m working on. I am stressing about the Stanley Cup finals, though…

3. …since the hawks are in it again. they’re about the only tv during the week I bother watching making time for these days. so, less stress about things not hockey + more stress about hockey = my stress level these days. man, I hope they win because consciously going with less sleep to cheer them on is getting harder by the day…

4. …as I’m getting on average about 5 hours of sleep a night. it could be worse, but it could be much, much better. so I’m working on getting my self to bed on non-hockey,  non-school nights as early as possible to get my sleep numbers up…

5. …especially since my workout schedule has been shot to hell. I haven’t been able to work out at all the past 3 weeks, and it’s not doing my waist or my mind any favors. I miss the feeling of having a good sweat session, and I’m thinking up of creative ways to get a workout in. it’s necessary, both physically and mentally, so I’m just going to have to make time…

6. …but really, how do I go about that? there are only 24 hours in a day after all. I’m still figuring it out, along with this blog…

7. …which has obviously been neglected in the past few weeks. still working on it, I promise.

and that’s where I’m at. I want to pick y’all’s minds…how do you keep all the balls in the air? is there a secret I’m not in on? for those of you who have children, how do you that on top of everything else? mad props, by the way! give a girl some tips!


brands I love | banago

banagobear with me while I proudly wave the Philippine flag…today’s post features a new-to-me brand that happens to hail from my home country: banago. you can read more about banago‘s story here, but they offer bags, totes, & accessories handmade in the Philippines by local artisan communities. this specific portion of their narrative really caught my eye:

“here at BANAGO we aim to support sustainable livelihoods and preserve ailing arts and crafts with various products that span a work force from the farmer of the natural materials the products are made from to the artisans. we teach them the importance of quality work and entrepreneurship in hopes of empowering these women. so far we have been successful because we have stayed true to our beliefs that true luxury is having the ability to help.”

true luxury is having the ability to help. that’s going to rattle around in my brain for quite some time.

I’m a lover of beautiful things. all of their products are beautiful, but what makes them even more lovely is the good they do in helping those who are responsible for creating such beauty. if you’re on the market for a summer tote or clutch, may I point you in banago‘s direction? I for one have a couple of pieces on my summer wishlist (this one & this one).

*this is not a sponsored post. I just love sharing the love, especially for a good cause.

what’s in a name?

hesI was listening to npr on the way to work the other day, and I happened to catch an interview about a young man who felt that his name had led others to make assumptions about him in general and about his race specifically (his name is Jamal, and he is white). it got me thinking about my own name, and as I thought about it more & more, I realized I wanted to let you all in on my thoughts on it.

most people call me Hes, but my full first name is Hesed. it’s a Hebrew name that means “loving kindness” or “God’s covenant love for humankind”. my parents were in seminary school when I was born, and they were inspired by their studies of the Bible in Hebrew when it came time to name me.

like a lot of kids who had unusual first names, I wasn’t very fond of my name as a child. no one in my family aside from my parents were familiar with it. in fact, a lot of my dad’s family found the name difficult to pronounce because in our language, the letter ‘h’ is not a part of the alphabet, so all members of that side of the family call me “Esed” (pronounced as in blessed) or, even shorter, “Sed” (rhymes with Ted). at least these nicknames were at least related to my real name. sometimes I would just get called Hazel or Heather or some other H-name that was more familiar to other people.

when I came to the US, my situation didn’t improve very much. no one knew how to pronounce Hesed either. no one, except my Jewish friends, of course, who all pronounced it with its original guttural H at the beginning (my name can also be transliterated to English as “Chesed”). though my name wasn’t foreign to them at all, they were a little bit amused to find that a short, Filipino girl had such a Hebrew name. once, a package for my office was mistakenly delivered to the Jewish student center down the street from us. The rabbi emailed me to ask that I come pick it up. when I did and I introduced myself, he said with a chuckle, “I didn’t expect you to be Hesed”.

now that I’m older, I’ve become really proud of my name. it’s aspirational, and I try to live up to it every day, although I inevitably fall short. I used to be mortified when people would mispronounce my name; I would be so self-conscious and embarrassed. but now, I love that it’s unique. if I ever get a tattoo, I’d want it to be a very small one of my name in Hebrew script.

do you have a unique name? do you love it/hate it? have you always felt that way?

words for the week

wftwI ran across this quote and was completely arrested by it. it’s made me think about what & whom I value, and why. it’s always good to ask oneself these questions every now and then, like a recalibration of sorts.

I hope your week is off to a lovely start.

things I love | may

maytilhow is it may?! not that I’m complaining. the trees are blooming, the weather is warmer…I’m going to tempt fate and say that winter is truly over. today’s post is a round-up of things I’ve been loving lately. as I’ve transitioned in the past couple months to a more pared back lifestyle, I haven’t felt the need to compile wishlists. that’s not to say I’ve suddenly found myself beyond wanting things (I’m not that good), but I just haven’t felt the urge to compile all of it together into something I could share. so, this isn’t a wishlist per se (although I may want to buy some of these things), but more of a collage of the things I love, find beautiful, and make me happy right now. what’s been really lovely to experience with this capsule wardrobe thing is really being able to appreciate the things I have and admire that which I find beautiful & would love to have without actually owning it. sometimes, the pleasure I get from seeing it or being inspired by it is enough.

ok…enough schmaltz. thanks for stopping by & hanging around, even with the infrequent posting. I’m working on getting my ish together…promise!

happy wednesday!


earrings (on sale through 5/7 with the code fiesta 30) | towel | book | flats | dress

things that made my week

 happy friday! this weekend is looking to be a busy one. on saturday, I have my final in the morning, followed by a memorial service in the early afternoon, followed by a wedding in the late afternoon, and then a Pacquiao-Mayweather viewing party at our friends’ house later in the evening. just typing that out makes me tired! needless to say, after all that, sunday will be super chill. it’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend with warm weather and sunlight aplenty. have a good one!

the things that made my week:

  leisurely walking around southport

  wedding venue viewing 

  a little shoe shopping 

 finally got a chance to visit here
 poached eggs & a perfectly cooked steak a good breakfast make (see what I did there?) 

spring accessories


tote | crossbody | fedora | necklace

pineapple scarf | perfume | elephant scarf | watch

it’s been about a month now since I started wearing my spring capsule wardrobe. I’ve actually been loving the experience – getting dressed is so much easier. whenever it starts feeling too repetitive or boring, I challenge myself to come up with a new pairing I never tried before, and that usually does the trick. another great thing to inject some newness to my wardrobe without actually adding any new pieces of clothing is to play around with accessories. they’re not just for capsule wardrobes – they’re often the easiest way to infuse new dimension & interest into the most basic of outfits. these are the accessories that have been in heavy rotation over the last month.

scarves | on days when I can’t be bothered to put on jewelry or do anything extra to jazz up an outfit, scarves are my go-to. they’re so easy to grab as you’re running out the door, and there are endless ways you can style them. since I tend to wear solid basics, I opt for pattern & color for my scarves for contrast. this scarf & this scarf are the newest additions to my scarf collection. they’ve come in really handy as an extra layer on chilly mornings, and the patterns are adorable.

fedora | it took me years to find a fedora that didn’t look comical on my large head. I had all but given up on finding one until I randomly tried this one on absentmindedly while browsing target. it fit, it was cute, & it was affordable. nothing says I’m ready for some sun more than a fun hat & a pair of sunglasses. bonus: when I’m having a bad hair day, I just plop this on my head & call it good.

bags | I go through my bags pretty regularly, but it seems that I always end up having a go-to tandem of one small bag & one big bag. the small bag mvp recently has been this one from rebecca minkoff. I brought it with me on our trip to san antonio, and it was the perfect sightseeing bag. it looks tiny, but it holds a lot, and this color (biscuit) goes with everything. as for my go-to big bag, it’s been this lovely piece from cuyana. the color is perfect, I can fit my whole life in there & then some, the craftsmanship is high quality, & I love the brand’s philosophy (fewer, better things).

jewelry | I favor pretty minimal jewelry most days, but especially in the warmer months when I want to wear as little as possible all around. I always wear a watch. lately, I’ve been reaching for a white leather strap version (similar here). the color is perfect for the sunny days, and the leather strap seems lighter visually & physically than a metal bracelet. I’ve also been loving a dainty, barely-there necklace. this one is my absolute favorite. it’s modern yet feminine.

scent | my much-loved spring/summer scent is dolce & gabbana light blue. I know it’s such a popular scent, but I haven’t found anything I like better. I like that it’s light & refreshing, with notes that remind me of hot, sunny days by the ocean. other citrus scents I’ve tried either smell too much like a household cleaner or are too sweet; this one has a tart, lemony scent that has some bite & isn’t too sweet. I recently also discovered this scent, which is a good alternative when I want something softer & a little different, but it hasn’t usurped light blue as my favorite.

things that made my week


happy friday!!! I’m so ready for the weekend…who’s with me? warm weather is still taking its sweet time getting here…this morning, I had to scrape a substantial layer of frost off my car! 

but enough about the weather! this weekend is going to be a mixture of the fun (dinner with friends & walking around the city) & the necessary (cleaning our room & tackling the laundry). I hope your weekend is lovely!

the things that made my week:

drinking my weight in tea & a pretty mug

lunch outside on a cool but sunny day

listening to this nonstop since it came out tuesday

these blooms that say spring is here, the weather not withstanding 

good reads | lady of the eternal city, the fifth gospel, & the girl on the train

goodreadsI took advantage of the extra time I had while on vacation to read a couple of books that I’d had on my list for awhile. between the flight there & back and while sitting in the passenger seat while we drove through texas hill country, I managed to finish these 3 books.

lady of the eternal city | I’m a huge fan of historical fiction…it combines my inner history geek & my bookworm selves in one; what’s not to love? I discovered kate quinn while browsing on amazon about 2 years ago, and since then, I’ve read all of the empress of rome novels, of which lady of the eternal city is the latest book in the series. set in the reign of emperor hadrian, it centers on his empress, vibia sabina, their relationship, and their relationships with their inner circles. if you’re a fan of reading about ancient rome like me, this one is a fun read. I also recommend reading the previous books in the series if you end up liking this one. what’s nice is that while the books are related, each book stands on its own & can be read individually without necessarily having to read the other books.

the fifth gospel | I enjoyed reading ian caldwell’s the rule of four when it came out years ago. this is his new novel, and I really enjoyed reading it. the story is focused on two brothers, both of whom are priests, with one being roman catholic and the other being eastern (greek) catholic, and who find themselves affected by a mysterious murder. as  the daughter of two ministers, the passages on gospel readings & church history were a treat, but even if you’re not religiously inclined, the mystery at the core of the plot was compelling on its own. if you like bookish, intellectual mysteries, this is a good book to check out.

the girl on the train | and last but not least, this year’s gone girl. I read this on the flight down, and it made the 3-hour flight go by in an instant. the main narrator is rachel, the eponymous girl on train who’s a depressed, recently divorced alcoholic who’s obsessed with a couple she sees from the train every day at a specific stop. what I found really compelling was that even though she’s a complete mess & a highly unreliable narrator, I couldn’t help but root for her anyway. I honestly didn’t see the ending coming, so it really was suspenseful for me until the end.

what have you read lately?