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?

sephora beauty insider sale purchases


mask | lipstick | brush | nail polish set

hello, friends! I’m sorry it’s been a little quiet around these parts…I jetted off to san antonio for a much-needed vacation, and I had fully intended to put some posts up while I was there…and then life happened. I was so, so sick just prior to leaving and while I did get well enough to fly on a plane, I wasn’t quite 100%. the warm, texas air helped, as did not having anything pressing to do, but I found myself too easily fatigued from the smallest things. I took many naps in between eating lots of barbecue and just let things go. I’m much better for it, but I did miss my little corner of the web here. I’m much, much better, although I still have frequent coughing fits that just won’t quit. I have plenty of photos from texas to share, but I’m still working on getting those all together, so today’s post is on what I ended up getting from the sephora beauty insider sale that ended yesterday.

I’m pretty proud about how I really kept a tight list this time around. I’d been wanting this concealer brush for awhile now, so it was on the top of my list. I was also looking for a great orange-red for the warmer months, and when I saw this from clinique, I was sold. the color, the name, the packaging…everything is just too adorable. I also picked up this little nail set from nails inc., which has quickly become a favorite nail polish brand for me. it comes with a base coat, an illuminator, and a soft pink shade, all from their nailkale line. the last thing I picked up was this mask from caudalie. I’ve been having really dry, uneven skin on my face that I’ve been trying to deal with for the past couple of months. my makeup wasn’t applying right, everything looked uneven, and I was just a little bit frustrated by it all. I’ve tried a couple of masks recently, but none were winners in my book, so I decided to give this one a try. I’ve only used it once, but after one use, I think it’s love. I’ll keep you guys posted. reviews on all of these items will find their way to the blog once I’ve actually received them (the only thing I bought in store was the mask) and had the chance to give them a fair try.

did you pick up anything from the sale?