San Bernardino

via YahooNews

Nothing can lessen the blow of living in a country in which someone you love can go to a movie theatre, a school or a holiday party and never return because a person who had no business having access to guns did. As a Muslim, I don’t stand with the families of San Bernardino because I feel guilt that my religion prompted two crazies to do an unforgivable act. I stand with the families of San Bernardino because my religion teaches me to repel evil with something better. I stand with the families of San Bernardino because no family should ever, ever have to receive the news that they lost a loved one in such a horrific way and my heart breaks for them.

Many Muslims feel scared, harassed and ostracized but those feelings are nothing compared to what the families of the San Bernardino victims are feeling. They have had to face any person’s worst nightmare and they, more than anyone, need to know that the world still has goodness in it and that it is a world still worthy of meeting with love and compassion. This effort is one small demonstration of hope and I hope that all of us, no matter who we are, follow it up with continued acts of compassion, love and light.

Some folks have started a wonderful initiative on LaunchGood which has raised over $188,000 for the victim’s families. Please click on over there if you would like to support the great cause.

Gift Idea – Toddler

I am the biggest sucker for targeted ads on Facebook. Although I won’t always buy the product, I will almost always click. That’s how I ran across these adorable “Lost MyName” books for little kids.

You simply go to the website, put in the name of the child you want to make the book for, choose a boy or girl and pick one of the three adventurers. Right now they have a white, asian and black adventurer for each sex. I hope they expand the choices because as much as I love the idea of there being personalized books for kids who have less common names, it is just as important for kids to see others who look like them in the media they consume.

The kid goes on an adventure collecting all the letters of the lost name. And eventually, after many adventures and collecting letters, the name is found.

I’m so glad I ran into this book. I love that it is so easy to make. You also get to have a personalized note printed on the inside cover which is such a sentimental touch.  I know I would have treasured a book like this when I was a kid. I think it’s going to be my go-to gift for now!

Movies Worth Watching – ALS and Amy Winehouse

We’ve had some good luck with movies recently. We watched two movies that really had us talking and reflecting afterwards- You’re Not You and Amy.

You’re Not You stars Hillary Swank as a young woman who seems to have it all and is diagnosed with ALS. The movie follows the heartbreaking story of that diagnosis but also the opportunity it gives her to face her life and certain choices. It also follows the development of her relationship with her somewhat misguided caregiver. It was really difficult to watch at parts, especially since I lost an aunt to ALS earlier this year. The cruelty and unfairness of the disease really come through in this movie and we both felt so angry and helpless after watching it. That might not seem like a strong testament for the movie, but please check it out. Though painful, the movie is a reminder of the uncertainty of life and how even the worst situations can present opportunities for growth and joy.

In a similar vein, Amy was also a heartbreaking story of the life and rise to stardom of Amy Winehouse. But it was heartbreaking in a very different way. It is compiled mainly of video footage and photos of different parts of her life with voiceovers by different people who knew her and were close to her. It begins by showing a witty and smart girl who is still very much a child when she is discovered.

The uncut footage of her voice is breathtaking. Her talent is just undeniable and so overwhelming. Towards the end, she is singing with her idol, Tony Bennet and she is completely starstruck and nervous. When I hear the two of them sing, there is no comparison in my mind. She blows Tony Bennett out of the water.

The movie illustrated that there were so many people in her life, people really close to her, like her husband, people who should have protected her, like her father, people who could only see the money she brought in and were willing to exploit her until it led to her death. There is no doubt that an individual ultimately makes the final decisions about their life but it is not hard to imagine how different the outcome of Amy’s life would have been if she had been able to break free from the demons, not only in her, but who were around her.

Renwick Gallery

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The Renwick Gallery recently reopened in DC and we had a blast spending some time there. I love galleries but a lot of times they can feel overwhelming or exhausting. Since there is so much to see, you don’t really get to appreciate each piece as much as you would like to.

The opening exhibition, Wonder, was amazing. Each of the nine installments were awe inspiring and done on location by the artists. Jennifer Angus has a show stopping installment made from brightly colored insects. There was a long line to see her gallery but it was worth the wait.

If you find yourself in the city, definitely stop by.

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We ended the afternoon at Pansaari, an adorable, if slightly overpriced, chai house and market.

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Cozy Quilts for Rainy Days

Every morning this week, I have woken to the sound of rain pattering on the roof.  Although that seems quaint, I’ve had enough of these dreary days! It’s makes me want to just have a cup of tea, curl up under a comfy quilt and begin winter hibernation.

Having comfy quilts around the house can help getting through these winter months be just a little more bearable. Its a small consolation prize, but I’ll take it.

This Diamond Stitch Quilt from Urban Outfitters is a perfect neutral. It has some subtle texture that could work in just about any room.

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This colorful number from Lush Decor is available at Wayfair and it’s a steal. Seriously thinking of getting it for the guest room.

This pairing from Crate and Barrel is a bit goofy but I like it. Especially if its just a temporary set up or used at a holiday cabin.

This is a fun number and would work well for someone younger or in college. It looks a little cheap in the picture but Target bedding is surprisingly good quality for the price point.  You just have to sift through some of the bad apples.

For another neutral, that is a bit more feminine, this set from West Elm is flirty but subtle.

I can’t be the only one who just wants to crawl under a big comforter and quilt and take the month off , can I?