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Fajr Muhammad

Love is a Roarrr: ‘Cutie and the Boxer’

By August 18, 2013 The Vault

Cutie-and-the-Boxer-poster

There are films that are very good, well-composed, heartwarming even. Then there are films that are paradigm shifters, that change the way you view the world or reinforce what you’ve always known to be true. ‘Cutie and the Boxer’ a documentary film by Zachary Heinzerling is precisely the latter: heartfelt, reflective and beautiful.

‘Cutie and the Boxer’ follows the life of Ushio Shinohara, a famous Pop and performance artist from Japan living in New York since the 70s, and his strife-ridden but passionate marriage to fellow artist Noriko. Ushio, then a 41-year old sculptor prominent in the New York art scene meets 19-year-old art student Noriko. They fall in love instantly, get married and have a son Alex.
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What I Wore: Well Read

By June 13, 2013 Fashion, What I Wore

NY Library - Stylish Thought

Libraries are chic. You heard it here first. When I was a little girl I lived in the library. My father would drop me and my sisters off to be babysat by books (great parenting technique I might add) and we’d spend hours reading. I remember our neighborhood library being a pretty magical place. It’s where I met Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew, became a member of the Bernstein Bears family and the Babysitter’s Club and fell in love with words.

As a child raised on reading, I’ve always been studious and one of my favorite places to spend time to this day is the library. No it’s not 1OAK on a Friday night but there’s a majesty and quiet in being surrounded by books.

While I’m not a library snob (party snob yes), the New York Public Library pretty much annihilates any branch I’ve seen. The enormous stacks, the arched ceilings and giant columns and the ferocious lions out front taking guard. I imagine when the clock strikes midnight they get up from their post and gallop around the city. It’s more a castle of books than a library really.

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7th & Fashion: Style Inspiration in the Fashion Capital

By June 12, 2013 Fashion

bill-cunningham-ny
Bill Cunningham shooting style on the streets of NY

It’s summer in the city and after what has felt like an eternity of bad weather (hurricanes, snowstorms and rain-fests) the sun is out and the gloves are coming off. ‘Tis the season to dress up! And from what I hear summertime in New York is when everyone puts on their Sunday (and Monday) bests.

Before moving to the city I had this grandiose idea of what fashion in New York would be like. I imagined that everyone from supermodels, designers and the regular postal worker wore designer duds and dressed to the nines. Ha! Sorry but few New Yorkers can actually afford COUTURE! And they’re probably better off for it.

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Tourist Traps & False Starts: My Journey to Nueva York

By May 27, 2013 Fajr's World

Stylish Thought- Times Square
New York is a magical place. It’s also a tough place, a busy place, a chew you up, spit out the bones kind of place. And as of October 2012 it’s been my home.

As long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to live in New York. The land of dreams, fortune and fame! Where actors come to act, musicians come to make music, writers come to write and everyone comes to make a better life.

When I was a teenager looking to take the world by storm with words, New York was where I wanted to be. I applied to university after university, completing financial aid forms and praying that my Big Apple dreams would come to fruition. I imagined traipsing through the city, seeing stars and having opportunity fall at feet. That’s not quite how things turned out and much to my dismay my New York dreams were shattered.

Life went on as usual, I stayed in Philly and started blogging. But New York always stayed in the back of my mind and from time to time I’d take the short trip up and always wonder when I’d set foot for good.

Stylish Thought_Fajr

On one particular trip to NY, I sat with a good girlfriend of mine, a New Yorker, eating lunch and talking about our future. I mentioned that I was apartment hunting in Philly and she exclaimed, “Move to New York! You belong here. You should totally move to New York!” Her enthusiasm all but bowled me over. She was right! I needed to be in New York and while I had resigned to staying put in Philly I couldn’t resist the call of the big city any longer.

I packed up my little apartment (funny how a little apartment can net nearly 20 boxes and a truck full of furniture) and my life and headed to the big city. Upon arrival I didn’t quite have a home. I stayed with my little sister in Staten Island and let me tell you, riding the Ferry is an experience; waving at Lady Liberty, looking out across the water, coming into the city right at the heart of Wall Street. It’s a trip and by trip I mean a two hour trip! (both ways!)

Stylish Thought-Times Square Steps

With a long commute, apartment hunting and work on my plate, at times I questioned my journey. I wondered “What am I doing here?”“Was this really the right decision?”  I spent a lot of time thinking about what New York could (and would) mean to me.

In the meantime, I explored. Working right next to Times Square gave me a front row seat to what everyone sees when they come here. The jumbo screens, the flashing lights, the mega stores and the Disney characters, it’s completely over the top and totally New York!

Stylish Thought-Disney Character

I strolled around the East Village, taking in the shops and vintage stores with their grungy downtown flavor. I walked through Central Park in the middle of Christmas season when the lights are in trees and it’s like a scene from Home Alone. Sat next to Tracee Ellis Ross (gadzooks!!!) at the Bowery Ballroom and rode the subway at 2am with hoards of people like it was 12 in the afternoon.

And I finally moved to Harlem, my official Manhattan address! It took nearly 6 years to get on the island and I can’t believe I’m here.

It’s funny because when you want something for so long, it starts to feel unreal, like maybe it’s just not meant for you. Or maybe it won’t   be everything you dreamt it would be. And that’s the case with New York. It’s not quite what I expected: no red carpets, noise is seriously an issue, everything costs about a gazillion dollars but then there are the times when you’re walking around and stop to marvel at where you are and suddenly you realize you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Living in New York is very different than what I imagined. It’s not a Sex and the City romp or a small town girl takes the Big Apple drama. But it can be. That’s the beauty of New York, it can be whatever you want it to. And while I’ve only just set my boots in the concrete jungle I’m excited, hopeful for what the city has to show me.

Stylish Thought-Times Square 2013

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Photos by Ray Spaddy

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2013 Or Bust: Getting Ready for the New Year

By November 27, 2012 Life
New Year

We make plans and God laughs… with that said  there are 5 weeks, give or take a few days, left in 2012 and it’s around this time every year that I start to think about my plans for the coming year. I take a snapshot of where I am in life and where I would like to be. It’s not as intense as it sounds, trust me, but I do get down and dirty into the stuff of goals, achievements and dreams.

To prepare for the new year I do a few things: meditation session to clear out old spirits, retiring journals and starting new ones. It’s all a big to do to get me pumped! Cue Rocky theme music and me in the gym hitting the punching bag. It’s me against 2013.

OK, dramatic much? Yes. But in all seriousness, it pays to be prepared, organized and ready to have a great year. And why wait until the ball drops to get a clear idea on what you want to accomplish in the next 12 months. In the past few years I’ve done many of these things to get ready for a new year and while no one knows what the year will bring these are all tried and true traditions to get your mind right and your heart in the right place to take on 2013.

BUY A NEW PLANNER

New planners are a blank slate. You’re leaving behind all of the plans, appointments and to-dos of the last year and moving into the new year with a fresh start. My favorites are Moleskine, Anne Taintor.   I’m coveting a mega-planner from Erin Condren.

PLAN NEXT YEAR’S VACATION(S)

It’s never too early to plan a vacay, the sooner the better actually. If there’s a destination you’ve been dying to see now is the time to map out a plan to get there. Start your research, find cool boutique hotels, request time off and start your savings plans to make your vacation dreams come true. Wanderfly is a great travel wishlist and helps plan affordable vacations.

MAKE A VISION BOARD

Vision boards have exploded! They are having their moment in the cultural zeitgeist and with good reason. Having all of your dreams, goals and visions in front of you keeps them top of mind and studies have shown they help order your steps to be able to accomplish them. Plus creating vision boards is such a fun exercise. Invite a few friends over, pull out the old magazines and photos and collage your way to your dreams.

REDEFINE YOUR CAREER GOALS

Every year I outline where I would like to be, career-wise, by the end of the year. Am I fancying a promotion? What certifications do I want to have? How much freelance work can I handle? While some of your career plans are out of your control (hiring, raises, etc…) your plan for your career totally is. By having a plan you can make better career decisions to get you to your dream job.

REASSESS YOUR WARDROBE

September may be the start of the fashion new year, but every new year I take time to assess my style and what looks I need to retire and styles I’d like to try. This year I’ve been heavy on the black and bringing back the color (and the sexy) is high on my style priority list.  This is also a great time to retire old pieces that are not working. Donate them or give them away to friends. Let the clutter go!

CLEAN HOUSE. No Literally, CLEAN YOUR HOUSE

Spring cleaning has nothing on new year cleaning. Break out the Pledge and go to town on your baseboards, carpets and laundry. Start 2013 with a fresh feeling and scent. Growing up my mother always spent the first day of the New Year cooking black eyed peas and cleaning house.

START YOUR BLOG’S 2013 CALENDAR

With about a month left in 2012, it’s a good time to start working on your blog/site/business plans for 2013. Get ahead of monthly holidays, trends and map out your standard/evergreen content. Remember to create a cushion for breaking news and life events. No need to plan out a stringent plan but a loose layout will put you ahead of the game.

CONTEMPLATE A NEW HAIRSTYLE

Every year I say I’m going to cut my hair. And maybe 2013 will be the year I actually do it. Who knows? But it sure is fun to contemplate a new hairstyle, revamping my look and thinking about what life would be like with a pixie cut. Maybe this will the year you try bangs or go red!

These are just a few ways to get ready for the New Year’s arrival. Aside from decking your halls, stocking up on confetti and noisemakers, what other things are you doing to prepare for the new year? 

Do share!

Images (3, 6, 7, 8)

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Hi My Name is Windy: My Chicago Whirlwind

By November 20, 2012 Travel
Goodbye Chicago


Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world.

~ Frank Lloyd Wright

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I’ve heard a lot about Chicago; some great, some not so great. It’s the home of the Blues, the Cubs, Kanye West, high crime rates, R.Kelly and Obama! When I found out I would be visiting the City of Wind for a work conference, I had lots of interest in getting to know the it firsthand. Was it really as cold as people say? Would I run into Lupe Fiasco? What was all the fuss about that silver bean?

I got into Chicago late Wednesday evening, checked into The James Hotel, which is a very nice hotel in the Magnificent Mile neighborhood and near the Razorfish Chicago office. I grabbed late-night sushi and sake with coworkers and got ready for the next day’s activities.

~ Obligatory Mirror Pic ~ 

Before the sightseeing adventures could begin work had to be attended to. The reason for the visit was a Social Media Summit to discuss the latest and greatest in the practice.

Razorfish Chicago is a pretty outstanding office, my favorite one so far (sorry New York & Philly). Neon walls, bright lights, lots of glass conference rooms. And did I mention… beer on tap. I’m not the biggest beer drinker but you have to admit that’s pretty awesome.

~ Whoop, there it is!  ~ 

Over the next two days there was a ton of exchange, idea sharing and thought leadership. Did I mention I love my job? Well I do. After long days in meetings, it was time for a little Chicago style food sharing. Deep dish pizza, anyone? I now fully understand why Chicagoans are wild about their pie!

~ Delizioso! ~ 

After more meetings, Friday finally winded down and the weekend was set to start. We transferred hotels to the sex-ay W Hotel Lakeshore!  How sparkly is this sign? Very posh!

We headed out on the town and hit up Wicker Park area for scrumptious tacos at Big Star and evening cocktails at Violet Hour, which is a clandestine undercover spot that doesn’t allow cell phone use and has hilarious house rules like: “No O-Bombs. No Jager-Bombs. No bombs of any kind.” and “Please do not bring anyone to The Violet Hour that you wouldn’t bring to your mother’s house for Sunday dinner.”  I love it!

With three cold Chicago nights under our belts, Saturday was officially dubbed the CHICAGO CRAM!

With one full day to sightsee, we decided to see as much of Chicago as we possibly could. I think we accomplished that and more. There must be some sort of award for the most frenzied, yet controlled tourism ever! We’d certainly win.

Dressing for city walking and cold temps is no easy feat. I think I managed well with dark skinnies, black & white striped shirt, leopard blazer (unpictured), bright green scarf, my Shelli Segal coat and comfortable suede boots.

First stop was brunch at the absolutely delectable Yolk, a top rated brunch in the city. It was jumping good!

~ Jaimie loves Yolk! ~ 

Next stop, the TOP of the WORLD! Well the top of Chicago at least! We hit up the John Hancock building and got a view of Chicago from the 96th floor. Insider tip, hit up the ladies’ restroom in lieu of going to the observatory. Backdoor tricks FTW! (Thanks Deanna) 

It was so surreal to see all of the immaculate buildings from so high up. Chicago truly has beautiful architecture and many throwbacks to a classier, jazzier age.

We came down from our high and decided to take an old school horse & carriage ride to get a quicker view of the Chi. Chicago has lots of luxury shopping, traditional hotels, cathedrals and amazing signage. Every storefront has its own unique flair. There was even a cow on the front of a building!

~ Say Cheese ~ 

Next we shot across town to Millennium Park. I didn’t know what to expect of the giant Cloud Gate sculpture except that it seemed pretty cool. Cool is an understatement! Millennium Park is beautiful, has so many different sections, great sculptures and lots of energy. There were about 3 different wedding parties taking pictures!

You’d think we’d be exhausted at this point but we kept the party going and headed to do an Architecture Boat Tour on Lake Michigan. As we rushed through throngs of people (the annual Lighting Parade coincided with our trip – what fate!) we prayed we wouldn’t miss our boat.

And guess what…. WE DID!  Bye Bye Boat.

All was not lost. With the lighting parade came a fireworks display and a later boat ride that ended with seeing the fireworks. On. The. Water. SCORE!

For me, the boat tour was the highlight of the trip. Coasting on Lake Michigan, learning all about the buildings, the companies that inhabit them and the history of the city. Chicago is truly lovely at night.

We parked on the lake and watched the fireworks. It was the cherry on the Chicago sundae. Dinner at the famous Ditka’s (the food was superb) for Jaimie’s birthday dinner and eventually the night ended at the legendary Wiener Circle. I couldn’t get good video because I was laughing entirely too much at the crazy characters behind the counter! But this clip from Conan will show you what WC is all about.

I played a hilarious game and won a T-shirt. Wiener Circle is truly hilarious place and a must visit when you’re in Chicago.

Exhausted from a long day, I conked out ready to head home.

Sunday with only a few hours to spare, we trekked to the Navy Pier, the top tourist attraction in Chicago. The Navy Pier has a giant Ferris Wheel and lots of arcade games.

~ We’re Mad for Chicago ~ 

All in all, Chicago is a pretty spectacular city. It’s like a modern day Pleasantville: clean streets, beautiful buildings and lots to do. Seeing the glorious facade of Chicago makes me want to delve deeper into the parts unseen. 

~ It’s safe to say I’m smitten with the Windy City ~

x Until next time, Summertime Chi!

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Falling (Back) In Love with Fashion

By November 12, 2012 Fashion
Fashion

Like so many young women I’ve always loved fashion; the fancy of dressing up, trying on new clothes… the promise of a new dress… a new self….

When I was a kid I remember playing in my mother’s scarves, shoes and kohl eyeliner. Spending ridiculous amounts of time circling things in catalogs and using my little brother as a dress-up mannequin.

Boy was he glad when he was old enough to meet my dress-up games with well-placed nuggies and his specialty: atomic wedgies.

Sibling torture aside, over the years my love affair with fashion has traipsed every trend, every celeb-u-tante Editor-In-Chief, every fashion bible and every designer. In high school, when kids were into labels; Iceberg, Guess, Sergio Valente, I proclaimed my allegiance to no-name brands and thrift store finds.

When college came around and the casual style of dress: flip flops, cutoffs, t-shirts, was the standard I went left, opting for a funkier collegiate style and ultimately solidified my lasting love of fashion.

What was this obsession with style and using it as a barometer for myself?

I vividly remember sitting in the back of my 9am Geography class, under the dim lights of the auditorium. Ignoring the stalagmite projections, I would read my VOGUE magazines, imagining a world where people pranced around wearing McQueen dresses and Yves Saint Laurent shoes. A world far away from mine.

Lately I’ve been reconnecting with the self that drooled over Style.com and fretted over her fashion mags.

And while I’m a long way from that 20 year old girl, even further from the kid who used to torture her little brother, the pulse is the same. And the joy that I derive from seeing a stunning dress or an embroidered shoe, that promises gold with every step, is still here.

Some things, like our first love or a clandestine memory, never leave us. They simply get pushed to the back of our minds (or closets) waiting to be unearthed and ready to wear for a new occasion. And love, ah love, like a hand-me-down dress or an old pair of heels, always fits us just right.

When did you fall in love with fashion?

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Go See: Middle of Nowhere

By October 26, 2012 The Vault
Middle of Nowhere

Sometimes we are caught between two selves; an old, comfortable self that wants so desperately to hold on and an alive, but scared new us waiting to burst out.

The other night I went to see the highly praised (Sundance awarded, Oprah approved) Middle of Nowhere from director Ava DuVernay. Shot through a lush palette of rose colored scenes, DuVernay tells the story of Ruby, a woman married to a man in prison and caught between the life she has on pause and pressing play.

Watching Middle of Nowhere is like taking a walk in someone else’s shoes. Wearing Ruby’s determined and loving shoes we learn, as she does, that while the destination may not be clear, sometimes we have to finish the journey all by ourselves. Ruby vacillates between loyalty to her husband and the loneliness of reality and ultimately chooses a path of her own making.

Captivating and emotional, you will be brought into Ruby’s world, one that is rife with the complications of love, life and the unknown.

Go see Middle of Nowhere, open in select cities now. I highly recommend it.

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