1. Be a Better…Bartender.

    Valentine’s Day Cocktails Edition:

    So, Valentine’s is an interesting holiday, you’d be hard-pressed to find another day so filled with the perfect amounts of love, heartache, loneliness  bitterness, and the need to have single-gal dates with other single-gals. For the most part, I could care less about V-day besides wanting to have my nails blood red, and sporting some crimson duds, but alas, to conjure up the inner romantic in us all, we should drink. Heavily. On Valentine’s Day. YES!

    This is the perfect way to spend America’s 2nd Least Favorite Holiday (I totally disagree with #1 btw), because it appeals to every relational status possible. Single? Married? Dating? It all works. 

    I’ve created a list of the perfect cocktail to cheers with this Valentine’s Day:

    "Single and Hating It": Your perfect drink is The Black Velvet. It will very much remind you of your cold, dying black heart. Drink up!

    The Black Velvet:

    • Guinness Stout
    • Champagne

    Fill your Collins glass halfway with guinness, fill the rest of the glass with champagne and lightly stir.

    "Dating and Hating It": Your perfect drink is called The DGAF.

    The DGAF:

    • Bourbon
    • Ice

    Pour heavily and drink up quickly. 

    "Happily in Love": Your perfect drink is The Elderfashion. A little bit light, a little bit serious.

    The Elderfashion:

    • 2 Parts Bourbon
    • 1/2 Part St. Germaine
    • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
    • Ice
    • Orange peel garnish

    Stir all your ingredients, add ice, and stir again. Seductively caress your rim with the orange zest and be all romantic-like.

    "Happy and Single": Your drink is…Tequila shots. Enjoy.

    Tequila Shottttttsssss:

    • Tequila
    • Shot Glass
    • Lime
    • Salt
    • A bag to re-gather your dignity after all is lost. 

    Cheers and happy or hateful Valentine’s Day y’all,

    Chinae

     


  2. Be Better at…Dating.

    Long Distance Lovin’…The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Edition:

    A typical conversation I have about 16 times a week:

    Them: “So are you dating anyone?”

    Me: “Oh yeah! I am. We’ve been dating a while now, he lives in LA. We’re long distance.”

    :: cue them giving me “the face” (usually looks like a combination of a shart face and reliving a memory of Chinese water torture)

    Them: “That really sucks. I could never do long distance, I’ve done it before and it was a total fucking nightmare.”

    Me: “Umm… yeah, well, we’re doing pretty good. Normal relationship shit but we are making do.”

    Them: “Well good for you guys, hope it works out better than mine did.”

    First off, people, this is not encouraging/helpful/kind in any sense of the word. I get that you had a shit relationship that happened to be long distance, but what’s your excuse for the other 10 failed love connections? What? Do you not date on dry land because it didn’t work out that one time?

    If you’re in a LDR (I hate this acronym but I’m not getting paid for this shit and even decent readership is not gonna pay for my oncoming carpal tunnel syndrome) you get me. Even if you aren’t, you should keep reading…you might find some nuggets of mediocre wisdom in here somewhere. (I said might…no guarantees) 

    So here’s the good: The best thing about an LDR are that the times you actually get to breathe the same oxygen are usually REALLY amazing. Like…whoa. Also, you tend to be able to appreciate your time together and don’t take your man/lady/manlady for granted. You also REALLY have to learn to communicate, whether your “I hate the phone” ass likes it or not. And you have to get over your own shit schedule and idea of convenience pretty quick. 

    And the bad: Fighting while far away totally sucks. Like…it’s the worst. There’s no kissing and making up, there’s no face to face time (other than skype), and things take a little longer to heal than in normal life. You’ll learn to navigate this better every time (although, Charlie and I still fall on our face with this A LOT). Also, being involved with someone in never never land has some major financial obligations so make sure you’re ready to take that on and work together. 

    The ugly: You don’t get to be with the person you most want to be around. Plain and simple. It gets hard (think running a marathon after a 2-day jelly donut binge), but if and when you realize that loving them well, is more important than satisfying every selfish need and want that pops into your mind…well then, there’s some potential for success there folks. 

    DISCLAIMER: By no means do I have this ALL figured out. This is what I’ve learned (and failed at and will continue to fail at) for almost a year and a half but sometimes, it’s good to share what you’re learning even if you’re not a master at it yet. Right?!

    Here are 5 ways to survive an LDR:

    -Overcommunicate: Now, I don’t just mean tell the other person EVERY SINGLE TIME you are annoyed, upset, or in a bad mood. Every relationship has “stuff” and of course you’re gonna need to bring up unpleasant topics once in a while and hash them out. But here’s a trick I learned early on…communicate the good stuff, VERY intentionally. The problem with LDRs is that you cannot treat them like an in-person relationship. That’s like playing football with golf’s rules. Get used to telling that person the things that they are great at, why you love them, things that they’ve done to make you extra happy, and encourage them on things they are working on in their personal life/work. Notice and express the little stuff, it matters. 

    Real Life Example——> “Hey, I really appreciate that you called me on your lunch break because you knew I had to get up early (my time) to get to the gym. That was really thoughtful. Also, nice abs” (just kidding about the abs..but yeah, they’ll appreciate that too) 

    -Make a Schedule: Girls especially get discouraged when they don’t feel secure in “what’s going to happen” in the future. You don’t need to pencil in your f*cking wedding date, but planning and booking your plane tickets well in advance shows that you are making a commitment to moving forward. You’ll also get to look forward to the next time you see each other which always makes the distance seem shorter. 

    Real Life Example——> Book your trips one or two in advance and talk about things you’re excited to do together in the future. Also, take turns visiting each other’s cities and plan a fun vacation once or twice a year to escape! Make an list of adventures and things you want to do together, it shows you’re in it for the long haul. 

    -Learn How to Fight Fast: I’m a verbal processer and can fight and talk things out for hours and days on end, usually peppered with some intermittent bleary-teary-eyed monologues. Charlie likes to go to his cave and process (what is he doing in there?!). You can imagine how this is a tough thing to overcome, when all I want to do is talk and all he wants to do is not talk to me. An integral part of not accidentally killing each other is learning how the other one fights, and then coming to a consensus on where to meet in the middle. 

    Real Life Example——> Charlie and I recently were bickering about something dumb, and after some frustrating banter, he was like “I gotta go”…then “recanted and said “No, I’m here. I can talk for a minute more”…well what did that do to my cold dead heart? Calmed me right the fuck down, is what that did. 

    -Put in the Effort, No Matter the Distance: LDR’s are a lot of work, and the more effort you put in, the happier you’ll be. I promise. It seems counterintuitive that putting more effort toward could bring joy, but it’s true people. Send them letters, emails, unexpected texts, small thoughtful gifts, plan surprises, and ask questions about their day/life, even when you want to fall asleep in your cereal. If you’re both trying your best, it WILL be enough. Take the time to figure out how they want to be loved, and do it. 

    Real Life Example——> As you all know, I’m pretty much a carnivore and want to be eating steak 90% of the time. Yesterday, Charlie sent me (in the MAIL) a Trader Joe’s giftcard so I could go buy yummy food for my extra long, hard week at work. See guys, it’s not just about the flowers and chocolates. Get creative…and girls, it’s not just their job to please you, return the favor.  

    -Be Normal: It’s easy to have an awesome time together when you’re sunning your mutually tanned asses in Turks and Caicos, but guess what? You are going to have to clean this person’s throw up/pee/poop one day. You might have to move apartments together, or go to Costco. Vacations are great, but try to pepper in some normalcy on your days together to get a feel for real life. Walk to the grocery store and pick up food and cook a casual lunch, go to the coffee shop and read a book together (not the same copy of a book, that’s just fucking weird), or exercise and sweat it out with them. If you can love each other while picking up dog shit, you’ll probably love each other for a long time. 

    Real Life Example——> We’ve discovered that as much as we have fun taking epic trips, we really like napping in grass. 

    I hope this helps. Like I said, we’re just all limping along here together. But it’s worth it for that “forever person” and hell, it can only go up from here. 

    Reporting from in the trenches,

    Chinae

     


  3. Be Better at…Life.

    Sh*t I Can’t Get Enough of Edition:

    Every so often I take this tiny section of the internet to just tell you about some stuff that totally rules. Today is that day people.

    Lucky for you guys, no one EVER sends me free swag, so you know this is the God’s honest truth. No sponsored posting here…but if you would like to send me buttloads of free stuff, direct message me ASAP and send me all the free things. 

    Moving on. 

    Three Be Better Picks For February:

    -The Clarisonic Mia 2: My face sucks. Let me explain…my actual face is mediocre but my skin usually sucks. On any given day, I’m battling sections you could liken to the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, patches that channel the Sahara desert, and then usually at least one pesky Mt. Vesuvius pimple that loves to just keep the party rockin’. I’m telling you…when one shows up, it’s like inviting Lohan to an open bar…it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. SO, let me tell you about the day my life changed. One of my favorite days of the year, Christmas, was the moment the Clarisonic entered my world and forever changed the complexion of humanity. OK OK…maybe not humanity but certainly my complexion. I struggle with being good at washing my face and doing a thorough job (my arm gets tired), so this little treasure makes that process fail-proof, even for a dummy like me. The Mia 2 has a one minute timed washing cycle: 20 seconds for the forehead, 20 seconds for nose and chin, and 10 seconds for each cheek. Since Christmas, I’d say I’ve had 60-70% fewer breakouts and have even seen my old lady forehead wrinkles decrease in appearance. It’s like whoa y’all. Run, don’t walk to spend $120 on this little magic wand…it’s worth every penny. Get it HERE. 

    -The Slip Watch by NonLinear: Yesterday I was walking the New York Gift Fair sourcing items for our showroom, and I ran across my new “must-have” accessory. Last week, I lost my FAVORITE (and only) watch…a gold Nixon men’s timepiece that I absolutely LOVED. I almost shed a tear. Anyway, eventually I will replace my beloved Nixon but this new watch is begging to fill that spot. Made by a company called Non Linear, and designed by a dude names Evan Clabots, this little gem needs to be in my arsenal…like…nowish. Personally, the black leather, black face, and gold detailing is my fave. Buy one for me yourself, HERE

    -Nike Training Club: Recently I started doing 6 day a week, morning workouts. Yes, it is super hard but also, kinda the best because now working out doesn’t interfere with my favorite hobby, cocktails. Anyway, I was looking to switch up my workouts by mixing in some interval training with my regular weight lifting…so a little search on the app store led me right to the Nike Training Club app. After a week of using it, I am smitten folks. Not only does it give you workouts, but it shows you how to do each move with a series of photos, and if your still like…”huh?!”, there’s a short 10-second video for each move so your form can be A++. The app talks to you over your music but not so much that you’re like, “shutthefuckup”. Can’t afford a trainer? Download this app and hello workout inspiration! Did I mention that it’s free? For more info, check it out HERE. 

    Now, go forth and buy/download! Oh, and if you have any items I NEED to check out…send me links!

    xo Chinae

     


  4. Be a Better…Cook.

    The Best Chicken You’ll Ever Eat Edition:

    When I got home from the gym at 9pm last night, I wavered between eating a protein bar and calling dinner a failure OR roasting an entire chicken (I bought one for the first time this weekend) due to the fact that I needed to cook it ASAP before it went bad. 

    So I started on a chicken adventure last night that I have to say, was well worth it people. 

    Some thoughts before I post the recipe:

    -I’ve never cooked an entire chicken before.

    -I had no idea really what I was doing.

    -This chicken was $5.00 at Trader Joes, for a 4lb bird…pretty stellar deal.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • A small/medium chicken (4-5 lbs)
    • Fresh Rosemary spears
    • 1 Red Onion
    • Butter 
    • Salt and Peps

    1) First, you’ll need to remove the giblets and plastic bag from the interior of the chicken…bc plastic tastes like shit when it’s melted into your meat. Amirite?

    2) Wash the chicken with cool water, in and out and pat dry with a paper towel.

    3) Stuff the interior of the chicken with your chunks of onion and a couple of spears of rosemary. Lift the skin on the chicken breasts and shove a couple spears of rosemary, there too. 

    4)Take 2-3 Teaspoons of softened butter and rub down the bird, then liberally salt and pepper the whole shebang. This will give you a crispy skin and will lock in the juices.

    5) Leftover onions and rosemary can sit around the outside of the chicken.

    6) Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour and half/forty five. The internal temp should be 160 degrees at least. Baste with it’s own juices every 20 minutes. 

    7) After the roasting process is done, remove the chicken from the oven and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. 

    Enjoy!

    xo Chinae

     


  5. The Be Better Awards!

    The Golden Globes are really the best of the bunch when it comes to award shows.

    That is, if you are so inclined to watch 3 hours of people saying a bunch of strangers’ names in a row. It’s pretty much the modern day version of those chapters of the Bible that are just like a BILLION names you can’t pronounce ..and even more similar because in both cases, they are mostly Jews. 

    I typically don’t watch these shows but I thought “Hey! You’ve actually seen a couple movies this year…give it a whirl dumbass!” So I did.

    Here are my thoughts:

    Best Sponsor of the Golden Globes: Every single speech from every single female star should have included a shout out to Sara Blakely. Who you ask? Oh, just the creator of Spanx, because GOD knows that without a certain measure of breathable spandex, Hollywood could just not happen. 

    Worst Boobs…in Every Category That’s Ever Been Established:  Guys, did I miss a People.com update where a rabid coonhound attacked Halle Berry and stole the majority of her left breast? Because surely someone who loved her would have mentioned the …uhmmm unbalanced nature of her tatas in that dress.  

    Best Death Wish: Let’s just say I was waiting for the red laser target beam to appear on Jennifer Lawrence’s clumsy little forehead after she noted so eloquently, ”I beat Meryl!”. There are a few people you do NOT f*ck with and Meryl is one of them J-Law…she WILL outlive you. 

    Worst Decision by the Producers of the Golden Globes: Can we all agree to make the speeches tweet length and then just give Tina Fey and Amy Poehler the rest of the time to make fun of the audience?!! They were SO SO good but shame on you Golden Globes for giving them such a short time to insult so many famous people!

    Best Use of Meryl Streep’s Old Dresses: Congrats Lena! You’re the ultimate hipster..you found a way to thrift your Golden Globes gown from Meryl Streep’s gown closet (you know she has one due to the fact that she’s 100 years old and is a professional award-getter)!

    Worst Use of Feet: You know when a toddler wraps themselves around your ankles and then you walk around looking like a drunk penguin? I seriously expected to lift up Lena’s dress and find the Full House twins hanging on for dear life. Good God woman, wear flats or something!

    Best Golden Globes Crasher: We all know Chris Tucker was not invited and the cameramen were certainly f*cking with us. Oh wait..he was in that Silver Linings Playbook, but also, Rush Hour 4 is being released soon…WTF. CHRIS TUCKER WAS IN AN OSCAR NOMINATED MOVIE THIS YEAR…ways you know America is dying a slow death. 

    Best Speech: The sad news, the best speech of the night goes to someone outside of the film/tv industry, wearing the exact same dress as she always wears, that just birthed a baby…ADELE. You are the cutest ever and you make Hollywood folks look like a bunch of boring idiots that have no sense of themselves outside of a script or teleprompter (I’m talking to you Paul Rudd)

    Worst Audience Participation Award: NEWSFLASH: Tommy Lee Jones hates fun…also hates Will Farrell and Kristin Wiig. Only explanation…feeling farty. 

    2013 Trend Report from the Golden Globes Red Carpet: 

    • Cover as much of your body as possible, 50% in jewels…channel Britney without the crazy.
    • Make it really hard for your arms to look toned by wearing as unflattering of a neckline as possible. In some cases, wear a dog collar.
    • If you dress does not make it seem like you have two vaginas glued to your chest…you are doing it wrong.
    • When your dress isn’t quite pitch-hitting sexy…add a whole in the center of the chest. Middle boob is the new side boob. 
    xo Chinae
     


  6. Be Better at…Life.

    How to NOT Completely Demolish Your New Year’s Resolutions by February 1st Edition:

    Did you spend the first half of the winter packing on enough pounds to embark on a 6 month tour of Himilaya’s sans food supply? Finally join the gym only to realize that you have to actually hike your ass there to lose weight (bum central)? Want to finally meet someone that tickles all of your fancies (ehem) in 2013? 

    We all make New Year’s Resolutions and SWEAR it’s gonna stick and beach body 2013 will be in check by June, right? WRONG. Fast forward to June and you still look like a member of the Boo Boo family (Mr. and Ms. Honey, that is)…and then soon after, you find yourself once again watching Ryan Seacrest’s NYE Broadcast, a little bit fatter, a little bit poorer, and still kissing Puurrrfect your cat at midnight. 

    5 Be Better Tips to Keep Your Resolutions:

    DIETING: I don’t care if you are The Bundchen herself, I KNOW you still aren’t totally happy with that residual gut you may have gained during your sudden interest in Gingerbread Home-Constructing this holiday season. I get it. As a recovering fatass (Jesus take the wheel), I can honestly say these are a couple pointers that keep me in check daily and have ensured keeping off the poundage:

    • Tell Everyone: No, not in an annoying “look at me, tell me I’m not that fat” way (you are actually huge, btw). Let those closest to you know the details of your diet plan. It’s way harder to cheat when you’ve got a couple people checking in with you and lovingly examining your ordering skillz. You find it’s a sure fire way to deter your casual suggestion for splitting that family-style Brownie Explosion while out with friends.
    • Be Militant: Make a list of approved foods and stick to it like glue. Write it in your phone. Save it to your desktop. Tattoo it backwards on your forehead. I don’t care. There is an awesome amount of freedom in this sort of discipline and having little choice in what to eat…and yes, I know it sounds contradictory and yes, I can see you rolling your eyes. If you bend once, you’ll bend again and again so just stick to it in detail and it’ll become easier by the day. 
    • Stop Lying To Yourself: Making excuses of why you’re allowed to go off the bandwagon is utter and complete bullshit. “I had a hard day”, “I was travelling and there were no options”, and “I’m on my period” are no longer in your food coping vocabulary. Deal with it.

    EXERCISE: Now, as much as I hate waiting for a grown man to do 10lb sets on the leg extension machine (complete with the soundtrack of clanging weights from over-zealous/too easy lifting), I really feel hopeful for people getting their butts in gear and getting active in the beginning of Jan. Some easy gym-motivators:

    • New Music: When new tunes comes out, I make myself wait to listen until I get to the gym. That way, pop pop gets a treat AND I’m focused on something other than my quads burning with hellish fury on squat set #3.
    • Look Good: Now, I’m not saying to put on a full face of makeup before a tough workout, because we all know that that’s a big waste of Laura Mercier’s* time and efforts (*a brand of makeup for my male readers). BUT I am saying pull your shit together…you DO know you are in public, right? You’ll be more motivated to push yourself you don’t look like a dog giving birth in the mirrors of the gym, TRUST ME. Buy workout clothes that are slim-fitting (so you can see your body working and moving), swipe a coat or two of waterproof mascara on before hitting the mats, and for God’s sake gentlemen…buy a new pack of Hanes V-Neck T-shirts and run a damn comb through your hair. 

    DATING: I love the newfound hope a calendar-shift can bring. I really do. But girl/duder, if you think that by doing the exact shit you did last year is going to bring the love of your life to you, I think you might be mistaken. Make a plan to do things differently this year, mix with different circles, ask to be set-up through friends, join groups or find new interesting places to meet people. A hot/smart/downright hilarious girl is not going to walk into your decrepit living room, turn off your Law and Order SVU marathon, and sweep your Olivia Benson-loving butt away for a romantic vacation in the Alps. Get off the couch and make an effort, because expecting different results from the same action is insanity..and no one wants to bring an insane person on their mid-February beach getaway. 

    MONEY: Ah, saving money…SUCH an annoying concept. This one’s my personal resolution this year and man, the prospect of letting my split-ends just sit there and rot due to budgetary constraints is downright depressing. Here are some ways I am gonna try and beat my budget into submission:

    • Make a monthly goal: I’ve made my monthly goals and have to stick to them, or else I get no treats the next month. If I hit my goal mid-month…I get to treat ma’ self! This month’s treat is a hair cut and color…now all I have to do is save, save, save. 
    • Buddy System: Share a copy of your goals and progress via Google Doc with a friend/loved one/spouse/therapist….give them the responsibility and freedom to check in on it whenever they want (this will keep you updating the document and sticking to writing in specifics), and also set up a standing check in every three months to track progress.
    • Drink Less, Cook More: Ugh. Yeah, I get it…

    WORK: Want to be more positive at work and not plot your ballsy escape every afternoon? Want to feel less like you want to kick the water cooler over after a meeting? A couple tips for a great work/life balance:

    • Stop Eating At Your Desk: Chances are, if you are scarfing down your tuna melt while glued to your computer, you are overeating, you are more tired and less satisfied, and your day feels like it lasts an eon. Get up, stretch your legs, insist on eating out or at least get out of your seat and relocate. Even if it’s 15-30 minutes, you’ll feel more productive the rest of the afternoon and less like you want to slam your forehead into the keyboard to see if it would really hurt (it does). 
    • Arrive On Time: This is easy. If you start your day off rushed and off-kilter, that feeling will follow you all the live long day. Get up early enough so you’re not channeling a Cathy comic by the time you get to your desk.
    • Leave On Time: Be clear about what time work is O-V-E-R. You’ll feel less burnt out and you now have NO excuse not to get to the gym/happy hour/date night. Voila! All New Year’s Resolutions are met!

    Happy New Year and Here’s To Being Better in 2013,

    Chinae

     


  7. Be a Better…Bartender.

    Eggnog Drunk Edition:

    There is nothing I love more than Christmastime. The photo above depicts me at age 3…I should say…really not much has changed since. 

    When I was growing up my mom always stocked our refrigerator with half gallons of pre-made eggnog, starting around Thanksgiving through the New Year. Of course, when I was 8, I was not dipping into my booze collection to spike up ma’ nog.

    Obviously I did not know what I was missing.

    In other news, kids this age are complete idiots. 

    So, now that I’m a full-grown adult human being, I can make my own damn eggnog and live the life I’ve always dreamed of! 

    Here’s a recipe for you people that actually eat sugar…for me, I’ll be trying this with a whole lot of granulated Splenda and Atkin’s prayers. 

    BE BETTER NOG:

    • 12 large eggs (separate them out, yolks and whites)
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar (or granulated Splenda)
    • 2 cups whiskey (I like bourbon)
    • 2 ounces rum 
    • 2 ounces brandy
    • 6 1/2 cups heavy cream
    • Freshly grated nutmeg (for garnish and for yums)
    1. In a big bowl, beat your egg yolks together; then mix in sugar/Splenda with a whisk until all incorporated. 
    2. Gradually whisk in whiskey, rum, and brandy (take a small sip of each to make sure they haven’t gone bad).
    3. Keep whisking…then slowly add 4 cups heavy cream and stir until fully mixed. 
    4. Pop that baby in the fridge for 2 hours.
    5. With an electric mixer, in a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff and then fold into chilled boozy concoction bowl. 
    6. Add the last 2 cups heavy cream to mixer and whisk until soft peaks form then fold into liquor mixture. 
    7. Pour into glasses and sprinkle with nutmeg before serving.

    Happy Holidays from the Be Better Blog and Santa! See you all in 2013!

    xoxo Chinae

     


  8. Be a Better…Groom.

    Groomsman Gifting Edition:

    So you’ve tricked some floozy into marrying you huh? Well, now you’re gonna need to buy some prezzies for your studly groomsman and you better make them GOOD because they are the ones deciding if your bachelor party begins and ends at Chuckie Cheese or not.

    Typically, gals are WAY better at buying gifts, so to assist you, future groom, I’ve locked and loaded my lady parts and will guide you on this groomsman gift guide journey. You’ve probably already thought of getting them a personalized flask, or monogrammed money clip…not terrible but I think we can do a little better here.

    The average price range for a groomsman gift should be between $50-150 bucks (best man gifts should be around $150) and they don’t all have to match, just stick to the same price range. Individual gifts are especially perfect if you’ve only got 3-4 dudes in your party. 

    Here are 5 of my faves:

    image

    -Handcrafted Leatherhead Football or Baseball: Even if your groomsmen aren’t typically the sporting type, most every dude likes to go to the park/beach/backyard and throw around a ball like they’re in some godforsaken Land’s End Catalog. Some Spalding bullshit is not going to do for a gift though…so get them these handcrafted Leatherhead Footballs (or baseballs) and give them the gift of showing off. Football $120, Baseball $38.

    image

    -Ernest Alexander Tucker Shave Kit: Now, this one’s a LITTLE more typical, but it makes the list because every guy needs a good shave kit to take on the road with him. No need to monogram, this Tucker Shave Kit comes in a variety of waxed canvas colors and will no doubt last a lifetime. Just think, every time he reaches for that jumbo-sized bottle of Gold Bond…he’ll think of you. As a bonus, it’s made in America by awesome people. Tucker Shave Kit, $90.

    image

    -RC Copter: Who says your gift has to be practical? Lighten things up by giving the gift of boyhood dreams with an RC helicopter! It’ll be the most unique groomsman gift they’ll ever get and they’ll be thanking you for not getting them another stainless steel flask with YOUR wedding date on it. And bonus, you’re giving the gift of annoying their significant others all at once, because naturally these need to be flown toward their gal’s head. Syma Apache Helicopter, $40. 

    image

    -Best Made Co. Japanese Higo Knife:  Go beyond giving just a normal Swiss Army knife and get them something truly unique. This Japanese folding knife from Best Made Co. comes emblazoned with the word Courage and is a handsome addition to someone’s growing arsenal of items to defend themselves during a back alley fights. Best Made Co. Japanese Higo Knife, $60.

    image

    -Dinner + Activity: Another option is to forgo materials gifts all together and create a special night for you and “your boyz” by inviting them to a manly dinner and activity after as their groomsman gift. Nothing says, “stand by my side” like a giant steak, perfectly-made Sazerac, and an hour or two at the shooting range. Or basketball game. Or Disney On Ice™. (depending on your groomsman’s tastes) Get sappy and make individual toasts or write handwritten notes to each one and pass them out at dinner. 

    All of these things can and probably should be supplemented with their favorite bottle of booze because…whiskey.

    Happy Shopping Assholes,

    xo Chinae

     


  9. Be Better at…Friday.

    Because it’s Friday and I have the attention span of a gnat on Fridays…I have a few things I want to discuss that have been on my mind but perhaps don’t warrant a typical long-winded post where I write for way longer than people want to read. Here we go. 

    The Best Acorn Squash You’ll Ever Eat:

    A mini recipe for today…pretty low carb and the PERFECT winter dessert.

    Baked Acorn Squash:

    • 1 Acorn Squash
    • Granulated Splenda
    • Butter
    • Cinnamon
    Step 1: Cut (very little) off the tips of the squash off so when you slice it in half, it sits steadily in your pan. You are basically just giving it a flat surface. Don’t cut all the way through, you’ll want to keep your two little squash bowls intact.
    Step 2: Layer slices of butter, then a layer of Splenda, then a layer of cinnamon, and repeat until the squash bowl is almost full. 
    Step 3: Bake at 400 for 45-hour…you should be able to tell when it’s soft enough
    Step 4: Scrape the insides of each squash down into the buttery/sweet/spicy goodness and enjoy. 

    Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain Sucks:

    Mainly I have a bone to pick with L’Oreal for taking away Beyonce Red Infallible Lip Color…I went into the drugstore one day to get my Beyonce fix and it was just…GONE. Like…NOT EXISTING ANYMORE and was replaced by some orangey red that made me look like I just went cannibal on a bloody oompa loompa. It was not a good day and certainly a low point with me shrieking to the Rite Aid employee that “They can’t just take it away!” 

    I digress. 

    A few weeks later, after my meltdown…(let’s call it my Blue (Ivy) Period) I dragged my ass back to a different Rite Aid (because I think I am banned from the first one) and picked up a Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain in the color “Flame” to help fill my Beyonce void. I took it for a Friday night test run and at first it was AWESOME. Rich color, ridiculous staying power, and it was cheap as hell. Then…shit hit the fan. Suddenly, the next time I went to use my new magic wand, it was as dry as the Sahara and the tiny bit of color I got to my lips suddenly made my lips feel like they’d been in a Ronco Food Dehydrator for two weeks.

    BULLSHIT I tell you! To add insult to injury, the “balm” end of the stick just fell off the second I tried to apply it. It’s like an over-extended chapstick…we all know what will happen. This just proves…you can’t just replace BEYONCE. EVER. 

    If anyone has any lip stain faves in a bright red, let me know…I’m still on the hunt.

    iMessage is Confusing as Shit:

    I am convinced that no one knows what iMessage vs text messaging is unless you’ve looked it up (which I did and now I kinda get it after 2 hours of research). It is mondo-confusing and only works about 60% of the time and now I’ve just turned it off completely. Figure your freakin’ shit out APPLE. Fix those fracking maps and make iMessage less confusing..ok? Also, I love you pleasenevergoaway.

    Foam Rolling to Heaven and Back: 

    I have tight IT bands apparently. They are making my knee feel like my patella (knee cap) is going to pop off at any moment when going up and down stairs. I live in NYC, so this feeling happens about 645 times a day. I am trying a lot of different things including not running anymore and looking like a complete douche trying to give myself a good, hard, workout on the elliptical before I lift at the gym. 

    Side Note: You cannot use the arm things on the elliptical and look like a normal human being. Just don’t do it.

    Anywaysssss…Jon’s brother Dave who is now offisshhhh a Dr. said I need foam roll the living crap out of my IT bands (located on the side of my thighs) to get some relief.

    Does anyone else foam roll and have noticed these things?

    1. It hurts like someone steam rolling your leg.
    2. You always look like you are having weird gym sex.
    3. It makes any small bit of leg-meat fat look super gross because of all the squishing. 
    I don’t have any advice or anything about it…just general whining here.

    Alright, that’s enough blabbing. See you guys next week for more coherent posting.
    xo Chinae
     


  10. Be Better at…Giving Gifts.

    I asked yesterday on Facebook…if anyone had any burning questions for the Be Better Blogger and two of the queiries were very gift-focused. 

    Now…I LOVE presents so I’m more than happy to tackle these.

    Also, send me presents.

    Here we go folks:

    Q:What’s the appropriate amount to spend on a host gift without looking like a hobo? I need to buy 654614361654 this year and I don’t want to break the bank….

    A: Obviously this was asked by a fellow Southerner, because you Yankee friends see bringing a host gift as showing up with a $6 bottle of Trader Joe’s Sparkling Wine, handing it over to the host, and then drinking it all yourself in the darkest corner of the apartment. Heathens!

    I digress.

    Bringing something to a party for the host is always a good idea and is expected, especially when someone is providing your ass with food+drink. Make sure to be interesting and thoughtful, rather than spend a fortune.. I do not want another bottle of mid-range red wine with an idiotic organza bow or an ornament that looks like Pier One Imports poo-poo. 

    Here are some fun gift ideas that won’t break the bank that can work for hosts, co-workers, gift exchanges, etc:

    -For the Cook: 

    Huset Animal Pot Guards $7/ea

    You know that moment where you have to leave something covered on the stove but then it starts exploding hot food lava everywhere because it overboiled? Yeah, how bout we fix that with a miniature hedgehog. Cutest gadget ever? Yeah…no one’s gonna hate this one and for $7 bucks, buy a ton and wrap them up reeeeeeal cute and you’ll never leave for a party without something great in hand.

    -For the City Dweller Who Loves The Outdoors:

     

    Campfire Cologne Burning Sticks $13

    Who doesn’t like the smell of a campfire? Well, for those of us who can’t get to the woods anytime, this “campy” gift is a fun treat. The packaging is perfect and to expand on the gift, wrap these up with fixin’s for s’mores and your gift will not be topped. 

    -For the Entertainer: 

    The Leif Shop Coaster Sets, Cabin Teak Set + Copenhagen Set $20-36

    You know what I can’t stand? Condensation. Yeah, I’m one of those anal-retentive assholes that will stare at you until you put a damn napkin under your sweaty drink. Everyone needs a fun tabletop addition like these wooden coaster sets from the Leif Shop. The Cabin Teak Set is perfect for the more organic-granola types and the Copenhagen is ideal for your Mid-Century snob friends. 

    -For the Ladylike-Type With an Edge: 

    Teacup Gift: Around $15 bucks

    Everyone has one…that sorta ladylike friend that is really proper 80% of the time, but the other 20% is a complete and utter shitshow. Yes, you’ve just identified her in your mind. She’ll be the one wearing a floral Anthropologie shift dress with Frederick’s crotchless panties underneath. OK so now that we’ve identified this mystical creature, now it’s time to gift her. To fulfill her sweet side, buy a mis-matched set of vintage teacups with saucers at your local Goodwill/vintage store (note this should cost you about 4 bucks total). To pair with the teacups, buy a little apple cider powered mix and throw it in a mason jar. As to not forget her bad-girl tendencies  for each teacup, buy one mini whiskey for her to mix in with her cider…even though…knowing her, she’ll drink it solo.

    -For the Fun Type: 

    The holidays are a time to indulge in a couple vices and if the gift receiver is also an occasional partaker…this is awesome. It’s smart, funny, and creative…so don’t tell them that I’m the one who thought of it.  You’re gonna create a gift basket of sorts…no, not like the ones with crappy low-grade milk chocolate and nameless Merlot…not this is MUCH better. Get your receptacle (box/bowl/cannister/etc) and fill it with a little stuffing of some sort…and then place your items in and attach a card that says something to this effect: “Cheers To Indulging Your Vices Before The New Year!”

    Throw in the following items, plus or minus a few depending on the recipient:

    -Mini Booze Bottles + Olives or Gourmet Tonic

    -Cigars or Cigarettes

    -Chocolate Bar

    -Coffee Beans

    -Deck of Cards

    -Dice Set

    -Mini Packets of Aspirin for the Oncoming Hangover

    For the Beer Drinker:

    Wall Mounted Bottle Opener $9

    Who wouldn’t want this cool piece of vintage inspiration that is totally functional in their kitchen or game room? A perfect item to buy in multiples, tie with a twine ribbon, and deliver to any party with a six-pack of your favorite craft beer. 

    Happy Shopping!

    xo Chinae

     


  11. Be a Better…Cook.

    Frick.

    It’s been too long people. Lots of things have been happening in life so I’ll give you a short update on all things personal and if you could give two shits (most of you) go ahead and scroll your pretty heart on down to the next section, k? 

    K. 

    First, I went ahead with my sexy pot roast costume for Halloween. I was met with mixed reviews but I assume it went over decently when men in the bathroom line were telling me they got hungry after seeing me. Not sure if I should be insulted or delighted. All I know is that I needed guy-friend protection from these borderline cannibalistic creeps. (Thanks Jon)

    Secondly, there was a f*cking hurricane followed by an almost blizzard. It totally sucked for most people (I kinda lucked out with no loss of power and a week off of work), but NYC was and still is a moderate shitshow. Also, lots of folks are STILL without power, heat, food, and water so that totally blows and you should find ways to help through DONATING or VOLUNTEERING. Yeah…YOU.

    Other than apocolyptic weather conditions, I finished off a cocktail table that a friend started, drank a LOT of whiskey, and worked out less than I should have with that much time off. I also made some yummy food, one of the recipes is what this post is ACTUALLY about (after I get my rambles out of the way). After weathermaggedon was over, I headed to Texas to stand next to my gal, Lindsey, as she walked down the aisle to a rad guy named Wes. (Note the weird two finger jab I am for some reason giving Linds in the below photo)

    I always love time in my home state and of course I made sure to ditch low-carb long enough to eat my weight in chips and salsa. They come free with the meal but I will be paying a long time at the gym as penance for being a very very bad girl.  

    Oh, yeah…I have a new addiction to report…bored as hell on my plane ride home, I somehow got suckered into watching a show called Storage Wars on A&E and now I’m hooked on the 2012 version of Antiques Roadshow. This is a cry for help people. At least this might be better than than serial killer documentaries I was watching before bed previously.

    Other than that, I’ve been doing some freelance writing for this brand new tech/fashion startup, LOOKCRAFT. It’s a fun gig and I get to write about all things menswear which, I love. 

    Alright…enough recapping now to the blog post for today. 

    Cooking with Pumpkintown:

    I really don’t tend to like mixing salty and sweet flavors and pumpkin is one of those veggies that I ALWAYS associate with a sugary taste, but alas…I wanted to make a low carb Fall soup and ventured into a savory new world armed with cans of organic pumpkin. 

    This soup is a total mouthgasm. 

    Autumnal Pumpkin-Sausage Soup:

    1/2 Cup of Diced Onion

    1 Clove of Minced Garlic

    1 TSP Ground Sage

    1 Tablespoon of Italian Seasoning

    12 Ounces of Breakfast Sausage (Jimmy Dean or the like…not links) or Hot Italian sausage (without the casing)

    2 cups diced Fresh White Mushrooms

    4 cups of Beef Broth

    1/2 cup of Heavy Cream

    1/2 cup of water

    1 bay leaf

    Step One: Cook the sausage in a large pot and drain off the grease (I left a little for additional flavor)

    Step Two: Add onion, garlic, seasonings, and mushrooms to the pan and saute until onions are lightly browned

    Step Three: Throw in your pumpkin and stir

    Step Four: Add broth and bay leaf and mix well.

    Step Five: Simmer for 30 minutes on low-medium heat

    Step 6: Stir in your heavy cream and water and simmer 15 additional minutes.

    Season with S&P and serve!

    This is enough for 4-5 people and is the PERFECT dish for a chilly night in with friends…or you know…for a hurricane. 

    I missed you guys.

    xo Chinae

     

  12. bebetterblog:

    Be Better…at Weather.

    It’s making a comeback this year…

     

  13. Hurricane Incoming…an updated chart for Sandy!

    See the original one I made for Irene HERE. 

     


  14. Be Better at…Halloween.

    We had just moved to a rich, ultra-fancy neighborhood in Dallas (we were probably the poorest people in a 10 mile radius) and as an effort to make friends, I ventured off to trick or treat. 

    Prior years, living in a middle class hood meant a pretty mediocre ratio in the old candy sack…60% stupid candy, 38% awesome shit and 2% weird items that I threw on someone’s front lawn before returning home. But this year…this new place was different and ruined every Halloween to come. 

    First off…I was shocked to see most houses inviting kids INTO their homes, and the kids were actually going in…DUMMIES! Don’t you know that’s how you get chopped up in little bits and stuffed in a donkey piñata for the next serial killers anonymus meeting!?

    I soon learned that you don’t need to be scared of rich people.

    So on the 3rd or 4th house, I waltzed in like I owned damn the place. I then discovered that these idiots had probably spent more than my current yearly income on transforming their mansion into an ACTUAL haunted house and had hired actors to lead kids through a maze of cheap thrills like touching brains and eyeballs (which this sassy jaded 6th grader knew was obviously a jello mold and peeled grapes). 

    After an overpriced 10 minutes they led us into the foyer (rich people LOVE a motherf*cking foyer) staffed by a couple actors who asked us to open our bags (for the record, other kids had monogrammed candy bags…I had an Albertson’s paper sack).

    Let’s talk about the haul…each of us got 4-5 king-sized candy bars and a ten dollar bill. This type of treat-gifting pretty much continued through the night and contributed to my journey into being a real spoiled brat… which I’m sad to say has followed me into adulthood. 

    All that to say, this Halloween don’t be the dumb house that gives away the wrong kind of candy…

    To aid in your shopping here’s a quick guide:

    -Reese’s: A perfect give-away unless little Tommy has an unknown peanut allergy. You didn’t go crazy and buy king-sized treats but you did a respectable job this year. 

    -Loose Candy Corn: ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL SOMEONE? Loose, unwrapped candy? You expect me to put my hand in that pumpkin-shaped bowl of swarming bacteria where 85 other poop-coated miniature fingers have been to get such a measly reward? Have you tasted candy corn lately? It’s pretty much like sweet butter-flavored wax. STOP. 

    -Tootsie Rolls: Oh, you’re too cheap to buy ACTUAL chocolate so you are going to try and skate by with cocoa-flavored treats? No one is fooled. 

    -Coins for Unicef: WTF. You want me to do what with this rusty penny? What the crap is UNICEF? If you give coins away, check your birth certificate as you must be over the age of 68. 

    -Snickers: YES! Best house ever!!! But hey, stick with fun size…not minis, ok? My mom slaved away on this two-person horse costume…make it worth our while. 

    -Dum Dums: You are what you serve. Also, these don’t even have gum inside.

    -M&M’s: Better go with a peanut or new pretzel option here IMHO.

    -Pencil: Really? This is going straight in your lawn.

    -Almond Joy: Don’t ask me, I didn’t taste one until I was 25 due to my mom always taking these as her payment for driving my ass around.

    -Apple: Sigh. I feel sorry for your children. Also, unless I’m bobbing for $20 bills…don’t make me stick my face into a bucket of water to get my treat. 

    -Sorta “peanut flavored” chewy candy in solid brown or orange wrappers: Terrorist candy if you ask me. If anyone can find a brand name for these, I’ll give you all my candy. 

    Happy Halloween y’all!

    xo Chinae

     


  15. Be a Better…Cook. {Guest Post by Laurel Dailey}

    Friends, 
    Everyone once in a while, my wild ego takes a break and I let someone else write on my very mediocre blog. Today is that day.
    Welcome.   
    Laurel Dailey is a friend of many friends (including the BF) but I couldn’t help but steal her away partially from all of them and make her a personal friend of mine as well. She started low carbing months ago and this is a journal into her first foray into low-carb baking…pretty stellar I would say. During her time not ranting HERE, she’s making people look good with her photography skills, HERE. She resides in LA with her enormous fur pelt collection.
    Enjoy.
    xo Chinae
     
    **********************************************************************************
    Low Carb Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie Edition:
    Love will make you do crazy things.
    Though I’ve yet to make any kind of insane proclamations for the sake of a fella (but if that day comes, I’m going to request that each and every one of you kindly refrain from wagging your finger and crowing, “I told you so!” because yes, I know. And you told me so. And I didn’t believe you. And, as of Monday, October 8th, I still don’t, but you all keep saying, “Just you WAIT!” And I keep saying, “Pffft.” All clear? Good.) Er…though I’ve yet to experience that lovely little slice of life cake, I will tell you that having a best friend, and then loving that best friend, will make you do crazy things as well. 
    Such is the case with one of my best friends, Jess Kemp. She’s one of my low-carb lifestyle spirit guides, as is the eternally bodacious Chinae Alexander (HEY THAT’S ME). Jess turned 30 last week, and, though I partially blame the heat for this feverish idea, it’s also love that compelled me to take the following completely-out-of-character actions:
    1. I came up with a recipe for low-carb bourbon bacon chocolate chip cookies.
    2. I baked a test batch on Monday’s triple-digit heat day. 
    3. I adjusted the recipe and baked a SECOND batch for Jess on Friday.
    4. Did I mention that I baked? Because I did. I used a mixing bowl and a whisk and I greased a cookie sheet, and I didn’t even make any lewd jokes in the process. 
    If you can believe that I, Laurel Dailey of “I don’t cook EVER, don’t make me, I can’t even boil water” fame achieved all of these things, then the only explanation I have for you will take you right back to the beginning of this post:
    Love will make you do crazy things. 


    If you’ve got a hankering for the kind of cookie that is inherently awesome (because of the bourbon) and also low-carb, then here’s my recipe. I made a recipe. And though it does contain alcohol, it isn’t a cocktail. Oof. These growing pains I’m getting from going from awesome to awesome-r are really starting to bug me.
     



    -LD