1. 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

     


  2. Be a Better…Lover.

    Since today is the official day of being all vomit-y and talking about love, I suppose my adoration of jumping on bandwagons shouldn’t quit on such an occasion. 

    But I’m not going to tell you how to impress that special someone, or how to pick the perfect V-day gift…because, seriously, no one wants to read that shit.

    Instead, let’s dissect the easiest ways to absolutely make your v-day crash and burn…as one half of a couple, or totally single. Because that’s WAY more fun.

    5 Ways to Kill Valentine’s Day: Relationship Edition

    -Buy her clothes: Clothes are tricky…especially if you have no clue what actual size she is. You’re probably going to offend her or make her feel fat. I was shopping last night, and was approached by men 3 separate times, to give my opinion on some V-day clothing items for their wives/girlfriends. I picked out clothing for three women, who I happen to never have met, have no idea of their personal style, or what they actually look like. Descriptors that were used by these men when asked to give details of their ladies were: skinny, light-skinned, hot, big butt, and short. So, as you can see…I was not set up to win here. Note, if you are asking a stranger at Forever 21 if you should buy either the ugly satin blue dress or the ugly satin pink dress…you should stick with something more in your wheelhouse..like candy (or bling-covered chains in one instance). And for the record, I picked the ugly blue one. 

    -Open the Ex-Files: This is not the time or place to talk about past gifts, or romantic expressions made by previous lovers. Ladies, shut your mouth. This is also not the time to talk about that wedding at Disneyland that you’ve been dreaming of. Eat your Russell Stover’s and be happy.

    -Make an Overly-Romantic Gesture That Reveals Your Inner Guilt: Maybe i’m a Valentine’s Day cynic (realist) in that I think some good quality time, small tokens of affection, and telling them how you feel is enough. But I will tell you…when I see that someone has rented the entire Empire State Building for a rousing hide and go seek game, figured out how to make an actual carpet fly Aladdin-style, and/or has brought in Mario Batali for a home made dinner complete with a trip to Italy for dessert…I start wondering how badly you f*cked up this year to have to do all that.  If a man did this, I would probably break up with him, because he is for sure cheating on me or killing puppies in his spare time. 

    -E-cards: Nothing is worse than an e-card. Just…don’t do it. Too depressing. Write an email or something. Or actually WRITE A REAL LETTER. Imagine that.

    -Fuck Dinner Up: Valentine’s dinner has some sort of weird pressure behind it. Don’t totally mess it up by emotionally vomiting on your date…how this is the first Valentine’s date you’ve ever been on and that if all goes to plan that you know that you guys would have very adorable children. Also, men…stop talking about work, or your “portfolio”, or how you can’t wait to get home and bump uglies. It’s making my steak taste funny.

    5 Ways to Ruin Valentine’s Day: Single Edition

    -Post Anti-Love Sentiments on FB: We’ve all been single on at least one Valentine’s Day…and Facebook makes that more evident than ever. But I will tell you one thing…if you want to ensure that next year’s V-day will be just as lonely, talk about how much V-day sucks, and how it’s a Hallmark holiday. Even some of us that are in relationships don’t really care for it…but putting out those negative vibes don’t make you or anyone else feel any better. No guy was ever like…”man, that girl is pissed she’s single…I think I should do something about that and whisk her off her angry little feet!” Also, I think F*ck Guys Girl’s Night Out is banned on today…too much, ladies. 

    -Cat Photo Shoot: Doing a full-fledged photo shoot with your army of felines after too much discount wine is not going to go well. 

    -Ask Strangers on a Date: Men, this is not the day to pick up women on the train/bar/laundry mat. You are opening up a time bomb of emotion that you are not prepared for. You may want a hot date for tonight, really bad…but don’t be that weirdo desperate guy that’s ordering the pre-fixe Valentine’s menu for one at the bar so you can scope out women. 

    -Go to the Gym: I’ve been single quite a few times on Valentine’s…but one thing I won’t do is go to the gym on this day. Give yourself a break, have a relaxing evening…the gym is only going to be full of die-hards and lonely hearts tonight. Grab a drink with friends and celebrate love today, single or not.

    -Single’s Events: Holy sh*t. I still can’t believe that people go to things that include the words: Speed date, mixer, anti-valentine’s day ball, singles b-ball. I mean, I am all for figuring out ways to meet people, but going to one of these things on Valentine’s Day is NOT the answer. Again, drinks with friends are always the best option!

    Love you all. 

    xo Chinae

     


  3. Be Better at…The Holidays.

    Ten Holiday Wishes From The Be Better Blog To You and Yours:

    1) Enjoy those extremely (in comparison to New York City) cocktails you will be funneling down your throat at your hometown bar. 

    2) That you avoid as many awkward high school acquaintance interactions at said, hometown bar. 

    3) That you get through the list of electronic/technology questions your parents have saved up for “when you’re home”. #what’snetflix? #istwitterporn? #howdowetapeshows?

    4) You find all those embarrassing photos and videos of your significant other at their family’s home, to store up for future blackmail purposes.

    5) That you don’t blackout on Christmas Day, due to excessive booze/food consumption.

    6) Avoiding gaining 15-20 lbs of “Christmas Weight” from said excessive booze/food. 

    7) Not having to look at a computer screen for a few days so your eyes can adjust to what nature and people ACTUALLY look like.

    8) Catching up with friends that you’re alright with not talking to until next Christmas, and some that you actually would like to see more than once a year. 

    9) Not reading this sh*t blog for a week or so.

    10) (cue serious moment) Most of all, I hope you have a joyful/restful/ridiculous holiday season, filled with lots of laughs, good cocktails, family & friends, and lots of being better!

    Cheers to being better in 2012! Thanks for playing along this year y’all.

    xo Chinae 

     


  4. Be a Better…Bartender.

    So yesterday I ranted told you how to make sure your holiday party doesn’t suck. Part of that was making some boozy concoction to share. Here’s a great recipe from my friend Nate that certainly greased my proverbial wheels this Thanksgiving.

    CRAN-APPLE Cider
    SERVES 16

    1 Gallon Jug of Apple Cider/Juice
    4 Cups Cranberry Cider
    4 Cups of Orange Juice
    1 Bottle Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum
    1LB Fresh Cranberries
    4 Nectarines or in my case I used Oranges/Pears since Nectarines weren’t in season
    4 Apples
    3 Tablespoons Cinnamon
    2 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger
    Cinnamon Sticks (garnish)
    1) On Low Heat, pour 1/2 cup of Spiced Rum into a large pot. Add in Cranberries. Use a masher or a large spoon and break open some of the cranberries.
    2) After about 10 minutes, stir in Apple Cider, Cranberry Cider & Orange Juice.
    3) Get to a point where the drink is luke warm and mix in half of your spices (1.5 Tablespoon Cinnamon, 1 Tablespoon Ginger). Simmer until hot.
    4) Cut up Apples into 1x1 inch squares/triangles/trapezoids.
    5) Once drink is hot, stir in Fresh Apples, Rum, remaining spices.
    6) Slice Nectarines in half. Squeeze fruit into the pot.
    7) After 15 minutes, drink should be done. Garnish “in cup” with cinnamon sticks.
    Cheers Christmas Dudes and Dudettes,
    Chinae
    I
     


  5. Be Better at…The Holidays.

    Every night during this time of year there seems to be ANOTHER f*cking holiday shindig to attend. Now, I’m not complaining…but you’ve really gotta make stopping by your event worth it for people. I can’t count how many holiday events I go to and end up wishing that I could crawl back into my non-existant time machine and forget that I ever went. 

    Here are some rules to make your holiday party NOT suck:


    Invitation Protocol: Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Facebook. I would kiss Mark Zuckerberg on the mouth if I wasn’t dating the love of my life, AND if he didn’t look like a sweaty fish all the time. If you want people to come to your party, Facebook is fine, but if you want to really get on people’s calendars…you’ll need to email them. Just saying, DO BOTH. Yes, it’s very fun to see that list of people accepting your invite and making you feel validated and like you actually have friends, but most people, myself included, are RARELY going to accept or look at a FB invite. Plus, all that time you spent designing the invite photo will be wasted when you can’t even click on the photo and it just becomes an ugly unreadable icon of non-information. 

    Party Playlist Management: Christmas carols are awesome. I have danced in my underwear to Mariah Carey’s yuletide magic many a time. BUT, three hours of Christmas classics is too f*cking much. Do not let Pandora take the reigns on this. DO NOT. Mix in some Christmas favorites with modern good-ass music and you’ll be better off. If I wanted to listen to non-stop Amy Grant Christmas Edition, I’d go to the grocery store, or my parents house. To avoid your guests going on a Christmas rampage, really give that playlist some time and effort.  

    No Dress Code(i.e. Christmas Sweaters): We are no longer in college (well, some of us)…there’s no need to wear an ugly sweater to be ironic. Maybe in a Pre-Hipster society this was a funny indicator that “yeah! we are cool and hip and aren’t afraid to be different!” but now…it’s just plain dumb and I refuse to invest in a purposely hideous piece of clothing. Also, all the ugliest sweaters in the Tri-State area have already been ravaged by the entire population of Williamsburg, as everyday wear. 

    Don’t Invite the Borings: OK, so maybe you have to invite them, but you’ve got to ensure that you are going to have a couple key players in the room to keep people’s spirits up. Make sure you get THOSE people to your event and it won’t matter how boring everyone else is. 

    Don’t Go Into Sad Girl Mode: Alright, I see that you’ve been baking all day and slaving over pinecone napkin rings. It’s party time and half the guests just plain aren’t coming. The regretful texts start rolling in and you are almost ready to cry in your raspberry-cheesecake cookie muffins. Get over it. People have other places to be and you didn’t lure enough bozos in with your promise of home made shit. IT’S OK. Focus on making the time intimate and special for people that are there and please wipe that disappointed look off your face, apron+crying=not cute.

    Keep It Casual: You’re stressing people out. Yes, you. You with the intense invitation, 16 follow up emails, list of what to bring, list of what not to bring, links to google satellite of how to get to the event by plane/train/foot/hovercraft, and the promise of treats. We are overwhelmed and if your shindig is anywhere as annoying as the process leading up to it is, I’m going to RSVP a big, fat, NO.

    Christmas Booze: BYOB is totally cool. Having no supplies at the ready, just in case, is not. Sure, there will be those losers  guests, who come empty-handed, but they were gonna come that way anyway. If you don’t want to spend a lotta moolah, make a signature cocktail or a big batch of hot-boozy goodness (recipe coming tomorrow!) for everyone to partake in. A dry party is a stupid party, so grease the social anxiety with some adult juice and I promise your guests will be happy to stay all night long. 

    All I want for Christmas is a fun holiday party,

    Chinae

     


  6. Be A Better…Gift Giver.

    Another F*cking Gift Guide Edition:

    Yeah, I know. 

    Another gift guide…sigh. Listen, let’s change this from a gift guide to a “stuff I think is decent and wouldn’t mind getting from someone that feels obligated to buy me something” guide. 

    I already have these but kinda want another pair. You give me shorts that I can wear in the winter, and I’m on board. These HeatTech thermal pantaloons from Uniqlo are somewhere between snowbunny and sexy grandma, and that seems like a good place to be if you ask me. Heat Tech Knit Shorts from Uniqlo, $12. 

    The holidays mean family. Family means being driven to drink. Let’s make those drinks extra fancy this holiday season with these sickly packaged bitters. With flavors like mole, habenero, and celery shrub you’re going to expand your cocktailing repertoire and melt that family-related holiday stress away! Bittermans Bitters, $17.95.

    Speaking of drinking, you’re gonna need to open some bottles this coming year, so why not look fancy-as-hell doing it? Here’s your answer to give the girl who drinks beer while wearing copious amounts of fur. Crescent Brass Bottle Opener, $60 at the Future Perfect Brooklyn. 

    Anything that is scary, creepy, or remotely haunting…is right up my alley. These decorative plates (for wall hanging, not eating) are the perfect answer to creeping those holiday guests out just enough for them not to overstay their welcome. Beat Up Creations on Etsy has a variety of these delightful gems that range from scary to funny, to absolutely nerdy (think R2D2). Zombie Love Wedding Plate, $32 from Beat Up Creations. 

    If you are looking to spend in the thousands for my Christmas gift, look no further. This Lindsay Adelman chandelier will do the trick. The Knotty Bubbles piece is one of my faves and anyone that thinks this light sucks, should take a real look at the way they are running their lives. Lindsay Adelman Knotty Bubbles Chandelier, $15k at the Future Perfect. 

    If you are a total cheapskate and mostly just want to say…”You are only worth .99 cents”, I can’t think of a better way to say it with panache. These Polaroids of expensive sh*t at Partners and Spade are pretty brills. (WARNING, DO NOT ACTUALLY GET ME THIS OR I WILL FIGHT YOU) It’s The Thought That Counts Polaroids, .99 cents at Partners and Spade.

    OK, now we are talking. This is the perfect gift to get from that special someone…Very cool, not cheesy looking, and wearable daily. Giles and Brother include free engraving on their Pied-de-Biche Cuffs…sentimental BUT not vomit-inducing. WONDERFUL. Pied-de-Biche Cuff, $125 at Giles and Brother.

    A good graphic print is always a good prezzie. I am longing for these two from J Hill Design. Texas and New York…two places that I love so much, that can create a wonderful little design diptych. New York and Texas prints, $30-50 each from J Hill Design. 

    Counting down the days until the next time you see your long-distance lover? This wall calendar from Sam Flax is a simple, classic design that doubles as time-keeper and art piece. And so cheap! Wall Calendar, $29.95 from Sam Flax. 

    And last but not least…for the geeky gal (me), pick up some rad new headphones to beat that commute into submission. Micro Gem Headphones, $35 from the Future Perfect. 

    Happy shopping bitches. Also, if you want to buy and or all of these things for me, I will gladly provide my mailing address. 

    xo Chinae

     


  7. Be Better at…Holidays.

    Thanksgiving 2011 Edition:

    Thanksgiving: it’s a holiday weekend that really starts with a bang on Thursday, but leaves us having to figure out what to do with our stuffing-stuffed selves for the next few days. Here are some helpful hints of what to do post the Turkeypocalpyse: 


    I hate leftovers. I mean, I can eat Thanksgiving Round 2 about 12 hours after I consumed it the first time, but then what? God knows there’s more turkey and fixin’s than I can shake a stick at, and dagwood sandwiches are looking kinda’ meh at this point.

    Martha Stewart has of course thought of about 2,000 ways to correct our little problem (along with inventing a lot of problems we didn’t even know we had). Here are 35 OF HER BEST-LOOKING POST-THANKSGIVING LEFTOVER RECIPESHere are my personal favorites of the bunch: 

    -POCKET PIES: who doesn’t want all that yummy-ness baked into a fatty piece of dough? Carbception.

    -PENNE WITH GOAT CHEESE, KALE, OLIVES, AND TURKEY: I like my leftovers to look nothing like they did the first time around. Turkey and pasta could be a stretch, but I’ll take my chances.

    -CRANBERRY PANCAKES: Sounds like the perfect hangover combo after finishing all the Thanksgiving wine.

    -TURKEY-POBLANO TOSTADAS: Who doesn’t love a tostada?

    -TURKEY AND SWEET POTATO HASH: For you salty-sweet combo people. 

    I would venture to say that most of us have an embarrassing amount of canned food and non-perishables left over from an Irene/Thanksgiving combo… and really, when did I think I was going to need to survive on lima beans? (all the vodka is already gone though). That being said, this is a great time to focus on replenishing ourfoodbanks, pantries and soup kitchens (especially the many that are right here in our hood). Use the Food Bank NYC’s WEBSITE to find the closest spot to donate your leftover food, cash or spend some time serving Brooklyn’s needy families. Give thanks for what you have by giving some away.

    So you’ve eaten, and are equal parts bloated and wanting to snack. Beat the bloat and boredom by walking the park. Not only are you gonna’ burn some major calories, you’ll get to enjoy one of the last decent weekends before Brooklyn becomes a frozen tundra for the next 4 months.

    You’ve walked the park a million times before…I know. To spice up your trek, use one of these self-guided walking TOURS from the Prospect Park website. I have actually done one of these and it was pretty fun, and I only got lost for a total of 15 minutes. They’ve got 3 different trails to walk, so pick one and lead your urban tribe/family/strangers on a little autumnal adventure.

    You may start to get cabin fever and/or need to drink to forget the awkwardness of some family interaction? Well, you’re in luck. Here’s a new cocktail recipe to spice up the weekend’s low points…

    You need an olive-rosemary martini.

    Things you’ll need:

    2 Ounces Gin

    2 Teaspoons of Dry Vermouth

    1 Sprig of Fresh Rosemary

    Pitted Olives

    Shake the Vermouth and Gin with ice and strain into a martini glass. Strip the leaves off the bottom 2 inches of the sprig of rosemary. Skewer the olives with the rosemary and add to the drink.

    There’s no fucking way I’d ever find myself in Manhattan in some god-forsaken American Eagle on Black Friday. It’s pretty much the worst day of the year to navigate and travel around the city (it’s runner up to the Puerto Rican Day Parade Day).

    BUT if you still need to start holiday shopping, you’ve got the day off of work and you’re not willing to venture into the outside world — instead of heading to the city, here are my suggestions for some online black friday venturing:

    ASOS.com 

    DWR: Tools For Living

    MUJI

    Partners & Spade

    Hope this helps in the effort to get you off your ass this weekend!