Cold Weather Uniform: Bootcut, Big Coat, Beanie

Every time I go outside my nose starts running. That's how cold it is. It makes me want to bury my head under the covers, binge watch Jessica Jones and have instacart bring me apple cider until it gets warm again. As we say in my house, I'm a delicate flower.

This uniform helps. The flares make me feel fancy and cool and on trend, whereas the rest of my outfit is optimized to best approximate the feeling of still being in bed. The beanie also helps hide the fact that it's too cold to have wet hair and so I wash my hair, like, once a week. I am disgusting (thumbs up emoji, but like, in a cool girl way.

Get your own B's:

C/MEO Camel Coat | San Franciso Pom Pom Beanie |  Bootcut Dark Wash Flares (similar) | Sweater (similar) Swedish Hasbeens

The Theory of Inherited Trauma

Forgive me if this article comes out of total left field but sometimes I can't help myself. I read something and it touches me so deeply, that the only way I can feel better is to write about it and hope my words can do something.

A few weeks ago my friend and mentor sent me this article about the atrocities happening to the refuges in Greece. Reading it, all I could think about was my father. My father, who at the age of 14 was taken to a Auschwitz. After enduring his time at the camps, he was released with many other refugees, into a "displaced persons" camp in France.

All I knew about this when I was a kid was a photograph I found of my father, his first wife and two other boys, sitting on a rock in a forest. They look skinny, and much younger then they actually are. Like middle schoolers, when I know from the chronology that they were almost 18.

When I think about camp, I think about Summer Camp. About camping in the woods with friends. Some of my best memories are about camping or being at camp. I am so lucky.

Sleeping outside after being in a concentration camp was probably not like summer camp. I can imagine never feeling warm. Never feeling full. I know, because I am so tall, and my brother and grandfather are so tall, that at 5'10 my fathers growth was most likely stunted by his time in the camps. He should've been 6'3 like the other men in my family. When he died I was 14, and almost as tall as he was.

After enduring the ghettos, followed by the completely impossible to fathom horrors of the concentration camps, it seems inhumane to think that we sent them to "displaced persons" camps. Nobody wanted to take in the refugees, even after the horrors they were exposed to became public knowledge. These survivors were forced instead to sleep outside, confined to yet another "camp", sometimes even staying in the concentration camps where they had been imprisoned. I can only imagine this wasn't by choice.

It makes me heart ache just to think about it.

Refugees are such a contentious and hot button issue right now. People are scared. Fear based decision making is horribly flawed. It sends ripples of pain out into the future, where it only grows and morphs into something more horrifying than we can possibly imagine.

In my final paper for my B.A. in Middle Eastern studies, I wrote about the similarities between children of Holocaust survivors and children of Palestinians displaced in 1948 and 1972. Modern history is harder to study and quantify empirically, and this was in the early 2000s when the internet was not something you could quote as a source. What I found was this: the two groups shared two distinctive and measurable factors - an incredibly high rate of literacy (higher than all the other middle eastern countries combined) and a deep and abiding sense of fear.

I somehow managed to get my hands on a study done in Israel, during the peace talks at Camp David, amongst people living in towns that either bordered or would be absorbed into Palestine during the Road Map to Peace. The researchers asked these people if they were afraid, trying to find common factors that inspired fear in these residents. They studied over 15 potential fear triggers (including location) but found that the only common denominator between a high level of fear was a relative or close friend who was a Holocaust survivor. They remembered or had been exposed to the legacy of that experience, and with it bore that fear into how they viewed the path to peace with their neighbors. A more recent study from 2012 found the same high levels of fear not only in children but also in grandchildren (gawd, how much do I wish we had the modern internet when I was in college?!?)

The second and third generations of the Holocaust are easier to study because they are well organized groups. There are resources. There are mailing lists. Scholars who want to study us don't have to look far to find us, en masse. But it's also incredibly easy to see how these patterns, these studies, this research, could also be so easily applied to any group that finds itself under violence, then turned away by all the more affluent communities that so easily have the ability to help them.

Children of holocaust survivors, of which I am, remarkably one - are fed on fear. Be prepared if they come for you. Never have less than a full tank of gas. Don't throw away spoiled food because you never know if you'll need it. Don't even say the word lice unless you think you'll look good with a buzz cut.

The Second Generation was studied widely, if not widely known about. They shared hauntingly similar stories about how what their parents endured shaped their childhoods, and then their lives as adults.

We live in an era of those children grow up. They have become leaders, they carry their fear into the decisions they make. The future suffers as a result.

I called it the theory of inherited trauma, a term I found in another book I will never be able to lay my hands on again. What happens when the defining moment in your life is something horrible that happened in your parents generation? What happens when the lesson you learn is that only you can defend yourself, because nobody else is going to help you? How does that lesson grow and expand and become even more horrifying as it ripples out into the future? Don't just think about the refugees in Europe now, think about the groundwork you are laying for the future, spanning endlessly, generations and generations to come.

If you are lucky like me, then the horrifying event that your parents endured becomes the source of possibly your best quality. You learn a deep sense of compassion and empathy. You learn to see the power of a story to inspire people to make decisions that will send ripples of compassion and empathy into the universe in the place of violence and fear. You learn that when something unimaginably horrible happens to you (ahem, cancer, ahem) that you can find in your voice the ability to make people less scared, more compassionate, more grateful for the blessings they do have, more willing to see the humanity and sameness that defines us all at our core.

I see the perfect emblem of this in one of my favorite memories of my father, Andrew.

Andrew had a print shop in San Francisco across the street from a place that made and sold fresh bagels. This bagel shop had the habit of putting out any bagels they couldn't sell for the large homeless population in SF to come and take as they needed. The neighborhood organization for this little strip of commerce was having a problem with littering and decided that the vagrants and the bagels were to blame. They tried to pass a community regulation banning the leaving out of food on the street.

My father, strong and tall and bushy-mustached, stood up in front of the crowd of his peers at this meeting. He said,"I don't think any of you know what it's truly like to be hungry. I know. I was in Auschwitz. I think about what I would do for a 3 day old bagel at that time and I am ashamed. I can't imagine anyone who has ever known what it's like to be hungry who would suggest throwing away food instead of giving it to people who would otherwise have nothing else to eat."

The measure was shot down unanimously. Even the person who suggested it expressed his shame at thinking about it. Instead they allocated some additional spending for more trash cans on the street.

It's a small decision. A microcosm of the much larger, and much more overwhelming decision we now face. I get that.

I understand deeply what fear can do. It can make you selfish. Protect what's yours, we think. We don't have enough to take care of other people, we have to take care of our own people first! I get it. I'm scared too. All the time. But then I remember just how much I actually have. Just how truly lucky I am (cancer and all) and it reminds me that all I can do is move past that fear. Put it aside. Identify when I'm feeding that monster inside of me and starving the one that teaches me compassion and empathy.

I watch this video and I think - if 8 year old Francine starving in a holocaust camp can give her chocolate, what could I do?

This post is dedicated to Sashka, who teaches me how to scale empathy every single day, and of course, to my Dad. 

Give the Gift of Innovation Part 2: Skin-novation

According to an article I read (can't find it or I would link to it here) one of the few things that are actually less expensive in the first part of November before Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales are high-end skincare devices. This really got me thinking. I love high-end skincare devices. Most of mine have been gifts (because, duh, who splurges on stuff like that for yourself) but OMG do I love them so so much. So I decided to compile a list of my favorites here, as well as links to any deals I found. Happy Hunting! **

Nuface Microcurrent Device

This crazy handheld device is a lot of work, but if you use it, it definitely works. It's the same technology as the expensive facials I used to get, but at home where I can actually reap the benefits of consistent use. The idea is simple - your body produces microcurrents that stimulate the production of collagen. As you age, these currents decrease in frequency, and this has been identified as one of the causes of sagging skin, wrinkles, etc. The most noticeable thing about it is the instant "lifting and firming" of the face. It's so noticeable that you can do it to only one side of the face and snap and picture and you'll actually be able to see the results immediately. After using it regularly the results will last for longer - you can find lots of youtube videos which document people's success after regular use.

Where to find the deal:

Purchase a Nuface Mini from and you'll get 20% OFF the device AND anything else in your cart (including purchases) which is an amazing deal if you're planning to buy anything else.

Ulta also has it on sale for just $160, and includes a free mist with purchase.

Clarisonic Cleansing Brush 

Do I even need to explain why people are obsessed with this? Ok, fine. The brush cleans your skin exponentially more effectively than just your cleanser alone, resulting in clearer skin with decreased pore visibility and more potency from your fancy serums and lotions. The "sonic" cleansing, much like the sonic toothbrushes, effectively removes all that gunk from the surface so it can't mess with your skin or block your pores.

Where to find the deal: 

On sale for $99 from Macy's, with free shipping and an extra brush head!

Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 

A hair removal laser you can use at home? Enough said. Yes it works, yes it hurts a little (but waxing hurts a lot!) If you want to know if it's worth it think about how much you spend on other hair removal (waxing, etc.) and then multiply that over a year. The math definitely bares out.

Where to find the deal: 
$299 at Barneys

**Beware products from Amazon, Ebay and anywhere that seems too good to be true - there's a lot of counterfitting in these high end spa products right now. :(

Give the Gift of Innovation Part 1: Tech to enhance your existing Tech

Actually Wearable Wearables:

The Present of Presence: RINGLY

A gorgeous, real gemstone ring that alerts you when you have a message, call, notification or whatever else you want to set up. Works with tons of apps including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Uber, eBay, Tinder, and can be customized only alert you when certain people reach out (mom, husband, crush etc.) At about $200, this one is one to watch or add to your Black Friday/Cyber Monday Wishlist.

See me in my Ringly in the wild. 

The Tech-SEXY-Ories: Baublebar for Target

A full line of blinged out cords, cases, headphones and more. There's a lot of buzz around these pretty, savvy gifts. I like them especially for decreasing the likelihood that my husband will steal/lose my cords.

The products, which range in price from $19.99 to $49.99, will be sold in Target stores and on beginning Nov. 29.

The Headphone Necklace 

There's something to be said for pretty headphones, especially considering how often they are hanging off my body. They can now be found in a range of prices and styles from the minimalist to the blinged out. Some favorites:

Rose Gold Frends Layla $150 | Marshall All White  $60 |

All Things Marble 

Trust me, it's a thing. 

Marble Happy Plugs $25 | Marble Portable Charger Large $58 | Mini Bluetooth Marble Speaker  $35| Marble Iphone Case $25

The Decor Portable Speaker

I cannot tell you how many compliments I get on my Stelle pillar which is gorgeous AND has awesome sound. Definitely one of my most beloved and oft used gifts from previous years past (good job, um, Santa?)

Rose Gold Stelle Pillar $300

THOSE Over the Knee Boots & How to Get Them for Cheaper

If you've ever seen someone in these boots (or seen a picture of someone in them, or read a fashion blog, or any variation thereof) then you are probably at least vaguely familiar with them. Stretching elegantly above the knee, in butter soft suede that somehow shapes to even the chickenest of legs, these flat boots are coveted, fashion-girl favorites. I've tried knockoffs, I've tried forgetting about them, but I have them bookmarked on every website, and pages of outfits in my Pinterest dedicated to how I would style them should they ever become mine.

I also have an attentive husband. One who noticed my obsession and started his own very diligent and organized form of questing. When he found the perfect storm of gift cards, sales, discounts and an occasion (my surgery and christmas and my birthday, all aligning in a 5 month stretch of "Dena deserves a present") he decided to give them to me.

 I'm not ashamed to say I cried when they arrived. They are everything I dreamed of and more. So comfortable I would wear them around the house, warm but somehow never too warm or sweaty, they elevate every single thing I wear with them to an outfit. They feel like angels are hugging my gams.

Lusting after them for yourself? If there was ever a time to buy them it would be now. This is when things that never go on sale go on sale. Hunt them down. Open up all the tabs, put them in your cart and wait. Black Friday is coming. Cyber Monday is coming. Friends & Family sales are slowly trickling down the pipeline.

Here's a comprehensive list for your convenience.

Stuart Weitzman Lowland Boots (Saks)
Stuart Weitzman Lowland Boots (Zappos)
Stuart Weitzman Lowland Boots (Neiman Marcus)
Stuart Weitzman Lowland Boots (Revolve)
Stuart Weitzman Lowland Boots (Bloomingdales)

Shown with: Smoke x Mirrors Volunteer Sunglasses | White Cable Knit Sweater | Leather Skirt with Zippers (similar in green) | Checked Oversize Flannel Scarf (similar)  | Rebecca Minkoff Snakeskin Leather Purse (sim + on sale!)

Happy Hunting!

Under $10 Drugstore Cult Beauty Buys to Stock Up on Before Winter Comes & They Sell Out

Stock up before they're gone!

Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer $8
Winner of just about every beauty award there is, this lotion is coveted for it's easy application, quick absorption, and effective moisturizing. So coveted is this lotion that come December it will be almost impossible to find, sold out everywhere from your corner drugstore to Amazon. On my current excursion to the Wal, I got the last one on the shelf.

L'Oreal Paris Elnett Purse Size $8
Widely believed to be the best hairspray of all time, come holiday party season the purse-sized version will be missing from all the shelfs. This brushable, volumizing, light as air spray keeps updos in check, tames brows, plumps deflating waves and just about everything else you want from a hairspray. I've tried everything from Drybar to Living Proof to the entire Tigi Bedhead collection, and I just keep coming back to this one.

Looking for the perfect "cream" color to depuff and brighten those tired, holiday-party-every-night eyes? This cheapie works better than fancier brands I tried at Sephora, and at this price I'll have them stashed in every purse. 

YUM. This lip balm is my favorite flavor - sweet, subtle, moisturizing and delicious. A great post dinner breath freshener and lip protector in one, this seasonal flavor is my favorite. 

Sweet and minty, this is another seasonal flavor I can't get enough of. Makes an awesome stocking stuffer.

Enjoy this moment of Pink Bliss

I found series of monochromatic images soothing. Here's a brief collection of favorites from the Pinterest board they live on Pink Things. Someday I am going to frame all of these and put them up on mall (sorry babe)

Gifting Etsy Art

I'm not going to lie, I have gotten way into art recently - possibly because I'm in full nesting mode, maybe because I was housebound for 4 months. Either way, I've learned from instagram stalking and other deep internet dives that some of the coolest artists out there right now have incredible etsy shops - where you can get prints and originals at steep discounts before they blow up.

Here's a selection of my favorites, that I am coveting HARD.

I'm obsessed with her punk rock lip prints and her dreamy water color palms. This talented artist has a great selection of animals (from buffalo to donkeys to camels) perfect for nurseries or people who just live their life filled with childlike wonder.

PRICE RANGE: $25 - 80

This up and coming mixed media artist has already been featured in some pretty prestigious designer events.  Her watery take on high-fashion photography looks like it was drawn in NARS cosmetics, in the best possible way.  The perfect gift for the fashion lover in your life. (Hint: Pick a picture that looks like her) If you see something you like snap it up fast, she only does limited runs of all her prints.

PRICE RANGE: $30 - 60 


What print would be complete without a frame? Here's my pick for ones I've ordered that look much more gorgeous and expensive than they actually are! 

Killing It

My favorite shirt - by Luciana, gifted to me by my BFF.

Obviously, wearing the words "killing it" across my chest has a double meaning for me. On the one hand, I am trying to embody the colloquial meaning of the phrase, which translates roughly to "winning" or "dominating" or some other phrase which denotes mastery of your personal universe. On the other hand, I also have this thing inside of me which I would like to be gone, "killed" if you will. Hence, the love of this shirt that exists on so many levels. It's also soft and paper thin and comfy as heck. 
Pair it with: Marble Phone Case | Standing Collar Leather Jacket | Rose Gold Frends Layla Headphones 

Black Tie

If you ever want to wear a dress that will melt people's faces off, well... This is the dress. I don't even know how to describe with words how much I love this dress. I do know that after seeing these pictures (and the fact that some of my bloody wound/scars were visible) I added on a bandeau bra but when I'm healed, who knows. Either way I decided not to shoot, because mother nature was like "Dena, you think you pretty? Watch this..." and proceeded to drop the mother of all sunsets on us while we attempted to shoot this look.

Here's what I love about this dress:

1) The tailoring. Oh god, a flatteringly cut dress is like a drug. It's addictive. Once you try it, you can't stop. All you want is to wear things that are flatteringly tailored all the time.

2) The mesh. Oh that mesh. Like natures photoshop blur. It's edgy, it's cool, it helps if you have hot flashes that make you sweat like a pig. Don't be fooled by the make-up kiddies - I'm so gross (and I'm not ashamed.)

3) The inherent fierceness. This dress is like a costume. You put it on and all of sudden you can't help but want to growl.

Solace London Inka Maxi Dress
Shown here with: Rebecca Minkoff Brie Pump (similar) Rayban Sunglasses

photos by AdSteve 

Treat Yo Self... To a Mask

I believe there is something healing and almost transcendental about the act of doing a face mask. It's almost like a physical manifestation of a meditation on self love. Taking just 20 minutes to "pamper" yourself is the ultimate declaration that you are dedicated to being kind and gentle to yourself.

I know, I sound crazy. It's just a face mask. But it's not - it's a way to show yourself that you love yourself, by doing something gentle and loving, that's just for you.

I once read an article about this idea of cream therapy. To whit - you pick a part of yourself that you have traditionally over-criticized or directed negative energy towards, and every single day you spend 20 minutes massaging cream into that body part. Over time, you learn to love it again, to see it as a beautiful and important part of yourself, and to stop directing negative feelings and energy towards your own body.

For me, that is my mask ritual. I do not do it to "fix" something that is wrong with me. I am not punishing myself for having pores. I am saying "Hi Face, you are my portal to the world. When I am happy you are happy. When I cry - you cry with me. Today, I am going to do something just for you."

With this in mind, my favorite masks are always FUN. Sure, they leave my skin smooth/dewey/glowing whatever, obviously efficacy is important to me. But it's not enough. My ultimate masks are more than just effective, they are a joyful, hilarious experience.

Because over-masking is a real problem, I always try to only keep two masks on hand. Right now I have two favorites. The Boscia Luminizing Black Mask, a peel off masks that leaves my skin tight and smooth, and harkens back to a time when peel off nail polish was my favorite thing in the world (will that ever come back??) Second on the list is the Egg Cream Sheet Mask from Too Cool for School, which leaves my skin plump and dewey, scares my husband when I wear it, and has packaging that just makes me smile every time I see it.

Holiday Party Dresses

So it begins, the season of "festive" dressing. Cocktail dresses, parties, weddings. Gatherings of the people we love. Photography by the buckets, like our own little taste of paparazzi. When it's good, it is so good. That feeling like "yasssss, my outfit is on point. NAILED IT." The gorgeous pictures with your favorite people that might even get printed and framed, if not at the very least the vaulted Facebook profile picture status.  I love talking about what people are going to wear to special events. It thrills me. Send me your RTR board. Send me links. Send me your pinterest board. Borrow anything you want from my closet (unless I'm wearing it!) It's what I imagine prom season would've been like if I had a big group of friends in high school. Coordinate, but not match. Everyone feels beautiful, and because of that, everyone is at their best/brightest/sparkliest. That is the power of dressing up.

I wore this dress to a wedding this weekend, but I'm pretty sure it will be on heavy rotation this holiday season. There is a shocking number of ways to switch it up. Hair down? Hair up? Switch out the nude (shaping) slip for a black one. Or, if I'm feeling incredibly bold, a skirt slip and bandeau top (maybe NYE?)

Bold choice for my first fashion post, post-surgery. I'll be honest, I bought and returned SO MANY dresses before landing on this one. Even as I ordered it I was a little scared of the mesh. I haven't worked out in months. I have wounds on my body that still have stitches in them. It's a hot mess under there. I can't remember what a crunch feels like. That said, this dress is surprisingly forgiving. The mesh acts like a real life "blur" feature. The pattern tricks the eye in just the right way. I decided to follow every magazine I've ever read and for the first time in my life, I got it altered, which in this case meant chopping off the sleeves at the elbow, and taking them in so they fit snuggly against my arms - a particularly svelte feature of mine.

You have my permission to be twins, although maybe text me if you think we are going to the same party? I will force you to take a picture with me. I don't mind twinning at all.