friday favorites // norwegian wood, a novel by haruki murakami

norwegian wood

It was natural for me to be drawn to this book – Beatles song title + vintage printed cover. Just like the opening line of the song, “I once had a girl / Or should I say, she once had me,” is the premise of a serious boy who falls in love with an introspective girl and are both changed forever.

Once in a while I come across a book that gives me all the #feels. Insert: Norwegian Wood, a dark romantic coming-of-age novel. I felt it all: tragedy, hope, eroticism, laughs and love. Marukami is a master at introspective #mood. His words come easily, yet his thoughts are profoundly complex and ignite perspectives.

This novel touched my hearts in many places. It evoked memories of past loves, love lost and love found. I shared with the character’s feelings of unbearable sadness, sexual desires and thirst for love. It provoked thoughts that genuinely honest friendships are just as special as romantic relationships. Love comes in various forms of relationships in life. We all yearn for the sweet embrace of another. It’s the emotional connection, the human touch that we long for in relationships. The special relationships that Toru has formed with Naoko and Midori may both unorthodox, but make perfect sense. They’ve played a pivotal role in each other’s lives and changed it for the better.

Norwegian Wood is my gateway book to all things-Murakami.

I’m officially addicted and starting my quest to read all his novels.

Memorable Moments

Hurting someone you love. “No, we weren’t lovers, but in a way we had opened ourselves to each other even more deeply than lovers do. The thought caused me a good deal of grief. What a terrible thing is it to wound someone you really care for – and to do it so unconsciously.”

Being remembered. “I want you to remember me. Will you remember that I existed, and that I stood next to you here like this?”

Love leaving a mark. “I’ll never forget you. I could never forget you.”

“I never met a girl who thinks like you.”

Being vulnerable with love. “When you fall in love, the natural thing is to give yourself to it. That’s what I think. It’s just a form of sincerity.”

When love heals. “What happens to people when they open their hearts? They get better.”

Connecting with that special person. “I have left a wound inside you, it is not just your wound but mine as well.”

On trying to relate and understand another. “So what’s wrong if there happens to be one guy in the world who enjoys trying to understand you?”

On being a gentleman. “A gentleman is someone who does not what he wants to do, but what he should do.”

Don’t feel sorry. “Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Only assholes do that.”

Missing that special person. “I have a million things to talk to you about. All I want in this world is you. I want to see you and talk. I want the two of us to begin everything from the beginning.”

On reading. “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

Why some kids lack the tenacity to excel in life. “They can’t take it any further. And why not? Because they won’t put in the effort. Because they haven’t had the discipline pounded into them. They’ve been spoiled. They have just enough talent so they’ve been able to play things well without any effort and they’ve had people telling them how great they are from the time they’re little, so hard work looks stupid on them…The trick to teaching children like that is not to praise them too much. They’re so used to praise it doesn’t mean anything to them. You’ve got to dole it out wisely. And you can’t force anything on them. You have to let them choose for themselves. And you don’t let them rush ahead from one thing to the next: you make them stop and think. But that’s about it. If you do those things, you’ll get good results.”

Being busy. “I really couldn’t blame Midori for being mad. What with all the moving and fixing up and working for extra cash, I had never given her a second thought. Not even Naoko had crossed my mind the whole time. This was nothing new for me. Whenever I got involved in something, I shut out everything else.”

Being perfectly lonely. “Nobody likes being alone that much. I don’t go out of my way to make friends, that’s all. It just leads to disappointment.”

I can’t wait until I get my next Murakami fix. Any recommendations?

Pets // Who Rescued Who? One-Year Recap of Dog Adoption

Who Rescued Who? One-Year Recap of Dog Adoption //

Happy Adoption Anniversary, Bentley! Now, how old are you, REALLY?

Crazy to believe it’s already been over a year since we rescued our furkid through Wags and Walk’s pop-up event at The Grove. Read that post here. Wayne and I were both first-time dog owners and weren’t exactly sure what to expect, except that we both share the love of furry friends, wanted to adopt and were ready to be responsible dog owners.

Who Rescued Who? When we thought we were rescuing Bentley through adoption, it turns out it is he who rescued us.

Be social and meet new friends: Bentley has a social life worthy of a Kardashian (minus the drama + selfies). We are normally reserved individuals and keep to ourselves, but we are now more social with others in the community because Bentley insists on saying hello to every person and dog we pass by. He encouraged us to talk to other dog owners and (surprise!) we’ve met a handful of people that we genuinely like and hang out with.

He’s Just Like Us! Some say dogs take after their owners and Bentley’s personality mirrors ours. He’s calm, yet alluring. Friendly, yet selective. Brilliant and Behaved. Loyal and Lovable. Helps others and believes in the best in people. He’s the type of dog that if you tell once to not jump on the bed or couch, he won’t do it again. When the 6am alarm goes off, he quietly walks over and waits for us to wake up for his sunrise walk. There are times he’s already wide awake before 6am, just staring at us, waiting patiently for us to wake up.

#neighborhoodwatch: Bentley walks at least three miles a day—sunrise, afternoon and night. We’re more aware of our surroundings in the community and alert security if anything is out of the ordinary. We joke that we’re the unofficial neighborhood watch, but it’s true. We also appreciate the beautiful weather that Southern California offers. Love our city.

Patience + Trust + Faith: Bentley taught us about life and basic human interactions–patience, trust, faith. When we first got Bentley, he was reactive to other dogs and may have been traumatized. After weeks of reading about shelter dogs and YouTubing the Dog Whisperer dog-training videos, we implemented what we learned. But what worked most was having pure patience and truly trusting him. With time he realized we’re his home and won’t abandon him. Trust and Faith go hand in hand. In order to trust, you have to have faith he’ll do the right thing. In order to have faith, you have to trust in the unseen and let go. Not knowing what to expect he’d do without a watchful eye, the first week we crated him while we were at work. We soon realized this dog is special–he’s understanding, obedient and smart. We took that leap of faith, trusted in him  and let him roam freely around (without supervision!) Guess what, he didn’t destroy our home! To this day, he remains crate-free in our home.

Responsibility: Caring for Bentley is a big commitment. Beyond his 3-mile a day walks and feeding him on time, we brush his teeth + fur, wash him weekly, doctor visits, bake him healthy treats, plan our events and travels around his care and carve out time in our day to play fetch and have cuddle time. It’s because we want him to live a fulfilled and comfortable life. He’s our four-legged kid. Despite all the responsibilities that come with pet ownership, he also brings us immense joy.

Unconditional Love: No matter how long the workday is or challenges faced it’s always wonderful to come home to this delightful ball of fur. Just look at his smile and expressive eyes. He is always happy to see us and I’m surprised his tail hasn’t fallen off from wagging it so furiously. He always runs to us when we come through the door, follows us around from room to room, falls asleep everywhere wherever we are, waits patiently as we cook in the kitchen, senses our emotions and pleases in every way he can.

Bentley’s Purpose in Life: We’re convinced his purpose in life is to be a therapy dog and volunteer at children’s hospitals and convalescent homes. His has a calming demeanor, smart, uses his barks wisely and brings joy to all those who meet him.

He captured our hearts.

We’ve been truly lucky to have met this gentle creature through adoption. Much like humans, every animal has a story and just wants to love and be loved. Although we don’t know Bentley’s history, how old he is (vet thinks he’s six) or what he’s been through, we love him. What’s the secret? To have faith, patience, good intention, love and trust on your side.

It was love at first sight. We followed our hearts to want to save this pup and turns out he’s the one that saved us.

Cheers to many more years of learning, living and loving.

About Wags & Walks

Wags and Walks is a non-profit animal rescue organization based in Los Angeles. We’ve gotten to know founder, Lesley, and her team, and Wags and Walk is a wonderful organization serving with a purpose. Lesley’s passion for animals is undeniable and as a daughter of a vet, she left a comfortable, successful career to start this organization because so many animals are euthanized due to overpopulation in the shelters. Their mission and core values: choosing good, family-friendly dogs based on temperament rather than breed. Get involved. Adopt, foster, or donate. Together we can change the world, one dog at a time…

Who Rescued Who? One-Year Recap of Dog Adoption //

meet lesley + bentley

Who Rescued Who? One-Year Recap of Dog Adoption //

Who Rescued Who? One-Year Recap of Dog Adoption //

Who Rescued Who? One-Year Recap of Dog Adoption //

Who Rescued Who? One-Year Recap of Dog Adoption //

Who Rescued Who? One-Year Recap of Dog Adoption //

Who Rescued Who? One-Year Recap of Dog Adoption //

Who Rescued Who? One-Year Recap of Dog Adoption //

Thank You for My Every Day

Thank You for My Every Day //

Yosemite // July 2015

Thank you for my Every Day.

Thank you for my first breath this morning.

Thank you for giving me my two legs to do the things that I love.

As easy as it is to get caught up in the busyness of life and its demands, I always start out my day with this daily prayer. It’s my breath of fresh air. My morning coffee. My Me Time.

It not only calms my heart, opens my mind and sets my day for what lies ahead, but a constant reminder of the fragility of life. It’s being thankful for the simple daily pleasures as waking up to another beautiful day, loving and being loved and physically able to live life.

The Lord has truly blessed me with an eventful 2015 year filled with new adventures, new loves, new friendships, new happiness, new chances and new challenges. It is He who gives me the strength, the power, the courage to push myself beyond my limits.

Thank You, Lord, for my Every Day.

Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2015

summer + smiles + sunblock

I love everything about the summer. Living in California the weather is always perfect. Summer is the season to enjoy the outdoors with a picturesque hike or hit the cool waters at the beach and pool. However being out in the sun has its responsibilities. I’m an avid believer and user in using a broad spectrum (UVA + UVB) sun protection of at least SPF 30 for my face and SPF 45 for my body.

So naturally as a lover of Sephora + SPF I always buy Sephora’s annual Sun Safety Kit. It’s a curated collection of everything SPF to protect from head to toe. This is a perfect introduction to try various products carried at Sephora, like tinted sunscreen, primer, self-tanner, BB cream and serums. It’s also a wonderful way to try different types of sunblock products–physical (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide) and chemical-based (oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate) sunscreens. The sizes are perfect–airplane-friendly and compact enough to place in my purse.

I picked up the Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2015 at Sephora and it is packed with favorite oldies and new products I look forward to trying. This year it’s $32 (retail value $155) for 16 products.

SSK-2 Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2015

Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2015 Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2015

Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2015

Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2015

Sephora Sun Safety Kit 2015


Full Product List

AmorePacific Natural Protector SPF 30/PA+++ –

Clarins Sunscreen Multi-Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 50 –

CLINIQUE Moisture Surge CC Cream Hydrating Colour Corrector Broad Spectrum SPF 30 –

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Dark Spot Sun Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 –

Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 –

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 –

Murad Invisiblur™ Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30 –

Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 –

Korres Suncare Yoghurt Nourishing Fluid Veil Face Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 –

Ole Henriksen Total Truth™ Vitamin C Eye Crème SPF 15 –

Origins VitaZing™ SPF 15 Energy-Boosting Moisturizer with Mangosteen –

Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense® Lotion with SPF 30 –

Shiseido Wetforce Ultimate Sun Protection Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ For Face –

St.Tropez One Night Only Wash Off Face & Body Lotion – couldn’t find the Sephora link

Supergoop! SPF 30+ City Sunscreen Serum With Uniprotect PT-3 –!%20SPF%2030%2B%20City%20Sunscreen%20Serum%20With%20Uniprotect%20PT-3%20P282915&skuId=1328707&_requestid=70180

Vita Liberata Neroli & Argan Milk Broad Spectrum SPF 50 –


Don’t waste your money on buying anything beyond SPF 45 because it doesn’t provide any better protection beyond 45.

Regardless of seasons or a cloudy day, it’s always important to protect your skin by wearing SPF everyday, especially on the face. I always wear at least SPF 30 on my face, neck and chest area.

Reviews to come as I try them all.

Day 10 // Meditate for 1 Minute | Birchbox Challenge

Day 10 // Meditate for One Minute #BirchboxChallenge via It's Jou Life blog -

Sunrise up in the Alishan, Taiwan mountains

I’ve recently started setting my alarm clock at 11pm every night and been waking up more energized and ready to start my day (thanks to Day 16 #BirchboxChallenge)! I’ve been having quaint mornings of “me” time and among other things, I meditate for one minute. It helps reduce stress, clear my mind and calm my heart. I sit up straight, rest my palms in my lap, close my eyes, and pay attention to my inhales and exhales for 60 seconds.
The below tips to reap the full benefits of a one-minute meditation practice is taken from Birchbox and Tara Stiles, Strala Yoga founder and author of Make Your Own Rules DietI’m definitely guilty of getting lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life–rushing out of the house to get to an appointment, not taking enough walking breaks at work and Instagramming during dinner. Even taking just one minute to meditate gives me a jumpstart to a more productive and brighter day.

Get Comfortable

Set a time for one minute using your smartphone. Choose a place in your home where you won’t be disturbed, and arrange yourself in a comfortable seated position. If you are in a chair, place your feet on the ground evenly. If you are on the floor, try crossing your legs or sitting on your heels. Sit up straight and rest your palms in your lap. Close your eyes and begin to pay attention to your breath.

Focus on Your Breath

Watch your inhales and exhales as they come and go. Allow yourself to become interested in the depth and pace of your breathing. Begin to lengthen your inhales and exhales. If it feels comfortable, pause at the top of your inhale and at the bottom of your exhale.

Guide Your Thoughs

Relax your whole body, including your face, neck, shoulders, back, legs and feet. If you notice your thoughts starting to drift, guide your attention back to your breath.

Finish Strong

When the timer goes off, don’t just pop out of your practice. Continue to breathe for 10 more long, deep breaths. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes.

About the Birchbox Challenge

Birchbox teamed up with a panel of all-star experts to bring a 31-day challenge to make 2015 your healthiest, happiest, most gorgeous year ever. I’m joining Birchbox on this month-long challenge and will share my success with #BirchboxChallenge. Let’s do this together!

Day 9 // Get Sculpted in 6 Minutes | Birchbox Challenge

I’m a lover of High Intensity Training (HIT) classes. The pattern usually is 30-seconds of intense cardio/strength moves that get quickly gets the heart rate up, followed by 20-seconds of rest. The Day 9 Challenge is something a little different.

Day 9 Birchbox Challenge “Get Sculpted in 6 Minutes” is created by celebrity trainer Ashley Borden. She swears by crazy effective workouts that can be done in a short amount of time, with minimal equipment. She uses the AMRAP technique ( “as many reps as possible”), which works muscles nonstop to condition your entire body, increase your metabolic rate, and burn a ton of calories. Her Sexy Six workout is just six moves and six minutes long but will leave you breathless and sweaty. Once you learn the workout, repeat it multiple times a week, focusing on your form and adding time as you get stronger.

Set a timer for 6 minutes. Do the 6 moves below, in order. Repeat the order as fast as you can, while maintaining your form, until time’s up. Keep track of how many times you got through the entire workout at the end, and beat that at your next workout!

See the moves here on Day 9 Birchbox Challenge.

About the Birchbox Challenge

Birchbox teamed up with a panel of all-star experts to bring a 31-day challenge to make 2015 your healthiest, happiest, most gorgeous year ever. I’m joining Birchbox on this month-long challenge and will share my success with #BirchboxChallenge. Let’s do this together!

{ bargain } Free Museum Admission Nationwide

Free museum admission first wknd of every month via It's Jou Life blog -

Photos by Wayne // The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Free museum admission first wknd of every month via It's Jou Life blog -

Beautiful outdoor space // The MET, New York

Museum lovers listen up!
As part of Bank of America’s Museums on Us program, the first full weekend of every month (this weekend!) Bank of America or Merrill Lynch cardholders get FREE general admission at 150 participating museums, science centers, botanical gardens and more nationwide! It includes places like LAMCA, The San Diego Museum of Art, de Young Museum in Los Angeles; The MET and MOMA (!) in New York and so many more! All you need is a photo ID and your Bank of America card or Merrill Lynch card.

If you’re curious, there are also other museums on the list nationwide – You can sign up for email and text alerts and they’ll send reminders before the qualifying weekend.

Let the adventures begin!

Free museum admission first wknd of every month via It's Jou Life blog - museum admission first wknd of every month via It's Jou Life blog - museum admission first wknd of every month via It's Jou Life blog - museum admission first wknd of every month via It's Jou Life blog -