reminders and reality checks.

you know something i realized last night? that there's nothing like a missed opportunity to really make you get your entire f**king life together. not that my life is in shambles (far from it), but i have a few bad habits that, from time to time, get in the way of my being successful. i was scrolling through the stories on my IG feed and saw a first look at a campaign that i got approached for—and subsequently took forever to respond to. long story short: your boy didn't get the part. it was like a slap in the face seeing it come to life (without me, and with so many other great guys involved), but a humbling, educational slap. we'll call it a love tap, haha.

naturally, i took to twitter, my personal sounding board, to release a bit of the disappointment and keep it moving, and a friend of mine replied to my tweet with the below:

firstly, it's amazing to have people in your life who remind you that there's always better ahead. secondly, she's so right, and that's exciting. there's more ahead, and i just have to keep doing my thing, except a little better—which is totally in my control. the whole thing really reminded me just how badly i want it (it, meaning everything that i've spent these past 7 years grinding for). don't you love moments like that?

the shack: movie review and a talk about faith.

Let me start by saying that I know blogging about God and religion is taboo nowadays, but, frankly, I’m not concerned with that. Over the past two years, my faith has really been transformed, and it’s never been something I’ve been afraid to speak about openly—as some of you know from my old bible study posts on Tumblr. With all that said, consider this a [disclaimer] for those of you easily offended by Christianity.

I just finished watching The Shack, a new film based on the NYT-best-selling book of the same name, and I’ve never cried so many times in one movie. It was such a beautiful experience that I couldn’t help but share my thoughts about it. I watched the trailer earlier this year (you can find it below) and was instantly excited as I recalled all of the amazing things my mother told me about the novel. I knew I’d see it as soon as it came out and I’m so happy I did. It’s not very often that films of this nature get major releases or feature stars like Octavia Spencer who can help bring it to the forefront, so it was amazing to sit in a theater as a proud Christian and watch a film that speaks to the things that I’ve chosen to build my life on.

The plot centers around a grieving father as he struggles to move on from the terrible loss of his baby girl. After receiving a letter from God, he returns to the place where his life paused and has a life-changing encounter with Papa, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We get to watch as he comes to grips with his past and his own humanity, as well as the power, wisdom and mighty love of God. This beautifully written tale speaks to some of the most important principles of Christian life—principles that can be easily forgotten in the midst of hardships and can sometimes be rarely seen in those who call themselves followers of God. I sat in my seat with flashback feelings from the day that I first accepted Jesus as my savior, like consciously and on my own terms. And as I reflect on some big steps that I’ve made in my life to get closer to Him this past year, the film made even more of an impact. I promise you, if you see past mere religion and truly consider yourself to have a faith-based [relationship] with God, you will be happy you saw it.

Writing this post is really important to me, especially given where I’m at in my journey and a few things I’ve seen around me these past few months. I've sat in my office and listened to people talk about and ostracize "crazy Christians" and how people are so strange for having things like “Jesus lover” in their bios, yet praise people who do far crazier things across their social media platforms and in their daily lives. Somewhere along the lines, the word Christian got lost in translation and became something else. Something freakish. Something inappropriate. And the timing is funny, because I’m honestly at a point where I’ve never felt more alive or more excited to live the life God’s created for me. I challenge anyone who doesn’t know much about Christianity or is turned off by the public perception popular culture has assigned us to watch this film. Not so you can become "a mindless Jesus Freak" too, but just so you can get a glimpse of what our faith—not our religion—is really all about. It’s a beautiful thing. Thanks for reading. -J

i was. i am. i always will be.

home improvement: museum vibes, courtesy of the met store.

last year, i set a goal to transform my apartment into a cool place to live, one that really fit who i am right now. i mean, it can get discouraging when you're a twenty-something with a big vision, but a limited budget; but, trust me, you don't have to wait until you're living "the life" to start stepping up your space. after a couple of trips to ikea and some creative repurposing of a few things lying around, i'm really in love with my spot. heading into 2017, i kept at it by adding a few new pieces of art here and there for an extra touch of culture. check it out. -j

people really sleep on the gift shops at places like the met and other cultural hotspots around the city. a lot of them sell extremely affordable versions of some of history's greatest works. case in point: these prints from the met breuer. think about it: if they look just as good, who really cares if it's an original? i sure don't. with that said, i went with prints from four totally different artists for a sweet variety, threw them in some clean, simple frames, and set them up around my place. keep scrolling for a closer look.

Kerry James Marshall: Mastry

Mark Rothko: No. 13 (White, Red on Yellow); Jackson Pollock: Number 28.

David Hockney: Mount Fuji and Flowers.

check out the met store to find the perfect prints for your place. ✌️

grooming round-up: anthony logistics.

okay, so we're a few weeks into 2017 and i've had the chance to try out some of the new year grooming products i showed you guys a couple of days ago. i said i'd keep you guys posted on what's worth trying (and what's not...), so let's get to it. first brand up: anthony.

anthony exfoliating and cleansing bar.

the experience

  • personally, i like soap bars because they usually give a pretty solid lather that'll last from head to toe; however, this one let up once i got to the knees, haha. it's still a good bar though, and one that you can use safely on your face and body.
  • as far as the smell, there's an interesting scent as you're using it—wouldn't say it's bad, wouldn't say i loved it either—but it disappears completely once you rinse off, which can be great when it comes to fragrances (allowing you to rock your signature cologne without any other competing smells beyond your personal body chemistry).
  • lastly, it leaves you with one of those squeaky clean feelings when you rub your hands across your skin. definitely a nice feeling to have after a tough workout or a long day running through the city. 

my verdict: try it out.

anthony glycolic exfoliating and resurfacing wipes.

the experience

  • so with this one, you're using a two-sided facial wipe to exfoliate dead skin cells and minimize your pores. the scratchy textured side is fine, almost nice even, but it gets so much better once you flip it and hit that smooth side. it feels like a little cloud massaging your skin, haha.
  • it's been about thirty minutes since i last used one and my face still feels really nice, so i guess it's safe to say that they work.
  • now that i've gotten all the good points aside... the biggest thing for me was the smell, which i wasn't a fan of. i mean, it's the expected chemical odor, which i could deal with if it were temporary, but it's not. i can still smell traces of it, even after applying my moisturizer. unless you use a strong scented facial cream or beard oil, you better be sure you like the scent before you try this one.

the verdict: pass.

a fresh start to 2017.

i'm happy to say that, so far, 2017's been pretty sweet. things are looking bright in all directions, and i've been making a few changes over the past few days—starting with my grooming routine. i copped a few new products from some cool brands you may have heard of (if not, don't worry you'll be familiar by the end of this post).

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keep scrolling to learn more about the products above, and stay tuned in the weeks ahead—i'll give you guys some mini-reviews to let you know what's worth trying out next time you're shopping. here's to a fresh start to the new year. -j

who: anthony
what: exfoliating and cleansing bar, glycolic exfoliating and resurfacing wipes
why: the ultimate clean

who: blind barber
what: lemongrass tea shampoo and conditioner
why: every guy's head needs a strong 1-2 combo

who: elemis
what: cleanser, anti-aging and sensitive skin collections
why: it's a facelift and a day at the spa in a bottle (well, 7... haha)

a day to sleep in.

yesterday was non-stop. i woke up at 8:00 (yeah, on a saturday, i know...). shot 2 campaigns (7 looks) in the pseudo-blizzard that randomly hit nyc. cleaned my entire apartment. trekked through the snow to drop off some samples in williamsburg. surfed the subway over to the LES for a birthday thing, then met with friends over meatballs and wine. i eventually arrived back in my bed around 130.

having done all that... i think i earned a morning to press the snooze button and catch up on some reading. i hope everyone's been having an awesome weekend. find some time to rest and recharge before that weekly hustle begins again. -j

festive feels in brooklyn.

alright, people... thanksgiving is over, december's here, and it's time to get festive. now that we're in peak holiday season, i finally pulled out the christmas decorations i bought at target a few weeks ago. i live in a cozy little 1br, so i don't have to do too much each year to get in the spirit; however, i did decide to throw out my old decor and bring some new items into play. check out the three simple, easy, and super affordable decor tweaks i went with to help celebrate the weeks ahead.

the holiday squad

so… i used to have these four straw animals that (for some reason…) all of my friends thought were so strange. given their amazing constructive criticism, i thought these guys were way cooler—and stylish as hell, too. check out their little outfits! they were no-brainers, obviously. the best part: each of them was only $3. 👍

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*bonus point: holiday candles are a must. this snuggly sweater scent is perfect for this time of year.

4ct dressed character animal christmas ornament set - wondershop™

the furry woodland critters

whenever i’m browsing the home section at target, i always try to think beyond one holiday or moment and look at what could work seasonally. like the fashion-forward crew above, these little critters are small statements that will last well through the winter ahead. i gave them a home on my fragrance bar—looks like they’re liking the new digs. i don't recall the exact price of these boys, but i want to say they were no more than $4 each.

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woodland holiday figurines, available in-store only.

the tree.

what’s christmastime without a tree, right? i bought this little guy a few years ago and it’s the perfect size—big enough to make a statement, but small enough to stow in my closet until next year. last time, i used little dinosaurs as my ornaments (click here to see), but i thought i’d take a more classic approach this time around. these handcrafted mini ornaments were a total steal at just $3. you can call that a bargain.

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high fashion nights with bombay sapphire.

last night, i spent the evening with bombay sapphire gin, gq, and ryan clark of high fashion living for a special cocktail event at 214 lafayette in soho. the brands treated us to some awesome dishes and a non-stop flow of drinks—all prepared by schuyler hunton, the 2016 winner of the most imaginative bartender competition.

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to be honest, i'm not really a fan of gin, so i when i realized it was the spirit of the evening, i expected it to be a sober night. i was wrong. i don't know if bombay is just in another lane or if schuyler's secretly a mixology magician, but i started with this spicy pepper-infused potion of sorts and finished five signature drinks later. the experience actually changed my perspective on gin altogether.

friends, camera crews, and cool little cocktail glasses (i got the piggy—named him donald) were on deck throughout the night, and if you've ever been to 214 lafayette, you'll know it's an amazingly luxe location, making the experience feel totally next-level. check out some more photos from the event below. -j

good food + good drinks + good company = a great night.

the scents of fall.

for those of you who haven't known me very long, my first job out of college was on the fragrances buying team at macys.com. it really changed the way I've come to appreciate smell—next to taste, it's the sense best-suited for luxury pleasures. 

since those days, I've built up quite the fragrance collection (I probably have at least 40 different scents in my apartment). with fall finally here, it's time for that new season switch-up, and I sifted through my bottles to pick out my go-to's for the months ahead. check them out.

when it comes to fall/winter fragrances, I always keep a few things in mind:

  • during the summer months, the heat can make stronger scents feel heavy and nauseating. now that it's cooler, your fragrance can bring a sense of warmth to the crisper air that you'll enjoy throughout the day. with that said, eau de parfums are often my choice, as they're more robust and last longer.
  • think about what the season's all about. fall brings about visions of falling leaves and walks in the park. winter reminds us of pine trees, cinnamon, mint, even chocolate and vanilla. as you go through the next six months, look for woodsy notes or essences of seasonal fruits and spices that will give your scent a timely feel.

the 3 fragrances above give all that and more. they're deep and sensual, boasting earthy, masculine notes like tobacco, patchouli, tonka bean, and sandalwood. whatever you like, whether it's sweet, spicy or citrusy, stick with your preferences, but look for an "intense" or "extreme" version of your faves—they're usually the eau de parfum or parfum versions, which means they're stronger and great for the colder months.

it doesn't stop with your cologne. my apartment's currently filled with fall vibes thanks to a few select candles—and no, you don't have to ball out on jo malone to set the perfect ambiance.

whether you're a fan of entertaining or just plan on chilling at the crib this season, your home should always smell good. always. and FYI: this tip is honestly for you more than your guests.

I got these candles from target last week and, with one in my living room and the other in my bedroom, they've had my nostrils in heaven ever since.