Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: November 2014

Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's That Time of Year Again - Holiday Shopping Time! Black Friday! Cyber Monday! OMG!!

Bookmark and Share

It's my annual Black Friday and Cyber Monday post - Yipeee!!  

This is my favorite time of the year to hate everything about the thing I love more than anything - shopping. The madness around Black Friday and Cyber Monday is completely absurd, so let's get lost in a little absurdity, shall we? 

Leyla's Closet Clean Out
Wanna buy my shoes?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday - two (2!) great posts this year! 
This year I decided to have a little fun and write TWO posts dedicated to holiday shopping deals. The first post (this one you're reading now) will be filled with some useful items you may actually want. And the second post, the one I will write and post tomorrow, will be absolutely ridiculous (kind of like the Cyber Monday - Get Your Zentai Suits NOW! post I wrote back in 2012). However, both posts will be filled with specials, offers, good deals, coupon codes, etc., oh, and affiliate links to advertisers. So feel free to make a purchase! 

Useful things to put on your Christmas list

Is it electronics you need this year? Whether it is accessories for your new iPhone, hair-care, clothes, or that thingy that you saw in that one random store when you were visiting Minneapolis, I found some good deals and some fun things too. AND... don't forget to check back tomorrow for my Cyber Monday post filled with absurd items.

1. Mini In The Box* is a virtual mall superstore (located some place in Asia, I think) and they're having a "Black Friday Crazy Sale" with a bunch of mobile phone accessories for Apple / iPhone devices. CyberMITB promo code will get you $4 off a purchase of $40 at Mini In The Box

iphone 5 cases
iPhone 5 Cases in a variety of colors

Watermelon monster Case for iPhone 6
I mean, where else can you get a watermelon case for your iPhone 6? 

2. if you're looking for pajamas, you'll find anything from Hello Kitty pajamas (for grown women), to footy pajamas (for the whole family) and even nice pajamas by brands like Cosabella. You can shop by size, color, price or brand AND use promo code GIFT10 to get $10 off when you spend $50. 

Women's Hello Kitty Pajamas
Hello Kitty PJs

3. has almost anything you would ever want or need related to beauty. If you, or someone you know, is like me, and they blow-dry and flat iron their hair, they probably need some nutrients or deep conditioners. My hairdresser is constantly selling me stuff that's super expensive because my hair is so dry... well, no more! This site has salon quality goods for less... and now, you can save even more -- 26% off and get free shipping when you shop at Why 26% and not 25% off, I can't say, I don't make the Black Friday deals, I just share them. 

Phyto Secret de Nuit
Phyto Secret de Nuit - hair treatment

4. AllSaints is great for those cutting-edge fashions you love. I am not really sure how to talk about "fashion" without making is sound silly, but I truly do love All Saints. They have great leather goods, including cute leather mini-skirts, funky party dresses and interesting tops you won't find elsewhere. AND you can save 20% Off ALL Styles! Code: THANKS. Offer Valid November 26th- December 1st when you Shop AllSaints.

Leather Mini Skirt Pleated
All Saints burgundy leather mini skirt

5. is a site that delivers a weekly email with interesting gifts and unique items you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. They pool items from smaller boutiques and shops across the country and curate a fun shopping experience. Use the code SPREADCHEER until midnight tonight (Sunday) and save 26%. There is that weird 26% again, what am I missing? Otherwise, you can 21% site wide + FREE shipping when you use promo Code: CHEER21 through December 3rd.

Love Grenade Coin Bank
Love Grenade
Cool Gifts for Everyone

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for post number 2! 

More Holiday Shopping Posts: 

p.s. don't forget to leave a comment... i get really sad when you don't.

Friday, November 28, 2014

What Am I Thankful For... The Day After Thanksgiving?

Bookmark and Share

"I Am Thankful" posts usually go live before Thanksgiving but I was busy. Most of all, I am thankful to you! 

I am writing my 'What am I thankful for' post tonight - or tomorrow - at 2:45 a.m. on the morning after Thanksgiving. Better late than never, but this means my Black Friday post will probably come on Saturday. 

I am thankful for delicious meals
Thanksgiving dinner at the Arsan household

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday 

Growing up quasi-Muslim in a Christian country means you don't really get to celebrate any holidays that mean anything to anyone other than your family and a handful of others. When I was little, my parents dismissed Christmas as a holiday where poor people went into deeper debt to buy things for people that didn't mean much to them in the first place. We did have a Christmas tree one year, and usually exchanged gifts on New Year's Eve, (which Turkish people do), but there was not meaning for Christmas to us.  

But Thanksgiving was different. When my parents were still married, they had lots of other Turkish friends with kids our age and we always celebrated Thanksgiving. I remember big parties with lots of food and lots of kids. We got dressed up and went to my friend Canan's house in Highland Park - I can see her fire place flickering in my mind's eye like it was yesterday. Her birthday was always around Thanksgiving and it was usually a double celebration with a birthday cake and gifts too - no football. I always felt like because we were immigrants it was important for us to celebrate Thanksgiving. Our Thanksgivings were always the best.  

I guess that was the prelude to what I am thankful for... maybe I needed to set it up a bit to give it some background. Now, let's get into what I am actually thankful for... 

This is what I am thankful for 

1. I am thankful for my beauty. It may sound vain but I am not sorry. I am eternally grateful for my looks, but beauty is more than looks. My looks do not define me and I did nothing to earn my looks, but I do choose to be beautiful. I eat well, I take care of my health, my skin, my teeth, my hair and my body. I also work hard to be knowledgeable, to be kind and to stay happy. Beauty, to me, is the whole, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

Leyla Arsan - Twitter Girl
My face - no makeup in a magnified mirror 
My eyes are a little bloodshot because this photo was taken in Vegas at 4:30 a.m.

Some people might be upset by the fact that I've listed my beauty as the number one thing that I am thankful for, well too bad. Everyone is always complaining about lack of confidence, and how the media causes women to have a poor self-image... well, here you have it, a woman who is perfectly happy with herself. If you have a problem with it, well, that's your problem. 

2. I am thankful for my family. I have a great family, small but great. My dad is awesome. My mom is probably the best mom who ever walked the earth. My brother's aren't half bad, in fact, the two of them together make one really good brother. I kid. I am very thankful for my loving family. 

my dad dancing at my brother's wedding
My dad dancing at my brother's wedding last weekend
This photo was created by Google auto-awesome, it's funny

3. I am thankful for my friends. I only have a handful of close friends, but I am very fortunate that I have so many good people around me who I can trust and rely on. My friends make me feel like the richest person on the planet. The only one missing from the photos you'll see below is my friend Traci (sorry Traci) - clearly, we need to take a vacation together. Hopefully some place warm! 

chicago represents at SXSW
SXSW with good friends!

Jennifer and Leyla at Great America
With Jen at Great America this past summer

nyc cab riding fools
With Monica and Greg in the back of a NYC cab
Heading to Koreatown for massages at 1AM

high school friends
My childhood friends
We reunite each summer when Merzi is in town

ChiGirlBrunch ladies
ChiGirlBrunch in Chicago
Great friends I made on the internet

bottle service in vegas
My exceptionally sexy friend Katie
Somehow scoring us a bottle of vodka in Vegas

monica samuels
Monica - my sista from another motha
She made me love her, I didn't wanna do it, no I didn't wanna do it

4. I am thankful for the amazing city that I call home - Chicago. It is so beautiful, I feel lucky all the time. I look out the window at work and I am shocked by how wonderfully magnificent this city looks at dusk. I love living here and I probably always will. 

evenings in chicago
Chicago skyline facing northeast

december in chicago
Chicago lakefront path facing south

Wrigley Building lit up
Wrigley Building at night 

5. I am thankful for my job. I love what I do for a living and for most of my life, I have been very fortunate when it came to work. I have always had a cool job, working for amazing clients and getting to do incredible things. Probably because I would not settle for anything less, but I am grateful and happy that I am able to do what I do. 

zeno group leyla arsan
My cube decorated by coworkers on my birthday

MTV Awards with Destiny's Child and Levis
Private event hosted by Levi's with Destiny's Child (Beyonce) 

four seasons private jet - dom perignon
Private event for Four Seasons with Dom Perignon

caldrea garden party
Private "Garden Party" for Caldrea 

There are so many more things I am thankful for... this post could go on for hours and hours, but a) I don't think you want to read that and b) if I don't get some sleep I am going to be in HUGE trouble tomorrow. 

Oh! But I forgot one thing that I am thankful for....
I am thankful for you. You, because you're reading this ridiculousness. Every week when I log onto my analytics and see how many thousands of people navigated onto these pages I am in shock. I am so incredibly thankful to have a forum where I get to express my thoughts and feelings and EVEN MORE thankful that people read it! I cannot believe people care about what I have to say. 

But I am most thankful that one of you (in particular) reads my posts. It's why I am probably still here writing this tonight. I am thankful to have you in my life, as limited as it may be, it makes me happy. 

Follow me places: 
Twitter @leyla_a

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Arthur Made Me Cry

Bookmark and Share

Not Arthur the Movie, but Arthur the Dog 

While reading about Arthur, the stray dog adopted by Swedish trekkers in the Amazon, I cried (like a little baby). 

Arthur Amazon Dog

It's a normal evening, like any other weeknight, I am on my couch eating gourmet licorice candy, drinking valerian root tea, watching Dancing With The Stars and reading the internets before bed. As I scroll past the maddening headlines on Facebook, I stop for a second and decide to click on a link I had noticed floating around earlier. It is a story about an extreme endurance team from Sweden and their unexpected canine companion.

The story starts with a couple of crazy Swedes getting into some shenanigans in the Amazon. I read on to find that they were competing in a 430-mile "extreme endurance" race - Adventure World Racing Champion. It appears that these cooky kids were on Day 4 or 5 of this absurd race, they were tired from all the hiking, biking, trekking and kayaking when a yellow dog approached their camp and started to beg for food. So they fed the little guy.

Arthur and Team Peak Peformance
Photo courtesy of Team Peak Performance

The yellow dog followed the Swedes, they felt sorry for the unkempt fella, so the Swedes continued to feed the dog whatever food they had left. He kept following, naturally. All this seems normal for a stray, but what's not normal is that this stray followed the Swedish endurance team for 20 more miles! 

At this point in the story, I was interested, I was engaged, I was touched... but I had not cried. I was yet to be moved to tears by this story of pain, suffering and the undying love an animal has for food. 

The team advances and reaches the river, they never expected yellow dog to follow along, and are now faced with a 36-mile kayak down the river and nightfall is closing in. The team tries to leave yellow dog behind, but as they push their kayaks off from the shore, yellow dog JUMPS into the river and paddles furiously to catch up - like any (dumb) dog with a big heart would. This is the point where my my eyes water up. 

One of the Swedes helps yellow dog into his kayak and goes against the advice of the race organizers who warned that kayaking with yellow dog could be dangerous. I think to myself, "How hard could it be to paddle down river?" Then the article quotes one of the Swedes, "It was not easy paddling with Arthur, he was shivering and I was shivering, but I had a Gore-tex jacket, so I put my Gore-tex jacket over him." Apparently, harder than I suspected. 

Despite the cold waters, yellow dog is happy. He doesn't realize that his new keepers are in some sort of a race! Yellow dog thinks this is a fun new game and occasionally jumps into the river to catch fish (dumb dog). The team must stop each time to retrieve yellow dog and get him back into the kayak. At this point, I am sobbing as I think about yellow dog shivering... and laughing as I think about yellow dog happily catching fish. I am also thinking, "There is no way this team stands a chance of 'winning' this extreme competition with some unruly yellow dog on their heels." He's kind of a burden, but he's so cute! 

Finish Line Swedish Team and Arthur

The team approaches the finish line, yellow dog looks as determined as they do. Look at the expression they've captured in this photo, as if he was meant to be on that trek with the team - maybe even more so. I'm completely crying at this point... and then I read that one of the Swedes decides to take Arthur home with him to Sweden and adopt him! I lose it. 

And the name? How did they come to name yellow dog Arthur? He was named after King Arthur - the legendary British leader fabled for his bravery and leadership. And... let the waterworks flow! 

Oh, and by the way... 
I think I also cried in the movie Arthur, one of my favorite movies. I like both versions of the movie Arthur - the original, with Dudley Moore, and the remake with Russell Brand. I watched the remake on a plane once and the guy next to me thought I was insane because I was laughing and sobbing simultaneously. So, I made him watch it too. It was an 11 hour flight, he had no choice but to do what I asked. 

Oh, and also...
All photos shot by Krister Goransson who happens to live in Sweden, he is a pike fisherman, he likes extreme sports, tattoos and Bad Religion. It's amazing what breadcrumbs people leave on the internet. Give me 10 more minutes and I'll be able to tell you where he had dinner last night. 

Read More Stories by Me: 

Follow Me Places: 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Digital TRENDS in 2015 - What's Your Take?

Bookmark and Share

Digital Trends Report Season is upon us. This is the time of year where every yahoo with a website gives their two cents on what will trend in the year to come.

This year, I'd like to be a yahoo too... except I prefer to use YOUR opinion versus my own. Share your take on what will trend in digital next year.

Thanks so much for your time! 

I'll be sure to publish the results, so check back. Or, follow me on Twitter @Leyla_a where I will certainly share the results.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween Weekend in Pictures... Thanks to Google Halloweenify!

Bookmark and Share

Halloween Weekend Story Best Told in Pictures

Friday night we went to Redmoon Theater's Halloween party - Boneshaker. Saturday night my friends had a costume party and I had to clown it up all over again! Keep scrolling down for the Halloweenify photos (they're awesome!)

Pierrot Costume

The Prettiest Clown in The Circus 

The inspiration for my costume came from a couple of places, everything pointed to clowns and I knew I had to be "the prettiest clown in the circus".  That is a quote from the David Bowie Is exhibit currently at the MCA, my friend Traci and I had turned it into a running joke. The clown theme from American Horror Story really drove it home, I knew I had to be a clown.

pierrot clown makeup

Pierrot - The Sad Clown

I went with a more traditional interpretation of Pierrot - the black and white "look" that most people commonly refer to as the "sad clown". I learned about Puddles, the sad clown with the golden voice this weekend too. I had to explain to others that Puddles and I were both taking inspiration from Pierrot.

What makes Pierrot sad? Well, the story is that he was in love with a girl named Columbine. There were happy times between the two of them, but then Columbine left Pierrot for Harlequin, which left Pierrot pining for her love. Pierrot, Columbine and Harlequin are characters with a history that dates back to the 16th century, they were characters from the Comedia dell'arte.

clown face
Leyla - the Not-So-Sad Clown

I see Pierrot as a romantic clown, and sadness can sometimes be a part of that. I don't like to think of my Halloween character as sad, I prefer to think of my costume's character as someone who is thoughtful and reflective of loves lost.

boneshaker party

Kissing a Monster

traci leyla halloween

Traci and Leyla
Redmoon Theater Boneshaker Party

halloween party decorations

Saturday at Ben and Nicole's Halloween Party

Some great costumes from Redmoon's Boneshaker party 
People always go above and beyond at this party, that is why I enjoy it as much as I do.

hellrasier pinhead

Pinhead Costume - Hellbound Hellraiser

clown costume

Another Great Costume from Boneshaker

Google Plus Halloween photo feature - Halloweenify! 
These photos were created by applying the "spookify" or the "fun effect" on G+ (the best one is at the end, so be sure to keep scrolling). You can see more photos from the photo feature here.

spooky skull hallowenify Google Plus

Halloweenify Traci

spooky leyla

halloweenify gif