Saturday, December 31, 2011

Taylor Armstrong Opens Up In New Memoir, "Hiding From Reality"

by Sarah Davis

Real Housewife of Beverly Hills' Taylor Armstrong is releasing a new memoir, Hiding From Reality: My Story of Love, Loss, and Finding the Courage Within, which will be released on Feb 7.  The tagline of the book is, "Not every fairy tale has a happy ending."  

In August, her husband, Russel Armstrong, committed suicide and not only were fans of the show stunned, the tragedy made headlines everywhere.  During the current season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, there is footage of their marriage during the time leading up to Russel's unexpected suicide which shows their relationship as bizarre, clearly on the rocks, and confusing to the rest of the cast. 

In this book, Taylor writes about the physical and emotional abuse she suffered from Russel during their six year marriage and as a child.  She opens up about her past with abuse and why she stayed in such an unhealthy marriage, noting low self esteem as one of the reasons.  According to a recent interview, Taylor was afraid to open up about the abuse prior to Russel's death because of how he would react.  She filed for divorce one month before his suicide.  

"My book takes readers behind the glamour of Beverly Hills to show them the terrible violence I suffered, and the slow and painful process of rebuilding my shattered life," explains Taylor in a statement released to People Magazine.  

While some would think her fans would be proud of her, there are already lot of strong negative reactions on her memoir; some fans are even angry that she is writing "false information" and "bragging about being an abuse victim." Rumors are circulating that her castmates are "disgusted" with her for writing this book so soon about such a sensitive subject for her & her daughter and making a profit from it.  

Also, she released the cover for this book (capturing Taylor in a victim-like pose with sad eyes) during the same week that fellow castmate Kyle Richards released her book, Life is Not a Reality Show.  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Artist Spotlight: Aunia Kahn

Artist Profile: Aunia Kahn 

How do you prepare for a painting?  Do you photograph a model or paint from life? Or, imagination?
My work is not painting although many people mistake it for that. My artwork is a mixture of photography, painting and collage, which is finalized on the computer. It depends on what I am doing what steps I take first. It is never set how I actually will take on the project until I have the idea, and I am ready to execute it and even then it sometimes changes. 

Has your work been displayed in any galleries in the US? 
My works has been shared in many of galleries in the USA, and a large handful internationally. I have shared my works I hundreds of exhibitions all across the world, and I have been very honored to have that ability and the wonderful opportunities to share my work. It’s wonderful.

Do you have any reoccurring themes in your paintings? Why?
 Each work has it’s own meaning for me, but I do see that some have reoccurring symbolism mostly when looking at a series of work I have done, that for me is very present.

Where are you from? Has your location influenced your painting?
 I am from Michigan, and I do not think the location of my birth has any effect on what I create. I never felt like that was home, so there is no connection there except it was from where I was birthed.

What has been your biggest inspiration?  Time periods, fashion designers, music, etc.
I am inspired by everything. I love reading and collecting books, most genres of music, the sky, heated debates, activism, causes, intense dreams, classical and vintage items, communication, the way a person breathes, anything can give me a spark of creativity — from the typical everyday stuff surrounding us, to the more prolific and unexplained. There is always something new that I come across that makes my head spin with ideas on how I would like to address “that” in my art, no matter personal or an outside influence.

Photos courtesy of artist

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fake Taylor Lautner People Magazine Cover Creates Controversy

A fake People Magazine cover circulated the Internet last week with a cover story that announced Taylor Lautner "Out & Proud."  The cover quotes Lautner as saying, "I'm more liberated, and happier than I've ever been."  

While the cover had a couple of clues to being fake, such as a photo of Brad Pitt on the sidebar originally from the May 2006 issue, it fooled fans and celebrities alike.  

Russel Simmons even tweeted, "proud of Taylor Lautner for his bravery and his courage." Hours later, he re-tweeted, "disappointed that people would joke about someone coming out about their sexuality.  Let Taylor Lautner be whoever he wants to be."

I just find it surprising that this cover created so much controversy.  Not only does it look real, but no one was truly shocked by the revealing "news".  People seemed more proud of Taylor for finally opening up then surprised their favorite Twilight star was apparently gay.  

People Magazine insists that the cover is "absolutely fake."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Violent Lips: Perfect For a New Years Eve Soiree?

This Christmas, Unplug & Relax!

by Sarah Davis
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As many of us are gearing up for holiday breaks from work or school, it's a good time to unplug from the things that cause chatter in our head and prepare for the New Year.  While unplugging (turning off your cell phone, avoiding internet, perhaps even television) is hard to do, it is a great gift you can give to your mind.  

Taking a break only works if you actually allow yourself to take a break, mentally.  I know that I sometimes like to do so much that I burn myself out.  For instance, I've been known to type emails on the treadmill at the gym on my iPhone and stay up all night working on my laptop and then wonder why I feel tired in the morning.  

There is a time to relax. No matter who you are, how many businesses you run, how much money you're worth, your mind and your body deserve breaks.  So, while you're celebrating Christmas with your fam this year, enjoy the time you have to relax.  Wear a comfy robe ALL day long, eat breakfast at noon, don't go to the gym for a couple of days, turn of your Blackberry, stick your iPad in your closet and enjoy Christmas! You don't need to always put pressure on yourself to do great things.  Pressure might create diamonds, but it's about to be 2012, you can be any type of rock you want to be.  All of them are beautiful, even pebbles.  So, relax and get a cup of Williams Sonoma hot cocoa and take a well deserved break.  

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Forbes Chooses "30 Under 30" For January Issue

by Sarah Davis

Forbes released their "30 Under 30" list, which will run in their January issue. The tagline that Forbes has come up with is, "Who, in short, under the age of 3o, matters?" This list is meant to point out young individuals who are changing the world, today. The top 3o people from a variety of categories, including food/wine, social/mobile & technology and law & policy.  

This list is very exciting this year, particularly since a 19 year old rapper from Pittsburgh, Mac Miller, managed to make it.  He is joining the ranks of Lady Gaga, who while causing plenty of controversy, is making a difference in today's youth and Pete Cashmore, who is the CEO and founder of the top tech blog, Mashable.  I continue to be surprised with the rising success of Mac Miller. 

Not to mention, how could we forget, Mark Zuckerburg made the list. Surprise, surprise.  How could he not when I'm sure the very first social networking site Forbes used to release the list was probably Facebook? The full list is available at  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Last Minute Gift Guide

If you are one of the people who either didn't have time to start shopping until this past weekend or you happened to procrastinate this year, Style & Wisdom has you covered with a Last Minute Gift Guide.  These are gifts that I'm sure anyone will love.

1. Buckyballs, $24.99, Brookstone 
(This is a "modern day stress ball" desk toy that is essential to anyone who owns a desk.)

2. Zoku Quick Pop Maker, $49.95, Williams Sonoma
(You can use any home ingredient to make your own popsicles and it only takes ten minutes to make 3.  This is a great gift for anyone who loves their kitchen or has a family with small children.)

3. Tocca Eau De Parfum in Colette, $68.00, Anthropologie
(I fell in love with this fragrance in Anthropologie.  I love scents from Anthropologie because they are unique and you don't have to go near the awful sales women at the Macy's fragrance counters.  This particular perfume reminds me of something a woman from Paris would wear.)

4. Urban Decay Naked Palette, $48.00, Sephora
(Kandee Johnson uses this palette from Urban Decay in almost every makeup video she does.  From what I've learned, this is a must have for anyone who loves makeup, or even just wears it occasionally.)

5. Butter London Nail Polish, $14.00, Ulta
(Butter London makes really vibrant colors of nail polish that are perfect for stocking stuffers.)

6. Illume Boulangerie Jar Candle in Vanilla & Fig, $16.00, Anthropologie
(Not only does this candle smell amazing, it is a clean burning candle, which is an added bonus.)

(When I saw these mixes in Williams Sonoma, I almost passed out.  Sprinkles makes my favorite cupcakes in the world, but they're only sold in select cities (not Pittsburgh). While this mix isn't exactly the real deal, it is a great gift idea.  They even come with their signature dots, to place on the center of a completed cupcake.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stutter Excerpt: Your Unhappiness Is Something That You're Choosing

by Sarah Davis

This is an excerpt from my book, Stutter, that I wanted to share today.  

What our time really comes down to is how we are approaching the things we go through psychologically.  Everything about your life is your choice.  You are choosing to be where are you right now and how you are looking at it is your choice, as well.  If you are attaching a negative thought with it, or thoughts of anxiety and pain, or if you are attaching a thought of comfort and happiness.  All of this is a psychological experience, controlled by you.  

Once you realize that you are in control of the way you experience life, you can live any life you want.  You can choose to live a life you imagine or you can choose to live a life that you don't like.  A life that you don't even want to be a part of. If this is where you're at right now, or something you feel occasionally, try to remember that you choose to feel these negative emotions.  Something inside of you is bringing up negative emotions when you experience whatever it is that hurts you.  

The good news is that you can choose happiness.  It's always there, you just have to get rid of whatever fear or internal memory that makes you think you shouldn't be opting for happiness. Advice from Gabby Bernstein that I love is that you have to realize what these problems are inside and then (and this is really important), you have to look at them with a lot of love.  You can't beat yourself up or feel sorry for yourself or feel ashamed, because when you were holding on to these internal problems, you didn't know any better.  Once you realize what it is that is making you choose negative thoughts in your life, you have done something major.  You've pinpointed an error in your system.  Now, you can fix it.  To fix it, simply forgive yourself and make small steps (or big if you can) to remember this when these negative thoughts pop up. 

Remember, your happiness is your choice.  Your quality of life is your choice.  If you experience thoughts of feeling trapped, depression, fear, or other strong emotions that aren't good, realize that you are capable of experiencing passionate emotions.  Just push them to the other end of the spectrum.  Start by thinking of good thoughts when you're feeling down, even if it is something as silly as a Youtube video about puppies.  Any small thought of happiness can actually begin to cancel out sadness.  

Daphne Guinness for MAC

Major fashion news: Daphne Guinness is teaming up with MAC Cosmetics to bring you a line of makeup she would wear. In case you are wondering who Daphne is, she is a world wide fashion icon and the heiress to the Guinness empire.  She's been known to wear outrageous heels and outfits that inspire Lady Gaga and now she's bringing us a line of makeup.  Um, yes please.  

A total fan of MAC herself, Guinness will launch the line on the day after Christmas.  While we are all excited, we won't be able to stuff our stockings with any of these daring shades.  We will, however, be able to show it off at New Years Eve parties.  

Photo Credit: MAC Cosmetics

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

When You're Feeling Like A Victim, Create Something

by Sarah Davis

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Walking away from losers can be fun (with the right shoes).
Are you feeling strong today? If not, read this.  Then, get out there and realize how strong you are.  I wrote this blog after some guy blew me off for dinner.  I hesitated about writing this because not only will this guy see this, but I am going to look like less of a role-model (or maybe, just a real person who learns lessons from everything.)  

Instead of pulling an Elle Woods (you know, watching soap operas in bed with a box of chocolates or following Elaric from the Vampire Diaries to law school), I sat down and wrote this.  Today, I found myself saying this prayer to God: "I want my life to blossom into a beautiful flower that other people cannot crush." And then I remembered this quote from a guy I interviewed this past year, Mastin Kipp, the founder of (no biggie), which is "you don't have to be a victim, you can create your own life." No one can crush you unless you let them.

Fucking things up is inevitable.  You're going to do it a lot.  However, you will not do this by being yourself.  "Fucking things up" by being yourself cannot happen.  The only way you can do this is by being afraid to be yourself or trying to hide who you are.  

1. When you stand up for yourself and people appear to fall away, this is actually a good thing.  The right people will stay by your side.  The wrong people will find another person to try to attack.  Friends aren't meant to just be anyone.  For example, if you are at a stage in your life where you want to settle down and start a family, chances are, you're going to have to pass up a lot of guys.  Take only the best and anything else, don't feel bad about asking them to leave your life.  

When you stand up for yourself and say no to things that you don't want to do, it's going to look like you're closing doors.  And you are, but you're doing it because there are TONS more that need to be opened.  

2. When you're feeling like a victim, create something.  I don't care what it is, you need to remember you're capable of creating stuff.  Anything.  Maybe just cook dinner. When you see this little thing that you can do, you begin to remember that you can create your life.  Anytime I'm feeling crushed (like when I go out of my way to buy a new pair of heels for a date and then I get blown off with no notice), I write.  Sometimes I write crap, sometimes I write really opinionated, angry stuff that people would criticize greatly and then sometimes I write the advice I need to hear. And then I'm sprung back into the life of a pro-blogger and I realize that I don't have time to be worrying about anything besides an interview with Sylvia Ji that's due by the next morning.  (True story, that's actually due tomorrow morning.)

3. Love yourself first, then love other people.  I don't mean to be selfish, I mean, stand by your decisions.  If you make a decision, remember what prompted you to make it and stick with it.  Be strong and trust yourself.  Remember that you know yourself better than any situations you're in, even panic-mode.  Never let anyone else make you feel like you can't handle any situation life throws you.

4. You have to welcome drama into your life for it to be there. If you're as obsessed with all of the recent vampire TV shows & movies as I am (hence, the reference earlier), you probably know that vampires have to be invited into human homes before entering. I can't help but relate this to drama. If you don't invite it in, chances are that it won't be there.

One of the best ways to avoid drama is to listen to your life a little more. We've all heard of the term, "red flags", right? Often times, I think we avoid this blaring signals that something will go wrong, either with a budding relationship or a new situation you're in, because we think we know more than our life does. In your current state, you only know anything because of your previous days on the earth. You've picked up clues on how to spot drama, I promise. If you can spot it, you need to say goodbye to this situation. It's a really simple equation, but we love to complicate things because of fear. We don't ever want to face reality because reality looks scary. But, seeing reality clearly will take away a lot of the confusion & pain. 

P.S. What will you create? I know I mentioned I write when I feel like shutting the world out, but I am going to start painting.  I once loved to draw and paint, but haven't done it in about five years! Comment below to tell me what you're going to do or you already do when life throws you lemons.  

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Nutcracker Opens For Another Magical Holiday Season at the Benedum Center

by Sarah Davis
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker opened on Friday night (December 2) and brought the audience to a standing ovation. Over 100 years old, The Nutcracker is one of the most popular, world-wide performed ballets originally from Russia, with music composed by Peter Tchaikovsky. The ballet didn't arrive in the United States until 1941, and it wasn't until George Balanchine adapted it in New York City in 1954, that it became the tradition that it is today. That being said, any performance of this famous production has very large (ballet) shoes to fill.

Last time I caught this show was in 2003 and to be honest, I found it to be unremarkable. Sure it's one of my favorite ballets, but I cannot seem to remember a single detail. With this year's performance, artistic director Terrence Orr brings dances and characters full of life and color. It's as though Act 1 has to be there, just to honor the history of the original ballet. We find Marie in her family's home in Shadyside (I always forget about the Pittsburgh adaptation). It isn't until she falls asleep, and enters The Land of Enchantment, that we get to see what the Nutcracker is all about. Act 2 is an explosion of color, energy, childhood memories, and the bursting talent in the cast of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

You get to see the legendary dances from the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Arabian Dance, The Spanish Dance, and the Chinese Dance. In my opinion, even though the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is the most iconic, the Arabian Dance was absolutely enchanting. The dancers were flawless, the music was dramatic and classic, and it was almost hypnotizing. It was my favorite of the night, even though I can't sway from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, because it's been my favorite since childhood.

There were magic tricks peppered throughout the performance. The backdrops were beautifully done, including a backdrop for the Land of Enchantment that was a mystical, historical,winter themed version of the Point where the 3 rivers meet, here in Pittsburgh.  During the intermission, photos are offered to be taken with the Sugar Plum Fairy.  

The Nutcracker is one of the most romantic holiday activites that triggers childhood nostalgia, which is why I thought it would be the perfect giveaway to thank my readers for sticking with me for my first full year of blogging on Style & Wisdom. (Special thanks to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.) To be entered in the contest: leave a comment below on why you love The Nutcracker or go like Style & Wisdom on Facebook. I'll draw a winner on December 6. The winner will receive two vouchers that can be used for any day this month! Good luck & happy holidays!

Hint: When leaving a comment below, let us know your email address so we can contact you if you win! 

Photo: Pittsburgh Post Gazette
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