She Ready


Imagine this for a moment:

It’s Friday. You just got paid and you’ve splurged on a brand new pair of leggings. You’re at a dinner party with all your friends and your new boyfriend (who can’t quite seem to commit but he’ll get there, right? RIGHT?) is here too. But tonight’s all about catching up with the girls. God they’re really all moving on with their lives, you think as you smile and sip rosé.

You say hi to your one friend who brought her newborn. “Here, hold her!” she says. “Oh no, that’s okay,” you laugh, terrified you’ll drop her sweet, bald daughter. “Here, just for a second, so I can adjust this goddamn bra. Look, she loves you already!” she says, thrusting the baby into your arms. You stare at the baby. She blinks back at you. And suddenly, something inside you settles. This could be you. You could be a Mom. Look how good I look holding a baby, you think. You look around for your man, to no avail. I wish someone could take a picture so he could see what a hot mom I’d be.

At JCPenney Portraits, we have just what you need.

Our newest service, She Ready, provides candid-style photos to help you get on with your life. All you have to do is come to any one of our nationwide studios looking your best. We’ll provide you with a baby and photograph you against a variety of backdrops that answer one question: What kind of Hot Mom will you be?

JCPenney Portraits’ newest service, She Ready, provides candid-style photos to help you get on with your life. What kind of Hot Mom will you be?

Maybe you’d like to be seen holding a baby on a picnic blanket in the park, wearing your best sundress; maybe you’d like to be in front of a Christmas tree with the soft glow of twinkle lights; maybe you’re dressed as an astronaut, with a baby in one hand and a sign saying “Anything’s Possible!” in another.

Our finest work lies in the details, with a soft focus on the things that make you you: That ombre manicure, the perfect winged eyeliner, or perhaps, the look in your eyes as you contemplate the future: Anticipation? Hope? Terror? Whatever it is, we’ll capture it. You tell us what kind of mom you want your significant other to see you as and we’ll handle the rest.

(We’ll even make sure your photos are perfectly sized for posting on social media, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or your recently renewed Tinder profile.)

At JCPenney Portraits, we’re here for life’s big moments. Let the world see how good you look holding a baby. And get one step closer to your own.

Disclaimer: These United Scrapes receives compensation every time a reader buys an imagined, yet necessary, product or service featured on this site.


Humpday Haiku #3

A modern-day reverie

Stare out the window
dreaming of being more…Oh!
My Seamless is here.

Humpday Haiku #2

The most outrageous coffee order

One hot coffee, please
Regular milk and sugar
With my name spelled right.


August 5, 2019 | New York, NY

“How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.” – Oscar Wilde

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Gordon Ramsay never wanted to give the world another travel show it didn’t need. He didn’t want to roam around a random beach with a machete or pretend to be happy climbing trees while picking fruit off them or say things like “Onto my next adventure” while cooking on some rocks.

He wasn’t supposed to have a career defined by glorified bullying. It’s just that early on, a producer saw him lose his temper and said, “Gordon, you’ve really got that je ne sais quoi,” and Gordon Ramsay just went with it, y’know? Because when you’re young and trying to make something of yourself, sometimes you just have to Go With It and see where It takes you.

And look where It took him – straight to The Food Network. To Hell’s Kitchen and The F Word and Hotel Hell and Kitchen Nightmares. The stuff of dreams. Except, it wasn’t his dream to be the Angry Blonde (Male) Chef. He just wanted to be…himself: Actually Quite a Softie.

It wasn’t Gordon Ramsay’s dream to be the Angry Blonde (Male) Chef. He just wanted to be…himself: Actually Quite a Softie.

So the networks pitched him a new show, Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted and once again, no one asked him, “Gordon, in your heart of hearts, what do you want?”

Because if someone had asked him, he’d have told them what he wanted: Muffins.

A TV show all about muffins. Not the flat English kind, but the over-the-top American ones. “How beau-ti-fully comforting and complex they are all at once,” Gordon said somberly over a video call, “A warm, crumbly muffin with a small pat of butter, is there anything more perfect?”

Muffins, it turns out, are an unexplored landscape. Do people today know what constitutes a good muffin? How do you get the perfect round cup shape on top? What are the best muffin-jam duos? What kind of muffins do you serve your friends the morning after a raging game night, or your judgy mother-in-law who’s visiting from out of town? What are the best kinds of muffins to stuff in your backpack for when you’re hungry later? Which teas best compliment a nut muffin?

These are all questions, we as a society, haven’t answered yet. And people deserve to know.

“How beau-ti-fully comforting and complex muffins are all at once. A warm, crumbly muffin with a small pat of butter, is there anything more perfect?”

Because, as Gordon explains, muffins aren’t just a morning (or afternoon or evening) snack. They’re nuggets of unclaimed identity. Are you an apple muffin sort of gal? A traditionalist who goes for blueberry? Or do you charter your own course and only eat spud muffins?

He’d help us all figure out who we were through the simple, delightful lens of pastry. There’d be no fierce competition, no harsh critiques, just lots of…fun. We’d discover new possibilities along the way. Maybe there’d be an episode on brownie muffins for dessert, and another one on swapping boring weeknight dinners for garlic onion muffins.

It was going to be great. People would be obsessed. They’d tune into the virtual muffin basket that was Gordon Ramsay’s Muffins and laugh and be awed by the wondrous world of muffins with him. They’d be like, ‘Man, that Gordon, I really misjudged him.”

“It would’ve been better than the time I won my sixteenth Michelin star,” he said, salting a batch of muffins with tears.

For now, Gordon Ramsay’s riding off into the Moroccan (or Peruvian or Hawaiian) sunset. We’ll never really know the rest.

Humpday Haiku #1

Progression of wearing a bodysuit for the 1st time

Look how smooth I am!
Endless wedgie. Cannot drink.
Back to Gap t-shirts.

Sundays with Kamala

July 21, 2019 | New York, NY

The only way, it seems, to make sense of anything these days is to accept the fact that nothing will ever really make 100% sense anymore. Things will always be just a little bit nuts. Human impact has made the Earth begin to wobble on its axis and in turn, we, too, are starting to act off-kilter.

It’s in times like these that we need people with conviction to lead us. People who’ll be the Trader Joe’s employees of our life paths, waving a bright green flag at the end of the line and telling us, “Here’s where you must stand! Here’s how you move forward.”

So today, we have Kamala Harris – senator, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and Joyful Warrior – here to tell us how she uses Sundays to keep her life on track. Kamala’s got it down.


Sunday morning, 6:00 AM: I open my eyes.

6:05 AM: I check in with myself. Life’s been dizzying lately. Need to think about who I am and who I aim to be. Am I a woman who collects lace Chuck Taylors? Yes. Am I a future president? Yes, if I have anything to say about it (and I do). Am I a writer? No, no, can’t go through that again. “The Truths We Hold” was hard enough.

6:07 AM: What was I thinking with that title? You can’t hold a truth. It’s not, like, a melon. It’s intangible. God, the one time I’m not literal.

6:08 AM: Truths, truths, truths…words sound funny when you say them over & over.

6:09 AM: Is this the real life, Kamala? Or is this just fantasy?

6:10 AM: Oh morning, Freddie. There’s a voice in my head that’s always speaking to me and it belongs to Freddie Mercury – another brown legend. My inner world is perfectly harmonized. As for the world outside me…

6:15 AM: To conquer the world, I must conquer my mind. And I am a shooting star leaping through the sky like a tiger. Defying the laws of gravity. I’m a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva. I’m gonna go go go. Sometimes I don’t know where my voice ends and Freddie’s begins. But I jump out of bed singing “Don’t Stop Me Now.” I think of my father saying, “Run Kamala, run!” when I was younger with the same amount of ambition. Yes! I run to the shower to begin the first day of the rest of my life.

9:30 AM: I stand at the kitchen counter feeling radiant, accomplished. 60-minute Soul Survivor workout? Check. Coffee brewed? Check. Almond milk poured into a bowl of Raisin Bran? Check. Kissed my husband good morning? Check. Now, some Me Time. Because too much love will kill you every time.

10:15 AM: I practice lightning round questioning in front of the mirror.

11:30 AM: Family dinner tonight – my favorite start to the week, a reminder that I’m in control of my life. Tonight, I’m making a multitude of pizzas. Pesto, Hawaiian, spicy Creole, a classic margherita. Our nation, it seems, is really just a bunch of unbaked pizzas. We’ve got all the ingredients, all the potential…but right now, everything’s kind of a mess because no one agrees on what constitutes a pizza.

“Our nation, it seems, is really just a bunch of unbaked pizzas. We’ve got all the ingredients, all the potential…but right now, everything’s kind of a mess because no one agrees on what constitutes a pizza.”

12:00 PM: One of my senior staffers calls to check in with updates and plan for the week ahead. I remind her that we are the dough of the pizza crust. We must always rise to the occasion. If we don’t, the pizza will not exist.

12:01 PM: She tells me I am 100% deserving of the Facebook group created in my honor “Slay, Kamala, Slay.”

12:30 PM: I knead the dough.

12:31 PM: We all need the dough, I realize, as I look out the window. People on the streets, people on the streets. It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about, watching some good friends screaming, “Let me out!”

12:45 PM: Pressure.

12:46 PM: Under pressure.

2:00 PM: News alerts pop up on my phone. There’ll be more debates soon. More scrutiny. No time for self-doubt now-

2:01 PM: What if I have to change my hairstyle? I love my hair.

2:02 PM: No, no, we’re better than this.

2:03 PM: What is ‘better’ though? What is ‘this’? Better yet, what is ‘is’?

2:04 PM: No, no – I am not going to be that president. No time for losers ‘cause we are the champions of the world. I am Kamoji, the animated superhero. I’ve been, in the words of one Barack Obama, “the best looking attorney general in the country.” I am mother freaking Momala, damnit.

“She tells me I am 100% deserving of the Facebook group created in my honor ‘Slay, Kamala, Slay.'”

3:00 PM: Pizza dough ready. Pesto made. Pineapples chopped. Andouille sausage sliced. Fresh basil acquired from local farmer’s market.

4:30 PM: I crochet a couple blankets for the chilly political cycle ahead. Along with mastering the art of a ferocious stare, I’ve also mastered needlepoint.

5:30 PM: Cory Booker sends me a supportive text.

6:00 PM: I curl up on the couch with a newly made blanket and a hot cup of chamomile tea, scrolling through Freddie Mercury’s greatest costume hits. God he really had that whole fiery statement jacket / shoulder pad thing down.

6:30 PM: What an icon.

6:31 PM: ‘Icon’ is just a letter away from I Can. I can win while inspiring young people to wear pearls. I can command respect on late night TV. Look how far I’ve come from being the ‘fun’ member of my college debate team.

6:45 PM: Anyway the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to me…to me. That’s not true Freddie, you sexy crooner. It all matters to me.

7:00 PM: My family calls. It’s time for dinner.

A New Hair-spective

A Letter from Soné | July 2019

When I was younger, the concept of survival seemed very important – what with all the teen movies about hot girls being mean to smart girls and the rampant myth of carrots causing cancer and the wars on terror and weapons that didn’t exist. So I carried around a copy of The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook to be prepared. At any given point in time, I knew how to escape quicksand, cure hay fever, wrestle free from an alligator, and spot someone with hiccups.

I knew it all.

Or, I thought I did.

One summer day, I walked out of my apartment and I noticed them: droplets of moisture hanging in the air waiting to attack my sense of self. My hair grew bigger and bigger and my hard-won confidence vanished. Ah, the unseen enemy: humidity.

For years after that, nothing struck more fear in my heart than a humid day. The ominous weather forecasts (91% humidity!). The fights with hair tools larger than my arm. The mascara running down my cheeks as I dramatically sobbed in front of the bathroom mirror.

And then a new book entered my life: Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Suddenly, right in my tote, I had a military tactician whispering hauntingly strategic prose to me. Hope reappeared as I ventured out into the battlefield – nay, subway stations – of New York City.

I’m proud to say I’ve risen from the ashes of my blow dryer and conquered humidity once and for all. I’ve compiled some winning tips here to help you do the same. You can thank me later.

  1. Wear a bag over your head.

Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting,” Master Sun Tzu wrote. When you’ve got a bag over your head, there’s no fight – humid air will just waft on over to the oblivious well-coiffed person next to you. Not only will your hair stay intact, you’ll get extra protection from the sun and appear to be a purveyor of the latest trend, Trashy Chic. Win-win-win.

  1. Hydrate beyond your wildest dreams.

“Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.” Another gem. How much water do you drink on a daily basis? 6 cups? 8 cups? More than anything else in the world, humidity craves your dry locks.

Drinking 2 gallons of water a day will keep your hair hydrated and, as a perk, give your face that coveted fresh dewy look. Get your daily 2 gallons in and keep your hair yours.

Nothing struck more fear in my heart than a humid day. The ominous weather forecasts. The fights with hair tools larger than my arm. The mascara running down my cheeks as I dramatically sobbed in front of the bathroom mirror.

  1. Coat your hair in olive oil.

“The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.” Don’t feel like peeing every 20 minutes after following the last tip? That makes sense. Next time you step out on a humid day, drench your hair in olive oil (known for creating a lustrous shine). Moisture particles will zoom towards your head and then bam – massive grease wall. Treat yourself and use the highest quality EVOO you can find.

  1. Leave town.

“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” I like this one because it echoes a key rule from the simple childhood game, Hide & Seek: If your enemy can’t find you, it can’t defeat you. Take a Mental Health day from work and flee the humidity for cooler climates.

  1. Give up. 

“There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.” Proof that Sun Tzu was the wisest. It’s just hair. They’re dead hair cells. 7,200 seconds a day seems like a lot of time spent on fixing the part of ourselves that’s just trying to rest in peace. We could just throw it in a bun and get some ice-cream.

This one’s my favorite.

Until next time,