Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Living The Life Of Cool

"You do the coolest things."
"How'd you get that gig?"
"Where'd you find that?"
"I want your life for a while."

No this isn't a post about just how cool I think I am.  This is about hard work, authentic networking and being intentional. Or how I prefer to put it; "Pimpin' ain't easy".

Recently I was fulfilling what I see as my obligation as a tastemaker for Starbucks by posting a photo of the summer coffee gift pack they sent me.  Shortly afterwards the comments came rolling in:
"I want to be a tastemaker, where do I apply for this job?"
"Life is good."
"Um, how did you get picked for this?"

To which I just responded; "Pimpin' ain't easy people". 

Why such a short, glib response? Because for me to elaborate on the truth of how I was sought out would have made this experience and many others in my life seem a lot less sexy. And as we all know, sex sells. So to say something like:
"I lived in Seattle, the home of Starbucks, for 20+ years where I worked in branding for apparel and gourmet food, particularly for the coffee industry and for the last 7 years of my life there I networked my ass off, relentlessly and authentically to build my own brand as a speaker and a strategic wardrobe and personal style and branding consultant, which positioned me in the media and most social circles as someone with a little bit of a brain, a lot of moxy, that knows how to hustle and is a trusted resource with some good style."

Yawn....right? Sexy. Not! Do you get how this works? Let me help you out.
  • Live Your Life Like You Are The Next Contestant On A Game Show. A friend of mine once aptly described me with this reference. I took it as a tremendous compliment. Why? Because Bob Barker doesn't pick the person that is skeptical, not enthused and afraid to leave their comfort zone. And neither will your next client, boss, soul mate, life changing opportunity.... insert whatever you have been trying to "manifest" here.
  • Know Thy Self. Know what you stand for and what you believe in. No one likes a sell out. If you haven't figured it out I use the the word "pimpin'" as a euphemism for hustling, moxy, assertive and genuine.  Not sleazy sell out. 
  • No Guts, No Glory. If you aren't willing to put yourself out there no one will find you. And that doesn't mean bawdy Facebook posts and too many Tweets.
  • Varity Capital.  A phrase that my dear friend Sadee Whip gave to how I like to do business and the kinds of companies and people that I will work with.  It means that if you are committed to your truth people will buy it. Its how I live my life.
  • Be Intentional.  If any of you have ever heard me speak you know that this is not just the foundation for my lifestyle but for my decision making and my PBTA program. You know the old saying, 'haste makes waste', it doesn't mean you can't be spontaneous it just means you have to have a reason for what you do. But do something!
We've had this conversation before. Remember? In "A New York Moment". But when Besty Talbot, who is the epitome of living the life of cool as chronicled in her wildly successful and interesting blog "Married With Luggage" asked if I would contribute to "Learn the Secrets of a Good Life" I knew I needed to put this into a usable format and not just a random musing on cool. Thank you Betsy for insipiring us all to live a good life and letting us follow along on yours.

Go forth you! Live The Life Of Cool!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A New York Moment

"New York Moment" : noun  pronounced:  \nu\york\mo-ment\
def: To put oneself in the midst of a situation, activity or event to experience something that could only take place in The Big Apple a.k.a. New York City, Manhattan. Usually resulting in one or all of the following:
  • a really good story
  • an even better memory
  • an excellent photo op
  • an overall bodily sensation
My friend Charlotte Omnes moved here to NYC 6 months after we did and one of the first things we did together was go to the Ticker Tape Parade for the Yankees World Series win of 2009.  THAT was a New York Moment and the impetus for a collection of events that we now call "New York Moments".  Some of which have become my favorite memories so far and are the inspiration for many more. Some I've shared with Charlotte, some with MDHK, and even alone at times. Such gems as:
    That's Betty Draper on the screen behind me,
    and Times Square all around.

  • Seeing the Pee Wee Herman Show at Radio City Music Hall
  • Going to the closing night of Manhattan restaurant institution, Gino's Italian Restaurant and meeting some crazy Guido that just purchased a billboard of himself on the BQE.
  • Watching the season premiere of Mad Men in Times Square with the cast of the show.
  • Spending the night in the Rubin Museum of Art (and getting my photo on Flavorwire in my PJ's!)
  • Celebrating Christmas Eve at Sammy's Roumanian Steak house with a few hundred of our closest Jewish "friends" doing a congo line.
  • Viewing the Empire State Building ablaze on New Year's Eve from our couch.
  • Attending the most elegant wedding of our first really dear friends in NYC, Niki and Massimiliano, at the Neue Galerie, one of the most amazing museums in Manhattan housing a collection of romantic artist Gustav Klimt amoung others.
  • Super slick, no line, no waiting passes to the David Letterman show (thanks to my Seattle sweetie Dawn Hobson)
The list goes on and on as you can imagine. But recently as I was being interviewed on video for a skin care line campaign on the deck of the 15th floor of the Martha Stewart building overlooking the Hudson River and all of Manhattan, realizing that this came about as a result of a trip in a private plane to a 5 Star Dude Ranch in Montana....

Charlotte Omnes takes a bite!
Yep, the opportunity to reach out and grab life by the b@&%'s definitely happens with greater frequency here.  Although nothing ever stopped me from doing that in any other town, it's just that it sounds a lot bigger in The Big Apple. Doesn't it?  The moral of this story: As I see it, you have one of two choices; take the opportunity that is being presented to you, or don't.  It all depends on how much of life you want and how big of a bite you are willing to take. Me? My eyes have always been bigger than stomach, but that doesn't stop me. Go ahead. Take a bite!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Living Large in the Big Apple

"Food, food, food. That's all you ever post", a friend comments one day on my Facebook page.  While another says: "How do you stay skinny eating all of the time?". And my personal favorite: "Are you getting fat out there in NYC?". Ah friends. Can't shoot 'em, can't live without them.

Of course if you follow me on facebook you would assume all I do is eat, cook, throw parties and have cocktails with friends.  And you wouldn't be far from the truth. In defense let's look at the factors and elements at hand:
1. I live in New York City. Manhattan. The Big Apple. Gotham.  You don't get that many names as a city if you don't have a lot to offer and something to do, eat or drink all of the time.
2. I didn't move here to memorize cable TV channels.
3. I/we don't have kids. We have to fill my time with something (can you say ChildFreeNYC Meet Up Group?)
4. You post pictures of your kids, I post pictures of the things I eat and cook with and for friends.  We both are sharing what makes life good for us.
5. "Foodie" doesn't come close to describing how I live my life. It's almost a pedestrian insult at this point.  Why I'm not on Top Chef I don't know.  I just choose to make it hobby and not a J-O-B.  But honestly my passion for food, the art and science of it go well beyond the average so-called "foodie". Its an obsession, a passion and a way of life. As MDHK likes to quote me saying once while in Rome, "The ultimate goal here is food".

I will have to admit that sometimes when I see the insane amount of eating, cooking and drinking that I do as per my facebook posts I have to wonder; "Why am I not fat in NYC?".  But then I look down at my wickedly sensible (for me), extremely worn street worthy shoes and remember my digital response to the many inquiries about my weight management (which I can only assume come from a very genuine and thoughtful place of concern for my well being). It goes something like this:

"I don't have a car. No one in NYC does really. I walk everywhere.Why wouldn't I? Even taking the subway requires a lot of walking and lots of stairs. On average I walk 3+ miles a day. With out of town guests it's more like 4-6 miles a day."  You add to that the fact that EVERYTHING you purchase has to get home somehow.  That means I'm also a pack mule carrying everything from printer paper to toilet paper, groceries, extra clothing layers, dress shoes to change into, you name it.

So the next time you see me checking in at Momofuku, posting a pic of a burger from Back Forty, or singing the praises of Vanessa's dumpling Happy Hour while knocking back a beer at Drop Off Service or stopping off at a party at Macao. Rest easy. My arteries will give out before my waistline.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fancy Meeting You Here

When I first moved to New York City the sensation that struck me the most was that of anonymity.  I could walk the streets, ride the subway and shop in stores knowing that I knew virtually no one here.  It was actually a refreshing feeling having come from the 2nd smallest big city in the world, Seattle where I had lived and worked for 20 years.  It was near impossible for me to leave the house without running into someone I knew (case in point: "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" Feb. 6, 2009). 

I remember the first time I spotted someone that I knew here. It was in the 14th St. Union Square subway station which is one of the busiest in the city and can only be described as some sort of organized chaos (so iconic it has it's own Wiki page).  When I spotted this person I was so stunned that words escaped me and they never even knew I was there. At the same time it felt like that scene in the Wizard of Oz when everything goes from black and white to color.  My little anonymity bubble had been popped. And I was all right with that because I knew that in a city of 2.6 million people surely this wouldn't happen all of the time.  Or would it?

It actually started happening more frequently.  Once a month. A couple of times a month. Once a week. Then a couple of times a week.  What was happening here? What did this mean? This week I ran into someone I know randomly on the street four times. FOUR TIMES! It was a lovely feeling that reminded me how much this city has become home and how lucky we are to have made such wonderful friends (more on that in the next post).

I still feel a sense of anonymity but there's a blanket of warmth around it called 'community'.  Which is a good thing, because we're about to head into winter here and you need as much warmth as you can get.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Nerdy New Yorker

I've never claimed to be too cool for school.  Wouldn't even try to fake that one.  There are some things that come naturally and some that don't.  For me, faking things and comprimising comfort are two things I don't do so well. So as I strolled around Manhattan in the mid-August humidity that borders on oppressive with a visiting Seattlite and fellow Fem-preneur, Nicole Donnelly, she asked;
"How do you deal with this heat?"
"By being a nerd", I replied.

Fair and square, I am the Nerdy New Yorker.  Every summer as the heat and humidity tries to out-do each other I get increasingly nerdier.  Where to begin explaining.  The shoes? The umbrella? The hat? the underwear?

Let's start with the stats: currently its 90 degrees with 45% humidity.
Adding to this: hot pavement, subway vents, airconditioner units going, car exhaust and lots of buildings, all radiating heat.

How do you combat this? Its a process that I'm close to perfecting, and though it will help make your body a bit cooler it won't do a damn thing for your hip and cool factor. 
  • Shoes - your feet swell with excessive walking which is unavoidable in NYC, but then you add some external heat and BOOM.  You have sausages. NYC streets are filthy on a regular day but they are disgusting in the summer time.  Flip flops aren't ideal, but if you have to I reccommend Fit Flops because they are ergonomic, have a lot more cushion and are raised to keep you off the ground a bit. Also, Jambu sport shoe for casual and quite a few of Born's dressier shoes
  • Hat - sometimes just the littlest amont of shade can make a huge difference.  I like San Diego Hat company for their many cloth and straw varieties designed especially for sun. 
  • Umbrella - now were are really getting nerdy, but wait until I tell you about this one. Everyone in my family has had skin cancer so I'm careful to always wear sunscreen (my favorite comes from my dermatologist who is also the founder of MD Skincare). I read about Sun Grubbies UV reflective umbrellas while reading a blog about a photoshoot in Death Valley and how they survived the 120 degree heat. It literally brings the tempurature down by 10 degrees when you stand under it.
  • Folding Fan - Its literally 112 degrees on the subway platforms. 'nuff sed. I buy them in bulk at Pearl River Mart for $.45 because people are always commenting on how they wish they had one so I give them mine and pull out an extra.
  • Clothing - all cotton, all dresses, all of the time. I own about 15 little cotton dresses that I bought at the begining of the season from Zara. Each of the cost me around $40.  They are stylish, don't have an acetate sticky lining and hid those trickles running down my back. This Spanish based line takes a very european approach to 'cheap 'n' cheerful'.  Classier and better made than H&M, but not found nationwide yet.  However on September 2 you can begin shopping them on line.
  • Underwear - yes, you even have to give special consideration to this. Because it is the first contact with your skin it needs to be ultra performance.  Patagonia, Ex Officio, Athleta, all make performance, moisture wicking underwear for women. The Barely Hipster and the Boy Brief are currently making my life a lot more comfortable.
  • Keeping Face - Blotting papers are the best way to remove the sheen without adding more make-up.  I buy mine at Asian department stores like Pearl River Mart, but you can also find them at Sephora along with Neutrogena.
Now before you think me a complete geek let me just say that whatever I do in my attempts to keep cool, it could be worse.  It could always be worse.

Friday, February 26, 2010

What To Do When The Snow Hits Your Bum

When you have snow up to your butt what do you do? After you've made the snow man, taken photos of yourself bundled up like an eskimo, and started looking longingly at the 12 year old scotch in the cabinet?  I head straight for the kitchen and make every cozy food I can.  In bulk.  Then I call the neighbors and tell them come over. But bring some scotch.

Today Manhattan is gorgeous winter wonderland with more snow on the way so I'm making "Darcey’s Low-Fat Granola".  Its one of my staple contributions to group gatherings at the cabin and as gifts during the holidays.  It makes a nice healthy amount.  I enjoy it with some cut up Honey Crisp apple when they are in season and cold almond milk poured over it.  That's just ridiculously healthy and low fat.  You might like to add some really creamy yogurt on yours!

Darcey's Low-Fat Granola (with a full fat flavor)
4 c oats
¾ c slivered almonds
2/3c pecans
1/2c raw pumpkin seeds
1 ¼ c angel flake coconut
1 ½ tsp cinnamon

5 Tbl canola oil
4 Tbl real maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla

2 Tbl canola oil
1 ½ Tbl real maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

2 cups of dried fruit
(I like slivered apricots, cranberries, currents & golden raisins)

Pre heat oven to 375. in medium mixing bowl combine first 6 ingredients
In small bowl combine first measurement of oil, syrup & vanilla. Add to oat mixture and toss to combine.

Spread oat mixture on 2 nonstick baking sheets. Bake stirring frequently until browned, 10-12 minutes. Transfer sheet to wire rack to let cool

Transfer oat mixture to medium mixing bowl; add dried fruit and toss to combine. Then mix second measurement of oil, syrup & vanilla. Pour over oat and fruit mixture and toss to combine.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Look Both Ways. Twice!

Seattle is the home of the J-walking ticket.  Believe it or not the cops in Seattle have so little to do that they will cite you walking against the light or not in a designated crosswalk.  So its just funny as hell to me when someone comes to visit from Seattle and I see them standing at the crosswalk in downtown Manhattan waiting for the light like a bullwhipped puppy. 

You see, New Yorkers don't wait for anything.  If they see a break, a hole, or crack they'll slip right through it.  Where we are all going in such a hurry I haven't quite figured it out completely.  Personally I've always walked too fast (talked to loud, laughed too much... more on that in another post) so this feels just right to me. I suppose it has something to do with transportation.  Its all on a time schedule and so are we.  You are always running to catch a subway that you don't even know if its there.

When you do decide to dart out into the street through that break in the traffic you definitely want to look both ways, regardless of the fact that almost every single street in NYC is a one-way.  Not because some crazy cabbie may be screaming in reverse.  No, they are actually the least of your worries.  The closest I've come to getting run down in the street was not by something yellow with four wheels.  It was by a darkly dressed creature whose body resembled the narrow tubular frame he rode with two wheels. 

Cyclists; they are the most dangerous things on the road. They will come flying at top speeds of 30 mph going the wrong way on a one-way street through an intersection without so much as a flinch much less a pause.  And when they nearly mow you down they yell obscenities at YOU!

This kind of crazy, balls-out intensity has been glamourized before in movies like the Japanese film "Messengers" and "Quicksilver" the 1986 cheeseball flick staring everyone's favorite drinking game host, Kevin Bacon.  But the most realistic one is the soon to be released "Empire".  It's all NY and it's all cyclists.  Set in the classic Warren Miller fashion of jammin' music and edgy footage.

Watch this 4 minutes and 22 seconds of "Empire" and for godsakes look both ways when you cross the street. Twice!