SUBSCRIBE

THE ART OF

a Lifestyle Blog
from
Tori Fletcher

The Creative Process – One of the most intriguing things about life is the presence of non-stop Self Discovery. I can pretty much say without a doubt that I can’t name the last day that I had where I didn’t learn something absolutely new. Maybe it was about my business; my clients, my design direction. Or it’s quite possible that it was about my own personal relationships, habits (good and bad), strengths, weaknesses, or well being. It’s also possible that I learned more than one thing that day (yup, it happens!) and it is a combination of the above. Either way, the moral of the story, is I learn something new daily, whether I seek to or not. To me, it is just a part of the process.

Now, some of you may thinking, I don’t actually learn something new everyday, maybe once or twice a week, but not daily. Or maybe you  don’t remember the last time you learned something completely and utterly unique to your experience. My response to that is that it’s nearly impossible for that to be true.

How do you “know” what you learned if it doesn’t seem like your day was extraordinary? This is where we must start to think about intentional living, constructive flow of though, and self awareness. To get you started, simply get yourself a pretty journal or pull up a new document on your Mac, and answer the following questions throughout your day. Sometimes I even ask myself these questions mentally more than once a day, and I feel better for it.

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What can I do to take better care of myself?
  • What do I love about myself?
  • What are my current priorities?
  • What would make me happy right now?
  • What am I happy about right now?
  • Who inspires me most right now? What do I love about that person?
  • What do I need more of in my life?
  • What do I need less of in my life?
  • If I could share my message with the world, what would it be?

These answers may change monthly, or daily, or even by the hour in some circumstances! That is life! But each time the answer changes, ask yourself what you learned or experienced that changed your response? There must be something, and the better you get at recognizing those moments in your life, the more in tune with your own needs and wellness you will be AND the more creatively you will run your business and your personal life. Give it a shot for one month. I dare you.

DIFFICULT CLIENTS – AN HONEST LOOK – Ask anyone who has been in business for some time, and they will tell you that while most of their clients have been happy with the product or service they provide, there have been one or two who they couldn’t please no matter how they tried.

Naturally, this is a stressful situation, as no reputable and passionate business owner, especially a creative business owner, wants a client to feel less than thrilled with their interaction with them. But, with that being said, it is important to remember that you absolutely cannot make everyone happy. Think of all of the time you have dedicated to projects that make you (and the client) unhappy, that could have been spent working with wonderful, lovely, people that appreciate you as much as you do them.

Self Discover for the Creative Process - The Art Of

Let’s take a look at some of the clients that may spell trouble for you as a creative business owner and what you can do to combat it and move on, hopefully in a way that will de-escalate the situation and will leave some level of comfort on both side.

  1. The “Nothing you do will make me happy” Client:

We all know a person exactly like this, in our personal or business life, and we know exactly how they think about most everything. Honestly, there are just some people in the world who can’t be completely satisfied, may that be with the services you provide or even with their own work and services.

While it may seem like this type A Personality is working against you from day one, typically they are just perfectionists and nothing will ever measure up to their standards, making them nearly impossible to please.

At the end of the day, this client is exactly what the title says, nothing you do will make them completely happy. Just roll with it and finish the project to the best of your ability with the most positive attitude you can. Eventually, I think most business owners learn to recognize the signs of this type of client from the start, and will make an educated decision on whether they wish to accept them as a customer.

2. The “I have no idea what I want, but will know when I see it” Client:

This client is actually really similar to number one in terms of your chances of making them happy. If they are entering into a project with no clue what will work for them, that should be an immediate red flag that they aren’t ready to start the process you are offering.

Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way a couple of times throughout my career, and have gotten much better at guiding them to where they need to be in order to get started.

Accepting this client without first guiding them in the right direction will be a huge detriment to your time and your business, making waves that will ripple throughout your schedule. The honest answer is this client will most likely need to see multiple revisions and concepts and may never actually see the magical “one”, creating negativity about your business in their mind and leaving you feeling less than confident about your work.

3. The “What can I get for Free” Client:

Since you are offering a service or providing creative intellectual property a client can’t steal from you, right? No way.

I once had a client break a website that I made for her a year after launch, contact me to request my help fixing it,  and agree to my terms of $75 an hour for 2 hours (it took me 4, but I felt bad for her, so only charged for 2) to get her reinstalled. I fixed her website and made all of her requested updates, and once finished she locked me out of the site and disputed the credit card charge claiming that she didn’t authorize it. This not only means that I gave up 4 hours of my time for free and took away from the experience of my other clients, but I was also charged $75 from the credit card company as a dispute fee. Basically, I paid money for the pleasure of fixing her website.

Now, it is easy to say: who would have known that would happen? But the honest truth is I already had that vibe about this client. My initial experience with her hadn’t been the best as she had asked for a lot of things that weren’t in her contract for free, and would freak out if I wasn’t able to help her.

I knew exactly what kind of client I was dealing with, but I allowed my personal feelings instead of my “business owner” feelings to decide how I handled the situation. I literally still think about that client frequently (which I need to get over!!!) because it hurts my heart that there are business owners out there that will treat other this way, when they themselves KNOW how difficult it is!

Honestly, there is no easy set of rules that you can follow for this client to make the process smoother and reduce your risk. My advice in this situation is that as soon as you get that vibe, you should discontinue the relationship, whether that means finishing up the project they did pay for and then moving on or refunding them and sending them on their way.

As much as you or I want to see the good in people, in my experience, this situation will not end well and you will be on the receiving end of a great deal of grief.

4. The “Never-ending Project” Client:

If I am being real, issues with this client may be as much your fault as theirs unless you set solid boundaries and keep lines of communication completely open with them. If you finished the project months ago, but they are still contacting you for revisions; etc, it is your responsibility to be strong and say no. Make it clear when you initially finish the project that this is the end of your paid time together (but you can totally still be friends!) and that if they have any additional requests they should make them now or expect to pay your hourly rate in the future. My best advice is to get used to treating all of your clients the same across the board when it comes to your work with them, unless you have specifically made additional promises regarding their situation. Set your rules and stick with them.

WAYS YOU CAN COMBAT NEGATIVE SITUATIONS/CLIENTS FROM DAY ONE:

  • First of all, make sure you have an iron clad contract. Make sure that each and every client that books with you signs that contract, no exceptions.
  • Provide your clients with a fact sheet, timeline, or informational package that will lay out the process of your services, the timeframe it takes you for each milestone along the way, and what they can expect from their finished product. Providing them with as much information as possible directly out of the gate will alleviate any confusion later if the client tries to insinuate that they aren’t happy because you didn’t follow protocol.
  • If things start to take on a negative vibe during your process, gently but firmly guide the clients attention back to the positive and let them know that you are doing your very best for them. The most important thing you can do for yourself and your clients is to not allow their mood to alter your work. It is super hard, but if you can maintain a positive attitude even when they are creating stress for you, they will not be able to point at you as the reason they are unhappy.
  • Have a solid questionnaire that will help them to do a bit of self discovery and will get them in the brainstorming mindset.
  • Ask the right questions. Find out where their head is at from the start and utilize any information that you have received.
  • Be very honest from the beginning of the project.  Insure that they understand that  you have a specific style of work, and that if they aren’t already in that mindset and know that they want that style, you may not be the right fit for them. Help them go through your portfolio so they understand what they will be receiving if they hire you, and if they get off track during the project, kindly remind them of your creative abilities and portfolio.
  • Let them know that you offer only a certain number of revisions and ask them if they are comfortable with that before beginning. If they truly don’t know what they want, they may realize that they need more time to think prior to spending money on a project that may end up costing them a fortune.
  • Document any and all agreements, revision requests, edits; etc. This will save you a great deal of hassle if a problem should ever arise.
  • Last, but definitely not least, remember that while most of your clients are going to be beautiful people, you can’t allow a few bad experiences to jeopardize your success. These are all learning experiences that you will have during the process of running your business, and has absolutely nothing to do with your amazing talent and creativity. Power through the stressful events and take what you have discovered with you to the next level.

Let us know how you combat difficult or impossible to please clients in the comments! We love new advice!

See more from our Creative Entrepreneur Series here. 

Since I will likely spend most of my week preparing for this weekends getaway with my Sister, I decided to spend this past Saturday downtown with the hubs. He was already in that vicinity as he had an early meeting in Chelsea, so we agreed to meet around 3:30 at our favorite West Village Brunch spot and then move on to drinks and the Belmont Stakes with friends at a bar on West Fourth. Perfection.

In New York City in order to get most anywhere worth visiting, you have to be willing to submit yourself to time on the Subway, which is the actual worst in the Summer months. This is especially true when you live in the ‘upper’ neighborhoods of the city as we do because a taxi or Uber ride to lower Manhattan can cost a fortune.

Onto the train I marched, looking forward to the mimosa that had been calling my name all morning.

Anybody who has lived in the city knows that it is never quite that easy. Immediately, my train was diverted because of track construction; meaning I had to hike to the next nearest station in order to catch a new train to my destination.

Once I was securely settled on the second train, it occurred to me that this one was running local instead of express, meaning it would stop at every station along the way as opposed to skipping the less popular ones to move more quickly to the larger.

Ok, it’s fine. It will simply add another 20 minutes to my trip, but it’s Saturday. No rush.

That is until I glanced through the window just in time to see Christopher Street/Sheridan Square, my stop, fly past me in a wave of dust. WHY ARE WE NOT STOPPING?

According to the very late announcement from the conductor, the train was now running an express and would not stop at the local stops, of which Christopher is one. A 35-minute trip had turned into a 1.5-hour trip AND brunch was officially ending for the day. My day felt a bit ruined.

To say I felt angry and cheated was an understatement. I had started the trip in an amazing mood, ready to spend some time off with the Hubs and the people I love, only to end up missing half of my day off sitting on the train, battling one obstacle and delay after another. My mood had taken quite a turn for the worst.

When I finally reached my stop, I grumpily got off the train and walked up the stairs, going over the bitch-fest I was about to unleash on my husband in my mind and being generally negative. And then something beautiful happened.

I looked up, and there she was. Sarah Jessica Parker.

I had been hoping for this since I moved to the city over 8 years ago! If there is one celebrity that I have wanted to catch a glimpse of in real life, it is for sure SJP. I just adore her.

And just think, if the train had been on time, I wouldn’t have had that super cool experience.

I meeeannnn, I didn’t end up speaking to her. And, I probably only had her in my eyesight for 3 seconds or less, but it was still really cool. I stand by that. I made sunglass eye contact with SJP.

For the first time in the history of the MTA, the Saturday train delays made someone’s day.

*Disclaimer: I totally wanted to talk to her and gush about how much I loved her work, but in the interest of remaining a “real” New Yorker, I abstained. Gah

When I fly, it’s a production. I am not kidding when I say this; I imagine it is the equivalent of an OCD ritual that must be played out exactly each and every time. Let’s just say it involves a lot of alcohol and creepy leering at the flight crew as they board the plane prior to take off.

I would like to say that I don’t know where this fear and compulsion come from, but that would be a lie. My mother was terribly afraid of flying, and like most other things that scared her, she did her very best to make sure the fear was passed down to me.

Here is the thing. When I fly, that is when I truly feel the most alive. There is just something so beautiful about being absolutely terrified but powering through and facing it. When I step off of an airplane, somewhere in my brain a happy dance is happening and I want to run through the airport swinging from light posts and clicking my heels.

I love that feeling. Bravery. It makes me feel powerful in my life, and to be honest, sometimes I am actually grateful that my mother made me so fearful of so many things. It gives me the opportunity to feel brave and powerful on a level a lot of people may never experience. Sure, most of the time the feeling isn’t as intense as after a trip in the sky, but it still feels courageous.

The most gorgeous thing I ever did for myself was to decide that I didn’t want to live a stunted life out of fear. I trained myself to see my fear not as an obstacle, but as a tool to push myself to live a life that I love. I like to think it’s my superpower.

Something to think about…

We’ve found your new June beach read and you won’t want to miss it! Work Party by the gorgeous Jaclyn Johnson of Create & Cultivate is the story of one woman’s rise from fired corporate employee and failed business partner to the owner and CEO of one of the most lucrative and inspiring women’s social platform.

TRUST ME… YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK!

THE ART OF BOOK BINGE – WORK PARTY BY JACLYN JOHNSON – IMAGE COURTESY OF SMITH HOUSE PHOTO

You may be familiar with the name Jaclyn Johnson, especially if you adore a tough woman. As the owner & CEO of the much talked about community Create & Cultivate, Jaclyn has been through ups and downs, failures and successes, and devastating and beautiful experiences; and she has turned each and every one of these lessons into teaching moments used to move and motivate other entrepreneurs and business owners.

THE ART OF BOOK BINGE – WORK PARTY BY JACLYN JOHNSON – IMAGE COURTESY OF SMITH HOUSE PHOTO

A smart book, filled with genuine business love and the most wonderful advice, you won’t regret spending your free time enjoying this good read. Pick it up here and tell us your comments below!

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about honesty and about how much is too much. Sure, we all claim that we are honest people and we easily adjust our level of trust for others based on our experiences with them, but in the big scheme of things, when is dishonesty or omission okay?

Three weeks ago, a business owner and colleague that I have worked and grown with over the years shared an incredibly frank and honest post on Facebook that provided a lot of insight into her personal life and thoughts. I hate to admit it, but I was a little bit taken aback. Not because I was judging her on any level, hey, I have my own personal stuff that I don’t necessarily talk about on social media. Don’t we all? It was because I knew that the information was so personal, that now, every time I saw her, in life or in business, that is what would immediately come to mind. And I hated that on a purely selfish level. I suddenly wished that people would hold back a bit on the honesty.

This experience had me wondering,

when is it appropriate to share your most

personal thoughts, and to who is it acceptable? 

Personally, I like to be open and relatable in my business;  it’s important to me to form unique and lasting connections with the people I come in contact with frequently. However, I am more comfortable keeping the really personal and life-changing moments and experiences to myself. There are things that I keep close to the vest or share only with my loved ones. Some things are just for you, and not everyone that you come in contact with has earned the right to that information.

Tell me, am I right or wrong? How much sharing is too much? Leave your thoughts and opinion in the comments below.

DIFFICULT CLIENTS – AN HONEST LOOK – Ask anyone who has been in business for some time, and they will tell you that while most of their clients have been happy with the product or service they provide, there have been one or two who they couldn’t please no matter how they tried.

Naturally, this is a stressful situation, as no reputable and passionate business owner, especially a creative business owner, wants a client to feel less than thrilled with their interaction with them. But, with that being said, it is important to remember that you absolutely cannot make everyone happy. Think of all of the time you have dedicated to projects that make you (and the client) unhappy, that could have been spent working with wonderful, lovely, people that appreciate you as much as you do them.

Self Discover for the Creative Process - The Art Of

Let’s take a look at some of the clients that may spell trouble for you as a creative business owner and what you can do to combat it and move on, hopefully in a way that will de-escalate the situation and will leave some level of comfort on both side.

  1. The “Nothing you do will make me happy” Client:

We all know a person exactly like this, in our personal or business life, and we know exactly how they think about most everything. Honestly, there are just some people in the world who can’t be completely satisfied, may that be with the services you provide or even with their own work and services.

While it may seem like this type A Personality is working against you from day one, typically they are just perfectionists and nothing will ever measure up to their standards, making them nearly impossible to please.

At the end of the day, this client is exactly what the title says, nothing you do will make them completely happy. Just roll with it and finish the project to the best of your ability with the most positive attitude you can. Eventually, I think most business owners learn to recognize the signs of this type of client from the start, and will make an educated decision on whether they wish to accept them as a customer.

2. The “I have no idea what I want, but will know when I see it” Client:

This client is actually really similar to number one in terms of your chances of making them happy. If they are entering into a project with no clue what will work for them, that should be an immediate red flag that they aren’t ready to start the process you are offering.

Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way a couple of times throughout my career, and have gotten much better at guiding them to where they need to be in order to get started.

Accepting this client without first guiding them in the right direction will be a huge detriment to your time and your business, making waves that will ripple throughout your schedule. The honest answer is this client will most likely need to see multiple revisions and concepts and may never actually see the magical “one”, creating negativity about your business in their mind and leaving you feeling less than confident about your work.

3. The “What can I get for Free” Client:

Since you are offering a service or providing creative intellectual property a client can’t steal from you, right? No way.

I once had a client break a website that I made for her a year after launch, contact me to request my help fixing it,  and agree to my terms of $75 an hour for 2 hours (it took me 4, but I felt bad for her, so only charged for 2) to get her reinstalled. I fixed her website and made all of her requested updates, and once finished she locked me out of the site and disputed the credit card charge claiming that she didn’t authorize it. This not only means that I gave up 4 hours of my time for free and took away from the experience of my other clients, but I was also charged $75 from the credit card company as a dispute fee. Basically, I paid money for the pleasure of fixing her website.

Now, it is easy to say: who would have known that would happen? But the honest truth is I already had that vibe about this client. My initial experience with her hadn’t been the best as she had asked for a lot of things that weren’t in her contract for free, and would freak out if I wasn’t able to help her.

I knew exactly what kind of client I was dealing with, but I allowed my personal feelings instead of my “business owner” feelings to decide how I handled the situation. I literally still think about that client frequently (which I need to get over!!!) because it hurts my heart that there are business owners out there that will treat other this way, when they themselves KNOW how difficult it is!

Honestly, there is no easy set of rules that you can follow for this client to make the process smoother and reduce your risk. My advice in this situation is that as soon as you get that vibe, you should discontinue the relationship, whether that means finishing up the project they did pay for and then moving on or refunding them and sending them on their way.

As much as you or I want to see the good in people, in my experience, this situation will not end well and you will be on the receiving end of a great deal of grief.

4. The “Never-ending Project” Client:

If I am being real, issues with this client may be as much your fault as theirs unless you set solid boundaries and keep lines of communication completely open with them. If you finished the project months ago, but they are still contacting you for revisions; etc, it is your responsibility to be strong and say no. Make it clear when you initially finish the project that this is the end of your paid time together (but you can totally still be friends!) and that if they have any additional requests they should make them now or expect to pay your hourly rate in the future. My best advice is to get used to treating all of your clients the same across the board when it comes to your work with them, unless you have specifically made additional promises regarding their situation. Set your rules and stick with them.

WAYS YOU CAN COMBAT NEGATIVE SITUATIONS/CLIENTS FROM DAY ONE:

  • First of all, make sure you have an iron clad contract. Make sure that each and every client that books with you signs that contract, no exceptions.
  • Provide your clients with a fact sheet, timeline, or informational package that will lay out the process of your services, the timeframe it takes you for each milestone along the way, and what they can expect from their finished product. Providing them with as much information as possible directly out of the gate will alleviate any confusion later if the client tries to insinuate that they aren’t happy because you didn’t follow protocol.
  • If things start to take on a negative vibe during your process, gently but firmly guide the clients attention back to the positive and let them know that you are doing your very best for them. The most important thing you can do for yourself and your clients is to not allow their mood to alter your work. It is super hard, but if you can maintain a positive attitude even when they are creating stress for you, they will not be able to point at you as the reason they are unhappy.
  • Have a solid questionnaire that will help them to do a bit of self discovery and will get them in the brainstorming mindset.
  • Ask the right questions. Find out where their head is at from the start and utilize any information that you have received.
  • Be very honest from the beginning of the project.  Insure that they understand that  you have a specific style of work, and that if they aren’t already in that mindset and know that they want that style, you may not be the right fit for them. Help them go through your portfolio so they understand what they will be receiving if they hire you, and if they get off track during the project, kindly remind them of your creative abilities and portfolio.
  • Let them know that you offer only a certain number of revisions and ask them if they are comfortable with that before beginning. If they truly don’t know what they want, they may realize that they need more time to think prior to spending money on a project that may end up costing them a fortune.
  • Document any and all agreements, revision requests, edits; etc. This will save you a great deal of hassle if a problem should ever arise.
  • Last, but definitely not least, remember that while most of your clients are going to be beautiful people, you can’t allow a few bad experiences to jeopardize your success. These are all learning experiences that you will have during the process of running your business, and has absolutely nothing to do with your amazing talent and creativity. Power through the stressful events and take what you have discovered with you to the next level.

Let us know how you combat difficult or impossible to please clients in the comments! We love new advice!

See more from our Creative Entrepreneur Series here. 

Since I will likely spend most of my week preparing for this weekends getaway with my Sister, I decided to spend this past Saturday downtown with the hubs. He was already in that vicinity as he had an early meeting in Chelsea, so we agreed to meet around 3:30 at our favorite West Village Brunch spot and then move on to drinks and the Belmont Stakes with friends at a bar on West Fourth. Perfection.

In New York City in order to get most anywhere worth visiting, you have to be willing to submit yourself to time on the Subway, which is the actual worst in the Summer months. This is especially true when you live in the ‘upper’ neighborhoods of the city as we do because a taxi or Uber ride to lower Manhattan can cost a fortune.

Onto the train I marched, looking forward to the mimosa that had been calling my name all morning.

Anybody who has lived in the city knows that it is never quite that easy. Immediately, my train was diverted because of track construction; meaning I had to hike to the next nearest station in order to catch a new train to my destination.

Once I was securely settled on the second train, it occurred to me that this one was running local instead of express, meaning it would stop at every station along the way as opposed to skipping the less popular ones to move more quickly to the larger.

Ok, it’s fine. It will simply add another 20 minutes to my trip, but it’s Saturday. No rush.

That is until I glanced through the window just in time to see Christopher Street/Sheridan Square, my stop, fly past me in a wave of dust. WHY ARE WE NOT STOPPING?

According to the very late announcement from the conductor, the train was now running an express and would not stop at the local stops, of which Christopher is one. A 35-minute trip had turned into a 1.5-hour trip AND brunch was officially ending for the day. My day felt a bit ruined.

To say I felt angry and cheated was an understatement. I had started the trip in an amazing mood, ready to spend some time off with the Hubs and the people I love, only to end up missing half of my day off sitting on the train, battling one obstacle and delay after another. My mood had taken quite a turn for the worst.

When I finally reached my stop, I grumpily got off the train and walked up the stairs, going over the bitch-fest I was about to unleash on my husband in my mind and being generally negative. And then something beautiful happened.

I looked up, and there she was. Sarah Jessica Parker.

I had been hoping for this since I moved to the city over 8 years ago! If there is one celebrity that I have wanted to catch a glimpse of in real life, it is for sure SJP. I just adore her.

And just think, if the train had been on time, I wouldn’t have had that super cool experience.

I meeeannnn, I didn’t end up speaking to her. And, I probably only had her in my eyesight for 3 seconds or less, but it was still really cool. I stand by that. I made sunglass eye contact with SJP.

For the first time in the history of the MTA, the Saturday train delays made someone’s day.

*Disclaimer: I totally wanted to talk to her and gush about how much I loved her work, but in the interest of remaining a “real” New Yorker, I abstained. Gah

When I fly, it’s a production. I am not kidding when I say this; I imagine it is the equivalent of an OCD ritual that must be played out exactly each and every time. Let’s just say it involves a lot of alcohol and creepy leering at the flight crew as they board the plane prior to take off.

I would like to say that I don’t know where this fear and compulsion come from, but that would be a lie. My mother was terribly afraid of flying, and like most other things that scared her, she did her very best to make sure the fear was passed down to me.

Here is the thing. When I fly, that is when I truly feel the most alive. There is just something so beautiful about being absolutely terrified but powering through and facing it. When I step off of an airplane, somewhere in my brain a happy dance is happening and I want to run through the airport swinging from light posts and clicking my heels.

I love that feeling. Bravery. It makes me feel powerful in my life, and to be honest, sometimes I am actually grateful that my mother made me so fearful of so many things. It gives me the opportunity to feel brave and powerful on a level a lot of people may never experience. Sure, most of the time the feeling isn’t as intense as after a trip in the sky, but it still feels courageous.

The most gorgeous thing I ever did for myself was to decide that I didn’t want to live a stunted life out of fear. I trained myself to see my fear not as an obstacle, but as a tool to push myself to live a life that I love. I like to think it’s my superpower.

Something to think about…

We’ve found your new June beach read and you won’t want to miss it! Work Party by the gorgeous Jaclyn Johnson of Create & Cultivate is the story of one woman’s rise from fired corporate employee and failed business partner to the owner and CEO of one of the most lucrative and inspiring women’s social platform.

TRUST ME… YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK!

THE ART OF BOOK BINGE – WORK PARTY BY JACLYN JOHNSON – IMAGE COURTESY OF SMITH HOUSE PHOTO

You may be familiar with the name Jaclyn Johnson, especially if you adore a tough woman. As the owner & CEO of the much talked about community Create & Cultivate, Jaclyn has been through ups and downs, failures and successes, and devastating and beautiful experiences; and she has turned each and every one of these lessons into teaching moments used to move and motivate other entrepreneurs and business owners.

THE ART OF BOOK BINGE – WORK PARTY BY JACLYN JOHNSON – IMAGE COURTESY OF SMITH HOUSE PHOTO

A smart book, filled with genuine business love and the most wonderful advice, you won’t regret spending your free time enjoying this good read. Pick it up here and tell us your comments below!

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about honesty and about how much is too much. Sure, we all claim that we are honest people and we easily adjust our level of trust for others based on our experiences with them, but in the big scheme of things, when is dishonesty or omission okay?

Three weeks ago, a business owner and colleague that I have worked and grown with over the years shared an incredibly frank and honest post on Facebook that provided a lot of insight into her personal life and thoughts. I hate to admit it, but I was a little bit taken aback. Not because I was judging her on any level, hey, I have my own personal stuff that I don’t necessarily talk about on social media. Don’t we all? It was because I knew that the information was so personal, that now, every time I saw her, in life or in business, that is what would immediately come to mind. And I hated that on a purely selfish level. I suddenly wished that people would hold back a bit on the honesty.

This experience had me wondering,

when is it appropriate to share your most

personal thoughts, and to who is it acceptable? 

Personally, I like to be open and relatable in my business;  it’s important to me to form unique and lasting connections with the people I come in contact with frequently. However, I am more comfortable keeping the really personal and life-changing moments and experiences to myself. There are things that I keep close to the vest or share only with my loved ones. Some things are just for you, and not everyone that you come in contact with has earned the right to that information.

Tell me, am I right or wrong? How much sharing is too much? Leave your thoughts and opinion in the comments below.

When I was 5, my Father went on a business trip, and as per our usual routine, returned with a souvenir of his time away. Typically business trip gifts consisted of tiny trinkets from lands afar, at least to my inexperienced mind; this time was no different. However, what was different was the impact that this trips gift would have on my life.

A small, metal Statue of Liberty figurine. Small and indiscreet enough to fit in the wooden display shelf that I proudly hung above my bed, I remember nights when I would pull her down and carefully examine all of the grooves in her dress. I would try to read and understand the minute letters scrolled on her tablet, would run my fingers over the sharp point in her crown. I had fallen in love with a city, based solely on my infatuation with this little silver statue, and I didn’t even know it yet.

Over time, I would ask questions about my new found silver lady. Where was she in real life, what was that place like, how could I get there? As I got older and learned more about the answers to these questions, I knew that someday, I would live there. I would be one of the stories that were so often tossed around in literature and on TV about the girl who moved to the big city, and had quite a big life, as it were. I made it my goal to move to NYC, and finally, at the age of 32, I made it happen.

While New York City, in my opinion, is everything that they tell you it is, it is so much more. There are many things that they don’t tell you. Many things that you have to learn and pick up on your own. But the moral of the story is the same. There is an energy that pulses in this city that you will not find anywhere else. This is my journal of that pulse. My experience in this foreign place.

Firstly, let me say, there are way more things that you don’t hear about New York than that you do. For instance, nobody told me that the Subway in the Summertime is the most miserable place you would ever want to be, full of angry, hot New Yorkers dealing with yet another MTA delay and laying their sweaty hands on top of yours in an effort to hold on to one of the limited poles in each train car. I had never been informed that the chances of seeing a pantless streaker on my own street were pretty high, or that the number of entirely destitute homeless people would be almost unbearable to witness.

But neither had I been informed of the magic of standing on a roof deck and seeing the city laid out before me, watching the cars drive up Broadway as far as the eye can see. I was not prepared for the way my heart would stall in awe every time I heard the traffic roaring down 5th Avenue, or the way that being a part of a close-knit community consisting of millions of individuals would affect my life. People stick together in New York City in a way that a lot of smaller communities fail to do. You know that here, somebody always has your back. They must, it is how we survive.

I had not expected to fall so deeply in love with this intensely flawed place, but in quick order, it happened. From day one, I knew that I was home.

Since I will likely spend most of my week preparing for this weekends getaway with my Sister, I decided to spend this past Saturday downtown with the hubs. He was already in that vicinity as he had an early meeting in Chelsea, so we agreed to meet around 3:30 at our favorite West Village Brunch spot and then move on to drinks and the Belmont Stakes with friends at a bar on West Fourth. Perfection.

In New York City in order to get most anywhere worth visiting, you have to be willing to submit yourself to time on the Subway, which is the actual worst in the Summer months. This is especially true when you live in the ‘upper’ neighborhoods of the city as we do because a taxi or Uber ride to lower Manhattan can cost a fortune.

Onto the train I marched, looking forward to the mimosa that had been calling my name all morning.

Anybody who has lived in the city knows that it is never quite that easy. Immediately, my train was diverted because of track construction; meaning I had to hike to the next nearest station in order to catch a new train to my destination.

Once I was securely settled on the second train, it occurred to me that this one was running local instead of express, meaning it would stop at every station along the way as opposed to skipping the less popular ones to move more quickly to the larger.

Ok, it’s fine. It will simply add another 20 minutes to my trip, but it’s Saturday. No rush.

That is until I glanced through the window just in time to see Christopher Street/Sheridan Square, my stop, fly past me in a wave of dust. WHY ARE WE NOT STOPPING?

According to the very late announcement from the conductor, the train was now running an express and would not stop at the local stops, of which Christopher is one. A 35-minute trip had turned into a 1.5-hour trip AND brunch was officially ending for the day. My day felt a bit ruined.

To say I felt angry and cheated was an understatement. I had started the trip in an amazing mood, ready to spend some time off with the Hubs and the people I love, only to end up missing half of my day off sitting on the train, battling one obstacle and delay after another. My mood had taken quite a turn for the worst.

When I finally reached my stop, I grumpily got off the train and walked up the stairs, going over the bitch-fest I was about to unleash on my husband in my mind and being generally negative. And then something beautiful happened.

I looked up, and there she was. Sarah Jessica Parker.

I had been hoping for this since I moved to the city over 8 years ago! If there is one celebrity that I have wanted to catch a glimpse of in real life, it is for sure SJP. I just adore her.

And just think, if the train had been on time, I wouldn’t have had that super cool experience.

I meeeannnn, I didn’t end up speaking to her. And, I probably only had her in my eyesight for 3 seconds or less, but it was still really cool. I stand by that. I made sunglass eye contact with SJP.

For the first time in the history of the MTA, the Saturday train delays made someone’s day.

*Disclaimer: I totally wanted to talk to her and gush about how much I loved her work, but in the interest of remaining a “real” New Yorker, I abstained. Gah

When I fly, it’s a production. I am not kidding when I say this; I imagine it is the equivalent of an OCD ritual that must be played out exactly each and every time. Let’s just say it involves a lot of alcohol and creepy leering at the flight crew as they board the plane prior to take off.

I would like to say that I don’t know where this fear and compulsion come from, but that would be a lie. My mother was terribly afraid of flying, and like most other things that scared her, she did her very best to make sure the fear was passed down to me.

Here is the thing. When I fly, that is when I truly feel the most alive. There is just something so beautiful about being absolutely terrified but powering through and facing it. When I step off of an airplane, somewhere in my brain a happy dance is happening and I want to run through the airport swinging from light posts and clicking my heels.

I love that feeling. Bravery. It makes me feel powerful in my life, and to be honest, sometimes I am actually grateful that my mother made me so fearful of so many things. It gives me the opportunity to feel brave and powerful on a level a lot of people may never experience. Sure, most of the time the feeling isn’t as intense as after a trip in the sky, but it still feels courageous.

The most gorgeous thing I ever did for myself was to decide that I didn’t want to live a stunted life out of fear. I trained myself to see my fear not as an obstacle, but as a tool to push myself to live a life that I love. I like to think it’s my superpower.

Something to think about…

We’ve found your new June beach read and you won’t want to miss it! Work Party by the gorgeous Jaclyn Johnson of Create & Cultivate is the story of one woman’s rise from fired corporate employee and failed business partner to the owner and CEO of one of the most lucrative and inspiring women’s social platform.

TRUST ME… YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK!

THE ART OF BOOK BINGE – WORK PARTY BY JACLYN JOHNSON – IMAGE COURTESY OF SMITH HOUSE PHOTO

You may be familiar with the name Jaclyn Johnson, especially if you adore a tough woman. As the owner & CEO of the much talked about community Create & Cultivate, Jaclyn has been through ups and downs, failures and successes, and devastating and beautiful experiences; and she has turned each and every one of these lessons into teaching moments used to move and motivate other entrepreneurs and business owners.

THE ART OF BOOK BINGE – WORK PARTY BY JACLYN JOHNSON – IMAGE COURTESY OF SMITH HOUSE PHOTO

A smart book, filled with genuine business love and the most wonderful advice, you won’t regret spending your free time enjoying this good read. Pick it up here and tell us your comments below!

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about honesty and about how much is too much. Sure, we all claim that we are honest people and we easily adjust our level of trust for others based on our experiences with them, but in the big scheme of things, when is dishonesty or omission okay?

Three weeks ago, a business owner and colleague that I have worked and grown with over the years shared an incredibly frank and honest post on Facebook that provided a lot of insight into her personal life and thoughts. I hate to admit it, but I was a little bit taken aback. Not because I was judging her on any level, hey, I have my own personal stuff that I don’t necessarily talk about on social media. Don’t we all? It was because I knew that the information was so personal, that now, every time I saw her, in life or in business, that is what would immediately come to mind. And I hated that on a purely selfish level. I suddenly wished that people would hold back a bit on the honesty.

This experience had me wondering,

when is it appropriate to share your most

personal thoughts, and to who is it acceptable? 

Personally, I like to be open and relatable in my business;  it’s important to me to form unique and lasting connections with the people I come in contact with frequently. However, I am more comfortable keeping the really personal and life-changing moments and experiences to myself. There are things that I keep close to the vest or share only with my loved ones. Some things are just for you, and not everyone that you come in contact with has earned the right to that information.

Tell me, am I right or wrong? How much sharing is too much? Leave your thoughts and opinion in the comments below.

When I was 5, my Father went on a business trip, and as per our usual routine, returned with a souvenir of his time away. Typically business trip gifts consisted of tiny trinkets from lands afar, at least to my inexperienced mind; this time was no different. However, what was different was the impact that this trips gift would have on my life.

A small, metal Statue of Liberty figurine. Small and indiscreet enough to fit in the wooden display shelf that I proudly hung above my bed, I remember nights when I would pull her down and carefully examine all of the grooves in her dress. I would try to read and understand the minute letters scrolled on her tablet, would run my fingers over the sharp point in her crown. I had fallen in love with a city, based solely on my infatuation with this little silver statue, and I didn’t even know it yet.

Over time, I would ask questions about my new found silver lady. Where was she in real life, what was that place like, how could I get there? As I got older and learned more about the answers to these questions, I knew that someday, I would live there. I would be one of the stories that were so often tossed around in literature and on TV about the girl who moved to the big city, and had quite a big life, as it were. I made it my goal to move to NYC, and finally, at the age of 32, I made it happen.

While New York City, in my opinion, is everything that they tell you it is, it is so much more. There are many things that they don’t tell you. Many things that you have to learn and pick up on your own. But the moral of the story is the same. There is an energy that pulses in this city that you will not find anywhere else. This is my journal of that pulse. My experience in this foreign place.

Firstly, let me say, there are way more things that you don’t hear about New York than that you do. For instance, nobody told me that the Subway in the Summertime is the most miserable place you would ever want to be, full of angry, hot New Yorkers dealing with yet another MTA delay and laying their sweaty hands on top of yours in an effort to hold on to one of the limited poles in each train car. I had never been informed that the chances of seeing a pantless streaker on my own street were pretty high, or that the number of entirely destitute homeless people would be almost unbearable to witness.

But neither had I been informed of the magic of standing on a roof deck and seeing the city laid out before me, watching the cars drive up Broadway as far as the eye can see. I was not prepared for the way my heart would stall in awe every time I heard the traffic roaring down 5th Avenue, or the way that being a part of a close-knit community consisting of millions of individuals would affect my life. People stick together in New York City in a way that a lot of smaller communities fail to do. You know that here, somebody always has your back. They must, it is how we survive.

I had not expected to fall so deeply in love with this intensely flawed place, but in quick order, it happened. From day one, I knew that I was home.

Whether you are hosting an event for friends, a girls night in, or want to try something a little bit more interesting on a Thursday night, it’s always a good excuse to create a beautiful and well thought out cheese board. Trust us; you won’t be sorry. Don’t know where to start? These are our tips for creating a cheese plate that will please.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MILK
Sure, we all know and love cows milk, but it’s a good rule of thumb to cover all of your bases when creating the ultimate cheese board. Give sheep milk a try, or a nice rolled herb goat cheese. Mix it up with both pasteurized and unpasteurized options to give your board a bit of flair.

TEXTURE IS KEY
If you like texture, this is for you. While cheese comes in many ages and textures, it is typically well received to incorporate a bit of variety from soft, spreadable and creamy, to firm, semi-hard, hard, crumbly, and aged.

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
There are cheese options for every palette, so while you want to keep your board to around 3-5 options, allow yourself to enjoy the flavor journey. Choose from sharp, nutty, grassy, bright, briny, sweet, pungent, mild, salty, buttery, tangy, and more.

ADD SAUCES & ACCOMPANIMENTS
Pair your cheese options with intentional and beautiful accouterments that are both pretty and tasty. We like to include meats such as prosciutto, serrano ham, and salami as well as garnish additions like olives, pickle slices, and jams and sauces. One of our all-time favorite pairings is a soft blue cheese paired with honey and ham.

When I fly, it’s a production. I am not kidding when I say this; I imagine it is the equivalent of an OCD ritual that must be played out exactly each and every time. Let’s just say it involves a lot of alcohol and creepy leering at the flight crew as they board the plane prior to take off.

I would like to say that I don’t know where this fear and compulsion come from, but that would be a lie. My mother was terribly afraid of flying, and like most other things that scared her, she did her very best to make sure the fear was passed down to me.

Here is the thing. When I fly, that is when I truly feel the most alive. There is just something so beautiful about being absolutely terrified but powering through and facing it. When I step off of an airplane, somewhere in my brain a happy dance is happening and I want to run through the airport swinging from light posts and clicking my heels.

I love that feeling. Bravery. It makes me feel powerful in my life, and to be honest, sometimes I am actually grateful that my mother made me so fearful of so many things. It gives me the opportunity to feel brave and powerful on a level a lot of people may never experience. Sure, most of the time the feeling isn’t as intense as after a trip in the sky, but it still feels courageous.

The most gorgeous thing I ever did for myself was to decide that I didn’t want to live a stunted life out of fear. I trained myself to see my fear not as an obstacle, but as a tool to push myself to live a life that I love. I like to think it’s my superpower.

Something to think about…

We’ve found your new June beach read and you won’t want to miss it! Work Party by the gorgeous Jaclyn Johnson of Create & Cultivate is the story of one woman’s rise from fired corporate employee and failed business partner to the owner and CEO of one of the most lucrative and inspiring women’s social platform.

TRUST ME… YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK!

THE ART OF BOOK BINGE – WORK PARTY BY JACLYN JOHNSON – IMAGE COURTESY OF SMITH HOUSE PHOTO

You may be familiar with the name Jaclyn Johnson, especially if you adore a tough woman. As the owner & CEO of the much talked about community Create & Cultivate, Jaclyn has been through ups and downs, failures and successes, and devastating and beautiful experiences; and she has turned each and every one of these lessons into teaching moments used to move and motivate other entrepreneurs and business owners.

THE ART OF BOOK BINGE – WORK PARTY BY JACLYN JOHNSON – IMAGE COURTESY OF SMITH HOUSE PHOTO

A smart book, filled with genuine business love and the most wonderful advice, you won’t regret spending your free time enjoying this good read. Pick it up here and tell us your comments below!

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about honesty and about how much is too much. Sure, we all claim that we are honest people and we easily adjust our level of trust for others based on our experiences with them, but in the big scheme of things, when is dishonesty or omission okay?

Three weeks ago, a business owner and colleague that I have worked and grown with over the years shared an incredibly frank and honest post on Facebook that provided a lot of insight into her personal life and thoughts. I hate to admit it, but I was a little bit taken aback. Not because I was judging her on any level, hey, I have my own personal stuff that I don’t necessarily talk about on social media. Don’t we all? It was because I knew that the information was so personal, that now, every time I saw her, in life or in business, that is what would immediately come to mind. And I hated that on a purely selfish level. I suddenly wished that people would hold back a bit on the honesty.

This experience had me wondering,

when is it appropriate to share your most

personal thoughts, and to who is it acceptable? 

Personally, I like to be open and relatable in my business;  it’s important to me to form unique and lasting connections with the people I come in contact with frequently. However, I am more comfortable keeping the really personal and life-changing moments and experiences to myself. There are things that I keep close to the vest or share only with my loved ones. Some things are just for you, and not everyone that you come in contact with has earned the right to that information.

Tell me, am I right or wrong? How much sharing is too much? Leave your thoughts and opinion in the comments below.

When I was 5, my Father went on a business trip, and as per our usual routine, returned with a souvenir of his time away. Typically business trip gifts consisted of tiny trinkets from lands afar, at least to my inexperienced mind; this time was no different. However, what was different was the impact that this trips gift would have on my life.

A small, metal Statue of Liberty figurine. Small and indiscreet enough to fit in the wooden display shelf that I proudly hung above my bed, I remember nights when I would pull her down and carefully examine all of the grooves in her dress. I would try to read and understand the minute letters scrolled on her tablet, would run my fingers over the sharp point in her crown. I had fallen in love with a city, based solely on my infatuation with this little silver statue, and I didn’t even know it yet.

Over time, I would ask questions about my new found silver lady. Where was she in real life, what was that place like, how could I get there? As I got older and learned more about the answers to these questions, I knew that someday, I would live there. I would be one of the stories that were so often tossed around in literature and on TV about the girl who moved to the big city, and had quite a big life, as it were. I made it my goal to move to NYC, and finally, at the age of 32, I made it happen.

While New York City, in my opinion, is everything that they tell you it is, it is so much more. There are many things that they don’t tell you. Many things that you have to learn and pick up on your own. But the moral of the story is the same. There is an energy that pulses in this city that you will not find anywhere else. This is my journal of that pulse. My experience in this foreign place.

Firstly, let me say, there are way more things that you don’t hear about New York than that you do. For instance, nobody told me that the Subway in the Summertime is the most miserable place you would ever want to be, full of angry, hot New Yorkers dealing with yet another MTA delay and laying their sweaty hands on top of yours in an effort to hold on to one of the limited poles in each train car. I had never been informed that the chances of seeing a pantless streaker on my own street were pretty high, or that the number of entirely destitute homeless people would be almost unbearable to witness.

But neither had I been informed of the magic of standing on a roof deck and seeing the city laid out before me, watching the cars drive up Broadway as far as the eye can see. I was not prepared for the way my heart would stall in awe every time I heard the traffic roaring down 5th Avenue, or the way that being a part of a close-knit community consisting of millions of individuals would affect my life. People stick together in New York City in a way that a lot of smaller communities fail to do. You know that here, somebody always has your back. They must, it is how we survive.

I had not expected to fall so deeply in love with this intensely flawed place, but in quick order, it happened. From day one, I knew that I was home.

Whether you are hosting an event for friends, a girls night in, or want to try something a little bit more interesting on a Thursday night, it’s always a good excuse to create a beautiful and well thought out cheese board. Trust us; you won’t be sorry. Don’t know where to start? These are our tips for creating a cheese plate that will please.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MILK
Sure, we all know and love cows milk, but it’s a good rule of thumb to cover all of your bases when creating the ultimate cheese board. Give sheep milk a try, or a nice rolled herb goat cheese. Mix it up with both pasteurized and unpasteurized options to give your board a bit of flair.

TEXTURE IS KEY
If you like texture, this is for you. While cheese comes in many ages and textures, it is typically well received to incorporate a bit of variety from soft, spreadable and creamy, to firm, semi-hard, hard, crumbly, and aged.

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
There are cheese options for every palette, so while you want to keep your board to around 3-5 options, allow yourself to enjoy the flavor journey. Choose from sharp, nutty, grassy, bright, briny, sweet, pungent, mild, salty, buttery, tangy, and more.

ADD SAUCES & ACCOMPANIMENTS
Pair your cheese options with intentional and beautiful accouterments that are both pretty and tasty. We like to include meats such as prosciutto, serrano ham, and salami as well as garnish additions like olives, pickle slices, and jams and sauces. One of our all-time favorite pairings is a soft blue cheese paired with honey and ham.

Cooking was never my forte. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat and quite often wished that I could do more in the kitchen, but it wasn’t a talent that I possessed. Maybe it’s an issue of patience, which I would not consider my strongest asset; however, a few years ago, attempting to practice better self-awareness, I decided to try to change that.

One of the wonderful things about living in New York City is the number of classes and activities available to its residents. Having heard good things from friends and family who took cooking classes, ranging from knife skills to advanced French cooking, I decided to try my hand at something simple that would hopefully allow me to begin cooking and baking at home. I learned a lot in my class, the surprising part is that it wasn’t all about cooking or ingredients.

1. There is something incredibly stress relieving about chopping produce. Ok, don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t quite as physically exhausting as, say, a boxing class, but I did find that the amount of concentration required to cut vegetables and fruit into small pieces is a lot like meditation.

2. I don’t try enough new things. Taking this cooking class helped me to realize that there are so many things in the world that I could probably do if I were only to try. I have spent years of my life thinking that I was a terrible cook, but once I got a bit of instruction and learned a few easy basics, a world of recipes opened up to me. It made me wonder what else I was capable of, even if I didn’t know it yet. What a sense of accomplishment!

3. Patience and the ability to compartmentalize are essential when making food and in life. Every recipe has a structure and purpose, and if followed patiently, creates something gorgeous. If I could transition that attitude into my daily life, things would be much more comfortable and less stressful. It’s about thinking through the recipe and following it even when you want to rush to the end.

Interestingly enough, after gaining a bit of confidence in the kitchen, it has become one of my favorite things to do, especially on a cold Winter evening in the city. You can’t beat it.

Find cooking classes in NYC & Beyond here.

We’ve found your new June beach read and you won’t want to miss it! Work Party by the gorgeous Jaclyn Johnson of Create & Cultivate is the story of one woman’s rise from fired corporate employee and failed business partner to the owner and CEO of one of the most lucrative and inspiring women’s social platform.

TRUST ME… YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK!

THE ART OF BOOK BINGE – WORK PARTY BY JACLYN JOHNSON – IMAGE COURTESY OF SMITH HOUSE PHOTO

You may be familiar with the name Jaclyn Johnson, especially if you adore a tough woman. As the owner & CEO of the much talked about community Create & Cultivate, Jaclyn has been through ups and downs, failures and successes, and devastating and beautiful experiences; and she has turned each and every one of these lessons into teaching moments used to move and motivate other entrepreneurs and business owners.

THE ART OF BOOK BINGE – WORK PARTY BY JACLYN JOHNSON – IMAGE COURTESY OF SMITH HOUSE PHOTO

A smart book, filled with genuine business love and the most wonderful advice, you won’t regret spending your free time enjoying this good read. Pick it up here and tell us your comments below!

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about honesty and about how much is too much. Sure, we all claim that we are honest people and we easily adjust our level of trust for others based on our experiences with them, but in the big scheme of things, when is dishonesty or omission okay?

Three weeks ago, a business owner and colleague that I have worked and grown with over the years shared an incredibly frank and honest post on Facebook that provided a lot of insight into her personal life and thoughts. I hate to admit it, but I was a little bit taken aback. Not because I was judging her on any level, hey, I have my own personal stuff that I don’t necessarily talk about on social media. Don’t we all? It was because I knew that the information was so personal, that now, every time I saw her, in life or in business, that is what would immediately come to mind. And I hated that on a purely selfish level. I suddenly wished that people would hold back a bit on the honesty.

This experience had me wondering,

when is it appropriate to share your most

personal thoughts, and to who is it acceptable? 

Personally, I like to be open and relatable in my business;  it’s important to me to form unique and lasting connections with the people I come in contact with frequently. However, I am more comfortable keeping the really personal and life-changing moments and experiences to myself. There are things that I keep close to the vest or share only with my loved ones. Some things are just for you, and not everyone that you come in contact with has earned the right to that information.

Tell me, am I right or wrong? How much sharing is too much? Leave your thoughts and opinion in the comments below.

When I was 5, my Father went on a business trip, and as per our usual routine, returned with a souvenir of his time away. Typically business trip gifts consisted of tiny trinkets from lands afar, at least to my inexperienced mind; this time was no different. However, what was different was the impact that this trips gift would have on my life.

A small, metal Statue of Liberty figurine. Small and indiscreet enough to fit in the wooden display shelf that I proudly hung above my bed, I remember nights when I would pull her down and carefully examine all of the grooves in her dress. I would try to read and understand the minute letters scrolled on her tablet, would run my fingers over the sharp point in her crown. I had fallen in love with a city, based solely on my infatuation with this little silver statue, and I didn’t even know it yet.

Over time, I would ask questions about my new found silver lady. Where was she in real life, what was that place like, how could I get there? As I got older and learned more about the answers to these questions, I knew that someday, I would live there. I would be one of the stories that were so often tossed around in literature and on TV about the girl who moved to the big city, and had quite a big life, as it were. I made it my goal to move to NYC, and finally, at the age of 32, I made it happen.

While New York City, in my opinion, is everything that they tell you it is, it is so much more. There are many things that they don’t tell you. Many things that you have to learn and pick up on your own. But the moral of the story is the same. There is an energy that pulses in this city that you will not find anywhere else. This is my journal of that pulse. My experience in this foreign place.

Firstly, let me say, there are way more things that you don’t hear about New York than that you do. For instance, nobody told me that the Subway in the Summertime is the most miserable place you would ever want to be, full of angry, hot New Yorkers dealing with yet another MTA delay and laying their sweaty hands on top of yours in an effort to hold on to one of the limited poles in each train car. I had never been informed that the chances of seeing a pantless streaker on my own street were pretty high, or that the number of entirely destitute homeless people would be almost unbearable to witness.

But neither had I been informed of the magic of standing on a roof deck and seeing the city laid out before me, watching the cars drive up Broadway as far as the eye can see. I was not prepared for the way my heart would stall in awe every time I heard the traffic roaring down 5th Avenue, or the way that being a part of a close-knit community consisting of millions of individuals would affect my life. People stick together in New York City in a way that a lot of smaller communities fail to do. You know that here, somebody always has your back. They must, it is how we survive.

I had not expected to fall so deeply in love with this intensely flawed place, but in quick order, it happened. From day one, I knew that I was home.

Whether you are hosting an event for friends, a girls night in, or want to try something a little bit more interesting on a Thursday night, it’s always a good excuse to create a beautiful and well thought out cheese board. Trust us; you won’t be sorry. Don’t know where to start? These are our tips for creating a cheese plate that will please.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MILK
Sure, we all know and love cows milk, but it’s a good rule of thumb to cover all of your bases when creating the ultimate cheese board. Give sheep milk a try, or a nice rolled herb goat cheese. Mix it up with both pasteurized and unpasteurized options to give your board a bit of flair.

TEXTURE IS KEY
If you like texture, this is for you. While cheese comes in many ages and textures, it is typically well received to incorporate a bit of variety from soft, spreadable and creamy, to firm, semi-hard, hard, crumbly, and aged.

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
There are cheese options for every palette, so while you want to keep your board to around 3-5 options, allow yourself to enjoy the flavor journey. Choose from sharp, nutty, grassy, bright, briny, sweet, pungent, mild, salty, buttery, tangy, and more.

ADD SAUCES & ACCOMPANIMENTS
Pair your cheese options with intentional and beautiful accouterments that are both pretty and tasty. We like to include meats such as prosciutto, serrano ham, and salami as well as garnish additions like olives, pickle slices, and jams and sauces. One of our all-time favorite pairings is a soft blue cheese paired with honey and ham.

Cooking was never my forte. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat and quite often wished that I could do more in the kitchen, but it wasn’t a talent that I possessed. Maybe it’s an issue of patience, which I would not consider my strongest asset; however, a few years ago, attempting to practice better self-awareness, I decided to try to change that.

One of the wonderful things about living in New York City is the number of classes and activities available to its residents. Having heard good things from friends and family who took cooking classes, ranging from knife skills to advanced French cooking, I decided to try my hand at something simple that would hopefully allow me to begin cooking and baking at home. I learned a lot in my class, the surprising part is that it wasn’t all about cooking or ingredients.

1. There is something incredibly stress relieving about chopping produce. Ok, don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t quite as physically exhausting as, say, a boxing class, but I did find that the amount of concentration required to cut vegetables and fruit into small pieces is a lot like meditation.

2. I don’t try enough new things. Taking this cooking class helped me to realize that there are so many things in the world that I could probably do if I were only to try. I have spent years of my life thinking that I was a terrible cook, but once I got a bit of instruction and learned a few easy basics, a world of recipes opened up to me. It made me wonder what else I was capable of, even if I didn’t know it yet. What a sense of accomplishment!

3. Patience and the ability to compartmentalize are essential when making food and in life. Every recipe has a structure and purpose, and if followed patiently, creates something gorgeous. If I could transition that attitude into my daily life, things would be much more comfortable and less stressful. It’s about thinking through the recipe and following it even when you want to rush to the end.

Interestingly enough, after gaining a bit of confidence in the kitchen, it has become one of my favorite things to do, especially on a cold Winter evening in the city. You can’t beat it.

Find cooking classes in NYC & Beyond here.

Once upon a Thursday night, somewhere between Thompson & Houston and 3 gin and tonics, I got to thinking about the New York City bar scene. Fickle little thing that it is.

You have your Upper East Side brick and leather filled lounges and your Lower East Side hipster places where the only options are $25 cocktails and experimental Hors d’Oeuvre. You’ll find Nightclubs & Rooftops galore in Tribeca, Sports Bars & Themed Spots in Midtown, and beautifully appointed Wine Bars & foodie inspired Pubs in the West Village.

But where does one go when what they really want is a 16 ounce craft IPA in a dimly lit, dingy room filled with all types of people and styles;  from the NYC undergrad to the somewhat incognito movie star? The NYC Dive Bar.

THE NYC DIVE BAR

I just adore a good dive bar, actually, I must admit, it can be one of my favorite ways to spend a New York City evening. And, because I can easily recall the days when, as a NYC newbie or visitor, I longed for a relaxed atmosphere to unwind after a busy day of big city hustle and bustle, I want to share my go to dive bars with you.

  1. The Four-Faced Liar • West Village (165 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014) – The Four-Faced liar is one of those no-frills, brick-lined bars where you feel like you are drinking a craft beer in your own living room. The staff is experienced and fast, if a bit gruff at times, but never take themselves too seriously. If you want a true New York City dive bar experience that allows you to rub elbows with NYC regulars and West Village residents, give this spot a try.
  2. Old Rabbit Club • NYU – West Village (124 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012) – This hidden gem serves an array of somewhat pretentious craft beers and wines in an old school, basement storefront. Near to NYU, the tiny bar holds only about 30 people at a time, but if you get there early enough to grab a front row seat at the bar, you won’t be disappointed in the friendly, knowledgeable bartenders, beer and wine options, or the 80’s punk music played at just the right decibel.
  3. The Canal Bar • Gowanus – Brooklyn (270 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – Don’t be fooled by the initially small look of this bar from the front door. There is a super cute, string light filled back patio and a pool table toward the back. Also, the popcorn is free.
  4. Spring Lounge • Nolita (48 Spring St, New York, NY 10012) – Nolita, a neighborhood just on the brink of trendy Soho, is where you’ll find this NYC resident favorite. There is nothing special about this bar in terms of aesthetic, but you will get a great beer or cocktail all while doing some pretty awesome people watching. This is my definite pick for a weekend day drinking sesh.
  5. Dive Bar • Lincoln Center • Upper West Side (732 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025) – This is a favorite during Ballet season as it is near enough to Lincoln Center to stop for a pint or glass of wine prior to the rise of the curtain.

If you find your way to New York City, give these wonderful places a quick visit. We hope to see you there!

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about honesty and about how much is too much. Sure, we all claim that we are honest people and we easily adjust our level of trust for others based on our experiences with them, but in the big scheme of things, when is dishonesty or omission okay?

Three weeks ago, a business owner and colleague that I have worked and grown with over the years shared an incredibly frank and honest post on Facebook that provided a lot of insight into her personal life and thoughts. I hate to admit it, but I was a little bit taken aback. Not because I was judging her on any level, hey, I have my own personal stuff that I don’t necessarily talk about on social media. Don’t we all? It was because I knew that the information was so personal, that now, every time I saw her, in life or in business, that is what would immediately come to mind. And I hated that on a purely selfish level. I suddenly wished that people would hold back a bit on the honesty.

This experience had me wondering,

when is it appropriate to share your most

personal thoughts, and to who is it acceptable? 

Personally, I like to be open and relatable in my business;  it’s important to me to form unique and lasting connections with the people I come in contact with frequently. However, I am more comfortable keeping the really personal and life-changing moments and experiences to myself. There are things that I keep close to the vest or share only with my loved ones. Some things are just for you, and not everyone that you come in contact with has earned the right to that information.

Tell me, am I right or wrong? How much sharing is too much? Leave your thoughts and opinion in the comments below.

When I was 5, my Father went on a business trip, and as per our usual routine, returned with a souvenir of his time away. Typically business trip gifts consisted of tiny trinkets from lands afar, at least to my inexperienced mind; this time was no different. However, what was different was the impact that this trips gift would have on my life.

A small, metal Statue of Liberty figurine. Small and indiscreet enough to fit in the wooden display shelf that I proudly hung above my bed, I remember nights when I would pull her down and carefully examine all of the grooves in her dress. I would try to read and understand the minute letters scrolled on her tablet, would run my fingers over the sharp point in her crown. I had fallen in love with a city, based solely on my infatuation with this little silver statue, and I didn’t even know it yet.

Over time, I would ask questions about my new found silver lady. Where was she in real life, what was that place like, how could I get there? As I got older and learned more about the answers to these questions, I knew that someday, I would live there. I would be one of the stories that were so often tossed around in literature and on TV about the girl who moved to the big city, and had quite a big life, as it were. I made it my goal to move to NYC, and finally, at the age of 32, I made it happen.

While New York City, in my opinion, is everything that they tell you it is, it is so much more. There are many things that they don’t tell you. Many things that you have to learn and pick up on your own. But the moral of the story is the same. There is an energy that pulses in this city that you will not find anywhere else. This is my journal of that pulse. My experience in this foreign place.

Firstly, let me say, there are way more things that you don’t hear about New York than that you do. For instance, nobody told me that the Subway in the Summertime is the most miserable place you would ever want to be, full of angry, hot New Yorkers dealing with yet another MTA delay and laying their sweaty hands on top of yours in an effort to hold on to one of the limited poles in each train car. I had never been informed that the chances of seeing a pantless streaker on my own street were pretty high, or that the number of entirely destitute homeless people would be almost unbearable to witness.

But neither had I been informed of the magic of standing on a roof deck and seeing the city laid out before me, watching the cars drive up Broadway as far as the eye can see. I was not prepared for the way my heart would stall in awe every time I heard the traffic roaring down 5th Avenue, or the way that being a part of a close-knit community consisting of millions of individuals would affect my life. People stick together in New York City in a way that a lot of smaller communities fail to do. You know that here, somebody always has your back. They must, it is how we survive.

I had not expected to fall so deeply in love with this intensely flawed place, but in quick order, it happened. From day one, I knew that I was home.

Whether you are hosting an event for friends, a girls night in, or want to try something a little bit more interesting on a Thursday night, it’s always a good excuse to create a beautiful and well thought out cheese board. Trust us; you won’t be sorry. Don’t know where to start? These are our tips for creating a cheese plate that will please.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MILK
Sure, we all know and love cows milk, but it’s a good rule of thumb to cover all of your bases when creating the ultimate cheese board. Give sheep milk a try, or a nice rolled herb goat cheese. Mix it up with both pasteurized and unpasteurized options to give your board a bit of flair.

TEXTURE IS KEY
If you like texture, this is for you. While cheese comes in many ages and textures, it is typically well received to incorporate a bit of variety from soft, spreadable and creamy, to firm, semi-hard, hard, crumbly, and aged.

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
There are cheese options for every palette, so while you want to keep your board to around 3-5 options, allow yourself to enjoy the flavor journey. Choose from sharp, nutty, grassy, bright, briny, sweet, pungent, mild, salty, buttery, tangy, and more.

ADD SAUCES & ACCOMPANIMENTS
Pair your cheese options with intentional and beautiful accouterments that are both pretty and tasty. We like to include meats such as prosciutto, serrano ham, and salami as well as garnish additions like olives, pickle slices, and jams and sauces. One of our all-time favorite pairings is a soft blue cheese paired with honey and ham.

Cooking was never my forte. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat and quite often wished that I could do more in the kitchen, but it wasn’t a talent that I possessed. Maybe it’s an issue of patience, which I would not consider my strongest asset; however, a few years ago, attempting to practice better self-awareness, I decided to try to change that.

One of the wonderful things about living in New York City is the number of classes and activities available to its residents. Having heard good things from friends and family who took cooking classes, ranging from knife skills to advanced French cooking, I decided to try my hand at something simple that would hopefully allow me to begin cooking and baking at home. I learned a lot in my class, the surprising part is that it wasn’t all about cooking or ingredients.

1. There is something incredibly stress relieving about chopping produce. Ok, don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t quite as physically exhausting as, say, a boxing class, but I did find that the amount of concentration required to cut vegetables and fruit into small pieces is a lot like meditation.

2. I don’t try enough new things. Taking this cooking class helped me to realize that there are so many things in the world that I could probably do if I were only to try. I have spent years of my life thinking that I was a terrible cook, but once I got a bit of instruction and learned a few easy basics, a world of recipes opened up to me. It made me wonder what else I was capable of, even if I didn’t know it yet. What a sense of accomplishment!

3. Patience and the ability to compartmentalize are essential when making food and in life. Every recipe has a structure and purpose, and if followed patiently, creates something gorgeous. If I could transition that attitude into my daily life, things would be much more comfortable and less stressful. It’s about thinking through the recipe and following it even when you want to rush to the end.

Interestingly enough, after gaining a bit of confidence in the kitchen, it has become one of my favorite things to do, especially on a cold Winter evening in the city. You can’t beat it.

Find cooking classes in NYC & Beyond here.

Once upon a Thursday night, somewhere between Thompson & Houston and 3 gin and tonics, I got to thinking about the New York City bar scene. Fickle little thing that it is.

You have your Upper East Side brick and leather filled lounges and your Lower East Side hipster places where the only options are $25 cocktails and experimental Hors d’Oeuvre. You’ll find Nightclubs & Rooftops galore in Tribeca, Sports Bars & Themed Spots in Midtown, and beautifully appointed Wine Bars & foodie inspired Pubs in the West Village.

But where does one go when what they really want is a 16 ounce craft IPA in a dimly lit, dingy room filled with all types of people and styles;  from the NYC undergrad to the somewhat incognito movie star? The NYC Dive Bar.

THE NYC DIVE BAR

I just adore a good dive bar, actually, I must admit, it can be one of my favorite ways to spend a New York City evening. And, because I can easily recall the days when, as a NYC newbie or visitor, I longed for a relaxed atmosphere to unwind after a busy day of big city hustle and bustle, I want to share my go to dive bars with you.

  1. The Four-Faced Liar • West Village (165 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014) – The Four-Faced liar is one of those no-frills, brick-lined bars where you feel like you are drinking a craft beer in your own living room. The staff is experienced and fast, if a bit gruff at times, but never take themselves too seriously. If you want a true New York City dive bar experience that allows you to rub elbows with NYC regulars and West Village residents, give this spot a try.
  2. Old Rabbit Club • NYU – West Village (124 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012) – This hidden gem serves an array of somewhat pretentious craft beers and wines in an old school, basement storefront. Near to NYU, the tiny bar holds only about 30 people at a time, but if you get there early enough to grab a front row seat at the bar, you won’t be disappointed in the friendly, knowledgeable bartenders, beer and wine options, or the 80’s punk music played at just the right decibel.
  3. The Canal Bar • Gowanus – Brooklyn (270 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – Don’t be fooled by the initially small look of this bar from the front door. There is a super cute, string light filled back patio and a pool table toward the back. Also, the popcorn is free.
  4. Spring Lounge • Nolita (48 Spring St, New York, NY 10012) – Nolita, a neighborhood just on the brink of trendy Soho, is where you’ll find this NYC resident favorite. There is nothing special about this bar in terms of aesthetic, but you will get a great beer or cocktail all while doing some pretty awesome people watching. This is my definite pick for a weekend day drinking sesh.
  5. Dive Bar • Lincoln Center • Upper West Side (732 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025) – This is a favorite during Ballet season as it is near enough to Lincoln Center to stop for a pint or glass of wine prior to the rise of the curtain.

If you find your way to New York City, give these wonderful places a quick visit. We hope to see you there!

How to Make It

Step 1

Line 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with wax paper; lightly grease and flour wax paper. Set pans aside.

Step 2

Stir together the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Step 3

Crack 3 Large eggs into a large mixing bowl and add the following to the bowl:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until blended. Fold in the shredded carrot and add the following ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut

Pour batter into previously prepared cake pans.

Step 4

Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Once removed, cool still in the pans on wire racks 15 minutes.

Step 5

After 15 minutes, remove cakes from the pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Step 6

Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Leave it plain or delicately decorate with walnuts, pistachios,  piped frosting,  or sprinkled nutmeg.

 

** Looking to add a bit of flair to your cake, no matter the season or weather? Add extra spice, rum, or brown butter during the cold months. During the spring or Summer, don’t be afraid to decorate it with gorgeous floral elements or maybe even hints of seasonal fruit.

When I was 5, my Father went on a business trip, and as per our usual routine, returned with a souvenir of his time away. Typically business trip gifts consisted of tiny trinkets from lands afar, at least to my inexperienced mind; this time was no different. However, what was different was the impact that this trips gift would have on my life.

A small, metal Statue of Liberty figurine. Small and indiscreet enough to fit in the wooden display shelf that I proudly hung above my bed, I remember nights when I would pull her down and carefully examine all of the grooves in her dress. I would try to read and understand the minute letters scrolled on her tablet, would run my fingers over the sharp point in her crown. I had fallen in love with a city, based solely on my infatuation with this little silver statue, and I didn’t even know it yet.

Over time, I would ask questions about my new found silver lady. Where was she in real life, what was that place like, how could I get there? As I got older and learned more about the answers to these questions, I knew that someday, I would live there. I would be one of the stories that were so often tossed around in literature and on TV about the girl who moved to the big city, and had quite a big life, as it were. I made it my goal to move to NYC, and finally, at the age of 32, I made it happen.

While New York City, in my opinion, is everything that they tell you it is, it is so much more. There are many things that they don’t tell you. Many things that you have to learn and pick up on your own. But the moral of the story is the same. There is an energy that pulses in this city that you will not find anywhere else. This is my journal of that pulse. My experience in this foreign place.

Firstly, let me say, there are way more things that you don’t hear about New York than that you do. For instance, nobody told me that the Subway in the Summertime is the most miserable place you would ever want to be, full of angry, hot New Yorkers dealing with yet another MTA delay and laying their sweaty hands on top of yours in an effort to hold on to one of the limited poles in each train car. I had never been informed that the chances of seeing a pantless streaker on my own street were pretty high, or that the number of entirely destitute homeless people would be almost unbearable to witness.

But neither had I been informed of the magic of standing on a roof deck and seeing the city laid out before me, watching the cars drive up Broadway as far as the eye can see. I was not prepared for the way my heart would stall in awe every time I heard the traffic roaring down 5th Avenue, or the way that being a part of a close-knit community consisting of millions of individuals would affect my life. People stick together in New York City in a way that a lot of smaller communities fail to do. You know that here, somebody always has your back. They must, it is how we survive.

I had not expected to fall so deeply in love with this intensely flawed place, but in quick order, it happened. From day one, I knew that I was home.

Whether you are hosting an event for friends, a girls night in, or want to try something a little bit more interesting on a Thursday night, it’s always a good excuse to create a beautiful and well thought out cheese board. Trust us; you won’t be sorry. Don’t know where to start? These are our tips for creating a cheese plate that will please.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MILK
Sure, we all know and love cows milk, but it’s a good rule of thumb to cover all of your bases when creating the ultimate cheese board. Give sheep milk a try, or a nice rolled herb goat cheese. Mix it up with both pasteurized and unpasteurized options to give your board a bit of flair.

TEXTURE IS KEY
If you like texture, this is for you. While cheese comes in many ages and textures, it is typically well received to incorporate a bit of variety from soft, spreadable and creamy, to firm, semi-hard, hard, crumbly, and aged.

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
There are cheese options for every palette, so while you want to keep your board to around 3-5 options, allow yourself to enjoy the flavor journey. Choose from sharp, nutty, grassy, bright, briny, sweet, pungent, mild, salty, buttery, tangy, and more.

ADD SAUCES & ACCOMPANIMENTS
Pair your cheese options with intentional and beautiful accouterments that are both pretty and tasty. We like to include meats such as prosciutto, serrano ham, and salami as well as garnish additions like olives, pickle slices, and jams and sauces. One of our all-time favorite pairings is a soft blue cheese paired with honey and ham.

Cooking was never my forte. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat and quite often wished that I could do more in the kitchen, but it wasn’t a talent that I possessed. Maybe it’s an issue of patience, which I would not consider my strongest asset; however, a few years ago, attempting to practice better self-awareness, I decided to try to change that.

One of the wonderful things about living in New York City is the number of classes and activities available to its residents. Having heard good things from friends and family who took cooking classes, ranging from knife skills to advanced French cooking, I decided to try my hand at something simple that would hopefully allow me to begin cooking and baking at home. I learned a lot in my class, the surprising part is that it wasn’t all about cooking or ingredients.

1. There is something incredibly stress relieving about chopping produce. Ok, don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t quite as physically exhausting as, say, a boxing class, but I did find that the amount of concentration required to cut vegetables and fruit into small pieces is a lot like meditation.

2. I don’t try enough new things. Taking this cooking class helped me to realize that there are so many things in the world that I could probably do if I were only to try. I have spent years of my life thinking that I was a terrible cook, but once I got a bit of instruction and learned a few easy basics, a world of recipes opened up to me. It made me wonder what else I was capable of, even if I didn’t know it yet. What a sense of accomplishment!

3. Patience and the ability to compartmentalize are essential when making food and in life. Every recipe has a structure and purpose, and if followed patiently, creates something gorgeous. If I could transition that attitude into my daily life, things would be much more comfortable and less stressful. It’s about thinking through the recipe and following it even when you want to rush to the end.

Interestingly enough, after gaining a bit of confidence in the kitchen, it has become one of my favorite things to do, especially on a cold Winter evening in the city. You can’t beat it.

Find cooking classes in NYC & Beyond here.

Once upon a Thursday night, somewhere between Thompson & Houston and 3 gin and tonics, I got to thinking about the New York City bar scene. Fickle little thing that it is.

You have your Upper East Side brick and leather filled lounges and your Lower East Side hipster places where the only options are $25 cocktails and experimental Hors d’Oeuvre. You’ll find Nightclubs & Rooftops galore in Tribeca, Sports Bars & Themed Spots in Midtown, and beautifully appointed Wine Bars & foodie inspired Pubs in the West Village.

But where does one go when what they really want is a 16 ounce craft IPA in a dimly lit, dingy room filled with all types of people and styles;  from the NYC undergrad to the somewhat incognito movie star? The NYC Dive Bar.

THE NYC DIVE BAR

I just adore a good dive bar, actually, I must admit, it can be one of my favorite ways to spend a New York City evening. And, because I can easily recall the days when, as a NYC newbie or visitor, I longed for a relaxed atmosphere to unwind after a busy day of big city hustle and bustle, I want to share my go to dive bars with you.

  1. The Four-Faced Liar • West Village (165 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014) – The Four-Faced liar is one of those no-frills, brick-lined bars where you feel like you are drinking a craft beer in your own living room. The staff is experienced and fast, if a bit gruff at times, but never take themselves too seriously. If you want a true New York City dive bar experience that allows you to rub elbows with NYC regulars and West Village residents, give this spot a try.
  2. Old Rabbit Club • NYU – West Village (124 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012) – This hidden gem serves an array of somewhat pretentious craft beers and wines in an old school, basement storefront. Near to NYU, the tiny bar holds only about 30 people at a time, but if you get there early enough to grab a front row seat at the bar, you won’t be disappointed in the friendly, knowledgeable bartenders, beer and wine options, or the 80’s punk music played at just the right decibel.
  3. The Canal Bar • Gowanus – Brooklyn (270 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – Don’t be fooled by the initially small look of this bar from the front door. There is a super cute, string light filled back patio and a pool table toward the back. Also, the popcorn is free.
  4. Spring Lounge • Nolita (48 Spring St, New York, NY 10012) – Nolita, a neighborhood just on the brink of trendy Soho, is where you’ll find this NYC resident favorite. There is nothing special about this bar in terms of aesthetic, but you will get a great beer or cocktail all while doing some pretty awesome people watching. This is my definite pick for a weekend day drinking sesh.
  5. Dive Bar • Lincoln Center • Upper West Side (732 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025) – This is a favorite during Ballet season as it is near enough to Lincoln Center to stop for a pint or glass of wine prior to the rise of the curtain.

If you find your way to New York City, give these wonderful places a quick visit. We hope to see you there!

How to Make It

Step 1

Line 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with wax paper; lightly grease and flour wax paper. Set pans aside.

Step 2

Stir together the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Step 3

Crack 3 Large eggs into a large mixing bowl and add the following to the bowl:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until blended. Fold in the shredded carrot and add the following ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut

Pour batter into previously prepared cake pans.

Step 4

Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Once removed, cool still in the pans on wire racks 15 minutes.

Step 5

After 15 minutes, remove cakes from the pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Step 6

Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Leave it plain or delicately decorate with walnuts, pistachios,  piped frosting,  or sprinkled nutmeg.

 

** Looking to add a bit of flair to your cake, no matter the season or weather? Add extra spice, rum, or brown butter during the cold months. During the spring or Summer, don’t be afraid to decorate it with gorgeous floral elements or maybe even hints of seasonal fruit.

I HOPE YOU DANCE – No, I really do. In a literal way, not so much in a “life goals” kind of way; although I am 100 percent behind that as well.

A couple of weeks ago, a close friend who I hadn’t seen for a few months (she left NYC for Atlanta shortly after her wedding, so we were having a bit of a catchup sesh) asked me how the different areas of my business were coming along and if I was up to anything new. I filled her in briefly on the new online business courses I was offering as well as the expansion of my speaking and writing engagement services and how I was fitting it all together. After a bit of a rundown on the ins and outs of these services, she said, “so, are you just loving it?”

Honestly, I didn’t know how to answer that question. I LOVED creating the courses, I LOVED interacting with other super awesome creative entrepreneurs, I LOVED telling my story and helping others become the best them that they can be. I was madly in love with every single aspect of providing these courses from start to finish, except for one small thing. I hate public speaking. And, as is frequently the case when it comes to things we fear, that one, small, scary aspect puts an enormous black cloud over the parts that I love. Isn’t that just the pits?

My friend’s response? Then why are you doing it?

If I am being real with you, this is always my favorite question when it comes to each aspect of my life, especially the ones that include facing my fears head on. Don’t other people do this on the daily? Is this not what it means to be a human? Doesn’t EVERYONE do the things they fear as long as it’s something they think is important to do? Unfortunately, the answer is no in some cases, and I think that has to change.

How do I do the things that absolutely scare me, but that I know are the things that are going to be best for me in the end? I dance it out. Before each and every public speaking engagement, class or workshop, or even just sharing my “close to the heart” creative work, I flip on the Britany or the Marvin Gaye or The Cure (usually The Cure) and I dance. There is no doubt in mind that I look silly, I am the product of a Father who has zero rhythm and fast dances at weddings by wiggling his heel around on the ground while he swings his hips in the opposite direction. There is no possible way that I look awesome when I am dancing, but I do it, because that is how I get out the negative, scary energy and relax my mind enough to push through the fear.

My suggestion isn’t necessarily that you dance it out if that isn’t your thing (or you are in the airport FREAKING OUT over flying); I am simply suggesting that when you are terrified of something that you want to do,  instead of walking away, try doing something that will change your energy and will make your impossible possible.  There is really nothing that feels better in life than doing something you didn’t think you could do. It resets  your power and teaches you that you are unstoppable.

Those are things everyone needs.

Read More

The Creative Process – One of the most intriguing things about life is the presence of non-stop Self Discovery. I can pretty much say without a doubt that I can’t name the last day that I had where I didn’t learn something absolutely new. Maybe it was about my business; my clients, my design direction. Or it’s quite possible that it was about my own personal relationships, habits (good and bad), strengths, weaknesses, or well being. It’s also possible that I learned more than one thing that day (yup, it happens!) and it is a combination of the above. Either way, the moral of the story, is I learn something new daily, whether I seek to or not. To me, it is just a part of the process.

Now, some of you may thinking, I don’t actually learn something new everyday, maybe once or twice a week, but not daily. Or maybe you  don’t remember the last time you learned something completely and utterly unique to your experience. My response to that is that it’s nearly impossible for that to be true.

How do you “know” what you learned if it doesn’t seem like your day was extraordinary? This is where we must start to think about intentional living, constructive flow of though, and self awareness. To get you started, simply get yourself a pretty journal or pull up a new document on your Mac, and answer the following questions throughout your day. Sometimes I even ask myself these questions mentally more than once a day, and I feel better for it.

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What can I do to take better care of myself?
  • What do I love about myself?
  • What are my current priorities?
  • What would make me happy right now?
  • What am I happy about right now?
  • Who inspires me most right now? What do I love about that person?
  • What do I need more of in my life?
  • What do I need less of in my life?
  • If I could share my message with the world, what would it be?

These answers may change monthly, or daily, or even by the hour in some circumstances! That is life! But each time the answer changes, ask yourself what you learned or experienced that changed your response? There must be something, and the better you get at recognizing those moments in your life, the more in tune with your own needs and wellness you will be AND the more creatively you will run your business and your personal life. Give it a shot for one month. I dare you.

Read More

DIFFICULT CLIENTS – AN HONEST LOOK – Ask anyone who has been in business for some time, and they will tell you that while most of their clients have been happy with the product or service they provide, there have been one or two who they couldn’t please no matter how they tried.

Naturally, this is a stressful situation, as no reputable and passionate business owner, especially a creative business owner, wants a client to feel less than thrilled with their interaction with them. But, with that being said, it is important to remember that you absolutely cannot make everyone happy. Think of all of the time you have dedicated to projects that make you (and the client) unhappy, that could have been spent working with wonderful, lovely, people that appreciate you as much as you do them.

Self Discover for the Creative Process - The Art Of

Let’s take a look at some of the clients that may spell trouble for you as a creative business owner and what you can do to combat it and move on, hopefully in a way that will de-escalate the situation and will leave some level of comfort on both side.

  1. The “Nothing you do will make me happy” Client:

We all know a person exactly like this, in our personal or business life, and we know exactly how they think about most everything. Honestly, there are just some people in the world who can’t be completely satisfied, may that be with the services you provide or even with their own work and services.

While it may seem like this type A Personality is working against you from day one, typically they are just perfectionists and nothing will ever measure up to their standards, making them nearly impossible to please.

At the end of the day, this client is exactly what the title says, nothing you do will make them completely happy. Just roll with it and finish the project to the best of your ability with the most positive attitude you can. Eventually, I think most business owners learn to recognize the signs of this type of client from the start, and will make an educated decision on whether they wish to accept them as a customer.

2. The “I have no idea what I want, but will know when I see it” Client:

This client is actually really similar to number one in terms of your chances of making them happy. If they are entering into a project with no clue what will work for them, that should be an immediate red flag that they aren’t ready to start the process you are offering.

Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way a couple of times throughout my career, and have gotten much better at guiding them to where they need to be in order to get started.

Accepting this client without first guiding them in the right direction will be a huge detriment to your time and your business, making waves that will ripple throughout your schedule. The honest answer is this client will most likely need to see multiple revisions and concepts and may never actually see the magical “one”, creating negativity about your business in their mind and leaving you feeling less than confident about your work.

3. The “What can I get for Free” Client:

Since you are offering a service or providing creative intellectual property a client can’t steal from you, right? No way.

I once had a client break a website that I made for her a year after launch, contact me to request my help fixing it,  and agree to my terms of $75 an hour for 2 hours (it took me 4, but I felt bad for her, so only charged for 2) to get her reinstalled. I fixed her website and made all of her requested updates, and once finished she locked me out of the site and disputed the credit card charge claiming that she didn’t authorize it. This not only means that I gave up 4 hours of my time for free and took away from the experience of my other clients, but I was also charged $75 from the credit card company as a dispute fee. Basically, I paid money for the pleasure of fixing her website.

Now, it is easy to say: who would have known that would happen? But the honest truth is I already had that vibe about this client. My initial experience with her hadn’t been the best as she had asked for a lot of things that weren’t in her contract for free, and would freak out if I wasn’t able to help her.

I knew exactly what kind of client I was dealing with, but I allowed my personal feelings instead of my “business owner” feelings to decide how I handled the situation. I literally still think about that client frequently (which I need to get over!!!) because it hurts my heart that there are business owners out there that will treat other this way, when they themselves KNOW how difficult it is!

Honestly, there is no easy set of rules that you can follow for this client to make the process smoother and reduce your risk. My advice in this situation is that as soon as you get that vibe, you should discontinue the relationship, whether that means finishing up the project they did pay for and then moving on or refunding them and sending them on their way.

As much as you or I want to see the good in people, in my experience, this situation will not end well and you will be on the receiving end of a great deal of grief.

4. The “Never-ending Project” Client:

If I am being real, issues with this client may be as much your fault as theirs unless you set solid boundaries and keep lines of communication completely open with them. If you finished the project months ago, but they are still contacting you for revisions; etc, it is your responsibility to be strong and say no. Make it clear when you initially finish the project that this is the end of your paid time together (but you can totally still be friends!) and that if they have any additional requests they should make them now or expect to pay your hourly rate in the future. My best advice is to get used to treating all of your clients the same across the board when it comes to your work with them, unless you have specifically made additional promises regarding their situation. Set your rules and stick with them.

WAYS YOU CAN COMBAT NEGATIVE SITUATIONS/CLIENTS FROM DAY ONE:

  • First of all, make sure you have an iron clad contract. Make sure that each and every client that books with you signs that contract, no exceptions.
  • Provide your clients with a fact sheet, timeline, or informational package that will lay out the process of your services, the timeframe it takes you for each milestone along the way, and what they can expect from their finished product. Providing them with as much information as possible directly out of the gate will alleviate any confusion later if the client tries to insinuate that they aren’t happy because you didn’t follow protocol.
  • If things start to take on a negative vibe during your process, gently but firmly guide the clients attention back to the positive and let them know that you are doing your very best for them. The most important thing you can do for yourself and your clients is to not allow their mood to alter your work. It is super hard, but if you can maintain a positive attitude even when they are creating stress for you, they will not be able to point at you as the reason they are unhappy.
  • Have a solid questionnaire that will help them to do a bit of self discovery and will get them in the brainstorming mindset.
  • Ask the right questions. Find out where their head is at from the start and utilize any information that you have received.
  • Be very honest from the beginning of the project.  Insure that they understand that  you have a specific style of work, and that if they aren’t already in that mindset and know that they want that style, you may not be the right fit for them. Help them go through your portfolio so they understand what they will be receiving if they hire you, and if they get off track during the project, kindly remind them of your creative abilities and portfolio.
  • Let them know that you offer only a certain number of revisions and ask them if they are comfortable with that before beginning. If they truly don’t know what they want, they may realize that they need more time to think prior to spending money on a project that may end up costing them a fortune.
  • Document any and all agreements, revision requests, edits; etc. This will save you a great deal of hassle if a problem should ever arise.
  • Last, but definitely not least, remember that while most of your clients are going to be beautiful people, you can’t allow a few bad experiences to jeopardize your success. These are all learning experiences that you will have during the process of running your business, and has absolutely nothing to do with your amazing talent and creativity. Power through the stressful events and take what you have discovered with you to the next level.

Let us know how you combat difficult or impossible to please clients in the comments! We love new advice!

See more from our Creative Entrepreneur Series here. 

Read More

Since I will likely spend most of my week preparing for this weekends getaway with my Sister, I decided to spend this past Saturday downtown with the hubs. He was already in that vicinity as he had an early meeting in Chelsea, so we agreed to meet around 3:30 at our favorite West Village Brunch spot and then move on to drinks and the Belmont Stakes with friends at a bar on West Fourth. Perfection.

In New York City in order to get most anywhere worth visiting, you have to be willing to submit yourself to time on the Subway, which is the actual worst in the Summer months. This is especially true when you live in the ‘upper’ neighborhoods of the city as we do because a taxi or Uber ride to lower Manhattan can cost a fortune.

Onto the train I marched, looking forward to the mimosa that had been calling my name all morning.

Anybody who has lived in the city knows that it is never quite that easy. Immediately, my train was diverted because of track construction; meaning I had to hike to the next nearest station in order to catch a new train to my destination.

Once I was securely settled on the second train, it occurred to me that this one was running local instead of express, meaning it would stop at every station along the way as opposed to skipping the less popular ones to move more quickly to the larger.

Ok, it’s fine. It will simply add another 20 minutes to my trip, but it’s Saturday. No rush.

That is until I glanced through the window just in time to see Christopher Street/Sheridan Square, my stop, fly past me in a wave of dust. WHY ARE WE NOT STOPPING?

According to the very late announcement from the conductor, the train was now running an express and would not stop at the local stops, of which Christopher is one. A 35-minute trip had turned into a 1.5-hour trip AND brunch was officially ending for the day. My day felt a bit ruined.

To say I felt angry and cheated was an understatement. I had started the trip in an amazing mood, ready to spend some time off with the Hubs and the people I love, only to end up missing half of my day off sitting on the train, battling one obstacle and delay after another. My mood had taken quite a turn for the worst.

When I finally reached my stop, I grumpily got off the train and walked up the stairs, going over the bitch-fest I was about to unleash on my husband in my mind and being generally negative. And then something beautiful happened.

I looked up, and there she was. Sarah Jessica Parker.

I had been hoping for this since I moved to the city over 8 years ago! If there is one celebrity that I have wanted to catch a glimpse of in real life, it is for sure SJP. I just adore her.

And just think, if the train had been on time, I wouldn’t have had that super cool experience.

I meeeannnn, I didn’t end up speaking to her. And, I probably only had her in my eyesight for 3 seconds or less, but it was still really cool. I stand by that. I made sunglass eye contact with SJP.

For the first time in the history of the MTA, the Saturday train delays made someone’s day.

*Disclaimer: I totally wanted to talk to her and gush about how much I loved her work, but in the interest of remaining a “real” New Yorker, I abstained. Gah

Read More

When I fly, it’s a production. I am not kidding when I say this; I imagine it is the equivalent of an OCD ritual that must be played out exactly each and every time. Let’s just say it involves a lot of alcohol and creepy leering at the flight crew as they board the plane prior to take off.

I would like to say that I don’t know where this fear and compulsion come from, but that would be a lie. My mother was terribly afraid of flying, and like most other things that scared her, she did her very best to make sure the fear was passed down to me.

Here is the thing. When I fly, that is when I truly feel the most alive. There is just something so beautiful about being absolutely terrified but powering through and facing it. When I step off of an airplane, somewhere in my brain a happy dance is happening and I want to run through the airport swinging from light posts and clicking my heels.

I love that feeling. Bravery. It makes me feel powerful in my life, and to be honest, sometimes I am actually grateful that my mother made me so fearful of so many things. It gives me the opportunity to feel brave and powerful on a level a lot of people may never experience. Sure, most of the time the feeling isn’t as intense as after a trip in the sky, but it still feels courageous.

The most gorgeous thing I ever did for myself was to decide that I didn’t want to live a stunted life out of fear. I trained myself to see my fear not as an obstacle, but as a tool to push myself to live a life that I love. I like to think it’s my superpower.

Something to think about…

Read More

We’ve found your new June beach read and you won’t want to miss it! Work Party by the gorgeous Jaclyn Johnson of Create & Cultivate is the story of one woman’s rise from fired corporate employee and failed business partner to the owner and CEO of one of the most lucrative and inspiring women’s social platform.

TRUST ME… YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK!

THE ART OF BOOK BINGE – WORK PARTY BY JACLYN JOHNSON – IMAGE COURTESY OF SMITH HOUSE PHOTO

You may be familiar with the name Jaclyn Johnson, especially if you adore a tough woman. As the owner & CEO of the much talked about community Create & Cultivate, Jaclyn has been through ups and downs, failures and successes, and devastating and beautiful experiences; and she has turned each and every one of these lessons into teaching moments used to move and motivate other entrepreneurs and business owners.

THE ART OF BOOK BINGE – WORK PARTY BY JACLYN JOHNSON – IMAGE COURTESY OF SMITH HOUSE PHOTO

A smart book, filled with genuine business love and the most wonderful advice, you won’t regret spending your free time enjoying this good read. Pick it up here and tell us your comments below!

Read More

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about honesty and about how much is too much. Sure, we all claim that we are honest people and we easily adjust our level of trust for others based on our experiences with them, but in the big scheme of things, when is dishonesty or omission okay?

Three weeks ago, a business owner and colleague that I have worked and grown with over the years shared an incredibly frank and honest post on Facebook that provided a lot of insight into her personal life and thoughts. I hate to admit it, but I was a little bit taken aback. Not because I was judging her on any level, hey, I have my own personal stuff that I don’t necessarily talk about on social media. Don’t we all? It was because I knew that the information was so personal, that now, every time I saw her, in life or in business, that is what would immediately come to mind. And I hated that on a purely selfish level. I suddenly wished that people would hold back a bit on the honesty.

This experience had me wondering,

when is it appropriate to share your most

personal thoughts, and to who is it acceptable? 

Personally, I like to be open and relatable in my business;  it’s important to me to form unique and lasting connections with the people I come in contact with frequently. However, I am more comfortable keeping the really personal and life-changing moments and experiences to myself. There are things that I keep close to the vest or share only with my loved ones. Some things are just for you, and not everyone that you come in contact with has earned the right to that information.

Tell me, am I right or wrong? How much sharing is too much? Leave your thoughts and opinion in the comments below.

Read More

When I was 5, my Father went on a business trip, and as per our usual routine, returned with a souvenir of his time away. Typically business trip gifts consisted of tiny trinkets from lands afar, at least to my inexperienced mind; this time was no different. However, what was different was the impact that this trips gift would have on my life.

A small, metal Statue of Liberty figurine. Small and indiscreet enough to fit in the wooden display shelf that I proudly hung above my bed, I remember nights when I would pull her down and carefully examine all of the grooves in her dress. I would try to read and understand the minute letters scrolled on her tablet, would run my fingers over the sharp point in her crown. I had fallen in love with a city, based solely on my infatuation with this little silver statue, and I didn’t even know it yet.

Over time, I would ask questions about my new found silver lady. Where was she in real life, what was that place like, how could I get there? As I got older and learned more about the answers to these questions, I knew that someday, I would live there. I would be one of the stories that were so often tossed around in literature and on TV about the girl who moved to the big city, and had quite a big life, as it were. I made it my goal to move to NYC, and finally, at the age of 32, I made it happen.

While New York City, in my opinion, is everything that they tell you it is, it is so much more. There are many things that they don’t tell you. Many things that you have to learn and pick up on your own. But the moral of the story is the same. There is an energy that pulses in this city that you will not find anywhere else. This is my journal of that pulse. My experience in this foreign place.

Firstly, let me say, there are way more things that you don’t hear about New York than that you do. For instance, nobody told me that the Subway in the Summertime is the most miserable place you would ever want to be, full of angry, hot New Yorkers dealing with yet another MTA delay and laying their sweaty hands on top of yours in an effort to hold on to one of the limited poles in each train car. I had never been informed that the chances of seeing a pantless streaker on my own street were pretty high, or that the number of entirely destitute homeless people would be almost unbearable to witness.

But neither had I been informed of the magic of standing on a roof deck and seeing the city laid out before me, watching the cars drive up Broadway as far as the eye can see. I was not prepared for the way my heart would stall in awe every time I heard the traffic roaring down 5th Avenue, or the way that being a part of a close-knit community consisting of millions of individuals would affect my life. People stick together in New York City in a way that a lot of smaller communities fail to do. You know that here, somebody always has your back. They must, it is how we survive.

I had not expected to fall so deeply in love with this intensely flawed place, but in quick order, it happened. From day one, I knew that I was home.

Read More

Whether you are hosting an event for friends, a girls night in, or want to try something a little bit more interesting on a Thursday night, it’s always a good excuse to create a beautiful and well thought out cheese board. Trust us; you won’t be sorry. Don’t know where to start? These are our tips for creating a cheese plate that will please.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MILK
Sure, we all know and love cows milk, but it’s a good rule of thumb to cover all of your bases when creating the ultimate cheese board. Give sheep milk a try, or a nice rolled herb goat cheese. Mix it up with both pasteurized and unpasteurized options to give your board a bit of flair.

TEXTURE IS KEY
If you like texture, this is for you. While cheese comes in many ages and textures, it is typically well received to incorporate a bit of variety from soft, spreadable and creamy, to firm, semi-hard, hard, crumbly, and aged.

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
There are cheese options for every palette, so while you want to keep your board to around 3-5 options, allow yourself to enjoy the flavor journey. Choose from sharp, nutty, grassy, bright, briny, sweet, pungent, mild, salty, buttery, tangy, and more.

ADD SAUCES & ACCOMPANIMENTS
Pair your cheese options with intentional and beautiful accouterments that are both pretty and tasty. We like to include meats such as prosciutto, serrano ham, and salami as well as garnish additions like olives, pickle slices, and jams and sauces. One of our all-time favorite pairings is a soft blue cheese paired with honey and ham.

Read More

Cooking was never my forte. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat and quite often wished that I could do more in the kitchen, but it wasn’t a talent that I possessed. Maybe it’s an issue of patience, which I would not consider my strongest asset; however, a few years ago, attempting to practice better self-awareness, I decided to try to change that.

One of the wonderful things about living in New York City is the number of classes and activities available to its residents. Having heard good things from friends and family who took cooking classes, ranging from knife skills to advanced French cooking, I decided to try my hand at something simple that would hopefully allow me to begin cooking and baking at home. I learned a lot in my class, the surprising part is that it wasn’t all about cooking or ingredients.

1. There is something incredibly stress relieving about chopping produce. Ok, don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t quite as physically exhausting as, say, a boxing class, but I did find that the amount of concentration required to cut vegetables and fruit into small pieces is a lot like meditation.

2. I don’t try enough new things. Taking this cooking class helped me to realize that there are so many things in the world that I could probably do if I were only to try. I have spent years of my life thinking that I was a terrible cook, but once I got a bit of instruction and learned a few easy basics, a world of recipes opened up to me. It made me wonder what else I was capable of, even if I didn’t know it yet. What a sense of accomplishment!

3. Patience and the ability to compartmentalize are essential when making food and in life. Every recipe has a structure and purpose, and if followed patiently, creates something gorgeous. If I could transition that attitude into my daily life, things would be much more comfortable and less stressful. It’s about thinking through the recipe and following it even when you want to rush to the end.

Interestingly enough, after gaining a bit of confidence in the kitchen, it has become one of my favorite things to do, especially on a cold Winter evening in the city. You can’t beat it.

Find cooking classes in NYC & Beyond here.

Read More

Once upon a Thursday night, somewhere between Thompson & Houston and 3 gin and tonics, I got to thinking about the New York City bar scene. Fickle little thing that it is.

You have your Upper East Side brick and leather filled lounges and your Lower East Side hipster places where the only options are $25 cocktails and experimental Hors d’Oeuvre. You’ll find Nightclubs & Rooftops galore in Tribeca, Sports Bars & Themed Spots in Midtown, and beautifully appointed Wine Bars & foodie inspired Pubs in the West Village.

But where does one go when what they really want is a 16 ounce craft IPA in a dimly lit, dingy room filled with all types of people and styles;  from the NYC undergrad to the somewhat incognito movie star? The NYC Dive Bar.

THE NYC DIVE BAR

I just adore a good dive bar, actually, I must admit, it can be one of my favorite ways to spend a New York City evening. And, because I can easily recall the days when, as a NYC newbie or visitor, I longed for a relaxed atmosphere to unwind after a busy day of big city hustle and bustle, I want to share my go to dive bars with you.

  1. The Four-Faced Liar • West Village (165 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014) – The Four-Faced liar is one of those no-frills, brick-lined bars where you feel like you are drinking a craft beer in your own living room. The staff is experienced and fast, if a bit gruff at times, but never take themselves too seriously. If you want a true New York City dive bar experience that allows you to rub elbows with NYC regulars and West Village residents, give this spot a try.
  2. Old Rabbit Club • NYU – West Village (124 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012) – This hidden gem serves an array of somewhat pretentious craft beers and wines in an old school, basement storefront. Near to NYU, the tiny bar holds only about 30 people at a time, but if you get there early enough to grab a front row seat at the bar, you won’t be disappointed in the friendly, knowledgeable bartenders, beer and wine options, or the 80’s punk music played at just the right decibel.
  3. The Canal Bar • Gowanus – Brooklyn (270 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – Don’t be fooled by the initially small look of this bar from the front door. There is a super cute, string light filled back patio and a pool table toward the back. Also, the popcorn is free.
  4. Spring Lounge • Nolita (48 Spring St, New York, NY 10012) – Nolita, a neighborhood just on the brink of trendy Soho, is where you’ll find this NYC resident favorite. There is nothing special about this bar in terms of aesthetic, but you will get a great beer or cocktail all while doing some pretty awesome people watching. This is my definite pick for a weekend day drinking sesh.
  5. Dive Bar • Lincoln Center • Upper West Side (732 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025) – This is a favorite during Ballet season as it is near enough to Lincoln Center to stop for a pint or glass of wine prior to the rise of the curtain.

If you find your way to New York City, give these wonderful places a quick visit. We hope to see you there!

Read More

How to Make It

Step 1

Line 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with wax paper; lightly grease and flour wax paper. Set pans aside.

Step 2

Stir together the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Step 3

Crack 3 Large eggs into a large mixing bowl and add the following to the bowl:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until blended. Fold in the shredded carrot and add the following ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut

Pour batter into previously prepared cake pans.

Step 4

Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Once removed, cool still in the pans on wire racks 15 minutes.

Step 5

After 15 minutes, remove cakes from the pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Step 6

Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Leave it plain or delicately decorate with walnuts, pistachios,  piped frosting,  or sprinkled nutmeg.

 

** Looking to add a bit of flair to your cake, no matter the season or weather? Add extra spice, rum, or brown butter during the cold months. During the spring or Summer, don’t be afraid to decorate it with gorgeous floral elements or maybe even hints of seasonal fruit.

Read More

I HOPE YOU DANCE – No, I really do. In a literal way, not so much in a “life goals” kind of way; although I am 100 percent behind that as well.

A couple of weeks ago, a close friend who I hadn’t seen for a few months (she left NYC for Atlanta shortly after her wedding, so we were having a bit of a catchup sesh) asked me how the different areas of my business were coming along and if I was up to anything new. I filled her in briefly on the new online business courses I was offering as well as the expansion of my speaking and writing engagement services and how I was fitting it all together. After a bit of a rundown on the ins and outs of these services, she said, “so, are you just loving it?”

Honestly, I didn’t know how to answer that question. I LOVED creating the courses, I LOVED interacting with other super awesome creative entrepreneurs, I LOVED telling my story and helping others become the best them that they can be. I was madly in love with every single aspect of providing these courses from start to finish, except for one small thing. I hate public speaking. And, as is frequently the case when it comes to things we fear, that one, small, scary aspect puts an enormous black cloud over the parts that I love. Isn’t that just the pits?

My friend’s response? Then why are you doing it?

If I am being real with you, this is always my favorite question when it comes to each aspect of my life, especially the ones that include facing my fears head on. Don’t other people do this on the daily? Is this not what it means to be a human? Doesn’t EVERYONE do the things they fear as long as it’s something they think is important to do? Unfortunately, the answer is no in some cases, and I think that has to change.

How do I do the things that absolutely scare me, but that I know are the things that are going to be best for me in the end? I dance it out. Before each and every public speaking engagement, class or workshop, or even just sharing my “close to the heart” creative work, I flip on the Britany or the Marvin Gaye or The Cure (usually The Cure) and I dance. There is no doubt in mind that I look silly, I am the product of a Father who has zero rhythm and fast dances at weddings by wiggling his heel around on the ground while he swings his hips in the opposite direction. There is no possible way that I look awesome when I am dancing, but I do it, because that is how I get out the negative, scary energy and relax my mind enough to push through the fear.

My suggestion isn’t necessarily that you dance it out if that isn’t your thing (or you are in the airport FREAKING OUT over flying); I am simply suggesting that when you are terrified of something that you want to do,  instead of walking away, try doing something that will change your energy and will make your impossible possible.  There is really nothing that feels better in life than doing something you didn’t think you could do. It resets  your power and teaches you that you are unstoppable.

Those are things everyone needs.

Read More

Cooking was never my forte. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat and quite often wished that I could do more in the kitchen, but it wasn’t a talent that I possessed. Maybe it’s an issue of patience, which I would not consider my strongest asset; however, a few years ago, attempting to practice better self-awareness, I decided to try to change that.

One of the wonderful things about living in New York City is the number of classes and activities available to its residents. Having heard good things from friends and family who took cooking classes, ranging from knife skills to advanced French cooking, I decided to try my hand at something simple that would hopefully allow me to begin cooking and baking at home. I learned a lot in my class, the surprising part is that it wasn’t all about cooking or ingredients.

1. There is something incredibly stress relieving about chopping produce. Ok, don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t quite as physically exhausting as, say, a boxing class, but I did find that the amount of concentration required to cut vegetables and fruit into small pieces is a lot like meditation.

2. I don’t try enough new things. Taking this cooking class helped me to realize that there are so many things in the world that I could probably do if I were only to try. I have spent years of my life thinking that I was a terrible cook, but once I got a bit of instruction and learned a few easy basics, a world of recipes opened up to me. It made me wonder what else I was capable of, even if I didn’t know it yet. What a sense of accomplishment!

3. Patience and the ability to compartmentalize are essential when making food and in life. Every recipe has a structure and purpose, and if followed patiently, creates something gorgeous. If I could transition that attitude into my daily life, things would be much more comfortable and less stressful. It’s about thinking through the recipe and following it even when you want to rush to the end.

Interestingly enough, after gaining a bit of confidence in the kitchen, it has become one of my favorite things to do, especially on a cold Winter evening in the city. You can’t beat it.

Find cooking classes in NYC & Beyond here.

Read More

Once upon a Thursday night, somewhere between Thompson & Houston and 3 gin and tonics, I got to thinking about the New York City bar scene. Fickle little thing that it is.

You have your Upper East Side brick and leather filled lounges and your Lower East Side hipster places where the only options are $25 cocktails and experimental Hors d’Oeuvre. You’ll find Nightclubs & Rooftops galore in Tribeca, Sports Bars & Themed Spots in Midtown, and beautifully appointed Wine Bars & foodie inspired Pubs in the West Village.

But where does one go when what they really want is a 16 ounce craft IPA in a dimly lit, dingy room filled with all types of people and styles;  from the NYC undergrad to the somewhat incognito movie star? The NYC Dive Bar.

THE NYC DIVE BAR

I just adore a good dive bar, actually, I must admit, it can be one of my favorite ways to spend a New York City evening. And, because I can easily recall the days when, as a NYC newbie or visitor, I longed for a relaxed atmosphere to unwind after a busy day of big city hustle and bustle, I want to share my go to dive bars with you.

  1. The Four-Faced Liar • West Village (165 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014) – The Four-Faced liar is one of those no-frills, brick-lined bars where you feel like you are drinking a craft beer in your own living room. The staff is experienced and fast, if a bit gruff at times, but never take themselves too seriously. If you want a true New York City dive bar experience that allows you to rub elbows with NYC regulars and West Village residents, give this spot a try.
  2. Old Rabbit Club • NYU – West Village (124 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012) – This hidden gem serves an array of somewhat pretentious craft beers and wines in an old school, basement storefront. Near to NYU, the tiny bar holds only about 30 people at a time, but if you get there early enough to grab a front row seat at the bar, you won’t be disappointed in the friendly, knowledgeable bartenders, beer and wine options, or the 80’s punk music played at just the right decibel.
  3. The Canal Bar • Gowanus – Brooklyn (270 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215) – Don’t be fooled by the initially small look of this bar from the front door. There is a super cute, string light filled back patio and a pool table toward the back. Also, the popcorn is free.
  4. Spring Lounge • Nolita (48 Spring St, New York, NY 10012) – Nolita, a neighborhood just on the brink of trendy Soho, is where you’ll find this NYC resident favorite. There is nothing special about this bar in terms of aesthetic, but you will get a great beer or cocktail all while doing some pretty awesome people watching. This is my definite pick for a weekend day drinking sesh.
  5. Dive Bar • Lincoln Center • Upper West Side (732 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025) – This is a favorite during Ballet season as it is near enough to Lincoln Center to stop for a pint or glass of wine prior to the rise of the curtain.

If you find your way to New York City, give these wonderful places a quick visit. We hope to see you there!

Read More

How to Make It

Step 1

Line 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with wax paper; lightly grease and flour wax paper. Set pans aside.

Step 2

Stir together the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Step 3

Crack 3 Large eggs into a large mixing bowl and add the following to the bowl:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until blended. Fold in the shredded carrot and add the following ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut

Pour batter into previously prepared cake pans.

Step 4

Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Once removed, cool still in the pans on wire racks 15 minutes.

Step 5

After 15 minutes, remove cakes from the pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Step 6

Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Leave it plain or delicately decorate with walnuts, pistachios,  piped frosting,  or sprinkled nutmeg.

 

** Looking to add a bit of flair to your cake, no matter the season or weather? Add extra spice, rum, or brown butter during the cold months. During the spring or Summer, don’t be afraid to decorate it with gorgeous floral elements or maybe even hints of seasonal fruit.

Read More

I HOPE YOU DANCE – No, I really do. In a literal way, not so much in a “life goals” kind of way; although I am 100 percent behind that as well.

A couple of weeks ago, a close friend who I hadn’t seen for a few months (she left NYC for Atlanta shortly after her wedding, so we were having a bit of a catchup sesh) asked me how the different areas of my business were coming along and if I was up to anything new. I filled her in briefly on the new online business courses I was offering as well as the expansion of my speaking and writing engagement services and how I was fitting it all together. After a bit of a rundown on the ins and outs of these services, she said, “so, are you just loving it?”

Honestly, I didn’t know how to answer that question. I LOVED creating the courses, I LOVED interacting with other super awesome creative entrepreneurs, I LOVED telling my story and helping others become the best them that they can be. I was madly in love with every single aspect of providing these courses from start to finish, except for one small thing. I hate public speaking. And, as is frequently the case when it comes to things we fear, that one, small, scary aspect puts an enormous black cloud over the parts that I love. Isn’t that just the pits?

My friend’s response? Then why are you doing it?

If I am being real with you, this is always my favorite question when it comes to each aspect of my life, especially the ones that include facing my fears head on. Don’t other people do this on the daily? Is this not what it means to be a human? Doesn’t EVERYONE do the things they fear as long as it’s something they think is important to do? Unfortunately, the answer is no in some cases, and I think that has to change.

How do I do the things that absolutely scare me, but that I know are the things that are going to be best for me in the end? I dance it out. Before each and every public speaking engagement, class or workshop, or even just sharing my “close to the heart” creative work, I flip on the Britany or the Marvin Gaye or The Cure (usually The Cure) and I dance. There is no doubt in mind that I look silly, I am the product of a Father who has zero rhythm and fast dances at weddings by wiggling his heel around on the ground while he swings his hips in the opposite direction. There is no possible way that I look awesome when I am dancing, but I do it, because that is how I get out the negative, scary energy and relax my mind enough to push through the fear.

My suggestion isn’t necessarily that you dance it out if that isn’t your thing (or you are in the airport FREAKING OUT over flying); I am simply suggesting that when you are terrified of something that you want to do,  instead of walking away, try doing something that will change your energy and will make your impossible possible.  There is really nothing that feels better in life than doing something you didn’t think you could do. It resets  your power and teaches you that you are unstoppable.

Those are things everyone needs.

Read More

Doesn’t it always seems that when one thing in your life goes wrong, every other part of your experience seems to follow closely behind? You know what they say, “when it rains, it pours.” I have recently begun to wonder if it is me causing the ball to continue rolling downhill or if it is a natural occurrence that happens in the universe (mercury in retrograde?). Honestly, I think it is me. Here is why: Mindset

Sure, my theory isn’t exactly scientific, however; I think there is something to be said for the energy that you put into the world, and I think that the mind is where that energy originates. Think about it this way: if you could magically adjust your mindset when things are on the downslide, would it make a difference to your lifestyle, business, or relationships? Is it possible that your positive vibes would stop that negativity in its tracks and set you on the path to happier days? I think so.

So, when times are tough and you can’t seem to find a light at the end of the tunnel, how can you make a mindset change that will keep you positive and moving forward?

  1. LISTEN TO YOURSELF – If you have had a series of negative experiences and you’re feeling defeated, listen to yourself and know when to rest. We aren’t big on quitting here at The Art Of, but we do adore a good R & R session now and then, and it seems especially needed when its “pouring.” Instead of flashing a fake smile and trying to push through the situation, give yourself a mental health day. Allow yourself to feel the feelings that you are experiencing, but decide that you are going to wash it away at the end of the day and start fresh. Trying to fight your sadness, anger, or negative feelings will only make it harder to set them aside.
  2. EXPRESS GRATITUDE – If you are feeling any level of gratitude you can’t possibly hang onto anger. By definition gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” There is nothing negative in having grace for what you already have in your life that makes you happy. If you are feeling gratitude, express it. Tell your husband why he is so incredibly important to you, call your sister and let her know that she has changed your life just by being born, send flowers, comment positively on a social media post, make a list of all of the things that made you smile today. I could go on and on, but the moral of the story is that if you focus on being thankful, it takes a bit of the sting out of the struggle.
  3. BE BRAVE – I have said this numerous times on this blog and elsewhere, and I still believe it wholeheartedly. One of the very best ways to get your mojo back is to do something that you didn’t think you could do. Go ahead, prove yourself wrong and get some of that power and control back in your life. It’s funny how much easier life feels as a whole when you know that you are capable of enormous courage.
  4. INDULGE IN A GUILTY PLEASURE – Mine is really terrible reality TV. When I am having a bad morning, nothing resets my mind like The Bachelor or Teen Mom (1 & 2). I am on the edge of my seat waiting for Bachelor in Paradise to start up in August. Whatever the small,  joy inducing pleasure, give yourself permission to indulge and enjoy it! You’ll feel immediately better, if only superficially, which isn’t a necessarily a negative thing if you are attempting to reverse a bad mood or attitude.
  5. MAKE A DECISION – Sometimes, the simple act of thinking through a problem and making a decision one way or another can alleviate a good amount of stress. Too often we agonize over decisions or “next steps” because we aren’t sure we are doing the right thing or making the right choice. But, if you make it a point to think through the situation as well as the  pro’s and con’s you can start making moves toward a resolution. There is freedom and strength in taking control of the situation and doing something to make it better. Just make the decision and start.

Gorgeous photography courtesy of Julia Trotti. Find her brilliant work here! 

View more of our Creative Lifestyle posts in the archives!

Read More

Let’s be honest, checking your social media networks can sometimes put quite a damper one your self esteem. Even the most experienced and confident users are guilty of posting a gorgeous image of their work or a life event only to second guess it as soon as they see another accounts carefully curated and well thought out feed.

It is incredibly easy to fall into a comparison trap, becoming obsessed with how your life appears to others and overly conscious of every move you make online. And, even though your feed is be getting a good amount of followers or likes, you may still be concerned that it’s not as good as the others out there. We know, we know. We’ve all been there at one time or another.

So, what can you do when you love the thrill that you get from viewing and sharing posts with users from around the world, but you also get a pit in your stomach the minute you start scrolling through the perfection that is your follow list? These 5 tips will give you the ability to fulfill your social media craving while keeping your self esteem perfectly in tact.

5 WAYS TO MANAGE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA & PROTECT YOUR SELF ESTEEM

  1. DETERMINE YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC – When you are looking through your newsfeed, it is easy to forget that you may be “speaking” to a different demographic than someone else who posts only color coded, pre-planned perfection. Think about the purpose of your feed and who is meant to see it? If you are a Mama who loves sharing pics of your kids with far away loved ones, you absolutely should not feel the pressure to do it the same way as the Mommy Blogger with 60,000 followers and multiple sponsors. Keep in mind that the Mommy Blogger more than likely has an extensive knowledge of photography and photoshop due to YEARS of curating their content. Some of these users even have professional hairstylists, makeup artists and photographers that help them with each and every photoshoot.
  2. DEFINE YOUR CONTENT STYLE – Now that you know who your demographic is, start thinking about the best way to reach them and to have them take notice of your content. Some followers adore a heavily photoshopped image with a magical format and gorgeous colors, while others truly want to see raw, real life. For instance, a travel blogger may have the goal of giving their followers a glimpse into their lives, the good and bad, so they will most likely opt for a less edited and more realistic photo collage. But, a children’s photographer who specializes in fine art or creatively set up portrait photography may have a much more planned composition and a more defined edit. Determine which works best for your personal style and the purpose of your feed and run with it. Don’t worry about what another user is posting if the style doesn’t line up. (Master Tip: Check out these social media planning tools that will help you to style your content as needed!)
  3. TAKE A BREAK  – This may seem counterproductive to your ultimate goal, but trust me, it’s not. I’m sure you have heard the saying, “take care of yourself first”, and it absolutely applies to social media. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, are in hardcore comparison mode, or are just exhausted with the whole thing, take a little break. When you make the conscious choice to return to tending your feed, you will feel replenished and revived, and you will make better choices about how to handle and manage your networks. Sometimes, you need to listen to that little voice telling you that it’s time to step back.
  4. ENGAGE – The more that I engage with others on social media, the better I feel. There is nothing more confidence boosting than giving a compliment and making someone else day, so I try to do it often. See an instagram image that blows your mind? Tell the user! Can’t get enough of the design work you came across on a business feed? Let the user know that you are obsessed! They will appreciate the boost and before you know it, you’ll have built a community of like minded friends on social media that will take care to send positive vibes one another’s way!
  5. CREATE VISUAL CONTENT THAT YOU LOVE – It is hard to hear, mainly because we all want to fit in and hang out with the popular crowd, but at the end of the day, your parents were right. The only person that has to like it is you. Don’t feel the need to share everything with everybody, but make sure that the content that you do post gives you flutters in your heart. If you love it, there is nothing to compare. Just do you and let the others do them.

Interested in learning how we curate, manage, and plan our own business and personal social media networks. Check out our online course here!  We would love to see you there!

 

Read More

How to Make It

Step 1

Line 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with wax paper; lightly grease and flour wax paper. Set pans aside.

Step 2

Stir together the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Step 3

Crack 3 Large eggs into a large mixing bowl and add the following to the bowl:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until blended. Fold in the shredded carrot and add the following ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut

Pour batter into previously prepared cake pans.

Step 4

Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Once removed, cool still in the pans on wire racks 15 minutes.

Step 5

After 15 minutes, remove cakes from the pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Step 6

Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Leave it plain or delicately decorate with walnuts, pistachios,  piped frosting,  or sprinkled nutmeg.

 

** Looking to add a bit of flair to your cake, no matter the season or weather? Add extra spice, rum, or brown butter during the cold months. During the spring or Summer, don’t be afraid to decorate it with gorgeous floral elements or maybe even hints of seasonal fruit.

Read More

I HOPE YOU DANCE – No, I really do. In a literal way, not so much in a “life goals” kind of way; although I am 100 percent behind that as well.

A couple of weeks ago, a close friend who I hadn’t seen for a few months (she left NYC for Atlanta shortly after her wedding, so we were having a bit of a catchup sesh) asked me how the different areas of my business were coming along and if I was up to anything new. I filled her in briefly on the new online business courses I was offering as well as the expansion of my speaking and writing engagement services and how I was fitting it all together. After a bit of a rundown on the ins and outs of these services, she said, “so, are you just loving it?”

Honestly, I didn’t know how to answer that question. I LOVED creating the courses, I LOVED interacting with other super awesome creative entrepreneurs, I LOVED telling my story and helping others become the best them that they can be. I was madly in love with every single aspect of providing these courses from start to finish, except for one small thing. I hate public speaking. And, as is frequently the case when it comes to things we fear, that one, small, scary aspect puts an enormous black cloud over the parts that I love. Isn’t that just the pits?

My friend’s response? Then why are you doing it?

If I am being real with you, this is always my favorite question when it comes to each aspect of my life, especially the ones that include facing my fears head on. Don’t other people do this on the daily? Is this not what it means to be a human? Doesn’t EVERYONE do the things they fear as long as it’s something they think is important to do? Unfortunately, the answer is no in some cases, and I think that has to change.

How do I do the things that absolutely scare me, but that I know are the things that are going to be best for me in the end? I dance it out. Before each and every public speaking engagement, class or workshop, or even just sharing my “close to the heart” creative work, I flip on the Britany or the Marvin Gaye or The Cure (usually The Cure) and I dance. There is no doubt in mind that I look silly, I am the product of a Father who has zero rhythm and fast dances at weddings by wiggling his heel around on the ground while he swings his hips in the opposite direction. There is no possible way that I look awesome when I am dancing, but I do it, because that is how I get out the negative, scary energy and relax my mind enough to push through the fear.

My suggestion isn’t necessarily that you dance it out if that isn’t your thing (or you are in the airport FREAKING OUT over flying); I am simply suggesting that when you are terrified of something that you want to do,  instead of walking away, try doing something that will change your energy and will make your impossible possible.  There is really nothing that feels better in life than doing something you didn’t think you could do. It resets  your power and teaches you that you are unstoppable.

Those are things everyone needs.

Read More

Doesn’t it always seems that when one thing in your life goes wrong, every other part of your experience seems to follow closely behind? You know what they say, “when it rains, it pours.” I have recently begun to wonder if it is me causing the ball to continue rolling downhill or if it is a natural occurrence that happens in the universe (mercury in retrograde?). Honestly, I think it is me. Here is why: Mindset

Sure, my theory isn’t exactly scientific, however; I think there is something to be said for the energy that you put into the world, and I think that the mind is where that energy originates. Think about it this way: if you could magically adjust your mindset when things are on the downslide, would it make a difference to your lifestyle, business, or relationships? Is it possible that your positive vibes would stop that negativity in its tracks and set you on the path to happier days? I think so.

So, when times are tough and you can’t seem to find a light at the end of the tunnel, how can you make a mindset change that will keep you positive and moving forward?

  1. LISTEN TO YOURSELF – If you have had a series of negative experiences and you’re feeling defeated, listen to yourself and know when to rest. We aren’t big on quitting here at The Art Of, but we do adore a good R & R session now and then, and it seems especially needed when its “pouring.” Instead of flashing a fake smile and trying to push through the situation, give yourself a mental health day. Allow yourself to feel the feelings that you are experiencing, but decide that you are going to wash it away at the end of the day and start fresh. Trying to fight your sadness, anger, or negative feelings will only make it harder to set them aside.
  2. EXPRESS GRATITUDE – If you are feeling any level of gratitude you can’t possibly hang onto anger. By definition gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” There is nothing negative in having grace for what you already have in your life that makes you happy. If you are feeling gratitude, express it. Tell your husband why he is so incredibly important to you, call your sister and let her know that she has changed your life just by being born, send flowers, comment positively on a social media post, make a list of all of the things that made you smile today. I could go on and on, but the moral of the story is that if you focus on being thankful, it takes a bit of the sting out of the struggle.
  3. BE BRAVE – I have said this numerous times on this blog and elsewhere, and I still believe it wholeheartedly. One of the very best ways to get your mojo back is to do something that you didn’t think you could do. Go ahead, prove yourself wrong and get some of that power and control back in your life. It’s funny how much easier life feels as a whole when you know that you are capable of enormous courage.
  4. INDULGE IN A GUILTY PLEASURE – Mine is really terrible reality TV. When I am having a bad morning, nothing resets my mind like The Bachelor or Teen Mom (1 & 2). I am on the edge of my seat waiting for Bachelor in Paradise to start up in August. Whatever the small,  joy inducing pleasure, give yourself permission to indulge and enjoy it! You’ll feel immediately better, if only superficially, which isn’t a necessarily a negative thing if you are attempting to reverse a bad mood or attitude.
  5. MAKE A DECISION – Sometimes, the simple act of thinking through a problem and making a decision one way or another can alleviate a good amount of stress. Too often we agonize over decisions or “next steps” because we aren’t sure we are doing the right thing or making the right choice. But, if you make it a point to think through the situation as well as the  pro’s and con’s you can start making moves toward a resolution. There is freedom and strength in taking control of the situation and doing something to make it better. Just make the decision and start.

Gorgeous photography courtesy of Julia Trotti. Find her brilliant work here! 

View more of our Creative Lifestyle posts in the archives!

Read More

Let’s be honest, checking your social media networks can sometimes put quite a damper one your self esteem. Even the most experienced and confident users are guilty of posting a gorgeous image of their work or a life event only to second guess it as soon as they see another accounts carefully curated and well thought out feed.

It is incredibly easy to fall into a comparison trap, becoming obsessed with how your life appears to others and overly conscious of every move you make online. And, even though your feed is be getting a good amount of followers or likes, you may still be concerned that it’s not as good as the others out there. We know, we know. We’ve all been there at one time or another.

So, what can you do when you love the thrill that you get from viewing and sharing posts with users from around the world, but you also get a pit in your stomach the minute you start scrolling through the perfection that is your follow list? These 5 tips will give you the ability to fulfill your social media craving while keeping your self esteem perfectly in tact.

5 WAYS TO MANAGE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA & PROTECT YOUR SELF ESTEEM

  1. DETERMINE YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC – When you are looking through your newsfeed, it is easy to forget that you may be “speaking” to a different demographic than someone else who posts only color coded, pre-planned perfection. Think about the purpose of your feed and who is meant to see it? If you are a Mama who loves sharing pics of your kids with far away loved ones, you absolutely should not feel the pressure to do it the same way as the Mommy Blogger with 60,000 followers and multiple sponsors. Keep in mind that the Mommy Blogger more than likely has an extensive knowledge of photography and photoshop due to YEARS of curating their content. Some of these users even have professional hairstylists, makeup artists and photographers that help them with each and every photoshoot.
  2. DEFINE YOUR CONTENT STYLE – Now that you know who your demographic is, start thinking about the best way to reach them and to have them take notice of your content. Some followers adore a heavily photoshopped image with a magical format and gorgeous colors, while others truly want to see raw, real life. For instance, a travel blogger may have the goal of giving their followers a glimpse into their lives, the good and bad, so they will most likely opt for a less edited and more realistic photo collage. But, a children’s photographer who specializes in fine art or creatively set up portrait photography may have a much more planned composition and a more defined edit. Determine which works best for your personal style and the purpose of your feed and run with it. Don’t worry about what another user is posting if the style doesn’t line up. (Master Tip: Check out these social media planning tools that will help you to style your content as needed!)
  3. TAKE A BREAK  – This may seem counterproductive to your ultimate goal, but trust me, it’s not. I’m sure you have heard the saying, “take care of yourself first”, and it absolutely applies to social media. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, are in hardcore comparison mode, or are just exhausted with the whole thing, take a little break. When you make the conscious choice to return to tending your feed, you will feel replenished and revived, and you will make better choices about how to handle and manage your networks. Sometimes, you need to listen to that little voice telling you that it’s time to step back.
  4. ENGAGE – The more that I engage with others on social media, the better I feel. There is nothing more confidence boosting than giving a compliment and making someone else day, so I try to do it often. See an instagram image that blows your mind? Tell the user! Can’t get enough of the design work you came across on a business feed? Let the user know that you are obsessed! They will appreciate the boost and before you know it, you’ll have built a community of like minded friends on social media that will take care to send positive vibes one another’s way!
  5. CREATE VISUAL CONTENT THAT YOU LOVE – It is hard to hear, mainly because we all want to fit in and hang out with the popular crowd, but at the end of the day, your parents were right. The only person that has to like it is you. Don’t feel the need to share everything with everybody, but make sure that the content that you do post gives you flutters in your heart. If you love it, there is nothing to compare. Just do you and let the others do them.

Interested in learning how we curate, manage, and plan our own business and personal social media networks. Check out our online course here!  We would love to see you there!

 

Read More

Honestly, it’s no secret that I am an ANTHROPOLOGIE groupie. I love everything about the retail conglomerate, from the cozy, indie feeling that I get when I walk into one of their stores to the pretty product images that they share on their website and social media networks.

Sure, Anthropologie can be slightly expensive, but you can also find some real gems mixed in with the big dollar items. One of my favorite categories is the Wellness Category, because who couldn’t use a bit of self love, right? I thought that since I have such a love affair with a few of these items, I would share them with you and hope that they bring you a bit of happiness as well.

My Top 5 Favorite Anthropolgie Wellness Products:

 

If you love candles, Wicks and Stones Infinity Candles are right up your alley. These pretty and incredibly gorgeous smelling candles will not only brighten the mood in your personal space, but they also carry aromatherapy properties that will lift your mood and set you on a great mental path. Find it here.

 

Inner Beauty is always a top priority, and I am sure you have an abundance of it already living inside of you, but it doesn’t hurt to give yourself a boost here and there. These tasty, power packing dietary supplements will help you excel, whether that means it helps you sleep a bit better or glow more from the inside out. Get Glow here and Sleep here!

I don’t ever feel like I get enough water, and have found that having a pretty bottle that allows me to visually see my intake helps greatly. This gorgeousness from Longevity does just that. And if you believe in the power of crystals on your personal energy you can’t go wrong. Find the Turquoise Crystal Bottle here and the Pink Here. 

I adore a great yoga session, but I also love the idea of looking at a pretty motif while I am in the middle of a sweat sesh. This Paisley Yoga Mat does just that and has an excellent non-slip texture that makes me feel safe to push my practice to the next level. Get this Paisley beauty here. 

LUK, an Australian beauty company that combines lovely colors with whole foods and ingredients is all the rage in the natural beauty market. This Beautifood Lip Nourish delivers an incredible amount of moisture and ranges in from sheer to solid colors depending on your mood. Check out this life changing product here. 

 

* All images courtesy or Anthropologie

Read More

Ugh, Starting Over… This past 12 months has been rough. I have talked about this couple of times on the blog, and it’s possible I am starting to sound a bit like I am dwelling, but the truth is, I am recovering.

Recovering from what? 

Recovery is an interesting word. It implies a previous illness, or a lingering physical or emotional burden, but in reality, it is so many things. This has been twelve months of losing people that I love; the same twelve months in which I made a poor business decision that cost me thousands of dollars and still has me building and restructuring to make up for it. The year that I failed and lost over and over again. But the good news, is there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I can see it, and I am moving toward it. That, my friends, is my version of recovery.

How did failure & loss effect me?

I’ll be completely honest. This past year, for the first time in a very long time, my business wasn’t my number one priority. That was a hard pill to swallow, but my priorities had shifted, not because I wanted them to shift, but because sometimes that’s just how life is. It throws you a curve ball or two (or four) and you adjust.

Add to that the fact that my business is a central part of who I am. I love what I do, every single second of it. I actually think that is why I am still here, working in the industry. I love it so much that I absolutely refuse to quit. No matter what. The idea that my business was affected during this particularly less than desirable time of life truly keeps me up at night. But what can you do? You just go on. You failed, you lost. Keep moving.

What’s Next? 

The way I see it, sometimes starting over can be the most liberating experience you will ever have. A clean slate, a bit of fresh air, the room to create the future. Freedom. And in my opinion this is when it matters most, because you get to learn from your past and make choices that will effect your new normal. You know that saying, “if I knew then what I know now…”? Now you do! Use the lessons and the feelings to let go and move on to the next phase, whatever that means for you.

I am embracing the space and the room to breathe. My business will be stronger for it and I will have a new lesson to carry with me. Cheers to starting over.

XOXO,

Tori

Read more about Harper Maven Design and our advice for career gals here.