Friday, August 31, 2012

Photography Friday: Moving out in front of the lens...

I love taking pictures.  And I love photography.  I love it for its form and feel and ability to capture a moment.  I also love it because it means that if I'm the one one taking the picture, I'm the one not in the picture.  As gregarious as I can be sometimes, I'm super self-conscious.  Even more so when I don't feel like I'm in top form, which seems like has been true for the greater part of last year.

I think of the quotes that came out of the speeches in NYC, one of the ones that resonated with me was about doing things that scare you.  I'd heard something similar before, and I've been trying to incorporate that across the year - attending a design conference since I'm not a designer (but I love it!), attending photography workshops since I'm not a photographer (but I love it!), writing a weekly column even though I'm not a writer (but I love it!)...

I don't love being in front of the camera, but in being much more active about practicing my own photography, I found it was getting easier and easier and easier just not to be in any pictures at all.  From our vacations, there are maybe a handful where my daughter and I are together, half of which I delete because I don't like my hair, or smile, or face.  I know it's vain, but I can't help but think that my daughter should only have pictures where I think I look my best.  We have even fewer as an entire  family, and pictures of only me are strictly verboten.  It occurred to me that my daughter might look back and actually not have much idea what her mother looked like during the first few years of her life.

So today's photography Friday is about moving from behind the lens to in front of it, and the charming and talented Justin Hackworth agreed to help me crawl out of my shell.  They say that to become a better photographer, you yourself should have pictures taken every so often so that you know what your subjects and clients feel like, so that you know what its like to be uncomfortable and exactly what makes people feel better...or worse. And in that sense, there could be no better teacher than Justin.  He zeroed in on what I was hoping for and then took it organically from there.  In fact, we had so much fun that I forgot about those few extra, stubborn pounds, the highlights I didn't have time to do, or the manicure I missed...He made me feel like the best version of myself, regardless of all that other stuff.  Look for a few updated shots out and about on the blog, since that was the purpose of the shots, but here are couple I thought I would share too.  And here's to being a little less scared...

All photos by Justin Hackworth.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

ALT Summit: A Lovely Dinner Party...

Last week, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Sunday Suppers dinner party.  I'd heard of Sunday Suppers before, and full disclosure, I knew it was something I should probably know more about, but I wasn't particularly sure if it was a cookbook...a cooking class...a religious event of some kind? Not sure...what it was though was just about the most lovely dinner party.

You'll have your doubts when you arrive...after figuring out how to even get to Brooklyn. Not that it's all that hard but the directions when the directions are "Take the boat to Brooklyn" and you don't know the city all that well to begin with.  I went on into full tourist mode using the exact same methods I use when I don't speak a local language - roving around repeating my destination until someone helps me.  "Brooklyn? Brooklyn? BROOKLYN?!?"

It takes a little map work...and a ferry...and a cab...and a hike up four flights of stairs in what looks to be a rather dubious warehouse. But you arrive and open the door to a white, open space, with a picture perfect view of the city, jam packed with beautiful produce and full of smells that scream the definition of fresh.
I'll confess, I haven't been so great about throwing my own dinner parties - part of its time, part of its space...But last week reminded me that a good dinner party really is just made up of a few tried and true rules, and last week made me inspired to get to entertaining all over again:
  • Calm in the kitchen: At Sunday Suppers, Karen and her staff prep and cook completely in the open.  No shouting, no stress, no clanging...I can't imagine that things go right 100% of the time - the never do in my own kitchen but no one has to know that...exuding that calmness makes your guests feel calm.  Smiling makes your guests smile. 
  • Good ingredients mean good meals: And good ingredients don't necessarily mean expensive ingredients (though they can be!) - fresh ingredients don't need a lot of complicated preparation, just enough to let the flavors shine through.  Give your guests some hint at what's to come - at Sunday Suppers baskets of produce that would go into the dessert or salad were on display - they're beautiful but they also build excitement for the meal.
  • Dinner parties are about companionship: That's the whole point, right? If you invite other people to eat with you, it's because you want to see them, get to know them better.  Same thing if you accept an invitation.  At Sunday Suppers, the organizers made us change tables after every course so in the end, you finished having meaningful conversations with more than just your left and your right, since your left and right changed several times over.  During my first course, I sat next to Design Mom (how's that for luck?), and then proceeded to meet to many interesting people to include a librarian from Argentan (luckily a nice bordeaux helps my rusty French), a state representative from Utah, a jewelry designer from Texas, and a fellow graduate from the IR sphere, not to mention several other really interesting bloggers and designers.
  • Think about what your guests will appreciate and enjoy: Joss and Main, the design sale site, was the sponsor of the dinner and they really thought through what bloggers themselves would enjoy. Their takeaway? A portable battery recharger for iphones - so for an audience of people addicted to their iphones getting ready for a full day the next day, it couldn't have been more perfect.  Make sure that you think through your guests point of view, they'll notice.
  • Details matter, but details don't dictate: It's not about having flouffy, complicated things, but it's about having a few really special things.  Our tables were set with such lovely flowers and vines, with hand calligraphy menus on a copy run of a New York Times page, and a jar of home made pickles, and every single one of those says "I took time for you".  As a guest, between personal touches, amazing food and engaging conversation, what more can you ask for?

More photos from Sunday Suppers for ALT Summit on the photostream.
All photos by Justin Hackworth.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ALT Summit: New York by iphone...

New York, New York! Inspiration at every corner it seems.  I'm always amazed at how at nearly every trip I manage to discover something totally new.  This time it was the East River Ferry (never had a ride on it before - I would definitely take it again just to go end to end to get more of the "NYC by waterway" tour), the Martha Stewart headquarters (never seen where a magazine is produced, not to mention the workspaces of some of my career heroes), a trip down to Wall Street (never saw the flag covered building - I didn't get an iphone snap I was so mesmerized), and of course, the experience of being surrounded by people infinitely more creative than I in spaces more creative than I've ever seen.   I even wore a temporary tattoo!  And I got a picture with Cookie Monster! I think that's pretty good for less than 48 hours in the city, n'est pas?


Monday, August 27, 2012

ALT Summit: The Quotable Recap...

Alt Summit 2012_NYC

There already so many wonderful recaps coming out of the ALT Summit attendees.  If there's one thing that other bloggers are excellent at, it's sharing.  I'm still learning stuff that I missed...and I was there!

I walked away with lots of ideas and inspirations - ironically, probably just as many for my day job...or for my role as a mom....or as a person who aspires to be more creative in general...than I did for my job.  And I also noticed a big difference in themes between the event in Salt Lake City from earlier this year and the New York event.  While both were full of fantastic advice on a myriad of topics, what I really took away from this particular event was that it was okay - and also likely probable and maybe even preferable - that you keep something on your creative side just for you.  Not everything has to be monetized, and not everything has to be a negotiation.  There was a reoccurring theme in January about "not working for free" - and I agree with that if blogging/photography/etc is what you do for a living (as living requires money), but for me it was always a leap because while the blog isn't easy, I don't consider it "working".  My day job is my work, and it plays a certain role, but having the blog allows me to pursue other avenues, and learn new things, and meet new people, that I otherwise wouldn't come across, and that makes me a better thinker overall across many fronts.  And that made me inspired all over again...

So to that end, here are some thoughts from the speakers and panels that really stuck with me - and I think they apply to just about any career or personal path you might choose to pursue...

Alt Summit 2012_NYC
  • "We set our goals for the person we are when we set them - not the person we become when we achieve them." Dan Gilbert, from Tina Roth Eisenberg's keynote
  • "If you want a creative life, then passive income will be your key." Tina Roth Eisenberg
  • "I feel that I am right...but I don't know that I am."Albert Einstein, from Tina Roth Eisenberg's Keynote, on gut feelings
  • "We systematically over-value the value of information, and undervalue the value of each other." Clay Shirky,  from Tina Roth Eisenberg's Keynote
  • "If you can be a fair judge of yourself, you won't have to rely on the opinions of others." Tina Roth Eisenberg
  • "I don't want to manage more people than can eat from one pizza." Tina Roth Eisenberg
  • "You can see the hustle in people in their side projects." Tina Roth Eisenberg
  • "17 bags of Ruffles taste better from a sterling silver punch bowl." Kevin Sharkey
  • "It's creative entrepreneurs that will lead the New American Economy." Martha Stewart Panel
  • "We're not a start up anymore but we should be working as though we are - everyone should be rolling up their sleeves." Martha Stewart Panel
  • "Blogging is hard work." Martha Stewart
  • "When you're through changing, then you're through." Martha Stewart
  • "It's a good thing...until you discover a better thing." Martha Stewart
  • "So...what are you bringing?" David Koren

Friday, August 24, 2012

ALT Summit: Recovery Friday

Normally we have Photography Friday today but after all the events of ALT, I think I’m going to need to sit this one out as a recovery Friday instead.  There’s an expression in Farsi that translates into “my head is crowded” – it was a fantastic day yesterday and just like in January, I came away inspired and motivated.  I learned a ton, and just like in January, not necessarily in the areas that I originally thought – which is one of the phenomenal things about ALT.  You’ll not only be amazed, you’ll be surprised.  So in that vein, I’m going to unplug a little to give all these crowded things in my head a bit of space to process – back on Monday! Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

ALT Summit: A POP of Color!

A POP of Color!

In NYC for the ALT Summit tonight and tomorrow and couldn't be more excited.  The conference and afterparty are being hosted by the Martha Stewart offices, so that's one thing off my bucket list - I have always wanted to get a feel for what this workspace is really like that supports such a unique brand.    The theme weaving through all of tomorrow will be a POP of color - still deciding on a final choice for me but am contemplating several from the collection above.  But wherever you are, here's to a little pop pop of color that makes this a fantastic Thursday for you!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

ALT Summit: THE Guide to NYC Guides...

So you're coming to New York? The city that never sleeps? The city that has it all? The city that fill in any superlative statement? Yep, those are precisely the reasons to go to New York and to love every minute.  However, because it's the city that literally has anything and everything, it can be a bit overwhelming.  Even if you're looking for a guide, it's not clear on where to start, so I thought I'd pull together a little compilation of the guides that have become my go-to when I head out for NYC.

What have been your favorites guides and tips for New York?  I know there's lots more out there so share your ideas - also, if you have your own guide to the city, add your link in the comments!

From the Blogosphere:

A Blog about Love's Guide to Manhattan Restaurants: In addition to knowing a thing or two about love, Mara and Danny definitely know a thing about eating, so check out their list for where to consume just about any kind of food in the city.

The Parket ETC Guide to NYC: A great collection of posts on different aspects to NYC, but see the "like a local" page on how to flag a cab and other helpful hints.  Hint: those lights on the cab actually mean something.

Cup of Jo's NYC Guide: Love this collection of inside scoops on the city - Joanna Goddard really picks some cool things I otherwise would not have tried or found on my own.  Some of those underground massage parlors? Turns out they're legit.

Design Sponge City Guide to Harlem: This funky neighborhood is often not on the beaten path but has so much history, definitely an NYC must.

Note to Self's Tribute to NYC Movies: Get in the spirit for your upcoming visit with this little collage of NYC cinema!

New York City Apps:

Goop City Guide to NYC: Who wouldn't want to act like Gwynnie in New York? Best of all, it's an app right to your phone so you always have it on you.

WallPaper City Guide to New York: Wallpaper's little pantone like books have been a go-to travel staple of mine for awhile.   You can tuck them in just about anywhere, but now the new app format puts all you need to know on your digital self.  Still, I love to collect the hardcopies for all their colors.

CityDoping NYC Guide: The app built for seeing New York like a local - it promises to take you right to the places that New Yorkers would actually go, rather than places people visiting New York would like to go.  Fancy little video about it too.

A guide on Pinterest:

Wayfare's NYC: A new twist on a guide, Wayfare pulled all of their go-to ideas in one single Pinterest board - happy re-pinning!

From the online mag-o-sphere:

Monocle's 25 Series Guide to NYC: Everything you need to know about NYC literally on one page.  Download the pdf and take it with you on every trip, it will point you in the right direction on nearly any need you might have.

Fathom's Guide to New York:  I love this new entrant into online travel reporting, and their NYC picks don't disappoint, from which souvenirs to pick up and how to travel the city solo, this collection of helpful articles and picks has you covered.  They also have more special interest guides to the city, like how to have a fairytale romance in NYC, and a fun, colorful collaboration with Kate Spade.

36 Hours in New York City: The NYTimes 36 hours series is still my favorite go-to when I only have a quick trip to a city.  This one is from a couple of years ago but still a good guide on how to structure a quick-hit.

Three Perfect Days: New York City: Similar to the above, the TPD series from the United Magazine always gives me good ideas on how to structure a short visit to a city, and always makes me take advantage of transit time to see or do something I wouldn't otherwise.

Elle Decor Goes to Brooklyn: This MADE me want to see Brooklyn asap, and makes you realize that the boroughs of the city are no slouches either.

New York City's New Downtown: Travel and Leisure's picks for a neighborhood I frequently find myself in for work.

New York Magazine: Um, I use the online magazine site for just about everything: great articles, restaurant recommendations and how to do just about anything in NYC. And a hard copy for the train always gets me excited for the next trip!

T + L's Guide to Dynamic NYC Neighborhoods: New picks from the September 2012 issue (dedicated to NYC!) from the Tribeca, Harlem, and Williamsburg neighborhood - lots of recommendations for brand new places for eating...seeing..doing!

Design Revolution in Chelsea: More new picks, all focused on design, from T+L as well as as a neighborhood walking tour.

NYC Architecture by H20: One of my favorite things I've done in Chicago was to take the architectural cruise from the river since it's the best way to see some of the gorgeous unique buildings that define it - NYC has finally gotten smart to it and offers a cruise as well, fabulously written up in the NYT.  Definitely on my list for our next visit! Look through the slideshow for an early preview.

This post was updated again on May 21, 2013.

Monday, August 20, 2012

ALT Summit: In the bag...

In my ALT Bag...

So we're just about there! ALT Summit sessions start this week but already thinking about the kick-off dinner with Karen Modechai's Sunday Suppers on Wednesday...mmmm.  Already hungry!

Thsi week will be a bit crazy, so I'm already getting my essentials packed for so that I don't forget anything - here's what's in my bag:

1. Tote Bag: Something big and roomy since it will need to fit all of the below items, the goodies that are bound to pop up, not to mention all the inspiration we're all bound to collect from the event.

2. Business Card Case: Full of business cards of course...

3. Extra envelopes: Earlier this year in Salt Lake City, I collected so many beautiful business cards, but when I got home, I had trouble figuring out whom I met where, with the exception of those I met at the resource party since I put them in a separate envelope.  That worked well so this time I'm bringing extra so that I can keep some order to the cards that are sure to go around.  One for dinner, one for the conference, one for cocktails, etc.

4. My iphone: This probably should have been the first item right?

5. Almond butter packs: If Salt Lake City was any indication, I definitely don't expect there to be any shortage of food but sometimes you need a burst of energy in the city at random moments.  A tip from my nutritionist, I adore these little packs of nut butters made with sea salt.  They're small and will pick you up right quick. Kind of like those weird gel packs the marathoners siphon down but yummier.

6. Flats: I'm going to at least make an attempt at braving the heels but I always carry flats as a back up, and I'll definitely need them as I'm running to catch the last train back to DC from Penn Station.  I discovered these Mila flats in the spring, and they've been my go-to every since.

7. Brush-up essentials: I'd like to think that I'll carry a full make up case and transition to a whole evening look for the cocktail but the truth is, that's not me.  But powder (I hate shine) and chapstick (I hate dry lips), that's all me. 

8. Make up pouch: for the above essentials.  A little floss and mascara wouldn't hurt either.

9. Pen and Paper: To write down all my new brilliant ideas at the conference and on the train.  My heart belongs to Moleskine notebooks always, but maybe this is a good trip to try out their New York edition.  Having a paper map of the city never hurt anyone, no matter what google maps will try to tell you!

Anymore and it might just get to be much to much - but did I forget anything?
And if you're still wondering what to pack, don't miss the list of 15 Things I Should Have Packed from the Salt Lake City meeting earlier this year.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Photography Friday: Welcome Home and Bravo Zulu!

Today's Photography Friday is a bit more personal in nature than usual, but I couldn't help but share these gorgeous pictures celebrating an equally gorgeous moment.  My brother is a pilot for the U.S. Navy (anchors aweigh!), and he's been been deployed for most of this past year on an aircraft carrier all around the world, but mostly around the less friendly neighborhoods.  He and his shipmates miss holidays and birthdays and all sorts of everyday momemnts so that we don't have to. 

A few weeks ago he came home safe and sound, and his wife enlisted her good friend Danielle Gonabe to capture the moment (military wives and moms around San Diego, check this girl out).  The girls couldn't have looked more lovely - and doesn't this kind of make you want a pair of polka dot platforms? And doesn't my brother look a wee bit like the Iceman?

Congratulations to my brother and his entire carrier, couldn't be more proud of you guys (and girls)!  Welcome home and Bravo Zulu!

All photos by Danielle Gonabe.
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