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Monday, December 27, 2010

New Years Resolution: Keep on truckin'

It's that time of the year again! I was recently at a holiday party and a co-worker asked me "what is your new years resolution?" which definitely caught me off-guard. I have to say, I'm not one to make resolutions or to stick with them. For me, the motto that fits me best right now would be "keep on truckin'"...For 2011, I'd like to concentrate on my career, be more healthy and learn new things.

I am trying to apply for business school so studying for the GMAT has taken a large chunk of time outside of the office. Classes during the week and tutoring on the side help keep my focused. I hope that I am well-prepared for the second time around. Getting my MBA is a huge goal in my life and I'm working everyday towards it!

Whether I've been taking cooking classes or photography courses, I've come to realize I love to explore new hobbies. For one of my Christmas gifts, my parents decided to give me a gift certificate to I.C.E since I had such an amazing experience with my first cooking class. I'm very excited but I probably will wait a few months to sign up for a class (maybe when the Spring weather comes back around I'll have more motivation). There are so many great hobbies that I can try so 2011 will be full of new experiences.

Lastly, being healthy is something that I most certainly could work on. Although I am a healthy weight, I feel like I should exercise more. I worked hard to keep my cholesterol at a healthy level by cutting out cheeses, fats and other high-cholesterol food. Before I got a cold, I was jogging every weekend and trying to do some sort of physical activity 1-2 times per week. Even walking vs. taking the elevator makes a big difference.

Overall, 2011 will be an exciting year and I can't wait to read my Chinese astrology horoscope because it never lies!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday gifts for the boss

Forbes recently published an article on the best holidays for your boss. I think that giving a good gift can be difficult because you don't want to be considered a suck-up or seem like you are trying to bribe your boss but you also want to show your appreciation. The article mentioned that picking out an item such as a clothing would require you to know his or her size which could be awkward if you under estimate! However, you don't want to give something useless or impersonal. I think most office-related gifts are a big waste of money: a pen from Tiffany, a clock or a paperweight etc.

This year, my co-workers and I pitched in to give a gift card to our boss. The gift card was to a restaurant group with multiple restaurant options. I think this is a good concept because it's not too impersonal but it's something that you know will be used. Another gift mentioned for the well-traveled manager would be something like noise-canceling headphones. Overall I think the holiday season is a great way to show that you are thankful to have a great boss and a great team. At the end of the day, the people you work with make the difference between an enjoyable experience or "just a job so show your appreciation in whatever form you think is appropriate.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Personalized gifts: M&M's with pictures!

Since the holidays are just around the corner, I remembered that I saw a co-worker with personalized M&M's at a meeting a few months ago. She had her favorite football team's logo done on 2 different colored M&M's and had ordered a few bags full of them. I always thought that was a cool idea but I recently went on the website and you can actually add pictures!

This is un-real. The pictures look so clear and done appear to print perfectly. I'd be curious to order them but I think it would be cute for a baby or child. I don't think it's as cute with an adult's face. Maybe I just don't like Meg & Buddy?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Golden Tree: December 2nd-4th 2010

Come shop at The New York Junior League!

This Friday, I’ll be volunteering all day at The New York Junior League. Golden Tree is a holiday themed shopping event at the headquarters on the Upper East Side. Proceeds go towards the non-profit organization and there are going to be tons of fun events Thursday-Saturday so come stop by!

Always one of Junior League's most festive fundraisers, Golden Tree combines premiere shopping with distinctive foods and beverages, making the event a fantastic way to ring in the holiday season while supporting the charitable endeavors of the NYJL. During the event, the League transforms into a veritable one-stop shopping destination, with a large variety of vendors offering goods ranging from clothing, apparel and accessories to kitchenware, linens and gifts for the home. In addition to shopping, the event will feature daytime entertainment and activities for the first time. On Thursday and Friday evenings, shopping will be complimented by live music, delicious hors d'oeuvres, raffle prizes and a heated outdoor tent housing a whiskey and cigar bar, always a favorite with Golden Tree’s gentlemen patrons! On Saturday, December 4 the League opens its doors to all of Santa’s littlest helpers for Golden Tree Kids! Children of all ages are welcome to take part in activities including arts and crafts, cookie decorating, and a visit from Santa himself!

Check out the website for more information and to purchase tickets:


Monday, November 22, 2010

Socially responsible shoes

When riding the subway, I constantly stare at people's shoes. I don't know if it's because I'm short and I tend to notice things closer to the ground of if I'm just curious to know what brand, color and style people like to wear. However, recently I couldn't help but notice everyone was wearing TOM's shoes. I have seen the commercials on TV but I kept thinking that if he made shoes just to donate another pair to a child in need they couldn't be that comfortable or high quality. However, if everyone is wearing them they can't be bad, right?

I decided to check out the website to see for myself. I didn't realize there were so many choices and colors. I've only seen 2 or 3 different ones in NY. For $40 it's bad a not bad considering if worst case scenario is I hate them or they are uncomfortable, at least I just gave a pair of shoes to a child in need...what's there to lose? After looking at all the colors, I ended up purchasing a pair in gray and I could not be happier. These shoes are very comfortable. They almost feel like an upscale pair of slippers but they have the traction of sneakers and ease of flats.

By purchasing these shoes it has made me a bit more aware of looking into the idea of buying socially responsible/ethical products. I carry a re-usable bag to the grocery store and try to use a mug or reusable water bottle but there are tons of products that are either made from recycled materials or that donate a portion of the profits to a good cause. TOM's shoes are wonderful and I will definitely be happy to purchase a 2nd pair.

Watch the video on the employees talking about their experiences doing a "shoe drop"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Budgeting across cities

When moving to different cities, it can be quite overwhelming to realize the difference in cost of living. Even within the tri-state area of NY, NJ and CT there are huge variances between living in the lap of luxury and living "on a budget" which can be difficult. Today I found an interesting budgeting article from LearnVest which talks about the "2010 Graduate Checklist"regarding post-college budgeting. There was an eye-opening budgeting chart between 4 major cities and I found it fascinating how different each box was from one section to the next!

Although I've mentioned how rent is outrageous in New York, the general expenses are as well. Food, entertainment, transportation and even things that shouldn't cost more like fitness-related expenses or eating healthy are more expensive! So, at the end of the day, it is so important to understand where you are spending your money and what you can do. Even little things like bringing lunch to work can add up over the course of a year. I used to walked 20 blocks from my office to my apartment and that saved me money on transportation and I got about 30 minutes of extra walking/exercise in my day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Simple Fall (extremely flavorful!) Dinners" at I.C.E with Allison

4 hour cooking class @ I.C.E + sample sale = perfect day off!

So today I finally made it to I.C.E. (Institute of Culinary Education) located next to my old building on 23rd Street. I walked in and was immediately greeting by our glowing instructor, Allison. With about 14 students, we did not waste time and tried to get right into our course.

The course was broken down into 3 parts:
Discussion & Demo (1 hr) - Allison went over a quick icebreaker discussing favorite Fall ingredients and did a brief apple tasting
Cook & Plate (2 hrs) - We all broke out into groups of 4-5 to take on cooking a piece of the dinner
Eat & Discuss (1 hr)- My favorite part, eating!

You may be wondering what was on the menu? Well, I'm glad you asked! You may begin salivating now...we enjoyed seared pork chops with caramelized apples and leeks, simple roasted chicken, seared scallops with butternut apple puree, tomato soup with camembert grilled cheese, alsatian tarte flambe, roast sweet potato fries, frisee salad and apple vinaigrette, creamy polenta and apple crumble.

My group broke out and did scallops, pork, polenta, an unsuccessful attempt at the squash puree, roasted chicken and the apple crumble. One of our members, Sal (the only male!), demonstrated how to "truss" a chicken which is wrapping the legs and wings towards the body so that it cooks evenly. He also suggested I take knife skills because I was not chopping correctly - I may look into that class if I want to keep my fingers! I also learned that you can peel an apple in one hand motion although I was literally taking piece by piece off and it took forever.

I helped out with the prep work for most of the dishes but was mainly in charge of the polenta. I guess I was whisking a bit vigorously at first but finally got into the grove. Man, it definitely requires a steady arm and continuous movement - no stopping or you'll get clumps. While I wasn't working, I loved to watch the scallops searing or check on Sal who kept busy on the pork chops in the skillet. Each member got to participate at their own comfort level which was nice because I definitely leaned on the more seasoned students.

Overall, this class was amazing! I learned a lot and it made me happy to be surrounded by people that enjoy cooking at all different levels (although I'm pretty sure no one raised their hands when Allison asked "raise your hand if you'd be afraid to host Thanksgiving dinner" which was cool). I am definitely signing up for more classes in the future and with Allison, she was great.

P.S. - She mentioned Meatless Mondays
Take one night a week to cut out meat consumption to help with personal health and reducing meat consumption thus helping the planet...what a great concept, thanks Allison!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Business Week - Sharing Entrepreneur Experiences via webcam

I stumbled upon an article in Business Week that mentioned Babson's Entrepreneur Experience Lab which "was created to put the voice and the experience of real world entrepreneurs at the center of an ongoing effort to design, develop and experiment with new ways to support entrepreneurs and accelerate new venture creation."

I am a huge fan of the 20 second video's that you can post yourself. Under the last one "What habits do you try to cultivate as an entrepreneur" I played all the videos and really enjoyed the advice.

Some common habits were:

- Focus
- Discipline
- Follow through
- Dream
- Think
- Be optimistic
- Learn something new
- Embrace failure

I think these are all great habits and it is inspiring to hear what is important to people. One women said that she wakes up every morning and asks herself how she can provide value today. To me, thinking outside of the box and being able to solve an un-met need with a solution or a business is a critically important habit which takes time to evolve.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Top 10 Essentials for Business Travel

At work, I've been traveling quite a bit. I decided to create a top 10 list of items that I absolutely cannot leave home without.

10. Clear makeup pouch
Essential for all makeup, makeup remover, moisturizers, toothpaste and toothbrush etc. I usually try to keep in near the top of my carry-on in case I need to remove it.
9. Slippers/Flip Flops
I never walk around my hotel room without them. Although the carpet is probably vacuumed it's probably not cleaned that often.
8. Travel neck pillow
Probably a really good idea for longer flights but I have the kind that you can inflate and it slims down to paper-thin size so it easily fits anywhere.
7. Laptop Bag
In addition to my small carry-on bag, I always make sure to keep my laptop bag on my shoulder. I make sure my laptop can be easily taken out for security. I also make sure all my pockets are zippered before placing my bag in the bin for the X-ray machine.
6. For the flight: lotion and lip balm and body spray
Every time I'm on a flight I feel like my face and lips get so dried out. It's great to keep a small bottle of face cream and a lip balm handy. I also feel like a little body spray doesn't hurt either.
5. A pashmina
They serve as a blanket, a cute accessory to your outfit or even balled up as a small pillow!
4. Nail file
I don't know why but I always end up breaking or chipping a nail when traveling. This is really weird but I've found if you forget one, you can rub your nail in between the grout of a tile and it works just as well.
3. Comfortable PJ's or a nightgown
The most relaxing feeling after a long day on business is being able to slip into something comfy.
2. Travel-size Downy wrinkle releaser
This stuff is amazing - instantly gets rid of wrinkles for easier ironing or touch ups.
1. Ear plugs
I always have a pair of Macks in my wallet. Life saver for crying kids or those loud conversations you don't want to be part of.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shopping Spree Alert!

This week at Clothingline: Milly!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Petit Four Cupcakes

Got my inspiration from Hello Cupcake book. It was really easy to do this, you just microwave the frosting with food dye and dip the cupcakes in it. Then decorate little patterns on the top! They look and taste great.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Are all the young single/child-less women making all the dough?

Today, Time had an article regarding workplace salaries. Titled, Workplace Salaries: At Last, Women on Top.

It stated: "...As for the somewhat depressing caveat that the findings held true only for women who were childless and single: it's not their marital status that puts the squeeze on their income. Rather, highly educated women tend to marry and have children later. Thus the women who earn the most in their 20s are usually single and childless."

I can definitely agree that women tend to wait longer to start a family but I also find it hard to believe that young women in NYC, LA and San Diego make "17%, 12% and 15% more than their male peers..." because I think women have difficulty negotiating their salaries and asking for raises vs. their male counterparts. It can be a difficult task to bring up salaries in the workplace. There is a book I received at a networking event that discusses tips on how to develop a comfortable and personalized negotiation style as well as overcoming fear and gender stereotypes. It can really help to hear other success stories on this topic to help motivate yourself if you feel like you are at a disadvantage. However, if this article validates this trend, I will be curious to see if it continues to hold true in the future.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Saving money on cosmetics

There was a great post from DailyWorth and here are a few points taken from Beauty and the Budget by Heather Allard:

Samples, Please

Shop sites and stores that are generous with samples, like Sephora,, and It pays to try products before you buy (and keep a stash for travel).

Steal the Deals
Coupon sites like Dealigg, CouponSuzy and RetailMeNot feature gorgeous deals, steals, coupons and codes that'll save you BIG money on products and shipping. Blogs like the Budget Babe and Mr. Cheap Stuff deliver chic on the cheap.

Kick It Old School
There's a reason why Vaseline, Dove Soap and Ponds Cold Cream are still around. They work—and they're super cheap! A tube of Vaseline costs $3, lasts forever and works wonders on crow's feet. Ditto for Ponds, which removes makeup in a flash.

I personally use MAC and they will give you a free lip gloss if you return 6 empty products! I think it's a good idea to spend money on cosmetics that last a long time and are high quality. However, I tend to experiment with eye shadows at various price points because sometimes inexpensive brands can be pretty good. Drug stores offer a good variety of options at prices that are very affordable. I use Dove soap to wash my makeup off and Cetaphil lotion to moisturize...I refuse to spend money on anti-aging creams.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Winners are not afraid of losing

One of my favorite sections in Rich Dad Poor Dad is in chapter 6 when Kiyosaki goes on to explain how most people are not rich because they are terrified of losing: "Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success."

As a young working professional, I want to be able to make more money but I also must weigh the risks of investing in a volatile market. Although the stock market has ebs and flows, this past year I jumped at the opportunity to buy blue chip stocks for well below the valued price. Then, I got a little too excited and invested in more risky stocks. I am hoping that in the long run the investments I made in both stable and risky stocks will be worth it.

Yet, the fact that I was able to buy stocks in a bad economy gave me the confidence that taking a bit more risks with my money can pay off because if the fear of trying to make money takes over I can never have a chance of enjoying the success.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Continuing Education?

Today I saw an ad in Time Out New York for Cooper Union's Continuing Education classes. I always thought it would be fun to take a conversational class in Spanish or Italian just to brush up. However, they offer some really great choices: painting, green building design and New York history to name a few. I really want to sign up but I am procrastinating.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Rapid Reading

My apartment building has a lounge with a library full of books. Every now and then I try to give up some of my old books and take a few new ones. A few weeks ago I found a very intriguing book titled "Break-Through Rapid Reading" by Peter Kump. Did you know that less than 1% of Americans can read faster than 400 words per minute? I bet you don't even know your reading rate!*

This book is surprisingly very helpful. I am actually skipping over some sections in order to get to the key takeaways (I know it seems counter intuitive that I am speed reading a rapid reading book) and I have found one key nugget of information:

In chapter 3, the book states that your hand is your built-in reading accelerator. Most people read at about 240 words per min because eyes need about 1/4 of a second to fixate on an object. However using your finger helps eliminate unconscious regressions 10-20%.

This book has some powerful information. I've already started practicing a few of the techniques and have noticed a difference. In the corporate world it is such a wonderful advantage if you are a fast reader. So start using your finger, it may look weird in public but it really helps!

*It can be calculated by finding: (a) words per line read, (b) total lines read, (c) multiply a x b, then divide this number by the minutes you were reading...hence wpm.

Shopping Spree Alert: Milly!

I love Milly!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

NYC Rents on the Rise

This week I was reading an article in The Wall Street Journal that stated rent is rising in Manhattan and the quarterly vacancy rate is at the lowest for the first time in 3 years. Although this is a little bit upsetting (my lease is up soon and I was hoping to bargain pricing) I can't help but feel like I am still spending too much money on rent. I researched on the internet and it seems like the common rule is to allocate "33% of monthly earnings" towards housing. I am definitely spending more than that but I feel like living in New York City is a unique experience and cannot be compared to normal costs of living to anytown, USA etc.

Growing up in New York has unfortunately given me the attitude that "nothing else compares" to the big apple because there is something magical about it. So, if my rent increases, I still want to stay in my doorman building. I love being within a 5-block radius of: 3 different subway lines, a Trader Joes, a million different types of restaurants, a nail salon, a hair salon, a Home Depot, a park, shops and not to mention I still enjoy the fabulous view from my rooftop! I have to splurge a little sometimes.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Are you in the know? Keeping yourself up to date

Whether it is newsletters, blogs, Google alerts, or having The Wall Street Journal delivered to my apartment, I try to keep abreast of any updates and news. I think it is so important to be able to forecast what is coming down the line rather then hear about it after. It is a great conversation starter if you are able to discuss current events with co-workers and bring them up to speed with what you have been reading. Also, passing along e-mails to your manager could help facilitate more communications and tips amongst your team.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fillers you can't get rid, like, you know?

If there is one thing I have learned from Toastmasters, it is to be conscious of speaking clearly and avoid those awkward filler words whenever possible. When people get nervous they have a tendency to speak fast and say "um" a lot. When I mean a lot I mean everything other starting sentence begins with "um" or it is used in between words as a filler. Unfortunately this is a very common habit and it can be difficult to break. I find myself catching myself when I get nervous because I tend to speed up and then I realize that I need to slow down. However, a lot of people don't realize they use so many fillers or talk fast. If you happen to notice you have this tendency, it can be helpful to have a friend or co-worker track the amount of um's and likes you have when you speak because then you can work on improving your speech. It was never really an issue for me until I learned that this habit can be so distracting and even unprofessional at times. So, like if you want to um improve the way you speak, uh it is important to try to cut down on the fillers, you know?!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Personal Board of Directors

A few months ago, I read in Lynette Lewis’s book Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos that women should organize a “personal board of directors.” I have unofficially done this and I consult my board whenever I need advice or help. Lynette suggests that you keep a few key points in mind as you approach your potential “board members”:

What skills are they most proud of? What can you offer in return? Be specific and succinct when you’re requesting help. This is really important because by narrowing down each person’s strengths you are able to make the most of the relationship. On my board I know exactly which member I want to consult if I need help getting something accomplished in the workplace or if I need career advice etc. This concept has really worked well for me. I am able to get different points of view on various issues and each person has their own resources which in turn help me achieve my goals.

In today’s time when people give you advice face to face you should not take it for granted. Lynette puts it nicely: When busy people are generous enough to give you something, such as time, a letter of recommendation, or ideas for your next big venture, never forget to acknowledge them. Do it in a creative way that is memorable and means something to them personally.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


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