Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Not A Model Weekly Mantra - Hillary Clinton

I interrupt my New York recap blog posts to bring you this week's mantra.

It's from the indomitable Hillary Clinton, as she gives advice for young women.

Clinton spoke at Tina Brown's Women in the World Summit. After reading the highlights of her speech (found here), this part of the conversation felt as if she was speaking directly to me. It features some of the best advice on understanding criticism.


"Too many young women I think are harder on than themselves than circumstances warrant. They are too often selling themselves short. They too often take criticism personally instead of seriously. You should take criticism seriously because you might learn something, but you can’t let it crush you. You have to be resilient enough to keep moving forward, whatever the personal setbacks and even insults that come your way might be. That takes a sense of humor about yourself and others. Believe me, this is hard-won advice I’m putting forth. It’s not like you wake up and understand this. It’s a process."Hillary Clinton (via The Cut)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Coffee Diaries - NYC

Four words that turn me off: "I don't drink coffee."

I've dated a few people who don't drink hot beverages. I've even dated someone who hates the smell of coffee. The smell! While it's not a real deal breaker (I'm not a modern day Jerry Seinfeld) it's not aligned with my lifestyle.  

Coffee isn't just about getting caffeinated. I spend hours sitting in cafes typing, writing and sipping. The first thing I do when I get to a new city is find a coffee shop; it's how I situate myself. I love sitting across from someone and connecting over conversation that doesn't involve getting spinach caught in my teeth. I think it's one of the few rituals that hasn't been ruined by technology, (minus taking photos of latte art).

I have my favourite cafe in Toronto, which changes regularly, but right now it's Early Bird on Queen West. This past weekend on my visit to New York, I found some new shops, and visited old favourites. Below is a list of some of my favourite NYC cafes. Enjoy!

Happy Bones - Happy Bones is a coffee shop in Little Italy located on Broome St. It's small, so you may not be able to grab a seat but it's worth the stop. They also source their coffee ethically to support farmers and the owners hail from New Zealand. The cute part? Tortoise shell spoons! (see main photo above). Shout out to Amanda P for the recommendation.

Toby's Estate Brooklyn - When living in Brooklyn that summer, Toby's just opened in Williamsburg and I spent all of my time sitting and staring out the large black paneled window, while pretending that this environment could make me write the next great something. Toby's also sources their coffee sustainably from farmers all over the world, and they offer private brewing classes for coffee enthusiasts. 

Dunwell Doughnuts - I'm not really a coffee and doughnut kind of woman, but this vegan doughnut shop is my favourite stop for a little guilt-free indulgence. With over 200 flavours, (I'm partial to peanut butter and jelly) this cafe is a sweet spot in East Williamsburg, and the best place to satisfy that doughnut craving you didn't even know you had. Their drip coffee is also 10 times better than anything you'd find in an actual doughnut shop. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

The New York City Ban

The last time I visited New York was seven months ago.

It was Labour Day weekend, and it marked a full year since my previous summer spent living in Brooklyn. During my visit, I felt different about the city that I was attached to. I tried to push myself away from the experience; the way you do when you love something, but you know it no longer serves you. On that visit, I came to the realization that I wasn't going to find my way back there.

I needed a reality check. I had only lived there for a summer, not a century. I was still a tourist in most regards. When I got home from that trip, I imposed upon myself a New York City ban. I didn't book my usual trips for Halloween or New Years Eve; I stayed put. I focused on local ambitions. I found my own place. I committed to my job.

Once I was settled in Toronto, I felt that I could book a trip back, without having to push anything away. I was ready to embrace my favourite city, like the moment when you finally become friends with an ex, and you can see them without wanting to be with them. At least that's how I hoped I would feel. This time, I knew I'd have something of mine to come home to.

Before I left, I booked a hair appointment and welcomed brighter strands for my usual spring refresh. I mean, when you know you're going to run into your ex, you want to look your best right?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New Weekly Mantra - Actions, not words

It's as simple as it gets. You've probably heard it before, but lately, it is single-handedly the only piece of advice that I give to others when they need counsel.

In a word heavy communication environment (read: text, email) the below advice is more important than ever. When you find yourself analyzing words, or saying, "But they said or wrote this," remember the following:

image via HQlines

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mel and Manda Take Miami

If there is one song to sum up my trip to South Beach, Miami it's the Sesame Street song, "One of these things is not like the others."

That thing is me.

In South Beach I am considered frighteningly pale, grandmother conservative and unwilling to walk around without clothes on. My sister and I happened to be in town during an electronic music festival and people seemed to go by the mantra, clothing optional.

There was underwear that passed as shorts, heels paired with bathing suits, and bikini tops worn as real tops. Overly suntanned bodies busted out of bright neon apparel. Men wore tank tops that they cut open on the sides, to completely negate the point of wearing a tank top.

I missed the memo and wore a knitted vest to a pool party over my bathing suit. My sister, who I always gush about how beautiful she is, was much admired by these muscle men. I generally stood back and chaperoned with my eyes as to say, Be careful beefcake, that's my baby sis. 

With only a weekend to spend in the city of skin, the sis and I balanced parties with daytime strolling down Lincoln Road, where I enjoyed sipping iced Americanos and not wearing a parka. We also managed to find my favourite NYC burger spot, The Shake Shack and my sister's favourite Parisian macaron shop Ladurée. On Saturday night, I loosened up as per my sister's orders, and wore one of her dresses that could only be described as human sausage casing.

If there is one thing I learned from South Beach, it's that confidence is the secret to looking good, whether you're wearing a turtleneck or a thong bikini.

Although I never saw any turtlenecks. 

Below is a mini photo gallery/collage. Enjoy! x

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sisterhood, Surfboards and Snow Queens

I recently watched Disney's Frozen (based on the tale, The Snow Queen) during a Sunday bout of exhaustion from a packed weekend. I wanted to watch something I could zone out to, instead of feeling quizzical, or emotionally distraught after. 

What I got instead was a movie that I absolutely adored, and a week full of singing in my kitchen 'Let it gooooooo! Let it gooooooooooooooo!' Sorry neighbours, and no, I do not live with a toddler. 

I appreciated Frozen's representation of girls. The sisters, Elsa and Anna (pronounced Ahhna) did not need men to rescue them; they were just as fine figuring it out on their own. They talked the way girls talk; they weren't weird, creepy adults trapped in girl bodies. I also enjoyed the theme of sisterhood that the movie focused on. 

As an older sister, much like Elsa (a bit uptight, always feeling like she had to be the responsible one) I'd do anything for my sister. I recently bought her the above mug when I knew she was having a rough week because she loves Beyonce. (Surfboard, Surfboarddd). I also had to buy one for myself. I picked them up from the Fitzroy Boutique Pop Up Shop in Toronto. (Similar available here). 

We are also heading away for the weekend because when your sister asks you to be her travel mate, you pack your bags. So here's to sisters, (princesses or not) and the impending weekend. x  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Online Reading Files

photo credit: The Vault Files
Looking for something new to read? Below are some of my favourite places online to click. Enjoy! x

Annie Dean - Somewhere along the way, we all forgot how to fold a napkin or how not to text at dinner. Lawyer Annie Dean's blog is a lesson in good manners as she focuses on etiquette and entertaining. She also lives a glam little life in NYC with her husband, and their adorable babe. 

The Skimm - Want to sound smart at your next dinner party? The Skimm is an email newsletter that offers the most important daily news in snippets. From politics and sports, to pertinent celebrity news (Gwyneth and Chris?!) they summarize what you need to know and deliver it to your inbox before you start your day. I usually read it in the morning before I get up so I have a better idea of what's going on in the world. (I also work in PR, so this is a pro for my job)

The Vault Files - I met Gaby in a boot camp class I used to take in the summer called Strive Life. I realized she had a blog when I discovered her in an online feature. She's humble, sweet, and super fit! Her blog features stunning photography, the best weekly fashion collages on the web, and home decor that would make anyone envious. She also has an Etsy shop where she sells prints of her beautiful florals.

Sprouted Kitchen - Sara and Hugh Forte created Sprouted Kitchen to document their love for healthy, whole foods. Hugh photographs while Sara writes and recipe plans. It's kind of the most perfect husband and wife project. The photos are less commercial or editorially styled than you would find on other food blogs, but it is the simplicity that makes them moody and beautiful.

What You Learn In Your Forties - This isn't a blog, but rather an Op-Ed from the New York Times, on one writer's musings on turning 40 in Paris and what she's learned along the way. No, I'm not 40, but I love reading sage advice from people who've lived it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Creative Life

I usually spend my weekends balancing social plans, eating dark chocolate in my bra, listening to music or watching Netflix; and sitting for hours at my laptop inventing freelance pitches and working on my "stories."

My "stories" are my projects. Personal essays, short stories, creative writing; they are the never ending projects that keep me busy. Stef and I recently met up to chat about collaborating on a new online project, and to drink Negronis in the middle of the day. While adding another project to my plate may not be the best way to complete the others, I'm always looking to collaborate with creative people. 

Creativity is all about believing in the power of making different choices. 

It isn't just about being a writer, painter, or photographer; bringing creativity into your life can be as simple as thinking of something fun to do with your kids; making a new recipe for dinner; or buying a colourful pillow for your couch. Sure, all of those choices don't equate to creating the next Mona Lisa, but they will bring variation into your life. 

Even if creativity involves failing, and the only person who will like it is your mother (okay, my mother); if you get enjoyment from something creative, keep on pushing through. Surround yourself with people who believe in it, and you.

And if all else fails, drink a Negroni.

Photo credits: Stefania Sgambelluri