Monday, June 4, 2012

Social Media 101: Why your business needs a strategy

Since I started my new gig three weeks ago, naturally I've found myself having more and more conversations about social media. It wasn't until I spoke with my neighbor that I realized I am in the 1%. And no, not that 1%. I am talking about the fact that the general population can easily be intimidated (or bored) by those who can spew facts, dream up grandiose ideas, and jump at the chance to chat about the next big internet thing. Since social is so engrained in my very being, these type of epiphanies sometimes baffle me. But it's those a-ha moments that help keep me in touch with the fact that many companies, both big and small, still have no idea how or where to start when navigating the social waters. 
Which is exactly why I think it's important to routinely get back to the basics and brush up on social media 101. Because I can literally talk about this topic F O R E V E R, I'll keep it simple and steer clear of referring to any one particular industry, company, or what may be the "best" approach.  Below is some general info I put together regarding social media, how to get started, and links to a few infographics that I just lurve. So whether you are a "newbie" or consider yourself a season "expert" (a dirty, dirty word in my book but I digress), hopefully this list will help you get started or bring you back down to Earth.

When starting a social media strategy, think about these five things (at the very least):
  1. What is your objective? There is no right or wrong answer. Well, except for "my boss told me to do it." In that case, definitely read on...
  2. Who is your audience? This question can also be answered as "who do you want your audience to be?"
  3. What are you going to say? My biggest pet peeve is navigating to a companies Facebook page, Twitter profile, Instagram feed, etc. to find ancient content that has been updated only a handful of times. If you're going to do it, commit. That means time, resources, and yes, money.
  4. How will you track & measure success? I am a FREAK when it comes to this question. Not having defined KPIs (key performance indicators), goals, milestones, or any other source of measurement tied to your efforts is like going house hunting without a budget: pointless. You have to start somewhere so even if they are moving targets: benchmark, track, analyze, repeat.
  5. Who is going to manage your efforts? Depending on answers to 1 - 4, your organizational culture, and your budget this could be a toughie. My advice to you is beware of the so-called "experts" out there. Find a partner who fits into your goals, can scale with you, and understands your business. <Insert the perfect opportunity to plug my wonderful new company.>
Defining these five things will help you and organization decide which social outlets to leverage (or not) in order to build a community that aligns with your brand, enables you to achieve your objectives, and allow you to create content that will be valuable to your customers, and ultimately, your overall business.

Ideas for starting small-ish:
  • Create a Facebook Brand Page. I do not believe in using Facebook as an alternative to a traditional Web site. However, having a Facebook presence can be a cost-effective option if you are just getting started and looking to grow your social marketing efforts. At the very east, claim your Facebook Place/Brand page which can serve as a general source of information (hours, location, web site, paying methods, parking, etc.) as you work towards bigger, more involved initiatives such as using "the Book" as a customer service tool, for word of mouth marketing, recommendations, customer engagement, yada, yada, yada.
  • Start a blog. Even if you only write one post a week, a blog is a great tool to establish your business as credible, knowledgeable resource. Posting authentic information, stories, and even pictures is another cost-effective way to manage your brand while helping out  the SEO department. Re: search engine optimization, which is particularly important for people who are trying to find you...or your competition.
  • Cross-promote. Include social links on email blasts, direct mail pieces, forms, and any other customer-facing communication to help spread the word. But please, do not misuse the QR code. In fact if you don't know what that even means, keep it that way (at least for now).
  • Don't try to do everything for everyone on everything. Being selective about your social strategy allows you to focus on building effective communities, generate quality content, and interact with your customers in a timely manner. Is your brand visually-driven? Create an Instagram account. Do you want to give your customers quick snippets of information or industry news? Twitter may be the way to go. Is your primary business B2B? You better be on LinkedIn! The truth is, there is a social outlet for just about anything you can think of, the trick is to explore, find what works and then do it well.   
Link love:

PS. For you "advanced" followers, I am currently reading the book "Grouped" by Paul Adams. Definitely a recommended read and will challenge the entire notion of social media as you know it. Get your copy here.

Was this helpful? Do you have questions? 
I'd love to hear your thoughts so feel free to leave me a comment!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Procrastination at its finest

Well, it's official. One month ago, I made my infamous announcement and now, I have yet another...

After three weeks of corporate detoxing, soul searching, networking, and interviewing, I was faced with making the choice between a handful of wildly different job offers; or the option to venture out on my own. [Editor's Note: "poor job market" is not a concept I agree with.]

As I contemplated my next move, I kept three things top of mind:
  1. Did anything about the job remind me of what I did not like at the Big Red X or were there any other major "red flags"?
  2. Which opportunity would allow me to continue to focus on becoming the best version of me?
  3. This quote by the amazingly talented graphic designer, Jessica Hische:
Her words as designed by me

In full disclosure, not every offer made it past #1. In fact, I started to wonder if I had set the bar too high and would regret turning down what, on the surface, appeared to be a perfectly good opportunity. But that was just it. I wasn't searching for "good". I was searching for FREAKING awesome.

And so when the peeps at Brand Networks, a thriving social media agency, offered up a position as the first Social Insights Strategist, I squealed with excitement and happily accepted. If you know me personally (or even stalk my online life), it's easy to see that I am a l w a y s connected. I don't intentionally "procrastinate" either, it's just that I can't help but want to stay dialed-in and soak-up information like a sponge. Be it Facebook-ing, tweeting, pinning, researching, or simply strolling through a store, I enjoy experiencing the world through seamless connections between my online and offline life. I feel extremely lucky to have found such a kick-ass company and my version of a "dream job" that allows me to stay connected and get paid for it.

And that, my friends, is procrastination at its finest.

PS. Deelightful Studios officially has a Facebook Page! Be sure to hit that "like" button to get updates on the latest inspirations, fashions, and all things creative.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fluorescent Flash

Yesterday I discovered not one, but TWO amazing sites filled with fashionable finds. Now you very well may have already heard of them both but guess what, their new-to-me and I am super excited about it. Ladies, I present to you, an online fashion boutique that features 30% off the new styles that are added daily. And Sabo Skirt, another online boutique full of chic fashions at affordable prices and they ship worldwide.

As I was browsing, I noticed this fantastic fluorescent skirt that looked just like the one I spotted in a recently pinned image originating from Sabo Skirt's blog. According to the fabulous ladies behind the brand, Thessy and Yiota, the entire outfit will be available in late June. However, I have no patience when it comes to waiting for something that I want now, especially when it comes to clothing. Alas, it was the kick that I needed to find the pieces to remake the complete outfit. So if you are searching for a rocking get-up to wear to one of many summer celebrations or bachelorette party, look no further. Below is the inspiration photo accompanied by my finds; all of which are priced below $100.
{Inspiration Photo via Fashion Worship via Sabo Skirt}
The Originals: 
Shirt Available Now

Get it now:
Skirt | Shirt | Sunglasses | Polish | Shoes

PS. Have you purchased from Tobi or Sabo Skirt before? If so, tell me all about it!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tech Spotlight: Stylish iPad Cases

I am an Apple Geek. Mac Nerd. Steve Jobs Groupie. Whatever you may choose to call it, I'm that. Like many other devout Apple fans, I'm in love with the sleek design, simplistic aesthetic, and easy-to-use products that adorn my home, office, and most often, my right hand.

I'll be honest, since I got my iPad 2, I haven't used it nearly as much as all of my other Apple products. But with the warm weather upon us, I envision myself sitting poolside, iPad in hand, without worrying about it's safety when I take a dip or put it down. I've subscribed myself to the theory that if I buy a cute case that is more convenient than my orange flip cover, I'll be more apt to bring it with me wherever I go. And so, I am on a mission to buy the perfect case that is both fashionable and functional. Here is my round up of my favorites designs from some of my favorite designers:

Harper's Bazaar also put together a swoon-worthy list of iPad case options. Unfortunately they are just a wee-bit (re: a lot) out of the budget.

Which would you choose? Did I miss any other great options? Help!

Friday, May 11, 2012


As I sit and reflect on the week that has passed since I made my big announcement, a surge of emotion takes hold. Relief. Happiness. Fear. Tired. Hopeful. Carefree. Anxious. Energized. Paranoid. Juxtapositions in and of themselves, none of which can sufficiently summarize what I really feel.

There have been very few moments in which I can recall not thinking about the future-- what may happen next, or questioning if I will make the right decision(s). And I spend a lot of time worrying about scenarios that I know are just plain ridiculous. But when I sit and try to calm my inner voice, one adjective becomes so evident I smile and start to cry at the same time. And that is because of gratitude.

Mash-up by me using a print from the lovely Jen Ramos // Cocoa and Hearts

I've been so focused on the future that the present has been turning into quite a blur. So I want to take a moment to just be. And most importantly, to thank everyone- my friends, family, acquaintances, and anyone that may stumble upon this. The outpouring of love, support, calls, texts, messages, tweets, likes, comments, and cheers (literally with drinks in hand) I have received have been overwhelmingly positive. I feel so lucky to know so many wonderful people and humbled that so many of you have taken the time to reach out in one way or another. It's because of you that I can relish in the present and be happy for what I have today, regardless of what happens in the future.

So T H A N K  Y O U-- from the bottom of my heart to the tips of my abnormally long toes. You guys rock.

Happy weekend! xx

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Local Love: Preferred Plants

Despite living in Rochester for almost all of my 26 years, there are a significant number of places that I know I have yet to explore. Most of the time I seek out a new shop or restaurant because I heard about it through the grapevine. At times, I stumble upon something new by accident which is always a serendipitous moment seeing as though Rochester is only so big. And then there is that running list of places in my head that I keep in mind for when there is a rainy day or I find myself with nothing else to do. Enter Preferred Plants.
View from University Ave. on a chilly winter afternoon
For almost two years now, I have made it a point to buy myself fresh flowers on an extremely regular basis (ie. at least every 2 weeks). What started out as an act of independence and visual declaration of "I don't need a man to buy me flowers" has turned into more of a luxury that I find myself looking forward to. So when I first took notice of the sign outside the brick building on University Avenue, I made a mental note: flowers + new place = I'm interested.

Now you are about to find out just how overdue this post is. Months had passed and I had yet to stop in to explore my new "find". On a random February afternoon, I went to lunch with my friend Emily (who runs the lovely and made the commitment that afterwards I would drive past my house to visit the flower shop that had long been on my mental list. And so I present to you the first feature in my "Local Love" series featuring a peek at the beautiful blooms and unexpected finds that fill the meticulously merchandised space of Preferred Plants.
Entrance display to the left
Upon entering the building, I expected a wave of freshly cut flowers to fill my nostrils. Imagine my surprise when I rushed toward the bucket labelled "peonies',  pulled one out, only to realize I was holding a silk stem. It wasn't until I questioned the approaching associate "wait, these flowers aren't real?" and hearing her response when I realized they were indeed faux and this was no ordinary flower shop.
Single stem buckets
As I strolled through the store, admiring the converted warehouse space and home decor items that lined the shelves, a new-found wave of appreciation for fake flowers came over me. Not only were the flowers amazingly realistic, but they could last a lifetime. Beautiful and practical, what's not to love? [Ok, besides the amazing realistic smell].
Tulips on display
And the selection didn't stop at just single, silk stems. Everywhere I looked there was something new to look at. Large potted plants. Orchids. Seasonally-appropriate wreathes. And work benches lined with the start of custom arrangements.
Small arrangements & gifts
After speaking with the owner who just so happened to know Emily (see, I told you Rochester was only so big), I ended my visit by purchasing a pint-sized faux succulent that also happens to double as a candle. Seeing as though I have not one speck of a green thumb, it was the perfect solution to my weekly flower fix.
My succulent candle
So if you are in the Rochester area and searching for something to do during this particularly rainy week, go check them out. Plus, Preferred Plants is having a Mother's Day special through Saturday on all orchids and flowers, including free gift wrap with your purchase. And because of this awesomely timed coupon, I don't feel so bad about waiting 3 months to share! 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Celebration Style: Cinco De Mayo

This weekend is most certainly a "twofer". Two big events happening at once with endless possibilities for a really great time. Both of which present an opportunity to wear a really big hat. Of course there is the Kentucky Derby, but since I much prefer margaritas over mint juleps, I'll be focusing on Cinco de Mayo. I like to think of the holiday as the unofficial start of the summer. The bright colors, never ending margaritas, and clanking of Corona bottles simply scream warm weather and puts an instant smile on my face (the tequila probably helps too).

This year I'm taking full advantage of the fact the holiday falls on a weekend and hosting a poquito fiesta aka a little party. Here are a few finds that put me in the mood to shake my maracas and cheers to a great night with mi amigos.

photo from Flckr
The Perfect Margarita
Extra salt please. I am making mine this year with Espolon Tequila, the packaging is killer.

Homemade Guacamole
It's safe to say I am addicted to avocados. And I am not ashamed to admit I almost single handily polished off a large order of Dos Cominos Guacamole. The recipe is actually hangs on my fridge.

Pinata Cookies
Not only are they insanely cute, but I am quite sure they are insanely tedious to make-
judging by the 30 step recipe. I have yet to mentally commit to attempting these.

A trendy, themed outfit
How amazing are these Mexican Blanket Shorts
Someone like PS. I Made This needs to create a DIY tutorial STAT!

What are your weekend plans? Cinco de Mayo or the Derby? 

Although there is no reason not to do both. Galloping around in a fabulous hat "taste testing" margaritas and blasting The Gypsy Kings sounds like a fabulous pre-party regimen if I don't say so myself. Ole`!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The race is long & in the end, it's only with yourself.

The final scene in my favorite movie of all time has been playing in my head on repeat since last Thursday. If you are actually reading this blog, then you will probably ruffle your brow in confusion and wonder how it could possibly relate to my given situation. And thank God, because the truth is it really doesn't.

So maybe I feel some sort of emotional connection to the scene because my favorite song of all time also happens to be playing in the background. Either way, the symbolism of the long open road in front of Annette, er Reese, and the fleeting feeling that comes with it is what I am referring to. Why you ask? Drum roll please...

It has been exactly one week since I left my job at Xerox. Yes, that is right: I quit. Further more: I left without knowing what will come next. And it feels damn good. It was no secret how unhappy I was with the company. Of course there are a whole host of reasons that I won't even begin to get into (at this exact moment at least). But the single most important factor was my lack of passion, inspiration, and knowing Xerox was never going to allow me to fill my life's plan. The ironic thing about that is that I actually have no idea what my life's plan is. I've learned that I am much better at deciphering what I don't want from what I actually do. And I am fortunate enough to be in a position, practically and financially speaking, that I can take the time to figure that out.

The response, feedback, and support I have received this past week has been overwhelmingly positive. I've caught myself smiling for no reason at all. Laughing much more. And appreciating what I have instead of what I don't. I've focused on reevaluating my personal definition of success and have found myself having many conversations that question the status quo while trying to make sense of the meaning of life- as cheesy as that sounds.

There is no doubt the next coming weeks will be filled with change. I've got a boatload of opportunities to chase and have already met with three great companies that have all presented three great opportunities. And as my mind races with questions like what I want to do next and where I even want to live, I know two things are for sure:
  1. I am simply uninterested in anything or anyone that will make me less than happy. 
  2. My next step will shape the rest of my life and that is fucking scary, stressful, and exciting all at the same time. Emphasis on the f-bomb.
I could go on and on right now but I'll leave it at this: I now understand what people mean when they say "a paycheck can be compensation for putting up with bullshit". That is no way to live, especially if you are like me and find a great source of pride in your work. So if you are feeling that way, I encourage you to read these articles, challenge yourself to change your situation, and be thankful you have the ability to shape your future. Happy reading!
  •  Emily's announcement. Foreshadowing current events, my friend, former co-worker, and founder of the fabulous blog actually went through this very thing almost one whole year ago. Eerily our posts on this topic are quite similar. It's a great motivator to see other people (especially one's you know) make radical changes and have amazing things happen.
  • A field guide to quitting your job. Also featured in Emily's post, I have read this article frequently over the past few months. I especially appreciate the "zip it" part and it's because of that I have refrained from firing off a less than pleasant note to a person I used to have to deal with at work. I'm not one for holding my tongue but for whatever reason I am practicing self control. I'll probably thank myself later.
  • Every other quote I find and pin. Self explanatory. And it's funny to say Pinterest helped change my life.
  • What to do before you quit your job. I actually read this moments before I went into a meeting with my bosses and the ultimate decision was made. It's a great read for anyone who is evaluating their current life situation. Sometimes the grass is not greener and it's wise to figure out who or what is the problem before doing something drastic.
  • Don't work. Be hated. Love someone. A friend of mine posted this after the fact but it resonated with me and helped reassure myself that everything is going to be fine and I've actually got a pretty good handle on life.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Beach Essentials: What to pack for vacation

By any seasoned traveler's standards, I suck at packing. There simply isn't any other way to say it. It doesn't matter if I plan for weeks or shove things into a bag the night before. I will inevitably over-pack and have an absurd abundance of clothing, shoes, accessories, and underwear in proportion to the length of my stay.

My boyfriend goes by the rule, "pack as much as you can carry"- which is great since all my luggage has wheels or he ends up carrying it for me [Editor's note: Josh, if you are reading this I totally appreciate it and thank you]. I on the other hand justify my packing "skillz" by proclaiming "it's better to have too many options than not enough." Except now that it costs a million dollars to check a bag, my motto is proving to be a bit flawed.

I spent last week in Key West, Florida. Before I left, I made an honest attempt at narrowing down a practical list of necessities and accessories for someone taking a similar vacation. As expected, I failed miserably and wore maybe 25% of the items I actually brought. So it goes without saying, this is simply a guide intended to help streamline others that subscribe to my theory of bringing everything but the kitchen sink (keeping under 50 lbs of course). And hoping your boyfriend will carry it.

Vicariously experience my Key West vacation through the lens of my third appendage.
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Destination: Key West

Quote by Isak Dinesen | Photo by me (in Mexico)
I've been in quite the funk lately. So it brings me some solace to read this quote and think of where I am headed this morning. I'll be off the grid (as best as I know how) until Friday as I venture off to Key West, Florida for the first time. I am looking forward to soaking up some quality time away in hopes to return with a clear head and restored outlook. And maybe even the next Mega Millions winning numbers.

While I have every intention to go through the days at a leisurely pace, I know my mom and her friends will inevitably convince me to join in on their shenanigans as detailed in their meticulously planned itinerary. Let it be known that the only real plan I have is to rent a bike, find this food truck, and enjoy a few yoga practices on the beach.

Of course, suggestions are welcome. So if you have been to the area and know of a place that I must see please leave me a comment. You can also follow me on instagram and vicariously experience Key West through the lens of my third appendage.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

April Showers

It's been said that you can tell a lot about a person by how they handle a rainy day. Now, don't get me wrong I am a big fan of cuddling on the couch on a rainy afternoon. But when you live in a really, really rainy city doing so on a daily basis is simply not an option. So it can be hard to keep your spirits up and tackle the day. Not to mention dressing for wet weather can dampen your style. Pun totally intended.

What better way to welcome the spring rain by dressing in something that can always make you happy- like a sequined frock and sunshine-hued rain boots! Unexpected and a bit impractical, yes. But perfect for splashing in puddles while you venture out to visit a new coffee shop or that art gallery that you've always wanted to check out. Just make sure you don't forget the waterproof eyeliner.

Shop this look:

What's your favorite rainy day accessory?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Take a deep breath: Pinterest updated their T&Cs


Did you hear that? It was the big sigh of relief from marketing managers, bloggers, photographers, and Pinterest enthusiasts everywhere.  Yes, Pinterest has changed their Terms & Conditions as announced on March 24.
Many of you have probably seen the above image (sans my lovely editing) and read the original article from The Window Seat which highlighted some of the legal dangers and risks of pinning. The article received over 400,000 views and was even pinned 45,000 times. Legal gurus and worrywarts fretted in their seats coming up with hypothetical legal cases while deleting their pins, while major publications continued to write about and magnified the perceived issue with Pinterest. 

I decided to equate this fear with Y2K (remember that?) and kept on pinning. In comparison to the growing pains of other social media platforms, I felt it was obvious Pinterest was working hard to embrace their new found growth across all areas of the social community. In my opinion, the negative attention simply helped expedite the progress they were already making. In the last few weeks alone, there have been numerous updates to the UI, profile page, and mobile app so it was just a matter of time this hotly debated topic was next. As stated by Ben himself:
 Over the last few weeks, we've been working on an update to our Terms. When we first launched Pinterest, we used a standard set of Terms. We think that the updated Terms of Service, Acceptable Use Policy, and Privacy Policy are easier to understand and better reflect the direction our company is headed in the future. We'd encourage you to read these changes in their entirety, but we thought there were a few changes worth noting.
Now we all know reading the Terms & Conditions can be a very daunting [re: boring] task and most of us blindly hit "Accept" eager to get to the next screen. So for those of you that have been following along, here is a recap of some of the most important changes along with my social commentary, which will go into effect on April 6:
  • What Pinterest Says: Our original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for to sell your content. Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.
    My take: Don't worry, your artsy shot of your Sunday Brunch or the generic beach scene will NOT become stock photography.
  • What Pinterest Says: We updated our Acceptable Use Policy and we will not allow pins that explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse. 
My take: Thank. You. It really grinds my gears when I am simultaneously pinning high-calorie recipes and workout tips and come across that stupid image of Kate Moss saying "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." Obviously she never tasted ice cream, cheese, or Nutella. Aka, this will help cut down on the amount of girls encouraging each other with pro-ana tips.
  • What Pinterest Says: We released simpler tools for anyone to report alleged copyright or trademark infringements. [Updated form & updated policy].
My take: If you installed the do not pin code to your site, this will help. Or if you are the marketing manager for Starbucks and a super fan already created an account claiming to be Starbucks. And in extreme cases, someone is blatantly ripping content off your blog and posting it to theirs then pinning it back to their site in hopes to drive traffic.
  • What Pinterest Says: Finally, we added language that will pave the way for new features such as a Pinterest API and Private Pinboards.
My take: This will open the door to a ton of really cool ideas, integrations, and 3rd party applications that seek to enhance the Pinterest experience. And private pin boards means you can actually plan a party, source inspirational images, and curate a marketing promotion privately, before you want the rest of the world to know. 
And the final note:
Like everything at Pinterest, these updates are a work in progress that we will continue to improve upon. We're working hard to make Pinterest the best place for you to find inspiration from people who share your interest. We've gotten a lot of help from our community as we've crafted these Terms.
In other words, keep the feedback coming but puh-lease, be patient, stay positive, and know they are working as fast as humanly possible while creating a sustainable business and inspirational community. If you are still interested in the finer details, read the follow-up post from The Window Seat.

Happy pinning and of course if you aren't already, follow me!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My favorite Sunday Brunch drink: The Man-Mosa

Once upon a summer almost three years ago, I went to a little cafe in Brooklyn that is now closed. A seemingly innocent Sunday Brunch in the City turned out to be a roller coaster of emotion and for that it will always be one of my most memorable meals in Brooklyn. Highlights included:
  • meeting a 40-something guy named Bennett who had the energy of Jack Russell Terrier and told one hysterical story after another
  • the start of my egg + avocado obsession (BTW, it's on year three and still going strong)
  • super bitchy wait-staff, which explains why they are now out of business
  • the worst Mimosa EVER
  • the introduction of the ManMosa aka the star of this post
Long story short, my worst Mimosa ever consisted of 85% from-concentrate OJ and a splash of warm, flat, "sparkling" wine. It was so bad and our server was so suck-y that I waltzed into the restaurant, to prove I wasn't being dramatic asked the bartender to "try-it", and requested a replacement of some sort. If I recall, they were "out of Bloody Mary mix" aka strike two. And then, it happened. Another bartender recommended I try the ManMosa. After hearing the ingredients I was most definitely intrigued and gave it a shot. Four rounds later and an entire table singing it's praises, I was hooked. And so I present to you, the ManMosa.

My standard recipe- just add your favorites!
Step 1. Pour an entire bottle (12 oz) or up to 16 ounces of a hefewiezen or wheat beer into a chilled 23.5 oz glass. I plan on adding A LOT more to this list this summer, but here are few of my favorites that have been taste-tested and approved:
  • Magic Hat Circus Boy
  • Blue Moon Ale
  • ROC Brewing Co. Belgian Blonde 
  • Dundee Summer Wheat 
Step 2. Top with 4 ounces of fresh-squeezed or not from concentrate juice.

Step 3. Add 1.5 ounces of chilled Vodka. Absolut is readily available. But Prairie is really good if you are making them at home.

Step 4. Pour into a cocktail shaker with ice and gently stir. Strain back into the glass, top with a slice of orange, and enjoy.
Now I am not claiming I created the recipe (hence the back story), but I have yet to come across a menu outside of NYC that offers it or a bartender that knows what I am talking about. So this summer I am making it my mission to spread the word to all my friends and to my favorite spots in the Rochester, NY area in hopes it becomes a standard Sunday Brunch classic. Help me by doing the same! And if you have ordered the ManMosa from somewhere before, please leave a comment with your state and location.

If not the ManMosa, what is your Sunday Brunch standby?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Top 10 reasons why the ADDYs are awesome for advertising

Every year creative agencies, marketers, advertisers, and students alike gather up their best work and compete for their chance at ADDY Gold. Simply put, the ADDYs are like the Academy Awards of the ad business. It's a chance for marketers to celebrate their success, collaborate as a community, and to be recognized for outstanding creative excellence- all while having a really good time [re: drinking heavily and shouting obscenities].

I have been fortunate to attend three out of the past five local ADDY award shows put on each year by the Rochester Advertising Federation. This year I opted out for reasons I won't get into. But as I followed (okay, stalked) my industry friends' Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, and Instagram posts during last night's show I knew I was missing out on more than just a good time. I reflected on the two years I spent working at an agency and how much I miss being a part of the action, not just on the outskirts as I often feel [note: working on changing that].

I imagine it's like this for most professions, but for anyone who has never been a part of the ad industry it may be hard to understand the love/hate relationship so many of us feel for the business from time to time. So for those of you who are thinking about advertising as a profession, are in the industry and looking to re-ignite your mojo, or just plain miss it and need a slap in the face for as for why you should go back, just think of the ADDYs. Or in my humble opinion, the top ten reasons why they are so awesome.
10. Umm, resume builder, duh. I'm putting this last because while it's a bonus, it shouldn't be your MO for adding work to the show. However, for those that are more junior and just starting out, having an ADDY under your belt is instant street cred and can help validate that yea, you do know what the hell you are talking about which is exactly why you don't want to be relegated to foam core duty.
9. Brotherly-Sisterly Love. Even amongst teams within the same agency, it's nice to spark a little competition and put a few wagers on which submission will win. That kind of competition is as healthy for team spirit as congratulatory cheers and man-hugs can be. So hug your AE. High-five your uptight Copywriter. Thank your receptionist for helping you make 18 copies of those pitchbooks.
8. Competition. Sure it's fun to prance back to your seat as you brush past your old boss while holding the ADDY Gold, but the spirit of competition runs much deeper. Displaying your best work for your local competition to see is much like stripping down naked. If you are in tip top shape, you are going to look the best, and if your not, well it will definitely spark some motivation for when you get back to the office. Moral of the story: it pushes the community as a whole to be better, regardless if the goal is to claim the title or defend one.
7. Networking. Especially for the Freelancers. It's an awesome venue to connect with potential agencies you want to work with or people you'd love to collaborate with. Just don't be the HR guy that trolls the room looking to poach candidates from every winning agency.
6. Confidence. We all need a pat on the back from time to time as re-assurance we did the right thing, chose the right career, took a smart risk. If your client's aren't helping to pump you up, feel free to put your pride in a little lucite statue- even if it's just until the next time someone asks you to make the logo bigger.
5. Humility. A vast majority of creative types have an ego (yes, even you). Some are more recognizable than the others, like the Account Planner who claims to be a "social media expert" (c r i n g e). But even if you don't have an in-your-face attitude, it's necessary to not always be the best. It keeps the Type A's in check and forces the heavyweight agencies to realize there are more fish in the sea.
4. Community. There is something to be said for a room full of stunningly funny, creative, and hardworking people. Competition or not, at the end of the day every agency, freelancer, and company is there to celebrate the art of the business. To toast to the ability to create emotion and connect people through the power marketing, in every form it takes.
3. Inspiration. Obviously the highlight of the show is the work. Seeing the submissions while putting it into the context of the creative process is remarkable. It's amazing how much effort is put into a single piece of work; how a problem can turn into an opportunity which then sparks an idea that is crafted into a beautifully constructed communication. I especially like looking at the student submissions. Each year they seem to get better and better. Knowing there is a fresh crop of talent waiting to jump into the industry is exciting and is a testament to the hopeful and curious spirit we should all still have.
Side note, big props to the team this year for putting together the submission Web page for all to actually take in the beauty of the work- especially awesome for those that didn't get to go. 
2. It's a celebration, bitches. As much as you hear "don't get drunk in front of your co-workers" from any kind of professional advice, I assure you, and I say this with caution, almost anything goes and can be forgiven during a state of euphoria while attending. Even needs to let loose and doing so in front of your co-workers can be therapeutic. Plus, it's funny to remind Kim from Accounting what she did the next time she bugs you about your time sheet.
1. Passion. The raw emotion and excitement that is elicited when you prep for the big night, see an old colleague, and hear your name or company announced as a winner speaks volumes for the passion one has for the industry. Reasons 10 through 2 all contribute to the zeal the ADDY's are about: no guts, no glory. We put our heart's into our work, pull over-nighter's or skip our lunch, not for some trophy, but for the glory of coming together as a creative community to celebrate a common passion.
 Congratulations to all the winners of the 2012 Rochester ADDY awards!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

If you are what you eat: be a Shamrock Shake

Inspired by the fabulous creations I seem to always pin from Polyvore, I decided to create a new feature highlighting two of my favorite things: FASHION & FOOD. Everyone's heard of the saying "you are what you eat", so what better way to epitomize the saying by taking it quite literally and creating satirical outfits based on my never ending craving for good food.

The first in the series is dedicated to the spirit of St. Patrick's Day. My hometown of Rochester, NY goes absolutely CRAZY during the weekend leading up to the holiday. I'll be hosting a party of my own before taking to the streets of my downtown neighborhood to share in the festivities. Only I'll be sporting a much more relaxed outfit [re: theme t-shirt, orange flats, & huge sequin hair bow] since the day's celebration is reminiscent of an all-day college frat party rather a fashionable cocktail hour.
Add caption
Blouse | Necklace | Clutch | Shorts | Shoes (which I have and love!)

Plus, I love this look for its ability to hit on multiple trends without trying to hard:
  • Color Blocking
  • Pastels
  • Statement Necklaces
  • Metallic Accessories
Speaking of Shamrock Shakes, if you do go to McDonald's do yourself a favor and order a Thin Mint by requesting half Shamrock half Chocolate. And for those of you that are fast-food phobe (like me), click here for a copycat recipe, which also happens to be a MUCH healthier alternative.

How will you be celebrating St. Patrick's Day? And what will you wearing?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fringe Tassel Garland Love [Confetti System & beyond]

Let me just start out by saying I think this post is quite epic. It has links to so many other awesome web finds that I want to apologize in advance for the A.D.D. this will cause you. And you are welcome.
The picture that started it all
About a year and a half ago, I caught site of the amazing designs from the Confetti System while browsing a feature on The Selby. You may even recognize the shiny strands from the PartyParty collection at Urban Outfitters or J.Crew's Holiday 2010 window displays. Whatever the case, there is no denying the endless amount of inspiration the artistic duo Julie Ho and Nicholas Anderson have created. Browse just about any design blog, chic Tumblr account, or girly Pinterest board for some proof.
Via Cupcakes & Cashmere
Fast forward a few months later to when I was introduced to yet another blog favorite and saw that Emily Schuman of Cupcakes & Cashmere used the metallic fringe to create a perfect backdrop on her office wall. I made a mental note to incorporate the same type of detail I had long loved into my own home in the near future.
Via EverlyLaneDesign Home
At the end of last year I moved out of my compact apartment [that I was completely attached to mostly because of a closet] and into a much bigger space with my boyfriend. The selling point was the ability to double my closet space by taking over an extra bedroom and customizing it to my every need. At the time of the move, I was going through an obsessive Etsy phase. So when I found EverlyLaneDesign I squealed. Literally. Through a custom order, she created a beautiful CS replica in the exact color scheme I was hoping for. I promptly cut the nylon rope in half and strung the sparkle over each window for pseudo-DIY, alternative to curtains as shown below.
Details in my closet room
So when I stumbled upon the amazing DIY on Camille Styles blog as told by Jennifer King who adopted the tutorial from yet another blogger [told ya it was going to get cray up in here] I couldn't resist dedicating a full play-by-play write-up on how damn obsessed I am with Fringe Tassel Garland.

Whichever option you fancy, click below to get your fix:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Rainbow Brights

For as long as I can remember, I have had an undeniable attraction to the color gray. It's like a magnetic force that I just cannot resist. Declaring gray as my favorite neutral would be an understatement. But this post is a tribute to just the opposite. Pops of color (thank you, @mrbradgoreski). And bold rainbow brights. I haven't walked out of a store or clicked "checkout" with anything BUT bold hues lately. Not only do all my new finds look fabulous hanging in my closet, but I'm looking forward to the endless color combinations I can now create when I get dressed.

Here are a few of my favorite rainbow brights that have caught my eye over the past week.

Statement Necklaces
1. Hixson Bib Necklace, DANNIJO
2. I want this necklace but all I have is this picture

Funky Feet
3. Jessica Simpson Summer Haze Color Block Pumps, LuLu*s
4. WR890 Rainbow Sneakers, New Balance

Sweet Style
5. Street Fashion from a stylish ASOS shopper (that laser-cut clutch is only $40!)
6. An image from my Pinterest collection of color blocked tights & shoes that Pure Wow choose as their first ever Pin of the Week

Beautiful Blooms
7. Organized mix of flowers in a simple, yet unexpected arrangement
8. Ecuadorian Roses I spotted yesterday at Wegmans

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How to wear a Canadian Tuxedo.

Last fall, I became obsessed with the ultimate classic, the denim buttoned-down shirt. Aka the top half of a Canadian Tuxedo. Since I wasn't sure if I was going to fully commit to the trend, I purchased a lightweight, budget-friendly version from Forever 21. Unfortunately, the shirt is now sold out but there has been a surge in retailers who offer a very similar style. If someone happens to break into my apartment and steal it I would purchase this look alike from J.Crew.

Now that spring is right around the corner, I am preparing to transition my fav denim look to fit into my sunny weather wardrobe. Below are my eight favorite ways to rock my Canadian Tuxedo. And while I'm at it, is the proper style called 'button(ed)-up' or 'button(ed)-down' or Chambray? Does it matter?
Top: J.Crew, Polyvore, ?  |  Middle: ? , ?, ? magazine editorial  |  Bottom: ?, ?, ?

PS. All of these images came from Pinterest, unfortunately with invalid links to the original source. If you recognize or can claim these images, let me know- I'd love to give credit where credit is due! Which is a good reminder for all to be sure to follow the Pin Etiquette to help others avoid this problem in the future.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Anything vs. Everything

This quote perfectly captures my current state of mind. I'll keep this short since I don't think it needs much of an explanation.

As much as a cop out answer it may seem to be (especially when interviewing), I believe one of my biggest downfall's can be my superwoman mentality. I am willing to bet a lot of creative, planner, Type A personalities would agree. While it's great to be inspired and want to act on a million ideas, it flat out sucks when all that motivation has a reverse effect and paralyzes you with the inability to make your next move.

These words are a great way to remind oneself to never be afraid to try something new. But to recognize when you have stretched yourself too thin. Have lost your focus and need to reset. Or accept that you have failed and move on. Because finding the balance between trying anything and maintaining everything is hard. And until I find the balance, I'll gladly stare at this little mash up I put together using one of my favorite Ashley Goldberg prints.

PS. To see more of Ashley's awesome art, visit her site Kitty Genius.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A sweet and savory pizza.

As I mentioned in my first post about cooking, I am a novice when it comes to navigating my way around the kitchen. Luckily, my discerning (okay fine, super picky) palette appreciates high-quality, fresh tasting food. So much of what I make is anything but traditional and is always a bit quirky. Normally the words 'gourmet' and 'interesting' don't come to mind when the topic is pizza. Thanks in part to my first job, that is exactly how I prefer my pizzas to be in addition to fun and of course, flavorful.

The last time I had a gathering at my house, I wracked my brain trying to figure out something to make that wouldn't be labor intensive, messy, or too heavy knowing there would be a whole night of cocktails ahead. While strolling the aisles of my favorite grocery store ever, I concocted a recipe in my head, purchased the ingredients and headed home in hopes things would turn out for the best.

I'm proud to say the pizza was a hit! Here is the shopping list and my [attempt] at a cohesive recipe perfect for a cozy meal or to share with friends.
Step 1: Pre-heat your oven to 350°

Step 2: Using a pizza stone or floured pan, roll the pizza dough out into a circle (as best you can). Using a fork, sporadically pierce holes into the dough to prevent from it rising too much.

Step 3: Crack that egg, beat it, and egg wash the entire surface of the dough. 

Step 4: Cook the egg-washed dough for approximately 7 minutes. By doing so, you are creating a "shell" to top with the remainder of the ingredients while avoiding a loss of flavor as a result of overcooking.   

Step 5: When your shell is done, layer the following ingredients being sure to leave a 1-inch border around the outside as your crust:
  • A few pads of truffle butter, spread as evenly as possible 
  • A thin layer of baby spinach
  • Very generous clumps of creamy gorgonzola cheese 
  • Thinly sliced peaches strategically placed in array all around the pizza
  • Sprinkle of salt & pepper
  • Very light drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Step 6: Cook for 10-13 more minutes or until you notice the crust getting slightly darker than golden brown.

Step 7: Cool for 3 minutes and drizzle with even more balsamic vinegar. I actually used a BV glaze which added the perfect amount of flavor without being a drippy mess. 

Step 8: Cut into desired number of pieces and serve.

Between Step 5 & 6.

Buon appetito!   

P.S. Let me know if you have any questions or if you try the recipe out for yourself.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

BRB. Going to Vermont.

Wow! This was one of the busiest weeks I have had in a very long time. It flew, yet somehow dragged on by. Amid all of the work, meetings, events, and things to do I mentally convinced myself I was at NYFW ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over all the Fall 2012 looks. Though I was in the same state, the reality couldn't be further from the mental happy place I created. Needless to say, I am looking forward to catching up on all of the blogs by the lucky people who did actually get to go!

In other news, I am leaving bright and early to go on my very first ski trip. You could tell from my awesome image, right? I am leaving in just a few hours but I honestly have no idea where I am going. Yes, you read that correctly. I am leaving for four days and have absolutely no idea where I am going. Or staying. Or really what we'll be doing for that matter (besides hitting the slopes). This is my first time giving up all control over a vacation/getaway and just going with the flow. I have to say it feels pretty good and I am excited to see what is in store. Especially considering my most free-spirited friend in the world (Nancy, I am referring to you) semi-planned it and I am just tagging along. Here is what I do know:
  • We are going to Stowe, Vermont. I've never been to Vermont so I am sure the image I have of Ben & Jerry's on every corner and a state that smells of Birkenstocks is completely off base.
  • We are staying in a house that will most likely be way to small for the 12-14 people going. Who knows if Josh and I will even have a bed.
  • It will take approximately 8 hours to get there. Wherever "there" is. Good thing I am not driving.
  • There will be copious amounts of beer, wine, food, and laughter. Honestly, that was the selling point for me.
  • I will be the worst skier, by far, and will probably need to scoot down the mountain on my butt more than I would ever care to admit. But at least I will look cute in all my sweet gear.
  • I didn't pack a single pair of heels. Or 18 different outfit options for the matter. I am also quite proud of myself for not over-packing for the very first time.
 So, if you have ever been to Stowe or know of some great places near by, please leave a comment and let me know.

Happy Friday!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The best kind of revenge.

Revenge is a tricky thing. A philosophy that often blurs the line between those who believe in it and those who don't. Those who hold a firm grasp on the phrase "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." Or those who wisely respond back with "An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind."

Given the situation, most of us know revenge morally wrong. Childish. Spiteful. Foolish, even. Which could be why many people are embarrassed to admit that they made a decision that can be deduced to mere retaliation. But we've all done it. And have celebrated the sweet taste of pay back by recounting the story and high-fiving our best friends.

So now that I have written the next introduction for ABC's hit show, I'll get to the point. As I watched Adele collect Grammy, after Grammy, after very well deserved Grammy last night, my stance on revenge became very clear.

Obviously I didn't take this photo, but I did edit it & make the graphic. Link back to me please!

Everyone can name someone who has done them wrong. Who has hurt them. Betrayed them. Pushed them to their limit and driven them to want to seek revenge. But where does that really get them in the end? Are a few moments of instant gratification enough? What if Adele chose to slash her ex's tires instead of re-directing her emotions into heartfelt songs?

The world would be a better place if revenge meant channeling spiteful energy into moving beyond a negative situation through positive, forward motion. To rise above and create happiness from anger or sadness. To take revenge by allowing yourself to shake your head and laugh at the bloke from your past. The one that ironically enabled you to propel into a better future. And it's your little secret if you feel the need to silently flip them the bird behind your new found smile.

PS. If you're like me and can't get enough of Adele, she is gracing the March cover of Vogue. Click here to preview the stunning spread. Oh, and Chuck Palahniuk is the bad-ass author of The Fight Club.