Archive for 2013

Fifteen Finds – The Year That Was 2013

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

The year that was 2013 – it was a wild, winding and wonderful adventure. Thank you to all of my remarkable family and friends – without you this particular ship cannot sail. So in taking inventory and feeling grateful, I had to stop and think about what really did float my boat (yes, I kept the metaphor alive folks). And thus I got to my 15 finds…

This list runs the range – people, places, philanthropy and – of course delicacies…

Judge me not, this is my lens, ya’ll -

If you prefer another view, take a pass!


1.         Greenhook Gin – Why yes, I know I am being forced to choose sides here – I will take the Brooklyn side (sorry Green Cat people)…maybe it was the passion with which August served it to me at Union Square Cafe, maybe it was just my mood the first time I sipped this amazingly herbaceous elixir – bottom line – I am in!

Greenhook Gin

2.         Chinatown Coffee, Washington DC – You had me at a shot of seltzer with my cortado – you love me, you really love me!

3.         Le Marquis de Riscal – Again, I know that timing is everything – and my arrival at this remarkable Starwood property in the luscious Rijoa region of Spain was about as needed and as well timed as they come. Did I mention the wine? The Caudlie spa? The super –swank accommodations (than you Badr)? The neighboring town La Guardia where you can Tapas out while watching the whole of the small, remote town do the same after their Sunday morning in church – yes that was good!

4.         NoViolet Bulawayo, author of We Need New Names – Lyrical, powerful and compact – the way I like my books. She tells a stunning narrative of the immigrant story – colorful and complex in Zimbabwe perhaps more muted and dark in Detroit. Still, I was rapt! What an impressive debut novel – impossible to put down – to be savored not guzzled. Looking forward to what comes next from this talented literary find.

5.         Bedford Cheese Shop – My Cheesemonger has my heart – I cannot stray. A remarkable and well-edited shop, Bedford is ideal for both novice and seasoned cheesy people alike. I am a fan for life of Charlotte’s descriptions (think down dirty, clever and no holds barred), her great eye for hiring (really there is a contagious a passion and a vibe in the shop like no other) and the sum of every exchange we share!

6.         RMHC – As the year progressed I spent more and more time visiting Ronald McDonald Houses around the US  (with another favorite and one of the few people who can really move me off my mark, Rachel Mennell) and affiliated hospital NICUs. I attended their bi-annual conference in July and yes- took a big gulp of the Kool-Aide. What a remarkable, caring approach for whole family care. Now, to help them grow…off we go…

7.     The Dry Bar – Yes we took it up a notch this year – you joined me in Bethesda in addition to our usual meeting spot in the Flatiron. I credit you for making my life as easy and as beautiful as I ever could imagine, at least in the hair department!

The Dry Bar


8.         The Moth – It is true – I am diehard on this one. And this year I spent more live time with the Moth only adding to my addiction and conviction. Don’t tell me you listen to their podcast but never donate – we will have a problem.

9.         Red Hen –Oh this is my kind of place. It is from the Gramercy Tavern (front room) school of “welcome home” dining out. We have been cozy and never disappointed. I adore the simple brilliance of the kitchen, the clever wine list and the mood, baby, the mood…

Red Hen – Washington, DC

10. Crème Ancienne Ultimate Nourishing Honey Mask - I am not sure full body coverage is really an option – if it were, I would take it! This is the good stuff, at once rich and emollient, luxurious and decadent. It is about as great a weapon against winter’s dry, mean cold as I have tried. And have I mentioned the amazing scent of this miracle mask?  Thank you Fresh for another wonderful addition to my favorite line.

11. 100 Proof Treatment Oil by The Dry Bar – Related to my love of The Dry Bar – this is the one product that gets me through the week and from blow to blow – I consider it to be  a most critical product, especially when I am on the road.

100 Proof Treatment Oil


12.  New Yorker Magazine Digital Copy – Bring on the short stories for travel – just the perfect stockpile of fiction for my time OTR or cozy at home!

13. Scandal – Yes I am a cliché – but as a fixer how can I NOT bow to the high priestess of fixers?

14.  Bon Appetit – Not only did you reinvent both the print and digital copies – you amused me and ticked my fancy with your spine mosaic. I still smile thinking about my finally seeing the picture!

15. True Blue Friends and Family – There are not enough words to say how incredibly grateful I am – and while you are not new “finds” your devotion and care helped me find my way!

Good Friends – Julia and Jennifer, laughing off the rain, as it should be! Photo Credit to Amy!



Painting the Picture with TMI

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

I was just having a very passionate paint moment….really, I was. Corine Ingrassia was begging (in her adorable way) for help with the palate for her biggest project to date, her new home. I jumped up as fast as I could and said “pick me, pick me” – and really, I was not kidding. And really, I was armed with all my Benjamin Moore loyalty and tools — ready to roll (paint roll that is).

That got me thinking — how many other brands had me at hello? Who has made my super-short list of brands that get my signature swoon and preferential passion? I drafted the list.  And then I started wondering, what exactly does this say about me? Let’s see:


Benjamin Moore

The Moth

Bedford Cheese Shop

Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask

The Dry Bar

Starwood Hotels (all about the W, Union Square but I am a loyal girl)

Ok so super smart people — what ever does this TMI say about me?


Tis The Season

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Ho Ho Ho — it looks like Santa is bringing some amazing new team members to Forty Weeks – what a gift! Stay tuned to see how we are expanding in the New Year!

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, December 20th, 2013

It all started with the Swine Flu epidemic in 2009. Not the most glamorous of introductions, but none-the-less, this is how I came to know Maine based journalist, Kara Matuszewski Sassone. Kara immediately struck me as intelligent, compassionate and smart as a whip. I was her source (I had two girls up at summer camp in Maine that summer and as the epidemic swelled I kept her up to speed on the inside story) and quickly her friend. Through our many interactions over various digital platforms Kara’s compassion and competence never failed to impress me. Our friendship quickly went IRL and flourished. She became a part of my inner-circle and together we battled more than the flu.

What I was always struck by was how Kara could quickly shift the energy of almost any room to one of optimism and collaboration. She was the first to step up and as a natural leader – others followed. She openly shared her voice and her experiences. Even in the face of her own personal challenges, Kara always had clarity and purpose. I watched with marvel as each obstacle was removed and further, how she never forgot to give back in real, tangible ways to ease the journey of others.

As amazing of a participant as Kara is, she is equally gifted at stepping back and reading the landscape. It was through this lens that she shifted her career to align with what she saw as the true power of Social Media. As Kara grew her career from journalism to higher education, so too her family with husband Scott Sassone grew. Their most adorable twins, Campbell and Jackson have made for a busy, full house  - one she shares openly via SM partners such as Isis Parenting, Bravado Designs and more. Still, Kara is never too busy to connect, care and make a real difference in the world around her.

Meet my friend and latest Philanthropic Mom, the remarkable Kara Sassone!

Kara (Matuszewski) Sassone

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

Even before being a mother, I liked to be involved in my community, whether it was emceeing an event, being part of a fundraising walk, volunteering, donating blood, or gathering donations. Now that I’m a mother, I feel an even more intense desire to give back in order to help ensure my children will grow up in a thoughtful and helpful environment.

What is an early or stand-out memory of community service, philanthropic commitment or another way in which you felt strongly connected to an issue in the bigger world?

While growing up my family would host a St. Nicholas Day party every year. My friends and I would make decorations that would then be donated to a local soup kitchen. Going with my parents as they delivered our gifts made me realize how lucky I was.

Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

My mother has always taught me to be kind, to help others, and to give when and where you can. Whether it be with money, with time, or with a hug, she has taught me to be generous with what you can offer.

What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud?

Literally since the day my twins were born they have been part of our philanthropic family. They were born prematurely smack dab in the middle of Movember – a month in which men grow mustaches to raise money for and awareness of men’s cancers. My husband offered to shave his mustache so we wouldn’t have newborn photos with Dad sporting a ‘stache. I refused telling him I wanted our children to know we don’t just care for ourselves, but for others. On their first birthday, instead of gifts, we asked that friends and family donate to Movember and we had a mustache-themed party.

What is the legacy of change you want to leave behind?

I don’t need to be the biggest donor or have a building named after me, but I do want people to say, “She was a good, kind, helpful woman.” I want people to know that donating blood can be just as meaningful as donating money; that making cookies brings smiles to faces, too.

What would your children say about all of this?  

I hope that when my children are older they will have the same desire to help, and they will look at their pictures from the NICU and say, “I’m glad Daddy didn’t shave his mustache.”

Lazy, Sunny Sunday

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

It’s a lazy Sunny Sunday. Well, maybe lazy is not really it – but home and ready to spend the day recharging for another week of making it so!

Philanthropic Friday – Philanthropic Moms Honor Roll

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Years ago, Jessica Shyba burst into my life like a beautiful ray of spring sunshine. When we first met, she was a young mother of two  – later she would glow her way through a third pregnancy with Beau, and oh the fun we had! Jessica and I cultivated an amazing friendship – one that literally weathered serious storms (that would be Sandy to be specific) and one in which we had each other’s backs in the most certain of ways.  Jessica won such a big place in my heart through her spirit and her radiance. Jessica has a remarkable eye – not just for what is visually powerful but for people as well. When she finds beauty she shares it. And this has been the case most recently.

Jessica’s photography has always been something I have admired. She documents her way through the world using her lens of compassion and pure love. She is able to capture moments that feel at once private and universal. This is a rare gift. Recently, Jess shared images of her baby (maybe not, Beau just turned two!!!) and puppy Theo sharing their naptime and bond. These images, now known as #TheoandBeau went viral. The images and Jessica herself have been featured in a wide array of national and international outlets. The best part of this burst of ackowledgement? Jessica has used it to flex her muscle as a Philanthropic Mom.

Through the much deserved attention around #TheoandBeau Jessica has directed donations back to the local SPCA where Theo was adopted. Thus far, she has been able to raise both much-needed funds and awareness for the The Santa Cruz SPCA which  is in desperate need of a new facility. Thanks to Jessica’s amazing images and effort, over $1,800 has been donated (to date).

Meet my beautiful friend and our latest Philanthropic Mom:

 Jessica Shyba

Mommas Gone City

What makes you a Philanthropic Mom?

I think becoming a mother brought philanthropy to the forefront of my mind. It’s impossible not to be empathetic or sympathetic to things once you become a parent, for me anyway. I feel like I’m sort of putting positivity back into the world in an effort to attempt to show my own gratitude for our blessings.

What is an early or stand-out memory of community service, philanthropic commitment or another way in which you felt strongly connected to an issue in the bigger world?

When I was in elementary school, we went to Sea World for the first time and I distinctly remember wondering why the whale’s dorsal fins were flopped over. Once I researched and found out the awful truth, I began my quest to become a marine biologist. That’s the first time I remember feeling like I wanted to make a difference in the world.

Who was your biggest philanthropic influence?

I would say, as cheesy as it sounds, that Angelina Jolie was an early influencer of mine. It struck me as remarkable what she had done with her celebrity status within her own family and as a philanthropist. Truly, though, my greatest influences are always my closest friends. I have some incredible people in my circle.

What about being a Philanthropic Mom makes you most proud?

I am most proud that my children are, even at their age, sensitive to those struggling in this world that we live in. When I went to Guatemala with World Vision, their questions, curiosity and caring about the children I was spending time with there made my heart nearly burst.

What is the legacy of change you want to leave behind?  

I would like to leave an impression of empathy, and hopefully instill a level of caring and compassion for everyone, as well as the knowledge that all acts of kindness are extraordinary and important.

What would your kids say about all of this?

Their feeling is that they are happy that I’m doing things to help others, but they don’t want me to leave again. Ever!


Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

  • I am thankful for those who have cared for me when I have needed it. And for those who allowed me to care for them when the tables were turned.
  • I am thankful for new friends who bring fresh energy and light to the day.  And for old friendships, either tireless or renewed, which remind me of the scope of the spectacular journey I have been on.
  • I am thankful for an abundance of intelligent, passionate and driven people in my life – you spark me, encourage me and challenge me in all the best ways.
  • I am thankful for those who turn me on to so many new ideas, finds and inside lines  - and always, I am grateful for the ability to return the favor.
  • I am thankful for health – the return of mine and for the optimism that those I love will regain theirs.
  • I am thankful for my family for cheering me on from here and the great “what’s next”.
  • I am thankful for my soul’s mate and for a house full of beautiful souls to go with him.
  • I am thankful for amazing genes that make so much of my dreaming morph into my reality.
  • I am thankful for love – the ability to give and receive it.
  • I am thankful for age – the intersection of experience and recognition is a remarkable one!
  • I am thankful for the little moments of perfection I keep finding along the way.
  • I am thankful that there is today and maybe even tomorrow to see what’s next…

Thanking all of you for being a part of my world – and so,  sending love to you and yours.

Happy Thanksgiving!


So many precious things to be thankful for this year

and brrrrr…..

Monday, November 25th, 2013

So much to do on this Monday of a short Thanksgiving week…first allow me to stop and say “brrrr” – oh it is that cold!

When Frozen, Find Friends!

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Oh thank goodness for a Sunday night of keeping warm in Toronto town…


Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Is there a legal limit to the number of Lentil and Avocado salads I can have in a week? Le Pain, we have to stop meeting like this…