Recently Read: The Woman I Wanted to Be

The Woman I Wanted to beHappy Holidays to you!

Time is more than scarce right now, but I wanted to make sure that I wrote about this book before Christmas. It would be a great gift for someone if you are still shopping.

The Woman I Wanted to Be, by Diane von Furstenberg, is truly inspiring and has changed the way that I start and end each day. What an amazing woman!

Even if you don’t buy this book, read it. Borrow it from the library. Read it in the store. But read it. Especially if you are trying to start something new and find your own way. If you are seeking inspiration and confidence, you will find it in the pages she has written.

Her philosophy has been that she wanted to live the life of a man, but in a woman’s body. She wanted the career, money, and freedom that used to only be in the reach of men, but she wanted to be able to do that as a woman. And she has!

Because of this book, each day I ask myself the question, “Am I closer to being the woman that I want to be?” If not, I try to make little changes to get closer the next day. If yes, well, then I smile!

Most of us know of von Furstenberg as the creator of the wrap dress. She has had a life full of glamour and leads a very jet set existence. But in the book, she still comes through as being very down to earth. She was part of the Studio 54 scene and knew all the stars. But it’s not like she is being fake and making things up. This was her life!

Her mother was a Holocaust survivor and her story provided core values and great determination that were passed down to her daughter. Regardless of her deep strength, we learn about the ebb and flow of confidence in her life by how she wears her hair. Plus she tells an interesting story about a very young Bruce Springsteen.

My curly hair had become an asset. I felt confident and free. That confidence didn’t stay with me all the time. My hair became a barometer for my self-esteem, and in the early nineties I started to straighten my hair again. Those were not great years. I was yet again in search of myself and was a bit insecure. As I regained confidence, I let the curls come back. I learned how to master them, how to use them and let them be a part of the true me. I even started to welcome humidity because it adds so much volume to curly hair.

It might seem trivial to give that much importance to hair, but I know all women with curls will identify with this struggle. So will some curly-haired men, I recently discovered. During a vacation last year on the boat of a friend, entertainment mogul David Geffen, I was having a conversation about hair with the women on board when Bruce Springsteen the macho, superhero rock star chimed in. He, too, used to hate his Italian curls when he was fifteen and starting out, he confessed, and so did his teenage band mates, The Castiles. They all wished they could switch their Mediterranean curls for straight bangs like the Beatles. So, at night, they would go secretly to a beauty parlor for black women in Freehold, New Jersey to have their hair straightened!

I laughed out loud with that story! Especially as a Black woman and having gone though my own natural hair journey. The book is full of so many interesting stories and they all make their points. The introduction to her book sets the stage and summarizes what her life is about. I really like this quote from it as a nice takeaway.

As a girl, I did not know what I wanted to do but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be. I wanted to be my own person, independent and free. I knew that freedom could only be achieved if I took full responsibility for myself and my actions, if I were true to the truth, if I became my very best friend.

I liked this book a lot. And feel like I’m becoming a better person for having read it.

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Screenshot: Simon & Schuster

{You Pick Six} An Interview with Public Relations Consultant: Chris Haynes

Public Relations Consultant Chris HaynesLooking for a Boston PR guy? Well, that’s literally Chris Haynes’ handle on Twitter. He’s currently celebrating 17 years as the founder of his public relations firm, CBH Communications.

Chris shares fun events and stylish happenings around the city, along with pictures showing the beauty of New England. His pictures of places like Nantucket will make you swoon and feel nostalgic for somewhere that you’ve never been. And then there’s the food.

He works with some of my favorite places in Boston, probably yours too. Recognized as one of “Style Makers of Boston,” Chris helps us all up our game.

For the seventh part of the interview series, You Pick Six, let’s hand the wheel over to Chris!

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What is a favorite simple recipe to prepare at home?
My grandmother’s pie crust recipe. So simple, easy and the best! I still have the recipe that I hand copied (spelling mistakes and all) when I was a little kid onto a recipe card. My niece and nephew ask me to make it –but not for pie crusts, but for these little treats we called Lamby Tails. Basically you make the crust, roll it out, butter it and then top with a sugar and cinnamon mix. Then roll and chop! No one can resist. Even my vegan sister!

What is a favorite dessert?
Right now Blackbird Doughnuts in the South End.

birthday donutsWhat is some of the best advice you’ve ever received?
Professionally: Clients do not owe you thank you if they are paying you. Personally: Try not to push your life stresses onto friends or family –they won’t hang out long if you do.

What is a favorite childhood food memory?
My grandparents lake house and swimming!

What do you think that most people don’t understand about food?
That if it’s ‘unattractive’ or ‘unfamiliar’ they will not try it. Period. Duh, your pallet grows and changes with age — you have to taste and taste and taste.

You couldn’t get the ‘jaws of life’ that they use on cars to get an oyster down my throat — that is until I started doing PR for Legal Seafoods and had to eat one at a media dinner. Then it hit me like a truck — they were delicious! The best! Today I cannot get enough.

What is the best meal you ever had and where was it?
When I went to summer camp as a kid, I clear as day, remember the counselor going around the fire pit and asking us, “if we could eat at any restaurant in the world, where and what would it be?”  All the other kids answered McDonalds, Wendy’s, etc. I yelled out “the restaurant on top of the Eiffel Tower!”  Everyone just looked at me, but truth be told, my favorite movie at the time was Superman II and there was scene at the then restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.  Anyway, fast forward to three years ago and I finally achieved dining at my dream restaurant and a result the BEST MEAL I ever had!  My friend and I dined at Alain Ducasse, Le Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower.  I’m not sure I have ever or will ever have a better meal!

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Thank you so much for participating Chris!

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Photos by Chris Haynes.

{You Pick Six} An Interview with Food Blogger: El from Fresh New England

Image of woman holding a madeleine, from website Fresh New EnglandAs a lifelong New Englander and someone with a serious sweet tooth, finding El’s blog was like finding the holy grail.

First, take a look at her Instagram feed. See what I mean? Some of you may have been swept away for more than a few minutes. You’re probably hungry now too!

Her baking skills, photography and love for New England are self-evident. Plus, her writing is not only about food. She always has a takeaway message that will leave you thinking.

I can’t speak highly enough about El. So I’ll let her do the rest of the “talking” and share some thoughts with us for the fifth part of the interview series, You Pick Six.

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What is a favorite simple recipe to prepare at home?
It’s more of a snack but it can be eaten any time of the day. Lightly toast a big, thick slice of crusty bread, smear it with soft goat cheese and top with spreadable jam. It tastes best when you use good quality New England made ingredients.

What is a favorite quote?
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
-William Morris

What is a favorite food movie?
Babette’s Feast. It’s a Danish story that portrays the centrality and meaning of food in our lives. It explores the notions of bringing people together over a meal and creating a meal for the sake of the meal. It also has strong themes of selflessness and generosity, which are typically present when we make food for others.

What is a favorite cookbook?
I love Bo Friberg’s Professional Pastry Chef. It’s well-researched and well-written. It addresses the fact that most desserts are made up of core, classic components. If you can master the components, your dessert repertoire is only limited by your imagination.

What do you think that most people don’t understand about food?
That local food isn’t necessarily more expensive than supermarket food. I spent a day visiting and recording prices at supermarket chains, organic farms and regular farms in the Greater Boston area. Do you know what I found? Almost consistently, per pound, the food from local farms – including organic farms- was cheaper than the food from the chain stores. Add that to the fact that local food is more nutritious, saves our beautiful and historic New England landscape, and supports the local economy and it’s easy to see that buying local food is the way to go.

Tell me about what you’re working on now.
As you know, Fresh New England has always been a great place to find information about New England’s culinary treasures. Now there’s a brand new companion site called Fresh New England Eats. The site is beautiful, searchable and has geolocation built in so can find the best local food in New England no matter where you are or what you’re doing. There are already over a thousand businesses listed on the site and we’re just getting started. The food community is really excited about it.

Basically, I’m on a mission to unite the New England food system into a single digital space. We have some of the best local food in the world and it’s time to give it the recognition it deserves.

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Thank you so much for participating El!

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Photo of Lemon Madeleines Dipped in White Chocolate provided by El.

{You Pick Six} An Interview with Public Relations Consultant: Chris Lyons

PR Consultant Chris Lyons in front of an outside fire pit grilling food.If you’ve enjoyed learning about the latest restaurants, recent grocery store openings, and generally all things food related in the New England area, Chris Lyons Communications might have been behind the news.

She is a public relations consultant and entrepreneur who knows how to get things done and spread the word. She gets us bloggers involved and sometimes feeds us too!

I always enjoy learning more about the local food scene from Chris, so let’s learn a little more about her for the fourth part of the interview series, You Pick Six.

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What is a favorite simple recipe to prepare at home?
Make your favorite meatloaf recipe, but instead of just pushing it into a pan, flatten in into an oblong (on wax paper) and layer on whatever vegetables and cheese you have in the fridge. Last week I used whole leaf spinach, sauteed leeks and burrata. Using the wax paper, roll the meat into a thick cylinder, seal the edges, and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Slices prettily and is good cold too.

La Salamandra dulce de lecheWhat is a favorite dessert?
Anything made with cooked milk: dulce de leche, caramel, butterscotch.

What is a favorite snack?
I always crave sugar, never salt, and prefer things that are chewy. I love fruit leather, gummies and gumdrops, salt water taffy, DOTS.

What are some of your pet peeves in the kitchen?
I hate peeling things — apples, potatoes, cukes, etc.

What is a favorite cookbook?
Anything written by Cathy Walthers, a private chef and multi-cookbook author based on Martha’s Vineyard. Her “Raising the Salad Bar” is a minor classic.

Tell me about where you grew up.
I was born in Brooklyn and grew up mostly on Long Island, so the foods I feel most connected to emotionally are deli meats (I still adore olive loaf), full dill pickles, seeded rye bread, bagels, diner breakfasts and halvah. I’m the most Jewish WASP you’ll ever meet.

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Thank you so much for participating Chris!

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Photos provided by Public Relations Consultant Chris Lyons.

National Popcorn Poppin’ Month

Boomchickapop popcorn truck in Quincy

Earlier this evening, I went to Stop & Shop to quickly pick-up a few groceries. As I was parking my car (add the Boston accent if you like), I spotted this pink and purple truck and took a picture. I walked into the store and they were handing out free bags of popcorn, so of course I took a couple.

According to The Popcorn Board, October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month. Until a few minutes ago, I didn’t know there was a Popcorn Board never mind that that this is the official month of popcorn poppin’.

The Boom Tour is in the Boston area right now and I just happened to walk smack into it. A Huffington Post article says that Angie Bastian started her business, BOOMCHICKAPOP, because she was trying to make some extra money to put toward her children’s college funds. She and her husband Dan turned it into a $50 million dollar business and their products are sold in all fifty states and Canada.

Looks like the kids won’t be needing student loans!