Our Friend

Over the extremely cold weekend, I plopped myself on the couch mid day and watched the newly released movie “Our Friend.” I was intrigued by the movie with its stellar cast (Dakota Johnson, Casey Affleck, Jason Segel), but had no idea that it would be such a realistic, beautiful and highly emotional movie. I sobbed — hysterical tears, and then spent the rest of the evening researching the movie and the real life characters. I loved it and highly recommend it. Warning — for those of you with cancer or who have a friend or family member with cancer, it might be extremely triggering. The movie is a true story based on a young mother dying of cancer and her husband and best friend’s life taking care of her.

 

The best friend, Dane, and the daughters.

 

It is based off of the husband’s essay he wrote for The Esquire Magazine in 2015. “It was a routine death in every sense. It was ordinary. Common. The only remarkable element was Dane. I had married into this situation, but how had he gotten here? Love is not a big-enough word. He stood and faced the reality of death for my sake. He is my friend.”—Matthew Teague, “The Friend.” The movie shows how pure and special the friendship Dane has with both Matthew and Nicole — and we should all hope to have a friend like Dane in our life. Or to be a friend like Dane — someone truly kind, selfless, and supportive.

 

Stellar performances from all actors. And more important, a realistic and heartbreaking account of death, being sick, and the love and care from others.

 

I absolutely loved this movie and want to watch it again. It is that good. It is raw, honest, and beautiful. To read the review, go here. To read the actual essay (extremely beautiful and a MUST READ after you watch the movie) go here, and to read more about where Matthew and Dane are now, go here. You can watch “Our Friend” on demand for a fee of $20, and it is worth every cent.

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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Lewis Miller Design Flower Flash

One of my favorite accounts to follow on instagram is NYC based florist, Lewis Miller. He puts together beautiful floral arrangements with a great sense of style and eye — but mostly, I love him for his flower flashes he creates in the city. Initially, Lewis started these flashes as an experiment to reconnect himself with the craft, but then quickly saw the beautiful shared experience with New Yorkers and what joy and beauty it brought to everyone. So they became his gift to New Yorkers — with his goal to create “a positive, emotional response through flowers, and that seeing people’s reactions to the flashes emphasizes the basic goodness in all people and prioritizes compassion.”

 

Yesterday, I saw on my insta feed, that he had done his first 2021 installation at Hudson Yards. So, immediately, ran down there to see it. He wrote that he wanted something fun and playful for the kids of the city — and that it is. Different, fun, and beautiful.

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The White Moustache Date Yogurt

I am fully 100% addicted to The White Moustache Date yogurt. It is unlike anything I have ever tried and I will climb mountains, swim across oceans, run hundreds of miles — anything — to get to this yogurt.  Made in Hudson Valley, NY, this yogurt is made with love, care, and exceptional quality ingredients — you can tell both in the cost of the jar ($6.50 per jar) and taste. It is far superior to generic brand yogurt bought in the grocery store — and is worth every penny.

 

I always am in shock when I spent $20 on three jars of yogurt — but then when I taste it, I am so happy. It is worth it.

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Favorite Candles

I know people think that candles are an impersonal gift, but I personally love them and can never have too many. To me, they are the PERFECT gift. A little token of love that keeps on giving! Every time I light a candle, I remember where / who / what and think back to a memory with the given smell. I also have a cabinet of candles, as you never know when you need a last minute gift. So, here is my list of favorite candles!

 

1. D.S. & Durga Big Sur After Rain

 

One of my favorite scents — have it as soap, hand sanitizer, and as candles. It is light and refreshing and I never get sick of it.

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Homemade Coasters

Recently, I have been on a needlepoint kick. I can’t stop! I can sit there for hours, just needlepointing. It is relaxing, at the same time as being stressful. But in the end, I love the enjoyment of creating something from scratch. In the past two months, I have thoroughly enjoyed making a series of “duds” and “dudes,” and then making them in to coasters. I made each bit of them by hand — they look it, too — but I secretly love the organic, roughness of it. You can tell that someone made them, and I love that part of it. So now, we have fun and wacky new coasters for our home — I just need to have a party (thanks, COVID!)

 

This is my little nook, where I spent a big portion of the day…..

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Flower District

Since fresh flowers are one of the things that bring me joy, I decided that this year, I would make my way down to the Flower District in NYC (28th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues) on a weekly basis. Ever since I made that commitment (to myself), I have gone every. single. Monday. Literally, rain or shine, I figure out a way to pack it in to my schedule. I have walked there, taken cabs, or most often, I run there. I love this adventure so much — not just because I get the freshest of fresh flowers at a great cost, but also, because I get to meet new people and see the city. I now have a guy at my flower shop and he knows I come every week, so he always tells me what is the freshest and even gives me discounts. These small little interactions, and the fresh blooms, are what keep me going — pandemic, gloomy weather, remote learning, feelings of isolation, nothing to do — it’s the little things that make the big difference.

 

This past Monday, it was SOOOO rainy and dark. But, nothing stopped me.

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Hair of the Dog Mobile Spa

Our new puppy, Stevie, needed a haircut for the first time last week, so I was introduced to the mobile spa, Hair of the Dog, by a fellow dog owner. This female owned small business is literally an RV that comes to YOU and does the trim / nails / teeth in the RV in front of the apartment. Not only is it super convenient, but the employees are extremely kind. We will definitely return to them for Stevie’s next haircut. And I highly recommend this company if you (a) live in NYC (b) want to support small businesses and (c) want a great experience for your animal.

 

They text you when they are five minutes away and they parked half a block from us.

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Woodley + Lowe

I am excited to share with you a conversation with friends that recently started a new direct-to-consumer-retail company, Woodley + Lowe. It is a loungewear fashion company directed for the younger generation that is smart, interesting, as well as comfy, cozy, and fashionable. It is just the beginning! Check out the questions and answers with the founders and check out Woodley + Lowe!

 

Who is your target customer? Who are they? Where do they live? What do they like to do?

 

Basic but not so basic.

 

This question turned out to be harder to answer than you might expect.  I know, from a business and marketing perspective, having a very specific image of your “target customer” is important, but so much of what our brand is about is accepting that our fans don’t fit just one “type”.  She might be athletic, she might be artsy, she might be social, she might be shy—she might even be all of the above.  (We even recognize that, while we use the she/her pronouns, we would love to see non-binary or cis-male fans in our clothes as well!). That said, generally speaking, she’s high school or college aged, passionate, authentic, and connected to her community.  She’s tired of having to choose between inexpensive fast-fashion that doesn’t last and popular women’s brands that are too expensive or don’t quite fit her style.  She’s looking for a brand that speaks specifically to her, and not her mom or her younger sister.

 

What makes you different / sets you apart from competitors?

Size chart. Looks like a complex scientific graph.

 

 

Our biggest differentiator is our approach to size.  We were frustrated with the “one size fits all” approach and message of other brands, and we wanted to create something that addressed more sizes and shapes.  Especially for teen girls, who are growing in all different ways and rates, we wanted to create a brand that everyone in a friend group could wear.  Having more sizes presented a challenge from a cost and logistics perspective, but it was really important to us.  We currently cover sizes from about 12/14 kids’ to size 10 women’s.  Our A-B-C-D-E system (and pants come in 2 lengths for each size) gives us the ability to add where we see demand—which brings me to our other differentiator….

 

We are all about listening to our fans and delivering what they want and need.  We want them to collaborate and co-create with us.  That’s why we’ve incorporated a lot of space on our website for photos of real girls in our clothes.  We love to see how they style them—everyone has a different take.  We also love to poll our followers on Instagram about new colors and designs they want to see.  It’s a win-win: they get to be involved in what we deliver, and we build an enthusiastic fan base.

 

What are your key items and what makes them special?

Current selection of items.

 

We wanted to launch with a really tight assortment—we’ll have 12 different styles to start—so picking one favorite is hard!  The key driver of our brand are the comfortable fabrics we selected across all pieces.  We feel really good about our Sweats category.  We began developing it even before that’s what everyone was living in.  Our Cozy Cloud Fleece, which is the base for all of it, is the softest blend of cotton, rayon, and recycled poly.  It literally feels like wearing a cloud (but warmer and dryer.) Once you put on our Comfy Crush Hoodie and Dream Joggers, you won’t want to take them off.

 

But we wanted to be more than just another Sweats brand.  We’re also really excited about our Elevated Essentials.  We used the same comfort-driven approach to create a few pieces for when you need something a little nicer than the just-off-the-couch look.  For example, we have a ruffled mini skirt and cropped rugby made from a soft and smooth modal fleece.  One of our Ambassadors joked “I could sleep in this and save time in the morning before school!”  Lastly, we’re rounding out our collection of essentials with a few Base Body Wear pieces: a bralette, a cami with built-in shelf bra, and, of course, some leggings.  Once again, we went for the comfort approach, so our fabric is not too tech-y, but equally wearable all day in class or out for a run.

 

Color palette — what’s the background on it and how did you decide?

Soft, pastel color palette.

 

Our color palette came about by polling our fans.  We found that what they really wanted were clothes in colors that they loved and make them feel good, and not necessarily tied to seasons.  So our launch collection is heavy on pastels, even though we knew we were launching for fall, because that’s what everyone was gravitating to.  Then we added some more neutral colors to help ground it—olive, vanilla, and our marine blue (which is like denim), and threw in orchid as a pop color.  We’re excited to get more active with our community in getting their feedback on colors, through our Instagram account and on Pinterest as well.

What is the meaning of your name? And how you started.

Logo

 

Just like much of our other decision making, our name came about through polls.  Before we even launched Woodley + Lowe, we set up an Instagram group of about 150 high school girls (mostly in NY, but some across the country), to help us with branding and other initial design decisions.  We brainstormed a number of different words and names that reminded us of high school/college (for example, Woodley is the road that my high school is on in Washington, DC), and then we polled our Instagram group.  Turns out they loved the idea of pairing two names together, and we did too.  It’s come to represent to us, as a brand, the yin and yang of everyone’s personality—sometimes you’re playful, sometimes you’re serious; some days you might want to dress up and go out with your friends, and other days you just want to sit in bed and watch Netflix.

 

What’s next with your collection? What can we see in the future?

What’s to come

 

We’re already well into development of our Spring drops.  Even though our pieces are meant to be worn year round, we know it’s important to infuse some newness. We’ll definitely carry over what we expect to be the most popular styles, and add some fun colors.  We’re also excited about some more summery pieces that have a kind of retro-summer-camp vibe. Mainly, we’re just excited to continue growing our collection of comfortable essentials to endlessly mix & match with each other or your other favorite pieces.

 

Where are the clothes created and made?

Fashion.

All our clothes are designed in NY and hand made in LA.  To be honest, being new to the fashion industry, I never really stopped to think about what really went into that.  Now I realize, when I see something cut a little off, or a label that’s not quite centered, I think about the fact that there was a real person cutting this fabric and sitting down to a sewing machine, and I find that really endearing.  It also helped me understand the prices that many good fashion brands charge, as it forced me to think about the fact that someone who is skilled at this craft took time to hand make what I’m wearing, and that person’s time and skill is worth something.

 

Ambassadors — tell me about them!

 

Ambassadors

 

We took a different marketing approach than most other direct-to-consumer start ups, who seemed to turn on a website with cool branding and then pour a bunch of money into Facebook and Instagram ads and watch people come to their site.  But we think the Gen Z consumer is savvier, and most of their purchase decisions come from “what are my friends wearing.”  So we decided to create an Ambassador program—real girls, not paid influencers—to sing our praises to their friends.  Ambassadors can apply through our website, and they’ll be emailed a few questions to answer about themselves.  We accept anyone who’s interested, as long as they’re 14 and older.  (If we get to a point where, logistically, we can’t handle the numbers, we may institute a waiting list, but everyone will eventually be accepted!) In exchange, they get a discount code and other perks, and we ask them to refer friends to shop and send us pictures for our website and social media.  So far we’ve loved getting to know this enthusiastic group!

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Thank you, Woodley + Lowe! I am inspired by female entrepreneurs that have a mission and accomplish what they set out to do! I can’t wait to get my hands on one of your hoodies!

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Pumpkin Bread

I am a sucker for pumpkin spice (yep, I am one of those ladies who love pumpkin spice lattes and anything pumpkin flavored) so after seeing many posts and reviews about the pumpkin bread from Smitten Kitchen, I decided to make some of my own — and it did NOT disappoint. So delicious and yummy, and so easy to make. I will definitely make this throughout the fall and winter seasons and highly recommend that you all do the same, as well!

 

Ingredients:

 

 

* 1 15-ounce can (1 3/4 cups) pumpkin puree

* 1/2 cup  neutral cooking oil or melted butter

* 3 large eggs

* 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar

* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

* 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt

* 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* Heaped 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

* Heaped 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

* Two pinches of ground cloves

* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

 

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Asian Cucumber Salad

Crunchy, refreshing, tasty, light, and nutty. So good, so good. The salad is great on its own, or combined with other Asian flavors. The creator of this salad, my-sister-from-another-mister, likes to add this with her miso salmon, rice, and scallions. I love it alone or with anything. And even better — it takes only a couple of minutes to make!

 

Mini cucumbers are delicious plain, but even better with this sesame asian dressing.

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Must Listen to Podcasts

Every Wednesday, I drive several hours to visit my sister-from-another-mister for the day. Despite my distaste in driving, I absolutely love and cherish our time together and wouldn’t miss this time in the world. Therefore, I have begun to embrace the time spent in the car. During these hours in the car, I have renewed my love of podcasts and cry / laugh / feel while listening to them. Here are my recent podcasts I have listened to and have *thoroughly* enjoyed. It is never too late to listen to them, they are all so good.

 

Truly family. I feel so fortunate that our family members are all bonded and glued together and the love is deep. There have been moments when all four of us are on separate calls with each of them — all at the same time. So my weekly drives to visit are essential, a no brainer, and worth every second.

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Central Park Music

One of the ways that my husband, Ken, has dealt with the restrictions of life due to COVID, has been playing music outside in Central Park. Once a month over the summer, Ken would organize to gather in Central Park with 1 or 2 musician friends (one being my best friend from childhood, David) and jam out together. He would text a couple of friends that he was going and if they wanted to swing by and bring their own wine and food, or just to drop by.  As I was out in Oregon during these “performances,” I never had the privilege of attending the concerts, but it was clear how much happiness, joy, and life it gave Ken. He lived for these evenings as it renewed a sense of hope in him — cheesy as it sounds, it gave him life. The small interactions with strangers, outside (and safe) encounters with friends, and the music itself, made a huge difference to him. So last week, he put together a last minute park gathering and I finally was able to attend.

 

Ken has “a spot.” It is where he always gathers to play music. It is near Sheep’s Meadow and The Mall. Not too far away from our home, but still a delightful walk nonetheless.

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Currently Loving September 2020

It sure feels like Fall in New York! Chilly, brisk, windy — aka no longer summer. I always think of the “You’ve Got Mail” quote “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” There is something fairy-tale like about NYC in the fall…so here is what I am currently loving September 2020.

 

1. RBG

 

Super Diva — YES!

 

Doesn’t your heart hurt with the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing this past Friday night? What a legend, a role model, an inspiration, truly a super hero. I can’t stop reading all her quotes and feel sickened and sad by America’s loss. If you haven’t watched the documentary, RBG, available on Hulu, now is the time to do.

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Stevie Nicks Natori

Last Thursday, we welcomed the newest member of the Natori Family, Stevie Nicks Natori. Our little 11 week old Cavapoochon pup is so cute and a warm, cuddly, wonderful fun addition to the family. She is also SO MUCH FLIPPING WORK AND OMG I AM SO SICK OF RIDING UP AND DOWN THE ELEVATOR but I know, I know, it will all be worth it. Here are some pictures of her — because puppy pictures make everyone smile, right????

 

First night with Stevie. And Ken pre haircut.

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Blossr Flowers

Sadly, one of my favorite flower companies in New York City is no longer in business. The Groh, which was hands down, my favorite flower place that delivered fresh flowers to my apartment every Monday, has shut down, a victim of the effects of COVID on the economy. I know it sounds silly — but The Groh was phenomenal. Everything about it — it was set up to be a middle man, so instead of me trekking down to the flower district, The Groh would go, and then bundle them up and deliver them to my house. It was waaaaaaay cheaper than a typical florist, and waaaaaay easier than me doing the leg work (yes, spoiled). I loved it so much and miss it already. So after hours searching for some kind of replacement for my Monday joy, I came across Blossr. It is a minimalist flower delivery service that sends flowers on (and only on) Friday. There are not many options, but man, are they gorgeous. I love them so much and I can’t wait to use them again.

 

Pink Anthuriums. Don’t they look fake???? So gorgeous and unusual.

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Needlepoint Bookmarks

This summer, I have spent hours needle pointing — even though I have a love hate relationship with it. It is meditative, creative, and gets my mind off of everything (COVID, NYC, school this fall, being away from friends, etc…) — but it is also incredibly frustrating as it takes FOREVER. That said, after I finished three projects, I didn’t know what to do with them. Do you frame them and hang them up? Make a boring pillow? Just felt incomplete and missing the final touch. SO I MADE THEM INTO BOOKMARKS. They went from boring to full on FUN PIZAZZ LIFE OF THE PARTY BOOKMARKS. They took forever to sew the edges, put on a backing, whip stitch it all together — and they don’t look perfect — but I really love them! They are truly a labor of love!

The three final products. The next project is in the mail arriving tomorrow — Veuve Cliquot Champagne! Can’t wait to start that and make yet another bookmark!

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Currently Loving August 2020

Sometimes I think it is May, sometimes I think it is August 2021. Basically, I have no idea what day or month we are currently in. So here is what I am currently loving RIGHT NOW. Apparently it is August 2020.

 

1. LoveShackFancy x Bandier Bike Shorts

 

I am jumping on the bike short trend…fell in love with these super girlie floral workout shorts. I personally love them. My kids on the other hand keep telling me that my behind looks big and why I am wearing them……gotta love their honesty…..and I still love them.

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Running Signs

I spend a lot of time in Oregon on designated runner’s trails, which have lots of signs (other than keep 6 feet away and maintain social distancing) that are little inspirational quotes. Throughout my summers in Oregon, I always smile and laugh when I see them. To some they are just words, but to me, they are motivation and inspiration. No matter how silly or short they are, just knowing someone out there is cheering us on, makes all the difference.

 

I love this quote. It definitely brought an extra bounce to my run that day I read it for the first time.

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Pip and Roo Needlework

My COVID hobby of needlepoint is back in to my life again, thanks to the coolest and hippest needlepoint company, Pip and Roo. After my first two designs, I started googling “hip needlepoint” and sure enough after many duds, I found Pip and Roo. Unfortunately, as everyone and their mother started needlepointing during COVID (along with baking banana bread and bike riding), it was impossible to find one of their designs as they were sold out everywhere. Thanks to a notification, I finally was informed when they were back in stock so I jumped on it. I made the Rose (Whispering Angel, but of course) over the past three days and I just ordered the Aperol Spritz and I can’t wait to start on that. They are funny, cheeky, cute, and well designed. So many other companies make cheesy and flat out lame and uninspiring drawings….so if you are on the lookout for cool and hip needlepointing, take a look at Pip and Roo!

 

Night one. I love it — and hate it at the same time — I can’t put it down which is good and bad.

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The Last Great American Dynasty

My newest obsession, thanks to my sister-from-another-mister, is “The Last Great American Dynasty” song in Taylor Swift’s newest album, Folklore. It is a song that no matter how many times I listen to it (I am annoying and have listened to it on repeat since I first heard it — in attempt to learn every lyric), I still get goose bumps. GOOSE BUMPS!!! Yup. It is an incredibly gorgeous song with an even richer story behind the words. Taylor Swift created this soothing, sappy, happy, and beautiful song during Quarantine (the whole album!) based on her home in Rhode Island. It is the story of the previous owner, Rebekah Harkness, the heiress with a wild life story who owned Taylor Swift’s home, who lived a big grand life and was unapologetic. She sees herself in Rebekah and sings about it.

 

Taylor singing away….

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Mural

My parent’s house in Oregon has an alley on one side of the house (a great big cement wall) which is an eye sore — especially when there are no plants that hang down on it. So this summer, my dad asked if my niece, Alagna, who is a very talented artist (at the ripe age of 12) could draw a mural on the wall. Since YOLO and I thought it would be a fun project to do with all the cousins, I decided to help with it. It has been SO fun and a lot of work. And god bless my parents who had faith in us to create something fun and pretty!

 

The night before we started, we went to Home Depot to get the paint and primer. It took WAY longer than expected because someone actually mixes and makes the colors? WHO KNEW?????

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