What a joyful weekend! An absolute historical day that continues to bring me to tears and gives a sense of hope and renewal. Here are some of my favorite videos, memes, quotes from over the weekend.
Like all of you, I have been on pins and needles waiting for the election results….I have not been productive and not sure what I have done, but the days have FLOWN by….and so here we are at the end of the week. So it seems like a great time to have a fluffy post of songs I am currently loving, rather than a heavy and heartfelt post on how I feel the country is divided and my fears for the future….so here it is: Fall 2020 Running Playlist. Get outside and enjoy these tracks.
I have been a fan of Mah-Ze-Dhar bakery since I was introduced by a friend in 2013. A lot has changed since then, including a new brick-and-mortar store downtown in NYC and one in DC, as well as some new delicious baked good products. Recently, I received their newsletter and was intrigued by their chocolate chip cookie dough — you freeze this huge log of dough that is over 24 cookies, and then bake them as you need. I instantly bought it because I looooove chocolate chip cookies. I froze it for a rainy day (or in this case, a grey and slow Sunday) and then wam bam thank you ma’am, cut, baked, and voila! So easy, and so delicious!
We are now seven months in to the pandemic and life continues to be different and unsettled. I never expected the COVID-19 pandemic to still be the center of our lives, and yet….here we are. It is interesting to revisit the list I made on May 8 (almost 5 months ago) of things I miss, don’t miss, won’t miss and won’t forget. So many still ring true. Here is the original list, but updated for October 2020.
WHAT I MISS
My kids take a really amazing (virtual) cooking class after school one day a week, where they cook dinner for the family. Although I am heavily involved in every aspect of the class, we all enjoy it thoroughly. I learn SO much and love all the food we have made thus far. This past week, we made ramen AND a carrot ginger dressing to go over iceberg lettuce. I loved the carrot ginger dressing so much that I basically drank it like water…..and am already on the second batch!
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ambassadors — tell me about them!
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!
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!
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!
* 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
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!
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.
I know you all have probably read a bazillion reviews on hand sanitizer (because I have) but on the off chance you have NOT or don’t know about it, then this post is doing it’s job. DS & DURGA “Big Sur After Rain” Hand sanitizer is the best best best best and there is absolutely NO COMPETITION. It smells delicious, does the work, is a sleek bottle, and even makes you want to use more.
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.
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.
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.
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????
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.
Thanks to Instagram, I tend to find random and small lines of clothing that I fall madly in love with. The most recent discovery is a pair of shorts from Kas Maria. She has no website, no email, I just DM’d her saying I loved the shorts and voila, transaction. Kassandra (Kas Maria) sews her own designs and I love everything about them. These vibrant, colorful, ever so joyful bright floral shorts made me smile the minute I saw them on Instagram and I love them even more in person.
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!
As an activity, we went apple picking and brought home 18 pounds of apples — not very much in comparison to the 40 pounds of peaches from a couple weeks ago — but still enough that I knew I had to do something with them before they rotted. I know, seems backwards, buy to get rid of ??? Right, like as soon as I bought the apples, first thought was HOW AM I GOING TO GET RID OF THEM? The best trick is to make dried apples — so super duper easy — but it requires time — almost 12 hours in a low heat oven. A lot of time.
This past weekend, we finally completed the mural. Originally, we were only going to do the center part of the cement wall, but with the abundance of time and the fact that the cement wall is quite ugly, we thought it would be fun to complete the whole wall.
Late Spring, I went on a mad search for the perfect summer hat — I wanted something practical, comfortable, chic, and unique. It was way harder than expected as I didn’t just want a simple straw hat. I wanted something with a little more flair, personality, and character. So when I came across Teressa Foglia — I instantly fell head over heels. The first one has some embroidery details, straps, cowboy vibe. I loved it so much that when I was in LA, I made an effort to go to her Malibu store and fell in love with Teressa (holy cow, chic and beautiful as ever) and ALL OF HER HATS. I walked away creating another summer straw hat — with some leather, flower ribbons, and more of a hipster attitude. After weeks of wearing both hats daily, I purchased TWO MORE straw and basic hats that the kids and I have been using on all of our hikes, bikes, river, water adventures.
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.