Monday, January 31, 2011

Becoming a Life Stylist

Something's missing... again (Photo Credit: NYT)

In 2006 I was introduced to Ladies Who Launch, an organization for entrepreneurs. I am an entrepreneur at heart which goes back to when I had lemonade stands as a child as well as my own handmade t-shirt company (Q-Tees!). I've written before about my dissonance with corporate America and for me, being my own boss is what I know works best for me.

Ladies Who Launch was instrumental in helping me determine what type of business I wanted to launch. I felt that I was good at a myriad of (Type A) things such as cooking, bargain hunting, mentoring, crafting, offering career guidance, trip planning and budgeting that I couldn't quite fit it into one category. Over my life people have always come to me for random information (remember I'm the child who used to spend hours repeatedly reading The Big Book of Tell Me Why) and have always been amazed that I knew answers and if I didn't I could try to find someone or somewhere they could find it. I am the friend you need when you need to phone a friend! Someone had even suggested becoming a life coach, but I didn't like the connotation and honestly it sounded a bit hokey.

Instead after reading this NYT article about up and coming life gurus in NYC I knew that it was the direction I was headed, but instead of being a life coach I really wanted to be a life stylist (I don't like the word guru either). As a life stylist I envisioned being able to help young women create the lives they want to lead whether it be learning domestic skills, tweaking their resumes or finding the best way to get involved in their local communities.

I've held a Quarter Life Crisis Cocktail before as a Wellesley College young alumnae event, and it was a lot of fun and good therapy too! I'd like to re-implement these as I know so many young women in their 20s-30s who are still trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up.

I've put a call out on my blog before to do something similar and didn't get nary a response so instead I'll be e-mailing those of you I know locally who I think would be ideal for this posse of sorts. And yes, it will involve food!

I don't claim to have all the answers, but one thing I noticed when reading the NYT article was a lack of color - and I don't mean in clothing choice! Diversity is so important to me and people always exclaim when I have get togethers that they can't believe how diverse of a group my friends are. People said this at my wedding too. I really don't want to just be with people who are exactly like me. How boring is that?

I also noticed that some of the "gurus" were a bit too new-agey/faux-spiritual for me, and I find that uber annoying. I prefer authenticity, transparency and straightforwardness. 

Anyway, if you're local please be on the lookout for an e-mail from me (I'm trying to plan this during a thaw of all this stupid snow we keep getting). And if you're feeling proactive and want to be sure to be included on the invite list go ahead and send me an e-mail. 

{I'm hoping this will pull some of you local lurkers out the woodwork too, I know you're reading!}

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Setting a Table and David the Gnome

It's been established time and time again that I'm very Type A, well when I came across this handy diagram for place settings I honestly got all tingly inside! My parents sent me to etiquette classes when I was younger, yet I still admit I can get flustered by all silverware, glasses and plates at formal dinners. I plan on teaching Nia how to properly set a table, and I'll hold onto this handy tool:

Photo Credit: pauladeen.com
Funny enough, it came from Paula Deen's website (the key is on her site), and I honestly don't think of her as a formal dining kind of person. I mean, she usually just eats out the pot on her show and goes around making sinful things like fried macaroni and cheese bites wrapped in bacon!

This place setting tool also reminded me of a book me and my friends used to read in high school in our library which had etiquette for everything. I don't know who in my circle of friends came across this book, but we used to read it when we were bored during study hall and laugh at the "rules" such as eating asparagus with your fingers. Who knew? This was the same group of friends who came across the book Gnomes in our library, and we spent a semester obsessed with it!

Photo Credit: Amazon.com
Yes, I am weird I know, but tell me you didn't love David the Gnome???


Friday, January 28, 2011

Field Trip: Please Touch Musuem

I was at the gym doing cardio and was watching Kendra on E! while I worked out. I don't know why I like her, but I do and I especially think her baby, Hank, is too cute!

Photo Credit: robotceleb.com
Anyway, during this particular episode the family visited the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. I've only been to Philly a couple times and have never heard of the museum but it looked like a fun place to go. I think Hank Sr. and Kendra actually had more fun there than little Hank! Here's their visit:


I'm already planning a trip there this fall after Nia turns 1. She already likes to touch everything and is interested in so many textures. I walk her around the apartment and take her up to different things like the lampshade, wooden bowls, fruit and vegetables, kitchen utensils etc. and I say, "Touch it!" I guide her hand to touch and now she can reach out on command. It's so cute! She looks with eyes of wonder at the things she touches and smiles. Her favorite thing is the living room lampshade; she's been staring at it since she was a newborn.

Have any of you been to the Please Touch Museum? What has your experience been? 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winner of Holstee's Recycled Wallet!

 
Congratulations Marie! You're the winner of my first giveaway - Holstee's Recycled Wallet. Please e-mail me at harlemlovebirds@gmail.com with your address within the next 48 hrs, and I'll drop it in the mail.

Thank you to everyone who entered and be on the lookout for my next giveaway!

So a baby crawls into a fancy restaurant . . .

We rarely eat out but I SO want this:



Isn't the video too cute? I love Phil & Teds!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cloth Wipes Review: Babykicks vs. Bummas

I know I'm behind in posting my cloth diaper update, but while I'm working on that I thought I'd share a quick review of cloth wipes. We were gifted so many disposable wipes that we used those, as well as gifted disposable diapers, before moving on to cloth. I had put Babykicks cloth wipes on Nia's registry because I had reviewed all the wipes and these seemed to come out on top (4 1/2 out of 5 stars based on 52 reviews).

Photo Credit: Amazon.com
Photo Credit: Amazon.com
They come in a pack of ten and honestly just seemed like washcloths to me, and I used them as such until we ran out of wipes. Nia has occasional massive #2s, and I figured I'd need more than ten wipes so I started looking at other options around the time our disposables were running out. Well over at Marlie and Me, a blog I follow, Teresha was sponsoring a giveaway of Bummas cloth wipes (also a pack of 10) and lo and behold I ended up winning! 

Photo Credit: Bummas.com
For me the main difference between the wipes is texture and size. I prefer Babykicks' oval shape as it fits in my hand better, but Bummas have a much better texture for handling #2s. Both wipes have a smooth side and a rough side, but I just stick with Babykicks for #1 and Bummas for #2s. Having both sets of wipes is the perfect amount for the twelve cloth diapers we have. We still think we need to buy 2-4 more cloth diapers to get us through the in-between times when Nia's made a sudden #2 or we have the diapers in the wash/dryer and they're not quite done yet.

Also from a cost perspective Babykicks are slightly more expensive than Bummas at $14.50 vs. $12, respectively, but if you consider the cost of buying disposable wipes either is a more economical choice. Both hold up really well in the wash and I plan on using them with the next baby (which won't happen for a VERY long time!).

So there you have it, my cloth wipes review =)

Oh! I forgot to mention solution! We didn't buy a special solution, but for now we just use water mixed with a few drops of Dr. Bronner's castille soap (my sister gave me some for Christmas). There are lots of homemade wipes solutions here, but we put our wipes solution in a spray bottle and keep it with the wipes on Nia's changing table. When we go out in public we just spray our wipes and put them in the plastic wipes holder. Soiled items get rolled up together in the wet bag when we're out or in the hanging wet diaper bag when we're at home then dumped in the wash. It's so easy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

So what do I do all day?


Mr. Love Bird likes to ask the title question which I think is quite interesting as he was home with me and Nia for the first 3 1/2 months of her life, but in case anyone else is wondering too I wanted to break it down and share a couple articles (and my commentary!) on the issue:

If you've read my monthly baby updates about Nia's schedule, you'll know it's not completely solidified yet. I have a general sense of when she wakes for the day and naps, but because I feed her on demand things are quite loose with us. I have no problems with this as it is but 1 year of her life and in the grand scheme of things it's a little sliver in time. Additionally, I really love the bonding that breastfeeding provides. Now that she's getting older she'll stop feeding to look up at me and smile, coo and even uses her fat little hand to grab my face and lovingly pat my cheek although sometimes she goes in for my glasses to rip them from my face!

Anyway, most of my day is spent interacting with Nia. I play with her, read to her, dance with her, wear her while I clean up and I talk to her constantly. I do give her some alone time to play in her crib and on her playmat too. During those times is when I eat blog, job search or do cleaning jobs I can't do while I wear her. Very rarely will I turn on the TV; when I do it's during her afternoon feeding and it's to watch the Food Network, which we somehow get for free. In the afternoon Giada and Ina are a nice break!

During the day we occasionally get visitors too and sometimes I take Nia out and about in the city. I meet friends for coffee and lunch and Nia loves to come along, but for the most part we're home all day.

Our day starts at 6, when Mr. Love Bird gets up. Sometimes Nia will wake when she hears him get up. We haven't regularly put her in her crib overnight and if we do she usually wants a feeding around 4 or 5 a.m. so I bring her into bed with me. If Nia doesn't get up at 6 then by 8 or 9 she's up and I get up with her. We play until about 10 when she goes down for her first nap but sometimes, like today, she skips it and doesn't go down until sometime between 12-1p.m. She eats off and on during the day too. By 2p.m. she'll nap again if she's napped at 10a.m. if not she'll want to nap at 5p.m. which doesn't help bedtime. If she naps 2x we can get her in bed by 9, but if she naps 1x we can get her in bed by 11. We're working to change this and I know sleeping through the night in her own crib is key.

Anyway, so that's how our day goes. She's awake most of the day and we're constantly interacting.

The Washington Post had a great article which answered a reader's same question about what do SAHM's do all day. You can find the full article here, but here's an excerpt:

I've done Internet searches, I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners . . . I do all those things, too, and I don't do them EVERY DAY. I guess what I'm asking is: What is a typical day and why don't moms have time for a call or e-mail? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events) and I manage to get it all done.

{ha, ha! this is quite funny! now take a look at the response . . .}

Since it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.

It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It's resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense.


LOVE IT!

Now granted I don't have more than one child, and I admit it's not rocket science, but being with Nia all day is time consuming. Babies are needy, what more is there to expect? What's troubling about the reader's question is that it reeks of mompetition. SAHM vs. WOHM. Can't. Stand. It. Both jobs are challenging but there's no need to compare. We all make our own choices then it's up to us individually to deal with the consequences regardless of how hard they might be.

Which brings me to this . . .

The male take on what SAHM's do all day. Men's Health compiled a list of Intolerable Behavior for Women. Some of the items on the list made me laugh like, "It's just a spider, for Pete's sake. Step on it," but this one didn't:

"Forget the notion that raising kids is harder than maintaining gainful employment. More important? Yes. But harder? No."

Oh boy! I shared the list with Mr. Love Bird, and he pointed that out to me and said, "Yes!" I didn't want to end the night in a bloodbath so I left it alone, but it's my belief that both are important and hard jobs in their own way. I also think it becomes harder the more kids you have, but it also depends on how much support you have. Maybe moms wouldn't think their jobs were harder if dads offered more support. {I'm not talking about my own husband here, just the general dad population!}

Until a genetically born male gives birth it's my belief that there will always be a divide between men and women in understanding the challenges of motherhood. As fellow blogger Teresha at Marlie and Me wrote, "Did you know that men start the day wondering what things they can avoid doing while women start the day wondering what things they can accomplish?" I agree wholeheartedly. I start each day with so many aspirations that have to be carried over to the next day, and if I can't accomplish them I don't get too down about it. There's only so much I can do.

As I've said before I really don't like labels, but for now I'm happy to be a SAHM, but I hope to be a WAHM, which I believe will happen this year.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Truth

A few months ago this video was making rounds on the Internet:

 

I love motivational speeches and this one has been so memorable to me over the past few months especially as a new mom. When Sean speaks about forgoing sleep in exchange for success I can say a hearty, "Amen!" I'm only 5 months into this mom thing but have never been one to complain about being sleep deprived. I was well aware that going into motherhood that I would have to forgo sleep and actually it hasn't been that bad. I've just learned to survive on less sleep. Don't get me wrong, I love to sleep in, but I always feel like I could be doing other things besides sleeping. I mean, am I going to get to the end of my life and think, "Man! I wish I had slept more!" I feel this way about TV too, which makes me even more happy that we got rid of cable. Uka and I were just talking about that the other night, how we are so much more productive now that we don't have TV. As the Holstee manifesto says, "If you don't have enough time, stop watching TV."

We really feel that by streamlining our lives and focusing on what's important we're on the road to success.

A similar point was brought up in church a couple weeks ago when our pastor mentioned that people love to say how busy they are yet they can recite the plotlines of their favorite TV shows in detail. That really made me laugh cause I can think of a few people in my life who fit this description!

Yes, perhaps some people are made to lead sedentary lives, sitting in front of the idiot box hours on end or leading lives of drudgery in the rat race without making investments into their local communities, but Uka and I feel called to something greater, and we know that together we can get there.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

DIY: Helping Tower

I reference Young House Love throughout my blog, and I came across a DIY woodworking blog there which is oh so hip and fabulous called Ana White. She gives easy-to-follow, non-intimidating instructions for her projects. 

Anyway, I saw this helping tower and wanna try making it for Nia:

Photo Credit: ana-white.com
Isn't it cute? I've never made furniture before so I figure if I get started now I might be able to finish by the time she's 2!

You can find the instructions here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Favorite NYC Brunch Spot

Photo Credit: Clinton Street Baking Company
I can't recall how I found out about Clinton Street Baking Company, but I've been going there for years; I think even before I moved to NYC. They have the most glorious banana pancakes with maple butter syrup, and I often joke that they put crack in the batter! Anyone who visits me in NYC ususally gets a trip to Clinton Street, but I always warn my guests in advance: there's usually a 2-hour wait even when the doors first open. Yes, it's true! I convince my guests that it's totally worth it, and so far everyone has agreed.

Me and my family at Clinton Street Baking Company
What's most exciting is that their pancake month is coming up starting February 1 and boy, do they have some delicious pancakes scheduled! Don't these sound delish?:
Photo Credit: Clinton Street Baking Company
If I'm able to make it this year to Pancake Month I'll be sure to report back with pictures! I was treated to Clinton Street a couple weeks ago by a good friend and I totally overindulged: I had pulled pork, scrambled eggs with pepper jack cheese, hash browns and a biscuit. But wait, there's more! We topped off our brunch with a huge slice of raspberry chocolate cake. It was so moist and delicious. I brought the leftovers home for Uka, and he devoured it before I could even get my coat off! Seriously, it's that good.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I'm not a Robert Pattinson fan, but . . .

I really want to see this movie:

 


I honestly don't get the obsession with Mr. Pattinson; he's a bit too anemic looking for my taste, but to each her own! I've been known to post this to my Facebook profile:

Photo Credit:  postsecret.com

Anyway, enough hating on Mr. Pattinson . . .

Anyone read the book Water For Elephants? I put it to my library hold list so hope to read it before the movie comes out. I have a general interest in the circus despite the fact that I've  never been to a traditional one (only a couple Cirque du Soleil shows). I watched PBS' Circus that was out a few months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. You can watch full episodes here.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Neighbor Awesomeness

One of my favorite Harlem blogs is Harlem Bespoke. It's the most accurate, up-to-date account of daily life in Harlem and it respects the history of Harlem as well by paying homage to how things used to be.

While browsing Harlem Bespoke I came across a link to this article in the New York Times about a brownstone that recently sold not far from where we live. The story of the couple was quite fascinating: the wife, who was a 30-year old teacher in Harlem, had met her husband, a 34-year old who works in sales, through someone she met at her part-time job at Restoration Hardware. While working there she complimented a customer's French and remarked how she wanted to practice French, and he set her up with his friend (her future husband).

Photo Credit: NYT
Here are a couple pictures of their $1.1 million brownstone:

The corner brownstone is theirs; photo credit: NYT
Photo Credit: NYT via http://emiliejohnson.blogspot.com/2010/11/house.html

Now to explain why I titled the post "Neighbor Awesomeness:" they live in our neighborhood, hence "neighbor," but the "awesomeness" comes from after I ventured to the owner Emilie's blog and found the following:

 

Tell me that wasn't awesome! It makes me want to go back and get married all over again just so I can do something similar. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ode to My Dishwasher

Photo Credit: sourceanddesign.com
Before moving to NYC it was my understanding that it was nearly impossible to have a dishwasher in your apartment. Besides the minor convenience of having a dishwasher, I had imagined life in NYC as me and 3 other women living in a 500 sq ft studio in a 5th floor walk-up each paying $1,000/month {a bit of an exaggeration, I know but this is what I thought!}

As we've already established, I'm quite Type A and I had developed a list of must haves and wants for my NYC apartment and to my surprise I was able to get every must and want on my list when I first moved here and it was within my budget. I'm proud to say I did it on my own, didn't have a guarantor or mommy and daddy to pay for my apartment. It was my responsibility!

My first apartment had  . . .

a view of midtown, Empire State Building and all:



a doorman

an elevator

a washer and dryer (in my unit!)

a balcony

a walk-in closet

bamboo floors

a dishwasher (in addition to a full stainless steel appliances package)

I felt so blessed to have this apartment, but it set the bar very high for my next apartment. My landlord in that apartment broke my lease because her husband needed to live in the unit while she went abroad for work. As a result I moved to what, for me, was the ends of the earth in Rego Park, Queens. That apartment was a brief period I'd rather forget due to an ugly pest infestation the building had although the individual unit was ok.

Fast forward to now . . .

Mr. Love Bird was able to find a wonderful apartment for us to move into after we got married at the same price I was paying in 2007 but it has 300 more square feet, a Viking appliances package and an amazing bathroom. {You can see our apartment tour here.}

I LOVE to cook so having the Viking appliances have been the biggest bonus of our current apartment. They are quite high-tech and I read the manuals that came along with them to make sure I was using them properly. The dishwasher is perhaps my favorite, because it cleans so powerfully yet is very quiet. It has so many settings from stemware, pots and pans to a normal, light wash and power setting.

I have to admit that I am quite OCD about loading the dishwasher. However, I've discovered that I'm not alone in this. Growing up my parents didn't have a dishwasher for most of my childhood but we got one by the time I was in middle school. The sad thing is we didn't really use it despite me trying to explain to my parents that it's more efficient to run the dishwasher than to wash dishes by hand. Although we did use it occasionally, the preferred method was to wash by hand and leave in the dishwasher to dry, which really didn't work too well because of the lack of air circulating. Anyway, I digress . . .

I was tickled by the dishwasher loading competition scene in Rachel Getting Married. In it the family crowds around the dishwasher while it is loaded in record time. That scene made me think of all the quirky things that go on in families behind closed doors and I'm definitely quirky!

I was reading an Apartment Therapy article about household chore quirks and was reminded of this because of the trouble my family has loading my dishwasher whenever they visit. I never leave clean dishes in the dishwasher and it irks me becuase I've explained this several times before that I put them away when they're clean. Also, it's quite obvious to tell if they're dirty or not just by looking at them. Additionally, they have trouble placing items in the dishwasher in an organized manner when it's simple enough to follow the pattern of dishes that's already been established. Anyway, in this article, many of the commenters expressed how they'd rather shoo guests out of the kitchen and decline help because they prefer to do things their way. I very much agree! This comment especially struck a chord with me:

"I don't have a dishwasher, but I've never understood why I've never witnessed a single person, other than me (when I'm visiting houses with dishwashers), who loads from the back to the front - especially the top rack. Why would you load front to back? You have to reach over all the things in the front as it fills up and you can't tell at a glance how much room is left. Or is there some larger dishwasher knowledge I'm just not privy to?"
 
YES, I don't understand this either as well as people who don't get that silverware get cleaned best in the dishwasher when placed handle down in the basket (except for knives).

I'm also a fan of Real Simple and I came across a helpful slideshow that explains what can and can't go into the dishwasher. Whenever I see someone put wood into the dishwasher I get so agitated! That will warp it!

Anyway, I know this seems like a silly obsession, but does anyone else share this passion or have a household chores quirk? Please share!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Another Random Childhood Memory

Photo Credit: molls.tumblr.com
Please, please, please tell me I'm not the only person who remembers this book! I've posted before about my childhood obsession with Reading Rainbow, and this book was featured on the show.

I'm not sure why this book suddenly popped into my head (remember, I'm random!), but it took me a while to figure out what the title was. All I could remember was that it was a teacher who had a dual identity. Thinking back to this I was actually kinda freaked out by that concept as a child. The fact that my teacher could become a completely different person made me skeptical of substitute teachers as though she was pulling a Miss Nelson on our class.

Does anyone else remember this book?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Life With Nia: Five Months Old

Nia wearing her "boy clothes"
Again I'm late this month posting Nia's update. My mom was in town last Thursday-yesterday, and we had a court case to deal with so we were quite busy (a separate post on that is forthcoming).

Anyway, on to the update:

  • Baby's Weight: Nia's next appointment isn't until she's six months, but at her last appointment on December 8 she was 15 lbs and 3 oz. I'm thinking she's 16 lbs now.
  • Baby's Height: She was 25" at her last appointment so maybe she's closer to 26" now 
  • What size of clothing does baby wear? 6-9 months is starting to get tight length-wise but width-wise she still has room
  • Any milestones baby reached during the month:  
      • Two teeth are on the bottom row and the two buds of the top row are about to poke through
      • She can roll over on demand; here's a video of that:
video

      • She fully notices her feet and grabs them but hasn't tried putting them in her mouth yet
      • She sleeps in her crib for naps and sometimes overnight; she tried to eat the monkeys on her bedsheet the first time we put her in the crib!
Nia's first time in her crib
      • We've left her twice already at our church's nursery; her number didn't come up on the screen so I guess that's a good sign!
      • She can drink from her cup; I guess we completely skipped the whole bottle thing!
    • Special outings baby had during the month: We went to DC for Christmas; it was her first time long distance on a bus
    • What are your thoughts about the past month? I love Nia and have had so much fun watching all her new developments this month. Her sense of humor is starting to come through and she's an extremely happy baby. Nia's laugh warms my heart!
    • What was baby's routine? Nia is very good about sleeping through the night. We've been trying our best to get her in bed by 9p.m. She gets sleepy around 5p.m. and we have to fight to keep her awake so she'll go down by 9. Sleeping in her crib has lessened how much she eats overnight. I think by sleeping in her co-sleeper she could smell my milk  and would wake up more frequently. If we can get her in bed by 9p.m. she'll wake up around 4a.m. for a feeding then sleep til 6a.m. Her first nap will be around 10a.m. then another around 2p.m. She doesn't eat as frequently anymore and when she does she gets very distracted especially if Uka enters the room and says something or she sees him.
    • Reflect about the highlights of the month: I get so sad thinking about how fast she's changing but I know I'll enjoy the next stage she enters just as much; I can't wait to introduce solids in a month
    • Did any big changes occur, such as baby started daycare, stopped nursing, slept through the night, etc... As mentioned above sleeping in her crib and being left at the church nursery are the big changes
    • What are baby's favorites - toy, food, person, etc... She still likes Cookie Kisses and is getting better about not devouring the book when we try to read it to her

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Love This Commercial!

    I've been seeing this commercial lately, and it makes me smile every time! You'll notice the baby makes the Fudgey Face too ;-)



    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Giveaway Alert: Living Out the Holstee Manifesto


    Last fall I came across Holstee via their manifesto which was posted on another blog I follow. Take a look at the manifesto and you'll understand why it struck a chord with me:


    When I first read this my initial reaction was to share it with as many people as possible and exclaim, "THIS is exactly what I've been trying to express all these years!" The feeling of having my soul crushed in a corporate environment, the feeling of not living my passion, the feeling that I wasn't fulfilling my destiny . . Holstee's manifesto addressed the dissonance I felt in my own life.

    I've posted before about the quarter life crisis and why many of us end up in miserable jobs, so when I heard about Holstee I immediately wanted to find out more. Who were these people that created a manifesto that resonated so strongly with me?

    Holstee is a socially conscious company started by Mike, Dave and Fabian which curates products from around the globe which fulfill the manifesto they created. I love this concept! First, create a manifesto, then develop a business that fits it. I had to find out more so I reached out to them and was able to get my questions answered by Mike: 

    I am a big fan of Holstee's manifesto. In fact I saw the manifesto first on another blog and that's what attracted me to your company. How long did it take to create the manifesto and do you think it may evolve someday?   We sat down to write the Holstee Manifesto the same week we quit our jobs to start this new lifestyle and company.  It was a huge change for us and Dave suggested that we write all the things that are important to us in one spot. That same day we drafted the manifesto and sent it out to close family and friends.  When we got the feedback from everyone, we realized we we're the only ones and that we might be on to something.

    What has been the best aspect of being an entrepreneur? What has been the biggest challenge?  The best aspect of being an entrepreneur for me has been the chance to focus my full energy on all the things I love and value.  The biggest challenge?  Dave and I love ideas and prototyping new designs and in a small company like ours when we have an idea, we have the liberty to make them happen.  The challenge comes with prioritizing and giving them the appropriate focus and attention. 

    What advice would you give a Gen-Yer who's fed up with their corporate job, but doesn't quite know what they want to do when they "grow up?"  I feel like this sense of being fed up with a corporate job is a national epidemic- in the best way possible.  One of the neat outcomes of this has been the proliferation of new companies that are being created by these exact same people.  A great example of this is Etsy, a great company we recently got to visit.

    Knowing what you know now after working in corporate America then becoming an entrepreneur, what, if anything, would you have done differently coming right out of college?  Let's go back even a little further.  The degree you get in college has much less to with what you can actually do, than most people think.  Wish I understood when I was in school.  It's so important that people study what they are interested in or passionate about, and not what they think will get them employed.  If its an option, after college is a great time to go travel.  I know this is a financially tough time for many, but there are so many programs that can help subsidize living abroad, especially at that age, you might need to be a bit creative, but they are out there.

    The Holstee Wallet has been such a hit. Were you surprised that this particular item has taken off? Why do you think this particular product has resonated with so many people?  We were really excited with how well the wallet was received.  It was something that both Dave and I were looking for but couldn't find anywhere, so we decided to create our ideal wallet . . . We had a feeling that this would be picked up [by a] larger group of people.

    What is your favorite Holstee product?  I love the wallet.

    Here's where we get to the fun part . . . one of my readers is going to win a Recycled Wallet of their own! Holstee has generously provided this prize as the first giveaway on my blog! I'm so happy that my first giveaway aligns with such an awesome company that is inspiring people worldwide to live their passions and fulfill their destinies.

    Here's more info on the Recycled Wallet:

    The Recycled Wallet
    + Minimalist Design perfect space for the essentials: credit cards, cash, and sliding window for your ID or transit card.

    + Made from recycled plastic bags and newspapers collected from the streets of Delhi.

    + Production supports the impoverished; Holstee partnered with a non-profit in India determined to help those often referred to as 'rag pickers' by providing fair wage employment, education and healthcare for employees and their families.

    + Each is one-of-a-kind in its pattern and style. From colored ads, cartoons, headline news, and classifieds no two wallets are the same.

    Here's how to enter: 

    Prize: One winner will receive Holstee's Recycled Wallet as pictured above
    To enter: You must be a follower of Harlem Love Birds on Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs to enter; comment below letting me know you're a follower as well as how you will live out the Holstee manifesto in 2011
    Bonus entries: 
    1) Like Holstee on Facebook then comment below letting me know that you've done so
    2) Follow Holstee on Twitter then comment below with your screename letting me know that you've done so
    3) Retweet this blog post letting me know you've done so with your screename below
    Giveaway closes: Wednesday, January 26 at 11:59p.m. EST
    Prize ships: U.S.
    Fine print: The winner will be selected via random.org and announced as a separate post on the morning of Thursday, January 27 so check back to see if you've won. You'll have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be selected.

    Good luck!



    P.S. Taking the Holstee manifesto even further, Monday I completed my tenth and final Toastmaster speech for the Competent Communicator level. My speech, inspired by Holstee, was "What's Your Manifesto?" I shared Holstee's manifesto with the club and challenged them to replace their New Year's resolutions with a manifesto of their own. Of course I brought my camera to record my speech but forgot to set it up! I'll look for another opportunity to give my speech then post it later.

    P.P.S. Nia is 5 months old today! I'll follow-up with a "Nia update" tomorrow.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Neediest Cases: A NYC Story

    I frequently read NYT's Neediest Cases feature which profiles individuals who are trying to overcome challenges in NYC. I found this particular story to be very touching. It profiles Diana who left a religious sect to become a chef. You can watch her story below:


    You can donate to Neediest Cases here.

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Fun Websites: Perpetual Kid and Uncommon Goods

    I have thousands of bookmarks meticulously filed away in several folders and wanted to share a couple of fun sites I like to browse:

    Perpetual Kid

    This site has childish items that function for all ages. Here are a few of my favorites:

    I think Nia would like this!

    These would make fun grocery totes

    As a child of the 80s these are so appealing

    The nerd in me loves this clock


    Uncommon Goods 

    This site specializes in mostly handmade, unique gifts. These are my favorites:

    This grandparents' journal would make a nice gift

    I could envision this on my windowsill

    LOVE!

    You can never have enough coasters and these are fun
    Know of any other fun sites? Please share!

    LinkWithin

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