Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Thanksgiving Countdown: Tip #8

November 19, 2017

Is your home ready for the holiday?

I am sure there are little chores that you’ve been neglecting that you will appreciate having done before your guests arrive. For example, we have extremely high ceilings in our dining room and kitchen. Twenty-three feet to be exact, making lightbulb changing a really big deal. My husband refuses to climb up there for one little dim bulb. By November, it’s starting to get dark in here. Enter, the annual pre-Thanksgiving lightbulb change. In preparation for the holiday, he drags out the super long ladder, climbs up there, and does the deed. If I’m lucky, he dusts the tops of the cabinets while he is up there. Likewise for organizing the cabinets, tightening the latches and dealing with other little projects that get ignored for the rest of the year. Before the weekend is over, deal with them. You will be so happy that you did.

FYI, that ladder is sitting on a pile of wooden crates. But it’s much brighter in here now!

 

photo: Glasshouse Images

 

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Verbal Venom

October 27, 2017

A few mornings ago, I scrolled through Facebook, glancing at articles, posts, and short videos. In a time of extreme political discourse, it is interesting to see what people have to say. It’s no secret which side of the table I sit at, but I read articles written from many points of view, whether I agree with them or not. I haven’t unfollowed people whose views are extremely different from mine, as I think it is important to burst the bubbles we often place ourselves in and understand what we’re up against with the rest of the world. And with clenched teeth, I explore the comments section on many of them.

While I fully expect to see some friction on political posts, it has become more than that. Somehow, it escalates quickly from a disagreement of views to an all-out assault on humanity. Name calling and the use of grammar and spelling more commensurate with a third-grade education is peppered with vulgarity. The threads stretch into the hundreds, if not thousands of comments, most being unworthy of notice. This morning, I happened to watch a short video about making Halloween treats from store-bought cookies and candies. I was absolutely gobsmacked to see the nastiness that such a whimsical and benign post brought about. Women attacking other women for having too much time on their hands and assuming that their homes were unkempt or their children uncared for because they took the time to cut an Oreo in half and attach it to a peanut butter cup to make a bat. Or someone stating that pretzel monsters and spider cupcakes are “un-Christian.” Don’t even get me started about the remarks related to the purchasing of “googly eyes.” Have we really reached such a low point that there isn’t a subject in existence that doesn’t set off a chain of verbal venom?

What has happened to us since the call to become a “kinder, gentler nation” so many years ago? I am truly scared to live in a world where our views on big issues are so disparate that we violently clash both in word and deed on a regular basis. There are times that it is unfathomable to me that people actually think the way that they do. I am even more afraid to live in a world where an Oreo cookie and a chocolate dipped pretzel stick can inspire this level of rage and rhetoric at 7:30 a.m. on Monday morning. Sheesh!

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A Good Place

October 9, 2017

Lately, I have been watching the first season of a sitcom called The Good Place. It features Kristin Bell as Eleanor, who died and was sent to the afterlife. In the afterlife, there is The Good Place and The Bad Place. Eleanor is sent to the former but is having trouble fitting in. After settling in, it comes to light that there is another person by the same name who died at the same time, and was inadvertently sent to The Bad Place. It goes without saying that Kristin’s Eleanor turned out to have not been a very nice person in her past. Long story short, her friends in The Good Place try to help her be a better person, and it is agreed that if she can up her “life points”, she can stay. She needs over 1.2 million points to stay, and she arrived deeply in the red. Of course, hilarity ensues. And of course, this got me thinking about how I would fare if this fictional place were real.

from The Good Place

In The Good Place, points were tallied for doing good deeds, and the size of those deeds is commensurate with a number of points given. For every transgression, points are deducted.

I think I am a decent person. I am honest, hardworking and empathetic to others. I am also snarky, impatient and quietly judgemental. Could the good outweigh the bad?
Are a few well-placed albeit “bad” words used for emphasis, rather than actual curse worth a trip to the Bad Place? How about a few snarky comments whispered to someone who gets my humor? Can those tiny little deficits be made up by equally tiny acts of holding doors, being super polite to restaurant workers and giving up my seat on the subway? I spend my days making cookies. Everyone loves cookies, right? Doesn’t that count for something?

Where do all the politicians go? Is there a special place for them in the afterlife? How about those whose religious beliefs make them so pious that they ultimately are intolerant of those who don’t share their views? Is being good subjective, with different standards for different groups, or would they call it like it is, deducting points for denying rights to those who are of a different race, religion or sexual orientation?

One cannot compare the act of saving lives, helping to broker world peace or curing a deadly disease to the type of acts of kindness most of us are capable of. Yet, if we all tried to be the best people we could be in this life, maybe Earth could be The Good Place.

Which place do you think you would go to, and why? Let us know in the comments. Also, season two is shaping up to be a little weird. Thoughts?

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When Did Politics Become A Religion?

August 10, 2017

 

Politics have become a religion. Wait a minute, hear me out on this one.

If religion is defined as a set of beliefs held with ardor and faith, than today’s political climate is definately religious.

Whether a Democrat or a Republican, people hold so tightly to their beliefs that any challenges to those ideals are completely shut down, often with a vengeance.

Those who defend our current president, will do so without limits. He himself once said that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” He appears to be right on that account. While currently only 33% of Americans approve of the job he is doing, those people will defend his every move, however outrageous, or treasonous it may be, as they devoutly believe that he is the savior of the American people.

Those who dislike the current administration will not budge on their conviction that he is going to ruin our country, and that everything he, or his advisors say is should be considered egregious.

The two factions hold on to their theories for dear life, not open to even considering that the other side could be correct. They believe what they believe, and like religion, it is not to be questioned or challenged.

The extensive array of news sources provide fuel for our fodder. Where the major networks and newspapers were once the only trusted sources, there are now tens of thousands of papers, websites and opinions out there to choose from. Suddenly, we pick and choose our facts, based on what we want them to be. Lies? “Alternative facts” are what we call them now.

I remember when we were first about to become parents, I concluded that if you read enough baby books, you would find one that agrees with the way you want to raise your child. Co-sleeping or sleep training; time outs or more time together; whatever feels right to you is correct, and you can find a so-called “expert” who wrote a book to tell you that it is the best thing to do for your child’s well-being.  Politics have become the same way.  Whatever you want to believe happened, there is a news organization which will tell you that it is what “really” happened. From the lips of our chief executive, to those of our “trusted” newscasters, we embrace and accredit the reports we choose to believe. You can almost always find a story that will take either point of view, right or wrong,  if you look hard enough. And if you can’t, just read the comments and there will be hundreds of rude attacks condeming the article and anyone who might agree with it, in an often not so eloquent manner. (Tip: You will be perceived as more intelligent if you don’t have spelling and grammatical errors in your rebuttal.)

Oh, and if you can’t find a way to defend someone, just trash their opponent. It’s a great distraction when you don’t have a leg to stand on, but aren’t willing to accept the reality of what is being said. You can even call them cute little names, like Libtard, and Snowflake.

Politics and current events are unfolding before our very eyes. We don’t need to rely on information from a book written thousands of years ago to guide us through it, yet many are not willing to let go of their beliefs, to react and respond to what is happening in realtime. Jews rarely become Christians, and neither group tend to become Muslim or Buddhist. It’s not how they were raised, and it doesn’t conform to their doctrine.

In decades past, politics were black and white. They were factual and explainable, whether or not you agreed with the decisions being made. Now, politics have become a chosen belief system that guides one’s morals and values on somewhat blind faith. Just like… religion.

photo: Glasshouse Images 

 

 

 

 

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Water Works

July 31, 2017

Our country is known for a having an abundant, free flowing water system that is deemed safe to drink. In light of the water crisis happening in Flint, Michigan, where the water has been unusable for several years, it isn’t unreasonable to wonder what contaminants might be lurking in your tap.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a database of contaminants in area water sources that can be searched by zipcode. Once the information is entered, it will show exactly what, if any toxins are in your water.

 

Bottled isn’talways better. We try to bypass drinking bottled water wherever possible, both to avoid the harmful chemicals in the plastic bottles and to limit our waste output. Be aware that many bottled waters come from the same source as tap water, and may not provide you with better quality than your faucet. The best option is to use a filter to purify your water and carry it in a reusable water bottle so that you always have some onhand when you need it.

 

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Terms of Annoyment

April 13, 2017

It seems like there are words and phrases that somehow come into vogue, and roll off people’s tongues so easily, that they become completely, totally and inequivicably overused. It’s getting to the point where I literally ( there’s one of them from a few years back that is still in frequent over-use) cringe, when I hear them. Do you have a list that sends you over the edge? I’ll share mine, if you share yours too…

Adulting: A term someone dreamt up for millenials, to define those times when they actually act like adults. Whether it describes pulling on your big girl pants at work and self advocating, or just sorting the laundry before tossing it in the machine, this one is popping up everywhere. Apparently, this shirt with a crooked closure is very appropriate adulting-wear.

via The End Brooklyn

via Fashionista

Fake News: This one is trickier. It could indeed mean fake news, as in made up stories flooding the internet, usually about a political figure doing something unseemly to deflect from the fact that another one is in fact, doing something unseemly. It’s alternative meaning, (alternative facts is another one!) is when a politician calls a story that doesn’t flatter them “fake news,” even if it is true. Whichever meaning this takes on, I want to scream when I see it written or hear it spoken.

 

via Aceyourpaper.com

“Ish”: Not really or word or a phrase, this suffix is gaining on us.  Whether it is used on Bon Appetite’s newest website “Healthy-ish” to characterize food that is mostly compliant with the designations of healthful eating, or just every single lifestyle writer using it, the term “ish” is quickly becoming an overused descriptor, and is kind of annoying-ish.

via Healthy-ish

via Cupcakes and Cashmere

AF: An acronym for ” as f*#k.” What does that even mean? Everything is “as cool AF” or “as nasty AF.” Is our vocabulary so limited that we need to resort to this?

Veggies: A personal entry that has made me wince for years. If I were the Miranda Priestly of the food world, I would ban the use of this word. It’s childish, disrespects the many varieties and forms that vegetables take, and frankly, just sounds irritating. There is even a kid’s television show that has been around for a long time, in which the “Veggies” teach lessons in “Christian values.” If a cucumber teaching a tomato about morals isn’t annoying, I don’t know what is.

via Veggie Tales

What are some of the terms you find most annoying? Leave us a comment and we can add them to the list.

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International Women’s Day

March 8, 2017

“I raise up my voice-not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” –  Malala Yousafzai

“The difference between a broken community and a thriving one is the presence of women who are valued.” –   Michelle Obama

“Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“I do not wish them (women) to have power over men; but over themselves.” –  Mary Wollstonecraft

Today is International Women’s Day. Please show your support to women owned businesses today and everyday, and support our quest for equality, freedom of choice, and respect. Surely, those are ideals we, as women can all rally around.

indigo jones and indigo jones eats are proud to be women owned businesses.

This Is Why We Ride

March 6, 2017

 

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Last weekend marked my eighth ride for Cycle for Survival. I have been a commited supporter, ever since the founder, Jennifer Goodman Linn encouraged me to get involved many years ago.

We met in my office at the company where she was newly employed, and making the rounds of meet and greets company executives. During her rotation with me, as we were getting to know one another, she mentioned her passion for cycling, that her hair was a wig, and that every Friday afternoon, she went for her weekly “spa treatments,” as she referred to her chemo regimen. I’m not sure of much else, but I think she had me at wig. I was impressed at how open and honest about her illness she was, and how she never let it hold her back. Jen was an inspiration to all that came in contact with her. During her long battle with a rare form of sarcoma, she never wavered in her enthusiasm for life, and helping others like herself find a cure for this deadly disease. Through that love of cycling, and immense gratitude to her doctors and staff at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, she started a charity ride at Equinox, to raise money for her cause. Who ever would have imagined that years later, that spin class would turn into more than 31,000 people riding at Equinox locations all across the country and raising more than  $132,000,000 to date? I vowed to ride until I could no longer move my legs, or we found a cure and didn’t need to. I was committed, and passionate about the cause and that passion was contagious.

This year however, something changed. It became increasingly more difficult to fill my team roster. My team of 16 dwindled to 4. Solicating donations was tougher than prior years. As a result of all this, even the event itself left me feeling a little disconnected. The current political climate certainly affected things, and people are spread very thin right now when it comes to rallying for causes and shelling out money for support. I get that. But I think some of the longtime participants may have a little “event fatigue.” It occurred to me, after I got home and thought about it, that it was no longer about Jen. Even after she passed away, she was still a presence at the events. From sharing her 40th birthday dance video, to her parents running around in satin robes with boxing gloves, fighting cancer in their own way, to Sloane Kettering naming a research lab in her honor, Jen was always still there in spirit. But this year, she wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to see how big this event has become, and the goal was always to raise as much money as possible. But I missed the human factor that made it so special. I started to question if it was time to let the next wave take over.  That is, until an email came into my inbox. It was from a women named Heather Von St. James, and she was celebrating her 11th year of survival from a deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma that she discovered just 3 months after giving birth to her daughter.  Today, I finally had enough time to explore her blog and read her story, and it is an uplifting one.  Given just 15 months to live, Heather traveled to Boston to undergo what was then, a groundbreaking surgical proceedure, followed by subsequent rounds of chemo and radiation therapy that would hopefully increase her chances of living another 10 years. Defying all odds, she is still healthy 11 years later, and is using her experience to spread awareness and help others fighting this disease.

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She approached me to use this space to help her bring awareness to mesothelioma, and it’s treatment. Her blog tells her story in a way that I never could, outlining her struggles, her fear and her triumphant road to recovery. While I was reading, wiping away tears, it hit me. This is why we ride. Not for Jen, but for the many, many Jens out there, who fight the battle against cancer every day and win. For the Heathers, the family, friends and co-workers who get diagnosed every day and need the support and treatment that isn’t always readily available to them. We ride to find a cure, or at the very least a protocol that can extend one’s life. It’s not about any one person. It is about coming together to fight a demon that affects us all.

Unlike our political state right now, cancer does not discriminate. It doesn’t care about race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. It doesn’t care if  you are a Democrat, or a Republican. And it needs to be stopped. When you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, there are no alternative facts. It is a life or death issue that we need rally around.

If you would like to donate to Cycle for Survival or Heather Von St. James’ Lung Leavin’ Day Fundraiser please click on the links. If you’d like to learn more about mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos exposure read here.

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Best Laid Plans

February 9, 2017

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I am currently in the midst of a pink marshmallow nightmare. My fingertips have little tiny cuts on them, and all the scrubbing and soaking is not getting the chocolate out from under my fingernails. It’s Valentine’s Day, and I am happily inundated with orders for mostly heart shaped sweet treats. This morning, it took a little internal pep talk to get me up and out and ready to dive back into the task at hand. Here are a few of the tips and tricks I’m using to get through the latest holiday rush: (BTW, wasn’t the last holiday rush just a few weeks ago?)

These tips work whether you are shipping hundreds of s’mores, or planning a dinner party:

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Mis en place: You’ve heard me mention this before, and although it has a little different format in this case, the concept still works. Mis en place, is a French term for “putting everything in it’s place.” For many chefs, that means having all of the washing, chopping and even some of the measuring done in advance. In this instance, that meant that I pre-ordered or puchased my ingredients ahead of time, and made all of my different doughs, (which can live nicely in the refrigerator for a few days) early in the week so that I just need to roll and bake them along the way.

Categorize: Rather than fill the orders one by one, I have been trying to make all the like items at once where possible. That means that all the fortune cookies are done, and I am finishing what I hope will be the last of the hot chocolate sticks, before starting the s’mores. Since my product is perishable, and there is a singular “due date”so it pretty much has to be done over the course of just a couple of days.

All the retail orders got shipped last week, and any orders that didn’t request waiting for Valentine’s delivery have been moving through, but it feels like for every order I shipped, 3 more grew back in it’s place. ( NOT COMPLAINING!)

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Pick the most daunting task and get it done first: Right now, the hot chocolate sticks are my kryptonite. I have made a ton of them, and wiggling the chocolate out of the heart shaped cutter is slow and messy process. This morning, I am committed to getting all of the heart shaped ones finished off and packaged so I can move on to the next. Since I cut most of them last night, it’s just busy work that will feel so fulfilling once it is complete.

Make a list and check it twice. I keep going back through the orders and double checking them. I am down to the last 24 or so, but in checking them carefully last night, I realized that many of them not only had multiple items, but also multiple quantities. Because my individual elements (marshmallows, hot chocolate, dough etc. ) need to be made and allowed to set for many hours before using them, I need to make sure I am not caught short at the last minute. That means, don’t just check, but break it down. I figured out how many more marshmallows I needed across the various items, how many batches of chocolate, or dough, etc. For a dinner party, it might equate to how many onions and garlic cloves you can dice at once to be used across several dishes. Work smart.

Don’t put off for tomorrow, what you can do today. At midnight, when I finally finished up, I forced myself to replenish a couple of batches of marshmallows and some hot chocolate so it would be ready to use in the morning. I am so glad that I did. It frees up the pans for the next batches, and gives me something to work with without having to wait several hours to use them.

Give yourself the satisfaction of crossing things off that list! Somehow, crossing things off, or shipping things out and having the order leave the queue is very satisfying, and takes a little stress off as the list gets shorter.

Take mini breaks to keep productivity high. Check email, read the paper,have a snack,  or even take a 15 minute nap when you need it to keep yourself going for long periods of time. Sometimes hitting your personal reset button is all it takes to get refreshed and reinvigorated.

Promise yourself a treat when it’s over. Have something to set your sights on, even if it is as simple as sleeping in, having a glass of wine, or binging a new tv show. Give yourself something to look forward to, to keep you moving towards your goal.

What do you do to get through big projects at work or at home? Tell us in the comments.

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Quiet Amidst The Storm

January 25, 2017

 

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It is no secret that we are living in challenging times. Whether you are in support of our current administration or not, it’s pretty rough out there. My social media feed has been filled with articles containing facts, opinions, and “alternate facts” since the Presidential race got underway last year. Every post is met with a long thread that evolves from agreement, to hideous accusations from “friends” and total strangers alike. And you know what? It’s debilitating.

We, as a country are so divided that we can no longer carry on a conversation, without it exploding into accusations and vitroil. I as an individual, am done. I haven’t changed my views, I haven’t crawled under a rock shielding myself from news stories, and burning issues. I have however, decided that I am going to refrain from commenting on things more controversial than eating pickles with peanut butter. (Verdict: GROSS!)

Everyday, I find myself respectfully defending my views only to be attacked. Yesterday, I found myself in a nearly 1000 comment thread about the inaugural cake. Let that sink in a moment, before I tell you that it got pretty ugly. In a time that the world is in turmoil, people took time to argue over a cake. A CAKE! I fell down that rabbit hole, and came back a little bruised from the journey.

And not commenting isn’t making it that much better. The things I take issue with continue to be there. The things others take issue with are blamed on us “liberals” and “special snowflakes.” Each individual action, is now attributed to an entire group of people, who didn’t do it, and don’t condone it, yet whatever political affiliation that the guilty party belongs to, now owns their misdeed. The constant verbal attacks over absolutely everything are becoming overwhelming. The name calling, the assumptions regarding one’s intelligence, and the outright bullying of those with different views has got to stop. And until it does, I’m not going to play.

Sometimes I am so riled up, I feel like I can’t breathe. Sometimes I am so shut down, that I just want to pull the covers over my head and hide. This can’t be healthy, for me or for anyone.  So I am taking a little break, and sticking to discussing issues that are far more benign than those with a political bent. Which apparently means pickles over cake, unless the President or his family hates pickles, in which case, it’s all fair game.

In a year that has divided us so, I look at the beacon of light that is before me. Last Saturday, millions of people came together to protest, and bring to the forefront issues that are meaningful to them, that our current administration doesn’t agree with. While the public shouldn’t need to protest to have our leaders represent their points of view, perhaps, in some really twisted way, all of this discord is in fact, bringing us together. We can only hope.

In the meantime….Indigo 0ut.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

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To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

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