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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Fashion Activists

March 1, 2017
Kelsey Fairhurst

Kelsey Fairhurst

The state of the States is a recurring theme worldwide, with designers taking a political stand in their collections being shown this month. With New York, London, and Milan under our belts, it seems that human rights are on everyone’s minds this fashion cycle.

Prabal Gurung created tee shirts inspired by the issues of the Women’s Marches, and hopes to be able to allow purchasers a choice of which charity the proceeds from their shirt will support. An immigrant himself, Gurung feels he owes it to the country that gave him so many opportunities, to use his voice to promote justice.

via Forbes

via Forbes

Jonathan Simkhai made his views clear by wearing an activist tee shirt while taking his bows at his recent show.

via Vogue.com

via Vogue.com

The tee is available for pre-sale on his website, and will cost $95, with proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.

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Public School put their own tongue in cheek spin on things, with their red “Make America New York” caps.

via Vogue.com

via Vogue.com

 

Meanwhile, across the pond, Donatella Versace incorporated impowering messages into her Versace runway collection:

via Vogue.com

via Vogue.com

via Vogue.com

via Vogue.com

One of the most meaningful statements came from Missoni, who sent all of the models down the runway for the finale, wearing pink pussy hats, which were also the gift left on editors and buyers seats at the show. Designer Angela Missoni took a moment to address the crowd, stating. “There is a bond between us that will keep us strong and safe. The bond that unites all those who respect human rights. Let’s show the world that the fashion community is united and fearless!”

via Glamour

via Glamour

This activism started last season, with Maria Grazia Chiuri notably showing a feminist statement tee shirt with an embellished skirt at Dior.

via Vogue.com

via Vogue.com

We expect to see the trend continue to develop as Paris Fashion Week begins, and even more designers choose to use thier platforms to entice, as well as incite us to take action.

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#tiedtogether

February 13, 2017
photo via Business of Fashion

photo via Business of Fashion

Fashion insiders will be donning white bandanas this fashion week, in a quiet show of solidarity, unity and inclusiveness.
The movement, started by The Business of Fashion website, asks that designers and show attendees participate in the initiative.

To get involved, simply tie a white bandana around your wrist, neck, head or bag and upload a selfie to social media with the hashtag #tiedtogether.

 

photo via Business of Fashion

photo via Business of Fashion

Designers are being urged to include the bandanas as an accessory in their show, and to wear one when taking their final bows, to spread the message throughout the month of international fashion weeks.

Intended to be a positive statement, not a political one, the creators hope to show support to human issues worldwide.

 

photo via Business of Fashion

photo via Business of Fashion

Stay tuned to see some style statements that could be the start of a major fashion trend.

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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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Sweet Potato Toast

February 6, 2017

The internet is buzzing right now, with this year’s versions of gluten free alternatives. In an effort to replace those processed carbs, a plethora of vegetable substitutes abound. First, there was cauliflower, masquerading as mashed potatoes, rice and even pizza crusts. The latest iteration for healthy substitutes is the sweet potato, sliced and popped into the toaster to create  “sweet potato toast”.  These slabs of hot and slightly caramelized potatoes, get slathered with everything from nut butter and bananas, to the beloved avocado mash that everyone seems to covet.  Paleo and Whole 30 approved, this one could be a game changer in the boring low carb, no grains, no dairy, no sugar, no legumes, no fun world of food.

via mind, body green

via mind, body green

Skeptical of the natural sugars dripping into, and ultimately ruining my toaster, I set forth to explore this phenomenon myself. The results? Not bad!

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If you decide to use your toaster, be aware that you will have to press it down and retoast several times until the inside of the slice starts to soften. It seems that putting it in the oven, especially if you want more slices than your toaster has slots, is a better method.

It is important that the slices are uniform, so that some aren’t burnt when others are hard. One of my slices charred on one edge, which was easily trimmed off after toasting.

To make sweet potato toast in the oven:

Place the long slabs of sweet potato on a rack over a cookie sheet, and toast in a very hot ( 400-450 degrees) oven for about 15-20 minutes, until brown on the outside and softened, but not mushy on the inside. Top it with fruit, eggs, smoked fish or avocado, or simply slather it with butter and jam, if your diet allows. Anything you might put on bread is a candidate for sweet potato toast.

 

via the paleo paparazzi

via the paleo paparazzi

Nobody is going to believe that this is bread, anymore than people believe that thin strips of zucchini are pasta. But both are very healthy and tasty alternatives to the real deal, bringing a new texture into your diet and offers a healthy break from the “same old, same old.”

via blissful basil

via blissful basil

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Unrecipe of the Week: Arugula, Radicchio + Pear Salad

February 2, 2017

We’re always dreaming up new salads to help our catering clients get their greens. This week, we were inspired by a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis for an arugula, radicchio and pear salad. That’s all we needed to know, to set us off on our own journey towards salad greatness.

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We started with the greens, and built it from there. Adding sliced pears (soaked in lemon juice to keep them from browning), ricotta salata cheese, and a sprinkling of toasted walnuts for a finishing touch, we dressed it in a honey, dijon dressing that was just the right balance of sweet and tart.  This is light enough to be a starter, and interesting enough to be the centerpiece of a meal, with a little sliced chicken or some white beans to up the protein quotient.

Arugula, Radicchio and Pear Salad:

Wash baby arugula and radicchio, cored and sliced thin and place it in a bowl. Slice ricotta salata and pears into thick matchsticks. Toss with Honey Dijon Vinaigette, and sprinkle with toasted walnuts.

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Honey Dijon Vinaigrette:

Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 heaping teaspoon of dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Be sure to taste, and add more vinegar if it seems too sweet.

BONUS: Don’t limit yourself to salad! I used this vinaigrette on a simply broiled piece of salmon and it was delicious! It was just thick enough to coat the fish, and give it a tasty glaze. Yum!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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The Art of Movement: The Museum Workout

February 1, 2017
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image by Mallory Lynn

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is hosting a series of morning workouts, which take place in the expansive space of one of the most famous galleries in the world.

Concieved of and choreographed by contemporary dancers Monica Bill Barnes and Company, and narrated by artist Maira Kalman, the multi-disciplanary workout takes place in the early morning hours before the museum opens to the public.

image via Bloomberg

image via Bloomberg

The nearly two mile course flows through the various galleries led by Monica Bill Barnes and her dance partner, Anne Bass, both wearing sneakers and sequined dresses. Through constant movement, including classic moves such as squats,dance moves and light stretching, the participants are able to experience a unique mind- body connection.

Ms. Kalman selects the artwork to be viewed, and produces a soundtrack of Disco and Motown hits, interspersed with her recorded dialogue to guide the group the space.

The experience runs through February 12, and tickets start at $35.

Thursday to Sunday, weekly; 8:30 am, The Met Fifth Avenue:
Jan 19, 20, 21, 22 & Jan 26, 27, 28, 29
Feb 2, 3, 4, 5 & Feb 9, 10, 11, 12

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Storing Citrus Zest

January 31, 2017

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Food waste has become so prevalent, that we sometimes toss the very things that we need later. Skins and peelings fit this category.

We often use the juice, or the flesh of citrus, and discard the peels. Yet, some of the most flavorful part is on the outside.

Before you squeeze or peel that lemon, lime or orange, stop and zest it first. Put the zest into a small glass jar and keep it in your freezer for later use.

Citrus zest adds a jolt of flavor and brightens up fish, chicken and vegetables and sauces, with just a little sprinkle. We also use it in baking, for scones, muffins and pound cakes.

How To Zest Citrus:

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Wash the outside of the fruit, and wipe it dry. Using a microplane grater, rub it all over the fruit, shaving off the colored part of the rind, and leaving the white pith behind. You can also use a vegetable peeler to peel off the rind, and then julienne it into tiny strips. Toss it in your jar, and enjoy it as needed.
The fruit can then be peeled or juiced as normal.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Showing Their Stripes

January 30, 2017

The stars showed their stripes on the red carpet at last night’s SAG awards, brightening a landscape that featured more black gowns than ever before.

Michelle Dockery wore a striped Elie Saab gown with a thigh high slit and black piping.

The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Arrivals

Michelle Williams opted for sequined stripes, by Louis Vuitton.

23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Arrivals

Yara Shahidi’s stripes were a mix of sheer and opaque with a hint of sparkle.The rainbow of color was grounded by black from designer, Naaem Kahn.

The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Red Carpet

Mayim Bialik took a more modest approach, with her striped taffetta gown that had a high neckline and short sleeves.

23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Arrivals

Photos via Style Caster

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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

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