Eau De Trendincite – A Scent of My Own

Eau De TrendIncite
Eau De Trendincite

I was so inspired by our last hands-on TrendIncite Xchange meeting that I decided to continue the “creativity and inspirational me” theme and reached out to Sue Phillips of Scenterprises. Sue lead our group on a creative fragrance journey, where each of us created our own custom scent. I’ve been in the fragrance and flavor industry for 20 years and until now I’ve never created my own signature scent.

Eight of us gathered at Sue’s apartment where she explained the seven major olfactive categories – Citrus, Floral, Fruity, Oriental, Chypre, Woody and Fougere. Sue compared fragrances to food and music and explained that each had a beginning, a middle and an end.  In fragrance terms that translates to top notes, middle notes and base notes. We were then given a lifestyle questionnaire with 11 questions about our preferences that ranged from fabrics to seasons to vacation spots to film icons.  We individually tallied our responses, which corresponded to four olfactive categories – Citrus, Floral, Oriental and Woody. Then Sue shared 14 fragrance accords with us such as Balsamic, Citrus, Green, Mossy, Ozonic, and Rose Floral.  After evaluating the accords on blotters we were encouraged to choose up to four of our favorite fragrance directions, which would be used to create our custom, signature scents. I choose the Citrus, Gentle Floral, Balsamic and Woody accords and voilà Eau de Trendincite was born.  It is rather sweet and smells differently than I expected. It does have a sweet figgy and plum accord, which I like. The verdict is not out yet as I’m still getting accustomed to the fragrance and evaluating it. However, my mother and daughter love it!

Working for three leading fragrance houses, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Fragrance is a very personal experience and much more complex than one may think. I thought I would be formulating my own scent with my favorite accords – Bergamot, Orange flower and Vetiver with a hint of Musk and Vanilla. This was not the case. Sue uses a predetermined set of finished accords.  I enjoyed my experience and I’m glad I had the opportunity to create my own scent. Sue’s fragrance exercise is perfect for fragrance novices who are looking to creatively express themselves with a custom signature scent.

 

Creative Me Time

When’s the last time you did something creative for yourself? It’s been so long, I can’t remember.

During a random conversation with an industry friend and colleague, we discussed a creative vision board workshop, which she recently attended and found both inspirational and enjoyable. I’m always looking for inspiration in my work and personal life. Naturally this piqued my interest. While lying in bed, wide awake with my mind racing, a usual occurrence, I experienced a eureka…”what a great subject matter for my next TrendIncite Xchange meeting.”

My sister, a member of my TrendIncite Xchange group, graciously agreed to host a creative vision board workshop with an intimate group of 10 members at her NYC apartment. Boards, magazines, scissors and glue sticks in hand, Michele Curico lead our workshop.

Based on the Bagua map, Michele briefly explained the Feng Shui concept and how it applied to our exercise. Our blank, white 16″ x 16″ boards had nine quadrants, each representing a personal aspect of our lives. Top left to right: Wealth, Fame (how we want to be perceived), Partnership (relationship focused), Family, Health, Children, Education, Career, and Helpful People.

Bagua Map
Bagua Map

We were instructed to select words and images from magazines that represented our creative vision for what we wanted to accomplish and focus our energy on for each quadrant for 2013.

Feeling like a kid again in elementary school, I leisurely and giddily flipped through magazines, tearing and cutting words and images that inspired me or caught my attention. It was so hands on, so tactile and so rudimentary. But wow, what a cathartic exercise!

For me the challenge was to sort and artistically apply this visual content to each quadrant. After I laid out the information, I hesitantly glued it to the board. I felt like I was making a commitment. At first, I thought this feeling stemmed from wanting to make the board look artistic. However, I realized it wasn’t about the aesthetics of the board. It was about being focused and clear on what my vision was and making the commitment to achieve these goals or at least try to.

Two hours flew by and all 10 of us were thoroughly engaged and immersed in the exercise. It was this creative and inspirational “me” time, which made each of us reflectively focus on ourselves. We so often forget or don’t make the time to do this. At the close of the workshop, Michele led us in a focused meditation to channel our energy and help us visualize the boards to achieve our goals. Let’s see what happens in 2013!

Here is my 2013 vision board

Amy Marks-McGee
Amy Marks-McGee 2013 Vision Board

Gabrielle Marks’ 2013 vision board

"The create your own vision boards presented by Michele Curcio was very succesful. I was very inspired and enjoyed myself."
“Michele Curcio’s presentation was succesful. I was very inspired and enjoyed myself.”

Missy Mazelon’s 2013 vision board

Missy Mazelon VB
“It was fun clipping random words and pictures with no set direction as to where they would be placed exactly on my board. Then I found it very inspiring that all of the words and pictures found their way into the designated categories so easily..and then some, as I ran out of room!”

Karen Dubin’s 2013 vision board

Karen Dubin VB
“This was a very enlightening evening! I found that the search for words and images that reflected my life goals presented the opportunity for me to do a much-needed assessment of where I am now both personally and professionally. And this is something that people rarely take the time to do. I love that when I look at my board it is full of color, and is a virtual mini-capsule of me. I had a blast doing the vision board!”

Janice Hart’s 2013 vision board

"The time spent creating my board gave me a vision of a very balanced self for my future goals. The trend exchange group and the atmosphere was very inspiring!"
“The time spent creating my board gave me a vision of a very balanced self for my future goals. The TrendIncite Xchange group and the atmosphere was very inspiring!”

A few quotes from other TrendIncite Xchange members…

“So far the purple (abundance) is working, new projects are coming in! Still waiting for the age appropriate fella to show up!” – Judy Galloway

“The vision board session allowed me to take time out my hectic schedule to focus on what I want to focus on for 2013. I am excited to see evidence of some of my wishes coming to fruition already.” – Helen Kim

“The create your own vision boards presented by Michele Curcio was a great event with lots of positive energy flowing throughout the evening. My goals have already started to unfold.” –  Danielle Milata

Technology Cleanse

Two weeks ago my Blackberry Bold 9930 was in my back pocket and to my surprise when I went to the bathroom, I noticed it had fallen into the toilet. I had heard that if this happens, (a far too common occurrence), you should submerge the phone in a bag of rice. Hoping any electrical parts would dry up and my phone would work again, I did so. Unfortunately, 24 hours later I checked and my phone did not work. Luckily it was the weekend and I had no appointments. I really did not need my phone. However, I felt disconnected.

Debating if I should give in and purchase a touch-screen smart phone like the IPhone or Samsung Galaxy SIII (which I wrote about in my 1st post), I decided to use my insurance and just replace it with the same Blackberry.  As mentioned in earlier posts, I don’t like change for the sake of change. An aside, I am slowly moving into the 21st century and switched from my trendincite@aol.com e-mail to amy@trendincite.com e-mail.

Anyhow, I was without a smart phone for four days.  At first I was a bit disoriented and felt a little lost considering I’ve had a cell phone for 13 years.  It’s quite sad how we have become so dependent on technology. There was something nice about not being connected. I wasn’t constantly checking my e-mails, texting or calling. I was in the present, spending quality time with my family.

We expect everything so fast. We are reachable and “on” 24/7. Technology provides us with instant gratification. However, I think at times this hinders us. We need down time and I think technology cuts into this time. Of course this only occurred to me because of the toilet incident. But now that I’m aware, I intend to make more time to be disconnected.

Get Gellin

Gel manicure after 9 days
Gel manicure after 9 days

To prepare for my family vacation to Mexico, I decided to treat myself to a pedicure. I wasn’t going to bother with a manicure because I rarely leave a nail salon without a smudge or a chip and I’m lucky if it even lasts for a week.

With the amount of sunscreen we use as a family, the chlorine from the pool, sand from the beach and the general use of my hands, there was no way a manicure would last and be worth the investment. The manicurist talked me into a gel manicure for $30. With little convincing I agreed. I’ve known about the gel technology for the last few years, but had no good reason to try it.

The mass market and professional nail care market has been growing at an exponential rate driven by the technological advances, including gel. According to Packaged Facts “The Nail Care Market in the U.S.” report, dollar sales of nail care products in the mass market will reach $2 billion in 2016. Kline’s “Professional Nail Care: Global Market Brief,” reported that the professional nail care category grew by over 25% globally in 2012. According to Kline, the introduction of over 30 important new gel products in the past two years helped spur the market’s strong performance. Gel products grew nearly 30% in 2012. Nail care is so popular, there’s even a new magazine Nail It! dedicated to the category.

With all of these nail stats and my need for an enduring manicure, now was a good reason to try it. I chose an iridescent, sparkly light pink color, similar to what I would have chosen for a regular manicure. However, there were less color choices. The process was similar to a regular manicure, except they make you wash your hands before they apply the specific gel polish, they don’t apply cream or massage your hands, and they wipe your nails clean with nail polish remover. In addition, the drying time is quicker because they use the uv light. Overall the experience was pleasant.  My nails had a nice, smooth finish and seemed stronger than after a regular manicure.  I left wondering if the manicure would survive the trip to Mexico and live up to my expectations.

Coincidentally when I arrived in Mexico, I noticed that the woman at the concierge desk had the same color nail polish as mine.  I asked her if it was the gel manicure and how she liked the product.  It was the same product and she was very happy with it.  She explained how she cleans with Clorox and how the manicure holds up for at least two weeks, sometimes three.

To my surprise, the gel manicure held up and exceeded my expectations. It’s been over a week and I sufficiently challenged the technology…I dragged luggage through airports and in and out of airplanes and cars; I repeatedly applied sunscreen and zinc oxide to myself, two kids and husband; I waded in chlorinated pools and salty, ocean water; I frequently washed my hands and my kids’ hands; I hand-washed my fair share of dishes; and I bathed my kids nightly.

I’m very happy with the outcome. I’m definitely a convert and I’m not sure why I would opt for a regular manicure again.  Now the burning questions are “how will I remove it?” and “what condition will my nails be in after?” Until next time…

 

Playtime or Naptime @ Yogibo

Yogibo, The Westchester

I needed to pick up a kid’s birthday gift this weekend, so we took a quick family visit to the Westchester Mall in White Plains. As you may know, I am not fond of shopping and unless I need something, I don’t spend a lot of time browsing or window shopping.  However, we went to the food court for lunch and stumbled upon Yogibo. I was not familiar with the brand or the store.

For starters, it is a wide open, inviting space with bright, cheerful colored bean bag furniture.  Adults and teens are lounging on these bean bag like chairs while kids are running, jumping and playing throughout the store.  A friendly employee encouraged us to come in and try the products.

As I entered, I felt like a cross between a kid in a candy shop and something from Woody Allen’s Sleeper movie.  This oblong chartreuse Yogi Maxbean bag chair was upright and as my daughter describes it “you karate chop it” where you would like to sit or lay.  Then one proceeds to place their body in the newly created crease.  I was a bit hesitant, but to my surprise it was very comfortable and held its position. The company’s tagline “The only furniture that loves you back!” suits the products.

My husband, who was comfortably lounging across the store, looked like he was on the verge of a nap. The kids on the other hand, had no hesitation and literally karate chopped each and every Yogibo on display. At times they would lay back, almost fall into the oversized bean bag pillows and make them a lounger, bed like creation.  You know I’m getting old when I tried to get up and was not only off balance, but couldn’t figure out how to gracefully maneuver my body or the chair.

These products reminded me of Mogu, a Japanese design brand that made similar bean bag like chairs, pillows and dolls.  Nine years ago they opened a store in Nolita, but closed in 2006. I even still have a Mogu Joy doll that was the big fad in 2004.

My daughter wanted to purchase a small pillow as a token of her visit.  Although tempting, we walked away empty handed. However, my husband and kids are ready for a house, which I will never be ready for, but we agreed that if one had a finished basement or a den, these would make great furniture.  I have a feeling, that if this store is still in business by the time we purchase a house, we will be owners of Yogibo furniture.

Not So Krazy for Kale

Fresh Kale

Kale, the new superfood darling, is a cruciferous vegetable member of the cabbage family.  I remember when it was that green, curly vegetable that restaurants used as a garnish to decorate the plate.  I’m not a big fan and haven’t been converted yet.

According to Starchefs.com “chefs take note of kale for its bold appearance and complex flavor.” It’s so popular it’s being eaten raw, juiced, sauteed, baked, blanched, steamed, fried etc. High in fiber and nutrients, kale is reported to have anti-cancer health benefits. Raw foodists have been juicing and eating it for years, but it’s now going mainstream.

Get juiced…

Organic Avenue recognized the benefits of kale early and offers a variety of kale products including the Green Monkey Smoothie crafted with banana and kale and Green LOVE* super juice features pear, lemon, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, parsley, collard greens and romaine. Swiss chard, Tuscan kale, spinach, cucumber, ginger, Kohlrabi, and fresh herbs are all in Good Means Go juice from newcomer Creative Juice. Kale Me Crazy will join the juice bar trend and launch in March in Atlanta. For those who prefer an alcoholic drink, there’s the Garden Variety Margarita with Blue agave blanco tequila, ginger & kale juice, lime juice, agave nectar and smoked sea salt from The Wayland.

Eat it raw…

Pure Food and Wine serves a Tuscan Kale with Shaved Fennel and Orange salad with orange blossom scented honey, fennel pollen, and candied almond crumbs while Fatty ‘Cue offers a Kale & Chicory salad with cincalok and green peppercorn dressing. Just Salad offers Winter Crunch Superfood made with Iceberg-Kale-Red cabbage, multigrain croutons, apples, wheatberries, broccoli, and shaved Parmesan. You know kale has hit critical mass when restaurant’s like Cheesecake Factory add it to their menu and serve Fresh Kale Salad.  Watch out, because according to The Globe and Mail, the French are beginning to embrace it.

Some like it hot…

Red Medicine serves a Young Turnips with roasted banana, banana vinegar, fermented black bean, creme fraiche, and kale while Scampo offers Norwegian salt cod ravioli with roasted pork belly and Tuscan kale.

Snack attack…

Brad’s Raw Food sells a variety of kale chips such as Vampire Killer-Leafy Kale and Nasty Hot-Leafy Kale and Earth Chips has Cheezy Kale and Chocolate Kale flavors.

The future…

The Chicago Tribune’s Food trends for 2013: What’s the next kale? article suggests that “vegetables will continue to move to the center of the plate” with kale being the current superstar. QSR supports this trend and sees ‘More fruits and vegetables’ as 10 Trends for 2013, and foresees kale “becoming more popular as a healthful option at some fast-casual restaurants and on college campuses.”

Is kale a fad or is it going to be part of our diet for good?

P.S. Watch as this leafy green trickles into beauty care products like Dr. Alkaitis’ Universal Organic Mask and Mor’s Emporium Black Collection Kale & Watercress.

Sunchoke What?

Jerusalem Artichokes tubers by Christian Guthier
Jerusalem Artichokes Tubers (photo by Christian Guthier)

What exactly is a sunchoke? A sunchoke is most popularly known as a Jerusalem artichoke and is a tuber vegetable.  It’s not from Jerusalem, it’s native to North America and it’s rich in inulin. As part of the Sunflower family, it derives its name from sun(flower) + (arti)choke. According to Food Network, the sunchoke is described as “nutty, sweet and crunchy” and looks like a ginger root.

Sunchoke is the ‘it’ vegetable emerging on restaurant menus.  However, it is not a new ingredient.  Over the last few years it comes and goes in and out of favor during the fall and winter months. I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten a sunchoke or for that matter if I’ve ever eaten one. Regardless, here are a few places sunchoke has been seen…

Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood prepared a Sunchoke “granola” for Bon Appetit’s Do Your Part Dinners event on December 6, 2012. Lil Mikey from Chowhound enjoyed Ari Taymor of Alma’s “earthy sunchoke purée over a perfect egg yolk, and a salad of artichoke, grapefruit slivers, and baked wheat berries.” Gwynnett St. features Sunchokes with hazelnuts and Alpine cheese. ISA in Brooklyn, has been known to use it in dishes like Tartare – Sunchoke, Flax, Creme Fraiche and Sunchoke Cream with Espresso and Dust. StarChefs.com chose the Sunchoke Soup, Potato, Shrimp, and Truffle Essence dish from Chef Chris Nugent of Goosefoot in Chicago, as one of the Top U.S. Dishes of 2012. Julia Moskin of The New York Times predicts that ‘Sunflower Power,’ which includes sunchoke, as one of the 10 Trends for 2013. Let’s see if sunchoke catches on this time.

Have you eaten any unique sunchoke dishes or prepared any unusual sunchoke recipes?

What’s Ahead? 2013 Culinary Trends To Watch For…

Out with the old, in with the new. It’s a new year and here is a list I compiled of some interesting predictions for what food & beverage trends are ahead in 2013. Let’s see how accurate they are…

Technomic’s Take: What’s Ahead in 2013?

National Restaurant Association Food – What’s Hot Food 2013 Chef Survey? and What’s Hot Alcohol 2013 Bartender Survey?

Sterling-Rice Group Cutting-Edge Dining Trends of 2013

McCormick® Flavor Forecast® 2013

Nestlé Highlights Top Food & Beverage Trends to Watch in 2013

Eater Trendwatch 2013: Food Media Predicts the Future

The 2012 StarChefs.com Trends Report

Time Top 10 Food Trends of 2012 and more

 

Kneading A Massage

I recently had my year-end, long overdue massage at East Side Massage. I know some individuals who don’t like massages because they feel uncomfortable and don’t like to be touched. However, for me, if done right they are fabulous.

When trying to relax with my eyes closed, I find my mind racing with random thoughts. One reoccurring thought I have each time I get a massage is “Do massage therapists make good bakers?” I feel like a piece of dough being kneaded and think if they can knead my skin that well, then they surely can knead dough.

When the tension releases from my neck, shoulders and upper back and the knots pop, I feel like I’m having an out of body experience. It’s as if a ghost of tension is rising out of my body like smoke rising into the air. My back muscles are so tense, they are like a taut guitar string being plucked by the massage therapist’s strong hands.  I am surprised how precise she is and how deep she can get into my muscles essentially bypassing everything in between. My mind visualizes the musculoskeletal system model from science class. Breathing through the pain, I unwind and ease into relaxation.

In almost a twilight like state I feel relaxed and then I find myself trying to identify which body part the massage therapist is using. Is it her elbow or her arm between her wrist and her elbow that is rolling down my back like a rolling pin?  I briefly giggle to myself remembering the Friends episode where Ross gives Phoebe’s client, an older man, a massage using wooden spoons and Tonka trucks. It really doesn’t matter what body part is being used because my stress is successfully being released.

By the end of the massage I’m so relaxed that my mind has stopped racing. My body feels like a mound of jello and I ask the massage therapist if I can stay there all day.  Politely, she thanks me and lets me know the hour is up. As I leave the massage table disoriented and sleepy with hair that my husband refers to as Nick Nolte like, I am in a zen like state and wonder how long the feeling will last. I’m not sure going to Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained movie right after is the best choice. I look forward to my next massage, which I hope will be sooner then December.

Who Dat? New Orleans Style

I was invited to a high school friend’s wedding in the French Quarter, New Orleans last weekend.  When my husband agreed to watch the kids for the weekend I booked my ticket before he could change his mind. Who can pass on a girls weekend away in an eating capitol?

I often tell my clients to find inspiration and to facilitate creativity you need to be in tune with your senses at all times. When traveling, one must absorb the culture, observe the different behaviors and taste the local ingredients.  Well I proudly followed my own advice and ate, drank and danced my way through New Orleans.

I love oysters – raw, cooked, fried, you name it. My trip began with a visit to Drago’s known for their Charbroiled Oysters.  Like no other oyster I’ve had, these were succulent, salty, buttery, garlicky, cheesy, and delicious.  It was the perfect combination of textures and tastes. As if that wasn’t enough, we ordered a dozen raw oysters to follow and they were fresh, cold, crisp, and briny.

After dinner, the festivities began and we met the bride and groom to be and our high school friends by the Riverwalk and Spanish Plaza. We worked our way to The French Quarter and had cocktails at French 75 Bar (attached to Arnaud’s). It had an old school atmosphere with the bartenders in tuxedos, funky monkey lights with crystal tassels and a variety of specialty drinks.  I settled on the Caibiscus crafted with Cachaca, Falernum, Hibiscus tea, Grenadine and Lime Juice.  Our evening continued with a few cheesy bar stops along Bourbon Street – I had to pass on dancing at The Beach and drinking Tropical Isle’s Hand Grenade cocktail.  However, a visit to Bourbon street wouldn’t be complete without a final stop at Pat O’Brien’s. I don’t particularly like the Hurricane cocktail, but the saying goes “when in Rome do as the Roman’s do,” so I tasted it. I was craving dessert and ordered a White Russian or two instead.

French 75
French 75

Another must do, was Cafe Du Monde, which was our final destination at 1:00 am.  The beignets were fabulous…not too hot, not too cold, not to fluffy and not too dense, all just right, drowning in confectioners sugar. I’m still raving about them to the point where my second grade daughter told me “Mom, why don’t you just write a small moment about them.”  There is a reason Cafe Du Monde is an institution and open 24/7.  Even though they sell their signature beignet mix, I’m convinced you can’t recreate the same experience at home. Whenever you try something for the first time and really enjoy your experience, the next time you try it you’re chasing the high. There’s got to be a science to it…the difference in water, frying oil (assume it’s been used multiple times), the actual shape & size and the heavy handed use of powdered sugar. That’s just the physical aspect of the beignets, but the waiters and waitresses with their white paper soda jerk hats and black bow ties hustling about, all create a memorable experience. I have the same theory for NY bagels and Philly pretzels.  BTW – my black dress didn’t stand a chance, I was covered in powdered sugar, but it was worth it!

Cafe Du Monde Beignets
Cafe Du Monde Beignets

Saturday morning began with a quick jaunt to the the Audubon Aquarium. Had time permitted, I would have liked to visit the Insectarium – oh well next time.  Eating was essential and we had to grab a quick bite before the wedding so we met our friends at Killer Poboys in the back of the Erin Rose bar.  They only offer a selection of five poboys that are all “internationally inspired and chef crafted.”  Although I’m not a big fan of cilantro or coriander, the Coriander Lime Gulf Shrimp (with marinated Daikon and carrot, cucumbers, herbs and the house special aioli) piqued my interest.  It was delicious!  The coriander was perfectly balanced and not overpowering, the shrimp were plump and fresh and I loved the doughiness of the bread with a hint of crisp, flakiness.

Clownfish & coral
Clownfish & Coral

Our adventure continued as we headed to the French Quarter Wedding Chapel, which on their website states “Please do not come more than 15 minutes before scheduled wedding time it could cost the couple.”  Keeping this in mind, it was no surprise that when we arrived I felt like I was in a Quentin Tarantino movie…dollar bills hanging from the chapel ceiling, Tiffany lamps haphazardly arranged, an old boom box, a few pews, a couch, four living room chairs, folding chairs and wedding knick-knacks randomly placed. Elvis’ appearance was an added touch, but I had a hunch he’d be there. When I first received the wedding e-vite to attend a “chapel” wedding, I mistakenly thought it was going to be held in Las Vegas and expected Elvis. The bride in jeans, with a white blouse and flip flops and an unshaven groom in jeans – both holding Styrofoam cups filled with a cocktail, seemed perfectly suited for the setting. Vows were exchanged with Elvis singing/asking the groom if “he would take the bride to be his hunka-hunka burning love?” As we toasted the newlyweds with champagne, we were beaded and given white handkerchiefs.

Ceiling of French Quarter Chapel
Ceiling of French Quarter Chapel
Dragonfly Tiffany Lamp
Dragonfly Tiffany Lamp

For a real New Orleans experience, we gathered outside the chapel and to our surprise there was a 2nd line brass band. With a police escort, 35+ guests practiced their “woos” and waved their handkerchiefs high in the air as we paraded and danced through the French QuarterTourists and on lookers watched as we threw beads at the crowd and drank from our red solo cups, which the reverend allowed guests to generously fill as he drove his electric wheel chair with a cooler attached alongside the parade. We paraded for a mile and ended at Mojito for cocktails and appetizers. We sipped on housemade mojitos, snacked on crab cakes, listened to the band, and enjoyed the wedding celebration.

2nd Line
Wedding 2nd Line
Traveling bar
Traveling bar

At 6:00 pm it was time to eat again and we needed our grand finale, hurrah meal. The night before I had asked the local Pat O’Brien’s bartender to recommend her favorite restaurant and off we went to Jacques Imo’s in Uptown. This restaurant did not disappoint… I was fond of the watermelon mojito. As they say the rest is history.

It was a whirlwind two day weekend, but the most unique, non-traditional and memorable wedding I’ve ever attended. I truly appreciated being a part of the moment.