Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Confessions of a Notebook Addict

I must confess; I am addicted to notebooks. This picture just covers the trusty notebooks that I use on a regular basis for organization and brainstorming.

Starting from the top:
  • 2014 Notebook: A tiny notebook to carry in my bag for quick notes and calendar updates. Of course, I use the Google calendar on my phone and online but it’s much more polite to whip out a calendar when out with friends. I also use it to keep track of birthdays and those doctor appointments scheduled 6 months out and otherwise forgotten. 
  • 2013 Notebook: It’s only January so I’m still hauling around this Field Notes notebook. I completely identify with the Field Notes slogan: “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now.” Plus their notebooks, remind me of the ones carried by my farmer Grandfather. 
  • Startup Institute Chicago Notebook: Pretty notebook from Lotta Jansdotter chock full of notes from awesome instructors and coffee chats taken as part of the Startup Institute Chicago. I only have a few pages left so I guess that means I need to schedule more meetings, get a job and start a new notebook. 
  • FUNerosity Notebook: I’m using this one for my work on a side project startup called FUNerosity. We are in the midst of a piloting a non-profit focused crowdfunding site that aims to make it easier for organizations to raise funds. I’ve been working on it since June and it’s amazing how far we’ve come. 
  • Marketeer Notebook: A pretty floral notebook for my HubSpot Inbound certification class notes. It’s a fun juxtaposition to take notes in a very old school notebook while watching classes online.
  • Sewing Notebook: A spiral notebook purchased by my Mom during her school supply stockpiling days. This notebook is full of sketches, measurements and sewing tips. 
  • Evernote: Via my laptop and my phone. Evernote is great for notetaking when you need to type fast. I also use it to copy articles and webpages for reading and referencing in the future. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

My Favorite Films & TV Shows of 2013

A deeply individualized list of the best films and tv shows I watched in 2013.  (Disclaimer: Some of the list came out pre-2013 and I have yet to see all of the big 2013 films.)

This list is a combination of great things I saw in theatres, at home, alone and with friends. I sought out some films based on my adoration of the filmmakers past work (The Grandmaster, Upstream Color). Others I happened upon because of the excellent programming at cinemas like the Siskel Film Center (The Angels’ Share) or just by flipping through Hulu Plus (History is Made at Night).

This is Not a Film: It could have been a heavy and claustrophobic film about filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s struggle against the Iranian government. Instead, it’s an inspiring and at times humorous statement about film, government censorship and even what dads do when they’re stuck at home with their daughter’s iguana.

Stories We Tell: Filmmaker and actress Sarah Polley (Watch: ‘Take This Waltz’) looks at the stories told by her own parents. The less you know about the movie the better, so I’ll say no more (bring a hankie).

Versailles ‘73: American Runway Revolution:  I went to this film because it involved Versailles, fashion and was free with my Facets membership. It was a complete happy surprise. Interviews with models and designers looks back at this fashion show from 1973 where the American designers and African American models brought life and fun to runway shows.

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel: Another fashion doc and like ‘This is Not a Film’ this doc focuses on one person: influential fashion editor Diana Vreeland. It showcases her pure love of fashion, designers and models. It is also directly responsible for me wearing red lipstick.

TV…only one of these shows was watched on broadcast television with the others coming from online sources….so here’s my list of favorite episodic programs

The Hour: Best show to watch while on a MegaBus. Follows the producers of a new 1950s TV news show. Plenty of romantic and political intrigue. Excellent actors, excellent costumes.

Orange is the New Black: Is it fair to assume that everyone has watched this show? If not, block out a long weekend and watch. Netflix is better at TV than TV.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: Stumbled upon this one via the Crackle app on Roku. Works for both my love of comedians and love of cars.

Burning Love: There is no way I would have predicted watching a hilarious show via Terrible email system but good choice in comedy shows. It’s a spoof of all those terrible dating shows with strong comedians in the roles.

The Mindy Project: Each episode is worth repeated viewings for the hilarious throwaway lines given to background characters.


American Hustle: It’s a movie-movie and by that I mean there’s a heavy soundtrack, loads of tracking shots and actors are given room to ACT. Plus, it makes me want to wear wrap-dresses and pouf out my hair.

The Grandmaster: I will watch anything that Wong Kar-Wai does, including this kung-fu film. Watch to see how beautiful he can make fighting in the rain.

The Angels' Share: This film reminded me of the gems I used to find when I watched billions of family-friendly inspiring films as part of my job at the Heartland Film Festival. It’s a good little film and you can watch it with your parents.

Upstream Color: I loved this film but I have trouble recommending it to friends. It is weird but it is the weird I like. If the weird that you also like involves: unclear narratives, fantasy elements in everyday settings and rich colors then you will also love this film. If you need clear structure and defined symbolism, then back away from this one.

History is Made at Night:  My one word description of ‘History is Made at Night’ is: bonkers. It’s a Criterion classic which seems to only be available via Hulu Plus. It stars Jean Arthur and Charles Boyer (France’s answer to Cary Grant before Cary Grant existed). It contains a jealous ex-husband, callous murder, Hollywood’s version of France and at one point Boyer communicates via a face drawn on his hand. BONKERS!

Written on the Wind: Melodrama all over the place. I saw it at the Siskel Film Center and had to buy the DVD. There’s something about a 1950s Technicolored Douglas Sirk melodrama that makes me very happy. Plus, this one includes Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall and Robert Stack (Yes, the America’s Most Wanted Guy).

Monday, December 16, 2013

Movies and TV Shows to Watch the Night Before Your Big Pitch...

The night before your big pitch you will likely be preparing for the next day; practicing your pitch, ironing your clothes and getting to bed early like I will be doing this evening before my big pitch for the Startup Institute Chicago's Exposé day tomorrow.
Movies and television inspire and amuse me, so I've highlighted a few scenes and shows that you can watch to keep you inspired and amused as well!

1.  30 Rock, Season One Episode 14This is the episode where Liz Lemon goes a little nuts and quotes a Designing Woman episode. Sure, your presentation may not boil down to shouting "you do not cross a Sugarbaker woman!" But the passion is contagious and also gives an example of how much crazy is too much crazy.

2.  Almost any episode of Mad Men:  A Don Draper pitch is the smoothest pitch you'll ever see.   Watch any episode and see how the pitch effortlessly flows from his handsome face.  If you attend tomorrow's exposé, just know that I'm Don-Drapering in my head as I give my pitch.

3.  Pride and Prejudice:  Give me any reason to watch this movie and  I will. Preferably, the BBC mini-series version.  Since, we're talking about the night before the presentation and not a whole week, let's just talk about one scene.  Darcy's initial and terrible proposal to Elizabeth Bennett is a great example of what not to do when pitching.  Don't apologize and most importantly don't insult your audience.  Learn from Darcy's mistake.

4.  Girls Just Want to Have Fun:   A 1980s romp featuring dancing, 80s music and young Helen Hunt and Sarah Jessica Parker.  It's ridiculous and will help the stressed part of your brain chill for a minute. You can leave this one on in the background as you get things done.  Also, those crazy teens may even inspire you as you watch them dance towards their dreams.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Movies for a Snowy Day

It's snowing! And it's cold!  So, let's stay inside and watch a movie, shall we?
Here are my movie recommendations for a snowy day....

1.  Do the Right Thing:  My favorite Spike Lee film is set on the hottest day of the year and will warm you up.  Lee does a great job of building heat and tension throughout the film.  

2.  Prohibition:  Ken Burns and Lynn Novick put together the most interesting five and a half hours on booze that you could possibly want.  It's best to break it up into the episodic bits over a long week and weekend.  I also suggest having some gin on hand to toast along to this fascinating complicated time in our history.  

3.  Bridget Jones' Diary:  Romantic Comedy ridiculousness at its 90s best.  Plus, pivotal moments in perfect snowglobe-esque snow.  Good for a time when you want to relax and be entertained.  

4.  Any of the Harry Potter movies:  I recently re-watched the entire Harry Potter series and enjoyed them all over again.  The films get darker and moodier as the series progress but you can always expect to hear that perfect walking-in-the-snow scrunch noise.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

5 Sources for Ethical Gifts

The hunt for a gift that is both good for the recipient and good for the world can be overwhelming.  I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite stores and ethically made items to help you in your search! 

  1.  Greenheart Shop:  My favorite store in Chicago.  This Old Town store and online shop is an excellent source for fair trade, eco-friendly and otherwise ethical goods.  I suggest grabbing a few bars of Divine Chocolate (delicious & good last minute gift) and browsing the jewelry selection.
  2. Andersonville Galleria: Several floors of art and goodies.  Fair Trade fashion brands, Mata Traders and Malia Designs display their wares here.
  3. Toms Marketplace:  Newly launched by Toms shoe this online marketplace for social enterprises has a wide range of gift ideas.  
  4. Field Notes:  Made in the USA and reminiscent of the tiny notebooks my overalls-wearing farming grandfather used to carry.  I pick up their special edition notebooks throughout the year and set a few aside to top off gifts. 
  5. Heshima Kenya scarves:  There are a lot of ethical scarves out there and these hand-dyed beauties are my current favorite.  You can order them via Etsy or hope to run into them at various fairs around the city. 

For more Fair Trade gifts, search Pinterest for #FairTuesday and take a look at my Fair Tuesday board.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

6 Movies to Watch During Your Career Based Existential Crisis!

The following 6 movies are guaranteed to perk you back up after a long day of resume edits, job searching, networking and general what-am-I-doing-with-my-life moments!
  1. Office Space:  For a reminder that memos are the worst, mandatory Hawaiian shirt day should be banned and that no one wants a soulless job. 
  2. The Best of Everything:  1959 New York publishing house, Joan Crawford vamps it up and bright-eyed young women have terrible things happen to them.  Watch it and be happy that this is a campy melodrama and not your reality! 
  3. Broadcast News:  I always want to call this a romantic comedy despite the lack of an easy love story.  It's an amazingly well-written script and a nice look at people who love their jobs. 
  4. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: I cheated, this one is not a movie.  Jerry Seinfeld and his comedian friends meet up for coffee and chats about life, cars and the creative process.  It will motivate you to get moving!
  5. Man Push Cart: Much darker than my other recommendations, this sparse film follows a bit of the life of an immigrant struggling to literally push his coffee cart around NYC and cope with sadness in his past.
  6. That Touch of Mink:  Let's end this list on a ridiculous note.  Doris Day gets splashed by Cary Grant's limo while on her way to a job interview.  Shenanigans ensue, Day's clothes are cute, Grant is handsome.  What else do you need?