Sep 022014
 
With Willie Nelson in Austin

Posing with Willie...something I thought I'd never DO before I moved here! (w/Thea 2012)

To celebrate three years living in Austin, Texas, I have made a list of how it has influenced the things I say, some of which make me laugh they seem so foreign coming out of my mouth!

1. "Oh thank goodness, its cooled down!" - Said while seeing that the temps would only reach 95 that day.

2. "I'll just grab a taco from a truck on the way there" - because you can do this anywhere in Austin, and they're all delicious.

3. "Is that [restaurant, house, store, etc] North? Then I can meet you there between 1pm and 3pm or after 8pm." - Traffic is horrendous in Austin. If you live South, it will impossible to go North during peak times, i.e. 7-9am, 12-1pm or 3-7pm and vice versa. Its a problem but at least we know it.

4. "We can't plan on having our [event, show, wedding, anything happening any where in the vicinity of campus] that weekend, there's a home game." - Meaning UT football. Austin is many things and one of those many things is a Texas college town. Football is like nothing I have ever seen here in Texas, high schools have huge stadiums. Its unreal.

5. "It's raining, so at least there will be no traffic" - Native Texans do not drive in the rain, ever.

6. "We're going to [insert any of 20 super popular eateries where no reservations are taken or you have to stand in an hour long line]? Well, I better eat a snack first" - I will stand in line for over an hour any day for La Barbecue though, its worth it. Speaking of which, I also now classify barbecue places by the meat they specialize in.

7. "This rest stop doubles as a Tornado evacuation shelter" - This is for real, the first time I saw one of the signs, I'll admit I was freaked out. Texas is tornado country and the thunderstorms can quickly escalate, as I recently experienced thanks to the alert piercing through my phone. There are also Tornado sirens in Texas, although I don't think Austin has them, this fact alone freaks me out. I'm still not completely comfortable talking about tornados, but I'm getting used it. I am also still ticked off by the 2 four inch divots in my car hood thanks to hail which is common in summer storms.

8. "I'll most likely just wear a dress and cowboy boots" - Not only did I not own cowboy boots before I moved here, but I certainly would not have worn them with dresses. Now this combo is my winter staple.

9. "I'm a Texan." - I'm pretty sure that as the term "Native Texan" exists, transplants are allowed to call themselves Texans.

10. "Babe, will you get the Gecko out of the house?" - Because they often zoom inside, as do palm bugs, which FYI are huge cockroaches that yes, do fly!! Fortunately, in our house, one of us is in charge of large insect removal (crickets are also a huge problem in October!) and the other reptilian. This is fortunate as reptiles freak me out and Adam is afraid of bugs. But seriously, I am very calm about massive cockroaches when then run in from the porch...that took some getting used to!

The one thing I don't say? "Y'all". I still use "you guys" which instantly gives away that I'm a Yankee (which I also never say). Thanks for giving me a broader vocabulary Texas, I love living here!

Sep 012014
 
La Canzone Del Mare: Nadja Bender, Dalianah Akerion And Kinga Rajzak By Boo George For Vogue Japan October 2014

La Canzone Del Mare: Nadja Bender, Dalianah Akerion And Kinga Rajzak By Boo George For Vogue Japan October 2014

I'm spending most of the day in the studio today...what? Did you really think I would have it any other way? I'm actually really enjoying the quiet that comes from a holiday on a Monday. The lack of emails, calls and things that come up that have to be dealt with right this very minute!! is amazing During the last few weeks of August, when the internet is a sleepy place as everyone fits in one last vacation and gets ready for the hustle of fall, be it back to school or to a regular work schedule, I had a crazy idea to get some major behind the scenes work done. It is coming to close just in time for early noise of the holidays but there are still a few loose ends to tie up. A quiet weekend was exactly what I needed to sweep up the last tasks and get myself ready for the months ahead. Speaking of planning for the busy season, it seems my sub conscious has also decided that preparing means buying endless notebooks, pads of paper and the like because I have been hoarding these things like crazy! Does anyone else do that?

The weekend has not been all work though, I spent the afternoon visiting with cousins on Sunday, had girls nights both Thursday and Sunday nights and went for a wonderful run on Friday evening. But mostly I have been treating this weekend like I too am heading back to school tomorrow. Which it seems is exactly what I needed as I feel calmer than I have in weeks. Hope you had exactly the Labor Day you wanted and enjoyed every minute of it as much as I did!

Aug 272014
 
Mike & Ikes (pink ones!), mini gummi bears and nerds.

Mike & Ikes (pink ones!), mini gummi bears, nerds, blueberries and boba over mango and pomegranate sorbets

Frozen yogurt places that let you pile on your own topping are one of my favorite places on earth. For obvious reasons...mainly how they make it completely acceptable to consume massive amount of sugar for no good reason. Due to my lactose issues, I have to make sure they're the good kind of fro-yo place, the ones who have one or two dairy free options, which thankfully most do. When we moved to our current house my secret favorite thing about it was that it was less than a mile away from my fav place to go in Austin, Tutti Frutti. Adam and I actually found time to have fro-yo dates once a week last summer because of that, and then one day it was gone. I may have wept a little on the inside that day.

Nerds over mango and strawberry sorbet

Nerds, strawberries and boba over mango and strawberry sorbet

We tried a few other places around the city, but they were never the same. There is one place that's almost great, but they never have sour gummi worms, so I refuse to go there often on principal. While on this journey we did discover that there are dairy and vegan ice cream options in abundance in Austin, and we enjoy those occasionally, but alas...no toppings so we don't go often. And then one day while I was dropping off a package at a UPS by my house I parked in front of Yo Way. Its basically the same layout as Tutti Frutti and the options are even better, there are NERDS! Nerds and sorbet are a very unexpected match made in heaven. As its August and often 105 degrees out, Adam and I have resumed our weekly fro-yo dates...Monday nights you can usually find us in a sugar coma as a result.

The day I found the dividers!!

The day I found the dividers!! On the left: mango and the right: strawberry. Boba, berries and gummi bears on top

I am a pure sugar fro-yo person. I use sorbet as my base and pile on boba, fresh berries and candy of the fruit flavor and pure sugar variety. Sometimes I mix up the candy or fruit selections, but if I stay too far from this palette, I'm always disappointed. Adam goes for cereal, cake, cookies or fruit. We never even consider sharing for this reason, even with the cool dividers. So how do you take your fro-yo?

 

Aug 252014
 

Running

I have accepted that in order to not be a complete emotional wreck, I need to exercise. I also have accepted that I prefer aggressive exercise. Punching, kicking, running, jumping...all acceptable and most were in my current video based routines, well accept for running. Then about a year ago, I was having dreams that I was out running, the more stressed out I seemed to be, the more I ran in my dreams. I hadn't gone running in probably 5 years, so this was pretty strange, and yet I found myself starting to crave it when I was awake as well. My video work outs just were not giving me something that my subconscious sensed that I needed. During all of this dream running, we moved into the house we're in now and I was presented with a neighborhood that had consistent sidewalks and I figured maybe it was time to try running again. Fast forward to present day and I have been loving it. I only run about 4 miles at a time but I enjoy it so much that I have done only a handful of videos this past year as I always choose running over them on my work out days.

Austin never gets too cold to run in the winter (although one year I did run right through the winter in NY...it was brutal, but its totally doable) and I prefer running when its chilly out anyway. It does get hot here though. July was surprisingly mild but August, oof, most days its still in the triple digits when its time to go for a run (40 minted before sunset) and after one terrible day of mid run dehydration, I just can't do it if its still over 100 out. After a few weeks of only running once a week, I decided there was no other choice but to put videos back into rotation. When I was last doing them often, Jillian Michaels and Kelly Coffey-Meyer were my two favs, so Friday I opted to do KCM's Train Like a Contender conditioning workout. Its basically what a boxer would do for cardio in the gym...jumping jacks, boxing moves, jump squats, that sort of stuff. Most of the videos I choose are similar in style, nothing with ton of dance moves...and I'm not into that Zumba stuff, so there was nothing I hadn't done before. However, what I immediately and painfully recalled was that the same muscles are not used in running as they are in these moves and owowowowowowow. I could hardly open a door yesterday.

There's a great lesson to be learned from my pain though, its really important to vary workouts. Mix it up, try something new. You'd be amazed at the muscles you may not be using if you're doing the same workouts all the time. Its actually one of the best things about videos, if you have a bunch of them and mix them up, you are constantly getting a different work out. I now vow to make sure that I get in at least one video a week. Just to keep me on my toes.

Whats your favorite work out? Do you mix it up or are you in a rut too?

Aug 222014
 

A few months ago I was looking for a way to procrastinate in the studio and thought it would be hilarious to photo a necklace on Faye. Little did I know how well she would like appear to like wearing it! A series was indeed born and every Friday we find a new necklace to wear and a new place to pose. She hates it a little less each week but the poses are basically how she freezes in place until I remove the jewelry. Luckily it just makes her appear more stoic. I usually end up posting them in a few places, but they always go to instagram first, #manictroutfaye because of course there's a hashtag!

Faye in Manic Trout

How Faye is wearing Manic Trout today: as she has a penchant for zebra stripes, it was no surprise that she'd feel regal in the Strange Overtones Necklace. Even for just a nap on her lounge, she is rocking that necklace!

Faye in Manic Trout

How Faye is wearing Manic Trout today: Green World Necklace perfect for lounging on her studio sheepskin in.

Faye in Manic Trout

How Faye is wearing Manic Trout today: looking fabulous in the Rock Lobster Necklace while catching some rays.

Faye in Manic Trout

How Faye is wearing Manic Trout today: Feels Like Rain Necklace which is perfect for bring cooped up in the studio due to rain today. Faye does not do water, but she does do fish jewelry!

Faye in Manic Trout

How Faye is wearing Manic Trout today: she's in a matching mood with the Green Neon Statement Necklace and Bracelet.

Faye in Manic Trout

How Faye is wearing Manic Trout today: Looking less than amused in the Slow Ride Necklace proving that a fuchsia turtle necklace goes perfectly with bitch face.

Faye in Manic Trout

How Faye is wearing Manic Trout today: Looking like a boss in the Rich Girls Necklaces!

Faye in Manic Trout

How Faye Is Wearing Manic Trout today: showing us all how it's done. This lady of leisure takes her afternoons seriously and knows the importance of a good lawn sprawl. Luckily she's wearing the Mustang Sally Necklace so as soon as she feels rested, Faye will both look and feel ready for whatever the evening brings.

 

Aug 212014
 

IMG_2357

One of the hardest parts of working from home is that you don't have colleagues. Besides the inability to delegate, ask for help and share the work of a big project, the issue is really the loneliness. Granted social media helps this a great deal as you are now able to at least easily interact with people in real time, but there is no one there to relate to. When you work with a group of people, there is always someone to feel your pain of a crazy deadline, celebrate big wins and bounce ideas off of. That is what I miss the most when I am in my studio. However, the awesome thing about life is that there are always other people going through exactly what you are, you just have to find them. I have found such a group and we meet once a month on Wednesday nights at my house and over delicious snacks and gummi kabobs, we talk. The idea is to talk about business...share what we're going though, ask for advice, be held accountable for goals, be pushed further along in what we do by people who know and care about us. But who am I kidding, there is much more than just that going on! We chat about our lives as much about work and are equally as helpful to one another with dealing with personal issues as we are with business.

Gummi Kabobs

I crave these monthly get togethers and sometimes I don't know how I'd get through the month without knowing that as soon as I let them all know whats going on, it will already start to feel better. Well, that and Gummi Kabobs.

Aug 202014
 

Le Barbecue, Austin TX

As I live in the city that everyone is currently obsessed with, I am often asked a lot of things about living in Austin. One of the most asked questions is where to get the best barbecue. This is a valid question as Austin has such incredible options in this category and that the top 5 places constantly appear on the food network, shows like Jimmy Kimmel and are frequented by celebrities, famous chefs and even Obama on his last trip through town. Fun fact, Obama is the only person who has ever been allowed to cut the line at Franklins. Anyway, I personally, hold my allegiance to La Barbecue.

Le Barbecue, Austin TX

Austin is an incredibly dog friendly city and there are often furry friends in line.

Since I was first introduced to this amazingness by my fellow foodie friend Matt, they have relocated three times. As La Barbecue is a food truck, this is not all that big of a deal and I have happily followed it to every location. Their newest home is off of E. Cesar Chavez near 35 and they have joined Hey Cupcake, Garbos, Ms P's Electric Cock, Fishey Bizness and fyi in the Good Life Food Park. Word on the street is that La Barbecue was wooed with the promise of the space to add two additional pits to keep up with their growing popularity and I have to admit that today the line did seem to move a little faster and the food last a little longer than it has in past visits.

Le Barbecue, Austin TX

The kiddie pool gives you the option to take a much needed break from the 100+ temps while waiting on line

As always, the free kegs on weekends were flowing freely and even though I was sipping my travel coffee, the beer was making it easier than ever to make new friends and chat away the wait. The live band playing off to the side and the aroma of slow cooked in meat in the air kept smiles on our faces and thank fully only the beef ribs were sold out by the time we made it to the front of the line. The truck opens at 11am and it not uncommon for everything to be sold out within a few hours. I have arrived at 1pm on a saturday to be greeted with the sorry folks, all sold out for today sign already up.

Le Barbecue, Austin TX

There were three of us dining today and we shared generous portions of brisket, pork ribs, smoked turkey, hot guts sausage and buttermilk bacon potato salad. We added sides of bread (well, not me), pickles and onions and what a feast it was. I am still drooling over the happy memories of that brisket...and the sausage...and the ribs...oh its all amazing, who am I kidding! If you are one of the lucky ones to live here, or if you just plan on a visit, I highly recommend that La Barbecue is on your list of must eat at places, just make sure you're in line by 11:30 at the latest!

Aug 192014
 

A few months ago I wrote a post about trying to figure out what I want to happen here. I spent a great deal of time thinking about this and confusing myself a little more. Then I stopped blogging for about a month. Which made me sad every day that I didn't write anything. Then a pretty cool thing happened at Manic Trout that I can't talk about but was only a brief behind the scenes moment anyway, but it was the catalyst for a lot more behind the scenes conversations. Most of these were with a new friend who is a hand bag designer and our new friendship, which is a direct result from what I can't talk about, actually led to another new contact, who I also can't talk about. See, this is why it's so hard to blog...because I can't talk about anything!! But seriously, as a result of the third thing I can't talk about, I have decided to give Manic Trout it's own blog. A place where all of the very specific jewelry news can go. This also means that this blog, which started in 2006 as the Manic Trout blog, is no longer linked to Manic Trout and free to do whatever it wants. This is both liberating and kind of scary, as being untethered often is. I don't think much will change here, besides my actually writing and posting things. Both those things might actually happen now. Well, that's the goal anyway.

Aug 182014
 

I have finally thrown in the towel on book shopping at the goodwill up the street from me. It took almost a year to accept that the people who are donating the books to that location do not have the same reading preferences that I do. Waaaaaaaay to much fluff. I found myself enjoying only what I would read from the diminishing pile of books that I had brought with me from NY or bought from the goodwill near where I used to live and just wasting my time on the goodwill books. Even though I usually read about 50 books a year, thats not that many compared to the number of books published every year. It was becoming sad that I was reading books that I had no interest in, simply for convenience sake. Oh how I miss the ongoing book sale at my old local library! The beginning of July I decide that if I ordered used books from Amazon, I could find most of the titles I wanted for $4 each, which includes shipping. Its only $1 more than at goodwill and still half of what I'd pay at a place like half price books. It made sense to be able to buy books I loved. So now every month around the 15th, I order 4-5 more books for the month ahead...and I love everything I read, which is pretty awesome.

Biblio-files July 2014

This months books were a mix between what I had and the 4 books I ordered for the month, I'm hoping that the Jennifer Weiner book in the stack is the last chick lit in my reading list for awhile!

1. Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap. I actually have had this book for years and for some reason waited this long to get around to reading it. It's a collection of short stories about Thailand and was wonderful. Heartbreaking in parts but the best thing about short stories is that you move on fast.

2. Candy Girl by Diablo Cody. I'll admit that the first chapter made me want to smack the pretentiousness right out of the author, but her writing calmed down and she stopped using words that were ridiculous for what she was trying to say after she seemed to get it out of her system. And then I was just enthralled! It's a captivating memoir chronicalling the year she works as a stripper in the midwest no reason other than she herself is intrigued by that world. Not the first account I have read about stripping, but the first from the perspective of a middle class girl from a happy childhood who did it out of curiosity. I've been telling people about this book for over a month now, if it is of any interest to you, absolutely read it.

3. Brothel by Alexa Albert. Um I seemed to be on a roll with the sex worker theme this month, but wow, I loved this book. Not from the perspective of someone who worked in the industry, but instead investigated and written by an outsider. The author explored the famous and now defunct Mustang Ranch in Nevada while it was still operational. Excellent book and I highly recommend it. More of a journalistic approach than Candy Girl above, this is a fascinating read and I want everyone I know to read it so we can talk about it.

4. Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner. The queen of chick lit writes another one. I'm sure it was fine, I can't remember a thing about it.

5. Stiff by Mary Roach. A few years ago, my friend Jess told me about this book, Bonk which is all about sex...or rather, "coupling". The next day I was perusing the used book sale at the library and there it was! I was delighted, bought it and have still yet to read it. Then a few months ago I was reading a blog post about recent favorite books and saw Stiff, which the blogger mentioned was by the author of Bonk (which I have still not read for some reason). So I thought it was about time I began reading these wondrous books by Mary Roach. This book was amazing! Perhaps not for the squeamish as its about cadavers, but so intriguing! Did you know that 50% of people who have themselves listed as organ donators on their drivers license are actually denied this when they die by their families? If you at all found that interesting, read this book.

6. Heads In Beds by Jacob Tomsky. One mans experience working in the hotel industry. As someone who has spent so much time in the restaurant industry, it was no surprise that I was into this one. The author does his best to offer tips for making the most of your next stay at a hotel the best it can be as well, so its not only interesting but actually helpful!

If you have seen me in the past few moths, chances are I have talked about either brothels, strippers, cadavers or the hotel industry. For some reason I was craving a good deal of non fiction and I was not disappointed in any of it. Read any good books lately? I'd love to know what they are!

Jul 302014
 
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It may look like I'm living the life...but the reality involves more crying

All month I have struggled with if I should blog about the behind the scenes of the last few weeks, if I should write about how overwhelmed I am feeling with work and life or if it would just be obnoxious whining. Everyday I look at the blog and decided not to write about it and then decided that I have nothing other then this to say though so I walk away. Then I reread this post about where I want the blog to go and realized that the bloggers I admire the most would be talking about it. Also that if I never wrote all this down, there was a chance I would never blog again. So here I am. Part of the reason of why I have not written anything is that some of what has been going on is not my story. I feel ok with talking about anything that is my own tale to tell, but parts may be vague as they creep into someone else's story, please understand that.

July which is usually filled with slow days and ample downtime to prepare for the busy season has been the opposite this year. I am crossing my fingers that August gives me a week of idle time so I can catch my breath because right now I am in need of it. We just returned from an unplanned, last minute 3 day trip which involved 2 days of driving with one very squished span of time in the middle where I was trying to simultaneously spend time with a sick family member and work. I never even washed my face that middle day and was still texting apologies to the printers at 11pm that I needed everything that sent to them that evening pretty much rushed because in the chaos of what has been going on, I got the deadline wrong by a week so everything had to done asap. This was our second last minute 3 day trip this month and even though there were little pockets of watching the sun set over the water or even getting to walk on the beach for 20 minutes once, I have come home exhausted, behind in work and stressed out to the point of random bursts of crying at random times. There are good and bad parts about being opposites of your spouse in many ways. In my marriage, the good parts always outweigh the bad, but the bad sometimes can be horrible such as when one spouse has emotional spontaneity impulses that win out over the must plan in advance because I own a business spouse when the health of a loved one is in play. Its been a tough summer.

In the two weeks in between these excursions, work took an unexpected twist and I found myself in major crunch time for a monster wholesale order. A bit of back story there, I am one of the top five sellers out of over a hundred designers with one of my wholesalers. When we began working together, they would send me a weekly purchase order of what they sold the prior week and I would ship everything off to them. This however meant that all of the people ordering from us designers (as opposed to what the wholesaler manufactures themselves) had to wait for four weeks to get their orders. A few months ago, the company decided that in order to sell a higher volume of the top sellers, they needed to reduce the ship time. So we switched to traditional drop shipping...which I hated as it meant a great deal more day to day work in the studio and filling all of the orders each day was taking up a huge chunk of time. Luckily the company decided after few months of this that they wanted the ship time to become even faster (this will be key in maximizing sales, especially around the holiday shopping time, which I am all for) so about month ago, another change was decided on and new contracts were drawn up. They would now send a purchase order every ten weeks for ten weeks worth of jewelry and if anything ran out, send mini purchase orders during that time. Sounded awesome, I was thrilled. I assured them that no problem, of course I could fill these orders within two weeks. Then I received the first purchase order for 1300 pieces of jewelry. 957 of these being rings which are made to order and which also happen to be the only jewelry I design that I have to make myself for the wire wrapping to be consistent. So yeah, crutch time.

Fortunately, after the Real Simple gift guide chaos of 2008, I basically began to rebuild Manic Trout with this level of volume in mind so I was ready. I spent two days planning it all out, assessing what I had in my inventory, what materials I already had, what I needed, ordering materials (which required phone calls to suppliers figuring out how to get everything here fast, but not so fast that it would cost a fortune), printing the specific labels all of the jewelry would need to have on it and so forth. I calculated what had to be made each day and then got started on making what had to be made. Renee thankfully spent a few evenings and one very long night offering up her skills and accomplishing the very lengthy preparation of all of the paperwork that had to accompany this order. That alone was such a huge life saver (and why she os one of my favorite people)! It was an intense amount of work as I was still running the normal day to day business as well but thankfully it was July so not as bad as it could have been...well or as it will be when the next ten week order comes in. I think the smartest thing I did in those two weeks though was still fit in a run three days a week. Every time I went for a run, I came back feeling so much better and instantly thought OMG, I'm learning! You'll be happy to know that I not only survived the order but I actually shipped it off ahead of schedule.

There were however a great deal of big projects that were sidelined while I was doing the order. One being that my Canadian showroom had sent me the prep list for the Toronto Gift Show in August and I needed to prep all of the line sheets, post cards etc. I had created the US version of the line sheets already, but all of the prices needed to be changed to CAD and it all had to go off to the printer and be back in time to ship. So immediatly following the shipping of the big order, I caught up on day to day orders and got started on this. Then I realized that I was at the deadline for a great deal of big magazine pitches, so I had to drop everything and get to those and well, I basically jumped right into 50 things like this without taking a breath. Which brings us back to this weekend when I was finally getting caught up and I was given 12 hours notice that we were going. I feel so lucky to have a great deal of opportunity and wonderful things going on with work, but I am really crossing my fingers that next week I can finally catch my breath. I have started to dream about a vacation planned months in advance where I go some where alone, there is no cell service and I don't have to talk to anybody. I think I may have just described a monastery, that's where I am...dreaming of monasteries.

So apologies on not checking in this July although usually I am complaining that its so slow and how much I detest the slow time of summer on the blog everyday. So perhaps it was nice to be spared of all of that? Anyway, here's to August and a chance for us all to catch our breath!