Archive for July, 2009

Moments with Words

July 31, 2009

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The other day, I took myself on an evening stroll to meet my friend for dinner in Park Slope.  My schedule for that day just happened to work itself out so that I was left with a nice chunk of time to take a leisurely walk.  So I did.  The bizarre summer monsoon that New York has been experiencing lately was a potential threat to my walk, but fortunately it stayed dry for me for those 45 minutes – though, it should be noted that the thick heat and heavy moisture in the air made it feel like I was walking through a jacuzzi.  A jacuzzi that drowned brownstones and strollers.  

On my walk, I ran into this small piece of graffiti:

IMG_0207 I really liked it.  I can’t exactly say why it was so arresting to me in that moment.  Maybe it was the fuchsia.  Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for ellipses.  I’m not really sure.  But the sentiment, “I’m getting closer and closer to everywhere…”, just rang so true and simple to me.  That sentence found a way to apply itself to all aspects of my life, like a magazine horoscope, or a vague fortune cookie does.  I like how it can be read so literally and metaphorically, like, “yeah, if I’m lost, no matter where I end up, I’m getting close to something.  Maybe not the place I was initially intending to reach, but another place, a new unknown place, so that’s okay.”

 Jen has always been very wise when it comes to advice, and since our friendship has grown, she has really helped me embrace the “Let the path show itself” philosophy, both in life and in our new baking business.  As a person who gets off on crossing  through to-do lists, and doesn’t like to let go of control very often, I really benefit from this kind of Zen mentality.  Every once in a while, when I allow myself to slip into that state of mind, I find that I’m better for it: my shoulders relax, my eyebrows un-furrow, and my mind is clear and calm to work on whatever is in front of me at that moment.  It takes some conscious effort to remind myself to go to that mental place, but once I’m there, it’s a much easier place to hang out.  My new short-term goal is to remember that I’m always getting closer to everywhere (metaphorically-speaking).

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Pup Cakes

July 30, 2009
photo found on ownedbypugs.com

photo found on ownedbypugs.com

I just have to share…

A few minutes ago, my co-worker opened up to me, and shared a very unlikely dream she had a few nights ago.  If you knew her personality, you’d understand why it was unlikely.  In a nutshell: she’s more often than not a stress case,  comes from a military background, works harder than anyone I’ve ever known, and employs the catchphrase, “Oh for f*ck’s sake…” on a daily basis.  While our differences are a wonder to me, we do, however, connect on a few key points: “LOST”, dark fudgy chocolate, she has a great sense of humor, and we both share the tendency to write exorbitantly long e-mails.  And this is worth mentioning: she has also admitted to me that her dreams are usually dark and about battles and other scary stuff (yikes).  And so now, I must share with you…

M’s Most Unlikely Dream, As Told To Me 5 Minutes Ago In Our Office:

So, I was getting out of a pool, and walking into a restaurant in my towel, and all of a sudden I hear a little (meek voice), “Excuse me, excuse me, watch out, coming through”, and I look down, and it’s a little talking cocker spaniel.  So I move out of the way, and behind the cocker spaniel is a parade of these little cupcake animals, and they are making their way through the restaurant, floating just above the ground, like in “Fantasia”.  And they’re called “Pup Cakes”!  And they hop on up to all the tables, and they’re looking at me and smiling and blinking their big eyes, saying, (meek voice), “Pick me!  Pick me!…”  And I say to them, “Well, I can’t really imagine eating any of you while you’re still moving.”

And then that was basically it.  Don’t you feel closer to her now?  I sure do.

Our Sweets at an NYC Summer Street Fair!

July 30, 2009

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If you live in New York, surely you’ve either walked by or walked through an NYC street fair at some point during your city exploring.  To me, these bazaars that take over different city streets every week, are famous for featuring a wide variety of vendors.  These vendors range from people selling watermelon juice, to women selling their lines of jewelry, to the “2 for $10 sunglasses” booth, to the guy peddling packets of white socks and undershirts (there’s one at every street fair!).  For some reason, that Fruit of the Loom guy always seems to be the most popular.  I guess people are shopping practically these days.

Among all the smoothie stations, and I Heart NY souvenir booths, I was selling our Fanny & Jane sweets this past Saturday to any passersby with a sweet tooth.  New Yorkers and tourists were out and about, and everyone seemed to be enjoying this west village edition of the Summer Street Fair.  The forecast for Friday and Sunday was slated to be a rainy mess, and Saturday was predicted to be a beautiful, clear and warm day.  And It was a (wonderfully) sunny day, and (not so wonderfully) one of the most humid days of summer so far.  But thanks to a big shader, myself and our delectable edibles were kept nice n cool.

So perhaps not the most practical purchase of the street fair (if you’re talkin “practical”, a 6 pak of tube socks wins), but definitely delicious, our Fanny & Jane booth was hopping!  Our chipwich minis got a lot of attention, and our red velvet cupcakes were the first of our items to sell out.

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Our involvement with this particular street fair is due to my friend (& new Fanny & Jane fan!), the wonderfully talented and generous (& new mother!), Chef Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez.  Heather is the owner of my favorite Indian restaurant in the city, Lassi, and her colorful path through the culinary world has been a great inspiration to me.  She has a vast knowledge of all things spicy and sweet, which has been a huge help to me in getting Fanny & Jane started, and it was she who suggested in the first place, “Why don’t you try sharing a booth with Lassi at an upcoming street fair?”.  And so just like that, we were selling our red velvet cake bites alongside their mango lassis this past Saturday!  I had such a blast, and the pairing turned out to be a winning combo.  I can speak from experience when I say that it is quite a treat to wash down a mini chipwich with a roasted peach lassi.

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Hello cupcakes.  The newest addition to the Fanny & Jane family is our red velvet cupcake.  The street fair was the first time that these little guys were available to the public!  Since we were just testing them out, I only brought a few with me.  Underestimating the power of the red velvet cupcake, we were sold out of them within the first few hours of the fair.  Next time we’ll be sure to bring more, because if there’s one thing that seems to melt the heart of even the toughest New Yorker, it’s a cupcake.

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Like our new display tray?  Since starting this company, I’ve been slowly building my arsenal of adorable platters, trays, and cake stands.  I can’t wait to host a cheese and brownies party – I’ve got my platters at the ready!  (And how cute is this one?  It’s like the cake bite is giving a little “Broo-ooklyn!” shout out).

Thanks to Heather and Colleen for helping everything run so smoothly.  And I must give some lovin’ to Shawna and David, the rockstars of the day.  Since Jen was out of town and I was in charge of setting up and breaking down our portion of the booth, Shawna and David came to the rescue as my Sherpas of Sweets – they helped me haul a cooler and several heavy bags of baked goods and props from our apartment in Prospect Heights to Greenwich Ave. and 10th Street in Manhattan, on one of the hottest and stickiest days of the summer, despite one of them nursing a hangover, and while maneuvering inconvenient subway service changes.  I truly couldn’t have done it with you, friends!

Sit and Be

July 29, 2009

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I realize that it’s probably the most interesting time to blog when one’s life is very busy.  Ironically though, when my life is very busy, I find I barely have any time to blog at all.  It’s the constant struggle for this blogger. But fear not, even though I haven’t actually put up any posts these past few days, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking about all the things I can blog about when I get the chance.  So get ready, because I’ve got 6 days worth of blog topics and photo goodies stored up to post, and I’m just bursting at the internet seams to share them.

I know that my recent lack of web presence wasn’t weighing on anyone’s mind nearly as much as it was weighing on my own, but nonetheless, I just wanna say thanks for coming back!

There’s a LOT of big stuff that’s gone on in my life over the past few days – like the fact that I got my food handler’s license in the mail!, and that my friend and roommate Lisa moved out of our Brooklyn apartment and is about to embark on a 6-month long adventure around the world, and my brother moved in, and Fanny & Jane participated in our first NY street fair…  But all those things will be blogged about in due time.

So I’ll just start with a little anecdote about a good decision I made last Wednesday evening.

Last Wednesday evening I found myself in a familiar predicament – I had some time to kill between the end of my work day and the beginning of my next commitment (in this case, it was a Harvard Sailing Team performance at Caroline’s on Broadway), but it wasn’t necessarily enough time for me to commute home to Brooklyn, relax a little, and then come back to the city.  Because of the way my schedule often works, with rehearsals and various other random commitments, I frequently find myself in this situation: I have random blocks of 2 or 2 1/2 hours of time in the middle of my day.  Usually, I’ll use this time to get stuff done, like Fanny & Jane shopping, or updating my planner, which I obsessively fill out, (sometimes weeks after an event), but I’ll get more into that some other time.  Or, if I’m lucky, and the weather is nice, sometimes I’ll perch somewhere outside and read, or…update my planner.  Fortunately, the office where I work 3 days of the week, is in the Flatiron District, so whenever I wanna just sit on a park bench for a minute, I walk right across the street to the lovely Madison Square Park.

As Jen mentioned on her blog, I had two Fanny & Jane events to prepare for all by myself last week (actually, Jen helped me with a ton of prep, but it was up to me to oversee the events and be the sole F & J representative), and on Wednesday night, just a few nights before Fanny & Jane’s first experience at a NY Street Fair, I felt there were many things to worry about, lists to write, items to check off said lists, and groceries to shop for.  But, very unlike me, I made the choice to ignore those things for the night.  I have to say, I was very proud of myself.  I made up my mind that I would not do any work, be good to myself by giving my brain and body a rest, and be fine with just wasting a little bit of time.  So I flexed my new “just sit and be” muscles at Madison Square Park.

Oh, the line for a burger at Shake Shack is literally an hour-long wait?  Go for it, self!  There’s nothing else to do, or nowhere else ya gotta be for a few hours.

I indulged in pleasures that I don’t always allow myself – simple things that make me happy, like sitting outside by myself, listening to an outdoor concert, people watching, and eating a Shack Burger with extra pickles.

We Gave Her a Big Tip

July 22, 2009

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Great food.  Great service.  Greatest name.

Harvard Sailing Team at Caroline’s on Broadway Tonight!

July 22, 2009

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This is a photo of the end of a Harvard Sailing Team show, oh, three years ago?  It was our big (Caroline’s on) Broadway debut!  And not uncommon for us, we’re singing our hearts out in some big cheesy song & dance number.  

Come see us perform at Caroline’s on Broadway again tonight!  I can promise you that we’ll be sporting different haircuts than those pictured above.  Comedian Jeff Kreisler (who recently reviewed us for IFC.com here!) invited us to perform 20 minutes of our favorite sketches as part of his show, “Get Rich Cheating”.  So come on down to Caroline’s tonight, we’d love to see you there!  We even have a discount code, if that sweetens the deal.  Here are the details:

Tonight, Weds., July 22nd @ 9:30
Caroline’s on Broadway (1626 Broadway, off 50th Street)
Use the discount code CHEAT for special priced tickets!
Click here to buy advanced tickets.
not joking, the high point of my career.

not joking, the high point of my career.

Fanny & Jane at Fashion Week Party!

July 21, 2009

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Fanny & Jane made its Soho debut!  A few weeks ago, Jen and I were approached about bringing some of our Fanny & Jane goodies to a party happening at the chic and funky Soho boutique, Operations.  The party was last night, and it was a wild success!  We were in good company – the party was sponsored by Sam Adams, Nespresso, Inocente Tequila, Prometheus Springs, and there were hot dogs too.  The Fanny & Jane sweets were a hot ticket, and we ran out quicker than we expected!  I had such a blast meeting a ton of new people and eating yummy food and even shopping a little (woops!).  With the DJ spinning great dance-worthy tunes all night, the constant stream of people coming in and out of the store, and my natural desire to shmooze it up, it was hard for me not to be constantly buzz buzz buzzing around (especially since Nespresso was providing delicious coffee drinks throughout the night, and I got more than my fair share of caffeination).  But in my few moments of calm throughout the evening, when I wasn’t replenishing the cookie tray or obsessively fixing my hair (the party was for fashion people, after all), I was able to snap a few photos.  Enjoy!

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Apparently, it’s a monthly tradition for Operations to host summer BBQs on the sidewalk in front of the store.  Brilliant.  So, last night was no exception.  In fact, it was even a little fancier and more extravagant than usual because it was one of the owner’s birthdays.

As the night wore on, and the grill got goin’, the party started to spill into the street.  It was the perfect summer night to chill outside with friends, a Sam Adams summer ale and a mini chocolate chip cookie.

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Unfortunately, Jen was unable to make it to the party.  So we enlisted the help of our dear friend to help with set-up and for shmooze support.  For all intents and purposes, last night’s sweets were brought to you by Fanny & Jane & Adam.

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It was pointed out to me early on in the evening, that our mini chocolate chip cookies were the perfect taste and size for dunking into Nespresso‘s espresso drinks!  I made friends with Josh, the Nespresso guy,  and while I was gushing to him about the deliciousness of their cappuccinos, I found out that he was a big fan of our red velvet cake bites.  Their coffee drinks were so good, they even got my boyfriend to try some – he’s more of a Hot Chocolate guy.  Of course, the particular drink he tried was more of an ice cream float than your traditional macchiato.  I also found out that Nespresso is a fairly new business, trying to get their name out there.  It was interesting to talk to him and hear where they are in their process, and maybe there will be a Nespresso/Fanny & Jane collaboration in the future!  To me, coffee and sweets are always a winning combo.

I also met one of the owners of another new small food/drink business, Prometheus Springs, a new spicy refreshing beverage.  Now usually, when I hear “spicy”, I run the other way – I’m a wuss, and I’m always “that girl” at the Thai restaurant who asks for things as mild as possible.  But feeling brave last night, and encouraged by the owner that the drink gets less spicy the more you drink it, I decided to try one of the flavors.  I opted for the Pomegranate Black Pepper (I wasn’t feeling daring enough for the Lychee Wasabi), and it certainly had a kick, but I didn’t die, and I actually quite enjoyed it!  He reminded me that sometimes a little bit of spice can be a good thing, it helps you sweat out toxins.  And after all the sweet treats I’ve been inhaling lately, maybe sweating out a bit of those extra chocolate toxins was a good idea.

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The DJs set up their turntables on a wooden plank, spanning across the tops of the dressing rooms.  The view from inside the dressing room was quite adorable.

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The few remaining mini chocolate chip cookies!

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The last of the cake bites for the night!

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This is Jesse.  Him and Mika got us involved in this whole fabulous party in the first place.  (We first met Mika when she tasted our brownies during one of our Wednesday night Sweets Sales at the PIT).  Jesse had the idea to showcase our goodies on the long, gorgeous glass table in the middle of the store, and he was so helpful with setting up, and made the whole event run so smoothly.  Thanks for everything, Jesse and Mika!

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Empty trays!  Not a crumb left to nibble on.

Thanks to all the friends who came to party and support (and to help me carry the cooler home)!

A Weekend So Far

July 19, 2009

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It’s been a lovely sunny (HOT) weekend in New York, and I’ve been making sure to soak up the summer sun as much as I can while also being productive.  Lately, I’ve had a problem relaxing, and I can’t escape the anxious feeling that there’s always some work I should be doing – some e-mail I should be writing, some batter I should be making, some business cards I should be printing… and ever since starting this small business with Jen, the weekends are no longer my own – the weekend is prime time (2 full “free” days!) to run Fanny & Jane errands and bake.  But this weekend I was making it a priority to calm my inner crazy, anxious, mile-a-minute mind, and just let things happen as they come up.  And so far, it’s been quite wonderful.  The crazy thing is that I genuinely enjoy organizing, cleaning up, getting things in order, and checking items off the list.  It makes me feel good.  But, not as good as, say, sitting in Prospect Park with an ice cream cone.  That’s for sure.  So, it’s been nice not to beat myself up these past few days for not being as productive as I feel I “should be” (not always an easy task for me).  I mean, that said, I’m still being pretty busy and productive – I performed with Harvard Sailing Team last night, delivered an F & J order, ran errands for an event on Monday, and made a batch of cookie dough.  But I’ve also made sure to spend quality time with friends, visit a few bars, and see a late-night movie last night, knowing full well that I had to wake up early this morning to get some stuff done.  Oh, and I also bought a new pair of shoes!  

I find that I make the same personal resolution around this time every summer: to take advantage of this great city I live in.  To explore new restaurants, parks, and neighborhoods, and to participate in fun free summer events.  It certainly hasn’t been an easy task with all this Fanny & Jane work Jen and I have been doing (she recently said to me, “I honestly don’t remember what I did with my time before we started this business.”  I couldn’t remember either.  More movies?), but as two people who have the self-awareness that sunshine makes us happy, Jen and I know that “getting out” is integral to our happiness and thus, the success of the business.  So there!          

Now I’m on my way to see a matinee with my friend Marina, produced by 13P, a theater company that Jen and I have worked with, sweets-wise, but more on that soon.  Thanks for stopping by, have a great day!

Our First Cupcakes

July 16, 2009

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Introducing the first Fanny & Jane cupcakes!  Red velvet* with cream cheese frosting, of course.

We were asked to make these cupcakes for a custom order (some people want cupcakes on their birthday…and I don’t blame ’em), so they aren’t an “official” member of our line of sweets just yet.  But I had such a fun time baking and frosting them, that I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw more of these coming out of our kitchen soon!  I’d love to keep playing with cupcake decorating – something simple (no plastic clown heads), but fun (bring on the sprinkles).

I’ve consumed a lot of cupcakes in my day, but I can’t remember the last time I actually made cupcakes, and boy are they just the cutest things ever.  It’s been a lot of cake bites and chipwiches lately, so it was thrilling to see tins of 12 adorable little red individual cakes come out of the oven, so whole and complete and inviting.  I’m starting to remember why New York is so obsessed.

Tempted to keep one for myself, I better be on my way to deliver them!

*And while we’re on the subject of Red Velvet desserts, last night while chatting with Pitizens and selling our sweets at the PIT, Jen and I met, not one, but TWO people who had never heard of red velvet!  What?!  Am I a snob for thinking that everyone has tasted and adored a red velvet baked good once in their life?  I was shocked.  I mean, I know it sometimes goes by different names (Waldorf Astoria cake), but even still.  I felt like giving them our whole tray of red velvet cake bites and telling them to go sit somewhere private, and really take some time to have their very first red velvet experience.  But, then again, I’m also a legitimately crazy person when it comes to sweets, so…

Sweet Revenge

July 15, 2009

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Look, I always love a little something sweet, but sometimes I crave sweets more than other times.  It’s funny, Jen and I decided to venture down the “let’s bake together…and make a business out of it!” path in the first place because of our mutual love and genuine appreciation of eating sweets.  But ever since we started Fanny & Jane, my appetite for sugary goodness has waned slightly.  Ironically, the one thing that might cure me of my insatiable cookie monster ways, is to start a business revolving around cookies and cakes and brownies and chocolate!  I’m just around it so much these days, that I find I’m more likely to reach for that bag of pita chips, whereas before it would have been a tub of Trader Joe’s sea salt brownies.  It’s an interesting lesson for me to learn, that once you decide to turn something you love into your work, it starts to resemble…work.  And it’s not that I’m necessarily harumph-ing my way through baking mini chipwiches, but when I’m staring down the nose of a long night of baking, I wouldn’t mind not seeing a chocolate bar for a few hours.

All that said, I still love me some scrumptious desserts.  Jen has often written about it on her blog (especially since she’s started her delicious Daily Dessert feature!), that one of the many great things about living in New York is that there are so many wonderful one-of-a-kind bakeries and cafes.  In my little pocket of Brooklyn alone, two brand new cafes have opened in the past couple of months!  It’s all so very exciting and inspiring.

One bakery on my long “to visit” list was Sweet Revenge.  My friend, Natalie, gushed about their to die for cupcakes a few months ago, and I’d been meaning to give them a taste.  On a recent sunny afternoon, I happened to be in the west village neighborhood running Fanny & Jane errands, and I had a sweet tooth and a few extra bucks, so I told my boyfriend to meet me and we made a thing of it.  Of their Signature Cupcakes, we decided to split the “Pure”: Mexican vanilla cake with mexican vanilla buttercream.  It was delish.  Moist and flavorful and somehow very light, despite all the frosting.  We enjoyed it sitting on bar stools at their big open window in the front of the shop.  There are many reasons I am itching to go back for more – the design of the place is super cute and I would love to spend some time there with a book (with all the free time I have), they do cupcake wine & beer pairings!, everyone working there was super friendly, and their namesake cupcake, the “Sweet Revenge” is peanutbutter cake, and ganache filling with peanutbutter buttercream.  Whoah now.