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The Importance of Being Earnest… In Dining

Everytime I drive down my street at dinnertime there’s a particular house that really should be banned from having an open front door. The scents which waft from behind that black screen have a sultry linger in my car the rest of the block.

By the time I get home from work I’m usually not in the mood to experiment with my culinary palette and typically fall into habitual recipes or leftovers… And I like cooking! So what about those gals that are afraid of the flame, or detest the chopping and stirring? Ladies, let us unite in a worthy cause…we can step up our mealtimes! Writer and advocate for feminine force, Virginia Woolfe once said “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Feeding yourself is important! Don’t scrimp on your major source of energy and health. But – you justly ask – how not to spend our entire paychecks?

There’s one tip that’s golden and will save you in a pinch, or a waistline’s cinch: Keep staples stocked. Whatever is healthy for you, won’t break the budget, and that which you often use KEEP THEM IN YOUR KITCHEN! Bread, milk, eggs, cheese, salad, nuts, and fruit are great starters.

Be educated and smart about what you eat so that your skin vegetables (oranges, melons, etc.) can perhaps forgo the organic sticker price while your eggs and milk that more directly affect your hormone levels should get some cushion. Clip those coupons, find the deals, split things at Costco, BUY SEASONALLY, and definitely keep up on the trends so you know you’re prepared for a price drop.

Phase two is USE EVERY PART. The Native Americans were famous for their entire use of an animal in skin, meat, claws (gross, I know, but resourceful), furs, etc.  This week’s challenge is to see how many meals you can make from a cooking a whole chicken including broth and meat. Use some of your vegetable trimmings in a fully-loaded egg hash the next morning.

And while you’re honing your resourcefulness for one, you might be brave enough to stretch that table to include friends. Reign in a dinner party either potluck, dutch, or donation style.

You’re allowed to be elegant…in fact you should! You’d be surprised what the dollar store, thrift stores (Goodwill and Amvets are my favs), and garage sales will offer in terms of eclectic or traditional dishes, tablecloths, candlesticks, even candles!

A nice board game, a creative twist on drinks, and great conversation is good for the soul. Hospitality is a dormant art who loves to be engaged! A clean house will make everyone feel comfortable, an internet radio station is great for background noise or themed-cooking, and your own enjoyment will bring gentle healing to the bullet holes of the busy day.

There is so much benefit in being intentional with our dining. Food is a source of communion with ourselves, the natural world, and each other. Bon Appetite!

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Natalie Scicolone, Assistant to the Fashion Editor of Marie Claire

Name: Natalie Scicolone
Occupation: Assistant to Zanna Roberts Rassi, Marie Claire Senior Fashion Editor

B: How did you start working at Marie Claire?
Natalie: I actually interned at Marie Claire my senior year of college. I didn’t think I got the internship – I stressed myself out to the extreme, but they just told me keep an open mind, and I ended up interning here and absolutely falling in love with this industry and especially Marie Claire. When I graduated college I moved back to the city, and it took me a few weeks, but something opened up at Marie Claire and I interviewed, and I couldn’t be happier as Zanna’s assistant.

B: What did you go to school for?
Natalie: I originally went to school for journalism but then switched my major to retail and fashion and also minored in business and sales. It’s kinda the same realm.

B: Did you learn more in school or on the job?
Natalie: I definitely learned more on the job. Stuff that I do in this job you can’t learn in school. I mean, school gave me a great base for being professional, and I obviously learned a ton and I applied myself…I was constantly learning at school, but what I do here is completely different and things that no one can really teach you.

B: How long is a normal day for you?
Natalie: It is a lot of work – nothing like The Devil Wears Prada, though, because Zanna is an absolute angel. I’m the luckiest person alive to be working for her. But I enjoy working. There’ve been times where it’ll be late and Zanna will find out I’m working and she’ll be, like, “Go home!” So, it is a lot of work, but then again I love it so much that I don’t really think of it like that.

B: Have you ever cried on the job? (Or had to leave, cry, and come back. :))
Natalie: I probably shouldn’t admit this, but definitely. Anyone who tells you they haven’t cried is totally lying. We were packing for my first cover shoot with Zanna and it was during Fashion Week. There were so many things going on, and as soon as everyone left for the night, I was in the fashion closet by myself, and I just had this little breakdown. But sometimes it takes that breakdown and I snap out of it. Sometimes you just need to get it out of your system.

B: How do you get through your worst work day?
Natalie: Honestly, I just remind myself that this opportunity is such an amazing one and I feel so lucky and blessed to have it. Even on the worst day I remind myself that this is only something I could have dreamed of a year ago. Reminding myself of that really helps me snap out of whatever mood I’m in and makes me focus.

B: You work for a pretty bougie magazine, and I’m sure that requires dressing pretty classy everyday. Do you have a favorite wardrobe staple for always looking your best?
Natalie: I have this big obsession with denim shirts. I don’t know if people would consider it a staple but it’s definitely my staple. I have to remind myself that I don’t need a denim shirt in every shade of denim.

B: What’s the one piece in your wardrobe you couldn’t live without?
Natalie: It’s hard to name one piece! I can’t live without my shoes and my jewelery. Especially live-in jewelry – things that I get that are nice and I keep on all the time.

B: Do you have any tips for girls who want to look like a fashion editor but can’t afford designer pieces?
Natalie: It’s all about being really creative and open. There are so many pieces from runway that trickle down into mainstream that we see at our favorite stores like Zara, H&M, and Topshop. It’s about going out and looking. Guaranteed you are able to put a look together for under $100 if you take the time to really search. I think it’s definitely more available than people think!

B: Do you have any advice for other young women as they leave college and are looking for a job?
Natalie: I feel like I could write a book! I think interning is really important. But besides that, one of the most important things is that it just takes one person to give you that chance. And when you get that chance you have to prove to them that they made the right decision. It’s about that one person saying, “I believe in her. I see something in her. I think she can do this.” So, when you get that chance, you really have to own it and not let it go.

B: What’s the best part of this time in your life?
Natalie: Everything! I think the best thing is that this is a time in my life, or in anyone’s life, where we are so young that we can be or do or go wherever [we] want. This is the time when you get to make a name for yourself and it’s up to you how you do it. It’s refreshing to know that if you got an opportunity in London, there would be nothing stopping someone our age from doing it! Now’s the time when you can actually just go and not look back.

B: What are you struggling most with right now?
Natalie: I think that if I had to classify a struggle I think it would be being away from my family and closest friends. That gets hard. But then I remind myself I’m in New York
City, I’m 23 years old… you know? That helps me get past that. But sometimes you just want that home cooked meal.

B: Who’s your biggest cheerleader?
Natalie: My mom. She is the most supportive and inspiring woman known to mankind. I moved here without anything lined up and I feel like most mothers would be like, “Oh, no, you’re not doing that.” But she completely stood by me and I can’t thank her enough for being a cheerleader for me.

B: What’s your dream gig?
Natalie: To be honest, I’m still figuring it out. I don’t think I necessarily have a dream gig. At the moment, what I’m doing right now – being Zanna’s assistant – is my dream gig. I can’t even express how happy I am and how much I love working with her and for her. I’ll figure the rest out as I go.

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Being The Newbie

Right when we finally reach the top, life always finds a way to bring us back down to the bottom. In 8th grade we were on top of the middle school food chain… and then we became freshmen in high school. We went from being seniors in high school to freshmen in college and finally we became seniors in college.

We spend the last weeks packing up our dorms or apartments thinking we’re done. Sure, those grueling, anticipating homework-filled weeks have come to a close, but once again we’re on the brink of being the newbie; and regardless of your introverted or extroverted personality being the newbie is scary – that drastic of a change is scary. At the beginning of this next chapter lies a slew of emotions: fear, uncertainty, excitement, sadness. Like everyone else who has ever walked across a stage to receive the golden ticket into the real world, we face challenges of how to present ourselves professionally, how to be taken seriously in a world where Gen Y is automatically perceived as entitled and lazy, how to make friends in the workplace.

So what can we do? Lying in bed accompanied by the ever-soothing Ben & Jerry’s Phish food watching 30 Rock reruns is not an option. As our oh-so-encouraging mothers would say, we must seize the day.

How do we do that?

1) Don’t panic. As overwhelming as this process is, it’s part of growing up. Take comfort in the fact that nearly everyone in the world has once felt like this. Get excited and be pumped; you’re about to the plunge into adulthood.

2) Never be afraid to ask. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in college is to not be afraid to ask for help – help on assignment, to get a job, crafting a cover letter or resume. Having the courage to admit to yourself that you can’t do this alone is admirable. Ask a coworker to go out to lunch. If you’re overwhelmed, ask a coworker about his/her story.

3) Surround yourself with solid friends. Because let’s be real, we can’t do this on our own. We need uplifting, encouraging loving people by our sides.

4) Get a hobby. It’s easy to drown in stress and anxiety. We need to time relax, so we’re better able to think clearly and perform well in the workplace.

5) Breathe. Every person you’re trying to impress has been in the same place you currently are. Breathing helps us to slow down and lets us keep ourselves in line and thinking straight.

Many of these habits were taken from Lindsey Pollak’s Getting From College to Career. – an excellent resource for recent college graduates.

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Goodwill Is Your Friend

You’re a senior in college. You’re almost there. You’ve spent the last three years of your life trying to build a resume or portfolio that you hope one day will do your skills justice when seen on paper. You’ve lived off Ramen and PB and J’s for what seems like a lifetime. But it was all worth it; in one short year, you will be able to call yourself a college grad. You’ll be ready to conquer the world.

Pause.

You head to your closet searching for an outfit suitable for a business class presentation. Contemplative, you stand there thinking what you could pull together to make yourself look the best of the best.

After all, you will be marked down if you don’t appear professional.

The rompers, cut-off’s, and sweats staring back at you have treated you well over the past few years, but now they simply won’t suffice.

You manage to pull together an outfit compiled of an Old Navy business-like dress, tights, and heels, but the thought of how you are going to pull together an impressive, business-attire wardrobe in the next six months is more than unsettling.

This scene is all too familiar. We work and we work and we work. Most of us go to college right out of highs school. I’m not sure about you, but I didn’t have a full-blown professional wardrobe built by the age of 18.

I thought, and I Google’d, and I talked to my roommates; I decided to head up to Goodwill to see what they had. Admittedly, I thought it would be a total bust, but to my surprise I found a couple key pieces that could work as foundation in building my professional look.

Goodwill tends to have a stigma around it. It’s cheap, it’s gross, and it’s dirty. Whatever someone may think, the reality is you can find Ralph Lauren, Coach, and other designer names for nearly nothing.

I’d highly recommend taking a trip if you’re on a strict and tight budget. Going to a store like that however can be daunting and taxing so here a couple tips to better the experience.

1) Have a list. Jot down the key pieces you are looking for. Walking into a store that organizes its clothing by color can be overwhelming. Stay focused.

2) Be in the mood to shop. This may sound petty, but if you’re not willing to really look, take your time, and sift through some racks, go out another day.

3) And please, do yourself a favor and do not ‘shop until you drop.