Leaving the Island

Growing up, I lived in a circle with a radius of approximately 5 miles. I rode the school bus 4.8 miles to middle school, rode 6.6 miles to the Mall of New Hampshire, rode my bike 4.6 miles to the Bedford Bluffs where I spent every day during the summer and walked .4 miles to visit my best friend (or .2 miles if I cut through the woods).

When I was in high school, the circle expanded to a radius of approximately 60 miles. I drove 6.6 miles east to school, 55.6 miles south-east to swim practice and 73.9 miles south to visit Matt. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in the car. During those days, I knew every song on the radio, perfected my ability to dance while sitting, and learned the location of every Dunkin Donuts along Route 3. I attribute my relationship with one of my best friends to the fact that we spent at least 2 hours in the car together every day, not to mention the fact that we shared a near death experience when I decided to shut my eyes for a quick second while driving to practice. We spent a lot of time chatting about school, swimming, and of course, boys.

My life is very different now that I live in New York. I traded my car in for a subway pass, my one hour commute to swim practice in for a 30 minute subway ride to Union Square, and the 3 miles drive to the grocery store to a 3 minute walk to Whole Foods down the block. While living in a city does make some things much more convenient, I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss suburbia.

Now I live on an island.  An island that is 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide. A 23 square mile island with more than 1.6 million people. No longer do I live in a circle with a 60 mile radius. Now I live within a rectangle that is 10 square miles smaller than my hometown, yet has a population that is 80 times larger. I travel within a circle that has a two-mile radius and I never leave the island. That is, until today.

For my Birthday, Matt promised to take me to a cooking class. We have done this before, see prior post, and it was a lot of fun. However, instead of going back to the Institute of Culinary Education, Matt decided to try out The Brooklyn Kitchen, a smaller, “off the beaten path” location (follow their blog here). After reading through the course offerings, we decided on the Fresh Pasta Sunday course. So this afternoon, after a delicious breakfast of irish oatmeal and some time in the gym, Matt and I ventured off the island and into Brooklyn.

We arrived to tree-lined streets, buildings no taller than 5 stories and a strange, but enjoyable, quietness. We could easily walk down the sidewalks to the kitchen without having to dodge tourists and hundreds of people. I suddenly felt at home in Brooklyn.

Our class was amazing. We learned how to make the dough from scratch and worked with a pasta machine. As we put the pasta through the machine a few times, our dough grew into a long sheet. As we cranked the pasta through the machine it flattened out and grew in length. Working together to maneuver this large sheet of pasta, we were able to make angel hair pasta, fettuccine and butternut squash ravioli. At the end of class, we were able to taste the fruits of our labor and bring some of the uncooked pasta home. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to invite Matt into our kitchen at home more often. He is an amazing sous-chef!

I encourage you all to leave your island and expand your radius; you never know what you will find.

Neutral Face – Part Two

When I started my new job last week, Matt helped me to prepare by tell me which outfit he liked the best as I tore my closet apart, cooked me a delicious pre-Robin Hood dinner, and reminded me constantly to wear a smile. You would think that his last piece of advice would be something that would occur naturally, especially when I was so excited to start my new job; however, see previous post to find out why Matt felt the need to remind me about smiling countless times.

While I am happy to report that for the past week my neutral face has been a smile, my historically negative facial expression has not been forgotten by my sister (see email that she sent me for evidence of this)

“I am fairly certain this was actually about you.”

Link: http://www.overheardintheoffice.com/archives/012344.html

While this very well could have been written by my previous co-worked, I am just hoping that it was not written by one on my current co-workers!

I Love My Job

I promise, despite my posts of late, I won’t turn my blog into a complete love-fest for Robin Hood. Although, I certainly could do such a thing.

After working here for just four days, I am filled with such passion for our mission that hope that my blog can help others of you share my passion as well. David Saltzman is one of the people who started it all. Serving as the Executive Director since Robin Hood’s creation, he has seen the organization grow from a non-profit that raised just shy of $100,000 and funded two programs its first year, to its current stats: raising $1 billion raised in total and funding 200 programs in the year 2010 alone. To work with him is truly an honor and you are guaranteed to learn something every day.



Be Robin Hood

I blogged earlier 2011 is going to be an amazing year. Matt and I are getting married, I am committed to making the most out of living in New York, my sister will lead her OWN swim team during conference and the national championships, and hopefully the Patriots continue their latest string of successes with a Super Bowl win. But most importantly, in 2011, I will get to be Robin Hood.

Last week I blogged about some exciting career news that I had to share. And now I can finally announce that, as of today, I am a proud member of the Robin Hood Foundation. An opportunity presented itself for me to leave my previous position and join this amazing organization. And while this position will undoubtably come with many challenges, longer hours than I am used to and a lot of work, I believe that it will be worth it. For the past two years, I have been thirsting for a bigger challenge, a more meaningful mission, and to be part of an organization that is proud of its work. After spending one day in their office, I know I have found all of these things.

I have blogged about Robin Hood before, but for those of you that are unfamiliar with it, Robin Hood is a charitable organization that fights poverty in New York City. Currently, 1.8 million New Yorkers are living in poverty. Together, they could populate the fifth largest city in the United States–larger than Boston, Atlanta and San Francisco combined. These people struggle with the rising costs of food and housing, and fewer opportunities for adequate health care, quality education and secure employment exist.

Robin Hood is changing the fates and saving the lives of these people by applying investment principles to charitable giving. They find, fund and create the most effective programs and schools serving families in New York City’s poorest neighborhoods.

Robin Hood follows an extensive due diligence process to ensure that every dollar invested generates results. Before investing in a program, Robin Hood reviews its strategy, scrutinizes its financial statements, evaluates its management teams, and conducts multiple visits.

And the support doesn’t stop there. Robin Hood protects and leverages its charitable investments with top-notch management and technical assistance. Their in-house management experts help programs with their strategic and financial planning, recruiting and legal concerns, organizational issues and capital needs…with whatever they require. And if they don’t have the expertise in-house, they get it elsewhere. They have access to the top people and firms in New York to get the job done pro bono.

And because Robin Hood’s board of directors pays all administrative, fundraising and evaluation costs, 100% of donations goes directly to organizations helping impoverished New Yorkers build better lives.

So… for those of you wondering what it is like to work at Robin Hood… I can now tell you. I started my first day with an all staff meeting that felt more like a really interesting college seminar on business analytics coupled with a high school pep rally. The obvious intelligence in the room was almost as much as the pride and honor the employees felt for their organization and for each other. The meeting culminated with the presentation of a cake depicting a scene from the movie Robin Hood, which was created, by who other than Buddy, the Cake Boss.

Not a bad way to start the year.

A Dress with Pockets

Over the holiday break, I was able to get a fair amount done for our wedding. As we coasted by our 6 months to do mark, I feel pretty confident with the state of our plans.

One thing that I was finally able to shore up, was the bridesmaid dress selection. After some unsuccessful searching, I finally decided on dress from the LulaKate line that is available at Bella Bridesmaid. From the start I knew that I wanted to give the girls various styles to choose from, all in the same color. Lula Kate was able to provide just that for me. Each girl selected a different style top and they had the choice of 4 different bottoms. Some of the bottoms came with pockets, which for me, ups the ante on any dress. Unfortunately, one of my bridemaids was not fully informed of the necessity of pockets before placing her order. See conversation below:

Me: blah blah… something about having a candy bar at the wedding… blah blah blah
Noelle:  candy bar???????? yummmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Me:  haha
Noelle:  I just told bobby (her husband) about the candy bar. He says, ”  Oh damn, That is going to be sweet”
Me: I am going to put those Easter candies  in it just for you 
Noelle:  yummmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Cadbury eggs! I’m totally going to hoard them. I wish our dresses had pockets
Me:  dude, your dress could have had pockets if you got the other skirt
Noelle:  I didn’t know there was going to be a candy bar

The painful lesson here is, when in doubt, get pockets.Whether it is your cell phone, chap stick or candy, there will undoubtedly be something worthwhile to put in them.