Deep thoughts about the color pink

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There’s always a lot of talk about pink in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. To wear or not to wear comes up first and then bigger questions arise about the color in general. But really you may wonder, isn’t it just a color? Apparently not.

1. All pinks are not created equal. As Samantha in SATC once explained, hot pink is sexy, baby pink is not. Really, the name itself should be a tip off on that one.

2. I kid you not, while I was typing #1, an email from Pantone landed in my inbox with this subject: “New Color Intelligence Article: Pink – Tempering Passion with Purity”. This has become an oddly big topic.

3. I was not into pink until my 20’s and then I went a bit crazy for it…Manic Trout used to have a hot pink logo and my closet was filled with pink frocks in multiple hues. I realized a few weeks ago that I seem to evolved to red and most of the pink is now gone. Is this a normal progression with age and career growth? I read a quote recently that I loved that makes me think it does. Said by a female CFO: “I had to earn the right to wear red.”

4. One of my role models, Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, invented shocking pink in 1931, by mixing a little white with magenta. This was a new and more assertive pink and it became her signature color. Currently one of the best selling (and my favorite) lipsticks from Nars is named after her as well, Schiap.

5. Scientifically, the color pink does not exist. “Violet (at one end of the visible spectrum), is the fastest, while red (at the other end) takes its sweet time. The other colors in the spectrum, moving at their particular frequencies, are indigo, blue, green, yellow and orange. The color pink, not a part of this spectrum, does not have a particular frequency.”

6. Diana Vreeland once famously said that “pink is the navy blue of India.” This quote has stuck in my head so permanently that every time any one talks about the country, I utter it.

7. There is a plethora of articles written about if it’s ok to wear pink to work. The consensus seems to be that the more corporate your office, the less pink you should wear. And if you do work in a creative environment, keep the pink to an accent, never ever go head to toe. Also avoid doing that with yellow and orange btw, just in case you thought all the hate was for pink.

8. BUT…Pink is one of the adult world’s most hated colors. That is sad.

9. After one eats beets, their pee often turns pink. It scares me to death every time it happens until I remember what I ate and then I just enjoy having bright pink pee for a day.

10. Gender specific colors did not arise until the early 20th century. Interestingly, when it did just before the 1920’s, many guides deemed pink for boys and blue for girls. “The reason is that pink , being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” For some reason, in the 1940’s this all changed when clothing manufacturers began producing pink clothes for girls and blue for boys. This somehow stuck and gained considerable momentum and popularity over time until the 1960’s and 1970’s when the women’s lib movement brought a push for gender neutral clothes.

Lastly, if all this talk about pink made you want to instantly adorn yourself in pink jewelry, I can help you with that.

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Biblio-files for December 2015

books december 2016In early December, in the midst of the holiday chaos, I sat myself down and had a little heart to heart. I thought about what it is that brings me the most joy in life. I settled on reading…I also love cooking and running in case you were interested. But reading came out as the one thing I love the most and the one thing I tend to dole out in measured doses (as in when I get into bed at night) and as much as I want to read books all day long, I never really let myself. I do read a great deal of blogs every day though, so it’s not like I deprive myself, I just seem to avoid picking up books. So I made the conscious decision that for the month of December, if I found myself during non crucial work hours (I don’t think I’ll ever let myself take to the couch with a book M-F, 9-6…that’s just crazy talk!) not really doing any thing of importance (i.e. falling down the rabbit hole of useless online browsing) that I would read. I also was really enjoying sitting in the living room with the Christmas tree and with Adam upgrading to the PS4, December ended being pretty great in terms of reading time as we not once watched an hour of Netflix at the end of the night. As you can see, I read ALOT in December, and I don’t think I ever started earlier than 9 or 10 pm. I have continued to spend more evening time reading through January, although coming down with the cold slowed me down a bit for a week as I kept falling asleep, but I’m really happy that I sat myself for this chat.

This also means that I have so many more great books to share with YOU…and here they are, in no particular order other than where they are in the stack (top to bottom):

1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I loved this book. I have loved everything she has ever written. Combine Barbara Kingsolver and a book about food production (a subject I am obsessed with) and you can imagine I was smitten. A year in the life of her family when they lived off their land/local food. Includes recipes and articles by her husband and eldest daughter. It gets preachy in parts, but every book on the subject does.

2. Red Azalea by Anchee Min. Being a memoir, I had to keep reminding myself that this woman actually lived this. It is an incredibly moving book about the end of Mao’s China. I find it fascinating to read memoirs about eras that are often written about. Changing the perspective from what you are used to reading is always incredibly eye opening. If you enjoy reading memoirs and/or fiction, absolutely add this to your list.

3. Until I Find You by John Irving. I have a soft spot for John Irving and still remember Hotel New Hampshire vividly even though I read it decades ago. This is another incredibly well written and story. But it’s really, really long. I was glad that the end went as far as it did, but there were a few parts that dragged. If you’re looking for a wonderfully written, engaging story that fills a long stretch of time, this is the perfect book. I’m talking to you, all you people who keep getting snowed in.

4. Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter by Lisa Patton. I have such a soft spot for books written about southern women who move to the north east. This was cute, delightful even. A story about a woman who finds her strength and perseveres. It was actually pretty motivational, which I don’t think it was intended to be. I enjoyed reading this one. One of those, I can’t wait to pick it up again, books.

5. Hotel On The corner Of Bitter And Sweet by Jamie Ford. I recently have been playing around a lot on Good Reads and discovered that I love historical fiction. So technically this book is based in the 80’s and not historical, but through the tale of the son, his father’s journey unfolds…something like that. It goes back to the 40’s and what Japanese American’s went through…told by a Chinese American. Are you intrigued? If that did it for you, you should really read this.

6. Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris. So I thought I would love a book about work. I think I envisioned it kind of like the show The Office. But as I never worked in a corporate office, something never really clicked with me on this one. To it’s credit, the entire back jacket says that if you work in an office/cubicle, you’ll love it, so there’s that.

7. The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud. I sat at my desk flipping through this book trying to remember what the hell is was about. It came back to me but meh. I didn’t love it. It was well written and I’m sure the author intended for the characters to be annoying, and perhaps I read it after something that made me think this novel was filled with whiney people, but yeah. I did however LOVE the ending. If you have a high tolerance for whining and are willing to read 479 pages to see why I loved the ending (because you have to know all of these characters to get the ending) then do it.

8. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber. Perhaps the most recommended and obsessed over business book. It really pissed me off at times, and that’s usually a sign that there is excellent information involved. You know what I mean, the type of book that at first I fought it, and then realized how brilliant it was. I wish the author did not make us read about his lame fake business owner, but otherwise, I join the masses when I say that if you own a small business, you need to read this book.

9. Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht. Two things stand out the most about this book. 1. I see why Aliza Licht is so successful with social media, her writing makes you adore her instantly. 2. If you read this, read it to enjoy her writing and thoughts, not to learn anything. Unless you’re 19 and in school…then you can learn a ton. The first half is a career manual for young women. The second is more her own work biography, which I am fascinated by and really enjoyed!

10. Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch. As with most books and articles written about marketing, so much of it seems to be geared towards B2B and sales/services. There is some great stuff in here for product based businesses but you have to look for it and I would say that it has much more to do with services.

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The Blahs

This is what being in the blahs feels like.
This is what being in the blahs feels like.

I wrote this post in my head 60 million times before I actually sat down to write it. Mostly because when you are experiencing the blahs, you don’t really want to do anything. Or care. Whatever. But I was listening to my favorite periscope yesterday when the lovely Sabina started chatting about how she and a few of her entrepreneur friends were chatting about how they just were not feeling it these past few weeks. And after talking about this she pointed out how we as a group of “work all the time” individuals need to give ourselves permission to feel this way. Now I understand that the blahs can be different things to different people. They can be just general melancholy, exhaustion following the holiday season for especially product based businesses, they can be a touch of S.A.D. and they can be depression. So note that if you are feeling that your blahs are more of a serious depression, then by all means seek professional help. Otherwise, I too give you permission to wallow in them.

For me, the blahs are an annual experience that begin right around the new year. I detest all of the New Year, New Start! crap and it typically sets me off. This year they lingered a bit longer, which was made further usual as almost every single day in January I have dragged my butt outside to exercise. That’s the double whammy, two punch cure usually…sunshine AND exercise…all the endorphins! And still, they stayed. I had lunch earlier this week with two amazing ladies (the Jessica’s) who are B2B powerhouses. I have been lunching with Jessica #1 for quite some time (we met through LinkedIn, how cool is that?? I swear I need to do a post on making IRL friends with online acquaintances) and this week she thought Jessica #2 and I should also meet. So Jessica #2 and I were getting to know each other and our respective businesses and I was explaining how I had a bad case of the blahs. That the blahs were so bad this year that I had hardly been getting anything done, not because I didn’t have time, but because I kept just sitting at my desk being sucked into the vortex of nothingness. Anyway, we chatted about this a bit more and I left feeling a bit lifted. The blahs are still hovering about but the next day I got done half the tasks I have been avoiding and that’s awesome.

Ahhhhh, how you feel every time the blah is lifted (even if it still hovers in your head waiting to come back).
Ahhhhh, how you feel every time the blahs are lifted (even if it still hovers in your head waiting to come back).

What is the point of all of this blah blah blah (hehehe)? Basically it is to tell you that you are not alone. There are always other people out there who are feeling what you’re feeling (like Sabina and her friends) and there are also people out there who may not be feeling it, but would love to talk to you about it (like the Jessica’s). This is especially important to understand if you are a solo-preneur, to make sure to get out there and talk to people! You don’t have to hide your feelings and pretend everything is perfect all the time…instagram is not real and no man is an island.

*excuse the fuzzy photos, I felt these images illustrated my point perfectly and didn’t want to recreate them in daylight, as that would take too much effort for my blahs to handle right now. Also, that amazing over sized eye mask that keeps out ALL light and is organic silk can be found on Etsy here.

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Lucky 13?

This morning I had all of these notifications on LinkedIn and wondered what was up. What’s up is that today is the 13 year anniversary of when I legally made Manic Trout a company!! I really wanted to find an old screenshot of the first Manic Trout webpage from 2003 but I apparently do not document my own web sites very well. I found the files for the 2006 version though, which is crazy to find because when you click on index, the entire old site comes up. Woah. That’s all I’ll say about that, ha! I really am sad that I didn’t think to save screen shots before I revamped the site over the years, especially in 2014…which I really thought I had, so maybe one day I’ll find those. But for now, let’s have a giggle at the ghosts of Manic Trout past and see how many of these you remember?

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The furthest back I could find is from 2006, as this is a screen shot, you need to know that the first image is the “landing page” (remember those!?!) and when you scrolled over the logo, you saw the second image. Keep in mind that Etsy was created in December of 2005 so we’re at the very early stages of the maker movement here.

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We can also refer to that time as the early days, before I understood the concept of running a business, was fresh out of art school and just wanted to make all of the things!!!

ManicTroutPage2009

Next we jump forward to early 2009, I know it was early in the year as I just finished an insane holiday season after having 3 pairs of $10 earrings in the Real Simple magazine gift guide. They told me to estimate that I would sell 2k total pairs of the earrings they ran and I sold 10k pairs which included every style of earring I sold. I was not prepared. Back then, I was still coding the shopping cart into my site with Mals and had to manually process every credit card when an order came. Then if it was declined, email the person who placed the order. I had no where near enough stock as I only had what they advised me to do,  and besides ordering materials and more mailing supplies weekly, I had to bring in my staff from my day job to help in the off hours (they, along with my sister Thea, saved my life that season!). As online handmade businesses were still pretty new, getting lines of credit to process cards was tricky if you were not selling much, so I was allowed to process I think $2k a month at the time and by mid November had already sold $25k for that month. This was however a blessing and a curse though as I was able to take the proof of the orders to Chase and get hooked up for much larger limits immediately. Over all, I realized that I was not in a position for scaling and spent most of 2009 rebuilding so I would never go through the problems I encountered again. This included building a robust new site with a shopping cart that had all the bells and whistles. Which brings us to late 2009.

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As you can see, I was really excited about all of the options that I now could use and deployed every single one of them. (I’m dizzy just looking at this!)

So now Manic Trout has made a name for itself, tasted crazy growth and received a snazzy new website…but something was feeling off. I was feeling like I had outgrown the brand. So I enlisted the help of brilliant duo to rebrand and grow up. The result was to finally let go of the paintings (did you notice those were still on the site as late as 2009?) and focusing on jewelry. The rebrand included getting a grown up logo, starting to design seasonal collections, redoing the packaging and of course a cleaned up site.

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Pardon the tiny photo, but this was the first version of the new site before the logo and final touches were done. How I wish over the last 13 years I had taken a screen shot of every version of the MT page…it would be a big file, but I really would enjoy seeing them progress. Anyway, the graphic designer finished the new logo and the site became this.

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Another tiny photo…I have no idea why only 2010 are this small. Anyway, over the next couple of years, this site evolved and became less and less pink, as web site styles changed, lines were removed and by 2013 the above site had evolved to this one below.

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The text bubbles were not part of the design, and from a facebook post or something, but it was all I had from this area…again, kicking myself over that. I was going for a cleaner and cleaner look and really liked how this era of the site looked. But once again, I was facing the dilemma of my jewelry being becoming more mature than the branding. I have talked recently enough about the process that happened next so I’ll skim over it. In short, I hired a brand management consultant to work with me over the past year + to take Manic Trout to the next level. And with that level of course came a new version of the site. I had help on this one from a graphic designer and 3 programmers to each contribute in someway to what you see now if you visit ManicTrout.com and since their help in the fall/winter of 2014, I have kept going and tweaking and changing to make it what it is now. We’ll call this the 2015 because as you can imagine, it never ends!

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Crazy to think that I made the first Manic Trout page so, so many years ago, but really glad that today’s anniversary gave me a chance to gather all of this in one place. Here’s hoping that this year is the lucky 13!

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Wrapping it up

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How do you wrap? Are you a themed wrapper? Do you just use what’s on hand? Wrap with a roll until it’s over and then move on to the next? I pretty much stick to a theme, although some years are waaaaaay more elaborate than others depending on my mood, time and if gifts will sit around under the tree or not. I am big fan of kraft paper and my pinterest board of gift wrapping ideas will attest to that! I find it the perfect blank canvas and it can be made more fun for kids or glammed up a bit for adults. I’m really into the live greenery on gifts for this year, but almost everything will be sent by mail, so I don’t think that will translate very well. Hmmm, the possibilities are endless!

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What to read next?

My current "To Read" shelves
My current “To Read” shelves, cleaned out, stocked and ready for the new year!

The biggest problem with being a bibliophile is that you constantly have to answer the question, what do I read next? For me, going to a place that sells used books that are haphazardly all lumped together on the same shelves yield the most interesting selection in my shopping cart. Library book sales and good wills are great places for these! If I go to an actual bookstore, or even on Amazon, I tend to not know what to buy and focus on fiction, when in reality I really enjoy memoirs and non fiction just as much. I tend to get frustrated that I cannot buy 100 books, become overwhelmed and leave. I like to have an ample supply of books in my to read next pile. This pile (or shelves) has been great reduced in the past few years, but I still have at least 50 on there at all times. Once a year, I clean it out and donate/sell what I know I’ll never read (usually these are books that have been on the pile for years, as in over 10 and the most I can ever deal with getting rid of is around 5).

Besides perusing used bookstores, I keep a list on Amazon and buy books used off of the site every few months to add to the pile. I very occasionally buy brand new books, usually these are bought in airports and are either a new release from a beloved author or business related. Which I should add, there is a separate pile on my desk to read on that subject. The Amazon list is from books I read about online, am recommended by friends, see in hardcover and want to remember to buy when the paperback comes out (I hate reading hardcover books unless they are business) or are from my GoodReads account. If I am looking to go down the rabbit hole of books, I’ll also use WhatShouldIReadNext.com which is great if you have a favorite book or author to go off of.

Last week I visited Half Price Books to sell off/donate the most recent months of read books and picked up a few there. But it made me miss the good will up the street, so the next day I stopped by and bought a stack of $2 books (which makes me SO happy!). This resulted in a shelf clean out so they all fit. Which then resulted in my reading 3 books as I was so excited by everything there was to read, which then made me feel like there was some room on the shelves so I am now wanting to buy a few from Amazon, you know so the shelves are full. It’s an endless cycle.

Soooooo, what are you you reading next?

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Two Dogs Vs One

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So many wonderful things have come out of adopting a second dog last winter. It’s interesting to look back after almost a year and see what changed, what did not and what the good and bad from it is. A great deal of what did change was due to having a senior dog and bring a 4 year old into our home, who for their breed is pretty much newly out of puppy phase. So much more energy! The biggest change has been oddly in Faye regarding her schedule. She used to sleep when I slept and would stay buried under the covers until I woke up, no matter the duration of sleep or the time. A few months ago, she began waking up between 5 and 7am and demanding to be fed and let out. Then Mora would wake up and the two would jump on our heads until one of us woke up. The only way to stop this seems to be kennel them or ignore them (we tried everything else). We really don’t want to kennel them and ignoring only made it impossible for us to sleep, so we take turns getting up to feed them and let them out and then return to bed. Both dogs fall immediately asleep after this. However, Mora is a morning dog, so at about 8 she wakes up again and rolls around on the floor or sits in the sliding glass door window gazing out at birds. I have taught her to knock on the door when she’s ready to go out, so I’ll get up to open the door when that happens. Then last month, Faye started wanting to get up again as well, for water usually. But she cannot get up on the bed by herself any more, so we have to help her after she wanders off to get water. Basically neither of us have had a good nights sleep in about 6 months. It’s the only complaint we have though, so I’ll take it. I put together lists of the top 5 pros and cons of 2 dogs vs 1, because I love lists. Before I leave you for the lists, I need to mention that 1st and foremost, Mora is wonderful and her personality is awesome. Everyday Adam and I talk about how lucky we are to be her parents.

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Top 5 Pros:
1. When they interact cutely with each other, it makes both Adam and I gush like no other. If there’s a dog cuddle puddle, we almost cry out of joy.
2. There is now an equal human to dog ratio in the house, although we often end up with two dogs lying with one human.
3. Even though Faye acts like a put out older sister much of the time, when they are home alone, I know that they have each other.
4. There is much more “fun with dogs now happening”, like double dog selfies!
5. They keep each other active and run around the yard together.

Top 5 Cons:
1. Adam and I have both travelled a lot in the past year, but never together. I still have too much guilt to leave Mora. Kenneling two dogs is expensive and it’s hard to find a sitter for both.
2. Dirt and mud x2. If they both need emergency baths at the same time, it’s really challenging.
3. Having one dog for 13 years means there is much jealousy, which means sometimes fighting.
4. They pick up each others bad habits.
5. Having people come to the door can be stressful…we’re working on that.

The list of cons is pretty basic. The pros out weight them greatly. I will admit that I draw the line at two though. Perhaps if they were not terriers (a nice way of saying that their assholes) or all older it would be ok, but only two rat terriers at a time for me!

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Gift Guide

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Are you still looking for the perfect gift for your favorite ladies? I rounded up some great ideas over at Manic Trout in a gift guide organized by price.

If you want a more fun way to think about gift options, check out these ideas below:

Gift Guide for Green Thumbs

We’ve arrived at the time of year when everyone is gathering ideas for gifts. Some people are always easier to think of what to get them, and often it’s due to their having big hobbies. A great example of this is the ladies in our lives with green thumbs, who are happiest with their hands in the dirt. They are so fun to shop for! Here is a round up of some great gift ideas for gardeners.
Gift Guide for Teachers
Grown-ups are not the only fans of Manic Trout. Teachers are constantly telling me how excited their kids get when they wear animal jewelry in class, especially the brightly colored ones. If you have teachers in your life and are wondering what the perfect gift would be, consider one of these fabulous critters!
Gift Guide for Mermaids
I was going through the jewelry this morning and pulling pieces that I felt the beach lovers (myself included) out there would love the most and then I started thinking that it was not as much about the beach as it is the ocean. Which then led me to speculate that many of us really, really wanted to be mermaids when were little. I remember especially thinking how great my hair look under water compared to on land…it was something I thought about a lot. I have to wonder if, when my fin fantasies were at their height, it being pre The Little Mermaid, and more of Darryl Hannah’s Splash era, I was given a bit too much hope with the human on the big screen being a mermaid IRL. No matter how delusional I was back then, from what I have seen in the decades since with pop culture, mermaids are pretty important still to so many of us.

So anyway, this round up of jewelry is for all of my fellow mermaids out there, you can get literal with the Vera Stolen Dance Earrings or wear what the mermaids do with the star fish adorned Come A Little Closer Necklace or the sea horse Heart and Soul Necklace. Perhaps you would rather fantasize about swimming in the deep blue sea with your fish friends? Then the fish of the La Femme Parallel Bracelet can climb on your wrist and adventure along with you. Which ever you choose, never stop being your inner mermaid!

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30 Minute Black Bean Soup

BlackBeanSoup

I love soup in the winter, especially big batches of it that I can easily reheat for lunch. The past month we have had a black bean soup in heavy rotation that I completely forgot I used to make all the time. I had perfected the recipe years ago and was delighted that it really was as quick and easy to make as I remembered. It tasted better then my memory allowed though and that is why I have made it so often. It really does take about 30 minutes, and is soooo tasty!

Black Bean Soup
Serves 4

1 t kosher salt
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
1/4 t ground cumin
2 bay leaves
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T garlic
1 c red onion, chopped
1 1/2 c red pepper, chopped
3 15 oz cans black beans, undrained
1 3/4 c chicken broth, low sodium

Bag of shredded Mexican cheese

In medium sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onion, red pepper and garlic until soft, approx 7 minutes.
Add 2 cans beans, broth, vinegar, salt, black pepper, cumin and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove bay leaves.
Use stick blender and blend in the pot keeping a few lumps. If you don’t have a stick blender, transfer very carefully into a blender or food processor and pulse.
Add 3rd can of beans and blend/pulse for a second, keeping most beans whole.

Sprinkle cheese on top and serve!

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