Daily Inspirations and Adventures

Archive for March 2011

March 31st – Tid Bits

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First off, I didn’t get to the Red and White Quilt show so you’ll have to post your pictures and tell me about it – HELLO!  🙂

I am going to dinner with Vicki tonight.  We’re going to Pure Food & Wine because she has a Groupon.  Its never too early to figure out what you’re having, right?  I’m thinking Salad of Arugula, Endive, Candied Pecans, Lavender Shallot Vinaigrette and then Porcini Ravioli with Truffle Cream Sauce, Baby White Asparagus followed by Frozen Coconut Mousse.  Yum

Secondly, Mandi sent me a new picture of Cielo today.  I’m going to try to see them when we’re in PA for Easter (Dad wants us to play in a golf tournament with him on Good Friday – has been asking us for years – finally gave in).

She’s cute and Mandi is LOVING being a Mom.

Lastly . . . ICR was in the local CT newspaper yesterday about our recent ranking in the O’Dwyer annual survey.  The full article is below.  Good article but they spelled our name incorrectly in a few spots . . . not sure what is so difficult about spelling ICR . . .

ICR reaches financial top spot

The Hour Online


Hour Staff Writer

A newcomer to the Norwalk business scene is also a newcomer to the top spot in an industry ranking.

ICR, an independent public relations firm, announced that its financial communications practice has been ranked number one as defined by revenues in O’Dwyer’s annual survey. O’Dwyer’s has conducted agency rankings for 40 years.

ICR reached the top spot in financial communications for the first time, beating out 49 other independent firms. It was also ranked eighth among 148 companies that documented their revenues for O’Dwyer’s Directory of PR Firms.

“We started on the list in 2003 and every year we’ve increased our ranking. The last three or four years we’ve been in the top 10,” Thomas M. Ryan, CEO of ICR, said. “It’s in our sweet spot category (financial communications) and we’ve hit the number one spot. It’s very meaningful to us.”

The rankings are based on 2010 revenue. IRC had a 20 percent increase over the previous year, totally more than $26.5 million.

ICR moved to iPark on the Norwalk/Wilton border last year. It had been located in Westport since the company was founded in 1998. ICR employs about 50 people in Norwalk and close to 100 worldwide.

Like many companies, ICR was forced to downsize in 2009, but its recent success has allowed the firm to start hiring again.

“In the last four or five months we’ve been hiring people back and getting new clients,” Ryan said. “There’s a real need for what we’re doing, especially when the IPO market is hot. We work with 280 companies and 95 percent of them are public.”

ICR’s client list includes companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Starwood, California Pizza Kitchen and J. Crew.

“We help companies with investors and crisis management. Public companies are under a lot of scrutiny with investors these days,” Ryan said.

Grabbing the number one spot in the O’Dwyer survey needs to be put in its property perspective, according to Ryan.

“Being number one doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the best,” he said. “We want to be number one and be the best in customer service.”

Ryan, and the entire team at ICR, have also accepted the top accolade with heavy hearts. Ryan founded IRC with two friends, Chad A. Jacobs and John P. Flanagan. Both Jacobs and Flanagan passed away of cancer in the last 20 months.

“Our recent growth as a company is a testament to everyone around here. It was a shock to the company,” Ryan said. “Those guys are still a part of what we do every day.”

Ryan started his career as a casino analyst for a bank writing buy-hold-sell reports. It was there that he saw the need for a public relations firm that specialized in financial communication.

“I saw companies make big mistakes with how they told their stories to the world,” he said.

Ryan grew up in Norwalk so he was excited about the prospect of moving the firm to his hometown after several different locations in Westport.

“I grew up seeing the development and growth of Norwalk,” he said. “So when we were deciding where to go, we were fired up about finding this location. The economics of it were great. We had been in an inefficient space on two floors. This locations is more user-friendly and there’s room to grow.”

ICR also has offices in San Francisco, Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Beijing. Ryan said the company is considering expanding into Brazil. Ryan said most companies are branching out throughout the world, so his firm has to keep up.

“Every company is trying to be as global as they can,” he said.

Written by bevanddara

March 31, 2011 at 11:36 am

Posted in Random


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Started my day at the NYSE – a client of mine that had their IPO in December rang the opening bell.

Awful picture from my Blackberry.

Better picture from the NYSE website.

Written by bevanddara

March 30, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Posted in Random

Jackson Hole: Trip to the Wild Wild West

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I can’t believe I’m posting pictures of snow when it’s almost April . . . I also can’t believe that’s it’s still in the 20s in NYC either . . . such a bummer . . . really wanted to come back to Spring-like weather . . .

We had a great trip to Jackson.  The Four Seasons was very nice.

They had an awesome pool – and the women that worked at the pool actually wore those big fuzzy hats – didn’t realize it was a uniform until I looked at the website.  There were heated lockers for your robe, s’mores with peanut butter cups and yummy warm cocktails that were served hot tub side.  (these are hotel photos obviously.  :))

The hotel was very cozy and peaceful . . . but our trip was not very cozy and peaceful . . . we skied from the time the mountain opened until it closed almost every day (I’m sure you’re very surprised).  Here is a map of the mountain.

Do you see the tram line – I actually went up there with Mike once. Black Diamonds in Wyoming are like Quadruple Black Diamonds back East.  I felt like my legs were going to buckle and that I was going to throw up . . . and we hadn’t even gotten off of the tram yet.  But with Mike’s gentle coaxing  I made it down in one piece, felt very accomplished . . . and NEVER went near the top again.  You would be very proud, Mike and I both wore helmets and I’ll probably never go skiing without one again.

Here are a few pictures of what our days looked like.  Notice the Bloody Mary picture . . . the outside bartender at the resort made the BEST BLOODY MARY ON THE PLANET so I had that include that in this post.  The deck to the right of the drink picture is where we hung out after a full day on the slopes.  They had a fire pit and it was usually sunny by that time . . . a great place to relax and plan your evening.

On Saturday morning, to give our legs a little break, we decided to go on a sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge.    The National Elk Refuge is 24,700 acres and supports 5,000-8,000 wintering elk and provides habitat and food for animals like bison, wolves, coyotes, bighorn sheep and several species of migratory birds. Here are a few pictures – it was an awesome little side trip.  That first picture is our tour guide, Lynn.

Also on Saturday night we went to a snowmobile trick show at the Jackson Fairgrounds.  It was part of Snowmobile Hill Climb World Championship.  I know, you probably didn’t know that there was such a thing!  Sebastian’s friend, Dane Ferguson, was in town from Alaska (they drove straight through!) to be a part of the show.  Here are a few pictures – some VERY interesting people watching.

Of course a blog entry of mine about vacation wouldn’t be complete without a restaurant review.  The Snake River Grill was saved for our last night and was well worth the wait.  Our dinner included Chorizo Stuffed Dates, Brussels Sprouts with Guanciale (which I later found out as pork jawl – GROSS – but really good), Toasted Chestnuts and Sage,  Pan Roasted Day Boat Scallops with Marinated Artichokes & Endive with Celeriac Puree, Cast Iron Roasted Elk Chop with Sweet Potato Mash and Romesco Jus (poor little Elk that we just visited on Mike’s plate!).  We of course finished it off with the SRG Eskimo Bars (which Giada De Laurentiis named the best thing I ever ate) which are chocolate-dipped brownies & vanilla ice cream with hot caramel dipping sauce.  This is what it looked like . . . warm and cozy like most of the places in Jackson . . . love it.

One of our favorite watering holes was the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar which is very cool and very cowboyish.  They had saddles as seats at the bar and the entire restaurant was made with knobbled pine from Yellowstone.  Here are a few pictures.

We also visited the Snake River Brew Company (2 breweries in 1 month – wow!) . . .

the Mangy Moose . . .

a place called the Village Cafe (BEST breakfast sandwiches, Americanos and oatmeal cookies),  The Peak which was in the Four Seasons, El Abuelito for Mexican in Jackson and this place called D.O.G that had the best breakfast burritos in town.

Great trip . . . but we’re exhausted and were so excited to see this little guy!

Mike is off to Miami tomorrow and then Dallas on Friday . . . I so wish I could tag along to get some sun!  Hope you had a safe trip home.

Written by bevanddara

March 29, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Next Adventure

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Of course now that I’m back from vacation I’m looking to plan my next.  I read about this “bootcamp” in the NY Times Magazine . . . really want to go!

Pacific Slim


 March 18, 2011, 10:00 am



PACIFIC SLIM At the Blue Pearl boot-camp spa in Laguna Canyon, you’re put through your paces in style.

I never thought I would be excited to see a van, especially a white, 15-seat Ford E-350 Super Duty XLT. (I fancy myself more of a vintage-Jaguar kind of girl.) But after a few days hiking the hills above Laguna Beach, Calif., which looked innocuous in the distance but felt like Kilimanjaro as I walked up them, the sight of Blanche, as I named her, at the end of the trail was pure ecstasy. I’d been at Blue Pearl Laguna, a new holistic retreat (read: boot camp) nestled in Laguna Canyon, for three days and 30 hours worth of yoga, hiking, gym workouts, more yoga, tai chi, nutrition lectures and very little food. I’d traded my Lanvin and Louboutins for a frightening bush hat, dirt-colored hiking shoes and one of those water backpacks with a tube that leads to your mouth. I no longer bothered to brush my hair. Or apply mascara. I had turned into someone I didn’t recognize. I had become sporty.

My fitness odyssey started fashionably enough. I was tipped off about Blue Pearl by Dawn Klohs and Denise Schaefer, the sisters who co-own A’maree’s, an über-stylish boutique in Newport Beach. I trust their taste in all matters, so when they told me there was a new off-the-hook yoga retreat right up the coast from them, I signed on for a week.



Opened last year by the well-respected yoga instructors Geo and Katresha Moskios, Blue Pearl isn’t the first boot camp in Southern California. (That would be the Ashram, in Calabasas, where Geo served as fitness director for eight years.) And it’s not the most expensive — the Ranch at Live Oak Malibu is a whopping $5,600 a week — but Dawn and Denise assured me it was the most special.

Be that as it may, doubts about my threshold for exertion and deprivation turned into full-on panic by the time my plane landed at John Wayne Airport. Who was I kidding? I hadn’t practiced yoga for 12 years, and the last hill I climbed was at a miniature golf course in 1975. Would I get enough to eat? I’d heard all the culinary horror stories about boot camps. Rattled, I stashed a granola bar from the in-flight snack pack into my carry-on before disembarking.

“Don’t worry, baby, you’ll be fine,” said Geo, who was waiting for me outside the terminal. I wasn’t so sure.But I was certain he knew about the contraband in my bag, because Geo has a knack for knowing things. One of the early champions of power yoga, he studied with Indra Devi in the ’70s and has a huge following in the Laguna area. His beautiful Australian wife, Katresha, a former model and Chanel spokeswoman turned skin care entrepreneur (her eponymous line has a cult following, especially the Katresha Face Oil), speaks with a soft purr that could charm a linebacker into child’s pose. The two of them are the heart and soul of Blue Pearl. “We’ve been at this for 35 years,” says Geo, who’s a youthful 64. “It’s not anything absurd or difficult. We just teach people how to live naturally.”

Living naturally, I learned over the next six days, means keeping the body moving, the mind quiet and the stomach satiated with low-calorie meals made from locally grown organic fruits and vegetables. Caffeine, alcohol and processed food aren’t on the menu. It sounds like a no-brainer, but as a person used to moderate exercise, sugar, coffee, bread and meat, it rocked me to my carb-filled core.



Happily, there’s nothing austere about Blue Pearl’s surroundings, a secluded compound that was once a Hells Angels chapter. The motorcycles and girlie posters have been replaced by orchids, lemon trees and furnishings that are a comfy cross between Christian Liaigre and Crate & Barrel. There’s a handsome stone fireplace in the great room (where guests gather each night for savory veggie broth and informal chats) and quiet nooks for reading, and all 12 bedrooms are outfitted with organic bedding and large bathrooms. The yoga studio is airy and inviting, with vaulted ceilings, a fireplace and Tibetan rugs. The Pearl also has a pool and Jacuzzi, massage rooms and a state-of-the-art infrared sauna.

Besides the hunky hiking guides, Derek and Conrad, the cutest draw are the dogs. Osso, a malamute puppy, is persuaded almost daily by Pepi the Papillon to dig an escape route into an adjoining dog run. Two days in, I wanted Osso to dig me a tunnel to La Sirena Grill, a local taco joint.

The schedule at Blue Pearl is similar to that at other retreats: a wretchedly early start, lots of lemon water, light meals, vigorous yoga, grueling hikes, weights, rest, massage time, tai chi (led by Vince McCullough, an incredibly fit and funny 79-year-old), more yoga and early collapse. But what really distinguishes it from the competition is the food. While some people go to ashrams to detox and decompress, most go to lose weight, and my group of eight was no exception. Everyone was seeking enlightenment of the most literal kind. Thankfully, the food was so good that we weren’t aware we were consuming less than 1,200 calories a day. Sure, bigger portions would have been nice, but who’s complaining? I lost eight pounds and 19 inches in six days.

Breakfasts (think juicy poached fruit with a dab of goat’s milk yogurt and a dusting of almonds and flax seeds) and lunches (perfect salads, including a Caesar so delectable that one guest licked the lemon dressing off his plate) were tasty, but dinner gets star billing. It was difficult not to devour a delicious vegetable tart in three bites. The stew of French green lentils with sheep’s milk yogurt rendered the humble legume haute, and Katresha’s famous nut and mushroom loaf was worth every one of the 60 trail miles we’d clocked. “When we chop vegetables, we put good energy and love into them,” Katresha says. She doesn’t believe in deprivation. “It never works. It’s all about balance. If you are really good 80 percent of the time, then the other 20 percent of the time you can lighten up and have fun.”

After our final lunch of tacos with a smidgen of low-fat cheese, my group expressed mixed feelings about leaving the womb. Would we make it on the outside? For six days, we had complained bitterly, but we were now stronger and healthier, thanks to the folks at Blue Pearl. As I was packing, I spied the hidden granola bar. I had come close to eating it about 14 times. I tossed it into the trash and headed to the beach.

Blue Pearl Laguna, (949) 715_1674; A one-week retreat is $3,800 per person.

Written by bevanddara

March 29, 2011 at 10:51 am

Jackson Hole . . . I’ll miss you . . .

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We’ve had such an amazing time.  I don’t think relaxed is the correct word to use right now . . . more like rejuvenated.  Write more when we get back (tomorrow evening).

Here is a little sneak peak.

Written by bevanddara

March 27, 2011 at 8:52 pm

We walked Manhattan

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Yep, we had quite an adventure.  On Friday, I started out at Janice’s, and drove to Newark meet Cathy, who had taken a train.  When she stepped into the car, she told me her flight had been wonderful.  No, didn’t read that incorrectly.  I picked her up in Newark, the airport train station is at the airport. It was a fairly easy drive to your apartment.  It is quiet here without you, Mike and Chester.

Cathy and I had a great weekend, thank you for the use of your home.  On Friday, we took the subway to Mood around noon.  Another place without a dog, Swatch had the day off.  I embarrassed Cathy by asking for the fake fur section.  It’s the FAUX fur section.  It’s hidden in the back of the top floor of Mood. Cathy wanted fur for her hoodie, now that spring is here.  We also bought red wool to make a purse that Cathy designed.  We then walked from 37th to Canal Street.  We had a stop at City Quilter, which is around 20th Street.  We bought NYC subway traffic for the lining of our NYC purses.  The cold (FREEZING) air kept us hustling to Purl Patchwork/Fiber on Broom Street.  Cathy was so impressed at how the traffic moved so quickly when drivers blew their horns.  Horn blowing by fire trucks was just as successful as that by other drivers. No one moved, even for them!  We were so happy we had driven by Purl, without knowing how close we were, earlier in the day and didn’t try to drive over the Brooklyn bridge at non-rush hour.  We squished into the subway for a ride home.  We checked mapquest to find out how far we had walked.  Your computer should be checked for mapquest errors…it said we only walked 2 1/2 miles.  Of course, that didn’t take the wind resistance into account.  That evening, Cathy was a tough taskmaster.  Every time I was ready to turn off the sewing machine, she squealed about how cute our NYC purses were, so I would sew another seam.  She finally let me go to bed around midnight.

Saturday started with a cup of coffee from my new favorite shop, which is next to Brooklyn Baked Goods. (Who knows the real name of the coffee shop?)  We wore warmer clothes, remembered our hats and gloves and headed to the Park Avenue Armory for the Red Quilt show.  It was amazing.  Stunning.  Spectacular.  There were 650 full size red and white quilts hung in the air, the walls were black, the setting was done by a theatrical designer, lighting was perfect.   To quote the brochure about the quilts, “While the idea of hundreds of quilts is impressive in the abstract, in actuality it is an unprecedented and immersive experience, both visually and physically.”  I’m reliving the incredible experience just writing about it. The show is on until  Wed.

Cathy and I continued our NYC fabric/crafting immersion by visiting several bead/button/notion shops.  I don’t think she will have any problem finding places to go the next time she Chet sits.  We learned that if you go back to Mood on Saturday, it closes at 4:00.  We returned to Brooklyn and had a delicious dinner at Williamsburger.  I had the awesome Asian Chicken Burger.  I think I’m going to learn how to make them at home.  We worked on the purses (I bet Cathy already has pictures on Facebook) and watched The Tourist.  I liked the movie, and Angelina had some GORGEOUS fashions.

Today, we went to the bagel shop and had bagels and coffee before I walked Cathy to the subway.  I really enjoyed our time together.  I moved your car (to Whythe and 4th- you have to move it on Tuesday.) I fixed your sweater, coat and Mike’s shirt.  I had a chicken wrap from one of the shops on Bedford for dinner.

I hope you are having a great time, enjoying the snow during the day and the fireplace at night!

I am leaving feeling re-energized.


Written by bevanddara

March 27, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Lady Gaga

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On  this morning they had this piece on Lady Gaga.  It coincides with this video interview of her

Google goes Gaga.  It’s over an hour-long so I’ve only watched the beginning, but looking forward to watch it in its entirety. 

11 Things We Learned From Lady Gaga’s Google Moderator Interview

On Tuesday evening, Lady Gaga wowed a crowd of Google employees and promoted the company’s Google Moderator service with a live interview from the company’s California campus. There was a Gaga look-alike contest, many awkward Gaga-rific costumes, and of course, the Lady herself, shilling her new record Born This Way. Here are some of the fascinating tidbits we learned from her hour-long interview with Google’s vice-president of consumer products, Marissa Mayer.

Her entourage taunts her with food.
Gaga often travels with an entourage of friend and musicians from New York, and they like to prank her. “There’s a lot of backstage shenanigans. Very often they make jokes about my diet because they know I have to stay fit for videos, so they’ll leave mounds of cheeseburgers and stuff in my dressing room. It’s really awful. It’s vicious.”

Her security detail kind of hates her.
“My security, they want to shoot me. Because I will literally leave the house and go to the bodega down the street where I live in New York and they’re like, “Where are you?” Where I live, I have been hustling for so long, it’s more just like, “You’re home.” Even though my first album was called The Fame, that was never the goal with all of this.”

The kids that used to bully her contact her for concert tickets now.
“There’s been lots of concert ticket requests. I think one of the most awkward things anyone ever said to me was, ‘Well my my, how the tables have turned.’ To be honest, I don’t have that kind of vengeful spirit and I never did. I say this with so much genuineness in my heart: Bullying stays with you your whole life. I was never the winner. I was always the loser, and that still stays with me.”

Gaga does the same vocal exercises she’s been doing since she was 11.
“I vocally rehearse every single day. I do a 30-minute warm-up every day. It’s been the same vocal warm-up since I was 11 years old.”

Marissa Mayer is a total dork.
During the interview, Mayer shared her 2009 Halloween pic of herself as Gaga with Gaga, her Google audience, and millions of YouTubers.

All of Gaga’s tattoos are on the left side of her body.
“It was actually per my father’s request. He asked that I remain, on one side, slightly normal.”

Gaga loves “David After Dentist.”
When asked what her favorite YouTube video is that isn’t hers, she responded, “It’s so embarrassing but I love it so much. I love the boy, when he comes home from the dentist! Whenever I’m really tired before I do a show, I always go, ‘Is this real life?'”

Lady Gaga would like to take her fans “away from the computer.”
“The fan experience that takes them a bit away from the computer in terms of the actual purchase of the song. I want to encourage the fans to experience the music and the lyrics removed of that sort of behind-the-computer banter. When I was a kid I was standing outside of HMV praying that I saw Billie Joel’s fingernail waiting to get my Green Day CD signed. That’s what I want to re-create for my fans.” Titters from the Google audience.

Despite writing a song called “Paparazzi,” she isn’t plagued by them.
“I have to be really honest: People who say they can’t escape the paparazzi are full of shit. Let me just be the artist to throw everybody under the bus. I don’t spend lots of money on houses or lots of cars, but I do spend money on security and they never find me.”

Lady Gaga doesn’t know about Rebecca Black’s video, “Friday.”
But, still! “I say Rebecca Black is a genius, and anyone who’s telling her she’s cheesy is full of shit.”

She’s addicted to yoga.
“I’m very into yoga. I’m actually really into crazy hot yoga in hundred-degree rooms. It’s the only thing I feel I can be really bad at and nobody knows. I guess that’s the thing about fame that’s difficult. If you screw up [pauses] Google is there.”

Written by bevanddara

March 23, 2011 at 10:55 am