Monday, March 30, 2009

Now Your Face Will Melt In Your Mouth, Not In Your Hand

If you have never sent custom M&M's to someone, you should. It's a great little gift and it isn't insanely expensive. I did them last year for my sister when she got married (I put Soon To Be Mrs. and her new last name on them) and she adored them. It's just a nice little way to put a twist on a classic and make it more surprising. Now you can even put any image onto an M&M. Imagine it, instead of your name up in lights, you can have your face on a piece of candy. At least until someone eats your face. I swear there's a movie idea in there somewhere -Chocolate Zombies From Hell, maybe? My writer friend Jordan came up with something better, not a movie title, but more of a tagline for the candy - Feed Your Inner Cannibal and Eat Your Face. Okay, he wins.



Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Peek at the Office of the Guru of Getting Things Done

I ramble on here all the time about how being organized is crucial. I truly believe it to be true. There are creative geniuses that can be messy and still come up with amazing work product, but I think if you can improve your ability to be organized by even a small amount, it will allow you to focus more on being creative and help you to do a great job at work. I have mentioned David Allen before on this blog, he's the author of the famous book Getting Things Done. This weekend I saw a brief video interview of him that features a look at his desk. It's worth checking out for some insight on smart ways to keep your desk in order.

Friday, March 27, 2009

An App You Can Sing To

Sorry for the lack of posts for the last day or so. I all of a sudden have had a couple of interviews, so I haven't been online as much. I have one later today as well, so this might be the only post. Sorry :)

Not sure how I missed it, because I'm the queen of the iPhone apps, but I just heard about Midomi and I had to get it. It's an app that you can sing into and it will figure out what song it is. You can also speak the words as well. I have Shazam which is sort of similar, but it only works with recorded music, you can't sing at it and that's a crucial difference. So if you're looking to add a new app to your phone or your boss wants to know which ones he should add, this is a good one. When I have more time, I'll do a list of all my favorite iPhone apps.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Procrastination KO

It's unrealistic to think you won't ever procrastinate, but you can't try to put up a good fight. One blog I love and read often that discusses productivity is Zen Habits. He did a recent post on procrastination that is short and really worth reading.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Soap To Play Games With

These soaps, shaped like various gaming controllers are truly wacky, but for the gamer in your life, they would be a complete hit.

Muppetastic

Here's a quick tip and then I'll be back later today with something else. If you want to get a showstopper of a gift for a kid or suggest one to your boss that will be really original, try a CUSTOM MUPPET! Yes, you heard me right, you can create your own muppet! It isn't super cheap (about $90), but for what it is, it's actually not that bad. If you want to read more about how to do it, go here.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Making Time To Follow Your Passion

Last post of the day and hopefully it's a useful one. I go on and on at times about being efficient and productive, but it really can make a difference between you getting things done and having time to work on your own creative endeavors and not ever getting to it. I really enjoyed this short podcast that had a few tips about setting aside special time (even if it is brief) during which you can't be disturbed when you are pursuing your passion.

Gifts To Get Well By

Finding the right get well gift can be challenging. You want something comforting and maybe a bit fun, so that it puts a smile on the recipients face. Here are a couple ideas I think are a good bet:

Cashmere Covered Water Bottle by Restoration Hardware - This is surprisingly reasonable and can be utilized more than once. A little cashmere never hurt anybody.

Dylan's Candy Bar Get Well Basket - If you want to go the sweet route, this looks yummy and the packaging is cute.

Get Well Basket from Star Treatment
- This gift basket has a bit of everything to soothe you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Magnolia Schmagnolia

I have said again and again that sending the same thing from the place everyone uses is boring and kind of predictable, so every so often I'm going to do a posting to suggest an alternative to a generally accepted place everyone likes. Today the subject is cupcakes in NYC! People love Magnolia Bakery and since Sex and the City made them even more famous, that's the only place people think of for cupcakes in New York. One place I like even better that also delivers (via courier) is Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery. At least check out the website and maybe next time you need to do a sweet food gift in NYC, give them a shot. You won't regret it.

GMAIL I HEART YOU

I'm kind of geeky and at times I'm proud of that. I LOVE Google in general and all the cool products they offer, but I especially Heart Gmail and the Google Calendar. Yesterday I Tweeted (yes that is the appropriate word for when you post something on Twitter and I know it's lame and kinda funny) about something really fantastic that Gmail just added as an option you can use for your mail - The Unsend Feature!! Read all about it here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Cult Of Done & Inbox Zero

It's appropriate that I don't have much time to blog today and I'm posting about getting things done. I just feel extra pressure to be job searching super hard today. Being home is making me INSANE. I might not blog as much once I get a new gig, but I don't plan to let it go completely. Anyway, if you have a bit of time, two things that are worth checking out are below.

Today someone on twitter (yes I know I keep bringing up Twitter - get on there already and FOLLOW me :) mentioned this Cult of Done Manifesto. It's short and total genius, so it's a must read. It's all about letting go of all the stuff that stops you from actually getting things finished. I'm printing it out and reading it again, at least once a week.

One other thing I love that I might have mentioned before is this great talk by Merlin Mann (a productivity guru) called Inbox Zero. He gave the speech at Google and the video of it is here. The video is all about getting at your e-mail, handling or organizing it accordingly and not letting it bog you down.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Using An Online Stopwatch To Make You More Productive

I'm often looking for little ways that I can make myself more productive. One good way that many productivity experts always suggest is working in focused bursts of activity. I find that this tip actually works (for me at least). One good way to do is to have some kind of stopwatch or online timer at your disposal. I like this one best for some reason. I pick what activity I need to focus on in that moment and I set it usually for about 30 minutes or so and then when the timer beeps, I take a break for 2-5 minutes (also timed) to check e-mail, etc. I often find that sometimes I won't even need the break and I'll skip it, but knowing you will get one shortly allows you to focus on the task at hand. This might seem nutty and kind of simple, but I swear it works.

Dessert Trend Alert

I had intended to blog about a productivity tip I'm into right now, but since I just read about something yummy and sweet, I thought I would do that first. If you're looking for a new treat to send out that isn't cookies or brownies, I have an idea for you. The New York Times did a piece today on Whoopie Pies and they look pretty good.

Here are a few of the places the article mentions you can buy them:

Williams Sonoma - They call them Sweetie Pies and do them in a heart shape.

Vermont Country Store -These look really good.

Cranberry Island Kitchen
- These look yummy and come in some cool shapes.

Trois Pommes Patisserie - No picture on this website, but the other desserts they sell look great.

All Weather Baby Gift Ideas

I will try to do another post later, but I thought I'd do a quick one to start the day. Good baby gifts can be hard to find. If you're new to the blog, check out this post I did previously with a variety of baby gift suggestions. One area I didn't cover in that post is finding fun, but useful gifts to give to people who live in places with harsh weather. Here's a couple of gifts I like:

Rain or Shine Kids Blankets
- This is a water resistant polar fleece blanket.

Lille Baby Eurotote - This is basically a soft and cozy baby sleeping bag that can be used in a stroller, but also has other uses.

Barefoot Dreams Cozychic Cardigan & Hat
- This item isn't quite as all weather durable as the other two, but it's a gift I give really often and people adore it. It looks really chic and it's very warm for wearing in cold weather. It's also really reasonably priced.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Drink It Up

If you or your boss wants to send an alcoholic beverage to a client or friend, I have a couple of local places (and one in NYC) to suggest and a few ideas for what to buy. Be forewarned, in this town MAKE sure you figure out if the person drinks or is sober before you send, as I have seen that particular mistake happen before and it's never pretty.

Top 5 Places to Buy

1) Wally's Wine - They deliver, have a great selection and are incredibly helpful.

2) Du Vin - My friend Ainsley loves this place. They also deliver and have a helpful staff. She often speaks to Rob.

3) Vendome in Studio City - If you are working in the valley this is a great option, but I'm not sure if they deliver. They have a surprisingly extensive collection and a great staff.

4) Sherry Lehmann in NYC If you're in NYC, this is the one place I always use.

5) BevMo - If you need something for yourself or price is a big issue, this place (many locations) has good deals and staff that's helpful.

What You Might Buy:

Champagne/Sparkling Wine:

Veuve Cliquot
is a good choice that's fairly reasonable.

If you want to do something a bit more special try this from
Schramsberg. My cousin Leah who works in the wine business and knows all about wine loves their stuff.

Riondo Prosecco
-
Gary Vaynerchuk from Wine Library TV (which I love) really likes this one.

Red:

For a reasonable one try, a Mondavi Cabernet. If cost isn't an issue, try a Silver Oak Cabernet.

White:

One that is liked by many is Sauvignon Blanc. A good one to try is this one from Frog's Leap Winery. If you have a boss or a client that is very into being eco friendly (and hopefully everyone is), this winery is known for being very friendly to the environment.

I love sweeter whites, so if you do as well, try this Gew├╝rztraminer or spend a bit more and buy this one.


Other Options Besides Wine:

Compass Box Whiskey - I have not tried this, but have given it as a gift for a boss and the recipient liked it quite a bit.

Crop Vodka - I just read about this over the weekend. It's an artisanal Vodka that is produced in a green/environment friendly way. It comes in some interesting flavors.

Frida Kahlo Tequila certainly has a cool looking bottle and has been well reviewed. If you want to break the bank, go for this Tequila .

Obviously this email includes lots of suggestions, but if you know your budget and a bit about the person, the best thing you can do is to go into one of the locations listed above and ask for help.

New Visitors To The Blog

Because of the Film News Briefs Mention today I'm figuring I might have a few more visitors, so I thought I would do a quick little post with a few reminders. I would love to have people submit questions (regarding gifts, tech, organization) to me and then I can answer them on the blog. It's listed in the about me, but I have a feeling people don't see that. E-mail the question to askthepa@gmail.com. My specialty is gifts and organization, but I'm also good with technology, finding the impossible and productivity tips. Also, if you don't have time to read the blog, but you are on twitter, I give similar advice and a bit of pop culture info there www.twitter.com/goldsteinkaren . If you have an urgent vendor question or something I can help with and you are on AIM - feel free to IM me at goldsteinkaren72. Right now I'm looking for a new personal assistant or writing gig, so I have extra time on my hands to be of assistance.

Your News in Brief

Film News Briefs rules and I'm not just saying that because they featured my blog today. Obviously, it's a good idea to read the trades, EW , Cinematical and various other entertainment new sources each day to make sure you are aware of what's going on in the town, but often you are too busy to digest it all. The solution is to get the film news briefs email. It's fantastic and it's free. I'm guessing many of you get it already, but if not, go sign up right now. It consolidates all the news from the trades, etc. into one quick and easy to read e-mail and also features a useful site to check out at the end. What could be be better.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sleepwalk With Him

These days I keep hearing more and more about comedian Mike Birbiglia. He was on Craig Ferguson last week, he's been on NPR and there's clips of him all over You Tube. He has a one man show in NYC that's getting raves called Sleepwalk With Me (Nathan Lane produces). He has a very particular style that's kind of hard to explain, so just watch one of the clips. Basically he tells lots of stories about his life in a very unique, fresh and fun way. It's always good to be aware about people that are starting to break out in a big way. Mike's been around for a bit, but he seems to be on track for becoming an even bigger star.

Just One Bite Will Get You

One great way to say thanks to a friend who helped you or a client is with cookies. With an item like cookies you have a million choices and it's hard to know who to pick. Here's a few of my favorites :

1) Snookies Cookies - I have used this place for quite a few years. They aren't crazy expensive, the cookies are yummy and the best thing is that you can get the cookies delivered with milk on ice. I love that extra little touch that makes them a bit more fun.

2) Isabella's Cookies - I only discovered this place in the last year. I love that they have so many fun and original flavors. A friend recently got these from someone and was raving to me about them.

3) Deluscious Cookies - These are really good and some of the unusual flavors they do at certain times of the year make them an interesting choice to send. You can also get them to deliver with milk that comes in glass bottles (makes for a nice retro, but elegant feel). The only thing that I would say about these is that they are a bit more expensive.

4) Levain Bakery - All three of the above are local (they all do ship to other places if you aren't in a hurry), but this place I heard of years ago from my friend Debbie and the cookies are amazing. They were actually featured on the Oprah show the other day in a piece about Cinnamon Rolls.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Two Baseball Gifts That Will Be A Homerun

Even I'm cringing a bit at the title, but I just couldn't pass it up. Just a quick posting with a couple of baseball related gifts that might be good for your boss or a client that loves baseball. Check out this new book about umpires or these cufflinks made out of real seats from various stadiums around the country.

Update on Elenis Posting From Yesterday

Hi All. I will hopefully do at least one more posting later today, but just a quick FYI that I wanted to share with you about the posting yesterday. Elenis is amazing and the cookies are cool, but sometimes the link to specific cookies on the site time out after a bit and it seems that is happening with the links from yesterday. The best thing to do if you liked some of the ideas from yesterday is to go to the main page here and look for the ones I mentioned. The golf cookies are under sports, the get well and nyc cookies are both under everyday.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Rare Short Postings :)

Okay, so as I said no long rambling postings today. I know all (10 of you?) who read the blog love the long ones, but you'll survive. I've gone on at length about the key thing for me with gifts is something fun, unexpected and unique. One place I like to order from that people really seem to like is Elenis. They are in NYC and deliver locally there, but ship anywhere. They can do custom cookies, but they do a bunch of different types of already cleverly designed cookies in a variety of themes. I blogged regarding the golf cookies here before, but I also love this cookie set to give to someone who is in NYC or going to visit. If someone isn't feeling well, you can send these. I do also like this other company that does custom designed cookies of all sorts.

Quick Tip & More Later

Hi all. I'm really focusing hard on job search and writing today, but I didn't completely want to ignore the blog, so I have one little tip for you now and I might post again later today. One site worth check out so that you can find trendy new restaurants, hip hotels and good shopping is Hipguide. It's been around for a bit, but I like it. It covers a bunch of big metropolitan cities, so it can be helpful if you're local or even if you aren't. It can also come in handy if your boss is traveling somewhere new for business or pleasure or if you are actually taking a vacation. Check it out to see some of the places it covers.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

3 New Bars You Might Not Have Heard About

Do you subscribe to the Tasting Table e-mail? If not, you should. It's like Daily Candy, but for restaurants and bars. Not convinced? Want a taste to whet your appetite? Read the one from today about 3 under the radar bars in LA you might not have heard about yet.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

If At 71 Jane Fonda Isn't Afraid of Change, You Shouldn't Be Either

If you're going to be in NYC or you have a boss who will be visiting, the best suggestion you can give him/her to do while they are there is to go see 33 Variations starring Jane Fonda. It's the first time in 46 years that she's been on Broadway. In addition to that scary feat, she's also blogging and on twitter. Considering that she was a bit of a Luddite before (by her own admission), it's amazing to me that she is jumping in head first to all of these challenges at once. The other extraordinary thing is how honest and refreshing the blog is for a celebrity. She talks openly about her fears. If she can dive in head first to all of those changes at 71, we all better check ourselves before we complain about learning something new or branching out no matter how scary it seems. When you want to stay in your little comfortable box and not try new things, remind yourself what an inspiration she is, suck it up and move forward like a champ. Jane would.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lessons You Can Learn From A Man That Really Loves Wine

I have a phone interview to prep for and I should be writing and job searching, but I'm so torqued up about this posting that I decided I would take a break and write it. A little while back I did this posting about unique wine books. One of the books I mentioned was by a guy name Gary Vaynerchuk who if you haven't heard has become a bit of an Internet phenomenon (especially in the wine business). Gary is a guy who was running and growing his parents wine business (successfully I might add), but he felt something was missing and that he wasn't quite happy. He decided to start doing videos about wine that were fun and enthusiastic and the opposite of the snotty and condescending type of stuff you would often hear from wine experts. Things have gone nuts for him ever since. His company is thriving, but he is also a speaker in much demand and his main message to people is about Passion and doing what you love. He spoke recently at a conference in New York and it's truly energizing and inspiring to watch, I swear if you take the time to click here and view it, you won't be sorry. I think it's the best talk on creating a brand I have ever seen.

The reason this relates to all of us that are working in entertainment (and truly it applies to all fields) is that it can be rough at times in this business and you have to really love what you do and want to be here to get through it.

By the way, Gary is big into Twitter, so if you want to follow him there either sign up and then follow GaryVee or you can check out his feed here without signing up (don't forget, you can see me on there as well). This article is about all of the actors, directors and writers that are on Twitter. My favorite so far is Jon Favreau.

A Lesson In How To Tell A Story

I'm going to keep this short because I want to work on tweaking my How I Met Your Mother spec and a rom com feature I'm doing. This morning at the gym, I was listening to the This American Life Public Radio Podcast. I could not get through the gym without listening to podcasts. The episode I listened to called Bad Bank was all about the banking crisis. You should listen to it for two really important reasons:

1) It is always good to be informed. I have talked about that at length. You never know who you might impress with what you know. Also the banking crisis is important to know about seeing as our economy is not on such steady ground.

2) There's an important creative lesson that can be taken away from listening to this piece as well. It's about the banking crisis, but they keep it simple and easy to understand and it's often humorous. It proves that you can take even a subject that would put most people to sleep and keep them engaged if you tell it the right way.

Okay, so I lied regarding keeping it short. Sorry.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Few Quick Gifts For The Little Ones

These shirts for little boys are stylish and cute, but the main thing that stands out is that I've never seen anything like them! As I've said, I love to give gifts like that, so that people are truly surprised. It's so much fun.

Another great kid gift to bring to a party is a cd by the band Lunch Money. I just heard this piece about them NPR and their music is entertaining for both kids and parents. The same for sure CAN'T always be said about other music for kids.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Ultimate Hipster Stroller

The title says it all. If you want a unique, but overpriced hipster (I have to admit sort of cool looking) stroller, this looks like a good bet. Great gift to give to a celeb if you have an unlimited budget.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Twitter Disease Has Gone Way Viral & I Caught It

Still unsure why, but I'm diving into the twitter pool. I will share some info from this blog, some shorter tips and god only knows what other kinds of stuff! If you want to check it out go here.

HAVE YOU MET TED?

Only a handful of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER watchers are going to laugh at that title and the posting is not about the show (although it is my favorite show on tv and you should check it out), but today I needed to make myself laugh! Ted (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an annual conference that defines its mission as "ideas worth spreading". The lectures, also called TED Talks, cover a broad set of topics including science, arts and design, politics, culture, business, global issues, technology and development, and entertainment. By the way, I stole that description because it was so perfect. Anyway, they have truly amazing speakers at Ted ranging from Bill Clinton and Al Gore, to Larry Page and Sergey Brin (the founders of Google) to performers and creative types of all sorts.

A couple of years ago they started posting many of the talks online and being the semi-geeky, curious, information seeking sort I freaked out because I was so excited. Last night, I watched this truly jaw-dropping talk from Ed Ulbrich at Digital Domain about how they created the effects for Benjamin Button. A couple of years back J.J. Abrams gave a talk about a mystery box he has that was a fascinating meditation on creativity, the need for mystery and the creative process. A few authors have also giving really intriguing talks about writing, creativity and how their own process works. Elizabeth Gilbert (best known for writing Eat, Pray Love) gave this talk about genius that really makes you perceive imagination and being in the arts for a living in a whole new way. Amy Tan (best know for writing The Joy Luck Club) also gave this great talk about creativity a few years ago.

When you are an assistant and especially if you have hopes of doing something else in the arts in the future, it's vitally important to read about and watch people like this (who do what you want to do) give such open and honest talks about what they do and how they do it. I dare you to not walk away more motivated and inspired to do your own work.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Quick Tip Tuesday

I'm trying to really focus extra hard on the job search and writing today, so this will be short. If you are an assistant in New York or if your boss goes there often this list New York Magazine puts out is a helpful resource about what is good in NYC . One other useful New York resource I like is Not For Tourists. If you like the info on Not For Tourists, check out the other cities they have and also the books they do for various cities. It's a unique guidebook to get because it isn't as much of the typical tourist stuff, but a bit more of what actual New Yorkers like.

The Coolest Business Card I Have Ever Seen

This has to be the coolest looking business card I have ever seen. Whatever brilliant person thought this up did what I am always saying is the best way to impress people - BE CREATIVE and people will remember you. I won't spoil it, because you really have to see it to believe it, but if someone gave you this card you would never forget them. As an added bonus, it's so aligned with the brand/company it comes from it makes you smile a little and think of their most famous product. It's worth it to take the extra time to brainstorm and do something that isn't bland and predictable because it will make people take you more seriously and value what you can add to the mix.