February 11, 2018 I had this exclusive invite by MER events to check out the Dark Side Bar (816 H Street, Northeast, D.C) at Mythology Lounge. This Pop-UP bar was open during this time in honor of the new Star Wars Film “Last Jedi” that came out around then. Admission costs usually run at $33 but MER events had a special discount. The best discount imaginable– they made this exclusive event FREE!
The Dark side bar enticed all sorts of folks ranging from Sci Fi fans, D.C wonks, brunch addicts, and the usual barflys you see around a nice Sunday afternoon. As an ardent lover of all things Star Wars this event was my personal highlight for my Birthday weekend. I decided to wear a silky pink Anne Taylor shirt and black slacks. I invited some of my close guy pals for this once in a lifetime opportunity. We all drove in one car and had some minor traffic issues.
The great thing about going to an event on a Sunday is ample and free street parking.
In celebration of the new Star Wars movie, there was DJ ripping top 40 hits, 90s classics, and some intergalactic beats that had the crowd bobbing heads. Last Jedi themed shots and drinks quenched thirsts. Patrons enjoyed six themed cocktails from different parts of the galaxy such as: Red Force, Blue Force, The Imperial, The Dark Side, The Galaxy, and The Mindtrick.
Drink preparations done by only the galaxy’s best bartenders flared up everyone’s Instagram pages. Because it was my birthday, I was given a complimentary Red Force drink prepared much like a drink prepared at Barmini.
The bartender mixed a few liquors, shook the ingredients in a silver canister, and lit the drink on fire! Smoke erupted from my glass and enveloped into a smog only reminiscent of the good times Darth Vader may have shared with some Storm Trooper he tried to choke hold.
Many of my friends joked that this party rivals Jubba the Hut’s own parties! Burlesque dancers dressed from head-to toe swayed, dance, and even pulled in some EDM inspired moves. Attendees had a ball dancing with the burlesque dancers and even had opportunities for unique photo moments. The entertainment was truly out of this world.
This event had an exhaustive menu with galaxy inspired brunch and dinner items. In addition to fine bites to eat, several patrons took this opportunity to pull out their Awesome Con outfits from last year to wear for this party.
This temporary Pop-Up Bar installation is meant to look like a bar inside the Death Star. As soon as attendees walked in, not only do they chuckle at a “Whose your Daddy” poster of Darth Vader but are welcomed to a lit, red neon sign that evokes both a dark and saturnine vibe only the dark side could bring. A storm trooper that also serves as a security guard stands on guard at the front.
Darth Vader makes his usual rounds and seems to also be a selfie addict. He would surprise attendees by making an unexpected appearance in group pictures and he also challenged a few attendees to a fight over the empire.
A death star disco ball twirled and sparkled atop the ceiling. There was red and black light jutting from the sides of the bar, and Star Wars themed posters taped on different parts of the bar. My personal favorite decor was around the bathroom. A cement replica block of Han Solo made a popular appearance.
Overall, this event by MER Events was my favorite thing about my birthday weekend! This experience was beyond my imagination and definitely satiated the young kid in me.
A major thanks to MER Events and Mer Wacco for inviting ‘Sharing the Details’ to this event.
MER events is a vibrant Events Planning company that covers galas, parties, and fun bar crawls in the Washington D.C area. Not only are they one of the best promoters in the D.C area but their prime goal is to get you out of the house! Live life by making new friends at crypto happy hour, eat a bottomless brunch at Policy, or be “James Bond” at Jets and Car party! Check MER events website here or check out new events here.
Three years ago, I had an exclusive phone interview with Aries Spear about his upcoming performance at the Washington D.C Improv. Thanks to my New Years resolution in keeping a tidier home, I was able to find this old tape recorder in the back of my drawer.
Spears is a lauded headliner in the area. He often sells out multiple shows within the day his tickets go on sale.
So seeing an Aries Spears show is brag-worthy. In addition, Spears has a strong underground following due to his large stint on the Fox sketch comedy show MadTV from 1997 through 2005. Spears has appeared in over 198 episodes, making him the second longest-serving cast member. Spears uncanny impersonations of LL Cool J, Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, Bill Cosby, Denzel Washington, Paul Mooney, R.Kelly, 50 Cent and OJ Simpson have forever cemented him as a cultural icon.
After MadTV ended, Spears had segments in All Star Comedy Jam in 2009, performed in the TV series The Underground, released a discography of his comedic skits called “I aint Scared (2005), and spearheaded his own comedy special called “Aries Spears: Hollywood, and Look I’m Smiling which was shown on Showtime, Aries Spears: Comedy Blueprint (2016).
On youtube, fans can watch perfect rap mash-ups of him freestyling as Snoop Dog, Jay Z, LL Cool J, and DMX, and laugh hysterically over his original short parodies: What you wish you could do, The Cosby Show, How a Fat person sees food, Help the Starving kids and Helpless Animals, and various other stand up specials.
As I was listening to this old, black, sony tape recorder (that cost me an arm and a leg back then) I detected nervousness on my part. I’ve been a huge fan of the comedian since I was 11 years old, watching MadTV whenever I wanted to stay up late on a Saturday night. I would try to mimic his sketches to friends and although his skits were a bit on the racy side, I developed fond memories of his impersonations over the years. As I grew older, I got into his stand up specials and comedy on Pandora’s comedy station. So looking back, I can see why I giggled, fangirled, and guffawed a bit too much during this interview.
Since this interview is more like an archive, read it like it’s a relic from the past.
Sherryn: Aries, are you excited to be back in D.C?
Aries: Yeah, I am excited. You know this is one of my favorite cities. This is one of my favorite places because it’s chocolate city!
Sherryn: Great. Next question. Do you keep in touch with anyone from “Mad TV”? If there is a reunion, would you ever be a part of it?
Aries: Well that ship has sailed and gone. Every now and then, I run into Will Sasso and a couple people. Debra and I were really close but I haven’t spoken to her in a long while.
Sherryn: So you will never do a reunion.
Aries: Nope. Not interested.
Keep in mind this is an interview from 2015. Spears did participate in the MadTV 20th anniversary reunion in 2016 right here and also guest starred in subsequent episodes of the show, when it was revamped that following year.
Sherryn: I love a lot of your shorts on youtube. What’s your personal favorite?
Aries: Well, I kinda like them all. But the one called “What you wish you could do” is pretty up there. Along with the Direct TV parody and the State Farm parody.
Sherryn: That one was hilarious.
Sherryn: For all the impersonations that you do, which one is your favorite.
Aries: Paul Mooney. He is an interesting character. It takes a lot to capture who he is and what he says. It takes more brain power to play him. Paul Mooney, from a personal perspective. Jay Z is fun to play since I am a huge Jay Z fan.
Sherryn: Do you have any new projects coming up?
Aries: I am about to do a new special. In the end of September (2015). Fingers crossed, hoping to get my own sketch show. I am kinda doing what Chappelle did but a lot racier and a lot edgier. Trying to get on a network like Showtime, HBO or even Netflix. Where I have no censorship.
Sherryn: I know on previous interviews, you have often called out celebrities. You have stated in the past that Kevin Hart hires writers for his skits? What is the verdict?
Aries: I think Kevin Hart is a phenomenal guy. A talented comedian. I kinda look at it like sports. How you dole out credit for being a superb athlete. If its all you and just you, then you deserve all the credit. Then all the negative is not warranted. People helping you develop who you are and what you say. There should really be an asterisk in there.
Sherryn: I see what you are saying. My last question is a bit goofy but If Shaq ever does a sequel to “Kazaam” would you ever consider being his genie friend?
Aries: Uh… Hahahaha. Depending on how much they pay me. I will be his genie bitch.
Much like New York City, Washington D.C is a hub for what’s hip and trendy. Whether its hitting up the swankiest ramen spot or waiting in a laboriously long queue to check out the latest art installation at the Hishorn Museum, D.C is the spot to go to be a part of the “know.”
Pop-Up Magazine is a San Francisco concoction made of live performances, the written word, moving visuals, a vibrant orchestra, and diverse journalists who cover editorials on: Government affairs, Media, Advice, War, Society, Self-Help, Profiles, Health, City Life, and Culture–much like what you would read in the latest issue of a magazine but only better, and less prolix chatter.
I snagged an exclusive invite to cover this event and to provide live social media coverage with a pal.
Surprisingly, I found a parking garage nearby that only charged $8 for the night. I often have issues finding street parking by Lincoln Theater so I opted for a parking garage. Along with parking, I decided to wear my White House Black Mark basic long sleeved black shirt (with silver buttons dotted along the sleeves), J Crew faded blue jeans, and Italian leather boots from Nordstroms. My friend wore a black dress. Much like New York, wearing black in D.C. is a safe fashion bet.
Sponsors for the live production were Amazon Studios, Resy, Impossiblefoods.com, Citi Foundation and Mail Chimp.
Freebies offered was complimentary beer, a deal with Mailchimp mail marketing, a complimentary app from Impossible Foods, a rousing game of media bingo, and a few free issues of California Sunday Magazine. Despite the magazine being state-centered (many of us live in the DMV area), the features are relate-able to anyone.
Photography was not allowed at the event so I apologize in advance for not being able to give you a visual sneak peak. Fortunately, taking notes was permitted. Hurrah!
The Lincoln theater is a great venue for this type of art-forward performance. We had orchestra seats– plush, velvety, seats– in square view of the stage. The live music on stage, led by the Magik Magik Orchestra, wove audible beauty with violin strings, piano keys, drum beats, and a seasoned conductor. Music amplified vocal and visuals to the nth degree, for example, a live car chase was presented in the beginning, middle and end of the show as if it was occurring at this moment. If it wasn’t for the music, and excellent commentary, would I have witnessed audience engagement at a high level? Members of the audience laughed, had their eyes glued during heightened chase scenes, and seemed enthralled by this and several segments presented at the event.
From the 12 segments I watched, here are my favorites:
1.) Hot Pursuit by Mary Melton. The car chase. It’s simple, seductive, and historically accurate on what inspired 24 hour news channels like CNN and Fox News.
2.) Power Pose by Aparna Nancherla. I’m a fan of Nancherla and most everyone in the South Asian diaspora follow her tweets, obsessively. She humorously and realistically exemplified how to use one’s social awkwardness to own an otherwise bad social, personal or professional situation. After this segment, I clearly saw her become a hero to most.
3.) The God Committee by Brooke Jarvis. Imagine if a small group of highly influential (not necessarily knowledgeable) people in your community dictate yay or nay if you and other loved ones are allowed to receive chemotherapy for cancer? Jarvis eloquently details a feature story on the pain, anguish, and confusion of making this decision in the eyes of the decision maker.
4.) Public Speaking by Daniel Alarcon. What started as a simple juxtaposition of two languages interpretation of a story transformed into a heart-wrenching tale of how a country is subjected to lose their native tongue in favor of another language forced upon by an apex nation.
5.) Gophran’s Journey by Erin Trieb. The story starts with a 13 year old girl devoting her time and energy as a medic in her country and ends with a tale on how gangs, drugs, and a corrupt government can eviscerate the most innocent. Trieb’s story telling talents evinced deeper empathy and understanding from the crowd.
My friend and I were about to purchase snacks, but we were a bit hungrier than the average attendee there. We wanted a meal. Lincoln logs (cream-filled chocolate cakes) and pop corn wasn’t going to cut it at the concession stand. So we made a short trek to Ben’s Chili bowl for half smokes and cheese fries. It’s the D.C thing to do. Watch a show and eat where all transplants and the like love to eat.
As a first-timer, I was impressed. I also learned that Pop-Up Magazine has shows across the United States in San Francisco, CA; New York, New York; Los Angeles, CA; Austin, Texas; New Orleans, LA; and Atlanta, Georgia. If you live in those regions, please check this show out here. If you live in D.C, do not fret. Pop-Up Magazine will return in February of this year.
Last Thursday, I had an exclusive invite to the Political Playbook Holiday Party sponsored by the National Restaurant Association in Washington D.C. I was lucky enough to find a parking garage right across from the location that only charged $5 for the rest of the evening (2100 M St. NW, Washington, DC, 20037).
This was a business casual affair so I donned on a gray striped Calvin Klein dress and paired that with Kate Spade patterned stalkings and Italian leather boots. As soon as I walked through the doors, I was floored by the arrangements. There were several tables laid out with high-end finger foods, a dessert table intricately lined with an eclectic array of desserts, wait staff serving mini beef wellingtons, and a kitschy photo corner where guests wore Christmas and New Years props for goofy pictures.
Not only was I pleased with the complimentary coat check (an uncommon thing in D.C) but the food made my taste buds go wild. For the savory side, guests sampled maple and ale glazed ham, beef rosette on pumpkin risotto cake, gravlax, cashew chicken, individual corn souffles, upside down wild mushroom tart, tomato & basil french toast, mini thrice baked potato provencal, brie with cranberry compote, and artichoke dip with pita rusks. I paired this meal with delicious cognac courtesy of Hennessy! There were too many liquors and craft beers to choose from but for this holiday meal, I only wanted the best liquor in my book.
For the sweet side, guests savored delicately designed sugar cookies, petite fours full of gingerbread, raspberry mousse squares, chocolate mice, bon bons, italian custards, and various other desserts that have European-centric roots. There was a coffee and tea stand adjacent to the dessert section. Although I have a well known sweet tooth, I had to pair my chocolate mice with rich, creamy, coffee.
In between snacking, I mingled with journalists from Politico, The Washington Post, CNN, Hill staffers, and the World Bank. So this party is where journalists and top-notch communication professionals hob nob during the holidays. I also saw White House staffers, the FCC, and other notables mingle, drink, and be merry with the rest of the darkly clad D.C. folk. Wearing black is not always a New York thing, it’s definitely a D.C fashion statement for professionals.
Conversation was ripe, and of the times. Again, I won’t spill but am happy to confess that the banter I heard between so many different parties is worth retweets, Facebook likes, and emoji-based replies.
A parting gift from the evening was a cozy, red, politico handbook winter hat and a complimentary picture from the photo booth. My friend and I dressed as a magician and a rabbit. We had fun concocting silly poses within a 5-6 second time frame for each shot.
This was definitely a classy affair catered to the D.C communications crowd. As many know, Communications professionals are ardent food and fine liquor lovers, so, naturally, this holiday party is the right touch to conclude the year with.
The White House correspondents dinner tends to be a huge event in the Washington D.C area. What many non D.C residents may not know is that there’s the main dinner and there are are sprinkling of exclusive dinners connected to the big event. With many White house Correspondent parties getting cancelled, the Creative Coalition stepped up to open up their gala.
I had an exclusive invite this year to attend the 4th annual Creative Coalition #RightToBearArts gala on April 28, 2017. This star-studded event was held at Flavio DC, one of Georgetown’s premier Italian restaurants.
This year’s gala was relevant to the times, especially since the recent proposed budget cuts may eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and this program is responsible for kids across the nation to visit art museums, learn literature, music, theater, design and beyond. NEA is an independent federal agency that funds funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation.
The event was attended by The Creative Coalition’s celebrity delegation headed to Capitol Hill earlier that day in an effort to bring their “#RightToBearArts” campaign to elected officials. The delegation was comprised of: Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, Sarah Wayne Callies (“Prison Break”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Chad Lowe (“Pretty Little Liars”), Alyssa Milano (“Mistresses”), Denis O’Hare (“American Horror Story”), Nick Sandow (“Orange Is the New Black”), Aaron Staton (“Mad Men”), and Matt Walsh (“Veep”).
Along with the delegation, leading Washingtonians, top celebrities, and media convened to dine on a delicious 3-course menu.
The sweltering heat, did not stop me from having some interesting one-on-one interviews with Chad Lowe, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Matt Walsh, and Sarah Wayne Callies.
Each star had their own views on federals cuts towards the arts. What we can all agree upon is that a slash to art funding will not only upend the nations future by depriving a healthy outlet for children to expand their minds but will also curb resources in poorer regions to be able to cultivate one’s critical thinking skills.
Question: What are your thoughts on the federal cuts to the arts programs?
Chad Lowe: So, ironically, enough the Federal Government wants to increase spending on Defense but wants to cut the Arts funding. Keep in mind spending for the arts is only just 0.004 percent of the budget. The federal government must set an example of prioritizing funding for the arts. What most people don’t realize is that the arts funding is not going directly, per se, to Hollywood. This funding goes directly to theaters, museums, dance classes, workshops, and other outlets that let children from all walks of life be able to participate in. Funding of the arts spreads to the greatness of the country and even secures our status as a great nation to the world. Where we are placed in the history books is how we value and treat our citizens. The arts shape history and also preserve our culture. The arts withstand the test of time by cultivating a society and enriching those to find their potential. By cutting out the arts from people’s lives, we are taking away a basic human necessity for further growth.
Matt Walsh: Money has been going into this infrastructure for quite some time. A contribution to the arts directly correlates with college enrollment, top university success, and with creative minds ready to embark on making a change for the world. Without enough resources for the arts, kids will not be able to develop stronger independence skills or be able to have the confidence to make their own path, whether if it’s in the arts field or elsewhere.
Wendi Mclendon-Covey: So we all went up to the Hill today to advocate for the Arts. This is unsurprising but both parties were on our side. There’s bipartisan support for having the arts.
Sarah Wayne Callies: The arts balances out children, adults, everyone. We need the arts in order to thrive as a collective society and to get even better.
This event was also sponsored by Hollywood on the Potomac,Maestro Dobel Tequila, Line 39 Wines,Blue Moon Brewing, and Blackwing Pencils.
About The Creative Coaltion
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan social and political advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Founded in 1989 by prominent figures in the creative community, including actors Alec Baldwin, Ron Silver, Christopher Reeve, Susan Sarandon and Blair Brown, TCC educates and mobilizes leaders in the arts community on issues of public importance, specifically in the areas of First Amendment rights, arts advocacy and public education.
The fashion industry is bursting at the seams with models, designers, stylists, photographers, and agencies that are looking for the next Gigi Hadid. However, the industry is scant on multi-faceted agencies that shape models into business moguls. This is where First Model Union World Wide (FMUWW) comes in.
FMUWW is a singular agency, founded by Michael Hutson a.k.a. Monichi, that underscores the importance of the French term Poursuit de la Mode: the pursuit of fashion in business. Michael Hutson is the CEO of FMUWW and a renowned photographer. He believes
“Everyone is trying to pursue some type of industry in the form of fashion.”
With this mantra in mind, he created FMUWW to be an agency that shapes and molds a vast clientele of models, designers, and bookers into business owners. Fashion and sole proprietorship go hand-in-hand with this business concept. It’s unique in that fashion agency clients get real-world business skills, experience, and even contacts to assist them as they go out into the industry to pave their own path.
The overall goal of FMUWW is to educate, elevate, and inspire its clients to be leading future stars that embody true leadership potential. Leaders teach others to succeed, period. In the age of millennial entrepreneurship, this axiom is often not as widely practiced in other fields–let alone the Fashion field.
Often in an office culture, an environment of backstabbing, ruthless competition, and distrust molds into a company’s mission, but FMUWW’s goals and beliefs are a diametrical opposite of society’s norm. In short, it’s a breath of fresh air given the times.
Along with shaping each of its models to be a leader, FMUWW also grooms each to be a brand.
The clientele tends to consist of international models hailing from Ethiopia, the UK, and France, who are given lessons on modeling, posing, and runway etiquette. They are also given courses on how to make their money work for them.
Additional services include on-set traveling, designer housing (Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania), local- and long-distance traveling opportunities, and test shooting.
Are you a model who wants to cultivate your leadership skills? Contact Michael Hutson aka “Monichi” for more information: email@example.com.
Escape rooms are a national trend that I actually agree with.
This concept became a trend in 2014 when a group of entrepreneurs wanted to provide millenials a real-life video game experience where players solve puzzles in under 60 minutes as a way to escape the room they are trapped in.
Before I had my first escape room experience, I falsely assumed that players try to go through several rooms, in an ornate mansion, in order to shore up evidence to solve a big mystery at the end. When I brought six of my friends to The Great Escape Room in D.C (located on 1730 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington D.C) we were floored with the Sherlock Holms-style mystery we had to solve, the ancient mars bars used as a clue, and the uv ray nightlight (plus other cool tools, tricks, and games) we used to solve each puzzle.
Sixty-minutes may sound like a short amount of time to many of you but when you have multiple puzzles to solve, clues to unearth, and humorous amounts of stress layered in between each game, you feel like you’ve been playing this game for a long while.
What I really liked about The Great Escape Room was that all players had to work together, cohesively, in order to solve each puzzle consecutively. Without teamwork, trust, and communication I doubt we would’ve solved the puzzle just in time. In fact, this experience further bonded my rag-tag group of friends.
After our experience, we devoured copious amounts of gelato at Dolcezza by Dupont circle and kept rehashing items we all couldn’t find and word games that really twisted our minds. A funny moment that happened at the escape room was when one of my friends, Dan, came 15 minutes late and he walked through the door we were trying to escape out of. Our guide joked that she knew who the trouble maker in our group was. I just knew based on our guide’s sense of humor that the team behind The Great Escape Room really wants everyone to have a memorable time.
In fact, our guide for The Great Escape Roomwas very helpful whenever one of us was stuck. She guided us with hints and boosted our confidence over solving even the most cumbersome puzzle. When I think of the color green and puzzles, I will always remember the most difficult place to find a missing clue piece. Some memories, like that on and of my friend Dan coming out of the wrong door, are happy memories I will always cherish with me when I think of The Great Escape Room.
My friends universally agreed this experience is perfect for birthdays and many have said that they want to go back there again in the near future. I know that if I wanted a surefire way to teach leadership skills and teamwork to a group of eclectic personalities, I would recommend this experience.
Sometimes it’s good to take a break from playing a video game and to just experience the real thing.
As you get older, it does get harder to celebrate your birthday. Each year that passes by could only mean wrinkles, gray hairs, and a slower metabolism. Although this timely holiday may be hard to stomach for some, for me, it’s a great opportunity to amass great discounts for the month of February and to live it up
If you enter “birthday freebies AND list” on Google you will garner pages upon pages of discounts you can cash in on your birthday that are ranging from burger joints to clothing stores. One year I had a coupon for a free desert ($4.00 in value) at Le Madelines and for a burger ($9.00) at Ruby Tuesdays. If you take advantage of these lists and at least sign up for these deals 30 days before your birthday, you could possibly get away with eating free for an entire month. One caveat is you may get bombarded with spam-ish e-mails but I do have faith that you all will figure out a way around that.
If you don’t feel like typing this simple keyword in, you can also click on the following links to easily access these birthday discounts:
In fact, if you want to take the extra step, download this free app called bdayfreedayapp from the apple store. On the week of your birthday, it tells you which birthday discounts you can cash in your immediate area.
Freebies aside, that’s not the only facet you can take advantage of on your birthday. On the day of your birthday you dictate what you want to do and you have the opportunity to garner a mass following to do so. All it takes is for you to be a bit vocal on what you want.
This year for my birthday, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. I was vocal with my best friend, boyfriend, and even close friends over what I wanted to happen; and I also took the extra initiative in planning everything out. Before I get into how I made my mini dreams come true, I do want to say the following: Not everyone can read your mind and not everyone has the time to throw you a surprise party. Life is not always like a Lifetime or Hallmark movie where the lead gets a surprise party thrown at the beginning and her wishes somehow come true just by thinking it.
In real life, you say exactly what you want and throw your own party. By taking initiative and by being confident in what you want, you feel more joy because you are solely responsible for your own happiness.
This year, I went to New York City with my best friend, hung out in Frederick, Maryland with the boyfriend, and threw myself a grand party. My best friend and I planned everything in advance and I was able to do almost everything I wanted to do. In Frederick, Maryland I communicated enough with my boyfriend exactly what I wanted and I was able to eat at the best restaurant in that area. If you guessed Volt, than, yes, I totally ate there. For my grand party, I planned each activity out in advance and was easily able to sway all of my friends to cooperate. Birthday’s are special days that commemorate your existence and it would be such a waste to squander it due to age insecurities or to peer pressure.
New York City
So you all clearly see that I am having a blast, right? Well, I want you to be able to take advantage of your birthday and do exactly what you want.
Here are some tips, tricks, and off-the-cuff ideas to help YOU take advantage of your birthday.
1.) Employ bucket list ideas into your birthday party. When you plan your party, it’s always your rules. Plan activities out in advance and let your guests know what’s ahead and what they should bring. I was reminiscent of my younger days so I wanted to have a massive pillow fight, like the one in Washington D.C last year. I told everyone in advance to bring a pillow and everyone was ready to pretend they were fighters from “Mortal Kombat”. Having a massive pillow fight, as an adult, was on my bucket list and it was sheer joy seeing all of that play out with a willing crowd.
2.) Make it a potluck. If you are worried about costs, assign a dish for everyone to bring. Your birthday is a special day and I am sure everyone is willing to pitch into make it even more special.
3.) Add spontaneity. As we get older, it’s harder to be spontaneous. Catching up with friends tends to be a challenge since it all has to be scheduled in advance. Your birthday party is a special time for you to be random. Let’s say you feel bored for a hot second and want to go out for a chocolate milk shake. You can easily get everyone board and just drive to a local diner. Since you are dictating your own party, you are the leader so what you say goes.
4.) Be Frugal. Parties can be expensive so it’s best to be smart when it comes to decorations, foods, and with everything else. If you want to save massive dollars, go to Michaels on a weekday and check out their clearance items. Also remember that your local dollar store has all the party supplies you need. If you mix those two together, you will be able to aggrandize your home without emptying out your wallet.
5.) Plan Multiple Outings. Your birthday doesn’t have to be just one day–it can span a month with the right kind of planning. My best friend and I love New York city so we both planned everything in advance. Since our trip was in celebration of my birth, we were able to eat at my favorite Korean, Falafel, and bakery-type spots. Not only that but our instagram game was point. In fact, use your birthday as a personal excuse to get out of town for a day or two. Go to that exotic spa in Arizona, ski down the best slopes in Vermont, or even go skydiving in California. Because this your birthday, your pals will want to support you in your endeavors and join you in all of the fun. Life is truly short and there isn’t enough time to celebrate the beauty of life. Just saying.
6.) Look and Be at your Best. Confidence can be found inside out. When you dress your best you do feel your best. No matter what, whether you are having a party with friends or you are at the office, wear your best outfit. If money is an issue, Goodwill and Amazon can take care of that (they often sell high-end clothes for pennies). If you are naturally slovenly, make it that on the day of your existence you dress to the nines since we all need to celebrate your life. Once you get this step taken care of, you will emotionally feel like you have a stronger control of your day and be able to helm all birthday activities.
7.) Eat like royalty. Go on Yelp or Google Reviews and pick the best places to eat. Invite all of your friends out too. Not everyone goes out to eat and when they do, it’s often to a chain restaurant or a local diner. When it’s your birthday, you need to treat yo’ self. If you have a hard time picking the best place to eat, look up who your local food bloggers are and see what they say. Whatever is the snootiest response, that’s where your dollars gotta go. It’s your time to eat foi gais on croquettes.
8.) Give yourself a Surprise Party. Yup. You can totally get away with this. Just tell one of your trusted friends to help you plan your party and they can tell everyone else you have no idea that this party is going on. When it’s D-day and you are walking through that golden door, that’s when you can use your best acting skills to pretend that you had no idea. For your pretend surprise party, tell your friends (hosts) to make sure that everyone is using confetti poppers once you enter inside. You can even have them lay out activities that you haven’t done in awhile (chocolate flight, twister, truth or dare, paint ball, etc). If you really want to go above and beyond, you can theme the party and have everyone dress up as someone from a favorite movie you like. There was this one episode of Community where Jeff (smarmy but kind lawyer) planned a Pulp Fiction themed party and demanded that everyone dress up for their friend Abed. If you have seen the episode, just know that you can have the same exact party like him if you plan in advance and coral everyone involved.
9.) Get Outside of your Comfort Zone. Have you always wanted to have a food eating contest but were too afraid to do so? Or better yet, are you terrified of snakes? Use your birthday as an excuse to plan those activities so you not only entertain your friends and family but you can also make yourself a stronger person that year. When you are able to push your own internal boundaries, on the day of your birth, you feel emotionally exulted and free to take on any other challenges in your life. This is also a smart career move if you need that extra boost of confidence in working towards that promotion.
10.) Make Unruly Requests. It’s the only time of year you can get away with doing this. You can’t really do this during Christmas and you can’t really get away with this on Valentines day either. On your birthday, if you want to spend the entire day at the spa than do it. You can try to have a family member take care of your personal errands for that day. We all understand. Better yet, if you have a friend who sings well, you can request on that day that they sing songs by Queen, David Bowie or even the Backstreet Boys. It’s your birthday, and you can demand if you want to.
11.) Everywhere you go. Tell the world it’s your birthday. This bit of advice works well at ski resorts, bowling alleys, and especially at all restaurants. So many businesses have quiet deals for birthdays and you may not know about them since they aren’t always advertised. Not only that, you can get away with asking for the entire month since your birthday is too much of a grand event to isolate for just one, short, day.
12.) Remind people over and over again that your birthday is coming up. Not everyone has a scheduler on hand and not everyone goes on Facebook. Remind enough but don’t be whiny about it. When people remember your special day, they will take it upon themselves to treat you right.
13.) Save up. With all great endeavors comes financial responsibility. Plan what you want several months to a year in advance. Create an estimated budget and allot an ample amount of cash. This may seem like common sense but many do forget to save for their big day and just opt for free meals or for parties that are too kitschy due to egregious costs.
14.) Openly declare what your birthday dreams are. This may sound childish but it does work. Let’s say you dream of riding an elephant on your birthday. You keep communicating that to everyone and you keep reminding yourself what you want, that it’s bound to happen. Whether you save up money for this activity or if one of your friend’s started a kickstarter program to get you that dream, anything can happen if you declare it. I mean, look at Kanye West. Albeit, he did work hard for his successes but he did declare what he wanted in life and got it. I am not advising to have a Kanye-sized ego but I am advising to dream big and to go after what makes you happy.
So there you have it. This is how you take advantage of your birthday. You squeeze all opportunity out and use your time wisely.
If you want to follow more tips or just want to say hi, follow me on Twitter (@SherrynDaniel) or check out of my foodie pics on Instagram (SherrynBlog).
So what does a food writer do? Type this statement into Google and you will see a plethora of results that examine the definition, tasks, and requirements behind being a highly sought after food writer.Now, my favorite food writing advice comes from acclaimed Washington D.C food writer, Monica Bhide.
2.) Go out into the world and immerse your senses in food. Listen to foodies, smell clementines, and hone into your senses.
3.) Read voraciously.
4.) Get used to rejection.
If you love her advice (which you should) definitely tweet her here.
Aside from studying the concept of food writing, the best way to learn about food writing is to learn for yourself; That’s what I did several years ago when I first started in the gourmet food industry. I was a fledgling when it came to truly understanding how a Hershey chocolate bar could never supersede deluxe bars of milky brown gold from Belgium (craving Belgian chocolate right now). Now I am armed with the ingenuity, foresight, and verbal dexterity to write either mouth-watering restaurant or product review.
Along with writing, so what does a food writer do? Well, here’s a candid picture behind this food writer that I hope will help you along your own food journey.
1.)Network and learn from trade shows. It’s a given but attending the NASFT Fancy Food show, and other regional food shows across the U.S not only cultivate your senses with unique delights (mushroom flavored mochi) but this is the best place to create everlasting relationships with notable key figures. A few years back, I attend the Summer Fancy Food Show and struck a fun conversation with the CEO of Tortuga. After we chatted, I was able to sample his new line of rum cakes and had a memorable time reviewing them for my blog. Primarily at food shows will you stay abreast with food trends and also learn about new products before the public does.
2.) Try new foods and don’t wimp out. It’s basically a given but how can anyone write about food if they don’t know what it tastes like. Also, when I say try new foods I don’t mean just new American or just fancy foods at pricey restaurants (that’s just being a poser). I mean foods from all over the world that both tickle and intrigue your senses. Why not eat some couscous with your shakshuka? Or try something else aside from chicken tikka masala. For my past birthday I received this delicious subscription boxset. Try the World lets foodies sample exotic spices, teas, jams and beyond from countries like France and Thailand. My baked chicken was a success this week thanks to the French persillade from Mont Saint Michel and also a dosage of butter to moisten up the bird.
3.) Write.. Duh! Learning how to write about food is both a culinary and artistic experience. When I first started, I would do online and offline research on foods. I would later create an outline, fill that in with information I gathered from diverse sources, and write out my thoughts as simply as possible. It’s always best to remember KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) but it never hurts to throw in fancy food words here and there if you thoroughly know what it means. Use your imagination, freely. Do not feel constrained by what your peers are writing too since writing, in itself, is an art form. Read from notable food writers online and learn to write like them. Once you gained the confidence to write like them, freelance and write for notable food blogs like We, The Eaters. Once you finely tune your craft, feel free to start your own food blog and brand yourself.
4.) Meet and eat with foodies. When you are in the food industry, it’s hard not to meet up with other foodies. If you are new to being a food writer, just do a simple Google search, and you will find other food bloggers in the area. Definitely connect with them on social media and start a relationship there. You can find fellow foodies on Instagram and on twitter if you type in #foodie in the search bar. Social media is all about connecting. In fact, I met my food marketing expert friend, Jimmy Matorin through Linkedin. (check out his blog here) You can also find fellow foodies at food shows and through events sponsored by your favorite newspaper. As an avid reader of The Washington Post weekend guide, I often look up food shows, festivals, and restaurant openings in the area. Buredo (burrito sized-sushi) recently opened up and I know that the first people going there are tweeting and blogging about this delicious occasion. Don’t be shy! Exchange e-mails, meet up for coffee, and learn by listening.
5.) Learn and be social on social media. A great segue from connecting with foodies on social media is to also pick up on trends. Download a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Snapchat apps. Perform a Google search on local and on national food bloggers, youtubers, and celebrities like Rachel Ray and Giada De Laurentis, and follow them through these apps. Often times these foodies are posting content on current food trends. Also follow esteemed food journalists, publications, and photographers too if you want to get article ideas or even partner up on a new venture. When you click on food-related hashtags and follow up on conversation you will instantly get fresh information you can use for your articles.If you want to engage further, subscribe to food threads on quora, reddit and on Linkedin. Provide value by giving information or articles to readers that are of interest. Lastly, If you want to pay it forward (great movie, by the way) offer to write up a review for a new restaurant or help a new food company out with a product review. Newer establishments often post on social media and this is also a great way for you to get your foot in the door.
6.) Subscription magazines are not dead. As you see above, I have a subscription to Food and Wine. I am really excited about this since this is the premier magazine for recipes, food trends, and information on getting the best of the best. I also recommend getting a subscription to Saveur, Bon Apetit, and Fine Cooking. If money is tight, than you can also fatten up your RSS feed by subscribing to notable food bloggers. Try using these keywords “food bloggers AND foodies AND List” into Google. Peruse some of these lists and select food bloggers that you trust. Not all food bloggers are credible so pay close to attention to what they write, how factual it is, and if they fit your own niche.
7.) Cook until your finger nails are encrusted with flour. My fingers are still caked with flour but I do know that they have no regrets. When you are hands-on in the cooking process you learn more about what it takes to craft a fine dish. If you are a novice in the kitchen start out with simpler recipes. Type “Easy buzzfeed recipes” into Google and peruse those links. I can attest that these recipes are easy to use. I made a five ingredient spaghetti carbonera from Buzzfeed and I was able to impress a full house.
8.) Eat at unique or new restaurants. I happily live in a food mecca. Washington D.C, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York have diverse cuisines from all over the globe. Just recently a new Phillapeno restaurant called Bad Saint opened up on 11th street in D.C and I am just hankering to go. I get that it can be pricey to eat out often so I highly advice that you eat with good friends, and share appetizers. Groupon is good to an extent, however, several restaurants are demanding customers pay extra since they proclaim they don’t make enough through the Groupons, alone. In order for me to keep track of food trends for future articles, I take a picture of the menu, images, and people. I jot down notes on the taste, visual, and experience too. I also take it a step further and look up certain dishes, their cultural ties, and even on how an amateur chef could possibly concoct this at home. Great writers ask questions and dig further for more information.
9.) Be Padma Lakshmi. So I am not telling you to go into modeling or to be a host of a tv show. When I say be Padma Lakshmi I mean take the food industry by storm. Be fearless and take a risk. Say you want to write for “Food and Wine” but you are scared of rejection. Just do it. Say you really want to learn how to make a souffle but you are scared of failing at it. Just do it. Lakshmi braved the modeling field and smartly grasped the food industry by being the premier host for Top Chef, writing books (Love, Loss and What We Ate: A Memoir), and by immersing herself into different culinary cuisines. She has also branded herself as a fierce food writer as well through social media, networking opportunities and through self-growth.
I’ve taken my own advice from going to trade shows into being Padma Lakshmi, and have grown a lot over the years as a food writer. What I learned about food writing is that food writers are not only writers but social media mavens, networkers, chefs, artists, risk-takers, and also food scientists. Food writers are the Jack’s (or Jackie’s) of all trade and that’s what we do. We do everything.