Forty Hours in Philly

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I was lucky enough to support the opening of the first Nordstrom Rack in Philadelphia. I'd never been to Philly and had heard great things, so I was really looking forward to the trip. Although I didn't get to the Liberty Bell like my grandparents told me I had to, the city of Brotherly Love did not disappoint.

Let's just call the Liberty Bell and the Rocky Steps and Philly cheese steaks my glass slippers to get me to come back this summer when Raz and I have a week between two east coast weddings. Reason enough, right?

We're in the middle of moving so, for now, a photo diary of my short time in Center City. If you're ever in Philly, it's an amazingly cute area full of brick, old school charm, shoppingggg and a whole lot of history I really need to expl*9ore9 <-- Harrison James wrote that.

Happy Style Hunting, Philly!
Such cool lighting on the street. 
Nordstrom Rack + historical building, yes. 
The cutest little restaurant a block from the store. Called Dandelion. Good, British-inspired food, too. 

I really need to try this place. Who's had it? Should I?
Really, really cool art installments and murals around the city. 
Yelp and Instagram told me this place was good. I didn't get to it, but it was PACKED, so it's on my list for next time.
I meannn, I try to avoid gut bombs while traveling, but I was tempted. Raz had a cheese steak in Seattle in my honor. It counts.
Churches! History!

The new Nordstrom Rack is at 1700 Chestnut St. Check it out if you get the chance! 

Brand Next Door - Seattle Humane Society (+Kitten Pics!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

This is a very special post. I'm so glad I thought to write it because Seattle Humane deserves every kudos I can give it. When we lost my beautiful Mittens - my last childhood pet - from heart failure while we were out of the country (It was so awful - she hid it from us so we wouldn't worry. Apparently they do that), I was devastated. She was my last physical tie to my former life. The life I had with my dad, my parents, my teenage awkwardness and so much more.

I cried myself to sleep for days.

Where's Mittens? She blends!
She was OB-SESSED with ice cream. It almost became an issue.
And then I took action. I scoured the interwebs looking for someone fluffy to follow in her very special footsteps. I asked my cousins in Waterville if there were any barn kittens available. Side note: my family has paid just once for a cat, and that was when we lived in Olympia. Tasha Marie couldn't find the litter box for the life of her and eventually got eaten by coyotes (we think). We lived kind of in the woods. Regardless, we were much more successful with barn cats who seemed more capable of fending off predators. So, after Mittens, we decided we only get our cats fo' free.

After a few days of aggressively stalking the internet and torturing Raz with kitten pictures (the responsibility of a dog just doesn't make sense for our current lifestyle), Facebook told me that Seattle Humane Society was having an event called CATAPALOOZA. For one weekend, all cats and kittens would be FREE.

I knew it was the event for us.

Long story short, Catapalooza was a completely fabulous concept and we got our beautiful Prima out of it, but BOY was my anxiety on overload. SO MANY PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. Aggressive people. Cat-loving people. I can't fault them since we were all there for the same reason, but they really had no shame. They pushed, they cut, they elbowed, one guy stepped on my foot and tried to joke with Raz that he probably steps on my foot while we're dancing. Okay? It. Was. Weird.

But, this was the result:
ISN'T SHE THE CUTEST THING? Look at those claws.

I found Prima in a tent full of black kittens actively climbing the walls. Once I was finally allowed inside the tent, I saw her crouched in the corner like she didn't want to be there either. I knew we were kindred. I picked her up and didn't let her go. Raz came in frantically looking for "that cute and tiny tabby." Little did he know I already had her on lock. She was just about six weeks then. She smelled like a horse barn. She slept in her carrier all the way home and as we were merging onto I-5 from I-90 and I was explaining to Raz how you never know what you're getting with a kitten and how fun it is to discover their little personalities, she started SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER and pushing her face against the carrier. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about an exorcism. Raz and I looked at each other and knew we were in for it.

It's been a little over a year and she has been a wild, independent, incredible blessing. I've never encountered a cat with more energy, more sass or a higher bounce. But, it's become pretty clear how lonely she is. She stares out the windows and meows at the neighbor cats longingly. Even our pet sitter told us she would benefit from a friend.
A rare moment of loving on me. Prima and her Pendleton.

So when we got the house, Raz said we could get another kitten after Thanksgiving. I can't help that Seattle Humane just happens to pop at the top of my Facebook feed every day, or that their marketing team does a bang-up job. Because last week I saw this and again I knew:
It took some convincing, but ultimately Raz couldn't resist either.
So on Friday, we headed out after work to find Prima a baby brother. Traffic was HORRENDOUS and the shelter was picked over, but I had already filled out the paperwork, so I left it with the volunteer team to file for pre-approval. Then I started to work on Raz agreeing to my taking his mom back in the morning.

Again, I wore him down and the MIL and I headed out the next morning on Mission: Kitten Brother. Seattle hated everyone on Queen Anne last weekend so it cut off everyone's freeway access and I had to go all the way around the city, pushing the time I would get to Seattle Humane to much closer to opening than I would have preferred. 

Once we got there, my friend Amy came to join us and we moved inside with the (very long) line. I gloated about my pre-approval, but apparently I still had to put my name on a list and wait to be called. Try watching a bunch of other people take kittens home right in front of you while you wait a half hour to hear your name called and tell me how much you pace. At least my Fuel score was happy.

While I waited, I tried to curb my anxiety by chatting with the volunteer staff and studying up on the place that has given me so many blessings. Here's what I found:
What Sets Seattle Humane Society Apart
  • We are an independent, nonprofit organization. We are not affiliated with city or county animal shelters or with any other humane society locally or nationally.
  • We save more than 6,000 animals a year. With no time limits.
  • We achieved a 97.9 percent Live Save Rate in FY 2013, one of the highest in the nation.
  • 80 cents of every dollar donated benefits the animals. Your donation goes directly to the care of homeless pets.
  • We are a 4-Star Charity. Charity Navigator has rated us among the top 4% of U.S. charities.
  • 80% of our budget comes from donations. We receive no local, state or federal funding.
IN CASE I DIDN'T LOVE THEM ALREADY. 

By the time my name was called, the volunteer team was very clued into how anxious I was feeling and invited me into the hall to preview the kittens coming out. And that was when I saw him.

Harrison James Popa, everyone!
The dustiest of dusty grey kittens. He is the sweetest little man. He always has his motor on, ACTUALLY KNEADS ME, sleeps through the night and /798/* <--- just wrote that. He and Prima are figuring each other out, but we have high hopes. They've already progressed further than the ASPCA told us they would three days in. She chases him and bites his butt and he threatens her with a (playful!) hiss/groan. We appreciate that he stands his ground. 

Just snoozing and kneading the air, nbd.
We'll see how it all goes. For now, we're a complete, happy little family. I can't wait to see what happens next. 

Like Seattle Humane on Facebook - you won't regret it. 


How To Get Anyone To Accept Your "Invitation to Connect" on LinkedIn

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Since I conceptualized this blog as a place where I could talk about how we're all brands, I thought it might be time to talk about what building a brand next door looks like. And since it makes its presence known in my inbox pretty much daily, I'm going to start with LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a beautiful thing. I believe in it. I was an early adopter of it. I've seen it work wonderful magic on many careers.

And I rant about it constantly. #AngryTweet

You see, LinkedIn is a professional tool - IMO - used to connect you to colleagues, friends, business partners, vendors, clients, potential sales leads and job candidates, etc. It opens doors. I believe that. I do.

But people abuse it. They spam. They ask for meetings and connections when I have never gotten an email or introductory note from them. They try to sell me tools I don't need with "InMail"s riddled with spelling errors and extra exclamation points. The worst ones try to use me to connect to others in my organization.

So if you're wondering how you can get anyone to accept your request, there are three ways I've found to be most effective.

I accept invitations from people I've:
  1. Met
  2. Emailed with
  3. Gotten a personalized message from - even... 
Hi Whitney,

Your professional experience looks really interesting. I'd love to take you to coffee next time I'm in Seattle and learn more about what kind of social media monitoring tools would make your job easier. 

Hope to talk soon!

...would be better than...

Since you are a person I trust, I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

It's nice to be trusted by someone I've never met. I'm flattered. But not flattered enough to accept the connection. It really doesn't feel very satisfying to do that. It feels kind of gross in my gut, honestly. Because I don't like having to deny a connection, but I also don't like getting spammed.
Hiiii, here I am, looking pensively off into the sky. That's the face of a chick who's saying "Please don't add me unless you know me."

I get it. Sometimes LinkedIn finds your address book and you accidentally hit the button that sends requests to us all. Sometimes it shows you "People you may know" with the little button that just says "Connect." BUT YOU HAVE ALREADY EMAILED WITH US, so we'll probably accept. We don't need that extra effort. I work in social media every day. I used to compile reports about the weekly updates to LinkedIn. I don't know everything, but I know a lot about a few things. And I know it's easier to hit a button than it is to write out a personalized note. I also know that shouldn't keep you from doing it.

I'm talking about those people who trust me when we've never interacted in any capacity, the people who really want to sell me something - or worse - sell my colleagues something and haven't heard back from them. Or even the recent college grads (I really do love you, recent college grads. Go Vandals!) who add me as a connection saying you want to know about my current role. It's all right there. On the internets. I took the time to write it all out for you.  

What really makes me sad, though, is it's all so simple. It really is about a human connection. You're on LinkedIn because you want to know people, to move up in the world, to build a professional network of ambassadors who will go to bat for you and help you climb the proverbial corporate ladder. If you're like me, you want to learn and grow and progress and become a valuable mentor to someone else. 

But you're not going to get there just by clicking buttons to tell strangers you trust them. You have to put in more time. Because time is valuable and we're all operating in 140 characters or fewer. I've been the one hungry for the connection - I still am - and I can answer your "How did you get where you are?" question by telling you I put in a little more effort than I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.   
It's really incredible how far a personal touch and a little research can go.

Side note: Since I get requests so often, I'm considering starting a mini video series answering some of the FAQs I get about career path, tips for success, etc. I'm by no means and expert, but I have learned a lot in the past several years. Please let me know if you're interested. I'm not going to invest the time if it won't be helpful.

Happy Friday eve, everyone!

4 House Things I Need Right NOW (And One I Already Have)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Raz and I signed the papers for our house last night (!!!!!!!!!!!) and while he is looking at ladders and moving pads, I'm in FULL FURNITURE SHOPPING mode. I've started opening my morning flash sale emails instead of sighing and deleting them all. I'm going NUTS on Pinterest. I'm a furnishing, visualizing machine.

I have yet to make a purchase.

I can't just buy things without getting in tune with the place first. Feeling its vibes. Beating my family and their hand-me-downs away (Carolvilla is VERY aggressive when it comes to offloading "heirlooms"). Editing down the few things I do allow through our doors. Raz and I are planning for it all. And it will be good.

For now, a taste of my (our?) wish list. Much more to come.

What would life be without faux furry little stool/ottomans
I'm going back and forth on my chandis. I will have at least two traditional ones, and something like this in the dining room. 
CAN WE JUST TAKE A MOMENT FOR THIS BED? We'll probs have to be more DIY. Champagne dreams, man. 
Obsessing over beautiful, "simple but significant" shower curtains. This one has an amazing, subtle subway tile design. 
And I already have this, so at least there's some progress happening. Welcome home :).
Owning a home is such a big deal to us. We (mostly I) can't wait to kick my slip-covered couches to the curb and make some adult purchases. I'm going to have a garden, people. WE JUST INHERITED A ROOMBA. We named him Alejandro because having only female Roombas is sexist. Raz said I can get Prima a brother after Thanksgiving! I'm going to be deliciously, disgustingly boring. I can't wait.

Book Club - "After Ever After"

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I promised I would and I did - I read the sequel to Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie. I have no shame in admitting I will likely read the occasional YA book for the rest of my life. Adolescent angst just speaks to me.

Also, since I got the first installment at the most amazing Little Free Library ever, I'm going to pop this one in there in case the prime donors haven't read it. I'm LFL's biggest fangirl and will def be visiting my little happy place long after Raz and I move. Plus, it's free, so how could Raz deny me?

They're selling Stumptown Cold Brew at TJ's now. Not as good as Anchorhead, but still worth a go.  
After Ever After follows the little brother from the first book, Jeffrey, once he hits 8th grade (the age his brother, Steven, was when Jeffrey was diagnosed with leukemia in the first book). Just like last time, I'm not going to get into any spoilers, but I will say it's a wonderful read full of lessons some of us don't learn until much, much later. And I can also say for any of us who have watched cancer make a big mess of things, it's no The Fault in Our Stars. It's tolerable and wrought with goodness. It won't make you clench your jaw and look up to keep the tears from spilling. AEA is a nice little departure from the day to day - a real life exploration of the hormone-laced time that calls itself middle school.

Check out the full description here - it's eligible for Prime.

What have you been reading lately? Hit me with reccos in the comments.

City Next Door - Greenville, SC

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

So, it's not exactly next door to me, but it is next door to other places. And on Friday, we opened a brand new Nordstrom Rack in between Costco and Cabela's (Raz's dream come true!) - in Greenville, SC.

I was lucky enough to be on the ground supporting the opening and had some time to explore one morning. Herewith, my photo diary of my first time to South Carolina.

One of the founders of the area - this city LOVES its statues. If I ever brought my grandparents here, I'd have a hard time dragging them away from all the "hysterical" (my fam's word for "Historical" since Grandma and Papa can't get enough of them) sites.
A beautiful Baptist Church is just par for the course.
This city loved its bikes, its meat and its ice cream. My kind of place! They even had a beef jerky outlet - NO JOKE. Also, how do we not have a bike share in Seattle? I wanna ride around like Leo does in NYC. Not really, but I want the option. #realtalk
See? It really loves its bikes.
More statues. These were the first black students to attend the local high school. So much history here. 
Ice cream. Yes.
Greenville's downtown was surprisingly hopping. I imagine some of that had to do with its Oktoberfest, which kicked off while I was there. No, I did not attend, but I considered it. 
So. Much. Cuteness.
Bahhh, all the details everywhere were beyond photographable. I couldn't get over this little green and white moment. 
Clean, pretty, visitor-friendly city.
This - and the beef jerky outlets - is reason enough to come back. 
A picture is worth at least two words here :). 
BRB gotta look up "Tory." Still cool, though. 
River running through the city. It was so pretty.
At first I was like "Whaaaaa?" And then I got it - Breast Cancer Awareness month, y'all. 
This Army & Navy Store screams classic Americana. I loved it so much, I instagrammed it.
Another view of the little river and its dam full of geese.

Greenville was such a pretty, happy little city. Whenever I travel somewhere new I think about how different our lives could be based solely on where we choose to live. What a gift seeing this world is, and ohhhh how much more of it I want to see. 

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