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The Hard Is What Makes It Great

July 16, 2017

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About a month and a half ago I took these photos with my dear friend Erin in Florida during a long weekend. I had originally thought that this post would revolve around the weekend’s experiences of staying in a luxury hotel in Orlando, and unpack the power of being spontaneous. However, more and more I’m pulled to share that the true story is so much deeper, and has been developing for a well over a year, if not was always adding up to this moment.

About a year ago this time I was fraught with anxiety over the uncertainty of what comes next after grad school, questioning where was I meant to be, where I was to live, and wondering what was I going to pursue next in my career path. I remember randomly (or not so randomly) stumbling across the concept of “Non-attachment” in a blog post I was reading online and sensed it was an important way of thinking, but then had no idea how to apply it, or even truly understand how important it really is.

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It finally came together for me last weekend when-when my friend Erin and I reunited again in Burlington, Vermont. It was then that I faced death twice. To even type the words that I almost died instantly puts things into perspective. I hesitated even to write this post, but I think a part of one’s healing is sharing the messages you learn in dire times with others so that as many people as possible can grow, and we all can learn unique life lessons, and heal together in some way.

Within just a couple hours of being together, my friend had a seizure behind the wheel and completely lost control of the car. It was a miracle that no one got hurt and my friend was able to receive immediate medical attention. I’m a very spiritual person and although I was very shaken up from the experience, I was amazed that I was put in Erin’s path to protect her from a potentially very life-threatening outcome, and that I too was saved from harm.

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That Sunday when Erin was released from the hospital, her mom and I convinced her she would be safer at home with family and friends near, so we drove from Vermont back to her parents home outside of Boston. It wasn’t until we were feet from the exit on the highway we were supposed to take, that another car lost control and hit us at high speeds that caused the car we were in to hit the guardrail and go flipping 6-8 times in the air and crash into a tree at full force. We were able to free ourselves from the totaled vehicle and soon after emergency help came to the scene to assist us. The three of us received cuts, bruises, and minor head injuries,  but crawled out of that car alive.

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Looking at all the factors of the crash, we almost certainly should not be alive. This past week I’ve tried my best to return to my routine, but things such as driving over a bump while on the way to work, or hearing an ambulance in the distance, I’m instantly reminded of what happened. It feels so heavy. Thankfully, I’ve had the support of family and coworkers to get me through this. I’m left reflective of how fleeting life is and how instead of holding onto the trauma of the crash, I’m consciously choosing to let it go. This does not mean I’m indifferent to what happened, but rather that I accept that I’ve been given a life that could end at any moment and that I chose to see the beauty instead of focus on the fear.

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Non-attachment refers to the state of mind of being objective and not clinging, and it springs from a deep consideration of the conditions of human existence. So just as you can hold a picked flower in your hand, being well aware that the flower will wilt and die in a matter of days, taking in the smell and beauty of the flower, you can live your entire life savoring every moment knowing that in each moment everything can change and that it ultimately will.

Non-attachment is a state of mind that will help you both in times of joy and sorrow. Life is a mixture of pleasure and pain, of comfort and hardship. We cling to pleasure, hoping that it will never fade, and we are overwhelmed by pain, fearing that it will never end. By practicing non-attachment, we become able to endure difficult moments with a certain sense of ease, knowing that—as a wise saying goes—this too shall pass. In the same way, we can enjoy the beautiful moments of life without being tainted by the fear that they will end—as they undoubtedly will. For me, this means looking at each day as a gift and through the good and the bad at least I’m still breathing.

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All this doesn’t mean that I now live in uncertainty, fearing that everything I rely upon could fall apart at any given moment. Quite the opposite, not being attached to success and failure, or pleasure and pain, brings you back into connection with the only thing that is invariably present, stable, and safe: your center of pure awareness and pure love.

Accepting the impermanence of life means reshaping all of our beliefs about existence—but thanks to this process, the possibility arises for us to love unreservedly, without conditions, and without fear.

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Photography by Suzi Ibanez

This mantra has helped me a lot lately in processing the reality of facing near-death. I hope it can somehow help you too in your respective journey.

I am loved.

I have loved

I am love.

Blog-Signature-Hannah

Eat Local: Evo Kitchen + Bar

July 14, 2017

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As a Maine-native, I’m always on the search for new, healthy local dining experiences. You can imagine my excitement when I stumbled across a farm-to-table restaurant in downtown Portland called, Evo Kitchen + Bar. Located at 433 Fore Street, Evo is an open-style kitchen that serves fresh, locally sourced meals. Today on the blog I’m touring the restaurant and tasting some delicious menu items, as well as interviewing chef Matt Ginn. I hope you enjoy, or as they say, “Bon Appétit!”

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What inspires you most, and how does that translate to your cooking?

Quite simply, the product and the seasonality. I have many strong relationships with local farmers and enjoy working with them and the product they bring in as the seasons change. 

Where do you see yourself/Evo going in the next five years?

Ha – this is a difficult question as the restaurant world is always changing. Hopefully cooking good food with integrity.

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Can you tell us more about your ingredients and where you source your food from?

I work hyper-seasonally, so the product is ever changing. This time of year is great, the product available changes quickly, which allows us to change the menu frequently. As I mentioned earlier I love the farmer’s market and have direct relationships with many producers. 

What does “Maine food. Bold flavors” mean to you?

Taking a Maine-grown product and using it with out manipulating it too much while complementing it with traditions and spices from the Eastern Mediterranean.

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What makes you different than other restaurants in the area? 

I think the way we toe the line between fine dining and casual. People can come in and do the tasting menu and wine pairings for a special occasion, or just have a quick bite with a drink. We strive to make sure there is a consistently good product. Also, our attention to detail is paramount.

What is your favorite dish you serve and why?

Right now it would be our lamb sausage with yogurt and bulgur dumplings. It is unique and really encompasses what we hope to accomplish here. It is summer in Maine so I choose to create a plate that highlights a very traditional Eastern Mediterranean dish in a more contemporary way.

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After starting with the fried cauliflower dish, I moved on to a Maine classic- Lobster served with mussels, garlic, peppers, and white wine. It was exquisite! It was definitely one of those meals that you couldn’t help but lick the plate when it was all done.

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After finishing the main meal, I took the time to enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee while overlooking the city streets. What’s incredible about Evo is that their floor to ceiling windows span nearly 30 feet high. Between the open-kitchen design and all over windows, there is plenty of people watching and entertainment. It makes for the perfect spot for an after shopping lunch or a date night.

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If you know of any great local restaurants please let me know! I’m always looking to collaborate on blog content and want to empower local businesses in the New England area. Leave me a comment below.

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Thank you, Evo Kitchen + Bar for collaborating on this post!

LOVE,

Blog-Signature-Hannah

Shop Local: Alaina Marie

July 12, 2017

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The other week I introduced you to Alaina Marie and we took a tour of her studio space, and so today the two of us would like to welcome you into her storefront in downtown Portland, Maine.

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One key takeaway from my interview with Alaina was the notion that you may have an idea of what you’d like to accomplish ‘when you grow up’, but there’s no way of knowing the exact path you’ll take to get there. For Alaina, she always knew she wanted to be a designer, but when she was in the beginning stage of her career, she had no idea just how she would become one. In fact, she started her brand by merely making her handbags as gifts for friends, not knowing that so many others would desire one- let alone pay for her work.

That’s the beauty of dreaming and being so passion-driven, sooner or later if you’re meant to do something the Universe will conspire to make that a reality. What is it that you desire to create? Although there’s no way to secure your dream job, there are things you can do to set yourself up for major career success later.

Below are some tips we’d like to share with you:

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Set Intentions, Not Goals

Yes, we are both firm believers that setting goals can keep you focused, but all too often the goals that people set are narrow and somewhat unattainable. We set these goals based on what our peers are accomplishing and we forget that we don’t all have the same starting point. Instead, think about what it is you want to do more of? What’s the ultimate endgame? Instead of setting the goal of being CEO of a company by the age of thirty, think instead about what kind of leader you aspire to be. From there set your intention to be a quality leader and the reality of becoming a CEO will more likely of happening.

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Identify Your True Passion

Your twenties are the best time for career exploration. While it can feel counterintuitive to do so after you’ve invested time, energy, and even finances into pursuing a specific job, there’s really no better time to try something new than right now. Trying new things will allow for you to better understand what it is you like to do best. Ultimately spending your time doing something enjoy will bring you more happiness and will allow for you to excel more within your career.

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Grow Your Network

Network, network, network. The cliché “it’s not always what you know, but who you know” is almost always true and having a solid web of professional contacts will always help you in the end. No matter your industry, be sure to network with as many people as possible. Pass out business cards, send out personalized LinkedIn invitations, or send an email to someone who inspires you within your field. Whatever it is, the worst that someone can say is “No” and ultimately someone you reach out to will say “Yes.” So, don’t be shy. You never know what purpose the people put in your path will serve.

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Soak Up As Much Knowledge As You Can

Whether it is from schooling, internships, or job training- learn as much as you can about your specific field and the working world in general. One of the most useful tools is to have a mentor that you can trust and learn from. Ask questions. Do research and reading on your own time. Listen closely to feedback and constructive criticism so that you can use that input to continuously improve.

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Build Your Brand & Work the Side Hustle

When people think about you as a professional, what do you want to come to mind? Figure that out and then begin putting yourself out there to build a positive brand and reputation for yourself. If you have a job that you’re not satisfied with, but can’t quit, don’t fret, spend your weekends working on your craft and building your portfolio. Sooner or later your chance will come, almost always when you’re least expecting it. Without a doubt, hard work always pays off.

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Head over The Fashion Cookbook’s Instagram to enter our giveaway and have a chance to win your own bait bag! Giveaway ends 7/31 at 11:59 P.M. If you’re not local to Portland, you can order online or check out a list of boutiques that carry Alaina Marie, here.

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LOVE,

Blog-Signature-Hannah

& Alaina

In The Studio With Alaina Marie

June 28, 2017

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“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”- Eleanor Roosevelt

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Today I’d like to introduce you to an especially inspiring woman who proves that having dreams and putting in hard work really does pay off. Meet Maine-based designer, Alaina Marie, who in the past year alone has launched a collaboration with Keds and remodeled her flagship store in Portland’s Old Port. Alaina Marie is a small handbag design company – nautically influenced and made in southern Maine. She designs and manufactures handbags made from a marine-grade mesh – the same material that lobstermen and fishermen use in the commercial fishing industry to catch their prey. How cool is that?!

Late this Spring, Alaina graciously met up with me to discuss her incredible story and show me a closer look at the design process of her successful brand. Here is a closer look I’m eager to share with you all.

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Tell us a little about yourself? 

Born and raised in the state of Maine, I have always been inspired by the coast. At a young age, I had a passion for design and knew that would be my dream job. 
 

What inspired you to start the store?

I acquired my store kind of by accident! When I was starting my business, I rented a small studio space in South Portland so I would have a place to work outside of my home. When I moved in, people started coming in to buy my bags, and of course I couldn’t say no! I soon set up a small show area where I tried to build stock and I kept selling out. This is when I knew I could sell them in a store and so I made it happen! The retail store was not part of my original business plan but happened so naturally. 

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Where do you see yourself in five years

I honestly don’t know! Just like the store kind of just happened, I don’t like to stick to a plan. I love the excitement of knowing that any given day, an opportunity could rise and in an instant change everything. I will say though, I think we are just getting started with what we will do.

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What advice do you have for budding female entrepreneurs?

The advice I would pass along would be to never put limits on yourself. You can do anything you want as long as you’re willing to put the work into it. I often work 14 hour days but to me, the payoff is so worth it. Like I said earlier, I dreamed of becoming a designer when I was little. I had no idea how I would get there, I just knew someday it would happen. 

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Can you tell us about the design process? How do you incorporate your Maine inspiration?

The coast has always been my biggest source of inspiration behind my work. When I see something that makes me feel inspiration, I go with it. I am such a visual person so I love to tack inspirational images or items on my wall. I’ll look at that wall on a daily basis and all of a sudden one day I see the product or design I want to create and that is how it all comes together for me. 

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What do you hope people take away from their experience at shopping at your store?

I just did a remodel of my store on Fore Street and I am so proud of it. With that remodel, we moved our production out of the store and into a separate, larger production studio which is where we make all of our products. Each bag is made by hand from start to finish. So now that I don’t work in the store every day, I want that space to be the best reflection of myself so that when people to come in, they can get a sense of who I am without actually being able to meet them.  

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Photography by Centered Images

Thanks again Alaina!

Much love,

Blog-Signature-Hannah

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