Posts from May 2006

"The Four Day (Work Week) Challenge" by Ryan Carson on 'A List Apart' is a Must Read

For the past few months, I have struggled with how to 'balance' a full time job, building a business and having a life. The truth is it is not working. I often feel the same struggle is experienced by a number of my clients and friends. So I really enjoyed reading "The Four Day Week Challenge" by Ryan Carson on the new edition of 'A List Apart'. He offers a number of constructive ideas such as cutting down on  interruptions be it IM, e-mail, meetings so your focus can be on what you are doing. Another point he raises is that no one will be able to get everything done no matter how many days and hours they work. It reminds me of a speech by Tom Peters back in May 2001 suggesting 'to-dont-lists' as a way to reduce time and mind clutter. I agree with Ryan Carson that being always on the 'treadmill' is not the best way to be energinized and getting fresh ideas. Besides that having a life outside work makes you a better person.
So read Ryan's piece and join the discussion he started. My older sister in France actually works 4 days every other week and loves these 3 day week-ends.
Ryan runs Carson Systems with his wife Gillian.

Besides Bresaola, the Valtellina valley in the Italian Alps has much to offer

Bresaola While searching for more info on Bresaola, cured beef from Italy, I learned quite a few things about the Valtellina valley in the Italian Alps where it originated. To be more precise the Valtellina is located above Lake Como and near the Swiss border. I discovered Bitto, a local cheese that I have not had the chance to taste yet whose name is said to have celtic roots. The cheese blends cow milk with 10 to 20 percent goat milk. I was not surprised to see that slow food fans took a liking to the region. Besides food and wine, the area also offers many options to outdoors fans (ski, hiking, rock climbing, lakes...) and is also famous for its spas and thermal baths in Bormio.

'Mushroom Caves' in the Loire Valley are now a tourist destination

One of the Mushroom Growers in the Loire Valley, Jacky Roulleau Jacky of Champignonniere St Maur near Saumur offers a 45 minutes guided tour of his 'Live Cave of Mushrooms'. You can visit every day from March to October. One of his rising stars is 'pieds bleus' (blue feet) mushrooms. They cannot be eaten raw. You can buy some of his products after your visit.

Mushrooms started being grown in the area after the stables of the Cavalry where moved to Saumur.

After spending some time in the caves, you might enjoy a visit to the museum holding the 'Tapestry of the Apocalypse' in Angers.

'She finds Mom' motto is 'We shop the Web so you don't have to'

Michelle Madhok founded and in 2004 to share her online shopping tips with busy women. The product and service reviews are short and to the point and illustrated by a picture of the item described. I discovered her site on BurstBlog where she was one of the first featured writers since BlogBurst launched its syndication service this week. Being that most of our clientele at New Jersey Concierges is women, I thought it would be worth it to bring attention to Michelle's work.
As you might know 'Serge the Concierge' is one of the many blogs who signed up with 'BlogBurst'

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Say Cheese, Big and Rich, 'St Simeon' from the Brie region of France

If you look for a big and rich creamy cow milk's cheese, my latest discovery is St Simeon. Simeon The cheese is sold in a plastic shell to prevent its soft self to make an ungodly mess. It is poured into shape with a laddle, has a lightly (edible) orange rind, 60 % (fat) content. It is made by the 'Fromagere de la Brie' in St Simeon since 1929.
Perfect way to finish your meal, suggested accompaniments would be a salad and nuts or fruits. Well why not make a salad and add some nuts and apples or pears to it. Have a glass of champagne with it, enjoy.

We at New Jersey Concierges can also help you plan a cheese and wine party.

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In Japan, 'Golden Week' counts 4 Holiday in 7 days, the first week of May

While we are all busy here in the States, Japan slows down and travels to mark 'Golden Week' in the first week of May with four different holidays in 7 days. It actually started on April 29 with 'Greenery Day' celebrating nature and draws to a close with 'Children's Day' on May 5th.
Many countries celebrate Labor Day on May 1st but in the US we do that in September.
I found out about 'Golden Week' while checking PingMag, a Tokyo based online Design magazine.

What about a Hip House Hunt?

Anything to do with Real Estate is usually a chore. Three smart ladies, Linda, Mindy and Jane who happen to be realtors in my hometown of Montclair, New Jersey, want to change that experience and I guess by changing it, gain new clients and some buzz.
Their Hip House Hunt site breaks the experience of house buying in small pieces. It also covers things to do around town all year round and places where things are happening. In a nutshell they look at houses as places to live not purely an investment, a refreshing perspective.

A blog with regular updates and timely tips would be a nice addition.

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'Nuts about Southwest', the Southwest Airlines blog got me dreaming of unknown places

A week ago today Southwest Airlines launched its blog Nuts about Southwest. It is not hawking its products but rather sharing travel tips and things to do when you arrive at your destination.
I like their natural, conversational tone. You can tell that it is not written by the PR department.
I actually heard about it first from new zealander Rachel Cunliffe. Her footnote about liking to know why people travel brought back to mind the fascination that trains had on me when I was a kid. I would walk to the train station while living in Brest and watch trains come and go. I would have the same dreamy thoughts in Toulouse when trains full of Italian pilgrims on their way to Lourdes would be in the station. I took the 'Talgo' Talgo_logo_1 train once or twice from France to Barcelona and enjoyed its comforts.
Some of the train stations in Europe's main cities would also list a dizzying array of destinations. They would bring you through many different time zones, languages and cultures. It brings back to mind Kraftwerk and their ode to the 'Trans Europe Express'. Travel is also about discovering the unknown.

'Agua De Valencia' versus 'Agua Loca', a latin twist on cocktails

Reading Jonathan Miles piece "Shaken and Stirred,Sangria's Bold Cousin" in yesterday's New York Times on Agua Loca reminded me of a very late evening many years ago (or should I say early morning) spent in a boisterous and authentic cafe in the old city of Valencia (Spain) sharing a pitcher of Agua de Valencia with a Valenciana that I met at an open air concert by no less than Milton Nascimento. Souvenirs, souvenirs...

On Mother's Day, 'Give the Gift of Time', a gift these special ladies in your life crave

With Mother's Day coming soon (May 14), we suggest that you give these special women in your life (grandmother, mother and better half) a gift they crave, free time.
They might need help with their never ending to do list or simply want someone to do it for them so they can reclaim a few hours to breathe, sleep, read, catch a movie, go to the spa or anything else that strikes their fancy.
This is what we at New Jersey Concierges and Montclair Concierges call 'Give the Gift of Time'.
Feel free to offer our services to these special ladies if you live in northern New Jersey.

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