Chapter XVII

because you never know someone from the very beginning


April 2009

Hello world!

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Was six months ago I last saw my dad alive. Six months yesterday, actually. I need to work out. I did not say "more" as that would imply I work out at all now. Heading over the Manhattan Bridge now on the Q! Daughter entering major attachment phase. So am I. Is it really going to pour today? Speaking on a panel this afternoon in front of lots of women entrepreneurs for Astia – very excited to be part of that. But I have tv commentator hair today…time to call Patrick. Brookyln Bridge is really quite beautiful. Made simple delicious pea soup the other day (maybe four ingredients). Good excuse to eat a dollop of creme friache. It's Monday.

Magnolia Update!!

Breaking news!  Just moments ago I received an email from Magnolia in response to my note, postedMagnolia below.  I have written back and thanked her for reaching out.  In these days of challenging economic  times and companies turning inward for survival, it's refreshing to have a company reach back out in response to feedback – and in this case, really really quickly.  Also, it's great to know that there is someone on the other end – that companies are more than just Facebook fan pages (typically, lame) but they are people.

Kudos, Magnolia.  I will go back (and will ask for the always delicious Hummingbird Cake, if they have it handy).

Hi Kylie,

I’m so sorry to hear of your bad experience at the
Rock Center
location.  Thank you for taking the time to write and let us know. 
We thrive on customer feedback and always value the opportunity to right a
wrong and learn from our mistakes.    

Thanks for providing the details of the cupcake type and the
time—I’m going to speak with the managers and bakers to see if we
can track down the problem.  We make the cupcakes in small batches
throughout the day to ensure we present the world with the freshest goodies
that we can.  I can assure you that we do not use mixes, packages,
pre-made batter, preservatives or artificial flavorings; we make everything here
on the premises from scratch.   We also make every effort to control
the temperatures in the stores, but with the crazy hot one day, cold the next
weather, we have to work extra hard to guard our goodies from the adverse
affects of mother nature!

You mentioned that you have had quite a few Magnolia
cupcakes in the past.  I hope that one bad cupcake will not cancel out
your fond memories of past delicious cupcakes.  I see from your bio info
that you have a daughter (and that you and your husband frequently cook at
home), and I’d love to send you our cookbook and perhaps you can create
some fond Magnolia memories in your own kitchen.  The cupcake (and icing!)
recipes in the book are the exact same ones we use in the bakery.

If you can shoot me your address, I’ll drop a cookbook
in the mail for you.

Again, we appreciate the feedback and I hope you’ll
give us another chance to live up to our reputation.



This is a Test

Right now look up at the ceiling. Now, without looking down, do remember what you are wearing today? I did this and for the life of me could not recall what top I am wearing (thank God I am actually wearing one). Took me a good minute to remember what shirt I have on. Verdict: age? ADD? general lack of awareness?

Bad Cupcake at Magnolia??? Say it isn’t SO!

Dear Mr. Abrams:

It’s a sad day when I wish had not consumed a cupcake.  Today is that day.  It’s not because I have an issue with eating food like cupcakes, or am trying to lose weight.  Nothing like that.  Rather, it was just a bad cupcake.  Cupcakes hold such promise, a small bit of joy.  To eat a bad one is worse than eating say, a bad sandwich, because you just don’t have the same level of expectation with a sandwich.  Cake and frosting – it has to be good!

It was not.  I had a vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting.  The cake was dry.  The frosting tasted more like sugar than chocolate, with no reference to buttercream whatsoever.  I love the buttercream.  I have had many a Magnolia cupcake of the same variety and I bet I could identify one with my eyes closed.  But this one, well, this one could just as easily come from Key Food or D’Agostino’s.  Truly, a disappointment.

Maybe I just got a bad one, or perhaps my tastebuds have changed.  Or, I could be alone here – if sales are through the roof and people seem to love them on the whole, then count me and my tastebuds as the outlier.  But at 2PM I was practically alone in the store (49th and 6th, by the way).  Based on the lack of traffic, I suspect something isn’t right and it just might be the cupcakes.

There is good news.  As I walked back to my office with the cupcake box in hand, no fewer than five people asked me what was in the box.  Perhaps it was the spring in my step (cupcake eating anticipation walk) that attracted attention, but I think not.  People are excited about cupcakes and wanted to know where I got one.

Lastly, perhaps I am not your target consumer, but I doubt that.  I have attached my bio below for a bit of context on who I am, for what that is worth.  I do hope you will take this feedback to heart.  Magnolia is such a great brand and it would be a shame to see it tarnished by less than delicious cupcakes.

Kind regards,


Tonight!  From my kitchen…

Carbonara, close to this recipe (it was awesome.  would have been even better with a little cut green onion over the top at the end)
Parmesan Crisp Cups
Goat Cheese Mousse (to fill above cups)
Lemon curd to fill the delicious Pavlova (recipe from Epicurious

The carbonara was for dinner tonight (and breakfast tomorrow morning – it is bacon and eggs, after all). 

The rest, prep for tomorrow night's dinner which will be as follows:

Parmesan Cups with Goat Cheese Mousse
Steamed Artichokes with lemon butter
Mustard roasted red snapper over spinach
Pavlova with Berries and lemon curd.

Hungry?  :-) 

Every Day

I try to put my daughter to bed most every night and I do not always succeed.  Typical weekday ritual: home around 7pm, complete Olympic-like relay baby hand-off with nanny, grab milk, put baby to bed by 7:15.  Tonight I will not do this; rather…

Tonight I am heading to an event to remember the life of a friend who died not too long ago.  He was 23.

I moved offices yesterday.  I had a nice corner office with two sides of windows.  Only problem was, it was drafty and freezing most all of the time.  I now have a smaller but warm office.  Unexpected benefit: moving offices forces you to throw things away and the overall change of venue can be refreshing.  And, as a NYC resident, I am not comfortable with lots of space.  I prattle about too much.

Further on the office move, I have found that moving offices, re-arranging furniture and going through a closet can be great ways to deal with loss or change.  Each activity feels like a rebirth of sorts and I now realize, these are ways I have often coped with change.  And it's worked.

My new office looks into the Conde Nast offices.  I may purchase a spy glass to see if I can get an early glance at next month's Vogue.

Do you know how to properly use "everyday" versus "every day"?  Click here.

I have had a terrible Lent.  No discipline.  No give up, really.  No sacrifice.  I simply don't know where my head has been. 

I had a friend tell me the other night that when he happened across my blog, he backed up to day 1 and read every single post.  And he said he felt he got to know me much better than he had through our face to face interactions!  I was flattered and fascinated.  First off, it was really cool to have someone spend that time reading this.  Second, it's amazing that we can express ourselves so differently from one medium to the next.  Or maybe we just express more in one place versus another.  Anyway, interesting learning.  I have said before I am very curious what other friends would write about if they blogged.  I only know a few of the authors of blogs I regularly read.  And with two exceptions, none of them are friends.  They are all business relationships.

I almost never read business books.

There was a time in life when I ran not every day but several times a week.  I need to become a morning person to make that happen now.  That also means I need to be less of a night person.  Both changes sound herculean to me.

I have been unsubscribing a lot lately.  Pairing back. 

Do you have daily rituals that make you happy?  I don't really (other than morning coffee) but have been thinking about this lately.  Some people always read the paper.  Others read a poem a day.  I try to eat at least one thing a day that I have cooked; I try to talk to a family member every day.  I try to have a couple of real phone conversations with friends over the course of a week (not an email or facebook conversation – rather, phone, live chat).  I love routines and rituals and learning about other peoples' habits (some people eat radishes every day; others start each morning by sharpening pencils; then there are a whole bunch of people who don't feel whole if they miss Jon Stewart.) 

What do you do? 


Oh wherefor art thou, Springtime!

That McDonald's Fillet o' Fish commercial is irritatingly catchy; I laugh every time I see it.  I would be more inclined to watch commercials if they were entertaining.  Or, meaningful to me.  We will be in the market for a car in about a year.  I would love to put some specs out there somewhere and have targeted ads come to me via TV.  We may refinance our mortgage soon.  We are always looking for engaging toys for Avery.  I need a few new pair of shoes.  Hello, Brands…any takers? 

I am a total sucker for cheesy Goo Goo Dolls songs.

My HBS 10th reunion is coming up this May.  I am truly stunned that I graduated from business school a decade ago.  It flew.  I guess that means I have been having a good time.

Just started using the convection feature on our oven.  Pretty excited about it.  Almost as good as the self-cleaning feature, which is really really good.

How are you feeling these days about life and the economy?  My sense is that we are all getting used to the challenges of the last several months, and maybe realizing life goes on, one foot in front of the other and we will be ok.  It's tough, but we will be ok.

Need a little inspiration?  Check out this organization: Do Something.  Kids with major impact.

If you know of a company that has great video content for kids or moms, contact me.  I have a company with fantastic distribution for kids and moms and they are looking for TV programming.

As hard as it is out there, I feel truly lucky that my daily work is interacting with entrepreneurs that still think they can change the world, or at least some piece of the world.  Surrounding yourself with optimists is a great life strategy.  If I do say so myself.

Note to self, add more backgammon to life.  Maybe chess and perhaps poker as well.  Would also love to learn to play bridge.

Avery piano I may have mentioned before that my dad had a massive collection of classical recordings.  At its height, he probably had about 10,000 LPs, 5,000-6,000 CDs, and several thousand cassettes.  Then add in the books and magazines about classical music that he had been collecting since age 5.  He especially loved classical piano.  He would have loved this picture.

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